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Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:18
In this thread you can follow the adventures of the characters of The Faithful and the Damned, chronicling the trials and tribulations of the warriors and foes of the Ekaterinan Crusade. Kindly refrain from post here in any way, shape or form. If you would like to post comments or think you might want to contribute to FATD, we can be found here (http://www.dysartes.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2077)

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:19
The atmosphere was gloomy, to say the least, and the absence of light to allow everyone to see the strategic holographic display of the Rehnaron plains did not make things better. Barely half of the officers and adepts attending the meeting were physically present, which in Guderian’s opinion was never a good sign.
Cardinal Astra du Plessy had refused to attend the meeting, arguing that his place was with his flock, in the High Cathedral of Illumination. The man was no coward, but he feared greatly for this world most prized relic, the Heart of Saint Ollanius Pius.
General Weynach, Admiral Nardal and Commissar-Lord Brusilov were not attending either. They were still in transit, under the protection of the Blood Vipers. They would be present but with audio only.
Admiral von Tirpitz had not left his post either. The latest reports said the Archenemy had made a move to protect Cormandel in the wake of the bombardment by the Black Templars. The ‘Heresiarch’, Zymran’s flagship had taken the lead and a short but bloody battle had ensued. The Imperials had retreated with only minor losses and no crippled ship, but it was disheartening to give way without a good fight.
None of the generals of the I. Army of the Ekaterinian Crusade were present either. They were all too busy preparing the defences of the new defensive line around the city of Tiraspol that now served as the army HQ. The river Pruth would serve to slow down the enemy advance. The ice had been weakened repeatedly but this action had been hidden so that the enemy would begin crossing and then fall into this trap.
But from all the people that were supposed to attend, the absence of the Saint was most worrying to everyone. She had left for Cormandel and had not been heard of since. There was no word from the Walkyrie she had commandeered and the Battle Sisters were growing restless. Canoness Erianna was nervous, even if at first glance she seemed calm. She kept glancing from side to side and rolling her eyes.

Suddenly the door swung wide open and Inquisitor Drakkenhorst clad in his dented power armour and followed by his Death Cultist entered. Behind them was a third figure clad in a heavy cloak.
The Inquisitor walked to the centre of the room, where everyone could see and hear him.
‘The Saint has been captured by the Archenemy,’ he stated flatly, without a trace of emotion in his voice.
The room erupted into utter chaos as everyone spoke at once, trying to voice their opinion of what happened and what should be done. Drakkenhorst said nothing, allowing the commotion to reign free. After a full minute, the ruckus finally died down of its own accord.
‘There is worse I have to tell you. I have concluded that conquering this world is not Zymran’s intention. In fact he seeks something far greater: daemonhood. To achieve that goal he seeks the Heart of Saint Ollanius Pius, he will sacrifice it to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, corrupt it and thus become more powerful than we could ever dread. But this is not all, for what is a Daemon Prince without his daemon world.’
The assembly was to shock to voice his opinion at such a statement. Drakkenhorst went on.
‘Indeed, the great ritual around Cormandel and the slaughter of its garrison were only the first step in a much grander undertaking that will turn Branica into a hell world, a safe haven for the agents of the Dark Gods for light-years. All mortals not serving Chaos and Zymran in particular will die and their souls shall trapped there forever, suffering an endless torment at the hands of the Daemon Prince and his minions.’

Commissar-Lord Brusilov sat back in his seat, his earphones still on his ears, pondering this latest revelation. The capture of the Saint had come as a blow to him, especially considering they must have been very close to her and could have staged a rescue attempt.
But more importantly he knew what the daemon world possibility meant for Branica. Zymran would probably not get the chance to enjoy his victory. If the situation is desperate enough, Drakkenhorst will order the Exterminatus on Branica, even if he’s still on the surface.
‘So what do you propose Inquisitor? I don’t think you intend to be standing around waiting for death.,’ Brusilov did not mention his thoughts on Exterminatus, lest this turned dread into panic, even among high ranking officials.
‘I propose that we liberate the Saint and put the relic in a safe place, beyond Zymran’s reach.’
‘And how do you propose we do that?’ asked the Cardinal.
‘As for the Saint, we shall mount a commando operation. I shall take the lead and I am taking someone who is most keen to get the Saint back.’
The cloaked figure pushed back his hood and revealed a gaunt pale face with pointy ears on either side, a single inquisitive purple eye and a bizarre red multi-faced eye that glowed like a ruby, covered by a silk veil.
Several people in the room made for their weapon as they recognised the individual who had assassinated Praefectus Constantine and nearly murdered the Saint herself.
‘Are you out of your mind?’ shouted Guderian as he pointed his laspistol at the man.
‘No, this man has freed himself from the clutches of Chaos, with the Saint’s help. He is willing not only to save Ekaterina but also to help defend Shanalorn.’
‘And on the matter of the Heart of Saint Pius?’ insisted the Cardinal.
‘My first idea would be to get it off this planet, but that would be too dangerous. So I propose we simply remove it from this universe to a place where Zymran can’t follow.’
‘This is unacceptable! And you know it Lord Inquisitor! I shall not have this holy relic removed from the hallowed ground of Shanalorn! You do know the legends, don’t you? If the Heart is ever removed from the Cathedral, Branica will fall to darkness.’
‘I know one thing for sure your Excellency, if the Heart remains in the Cathedral, Zymran shall have it, one way or another. And then, I can tell you Branica will fall to darkness for sure.’

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:19
Tygora, High Orbit

Marshal Hoth finished reading the message sent to him from Branica and cursed. “That bad, huh?” asked General Lee.

“Has the entire sub-sector been pacified?” he asked, ignoring the General’s question.

“Yes,” responded Lee. “The rebels has been driven out, and even now, fresh levies are being deployed to man the recaptured planets. And four division’s worth of soldiers have been added to the II Army.”

Hoth turned away and looked out at the stars from the viewport in the conference room, and said, “Very good. Inform General Strauss that he may take command of the VII Corps at his leisure, and when he has finished, the army will set course for Branica.”

Clingman’s Dome

Marshal Kleist stood at the edge of the landing pad, General Devout at his side. “It truly can’t be him, he’s dead,” he said.

“So was I, remember,” responded Kleist.

“Yes, but that was just a ruse,” countered Devout. “We all saw his body.”

“Who else would use that call sign?” asked Kleist.

Devout couldn’t respond as all sound was drowned out by the immense roar descending shuttle’s engines. In a few short seconds those same engines were powering down as the shuttle completed its landing procedures. Steaming gas was released as the belly of the shuttle cracked open to reveal a descending ramp, and out he stepped.

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:20
Clingman's Dome

Kliest was staring transfixed at the form of General Lanni as he strode down the ramp. He was stunned and amazed. His looks had changed, he was now bald and clean shaven, and wore a massive powerfist that woudnt be out of place on a Adeptus Astartes Terminator, but on his 7'5" frame it looked well in place.

General Le..." he began to salute but was stopped by a glance from the Colonel in Arbites armor. Kliest faltered and then stuck out his hand. "I am Gneral Henri Kliest , late of the Ekaterinian Crusade, I was just preparing my troops to rejoin it. Can I help you."

"I would like to join my regiment the 1st Adavenian, to your troops," Lanni said as he took Klietst hand. "I will see to it that you get a full roster of my troops, but first I feel that the flight down was a bit bumpy and I need to borrow yer restrooms for a bit," Lanni patted his stomach for emphasis.

"Of course," Kliest replied and detailed an orderly to show him the way. That left him and Colonel Sampson alone, somewhat. "If I didnt know better I'd swear that he was..."

"And he is," Sampson interupted Kliest. "He just dosent know it. I dont know how it was done, but its him. He still has the same genius and natrual leadership, but he aint got a clue as to who he ws."

Kliest was stunned, "Who did this? Is he a clone?"

"I dont know who is dierctly responsible," Sampson replied with a shrug. "And the only two who would know are dead. I am sure that you have heard of the BoO," Sampson waited until Kliest nodded gravely for he knew all to well of the nefarious organisation and its plot to take over the Imperial Guard. "They were killed while on a mission to discover a local out post for the bastards. John and Jane had left word for us to link up with you here if somthing happened to them."

"How did they know I was here?" Kliest asked. He was sure his operational security was tight. He was sure that know one had infiltrated him.

"They have very strong connections," Sampson asnswered. "I even think that they are connected to Tera some how. "Both men made the sign of the Aquila at the mention of humanitys sacred homeworld.

"Very well," Kliest said as he turned and motioned for Sampson to follow. "We have much to do beofre we are able to move to Brianca."

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:21
Cardinal du Plessy walked down the length of the Cathedral in a hurry. His crimson robes floated about him and his pontifex guards had trouble keeping up with him. Behind the massive marble altar, guarded by a squad of Sisters of the Order of the Bloody Rose was a flight of stairs leading to the crypt where all the previous cardinals of Branica had been buried and where du Plessy hope to be buried himself, if he was not called to the Holy Synod of Terra or the Synod Ministra of Ophelia VII.
Stone statues of Imperial heroes guarded the alley. On either side were the massive tombs of the cardinals, each covered was covered by a recumbent statue of the occupant in full regalia. The cardinal stopped by the sepulchre of Cardinal Manaleus, the first Cardinal Astra of Branica, who lead the process before the Synod Ministra to make his world a Cardinal World. Du Plessy bowed slightly and moved on. He was in no mood for more genuflexations before the resting place of his glorious ancestor.
If what this Inquisitor had told him was true, he could very well be the last Cardinal of Branica, the one presiding over its downfall into the embrace of Chaos. That very thought made the gaunt man sick to his core.

Finally he reached the massive steel doors, deep below the cathedral. The gate, guarded by a squad of Celestians, was massive and represented Saint Ollanius Pius at different moment of his life, enrolling into the Imperial army on his homeworld, meeting the Emperor on Branica and having his vision, giving his life for the Emperor on Terra, the procession of his body back to his birthplace and finally the offering of his heart to Branica.
In fact, it had not been so easy. The young Ecclesiarchy had been the site of many battles, first to canonise Pius and then for Branica to receive the most holy of relic, the heart of the Saint.
'Who goes there?' the Celestians challenged him, levelling their bolters as they spoke.
'Cardinal Astra Armand du Plessy, humble servant of the Almighty Emperor.'
'Submit yourself cardinal, for you stand naked before the Emperor as you enter this most hallowed sanctum. Password for the day.'
'We strive forever to make ourselves worthy of the Emperor's sacrifice.'
'You may pass, your Excellency,' the Battle Sisters' stanced became less tense.
The cardinal submitted himself to a thorough search, produced proof of his identity thanks to voice print ID and DNA testing. He had to leave his Pontifex Guards at the entrance as he marched into the Chamber of the Heart.
Normally the Heart of Saint Pius was on display in another part of the Cathedral under careful guard. But since the enemy had made its intention known to steal it, it had been removed to a safer place. The room was shielded against teleportation and daemonic invasion, the doors could withstand the fury of a dreadnought for days on end and only very few people could enter the room, and each was thoroughly tested for loyalty.
The Heart itself was held in a beautiful reliquary on a pedestal in the centre of the room. It was a small square rought, roughly 30 centimetres to a side, inlaid with gold and jewels. Small bas-reliefs represented the episodes of the Saint's life.

Twenty minutes later, Cardinal du Plessy left the Chamber of the Heart and walked back up into the Cathedral. As he returned to his palace, still under the escort of his Pontifex Guards, he did not notice the figure cloaked in heavy black robes, standing in the darkness of a side chapel, pretending to pray. He did not see its predatory eyes following him and then turning their attention to entrace to the crypt.

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:22
Thought For The Day

When the Enemy opens the outer gate one must quickly enter! Make what he loves the first objective and hide the time of battle from him!


The Governor's Palace, Imoklee

Commissars Wu and Wugen strode towards where Jacka’s Command Group. Four Chimera’s lagered in under cover outside Governor Brasis palace. Wu noted that Jacka had two Squads of Kasrkin’s and a Squad of Ogryn’s with him plus his own Command Squad. Nearly forty troopers in all. Maybe not enough to do what they were going to do, but….. ‘Wu is Conner moving!’ asked Colonel Jacka as Wu and his sister approached.

‘Yes sir, they will arrive in about thirty minutes, if all goes well.’ replied the oriental Commissar. ‘I sure the Governor will be pleased’

‘Humph! Indeed he will Nugen. Now it’s time for us to do our part. Sgt Major! Lets move!' ordered Jacka.

‘Sir, Alright, you lot let mount up and get moving.’ replied Sgt Major Jamie Howe and the Troopers scrambled at his words.

The three Chimera’s headed towards the gates of the Governors Palace though the lines of the 17th/20th Valeria Carolonians that surrounded it. Jacka saw Lt Col Ney, the 17th/20th CO wave to him as they drove past. Three Rhino’s of the Iron Avengers joined Jacka’s column at that point. The gates before them slowly swung open and the vehicles entered the Palace and drove to the front entrance of the palace. Jacka from his vehicle could see the Governor and his entourage standing at the top of the stairs awaiting their arrival. The Governor had been told to expect the Warmaster. The Rhino’s and Chimera’s ground to a halt forming up in a semi circle at the bottom of the stairs facing out. Their ramps crashed to the ground and Jacka’s mob took up defensive positions. Jacka and his command squad strode up the stairs accompanied by a squad of Iron Avengers and Ogryn’s.

Brasis watched Jacka’s approach with distain. ‘Where is the Warmaster Brigader?’ he asked. ‘I have prepared a banquet for him! Is he coming?’

Jacka stood before Brasis and saluted replying. ‘No! As a matter of fact Governor and it’s Colonel not Brigadier. I don’t think you will have a chances to meet him now being that your a convicted gun runner and traitor.’

“What is this rot! What are you taking about! Don’t you know whom you are talking to fool.’ replied Brasis. ‘I’ll have you hung before dawn.’

‘I don’t think you will be alive by then.’ Commissar Wugen replied upholstering her bolt pistol. 'By the powers given me by the Holy Emperor of Terra you have been found to be a heritic and a traitor and for that the penalty is death.’ The bolt pistol barked once and Brasis headless body dropped to the ground. As did most of his entourage cut down by Bolt and Ripper Guns. The Palace Guard reacted, but Jacka’s mob had taken cover. A firefight erupted. It did not look good for Jacka's small force……………….

The Palace courtyard shook and the ground erupted in three places as huge Imperial Moles surfaced their offload ramps crashing to the ground. 12th Cadian Troopers swarmed down them and engaged the disorientated Palace Guards. Above Valkyries of 1st/2nd Tayhosian Mobile Infantry disgorged Troopers onto the palace roofs. It did not look good for the Palace Guard……………

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:23
The staff train rolled through the night, heading on the double to Tarispol on the river Pruth. Inside his office, under the giant painting of the Emperor smiting down Horus the traitor, Commissar-Lord assessed the situation of the first army of the Ekaterinian Crusade. Generally speaking the army was in good fighting conditions and had only suffer limited casualties. The Branican PDF had taken the brunt of the enemy onslaught before a long movement of retreat that for now had paused around Tiraspol.
The morale of the PDF was terrible. They had been battered time and again by the relentless advance of the Archenemy. The loss of the fortress of Cormandel was a mighty blow, not only strategically but most importantly morally. The PDF divisions need time to rest, reorganise themselves, replenish their numbers, but also to come to terms with the loss of the symbol of their resistance.

From the history of Branica, Brusilov had learned how much of a symbol Cormandel had been. During the Age of Apostasy Branica declared for Sebastian Thor and his Confederacy of Light. The Frateris Templar of High Lord Vandire came in great numbers to crush the rebellion led by the Cardinal Astra of Branica.
Like the forces of Chaos, they landed in Gholein and took the coastal provinces in a matter of weeks before moving inland, crossing the Dortah and coming before the might walls of the mesa.
For weeks on end the Frateris Templar bombarded Cormandel, launched multiple assault. A large unit of Brides of the Emperor, Vandire's praetorian guard, even assisted in the siege, almost storming the main gate in a daring assault.
But in the end the defenders prevailed. The army of Sebastian Thor were approaching Cormandel on their way to Terra. The Frateris retired before they could be attacked on the rear, leaving half-a-million of their own on the field dead. After the catastrophy of the destruction of the Frateris fleet by the storm of the Emperor's wrath, this latest battle gutted the fighting force of the Frateris Templar for good.

That such a symbol of the spirit of a world could now serve as the base for the Archenemy caused a powerful anger to rise in the old Commissar's chest. To add insult to injury, they had captured Saint Ekaterina. What they would do to her, he could not even start to imagine, but Drakkenhorst swore he would get her back alive.
The Inquisitor, his retinue and their guest, the mysterious Elric Jharlean Irsei, were now resting in another car. The pale and gaunt man had received a cold welcome from the Commissar, to say the least. The man had killed Valerie Constantine, and Brusilov was not one to forget a grudge easily, even if he was supposedly on their side now. It was only Drakkenhorst's protection that kept him from drawing his sword at the fiend.

