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Irn Bru 32!
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Darius stumbles behind cover as bolts impact around him and Sebastian. All around them he can see the white armour of the frenzied world eaters, they are firing their bolters and reving chainswords while screaming absurd barbaric taunts in their brutish language. As a world eater stumbled towards them, Darius sends three bolts at the marines chest, instantly cracking ceramite and pulping organs. He can't believe that he just killed an astartes, something about the act seeming morally sickening to him. He is ripped back into reality as a stray bolt shell crashes against his faceplate.

Darius is thrown to the ground with a sickening crunch as his helmet is dented in. Lying on his back he can smell the scorched air of istvaan 3 once again. That sickly charred air that leaves ones throat dry and in need of water. Coming to his senses he grabs at the remains of his helmet and rips it free as he crawls to his feet. His face is yet unmarked by the bolt shell. "Must've not detonated" he shouts over to Sebastian. Pulling his bolter to his shoulder, Darius sends a magazine of bolter rounds in to a rabble of closely packed world eaters.
 

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If you're going to kill me, Krateron thought, wetting his lips. I'm going to cleave you from shoulder to hip.

He, and Tiberius, were surrounded. They were surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned. Krateron wasn't bothered, he had been surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned before. And, he had fought his way out of that, bloody and panting, had he not? The sole difference here, he realised, was the presence of Astartes. He had never been surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned by Space Marines, nevermind Sons of Horus, before. He groaned, inwardly. This day kept getting worse.

There was a ripple of activity in the Squad. Bolters were shouldered, over Krateron's head. He turned, slowly and deliberately, and found himself staring at a peculiar sight. A slope of rubble, twinkling with shards of glass and bone, and a Son of Horus. He clutched a banner, emblazoned with II - Second Company, Torgaddon's lot - His armour scuffed and scorched. Atomic winds made the banner flutter, and for a moment, Krateron felt nothing but pride. Isstvan was dead, but the Sons of Horus endured. Those above had tried, and failed, to crush an ants nest. And now the hive was swarming, seething for vengeance.

The banner-bearer joined them. Krateron looked at him, cocking his helmet. One of Sergeant Kyrimen's Squad fought Krateron and Tiberius's corner. Krateron was thankful for that, that took courage, and true belief. The others joined them, forming a rough circle around the newcomer.

'Were I to place a bolt or round in you, Kyrimen,' He said. 'It would be in your throat. I'm many things, but a backstabber I am not.'

He turned to the standard-bearer, and then the others. 'Now that that's dealt with, I am Akkad Krateron. My companion, here,' He waved a hand at Tiberius. 'Is Tiberius. We are all in this together,' He laughed, bitterly. 'We may as well get to know each other - You, of the Second Company,' He said, jutting his chin at the standard-bearer. 'Who are you?'
 

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Decius marched down through the rubble towards the group of astartes, banner held proudly aloft even as he had his hand on his plasma pistol. He hoped that these men were brothers, men who would not fire upon him and had felt the sting of betrayal as he had. If they were loyal to the Emperor then he could finally find some souls on this now dead planet, some brothers that could strike back at the traitors.

However if these men were not his brothers, if they were astartes that had betrayed him and his brothers down here then he would most likely die. If he could take a few of them with him he would die content knowing he had struck back at those that had participated in this madness. As he marched he could see that they had spotted him, a few bolters were shouldered as he marched towards them and he almost braced himself and move into cover knowing the damage bolter rounds could do. However he did not he kept moving, if they were loyalists they would know he was one of them. It was common knowledge that most if not all of the II company were deployed to the surface.

They stood down as he neared, relief flooding through him as he had finally found some other loyalists, some people that shared his pain at betrayal by those they called father. As he neared he heard the conversation between the two groups, the members of his legion and one of his legion and one from the Emperors Children. Obviously that had been unsure on whether or not they were traitors or friendlies.

They formed a rough circle as Decius joined them before the one who accompanied the Emperors Children astartes spoke out. 'Now that that's dealt with, I am Akkad Krateron. My companion, here,' He paused as he waved a hand towards the Emperors Children. 'Is Tiberius. We are all in this together,' Akkad laughed bitterly at that thought 'We may as well get to know each other - You, of the Second Company,' He said, jutting his chin towards Decius. 'Who are you?'

Decius paused for a moment before replying to his brothers, "I am Decius Vultus, standard bearer of the Second Company. I am glad to find that some other astartes have survived this great betrayal, for a few moments I thought I wouldn't find any friendly forces before I found those responsible that did this." Decius paused as he planted the standard in the ground, letting it rest for a moment. "What was the plan then brothers before I entered your little standoff?" He said surveying those around him.
 

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Before anyone could say anything else, another figure emerged from the ruined streets. Two of the bolters that had previously been trained on Tiberius moved to mark the man. With the decreased threat of firepower, Tiberius let his eyes wander to see who had intruded on this judgement and what their purpose was. The man was dwarfed by the heavy standard he bore, emblazoned with the II that marked him out as one of Torgaddon’s men.

Or should, although such things were not certain now. The fact that it was untouched by fire told him that it had likely survived the firestorm. The only way a traitor would carry that standard would be if he had prized it from the dead hands of its previous owner. That would mean that their brothers were in their midst already, which seemed unlikely, and if they were there would be far more of them than this lone marine. No, Tiberius decided, he was the genuine article.

Not wishing to continue this stand off for much longer, one of the Sons of Horus spoke up, fortunately not to say that they should murder them. He had drawn the same conclusions about Tiberius and Akkad as Tiberius had about this new comer. Sergeant Kyrimen seemed to agree and slowly the weapons trained on Tiberius lowered and he let out the tense breath he had been holding.

The Sergeant and Akkad spat levity back and forth, and Tiberius wasn’t sure to be complimented by the fact that Rydon didn’t feel the need to iterate how betrayed he would feel if they were turncoats, or offended at the implication that the Sergeant didn’t think he was capable of dealing him such a blow. Tiberius’ brow furrowed. *I’m easily worth more than any of you here Sergeant* he thought spitefully.

Tiberius screwed his eyes shut and reprimanded himself. They were his allies, friends, men he could depend on when everything else had changed or been destroyed. Nothing was certain save these men here. That thought gave him strength, but it also made him sad. Where was his legion? Surely they were more worthy than these Cthonians? How was it that they had survived and, save Sebastian and Darius, Tiberius had yet to see another one of Fulgrim’s sons.

He chose to believe it was their superiority that meant that he had not seen any of them. Horus’ legion were scattered, in small warbands, yet to have fallen back and made ready the defence to face the inevitable scouring of the survivors. His legion would not have been to easily splintered. They would have fallen back, a cohesive unit working in tandem and in good order. It was their efficiency that left him alone here as the rest of the Sons exchanged what could loosely be called pleasantries.

Suddenly, the vox network burst back into spluttering life. The signal was still maimed by the hellish atmosphere and electromagnetic disturbances, but it was there at least. Two solitary markers flashed up on Tiberius’ HUD. Unfortunately his ears also picked up gunfire also coming from the same direction, although a fair way in the distance. Sebastian and Darius were alive at least, but there was no sign of Tarvitz with them, and he could not be sure if they were only close to the gunfire or embroiled in it. “Decurion, Brother, what is status?” His voice was curt and direct, but Tiberius hoped that they weren’t in immediate danger…
 

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Despite the gravity of their situation, despite the fact that the two of them were fighting for their lives on a damned world against a larger force of warriors they would have called Brother less than a day before, Sebastian couldn't help but spare a little pride for the execution of the withdrawal he and Darius were still in process of completing. Even under the most intense of battlefield conditions the two of them were falling back with all the precision of the training fields. Sebastian made a note, if he survived this, to make sure that Darius was properly commended.

