“From the darkness we strike, fast and lethal, and by the time our foes can react... darkness there and nothing more.”
~Kayvaan Shrike, Shadow Captain of the 3rd Company
“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
THE UNENDING TORRENT of massed lasgun fire was ripping the heart out of the loyalist forces. Rovain roared his praise to the Chaos Gods as he saw his shot pierce a banner carrier, the unfortunate Guardsman dropping to the floor, the proud Banner of the 54th Cadian Shock Troops dropping to the floor, only to be picked up again by another brave soul, so that the 54th’s morale would not be extinguished.
“How long until you think these will break?” Rovain asked to the man next to him. He was called One-Eye, because he only sported one of the two eyes that required humans to see. He had lost his eye long ago, when he was still loyal to the Imperium of Man.
Rovain too, had once served the corpse god which he now greatly despised. Once, Rovain had imagined himself up there among the ranks of some of Cadia’s finest. Like the Lord Castellan himself.
But, such things never came to pass. On one of the galaxy’s endless worlds, he was captured by the Renegade Soul Eaters, a renegade Warband lead by a solid core of traitor astartes from the XVII Legion, the Word Bearers, whilst on a scout mission, and was given the choice to die serving the Emperor, or live and obey a new master.
So, fearing death, Rovain cast his oaths of loyalty aside and joined the renegades. And he had not regretted anything since. Reloading his lasgun, Rovain smiled as he heard the explosion of a loyalist tank. Before its destruction, Rovain had encountered with that tank before, the so called ‘Invincible’. He remembered that with a frown, the patrol that he was stationed upon about a month ago, and that Tank had just appeared out of nowhere, slaughtering his squad mates, the Lux Twins, both great shots, the Veteran Sergeant Kallus and Indiyce. Indiyce was one of the few females of the Warband, and before her death, had been shunned by many of the other squads. However, the Sarge had taken her with open arms, and treated the mini five man squad as his own children, teaching them the ways of the renegade, and how to avoid getting killed.
And he had done that, every fakking time. Until that patrol, when his luck had ran out. And his squad mates. Only Rovain had been lucky enough to escape unharmed, because he let his cowardice get the better of him.
He had tripped, before the arrival of the Invincible, and was too tired to get back up again.
Suddenly, Rovain looked up at the skies above him, hearing a loud noise. “Bombers! Take Cover!” He yelled, throwing himself to the ground. But no bombs came. Well then, why was there a flyer in orbit? An enemy flyer?”
Suddenly, realisation dawned. He should have known, for it was too big, far too bulky to be a Marauder Bomber. And, daring another quick glance, Rovain caught the eagle insignia of the Raven Guard, Astartes of the XIX Legion, the loyalists.
So there had been astartes on Kathius. He had expected something was awry from the start, especially when the Imperial dogs had only sent two regiments to defend this massive invasion. The Cadians... and the Voystran Firstborn. And now The Raven Guard.
“Watch for jumping infantry!” called Rovain’s Sergeant, before getting hit by a lucky shot to the head. Rovain winced as the lifeless body dropped to the floor, and the head rolled about for a few moments. Bending down, he picked up the Plasma Pistol. “That one’s mine.”
“Too bad you won’t get to use it,” said a voice from behind Rovain. Rovain turned, and stepped back in shock as he saw a loyalist astartes, up close for the first time. He was... he was huge, like a giant. Fumbling for his new Plasma Pistol, Rovain knew it was already too late.
“Victorus aut Mortis,” breathed the figure. “The Emperor Protects.”
“No he...” then, Rovain’s world ended in a ball of flame. The figure above the corpse that had once been Aslec Rovain turned, and began shredding down the rest of the traitors in the trench with ease.
“THIS IS WHERE they will hold their last stand,” remarked Shadow Captain Mortem Kadon to the assembled figures of authority in the briefing room, which was a small windowless place which resembled a prison cell. With a frown, The Shadow Captain recognised the Imperial Governor, Dalais, who had been evacuated from his capital a month before the actual invasion, frowning. Clearly this man was no tactical genius, Kadon thought silently. “And this is where they will be at their most strongest.”
“I’m sorry, if I may, my lord,” Dalais interrupted. “Surely it would be best to draw the archenemy out of their stronghold and attack them when their forces are split.”
“No,” disagreed the Shadow Captain, pointing to the Pict displayed on the screen. “If we draw them out, that’s exactly what the archenemy want, if you get my meaning, Governor.”
“Unfortunately I am not as gifted in the arts of war as you are, Captain,” Dalais admitted.
“Shadow Captain,” corrected Kadon. “Now, as you can see, the Citadel of Hatred is displayed on the pict. From here, it looks as though it’s a huge bulwark that is a beacon of hope for the archenemy. However, it is also their last hope. Crush the head and we destroy the Hydra.”
“So you intend to break a Citadel that has not been broken for Millennia?” asked a Colonel of the Voystran Firstborn, a dark skinned man in his fifties, curiously. “Excuse me, Shadow Captain, but the Citadel is guarded by more than just Cutilist and renegade Guardsmen. Our patrol brought back rumours of traitor Astartes... and worse.”
“Have you not heard the phase, Colonel?” questioned Shadow Captain Zaius, with a smile from inside his battle scared helmet. “The Bigger they are... The harder they fall.”
“Of course I have heard that phase, Shadow Captain,” the Colonel replied. “My Regiment took down a Titan on Sarvior.”
“Tell me, what is your name, Colonel?” questioned the Shadow Captain, curiously.
“Sir, my name is Colonel Darrac Anthius,” the elderly Voystran replied. “It is an honour to serve alongside the astartes again, sir.”
“You’ve served alongside Raven Guard before?”
“Yes sir,” Colonel Anthius replied. “Also on Sarvior. I served under Shadow Captain Shrike.”
“Shrike,” smiled Kadon, before returning to address the fellow figures assembled in the room.
“If I may interrupt, Shadow Captain,” frowned the Governor. “I will repeat the Colonel’s question. How do you intend to break a Citadel that has not been broken for Millennia?”
The Shadow Captain had come to a conclusion that he was liking this Governor less and less. “My dear Governor,” he began, “Did I not mention the phase earlier? The Bigger they are, the Harder they Fall. I have a team of the Tenth Company’s best Scouts infiltrating the Citadel as they speak. I do believe they are using the Tunnel system.”
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