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marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:35
In this thread you can follow the adventures of the characters from The Faithful and the Damned. Kindly refrain from post here in any way, shape or form. If you would like to post congratulations on a brilliant story and discuss where to send donations please visit Here (http://www.dysartes.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2077)
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marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:37
Camulod, Warmaster Hunters private bunker

Doc Evans watched his patient from an adjoining room. The Warmaster had succumed to a very high fever three days previous and had sank into a comotose state. He was worried very much as the fever had spiked to nearly 105 degrees before they could stabalise him, and since had ran around 102 degrees.

"What has gotten him?" Colonel Jacka, the Colonel from Cadia that had served along side Hunter since the beginning of the the recent Black Crusade. The two had fast become friends and Jacka had even fallen in love with and married Hunters mother Sarah while on Carolon. "Its so odd to see him so..."

"Weak or quiet?" Colonel Varro of Dnieper asked from the back of the observation room. He too had met Hunter during the war around Cadia and had served as his left flank from Malins Reach to the last bitter days on Vigilatum. He had later been given command of the Warmasters Lifeguard, which consisted of not only his own 172nd Dnieprians, but also several of the Warmasters own Highlander regiments and Carolonian Dragoons as well.

"Both," Jacka replied. "He's supposed to be up and making some sort of wise arsed comment, or driving the new Praefectus crazy." Jacka turned to Doc Evans, " do we know if this is an infestation of Nurgle?"

"I can assure you that it aint," Evans replied. Evans was formally Lord General Robert Eddard Leighs personal surgeon but was transferred to Jackas command before the great generals death at the hands of the Word Bearers Dark Apostle Zymran here on Camulod. Leigh was also Hunters father, who had fathered him out of wedlock, not at all uncommon on Carolon, but even after his official recognition Hunter had decided to keep his mothers family name. "Chaplain Doom and Herexei have both assured me that there is now daemonic activity related to this. I have also discovered that what had laid Hunter so low is a hemorahgic fever. The next forty eight hours will be critical. Gentlemen this is a very contagious virus, which is why I have the Warmaster in complete isolation. I have had to destroy seven medicae servitors who succumbed to the fever and began to bleed out."

Evans paused before he spoke his next words. They were words he didnt want to speak, but they had to be said. " It may be time for ya'll to discuss who will be nominated as the next Warmaster..."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:38
Brother-Captain Antaeus lashed out with his foot, ceramite boot nearly connecting with his foe's helmetted head as the black-armoured warrior swayed backwards. He completed the pivot, dropping as his opponent's chainsword swept through the space his head had occupied milliseconds before. He stabbed forwards with his Power sword as the massive opponent stepped aside, bringing his empty fist around in a thunderous left hook. The Deathwatch Captain spun again, the blow slamming into his armoured backpack as he raised his right fist, smashing it into his foe's helmet. He leapt and spun as his opponent staggerred backwards, and brough his Power sword down in a two-handed, vertical slash that would have bisected his foe from head to toe if he hadn't halted the lethal arc a centimetre from his opponent's helmetted head.

Britannus' nodded, taking off his helmet and giving a short bow. "As good as ever, Brother Captain."

Vadyon Antaeus removed his helm. "You came closer to besting me that time. You had me on the back foot for a while, honoured brother."

The venerable warrior shook his head. "Nonsense, Captain. I have never come close to defeating you in all the years I have fought alongside you. I have never faced a swordsman of your calibre in all the time I have served the Emperor."

"I do my best, Brother." Antaeus gave a formal bow. "Never am I likely to surpass you in wisdom or tactical knowledge, however. We all serve the Emperor in our own way." He placed the helmet on a nearby equipment locker, one of the few that dotted the edge of the combat preparation area of the Balethorn.

Britannus nodded at it. "How is the new helmet?"

Antaeus looked up. "As good as ever, Brother. The Iron Halo fits as well as it did on the other one. It is an honour to used such old and revered equipment." He lifted the Mk2 Helmet, the green laurel wreath fitted around it. "It makes little difference in terms of feel, but I am told that the level of protection is even greater. Not to mention the quality of its craftsmanship." He placed it under his arm, holding his Power sword in his other hand.

The veteran nodded again. "Aye. I would not part with my suit of Mk III Power armour for anything. No matter what they say, I say newer marks of armour are inferior. Something about them I don't like."

Antaeus thought. "I haven't noticed much difference in terms of level of protection, Brother. Though I know that more ancient equipment is generally of slightly better quality. And its status as an artifact along makes it an honour to wear it in battle."

The two Deathwatch Space Marines strode down the dimly lit corridors of the Strike Cruiser, their huge framaes casting imposing shadows on the occasional servitor or techpriest that scuttled past, keeping close to the walls. Antaeus was not quite as tall as the Sun Reaver Britannus, the older Marine standing a good inch taller than the ex-Ivory Guards Captain. Antaeus' backpack was modified to incorporate a pair of scabbards, in which were embadded a pair of ornate cutlass-style Power swords: primarily these were ceremonial, though when necessary they were fully-functional weapons. A black cloak flowed behind him, trailing in his wake. Brittanus' equipment was more standardised, the experiences warrior's Chainsword scraping the floor as he held it lazily in his left hand, prompting a scowl from the passing human quartermaster-behind the Marine's back, of course.

The two warriors turned left, and entered the small suite reserved for the Deathwatch Kill Team's exclusive use. Brother Acastus, second-in-command of the squad, saluted Antaeus, his bionic arm incorporating a Bolt pistol glinting in the dim light of the Astartes' quarters. "Brother Captain. Who was victorious in your encounter?"

Britannus grimaced. "Who do you expect?"

The Captain smiled. "I was, Brother, though as ever Brother Britannus did not make my work easy. Is the whole squad prepared?"

Acastus nodded. "Aye, everyone awaits your command. Are we expected down on Camulod's surface?"

The Iron Champions Space Marine lifted his ornate helm, the red and blue crest gently rippling as he placed it on his head. "Aye. Colonel Jacka has requested our attendance, 'at our leisure' as he put it. The Warmaster's condition worsens, so I hear."

Antaeus grimaced. While the Warmaster was a mere human, and not without his...distasteful qualities, the respect he inspired in his men was something to behold, and he was a very competent commander. He would be a great loss to the Crusade force were he to perish.

The Captain sighed. "Then let us not keep the good Colonel waiting." The rest of Epsilon squad strode into the annexe room, their weapons held by their sides or slung over their shoulders. Agamorr, Narra, Valiance, Coruscaen, Tyndareus, Corythus and Pyladius snapped to attention, then fell into line behind Antaeus as he strode towards the teleporter chambers on the Strike Cruiser's bridge. There was work to be done.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:40
Brok sat alone in an ornately carved wooden chair at an Oak desk in his room reminiscing the events of the past day. He is a man of average height, about 6 feet, of a large muscular build, with relatively short hair of a dark brown color, and blue eyes. For being only 51 standard Terran years, he had a wealth of experience. A scowl covered his face, as usual. The only things in the room besides the desk were a few weapons and a bed, with white sheets and a black blanket. On the desk were a short glass and a bottle of liquor, nicknamed Grox Shot. His mood remained as sullen as usual. Even drunk, Brok was a sullen man. Brok stood up and pushed the chair aside as he went to the window. Brok thought he heard the artillery of the Archenemy as he walked to the bed, and collapsed out of exhaustion.

He had spent the past two days hunting, and the previous night he had not even slept. He woke the next day, and dressed quickly. He went to the table in the main room of his four room apartment, met by the commander of Brok's Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, Veteran Sergeant Van Guilder, his Acolyte Arturus, Machine Adept Johanessan, and Collonel Sherman.

John Sherman was a moderately tall man, with slicked back hair that had been receding for the past five years of his difficult life. He wore Cadian patern Armour without a helmet and grey/green fatigues. Brok specifically chose Sherman to lead his force because of his stern and ruthless nature towards his enemies in battle. He is known to have once said,"War is cruelty. There is no sense reforming it. The crueler it is, the sooner it ill be over.

Brok stood after eating a piece of toasted bread and a citrus fruit juice. His head ached slightly from the night of drinking before. "It seems that the forces of Chaos have overwhelmed the PDF. We are the only element on Branica from the Crusade force, and it is our duty to reinforce the lines wherever possible. Sherman, where do we need to be?"

"There are three weak points that the forces of the Archenemy have exploited thus far. If we were to use my Inquisitorial Guard forces to patch these holes, we may buy ourselves some more time. I will not lie to you, Brok, we are fighting a losing battle. PDF regiments are hardly an obstacle for the fallen Astartes legions, combined with the gunfodder of mutants and traitors that follow them. This system is perilously close to being overrun, and our limited forces, however elite, cannot stop that alone," replied Collonel Sherman.

"I have informed the Warmaster of the current situation. Adept Johannesan, accompany Sergeant Van Guilder and 250 Stormtroopers to site A," said Brok, pointing to a location on a map. "Sherman can fill the largest gap with our regiment of veterans, at B, and Arturus and I will take 500 Inquisitorial Stormtroopers to the second largest gap, at site C."

"Understood," chorused the rest of the men at the table. Brok told them to leave as soon as they had finished eating, and then departed to his room. There, Brok donned carapace armour, and a greatcoat fitted with pieces of carapace in various vulnerable positions. He emerged from his quarters fifteen minutes later and gathered his weapons. He holstered a master crafted bolt pistol on each thigh, his shotgun on the rigging put in place on the back of his armour, and a bolt rifle he had modified with a longer barrel, a scope, and a stock. He put the bolter on a sling and hung the sling across his chest.

Outside his apartment, the engine of a rhino roared. This machine was painted with the red and black of the Inquisition and had been adorned with many of its symbols. With many bullet holes and scrapes, it did not look a stranger to combat. Brok and Arturus boarded the Rhino with a few handpicked Stormtroopers to act as Brok's honour guard. The Rhino revved its engine and then sped off towards the rest of the column taking the Inquisition's men to the front lines.

The Rhino led long line of Chimera and Rhino variants to the front. Brock Stepped out from the side hatch, careful not to fall on the rocky terrain, a byproduct of the trenches. The PDF forces stood in awe, none seeing such a sight as 500 Inquisitorial Stormtroopers and an Inquisitorial retinue before in their lives. The sight of these men instantly rallied the surviving members of the platoons stationed at that junction of the defense line. Inquisitor Brok strode in front, heading for the command bunker, and not saying a word.

Brok met the leader of the PDF forces, a Captain Peterson, inside. Captain Peterson was shorter than Brok by a head, was thin, and had short grey hair with a small grey mustache. Peterson had not been informed of the support he would receive, and, instead of accpting the help, became furious that he had not been informed. He was offended that he was in command of what Brok called on of the "weak points." That, combined with his lack of sleep, forced him to make the decision of disrespecting an Inquisitor.

"Let me point it out to you, Peterson, that you are in direct offense to the law by not obeying my orders. You will be silent, now, and accept my offer of help, or I will have the Commisariat strip you of your rank perform a summary execution."

The Inquisitor thought it best the commisariat handle things of this nature, because going over other's heads often created problems.

Captain Peterson fell silent and returned to his tactical briefing room.


By vox, Collonel Sherman informed Brok that the forces of Chaos had already begun their assault on "site A" of the weak points, but they were repelled. Brok was told to expect an attack on his position shortly. He walked to the trench line, found a position among the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, and put his bolt rifle in position on the top of the trench. Interrogator Arturus accompanied him, who mounted a Heavy Stubber on the trench. Always the showboat, Brok thought, while observing Arturus' work.

Five minutes later, the first signs of the assault began. Snipers begain picking off muties as they began to rush towards the trench lines. The Inquisitor quickly informed them to be on watch for daemons and shoot them as a priority target, as mutants are much easier to kill. Then the Lasguns of the PDF and the Hellguns of the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers began to fire. Brok opened up on the enemy with his bolt rifle. Cultists and mutants began to drop like flies to the Imperial guns. This encouraged many of the soldiers, but Brok knew better. Mutants and cultists only existed to soak up fire so that Daemons and the fallen Legions Astartes could move close and assault the trench.

After five minutes of continuous firing, the heavy stubber Arturus was using overheated. Unfortunately, it would have been extremely useful a moment later. Blue and purple Tzeentch Daemons charged through the oncoming lines of mutants and traitors, hoping to destroy the PDF in close combat. The Stormtroopers cut them down, but the PDF had trouble. Soon, their side of the trench fell into hand-to-hand combat. Troopers were burned alive by the psykik fire that the daemons produced. Brok set his bolter aside, as Arturus had his heavy stubber operational again, picked up his shotgun, and walked towards the problem. A daemon, bent over devouring a corpse, noticed Brok too late. Brok kicked it in the head and knocked it backwards, and put two shells in its chest. It's bluish body errupted into warp energy as it was pulled from the Materium. Brok continued on down the trench. He saw a Guardsman knocked down, about to be eaten alive, but Brok charged forward, shot the beast twice, and shoulder tackled the beast. Brok had pulled a power knife from a boot scabbard before tackling the beast, and he shoved it into it's body.

The Guardsmen were rallying, and the Stormtroopers covered them as best they could from the other forces still coming at the trench lines. Heavy bolter fire rained from the gun emplacements behind the main trench lines onto the hordes of the lost and damned heretics. Brok stalked forward, onto more daemons to destroy. Just then, Brok felt a major ripple through his minimal pskick power: an omen of an impending Greater Daemon Prince. The Greater Daemonic Prince of Zteentch let out an unbearable scream. A PDF trooper next to him puked blood all over the ground. Many of the other troopers fell to their knees, clasping their ears in a futile attempt to stop the noise.

Inquisitor Brok crawled over the trench, as the tide of mutants had been slowed to a trickle. Chaos Marines would probably come in soon, if the Daemon was successful. Many of the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers followed Brok onto the field, toward the daemon prince. Brok pulled a small Daemonhammer, shaped in the form of the Imperial Aquila and coated in gold, from its place on his belt. The Daemon struck first, swinging down against the Inquisitor. Brok rolled to the left and dodged the blow. Stormtroopers opened fire on the daemon. After repeated firing, the daemon was injured by the fire, and turned toward the squads of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers. It swept aside half a squad of good men in one blow. To see such a sight inspired Brok with an even greater passion to kill the Prince of the Lord of Change. Brok charged the warp-beast while it was distracted, and broke its left leg clean through with one blow. The Daemon Prince toppled over, but regain its posture and quickly lashed out from on the ground at Brok. Brok was hit square in his armour, which held against the blow. He was thrown into a crater of mud, blood, and human remains. His greatcoat stuck to his body because of the moisture and mud.

"That's two ribs broken," Brok thought.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:41
He pulled himself off of the ground, and looked down. Blood dripped from a wound in his side. He could taste the iron from blood in his mouth. He turned and spat, then stalked back toward the daemon with a grimmace. "Should've killed me when you had the chance," he said, as he charged towards the Daemon, who at this point had repositioned itself to fend off the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers. The Daemon grabbed a Stormtrooper and ripped his body in half with its bare hands. Moving as fast as he could, Brok caught it offguard, and swung with all his strength down on the skull of his unfocused enemy. He felt the crush of the daemon's skull, and was again thrown back by the psykik reverberation of the daemon's death scream. He watched as it too, as with the other daemons, was torn from the material realm. Seeing this, the cultists fell back, leaving Chaos Space Marines exposed. They, accepting defeated, pulled back with the rest of their traitor brethren.

This time, Brok had much more difficulty gaining his footing. Interrogator Arturus ran towards Brok and helped him to his feet. Brok had to rest all of his weight on Arturus in order to make it back to his command Rhino. Brok spat more blood, and then said, "Arturus, stay here and finish cleaning up. I am of no use in this state."

Arturus watched as the Rhino sped away towards Brok's command center inside the city. Then, the Interrogator turned to the men and said, "Alright, form up. We have to sterilize this zone now."



Brok could not walk from his Rhino under his own power. Two Stormtroopers helped him inside, and the medic came in to patch him up. It took several tries to re set his broken ribs. Then came the stitches. The pain was intense, even with the painkillers. Then, he gave into his body, and rested.

That night, his dreams haunted him. He saw a bloodletter bite through a man's neck, and then proceed to eat his head. Blood and brain matter spilled from the daemon's mouth, onto his chin, the blood dripping to the ground. It smiled. He saw the face of a young boy watching his parents eaten alive. Slowly, the beasts devoured his mother too, piece by piece. Blood covered the floor. It was truly horrifying to behold. The bed sheets where no longer white, but covered in red blotches. The child's face was red with tears. It was almost as if the daemons wanted him to suffer through watching his parents die. He looked only ten years old. Then the servants of Chaos turned on him. Brok watched as the boy was lifted over the head of a daemon, and ripped in half, entrails spilling from his torso.

Brok awoke, sweating. He turned to the side of his bed and vomited, his skin was more pale than normal and drenched with sweat, yet cold. Brok tried to get up, but could not. He tried not to drink often, but this dream had haunted him for days, inspired by Brok's most horrible memory. He had bust in the door right as the man was being eaten, on his first assignment upon promotion to the status of a full Inquisitor. It seemed like he was there an hour, trying to save that boy, but to no avail. In reality it was only a few seconds, and in that time, a whole family, among thousands of other people, were murdered. The ghosts of innocents haunted his mind.

Brok lay awake for the rest of the night, pondering what had prompted the recurrence of this memory in his dreams. He had never seen anything as horrible as that; other terrors paled in comparison.

At daybreak, Brok was met by a medical officer. Brok did not inquire his name.

"Get me out of this bed," Brok said, angrily. Once lifted, it was not too difficult to walk, even though he had lost a good deal of blood. Brok walked to his study where, once again, he was alone. The injuries sustained in the battle earlier forced him to stay in and around the city. He sat in his ornate chair and opened his journal. Brok used it helped him keep his appointments. Looking down the list, he noticed that he had scheduled an astropath to view any communiques that had been sent to his account.

Around 2 o'clock, Brok dressed himself in his standard armour and greatcoat, and then departed for the Astropath Guild. There, he hoped to receive news of the fleet and Imperial progress on both Fahrlich and Reinhardt. The Forge World Reinhardt was essential to the success of the campaign. Without its supplies, Rykan, along with many other Imperial worlds, would take even greater losses.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:42
Once there, Brok sat in the waiting room. The concrete walls were draped with ornate tapestries of the different Noble Houses of the planet. The guild hall, like most astropaths themselves, made Brok feel uncomfortable. The walls seemed to be closing in around him, suffocating him.

Brok was approached by a beautiful young woman, while awaiting an astropath. "Hello," she said, "My name is Tara DuCrow. I am quite honored to be serving an Inquisitor," she said, smiling.

Tara was of the same height as Brok, and a stunningly beautiful young woman. Long brown hair fell in curls past her shoulders, with eyes a bright shade of green. They were eyes that pierced the very soul. Tara wore a golden dress, accentuating here shapely body. A stark contrast to most sights Brok had seen in the past months.

"Are you an Astropath."

She giggled, "Do you think I would be here for fun?"

"I ask, because you are not blind. It is curious. Why is a psyker of your strength serving in an Astropath Guild." Brok thought for a moment, and then realized, "DuCrow is the name of a planetary guild, is it not? Are you his daughter?"

"Yes it is, but no, I am not. I am his niece."

"Would you care to share why you live with your uncle, and not your parents," Brok asked.

"Not really, but I shall recount my story for you. Its not as if you couldn't force me to tell you anyways."

"My parents died when I was young, only eleven terran standard, in a speeder accident. It's odd really, of all the horrible ways they could have died, they were hit by another speeder and the promethium reserves lit, causing the explosion of both cars. I came to live with my uncle after that, and he was very protective of me, as he had no children of his own. He made sure that no one knew of my abilities until it was too late for any department to request my skills. Truth be told, I always fancied the idea of something more exciting and important than this life of relaying messages from one man to another." Something about this young woman intrigued him.

"Well, I can certainly offer that. You seem strong enough for the task, although my last mystic was not. The choice is yours."

A puzzled look came over her face. It was obvious that she was considering the proposal of being employed by an Inquisitor.

After more than a minute of silence, Tara asked for some time to think on the proposal. She proposed that they meet again in a week's time, at a restaurant close to the Astropath Guild.

"As you wish," he replied.

Approaching the restaurant a week later, Brok realized that his choice of clothing may not have been suitable. He wore his traditional black greatcoat, and some sections of his carapace armour. Men and women were entering the restaurant wearing full suits and gowns. Many of the patrons looked at him with upturned noses, not at all aware that Brok could kill them within his legal rights. Walking up the steps, he spotted Tara, wearing an elaborate shoulder-less red dress laced with golden thread and white gloves. She wore her curly brown hair up, and around her neck hung a jewel encrusted amulet of moderate size in the likeness of the Golden Throne.

Seeing Brok's field clothing, Tara's face went flush. She was obviously embarrassed for Brok, although he did not care about his appearance in the least. She approached him quickly and locked arms at her side with him in the traditional style.

She turned to Brok, whispering "What are you wearing that for? Don't you realize where we are?"

"No, I really don't," replied Brok, "Maybe if you had informed me that it was a formal affair, I would have been able to procure something more appropriate."

"Why is it that these traditions persist under the oncoming threat of Chaos?" he thought.

Once more, her face turned red. "I didn't tell you? Throne, I can't believe I forgot that. I hate forgetting little details."

"You're not treating it as a little detail," he said, coldly.

"No matter. Let's go inside, we are only attracting negative attention out here," said Tara. Brok led her inside, and followed the waiter to their table. Brok seated Tara, and then himself.

They ordered drinks, Tara asking for Amasec, and Brok for bourbon. She sipped her drink slowly, while Brok knocked back the glass as soon as he had it in his hand. The two were a contrasting pair. Brok's rigid, scowling face was far different from the smooth faced, smiling woman across from him.

"Let us move quickly to the matter at hand. Have you reached a decision?" Brock asked, hand rubbing his stubble. This was a habit Brok often had present when thinking. He speculated the answer would be yes; her body language gave her away. She had bit her lip both times he had asked her questions that she tried to conceal, but then said yes.

"Well, I have thought about it," she paused, "And I will take you up on your offer. I tire of this complacent life. Your life seems so exciting, so romantic."

"Very well," Brok said. She was in for quite a surprise.

Half an hour later, the intoxicated young woman stumbled out of the restaurant with Brok at her side, the cold night air making their breath look smoky.

"I should be getting back to my quarters."

Tara replied, "I shall accompany you, Ill have my-my things brought to me tomorrow. You have an... spare room, extra right?"

"I do," Brok reluctantly admitted. It would look conspicuous for him to be brining home a drunk woman in the middle of the night.

She leaned against Brok for support on the walk home. "Can't hold her liquor at all," Brok thought, "very irresponsible to let oneself go like that, in public." "Does she think I am interested in her?" The thought had not crossed his mind until then. "I hope this won't get awkward." He wasn't who Tara was looking for.

When Brok arrived at his quarters, Tara slumped down on his bed. Closing the door to his room, Brok turned and walked towards his desk. There, he wrote a note to Arturus, saying:

Arrange a meeting with my Inquisitorial brethren at the closest possible date

-Brok

He sighed, leaned back his head and closed his eyes, dropping into a deep sleep.



Brok awoke to a sweet smell, and opened his eyes. His vision cleared, and turning around, he noticed that Tara had prepared a meal for the leaders of his Inquisitorial forces. She already began imposing on Brok's tightly regulated agenda.

"God-Emperor give me patience."

With great difficulty, Brok pulled his acheing body up out of the chair. The wounds the Daemon had inflicted on him were worse than he originally speculated.

"Ah, good, you're awake," Tara said, smiling and approaching Brok with a plate of some local fruit.

"No, Im fine," Brok replied, motioning towards the food.

Looking upset, she walked back into the dining room, with the other men, and sat down. Collonel Sherman was there, smiling and looking at his plate, engaging in a conversation with Tara.

"Well, she is a hit with the troops," he thought, and walked towards his room. In his closet, he gathered his gear: two krak grenades, an automatic combat shotgun with 10 executioner rounds, along with 20 shells of standard shot, and his armour comprised of a carapace suit and his armoured greatcoat, and then set out back towards the dining room.

"Sherman, you are in charge of the ground forces until I return. I must go back to Camulod. It seems the Warmaster's condition has worsened.

Tara interjected, "Who is this, 'Warmaster'?"

Sherman replied to her question, "A Warmaster is the leader of an Imperial crusade."

"Well, now that the matter is cleared up, I plan on leaving. Tara, this would be a good first mission for you. I will have Machine Adept Johanessan accompany us, along with Delta platoon."

Brok turned on his heel, and left for the Aquila Lander he had commandeered to take him back to his ship and run the blockade, as his Valkyrie Drop Ships were busy providing air cover for the ground forces. Tara quickly put her plate aside, and followed closely at his heels.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:42
Thought For The Day

'We must look to our past to find our future!'


Evans paused before he spoke his next words. They were words he didn’t want to speak, but they had to be said. 'It may be time for you to discuss who will be nominated as the next Warmaster...'

Jacka looked at Doc Evans and replied maybe a little to harshly, 'I'm sure the Warmaster will tell us when it is time to replace him! And not a moment before! Bugger me Doc! There has got to be something you can do. I mean………..' Jacka paused, 'What about Imarodor. That old scoundrel may be able to help!'

Evans looked at Jacka and Jacka could tell what he was thinking. Doc Evans was a blank and he knew that Imarador was not comfortable around him. 'It may work, I don’t know at this point.'

'I suggest you try!' LtCol Stewart Conner, Jacka's Squat 2IC and CO of the 12th Cadian Mech Regt replied. 'We can find the good Imardor I'm sure. He has talent that you Saw Bones lack. And Major you and me are still in debt to these Gentlemen for our pervious lack of forthrightness.' Conner referred to Evans and his recently revelled roles in shaping and guarding Hunter's and Jacka's pasts and future. Jacka looked at the Squat when he mentioned this.

'Leave it Stewart! We have other more pressing things to do and one of those is to get the Warmaster back on his feet.' Jacka turned to look at the group standing behind him. An odd group indeed. A Space Wolf Marine and two Ogryn’s who bore a family resemblance. 'Hef,' commenced Jacka talking to the Space Marine. 'I need you to find Imardor. Send a couple of your boys to fetch him back here we need to see if he can help Hunter.'

'I'll do may best Colonel, but you know he only turns up when he wants!’ replied Hunter's head bodyguard. 'But, I will get the boys onto it immediately.' He continued.

'Little John you and Trooper Muller are to say close to the Warmaster and nobody is to come here without my permission expect Commissar Lord Brusilov. Got it!' Jacka said.

'Yes Boss Colonel! Me and Ralph's son will look after him. We promise.' Little John the Ogryn Banner Bearer of Warmaster Hunter and son of Master SGT William (Bill) Greystone stood to attention and saluted Jacka with his left hand. As did the other Ogryn with him who agreed saying' 'We sure will Boss!'

'I know you will boys.' Jacka replied returning the salute. 'Right! Stewart I want you to call an Orders Group at the Operation room in three hours time. I want all Commanders present on Camulod to be there. Tell Commissar Wu I need to talk to him. This virus smells of the Brotherhood of Order again.' he continued as he took a last look at the Hunter. 'Ok lets get going Lads we got work to do.'

Doc Evans watched them leave as Little John took up position outside the door and Trooper Muller remained with him, 'May St Pius be with them,' he looked at Hunter again, 'And with you Warmaster!'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:43
Inquisitor Brok arrived on Camulod ahead of schedule, spending only one weeks in warp transit. Delta Stormtrooper 32, 07, and 68 accompanied him along with Adept Johanessan, more machine than man, with only some of his face and torso remaining organic, while the rest of his body was machine. Tara DuCrow also came down from their Strike Cruiser in high orbit above Camulod, seeing as she might be needed to send a message back to their ship or Brok's Inquisitorial army on Branica.

Brok wore his traditional greatcoat, wearing full carapace armour, while Tara wore a green gown and white shall. Brok approached the door to the Medical Bay, and opened it. He appeared a grim spectre, even death himself, walking through the door, slowly surveying his surroundings.

"What is his status?" he asked.

"Comatose, Inquisitor. He fell into this state almost a week and a half ago." replied Doctor Evans.

Adept Johannessan approached the Warmaster, and began to poke and prod his head, examining the comatose man. His machine tools clicked and wirred while looking at the man's symptoms.

"His condition seems to be stable. He may come out of this, but I think I may be able to help him, bring him out faster."

"What would that require?" questioned Brok, ignoring all of the other people in the room.

"I will need to examine his brain, and possibly shzzzzzzzzzzzz," he paused to adjust his voicebox, "insert some of the Omnissiah's blessed technology."

"You plan on turning him into a machine?" Tara passionately interjected. "I don't know this man, but I do think he would probably favor his chances better with medicae, not technosorcery."

She turned to Brok, and whispered, "I have been trained, I can try to heal him. Someone in this room is inhibiting my power, though. It is nauseating."

"I feel it too." he replied.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:44
In Orbit

"Have they made contact yet?" a gruff voice askes across the darkened bridge.

"No, no signal thus far. Are you sure we can't be detected?"

"Aye - I made sure of it. We are invisible both to the Imperium and to the servants of the Ruinous Powers. All systems are ready to boost to full power as soon as you need 'em."

"I still don't see how it can work - you've done nothing to appease the spirits of the machines."

"Lad, when you've been working with machines as long as I have, you'll realise that half of what your Mechanicus say is gibberish, and the other half generally hidden behind religous mumbo-jumbo. You weren't complaining when I got the warp-drive working again in record time when we were being chased by those destroyers, were you?"

"No, but...."

"Exactly," interrupted the first voice. "Had you been waiting on one of your Mechanicus, we'd never have gotten out of there alive."

A small light began to blink on the control panel, it's light transforming the bridge into a place of harsh shadows, the forms of the human and the Squat strobing. The human reached out, and flicked a pair of switches.

"Reading you, boss - scrambler activated."

On the surface.....

"Reading you, boss - scrambler activated."

The figure, looking for all the world like one of the many homeless who roamed the streets, cupped his hands in front of his face, as if to protect his face from the wind.

"Vladimir, we have definately got Cult activity down here. Size of Cult is unconfirmed, as is their god, but there is a definate taint here. Chrystian and myself are going to monitor the situation, then see if we can excise this cancer."

"Understood, sir. What about the 'Quin?"

"He despises them as much as I do - he's staying with the lander till we move to engage, as he feels he'll be too noticeable otherwise. I'll report back later. May the long watch stand."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:45
The war room of the fortress of Cormandel was eerie silent. Officers spoke in ushered voice, glancing from time to time at a massive holographic display where the progress of Chaos forces could be seen.
On the gallery overlooking the room, general Weynach, supreme commander of the Branican PDF watched gloomly the red dots of Archenemy forces moving further into the defence lines on the Dortah river.
'Reinforcements are on their way, but they will be too late to stop the enemy breaking through,' noted Admiral Darnan, commander of the Branican airship fleet.
'I have ordered a fighting retreat to the Kaenor line. The Dortah is lost to us. Two out of five bridges were captured intact and the enemy infantry is still crossing the frozen river on foot. The Word Bearers are wreaking havoc in our rear lines...'
The general let the rest of his sentence hang in the air, for the situation was obvious to them both.
'The Kaenor line can hold them. It is more heavily fortified than the quickly thrown up Dortah line.'
'I doubt it, the line has several vulnerable points. The line is in places in a serious state of disrepair and our guns seem to have a shorter range than some of theirs.'
'But we're using top of the line Basilisks from Narthinor,' remarked the Admiral.
'You are well informed, but the fact remains.'
'What about the Imperials?'
'almost 200,000 of them are on their way as we speak, racing to Branica as fast as their ships allow.'
'Won't they make a target for the Chaos fleet or the captured ground/space defences?'
'They might but only if they get to close to the coast. The defences on the Rhenaron plains are still in our hands.'
'Then maybe they'll win us enough time to finish the "Saint Ollanius Pius."
'I would not put too much faith in a single vessel, even one as mighty as that one.'

The Retribution class battleship 'Dei Imperatoris' sped through the void, surrounded by over a dozen Imperial cruisers, three dozen escort vessels. They escorted two dozen transports and logistical vessels as well as three templeships for the Legio Praetoria.
In his quarters, Commissar-Lord Alexei Alexevich Brusilov was studying the situation on Branica, according to the latest transmission from the chamber of the Astropathicus of the holy city of Shanalorn.
Soon General FeldMarschal Guderian would call a meeting of all officers to discuss the counter-invasion plan. The Rhenaron plains between Cormandel and Shanalorn seemed the most logical place to land.
The troops would have to rush to battle as soon as they stepped on the gorund, but the Kriegans, who made up almost half of the contingent liked it that way. And the Tsarytsinians were eager to prove themselves to their Saint in battle.

In her quarters, Saint Ekaterina of Tsarytsin prayed, a squad of Celestians watching over her. She wore her usual simple white gown when she was out of armour and knelt humbly before a representation of the God-Emperor.
Lost in her thoughts, she did not hear, someone call her name at first. Then she realised someone was watching her. In the corner of the chapel stood a black form with eyes as burning pits of hatred.
'Daelhg'gkor...' the Saint spat the name of the daemon.
'Tarisfael, or should I say Ekaterina, it has been a long time.'
'Not long enough, but I still will gladly meet you in battle and bannish you once more.''
'Not this time, dearest,' laughed the daemon, 'I have come with a warning.'
'And you believe the words of a betrayer such as you carry any wait?'
'Set aside your righteous hatred for a second, you're stepping right into Zymran's trap.'
'You think me both blinded and foolish, spawn of Chaos? I know this.'
'And yet you come, you are even stupidier than I had thought. He will kill you.'
'Not before I have slain him,' replied Ekaterina defiently.
'Think what you will, a warning has been given.'
The daemon disappeared, leaving the Saint to wish there was an Inquisitor in which she could confide in.

The trek through the devastated landscape of Vardhag had been tiring. For now Inquisitor Drakkenhorst and his Death Cultist Malyssia rest in the shadow of a half-crumbled wall of some cyclopean structure, away from the blazing and unmoving red sun.
The journey had been uneventful for the most part. They had met no living soul and the planet, while ugly, had yet to show any treachery and dangers.
'It is too quiet, much too quiet,' commented the Inquisitor, 'Arioch is waiting for us, gathering his forces.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:47
Gorgidas had been on duty when the three women came in. Doc Evans was meeting with Colonel Jacka and had assigned him to watch the Warmasters vital signs and notify him in any change. The Doctor looked at the women and was smart enough to recognise the look of worry on their faces and feel the tension between two of them and decided to spek only if spoken to.

The woman closest to him was the Warmasters youngest wife. Technically she was his fourth wife, but due to an almost unheard of divorce she was officially his third. Here name is Lorilei and it was well known that she was the Warmasters favorite. She was formed with a gracefull elegance that rivalled Drakkenhorsts death cult assasin, but her form was derived from theatrical and stae dancing, although the Warmaster enjoyed telling that she was well talented in other forms of dance as well, and even boasted that their was a brass pole in their bedroom.

She had other responsiblities as well to the Warmasters large family. Jemare, Hunters primary wife and the one with the most power among them, was the one responsible for his huge wealth and financial success. Alicia, Hunters secondary wife and mother of more of his children than the others, took care of the running of his vast estates on his homeworld of Carolon. She was also now incharge of his fathers, General Leighs, estates whiche rivaled that of Hunters. Lorileis responsibilities were that of raising Hunters many children by his three wives, five concubines and many other affairs.

Morganna Drake , who stood silently beside Lorlei was one of those affairs. She was the sister to the privateer Captain Francis Drake who had recently allied himself with the Warmaster on Egea and had sent his sister to him as a hostage of Good Faith and to prove his loyalty. Hunter had accepted her and soon Morganna had become not only his lover, but the offical documenter of the Crusade. She had taken a breif history of it from the many who had participated in the farflung battles and their stories of who was who. She had also compiled many charcoal and pencil sketches of the varying leaders and the troops in their training. There was no love lost between her and Lorilei , and it was well known that she was very jealous of Hunter, but the two rivals had put aside their differences for now.

The last woman and the one who showed the most greif was Colonel Jackas wife Sarah. She is also Hunters mother. She looked at her son and wished desperatly that she could just place a hand on his forehead as she did when he was sick as a child. She wished she could place some incense of redwood in his room, but Doc Evans had beed very clear with his quarantine orders. "Why is he getting so many units of blood?" Sarahs voice broke as she asked. She wished her husband was here with her but she knew his soldiers duty and didnt grudge him anything of it.

"His body for lack of a better term is burning his own blood up," Gorgidas answered. " We have to give him so much to replace the losses and to keep him cool."

Sarah nodded and the three women returned to their silnet vigil.


There were only a few officer present at the moment and there was only idle chit chat through the room. Hunters Half brother Bartholomew Leigh had come in the room and the redhaired giant cam to stand next to Colonel Jacka and Doc Evans.

"How could Hunter have contracted this?" Jacka asked Evans.

Doc Evans rubbed his chin as he contemplated his answer. " There are several ways. He could have been poisoned, bitten by and animal that is a carrier, or even through sexual contact..."

"Bugger me running!" Jacka swore.

"Ohhhhhhh," Colonel Varro said as he cradled his face in his hands. He knew that soon he would have to deliver a list of all the women that Hunter had cavorted with in the past few days.

Bart just shook his head.

"... yeah well there was another Warmaster that got sick. His name was Hor..." and officer was saying before Bart jumped on him and grabbed him by his throat and lifted him up high enough that his feet dangled in the air.

"Let me tell ye one thing ye lil worm!" Bart said through gritted teeth, it was anger however not exertion as he easily held the man up with one hand under no strain at all. "Ye will nae speak that devils spawns name and that of me brother in the same breath again! He may be many things, but traitor aint one of 'em. If thous so much as mutters a single bad word of me brothers name again with the word traitor I promise it will be only by the Grace of Him on Earth that ye will survive! Do ye understand me?"

The officer nodded his head affirmative as best he could in Barts steel trap grip. Bart set him down and rejoined Jacka and Evans.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:49
Thought For The Day

Sometimes you win! Sometimes you lose! And sometimes Boss it's raining!

Master SGT William (Bill) Greystone

'I hope you have finished chocking your fellow officers Bart. We haven't got them to spare these days!' commented Colonel Jacka. His comment was more an order then a statement. 'Gentleman! Lets get our crud squared here and stop this petty bickering and recriminations. The Warmaster is ill! Not bloody dead. So lets not right him off just yet shall we?'

A chorus of 'Yes Sirs!' ran round the room. Bart looked at Jacka and mouthed an apology. Jacka patted his shoulder and bid the taller Carolonian to take a seat. 'Ok! Lets get this circus under way again. LtCol Conner an overview and update please on our situation and preparation for departure.' ordered Jacka.

'Sir,' replied the Squat, 'CAPT Jenks,' Conner said to Jacka's Adjt and he pressed the switch he held and three vision screens lit up. 'Gentleman, I will start with the current situation as you are all aware Commissar-Lord Bruisilov and his force is approaching Branica. He is expected to ground his force no later then……………………… '

Conner's briefing had taking over an hour with questions and Jacka now travelled in his Command Chimera towards the training grounds. He was conducting the finial inspections of the Crusade Forces prior to their departure to the War Zone around Branica. As the Warmaster would have done if he was well. Jacka had been Brusilov's 2IC during the 13th Black Crusade and a Staff Officer and senior adviser to Hunter since the Crusade he now lead had begun.

Jacka was not only accompanied by Lt Col Conner, but also his Command Squad travelled with him. Jacka looked around the Chimera. Towards the front sat Capt Aron Jenks, a Carolonian and his Adjt and Vox Officer. He had found Jenks in a shell hole on St Jo's Hope just before his position was about to be overrun by Chaos forces. Jacka’s existing Vox Officer had at that time been killed. So Jenks took over and had been with Jacka ever since. Jacka had only leaned recently that Hunters father General Leigh had arranged it that way. Jenks sat next to Trooper Michael Collins, a Cadian and the best special Weapons Trooper in the 'Orphans'. Across from him was Jacka’s Regt Sgt Major Jamie Howe a typical Cadian Senior NCO. Firm but fair. He sat next to Commissar Wu the 'Orphans' head Commissar. Wu an Oriental, was born on Holy Terra and had been with Jacka since they left to fight 'Nids' in the Squat Homeworlds prior to their destruction. And lastly there was Master SGT William (Bill) Greystone. An Ogryn and Jacka's body guard. Jacka had found Bill and fifty of his kind on the planet Hope. The last Homeworld to be destroyed by the 'Nids'. Bill and his fellow Troopers were an accepted part of the 12th Cadian Mech Regt and the 'Orphan' Brigade. Their bravery and devotion to the Cadians was unquestioned to the extent that Lord Castilian Creed had granted them Citizen rights on Cadia for their courage and contribution's during the EoT Campaign. Bill had saved the Warmaster on two occasions as had his son Little John who was now the Warmaster's Banner Bearer and one part of Hunter's personal body guard.

Jacka smiled at Bill and the Ogryn looked at his Boss saying, 'You look like you need a Brew Boss. When we get to the 'Orphans' me an' Jenks will make you one. I’ll do most of it cause ya nos's Jenks don’t do it proper.'

Jacka laughed, 'Indeed I do! Indeed I do! I think we’d all like one of your Brews when we get to the 'Orphan' Brigade Bill. We need a bit of cheering up at the moment.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:50
'The loss of three bridges will slow us down, Sorgheras, explain yourself.'
'I have no excuse great lord, I did not expect the enemy to blow up the bridges with most of their troops still on them.'
The Chaos Marine knelt before the gigantic form of his master, Zymran the Apostate, Dark Apostle of Chaos and master of the Word Bearer 8th Great Company.
In a corner of the room, clad in his massive terminator suit, another of Zymran's lieutenant watched with interest. He certainly hoped that Sorgheras' failure would mean he'd become the Apostle's new right hand men
Another Word Bearer observed the scene from afar. He was Marduk, chief sorcerer and his power armour was adorned with runes and other bizarre talismans.
'Still,' continued Zymran, 'you managed to snatch two of them from the enemy, not an easy feat considering the lackeys of the Corpse held on to them so strongly. Your success has been noted as well. Two bridges are enough to guarantee our supply as we move into the plains.'
The gigantic Marine, towering over his brethren turned his attention to a small and gaunt form clad in heavy red robes decorated with a defaced Opus Machina.
'Mangrel, how goes our operation against the Kraenor line?'
'The guns will be ready in time my lord, despite the delay due to the loss of some of our industrial power. I worked the slaves harder that is all. These obsolete fortresses stand no chance against the might of our daemonic guns.'
'Excellent, Marduk, how goes the preparations for the ritual?'
'We are almost finished my lord. The carnage is drawing ever increasing numbers of daemons and our actions are thinning the veil with the Empyrean with each passing moment. We only need the focus in place.'
'Worry not, the Serunites are on their way as we speak. I trust their hatred of the Imperials to carry them all the way.'

On the Dortah plains a sea of black armoured vehicles, of soldiers in red uniforms, of gibbering mutants and fanaticised cultists marched under the great banners of Chaos, chanting hymnals to the glory of the Ruinous Powers. Demagogues walked among them, rekindling their dark faith and pointing at the mighty gods of war among them.
Indeed Word Bearers were among them in small numbers, but more importantly, gigantic monsters of metal strode across the plains, howling like caged predators, smelling blood in the air. Their armour was in shades of red, orange, yellow and black. They were the Titans of the Flaming Skulls Legion, mechanical incarnations of the dark will of the Gods of Chaos.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:51
Upon Inquisitor Brok's arrival, quarters were hastily prepared for both himself and his companions. He sat alone with his back to the door in the concrete room on a stool, with a bottle in his hand. The dream had come back, again. Someone, or something, was triggering this dream, this memory.

Tara opened the door to Brok's room, sensing something was wrong. She saw him drinking, and hurriedly walked toward him, her nightgown dragging on the floor.

"For what are you doing this to yourself?"

Brok turned. "You have no idea. The things I have seen, things I have heard, kill most men. My training prevented death, but..." he trailed off.

"Bad memories are no reason to drink yourself to death. Its just... foolish."

Brok stood up, towering almost half of a foot over Tara. "Get out of my sight you childish rich bitch. You have yet to do a real days work in your life, yet you question my pactices?"

Tara began to tear, and she tore out of the room. Brok sat back down, and resumed his drink where he had left off.

The next day, as Brok was wandering the halls in boredom, Tara approached him. "Sir, I have a message from Collonel Sherman. He requests that you return, as your presence is needed on Branica."

"Thank you, Tara. I," he paused debating whether to apologize. "I apologize for the way I approached the situation. You show compassion to others, and it is a virtue."

"You are forgiven," she said, less coldly than her previous statement.

Brok then walked away. Apologizing to that woman wounded his pride. He had more preparations to make before their trek back to Branica. Going back and forth through the Immaterium from planet to planet was a both tiring and annoying process.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:51
Jacka's Chimera ground to a halt near the field HQ of the 'Orphan' Brigade. He climbed out with his Command squad. He looked out over the training grounds of the 'Orphans'. Warmaster Hunter during the Campaign on Camulod had given the 'Orphan' Brigade their name when the Warmaster formed a Battle Group under Colonel Jacka. The Brigade was created from units who had lost their homes or home worlds. This organisation was part Hunters personal 'Life Guard' and his commanders reserve and strike force. The 'Orphans' where a mixed group of Cadian's, Abhuman's (Squats, Ogryns and some Ratlings), Carolonian's, Tayhosian's and Camulodian's. Strangely enough, adversity had formed these mixed units into a formable Guard formation.

The Brigade was mainly a mixed Mechanised Force with the Tayhosians 1st Mobile providing recon and deep strike forces. They used a combination of Valkyries and 8x8 APCs armed with Multi lasers. The 'Orphan' Mechanised Regiments were the 12th Cadian, 1st Tintagel Camulodian Guards and the 17/20th Carolonian Mech Regt. This formable force was mounted in Chimera's of mixed variants. The 12th Cadian had a Cadian Tank Company permanently attached to provide fire support to the Brigade. The last part of Jacka’s force had only recently joined the Battle Group. Five Companies of Redwood Guards from Carolonia and they were mainly used to provide close protection to the Warmaster. Jacka's wife Sarah commanded the Redwood Guards attached to the 'Orphans'.

Jacka entered the command tent with Lt Col Conner. 'Good afternoon, Gentlemen.' Jacka said as he saw the Senior Officers seated inside. All the Officers came to attention as he entered. 'Stand easy,' continued Jacka as he stood in front of his command element.

Jacka looked at the trusted officers seated before him. On the right was Lt Col Ney, a Carolonian, who commanded the 17/20th Carolonians, he had taken over the 12th Cadian when Jacka had been wounded and had earned the respect of Jacka's Cadians and Abhumans with his leadership. He had returned to the 'Orphans' with his Carolonians. He was fiercely loyal to the Brigade. Seated next to him was LT Col Marius, a former resistance leader who had remained loyal to the Imperium during the insurrection on Camulod. At the end of the campaign on Camulod he took command of the 1st Tintaegel and joined the Crusade as a regiment of the 'Orphans'. The 1st Mobile Tayhosians were commanded by a nuggetty Lt Col named Kilby Smith, Jacka knew him to be a brave and resourceful officer. With Lt Col Conner CO of the 12th Cadian Mech these men formed the leadership core of the 'Orphans'.

For the next couple of hours Jacka listened intently to the status reports from his 'Orphans'. All was ready for their departure to Branica. 'Sir, we have one last thing to show you.' commenced Lt Col Ney. 'I think you will be pleased with our latest arrivals from the Carolonian manufactoriums. Come outside, Sir. I believe they are arriving as we speak.' Jacka could hear the rumble of armour approaching the Command Tent. He walked outside with the others and watched the approaching company of armoured vehicles.

Jacka looked at Stewart Conner an unspoken question hanging in the air. 'Yes Matt, their what you think they are.' Conner stated.

'Bombards!' Jacka said marvelling at the firepower parading before him.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:52
Veteran Sergeant Van Guilder surveyed the carnage going on around him. His men were holding the line, and the PDF were as well, but only barely. They did not have the discipline or prowess of his men.

"Form up Delta!" he yelled to the platoon he commanded. The men were starting to become lax in their formation, and as they say, a moment of laxity spawns a lifetime of betrayal. The last thing on Van Guilder's mind was betrayal.

Van Guilder levelled his pistol and openned fire on the oncoming traitors and mutants, dressed in black rags and red flak armour, if any armour at all. They were a horrible site, most looked like zombies with parts of their bodies decaying or mutating. Their pallid flesh matched the cold, winter environment that covered the continent at this time of the year. His men, although well prepared and experienced, did not usually fight in such cold environments, and the extra equipment the were forced to carry weighed them down and limited their mobility. Winter environments were not an area where the Stormtroopers of the Holy Orders of the Inquisition excelled.

"Where is that fire support?" yelled one of the stormtroopers in Van Guilder's squad. He was right, their air strike was behind. Without it, they would be in serious trouble.

Van Guilder looked back towards their Chimera transports. Their multilasers and hull mounted heavy bolters spat death onto the oncoming hordes of the lost and the damned. The bolter shells exploded the bodies of the traitors as they hit, blood and entrails splashing onto their fellow traitorous legionaires. The mutants did not care, they were slaves to darkness, soulless beings with no conscience or awareness of their own mortality. They exist only to serve their twisted gods.

As fast as the men of Delta platoon killed the oncoming horde, more came to replace them. Van Guilder knew that they would be forced to retreat. They simply could not kill enough of them at once. Their lines would be better defended than these hastily prepared on the Dhorta.

"Alright Delta, we're pulling out," he yelled, as he waved the men towards their chimeras. The PDF would give them cover, and hopefully the air strikes would allow them to retreat. A rocket shot struck one of the Chimera Transports as it was pulling out, and some amount of mayhem ensued. Fortunately, many of the troopers were able to jump out of their burning transport before the magazine erupted. Some did not, however, and the stench of burning flesh filled the air, making it all the more intolerable.

Van Guilder opened up the turret hatch and watched the mayhem as the Chimera pulled away from the lines, along with the other transports. "Those PDF troopers probably won't make it out," he thought.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:53
Branica, 2 weeks later
Things on Branica weren't improving, at all. Their enemy seemed infinite in number, and however ragtag and ill equipped they were, their numbers overcame their better prepared counterparts.

The men of Inquisitor Brok's assembled forces fared better than the PDF troopers, as they were able to move from place to place, not having to make any last stands. Their position also gave them cover from PDF soldiers when needed for formations and forced withdrawals. Collonel Sherman's genius provided the men with tactical prowess on the field, but still this was not enough. Without reinforcements from the Crusade of Warmaster Hunter currently stationed on Camulod, the planet would be lost to the Archenemy.

All of this, Brok assessed as he stood on a parapet overlooking the destruction and sheer mayhem the forces of Chaos wrought on the innocent people of this planet. He concluded that they had only a few more weeks before the numbers of their enemy wore down their defenses and broke through. It was time the defenders of Branica struck back at their enemy.

