|01 Sep 2008, 12:54||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Entry K - Untitled
The Thunderhawks fell, and a cloak of raindrops glittered in their wake.
The three heavy gunships broke formation as they passed over the triumphal columns on the southeast wall of the city, peeling away toward their designated landing points. Even here, in the so-called Zone of Order, fires and weapon discharges reflected of the heat-resistant ceramite on the underbelly of the lead craft. Swinging lazily around a chamfered observation tower, a rain-slick landing port swung up to greet them. The purple livery of the Thunderhawk was a stark contrast to the pale greens and blues of its two kinsmen already touched down, sheltering beneath plastic canvas sheeting. It kissed the ground, retro-burners howling as the multi-ton gunship was brought to a halt.
The ramp descended as the welcoming party approached. Kept dry by a large parasol held aloft by servitors, a gilded figure flanked by storm troopers in bronze armour waited patiently as the visitors disembarked. The dignitary, Noble Horace of House Horace, fought the urge to twiddle his moustache. It was a compulsive habit, he did it to calm his nerves.
Clanging like the foot-falls of a god, a purple-armoured warrior stepped down onto the landing pad. Unarmed weaponry hung from his armour via mag-clamp, and a bionic eye mounted in his helmet shone a targeter-beam onto the mortals before him. When he spoke, his vox-augmented voice was deep and filled with malice.
“I am Brother-Captain Mathias, Master of the Eighth Company of the Marines of The Emperor’s Vengeance, hallowed angels of death in the service of mankind. We have answered summons to silence the insurrectionists on this world, and purge all heresy wherever it may be found.”
Horace’s face twitched. Staring into the glowing red eye on the Marine’s helmet was like staring down a gun barrel.
“We made summons, honourable Captain, but not to you. We merely requested additional Imperial Guard reinforcements, dogsbodies and grunts to hold the line. Such duties are… unsuitable for one such as yourself. I must apologise for the misunderstanding.”
Mathias stepped forward, once. His foot struck the wet tarmac with an oddly organic sound. Horace’s treacherous mind imagined it to be the sound a human skull made when an Astartes stamped down upon it.
“This is Trajan, is it not?”
“It… it is, honourable-”
“Trajan.” Mathias growled. “Noble Trajan. Hub of the Partha Sub-sector. Diplomatic core of the region. Naval Base of Partha. Essential tactical and merchantile planet.” The Marine’s worlds came out in quick, snapping statements, as if he were firing off rounds into the host. All that Horace could manage in reply was a weak, pathetic ‘yes’.
Mathias leaned forward, disdain dripping like rain water from his armour. “Trajan. Home of the Cohorts of Trajan, a Space Marine Chapter whose accomplishments, it is said, are lauded by Holy Terra itself.”
Horace managed to nod, just.
“I am Brother-Captain Mathias. I am here to discover what gross negligence has allowed this pathetic uprising to endure for five months, and I am going to personally execute whoever is in charge of this debacle. You will lead me to Chapter Master Hermes. Now!”
Mathias was not brought to the Chapter Master. Noble Horace had brought him to the Command Shrine, but upon arrival the Brother-Captain had immediately declared himself supreme theatre commander, and roared with bloody fury at anyone who argued. Lieutenant Quintis of House Castani wet himself under the onslaught, and shuffled out with tears of humiliation in his eyes. Horace had, wisely, fled and sought out the Council for support.
Now flanked by High Nobles of House Castani, House Potavius and House Crassus, and supported by a retinue of Space Marines from the Cohorts of Trajan, Horace pushed open the polished rosewood doors with all his might, determined to make a scene.
