There once was a man of the Reik,
Who oft found a girl to his like,
He fondled their tresses,
Said ten "Hail Slaaneshes!"
And was gutted by Witchhunter Mike!
And so I am getting the game shipped to me! WOOT!
There once was a man of the Reik,
Who oft found a girl to his like,
He fondled their tresses,
Said ten "Hail Slaaneshes!"
And was gutted by Witchhunter Mike!
"It seems the Sisters have not forgotten Armageddon, Brother-Sergeant. They hound us at every step."
"They seem to know our objective, Brother Chaplain. Their agents must be very well informed. Not that their information will help them. If they but knew our true cause, they would likely join us." Brother Sergeant Lucius's auto-senses tracked the heat-bloom coming off of the sister's lead Immolater. The rest of the Sisters milled about in the pre-dawn gloom, taking positions covering the impact crater.
It had been several years since Chaplain Odio found the tome that led them on the quest to recover the mortal artifacts of Angaron. If the Liber di Furia Inumana could be believed, then the gathered items they found could banish Angaron into the Immaterium forever.
"I doubt that highly, Lucius. The Ecclesiarchs are a prickly lot. If they are even aware of our quest, I doubt it would matter. They see us as tainted, no matter what." He sighed as he watched the Sisters take the high ground far in the distance. "It is time we teach them a lesson. Release the Annointed Ones from their chains. They could do with a hunt."
Odio tightend his grip on his Crozius, it's spiked head arcing with energy in response to the sudden rage that gripped him. Odio turned to the Fourth Company, his Brothers in Arms.
"Once more, we are opposed by those that would keep us from our quest. Once more, we must fight and spill blood for what we know to be true. The skull of the last victim of Angaron as a mortal man awaits us in that crater. The Skull Last Taken will be ours, Brothers! We attack at dawn! None shall stand against us! BLOOD IN HIS NAME!"
"BLOOD IN HIS NAME!"
As one, the Flesh Tearers advanced....
Sgt. Thracius watched his bolter round enter the renegade’s eye. With grim satisfaction, he watched the World Eater’s head explode like a rotten gourd. The gore-soaked giant collapsed, crushing some of the rebel factory workers underneath his bulk.
Sgt. Thracius turned to face his next foe, as the battle raged around him. Blood stained the robes that marked him as member of the Inner Circle. His Dark Angel Brethren had traveled to this factory to hunt down one of the Fallen Angels, and had instead fallen into his trap. The approach to the factory showed the glorious icons of Imperial industry had been torn down or smashed asunder, and had been replaced with runes which burned the eye to look at them. The skull rune of the Blood God had been carved into the head of the Immortal Emperor, incensing the patrol as their rhinos approached the twisted ruins of the factory. Thracius urged caution, and spoke of signs of the enemy in the rubble. The cultists they saw were twisted, stunted parodies of men, clothed in the skin of those who had remained loyal to the Emperor. Bearing an assortment of autoguns, las pistols and crude hand to hand weapons, they were easy prey for the even this small patrol of Astartes. But even this small coven could lead to information regarding this renegade leader, known only as “The Angel of Slaughter”. They could not risk this possible Fallen to escape.
All had gone as planned. Small arms fire pinged off the Rhino’s hide on the approach, representing very little threat. A cultist bearing a grenade launcher, seemingly the heaviest weapon amongst their force, was picked off at range by the more accurate fire of the second squad. The Rhinos gained entry to the compound virtually unopposed. Sgt. Thracius and his battle brothers poured forth from the Rhinos, bolters spitting death. The cultists charged unheeding into the massed fire power, but gained no ground. All seemed to be going their way until Sgt. Thracius heard the throaty roar of chain weapons starting. From concealed positions, eight crimson armored forms rose to join battle. Cleaving through their own followers to better get at the Dark Angels, the World Eaters made their way to join the combat.