The train slowed down and gently came to stop in a station lost in the middle of nowhere. Brusilov instantly rose to his feet, bolt pistol in hand. His staff train had the highest priority identification, guaranteeing priority over all other convoys, except the Cardinal himself, and the man was currently in Shanalorn.
The Commissar excited his officer, into the corridor, whose floor was covered with thick burgundy carpet. A Branican lieutenant, laspistol in hand, waved his troopers outside. Brusilov followed, stopping in midstep as he saw forms moving out of the darkness.
As he jumped from the car, a full platoon of Branican troopers were in position around and on top of the train. A platoon of Kriegan troopers were reinforcing their position. A cold winter breeze was blowing, almost instantly freezing the Commissar to the bone. Johann, Brusilov's aide came running with his furlined black long coat.
'Any idea who's out there?'
'No clue, sir,' replied the lieutenant nervously, 'the driver stopped here for no apparent reason. We found him inconscious in the locomotive.'
'Warpcraft,' mumbled the Commissar angrily.
The lieutenant made the sign of the Aquila.

'We come in peace,' said someone from the darkness in low gothic. Brusilov recognised the voice, 'we stand together in this time of peril.'
The old Eldar Seer stepped out of the darkness. His movements were stiff and he leened heavily on his staff.
'Hold your fire,' ordered Brusilov instantly, fearing one of the nervous troopers could take a potshot at a potential ally.
'We meet again, Commissar,' the Eldar's face was unreadable under his helmet, but Brusilov was sure he was smiling knowingly.
'So we do, Ashafar'yirraith,' came a voice from behind the Commissar.
Drakkenhorst stepped down from the train a heavy brown coat drawn around him.
'Inquisitor, my pleasure to meet you again in this dark hour.'
'Cut the chatter Eldar,' snapped Drakkenhorst, 'I don't have time to playing guessing games with you. You said that you'd protect her, but where were you when she was taken?'
'Such anger,' the Seer shook his head, 'we came as fast as we were able. The enemy has clouded our vision. We only found out recently of his plans. It is why we are here.'
Drakkenhorst laughed heartily.
'An Eldar admitting he made a mistake. There is something you're not telling us.'
'Isn't there always?' replied the Eldar, 'but I would not divulge or retain information that would be harmful to you.'
The Seer waved his three Warlock bodyguards into the light.
'Let us be on our way, shall we? Time is off the essence.'

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:24
Imokolee, Warmaster Hunter's HQ

Hunter reveiwed the latest information from the GHQ on Camulod, most of it was good or even better than expected. "Orders to Marshall Hoth comander of the Second Army of the Ekaterinian Crusade.

"Regroup and continue yer push into the Concordat. Our flank there must be secure. Situation on Brianca is well in hand and Commisar Lord Brusilov well capable of keeping the situation under control."

Sgt O'Connor hos comms officer nodded and then left for the astropathic chior to see the message off to the Corsican General. Hunter then picked up the next dataslate whic was mostly a boring report from Praefectus Allenius on how the supplies were now flowing in and the stockpile was at an all time high. Hunter was so deep in thought that he didnt even notice his half brother Bart walk in.

Bart stood before the Warmaster for over two minutes before he cleared his throat. Hunter lokked up and motioned for him to report. "Sir word just came in from Colonel Jacka that he has taken the govenors palace and expects to have it fully secured by sundown."

"Send my compliments to mys stepfather Colonel Jacka and ask him to report here for further orders," Hunter said as he lit one of his everpresent Cigars. Bart saluted and left his office. Hunter stretched in his chair, and act that not only caused many stiffened joints to pop loudly, but also caused him much pain from his still healing wound to his ribs and side.

"Damn that Jagdus Dashor," Hunter swore and returned to his pile of paperwork. Sometimes it wasnt so good to be Warmaster.

***********************************************

Sasnak polar region, rally point Alpha

"Wild" Bill Kittle stepped off the ramp of the decsnding Valkyrie as it touched down. He saw that General James Gavin was waiting for him. He could also tell that the Forseti General was of mixed emotions, he was angry and confused. The former at being set off to conquer the enemy only to be forced to retreat as his infantry support was snatched up away from him. The latter because the provost guards at the rally point as well as the mix of Adeptus Arbites were not only directing his mechanised units to well built and protected berms for resupply, but then facing south, as if he was expected to go on the offensive.

Kittle returned the stiff and very formal slaute from Gavin and motioned for him to fall in beside him. A look from him to his staff noted that he wanted to talk in private. "I owe ya an a apology Jim," Kittle said once they were out of earshot. "I should'a told ya my plan, but for operational security I felt it was better fer ya to be in the dark. It made yer retreat look a helluva lot more convincin' and they took the bait."

Gavin listened with intense silence. He wanted to scream at the Carolonian General who was his commander, but with proffesional will he kept his cool. Kittle then handed him a dataslate. Keying in his code he looked at the first picture. It was a sattelite recon photo of the enemy armor and infantryhe had been ordered to attack."The photo nerds say rgar rge enemy in the first set are over 300,000 strong, more than twice our numbers.Keep going," Kittle ordered.

General Gavin scrolled down and it took several frames before he began to notice a difference but it was there. He scrolled back up and then again down. The farther north, the fewer they were. Then he reached the end, it was dated two hours previous. The picture was staggering, if his guess was right ten the enemy was now about a quarter the size of his own force. "Why sir did you keep ordering me to fall back if they were being affected this way?" Gavin knew what had killed the enemy, it wasnt his men, nor the Naval aripower, thought they had certainly made their presence felt. It was the extreme cold.

"Timin'," was trhe one word answer "Wild" Bill gave. "What is the worst way to attack an enemy?"

"Piecemeal," Gavin answered.

"Exactly," Kittle grinned. "Now yer gonna get to attack and enemy who is piecemeal on the feild, and dont worry yer gonna be given full reign this time. Destroy 'em and leav to survivors behind. In one hour the line of artilery will open up with a creepin' barrage that will hit whats left out there like a hammer. That will be yer signal, yer gonna be a sledgehammer and drive all the way to the center. Airborne troops will soon begin an assault on their main fortress to the south. Yer job is to clear the way for the rest of the I Corps."

Gavin nodded his head then looked tKittle in the eyes as he handed the dataslate back to him, " Just one thing sir."

"Yes?" Kittle asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Tell the Arty noys to leave us a little somthing to kill," Gavin said with a grin.
************************************************

Imokolee Hunters HQ, six hours later

Colonel Jacka, Commisars Wu and Wujen, and Major Conner walked into Hunters makeshift office. "I see you are actually in a building this time Warmaster," Wu commented on Hunters normal preference to a feild tent.

"Hunter rolled his eyes, " ya can thank that sawbone Evans and his co coconspiritor Gorgidas fer that," Hunter said with mock disgust in his voice. " They claim I'll be at much less risk to infection here." aAgian he made a show of rolling his eyes then he turned serious. " Congrats on such a well run and planned op."

"Thanks Hoots," Jacka said with a smile as he took a seat and filled a snifter with Cadian brandy. "There are still a few pockets of resistance, but I think they'll be snuffed out by morning."

"Good, because you have six days to get yer boys packed up and ready to move," Hunter said lighting up a cigar.

"Brianca?" Jacka asked.

"No," Hunter replied softly. "As ya know I wanted yer Brigade to be my rapid assault force. Ya have p[roven today as well as on Tarpons Cross that ya were well suited to that. Now we have another job fer ya. "Hunter handed a dataslate to Jacka, who immediately began to scan its content.

"Cyrnacia," Hunter began as a holoimage of the world popped up from his desk. "It was once a mining world that has largly been stripped of its ore and now survives by minin' the gas giant that it orbits for plasm. There is also an inward world by the name of Cuewaite that produces quite a bit of Promethium. My agent there has informed me that recently the Govenor has been a little tardy on his tithe to the Imperium and that the quality of both plasma and promethium has been poor at best. It was actually Magos Iriran that brought this to my attention.

"My agent on the ground says that huge shipments have made their way to the Concordat and he has even witnessed at least three plasma shipments to Zymran, " Hunter paused as he saw that he had everyones attention. "This world is vital to the Crusade in many ways and I want it back."

Jacka finished reading the datalslate and passed it to Conner. "Is Tobruk the only major fortifications?"

"Accordin' to my agebr yes," Hunter replied.

Jacka grinned. " I get the feeling that you want me to ask you who yor agent is."

Hunter grinned as well and said one word. "Imrador."

Jackas smile got even wider. "Good chap, couldnt ask for a better agent. SOP on taking care of the Govenor?"

Hunter nodded affirmative, "Get me a list of what ya need, even how2 many of the Iron Avengers ya want. Yer ships will be here in seven days."

"I thought we had plenty of transport in orbit?" Commisar Wujen asked.

"We do, but I'm sendin' ya'll in, ummm, a lil unconventionally," Hunter grinned. "Ya will be brought into the system by Captains Drake, Trask, and Teach."

"They wont even know we are there untill we land on their heads!" Conner smacked his fist into his palm.

"Alright folks we have a bit of planning to do so lets get to it," Jacka rose saluted Hunter who waved off the salute in his casual Carolonian way.

As Jacka nd his staff were waiting on the elevator with Bart who had just jioned them to check on the latest message from Brianca Conner spoke up with an observation. "His Warmastership seems to be having us sack a good number of Govenors palaces."

"What do you mean?" Jacka asked curious about the statement.

"Tintagel on Camulod. We did take the "residence from the Orks on Tarpons Cross, though you couldnt really call that backwater a palace. We were the flank assault on Egea that led to the Capitol. Here on Imokolee, and now Cyrenacia."

"It should be obvious," Bart spoke from the rear of the group. All turned to the red haired giant and waited for his answer. "He wants troops experienced in this so that when he gets ready to assault Holy Terra he'll have men and women who know what to do."

Jacka and his staff stared with open mouths at the former preacher of the Imperial Cult. Then as a grin cracked on his face they all laughed. Jacka especially hard, this was the first joke he could remember the dour Chief of staff ever making. That made him laugh even harder.

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:24
Sasnak

Captain Russell Kittle adjusted his nightvision goggles as he looked down at the glow strips on the backs of the helmets of his platoon. they were descending at a good rate and well on target. Nodding to himself he adjusted the descent of his gravchute and loosened his new bullpup style lasgun in his harness as to be ready for touchdown.

Russel as commander of the platoon was the only one not in a buddy rig. The rest of his HAHO platoon were strapped to one heavy duty gravchute tandemly. The man in the back was controlling the descent, while his partner in front was aiming his lasgun at targets on the roof of the former Wardens spire of the main penal compound. Their orders were plain, secure the roof, take no prisoners.

Three flashes to the right. Russell looked that way wondering who was shooting so early, then he looked to the target and saw four dead bodies sprawled on the roof. It was his new platoon Sgt, York. The other shooters soon followed his lead and all the sentries were soon dead where they fell.

Russell flared his chute out as he landed and realeased the straps, literally walking out of the chute and onto the roof. "Roof secure!" York reported coming up to his side. The deadly sharpshooter had just transfered in to the 82nd Airborne Assault regiment several weeks ago and his experience was already having a positive effect.

"Cap," a voice came over the microbead. "Could ya tell Yorkie there to save a few fer us next time." York grinned sheepishly in the dim light.

Russell turned to his vox operator, "message to HQ. Target secure movin' on to secondary targets." The master voxoperator nodded and began to speak into the vox relaying the message. When he nodded that it was done Russell motioned to his men to begin their downward assault . They were tasked with taking the main control center and securing it while other para teams from the 82nd were simarly assaulting AA positions.

Thirty minutes later Russel walked into a blood spattered control room. His vox operator reporting that all AA sites were secured and that the troops that had secured them were prepared to turn the guns on any who fired at the now incoming 101st Air Assault regiment.

Russell watched as they came in by Valkyrie. The troops ships , escorted by Vulture gunships, flared out and the guardsmen began to fastrope down to the streets and buildings. The assault began in earnest then. The former prisoners, traitor guardsmen and other malcontents hearing the approach of the troops transports rushed from their barracks to defend their position.

"Activate the riot supression system,"Russell ordered. One of his troopers tapped in a command to the machine spirit and within seconds gunservitors and robotic guns began to sweep the various courtyards where the traitors and former prisoners were gathered in their disorganised mobs. The troops in the captured AA guns added their fire to the massacre and soon the enemy, not completely stupid withdrew inside the buildings and the 101st landed without much resistance.

For the next six hours the 82nd and 101st cleared buildings one by one and secured an even larger area of the massive Imperial prison, which like most Imperial edifices was huge and done on a grand scale. Once a large enough area was secured the heavy lift transports came in and began to disgorge their cargo of light infantry on the ground.

With the ground troops in position and reinforcements for both the 82nd and 101st now in place the prisoners and traitors knew that they were trapped between the hammer and anvil. Some jumped to their death. Others committed to suicidal charges and were cut down where they ran. Most however were determined to make the Imperial troops pay for every inch of ground and threw up makeshift barricades and made improvised bunkers with beds, tables, burnt desks and file cabinets. The Colonels and other officers knew there would be no mercy from either side and that quarter would neither be asked nor given. The bloody fighting began.

************************************************

South of the Polar defence line

General James Gavin looked over the carnage that the vengeful Imperial Guard troops were wreaking. The traitors tanks were ill prepared and poorly maintained. They had bgegan to breakdown and fall apart three days prior. Whether from gelled fuel lines, frozen hydrualics, or failure of heater elements that allowed the crews to slowly freeze to death.

All along his line of retreat he and his troops found broken and discarded vehicles. Whhere it was a mechanical failure the crew was found frozen not twenty feet away. Those with presence of mind and some working part of their vehicle whos stayed inside died an ironic flaming death in the frozen wasteland. Where troopers of the enemy were found alive they were ruthlessly gunned down, or ground under the treads into a bloody pulp.

"The enemy is broken," he commented to himself as he surveyed the righteous carnage his troops were bringing to the fools who had threw off and abandoned the true faith of Him on Earth. "Message to General Kittle. We are advancing faster than projected and will reach our secondary objective in two more hours."

Gavin knew tat the farther south he and his men went they would encounter more of the enemy, but helaso knew they were broken and demoralised and would put up little fight. "Enjoy the easy fight while it lasts boys," he muttered. " The next one may not be this easy."

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:26
Hexerei sat in his chambers. He appeared to be meditating but was in fact using his powers to keep watch over the Warmaster, on the floor above, just in case Dashor chose to attack while Hunter was weakened by his wounds. Hexerei allowed himself a small smile at Bart’s comment about taking Holy Terra. It would be interesting to see how well the crusade would do against the Emperors thrown world. He chuckled slightly at the thought of the High Lords being forced to surrender to Hunter. But his chuckle quickly turned into gasps as searing lances of pain shot through him. Arching his back in pure and total agony, Hexereis howl shook the windows out of their panes and plaster fell from the roof.

Almost directly above Hexereis quarters, Bart also screamed in pain. It was so severe he slumped over and Jacka had to catch him before he hit floor. The Colonel gently lowered the bear of a man to the floor, which was still shaking from the force of the Librarians roars of pain. Jacka was just forcing some water between the ex preachers lips when Hexerei bounded up the corridor towards them. Skidding to a halt beside Bart he knelt down, “you felt it too?”
Bart nodded weakly, “aye, I did. Yet I dread to speak of it.”

Hunter heard the howl that Herexei gave and looked up. "What the fu..." he started to ask the empty room when he heard Bart scream as well.
He stood too quickly and regretted it as his ribs moved in a way they shouldn’t while still healing. Reaching for his holster he pulled a small hell pistol and limped into the hall in the direction of his brothers scream, Hef was right behind him bolt gun levelled. When they reached the elevator they saw that Herexei had already made it to Barts side and was kneeling beside him. "What happened?"
"Warmaster I fear..." Herexei began but Bart sat up and put a hand on his armoured forearm. The young Librarian stopped and let Bart tell the Warmaster the news knowing that it would come from him better.
"Its Ekaterina," Bart began. "Something has happened to the lass. I fear it is not good."
"She is in pain," Herexei filled in. "I fear she has fallen into Zymrans hands."
Hunter stood transfixed for a moment. Ekaterina had inhabited the body of his childhood love and first wife. Even though they had gone through a very bitter divorce he had still carried a torch for he all through the years. He refused to believe that Donna was gone and the Saint remained for a long time but recently had accepted it. Part of him still hung on to the love for his former wife though, he was as fanatical about her safety as Brusilov, but admittedly for different reasons.
Hunter fixed a now standing Bart who was also his chief of staff with a hard stare. "Confirm this."
"Aye Warmaster," Bart replied as Hunter turned to return to his quarters.
"Hoots are the Orphans still to go to Cyrenacia?" Jacka asked sensing a change in orders.
Hunter turned to Jacka and very coolly answered. "Those are yer orders Colonel. See to it that they are carried out." Hunter then limped back to his office leaving his friends staring after him.

