It has been a year since the defeat of Hive Fleet Kraken on Ichar IV and longer since the Scythes of the Emperor were left broken and homeless. Their chapter all but extinct, their home planet all but ruin, and their warriors left with mixed feelings.
Newly promoted Captain Callius moved down the corridors of the Battle Barge, “The Heart of Sotha” on his way to the bridge. He took pause on his way there, stopping off at one of the massive observation chambers the ship had. He proceeded in to the center of the room, stopping in front of a massive obsidian colored monument.
The monument was a smooth stone wall, no taller then that of what a neophyte could reach easily. Upon its surface hundreds of names were inscribed in gold print, each name one of those that fell against Hive Fleet Kraken. Flanking the wall on both side placing a hand against one name in particular the Captain bowed his head for a moment.</SPAN>
Removing his hand he left the chamber, proceeding along his way to the bridge. Aside from the normal command staff of the bridge there was also a pair of figures he recognized though out of place. The Chapter Master and former company commander and the Master of Sanctity, the head of the chapter’s Chaplains but also one of only two that have survived.</SPAN>
“Captain Callius, we have a matter of great importance for you to attend to with your Salvation Team.” The Chaplain began. Following his pause Chapter Master spoke up, “One that could determine the chapter’s survival…”
The members of the 16th Salvation Team were prepared. Callius and his team were locked into the harnesses of the drop pod as The Heart of Sotha approached the proper orbital path to safely let its cargo go. Everyone of the team’s marines was briefed on the mission. A distress call was detected on a barren moon within the subsector. A distress call from a beacon belonging to that of Emperor Scythes. The team was to drop onto the planet, secure the beacon’s site, and search for survivers. It was believed that the site was that of a downed Strike Cruiser, “Absolute Wrath” which was last seen in the Battle for Sotha.
Sent ahead, a scout squad was sent recon the target after finding a suitable drop location. The squad voxed back the coordinates of a drop zone however the last message received was that of them approaching target site of the Salvation Team’s mission.</SPAN>
With the proper orbit achieved a vox call went out to the occupants of the drop pods warning them of the drop within seconds of the event. The single pod shot off from the Battle Barge with a shudder. Seconds later the pod slammed into the moon’s surface, its doors dropping down and Callius rushing out along with members of the 16th Team. The Captain was scanning the perimeter when the first shots rang out.</SPAN>
A brother marine had fallen, a Genestealer ripping at his armor as more then two dozen others began to rush at the pod and the emerged occupants. The auto-senses on the drop pod detected the xenos presence opened fire on the pack of aliens with the storm bolter as members of the squad began reacting as trained. Quickly after two more brother’s fell, and Callius himself found himself fending off the Tyranids with his Powersword.
A Genestealer blindsided the captain, leaping with four claws extended, airborne for a second before crashing down in a spray of ichor. Its squeal was drowned by the whirring of the chainsword that cleaved its nearest limbs. Sergeant Anduron threw his shoulder forward with the charge and slammed the remains of the beast away. His pistol was ready in the other hand and as he cleared the body of his fallen Brother Damocus he squeezed the trigger once, twice, a third time. The rocket-propelled shells shattered the elbow, spine and collar of the next Genestealer.
He had reached the body of Brother Pallisane when the third Xenos leapt, quicker than a heartbeat, and barely had time to turn into the lunge. The Genestealer crashed against him and the chainsword snarled as it tore into its ribcage. But the monster's hands still gripped the Space Marine and its upper claws, in their death-grip, began to slice through his armour. A long tongue flicked out to spatter hot and foetid drool across his helmet.
He was losing balance. The chainsword was jammed. The claws were almost to his flesh.
Twisting, Anduron brought his pistol square and fired, the bolt shell exploding between them at the instant he reversed the chainsword. Man and beast were separated in a shower of gore and fragments, the Marine reeling with a smoking breastplate.
But only for second.
He had lost his pistol in the exchange, and he was forced to ram his chainsword into the torso of the first Genestealer that thrashed on the ground behind him. Dropping to one knee, the Sergeant unslung his boltgun and took aim at the charging horde, his rasping voice roaring above the noise of the drop pod.
