Advent of Salvation (Part 1)

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

Advent of Salvation (Part 1)

Postby Dweese » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:31 pm

(If this is truly awful, crap or anything remotely resembling it, don't hesitate to let me know. I won't grow as a writer otherwise.)

ADVENT OF SALVATION

He winced as he shifted his weight and lowered himself down onto the chair. Letting out a long sigh he folded his hands atop the brass aquilla that topped the wooden shaft of his cane and peered onto the lush landscape that was his family’s garden plot. A smile creased his age wizened, ebony features as the soft breeze laced through his close cropped hair like the delicate fingers of his long deceased wife. As the brilliant, fiery orb of the sun descended towards the horizon, it cast long, golden fingers of light over the white marble statue atop the plinth facing his chair. Centered in the midst of his vibrant, expansive garden, the marble statue which was bathed in the golden rays of the setting sun, cast its glorious shadow over him. His smile broadened as the statues shadow embraced him, almost as an old friend might have. Glancing up he took in the features of the old statue.
Its smooth features and delicate lines belied the fact that it represented someone who, in life, had been hard and to an outside observer even a little cruel. The statue, a sword in one hand and a bolt pistol clutched in the other gazed out over his family’s acreage like a tireless sentinel warding off the darkness.
“I am sorry to disturb your rest my dear, but I had to spend a moment or two away from those bickering children of mine. You would think that marriage would have calmed them down some but…” he shrugged and then looked up into the familiar marble face with a chuckle. “But I suppose that doesn’t interest you now does it? Or maybe it does. Anyway, I’m just glad to be away from them if even only for a moment.”
For a long moment he sat in silence, gazing off into the horizon, not really taking anything in though his mind was rooted firmly to this spot; just from a different time.
“They would have wanted to meet you I think. Of course with your duties that would have been impossible, I know that. But it still would have been nice. If you hadn’t done what you did for me, for all of us, I wouldn’t have to hide from my damned kids now would I?” He asked with a sad smile on his face.
“I hope I’ve done right by your memory, I really hope I have. I was with the task force that struck back; I was there when we annihilated their staging areas. Oh how it was nice to watch them run. Too bad you weren’t there too. The rest of your battalion, well those that were still around after the fight here anyway, they were there. Holy Emperor they were magnificent.”
He stopped, and looked down at the ground. He took one of his hands off of the aquilla atop his cane and patted his left knee with it.
“I’ll always have this to remember the days I spent in uniform by. Can’t walk right anymore, too bad to. I liked farming really, this garden of mine is a nice compromise but even then my grandkids have to do a lot of the work…” he stopped and sighed, shaking his head with a sad smile creasing his features.
“Now look at me, boring you to death I am. My apologies.”
“Grandpa? Who are you talking to?” he turned his head and smiled at his youngest granddaughter. He motioned for her to come closer and he smiled broadly as she sat on the chair next to him, a quizzical expression on her cherubic little face.
“A very old friend Ty’reena. I think you would have liked her.” Ty’reena glanced up at the marble statue and cocked her head.
“That isn’t Grandma is it Grandpa?” he chuckled, using a hand to tussle her hair playfully before he responded.
“No little one, that isn’t Grandma.” With a grunt of effort he placed both hands atop the aquilla and heaved himself up onto his feet and took Ty’reena by the hand. Walking her towards the plinth the statue sat atop of, his granddaughter glanced at the Imperial script etched into the bronze plate set into the base of the plinth. She looked up at her grandfather and waited for an explanation. Inhaling deeply he rested a hand atop the base of the marble plinth and looked up into the near angelic face etched into the marble.
“This Ty’reena was not your Grandma. This little dear was Sister Captain Adventia, of the Adepta Sororitas. She was an Imperial Sister of Battle. And she saved my life.”

