Host of Angels
A Blood Angels Short Story
They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give of themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them, and in the furnace of war forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines so that no foe can best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear.
~The Emperor of Mankind on the Creation of the Space Marines
NO MATTER HOW many times he went over his tale in his head, Romero Xander still found himself awed by his own story. He had lived through centuries of constant warfare, serving his chapter, the first founding Blood Angels. Back when Romero was a boy, a mere ten years old, like his twin brother, Valorous, they set off to Angels Fall on Baal Secundus, a nuclear-blasted desert world, to compete in a series of brutal challenges designed to test both brothers skills to the limit. Both siblings were part of the mere 50 that had been selected out of the thousands that had turned up to participate, the hopefuls being rejected by the Astartes.
Both brothers made exceedingly good progress in the challenges, and in a duelling tournament, they both got to the final, where they were so evenly matched that there was little to call between them. Along with the 50 selected, they were taken to the Blood Angels fortress Monastery, on Baal. There, they suffered more strength-sapping tests that reduced the number to 20. Both brothers passed the tests, and gained the rank of Neophyte.
That moment was when the twins knew that there was no going back. After all, who wouldn’t say no to a glorious life amongst the stars, seeing new worlds and battling new enemies? Not many people could resist the temptations.
Being a Neophyte meant that you weren’t as heavily armoured as the rest of your battle-brothers, and nor did you have the same experience. A Neophyte was also called a Scout. Scouts were grouped into squads of ten led by a veteran Sergeant. Romero remembered being separated by Valorous as this point, both twins put in separate squads. He recalled one of those events with a smile. It was on Carsavior, a world where if you ventured outside, the gases in the air would kill you. It was also Romero’s first confrontation with the archenemy, Chaos, as the Night Lords Legion had spread taint through the governing body of Carsavior, causing a revolt. The result saw Carsavior declaring independence from the Imperium, and allegiance to Chaos. However, as quickly as the Night Lords had arrived, they left the system leaving the rebels to fend for themselves. Knowing that the uprising would be halted with the death of the Governor, now renamed the Herald of Carsavior, the Blood Angels sent a team of Scouts to infiltrate the palace and assassinate the renegade commander...
The young Romero checked his bolt pistol and readied his combat blade as he advanced through the underground of Carsavior. He kept to the shadows, with the rest of his squad. “Remember the mission,” Sergeant Foran uttered so silently that Romero could barely hear him. “The Traitor General must be killed. At all costs.”
“Yes Sergeant,” murmured his squad in response. Romero readied his Bolt Pistol as sounds could be heard from around the corner.
“You hear me! The Emperor’s Lapdogs wouldn’t dare attack a planet like this!” bellowed a voice from around the corner. There was a scuffle and a shout. “We’re too heavily armoured. The Spaceports are too well guarded! They’d never get in!”
Well, evidently the speaker was wrong. The Space Marines didn’t need a mass invasion to gain a foothold underground. All needed was four five-man Scout squads, commanded by Captain Aravor, the master of the recruits. “Ready weapons, brothers,” whispered Foran. “Use Combat Blades; we do not want to alert the enemy to our presence. Keep to the shadows, Blood Angels.”
There were various nods of understandment from the squad. They crept forward, and within a second, Foran was crouching behind several scattered boxes. He held up three fingers to indicate the amount of men. He then counted down.
When his last finger was lowered, the scouts spun around the corner of the underground passageway, keeping to the shadows. The passageway was as large as two Rhinos parked next to each other, so there was plenty of room. Foran had been lucky he hadn’t have already been spotted. The Scouts silently crouched in the shadows, before Foran leapt out and slit the throat of one man, and Romero, who was the first out, knifed the other. The third barely had time to cry out before he was silenced. The Scouts couldn’t believe their luck that only three men patrolled the dark, damp corridor.
“We’d better hide the bodies,” prompted Romero, before the other scouts could comment. "That way, we won't attract any unwanted attention."
The Scouts smiled, and the Sergeant nodded. “Good Observations, Xander. Darec, Maulus.”
“Yes sir?” Maulus raised an eyebrow. He was the youngest of the scouts aside from Romero, a man from the noble families of a world near the Baal system, Exanov Primus.
“You will carry the bodies. Dump them in the sewage pits when we come across them,” replied Foran. “Traitors deserve no proper burial.”
