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Peeking out of the building, Zachariah saw the green monsters rush through the breached gate. He had been certain the walls would've protected them, or at least would've lasted a lot longer than they did. The sound of the explosion was still ringing in his ears, blurring with the sounds of battle into a surreal noise. Zach had never been in such immense and imminent danger, which made it something he could not fully comprehend. It was almost as if he was dreaming a vivid nightmare, and could wake up any moment. At least he thought, that was what he hoped.
As he peered over the sights of his weapon, the ugly creatures came into view through the smoke and dust. For the first time able to take a good look at them, their alien features only added to Zach's feeling of surreality. The beasts rushed onwards, spraying the building with small explosions that cracked into the wall nowhere near Zach. He had instinctively lowered his head, costing him precious time to take aim. The fear now had a slight taste of anger, as Zach again pushed his cheek to the stock of the gun. He quickly sought out the closest one, and all surroundings faded into nothingness. He lined his shot up as fast as his training had allowed him to do so, holding his breath. Then, he felt his finger curl around the trigger, and a lasbolt slammed right into the ork's knee. The monster slammed forward, its face hammering into the courtyard. A rush of accomplishment came over Zach, as he quickly sought out another target. His sights swayed across the ork next to the one that fell, and would've steadied were Zach not pushed in his side.
Why would anyone do that? Zach pondered the madness that must've come over the man next to him, disturbing his chance for a second hit. But as he repositioned himself to fire again, strong arms dragged him to what he would later realise was safety. For the second time, the room erupted in blinding light, flying debris and a noise even louder than the one before.
It was not long before his senses returned to him, still aching from overexposure. He slowly arose, and looked around. Most of the men in the room seemed relatively unharmed.
“Come one, they still need our help.” His saviour said. Zach stammered his thanks to him, and rushed back to the window, still unsure what had happened just yet. He had woken up, but was still in a nightmare.
 

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My gaze never breaks from the xeno’s piggish eyes as my pistol bucks against my grip in quick succession. I witness its hatred for me warring with the sudden realization that its life is measured in mere moments.

I feel the smile pull at my lips as something akin to fear ghosts through its alien eyes. It had not considered the possibility it could die here.

A possibility that I was about to ensure became a very abrupt reality.

-

The bolt rounds hammered home in green flesh, the first catching the ork leader low in the gut and decorating the wall behind the xeno with vital fluids a moment later as the explosive round detonated. The second round made a wet crack as it tore through the ork’s upper chest, shredding lung tissue with razor sharp fragments.

The xeno coughed thick green blood across the front of Theo’s armour. Flecks of lung and splinters of rib clung to the scared Templar cross on his chest as the beast’s meaty paw shot forward to connect with Theo’s helm before he could react. The blow rocked the young Templar, a brief spray of grey static lacing the ruby wash of his helm’s display.

The ork surged forward, reaching out to grab at Theo’s chain-clad wrist. Even wounded it strength was still massive. With a coughing roar that saw yet more of its foul blood leaking from its gaping jaws, the ork jerked Theo forward, spinning him around and slamming his back into the fractured wall of the outpost.

The impact drove the air from his enhanced lungs and rattled his teeth in his skull. Dust from the abused rockcrete settled across black enameled ceramite, sticking to the green blood that flecked its surface. Gripping its gun like a club, the xeno beast endeavored to bash Theo into a black and red pulp.

Blocking the makeshift club was like trying to halt a land raider with his bare hands, and Theo grunted as he was thrown back into the unforgiving surface of the wall yet again as the ork leader’s gun hammered him with blow after blow. With a final roar the beast threw itself at him with all its remaining strength.

However, the structure at his back had taken considerable damage and the combined weight of a power-armour clad astartes and ork nob was finally too much for it to bear. With a sharp crack, not too unlike the dry snapping of bone, the wall disintegrated in a tumble of masonry and stone-dust.

Theo was rolling before he even hit the ground, his fist pistoning out to crack into the ork’s thick skull with the hilt of his knife. The blow connected with a low crack, and the ork tumbled to the ground amid the rubble. Theo growled, holstering his pistol and hauling the beast over as he put a knee to its chest.

The gleaming edge of Theo’s blade caught the filtered light that was coming through the hole at his back as it was buried to the hilt in the corded flesh of the xeno under him. Theo jerked the blade hard, using both hands to force it down through muscle and flesh and into the floor beyond.

With the ork pinned under him, Theo reached out to the side, feeling for the chain that bound his chainblade to his armour and, with the chime of cold adamantium on stone, wrapped his gauntleted fingers around the grip. The blade came to snarling life as his finger found the activation stud, chewing the air with the hungry whine of diamond-edged teeth.

Theo released his grip on his combat blade, leaving it buried in the chest of the ork as he rose to his feet over its mewing prone form. The xeno’s life was measured in mere moments, however Theo’s blade paused as a consideration passed through his thoughts. He reached forward and drug the ork’s head towards him by its lower jaw, ensuring that its eyes met the uncaring red lenses of his battle helm.

Theo’s deep voice was a dark growl of vox-distortion,

Who is the one who you follow, filth? Who is the one who leads your craven forces and condemns you to death…’

Without waiting for an answer, Theo brought his chainblade down on the exposed neck of the beast. The head came away with the sharp smell of cut bone and blood geysered from the corpse as it went into spasms. He held the detached head out for a long moment before letting it drop to his side.

Theo locked his dripping chainblade to his armour and put his armoured foot on the beast’s corpse. With a grunt he pulled his combat blade from the chest of the dead xeno, and, with care that bordered on ceremonial, pressed the blood-slick blade onto the torn parchment chained to his shoulder guard.

Only then did Theo look up to the room around him, targeting reticules flashing before his eyes, a bloodied demi-god of war haloed by the ruins that only served to exemplify the sheer primal power of a being bred for one sole purpose.

-

I am the blade that will cut out the heart of the Emperor’s foes.
 

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Hal; Your wild shots go wide, all but one missing their mark. The one shot that did hit managed, by the grace of the God-Emperor, to clip the Orks hand and make it drop the pistol it had been clutching; not that the monster seemed to care in the slightest. Breaking into a sprint, the Ork ate up the distance between the two of you, taking a second las-bolt to the shoulder without slowing. All to quickly it was upon you, barreling into your impressive frame like a truck and lifting you off your feet.

You hit the ground hard, rolling to the side by instinct. That instinct saved your life as the Ork hammered a club into the ground where your head had been. You lash out with a leg and connect with the aliens knee, and though it grunts in pain, connecting with the creature is like hitting solid stone. The Ork rounds on you with the club again, but you shift to the side and avoid another killing blow; this time smashing your carbine into the Orks arm and making it let go of the club.

With an inhuman snarl, the Ork drops onto you, one massive hand tightening around your neck and the other pinning one of your arms.

[If you didn't know any better you'd swear there was glee in those inhuman beady red eyes. As your vision starts to fill with spots, your left to either try and grab the Orks fallen club that is slightly out of reach or try to loosen the Orks grip around your throat. You have only enough time for one, go for the club or try to stop the Ork; which do you do?]


Dom; The Ork all but explodes in a shower of gore, and despite the urgency of the situation around you your body refuses to move for a moment. You've seen death before, lived it for a time, but this still struck you. This wasn't a human dieing, or the killing of an animal for a commodity; this was an alien that just wanted you and the others dead for the fun of it.

Anger welled up in your chest, and with a shake of your head you regain control of your legs and head back to the stairs. Even though its has been only a minute or two, things appear to have changed dramatically. Where before there had been about half a dozen Orks, now there are only two; and where before several had been shooting at the main building of the compound, now there is a hole in the wall and smoke coming out of the windows. Of the occupants you don't know, but they are beyond your care at this time.

Instead your attention falls to the last two Orks, each one grappling with another trooper. The closest one is on the ground, strangling the massive form of Varks, while the second Ork stabs and swipes at LaVeer with what might be a knife. The smaller man just barely manages to avoid the attacks each time, but how long can his luck hold out?