This offered Brok a firsthand chance to see the true numbers of their opponent, and make more accurate conclusions about the Dark Apostle Zymran, as he was called by the followers he interrogated, personally.

He thought to himself, "How is it that this amount of men, if they can be called that, are able to break off from the main incursion of the forces of darkness to attack here? How has Zymran been able to grow in power for so long without attracting more attention? Who is weakening this fortress from within?"

"I seek answers, it is natural to me, but now, I feel lost in them. None of this makes sense, this trap, and the Warmaster's readiness to play into it. Does Hunter really, truly believe that he can outwit what seems to be a vilely cunning opponent? Well, it would take more than some over-zealous nut, whom some think is a saint reborn, to kill this man. Not to say that faith was a bad quality, but it is best when accompanied by knowledge and reason."

It was time to contact the Vindicare temple, and time for Brok to take the fight to the universal enemy of mankind. He turned around and strode back down the steps of the defenses, to his Command Rhino, flanked by Delta's 07 and 38.

Branica, The Next Day
The Inquisitor decided to attend a meeting of the Defense commanders, in order to oversee their planning. His presence was, at the least, uncomfortable for the commanders of the defense forces. One of the men, a fat, middle aged man, was sweating profusely during his entire speach, as Brok watched him. His eyes flicked over to see if Brok was still watching, and then quickly went back to the rest of his audience. These fools thought that as soon as Imperial reinforcements arrived, they would be saved, that their people and planet would no longer be in danger.

The room was not without reasonable men, who did not assume the forces invading their planet would be so easily thrown back. These men, Brok thought, had probably been out there, on the front lines, and not in some command bunker protected meters of plasteel and ceramite. That these men did not put themselves above their soldiers, but among them, was a quality the Inquisitor appreciated.

After an hour of being recapped with information and statistics he already knew, Brok left the building, and began back towards his personal quarters. Once there, he rested. He had not slept for a day and a half, ever since their ship had arrived in the Branican sector.

Three hours later, a frantic Tara awoke him.

"Collonel Sherman says he has to talk to you now. He says that something terrible has been unleashed at the place where he is currently."

"Aah.. right, right, I will prepare my things," he told her, groggily.

One hour later, Brok had dressed in his Carapace and armoured greatcoat. On the bench to his right lay Brok's trusted automatic combat shotgun, with his specially built Daemonhammer on his belt. The golden surface reflected the dim light in the Rhino's cabin. With him was Arturus, his acolyte, and Delta's 07 and 38. He had begun to rely on the Delta troopers heavily, but not without good reason. They were the best of the best, the men of delta. Brok and Sergeant Van Guilder had personally selected these squads for this platoon.

07 interrupted his train of thought. "Sir, we're here," he said, his mask making his voice sound almost artificial.

"Alright, lets move out," Brok replied, as he lifted himself up from the bench seat and grabbed his shotgun.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:53
The Rehnaron plains was covered by gargantuan monsters of metal. Two dozen massive troop transports unloaded troops, vehicles, ammunition, several large field workshops and even a miniature factory.
Brusilov raised his head and saw the ballet of large shuttles ferrying the component parts of the Titan pens between ships in orbit and the city of Shanalorn. The Titans themselves had deployed a few kilometres away in drop pods.
The landing fields were an impressive sight to behold. Thousands of guardsmen marching in close order toward the gigantic train station, hundreds of Chimeras forming up and heading towards the front, the grinding of tracks from Baneblades and Shadowswords and the Leviathan Command Vehicle casting a shadow over everything.
'Sir?' Brusilov's aide-de-camp Johann approached, 'the Branicans have readied transportation for you to Shanalorn.'
The Commissar-Lord turned around, his black long coat flapping around him.
'Very well, take me there,' he said as he climbed into the Kriegische Mortorwerke staff (KMW) car.

After a fifteen minutes drive through a thick traffic, which the troops of the Officio Logisticae and the Provosts of the Commissariat were having a hard time to sort out, the car finally reached its destination, the train station.
At that time, three regiments of Tsarytsinian Guards were boarding trains heading for the front. As they climbed into the wagons they chanted traditional songs of their and Brusilov's homeworld and the Commissar found himself humming the tune with them.
Finally the car pulling by a train and the Commissar climbed out of the car. He was welcomed by an honour of Branican Palace Guards in deep blue uniforms. A captain saluted smartly.
'Sir, in the name of Cardinal Astra du Plessy, I welcome you to Branica. This train will take you to Shanalorn to meet with His Excellency and will remain at your disposal for the duration of your stay on this planet. If you would please board we shall leave immediately.'
Brusilov caught a rapid glimpse of the train. In front of the locomotive was an armoured car with an inbuilt Hydra flak battery. The locomotive itself seemed armoured as was obviously not only diesel but also steampowered. Then came two troop cars, again armoured with gun points, and one even had turret with a battlecannon. The next car, in front of which Brusilov stood and the one after that, seemed like a command post with a number of antennas sprouting from the roof. Then was another troop car with inbuilt flak Hydra. Next were two flatbed cars on which two Chimeras and a Salamnder scout were already resting and his own KMW was loaded. The two final cars were more troop cars and with another inbuilt flak Hydra.
'An impressive train,' the Commissar commented as he climbed onboard.
'General Weynach's own staff train sir,' answered the Captain.
'Please convery my thanks to the general for his gift.'

The car Brusilov stepped into was a command post. In the centre was a top of the art holographic display around which his own Commissariat staff was already busy. In a corner there was a number of communication apparatus.
The Commissar took a quick look at the already online display and saw that it was already showing the situation around the Dortah river with the red arrows showing the advance of Chaos troops.
'Please follow me, sir, I'll show you to your quarters.'
Brusilov was dumbstruck when he entered his quarters. The second command car was a huge luxury suite reserved for him. The floor was rich parquet decorated by thick carpets of intricate design. The Library to his right was stocked with the Commissar's favourite treaties on strategy. to his left there was even a fireplace with two armchairs and a regicide board. In the far side of the room was a massive desk of darkwood behind which was hung a painting of the Emperor triumphant, smashing the serpent Horus
'Don't tell me this is a Deshary original,' Brusilov asked.
'It is sir, a variation of the famous painting by Deshary that hangs in the office of the Lord Commander Militant of the Imperial Guard on Holy Terra. Smaller granted, but I was led to believe the artist preferred this vesion.'
The bedroom and bathroom were of the same order with a large bed with silk linen and a huge enamelled bathtub.
As the Commissar returned to his office, the train departed. He looked out the window, to see the landing fields, the troops still boarding the trains, the tanks rolling in the distance.
And as the train sped towards Shanalorn, it started to snow.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:54
Dalthor, Segmentum Obscuras

The deep rumble of fourteen Leman Russ Battle tanks was inaudible over the cheering of the crowds thronging the streets to watch the parade. The phalanx of vehicles, from the the 6th Halkonian Steel Legion, rumbled slowly up the Imperial Mile, the main street through the centre of the ancient city of Vandyr. Behind them came the marching of booted feet, troops of the 17th Draegan striding forwards in disciplined ranks, autoguns and Strafer rifles slung over their shoulders. At the front, the grey-clad infantry squads, shoulders back and heads held high, light flak jackets rippling in the breeze. Behind them marched the solid ranks of dark blue carapace armour that contained the elite Draegan Storm Troopers. White eriadne flowers flutterred down into the path of the advancing Concordat forces.

Like most of the worlds invaded by the Novus Terram Concordat, Dalthor had offerred little to no resistance, the population vigorously throwing off the mantle of Imperial oppression. A collaboration of several regiments of many different worlds' forces, disgruntled with the stagnant, ailing Imperium had formed this mighty army, some of whom now strode up the Imperial Mile. Twenty three worlds in the Obscuras Segmentum were now under Concordat control, an empire stretching from the forge world of Korrus II to the newly-liberated Dalthor. In the heart of Concordat territory was the new capital, Draeg, homeworld of the NTC founder General Kerris Angrabode.

Battle-Captain Petric Mayne smiled as a woman ran out from the crowd and kissed one of his Storm Troopers on the cheek, brushing a flower off his shoulder. The men carried their helmets at their side, wearing their blue regimental berets, raising their weapons in salute of the cheering mob. The Imperial Commander of Dalthor had fled, a temporary Concordat Helskis, or parliament, set up to carry out the planet's running. Mayne looked to his left as a statue of an Ecclesiarch smashed into the ground, marble shards bouncing towards the parade.

A man stepped out of the crowd, and clapsed his hands around Mayne's, kneeling at his feet. "Thank you..thank you brother!"

The Draegan soldier knelt by the man. "We do what you deserve, my friend. Now, you have your future back."

"No more witch hunts..no more public executions of good men...no more Ecclesiarchs working us into the gorund...nothing!" The man wept into Mayne's boots, his head down, still clasping the young soldier's hands. "I canm never thank you enough."

"You do not have to, friend." Mayne gripped the man's shoulder, then marched on, leaving him standing there. Old Josiah opened his mouth, closed it again, and hurried off into the crowd, singing happily.

-------------------------------------
Draeg, Segmentum Obscuras

"Our campaign would appear to be a success, General."

In the black chair facing out of the window of the former Imperial Commander's palace, the one remaining eyebrow of General Kerris Angrabode raised. "Our campaign, Colonel? I think you will find it was my campaign, along with the other founders of the Concordat. Not that of your Mordian lapdogs."

Colonel Stargoss's lip curled, but he bit back his tongue. "Indeed, General Your campaign."

"Good. Now get out of my sight. I have no further need of you."

Like a beaten dog, the Mordian Colonel left without a word.

"I am impressed, General. You didn't have him executed."

Angrabode smiled. "Stargoss still has his uses, Colonel Vasska. Even Mordians have their uses, for all their cowardice."

The Draegan Colonel nodded. "I suppose so. You seem more eager to do so with our own officers."

"I like to keep my men on their toes, Colonel. You should be used to that by now."

"Indeed, sir, I am." Vasska clicked his heels, and left the room.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:55
Edin Rikari was always a humble man, and so had refused to march along side Dalthor's liberators, even if he was hailed for making their invasion so easy. Rikari, highest ranking politician in Dalthor's revolution, had not only the determination to serve his people to the exclusion of nought, but had the sense to see that as things once were should not be. Those above and below him who couldn't see the light Angrabode had radiated were eradicated, and the groundwork for a flawless invasion was laid, but he accepted no prize or praise.

Even now he felt guilty to show his face to such jubilant people. He had done as was necessary. That they cheered so loudly when he modestly took to the dais at the end of the Imperial Mile made Rikari's arms raise his arms to calm them, as if instinctly. His action did nothing, for those around him crowded close to see him, and the mob was pushed up onto the dais and surrounded him completely. The people lauded and blessed him with wishes and promises for minutes on end, and it was a while still when they thought to quieten, to allow him to speak.

Then Rikari had his chance to plead himself humble, as always, but he was seeded highest to form the Helskis government, perhaps lead the Planet afterward. He had to say what the crowd wanted, if only to make them happy. Amid the hush, he finally declared:
"Tear down the loathed emblems of fear! The rubied eye and iron fist will stand above you no more!"

The cheer given in response was the largest so far. And so it was before sundown, the Inquisitorial emblem was dismantled from their Fortress, as was that of the Adeptus Arbites.

*****

The next morning was the most beautiful of Vaneza's life. She started it as she always did, standing in her nightgown on her balcony in the early twilight, the chilled air caressing her skin with delight. It used to be a short-lived pleasure, for the cold touch of repression was quickly remembered in the day to come, but not this day.

Soon after her partner strolled up behind her, as always, and placed his hands tenderly upon her shoulders, warming them in contrast to the cool morning. They always longed to embrace there and then, but even a deep show of such emotion, deemed lewd by law, had stopped them in the past, but not this morning.

Next would be the sunrise, the signalling of another day of iron-fisted regulations and precise work shifts, but not this day. Instead this sinrise was supposed to be that of a new future. It was supposed to be the beginning of Dalthor's happy ending. The warm extolling of the sun was always perfect on Dalthor... But not this sunrise.

The viel of twilight lifted, pushed back by the sun, to reveal the Capitol's Inquisitorial Fotress. Where once leered the skull with a single ruby eye was a crucified Edin Rikari, deathly pale, drained of blood, with one eye gouged out. The capital I, the emblem of the Inquisition, was smeared onto the Fortress with Rikari's blood, in addition to the words above the gruesome spectacle:
"The 'I' will always watch you."

And below:
"There is no escape."

Vaneza froze in shock, gasping once at such a sight. Exclaimations from other balconies and those in the street built up until all those in line of sight stood still, gazing at their mutilated hero in fear.

Everything about the spectacle was an afront to the concordat, its achievements, and its main agent on Dalthor. Now it was he who was the rubied eye of the Inquisition. It was his blood, leeched as the Imperium leeches all its subjects, that delivered Mikarovic's message. His message was that Dalthor had only achieved its own destruction. The Inquisitor even used a tiny illusionary device to make Rikari's head appear to look at you, no matter where you stood. All these things the people of dalthor understood plainly, and were all the more dire for it.

Despite the quick action of the Draegan garrison, taking down Rikari from his cruel bards, more that a quarter of the city had seen their likely leader paraded as a corpse before them on the first day of their freedom. As a last insult, a bomb implanted within Rikari's gut was detonated when it sensed a number of human life-signs within range, but it was not a destructive bomb. Instead of fyceline, it contained whipped cream, covering a squad and a half of Draegans in Rikari's body parts and dessert topping; an indication of just what the Inquisitor Lord thought of Angrabode's troops.

It was then that speakers, planted strategically throughout the capitol carried the Inquisitor's trademark hyena's cackle. It echoed across the city for hours until the last of the speakers were found.

Mikarovic always liked spoiling other people's fun. He evidently liked destroying happiness as well.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:57
Branica, 0430 Hours
The scene of the battlefield was hardly different from any other. The field was littered with broken and destroyed vehicles, the bodies of the dead, and of course rats, feasting on the bloody, swolen corpses of the dead. Craters littered no man's land, and new ones were continuously formed by the heavy guns farther behind the lines. The muddy trenches, concrete bunkers, and gun platforms were filled with the valiant men of Branica, who alone had managed to slow a massive force from taking their entire planet in the name of the Dark Gods. Their faces were worn, tired from the constant fighting, as no reinforcements existed. The Branican lines were slowly wearing thin, every man that died was a tragic and substantial loss to the defenders.

"Where is that damn backup from the Crusade," muttered Brok.

Evidently they had heard him, for one of the troopers replied, "Delta can handle it, sir."

Brok cracked into a half-smile, amused by the soldier. Delta was different from many of the other units of stormtroopers; not only were they good at their job, they loved it, too.

Inquisitor Brok handed binoculars he had been using back to Sergeant Van Guilder. Both turned around and walked up the ramp into the Valkyrie. The Valkyrie is a magnificent machine to behold;turbine engines, well armoured sides, with heavy bolter turrets on the underside of each wing. Painted red and black, it looked even more menacing. In total, Brok had assembled fifteen of these drop ships, along with some Branican craft to carry their troops. Inside the cabin, Brok stood; he was not in the mood to sit. Surveying the room, Brok noticed that his men were excited too, as being on the defensive was something Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, or any Stormtrooper for that matter, were not particularly suited for. One of the troopers, out of a nervous habit Brok assumed, was even stripping his gun and laughing, but not a happy laugh; the kind of laugh that can scare a grown man.

Brok spent the next half-hour without interruption going over his questions once more, although nothing had changed.

The enemy had finally caught on to Brok's strike, and had begun to open up with small arms fire on the airborne troop transports. The fire of auto and lasguns could not penetrate the hulls of the Valkyrie, but where there were small arms, there are usually heavy support units. The Heavy Bolters and Autocannons the traitors had stolen shot at the transports. A chance shot hit the engine of one of the Branican flying machines which went crashing to the ground.

"ETA, 1 minute," the pilot informed them over the vox unit, barely audible over the roar of the Valkyrie's engines. Brok was glad to be nearing the end of this part of his mission. It was then that the flak guns opened up the drop ships. The sound of shrapnel exploding could be heard over the engines, scraping crunching against the armoured sides of the troop transports.

"Well, we must be close then," Brok thought.

As he peered out his window, Brok saw several ships on fire. Fortunately, the strike force was close enough to the fallen base that the pilots could attempt to make a crash landing close to the drop zone. The engines began to fade; they were coming in for a landing.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 02:59
Branica, 0515 Hours
Men spilled forth from their transports, racing towards cover as fast as their legs would carry them. Their objective, a base that had fallen into the hands of the Archenemy, was heavily fortified. The facility was sprawling. Covering almost two acres, it encompassed a medium sized airfield, several hangars for airplane storage and repair, barracks for both airmen and guardsmen, and training grounds for the troopers.. The base also contained an extensive armoury, containing massive supplies of the ubiquitous lasgun, bolters, heavy bolters, lascannons, autocannons, flak armour, carapace armour, and a great deal of vehicles, among them one baneblade super heavy tank. The loss of this base was both demoralizing and disabling to the ground troops. It had been scheduled for demolition, but the soldiers manning the base had gone rogue, executing any soldiers still loyal to the Imperium and the Benificent God-Emperor of mankind. The false promises of the Chaos Gods had entranced and tricked them. Along with the fortifications, the base had been covered in dark runes and spells. Names too horrible to pronounce, or even read, covered the walls, painted on with the blood of those poor souls who had fallen into their hands.

The crack of las fire sounded next to Inquisitor Brok as he quickly strode to cover. Bolt shots exploded in the ground, throwing mud, debris, and snow high up. Men fell left and right to the fire coming from concrete pillboxes and trenches, muzzle flash brightening the dark, pre-morning sky. All around, men were firing from the only cover they could find, frantically attempting to establish a base of fire to open up on the bunkers. Inquisitorial Stormtroopers moved quickly to disable any defenses, and slowly, the Stormtroopers and Branican Guardsmen eliminated the traitors manning the perimeter weapons, and then began to move inward. The entire plan relied on strength and surprise, and so far, it was working.

Stormtroopers dressed in deep red uniforms and dark black carapace plates rushed forwards towards the disabled weaponry, mercilessly slaughtering any resistance. With their hellguns levelled, they entered the trenches, opening fire with extreme prejudice on the traitor guardsmen. Terror was visible among the enemy soldiers: they had supposed their pact with the Dark Gods would save them, but none can match the might of the Imperial Inquisition when in full strength. Close quarters combat began to break out in the trenches, with the Stormtroopers fighting sword equipped guardsmen. Some of the Stormtroopers fell, but strength of numbers beat back their enemy in hand to hand combat, along with superior training. Once the trenches had been cleared, leaving no traitor alive, the Branican PDF set up a perimeter. The strike force was still far from its objective.

Then the Traitors counterattacked. The Stormtroopers and guardsmen had secured some of the armaments and turned them on the enemy base, and began firing back with the heavy weapons that they had found. While the traitors were distracted, Inquisitor Brok, along with several platoons of stormtroopers, moved in from the right flank, unseen. The Stormtroopers went to work with demolitions, meltaguns, and plasma guns, destroying utterly the armour that had been brought to bear on the Branican soldiers setting up defenses. The Branicans stayed in their positions, while the stormtroopers moved stealthily forward.

Two platoons advanced towards the armoury. Inside, they found the baneblade, being powered up for battle. The mechanics and guards posed no threat to them, and after only a few volleys from their hellguns, accurately placed shots had eliminated all defenses. Running towards the tank, one soldier prepared a detonator to put the tank out of commission forever. It would be an acceptable loss, as it was more important that the archenemy did not take hold of such a potent piece of equipment as a Baneblade Super Heavy tank. The squad held off oncoming traitor guard while the charge was set, and when it was ready, they ran as a team towards shelter, and blew the tank.

On the other side of the former Branican PDF base, Inquisitor Brok, along with Delta platoon, had infiltrated the Barracks. Inside was an ungodly sight: the walls were decorated with the flesh and organs of the loyalist soldiers executed by the traitors, forced into smiling positions by their creators. Squads moved in, weapons at the ready.

"If anything moves, shoot it," said Brok, as he stepped into one of the rooms. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of an amorphous blob of blue and purple colouring. As soon as he saw it in his peripheral vision, it was gone.

"Alright men, stay alert. We have Daemons on the loose," Brok said.

Then the daemons were upon them. The Stormtroopers of delta platoon formed a circular ring, in order to cover all sides with fire, putting out withering hails of gunfire, deafening to hear. Each of the specially trained men killed several of the daemons every few seconds, but not even their superior training and firepower could overcome the numbers stacked against them. The Daemons still came at them from the corridors of the barracks in great number. The Inquisitor levelled his automatic combat shotgun and fired into the daemon pack, tearing chunks of their flesh and sending daemon upon daemon back to the warp. Brok, after firing 10 shells, slung his shotgun on his back and charged into his immortal enemy with his blessed Daemonhammer. As he charged forth, he struck the closest daemon, purple in colour. As these things did not even have heads, target selection was no difficult. Like a solem tune, Brok struck accurately and powerfully, each blow sending another daemon back to the hell it emerged from.

In Holy Rage the Inquisitor tore a pathway out for the squad alone. He bellowed prayers of the faithful to the Beneficent God-Emperor of Mankind. He fought with all his strength and passion, throwing daemons out of the way. Onlyonce was he thrown back, but his willpower pushed him forward. His men followed closely, providing fire support and suppressing any newcomers from making it inside. They, as one, followed Brok out of the hell they had only been in for a short while. Bodies littered the floor, as the daemons had caught them at an extreme disadvantage. The men of Delta pulled their comrades out, dead or wounded. No one, except a traitor, deserved to be left for a daemon to feast on.

By the time they fought their way out of the barracks, the sun was beggining to rise. Brok tossed a bag back inside the barracks, and then fled the scene with his soldiers. Brok then detonated the munitions that had been inside the bag, levelling the barracks. Similar sounds were made from the other detpacks and munitions devices he had his the soldiers, both Branican PDF and Inquisitorial, place at important structural areas. The airfield was filled with enormous craters, and both the armoury, barracks, and hangars were now destroyed. The Imperium had won a glorious victory over the forces of the Archenemy of mankind, for in destroying that base, they would knock combat efficiency and ability of the enemy down by a staggering 15%.

While the troops were hurriedly boarding their drop ships and steam powered troop transports, Brok felt an acheing pain in his mind. It was the pain that he always felt when some great incursion was about to happen. Then, it subsided. The Inquisitor was not tricked, however, by the absence of what he had felt, as the nature of a daemon is to lie, and to deceive. As he turned around to see the progress of the boarding, one of the steam powered transports of the Branican soldiers was shorn in two, and a great beast rose up.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:00
The thing was well over 18 feet tall, thrice Inquisitor Brok's height, and bore the resemblance of a beastman. Its skin was a red darker than that of the Inquisition, with massive, bulging muscles. Its face was that of a bull, with two horns that Several of the PDF soldiers waiting to board their shuttles began throwing up, and proceeded to choke on their own juices. This daemon had visited Brok only once before. This was the one responsible for the disaster at Arkon IV, the place whose ghosts of innocents still haunted Brok. This beast alone had killed three-thousand civillians in an orgy of death, tribute to his master. This was Vexdraq.

The Inquisitor stood there, in horror, at the beast presented before him. A daemonic cackle came from the beast. "Hahaha, the good Inquisitor. How very good to see you. I have wanted your skull for my masters throne since we first met. Today, you are mine."

Brok did not speak. For the first time, in a very long time, he was afraid. Brok feared that he could not kill this daemon, at least, not without help. There are times to fight, and times to withdraw, and this was such an occasion.

"Get those transports out, now. I will hold him off," he bellowed to the soldiers.

Then, Brok charged. With all his remaining strength he charged. With the first blow, Brok broke the greater daemon's femur. The powers of the warp were extremely strong in him, and the Daemon Prince did not even notice. He threw brok aside with the side of his axe. Then, he picked up Brok by his leg, and raised him to eye level. The breath from the beast stung Brok like a thousand tiny needles, and his voice made Brok feel as if any minute his own head would explode.

The daemon wanted to toy with Brok. Fortunately for Brok, however, a daemon dedicated to Khorne is not known for its intelligence. Brok saw the Vulture Gunship on approach vector, and realized this was his one and only chance to escape to one of the remaining Valkyrie drop ships. With the last ounce of his strength, Brok knocked the beast in his arm, forcing Brok to be dropped to the ground. Then, Brok ran, not looking behind him to see the scene of the Vulture loosing all its armament against him. This would not stop him, he would recover. When he did recover, though, Inquisitor Brok would be ready.


Branica, Inquisitor Brok's Headquarters
Upon arrival, Brok quickly found Tara.

"Tara, I must have you transmit an astropathic message quickly to the Inquisitorial fortress in the Nemesis Tessera system. Here is the information you will need to transmit the message. As for the message, simply inform them that 'The great beast has returned.' They will know what I mean."

She replied, happy to be of service, "I will do as you ask, Brok," and hurriedly attended to her task, smiling, but had she known what evil this daemon would bring, she would not have.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:02
Dark energies swirled in the room and the dim light of black candles flickered in the otherworldy breeze. Two dozen figures cloaked in heavy dark robes. They rocked back and forth and chanted in a low voice in a language that would make mortals sick in instants.
Zymran watched intently as the ritual continued. It was very long and circumvoluted, each step had to be taken carefully lest the whole attempt fail with catastrophic consequences. It was the most challenging attempt at channeling warp energies Marduk had ever attempted.

The sorcerer stood a few steps behind, inconsciously stroking several of his talismans and giving prayers of appeasement to the dark gods of Chaos.
'An impressive display, Marduk, to be certain. I can feel the denizens of the warp pressing against the boundary with the materium, their hatred and their desire to destroy and claim souls for their masters.'
The Sorcerer was once again disturbed by his master's new abilities with decyphering the currents of the warp. Zymran was fast growing into a potent psykers, probably not as might as Marduk himself but a force to be reckoned with nonetheless.
He knew his master trained daily to focus the currents of the warp into bolts of destruction. The cause for this was unknown but it had probably to do with the Apostle's future ascension, although Marduk had detected on several occasions potent psychic energies emanating from the Accursed Crozius which never left his master's hand.

Daelhg'gkor finally deigned to make his presence known.
'Finally,' commented Zymran dryly, 'I was beginning to wonder if you would ever show up.'
'All in due time, lord Zymran, there is no hurry,' replied the daemon in a condescending tone.
The relation between the two had been strained ever since Daelhg'gkor was invocated on this plane on Camulod. The daemon treated the Apostle as an inferior and Zymran scorned him for his secrecy.

'He seeks to betray you. Already his plans are in motion. He will deny the Saint from you and claim the Heart for his own. He wants the whore for himself,' whispered a voice in Zymran's mind. It was D'chanorn, the Lord of Change trapped for aeons in the Crozius and more or less bound to the Apostle's will.
'I know all this. I had doubts ever since the attempt of Ekaterina's life. He has the power to call up the Eternal Champion and set him on the Saint.'
'Then why do you keep him around? Banish him, kill him or bound him.
'Keep you friends close and your enemies closer goes the saying, daemon. Daelhg'gkor has not yet outlived his usefulness. His help in the ritual is genuine and he shall prove a distraction for the Inquisitors while I complete my ascencion. Then and only then will he pay for his betrayal.'
'Be weary though, he also has tricks up his sleeve still.'
'He certainly does, as you do. He has ulterior motives, as you do.'
'You pain me, have I not helped you in your quest for grandeur, in your quest to make the galaxy see the True Faith?'
'Don't play with me daemon, I still remember how you used me for your own ends.'
'Ah, yes, that... But you did won in the end, did you not? You acquire the world of Ba'lor, stroke a mighty blow to the Alpha Legion and strengthened your grip on your followers. I gained in the process as well, but as long as I am bound to you I shall help you. And as long as you are worthy and strong enough. I would not allow harm to come to you, but that does not mean I do not advance my own goals in the process. The stronger either of us become the stronger the other becomes as well. Is my gift of psychic awakening not satisfactory to you?'
Zymran flexed his mind and felt the flow of warp energies flow through him. He mentally nodded and turned his attention back to the ongoing ritual.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:03
Quote:
Thought For The Day

Beware the Enemy within for he is Chaos!


Jacka had returned from his inspection of the 'Orphan' Brigade. His Command Chimera and its crew awaited his return. Bill had set about making a Brew for them. Once again they were ready for War, but yet they could not redeploy while the Warmaster lay comatosed in the Hospital. Jacka stalked the corridor to Hunters room accompanied by Commissar Wu. Wu had just relayed to Jacka the contents of the Vox Capt Jenks had given him on the situation on Brianca.

Jacka replied to Wu comments, 'Good! The Commissar-Lord has arrived and his force is now deployed on Branica. I’m sure that Brusilov and Guderian will give the Chaos forces there something to worry about. I just wish that we could start taking the offencive to them and stop putting these bloody spot fires out.'

'So do I Matt!' replied Wu, 'Hef and his Space Wolves have still not had luck in tracking down Imrador, but you know what he is like and who knows where hunter sent him this time. I got a feeling he will turn when he is good and ready.'

'Bugger it.' Jacka said to no one in particular as they arrived at the Warmasters room and stepped inside. Doc Evans and Sarah still stood at the observation window. Sarah turned as they entered. 'Any change,' asked Jacka.

'No,' Sarah said as she held her hand out to her husband. As he joined her Jacka looked through the glass at Hunter.

No change he thought!, 'Bugger.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:04
Hunter walked down the hall. It was beautiful and well lit. It was peacefull and cool. He smelled the scent of vanilla and honeysuckle and it reminded him of Carolon. He stubbed out his cigar in a marble dish to his right that was half filled with scented water.

Hunter turned a corner and saw a light at the end of the tunnel. He began to walk towards it and reached for a cigar, only to find he had none. He felt at peace as he closed in with the light. It was warm and comforting, it was then that a voice spoke to him from beyond the light.

"It is not your time to come here Hunter. I still have need of you elsewhere."

"I'm tired," Hunter replied. "I just wanna quit and be done with it all."

"No you still have a destiny to fill."

"What part of I'm done dont ya understand," Hunter replied in an irritated voice. " I just wanna join Carol-Ann now if ya dont mind."

"You will OBEY ME! I am still your master!"
"
Bite my ass," Hunter said dejectedly and walked back the way he came.

__________________________________________________ __

Half a mile away Bartholomew Leigh sat bolt upright in his bed. "He was here!" Bart dressed and quickly left his quarters , he didnt know why or whom he was searching, but was sure that He would lead him in the right direction.

Bart was halfway to the bunker that housed the medicae facility where Hunter was being treated when he nearly ran into Herexei. The Libraian was only in his devotional robes. The two faithfull's eyes met and Herexei knew in an instant.

"You felt it too?" The Blood Viper asked.

"Aye that I did," Bart replied nodding.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:05
Drakkenhorst looked at the surrounding landscape from the top of the hill on which his Death Cultist and he had stopped to rest for a while. Vardhagh was a desolate place, a hellish place seemingly frozen in time. The unmoving sun was blazing down at them, twisted dead trees dotted the horizon and from here and there one could see the ruins of blasted buildings.
But for the first time, they also saw sign of activity, or at least traces of it. Monstrously deformed skeletons were crucified of eight-pointed stars or impaled on poles, their flesh having rotten away a long time ago.
'Someone is coming,' the Inquisitor suddenly declared.
Malyssia instantly jumped to her feet, weapons at the ready.
'There are many of them,' Drakkenhorst pointed at the cloud of smoke drawing ever closer.
'Should we run or fight?'
'Run where to? This place is their domain, there is no safe place for us. We wait for them.'

Minutes later, the horde was visible in the distance. It was a carnival of abominations and monstrosities. The more humanlike were mutants with features of beats, goats, pigs, birds or bull, like beeks, ooves, wings or horns. They were clad in rags and wielded crude clubs. They rode on chariots pulled by formless and everchanging beasts, with lots of claws, teeth and limbs.
Others ran alongside the chariots on multiple legs, levitated or flew above the horde.
they surrounded the little hill and the beastmen climbed down from their chariots.
'In the name of our master, the might Arioch, Duke of Chaos, we order you to surrender yourself and come wih us or suffer the consequences of refusal,' managed to utter the most articulate of the beasts and probably their leader.
'We come,' answered the Inquisitor.
Malyssia shot a questioning glance to her master, but he nodded and whispered.
'They'll take us more quickly to where we want to go. This does not mean we have to follow them all the way.'

The two humans climbed on board a chariot with the leader, a man with the head of a fly, three arms and cloven hooves.
For what seemed like hours they rode, across a blasted landscape, until tall mountains half hidden in purple stormy clouds appeared over the horizon.
The beastmen were growing restless and suddenly one of them yelled something in a language that hurt the ears.
In the distance a massive flying form was fast approaching. Drakkenhorst watched with horrified interest as a massive scally flying shark with tentacles, which ended in snapping mouths full of sharp teeth, sprouting from his side bear down on them.
'Jump!' he yelled to Malyssia as he threw himself out of the chariot.
Seconds later the beast was upon the horde, tearing the beastmen apart in a fury of destruction. In a few instants, all were dead or fleeing in terror as fast as they could. The shark gave chase and disappeared as fast as he had come.

Malyssia was on her feet in seconds as Drakkenhorst encased in his artificier armour was slowly rising.
'What was that?' she asked.
'I don't know, another of Chaos' bizarre creations,' the Inquisitor answered.
'Why did it attack the beastmen? Does this planet not belong wholly to this Arioch?'
'It does, but such bizarre things are the thing of Chaos. Do not seek for logic when all this only serves the amusement of a twisted otherworldly mind. Come now, we have to keep going. It seems our destination lies in this mountain.'

Far away and at the same time very close, Arioch laughed. Those mortals were proving an worthy distraction. Their presence was causing much havoc among his servitors and sending ever wider ripples that would have unforeseen consequences.
The Messenger of Chaos had not enjoyed himself so much for a long time.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:05
Major General "Wild" Bill Kittle looked at the defensive line before him and his I Corps and was satisfied that his troops could take it and the lines the Camulodian PDF occupied behind it. The first line was made up of robotic gun servitors with laser targeters and would be targeted by live fire. The succesive lines were manned by the PDF and low powered lasers would be used to desinated casualties.

Kittle looked over his shoulder and nodded to the film crew that was documenting it. "Be sure and get it all, 'cause Hoots will wanna see it when he comes out," the Carolonian General ordered. "Wild" Bill was more than the Warmasters comanding General of his homeworlds forces in the Crusade. He was also his Brother inlaw, and cousin in law.

Hunter had become fast friends with Kittle during their training in th eCarolon Military academy and had often took their leave together along with Bart on many occasions. After Hunters first marriage to Donna Keene he had met and married Kittles wifes sister Jemare, then Kittles own sister Alicia, and finally his neice Lorilei. All of this had had a miserable effect on Hunters primary wife Donna who had no intrest in bearing him any children and led to the first divorce in the Hunter family in over 500 years. Donna had since been transformed to the Saint Ekaterina, which still worried "Wild" Bill even though it was obvious that the Saint was not the spitefull vengefull and petty woman that had divorced Hunter. Still Kittle had to grin and shake his head in wonder at the Emperors decision to have one of his resurected Saints inhabit herbody, but then His ways were beyond the comprehension of a mere mortal.

"Wild" Bill Kittle returned his attention to the task at hand. He nodded to his master Vox operator and the signal was given for the attack to begin. First was the artillery barrage, every gun from Basilisk to Griffon and Medusa began a syncronised fire. This included the massive Bombards that had only so recently arrived, which was the real purpose of the exercise. "Wild"Bill wanted to see them in action.

As the artillery shells began their impacts on the faux position the armor and infantry advanced. The attack was led by the 1st Forsetti 33rd and 51st Carolon armored regiments. Following them were the mechanised forces of the Corps and infantry as well. The monted Dragoons follwed at a farther pace ready tp exploit the breach and counter attack any enemy attacks.

Over head bombers of the Imperial Navy soared and made their attack runs with deadly precision on the now firing robot guns. The Carolonian General was impressed with the massive craters and destruction the Bombards made. Their massed fire soon opened a breach that the Forsetti armored forces were quick to exploit.

Behind the lines the troops of the 82nd and 101st air assault troops had grav chuted in and had taken several key bridges as well as guiding straffing runs by the Imperial Navy. Soon the I Corps was breaking through and routing the Camulodian PDF, which in their defense had heal well and with dogged determination and had to be rooted out in many situations their stubborness had caused many casualties among the attackers.

The entire simulated assault had lasted the better part of ten hours, but in the end General "Wild" Bill Kittles plan had worked, and worked well. As the results were tallied the casualties were 50% less than any projected Imperial Guard projections. Kittle smiled at the results and knew that thge Warmaster would be pleased with them, they were both trained in the Carolonian theory that the troops were not an expendable asset to be thrown by the thousands at thenemy to acheive the goal and victroy. That they were to be used wisely and that vetrans would be worth more than raw recruits in the next battle. This gave the Carolonians their stubborness on the feild that earned then the nickname of "Resin Heels", and also contributed to their fanatical loyalty to their leaders.

"Tell the men well done and send my respects to the Camulodian PDF commander with congratulations for such a stubborn and brilliant defence," Kittle said as he turned to leave. He would finish the paperwork and then had a scheduled meeting with Marshall Kliest of the the 2nd Army of the Crusade and Colonel Jacka. They were to have dinner and discuss the Warmasters condition.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:07
Achnamar, Segmentum Obscuras

"Come on, sir. You said yourself it couldn't last forever."

Captain Mayne grimaced. "I know I said that, Trooper. But it got to the point where I stopped believing it. Twenty worlds receiving us with flowers and kisses. Not what we're used to. Then I think we did get used to it."

Trooper Koth of the Draegan 17th Storm Trooper brigade winced as lasfire slashed into the lip of the foxhole the six soldiers crouched in. "Well, it would have been nice. But such is life. Or death, as may be."

Trooper Serith's raised eyebrow and quizzical expression was lost , obscured as it was by his helmet. "What?"

"Since, if we don't move we are all about to be incinerated by an artillery shell." Koth was already scrambling out of the foxhole. The rest of the squad scrabbled after him, clawing their way out as the shell whistled down towards them. They threw themselves out as the shell slammed into their previosuly-occupied position and detonated, ripping what had seemed a secure spot for catching ones breath apart in a spray of mud and whickering shrapnel.

Mayne ducked as more lasfire spat towards the Draegan unit. "Targets, 200 metres!" He hefted his Strafer rifle and fired a burst towards the source of the searing laser beams. Degree of success in this projectile-projecting endeavour would remain unknown for the rest of his days. The fire slackened off a bit. "Move!" The six troopers ran towards the Imperial-held trench.

Serith came apart as a Heavy bolter turret opened up, blasting a dozen holes in his carapace-armourd form. Koth hit the deck, fumbling with his grenade belt. The turret continued to spray bolter rounds towards the crouching Draegans. Then, it came apart, a Krak grenade blowing its guns off and detonating the ammunition stockpile, sending a form in the green fatigues of the Achnamaran PDF flying into the air.

"Go!" Mayne and the rest of his squad sprang to their feet, an action made difficult by their heavy armour but made possible by a combination of experience, necessity, training and adrenaline. The five Draegans leapt over the lip of the trench, their dark blue carapaces casting their imposing shadows down upon the crouching Achnamaran troops that occupied it.

Trooper Mkvail had heard rumours of the Concordat's abilities. A ragtag army of different traitor regiments, twisted deviants who cavorted with the daemons of the warp. He also knew of the Draegans, their infamy arife throughout all regiments based in the Segmentum Obscuras, and even some beyond. They were known as possibly the galaxy's greatest trench fighters, even before their fall from grace. Now, the tattooed, mark-encrusted, perverted monstrosities seemed to fill their air, descending upon his heroic fighters who fought for their own and their families' freedom. Or at least, this was how he saw it, despite the descending soldiers' lack of tattoos, marks, perversions or intentions of enslaving anybody. Such is the efficiency of Imperial propaganda.

These mistakes were the final thoughts he made in material existence. Several Achnamaran troops managed to fire off shots at point-blank range, but these glanced off thick carapace plates. Still mid-descent, the Draegans' Strafer rifles opened fire. Designed for exactly these close-fought situations, the weapons, based on the Imperial Assault cannon, roared into life, spewing hypervelocity bullets down the trench. Flak jackets exploded, blood spraying everywhere as PDF troopers were torn apart.

Mayne swayed as a shovel slashed past his head, clubbing the improvised weapon's wielder with the Strafer rifle, kicking him back into the trench wall and emptying half a clip into the man at point blank range. Dark red liquid spattered his armour. Bardis grunted as a lasbolt punched through the shoulder of his armour. The Draegan levelled his rifle in both hands, planted his feet and unleashed a terrifying volley down the trench, hardvesting the Achnamarans who were charging along the length of their own fortifications to face the outnumbered but exceptionally well trained and equipped Concordat shock troops.

The battle raged across the blasted, muddy fields that had once grown crops, now a hellish battlefield. A squadron of Halkonian Leman Russ Conquerors thundered forwards, tracks spitting grey mud onto the unforms of the Draegan ground troops who ran forwards, Autoguns clutched tightly to their chests. The bulk of the Draegan war effort, they lacked the training, experience or equipment of the Storm Troopers, a wave of common soldiery who got the least glamorous jobs.

A Leman Russ came apart, turret blown off by an Achnamaran Lascannon team in a defensive tower. The rest of the squadron's turrets traversed, firing shells at the source of the rippling laser blast. Smoke shrouded the tower as Conqueror cannon rounds slammed into it. Agonisingly slowly, it toppled, landing on top of a squad of Halkonian Armoured Fist troops, flattening seven of the Concordat soldiery.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Camulod

There was nothing special about the ventilation systems of the Warmaster Hunter's private bunker. It was wide, and efficient, cycling cool air through the building. Installed around seventeen years previously by Ikoth, a local ventilation systems company that had had a long but, as might be expected from such a corporation, less than dramatic history.

The contents, however, included an object that had not been there when Mandel Torkis, the chief engineer on that particular project (now retired), had not lovingly placed there himself. Mr Torkis took great pride in his mundane but necessary job, and would ecrtainly have had no intention on placing a lean, powerful-looking man in a black assault suit with an Imperial eagle tattoo on his left cheek in the system.

The sound the system made-very little, such was Mr Torkis' skill, even seventeen years after its installation-was louder than the sound made by the cautious movements of Jagdus Dashor. The assassin, listed MIA by his Temple on Holy Terra, crept almost silently through Mr Torkis' handiwork. His target was close. He scanned the blueprints entered into the small data processor on the inside of his assault suit's wrist. His target's incapacitated state should make this even easier...

He looked down out of the grille to his right, and saw what he had been waiting for. There, lying on the bed, was the still, unmoving form of Warmaster Antony Eddard Hunter, one of the most powerful, most respected Imperial military commanders. The man who had tried to have him killed. And the man, who was about to pay for his treachery.

The dark eyes, shaded by the hood of the long cloak the assassin wore over his assault suit, scanend the room: Hunter was alone. His hands grapsed the edges of the grate, his forearm muscles tensing as he wrested the corner of it free. The grille was easy to remove: removing it quietly was the difficult part. Mr Torkis had not had stealthiness of removal in mind when he designed the bunker's ventiliation system, merely efficiency of air recycling. Jagdus Dashor's teeth gritted as he slid the grate behind him into the passage. Powerful leg muscles tensed as he leapt out of the shaft, landing silently as a cat by the Warmaster's bed. A grin split his features.

"So. The mighty Warmaster Hunter." His voice was quiet, menacing, despite his lack of aware audience. "Not so mighty now. Where are your friends now? They were there the day you thought you had killed me. But now, alone, you are nothing."

A slight screech of metal pierced the air as two pairs of blades sprang out of the gauntlets of the assassin's assault suit.

"This is going to be...." Jagdus Dashor's gloat caught in his throat. He looked down again upon his unmoving former commander. Defenceless. He didn't have a chance. It would be so easy just to slit his throat, and disappear before anyone even considered returning for the treacherous bastard. He raised his hand above his shoulder, tensing to deliver the killing blow.

His arm wouldn't move. He couldn't kill him like this. Not in cold blood.

The assasin spun on his heel, turning away. Why was he thinking this? This...creature did not deserve to die with honour. He was an assassin, the dark instrument of the Emperor's will. That was what mattered! He clutched his forehead in his hand, sweat beading his palms.

. It would be easy. Too easy. His teeth grated. "No. Not like this. Even you deserve to die on your feet. Even you deserve to die with a weapon in hand." Another deep, anguished breath. "And even you, especially you, deserve to know who ended your miserable, disgusting life." His hand quivered, his chest rising as he took a deep breath.

With a shriek of metal, the claws leapt back into the gauntlets of the assassin's suit.

------------------------------------

Later, the next person to enter Warmaster Hunter's room would find a note lying on the table by his side, written in blood, and the source of which was not immediately apparent.

"RECOVER QUICKLY, HUNTER. I WANT YOU TO KNOW, AS YOU DIE, WHO HAS KILLED YOU. YOUR FIRST DAY OF RECOVERY WILL BE YOUR LAST ONE OF LIFE. I HAVE SPARED YOU FOR THE FATE THAT YOU KNOW IS COMING. THE FATE THAT HAS BEEN COMING SINCE YOU BETRAYED ME. DESPAIR, HUNTER, AND PREPARE FOR YOUR RECKONING."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:08
The next person to enter the room was a medicae servitor that was assigned to monito Hunters status. Already the flesh of the half man half machine was showing the desease that Hunter was infected with. Doc Evans and Gorgidas knew that soon this one too would have to be decommisioned, or in other words euthanised and incinerated. The servitor took the note to Doc Evans who read it once it had been decontaminated.

Quickly he reached for the phone and made two calls. Very soon Hef, a huge Sgt of the Wolf Fangs who had sworn a blood oath to protect Hunters life. He had been assigned by the former Chapter Master Odin Swiftclaw to guard Hunters mistress and then Govorness of Carolon Brianna. He had done so until a bomb that was undetected exploded killing her and her unborn child. Since Hunters return from Cadia Hef had been a constant site with the Warmaster. Where you saw one you would soon see the other.

The second ws Colonel Gaius Varro of Dnieper who commanded Hunters Lifeguard. Doc Evans handed them the decontaminated note. "I thought you two should see this."

Hef read it and the bristles on his neck began to rise. This was certainly not the first time that the assasin Jagdus Dashor had proven better than his security. He swore that someday he would kill the man to avenge his honor.

The first time had been on Tarpons Cross where Dashor had sprang out of the swamps and attacked Hunter in his command post. The assasin had killed an Ogryn named Ralph Muller and several Highlander guards, but had been driven off by Hunter and arriving reinforcements. The second time had been on Lanniport where the Blood Vipers had assisted Hef in driving the renegade away, but again at heavy cost. That was when Herexei had joined the Warmasters lifeguard. The last time Dashor had tried to kill Hunter was on Egea and instead had saved Hunter from a brood of Genestealers and a Lictor. Now he was back again.

Hef was broken from his reverie by Colonel Varros chuckling. "I fail to see the humor here Colonel."

Colonel Giaus Varro sobered up and looked Hef and Doc Evans up and down. "If this disease is as bad as Evans and Gorgidas make it out to be then the fool may well have just killed himself."

Understanding the implications of what Varro had just said Hef grinned as well. That would indeed be a point of irony, but somehow he doubted that Dashor would get much more than a sniffle.

But the thought still amused him to no end.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:09
Captain Jurinio watched as another train departed from Kolimar in a hurry. The population was being evacuated as fast as possible to the safety of the Rehnaron plains, behind the unbreakable wall of Cormandel, away from the approaching fighting.
Indeed the rumble of artillery could be heard in the distance and the horizon was light by explosions in large numbers.
The situation had the captain worried. For now he was only overseeing the evacuation of non-essential civilians, as his orders required. General Weynach had considered it was too late to move the factories and instead decide to have them churn out as many weapons and ammo as they could and blow them up when the enemy got to close.
The thing that bothered Jurinio was the wording of his orders. It said when the enemy got too close, not if the enemy got too close, as if there was little doubt it would. But such thought were not for him to entertain.

Suddenly the sirens began to whail, drowning every other sound in the factory. Jurinio knew what it meant: an air raid. He yelled at its troopers over the strident sound to get the civilians to safety into the shelters.
Flak opened up almost immediately at the incoming enemy aircrafts. the captain swore yet again, despairing that the Branican airforce was no match for the incredibly fast and nimble Chaos planes.
As he ran across the square in front of the train station to his command post by a statue of the Saint Pius, a Hell Talon flew low, dropping two bombs. Jurinio flew into the air as the bombs incinerated his command post, killing at least 20 of his men.
Slowly, one after another the flak batteries were being systematically silenced by pinpoint strikes. As the captain got to his feet, still shaken, he saw two dozen Tormentors flying low. This was unusual, the massive bombers generally flew high and carpet bombed their targets.
Jurinio's eyes opened wide as he saw a dozen comets strike down from the sky and crash into the city. Seconds later, white corrolas began to blossom over the city and with horror the Branican captain finally understood what it meant. The Arch-enemy was launching an airborne assault.

In space, high above the world of Branica, Black Templar Marshal Winrich, listened to Field Marshal's Guderian briefing.
'Chaos forces have launched an airborn assault on Kolimar. We don't have numbers yet but from the patchy reports the Branicans have, they are probably facing Chaos Marines as well as Janissaries shock troops. The Branicans are holding their own against the enemy advance from the Dortah but this would be a major thorn on their side. I'm diverting several brigades in this direction immediately but we need you on the ground to hold the city until we arrive.'
'It will be my honour, Marshal Guderian. We'll hold the city. We understand the factories must not be taken by the Archenemy.'
'Actually the Branicans have already planted explosives. Should the enemy make a breakthrough, do not hesitate to blow them up.'
'Will do.'
'Another request, Lord Marshal, if you would.'
'I'm listening.'
'We would like to know if you could set up a commando for a strike deep in enemy territory. It's a really risky mission.'
'The bridges,' simply replied the Black Templar.
'Exactly, as long as they are intact, the enemy can ferry massive amounts of troops, ammo and tanks from the captured cities on the coast.'
'I shall see what I can do, I'll keep you posted Marshal, Winrich out.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:09
Hunter continued his dream walk. He turned his back on the golden light and walked away from it, but it was never far away, and seemed to follow him. He was searching for somthing, yet he didnt know what. He passed many things and saw many parts of his life through the doors he passed. He realised long ago that he was in his own soul and that his body was dying. He had also lost intrest and didnt care anymore.

He just wanted to find the way out and end it. Then he passed a door with much laughter and stooped to look in. What he saw he had forgotten and decided to stay a while. Inside the door was his former wife Donna, his half brother Bart, Wild Bill, Danny Mobley who had died on their first mission taking an Ork Choppa that was meant for Hunter, and many others , even a young Jagdus Dashor.

