The angel of the First looked on at what his brothers had wrought. Desolation as far as his genetically enhanced eyes could see. A wisp of smoke drifted lazily across his vision. It’s meandering tendrils a stark contrast to the swift violence that was carried out just hours before. The angel turned his head to watch a building crumble under it’s own weight, it’s structure riddled with battle wounds. Dust splayed out from the devastation as the rockcrete grinded against itself in its descent.
He and his brothers had laid waste to this forsaken planet in the name of the Emperor. Their duty had been performed with precision and an unwavering determination. The cursed enemy were defiant to the end, those known as The Brethren of the Golden Strain. Tainted by the insidious xenos genestealers.
There was no hope for this planet. Once its defense systems fired on the angel’s vessel the planet’s fate was sealed. No mercy was expected and certainly not given. Control of the defense systems meant all levels of the planet had been corrupted by the xenos plague. Therefore all had to be purged. An attempt to preserve industry and infrastructure would be made but the priority was eradication of the cancer that infested this planet.
Eventually the angels had made their way to the governor’s palace to execute those in power. Twisted abominations had met them. Hulking monsters with crude weapons. All had been slain. The governor himself, riddled with mutations was executed without ceremony, despite his pleading and protests. At the last he cursed the Emperor and the angels. He was cut short as the angel stomped on his head, spraying brain matter and skull fragments across the rich carpet.
And so the angel stood and contemplated as explosions rained down from above, destroying the last of the buildings. None would be left living here. In the centuries to come this place would be rebuilt to become a productive member of the Imperium once more.
The breaching pod slammed into the space hulk, cutting deep into it’s twisted body. With a jolt the pod screeched to a stop and opened up into the belly of the hulk. Code named Endless Despair, the space hulk lived up to its name. The five terminators turned on their shoulder mounted spotlights, cutting into the gloom as the decouplers hissed and detached.
With their sergeant taking point, the terminators of the Blood Angels chapter resolutely moved into the oppressive darkness. Their stomping armor drowning out the clunks and hisses of the hulk.
It did not take long for the enemy to attack Hated xenos attacked them soon after their extraction from the breaching pod. The Blood Angels welcomed it. The Sergeant’s power sword thrummed to life and cut down the first, his storm bolter taking the next in the chest. Explosive rounds covered the terminators in gore, their holy armor sullied by the filth.
Suddenly a door exploded inward, a thrashing xenos besetting brother Petrarch. Brother Acrion behind him cut down the twisted this with his lightning claws, the pieces of it’s body splattering to the ground it’s claws still twitching. Without missing a beat, Brother Petrarch turned his heavy flamer to the destroyed door and filled the chamber beyond with purifying flame. Screeches and howls emanated out from the opening eventually diminishing to pitiful squeals as the xenos burned alive.
First to fall was Brother Belarius who held up the rear. A xenos claw burst out of the wall and slashed across his throat, taking off his head in one savage blow. His body fell to its knees, blood spurting out of the exposed stump and slumped to the side against the wall. Storm bolter fire rang out from the survivors covering the wall in exploding shells.
Smoke rose from the barrels of the terminators guns as they waited for any movement, the blood rage rising. Still they controlled themselves, for they were of the first and discipline was firmly entrenched. Hearing nothing, they carried on, marking the resting place of their fallen brother for later extraction.
Twenty minutes later Brother Meros and Petrarch were the next to fall, rushed by several genestealers at once from the rear. Brother Petrarch’s heavy flamer chaotically spraying burning promethium everywhere, covering the ceiling in flames as his ruined chest spilled out it’s life blood. Brother Meros in the midst of slamming his chainfist into the chest of one genestealer was taken out by another, his arm shorn off at the shoulder, quickly followed by his torso.
The sergeant, overtaken by rage at seeing his betherin slain pushed past Brother Acrion and slashed one of the surviving xenos to pieces with this power sword. The warning from Brother Acrion fell dead on his lips as the berzerker Sergeant overextended and fell to slashing claws. But even in his death throes, the Sergeant managed to blow the head and shoulders off of one genestealer and slice another in half with his power sword before he finally succumbed to his wounds. Brother Acrion dispatched the remaining two with his arcing claws. The silence was oppressive. Only Brother Acrion remained.
Stamping down the corridor Brother Acrion watched as a xenos turned the corner and charged towards him. At the same time another genestealer broke out of the ceiling and scuttled down the wall. Brother Acrion began the litany of battle, bellowing iit fruitlessly at his foes.
I am the edge of His Sword,
I am the tip of His Spear,
I am the mail about His Fist,
The Emperor’s chosen,
Covered in the Blood of Sanguinius,
I will smite my enemies,
I will purge the heretic,
I will burn the witch,
For I am the Emperor’s judgement.
He splayed out his claws as another genestealer burst out of the floor, ready to deal out the Emperor’s justice against the hated xenos.
Brother Acrion fell to the ground as a claw pierced his heart, his litany still thundering in his head.
The unceasing wind howled around the nameless warrior but he remained still as a statue. His outward appearance a deception as he scanned the horizon vigilantly for any threat that was foolish enough to show itself. It was his duty and he did not waver from it, for that way lay death.
They came to this planet 13 days ago after a distress beacon was picked up via the ship’s Astropath. The raving, disjointed messages made no sense but came with a Magenta level encryption and so the war host saw fit to investigate.