[Both men are in dire need of aid, but Hal is pinned beneath an Ork. If you shoot the alien there is a chance you'll hit him.]


LaVeer; With a snarl the Ork tears the carbine from your grip, tossing the weapons aside and tearing a knife half as long as your arm from a scabbard. It takes a lunging swipe at you, which you just barely manage to avoid, before it turns with inhuman speed to stab at you. This forces you to jump back, the tip of the blade just catching your flak vest and putting a gauge in it.

Theres barely a moment for you to breath as it comes at you again, this time forcing you to drop low and scramble away. You throw a loose stone at the Ork, to try and give you a second to put some distance between you.

[With no weapon theres little you can do to fight the Ork. You could try to make for the main building the others had gone to, maybe they can help you, or you can try for the ramparts where you had seen Krassus go.]


Tobias, Elias, Liam, Alec, and Zachariah; Before you can even move the wall explodes inward and a massive object crashes onto the floor on the far side of the room. A whirlwind of limbs, some the fleshy dark green of the Ork leader and others armoured black and white, trade impacts with one another until the Ork is pinned beneath its attacker attempting to jam a blade into it.

Elias and Tobias; For a second your dumbfounded at the sight, the wall caving in and all. Almost at once you recognize the nobs attacker for what he is, adeptus astartes, and with that turn on the still dumbfounded PDF with you and rouse them back to action.

[The space marine can take care of the nob, get the troopers back onto the other greenskins. In all the years you've been fighting for the Emperor you have only seen space marines on two occasions. Its not something you encounter very often, but its not enough to keep you stopped.]

Liam, Alec, and Zachariah; You don't know what to think of this thing attacking the Ork leader. Its easily as massive as the alien and more human like than the Orks. Like them it looks to be inhumanly strong and tough, but unlike the Orks it is covered from head to foot in some kind of armour and its shoulder are monstrously oversized.

The offworlders don't give you time to gawk though, turning your attention away from the brawl and back towards the other Orks.

[There are only two of the aliens left and they are busy trying to kill Varks and LaVeer. Who do you help?]


Theodoricus; Standing up to your full height, you survey the soldiers before you. All but two wear the fatigues of planetary troopers, the remaining pair are clad in dark fatigues and clearly better armed and equipped. A combination of your armours machine spirit and your own memory recognizes the pair as guardsmen of the Elysian drop regiments; highly regarded elite infantry specializing in lightning strikes and emphasizing the use of aerial support elements over heavy armour.

The pair waste no time, drawing the other troopers back to the fray outside. A sentiment you most definately find agreeable, as you head out of the room to finish this filth. You cross to a trooper pinned beneath a greenskin, an armoured boot driving into the xeno's side and making it let go of the trooper. You stamp down before the Ork can recover, shattering its wrist before hauling the beast up by the neck with your free hand.

[Finish it]


[For those with a choice, shoot at the Ork of your choice until Theo deals with it. Then your attention clearly goes to the last one remaining. After LaVeer has acted, first come to killing the last Ork; happy hunting.]
 

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Waiting for the two second recharge for the weapon had more of a stressful effect on the ex prisoner more than the actual thing putting him in peril in the first place. Each time Hal fired, the blazing spears of red missed, passing through the air with a crackling hiss. One shot grew into two, then three, all missing their mark as the Ork began to break into a sprint towards Hal.Growing frustrated, Hal finally brought his carbine up to eye level to give him more accuracy in hitting the monstrosity of muscle. Staring down the sights of his rifle, Hal bypassed the litanies taught to him and aimed center mass into the creature charging him.

Perhaps it was because of the thing's wild charge, or maybe because some entity had smiled down upon Hal that day, but the las beam caught the alien in his pistol hand, deadening the nerves of the meaty grasper and causing the ork to drop his firearm.

With what little time he had, there was none to be spared for celebration, as the savage was upon him. Firing a second shot into the ork, Hal had managed to clip the massive bulge of shoulder muscle, which the sprinting xeno seemed to give no care of. Seeing the distance between him and the greenskin had perished, Hal braced himself for the coming charge, hoping to at least remain on his feet.

Such hopes were soon flung out the window as the ork bashed into the PDF trooper, sending him flying. Never before had he felt such force, such raw power in one blow. Hal flailed through the air, the air driven from his lungs and conscious movement inhibited as he slammed into the unforgiving ground of the compound.

His body, although still in relatively good shape, ached to simply lie there and rest, to be given time to recover it's breath. However, his prior experiences would not allow his body's desires to be fulfilled, and he burst into action, rolling to his right and jumping to his feet.

Not even a second after Hal's head had left the ground, that a crudely constructed club smashed down into the dirt, producing a good sized crater into the ground. The battle high alien grunted slightly in surprise when he did not feel the crunch of bone under his club, then again in pain as he felt the impact of a boot hitting its unarmored knee.

Hal regained his predatory grin as he was able to land a blow on the ork, and almost burst into hysterical laughter when a narrowly dodged the lethal swipe of the alien's weapon. It was all getting to him, the rush of adrenaline, the feeling of utter pain even when he landed a hit on his enemy, even the slightest amount of pain he could cause to his seemingly unstoppable opponent brought him to new heights of exhilaration. Never before had he faced such a foe in his life, never before had he been tested to such extremes of combat. This was the fight of his life, this was the purpose of his life, the drive to spill blood in the name of survival, for his sake and his sake alone.

Catching the opportunity with his pale eyes, Hal swung the butt of his carbine into the ork's elbow, sending another stunning jolt into the beast's other arm, making it lose it's grip on the ramshackle weapon. Another small victory gave Hal a slight feeling of anticipation. Was it possible that he, and he alone could defeat such a monster in hand to hand?

That question seemed to be a little premature, for right before the hulking figure of Hal could gather his strength for another attack, the savage creature lunged at him with a snarl, sending them to the ground. It was then when Hal could finally appreciate the true brute strength of his enemy, as he felt the arm he was holding his rifle with being pinned to the dirt below him by a massive slab of green.

However, that was not his main concern, as the ork chose to slam his other hand down onto Hal's bullish neck. Letting out a slight choking noise, Hal felt the world around him darken, and the icy grasp of fear blossom in his heart. It was terrifying and invigorating, to have his life be on the verge of extermination.

There was a slight pause between the two adversaries, both glared at each other with unconstrained glee and hatred. Both grinned uncontrollably, one of yellowed and cracked fangs, the other of artificially sharpened white teeth. But the lack of oxygen and the crushing weight of the ork led Hal to look for a way out.

A jumble of thoughts ran through his mind as he fought to stay conscious, from uselessly grasping at the ork to the combat knife strapped tightly to his belt. Unfortunately, his knife had been attached to his rear instead of his side, prohibiting him from using it. All of his options seemed to fall short, nothing seemed to be at his disposal. He was about to resort to simply beating his fist into the face of the massive alien on top of him, but he spotted a blurry form a few feet away from him, lying uselessly on the ground.

With all the might he could muster, Hal began to push back on the ork's hold of his neck, tightening his neck and abdomen as hard as he could to gain a bit of wiggle room, at the cost of loosing even more of his vision to the darkness. He grasped wildly for the thick pipe of the clubs handle, not even able to see it anymore due to his vision loss. He stretched as far as he could, desperately searching the area with his hand, locking a defiant glare with the xeno's glee filled eyes.

As the darkness grew, and his strength waned, Hal could've sworn he felt the cold metal of the alien's discarded weapon, and he grasped at whatever he could. He couldn't feel if he had the weapon in his hand or not, nor could he feel it's weight, but he flung his arm towards the laughing skull of the greenskin, intent on either bashing it's head with cold steel, or his own fist, whichever he had at his disposal.
 

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A Choice

Dom had not realized how much time had passed from when he slew the ork and to getting to the stairs to check on his fellow PDF troops, it seemed much of the orks had already been killed, no doubt due to whatever that black and white ceramic behemoth was. Greenish blood dripped from his goatee and trickled through the cracks on the scarred side of his face, he was lucky that this day had not added more scars, yet at least.

