Let me know what you think, and do comment & criticize as much as you can. I'm a big boy, I can take it.
Ethrion, hope this will form the basis of our next match up... great game btw.
As the last remnants of the Imperial defenders were cut down, the mortally wounded Lord Commissar Marcus Valerius laid face up, the grip on his power sword slowly relaxing. All around him was the relentless harmony of war playing out; the steady thumping sound of mass-reactive bolter rounds punching through the bodies of fleeing soldiers, chunks of masonry collapsing, blown off by auto-cannon shells and krak missiles, the moans of pain coming from his men and the sound of his own dying, but still beating heart. In his last moments, Valerius replayed the event that had unfolded. However, despite the different strategic alternatives he thought of, the outcome, he knew in truth, would have been all but the same. He simply had lacked the resource and the ability to muster sufficient heavy artilleries as the call to arms was rushed and his men ill-prepared. As the noise around him began to dwindle out, he knew that death was coming to embrace him. Before blacking out into unconsciousness, the commissar picked out a distant sound which was not there a moment ago. It was the sound of engines roaring. Not the sound of lumbering battle-tanks or transport vehicles but the noise Valerius heard was higher pitched, like the sound of bikes.
Yes, death was indeed coming now, of that Valerius was sure.
It was unusual to see a Land-speeder cruise at such a confident but steady pace. Most of the lightly armored skimmers are usually seen arriving the warzone in daring maneuvers bordering showboating, the skill of the pilot being the best defense against enemy fire. The jet-black customized speeder did no such thing as it simply cruised towards the supposed direction of the artifact in a straight line. The Shield of Night shimmered faintly as Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing raced towards the objective with the aim to defend it from the enemy. The 2nd Company Master’s mission in theory was no different from the countless other engagements he led prior. Primarily a reconnaissance force, the Ravenwings’ role was to locate an objective and buy as much time as possible while their brethrens from the inner-circle teleported to their location and deliver the killing blow. In truth, yes it was a support function as the glory of victory was claimed mostly by the 1st Company, the Deathwing. It was not something that concerned Sammael, as he relished the sacred responsibilities bestowed upon him and had always accepted his place within the Chapter with grace and humility. Besides, the Ravenwing Master would never consider abandoning his armored steed in place of a suit of Terminator armor. His battle brothers from the V Legion had suggested one time that Sammael should consider repainting his armor ceramite white and fight alongside them in the name of Jaghatai Khan. Sammael smiled and shook his head as he recalled the conversation. It was an honor of course, as the White Scars were some of the finest warriors the Emperor had created. But in his heart, and never a doubt, the Lion was where his loyalty stood. Sammael knew of his duties clearly and he will never yield nor rest until every last one of the fallen was found and made to repent for their treacherous sins.
A squadron of Ravenwing bikers followed closely behind their master and exhibiting maneuvering skills only their battle brothers of the White Scar chapter could have matched, they banked a sharp right and scouted ahead to support Sammael.
Tactical Squad sergeant Hadariel, from the 3rd Battle Company divided the Astartes under his command into two five-man combat squads. One of which took up position in the second-storey of a ruined building in the Dark Angel’s eastern flank, providing some heavy firing support in the form of the much feared plasma-cannon. Hadariel led the other squad from the west, taking cover behind some haphazard sandbags thrown together during the previous stoic defense by the Imperial army against the Thousand Sons. The sergeant was armed with a plasma pistol along with his trusted chain-sword, the Traitor’s Bane while one of his marines was armed with a plasma gun.
A Ravenwing Tornado-patterned Land-speeder flanked the Sergeant and his squad, providing them with some much needed anti-infantry supporting fire.
Across the desolate ash-world, the enemy marched to war. Their purpose: a rumored relic which may hold the key to the black library and an end to Ahriman’s quest for unlocking the secrets of the immaterium. Squads of Rubric Marines relentlessly advanced towards the 1st Legion, their vision slit radiated an ethereal glow that seemed to intensify as their distance from the relic closed in, almost reanimating the lost souls contained within their armor. Supporting the Thousand Sons were hulking abominations known to the Imperium only as Obliterators. Their sight was abhorrent to behold. The brutes never remained stationary in form, as they were a blend of Cataphractii-like battle plates mingled together with sinewy flesh that were wet, pinkish and raw. Massive heavy weaponry protruded from their maws, torsos and shoulders resembling a semi-organic mobile defensive tower brandished with guns.