The Scouts advanced until eventually they came to a large, stinking area which was presumably the sewage pits. It was at the end of the corridor, and a tunnel led down towards the maze of rivers which carried the sewage out to the above.
“No wonder hardly anyone guards this place,” Romero offered. “It stinks.”
“Throw them in,” ordered Foran as Maulus and Darec disposed of the bodies. There was a loud crash as they hit the bottom.
“Shit,” swore Maulus quietly. Luckily, nobody was alerted to their presence. “Thank the Emperor.”
Foran grimaced, looking at a torn map of the sewage paths on the side. “Brothers, I may have just found a new way in.”
“Like what?” spat Maulus.
“The Sewage pits,” Foran whispered, and touched their position on the map. “According to the map, the sewage pits lead directly underneath the room in which where the Herald is stationed. There shouldn’t be any guards, so our path would be, in the sense of killing, clean approach to the throne room.”
“Yes,” Darec remarked. “Clean in the sense of bodies lost. But not clean in the sense of smell, we’d stink.”
“Aye,” agreed Romero. “But we marines don’t dawdle on such stuff, do we Sergeant?”
“Aye,” nodded Foran, and pulled out a tangled up rope, and unravelled it down into the sewage pits below. “Maulus, you first.”
“Yes sir,” Maulus remarked, and somewhat reluctantly, climbed onto the rope and began to heave himself down. He leapt the last few paces and landed in greenish water, now containing bits of red blood from the dead men. Romero landed next to Maulus, and felt a soft chunk next to him. It wasn’t his squad mate, but a bit of dead body. He pushed it away, keeping his bolt pistol and combat blade above the mucky water. Sergeant Foran was the last down.
“Look over there,” pointed Darec. “A Sidewalk.”
The four other Scouts followed Darec’s finger, all the time trying to keep themselves above the water. “We head for the sidewalk then,” remarked Foran, swimming towards it. “Remember to keep your bolt pistols dry.”
“Aye sir,” chorused the Scouts, who started swimming after their sergeant.
Eventually, the four marines reached the path way, and heaved themselves up, stinking.
“If this is what it’s like as a Plague Marine then you can count me out,” snarled Maulus. His squad mates chuckled.
“Remember our objective, brothers,” ordered Foran. “With me.”
The Sergeant led the Scouts down the sidewalk until they came to a ladder, with a trap door about half a mile above them. “Now we climb,” Foran ordered. “Follow me.”
He led the Neophytes up the ladder, dripping wet behind them. When Foran reached the top, he heaved open the trap door just a little bit, looking at his surroundings.
“It’s the back of the throne room,” whispered Foran. “Can you believe our luck, brothers?”
“Is there anybody there?” Romero responded silently.
“I cannot see any traitors,” spat Foran. “We make an entrance. Use the smoke grenades and follow suit.”
“Yes sir,” the squad obeyed, as the Sergeant pulled the pin on a smoke grenade that had been attached to his belt, and threw it into the throne room. When smoke started billowing out, the scouts piled out of the trap door, and dashed behind two pillars before anyone could notice.
“What’s going on?” they heard a voice. “What’s happening?”
“Smoke Grenade, fools!” a commanding voice shouted. “The Astartes must be here.”
“How?” complained another. “They were meant to be on corridor 24-7.”
“They used the sewers,” chuckled a voice from behind the Astartes. Within an instant, the smoke was gone, and in its place stood an armoured, staff wielding sorcerer.
“Night Lord,” spat Sergeant Foran. “Why did you not flee with your traitorous brothers?”
“Did you really think that all of the Night Lords had left Carsavior, Sergeant?” asked the sorcerer, smiling beneath his helmet. “Some of us wanted to remain.”
As if on cue, the scouts were surrounded by traitorous men and rebel Astartes alike.
“They stink,” chuckled a former member of Carsavior’s Planetary Defence Force. “Why would anyone want to come through the sewers?”
The scouts remained silent, and readied their bolt pistols and combat blades in response.
Bolter fire could be heard from outside, as well as screams.
“Your fellow Neophytes are coming to aid you,” the sorcerer chuckled. “But they will not break down the door, and you will not have assistance. You will not live.”
“That may be so,” Sergeant Foran snarled. “But we will die honourably.”
Suddenly, a loud noise could be heard.
