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The Malbede Campaign - An Ultramarines Story

The Malbede Campaign
Chapter 1 - Arrival​

To an ignorant eye one could have mistaken the grey-black sky that draped across the planet Malbede as the night cycle, they would be very wrong for Malbede had no cycles at all. It was permanently shrouded in a light darkness with just enough light from the stars above to see by. It was a cursed world, it had been cursed for millennia ever though nobody ever said why, or knew. Though nobody would ever actually find out, nobody actually knew why Malbede was called The Cursed World, it had just always been so. It had been enough to dissuade three settlement attempts, the future settlers rising up in anger when they learned of their destination. But for the last fifty years the planet had become the fortress of new inhabitants, those who would not be frightened like children by mere curses issued from the mouths of those long dead. The Adeptus Astartes, and the most dilligent and famed of all the Space Marines, the Ultramarines, had made Malbede their outpost, to stand guard against threats from the neighbouring Tau Empire.

The Ultramarines were especially on guard against the Tau, an upstart xenos race that had emerged on the Eastern Fringe, they were to most nothing more then another emergent threat, but the Ultramarines knew different from the only way to truly know, through war. The Tau were no mere xenos threat, they were a new galactic power and though not enough to challenge the might of the Imperium of Man, there may come a day when those words were no longer accurate. But more important threats preceded the Tau, threats from Chaos raiders and the encroaching Hive Fleets of the Tyranid bio-beasts that had the Chapter on high alert for any threats. The Eastern Fringe was the border of Imperial Space, beyond it lay the darkness that defied the Emperor's light and the xenos hordes that thrived in it. It was this constant threat from xenos aggressors and the curse that kept Malbede from being settled, and made it ideal for the Ultramarines to base themselves on, if any aliens entered this space then they would want to destroy the Astartes presence, and would serve as a bulwark against those threats.

In one of the many basin-pits that littered Malbede's surface, a series of stations had been dug into the sides of the vertical chasm. Gun turrets littered the walls, in precise formations according to the Codex Astartes, specifically its entries on enemy invasions and aerial attacks, the turrets had been best positioned to repel such events or at the least to slow them down long enough for the defenders to respond. At least ten Ultramarines were stationed here at all times, though the battle-brothers may change with time it was ordained that one Tactical squad must be on station to alert against any xenos threats immediately. The Castigators of Iax had been on duty at Malbede for nearly eight years now, only two more remained before they could rejoin their beloved Third Company, but until then Captain Fabian's orders were clear, they were to take the position at Malbede until their turn expired and it moved onto the Fourth Company to provide sentinels for the base.

The primary uplink station was dark, its lights turned off to conserve power, only the screens provided a blue glow that made visibility possible for mortals, the man currently in the room needed none of it. The terminal clicked as the Ultramarine imputed the terrain report for the day, no external threats had been detected today, or yesterday, or before that, or at any point in the eight years he had been on this Emperor-forsaken rock. Brother Emile entered the date-stamp and closed off the report. He and Brother Castiel had scouted out the nearby basins while the others went on patrol in the base to make sure that everything was running smoothly, Emile hated everything about this duty, the never-ending patrols, observing these mortals as they went about their work, never-changing in its routine, and the utter lack of enemies. Malbede was on the Eastern Fringe but everything seemed to avoid it, no aliens had come here in over a hundred years, and even that had just been a light scouting party of Eldar that had quickly been dealt with, Emile hadn't even been born then. Sighing to himself he checked the orbital scanners one last time before signing off, nothing as usual, the Eastern Fringe was quiet again. Except for... what was that?, a brief glimpse of something had passed on the twelfth orbital camera, it looked like a shadow of something, but of what, Malbede wasn't due for a supply convoy for the next several months, but something was out there.. there it was. A Tau Battlecruiser coming out of its entry point. Emile mouthed a prayer to Guilliman, a real xenos battlecruiser, wait no not just one, two of them!, another had just emerged behind a huge asteroid, another two of them followed, four alien warships!,. The Codex had covered this, it was a Tau Exploratory Fleet, searching for worlds to colonize for their expanding empire. Emile's surprise passed quickly as he realized what this meant, a Tau invasion of the neighbouring systems could be coming, with haste he activated the base's alarm and quickly ran from the room.

He returned almost immediately with Sergeant Calxius, both clad in their full MK VII 'Aquila' model Power Armour the room could barely accommodate them together. Emile quickly re-loaded the streaming images of the Exploratory fleet, at least four ships in orbit, each one carrying hundreds of Tau warriors ready to invade the nearby systems.
'It is as I said Sergeant, the Tau are mobilizing their forces for an invasion of the next system' Emile explained, Calxius leaned closer and scrutinized the screen, as if trying to see whether or not it was real.
'They aren't invading the next system Brother Emile. Their invading Malbede.' he said, his voice in a low whisper. Emile turned and saw that he was right. The Tau fleet was making their path towards Malbede by blasting through the asteroid belt that separated the planet from the enemy fleet. Before Emile could respond Calxius had activated the vox-transponders for the entire base.
'All forces to your gunnery stations, xenos invasion inbound!. This is not a drill, repeat this is not a drill!. With that he turned to Emile, still seated in the station, even with their helmets blocking their faces from view Emile could tell the Sergeant's expression was grim.
'Well Emile, you wanted a xenos attack. This is it.' he said solemnly. Emile didn't nod at his sergeant's words, to his own surprise he found that underneath his expressionless helmet, he was smiling.

