Predator (Fire Beasts)

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Predator (Fire Beasts)

Postby Gaius Marius » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:23 am

Predator

‘My sons I leave you with these words: seek me in the shadows, hunt my spore across the stars. From the darkness I shall guide you, humanity's last true guards. For now shall come the madness, ten millennia spent insane. Seek me in war’s bloody business, standing in betwixt the injured and the lame. Gird your plate and hone your blades, for this is the time of endless war, where only the true pass through the flame.’
- Vulkan to the Salamanders, on the eve of his departure.

‘Father, we will bring you back’- First Bull Jacquefre

Loyal Fiend, you break the eggshell skin of reality like an arrow falling from the sky, the screams of the damned rippling along its sides as it pulsed its unconquerable beat across the stars. Loyal Fiend, you burner of worlds, you hunter of man and un-man, you slayer of traitors, you vanguard of destruction, oh how you hurtle towards war once again. Loyal Fiend, you vast winged bringer of doom, you ancient monster of terror, how you bristle with the gigaton fire power of a lost age, coated in plates mined from a gas giant’s heart. Loyal Fiend, you are an eternal symbol of the Drake’s vengeance, so terrible that demons fled from your wake and worlds burned in its passing.

Loyal Fiend, you lair of monsters, you home of the Fire Beasts.

Oberon class you slide from the warp, fifty megatons of steel and atomic hate. Roaring at full impulse speed, your engines pushing against the hard boundary of light do you swing around the glowing curve of a planet’s surface, dull and feeble beside your might. Magnetic fields and ozone smog hide even your terrible approach, you move through the ionosphere like a tiger masking its charge in high grass. Unseen do you come upon the foe, their backs turned to your lances and plasma.

Traitors are they named as the auspex rings, debased and fallen sons doomed by their own words, damned by their own actions. Word Bearers, red plated sons of a false prophet, engraved with his lies and filled with his bile. Betrayers of Isstvan, sowers of discord and heresy, authors of the Salamander’s doom. Of all foes are they the most hated, the most despised, their deaths the most longed for.

Loyal Fiend, do you feel the warriors alive inside your mighty form? Do you hear the post-humans shout their war cries, do you see it when they clash their falchions against their chests, swearing vengeance for long ago Isstvan? Can you notice the deck slaves beneath the Emperor’s sons, do you smell the sweat of a hundred thousand slaves dragging ordinance? Do you feel the blood splatter from their backs? Do you feel the crew and technicals hard plugged into your infinite mind? Do we control you, oh Oberon? Or do we merely ride inside you, thinking we are mighty?

Battle Barge class is your foe, mighty capital vessel of a long ended crusade, a breaker of worlds grown warped and fat within the eye. Titans live within its bulky caverns, launch bays filled with storm birds smile between the gleaming teeth of lance batteries and host of fallen angels call it home. Nestled low to the atmosphere, a belly glowing white from friction sheds endless streams of drop pods, gunships and missile salvos, the rain of a world’s ending. Thirteen kilos from armored prow to blaring stern, it proudly thinks itself invulnerable, made undefeatable by plate and cannon. Cancerous and ripe, it fouls the void with its presence; a stinking loathsome reek of noise and smell in the void that proclaims itself to be Shatter Star. Hate stirs deep within your trackless bowels, rage unending at this heretical challenge to your mastery of the void.

‘Loyal Fiend!’ you shout back at it, on a level and in way that the mortals hiding within your bulk could never understand.

‘Loyal Fiend!’ you scream as you swing around its stern: your lance tips hot as a main sequence star, your weapon batteries filled with atomic hate. A spirit grown mad and bloated in the heart of insanity prickles at your challenge, but time has run out for this abomination.

‘Loyal Fiend!’ is your roar of triumph, your measure of victory as your broadside lights up the enemy’s stern. Thrusters blow out, armored plates melt and the main reactors of the foe fall dead as a tree caught in forest fire. Long denied gravity grabs hold of the shaft of steel that denies its reach and rips Shatter Star from orbit. Accurately named it falls from the sky, a ceiling of burning iron caving in upon the world below.

Lesser ships swarm the close in orbitals; one score cruisers and destroyers of Lorgar’s ancient fleet, ten dozen empty bellied cultist haulers with their berserk cargo already vomited out. In vengeance they turn, three cruisers with unholy zeal fueling their desires to turn this orb to their master’s dark purpose. Bombardment cannon and mass drivers are brought to bear, generatoria send electric impulse to lance batteries and Word Bearers rush to boarding positions.

‘Loyal Fiend!’ you roar at them, super predator challenged by slinking jackals. Your ancient mind finds the challenge humorous and you smile with the force of a dying star, unleashing gigatons of energy into the nearest fallen , armored prow dissolving before you. Once it was Hades class and you do not care its name, putting a broad side of high energy ordinance into its flank. Dying and pained it reels aside, cast adrift into the void to perish.

Plasma burns against your shields, the fury of chaos at last given voice by the massed plasma weapons of the twinned Carnage class cruisers. Pain ripples about your bow and flanks as shields short out in bursts of electrical storms, armor runs like water and towns worth of menials perish in holocaust. Laughter comes across that secret pathway, mockery from your ancient foes for they believe that they can kill you.

What temerity, what foolishness, what idiocy, what hilarity.

You are Loyal Fiend. Nothing can kill you.

Tech-Priests back away from your reactors as those mighty atomic hearts pump out twice their recommended power, roiling centers of liquid plasma. A thousand crewmen die of rad poison, vomiting their guts upon your holy decks as their skin curls away. Could you notice? Would you care?