It was the party on the eve of their departure for Mandrascone, a world in the next system that had been invaded by the greenskins. They all were drinking and singing raucious party songs. Donna was the center of attention and it was then that Hunter realised that it was also their wedding party. How long had it been? Yes he would stay here for a while before he moved on. This was the happiest time of his life.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:10
Arkyl watched with grom satisfaction as the first Janissaries landed in the square in close formation. An airborne assault was probably the last thing the worshippers of the False Emperor expected.
Encased in his Terminator armour and surrounded by some of his handpicked followers he watched as the elite troopers took position and deployed their heavy weapons. In the sky hundred more soldiers were slowly descending upon the city.
'This is Braphanor, do you copy Arkyl?'
'Arkyl here,' answered the millennia old Traitor Marine, 'speak Braphanor.'
'We have landed on target and the Janissaries are regrouping on schedule. No loss to signal. The tanks are intact as well. We're ready to move my lord.'
'Proceed, Braphanor. May the True Gods watch over you.'
Arkyl was gambling a lot in this operation. Half his company of Marines was engaged in this operation as well as most of the Janissaries under his command. He was cut off from the main body of his army, deep in hostile territory.
But it was a gamble that would win him great favour with his lord Zymran. Such a move, if successful would secure valuable industrial assets and thousands of slaves for the coming war.
The Terminator laughed softly, the Apostle must favour, not Sorgheras, for he had offered him this opportunity to prove his worth, while his rival lumbered on the snowy plains chasing the retreating Branican army. Bold and forward thinking would make him Zymran's most favoured captains and possible heir apparent. Arkyl knew that his master had always encouraged rivalry between his lieutenants, and especially between Sorgheras and him, for they were the best.
Now, as his troops were ready to move, Arkyl knew the hour of his ascension had come. The city would be his.

The six-legged daemonic monstrosity marched purposefully through the streets of Kolimar, its guns blazing and the daemon bound inside taking delight in slaughtering the hapless humans that dared stand in his way.
Around him, he noticed the cockroaches that were the mortals on his side but took no care of them as he smashed his way forward.
Suddenly a plume of smoke sped towards him at high speed. The daemon knew it must be a krak missile and brought up its massive frontal legs to protect him but too late.

The missile impacted on the upper part of the Defiler and the machine lurched backward, reeling in pain and shrieking. A cheer rose from the beleaguered Branican troopers defending the barricade across the street as the smoke dissipated and the daemonic machine seemed next to useless with its main gun blown up.
With growing horror they saw the scorched and twisted metal melt into a new gun with a gargoyle head at its end. No sooner had the new gun solidified that it fired with a deafening sound.
The shell landed squarely on the barricade obliterating the defenders, turning them to bloody pulp. The few survivors were too shocked or wounded to offer much resistance to the Chaos troopers.

Jurinio had managed to gather the survivors of his company as best as he could. For now only 60% of his men were accounted for, but without a command post and with only limited vox casters, it was not too bad.
His orders were to stand guard over the train station and he had proceeded to fortify as best as he could but the three wide entrances were next to undefendable, despite the sandbags recoved from the now destroyed flak emplacements.
The captain had also sent a runner to the regimental HQ to get new orders. This was the only way to make sense of the situation as the remaining vox casters were reserved for communications with platoons or at the company level and had a range of a couple hundred metres at best.
Nevertheless, the vox operators were getting patchy reports on the situation elsewhere in the city and things were not looking good. Chaos Marines had landed in large number with vehicles and there were seemingly hundreds of enemy paratroopers at large in the city as well.

'Sir!' yelled one of the sentry, 'more of them!'
Jurinio ran to the roof in time to witness more comets dropping into the city. Seconds later they were followed by two large black aircrafts.
One of them landed in the square in front of the cathedral. Instants later two dozen Marines clad in black armours with white shoulder pads and black greek crosses were deploying.
The one who seemed their leader carefully approached the barricaded train station. He stood in front of over a hundred gunds pointed at him with calm. His voice boomed across the square.
'I am Veteran Sergeant Undran of the Black Templar Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, faithful servant of the Undying Emperor of Mankind. Show yourself.'
Captain Jurinio hesitated for an instant and then climbed over the sandbag wall and stepped down the flight of stairs.
'Captain Jurinio, Branican 57th, good to see you my lord.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:11
The climb seemed neverending. Drakkenhorst and Malyssia had been walked up a steep slope for what seemed several hours and it did not seem they had made any progress. There was no sign of life except dead and withered trees with branches extending like monstrous claws.
'Get off the road!' suddenly shouted Drakkenhorst.
The two mortals ran behind a nearby boulder and hid there. A few instants later the stamping sound of hundreds of feet could be heard. There was nothing but this rumbling sound for several minutes but eventually a long column appeared down the slope.

Chained together hundreds if not thousands of gaunt and desperate looking beings of humanoid forms were carrying on their shoulders massive glowing globes within which a multicolour mist swirled. Beastmen whipped their slaves into moving forward, taunting them in their gutteral language.
To the Inquisitor, this procession was as blinding as looking directly at the mid-day sun. Each of these globe contained a mortal soul, and so much psychic energy was painful.
'What is it?' asked the Death Cultist, 'I can sense a tingling in my forehead.'
Drakkenhorst turned to face her, sweat was running down his temple as he tried to fend off the swirling emotions escaping from the souls.
'These are the damned, souls captured by the agents of Arioch. Wherever they go we must follow, they will probably lead us to the Duke of Chaos himself and thus to Elric himself.'
'You are in pain.'
'It is nothing, such a massive presence of so strongly charged psychic energy is dangerous. It is unrestrained by the body that acts as a buffer, and so many of them creates an enormous field of contradicting emotions. The good thing is that as long as we remain close to them we shall be undetectable. No one could detect us among them.'

As the last slaves and warden of the column disappeared, Drakkenhorst and Malyssia set out after them, following to wherever they were headed.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:11
On the surface of Camulod

In the darkness of night, from the seediest section of the hive, a new form moved out across the skies - a bat, the psy-form chosen by Chrystian for his surviellance. He flitted around the hive, meandering almost lazily, scanning the evil that lay buried in the minds of men. He knew there was a cancer on this world, followers of the Ruinous Powers conspiring to disrupt the Imperial Crusade in progress throughout the Sector.

Here - a drugged-up scummer, hallucinating a particularly violent killing as his system was ravaged by the Syntha he'd take. No use.

Here - a scribe lay tossing and turning, his conscience uneasy after selling data on to a contact. Chrystian pressed deeper, slipping between surface thoughts and dream patterns, but the memory was only concerned commercial data, a bribe ensuring a smooth transaction and a favourable contract for the buyer. No use, so he moved on, leaving the scribe to his broken rest.

Here - a genetic mutant skulked along behind his gang-boss, carting his gang's heavy weapon around, his only thoughts revolving around his hunger, and his desire for a respite ffrom the heavy load. No use.

Here - Chrystian's psy-form recoiled from the taint emanating from the huddled form as it scuttled along a darkened passageway. Gathering his energies into a shield of purity, Chrystian sank within the filth-filled mind, slipping through like a power blade through a flak vest. A destination, a reason, an image, anything, anything would do. Praises to his Lord, devotions, rituals, all slid away from Chrystians mental shield. He widened his net, trying to find the proverbian diamond in the rough, the nugget of information that would allow them access to the cult.

There, there it lay - a pustule of information within the corrupted one's mind. Chrystian absorbed the contents, securing it within a capsule within his own mind, and fought his way clear of the whirlpool of filth. His psy-form flew back towards his body, staying as far from the prying eyes of the Spire as possible. It would defeat their purpose if the Arbites or, Emperor forbid, and Inquisitor were to detect their presence on the planet.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:13
Thought For The Day

The battle is won in the mind!


Holy Terra!

He looked out of the window at the teaming city scape laid out before him. The reports of the latest Crusade were on his desk behind him. Also the latest report on the BoO. He waited for his friend to arrive, the vastest of the Imperial City never failed to awe him. How could the hive world known as Terra not generate awe in any member of the Emperors Imperium. His adjutant opened the door and walk in, ‘Sir, your guest has arrived and would like to talk to you.’ The Lord Commander turned to look at the General.

‘General, please show him in,’ the Lord Commander replied. He turned from the window to greet his friend.

‘Lord Commander, may the machine sprit bless you,’ the Lord Commander was greeted by his visitor.

“It is good to see you my friend, how goes our plan.’ he replied.

‘It looks like the Deus Mechanicus and the Emperor has blessed our most recent enterprise.’ replied the old Tech Priest.

‘Good, she understands that her job is to protect the Warmaster from those who want to usurp him.’

‘Without a doubt and soon she has now joined up with your son in that enterprise.’

‘Good! Let us talk of the directions we will go now.’ The Lord Commander put his arm around his old friend and they moved to be seated. ‘Simon!’

‘Yes, Boss?’ replied the servant.

‘A brew for my friend.’

‘Yes, Boss!’ he saluted with his left hand and moved to obey the Lord Commander.

The two friends were drinking slowly from their cups. ‘I have received word from Mars that one of my Tech Engineers, a Squat as a matter of fact, had found a blight within our mist. I had it excised with by a Regiment of Skitarri. They almost wiped them out to a man, but not quite. Some lived and they have proved to be a wealth of information.’ the Tech Mage started. ‘They have implicated some of our friends in the Ecclesiacrhy and at the higheast levels. They are without a doubt behind the BoO. Although they have done it in a way that the Brotherhood would be unaware they are behind the power and direction.’

‘We will need to continue with our campaign against them there is no doubt,’ the Lord Commander replied, ‘They must not be allowed to stop the Warmaster. Much depends on him succeeding. Keep me informed of Wujen progress. She has fitted in well into the Warmaster entourage. Yes, make sure that Jacka’s tech priests keep us fully informed at all times. General Leigh selected well when he put men like Brisilov, Jacka, Drew and Guderian to watch over Warmaster Hunter.’

‘Indeed, and thanks to his work our plan unfolds as we watch.’ replied the Adeptus Mechanicus Magos. ‘The coming months will be interesting Lord Commander.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:14
Ekaterina was helpess under the gaze of her executioner. She was bound in heavy chains, her armour stripped away from her, her body bleeding from over a dozen terrible wounds.
Dried blood covered part of her left eye and her vision was hazy but she could make out her surroundings. It was a vaulted chamber, light only by two massive braseros on which torture instruments were being heated for another cession. To her left hanged the half-dissicated corpses of guardsmen, Space Marines and Sisters of Battle alike.

Then he strode into the room. She recognised Zymran immediately. But the Chaos Lord was changed, not physically but there was an aura of otherworldly power about him, a halo of barely contained energies swirling around him. His every movement exuded authority and might and even if he said nothing, she could see that he was enjoying every moment of this.
Then she noted the little box in his massive gauntleted hand. Zymran followed her gaze and approached. He was now towering above her, as threatening as ever.
'Look and dispair, whore of the Emperor,' he said and opened the box.

Ekaterina woked up screaming. Seconds later the door was smashed opened by half a dozen armoured Celestians, bolter at the ready.
They inspected the room carefully while the Saint tried to get her bearings. She was sweating heavily but also feeling terribly cold. And then she noted the condensation on the windows of the train car, a sure sign of massive psychic activity.
She could no longer sleep even though it was still the middle of the night and the train would not arrive in Cormandel for another couple of hours. She peered out of the window to try and rest her mind.
The sky was without clouds and the stars shined down upon the peaceful snowy landscape of rolling plains and small towns in the distance. But this was all deceiptive. Many of the stars above were mighty warships of the Imperium and others accursed vessels of the Archenemy. Even as the night was calm, the battle was raging still in the city of Kolimar.
Ekaterina's thoughts returned to her vision. It was so real, so terribly real, was it a vision of things yet to pass, or a possible future. She wished one of the Inquisitors were here to shed some light on this matter.

Far away, or very close, such things are not as clear as they should in the Webway, another awoke from a terrible nightmare.
The old Farseer, Ashafar'yirraith, head of the Council, almost screamed as he awoke. Instants later, his Warlock bodyguard and pupil, Dinillainn entered.
'I have seen our doom,' said the Seer in a whisper, 'the time of the reckoning is nigh. Branica is our destination. Inform the Autarch.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:15
The party was finally starting to wind down, but Hunter was reluctant to leave, all that waits fer me out there is pain an’ loss, I ain’t going back to that fer no one. Not even Big E. He turned when he heard his name shouted, I don’t remember this. The reason soon became apparent. Hexerei was striding towards him, other partygoers giving him a wide berth.
“Get lost ya bloody nuisance! I ain’t comin’ back. I’m just going to wait here ‘till Big E gives up and lets me in.”
“No Warmaster. The Emperor needs you.”
“So What? Does He really expect me to just keep going? I’ve seen too much death Hexerei. Too many friends die needlessly. All in the name of the Emperor! Well I don’t care what he needs Hexerei, ever since he took Carol Ann away from me I haven’t cared. She was the only thing that kept me going, knowing that somewhere she was waiting for me. Then I found her, and fer a while I was truly happy. Then she was taken away from me and murdered before my eyes! Where was your Emperor then Hexerei? He abandoned me when I needed Him most, why should I fight fer someone who only stands by me when it suits Him?”
Hexerei’s fist lashed out faster than the eye could follow, sending Hunter sprawling to the floor. “How dare you.” Hexerei snarled, “The Emperor has done more for you than you deserve. He has placed all his trust in you Hunter. He is relying on you to lead his armies because where others would fail you can succeed. And only you can succeed.”
Hunter rubbed his jaw and looked up at the Librarian. "I will not ask you to forgive me for that, you deserved it," Hexerei said his voice firm and unbending. "For too long you have wallowed in your sorrow and self pity. It ends now! If this is what you truly believe then you don’t deserve to be Warmaster! If you insist on acting like a child I will personally petition the High Lords for the removal of your rank and power. And you will be nothing more than a coward."
Hunter just stared at Hexerei wordlessly, then got to his feet. He stood inches from Hexerei and growled into his face. "I am no coward!" through gritted teeth.
"Fine then prove it. There are many who are depending on you," Hexerei paused to choose his words properly. " They are waiting for you to come back and lead them to victory. A victory that cant happen without you. Brusilov is a good man but you are the glue that holds this Crusade together. Do the Emperors bidding, and when it truly is your time you will join him and Carol-Ann."
Hunter reached in his pocket and found there was a cigar there that hadn’t been before. He lit it and puffed smoke in Hexerei’s face. He then turned and walked out.
"Where are you going?" the Blood Vipers Librarian asked to his back.
"I got work to do," Hunter said as he walked away.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:15
Of all the days, how could it be today. Ironic that, he had to come in for questioning the day he was to interregate the heretic. It had taken too long to find him. Looking through secret cults, chasing shadows in the underhive. All for nothing. The order came from the planetary governor himself and, seeing he had more than just the arbites behind him, the inquisitor had no choice but to back down and submit himself to their authority.

By the Emperor, they were making it hard for him. How could they undermine him? Hindering him in his work of protecting them. They had no right to, he assured himself. They can wait a day. They HAVE to wait one day.

The empty room shook with the impact of a ragged figure's body into a sturdy and ancient corner of the rockrete wall. A burly man wrapped in a thick leather coat and bearing the mark of the Inquisition had thrown him in there, and was soon to follow. "Get up!" he shouted as he also entered the room. Dust from centuries past was rocked from its resting place and fell over the man-handled heretic. The man made no indication of movement. "I said, GET UP!". The inquisitor was shaking with anger. He would be in a lot of trouble if he failed to find out the heretics secret.

"Do you know why I have brought you here?" The inquisitor stressed each word, but put a slight emphasis on you.

"Because I know", the heretic said. His voice was ice, and mocked the inquisitor with every syllable.

"And what is it you know, that I dont already know?"

"I know the truth"
Such a clishé though the inquisitor. They all think they know the truth.

"Do you want to tell me the Truth?", asked the inquisitor.

"You could not bear to hear it. It is about the Emperor."

"For a heretic to speak His name to an Inquisitor of the Ordos Hereticus is to welcome an execution!"

He reached for his holster,

"By the authority of the Holy Adepts of Terra and the Inquisition of the Immortal Emperor of..."

"Hereticus Preservitae, Inquisitor Lexington", said the heretic, interrupting the Inquisitor's sentence. Lexington halted his words and his hand remained poised over his holster. For a brief moment,Inquisitor Lexington experienced surprise for the first time in many long years.

"How do you know of Ordos Hereticus methods and of my name? Neither parcel
of knowledge was granted to you!"

"I know many things, Inquisitor".

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:21
Kasumi, Mikarovic's sole Acolyte, never really agreed with anything he did in one degree or another. Problems to her were always things to be plainly dealt with; no blind-siding, no distractions, just simple nullification of an equation. So it surprised even herself that she wasn't quite angry with the Inquisitor Lord's latest spectacle. Stringing up a non-violent man in front of hundreds of thousands of his people was a perfect answer to Mikarovic's intent. He didn't want to intimidate the concordat as a whole, that would come later, instead he just wanted to hint that their insolence was noted. The parading of Dalthor's Champion was not punishment, but a mere tease, stating that Mikarovic didn't care much for it. Both she and doubtless Angrabode understood all the messages of his one show. Normally both would be angry, but even this naive girl saw no reason in the Concordat.

Of course she still lamented the loss of human life as she strode through the intricate halls of Mikarovic's flagship, even if the same human precipitated it. It wasn't so much the suffering of the crucified politician that gave her woe but his actions that made his death deserved. Though cruel, the Imperium was the only answer to mankind's survival, Kasumi knew that. She pitied those who didn't.

Soon she came across her master's personal physician who paced the other way. She was a light-skinned woman in her twenties with short, dull blue hair down to her neck. She wore a pale Hospitalier uniform, including the cute little hat. She smiled modestly to Kasumi a she neared, but didn't make eye contact.

"How fares the Lady Blyss Nilaryin?" The acolyte quizzed, to which the hospitalier stopped and solemnly bowed her head, unable to aim her wide, sparkling eyes into those so alike of Kasumi’s. They were both of the same complexion originally labeled mutation, but even the Ecclesiarchy wasn't so fussed over slightly wider eyes and sharper features.

"I suppose the Inquisitor Lord is in such tip-top condition that a marine would envy him." Kasumi asked in slight sarcasm, for some reason always peeved with Mikarovic's physique, which most aspire to. Perhaps it was all those posing playboys who got on her nerves as a younger child, who thought they were a gift to her kind. Admittedly Mikarovic never really showed off his statuesque being. His greatcoat left a lot to the imagination.

"Oh yes." Snapped Blyss in a soft, feeble tone, as if vexed that to insinuate otherwise was a sin. Kasumi was one of the few close enough to the Inquisitor Lord to see how the Hospitalier treated him, and it was as if she was a thirteen year old with a juvenile crush. Nine out of ten times she ever spoke it was to him, and around him she was so different, so much more active and open, usually with comedic and embarrassing results. Elsewhere, and to all others she had ever met from birth, Blyss was introverted, shy, and had trouble communicating. It meant she studied a lot as a child. Meeting Mikarovic was the very first time she felt friendly with another, evidently a little too much.

"I suppose you've things to attend to." The acolyte conceded and the Blyss hurried off to her quarters, without a farewell. Kasumi shook her head and continued.

*****

Mikarovic was found standing on the bridge of his ship, listening to some music blaring across the massive room. He was mouthing the words, even playing his Force Spear as an imaginary instrument. Kasumi recognised the grungy music as from a band called 'Queens of the Dark Age of Technology', or some such silly title, as the members were apparently all male. Such a backward way of making music, with a band, one person to an instrument, struck her as rather lame. The electronic style was much more to her taste, but of course, as with all generation gaps, these two didn't see equally.

"Where do we go now?" Kasumi called out, barely audible above the harsh sounds of whom Mikarovic hailed as the saviours of something called 'Rock and Roll', a thing she'd never heard of, which greatly stunned the Inquisitor Lord. Indeed, no one had used the term for thousands of years, so little wonder no one had a clue what he was on about. Mikarovic didn't answer; he just kept playing, breaking down into an instrumental solo. Kasumi approached closer.

"You have plenty of time for that later." Sternly said the acolyte as she came to a stop, putting her fists to her hips. The music stopped, and Mikarovic returned to an upright position.

"Oh very well... Meanie." Teased the Inquisitor, for he acted as if to mock Kasumi's more sulky moods. "To tend to you're question I feel it's the best time to take our talents to the tremendous turmoil that treats Branica truly terribly."

"Try saying that ten times fast." Kasumi said lowly beneath her breath, her voice still managing to sound angelic and sweet.

"... Why would I want to do that?" Queried Mikarovic, clearly confused.

"It's a tongue-twi-... Never mind." The acolyte gave up explaining. There was little point.

"Very well then." Quickly said the Inquisitor Lord, “I feel a great surge within for this conflict;” He stretched his arms wide as if coursing with energy, “Like this fight is worthy of me. It is a culminating engagement, the summit of so much anguish and death that we can show more of our talent.”

“I look forward to it.” The acolyte said with a faint smirk of glee.

“As do I.” Returned her master, turning and walking off the bridge, "I'll see you there. Rest well, dear child, you'll soon stare many Daemons in the eye."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:22
Staring through the window of her car, her arms resting on the sill, the Crusade's Saint, lost in thought, was silent. Her Celestians had long since left her alone, and some of those stars above had gone. Always so proud and stoic, always standing tall, she allowed her self one lapse in posture, and lay her head upon her arms and pondered more upon the visions that haunted her now awake. It took many more moments to feel another presence with her, one that made her smile. But still she didn't raise her head. She gave soft sigh of comfort, as if relieved.

"How long have you stood there?" Ekaterina asked, not moving.

"Long enough to feel the pang of your fear." Said Mikarovic's voice from somewhere in the room. Any feeling of offence from such intrusion didn't register within the saint, for she felt well that it was Mikarovic who understood her feeling. She raised her head and turned to face the Inquisitor, with still her smile glowing, but it was weighed down with doubt and fear. Mikarovic stood straight as could be, holding a spear upright in one hand, with the other hand behind his back, seemingly his trademark pose.

"I had sleeping visions of torture and terror." The saint flatly spoke her problem, not clouding it with details.

"Most things you endure are torturous," Mikarovic responded straightly, "and most things you see strike terror."

Ekaterina's smile grew slightly, and she gave a slow nod, conceding that Mikarovic made perfect sense, but there was still much more to it than that.
"What I saw seemed so real, and so sure of one day coming to pass." She said with a worrisome face appearing, slowly walking to the Inquisitor across the room. "The box Zymran held aloft, the pain that crippled me, the words he spoke so hatefully. I did not just hear and see these, I felt them all. I fear such things I can never escape."

The Inquisitor gave a disappointed shake of his head.
“Don’t start talking like those blasted Eldar." He pleaded before looking to the floor. “I couldn’t bear to hear you speak so dire.”

“You think this is of no consequence?” Aptly surmised the Saint, “That it is only a dream and none else? My past dreams have come true, and so too have many of the Eldar Seers.”

Mikarovic looked up to see the saint a few paces before him.
“What I think is that no matter what may come, it never must. What good one foresees must still be moved toward, and so that seen which is bad can still be moved away from. A belief in destiny is a narrow mind impotent to act out. I am sure your mind is neither narrow nor impotent, if I may be forgiven for assuming.”

"Nothing you've done exists for me to forgive." Assured Ekaterina warmly.

"I sincerely doubt that." Mikarovic said with the tiniest of smiles. The pair shared their pleasant stare for a brief moment before Mikarovic turned to the view Ekaterina enjoyed minutes before from the window. Amid the deceptively starry sky, he could still see one true star; his own, the one his home revolved around to this day. Even here, the opposite side of Terra he could see it, past the gloom of orbital skirmishes, and through the thousands of light years that separated them. Reminded of his place of birth he took off the glove that enveloped his left hand, and gazed at the hundreds of cuts that ran across the palm. So many scars there were it looked like a hazy crisscross of hundreds of needles. “Where I come from, any male old enough to regret something will have the scars of their shame upon their left palm; one sin, one incision. As is plain to see, I’m not proud of my every deed.”

“Perhaps you are harsher than I.” Ekaterina compromised. “You told me on Camulod that you expect too much of others. Perhaps you expect even more of yourself.”

“I’ve come to give you counsel, young lady.” Mikarovic told, turning back to the Saint. “ I’m sure you can return the gesture another time.” He suggested with a flat smile, to which the Saint politely curtsied in accordance. "This means nothing.” The Inquisitor continued. “Whether inspired by a malevolent force or by your own - doubtless creative - mind, it is but a single chance from infinite possibilities. Even the fabled Farseers are many times proven wrong, which is most definitely a good thing. Life would be as if death were the end already known."

"Quite so." Confirmed the Saint, musing at the philosophy, but quickly returning to the point. Introspection on the meaning of life can be dwelled upon later. "Perhaps I should heed this warning and brace myself accordingly."

"Undoubtedly." Said the Inquisitor, "Your life is much more important a target than the memory of Pius, I would not be surprised if the forces against us assert more effort toward it."

"This is another thing which worries me.” Ekaterina lamented, for once taking her eyes from the Inquisitor and looking away as if in shame. “I cannot ask our armies to help me this one time, although they have all sworn to do so. So few can help me in such a situation that may arise, and I may not be able to ask even them, it is just the sorry way of how it may be. I fear a lone confrontation with more power than I can withstand.”

“You needn’t fear such things.” Mikarovic assured. Ekaterina looked back to the Inquisitor to find him closer, only two steps away. “Those who would stand with you now would do so unto the end. And I, now and always, give you my spear, and all power I might have.”

“For that I am truly happy.” Ekaterina smiled in gratitude. “I am to call you name twice if I need you, yes?” She queried, entertained by the novelty of such a calling, but in answer, Mikarovic shook his head slowly.

“All others must call twice to have my company. You need only call once.”

"I will remember that." The saint said with look of utter content. "Now come, teach me things I do not yet know. Tell me of adventures grand and take breakfast with me." Ekaterina offered. "You may sleep no more, but I hear you still eat."

"You hear well." Said Mikarovic.

It was well that Ekaterina was kept from sleep by her nightmare. She had welcome company in the form of more wisdom than most.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:22
Hunter took control of his body. He ordered the white and red blood cells to attack the invading virus and soon great phalanxes of his imune system responded to his order. He had a certain plan on how to deal with the virus and knew now what to do.

Doc Evans and Gorgidas raced to the observation room when they recieved word that Hunters temperature had spiked again and that he was begining to bleed out. Quickly they ordered the medicae servitors to begin with imediate transfusions of fresh blood and administer fever reducing drugs. "I think that you should leave now and wait in the waiting room," Evans said to the friends and family that were watching Hunter fight for his life.

"I will go nowhere!" Sarah said as she gripped the rail in front of her until her knuckles turned white. Lorilei and Morganna bothe moved to her side and joined her.

"Please you shouldnt see this," Gorgidas moved up to support Evans. "If this is the end then it will be a horrible and painful death. Its somthing that ya'll shouldnt witness."

Jacka put a hand on Sarahs shoulder. "Dear he is right. None of us want to remember Hunter like this."

Sarah nodded and with one last look back she left. "I think perhaps we should go to the chapel and say a prayer to the Emperor and Saint Pius."

"I will say one to Russ as well," Hef said solomly.

Hunter took the fresh blood and used it as reinforcements. Harder and harder he pushed the virus. He attacked relentlessly and over the course of the next ten hours he routed the virus as surely as though it was an enemy on the field. Soon the last of it was in his stomach, right where he wanted it. Hunter suddenly sat up and lurched to the side of the bed and vomited blood, bile, and pus all over the floor. He retched for nearly a minute before he sank back into the bed, sweat staining his bedclothes and sheet, where blood hadnt soaked them.

Evans looked at monitors and noticed that Hunters vitals signs were returning to normal. He looked at Gorgidas who was staring open mouthed at him. "By the golden throne what just happened?" the curly haired Carolonian asked Evans.

"I'm not sure but I think Hunter just healed himself," Evans said quietly. He then sent a message and soon the servitors were sanitising the room and cleaning the filth from Hunter while others began taking blood and tissue samples. Nearly an hour later the tests confirmed that Hunter had no trace of the virus in his body. Gorgidas then ordered him moved to a clean room.

Sarah was on her knees in front of a statue of the Emperor. Jacka finished his prayer infront of one of Sainbt Pius and quietly left Conner who had joined them and had brought Garris and Connor ,Hunters two sons attached to the Orphan Brigade, to join his wife. His knees popped as he knelt and he was about to begin a litany of intercession when the doors opened.

All but Sarah turned to see Doc Evans walk in, Jacka put a hand on Sarahs shoulder for support and she too looked at the Doctor. All was silent as if frozen in stasis until Evans smiled. "He made it," was all he was able to say before he was tackled by Lori and Morganna as they hugged and kissed him on the cheeks for being the bearer of good news.

Sarah stood and took Jackas hand in hers. She was older and more reserved, but Jacka was greatfull that she held his bionic enhanced hand, otherwise he swore she would have broken his normal one. Soon they all trooped to Hunter new room to find him just coming to.

The first thing Hunter did was rub his jaw and look around. "Anyone get the license plate on that mule?" he asked his voice rough.

"Welcome back," Jacka said with a huge grin.

"Aint ya got a Brigade to be runnin'?" Hunter joked.

"I left Jenks in charge," Jacka joked.

Hunter closed his eyes and shook his head. "I think I was better off not hearin' that. So whats the pool up to with Podge?" Hunter asked knowing the Crusades gambling addict surley had some side bets or at least an over/under scheme going.

"Believe it or not he dont have one," Varro said with a laugh.

"Two miricles in one day," Evans said with some mirth," I dont know if I can handle this."

Hunter laughed and then looked to Lil John, "would ya mind gettin' me somthin' to drink. My mouth tastes like its been used for a ratlin' foot tub." Little John was off to get the Warmaster his tea and Hunter struggled to sit up in bed. "Can I have a ceegar?"

Lorilei produced the cigar and Morganna lit it. Hunters eyes bugged out at the two of them cooperating, but took the cigar and puffed it to life. "Bugger me runnin' three miracles," Hunter said under his breath.

For the next half hour Jacka, Bart, and Varro filled him in of the latest news and were about to toast his recovery when Doc Evans and Gorgidas came in and sooed them all out. "He needs his rest! All of you ou!" Evans said in a voice that brooked no argument.

"Rest?" Jacka questioned lightly. "All he has done the past few days is lay flat of his back!"

"Jacka," Hunter called his friend to his side. "Bugger off." he said with a grin.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:23
Brok strode silently passed the Branican citizens, oblivious to his status or purpose. His greatcoat did not attract much attention in an area such as this, and the Inquisitorial seal was covered by the buttoned front. "Those Grey Knights best not take very long, they are sorely needed," he thought. He walked on, past bars, houses of ill repute, and other places of debaucery. Ever planet, every city had an area like this, crumbling buidlings and prostitutes selling themselves to any man who passed them by for a few measely credits. As one approached Brok, swelling her breast ands howing off, he gave her a sneer that would have scared Khorne himself.

"Its time to find some information. I am damn tired of these games being played around me, being lured into a trap. It is no coincidence that Vexdreq the Brutal appeared to me. I am being hunted, but the predator will become prey."

He opened the door to Sadie's, a place the planets Enforcer units suspected of housing cult activity. As it was sponsored by a rich planetary advisor, they had refrained from acting until more evidence presented itself, as theirs was, at best, thin.

A bartender approached him, with blonde hair, and sparkling blue eyes. Her beauty did not belong in such a place as this. "I'm looking for someone, Peter Vaughn."

"Right over there, sugar." she tossed her head in the direction of a man, sitting in a booth, surrounded by a possey of men. They all sat together, with prostitutes from the street sitting at the same table.

Peter Vaughn, an aide and personal friend of the aforementioned planetary advisor, was a large, oily, black haired man. He had a large nose, which protruded like a beak past his face. Brok kept walking towards his booth in the far corner of the room, and began unbuttoning his black greatcoat. When he was in range, Brok pulled out his compact black bolt pistol from the leather holster on his side, and shot him in the head. The girls screamed, and the men yelled in fear. The Inquisitor turned and strode towards the front door.

Brok hoped this would cause all of his enemies to emerge, as one, to consume him, but he would be ready.

"Fifteen seconds until they get mad and come after me."

As soon as Brok had passed through the threshold of the door, Peter's possey, along with several guards and private soldiers rushed after him. They were greated by Brok, hefting a man portable heavy bolter. Then he unleashed hell on them. Pieces of flesh rained down on the building, as chunks of concrete were blown out of the walls. Appendeges were strewn across the rubble. Brok wasn't expecting a smart merc.

Three stub bullets hit him in the side, the armor took first round, but the second hit him in the chest and slightly penetrated his armor and the third took a hunk of flesh out from him, just above the hip. He fell on the ground, thrown off balance by the impact.

Brok looked up, and who he saw shocked him. That corruption could run that deep on this planet truly shocked him. The man who he saw was none other than the the previously mentioned planetary advisor, Devan Kraig, smiled at him. Brok had gone looking for answers, and Devan had used his own friend as bait. Blood trickled from Brok's slightly opened mouth, as he leaned against the fallen Heavy Bolter. Devan approached him.

" You've been getting too close, my man, too close to the truth of the inevitable."

Brok interrupted, "If it is inevitable, why try to stop me."

Angered, Devan shot Brok again, in the left arm. "As I was saying, I dont want you fething up my plans. I've been promised power greater than imaginable, such power no servant of a fake god, who has never done anything for me, and I will receive it."

As Brok heard this, he learned a great deal. He needed Devan, alive.

As Devan walked towards Brok, laying on the ground, he raised the pistol for the kill. Unfortunately for Devan, Brok had Devan right were he needed him, and the spring loaded knife in his boot would be of great used. It sprung up, and then kicked him in the crotch. Devan screamed, and fell to the earth, writhing in pain.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:24
Kolimar was now a battleground. The Black Templars had secured several key locations but had been denied access to the factory district by a large group of Janissaries dug up in a warehouse they had turned into a bunker and who had been reinforced by a squad of Chaos Marines.
Most of the city proper was still in Imperial hands however. The number of Chaos soldiers present was simply not enough to wrestle control away from a motivated Branican PDF especially after the arrival of Space Marines reinforcements.
Undral watched the tactical display in the command room for the defence of Kolimar. Even if Imperial forces were holding their positions and even in places pushing back the enemy, the situation was growing desperate. General Weynach had ordered a strategic withdrawal to the Kraenor line where the PDF could throw up stronger defensive positions and wait for the arrival of the Guard. But that left the city completely in the open, the PDF flanking position were now retreating in an orderly fashion toward the hills but that the forces still in Kolimar open to an attack on three flanks.
'We need to strike and to strike hard,' declared general Dunariez, commander of the PDF in Kolimar, 'we're not here to hold the city but to blow up the factories and get out.'
Undral did not like giving up ground to the Archenemy under any condition but agreed that the alluvial plains of the Dortah were certainly not the best place to throw up an effective defense line.
'I will lead the assault with all my detachment, said the Marine. 'Have all your mobile forces ready to move within two hours. I shall drive a wedge into the factory district and get their attention, blow up the main factories and give you time to retreat.'
The general nodded. He had come to a similar conclusion. They had to act before the enemy could bring more armour and troops to bear.

In the mean time, encased in his Terminator armour, Arkyl strode through the streets of Kolimar unchallenged. Las shot bounced off his thick adamantium hide and he ripped enemies apart with bolts and lightning claw.
'The enemy is on the move,' said Nazriel, his Sorcerer and one of Marduk's coven.
'They will head for the factory district. Bring up all reserves and divert another squad of Marines to strengthen their position. Send Kharanos, he will take charge. And give them a Defiler too.'
'And what of the rest?'
'We'll continue as planned, I have a nasty surprise in store for those Imperial weaklings.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:24
"Here you are sir, the total results of our practice excersise" The adjutant had declared, handing the report to Major George Daws.
Daws removed a cigar from his lips, tapped the ashes into a nearby tray, and stood up from his desk. He extended his arm and took the report from the adjutant.
"Thank you Lieutenant, carry on"
"Aye sir" the adjutant responded, and executed a sharp about-face and left the room.

Daws groomed the report, muttering his thoughts aloud occasionally. He carefully read each page, examining what went right and what went wrong, and how to properly reward or punish each deed. He looked the report over for a few hours, and was still searching for areas that could use improvement. In the Forseti military, no detail is too small to be overlooked.

General Gavin Varn had entered the doorway, and Daws immeadiately stood upright and offered a salute. "Morning Sir, come in."

"As you were Major." Daws sat "I trust you have read the after-action reports on our practice excersise?"

"Yes sir, I have. Most of the concerns I have I will solve by myself, but the coordination between our forces and that of the Thunderbolt multipurpose fighters was, bothersome, to say the least. I would definetly want this issue to be attended to, because if we have not air power to neutralize anti tank weaponry prior to a mechanized assault, it wuld require a massive change in tactics. I would just enjoy to have a definitive word whether the air support will be timely or not, for strategic reasons."

"Son, I think you'll have to bring that up with General Kittle. He is more familiar with the flyboys than I am, so if anyone knows how to fix that, it'll be him"
varn stretched his arm and yawned, and drew his hand across his face. He had had a long couple of months, since he had to restructure the entire Forseti First Armoured Regiment, as well as sort out the recent arrivals of the Forseti 12th, Forseti 45th, Forseti 99th, and Forseti 101st mechanized regiments, as well as the additional arrivals of the 92nd Helghan Shock Troopers and the 56th and 73rd Lustitanian Light Infantry. He had far too much work and not enough recaf to go around. The General was sorely in need of rest and it showed. Again he yawned.

"Any other concerns, Major?"

Daws looked up from the myriad paperwork on his desk spoke "Well, yes sir. I've seen our men equipped with older edition Cadian armor and lasguns. Is there a reason for it sir?"

"Well, actually, yes, there is. Our soldiers were voicing complaints about the overall bulkiness of the tri-dome cadian helmets, so we switched to the older variants, which admittedly, look a little more aesthetically appealing. Additionally, the older Cadian flak jackets covered more of the chest. If you look at the modern Cadian flak plates, they cover only the upper chest and shoulders, whereas the older flak jackets cover the stomach, chest, and shoulders. Additionally, the armor has been reinforced with small amounts armaplas underplate. Its not quite carapace armor, buts its very light weight and affords protection somewhere between flak and carapace plating. As for lasguns, the 30-shot intermediate pattern lasgun has a more powerful scope, allowing for focusing from 2 times magnification to 4 times magnification, as opposed to the short-pattern lasgun's focusing power of 2 times. To boot, the older intermediate-pattern is easier to convert into the hot shot configuration. While the Adeptus Mechanicus frowns on such actions, I can tell you, a hot lasgun saved my life more times in the trenches than I care to remember. Personally, I'm proud the logistics boys brought the issue up to me. All other weaponry in our inventory, especially heavy and special weaponry, is current issue. Is that all Major?"

Major daws stood up from his chair and filed away the clutter on his desk. "Aye sir, I'd say so. I'm off to General Kittle's HQ, care to join me General?"

"Sorry son, the barracks beckons. I am in dire need of rest, and I plan to catch in now." They saluted each other, and General Varn had left the room.

Major Daws was preparing himself to visit General Kittle. He had his identification keycard in his rear pocket, his hellpistol neatly contained in his holster, and his adjutant held a briefcase which contained the reports of the practice exercise.

Daws and his orderly had exited his quarters and entered the waiting 4x4 jeep.

It was a quick fifteen minute drive from his quarters to General Kittle's Command HQ. Major Daws had shown his identification card to the front Guards and used it to open a myriad number of side-opening gear-like doors on his way to Kittle's quarters.

Daws walked down a long allway which ended with a wooden door to Kittle's room. The hallway was arrayed with statues of saints and murals dedicated to the Imperial Guard. Daws took a short amount of time to view the magnificient artwork. Paintings of Imperial Guardsmen driving back heretics with bayonets, tanks being lead by a halberd wielding Emperor, an Thunderbolt fighters being guided by saints to bomb the demons of the warp. truly beautiful works, tributes to the glory, honor, fanaticism, and dedication of the Emperor's servants. At the end of the hallway, flanking the wooden door on both sides, stood two massive plaques, with the names of Carolonian war heroes inscribed upon it. The list was endless, and the word "posthumously awarded" stood next to many a name. Brave souls, honorable souls, thought Daws.

Daws stood at parade rest and his aide mimicked him. He knocked on the door and waited a response. A "Come on in" greeted him.
He opened the door and saw Kittle conversing with a small group, about 7 to 10 figures, most likely Carolonian officers.
Kittle walked over and extended his arm to offer a handshake. Daws obliged, and gripped Kittle's hand.

Daws noticed, curiously, that Kittle was biting his lip as if in pain, and his eyebrows were slightly contorted.
Kittle spoke "Can ya' let up there, pal?"
Immeadiatel Daws realized his mistake. He was still not accustomed to the cybernetic steel arm he recieved after the Egean campaign.He had gripped Kittle's hand too tightly and nearly broke bones.
"I'm sorry, sir. My sincerest apologies. its just that I haven't..."
Kittle raised his hand as if o object "Its okay, Major. What are ya' here fer?"
"Well, I was looking at the after action reports on our practice execise, and, on the whole, I was very impressed. My men took a great liking to your boys, especially your rough riders. They were most impressive. However, I brought this up with General Varn and he told me to come to you, and the issue is air support. Coordination between our forces and air forces, particularly thunderbolt fighters and to a lesser extent Maruader bombers, was embarassingly deficient. Air support is an absolute maxim in the Forseti school of armoured warfare, and if this issue could be properly assessed, that would be excellent."

Kittle's response was immeadiate "Alright then Major, I'll get right on that. I myself wasn't to pleased myself with the way them flyboys were handlin' themselves out there, and I'll make a sure we can get the flyboys where they are needed, when they are needed."

"Thank you General. I must be leaving now, I having other matters to attend to."

"Same here, Major. See ya later."

Little did either of them know how essentially important renovating the air force would be.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:25
Brusilov awoke with a jump when the train pulled slowly and gently into one of the massive stations of the first tier of Shanalorn. Through the gigantic glass ceiling supported by massive steel archs, the Commissar could see it was still dark.
He looked at his silver pocket watch and noted that it was only 5am. In front of him, reports and notes were laid out. He had fallen asleep while working, but the gentle rocking of trains was something he was not used to, nor the luxury he was living in now. This chair was much too comfortable to work in, it made the mind and body less sharp.
Someone knocked gently on his door.
'Come in,' Brusilov said while gathering his documents.
Johann marched in with a smoking mug of Tsarytsinian green tea. Now that two divisions of soldiers from his home world, the Commissar was no longer short on little things that reminded him of home: kvas, green tea and even a new samovar to replace the one he lost on Camulod.
While Brusilov tasted his drink with delight, his Aide announced the program for the day.
'You will be taken to the Palace of Illumination, by the High Cathedral of the Ascension, to meet with Cardinal Astra du Plessy, who insisted on meeting with a senior member of the Crusade. This should last about one hour. Then you'll have a meeting with the officers corps responsible for the defense of Shanalorn, they want your assessment on the state of the city's defense, just in case. Then we'll return to the train and make for Cormandel where you'll meet general Weynach. That will be all they have planned for us for the day.'
'They're keeping me busy I see. No matter, take me to see the Cardinal Astra. I'd like to get the niceties done with as soon as possible.'
'The only trouble is that the train carrying the Saint has been delayed. The Branicans guarantee it's nothing serious, the two convoys took different routes and hers was slowed down by heavy snowfall. It should be here momentarily.'
Brusilov had a bad feeling, but kept it to himself. When it came to the Saint, from the moment he had landed on this world he feared he would lose her and shame his family's name for a second time.

'So Admiral? When can we expect some serious air support from the Imperials?'
'As soon as we are able to accomodate 12 squadrons of Thunderbolts, 8 of Lightnings and 8 of Marauders, including three of Marauders Destroyers sir. That's an incredible amount of airpower and we don't have the facilities on hand.'
'You're saying we cannot find strips for them all?'
'No sir, remember our own planes are based mostly on airships for added mobility. We have only limited permanent landing strips but the Munitorum, the Navy and our own Engineer Corps are working something out as we speak.'
'How much can we hope to have operational? And when?'
'The Navy officer from Marshal Guderian's I spoke to said 18 hours for permanent bases on the ground. Several squadrons are already flying missions from ships in orbit but that severely reduce their autonomy.'
'What is their assessment of the situation?'
'They're still reviewing our own reports and trying to determine the enemy's strength. They're a little surprised. They did not expect Zymran to have that many aircrafts it would seem. At least he never had that many deployed.'
'So they're on a strictly defensive stance for?'
'Yes sir, they're flying recons and limited air superiority missions, mostly with Lightnings. However they're giving a high priority to deploy Thunderbolts first to give our troops some breathing space.'
Weynach nodded. His troops were hammered all the way to the Kreanor line, harassed by skirmishers and other irregulars placed ahead of his retreat line and slowing his units down or throwing them into disarray. But the real situation was Kolimar. There he dreaded that over half-a-million civilians and 10,000 of his men would be trapped by the obvious pincer movement of the Archenemy's troops.

Lieutenant Jurinio was inspecting the defensive positions at the Kolimar train station for the fifth time since dawn. He was a little nervous, even with a full squad of massive Astartes warriors to support them.
The mere presence of half-a-dozen Black Templars had been enough to raise the spirits of his comrades. The giants clad in dark power armour were sights to behold and examples to follow for many of the Branicans, none of which had ever seen a Space Marine before.
Nonetheless Lieutenant Jurinio was ill at ease. There was something nagging at the back of his mind as he watched the soldiers manning the line. There was some foul odour in the air.
'They're coming,' simply said Initiate Istvan.
The Space Marines nodded and without a word, swiftly and efficiently they took position behind the sangbags.
A few seconds later, realising what the leader had meant, Jurinio yelled.
'Man the defenses! All hands to the wall! The Archenemy is coming!'
And indeed they were coming, hundreds upon hundreds of half-crazed fanatics, lunatics from whom hanged the thorn and tattered remnants of the work clothes of Kolimar's most unfortunate citizens, all adorned with the runes of Chaos.
This mob of brainwashed madmen, some of whic the soldiers had known from their time as a garrison from the city were marching towards them with murder in their eyes.
And from a distance Jurinio could swear he had seen a tall and massive silhouette. But there was not time for this as the mob of cultists broke into a run and charged, still singing hymnals in the glory of Chaos

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:26
Silence consumed Saint Ekaterina's train car for the moments preceding its arrival. Stories and lessons had alternated between she and her uninvited, but oddly welcome, guest, but both decided to not let their words be interupted by the transport's stop. It was just a principle of some sort.

They both stood as one, for although Mikarovic would not leave with her, it was expected to stand when a lady does, no matter her importance. Even for all his apathy, the Inquisitor Lord still cared for manners. But still the Saint offered to exit together. She moved over to the car door, dressed in her ornate armour and in all ways ready for battle.

"Let us go and meet with those in need." Heralded Ekaterina, to which the Inquisitor gave a slow, sad shake of his head.

"They will not want to see you with the likes of I." He reasoned, quite truely, "I am a wretched old spook with more secrets than even our Lord Emperor. You are all things pure and beautiful. Go to them as such, not defiled by my black company."

The saint looked at Mikarovic with a disappointed frown, and was a half-second from speaking to dispel his words, but was just beaten.
"Please." He beseeched, raising his free arm, and soon looking back to Ekaterina, "Pain me not with your kindness. So many are worthy of it more than I, and their heart would not bleed to hear it."

With a sigh Ekaterina conceded her inability to help such a man that it appeared only she could. It was obvious that she was a rare individual in that Mikarovic treated her as a superior. That such a man had so high expectations of her could be either frightening or reassuring, as to how one looked upon it. But still a Saint did not dive into fear and doubt; she chose the latter alternative. With a faint smile she finally said:
"Farewell Lord Mikarovic."

"Until next we meet." Returned the Inquisitor.

The next time Ekaterina blinked, Mikarovic was gone.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:27
The castle rose as if to reach the sky. Built on top of a mountain, its titanic towers seemed to stretch out to touch the cloudless sky above.
Or rather clawing at the sky, commented Inquisitor Drakkenhorst to himself as he approached the palace.
There was something odd with its walls however and slowly the sickening and horrible truth downed upon the Inquisitor. The very walls of the castle were made of souls, of countless souls piled upon each other like stones. Faces appeared here and there, twisted beyond recognition and moaning and whailing in a low voice, begging for release, for an end to their torment.
To the right, an army of chained thralls laboured to build an whole new wing to the castle, probably for the perverse pleasure of the master of the place, who had little interest in more room or could conjure it from thin air as this was his domain.
The back-breaking labour, the tortured soul, the whipping of the slaves only served as a twisted distraction to a bored lord of Chaos.

Lost in the contemplation of the pharaonic work, the Inquisitor did not see the deformed dwarf with only one eye limp toward them.
His voice croaked:
'What are you doing here? Who are you?' He asked with a curious eye.
There was no malice and little weariness in his tone, as if the dwarf was too simple minded to even think of someone invading the domain of his master.
'What does Arioch expect me to do with this low guality material?' he pointed to the souls and thralls carrying them, 'with that I'll never be finished on time. But you... you are prime quality souls, I can see that. So few of you know, so few, terrible material these days. Not like when the screaming souls of the forsaken Vardagh were turned into the first walls of this mighty place, no, no...'
Drakkenhorst decided to gamble his way in.
'We are not material for your great work, noble one. We are agents of the Duke Arioch. But your marvelous construction effort has lost us, please be so kind as to point us to his majesty's quarters.'
The dwarf was mighty pleased with such kind words, for he only received harsh treatments from Arioch and was looked down upon by all other servants.
'Pass under the Arch and you shall walk straight unto the master's audience chambers.'
The Inquisitor gave him a slow bow and moved along, getting away as fast as was not suspicious. They walked under the arch, into a courtyard guarded by giants made of burning stones, standing over 4 metres tall and with hands the size of the Inquisitor's chest.
Their blazing eyes followed the two visitors but they did not act, keeping their vigil.