Against any lesser foe the two Emperor's Children would have been safe now. They would either have slaughtered their pursuers in the bottleneck of the alley opening or at least reaped so great a toll that the enemy would have given up their pursuit. The World Eaters were vulnerable to neither of these things. They were Astartes and to bring down a single one was a battle unto itself. Even wounds that would have made another Space Marine stop to tend to himself, the World Eaters fought through with a psychotic lack of survival instinct. Each warrior had as little care for his brothers as he did himself and despite the bodies the Emperor's Children were leaving behind them, the Son of Angron pushed on. It seemed no matter the precision of their movement, their timing and their accuracy, they could no more hold back World Eaters than they could hold back the tide.

Beside him he heard the unmistakable sound of bolter round hitting power armour and saw Darius go down. His heart sank as he ducked behind another pile of rubble. "Darius!" he called out desperately before stepping up to lay down another hail of suppressing fire and prepared to move to the Legionary's position. Before he could though, Darius pulled off his tattered helmet.

"Musnt've have detonated." he said with a casualness that belied how close he had just come to death.

Sebastian let out the breath he didn't realise he'd been holding and continued firing. A World Eater wielding a pair of bloodied Chain-Axes leapt out of cover and charged headlong at him. Sebastian put two bolts into his chest, but when that failed to stop him, the Decurion aimed lower. Catching the World Eater mid stride, Sebastian's bolt hit the crease at the top of the enemies greave, turning his knee to shredded meat. The warrior lived, but he wouldn't catch them any time soon.

Sebastian emptied his clip as he dropped back to the next position under Darius's supporting fire and started to reload. As he did so he was startled by the sudden burst of life that came through the vox network. A surge of hope was swiftly dashed as there was still no sign of Captain Tarvitz. Cursing, he slammed in a fresh clip as Darius emptied his own. Decurion Aurellian stood and put a bolt into the exposed head of a World Eater Darius had put on his knees seconds before, then took down a second with a flurry that clattered off the World Eater's chest, before a lucky shot slid into the soft armour under his chin and detonated, taking his head off like a grotesque firework.

"Decur...Brother, w.....status." Came over the vox. Even through the terrible channel Sebastian was certain it was Tiberius.

"Status is bad." Sebastian replied. "We're under attack by traitor World Eaters. Heavily outnumbered. Ammo supplies critical. Request immediate assistance."

As he finished the message his bolter ran dry and he ducked back down behind the low wall he and Darius were sheltered behind. Reaching for another clip he grasped only air. "Oh no..." he muttered quietly. He gently laid his bolter on the ground beside him and took a long deep breath as he reached over his shoulder for the comforting presence of Spectre. His hand gripped firmly around the handle of the long, slender bladed power sword and he listened. Despite Darius's best efforts the footsteps were getting closer. 15 feet....10....5....

Sebastian leapt to his feet, drawing his blade and thumbing the activation rune in a single perfect motion.
 

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Discussion Starter #66 (Edited)
I was going to do the dialogue through Pm and chat like normal, but the unlikely chance of getting everyone involved in chat at the same time, and everyone reposting the same things after PMs were sorted, led me to doing it this way. Tiberius is still free to reply to Sebastian, of course, while this conversation is going on.

The Sergeant replies first, after Krateron

'We are honored by your presence, Brother Vultus. I am glad you found our way to us. Aside from these two,' he indicates Akkad and the Emperor's children Decurion, this is what remains of my squad, codenamed Dillinger. We are from the 18th Company. It took some time to absorb what has just happened, I must admit. When we couldn’t find any other survivors and heard the drop ships descend from the skies, we did all we knew how to do, and set up the best angles along this street we could find. Up until these two wandered across our sights, we held little hope in our hearts to do anything other than fight our final battle.’

he waves a hand over each of his men, introducing them.

First his hand passes over the Marine with the heavy bolter.

'Brother Gretivalus.' Who nods to the general group.

The more reserved marine wielding a bolter, who pleaded the case of Akkad and Tiberius. 'Brother Muor.' who does not nod, remaining still.

'Brother Herridon' he says, passing over the Marine who crashed through the corner of the ruined building to protect his sergeant.

'and my most experienced veteran, Solhanan' he concludes, as his hand comes to rest before falling in the direction of the Son of Horus in MkIII armor who pinned Tiberius to the ground. He carries a bolt pistol, the blade he met Krateron with, a chainsword on his other hip, and a trio of daggers across his chest.
 

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His hopes were dashed in an instant. Decurion Aurellian’s voice was intermittent through the noise, but Tiberius could make out the definitive sounds of gunfire and coarse bellowing, rendered metallic and rasping either by their own voxes or his. "Status…bad..." Came the bellowing cackle of a response “…under attack…traitor…Eaters…outnumbered…critical…immediate assistance.”
“Aurellian! Sebastian!” Tiberius roared down the vox as the channel blinked out of existence. His hearts stopped for a moment. Had his brother been dragged down by roaring chainaxes wielded blood-crazed maniacs? Then the signal came back, but his hearts still pounded. This was not good.

He had hoped they would have more time before the first wave struck. Perhaps if the bloody XIIth weren’t led by a lunatic with a thirst for blood they would have. Mortarion would have wanted more time to plan. Horus would likely have already have had a contingency, although he might have thought his plan fool proof. Eidolon would have responded with the characteristic swiftness of the IIIrd Legion, but even he would have made a plan. Only Angron would have charged down, all strategy thrown to the wind.

Tiberius heard and sub-consciously processed the names of the new squad he found himself in, but he needed to act on Sebastian’s information and he needed to do it quickly. The gunfire was far off and from the intermittent signal from Sebastian and Darius so were they. If they ran Tiberius doubted they would find much more than mutilated corpses. Even if they didn’t, they didn’t have the man-power to turn back the tide of the XIIth. It seemed necessity of survival would compel him to leave them once again. How had it come to this, that he prioritized the lives of these Sons of Horus over his own brothers?

“Sergeant Rydon…” Tiberius said, cutting across the ongoing conversation. “…whatever plan you had, we need to move now. My brethren about an hour on the other side of the city and have already encountered the first wave of World Eaters. They will be here any moment. We are out of time…” Everyone was listening to him now. The time for idle conversation was evidently over by Tiberius firm authoritative tone. “…Even with the eight of us, if we are caught in the oncoming storm we’ll be butchered. We should fall back to either the Precentor’s Palace or the Sirenhold. Somewhere where we have a substantial force and can whether what is to come.” At least until we have a better plan. The aim right now was survival, and what Sebastian and Darius sacrifice had bought them was time. Time to move and time to ensure they were alive to deliver retribution…
 

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One by one, the Squad introduced themselves. Krateron nodded to each, a clenched fist held over his hearts - An old, antiquated salute. Brother Muor, who carried his heavy bolter with pride, had taken the side of Krateron and Tiberius - Something which the Cthonian was grateful for. Solhanan, who had went blade-to-blade with Krateron, looked like a fierce whoreson. All blades and bolters, that one. A true Cthonian, Krateron suspected, raised from the gutter. Except, the charm of the Cthonians was, the gutter always came with them.

Tiberius spoke up. Krateron's helm snapped towards him, and he curled his lips, listening. His fellow Decurion, Sebastian - Krateron remembered him distastefully, for a moment, and then reprimanded himself, it was unbecoming to think ill of the dead, - Had gotten himself into trouble. Krateron lamented poor Darius, though he knew him not, and frowned. Tiberius had condemned him to death-

No. Fulgrim had condemned him to death. Their Primarchs, their fathers, had condemned them to death. Krateron kicked the dust.

'Neither,' He said, countering Tiberius. 'I've said it once, and I will say it again. We should run, into the wilds, away from the city. The Precentor's Palace, the Sirenhold, are graveyards in the making,' He gazed at his fellow Sons of Horus, in their battered and chipped armour, gory from head to toe, and shook his head. 'The larger the concentration of Marines, the larger the force we will face,' He paused, for a moment, listening to the howling of the winds. 'East, West, North or South - Anywhere. But here is death.'
 

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The roar of bolter fire erupted just ahead, Kyros and his Death Guard companion Alaros had been chasing the 'battle, if it could be called that for seemingly hours. The pace had been relentless, but the offensive launched by his former Brethren had been typical of his Legion, savage, brutal and at a frenzied pace. To this point the skirmishes they'd been chasing had lasted mere minutes and they'd never been able to close the distance enough to so much as see the fire fights, let alone join in them.