Force beyond measure do you create, faster than men’s minds can factor do you go as you caress the boundary of light. At ten thousand kilometers do you halve the main thrusters with a thought, crushing the excess force into your port rudders, slewing yourself around nearly 90 degrees with a Carnage class dead before you. Every spare scrap of force is pushed into your frontal shields as you abandon lance, battery and attack craft. You are a bullet, you are immortal, you are Loyal Fiend.

Loyal Fiend! You do not strike like a blow from a god, for here, now, you are a God. Before your gigantic might the Carnage dissolves; shields popping like soap bubbles as the impenetrable wedge of energy you cast before your bow overloads the foe’s feeble resistance. Quarter kilometer thick plates of armor tear apart like wet paper in a storm of sparks and scrap, nothing before your might. You make a sacrifice of a hundred thousand souls to the Machine God that forged you, the spawn of Vulcan that dwell inside you screaming in approval!

Loyal Fiend, invincible destroyer of a million foes! Plowing through the debris field your shields flicker with the diamond dust of a hundred thousand perished souls. Hate roars from the last Carnage thirty thousand kilometers away, sending magnetic coated hate lancing through the void. You turn with shields sparking and armor burning, vomiting out a flury of heavy bombers, strike craft and the Caestus assault rams that carry your dread masters to their fates. Without succor, friendless and alone will the Carnage die, its voids brought low and its crew made the prey for a hunter worse even than you.

Loyal Fiend!

Victor in this fight, slayer of a million dead in an hour’s span, unconquered hero of this war. Do you know the name of the world you saved? Does it matter to you?

Void war lies before you still, a conquest that on any other day would be counted the struggle of Titans. Now it is but a skirmish, a footnote upon your endless roll of honor, stretching back towards the dawn of time. Skirmish lines of destroyers and frigates try to organize, made leaderless and afraid by the loss of their betters. Behind you roar the rest of the Fire Beast fleet, a levy of strike cruisers and escorts near useless alongside your bulk.

Loyal Fiend!

One sole threat to you is an Avenger class Grand Cruiser, far away and locked in boarding combat with a star fort, Ramiles class. Destroyers are but chaff for your escorts, you leave them in the cosmic dust to seek out greater glories. Those Astartes yet within your sacred halls load bolter and fix blade, eager to shed traitor blood in the shattered passages of the Ramiles.

Loyal Fiend!

Behind you lies the greatest triumph of your living memory, a million traitors dead. But it is a victory unfiinished, for gravity is slow. Shatter Star has secondary power enough to fuel its shields, enough to ride its fall in single piece. Thousands of its bloated crew perish in an earthquake of destruction, but hundreds thousand more survive, joining the millions of their traitor cult kin on the world below. Titans limp out from their disjointed halls, Fallen Angels march in ragged column from broken prayer rooms.

Loyal Fiend!

This war is just begun. What comes now is three years in the mud, three years of dying, three years of hell, three months of blade against blade before the planet’s mastery is won.

Do you notice? Could you care?
Last edited by Gaius Marius on Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Predator (Fire Beasts)

Postby Dannymac247 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:30 pm

As I read this, I had an image of a Grand Orator standing in a tall gothic hall, recounting events long after they passed, sort of a Homer for the age of 40k. Fantastic use of poetic prose to invoke an atmosphere. Very well done.
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Re: Predator (Fire Beasts)

Postby Regius Manus » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:07 pm

I agree, this was a nice change of pace.

I pictured a tech-priest or tech-marine singing his prayers of thanks to the mighty battle ship.
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Re: Predator (Fire Beasts)

Postby exitus_10 » Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:25 pm

Gaius Marius wrote: From the darkness I shall guide you, humanitieslast true guards.


Seems like social justice is in trouble, I think I like this already.

Though I am more inclined to think it was mean to be humanity's last true guards according to context.
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Re: Predator (Fire Beasts)

Postby Gaius Marius » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:54 am

Chapter 1: Champion
‘What a species are we that values such a lack of self-preservation.’ – Vulkan

Six squads.

Both assaults are going and three of the tacticals. None of the heavy supports are going in as whole units, but the flamer and melta specialists are being reattached to round out the assault squads with close in fire power. Tobruk, Lafayette, Surdon and MacIllan are the lucky chosen and they haul their bulky, Geiger clicking meltas and the sputtering flamers with their fat sloshing tanks into the chambers of the Caestus rams without complaint, indeed with eagerness in their eyes. To kill with fire is what our breed prefers, even more so than blades or fists. Sergeant Gilead gives each a message of good luck, smashing armored fists together with knuckle breaking force. I am the only member not of his devastator squads Gilead does the same too, we have been in the same unit since we became Vulkan’s sons.

Six squads.

Pelain had voiced his want to bring the whole 8th company, to bloody his new command in one communal effort of slaughter, overwhelming the Word Bearers in one ferocious overwhelming counter-boarding. The First Bull had laughed at his ferocity, that dry, humorless chuckle Douglas used when someone almost amused him.

‘Take six,’ the First Bull repeated, leaning on that giant claymore of his, ‘six and no more. There’s a heavy destroyer out there that was captured less than a year ago, to short to be irredeemably corrupted. The fleet could use new blood in its tired old veins and I want to leave a reserve aboard the Fiend, especially in light of its most recent actions. She grows independent in her old age and I don’t want to depend on guns alone if Lorgar’s hated spawn have a reserve hidden somewhere.’

