In the brutal, eternal war, which rages across the stars and scours His worlds, an empire is crumbling. When the last bastion of Mankind is a dogmatic, fascist dystopia, it is easy to realise how far things have fallen. In a time of instability, ignorance and religious fanaticism, there exists the dying breed of good men and women. Some are unsung heroes, others commit famous deeds which are hymns of glory to their undying lord and eternal leader, the God-Emperor of Mankind.
At the outer edge of the Imperium of Man, on the fringes of its empire, sits the Sirian Sub-Sector within Sector Sorilia, consisting of the planets Donia, Astov, Ochinda, Frigus IV, and New Sirius. The Eternal War has not raged in the sector for many moons. But the galaxy is a fickle thing, and the Sorilia Sector is ravaged by Ork incursions. Not all is as it seems as the Waaagh looms over New Sirius...
"To the Warp with Command! They can pack up and abandon two entire regiments of the Emperor's faithful, but I will not deny them their salvation! Keep the Orks busy!"
The sounds of cannons resonated thunderously within the walls of a Dominator-class cruiser, of which rested within the endless expanse of space, exchanging fire from their various weapons batteries with the Kroozas of the Freebooterz Ork Waaagh! of Warlord Wazarg, who return were unloading barrages of munitions of their own. Plasma projectors pulsed noiselessly towards the Ork vessels and the Greenskins retaliated with swarms of rokkits, which slammed against the hull of the Zealous Sword of Terra, whose steel skin shuddered and creaked under the ravages of Ork weaponry.
Pounding his fist on the armrest of his steel chair, Commodore-Captain Andreas Kriek cursed under his breath as his vessel remained under attack by the Ork ships.
"We need to give the God's Hammer and the Emperor's Harbinger time to initiate their Warp drives!"
Kriek was red in the face, immensely stressed out by the situation. Both Overlord-class cruisers were carrying a pair of Imperial Guard regiments. The siege regiment known as the 37th Sirian Vanquishers, and the mechanised regiment known as 55th Sirian Bulwarks. They had been abandoned and pursued by an Ork horde of indeterminate size, and it was uncertain how long two Overlord-class battlecruisers and a Dominator-class could survive against the sea of salvaged, primitive ships. Primitive, yes. Ineffective, no.
The Dominator-class, even with its nova cannon exchanging fire with the Ork ships, could not hold.
"Holy God-Emperor, the loyalty of your undying, faithful servant never wavered in your cause," Kriek murmured, a morbid, death-like declaration.
"...but your Imperium forsakes me."
As two, hellish wormholes opened and the two cruisers lurched into the torn fabric of reality, the Zealous Sword of Terra was erupt with flame. Crushed by an unstoppable Ork armada, it was torn asunder, its supports giving way to the unending torrent of enemy fire, and the walls of the ship collapsing and falling like shattered glass. Legions of crewmen were engulfed by the inferno of their own armaments and their ammunition detonating within the ship, enveloping them within the storm of fire.
From the deck of his Hammer Battlekrooza Git-grinda, the monstrously large Warlord Wazarg grinned, a smile from ear to ear with enormous tusk-sized teef, turning to the gathering of loyal Nobz beside him. Well, as loyal Orks could get, anyway. Git-grinda was embellished with the finer crafts of Mekaniaks of Waaagh! Wazarg, and even then, they were not exactly elegant. Scrap metal composed the grey-brown floor of the ship, mish-mashed together in an unholy union of salvaged human tech and the Ork's trademark genuity. The bridge was decorated with various trophies, with gruesome totems such as the decapitated heads of Guardsmen or Tyranids impaled on spikes.
"We'z crumped da rest of da fleet, Warlord. But'z two of 'em got away!"
Wazarg's toothy grin dropped, replaced by a grimace.
"Yaaargh! 'ow in Gork's name didja managed to lose da last two 'umie ships!?" A low bellow emanated from the overgrown Ork's throat, followed by the flash of a green, meaty fist slamming against the Nob's head, creating a loud thud that sent him sprawling on the floor, picking up bits of his "teef" as he landed. Another Nob spoke in his place.
"Dey were runnin' away like dey were carryin' sumfing, an' dey wern't givin' us any dakka," another Nob commented.
"Of course dey wern't making da dakka ya Grot," One of the other Nobs loudly protested with his proclamation and a blow to the former Nob's head, "iz obviously da two 'umie ships dat picked up dem 'umies off da planet down below! Dat's why dey were 'ere in da first place! Gettin' their boyz."
The Warlord blinked twice at the Nob, who glanced back and forth between the Ork he'd just swatted with his fist in a double take, while the Nob who had spoken beforehand gazed up at his Warlord.
"...yer bloody right, Gobdreg...dey aren't lookin' to stomp us out, dey were lookin' to get away from us instead! Dey didn't realise 'ow big me force was!" A deep, guttural chuckle boomed again from Wazarg.
"Oi! Flabbahghasta! C'mere." He called, and an Ork clad from head-to-toe in an enormous suit of Mega-Armour approached, steel footsteps thumping against the scrap floor. A Mekboss, and his Mega Armour of his own creation. His ramshackle protection obscured his face, and his rough voice reverberated thanks to the filter on his helmet.
"Yeh, 'zarg? What's ya need dis time?" It was not visible, but he too, was grinning. The Mekboss was a cunning one, but brutal, too - a true devotee of Mork and Gork.
"I need ya' to plot ah course for...er," Wazarg's finger tapped against his chin, "...where ever dem last humie ships were goin'!"
"I's be gettin' back to ya' in a jiffy, Warlord! Iz gonna be a little tuff but we'll make it!"
With that, the Mekboss waltzed through one of the doors in the interior of the krooza. Wazarg turned back to gaze at the void, his crimson eyes upon the shards of the fleet he had just crushed with his own fleet. His handiwork. It was his life's joy to take another's life, and crush what essence remained. Like all Freebooterz Orks, he was originally a part of an Ork clan, specifically the Deathskullz. Likely explained his obsession with looting and stealing "bitz" from even other Orks. It was quite rare for Freebooterz to actually go on Waaagh!, but their Warlord was no fool, however simple he was. They were to sack a Hive World, after all - there would be many bitz to be had.