“They have a Chainfist!” bellowed a Night Lord, turning to face the door as it was broken down. Instead of the recently recruited Scouts that the archenemy had been expecting, there was a Terminator Armoured Veteran of the Blood Angels First Company.
“Terminators!” a traitor guardsman panicked. He turned to the Sorcerer. “You promised that there’d only be recruits!”
“But... how is this possible?” asked the sorcerer, taken aback in shock. “Such a thing, I would have seen this coming.”
“That is why you will die today,” said a voice from behind the Terminator, and instead of Captain Aravor stood a figure looking like he had stepped right out of legend. Wielding a silver sword, he bellowed, “For the Emperor and Sanguinius!”
It was the Chief Librarian of the Blood Angels, the blonde haired, red armoured Mephiston himself. The Sorcerer never saw his death coming as Mephiston unleashed a torrent of physic fury at the traitor, breaking him completely.
“Leave none alive,” ordered Mephiston. “This is our victory day, brothers!”
Romero fired his bolt pistol with the rest of his squad, wondering why Mephiston had appeared in the first place. He wasn’t on the strike cruiser that had taken the 10th to Carsavior. Then a though occurred to him; maybe he had been on the cruiser, maybe, just maybe, Romero didn’t notice him. Or maybe Mephiston and the Terminator squad that accompanied him didn’t want their presence revealed.
‘That was my first mission,’
thought Romero. ‘Now it’s time for my last.’
Almost a century later, on the Planet of Kayvaan, named after the Raven Guard 3rd Captain and the herorics he had performed there, there had been a xenos invasion. Not just your average xenos invasion, but a huge, full scale Ork Waagghh!. As Kayvaan was neighbouring the Blood Angels home planet of Baal, this was a very dire threat to the Blood Angels. Aside from being an Imperial world, Kayvaan was a recruiting ground for the Chapter. And so the Blood Angels deployed in force. The entire fifth battle company under command of Brother-Captain Corgion was deployed to meet the threat, along with elements from the 1st Company, which included both siblings, Romero and Valorous. However, the defence of Kayvaan went badly, and soon the Blood Angels were fighting not just to eradicate the Ork threat, but for their honour, and their lives.
“Incoming!” bellowed Captain Corgion, as another destroyed Ork ship hurtled to the ground beside them, exploding in a ball of flame. The same pattern was being repeated elsewhere, but not in the Ork lines, but in the tanks of the Blood Angels. The Orks seemed to have some sort of tank buster unit capable of piercing even the mighty Land Raiders.
“For the Emperor and Sanguinius!” a Chaplain bellowed the Chapter’s warcry from behind the aegis defence lines as he unleashed a torrent of storm bolter fire towards the incoming enemy. “The Emperor Protects!”
To the left of the Terminator Armoured Chaplain, Romero was holding his own, now a veteran in terminator armour standing next to his brother, Valorous. Those Orks that couldn’t be slain by the one brother were brought low by the other. They were an inspirational pair, displaying true heroism. Indeed, both siblings had saved each other’s lives many times over. Once, when an Ork threw a grenade at Romero’s feet, Valorous picked it up and chucked it fearlessly back into the Ork lines a split second before it exploded. Indeed, Romero repaid the debt minutes later, shooting an Ork Nob trying to throttle his twin to death.
“In the Emperor’s name, we shall know no fear!” the Chaplain yelled, as the Orks continued to assault by the hundreds. “Aim for the banners, demoralize the xeno! Aim for the banners and the leaders!”
The surviving marines obeyed, and the Devastators standing on a ruin which they were defending unleashed a torrent of fire in different directions. Two banners were brought down, and the xenos nearby scattered, before a huge Ork picked up one, and bellowed his dominance with a fearsome warcry roared across a thousand worlds.
Romero didn’t flinch. He had heard the alien’s battle cry several times before. It wasn’t even alien to him anymore. He looked at his brother, his helmet left behind on the Strike Cruiser. His face was now awash with blood, a mixture of Ork and Marine alike. Fortunately, Romero had remembered his helmet. But that still didn’t prevent him from being covered in blood. Foul, Xenos blood.
“Don’t lecture me about helmets again, brother,” remarked Valorous, opening another torrent of fire from his storm bolter. “I could use my free time to do something more entertaining.”