Six squads.

Acceleration grips like a vice, pressing red armored backs into the seating, as the Caestus fire their bulky solid fuel engines and erupt from the firing chambers on tails of flame. Mixed with a spread of chaff bombs and guided missiles we are a shoal of sharks hidden within a swarm of fish. Engine roar fills the chamber, competing with the twin drumroll of my hearts within my superhuman ears as the only available sound.

Stars flash by as solid lines of light, intermixed with the retina searing nova of exploding ships. Parts of the fleet slower than the enraged might of Loyal Fiend have engaged the foe, escorts and strike cruisers knifing into the disorganized flock of the enemy. Detachments of 2nd company scattered throughout the assisting squadrons are launching as well, aiming to capture a heavy destroyer of almost pristine newness. It will make a valuable addition to the Fire Beasts.

‘The Emperor Sends the Beasts with Wrath!’ someone begins shouting the chapter litany.

8th are near combat-virgins. Of its 94 Beasts, over 60 have been recently raised from the Scouts, the scars from the insertion of their Black Carapace still red and raw. For many this will be the first time they have fought in war plate and they are eager to add honors to the company’s raw banner. Those few veteran Astartes all hold positions of authority, even those of relative youth. How else could I explain my position?

‘Champion,’ Captain Pelain says to me on a secure channel. Like me he has donned his helm, an ossified nightmare of snarling fangs, down curved horns and red eye slits. There is a Crux Terminatus pinned to his gorget, only two other warriors in the company have earned them.

‘My Captain,’ I return.

‘When we impact, the two of us will make our way to Sergeant Anatol’s unit. We will press into the thickest of the fighting and seek out the enemy’s commander. Either of us is more than capable of killing one of the XVII’s sniveling members Champion Martel, but if possible I would like the kill. The company will respond better if I hang the bastard’s head on our banner.’

Pelain has been a Balrog for nine decades, half of that time spent as a Sergeant. Nearly a century in the 1st company has taught him his business well and he is no insecure rookie commander.

‘Of course,’ I reply, snapping the ends of my lightning claws together with a flash of current, ‘but I hope you will not object if my intervention becomes a necessity and Vulkan smiles upon my actions.’

‘If Vulkan wills it, who am I to object?’ Pelain answers, his armored gauntlet going to the coiled power lash at his side, ‘Although I doubt He will see it as necessary.’

We impact the side of the Ramiles with the force of an earth quake. Missile batteries on the ram’s flanks open up on the last hundred meters, ignition flashes brightening the void for a few seconds. We follow in the contrails, hitting just after the warheads detonate and blow shards of reinforce armored plate off, flickering into the void like spent paper. Meltas bellow to life just before we impact into the craters, warming steel until it is as warm as butter. The Caestus bucks intolerably, slamming us between resistor cage and seat with enough force to break a mortal man’s spine a dozen times over, as we slide to a rest deep in the fort’s guts.

‘Blessed be we of Vulkan’s blood,’ I say as I rise from my seat, the cage lifting above me, ‘that we may do such works in His name.’

I am first out of the ram, boarding shield up and angled. Osman and Villiers flank me, between us we present a solidly unified front of steel to the outside world. They have bolters presented to the front, nestled through the firing slit of the shield. Vulkan has granted me a strength in close combat that has so far proven unequaled so I rely only upon my claws.

We rush out, my compatriots turning to the sides to present an armored front. The Captain is immediately behind us, plasma pistol aimed at the ceiling as we clear our immediate surroundings. Not much is left of these, whatever room we come to rest in a ruin of charred metal and carbonized stains. Codicer Wallace is last out of the ram, the mortuary power blade in his left hand roaring with red psychic flames. He was turned to cover the command squads back, although nothing could have survived the impact behind us: only a blank tunnel of collapsing metal, rapidly cooling and falling in upon itself. Satisifed our rear was cleared, the psyker went to the ram’s other prong, keying open its portal.

Fire Beast Librarians can slay with mind bullet or mental inferno as easily as any, but their main specialty lies in gene-smithing and mentally dominating specially designed war beasts. Some focus upon the creation and control of dozens of the creatures and the fallen Chief Librarian Montblanc could boast of controlling scores of the monsters. Young Wallace, only recently transferred to independent action, has instead put his focus upon mastering a single creature.

Drowsy from tranquilizers, the animal cautiously pulled itself from its cage with claws the size of a mortal’s forearms. The massive saurian skull, horned and scaled, came next with slabs of armor bolted to it. All together it was 5 meters of pure killing power, the weight of five Astartes and so massive it had had to curl up inside the Caestus. It looked upon the world with malevolent intent through two tiny, beady eyes.

‘Sioux,’ the Codicer speaks to it calmly, laying an armored palm upon its snout, the eyes of both lighting up with mutual soul fire, ‘it is time to hunt.’

We move fast, sprinting into the Ramilies fort’s more inhabited areas. Vast swaths had already been cleared by the Word Bearers, who had left a carpet of slaughtered mortals behind them. Menial crew had died by the thousands, with the corpses of hundreds of armored security complement scattered amongst them. The mortals had broken like sheep before Lorgar’s lying spawn, even though they out numbered them 35 to 1 and the shotcannons of the security personnel could easily pierce war plate with sufficient shots. They lacked Vulkan’s fire to sustain them, another difference between us and them.

We find the first of the foe just after linking up with Sergeant Anatol’s squad. They outnumber us, 20 to 16 and have the advantage of surprise and superior position. But we are Fire Beasts, we remember Isstvan and the hate burns clear in us still.