75 years ago…

“Let them close to 400 meters then light the bastards up!” The Commissars shout could be heard distinctly over the roar of the approaching rebel vehicles. A wedge of tanks protecting an entire company of APC’s carrying rebel infantry rumbled ever closer. The distant rumble of artillery and tank fire was drowned out by the approaching vehicles, belching exhaust fume into the already smoke and dust hazed air.
“They’re awfully damned close,” the man next to him muttered his grip on his lasrifle’s stock so tight his knuckles were white.
“Closer they are before we open up, the more of them we’ll kill when we do.” Sergeant Benjen Odili responded. The trooper next to him let out his breath in a long stream and nodded, gripping his lasrifle ever tighter.
The rebel vehicles churned ever closer, their treads biting into and tearing up what was once vibrantly green fields, leaving long, muddy scars in the wounded soil. Sensing the possibility of enemy behind the natural earth embankment Sergeant Odili’s battalion was waiting in ambush behind, the lead rebel tanks opened fire with hollow booms and gunned their engines to accelerate over the earthen berm. The shells impacted around the Sergeant and the troopers surrounding him, shooting fountains of fire, smoke and dirt into the air. One of the men in his squad cried out as a shell fragment sliced open his right thigh, arterial blood spraying over the man next to him. The tanks loaders reloaded frantically, slamming home another round into the breaches of their cannons, and their tanks crossed the imaginary line in the grass that the Commissar had marked out.
“FIRE!”
Three auto cannons thumped to life, sending armor piercing shells streaking towards the oncoming rebel vehicles. The roar and flame of a missile launchers backwash filled the air as several reservist Guardsmen sent their missiles streaking towards the wedge of rebel of tanks. Impacts hammered against the front glacis’ of the rebel tanks. One slew violently to the right as a shell penetrated just above the drivers cupola, taking the drivers head off in a wash of gore and passing through the bowels of the tank, clipping off the legs of the gunner and the loader. The tank veered into and smashed into the tank to its right with a mighty crash of metal on metal, stopping both vehicles with a resounding bang of impact. Missiles lanced towards their targets, warheads detonating against thick armor plates, sending flaming shrapnel and debris out in a flowering like pattern. One of the rebel tanks burst apart at the seams in a massive explosion as an auto cannon shell hit the precise spot that a missile had detonated against. The shell pierced the turret and ricocheted around the inside of the tank, spreading molten metal and lethally sharp shards of broken armor plate around the inside of the metal hull. The molten fragments ignited the shell held in the now severed arms of the rebel loader; setting off a near instantaneous chain reaction as the loader had forgotten to slide shut the ammunitions door. The rending explosion scattered fiery chunks of the tank across the chaotic battlefield, raining down upon the rebels and Imperial reservists alike in a cascade of meteor like debris.
The rebel APC’s, seeing their covering armor being, quite literally, shot to pieces in front of them, began to break formation and peel off to either flank of the surviving tanks. This exposed them as targets, but their drivers were banking on the hope that the ambushers would be focusing on the heavier tanks. That was precisely what the Commissar shouted out to his battalion; ignore the APC’s and focus on the tanks. Sergeant Odili gazed out into the field beyond the embankment and watched as the rebel tanks, several of them now burning hulks, continued to race towards the embankment. One fired its cannon less than a hundred meters from his position, the explosion knocking the wind out of him as its blast wave smacked into him, and then the driver of the rebel tank redlined his engine as it charged directly towards Odili’s spot.
“Emperor save me!” One of the men in his squad screamed, dropping his lasrifle and tearing off to whatever safety he could find. Odili cursed under his breath and shouted at the fleeing trooper to return to his position. But the rebel tank smashed into the earthen berm, its tracks bit into the earth and with a roar the tank propelled itself up and over the berm, forcing Odili and the rest of his squad to scramble to avoid being ground into paste beneath its spinning treads. The stubber in the tanks turret next to the main cannon opened up, tearing the fleeing reservist to bloody pieces. The tank slammed down into the reverse side of the embankment, its stubber stitching angry fire into the reservists, several of whom were cut down by its fire.
Odili grabbed one of his troopers by the nape of his neck and bodily flung him out of the way as the tank slewed to the right. He turned to look behind him and shouted for a missile launcher. The two man crew raced up and Odili simply pointed at the rebel tank, noticing the heretical symbol painted in unprofessional lines across its armored flank. The reservist holding the launcher, his obsidian face etched into a scowl of fierce concentration, dropped to one knee and brought the tube up onto his shoulder. The second loaded the missile into the back and then flopped to the ground to the man’s right, his lasrifle aimed at the tank. As he flopped down he patted the man with the launcher on the top of his helmet and the man holding the launcher waited till he could see his second flop down next to him through his peripheral vision. He then touched the firing stud and the launcher let loose its messenger of the Emperors wrath. The missile’s launch and the sound of the impact against the side of the rebel tanks turret were all but simultaneous. The impact of the missile shot fragments of armor off the inside of the turret and sent them ricocheting around the inside of the turret, killing the gunner and injuring both the commander and the loader.
