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This story, in terms of Warhammer 40,000 time, is old. It tells of the star dragons; a Dark-Angels successor chapter of the 5th founding. They keep a similar organization to the original Dark-Angels, and also include copmpanies such as the Deathwing and the Ravenwing. They are a proud chapter, but shrouded in just as much mystery as the Dark-Angels themselves, because they are close allies. Just like their predecessor, the Star Dragons hate the Fallen Angels more than anything else, and their love for their Primarch, Lion'El Johnson, and the emperor is strong and resounds in everything they do.
This tale tells of the first battle of the Star Dragons. The Battle of Draconis IV, a planet in a small solar system not far from the Cadian gate and the Eye of Terror. The planet is home to some ferocious creatures, called Draconis Serpents. These are collosal creatures that can match a Tyrannid Carnifex in combat, that can muster great speed from their powerful wings and legs. These Serpents are rare on the planet itself, and nonexistent in the srest of the universe, and they are the icon of the Star Dragons.
The battle of Draconis IV started with a minor outbreak of heresy, under command of a group of Nurgle Plaguemarines. The Cadian 32nd Regiment was sent to quench this rebellion, and at first it seemed an easy task. The heretical citizens were easily killed or made to repent, but things wouldn't go quite as planned...
The sky was pitch black. It was midday, but thick clouds of smoke and poisonous gasses prevented the three suns from illuminating the otherwise almost merry surface of the planet. The soaring airplanes filled the sky with a thundering noise, but the roaring of their engines was barely audible over the deafening sound of the shelling that was going on. A small battery of Leman Russ battle tanks was pounding away on the ruins of Dragon Hive. Marshall Fernandes of the Cadian 32nd was looking at the smoking debris several hundred yards away. As he put the binoculars to his eyes he saw several shadows moving through the destroyed buildings. He was not surprised; these chaos marines were tough as hell. Only recently he had witnessed a leman russ landing a shot straight in the middle of a line of these plague marines, and only one had fallen.
“Movement at 1one o’clock, distance three four niner, over” sounded the speakers of his headset.
“Confirmed. Lock and fire full spread.” Was the short, formal reply. The thundering of the battle cannons filled the air again, and where the plague marines of Nurgle had just stood were now six scorching balls of fire and shrapnel. Captain Fernandes waited for the dust to settle and put the binoculars to his eyes again. Three bodies lay there, their sickly green armors rent and pus oozing out of many wounds. The captain was not satisfied. But before he could give the order to fire again a high-pitched rattle filled the air, and bullets slammed into the side of the tank next to him. A small unit of havocs had taken up positions off to their left flank, and the heavy bolter shells were raining onto the tanks. But they could do nothing against the thick armor of the tanks. Captain Fernandes closed the hatch of the turret, and gave orders to the tank left of his.
“Direct fire to three o’clock, distance two three six. Ten feet up. Fire battle cannon and confirm casualties.”
“Roger. Locking target.”
The captain turned his eyes to the small periscopes inside the turrets. No movement outside. A boom, followed by the thundering impact of a battle cannon shell.
“Successful impact. Three casualties confirmed. Preparing to fire again.”
“Roger. Keep firing untill they are dead or withdrawn.”
Pleased, the captain looked into the rear-view periscope. His face went pale as he saw a missile launcher being prepared to fire on the weak rear of his very own tank.
“Ambush! Missile launchers at si…”
They were captain Fernandes’ last words. Three missiles had been fired, and two tanks exploded in a ball of red flame. With a loud cry an entire army of plague marines leapt up from under the dust and debris, and charged around the tanks. Several powerfists tore the thick hull plating to pieces, and the crew of all tanks were brutally slaughtered. Many of them cried in their intense pain and terror, but the battlecries of the nurgle warriors made them almost inaudible. In less than a minute the six mighty tanks had been reduced to two smoking wrecks and four piles of scrap metal…
Half a mile away, Marshall Bergin witnessed the slaughter. He too had been surprised by this sudden attack, and he had been unable to warn them in time.
“Not again. We are losing the city.” He said, more to himself than to the people around him. Four captains had died already since this war had begun, two weeks ago.
-“We can’t lose it, sir. It will be a valuable outpost to the forces of chaos!” said one of the captains with him.
“I know that, jones” replied the marshall. “But it almost seems as if those damned chaos marines won’t die at all.”