All was bedlam for several minutes. The swirl and rush of combat overtook them. Sgt. Thracius’s close encounter made him realize that their positions were untenable. The World Eaters were pressing too hard, and the cultists were cutting off any chance of escape. The Unending Duty, high in orbit, could not be reached, and neither could their Ravenwing patrol. All would be lost if they did not fall back soon.
It was then that Thracius heard the clap of thunder. “Three drop pods on an approach vector, Brother-Sgt.” That brief message confirmed the worst of Thracius’s suspicions. More of the Enemy were coming. He made the only order which made sense.
“Return to the Rhinos, Brothers! We must fall back! Grab your fallen Brothers! No one is left behind!”
At that moment the drop pods slammed home, sending a shock wave through the battle. All was silent for a split second. Then the explosive bolts holding the drop pod doors fired. Red-armored marines poured forth from the pods, armed for close combat, and all seemed lost.
That was until the newcomers fired into the cultists. A scream of “Blood! Blood in His Name!” carried over the din of battle as the newcomers launched themselves into the cultists. Ten of them were armored in white, covered in saltaires of crimson. Those armored so seemed unstoppable, taking fire that would level a grox. As a force, they moved through the foe like a scythe.
“I don’t know who they are, Brothers, but kill the rebels!” The Dark Angels redoubled their fire, slaughtering the cultists. They watched in mute horror as the newcomers rent and tore the foe with chain-axe, combat knives, and even bare hands. Soon, even the Berserkers fell to the warriors in white. What few cultists remained fled to the hills when they saw their benefactors fall. The white armored marines turned to follow them, breaking spines, crushing skulls and rending limbs in a display of unmatched savagery.
The Dark Angels stood, bolters at the ready, and watched the newcomers. A black armored form marched forward, a skull mask marking him as a chaplain. Is this some trick of the Fallen?, thought Sgt Thracius. His Crozius is more of a cudgel than a symbol of devotion. The chaplain raised his hands in salute, and reached up to break the air-seals of his helm.
“Well met, Brothers of the Dark Angels! I am sorry for the lack of warning, but you did not seem to be on the standard frequencies. And there is the matter of the jamming that seems to be taking place.” He seemed normal, a bit pale and gaunt perhaps, but free of taint. “I am Brother-Chaplain Lucius, of the 4th Company of the Fleshtearers. I would speak to your commander, if possible. We may have common cause.”
Why now? These blasted interlopers will ruin the hunt! But Sgt. Thracius could not refuse without drawing suspicion. “I am Brother-Sgt. Thracius, 4th company, 2nd squad, leader of this patrol. Brother-Epistolatory Praxilus is not here. I will vox him to let him know of your desire to meet. But we have little time for conferances. These covens demand to be purged. If a meeting can be done, he will let me know.”
“That is all I can ask.”
The Sgt. watched as Brother Librarian Praxilus strode away from the meeting with the Fleshtearer command. Suspicious eyes watched as the battle-scarred craft closed its ramps and began to lift skyward.
The robes of his fellow Inner Circle members moved in the winds created from the other chapter’s Thunderhawk lifting into the sky. “Brothers, I need not tell you that this is a critical moment” began Praxilus. “I have spoken with this Chaplain Lucius. And he targets the same renegade that we do, for reasons unrelated to our quest. Indeed, he is of the mind that this “Angel of Slaughter” is a renegade from his own Chapter, or of his parent Chapter. He does not know anything of the Fallen, and that should remain so if we remain vigilant. Indeed, the Emperor’s Tarot predicted a great challenge ahead of us; forces gather the likes of which we have never seen. Ordinarily, I would not do this, but our casualties have been great. The Enemy was prepared, and though we could find the Fallen, we would not be able to guarantee our success. With them, we can prevail. Without them... who can say?”
With this, Sgt. Thracius grinned. “Better to have hounds to flush our prey. Should they learn too much, who will doubt us when we say they went mad, and had to be put down? Their reputation is our leash, and our weapon.”