"All boyz of Waaagh! Wazarg, we are still in pursuit of da two 'umie cruisers dat just escaped. For da next sector, I'z gonna need you boyz to spread y'selves across all ovah it! Find what bitz ya can and krump whatever ya' find, be it spikeboyz, tincan 'umies, normal 'umies, da bug fings, greyskins, panzees, spooky panzees, anyfin! Find it, krump it! Dat's da Freebooterz way." He stopped for a moment, still grinning from ear to ear. "Arr ya' ready, boyz?!"
One year later, 956.M41. In Orbit over New Sirius.
Above New Sirius sat the Strike Cruiser Redemptor Peccati, hanging in over orbit of New Sirius. The hull was a shade of deep forest green, and a pair of wings rested on the underside, flanked by a sword. This heraldry clearly marked them as the Adeptus Astartes of the dreaded and taciturn Dark Angels Chapter, the first Legion formed by the Emperor millenia ago. It was exceedingly rare to see Space Marines on one Imperial Citizen's lifetime, let alone the first Chapter. Thanks to their dispassionate, aloof manners, they often fought alone. However, the sons of the Lion had sensed an opportunity to bring ruination to the enemies of Man, despite shirking well-deserved battle honours. However, their was another motive. New Sirius, a Hive World, was not fully urbanised, and its forested locales fostered native tribes in their treetop confines. The savagery of the wildlife and the hardship of tribal life honed young boys into killing machines - ideal recruits for the Adeptus Astartes. It struck something for the Dark Angels, and their lost homeworld of Caliban.
Within its interior, at the bridge with a hand at his side and the other pressing his modified, winged Aquila helmet against his hip, stood the green-armoured figure of Third Company Master Belial, bald-headed and his bone-white hood shrouding his head. He held a dataslate in front of himself, before gazing back up out of the window. Several Ork ships laid in orbit. Spheres of flame began plummeting towards the surface of the Hive World, which Belial barely batted an eye at.
"The Orks are beginning to make their invasion of the Hive World. Clearly, they've been plotting this for some time. Precision that betrays their savage nature." He spoke as he gazed at the dataslate, eyes narrowed. The Third Master was a cunning, shrewd man, an exacting leader who brooked no failure, and seeked to improve upon any imperfections. He correctly deduced that the Orks had made planetfall in New Sirius' forests and natural lands. Belial had been initiated as Master of Third Company ever since Master Orias left his post to serve in Deathwatch over half a century ago. He was a great tactician and as with all Company Masters, he had already been in service to Deathwing before ascending to his current position, years that honed his cunning.
At his side served his second, Deathwing Sergeant Samson Sinclaire. He too, had a head that was shrouded by a hood, but instead it was dark green, and a decorative white sword was upon its peak. He wore a silver rebreather and mask, leaving his face completely obscured to the outside world. The lenses under the hood glowed an ominous red, and black braids laid at the sides of the mask, reaching out of the hood. Belial handed the dataslate to the Terminator Marine.
"Indeed, Brother-Captain. Most men - Astartes or no - assume that the greenskins are a witless lot. They have a cunning; one that reveals itself at a crucial moment." The Terminator Sergeant gazed away for a moment, a moment of contemplation.
The grueling Eneldor Campaign was a part of his service record, a Forge World that had come under another Ork Waaagh. It was a grueling experience, one that tested Samson in the crucible of war. He emerged victorious, alongside his Chapter and two others - the Aetherian Warriors and the Doom Eagles - but the costs were high, and the Forge World was lost despite the Waaagh's dissolution.
"Do you have any suggestions, Sergeant Samson?" Belial turned to his second-in-command for this operation. Belial had been named Force Commander of this campaign, so he had elements of both Ravenwing and Deathwing, along with the third Battle Company. His question, however, was a test, in and of itself. Everything Belial said was loaded with some kind of hidden meaning behind it.
"Aside from engaging the Orks on ground? Attacking the naval assets now would be suicide, causing us to lose the element of surprise - with the full Ork armada before us, our strike force would be obliterated quickly, as they had done with the Imperial Navy a year before. Laying low is the best option here," the Terminator Sergeant finished, looking to Belial. Behind his mask lay a knowing smile, one that the Company Master could tell.
"An improvement on last time, Sergeant. Return to your squad - you will be amongst the first to land on New Sirius." Belial gave a taciturn nod, mostly devoid of any meaning aside from affirmation.
The Deathwing Terminator formed the Aquila across his chest and head out the door. Samson Sinclaire was indeed a veteran of many battles, but Belial was one impatient for any kind of mistake - and anticipated that he would make one under the inevitable stress of this campaign. Samson's years of experience did him well, however. He was not any mere rank-and-file brother, and neither was his height or strength. During his time as a neophyte, his geneseed suffered an unusual mutation which caused increased growth in his Biscopea and Ossmodula organs, which raised him to thirty centimeters shy of an Ogryn, at nine-foot-two, and in addition he was gifted phenomenal strength. His height was further boosted by the Terminator Armour he was clad in, which was enshrouded by robes as well. He lumbered the halls of the gothic vessel, his eyes glancing left and right to the various Marines gathered. Ravenwing Bikers tended to their vehicles and idle chat circulated amongst those Battle-Brothers in Third Company.
Eventually, his Terminator-clad stroll had led him to one of the bays where the drop pods would descend upon the Hive World shortly, six of the pods painted bone-white. Five other Terminators circulated at the bay. Champion Zaphkiel, who wielded his sacred Halberd of Caliban and his head entirely obscured by his bone-white Terminator helmet and hood, Apothecary Zephon, armed with Storm Bolter and equipped with his Narthecium. He was already toying with his Apothercarion drill, and his helmet at the fauld of his armour, revealing a strong-jawed man with snow-white, cropped hair and grey eyes, with a tendency to arch his brow. As his Sergeant approached, his skull-white helmet with autosensors equipped on one eye found itself on his head.