Mathias had outdone him. The far walls of the room were surrounded by mute, frightened members of the command staff, watching in awe the servitors and battle-thralls that manned every station on the command plinth. Mathias had, literally, air-dropped a Damocles Command Rhino into the Shrine; the ornate glass conservatory shielding the north balcony was crushed by boot and track, blistered by the heat of descent thrusters. A combat squad of Space Marines in purple armour took up key positions around the chamber, with Mathias in the centre. His helmet had been removed, revealing an ugly augmentic in his skull where his helmet-eye interfaced. He was staring at the holo-desk, quietly reciting numbers and directives. A young man with flame red hair and appalling acne had been coerced into providing Mathias the authorisation codes of the Council, and was reinforcing the Brother-Captain’s every whim with the consent of House Juliani.
Lady Castani rose to the occasion. Seizing the initiative from the faltering Horace, she marched with absolute authority onto the command plinth. She paused, surveying the information on the display, reading carefully and studying the offworlder’s activities; she was not about to throw wild accusations without proper information.
“You have removed Noble Caligula from command?”
Mathias did not look up. “He was not present.”
“Noble Caligula was attending a Council meeting,” Castani replied.
Mathias gave her a brief glance. Target lock. He returned to his command.
Castanti watched the flickering data again. The display had been modified, linked to the Damocles parted in the wreak of glass and marble at the far side of the room, granting an enhanced orbital overview as taken from a vessel in orbit. The Tenth Cohort had been dispatched to the estate of House Greganus to the south of the city, and had met with resistance. When the guards refused the Trajan Astartes entry, Mathias had ordered his Whirlwinds deployed in the Luna Commercia to fire incendiary rockets into the building, and the Marines to kill any survivors.
“You… what have you done? You have committed treason!”
“I have waged war,” Mathias replied, calmly. “This region has been the location of thirty-seven separate attacks, and rioters in this region have been supported by professionally trained soldiers of unidentified loyalties, but equipped to Noble-Guard standards. House Greganus and its holdings have remained untouched, yet the holdings of Houses Juliani and Syracos have both suffered. Resistance to security sweeps, coupled with this information, warranted extreme persecution. This is not treachery, Lady, this is exaction of the Emperor’s Will. I am here to destroy the rebellion, including those who support it.”
“Where did you get this information?” Lady Castani asked.
Mathias handed her a data-slate. “Your own data-banks.”
The Council had convened somewhere to discuss matters. Mathias was glad of it; it allowed him to work free of interruptions.
In the six hours he had spent dictating the battle, Mathias had made startling progress. He delegated the remaining duties to his subordinates, and marched for the Council Chamber; he was not going to allow them to hinder any future efforts.
Mathias turned. Moving swiftly, a trio of Space Marines were closing on him, adorned in the colours of the native Chapter. The leader, a Captain judging by his ornate armour, stopped a few footfalls away from Mathias, and saluted.
“I am honoured to meet you, Brother-Captain. My name is Peliates, Centurion of the Eighth Cohort.”
Mathias smiled. “You were the only officer in the field who did not question or argue my orders. I don’t mean to complain, but I am curious as to why.”
Peliates shook his head sadly. “The Chapter has become corrupt. We are forced to bow to the whims of the Council, and this uprising has flourished because they refuse to allow military forces to deploy where they are needed.”
Mathias felt bile rising in his throat. “And the Chapter accepts this?”
Though his words were little more than a whisper, they cut through the Centurion like a power blade.
“We are a Parade Chapter. We do not live segregated from our population.”
“Don’t speak again,” Mathias warned. “I am going to see the Council. What I have seen today cannot be forgiven, and your words have only damned this world further.”
Noble Holos had the floor, reciting his findings despite the cries of his opponents. Caesar Brutus asked for order on occasion, though it was clear it was the speaker he wished silenced.
“Furthermore!” Holos roared over the din. “Furthermore, House Punis’ armouries were thoroughly searched. Though the House had a standing army of but nineteen hundred men, their weapons and ammunition were sufficient to sustain an army of ten thousand! Ten thousand, my brothers and sisters! Do not tell me that was simply preparations for an extended siege!”
Noble Punis was about to reply when the council doors opened. Half a dozen Space Marines entered, fanning out on the floor of the council chamber. They wore the armour of the off-worlders, and carried live weaponry.