Antaeus
22-08-2005, 11:27
Draeg, Segmentum Obscuras

The assembled ranks of grey-clad soldiers stood in rigid formations, autoguns slung over their shoulders, their heads upraised. The static parade was a magnificent sight in the central square of the city of Martiz, capital of the northern continent of Draeg. They faced the magnificent Helskis building, the newly finished structure’s windows glowing, reflecting the afternoon sunshine, its orange stone and intricate architecture already cited as one of the most magnificent sights in the Concordat.

“Come here, Captain.”

Captain Mayne of the Draegan Storm Trooper Brigade gulped, straightened the collar of his dress uniform, and walked to the side of the man who stood staring out of the building’s window.

“Sir?”

“Look at them, Mayne. The first batch of new recruits. Men and women ready to give their lives for humanity’s future. The first wave of troops to stand between our new order and the bastard Imperium that has perverted the Emperor’s dream.”

Mayne tried to control his shaking hands, clasped behind his back, sweat making his armoured gauntlets slick. “A magnificent sight, sir.”

“You need not fear me, Captain.” The man who addressed him turned to look at Mayne. General Kerris Angrabode looked up at the Storm Trooper, the General’s elaborate dress uniform not reducing his imposing appearance. His right hand was a metallic claw, and the left side of his face and mouth were replaced by bionic faceplates, covering scars of battles fought before Mayne’s creation had even been considered as a possibility by his parents.

“These men and women are the future of our race, Arik. Men and women like you. Not me. People with dreams, with hopes. People, who see in the embers of dying stars, not one more thing destroyed, but the future of their race.” Angrabode’s organic eye sharpened. “I am old, Arik. Older, probably, than you think.” He leaned on the cane in his right hand. “You are a man who has seen the crossover, from the stagnant Imperium to the new dawn of the Novus Terram Concordat. My life’s work. My dream - and the dream of several others like me. A new way for humanity to live. Not as slaves to the doctrines of the Ecclesiarchy, the witch hunts of the Inquisition, but as a glorious civilisation. Of cities, with spires that reach the sun.”

The older man looked back out of the window at the assembled troops of the Draegan 3rd’s new recruits. “The strangest part is, a mere six months ago the third were loyal to the bastard Imperium. Now? All twenty Draegan legions are under my command. The Concordat is strong, and growing stronger. And it is men like you, Arik, that have made this happen. Not me. I give the orders, plan the battles, but I am no leader, no orator. I am not an inspiration. I am followed only because people fear my wrath.” He looked up at the taller Captain once more. “That is now what the human race deserves as a leader, Arik. I lead the Concordat, but when I am gone, I want you to succeed me.”

Arik Mayne’s jaw dropped. “But…sir? What about Colonel Vasska? Any Colonel of the other regiments?”

Kerris Angrabode shook his head, what remained of his face betraying disappointment. “No, Arik. No. While I trust them, they have never shown me loyalty in the way you have. They are like me: of the old order, who made their stand against the Imperium’s rape of our beloved world…or didn’t, in some cases.” The General blinked slowly. “They have not risked their life for me on the battlefield, shown their devotion to the cause by shedding their blood. The Concordat doesn’t need a leader as my successor, Arik. It needs a hero.”

A pause. Then Angrabode nodded. “Return to your men, Captain. Tomorrow you head for Tyrandel: the Imperium, it appears, has started to take notice of us at last.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Mayne saluted, and walked off down the marble corridor, boots clicking on the floor. Outside, civilians lined the streets, shouting and singing as they watched the parade. Mayne stopped to listen to what they were saying.

Ann-grabode!
Ann-grabode!
Ann-grabode!

The young Draegan soldier shook his head as he headed to join his squad. The General may be feared, thought Mayne, but he was wrong when he claimed not to be a hero.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:26
This was probably the most bizarre assembly Drakkenhorst had ever attended. Brusilov had segregated himself by sitting behind his massive desk, the old man was brooding over the loss of the Saint. Although he said nothing, the Inquisitor knew he was eager to be off to save her. Duty was all he had left.
The Eldar Seer sat in a comfortable looking armchair. He seemed awkwardly uncomfortable however, probably not used to human furniture. His helmet rested at his feet but his hand had never left his intricately decorated staff. His three Warlock bodyguards surrounded him.
Drakkenhorst sat across from the Seer. Malyssia has silently slipped into the room without anyone noticing. The Warlocks had jumped when they had seen her appear out of nowhere and stand beside her master, one hand on his shoulder and one on her blade. She was dressed to kill, as always, in her black bodyglove.

Elric's entrance made quite an impression. Brusilov knew he travelled with the Inquisitor, but the man who had killed Valerie Constantine was hardly welcome, even when Drakkenhorst said he was on their side now. Elric was dressed in fine purple robes, embroided with silver, creating complex mystic patterns.
Drakkenhorst could not repress a smile when he saw the Seer's eye widen with surprise at the sight of Elric. Centuries of genetic engineering had made his people look outwardly completely like Eldar. The albino bowed slightly and greeted the Eldar with an incredibly circumvoluted form of welcome in their own language. The Inquisitor himself was shocked by Elric's abilit to perfectly mimick the Eldar. Eldar tongue relied heavily on body language, which could convey incredible nuances of meaning. Humans, even the most versed in the Eldar language, could never hope to reproduce such complicated attitudes, which explained why the Eldar thought humans to be clumsy barbarians. But Elric had moved with the incredible ease that came from practice, a perfection that could have fooled any Eldar.
Ashafar'yirraith rose from his feet to greet the albino in the same manner. They exchanged a few words at such speed and with such complex layers of meaning that Drakkenhorst could hardly understand what they said. The gist of it was clear however, Elric was giving them a rapid explanation as to his appearance and ability. The old Seer had regained his contenance but the Inquisitor was sure he must feel a mixture of disgust and awe at such a bastard being.

'Since we're all here, can we get down to business?' snapped the Commissar from behind his desk.
Elric turned to bow to Brusilov but the old man made an dismissing wave of the hand, telling him that he did not want his respects. The albino showed nothing of his emotions on that altercation. He was probably used to such reaction. Brusilov had every reason to despise him: he was an abomination to the Imperium, he had killed Praefectus Constantine and tried to kill Ekaterina, hardly the way to gain the Commissar's trust.
The Inquisitor rose from his seat.
'We are all gathered here because we need to find a way to free the Saint from the clutches of Zymran before he accomplished whatever nefarious purpose he has in mind for her.'
'I disagree with your assessment Inquisitor,' remarked the Eldar, 'if Zymran wanted to kill Ekaterina, he would have done so long ago. He is after the Heart of Pius. This will be his main target.'
'For now, the Heart is as safe as can be. We need to think of a better way to protect it, but the authorities of Branica have been very uncooperative on that matter. And I will not use my Inquisitorial prerogatives and antagonise Cardinal du Plessy, who has proved to be a valuable ally. And even if Zymran has no immediate plan for the Saint, he still intends to kill her in the long run. So we'd be thwarting his plans, not matter what.'
'You are also forgetting Daehlg'gkor. He will not stop until he has accomplished whatever he intends to do.'
'Personally I believe he decided to act through a proxy, Zymran, and will dispose of him when the time comes.'
'I disagree, Inquisitor. Zymran seeks to make himself a daemon. He will be Daelhg'gkor's equal, if not more, if that happens. The Betrayer hates Zymran as much as he hates your Imperium or us.'
'Could we return to the matter at hand,' intervened Elric.
Brusilov grunted his agreement.
'Very well. We know Ekaterina is detained within the fortress of Cormandel, probably in the Citadel...'
'Great,' commented Brusilov sarcastically, 'I barely escaped that hellhole and we have to return there. Maybe I should have stayed there and waited for you.'
'Please, Commissar, this is a serious matter. I do not have time for your sarcasms.'
'Less talk, more action. The more time we spend talking here, the more that bastard can torture her.'
'I entirely agree with the Commissar. I cannot stand while my lady is being held prisoner by this monster.'
'She's not your lady!' shouted Brusilov with anger as he rose to his feetn, 'She is a Living Saint of the Imperium, you mutant abomination! You filthy murderous traitor! I can hardly believe you would trust someone like him Heinrich.'
'Both of you, stop it,' stated Ashafar'yirraith calmly, 'you are not helping Commissar. You are making lose this precious time you speak of.'
Brusilov mumbled something about Eldar and sat back in his chair.
'Very well, here is my plan...' began Drakkenhorst.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:26
Balmounth IV, Concordat controlled space

The nine Adeptus Astartes advanced with a will down the alleyway. They advanced towards the sound of gunfire, that is where they would show themselves to their new allies. Allies that did not even know of their presence as of yet.

Moonlight glinted off the black armor and bone colored robes to make them looke ghostly in the alley way. They were well armed as their kind always are, six with bolters, one plasma gun and one plasma cannon. The leader moving silently at their head carried a huge sword that non had seen him unsheathe yet. The eight who were with him knew he preffered the mastercrafted pistols he wore on his belt. They knew too that he was deadly accurate with them.

The leader held up a clenched fist and the column stopped, each warrior scanning his assigned quadrant for detection while keeping and eye on their leader. With silent hand signals he motioned his intentions and they spread out to attack thier as yet unseen foe.

Coming out of the alley they saw that at least a company of infantry supported by an aging Leman Russ had cornerd a platoon of infantry and was slowly moving to outflank them. The banner of the PDF flew from the tank, and that of the Concordat was laying tattered at the top of a pile of rubble that served as a barricade for the Draegans.

The leader pointed to the rear of the tank and Brother Caius raised his plasma cannon. He fired and the superheated plasma rached to the rear of the tank. It impacted burning through the external fuel tanks igniting them and into the crewcompartment igniting ammunition for the main gun. The top of the tank blew off in a magnificent explosion and cartwheeled in the air, landing on a autocannon crew killing them instantly.

The Astartes then opened fire on the surprised PDF forces. It was a massacre. They fired as they advanced, the leader at the fore. His bolt pistol and palsma pistol finding the mark every time, never a miss even when he fired at different targets.

The Draegans now no longer pinned down rose and grabbed their fallen banner and charged into their former tormenters. The battle was brutal, and quick. Over in less than two minutes the Draegan Captain, a man named Quinn came over to thank the Adeptus Astartes.

"Get on your vox and contact General Angrabode," the Astartes leader said from inside his hood that shadowed his face. "Tell him that Cypher and the Fallen have joined his cause."

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:27
Ekaterina awoke with a shout and blindly tried to chase the rat away. She sat against the wall and started sobbing. No matter what she did or how she try to lie down, the filthy beasts would come and try to take a bit from her whenever she fell asleep.
She had lost all notion of time. She would catch a few minutes sleep here and there before being awaken by rats biting into her flesh. There seemed to be no logic to how she was fed either. It seemed at times she would go on for days without eating and then suddenly they would throw a bowl, containing a light gruel, and a piece of black bread into her cell. She would have to fight off the rats to earn her right to eat.
Her cell was so small she could neither stand up to lie down completly. It was incredibly incomfortable and very tiring. On top of that, she had nowhere to relieve herself, meaning she survived in her own filth.
She hated this cell so much she welcomed the torture sessions, or in fact the moment between being taken out of her cell and being attacked to whatever bizarre and twisted devise she was to be tortured upon.

The Saint could feel her mind slowly coming apart. She was losing her sanity and her will to live, piece by piece. The only thing she had left was her faith, but Zymran made a travesty of that, by organising false services to the Emperor, that he twisted so that they would pay hommage to the Ruinous Powers instead. She was thankful he had removed her sight because the mere sounds, in fact the screams and the chanting, were already too much for her.

She berated herself yet again for her stupidity. She had thought she could single handedly stop the daemonic infestation, just as she had done on Carolon with the High Basilica. She had paid for her arrogance. It was as much the Emperor's punishment as it was Zymran trying to break her.
At that thought her heart sank. The Emperor had forsaken her, abandoned her to her fate, blind and afraid in the heart of the enemy's stronghold. She wanted to scream, but would not give her geolers such satisfaction. She dimly remembered that people, Brusilov, Drakkenhorst, Hunter, would do anything in their power to help her if they could.
She had felt so useless, always safely hidden away and then shown to the troops, before being returned to her golden prison, where she could not help those who truly needed it.

She heard the door unlock and sensed Zymran's presence on the door step. She had lost her sight, including her witchsight with which she could see people's aura, but the power exuding from him was so overwhelming she could recognise him without doubt.

She had been out of her cell for half an hour, she had been cleansed of her filth and dressed in a loose gown, she had not been beaten or tortured yet, which surprised her even more.
Zymran was near her, she had been chained to his throne. She could sense it was moving. Suddenly the cold winter air rushed at her and she started to shiver.
Zymran's gauntleted hand forced her to rise to her feet. And she heard the roar of triumph and hatred, the sounds of thousands of boots stomping the ground, the amplified bellowing of Chaos Marines, the roar of daemon engines.
Ekaterina cried softly as she realised she was being paraded as a trophy.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:28
Corsica
Military High Command

“The Orks have been pushed out of the Ragaul system, and their invasion of the rest of the sector is falling apart.” First Consul Emmanuelle Maximillion listened as Marshal Shaw finished his report on the Corsican seventh Army.

“As soon as it is prudent,” said the First Consul, “the tenth army will take over operations in the sector.”

The holo-image of Marshal Caruso flickered as he said, “With all due respect, your excellency, the tenth army is strained to the limit as it is keeping the Korotor sector from collapsing.”

“Perhaps, but not for long,” responded the First Consul. “Palatani has pledged six entire legions of soldiers to our efforts, which are even now on their way to relieve the seventh army as they make ready to pull out.”

Marshal Caruso accepted this with a nod. The First Consul then addressed the entire council by saying boldly, “The war in the Eye of Terror has taken a turn for the worst. Though the forces of the Arch-Defiler have been checked by the armies of the Imperium, independent warlords have started to raid deep into imperial space.”

“How does that concern us?” asked Prefect Warlen who barely concealed the contempt in his voice.

“Though it is our plan to one day secede from the dying carcass of the Imperium,” said the First Consul, “This can only happen if their attentions are focused on more important areas such as Cadia, the Tau Empire, or Hive Fleet Leviathan. We cannot tolerate a victory for them, because it will spell the doom of everything we have built in spite of their corruption and tyranny. Nor can we allow them to be overrun because that would damn our entire race.”

“That is why,” he continued, “The seventh army will be sent to help Warmaster Hunter as he fights the Dread-Lord Zymran. I don’t need to tell any of you what the creation of a demon world so far behind imperial lines would do to their war efforts.”

“Will I be leading them?” asked Marshal Shaw.

“No,” said the First Consul. “Marshal Kerry has just recently turned traitor and I need a command I can trust to take over command of the third army while we purge those that worked with him as he betrayed everything our planet stands for.”

“Then who will be in command?” asked Marshal Caruso.

“The only man that I can trust who isn’t otherwise tied down with other matters,” he said. “Henri Kleist.”

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:29
General Gavin had the city of Yalifraxia in his magnoculars. The giant industrial city was home to mechanical factories, PDF weapon stores, and most importantly, nutrient processing centers. The people of Branica were fatigued and starving, and the quicker the Forseti could capture this city, the sooner the Branicans could get back on their feet. After hearing the epic tales of heroism on part of the Branican people and their Kriegan allies, General Gavin felt it was the least he could do to repay the heroes for their unparalled heroism and stoic dedication to the Imperium.

The city was something to behold. Massive stone arches, scores of stories high, surrounded the city. Mounted atop them was heavy weaponry, massive quantities of stolen Imperial munitions and a small scattering of equipment unique to the traitor leagions. Autocannons barrels poked out from every crenelation on the wall, heavy bolters peered from arched windowsills, rocket launchers waited in sandbagged apertures, and even battlecannons were mounted, waiting for the right time to launch their internecine shells of fyceline. As intimidating as the outer fortress was, it was a large target, and an immobile on at that, and consequently, defeated before the battle began.

A combined artillery air and artillery assault would be launche don the city. The outer suburbs and fortress walls would be bombarded with Basilisk and high density mortar fire. Simultaneously, a pending air drop from the as-yet-to-be-committed remainders of the 82nd and 101st Air Assault regiments would form a circular buffer zone between the fortress walls and the industrial objective. The Forseti mechanized forces would breach the gaps in the outer walls, link up with the Drop Troops, and then advance from all sides with infantry and light vehicles.

The last part was what intimidated Gavin. The couldn't use heavy artillery, or even their vaunted Paladin tanks, for fear they'd destroy the nutrient and industrial plants, undoing the whole point of the campaing. That left only infantry with special weapons and the lightest of the heavy weapons to advance in a building-to-building clearign campaign, all the while protecting Techpriests who would follow closely behind to cleanse the Chaotic taint of the Yalifraxian machinery.