“Brother Lucius! We have left the atmosphere. Docking with the Righteous Fury in 30.”
“Well done as always, Brother Gregor. Keep scanning for anything unusual.”
“Ave, Brother…” A pause. And then the question, “Brother, these Dark Angels, what do you make of them? Do you trust them?”
“I do not trust them, Gregor. But I trust I know what they will do. They seek our fallen Brother for some reason, I dare not ask what. As long as this ‘Angel’ has the axe we seek; I care not. Just be on guard. I don’t wish to be lost in an ‘accident’ if we step on our Brother’s robes once too often. The Sons of el’Johnson were ever peevish regarding their secrets. In fact, we should probably sensor sweep this Thunderhawk as soon as we return. Still, we need them as much as they need us…”
Captain Sorin rested his aching back against the interior of Katya’s hull. His overcoat hung open, and his view out Katya’s open ramp was painted in shades of grey. The weak light of Quentin III’s sun struggled manfully to break the cloud cover, but it was wasted effort. Not even the mud on this sump hole has color. Sorin fumbled for his lho sticks, finding them stowed in his dry inner pocket. He began to pull them out, unthinking. Light discipline! I can’t smoke these. He shoved them back, disgusted.
“Pardon me saying so, Captain, but you’re better off quitting those things.” The voice was only a mild rebuke, but it startled the newly minted Captain just the same. He turned to face the company’s Commissar, who was rounding the bend, an easy smile on a face framed by a crisp salute.
A relieved smile lit up Sorin’s eyes, glad for the distraction. He stepped out of his chimera’s hull, his hand brushing the worn aquilla just inside Katya’s entrance.“Actually, Commissar Price, I was reaching for my pistol to shoot you myself. I thought it a mercy to relieve you from this tropical nightmare that we’ve landed ourselves in. It must be at least ten degrees above freezing. Walk with me, I’d like to hear your morale report.”
Price nodded, his smile still in place. “I’d hardly call ten degrees above freezing ‘tropical’, Captain.” Price fell in with Sorin, and they toured the company’s section of the line, noting the men’s dug-in defenses. “The men are ready for the Eldar’s next push. Casualties were light, mostly from sniper fire. They have been at prayer, and they seem in good spirits.”
“I wish I shared their optimism. These Eldar have been like ghosts. I keep feeling like we’ve got them, and then they melt away like salted snow. It’s been two months of hunting on this hell pit, and we’re still no closer to pinning them down. At least winter is coming. I might actually have to buckle my coat.”
Price could see the strain on Sorin’s face. “The men are up to the task, Captain. I begin to wonder if the Captain is ready for it.” Sorin turned as if he had been slapped. “What the ipac are you talking about, Commissar?”
“My lapels, Sorin. You’re wrinkling them.” Sorin looked down; his hands had grasped the Commissar’s own greatcoat unbidden. Sorin released the other man swiftly, as if he was a scalding pipe. The men who had turned to watch them found sudden interest in their prayers and cleansing rituals for their lasguns.
Price seemed unflustered despite his wrinkled clothing. “Let me repeat, Captain. If there is a problem with this regiment, it is you. The men respect you, General Zedowsky certainly had faith in you.” Price stepped in close, closer than was comfortable for Sorin. “You’re afraid of losing a single one of them, Captain. And for that, you might lose all of them. It’s the peril of raising one from inside the ranks. You’re too connected to the idea of the 42nd as they were under the General’s command. Losses will occur, Sorin. There’s nothing fair about it, and it will come to rest unquietly on your shoulders. But rest assured that High Command, and thus the Commissariat, is unconcerned with your mental health.”
“I can’t just send them into the meat grinder again and again. To do so is a waste of the Emperor’s resources”
“And yet you must. If it means victory, you must be ready to sacrifice them to the man. Not heedlessly, certainly, but blood shed in His Name is the ink that writes the accounts of our victory. But don’t worry, Sorin. I did secure something for the company that might help you overcome your problem.”