Adom landed a second later than the Sargent. Leaping from his drop pod, his battle instincts took over. He spied the Sargent aiding the Captain. Running straight for the Sargent's back, a Genestealer barred it's teeth and screamed. Adom reacted quickly, gripping his bolter tight and unloading two rounds, one through the body of the beast and one through its head. As the first bolt thrashed through the Genestealer's body, the beast wouldn't stop running, however when the second bolt connected with the Genestealer's skull, it caused a terrific display of slimy mist when it exited the opposite side of the beast's head.
One down... Adom thought to himself. He liked to keep track of his kills in battle. It helped him stay calm and collected.
Another beast found its way onto the Sargent. It didn't look good for the Sargent, as his chainsword locked up. Adom contemplated taking a dangerous shot in order to save his leader, but before he could react, the Sargent showed why he was one of the best. The Sargent brought his pistol up, and the once locked chainsword started roaring again as the Sargent fired a bolt. It was a wonderful tactic, using the reverse mechanism on a chainsword along with a blast from a bolt shell to rid yourself of a pesky grapple, not many could hold on after that. Adom was truly proud to serve under this fine soldier.
"FIRING LINE, ON ME!"
The Sargent's orders rang out clear as crystal through the chaos. "Yes sir!" Adom yelled as he rushed over to his Sargent and the Captain. He slid down to a knee, holding his bolter steady as he fired three more rounds at the approaching horde. Two of the shots connected. One ripped through a Genestealer's rib cage, the other blew off another beast's upper claw. The carnage was only just beginning.
The renewed xeno rush on Anduron was cut off as a sheet of burning promethium erupted from the sergeant's right target as with slow precision Crion turned the flamer leaving a wall of flame, white hot even on the airless moon. He paused watching the genestealers hurtle towards them regardless of the flames, their flesh withering and bones cracking, but they knew no fear.
"Then don't die easily." he said as another broke through Anduron's and Adon's fire and he met it with the full attention of the flamer it's blackened corpse falling just short of then making a small popping sound. He turned his attention back on the hoard. They had landed in the thick of things and with the drop pod's storm bolter aiding to keep the hoard in check it seemed they might be able to push the enemy back.
Another broke through and leaped at Crion perhaps hoping to take the flamer out of the battle or perhaps acting out of instinct, this time however the marine wasn't fast enough to prevent it reaching him and it's claws wrapped around his flamer as the beast's maw filled his vision. His offhand staying on the flamer his right pulled his knife free and as the creature's claws tore rents into his chest plate the genestealer trying to bite ay his thoat he stabbed the blade into the shoulder joint and twisted the blade sliding between and forcing apart the bones loosening it's hold and allowing his to wrench it free. At point blank range the flamer disintegrated the beast and Crion cursed, he was usually more careful than that.
As the dust from the drops pods began to settle, the silhouette of a figure standing a good head taller than the rest emerged from one of the pods. "No, they don't die easily, Crion. But neither do we." Soon as the figure finished speaking, the dust was torn apart, and a deafening roar was heard as Brother Marric Regulos unleashed both fury and hate from his trusty Heavy Bolter, name "The Vengeance of Sotha". As the dust finally cleared, it revealed the added height of the figure to be an ammo pack, full of heavy bolter shells. At his waist were two 40 round high capacity box magazines, each loaded with hellfire rounds, reserved for "that special occassion", as Regulos put it. His left arm , replaced my cybernetics, creaked as it absorbed the massive recoil of the mammoth gun. Beneath his scarred helmet a manic grin spread across the marine's face as he cut down row after row of xenos bug body, leaving not corpses in the wake of his fire, but limbs and pieces. In his mind, Regulos was back on Sotha, or was it Miral?, trying to hold the line against an enemy of incalculable numbers, one arm missing, the black of his armor so drenched with the blood of his brothers that it had long since been stained red. And then he was back, among his brothers again, facing down a smaller but no less deadly swarm.
