Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

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

Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:53 pm

Greetings all.

This is mine and Gaius' collaborative story that we're currently writing, featuring our own Space Marine Chapters; the Fire Beasts, created by Gaius, and the Sons of Thunder created by my good self. I'm posting up what we've done now, and then we'll update it as we write on.

Have fun, folks!



Sons of the Fire

Chapter One: Douglas (Written by Gaius Marius)

‘Battling humans shall be a relief for once,’ Mehmet commented from behind him, ‘after a decade of facing Tyranids.’

Douglas turned with a faint hiss of servos to view his friend, the other Astarte’s armor the powder blue of a Beast Lord instead of the normal dark crimson and deep emerald of a Fire Beast. Mehmet held the fang studded helm in his powerful grip, showing his dark face and the crackling psychic hood that cradled his skull. His force-axe was at his side, resting in its holding ring opposite from the beast skin holster that housed the psyker’s plasma pistol.

‘It pains me to slay those who should be loyal servants of the Emperor, but for once I would rather gun down the rebellious and perfidious than face an endless swarm of chitin,’ the Captain agreed, turning back to face the launch bay of the Shattered Hart. Mehmet walked to his side, his Ceramite boots softly thudding on the strike cruiser’s decking. Before them Tech-Marine Phineas along with a pack of his lobotomized servitors labored upon the pair of Thunderhawk gunships that were to carry Douglas and his command squad to the War Council. The farthest craft was the Anglia, granted to them at Dorsios by the Mechanicum after the successful orbital battle had exterminated the xenos splinter fleet. Nearest to the pair of warriors was Dagon, she was the oldest functioning gunship still left to any of the crusade companies, the only strike craft remaining from home.

‘You have come from the training cages I suppose Mehmet?’ asked the Black, tilting his armored head to see his second, ‘Are our newest Brothers eager to fight their first battle with war plate on their back?’

‘Very eager Lord, as eager as each of us was when we first donned power armor and picked up our bolters,’ answered the Beast Lord, ‘although they leave us with a weakened reconnaissance contingent. I do not like walking into battle with Phineas’ servo-skulls and my limited foresight to guide us.’

‘Having a full six combat squads for once will be a greater benefit,’ stated Douglas, ‘we will draw more scouts when we return to the Loyal Fiend after this last campaign, one last campaign after so many.’

It had been a terrible war, one of the most horrifying in the long annals of the Fire Beasts. Douglas had lead four companies against Leviathan, one small part of the great Astartes contingent that had rallied to fight the extragalactic menace. On a hundred worlds the battle against the Tyranids had raged, the Beasts fighting alongside the Imperial Guard, the Inquisition and Astartes from a hundred other Chapters. So many battle brothers had died that Douglas and his captain’s had decided to recruit from the world’s they fought over, snatching up promising youths as their worlds were devoured. In the void and on the soil of countless doomed worlds, the Beasts had killed so many of the scuttling horrors that they had stopped counting.

But now it was over.

‘It will be good to gaze upon the halls of Loyal Fiend once again,’ agreed Mehmet, ‘even if Jacquefre is still its master.’

‘What occurred between the First Bull and myself is my business,’ commanded the Black, his voice as hard as his crimson eyes, ‘but still… it will be good to return to the Stonian Sector. We have tarried in the east too long. Had it not been the Inquisition requesting this task, we would even now be joining the other companies in their return.’

War against the devourer had seen the Imperium’s Eastern flank greatly weakened. Greedy eyes had seen this weakness; tiny, insignificant empires like the Tau were gaining new worlds via conquest and assimilation. But worst of all were those planets that merely went over to the Xenos, meekly submitting or even seeking the embrace of the alien. Such treason had to be halted before it spread and the Inquisition had already designated the next world that was planning to go over the so called ‘Greater Good.’

‘This world, this pitiful little globe we draw towards,’ said Douglas, ‘it keeps us from our return. Were my mind capable of allowing it, I would pity them.’
…..

Dagon’s ramped lowered with a pneumatic sigh, the interior lighting of the Navy cruiser falling upon 2nd Company’s Command squad. Captain Douglas led the way out, his artificer armor as pitch black as the two handed blade magna-locked to his back. Around his neck hung the Heart of Vulkan, the adamantine casket heavy on its chain. Mehmet was behind him, the taller Beast’s psychic hood ablaze with warp energy. At their backs was Phineas, the Tech-Marine’s enormous power ax held in both his hands. A half dozen servo arms hissed and snapped at his back, the artificial limbs moving like they had a mind of their own. Each of the officers had doffed their helms, Douglas and Mehmet’s eyes glowed red against their jet skin, while the fleshy portions Phineas showed snowy white.

Douglas took in the launch bay of the Navy ship with a glance. There in the center was the greeting company of the mortals, two dozen officers of the Guard and Navy. The Admiral was easy to discern, a thin man with a grey mustache in a white uniform heavy with gold braid. His knowledge of the many and varied uniforms of the different Guard regiments was not absolute, but he assumed the short, red faced man with the most medals on his green uniform was General Krenas.

And there on the left stood tall figures clad in power armor of White and Gold. They were his brothers in Vulkan, the Sons of Thunder.
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:54 pm

Chapter 2: Sons of Polyphemus (by me)

From the orbital docks of great Polyphemus had the ship and its escorts come to this place. Through nearly a dozen campaigns it had travelled, crushing the mutant, the xenos and the heretic with its great guns and batteries, and its cargo. For, despite its awesome power, augmented further by the four escorts that flanked its shining white and gold mass, it was what it carried within its great belly that was important.

The Sons of Thunder, the Armoured Angels of Polyphemus.

Word that it had reached its destination reached the ship’s heart, protected by half a kilometre of armoured plating and gun decks, and, more specifically, the ears of the Brother Captain Almorris, the ship’s commander.

“Our location?” was his first question, and when given the answer of three thousand kilometres, his only reply was; “Good. Gather the escorts together and bring us in.”

Invisible vox signals flitted like birds between Almorris’ ship, the Angelum Inritus and its escort craft, and the smaller ships slowly manoeuvred into position around the great strike cruiser before the small fleet powered their engines and set a course toward their target that lay but a few thousand kilometres away; some of the ships painted a dark green and red, the rest a uniform blue, these being navy ships that carried the mortal soldiery that the Sons would be fighting alongside. And the others, of course, belonging to the Fire Beasts.

“We’ve hailed the fleet, my lord,” one of the menials said to Almorris from a console. “They await our arrival.”

“Good,” the brother captain said from the command throne at the centre of the Angelum Inritus, nodding to the menial. “Tell them that we are ready to meet for the war council as soon as they are.”

“Yes, my lord,” the menial said, bowing.

Almorris rose from his command throne, and made his way to the elevator that lead into and out of the Angelum Inritus’ bridge, the bustling crowd of servitors and menials parting before his bulk. The great box rattled as he sent it to the hanger, and he clicked the vox caster within his power armour to active, commanding; “Division Commanders Tobias and Molgrin, Epistolary Ollias and Sternguard Aquilocc, meet me in hangar one.”

The lift rattled downwards to the belly of the ship, where the drop-pod decks and hangars were located, and when its doors rumbled apart the Astartes stepped out into the gunmetal grey corridors of the strike cruiser. A quick walk through the ship’s maze of corridors along a route he had ingrained into his memory from countless journeys like it, and he entered the primary hangar of the Angelum Inritus.

Waiting for him were seven Astartes in full battle plate, the gold of the armour gleaming. As one, the clamped their fists together over their chests and bowed their heads in the traditional salute of the Sons, before the three warriors at the forefront of the group stepped forwards.

“The Forge Priests readied the thunderhawks as soon as we arrived, my lord,” one of them said, his height and aquiline features almost a polar opposite to the stocky marine who had had a nearly three quarters of his skull replaced by bionics that stood next to him. “We are ready to leave as soon as we are in range.”

“Excellent,” Almorris said. “It will be interesting to meet these ‘Fire Beasts’ for the first time.”

“According to what I’ve learned of them, they use some rather interesting tactics,” Ollias said, his armour a deep indigo, marking his rank as a psyker. “Genetically modified predators as war mounts, or something similar.”

“So we fight alongside cavalrymen,” Almorris said. “Interesting. Infantry Commander Molgrin, does the Fourth Infantry stand ready?”

“They are, my lord,” Molgrin said.

“Armour Commander Tobias, what of the Fourth Division?”

“The Forge Priests have completed their maintenance rituals, the munitions and fuel has been blessed, and crew and machine spirit alike are willing to go to war as soon as the command is given,” Tobias said, his voice a grating growl thanks to the vox-speaker that replaced his larynx, the organ ruined thanks to the work of an Orkish power klaw.

“Excellent,” Almorris replied, before barking; “Honour Guard! To the thunderhawk.”

Squad Aquiloc slammed their fists to their chests and turned as one, before marching to the thunderhawk and lining along its sides; they would be the first to disembark, an honour guard. Almorris was next on, followed by his lieutenants, before the ramp of the thunderhawk slid shut. There was a rumble and a whine as its engines power up, and the ship rattled as it raised gently into the air, executing a turn while hovering a few feet above the floor of the hangar, before powering out of the hangar and into the void.

The journey through the vacuum was a short one, and Almorris idly tuned his vox bead through various frequencies through the medium of his black carapace, listening to the radio chatter before he finally found the one the Thunderhawk was transmitting to the Grand Cruiser that was to be the meeting place of the crusade’s commanders. The vox chatter that passed between the craft’s pilots and the immense vessel’s radio operators indicated that their arrival was immenent, and before long Almorris felt a gentle thud through the floor of the Thunderhawk as it landed.

The ramp slid open and Squad Aquiloc marched forth in perfect formation, the ornate gold filigree on their armour and custom made bolters gleaming in the harsh light of the hangar they had landed in. Almorris stepped down from the ramp, through the small corridor of ceramite that Squad Aquiloc had formed, Molgrin, Tobias and Ollias in his wake.

A small party of mortal soldiers had come to greet them, a few veteran soldiers forming an honour guard in parallel to that formed by the men of Brother Sergeant Aquiloc, while the moustachioed man standing at the centre, chest gleaming with racks of medals, stepped forwards and saluted.

“General Krenas, I presume,” Almorris said, returning the gesture with the Sons’ own salute.

“Yes, milord,” Krenas said, dropping his arm. “Might I just say that I am honoured to be working with not one, but two chapters in this campaign.”

“I am glad to hear that,” Almorris said. “Speaking of Beasts, what of them?”

“Your arrival interrupted a training exercise,” Krenas said. “They should be here shortly.”

“Good,” Almorris said. “I’m looking forward to meeting fellow sons of Vulkan, though; fighting beside them should be quite an interesting experience indeed.”
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:55 pm

Chapter 3: Council (by Gaius)

‘Brother-Captain Almorris, it is a pleasure to see another Son of Vulkan after so long alone in the void,’ Douglas greeted, tapping his spiked gauntlet against his chest in the traditional salute. He gestured to his two companions, ‘With me I have brought my Lord of Beasts Epistolary Mehmet and my Tech-Marine Phineas.’

‘Captain Douglas, it is a pleasure.’ the Son of Thunder returned the gesture, ‘We have heard much of the Beasts’ deeds against Leviathan. This is my honor guard squad Aquiloc, consisting of my Infantry Division Commander Molgrin, my Armored Division leader Tobias, Epistolary Ollias and Sternguard Aquiloc.’

Each of the officers saluted in turn as they were named, armored fists tapping against armored chests.

‘And you must be General Krenas of the Thylacine Dragoons?’ Douglas asked the far shorter mortal.

‘Yes Lord Douglas,’ replied the red faced man, ‘we are honored to fight alongside both of your chapters today. The campaign will go down in our regimental history.’

‘You honor us General; we fought alongside a regiment of Thylacines on Korvak against the Chitin hordes. They served with valor and brought much glory to their banners,’ Douglas told the man.

It was a lie. Everyone on Korvak had died, quite horribly in fact. The Thylacines died weeping in pain and shrieking in fear as the limitless Tyranid armies devoured them. Fourth Company was at only forty percent strength when they managed to escape and launch their cyclonic torpedoes onto the planet.

‘If we may Lords,’ said Krenas, ‘there is a war council scheduled and I do not believe this docking bay is the best location for it.’
……

The council room was located deep in the guts of the cruiser, a large oval outfitted with a heavy steel table containing numerous hologram projectors. Astartes, Guard officers and naval staff filled every seat.

‘This is our target, the world of Tharamark,’ stated Admiral Quaritch in bored patrician tones so common to the aristocrats that ran the Imperial Navy. In response to his statement the table projected a 3D image of a globe into the air. The image rotated lazily and was marked with a few locations of note.

‘It has 110% Terran gravity, 67% percent of its surface is water. Its main exports are raw promethium, salt and steel and it imports finished products and foodstuffs. The main feature of note is its climate: of its thirteen month year, nine months are spent in winter. There is no sun for three months and the snows can fall over a hundred feet deep around the inhabitable zone.’

‘Then it is a good thing our tanks have heaters,’ joked Tobias, the Astarte Almorris had introduced as his armored commander.

‘Fortunately for the ground units we will be translating into the system at the start of the autumn,’ replied the Admiral, centuries of selective breeding rendering him unable to recognize a jest, ‘there will be a full sixty two days until the first snows fall. If the weather is normal it will not have rained in forty days, so there will be a minimum of mud to slow our movements.’

‘Enough talk of its temperature,’ the Black Douglas stated, dismissing the climatic concerns with a wave of his hands, ‘what of the defenses of this world? Surely they must be formidable, for two Astartes chapters to be called in alongside the Guard.’

‘Due to the cold, the planet’s population is only two hundred million, most of that clustered in two hive cities and a scattering of smaller holdfasts. A small population yields a small planetary defense force; there are only one million in the active PDF and twice that in the reserves. We believe however, that some of them may be using equipment provided by the Tau xenos.’

‘All the more reason to chastise them further,’ Almorris said, ‘their governor has committed a great sin in allowing such interactions.’

‘As such he is our prime target,’ General Krenas agreed, ‘if we can capture this Governor Hesphalt and make him confess his sins publically, most of the populace and PDF will likely go over to our side. If not… well it will get decidedly dicey. The war might stretch on into a guerilla phase and that would not be good.’

‘Why General, do you fear such a rabble of PDF troopers?’ Quaritch said

‘Not man to man, but we will be greatly outnumbered,’ answered the General, ‘‘My Thylacines are well below what our strength was when we were first founded. We have only twenty thousand men ready to fight and die for Him on Terra, out of the hundred thousand who first took the colors. But that does not mean we are helpless. We have twelve thousand infantrymen with lasgun and flak armor, all of them with access to Chimeras and other armored fighting vehicles. My artillery compliment is over a hundred basilisk self-propelled artillery pieces and thirty hydra anti-air guns. Two hundred tanks are under my command, all Russ variants. All of the Thylacines are well trained and veterans, we can take ten times our number but we will be facing ten times that. If it comes to a war of attrition we shall lose.’

‘It will not come to a war of attrition. If we cannot capture the Governor and pacify the planet immediately, then we smash the planet’s defense force, burn its nobility publically, reduce its populace to serfdom and leave your regiment there as its new governors General,’ Douglas informed him, ‘the Inquisition asked us to make an example of this place, not get sucked into a guerilla war. If the rest of the planets on the Eastern Fringe learn the price of such treachery then our work holding the border will be far easier.’

‘Well said Brother Captain,’ Almorris agreed, ‘Our fellow Sons of Vulkan know well how to deal with traitors. Now tell me Admiral, we have a significant strength in fighting ships. To justify this the enemy must surely have some sort of orbital defenses?’

‘Indeed they do Lord Almorris. Tharamark has thirty defense monitors and three mothballed cruisers it bought from the reserve fleet. None of them are warp capable but they mount a formidable amount of fire power,’ Quaritch explained, ‘Their headquarters is Piedmont’s Anchor, a massive space station where all of their fleet that is not on patrol sits in dock.’

‘Luckily though, we have great strength of our own. Currently, our fleet consists of your two Strike Cruisers with their escorts, made all the more formidable by the presence of the Astartes aboard. My flagship is the Fear Cape, an Overlord class battle cruiser that has served me well for over a century. Further we have the Lunar Class Cruisers Octavian and Domitian with three destroyers each in escort and the Defiant Light Cruiser Repeated Stanza with two falchion destroyers in escorts. There are also a fair number of troop ships and converted merchant men for General Krenas’ men and supplies. We will prevail against the enemy, but it will not be without casualties and will take at least a week of void war.’

‘That is unacceptable Admiral Quaritch,’ Douglas objected to the naval officer, ‘if we fight for a week in the void it will give the enemy far too great a window to prepare defenses. They can arm tens of thousands of militia, activate an extra million men from the reserves, stock up on supplies and most importantly Governor Hesphalt can go to ground. Ending the war quickly depends on him being captured with all haste.’

‘Very well Lord Douglas, but there is nothing we can do to speed our assault save for translating within an AU of the planet,’ Quaritch replied, ‘and I will not risk my ships and men in such a gambit.’

‘There is indeed something we can do Admiral,’ the Fire Beast objected, ‘this Piedmont’s Anchorage, you say it holds most of the enemy fleet?’

‘That is true Captain, but it boasts formidable defenses of its own. It is not quite Ramilies class, but it is a powerful Star Fort in its own right. A long range, and time expensive, Torpedo barrage is our best bet for destroying it whilst avoiding heavy casualties.’

‘Give me one of your merchant ships and a head start into the warp Admiral and I can take that star fort in two hours,’ Douglas claimed, ‘The Beasts excel at boarding actions and this target will be far easier than taking a hive ship.’

‘An excellent idea Captain,’ stated Krenas ‘tell me what strength of Astartes you are bringing with you on the mission?’

‘I have brought six tactical squads, three devastator squads and sixty three lesser beasts to this war,’ Douglas reported to the others, symbols and numbers flashing up into the air as he spoke, ‘everyone of them will be going with me.’

‘I am interested in these ‘lesser beasts’ Captain Douglas,’ Almorris interrupted, ‘exactly what are these animals and how do you use them? Some of my warriors are under the impression they are ridden into battle.’

‘That is not exactly correct,’ Mehmet fielded, ‘even though the beasts are massive their spines could not bear the weight of an Astartes in full battle armor. Nor are they tame enough to be ridden, anyone trying to touch them when a Librarian is not controlling their minds will be blessed if all they lose are their hands. They are unbelievably vicious and will attack anything near them, even and especially other beasts when it is not their breeding season.

‘Then how do you control such monsters?’ Commander Molgrin questioned, ‘They would seem almost as dangerous to you as the enemy.’

‘Psyker based mind control,’ the Librarian answered, ‘our original specimens were a type of canine that was found to be very warp sensitive. Over the millennia we’ve crossed their genes half a hundred times with other species and selectively bred them for size, speed and ferocity. They look nothing like the original wolves, but they have retained this sensitivity. A properly trained Librarian can play a pack of them like an instrument, channeling their rage away from the Beasts and our allies and towards the foe. When it comes to drawing fire or close quarters fighting they are near unmatched.’

‘From your spikes and blades and beasts your company seems formidable at close range, but I cannot help but wonder,’ Almorris spoke, the Son of Thunder’s tone questioning, ‘what of long range fighting? How many pieces of armor do you have?’

‘We have only our Rhino APC’s Captain and of course Ancient Saladin with his plasma cannon,’ Phineas answered, ‘we have long been without access to a forge world capable of producing Astartes grade tanks and are weak in that regard. However, we believe our large spread of plasma weapons and missile launchers will be able to negate any advantage the enemy has with their tanks.’

‘We can make up that deficiency and more,’ said Captain Almorris.
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:56 pm

Chapter 4: Meeting of Minds (by me)

“Our current strength stands at just below a full company,” Almorris said. “We have three tactical squads with attached Rhino APCs or drop pods, dependent on the situation, Assault Squad Haldis have been assigned to us from the Eighth Company, Squad Aquiloc, seven Predators, two Vindicators and my command Baneblade, Bringer of Sanctity.”

“A Baneblade?” Douglas asked. “How in the Emperor’s name did you come to possess a Baneblade?”

“Gifted to us by the Mechanicus,” Almorris said. “The Sons aren’t the most rigid of adherents to the Codex, if you hadn’t yet guessed. Spare us any lectures please; we get enough of those whenever we get stuck with Ultramarines or any of their successor chapters.”

Douglas grinned at this, and nodded.

“That would cover our own lack of armour most adequately,” the Beasts’ techmarine, Phineas said.

“That’s true,” Douglas said. “But tanks, even Baneblades, are not much use in boarding actions.”

“You’re quite correct,” Almorris said. “Which is why I intend, when the time comes to launch your assault on Piedmont’s Anchorage, to accompany you.”

“Thank you for the offer, but we Fire Beasts are quite capable of taking Piedmont’s Anchorage by ourselves,” Douglas said, folding his arms across his chest and glowering slightly at the perceived insult.

“No, no, not on the boarding action,” Almorris said. “At the time you launch your assault, the Sons will make planetfall.”

“Planetfall?” Mehmet said. “How will you do so with Piedmont’s Anchorage still active?”

“Our strike cruiser, Angelum Inritus, has quite a turn of speed,” Almorris said. He pressed something on the console, and the hologram of Tharamark zoomed out to reveal the system as a whole. “Look here; Tharamark is near an asteroid belt. Presuming they’re of a largely ferrous composition, something that I wouldn’t be surprised by considering most asteroids are, Tharamark is essentially surrounded by a naturally occurring radar jammer several hundred million miles across. The Angelum Inritus simply translates to the edges of the system, moves to the edge of the belt and waits for a signal from you, Douglas. We can reach Tharamark in short order.”

“And what then?”

“The Sons make planetfall at the hive with Hesphalt’s palace and launch an assault,” Almorris said. “The crew of Piedmont’s Anchorage will be too tied up dealing with you to be able to summon an effective response.”

“Supposing they have scanners outside of the belt?” Douglas asked. “What do you do then?”

“If they do, we retreat,” Almorris said. “But the chances of them having any are rather low; Tharamark has never before been invaded in its history, and if Hesphalt feared Imperial retribution enough to set up defences, he would most likely have taken the simpler option and severed all connections with the Tau and tried to keep the entire thing quiet.”