Bolt rounds slam into my shield, just as I lead us around a corner. Only half the formation has been seen and Pelain makes a snap decision.

‘Shadow Burn formation!’ he orders and Sergeant Anatol, Codicer Wallace and the six warriors behind us stop instantly, still unseen.

The foe is dug in as well as the Sons of Dorn or the Scum of Perturabo would have been, secure behind a barricade of scavenged equipment and slain servitors. They are a rear guard, put in place to make sure that no Imperial relief, such as us, can rush to the fortress’ aide. Their number points to the large size of the enemy force, their presence at all says we are dealing with a formidable commander. However, the best troops are rarely placed in such positions nor are the best commanders. There are no Terminators before us nor any possessed berserkers of the Gal Vorback and their commander has not thought to lace his position with mines.

I charge upwards, warcries on my lips. An armored arrowhead of shields is behind me, rounds sparking off of us. By Vulkan’s blessing none of the foe have a melta or a missile launcher, although a plasma round turns one of our shields near molten. In response we set off the flash bangs attached to the front of our shields, the combined brightness temporarily over coming their autosenses. The respite is enough for me to gain the slope of the barricade, leaping forwards with my shield rim aimed straight into the throat of a heretic marine. Its gorget cracks and I put all of my considerable weight into the thrust as I fall, near decapitating my opponent. Pain ripples through my right side as several shots hit me, the heretics are reacting.

My brothers join me, Osman covering my flank and letting loose with his bolter, emptying the drum mag into another Word Bearer. Captain Pelain fires his plasma pistol into the melee, melting the arm of a warrior who was about to gut me with a chainsword. I finish him off with a slash of talons to the face, gouging out his eyes and severing his jaws but not killing him. The rest of the squad tosses grenades and empties their weapons, but the damned members of the XVIIth are coming at us now, gladii and chainblades raised.

‘Shadow!’ shouts the Captain and we pull back, letting loose with our last flashbangs to gain a moment’s respite. The fight is still fierce and Osman falls, a victim of the enemy’s plasma gun that runs his shield molten and burns away his lower body. But we killed three of them and wounded several more, better yet the remainder have abandoned their positions and are now pursuing us.

Rounding the corner we find Anatol has set up a lethal ambush: melta guns are to the fore and anti-personnel mines have been placed on the ceiling. We dodge to the side just as the hated foe come in behind us and the rest of the squad greets them with fire. Two die instantly to melta blasts, their armor falling in a slurry of ceramite and flesh. Bolt fire kills or seriously injures several more and Wallace sends his pet monster charging into their ranks with a thought. Roaring, and with bolt rounds sparking off its armored sides, it knocks a particularly damned heathen to the ground and bites clean through his armor, going for the geneseed as it is trained.

Pelain leads the rest of us in, shouting oaths to Vulkan as the foe tries to rally with cries to their own false gods. One of them I slam into the wall, crushing him against the bulkhead and driving my talons into his guts. My claws slide past the plate, loops of burning intestine pooling past my wrist as I stick my arm into the Word Bearer’s stomach cavity, driving towards his spine. Vertebrae pop and tear as I seize hold of them, jerking his spine out like a ribbon.

A champion leads the enemy, a roaring fiend in studded war plate that has fused to his flesh, near our equal in barbarity. Two of our young bloods fall to the smoking daemon axe, the weapon literally biting into their necks and sending out spews of chewed flesh. Pelain’s lash cracks out, wrapping around his right arm and burning deep into the armor. I hamstring him, leaving a leg hanging by a thread while Codicer Wallace cuts lops his arm off at the elbow with a downwards stroke of his mortuary sword. The squad tears into the falling Champion, his squad dying to bolt and melta around him. We break his back and shear away his limbs, leaving him a twitching carcass on the floor.

‘Leave him,’ orders Pelain, standing over his the limbless prisoner, ‘Apothecary, collect the geneseed of the fallen and then bind the enemy’s wounds. He will make a worthy sacrifice. All other effectives, finish the infidel wounded and be quick about it. We have a hunt to complete.’

We kill many more after that: three butchers cornered in a store room full of panicking civilians, their mortal blood splashed against the panicking mortals; two slow moving Havocks with long barreled auto cannons melted to screaming ash by the Codicer’s mental fury; an entire squad pinned against a still surviving barricade. The last one was my favorite; we hit them with grenades, crippling three of them as Wallace sent his familiar charging into their ranks, shrapnel pinging off its hide. I killed two in that fight: one was a screaming berserker that came at me with a wailing chain fist. I let the shield eat its first blow, even though it was torn to ribbons and cut its hand off at the wrist before opening his face and tearing out his groin. The second one wounded me in the leg, embedding a chainblade there while I dealt with his compatriot. My ruined shield served for that one, smashing repeatedly against his skull until the red enameled helmet collapsed flat.

Reports are flickering in, from the panicked armsmen who show indecent relief that they have been spared death, from vox reports by the other squads and from hard penetration auspex scans by the Loyal Fiend. We’ve killed fifty of them so far, if all of our counts are accurate, and there are at least that many remaining. Five man kill packs are moving towards the generatoria and Pelain sends a squad headed that way to take and hold it. A concentration of thirty enemy Astartes are assaulting the fort’s main hall, there are Terminators there and a sorcerer or maybe a dreadnought if reports are correct.

Joyous battle awaits.