The plan was still in its formulative stages, and rided heavily on the committal of Drop Troops, but Gavin knew he owed this much, to both his own men and the men on Branica, who gave so much to for so little.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:30
Spacelane to Brianca

Grignoff looked at the convoy of supply ships headed to the enbattled world of Brianca. If it were not for the Murder class Cruiser and half dozen Iconoclast escorts the rest of the convoy of fuel tankers, troops transports and bulk freighters would look like any Imperial convoy. It would be the tenth victim in eight days for the Bloodaxe leader. The first convoys of Zymrans that he had hit were very lightly guarded, but it seemed that they were learning.

"Dem Spikey gits are puttin' more ships and a Krooza to protc dere supplies," he said to himself. "Woan do 'em no good dough, 'cause we is Orks and we are da best fighters dere is! Aint dat rat boyz?"

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggggggggggggh!" was his reply from his deck crew.

Grignoff looked a litle closer at the formation and saw that one of the Iconclasts was hanging a little farther back than would be expected. "Me finks da Spikey gitz are tryin' ta traps us." He turned to what passed for a comms officer on the bridge. "Tell all da boyz to attack."

With the order the Ork fleet of 35 ships surged forward. They launched a salvo of toppedoes and missiles at extreme range. All the Chaos ships were able to avoid them with ease but it broke up the defensive cohesion and allowed the smaller RamKroozas to get in and board the slow lumbering fuel tankers.

Two of the tankers managed to self destruct before they could be rammed. Bright with burning promethium and venting atmosphere they shuddered and began to tumble in their death throes. seven others were captured and the Orks began to manuver them back to their own lines. The rst of the fleet closed in on the other fourteen ships and began to destroy the lightly armored and armed vessles.

The Chaos ships tried to stem the tide and defend where they could, but being outnumbered as they were their only hope lie in trying shepered as many as they could towards Brianca. The fight was bitter but one by one the Iconoclasts were destoyed and the Murder class was beginning to list to the starboard side.

As if that was the cue the fabric of space itself tore and three Slaughter class cruisers and more than a dozen escorts poured through the rip in reality. They bore down on the Ork fleet from the rear fully intent on anihilating the menace that had cost Lord Zymran so many valuble supplies in the past weeks. The Murder class Cruiser suddenly righted itself from its sham damage and began to pour devastaing broadsides into a light Krooza. The Ork ship didnt last long and soon was a drifting pile of scrap metal in space.

"Tell Snarlgaffs ladz dat it time fere dem to earn dere pay," Grignoff said to his Comms officer.

The Ork began to transmit the orders to Grignoffs reserve when the comscreen went black. "Stupid fing!" he yealled as he stood and grabbed the nearest grot and slammed the helpless creature who was screeching "pweeeze bozz doan 'it me on dat fing!" into the comcenter. After about three trys the screen came back up and the Ork issued the orders to Snarlgaff. Then he dropped the now limp and bloody grot on the deck.

"Sumbuddy clean dat mess up!" the Comms officer snapped and imediatley half a dozen grots were swabbing the deck, keeping and eye on the comms officer in case anything else broke and needed fixing.

Snarlgaffs squadron of twelve ships powered up and charged into the Chaos flank while Grignoffs fleet divded in two. The first half turned to face the incoming threat while the rest, mostly lighter ships of the frigate class circled and poured many rounds into the Murder class that was now all alone.

The Chaos commander continued to charge at Grignoffs main line which was still shaking itself out into a battle line. He knew he would have but the one chance. Torpedoes were fired by both sides and as ships dodged and eva=aded the missiles deck crews laoded thier guns. Soon projectiles were racing across the gap between the ships. The Chaos gunners proved that they were more accurate than the ir Ork foes as more of their shots hit home, but they were badly outnumbered and out gunned as well.

At first several Ork ships were damaged, and two were outright destoyed, but the Orks could absorb the loss. They just kept moving forward and firing away, more than one shot striking a friendly ship in the crossfire, but again the Orks could afford it. Suddenly the Murder class cruiser leaned hard to port, this time for real, and began to vomit plumes of fire and atmosphere. The surviving ships that had attacked it began to move at Grinoffs orders to the rear of the CHaos formation.

Seeing that he was now badly outgunned and out numbered the CHaos commander began to disengage. The Orks harried him for nearly two hours before letting go of the chase. In the end when the fleet commander limped back into Briancan orbit he had only one Slaughter class ship that was combat effective. One was destroyed, the other so badly damaged that the crew scuttled it to keep the Orks from taking it. Only two escorst had made it back and they were in poor shape as well.

The victory had cost Grignoff seven smaller ships and two light Krrozas. He could afford it though. Ever since he had broken ties with Drake and callled for his own Waaaagh against the Spikey Gitz many Ork Kaptains had rallied to his banner.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:30
Zymran shrugged off news from the latest Ork attacks. This behaviour seemed bizarre to Marduk. He would have thought his master would fume at such attacks, especially considering he must know that Hunter was indirectly responsible for this. The Warmaster had made alliance with Orks, this was innovative thinking that impressed the sorcerer. He wished he could find proof of this agreement to sow a little disorder in the Imperium. A Warmaster making an agreement with Orks, that would not be looked upon kindly.

Zymran in the mean time had returned to his throne room. He removed his helmet and switched on his holographic display and a dozen figures instantly appeared.
'Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for answering my call.'
Those people were the captains of all pirate fleets across the sector and beyond. Some were former merchants, while others were former Navy officers and some had been born outlaws.
'As you all know, war has come to this sector. It has a time of opportunities for all of us. A new order is on the rise and you can be part of it. You've seen what I can do to these worlds I have attacked, Camulod and Branica, but also Carolon and the rebellions on Dardentor and Kario Tertius.'
A pirate captain by the name of Morgan interrupted him
'Get to the point. What do you want of us? Plaguing the Imperial supply lines?'
'No. I want you to use whatever merchant ships you have available and infiltrate the Imperial supply system. I will provide you with access codes and Free Captain Charters. The Imperium needs all the ships it can get right now. And with the Orks plaguing my own supply lines I have decided to strike back. You will supply me with stolen Imperial goods from the Emperor's own warehouses.'
Morgan laughed.
'This way, not only do you avoid those greenskins allied with the Warmaster but you reduce the supply available to the Crusade. What's in it for us?'
'For such a simple job, 20% of all stolen cargo.'
'You're kidding Zymran, 40% no less.'
'25%, take it or leave it. I have other plans to deal with the Orks, more definitely.'
The pirate captains consulted each other for some time.
'Done Zymran, 25%.'
'Perfect, my envoy will arrive shortly with your Charter. They will stay on board to protect my interests. I don't want you to think you can take more than your share. Admiral Krae will explain the details to you.'

Some time later, on board the Desolator class battleship 'Omen of Destruction', Admiral Krae was receiving instructions from his master.
'That can be done, the information will be leaked to the Orks. I can assure you my lord that they will not know who is behind it, and even if they did they could do nothing about it.'
Zymran laughed softly.
'This way we are in a win-win position. Either the Orks don't dare to attack the pirates infiltrated in Imperial convoys and working for us for fear of breaking their agreement with the Warmaster. Or they do and the Imperial Navy will hunt them down ruthlessly to stop them plaguing their supply lines.'
'What about our own convoys?'
'We have more than enough supplies on Branica right now and enough troops. They should gather at the rendez-vous points instead. We need to be ready to strike when the time comes.'
'It will done as you order my lord.'

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:31
Imokolee, Hunters HQ

Hunter sat in contemplation as he puffed on a cigar. There was much happening at once now and he desperately needed to make the right desicions, to make them with rationale and not emotion. The Warmaster looked at the star map of his imediate area of the galaxy.

Brusilov and the 1st Army of the Crusade were mired down on Brianca. It was a desperate fight , but one that was important most of the logistical support was being sent their way as well as Drew and the III Corps. Hunter also was also waiting to see if Jacka Required any of the Iron Avengers and was planning on sending them in as well, he was even tempted to take his lifeguard as well. He zoomed in on Brianca.

"I know thy mind brother," Bart said from the open door. "Thou art a fool if ye think that ye can take the vile lord Zymran. Ye are still mending from thy injuries and are in no shape to confront him. He would just toy with ye and then offer ye as an added bonus to whichever of the dark gods that he is in league with this day."

"Yeah but..."

"But nothing fool!" Bart shouted interupting Hunter. "He ye forgotten that he killed our father?" Bart waited as Hunter shook his head slowly. "That our father was one of the finest warriors to ever come from our clan. That he is one of the strongest non Astarte and a great swordsman. Zymran killed him! Dost thou remember? Thou art a great General and leader, but thou canst match our father in being a Warrior yet."

Hunter nodded and sank back into his chair. He unzoomed from brianca,"Happy now?" he asked his half brother who also served as his Chief of Staff and as well as the spiritual reminder to the HQ as to why they fought this Crusade. "Whadya have fer me now?" Hunter asked seeing several dataslates in his brothers ham sized hands.

"Some interesting news from a few fronts," Bart began and handed Hunter the first dataslate. "It seems taht our old friend Cypher has joined the Concordat."

Hunter nodded with a grin as he read the sitrep from the planet. "Well thats one less world to worry about."

"How so?"

"Once the Dark Angels or the Sons of the Lion get this info they'll level the world and everything on it in an attempt to find the fallen," Hunter said as he lit a new cigar and puffed it to life. "From what Belial told us both of the Astartes chapters have a fanatical bloodlust fer findin' Cypher and these "Fallen" whoever they are."

Bart grinned and remembered some of his conversations a an Imperial Preacher with the Dark Angels successor commander Belial on the subject of His will and His forgiveness. "Another of thy little tricks?"

"Not this time bro," Hunter shook his head. Last I've even heard of Cypher was just befer we attacked Tintagel on Camulod. Whats next?"

"Corsica has mobilised another army and will be sending it soon. There is also another Expedition from Carolon that will be due in to Camulodwithin a week," Bart reproted the information on the next dataslate he handed to Hunter.

The Warmaster smiled at the mention of reinforcements." I will likely send the Corsicans to Brianca and that the Carolonians link up with "Wild Bill" and join Hoth in the Concordat campaign. Any word anout our Orkish allies?"

"I was just about to broach that subject<" Bart handed Hunter the final dataslate. "It seems that the Dread Lord Zymran hasnt even flinched at his attacks and our reports state that he has been very sucessfull and has destroyed quite a bit of tonnage. Infact the foul traitors should even now begin to feel the effect of it soon. It makes no sense, why hasnt he responded?"

"He will," Hunter said quietly as he puffed his cigar. "He will. Zymmy is a crafty devil and will hit us in a way we aint expectin'. Will he do an overt retaliation? Not likely. Even as we speak our supplies are so vast that even should he devastae Camulod we would still be well stocked here and on other worlds. Camulod, and Corsica are both laying up billions of tons fer us. Soon Imokolee here will be a major supply depot as will Sasnak when Bill gets it under control and Cyrenacia as well when Matt retakes it.

"Zymmy can outnumberus locally, he can even out manuver us on occasion, but he will never ever have us totally outgunned," Hunter smiled." Nor can he ever match us on a logistical front. We will always have the might of the Imperium behind us and soon we will steamroll him back to the Eye." Hunter stood and walked around his desk. "Supplies thats the key to any war. We have them and we will have them.

"Bart do ya remember the ancient myhts from Holy Terra we studied as cadets? The ones about vast armies clashing armed with only primitive projectile weapons. It always seemed that the side that had the better troops won more battles but many times that the victor of the war was the one who could outproduce the other and had better supplies. That is how we will win this Crusade, and ultimately the war near the eye."

Hunter his ribs aching sat back down gently and puffed his cigar. "Zymran will retaliate by subterfuge. Sabotage mostlikely. Maybe a small raid here or there. Possibly somthin' I aint had time to think of yet. "He puffed on his cigar and contemplated the situation. "Send an alert to all supply facilities and Quartermasters of the Crusade. Full alert to all facilites. See too if ya can get some extra Naval assets to help with this. Also have Praefectus Allenius cross reference all known ships dealin' with Zymmy and the free traders that work with us."

Bart saluted and exited the Warmasters office leaving Hunter alone with his thoughts on where to move next. "Yes," he said to himself, "To know ones enemy and ones self is to assure victory. Zymmy I know yer gonna try somthin' sneaky, but what? It dont matter non though boyo 'cause I'm gonna whup ya no matter what ya do. If yer successful on Brianca nad turn it to a daemon world I'm sure Drakkenhorst will vaoe the damned place. Try yer damnedest ya filthy feind ya aint gonna win!"

Hunter puffed his cigar and wondered when Zymran would tire of Grignoff raids and destroy him once and for all. It didnt matter to the Warmaster anyway. "The Orks are like them Anrgrygorrilla Eldar, a tool to be used and no more." Hunter then turned to finish going over thr growing pile of paperwork on his desk.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:31
The train arrived in Tiraspol in the morning. A detachement of Kriegans snapped to attention as Brusilov passed, climbing into a staff car and making his way to Guderian's command post.
Once the station was quiet again, Drakkenhorst led the Eldar and Elric to a hideout prepared by Anya Lohji, where they could prepare their journey into the no man's land and then to Cormandel.

As Brusilov rode through the city he saw streams of civilians being led the other way by PDF troopers. They were walking in good order toward the train station, where they would be taken to other cities on the Rhenaron plains. Trucks carrying supplies from the station drove the other way, carrying thousands of tons of ammunition and food to the frontlines.
The Commissar-Lord reviewed one last time his file on the defence line Guderian was building on the bank of the Pruth river. This time however much energy was being in preventing the river from freezing over and this was not a small task because it was much smaller than the Dortah and this winter was particularly cold.
The car stopped in the suburbs of Tiraspol, a good five kilometres from the river. The complex that served as Guderian's HQ was impressive, especially for something built in such a rush. It was a network of medium-sized bunkers bristling with antennas and anti-air defence. Brusilov stepped down and Tsarytsinian troopers snapped to attention. A captain saluted smartly and without a word led him to Guderian's officer deep under the ground.
The general was already up and at his desk, reviewing piles of data. He waved his old friend to sit while he read over an Officio Cognitae report.
'So what's the situation like in the rear areas?' asked the Kriegan, without looking up.
'Not good, but not desperate either. The population is still numbed by the loss of Cormandel, but they haven't lost their will to fight. Cardinal du Plessy has sent an army of his best preachers to spread the good word and keep up the fighting spirit. Everyone understands no quarters will be given and are thus ready to fight to their last breath. And the Arbites is uprooting any dissent most harshly.'
Guderian nodded, reassured that he would not stabbed in the back by a revolution.
'What's the situation like here?' asked Brusilov in turn.
'The enemy will have a hard time to get his troops past the river. We are building three layers of fortification to grind them down into the dust. We believe they're in a hurry. They want to cross the Pruth before the Rasputitsa.'
'But that's still weeks away,' noted the Commissar.
'I don't think the enemy will attack immediately. It may not seem like it but they've suffered heavy casualties. They're repleneshing their numbers right now. Zymran is driving his troops relentlessly but he won't throw them into a meat grinder without the insurance that he can outfight us.'
'How long do you think it will take?'
'If we cannot slow down the rate of ship arrivals, and von Tirpitz is in no position to do this, I'd say two weeks, at the latest. Probably no more than ten days.'
'How long can we hold?'
'The Munitorum's estimate is about three weeks. We're spread thin, but they'll concentrate their assault on Tiraspol. It's the only bridge we left intact over the Pruth. I spread out the divisions of the Kriegan Panzer Korps to counter any attempt to cross elsewhere. The Totenkopf left for a secret hideout from which they will harass the enemy.'
'Let me guess, with the Amarythian Rangers...'
Guderian laughed, heartily.
'Quite so! But Scharnhorst is right, his feelings notwithstanding. The two regiments complement each other well. I hope they'll do a lot of damage to the enemy. If all goes well, we'll get a squadron of Thunderbolts over there too, so they'll give the Archenemy a run for its money.'
Brusilov nodded.
'I see you have things well under control.'
'You're going?' It was more a question than a statement.
'Yes, I am. It is my duty, and I would have it no other way.'
'You know it's probably a trap.
'Yes, but the first step into avoiding the trap is knowing it's there.'
Brusilov pulled a few sealed letters from the pocket of his coat.
'If I did not make it back, there is a letter for a few people on this Crusade, the advice of an old man who has seen a century of endless warfare.'
Guderian took the letters, his face showed no emotion.
'I will be my pleasure to hand them back to you when you return so you can scrap them.'
Brusilov said nothing as he rose. He saluted and left.

