666, A Tale Of The Scouring
These are the first few pages of my Grey Knights novel, as always, feedback is appreciated.
“Malcador, you have judged well. These eight Space Marines do indeed have a vital role to play in the future of the Imperium, though veiled in secrecy will they be.”-The Emperor of Mankind, hours before the end of the Horus Heresy, and the death of humankind began.
The Scouring. That is what they would call this time, the years following the rebellion of Horus, and the worst catastrophe to befall mankind since the Age of Strife.
Armies loyal to the fallen Emperor and his ideals set themselves to the stars with a vengeance, coming down on those who betrayed or abandoned the master of mankind like a fiery comet.
Like the Great Crusade their goal was to reunite humanity, but this was buried under a thirst for revenge against those who betrayed them.
And the fire they started would not quenched. For Sergeant Rector, formerly of the Sons of Horus legion and the seven marines under his command the war of revenge truly would never end, for the Astartes of the nine loyal legions may drive those others from the realm of the Imperium, may drive off their former friends and cousins from real space, but Rector and his new kinsmen would never have that.
They were alone. For each one of them came from the traitor legions, each one of them had thrown off their ties to their former brothers and stood loyal to the Emperor all throughout the storm that would be called the Horus Heresy.
And on the blasted battlefield of Centuri V, alone was not the best thing to be.
In their haste Imperial commanders had swooped down on the system, doing little planning beyond making sure they had enough bodies to smother the worlds with sheer force.
Sergeant Rector and his new brothers just happened to be attached to the fleet when they came here, not knowing what else to do they had simply attached themselves to a warfleet departing the Sol System and decided to go about the task the Emperor had set them as soon and straightforward as they could.
When the warhost made planet fall the rebel forces of the Centuri system gave up little resistance, their hasty defenses falling quickly. Victory seemed assured, and the Imperial commanders cheered from their safe command center in the belly of the fleet. But then conditions degraded, and the rebels revealed an unholy ally.
Daemons issued forth from some unseen place and tore apart the Imperial regiments, cutting men apart and blowing tanks open with unnatural powers. The rocky landscape of Centuri V had never seen such bloodshed.
Rector and his squad had the worst of it, they had been at the front of the worst fighting throughout the entire campaign but had so far faced only mortal humans left over from the traitors’ mass retreat. They had not faced a test of their abilities until now, and they were sorely tried.
‘Grask, Baden,’ shouted Rector, ‘move to the front, meet the daemon’s blade for blade while Djoster and I lay down fire,’
‘Got it,’ said the former World Eater as he and the Night Lord moved up, following Rectors orders. Grask hit the activation stud of his chainaxe and Baden extended the talons of his lightning claws.
‘Do you know where the others are?’ Rector asked the Astartes next to him, Djoster, from the Thousand Sons.
‘No I do not, wolf,’ replied the marine.
‘Didn’t your legion study the supernatural powers? Shouldn’t you be able to use them? Isn’t that why the eight of us have been thrown together?’
‘You are right on all accounts,’ said Djoster, letting a blast of bolt shells spit from his weapon when a clump of war maddened cultist rebels appeared on a rocky ridge to the half squad’s left.
The four marines were stuck in the middle of a small rocky canyon on the outskirts of the capital city. They had been pushing the advance forward, driving the rebels into the dust when the daemons had been unleashed.
Then they had been divided, they didn’t know how but that didn’t change anything. They still fought on.
‘Then find out where they are! we need to hook up with them again, strength in numbers,’
‘You’re not the only one with a basic grass on tactics Sergeant,’ yelled Baden, impaling a cultist on one set of claws.
Grask matched the Night Lord’s ferocity by barreling into a horde of cultists and swinging his chainaxe left and right, leaving all within his reach dead or maimed.
‘Die you scum!’ he shouted. More cultists died under his axe.
‘Sergeant,’ Djoster turned to Rector, ‘we cannot hold this position for much longer,’
‘Then we fall back and find the others,’
‘That may prove to be nigh impossible, the chaos of war engulfs this entire world,’
‘We’ll find them, now lets fall back,’
‘Yes Sergeant,’ said Djoster, and the former Thousand Son turned to face the other end of the canyon, scanning for rebels or worse.
‘Grask, Baden,’ shouted Rector, ‘we’re falling back, sheath your blades and draw your pistols,’
The two marines grudgingly did as he commanded, Grask cutting a cultist in half while switching his chainaxe to his left hand and drawing his bolt pistol with his right.
Baden had no pistol, but artificers in his former legion had converted the talons of his power claws to be capable of being fired from the fist. It was not something he would use if there were other options left though.
On the other side of the battlefield Dosius, formerly of the Iron Warriors led three others in a desperate defense against an endless tide of cultists.
The four had found a defensible spot in the earth, surrounded on all sides by large boulders and had pushed them all together to form a low wall. It was mediocre protection at best but with Astrates firepower behind it it had held so far.
Dosius saw another horde of the rebel cultists charging the fire team, bigger than most of what they had encountered so far.
‘Alpha Legion!’ said Dosius, ‘any grenades left?’
The marine he addressed responded by unhooking a frag grenade from his utility belt and tossing it underhand at the horde.
It exploded in a storm of fire and shrapnel, ripping apart bodies like they were paper.
‘Its pronounced Hutier by the way,’ said the Astartes who threw the grenade.
To the marine’s left was Niemann, formerly of the Death Guard picked off cultists who crept too close with his bolt pistol, his preferred weapon, a missile launcher, strapped to his back, out of ammunition.