Forty one of us are gathered together by the Captain to begin our assault, the remnants of five squads. The mortal sergeant in command of the barricade we leave actually offers to come with us, Pelain is shocked he actually takes a second to tell him no. We’ll attack as three elements: two squads into the enemies rear where they fight the remnant’s of the fort’s garrison, the remainders coming about to hit the enemy in the flanks.

‘I can feel the Sorceror,’ says Wallace, the Psyker’s black face looking unnormally pale.

‘I thought you couldn’t do that,’ I ask.

‘Normally we can’t. This one is big.’

We go into a nasty fight. Nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty.

The main hall of a Ramilies star fort offers no cover bar a series of chest high walls that can pop up from the floor or withdraw into them at the flick of some distant switch. Designed to allow for the passage of ultra-heavy fuel lifters or the modular, preassembled portions of a starship, it is a corridor as wide as a sixteen lane highway and just as high, bordered by devotional columns, frescos of the great and holy and massive, swinging chandeliers. Tank battles can and have been fought inside them before, as one had been before we arrived.

At least part of the garrison had been Skitarii troopers, although by what remained of their bodies they had unfortunately been the lightly built hypapists and not the massive Praetorian elites. They had charged the enemy with Rhino APCs, meaning to mow them down with the tank’s heavy dozer blades and blast them to bits with the onboard storm bolters. At least one of the Word Bearers died from this, if the giant corpse pinned to the front of one tank is any indication. However, Astartes are more agile than they seem and the rest had dived out of the way before blowing open the rear of the tanks with auto cannon and bolters. Or at least most of them had.

We arrive in time to see one of the Rhinos be picked up and boldly thrown through the air, crashing against one of the skull covered chandeliers hanging from the ceiling before both fall in a clatter of bones and armor. The thrower is a dreadnought painted red as arterial blood, every inch of its 5 meter figure covered in devotional script smaller than a mortal’s skin pore. Its twin power fists crackle with power and there is a heavy silver book hanging from around its body on a silver chain, both covered in malevolent symbols that glow and change we they catch the eye. Ten massive Terminators at its side are dwarves beside its bulk and twenty normal superhumans round out the number, all of them busily massacring the remaining Skitarii and naval armsmen.

‘The sorcerer,’ says Wallace, blood pouring out of his eyes, ‘he is here.’

The dreadnought hears him, or rather feels him. It swings on its gimbals, facing us with its blank face plate before raising its arms above its head. Lightning the color of insanity crackles between them and it flings the bolt into our formation. We break, barely in time, and it only kills one of the new meat and Wallace’s animal. Both Beast and animal die in more agony that should be impossible, cooking within and without and suffering their skeletons literally ripping free of their bodies. Wallace falls to the ground, stigmatic wounds appearing on his chest and face. The Dreadnought charges us, its kin following close behind as they are drawn to us. One of their squads turns to deal with our two ambush detachments, detecting and suppressing them before they can even fire.

‘Martel,’ Pelain orders me, ‘use the beacon.’
The device is old, made before I or any of the company were born. Its stamp says it was made on Mars more than three thousand years ago and I hurl it as a primal savage would throw a rock. The beacon skips against the ground before it activates less than thirty meters from the advancing psyker dreadnought and its foul kin. For a second a glimpse of hell fills the room as it is opened to the warp and every surviving mortal in the star fort vomits in concert.

A hero steps from the tear, five square meters of ceramite glory. Painted the green of the darkest forest and the red of heart blood a comparatively tiny head juts out from its chest, which is covered by a gilded, thorned A the size of an Astartes. A plasma cannon more normally found on a main battle tank is its right arm and a thunder hammer that a Terminator could not lift its right. The name ‘Charles’ is arced above its head, written in platinum and projected above it in hologram letters.

‘Now this children,’ says the Ancient, ‘is something worth waking me.’
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Re: Predator (Fire Beasts)

Postby Gaius Marius » Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:51 am

In life, Charles had led the Fire Beasts for over four hundred years. During that time the Beasts had enacted sixty five Great Hunts, bringing three hundred worlds back to the Imperium’s light and leaving twice that many burning rubble. Since his death, Charles had been one of the 13 electors that selected the Chapter’s First Bull. He had dispensed wisdom and leadership for millennia, providing the savage and intractable Beasts much needed stability. But none of that mattered now.

What mattered now was that his left arm was a plasma cannon.

Charles had room to fire once, pumping a mansized bolt of burning stellar matter into his onrushing foe. Its left forearm ran like water when the bolt smashed into it, melting the spell casting lightning claw into a single carbonized lump. Half real pain ripped through the Word Bearer as its limb dissolved and its stubby legs drew itself on faster. Its swiped at Charles, digging three six inch deep gouges across the Fire Beast’s frontal glassis.

The Ancient turned with the blow, spinning on his waist gimbals to allow the foe to pass him by. His hammer smashed into its side, crumpling its already damaged arm. He brought the plasma cannon around again, another charge of plasma building up in its muzzle. The Word Bearer spun around, clubbing the cannon with its fused limb and knocking the weapon’s delicate circuitry out of line. Its lightning claws flickered out, severing the electrical feeds to the Fire Beast’s enormous thunder hammer before backing away, warp fire charging along its remaining limb.

‘Leaving me standing, typical of Lorgar’s idiot children,’ snarled Charles.