Zymran had come to welcome the shuttle himself. It was not something the Apostle did often but this time it was well worth it. The ancient aircraft landed with the hiss of an angry beast, smoke rising from its engines.
A trio of Word Bearers stepped down. They clasped their gauntleted hand on their heart.
'Hail to Dark Apostle Zymran, Commander of the Eighth Great Company.'
'Hail to the envoys of Lorgar, mighty Primarch and commander of the Legion.'
'I am Karnarion, Chosen of the most hallowed Lorgar, Bearer of the Word of the True Gods,' said the talled of the Marine with pride and a little condescending tone,' and I bring word from Sicarus, blessed domain of our lord.'
Zymran did not like him from the moment he saw him. He thought himself better than an Apostle because he was one of the Primarch's chosen.
'Our lord has reviewed your plans and concurs with them. He agrees with your planning and sees potential for furthering the cause of the gods in them. As such he is willing to send troops when the rebellion starts.'
'Convey my thanks to the Primarch. I shall make good use of the troops he sends me.'
'You misunderstand, honoured Apostle, I am here to command that detachment.'
Zymran fumed. This was supposed to be his victory, his accomplishment. He would not have some upstart who had no part in two centuries of planning and infiltrating every layer of every world in the sector steal the laurels of victory from him.
'No need to get angry,' whispered the daemon trapped within the Crozius, 'you can turn this to your advantage. Lorgar has provided you with the troops you requested. It is only logical he earns part of the prize as well. Keep you mind focussed on your real objective. It is all for the greater glory of Chaos anyway, to bring forth a better future for humanity under the guidance of the true gods.
The daemon was devious, but he was also correct. The Word Bearers stood as one to liberate mankind from the shackles of the Corpse God. As an Apostle and a Great Company's commander he was Karnarion's senior. He would remind him of that soon enough. Discipline was key to the organisation of the Legion, discipline and respect for your superiors and betters. And if the Chosen got too big for himself, an accident could be organised, they were far away from Sicarus.
'Follow me Karnarion, let me show you what I have in store for this world.'

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:32
Aboard the Iron Monger, Imokolee Orbit

Chapter Master Antonious Starke knelt in prayer to the Holy Emperor of Mankind. He prayed for guidance and for a the chance to smite his enemies. He had already made his ablutions to Ferrus Mannus who was the Primarch of their parent Chapter the Iron Hands.

The Iron Avengers were created from the geneseed of these original Astartes and had the same reverence for technology and the same stubborness, there the similarities ended. The Iron Avengers were very leary of Teleporters and only a few of the 1st Comapny had ever used them, then only on other chapters ships. The one exception was to rescue Warmaster Hunter and then only because the device had been installed by the Salamander techmarines. No they prefered drop pod and Thunderhawk assault.

They also took very good care of their tactical dreadnaught armor and had a higher percentage of it than any other chapter. In fact many of the veteran Sergeants in their tactical squads wore the venerable armor. It had been a factor in turing many battles and Starke knew that the fight they were now going into would be much the same, in fact it would be one of the biggests of the chapters history.

Earlier Starke had been summoned to Hunters office. He knew what the call was related to and had decided that he needed to clear his mind to the task ahead so he could be better able to advise his comrade in arms from the Armagedon campaign. Rising Starke donned his formal robes and then proceeded to his personal Thunderhawk.

Hunter rose and offered his hand to Starke as he entered. "Antony ya didnt have to come so quick, but I do appreciate it."

"I am eager to serve in any capacity," the Chapter master said as he bowed his head. "You are sending me to Brianca?"

"Yes minus a few of yer boys," Hunter nodded as he answered and filled a glass with brandy and handed it to Starke, it was some of the finest from Calypso, Starke homeworld. The Astarte smiled as he sipped it. " I wish to borrow a few of yer men to attach to Colonel Jacka in his upcomin' mission."

Starke nodded his aproval. "Of course old friend. How many do you need and when do you wish me to depart for Brianca?"

"I think fifty shoudl work. One Squad of Terminators if ya can spare 'em," Hunter waited until Stakre nodded. " One of assault troops, and then rest bein' filled out with tactical squads. As ya know Jackas troops is a flyin' company and all mechanised so they'll need Rhinos or Razorbacks."

"I will see to it personally," Starke promised. "What are you going to be doing?"

"Mendin' and runnin' this flyin' circus from here." Hunter said as he lit a cigar. " Things are in the balance now and the last thing this Crusade needs is fer me to go flittin' off and screw up the lines of communications again. I have been forced , by that devel Dashor of all folks, to realise that my job is far greater than that of a line Gneral as I am so used to be. So unless some emergency arises I'll be here until the isue on Brianca is resolved."

Starke nodded and smiled. "It seems you are finally growing up."

Hunter put on a look of mock hurt. "No need fer insults now!" he shammed a pain in his chest, which in turn brought on an ache in his wounded ribs. " I need ya to depart as soon as yer ready."

"I have anticipated this order," Antonius Starke sat the crystal goblet down with grace and gentleness that was belied by his isze and strength. " I twill only take a few hour for Captain Hogan to disembark and link up with Colonel Jacka. Once he has donw that My fleet will head to Brianca with all avaiable speed."

"Thanks old friend," Hunter said as he stood with Starke and walked him to the door.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:33
Gavin sat in his command vehicle, maps set in front of him and a hot cup of tanna tea in close reach. He took a sip, which soothed him a bit, and resumed looking at the maps.

An aide poked his head in from the rear ramp and asked "General?"

"Yes Major?"
"The Carolonian Drop Troopers are near. ETA to the objective is 20 standard minutes."
"Very well then." He announced, taking another sip of tea. Gavin poked his head out of the top hatch. He winced for a second, his grey eyes adjusting for the brightness. Excellent, the sun was in their faces. They would never see the paratroopers coming.

He put the cup down and picked up the phone, keeping it in place by bending his neck so it was lodged between his face and his shoulder. He tapped a few buttons, and after some static he heard the Artillery commander.

The gruff, gravelly, aged voice responded "Morning sir.
"Faul, nows the time. I want a series of fifteen fire missions set on positions Kilo, Tango, and Bravo. Remain on alert with long range light arty for fire support. Understood?"

"Yes sir, arty missions inbound immeadiately"

He dialed a new frequency, and awaited a response. He was answered by the lively and alacritous voice of Major Daws.

"Aye Sir. First Armoured ready to go."

"Alright, stay sharp major. I'm sorry you're all goin' in with Chimeras, but you read the briefing. Big guns would be no fun, concerning our objectives. Move fast, hit hard, link up with the drop troops and take cover. Tell us when you reach position Sierra, we'll pop the smoke shells so you can take full advantage of the thermal and nightsight gear we've been so kindly issued by our rednecked comrades"

The comment evoked a hearty chuckle between the two commanders, who often poked fun at the simple manners of their comrades.

"Yessir. The Helghan shock troopers are leading the assault. Ought to be a site, watching those clunky bastards wade in an assault with autoshotguns and stubguns"

"I've seen 'em fight before. While their carapace armor aint like the fine Cadian stuff we have, it serves em well, and its bluntness is ideal for CQB. Besides, those stubbers and shotguns pack quite a whallop at close range. Dont underestimate em, their an asset and a half young man. Enough chit chat, arty should be hitting any moment and I wanna catch the show. Have the Emperor's Graces, Major."

With that, Gavin put down the radio and brought himself to the commander's hatch of the vehicle. Magnoculars in hand, he watched the wall from far away, smiling contentedly at the thought of the impending destruction. He zoomed in, watching the Heretics mill about on the wall, heavy weapons scanning a forest-filled horizon, altogether unaware of their predicament. Without warning, the sound of what could only be described as a thousand trains soaring through the air overwhelmed Gavin's senses. He looked up, and caught a glimpse of the massive artillery shells barreling at breakneck speed to the imposing walls of Yalifraxia.

They hit with a titanic fury that gutted the walls, masonry torn from its base and cast off in every direction. Massive explosive shockwaves made the walls crumble to the ground, thick ashen smoke billowing from the reckage. Panicked heretics ran every which way across crenelated walkways, mindlessly running into areas soon slammed with ordnance. Within minutes, the once hardy walls of Yalifraxia were reduced to rubble.

From the radio, Gavin heard "All units, Forseti and Helghan, forwards!", and with that, the droning of cargo planes overhead, hundreds of them as they prepared to disgorge their cargo of daring drop troops.

******

Major Daws shook as the Chimera Combat Vehicle bucked and ground forwards. The forest provided excellent concealment for the armoured spearhead, and the trails were expertly made by the engineers. Vehicles stretched in a seemingly endless line in front of and behind Major Daws. Daws inspected the ammo box of the pintle heavy bolter, making sure it was secure and ready. The Chimera combat vehicles was a quite capable vehicle for the mission at hand. It was a fire support version of the Chimera,quipped with additional frontal arming, reactive armor for missile defense, and armed with a pintle heavy bolter, a turret mutlilaser, a coxial stormbolter, a turret-mounted hunter-killer missile rack (for a total of four missiles) and a hull heavy flamer. It could dish out a ton of anti-personnel firepower, take out prepared defense, threaten armoured units, and douse even the hardest of bunkers of highly potent promethium. It was the ultimate urban combat vehicle, so long as it was protected by the infantry.

The Forseti were following closely behind the Helghan troopers, who had a much different approach to urban warfare. The Helgahn, black and red armoured soldiers with impersonal gasmasks and glaring red lenses, rode into battle in a Imperial Guard version of the Rhino, made slightly faster and with unique armament.. On the front of the Rhino was a massive stub launcher, basically a giant, one shot, high velocity shotgun that would kill any soft target withing 30 meters. Once this was done, the Helghast would finish off the enemy with their shotguns, chainswords, frag grenades and stubbers, and then continue the rest of the ubran assault by footslogging. Their special weapons teams were quite a sight too, experts with both the meltagun and flamer. Their bulky peronsal armour designs made them appear clumsy, but the momentum of their bulk as well as their thick gauntleted fists counteracted any perceived lack of agility.

Daws' microbead came to life with the harsh, guttural report of the Helghan commander, Master Brigadier (<rank) Brak Drugan-Vrok.

"Wall defenses annihilated. We're over the rubble now. Rhinos are taking light fire from apartments. They're good as dead" the last comment was followed by deep, throaty chuckles.

"Great! Keep em scared and cowering. We're right behind you. We'll light em out, you knock em down."

The Rhinos barrled forward over an open square, strewn with rubble and heretic corpses mercilessly gunned down by the stormbolter gunners of the Helghan rhinos.Stub rounds and lasfire pinged and seared the metal of the Rhino's hides, but to no effect.

The CCVs (acronym for chimera combat vehicles) formed a line formation behind the Rhinos, and then unleashed a withering torrent of fire against the squat brick buildings occupied by the heretics. The Heavy bolter rounds ripped the building apart, blasting apart the apartments and making thick, viscous red stains of where heretics formely stood. Multilaser fire splashed each window and firing hole, keeping the hereitcs pinned down.


The Rhinos launched their massive pellet guns , releasing a torrent of ball bearings, metal shards, and flechette that nearly tore down the building.

"Hey, Major? Arent we supposed to take the city intact?" asked a Chimera commander, Sergeant Howlink.
"Only the inner industrial facilities. Everything else is fair game"

"Alright, lets take the fight to em!" Brak announced to Daws' dismay, as he did so over the common channel, thus scaring the living daylights out of the Major.

Daws watched in curious amusement as the Rhino ramps dropped and the black and red troopers piled out. Brak was a particularly curious one, with a combi-minibolter-flamer (a bolter that fire 14.5mm rounds instead of the 19.05mm bolter rounds, and had what amounted to a hand flamer attached to the bottom) in one hand, and a black and brown chainsword (the brown consisting of dried blood) in the other.

He let loose a animalistic growl and charged forwards, his men closely behind him, tossing grenades on the run. Stubguns blared loudly, the slugs making brutal impacts with heretic flesh whilst the grenades rended limbs. The Helgast made contact with the remaing heretics and enaged them in a flurry of close combat, ruthlessly clubbing, beating, and ripping apart the heretics with power mauls, iron fists, and the butts of their weapons. In mere minutes, the entire frontal defensive Heretic position was obliviated.

"Outstanding work, Master Brigadier! Have your Rhinoes secure the square. You and your men work your way forwards, we'll stick close behind. Once we reach the center, we'll take point".

The Helghast clambered through the city streets, with the Chimeras clanking close behind...

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:34
Snowflakes were drifting lazily from the pine trees towering over the small forest road as the column of dark grey tanks of the Totenkopf regiment of the Death Korps of Krieg was making its way through the foothills of the Tanarian mountains.
Scharnhorst rode at the head of the column in his Mars Alpha pattern Leman Russ. He checked his watched. They were making good time. The road appeared to be poor but in fact he was surprised how well maintained it was. It was also well hidden under the cover of the tall pines as well as keeping to the bottom of the valleys it crossed.
A squad of Death Riders came galloping back toward him. They rode without their lances, too bulky for the close confines of the forest. Their leader slowed down and turned around, keeping pace with the tank.
'Sir, the entrance is about half an hour away. As announced by the Branican high command there is a skeleton garrison of a few dozen technicians and a platoon of troops.'
'Still no sign of the Amarythians?'
'No sir, nothing when I left and I saw nothing on the way back, but these women can be as stealthy of ghosts when they wish to.'
The Colonel nodded and thanked the NCO with a wave of the hand. The man returned to his squad. Scharnhorst was wondering what had become of the Amarythians. They had cut through the mountains to reconnoitre the terrain surrounding their new base and to assess the state of the forward defences that were rumoured to exist in the forest.

Suddenly he saw movements in the undergrowth and knew his force was surrounded by the Amarythian women. Artemia stepped out of the shadows and threw back her cameleoline cloak.
'Pang, you're dead colonel,' she laughed as Scharnhorst ordered the column to a halt.
'Quite so, but this is your naturel element. We'll see if you can outpace our tanks in a forced march across the Rehnaron plains to flank an enemy and grind him into dust,' retorted the Kriegan, winking at her.
'I'm sure we could still outdo you.'
Scharnhorst's face became serious again as he questioned her about the lay of the land. He learned that the surrounding hills were riddled with dozens of small bunkers and observation posts that monitored all access to the base. She also had found the secret exit to the base that would allow the defenders to escape in case it came under attack.
'You want a ride?' asked the Kriegan as he was about to order his regiment to resume its journey to the fortress.
'Sure, it would be appreciated,' she replied as she climbed on the turret of the Leman Russ. The rest of the Rangers followed suit, climbing on Chimeras, Trojans and other tanks.

After an hour they reached the mountain fortress. Scharnhorst was impressed by it. It was almost entirely hidden within the mountain, completely unseeable from the sky. He could see the hidden gun emplacements that command the approach to the gate. Getting here under enemy fire would be a carnage.
As his Leman Russ rolled into the hangar, his breath was taken away by the sheer size of it. His regiment would easily fit inside.
A group of Branican troopers in light grey uniforms welcome him. They were the custodians of that place. They showed him around the warehouses, filled with ammo, the fuel depots with enough promethium to last for months, the command post with top of the line equipment. The living quarters were spartan but adequate. The food reserves could feed both regiments for roughly a year in complete isolation.

Scharnhorst smiled as Artemia and he finished their tour.
'We're going to give these bastards a run for their money.'
The Amarythian officer nodded with a predatory grin.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:35
Thought For The Day

Give me the strength to carry my duty through, and smite those that seek to thwart me!

Terra,

His adjutant opened the door and walked in, ‘Sir, your guest has arrived and would like to talk to you.’ The Lord Militant turned to look at the General. His oriental face scared from many wars.

'Thank you General! The Lord Militant replied and then added, ‘Matt, I hear that your son has been busy again with the enemies of the Emperor! It is unfortunate that we continue to have Governors appointed who do not have the spirit of the Emperor within them. The rot seems to spread even with our continual excising of it from the Imperium! The enemy within is starting to gain ground on us I feel. To bad there is not more like your son my friend.’

‘Indeed Sir! There is much to be done and few we can trust to protect the Emperor. It is also a problem that so many work against us. It is clear that the Age of Apaostasy has left a wound that has yet to heal, I fear.’ replied the Cadian General.

‘Indeed! Matt this is true by Pius and now they almost control another world. I only hope that young Brusilov learnt a thing or two when he served with me.’ almost lost in thought he remembered his guest. ‘General, please show the Adeptus Mechanicus Magos in.’ He stood to greet his friend.

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

‘It is good to see you my friend, you have heard the news from Hunters Crusade. It seems we go close to losing Brianca to the arch Enema.’ He commenced quickly, his concern great.

‘Nugen my old friend, it may seem that the situation is extreme, but all is not yet lost. Young Brusilov and Guderian are good men they have done well in worst situations and will undoubtly do well on Brianca. We can leave that issue to them. We need to talk of things we need to action here. Once again a planet controlled by the Esslesiarchy has turned. I am starting to think that some of the objectives laid down by the Ecclesiarch here on Terra are not justified and that they abuse their position to such an extant that it is now threatening the stability of an entire sector. Something we do not need in the shadow of the last Black Crusade. I have been made aware that the Ordo Hereticus is now paying very close attention to the fate of Brianca. What we need to do is ensure that that those in power within the Ecclesiarchy here on Terra are not abusing their position with this issue.' the Magos replied thoughtfully.

‘I believe that you that you are correct. We need to review their actions and talk of the directions we will go now. I think also that it is time that we move one of our players a little closer to Warmaster Hunter. She needs to be with him to be able to report on his actions sooner.’ The Lord Militant 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 Militant.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:36
Thought For The Day

There is a fine line between enlightened , healthy debate and heresy!