“With all due respect, what could that possibly achieve?” Krenas asked. “I don’t doubt your skill as warriors, but there are still far too few of you to hold any ground in a hive city. That’s what we Thycalines are here for, after all. Some ground will have been cleared for our arrival, yes, but we may not get there for some hours after.”

“You’re quite right, general,” Almorris said. “The assault isn’t about capturing ground or clearing landing zones, however. This is about shock and awe.”

“Shock and awe?” Mehmet asked. “What will that do, exactly?”

“Think about it,” Almorris answered. “General, you said that a public confession from a governor would be enough to sway the population away from supporting him, but the Tau have not been present long enough for them to have to strong a hold on people’s minds. An attack from Astartes, from two separate chapters no less, would cause a lot of people to doubt their rulers.”

“Doubt won’t be enough to win us this war,” Douglas said.

“No, it won’t be, but it will help us on our way,” Almorris said. “Not only this, but a strike on Piedmont’s Anchorage will alert Hesphalt that he is under attack, and he might just go into hiding straight away; if he’s already trying to strike a deal with xenos, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a cowardly worm like that. A simultaneous strike, however, will do three things. First, it will throw the Tharamarkian forces into complete disarray, secondly it will cause mass panic and unrest, and third, it gives us what may be our only clear shot at Hesphalt.”

“It sounds rather risky,” Krenas said.

“But it may be the only chance we have,” Douglas said. “Even with orbital blockading, Hesphalt may still have plenty of places to hide, even if he has nowhere to run. If we seize him now, we can avoid great loss of life and time. Even if we don’t, the PDF will be hard pressed to deal with us and keep order at the same time.”

“And if your gambit fails?” Krenas asked.

“Then we cause a great deal of destruction and terror while your men move in to help us finish the work off, and then we take Douglas’ suggested course of crushing the ruling classes and forcing the people into serfdom,” Almorris said. “Don’t forget that we are here to make an example as well. A quick clean war might be good, but the latter option will probably send a stronger message.”

“So you’re willing to fight through the city to get to Hesphalt?” Douglas asked, and Almorris couldn’t help but feel pleased to note that the Fire Beast was looking at him with something approaching respect in his eyes. “If you’re slowed down, you could find yourself pretty stuck in there.”

“Our tanks are notoriously hard to stop,” Tobias said. “Believe me; I’ve commanded them for a century and a half.”

“And don’t forget who’ll be doing the actual fighting, Tobias,” Molgrin said. “You’ll be needing us to get a landing zone and watch your vehicles for you so you can coast along and pretend to do some proper fighting.”

“Oh, I’ll be sure to spare a bunker or two for your heavy weapons, Molgrin,” Tobias said. Molgrin was about to retort before a look from Almorris silenced him; it did the brother captain no good to have his Division and Infantry bickering in front of another chapter.

“I will lead the assault on the landing site,” Almorris said. “And once the Bringer of Sanctity is landed, along with the rest of Tobias’ tanks, we shall launch the assault proper.”

“Standard urban advance formation, I assume,” Tobias asked.

“Correct,” Almorris said. “Any other suggestions on the initial strike, or shall we begin planning on how to execute this war in the long term?”

No other suggestions were forthcoming, and so the planning began.
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:59 pm

Chapter 5: Sneak Attack (by Gaius)

Alomar was not much to look at.

The old merchantman was only a kilometer and a half long, a rowboat by most imperial standards. Its warp drives were old and outdated, putting it at the mercy of the warp’s ever changing currents. A single layer of void shields coated its thin armor, while its sole offensive weapon was a tiny battery of solid slug launchers. So slow were its plasma drives that a whole week passed between the merchant ship exiting the warp in the outer orbitals of Tharamark and arriving at Piedmont’s Anchorage.

‘Please Lord Douglas,’ Admiral Quaritch had begged when the Astartes had selected Alomar, ‘take another ship. Any other, the Dardanelles, Quixus and Mirroket are five times as fast and with thrice the armaments. Alomar is the worst piece of refuse in the Sector Fleet, its barely warp capable anymore and is better suited to hauling potatoes than it is to carry Astartes into battle.’

‘And that is exactly why it is the best ship for this mission Admiral,’ Douglas had answered the mortal, ‘Tharamark will never suspect that such a vessel would be the spear point for an assault on their greatest defense. Place your potatoes on the Shattered Hart, it will happily carry them.’

Now the old ship hove into the system’s inner orbits, nearing Tharamark itself. A skeleton crew of Chapter serfs and Servitors ran the bridge and stoked the engines, while Douglas and his Battle-Brothers trained and prepared in the depths of its hold.

The Captain’s great sword was maglocked to his back and there was a heaven combat knife secured to his thigh plate. His helm was off and both his hands were busy loading fat shells into the magazine of a bolt pistol. The casket of the heart gleamed the silver of polished adamantine on his neck. Both his red eyes were affixed to a holo-screen slave linked to pict-takers on the ship’s bow.

Piedmont’s Anchorage was coming into focus, a vast and ancient structure. The main body was a six kilometer cube of Ceramite and Adamantine, quintuple void shielded and bristling with fire power. Its lance batteries, weapon stations and torpedo tubes could fire in 360 degrees, protecting every avenue of approach. Docking arms stretched out twenty kilometers on either side, long tubes capable of holding a small fleet of merchantmen or warships. A military anchorage sat underneath the station, two dozen monitors and an antediluvian light cruiser snugly at berth.

‘Angelum Inritus has translated Captain,’ Mehmet informed him, the psyker’s eyes glowing blue for a moment as he communed with the Sons of Thunder, ‘they are not detected and await in the asteroid belt.’

‘Excellent Beast Lord,’ replied Douglas, slotting the magazine into his belt, ‘inform our brothers that at least two thirds of the enemy fleet strength is at anchor. The Emperor has delivered a great bounty unto us.’

‘We have a monitor coming in Lord,’ spoke the Serf who ‘captained’ the Alomar, ‘the codes supplied by the Inquisition are holding up.’

‘I would hope so, have they given us a birth?’

‘Indeed Lord, five slots down from the Military Anchorage.’

‘We’ll have to move fast before they can launch,’ cautioned Phineas, the pale tech marine

Douglas buckled on his helm, the eye slits glowing red against his black armor.

‘Trust me brother, we’ll move faster than they can believe.’
…..
Mehmet’s charges sat caged in one of Alomar’s holds, their muscled bulk chained to the deck of the dark and barren chamber. His serfs and assistants moved amongst them, injecting precisely measured stimulants and mind altering drugs into the lesser beasts’ hides. Far too dangerous to be carried awake, the lesser beasts were hauled in a state of suspended animation which the drugs now roused them from.

First the monsters inhaled deeply, their great nostrils flaring open and greedily sucking in a great draught of recycled air. Their hairless, leathery sides strained against the chains that held them prone. Next, amber eyes snapped open, the cruel orbs of gold flecked through with angry red veins. All of them instantly snapped to Mehmet, focusing on the Astarte.

Most of the monsters had horns, steel encased stretches of keratin stretching out over lupine faces. Their fangs were triangular and serrated, great rows of them held in reserve deeper in their mouths, ready to roll forward and replace worn out teeth. Trios of razor sharp talons jutted from their front feet, the ends of long and muscular legs. The largest bulls had great humps of muscle and gristle on their back, strong enough to let them tear through steel and tough enough to stop a bullet. Coal black hooves tipped their rear legs, whilst scraggly tails began to swish as they awoke.

The Beast Lord kneeled before the prone monsters, his sixth sense reaching out to their attuned minds. At first he felt all thirty of them as individuals, thirty sets of eyes and ears all attuned to his being. Mehmet had not only personally selected each member of his war pack, he had literally seen to their breeding. The Astarte had been a part of each monster’s life since before its birth and still they regarded him as prey.

Now Mehmet saw the world through the eyes of the beasts, a world where even the black hold was a rainbow of scents and sights. The gene-bred monsters regarded everything as either food or foe, even and especially the other beasts. Each of them strained at their chains, stretching the steel with their hideous strength.

The Psyker felt their hunger, their rage and hatred at their maker. Beast by beast he crushed it down, curbing each monster to his will. Now he saw through thirty one sets of eyes, separately and as a whole. Each beast was a facet of his will, their minds and desires slaved to his.

‘Serfs,’ the psyker ordered, ‘bring forth the harness and the bolters.’

‘Brother-Captain,’ spoke Mehmet, rising from the ground in a motion curiously slow for an Astartes, ‘the beasts are ready.’

….

‘Beasts we stand on the precipice,’ Douglas intoned to his company, the ninety other Astartes kneeling in cover across the cargo hold. The Captain was almost sure he could feel the Heart beating inside its casket.

‘Once more we go step into Holy Battle, walking into war in the Emperor’s Name,’ the Fire Beast preached, ‘and He will not find us wanting. For years each of us has waged war against the Tyranids, shedding our blood against the Hive Fleets. Now we fight against traitors, xenophiles who would leave the protection of the Emperor’s domain. If they would not have his protection, they will have his Wrath. And we are that wrath personified. We are the Fire Beasts and for the Enemies of Mankind we are Nightmare made manifest. Into this space station we bring the cleansing flame and the purging blade, everything alive in there is heretical. If it moves, kill it.’

‘Many of you are newly elevated to the rank of Full Beast,’ Douglas continued, ‘know that war in full plate is still as dangerous as in carapace, but also know that you are far beyond any of the rebel scum inside Piedmont’s Anchorage. Hit fast, hit hard and move deep inside their guts. Once we have secured them, Tactical squad 6 and First Devastator Squad will hold the entrance to the military anchorages. Whatever you do, prevent their naval crew from entering the ships. All other units shall follow me; we will head through the crew quarters and into the command and gunnery decks. Spare nothing.’

‘Captain,’ one of the serf crew messaged, ‘a boarding party approaches, and I shall have to open the docking doors to them.’

‘Good,’ said Douglas, drawing his bolt pistol.

The great steel doors began to crank aside, old hydraulics hauling them open. Light struck the dark hold, reflecting dully on Ceramite armor. A party of stevedores and servitor longshoremen stood framed in the light, their eyes straining against the darkness. Dull surprised filtered onto the non-lobotomized laborers faces as they comprehended what they saw.

Douglas shot each one of them, the roars of his bolt pistol ringing out so quickly they sounded like one blast. Their devastated bodies hit the ground the same instant his magazine did, another already in his left hand.

‘BEASTS,’ cried Douglas, ‘WITH WRATH!’

He sprang forward, the whole company at his back. Mehmet and the lesser beasts went baying ahead, their animalistic roars echoing through the cargo bay. Other stevedores were caught in the surprise assault, the unarmed laborers going down in a flash of fangs. None of the Astartes felt anything for them.

A locked cargo door held them for the moment it took Douglas to draw his great sword and ignite the blade. Two impacts sliced the steel doors off their hinges and the Beasts were inside the long tunnels that led to the main body of the space station. The passages rang with the thuds of their Ceramite boots, while their bolters and heads scanned for any threat. They moved in stages, one squad covering the next as it leapt forwards. The only resistance was a party of off duty sailors who were torn to shreds by Mehmet’s beasts.

‘Mehmet, I want you and your herd out in front,’ ordered the Captain, ‘keep all your eyes open and let none sound an alarm. First Tactical Squad with me, followed by Second Devastator.’

It was five kilometers to the main body of the station and the Beasts covered it in ten minutes. Douglas noted that posters extolling the virtues of Tharamark’s ancient culture and independence coated the surface.

Soon they reached the entrance, a wide doorway flanked by heavy bolter turrets and guarded by thirty men in black carapace. A cigar dropped from their leader’s mouth as he gaped at the nightmare charging at him.

‘2nd Dev, take the turrets down now,’ barked the Captain.

In response two of the Devastators moved forwards, plasma cannons crackling with pent up energy. White hot bolts swept down the passage, melting the bolter positions down. Another bolt burned a running armsman in half, the dead legs still running a few forwards before toppling to the ground. The armsmen began to respond, bringing up curious looking carbines to their shoulders

A blast hit Douglas in the shoulder and sent heat warning signs flashing in his visor. He snarled in pain and returned fire, the round taking off the foeman’s head. Twice more he fired, exploding armsmen with every shot and then the beasts were amongst them. Flimsy flak armor was no match for their razor claws and soon the whole platoon was down.

Douglas snatched up one of the carbines, holding the weapon to his face. It was different than a standard autorifle or lasgun, the stock more square and integral to the body. The barrel was also angular and flat and there were now bayonet lugs.

‘It is a plasma carbine Captain,’ Tech Marine Phineas spoke, the huge warrior appearing beside him, ‘the Tau have been equipping their new allies well it seems.’

Two mechandrites slipped out from Phineas’ back and seized the rifle; they strained and snapped the energy weapon in half before discarding it.

‘All the more reason to punish the planet Phineas,’ Douglas answered, drawing his sword, ‘2nd Tactical with my command group, we’re going to the command center. 3rd and 4th Tactical are to take the gunnery decks with 2nd Devastator. 5th, 6th and 3rd Dev are to hit the military anchorages. Mehmet, I’m giving the barracks to you and 1st Tactical. It’s time for your beasts to feed.’

…..
Alarms were ringing throughout the station now and there were PDF troopers pouring from every hallway. The Beasts attacked them from every angle, bolters roaring and spiked fists swinging. Douglas’ group fought their way into the command center located in the depths of the station. The hallways grew more ornate as they entered the home of high ranking officers and rich merchants. Oil paintings decorated the black walls and rich leather benches were available for rest.

None of the interior decorations were able to slow the Astartes’ attack one iota. The scores of Armsmen were barely more effective.

Douglas caved in one man’s head with a blow from his gauntlet, and then impaled another with a thrust from his sword. The great blade parted the flak armor and flesh like they weren’t even there and then nearly bisected the man as the Captain withdrew. He slashed and took off a leg, punched and collapsed a chest. He kicked and flattened a face against the wall.

Fourteen battle brothers were with Douglas and each of them slaughtered with abandon. The eleven members of 2nd squad had long sarissa bayonets were clipped to their bolters and the serrated blades ripped and tore through flesh and bone. Firearms roared, sending their mass reactive shells into frail mortal bodies. The PDF troopers resisted fiercely, sending volleys of plasma fire at their foes. Mark VI plate absorbed most of it, but many of the Beasts were bleeding.

Phineas was a whirring dervish of carnage, mechandrites tearing off limbs and popping heads. His great power axe cut men down in packs, while his plasma caster boiled them alive. Sternguard Montrose scythed the enemy with his storm bolter, fat brass shells piling up at his feet. He tossed a grenade into a smoking lounge, immolating a group of officers who were trying to take cover. Apothecary Turmen killed with precise shots of his plasma pistol, whilst his narthecarium purred in readiness to heal or to kill.

Douglas killed a sergeant, his bolt punching through the man’s chest armor to destroy his organs. The man’s death crushed the spirit of his squad and the Captain’s sword carved into them as they broke. Within a moment their bodies were piled at his feet and their blood coated his spiked armor. They were the last resistance in the hallway, the ornate passage now covered in viscera and gore.

‘Is this the door Phineas?’ asked Douglas as he faced the adamantine portal.

‘Yes Lord,’ replied the Tech Marine, ‘the bridge is inside.’

‘Then what are we waiting for?’

Douglas’ sword took the lock with one swing. The hinges followed next and he stood aside as Phineas placed a shaped charge on the portal. With a flick of a switch it blew inwards, shredding a dozen sailors and armsmen.

The Beasts poured in, bolters roaring as they downed targets. A ridiculously mustachioed Rogue Trader clad in hideously expensive and disgustingly decorated power armor sprang at Douglas, a power saber in his hand. The Captain parried without a thought, then swept his blade around to take off an ear. With a shriek the merchant-pirate hopped backwards, left hand going to his head. Douglas used the distraction to take off his foe’s right hand, then his head.

All around him the Beasts were slaughtering Piedmont Anchorage’s highly trained commanders. Chain blades ripped apart commodores, while bolters blasted captains to oblivion. Plasma bolts, from much fiercer and more accurate weapons, ripped into the attacking Astartes. One of his Astartes went down, his head exploded by the fusillade. Another lost an arm and Phineas suffered the loss of a mechandrite.

Like an eye of calm, a Tau ethereal waded into the carnage, tonsured head held high amidst a platoon of Fire Warriors. His highly trained bodyguards poured plasma fire into the invading Space Marines, while the warrior priest raised an honor blade high.

Douglas roared in fury, springing onto the squad of Fire Warriors with his blade ablaze. He slashed off a head, collapsed a throat with a chop of his hand and disemboweled with a blow from his spiked knee. Montrose blasted apart five of the yellow clad warriors, then used his heavy weapon as a club to batter another four dead. Phineas killed three at once with his remaining mechandrites and then impaled another with the spike on his axe.

Within a moment the Fire Warriors were dead and only the Ethereal remained.

‘You profane an Imperial world Xenos,’ Douglas snarled at the Tau, ‘you know the punishment for this.’

‘This world has joined the Greater Good human,’ the Ethereal replied with measured calmness, ‘your corpse god has no authority here. We will protect the populace.’

‘This populace is already dead alien,’ snarled Douglas, fourteen thousand years of hate in his voice, ‘stabilize him Turmen, he will be questioned soon.’

‘You will not take me alive gue’la!’ snapped the Ethereal, raising his honor blade to ritually decapitate himself.

Douglas’ bolter snapped twice and the alien’s hands disintegrated. The Apothecary moved quickly, spraying his wounds with false skin and injected an anesthetic into his blue blood.

The Captain surveyed the carnage. Over a hundred human traitors and twenty tau littered the command bay, their bodies draped across cogitators and holoscreens. But the priceless station was intact, soon its guns would be pounding the defenses of the world below to rubble and once the war was over it would stand in over watch for any further sign of deviancy. Even now Phineas was plugged into its cogitators, battling the place’s machine spirits for control.

‘Lord, there is a problem,’ the Tech Marine stated flatly.

‘What is it Phineas?’ asked Douglas.

‘There is something wrong with the plasma cores Brother Captain,’ said Phineas, ‘I believe they have been rigged to blow.’

‘How long do we have?’

‘Not long,’ said the Tech Marine, unplugging himself from the cogitators.

‘This is Douglas to all Fire Beasts, evacuate now!’
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Colonel Mustard
 
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:00 pm

Chapter 6: Into the Fire (by me)

“Brother captain, I have received word from the Beasts,” Epistolary Ollias called across the bustle of the bridge, eyes still glowing with residual psychic energies. “They have boarded Piedmont’s Anchorage.”

“Excellent,” Almorris said. “All power to the engines and shields, and have the gun crews be ready!”

The orders were transmitted along the five-kilometre vessel in less than a minute, and the bank of great plasma drives mounted at the goliath’s rear flared into life, blue flames hundreds of metres long flaring out. The ship had been lurking at the edge of Tharamark’s asteroid belt for nearly an hour, and now it powered forwards into its midst. Great chunks of rock, some hundreds of metres wide, bounced into its void shields and shattered as the Angelum smashed through with the all the subtly of a battering ram; with Piedmont’s Anchorage in turmoil due thanks to their brothers in the Fire Beasts, the key for the Sons was speed, not stealth.

It cleared the asteroid belt in ten minutes, shields bruised and scraped but still functioning within acceptable parameters, and through the great viewscreen that allowed Almorris to see all that the many sensors set around the ship saw, the green and blue orb of Tharamark swung into view. Piedmont’s Anchorage sat several hundred thousand kilometres away from it, and as it came into view they waited for a moment to see if the station’s great batteries would open up. The station remained silent.

The Angelum drew closer, engines still blazing, and a call came up from several serfs manning sensor arrays of an orbital defense platform.

“Do we have a lock?” Almorris asked.

“We do, my lord,” one of the serfs answered.

“Then fire the bombardment cannon!”

Its deafening roar muted by the vacuum that surrounded the ship, the bombardment cannon fired, a blast of power tearing through the void and into the orbital platform even as its crew desperately scrambled. With no void shields up to protect it, the blast impacted right on the hull of the disc-shaped platform, punching through and detonating the generators that powered it. It tore itself open in a blast of flame, before beginning a stately drift towards the atmosphere.

“We will be at drop height in ten minutes, my lord,” one of the serfs said.

“Good,” Almorris said. “I’m going down.”

He took the service elevator down to the drop bays of the Angelum, in the great belly of the vessel, and stepped into the bay after a short ride. The bay was the usual organised chaos of pre-drop deployment, Astartes rushing to drop pods or clambering into vehicle hatches even as they drove into the carrying claws of Thunderhawk Carriers.

The Bringer of Sanctity was already attached to the belly of one such craft, its engine banks doubled in size to compensate for the three hundred ton weight of the super heavy tank, and Tobias and Molgrin were waiting for him at the entrance to the lift.

“Fourth Division are ready to go, brother captain,” Tobias said as the two commanders saluted.

“As are Fourth Infantry,” Molgrin added.

“Good,” Almorris said. “Molgrin, go with First Tactical; I shall accompany Squad Aquiloc in their pod. Tobias, keep the Bringer safe until she’s landed.”

“You can count on me, brother captain,” Tobias said.

“Emperor protects, brothers,” Almorris said, slamming his fists together across his chest and bowing his head in the Sons’ traditional salute.

The three dispersed, Almorris moving towards the white and golden drop pod with the Gothic letter ‘A’ displayed upon its side. The doors were open as Squad Aquiloc climbed into the harnesses, and Brother Sergeant Aquiloc saluted his brother captain as he approached.

“We stand ready, sir,” he said as Almorris climbed into the seat next to him, the brother captain stowing his power axe and plasma pistol into the clamps on the side next to him for easy reach, Aquiloc doing the same with his ornately decorated storm bolter.

“Good,” Almorris said. “Fourth Infantry, are you ready to go to war?”

A series of vox clicks confirmed this, and Almorris smiled.

“Launch!”

The doors of the pod peeled upwards like the petals of some closing metallic flower, and there was a jolt as it was lowered into the launch cradle. For a moment, it was still, before an impact that Almorris felt rippling through his ceramic-enhanced bones hit the pod and launched it downwards at breakneck speed.