“What is the meaning of this?” Brutus rose from his seat, his face contorted with rage.
“We are assuming control,” Mathias replied, striding into the centre of the council chamber. “As of now, this planet is under martial law.”
“We do not recognise your authority, Captain!”
“Then you die a heretic!” Mathias roared. His men readied their weapons. “This is not up for debate; I have traced the corruption on this world to this very hall, and I will not accept any deviance or hindrance!”
A laspistol snapped. Mathias turned his head, and took an energy bolt to the skull. His men were firing before he hit the floor, the thunder of boltguns shaking the chamber. The ornately-armoured warriors guarding the Council men came apart under the storm of explosive rounds, and mass panic broke out. The men and women of the council dove for cover, or tried to flee. Some where escorted away by their guards, others shielded by wards who laid down suppressing fire. Noble Punis drew an ornate inferno pistol, and was decapitated before he could pull the trigger.
“Stop! Stop this madness! Noble Holos staggered towards the Space Marines, arms raised to plead with Caesar Brutus. The High Noble was already backing out of the rear door, the heavy calibre guns of his men blowing holes in the floor around the Astartes.
As suddenly as it began, the gun battle ended. The Space Marines moved quickly to seal off the chamber, stopping anyone else from leaving. The Main doors were pushed open, and a horrified Peliates stepped into the chamber.
“By the Emperor! Brother-Captain, what have you done?”
Mathias stirred, groaning with the effort of standing. The skin on the left side of his head had burned away, revealing charred metal beneath. His mechanical eye whirred and clicked as it self-tested, and found no errors.
“That’s what I get for not wearing a helmet.” Mathias grumbled as his neck connectors locked in place once more. “Peliates, good. Madness has gripped this planet, Centurion. I need every man I can find, and trust, to support me in what follows.”
Peliates nodded. “You can count on my men for support. They are currently stationed in the barracks.”
The Marines left the Council chamber, heading for the balcony overlooking the city. The Traitors who had escaped had not wasted any time; rebels waiting for orders to strike had erupted from every hiding place to bring chaos to the streets.
“Emperor’s breath!” Mathias hissed, leaning on the balcony wall. “Mathias to all Vengeance units! Battle-Cordon Protocols! Contain your position and stand ready! Fleet, begin emergency battle extraction! Section commanders, by your leave.” The Brother-Captain watched the streets for a moment, seemingly unaware of Peliates moving to join him.
“It seems we are not the only Astartes moving for war, Centurion.”
Centurion Peliates followed the gaze of the Brother-Captain, and let out an audible hiss. Arrayed ahead of them were fifty Space Marines of the 2nd Cohort, deployed in traditional battle formation. Ten Triarii formed the rearguard, split into two five-man combat squads; one carried four missile launchers, the other four heavy bolters. In front of them, twenty Principes formed a double-rank, anchored by lascannon and meltagun. Finally, twenty more Marines, equipped as Hastati, stood with shields raised to hold off any assault. Half a Company, and one of the Chapter’s finest at that.
Mathias consulted his maps. “They are deployed on the main approach to the Barracks. I doubt this is an accidental disposition; your Caesar clearly does not want me to proceed.”
“Perhaps we should go around?” the Trajan suggested.
“No. It will take too long. We go through.”
“How many men do you have.”
Mathias did a quick check of his internal auspex. “Enough. Squad Epsilon, acknowledge.”
“Acknowledging, Brother-Captain.” the low, growling voice of Sergeant Niika replied.
“Form up and advance on Objective Sigma-Minor, location patching through now. Combat Squad formation, hammer and anvil with the Razorback to blitz.”
“I see your plan, Brother-Captain. We will execute it.”
“Not until the order is given. Ancient Hantas, I am feeding you live combat telemetry via my armour’s pict-system. Epsilon is moving from the right, and they need that anti-tank silenced.”
“It Will Be Done.”