Miras Broke through the fog and into the Din of battle. the Xenos were upon them, and time was of the essence, Even as the Sergeant bellowed his order, Miras Verenicus, Veteran tactical marine moved to fill the formation, his storm bolter firing in short, deadly bursts, filthy multilimbed creatures exploding in showers of ichor as their chestplates, heads or forelimbs were blown off by the heavy calibre rounds.
"We are with you Brother Sergeant" he voxed, as a Genestealer that had nearly torn his head clean off leaped at him again.
he kicked the creature back and eviscerated it with a shower of shells, before extending an arm to Crion
"On your feet brother" he voxed with a hint of dry amusement, his stormbolter extending in one arm, still firing at oncoming 'stealers.
"Vengeance for Sotha and Miral brothers! for the Emperor!" Miras roared as he pulled Crion to his feet and let loose a particularly heavy burst of bolterfire, his armored gauntlets rapidly detaching the now empty magazine and slamming a fresh one home.
The remaining Genestealers mixed themselves between overwhleming the pod and attempting to charge the firing line. Half of the remained had charged the squad, being gunned downed as high explosive rockets found their way into the hides of the beast. Those that charged the pod instead were more fortunate. One left and pulled Brother Sheol under it, hacking with it's claws and trying to find a chink in the marine's armor. Two went down in a hail of bolts from the pod's stormbolter but those few that got through tore it from it's mounting, ripping machine part from part before turning it's attention towards those marines that stood.
Callius had been on the firing line with the other marines, firing away at the genestealers. An alert sounded off in his helmet, and he shifted in the direction the built in auspex showed movement. A small group of the xenos were looping around to flank them, no more then four lead by the brood lord. "Sergeant, Xenos attempting to flank. Relocate you and your squad to that outcropping." He said into his vox caster as he began to move to a better firing position himself.
Damocus, Pallisane and Lesades were lost, and Sheol had yet to evacuate the overrun drop pod. Emperor willing, the Captain would get him out of there.
Anduron had four brothers with him - enough for a combat squad - enough for tactics to still count for something in the chaos of this melee. The sergeant's voice roared out amid the bark of gunfire and squeals. "Fall back, Pattern Delta!"
The squad snapped into line, moving backwards with steady steps. They had drilled the manouevre a thousand times. Adom and Miras would lay down a steady rate of bolter fire whilst Crion cleansed the near flank. And after every six steps they would halt to let Regulous lay down the heavy wrath. With this they would back out of the closing jaws of the genestealer ambush.
"Move!" The sergeant began the withdrawal with his bolter blasting. He stepped back, over the rocks and the bodies of the fallen beasts, towards the outcrop the captain had signalled. To their left the horde kept coming, straight into Crion's fire, whilst to the right the drop pod was being swarmed.
They were backing out of the pincers, maintaining the arc of fire that would ensure them victory...
"Thank you Miras." Was all he could to to repay the brother who had just saved his life. The ambush was working, with the stormbolter out of action they would soon be fighting back to back in a circle until they were dragged under by the xeno tide.
Pattern delta.. his movements were fluid and automatic as he took position as the end of the line and began giving ground step by step to the enemy. If the coffin and the following conflicts had taught him anything, it was breaking formation now would spell his death, and make life for those at his shoulders all the shorter as well, but then..
"Sergeant, Shoel is alive." Crion watched the marine struggle against the beast on top of him, Adom, Miras provide what covering fire you can..." there were too many and Crion would not charge to a fruitless rescue it seemed Shoel's salvation was up to himself, and the Emperor.
Bolt after bolt blasted out towards the crushing horde. The bolts flew, spread wildly, but with precision. No doubt a couple bolts pierced some genestealer limbs. It was the end of the first salvo now, and Adom fell to the ground, awaiting the deadly barrage from Regulous. It should be a splendid sight of justice for our fallen comrades.
Adom kept a close eye out for any possible flanking genestealers. Then he saw it. One broke off from the horde and began a flanking maneuver. From the ground, Adom fired five bolts at the running foe. Three of them whizzed by the beast, two hit their mark, shredding through the beast's torso, slowing him down none at all...
"Flank Incoming! 3 'o Clock!"
Adom would fire a few more bolts, only one hitting the beast, failing to stop it again.