Only then did Sorin note the truck pulling up. Full of men in filthy orange jump fatigues, it could mean one thing.
“Yes, Captain. Think of them as training wheels…”
“...It is here, aboard Hope's Refuge, that we meet our end.”
The sound of the bolter round echoed around the small chapel, its doors bound in this world and the other, the first by the finest locks, and the second by the hexagramatic wards that burned in the eyes of those with the sight. A second bolter round was heard, followed by the slam of meat hitting cold steel, and then, all was silence. Three figures watched the horrors that had unfolded with surgical detachment, the glare from the hololith illuminating them with its harsh light.
“Turn the recording off, Charles. Destroy the 'lith. Take all the standard precautions.”
“Yes, your Holiness.”
Even though Charles had been in Inquisitor Kranz’s service for years, the sight of the taint of Chaos so rampant still turned his acolyte's stomach. The ‘lith left nothing to the imagination. Watching the junior officer's transformation from man into plaything of the Diseased One had been bad enough for all three of them. But to see him take the ultimate step to salvation, and shoot himself not once, but twice... Well, that was a man of the Emperor to the last.
Tech Priest Wanohfour spoke aloud the Inquisitor's thoughts. “It was brave of the organic to terminate functions before the onset of Final Stage Warp Necrophage Majoris. Reanimatic possessions are difficult to terminate.”
Kranz turned a wry eye to his red-robed companion. “Nurgle's Rot can be a bit of trouble, yes.” The Techpriest, for all her bluster about organics, still made the sign of the Machine God with her mechandrites when he mentioned the Lord of Plague by name. “Hope's Refuge was hospital ship in the Segmentum Pacificus, in support of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade, correct?”
“Yes, Inquisitor Kranz. It was lost to the Emperor's Light during a warp jump. We originally believed that there were saboteurs on board, who interfered with the Gellar fields. In light of this new evidence, it is my supposition that WMN and an unwitting carrier are a more likely culprit.”
“We've seen this before. The Rot spreads and infects not only its passengers, but the ship itself. The ship will have wards of succor, but given such repeated exposure...”
“Yes, your Holiness. It is likely the Hope's Refuge itself has been tainted, stem to stern. The post-incident encounters with the ship have all been the same. An Imperial ship, off course and lost in the warp, takes damage and casualties, encounters the Refuge, who reports to be lost in the same Warp storm. All appears normal; though scan reports from that time offer evidence of danger. The crew must be beguiled by some unknown force to ignore them. The Officers and medical crew are drawn off, to who knows what fate, and then the Refuge attacks the leaderless and medically depleted ship. Boarding parties consist of Class 1, 3 and 5 Abominations who seem to seek more raw genetic material to infect. Named and known Abominations are known to frequent these attacks.”
“Spread word throughout the Sector. Reclassify the ship as the Hope's Demise, and alert the Commissariat that officers that do not take hostile action against the vessel are to terminated at will. Let them blow through a few clips until they find someone willing to draw up a firing solution. Order them to double the amount of purifying incense in the bridge of any vessel that finds itself operating alone...”
“So shall it be done, Lord Kranz. Now, I must anoint the hololith's memory buffers, lest any taint remain...”
“To have faith in times such as these is easy. Man is beset from all sides by the Xenos, the traitor. The Emperor is our only refuge. But what of those whose faith is tested? What of those who have been judged, found wanting, and still believe? There is no greater faith than those who hold true after being brought low.”
--Brother-Captain Lerato Vinerex, Master of the Fleet
+++Lexicanum Entry: Restricted, Vermilion Access+++
Thought for the day: An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded.
The Celestial Lions are a Space Marine Chapter created in the 38th millennium. They have a long and glorious history. Recently, the highly naive nature of the Chapter led them into conflict with the Inquisition.