Finally Malyssia and Drakkenhorst reached Arioch's audience chambers and a voice greeted them.
'I am pleased to see you have finally made it.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:28
The Branicans and the Black Templars allies progressed warily across the warehouses outlying the factory districts. Gaping windows hidden in shadows could hide dozens of enemies waiting in ambush.
The Hellhounded thundered forward, unleashing streams of burning promethium into the buildings around it. A Leman Russ Demolisher followed, its massive gun trained on buildings and ready to reduce them to a pile of rumble. Flanking them marched a full platoon of guardsmen, tasked with providing with close up cover, searching houses and throwing grenades into cellars. Behind rolled three Chimeras with troops hitching a ride on its roof. Then came the rest of the two companies worth of Branican PDF soldiers with more armour and a few hellhounds.
The Marines had one squad just behind the Demolisher, ready to spring forward to crush all opposition with bolt pistol and chainsword. A second squad equipped with jumped packs leap frogged from roof to roof, keeping an eye on all enemies. Finally a Tornado Landspeeder served as the force's reconnaissance unit.
Sword Brethren Mathael commanded the Templar detachment and he was getting the feeling they were walking straight into a trap. This should have been a job for Space Marines alone, a fast strike with Rhinos or Thunderhawks but Castellan Dorian would have none of it. He wanted his battle company ready and almost at full strength because they'd be the first to drop into the frey when Marshall Winrich ordered it.
Mathael understood the strategic thinking that went behind this decision, this is why they said he was officer material, but he did not like it.
Beside him, surrounded by four Servitors Techmarine Senioris Dulgar walked. He was the heart of this operation, he would double check the explosives and detonate them.
Branican command considered four factories were of strategic importance and destroying or crippling them would deny the industrial might of Kolimar to the Archenemy.
One was straight ahead. It was a truck factory, but had been converted in the previous weeks into a tank factory.

Narforias towered above the Janissaries and they were cowed in his presence. He was one of Arkyl's Chosen and although he loathed commanding a bunch of mere humans and not standing alongside his brothers, he reveled in the idea of slaughtering the servants of the Dark Gods.
He only had one squad of Word Bearers with him, which he divided to give it more striking power but his objective was not to kill the enemy but to deny their prize until Arkyl cut them off and the forces outside Kolimar surrounded the city.
The enemy was coming down the streets. It was progressing wearily, as if effrayed of its own shadow.
'Fire!' he voxed a lascannon team.
The high-powered energy beam hit the front the Demolisher because the team fired from the second floor of a building opposite it but the lascannon shot bounced off harmlessly. The tank trained its gun on the insects who had dared bite them and obliterated the facade of the building, annihilating the lascannon team. Before it could reload however, the Word Bearers answered with another lascannon shot, aimed at the weak point between the hull and turret. Honed by millennia of training and battle, the Chaos Marine hit spot on and sent the turret flying. The ammunition cooked and exploded, killing a dozen guardsmen with shards of super-heated metal.
The trap had been sprung.

Mathael heard the PDF Captain yell at his troops to take cover but the enemy had stopped shooting. The Sword Brethren assessed the situation in an instant. The wreckage of the Leman Russ hopelessly blocked the way. It would take at least one hour to haul it out of the way and the column would be vulnerable.
He called up a map of the district on his display. They would have to take a detour into the abandoned warehouses something the Marine knew smelled of more traps and ambushes but there was little choice. Otherwise they would have to double back and take another road, meaning losing precious time.
The Captain must have come to the same conclusion because he ordered his troops to spread to explore the warehouses to the left, slowly and carefully.
Mathael stepped in.
'Let us handle this,' he said. It was an order and the Captain acknowledge with a sigh of relied.
'Squad Gunter move in!'
'ACK Mathael!' came the booming voice of Gunter, 'We'll give the enemies of the Emperor a taste of the Templars' fury! For Dorn!'
'No pity! No remorse! No fear!' came the reply of more than a dozen Initiates and Novices.
Squad Sergeant Gunter should have been commanding an assault squad, thought Mathael to himself. Some brothers saw him as nothing more than a raving maniac with a huge sword and a love for explosives. But he was a good teacher too and he instilled the righteous fury into the Novices perfectly, although many of them went on to join close combat oriented unit. His love of all things that go boom would prove an excellent backup should Dulgar fall.
The Black Templars spread out through the first warehouses searching each in no more than a few instants. Mathael kept the Assault Marines in reserve, ready to support Gunter's squad.
Suddenly, Gunter's voice echoed through the vox.
'We have contacts, many contacts.' Even through the helmet, Mathael could hear the sound of bolt fire and the buzzing of chainsword hacking flesh.
'Identify them Gunter!'
'Cultists or somesuch, Sword Brethren!' there was a pause and the sound of a bolt pistol firing, 'there are many of them. I think they're trying to surround us!'
Mathael turned to the PDF Captain.
'Have your men ready! We're ambushed!'
As he spoke these words, a huge howl, screamed by thousands of voices echoed through the district and the former citizens of Branica brandishing blasted standards and brainwashed by the Demagogues marched upon the small column.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:28
Captain Dejanovic flicked his rght hand forwards to indicate Sergeant Yashanov's squad to take point. Heavy casualties these last few days had forced Dejanovic to adapt the holy Codex Astartes to further the company's survival.

He saw the slight glint of the scout squad's armour up ahead. Alas, these were scoutsthat had been singled out to be placed in the seventh company, and the lack of sniper rifles was a dear blow.

The Doom Eagles had landed some days ago, unseen and unnoticed amongst the mouintains distant to the north. Whereas the Black Templars were reported to be fighting on the same front as the Branican PDF, the Doom Eagles took it upon themselcves to test the rear echelons of the traitorous hordes.

Dejanovic led one of the Doom Eagles' sections, primarily made up of the company's forty-three tactical Marines and Sergeant Dunacek's Veteran squad. His Chaplain, Irago, was in charge of the less subtle force, usually held behind this unit due to its less subtle assault role.

One of the Scouts reported a contact.

"What have you got?" the captain asked over com-link.

"Hundreds of them, they appear to be attempting to outflank the Imperial force!" replied the young warrior.

Dejanovic opened the comm channel to all marines.

"Brothers, the Enemy is upon the forces of the Emperor. Let us drive them before us. All brethren are to engage at earliest opportunity. We may die, but we die for the Emperor!"

Dejanovic and his command squad stalked forwards, taking cover and watching the unholy masses seethe forwards.

"Ready your aim, brothers." he said, thumbing the activation rune on his mighty thunder hammer.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:29
All hell had broken loose in the small side alleys of Kolimar. Space Marines carved a bloody trail in the mass of fanaticised cultists but more kept coming. Nevertheles they made good progress.
'We're almost at the intersetion Mathael,' voxed Gunter as he hacked another cultist apart.
He wielded his sword two handed for it was gigantic, but in the small confines of the backstreets it could deny the whole alley to the enemy. He tore through limbs, chest, bellies and head alike, singing the litatines of hate as he did the Emperor's work.
Gunter might have been the Emperor's Champion for this Crusade, but Luther, the Master Chaplain, believe he did not have the discipline for it. His faith was fiery but somewhat unfocussed. Still he made a fearsome Marine, but one who had little of advancement beyond that of Sword Brethren. Nor did he care for he liked nothing more than slaying the Emperor's enemies.
His large squad, was sweeping building after building clean and holding streets until guardsmen took up supporting positions behind them and on the roofs. From time to time they were assisted by the assault Marines, who would swoop down for a quick kill and then head back for the roofs where they serve as a reserve.
To his right, Gunter heard a wall collapse and he smiled. The Guardsmen were carving their own way through using one of the Demolishers as a huge battering ram.

Norgarias watched with satisfaction the Imperials draw ever closer into his web. Like flies, the more they move the more entangled they became. It was so easy to lead them by the nose. It was obvious what their targets would be: the truck factory.
But he would deny them the ability to blow it up and would then surround them and wait for reinforcements to overwhelm them.
The plan was elegant in its sheer simplicity, but it relied one thing, one all important action. Darzok must accomplish his mission.

The Word Bearer knelt in the darkness of the room, his helmt by his side and his heavily modified boltgun in front of him. The muzzle was longer, several scopes bulged from its top.
Everything was eerie silent in the room, contrasting with the rumble of battle in the distance. Finally the Traitor Marine put on his helmet over his deathly pale face and with deep respect picked up his gun. He linked the scopes to special sockets in his helmet with practised ease and took aim.

'We've broken into the square,' although Mathael did not show it, relief washed over him. They were still going to make it. They had broken the cultists in front, smashed them under the heels of their boots and the tracks of their tanks.
The guardsmen were holding off the ones pressing at their back, for now at least.
The truck factory was straight in front of him, across the open space of the square. A killing field.
Obviously, Gunter volunteered to lead the way toward the factory, but Mathael decided they would all go in one wave to give the enemy too many targets and hopefully reduce casualties. Mathael thought to ask Dulgar to take cover into one of the three remaining Chimeras but knew the Techmarine would refuse. So his squad formed up around him to protect him as best as they could.
The enemy had not used snipers up to now but that did not mean they did not have any.

Darzok saw the Imperials run across the square, he could turn the place into a killing zone and kill dozens before they understood what was happening.
But his target was not the dozens of hapless guardsmen. He sought a very specific target and finally saw it. The techmarine was surrounded by a squad of Space Marines for protection.
A foolish gesture.
The Word Bearer took aim, caught his breath and fired.

Mathael heard the sickening sound of armour and bone cracking open and the wet sound of flesh and brain matter splattering all those around Techmarine Dulgar.
The Sword Brethren did not even have to look to see he was right. He wonder from where could the enemy have been firing, and then he saw the light reflecting off a piece of metal or a lens. The shooter was over a klick away and firing through smoke, from an angle he had not anticipated, for it was too high for the squat warehouses and factories surrounding them.
His mission had failed. Still he waved everyone in as the door to the factory were smashed open. Mathael look at the body of Techmarine Durgal, his head reduced to bloody pulp and his servivtors standing around him, deactivated.
He had two Marines carry the headless body into the factory. The mood was terrible. Word was spreading, their only hope of accomplishing the mission had been crushed.
Then he saw Gunter kneel beside the dead Techmarine to give him his respects. When he was finished, he took the explosives and showed them to Mathael with a big michiveous grin.
'I know how to use these,' he said, 'I'll make sure this place goes up in smoke.'
His smile made shiver run down Mathael's spin. Gunter loved explosives, but could he handle such a large quantity properly. It was the only option anyway.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:30
Malyssia drew her sword with quicksilver speed, moving in an instant into a defensive position and assessing all potential threat to her master. And there were many.
Beside the ominous presence of the Duke of Chaos himself on the dais on the opposite side of the throne room, there were two dozen guards watching them with murder in their eyes. In fact, it was difficult to tell if they had eyes for they wear clad from head to toe into massive gothic plate armour and wielded gigantic halberds. Their armour was adorned with skulls and sigils of Chaos.
There was also the court of Arioch, which the Death Cultist had no doubt could prove deadly as well. It was made of mutants of every shape and form, as well as quite a few without shape or form, all clad in the richest brocard clothes she had ever seen. It was more a gallery of monstrosities to be expose than a noble court, they all look liked buffons, and Malyssia guessed Arioch kept them because these pathetic creatures dressed as nobles.
What worried her more were the few more or less human figures she noted from place to place. There must not be more than half-a-dozen in the whole room. She gasped as she believed she recognised Eldar. They had the gaunt elfin face, the cat's grace and pointy ears of the Eldar, but that was impossible. No Eldar would serve the gods of Chaos.

'I see you have an interest in my court,' gloated Arioch, as he walked down from his throne, 'you have also noted my most prized possession.'
The Duke of Chaos walked over to one of the Eldar and stroke his face gently.
'These are not Eldar, Arioch, do not think to deceive us with such cheap tricks,' snapped Drakkenhorst, still standing his ground, sword in hand.
'But I never said they were. They are the most exquisite abominations this world has ever spawned, my dear Heinrich. Do you wish to tell me of them?'
The Inquisitor said nothing, his intense gaze still fixed on the Daemon Prince.
'Long ago, during a time you mortals call the Dark Age of Technology, the planet Vardhag was populated by people who greatly admired the Eldar. They traded with them a little but most importantly gathered all data they could acquire on this race. There were fancies like that all across the decadent realms of men.
But the Vardhags pushed it a step further. They wanted to be Eldar. So over the decades and centuries they modified their genetic structure to grow taller, gaunter, to quicken their reflexes and so on. All the energy of these people were bent on becoming Eldar themselves. A supreme irony, since the Fall of the Eldar was around the corner.
Cosmetic changes to make them look like Eldar were the easiest to achieve. But they managed to prolongate their life span, grow faster, increase their psychic potential.
And as time passed they also adopted the habits of their models, their society grew hedonistic and started to worship the true gods of Chaos.
When the Age of Strife struck, the Vardhags called upon Chaos to protect them, and this a call I could not left unanswered. I shielded them from the worst of the destruction of the downfall of Mankind and they offered sacrifice in my name.
But after a while, their hedonism meant they stopped worshipping even me. I taught them a lesson. I allowed the armies of the Great Crusade to come to their world. The Vardhags were abhorent to the soldiers of your Emperor and launched a genocidal campaign. In desperation, they called to me again to save them. And I did, but on my own terms.
The gigantic bloodbath allowed me to pull this world out of the material universe to an extent and make it into a daemonworld. With this accomplished, I could defeat soundly the forces of your Emperor with hordes of daemons and other beasts.
And I have ruled there ever since.'
'You mean, these Vardhags are...'
'Monsters no longer human but never Eldar,' Arioch smiled as he said so, stroking the cheek of the Vardhag, 'I love the irony of it. They are monsters to both races, hated hybrids who have nowhere but me to turn for protection.'
'And what of Elric Jhaelen Irsei?'
'He was their prince, their leader. He was tortured by the Imperials and vowed vengeance. He had lost his eye, his hand and his sanity. So I offered him a new purpose and the Hand of Eye of Kwll. I clad him in the best of armour and gave him the mightiest sword to slaughter the servants of the Emperor.
But he was never an obedient servant. He was rebellious and moody, sick of the slaughter I had him unleash in my name. But thanks to him my palace of souls grew taller and taller.
His failure against the Saint was his first in 10,000 years.'
'I don't think he will obey you any longer.'
'But he will, we made a pact. I shall break him and he will kill the Saint for me.'
'What do you want with Ekaterina?'
'That is not for me to say, Inquisitor. You're smart, figure it out yourself,' and the Duke of Chaos laughed.
'Arioch the Multi-faced, Duke of Chaos Undivided and Herald of the True Gods, I command you to release Elric Jhaelen Irsei into my care,' Drakkenhorst's voice carried authority and the power of the warp. It made the courtisans jumped and Arioch lose his smile.
'Who do you think you are to tell me what to do in my own palace? I shall break you like I broke him! In the end you shall beg to serve me!'
Arioch was fulminating with anger.
'Guards! Take them to the dungeons! I shall deal with them later.'
As they were taken away, Malyssia shot the Inquisitor a quesyioning glance, but he only smiled mysteriously.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:30
Hunter looked at all the faces that were looking back at him from around his round table of war that he had had built out of the rare and fine Carolonian Redwood. He had called the meeting together in order to get the momentum back to the Crusade. He had lain idle to long and now was the time of action. He also knew that his various commanders were itching to take the fight to the enemy.

"Ok folks this is what ya'll have been waitin' fer now," Hunter began. " The Crusade is goin' out to kick some ass and take initials, 'cause we aint slowin' down fer no names." This brought a chuckle from the room. Many had worried about the Warmaster since his illness and they saw that his body was still weak and that he tired much easier than previously. But this joke showed he was still the same crass and bold speaker.

"As I am sure ya'll have noticed the good Praefectus Woodrow Allenius has been makin' sure all yer troops are well supplied with food, ammo, and all the extras yer gonna need. " Hunter took the time to light one of his ever present cigars and puffed it alive before he signaled to Bart to begin handing out the dataslates with each commanders orders on them.

He started with Marshall Hoth , General Lee, and Chapter master Darius. " The 2nd Army of the Crusade will be headin' to this sector," and aide dimmed the lights and a holo-cut of the sector appeared above the table. "There are 25 worlds in this sector that have turned their back on Big E. He is pissed about it and so am I. Your mission gentlemen is to give these heretics their comeupance. I know it is a big mouthjfull to chew on, but you will recieve reinforcements as the Crusade as we can spare them."

"Do you have a plan of action or do we have tactical freedom?" Marshall Hoth asked.

"Completely so," Hunter nodded his aproval. Had Hoth not asked the question he would have sacked him and put Darius in command. Hunter liked his commanders to have initiative and free thoughts. It ran contrary to Imperial tradition, but Hunter had found it was more efficiant and led to more victories.

Hunter then turned to Chaplain Xavier and Chapter Master Cernuous of the Sons of Lion and Blood Vipers Adeptus Astartes. " Yer two Chapters are gonna be headin' to Brianca to reinforce Brucy there." The two Chapter leaders nodded their agreement.

"Where are you sending me, or dare I aske?" Chapter Master Starke of the Iron Avengers asked.

"Two of yer companies will be joinin' the I Corps here," Hunter pointed to an area adjacent to the Briancan sub. The chief planet there was an agriworld that had recently fallen to forces loyal to Zymran. The planets production was vital to the Briancan sub. General "Wild" Bill Kittle a d Master Starke nodded and began to make notes and confer with each other on possible plans.

"The rest of the Iron Avengers will be joinin' my Lifeguard and the Orphans to strike here," the holomap changed to another world in the Briancan sub that was known for its munitions and prometium production. While it was still under Imperial command it was suffering from more and more violent raids and predations. " We will better be able to support Brucy by securin' his flanks and raidin' Zymrans rear."

The officers all nodded to the Warmaster and began to file out to make plans for their own assignments.Hunter siged and sank back into the barrel back chair that he was sitting in. Everyone seemed to understand their orders, now he had to deal with Jagdus Dashor.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:32
Zymran lauged as his Crozius crushed the head of another Branican trooper. He was chanting litanies of hate and accursed devotion to the Dark Gods, striding across the fortress on the Kraenor line like an avatar of war and destruction, bullets bouncing off his intricate armour.
Men fled in terror before him, as he smashed them aside with great swipes of the weapon of his charge. He tore through flesh, hacking helpless soldiers apart, sending heads and limbs flying or turning them into bloody pulp.
The Dark Apostle reveled in the slaughter, his armour was soaked with the blood of the fallen, his white skull helmet was covered with gore and sinew hanged from the eight pointed star at the tip of the Crozius.

This was all part of the ritual. Zymran was paying hommage to each of the Gods in turn, pleasing them with his actions as he took the last steps toward his ascension.
A massacre in the name of Khorne was the easiest part for one as mighty as the Scourge of Yakan Minor. He would also take great pleasure in unleashing a deadly plague. He new already where to spread it to do as much damage as possible.
Then he would sink to the lowest pits of debauchery and sensation seeking to please the Prince of Chaos and finally he would put into motion the devious plan that would bring the ritual to its completion and bring the favour of the Great Architect.

The Kraenor line was broken even before the Branican had time to strengthen their position. Zymran's forces were relentless in their pursuit of the enemy, but what was even more frightening was that they did not execute everyone, as might be expected of Chaos. Instead they marched the soldiers and any civilian they captured to gigantic slave camps on the coast where they would be broken by constant indoctrination from demagogues and drugs put in their food.
Finally they would be nothing more than spiritless thralls, ready to toil until they died to build great machines of war for their dark masters.
The most lucky or unlucky, those who had responded to the teachings of the True Gods, would join the mass of fanaticised cultists who would throw themselves heedlessly into battle.

This was the case of lieutenant Jurinio, recently captured from Kolimar. His position had been overrun by madmen who flung themselves onto their guns to allow their masters to march forward unimpeded by gunfire.
Even the squad of Black Templars could not save them.
Jurinio had watched with horror as several of the mighty Astartes warriors were brought down under the sheer weight of numbers and pulled to the ground by frenzied killers. He had seen the most powerful soldiers of the Emperor slaugthered as they were stabbed through the joints under their armpit or helmet, as cultists drove long blades between armour plates.
The few survivors had pulled back into the maze of tracks and cars that was the train station, only to stumble upon Chaos Marines with a massive Terminator at their head.
Their leader hacked the Black Templars apart with his scything talons, ripped them from side to side as if their power armour was thin as paper. Jurinio was one of the few guardsmen still alive at that time.
As the Word Bearer was about to end his life with a mighty blow from his claws, another Marine stayed his hand. The lieutenant was even more terrified of the newcomer than he was of the Terminator.
Clad in heavy robes, he was a sorcerer, with glyphs painted all over his armour, talismans hanging from his belt and words of power written with blood on old parchements.
He studied the guardsmen for long instants, his fingers slowly tracing strange symbols on his face. What he was saying Jurinio had no idea, but he knew the blood of his fallen comrades on his face meant something to the sorcerer.
'The mark is upon him, Lord Arkyl,' the sorcerer finally said, 'He was chosen by the gods.'
'I only see blood all over his face,' sneered the Terminator.
'Maybe you do, but any with the gift could confirm what I say. He is to be left unspoiled my lord. He is marked. He belongs to Lord Zymran now.'
The massive Marine stared with hate in his eyes at the sorcerer but said nothing. Zymran was his lord and master, he was their prophet, the Madhi, his orders were unquestioned, even if it spoiled his fun, for now more than ever the Dark Apostle was touched by the gods.
'Do with him as you please,' snapped the Terminator. And he was off.
Now Jurinio was marched off Kolimar, along with thousands of civilians captured in the attack. He could see smoke rising from the factory district and knew his fellow guardsmen were still fighting hard.
He was slapped hard by a tall bare chest man with a whip.
'Who told you to look up dog?' he shouted and whipped him into submission, 'March you sniveling beast, you don't even know the honour you have been granted!'

'It is an honour to finally meet you, great lord,' Carthac knelt in the darkness.
But there was no darkness for him, not anymore, not since he had been granted the ultimate gift, not since he had become one of the chosen.
The former governor of Camulod knew in his heart he was meant for greater things than serving at the heels of Zymran. He had hoped that he might gain a place of honour among the Word Bearers but all the others treated him like he was dirt.
He had finally discovered why. Zymran had given him the gene-seed of the Ultramarine, the Word Bearers' most hated foe. It was a supreme insult, meaning also that he would never integrate.
But he had found someone who would help him on his path to greatness and one day he would make Zymran pay.
'Indeed, so good to meet you at last, my good Carthac,' replied Daelhg'gkor with the sweet voice of Carol-Ann, 'there is much for us to talk about.'
Carthac's blood boiled at the remembrance of that whore who chose the pitiful Hunter over him. Serves her right, he thought as he basked in the magnificence of the greater daemon.
'Command me, and I shall obey, my lord,' Carthac knew this master was worth serving, for it had promised more than Zymran could ever offer, it has promised the immortality of the gods.
'This is how we shall kill the Saint and take the Heart of Pius right from under Zymran's nose...'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:32
Brusilov walked calmly through the lavishly decorated corridors of the Palace of the Cardinal Astra, adjacent to the Cathedral of the Ascension. On either side, portraits of the dozens of Cardinal Astra who had ruled Branica since it had become a Cardinal World, immediately after the Horus Heresy, stared at him.
Although they had been dead for millennia, the Commissar could still sense their judgement upon him. But he could make nothing of their face, as if they had not made up their mind about him just yet.

Beside him, walking regally, almost floating in the air, Ekaterina was stunning sight. She was not clad in the Armour of Saint Silvana but dressed in a simple white gown. However, even if the design was simple and the did not wear jewelry, she certainly seemed like royalty.
Around them walked the Sisters of the Order of the Bloody Rose, the Militant Order tasked with the protection of the Cathedral and the priesthood. They had both been requested to leave their own honour guard outside. And although the Sisters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre had sworn an oath to protect the Saint, they knew other Sisters would lay down their lives in the same manner to protect Ekaterina.

Finally they came upon a great wooden door, guarded by two Celestians. They stood to attention as the Saint and the Commissar arrived and opened the door.
The room beyond was gigantic. It was the Palace's librarium. Shelves upon shelves crammed with books and scrolls within a room that could easily contain a good sized cathedral.
Just looking at the shelf closest to him, Brusilov saw row upon row of tomes of theology he had never even heard of, probably for some far flung corner of the Imperium. If Cardinal du Plessy had wished to make the point that the holy city was a place that could not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Arch-enemy he had made his point quite convincingly.
The Cardinal Astra, clad in simple crimson robes, but surrounded by a small army of clerks and advisors was waiting for them.

'Welcome to Branica,' he said with the soft voice of one used to have his orders followed, 'I am delighted the Imperium has sent such a great force to save us from the claws of the Archenemy.'
'We could never allow such a beautiful planet to fall into the hands of the agents of the dark gods. We shall see the enemy of your world or die trying,' answered Ekaterina with a slight bow.
'I hope it does not come to that. What news do you have?'
'Kolimar is collapsing, and we don't think the Kraenor line will hold. The fortresses are too old and in a too bad shape. Marshall Guderian will try to reorganise defences around Ilyanos. We'll through our fresh troops into the frey to allow your own troops time to rest and reorganise.'
'And what if you fail?'
'Then General Weynach has put all his energy into strengthening the defences around Cormandel. I don't think the enemy can take the citadel before more Imperial reinforcements arrive. When they do, we shall have the numbers to push them back to the coast.'
'Allowing to get to Cormandel bothers me, but the fortress has never been taken in 10,000 years, I don't think it will now.'
The cardinal paused, lost in his thoughts.
'But let me present you gifts from the people of Branica and myself to thank you for your assistance in these darkest hours.'
Brusilov was about to say there was no need, that they were only doing their duty, but Ekaterina discreetly took his hand and signified him he should keep silent.
'To the Lady Ekaterina, this tome of great value, to remind her that even here her name is known.'
The Saint looked at the cover and smiled. She read the title aloud.
'The Life of Saint Ekaterina of Tsarytsin, blessed child of the Almighty Emperor and defender of His Imperium, by Maximylian of Ternamore. So the good Maximylian did pen a history. He always said he had no talent for writing.'
'And to the Commissar-Lord Brusilov, this painting by Deshary.'
It was the painting Brusilov had seen hanging from the wall in his staff train.
He was about to refuse, but then he sensed Ekaterina's squeezing his hand to signify he could not turn down the offer.

Finally, Brusilov worked up the courage to announce the real for his visit.
'Your Highness, we would like to discuss the securing of the Heart of Pius.'
the Cardinal frowned.
'I'm willing to indulge you, but I'm afraid my decision is final. The Heart will remain where it belongs.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:33
It was a desperate struggle Mathael knew it. Very soon they would be surrounded and then the enemy would crush them under their numbers, the very thought was unbearable for a Space Marine.
Gunter was not iddle however. He sat by the corpse of the Techmarine and was recovering the explosives.
Then the sergeant recognised why Castellan Dorian would have ordered Gunter to come with him. He recognised the cunning of his captain and praised him fore his foresight.
Gunter loved all things that exploded, in particular explosives. He was no Techmarine but he had an innate knowledge of how they worked.
'Mathael, I can make this happen,' he said simply.
'Indulge me brother.'
'I don't know how this was supposed to work. Brother Durgal was a great master of his art. He would have known how to place explosives in carefully selected places to maximise effect. I do not. I know only of brute force.'
'That will do,' answered Mathael, 'but there is a drawback, isn't there?'
'Indeed, brother. I will have to use much more explosives than Durgal would have and thus I'll be unable to ever blow up the three factories.'
'I don't think that's a possibility. We'll soon be surrounded. We'll call for evac, abandon the equipment and blow up the factory.'
Gunter nodded his agreement.
The Branican PDF Captain approached.
'My lords, I have a plan. We have enough ammunition and promethium to make nice fireworks.'
Gunter grinned.
'I think we can combine our plans. With you ammo and fuel and the explosives we might blow two, even all three objectives.'
Mathael shook his head
'That won't work, we may make it to the second factory, with great losses but never to the third.'
'They're coming!' A guardsman shouted.
Indeed, as Gunter and Mathael approached a window, hundreds of cultists and troopers, with a few Chaos Marines to lead them, surrounded the factory.
'No escape now,' remarked Gunter matter-of-factly.
'We have a plan, my lords. We can fill the two Demolishers with promethium and the remaining ammo. With a few explosives we can set off everything and blow up the second factory.'
'But that's a one way ticket,' noted Mathael flatly.
'I have more volunteers from the crew than I can spare my lord. They'd rather die than see the bastards use our factories to produce guns to kill us.'
The Black Templar nodded grimly. This was the way of things. The few had to make great sacrifices for the multitude to survive. This was the way of the Imperium.
'What about our friends out there?' Gunter asked, his gauntleted hand pointing at the Chaos troops massed outside the factory.
'They'll wait, for now at least,' answered Mathael, 'we're fortified into a position that would exhaust their strength. More than two dozen Marines as over two hundred guardsmen are more than enough to hold them off. Especially with little artillery to spare. No, they have us surrounded and will wait until the heavier elements of their army get here. Then they should pound us to oblivion.'
'Then let's get going before they do,' answered the yet unnamed Branican captain.
'What's your name captain?' asked Mathael.
'Surani, sir, why do you ask?'
'So that I shallm known alongside whom I fought, so his name may be honoured, in case some of us make it out of here.'
The Captain saluted and left, shouting orders to his men.
'When do you want us to call for evac brother?' inquired Gunter, when the two Marines were alone.
'My first answer would be never. No surrender, no retreat would have been my motto. But we must live to fight another day, so that the sacrifices here are not in vain.'
'If a task is worth doing, it's worth dying for,' noted the Black Templar, quoting a thought of the day.
'So it is, but Castellan Dorian also taught me that tactics must sometime have precedence over righteous zeal. We would either waste our ammo on worthless troops or if it comes down to it, be reduced to shreds by enemy artillery. We shall retreat.'
'As you wish, brother. I shall make ready the explosives.'
Gunter marched off, leaving Mathael to his thoughts.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:34
Any non-psyker looking into the room would have seen nothing unusual, just a space marine meditating during his rest period. A psyker would have seen a display of power unlike anything he could have previously imagined. The power of the Warp flowed invisibly around the young Librarian, and he struggled to resist it. One codicer using all the power and skill he could manage in an attempt to hold back the chosen sorcerers of the dark gods.

An especially powerful psyker would see two figures. Hexerei, clad only in a robe of purest white, while across from him, the combined powers of the Chaos sorcerers manifested as a huge, power armoured marine. The armour was blood red and the faces of defeated enemies struggled in vain to escape its hold on their souls. It carried a massive sword of deepest, darkest black. To stare into the depths would see the soul ripped from your body and devoured by laughing gods. You would think that against such a foe even one so mighty as Hexerei could not possibly succeed, that the servants of the Dark Gods would triumph and the ward of the Emperors chosen warrior would fall. Leaving the path clear for the evil times that would come. But Hexerei is more powerful than even he knows. As the dark servant nears sheets of flame rise up about him, obscuring him from the view of his enemy and preventing the dark being from coming closer, “come out coward! We will feast on your soul this night.”
“You think to feast on my soul here? Do you seriously believe that the power of the Warp can save you? Nothing can save you here. You believe you have unlimited power because you can draw it directly from your Masters in this place.” Hexerei paused, as if considering his options. “I would be a fool to fight something at the source of its power,” he announced, “so I shall remove you from it!”
As he finished a ball of pure, white light erupted out from the centre of the flames, extinguishing them completely.

Hexerei rose from his meditative posture, turned as if to face an enemy and drew a sword from thin air. It burst into flames as he raised it to the guard position, and the flames ran down the blade, covering him from head to foot in holy fire. Then they appeared to recede, before erupting from his back a shower of sparks, leaving to wings of golden flame. A dark portal opened directly in front of Hexerei and his nemesis stepped through, “What have you done?!?!” it snarled.
“I have brought you to my territory, separating your minds from your bodies in the process. When I kill you will stay dead.”
“You cannot kill us foolish marine,” it scorned, “we are the Chosen Sorcerers of Chaos. Nothing can stand before our combined power.”
“I can,” stated Hexerei.
“We shall see.”
The armoured monstrosity charged at Hexerei, sword slashing at his head. He made no move to block or duck, and yet the black sword was engulfed in flames as the two weapons clashed. Hexerei lashed out with his foot, the kick sending the beast flying through the wall and into the large courtyard beyond. Stepping through his new door, Hexerei let his wings fan out, feeding the blaze with his hatred of all things Chaos. The sorcerers manifestation got to its feet slowly, “you will die slowly for that,” it raised its sword, “and painfully.”
The Dark one slashed again, but Hexerei blocked easily, a quick parry forcing his enemy back. Again and again the Chaos Servant attacked, but it could not penetrate Hexerei’s defences and was steadily pushed back.
Hexerei blocked another swing to his head and jumped back, using his wings to carry him away from the Enemy. The sorcerers, thinking they had finally worn down the young librarian, leaped after him, raising the dark sword high over its head the servant hacked down. Hexerei dropped to one knee, crossed his wings over his head and thrust out with his own sword. The sorcerers spotted the deception too late, impaling themselves on the flaming sword even as Hexerei’s wings deflected the killing blow. The flames raced up the blade and covered the construct then, just as they had done to the librarian, they were absorbed. When the last little flame on the armour went out the entire construct exploded in a massive fireball.

Near the centre of the Eye of Terror, on a small deamon world 20 Sorcerers of Chaos stood around a suit of armour. Without warning the armour exploded into millions of pieces, shredding the soft flesh of the traitors, and leaving nothing alive.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:34
Hunter looked down at the world of Imokalee and considered the offer. "No I think I will take my personal craft," he said to the pastey little dignitary that stood at the veiw port next tim. He didnt trust the little weasly man for some reason.,

"But my lord Govenor Brasis has sent his finest Aquila to take you to his mansion," the weasle protested.

"Sorry pal," Hunter lit a cigar and puffed it to life. "Got my own ride and plan on usin' it." Hunter again turned the persistant man down.

"Warmaster if I may have a word with you," Praefectus Junorius Sligh said as he moved to Hunters side.

"I suppose that ya agree with him?" Hunter asked raising an eyebrow.

"Indeed I do my lord," the the cheif representative of the Munitorium and Praefectus Allenius top aide replied nodding his head. "It has always proven benificial to gain as much goodwill from the local Govenors as possible when entering a situation like this."

Hunter looked to his friend and trusted commander Colonel Matthew Jacka. "Well Matt?"

"All I'll say mate is remember Vigilatum?" The Cadian Colonel replied. "If the damned Govenor there had supplied us with the fuel we needed then we would have gone much farther than we did. Instead he hoarded it for his own household guards and we came up short."

Hef, the Wolf Fang Marine in charge of Hunters personal security stepped up. "Do not worry Warmaster, you will have a full escort and I will personally be in command of the Donna."

With a last effort to find support Hunter looked to Master Starke who only nodded his agreement. Sighing Hunter shrugged and said," well if all of ya are so sure this is a good idea. Damn I hate those Aquilas," he bitched as he walked behind the govenors representative. " I suppose ya aint fixed it where I can bring my horse."

The little man turned and with a look of horror, "No what a barbaric idea indeed. I mean who would clean up the mess?" Horses! What an archaic idea!" Quickly the little weasle walked off to make sure the pilot was prepping the shuttle.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:35
The Leviathan rumbled forward in a see of armour, surrounded by hundreds of Leman Russ, Chimeras, Baneblades and Shadowswords. The might of the Imperium was on the march.
Of to the right, the gods of war of the Legio Praetoria strode across the snowy plains, their banners flapping in the icy wind.
Above them squadrons of Thunderbolts and Marauders thundered past to deliver death to the enemy.

Lord General Guderian was in an excellent mood. He was humming the Imperialer Lobgesang as he watched over a quarter of million Guardsmen moving at a steady pace to meet the enemy head on.
He heard leather boots snapping behind him and turn to see one of his staff giving him a sharp salute.
'Recon reports the enemy is 15 klicks ahead. A vast column is on the march, hundreds of tanks and thousands upon thousands of men. According to our intelligence this is the main enemy thrust.'
Guderian nodded and walked to the holographic display.
His plan was to establish strong positions around the town of Manel, a large hub for Branican railways. The Tsarytsinians would hold the town while the Kriegans would remain in reserve and then pincer the advancing columns into a Kessel, immobilising the enemy where it could be pounded to oblivion.
But the enemy was headed of schedule and the plan was in jeopardy. No matter, plans always blew apart when you were faced with real enemies. He would have to flank the enemy to bring as much firepower to bear and pound him into retreating.
This was not as good as destroying an entire enemy army, but this was better than nothing.

The soldiers of the Crimson Legion advanced slow through the thick snow. Their tanks rumbled alongside vast columns of men clad in deep red uniforms and pitch black flak armour. Dozens of accursed standards bearing unholy devotions to the Chaos Gods flapped in the wind. From place to place, the tall form of a Traitor Marine in armour the colour of dried gore towered over the humans.
Ahead of the Legion, thousands of cultists marched, chanting on top of their lungs devotions and hymnals to the Dark Powers. Many were bare-chested despite the freezing cold and none seemed to mind. The dark fire of Chaos burned within their body. They were covered with runes carved into their flesh and wore rags of heavy red robes. Their faces were covered with bronze masks.
Among this mass of crazed fanatics floated twisted beings, possessed psykers, their body alive with psychic energy. Arcs of lightnings cursed on their skin and burst from their eyes and mouths. Some wore chains as if to restrain them. They were frightening, the true power of the Warp unleashed.

But even daemonhosts have trouble surviving an Earthshaker shell landing in their midst. The sky was suddenly alive with the rumbling of dozens of artillery pieces as Thunderbolts dove and strafed the column of Chaos troopers, unleashing hellstrike missiles to blow up armour or dropping 1,000 fragmention bombs to shred the infantry.
The servants of Chaos were thrown into disarray. Chaos Marines yelled and even shot a few of them to re-establish order. However the road was clogged with the hulls of burning tanks creating a gigantic traffic jam as the Crimson Legion tried to bring its forces to bear.
A few minutes later as the Legionnaires were still recovering and getting their acts together, hundreds of Kriegans tanks and Chimeras raced at them with all guns blazing and more Thunderbolts dropped from the skies above.

The icy plains of Branica were now alive with the booming sound of guns, the staccato of autocannons and the zapping of lasguns. The Kriegans largely ignored the cultists and drove straight from the Legion.
This is to some extent a mistake as the surviving psykers unleashed bolts of warp lightning that blew several tanks before the Imperials turned the attention of their guns to them.
The Death Korps drove a wedge into the side of the Chaos column. Chimeras unloaded their precious cargo at close range and troopers unleashed volley after disciplined volley of las shots into anything that moved.
The Thunderbolts had now stopped supporting the Kriegan attack because Hell Razors had appeared to assist the Arch-enemy. A dogfight was now taking place above the pitched battle on the ground, airplanes zipping past as flak tried to bring them down.

The Legionnaires rallied around the Word Bearer masters and started to fire back. They also unleashed hundreds of blood-crazed mutants at the Imperials, forcing them to switch their fire to this less important but very dangerous targets.
Away from the attack the Crimson Legion was readying to launch a counter-assault. But this was not to happen. Another column of Kriegans drove at them at the sound of Imperial hymnals. But this time, Black Templars were with them. The Emperor's finest drove headlessly into the thickest of the fighting, their Rhinos unloaded their cargo of righteous Marines at close range where bolter and chainsword could do the most efffect.
Assault Terminators teleport in the midst of an armoured column, their thunder hammers crackling with energy. They methodically wrecked all tanks within their reach, tearing metal apart as if it were paper. As they were about to be surrounded and overwhelmed by superior numbers, a thunderhawk flying low roared past and a squad of Assault Marines dropped in the middle of the battle.

The Kriegans had chosen the site of their battle well. Their infantry could take cover behind small hills overlooking the road while the Chaos filth was completely in the open.
The Imperials had them pinned down amid the wrecks of their own tanks. It was now time to finish it off. Demolishers and Medusas were brought to bear. They were usually reserved for siege warfare but in these conditions their incredibly firepower would serve well.
For a good fifteen minutes the Kriegans pounded the whole column, raining thousands on shells on the head of the Legionnaires. Then when it could be assumed there was nothing or little left alive, the Kriegans embarked onto their Chimeras and drove off.

In less than an hour, the Imperials had stopped the Chaos advance dead in its tracks, giving the Branican PDF much needed time to breath and re-organise its forces.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:36
'May I ask a question my lord?'
'Yes captain, go ahead,' answered Mathael while watching Gunter double check the explosives he had rigged all across the building.
'Why doesn't the Navy bomb the whole district? Or send a few squadrons to do it?'
'There are several reasons for that, captain. First up there,' Mathael pointed at the sky, 'the situation is tense. The Navy does not have the firepower to take the Chaos fleet and the enemy would be severely weakened if they attacked. We don't know if they may yet get reinforcements, and they don't know if we may. As to bomber wings, from what I've heard, the Navy wanted his squadrons spread out to avoid a Chaos raid that would destroy all our assets in one strike. Considering the numbers of aircrafts we're talking about, it will be days before all squadrons can operate from the ground. So for now, whatever assets can be spared are sent to stop the huge thrust toward Cormandel. Maybe later they'll have the aircrafts to spare and even then my guess would be that they'd hit the coastal cities.'
'If only we had the Pius, we'd give them hell.'
'The Pius?' asked the Space Marine with polite curiosity.
A new light shone in Surani's eyes as he spoke.
'The Saint Ollanius Pius, my lord. The biggest and meanest airship we've ever built. It's a completely new design, using anti-grav tech like your Speeder. It's massive over 500 metres long, bristling with guns and with a lot of aircrafts and bombs on board. A flying fortress.'
Mathael nodded, not sure what to make of that.
'And why is the Pius not in the air?'
'It's not finished yet, I wish it were. Maybe those scums fear it and are rushing to Cormandel to prevent us from finishing it.'
'I doubt it, but that's a possibility.'
'Trust me, my lord, the Pius would give them a run for their money. It's...'
The enthusiastic captain was interrupted by a grim Gunter.
'We're all set and good to go.'
Mathael acknoledged with a slight nod.
'I'll call for evac. Captain, get your men ready, there's no telling how the scum outside will react to our little surprise.'
Surani snapped a smart salute and was off.
'Do you think it will succeed?' asked the Sword Brethren as soon as they were alone.
'If only one third of the tanks make it there are enough explosives, fuel and ammo in there to send that factory all the way to Armageddon.'
Mathael smiled a little. Gunter had told him on Armageddon he was sending a Rok the Black Templars were assault all the way to the Eye of Terror.

The hangar doors opened and the two Demolishers rumbled forward ignored the mosquito stings of small arms fire coming from the enemy. Inside there was only a driver, a volunteer, ready to die to save their world from the predation of Chaos.
Behind them came a trio of Chimeras. The five tanks rushed as fast as they could, paying no mind to crushing anything in their way or smashing into buildings as they turned.
The forces of the Archenemy were not without means however. The Chaos Marines brought a lascanon to bear. It missed once, the second time, the shot ricocheted harmlessly off the side armour of one the Demolishers. But the third time, the gunner found its mark.
The Chimera exploded like a small sun and the hull was sent flying into the air before crashing into a building and collapsing it. Promethium in flames spread rapidly, turning the whole block into an inferno. Secondary explosions rocked the rubles of the building and thick black smoke rose, masking the flight of the remaining four tanks.

The anxious wait began for the Imperials holed up in the tractor factory. It was difficult to guess how long it would take for the convoy to reach its destination but it should not take more than a few minutes.
Finally when fifteen minutes had passed and seemingly all hope had faded that the few courageous men had succeeded, a mighty explosion rocked the whole district. The ground shook violently as a massive ball of fire rose in the sky illuminating the evening sky. Chunks of rocks the size of cars crashed into buildings.
'Tell me, Gunter, how much explosives, ammo and fuel did you put in there?'
'Enough to blow the whole block to smitherins Brother,' Gunter grinned like a child playing with a new toy.
Mathal sighed.
'Alright then, let's get ready. I don't think our guests will want us to do the same thing to this factory.'

Indeed, as soon as they had recovered the Chaos troops marched toward the factory. Relentless and headlessly they threw themselves at the walls, wave after wave. They were nothing more than cannon fodder but they seemed without number.
The Imperials fought like devils to keep them from reaching the walls. Bodies piled up on the plaza before the factory as the evening drew on. Slowly but steadily as darkness came the assault stopped. Instead, the troopers at the window could see forms moving in the growing darkness but were unable to pinpoint them.
'They're good,' Mathael recognised, 'we can feel their presence and see them from the corner of our eye but we cannot pinpoint them. They'll open the way for them. I did not think it was possible to be so stealthy with so massive an armour. They blend in perfectly with their surroundings.'
The Space Marine turned to the assmbled troopers.
'Get ready, they're coming.'
Suddenly the silence of the night was interrupted by the roar of engines. A cheer went from the guardsmen.
'Surani, get your men moving, we'll cover your back.'
The guardsmen carefully retreated toward the roof and the Black Templars brough the rear. Four Walkyries sat with engines running while another four hovered in the sky. Two Vultures made stafing runs at anything that moved. A Thunderhawk thundered above.
Mathael waited with Gunter. He knew the Chaos Marines themselves would lead the assault this time.
Suddenly they appeared out of nowhere, out of the shadows as if melting into being, their deep red armour the colour of dried blood slowly taking shape. They howled in a guttural language and charged their chainswords roaring into life.
'No pity! No remorse! No fear!' screamed the dozen Space Marines as they charged right back.
Bloody close combat insued as the Word Bearers tried to carve their way.
On the roof the first four Walkyries took off. As they rotated away to leave the city, missiles streaked past. One hit the side of a Walkyrie. The aircraft tumbled into the city and crashed. The Vultures instantly fired a volley of rockets and incinerated the building from which the enemy had fired.
The next four Walkyries landed and the guardsmen scrambled on board. The Black Templars were slowly being pushed up the stairs as Chaos troopers piled in from all sides. Mathael swung his power glove like a gigantic mass in wide swipes crushing anything in its path. Nearby Gunter hacked at Legionnaires with his gigantic sword. The Sword Brethren knew what the enemy was trying to do: separate them so they could be dealt with piecemeal. From the corner of his eye he saw Brother Tanor brought down by half a dozen Legionnaires and a Word Bearer.
'Back! Up! We have to find a smaller space if we want to hold them off.
The Guardsmen had all been evacuated. Captain Surani watched the city alive with fire and in the distance he saw the lights of hundreds if not thousands of vehicles, enemy vehicles, converging on Kolimar. The staccato of the heavy bolters nearby were drown in the roaring of the engine as the Walkyrie soared up to safety. In the distance he saw the massive form of the black Thunderhawk land.
'Gunter! Get everyone to the thunderhawk! I'll hold them off!'
'No, brother! We stand and fall together or not at all!'
'Don't you discuss my orders!' shouted back an angry Mathael as he felt a bayonet find a weak point in his armour. The owner was turned into bloody pulp by a crashing blow.
Mathael was singlehandedly holding the doorway to the stairs where the superior numbers of the enemy meant nothing. With relief he heard his brothers scramble up to the Thunderhawk. But his attention was focussed on the new threat. The leader of the enemy was upon him.
His armour was adorned with litanies of hate made of human skin and inked with human blood. Verses were carved on his shoulder pads and his helmet was that of a snarling horned beast.
'So we finally meet,' his voice was booming and guttural, as if speaking Low Gothic was painful to him, 'You have been a worthy enemy, but this ends now.'
Mathael had a vision of the great Sigismund, his Black Sword crackling with enery, downing one foe after another, killing on champion after another on the battlefied of Holy Terra. At this instant Mathael was the Emperor's Champion.
The Chaos Champion swang his sword at Mathael who parried with his gauntlet. Again and again, the Word Bearer hammered and the tired Black Templar could do no better than parry, his left arm hanging limply at his side from an earlier wound.
Finally the Chaos Marine found an opening and drove his blade into Mathael's chest. The Templar yelled as his enemy twisted his blade. But over his own screams he heard the engines of the Thunderhawk lifting off.
A smile came to his lips.
'I win, Traitor,' he said in a sigh and he pressed the activation thud.

Gunter watched from the open hatch of the Thunderhawk as the truck factory erupted into a ball of fire. He smiled grimly. Mathael would have been proud of him.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:41
Interrogator Kasumi Moradriel blankly gazed through a round portal, witnessing the fading stars of the void, and the surface of Branica becoming clearer each short moment. The fires of re-entry created a wreath of red and orange around the craft she stood calmly in. The vessel didn't shake or jar; it was ghostly quiet and still. Behind her sat an equally immobile Inquisitor Lord Mikarovic, his head hung in satisfied introspection.

"Do you think she's still in there?" The girl asked softly.

"Whom?" Her master returned.

"Carol-Ann; Her spirit; Is it still within what's left of her?"

"Probably not." Replied Mikarovic, his previously content look becoming somewhat morose. He gave a long, silent sigh before continuing in an aloof voice. "Most of her fate are sent to the domain of the master of whatever took their body. Their soul is ensnared by the patron God, only for it to loose interest, for most sacrifices are so small and insignificant. Such spirits are unwanted dolls, tossed down the daemonic ranks until all evil done unto them is exhausted to boredom. Soon the soul rests in some corner of the Realm of Chaos, tattered and shorn of its humanity. All consolation is that most such souls are left there, fading with time, and without the sustenance of their cruel captors, they dissipate, pleasurably ending the torment."

Kasumi turned from the vision through the round window to see her master bow his head a little lower.
"Some are more prized to their new hosts, and are given a much nastier attention. Great heroes are by all odds still given the interest of the most powerful, malicious entities in the warp, perhaps the very Gods themselves to this very day." Here Mikarovic briefly stopped to look up to Kasumi, whose eyes only barely managed to bear the reality of what she heard. The Inquisitor thought best to change the mood of the subject.

"Some have the so-called strength to stay and resist. These people are more fortunate than powerful, like those asinine Illuminati. Cursed and weak they are for allowing a heinous power into their shell in the first place. The Eldar in all their inanity believe these people to be great and skilled, but where are their lauds and appraisal for people like us? Those who have rejected such a fate through our own prowess? Buried beneath a cagey pair of eyes is where their envy lies; hateful envy that mere men can prove greater beings than they."

Though the veiled compliment of her ability was not missed, it still didn't give Kasumi any cheer.
"Then why do daemons call you Zakanthir?" She asked, "What could you possibly steal from the other realm?"

"That which is rightfully mine..."


*****

The barricaded door to one of the few strongpoints in Kolimar shuddered once with a deafening thud, before giving way to Zymran's ornate mace. His face was one of malevolent intent for just the second it took to realise that squads of a hapless Guardsmen weren't there. No civilian refugees, no helpless wounded, not even a sniper was there. All who stood before Zymran was a single man.

"You." Sneered the Word Bearer, regarding the figure before him with the utmost abhorrence. Ironically it was that figure who burst into an evil glare of his own with a grin to match. Mikarovic, just as horrible a man as Zymran, always enjoyed an odious look.

"You know one thing more rude than to not call a man by his name? That is to not adequately greet a lady." From behind him Mikarovic presented his spear, held in a single hand.

"Your lost little specter isn't worth noticing." Scorned the apostate. Quite theatrical of him to resort to words than his weapon at this stage, but they weren't labeled the Word Bearers for naught.

"Now that's just mean." Satirically told the Inquisitor, proceeding to hold his hands behind his back. "Let's not forget that noticing her in the first place is what spawned Mikarovic the Daemon-slayer. I'd have died ages ago as Mikarovic the Schola Lecturer, or Ivan the Fisherman were it not for the very will of that which you serve. Any hatred you have of me is purely the fault of your paradoxical idols."