Standard Bearer Malphas, already bearing both a Storm Bolter of his own and the Deathwing Company Banner upon the hunchback of his armour, heavily scarred from fighting. Noticeably, there was an overarching scar over one of the lenses of his helmet. Brother Ambriel, serving as the squad's heavy weapons specialist, bearing the weight of both an Assault Cannon and Cyclone Missile Launcher, had his helmet off his head. A small bionic eye was nestled in the socket of the left eye, an injury he received fighting on Faze V, where a techno-revivalist cult was destroyed by the Dark Angels, but not without injuries. He was completely bald, with a light stubble around his chin. His helmet soon found itself on his head. Finally, Interrogator-Chaplain Araqiel, wielding his own Storm Bolter and the Chaplain's badge of office, a Crozius Arcanum. The iconic Chaplain helmet, the skull helm, was modified to fit to his obsidian armour.
"Brothers, is everything in order?" Samson kept his power sword, Lightbearer, tucked away in a forest-green scabbard, the same shade of green as his robes. Given his size, it was unusually large for most power swords. His Storm Bolter rested on his hip on the opposite side.
"Since when are we not ready to purge Orks?" Ambriel stated, with a hint of battle-lust in his voice.
"Dear Ambriel, do not tell me you are nervous?" Samson grinned from behind his mask.
Sounding as if his pride was almost hurt, his Battle-Brother backed up slightly. "Not at all. Just...eager."
Champion Zaphkiel turned to the junior brother. "I was once excitable as much as you are, once, Ambriel. I do not doubt your prowess, but your judgement could do with some work. This may be no mere crusade against Orks."
Gazing at the Champion, Ambriel tilted his helmet-covered head at Zaphkiel. "They're only greenskins." His helmet shook lightly.
"I feel as if something else is at play here." The Champion stated, a hand curled against his halberd, rested against the steel floor.
"Whatever it is, Zaphkiel, it will go answered in due time," Samson stated. "For now, it is time we let the purgation begin."
"If you say so." The Champion stated coldly, heading inside his drop pod. Samson exchanged glances with Ambriel, the former nodding to him as the latter strode inside his drop pod.
Chaplain Araqiel turned to Sinclaire and began to speak. "Brother-Sergeant Sinclaire. A moment, old friend."
Samson sighed through his mask, stepping off to the sidelines as the others congregated. "You can tell, can you not?"
"Yes...your past weighs heavy on you, as do your mistakes. Do not forget what I have taught you, brother. Let go of the ghosts of time gone by, and focus on serving the Emperor. I have no doubt you will, but do not let your thoughts cloud your mind." The Chaplain advised, turning away.
"Thanks be to you, Araqiel. We shall see how the battle fares below."
With that, Araqiel retired to his own drop pod. Samson turned to the last two Terminator Marines in the group, Zephon and Malphas.
"Apologies for that."
"Sergeant." Malphas stated with a chilling reception, flexing the fingers on his power fist. It seemed as if the Standard Bearer was not paying attention.
Samson stood still for a moment, dwelling on the response. "So, you two are the newest additions to the Command Squad? Your names are?"
"Brother Malphas," The Standard Bearer spoke matter-of-factly.
"Apothecary Zephon, at your service. I've heard much of your exploits, Sergeant. I hope you live up to my expectations." Zephon's tone, in stark contrast to Malphas' cold replies, carried an undercurrent of subtle admiration.
"I appreciate the sentiment, but I feel it is unnecessary. I will see you on the ground against the Orks briefly. For the Lion, brothers"
"For the Lion," the Apothecary and Standard Bearer proclaimed almost in unison, and embarked upon their drop pods. The Sergeant soon followed, and as the pods sealed themselves tight, they felt the weight under their boots drop, and began their descent.
Numene, Capital Spire of New Sirius. Governor-General's Palace.
Commissar-Lord Morran Crissinger marched inside the halls of the Governor-General's palace in the Capital Spire, a stern look upon his stony visage and the iconic peaked cap perched upon his withering grey hair, angled in such a way as to obscure his eyes. Curling his gloved hand around the entrance to the Governor's personal quarters and creaked the door open, his shadowy gaze peering into the room.
Torten Varus sat within his emblazoned throne, dressed in full regalia. A large sash reached across his decorative golden plate and his hands clad in gauntlets which were tipped with retractable Lightning Claws. A grumble was heard from his throat before he cleared it, and began to speak.
"Mmh, yes, Commissar Crissinger? Something you wanted to report." Torten didn't look too bad for someone in his hundreds. He seemed as if he was around forty or so, with golden-blond hair and mutton chops that curled over his lips and joined together. A look of contemplation was glanced in his solid blue eyes.
"There have been some rather concerning accusations regarding you," The Commissar spoke. "Some say your looseness with the Ecclesiarchy and the lack of ample Tithes coming from our world is--"
"--raising suspicions on my loyalty?" The Governor arched a brow, shaking his head. "Rather typical, I might say. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Crissinger, but..." Torten rose from his seat, which was thrown back. "I must ask of you. Do you doubt my loyalty to the Emperor and the Imperium?" He asked, as if defensively.
The Commissar stood stunned for a moment, before lifting his cap. His eyes were a dull grey, almost matching his hair, and he locked his gaze with the Governor-General's. He was silent, before the General, as if unsure of what to say to an old friend.
"There are...some, who might doubt me," Governor Varus began, "But know this, old friend. When we fought at Jastea, I could not have asked for a better ally, who fought tooth and nail with I against the barbaric greenskins. Why should you begin to doubt me now?"
Crissinger stood still, before finally speaking. "...my apologies, Torten. It's been a year since we got managed to break free from the Orks. I wouldn't be doubting you now if my life depended on it. There's just been some talk amongst the Guard of your possible seceding, considering New Sirius' distance from the rest of the Imperium. I wanted to bring the matter to your attention." The Commissar spoke true, as he kept his gaze locked upon the Governor.