The tank juddered to a stop and the now panicked crew threw open the hatches and tried to make good their escape. With a volley of lasrifle fire the surviving crew was cut down before they even were able to fully exit their smoldering vehicle.
“Rally back to your damned places!” Odili shouted over the din of battle and counted the members of his squad as they raced to reform their line back along the earthen embankment. He was down three.
The rebel APC’s, making good their cover as the reservist Guardsmen were concentrating on the rebel tanks, made their way over both flanks of the embankment and began to lace the Guardsmen’s lines with autocannon and heavy bolter fire. Odili turned his squad to face the new threat, losing another of his men in the process. He turned to glance at the man, his eyes wide with shock and horror as he stared in terror at the smoking hole punched into his abdomen by a heavy bolter shell, and Odili said a silent prayer to the Emperor for the man. The missile launcher let loose yet again, and one of the APC’s blew apart in a mighty blast, fragments of its hull and the rebel troopers riding within hurled into the air. One by one the rebel APC’s slew around to present their front to the Guardsmen and they lowered their ramps and the rebel infantry poured out, shouting their heretical battle cry.
“Cut them down!” Odili shouted and his squad and all the surviving Guardsmen within earshot responded with gusto. Rebel troopers were thrown backwards, crumpled to the ground, staggered forward before collapsing to the ground while others sank to their knees before pitching forward and expiring. Cries of pain and rage rose up from the rebel ranks and Odili’s heart began to soar, especially as yet another APC was torn to pieces this time by autocannon fire.
Just as his heart rose to a new height, it was crashed back down in despair as another APC crested the rise directly on his squad’s right flank. A quick missile shot tore into the frontal hull of the APC, killing the driver and tearing the front half of the vehicle to pieces. But the rebel troopers in the rear compartment of the vehicle survived the blast and the ramp was lowered and rebel infantry began to lay down a withering fire from the top of the embankment down onto the reservist Guardsmen.
Now it was the turn of the reservist Guardsmen to fall. Benjen shouted for his squad, or what remained of it, to form a firing circle. One of his troopers slammed into him and knocked him to the ground as a rebel tossed a grenade down amongst the flanked guardsmen. A trooper from another squad picked it up to toss it back but it exploded just after leaving his hand, blowing his arm off at the elbow and spreading lethal shrapnel out in a shower, some of which thudded into the man covering Benjen. Benjen heard the man’s grunt of pain and with an effort rolled the man over so he could cover him with his own body. Benjen raised his lascarbine and fired twice at the rebels starting to lunge over the top of the embankment and one of them fell screaming.
“Tank!” One of his surviving troopers screamed frantically at the top of her lungs as a surviving rebel tank crawled slowly over the lip of the embankment. It depressed the muzzle of its cannon enough to dispatch one of the autocannons that couldn’t get turned around in time. Its crew was killed in the explosion and the tank slowly, ominously rumbled down the embankment, dealing death with its coaxial stubber.
“Oh Emperor, if you can hear me, deliver us from this.” Benjen pleaded quietly, snapping off another shot at the oncoming rebel troops, toppling another one, as he stood and lunged at another with his bayonet. The rebel blocked his first lunge and thrusted at Benjen with his own bayonet, Benjen parried that one and was able to knock aside the rebels gun and would have finished him off but the trooper who had taken shrapnel in the back for him had un-holstered his bolt pistol and blew a hole the size of a melon through the rebel troopers abdomen, kicking him backwards into the dirt.
Benjen felt a searing hot pain across his left shoulder and spun to the ground as the impact kicked into him. He shook his head and gritted his teeth against the pain, feeling with his right hand to check to see what the damage was and was grateful to the Emperor to feel that it was only a graze. But as he glanced up at the surrounding rebel troopers and the slowly approaching APC’s he knew that his life and those survivors of his battalion could now be counted in mere minutes at best. Possibly seconds. The man who had used his bolt pistol to exact some revenge on the rebels for his shrapnel wound had pushed himself up to a sitting position and calmly dropped three more rebels before a las shot pierced his helmet and blew out the back of his head killing him instantly. Benjen grimaced at his loss but did his best to make peace with the fact that he was soon to follow the man into death.