It screamed through the atmosphere, a but one of a small fleet of stars plummeting through the skies of Tharamark. Almorris half expected to hear the clattering of airburst rounds against the hull of the sturdily armoured assault craft, before he remembered that Tharamark weren’t expecting the attack, and word clearly hadn’t reached them from Piedmont’s Anchorage; the Beasts were even more ruthlessly efficient in their assault than he had given them credit for.

There was a shock as the retro-thrusters mounted on the underside of the pod fired, slowing it enough to stop the impact of landing from shattering the bones of the Astartes within. It still slammed into the ground with the force to pulverise anything beneath, and the doors peeled open as the craft activated. Almorris released the clamp as soon as he heard the hiss of the hydraulics in the doors begin to activate, leaning into the doors to grab his weapons, and as they opened fully he left them at a crouching sprint, the hardest possible target he could be.

Lasfire hissed towards them, a few squads of hastily rallied PDF troopers rushed away from the outlying buildings of the hive towards the Astartes. Almorris heard a heavy rattling from above him as the servitor controlled storm bolter fired, and Squad Aquiloc dashed forwards under its covering fire as the shells from the machine’s extended magazines pumped shell after shell into the enemy troopers’ position.

High calibre shells from an autocannon emplacement mounted on top of a watchtower thudded into the ground around Almorris and Squad Aquiloc, some of the rounds thudding off the artificier armour the captain wore and sending him staggering. He flicked the vox in his helmet on with a thought, and was about to send orders to deal with it to the tactical squads before he heard Molgrin’s voice order the same thing. A beam of a lascannon and a pair of rockets streaked towards it, flame blossoming as the building toppled down, crushing the heavy weapon and the crewmen.

There was a roar as, borne aloft on wings of flame, Assault Squad Haldis landed in the midts of the crowd of troopers that were taking cover in the outlying buildings. Even from his distance, Almorris could see Assault Sergeant Haldis laying into the soldiers with his power fist, crushing bodies and shattering bone while screaming chainswords tore them asunder.

“Fourth infantry, advance!” Almorris ordered. “We are the lightning of His wrath! We are the thunder of His hate!”

As one, thirty-five Astartes move forward, First, Second, and Third Tactical advancing alongside Squad Aquiloc, Almorris and Molgrin at their head. Their bolters blazed, waves of fire smashing aside what little resistant the panicked PDF troopers could muster, roaring oaths at the traitorous soldiers.

They reached the outlying buildings, going room to room in each, clearing out those PDF troopers that had managed to escape being ripped asunder by Assault Squad Haldis. Swiftly they moved out of the buildings and into the widely spaced streets of the once-prosperous suburb of the hive that they had landed in. Almorris glanced up at the wide motorway that ran into the main body of the hive, and decided that with the landing zone cleared as it would ever be, it was time to call in the armour.

Molgrin swiftly had the Tactical squads split into combat squads to roam the area and search out any threats while the heavy landers bought their cargo to ground. Within moments, the bulky thunderhawks could be seen dropping from the sky, their gently curving flight path bringing them down to rest on the ground where the drop pods had landed.

Almorris met Tobias’ command predator as he headed towards the Bringer of Sanctity, Tobias saluting him from atop the turret of the vehicle. Next to it stood Forge Priest Telchin, his combat bike idling before it began its task of carrying him to whatever vehicles needed aid.

“Brother captain,” Telchin said as Almorris approached. “I have finished my hacking attempt on the Tharamark communications network. I have both access to their communication and to their loudhailer systems.”

“Good,” Almorris said. “Give me access to the loudhailers.”

“It is channel one-nine-zero-four point three-zero-eight,” Telchin replied. “They will relay whatever you say.”

Almorris mentally flipped the channel to one that Telchin had specified, and spoke.

“Citizens of Tharamark,” his voice boomed across the many emergency loudspeakers positioned around the hive city. “My name is Brother Captain Almorris of the Sons of Thunder chapter. I speak to you now in a grim hour; Governor Hesphalt has been found guilty of treason, and I command one of the two companies coming to war against your planet. Our brother chapter, The Fire Beasts, have landed upon Piedmont’s anchorage and as I speak, are slaughtering all aboard, and we shall show little mercy to any who stand in our way. Hesphalt has been found to be cooperating with a breed of foul, perfidious xenos known as the Tau, an act both treasonous and heretical, and all soldiers under his command have been found guilty of such crimes as well.”

By now, Almorris had reached the Bringer, and clambered into the command cupola of the superheavy, swinging the storm bolter mounted upon its pintle into easy reach.

“The Emperor expects every man, woman and child to do their duty and to aid us as we find Governor Hesphalt to bring him to justice. Take up arms against any soldiers you see and slay them without mercy! In the Emperor’s name, people of Tharamark, we shall not allow your planet to fall to heresy!”

He cut the connection, and changed the channel to the ones the Sons were using.

“Sons of Thunder! Advance!”

With a deep booming of powerful engines, the nine tanks and one superheavy escorted by nearly fifty infantrymen, advanced.

#

“Target at seven o’clock,” Almorris said, activating the targeting laser built into the command gauntlet. “Lasering it now.”

The LED light mounted on the bulky ceramite glove, worn over his own gauntlet, winked green as it found the target, a Leman Russ used by the traitorous PDF, and the servo-skulls slaved to the Baneblade’s systems calculated range and elevation. They fed the numbers straight to the heads-up-display of Gunnery-Brother Loming in his position in the hull, and the Astartes loaded a shell into the demolisher cannon mounted in the hull of the great vehicle. There was a boom as it fired on the servitor supplied trajectory, and Loming’s voice crackled in his ear; “Confirmed kill.”

The wreckage of the destroyed battle tank was shunted aside by the siege-plough of one of Fourth Company’s vindicators as it moved forward to support the Bringer, and Almorris scanned the area for the next threat.

“Move forward!” he ordered, and as one the armour advanced, the infantry fanning around and ahead of the vehicles as they moved along the great highway that would bring them to the hive city’s centre. Almorris could see the governor’s palace high up ahead of him, the air around it shimmering with void shielding, and he resolved to move on it as quickly as possible. Hesphalt would have nowhere to run, the traitorous scum.

So far, resistance had been sparse, knots of a hundred or so infantry or the occasional piece of heavy armour. Tharamark’s commanders were clearly panicking, sent reeling by the suddenness of the Astartes’ assault; had Almorris been in their position, he would have waited and had units consolidate in enough numbers to, at the very least, slow the Astartes down instead of sending them to be slaughtered in ineffectual dribs and drabs. But the enemy generals clearly didn’t have the experience, and Almorris wasn’t going to complain.

The column of armour rumbled around a long, sweeping curve in the road, crushing the abandoned autocars that blocked their route, and halted as they reached what would be their first main obstacle; the great gate that marked the entrance point between the central hive and its outer walls.

Heavy weapons fire met the armour as soon as it came in range, and the Predators drew up as they marked out enemy weapon emplacements on the upper wall, before opening fire with lascannons and autocannons.

“Vindicators, Bringer, forward!” Almorris ordered, before pointing out the weak points of the gate’s structure, where its mass met the actual wall. “Bringer of Sanctity, main cannon on top right target!”

The immense cannon roared in response, it barrel rocking backwards in the turret thanks to the sheer power of the recoil, and the self-propelled shell screamed forwards before detonating on the edifice’s side, denting the metal and ruining its purchase on that part of the wall.

Heavy weapons fire thudded against the heavy front armour of the baneblade or the siege-plough’s of the Vindicators, but it was ineffectual and random, the inexperienced PDF soldiers not knowing where to hit, simply revealing their position on the wall to the predators which would then pick them off.

“Cannon reloaded,” Gunnery-Brother Paxis said, followed by Gunnery-Brother Loming shouting; “Demolisher in range.”

“Main cannon on bottom left target, demolisher on centre of the gate!” Almorris ordered. “Emperor’s Fury, top right corner, Voice of Terra, bottom right corner!”

The great cannons roared, the combined power of the ordnance smashing into the gate. There was a groan of tortured metal as the gates were shaken loose, and they began to topple, nearly one hundred tons of adamantium groaning down, tearing chunks out of the wall with them. The impact of them hitting the ground was felt even through the suspension of the tanks, and the mighty vehicles gunned their great engines and rumbled forwards.

Hasty fortifications had been erected behind the portal, and heavy weapons from the sandbagged positions that hadn’t been crushed by the fall of the gate opened up as soon as the tanks cleared the dust cloud. Their own weapons, be they sponson mounted, upon turrets or recessed into their hulls, blazed into life as they returned fire, and in less than a minute the infantry were among them, flamers and bolters blazing as they cleared the positions.

Lasfire crackled towards them, bouncing off power armour, and there was a rumble of engines as a brigade of Chimeras entered the gate area, their multilasers blazing. Almorris saw a member of Second Tactical cut down as he dashed for cover, the heavy weapons wearing through his power armour, and Almorris shouted the order for the Astartes to turn their attentions upon the armoured personnel carriers. The gunners of the Sons of Thunder knowing the weak points of the vehicles through hours in the hypno-trainers, the Astartes’ return salvo was devastating, half a dozen shots from las or autocannon reducing the vehicles to burning wrecks. Troopers that were swift or fortunate enough to escape the destruction of their vehicles scrambled free only to be cut down by the bolters and heavy weapons of Fourth Infantry, even as the other Chimeras drew up and their passengers disembarked.

Bringer of Purity’s main cannon roared and obliterated a score of infantry and a pair of chimeras with a shell the size of an Astartes, fire and speed shrapnel tearing through the soldiers, while the lascannons on its sponsons picked off another vehicle.

“Forward!” Almorris ordered, and the super heavy rumbled ahead, engines roaring a deep, throaty roar like that of some great armoured god of war. It smashed through the hastily erected barricades that had been cleared by the marines on the ground, sandbags sent scattering by its mass and unstoppable momentum. It impacted one of the few Chimeras that had not yet been torn apart by the Sons’ big guns, the thirty-ton APC crushed beneath the mass of the super heavy that was a good ten times its weight, fire blossoming beneath it and harmlessly scorching the thick, mine-proofed adamantium.

The other tanks followed suit, gunning their engines and roaring over the barricades, great guns blazing, lances of lascannon fire or heavy shells from autocannons slaying those who were left. In less than a minute the armoured charge wiped out what was left, leaving nought but a field of burning vehicles and human corpses.

Something crackled over the vox and Almorris quickly tuned it to try and make sense of the message. Even trying various frequencies, all he heard was garbled nonsense, and what sounded like Douglas’s voice saying; “Piedmont’s Anchorage…Beasts…”

“Say again,” Almorris said. “We aren’t hearing anything.”

“Douglas…Anchorage…rigged…”

“There’s interference on this end,” Almorris said. “Change your frequency.”

“Brother Captain, Beast Lord Mehmet contacted me. The plasma drives of Piedmont’s Anchorage have been set to explode,” Ollias’ voice came in over the vox. “It’s falling towards Tharamark and their techmarine believes it will land on the western side of the city; in our current position, we’ll be caught right in the blast.”

“Understood. All units, retreat to the landing zone, full speed.”

There were calls of protest across the vox, but Almorris ignored them; “Do not question me! All infantry units, ride where you can, we’ll be moving fast. Anybody left in our tracks will not be returned for.”

The Bringer turned and its mighty engines revved to full as marines clung to various handholds on the superheavy. The immense tank thundered away down the war-torn motorway that they had fought on, the column of armour fanning out around it in a V formation; Almorris couldn’t help but feel pleased at the discipline of his men even when in full retreat.

What looked to be a baleful second sun began to glow in the sky as it hurtled closer and closer to Tharamark’s primary hive. Piedmont’s Anchorage fell, gaining speed as it approached the ground in a curving arc. Even from here, Almorris was beginning to make out the shape of the immense station, its major arms and spires ripped off from its great bulk through the frictional forces of atmospheric re-entry and reducing to nothing more than a hulk of metal surrounded by a corona of flame.

“Emperor on Terra, what is that?” Tobias asked over the vox.

“Piedmont’s Anchorage,” Almorris answered as the tanks rumbled on. “The crew set the engines to blow once the Beasts boarded. If we don’t move and get the hive between us and its landing then we’re all dead.”

“I see,” Molgrin said. “Tobias, get us there.”

“What do you think I’m doing?”

A roaring sound began to fill the air, the noise of thousands of tons of metal forcing their way through the sky as they were dragged downwards, and it seemed as if a second sun were forming in the sky. It was getting close, only a mile or so above the ground, and Almorris could see thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands, streaming along the other roads and walkways that allowed people to travel across the city, panicked mobs that crushed themselves against walls or sent people tumbling down in their determination to flee.

It screamed overhead, contrails of fire blazing from its form, so bright that the lenses of his helm had to darken to avoid them blinding the brother captain, and he watched as it screamed overhead, dangerously close to clipping the spire of Hesphalt’s palace.

It hit less than a minute later. For a moment, there was silence, before the shockwave tore through the city, glass exploding and slamming Almorris against the cupola of the Bringer, his vision becoming a fuzz of static. There was a grumble as the tank stalled, and then with a roar its engines restarted.

“Surface is shaky, brother captain,” Gunnery-Brother Paxis said. “Shall we move slower?”

“Aye,” Almorris said, removing his helm, deciding that the machine spirit would need time to gather its wits. With the static obscuring his sight gone, he saw the devastation of the crash; the streets were strewn with broken glass, and the thousands that had tried to flee had been smashed to their feet. Bloodied and battered survivors were pulling themselves to their feet, expressions of dumb shock on their faces as they stumbled about, but Almorris knew many others would not rise. Hesphalt’s palace was unharmed, and he could see the shimmer of void shielding surrounding the building.

“This is consequence of your governor’s cooperation with xenos,” Almorris said, flicking to the loudhailer network and hoping that they were still working, and that if they did, there would still be some to hear his words. “Our just retribution has not ended here.”

He flicked the vox frequency to one which would be heard by the Angelum Imritus.

“Inform the crusade fleet that our attempt to capture Hesphalt has failed,” he said. “We will establish a beachhead and proceed with our secondary plan. Emperor protects.”
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:02 pm

Chapter 6: Flee and Hit (by Gaius)

‘Run! Run! Run!,’ Douglas bellowed at the top of his lungs. He was motioning his Astartes forward with sweeping motions of his arms, the Ceramite limbs sweeping like a gigantic version of traffic arbites. The Captain sprinted along with his men, whole squads moving flat out with no concern for safety or the enemy. The captured tau ethereal was hog tied and hanging over Stern guard Montrose’s shoulder, bouncing along with the veteran Astartes steps.

A panicked armsman bolted in front of the Fire Beast squads, who in turn completely ignored him. The fast moving Astartes soon overran the fleeing man, knocking him to the deck and stomping him to paste with sickeningly wet stomps of their armored boots.

Deck plates shifted beneath the Captain’s feet as the whole station tilted. Corpses, dropped weapons and anything not nailed down began to slide down the sudden slope. The artificial gravity flickered on and off, causing objects to rise off the floor scant inches before slamming back down as the station’s power came momentarily back on.

‘Mag-lock boots on!’ ordered Douglas, mentally commanding his armor to activate the magnetically charged plates located in his soles. Power surged to the electro-magnets and soon the Astartes advanced sounded like a grinding series of gears as their armor’s systems repeatedly activated and deactivated the plates in rhythm with their footsteps.

Lesser soldiers would have certainly become lost in the massive station, but the near photographic memories of the Space Marines served them well. Douglas may not have been the largest Astartes, but his athletic frame allowed him to lead his squads from the front. He deftly maneuvered them through the tunnels and chambers of Piedmont’s Anchorage, avoiding or blitzing through any foes.

‘Captain, this is Sergeant DeCoverly,’ the leader of the 3rd Devastator squad voxed in, the percussive roar of a heavy bolter almost drowning out his words, ‘we are being swarmed down by enemy personnel seeking to get into the warships. I’ve sent the tactical squads away; they might still make it out in time. None shall get past us.’

‘Your sacrifice shall be remembered Sergeant,’ Douglas replied, ‘we will make them pay in your memory.’

‘We go to the Emperor’s side Lord,’ came the Sergeant’s last words, ‘get the heart clear. Lord Vulkan shall have need of it when he returns. I am the Lightning in the Emperor’s hands! I am the Fire in his eyes! He has sent me with his Wrath! Look upon me and despair! Death! Death! Death! Fire and Shadow!’

DeCoverly’s last words were drowned out by the endless roar of his heavy bolter.

The station began to tilt more violently and hideous shudders ran throughout its length. Even with their mag-locked boots it became hard for the Marines’ to stand. Sounds of explosions and entire sections venting atmosphere sounded. Lighting flickered on and off as the power core reached critical and many illuminator bulbs shattered out right in showers of sparks and broken glass.

‘Faster, we’re close to the ship,’ Douglas ordered, the squads pounding after him. Ahead of him was a gaggle of armsmen and station crew, running flat out for any ship or escape pod present. They tried to dart into the hanger that held the Alomar and were messily killed by a burst of bolter shells.

‘Excellent shooting Sergeant,’ Douglas commented as he entered the bay and trotted to the Alomar.

‘You’re welcome Lord,’ replied Sergeant Gastone, standing inside the docking station with the rest of 1st Devastator squad around him, ‘Now that you’re here only 3rd Devastator is still absent. The serfs signal we are ready to depart as soon as they leave.’

‘They’re not coming,’ Douglas informed him bitterly, ‘get this ship off the station now.’

‘You seem to have picked up a pest Captain,’ Beastlord Mehmet spoke, walking up to Douglas as the docking gate came down and Alomar began to strain away from the dying station. He pointed to the Xenos draped across Montrose’s shoulders.

‘I want you to pick his brain Mehmet. Rip his mind open with your wytchsight and bring everything he knows to the open,’ commanded Douglas, ‘The traitors carrying tau weapons is one thing, but the presence of Tau senior leadership is even worse. I fear the traitors’ are moving faster than we anticipated.’

The hum of Alomar’s engines became a loud roar that echoed throughout its body. It ripped away from Piedmont’s Anchorage and dragged a section of the docking bay along with it. Behind it, the massive star port entered the upper atmosphere and began to burn as it fell. The Fire Beasts had almost left it too late in their escape and now Tharamark’s gravity well was trying to kill them surer than any of its human defenders could ever hope to.

Astartes and serfs alike were pressed to the floor by the massive g forces involved as the merchant man attempted to pull away from the planet’s gravity. Douglas clawed his way across the floor and dragged himself upright along the wall. His knees and spike cracked audibly with the pure force of standing.

‘Come on you old bitch,’ he commanded the Alomar , ‘push, damn you push!’

Almost as if it heard him, the roar of the engines faded. The immense pressure relented and the crew found they could move again. Many of the serfs had blacked out with the immense G-forces and needed Astartes to rouse them.

‘Good girl,’ Douglas complimented the ship, patting the side of its armored wall.

‘We’ve broken free of the grav well Lord Douglas,’ one of the serfs voxed, ‘but Piedmont’s anchorage is not so fortunate. It’s falling through the atmosphere as we speak and will impact near Tharamark’s capital. The damage will be horrendous, on the scale of a full bombardment from a strike cruiser at least.’

‘That should compensate for losing the use of the station’s guns at least,’ said Tech-Marine Phineas, always with a keen eye towards fire power, ‘although I would have preferred a more precise attack. It is a pity though, I would have liked to do a full data rip on the Anchorage and learn its secrets.’

‘There’s no use crying over spilled technological relics,’ Douglas interrupted, ‘Have the rest of the fleet translated in yet?’

‘Admiral Quaritch’s flotilla has entered the system Captain and has already engaged with the remnants of the defense fleet. Only a few monitors remain to fight him, the rest were torn apart when the Anchorage fell. His ships and the Thylacines shall be here soon.’

‘Sergeant DeCoverly died well then. Get a vox-line to the Shattered Heart immediately,’ commanded Douglas, ‘I want our cruiser and its strike craft here as soon as possible. Quaritch won’t miss one ship in the fight against that refuse. But the Sons are sure to have taken damage from the impact and the Governor may escape from them in the chaos. We must land as soon as possible.’

…..
Shattered Heart soared towards Alomar on attack run speed, the cruiser moving faster than the old merchantship could ever hope too. A flotilla of Thunderhawk gunships and converted starhawk bombers moved out ahead of it. The transports streaked into the open docking bays, 2nd company standing in the vacuum to meet them. There was no time to allow for the complex interactions of gates and airlocks, not now when time was so short. In the silence of the void the Astartes made their way into the gunships, which didn’t even set down their landing gear so great was the hurry.

‘I’ll be right behind you Captain,’ Mehmet voxed in from an airlocked bay. The lesser beasts he commanded were not as void resistant as their masters and thus required the full panoply of airlocks when being loaded into their specialized transports, ‘As soon as the beasts are loaded into the starhawks we’ll be on our way.’

‘As fast as you can Beast Lord,’ ordered Douglas, ‘the fight calls.’

Sternguard Montrose was voxing instructions to the squads, none of them bothering to sit in the Thunderhawks but standing in readiness for assault.

‘The Serfs have broken out the stores held by 3rd Devastator,’ shouted the Veteran, picking up a plasma gun from the carefully arranged pile of munitions, ‘each squad grab a weapon and ammunition. We will have to make up for DeCoverly’s absence. Use these guns well and make him proud.’

The transports shuddered as it entered the atmosphere, but the Astartes inside were maglocked and ignored it. They had ridden through worse turbulence all too recently.

‘Captain Almorris this is Douglas,’ the Captain voxed, ‘Tell me you and your brothers are alive down there.’

‘The Sons still fight Captain,’ returned the Sons of Thunder commander, ‘what the hell happened up there? Half the city is on fire and we’ve been slowed to a crawl.’

‘The whole station was rigged to blow, we barely got out in time,’ answered Douglas, ‘We’re coming down to support you, where do you want us?’

‘Our area’s a no go for landings,’ explained Almorris, ‘the ground behind us is too rubble strewn to bring a Thunderhawk down in and we’re pressing on the palace now. If you tried to land near us you’d be shot down for sure.’

‘We’ll hit their opposite flank then, cut off any avenue of escape and then move into the palace’ decided the Captain, ‘they’ll be crushed to a pulp between us.’

‘The Emperor Protects,’ ended Almorris and cut off the transmission.

‘He sounds angry,’ observed Phineas, listening in on the conversation with his vast array of implants. He was fitting a new snake-like appendage to the stump of the mechandrite he had lost to the Tau. Douglas noticed it was a plasma gun with some irony.