Romero chuckled, and their Sergeant, Dormax, yelled, “Brothers, quit the chatter. We have a city to defend here.”
“Yes, Sergeant,” Romero nodded, and turned back to the fight. The Orks were closing in, and more crude ships descended from orbit, bringing yet more greenskins to fill the ranks.
“How many of them are there?” complained Romero’s twin, ploughing his Power Sword into two oncoming greenskins, and finishing them off with two shots from his favoured pistol.
“More,” spat a neighbouring Terminator, the only marine who had survived from Romero’s original scout squad, Maulus, as he shot down two Orks that were about to leap over the barrier. “Just think of it as target practice, brothers.”
“They just come to die,” Valorous remarked, gunning down xenos. Suddenly, a massive explosion could be heard. Two Terminators looked behind them to see that a Whirlwind on the hillside and been destroyed, the blast taking a Servitor. “We will grant their wish.”
There were two more Terminator’s in Romero’s combat squad. Dominus, who sported two lightning claws, which were both bloody from the fighting, and Xarlo, who proudly carried the cyclone missile launcher.
Suddenly, another lucky hit from Ork artillery saw half of Tactical Squad Morvar blown into pieces. ‘Five Marines,’ grimaced Romero. ‘Five brothers in one shot’.
“These Xenos will pay,” vowed Dormax.
“For the Emperor and Sanguinius!” bellowed Chaplain Genoas. “We will avenge our brother’s deaths! In the name of him on Earth!”
Suddenly, a huge tank, outclassing many vehicles in the Space Marine’s arsenal, made itself known by scything down several marines on the walls behind them. It was huge, bigger than – no, it was not bigger than anything that Romero had seen before, for he had seen something like this in the past. Back when he was an Assault Marine, wearing a beloved Jump Pack, on the planet Deranium Prime. It was... a Stompa.
The Ork Stompa was huge, with red paint splashed all over it in the Ork belief that the “Red Wunz go fasta!” A huge, crude wrecking ball was positioned on the left arm of the Stompa, swinging back and forth ready to crush the Blood Angels. In the centre of the Stompa was an idol to their war hungry gods, and the left arm boasted a massive gun, capable of destroying entire armies with only a few shots. Romero vowed this would not happen today.
A small chink on his armour brought him back to where he stood, as several large Orks ploughed into the Space Marine’s defences. Suddenly, as the Ork was about to land a blow with its axe on Romero, he saw a Dreadnought march into war, in the black colours of the Death Company. As if on cue, Romero heard the roar of several jump packs, and the Death Company roared into battle, and attacked the Orks with unyielding fury.
“Charge!” bellowed Captain Corgion, dragging his Power Sword out of the chest of a greenskin, unleashing a shot from his gun and charging into the fray behind the Death Company. The Terminators laid down a torrent of supporting fire, before following the fifth Captain into the Ork lines.
The Death Company’s charge was unstoppable. They even beat the greenskins at their own game, close assault. It was amazing to watch, with xenos dropping by the dozen under the wrath of the Death Company. The Terminators charged forward, barley keeping up with the fast and furious pace of their black armoured, doomed brethren. Suddenly, there was a gap in the Death Company’s lines, and the Orks charged through. First through the companies of Death was the Ork who was presumably in Command, a Warboss. He picked up two Death Company marines with his crudely made claw, and crushed them under his bulk.
The Warboss bellowed his command again, and charged towards Romero, unleashing a torrent of stray shots from his weapon, all missing or not leaving a dent in the Terminator’s armour.
“I shall know no fear,” vowed Romero with a small smile as he met the Warboss’s headlong charge, holding his ground, and bringing his chain blade up to meet the Warboss with all his fury. “I am Astartes.”
The Warboss and Romero duelled, whilst the two armies fought, exchanging blows as the armies exchanged fire. Suddenly, Romero was caught unawares, and his chain blade left his hand. The Warboss roared, and met the Terminator with unnatural strength. Bellowing its dominance, the Warboss picked up Romero in one blunt move, and plunged his weapon into the noble Blood Angel.
Before Romero died, he saw his brother, charging forward to meet the Warboss responsible for his death. His last thought was of Sanguinius, his Primarch, commander of the Blood Angels before the Horus Heresy, and his death at the hands of the arch-traitor, the Warmaster himself. Then he closed his eyes and allowed death to take him.