They reached the outskirts of the broken and shattered section of the city, and whoever the World Eaters were trying to kill, they were fighting back. Kyros lost sight of Alaros, but he knew the dutiful Legionaire was still pressing after him, with his plasma cannon loadout he had a difficult time keeping pace directly with his World Eater comrade.

He heard the call and return of Bolter rounds, then the cry of a warrior calling to his fallen comrade "Darius!" broke the background noise of battle. Seemingly the World Eaters had killed at least one of the Astartes they had been hunting. The thought of an Astartes, still loyal to the emperor falling at the hands of his Brothers festered in his mind and tear at his heart. His teeth began to grate together as he clenched his jaw, his muscles became corded and tight as he felt the rage of his bloodlines flow through him.

He edged closer, they on a section of cityscape that he been built up on a slight plateu, and he looked down some 10 meters to get a better view of the battle. Two Astartes clambored over the debris of the city, falling back in a leap frog pattern, seeking to cover one another as they sought to retreat. Their armor was covered in soot and blood, but the regal purple marked them out unmistakably as Emperor's Children. They too had apparently been forfeited by their Primarch, sentenced to death, and it was his own Brothers who were going to carry out the execution. It grated at him, deeper and deeper into his soul as the World Eaters, pushed into frenzy by their lust for blood and the orders of Angron their progrenitor...His too.

He watched as his Brothers closed the distance, like a tide ebbing in, as if a clash against the proverbial rocks was inevitable. Surprisingly one of the Emperor's children laid his bolter down on the ground .You fool! Kyros thought, and then watched as the same warrior drew an oddly thin bladed power sword. He means to make a stand in close combat?! Against my Brothers that will be suicide The thoughts flood through his mind, and his only idea was also suicidal, but he could not stand back and just watch.

Knowing he would not have time to try and coordinate anything with the Emperor's Children he relayed a message instead to Alaros who had been a truly impeccable battle brother in the brief time that he had known him. "Legionaire Alaros Guilguman, it has been quite an honor to serve with you." He sighed, "But I would suggest that you continue with our initial mission, to find whoever gave us warning, find the rest of our Brothers who are loyal, you can join a greater stand...But I must stop my Brothers here and now."

He watched as the Astartes with the thinly bladed power sword advanced, making deft strikes against his foes and looked into the throng of Wolrd Eaters advancing on the two Emperor's Children. His roar was carried across the din of the skirmish by his vox grille "Death to those who would turn their back on the Emperor!!" His plasma pistol echoed his roar, the white hot blue plasma blast tore into a World Eater's chest plate, immolating him in a wreath of excrutiating fire. Kyros leapt into the fray, his power axe glowed bright blue and pink as the energy field swirled around the weapon, his shield at the ready. As he crashed into his Brothers, he took full advantage of the momentary surprise, hacking and slashing, letting his fury take the lead. "Sergeant Kyros Straessen! I shall fight beside you this day Emperor's Children!" he roared over the battle as a means of introduction while his axe tore into a World Eater's shoulder joint, slicing deep on a downward stroke that ended at the warrior's opposing hip bone.

Kyros did not think of life or death, he thought only of killing, any of his former Brothers, as many as he could, perhaps he and these Emperor's Children could enact some for of vengeance, perhaps they could survive...He didn't know. "DIE!!" his voice turned beastial as he dug his axe into the helm of a World Eater who had tried to bring their chain axe upon him. Kyros stood his ground, using his shield and axe to kill any that he could.
 

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Discussion Starter #70
Tiberius, Decius, and Krateron:

The Sons of Horus Sergeant takes a few steps to the right, then one to the left, head lowered, thinking for a moment. With his bolter still hanging in one hand, he only uses one to aid his speech.

‘Brother Krateron is of my blood, but I do not feel a bias is mixed into my thoughts here. I agree with him on this. If the goal is survival, then we stay small, and hidden. As Traitor forces move toward the Palace, we may be able to slip through them, group by group, until we find our way out of the city. Like rats, as much as it pains me to say it. We only sink our teeth in, when the opportunity is clear, or the need is real.’

Though the Standard Bearer is technically of the highest rank present, he remains steadfast, and silent, arms crossed, listening to the group in front of him.

Ultimately, The seven Sons of Horus begin moving in a direction away from where they estimate the Palace to be. The Decurion, hesitantly, moves in the opposite direction. Though his feet carry him on, in his mind, he is still unsure of what decision to make.

Before the two colors separate any further, two sounds come.

The first is less of an audible noise than it is a rumble beneath your feet. The second, is a buzzing. A thrum. Jet Bikes.

Squad Dillinger does not hesitate to find cover. There is plenty around. Building Ruins, chunks of building, fallen statue pieces, piles of corpse dirt, etc. They all disappear within moments. Rydon urges the three of you to do the same. But of course, you can do what you want. Hide, run, or simply stand your ground and wait to see if anything comes. As has been the case so far, your actions will continue to be affecting how Squad Dillinger reacts to you.

Darius, Sebastian, and Kyros:

As Sebastian leaps to his feet shouting the final count, Spectre sparks with with power just before plunging into the World Eater’s gut, becoming submerged to the hilt. He pulls it hard to the side ripping it free of the Traitor’s midsection.

However much the Decurion’s skill with a bolter was better than his foes, his skill in close combat was even more so.

Subconsciously he places himself in a loose ring of scorched, destroyed vehicles, having backed into a wider area now out of the narrow street. Darius, now out of ammunition as well, leaps over one of the vehicles with one hand, his gladius on the other. Some World Eaters run through the gaps, some leap over the tops as well, and some simply charge the wrecks aside. No matter their approach, they are either cut down wholly by Sebastian, or finished off by Darius.

Soon, the two notice that the force of Traitors is divided, or distracted rather, no longer coming at your position in full force. Another weapon, sparking with life, gleams through the clouds of dirt and swirling ashes.

Had Tiberius changed his route and come after them? Was it someone else? All the Emperor’s Children could see were World Eaters. Through the fighting, it dawned on them, that at least one of Angron’s sons, was still loyal to the Throne.

Push through the handful of World Eaters between you, and combine your efforts. Please, though, do not go overboard with kill tallies here. Remember, these are Astartes, your equals. The fact that the World Eaters throw strategy to the wind in preference of brutal ferocity is not necessarily a weakness, but it is something that can be exploited by those skillful enough to work around it. You are lucky they are crazed and desire to finish you off up close. Any of the other three Legions, by all likelihood, would have simply cut you down by bolter fire by now. By the end of your posts, getting out of this alive will still seem impossible, however.
 

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Tiberius watched the group of algae coloured marines walk away from him. Away from their brethren. Away from the fight. He had never taken Sons of Horus to be cowards, but how could he think anything else of them. They were leaving their brothers to die. They were running. They were hiding. Bastards! Tiberius thoughts turned sour the longer he held them in his head. But there was something worse, something that offended him even more. They could rationalise leaving those they could not see. They might be able to convince themselves that their brethren were dead. But he was in front of them. He was here. He was living, breathing, fighting right here. And they were abandoning him. They only wanted to survive.

As he watched the Sons leave him he realised that, despite his objection, he had still not made to move towards the Palace. That shamed him quietly. He would have liked to have turned around indignant and defiant, marching proudly to meet his brothers and die with them. Even as he turned around and made to make his own way, his footsteps were slow and resistive. That was what really irritated him. Not that the Sons had left him. Not that they had left their brothers. Not that they wanted to live rather than die. It was that they were right. He wanted to live, and he couldn’t deny it.

He had dreamed that the Imperium would last forever and that the Emperor’s Children would be known as the exemplars of all that it meant to be Astartes. That his Primarch would be lauded as the image of perfection; above Guilliman, above Dorn, even above Horus. Such a dream was in tatters now, but whilst he still clung onto life he could be certain that the legacy of the IIIrd Legion would not be entirely tarnished. He had been deemed unworthy, unsuited, and imperfect. He wanted to live, just to spite those who had rejected him. He wanted to turn their plans to ash and ruin and stand triumphant over their corpses. He wanted to prove he was better, that he had more honour than them. He wanted to prove that he was perfect.