Peliates turned, and watched as a Dreadnought, previously hidden from sight by the taller buildings around them, lurched down the alleyways to the left. He strode with absolute confidence towards the courtyard wall, coming to a halt directly opposite the right-most Trajan soldier on the far side. Mathias was staring directly at the courtyard, acting as eyes for the war machine whose own were obscured by cover.
“Squad Epsilon, go when it begins. You will know battle when you hear it.”
That much was an understatement. The sudden, unholy roar of Hantas’ assault cannon shook the streets, liquefying the wall and the melta-gunner directly in the line of fire. The cannon swung up, masonry spewing along its firing line as a Triarius was lifted into the air and bodily slammed into the heavy rockcrete wall of the barrack complex. A second devastator went down, headless, as the Dreadnought panned his fire to the side. Weapons barked a sharp retort, missiles demolishing what little of the wall remained. A Lascannon snapped, its gunner missing the target in the confusion. He re-aimed, and vanished in a cloud of o-zone as the tempest of bullets ruptured his weapon’s power core.
Barking fire, the Razorback of Squad Epsilon tore into the courtyard. The gunner raked the elevated position of the Triarii, toppling two warriors in a single blast. The ramp was down before it had stopped moving, and now four bolters joined the chorus, accompanied by the distinct whine of plasma. The Hastati, shields raised, surged forward into battle, only to stumble and falter as the second Combat Squad set up a brutal crossfire. Supported by their own heavy bolter, they used the battle-shrine to protect them from enemy guns, whilst punishing the Trajan for every step they took.
Even with their superior position, the Marines of Vengeance could not prevent the Hastati from closing. Close combat erupted around the Razorback, with both sides stabbing and shooting. Combat knives and hasta proved ineffective against power armour, but Squad Epsilon had trained in many forms of war, and with practiced skill made use of their bolters. Though clumsy and unsuited for the madness of face-to-face combat, the Hastati began to fall from point-blank shots.
|01 Sep 2008, 12:54||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Re: Entry K - Untitled
Mathias vaulted the balcony wall, and landed atop the building below. Skidding on roof tiles, he rolled down into the street and sprinted for his men. Ahead, the last of the courtyard wall gave way as Ancient Hantas barged through the gap, both guns blazing into the fray. A missile launcher coughed, striking metal, throwing chunks of tank armour at the Captain as he rounded the corner and joined the fight. The Razorback was smoking, its port-forward engine destroyed, and drive gears reduced to twisted metal. The gunner fired, missed, and corrected as the Triarius rose from the diving roll. The gun’s second barrel spat a bolt of pure energy, reducing the Marine to ash.
Mathias had no time to issue fresh orders. He saw Niika go down to a head-shot, and vaulted the falling Sergeant. His chainsword found and exposed neck, his combi-weapon belched plasma. Dead Marines littered the ground, all the enemy. Brother Sidha, born on some barren desert hellhole, was valiantly standing over the crippled form of Garen, his legs missing. Mathias parried a blow from a charging Tarjan, only for the attacker to fall as a volley of point blank fire took him down. Brother Cho reloaded, denting the face-plate of a distant enemy with a shot before turning on another enemy.
There was a loud, metallic crack. A lucky round blew out the viewing glass of the Razorback’s turret as the Brother-Captain pushed clear of the transport, the gunner roaring litanies of fury as his weapons found the guilty soldier, and immolated him. Knife and blade bit into flesh, spent bolt cases littered the floor, dancing amidst the corpses of the enemy. Metre by metre, Vengeance was winning. Soon, the Tarjans had been reduced to a cluster of men in the centre of the court-yard, desperately trying to topple the advancing Hantas. Their heavy weapons were lost, the Hastati dead or dying, and now the survivors fired in a panic, shooting at anything and everything in a desperate bid to survive.