‘Captain Almorris has reason to be,’ said Douglas, ‘The entire plan is going to the warp. Now let’s see if we can make salvage something worthwhile out of it. Serfs, find us an LZ on the opposite side of the palace from the Sons assault.’

‘There’s a good spot near some major bridges Brother Captain,’ the servile pilot replied, ‘it offers a good avenue of assault.’

‘Excellent,’ replied the Captain, ‘set us down and then stand by to provide air support. We’ll need it to break that wall.

He opened a channel to his squads, ‘Beasts, we have suffered a blow today. But we shall not let the sun set upon us defeated, we shall triumph here today. Charge these bridges, kill any defenders and breach that palace. I want that governor taken alive to answer for his heresies. You are the Beasts, the bearers of the Emperor’s Wrath and Vulkan’s enduring fire. Let the enemy look upon you and be afraid.’

‘WRATH!’ the company of Astartes chanted back at him, the killing lust beginning to fill their veins.

‘Setting us down Captain,’ announced the serf pilot, ‘The Emperor Protects.’

The Astartes poured from their gunships, a lethal mass of Ceramite clad killers. Around them was a scene of complete devastation caused by the fall of Piedmont’s Anchorage. Great swaths of the city were aflame, the fire casting a nightmarish backdrop across the blastscape. No building had escaped damage and nearly all of them were reduced to great piles of rubble. Heaps of human corpses lay scattered across the street, reduced to charcoal by the fire storm. Only the Governor Hesphalt’s Palace had escaped destruction, standing serene behind its multi-layered void shields and thick walls of plassteel.

‘We have our target Beasts,’ growled Douglas, ‘Move forth by squads, Devastators covering.’

The Beasts galloped across the bridges, the damaged spans still standing even though the heat of impact had flash boiled the nearby river to steam. There was something menacing about the Fire Beasts that went beyond their massive guns and purring chainblades, surpassing the hideousness of the skulls engraved in their armor and the spikes that erupted from their arms and helms. It was an air of pure and irreconcilable violence, of unrestrained brutality and wanton carnage. Any mortals who glimpsed the on rushing 2nd company would know deep down that they had sinned horribly and that their unforgiving god had unleashed this pack of demons upon them in retribution.

Douglas and his command squad were in the lead, charging past the blackened ruins of ground cars and transports. The spans abruptly terminated into a built up area that had been partially preserved from the blast by its proximity to the Palace. There were PDF here and although many had been burned to a crisp or flash blinded by the detonation, whole companies of them were still ready to fight.

Hundreds of lasguns began to beat out their familiar ionizing hiss, sending hundreds of cherry red beams darting down range. Heavy weapons squads with autocannons and heavy bolters joined in, blasting away at the squads of Astartes. Massive medusa cannons swiveled around, desperately seeking an enemy that wasn’t already inside their range. Snorting, animal like halftracks and chimeras began to bring up more men. The men of the Tharamark PDF had seen their home destroyed today and were in a vengeful mood. Their fire killed two Fire Beasts and wounded several more.

‘Go to ground!’ bellowed Douglas, ducking behind the shell of a 32-wheeler transport truck, ‘Stay in cover, Devastators and tactical marines prepare to suppress on my mark.’

‘We can push through Captain,’ Montrose said, ducking beside him and snapping off a shot with his plasma gun that melted a tarantula turret.

‘No, not today we won’t,’ the Captain disagreed, ‘we’ve lost too many Beasts already and this campaign is threatening to stretch on. I’m not going to let another Battle-Brother die today, not when we have an alternative.’

Frantic, berserk roars preceded the approach of that alternative. It was a sound that that sent the PDF troopers shivering in terror, their guns wavering and their bowels loosening. Mehmet appeared over another bridge, the Librarian hovering above the ground and encased with bolts of psychic energy. Sprinting behind him was his full pack of beasts, the source of those terrifying roars.

The PDF instantly forgot about the company of Fire Beasts, turning every available weapon onto the herd of monsters that charged them at a speed more usually displayed by vehicles. Each of the beasts was fiendishly tough, the result of centuries of genetic experimentation by the Chapter’s Beast Lords, and wrapped in heavy layers of plasteel. But the mass ranks of lasguns and heavy weapon squads managed to down several of the monsters and it seemed that they would be able to keep the enemy off.

This was when Douglas attacked. Six tactical squads armed with bolters, chainblades and the assorted heavy weapons from 3rd Devastator’s weapons locker slammed into the PDF line. Combined with fire from the two remaining squads of heavy weapon Astartes, the PDF defenses crumbled.

A half track was targeted by a plasma gun, multiple bolts of pure energy slamming into the vehicle. Its armor melted and its crew burnt to ashes before its fuel tank went off and blew the semi-tank apart like rotten fruit. Heavy weapon teams were immolated by gushing jets of promethium from flamers. The men screamed as they died, but their cries were overwhelmed by the laughter of their Astartes killer. Fire Beasts of the line fired in staccatos bursts, .75 caliber bolt shells destroying any man they touched. Long bayonets tore through flesh and flak armor like they were paper, leaving long ropes of intestine to pile on the ground. Spiked gauntlets smashed in faces and tore apart chests with ease.

Douglas and his command squad pounded over a trench line and fell upon a full platoon of infantry. His great sword moved so fast it could hardly be seen; sweeping around bayonets to lop off arms, powering through flak armor to impale hearts and sever spines, making short decapitating sweeps that left men headless. A sergeant tried to punch him with a crackling power fist, but the Heart-Bearer moved around it like water and caved in the non-com’s skull with a pommel strike.

Montrose had his relic plasma gun on his back, not risking the precious weapon in close combat. He tore the PDF troops apart with his bare hands, fists flying as he broke necks and shattered faces. Phineas was beside him, dealing death in every direction. His great axe-wrench crushed men to a pulp or severed them in half with every sweep. Mechandrites lifted soldiers above the ground and then ripped them into pieces. The plasma pistol he had mounted as a replacement limb fired constantly, rendering men to ash.

‘Forth the Heart!’ yelled Douglas, ‘Follow Vulkan’s blood to glory!’

His men roared their approval, redoubling their efforts and downing enemies by the score. Already badly mauled, the PDF troops broke entirely as Mehmet and his beast pack tore into them. The monsters burned men with short bursts of flame from their jaws, eviscerated them with sweeps of their claws or simply ate them alive. Few of the conscripts survived to escape.

‘Today has much improved Captain, early I thought it would be a disappointment’ said Mehmet, his armor covered in blood and his deactivated power axe resting on his shoulder. The ground squelched as he walked across it, so saturated in blood had it become.

‘It is a good start Beast Lord,’ agreed Douglas, wiping bits of brain off his pommel, ‘but it won’t be a good day until we catch that traitor bastard Hesphalt. Signal the serfs to bring in the gunships, I want that wall down.’
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:04 pm

Chapter 7: Merciless (by me)

The PDF were beginning to learn.

Before, they had been coming in dribs and drabs, but now, now that Piedmont’s Anchorage had fallen and annihilated the western half of the city, now that another Company of Astartes had landed, now that Angelum Imritus was accompanied by a second strike cruiser and an entire fleet of ships had translated in system, Tharamark’s commanders had come to their senses. No more were there knots of men or the occasional tank, easily overwhelmed by the Sons’ heavy armour, but instead they were fighting as one, unified force.

Fourth Company had renewed their assault as soon as soon as Telchin had confirmed that the elevated motorway that they were fighting along was still structurally sound enough to support the weight of their tanks, while they learned via the vox network that Douglas was setting the men down in on the opposite flank in a pincer movement. But they had a problem; the gate through which they had already blasted through was now protected by nearly a thousand troopers. All of whom were thirsting for vengeance.

The Bringer of Sanctity and the two vindicators were through first, their weapons blazing as they hurled ordnance towards the foe, while smoke lauchers sent great sheets of white fog up as they covered the advance of the other tanks through the bottleneck. In return, heavy weapons fire streaked towards them with deadly intent, drivers forced to keep moving to avoid it punching past their armour and detonating within.

Molgrin’s men were at a standstill, forced to shelter behind the gate from the sheer volume of firepower, more than capable of penetrating power armour. Only Assault Squad Haldis were moving, their jump pack enabling them to clear the wall and drop down over the enemy’s heads. Almorris could see them from the command cupola of the Bringer, steadily slaughtering their way through sandbagged positions in a welter of violence.

The Bringer’s main cannon fired again as it obliterated a Leman Russ that was taking aim at the Assault Squad, the blast from the self-propelled shell not only gutting that tank but annihilating the infantry squad that were using its great bulk as cover. Lascannon fire lanced towards its side armour, and Almorris heard a shout of pain over the vox as they destroyed the heavy bolters on its sponsons.

Almorris turned the storm bolter upon its pintle towards the threat, even as the lascannon above the great machine guns turned towards the target that presented itself, and opened fire into the team of troopers that manned the heavy weapons, cutting them down and tearing the cannons apart. There was a blast as the oversized las-cells that powered the weapons overloaded, knocking the soldiers to the ground.

“More armour incoming,” Tobias warned from his predator. “Saw them on the Servitor Drones. Two whole companies, Leman Russ variants.”

“Understood,” Almorris said. “Brother Sergeant Haldis, take the anti-air positions on the walls. Clear them all.”

“We go, brother captain,” Haldis voxed back, and Almorris saw streaks of flame flare up from their position as the Assault Marines powered their jump packs, soaring towards the walls.

“All armour, form up on the Bringer, defensive positions.”

Vox clicks confirmed the response, and the tanks began to rumble forwards, their weapons still blazing as they moved. They formed a semi-circle around the Bringer, presenting their stronger front armour to any would-be aggressors, still picking off heavy weapon positions and the few pieces of heavy armour that remained.

A rocket streaked out of nowhere and smashed into the tread of one of the Predators, Light of the Emperor, its weaker rear armour already destroyed by sustained bombardment, and even though its autocannon turned towards the enemy position and opened up, a lascannon beam hit the same weak point. With no armour to stop it, the lascannon tore into the centre of the tank, igniting its fuel or ammunition, perhaps both, and setting it ablaze, fire erupting from its hatches and its sponsons blasting free of the vehicle.

As one, the other tanks turned and had their guns blazing, reducing weapons to nothing in an act of vengeance, before Almorris voxed; “They are avenged. Molgrin, move your men up, help us clear the position.”

“Acknowledged, brother captain.”

“Haldis, how goes clearing the anti-air emplacements?”

“The last one was destroyed just now,” Haldis reported. “The airspace should be clear.”

“Good,” Almorris said. “Angelum Imritus, come in. This is Brother Captain Almorris.”

“Angelum Imritus here,” a vox serf said.

“Are the Thunderhawks prepped for takeoff?”

“They are, my lord.”

“We need immediate air support on our coordinates,” Almorris said. “Get it done. Almorris out.”

“Armour incoming,” the Emperor’s Fury voxed in warning.

“Fire!”

The guns of the tanks opened up as the first Leman Russ MBTs rounded the corner, six abreast. Lascannon beams impacted weak points, concentrated fire turning metal molten and detonating ammunition. The first wave of tanks were destroyed by the salvos of las and autocannon fire, while the Bringer of Sanctity’s great cannons punched through enemy armour.

Yet more Leman Russ rumbled forwards, firing their cannons. Many of the shells, barely having time to aim, blasted into the ground around them, yet several slammed into the heavy armour of the Bringer, its massive size making it an easy target. Almorris snarled as a blast from an Exterminator plasma cannon sent a wave of heat over him as it impacted the Bringer’s thick frontal armour.

“Polyphemus’ Glory, Golden Saint, flank them,” he ordered. “Go for the side armour.”

The two Predators, positioned on the left and the right of the Sons’ main force, rumbled forwards, fanning around the Leman Russ tanks, their autocannons punching into the weaker side armour of the vehicles, destroying yet more of the tanks. Falling for Almorris’ gambit, some of the vehicles turned to face the Predators, only to expose their flanks to the main force of the Sons.

“More incoming,” Haldis warned from his position on the gate.

Almorris cursed.

“Angelum Imritus, we need those Thunderhawks here now!” he ordered as enemy fire stormed around him. “Where are they?”

“They are on their way, my lord,” one of the vox serfs said. “ETA two minutes.”

Almorris saw Golden Saint throw a tread, slewing to a halt. Fortunately, their driver was skilled enough to bring it around facing the enemy, but the enemy armour turned their attentions upon the Predator, ordnance blasting around it.

“Left flank, sweep forwards,” Almorris said. “Pincer movement. Telchin, get to the Saint, repair her as soon as you can.”

Telchin clicked the vox in confirmation, and Almorris saw his bike darting behind the bulk of the advancing tanks, servo arms raised over the vehicle. Flame of Polyphemus and Spear of Terra moved around each flank of the Golden Saint, moving in front of it, protecting the vehicle and Forge Priest with their thick armour and fearsome firepower. Telchin pulled his bike to a halt, communicating with the crew on the vox, and his main servo arms strained as they grabbed the rear of the tank and began to lift. He braced his knees against the rockrete roadway as he did so, raising the corner of the Saint with a supreme effort, swiftly reaching to the tracks with his plasma cutter and hands, sliding a new pin into place over them and welding it into place.

He released the tank, and voxed; “It is repaired.”

“Good,” Almorris said, seeing the Saint rumble away to support the Flame and the Spear, with Telchin mounting his bike once more. He swung round to survey the right flank, where the enemy were pushing forwards against the Predators that were stubbornly holding their ground. “Brother Paxis, on my target.”

The shell Paxis fired soared through the air, impacting the side armour of the Leman Russ that Almorris had lasered out for it, and the enemy tank exploded in a wash of flame and shrapnel as its ammunition was cooked off.

There was a scream from overhead, and Almorris glanced up to see the Thunderhawks from the Angelum arriving, a trio of the fighter craft flying V formation. They soared through the sky at breakneck speed, angled towards the enemy armour with lethal intent. As one, the turbolasers mounted on the back of the gunships fired, beams of crimson cutting through lines of Leman Russ like a scythe through a line of corn. They swept around to face the enemy’s rear armour, flying low and unleashing a salvo of hellstrike missiles into the various target locks. The enemy tanks were blasted apart, and Almorris flicked the vox on; “The way has been cleared. Sons of Thunder, advance!”

Shoving past the wreckage of Leman Russ tanks or crushing it beneath their treads, the tanks of the Sons of Thunder began to rumble forwards, Molgrin’s infantry falling into step behind them. They rounded a corner, picking off heavy weapon emplacements that the enemy had hurriedly placed on the tops of buildings, enhanced sensors picking out their hasty camouflage and blasting them apart with deadly accuracy. Their pace was relentless, the infantry moving at a near sprint to keep up with them, their near-endless stamina allowing them to keep moving with the tanks.

They arrived at the gates of the palace, the highway splitting off into multiple lanes as other routes wound round the immense, void-shielded building. A small army awaited them, sandbagged emplacements and rockrete barriers stretching before the Sons’ force, and heavy weapons fire began to streak towards them.

“Fan out, keep moving forward,” Almorris ordered. “Fire at will!”

Lascannons and autocannons opened fire, tearing apart defensive positions, while heavy bolters on sponsons roared into life, punching through flak armour and shredding bodies. The great cannon on the Bringer opened up, obliterating a swathe of soldiers and fortifications in a great blast wave of fire and shrapnel. The tanks kept advancing further and further forwards, while Molgrin’s infantry opened fire with their bolters as soon as they came into range. Heavy weapons fire streaked towards them, but it was sporadic and panicked, most of it focussed on the Bringer only for it to bounce ineffectually off the super heavy’s thick armour.

The tanks reached their lines, crushing barriers and sandbags under their weight, and into the lines of Tharamark’s infantry, yet still they did not stop. Realising their defences weren’t going to stop the Sons, the front lines began to fall back in panic. Yet the tanks were faster, moving on the enemy infantry in a wave of armour that was terrifying in its sheer relentlessness.

It became less a battle and more a slaughter. The tanks moved through ranks of infantry without mercy, their weapons constantly firing while troopers were pulped and crushed beneath their treads as they tried to flee. Some tried to flee through the gaps between the tanks only to be cut down by sponsons or the bolters of Molgrin’s infantry, while the armour continued to rumble forwards. Five ribbons of flame streaked overhead as Assault Squad Haldis moved among the soldiers, herding them into the path of the Sons’ tanks. Soon, their white and gold front armour was streaked with dark crimson, tread stained with blood. Boots and treads crushed bodies and snapped bones, and the ground became slick with gore. Soldiers on the walls of the palace looked on with horror, powerless behind their void shields, as their comrades were massacred by the cold eyed angels that they went to war against, the sheer merciless, relentless brutality of the Sons shocking to watch. They drew up short of the void shielded walls of the palace, encircling the final few soldiers and cutting them down with a storm of firepower.

“Good work,” Almorris said. “Move into siege formation.”

The tanks moved into position, the Predators forming a protective cordon around the Vindicators and the Bringer. The siege cannons on the tanks opened fire, blasting against the void shields, while the lascannons and autocannons on the Predators opened up, pouring fire onto the shimmering aegis. Almorris barked orders into the vox, and the gunship squadron that had been circling a few miles on the outskirts of the hive swept in, their turbolasers blazing as they slammed into the void shields. They flickered, and another salvo of ordnance hit home, weakening them further.

There was the sound of more Thunderhawk engines coming from the east, and Almorris glanced up to set half a dozen of craft soaring towards their position, their hulls painted deep crimson and dark green, clearly coming to provide support to Douglas’ warriors. He smiled as they trained their turbolasers on the palace’s void shielding and opened fire, the already weakened barrier nearly fading. A final shell was fired from the Bringer, and they were through.

“The walls!” Almorris ordered. “Clear the walls!”

Fire tore up from the assembled tanks as they opened up on the heavy weapons emplacements upon the wall. The main cannon the Bringer roared its fury, smashing into the top of the wall and sending a whole section tumbling down in a slew of rubble, men tumbling with it. At Almorris’ order, the Vindicators turned their demolisher cannons on the wall, heavy shells smashing into rockrete with righteous fury. For a moment, it held against the bombardment, before something the reinforced structure cracked, and an avalance of pulverised stone rumbled down from them, a rough ramp of twisted metal and broken rock forming a route for Sons into the courtyard.

“Douglas, we’ve breached the wall,” Almorris called. “We’ve moving in.”

“Glad to hear it, brother,” Douglas said. “We’re nearly through on the Western side.”

“Have to be quicker than that if you want to be first to take Hesphalt’s head.”

“Hah! We’ll see about that.”

“Ave Imperator, Douglas. Almorris out.”

“Ave Imperator.”

Almorris flicked the vox to the Sons’ own frequency, and gave the order.

“Sons of Thunder, show no mercy!”

With a roar that came from both throats and engines, the Armoured Angels of Polyphemus thundered upwards.
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:05 pm

Chapter 8: Race for the Prize (by Gaius)

‘FIRE!’ yelled Douglas, his claymore gripped in one hand and pointed upwards like some ancient general ordering a musket line. 2nd company’s Devastators and Thunderhawks responded. Missiles collided with the wall, plasma shields strove against it, battle cannon shells from the thunder hawks shook it and hell strike missiles ruptured it. An avalanche of rubble fell from the destroyed wall, leaving a perfect entrance to the Fire Beasts.

‘Lesser beasts in first,’ commanded Douglas, caution in his voice.

The monsters eagerly charged in and the Captain’s caution was rewarded with the sound of heavy gunfire. From further inside the palace heavy weapon emplacements were opening up, killing a few of the huge attack beasts. The Devastator’s responded, blasting open the emplacements with precisely aimed plasma shots.

‘Move fast my Beasts,’ Douglas commanded, ‘get inside the inner walls and the place is ours. None can stand against the Beasts face to face.’

‘Wrath!’ yelled the assembled Astartes, raising their bayoneted bolters above their heads.

With Douglas at its head, Second Company charged.

This end of Hesphalt’s palace was an avenue of wide, perfectly manicured lawns and flower beds. A small fishing pond nestled quietly beneath the shade of a half dozen ancient oak trees, while a herd of expensively bred horses panicked madly in the stalls of a stable. Past the outbuildings, was the cathedral like bulk of the main palace.

The Beasts left all of it a ruin. Their heavy boots drove priceless tulips into the soil and tore the invaluable, manicured lawn to shreds. Most of the horses killed themselves in their panic at the thunder of war and the maddening smell of the feral beasts. A determined, or suicidal, group of PDF troopers tried to fire at the company from the rooftops of the palace’s main building, but they were cut down by bolter fire.

The main entrance in this area was a pair of wooden doors bearing a painstaking engraving of the Emperor’s Ascension. It was a priceless relic that no doubt cost as much as a Leman Russ tank and Douglas hurled himself through it. Inside, the initial lay out was like a dumbbell, a flared entry way connected to an equally shaped inner room by a long narrow corridor. Side rooms branched off along the hallway and squads of PDF had set up a barricade of furniture. They had set up heavy weapons that should have shredded anyone coming through the door.

The wooden shrapnel blinded many of the troopers and Douglas crushed another as his dive ended atop a heavy bolter. His dirk was out in an instant, the razor edged knife ripping open the throat of a Tharamark soldier with such violence the man was practically decapitated. Douglas was moving before the gush of blood stained his jet black armor, his elbow slamming into another trooper’s face. The man’s facial bones caved in with a hideous crunch, the shattered bones tearing into his brain. A tactical squad hit the panicking soldiers, mowing them down with bolter and blade.

Squads of Fire Beasts were pouring into the palace; kicking down doors, breaking through windows and even crashing through the very walls. Their bolters roared on full auto in the close assault, shredding anyone that moved. The long bayonets affixed to the firearms were coated in gore, whilst blood dripped from the Beasts’ spiked armor.

Lasbolts and plasma bursts slapped into the Captain, sending warning runes flaring inside his helm. The lasbolts did little but scorch the paint, but the plasma blasts burned through in places, scorching Douglas’ flesh. Squads of the governor’s personal guard were moving into the disturbance, by their gait and armor Douglas could tell they were far more experienced and well equipped. They were clad in carapace, many had tau plasma carbines and they moved with the covered rush of professionals.

But so were the Fire Beasts.