His footsteps were pensive. There was still time to turn back, to run and join those he called cousin. But that meant abandoning those that he called brother. Was that right? Could he do that? Did his pride mean so much to him that he could not do what was required of him and march back to his brethren, even if it meant marching to his death? He could rationalise that him staying out here meant he could be an asset to his brothers, a man behind enemy lines feeding them information. He tried to but he couldn’t. The vox was a mess and even if he lied to everyone else, he would always know that was not the reason for his decision.

Going back to the fold meant going back to what was familiar, with men of his own to command and commands being told to him. The discipline and security of the Legion’s ranks beckoned. Our here he would be little more than a nomad, another wanderer with men he barely knew and could scarcely trust beyond the fact that they were betrayed same as him. That was what the choice came down to, ultimately, certainty or uncertainty. Back at the palace he would be worth as many men as he killed before scything blades and blistering shells brought him low. Out here he had the chance to escape, survive, and maybe even warn others. Or he might be ambushed and die alone, forgotten, and remembered in shame as the one who abandoned those who called for him.

His thoughts were interrupted by a familiar buzzing sound and the rattling of the earth beneath his feet. *Jetbikes* Tiberius thought. They would be on them soon. Tiberius swore under his breath and turned once again, running at full sprint towards the group of Astartes who were scattering like a startled flock into various ruins, behind rubble and whatever hiding places they could find. He followed the man Rydon had identified as Muor into the burnt out floor of a nearby building.

Running alone in the opposite direction made no sense and until this immediate threat was passed he knew he should stick with squad Dillinger. But he still had to make his decision. “Sergeant Rydon, I must ask…” he took a deep intake of breath, something the Son of Horus would hear over their vox link “…why do you want to survive? Is it just for your own sake, or do you plan to do something with the time given you, be it making our erstwhile brethren bleed or warning others? ” He had to be candid. He could not abandon his brothers for self-preservation. But there may be other ways he could serve them. However, if he did not leave now it was likely he would never make it back to his brothers. At least, not without a good chance he would be killed along the way.

At last Rydon responded, initially simply with laughter. “If I simply valued living for the sake of living, I would have given up being an Astartes a long time ago. I've put myself on countless battlefields, fully willing to die, prepared for it, even. All Space Marines have the same fate, Emperor's Child” Tiberius sneered at that. He knew they were destined to die in a battle on some world far from their home. Any sense of pride had not deluded him about that. He just never imagined it would be at the hands of his brothers.
“…One way or another, we are destined to die in battle. You outrank me, Decurion, I doubt I have to remind you of this. I don't know exactly what we can do if we get away from the city, but I know that if we find a way to survive, we have a much better chance of figuring out something, some better way to spend our lives in trying to turn this tide. Maybe I am wrong and we could do more damage adding our might to a larger defence, but we don't know if a larger defence exists, and we can't stand around all day thinking about it.”

That was a possibility he had not considered. He couldn’t imagine that there was no one left but them. So many back at the Palace had heard Tarvitz warning. But it was possible, although he didn’t want to think about that. What mattered is Rydon was not doing this for himself. His survival had a purpose, even if that purpose was vague at this point. That was enough for Tiberius to assuage his conscious that he was striving for nobility, for honour, for perfection, by joining forces with these Sons of Horus.
“Thank you Sergeant Rydon. Now, if you could get your squad to cover me that would be splendid.” His last turn of phrase was more jovial than it had any right to be. It was like he was talking to his own squads, as if no change in the course of human history had just taken place. But more importantly, as if the foes they were about to face were just like any other foes.

He pulled out his length of industrial chord, strong enough to support the weight of several Astartes rappelling down cliff edged too high to simply jump off. He handed one end of it to Muor. “Secure this. Make sure it won’t move.” As soon as the end of the chord was in Muor’s hand, Tiberius vaulted out of the window. He spoke as he sprinted across the open ground towards the building opposite, the whine of the jetbikes getting louder. He was certain he had seen a green Astartes duck inside that building, but he couldn’t be sure who it was. “Any members of squad Dillinger in the building opposite Muor’s position, get ready to receive the end of a length of industrial chord. With any luck, we can take a few riders off of their jetbikes with it.”

The noise of the approaching jetbikes was getting louder. Tiberius was going at full sprint, his footsteps kicking up clouds of dirt and ash as he ran. He would reach the opposite building soon, although he would likely throw the chord to make it reach its destination those crucial seconds sooner. There was several large pieces of rubble strewn across the street that he could have hid behind, potentially moved carefully from one to the next and decrease the chance of being spotted. However, if he was cautious and the jetbikes passed before he could get the cable to the other side, his risk would have been for naught, and so Tiberius sprinted harder and faster than he could ever remember sprinting.

The usual weapons jetbikes sported were heavy bolters, munitions his armour and refactor field could hopefully withstand at least a few hits from. However, the heavier weapons, plasma-cannons and multi-meltas, weren’t things he was hopeful of surviving if he suffered a direct hit. All the more reason to reach the building before he was hit. Either way, there was little chance that either he or the dust trail he kicked would not be spotted. That was good. They needed a reason to investigate; else they would have little chance of falling for his trap. The challenge was giving them that reason without getting killed in the process...
 

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Upon the Sergeant's agreement, with Krateron, the Son of Horus let out a quiet, thankful sigh. Whilst the Sergeant seemed doubtful about running into the wilds, almost disgusting, Krateron was not. It had always been his way, from the sump-hives of Cthonia to the stalk-forests of Murder, Krateron had run. He did not run because he was a coward, even as a child he had been brave and bold, but rather because it was the logical decision. Running, surviving and fighting another day was always the preferable course of action, when the alternative was violent, messy death. Tiberius, being the stubborn, proud Emperor's Child that he was, could not see that. To him, fleeing would be an abandonment of his duty, of his brothers. He cared about what his fellow Legionaries thought about him. All the Legionaries that Krateron cared about were either dead, or still embarked on the Vengeful Spirit. He winced at that thought.

When it was time to part ways, Krateron did not negotiate with Tiberius. If the Decurion wanted to die, if he wanted his last stand, then the Son of Horus wasn't going to interrupt that. He did not cast his friend a second glance. Nowadays, friends would come few and far between. Holding onto them, Krateron decided, was not a good idea. They were different Legions, the Sons of Horus and the Emperor's Children. They strived for different things, one complete and utter conquest, in the name of the Emperor and Horus- In the name of the Emperor - And the other sought only perfection. Krateron had no doubt, that in more peaceful times, Tiberius would have been an artist, or a sculptor, or a musician. Krateron, on the other hand, would have been a thief, a murderer or a rapist. They were cut from different rocks, the two Legions, and that would ultimately shine through, as it did now. The Emperor's Child, so determined to die with honour. The Sons of Horus, willing to slink away and hide, for their own betterment. No, for tomorrow.

And, then, he heard it. He felt it. Pebbles quaked at his feet, shook and bounced. Puffs of dust and ash flew into the air. The Sons of Horus shared a few curious glances.

'Jet bikes,' Krateron muttered, but everyone was already scrambling for cover. Krateron glanced around, saw one of the Marines - Herridon - Run into a broken-backed building, and followed him in. Bones crumbled beneath the two Space Marine's footfalls, pieces of armour cracked and crunched, releasing liquefied remains. Krateron had seen worse. He had gazed upon Serghar Targost countless times, after all.

Herridon lowered himself down into a window, and Krateron joined him. Outside, the atomic storms still raged, and much to Krateron's shock, Tiberius was there. Running towards them, with a wire in his gauntlet.

'That daring bastard,' Krateron grunted, and then turned his attentions to Herridon. 'Secure the line, keep this safe,' He dropped his bolter to the ground unceremoniously, and jogged away.