The Fire Beast darted forward, bringing the immense warhammer down on his foe’s weapon limb. Although it was robbed of its normal disruptor field, the three hundred pound mass of adamantine still slammed with whipcrack speed into the Word Bearer’s talons. Plasteel bent and ceramite shattered as the hammer hit home, robbing the dreadnought of its last weapon. Charles systematically tore it apart, snapping its legs and splitting open its waist gimbals to leave the Word Bearer flat on its back in a spreading pool of hydraulic fluid.

‘Your second death will take much longer,’ said Charles, pressing down on the broken dreadnought’s chest, ‘much longer.’

The Fire Beasts swarmed forwards around the Ancient, pouring fire into the World Bearers. Despite their ferocious attack, Charles eclipsed them by an order of magnitude. Two of the Terminators died immediately, their massive armor cracking and splitting like dried clay before the gigantic impact of his hammer. A power armored heathen jumped towards the dreadnought, only for the Ancient to slam the useless barrel of his plasma cannon into the Word Bearer’s stomach, punching through the fore and back plates to leave the Astartes impaled on the weapon.

Twelve of the Fire Beasts were counted slain, three more of them heavily wounded when the fighting ended. Eight more had been killed in other fights about the station, leaving nearly a quarter of Pelain’s new company slain. The Apothecaries began carefully removing the honored geneseed of the fallen, while the survivors began securing the still surviving heathens.

‘Pelain, they let you out of the scouts already?’ asked Charles, the injured Dreadnought leaking hydraulic fluid onto the decking.

‘Nearly three centuries ago great one,’ said the captain of the 8th, touching his fingers to his forehead in salute. He was flanked by his immense champion Martel, the Veteran Astartes bearing over thirty minor wounds from the recent conflict.

‘How time passes,’ replied Charles, ‘You have done well here. A force time and a half again the size of your own slain, with only twenty fallen. The 8th’s first action bears great credit to our name.’

‘We had help honored Ancient,’ said Pelain.

‘Please,’ said the Dreadnought, ‘I was merely here to make sure your boys were up to snuff. If the situation was truly dire I would have done it alone and I would have done it naked.’

‘Now take me back to the Fiend,’ said Charles, casting a bionic eye towards the crippled Word Bearer sorcerer, ‘I have a trophy to dispose of.’


The Command Room of the Loyal Fiend was a relatively simple chamber, although one that bore a sophisticated suite of cogitators and vox broadcasters. A twenty meter dome whose floor and walls were rough hewn igneous rock, a stark reminder of the Fire Beast’s origins, its only decoration was an ancient dark green banner kept in a stasis field. Torn by chainblades, holed by a hundred bolt rounds and half burned away, the banner was the Oriflamme, the Fire Beasts oldest and most holy symbol. A dark red stain covered one of its three remaining corners, surrounded in gold filigree.

‘Vulkan lives,’ said Captain Pelain as he entered the room and touched his face.

‘In the Fire and Shadow,’ replied the First Bull Douglas, finishing one of the Chapter’s mottos.

Douglas was a stark contrast to Pelain. The 8th Captain was taller, nearer eight feet than seven, far more heavily muscled and had the albino skin worn by half the chapter. Douglas in comparison was the color of night and far shorter and more slightly built. Where Pelain killed with a whip, Douglas fought with an enormous claymore titled Heartguard.

The reason for the sword’s name hung around the First Bull’s neck in a casket of an unknown, unbreakable metal from a chain of pure admantine. The Chapter claimed Vulkan’s beating, living heart was inside the casket, torn from the Primarch’s flesh after Isstvan and given to what was once the 13th company of the Salamander’s as a symbol of the unbreakable bond between them and their genefather.

‘Charles tells me you took many hearts today,’ said Douglas, his voice calm and emotionless.

This First Bull was known for his unemotive manner and eerie calmness, a staggering change from his predecessor in many ways.

‘There were ninety five of Lorgar’s by blows upon the station when we made steel shake,’ said Pelain, using the chapter’s term for boarding, ‘four are now currently alive and in the hands of the Chaplains.’

‘MacCallister will thank you for that,’ said Douglas.

Pelain was careful to note that Douglas did not thank him for that.

‘We will review the action at the end of the campaign,’ said Douglas, ‘which seems to be a long one. Your company’s actions merit the highest praise and you acted exemplary to the Chapter’s traditions. I have called you here early before the Captain’s meeting to discuss the coming war.’

‘Why? Are you checking up on me Throat-slitter?’

Douglas smiled at the nickname he had earned in the scouts long centuries ago.

‘No, there is no man in this Chapter I would trust more than you Pelain, save perhaps Charles and he does not count. I am here to inflict a further task upon you.’

‘Ask me and I shall perform it.’

‘I will be appointing a replacement to your company. Nothing to replace your losses, but a veteran warrior to lead one of your amalgamated squads.’

‘Why is this a task?’

‘Because he didn’t die like he was supposed to.’

‘There’s only one Beast you could be referring to.’

‘Yes,’ said Douglas, an emotion clearly showing on his face for once.

That emotion was distaste, for the most hated Astartes in the Chapter was coming home. The one who had done more than any to make Douglas the First Bull. The one who had exposed a heresy that had almost destroyed the Chapter. The one who had murdered the fallen First Bull Jacquefre and thirty of his Terminator Honor Guard.

Tyme.
*******
‘Death is nothing compared to vindication.’

He heard the phrase behind his eyeballs before he woke up like he always did and then vomited into the inside of his helmet which was not generally normal. Gauntleted hands found purchase on the loamy ground and he found himself lying in a gigantic pile of burning foilage as the plate’s filters sucked the vomit off of his face.