They arrived to nothing and no one. The planet appeared deserted, but signs of life persisted. A half drunk caff here, a cache of food here, but no people could be found. That was until the first night when the horde attacked. Mindless men, women and children interwoven with shadows. Their staggering charge no less dangerous for its slowness. The Librarian said they were tainted by the warp. Tainted or not, they died like any other enemy with bolt and blade. The morning came and the horde retreated to the wastes, shrouded by shadow and dust.
The warriors came upon the monoliths in the middle of the wastes and it was there they found the source of the madness. Shifting shadows drew out from the monoliths, twisting and striking. A claw here, a hand wielding a knife there. To look on them was madness, as several serfs found out. Like the horde, they were systematically terminated by the warriors in battle plate.
Full of dark energy, the monoliths towered over the war host. Each day brought changes to the seemingly immobile stone. A movement of hand here, a change of face there. Today one held a stone man wrapped in chains, a soundless scream frozen on his lips. Where yesterday they had faces of maidens, today they held menacing skulls.
But worse than the shadows were the unceasing whispers. Even the stalwart chosen of the Emperor were taken by them if they did not remain forever vigilant. The nameless warrior did not mourn his lost brothers, for they succumbed to weakness and that way lay destruction. And so his unwavering faith protected him and still he watched and waited for the night when they would come again.
The Battlecruiser had been screaming through the warp for 9 weeks, eager to reach its destination. Just as eager, the battle brothers of the Black Templars inside it were preparing for war. Fervent prayers to the Emperor echoed out through the corridors, contrasting with the ring of steel as warrior sparred against warrior.
Brother Dietrich of the Crusader Squad Demies stalked through the corridors of the Battlecruiser lost in thought. He and his fellow Initiates had just attended the daily sermon of their company chaplain after which Brother Dietrich felt the need to walk the halls. Soon the sounds of his brothers died away and without realizing it, he had made his way to areas of the bowels of the ship where his brothers rarely tread. The warrior passed terrified serfs, caught by surprise by the towering Initiate. Many of them cowered in the corners as the warrior passed, some whimpering, some whispering prayers to the Emperor, some just stared in awe. The soldier paid them no mind, they being beneath his notice.
Thoughts raced through his mind. It had been several months since The Barbarossa Crusade had been fought, and he and his brothers were hungry for meting out the justice of the Holy Emperor. The Cruxis Crusade was just outside of their grasp, the physics of space and time delaying the slaying of witch and hated xenos.
He closed another air lock and stopped, resting the butt of his battle axe on a storage container. The cramped corridor felt oppressive to his colossal bulk. The incense from his censers rose to his nose, calming him and silencing the turmoil of his mind.
Just then klaxon alarms rose and the overhead lights turned a sharp red. Brother Dietrich raised his head, a fervent smile across his face. His power fist clenched involuntarily. At last, he thought. The Black Templars were going to war.
In the four hundred years that Sergeant Efuuy had been serving the Emperor, he had seen many of his brothers perish. Across a thousand worlds he and his kind roamed the stars killing and dying in turn, as was their eternal duty. The old stories always told of grand, noble deaths. Great speeches and heroic efforts were portrayed, but all too often this was not the reality. All to often real combat saw death come suddenly and without warning. A gurgling rasp replaced the noble speeches, a tumbling head supplanted heroic deeds.
The mission was much like any other. Destroy the insidious chaos cult that had murdered the planetary governor and reestablish order. The strike team landed and dealt out death and destruction on the Emperor’s enemies without remorse. Seven days and nights the fighting had gone on and enemies of the Emperor were slain one after the other by the Sergeant and his brothers nine. That was until they reached the bowels of the palace, for there lay madness. The cultists in their zealotry had performed dark rites, that no man should know. Out of the shadows abominations rose as the rites were completed, their first action to slay the cultists and feed on their souls.
The stalwart warriors were not deterred. Their faith drove them on, hacking at the insane faces and limbs of horrors not of this reality. The first to fall was Brother Rewul, a deamon lashing out, devouring his head and shoulders in one swift bite. His body fell pathetically to the ground as his life blood gushed out on the flagstones but still the warriors drove on.
As the space marines fought on, the chaos of battle grew thick and soon the warriors were divided, fighting for their lives. And on they fought, for they knew no fear. But fearless or not, they were not invincible and so the Sergeant watched the flat lines flare in his helmet as one by one his brothers perished to the onslaught of evil that oppressed them on all sides. On and on the Sergeant fought, barely even realizing he was the last. And still he fought until he found himself a slight reprieve as the monstrosities he slaughtered reeled back.
And then all went black. There was no pain, no feeling at all, just the endless dark of nothingness. Just as suddenly light flared. Painful, searing light. His eyes opened and he was back in the depths. Out of nowhere a blinding light shone down on the faithful warrior. He could feel his vision slowly fading but he could not look away, for in the lights embrace possessed him. Just as he though he could bear no more, the light intensified and he flung his arms back as an entity possessed him. But this was no entity of dark chaos, but the Emperor’s spirit himself. “Worry not my child for you have fought faithfully”. Tears streamed down the warrior’s face as the light enveloped and overtook him. The light was all and he was the light. Rapture and pain in equal measure over took him and as suddenly as it appeared, the light was gone and the warrior with it.
Inquisitor Einala Olphes is not a believer in mankind as a species. Too many times has she seen the depravity and corruption of her species. No matter how many of the unpure are put to the holy Emperor’s sword or cleansed with righteous bolter there are ten more, one hundred more, one thousand more, one million more to hold to the Emperor’s light.