Most of the building had been gutted - The roof, and most of the floors above, had caved in. Krateron punched his fingers into the wall, and climbed. He was quick, making handholds with his huge, armoured fingers and toes. On the fourth floor, he turned, nimbly, and threw himself across the gap. He landed on a lip of rock, rolled to his feet, and nearly tumbled out a window.

He looked down, grinned, and licked his teeth. 'Death from above,' He whispered to himself. 'Or.. Just death.'
 

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Spectre lashed out in a blur of ghostly pale light and another World Eater died, the soft armour linking his helmet to his cuirass severed and the throat beneath along with it. Under his helm Sebastian's face was a mix of grim determination and a sneer of condescending superiority. Here in this moment all he had been raised to believe and trained to accomplish was true. Here he proved the superiority and perfection of the Emperor's Children as he stood on the bodies of so many barbarian sons of Bodt.

Another chain axe swung for him from his left and Spectre clipped the head from the haft. The reverse stroke severed the wielders hand and the final blow struck up under his arm, turning everything between his broad shoulders to bloody pulp. Sebastian withdrew the blade and spun away, flourishing his proud weapon flamboyantly as he fell back into his stance and awaited the next victim.

None came and Sebastian momentarily allowed himself to think he was safe. then admonished himself for such laxity. Nearby, Darius was still standing. The Legionary continued to impress the Decurion with his skill and resilience. With the moments respite Sebastian looted the fallen bodies around him for ammunition. There was little to be had. Whether the World Eaters had used their own supplies or shunned them in favour of their axes and blades was unknown but he took what he could, tossing some to Darius.

Sebastian signed for Darius to follow him and with Spectre in the lead, they cautiously stepped out of the circle past a burned out Istavaanian troop carrier a World Eater had shouldered out of place in his fury to attack.

What they saw from there confused them. World Eater fighting World Eater. Such was to be expected now, here, in this dark time but in this very moment his took the Decurion off guard. He did not know if the World Eaters had turned upon themselves, taken by their fury, or if Loyalists of Angron's legion had taken to the fray. The thought occurred to him to leave now. To make their escape and leave the World Eaters to kill one another. But if their were other loyalists here, he owed it to them to assist them.

Firming him grip on Spectre, Sebastian charged once more into the fray.
 

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Vultus stayed quiet as the group of Sons of Horus and the lone Emperors Child spoke on what to do. He was content to die if necessary though he found himself agreeing with the plan on living for another day. It was not cowardice, it was a tactical move. If the loyalists to the Emperor were defeated then any spare loyalist forces could either attempt to infiltrate a ship and warn the Emperor's forces of the traitors. The sooner that was done the sooner this rebellion could be put to rest and Decius would find content in the death of the traitor whore Horus. Vultus still felt the sting of betrayal from a being that he would have followed into the jaws of death willingly before this horrendous act.

The group split with the Sons of Horus agreeing with Krateron whilst the Emperors Child, probably cursing the Sons of Horus as cowards began to make his way to the palace. Vultus spoke up as the group parted, taking hold of the standard as he began to move with his brothers, "While I agree with leaving the city and living to fight for another day, our first priority should be getting a message back to Terra of this betrayal. Any opportunity to take a ship whether it is one that has somehow been spared from the attack and bombardment, or if we have to stow away on an enemy ship is an opportunity that I will not miss. Word must be taken back to Terra, and I am sure that if the majority of loyalist forces were deployed here there is very little chance that a ship has somehow escaped the Warmasters fleet." He said as he walked.

It started as vibrations along the ground before the sounds of jetbikes hit Decius ears, turning he watched as the Emperors Child ran over to them as the squad immediately separated taking cover in ruined buildings and where they could. Decius snarled under his breath as he hefted the standard ready to charge into cover in a building before he saw what the Emperors Child was doing. He ran from the building he had taken cover in, trailing behind him industrial chord as he sat a trap for the oncoming jetbikes.

Vultus smiled under his helmet as he opened a vox channel, "A brave move Decurion, and one that might work if they have a more visible target to focus on than you and your dust trail. I shall act as bait to draw them in. The standard should provide distraction enough I hope." Vultus said slamming the standard back into the ground so that it stayed there, motionless as he stepped in front of it drawing his plasma pistol and chainsword. "Brothers if I fall this day do not allow the traitorous dogs to take this standard. I will not have it presented to that whore Horus as a war trophy. If necessary see to its destruction." He said as he voxed the squad and prepared to meet whatever danger was coming his way head on. It pained him to even think and suggest that course of action but he would not allow the traitors to desecrate the standard, to desecrate the only thing that still meant anything to him.
 

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The whirring and thrumming of chainblades swirled around him as his own Brothers swarmed around him, each taking their turn to poke and prod with wild slashes of their chain axes, testing Kyros' defense with his shield and his counters with his own power axe. There was a sickening, mad laughter of sorts that came forth from his blood lust stricken kin, they were so lost to The Nails and the poisoned words of Angron, their mutual father that they could not be swayed from their course of action.

An unaimed burst of plasma erupted from his pistol as he sought to open a route for himself to maneuver to a better footing, or at least buy himself a moment so he was no longer surrounded. Quickly darting through the opening, jumping over the burning corpse of a World Eater he landed, pivoting on his left foot to face his attackers again. This sequence had already played itself out several times, each time, like a tide, the Traitor World Eaters flowed back and encircled him.

This time however, the tide was split, between himself and the two living Emperor's Children who he could spy from the corner of his eye, their purple armor every now and then flashing through the mob of white and red. His armor bore the scratches and tooth marks of multiple chain blades, in the face of such numbers he had managed to make those blows that did connect hit home as nothing but glancing strikes that slide off his armor, rather than bit and dug into the armor. A fresh paint coat would likely sort his armor out, provided he ever made it to a facility wherein he could enact such repairs. It was far more likely that his armor would bare these marks until the end of this horrible affair.

His own rage was flooding his veins, but unlike his brethren his rage was not chemically induced or amplified and as such he was able to maintain his wits. His left, shield baring arm slapped outwards at an incoming strike with a chain axe. The wielder's weapon was redirected harmlessly off the shield and Kyros brought his own power axe down, first in a strike that slice into his foes collar joint and dug as deep as his strength would allow before tearing the weapon free, a burst of blood showering himself and the World Eaters who again began to close in on him. They absently mindedly clambered over their freshly slain Brother, like ants, they swarmed right over one another as they fell, each racing, pushing and shoving to get to Kyros, looking to tear at the choicest cuts.

"Children of the Emperor!!" Kyros bellowed over his vox, battling as he spoke, his axe gleaming in the grit, grime and gore that was the backdrop against which he fought. His armor was coated in blood spray, ducking another vicious, but ineffective slash from another World Eater, bringing his own power axe upward in a motion that nearly bisected the World Eater, his life and organs spilled out of him as yet more blood coated Kyros' armor. "Have you any plan Legionaire of the IIIrd!?" his vox carried his words across the battlefield to the Emperor's Children, whether they had any plan or not, he did not know. "We can keep fighting them, but they will continue to flow like a tide! I will stand and fight with you for however long I still breathe!" There was a savagery in his tone that likely the two members of the IIIrd would balk at given their sense of superiority and civility, but Kyros was a wild animal, trapped in a corner with no choice but to fight. He would not simply let himself go quietly, no matter the odds even in their combined stand.
 

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Krateron, Tiberius, and Vultus:

The kicked up cloud of dust and ash created by Tiberius begins to fade away, revealing the sacred banner of the Sons of Horus Second Company. Vultus stands in the middle of the street, ready and waiting for whatever may come. Krateron looks down from above, able to see the street clearer now with the rising of the dust. Though just a few stories higher, he can tell the wind from the surrounding storms is stronger there than on street level.

Across the street, diagonally, he sees Gretivalus, his heavy bolter aimed and braced in the shadows of the ruined building.

The thrumming sound of the jetbikes continues to increase. The other vibration beneath your feet, hits again like an inaudible bass drum.

Tiberius sinks into his covered position staring hard at Vultus. Even if he worries the Standard Bearer may ruin the trap, he recognizes the Marine’s higher rank.