"...Fine, Morran. Return to your regiment."
The Lord-Commissar crossed his arms over his chest, forming the Imperial Aquila, before raising a hand to creak open the door once again and head back down the hallway of marble and deep-red carpet running across its floor. Torten rose from his seat and approached the door, opening the door and peering through the gap which emerged, as the Commissar melted out of sight.
"They're on to us, Inquisitor. Someone knows something," he shut the door behind him, and turned to face his desk.
In the doorway adjacent to the entrance doors, emerging from the living room was a man dressed in ornate Ignatius-pattern power armour, embellished in gold and with a long, crimson cape emerging from the back. The brown-bearded, long-haired man possessed a bionic eye crammed into the socket of what was once his left eye, which glowed ominously.
"Are they truly, Governor? The common people of the Imperium are superstitious, as you know."
"Regardless, Ganymede, it does not matter," Varus stated. "If there's anything stronger than their superstition, it's their desire to act on it. That is a matter for another time, because we still have a large Ork problem on our hands."
The bearded man known as Inquisitor Argus Ganymede chuckled. "Oh, Governor Varus, have you not heard? Those Orks just made planetfall. Perhaps you should have brought a welcoming party!" A smile crossed over his face, at his own jest.
Torten ignored that, his eyes still firmly set upon his desk, which he then returned to, and sat back down. He pressed his fingers together, grinding his teeth for a moment. "So. What do you propose, then?" He asked the Inquisitor.
"Dear Torten," Argus began, a smirk at the corner of his mouth. "Not to play adviser or chancellor, but I have an idea. Our plan has been made easier, not harder, by the presence of the Orks. With the Sirian Vanquishers 41st and its Lord-General as our mole, he will lead on the Bulwarks 102nd, and purge any resistance. The other regiments are off-planet, as you know - so you needn't account for them.
The Governor's brows furrowed. "Very well, Inquisitor," Torten's tone lightened, if only slightly. His voice remained dour and heavy with contemplation. The Inquisitor had approached him upon investigation of what laid beneath the planet's surface, and had made some less that pleasant-sounding suggestions. They were tempting, and Torten was indeed tempted.
"But that is not all you have planned, is it?" He arched his right brow, tilting his head.
"You know me too well. Are you familiar with Sirian eskora?"
Varus narrowed his gaze. "Sirian eskora is a type of plant, which grows in what natural areas of New Sirius remain, commonly known for its potency as--"
"--a potent toxin." Argus finished.
"Seceding from the Imperium is one thing," Torten clenched his fist, "but poisoning loyal subjects of the Emperor..."
"If you want to escape the clutches of the Imperium and rule as you deserve," Argus' tone rose in hostility, "You must be willing to do things you would normally not. Consider Commissar Crissinger and his regiment an enemy to your cause." His remaining eye glared back at the Governor.
Torten breathed a deep sigh, looking up at the ceiling for a brief moment, as if he were looking to the God-Emperor himself for an answer. "If this is what it takes..." He spoke as if his heart had sunk in his chest. He knew what he was getting into, but if he were to provide for the people of New Sirius, this is what he had to do.
"If that is the route I must take, then so be it."
Several hours after Ork landfall. New Sirian wilderness - Aplagua Plains, the great open forests and paths.
"Horus' balls, man! What happened to the tanks?!" Guardsman Malik screeched his question at the top of his lungs as his Meltagun discharged in the face of an Ork, searing the flesh from the greenskin's bones. The Orks made landfall a day ago, and the forested areas of New Sirius were rife with the greenskin menace already. A natural cave formation was dense and overgrown with brush, a waterfall flowing nearby - these Guardsmen had retreated to a bridge within the cave, in an attempt to regroup. An attempt that did not quite work, considering the amount of Guardsmen present - which could be counted on one hand.
"We have to go through the caverns! Malik!" cried another voice, which belonged to that of Captain Cariaso, Chainsword swinging overhead and vivisecting a Slugga Boy's head into mincemeat, right at the Ork that he threatened to clobber Malik over the head with its crude choppa. With that, the last of the Orks - for the moment - fell. Malik breathed a sigh of relief as the Captain had his back.
The 41st Vanquishers, their Flak or Carapace Armour a dark grey and their fatigues and heavy trenchcoats an onyx black, were the first to be hit after the Orks had made landfall. The invasion itself was not unexpected - what was unexpected however, was the sheer size of the force. The Sirians had not seen a Waaagh of this size in centuries. The regiments off-world were being called back to the Hive World, but they could not rely on their aid - it would be weeks at most before they could arrive, if they even received the distress call.
Stormtrooper Arildsen and Sergeant Nesin gazed at each other through their helmet lenses, before turning to Captain Cariaso. "Sir, what do we do?" asked the Stormtrooper.
"We keep moving."
"Move into a dead e---wait a second." Nesin asked, exasperant one moment and hand extended, and then questioning his mind the next. "That's...a door."
Before them laid a large collection of dirt and sediment which had built up part of the cave. Thanks to the Ork's planetfall however, bits and pieces of the sediment had slowly come off to reveal the obsidian doors underneath, before them. Covered in dirt and muck, the doors stood over the squad like a dark obelisk, ominous in its appearance.
We keep moving. No matter where this--" He tried to find his words. "...door, takes us. The damned green scum hit the vehicle depot first. The biggest, ugliest ones, too." The Captain muttered, shaking his head. He had a dark tone to his voice, as if he were aware of their impending doom. "
"Bloody hell. I've never seen Orks this organised." Arildsen muttered, looking back to the others.
The Captain straightened himself and extended his plasma pistol, eyes like narrow slits. "Let's go. Please don't ask me why the Orks still managed to attack in full force."
"Wait. Seriously? The regiments that were sent out to attack the Orks were all d-..." He hesitated. "Destroyed?"
Inhaling sharply, Cariaso closed his eyes for a brief moment. "Yes. The horde could have been far worse, Merisier."
"I don't see how! Emperor, preserve us..."