"Paradoxical is the life you lead." Retorted Zymran. "A pointless existance where no end is nigh. What fear have I of a puny man with a lost soul in a cold shell as his only weapon?"

"Lost?" Queried the intrigued Inquisitor with a tilted head, starting to slowly pace in a large circle. "Lost it is no more, Zymran. That which was once lost is now found. That weapon which was once cold is now warm." Mikarovic gestured to himself, "And this man."

Another Mikarovic, an illusion, completely identical to both the physical and psychic eye, appeared from the shadow of the makeshift bunker and pointed to the original Inquisitor.
"THIS man." It said.

Another Mikarovic appeared on the other side of the room and shrugged.
"Which man?"

Another, pointing at the first:
"THAT man!"

One in the doorway:
"This man."

One up the stairs:
"This man."

One standing upside down on the ceiling:
"This man."

More and more appeared as Zymran looked on in detesting anger:
"This man."
"This man."
"This man."
"THIS MAN!"
"This man." "This man."
"That man." "Which man." "THIS!... MAN!"
"This man." "That man." "This man." "This man."

The platoon of Inquisitors stopped jabbering, looked to the apostate and spoke as one together, each motioning to themselves with an open hand:
"This man is greater than you'll ever be!"
That was always going to be the final straw for Zymran. To think that a single human could be at all greater than him was worth death by the apostate's weapon. But as he swung his great weapon every Inquisitor disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving behind only a plethora of fading giggling and laughter.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:43
Zymran regained control over his weapon, the daemon imprisoned inside lusted to taste the soul of Mikarovic, but the Apostle knew better than to chase after the ghost of a crazy Inquisitor.
'You know what Ivan Mikarovic,' Zymran said aloud to no one in particular, 'for someone who hates Eldar with such passion, you are very akin to them. Thus from this day foward, I'll call you Eldar-man. Not that it matters, man, Eldar, Grox, your only reward for you service to the Corpse will be death.'
Mikarovic was a speck beneath his notice, but he could be dangerous. However he was not one of the real players in this game. Zymran had known them for ages, seeing them in visions: the Angel-woman was one of them, the fallen angel was another, he was one and the man with the hand and eye of another was the last. They were the mightiest in the game of regicide. Mikarovic was not as important but just like a pawn could bring down the king himself, if not directly, at least through its sacrifice, so could Mikarovic spoil his plans.

But this was of no interest to him. He had not come to Kolimar to chase after pawns, he had come to punish someone, one of his own.
Arkyl was waiting in the former government building. When Zymran entered, he still towered above the massive Terminator.
'Arkyl, your plan was a bold one. But you failed in taking the industrial district intact. In fact most of it is either burning as we speak or damaged.'
'I have no excuse, great lord,' the Terminator humbly knelt, 'I did what I thought best.'
'No you did not Arkyl. You are still competing with Sorgheras are you not? Still trying to see which of you should be my most trust lieutenant and my heir? You don't understand Arkyl, neither of you are heirs. The Gods choose the Dark Apostles as they see fit. It is in making you worthy in their eyes that you gain the chance to one day attempt the Trial of Faith.'
Zymran held out the Accursed Crozius as he said the words.
'No, time has come to punish you Arkyl. A judgement by the Gods it shall be.'
Time slowed as Zymran rose his Crozius above his head, holding with two hands. The Apostle could sense every muscle in his body tense for the lethal blow. In slow motions he saw the mace fall toward Arkyl's head. He could count the drops of sweat running from the side of his lieutenant's temple.

In the instant between time, words were whispered. the bound daemon called to Zymran.
'Spare him, he may yet prove his worth to you.'
'Mercy is a weakness. If I do not punish him, my command will the threatened, my authority weakened.'
'No, you call upon a trial by the gods, the gods do not wish him to die now. That is all there is to say. Then punish him in the matter you please but do not kill him. I really sense he may be of some use.'

The Crozius stopped a mere inch from Arkyl's skull. Slowly the Terminator raised his face to see the branches of the star, so close to him, yet perfectly immobile.
'The Gods do not want you to die. You will live Arkyl. But you are without the favour of the Gods. All those who look upon you will see it and scorn you. You are nothing now Arkyl, the gods have turned their backs on you. And this is a far greater punishment that I could ever give.
You may yet reconquer the favour of the Gods, but displease them one more time and you'll face a fate worth than death.'
Arkyl knew exactly what it meant. He had seen Marduk's collection of monstrosities, all were former Champions of Chaos until they became so twisted they no longer were human or even anthropoid but a mindless mass of flash with claws and fangs, a Spawn.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:44
Captain Mikael Jansen had been a pilot in the Immokalee Imperial Air Wing for some seven years. Ever since his childhood he had wanted to fly, inspired by the circling mica-eagles of his home country. His dream had come true, and he had spent the last few years of his life flying shuttle runs and landing craft across the galaxy, observing glorious battles like an omnipotent, untouchable god. And today, he had one of the greatest honours that could be appointed to an airman: he would be flying the shuttle of a Warmaster.

He leaned on the port-side wing of the shining wings of the Aquila lander he was due to transport the great general in down to the planet’s surface. This Aquila was a beautiful piece of work, 3 red Talesian Firegems glittering on each of the vessel’s wings, the fuselage perfect, pearly white, the Imperial Commander’s pride and joy. Jansen had glowed with pride when he had been summoned by Governor Brasis personally and put in charge of ferrying the esteemed Warmaster down to the planet.

Jansen was nervous as he stood waiting for Warmaster Hunter’s arrival: would he make the right impression? He had to, as the world’s representative. He straightened up, boots clicking on the hangar floor. Jansen had heard that Hunter was a good commander and an unusually reasonable personality, but these could just be rumours: if he made the wrong impression here, he could be executed! He shook his head to clear his mind of these pessimistic thoughts. No. He had nothing to fear. This would go well, a smooth flight, uninterrupted, take the Warmaster down, bring him up again. Nice and simple. Mikael stood in waiting for one of the most powerful men in the galaxy to arrive, eyes scanning the entrances to the hangar.

He had no chance.

The first warning Jansen had of another’s presence was a black-gauntleted hand clamping over his mouth. His second was of the impact of a pair of blades slamming through his back, ripping apart his insides. The pilot struggled, but was no match for the strength of his attacker. The blades exited his back, and the hand over his face pulled sharply to the left, breaking his neck. Captain Mikael Jansen stopped struggling.

The black-clad figure of Jagdus Dashor dragged the corpse into the open shuttle door, sliding it under the passenger seat, a wry grin crossing his scarred face: that should give the bastard traitor a nasty suprise. This pilot had done nothing wrong, but his sacrifice had been necessary. It was for the good of the Imperium, after all. Jagdus Dashor made the sign of the Aquila across his chest, bowing his head in a quick nod of respect to the fallen pilot, then leapt out of the Aquila, silently gliding around the edge, and jumped into the pilot’s compartment, pulling up the hood of his black cloak. All was in readiness.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:45
Hunter lokked out the dome window that surounded his throne style seat in the Aquila lander and was duly impressed. The veiw was spectacular, he would have to contact his primary wife Jemare and haver her purchase one of the craft for him. Highly modified of course.

Hunter at first had been against the idea of taking the lander, but had been talked into it and was now glad of it. It was very seldom that he was without the smothering forces of his lifeguard. Only one Deltamarine named Icarus accompanied him, cramped in the small hold area below. He was all that could fit in the sleek lander.

Hunter wasnt worried about his security though, other arrangments had been made. Hef had taken his Wolf Fangs and a company of Highlanders to the suface already and were securing his quarters and an HQ post for the forces of the Crusade. Colonel Jacka was directing the landings of the Orphans and Hunters Lifeguard while Chapter Master Starke was touring the defence facilities to see where improvements could be made.

Above him in space the Iron Monger, a strike cruiser of the Iron Avengers tracked his progress and in the Teleportarium ten Terminators waited in case of any treachery on the ground. Fiver wore the colors and livery of the Salamanders , two of them armed with heavy flamers. The other fiver were wearing the red and gold of the Iron Avengers, they had chosen two assault cannons as their heavy weapon of choice. All knelt on their respective teleport pads and prayed to the Emperor.

Above and flanking Hunters Aquila was the Donna, a heavily customised and modified Thunderhawk built by the techmarines of the Blood Vipers. Herexie was in the cockpit himself. He had an ominous feeling he couldnt shake. He could sense the presence of Chaos and was worried for Hunters safety, even though a dozen Lightnings were also flying escort.

Hunter took one last look at the polluted planet below and then lit a cigar. "Didnt you see tha the NO SMOKING sign you fool?" a familiar voice said over the intercom.

Hunter froze with dread as he recognosed Dashors voice. "Jaggy yer gonna give mercenaries a bad name," Hunter replied with much disgust in his voice.

"What I'm going to give is you a ..." he was interupted by Icarus pounding on the pilots compartment door. "Excuse me I have to dump the trash." Suddenly the Aquila depressurised as the rear cargo hatch irised open.

Icarus was caught by surprised and failed to grab hold of anything solid as was sucked out into the atmosphere of Imokolee. The Astarte wasnt nearly as surprised as the pilot of the lightning into which he tore through befor plummeting to his death on the surface below.

"You know I have heard it aint the fall that kills," Dashor said gleefully, " but the sudden stop."

"Warmaster is there a problem?" Herexies voice came over his comlink.

"I'll say," Hunter mumbled. "Ya might say its a pest problem. Remind me to have the Govenor delouse this craft when we land."

Herexie caught the inflection in Hunters voice and switched channels to inform Hef of the situation. He then switched back and addressed the assasin in person. "Jagdus Dashor I order you to fall in formation and land safely accoring to the plot I am sending you."

"Or what you'll shoot me down?" Dashor laughed a luagh that would have made Mikarovic green with envy. "I think not. Not with your precious Warmaster aboard. Nice try though. Oh I get it," Dashor snapped his fingers, "you were trying to use your mind tricks on me. Silly Librarian, that only works on the weak minded." Dashor cut the link.

"You maybe strong willed enough to withstand his psychic abilities, " Hunter commented dryly. "But yer still the most inept and lousy assasin I have ever seen. How many failures will this be? Four? Five?"

"I will not fail this time," Dashor said through gritted teeth.

"Yeah sure thats why ya fergot to put poison gas in the emergency oxegyn supply," Hunter laughed.

"That is to impersonal!" Dshor snapped.

Hunter howled with laughter. "Ya fergot, or are so incompetent ya didnt even think of it. You are so stu..."

Hunter was cut off by the explosion of two of the lighnings that had fell in around his Aquila. So intent on the Warmaster and trying to think of a rescue they failed to notice the approaching flight of Chaos fithers until it was to late.

Hunter saw the blood red craft that were tearing through the escorts, and shook his head. " This is another fine mess ya got us into." he said dryly.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:46
“Gamma leader to squadron, full evasion pattern!”

The Lightnings broke off as the red-armoured enemy fighters hurtled out of the clouds, scarlet lascannon bolts spitting towards the Imperial fighters. Three and six exploded, fuselages shredded by devastating energy beams.

Captain Halth, banked his fighter to port, turning to face one of the Chaos fighters. The traitor tried to swerve aside, but Halth manoeuvred the sleek Lightning to line up on the tail of the Helltalon fighter. Autocannon fire ripped apart the ambusher. Seconds later, a missile lanced through Gamma leader’s cockpit, and the fighter detonated in a blossoming explosion. The Imperial fighters weaved in and out of the Helltalons, shooting down the Chaos pilots, who were making almost no attempt to preserve their own safety in their determination to eliminate the Lightnings. But it was a hopeless battle. One by one, Gamma wing was ripped apart by the hordes of Chaos aircraft.

“Gamma Two to Aquila, break off and return to orbit, repeat, break off and return to orbit!”

The voice that replied chilled Alpha 2’s spine. “Not today, young one. Your part in this tale is over..” The comm shut off.

Hunter grimaced. “Nice. So what ya gonna do now?”

“What do you expect, Hunter. I am going to land this shuttle, and then I am going to kill you. Slowly, and painfully.”

“In that case, I ain’t too worried.” All the same, Hunter’s eyes scanned for ways out. He had flown in aircraft through enemy fire before, and this wasn’t much of an evasion pattern. Explosions rocked the shuttle, another Lightning's fuel tanks exploding, tearing the pilot apart in a storm of shrapnel. One of the Chaos fighters blew apart as the last Imperial fighter scored a direct hit, still trying to buy time for the shuttle they assumed was going to make a run for it. “If you’re tryin’ to save yer own skin, you ain’t really goin’ about it the right way.”

The truth of this statement was proven as one of the Helltalons locked onto the heavier Aquila shuttle. Jagdus banked to port in an attempt to evade the nimble fighter, but lascannon fire ripped into the rear of the vehicle. Warning lights flickered into life on the control panel, and Jagdus cursed as the flight controls seized up, smoke filling the cockpit and red warning lights flickering into action.

“Looks like we’re goin’ down together, Jaggy boy.”

“You believe that do you, Hunter?” A laugh came over the intercom. “No. This isn’t quite how I planned it, but at least you know who caused your death. Suffer, and die, Hunter. Suffer, and die!”

The cockpit blew out, the front compartment ejecting in a blast of flame, throwing the pilot’s compartment free of the stricken shuttle. Landing jets activated to slow the pod’s descent towards the ground.

A Helltallon followed the pod, swinging round to make a run, the pilot eager to finish off all the Imperials. Jagdus coolly drew one of his modified Bolt pistols, lascannon fire whipping past him, and fired a single shot. The bolter round smashed through the cockpit, blowing apart the pilot’s chest. The pilot less fighter went into a spin, hurtling towards the ground. Jagdus twisted around to watch as the crippled shuttle slammed into the ground, a huge fireball engulfing the vehicle containing Warmaster Hunter.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:46
Brusilov stepped out of his staff train and into the snow, his black great cloack flapping gently in the mild wind. It was a sunny and incredible cold winter day on Branica. His Commissar cap riveted to his head, Brusilov walked toward the massive convoy across the tracks.
He had read the latest reports. The situation was getting from bad to worse with each passing day. The Kraenor line had been abandoned even before the Branicans could use it to recover and reorganise. The Chaos assault had been relentless, a massive armoured drive with one obvious objective: the Fortress of Cormandel.
Yesterday, the forces of the Archenemy had started a flanking manoeuvre. They were trying to herd all the troops they could get around the fortress. For some reason this gave Brusilov the shivers. There would be over 3 million guardsmen and PDF troopers in the vicinity of Cormandel if they succeeded.
But they were unlikely to. Lord General Guderian had switched plans. Two armoured divisions covered the flanks of the retreating Imperial army, assisted by whatever mechanised assets the Branicans had. They were fending off attempts at outmaneuvring the main body of the army and launching swift and deadly counter-attacks to slow down the enemy advance. But they seemed like mosquito bites on a grox, not even registering.
Admiral von Tirpitz had signalled another dozen massive transports coming into the system with heavy escorts. Between the population of the captured areas and the Chaos troops from offworld, the Munitorum estimated enemy forces to over ten million, including 1.5 million troops of skills equivalent to guardsmen, the rest was nothing but cultists, mutants and other fanatics dedicated to Chaos with ragtag equipment. But it was an ocean battering at the Imperial defences.

Brusilov looked up at the largest gun he had ever seen in his life. 'Dorra' she was called. The platformed required three train tracks and was pulled by no less than half a dozen locomotives. But what was truly impressive were the size of the shells. They were like nothing the Commissar had seen before. He'd seen macro-cannons mounted on the walls of hives on Armageddon that were larger but not an old fashion cannon with shells of a caliber superior to 1,000mm.
According to his report, stabilised shell fired at over 200 km with an uncanny accuracy. And the devastation they brought was frightening. The Branicans had four such guns spread out across the front. They fired at large concentrations of troops and blew them to smitherins in an instant.
Brusilov had seen a pict footage. The shell had obliterad a whole battalion of enemy infantry, dug a crater several hundred metres wide and flattened everything in a radius of one kilometre.
The only drawback was their herrondous slow rate of rite. They could only shoot four to five times a day. But twenty shells from those mega-cannons could obliterate a whole brigade if they hit their target.

The crew was finishing to load the gun. The officer in charge grinned at the thought of showing an offworlder his toy.
'Remember sir, open your mouth and grab a hold of something. And please keep the earplugs, otherwise you'll be deaf for life.'
Brusilov nodded. He'd been around guns almost all his life.
The crew ran from the gun and took cover in sandbag bunkers a good hundred metres from the wagon.
'Fire!' bellowed the officer in the vox.
The sound of the detonation was deafening even with the earplugs. Brusilov's entire body rattled and shook. It seemed as if every bone and articulation, every tendon would snap. The rush of air almost knocked the Commissar off his feet. The ground shook violently and the tremor probably spread for a good distance.
Behind him, Brusilov could see the Kriegan officers accompagning him nodding among themselves. They had used such kind of guns during their civil war, except they were loaded with combat gas, radioactive materials or bacteriological agents. The Commissar prayed it would not come to that.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:48
Hunter came to and looked around. This wasnt the image of paradise that his brother and other preachers had painted, nor was it quite hell either, so he guessed he had survived by some miracle. After Dashor had ejected Hunter had pulled on the levers for his own ejection seat only to discover that Dashor had disabkled it.

He had then decided to enjoy one last cigar and had barely lit it when the machine spirit of the craft had ejected the entire passenger compartment seconds before the main body of the lander impacted the lowest part of the hive, Hunter shook his head and cleard the cobwebs and tried to unbuckle his harness, it was jammed. "No problem," he muttered and pulled out his D handle combat knife and sliced through the nylon straps with ease. "Must have had a force feild," he observed as the outer shell was dented and scarred but the interior was still pristine.

His first action was to find the teleportation homer that the Iron Avengers had provided. He flipped the power switch. Nothing. "Dammnit!" he swore as he examined the device to see that it had been sabotaged. "Well looks like we do this the hard way<" and he began recovering the gear he would need to make it out of the underhive.

First he took smut and dirt and smeared it over the shiney surfaces of his ornate armor. Hunter smiled as he thought of the curses he would hear from the ministorium aides when they saw how dirty his armor was. Next he grabbed a bag of emergency rations and a first aid kit. Then he grabbed his storm bolter and his one spare drum of ammunition. As a last thought he grabbed his box of cigars.

Taking his bearings he noticed that the lifepod had crashed into a garmet store of somekind. Hunter quickly rummaged through the inventory until he found what he wanted, a long gray claok that would further conceal his identity. He doubted that anyone here would know who he was, or even care, but he knew for sure that his armor would attract many unsavory types.

As he exited the store he tried his comlink. He knew that it was a long shot but he flipped to his command frequency and was surprised to here somthing. Fine tuning the RF gain he listened only to here, "Appearing live this week and this week only straight from Hydraphur.... Chesty More. So come on down for three live uncensored shows a day at Mons Venus, Imokalees finest gentlemens club."

Hunter shook his head. He was sure that Brusilov would blow a fuse if he heard a strip club pirating an Imperial Command frequency. Infact he was a little annoyed by it but was in no position to do anything about it. "To bad it aint Tiffany Towers, then I might just go," Hunter chuckled to himself as he lit a cigar

"Next week we welcome thee one and only Tiffany Towers..."

Hunter nearly bit his cigar in halfand turned off his comlonk. "I wonder if Brucy ever has days like this?"

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:54
"Probably." Answered a familiar voice from behind the Warmaster. So quick did he point his Storm bolter at the source that it was only the very split second it was trained upon one Inquisitor Lord Mikarovic when he remembered who owned that voice. The Inquisitor let out a surprised burst and raised his hands casually.

"Wahey! Where's the fire, son?" He asked playfully. Hunter sighed relief and lowered the weapon.

"I could have killed you, ya know." He said, trying to look concerned.

"Doubtful." Commented Mikarovic, not very well known for dieing, "So don't act so fretful."

"Deal." Accepted the Warmaster and began to lead off down a delapidated pathway. "So now you're here I can get back to the crusade ASAP."

"Erm... Not quite." Said a hesitant Mikarovic with a cartoonish look of uneasy anguish. Hunter stopped and turned back. "See, I know where you are, just not in relation to all other things. That's how I found here, while not actually knowing where here is."

Hunter only gave a raised eyebrow in reply.

"Trans-locational physics." Explained the Inquisitor. "If I were to fully elaborate, your brain would very likely explode."

"Never mind then." Hunter rolled his eyes and rounded the corner, eager to re-assume his role of Warmaster. Of course, the Inquisitor Lord being the mischievous type he was, was already around that corner, waiting for Hunter to arrive.

"Besides." Said he, walking behind the Warmaster. "It wouldn't be right for me to just show you the way out. Things like that never really have any literary substance; it's just cheap."

"Like decidin' as a newborn who'll become a Warmaster?" Hunter queried rhetorically.

"Takes all the achievement out of it, doesn't it?" Returned a beaming Mikarovic. "I tried to talk your lot out of it, the Squat, Leigh, all the rest, but they wouldn't listen to reason. Now what has the Imperium for their meddling? A Warmaster more engrossed by a woman's chest than the very Imperium he should be serving."

That wasn't the nicest thing to say, even if there were a slight chance of it being true. Hunter took it as such and immediately turned around to confront his accuser, only to find him gone.

"Are you sayin' I'm not dedicated?" He shouted to the dark, empty void. No one was around. It must have been an abandoned area of the underhive; always a dangerous place to be.

"Of course he is!" Said a voice, that familiar voice, but it spoke in third person for an odd reason.

"Sure he is!" Said another, still the same sounding voice. Hunter ignored whatever game Mikarovic played a turned back to continue on, finding Mikarovic right in front of him, less than a yard away.

"Indeed I am." Confirmed Mikarovic. "Let's face it, you're not totally emersed as one should be. You have wives, children, certain... other pursuits. Even the loss of one of your little woman-toys hasn't dented your tiredly overused facade."

It wasn't the stories of Mikarovic's deft prowess that stopped Hunter from making his anger at that comment known, with either a burst from his storm bolter or a shot of his fist. It wasn't the Inquisitor's fame for brutal and painful punishments for those who would dare touch him unsatisfactorily. It was the simple fact that such baiting comments weren't worth such action. It still didn't pain the Warmaster's soul any less to be reminded.

"A sane man would be driven insane by such a loss," Continued Mikarovic, "But no, not Anthony Hunter. No point in becoming angry. Plenty more **** where that came from, eh?"

Hunter had enough. He breezed past the Inquisitor without so much as a comment. He might have been depressed, or just trying to contain any anger. Either way, it was best for them both that he hadn't become violent. But it wasn't long before Mikarovic had intercepted Hunter's stride and walked with him again.

"Then of course you seem to think a Warmaster deserves a break when he feels tired. Hoo boy." Said the Inquisitor, mimicking Hunter's voice with uncanny accuracy. It was an audible illusion. "This Warmasterin' is gettin' me down. Think I'll have me a ride on mah horse and be all well an' good. Well how fortunate our Imperium is that I'm here to tell you; a Warmaster deserves nothing, not even the pride he feels in his duty."

"I don't ask fer anything." Sneered a peeved Warmaster.

"Oh yes of course." Realised the Inquisitor with a comical look of epiphany. "You're pathetic attempt to draw level with your troops. You think sleeping in a tent will make them love you as an equal? When they cheer at the end of a battle, they're cheering a commander, not a comrade."

Hunter wouldn't listen. All he'd been doing got the job done. Just because it wasn't to the letter of the Officer's Primer didn't make his achievements any less worthy, and no spook was going to convince him otherwise.
He came to a tarpaulin draped across a gangway and pulled it back slightly to see past. In a well lit street were children playing with a broken wheel, trying to keep it rolling for as long as they could. Some families went about what seemed a gather for lunch, albeit a peasant one. It was a far cry from the Warmaster's home, his fair world of Carolon.

"Think about it, Hunter." Said a nonchalant Inquisitor, leaning on a pylon but a couple of yards away. "That we do not deserve a family ensures that they do."

It made a sad kind of sense at first; these people hadn't endured what Hunter had, why do they get all things good in life, even in such a dire place, while so many of his kind, Colonels, Captains, lowly Privates, all get naught but a lasgun. He looked over to the Inquisitor, who gave a cheerful grin, and said something he'd never thought he'd hear an Inquisitor say.

"It sucks, doesn't it?"

The Warmaster gave a frown and a smile of his own. Definately an odd chap this one. But upon introspection, perhaps the way Mikarovic said it was is for the best for the Imperium, which despite Mikarovic's comment, Hunter did care for. If one's sacrifice made ten others' happiness, then it might all be worth it.

"Not really, I s'ppose." Reflected the Warmaster.

Silent moments passed as Hunter looked back out at the simple scene of serenity. Meanwhile Mikarovic gazed at the Warmaster with a look of cogitation.
"I've met a few Commissars who'd shoot you the very moment you look intently at a woman. It's a good thing Brusilov is with this crusade."

"Well I know that." Said Hunter as if it were obvious, which it probably was.

"It's one of many things you'll have to thank him for one day." Said Mikarovic taking something from within his tenchcoat. He drew it and held it in an open hand. Hunter found it to be familiar, but couldn't quite place it. "Constantine's Laspistol." Said Mikarovic. Hunter realised, and regarded the item with the tiniest look of sorrow. "Traditionally it was meant to follow the fate of its owner, but I confiscated it. I figured it would be a poignant token for the Commissar-Lord, for a dear friend's weapon to find life again in his hand."

"Why don't you give it to him?" Queried the Warmaster.

"I've never met the man. He knows you. Besides, Brusilov's a clever lad. He wouldn't trust a gift from an Inquisitor."

Hunter looked at the weapon. The good old Imperial sidearm. No fancy firing mechanism, no gigantic kick. Just a solid, accurate blast of fine light. But he decided against taking it for now.
"Give it to me later, if ya still think it's better I have it. With my luck I'll probably lose it on this fersaken planet."

Mikarovic gave a deep nod and put the weapon away.

"You know..." Mikarovic said distantly. "No matter how I look at you I see at least one thing in you we have in common. And when you find out what it is, I think you'll appreciate all I have done, and all I will, both for you and for others. It is an understanding I don't expect from many, but I'm sure you'll get it one day."

"Ya still mean ev'rything ya said, right?" Asked the Warmaster, looking out at the scene, still a bit irritated by some of the things Mikarovic previously said.

"Means to an end, Hunter." Said Mikarovic, his voice trailing off. Hunter turned back to see him walking away. "You have too many yes-men in your crusade. You need people like me to berate you. It'll give you someone to prove wrong..."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:55
When Hunter realised tha Mikarovic had gone away he sighed and lit a cigar. "Bugger me runnin'!" he swore. "I bet Brucy dont have days like this."

He looked once more at the scene before him and began his trudge back towards the upper hive. "Well at least Dashor thinks I'm dead." Hunter grinned, "I'd love to see the look on his ugly face when he gets disapointed. Now if I could find away to surprise that nutter Mikarovic and give him a lil comeupance that would be nice.

In the back of Hunters mind he was sure the wiley Inquisitor could hear him, but didnt care, As he walked he reflected on the things Mika had said. Some were , hell most were true, but would he give up things like that that he enjoeyd just to make Mika happy? "Ha!" Hunter laughed. But still he thought on the Inquisitors words.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:56
Commissar-Lord Brusilov did not indeed have day like these, at least not anymore. He used to go running around, leading men from the front all the time, getting in all sorts of tricky and dangerous situations where a wrong decision meant death. But not anymore. He did enjoy riding his beloved Leman Russ at the head of an armoured column straight into the guns of the enemy for a real fight but he understood his duty was elsewhere. It was with mountains of paperwork, with make decisions that did not mean the life or death of himself, or a platoon or even company, but literally of hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes an entire planet.
Let the Warmaster have fun with rogue assassins, psykers and daemons, he was in the business of running and winning a war as efficiently as possible, as Valerie had taught him. He was the power behind the throne while the likes of Anthony Hunter went gloryhunting.
He had been doing that for over a century, his body covered by scars and his chest covered with medals proved it. Sometimes he wished he were as carefree as the Warmaster, but someone had to be running the show when Hunter was having fun either womanizing or finding himself in some kind of dire straits or other.

So Brusilov enjoyed the little happiness of watching the fortress of Cormandel rise up in the distance as the setting sun coloured a few clouds in shade of pink, orange and red. The mesa towered in the centre of the plains, called the Cormandel Gap. It was a mighty citadel guarding access to the Rhenaro plains. 700 kilometres to the southwest was the holy of Shanalorn built on the slopes of Mount Areath.
Hundreds of guns were shinning in the sun as the Commissar sipped his tea fresh from his samovar. He took a few strides in the deep snow, stretching his legs after hours spent behind a desk.
'Quite a sight,' commented the Branican Colonel who was his host.
'Indeed, very much so. It gives out such an incredible impression of strength that it is humbling.'
'Built by the holy Primarch Rogal Dorn,' noted the Branican.
Not quite according to more objective accounts, but the Imperial Fist Primarch did lay out the plans for the fortress.
'Let us be on our way. I'm looking forward to meeting General Weynach and getting down to business.'

Jaephor almost jumped when he sensed the touch of the Vessel on his shoulder. The man was gaunt and clad in heavy dark red robes. His eyes and mouth had been stitched shut but he could see as if in broad daylight and spoke directly into their mind.
This individual was most unsettling for the Serunites and spending over a dozen days with him in the damp and dark confines of the seemingly endless network of caves had made the commando jumpy.
'We have arrived, we are in the reservoir, said the Vessel into Jaephor's mind.
'I figured as much. We shall rest a little and then be on our way to make the final preparations. We have still plenty of time.'
Not as much as you think, our Master is approaching fast, very fast. He will be here soon.
'Worry not, we well do our part, and then you'll do yours.'
The Vessel only nodded and marched off. Jaephor sighed with relief.
The Serunite commando and their charge had been dropped deep in the Karashan Mountains but close to the springs that gave birth to an underground river that led to the undeground lake serving as a gigantic water reservoir to the fortress of Cormandel.
Jaephor would have poisoned the water and let them all die without honour but the Madhi had argued this would not happen. Cormandel had other sources of water. And the Madhi had more grandiose plans than poisoning the water anyway.
Cormandel was to be a demonstration not only to Branica but also to the whole sub-sector what Lord Zymran could do if they did not bow to the powers of Chaos.
The Serunite just wished he be far away from the fortress when all hell broke loose.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:57
Thought for the Day

A Great Commander must inspire his men to fight even when he is not present!

Imokalee was a polluted forge world and a dump, but it did generate a fair proportion of the munitions and promethium for this sub sector of Brianca system. Jacka and the 'Orphans' had commenced landing soon after the Warmaster had left in the Aqilla. The LZ was several 'clicks' from Governor Brasis Hive, a good site apart from the smell of sulphur and waste. Jacka stood watching the off-load of the 1st Titagel Camolodians.

'Good Day to you Matt.' Jacka turned to see Lt Col Conner his Squat 2IC approaching, 'We will have completed the off-load by late tomorrow. Kilby Smith has finished and their ready to fly.' continued the Squat talking about the CO of the 1st/2nd Tayhosin Mobile Infantry.

'Are Garris and Connor keeping out of trouble, Stewart?' asked Jacka about Hunters two twin sons that were with the Tayhosin's as Platoon Commanders.

'No Matt. As much trouble as ever! Just like their bloody father.' replied Stewart Conner a crud eating grin spread across his face. 'But the good Lt Col Smith has a handle on that and those boy's are keep rather busy most times.'

Jacka laughed, 'And they bloody well should be to. Their as hard to control as their father!' He looked back towards his command Chimera just as his Adjt Capt Jenks and Bill his Ogryn body guard came pounding out the back running towards them at full tilt. 'Bugger me, Stewart! What the hell has happened now?' said Jacka pointing at the two running Troopers.

'Sir! Sir! He's crashed on the way down! the Aquilla got jumped by some Hell Talons! And............ ' started Capt Jenks.

'Slow down boy! And tell us what the bloody hell your talking about!' said the Squat Conner trying to slow Jenks report down a tad.

'Sorry Sir! It just that the Warmasters Aquilla has been shot down!' replied Jenks.

'What!' Jacka and Conner replied together.

'Yes Sirs! Jenks is right! Boss Hunters's been shot down. We gotta help find him.' the Ogryn Bill chimmed in.

'Steady Lads,' Jacka started, 'It would take a lot more than a Hell Talon to get rid of the Warmaster. Jenks get Kilby Smith to get two Companies ready in to fly in his Valkries and have him ready a Troop of Vultures as well. Tell him I will be in his location in fifteen minutes and we'll go looking for the Warmaster. Got that.'

'Yes Sir!' Jenks said and ran off to vox the orders.

'Stewart! What fine mess has Hunter got himself into now?'

'I don't know Matt but I smell the work of Dashor again!' replied the Squat.

Jacka just shook his head. 'Bugger!'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 03:59
Heinrich Drakkenhorst watched intently at the quarters his Death Cultist and he had been assigned within the palace It was a luxirious place, in oriental style, full of thick carpets and big cushions. A fountain stood in the centre of the main room, the water cascading down was a soothing sound. Light translucid silk curtains separated the main living areas from the sleeping rooms.
Still clad in his heavy armour the Inquisitor knelt in the centre of the room and sent his psychic senses searching for tricks, deceiptions and devious ways to spy on them. He found quite a few, some too obvious to be nothing more than decoys, other better hidden. After a few tiring minutes he opened his eyes and turned to Malyssia.
The Death Cultist stood right beside him, sword drawn, in a defensive stance and ready to deal with anything or anyone approaching her master.
'I still don't understand why you would do such a thing as allow us to be captured.'
Drakkenhorst made a slight move with his hand, ordering his assassin to switch to the personal code they had divised to speak without being understood.
Some of it was taken from Eldar language, for which body stances were often more important than spoken words. It amused Drakkenhorst to no end that he would the language of his enemy for his own purposes, just like he used the powers of the warp to fight Chaos. The rest the Inquisitor and their retinue had divised on their own. This code allowed them to express complicated ideas while uttering only a very limited amound of words, and nothing more than small talk at that. The Inquisitor had a less complicated but just as secure code, used for short orders when his retinue was seperated. This one was based on experiences some of them had lived, which had become catchphrases only they could know about.
'I had little choice,' the Inquisitor replied in their code, 'Arioch would have killed us with a snap of his fingers. We cannot attack a Daemon Prince as powerful as he within his own domains like that.'
'Then what? We're prisoners, Arioch will probably play with us a little and then kill us in an horrible fashion.'
'Probably, but I have no intention of living him the time to do so. You'll sleep out of the room and look for Elric Jhaelen Irsei. We came here for him and I have no intention of leaving without him.'
'And then what?'
'Elric should be able to tell of where the Stone of Tears is.'
'What's the Stone of Tears?'
'It is a stone of concentrated warp energy created out of the souls of the billions who died on Vardhag. They serve as a focus for Arioch's power, but if we can get our hands on it, we would not only have a incredible bargaining chip but we might just have enough power to thwart Arioch from trying to get the stone back by force.'
'But wouldn't I be detected? Arioch has daemons in his service, they will probably be able to sense me.'
'This is why you and not I must go. I can shield you, to an extent, and make everyone believe we both remain here. But that will require my whole ability so you should not count on me. You'll be on your own.'
'Very well, then should I get started.'
'Not quite, there are a few more things you must know. I will only be able to shield you because of our bond. Once you find Elrich you'll be in the open and in grave danger. You must get Elric to his gear fast so he may be of some use. Then be off to find the Stone of Tears, I'll come as soon as I am able. But you should not wait for me. Make good your escape if you have the chance.'
'I am not leaving without you. I swore an oath to the Cult of the Emperor's Hand and I intend to carry it through.'
'We're on a daemonworld, this is not the place for such behaviour. Elric is all that matters. I have a feeling he will play a crucial role in events yet to unfold.'
'But how are we to return to the material universe. At best we'll be trapped in the Webway forever.'
Drakkenhorst handed him an Eldar stone.
'Once you're back in the Webway, the Harlequins will find with this.'
Malyssia nodded.
'One last thing,' Drakkenhorst said, 'your clothes bear the scent of life. They will make you more easily detectable.'
'Are you saying I must travel this palace naked?'
'I'm afraid so. Not that it matters, you should not let yourself be seen or come close to anyone but your target or maybe the one holding the key to his cell.'
Malyssia nodded again. She thought better than to argue with her master.
She removed her hood and her auburn hair flew free and came to rest on her shoulders. Her azure eyes looked at the kneeling Inquisitors as he turned around and close his eyes.
Drakkenhorst heard Malyssia undress and then there was silence. Suddenly a hand gently reached his cheek and he could feel Malyssia's breath in his ear.
'Don't you dare die on me, Heinrich.'
Then there was nothing and he knew she was gone. He concentrated, opening himself to the flow of warp energy while casting a shroud around Malyssia aura.
This was the most dangerous part of his foolish plan, but there was no other solution, at least none he could think of.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:01
"Well done.”

Hunter looked around, seeing nothing. He looked again, and this time his eye was caught by a black shadow perched on top of a rock face jutting out from the great hill he walked in the shadow of. A wide gulf, some twenty metres or more, separated him from the speaker, dark water churning at the bottom with a roar audible even at this height above the source.

The Warmaster nodded at the shape. “Cheers.”

“You almost got away Hunter-again, I might add. Had I not wanted to make sure that even a slimy worm like you couldn’t wriggle yourself away from thy own death, you might have survived."

The Warmaster shrugged, his hand slowly moving towards the Storm bolter slung over his shoulder. "Shame. Bet that would have upset ya." He took a calm draw on his cigar.

"You seek to toy with me, Hunter? You think I don't know what you are trying to do?" He barked a harsh laugh. "Still you look upon your death without realising the implications. After today you are nothing, Hunter. Nothing. The Imperium will forget you. Another unsung hero-or so your beloved friends will call you. because you aren't a hero, Hunter. You know this."

"All a matter of opinion, mate. Are ya still banging on about this?" The Warmaster sighed, his other hand edging towards his weapon as he spoke. "Well, you've tracked me down again. Another chance for you to finally 'finish me' -as you keep threatening to do."

"Believe me, Hunter, the chance to finish you face to face has brought more joy to me than the thought you had died in that shuttle did. The Emperor smiles upon me this day, it seems.”

“He seems to reward ya well." Hoots nodded, dropping his cigar. “In a moment, ya can thank him in person.”

Hunter snatched up his Storm bolter, pointing it at the crouching assassin and depressing the trigger. Jagdus ducked as the rocky crag he was kneeling in front of exploded, showering fragments of stone. Bolter rounds whined past him as he waited, unmoving, for the sound that was the bane of any user of ranged weapons.

*click*

“Right on cue.” Jadgus leapt to his feet as Hunter ejected the spent cartridge from his Storm bolter. “Now I believe it is my turn. Goodbye, Hunter.” The assassin brought up one of his Bolt pistols, the elongated barrel glittering in the daylight, and pulled the trigger. Hunter flicked a button on the gauntlets of his ancient artificer armour, and a blue glow appeared around him just as Jagdus pulled the trigger. The bolt slammed into the refractor field, the glowing round deflecting away into the air. Jagdus pulled the trigger three more times, with no effect, bolts slamming into the same part of the shimmering energy shield.

Hunter slammed a fresh clip into his Storm bolter, and aimed once more at the assassin. The gun roared and rocket-propelled rounds slashed through the air. Jagdus swayed, ducked and weaved, dodging out of the trajectory of every single one of the small missiles, his movements too fast for the eye to followthe stone and grass behind him erupting with clouds of dirt and splintered rock. Jagdus curled up into a forward roll, taking him to the edge of the jutting crag above the chasm that separated them, springing back to his feet, lowering his head in a blurry motion as another round screamed past him.

As he dodged another bolt, swaying to his left, Jagdus’ arm swiftly moved to his belt, stroked the pin of a frag grenade, and lobbed it underarm towards the Warmaster. Hunter saw the danger, stepping backwards as the grenade arced lazily towards him, and kicking the explosive device with his solid boot. The small explosive hopped back into the air, and detonated, spraying metal shards all around. Jadgus cursed, dropping to his knees as shrapnel shrieked through the air, the Warmaster’s shield glowing as it absorbed the impacts, a shard embedding itself in the assassin‘s shoulder, cutting through his thin assault suit.

“Nice try, but…ow!” Hunter cut off his retort as a precisely aimed bolter round ripped through a point in the shield weakened by the grenade blast and detonated inside his boot, shredding the sole and the explosion cutting his foot.

“We seem to be at an impasse, Hunter.” Jagdus had risen again, raising his arms, the movement accompanied by the faint, familiar shriek of the assassin’s blade gauntlets deploying. “Now, let us finish this.” He walked towards the edge of the ravine that separated the two.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:04
Brusilov walked along the seemingly endless corridors of Cormandel. He had ridden on trains and elevators, walked for what seemed ages, seen convoys carrying ammunitions, platoons of Branican troopers running past, looking smart in their light grey uniform of fortress troops with lasguns across the chest.
His guide was one of general Weynach's aide and he was taken to the Citadel, the heart of the fortress of Cormandel. The Citadel was totally independent from the rest of the fortress and could survive on its own for several weeks even if the rest of the stronghold fell to the enemy. It was the brain of the Branican army.

Finally, the Commissar was introduced into the war room after several thorough checkpoints. The place was bristling with activity, he could hear the low hum of hundreds of people talking in hushed tones to one another or to officers on the field. A gigantic holographic display stood in the centre of the room representing the strategic situation.
Brusilov glanced at the map. The enemy was currently only 150 kilometres from Cormandel. But between the fortress and them stood the might of the Imperial Guard and several divisions of Branican troopers.
At best, the forces of the Archenemy would only crawl forward at a lumbering pace, taking weeks to reach the walls of Cormandel.
The Branican strategy was finally paying off. Withdrawal in good order had allowed them to build a massive wall of troops and guns, as layer after layer were added with the retreat of more units.
General Weynach walked down from the observation platform and greeted the Commissar.
'Commissar-Lord, a pleasure to meet you. I have heard only praises of your work in the Emperor's most glorious service.'
'I am but an humble soldier of the Golden Throne,' Brusilov answers.
'The Emperor protects,' Weynack clasps his fist on his heart.
'Hail to Him-on-Earth,' replied the Commissar as he did the same.
'Let's get down to business, shall we?'
'Indeed, general, there is much for us to do.'

Astropath Secundus Voryn walked slowly toward the Choir for his watch. With the arrival of the Imperials, communications had increased tenfold and the complement of Astropaths at the Citadel were hard pressed to keep up.
The Choir stood near the centre of the Citadel, but away from the command post, lest daemonic invasion threaten the integrity of the fortress.
The door hissed open and Voryn strode into the horror of the Astropathic Choir. The black walls of the circular room were splattered with blood and gore. The disemboweled bodies of the Astropaths of the previous watch were laying on the floor, their bodies bent in bizarre places at odd angles. Their dead eyes stared in horror at the ceiling.
Voryn blind eyes rose, sensing a presence. The last surviving Astropath was floating in the air, his mouth frothing with blood. He was writing something on the ceiling with the blood of others. He seemed a massive sun of contained warp energy to Voryn's sight and the text burned as molten lava, almost blinding his second sight. The daemonvessel turned around with a snarl as he finished.
'your doom had come,' the possessed psyker said in an other-worldly voice, 'soon screaming madness will come to claim your souls. The horror of the warp shall spill forth from the Realms of Chaos and engulf you for all eternity. The enemy lurks within... The enemy hides withing... Your nurture the best that shall bring forth your doom.'
Tears of blood rolled down the cheeks of the daemonhost as he shrieked, splitting Voryn's ear. And he fell to the floor, dead.

In the pitch blackness of the nether, a monstrous face grinned.
'A warning has been given. Their fate is now their own.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:05
Damn that hurt! Hunter thought as he looked at the bleeding wound that was his right foot. He knew that there was no chance he could stand up to Dashor in perfect health , much less with a foot damned near shot off. He knew that things were desperate, There are no desperate situations , only desperate people, he heard Brusilovs words echo in his head.

"I'm damn sure desperate all right," Hunter muttered.

At that moment Dashor made his leap from his perch and Hunter made his decision. He knelt to ease the weight on his foot. He wasnt an Astarte that would quit bleeding in a few seconds and knew that now was time for a dirty trick. He began to reload his stormbolter and picked up a sizeable rock.

Dashor began to run at him, gauntlet blades humming with power. Hunter began to spray his enemy with the mass reactive bolts, everyone of which the assasin evaded with ease. Hunter was firing with only one hand which made his aim even more eratic. Dashor then leapt into the air and began a somersault to finish Hunter off.

Thats when Hunter stood and with his best aim and all his strength hurled the rock when Dashor was most vulnerable. Jagdus Dashors eyes widedend as he saw the rock imbound with now way to avoid it. The rock struck him squarely between the eyes and flipped him backwards, unconcious flat of his back.

Hunter rose and limped over to finish Dashor for once and for all. He reloaded his stormbolter as he limped. Just before he reached the knocked out Dashor lasrounds,autogun rounds, and other missiles impacted his refractor field.

Turning he saw a gang comimg his way firing indiscriminately. Hunter reached to his belt and pulled his one krak grenade and tossed it their way as he ran. When the grenade exploded it caused a cave in that buried Dashor.

"Damnit!," Hunter cursed. "Well maybe next time Dashor."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:07
Carthac strode through the aisle of the Basilica. Not so long ago, it was a very important place for pilgrims coming to Branica on their way to Shanalorn and the High Cathedral of Illumination. In this church, within the port city of Gholein, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims began the last part of they journey on the Route of Saint Ollanius Pius.
The building was now the command post from which Lord Zymran led the invasion of Branica and a place of devotion to the Dark Powers of Chaos.

Passing through corridors guarded by Zymran's own Chosen in Terminator armour, the former governor of Camulod turned Chaos Marine came to his hated master's sanctum.
The room was circular and opposite the door, sitting on a bronze throne beneath a crimson canopy was Dark Apostle Zymran the Apostate, the Scourge of Yakan Majoris. One step down from the throne stood, Marduk, his trusted sorcerer advisor. Standing on the platform to the Apostle's left was the massive winged and horned form of Daelhg'gkor, partially hidden in swirling shadows.
Sitting in massive thrones disposed around the room were the commanders of the Great Company, the Unholy Crusaders. Carthac recognised Sorgheras, sitting to his master's right, Arkyl in his massive Terminator armour to his left, the other he recognised as well but did not know their name.
Several glared at him with contempt, while others simply ignored him. Arkyl did not look at him, lost in his own dark thoughts. Sorgheras had an interested if predatory smile on his face. Hidden under his skull helmet, Zymran was unreadable, but even at this distance, barely contained power spread forth.
Carthac almost paused when he saw the daemon wink at him. He knelt before his master, his eyes not daring to look up.
'Rise Carthac.'
The Marine rose but still did not look at Zymran.
'You have long requested a chance to prove yourself to us, to prove than you are worthy of the legacy of Lorgar and to demonstrate your value to us. The time has come for you to do so.'
'Anything for the Dark Powers of Chaos.'
The Apostle nodded.
'The plan is clicking into place. Soon nothing will be able to stem the tide of Darkness that will enshroud this world forever. Several elements are still missing however. One of them is the Emperor's whore.'
Carthac almost jumped at the mention of Saint Ekaterina.
'If you wish to prove yourself to us, you will capture her and bring her to me, intact.'
Carthac rose to his full height, looking straight into his master's eyes while clasping his gauntleted hand on his chest.
'It shall be done as you order my lord.'
'You will lead a small group of infiltrators from the Legion and capture her. Should you fail, your fate will be worse than death. Should she die, I will hunt you until the stars themselves die out and make you suffer like nothing you could ever imagine.'
'I will not fail. I am a son of Lorgar.'
'From the fires of betrayal, into the glorious embrace of Chaos,' stated the Apostle ceremoniously.
'We bring forth the Word of Mighty Lorgar!' finished the assembled officers.
'You may go, Carthac.'

In the nether between places, Carthac looked upon the massive form.
'Did I not tell you Zymran would give you an all-important mission?'
'I can hardly believe he would trust me with such an important part of his plan.'
'You know what you must do, don't you?'
'Worry not, my master, the whore will not survive,' Carthac said, his voice filled with hatred.
'She'd better not.'

Zymran, Marduk, Sorgheras and Arkyl were walking across the cloister of the basilica.
'Do you think it is wise to give such a task to Carthac?' asked Sorgheras, 'I would not trust him to carry garbage.'
'You have nothing to worry about. All is under control. You should rather prepare for the assault on Cormandel. The uninvited guests have arrived.'
Sorgheras beamed with pride at the thought of leading the assault.
'It shall be done as you ask, my lord.'
The officer saluted and marched off.
'I would concur with Sorgheras, my lord,' offered Marduk, 'Carthac is not to be trusted with such an important part of hte ritual.'
'Who said that I did? There is an enemy within our midst. I know who it be, but I want to bring him out in the open. This will be the perfect time to do so.'
Zymran turned to the massive form Arkyl who had remained silent the whole time.
'If you wish to regain some of the Gods' favour I have a mission for you, and one you'd better not fail or I would make you suffer for all eternity.'
'Anything for you, great lord,' Arkyl said earnestly as he bowed slightly.
'I want you to shadow Carthac. Keep an eye on him at all times. I don't want anything to happen to the whore. Kill Carthac and his commando if you have to. She must live, for the time being.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:07
Imokolee

Bart and Colonel Varro caught up with Jacka just before he left on his mission to find Hunter. "We heard, " Varro said solomely.

Bart produced a small holoprojector and handed it to Jacka. "My brother asked me to give this to ye in case an event like this befalls him," was all the redhaired giant said as way of explanation.

Jacka looked around and shrugged, "we're all friends here." He thumbed on the holoprojector.

Hunters image appeared in the center. "Well Matt if yer seein' this then either I'm dead, gravely injured, or some other calamity or another has hit me. " Hunter began as he lit one of his ever present cigars. "I have thought about the situation of the Orphans and my Lifeguard if somthin' should happen to me and here are my orders. The 172nd Dnieprians will join the Orphans as well as my Highlanders and Dragoons. Ya will be given a Brevet promotion to Brigadier, until such time as I am able to recind the order or another Warmaster is appointed." The holo-Hunter grinned at Jacka. " I know you'll find away to weasle yer way out of it mat.

Conner raised an eyebrow and looked at the Cadian Colonel. "Well Matt ? Just how are you goning to wealse your way out of a Warmasters final orders?"

"Bugger me running!" Jacka swore. "I suppose he got the last word this time, that is untill we find him.
*************************************
Sasnak

General "Wild" Bill Kittle brought the holomap of the agriworld to life. "Twenty years ago a virulent virus struck this world and wiped out 90% of the population. The local govenors decided to repopulate it and as a penal world. Three months ago Zymran had some of his cronies stop by fer a vist. Now the only part of this world is under Imperial control is the frozen tundra we are sittin on. The Arbites have done an admirable job at holdin' the enemy back, but we're here to retake the world and turn its food production back to Brucy's forces who need it on Brianca.