Imokolee

They waited in Jacka’s HQ. Jacka had gathered the ‘Orphans’ Commanders to wait for their ‘special guests’ to arrive. Sitting next to Lt Col Stewart Conner was the CO of the 62th Cadian Mech Regt Maj Simon Podge. His unit of Super Heavy Tanks had only just arrived on Imokolee. They sat across from Lt Col Kilby Smith whose Tayosian’s had completed securing the Governor’s palace. On either side of him were the other two ‘Orphan’ commanders Lt Col Giles Marius of the Titagel Camulodians and Lt Col Michel Ney of the 17th / 20th Valeria Carolonians. Jacka sat at the head of the table. ‘Our guests have landed and will be joining us soon. We will discuss our next mission on their arrival here. I believe that ……’ Jacka stopped as Capt Jenks his adjutant entered.

‘Sir, the Rouge Traders are here!’ Jenks said as he entered.

Jacka stood and walked around the table towards the door of the HQ, ‘Show them in Aron!’ he said to his Adjutant. Jenks turned and opened the door and gestured for Jacka’s guests to come in. ‘So we meet again Capt Drake.’ said Jacka extending his hand as the first Trader entered.

‘Yes Colonel. It looks like our paths have crossed again.’ Drake answered turning to introduce the two men that followed him in. ‘Colonel Jacka may I introduce you to Captain’s Trask and Teach who will join us on our little adventure. Capt Trask will be very helpful as he has traded many times on Cyrnacia and will indeed, brief you in detail on it and its defences.’

Capt Trask bowed formally as he offered up a Data Slate to Jacka. ‘Colonel!’ Jacka reached for the slate. ‘If you’re Adjutant would be so kind as to load that slate I will commence briefing you on Cyrnacia.’ Trask added as he passed the slate to Jacka.

Jacka gestured for the Three Captains to take seats as he passed the slate to Jenks who loaded it into the holograph. In moments a desert planet sprang to life above the briefing table. Capt Task continued, ‘Please observe the area that is being shown.’ Trask commenced as the view zoomed is on a portion of the desert that bordered an almost land locked sea. ‘You are looking at the only inhabited area on Cyrnacia. It is 400 hundred kilometre area of dry, baking desert tenanted by a few patches of low spiny scrub and scattered with stones and drifts of fine, white sand. This monotonous wasteland with its great swirling dust storms and enormous, unpunctuated horizons is where we are going. It is mostly featureless except for a dominating two hundred metre escarpment which faces the sea running parallel some thirty kilometers inland. It is major barrier to movement along its entire length. On top of the escarpment is a vast plateau that drifts to the south where it meets an impassable sea of sand. On it there is no food or water, and hence hardly a township or civilian to provide shelter or complicate battle tactics and this is we will land. Only two main tracks climb the escarpment and these than leads to the only city on the planet, Tobruk. This is where the production of Plasma occurs before it is shipped of world. The Governor of the planet, Annibale Bergonzoli, has fortified Tobruk with an elaborate arc of barbed wire entanglements and posts. The stronghold is an elongated arc of about 28 kilometres around the small port and city, and makes good use of the deep wadies (dry watercourse channels) which sectors the barren, stony ground. An outer line of fortified posts, about 700 metres apart, holds armourcrete trenches and shelters with arty emplacements support by heavy bolter positions. There is a anti-tank ditch and barbed-wire entanglements surrounding each post. The whole front is covered by a continuous double-apron, barbed- wire fences and an outer anti-tank ditch more than a metre deep and three and half metres wide. Tobruk’s defence in death is achieved by a second line of equally well fortified post about 350 metres back from the main line. Six major mine fields cover the front with nuisance minefields scattered inside the perimeter.’

‘Bugger me!’ Conner exclaimed. ‘This is going to be fun.’

Capt Trask smiled a crud eatin grin at the Squat Lt Col. ‘Who says I’m finished. Three and half kilometres to the rear of the first line there is a second line. It has platoon posts every 500 metres and is also covered by a continuous minefields and barbed-wire entanglements with Bolters and Las Cannons to support it. And to make it even more fun they have a mobile reserve to deal with any breakthroughs. The force inside is some 45,000 strong made up of four Divisions with various PDF troops and Guards. They have 131 tanks and 460 guns. I guess you would say the defence is formidable.’ Trask finally finished. ‘Any questions?’ he smugly asked.

The ‘Orphan’ Commanders looked at the defences. No one spoke until Jacka looked at Capt Drake and asked. ‘You still in contact with my old mate Grignoff?’

‘I might be. Why do you ask?’ replied the Rouge Trader.

‘I might need to borrow his water trucks!’ replied the Cadian Colonel

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:36
Imokolee

Commisar Wujen wore her well worn and weathered black greatcoat that marked her office of Commisar in the Emperors Imperial Guard. Over the years she had led from the front. She had rallied troops where needed. She had executed the weak of faith as well as cowards and traitors where she found them. She had on more than one occasion taken command of a platoon or company and held the line where inferior officers would have faltered.

Today she had a new assignment. One she had trained for and what would be considered the Brass Ring for many Commisars, but she didnt feel the elation nor excitement she thought she would. Was it the nature of the assignment? Or was it the personality of whom she was assigned to?

Anastasia shook her head as she cleared her mind for the confrontaion ahead. She was sure she would need all her strength and composure to deal with her new job. She turned the corner and saw a Deltamarine and a Blood Viper flanking the heavy oaken door. She also saw that Bartholomew Leigh, Sgt O'Connor, and "Lil" John Greystone were in their usual places. She knew that Sgt Hef of the Wolf Fangs would be on the otherside of the door and aboard the Salamanders stirke cruiser in orbit there was five Astartes in Tactical Dreadnaught armor waiting for a signal that would hopefully never come. Spread out through the entire building was a full company of Carolonian Highlanders, on the streets in the area was the bulk of the 172nd Dnieprian mechanised regiment, and beyond that were elements of two Carolonian and one Dnieprian Rough Rider, though they preferred the term Dragoons, regiments in perpetual patrol as well as Carolonian Light Infantry beyond them.

Such were the guards of the Warmaster.

"I am here to see Warmaster Hunter," Commisar Wujen said as she came up to Barts desk.

"Go on in lass," Bart replied, "Hunter is expecting thee."

Anastasia nodded to "Lil" John as he opened the doors for her and announced her. "Boss Warmaster Hunter Missus Anastasia is here to see you Warmaster Boss sir," he saluted with the customary Oghyn lefthanded salute and shut the door.

Anastasia wlaked briskly up to Hunters desk and offered up her best salute. Hunter returned it with what would be considered , even by Drookian Fen guards or Slavlar Chem guards to be a sloppy slaute. He then motioned to the chair before his desk. "Hava seat and set a spell."

This will be a challenge indeed," she thought wryly.

"I'm guessin' by the look on yer face that ya got the same message I did," Hunter said lighting up one of his ever present cigars.

"If you are reffering to my transfer to your Headquarters as your new Commisariat Advisor," she laid the dataslate quietly on his desk when in truth she wanted to slamm it there. " Then yes Warmaster we did."

"Yup thats it," Hunter said. "I want ya to know that I aint no more thrilled about this that ya are. Big E knows I dont care fer a Commisar lookin' over my shoulder all the time but this does come from a source that even I dont buck much. Evivdently that scrawny stamp sealer Allenius has been whinin' to Taerra again 'bout the lack of Commisars and the guy with the big fuzzy balls himself stepped in on this 'un."

"I assume you are speaking of the Lord Militant," Anastasia spoke interupting Hunters tirade.

"Bingo!" Hunter slapped the desk. "Damn yer quick. Anywhohah neither of us is to excited about this so lets get a few things straight. I aint gonna interfere with yer duties and yer not gonna tell me how to run the Crusade. Ya do yer job and I'll do mine. If ya have to shoot me then make it quick and with no borin' speeches. Any questions?"

"Yes Warmaster what is the status of the regiment of Terrax Guard that I was assigned to when I arrived?"

"They will remain under yer command," Hunter began to answer. It was an answer that actually relieved Anastasia Wujen. "Ya can assign them however ya want , but they are not to interfere with Colonel Varro's nor Sargant Hefs security deployments of that job in any way. If ya wish fer them to work with the Kernal or Sarge thats fine. If ya wanna have 'em drill and exercise thats fine too. If ya wanna keep 'em totally seperate I dont care one way or the other."

"Thank you sir," Wujen aswered. She actually liked Varro and respected him. She would consult with him later. Now was when she was expecting Hunter to hit on her. While not an executionable offence it wasnt somthing she would take lightly. In her dreams of the future she had imagined a dashing handsome Warmaster with a sculpted body and chisled good looks. Blond hair and blue eyes that would peirce deep into her soul.

Looking at Hunter she saw that he was nearly the opposite of her girlish fantasies. He was large man with an even larger presence. She knew he was fit and could out march any man half his age and was powerfully built as well, but not the Adonis like body the vid dramas always had for the lead. She knew he was an excellent shot , surpassed only by Sgt York, but yet mediocre with a sword. Far as looka went she had heard him say on many occasions that the reason he grew his trademark beard was to hide as much of his ugliness as possible, and she had to agree.

Hunter looked her in the eyes and she braced herself. "Is there anything else?"

"No Warmaster," she said with relief and taking his tone to mean the meeting was over rose saluted and left.

Hunter followed her to the door and stood next to Bart watching her as she walked away. "Nice leg, but no sense of humor," he muttered. Hef just shook his head behind the Warmaster. "Bart mind the store I think I'm gonna pop in on the Orphans and have a lil surprise inspection to see how far along they are in gettin' ready. Should throw Matt into a fit>" Hunter grinned as he lit a new cigar and walked off, Hef and John in tow.

Once Hunter had got around the corner Sgt O'Connor dialed up the Cadians command frrequency. "Hey Jenks," he whispered into the mike. "Ole Hoots is on the way to pull a surpise inspection. Just thought ya might wanna know."

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:37
Aboard the Battle Barge Iron Monger, Imokolee Orbit

Captain Hogan stood at attention as the Iron Avengers chapter master Antonius Starke inspected his troops and equipment before he deployed to Imikolees surface to join the Orphans. Starke took a bolter from a battle brother and examined its breech, satisfied he handed it back and continued his inspection. Occasionally he would inspect some weapon, peice of equipment, or the bionics of the Adeptus Astarte in fron of him and he looked over the vehicles that Captain Hogan had chosen as well.

The Iron Avengers differed in many ways from a Codex chapter of Astartes but one of the most defining was the lack of ground transport. Only the 7th company was fully mechanised and most of the remaining nine companies were largely infantry with a few Razorbacks and the odd Land Raider in more of a support role than for transport. In order to match the high mobility of the Orphans Hogan and the 7th company were taking most of the Chapters Rhinos and none of the veteran Sgts would be able to wear the prized Tactical Dreadnaught armor due to the limited space on the APC's.

Cpatain Hogan looked over his command with pride. He had requested and recieved a full squad of Terminators from the 1st company, he also had two Dreadnaughts with him and a Thunderhawk to transport them in, as well as the jump pack equipped Assault Squad in their red and silver armor. Two of his tactical squads were given a Rhino each and the thrid squad was split in two and given a Razorback each, one with twinlinked lascannons and one with twinlinked heavybolters. Hogan and his command would take a Land Raider for their personal transport. He had thought of taking a couple of Land Raider transporters but then thinking upon it he had realised that if the Orphans could transport the huge Moles they were famous for using then his vehicles would be of little consequence.

"It looks as if you have a well balanced force," Starke complimented Hogan as he finished inspecting the three Predators that he had decided to add to his force. " I am sure that Colonel Jacka will welcome you and ypur men to his force."

"As am I, " Hogan replied. "You are facing a tough time on Brianca my friend. Are you sure you couldnt use us better there?"

Starke laughed lightly. "Hogan my old Warhorse I am sure you will see plenty of fighting with Colonel Jacka. He is a real scrapper and will use you and your company for its strengths. You will not be left behind and gathering dust while his men storm a breach. No my friend you will have pl;enty of fighting. Worry not about me on Brianca, I have Eric and Victor and their Doomguard with me to supress the Archenemy there. And we will smite them where we find them as you will."

Starke turned and put his hands on Hogans shoulders and looked into his eyes. "Good hunting my friend."

"And you too old man," Hogan replied with a smile.

Starke laughed, "already yopu have been around the good Warmaster to much. I will see you soon." The Chapter master then turned and walked away to see to the readying of his troops and ships for the departure for Brianca.

"Alright l;ets get everything loaded and ready to go, and dont get to attached to these transporters," Hogan yelled to get his battlebrothers moving. "Form now on we'll be using Guard transports." He smiled as he heard some audiable groaning. While being somewhat more than human, as some saw them, or less human as others saw them, he was glad that his command were still soldiers at heart.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:38
Clingman’s Dome

Kleist, Lanni, Devout, and the regimental staff officers all sat around a large circular table in the main briefing room of Kleist’s secret base. Though the regiments were loading up their equipment and personnel onto their transports and there was much work for the command to do, the Marshal had ordered that they watch a few demonstrations of some new equipment.

As Artimes Lex continued to work with the equipment, continuously mumbling about the garbage he was being forced to work with, Colonel Sampson leaned over to General Devout and asked, “Is it really true that he comes from before the Age of Strife?”

“The Marshal believes so,” he responded. “Some of the things with him have been dated and they corroborate his story.”

Sampson sat back in his chair, a little stunned, and muttered, “Amazing.”

After Lex had finished checking that all the devises, not after a little goading with his foot, worked, he began by saying. “The good Marshal has ordered me to demonstrate a few of projects I have been working on before he leaves. But I must say that the materials I have had to work with are wholly inadequate. How civilization could continue on for fifteen thousand years while losing so much knowledge is beyond my understanding.”

Henri and Devout both chuckled at the comment, having gotten used to the brilliant scientist’s constant complaining, but Lanni, Sampson, and the rest of their officers scowled at the insult to the status of the Holy Imperium.

But before any of them could voice their offense, Lex continued, “Being soldiers as you all are, you will likely find my more complex and interesting experiments boring, so I’ll simply show you the new guns I’ve made.”

He hefted a heavily modified catachan pattern las-carbine, sporting a shortened barrel and an advanced multi-spectrum site, and said, “This is the new Alpha Pattern Assault Lasgun.” He handed the weapon to the nearest officer. The man seemed impressed as he handled it. When he had finished he passed it onto the officer next to him and Lex continued, “After reconfiguring the focusing crystals, adding redundant energy capacitors, and installing a much efficient power transmission system, I have created a weapon three times as powerful that can get twice as many shots out of the powerpack.”

“How long will it take to get these things massed produced?” asked General Devout.

“As long as it takes me to get the new automated mobile factories working,” responded Lex.

The assembled officers just sat there and stared at him.


Master’s Throne, Deltamarine Command Battlebarge

The inner sanctum of the Librarium was lit up like a Fenrisian thunderstorm as the infinite power of the warp was tapped by the minds present. Every one of the chapter’s librarians kneeled in concentric circles, according to rank, expanding out the lower the rank of the circle went. Crackling blue energy surrounded the heads of each of the librarians and flowed inward into center on the circle.

Chief Librarian Elzanti sat upon his psychic throne absorbing the directed energy that was keeping his mental barriers strong as his spirit traveled beyond the confines of time and space. Such was the power that he could channel that all of the warp saw the brightness of him as he looked at the future timelines as they began to unfold before his eyes. As he looked to future, it was left to the rest of the librarians to look to him.

He could see the near future of the Imperium and the struggles that it would soon face. He saw what could happen if those living then failed, the damnation that would engulf all of humanity. But he also saw what would happen when humanity itself united to face the threats, and resurgence of the spirit and zeal that had marked man during the Emperor’s Great Crusade.

But the far future was not what he had come to see. He peered into the events about to unfold upon the crusade and Warmaster Hunter. He saw the tides on Branica swing back and forth towards light and dark as individual actions and decisions fell into place along the web of time. After a few mere seconds had passed in the real world he had found what he was looking for.

He carefully eased his spirit back into his body. When his mind had return to awareness, and the circles were broken, he said aloud, “The event that will determine the fate of this crusade is coming soon, we must prepare.”