‘Sergeant Gastone, fusillade pattern eight. Aim high,’ the Fire Beast officer commanded, dropping back behind the collapsed barricade.

Gastone and his Devastators opened up behind Douglas, their feet planted firmly against the massive recoil of their weapons. Heavy bolters poured mass reactive shells down the kill zone of the corridor, turning scores of the soldiers into pulp. Plasma guns boiled men into meat and set secondary fires as their heat ignited decorative tapestries and furniture. To their credit, Hesphalt’s soldiers dropped into cover and returned fire. Their shots were hastily aimed, but they fired on full auto and the Beasts were large targets.

Douglas snarled as a plasma bolt hit his faceplate, frying the circuitry within. He ripped the blinding helm off and locked it to his belt. Beneath the Ceramite his flesh had been badly burned, much of his left cheek had been scorched away, revealing the teeth and jaw beneath it. Worst of all, the Captain’s eye was gone, boiled from its socket.

‘I am angry Sergeant,’ Douglas commented to Gastone, sheathing his dirk and drawing his claymore, ‘and I have a feeling they will not like me when I am angry. Continue placing suppressive fire down that hallway.’

‘But that’s the only route to the foe Lord,’ Gastone replied over the roar of his heavy bolter.

‘I’m going to make a new one,’ Douglas said, igniting his blade.

Tharamark’s architects and masons knew what they were about at least, even if the world’s politicians did not. The wall was a foot and a half of rockrete made from ground up granite and reinforced with steel rebar. It was layered with plaster and gold leaf, glorious tapestries and fantastic works of art.

Douglas’ power sword sliced through it in three cuts. The rough triangle glowed at its edges, but before the stone could resettle the Fire Beast had thrown himself at it. Two of the tactical marines shoved with him, pushing over the monolithic block.

‘Move fast and flank hard!’ cried Douglas, sprinting forwards through a deserted dining room, the meal still steaming from the plates.

‘Wrath!’ cried his squad, sprinting up behind. Montrose’s plasma gun fired, blowing open a door in a shower of flame. They emerged behind the Governor’s elite troops, who were too busy trading shots with the Devastators.

At close range the Beasts’ excelled, tearing the far more numerous soldiers apart. Douglas’ blade rose and fell in a blur, taking off limbs and splitting torsos. He shattered a knee with a kick, took off a head with a flick of his wrist. Montrose fired his plasma gun until the barrel glowed white hot, each round melting a PDF trooper into ash. Warning runes flickered along the gun’s side and the Sternguard holstered the relic weapon. Instead, his spiked fists slammed into face after face, popping eyes with the knuckle spikes and shattering skulls with sledge hammer force. The veteran Astartes broke an officer’s hand as the woman reloaded a plasma pistol, and then reached back for a killing blow.

‘Halt,’ Douglas ordered, as his sword impaled the last surviving soldier, ‘bring her to me.’

‘As you say Captain,’ Montrose obeyed with reluctance, his psycho conditioning pushing against his primal urge to butcher, ‘although I cannot see why.’

‘The gold braid on her uniform,’ explained the Captain, ‘she’s an officer. Or a bell hop.’

Douglas seized the woman by her lapels, bringing her face close to his.

‘Do you see my face?’ asked the Captain, turning his skull so she could see the ruined left half.

‘Y-yes,’ stammered the terrified officer.

‘You won’t look half as pretty coming out of a beast,’ snarled Douglas, ‘which is exactly where you’ll end up if you don’t tell me where Hesphalt is!’
…..
‘I want him alive,’ the Captain ordered as he and his reunited command squad approached the elevator, a hidden structure they would never have found without the testimony of the pdf officer. She had died quickly.

‘The fate of the rest of his retinue is meaningless, but Hesphalt lives. Tharamark shall see his heresy punished.’

‘Exactly how alive Lord?’ asked Phineas, mechandrites writing, ‘The Apothecaries and I can keep a man alive with remarkably little of his physiology remaining.’

‘At least one limb would be good,’ decided Douglas, drawing his sword as he approached the elevator doors.

‘Please Lord,’ said Mehmet, the psyker as gore stained as his charges. His beasts had massacred hundreds of palace defenders and staff, turning the rear areas into an abattoir. Now they were locked into a stone paddock that had originally held animals for Tharamark’s gladiatorial arenas, content with feeding on the original inhabitants for the nonce.

‘Don’t sully your blade on such a trivial task,’ the psyker explained, his eyes glowing blue as he ripped the doors away with a gesture. He tossed the metal aside and then mentally ripped the breaking systems away.

‘Impressive,’ Montrose observed, his storm bolter returned to his hands. The plasma was more deadly in such close quarters, too deadly in fact if the Beasts wanted Hesphalt alive.

‘My consciousness is more focused when I am not connected to my charges,’ Mehmet said, ‘it makes tasks like this easier.’

‘Phineas, toss a melta charges set for impact down the hole,’ Douglas commanded his men, ‘The rest of us wait five seconds and slide down.’

The tech-Marine pulled out an explosive canister from his belt and made slight adjustments to it while muttering the litany of explosives in Binary, ‘Oh Omnissiah, your power and glory runneth over. I taketh your bounty into my hands and give it up to the hated foe. In his death may he realize your power.’

The two bombs fell noiselessly down the tunnel, followed shortly afterwards by the Beasts of Fire. Douglas, his command unit and a handpicked team of tactical marines and devastators slid down the dangling elevator cables, magnets in their gauntlets and boots slowing their descent to reasonable levels. Shortly below them came the roar of the meltabombs, blowing out the lower elevator doors and shredding anyone on the other side.

In a break from the norm, Phineas was the first one down the cable, his denser build causing him greater acceleration. His crimson robe was scorched by residual heat, but the Astartes ignored it. His kind was more inured to pain than even a normal space marine. Implanted autosenses far more finely tuned than even those on an Astartes helmet cut through the blackness, seeing a dozen corpses welded to the floor by the melta blast. The undamaged portions of the corridor were decorated in a different style from the upper palace, simpler and utilitarian with a lack of right angles. It was Tau construction, of that Phineas was sure.

Pitiful ,’ thought the Fire Beast, ‘to abandon the Omnissiah’s embrace for the technology of a species that can’t even make a decent silent alarm.’

‘They know we’re here Captain,’ Phineas reported as the rest of the team rappelled down, ‘although I’ve trigged eighteen other alarms in different areas to throw them off our scent.’

‘The explosion probably gave us away Phineas,’ Douglas reminded the Tech-Marine as he drew his own bolt pistol.

‘Ah,’ responded Phineas, ‘Audio input. I forget about that sometimes. I should warn you though; Captain Almorris is within the lower level as well.’

‘Then we should hurry,’ Douglas said, ‘lest our brother’s rob us of our prize. Hesphalt has the blood of Beasts on his hands and he shall suffer for it at ours.’

The fourteen Astartes moved off down the hallway, scanning for threats as they moved. Most of them used their helmet’s autosenses, but Mehmet utilized the cursed gifts of the psyker and Phineas had all the tools of Mars at his disposal. The Librarian felt the flicker of life force ahead of them in the otherwise lifeless hallway just as the Tech-Marine’s sensors went wild, both giving a shout of warning just as the ambuscade hit.
A cascade of plasma bolts ripped into the Fire Beasts, the life signs of two Astartes instantly going dangerously orange in the display of Douglas’ replacement helm. Rage that two more of his men had died sent the Captain’s cackle’s rising and he emptied the gun into the invisible source of the plasma fire. Three bulky sets of armor crashed to the ground, the delicate and expensive stealth suits trashed by the gunfire.

‘More Tau,’ snarled the Captain.

‘Hesphalt shall burn for this heresy,’ Mehmet spat.

‘If only Chaplain MacCallister were here,’ said Montrose, ‘there’s a Beast who could give this bastard what he deserves.’

Revenge quickening their strides the Astartes charged, they could do nothing for the wounded but leave them for the following apothecaries. Now that he knew what to expect, Mehmet’s psyker senses were fine tuned and he tore two more teams of ambushers into pieces with his telepathic might. Phineas killed a strange disc like contraption that had flittered invisibly through the hall; two of his mechandrites picked it up and began to absent mindedly disassemble it as he ran. Both specialists sensed a group of human foes up ahead, long before the enemy could react.

‘Forth the Heart!’ yelled Douglas, bolt pistol roaring.

‘Follow the blood to glory!’ cried the Fire Beasts, tearing into the enemy with a vengeance.

A dozen of Hesphalt’s inner guard died in an instant, shredded by bolter fire or chain blade. The rocket guns continued to chatter, tearing apart the foe’s comparatively flimsy armor. Mehmet was laughing with the pure joy of the battle, all the while scorching his enemies with electrical bursts. Douglas’ sword crackled crazily with power as he sliced his way across the battlefield, moving through the carnage to his target.

His black armor turned crimson with blood, Douglas kicked open the door to Hesphalt’s inner chamber.
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:07 pm

Chapter 9: Breach and Clear (by me)

The Bringer of Sancticty’s hull was the first thing to clear the lip of the ramp that had once been the wall to Tharamark’s palace. For a moment, it rose higher and higher in the air as its 56-cylinder engines propelled it forwards, its bottom seeming dangerously exposed as it rose into the air. The soldiers of the PDF stared in awe at the goliath that rose before them, stunned by the sheer size of the superheavy, before three hundred tons of adamantium and ordnance slammed downwards with the force to shake the ground.

The cloud of dust its impact threw up was equal to that emitted by any smoke launcher, and immediately the cannon roared, target picked by Almorris before the pall of pulverised rubble sprang up, and the explosion was barely perceptible through the sudden artificial dust storm. Behind him, more tanks crested the ridge, following in the wake of the Bringer, while Molgrin’s infantry stormed forwards, bolters raised and ready to fire.

They broke the cloud with a roar of cannon and bolter, the scream of lascannon, the deep, heavy thud of autocannon. The soldiers who were guarding the palace were cut down in moments, the reaction of the Astartes picking out priority targets with a speed that was almost unconscious. Heavy weapon emplacements were torn apart before their gunners could find a target, special weapons troopers singled out and assassinated. Entire platoons were wiped out by the heavy ordnance of the Bringer or its two Vindicator escorts, while crackling lightning or barrages of fireballs indicated the work of Epistolary Ollias.

In less than a minute, the square that they had entered was cleared, the dead piled high on the side walks. By the looks of things, it was some sort parking area for the palace’s staff, land cars kept in neat rows to one side. Some were burning as the result of the Sons’ attentions, but many were intact, and, fortunately, the armour had room to manoeuvre.

“What are your orders, brother captain?” Molgrin asked, hurrying next to the Bringer’s hull.

“We move into the palace,” Almorris said. “And we find Hesphalt.”

Molgrin nodded.

“Heavy duty breaching charges?” he asked with a grin. Almorris nodded.

“Gunnery brother Paxis,” he said as he vaulted out of the Bringer’s turret. “Make us an entrance.”

The immense barrel of the super heavy turned towards the walls of the palace, a glare from an angered god, and spoke its judgement in a voice that would deafen a mortal man. A great slew of rubble tumbled down, half the wall collapsing downwards, several storeys of the palace torn open for the Sons to see.

“Squad Aquiloc, on me,” Almorris ordered, hefting his power axe and plasma pistol and advancing forwards. “Tobias, in defensive positions. Fourth Infantry, clear this place. Let’s find whatever dank lair Hesphalt lurks in! CHARGE!”

He thundered forward, axe raised, up the ramp of rubble, Fourth Infantry in his wake. A few troopers, no doubt hearing the commotion of the walls collapsing, emerged from the dust and rubble only to be cut down by a hail of bolt shells from the charging Astartes. They crested the rise, storming into hallways and rooms. By the looks of the sparse white décor and the wooden floorboards, they were in the palace’s servant quarters.

“Move downwards,” Almorris ordered. “He’ll be bunkered below the palace.”

The Sons thundered downwards, weapons still blazing, cutting down the few PDF troopers that stood in their way. Their advance was swift, disciplined and merciless, tactical squads breaking down into to fireteams as they advanced through rooms. Anyone in their way, be they civilian or soldier, was cut down by a flurry of bolter shells or the blasts of frag grenades.

Almorris moved at the tip of the spear, smashing through flimsy wood and brick walls with his sheer bulk, bursting in on startled PDF troopers and rending them asunder with swift slices of his axe. Squad Aquiloc were at either flank, their bolters sending high-explosive Hellfire shells across rooms and clearing them with only a few well placed shots. Soldiers died in droves, unprepared for assault from such an angle, and Almorris’s men pushed forwards with alarming speed. They were close, the brother captain could feel it. They just needed to find Hesphalt.

“This is Molgrin!” a voice alerted him on the vox bead. “Brother captain, come in.”

“Almorris here. What’s your situation?”

“We’ve found a way into a cellar,” Molgrin said. “But it’s heavily defended. Suspiciously so. I think we may have found our way to Hesphalt, but the troopers here have barricaded the hallway before it with heavy weapons emplacements, and there’s no way we can get through without being torn to pieces.”

“What’s your plan?”

“I’ve redirected Third Tactical to blast through the eastern wall of the room with their melta,” Molgrin said. “But there’s a skylight overhead. You’re nearest to it; you and squad Aquiloc can jump in right on their heads.”

“Good plan,” Almorris said. “Numbers?”

“Approximately fifty, maybe sixty,” Molgrin said. “We’ve got their big guns pointed at us though; we’ll keep them occupied. Signal when you’re ready and we’ll cover you with smoke.”

“Emperor protects, brother,” Almorris said, before cutting the connection. “Squad Aquiloc, on me!”

They headed upwards, towards the location Molgrin had pointed out. They broke onto a low rooftop, the spire of the palace stretching several hundred metres above them, before noticing the window Molgrin had pointed out. Below him, he could see troopers firing heavy weapons down a corridor, Molgrin no doubt pinned down behind that.

“Down there,” Almorris said to Squad Aquiloc. “Molgrin, I’m there. Throw the smoke.”

A pair of round canisters soared down into the room, white smoke pouring from within in, and Almorris leapt forwards. The glass was no match for his power-armoured weight, and shattered beneath his impact, a storm of razor shards falling with him.

“I AM THE LIGHTNING OF HIS WRATH!” he screamed as he fell.

The servos in his knees whined as they absorbed his impact, tiles cracking beneath his feet, and he found his targets in a moment, autosenses cutting through the smoke with ease. Targets; time to slay.

“I AM THE THUNDER OF HIS HATE!”

He raised his axe and charged into the mass of soldiers before him, slicing left and right, rending bodies asunder with the great weapon while Squad Aquiloc slammed down behind him. Their bolters roared, and there was the sound of heavy footsteps as Molgrin and First Tactical charged forwards.

There was a muffled scream before Almorris’ autosense saw a massive burst of heat blossom on the eastern wall. Third Tactical burst through, bolter fire spraying from their position as they stormed into the room, slaughtering yet more men in the white haze, roaring prayers and oaths.

In just under a minute, the room had been cleared and fifty men slaughtered, torn to pieces by the firepower of the Sons, sliced apart by blades or crushed by mauls and hammers. Almorris looked upon the scene of carnage with an approving smile, before Molgrin gestured to the trapdoor set into the floor of the room.

“He must be down there,” he said.

“Aye,” Almorris said. “Fourth infantry, converge on my position. We’ve found a way into Hesphalt’s bunker.”

Swiftly, Second Tactical and Squad Haldis reached the hallway, Squad Haldis’ jump packs left with the tanks so as not to impede their progress.

“Hesphalt is down there,” Almorris said to the assembled marines. “And we go now to bring him to justice. Brother Imrich, I want you and your flamer to take point. The rest of you, keep to your squads. Standard indoor combat tactics. Be warned; there’s a chance the enemy have Tau issued equipment; this won’t be the trog hunt it’s otherwise been so far.”

The heavy blast door of the cellar’s entrance was sealed shut, and Forge-Priest Telchin stepped forward with his plasma cutter. Blue flame flared around its end, its intensity blinding, and he placed it against the seam of the thick adamantium portal. Gently, he guided it downwards, sparks shimmering from it, and he nodded when he reached bottom. Brother Imrich stepped forwards, aiming his flamer towards the door along with the one on Telchin’s servo harness, and the two great pincers on his harness grabbed at the gap.

There was a straining of servos as they began to prise the door apart, and Telchin groaned with the effort as he pushed against the pistons holding the door in place. For a moment, the door held fast, and Almorris feared they would not get through, before something gave and the Forge Priest wrenched the door apart.

Imrich ducked under Telchin’s flamer as it fired, his own weapon spraying jets of liquid flame across the room. Screams became audible over the sound of flames crackling as the men within burned, their flesh turned liquid and nervous systems seared by the sheer heat, and the stench of scorched flesh rolled out of the room. The flames guttered dry as they burned themselves out, greedily feasting on the promethium that served as their fuel, and Imrich called; “Clear.”

The room, despite being badly scorched, was still relatively intact, a few fire positions serving as cover, and several corridors branching off it. The place seemed to be made of more curved proportions, and the ruin of some sort of drone turret that the Tau so loved smouldered in a corner. Sickening.

“Ollias, Second and Third Tactical, take the left,” Almorris ordered. “Molgrin, Haldis and First tactical, take the right. Aquiloc, Telchin and I shall take the central one.”

A series of vox clicks acknowledged, and swiftly they moved off. Almorris took the lead, Aquiloc in his wake, storming through the corridors. A few soldiers stood to fight against them, raising ochre pulse-carbines, only to be cut down by searing bolts of plasma from Almorris’ pistol. He slammed into the remainder, crushing bodies beneath his weight and slicing with his axe, slaying them in moments, before he looked up for the next target. The corridor was clear, and he gestured for Aquiloc to follow.”

“Molgrin, Ollias,” he voxed. “How do you fare?”

“Some resistance,” Ollias replied. “But not much. Beast-Lord Mehmet contacted me not long ago, saying the Beasts are in; the enemy are probably trying to move against them.”

“Then let’s beat them to the prize,” Almorris said, as he moved into a larger storage room. “Molgrin, move up on my position; we’re close. I can almost smell Hesphal from-”

He was cut off as the floor next to him exploded, a blast of heat and raw force knocking him to the ground. He scrambled away as bolts of azure energy slammed into the ground next to him, scorching his power armour, and he pulled himself to his feet and dodged a second shot of plasma. He glanced over at his opponent, seeing a great machine of somewhat blocky design, at least twice his height. A burst cannon and a plasma rifle were slung beneath its two arms, while a great jump pack vented heat from the weapons as they fired.

“Battlesuit!” he warned Squad Aquiloc as he dashed to cover behind a heavy shelving unit. “Burst cannon and plasma rifle. Take care, brothers.”

Burst cannon fire pattered into the shelves above him as he drew his plasma pistol, and he heard it groan as it buckled beneath weight of firepower slamming into him.

“Cover me,” he ordered, and there was a roar of bolter fire as Squad Aquiloc emerged to distract the xenos device, the Sternguard veterans responding to the threat of the great machine with the implacable fearlessness that Almorris expected of them. They scattered as the suit returned fire, and Almorris broke cover. He fired off a brace of shots with his plasma pistol at the xenos war machine; one went wide, but the other slammed into the arm that held the suit’s burst cannon. Armour melted beneath the impact of the plasma, but the servos and circuitry beneath was relatively unharmed, and the arm turned upon him, even while its plasma rifle kept Squad Aquiloc suppressed.

Bolter fire sparked off its rear, and Almorris saw one of his men, Brother Palmaric, moving to try and flank the battlesuit, hoping his bolter would find a weak point in its armour; the xenos’ protection was tough, Almorris would give it that, easily the equal of power armour.

The battlesuit turned towards Palmaric, and its jetpack flared as it pushed it forwards in a low flight that lifted it only a few feet off the ground. One of the great feet of the machine slammed into Palmaric’s chest, pinning him to the floor, and to the marine’s credit he drew a bolt pistol and emptied it into the chest of the Tau war machine, bolts sparking off its armour. The battlesuit pointed its burst cannon at Palmaric’s head and fired of a long stream of shots, tearing past his helmet and obliterating his skull.

Almorris raised his plasma pistol and fired of another few shots into its back, obliterating its jetpack, and it turned to bring its heavy weapons to bear on him. The brother captain was already moving, steam venting from his pistol, and fire slammed into his feet after him.

There was a deep thump as the grenade launcher mounted on the bottom of Brother-Sergeant Aquiloc’s bolter fired, and a frag grenade crashed into the battlesuit’s chest. Its aim was thrown, and Almorris raised his pistol once more. His shot slammed into the head of the machine, ruining the suite of advanced sensors, blinding the pilot.

It raised its great guns and fired randomly, trying to keep them at bay through sheer volume of firepower, and Almorris slipped round the side while bolt shells from Squad Aquiloc hammered into its armoured form. Still blindfiring, the battlesuit had no way of knowing that Almorris was right next to it until his power axe sliced clean through the spinning barrels of its burst cannon. Steam hissed from the damaged weapon as the emergency protocols went into action to stop it overloading, and the machine clumsily swung its plasma rifle arm at Almorris.

He ducked beneath it, and his return swing severed its arm at the elbow, the weapon clattering across the floor. The battlesuit stumbled at the sudden shift in its weight, and Almorris knocked it to the ground with a hefty kick, sending it lying on its back. He stepped over it, pinning it in place before it could rise, and grabbed a seam his enhanced vision picked out, metal crumpling beneath his grip, before he grabbed and pulled. There was a squeal of protest from the servos as Almorris ripped it free, and looked at the battered, blue-skinned xenos trapped in the pilot harness of his vehicle. Cyan blood leaked from tiny cuts across its body, and it looked at him with fearful eyes.

“Suffer not the xenos to live,” Almorris said in the xenos’ own tongue. He raised his axe like some executioner, and added; “The victory of the Emperor is inevitable.”

It came down and split the xenos chest open, blood sizzling on the blade of the weapon as it boiled away, before Almorris stepped free of the down machine and towards the door on the other side. He slammed into position next to one of the door frames, Aquiloc on the other side, the brother-sergeant’s gauntlet on the heavy handle that would allow it to open. Almorris nodded, and Aquiloc wrenched it down and pushed, before Almorris knocked it open with his shoulder and swept into the room, plasma pistol raised.

“We are the lightning of His wrath!”

“Forth the Heart to glory!”