A tense moment, tightens the rope around the nerves of all eight Loyalist Astartes.

The humming of the jetbikes spikes in volume. They have turned the corner. They are on the street, and they are not slowing down. In fact..they begin to speed up.

Vultus stares down the incoming speeder. A blue and white shape, rapidly increasing in size, heads straight for him, with more of them behind the first. He wonders if the large barreled gun protruding from its front end will open fire. Instead, the edge of a blade catches the firelight. It makes a wide arc through the air as it is unsheathed from its bearer’s side.

Vultus makes one statement over the vox to the other seven Space Marines, before the cataclysm.

‘Traitors.’

The following takes place in about 15 seconds:

Right before the World Eater’s broad, bashed blade connects with Vultus’s throat, he raises his pistol arm, firing off a shot. The plasma bolt burns the traitor’s sword arm clear off. Scorched flesh splatters onto Vultus’s chest plate, and the sword clangs off of his left shoulder guard with such force that it turns him, nearly sending him to the ground stumbling but - his head remains with him.

Before the light from the plasma shot has fully faded, before the flesh of the traitor has even fully disintegrated, the front end of the Scimitar pattern jetbike hits the industrial chord. It flips over the chord so fast that nothing but a blue and white blur flies past the view of the other loyalists. Only its crumpling like a can can be heard as it finally hits and rolls endlessly somewhere further down the street. The second jetbike makes a futile attempt to turn, the rider diving off. The entire flank of the bike hits the chord and smashes into the ground, rolling as well. Tiberius and Brother Muor only had a few moments to anchor the chord, and so, the second jetbike rips it loose.

As soon as Gretivalus sees the chord loosen and fall, he lets loose with the heavy bolter. The other bikes open fire with their own heavy bolters into the general direction. Three large holes punch through the Second Company banner. Vultus takes a swing with his chainsword but only grazes the third Jetbike. Immediately after, several holes are punched along the length of the bike, and the rider’s chest cavity all but explodes as he rides through Gretivalus’s line of fire.

A further barrage of rounds dances around Vultus’s feet. Most kick into the ground, but two glance off of his armor, and as if he were blessed, neither explode. They dent the armor, heavily, and hurt enough to bring him down.

The crash of the third bike is heard.

A Phoenix Spear penetrates the siding of the fourth after it downs Vultus. The jetbike smashes into one of the building fronts opposite and quickly comes to a stop, a flaring of electric bolts whip around its damaged engine for a moment. Unfortunately, it takes out the support of the floor Gretivalus was on, and he falls through as the ruins cave in.

The Fifth jetbike slows down, realizing there are more survivors hiding in the ruined walls here, and begins strafing at an angle, firing his heavy bolter into the fronts of the buildings that Tiberius, Herridon, Rydon, Solhanan and Krateron hide in. Muor, and Gretivalus are on the other side of the street.

Tiberius and Herridon take the main brunt of the initial strafing fire, their cover exploding all around them. The Sergeant and Solhanan are a bit further down the street, and Krateron, is above.

The World Eater from the second jetbike who lept from the vehicle before it struck the chord, rises, and moves into the ruins where Muor was hiding, a chain axe raised. You see a trio of bolt rounds from Muor fly clean through him, but somehow they fail to stop the Nail-stricken psychopath and he dives out of view into the ruins.

(The second, fourth, and fifth riders are still alive. The Second and Fourth are on the same side of the street. The Second will be duelling with Muor in melee. The Fourth will have a half flattened crooked, broken arm but with his remaining hand will be digging through the rubble looking for Gretivalus, hoping to finish off the Marine he saw fall through the ceiling. The fifth is the one still on the jetbike doing strafing runs on the ruins. You may take out all three of these World Eaters without much incident, but how and who does what is up to you. PM me for cooperation with the members of Dillinger. Vultus, though you went down, you are able to get back up in a timely manner. You all hear a second wave of jetbikes on their way.)

Sebastian and Kyros:

With the voice of Kyros ringing out, his loyalty to the Emperor is defined. Secured with no more doubt, Sebastian and Darius throw their back to him, forming a tight defensive circle.

There are simply too many World Eaters to fend off for Sebastian to form a cohesive response regarding Kyros’s question about a plan. The sound and feel of melee conducted by the sons of the Emperor engulfed them, fully. Clanging of plasteel, ceramite, and adamantium. Yells and grunts. Hardly any strikes made kill the World Eaters now. A strike that falters one simply makes room for another. Out of the corner of your eyes, you see one of Darius’s hands hacked off. The steadfast Marine barely makes a noise when it happens. Sebastian’s sabre quickly finds the assailant’s gut, dropping him.

The defense of his comrade creates an opening, and he is struck in the head by a blunt object or fist, unsure of which. A chain axe rips into his thigh before his sabre is brought back to bear.

Kyros fends well with the aid of his shield, blocking and striking, repeatedly. Keeping his focus despite his fury. not long after the two Emperor’s children take their hits, he sees four pairs of white armored fingers grip the edges of his shield. His former brothers rip it away from him, violently. At the same time two more come in for the now open opportunity. One punches him in the chest so hard it knocks the breath out of him, but the other finds Kyros’s power axe splitting his side.

Sebastian is brought down to a knee. Looking up through his helm at a traitor World Eater about to swing a chain axe into his neck, it seems he has come to his end.

Very loud, explosive blasts echo off of the surrounding structures. The top half of the World Eater about to finish Sebastian is completely blown off. A single round splits two World Eaters in front of Kyros into pieces. Bolter fire cuts through more of the Traitors as they turn their attention toward this new threat. World Eaters that the three Loyal Marines cannot even see due to being surrounded by so many, are blown apart, some of their pieces flying high enough for them to see.

A few chain weapons clash. More blood is sprayed.

The three of you, barely conscious, find arms suddenly holding you up. A circle of Marines quickly surrounds your blurred vision, wearing the green and off-white colors of the Death Guard. One of the Astartes in the circle kneels, and begins reloading a massive auto-cannon. They continue to put holes in the remaining World Eaters. The circle parts for a moment, and a Death Guard Apothecary skids to a halt beside the three of you. As he does so, you feel a heavy vibration shake the earth beneath you. It doesn’t seem to come from anything going on near you.

(The two of you are given enough stimulants and pain relievers to stand on your own again. Afterward, the Apothecary goes to work on Darius’s severed hand. It won’t take long for the Death Guard to finish off the remaining Traitor World Eaters. Regain your composure the best you can. The Apothecary will announce that the group can’t stay here for long and needs to get moving again. The decision to go with them is up to you, ultimately. Do you regain your fallen weapons, the shield, the bolter? I will do any responses from these Marines, if you want to PM me about any dialogue. Do you try to contact anyone, maybe these Marines have a better signal with other loyalists than you? What are their objectives versus yours, etc. Anything you can think of and wish to say, pretty much. You can talk to each other now as well, of course.)
 

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Vultus stepped out of cover at almost the same moment Tiberius cleared the last few meters. “Vultus…” Tiberius hissed under his breath. Perhaps they needed more of an lure, but they also needed every loyal blade and gun they could manage. This trap would accomplish nothing if one of them fell. The gain was not worth that risk. However, there was no time to talk the standard bearer out of his decision. The line had to be secured if this was to be worth anything. Tiberius cursed the rashness of Horus’s sons. “…I will not let the Eagle fall.” He said finally. He had no other words. None that would matter anyway.

Tiberius worked with a disciplined urgency. He tied the industrial chord round one of the remaining pillars that kept the building intact. If he could have, he would have welded it together, but he had none of the tools and no time. Instead he layered one knot over another until he could not make any more out of the length he had left. The jetbikes would hit at considerable speed and Tiberius was certain one side would give. The question was whether the knot or the pillar would give first. He drew his spear and serpenta. His bolter ammo was running low from his gifts to others. With any luck, he could scavenge some off of those who were coming for them.