During the event known as the Khattarn Insurrection, five companies of the Celestial Lions were attached to Inquisitor Apollyon in order to crush the ongoing revolt on the main planet, Khattar. The orbital defences were nothing to the Space Marines and they quickly landed on the planet, with virtually no opposition. As the campaign progressed and the number of prisoners increased, it became evident that this was no mere minor rebellion. Apparently the priesthood of Khattar had been corrupted and had led the leaders of the planet into the arms of Slaanesh. Local renegade Imperial Guard and Planetary Defence Force regiments were quickly defeated and within three months the rebellion was crushed. The detachment of the Celestial Lions boarded into their ships and left for their fortress monastery.
As the ships left orbit, the Imperial Navy, under orders of Inquisitor Apollyon, bombarded the planet, and obliterated the entire population of the planet. This action horrified the Celestial Lions who proceeded to condemn the Inquisitor. Captain Saul had attempted to halt the bombardment, but could not counter-order an Inquisitor. From then on, the Celestial Lions were highly vocal against the Inquisition, as it was unnecessary to destroy the planet. They sent a series of very loud and public condemnations against the Inquisition in general. A delegation of senior Chapter officers left for Terra to further their cause, but the ship never arrived. It was blown wildly off course by a freak warp storm, far into Ork territory. The wreckage was eventually found two years later, although this was not enough to deter the Celestial Lions, which kept demanding an investigation into the events surrounding the destruction of Khattar.
Their efforts, though valiant, were completely in vain. The Inquisition technically answers to no one but itself and the Emperor, intolerant of any outside pressure and criticism.
With the outbreak of the Third War for Armageddon, the entire chapter of the Celestial Lions dispatched was deployed to defend Hive Volcanus. They suffered horrendous casualties within months of arriving. The intelligence they received was horribly inaccurate and often led them into ambushes where they were outnumbered and outgunned. Some of the higher ranking officials began to suspect this was intentional, a ploy to wipe out the entire chapter, but nothing could be proven.
One particularly devastating battle was when four entire companies were wiped out in the Mannheim Gap by the combined forces of Warlord Thogfang's Gargant mob and the Razor Speed Freaks. Losses mounted and ended with a very well-coordinated attack on the Celestial Lions base camp.
This particular battle lasted for three hours. Hundreds of Marines fell to the overwhelming Ork forces. Sniper fire rained down from the mountain sides, relentlessly targeting the Apothecaries. Finally, a small company was able to break through the Ork lines and fight their way back to the Hive. Only ninety-six Marines survived and, to make matters worse, the last Apothecary took a bullet to the head within hours of arriving at the Hive. Their gene-seed lies unharvested on the surface of Armageddon and the remaining brothers have sworn to die alongside their fallen brothers, fighting to the last.
++END DOCUMENT/SECURE TERMINAL UPON PAIN OF DEATH+++
“It was true that we were thought to be doomed. But the Emperor saw us through that day. It is true that we are a shadow of what we once were, and that Armageddon was what broke us. But what is broken can heal. Is it not our burden as Space Marines to carry on, no matter the cost?”
--Brother Epistolary Marcus Alesius
It is whispered in some corners of the wide galaxy that one Apothecary was spared by the grace of the Emperor. Mortally wounded, he saw to his own internment in a dreadnought of the Third Company, Scipio’s Claw. Though nearly blinded by the pain, Brother Albus’s transformation from something more than man to something less than machine was accomplished. Though it pained them to do so, a large contingent of the Third Company smuggled themselves out of the ruins of Volcanus Hive, escaping with Albus to an awaiting Strike Cruiser.
Since then, those elements that survived the hell of Volcanus have rejoined their Battle Brothers. Though they are a shadow of their former glory, the Celestial Lions still keep the vows they made to uphold the will of the Emperor. They survive by the most tenuous of threads, but then again, what servant of the Emperor does not?