He looked down to the ground level outside the main building in the yard that used to be protected by the gate, two orks remained that he could see at least. One was swiping at and chasing a smaller lad, Krassus had never bothered to learn any of their names. Blow after blow the ork flung at the smaller PDF trooper, but for some reason none of the attacks had managed to make its mark, something was watching over the lad for now, though he doubted it was anything Imperial Propaganda would have him believe. This was just pure chance ad survival instinct.

The second Ork was strangling the only other really large man in this platoon besides himself, this one looked like he had seen the prisons of this planet, he looked sort of like some of the gangers that he has killed or arrested over the past several years, with the weird sharpened teeth which served no real purpose besides making it harder to eat normally. However he couldn't dwell on dental hygiene, a word probably many in the PDF probably couldn't pronounce or spell, let alone understand.

He needed to help one of them, he was leaning towards helping the larger man since he was in the most dire situation, and also he seemed like he would be more useful in a fight. However the situation was precarious, he new the high caliber rounds from his heavy stubber would rip right through the ork, that only meant though that he would most likely end up shooting the man beneath the ork. So his attention turned to the smaller man, if he could get the ork off of this one, maybe he could distract this other ork long enough to get a clear shot, or get help.

He hefted his gun up and touched the silver locket under his flak vest and shirt, he had to make a decision, and he hoped it turned out right.

He aimed for the ork that was swiping at the smaller man, he had the least chance of killing the person he was saving this way.

"Steady my aim luv..." He said quietly to himself as he let loose a torrent of metal death at the ork.
 

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Targeting ridicules flash before my eyes, outlining the humans before me in the greyed designation of non-threat. I can taste their fear on the air currents over the reek of the xeno leader’s corpse at my feet.

I am unsure which sickens me more.

Two stand out from the rest, their easy movements speaking of training that only comes with experience bought by blood. The machine spirit of my battle plate calls forth signifier runes even as my gaze catches the flash of rank engraved upon the chest of the soldiers. Both sets of rank mark the humans as Corporal.

Both are Elysian.

My mind pulls the name from hypno-implanted memories, Templar black has fought and bled beside these human troops before. The annuals of my own Crusade mark their honoured presence in past battles. Elite imperial human troops, favouring fast attack and airborne deployment though with little in the way of armoured ground support. Good for shock value against soft targets.

I recall the burning wreckage of the ork flyer that fell from the sky not minutes ago and smirk behind my expressionless battlehelm.

Orks offer very few soft targets, as it seems these human troopers have witnessed firsthand.

To their credit, the pair show the measure of their training and marshal the planetary forces back into the battle outside.

It seems that I will not have to flay all of the humans for cowardess.

I sheath my combat blade and heft the weight of the ork nob’s severed head in my left gauntlet, the low growl of servos following my movements as I turn back to the hole in the wall, leaving the humans to tend to their own.

-

Theo stepped from the wreckage of the wall he had just recently demolished and was greeted by a haze of smoke choked air and the sharp snap of las weapons. The courtyard was host to spilled blood and broken flesh of both xenos and human alike. Movement caught his gaze, an ork hunched over a bulky trooper who struggled under the beast’s tightening grip on his throat. The ork wore a filthy pair of leather pants, topped by a leather vest that served only to expose the myriad of tattoos and scars that marked the beast’s upper torso. Its head was a map of old wounds and missing chunks of flesh.

It took Theo six strides to cross the hardened ground to where the pair struggled.

Black ceramite connected with the exposed flank of the ork with the force of a thunderhawk’s main battle cannon. Theo felt alien bones break as the ork was thrown off the human, its grip on the trooper’s throat suddenly slackened. Theo stamped down hard on the xeno’s forearm, feeling the pleasurable grinding of bone being reduced to shards under his armoured weight.

He reached down with his free hand, ignoring the human still laying on the ground, and caught the stunned ork by the throat, hauling it up before him. Piggish eyes focused on his form and shock rode the alien’s features.

It had not expected the astartes to survive its leader’s wrath.

Theo smiled behind his battlehelm as the ork’s gaze dropped to the severed head that he carried. Rage flared in the depth of its alien eyes and the xeno bellowed its hatred at the young Templar before it.

Black clad fingers tightened around the ork’s neck, changing the roar of rage to a whimper of pain as its throat was crushed. The ork struggled against his grip, thrashing wildly and clawing with its one remaining good hand. Theo fed his already immense strength with a hatred borne from the blood of fallen brothers, bracing his stance and lifting the thrashing ork from the ground with his gauntlet locked around its neck.

With a roar that hearkened back to the mythos of ancient Terra, Theo rotated, shifting his weight and smashing the ork down. Green flesh ruptured and permacrete shattered under the force of the impact, the ork’s spinal column disintegrating into razor shards that riddled its already seizing heart.
Theo released his hold on the xeno’s fractured corpse and rose to his full height, the chiming of the chains that trailed from his weapons to his arms an odd counterpoint to the low growl of active battleplate. His armour was battered and streaked with alien filth, the white Surcoat that had once covered his chest was only tattered scraps of cloth hanging from the black chain that bound it to his waist.

Glowing eye lenses, the colour of cut rubies, bore down silently on the human at his feet.

-

I have always wondered at human frailty; the body of mankind is so easily broken, so easily shattered upon the anvil of war. But the spirit, the spirit of humanity is another matter. The spirit of man needs only one thing to stand against the darkest of the galaxy’s terror’s.

Hatred.

My voice is a low growl through my helm's vox, 'Get.... UP.'
 

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Jakon watched helplessly as his carbine was wrenched from his hands and tossed far away and disappeared along with what little hope Jakon still had of surviving to the end of the day. To make matters worse the Ork drew another giant blade from an animal skin scabbard on his waist and Jakon fought back the urge to just freeze in face of such all encompassing terror. The Ork swung at him again and once more Jakon managed to side step it. The second strike, a long stabbing blow came too fast, faster than the trooper could believe the Ork could move. Yet still, his desperate leap back saved him, the giant dagger succeeding only in gouging a hole in the surface of LaVeer's flak vest.

Clearly frustrated from the pathetic creatures persistent survival, the Ork lunged at him wildly, both blades striking overhead with ferocious power and a more ferocious roar. Jakon dived past blows, rolling painfully on the solid ground and scrambling to his feet behind his assailant. He felt a stab of pain and he lost balance and his hand pressed down on a sharp hard stone. He grasped it, pushed himself upright and threw the stone with all the strength he could muster. It caught the Ork above the eye and made it flinch. Jakon knew he wouldn't get a better opportunity.

He ran away as fast as he could, back towards the ramparts where the trooper Krassus stood with his heavy stubber.

"Help me! Shoot him! SHOOT HIM!" Jakon bellowed, gesturing desperately towards the pursuing beast.

A moment of relief flooded over him as Krassus adjusted his aim, then disappeared as LaVeer realised he was in the firing line. He threw himself to the ground, covering his head with his arms as he heard the stubber let loose over his head.
 

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Combat fugue. A ringing in the ears, an ache in the chest, a rattle of teeth and a blurring of vision. Elias was drooling, slack-jawed, as he struggled to his feet. Jaques is dead, he thought, and sniffed - Gunsmoke filled his nostrils, the metallic stench of offal, the smell of men - Perspiration and fear. Elias watched his brother closely, looking for wounds, for the spreading of blood. His eyes were quick, agitated, worried. This night had been bloody, it had been devastating, and it didn't seem to end. How much longer can I keep you alive? How much longer can I live?

Jaques had been a friend, the last of their squad, and now he was gone. Elias chewed the inside of his gum - Vengeance would come. The Greenskin would suffer, he vowed, fastening his hands around his rifle. Vengeance would come.

Let's kill these fug-' He started, but his words were stolen by a tremendous crack. The wall burst inwards, masonry avalanching to the ground. Rebars bounced and clanged. Into their midst came a pair of embattled giants; one black and white, whining and whirring, the other a squealing, chortling mass of muscle.