The combi-plasma roared, supported by Brother Khréd’s larger counterpart. Together, Mathias and Khréd pushed forward, letting the second Combat squad break cover and push. A three way crossfire formed as bolter, plasma and solid slug pounded relentlessly into the dwindling circle of Trajan warriors. The Marine directly in front of him toppled, the one behind dying as three bolt rounds all struck at once in the centre of his chest. The gap his death formed was exploited, and two Trajan’s were raked from behind by heavy weapon fire. Mathias fired again, and armour chimed an alert that the plasma gun was empty. By then it didn’t matter; the last Trajan fell before he could toggle the gun setting.
He turned back to his men. By some miracle, Niika still lived. His helmet had been blown apart, and his skull was a mess, but he was alive; his remaining eye swivelled frantically in its socket. Brother Cho, bleeding from a dozen bolter impacts, was trying to keep him awake and alert, forcing his sergeant to recount trivial and seemingly random facts; to allow him to sleep would mean his death.
“Apothecary to Objective Sigma-Minor, emergency!” Mathias’ order was acknowledged immediately by his command squad. They would be here in three minutes.
“No losses to report, sir.” Cho said calmly as Mathias knelt beside him. Every member of the assault team had suffered injuries of some kind; only Cho and Khréd were remotely battle-worthy.
Peliates approached. He looked at the scene with disbelief, removing his helmet in case the auto-senses were somehow exaggerating the scale of the devastation. They were not.
“I do not believe it.” he whispered.
Mathias rose to face Peliates. “That is how real Space Marines fight.”
With a full company behind him, Mathias began his push back toward the landing fields. The way was contested, but against a hundred Astartes the PDF and civil uprisings could not hope to succeed. With a base secured, the Marines of Vengeance were systematically evacuated. Mathias lingered on the landing pad, watching Peliates co-ordinate the last lines of defence. The Centurion had learned much over the frantic hours of warfare, and his men were formed up in Codex-doctrine battle lines as opposed to their conventional tactics.
“Brother-Captain!” Peliates was approaching the Brother-Captain at speed. “Brother-Captain, only yourself and your command section remains. What is your plan from here?”
Mathias hesitated. Though he would never consider the warrior before him worthy of Company command, there was something about Peliates he liked. A friend, perhaps. He deserved the truth.
“This world is damned.” Mathias’ voice was deadpan. “The Governor has effectively a full Chapter under his control, and that is a threat we cannot allow to exist. We hold orbit, but I do not know how long this will remain… I am declaring Damnatus upon this planet; we will cleanse it with orbital fire and withdraw until a full battleforce can be assembled.”
Peliates nodded. “I take it there is no room on your Thunderhawks for my men?”
Mathias shook his head.
“I understand, Brother-Captain. My Chapter is fallen, my world shrouded in darkness. My men and I are a risk, even after we have fought together. I understand your decision.”
“You will be remembered,” Mathias promised, boarding the Thunderhawk.
The Thunderhawks climbed, the raindrops shimmering as the exhaust of the ramjets evaporated them. Peliates watched the purple gunship rise upwards, growing smaller and smaller before vanishing into the clouds. He turned back to his men, gathered on the landing fields. A mob of rioting citizens was closing fast, the shining giants of the Fifth Company visible in their midst. He watched as part of the platform was torn away by heavy shelling, and wished he had that kind of artillery to call upon.
“Peliates to Mathias, respond please.”
“Mathias here, what’s your situation?”
“Grim. We’ve got a Traitor Company closing. Recommend you deny them the landing fields.”
“Acknowledged. Your name will be remembered with Honour.”
The Centurion smiled. He turned once more to the battle line, watching his men clash with sword and spear against the endless tide. He saw Agamon decapitate a warrior of the Fifth Company with a perfect swing, and stab a second, using his bodyweight to throw the man off the platform. A third fell to a bolter shot. Then the warrior was dragged down, his weapons still killing as the life left his body. The heroism was repeated over and over, each man dying where he stood.
“It has been an honour,” Peliates whispered as the bombardment engulfed them, burning the landing field away in a blinding flash of light.
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