Plasma pistol pointed at bolt pistol, as Almorris and Douglas faced each other with raised weapons, both with snarls of righteous fury on their faces. In the centre of the room they had broken into a small, grey haired man stood, shivering visibly as he clutched a walking stick.

“Douglas,” Almorris said, lowering is plasma pistol. “We meet.”

“That we do,” Douglas said, mirroring Almorris’ action. “Looks like it’s a draw, then.”

“Imperator Omnipotentis, you look a mess,” Almorris said, seeing Douglas’ ruined face. “The work of Hesphalt’s men?”

“Aye. Pulse rifle round to my helmet. Still, time to claim my prize.”

He stepped forwards, reaching towards Hesphalt, who flinched away from the Astartes and his horrifying visage.

“Hold a moment,” Almorris interjected. “Your prize? If anybody deserves to capture Hesphalt, it’s the Sons.”

“I lost some damn fine men to get to him,” Douglas said. “Look at the wounds I bear, Almorris. Those Beasts must be avenged.”

“The Sons suffered just as badly to get to this worm,” Almorris said. “They cry for justice and for me to take his head!”

“And so you spit on the deaths of my men?” Douglas snarled, jabbing his finger in Almorris’ power armoured chest. “I ought to strike you down for that.”

“Arguing about this will get us nowhere,” another voice added, and Almorris looked over to see the Beasts’ librarian, Mehmet, enter the room. “Douglas, I received a message from General Krenas; the Thylacines have landed are securing the rest of the hive as well as some of the areas outside the city. We can decide what to do with this traitor here; a nice public trial, in front of his people; set an example to what happens to traitors.”

Douglas kept his glare on Almorris a moment longer, the Son of Thunder returning it with equal venom, before he stepped back and said; “You speak sense, Beast Lord.”

“We’ll decide who his executioner shall be at the trial,” Almorris said. “Brother Sergeant Aquiloc?”

“Brother Captain?”

“Detain Hesphalt and bring him to one of the thunderhawks,” Almorris said. “It’s time he faced Imperial justice.”
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Gaius Marius » Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:34 am

Chapter 10:

‘Former-Governor Jerome Hesphalt,’ began General Krenas of the Thylacines from the bench, ‘you stand accused of High Treason, Mass Murder, Resisting the Servants of the Immortal-God Emperor in their Holy Work and Consorting with Xenos most foul. How do you plead?’

The object of his question sat chained to a cast iron chair. Hesphalt had had his straggly hair shaved and his luxurious vermillion robes stripped from him. He now wore the shabby and ill-fitting orange fatigues of a convict and a set of heavy manacles. The former governor attempted to stand but could not, lashed down as he was.

‘I reject the authori-ARRGGGHH!’ Hesphalt collapsed in his chair, limbs shaking from the electronic shocks.

‘I take that as a not guilty plea,’ Krenas interpreted as Commissar Hatch removed his gloved finger from the shock button.

‘Prosecutor,’ Krenas ordered, ‘present your evidence. You have an hour.’
‘As the court orders, but I shall need less’ answered Epistolary Ollias. The Astartes did not rise, for he could stand in his blue armor for hours without tiring. Instead he merely stepped forwards and paced in front of the bench.

General Krenas, as the planet’s new governor, presided over the court. Admiral Quaritch was on his left, the first time the fleet officer had stood planet side in years. The Thylacines’ Commissar Hatch was on the Governor-General’s right, the bulldog like political officer’s finger hovering in anticipation over the button that controlled the electrodes on Hesphalt’s restraints. The audience was made up of high ranking officials and guild heads had been shipped in from Hive Decanus, the surviving major city, in order to witness their former leader’s hideous deeds.

‘This man who stands before us is a foul and debased traitor to all that is holy,’ began the Son of Thunder, ‘He has plotted to give over this planet to that foul breed of Xenos known as the Tau, which would have cast all on this planet into damnation had his plans not been stopped.’

Ollias raised up a data slate that was sheathed in an impermeable plastic evidence bag.

‘Within this slate honored judges reside files detailing all of Hesphalt’s heresies. He responded to inquiries from the Tau water caste about opening diplomatic relations, he failed to capture and execute Tau diplomats landing on Tharamark’s surface, defiling the Emperor’s soil with their xenos’ touch.’

At he spoke, the Fire Beast Tech-Marine Phineas sent detailed copies of each file to the members of the audience and flashed images of Hesphalt meeting with the xenos onto the court’s display screens.

‘Hesphalt accepted bribes from the aliens, selling his soul for cheap xenos-tech trinkets,’ continued Ollias, images of Tau plasma weaponry and agricultural machines flashing upon the holoscreens, ‘Was damnation’s price so cheap former Governor?’

‘I had to,’ declared Hesphalt, ‘we needed to make up for the Tithes!’

‘Ah yes, the tithes,’ said Ollias, ‘the tithes that keep the Imperium’s war machine running. Tithes without which this world would have been destroyed many tithes over. Tell me Hesphalt; tell me people of Tharamark, do you object to the same tithes that allowed the Sons of Thunder and the 8th Crenalt their victory over the greenskins on Nelond? Do you object to the way the Fire Beasts used your tithes to defeat the Great Devourer over Harrispor? Those tithes have saved the lives of countless billions Governor and your rebellion would have costs millions of lives more than it already stole had we not ended it.’

‘I killed no one!’ declared the governor as another burst of electricity from Hatch cut him off.

‘No one?’ the Librarian said rhetorically, ‘Look outside the windows of this palace governor. Tharamark lies in ruins due to your treachery, so great was the damage you caused it the city will in all likelihood have to be abandoned. The Fire Beasts would have captured Piedmont’s Anchorage intact, leaving that technosorcerous marvel in Imperial hands. But instead of guarding Tharamark from orbit, the station lays strewn across this shattered city, atop millions of innocent dead.’

More images flashed on the holoscreens: Piedmont’s Anchorage falling from the sky in flames, the hellscape of Tharamark, long columns of refugees picking their way through the ruble. Hushed sighs of shock swept through the assembled civilians at the sight of the carefully selected images.

Ollias turned to the trio of judges, ‘If it suits your honors, may I call the Fire Beast Tech-Marine Phineas to the witness stand?’

‘You may precede Librarian,’ Krenas told the psyker.

The hulking Tech-Marine hauled himself to the witness stand, finding it too small for his massive surgically altered frame. Instead of sitting the Astartes merely stood by its side, his mechandrites swiveling around the room.

‘Do you swear upon the Divino Leviticus to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?’ Krenas asked the Fire Beast.

‘No,’ refused Phineas, ‘I do not need a symbol of Him to swear upon. I am his symbol, as such any further oath would be redundant.’

‘Very well Astartes,’ the General replied, ‘you may continue Librarian.’

‘Tech-Marine Phineas,’ began Ollias, ‘you were on Piedmont’s Landing during the assault?’

‘Affirmative Librarian,’ replied Phineas, ‘and I was also present during the offensive on Hesphalt’s palace.’

‘And what did you see during these actions?’

‘Tau weaponry brother Librarian,’ answered the Tech-Marine, ‘hundreds and hundreds of examples of Xenostech, ranging from simple communications gear to sophisticated battle suits.’

‘In the hands of the Tau auxiliaries?’

‘No, it was being used by Hesphalt’s personal guard. Hundreds of men and women throwing away the perfect tools forged on Holy Mars and designed by the God-Emperor’s own hand in exchange for foul and hideous alien weaponry. It sickens me.’

More gasps went through the crowd at Phineas’s testimony’.

‘And you were present when the former Governor was captured?’

‘I was present when our Captain’s dragged that rat out of his hide-hole yes.’

‘Tell me, just what was Hesphalt’s final refuge? Was it in an Imperial Chapel? A bunker of the Imperial Guard?’

‘No,’ replied Phineas, ‘it was a Tau designed subterranean complex, guarded directly by Tau fire warriors.’

Screams of rage and accusations of treason swept through the air from the audience, shouting angrily at the cringing former governor.

‘You’re Honor,’ Ollias replied to the Bench, ‘The Prosecution rests.’

…..
The interrogation chamber onboard Shattered Heart had seen shockingly little use over the past few years. This was mainly due to the nature of the Fire Beasts’ foe, for the Tyranid biosphere was by its very nature unknowable. However, the chapter’s serfs and servitors had kept the room sealed and its instruments clean.

Mehmet stood on one side of a solid steel table, his power armor repaired fully after the previous battles. His power axe was at his side and the plasma pistol rested on his hip. Across from him sat the Tau ethereal, clad in the same robes it was captured in.

‘I noticed that I am not chained,’ the alien observed in Gothic, ‘an unusual state for a prisoner’.

‘They are not needed alien,’ replied the Fire Beast, ‘if you could kill me then there is nothing on this ship capable of stopping you.’

‘You are going to kill me, yes Guela?’ asked the Ethereal.

‘Eventually, yes,’ answered Mehmet, ‘but not before I learn from you. We are a brutal chapter, yet we value knowledge. You will tell me much, before the end.’

‘I will resist you Gue’la. My Caste has abilities of its own,’ replied the tau.

‘I can dominate three hundred tons of muscle and madness through an urban warzone while still fighting ten times harder than a mortal man,’ said Mehmet, ‘How long do you think you can stand against that?’

‘I would resist the irresistible if only it meant wasting your time Imperial,’ said the Ethereal

‘This is not a waste Tau,’ explained Mehmet, launching a psychic probe into the alien’s mind. The ethereal jittered under the impact, its body jerking wildly.

‘This is education.’

Mehmet saw things as he ripped through the alien’s mind. Memories of its strange birthworld with its rounded architecture and bizarre robotic drones. Strange battlefields against and alongside species the Imperium had never seen. The alien’s dealings with Hesphalt as the former governor turned to heresy and plotted to give his world away.

And finally, the reason for the Tau’s presence on Tharamark.

An hour after he began, Mehmet turned wearily from the table with a hiss of servos. Behind him he left the Ethereal a lobotomized mess, its brain turned to jello under his psychic assault. A disposal servitor trundled forwards to dispose of the trash in the nearby incinerator.

‘Captain Douglas,’ the Librarian spoke as he reached out to his Captain, ‘The Tau are coming.’
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby 238232 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:38 am

Gaius Marius wrote: ‘Do you swear upon the Divino Leviticus to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?’ Krenas asked the Fire Beast.


There's the Lectitio Divinitatus, is this one a related book or just a mix-up? Good answer to Krenas' question as well.

Gaius Marius wrote:Behind him he left the Ethereal a lobotomized mess, its brain turned to jello under his psychic assault.


In the grim darkness of the future... there is still jello! :lol:
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Mar 19, 2011 9:04 am

Chapter 11: Bad Blood

Douglas and Almorris met in Hesphalt’s council chambers. No council had met since Hesphalt’s capture, and the Astartes stood in the centre of the otherwise empty room, the benches far too small for their inhuman proportions. As well as the two captains, their lieutenants were present, Phineas behind Douglas, Molgrin, Tobias, Telchin and Ollias behind Almorris.

Through the chamber’s great window, the rotund gut of one of the Thylacine’s transport ships could be seen protruding from the clouds, flocks of shuttles unloading thousands of guardsmen and their equipment, while others dropped pre-fabricated buildings such as emplacements and field hospitals. Most of the efforts were humanitarian ones at the moment; Krenas had wisely guessed that most of the Tharamarkians would be grateful for any aid after the damage that Piedmont’s Anchorage had wrought, and unsurprisingly, in the face of two Astartes companies, shattered leadership and twenty thousand veteran guardsmen, the PDF had capitulated. Even so, an example was still being set; there was the crack of las-rifles being fired as those found to have any association with the Tau were led up to execution posts and killed via Thylacine firing squad. No better than the scum deserved.

“Almorris,” Douglas said as he entered the chamber. “What is this you wish to speak of?”

“The fate of a certain worm that we dug out of his hole,” Almorris said. “Hesphalt.”

“Ah, yes,” Douglas said. “What of him?”

“His execution.”

Douglas nodded slowly, before asking; “And no doubt, you want to decide who is to be his executioner. A delicate matter indeed.”

“Hesphalt has wronged us both,” Molgrin said. “Honour must be avenged.”

“And, of course, there is the honour of the Beasts as well as of the Sons,” Douglas replied, a sweep of his hand to his brothers behind him emphasising his point. “We deserve to avenge our brothers just as much as you do.”

“That is true,” Almorris replied. “And, unfortunately, we cannot both execute Hesphalt.”

“So what do you suggest, that we work out some compromise? Some way we can both execute him?”

“I was hoping to do so, yes,” Almorris said. “To work things out civilly.”

A fire flickered in Douglas’ eyes for a moment, rage at Almorris’ veiled insult, before he said carefully; “True. It would be unfortunate if we weren’t, wouldn’t it?”

“The Sons claim the right to kill Hesphalt,” Tobias croaked from the vox caster in his throat. “We lost nine brothers and the Predator Light of the Emperor to Hesphalt’s forces; we must avenge them.”

“Nine of my men were also slain,” Douglas replied. “And I grievously wounded. Besides, of what matter is a tank?”

“The Light had a fine record worthy of any Astartes, saved the lives of many of the Sons’ warriors, and had a courageous machine spirit,” Almorris answered. “We mourn its loss as we would one of our brothers.”

“It is a tank, Almorris,” Douglas replied. “A fine machine spirit it may have had, but it is still just a tank.”

“I’ll let that pass this once,” Almorris said. “But you may as well have said that one of my fallen brothers was just a Space Marine.”

Douglas shook his head.

“Your precious tank aside,” he said. “The Beasts have suffered too. We lost many good men to Hesphalt’s forces. They are equally deserving of vengeance.”

“It seems to me, milords, that you both feel you deserve to execute Hesphalt in equal measure,” another voice said from the edge of the room. “And clearly, neither of you are going to back down over the issue.”

“With all due respect, General Krenas,” Almorris replied as he saw the elderly general, alongside some of his aides, enter the room. “This is a matter for the Sons and the Beasts, and the Sons and the Beasts only.”

“Quite right,” Krenas replied. “So I would be the best neutral party to pass judgement. Otherwise you would most likely just spend the entire day arguing about who has the right.”

“A fair point,” Phineas remarked.

“Will you allow this, brother captains?” Krenas asked.

“Very well,” Almorris said. Douglas simply shrugged.

Krenas took a seat at a particularly large and ostentatious chair at the centre of the hall, no doubt the one where Hesphalt held council. He shifted a little, before harrumphing and muttering; “Clearly Hesphalt lacked a hip as well as a spine. I’m going to need a cushion for this thing.”

He leant back in the chair slightly, before saying; “I call this first meeting of my governorship to order, concerning the issue of the executioner of ex-governor Hesphalt. Commissar Hatch, are you willing to serve as bailiff?”

“Yes sir,” Hatch replied, tapping one of the fingers of his power fist to his chest in salute.

“Very well,” Krenas said. “Would Brother-Captain Almorris please step forward?”

Almorris stepped forward, and couldn’t help notice that Krenas was grinning slightly; clearly the old man was enjoying this.

“Brother-Captain, would you present your case as to why the Sons of Thunder deserve the honour of executing Hesphalt?”

“Very well,” Almorris said. “My first point of argument is the losses that the Sons suffered to reach Hesphalt; as well as having nine of my men slain by the enemy, the Predator Class tank Light of the Emperor was also destroyed, beyond repair. Not only this, but it was the Sons that fought the hardest to reach Hesphalt, for we did not have to deal with just infantry, as the Beasts did, but also large armoured divisions of PDF armour and heavy fortification.”

“The defences that we had to deal with to reach the palace were the equal of any you overcame,” Douglas interjected. “And the storming of the Anchorage was a dangerous venture.”

“What, Astartes against armsmen and stevedores, against a city shattered and stunned by a star fort falling atop it? That’s less a battle and more sport, unless the Beasts are far less capable in combat than I’ve been led to believe,” Almorris replied.

“Oh, we are capable,” Douglas said, voice barely away from a snarl. “More than capable. And at least we don’t hide behind tank hulls and armour to fight our foes.”

“Hide? Hide?!” Almorris exclaimed. “Is blasting your way through the wall of a fortress and charging the foe hull down with engines roaring and guns blazing hiding? Because if so, then I suppose every Astartes who has ever fought did so while hiding. Hah!”

“Order, order!” Commissar Hatch called, stepping between the two Astartes, a courageous gesture for any mortal man. “Enough!”

Both Douglas and Almorris glared at Hatch, and to his credit the Commissar held his ground, arms folded firmly.

“Brother-Captain Almorris, is that all you have to say?” Krenas asked, a hint of exasperation on his voice.

“I suppose it is, considering Douglas will probably shout me down should I dare say anything more,” Almorris said, shooting a venomous glare at Douglas.

“Very well,” Krenas said. All traces of any mirth at the situation were gone from his face, now. “Douglas, speak your piece.”

“Thank you, general,” Douglas said. “Like Almorris, I too lost nine of my warriors due to the weapons wielded by Hesphalt’s men. Not only this, but we reaped the bloodiest toll upon the foe, and slaughtered many of their infantrymen.”

“While we took out the big targets,” Molgrin interjected. “You know, the tanks and other armour. What match is a mortal soldier to an Astartes?”

Douglas glared at Molgrin.

“Allow him to speak,” Krenas ordered firmly.

“As I said, the greater share of glory went to the Beasts,” Douglas said. “We were instrumental in bringing down the shields that guarded Hesphalt’s palace, and were we not there then Sons would have faced a great deal more resistance, and had to deal with Piedmont’s Anchorage by themselves. And somehow, I doubt they would be up to the task.”

“How dare you!” Almorris snapped, stepping forward. A shove to Douglas’ chestplate sent the Fire Beast Brother-Captain stepping backwards slightly, and Almorris continued, fury on his features; “You pile insult after insult onto the honour of the Sons, with an impertinent smirk upon your face, . Have you no decency, Douglas?”

“Order, order!” Hatch called, stepping forward once more.

In reply, Almorris simply backhanded the Commissar across the jaw, sending the man toppling back with a yell of pain.

“Enough!” Krenas shouted, standing up from his throne. “Brother Captains, unless you cease this puerile display of manners at once then I shall eject you both from my court and shoot Hesphalt myself!”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Douglas said.

“I would,” Krenas replied. He sat once more. “And for the Emperor’s sake, somebody get a medicae for the Commissar. This is ridiculous.”

“Clearly, general, neither Almorris or Douglas are going to concede that the other may be in the right,” Ollias said. “Perhaps we should seek a way to resolve this issue other than arguing.”

“If it will stop them from injuring any more of my command staff, then I agree,” Krenas said, as a medicae orderly hurried into the room, a stretcher-servitor trundling in her wake. “Medicae, will the Commissar live?”

“It’s a broken jaw,” she replied. “He should be fine, general.”

“Good,” Krenas said, with a pointed glare at Almorris, who merely shrugged.

“I suggest a duel,” Douglas said, as the medicae hurried out of the room, servitor now carrying the unconscious Commissar Hatch. “The Fire Beast way; whoever draws first blood wins, and may execute Hesphalt.”

“Very well,” Almorris said. “I agree.”

Both of the Astartes stepped to either side of the chamber, drawing weapons; Amorris’ power axe, and Douglas’ great claymore. Both stalked around it as they sized each other up eye-to-eye, the one on the ruined side of Douglas’ face glaring madly from within its socket, eyelid blasted away. Their lieutenants had retreated away from the floor, leaving their commanders the space to fight.

For a moment, they were still, both in defensive stances, before Almorris moved forwards, sending a swift chop towards Douglas. The Captain parried and countered immediately, only for the great blade to spark against the adamantium haft of Almorris’ axe as he blocked the strike. Almorris delivered a kick to Douglas’ chest before hacking down, the head of his axe sparking off his opponent’s claymore as Douglas parried at the last moment.

Both weapons crackled with power as they clashed once more, Douglas taking the initiative and launching a flurry of blows which Almorris only just managed to block. The Beast’s assault was unrelenting as he drove the Son of Thunder back step by step, slowly pushing Almorris against the wall. Realising that he was being forced into a corner, Almorris roared and ducked under one of Douglas’ scything assaults, sweeping upwards with his axe in an attack that would have split the Fire Beast from groin to skull, had Douglas not leapt out of the way in time.

He rolled and stood to face Almorris, and for a moment there was a still calm, both of them already breathing heavily as their enhanced forms sought as much oxygen as they could take. Douglas stepped forwards, claymore already scything for Almorris, but the brother captain ducked beneath, slamming his shoulder into Douglas’ stomach. He doubled over beneath the impact, grasp on his claymore lost, before recovering enough to make a grab at Almorris’ axe.

His fingers closed on the haft, and he snarled as he tried to wrestle it from Almorris’ grip. The Son of Thunder’s own growl was equally vicious, the fight gone beyond some mere honour duel and into some struggle to the death, both combatants turned animal in their fury and determination.

Douglas somehow managed to wrest it away from Almorris, but his own grip was loosed for a mere moment. With preternatural speed Almorris made a grab, and while his fingers merely glanced off the haft, it was enough; the weapon skittered out of both their grasps, sliding along the floor.

Almorris’ eyes glanced to his weapon, hoping to see an opening, Douglas’ doing the same, before he remembered it was merely to first blood, and Douglas wore no helm; one swift punch would win this.

He drew back his fist, and swung, and the world seemed to explode.

His gauntlet slammed into Douglas’ cheek, and had the Beast been a mortal man he would have died there and then, and it was at that the Beast’s own knuckles slammed into Almorris’ jaw. Both of them reeled back, bellowing in pain, clutching shattered bone, gasping and anger and agony.

Almorris drew his hand away, and saw the blood on the tip of the finger, leaked from his nose even as his Larriman Cells clotted it, and cursed under his breath. He glanced over to Douglas a moment later, and, to his surprise, saw blood leaking from his own nose.

“It’s a draw,” Krenas announced, as both captains stepped away from each other. “Emperor Almighty, I’m beginning to suspect that this argument is never going to resolve itself.”

He stepped down from his throne, shaking his head.

“My word, my first meeting ends up with a Commissar being injured and two paradigms of the Emperor’s warriors duelling each other,” he muttered. “Sets quite a terrible precedent, I think. Are you happy, captains?”

“Hardly,” Douglas said. “This resolves nothing at all.”