On Axiom, Elias had fought besides the Salamanders - He had seen their purifying units from afar, heard their mantras echoing through the tunnel-crypts, as they hunted the Black Legion. He remembered them, he remembered the destruction they left, and shivered. On Camorea, a Company of the Hammers of Dorn, haughty in their black and bronze, had given support to the Elysians. Together they had persecuted the detainment, interrogation and slaughter of a Chaos cult. Bloody business, that.

Elias had seen picts of the Black Templars. He knew what he was seeing - An Angel of Death, slick with blood, helmet-eyes glinting murderously.

Tobias was moving, too. The PDFers, dumbfounded, terrified, awed, were frozen still. Orks were crowding in the hole, leering, eyes bright. He could hear their squeals and laughter, he could see the flash of blades and guns and hauberks. He could smell them.

How many times had he been here? In a desperate situation, out-gunned and outnumbered, his heart pounding. How many times had he been here and lived?

Countless. Las-fire began to stitch the air. He saw green hide blacken and melt, running like wax. He wasn't looking back, Tobias was at his side, a mad cackle on his lips. They were advancing, they were stepping into the jaws of death, and they were exultant.

'Up and into them,' He bellowed, voice hoarse, weapon firing. 'Up and into them - For the Emperor and Elysia!'
 

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Just as Tobias managed to re-shoulder his firearm, and his brother began to speak next to him, the room exploded again.

'Throne on Terra!" he shouted in disbelief and frustration, thinking yet another bomb had gone off and throwing himself to the floor. Though the effect was similar, the cause was entirely different. Two giants fighting to the death. One of flesh and one of metal.

Even through the blurring, dizzying action there was no mistaking the form of an Atsartes. Tobias caught sight of the glowing eye lenses, the enormous shoulder pauldrons, the suit's massive power pack. He had always been impressed by them, well...on the two occasions he had laid eyes on them in his lifetime. This was the first time he'd been this close, and the first time he saw one brawling in melee.

He was more than impressed. It was like a maelstrom personified.

The size of the Ork this Space Marine was fighting may have concerned him, but it was already dead by the time he changed his focus to it. All he really needed to know, was that they weren't invincible, just tougher than the usual foes as he had predicted, he thought to himself, grinning slyly.

He noticed the PDF troopers standing wide-eyed and slack-jawed and laughed.

He shouted, 'What? Reinforcements arrive, the tide has turned, and you're all just going to stand around!?' He made to leap over the piles of rubble. 'Come on, finish them. Finish them!'

If Elias hadn't been beside him, Tobias may not have recognized his brother's voice, now. 'Up and into them! For the Emperor and Elysia!'

They may as well have been on Elysia, since Tobias had almost entirely forgotten where they actually were. HIs heart beat as if he were defending his homeworld.

There were only a couple of the greenish beasts in the courtyeard before him, and the black armored Space Marine barreled out in front of them, reaching the remaining xenos in a handful of strides. Las and gun fire hammered into the beasts from multiple angles.

Tobias didn't bother firing anymore, as he sprinted forward, and took hold of his blade, yanking it from its place on his uniform. He didn't care if all of the orks were dead when he got to them. He was dying to punch the knife into one of their throats, and slice it open, take the head even. He wanted this, more than anything.
 

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Still slightly dazed from the grenade going off, Liam was about to turn around from having his back against the wall when another explosion shook him and the others. With a horrendous crash, the wall to his far left blew in and a massive thing fell through the newly made hole. A mixture of black, white, and green shown through the dust choking air, and it became clear that it was the massive Ork leader fighting some other alien monster.

It feels like minutes, watching the two creatures trade blows and fight for supremacy, but truthfully it was mere seconds. Ultimately the black and white alien, covered from top to bottom in what Liam could only guess was armor, rolled atop the Ork with a blade in its hand.


The offworlders didn't get give him or any of them time to gawk further. One of them shouting a curse, 'Threwn of Tura!', and even through the thick accent Liam understood the word Terra without much thought. Then the pair were up, the first pointing to this new creature as some sort of ally while the other bellowed for everyone to follow him out into the courtyard and into the other Orks.

"Frag that crazy." Liam grumbled, turning around and aiming his carbine through the window. He was surprised to see that there were only two Orks out there, one on top of the bulky Varks and another chaosing LaVeer. Liam had little like for Varks, he was a clear reminder of those who had used and abused him, and equally little for LaVeer for nearly closing him outside the outpost. But all their lives were at stake, so like them or not Liam was not going to just watch them die if he could do something about it.

"Help me! Shoot him! SHOOT HIM!" LaVeer shouted, and Liam brought his carbine up. Mumbling through the litany of guidance, he pulled the trigger and closed his eyes to avoid hurting them from the las-bolts flash. Opening them, he saw the shot had cracked the Ork dead in the face, green skin now a burnt black around one of its eyes. The monster stumbled forward, a massive hand reaching up.

The whine of his gun let Liam know it could shoot again and he did just that, this one hitting the Ork in the throat. With a smile spreading across his face, Liam lined up for a third shot while shouting to the others. "Come on, lets put this beast down!" And with that Liam fired a third time and hit the Ork in the side of the head and making it stumble.
 

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Zach started to think that the building was perhaps the least safe place of the entire outpost, as for the third time the group inside was disturbed by a terrifying crash. This time, the poor structure was unable the onslaught it had to endure, and one of the walls collapsed inward. Zach came to regret his reflexive look at the duo that had caused this third moment of destruction, as the cloud dust from the walls hit him right in the face. The dust bit down on his eyes and throat, blinding him and starting a coughing fit that would last a while. His discomfort was, the least of his worries however, as he was sure that the creatures that had burst into the room would surely kill him in his state of defencelessness. He pressed himself against the wall beneath the window, with tears streaming down his face, and tried to at least gasp for air while he still could in between the coughs.
He was not killed however, and slowly his coughing subsided. His throat ached, and his voice was hoarse and raspy, but at least he could breathe regularly again. Whatever had burst into the room had left, and as far as he could see with his watery eyes, had left the rest of them intact.
The men they had found here were already shooting at the things outside, and shouting at everyone else to do the same. Zach turned around and steadied himself at the window again. Outside were only blurry shapes, and Zach wiped his fingers through his eyes once more. He looked again, and the blurry shapes had become figures again. He saw the outer walls, the dead in the courtyard, and two of the aliens still alive. He tried to aim for them, but was too afraid that he might hit the men they were fighting to pull the trigger. Everything moved so fast, and the itch still in his throat could cause his aim to waver at the wrong moment.
 

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As I pulled the trigger, the wall exploded and my shot went wide. Instinctively I pulled back from the wall and scrambled away from the hole, my las-carbine pointed in the general direction of the commotion. What burst through was unmistakably an ork, the largest of the group. He had tumbled through the wall and a murderous black fog clung to it. In the heat of the moment, I thought it was just the fumes from whatever crude explosive it had used to breach the wall. I haphazardly fired a couple of shots, expecting the ork to rise and come for us. It would cover the few paces between us in an instant and I was already on my feet ready to run, regardless of the shard of metal in my leg.

But it didn’t come for us. The black fog pinned it to the ground and the light of the battle made part of it gleam like metal. As the seconds drew on and the ork began to wail, the fog took on a more corporeal form. I was relieved to see this incarnation of violence was aligned with us. But as it drew a growling sword almost as long as I was tall, as I heard its deep growling voice, as I stood to its full height and its red eyes pierced the dim light of the building, I knew that there were worse things in the galaxy than orks. I was terrified of this monster.

One of the off-worlders yelled at us and just like that, the armour-clad behemoth was gone. Out to enact more unspeakable violence presumably. I steadied myself again and returned to my post at the window frame. The building was considerably less secure now that it had a gigantic hole in the side, but any measure of protection between me and the munitions of the orks was a blessing. Incredibly, this black-clod hurricane covered the entire court-yard in nothing more than a couple of strides and careened into another ork. After seeing the work it had done on the previous ork, I knew enough to know this one didn’t stand a chance.