“Emperor protect us.” He said loud enough for the survivors nearest him to hear over the din of battle and he calmly pulled himself back onto his feet; determined to die bravely as a man should. He looked to his right and felt his heart hammer inside his chest as the rebel tank ambled closer towards him. Benjen saw the turret began to swing his way and he closed his eyes out of sheer reflex.
A tremendous explosion knocked him and several other troopers to the ground. It was followed by several others as well as the screaming and moaning of stricken and injured soldiers. He raised his head and gaped in astonishment as he saw a brace of missiles streak in from behind their positions and slam into the rebel APC’s. One by one the rebel APC’s were shattered into flaming hulks and Benjen raised himself up to one knee and what he saw next stole his breath from his lungs in amazement.
Five black and crimson Rhino class APC’s came to a shuddering halt and lowered their ramps and with a high pitched shout lithe figures in obsidian and dark red battle armor came pouring out. They carried bolters and vibrant power swords, and there was death in their eyes. They quickly formed a firing line and began to volley into the mass of shocked and stunned rebels as they advanced on them at a trotting pace. Their leader, a tall woman in all black body armor waved a power sword in one hand and a bolt pistol in the other, her mid length black hair streaming in the breeze as she shouted her sisters into battle.
“Emperor bless me I never thought I’d see such a beautiful sight…” The trooper next to him said breathlessly.
Benjen could only nod as he finished picking himself up and grabbed his lascarbine. He motioned for the troopers surrounding him to join in and to pitch in to the now fleeing rebels. Nearly a hundred survivors of his battalion joined him, their own battle cry much deeper and more guttural than that of the Sisters of Battle and it helped to send the rebels on their way. Benjen felt an electric thrill of elation course through him as he leaped onto the lip of the embankment and joined in with his soldiers as they began to pour fire into their fleeing foes. But he found he could not help but watch as the supremely disciplined Sisters of Battle massacred any rebel foolish enough to get within reach of them. Their leader cut down one who turned to face her with her power sword while at the same time she thrust her bolt pistol into the face of another and pulled the trigger, doing so in such a casual manner that she seemed to not even exert any energy at all in doing so. Within moments every rebel who had started the assault was dead and Benjen could finally begin to go to one knee and try to catch his breath.
He looked around him and his heart continued to thud inside his chest as he saw the burning vehicles and broken and splayed bodies littering the landscape that used to be his farmstead. He grunted in amazement at the fiercely burning wreck that was the rebel tank that had made it over the embankment. A grunt of amusement escaped him as he noticed that the Sisters had bracketed their missiles right where the rebel’s insignia had been painted on the tanks flank. Movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention and he turned his head back around and grunted in pain as he struggled back to his feet and came to attention. The leader of the Sisters of Battle contingent approached him, her power sword now sheathed though she still gripped her bolt pistol in her right hand. She seemed completely nonplussed over the carnage and devastation surrounding her.
“We saw you rally your Guardsmen to assist us. My thanks as well as the Emperors for your service. May I have your name sergeant?” She asked her voice far too mellow and soft to fit the image of the brutal killer that the Ecclesiarchy had turned her into. Warrior nuns he remembered his late wife calling them. It was an apt description. After a moment he realized that she was waiting for his reply, her head cocked in what he thought might have been wry amusement. He wiped a stream of sweat off his ebony face and cleared his throat before answering.
“Sergeant Benjen Odili, my Lady, of the Emperors 18th Obrias Reserves.” She nodded in respect and extended her armor gloved hand. He took it and her eyes twinkled in amusement as he marveled at her strength.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance Sergeant Odili, I am Sister Superior Adventia of the Order of the Ebony Chalice. If you do not mind my Sisters and I will take up defensive positions here and form up alongside your reservists. Where is your commanding officer?” Benjen turned to look but was rewarded with a shout from one of his troopers.
“Dead ma’am. Rebel tank got him.”
One of the surviving officers climbed the lip of the embankment and stood next to Benjen.
“Captain Daniel Otunga ma’am. It seems that I am the highest ranking officer left in the 18th Obrias.” Adventia shook his hand as well and informed Otunga that they were to form along with her Sisters along the same defensive line as before. Otunga seemed pleased that someone else was able to take charge as he was clearly out of his element. Benjen swayed a little and realized that his wound was bleeding worse than he had originally feared. He raised his hand much like a school boy would in class and Adventia raised an eyebrow at him.
“Permission to pass out my Lady?” he asked before collapsing face first into the dirt.
Dweese
 
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