“You both execute him,” Krenas said. “You’ve both got pistols; both of you shoot him.”

There was a silence, before Almorris said; “Fine. We’ll do that.”

Douglas nodded, before suddenly cocking his head to one side. He seemed to be listening to something, and hurriedly Almorris flicked through the vox channels to catch the end of a sentence.

“…are coming.”

“What was that?” Tobias asked.

“Mehmet,” Douglas said. “He finished his interrogation of the Ethereal.”

“And?”

“We have bigger fish to fry than Hesphalt, general. It turns out he called for xenos intervention some time ago.”

“Do you mean…”

“I do. We’ll have the Tau knocking on our door in a matter of hours. It turns out this war wasn’t as easily won as we thought.”
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby The Hillock » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:46 pm

Good update, still really enjoying this one. Keep it up!
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Razhbad » Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:35 am

I will get back to reviewing this guys asap.
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Gaius Marius » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:44 pm

Thanks Rhaz, new chapter and its a doozy.

Chapter 12:

The scream of plasma engines reverberated throughout the Shattered Heart, causing decking to vibrate in every section of the great ship. Plasma reactors the size of Imperator Titans and as white hot as the interior of a star spat their exhaust into the void, propelling the city sized ship through the Tharamark system at a quarter of the speed of light. Multilayered void shields glimmered about the ship, wrapping it in a tight layer of protective energy that would laugh off anything short of the greatest bombardments. Onboard the ship scores of plasma and radiological warheads were being activated by the Tech-Priests, Coordinators and servitors using ancient rituals of the Machine-God, before being loaded into the linear accelerator of the ship’s forwards bombardment cannon.

Servitors and chapter serfs stockpiled the massive sabot rounds that were to be loaded into the batteries of solid shot cannons that dotted the Strike Cruiser’s flanks. Auspex sensors embedded into the ship’s Ceramite hull pinged silently, searching ceaselessly for the presence of any void-borne foe. Point defense stations were brought rapidly online, the small posts unbearably loud as thousands of shells were loaded into auto cannons and lascannon batteries hummed into life.

Ahead of the Astartes vessel were a dozen destroyers and frigates, picket craft drawn from both Space Marine chapters as well as the Navy taskforce. Beside the Heart was Angelum Irritus, its twin in every way save color. Behind them came the slower naval task force, the twin lunar class cruisers Octavian and Domitian with the great Overlord class Fear Cape trailing them. Lastly floated the light Cruiser Repeated Stanza, its flight decks abuzz with preparing strike craft.

‘Shattered Heart is online, all systems nominal, weapons hot, mission: the destruction of any and all Xenos communalists,’ Shipmaster Oberwald announced in the ship’s bridge. Like all of the Beasts’ ship officers he was drawn from the ranks of Battlefleet Stonia and had been in the Astartes’ service for decades.

‘The helm is yours Captain Douglas,’ Oberwald said ceremonially.

‘And I return it to you Shipmaster,’ the Space Marine said, having run through the same ceremony a hundred times before.
‘All boarding torpedoes are online I trust?’ Douglas asked, feeling out of place in his black power armor, the bridge being filled with Chapter serfs in green and red carapace and Naval officers in deep blue uniforms.

‘Primed and loaded lord,’ said Oberwald, his eyes already upon the holoscreens and auspex scanners, ‘they only lack Astartes and targets to be ready for firing.’

‘I’ll be leaving three squads here to hold against boarders Shipmaster, I have one posted outside the bridge doors and the other two holding the Generatorium,’ explained Douglas, ‘Mehmet has unleashed a dozen of his charges throughout the chambers leading to the launch decks as guard animals. I suggest you order the crew to avoid those areas.’

‘Of course Lord,’ Oberwald said, half listening. In truth, almost all his attention was on his scanners.

‘There they are,’ the Shipmaster announced, ‘Ensign, lock onto the anomaly near largest moon of the gas giant, zoom in 200%. I’d advise you to get to your launch bay Captain, we have found them.’
…..
With enormous force and seemingly gigantic slowness the Imperial flotilla turned, honing in on the Tau invaders. Frigates and destroyers dashed ahead, their auspex sensors painting a more descriptive portrait of the alien ships that hung in orbit over the inhospitable ball of rock that navigated its way around Tharamark’s largest gas giant.

‘At least twenty five targets,’ Admiral Quaritch spoke to the fleet, ‘fifteen escorts classes, five Merchant class cruisers, three Hero class heavy cruisers and one Explorer class Battleship.’

‘Transports?’ asked Douglas asked him, listening through his armor’s vox.

‘None that I can see,’ replied Quaritch, the admiral’s experienced mind already running attack patterns. Clad in his naval whites, the Admiral was hooked into his command throne, streams of data running through dermal plugs into his mind. He could feel every motion of his battle cruiser’s turrets, the charging hum of Fear Cape’s shields and the dull throb of its sub light engines.

‘Many Tau capital ships are noted to have far greater transport capability than their Imperial equivalents,’ Quaritch explained, ‘I suspect they are held in the battleship at the enemy fleet’s center.’

‘Admiral, if your fleet can blast us a path so that the Heart can get within boarding torpedo range of their flagship we can take it out of the fight before it even begins,’ urged Douglas.

‘We can do so Captain,’ agreed Quaritch, ‘but once your men are on board they’re on their own. The Heart will have to withdrawal immediately back into our firing line or risk destruction.’

‘The Beasts shall fight their own way out Admiral Quaritch,’ said Douglas, ‘of that I assure you.’

….
The Imperial fleet attacked, moving in a classic column attack straight at the Tau armada. A cloud of fighter craft launched from the Repeated Stanza preceded them, the Star Hawk bombers hitting the Tau escorts with giga-ton force bombs while clouds of Fury interceptors dueled with Tau Barracudas. Point-Defense guns chattered as they fired solid slug rounds by the thousand and hundreds of high powered laser beams at the dodging forms of Tau Manta bombers. Few of the alien craft made it through the flickering fusillade and none of their munitions managed to break the Imperials’ shields.

Fear Cape was the first capital ship to open fire, its powerful dorsal lance array sending a beam of blinding brightness screaming silently into the void. It crashed against the shields of a Tau escort, the sheer power of the shot overloading the alien vessel’s shields. Before they could respond a squadron of the Stanza’s attack craft took advantage of the gap, sending a hail of plasma torpedoes to rip open the Defender class frigate like a polyluminum can.

Both fleets moved into range, their weaponry sending tides of blazing ordinance streaming across space. Great lance beams tore apart Tau shields, each shot expending enough energy to power a city for a year, while alien railcannons pounded Imperial armor with hypervelocity shells that could fracture continents. Amidst the fire and thunder, Shattered Heart moved forward into position.
The Strike Cruiser’s great bombardment cannon fired constantly, its macroshells swatting aside any approaching Tau ships. Weapons batteries on its flanks blazed, spitting out an endless stream of explosive death. Frigates and destroyers hung close to the Astartes vessel, providing barriers of steel and flesh between the ship and its lethal cargo.

Douglas felt every impact on his ship, the teeth chattering vibrations working their way down through the shields, past the layers of steel and Ceramite armor and into the boarding torpedo he was strapped into. His fists clenched in impotent wrath, ready to do anything to get in amongst the enemy, to slay them with bolter and blade rather than wait here where a random rail-shot could send him to the Emperor’s side without him even being able to draw his sword.

‘I’ve seen that look before,’ said Phineas, restrained to the other side of the pod, ‘the look that screams for vengeance, but it is usually on Jacquefre’s face.’

‘I’m restraining to a wall and wearing a helmet Tech-Marine,’ replied the Captain, ‘hardly an ideal way to display what is left of my face. Are you an empath now as well as a technopath?’

‘My sensors can read your raised body temperature and increased beta-brain waves Captain Douglas,’ admitted Phineas, ‘they roil off you and upset your armor’s machine spirit. I theorize that you are angered at the draw against Almorris, visualizing that killing Hesphalt would in some way make up for the Beasts lost in taking the anchorage.’

‘Well…yes,’ agreed Douglas after a moment’s thought, ‘This was supposed to be a simple punitive expedition, kill a few Xenophilliacs, round up some suspicious looking nobles so that the Inquisition could hang them from gibbets if the Ordo Xenos ever bothers to show up and let Krenas take over as the new governor. But it’s all gone straight to the warp.’

‘Expeditions that start out small rarely stay so,’ said Phineas, ‘Apocryphal records state that the Damocles Gulf Crusade was initially only a PDF division and corvette squadron before it exponentially increased. However, you should not allow your anger at the deaths of our brothers to rile your humors. Captain Almorris and the Sons had no part in their deaths and their presence prevented the deaths of many others. Without them we would have suffered gravely going against heavy armor with a third of our Devastator’s down.’

‘Yes, I suppose you’re right,’ admitted Douglas, ‘I would have hated to face those tanks with only the Rhinos and a whirlwind.’

The torpedo began to shake, rocking as the vast engines at its rear began to roar to life, greedily gulping down liquid nitrogen as they ignited.

‘All torpedoes are firing!’ sounded the automated voice over the intercom, ‘brace for impact!’

‘We’re not going to have to worry about tanks in this fight though,’ observed Douglas as the force of the torpedoes launch pressed him back into his cage.

‘Pity,’ said Phineas.

…..
The all encompassing roar of the engines cut off further conversation as the retrojet’s kicked in. Shattered Heart was launching scores of torpedoes from its crenellated bays, each missile was over thirty meters long and painted in Fire Beast colors. Most were packed solid with plasma hull-breacher charges and packed with high explosives and atomics. Vat-grown servitor brains connected to powerful auspexes guided the torpedoes across the void and through the flickering streams of fire kicked up by both fleets. Several failed, clipped by point defense lasers or downed by vigilant fighter screens, and tumbled through the void leaking plasma until they went critical and exploded harmlessly in clouds of flashing blue and pulsing purple.

Most of the torpedoes were Tempest class guided missiles, ship killers designed to pop shields, rupture armor and open internal spaces to the void. But twelve of them were Aviking class boarding torpedoes, longer and thicker craft designed to carry a squad of Astartes into an enemy’s lair. The first wave of Tempests cracked the already weakened shields of the Tau battleship, allowing a further squadron of torpedoes to hammer the ship along its five kilometer length. At impact, the breacher chargers capping the torpedoes fired, sending shaped bursts of plasma cutting through the Xenos armor. Terminal phase boosters fired simultaneously, driving the missiles further into the Tau ship. The surviving Tempest torpedoes exploded, taking out vast swathes of the battleship. But the Aviking torpedoes merely jammed themselves inside the alien ship as iris hatches in their sides’ dilated open.
The Beasts were inside.
….
Douglas noticed that most of the ship’s bulkheads and decks were a strange light blue where they were not coated in ash or actively on fire. Suppression systems were engaged, spraying out flame dampening foam and water along the length of the passage his squads found themselves in. Aside from his command squad of himself, Montrose and Phineas, he had three squads of Tactical Marines and Sgt. Gastone’s squad of Devastators whose torpedoes had landed nearby. It was a potent force anywhere, but especially in the close quarters that ship fighting entailed.

‘Where are we Phineas?’ asked the Captain, drawing and igniting his claymore.

‘I am ascertaining that Lord,’ said the Tech-Marine, approaching a relatively undamaged Tau data terminal. His mechandrites ripped open the cogitator’s front, which like all Tau designed devices was horribly rounded and lacking in right angles. Another metal limb seized a set of wires and spliced into them, opening the Tau’s battle net to him.

‘We’re in crew quarters; from here it will take twenty minutes for this section to make it to our final objectives. Beast Lord Mehmet’s detachment is nearer the troop bays and far enough away we cannot count on their support. I am sending schematics to each of us and shutting down as many unsecured systems as I can.’

‘Good, then let us get going before resistance gathers,’ said Douglas.

‘I doubt that Lord, with their surveillance systems scrambled and their armories locked down I do not anticipate much resistance.’
….
Mehmet was facing a great deal of resistance.

One of his beasts went down to a burst of plasma fire, the animal’s horned skull melting beneath the superheated blast. Its killer was a towering Crisis Suit that barely fit inside the corridor and was trying to retarget one of the Astartes with the Librarian. Mehmet blocked it, telekinetically hurtling the dead monster into the battle suit’s chassis and knocking the piece of xeno tech to the ground with two tons of dead meat. Several force axe blows pealed open its armor and revealed the frail alien inside, which Mehmet killed with a spiked punch.

‘Who the warp puts battle suits in a warship!’ barked the Librarian, sending a burst of plasma pistol fire down the corridor at another of the walkers. It was out of range of both the pistol and the plasma cannons held by the heavy weapons marines and he was forced to duck back into cover as it returned fire.

‘This is an Explorer Class ship Lord,’ one of the Astartes explained, ‘it’s as much a transport as it is a warship.’

‘You’re Oskay aren’t you?’ asked the Librarian

‘Yes sir!’ the Space Marine answered enthusiastically, firing his bolter, ‘The Chapter rescued me from Leviathan on Scythlix and saw fit to make of me a Beast.’

‘Your knowledge does you well Astartes,’ said Mehmet, ‘do you remember how we held off the Tyranids at Scythlix’ space port?’

‘Of course Lord, the sight of the flames and the sound of their screams shall always stay with me.’

‘Good, all heavy weapons units, set that chamber ablaze.’

Three flamers fired in response, sending burning promethium cascading through the long chamber separating the Crisis Suit from the Fire Beasts. Its infrared vision blinded by the flames, it was unable to see the Beasts until they were on top of it. Oskay, fresh from the Scouts and reveling in the strength of his armor and implanted organs, leapt blazing from the inferno to shove two feet of monoedged steel into the battle suit’s torso. Cobalt blue blood was already pumping from the hole when the Space Marine fired a whole clip of bolter ammunition into the weakened section, shattering it completely and exploding the already dying Tau.

Mehmet’s telepathically guided monsters slammed into the hundreds of tan armored fire warriors that had been moving up behind the Crisis Suits in a wider chamber. The gene-edited creatures gored and bit and tore, shattering armor and rending flesh. Strikes from the butt of plasma rifles were barely felt and the few shots that were snapped off at close range only served to enrage the beasts further. While the front ranks went down to the monsters, the Beasts themselves crashed into the melee. Bolters fired precise, smashing shots on semi-auto, each bolt evaporating whatever it struck in a mist of red blood. Serrated bayonets tore open chests with dry snaps of chattering ribs and the wet pops of bursting organs. Spiked gauntlets broke faces, cracked helms open and tore off cheekbones and jaws. Chain axes and power mauls tore limbs from bodies, the accumulated arms and legs piling up like kindling. Plasma bolts exploded tau by the dozen, while flamers set scores on fire.

The Beast Lords force axe took off a head using a downward sweep, then struck down another on the backhand. He killed one of the aliens with a point blank shot from his plasma pistol and then punched another hard in the face plate. His gauntlet tore open the helm in a welter of blood, but it was the blood’s color that surprised the Librarian. It was red, the oxygenated hemoglobin of human beings. By that point he realized he could feel the terror running through the rapidly decreasing mob of ‘aliens’, something far different from the psychic numbness the battle suit pilots gave off even when dying.

‘Traitors,’ hissed Mehmet as the enormity of his discovery unfolded. The hundreds of enemies the Beasts had felled were not aliens at all, but the Tau’s human slaves.
…..
‘Mehmet has found humans,’ Phineas informed the command squad, his plasma caster mechandrites firing over his head as he spoke. The bolts of energy vaporized the head of a Tau officer who fell messily behind a hasty barricade that the Tau had seemingly grown from the ground.

‘Enemy prisoners?’ questioned Montrose, his storm bolter giving off covering fire, ‘Reinforcements perhaps?’

‘No, enemy slaves they call the Gue’Vesa,’ said Phineas, ‘fools who abandoned the Emperor for a lie.’

‘Heretics,’ spat Montrose, still providing covering fire. His bolts coupled with flamers, missile launchers and plasma cannons from the heavy weapon carriers attached to each squad and Gastone’s devastators was more than enough to keep the Tau’s heads down and in some cases even breach the barricade. One suicidally brave alien glanced above the chest high wall only to be trepanated by Douglas’ descending claymore.

The Captain and nine tactical Astartes jumped the wall, facing eight times their number in a full infantry hunting cadre of Fire Warriors. Douglas landed and his sword slashed out, the very edge of its foible cleanly slicing a Tau throat before lopping off an arm at the end of its swing, before reversing to hack off another alien’s legs at the knee. Other Astartes killed with chain blade and bayonet, crushing their smaller opponents to the floor. For a moment, the company of Tau tried to rally, but faltered when another squad burned through a bulk head with plasma cannons and flanked them. The entire cadre was dead within two minutes of Douglas jumping the wall.

‘Traitors to the Imperium you say?’ Douglas asked Phineas, pulling pieces of cobalt entrails from his armor.

‘Indeed Lord, just as foul as the benighted fools who turn to chaos,’ answered the Tech-Marine.

‘Then let us remind them what they have left behind,’ ordered the Captain, ‘since you still have access to the Tau’s data net, why don’t you give them some music? The March of Unification, at 130 decibels.’

So loud as to be unrecognizable from artillery fire, the march of unification howled over every speaker and vox set in the Tau ship. Attempts to relay audible orders or commands broke down, due to either the sound being overwhelmed by the song or the intended listeners going deaf. Many Fire Warriors and Gue’vesa were permanently deafened, blood running from their burst eardrums as they cradled their heads. Some of the human auxiliaries stopped fighting period and fell to the ground, their loyalties torn between such reminders of the Imperium as both the song and the Emperor’s blood spattered angels.

The Beasts, their hearing preserved by their helms features and the Lyman’s ear implant, were able to communicate over their short range vox with ease and took advantage of the tumult to slaughter fresh hordes of the aliens.

‘We’re near the last objective Captain Douglas,’ said Phineas, planting another explosive charge at a vital juncture.

‘Where do we go from here Tech-Marine?’ asked the Captain

‘Left at the next corridor,’ said Phineas, ‘but we must hurry. They’re mobilizing their invasion force now and are sending it to reinforce the main ship security.’

‘How many?’ asked Douglas.

‘At least a hundred thousand infantry Lord.’

‘Too many to kill,’ mused the Captain.

‘You’re getting old sir,’ stated Montrose, ‘No offense.’

‘The day you can kill more xenos than I is the day I let Phineas stick me in a dreadnaught,’ answered Douglas, ‘until then we stay with the plan. Move up.’

The squads came to a set of thick double doors, which Phineas immediately began cracking open while the other Astartes stacked up to the sides.

‘What’s in here Phineas?’ asked the Captain.

‘Vehicle Storage.’
…..
Mehmet punched a Gue’vesa off its feet, his spiked knuckles staving in its chest. His section of the company was leap frogging through the ship, the attack animals moving first to spring ambushes and fixing down alien attachments, while the tactical squads flanked through side passages and burned their ways through walls.

‘We’re close Fire Beasts!,’ the Librarian yelled, holding atop one of the alien corpses his men had just killed, ‘the manta hanger is in the next room. Be prepared to face heavy resistance from the Tau inside. You all know the plan, once we seize a ship we move to evacuate Captain Douglas and his Beasts. Move quickly, Fire and Shadow!’

…..
Fire blasted apart one of the Astartes, the Space Marine’s armor proving useless against the hypervelocity shells from the Hammerhead tank. Another Fire Beast went down to a flurry of heavy plasma shots that melted his armor down to naught.

‘Phineas get the last charge planted,’ ordered Douglas, ‘Devastators and heavy weapons target the center tank, 2nd flank right, 1st squad left with me. 3rd squad, pick off any more vehicle crew trying to mount up.’

The vehicle bay was a vast area, honey combed like the hive of a blood wasp. Each cavity was filled with the Tau’s airborne vehicles, although only three were operational. A trio of Hammerhead main battle tanks hovered in the center of the room, their massive cannons craning for kill shots.

Devastators hit the tanks with a storm of plasma and Krak missiles. One tank lots it sport battery of burst cannons and another saw its starboard thrusters burn out. The center tank took the brunt of the damage, its external cameras melted by plasma bursts, its burst cannons destroyed and its main ion cannon damaged beyond use.

On the left Douglas led the attack, his men weaving through parked vehicles to dodge the worst of the enemy fire. One still went down to a lucky tank shell that punched through an APC to decapitate a tactical marine. The survivors jumped aboard the tank on the side of its crippled burst cannon, forcing grenades between the ventilation slits and hammer at its hatches. Douglas sliced off its huge rail cannon with a single sword stroke, crippling the tank.

On the right, Sternguard Montrose took a shot the stomach as he led 2nd squad onwards, the obscene power of the shell snapping him in half. Enraged the Fire Beasts swarmed the remaining tank, ripping open its hatches and butchering its crew as the devastators killed the last tank with another missile volley.

‘It almost makes one wish for the Sons of Thunder,’ observed Phineas, emerging from where he had planted the last of the detonation charges.

‘Almost,’ said Douglas, deactivating and sheathing his claymore. He bent low, picking up the pieces of Montrose. His friend’s life signs were flat and inside his armor the Astarte’s corpse was starting to cool.
‘Collect the dead for the Apothecaries and prepare for evacuation,’ ordered the Captain. Four Astartes were dead from just his section. It was a heavy price, but the death of a capital ship was worth it. The Fire Beasts carried the bodies into undamaged APCs, locking the doors behind them. Several messily decapitated dead enemy tank crew, shucking off the helms and breaking open their skulls.

‘I’ve always hated this taste,’ said Douglas, taking a bite of alien brain matter.

‘It is better than Tyranid at least,’ observed Phineas, ‘but not by much.’

A small flood of memories and techniques went through the Astartes, including the ability to pilot Tau vehicles.

‘At least we can evac now,’ said Douglas as he took control of a devilfish ‘All Charges set Phineas?’

‘Yes, lord,’ replied the Tech-Marine, piloting a hammerhead and delighted to be piloting so mighty a war machine, even if it was a perverted alien one that knew not the Omnissiah’s light.

‘Then blow the ceiling. All Fire Beasts activate transponders, we are leaving this ship.’

……
The armored ceiling failed to multiple cannon shots fired with a dangerous disregard for the Hammerhead’s maintenance. Opened to the vacuum of space, the entirety of the hangar was sucked out. Most of the vehicles were secured in their honeycomb chambers, but the Astartes piloted ones were gunning for the opening. The vehicles were sucked through the void, the Fire Beasts inside holding on tight in the crowded crew bays.