The off-worlders were running to join the fray, and Liam was taking pot shots. I heard the quite mewling of Zach beside me and the dust marked the tracks where tears had fallen. He was at his breaking point. I’d seen fear swallow men on deck before, paralyzing them rather than motivating them to move faster and stay alive. “We’ll get through this, stay with me.” I whispered. Zach would hear but over the roar of battle no one else would know his shame. All I could offer was the small measure of stability I had to share. I took aim on the only ork left alive in the courtyard. I aimed for its bare-chest. Despite the layers of sinew and bone between the skin and where its heart should be, I was confident my las-carbine would be able to get through with a few good hits. Plus, there was a better chance I would hit and not was ammunition. As the battle began to reach its conclusion, my own gun added its bark to the cacophony of death…
 

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Liam; The Ork stumbles two steps to the side and then abruptly falls to the ground seemingly dead. Relief floods over you, both upon realizing there are no more Orks and because you managed to kill one of the aliens.

Alec, Liam, Dom, Hal, Jakon, Zachariah; With the last of the Orks dead, the sudden lack of noise feels strange and discomforting. At any moment you feel like the fighting could start up again, much like how the attack on the haulers had been so sudden and without warning.

[How do you react to the silence and aftermath of everything that has gone on? Jakon, when you hit the ground you saw that it was Liam who killed the Ork, the same individual you had nearly been responsible for leaving outside to die. Hal, for all life has thrown at you and despite your views of the world, the words of the hulking space marine still put fear in your soul.]


Theodoricus; Scanning the area for new threats, there no longer are any. The other soldiers managed to kill the last Ork, though many seemed to not know what to do. Looking each trooper over, its clear that all but one or two have any real training; milling about not knowing what to do. The Elysians are a different story, the pair moving from greenskin corpse to corpse and either putting a blade or shot into the head to ensure the xenos are truly dead. Though battle is done there is still the aftermath to contend with, burning the Ork bodies and searching the outpost for what happened to the occupants or more trouble.

Elias and Tobias; Hauling up and out from behind the wall you are just in time to see one of the PDF troopers pelt an Ork with a trio of las bolts like an experienced sniper might. The beast topples over, dead, as the space marine slams the last Ork into ground, saving another trooper in the process. No more hostiles does not mean its over though, Orks have a tenacious habit of getting up when they should be dead. With practiced ease, you make way to the corpses and either stab or shoot the dead Orks in the head; sooner than later these corpses will need to be piled up and burned as well.

[Theres still much to be done, do you gather the troopers and pile the bodies, search the outpost or search the perimeter for more breaches, or do you halt that to gather information? After all, how did a space marine and pair of Elysians happen to come to the rescue of a group of PDF troopers?]
 

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The moments just after battle are the hardest to grasp in my mind.

I am made for war, crafted to be the ultimate weapon of humanity, it is not surprising that I covet the hot rush like a starving man craves the smallest morsel of food. I can almost understand how some of my distant cousins could lose themselves in the fog of war like the blood-maddened sons of the great Angel. I feel the pounding of my twin hearts, my breath a growling force within the close confines of my battle helm, as I turn away from the prone human I just saved.

There is a wash of disappointment as my eyes track the courtyard and find nothing but the silent corpses of the xenos filth.

I draw in a breath, letting it out slowly between clenched teeth as I will my body down from the pinnacle of battle. Even as my body relents, like a hound called to heel, my mind is far from still.

For now, in the moments between this battle and the coming storm, I must seek to become a different sort of weapon. A weapon of knowledge.

-

Theo takes a step away from the pdf trooper that lay still prone on the ground, letting his senses calm from the heightened state of battle and taking full measure of the outpost around him.

Movement caught his attention as one of the elysian troopers approached warily, leaving the second one attempting to sever the head of one of the lesser greenskins. The man spat to clear his throat of the smoke that choked the air before speaking, his accented tones cutting through the sudden silence of the courtyard as he held his enhanced las weapon in the loose grip of a seasoned fighter.

'It's good to see you, Angel.' Theo turned his helm to regard the speaker, he seemed young but Theo found his lack of familiarity with humans made it difficult to judge such a thing. 'I won't kneel, and I won't ask you to bless me,' Theo raised a hidden eyebrow at the bluntness of the human’s tone as the drop trooper chewed at his lip between words as if uncertain how to truly address the astartes warrior before him, 'I know what you are. You're a killer.'

The second trooper seemed to have given up on his attempt to sever the xeno’s head as he spat a curse before putting a las bolt though the creature’s skull and joined his fellow before the young Templar, 'Aye, thank you Angel, for the support.'

Theo turned his glowing eye lenses to regard each of the humans before him before returning to stare at the first. He stood in absolute silence for a long moment, fetid xenos’ blood dripping slowly from his form, the low growl of active astartes battle plate the only thing that separated him from an inanimate statue as he decided how to respond to the address.

There was a bluntness to the elysians that struck a chord in the son of Dorn. Theo decided that he liked the pair for their disregard of the frivolous formalities humans would insist upon that graded on his nerves.

'You are no good to me on your knees,’ Theo gave a sharp gesture to the cooling corpses, ‘There will be more coming. Drawn by the sounds of fighting.'

The first trooper sniffed in agreement as he spoke, 'Like waifs to the smell of food. You have fought Orks before?'

Theo turned away from the question, looking towards the outer wall and giving a frustrated growl at the destruction before turning back,

'Yes, I have.’ His words were a blunt fact, ‘This is only the chaff before the storm that is coming. Gather the planetary troops, the wall needs to be sealed and I will require a group to return to the transports to scavenge any and all supplies left in their...’ Theo’s voice dropped to a dangerous level, ‘Flight.’

His tone was like the promise of a sword’s killing edge, ‘Warn them if they ever try to flee from a foe in my presence again they will not find my ire pleasant.'

Theo continued, gesturing around to the corpses, 'These need to be burned, outside of the walls as far as you can drag them. Use the fuel from the damaged transport if need be but their taint must be removed or this world will forever bear their stain.'

The second trooper spoke up in reply, 'I'd be happy to burn them. And don't worry, Angel, if anyone flees in front of me I'll kill them myself.' The elysian looked over at the mustering remains of the pdf before continuing. 'We lost our whole squad coming through the front of that storm you speak of, and I'm not about to let cowards fill those boots.'

Theo felt a cold thread of sorrow tug at his soul as the human spoke of his lost squad brothers. He was silent a long moment before speaking again, 'My crusade holds records of fighting by the side of the Elysian regiments,' the young Templar paused before continuing, 'I am Theodoricus of the Crusade Heriklas. Do you have a way of contacting your commanding officers?'

It was the first that spoke up in reply, 'Elias,' the human said, jutting his chinstrap at the other 'And my brother, Tobias. We're in the dark, Angel - Our transport came down,' the human took a deep breath. 'We may be the last.'

Theo gave a faint nod, 'I am the last of my squad. We enacted an attack on the hulk in orbit but the tide of the xenos had already started to flow down to this world. I do not know if my brothers still fight on in the skies, but my last command was to make planet fall and link up with the guard forces on this world.’ The young Templar gave a pause for his words to sink in and to glance towards the pdf troopers. He turned over the meager number of the human troops left in his thoughts, finding the odds of them surviving a second attack not very high if things remained the same as they were. He cursed inwardly before continuing, 'I must locate the driving force of the xenos hoard. Without the head the beast will falter.'

'I don't like the idea of Angels dying...' the human named Tobias shakes his head and leaned in closer to his brother and the towering Templar. 'Since none of us are from here, I'm going to ask these troopers if any of them can point us in the direction of an actual base.'

Theo gave a low grunt, recalling his own tactical knowledge of the area, ‘There is nothing of note within two hundred kilometers of this installation. It is likely that there is holo-display of the regional area within there,’ Theo gestured towards the gaping hole in the main building’s flank with his armoured first in a curt manner, ‘Though if it still functions is another matter entirely.’

The young Templar paused, turning to the man named Tobias and letting his blood coloured lenses track over the human before speaking again.

Theo's voice is strangely soft when he spoke next, even growled through the mechanical distortion of his helm’s vox there is a zealous weight to his words, 'We are the oath-bound sons of the noble Primarch Rogal Dorn, our duty only ends in death, mortal.'