"General Gavin you will take the vanguard of yer Forsetians and the bulk of the I Corps armor and mechanised troops and attack as soon as you have them marshalled. You will recieve local guides as well as support from Adeptus Astartes Scouts whoa are even now infiltratin' the enemy lines to the south. You will also recive a compliment of Adeptus Astartes armor under the comand of Epistilary Marks." Wild Bill then took a pinch of Carolonian tobbaco and put it between his lower lip and gum. "Any questions?"

"No sir," Gavin answered. "I will leave as soon as the Enginseers are finished with extra blessings you have ordered. What is that about anyway?"

Kittle just grinneed. "Trust me. Good huntin' gentlemen."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:08
Colonel Scharnhorst battled against the freezing wind that cut even through his heavy black great coat and chilled him to the bones. A long scarf was enrolled around his neck, protecting his ears and his face from the biting cold. He trudged his way through the foot thick layer of frozen snow toward his command post.
The arctic weather, incredibly cold but at least clear and sunny, had turned to a low roof of oppressive grey clouds and a blizzard that sent frozen snowflakes flying and biting into any exposed flesh. A few men out on sentry duty last night, in the thickest of the storm had been found frozen to death and half covered this morning. The mechanics and the engineseers feared that the promethium might have frozen solid, despite their precautions in the use of holy additive to prevent such thing from happening.
At least the Kriegan colonel hoped the Arch-enemy would not be able to attack in this hellish weather. But considering, the Dark Powers cared little for the lives of their servants, it was a possibility that should not be discounted out of hand.

Scharnhorst climbed down into the small bunker that served as a command post to his regiment. Such small installations doted the plains leading to Cormandel, remnants of a long forgotten war. The colonel made a mental note to one day ask one of the local officers about all this.
He gaped when he hit the wall of damp heat in the entrance to the bunker but was nonetheless grateful for it. Inside, his staff was updating the map that showed the last known positions of the enemy. The regiment relied now mainly on ground reconnaissance, in particular Death Riders patrols. The awful weather meant the Imperial Navy had trouble sending its aircraft to accomplish any mission.
'What's the situation like?' Scharnhorst asked as he unbuttoned his great coat and removed his thick gloves.
'Quiet for now sir,' replied a lieutenant, still reading through a report, 'I guess the enemy is stuck by this horrible weather as much as we are.'
The colonel nodded, but was not as confident. He turned to the head Engineseer of the regiment.
'So will our machines start should we need them?'
'They shall, at least most of them. We're checking each of them for frozen promethium and carefully unfreezing it. We're adding a stronger dose of anti-freezing additive as well. We hope it will suffice. We also start the machines we checked from time to time to heat their engine and keep them from breaking. We've had such trouble before. I believe the regiment is running at roughly two third capacity.'
'Understood.' Scharnhorst knew the problem was general to all units in the Imperial Guard and that even locals had problems. The weather was especially foul for this time of year, as if the Ruinous Powers had a say in it.

The colonel was looking at the disposition of the Brusilov Brigade when a young NCO came running from the adjacent comm. room with a transmission. Scharnhorst took it up and read.
'General Huntzinger signals enemy movement in his sector, mass infantry attack, no vehicles in sight. Be on your guard, the enemy seems poised on using the bad weather to strike at us. Ready your troops immediately and reinforce patrols.
The Emperor protects,
Lord General Guderian.'
Scharnhorst knew Diana must be somewhere out there to his south-east, probably fighting in the snow. She'd give them hell, he thought half-smiling.
'Statdef 2, I want a battalion of infantry and a company of tank of full alert. Mix and match units if need. I want Salamanders running in 15 minutes for reconnaissance. Get on the vox with the Death Riders and tell them to be on watch for mass infantry movement.'
At this point, another NCO came running.
'They're here sir. Large formations of infantry have been spotted 12 klicks west of here. One of our patrols ran into an camouflaged enemy unit trying to sneak through. They've been dealt with but there may be others.'
'Inform HQ of this new development. All units ready for battle. For the Emperor and the Saint!'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:09
Sasnak

The rumble of tank treads was a reassuring sound to General Varn.His plan was being set into motion. In the center of his attacking force was a brutal force of I Corps Armor, numbering nearly 1200 Leman Russ tanks and supplementary 500 Chimeras for support. Their purpose was to charge right into the teeth of the Arch Enemy, where the thicker armor of the Leman Russ tanks would see them through. Making up the right echelon of his brigade of behemoths were elements of the 1st Forseti, 99th Forseti and the 101st Forseti, all tank-heavy mechanized regiments. Their purpose was to flank and eliminate enemies from long range with their cannons that put to shame even the mighty Vanquisher. Together with the lumbering dread might of I Corps and the swift and precise devastation of the Forseti forces, the heretics stood not a chanch. General Varn, hunched over data slates and maps laid out in the sturdy metal table of the "Logicator" command vehicle, was shaken from contemplation of his battle plans by a Vox-message. An adjutant held the vox, declaring "Adeptus Astartes Scouts sir. They have marked 3 enemy positions and are awaiting attack force".

General Varn took the vox caster and questioned "Whats the situation, Adept?"

"Sir, we have marked three enemy positions, all at Sector ABN-13, which position 1 being at 32-30, 2 being at 45-40, and 3 being at 72-83. Have not engaged the enemy yet sir. Awaiting further orders."

"Great job adept. We will be closing shortly. Give me details as you receive them."

"Acknowledged sir" *click*

General varn made three adjustments to his map, looked to his adjutant and said "set vox for all frequencies. Now we attack!"

*******

Major Daws had received the orders and was now in the process of marshalling the First Forseti into position.

"Alright ladies and gents, listen up. We're going into Line formation, at cords 72-83. the 99th and 101st will go around us and encircle the other targets. The I Corps are going in at 32-30 and 45-40, so we must be quick lest our target moves and attacks I Corps. Move Out"

Replies of "Ack!" filled his earphones. He lowered his eye shades, cocked the hammer on his heavy stubber, and set the Fire Control Spirit through the necessary drills. Perfect calibration, as always.

Before long the heretics were in view. They were in circular base, with a central trapezoidal structure in the middle being an "HQ" or sorts. The base was encircled by sandbags, and every 30 meters stood either an autocannon or heavy bolter emplacement. Missle laucnhers were equipped on some of the traitors, and an Earthshaker was mounted on the HQ. Curiously enough, there seemed to be a squad of Chaos Marines who looked to be the bosses."

"Interesting target" mused his gunner, Yahto Surgen
"Yes, but a static target, and consequently, a dead one"

Daws picked up his flaregun loaded with starlight flares. He fired one, which illuminated the sky brightly. Snowflakes glided gently through the air, and the Forseti barrled forwards towards the enemy.

*****
"Oh venerable one" muttered the traitor to his Chaos Marine master "The Imperials approach from the left."

"Set the Earthshaker to fire upon them as they move. Move your missle units into the deep trenches and order them not to fire until the enemy vehicles are 100 meters away. Shift the rest of your firepower to the left"

"Understoond, master." came the reply
******

One key advantege of the Paladin tank was that its 120mm gun could fire accurately on the move, so well in fact there was rarely a benefit to not moving. This was a benefit the Forseti never wasted in a battle.

120mm HEAT-shells crashed into the sandbag positions of the traitros with frigtening accuracey. a heavy bolter team was hit a mutliated by the explosion, obliterating them and their weapon. Another round tore into a squad of ten traitors, killing six and incapacitating the others in the explosion. The traitors sat and hoped their Earthshaker would strike an Imperial.

20 Chimeras closed in on the traitors with steadfast fury, a blazing wall of white-armored Infantry fighting vehicles. Multilasers combed the tops of sandbags, suppressing the traitors and immolating those unwise enough to show themselves. A forest to their left was misleadingly innocent in its presence.

The Chimeras sped towards the traitors, and the Paladins kept up their punishing barrage, drawing closer as to add their heavy stubbers into the chorus of arms. Chimeras stopped, and begun to disgorge their cargo

The traitors had taken the oppurtunity now. Missle contrails leapt from the forest and into the hulls of Chimeras. Two erupted into flames, an another had its turrets sheered right off, its commander counting his blessings that he somehow survived. Another was hit, killing all ten Forseti regulars inside it.

The Forseti infantry paid no attention to their new threat, instead concentrating on the traitor defenders. Well aimed lasgun fire cut down the ex-prisoners, and the staccato report of grenade launchers sounded the launch of frag grenades in the enemy's midst. Hellgun fire from the Forseti Grenadiers cut down evermore, and Grenadier Lieutenant Harik extracted a gleefull pleasure from cutting down the traitors. grenades flew, lasguns blazed, and in less than a minute of intense gunfire, all ninety traitors lay dead at a cost of fourteen Forseti.

The masked Lieutenant rallied his troops on himself and lead them towards the traitor HQ. The Earthshaker had hit two targets right now, one immobilizing a Paladin and another detonating a Chimera. That gun had to be taken.

"Alright listen up. Grenadiers will blow down the door and go straight for the gun. The rest of you will secure the hallways. Understood?"

The eighteen sergeants he commanded acknowledged his order.

The Greandiers (of which there were twenty) set a demo charge on the door and hid behind the sandbag wall. With a massive explosion the charge went of, revealing a large gap in the HQ's fron wall.

"Frags out now!" hollered Harik.
The Grenadiers tossed their frag grenadiers at the shaken defenders, killing some and disorienting the rest
"Go go go! Storm them!"
The troops under his command, all one hundred and sixty of them, charged.

The defedners of the base were quickly shaken and overwhelmed by this attack. The Grenadiers had taken out the front guard with little trouble, and the Forseti regulars were clearing each room of the HQ's hallway quickly and efficiently.

"Alright. Area secured. Now onto the roof! Be wary, there was a report of Chaos Marines!"

Lieutenant Harik and his men surmounted the flights of stairs and reached the top door.

"Corporal Abbon, sun grenade please."

"Yes sir!" responded the corporal handing him the rod shaped blue grenade.

The sungrenade was a close fighting weapon used for taking buildings. It was capable of causing permanent retinal damage on those who saw its blast.

"Look the other way gentlemen" Harik announced, as he kicked the roof door in, primed the grenade, and threw it. It went off with a dull *blumping* sound, and the Grenadiers filed out and formed a firing line on the roof. Harik brought his Hellgun up, lined up a shot on a blind traitor, and sent a hellbolt through his brain. His men mopped up the rest of the traitors, and all that remained were the Marines and the Earthshaker.

Harik had wanted to approach the Earthshaker cautiously, as it was flanked by two large crates that had looked tampered with.
However, Onirion's squad had not thought such to be a proper idea, and set about laying a demo charge on the base.

"Charge almost set sir" called a private working on the fuses, when abrubtly, the doors to the crates flung upon and a havy bolter fired on the Grenadiers. The shots tore right through the Grenadiers, tearing them apart in a hail of mass reactive shells.

"Take cover!" shouted Harik.

"Alright, Cartiglia, look at me"

The Egean war veteran turned to regard his Lieutenant.

"Im gonna pop up and make a target of myself, and when I do that you nail them with that meltagun of yours. Understood?"

The corporal nodded in response.

Oddly enough, the strartegy worked, killing three of the ten chaos marines. Harike tried again for the fourth time, but the roof evaporated in a massive explosion. Harik and Cartiglia were thrown clear of the roof, landing on a pile of sandbags below. It seemed as though they were the only survirors of the blast, discounting the Forseti regulars who cleared the HQ minutes before.

*****

"Status report" Major Daws asked of General Varn over the vox caster

"Your guys did excellent Major. the 99th and the 101st both took their targets and went on to encircle two traitor regiments and utterly destroy them with light casualties. I corps also made great advance, and caught another traitor regiment off Guard, routing it. By the way, did you encounter any Chaos Marines at your location?"

"Yes sir. Lieutenant Harik's men killed them"

"Excellent, Major. From what I've gathered from the Adepts, one of those Marines was a revered Champion of some kind goign around to each base here to make sure all was in "chaos". Get it Major, its a pun."

"Yes sir, yes sir"

"Well, you gone and killed him means we just nailed a top ranking Chaos lord on our first day of attack. Great work so far, Major, especially since you're going on secondary doctrine"

"Thank you sir. Out".

Major Daws had looked at his dataslate. Hundreds of miles of acquired territory and nearly five times enemy dead to their own. A good day indeed.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:11
It was probably the most impressive sight Colonel Artemia had ever seen. From horizon to horizon the land was covered by a mass of soldiers marching forward. The stomping of millions of boots even on the thick snow sent a tremor through the ground. Horns wailed, responding to each other and huge drums only increased the thumping that was slowly getting on everyone's nerves. Diana had seen such sights before, but it was when facing Orks or Tyranids, never before had she seen a ocean of fanaticised men and women marching straight at her.
The Amarathyan Rangers were taken cover in a small wood ahead of the line of Imperial troops. They also had patrols spread far a wide trying to spot enemy infiltrators. Obviously the Rangers wore white uniforms and large cloaks that would hide them from the eyes of the enemy in the snow.
Behind her she knew the Rechtbach Conscripts were hurrying to their positions, starting the tanks that would start and checking their weapons. But against such a tidal wave, the courageous young men of Camulod seemed like a rock about to be swallowed whole by a sea of blackness.

Without warning they sprang almost right in front of them and charged heedlessly at them, a Traitor Marine bellowing them onward. Diana and her Rangers were taken aback for an instant, wondering how those men clad in red uniforms with black flak armour and the tall form of a Chaos Marine could have hidden in plain sight in front of them.
Colonel Artemia did not really have the chance to take this into consideration as she watched with horror her troopers being cut down without even a chance to strike back. She was pulled out of the way by her veteran retinue while the Rangers, finally gathering their wits, fired disciplined volley after disciplined volley into the Janissaries.
The Word Bearer enhanced vision must have picked up his rank pins because he drove straight at her like a enraged bull, slaughtering anything that stood in his way with wide swipes of his sword crackling with energy. His snarling helmet let out a howl of pure bloodlust as he hacked guardsmen apart with utter abandon.
Artemia levelled her plasma pistol and took careful aim. She had only a single shot. The pistol would have no time to reload before the Marine was on her. She fired and the shot went true, spraying the chest of the Word Bearer with a ball of superheated plasma that would melt his armour in seconds. The Chaos Marine bellowed, not in pain but in anger. His breastplate was a mess of burnt ceramite and flesh but he seemed barely to notice.
His gaze locked with Artemia and she saw death in those emotionless eye pieces. The Colonel levelled her own power sword as the Marine charged, his sword held high for a single lethal downward blow. She gracefully sidestepped him, but he had seen it coming and reoriented the course of his blade in mid-blow. She barely had the time to roll away or he would have hacked her in two.
Picking herself up in an instant, she thrust her blade for his groin but he deftly parried the blow. Artemia's whole arm shook and she nearly lost her grip on her blade. She recovered quickly however and dodge the next attack. But the heat of the enemy blade came much to close to her face for her liking. The Marine was using his greater strength and longer reach to his advantage, keeping her at bay while landing blow after blow. He was tireless while Artemia now had to wield her blade two-handed and was sweating hard despite the freezing cold.
She knew she had to end it quickly or he would wear her down until she could no longer fight. So she boldly left her left flank open as she dove under his guard. The Word Bearer saw the opening and took it but he found only air where the Amarathyan colonel should have been. She was fast and now had all the time in the world. She thrust her blade upward through the mess of flesh and armour straight into the Marine's skull.
The armoured giant staggered back a few step, as if he could not contemplate dying, his arm still swinging his blade. And then he fell dead with a low thump.
Artemia looked all around her. The snow was no longer virgin white but covered with blood and gore, with the dead or dying everywhere. The enemy had been exterminated but the Rangers has been seriously blooded.
Extracting her blade from the dead Marine, she then decapitated him and planted his head on a pole. The forces of Chaos would know what fate awaited them if they dared march on.

Ashafar'yirraith sensed both emotions coursing through him at the same time. He knew the battle had begun in earnest on the world of Branica, a battle that might decide the fate of countless worlds around them, a battle that might drown this entire region of space into the darkness of Chaos. He also felt coursing through him the blood rage of the Avatar. He had sensed the war as well, and he knew of its importance.
Without a word, Dinilainn, his pupil stood up and walked out of the room. She had sensed it too. She would speak with the Autarch and the fleet commanders. More and more the old Seer relied on her to carry out his will. It seemed that this conflict had drained the last of his strength. But there was still something to accomplish before he could lay to rest in the Dome of Crystal Seers and join his elders. He was to end the threat of the Betrayer of Light.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:12
Sanak

"Wild" Bill Kittle was very impressed with General Varns progress. He could see farther with the latest satillite and Imperial Navy recon flights thta Varn wasnt privy to. He hated keepeing Varn in the dark, but he didnt want the Generals actions to give away his plan.

"What is the latest weather report?" the Carolonian General asked the weather seer.

"Two degrees positive General," the adept answered.

"How long before the front gets here?" Kittle asked as he took another pinch of tobbaco.

"Twenty-seven hours sir."

"Another day, but at the rate Gavins going..." Kittle was lost in thought. "Just dont do anything stupid friend."

marineowar
20-08-2005, 04:13
Drakkenhorst knew he had to act fast lest Malyssia be detected. He could not hide her soul from Arioch's gaze but he would transform it. He did something he had learned from his old enemy, Magus Smertzin. He snatched the poor wretched soul of one of the damned that drifted across the palace, and stretched it on Malyssia's like a second skin. The soul wailed and cried as it was tortured further but the Inquisitor had no choice. Using his power as so many psychic pins, he wrapped over the Death Cultist's soul.

Malyssia almost stopped as she felt something odd. She sensed her own soul being subdued under something vile and corrupted. She felt the anguish of the forsaken soul that now covered her own as tight as the bodyglove had been on her flesh. Her naked skin crawled with gooseflesh. But she was confident, she felt her master's gentle psychic caress as he hid her from the sight of the daemons. If her clothes had smelled of the living, her soul was also a beacon and Drakkenhorst had hidden it as well.
She should now be searching for the Stone of Tears.

Drakkenhorst sighed with relief but his stomach was turned with disgust at what he had just done to a poor wretched soul. His enemy, Magus Smertzin had once escaped in such a manner. When the Inquisitor had come across his sanctum after decades of investigation and manhunt, he had collected most of the accursed knowledge and handed it for safekeeping. A few books he kept for himself, including one containing the secret for such a feat.
He knew this was torture not only for Malyssia as her soul was subdued and covered by such filth but for the damned as well. Drakkenhorst steeled himself with the knowledge that he had little choice, he was in the wolf's lair.
Now he had to create the illusion that Malyssia was still there and that was no easy feat for beings that could see souls.
He had but one solution, as much as he hated it.
He opened his mind and let the energies of the warp flow through him as his mind turned to the thoughts of Malyssia's naked flesh.

Malyssia peered at the intersection and then gracefully sumersaulted across with cat's grace. She was heading straight for the the Eternal Champion. The members of the Cult of the Emperor's Hand were hunters, wyrds selected for their ability to scent the psychic trail of their prey over vast distances. In the legends of her order, some assassins had travelled across the entire galaxy hunting for their target.
Elric's presence was as bright in her mind as a psychic lighthouse. She only had to find her way through the maze of corridors and passages in the palace.
She paused when she again felt something odd, through her psychic link to her master this time. She almost blushed when she recognised what it was. She also knew he did it to protect her, to hide her from prying eyes. Psykers united in love where one mind and one soul, shining as bright as the sun.

Arioch sneered as some of his mind glimpsed at the appartment where his 'guests' were quartered. Falling to the temptations of the flesh already, he mused, how bizarre... No matter if he could get at them in this way then he would use it. An Inquisitor would be a grand addition to his menagerie

marineowar
20-08-2005, 09:04
Varensburg

“Sir!”

Marshal Hoth looked up at the young major that was standing at attention in front of him and placed the dataslate that he had been reading on the well worn flimsy field desk that he was sitting at. “Go ahead major,” he said.

The young officer reported, “The 1st and 3rd Divisions have broken through the Kartok salient, and are now completing their pincer move into the heart of the heretic defenses. Chapter Master Darius requests that he now receive the go-ahead to launch his attack on their HQ.”

Hoth nodded his head at the man, which was all that was needed. As the young major hurried off through the large tent that served as the command center of the 2nd Army, Hoth contemplated what his next move would be.

“You seemed vexed Victor.” Hoth smiled as the dirty and sweat stained figure of General Lee entered the tent. “Got anything strong?” he asked.

“I could have you shot for drinking while this army is waging a major operation,” joked Hoth as he reached down into a dusty knapsack that was laying on the smothered grass at his feet. He pulled out a half empty bottle of corsican scotch and two guard issue drinking cups. “But as we are on the subject,” he continued pouring out generous amounts of the amber liquid, “How has the V Corps been doing?”

“About as good as can be expected,” he informed him, lifting one of the cups and taking a deep drink. “We managed to destroy three traitor divisions as they were heading over here to try to outflank you.”

“I hope that it wasn’t too much trouble,” responded Hoth, taking a drink from his own cup.

“Nah,” he said setting his cup on the desk and flopping into a foldable chair that was sitting off to the side. “The boys needed a good fight, and it put us in a great position to cut off the communication and supply lines of their main army at Kartok.”

“I have just been informed that two of my divisions have broken through their lines,” said Hoth. He finished his drink and continued, “With Darius on his way to wipe out their command structure, we should have this world under imperial rule by nightfall tomorrow.”

“That’s good,” said Lee. He downed the rest of his drink and one gulp, his face pulling into a slight cringe as he did so. “Twenty-four down, and one to go!” he bellowed.

“Indeed,” responded Hoth.

Clingman’s Dome

The sprawling hanger bay of the under ground base was bustling with activity as thousands of imperial guardsmen were going about their duties loading up supplies and boarding the massive shuttles that were sitting on the hard stone of the landing pads. Marshal Kleist strode among them, his trusted second in command, General Devout, following close by.

“The 1st and 4th Grenadiers are reporting 100% readiness, Sir,” said Devout, referencing the dataslate that he was reading from and followed Henri. “The 2nd and 3rd are experiencing some trouble with getting their last few shuttles operational, but Colonels Stralzen and Serjio are sure that they can get them up within the next few hours.”

“As long as the entire force is ready to leave by 0300 hundred hours, we should be okay,” responded Kleist.

“Where are we going, by the way,” asked Devout.

“The only place that matters right now,” Responded Kleist, “Branica.”

marineowar
20-08-2005, 09:05
Cernuous had just finished his evening prayers when Chief Librarian Anton burst into his quarters, “Master Cernuous, something terrible is happening, or about to happen on Branica.”
Cernuous sighed, “I hope the chapters Librarians aren’t going to get into the habit of rushing into my private quarters without permission bearing bad news, you know I always have time for your warning and your advice, there’s no need to rush in here like all the daemons of hell are being unleashed.”
“I apologise My Lord, but I believe all the daemons of hell may be unleashed.”
Cernuous’ attitude became serious instantly, “where? When?”
“When, I can’t be sure. Could be tomorrow, could be next week. I suspect it’ll be sooner rather than later though. Where I’m more certain of. The vision I saw was definitely of Cormandel, I saw rains of fire and the street ran with rivers of blood. The taint of Chaos lay over everything and the Heart of Pius was taken. The powers of the Warp are planning something big and I don’t think we are strong enough to stop them. Not this time. I do not know what we can do.”
“As always brother Anton, the Blood Vipers will do what is required of them, no matter the cost. When the time comes we will be ready.”
“The Emperor protects, Master Cernuous.”
“Aye, the Emperor protects.”

After Anton had left Cernuous crossed to the comm unit mounted near his door, “Master of the Watch, signal to all battle brothers, we will commence landing in 2 hours.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 09:07
Sanak

"Waht is the temp?" General Kittle asked.

"-10 degreess sir," the weather tech answered. "I expect the temperature to continue falling and by this time tomorow it will be another 15 degress colder."

Kittle nodded his head and tiurned to his comms officer. "Order all non mechanised units to fall back to these coordinates."

The comms officer looked at the coordinates. He knew that it would leave the forces under General Var in a lurch. "Sir if you do that..."

"Just send it," Kittle said in a voice that brooked no argument.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Imokolee

Hunter sat on a fallen column and finished eating his bannan. He tossed peel on tthe floor and looked around. Dashor would be here soon and he had to get ready.


Dashor looked over the ruined warehouse floor before him. He was sure that his prey had come in here. It had taken him hours to get out of the rubble he was buried under. If Hunter thought that he was dead he was badly mistaken, and would soon pay with his life.

Dashor was about to enter the main door, when he spied the trip wire. So Hunter did know he was coming. As he stepped over the poorly concealed wire that would have caught many unawares he smiled seeing several others in the warehouse. "So its a game you want?" he whispered to himself.

He skipped and avoided three other traps and made his way to the other side of the warehouse, where the offices were. That seemed to be where the coward was hiding. He looked at each door, one was slightly ajar, but obviously so, the other was almost closed, but not quite.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk, Hunter," Jagdus shook his head. "You are trying I'll give you that." Jagdus then drew one of his bolt pistols and opened the door emptying the clip into the room.

Thats when Hunter sprang from his concealed spot behind the assasin. But for the canvass that slipped under his foot he would have skewered the rogue assasin, instead as he lost his footing the massive blade went between Dashors thighs.

"Arrrggghhh," Dashor screamed as he did a backflip over Hunter. "Hunter thats low even for you!"

"I was aimin' fer yer ass," Hunter said as he turned to face his nemisis. "I figured as long as yer head has been up it yer brain may have migrated." Hunter then swung in a furious slash that caused Dashor to jump to the left onto a trap he had not discovered.

A springloaded stake shot out of cover and buried itself in the assasins left thigh. Hunter closed in for the kill and swung his sword in an overhand arc. Dashor met the massive blade by crossing his guantlet blades and blocking the blow.
************************************************** *
Clingmans Dome

General Lanni looked at the world below. and wondered why he had brought his small army here. It was then that Colonel Sampson came over to him.

"Sir we are being asked to send a recognition code," he didnt add that if they sent the wrong one they would likely be blasted to their basic subatomic particles.

"Landshark," was the code Lanni gave to be sent.


On the surface Kliest was going over some last minute details when Devout came running in. "Sir we just got this code from a troopship in orbit. They gave the password "Landshark" What are your orders.

Kliest stood in shock. There was only one man he knew of that used that password. But it couldnt be, he was dead, wasnt he? '"Put all forces on full alert, but dont fire. I want to see who this is before we kill him. " Kliest ordered as he made his way to a car that would take him to the spaceport.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 09:08
Jagdus sprang to his feet, pushing Hunter’s blade backwards with his gauntlets. The Warmaster took a step backwards, raising his two-handed sword. The assassin dropped into a fighting stance.

“Still not wanting to fight me properly, Hunter? Are you still consumed by your own cowardice?” snarled Jagdus, crouching to tear the sharp stake out of his thigh, the shaft stained with dark blood.

Hunter was about to reply, but cut off as the assassin sprang forwards, thrusting with his left gauntlet. Hunter ducked the blow, raising his sword to intercept the slash of Jagdus’ second blade gauntlet. Jagdus leapt up, grabbing a low beam, swinging himself up over it and down, dropping into a defensive stance. Hunter whirled his mighty blade and brought it down in a two-handed arc, the assassin rolling aside as the sword smashed into the floor. Hunter turned, just as Jagdus’ black-clad foot slammed into his chest, knocking him backwards. The assassin flipped back to his feet, swaying as the Warmaster’s sword swished past him again, going into a forward roll. Hunter stepped back, Jagdus reversing his momentum as he realised he would be out of range.

A grin crossed the assassin’s face. “Come on then, Hunter. You have played your little game, and lost. Now, face me like a man.” He beckoned to the Warmaster, blade gauntlets clicking with the gesture. “Attack me. Show me your strength. You beat me once, I give you that. Now show if you can do it again.”

Hunter nodded. “A’right.” He raised his blade once more, and charged across the floor towards the black-clad assassin. Jagdus ducked the horizontal strike, Hunter bringing his finely-crafted blade upwards again in a diagonal strike which the nimble assassin rolled underneath. The Warmaster completed the blade’s arc to bring it downwards once more in a blow that would have bisected Dashor-had he not raised his gauntlets again, interlocking the sword with the blades.

“That is a fine sword, Hunter.” A grin split the scarred assassin’s features. “Let’s see how you do without it.”

Jagdus flicked his wrist. The blade of Hunter’s sword was entangled between the pointing index finger blade and the curved central blade that protected the assassin’s middle and ring fingers. The movement twisted Hunter’s sword out of his hand, the blade clattering to the floor of the empty warehouse. The assassin sprang to his feet, spinning around and slamming his left blade through the right-hand side of Hunter’s chest. Bone splintered and flesh ripped as the pair of blades tore through muscle. Hunter gave a bark of pain as the assassin withdrew his blade, blood coating the shining metallic weapons.

“I am too strong for you, Hunter.” The assassin cracked his knuckles. “And now, look where you are without your lackeys, your bodyguards, your hired killers to get rid of all insubordination. Where are they now, Hunter, when you need them the most?”

marineowar
20-08-2005, 09:08
Lord General Guderian knew he had his back against the wall. They had hoped to stop the forces of the Archenemy before they reached the walls of Cormandel, the mighty fortress built on top, inside and around a towering mesa, but there was little hope of that happening.
Not that his troops were not fighting bravely and making the slaves of the Dark Gods pay a immense tally in blood for every inch they gained, but they did not seem to mind.
In fact whoever was in charge relished with the thought of slaughter, offering both his troops and the Imperials to the slaughter. A sinking feeling almost overcome the general, a gigantic sacrifice, it all seemed like a gigantic sacrifice.
Why was everyone blind to this? Why did no one see? Because there was no Inquisitor around. Mikarovic had left with Hunter and Drakkenhorst was off somewhere.
The realisation was one difficult to bear. Guderian was knowledgeable in some of the lore on the Chaos gods. He could recognise their major ones and understood how they broadly thought. He knew of daemons and of the thin veil protecting reality from them.
'Get me Brusilov on the horn ASAP!'

Scharnhorst nodded with grim satisfaction when another volley landed in the horde approaching. They had finally brought armour and artillery to bear. And the sheer numbers were making up for poor accuracy. The Kriegan had seen two hours earlier a shell from one of the Dorra class cannon landed in the midst of the enemy throwing thousands of people, dozens of tanks and tons of earth into the air, but to no effect.
It was like fighting the Nids on Egea, but more frightening because this time, they all knew the enemy once had personality, often a peaceful life, before being taken by the forces of Chaos. It was like watching a deforming mirror that twisted everything it touched.
But the most terrible thing was the constant chanting, drumming and praying. They died with fiery words to their dark masters on their lips or screamed the word Madhi on top of their lungs. the colonel had finally learned that it meant Prophet and refered to Zymran.
A junior NCO came running with another decoded vox transcript. Scharnhorst read it, and read it again just to be sure.
'To all officers,
Organise fighting retreat behind the safety of Cormandel. The enemy is not fighting for territorial control but for some nefarious purpose related to warpcraft. The Inquisition is still assessing the situation but recommended this course of action.
Maintain fighting coherency at all cost, this is not a rout. Be mindful of units on either flank of you, do not hurry or stay behind. Abandon part of the heavy materiel if need, but do not leave the wounded at any cost.
Lord General Guderian,
Commissar-Lord Brusilov'
The colonel sighed with resignation. Another retreat. Would there be no end to it. Soon they would find themselves with nowhere to run and the enemy would be under the walls of Shanalorn.

'Are you sure of what you say?'
'It is difficult to be certain in such matters, Commissar, but yes I am a certain as I can be. Only experience and instinct could refine my assessment.'
Anya Lohji, Drakkenhorst's Interrogator, was a petite insconspicuous woman with dark hair cut short and inquisitive eyes. To her right stood Calculus Logi Lomonosov, still going through his calculation, and to his left Father Horatio, a large prayerbook handing from leatherstraps across his chest.
Brusilov was sitting in his grandiose office in the Citadel, in the heart of Cormandel.
'But the Heart of Pius is not here. Why would it be the target?'
'As you mentioned, the enemy could not safely ignore it, so they have to take it or destroy it.'
'And it would strike fear in our hearts, as well as cripple us. But what do you make of the event in the astropathic choir?'
'For some reason, someone forewarned us. We must take this advice. Leave a skeleton crew and when the enemy is close enough, overload the plasma generators and obliterate everything in a radius of...'
The Interrogator turned to the Logi.
'... 23.7km based upon my current calcutations, but I have to factor in more accurately the ammunition.'
'The Branicans will never approve,' Brusilov remarked grimly.
'And I can be of no help. I have the Inquisitor's words to back my words, but not his rank to order them around.'
'At least the army is safe, for now, and shall be able to reorganise whil they try to swallow this place.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:33
Ekaterina looked up at the sky. It was the colour of an old bruise, a mix of black, purle and crimson, with menacing clouds swirling. The sun was a pale globe of white light and seemed to ooze. A gigantic flock of bizarre birds passed. They were monstrous black gargoyles with snarling faces, clawed hands and leathery wings.
The Saint watched down the hill to the city across the plain. She recognised it as Shanalorn. Or at least she used to be the proud holy city, built on the slopes of Mount Areath. The graceful steel structures had been twisted beyond recognition, the white stone of the upper tiers had blackened and smog covered the lower levels. But the most horrific was the Cathedral. It was truly gigantic and cast a shadow over the whole city. It massive walls bristled with the statues of daemons torturing the souls of the damned and with scripture in a language that made the head spun just to look at it. From massive towers, brass bells tolled constantly in a grim melody.
Ekaterina could see the masses of the faithful, trudging forward under the whip of figures cloaked in red. They were off to work or to pray, but always there was a frightened prayers on their lips, but to the benevolent Emperor of Mankind, but to the Dark Gods, to Lorgar and to Zymran.
And then she saw the lonely naked figure, crucified on a brass star of Chaos. This was her. The Saint gasped when she saw her eyes put out, her breast torn, her flesh pierced with greats wounds that did not bleed.

And then she saw the eyes, the black pits of void that stared back at her from the sky.
'This is the future, whore of the Emperor, this is the glory of Chaos. Mankind shall grow strong under the guidance of the truly faithful, once it has rejected the Corpse God. A new golden age shall dawn. And you shall play a part in it, you will help bring it forward, willingly or not.'
Zymran did not laugh, he did not mock her. Instead he recited verses of Imperial scripture, twisted or deformed to give praise to the Dark Powers. Ekaterina's skin crawled and she wanted to reach for her blade.
But she found herself naked and helpless, crucified on that same same star of Chaos. The eyes stared back at her with intensity.
'I am coming for you, little angel.'

Ekaterina's eyes opened. She was relieved to see she was clad in her armour, her sword in her hand. She was kneeling in the snow, giving praise to the Immortal Emperor of Mankind.
Around her, almost two thousand Sisters of Battle and over ten thousand priests and zaelots did the same. Ekaterina had taken the Saint's Faithful under her wing, forging them into a Fraeteris Militia. Some were too far gone, flagellants and fanaticised priests, but even they she welcome because they all were children of the Emperor.
The Sisters of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre was a small drop of bright red blood in a sea of whiteness. The banners flapped gently in the wind and incense filled the air.
Ekaterina rose with renewed purpose.
'To war, my Sisters! To war, all servants of the Emperor! Let us send back the slaves to darkness into the abbyss where they belong!.'

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:34
The dark room was aerie quiet. A massive darkwood round table stood in the centre, light only by the flickering holographic display that showed the movement of both Imperial and Chaos forces as they approached the fortress of Cormandel. The Imperials were retreating slowly under the onslaught of a tidal wave of Archenemy forces. For each soldier, mutant or cultist they fell, the agents of the Ruinous Powers threw another ten at them. The Imperial Navy too was hard pressed to fend off air raids. The Tormentors had been replaced by large numbers of low-grade and cheap bombers coming in massive ways. The pilots were probably scared rookies, totally unfit to counter the veterans of the fighter wings of the Navy. But in the confusion, real raids slipped through, crewed by real Chaos pilots with Hell Talons and Tormentors flying low to drop bombs on industrial complexes or simply cities.

There were many seats. And even in the gloom, Commissar-Brusilov could see that many of them were still unoccupied. To his right was general Weynach, commander of the Branican PDF, at to the general’s own right, his second in command, Admiral Nalrad. At the table, there was also general Garlim, commander of Cormandel, and Magos Ichtnyus, head of the Mechanicus delegation.
The other participants flickered to life one by one, as communication was established. Their holographic display giving a little more light to the room, allowing the Commissar to see the army of aides standing back. The first to appear was Lord General Guderian, Brusilov’s old friend, and commander of the Imperial Guard on Branica. Then came Admiral von Tirpitz, head of the Imperial Navy. Marshal Winrich of the Black Templars was next. Finally the gaunt and regal form of Cardinal Astra du Plessy flickered to life. The Inquisition was still missing and it was unnerving. Finally the image of Interrogator Anya Lohji appeared.

She was first to speak however.
‘On behalf of my master, Inquisitor Heinrich Drakkenhorst, still on a crucial mission for the defence of this world, I shall represent the Holy Orders of His Majesty’s Inquisition.’
She produced a signet, bearing the trisected I of the Inquisition and inserted it in her console. The strategic map was replaced by a larger holographic image of the Inquisition’s symbol.
The Cardinal nodded.
‘We thank you Interrogator, although we wished your master were here in person at this gravest hour. However, we shall do with what the Emperor provided us. Please Lord General Guderian, you called this meeting. I am eagerly waiting for your assessment.’
‘Thank you, your Excellency,’ the hologram of the Kriegan officer nodded slightly, ‘I would like to share my view of our current situation and point out that were are in more trouble than we might have thought before.
As you all know, the Chaos push has been relentless this past few days, beginning in the middle of a blizzard and continuing unabated despite the arctic cold. The enemy throws troops in front of her guns without pause. This callousness is hardly surprising, but there is something that bothers me. From our past encounters with the Apostate Zymran, I had the impression that while he did not relish sending his troops to death, he was not a mindless butcher, quite the contrary. This slaughter unsettles me, it is as if he intends to have many people from either side die for some nefarious purpose.’
The room remained silent.
‘And what this be?’ asked the Cardinal.
‘I was hoping, the Inquisition would shed some light on this,’ retorted Guderian.
Anya Lohji was clearly uneasy that everyone’s attention was focussed on her.
‘I do not have a clear answer to this question,’ she said, ‘the information we collected, especially the analysis of the incident in the Astropathic Choir in Cormandel and the absence of daemons within the ranks of Zymran’s army tend to reinforce the Lord General’s point. We consider very likely that the Apostate could be preparing a major ritual to his dark gods.’
‘For what purpose?’ asked the Cardinal, his hologram bending slightly over the table, as if trying to reach the Interrogator.
‘It is uncertain as of now your Excellency, we lack sufficient data, but we consider it possible they are preparing to summon vast numbers of daemons.’
‘Let them come,’ railed Garlim, ‘they will break against our walls and guns, like waves against rocks.’

Brusilov noted someone was trying to get to him on his personal communicator.
‘Yes?’
‘Commissar-Lord, we must talk,’ it was the Interrogator.
‘Go ahead.’
‘I did not want to frighten the rest of them because I’m not entirely sure, but I believe Zymran intends to summon the daemons inside Cormandel.’
The Commissar paused.
‘That would make sense, even with daemons and thousands of massive guns it would take weeks if not months to break a place so mighty as the fortress. This is time he does not have. You’re making sense.’
‘My problem is I cannot order the evacuation of the fortress because of its strategic importance, and if we don’t find do something, the fortress shall be lost too.
You have the highest clearance of all the people I know, except the Inquisitor. You have access to secrets guarded by the Inquisition itself. So I can tell you my estimates are of a daemonic infestation akin to that on Armageddon during Angron’s invasion.’
Brusilov remained motionless but he had paled. He had read some of the reports, the thousands upon thousands of daemons swarming across the sands of Armageddon, slaughtering everything in their path.
‘And what do you propose we do?’ asked the Commissar.
‘I shall investigate the whole matter. I believe Cormandel is the target. The enemy will try to infiltrate some of their numbers into the fortress to prepare the ritual.’
‘What of our troops?’
‘All units outside the fortress should remain outside and as far away as possible. I realise that there are over a million people living in Cormandel, but there’s nothing we can do, except pray to the Emperor the enemy can be found before the ritual is complete.’

Brusilov turned his attention back to the discussion at hand. Generals Weynach and Garlim were arguing for a defensive ring using the outer fortifications of Cormandel with some of the units from the Guard. Guderian refused to block his troops around the fortress, arguing the enemy numbers would allow them to trap the Imperial forces. He argued for a withdrawal beyond the fortress, leaving it to face the onslaught the enemy and come back when the forces were ready for battle.
‘You would leave this fortress to its fate?’ Garlim was angry.
‘You don’t understand. I shall not allow over a million guardsmen and PDF troopers be trapped around this fortress of yours. You’d be using us as a meatshield, and when we cannot hold any longer, you’d leave to freeze in the snow or die at the hands of the enemy because you wouldn’t have the food stuff to spare for us inside,’ Guderian retorted.
‘I cannot believe you would think us so callous Lord General,’ Weynach replied with cold anger in his voice.
‘We shall leave the fortress to fend for itself,’ intervened Brusilov, ‘Guderian is right. We cannot allow our troops to be caught in a trap. We shall retreat, reorganise and resupply. Cormandel can hold for a couple of days, can’t it general Garlim? Then when we are ready, we’ll launch a massive counter attack. Caught between the hammer of the Guard and the anvil of Cormandel, we’ll crush them. Unless you’ve been lying about your fortress’ ability…’
The Commissar smiled inwardly, he was calling upon the pride of the Branicans, especially that pompous full Garlim.
And indeed Garlim almost jumped to his feet.
‘We’ll show you you Commissar! Cormandel was built by Rogal Dorn himself! No enemy besieging it has ever taken it! We’ll keep those bastards pinned until you can roll in and massacre them. Cormandel shall not fall, you have my word on that.’
The discussion continued for a while, discussing the finer details of the strategy. At the end of the meeting, Brusilov’s stare rested on Interrogator Lohji’s hologram fro several seconds, his raptor’s gaze clearly meaning she’d better not fail.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:35
Sanak"Target! Two O' clock gunner!" Hollered Major Daws to his gunner

"Yessir!" the gunner replied, squeezing the cannon's trigger. "On the way!" he shouted as the 120mm Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot round, made from the hardest metals available to the Adeptus Mechanicus, hurtled towards its target. The Traitorous crew of the stolen Leman Russ (now decked in heretical trophies) was butchered as flaming shards of metal ripped through the tank, hitting the Battle cannon shells, igniting them in a tremendous explosion large enough to catch several heretic footsloggers in the blast.

"Destroyed! Good job! Next target, 4 o clock!" Another shell barreled forwards at freightening speed, tearing the turret from hull and immolating its foolish occupants.

The battle went on this way much the same all along the Forseti lines. There Heretic armored assault continued almost without end, and it was obvious the traitors were using all their resources in this attack. Tanks and troops came in large waves, and while the Forseti were able to keep an impressive casualty infliction to reception ratio of more than 30:1, the weight of numbers on part of the Sasnakian rebels was a troubling factor to both Major Daws and General Varn. The 99th Forseti was swallowed whole by the traitors, caught in a two way flank attack, and most mechanized elements of I Corps were merely a shadow of their former strength. The loss of the 99th was a deeply felt loss, especially amongst the Veterans of the Forseti 1st regiment, whom they were closely associated with.

The losses were due most in part by a loss of mobility. While the Forseti Paladin tanks (known as the ancient Abrams MBT belonging to a long forgotten republic, in their historical STC context) were able to keep moving due to the reliability of their gas turbine engines in cold weather, the more unrefined engines of Chimeras and Leman Russ tanks meant they were more prone to stalling, a problem the traitors seemed able to avoid somehow. This loss of mobility forces the Forseti into an uncomfortable tactical footing, that of defense. As consequence, they were taking heavier casualties.

General Varn stood outside hs command vehicle, dressed in a billowy sage green winter coat, his ornate peaked officers cap, and hunched over a metal board and maps with his advisers.

"General, what should we do?" Inquired one of his Colonels, Colonel Brekti. The others looked at him studiously.

"Well, we're in between a rock and a hard place, gentlemen. On one hand, we have next to no mobility, as we can't move and leave the Chimmies behind, and we cant do a large scale fallback because we'd have to retake all that ground later. I know some of you want to cut our losses, pul back, regroup, and go back on the defensive, however, thats contrary to our given orders. I've talked to General Kittle and I know he is a good man and won't leave us out high and dry. If he is tellin' us to stay put, I know he has a damn good reason to do so. So this is what we're gonna do now. Give all the available anti-freeze to the Chimeras, and have them set up in defensive position Alpha 3. This way, each one is close enough to cover the others. They will act as pillboxes and stationary recon, and call in the tanks when they get overwhelmed. The Paladins will be used as a mobile reserve, as to eliminate any probing attacks or concentrared offensive movements. Make sure your men drain the fuels from the Chimeras and ration it out to make campfires. Its gonna be painfully cold in the next few days, enough to make this pale in comparison, and more importantly, stall the enemy out. I dont want our boys dying of frostbite when they've done so well so far. Understood?"

"Aye sir" replied Brekti and the other Colonels in unison.

An adjutant walked up to Varn and spoke.
"Sir, of what actions are the Astartes to take?"
"Relay them a message that they're to take it on the offense. Those Marines can do amazing things, and this weather shouldn't slow em down. Tell em I'd like it if they did hit and run attacks sapping at the enemy's strenght and morale, targets with high propaganda value, like Chaos "dignitaries" and high ranking officers. Not orders. Make sure they dont take it as orders. Them Astartes are a damn proud bunch and Im more than sure they wouldnt want a brain grunt like me bossing em around. Im sure they'll oblige, but I dont want to offend. Understood?"

"Acknowledged."

*********

"Command, command, this is Chimera fourty-seven, reporting a large movement of heretics in our area. Repeat, large heretic formations coming towards our positions"

The Chimera commander turned to Forseti Infantrymen in his vehicle.

"Alright, get outta here and set up that lascannon. The rest of you lay low and take out as many as you can. Chimera 84 and Chimera 23 will cover us too, as will the Grenadiers in 23 and the two lascannon crews in 84. Go!"

The Forseti set up in a loose perimeter, with the lascannons further in the back in a triangular pattern. The Grenadiers took up position in the front, their grenade launchers at the ready.

Since in was dark, the traitors seemed oblivious to the Forseti. A Leman Russ was in the lead of their column, flanked by a Chimera and a Leman Russ Conqueror. Each lascannon crew took aim at one vehicle each.

The Grenadier sergeant, speaking in a muffled manner through his Kasrkin rebreather, told the lascannon crews to wait four seconds, holding up his hands in the respective number of seconds. Three seconds, two seconds, one second, and then the sergeant dropped his hand to his side in one swoop, the signal to fire.

The distinctive, harsh crack and hiss of lascannons thundered across the low plains of northern Sasnak. The bright white-blue beams cut into their targets. The Chimera was pierced and burst into flames, its occupants running from the vehicles while drenched in burning promethium. The Conqueror's turret was blown clear off, and flames resulting killed off the crew.

The remaining Leman Russ was hit, its battlecannon destoryed. The Grenadier sergeant and his squadmate stood up, gripping melta bombs in their hand. The Russ' hull heavy bolter cut into th sergeant, going straight through his armor and splattering his torso on the thick tundra. The Corporal gripped onto the tank, holding his hellgun in one hand, and worked his way up onto the turret. He flipped open the turret cover, fired his hellgun into the tank, and dropped the melta bomb into the turret. He jumped off the tank, rolled up back to his feet, and then went prone to escape the explosion. The tank quivered for a second, almost in an organic fashion, shuddered again, and the exploded, sending the turret meters into the air and making the sponsons flying clear off the tank's hull.

The traitors were invigored rather than frightened at this display of destruction. Their infantry gathered in great numbers, armed with assorted las weapons, combat shotguns, and flamethrowers, rushing towards the Forseti. Bright blue-light lasbolts cut into the cultists, boiling their heretical bodies and sending them crumpling and quivering to the cold ground below. Each flash illuminated the night for brief seconds, displaying the unbrindled ferocious faces of the cultists and the disciplined, concentrated formations of the Forseti. The Chimeras added their heavy bolters and multilasers to the mix, the distinctive thump and hiss-snap respectively spitting death towards the oncoming mobs. Weight of numbers soon displayed its strenght, and several traitors got close to the Chimeras to use their flamethrowers to great effect. One cultist opened up the top lid of Chimera 84, and ignited his flamethrower into the IFV, bruning its crew and efffectively disabling it. Chimera 23 suffered an identical fate.

By now the lascannons were taken out, and only Chimera 47, three Grenadiers (including the Corporal), and 12 Forsetians remained. Well aimed shots were bolted into the attackers, each shot downing an traitor precisely. The turret of Chimera 47 was rotating as fast as it could, firing hecticly, its multi-laser immolating instantly all the enemies it hit.

The commander manned his heavy stubber, adding more firepower to the chorus, shouting for the remaining troops to get out and move on. The troops obliged, but only after another of their number was felled by lasfire.

Firing his heavy stubber into the crowd, the commander gripped his radi for one last desperate call.

"This is Chimera 47, overwhelmed, Chaos attack imminent" were the last words he uttered, as his heavy stuber went dry. He picked up his bolt pistol and fired at the traitors as they clambered up onto the Chimera. One drew close enough, shoving his combat knife into the commander's back. He coughed blood, looked at his attack straight in the eye, and fired a bolt at the rear mounted gas tanks. The Chimera and its immediate assailants perished instantly

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:38
Malyssia moved through the shadows like a ghost. The corridors were for now deserted, but in a place so bizarre, she would not be taking chances. She felt as if eyes where looking for, skimming past her, pausing only for an instant, and then moving on. Whatever it was her master was doing or had done, it seemed efficient enough.
At an intersection, she shot a quick glance in the adjacent corridor and saw a patrol of pale figures with long multi-jointed limbs and mandibles instead of a mouth, heavy armour and carrying vicious polearms marching down toward her. She instantly clang to the shadows, pressing herself against the wall. The sensation was terrifying. She could feel ethereal hands touching her naked flesh giving her gooseflesh and she heard whispers in her ear, promising her untold torment.
The patrol moved away and the Death Cultist resumed her exploration. She expected the dungeons to be situated below the Palace, so she moved down. She came across the courtesans’ quarters, men and women of incredible yet twisted beauty, almost enticing her with their promises to come out of the shadows. Malyssia remembered what her master had told her about the lascivious servants of the Prince of Chaos and she steeled her soul and moved on.
The kitchen was a terrifying pandemonium of bloated monsters. From meat hooks hanged rotten meat with flies swarming around and the scullions were all monstrously deformed with pus dripping from open wounds, cloven hoof and rusty cleavers. They went about their business of vivisecting their victims and cutting them into large chunks of meat without taking notice of a shadow moving through the vast room.

