He was hurtling towards the ground at maximum velocity. It was not a bad jump, all in all, he would admit later - It was controlled, legs together, hands pressed into his hips. Blood was running from his visor, leaving greasy trails on the glass. Three of his friends were dead, pulped by mass-reactive rounds, and that weighed heavily on his heart. How many friends had Elias lost, over the years? Too many - Some good men, some bad. All had been his companions, and all had died frightfully. On Castor, Vaskaar had been pinned down by a crowd of madmen, and stripped of his flesh with pieces of glass. Elias had found him, a thing of tendons and bared muscle, still rasping breath. Elias had given him the Emperor's Mercy - A burden he still carried with him.
There was a counter ticking down in his peripheral. He was hurtling towards the ground at maximum velocity, and around him were his squad - Falling like stars. He uttered a prayer to the God-Emperor - 'Oh Throne, let Tobias live,' - But the words were snatched by the wind, and to his horror, gunfire. One of the squad came apart in wet, red rags.
A cruel shape hurtled past. Malignant, hooked and barbed and daubed in crude symbols. It reminded Elias of a falcon - An apex predator, swift and deadly. The irony didn't go unnoticed - The fighter was the falcon, and Elias was the pigeon. Another of the Elysians was struck by a serrated wing, cut in two, but continued to fall - Halves pirouetting around one another.
Las-fire began to stitch the air. Everything became a dizzying whirl - Of death and destruction. Elias was firing, pitifully, still falling - Though now he began to spin, to topple, the world and the sky twisting together into a colourless, smothering blur. The enemy jet became the least of his worries, and Elias did the unthinkable. He stopped firing, let his las-gun hang loose in the straps, and righted himself.
There was an explosion. Wreckage hammered into Elias, glass and metal. He cursed, clenched his teeth together, and yanked his chute open. His fall became arrested, he bobbed in the air, before - Twenty seconds later - His boots crunched into stone. He rolled, las-rifle held in one hand, the other undoing his straps and came up into a crouch - Cheek pressed into the stock of his rifle, eyes darting into the shadows. It was excellently done - Elias prided himself with his landings. It wasn't his first combat drop, it wouldn't be his last, but it was one of the bloodiest. His squad, the men he had fought and lived besides, were gone. Relief flooded him, however, when he saw Tobias moving ahead of him.
To his right, Jaques hit the ground with a wet smack. Elias was bounding towards him almost instinctively, concern twisting his features.
A shard of metal had affixed Jaques stomach. Onto his knees Elias went, hands clamping the wound. Spools of intestines slipped beneath his palms.
'All clear from what I can tell, Elias,' Called his brother.
'Find us a way out,' He shouted back, urgently. 'Keep your eyes open, Tobias.'
Elias was spraying gauze onto Jaques stomach. The Elysian screeched, though it was cut off - A bloody glove sealing his lips.
'Quiet,' Elias whispered into his ear. 'Fugging Hell, shut up.'
'That was despicable,' He heard Tobias mutter.
'What was despicable?'
'Their deaths,' Came the tart response. 'Except Dillon, Dillon's was okay.'
Cold rage seethed inside Elias's chest. Beneath his hands, Jaques was trembling.
'Throne of Terra,' He bit his lip. Despite all the love Elias held for his brother, he also knew the annoyance of his company. 'This isn't the time to get sentimental.'
Elias slipped his arms beneath Jaques and lifted him. He was cradling the wounded soldier like a child.
‘Screw sentiments.’ Tobias spat back, anger mangling his words. ‘Are you kidding me Elias?! Are you fugging kidding me? What was all that? In a decade of military service, we’ve never lost more than one of our squad at a time, and that’s been far and few between. What the fug just happened?’
‘Men died, friends died,' Elias replied. 'What can we do? Stand around, dejected and wet-eyed, and wait for the Greenskins? No, we live. We live, and we fight, and we mourn them later - As soldiers and as brothers.'
Everything became quiet. The distant sound of weapons-fire filled the courtyard. It was accompanied with shouting, with screaming.
‘Any one of them could have been you,' Tobias said, his voice hushed. Elias felt a pang of guilt, moving closer.
‘And any one of them could have been you,' Elias softened his tone. 'But we made it. We are Lengens, Tobias, we always make it.'
'Damn right we are,' His brother said. He stalked off, hunched and feral - A wolf, a killer. 'Don't you ever die like they did.'
Oh, fug that, Elias thought. 'I'm going to die, old and withered, with a pair of women in my arms,' A grin crept across his lips. 'Who'd tie your bootlaces were I gone?'
‘That sounds like a good plan, so long as one of those women isn’t that pistol of yours.’ Tobias was heading the right way for a beating, now.
He was suddenly aware of the weight in his arms. His gloves, his stomach and legs were slick with blood. I must look like a butcher.
‘Come on, Jaques! Time to prove that you’re almost as good as a Lengen,' Tobias jeered.
Jaques stirred and groaned.
Don't die now, brother.
Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.
"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"
'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'