'Funny,' Elias grunted. 'Our death usually comes from duty.'

'And there is no greater honour than to die with the hatred of mankind's enemies on your lips. Let your last breath be in defiance and it shall echo through eternity.' Theo hefted up the ork nob's head and looked back to the hole in the wall he made fighting it.

'See that I am not disturbed for a moment, it may be the only chance I get to understand what storm we face.' Theo turned away from the humans without another word and stalked away through the rubble to disappear within the outpost’s darkness.

-

I pause in the shadows of the building’s interior, glancing around and nodding as my eyes come to rest upon a blood spattered and dust-covered holo-projector. It appears to be mostly intact, with some minor damage made by the orkish explosives.

I brush aside the chips of stone from its surface and place the nob’s head down for a moment, the metal link hanging from the xeno’s mouth making a metallic chime as it settles on the stone lip.

I pause for a moment, the aspect of what I am about to do turns my stomach yet the chance that the knowledge I seek is right within my gauntlets is enough to drive me onwards. With a sigh I reach up and find the release latches at my helm’s neck seal, the ruby lenses going dark as I pull my helm free and set it aside. The smell hits me first; the torn remains of the human under my feet, the reek of the xenos, the sharp bite of tortured stonework, and the metallic bite of chemical propellant.

Adamantium chains clatter coldly as I pull free my chainsword, the diamond-edged teeth chewing through xeno flesh and bone in an instant. The head flops to one side, fluids leaking out and skull bisected.

I lock my blade to my side before lifting a quivering grey chuck of xeno’s brain matter to my mouth and start to chew.
 

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The Dust Settles

Dominous walked down from the wall and found a place to sit on some rubble, he fished through his uniform till he found a rag which he proceeded to use to clean his face and beard, which had flecks of green xeno blood in it. After wiping the blood off he went about cleaning his gun with that same rag, he began to disassemble it, treating it like he would any engine or generator, or other machine he use to work on, cleaning the parts. He took out a bit of oil, standard issue for stubber upkeep, and got to cleaning and oiling the parts. He hadn't worked with stubbers much while he was an Officer in the local Arbites, more used to his own shotgun than fully auto-weapons. The PDF training had only covered weapon maintenence a bit, however Krassus had always been a fast learner with all things mechanical, he never bothered with chants or 'rites' as he worked on things, as it didn't seem to help the task at all, so he figured it was just some sort of propaganda by the tech weirdos, similar to the Ecclesiarchy's own brand of useless mumbling.

He let his mind wander as he finished cleaning the weapon and making sure it was reassembled and loaded, he looked over to the group that had formed around what he could obviously tell now was one of the legendary steel angels of The Emperor of Man, he was impressed with the massive armored soldier's combat ability, that impressed him. However all the garbage he had heard in his youth did not accurately portray what he saw before him, this was no angel, their was no glowing aura of the Emperor's presence or wings for that matter. It just confirmed for him that there was a lot of hyperbole in everything he had ever heard from any authority that wasn't his peers.

The group that had formed around this massive armor soldier, the Astartes, had a few other more professional looking soldiers, much better equipped than his fellow PDF. He wondered where they had come from, they had been in the building it seems, but for how long. He couldn't tell what they were saying but he could only guess that they were trying to make a plan for what to do next, and probably what to do with what remained of this PDF platoon. He sighed as he checked his ammo reserves, he was okay for now but it would be nice to get more ammo, probably man-stopper rounds for the armored orks and some shredder rounds for the softer ones. If he could get some better munitions it would greatly help in making the heavystubber effective with this strange enemy. He still wished he had his custom shotty, he bet a solid slug from it hit harder than this stubber ever could.

He sat and waited to see what the group of soldiers and the Astartes would want from them. He smirked to himself as he thought of his youth when he had played pretend with his friend about being Angels of the Emperor, it seemed ridiculous now, especially seeing one in person, a thing made for war, he preferred his old life instead, though it was gone now. He seemed to have that in common with the power armored soldier, their life was only war now.
 

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Tobias watched the black-armored giant walk back up the rubble into the ruined building where Jacques' guts were still scattered about. He thought of several things to say, but couldn't form any fully enough to actually voice the words. Ridiculously lucky? He couldn't fully admit that. He would be dead right now. He couldn't quite get himself to say that definitively, either. Something about how massive and inspiring the warrior was? Well, that was obvious and didn't need to be said.

He and Elias only shared a look. For the first time in a long time, Tobias wasn't quite sure what his brother's face was telling him. He figured it likely that the same mixture of thoughts were running through his own mind, so there was nothing definitive on Elias's lips, eyes, and forehead to read.

'Greetings off-worlders. Thanks for the help. I'm sorry about your friend.' One of the PDF troopers had come down the rubble, passing the Marine. He had walked right up to the pair of Elysians without hesitating, lighting up an Iho stick and offering one in turn. As the man stood there with his hand out, Tobias looked over his short, curly black hair and beard and couldn't help but feel like he had known him from somewhere. He had famliar look to him, but Tobias shook it off knowing it wasn't possible, as his brother kindly turned down the offer.

'Thank you, friend,' Elias said stiffly. 'That's a filthy habit.'

'Maybe, but at this rate we'll all be dead by dawn, so I doubt it'll matter' replied the trooper, wryly.

'Fug it, my whole squad just died.' said Tobias, taking the Iho stick in a hurry, before the trooper could withdraw his hand, who continued the conversation.

'If you don't mind my asking, is that...' gesturing towards the building, just as the gleaming black warplate of the Astartes disappeared within, '...what I think it is?'

'The Angel? Aye.' Tobias lit the Iho Stick, and took in a long drag. Blowing the smoke out overhis lips he rolled his eyes over the sky above. 'You might be dead by Dawn,' he nods his head curtly. 'I won't be.'

Elias laughed, and shook his head, 'Don't worry, I'll look after you. If the Orks come, I'll give you the Emperor's Mercy.'

Tobias chuckled at this, taking a step back and seeming to purposefully look at everything but the trooper.

'I appreciate the offer...' he said, his tone still slightly jovial, but his eyes searched Elias's face to see if he was joking or not. '...but I think you might have to beat the Angel to it.' The trooper took another draw from his lho. 'An Angel of the Emperor. We're not fit to lick his boots. No wonder he regards us as vermin.'

Tobias wasn't sure if the trooper had decided to simply continue the conversation by himself or if he as still addressing them.

Tobias stared up toward the ruined building that the Space Marine walked into, and decided to give the man the benefit of his doubt for a moment, 'Emperor knows how the hell he ended up here the same time as us. I guess that's why we call them angels.' He looked at the trooper again, pushing his lasgun up more securely on his shoulder. 'Don't grovel to him.' he said further.

'He's in the same boat as us,' Elias said. 'And it's sinking.'

'Well, pray tell, what are the names of my crew-mates on this damned voyage?'

Tobias cocked an eyebrow.

Elias kicked the turf and extended a gloved hand out. 'Elias,' He smirked. 'But you can call me sir.'

Elias said it jokingly, but Tobias didn't catch on, or didn't particularly care either way.

'Just call me Corporal. We'll all be dead by dawn, anyway.' There was no light hearted humor in his tone. He was serious about the title, and spiteful in his mockery.

Elia's quick hand smacked upside his head. He had taken his helmet off while making sure the orks were dead, now wishing he hadn't. He flicked the Iho stick and held a hand to his reddening ear, scowling at his brother. Being in their adult prime hadn't changed them much, apparently.

'That's Tobias, my brother,'

'I'm Alec..." said the trooper, finishing his lho, dropping the stub to the floor and grinding it under-foot as he continued, '...and whatever your ranks actually are, I'd wager they're a damn sight higher than mine anyhow and I'd say that puts you at the helm of this ship, after him..." he'll say, cocking his head, indicating the Space Marine once more.

'The Angel says we have to burn all of these beasts.' said Tobias, still scowling.

'I'll make a start piling bodies then.'