For several long seconds all Tiberius could hear was the pounding of his own blood in his ears and the hum of the jetbikes approach. His breathing was shallow and tense. In a moment they would know if his plan had worked. The humming spiked in volume. “Traitors.” Came the curse unabated from Vultus’ mouth. Tiberius gripped the shaft of his weapons a little tighter. This would be the first time he had killed fellow Astartes. It was a horrifying thought, but a liberating one also. Before, Tiberius had only proven his worth against humanity’s foes. Now he could prove himself better than those he had been forsaken for. He could prove to his Father his error. Prove the perfection that came from being a true Child of the Emperor.

To Tiberius, the noise and blinding flash of light from Vultus’ plasma pistol and the strain on the chord came almost simultaneously. A moment later a second jetbike smashed into the chord and it came through. As it turned out, it was neither his knot nor the pillar that gave way, but something on the other end. Or perhaps the chord had simply snapped in the middle. At any rate its purpose was served. Tiberius rose, firing as he went. He saw the third rider be blown to pieces from what he assumed was Gretivalus’s heavy bolter. Tiberius stopped firing. His serpenta worked on organic material best, and against the mechanical mounts of these World Eaters, it was proving ineffective.

A fourth came into Tiberius’s peripheral vision, downing Vultus. Without a moment’s thought he pulled his arm back and launched his phoenix spear into it. He was fortunate. Instead of glancing off and spinning away or shattering as it might have done, it sunk deep into the metal beast’s flank. The engine spluttered and arcs of lighting began to whip out around it. A moment later it faltered. At such speeds and so low to the ground the World Eater could not compensate fast enough. He and his bike careened into the lower level of the building opposite. Tiberius saw Gretivalus’ disappear through the floor as the level below him collapsed. Soon the World Eater would free himself and try to slay the Son of Horus.

Before Tiberius could even think about getting over to the other side to retrieve his weapon, he saw the cover near Herridon explode as the marine ducked down behind him. His staticy HUD signal stayed firm, so he wasn’t dead, but Tiberius wasted no time ducking behind the pillar where the chord had been secured. Debris splashed either side of the pillar and when Tiberius poked his head round the corner most of the cover he had been behind was already gone, chewed apart by fist-sized bolts packed with miniature explosives. “Akkad, Rydon, Solhanan, covering fire on that jetbike!” Tiberius barked.

He needed to get across the street and he couldn’t do that with a heavy bolter waiting for him to appear. Quickly, the gunfire moved on to elsewhere, likely drawn by one of the other’s fire. Tiberius made a break for it. In an instant he was sprinting back across the street he had just come from, towards the downed jetbike. He saw Muor be charged by one World Eater and another, the one from the jetbike he had brought down, scrabbling with half an arm to reach Gretivalus. The World Eater’s fervour gave him an opening. Vultus was righting himself and the others were dealing with the other jetbike. This one was his.

He quickly reached the jetbike. The phoenix spear was still stuck fast in its hull, electricity licking its haft. Tiberius put one leg on the jetbike and two hands on the spear and pulled with all his might. It came free with the screech of tortured metal and the lightning flared briefly. His armour suit flashed warnings at him that disappeared soon enough. The noise caused the World Eater’s head to snap up. Previously he had been consumed by the need to kill the Astarte he had seen fall through the roof, but now Tiberius was here and a far more immediate vent for his rage. A roar came from the World Eater’s throat that Tiberius wasn’t sure any human should be able to make. The chainaxe in his one good hand began to roar in unison with its wielder as they charged him.

The World Eater was clumsy beyond measure. Tiberius had heard of these gladiatorial pits that Angron’s dogs maintained, but they clearly were nothing like the duelist rings that his Palatine Blades maintained. Ducking under the swing Tiberius struck the World Eater’s side with a blow that should have staggered him but it didn’t. Instead it swung with a full force back hand, apparently not noticing the several broken ribs Tiberius had just given him. He brought up his phoenix spear and it met the whirring teeth of the chainaxe in a shower of sparks and broken teeth.

The two broke apart briefly. Tiberius was almost tempted to taunt the traitorous dog but he doubted if in its crazed state. The World Eater dived at him with a wild abandon, swinging his chainaxe in undisciplined arcs that were only threatening because of their terrifying speed. However, it would take more than speed to best a Decurion of the IIIrd legion, especially one that belonged to the Palatine order. Tiberius weaved, dodged and parried the blows with ease. If this were a duelling arena he would have kept the fight going, just to mock the World Eater. But this was real war and reinforcements would be here soon. He needed to end this quickly and consolidate their victory.

Another wild swing came for him and Tiberius blocked it with one hand on his spear. The collision shook his spear but he held firm. He stepped into the World Eater’s guard and elbowed the Astarte in the face. The blow snapped its head back and the World Eater took a few steps back. It didn’t even wait for its vision to clear before he came back swinging. Tiberius rolled his phoenix spear in his hand. It came up and severed the World Eater’s arm at the elbow. The chainaxe fell to the floor and kept revving. The World Eater’s hand was still locked in a vengeful fist even though it was no longer connected to its body. The World Eater had one bloody stump and one hand that was past the point of uselessness, but still it came for him.

Tiberius growled. These mindless berzerkers Angron raised just didn’t know when they were beaten. It came for him, slavering and howling inhumanly. Tiberius speared it through the chest. The World Eater didn’t seem to notice, flailing it arms to try and cover the distance by sheer bloody mindedness. Tiberius kicked the flailing Astarte off the end of his spear and brought it round in a wide arc. The blade of his Phoenix spear took the World Eater’s head from his shoulder. The body still took a few steps before it realised the pain-wracked brain that controlled it was no longer there. Tiberius took a moment to pilfer the World Eater’s ammo pouches. He found only bolt pistol ammunition. He had learnt on Murder when they had been stranded for 27 days that bolt pistol ammunition served well enough as regular bolter ammo, albeit you had to reload more frequently. He needed to survive and he needed ammunition to have the best chance of doing that. He pocketed it all.

Gretivalus was beginning to make his way from under the rubble. Tiberius sprinted over and moved aside more of the rubble. He found Gretivalus’ hand and pulled on it. The Son of Horus came out onto his hands and knees. “You ok?” Gretivalus nodded. Tiberius reached into the hole and pulled out Gretivalus’s heavy bolter. He handed it to the Son of Horus. “Get into position again. This isn’t over.” Tiberius stowed it Phoenix spear and Serpenta. The nearest jetbike he didn’t trust to keep him going. His best bet was the one Gretivalus killed the rider of. It had tumbled a little ways down the street and was currently upside down.

In the distance, Tiberius heard the familiar hum of another wave of jetbikes. He hoped they were more World Eaters, or Death Guard. Neither had any skill or finesse when it came to the art of riding a jetbike. The Sons were adequate, but he would only become concerned when the jetbikes wore the livery of the IIIrd legion. Until then, he could put them through their paces. “Whoever among you can ride with any skill…” Tiberius ordered as he turned over the jetbike. One side was splashed with blood. This was not the first fight these bikes had been in. “…grab a jetbike and follow me. The rest of you, take up positions and set up the trap again if you can. We’ll force them to come to you.” By his reckoning , if the same number came for them again and they could disable as many jetbikes as they had this time, they could all leave after this. The speed of the jetbikes would carry them away from the main advance and give them time and manoeuvrability to plan their next move.

Tiberius more frequently took to the field with his simple power pack or a jump pack, but his legion prized speed and perfection in their strikes and so was an adept jetbike rider. Far better than the skills he had seen displayed by these World Eaters. Normally jetbikes could simply ride upwards into the low atmosphere and circle back, but that would leave them too exposed. Tiberius yelled over his shoulder. “We stay low and cut around. By the sound of things those jetbikes aren’t far off. We circle behind them and force them into this street. Shoot to kill the riders. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you we need those jetbikes intact. Just…” Tiberius smiles to himself “…do what I do and everything should go off without a hitch.” He gripped the handlebars and gunned the thruster. It was time to show theses traitors the errors of the their ways…
 

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He listened. From his perch, above the ruination, Akkad Krateron listened. He had drawn Oathkeeper, smothering the blade in ash, so not to betray his position. It was a shame, sullying such magnificence, but soon enough it would taste the blood of his brethren, regardless of their Legion. Whoever came for Krateron now, be they sworn to the Throne of Terra or the banner of Horus Lupercal, would risk his wrath. Oh, how the world has toppled, he lamented. Just hours earlier, his Legion had been whole, great - The finest of the Imperium. Now it was shattered and broken, perhaps a quarter or more of it dead, and many more would share that fate. He ran an armoured finger along the edge of Oathkeeper, scraping away the blood and cinders that clung to his armour like a second skin, and lowered himself into a crouching position. The tower creaked around him, the winds stronger here, scouring his armour.