Vox-operator Merisier plopped his helmet back on his head and strapped it on, clearing his throat and attempting to overcome his shakiness, via gripping his Lasgun as if he were about to break it, looking to his Vox caster upon his back, as if he were about to tear it off and call for help. The five Guardsmen approached the door, and the Captain put his hand to the doors before him. "Come on! Must be someone to get this blasted thing ope--" He was interrupted, by the massive doors rolling before him, opening up.
"Emperor... like I said. Let's go."
The five Guardsmen ventured forth, one foot after the other. Only the searchlights upon their gear pierced the impregnable darkness of the ominous inner caves, the catacombs leading them underground, twisting, turning. The tombs must have been unfathomably large - caverns rising up to the ceiling, an old presence that must have been formed many moons ago, truly ancient in its age. They ventured deep - too deep, almost. Minutes turned to an hour of walking, and their step upon metal had turned to what seemed to be gravel and dirt. Brief periods of silence were broken up by questioning as they scoured the truly labyrinthine caverns.
"What the hell is this place, and why is it that we only found it during wartime?" Nesin asked, the Sergeant shaking his helmet-clad head.
"Perhaps we'll find out once we find an exit that leads us to a location other than "certain doom"." The Stormtrooper, Arildsen, responded with a reality check.
"Did you see how old those doors looked? Before the Orks landed, they were still covered in sediment and overgrowth. It was us opening it that changed things." Malik reasoned, taking a breath. "How long have we been down here for, Captain?"
Cariaso stopped, extending his chainsword to his side to stop the others. "Quite some time. I have no idea where we are or what this place is, and for the moment, it doesn't matter. What matters is us, getting out." Cariaso continued forward, until he stepped upon something. His head raised, and he peered around, eyes narrowed in suspicion. Green light began to fill the caverns, and the darkness before them soon faded. It became apparent that they were standing upon a cliff, overlooking what appeared to be a deep crevasse. As the entire catacomb lit up, it appeared to stretch for kilometres. There was truly no end.
"I...don't think we're findin' an exit any time soon." Nesin felt the need to point out the obvious, so obvious that no one else in the squad acknowledged it.
The Captain stepped forth, looking down to the crevasse. It became clear to him that there was something here, as his body language showed that he took a step back in sheer disbelief.
"Squad. Set your eyes upon this."
The other four peered over the edge. Gasping soon followed. The green lights had illuminated what appeared to be an army frozen in time, metal, skeleton-like golems standing upright - defunct and apparently desolate, ancient, yet highly advanced weapons held in their ironclad grip.
"What the hell are these things?" Alridsen spoke rapidly, tense, hand upon his weapon. Before anyone could answer, the catacombs around them began to shake ominously, as the sound of another Rok slamming against the ground far above their heads was heard, and the caverns quickly began to shift before them. The ground underneath their feet changed, Malik losing his balance and tumbling over. Merisier outright panicked, pulling his Vox-caster off his back and quickly and desperately trying to pick up any signals. Doubtful that he would be able to actively Vox someone, but they would at least know an attempt was made.
The army of metal golems, however, appeared not-so-desolate in an instant. With the cave coming alive, so did they. The skeletal visage of the armed automatons sprung to life, the eerie, otherworldly glow of green familiar upon their metal frames. As they reanimated, several of the metal men approached the group. The squad was gripped by fear, and panic - lasguns fired, and Cariaso, in a brave act of defiance, revved his chainsword and charged one of the soulless machines. Before he could strike, however, the metal men fired their cannons, striking him and his squad with green bolts of "gauss" energy. Their flesh melted away in an instant, stripped bare on the molecular level, right down to the skeletons, and their panic and weapons rendered silent once more. A pair of ominous figures hovered over Merisier, the last man standing of the group, who was hastily trying to make his Vox-caster work. The figures had vaguely spider-like limbs, and a long, sharp tail-like protrusion from underneath. As one of the lurching figures went forth, and floated upwards into the tunnel from whence the Guard squad came, one of the floating, armoured monstrosities loomed over Merisier. The meek Guardsmen gazed up from his Vox-caster, and a second later he found the abomination's tail poking through his neck, phasing through harmlessly at first - and then re-materialising. Merisier's neck suffered an unceremonious fate, his head toppling soon afterwards. The tail emerged gore-slicked, the armoured creature coldly casting its glance aside towards the tunnel its brethren had traveled forward to, and followed suite.
They had awoken. This world was not the Ork's. Not the Imperium's. But theirs. The Necrons of the Kryvaar Dynasty, marched once again.
Crissinger grunted as his power sword impacted against the head of an Ork Nob, his Shoota ejecting several rounds into the air as it cut through his flesh and penetrated his skull. The bloodstained Commissar felt to his knees and exhaled, as the Orks were, for the time being, beaten back. He planted the sword into the ground and looked skywards, seeing great balls of fire plummet from the sky. But they were not of the same shape as the Roks, but instead shaped similarly to Astartes drop pods. He blinked once, looking downwards. Looks like the gloryhounds are coming to snatch the credit. He had fought with Astartes before - they were nothing new to his eyes, and for all their prowess, they were ultimately selfish. The Lord-Commissar frowned - Merisier from the 41st had attempted to contact him via his long-range Vox caster.
What went wrong? he thought.
He got to his feet, making his way through the vehicle compound. With the Orks' barbaric bellows and the sound of their comically oversized weaponry ceasing with their demise, Crissinger approached two of the remaining Guardsmen - one in dull-white armour and grey fatigues, marking her as a Guardswoman of the Sirian Bulwarks, and another with grey fatigues and Flak Armour a deep shade of crimson. Crimson? Crissinger made a mental note in his head. That's the colour of the PDF.
"I require a status report, Guardsmen. How do the rest of the men fare, and more importantly, can we make it to Numene?"
The Planetary Defense Force trooper saluted alongside the Bulwark Guardsman, before the former began to speak. "My Lord-Commissar! I - we - are glad to see you alive!"