‘Mehmet,’ voxed Douglas, ‘do you see us?’

‘Yes Captain,’ answered the Librarian, ‘transponders are locked and we are primed for extraction.’

A shadow displaced the stars and a Tau manta revealed itself, Fire Beast pilots at the helm. The stolen vehicles were maneuvered inside the super-bombers launch bay by tractor beams and harpoon lines. Once inside, the Beasts disembarked and kicked the vehicles out of the bay to make room before the doors closed shut and atmosphere flooded back in.

‘Pilots,’ ordered Douglas, ‘get us back to the Heart and inform Quaritch that we have succeeded.’

‘I’m afraid that will not be possible sir,’ informed Phineas, flicking through long range vox channels.

‘Why not?’

‘Quaritch is dead.’
Space Cowboy, Spartan II, Specter, Reclusiarch

'I see the fear you have inside.'
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby steffen19k » Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:12 am

‘The day you can kill more xenos than I is the day I let Phineas stick me in a dreadnaught,’ answered Douglas, ‘until then we stay with the plan. Move up.’



That's priceless. KEEP UP THE POSTING!!! Both of you.
Tanks: The greatest way to fight a war since the horse mounted cavalryman. Don't argue with me. You know its true. :P
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:20 am

Thanks Steffen; your wish is my command.



Chapter 13: Void War

The Angelum Imritus hit the flank of the Tau’s fleet like a lightning bolt.

The Strike Cruiser, a swift vessel by the standards of most Imperial ships of its size, had slipped round the rear of the Imperial fleet, and along with its two Gladius class escorts, opened up. The bombardment cannon mounted on its prow roared into life, picking off a Tau battleship in a ball of shrapnel and flame that was swallowed by the void in a moment, while Blade of the Throne and Aquila’s Lightning drew up to let off a broadside with their lance batteries.

The Angelum wasn’t, by itself, that major a threat; its oversized engines meant that its guns weren’t as numerous as they were on other Imeprial ships of its size; but with Quaritch’s fleet pounding at the foe from the other flank and the Shattered Heart making a stab at the Tau’s capital ship, the Tau were too occupied to really deal with the ten-kilometre ship and its smaller escorts, and they suddenly found their rear shields being bombarded from behind.

“We’ve got a Hero class moving to face us,” a chapter serf warned from his station at one of the Angelum’s consoles, fingers dancing over the keyboard as he processed the data.

“Get us a heading facing it, and fire the bombardment cannon,” Almorris ordered from his place upon the Angelum’s command throne. “Have the Blade and Lightning wear down its shields for us, give us a good shot.”

Swiftly, orders were relayed from the engine and gunnery decks, and the Angelum coasted around to face the foe before its bombardment cannon fired. The shot slammed into the shields of the Tau ship like a meteorite, and more fire pounded the vessel’s shields the Angelum’s flanking ships. Swiftly, they flickered out of existence, but already it was turned enough.

“Power to the shields!” Almorris called out. “Get the bombardment cannon recharged and ready. Weather this broadside.”

The return fire; heavy duty railgun rounds, massive pulse cannons, drone guided smart missiles; slammed into the Angelum’s shields, the strike cruiser’s plasma drives going into overdrive as its crew of techpriests fought to keep them active.

“Sword, Lightning, get it now!” Almorris ordered. “Target the gun decks. Get a message down to the engineering decks; how long can the shields hold?”

Swiftly, word was relayed to the decks, and swiftly Almorris’ answer came; “At least a few more minutes, Lord.”

“Good enough,” Almorris said. “Get the bombardment cannon enough power to fire.”

“Firing, milord.”

There was a deep vibrating rumble from the prow of the ship, the immense recoil of the bombardment cannon shaking the entire ship from prow to stern, and Almorris grinned as the macro-shell screamed across the void. It smashed into the Tau vessel amidships, rupturing armoured plating and tearing a great chunk of its top free in a great blast of flame and debris. Chunks of scrap metal floated away into the void, along with the already asphyxiated corpses of thousands of Tau crewmen and stevedores, and Almorris wasted no time.

“Bring us around to starboard, get us a full broadside,” he ordered. “Tear it apart!”

The Angelum opened up, power to its shields reduced as the Hero class’ own gun decks were smashed out of commission, tearing the xenos vessel apart with lance batteries and volleys of torpedoes. Armour and decks were melted away by the merciless blast of lance batteries, while thermonuclear missiles annihilated gun decks and engines with atomic fire.

Almorris gave a grin of feral glee as images of the destruction of the Tau ship were fed to his position, exalting in the destruction he rained upon the hapless xenos. He loved space combat, the exhilarating feel of the biggest guns in the Imperium’s arsenal firing just a few dozen metres beneath his feet, all ready to utterly annihilate the foe at his command.

The Hero class cruiser lasted less than a minute beneath the bombardment, splitting in half on the point already pulverised by the bombardment cannon, fire momentarily spilling out into the void as it consumed the oxygen aboard. Chunks of debris and battered, abused guns sere sent scattering across the void as the ship ruptured and burst beneath the firepower of the Angelum, tumbling away beneath the force of the impacts.

“Suffer not the xenos to live!” Almorris roared in triumph, clapping his hands together in delight as he saw the ship die. “Excellent work, brothers!”

“Brother captain,” Ollias voxed in. “I’ve received word from Beast Lord Mehmet; the Shattered Heart has reached the Tau’s capital ship and they’ve begun boarding actions. That should throw their fleet into disarray for some time.”

“Good,” Almorris said. “Now we just need to beat their record for the number of xenos we slaughter.”

“Yes, brother captain.”

“Is there a problem, Epistolary?”

“I simply don’t see the benefit in alienating another chapter,” Cyralius said. “I know that you and Douglas were both upset about the deaths of our brothers upon Tharamark, but I hardly see the benefit in letting such a rivalry fester.”

“Perhaps if Douglas had not deemed it appropriate to provoke me, then such a thing would not be a problem,” Almorris replied tersely. “He will reap what he sows, Epistolary.”

“Whatever you say, brother captain.”

“Just keep ready for boarders, Epistolary,” Almorris said. “Almorris out.”

He shook his head angrily, before glancing over ot one of the Angelum’s serfs.

“What’s the situation?”

“Milord, auspexes have just shown that we have multiple tau escorts trying to flank us, several thousand kilometres straight ahead,” a serf called in. “Your orders?”

“How many?”

“Five, lord.”

“Full speed towards them, and as soon as we can get a shot in from the bombardment cannon pick off the lead one,” Almorris ordered. “Have the Blade and Lightning target the others, focus their fire and wear them down one by one.”

“Aye, milord. Relaying your orders now.”

Almorris reclined in his command throne as they hyper-accelerated shell of the bombardment cannon smashed the lead escort apart, overpowering its shields and blasting it to mere debris, while data relayed to him from the Blade and Lightning showed them picking off another of the enemy craft in a blast of fire and death. Much of the escort fire was directed towards the Angelum, captains unaware that they lacked the strength to overpower its shields, and Almorris knew that he would have more than enough power to keep them up in the face of this paltry firepower.

“Milord, auspices read another of the enemy’s heavy cruisers are breaking off to pursue us,” a serf called. “What are your orders?”

“They’re trying to trap us,” Almorris said. “Perhaps if they actually had ships capable of stopping us in front I’d be worried. Keep our bearings, we’ve got enough speed to stay out of their range; show them the folly of trying to stop a Strike Cruiser with mere escorts. Fire the bombardment cannon, destroy another one.”

More data was relayed from the Lightning and the Blade, telling him that another of the escorts had been blasted apart in the absence of more orders from Almorris, and the deck shook beneath his feet as the bombardment cannon fired once more.

“Target down,” a serf called. “The Blade and Lightning say we’re blocking the last cruiser from their sight, and the bombardment cannon needs time to reload and cool; what are your orders?”

“Full speed ahead,” Almorris replied. “Ram them.”

The Angelum flew towards the Tau ship like a hurled spear, pointed, armoured prow facing dead ahead towards the Tau craft. In desperation the ship tried to flee, gun batteries blazing in a futile attempt to halt the strike cruiser that thundered towards it as it tried to retreat back into the fleet.

It got nowhere near as the Angelum Imritus smashed into it, the prow of the strike cruiser, nearly thrice the size of the escort, tore through its shields and sheared its hull, ripping the ship into two shattered halves. Flame blossomed across its white painted flank while chunks of scrap metal glanced across its prow, glancing off its shields or gouging scratches dozens of metres wide across its armour. A few minor point-defence turrets were smashed from their places on the hull, but it was minor damage, easily repaired. The same, however, could not be said for the Tau ship, now little more than two great chunks of wreckage spewing flame, debris and the dead out into the vacuum, the voracious appetites of the fires starving themselves of oxygen in mere moments.

“Five ships in as many minutes!” Almorris exalted. “I’d like to see those thugs in the Beasts do that!”

He opened a vox link, ordering a serf to put him into communication with Fear Cape, and asked; “Admiral, how goes the battle in the void?”

“Well, Brother-Captain,” Quaritch’s clipped tones replied. “Your flanking manoeuvre spread them thin, and we are pushing forwards into the centre of the fleet, and the foe are already falling back. I do believe we can win this.”

“I am glad to hear, Admiral,” Almorris said. “The Angelum will continue to put pressure on their flank, keep them occupied. We may be able take out another of their cruisers; that’ll really ruin their day.”

“Do so. Quaritch out.”

“I want us bought round to face that Hero class,” Almorris ordered a nearby serf. “Have the bombardment cannon prepare to fire upon it as soon as it is in range, and order the Blade and Lightning swing around for broadsides.”

“Aye, lord,” the serf said, before relaying Almorris’ orders to the appropriate decks.

“Milord, I’m picking up unusual readings from the gas giant,” a serf warned. “The servitors warned me of unusual wind patterns.”

“Unusual how?” Almorris asked, as the deck beneath him began to judder into life.

“As if disturbed by large objects many kilometres across,” the serf said, glancing up from her console. “They might be…oh Emperor.”

“What?”

“I’m picking up multiple contacts emerging from the gas giant,” she said. “A large number, nearly an entire fleet, sir!”

“Give me the numbers, now!” Almorris ordered, and obediently the serf fed the data through.

“Emperor damn it,” Almorris cursed quietly as he saw the data being fed through two him; another four Hero class cruisers, a second Explorer, an entire fleet’s worth of ship and, perhaps most worrying of all, an immense ship, two great domes connected by a bridge at their centre, nearly thrice the size of the Angelum; a Kroot warsphere.

“What’s our heading?” Almorris asked. “Now!”

“We’ve got a facing towards the Hero class,” another serf said. “Your orders, sir?”

Get us out of here, back to the main fleet,” Almorris said. “Full power to the engines and shields, forget the guns; there’s no way we can shoot our way through that. Take the most direct route.”

“Sir, that’s through the enemy fleet,” the serf warned.

“Then shoot anything that’s stupid enough to get in our way with the bombardment cannon and ram what’s left,” Almorris said. “If we’re caught by the enemy fleet by ourselves we’re doomed. And get me a link to Fear Cape.”

Quickly, his orders were relayed, the data fed back to the Blade and the Lightning, and a vox link was quickly opened to Quaritch.

“Almorris, would you be so good as to tell me what in the Emperor’s name is happening?” Quaritch demanded as soon as it opened.

“The enemy had an entire reserve fleet hidden in the gas giant,” Almorris explained. “We’re badly outnumbered, and I’ve got the Angelum and her escorts falling back.”

“Understood,” Quaritch said. “The fleet is redeploying, and I need you on our western flank. I want you there as soon as possible.”

“I understand, Admiral,” Almorris said. “Almorris out.”

The Angelum speared through the rear of the fleet with a speed that belied its bulk, engines sending great jets of plasma with burning contrails more than a mile long in its wake, the Blade and Lightning following on either side. Even as it sped past enemy ships, Almorris disdained from firing upon them, focussing the power coming from the Angelum’s plasma generators into engines and shields only, in preparation for the enemy fire that would inevitably come towards them. For the first few moments, no enemy fire impacted the Angelum’s shields, the Tau seemingly stunned by the audacity of the manoeuvre, before heavy railgun rounds and pulse cannon fire slammed into the ship’s aegis.

“Forget returning fire,” Almorris ordered. “Get close to their ships, deny them safe fire patterns.”

The Angelum weathered the storm of fire with relative ease; past the heavy cruisers it went, before they could form proper fire patters, sticking close to the Explorer class, still paralysed by the Fire Beasts ravaging its corridors. As hoped, the fire from the Merchant class cruisers that had been slamming into the Angelum’s port shields slacked off for a moment, captains fearful of hitting a friendly ship, and Almorris grinned as the Angelum shifted past their length.

“Captain, the enemy have taken out the Blade’s engines,” a serf warned. “Her shields are down and there’s no way she can keep up. What are your orders?”

“Keep moving,” Almorris ordered. “There’s no way we can help them now.”

“Aye sir,” the serf said, bowing his head.

“What of the Lightning?” Almorris asked.

“She fares better, milord,” the serf replied. “She did not suffer as much incoming fire.”

“Good,” Almorris said. “Keep me inform.”

“Yes, milord.”

Almost as soon as the Angelum broke out of the lee of the Explorer did enemy fire suddenly resume, slamming into shields with immense force. But they were through the worst of it, already breaking into friendly lines, Fear Cape swinging into view, a guarding giant that warded the Merchant class cruisers away with its immense guns and near-impenetrable shields.

“My thanks, Admiral,” Almorris voxed.

“A pleasure, brother captain,” Quaritch sid. “Terribly daring of you, that manoeuvre.”

“I had faith in the Angelum, and it paid off,” Almorris replied. “Moving to the western flank now.”

“Understood. Quaritch out.”

The Angelum turned, the ship’s engines flaring while Fear Cape and its escorts shielded it from the enemy guns, broadsides blazing from the great Overlord class ship. With Almorris’ ship already moving to the western flank of the fleet, shielded by a screen of battleships that rushed forwards to cover the strike cruiser.

It met the Hero class ship that it had been pursuing near head on, and this time, it had bought friends.

The dorsal bombardment cannon on the strike cruiser fired as soon as the ship came into view, and the Angelum began to slowly roll away from the three heavy cruisers that faced it, pumping broadsides in its direction. Quickly, calls for reinforcement were made, but alerts came in from the fleet that they were too occupied with the enemy’s own reinforcements to be of any aid.

Enemy fire slammed into the Angelum even as it tried to evade, shields near overloading as they fought against the tide of firepower pouring into it.

“Bring her round, get a broadside on that one we hit!” Almorris ordered. “Repeated Stanza, this Almorris; I need a bombing run on the central cruiser. Its shields are down, this could be our only chance.”

Even as the Angelum sat tight, channelling more power to her shields, the forms of Star Hawks bombers, escorted by the much faster, more agile Furies flitting past the cyclopean starship, screaming through the vacuum towards their targets. The Furies hit first, duelling with the Manta gunships that guarded their targets or strafing the point-defence turrets that would threaten their charges.

The Furies arrived only a few moments later, the blocky bombers dropping guided cyclonic missiles or nuclear cluster bombs, unleashing apocalyptic fury upon the enemy. Armour ruptured, bulkheads burst, and the wounded cruiser tore itself apart as its engines exploded, damaged irreparably by the immense nuclear payloads detonating all around them.

“Flights are pulling back to refuel and rearm,” Repeated Stanza voxed.

“Understood, Repeated Stanza,” Almorris said. “My thanks.”

“Brother captain,” Quarith voxed in. “I need you to move up on Fear Cape; I’m in need of support.”

“With all due respect, Admiral, the western flank will fold completely without the Angelum,” Almorris warned.

“Forget the western flank!” Quaritch snapped, and on the other end of the vox link Almorris blinked in quiet surprise; such an outburst seemed unlikely from someone who would have been bought up on the strict codes of naval officer protocol. He must be in trouble. “We’re falling back; the foe are too many, and the Cape needs cover.”

“Understood,” Almorris said. “Sit tight, we’re on our way.”

“Very well,” Quaritch said.

The Angelum left its foes behind it, Almorris confident in the power of her engines to get them out of their ranges before they could do any real damage. It powered towards the colossus that was Fear Cape, the ship immense even in comparison to the Angelum’s ten-kilometre length.

Fire roared from its immense gun batteries as it faced the Tau, lance fire, torpedoes, even plasma cannons of an immense scale, relics of a bygone age when such weapons were made with ease by humanity’s weaponsmiths. The void around it was ablaze with firepower, its crenelated arsenals roaring silently with power as they smote the enemy with apocalyptic fury, blasting into the shields of foe like judgement send from the Emperor himself.

The craft it face was equally immense, the great Kroot warsphere, the xenos craft’s own weapons blazing as it faced off against the Overlord. Behind it, yet more of heinous xenos allies marshalled, the second Explorer class ship along with a small swarm of escorts and battleships, all guns focussed on the Imperial behemoth.

“Target the Explorer,” Almorris said. “Fear Cape can probably beat that warpsphere single handed, but not with that thing going at it as well. Get the bombardment cannon on it, now.”

The mighty weapon fired, the shot rippling off the shields of the Explorer, and the Tau dreadnought began to turn towards them, ponderous progress marked by the regular firing of its weapons towards Fear Cape.

“Again!” Almorris ordered. “Fire the cannon again.”

“It’s still reloading, milord,” one of the serfs replied, and Almorris cursed.

“Channel power into prow shields,” he ordered. “Keep them up as long as it takes us to fire again.”

The fire strobing from the Explorer found a new target in the Angelum, impacting upon its shields with great blasts of fire and plasma. The strike cruiser stood firm, weathering the storm of fire even as the few dorsal lance cannons it had returned fire, shields fighting against the force of the assault all the time. The bombardment cannon fired once more, smashing into the Explorer’s shields, and Almorris snarled as they remained defiantly standing.

“Captain,” a serf warned. “We have a problem.”

“What?” Almorris asked, before his eyes alighted on the tactical map and he snarled.

The three cruisers that Almorris had left behind had returned, forming up behind Fear Cape in readiness to fire off broadsides.

“Admiral, you’ve got heavy fire coming in from the rear!” Almorris warned. “Get out of there!”

“That’s impossible, I’m afraid,” Quaritch said. “I can’t spare any power for the engines. We need you to keep supporting us.”

“Admiral, that’s impossible,” Almorris replied. “We’re badly tied up with an enemy Dreadnought here, and I don’t think we can win this.”

The Heroes began to open fire, shots rippling off the shields of Fear Cape, wearing them down yet further even as Fear Cape began to return fire. But the leviathan vessel was struggling against the combined power of the Warsphere and its allies. Its shields wavered, the tech-priests upon the engineering decks battling to keep the generators overloading, desperately beseeching the machine spirits to stand firm.

Their pleas did them no good, and the shields of Fear Cape died.

Gun batteries exploded as heavy duty rounds smashed into them, cooking off ammunition and jettisoning crews and their charges into the void. Armour ruptured as it was torn apart by railgun rounds and pulse cannons, opening corridors to freezing vacuum. The proud Aquila that stood at the stern of the vessel had one of its wings ripped free by a flight of Manta bombers, while the turrets that protected Fear Cape from such an assault were torn apart from strafing runs from Barracudas.

“Fall back to the fleet,” Almorris ordered. “Now. We’ll be torn apart out here.”

The order was relayed, the Angelum turning away as Fear Cape died, still being ripped apart by the Tau guns. It made a beeline towards the Imperial fleet once more, hoping that it could slip past the Hero class cruisers, but even as it began to flee the Tau ships began to turn upon it, their weapons blazing as they faced it.

“More power to the shields,” Almorris ordered. “All we need to do is outrun them, not outfight them.”

Warnings came in that the Angelum’s shields were struggling against the volume, and despite himself, Almorris murmured a prayer to the Emperor for some aid.

Whether it was through some divine intervention or just the wisdom of its captain, the Lunar Class cruiser Domitian answered his pleas, hitting the rear of the Heroes seemingly from nowhere. The captain voxed in advising Almorris to fall back to where the Octavian, the Shattered Heart and the Repeated Stanza were regrouping, but Almorris drew the Angelum up behind the Domitian, sending fire from her lance batteries towards the enemy fleet and calling for the Domitian to regroup. Swiftly, the two ships pepper-potted away from the foe, covering each other as they retreated back to friendly lines.

“This is Brother-Captain Almorris,” the Astartes voxed as they reached the edges of the fleet. “We need to fall back to Tharamark now, a fighting retreat.”

“That can’t be done, Brother-Captain,” another voice came in from the Shattered Heart; the ship’s captain, Oberwald. “Douglas and his men are still out there.”

“If we stay here, we’ll be overwhelmed and all of us will be slaughtered,” Almorris replied. “We need to fall back now.”

“I can’t do that,” Oberwald said. “I am sworn in the service of Lord Douglas and I won’t abandon him.”

“Captain Oberwald, my authority supersedes yours, and unless we fall back right now none of us shall survive this engagement,” Almorris replied. “They shall have to work their own way back.”

“Very well, brother captain,” Oberwald said, an edge of chafing resentment on his voice. “The Heart shall fall back with the rest of you.”

“Good,” Almorris said. “All ships, this is a fighting retreat. We’re making our way back to Tharamark.”
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby Bod the inquisitor » Mon May 02, 2011 11:24 pm

This is a good read guys, only got as far as chapter 4 but am really enjoying it. Its a great idea and I like the way you've both got the between chapter interaction going. THe two chapters do seem to have different personalities and styles and its coming out very well.

Must say I'm a little jealous as I think you'e both found your astartes vocies, something I've not managed to do yet.
Ordos: Lectorformator

Enter my children,
Enter and join the betrayed,
Enter and leave the light,
Enter and forever join the ranks of the damned.

My latest effort: Useful Adversaries and Heart’s desire

Stories from my past
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Bod the inquisitor
 
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Re: Sons of the Fire [SM, collab]

Postby steffen19k » Thu May 26, 2011 7:25 pm

CLIFF HANGER!!!!! I HATE CLIFF HANGERS!!!

Seriously, why'd you guys stop??? This is going good!
Tanks: The greatest way to fight a war since the horse mounted cavalryman. Don't argue with me. You know its true. :P
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