‘Why don’t you two just shoot?’ he said, ‘worry about names later, for now, fight!’
‘I agree with the Death Guard,’ said Vespacian, from the Emperor’s Children, ‘learn names later, for now, just fight,’. The Astartes blew away cultists with his pistol, his powerblade in his other hand, ready to come down on any who came too close.
Hutier bit back a retort, now was not the time and the Emperor’s Child was right, they had bigger concerns right now, mainly, getting off this rock.
‘We need to get back to the fleet,’ Dosius shouted, above the din of battle.
‘Good idea, you’re a tactical mastermind Iron Warrior,’ said Hutier. Sometimes he couldn’t help himself.
‘Stow it marine,’ said Vespacian, ‘he’s right, this planet is a lost cause, it has been since the fleet set out,’
‘But how?’ said Niemann, ‘we came down in a Thunderhawk and there’s no way its still intact, and I won’t leave without the others,’
‘Already friends are we?’ sneered Vespacian.
‘You know what they brought us together to do, we can’t do it if half us die in the first war we’re in,’ said Niemann.
‘Can’t do it all if we all die,’ added Hutier.
‘Just keep shooting!’ shouted Dosius, ‘we’ll figure something out,’
‘After we kill the entire planet ourselves?’ said Hutier. Indeed it seemed as though that was what they were doing, the world had only a few densely populated cities but it seemed like they had all fallen to Chaos and were swarming down on the Astartes.
Hours passed, Rector and the Astartes with him fought their way back to the city through tides of rebels, but thankfully few daemons came to them.
They quickly decided they must find the others and a means to communicate with the fleet in orbit, Baden volunteered almost immediately.
Rector decided that while Baden looked for the others he, Djoster and Grask would find a communications array of some sort.
When he had turned to tell the Night Lord how to find them again the marine was not there.
So they went deeper into the city without him.
Baden could not be happier under the circumstances. Being alone for the first time since the Heresy was the closest he’d come to freedom.
The other marines might feel safer in a team, but the Night Lords legion had spent centuries refining terror tactics that saw individual marines survive and fight on their own for extended periods of time.
Baden didn’t really care for Rector either, the man was a pompous whelp, ridding on the words of the Emperor like that dead man was a god.
Baden hadn’t even wanted to be part of what the Sigillite had tried to put together when he died, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But he was a survivalist, and he would find no friends in his lost legion, not after what had happened, and striking out on his own in a galaxy gripped by madness on all sides was suicide. The best path to long term survival right now was to stick with the others, and right now that meant finding them in the middle of this war torn world.
Running across a rooftop in the business section of the capitol city Baden had the talons of his lighting claws fully extended, ready to eviscerate anything in his way. He came to the edge of the roof and leapt into the air, his enhanced strength carrying him across the chasm below to the other building.
He landed safely on the other side, curling to roll across the roof when a smell hit his nose.
He stopped himself before continuing his sprint across the roof tops to sniff out what caught his attention.
Dead flesh, the world was smothered in it. Spilt blood, human, not Astartes. That was good. Baden inhaled once again and found out the scent that caught his attention.
The smell of ozone, the typical result of a meeting between power blade and skin, wafted into his nostrils. Power weapons were rare in Imperial Army forces, and Baden was sure that any officer with the kind of prestige that went with one of those potent weapons would be able to align himself with a better task force. There was only one the former Night Lord had seen recently who carried such a weapon, the Emperor’s Child, whose name slipped his mind.
‘Smoke sight,’ breathed the marine and the lenses of his helmet blinked out then on again, this time highlighting the trace elements of gas in the air.
He could see the vapor left by lascarbines in the air, and more importantly the telltale smoke clouds, faint now, that was the near invisible sign of the discharge of bolt weapon.
The others had been this way.
Baden started following the path of residue left by his cousins.
As the war raged on Rector and the Astartes with him evaded hordes of cultists until they found an Imperial chimera APC converted for communication with any Navy ships in orbit.
They hadn’t found any bodies to go with it.
Grask, and Djoster stood outside the chimera, driving off hordes of cultists who came to close.
Inside the chimera Sergeant Rector dialed the Imperial fleet vox channel on an old long range communications unit, hunched over in the cramped confines of the metal box meant for mortal humans.
‘Come in Imperial fleet codename: Sudden Vengeance, this is Sergeant Rector, of the Emperor’s Astartes, come in, we are in need of extraction for us and four other isolated Astartes. Send down an orbital retrieval unit. Over,’ Rector said, before depressing the transmit button and allowing the person on the other end to reply.
Rector repeated his message.
The Sergeant hung up the mouth piece of the vox and set the machine to keep broadcasting his message. He had no idea what was thwarting the vox, but he had to get his words to the fleet above.
The Astartes clamored out of the chimera, rejoining the other two.
‘Anything happen while I was gone?’ he asked.
‘No,’ said Grask.
Djoster turned to face him, ‘it could be possible for me to send a message to the fleet’s astropaths, but I was never the most powerful of my legion, and we will all need to pool our power together for me to do that,’
‘We still have to find the others,’ said Rector.
‘Yes, but we can’t do that standing here,’ said the Thousand Son.
‘Let’s get moving then,’ said Rector, ‘Grask, take point, if anything pops up, take off its head with your chainaxe,’
Finished: Too Much Love Will Kill You (working title), an original fiction novel. Working on: Second draft of Too Much Love, and the first draft of A Winter's Tale (working title).