'Not yet. Get a group of troopers together to come outside the wall with me. We need to get Promethium from the wrecks, and burn the bodies outside, too.'

After a moment to let the plan sink in, he turned to his kin and fellow Elysian, 'Are you coming with me, Elias?'

'I'll stay here,' the elder brother said. 'Get the rest of this rabble together...try to fix the breach. Watch yourself, Tobias.'

'Right, onto the chores then.' Tobias concluded.

"I'll grab that big guy on top and two others. With the Angel staying with you, sir, I'd wager that's fair….’ Tobias heard Alec saying, but he and Elias were already wandering off in separate directions, and neither of them bothered to turn back around.

All dialogue provided by players, of course.
 

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And just like that it was over. The courtyard which had only moments before been a riotous pandemonium of gun-fire, sweat and blood was now comparatively quiet. I didn’t move from my post at the window for several moments. I had thought we were safe before the doors blew open and I wasn’t sure that we were out of the woods yet. Still, the off-worlders and the black-clad behemoth were freely talking. If they were sure of our relative safety, I would follow their lead.

I was increasingly aware of the relative smallness of the building we’d huddled in, diminished somewhat by the gaping hole in the wall and the open windows but small none the less. More than the size of the room, and my desire to move into the courtyard, I was aware of the pain in my leg. We were not truly safe yet, and as such there was no time to waste with rigorous medical procedure. It needed to be wrapped and endured until we reached a manned outpost.

I sat down, my back against the window frame and contorted my leg round to look at the wound. Where the shrapnel had gone through my trouser was slightly singed. That was good news. If the shard had been hot when it had gone in, it would likely have cauterized its own entry wound and would bleed less. I rolled my trouser leg up, exposing my lower leg. I would need to bandage it with something and, as meagre protection as it provided, I wasn’t willing to tear my own clothes apart. To my right was the corpse of the third off-worlder. I leaned over and pulled him closer.

Taking out my combat knife I cut away a few strips of fabric from his already mangled clothes. “It’s not like you’ll be needing them.” I justified to the dead-man. I doubt his compatriots would be too appreciative of me desecrating their dead. I reached into the wound, breaking the crust of charred flesh by doing so, and found the shard. With a grunt I worked it out of my leg, flecks of charred flesh fused to it. Spots of blood marked my fingertips and more blood slowly oozed from my calf. Quickly I wrapped the pilfered strips of fabric around my leg, tight enough to keep the sides of the wounds close together but lose enough to afford me movement. I extended and contracted my leg a few times to check it and, satisfied, I rolled down my trouser leg and stood up.

The off-worlders and the colossus had stopped speaking and now it was coming towards the building. I was as wary of it as I was awed by it. Perhaps it was coming to reprimand me for staying in the building so long. Perhaps it thought me a coward. I had felt its cold glare when it had killed the ork and its harsh command to Hal told me if it found me wanting there would be all hell to pay.

I made a quick exit, arriving from the hole it had made. I assumed it would speak to me, question why I had taken so long but it didn’t even look at me. It looked through me, behind me. It came directly at me, not even acknowledging I was in its path and it was very apparent that if I didn’t move he would walk though me and over me, probably without noticing. I quickly moved out of its way and let it go about its business. It was probably better that it didn’t speak to me, for I’m not sure what it might have said or what I would have done in response.

I briefly ruminated on the giant war-machine. There were tales told be preachers and clerics of the Emperor’s Angels of Death. Spirits of retribution called by the drums of war and the sins of Mankind’s many enemies. Clad in thick armour plating and wielding the most destructive weaponry imaginable, they brought salvation to the worthy and death to the mutant, the heretic and the xenos. Such tales seemed too fanciful to be true, but how else would I describe this being that delivered us than with such apocryphal language. The off-worlders seemed to know more about this being than I did.

I approached the two of them, reaching for my fresh pack of lho. "Greetings off-worlders. Thanks for the help. I'm sorry about your friend." I took a stick for myself and offered the contents of the packet to the pair.
'Thank you, friend,' the larger, more weathered one said stiffly. 'That's a filthy habit.'
"Maybe, but at this rate we'll all be dead by dawn, so I doubt it'll matter" I responded, the stick between my fingers and wry smirk on my lips. If these troopers were anything like old sailors, projecting confidence was key to endearing oneself to them. The more patrician of the two took one without persuasion however
'Fug it, my whole squad just died.' *Yeah, and most of my platoon* I thought to myself, but I kept that to myself.

I lit my lho-stick. "If you don't mind my asking, is that..." I began, gesturing to the main building "...what I think it is?" If they had to ask, I was probably going to sound exceedingly foolish.
'The Angel? aye.' So the stories were true. 'You might be dead by Dawn,' he nodded his head curtly. 'I won't be.'
The larger of the pair laughed with an infectious echo. 'Don't worry, I'll look after you. If the Orks come, I'll give you the Emperor's Mercy.' He looked almost too serious to be joking. Even if he wasn’t I couldn’t waver at the thought of such an action, else he would likely think less of me. I had to match him
"I appreciate the offer but I think you might have to beat the Angel to it." From what I had seen of him so far, I was confident that much was true.

The revelation continued to unfold in my mind. My thoughts escaped my lips as I took another long draw of my lho. "An Angel of the Emperor. We're not fit to lick its boots. No wonder it regards us as vermin."
'Emperor knows how the hell he ended up here the same time as us. I guess that's why we call them angels.' The movement of the more patrician of the pair brought me back to the moment 'Don't grovel to him.'
'He's in the same boat as us,' The other said 'And it's sinking.' As much as I wanted to disagree, we had started this evening with probably over four dozen men. Now there was only half a dozen of them left.

"Well, pray tell, what are the names of my crew-mates on this damned voyage?" Another draw. The less worn of the pair cocked an eyebrow, as if I had asked a curious question. The larger of the two extended a hand, which I took firmly.
'Elias, but you can call me sir.' He smirked and it made me want to smile too, though I suspect the joke was more at me than with me.
'Just call me Corporal. We'll all be dead by dawn, anyway.' Said the other. Elias struck his fellow's helmet with his palm.
'That's Tobias, my brother.'

I was convinced they were screwing with me. They probably knew damn well I wouldn’t know what rank they really were or if it had the same significance as in the PDF. Presumably Elias felt his brother had taken the joke too far. Or been too forthright.
"I'm Alec..." I said, finishing my lho. I dropped the stub to the floor and ground it under-foot as I spoke "...and whatever your ranks actually are, I'd wager there a damn sight higher than mine anyhow and I'd say that puts you at the helm of this ship, after him..." Again, I gestured to the Angel of Death. "...and I assume that means there work to be done."

Tobias, still scowling at Elias, put out his own stick in turn.
'The angel says we have to burn all of these beasts.'
"I'll make a start piling bodies then."
'Not yet. Get a group of troopers together to come outside the wall with me. We need to get Promethium from the wrecks, and burn the bodies outside, too.' he turned to his brother 'Are you coming with me, Elias?'
'I'll stay here,' Elias said. 'Get this rabble together, try to fix the breach. Watch yourself, Tobias.'
'Right, onto the chores then.'

"I'll grab that big guy on top and two others. With the Angel staying with you, sir, I'd wager that's fair…” neither of them were listening to me anymore. They’d both begin to wander off to their own respective tasks. I could hardly have expected anything different, they knew nothing of me or anyone else, save that they had to save our arses. Still, they didn’t seem to actively dislike me, which was a positive at least.

I walked over to the rest of PDF soldiers. “According to the Angel and the two off-worlders, we need to burn the bodies and to do that we need to go get the promethium left in the wrecks of the cargo-haulers. Dom, Liam and Hal. You, me and Tobias are going on that particular field trip. The rest of you should probably report to the other off-worlder, Elias. He seems to know what he’s doing and probably out-ranks you anyhow. If you don’t like the idea of that, my suggestion would be to take it up with the Angel of Death. From what I hear, he’s very open to suggestions…”
 

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The wet taste of the beast’s grey matter on my pallet is sickening, I have to fight down the instinctive urge to spit the foul pulp onto the holo table before me.