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Chapter 2 - Preperations

Emile was happier then he had been in years, the last half-decade had been a monotonous series of repeated patrols and duties that should be beyond him now, and it had been exactly seven Terran years and nine months since he had killed an enemy of the Emperor, since he had come to Malbede. But that was all about to change very soon, the Tau were coming and Emile would relish every moment of it, even dying could be glorious at the moment, fighting to hold the line against unrelenting aliens without the right to set foot on mankind's soil. At the moment Emile would have been fine with dying from a stray shot, as long as it meant he got to kill some aliens at long last. Calxius had ordered him and Brothers Castiel, Ajax and Aegidius to the prime gunnery station to ready the mass-reactor turrets while he sent out an astropathic distress signal, hopefully Ultramar would get it in time. Otherwise the odds of victory for the Castigators of Iax were marginal, at their best.

Ajax was working at the consoles to activate the gun-emplacements, they had not been active for some time and the machine-spirits required rousing, Emile was no expert on that matter but Ajax knew enough, word was once this duty was over he was to be shipped to Mars to undergo training as a Techmarine. Emile envied that, he himself had been interested in pursuing training as an Apothecary but as long as he was stuck on Malbede that wasn't going to happen, and Ajax had a guaranteed place at Mars, whereas Emile hadn't received anything yet. The station's resident Enginseer is with him, a slight man with a balding head and sockets placed in the back of his skull, aside from those and the mechanical implant that replaced his right eye most would not assume he was a member of the Mechanicus.
'The machine-spirits are appeased, this sudden awakening isn't good for them' the tech-priest explained, his voice was tinny even without a vocabulator.
'I don't care if its good for them or not, just make sure they can fire or we'll all be dead very soon!' Castiel barked, his temper was short and the xenos invasion had destroyed whatever patience he may have shown on any other day.
'We're nearly done Castiel, keep calm or you'll be doing the Tau's work for them' Ajax quipped without looking at Castiel who snarled.
'Ill kill more of these alien bastards then you just for that remark brother!' he boasted. Ajax smirked, these arguments were common between the short-tempered Castiel and the infinitely-patient Ajax, it was their way. Emile looked across the bridge overlooked by the gun-turrets, these two in particular were positioned so that if enemies attempted to cross the bridge they would be cut down for their boldness. But they had been designed to destroy tanks, troopers could evade their shots and invade the base, unless the Ultramarines made their stand at the bridge. The shield generator would keep orbital bombardment from destroying them, and force the Tau to meet them on their terms.

As the gun turrets raised themselves and the sounds of charging lascannons filled the air Ajax laughed, praising the Machine-God for its aid, while Castiel and Aegidius kept their vigil on the skies. The Tau fleet was being delayed by the asteroid field, but once they crossed it there was nothing stopping them from making their unclean presence felt on Malbede. Emile cursed them and activated his vox-bead.
'Sergeant Calxius, the turrets are active. Your orders?' he questioned. The reply was quick and curt.
'Well done Brother Emile. Ive sent a message out to Ultramar, our astropath assures me that it was received by a fleet in one of the neighbouring systems. We can't know how long but help from the chapter will definitely be on its way.'
'Do we have an estimate on the reinforcement's strength?'
'No, Resel is certain that a chapter ship picked up our signal but he can't tell what kind of ship. A single strike cruiser would be enough though' Emile could detect the hope in the sergeant's voice when he spoke, Emile was hopeful too, a strike cruiser could carry an entire company, that would be able to decimate the Tau. Perhaps it was the Third Company, coming to the aid of its own brethren, but that was a long-shot, the last Emile had heard the Third Company was engaged against the Ork hordes on Tamakala about four systems away. He looked to the skies once more, knowing that soon war would be upon them.

Sergeant Calxius was the ideal Iaxian, his skin lightly coloured from the warm suns, his hair dark and well-cut drawing more attention to his face, almost etched from marble in its perfect features. Even the darkness of Malbede couldn't damage his countenance. Emile himself was somewhat lesser in the perfection of appearance, his hair was a light brown and much longer, stretching down to his shoulder blades and was wild and untamed. His skin was the same lightly coloured tone as his sergeant's, his facial features however were much friendlier, more personal and less like a statue's then Calxius, it had helped in the garrison duty since many came to him for his friendly face.
The full squad had gathered to meet and discuss the coming threat, everyone had removed their helmets and had reviewed the defences of the base. The shield would hold Ajax had assured them and the gun-turrets were ready to bring down any troop-landers or attack craft that tried to pass through the protective barrier. Now all that remained was to meet the enemy and dispense the Emperor's justice with bolter and blade.
'Ultramarines, Sons of Guilliman, the hour is dark' Calxius intoned, the irony of his last words electing a chuckle from Ajax, quickly silenced by a look from the sergeant.
'Xenos encroach on our holdings, they outnumber us by at least fifty to one and we number but ten souls.. but we are Ultramarines, we are man. And we will not bow before the tyranny of alien scum!' the sergeant's words were inspiring, infectious even.
'We will meet their meagre forces, their weak weapons and pitiful attempts at warfare. With the Codex Astartes guiding our path we will destroy them before they may befoul this base.'
'With Courage and Honour!, we shall smite our foes!' he emphasized the last words and shouted them, the echo carrying across the walls and through a better part of this section. The squad echoed his words and cheered, it had been too long since any of them had done the Emperor's work, the real work of the Emperor, not pushing files or observing dead areas of space but killing the Emperor's foes, protecting His holdings and His Imperium. Emile smiled as he replaced his helmet, it had been far too long.

Meanwhile in orbit the asteroid field had been reduced to dust, the heavy pulse weaponry of the Tau cruisers pulverizing the weak rock with single precise shots. The fleet had cleared the field, and as the first warship took position above the dark world of Malbede, the very first troop-lander emerged from its hangar and descended to the planet below.

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I liked reading this, but are you sure you aren't thinking of Malbrede? Tau and Ultramarines also fought on there, until Necrons awoke. They fought back, and Calgar condemned the planet to Exterminatus, but allowed the Tau to evacuate.
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