12:35 blinked serenely in front of him, the numbers slowly counting down as the vomit cleared from the inside of the visor.

He had fallen about thirty meters, judging from the tail end of the arvus lighter sticking out of the nearby tree, the massive redwood already burning. Gorvun was nearby him, the Minotaur’s skull shattered like a ripe melon on a rockhard knot of roots, pieces of grey matter splattered down his black plate.

‘Thank you friend,’ Tyme said to the dead Astartes, prying the bolter out of the corpse’s hand, ‘You were never good for much, but I appreciate the gift.’

He checked the load and slotted a round into the chamber with the ease of long practice. There was no sign of Arenllas or Krivner and he assumed that the other two Astartes were also dead, their corpses still inside the plane. A great deal of firing was occurring up ahead, telling him that the other arvus had at least made it to the ground.

Tyme started running, hurtling himself through the jungle, vines and bushes snapping against his war plate. A thick carpet of corpses coated the under levels, a mix of foul greenskins and Imperial Guard troops in the heavy warplate of the Jessian Bone Guard, each a relic of the day’s fighting. Whether xenos or human, each corpse was coated in a shimmering carpet of scavenging insects and vermin. Snatches from the comm net started to flicker into his ears as he neared the gun fire.

‘Belisar, focus fire on the higher ground. Tensan, a grenade into the left.’

‘This is Tyme, Captain Gwain,’ said the Fire Beast, ‘moving to your location.’

‘Glad to hear you are alive Blackshield,’ said the Shadow Wolf, ‘move into the following, the Jessians could use your help.’

There were four survivors from the other ship: Gwain, Tensan, Belisar and Cormorant. Each was a shadowy giant in black war plate, making the heavily built Jessians around them seem like children. Three companies of Jessian’s were strung out in line, retreating by section in good order through the jungle. Half a dozen valkyrie transports, the half battalion’s promised evacuation lay crashed and burning nearby, holed by xenos ground fire. Thousands of savage Orks were swarming towards the thin black line of Imperial soldiery, a green sea spouting cleavers and crude fire arms.

Gwain held the line’s center, his partisan crackling in its coat of plasma. The polearm flashed and lunged as the Shadow Wolf Captain slowly retreated, popping skulls and slitting throats as Gwain killed any ork that came near him with apparent effortlessness. He left a carpet of Ork bodies as he calmly walked backwards.

Tensan and Cormorant held the flanks, the White Scar and Ivory Warrior blasting down any Xenos that tried to out flank the Imperial line with bolters and cutting down any that neared with tulwar or gladius. Belisar held the rear, the Red Lion’s heavy sniper rifle swinging constantly to cut down any alien leader.

11:40

Tyme charged around the crumbling line of Imperial guardsmen, tackling an Ork that was just about to bury its cleaver in Tensan’s skull. The Fire Beast slit the stunned alien’s throat with his combat blade and rose in an instant, firing the bolter one handed to cut another pair of aliens in half with the heavy shells. He backstepped when one of the hulking creatures lunged wildly towards him, letting its snarling chainsword and heavy armor pull it off balance and expose its neck. Tyme buried the gladius in the alien’s stump like neck, nearly decapitating the Ork as the broad blade stabbed home. He emptied the rest of his magazine into the Ork mob, killing or crippling twenty of the berserker monsters.

His intercession let the right flank of the Imperial line fall back into cover, buying the remaining soldiery precious minutes of further life. About two hundred Jessians made it to cover behind a downed red wood, all that remained of nearly a thousand sent into a successful decapitation strike against Waagh Redstomp’s Warboss. The Astartes gained the tree last, Gwain cutting down two more Orks as he leapt backwards onto the tree.

10:55

‘Shellcount,’ demanded the Death Watch Captain, watching the Orks temporarily retreat before a punishing fusillade of Jessian lasfire. Tyme distributed his nearly filled clips amongst the other members of the kill team before slotting one of his remainders into the bolter.

‘Any other survivors from Lander One?’ asked Gwain of Tyme.

‘I can confirm that Gorvun died,’ answered Tyme, ‘I saw his body personally. There was no sign of Arenllas or Krivener there.’

10:03

‘They will come or they’ll be dead,’ said Gwain over the com link, ‘either way it makes no difference. Our supporting gunships are nowhere to be seen and our transport has been downed. Another wave has been sent towards us.’

‘How long?’

‘Ten minutes approximately,’ said the Shadow Wolf.

‘And the Navy?’

‘Are beginning their saturation bombing on schedule, again in ten minutes.’

‘And the enemy shall swarm us in that time, drawn like moths to a flame,’ Tyme said, casting his eye at the monstrous Ork skull hanging from the Shadow Wolf’s belt, a relic of the successful mission against the Waagh’s warboss.

‘It will be a death most glorious,’ said Gwain, sardonically grim, ‘unnecessary and a waste of precious resources. But glorious.’

‘Our mission is successful,’ replied the Fire Beast, ‘any further damage we do merely adds to our honor guard in the afterlife.’

‘You won’t die here Tyme,’ said the Captain, ‘you can’t die until you tell me your Chapter. Keep that secret and you’ll live forever.’

‘It would shame them,’ said Tyme, ‘for me to be linked with them. My sins are too great.’

‘We all have our sins,’ said Gwain, ‘mine has been out living my chapter. But I can earn my repentence here today, just as you will on some distant battlefield. The Shadow Wolves would have been proud to have you die as one of them. When I die here, I will tell my fallen brothers that we fought gloriously together, that we earned our place at the Emperor’s side.’