The dull-white clad Guardswoman spoke after the PDF trooper had finished verbally polishing the boots of the Commissar. With her helmet at her side, she had short, blonde hair, and was rather petite. Despite her smaller stature, she seemed to have done well for herself if she was one of the survivors. The odd glance at the bodies of both Orks and other Guardsmen would prove that.
"The Orks mostly hit the Ospao Fields, rather than here, but I fear that's where the bulk of the horde landed. They could steamroll the entire Plains from there, and this was naught more but a probing force. We've lost a lot, but some of the others scattered into the forests."
"Damnation!" Crissinger spoke, hatred in his voice. The kind of contempt he had for the same Orks who almost claimed the life of his longtime friend. "At least they're not anywhere near the spires just yet...however, I received word the manufactorum is at risk of being under siege as we speak."
The PDF trooper's more enthusiastic expression shrunk. Though it was hard to see with his helmet on his head, he had unkempt, brown hair and matching eyes. He had a very fresh look about him, very likely a recent recruit.
"These are Ork Freebooterz. It's rare for them to go on a full-scale invasion of a planet, but the lure of a Hive World's riches and a wealth of enemies to conquer must have proved to be irresistable. There's always been minor Ork incursions here, ever since the original Civilised World of Sirius fell to the Deathskullz clan..."
Crissinger looked up towards the trooper, who at this point had a trembling expression on his face and gripping his lasgun tightly against his chest.
The Commissar approached them again, smiling lightly. "What is your name, Trooper?"
"M-Marius Civatte, sir..."
The Commissar looked towards the path, and back towards one of the remaining Chimeras, which was fitted with an oversized dozer blade on the front.
"We make haste for the Manufactorum, and using its supply lines for travel to Numene - and the other major city-spires - uniting our forces at the capital. I would not rely on the Astartes to help us..." The Commissar finished, looking back up to the sky. They were Dark Angels, after all - it was not an undeserved reputation they had, and Crissinger was understandably skeptical.
Marius's enthusiasm rose. Hope had arrived, in the form of the Space Marines. Crissinger, on the other hand, was not so optimistic, and had turned and approached the Chimera, turning back to Crista and Marius once nearby.
"Should we find any of our Guardsmen who scattered away, we shall aid them. But the manufactorum, is key." He approached the back, tapping a button at the back which opened the bay door.
Crista nodded. "Very well, Lord-Commissar." She nudged Marius, who looked back to the Guardswoman, clearing his throat and approaching the vehicle with her. In stark contrast to her confident swagger, he was more neurotic. Nervous, even.
The fact he had just been told that one of the most crafty, if crude, enemies of Man had taken a prime strategic point was bad news indeed, despite the promise of salvation in the form of the Astartes, and sweat was traveling from his forehead. He climbed inside the Chimera after Crista, which, within a few moments, roared to life as she took control, and rolled out of the motor pool and on to the forest road. It paced out on the road, and time passed slowly for several minutes, as they gazed upon little more than brush. The Commissar pierced the silence;
"The main guard outpost isn't far from here, but--"
A deep rumble was heard from within the forest's innards. A rust-red and navy blue mass of salvaged armour and spikes was tearing up the treeline and any brush in its way using a gargantuan Deathrolla, grinding anything in front of it into oblivion. Crissinger's eyes widened as he looked out of the hatch, slowly reclining inside. "Marius."
"Y-yes, Commissar sir!"
"Get on the Autocannon."
"C'mon, boyz! We'z gotta get da rest a da gear to da rest of da Nobz! Dey's expectin' us to get da bitz to dem onna ovva side a dah for...esty...place..." One of the Freebooterz Mekboyz sounded up, who soon found himself trailing off in his speech when he was gazing in awe at the sky at the strange shape that seemed to be moving on in him very fast.
"Oi! Mek! Wot's dat?!" One of the Shoota Boyz extended a finger and pointed up to the blue sky above them.
"...Well, I fink it dat might be da extra bitz we asked fer! But why'z they deliverin' 'em here..."
One of the Nobz leading the squad batted the Mek aside with his oversized chainbladed Choppa, which softly brimmed in his huge green hands. "No...no, y'git! Look at itz shape! Dat'z da kan for the bigger 'umies!"
As the drop pod rocketed closer, the Shoota Boy glanced upward once again. If he had brows, they would be arched, and if a bone-white Drop Pod with an Imperial Aquila and a dagger and wings hadn't landed directly on top of him and flattened him, he might have still been gazing skyward. Several of the Orks, including the Nob, were thrown aside by the impact, all except for the Mek. Out popped from the pod was Interrogator-Chaplain Araqiel, who swung his crozius rightward and buried it in the face of the Ork Mekboy, whose skull, and what could be loosely defined as a brain by a sapient species' standards, were completely obliterated by the power field that the Crozius Arcanum so potently wielded.
His blood-red storm bolter thundered, rattling with potent boltshells of awe-inspiring power and flying past the hapless Slugga Boyz, swinging their Choppas towards his pitch-black armour. They found their mark in his chest, but to no avail. Given his Astartes strength, further augmented by his Terminator Armour's powerful servos, he managed to shrug them off, using the momentum of their own weapons embedded within his armour to toss them aside. Multiple slugga shots impacted, and soon flattened, against his indomitable, Adamantium skin. He soon responded with more plumes of dual-barreled storm bolter fire, whose rounds soon impacted in the heads of the Orks and blew their bodies to chunky crimson bits.
"Nuffin's werkin' against da bloody tincan 'umie! Bring up da Beamy Deff!" Barking an order, the Nob's Loota Boyz soon moved into position and set up nearby with their weapons. Given their Warlord was once from the Deathskullz, who were known for having an excess of Lootaz, it was all but inevitable that his freebooting Waaagh! would soon have their ranks filled with them. As they fired their beamy deffguns after they braced themselves, holding on to their potent weapons as twin beams launched forth and narrowly missed the Chaplain, who retorted by firing another burst from his storm bolter. One of the beams did eventually find their mark, scorching the surface of his pauldron and just missing his Crux Terminatus.