Finally she reached a dark, damp and narrow stairway spiralling down into oblivion. A skull peered down at her from above the doorway. If anyone wanted to make this place ominous and foreboding, they had succeeded. From down below she heard the screams of those tortured for all eternity.
Strengthening her grip on her katana, Malyssia walked down. She came into a room that was nothing less than a vision of a burning hell. Great fires lighted the room and from place to place, the stone floor was replaced by a heavy iron grille from which dozens of withered arms begged for mercy. The room was tortured with littered with torture devices of every sort and three bull-headed beastmen were busy extracting pain from helpless victims. None of them looked like Elric so Malyssia moved on.
After a while, proding her way through a maze of corridors, she finally reached something that looked like a guard room. The pale warriors, bare-chested here moved to and fro, huge rings of keys hanging from their belt, opposite a lethal-looking spiked club. But what attracted Malyssia’s attention most was head warden, a massive and fat red toad, towering three metre tall, entirely naked except for a tabard across his belly.
‘Get moving you lazy scum,’ his croaked voice boomed across the room.
Malyssia decided she would wait and observe for a while, before acting. She had no idea where Elric was held, so there was no needing to be rushing headlong. She observed the wardens going about their business, patrolling the corridors, or taking a little rest on one of the bench. The toad daemon in the mean time kept yelling at everyone and from time to time took a big swing from a flask hanging at his belt.

As time passed, Malyssia grew more and more desperate to act. As she was about to pounce, two wardens brought a wreck of a man from one of the other corridors leading into the room. Despite the blood that covered his face, it was not hard to recognise Elric from his pale skin, white hair and elfin grace. If that was not enough, his missing eye and hand certainly helped.
The toad daemon appraised the Eternal Champion with a critical look
‘Anaria, stupid ghost, where are you?’
A woman floating in mid air, with a white gown waving in a non-existent wind, appeared out of nowhere. Her long dark air was like a corona around a beautiful yet sad face.
‘No need to yell, Tsurushi, I am always around.’
‘Shut up and heal him. I need to throw him back into the netherprison for a while so he can reflect on his betrayal of the master.’
‘Should I heal his hand and eye as well?’
‘You can’t, we did not do this, you can only heal wounds taken in this realm. Now get to business.’
The woman floated in front of Elric and her hands touched gently both cheeks. A white halo surrounded them both and before her very eyes Malyssia saw the man’s wound seal, his pale flesh recover some colour and his purple eye regain its focus. Elric had obviously regained his strength but he did not struggle. He was beyond despair or hope, he accepted his fate without much of a second thought.
‘Now, bastard,’ the toad daemon said, his gigantic tongue sprouting from his huge mouth, ‘you’ll return to the netherprison. It will give you the time to think. Maybe you’ll be more cooperative next time.’
Malyssia did not know what that prison was all about, but she was not about to let her once chance pass. With quicksilver speed she ran from cover, flipped over the toad daemon and landed behind the two guards holding Elric. With two quick swipes of her blade she decapitated one and almost cleaved the other in two. The Eternal Champion suddenly reacted, he grabbed a club from the belt of one of the dead warden and turned to face the remaining ones.
‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ the toad daemon bellowed with anger.
‘I am the Emperor’s Hand,’ Malyssia replied coolly, trying to appraise just how dangerous the daemon was.
The daemon laughed.
‘The Emperor holds no power in this place, little mortal. I shall crush you and devour your tasty soul.’
‘You’re welcome to try,’ the Death Cultist answered with assurance, her sword poised to strike.
The toad daemon charged. At the last possible moment Malyssia side rolled out of the way. The daemon carried my its own momentum crashed violently into the wall. Still stunned, he could not prevent, the assassin from climbing unto its back and driving its blade into its skull.
For several second, the beast seemed unaware that it was supposed to have died, its massive hands trying to get the Death Cultist out of its back. Finally it collapsed with a huge thump.
Malyssia jumped off the corpse, sword in hand. But Elric had already eliminated the remaining two guards.
‘More will be coming,’ she said, ‘we have to get out of here.’
Elric’s gaze went down and then back up with disinterest.
‘Maybe you should find some clothing.’
‘Maybe I should, now that secrecy is no longer required. But more importantly we need to find your gear.’
‘I’m not sure I want to get back those artefacts, I am not sure I have a need for them anymore.’
‘But you do, Champion Eternal,’ said Malyssia, not knowing where the words came from, ‘You seek the peace of Tanelorn and the immortal city is in mortal danger from the forces of Chaos. And Irmylla’s life hangs by a thread.’
Those words had an incredible effect on the man. He stood upright, his purple eye shining with a renewed inner fire.
‘You speak the truth, I can sense it. Tanelorn and my lady are the only things I find worth fighting. You are right, I shall need my armour, my sword as well as the Eye and Hand of Kwll if I am to be of any use in that struggle.
‘What of her?’ Malyssia pointed at the woman, still floating in the middle of the room, looking completely lost. She was now wearing a loincloth made of tissue torn from the daemon’s tabard.
‘She’s harmless, one of the many tortured spirit condemned to eternal suffering because of me.’
‘Worry not your highness, you did as best you could against the star warriors. You were caught between the hammer and the anvil,’ she bowed graciously.
‘Wouldn’t you rather be dead though instead of this endless torment?’
The woman paused for a second.
‘Would you release me my lord?’
Elric nodded.
‘Yes please my prince, I would find peace in oblivion alone.’
Elric stepped in front of her, holding his hand in front of her chest, right where her heart was. He pronounced a few words and the woman fell dead.
‘Rest well, child of Vardhag. May you find peace in the void.’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:38
The men and women of the Branican PDF could watch, as the sun coloured red on the horizon, the gigantic armies of Chaos spreading into view. It was nigh on impossible to make a head count, but estimates ran as high as 5 million with thousands of tanks and cannons. In the distance the twisted form of the gigantic war machines of the Titans of the Flaming Skulls strode across the plains like angry gods of war.
The horde stopped at a good distance from the fortress, well beyond the range of the Basilisks but still with range of the macro-cannons. The gigantic guns were now being loaded. Each macro-cannon fired a magnetically accelerated shell at tremendous speed. The impact was frightening, as it could level entire city blocks in seconds.
The defenders were currently frantically loading these guns while the plasma generators roared to life, preparing for the incredible amounts of energy required to fire such mighty cannons. It was said a single shot could power an good-sized city for a whole year. And the defensive ring of Cormandel included no less than 12 of them, although for now only 8 could fire at the enemy. The forces of the dark powers were moving around the fortress well out of range, skirting the foothills of the mountains, to surround Cormandel entirely.

Zymran watched from a small hill on which he stood, as his army prepared for the siege. A gigantic black banner bearing the eight-pointed star of Chaos flapped in the wind, skulls dangling from chains rattling. All around him his Chosen stood guard.
Below him from the foot of the hill, the techpriests of the Dark Mechanicus were taking measurement, ensuring that the guns of the fortress were just out of range, while their own guns still were. It was a difficult guess, the enemy would probably not fire first, to prevent them from gaining valuable information.
But the Dark Apostle knew all he needed to know about the fortress, and more. Data had been transmitted to his allies of the Mechanicus so they could build him siege weapons that would serve in this campaign. An enormous spider leg made of steel and bronze and adorned with rituals of devotion to the dark powers worshipped by the corrupt agents of the Dark Mechanicus burrowed into the earth not far to the left, followed by another and then another. The Desolaters were gigantic siege weapons that look like even more massive versions of the accursed Defilers. Zymran had stolen several Defilers from the armies of the Despoiler and his servants discovered how they worked, and improved upon the design, building a truly massive daemonic engine designed to bring down the walls of even the mightiest of fortresses. A special version, without the daemonic gun but with huge battering rams and inbuilt siege towers, served to assault the walls.
Finally the mightiest guns in the arsenal of Chaos lumbered forward at a slow pace. These tracked machines were truly massive, dwarfing even the massive Desolators. The Imperials called them Centurio Ordinatus. They were leftovers from the Age of Strife, when weapons were so powerful they could level continents with a single shot.
The three Ordinatus were each unique. The first was simply a macro-cannon, the second was a plasma weapon of frightening dimension, while the last had been rebuilt after the Heresy. This last one fired lances laced with pure war energy coming from hundreds of daemons bound to the machine. And it was a frightening combination, unfortunately often as dangerous to its owner than it would be for the target.

Hours passed as the army settled down, dug trenches, built bunkers and depots, while the Desolators took up position and the Ordinatus readied their guns. Finally, as afternoon turned into evening and it was already dark, an eerie silence fell across the camp of the armies of Chaos. In a gigantic chorus, hundreds of preachers, fanatics and zealots started to sing praises to their lord and their gods.
When the ground shook and thundered rolled as the first Desolator opened fire, the chanting gained in intensity and tempo, keeping pace with the rolling fire of the massive guns. The first shots impacted on the size of the squat mesa, throwing off thousands of tons of rocks into the air. The second volley bounced off harmlessly from the now raised void shields.
Then the Ordninatus fired and the shields flickered out of existence before the auxiliary generators started. The siege of Cormandel had begun.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:40
As one the imperial fleet, lead by the battleship Ares, glided through the immaterial eddy that is warp space. The aged and scarred hulls cut through the ethereal currents as they powered towards their target. Inside the ancient hull of the Ares the commanders of the second army were in conference.

“The rebel defenses on Trygora are nothing we can’t handle,” reported General Lee. “Their aged turbolaser and lance silos can be easily dealt with by a short, intense orbital barrage.”

“I agree,” said Marshal Hoth, “But I think that it would also be prudent to dispatch space marine strike teams who can infiltrate the planet using the bombardment as cover.”

Chapter Master Darius peered at the other commanders at the table and said, “My warriors will strike at all of their planetary and military operations command centers. We will also gather as much intelligence as we can on the dispositions and strengths of their armies.”

“Very good,” said Hoth. “This planet is nothing more then an Adminustratum way-station, and has been undoubtedly scoured of all imperial significance. This coupled with the lack of a large population will make discretion in our assaults less the critical.”

“Terra will undoubtedly see things different,” said Admiral Nelson. “The symbolic significance of the Emperor’s realms always out ways what is logical from a military perspective in their eyes.”

Hoth snorted and said, “This war we are fighting is more important than the pride of a few politicians on some distant and safe world. And if that pride overrides what is needed to win it, to the detrament of the entire Imperium, then I must question truth and validity of their claim that their rule is what the Almighty Emperor has commanded.”

“It’s a good thing that the good commissar isn’t here,” said General Strauss, “or that Drakenhorst fellow for that matter. They would probably have you crucified for that comment.”

“Then I’d say,” challenged Hoth, “let them try.” The assembled commanders nodded in agreement.

“I have always lamented that one of the Primarchs never accepted the mantel of Imperial Ruler,” said Darius. “But what is done is done, and for now, incompetence is the rule of thumb. Lets just hope that our souls won’t suffer because of it.”

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:40
Brusilov walked to the viewport. The armoured window shook violently as a macro-cannon hurled a magnetically-accelerated shell weighting several tons at the Archenemy. Putting his binoculars before his eyes, the Commissar-Lord watched with grim satisfaction the shell land in the midst of the enemy’s artillery positions. A Desolator was thrown into the air, its legs broken and its hull torn open along with tons of earth and rocks. It was too far to see the soldiers of the dark powers being shredded to bloody pulp but Brusilov could imagine it well enough.
‘How are things going?’ asked general Weynach.
‘Pretty well, I guess. The shield is holding, as his the side of the mesa. The macro-cannons are a little short-ranged but then so are the enemy’s guns.’
The Branican nodded.
‘The outer defences were abandoned however. We collapsed the tunnels and managed to blow up several depots so the enemy would use them to infiltrate the fortress. I’m impressed they held that long.’
Cormandel was ringed by small underground fortresses, with popup turrets for close range defence. They had given the enemy a hard time, thanks to heavy howitzers lobbing massive shells at their rear lines. But they had been stormed one after the other, as could be expected and were now either ruins or in enemy hands.
‘Couldn’t we bombard them from orbit?’
‘I’m afraid not. Admiral von Tirpitz sent down a message : the Chaos fleet is ordering for battle and slowly moving towards Cormandel. The Admiral does not believe they want to engage, they’re just showing their muscles, reminding us not to tempt anything, still a deadlock.’
‘And what of the Lord General?’
‘The reorganisation is proceeding on schedule, as far as I heard. The Saint is on her way with hundreds of Battle Sisters and thousands of the faithful, including many Frateris Militia.’
‘A ragtag army,’ the general remarked with disdain.
‘Maybe so, but we need all the guns we can get. We’re still outnumbered three or four to one right now.’

Ekaterina watched out from the window of her car as the train rolled in the declining afternoon light. She was impressed at how fast the railway guilds had organised the transportation of many thousands of people and dozens of vehicles, not to mention finding secure wagons for the penitents the Ecclesiarchy had brought with them.
What also amazed the Saint was the number of people flocking to her cause, ever increasing the number of faithful following her. It was everything from pilgrims who found themselves stuck on Branica and wanted to see the Saint to the crazed fanatical cults like the Order of the Sacred Flame.
If all went well, they should reach the train depot in the city of Tiraspol by tomorrow morning. There they would join the Imperial forces stationed there and participate in the counter push that would liberate Cormandel.
But what worried Ekaterina more was the dreams she had. This meant Zymran was up to something. There were repeating signs of a great catastrophe looming over the horizon. But she would not shy away from her responsibilities.

Carthac walked through the dark corridors of the cathedral. In the distance he could hear the choir singing praises to the dark gods, but he paid them no attention. His mind was focused on his task. The time for greatness had come finally. He had promised it and he knew he would deliver. Daemons held to their bargain, contrary to mortals. Zymran would pay for his treachery, for treating him like dirt, for failing to see he was a chosen of the gods as well, and most importantly for tricking him and not paying him his dues.
The Traitor Marine fumed as he entered the circular room decorated with twisted gargoyles of black stone. Instantly, two dozen Janissaries dropped to their knees and bow deeply before their lord.
‘You may rise,’ Carthac said with a tone that commanded respect and showed he was used to authority, ‘Lord Zymran has given us a mission of the utmost importance.’
Carthac laughed inwardly. The daemon had promised he would get Zymran to send him on this crucial task and he had delivered. Even now, he could hear his whispers in his ear, counselling him.
‘The Emperor’s whore is our target,’ Carthac continued, ‘we shall travel by air to the heart of the enemy and deliver them a blow from which they shall never recover.’
The Janissaries clasped their fist across their chest, right on their heart.
‘For the Glory of Chaos! For the Madhi!’
As the Janissaries marched out, followed by Zymran, a massive form hid in a shadow, its yellow eyes glaring with hatred. When he was sure Carthac was gone, Arkyl stepped into the light, its dark red Terminator armour reflecting the light of the massive candelabra hanging overhead.
‘You shall not escape this time, half-breed.’

Within the depths of Cormandel, the Serunites watched as the Host received another visitor. They exchanged a few words in a language they could not understand and the man was off again, back into the shadows.
‘Who are they?’ finally asked the leader of the Serunites.
‘Agents of the Madhi,’ the Host replied directly into his mind.
‘The Madhi has agents here? Then what does he need us for?’
‘You are an escort and you shall open the doors of the fortress when the time comes. I am the one needed here. Without me, the ritual cannot be accomplished and the splendour of Chaos cannot come worth to scour this place full of heathens. It shall be glorious.’
Even if the Host spoke directly into his mind, the Serunite could sense his eagerness and his joyful anticipation of that event.
‘When the time comes, if I tell you something, you shall obey. Your life and your soul shall depend on it.’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:42
Anya Lohji watched with great interest as Lomonosov trudged his way through massive piles of reports from both the local police and the Arbites. Despite the Lexmechanic’s ability to analyse vast amounts of data in a very short time it was still a time-consuming effort. And time was something the Interrogator unfortunately had in very short supply. The Calculus Logi had already dealt with the computerised archives but to no results, leaving this mountain of paper.
The young woman was going through a list of possible leads Lomonosov had found, double checking his sources and trying to discover if something required further investigation. It was both a frustrating and dangerous job. Frustrating because Anya had spent the last day searching through data to no effect, and dangerous because she had to keep sharp, lest a crucial clue slip between her fingers.
‘Here,’ she said, pointing at a name on the list, ‘the Workers’ Union of the Emperor’s Salvation.’
Lomonosov did not look up but Anya knew all relevant data would now be in this mind.
‘Pretty high on my list too, but what makes you think it’s linked with the enemy’s plans.’
‘First, it’s a religious union, a perfect cover for cultists. Second, it has access to several key installations here on Cormandel. On top of that, it had a large presence in the coastal regions, especially the starport-city of Gholein. The reports from the Arbites note that it is highly compartmentalised and hierarchised. It is also proselytising and its beliefs are not in line with the dogma on this world. And let’s not forget secretive initiation rituals.’
‘Interesting, but not on top of my list. What makes you think they have anything to do with the enemy?’
‘But I did some digging up on them. I searched the police and Arbites archives for reports much older than what we’d agreed upon. Roughly 35 years ago, there was a change of leadership in the Union. Suddenly it found itself with larges sums of money to donate, meaning people flocked to them, and a new leadership. More importantly, this coincides within the spectrum of a couple months with the purges on Coralies by the Ordo Hereticus, the archives of which indicate the heretical leader known as Mirak the Treacherous escape. Most importantly, the change within the Union corresponds to Mirak’s modus operandi.”
Lomonosov nodded, still plunged into his work.
‘Then I think it’s worth investigating.’

Two hours later, Anya had gathered a force of several hundreds local enforcers, Arbites Judges and two squads of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers. The different forces would launch a simultaneous attack on all assets of the Workers’ Union in Cormandel. The Interrogator had hoped to coordinate the attack across the whole planet but it was night on impossible in so short a time. Decapitating the cult within the fortress was all that mattered for now anyway.
In one simultaneous swipe, the Arbites and police descended upon the offices, the churches and all other properties of the Workers’ Union. Sirens wailed across the city, as Rhinos and Repressors carried prisoners back to the Precincts. It went peacefully, people being too surprised to realise what was going on.
In several places, including the main office in Cormandel and a small church in the factory district, people fired upon the police and Arbites. Feeling vindicated in their action by this unexpected resistance, the Arbites stormed the buildings.
Anya came right behind them into the small church. The scene spoke of the efficiency of the agents of the Lex Imperialis. Bodies littered the floor of the chapel, benches were overturned and the walls showed the marks of explosions and a furious firefight – schrapnel from frag grenades and huge holes from Executioner shells.
But there were no signs of heresy for now and doubt crept into the Interrogator’s mind. They were erased when she saw the body of an Arbitrator flying up from the crypt, crashing into a column and falling limply to the floor. Seconds later, three more Judges walked back up, unloading their shotguns and the incoming threat.
The enemy floated into the room. It was a half-naked man, its skin and eyes alive with psychic energy. His face was distorted with hatred and warp fire escaped from his gaping mouth.
One of the Arbites spontaneously caught fire. The living torch ran around screaming, whole the others fired another volley. The bullets either bounced off some kind of shield or the wounds were healed as fast as they were inflicted. The psyker shoved the remaining Arbitrators out of his way and turned his attention to the Interrogator.
He unleashed a writhing inferno of purple flames that engulfed Anya. But she was unharmed. The Untouchable rogue, Jak Destrus, stood at her right, a smirk on his face.
‘Surprised, aren’t you my little heretical friend?’
The Untouchable walked forward and the psyker backed away, his senses confused. Anya levelled her bolt pistol and fired. The psy-bolt hit the psyker in the chest, sending him reeling and howling with pain. The next one almost tore his left arm apart, leaving it limp and bloody at his side.
In a crazed pain, the psyker threw himself at the Interrogator but was both intercepted by Jak’s nullifying power and another bolt. Such resilience was uncommon and Anya started to believe the man could be a daemonhost. She now loomed over the man, who tried to crawl away in pain from both his wounds and the oppressive presence of the Untouchable. Anya fired and the man’s head exploded like a ripe fruit, showering the floor with blood, brain and bone splinters.

The Host could feel the agitation in the fortress. He could sense some of his brethren die. With his mind’s eye, he saw the agents of the Corpse God scouring Cormandel from the presence of the Workers’ Union of the Emperor’s Salvation.
‘It seemed you shall have to start anew somewhere else, Mirak.’
‘No matter,’ replied the demagogue and agent provocateur with a shrug, ‘they were doomed anyway. We still have hosts hidden where they’ll have trouble finding them. We can throw them a few more bones to gnaw at for the time being.’
‘We must be careful,’ replied the Host, ‘they’re on to us. And they know where to strike to wound us.’
‘The Inquisition is involved,’ replied Mirak, as if the mere mention of the secretive organisation explained everything.
‘True, but I sense a presence working against us. And that bothers me. But you are right, in a few hours it shall no longer matter.’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:42
The bombardment had gone on for three days unabated now. The void shields of Cormandel held strong against the onslaught of the Archenemy’s artillery. The Desolators pound the fortress day and night and trenches crept slowly forward, bringing more artillery to bear. The reply from the Imperials was merciless. Massive macro-cannon shells tore the earth open, sending shredded men and machines flying.
It was all a pretence. Zymran watched with satisfaction his decoy playing out before his eyes. That such a massive display of force, with millions of soldiers and thousands of guns, could be nothing but a deception was a testament to the glory of the Ruinous Powers. In the end they were all that mattered, not the frail flesh of countless servants, not the steel of weapons, only faith mattered. And True Faith would overcome any obstacle.
The Dark Apostle did not turn from the vista when he sensed his Sorcerer approach.
‘Is everything ready?’ he asked with a cool deep voice in which crept immeasurable power.
‘Yes, lord, everything is ready. The grand ritual is already underway, the pylons have been raised around Cormandel. Despite some trouble, the Host is ready to play his part.’
‘Trouble?’ Zymran asked, watching one of the Ordinatus fire its gun, the shield overloading and flickering out, and then the volley of shells landing on top of the squat mesa, bringing fiery destruction to the servants of the Corpse God.
‘It would seem the Inquisition is onto something. They have crushed the Workers’ Union of the Emperor’s Salvation. Marik escaped however. Nevertheless, the plan shall go as foreseen.’
‘It’d better, Marduk. I has been a long time in the making. And I will not have it fail now.’

Ekaterina had abandoned the train and left the flagellants, the fanatics and the cultists to make their way to the assembly area with most of the Sisters, while she led a group straight for Cormandel. By the time Lord General Guderian is informed it shall be too late to stop her.
She was the only one who could stop the ritual before it was too late, the only one aware of the dire consequences of failure. The Inquisition was doing its part she knew, but the Interrogator was doing too little too late.
The enemy had managed to draw away Drakkenhorst, to send him on some fool’s errand, probably into a deathtrap. And that was worrying. The Saint did not understand the importance the pawn Elric could have in the game they played against the forces of Chaos. He was a mighty warrior to be sure, but an agent of the enemy as well, even if an unwilling one.

Malyssia looked back at the gaunt and pale form following her up through the damp corridors. She wondered what his master could see in him that would be worth risking not only his life but his immortal soul as well. It seemed however that whatever Drakkenhorst had asked to tell him had given him renewed energy because he walked like someone with a purpose.
They had managed to avoid the enemy’s attention so far. But that would not last.
‘Do you know where the Stone of Tears is?’ asked the Death Cultist, as they waited in the dark for a patrol to pass.
‘What do you want with that?’
‘It’s our ticket out of here,’ she replied before urging him on.
‘You mean you have no other way to escape,’ his shoulders slumped, ‘I knew it sounded too good to be true.’
Malyssia had to restrain herself from slapping him out of his despair.
‘My master and I risked our neck for you, in fact we risk our very souls to save you from a fate you brought on yourself. I’ll be frank. I don’t understand what my master sees in you that is worth saving. You’re a spineless servant of Chaos who basks in self-loathing and bygone memories of things he helped to destroy. Snap out of it or it’s your neck I’ll snap.’
Anger crept in Elric’s voice.
‘How dare you! You don’t understand half of what I’ve been through. You are a born warrior, I am not. All I ever asked was to be left in peace and so did my people. War was forced upon us by the servants of your Emperor. Men clan in massive armour as black as the night swept down on our world. They call us heathens and abominations. Fire rained down from the sky as our cities burn and my people were slaughtered in the streets. Your sky warriors were merciless, not a single child, women or elderly survived. We had not known war for thousands of years, we were all but defenceless against people who wanted to kill us for the simple reason that we existed. So when I was offered a chance to strike back, I took it.
And for the first few thousands years I really enjoyed fighting back, killing the worthless servants of your Emperor. I very nearly lost myself in this lust for revenge. Finally I understood it was not what I wanted, I was weary of it all.
All I want is peace. And you come here, to use me in your war against Chaos, and you expect me to be grateful.’
‘Hush now, you’ll be mad at me all you want once we’re safe. Right now we need the Stone to get out of here.’
‘Alright, the Stone is in a tower, I’ll show you.’
‘And your gear?’
‘In a room at the bottom of that tower. But what about your master? Where is he?’
‘Trying to keep us as safe as possible from Arioch’s gaze.’

Drakkenhorst knew his pretence was coming to an end. Arioch’s scrutiny would soon pierce the whirlwind of emotions he’d gathered around himself to prevent the daemon lord from knowing. The Inquisitor concentrated all the psychic energy he’d gathered around himself and suddenly freed it. This release was sure to blind any beholder for a few instants, giving him the time he needed to get going.
He rose, opened the door and ran. His link to Malyssia meant he knew where she was. She could not guess where she was heading so he had to try and follow her. But she seemed to be free, for the moment at least.
After a few minutes of running through empty corridors, Drakkenhorst marched into a room that seemed like a twisted inner garden. At its centre a fountain sprinkled blood and the trees were deformed, their branches as claws reaching down to seize anyone who walked by them. More importantly however, four pale guards with polearms stood guard and saw him.
Without a word of warning they charged. The Inquisitor drew his blade. The massive two-handed sword screamed with righteous fury as it was released, the daemon trapped inside eager to spill the blood of its enemies.
The Inquisitor began to recite canticles to the Emperor with such devotion and belief that the words rippled through the warp. The daemons slowed, if only for an instant, dreading the might of the Master of Mankind. It was all that was needed. Drakkenhorst’s blade danced in his hand almost all by itself, the daemon eager to slaughter his ancestral enemies. With incredible grace for someone wearing a heavy suit of armour and wielding such a large sword, Drakkenhorst danced around the four guards, slashing and cutting. It was all ended in a matter of seconds.

Arioch outwardly maintain a calm demeanour as mortals wreaked havoc in his palace. The assassin was a whirlwind of death, striking here and there, seemingly at random. But the Daemon Prince knew they would want to recover Elric’s gear. And he was not about to lose it. Those were some of his prized possessions. The Inquisitor on the other hand was a steamroller crushing everything in its path and marching ever forward toward its target.
Doubt nagged at Arioch. The Stone of Tears also rested on the top of that tower, but the guardian would stop them, of that he had little doubt. For now he would play a little with them, their presence was an amusing distraction.

Malyssia spun around, her blade poised to strike, only to recognise the black armour inlaid with gold of her master. The Inquisitor had still his blade drawn, his armour and faced were splattered by dark and thick blood and his eyes were alive with psychic energy.
Upon seeing Elric, Drakkenhorst raised his blade in martial salute.
‘We finally meet Champion Eternal. I am Drakkenhorst.’
‘You seem to know a whole lot about me Inquisitor,’ replied Elric coldly.
‘So I do, but only because I did some research with the Eldar before coming here.’
Elric watched him intently for an instant.
‘You are a friend of the Eldar? I have trouble believing it.’
‘I would not say friend, but someone walking down the same road as they for now. We share the same enemy: Chaos.’
‘It will take more than your word for me to believe you, but for now it seems I have little choice. And I won’t endure another eternity of torment at Arioch’s hands.’
The Inquisitor only nodded his understanding before turning to Malyssia.
‘You did very well, I am impressed. I have brought your clothes with me.’
Both men turned around as Malyssia removed the loincloth and strapped herself back into her black bodyglove. She then moved to face the Inquisitor and a strange smile played across her face.
‘Those were naughty thoughts you had,’ she said gently, her gloved hand stroking Drakkenhorst’s chin, ‘you’ll have to make it up to me.’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:43
Imokolee

Hunter backed away from Dashor grasping his wounded right side trying to staunch the flow of blood. With his left hand he drew his Carolonian combat knife. It was part of every Carolonians kit and each trooper made their own at the end of their training. It was a right of passage to confirm that the trooper had indeed passed his grueling training and was now part of the Imperial Guard. Hunters knife, like many had a blade that was just a little over 14" long and 3" wide with a "D" guard on the handle.

"Lets finish this," Hunter said through gritted teeth. Hunter knew he had one last chance and one last trap, but he inadvertently looked at it.

Dashor caught the look and imediately lept to his right, his left foot landing on the tossed bannana peel. Before the agile assasin could react to regain his balance he had slipped and fallen, his head making a loud THUDON THE CONCRETE.

Hunter sputtered and laughed, but had to force himself to stop, due to the pain it caused his wound. He knew he wouldnt get another chance like this and moved quickly to Dashors prone form and placed his blade against his former comrades throat. Just as he was about to begin pushing he felt Dashors guantlet blades at his own throat.

*****************************************
Sasnak

"What is the temerature?" General kittle asked for the fifthteenth time.

"-32 Degrees sir," replied the weather trooper.

"Order General Varn to begin pulling back," Kittle said to his comms officer.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:45
Imokolee

"Well this herer is what I would call a real interestin sit-ye-ation," a voice said from the other end of the warehouse. "Ye got the big hairy one poised to cut off the cute one in tights head, but perty boy is gonna slice big and ugly's throat. Now personally me thinks the big ugly one will live longer, but only by a few seconds."

Hunter and Jagdus looked to the sound of the voice and saw a greasy looking gang boss with no less than twenyty-five gangers in a semi-circle watching them, guns leveled. More gangers came in as they watched. By mutual agreement they took their blades away from each others neck and stood. Hunter stood more slowly.

"Awww now thats a shame," the gang leader said slowly. "I thought we'uns would see a desperate struggle there far a while. Oh well its all da same ta us'ins seein' as how we gonna kill yu'ins anyhows. Now der big hairy one we'uns'll kill first. But perty boy in them thar tights we can have a lil fun with." The gang leader gave a wicked and sadistic grin.

"This bastard talks more than Mikarovic," Hunter mumbled as he lit a cigar. Slowly his hand eased toward a hold out stub pistol on his belt. He was ready to make a last stand and knew that Dashor was as well, he estimated that nearly one hundred gangers were now in the warehouse. Jagdus nodded in agreement and then sprang into action. Hunter drew the small pistol and fired at the ganghitting two out of the three shots the small pistol had.

Hunter took a step back as a ganger threw himself at him andsidestepped the attack. As the ganger went by he plunged the D-guard knife sideways into the mans rib cage. Then he turned the knife so that the massive blade was now upright, he heard the satisfying snap of a rib breaking and then pushed down further seperating the rib. The ganger howled in pain and Hunter pulled the blade free and pushed him away.

Hunter was about to seek another target when a massive hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. Hunter was about to attack his latest attacker when he heard the roar of three bolts guns and one melta gun. Hef stood over the Warmaster firing his own bolt pistol while gutting another ganger on his powersword. Hagar knelt down and placed a homing beacon before tham and then turned it on. "Warmaster please cover your eyes," Hef said, more an order than a request.

Hunter knew what was about to take place and did as he was told. Barely had he gotten his hand over his eyes when a bright flash followed by the snap of a small sonic boom from the displacement of air occured in the warehouse. Ten terminators stood before the Warmaster and began to terminate the gangers with extreme predjudice. The red and gold terminators of the Iron Avengers sprayed them with bildgun and assault cannon shells, while the Salamanders torched them with burning promethium.

Suddenly a hole was blasted in the roof and Carolonian Highlanders began to fast rope into the ware house and finish off the gangers. More were outside securing the perimeter. "Dont look up, Hunter thought as he remembered the myth that surrounded the Highlanders and their kilts and what they wore, or didnt wear under them. "How did ya find me?" he asked Hef.

"Followed the body trail you and Dashor left behind," Was the Astartes answer. It was the last thing Hunter remembered before he passed out from loss of blood.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:45
'We've made it,' Elric pointed at the brass doors at the end of the corridor, 'the tower of oblivion.'
Wearily the three mortals strode to the doors, weapons ready. The palace was now on a war footing and Arioch was sending all his guards and monstrous servants after them.
They walked into a gigantic circular room. The floor and walls was covered with white marble and the domed ceiling was inlaid with gold. A mosaic occupied the very centre of the vast chamber.
'This is the lair of the daemon Arachia, first guardian of the tower of oblivion.'
No sooner had Elric pronounced these words that a massive spider appeared out of thin air. Her body glittered like black lackered steel and her dozen red eyes focused on the trespassers, massive mandibles snapping with anticipation. She moved on the walls, assessing her preys.
'Where's the exit?' asked the Inquisitor.
'No exit, this room is a lift, we have to get to the middle level to grab my gear and to the top level if you really want the stone of tears.'
'Throne of Earth,' mumbled Drakkenhorst, realising this was not going to be easy, 'where's the switch?'
'It's the mosaic in the centre of the room, I know how to use it.'
'Good,' the Inquisitor turned to Malyssia,' make sure he stays in one piece. I'll get the attention of that spider.'

Malyssia and Elric immediately started to move for the centre of the room. Arachia seemed about to follow but was suddenly slammed against the wall by an invisible force and almost lost her footing. She hissed and glared at Drakkenhorst, who was looking at with a smug smile.
Again, the Inquisitor used his psychic abilities to slap the daemon. This was not the most complicated not the most effective power in his arsenal but it was sure to get her attention.
The spider suddenly jumped from the wall and landed on top of the Inquisitor. Drakkenhorst stepped away just in time to avoid the mandibles severing his head. He thrust his blade toward the vulnerable mouth but it was deflected by a leg. Another tried to stab him but the Inquisitor gracefully dodged, bringing his sword for a counter-blow. The blade screamed with hatred of Chaos and cut the leg neatly.
The spider recoiled as thick black blood dripped on the floor. She jumped back to the ceiling, out of reach of the sword and moved toward the centre to stop the others.
But the Inquisitor continued his relentless assault. This time, putting his full psyhic force behind the attack he unleashed bolts of warp lightning that slammed into the daemon abdomen. Arachia was sent flying across the room and Drakkenhorst came after her chanting the Canticle of Absolution.
He almost lost his footing when the room started raising. The spider jumped back to its feet and parried the strike aimed at its head. The Inquisitor and the daemon sparred for a few moments, dancing across the room, blade against leg as hard as steel. Drakkenhorst realised the tip of a leg was not the only weapon, the sides were sharp as razors and a small wound on his cheek when he had not been quite fast enough proved it.
'Get Elric's gear now!' the Inquisitor shouted.

Elric ran into the room he knew so well, the armour of black meteoric iron rested on a stand but his attention first went to the Hand and Eye of Kwll and his blade.
With dreadful anticipation he grabbed the metal gauntled with six fingers and inlaid with jewels and placed it on his severed arm. He screamed with pain and horror, falling to his knees as the hand fused with his flesh. But seconds later, it was ended and the Champio flexed his recovered hand.
Respectfully he grabbed the ruby that was the Eye and inserted it into the empty eye socket. Elric felt as if his brain was boiling. He maintained the Hand of the Eye while grabbing the veil and placing it around his head.

Drakkenhorst knew the battle with the daemon could go on forever, but while the beast was tireless he was not. He had to find a way to make a quick decision or he would be overwhelmed.
'Arachia,' someone shouted behind him, 'unless you want to taste my blade, I advise you to get out of the way.'
The spider-daemon moved back out of reach and the Inquisitor cast a quick glance behind him.
Elric, armoured from head to toe in a black armour, with the bizarre gauntlet and ruby eye, was wielding a large sword of black metal covered with glowing runes.
The daemon recognised the threat and disappeared back the way it came.
'Let's find the stone of tears now,' announced Elric with newfound resolve in his voice.

Arioch was furious. Arachia would pay for her cowardice. Thankfully the mightiest of his guardians still awaited them. And if need be he would intervene himself. No one would lay a finger on the stone of tears.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:46
Elric reactivated the elevator and the circular room rose again. After a good minute, it stopped once more and the massive bronze doors swung open, reviling a long corridor. On either sides statues of twisted beings their face showing untold horror stood on pedestal. The ghastly light of torches held by severed arms gave the place a foreboding atmosphere with many shadows from which beasts could spring in an instant.
‘At the other end of this corridor lies the room with the stone of tears. I know not what lies there, only that it should be here,’ remarked Elric, his grasp on his sword strengthening
Drakkenhorst nodded and led the way.
The three of them walked carefully, the boots making low thumping sounds on the marble floor. They looked around from time to time, sensing someone was watching them but never able to see who it was. More unnerving, the statues themselves seemed to follow their progression with their stone eyes.
‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this,’ muttered Malyssia.

When they finally reached the middle of the corridor, low cracking sounds were heard. Now they were certain the statues were moving. And indeed, one by one they climbed down from their pedestal, their massive deformed limbs swinging wildly in front of them as they tried to reach the trespassers.
‘We make for the door!’ shouted the Inquisitor as he started to smash aside and shatter statues that stood in his way.
Elric moved to bring the rear, his own massive blade hacking the abominations to pieces. He then realised they were not made of stone as they had first believe, but were mutants who had been ordered or spelled to be stile as rock until an enemy passed them by. Still they came on, crawling forward, limping or even comically jumping on one leg. Drakkenhorst unleashed a wave of psychic energy that sent a few of them flying in all directions and crashing into walls. They shattered in a sickening sound of broken bones and did not get back up.
‘Break them apart! Pound them to goo!’ yelled the Inquisitor over the sound of hacked flesh and the low whailing of the mutants.
Elric instantly changed style, wielding his blade in his left hand while his gauntlet smashed the statues to pieces in showerq of blood. The Eternal Champion quickly glanced around to see how Drakkenhorst and Malyssia were doing. It was a slow going but the Inquisitor used his psychic powers like a hammer to crush all opposition. Malyssia was dancing quickly around the enemies, covering her master’s flanks, cutting them apart piece by piece with each graceful movement.

Finally they reached the door of dark steel at the other end of the corridor. Behind them over a hundred mutants pursued them with the determination of non-life.
‘Does anyone know how to open that door?’ the Inquisitor asked, pounding his gauntleted fist against the metal.
‘I think we have a bigger problem right now,’ noted Elric with detachment.
‘Well, I guess it’s time for a demonstration of the power of the Hand of Kwll,’ smirked Drakkenhorst.
‘How do you… nevermind… You’re right obviously,’ retorted the Eternal Champion, not sure how the Inquisitor knew of such things.
Elric removed the veil from before the jewelled Eye of Kwll and peered into the netherworld of the Realms of Chaos. There he saw a dozen forms, waiting with the patience of undeath to do his bidding. His gauntleted hand extended into the netherworld, the jewels on its surface glowing with inner fire.
‘Servants of Kwll, come unto me! Claim this enemy and be free!’
Drakkenhorst was appalled by what burst out from the warp. Clad in battered and damaged red armour splattered with blood and gore, sometimes with limbs missing and faces twisted in the agony of death, the Sisters of Battle, still bearing the symbols of the Celestian bodyguards of Saint Ekaterina, marched upon their enemy with the determination of those that no longer lived. They delivered a volley of bolts at point blank, shredding the first rank of mutants to bloody pulp. The lull in the enemy onslaught allowed them to take a step back toward the door and unleash another volley, with the same effect.
‘We’ve won a few instants,’ remarked Elric, ‘I don’t know if they can win against so many.’
‘We need a key,’ noted Malyssia who was looking at the door with attention.
‘Throne of Terra, that was unexpected. Simple yet effective, we don’t have the time to open that door the hard way.’
Malyssia, who had turned to speak with her companions, suddenly jumped into the frey. With the catlike grace of a dancer, she jumped, rolled and somersaulted out of harm’s way. She back flipped away from the claws of a massive mutant and Drakkenhorst noted she got something lying on the ground.
‘We must help her,’ the Inquisitor shouted, ‘she has the key.’
Without waiting for a reaction, he ran to assist the Death Cultist, to cut a bloody path for her back to the relative safety of the doorstep. Elric followed his blade rased.
Seconds later, Malyssia almost crashed into the Inquisitor. She almost laughed as Drakkenhorst pulled her behind the wall of dead battle sisters who still fought to exterminate them.
‘I saw a chest explode and the key being thrown into the air. I had to get it before it was lost to my sight.’
‘I really am impressed,’ answered Elric, watching as the Inquisitor helped Malyssia get her footing.
‘The honour is yours, open the door,’ Drakkenhorst gestured gracefully.

‘They opened the door! They opened the DOOR!’ Arioch screamed with anger.
He stepped from his throne and his form changed from the faceless being clad in black robes into a muscular beast with multiple faces melted into one. Leathery wings sprouted from his back and started flapping, sending several of the closest servants flying across the throne room.
Alive with fury, Arioch soared into the sky, smashing the roof open to get to the tower more quickly.

The black doors opened silently and closed as soon as the three of them had stepped through it.
‘I don’t understand the architecture of this place,’ remarked Malyssia, ‘this immensely long corridor should have led us out of the tower…’
‘We are in the Realm of Chaos, logic does not hold sway here. A small building could contain in whole world if the master of that place wished it so.’
But everyone’s attention shifted to the centre of the room when an angry hiss attracted their attention. A colonnade surrounded the circular chamber and the floor was a mosaic that represented the eight-pointed star of Chaos. Tapestries representing scenes of the destruction of Vardagh hanged from the walls between the pillars. On a pedestal of bronze, at the intersection of all the branches of the star, rested the stone of tears. It was the size of a fist, spheroid, translucent and pulsing slowly like a heart.
But what really caught everyone’s attention was the guardian. Its upper half was the naked body of a women, partially covered with bluish scales and two pairs of limbs. Long purple hair flowed gracefully on her shoulders but her face was twisted with a hateful snarl. She hissed again and a long split tongue lashed out of her mouth. Her eyes were as hypnotic as that of snake. Her lower body was serpentine and seemed to stretch forever, coiling protectively around the pedestal.
Suddenly Arioch crashed through the roof, screaming with hatred. He landed heavily, smashing apart the mosaic and sending pieces of painted stones flying.
‘You shall not have the stone! I shall make you suffer!’ He bellowed.
‘I’ll take care of him,’ Elric shouted, ‘get the stone!’
And the Champion Eternal charged his master.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:49
Ekaterina knew she was running out of time. She could feel it. And she also knew she made a perfect target there, with a little escort of only a squad of Seraphim, as the Walkyrie roared forward toward Cormandel. The fortress was totally surrounded so getting there by air was the only way. But it was a dangerous one as well, they’d be easy prey for the Archenemy’s AA defence or for a patrol of enemy aircrafts.
But strangely enough it was all very quiet. They had not yet reached the enemy lines but they would soon enough. Borrowing the VTOL transport had been the most sensible choice although both Lord General Guderian and the Navy staff had protested against such a decision. Thankfully she had not contacted Brusilov, who was still in mortal danger in the confines of the fortress. The Commissar would probably have had a heart attack, had he known she was coming.
Suddenly completely, out of the blue, the Walkyrie banked violently and the pilot yelled in the vox “Incoming!” Peering through the side port, the Saint saw two plumes of smoke coming for different directions and converging on their aircraft. The Walkyrie banked again, dodging a third missile. This was all too carefully planned to be just Chaos troops taking pot shots at them.
The Walkyrie zigzagged as best as it could, launching decoys to throw the missiles off its tail. One detonated on a expending ball of aluminium, but the other two kept coming. Ekaterina had been provided with the best pilot they had, and the man certainly seemed competent enough.
But a Walkyrie was not a nimble fighter, like a Lightning, or even a Thunderbolt. The missiles kept on coming closer and closer. Finally one of them hit the left wing, sending the transport into a downward spiral. The last missile detonated harmlessly when its fuel expanded.
With incredible skill, the pilot more or less managed to bring the Walkyrie level but it was losing altitude fast.
‘Jump!’ he yelled, ‘Jump!’
Without waiting for further instructions, Sister Superior Alyssia pushed the Saint out of the Walkyrie, before jumping herself, activating her jump pack. The rest of the Seraphim followed. Ekaterina flew on wing of faith and landed gracefully on the ground.

The Seraphim landed instants later, immediately forming a protective circle around the Saint. In the distance, a ball of fire indicated the Walkyrie had crashed somewhere. But right now, the Battle Sisters had other problems.
Dozens of Traitor Guardsmen emerged from the snow, hidden before by white cloaks. More importantly, A Word Bearer was among them. He towered above the humans like a demi-god. There was something familiar about him, a self-satisfied smirk and lascivious gaze.
‘Carthac…’ Ekaterina recognised the former governor of Camulod.
‘I am so glad to meet you again whore. I would have hoped it would be more pleasing circumstances, but well…’
‘So Zymran’s lapdog has come to capture me,’ she goaded.
Carthac laughed.
‘Zymran is an imbecile and a fool. I serve a greater master.’
‘Daelhg’gkor. You serve the Betrayer. You are even more stupid than I first thought. The Daemon will toy with you for a time and discard you, and your suffering will probably even greater than at the hands of Zymran.’
‘Don’t think me a fool! Zymran lacks vision! He treated me like dirt! Daelhg’gkor offered me true greatness!’
‘You’re not even worthy to lick the mud off my boots Carthac. Zymran and the Betrayer both know. You’re a weasel.’
Carthac seemed to barely restrain his rage.
‘I will enjoy hearing you scream and beg for mercy. Too bad I’ll have to finish it quickly. Zymran would have made it last for days. That’s the only I’ll give him. He would have tortured you with great pleasure and I would have enjoyed to hear it. But that does not mean I can’t have my way with you, for a while at least. Kill her escort, but keep her alive for now.

Without waiting for the Traitors to act the Seraphim unleashed a volley of bolts before all jumping in one direction, trying to cut themselves a way out of this trap. Carthac ignored all other targets and concentrated solely on the Saint, shoving aside anyone who stood in his way or hacking them to piece with his massive power sword.
The Seraphim were pushing Ekaterina away from the fight, throwing themselves in the way of the enemy to allow her to escape. Escorted by two Sisters, the Saint thought she might have flee when six massive forms stepped out of darkness of the wood they were hoping to hide in. Their massive gothic armour was heavily adorned with litanies of faith written on patches of human skin, impurity seals made of black wax, runes and sigils painted over their Terminator suit. Their helmets were snarling horned beasts and they wielded a assortment of old combi-bolters with gargoyle muzzles, antiquated power blades and massive power fists. Their leader had a pair of vicious looking lightning claws.
‘Going somewhere?’ asked the Chaos Terminator mockingly.
Casting a quick glance behind, Ekaterina saw the battle had died down as everyone stared at the Chosen. Carthac had paled.
‘Arkyl,’ he mumble weakly, ‘what a pleasant surprise…’
‘Not so pleasant when I rip you open and bring you screaming to my master. Zymran has known for a very long time you are nothing more than a coward and a betrayer. And he also knew of Daelhg’gkor’s treachery. You underestimate my lord.’
‘Kill them!’ shouted Carthac before fleeing in the other direction as fast as his legs could take him.
The Terminators gave none the time to react. The bolters fired with deadly accuracy and hacked both Traitors and Sisters to bloody pieces.
‘Flee, my lady!’ shouted Alyssia as she threw herself at the Terminators.
Ekaterina turned and ran. From the corner of her eyes, she saw the leader striding after her, pointed at her with his taloned gauntlet. A pack of wild beasts ran out of the woods. They were massive deformed hounds with large maws full of sharp teeth and powerful legs. The beasts were no match for her, but they would slow her down enough for this Arkyl to catch up.
The Saint ran on wings of faith as fast as she could but still the hounds were gaining on her. Finally she knew she could not outrun them and turned around, weapon in hand to face them. As they were about to jump on her, she made a wide sweeping arc with her blade, unleashing a wave of holy fire that burned three of them. Two went running, burning alive while the last simply collapsed dead. That left another three, and the massive form of the Terminator looming behind them.
One of the hounds lunged for her throat but Ekaterina backhanded him with her gauntleted fist, breaking its nose and sending him flying back yelping. The other two were more careful and turned around her, trying to divide her attention. Decisively, she stroke one with a downward sweep of her massive blade that almost cleaved the beast in two, sending blood flying on the snow and her pure white tabard. The last one jumped on her back, trying to catch her skull between its massive jaws to crush them. The weight of the beast made her stagger a few steps and fall.
She grabbed the hound’s neck two-handed in an awkward manner as she was on her belly and twisted. With satisfaction she heard the spine snap and pushed the dead weight off her, while picked up her blade.
Her face came face to face with the crackling energy of a lightning claw, belonging to the massive Terminator towering over her. She had failed. Those few seconds had been more than enough for him to catch up.
‘Drop the blade, whore. I have to spare your life, on orders from my master, but that does not mean I cannot give you pain if you resist.’
In the distance, Ekaterina could see the Terminators drawing close. Even if she managed to kill the leader standing over her, they would be all over her. She let go of the sword.
‘Good, now stand up.’
She stood up. As she did, she heard the deafening sound of a landing aircraft. Her hopes soared for an instant as she recognised it as a Thunderhawk. Her hopes were crushed when she turned around to see the marking on its side, the flaming horned skull of the Word Bearers.
Two individuals, looking strangely like techpriests, marched down, bearing chains between them. They immediately set to work on her, restraining her tightly. They locked the chains with bizarre constructions that radiated warp energy.
‘I would advise you do not use any of your abilities while in chains, or they will react in the most vicious of manners,’ hissed one of the techpriests.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:51
Zymran watched with anticipation as he felt the power surge build within the fortress of Cormandel. The ritual was nearly finished and the hour of glory was finally at hand. He turned around to see Arkyl marching up the snowy hill with someone in chains. He smiled like a hungry predator when he saw who it was.
Standing regally under the large banner of Chaos, he waited for the Saint to be brought to him. Arkyl clasped his gauntleted hand on his chest as a salute and brought worth Ekaterina.
‘The Emperor’s whore… So we meant again dear,’ Zymran mocked, ‘have you lost your tongue?’
‘I have nothing to say to one such as you, slave to Chaos,’ she spat back.
‘Ah, you still show spirit, good. It will be all the better to break you then. But first I’d like you to stand and watch this most glorious moment with me,’ the Apostle turned his attention to Arkyl, ‘what of the traitor?’
‘I failed you my lord. He escaped.’
‘Nonsense Arkyl. You managed fine. Carthac and the Betrayer are on the run, but I have what I came here for. The hour of my Ascension is almost at hand.’
He looked down at the Saint, eldritch fire burning in his eyes.
‘You shall see. I have great plans for this world. But I am sure you’ve seen them. Red sky, the standards of Chaos flying high, the city of Shanalorn in ruins. It will all come to pass. But first you shall bear witness to the destruction of Cormandel. And it shall be the last thing you see, I will burn out your eyes after that, to prepare you for your true purpose : a mighty offering to the Gods of Chaos!’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:52
Even if massive claw met the dark runic blade, the battle between Elric and Arioch was a duel of minds. It was a struggle for dominance between a Daemon Prince and its former slave, between one of the mightiest beings of the Warp and a mortal whose life had been broken by the twisted power of Chaos.
Drakkenhorst’s attention was focussed on something else altogether: the guardian and the stone of tears. The beast was incredible powerful and its many arms made it nigh on impossible to place a blow. On top of that, its tail’s end was a barbed mace the daemon swung back and forth, trying to throw the Inquisitor or the Death Cultist to the ground for a killing blow. Its immense body coiled around them, almost inclosing them, forcing their attention either to the wall of steel or the tail.
As if they were of one mind, Drakkenhorst and Malyssia set a plan in motion. The Inquisitor drew the guardian’s attention by a series of daring all out attacks, unleashing the full fury of his blade and psychic abilities. While he kept the beast occupied, Malyssia flipped gracefully over the large snake-like body of the daemon and landed straight in front of the pedestal holding the stone of tears.
The battle between Elric and Arioch was wreaking havoc into the circular room. They had felled pillars and scared the mosaic on the ground and burnt several tapestries. The Daemon Prince leaped toward the pedestal when he saw the Death Cultist reach out to take the stone. His wings took him across the chamber and he landed on top of her.
But it was an instant too late, with the grace of a cat, Malyssia rolled out of the way and held the stone aloft in one hand.
‘If you move, I drop it,’ she said with grim determination.
Arioch stopped dead in its tracks and the guardian’s assault ceased, two of its blades poised to cut Drakkenhorst to ribbons. Then the Daemon Prince laughed.
‘You think such an artefact can be broken so easily. Hand this back to me, now,’ he demanded and he took a step forward.
Not expecting such a reaction, Malyssia shot a question glance to her master.
Drakkenhorst’s mind raced. Why would Arioch be so careful if he believed Malyssia could not destroy the stone? He focused his inner vision on the stone and saw power licking from it, great swirls of psychic energy, coiling around Malyssia’s hand and creeping up her arm. The stone was glowing more intensely as well.
‘Hand me the stone,’ growled Arioch, showing his fangs.
Malyssia took a few careful steps back, her gaze meeting that of the Daemon Prince. Drakkenhorst’s attention remained focussed on the guardian who could try to strike the Death Cultist from behind. From the corner of his eye, the Inquisitor saw Elric running behind the colonnade, keeping well out of reach of Arioch, but trying to get to Malyssia.
The swirling warp energy was ever-expanding, now reaching up the Cultist’s shoulder. Her whole arm seemed stiff, maintaining the stone in an iron grip. Tears started to roll down her cheeks.
‘Hand over the stone,’ Arioch now smiled, ‘otherwise the woe, the dread, the terror of the countless souls trapped within will overcome you and eventually kill you. And then you shall join them.’
Malyssia cast a desperate glance at the Inquisitor, begging for his assistance.
Elric jumped out from behind the colonnade and grabbed the stone of tears with the gauntleted Hand of Kwll. Arioch roared with anger but did not approach.
Picking himself up carefully, maintaining the stone within the gauntlet, Elric showed it to both the Daemon Prince and the Guardian.
‘Now provide us with a means to escape this accursed realm or your precious trinket will be crushed.’