Then everything went blank. Romero blinked, opening his eyes. He was... alive. Impossible. Unless... He looked at the metal in front of him, and then realised, he was no longer a Terminator. He was... A Dreadnought, an Ancient.
He sensed movement. “How long have I been asleep?”
The voice responded, “Two hundred years, Ancient.”
“What of the Kayvaan incident?”
boomed Romero, only getting used to his new voice.
“The Kayvaan incident, ancient?” asked the voice. “That was a victory. The noble Blood Angels under command of Fifth Captain Corgion brought low the greenskin.”
“Is Corgion alive? I wish to speak to him,”
The voice coughed. “Uh, Captain Corgion succumbed to the Black Rage, Ancient. He died on the plains of Archaviour, fighting Necrons.”
“That is bad news,” Romero groaned. “Tell me your name, stranger.”
“Techmarine Oroson, Ancient,” the Techmarine remarked. “I was ordered to awake you. Battle calls once more.”
“Very well,” spoke Romero, stepping forward. “Is Brother Valorous Xander still alive?”
“No Ancient, I’m sorry,” Oroson replied. “He perished trying to avenge your death.”
“Is he a fellow Dreadnought?”
“No ancient,” Oroson remarked. “He would’ve been, but he refused.”
“Sounds just like him,”
Romero boomed. “Very well, Techmarine, prepare a Drop Pod. I march to war. Who will die today?”
“The VIII legion, ancient,” the Techmarine replied. “The Night Lords.”
Romero snarled, marching forward, his huge feet plodding along on the ground.
A few hours later, the Drop Pod smashed down planetside. The doors smashed open, and Ancient Xander charged out, bellowing. He found himself instantly within enemy lines on the desert planet of Khom, and he picked up a warrior of the Night Lords, and crushed him under his left arm, before unleashing a torrent of flame with his right. Charging among the enemy, he unleashed yet more flame from his weapon before crushing a cutilist beneath his bulk. His fellow Space Marines, once again of the Blood Angels fifth Company, charged forward, rallying behind him as they met the archenemy with refuelled strength.
“For the Emperor and Sanguinius,”
bellowed Romero, and over the din of war he heard his men roar with him. “We will purge these traitors.”
The fifth company were unstoppable with the arrival of Romero, charging through the city, which had once been the capital of the planet Torian IV; now lay in ruins by the archenemy’s initial invasion. Now the fifth would counter-invade, and re-take Torian IV for the glory of the God-Emperor, and their Primarch.
Romero ploughed through the streets, unleashing devastating missile barrages from the storage attached to the side above where his flamer was, bringing the warriors of the eighth legion down with every shot fired. Continuing forward, more Space Marines rallied behind the furious ancient, who had long since left his Drop Pod behind. Advancing into the corrupted government centre, the Blood Angels showed no mercy, no forgiveness, bringing death with every shot, slaying an enemy with every blow.
“Even in death, I avenge myself,”
roared Romero, picking up yet another Traitor, but instead of crushing him with his left arm, he burnt the Astartes with his flamer. “The God-Emperor Protects.”
“Greetings,” said a cold, voice of the archenemy’s commander, a Chaos Lord calling himself The Slayer. “Ancient.”
“Your words will not stay me, traitor,”
bellowed Romero, as the rest of the fifth company charged behind him. “I will tear you limb from limb.”
“I’d like to see you try,” snarled The Slayer, avoiding shots from a nearby Tactical Marine. “I will take your tomb and gift it to a hero of my own legion.”
“You will have to destroy me first,”
vowed Romero. “I will not let that happen.”
“You have no choice,” The Slayer laughed, bringing his axe to bear. “I will break you.”
“We have talked too much, traitor,”
Romero yelled, and charged towards the Chaos Lord with all his fury. “Now you will fall.”
The Slayer blocked Romero’s initial blow, along with the second and third. Then, he begun to retaliate, pushing even the almighty ancient back. Looking to his left, he saw the banner of the fifth company, displaying Captain Corgion slaying the Ork Warboss that had killed both Xander brothers.
Romero snarled and hurled himself towards The Slayer with unyielding fury, bellowing, “I have come to destroy you.”
We pray for our brethren who pilot the Dreadnoughts. Though they take new form, their souls, and their weapon mounts, remain pure.