Another bone-white pod landed in the trees nearby, slamming right through the wood and shattering it, sending splinters out like a grenade detonating. Bursting straight out of his pod with no time to lose was Brother Ambriel, his assault cannon blazing in the direction of the Ork Nob not a moment later. The latter got up from his place in the dirt, bellowing a proud "WAAAGH!!!" as he swung his Big Choppa brimming with furious, inanimate hatred in the direction of the Deathwing Terminator. The latter's assault cannon fire tore holes in the advancing, brutish Ork, but it was as if the greenskin felt nothing and cared even less about his injuries, approaching Ambriel and wildly swinging. A glancing hit impacted against his armoured chest, causing sparks to flicker into life as the momentum took the Ork's swing away. Thinking fast, Ambriel charged his power fist and followed up the Ork's retort with a devastating punch to the gut, which sent the Nob staggering backwards.
Charging through the forest to Ambriel's aid was Standard Bearer Malphas, the banner of Deathwing upon his hunchbacked armour flapping in the wind, depicting an angelic figure laying upon the ground with a broken sword and a fortress in the background shattering against the impact of what looked like divine intervention. His heavy boots impacting against the forest floor as his storm bolter blazed with righteous vengeance, his own power fist charging and finding its mark in the Nob's face. Ambriel followed up the hit by grabbing on to the Ork's head and grinding it within his grip, crushing the Orkoid's cranium in a bloody pulp. They both turned to Chaplain Araqiel, who, while they were occupied with the largest of the Ork party, had made his solemn advance towards the Ork Lootaz' lines and dispatched their squad, courtesy of his Crozius.
"Where did the Brother-Sergeant, Champion and Apothecary land?" The Chaplain asked. It was well hidden, but there was concern in his voice.
"Last I saw," Ambriel briefly gazed at the red on his hand, "one of the pods took a hit from Ork cannons upon landfall. Makes sense. Our objective was to neutralise any and all anti-aircraft batteries the Orks had planted around the forest. Damn xenos."
Malphas loaded a fresh box into his storm bolter, the drained magazine falling to the earth. "Curiously efficient of the damned greenskins, no doubt."
Ambriel sighed from behind his helmet. "I swear the Orks, though their intelligence thankfully still lacks, are growing craftier by the decade."
The Chaplain cocked his head, his skull-faced, grim visage gazing into Ambriel's. "No time to dwell on it. We must find the rest of our squad. Our sensors indicated there was a clearing in the forest nearby. If we consider the position of the Ork guns, it is most likely they landed in the same clearing. Come forth and follow, brothers."
For a while the trio of Terminators found themselves following the obsidian-armoured form of Araqiel for quite some time, that was until their Lyman's Ears picked up the sound of discharging boltguns. "This way," the Chaplain growled, thrusting his Crozius forward, gesturing at a mountainside pathway. Picking up the pace, or, trying to, given the heaviness of their Tactical Dreadnought Armour, the trio traveled down the forest path and to the clearing. Past the dense brush and the tall trees, they found the other half of the squad pinned down by Ork fire. Shoota Boyz armed with over-sized Big Shootas rattled their crude, yet effective weapons towards the Terminators, who were pinned in cover. The robe-shrouded figure of Samson was unmistakable, as was the snow-white helmet and Narthecium of Apothecary Zephon. Champion Zaphkiel held his halberd tightly, a solemn, silent patience, waiting for their moment to strike.
"Thank the Lion you're here!" the Sergeant declared. "We were waiting for the rest of you before beginning our assault. Ready?" Samson shouted over hails of fire. While Terminator Armour was all but implacable, the Orks had far more ammunition to outlast them. It was clear the pod that had been shot down was Sinclaire's, as fresh scorch marks and dents not seen some time beforehand marred his otherwise immaculate armour.
With multiple big shoota-operating Boyz, Nobz, Loota Boyz and other greenskin ranks, the Terminators remained in their position until further notice. Now, they made their assault.
"Affirmative," the squad chanted in unison, before activating their teleporters, homing in on Samson's new position as he teleported from his cover in the clearing to the cliffs up above, surprising the Ork heavy weapon operators. Soon, the rest of the squad followed. Delan slew droves of the greenskins with his Crozius, while Malphas and Ambriel made short work of the Slugga Boyz and Shoota Boyz with power fist, assault cannon and storm bolter alike, their barrels blazing and littering the grassy landscape with shells, scorching the earth with boltfire and their fists crackling with ruthless energy that thirst for the Orks' blood.
As was his specialty, Champion Idaeus plunged the tip of his Halberd of Caliban into the head of another Ork Nob, twisting it and reducing his skull to pulp, going for squad leaders and the largest Orks, leaving the smaller ones to the rest of the squad. Samson soon found Lightbearer plunged into bodies of a greenskin Burna Boy or several before they got the chance to roast his armour with him inside, and Zephon found a good practical use for his Apothecarion drill, which was performing involuntary lobotomies on Ork heads.
"For the Emperor." Zaphkiel coldly announced to Samson, a statement which could have sent shivers down a normal human's spine, given the unnatural quality of his voice behind his helmet.
Sergeant Sinclaire showed his prowess with practiced swordsmanship, easily dispatching the Orks with skilled parries, counters and blows. Four of huge, hammer-wielding Nobs closed in on him, and he retaliated by first firing a flurry of boltfire into one of the Nobs' guts using his storm bolter before plunging his sword into the weak area, twisting, then cleaving upwards to cut the greenskin in half from below, eviscerating his entire head in two. One of the Nobs successfully landed a hit, annotated by nigh-unintelligible bellows and grunts. The hammer impacted against the hunchback of his armour, which knocked the Marine forward, using the momentum to barrel into one of the other Orks and toss him aside. The third Nob attempted to close in, whose blow was blocked by the sturdy blade Sinclaire wielded. Thrusting his arms forward with his prodigious strength, he raised his sword over his head and spoke;
"Enjoy your beheading, filthy xeno."