Before him, an endless sea of broken, cleaved buildings filled his eyes. A monument of betrayal, where once the Choral City had been beautiful, it was now a hideous mausoleum. Below him, the pack of jetbikes entered the street, engines keening into a whine as they accelerated. Their riders were blue and white, dappled with blood, one bearing a wicked blade. World Eaters, Angron's savages. Subconsciously, Krateron smiled. Is this all you have?

'Traitors,' The standard bearer, Vultus, said. He was - Foolishly - Standing in the centre of the street. Everything happened so quickly, so blindingly quick, that Krateron had trouble keeping up. Vultus slew one of the World Eaters, and then was swinging his Chainsword, whilst Dillinger and Tiberius were assailing the others.

One of the jetbikes was strafing the building beneath Krateron's feet, weapons barking. Krateron leapt before he had time to doubt himself - Oathkeeper held in both his hands, and for a brief moment, he was falling. The Son of Horus landed upon the jetbike and it bucked, striking the ground. The rider's helmet swung up and Krateron buried the length of Oathkeeper between his ribs. The World Eater jerked back, yanking on Krateron's blade, and the Son of Horus let it go.

Krateron punched the Marine. An eyelense burst, sprinkling glass across the floor, as the jetbike spun and swerved. So this is it, Krateron thought, as he wrestled his combat-blade free, and rammed it through the World Eater's helmet. This is how the world ends.

He tore Oathkeeper free, sliding it back into his scabbard, and maglocked his combat-blade. He kicked the dead World Eater from the saddle and settled himself into it, flexing his fingers around the controls, and arched it around. The others had dealt with the World Eaters, by now, butchering them mercilessly. In his tenure amongst the Catulan Reavers, Krateron had utilised jetbikes on several occasions, but still it felt strange, now. It was not the sea-green of the Sixteenth, but rather the stark blue and green of the Twelfth. Strange days, indeed.

His eyes turned on the others. He was listening to Tiberius, as he issued orders. There was a second wave of jetbikes inbound - More World Eaters, perhaps. Either way, it wasn't going to be good.

I should leave.

I should leave and not turn back, not see these fools die for their revenge.

Krateron pushed forwards on the thrusters. His jetbike lurched off.

After Tiberius he went, cursing himself.
 

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The battle was furious. Like a fool he had thought them almost safe. He had believed that with the arrival of the Loyal World Eater and his final charge they could break this assault, for a time at least. How wrong he had been. Here he stood now, back to back with two other warriors, fighting for his life in a way he rarely been forced to before. The distances were too close. Spectre's reach was negated and Sebastian was reduced to smashing at his foes with it's pommel and his own armoured fists.

He saw Darius's hand brutally hacked away. Lowering his shoulder Sebastian slipped the strike from a World Eater and countered the one that had brutalised his brother. For the first time in minutes he felt the rush of a blow king true as Spectre pierced the World Eater's abdominal armour and eviscerated his guts.

The victory was fleeting. A next moment Sebastian's head swam from a blow he didn't see. He barely even felt the blows that crumbled his legs. The next he knew he was looking up from the dirt at a World Eater, swinging his axe overhead like an executioner.

'So this is how I die.' he thought. Sebastian always knew he would die, he was under no illusion of the invincibility or immortality of the Astartes as many were. He knew that when he died he would do so on the battlefield, most likely badly. He had never thought it would come so soon though. He had always pictured his demise as a Lord Commander, or at least a Captain, fighting on the very edges of space, at the pinnacle of the Great Crusade that had conquered the known Galaxy. He would be brought low but some horrific xenos beast the size of a dreadnought, but not before slaying the beast himself, only succumbing to his wounds once the beasts head had been taken as a final trophy for his flagship.

But that would not be, or so it seemed. He tried to fight but the usually lithe and agile Spectre felt heavy in his hand. Even his legs were too numb to so much as attempt a desperate tackle. In his final moments Sebastian quietly pronounced his eternal loyalty to the Emperor.

Moments later, beyond all belief he was still alive. He looked up and first flinched from the warriors now around him. Even in his shaken state he recognised the livery of the Death Guard and knew there was a chance that they too were traitors to the Emperor. Had he the strength to fight he may have done, but before he could do anything he was being tended by an Apothecary. He felt a renewed vigour flow through him. His head cleared and he looked up.

"Thank you." he said, still slightly wearily as he pushed himself to his feet. He looked over at Darius and saw that, missing hand aside, the Legionary was also seemingly doing well. The loyal World Eater had survived also. Around them were the bodies of the traitor Sons of Angron who had harried them for so long.

There were a dozen questions that leapt to Sebastian's mind. The first though was simple.

"Who are you?"
 

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Vultus waited in tense silence as the thrumming got closer and closer. He held his pistol down at his side with his chainsword leaning against his left pauldron, his fingers constantly drumming the hilt of his blade as he waited for what was coming. Whilst he knew that this wasn't his brightest idea standing in the open it would more than likely draw in traitors who would want to take the standard as the trophy and if by some miracle they were loyal to the Emperor then he maybe able to wave them off before they hit the chord.

Soon the jetbikes flew into view baring the white and blue colour of the World Eaters with Vultus starting to wonder whether or not they would fire he could see the lead bike pulling out a blade, typical of that legion when presented with any enemy they would always want to rush in like a berserker. He snarled one word down the vox to alert his brothers "Traitors." Before the first bike came flying towards him, blade descending as it went to take his head from his shoulders.

Vultus raised his plasma pistol and fired at the driver, the superheated plasma connecting and melting away the drivers arm so the the blade hit against his pauldron and only turned him rather than losing his head. The bike hit the chord and went flying out of control wrecking behind Vultus somewhere, but his attention was focussed on those in front. Four jetbikes remained up and continuing forwards as the rest of the loyalists made their presence known by firing on the bikes. Vultus didn't have a moment to pause and focus as the other jetbikes carried on forwards and he swung his chainsword rather ineffectively at them before two rounds slammed into him knocking him down onto one knee. Lucky for him the rounds didn't explode or he was sure that he wouldn't be getting up again.

As he righted himself he could see that only three of the jetbikes were still alive, one strafing the building where most of Squad Dillinger were bunkered down whilst another was dueling with Muor with the final marine fishing through the remains of the building where a jetbike crashed searching for Gretivalus. Vultus watched as the Emperors Children ran to help Gretivalus and so Vultus righted himself he grabbed his weapons and charged to help Muor out.

The traitor was fighting like a madman, something his entire legion was known for and had taken hits and ignored them. Vultus charged towards the melee and slammed into the traitor with full force, knocking both of them off of their feet. "Brother Muor finish this." Vultus snarled as he wrestled with the traitor on the ground, barely able to hold the marine on the ground it was thrashing about so much. Muor leapt forward taking the traitors head off with his blade, narrowly missing Vultus' own due to the close proximity Vultus had been to the traitor.

Vultus slowly got to his feet before retrieving the standard, a few rounds had punched through the cloth but that had been expected at the least. The Emperor's Child and one of the Sons of Horus leapt onto bikes and sped off heading towards more humming which could only be more bikes, the Emperor's Child saying to rearm the trap as he left. Vultus turned to his brothers again, "Find what cover you can and prepare the ambush again. We don't have much time and we will have to start moving again soon lest we become trapped here." Vultus said as he prepared himself for another ambush, the next time the traitors came they would have more numbers, this time he would take no chance of being bait, that was already being taken care of.
 
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