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:38
Inquisitor Lord Konrad von Marburg stepped down from his Aquila lander, escorted by two Pontifex Guards. He was dressed in the full regalia of his function in the Ordo Hereticus, and his symbol of office was pinned proudly to his chest for all to see. His two Death Cultists had already slipped into the shadows, ready to pounce. A full platoon of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers snapped to attention as their master was greeted by a frightened Praefectus Allenius.
'My lord,' the Munitorum officer stumbled, 'it is a great pleasure and honour to welcome you.'
'Don't waste your breath on me Praefectus, I have no patience for such slavish attitude. The one to whom you should pay such high respect is the Emperor of Mankind, not me.'
The Inquisitor gave a quick look to the hastely gathered officers.
'I don't see the Warmaster, here.'
'You arrive on such a short notice my lord. Warmaster Hunter is currently occupied.'
'I hope his "occupation" is leading this Crusade and not womanising. I will have none of this either. The Warmaster's attitude reflects badly on the image of the Emperor's most glorious armed forces.'
Two more figures clad in heavy robes and bearing the symbols of the Inquisition stepped down from the lander.
'These are Inquisitor Zdenka Karonkova of the Ordo Malleus and Inquisitor Mathias Werdan of the Ordo Xenos. They have come with me to assess the sorry state of this Crusade. I heard despicable things about this Crusade: consorting with Xenos, harbouring apocryphs at best and heretics at worst, an unusually high rate of daemonic infestation.'
'My lord, we are up against a foe that has prepared his campaign against these worlds for decades if not centuries.'
'More excuses,' Marburg glared at Allenius who seemed to shrink before the fiery gaze of the Inquisitor, 'I don't care about your excuses, I care about results. This is why I am here. The High Lords are concerned with the way this Crusade is run and I am to cut off dead wood.'
Allenius nodded meekly.
'This way, my lord, a car is awaiting you.'

An hour, and several security checkpoints later, the car finally arrived at the Warmaster's headquarters.
'Who does this Hunter think he is? The Almighty Emperor himself?'
'My lord, there have been several attempts on his life already.'
'Well, one can see plainly that this is a waste of good fighting personel for a man's delusions of grandeur.'
Marburg stopped dead when he saw the number of Space Marines guarding the compound.
'Astartes warriors no less. Allenius, you'll bring me the leader of this detachment. I don't want any Space Marine left here. This is an insult to the Emperor. I can see no less than twenty Space Marines here! They will not guard this pompous man any longer.'
The Inquisitor Lord glared at the Space Marines that checked him one last time as he was introduced into Hunter's office.

Konrad von Marburg was not surprised in the least by Hunter's spartan lifestyle. The Warmaster was at his desk, reviewing the situation on Branica with several staff officers and planners.
'My lord,' Allenius put in, Hunter raised his head slightly and cocked his head when he saw the three Inquisitors behind the diminutive Praefectus, 'may I introduce Inquisitor Lord Konrad von Marburg of the Ordo Hereticus.'
'Pleased to meet you,' Hunter put in politely.'
'I was eager to meet you, but neither pleased nor honoured Warmaster,' the Inquisitor snapped, 'I am here to put order back in this Crusade. First of all, you'll relieve all these Astartes Warriors from their duties at once and send them back to the frontlines where their abilities can be put to good use. As a show of good faith on my part, you can keep two of them attached to your staff as liaisons and bodyguards, since you seem indeed to attract the blades of assassins. Your security is the duty of the Imperial Guard and now the Inquisition as well.'
Before Hunter could even begin to reply the Inquisitor continued.
'Now, I would also like to see a list of all your command personel so I can have my men conduct a review of them. I shall not abide by any trace of heresy in their records.
And I understand you keep abhumans in your staff as well. This is a disgrace, they are to be removed from here. They are tolerated in the Emperor's armies, that does not mean they're welcome. They lack the sacred purity of the human form and all their efforts cannot make up for this.'
Marburg drew a list of things to be changed or improved in the Crusade in order to tighten security or guarantee the loyalty of soldiers. He also announced his staff would start conducting a review of the whole Ecclesiarchy staff, first in the Crusade then the superior echelons of the Branican sector.

As Marburg left, Werdan approached the Warmaster.
'You are unlucky, Hunter, the Inquisition sent you the most puritan Inquisitor they could get their hands on. He has just finished conducting massive purges in the Ablisian sector, twenty years of pogroms to cleanse a minor heresy. And be careful around Karonkova, don't mention Drakkenhorst, she hates him with passion. She was his former mentor but they had a very strong dispute some years ago and now she hunts him down ruthlessly as if he was an heretic. She tried to press charges before an Inquisitorial Conclave but failed to bring evidence to support her charges. She's the most dangerous of the two, if you ask me.
As for me, worry not, I've spend enough time around Xenos to be flexible, but I'm the most junior and my power does not extend very far to help you. So be very careful.'

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:39
The Battleship Ares

Lord Darius strode onto the bridge where Admiral Nelson and Marshal Hoth were planning the campaign against the Concordat.

“Have you heard?” He bellowed, his underlying rage threatening to explode out of him.

“We received the message only moments ago,” responded Nelson in a calm voice.

Darius turned to look out at the stars beyond the spanning viewport that took up the bulkheads in the front of the bridge. Using his powerful Space Marine mind and years of wisdom and experience, he forced the boiling anger that was rising in him to abate.

Letting out a deep sigh, his mind now much clearer, he said, “They dishonor everything that we fight for out here.”

“They don’t want anyone who could threaten their positions of power,” said Hoth.

Darius turned back to the two officers and responded, “No, it runs much deeper than that.”

“Regardless of their reasoning,” interjected Nelson, “we must now deal with them. The message said that we are to await the arrival of a delegation that will be conducting an investigation into our recent and past actions and decisions. Chances are one of us is going to be executed as an example to the crusade.”

“We cannot let that happen,” said Darius, resting his hand on his sword hilt.

“I agree,” added Hoth. “Admiral, have you sent a reply yet?”

“No,” he responded.

“Good,” said Hoth. “Then I suggest that we get this army on the move quickly. After all, messages get lost in the immaterium all the time.” Darius and Nelson both grinned at him.

The Light Cruiser, Reborn

Kleist paced back and forth along the length of the mess hall. He had sent his small force of ships and soldiers, now a little stronger with the addition of General Lanni’s men, on a course to Imokolee, to once again join the crusade.

The last few days had been rather eventful for him. First his sanctuary had been breached by a man that he thought was dead, then he had received word from his beloved home planet, that he had thought had believed him also dead, that he was to take command of the VII Corsican Army as it joined the Crusade, temporarily.

He quickly walked back to the table that he had been using, poured himself a tall glass of Amaretto, from his private stock, and drained it. Thanks to the mechanical devices that his body had required to survive after the slanni incident, the new chemical mix of his blood made it very difficult for him to feel the effects of his drinking, much to his rampant frustration. That was the reason why he had started drinking what many considered a lighter kind of liquor, since he can’t get anything out it, he might as well drink something that tasted good.

He looked down at the data that he had been reviewing on the VII Army. He would soon have three infantry and one armored corps to command, all composed of battle hardened and crack troops, complete with an excellent corps of commanding officers. There would also be an entire carrier group supporting them. That would add an additional two battlecruisers, nine cruisers, a dozen destroyers, around twenty frigates, and one very powerful and fully equipped Galactic class battlecarrier.

Yet Kleist still couldn’t shake the feeling that things were going to turn out very bad very soon. As he poured himself another glass of the sweet liquor, the ship’s vox system crackled to life. The youthful voice of one of the bridge ensigns spoke up over it, “Marshal?”

“Yes,” responded Kleist.

“We will be entering Imokolee space within the hour.”

“Very well, contact General Lanni and have him meet me in the main shuttle bay in twenty minutes.” The young ensign acknowledged the order and signed off. Turning back to his paperwork Kleist began to sip on his drink.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:40
Imokolee

Brother Calerius spat on the ground while Brother Terak rammed a sickle shaped magazine into his bolter and cocked the firing chamber. The diminutive page, having been sent from the inquisitorial staff to inform them that they were ordered to leave the Warmaster’s bodyguard and return to their chapter, turned pale as snow as he watched the seven veteran space marines glare at him.

Sergeant Kalthor strode forward and declared, “I swore an oath upon my honor to the master of my chapter and the Emperor himself that I and my squad would defend the Warmaster with our lives. And until the completion of this crusade happens or the time of my death has come, I will not break that oath!”

The page tried to respond, but his mind was far from being able to voice anything remotely close to contradicting the wrathful marine sergeant. Without a word he scurried away.

Kalthor turned to his battle brothers and said, “Prepare everything. As soon as we are ready, we will head for the Warmaster’s command center.”

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:40
Zymran marched down the streets of the fortress of Cormandel, surrounded by his Chosen, and accompanied by the head of the Dark Mechanicus delagation, Arch-Magus Mangrel.
The streets had been cleansed of the countless bodies of the victims of the daemonic infestation and thousands of slave workers were toiling to repair the damage inflicted upon the antique stronghold.
'My lord,' the Arch-Magus continued his report, 'the damage inflicted by the daemonic assault was severe. If you want me to keep the schedule I'll need more slave workers.'
'You shall have them Mangrel. Speak with Vornosk, he'll provide you any number you may require.'
'I have good news however. The plans we were issued were completely correct, we'll be able to start the modification immediately, which puts us ahead of schedule for certain items, notably the gun emplacements.'
The Dark Apostle nodded.
'This is all good but it will be all for nothing if the chamber for the Heart is not finished in time.'
'Nothing to worry about my lord, with an ample supply of slaves I guarantee everything shall be ready for the ritual.'
'Show me.'
The Chaos lord and his retinue stepped into a gigantic cave at the very core of the mesa. Hundreds of workers were removing parts of the inner sanctum of the Citadel and work parties were finishing to dig the massive spheroid cavity. Other work gangs, under the careful eye of half-machine monstrosities with electro-whips, were already starting to install gantries made out of obsidian.
'As you well know my lord, obsidian is psychically inert and will provide a perfect environment for the Heart. The whole of the chamber shall be covered with obsidian as well to minimise interferences with the working of the Heart.'
'I am looking forward to seeing this Mangrel. Your skills for techno-sorcery are well known.'
Zymran turned to Marduk.
'Does this seem to your satisfaction?'
The Sorcerer was doing measurements with bizarre apparatus.
'It seems so my lord. I will have to make verifications once the digging is finished but the parts already completed are within the margins of error.'
'Margins of error!' the Arch-Magus shouted, 'Don't underplay our work, the dimensions of the chamber will be exact to the nanometre, I'll personally make sure of it.'
'Stop it you too,' stated Zymran, the power of the warp filling his voice and and eldritch fire dancing in the eyepieces of his skull helmet.
At this point Arkyl and Sorgheras entered. Karnarion followed them. They clasped their fists on their breatplate, while Karnarion nodded slightly.
'The troops are assembled my lords and await your orders.'
'Excellent, move on Tiraspol at once. Remember this is a decoy but it must be a believable one. I'll lead the main assault myself.'
Zymran dismissed his lieutenants with a blessing from his Crozius.
'Let's get back to the matter at hand, shall we Mangrel?'

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:41
Imokolee

Hunter nodded his thanks to Werdan and rose from his chair and walked past him. The look on his face was one of rage. Coomisar Anastasia Wujen grabbed his arm as he walked near her. "Warmaster I think I know what you are thinking. I advise you not to do ity. Those are two very powerfull individuals there," she nodded towards the retreating backs of Marburg and Karnokova. "Even I have to submit to their authority."

"You would be wise to listen to her council," Werdan added his voice to Wujens. He too had read the tempermental Warmasters dossier and knew that this could happen.

Hunter ignored them and walked past making quick strides to catch up to the two Inquisitors. Wujen looked to O'Connor and shook her head. "Does Colonel Varro still have the coffin he had made when we thought him dead?" O'Connor nooded affirmative.

Hunter called out to the Inquisitors to get them to stop, his ribs were starting to ache. "Inquisitor Marlboro a moment if ya dont mind." Marburg turned and glared at Hunter for the obvious mispronouncement of his name. "I feel that we got off on the wrong foot back there," Hunter said before Marburg could start speaking.

Marburg was slightly surprised to hear Hunter speak thus. He knew the man by his dossier and knew that he had a hot temper and had expected an outburst of rage, in fact he had hoped for it. He smiled a predatory grin at the Warmaster and nodded his head.

"I think we need to understand things a lil better," Hunter said as camly as he could. "First of all in regards to the Adeptus Astartes that are part of my Lifeguard I never requested them. They were sent by their various Chapter Masters and I accepted them. If ya want 'em gone ya gotta deal with the Chapter Masters. In regards of who commands them that would be Sgt Hef," Hunter pointed over his shoulder with his left thumb. "And as far as he and Hagr go you'll have to deal with Logan Grimnar." Hunter got a little satisfaction at seeing the Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors face tighten at the mention of the Space Wolf l3eaders name.

"As to my staff," Hunter again said cutting the Inquisitor off before he could speak. "Yer an Inquisitor and its yer job to do Inquisitive things, but I am tryin' to run a Crusade here and will not tolerate you and yer thugs leanin' on my staff and makin' 'em all nervous..."

"You are in no position to say waht you will and will not tolerate," M,arburg said sternly. He was about to continue when Hunter cut him off.

"What I am in position to do is run this Crusade and take back what was lost in the name of Big E," Hunter said his voice firm and even.

"You will speak His Name with respect!" Marburg fairly shouted.

Hunter fished out a cigar and lit it. He blew the blue smoke in Marburgs direction, obviously irritaing him further. Hunter knew he had pushed the man and had his attention. He also knew he had to tread lightly and not push him to far. "As I was sayin'. I am runnin' a Crusade here and so fer we've done perty damned well with out havin' ya'll lookin' over our shoulder all the time. Carolon, Tahoss IV , Camulod, Clingmans Dome, Egea, Tarpons Cross, Lannisport, Imokolee, New Athens, four worlds in the space controlled by the rebel vermin the Concordat. Victories all!" Marburg looked about to speak when Hunter held up his hand. " I know ya gotta job to do and I know I caint stop ya. I will request that when ya interview my staff and the troops that make up my lifeguard that ya do it when they are off duty. I need their reports timely and efficiantly in order to do my job as well as I can."

"You dare tell us how to do our job!" Karnakova said with malice in her voice.

Hunter turned and grinned at her. He saw the look of disgust on her face, which was the effect he had wanted. "No lass I'd never try and tell such auguist persons as yerselves how to do yer job," his voice was as soft and sweet as he could make it and not wretch his lunch. "What I am askin' is ya'll do yer Inquisitiove things as quietly as possible and let my staff do their job as efficiantly as possible. The lives thousands of Guardsmen and Imperial citizens could rest on one report."

"I will do my work as I," Marburg emphasised the I, " see fit. I will interogate anyone I wish when I wish and there is little that you can do about it."

"Yer right," Hunter said as he puffed on his cigar. " 'Bout all I could do is lodge a complaint with the High Lords and see whose frioends has the fuzzyest balls."

"I think perhaps the Warmaster may have the right idea," Werdan spoke up breaking the mounting tension. The two senior Inquisitors glared in his direction. "Unless I am mistaken your staff works in three eight hour shifts," Hunter nodded that this was correct. " Then we will have plenty of time to interview his staff when they are not needed."

Marburg saw the reaoning behind this and grudginly nodded. "Is there anything else, Warmaster?"

"As a matter of fact, yes," Hunter said puffing up his cigar. "Lil John is my standard bearer and will stay so." Hunter voice and stance indicated that he was ready to argue for the rest of the day on this issue.

" I have the power to remove you here and now and execute that abomination of Humanity," Marburg said cooly.

"Yeah ya do," Hunter leaned on the wall. This served two purposes. The first was to relieve the pressure on his still healing ribs, the second was to afford Hef and Hagar a clear shot if they needed it. "But if ya do you'll cut the balls off of this Crusade. Brucy is the spirit of this Crusade and Ekaterina is its heart, but I am by far the balls of it. Ya kill me and sure ya can get some asskiss to replace me on good order but I can gaurantee ya that it'll grind to a quick halt."

Marburg and Hunter locked stares. Hunter felt the pressure that Marburg was exerting on him , but was determined to hold on and kept up the gaze. Disgusted Marburg sniffed in disgust and turned on his heel and walked away, Karnakova right behind. Werdan just shrugged his shoulders and gave a slight grin as he walked by. Hunter was sure he was secretly enjoying seeing that Marburg couldnt intimidate with just his badge of office.

Hunter turned and breathed a sigh of relief as he walked back to his office. Most of the munitorium staff was ashen at seeing the confrontation. "Commisar Wujen," Hunter said with a wicked grin to hide his own shattered nerves, " you look surprised to see me. O'Connor see if ya can get hold of Heinrich Drakkenhorst a message and let him know his old friend Karnakova is now lurkin' around."
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In a remote corner of the office a staffer relaxed. Jagdus Dashor had assumed the part of a janitor to get into the Warmasters office. He had determined that Hunter was still to weak to kill as of yet and was just biding his time. He had been ready to pounce on the Inquisitors had they tried to executer the Warmaster.

He was glad he didnt, he really hated saving Hunters life, he had done it all to much while trying to kill him.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:41
The trek through the plains was a long and hardeous one. The guides provided by the Branican High Command were competent but the presence of the forces of the Archenemy made the journey dangerous. The group had to take a wide detour in order to get in sight of the fortress of Cormandel.
It had been over a week since they had left Tiraspol, travelling in vehicles and on foot. The atmosphere was pretty bad, Brusilov had no love for either the Eldar or Elric and resented Drakkenhorst for his association. Elric generally ignored the Commissar but was deferent to the Eldar, who considered him as some kind of freak. The Seer seemed very tired but was always the one insisting they kept on going.
Drakkenhorst did not dare ask, but it seemed Ashafar'yirraith was spending all his energy on this expedition, as if there was no going back for him.