That Honor Guard boiled up the hillside, a green tide thousands strong. Scores of the xenos went down to bolt rounds and massed las fire, hundreds to the few heavy weapons left to the Guard units. Squads of jet pack mounted storm boys slammed into the line just as the horde reached the apex of the slope, throwing the Imperials into chaos. The carefully ordered fire line devolved into a mob of slashing cleavers and stabbing bayonets, the Jessians selling their lives dearly in the carnage. Tensan lost his sword hand before going down under a mob of orks, detonating his remaining frag grenades as a dozen of the animals piled on top of him. Tyme shot down a half dozen more of the animals before his bolter clicked empty, he smashed the borrowed weapon into the face of an oncoming ork, smashing its fangs int0 powder. He jabbed the blunt muzzle of the weapon into another alien’s throat, letting it choke on its own trachea.

8:37

A cleaver blade lodged in his pauldron and he cut off the green arm attached to it at the shoulder, before crushing the Ork’s nose into its brain with his right fist. He cut a leg off at the knee, popped out an eye with the blade’s razor tip and drove in an alien skull with the pommel. A cleaver came within an inch of his throat and sparks danced off his warplate when a chain axe dragged along his cuirass, leaving a scar that went down to the motivator fibers.

7:50

A burst of hard rounds pattered off his plate, leaving a half dozen further scars across the blessed armor. One of the finger sized bullets slipped through a joint in the armor and pierced his stomach, making the Fire Beast grunt as it imbedded itself in his intestines. A fireteam of Jessians cut the alien down as it reloaded, only to be slaughtered by a gigantic nob that stormed into them in a set of smoking power armor, slashing them to meat with its lightning claws. Tyme ducked under its swipe and drove his blade up to the pommel in the alien’s armpit. Its left hand stabbed downwards into his leg; Tyme could smell his flesh cooking around the two talons embedded in his hamstrings.

7:10

Gwain was singing, a wordless dirge that was half tribal death song and half chapter war chant. A tidal wave of blood poured down the front of his ravaged armor from the score of slugs lodged in his body. His left leg had given out and the Death Watch Captain knelt upon the massive tree trunk, lashing out with his partisan at any xenos who came close. When Tyme reached him there were half a dozen Nobz in their steam powered armor lying dead before him. Gwain had the War Boss’ skull gripped in his off hand and was waving it defiantly before the foe, goading them to come at him.

‘Glorious,’ gasped Gwain, blood misting through his voice grill, ‘tell my Chapter I died as the Lion would have wished.’

6:49

He fell over then, choking on his own clotting blood.

Tyme pulled the Partisan from the Captain’s dying hand, burying its crackling head into a half machine alien twice his weight. He pulled the spear out, drawing a flood of gore out with it and swung the polearm about, cutting another ork in half with the energized blade. Greenskins were all around him, overrunning the Guard position and pulling the human soldiers apart. Tyme could catch no sight of any remaining Astartes. Killing became automatic as an endless, ever changing sea of fanged, leathery faces appeared before him only to be cut down one by one with thrusts and cuts of his polearm. He found himself advancing, charging down the ridge into the endless green tide.

5:01

Ork heavy vehicles were busting their way through the tree line, toppling centuries old giants in their attempts to get to the carnage. The tanks and hybrid warvehicles ground their own troops into paste beneath their barbed tracks and cut down whole companies of alien berserkers with their inaccurate fire. What was left of the ridge exploded as dozens of tank shells and heavy rockets slammed into the hill, sending up a tidal wave of dirt, tree fragments and shattered limbs. Any surviving Jessians surely perish alongside the hundreds of felled Orks.

4:40

The ground shook, even as the bombardment died away. Orks slaughtered one another, caught up in a lunatic blood lust brought about by victory and the denial of close combat with any other foe. Tyme fought like a mad man, cleaver blades and stub rounds constantly snagging his flesh as the Fire Beast wielded his new found spear, felling alien after alien as some gigantic shadow covered the sun.

4:07

Inexorable as the tide it plowed through the jungle, bending and snapping trees at its passing or the lashing of its tail. Larger than a super heavy battle tank it stomped through the clearing, crushing any Orks that failed to get out of its way or snapping them in half with clashes of its gigantic jaws. Mounted on its broad back was a howdah the size of a large house, bristling with the fire power of a baneblade. A squiggoth, largest and foulest creation of the Ork ecosystem bore down upon him, the tides of Orks splitting away from its thunderous footfalls.

3:01

‘Vulkan, hide me in your shadow,’ murmured Tyme, settling his grip upon the spear, ‘let me be the fire that burns the enemies of man.’

2:57

The Navy was early.

Sixty thunderbolt fighters were the first shots of the bombardment, littering ten square miles of jungle with canisters of napalm and white phosphorous while their lighter Lightning counterparts performed over watch. Hundreds of Orks died in that salvo, burned to screaming skeletons by the fire. After the strike fighters came the forty Marauder medium bombers, dropping kilotons of explosive payloads down upon the rainforest, quenching the fires in a storm of shrapnel and shockwaves. Last of all came the Goliaths, six gigantic bombers that each held a single massive plasma bomb in their bellies.

When the plasma bombs went off, the Orks evaporated. Tanks were cast a hundred meters in the air by the shockwave. Tyme’s autosenses cut off the light of the blast as the squiggoth was hurled into him, his mind cutting out as his body becoming tangled in the howdah that pressed down upon him.
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Gaius Marius
 
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