The Ork's ears twitched as he recovered. "Why ya' bloody gi--"
Tragically, his sentence was cut short by the sharp object landing in his head with a audible, sharp *thunk*! The Deathwing Sergeant, with a sort of grace that would not be suggested by his bulky armour, spun on his heel, pulling his blade from the oversized greenskin and sword plunging into the belly of the last remaining Nob.
"I hate to cut and run, greenskin, but this world is ours," he hissed from behind his silver mask, cleaving upward using the sword and cutting him in half with the same technique he used before. It took little effort, given his muscle. The Terminator extended a hand and thrust it forward, pushing the Ork, or at least half of him, to the ground. The entire squad was heavily blooded as the Sergeant rejoined them.
"Araqiel, did you locate the Ork gun batteries?" the Sergeant inquired, straightening his posture.
Delan pulled his embedded Crozius from the skull of an Ork Slugga Boy, glancing towards Samson. "Indeed. However, the guns are heavily fortified. These were but patrols. The bulk of the horde are near the emplacements."
Samson's eyes shot from place to place. "Hmmmh. Are those cannons Imperial, or, did the Orks bring them?'
"The former," Malphas grunted, stepping forward, clenching his bloodstained power fist. "Ambriel was right, earlier. These Orks are not fooling around."
The Sergeant glanced nearby. "We should link up with any Imperial Guardsmen we can find. They will be hard-pressed trying to defend the hives from the Orks while they infest the more rural areas." He suggested, as Brother Ambriel shuffled around, his fingers drumming on the trigger of his assault cannon. He seemed troubled by something.
Zaphkiel stepped forward, raising his halberd, turning it around, and slamming the pointed edge into the ground. "If I may suggest something, Sergeant."
Samson's head slowly cocked upwards, gazing at the Champion with hidden eyes. "Speak, brother. I am open to suggestions."
"We should send two Terminators to regroup the scattered Guardsmen around the forests, and regroup with them at their base of operations. The remaining four of us will go and remove the Orks and their vile alien hands from our cannons. The sight of our Terminator armour alone will be enough to lift the spirits of the Guard," Zaphkiel finished. A brief, lingering silence held over them, before another sounded.
"Who of us is willing to go run errands and find some hapless Guardsmen who are likely already dead?" Ambriel spoke, shaking his head. "A waste of time, Champion."
"Silence, brother." Samson shot a hand forward with a pointed finger. "He has a point. The more manpower we have, a better chance of reaching the smaller hives. Idaeus and I will go - I will contact Belial and ask for him to send his men and their remaining vehicles to the Guard base. You better get moving, Interrogator-Chaplain. You will lead the squad for now."
Araqiel's pauldrons rose as he shrugged. "Where will you both start?"
Samson chuckled, a low bellow from behind his respirator, as he drew an auspex from his armour - which was mag-locked to his hip.
"I did not come unprepared. The Chaplain consulted his own," he gestured with said auspex.
The Terminator Sergeant turned on his heel, and with the Champion, he soon trudged off into the forest. The rest of the squad was unwilling to stay around, and so they ventured off, following the sounds of the captured, Ork cannons pounding, firing against the sky.
A sword was drawn from where the tank commander was, stabbing the sky. She laid in the hatch of a Leman Russ Vanquisher, which, in response to her order, fired its namesake cannon, impacting in the trees nearby. Ork Wartrukks rumbled through the battlescarred terrain, attempting to navigate through a sea of tank shells, lasfire, bolts, bullets and splinters from the exploding treeline. Her vox crackled to life underneath her peaked cap, pressing a finger to her ear. Atleast four other Leman Russes stood with her, and a pair of Chimeras, true to their moniker as the "Hammer of the Emperor", as they hammered endless storms of firepower into the enemy. The Ork trukks didn't look like they were going anywhere any time soon.
"These Orks are just pouring out of the place. I didn't know the Waaagh would be this big! Anyone on vox yet?!" She spoke into the vox-set, gazing over at the intruding Wartrukks while the Vanquisher's cannon continued leading up shots. It took a few seconds between blasts, given the length of the tank's cannon. If it wanted to hit its target, it would have to with patience, not by throwing down as much firepower as possible.
"This is Lord-Commissar Morran Crissinger of the 102nd Sirian Bulwarks! I am currently onboard a Chimera and on route to Aplagua Base! The rest of the regiment is completely scattered! We need to get to the manufactorum line leading to Hive Spire Purus, alert the rest of the Hives and defend Numene from the greenskin onslaught! We are currently being pursued by an entire Battlefortress!"
"This is Knight-Commander Devona Patrias, of the 43rd Sirian Vanquishers! Where is your current station, Crissinger?!" She commanded, her face stalwart.
A gasp was heard and impacting bullets followed soon after. "South-east of the base, approaching quickly! You can't possibly miss the devastation left in our wake!" The Lord-Commissar finished.
"Hold tight!" She lowered her voice. After the response, Crissinger's vox-signal crackled, and ceased.
Gazing over to the destroyed Wartrukks, which had been obliterated the previous battle, she narrowed her previously observant look. Pulling her finger from her ear, she outstretched her arm holding the power sword, towards her left, which was indeed some sort of south-easterly direction. The vehicles soon hummed to life again, and lumbered over the battlefield, which could be easily described as a hellscape with enough redecorating and shattered trees. A Russ trudged over an Ork corpse or two as it came along. Eventually, after rolling past, over, or around the destroyed forest, they came to some greenery - a scene mostly untouched by the previous battle, a stark contrast to what they saw but moments ago. They found a road, and came into formation - Knight-Commander Patrias' Vanquisher came to the middle, commanding from the rear. Then, the Chimeras rolled to behind her, and the other four Russes formed a vanguard of sorts, two tanks to the left, and two to the right.
The sounds of war circulated in the distance, from which it was closing in face. The boom of cannons, the thunder of boltfire, the rattle of Autoguns, and the discharge of Las-weapons. A thing to behold for some Guardsmen, like the gloryhogs. But for some, they were sounds they would prefer to forget. Now, was no time to muse on the nature of war, for they had a planet to defend.