'What now?' asked the Commissar, sitting on a mossy rocky he had cleared of snow and smoking his pipe.
He pointed at the squat mesa on the horizon, still far away but at the same time incredibly close.
'They're working hard at something,' noted Drakkenhorst, handing back his binoculars to the Commissar, 'I don't know what it is but it seems like massive obelisks.'
'This is for some kind of ritual,' said the Seer without looking at them, 'the obelisks are being raised on great lines of aethyric power on this world. This is probably in preparation for Zymran's ascension.'
'We'd best hurry then. When he's ready, he'll probably try to get the Heart and then it'll be too late for us,' remarked Elric.
'How are we do get past all these guards?' remarked Brusilov, 'or this army ready to march against us?'
Drakkenhorst nodded to the guide.
'We've been provided with these,' he showed the heavy red cloaks of cultists, 'they should allow us to move more or less unnoticed, at least until we reach the fortress, then we can disappear.'

Brusilov hated every moment of the crossing of the plains. Despite the hexagrammic wards written on sanctified parchment inside his cloak, the Commissar felt tainted by the essence of Chaos that pervaded this place. Desperation was everywhere he turned. Hundreds of slaves toiled to death in the cold with rags on their back. Many fell, frozen to death or beaten by the massive overseers, but there were always more to replace them.
The worst part was playing the role of Chaos cultists, the very notion of which revulsed Brusilov. He was surprised they had managed to get so far. He had refused outright to utter a single world of devotion to the Chaos gods, even if it was not heartfelt, and so had the Eldar. As such they did not speak, pretending to reach the essence of Chaos through meditation, rather than the ravings of the majority of half-crazed cultists.
The Commissar recognised former Branican PDF uniforms, as well as a few Kriegans. It tore his heart to see brave soldiers of the Emperor working for the Archenemy and he was almost tempted to take them out of their misery. Drakkenhorst had wisely stayed his hand, there were more important things to do, but that did not take away the feeling of guilt.
The sheer scale of the construction work was staggering. Apart from the Obelisks they had left behind them half-a-day ago, the mesa iself was undergoing extensive change, the nature of which escaped Brusilov. Massive holes were being dug in the side of the mesa and huge warship sized gun batteries were fitted in their place.
'What kind of power do they have?' asked the Commissar, 'this seems too much for the plasma reactors of the fortress.'
'They intend to harness the power of the warp through the Heart of Pius, an incredibly energy source,' answered the Seer. Brusilov looked at the Inquisitor for confirmation and he nodded his agreement.

Finally they passed under the massive gates of the fortress, guarded by two Banelord Chaos Titans of the Flaming Skulls, their pendants flapping in the cold winter wind, their guns trained on the visitors and their snarling monstrous faces looking down at those who entered.
Inside the work was even more impressive, because of the incredible damage caused by the daemonic infestation. The little group rested in a half-ruined warehouse before pushing on.
'We need to find where Ekaterina is held,' noted Drakkenhorst.
Malyssia simply nodded and disappeared into the darkness.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 00:42
Scharnhorst watched with satisfaction as the last survivors of the column were run down by Death Riders. A dozen vehicles, mostly trucks and two armoured cars for protection burned, ammunition continued to cook and explode but the massive bursts of flames earlier had destroyed most of it.
In three days it was the third such column of vehicles to fall to the Kriegans and Amarythians.
It was a drop in the sea, a mosquito biting the thick hide of an enraged carnosaur, but keep at it and the beast might finally take notice. If anything it would force the Archenemy to reinforce security on its convoys. What worried the Kriegan officers was why Zymran was sending supplies so far south. This warranted an investigation. Scharnhorst feared he was not the only one laying low until the moment of attack.
'We'll make Rangers out of your troops yet, Gerhard,' noted Colonel Artemia, as she marched across the road to join him.'
'I thought the Rangers were a women only institution.'
'I see someone has been doing some reading.' she nagged at him.
'So I have, but this is not what's important here. What I'm more concerned about is why send this convoys so far south. There is no concentration of Chaos forces that way.'
'None that we know of.'
'True enough, there is also something I'm wondering about. A dozen trucks seems very little. Probably nothing more than a battalion of troops, if you want to keep them supplied for any length of time.'
'You're thinking there's an elite unit down here?'
'I am not sure what to believe yet. This may be a trap to get us to reveal our full strength. But we have not striked often enough to warrant a trap just for us.'
'So what do you believe this is all about?'
'I think Zymran is trying to flush someone else out and we're got in the middle.'
'Not a pretty thought, but for a trap it's a little too obvious don't you think? Especially with none of Zymran's forces in the region?'
'Good point, next time, we'll see where this convoy goes.'

Twice now in the last two weeks, the promised convoy had failed to arrive. Carthac was starting to fear his accomplices among the quartermasters of the Crimson Legion had been discovered.
The Chaos Marine passed the length of the cave nervously, looking around him with disgust. While his new body could do without it, Carthac deeply regretted the luxuries of his palace on Camulod.
'There is no need to be so nervous Carthac, Zymran's eyes are concentrated elsewhere for now. They are turned to Shanalorn and the Heart. We must be ready to strike, as soon as possible, otherwise he'll attack first.'
The Chaos Marine nodded slightly. Daelhg'gkor did not care about how to feed, cloth and arm the thousand or so soldiers that had joined him. A good fifty had died in the attempt on Ekaterina's life, Arkyl would pay.
A Surenite walked into the cave and came to his knees.
'Great lord, the convoy has been destroyed again. The enemy appears to be the same as last time. Our men stood no chance against that trap. It was laid by professionals.'
A quarter of Carthac's troops were Serunites, cast outs and recent additions to Zymran's evergrowing army. The daemon had praised his ability to get the skilled infiltrators, they would serve a greater purpose in thwarting the Apostle.
For now though, Carthac fumed, supplies were dangerously and should the convoy be ambushed next time the troops would probably starve or rebel.
'I'll have one of my contacts send us another one, but this is growing too suspicious for their liking. I want the Serunites to send men north and escort the convoy down to the rendez-vous point. They are to make sure the convoy survives any ambush or we'll die of starvation.'
'I'll see it done my lord,' replied the soldier.

Antaeus
24-08-2005, 18:42
Draeg, Segmentum Obscuras

“You still have not told me why you are offering me your assistance.”

The large, cloaked figure’s hooded face changed slightly, a grimace, supposed Angrabode, though he could not clearly see, the light streaming through the window failing to illuminate the features of the man who sat across from him. Outside, the streets were quiet, buildings glinting in the morning sunshine, the sky a perfect blue.

“My motives are my own, General. Suffice to say, I believe that you will find my help quite satisfactory.”

The General of the Draegan 17th shifted in his seat, his remaining eyebrow lowered in a suspicious gaze that his bionic left eye could not mimic. “I have little doubt of that. While I can accept that you are no friend of the Imperium, how do I know that you do not serve the Ruinous Powers?”

A smile ghosted across what Angrabode could see of the larger man’s face. “This coming from the man who fought alongside them at Camulod?”

Angrabode’s eye narrowed even further. “How did you know about Camulod?”

“Oh, I know many things, General.” chided the power armoured figure, his gauntleted right hand lazily sweeping the dimly lit room in which they spoke. “Many things that you do not, things that you would not understand, and even more things that you would not believe.”

The General opened dhis mouth to speak, but Cypher continued. “But fear not, General. I too have given…aid to the Ruinous Powers, though my agenda is distinctly incompatible with theirs. They are a means to an end, a tool that can be used by me to further my cause.”

“And what cause is that?” Angrabode felt uneasy, and cast a glance at the two dark blue-armoured Storm Troopers that stood behind him, strafer rifles slung across their chests.

“A cause which you would agree with, General Angrabode.” Cypher slowly stood, his white cloak rippling as it tried to mimic its master’s movements. “A cause which you would agree with wholeheartedly.” The Space Marine turned, and swept soundlessly out of the Draegan General’s office.

Angrabode sat in his chair, unmoving, lost in his thoughts. What part the mysterious warrior would play in this tale was still to be seen, but the Concordat General could not help but think that, impenetrable as his cloud of secrecy was, the man’s aid, whatever form it took, would be of benefit to Angrabode’s cause.

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

Tyrandel, Segmentum Obscuras

The frag grenade detonated, shrapnel pinging off the shattered walls of burnt-out houses. Arik Mayne hefted his rifle, raising his head above the collapsed statue he used for cover, and tried to make out a target in the gloom. Nothing. If there were Imperial troops in his line of vision, the clouds of dust that hovered in the streets of Berkenstass were obscuring them.

What regiment the enemy were, he neither knew nor cared. All he knew was that since landing on Tyrandel, they had forced back a small detachment from the Derellian 3rd, and broken the back of two battalions of the Draegan 4th that had been sent to hold the line. Now the city of Berkenstass was the battleground: Mayne hoped that he, and the rest of his troops from the 17th, would be enough to push the bastards out and back towards their landfall site on the northern continent.

Red lances of lasfire speared through the darkness in the vague direction of the Draegan “lines” (for “lines” could scarcely describe the formation the Draegan troops were in while taking cover in the ruined buildings). Mayne crouched behind the statue’s stone column, watching the red beams streak through the cold night air, confident that none of the shots had hit any of the men under his command. This was his style of warfare: that of the Battle Captain, to lead by example and lead from the front, not to sit in a tent poring over maps. Colonel Vasska had sent them straight into the fight in an attempt to stop their rapid advance, and Battle Captain Arik Mayne would do just that.

Figures seemed to move in the dust cloud, black, insubstantial silhouettes. Mayne keyed his combed.

“Crimson One, do you have a visual?”

“Negative, Captain.” Sergeant Valentine Swinney replied, the sniper perched in the ruined husk of an administration block two hundred metres behind and thirty above Mayne’s position. “Not picking up anything.”

“Try about three hundred from me.”

Swinney swung his long rifle around, peering through the powerful scope. “Nothing, boss.”

“Must have imagined it. Keep an eye…”

“Wait, sir, I’ve got something! Three or four man-sized targets, moving slowly, keeping close to the ground. Permission to fire, sir?”

“Negative! Let them get a little closer. Alright, boys, we have incoming. Get ready.”

In the ruins of a building behind him, four armoured figures unsoldered bulky, multi-barrelled rifles and rested them on damaged walls.

“Range to target, Crimson One?”

“I’d say one-fifty, sir!”

“Fire!”

The crack of Swinney’s long rifle echoed through the night. One of the dark figures hit the ground, and didn’t come back up. Five Draegan strafer rifles whirred into life, a maelstrom of bullets roaring through the air, tearing into buildings and disappearing into the cloud of dust. Bright red return fire intensified for a few seconds, then died away again.

“Got them, sir! No more target on…”

A shining lance of red fire screamed from the darkness, disappearing into the building where Swinney had perched. The Draegan sniper cut off.

Mayne swore. “Probably got our positions too! Emperor’s blood…” He activated the bead again. “Two platoon, prepare to charge out of your positions, repeat, prepare to charge.”

“What’s happened, sir?” came the voice of Sergeant Mennon.

“They’ve got us pinned down over here, we need distraction. For hell’s sake tell them to keep their heads down, but I need as much movement and gunfire as possible. Keep your snipers watching for enemy marksmen, we’ve got at least one covering us.”

“Alright, sir. Moving out! C’mon boys, up and at them!”

Around two hundred metres to the Captain’s right, thirty autoguns were unsoldered, bayonets were snapped into hooks, grenades were clasped. Then, with a resounding, combined roar, the men of 2 platoon charged out of cover towards the enemy lines, weapons chattering like a legion of angry insects. Shell casings tinkled to the rubble-strewn ground as grey-clad soldiers ran towards the unseen and unknown enemy, firing blindly into the dust and mist ahead of them.

Mayne rolled over on his stomach to face the other four Storm Troopers. “Alright boys, that should do it. Let’s move up, keep to the shadows, and when we make contact, tear them apart!”

Grunts of approval followed as Mayne leapt to his feet, the other four troopers flanking him, as he heard enemy heavy weapons open up, the distinctive cough of heavy bolters echoing through abandoned, ruined streets.

Antaeus
28-08-2005, 23:25
The interior of Cormandel was even worst than the exterior. The little group walked forward through crowded streets, thousands of slave workers marching down, the whips of massive overseers whipping at their back.
Brusilov knew the damage the daemons had done was extensive but he was surprised to see how fast the Archenemy was repairing this place. Drakkenhorst paused for some time to observe a gigantic convoy carrying massive pieces of obsidian. Brusilov knew the stone was psychically inactive, but the sheer amount they were transporting was staggering.

They paused in an abandoned warehouse. Elric had gone off to stand guard, so Brusilov approached the Inquisitor.
'How far are we from the Saint?'
Drakkenhorst turned his Death Cultist.
'Not far Inquisitor, however it's difficult to tell how long it will take us to reach her. We have to avoid patrols and this place is a maze.'
'Malyssia is a psychic tracker and her "prey" is the Saint herself. She knows where she is at all times and she's still alive I can tell you.'
At this point, Elric came running.
'Visitors,' he said, taking a deep breath, 'a Chaos patrol is coming this way.'
'They're looking for us or just a standard sweep?' asked the Commissar
'Difficult to say, I'd say standard patrol, there is no more than a dozen of them from what I've seen.'
'Let us be off,' remarked the Seer, speaking for the first time since morning, 'dealing with them will delay us and attract undue attention.'

Malyssia took point again, leading them through dark alleys, ventilation shafts and service tunnels, ever upward. Twice more they escaped patrols. When evening came they found rest in an derelict building whose purpose they could only guess at. The single massive room had been sweeped clean of all furniture.
They found them in the middle of the night. In retrospect, Brusilov thought it had always been too easy. Zymran must have known of their presence all along, it was his domain now after all. Dozens of soldiers clad in red uniforms and black flak armour poured from the entrances of the building. The small ground had nowhere to run, so they found like cornered beasts. Drakkenhorst and the Eldar Seer launched the full fury of their psychic powers. Frost covered the walls as eldritch fire ripped troopers apart. Malyssia danced with the enemy, each strike of her blade ending a miserable life. The two Warlocks protected their master as the Seer tore open a path with his mind alone. Elric hacked soldiers apart with his massive bastard sword, the blade screaming as it devoured souls. Brusilov pumped shot after shot with his bolt pistol, spraying the ground with blood and gore.
Eventually Elric unleashed the full fury of the Hand and Eye of Kwll, the guardians of the Stone of Tears appearing out of thin air. Some still had a more or less humanoid frame, albeit hacked by dozens of bolter shots, while others crawled or were simply limbs moving on their own.
'Kill and be freed, servants of the Hand!' the Eternal Champion shouted.
The Crimson Legionnaires recoiled in terror as the living statues fell upon them. A Chaos Marine appeared out of the darkness, pushing the Legionnaires into the deadly embrace of the servants of Kwll. He was helmetless, his face a predatory smile, as he charged his power sword held high and his massive powerfist low.
Brusilov, who had been covering their retreat, faced the angry Traitor Marine head on. The old Commissar had doned his own powerfist. He block the first blow of the sword, and deftly dodged the lunge of the fist. He tried to smack the Word Bearer with the side of his massive gauntlet but was met by the taloned fist. Brusilov stepped back, barely avoiding the downward blow of the blade.
'Away!' shouted the Commissar, barely able to keep the Marine at bay, 'Get away! Free the Saint!'
Brusilov grabbed the blade with his claw and bent it out of shape, the disruption field failing. It was nothing but a useless piece of metal. Too late did he realise his mistake however. The fist grabbed his weapon arm and slowly crushed it. The Commissar brought his pistol to bear, but it was batted away by the destroy sword.
Brusilov heard the sickening sound of bone popping out its emplacement as the Chaos Marine twisted and pulled, a sadistic snarl on his face. And then the Commissar fell to his knees screaming as the Word Bearer crushed his arm to bloody pulp. Gathering all his will against the agonising pain, Brusilov fired in the general direction of the Chaos Marine.
Before losing consciousness, Brusilov saw Malyssia leading the others away, while more Traitors poured into the building, destroying the servants of the Hand.

When Brusilov woke up, he was lying on cold stone instead of concrete. His vision was hazy but he immediately turned to see his right arm and found it missing.
Looking up, he found the skull helmet of Zymran peering down at him.
'Awake are we?' the Apostle laughed. 'Truly Commissar-Lord, I would have thought you to have more sense than coming running into my lair. Two great members of the Crusade in my clutches, now I need only the fool Hunter to come running, but I doubt he will.'
Zymran paused and Brusilov saw eldritch fire bursting from his eyeslits.
'You put up quite a fight. I guess I'll throw you into the same cell as the Saint, and then you'll witness her death, before dying yourself.'
While Brusilov was dragged across the dungeon, he noted they had not removed the ring on his left hand. Inwardly he could not help but smile.