As if the Obliterators did not provide enough fire-power, the monstrous form of a Chaos Decimator strode behind the XV Legion main battle line. From across the battlefield, one can easily confuse the behemoth as a dreadnought. If only it was so. The daemonic engine of death dwarfed the Thousand Sons, the tortured souls trapped within its hull screaming, laughing and weeping all at once. The Decimator welded two enormous storm-laser cannons that can punch clean through Astartes power armor, and like the rest of the army was a dedicated servant to Tzeentch.
Master Belial and his unit of Deathwing terminators materialized into reality, tracking the location of his Ravenwing brothers perfectly as the teleport homing devices fitted onto each bike provided the 1st Company with their exact coordinates. They quickly took cover near a blasted bunker, and when they were out of the enemy’s direct line of fire, a familiar voice came through Belial’s private vox-channel. ‘Glad to see you and your squad arriving in one piece, Master Belial,’ said the Ravenwing commander.
‘My brothers and I are ever so grateful for your impeccable timing, Master Sammael,’ replied the Deathwing master.
Brushing aside the compliment, Sammael responded, ‘One of these days, you will end up inside a wall. I will never comprehend how you and your Deathwings can tolerate, let alone embrace teleportation as a mean of transportation.’
‘Not likely, at least not as long as the 2nd Company is under your watch,’ Belial answered. ‘Besides, how else are my Deathwings supposed to come to your aide and save your arse? The Caliban’s Hammer is in the servicing hands of the Techmarines, or did you not remember those foul xenos we encountered in the Judicus system? Or do you suggest we ride to war on bikes just like your Ravens, brother?’
Both the commanders laughed at the ridiculous notion of Astartes in terminator armor mounting on bikes. Their brief moment of camaraderie abruptly ended as brother Ephrial, the trusted gunner that always accompanied Sammael whenever he took to war aboard his Land-speeder let off the first shot. Round after round of heavy bolter and assault cannon shells were fired at a squad of Chosens advancing towards the opposite side of the bunker that Belial and his squad was taking cover in. Two of them were blasted off their feet under the tremendous fusillade of fire.
With first blood going to the Ravenwing Master, Veteran battle brother Isfareal took aim at the monstrous form of the Decimator and fired a salvo of krak missiles from his cyclone launcher. The impact rocked the daemonic war engine backwards and the Ravenwing attack bike took advantage of the situation and let off a shot from the side-car mounted multi-melta. The heat weapon blasted a massive hole through the brute’s hull and it staggered further back, stunning the hellish creation for the moment.
The grotesque form of the Obliterators retaliated by aiming their heavy weaponry directly at Sammael. The skilled rider jinked his Land-speeder away from the deadly barrage of fire with such instinctive reflex it was almost as if he had the foresight of Brother Corbulo from the IX Legion. However, two brothers from the attack squadron supporting him were not as quick in their evasive maneuvers and were vaporized by the psychic assault let off by the Chosens.
The intensity of the conflict heightened around the location of the relic and it was a sight to behold Belial and Sammael together in unison. The two commanders cannot be anymore apart in form. While the Deathwing Master hurled himself into bloody melee against the Thousand Sons, swinging his crackling thunder-hammer in figure-of-eight motions before smashing the Rubric marines apart with each strike, the Ravenwing lord provided cover fire onboard his personalized Land-speeder. Each kill was executed with incredible precision, and within a minute, Belial found himself standing alone on top the ruined bunker. He tapped on the vox-bead positioned in the neck-ring of his armor and spoke into it. ‘Sergeant Vardus, were you successful in locating the artifact?’
‘Negative, Master Belial. As soon as we were meters away from the objective, as indicated by the auspex scanner, the signal faded and disappeared,’ replied the Deathwing sergeant.
At that instance, Tactical Sergeant Hadariel shot a Rubric marine point-blank with his plasma pistol before eviscerated a second with Traitor’s Bane, the Mk.V battle plates split open and grey, ashen dust poured forth from the wound. After finishing the job, Hadariel communicated through the open vox channel and said, ‘Master Sammael and Master Belial, there’s something you need to know.’
‘What is the matter, Sergeant Hadariel?’ responded Sammael.
‘I cannot say for certain but the Rubrics seem to be weakening, as if they are shutting down. I believe that this engagement may have been a decoy. It’s plausible that these traitorous bastards used the Imperial army to lure us into this ruined capitol city…’
To be continued