Alone, cut off from his squad and, surrounded by Tyrranids, it was a situation Sheol had been in far too many times for his liking.
Less still was having a Tyrranid on top of him, he drew his combat blade and with practiced skill, placed the blade between the creatures ribs, piercing it's heart and killing it almost instantly.
"These beasts will have to try harder than that."
He took a second one out with a sharp kick upward into it's pelvis, before standing and putting it out of it's miserey with a bolt shell to it's skull. The third with another kick, this time catching the beasts skull between his Sabaton and the side of the Drop Pod.
He snapped off bolter shots as he left, leaving a small surprise carefully tucked away in an alcove of the Pod now swarming with Tyrranids. A melta bomb, placed near the drop pod's plasma fuel core. He sent a Krak Grenade into a gene stealer's mouth to buy him enough time to catch up. Sprinting as fast as his legs would carry him, Sheol managed to catch up with the rest of Squad Anduron.
"Emperor willing, these Xenos will take the hint after this"
He pulled a detonator from his belt took his position in formation beside his brothers and rested his bolter over his wrist, allowing him to keep his hand on the detonator trigger. He waited until his Captain was free of the xenos, before pressing the trigger on his detonator, and letting the flames of The Emperor's fury consume the Xenos.
Captain Callius moved right after the pinned marine had freed himself. He berralled from the initial fire zone towards the Broodlord's group, emptying his pistol into the beast's Genestealer escorts. Droping his pistol nearly there he lept at the beast with a roar. The remaining Genestealers continued along their path, rushing the squad as their master turned to face Callius.
The creature brought his claws up in time to stop the first blow from cleaving him in two, losing half of it in the process. The beast let out a chilled hiss in pain as it swung the other at Callius, knocking him to one side and rending sections of his armor. As he began to stand the creature let out a feral howl, leaping that the Captain head on immedatly after. The Captain, thinking quickly, thrust his sword foward as if it were a spear against a charging horse, the blade digging deep into the torso of the beast before ripping out it's back. Behind him the drop pod behind him lit up in a magnificent explosion of flame and fusion.
Twisting his blade, he pulled it free and looked down to his armor where the beast's talons had given one final insult. While his armor had stopped one of the scythe like blades from penatrating, the other was sucessful and he could see the bright red pouring from the wound, coating the yellow of his armor. Soon though his enhanced body would stop the bleeding, but there was still work to do. He began rushing back to the rest of the team right as the remaining Genestealers rushed the flank of Anduron's squad.
Anduron saw the flamer sputter, Crion's fuel tank running dry. And as the Marine reached for his reload the Genestealers came leaping through the smoke and over the charred remains of their broodkin. The Sergeant yelled as he saw the first shadow fall over Crion, and with a sneer he unloaded his bolter clip, pumping five shells into the creature before it could reach the Special Weapons Marine.
Their flank was exposed. As his own bolter ran dry, Anduron sent it flying at the next beast and struck it square between the eyes, knocking it away. He followed up, not missing a beat, and drew his chainsword again. It came to life as he made a massive swing, cutting through the abdomen of the next leaping Genestealer. It showered a half of his armour in gore, but he kept moving, taking the flank as Crion reloaded.
His bolt pistol was out next and he blew apart the skull of the fourth beast, its body dropping to reveal the distant sight of the Captain duelling the Broodlord.
"GIVE HIM COVER!" the Sergeant roared as his squad shifted their arcs of fire around him.
"Sergeant." Crion yelled to get Anduron's attention his hand flying to his own bolt pistol and with a toss sent it sailing through the short distance between them, then with the hiss of pressurized promethium he twisted the fresh tank home. A sheet of flames rushed into the hoard. Under the renewed attack their numbers began to thin and the squad was able to make headway as many of the brood diverted to going the battle with the captain.
Thats when he saw it, a grotto where it appeared most of the genestealeres where coming from. A rough hole in the ground surrounded by lose bounders and rubble. An Idea came to him and a second later a grenade was soaring though the air, if he could at least partially block the opening it would limit the number of xenos they had to deal with considerably.