The trip back to the Webway portal was fast and quiet. Arioch provided them each with massive white bats that flew them to the cave where the portal was hidden. The Daemon Prince had taken back its human form of the faceless man dressed in black robes and he rode on a flying chariot pulled by four black horses with eyes afire and flames coming out of their nostrils.
‘How are we to open the portal again?’ asked Malyssia, ‘didn’t the Harlequin close it down after we passed through?’
‘So he did, but the portal can still be opened from this side, if one knows how to do it?’
‘And do you?’
‘No, but he does,’ Drakkenhorst pointed at Elric, ‘don’t you?’
‘I do, this is how I travelled to many worlds from here to do Arioch’s bidding. The Daemon does not know how to do it, and even if he did, that would be of no help because he couldn’t use that knowledge.’
‘He won’t reveal his knowledge to anyone. This was one of the privileges of being Prince of Vardagh. He could commune with the Eldar.’
Elric only nodded grimly.
The cave was as they had left it, dark and immense, with the bizarre contraption that was the closed Webway portal in its centre. Arioch watched with interest as the Champion Eternal set to work on the controls of the portal, the stone still in his right hand.
The portal opened like thunder without sound, revealing a pool standing aloft in the centre of the cave. On the other side was the tunnels of the Webway. Drakkenhorst and Malyssia stepped through first and as Elric was about to follow them he threw the stone of tears at his former master.
‘For my lord Arioch,’ he mocked before disappearing.
Instantly the portal closed leaving a furious Arioch to scream curses at his former slave.
Once in the Webway, Drakkenhorst bowed to the Solitaire, still waiting for them.
‘I am impressed,’ the Eldar remarked, ‘I did not think you could come back.’
‘Neither did I,’ answered the Inquisitor, ‘Let me introduce Elric Jhaelen Irsei, Champion Eternal.’
Elric bowed and started speaking Eldar with such ease that it seemed as if it were his mother tongue. Even the Solitaire was taken aback.
‘I am sorry to interrupt, but we must hurry. I fear we are already too late.’

‘We are too late,’ noted Ashafar’yirraith matter-of-factly.
‘Why do you think so Idainn?’ asked Dinillainn, watching as the Eldar fleet exited the Webway in the middle of the Branican system, hidden behind the moon of a massive gas giant.
‘I have sensed the pathways of fate close, child. Some options are now forever lost to us. Events that we can no longer stop are now in motion. Victory has slipped through our fingers we can only hope to salvage what we can from this catastrophe.’
‘Why? I did not sense anything.’
‘You have still much travelling to do on the Path of the Seer to sense such tiny details but I did. The Saint has been captured. She acted recklessly, an action we could have prevented because we could have reasoned her. She came into the open and Zymran seized the occasion. A dark veil is now covering the world of Branica. We can still avert a total disaster that would be a terrible blow to both the Imperium and the Eldar, but some things cannot be stopped now.’
‘What? What did you see?’
‘I saw red clouds covering the sky of Branica, I saw the armies of the Emperor dead, I saw the city of Shanalorn burning, I saw Zymran’s shadow extending across the world, I saw daemons running free in the ruined streets of burnt cities. I felt despair and sorrow, I smelled death and decay. But I also felt burning hatred and righteous faith, I sensed the power of the Dark Gods engulfing this world. I saw a hole in reality swallowing us all.’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:53
The end was nigh. The Host could feel it in the air. It was thick with psychic energy. One of the Serunites, probably more sensible to the warp than the others, was nose bleeding. The barrier between the worlds was weakening with each passing moment as the ritual was drawing to a close.
It had been a complicated procedure. A first ritual, taking place in Gholein, had attracted the daemons of the warp to Branica with the slaughters of battle. It was like dropping blood in the sea, it was sure to attract the sharks. Now, outside Cormandel people were weakening the veil with complex rituals that entailed the sacrifice of many slaves and prisoners.
From time to time, the Host could sense the hunger of the daemons, feel their touch on his skin. He knew the Serunites were whispering among themselves, that they were seeing monstrous ghosts. Soon it would be more than simple apparitions.
‘It is time,’ the Host said as he got up, ‘you’d better hide below the fortress, in the tunnels. The Madhi will come to get you out when it is all finished. You have done your duty well, he will be satisfied.’
The Host then marched out of the reservoir, up into the Citadel while the Serunites quickly gathered their belongings.

Anya was dissatisfied with the results. The Cult hiding within the trade union had been uprooted and exterminated. The latest reports from the Arbites showed the last pockets of resistance had been crushed with deadly efficiency. But there was something that did not add up. It seemed almost to easy.
‘I think we’ve only scratched the surface,’ she said to no one in particular, as she paced the command room of the Arbites precinct.
Arbitrator Majoris Dukan cast her a questioning glance.
‘What makes you think so my lady? That cult was well hidden, and quite powerful. A serious threat to the security of the fortress.’
‘I have no doubt about this. They could have easily sabotaged several key installations, but I don’t think they’re the real enemy here. The words written on the ceiling of the Astropathic Choir were much more ominous, much darker than an uprising of cultists, even with the assistance of unsanctioned psykers.’
The Arbites officer said nothing, such consideration were best left to the Inquisition.
Father Horatio, the fiery and mystic priest of Drakkenhorst’ retinue, came forward.
‘My lady, I believe you are right. I too had a dream of such dark and evil things running amok in the streets of this stronghold of the Emperor’s faith. I saw a pentagram and the accursed star of Chaos being drawn. I saw daemonic abominations slaughtering the faithful.’
‘Arbitrator, get your men ready, we’re going to hunt more renegade psykers.’

Zymran was pleased. The second step of the ritual was now complete. A psychic pentagram of colossal proportions had been drawn around Cormandel. At specific places of mystical importance, thrall sorcerers were now linked with each other, creating lines of psychic energy that was making the pattern of the symbol. Marduk was busy focussing the ritual to further weaken the veil.
All around the Apostle, hundreds of soldiers were kneeling in devotion to the Gods of Chaos, begging their masters to bring death to their enemies and glory to their servants. Finally great bronze bells tolled, resonating across the Warp, calling forth the daemons gathered around Cormandel.
Zymran took a step down the hill toward the fortress. He rose his Accursed Crozius above his head. His Chosen gathered around him, protecting their master and brandishing proudly the blasted standard of Chaos. With confidence, the Apostle marched toward Cormandel, toward thousands of guns.
The Host knew he had reached his destination, the centre of Cormandel. He extended his senses and felt eight minds, honed by training and faith to their dark masters, as ready as he was for this moment of glory. In a few instants, Cormandel would be engulfed in terror and carnage. The Host savoured this moment as he stood in the middle of a largest cave of the underground city.
He extended his arms and let out a howl of pure hatred. His robes were burned out in seconds by eldritch fire, revealing a scarred body, covered with twisting glowing runes. His dead eyes were afire, and warp flames belched out of his mouth. He rose into the air as terror gripped the citizens of Cormandel and they fled like a flock of frightened birds.
The Host’s body started to twist and change at an incredibly rate, bending limbs at impossible angles. Horns sprouted from his back and forehead, his hands turned into massive claws. His ribcage exploded, revealing his beating heart. All the while, his mind remained focussed, oblivious to the searing pain his body endured, reciting the ritual he had learned and repeated over and over in his minds in the past few years.
All around him forms started to materialised. They were twisted and monstrous, all paws and mouths, gibbering in bizarre languages, forever mutating. They were lascivious she-daemons with lithe and sensual bodies and vicious claws. They were massive beast with horns and snarling faces, slick with blood and wielding vicious axes. They were bloated beings, with pus dripping from gaping wounds, with horns sprouting from their foreheads and bearing rusty blades. They were winged monsters flying across the cave in packs. They were bird-faced abominations with flames covering their body.
The Host laughed with madness as this horde took form and became more real with each passing second. His mind unable to take the strain of the psychic powers coursing threw him finally snapped. His body exploded in a shower of blood and viscera.
The daemons let out a howl of primal rage and hate as one of their master appeared. It had an avian face, large purple feather wings. Its body was that of bird of prey with elongated limbs. He wore an elegant robe covered with runes and his hand rested a massive staff.
With a voice that seemed to twist reality with its very sound, the Lord of Change spoke.
‘Forward my minions,’ it murmured seductively, ‘today we fight together for the glory of Chaos. Today, we bring harvest souls for our masters. Today is the great hunt. Today mankind’s worst nightmares left the realms of their dreams to haunt their reality. Feel this city, feel the emotions, so rich, so pure. Today, fate is changed in the blink of an eye. What was pure is tainted, what was mankind’s is now ours.’
The daemons surged forward with utter abandon.

‘We have a situation!’ shouted an Arbitrator over the vox. Sounds of gunfire could be heard. ‘Deamons! Hundreds of them! Came out of nowhere! We’re being overwhelmed! We request reinforcements!’
Brusilov watched with horror as the situation unfolded. In nine different points in the city, forming a three-dimensional star of Chaos, daemons had appeared in numbers never seen before in living memory. As the Commissar had feared, it was an infestation on par with that of Armageddon 500 years ago.
The PDF best efforts to isolate the enemy were failing one after the other. Deamons tore through massive doors, crawled through ventilation shafts, appeared out of nowhere… The nine original source of the plague were now meaningless. Daemons were appearing at random, alone or in groups everywhere in the fortress. Only the Citadel, thanks to its hexagrammic wards was protected.
The Citadel was now isolated. It was a self-contained island of safety in a sea of madness and death. But there could be no hope of survival. Even if daemon could not materialise within, they might still bash the doors open. Failing that, the armies of Chaos would soon march into the city to take it.

‘Pull back!’ Anya shouted as she fired at the mass of daemons coming for them.
Half her contingent of Arbites had gone mad or died in the first few minutes of the attack and now the survivors were fleeing, in relatively good order toward the top of the mesa.
The massive door fell across the street, cutting the advance of the gibbering horde. The few that had made it across were cut down by disciplined shotgun fire.
‘That will not hold them for long. We need to commandeer vehicles,’ remarked Dukan as he loaded a fresh clip in his bolt pistol.
A few instants later, a convoy of trucks, cars, a Rhino and a bus drove through the streets of Cormandel. People were fleeing in terror, daemons alone or in small packs were hunting them. The Arbites shot a few dead as they passed but did not stop. There was nothing to be done. Evacuating a population of over a million persons was an impossible task in so short a time.
At an intersection they met a platoon of PDF troops who told them several regiments were deploying through the city to create a safe perimeter from which they could counter-attack. It seemed general Weynach had not yet abandoned the idea of defending the city.
But Anya understood the situation only too well. She had seen the thousands of daemons that had been after them, she had seen the forms of Greater Daemons towering above their kin. She knew the slaughter would only attract more of them until nothing was left alive.
Cormandel was lost. The only thing left to do was trying to save the people that truly mattered to the war effort.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:56
Thought for the day

‘Well Matt? Just how are you going to weasel your way out of the a Warmasters final orders?’ Lt Colonel Stewart Conner to Colonel Matt Jacka on leaning of Warmaster’s Hunters last order to him.


Jacka watched the Vultures circling in protective formations around his LZ. Their search had gone well it would seem. He watched as a number of Rhino’s thundered out of the hive towards him and Aquilla’s crash site. Bart and Colonel Varro stood next to him.

‘Well Matt looks like you managed to weasel out of this one!’ Bart said with a wry smile on his face.

‘Indeed it was a good idea of Hef to put the tracker in the Warmaster’s Armour! Although, Hoot’s would be pissed if he knew we could follow him anytime, anywhere.’ replied the Brevet Brigadier Jacka, ‘Looks like I’ll be Colonel again real soon.’ Jacka said with a smile.

A Rhino pulled up and Hef and his lads pulled a stretcher from is rear. Doc Evans scurried around it giving instructions. Jacka and the others watch as this group came forward. Jacka could see the Warmaster was know conscious with a drip running from his arm his wound bandaged. A cigar clenched in his teeth. ‘Listen you bloody charlatan I kin damn well walk myself around. I don’t have to be carried like some bloody baby. It’s not hurt that bad.’ carried the voice of the Warmaster.

‘As your Doctor you will do as I say, your as bad as your father was, may the Emperor protect him. So with respect, Sir, lay there suck it up and shut up before I give you something to do exactly that.’ Jacka could hear Hef’s Marines snigger as they approached.

‘Well this is a fine mess you got your self into this time.’ Jacka started as Hunter raised himself up onto his elbows only to be pushed back down by Doc Evans.

‘Ok! Ok! I give up! I’ll stay down.’ Hunter said with a sneer, ‘Bugger me, by Pius your hard! And you lot! Stop with the crud eating grins! Especially you Brevet Brigadier Jacka! And that order stays in effect until I say so. So Matt you better get your act together and clean Imokolee up for the good old Warmaster.

‘I think we can do that for you, but right now Hoots your going to get on one of Lt Col Kilby Smith’s Valkrie’s and get out here because we have work to do and you ain’t going to be much help.’ To which Hunter’s only reply was a snort and a puff of smoke.

Hunter reached out his hand and Jacka took it, ‘Good to see ya Matt!’

‘Good to see you Warmaster.’ Replied Jacka. ‘But ya still going on that Valkrie, get him moving Lads.’

‘Bugger me your hard on the old Warmaster!’, were Hunters parting words as Doc Evans pushed him down again.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:57
14 ships raced down towards Cormandel. Cernuous stood in the back of the cockpit in the lead Sparrowhawk, “message to all ships,” he said, “one strafing run then on to Cormandel. I want the battle cannon equipped Thunderhawks to hit Traitor marine units, the Thunderhawks and Sparrowhawks with turbo-lasers to hit the Desolators and Titan formations. Sparrowhawks with autocannons are to attack cultists and other targets of opportunity. Shoot straight, fly fast.”
He could feel the oppressive sense of Chaos all around him, trying to smother his faith.
“Master Cernuous, I need to be dropped now.”
Cernuous turned to his Chief Librarian, “what are you talking about Anton? If whatever the Ruinous Powers are plotting comes to fruition then I will need your to help defeat them. What purpose will dropping you in the middle of the enemy line achieve other than the loss of a valued advisor and friend?”
The psyker sighed, “there was another part of my vision I did not tell you about My Lord. I saw Cormandel burning as I said. But I also saw my death. The traitor Zymran has captured the Saint and I must attempt to rescue her, the crusade will fail without her. Whether I succeed or not doesn’t matter, I will die either way. I apologise for hiding this from you but I knew you would try to seek another alternative. Now it is too late to argue, I must go now.”
“Who will you take with you?”
“In my visions I died alone, that is how I will go. But I would make a last request of you My Lord.”
Cernuous nodded for him to continue.
“Allow me to take your sword, mine will not fail you in your battles against the daemons but will be useless against the enemies I will face. Your sword is sharpened by pure faith and will cut more surely than anything I could take.”
“Of course old friend,” Cernuous replied. Taking his sword from its scabbard, “may it serve you as well as it has served me. Pilot, take us down.”

Hidden by the sheer firepower of the Blood Vipers gunships, no one noticed one of the ships break off from the others and dive for the ground. It pulled up at the last possible second, coming to a halt mere meters above the ground. The ramp lowered and a Chief Librarian Anton leapt down. No sooner had he hit than the ship was blasting towards Cormandel.
Anton reached into the Warp, seeking Ekaterinas psychic presence. He whirled around as he sensed someone else nearby, adjusting his grip on Cernuous’s sword as he did so.
The cultists burst out of the trees moments later, only to be torn apart as Anton opened a gateway to the Warp at their feet, sucking most of them into that dark, twisted hell. And the survivors were quickly cut down by the Librarian.
He backtracked their path to a large camp. And his powers told him that the Saint was in the centre of it. Anton drew the Warp around him, making himself invisible to normal senses, and moved quickly but silently towards the place where he was sure Ekaterina was being kept.
As soon as he entered the bunker he new he had been deceived, the armoured monstrosity waited with its sword drawn, corrupted energy flickering along the blade. “I knew you would come,” it gloated, “I knew that rescuing your precious Saint would be a high priority for the Crusade. And so you have come, now you are mine.”
Anton slowly advanced on the Chaos sorcerer, raising his borrowed sword as he did so, “I think not, you are trapped by what you will gain, I have nothing to lose. And if I can’t rescue Ekaterina then I shall deprive Zymran of one of his servants.” He stopped just out of reach and adopted a defensive stance, “come and get me Chaos scum.”
The sorcerer raised his sword and quickly crossed the small space between them. But Anton was ready, a blast of Warp fire throwing his opponent into the far wall. He charged over, sword raised high. But the sorcerer moved fast, parrying the blow that would have taken his head off and thrusting at Antons stomach. He jumped back, just barely avoiding the Warp-charged blade, then stepped back again to avoid a swipe at his legs. He sent another blast of fire at the traitor but this time he was ready for it, deflecting it back. Anton just ducked in time, sweeping his blade out to the side at the same time to intercept an attack that would have cut him in two.
“You are very good Traitor, I imagine you are one of Zymrans favoured advisors. But I am too old to be duelling with someone who draws most of his strength from the Warp, I know that I can’t win. But I can certainly take you down with me.” Anton gave a little chuckle as he struggled to hold the sorcerors blade away from his face. “I’ll let you in on a little secret, I knew that I’d die coming in. Maybe you knew, maybe you didn’t. But if you did this shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
Anton drew on all the warp energy he could, the sorcerer tried to block it but it wasn’t aimed at him.
The old Librarian forced open a huge hole in the fabric of reality, large enough to swallow the entire camp, and was gone.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:59
From the deck of his Leviathan Command vehicle, miles away from the fortress of Cormandel, Guderian assisted helplessly to the agony of the key stronghold to the defence of Branica. No images were available but the desperate vox transmissions from PDF units fighting endless hordes of daemons gave a relatively clear picture of the situation. And it was desperate. The command structure had more or less broken down despite the relative safety of the higher echelons within the Citadel. There were no frontlines, no clear enemy progression that could be stopped. The massive hordes had broken down into smaller bands, rampaging freely across the many levels of the mesa. From place to place, a platoon or a company held a meaningless position, an intersection, their barracks, a depot… Terrified civilians only added to the confusion. Jumpy troopers shot them on sight, they served as bait to attract soldiers to their death. On top of that, daemons alone or in small groups materialised out of nowhere in areas first thought to be free of their infestation. From what could be understood, they hunted large concentrations of people.
The daemons had assault several key installations, in particular the gun emplacements and the main door of the fortress. The Macro-cannons were falling silent one by one, as their crew was slaughtered. Then the void shield itself failed. But the Archenemy did not unleash a barrage of artillery, instead thousands of troopers with hundreds of tanks advanced, ready to assault.
The mood was grim among both the Imperial Guard and the surviving PDF troops. Not only was it horrible to listen to fellow soldiers being massacred by monsters from the warp, but they all knew that their best chance to protect the heart of Branica, the Rehnaron plains, had now failed.
Lord General Guderian lost no time. They had to throw up a new defence line to stop the tide of Chaos, threatening to overwhelm this world. The river Pruth seemed a good position. On the western side were small rolling hills on top of which trenches could be dug, bunkers could be build, behind which artillery could be positioned. The slopes would be mined, so would the river. The only bridge, in the city of Tiraspol was ready to blow at a moment’s notice. The city had been evacuated and was now being turned into a makeshift fortress, every building housing troops or traps. New railroads were being built to ferry ammunitions and troops, but also to position the train artillery the PDF so loved. Donna and her sisters would still prove useful.
This was not what the Imperials had been hoping and preparing for in the last few days. The priority had been promethium for a massive armoured push that would smash apart the forces besieging Cormandel.

Guderian was unsurprised to see colonel Scharnhorst march into the command post and salute him smartly. The general knew already what the young and fiery colonel wanted.
‘Sir, I request the permission to take the Totenkopf and launch hit-and-run armoured assault to harass the enemies flanks and small concentrations of forces. I bring a similar request from the Amarythian Rangers, sir. Colonel Artemia considers that since her division would be affected to the Pruth line, their special skills would be wasted. General Huntzinger agrees with this assessment.’
‘And what do you propose then colonel?’
‘After discussion with a few PDF officers, we’ve discovered an old abandoned base in the foothills of the mountains. It had been used during the civil war in the Age of Apostasy. From what I heard it was mothballed after the pacification of Branica and should be in good enough condition to serve as a forward base for our two regiments.’
‘The Rangers know how to hide and disappear. But an armoured regiment… You’ll be easily spotted by the enemy airplanes.’
‘Not quite so, sir. The whole area around the base is a dense pine forest that spreads for miles in every direction. The enemy would have to follow on foot and the Rangers can certainly deal with them then. The base is entirely hidden under the mountain with only minimal outside installations. I think the loyalists used it in much the same way during the siege of Cormandel back then.’
‘Very well then, colonel. Permission granted.’

Scharnhorst looked up at the sky in the east. Black clouds were gathering around Cormandel, blocking the afternoon sun of a cold winter day. Tendrils extended toward the west, like the elongated fingers of some shadowy beast, threatening to cover the world in darkness.
He sensed a gloved hand slipping gently into his own and turned to see Diana Artemia smiling at him in her own special way.
‘I’m glad we’re leaving to fight. I could not stand the wait any longer,’ she said with a sigh, ‘I want to make a difference. I want to crush those bastards.
‘So do I. I hope the feud between our units will not cause trouble.’
‘As long as we have something to fight I think they’ll something else to focus their mind on.’
A tank rolled by and stopped. Scharnhorst reluctantly abandoned the Amarythian’s hand and climb on. Abandoning his cap and putting the vox set on his ear, he looked back at her.
‘You look dashing,’ she said, looking up at him as he stood in the command hatch of his Leman Russ.
He laughed, winked at her and spoke in his vox. The tank rolled away, followed by an armoured column of Chimeras.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 11:59
Cernuous nodded in satisfaction as his ships roared on to Cormandel. Their assault had been very efficient, suffering only minor damage to most of the ships but massive damage on their targets. He did wonder at the wisdom of send Anton on his own to try to rescue the Saint but what choice did he have. If the vox transmissions they were intercepting from Cormandel were accurate he would need all the warriors he had just to save the higher ranking officers.
“Are the Void shields still up?”
“No Lord Cernuous, they just fell. But the citadel is deep inside the mesa, it would take hours to fight our way through. Never mind coming back.”
Cernuous nodded, considering his options. He turned to the marine monitoring the vox transmissions, “get me through to the Sigismund’s Fury I shall require their help. Also find out if there are any Grey Knights in Orbit, and if they would be willing to assist.”
“Sir we have the Sigismund’s Fury.”
“Excellent,” replied Cernuous. “Put me through.” When the marine nodded he picked up the head set, “This is Chapter Master Cernuous of the Blood Vipers, I was wondering if you could assist me. I am trying to remove Commissar Lord Brusilov and any surviving PDF commanders from the Citadel of Cormandel.”
“How can we help Master Cernuous?”
“I don’t have enough warriors to break through the Daemons and get back out again. If you could clear a path to the Command Centre with your bombardment cannons it would make my task much easier and give me space to establish a defensive perimeter.”
“We shall commence our bombardment immediately, Sigismund’s Fury out.”

5 minutes later, Cernuous stood before the massive armoured door of the citadel. The entire 5th company formed the main perimeter, with the 3rd creating a second line. The 1st stood with him, just in case any daemons managed to enter the building. “Open it up, bring down the Sparrowhawks.”
As the door opened the assembled commanders and their staff jumped, several reaching for weapons. Cernuous walked in and bowed to Brusilov, “your transport is waiting.” Turning to the others he shouted, “get moving or you’ll be left behind! There are thousands of daemons outside and they all want a piece of your souls. My men can’t hold them off forever.”

marineowar
20-08-2005, 12:00
The convoy had been growing for the past two hours and Anya was now in charge of several hundred people, most of them PDF troopers, Arbitrators and members of the Adeptus Terra. Civilians had been welcomed as well as long as they had their own means of transportation or could find room in one of the vehicles. The convoy was now making its way through industrial districts on top of the mesa. They had not yet escaped the daemons, but they were now facing another threat : enemy artillery. The void shields had failed and collapsed leaving the whole plateau vulnerable to massive bombardment.
For now the convoy had taken refuge in one of the armoured hangar that used to house the airships of the Branican airfleet. It was a vast open space with a moving roof that allowed the airships to take off or land vertically. This hangar must have been designed for one of the carriers. Spare planes hanged on either side, ready to be loaded.
‘Where to now?’ asked Captain Henke, the highest ranking officer of the PDF in their group.
‘I don’t know,’ replied Anya with a shrug, ‘I was just thinking about staying alive for another minute up until now.’
She waved her hand dismissively and walked off, trying to gather her thoughts.
The constant rumble of artillery made the ground shake slightly. The vehicles formed a rough circle within which the refugees could find a little protection. Everyone was on edge. Several of the Adepts were on their knees, praying, while others were mumbling to themselves or crying, shaken to the core by the horrific experience.
‘Ma’am!’ a young PDF trooper came running at her, ‘Ma’am! We’ve found something!’
‘Lead the way,’ answered the Interrogator dispassionately, realising for the first time how her master could remain so calm in the most dire of circumstances. She felt detached, able to clinically analyse the situation, while others panicked. She was as scared as everyone else but at the core of her being, when all the emotions had been stripped bare, there was an iron determination, as solid as a rock, to never let the enemy win, no matter what. She had known, theoretically at least, that an Inquisitor must be ready to sacrifice others to protect the Imperium, but this knowledge had always been academic. Now she knew, with every fibre of her being, that such abomination must never be allowed to roam free. She was isolated and without the credentials to order such a thing, but if she could she would order Cormandel wiped out from the face of Branica.
She snapped back to the present as she approached a Chimera. A group of soldiers were chatting excitedly about something she did not quite make out. A young sergeant saluted her.
‘Ma’am, we’ve made contact with the Saint Ollanius Pius. They’re under attack and trying to take off. With all due respects, this may be our ticket out of his hellhole.’
‘The Pius? The new airship?’
‘Yes, Ma’am. They need assistance cutting the anchors and opening the hangar bay. They have a skeleton crew and a few troopers guarding the ship but nothing large enough to mount a sortie. We haven’t answered yet.’
Captain Henke approached.
‘We have the means to help them, Ma’am. There’s enough of us to cut the anchor and open the hangar bay. We need to be out of here quick before either the daemons catch us or the bombardment blow us up.’
Anya paused for a second, the soldiers looking expectantly at her. When she nodded, the soldiers exulted. She knew the feeling, they were taking the fight back to the enemy.

But first they had to get organised. Once the decision was made, she left the Arbites and the PDF to discuss the details among themselves, trusting in their ability in military matters. She had little choice, for she knew very little on that matter. But there was one thing she was adamant about : everyone would fight, or participate in the fight, including and especially the Adepts.
The convoy rolled out of the relative safety of the hangar and drove as fast as it was able toward the nearby docks where the Saint Pius was. It took them only moments to find it, a horde of daemons was pressing around it, trying to overwhelm the few Imperial defenders.
‘How do we get in?’ asked Anya.
‘We blow ourselves a way. We don’t have time for anything fancy. The Repressors will then open the way,’ replied Captain Henke.
As he spoke, three fire teams with missile launchers took position, aimed and fired at the service gate, blowing it open and killing a few daemons in the process. The Repressors immediately started, lowering their dozer blade, pushing the rubble out of the way. The rest of the convoy followed suit with all guns blazing.

The hangar was gigantic. The airship was the biggest Anya had ever seen. Well over 500 metres long, the Saint Pius was completely different in design from the other airships of the Branican fleet. It used anti-grav technology the Branicans had leased from the Mechanicus. It was an elongated ovoid, covered with metre thick armour and bristling with, for now, empty gun emplacements. Its belly showed a hangar from which fighters could be launched in seconds. This was nothing less than a flying warship and carrier combined with enough firepower to raze a city.
A pair of Arbites Rhinos drove away from the convoy, heading for the command post, where they would find the commands to open the roof. A Chimera and two trucks drove in different directions to cut the anchors restraining this mighty ship.
‘Here!’ shouted one of the Guardsmen, pointing at an open hatch from which Imperials were firing down at daemons trying to climb onto the airship.
‘Form defensive perimeter!’ yelled Captain Henke, ‘We need to clear up the space for the boarding platform.
The vehicles drove straight into the press of daemons, crushing meaning under their wheels or tracks. The guardsmen, the Arbitrators, the Adepts and the Inquisitorial team jumped down and fired at will. The vehicles moved around to cordon the lowering platform.
As soon as it touched the ground, Anya and her retinue were pushed up by Guardsmen.
‘Up you go, Ma’am,’ shouted Henke over the constant noise of lasfire and the booming sound of shotguns, ‘we’ll be here shortly.
Anya climbed up and threw herself into the welcoming arms of the deck crew waiting for her. Soldiers snapped shots at the enemy but kept the hatch clear for the Adepts that followed her.
‘This way to the bridge, Ma’am,’ a sailor pointed.
‘What about those below?’
A petty officer shook his head sadly, pointing at the gigantic bloated form of a Greater Daemon, soaking up fire and moving onward undeterred. It was followed by a pack of horrifying beast with cloven hooves, pus dripping from their horribly deformed bodies and flies flying all about them.
The soldiers below kept fired and then ordered the crew of the airship to remove the boarding platform. They were sacrificing their lives so that others would live on to fight for the Emperor’s glory. Most importantly they were attempting to save something crucial to the fighting spirit of Branicans : the Saint Ollanius Pius.

As Anya reached the bridge the roof was opening slowly, revealing a clouded and threatening black sky.
‘Anchors 1 through 3 on the port side are away sir!’ shouted someone.
In the centre of the room, standing beside his command chair, a young Branican Navy officer stood, his mind concentrated on his task. His hands, clasped behind his back, slightly shook, the only outward sign of this junior officer’s nervousness.
‘Anchor 1 and 2 away on the starboard side sir!’
‘Engage gravitational engine, vertical thrust, maximum power.’
A techpriest protested.
‘Sir, this would not be wise, the engines have not been fully tested, this would anger the machine spirits to test them so in their first run.’
‘Then get down there and appease them!’ shouted back the officer, ‘I don’t have time to waste with this. We have to be away ASAP!’
‘Anchor 3 on starboard side still attached sir!’
‘One anchor we can deal with. Activate engines.’
Smoothly and with only a low hum the Saint Pius rose in the air. After a few seconds the vessel shook somewhat when the anchor tried to prevent them from leaving, but after a few seconds it snapped.
The airship was now free of its hangar and the immediate threat of the daemons. But it was far from safe. Suddenly a column of fire came down from the sky, obliterating part of the mesa. The massive guns left a gaping wound.
‘Throne of Terra, they’re going after the Citadel,’ mumbled the officer.
‘Is there anything we can do about it?’ asked the Interrogator.
The officer turned to glare at her but his eye immediately caught the Inquisitorial pendant hanging from her neck.
‘Not much we can do with little to no weapons and a skeleton crew. We’re heading for Shanalorn now.’
The officer turned to the helmsman.
‘Head for Shanalorn, bearing 234.’
‘Aye aye sir!’
Out of nowhere Chaos aircrafts came. They might have been hiding in the clouds but it mattered not. Swarms of Hell Talons and Hell Razors swooped around the flying battleship, firing missiles, dropping bombs, hammering at the hull with lascannons. The crew fired back as best as it could using the hydra flak batteries.
The Chaos aircrafts did little to the giant. They were swarming all around it like angry bees but their sting bounced off the thick hide of the flying titan. The Saint Pius flew at full speed toward the Imperial lines, ignoring the Chaos flak on the ground.
When it reached the Imperial lines and Mount Areath was in sight the crew cheered wildly. Not only had they escaped the death-trap that Cormandel had now become but they brought back the symbol of the Branicans’ fighting spirit with them.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 12:01
The massive steel gates of Cormandel swung open to welcome their new master. Never in ten millennia had a servant of the Dark Powers set foot in this place. The work of the mighty Primarch Rogal Dorn had been undone. This symbol of the Imperium’s might on the surface of Branica was now lost.
As the Dark Apostle strode through the gate, he noticed the carvings of angels and great heroes on the surface of the door and the massive statue of the Primarch peering down at him with a stern gaze. All this would be changed very soon and the stones and the metal knew it already. They had lost their lustre and patina, they seemed to be crying over the loss of their innocent purity, some even seemed to already snarl like daemons.
A horde of warp beast welcomed the new master of the fortress as he marched into the gloom of a corridor tall enough to let Titans through. Daemons of every size and shaped bowed slightly at his passing.
Suddenly Zymran stopped in his tracks and stared at the nothingness ahead of him. His retinue of Chosen, bearing the standard of Chaos high, closed around their master, weapons ready.
A sleek and tall beast with a horned head, batwings and a knowing smirk on his face appeared. It did not fully materialise, remaining clouded in shadows.
‘So we meet again Lord Zymran.’
‘Indeed Daelhg’gkor. As you can see, your little plotting did not prevent me to conquer my prize.’
‘No, I did not. But this is far from over. You still want the Heart of Pius and it shall soon be in my hands. Without that, all your plans will be for naught,’ the daemon chuckled.
‘Gloat as much as you want daemon, your taunts mean nothing to me. Show me the Heart and I might start to believe you. You are full of empty threats, but deliver little,’ sneered the Word Bearer.
‘And you should beware. The Saint is a dangerous prize, the lackeys of the Corpse will come after her, do anything to free her.’
‘Do you think I would not expect such things from them? They will desperate to get her out of my clutches. They know, as do you, that I could sacrifice her to accomplish my Ascension, but I have greater plans.
And I also know of your little trick, sending the Champion Eternal after her was an impressive move, but you see Arioch was not pleased to have his favourite pet taken away from him, within his own realm, by mere mortals on top of that.’
‘Arioch is irrelevant, what mattered was Elric. This man will stop at nothing to protect the Saint and Shanalorn from you.’
‘Let me ask you a question. You came back to get revenge from the Saint, then why did you try to kill her, especially using an imbecile like Carthac?’
‘Carthac has its uses, but he is a complete cretin. I shall take great pleasure in shattering his soul once I’m finished here. I knew he would fail, if you were a Dark Apostle worthy of your title.
I could let you have her, after all I’m sure you would put her through hell before finishing her off but I want her. I want her soul. You’d be offering it to the gods, and I want for myself alone. She denied me my realm, I shall shatter all her dreams before using her soul as my plaything for all eternity.
Hand her over.’
‘You can make no demand to me daemon.’
‘We shall see, when the Heart of Pius is in my possession.’
‘And who do you intend to use for the job? Carthac? If so you could offer it to me directly, because this fool will never succeed. You are in no position to negotiate Daelhg’gkor. You have nothing that I may want anymore and I have your prize.’
‘We shall see,’ railed the daemon, ‘Elric is on his way and you will soon have your hands full with the Eternal Champion. He is such a useful tool, although he never realises it. It is his destiny, a little trick Arioch played on him.’
Zymran sneered with contempt.
‘For all your planning you have accomplished little Betrayer. I understand why you are named thus. Your advice has been useful and your plan to take this world a bold one, but I am the one doing it, not you.’
‘Think what you will Word Bearer, events shall prove me right.’
‘And you can dream all you want, but the next time we meet, I shall be more than your equal and then we shall see who is the strongest.’
With a wave of his Crozius, the Dark Apostle dispersed the ghostly image of the daemon.
‘This will make a worthy base,’ he announced, ‘as soon as it is consecrated to the true gods.’

marineowar
20-08-2005, 12:02
Borredan, Segmentum Obscuras, Concordat-controlled Space

"Why the hell do we sething bother?"

Another shellburst sounded above the Concordat trenchworks, sending red-hot metal shards flying in all directions, slashing into the soft mud. The throaty coughs of heavy bolters filled the air as the Imperial began another assault on the defensive position.

Trooper Ardis Taskeen of the Draegan 17th gurlgled as an arm tightened around his throat, slamming him into the wall of the trench. He looked up, seeing the black-armoured Storm Brigade trooper who was applying the pressure that constricted his breathing.

"We sething bother, fool, because humanity is depending on us! Our very race's future hangs in the balance! If we give up on Borredan, other worlds will lose heart and once again submit to the tyrannical boot of the bastard Imperium!" The powerfully-built elite released the Trooper and took up a firing position on the lip of the trench, pulling the trigger of his strafer rifle. The gun whined as the barrel turned and unlseashed a maelstrom of rounds, two dark gigures in no-man's land thrown backwards, the sprays of dark liquid that followed their descent indicating to Trooper Meredis Andropov that his targets were unliekly to be returning to their feet at any time in the near future. The distinctive crack of lasgun fire heralded the Imperial Guard forces' latest assault, but Andropov knew that they were wasting ammunition: the Concordat trenches gave more than adequate protection against small arms fire. Draegan autoguns chattered, casings littering the plasteel duckboards.

The first sign of the Imperial Guard latest wave of cannon fodder - or trench raiders, depending on who was defending said trenches - were several frag grenades that bounced towards and down itno the trenches. Infantry panicked, turning to flee in terror, barging into their comrades and merely slowing their own progress as the small explosives detonated, shrapnel pappering those closest to the detonations. Storm Troopers turned away from the detonations and crouched, the lethal shards clanging off their thick carapace armour. A trooper of the Borredan 4th PDF hurled himself into the trench, lasgun readied, and exploded in a spray of blood as a Strafer rifle tore his chest apart in a spray of rounds. Many Imeprial troops died in the descent, felled by point-blank range shots or cleaved by bayonets, short swords and improvised weaponry.

Captain Mayne swung his sword, slashing open a Guardsman's face, parrying a bayonet thrust before continuing his momentum, slamming into his attacker and knocking him backwards. He grabbed his opponent's helmet, slammin him into the back wall and hammering his sword through the man's chest. The corpse went limp. Mayne unshouldered his strafer rifle, Storm Trooper Greiss joining him, the man's black carapace armour spattered with blood and mud, as a group of more successful Guardsmen charged through the trench, bayoneting and shooting Draegan infantry: the two Draegan elites opened fire, harvesting all five Guardsmen in a bloody eyeblink, painting the trench's previously grey walls with the trench raiders' vital fluids.

Mayne shouldered his gun, ejecting the clip, as he cursed imaginitively. Something's happened to them. Something's given them fight, the will to die for their false cause. There was no doubt about it, according to the reports he had been privy to as a field officer: the Imperium was strinking back against the Concordat. Surely they didn't have the resources to take back all the liberated worlds? The bastard Carolonians were elsewhere according to reports: what did the Imperium have left in this Segmentum to throw at them?

marineowar
20-08-2005, 12:05
Imokolee



Seen on Warmaster Hunters Medicae door. "I have been beaten,stabbed,shot, burned, kidnapped by a Necron, assaulted by a Sorceror of Tzeentch,poisoned, kicked, and shot down. The only reason I keep this damed job is to see what happens next"


Warmaster Hunter read the latest report from Brianca and sighed. It looked grim for the forces there and he knew that they needed reinforcement badly. Several days before he had dispatched the remainder of his reserves from Camulod under General Drewxfu to Brianca, but he wondered if they would arrive in time, and if there would be enough of them?

He was looking at a report from the 2nd Army of the Crusade when rigadier Jacka walked into the room. He was followed by a slim and stern looking adept of the Adeptus Munitorium. She was only about 5' tall with short cropped mouse brown hair and thin hawkish features, only her full red lips and a slight rounding of her hips gave any indication that she was female untils she spoke.

"I would like to introduce Praefectus Minoris Monica Modica," Jacka said as a way of introducing the Munitorium official.

Hunter nodded his greeting and lit up one of his ever present cigars. "Might I remind the Warmaster that he is in a Medicae facility where smoking is not permited," Modica said disapprovingly.

"Its good to be Warmaster," Hunter said with a cocky smile.

"Indeed it must be," the Praefectus Minoris replied as she took the cigar from his mouth and dropped it into toioet. "But it would be a shame for you to be burned beyond recognition should your oxegyn tube or someone elses come in contact with the flame."

Hunter glared at Jacka. "I hope ya have brought her here for a reason beyond this blatent assault on my dignity."

Jacka grinned, "as if you had any. But yes Hoots I did. The Praefectus Minoris here has discovered a rather disturbing bit of information."

Hunter sat up a little bit straighter and looked to Modica for her report. "Warmaster it has been discovered that the government of Imokolee is shorting its weapons and munitions shipments to brianca by 5%. My sources on Brianca only noticed it after thay had arrested many locals on charges of stealing the missing components to find that the shipments were still sealed. Praefectus Junoris Mayfeild, Emperor rest his soul, found out before the fall of Cormandel that these weapons were somehow falling into the hands of the enemy."

"Why wont this noticed by 'specters here?" Hunter asked pointedly.

"The traitors have been very clever about it sir," Modica replied slightly lowering her head. "They stacked the crates in such away that only if we broke down each individual pallet would we find the missing components."

"Do ya have a suspect 'bout whos behind this?" Hunter inquiired.

"Indeed sir I do. I have come to beleive that Govenor Brasis himself is involved, " Modica said as she stood stright and locked her eyes with Hunters.

Hunter nodded and looked to Jacka. "I'm guessin' ya already have a plan at takin' him down."

"Yes sir I do," Jacka replied with a smirk. "I have the Orphans and elements of your Lifeguard as well as a good number of Iron Avengers in position to "protect" the Govenors Mansion from Chaos raiders, although we have pretty much wiped out their presence on the planet already. I was just wanting to get your approval for the assault."

"Ya got it," Hunter nodded. Jacka and Modica turned to leave but Hunter stopped them with a word. "Wait. Matt it seems by Brucy's correspondence that he dosent even know of my recent unfortunate adventure. Did ya even tell him?"

Jacka looked a little sheepish for a moment. "No sir. I failed to do that. I didnt want to divert his attention while hoping that we would soon get you back."

Hunter nodded and his face took a stern look to it. "Praefectus Minoris Modica bear witness that seein' as how Brigadier Jacka has failed and was derelict in the duty of informin' the proper chain of command of the possible death of the Warmaster, namely me, that he his from this moment demoted to rank of Colonel and the priviledges there in. That will be all Praefectus Minoris."

Hunter watched her walk away and as soon as he was sure she was far enough away to not smell the smoke he lit up another cigar. "Matt at least try and not look so bloody damned happy," he shot at Jacka who had remained behind to discuss his plan of attack on the Govenors mansion.

marineowar
20-08-2005, 12:06
Ekaterina was being dragged through the fortress. It was an horrible sight, disembowelled bodies everywhere, the screaming of terrified people hunted by daemons or being ripped to shreds, the whailing of people nailed to great stars of Chaos.
The city itself was changing at an incredible rate. Buildings were twisting under the corrupting influence of the warp spilling from the tears in the veil between worlds. Moaning faces appeared on the walls, the trapped souls of those slaughtered this day, the symbols of the Imperium fell to dust or were twisted into symbols of the glory of Chaos.
At some point, she passed near what once a been a magnificent statue of Rogal Dorn in one of the main squares of Cormandel. Now she instinctively recognised the terrible form of the Daemon Primarch Lorgar, surrounded by hundreds of faithful begging for his protection.
From place to place, the Saint could see crazed fanatics, whipping themselves, while singing praises to the dark gods.

The High Basilica of Cormandel was the most terrifying sight Ekaterina had ever seen. Even when she battled Chaos in the Orelsk sector she had not faced something as grimfully beautiful, hauntingly appealing and monstrously attractive as the new Cathedral of Cormandel.
The Church had been built at the very centre of the mesa, just below the Citadel. Gigantic raised carvings represented the fate of Mankind under the dominion of Chaos. Twisted beings both in body and mind looked up fearfully at the sun, represented as the star of Chaos. They were tortured, they toiled until their death, they prayed, they were sacrificed under the unwavering gaze of demi-gods, the Space Marines. But the carvings also promised the freedom of Chaos, showing one of the slaves breaking free of the chains of dominion and rising to take its place amongst the gods, becoming part of the endless pantheon of Chaos. They showed mighty warriors on wings of faith smiting down the enemies of the Ruinous Powers, they showed mankind united by a single purpose.
Most importantly they showed the freedom Chaos promised, the freedom that came at an unnamable price, absolute freedom to rule over those who would not raise themselves above their condition. The carvings demonstrated the creative destruction that was Chaos, they proved that the Imperium was rotting because it was as immobile as its Corpse God, mummified in its traditions and binded by its fears.
Most importantly, above the massive bronze gates, was pictured the greatest truth of Chaos. That it is part of every living being, that to deny it is to deny life itself. And to embrace it is to embrace life.

And Ekaterina knew despair. More than the untold suffering of a million terrified souls, the cathedral had shaken the very core of her faith in the Immortal Emperor of Mankind and in the Imperium. She cried, singing litanies of faith, as the Chosen dragged her to the heart of the Cathedral to the altar in the shape of the eight-pointed star of Chaos. Incense burned in great braseros by each point of the star.
Zymran was there in all his glory. Despite her watery eyes choked with tears, the Saint could see his shadow twisting as if it were alive. It seemed even more massive than the Dark Apostle himself. She looked up at the skull helmet and saw for the first time eldritch fire coming out of the eyepieces.
'Welcome child, welcome to your new home,' said Zymran in an otherworldy voice that gave Ekaterina the shivers. It was a voice filled with the barely restrained power of the warp, a voice that could sway thousands with the mere sound of it, that sneaking into her mind, through the cracks in her defences, that whispered to her soul, begging her to surrender to the glory of the Dark Powers.
With reserves of strength and faith she did not think she had Ekaterina ousted Zymran from her mind.
But instead of feeling pain or anger he just nodded. And below his helmet she could see him grinning misheviously.
'Now, my dear, is the time for you to embrace the glory of Chaos.'
'Never!' shouted back the Saint with newfound resolve.
Zymran laughed. The sound of it could shatter walls if he wished it.
'But you have no say in it, whore. Only your death is required, not your agreement. But worry not, you will live, for now. But every moment of it you shall wish you had died. I promised you the glory of Cormandel falling to Chaos would be the last thing you'd see and I always hold my promises.'
The Apostle drew a long ceremonial dagger from his belt. It was curved and incrusted with red and black jewels. It glittered in the light.
'Pray your Emperor now bitch, let's see he comes to your help.'
The pointed of the dagger came slowly ever closer to the Saint's left eye. She tried to thrash about to make it more difficult but her whole body was now held fast by the strength of unseen beasts from the warp.
Eketarina screamed when her eyeball was removed from its socket with delicate care. The nerves and blood vessels snapped under the edge of the blade. Despite the searing pain the Saint could hardly imagine Zymran being more gentle about such a monstrous act. She was precious, very precious. And as long as she was, she would live. Ekaterina held on to this idea as her second eye was removed and the world went black.

Heinrich Drakkenhorst walked out of the cave. The return journey had been much more tranquil and they had now returned to Branica, hopefully not too late.
When he saw the black clouds spreading from over Cormandel, the Inquisitor's heart sank. The fortress had fallen, he knew it in his heart.
But as his mind seemed to explode and he collapsed to his knees screaming, his head in his gauntleted hands, he knew something darker had occured.
His protection around Ekaterina's mind had snapped, the creature within was loose once more. But more importantly the Saint was helpless in the hands of the enemy.
Tears ran freely down his cheeks and in a croaked voice, he spoke only a few words as if they were a grim and unescapable prophecy.
'The Ascension has begun.'