Slowly, I chew and let my body do the wonders it was designed for.

-

I can feel the speed, hot and fierce, as the trukk bellow me bucks and swerves in the pack. My driver snarls and makes a side swipe at the bike beside us, forcing it to careen away in a cloud of dust and curses. I howl the joy it brings to the winds of this world.

Hummies. Good fight with much in the way of plunder awaits. Boss always picks good runs.

I hear him barking orders from his place at the lead of the pack, and feel the envy of his massive trukk as my driver breaks away from the group.

Go. Hunt. Find something worth our name to bring back.

Boss always picks the good runs.

-

I can see the hummie city down by the wet stuff, I growl my desire to be moving and not sitting here… watching.

The skyline lights up and I snarl.

My boys whoop and shout as the hummie city is no more. Flame and fire from the sky.

I glance up and see the massive hulk overhead.

I feel my lips draw back in a grin as I reach over to slap my driver on the back of his head.

Time to move.

-

Boss.

His deep green skin is a mess of tattoos and markings, bared to all so they can see his power.

I growl under my breath; he has done well but I could do better…

He catches me looking his way and laughs from the back of his trukk, the huge talkie array towering behind him.

Eh, he’s Boss, for now, until I get stronger.

-

Something else rises from the depths of the xeno’s memories.

It uncoils, serpentine and distinctly other, from the bestial emotions that colour the orkish thoughts.

A serpent wreathed in cerulean flames burns brightly in my mind.

-

I open my eyes. I had not realized that I had closed them.

I can feel the growl of displeasure at this slip from between my bared teeth. My breath is tight and hot, my body reacting to the urge to do violence by triggering the combat stims in my armour’s reserves.

I hear a loud crack and glance down to see the edge of the stone table shattered under my grip.

Slowly, with far more difficulty than I care to admit, I uncurl each of my fingers from where they have indented into the fractured stone.

I lift my helm from the surface of the table and lock it back into place with more force than necessary. My vision washing red and runes tracking across the room looking for targets.

My heartrate flickers at the edge of my vision, my secondary heart joining the thunder of my primary as it approaches battle height.

I can feel my lips pull back and another wet growl curl inside my helm.

Suddenly, I step away from the table, my eyes locked on the bisected skull of the xeno brute leaking blood across the surface.

This rage is animal, feral.

Addictive.

The phantom sensation of human bones breaking under my black clad gauntlets makes me salivate.

I shake my head and speak the words of a litany of Hatred of the Alien with a wet growl to my voice.

I cannot face the humans like this or it will not be xenos that dig their graves.
 

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Everything was quiet. Was he dead? That seemed the most likely explanation. He didn't remember dying though. That was a blessing. It must have been quick and painless. As he laid face down in the dirt, he summoned up the courage to open his tightly scrunched up eyes. A part of him fully expected to find himself knelt at the feet of the Immortal God-Emperor himself. But there was no gleaming figure, no angels, only the ground he had thrown himself upon and the stench of blood and sweat.

He was alive.

Invigorated by this fact Jakon leapt to his feet and quickly dusted himself off. It simply would not do to be seen dirty and dishevelled. He took in the scene around him. The body of the Ork that had pursued him to vehemently lay nearby, its face a las burned mess. Jakon looked down his nose at the xenos beast, puffed out his chest and righteously spat on the dead Orks corpse.

A little further away the Space Marine was walking away from two more soldiers in unfamiliar garb, off-worlders, and heading into the main building. Jakon couldn't quite believe that he was in such close proximity to a being he had all but dismissed as myth and legend. Another of the PDF, Trooper Grainer approached the off-worlders. Jakon couldn't hear what they were saying and didn't like the idea of being left out of the loop. He took a moment to consider their next course of action. With no PDF officer present he was naturally now their de-facto leader, this much was obvious and in the wake of the slaughter they would need a strong guiding hand.

The gates needed repairing in some manner. The bodies of the Orks needed disposing of. Personally he needed to replace his weapon as he own carbine was now in two pieces and out of sight.

He was about to start barking out orders when Trooper Grainer approached. “According to the Angel and the two off-worlders, we need to burn the bodies and to do that we need to go get the promethium left in the wrecks of the cargo-haulers. Dom, Liam and Hal. You, me and Tobias are going on that particular field trip. The rest of you should probably report to the other off-worlder, Elias. He seems to know what he’s doing and probably out-ranks you anyhow. If you don’t like the idea of that, my suggestion would be to take it up with the Angel of Death. From what I hear, he’s very open to suggestions…”

Report to the off-worlder? Jakon LaVeer would do no such thing. These were his soldiers. His command. While the outsiders plan was sound, such information should come through Jakon and he would decide how best to assign his men.

"Trooper Grainer. Thank you for your report. I will take things from here though." Jakon said with all the authority he could muster, stepping to the head of the scattered group and purposefully placing himself in front of Grainer, turning his back on him. "Troopers Krassus, Grainer and Varks. Assist with the disposal of the bodies. Troopers Caul and Thede. Start searching for anything we can use to repair the gates. Dismissed."

He didn't look to see if anyone had listened to him. He shouldn't have to. He turned on his heel and marched towards the off-worlders. As he drew close he came to a purposeful halt, stomping his right foot in perfect parade ground fashion and standing at attention.

"Soldiers of the Emperor. I thank you for your assistance. Alow me to introduce myself. I am Private Jakon LaVeer of the Prolial Planetary Defence Force. In light of our current situation I now command these men. If you wish anything of them your request shall come through me. I assume that shall not be a problem."
 

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Back to work

Dominous sat watching as they the off-worlders spoke with the Space Marine, however it seemed they had come to some sort of agreement as the power armored death-wielder stormed off and back into the bunker to do who knows what, but he was sure it was important and that not he nor his fellows humans would understand.

He then say one of the other PDF troops walk up to the off-worlders, trying to make nice it seemed as the started up some Iho sticks. Nasty habit in Krassus's eyes, but with such a low life expectancy in the business it couldn't hurt, after all if he had a flask he knew he wouldn't voluntarily be sober right now.

He hoped they would make up their minds soon, they needed supplies, and transport unless they planned to stay in a broken outpost with no chain of command. However it didn't seem he would have to wait long as the PDF who spoke with the off-worlders walked towards them. Krassus didn't really know his name either, but it didn't matter at the moment as the Trooper spoke up.

“According to the Angel and the two off-worlders, we need to burn the bodies and to do that we need to go get the promethium left in the wrecks of the cargo-haulers. Dom, Liam and Hal. You, me and Tobias are going on that particular field trip. The rest of you should probably report to the other off-worlder, Elias. He seems to know what he’s doing and probably out-ranks you anyhow. If you don’t like the idea of that, my suggestion would be to take it up with the Angel of Death. From what I hear, he’s very open to suggestions…”

Dom nodded,"About time, need to get some more ammo, hopefully anything else useful from them."

Dom went to stand up when the strangest thing happened next, another trooper from basic training came up and started barking orders, like the rest he had no name to put to him but he could tell him from the rest cause it seemed his head was planted firmly in his own rear.

"Trooper Grainer. Thank you for your report. I will take things from here though." He spoke, with what Dom assumed was his attempt at sounding important, though it was hard to understand him while he was muffled by his own ass. "Troopers Krassus, Grainer and Varks. Assist with the disposal of the bodies. Troopers Caul and Thede. Start searching for anything we can use to repair the gates. Dismissed."

Dom just raised an eyebrow on his scarred face as this would-be officer walked off to try and boss around the off-worlders it seemed.

The trooper, whom he knew as Grainer now, raised a brow as well. "What they hell just happened?"

Dom looked at him and then around at everyone else. "That right there is a case of pompous dimwit who is about to get himself shot." Dom almost mustered a chuckle but didn't.

"Well guess we should get to doing what the Off-worlders want, at least they understand what we are fighting."

Krassus picked up his Heavy stubber and headed over to the gate to wait for the rest of the group that was going to scavenge the haulers, maybe one of the haulers would be in good enough shape that Dom could get it running, that would certainly help.
 
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