-“Successes have been reported in the southern sectors, sir. Their forces are withdrawing there. Many have been killed.”
“Then why won’t they die here?”
-“It’s the cover, sir. The structures are denser here. It’s easy to evade the blasts between the buildings.”
The Marshall sighed and put the binoculars back to his eyes. For days on end he had been standing like this. Watching the fight. Watching his men fall. But it shouldn’t be long now. Reinforcements were on their way, or so the messages had said. He would soon be relieved, and he wouldn’t have to worry about those blasted nurgle warriors anymore. Pestilence had crept into his camps. Disease had struck everywhere, wounds would only fester, and morale was dangerously low. But it would all be over soon. The last communications had told him of another regiment being sent to relieve him, but communications had been lost a week ago…
Then something caught his eye. Something had appeared from the dark clouds, over the far end of the city. It was dropping rapidly, but he couldn’t make out what it was. Then another one became visible, and another, and another… Soon the sky was filled with the things, falling towards the surface.
“Identify!” the marshall called.
Silence. Dead silence. Not a single sound – not even the wind – was heard for a full thirty seconds.
“Emperor save us… They are mycetic spores! It’s a tyrannid invasion!”
“They must be that splinter fleet that was reported three weeks ago!”
“Where are the reinforcements?!”
Cries of fear and agony were everywhere. The forces of Nurgle were forgotten. Disease and pestilence were yesterday’s news. The tyrannids had arrived, and they were assaulting the planet…
“Call all forces! Retreat to the mountains! Abandon positions, and take every store you can!” Called the marshall through the comms network. He hurried to his Chimera, followed by his bodyguards.
Three days later. Hidden inside a mountain stronghold, Marshall Bergin was pacing the command room. Two more of his captains had fallen. Men were dying every minute, and he was locked inside the mountains. The Nurgle warriors held his flanks in check; they too had taken refuge in the mountains. The tyrannids were on the plains, turning everything into a barren wasteland. And at his back were the high, inhospitable mountains of the Snow-peak range. Bergin didn’t dare go any further in. Temperatures were extremely low there, and strange and powerful creatures were said to inhabit the highest peaks. He couldn’t risk any more than he already did. The tyrannids were held at bay up until now, but he couldn’t hold out much longer. He had less than a quarter of his original force left, and his supplies were running extremely low. So far no permanent damage had been done to the planet; the Marshall knew the tryannids would eradicate all resistance first, but it wouldn’t be long now.
A short yell over the comms system. Suddenly the entire stronghold became an orderly chaos of men hurrying to their battle stations. It was fairly dark outside; most of the clouds were gone, but the twilight had set in hours ago, and the suns had almost set. Quickly all available forces were assembled and stationed. Then everything became silent again. The radar systems had a long range; they could detect enemy activity long before it came within visual range. Minutes ticked by. Marshall Bergin waited impatiently. This would probably be his final battle; he felt it in every fiber of his body. They would lose this battle, and those filthy aliens would devour their flesh. No ceremonial burial for him and his men. His name would have a footnote in the book of honor, but his actual deeds forgotten if no help arrived within the hour.
A faint rumbling of feet and squeaky screams became audible. Shadows were moving just beyond visual range.
“Alpha battery, lock and fire.”
The now so familiar thunder of battle cannons and earthshaker cannons filled the sky again. The huge flare of their barrels lit the area, and a split second later a dozen explosions could be seen in the distance. In the light of the fireballs thousands upon thousands of moving bodies could be made out, with a large number of much larger monsters as well.
“All batteries, lock on target and fire at will.”
Not two seconds later, a seemingly endless booming of cannon fire erupted. Hundreds of shells were fired into the moving tyrannid mass, but they seemed unstoppable. Hundreds, thousands were utterly vanquished in the massive explosions of shells, but countless more came to take their place.
“All squad leaders. Fire when within range.”
The thundering cannons kept bombarding the oncoming tidal wave of organic fury. They seemed unstoppable. A cry went up, and the red beams of lasguns and hellguns sprang up from the forward squads. They shot down dozens of tyrannid gaunts, but the horde did not stop. Would not stop. Could not stop. From behind the first lines, countless more swept up, pushing forward, thundering over the bodies of the fallen. The Fortress was reached. It’s heavily damaged walls easily scaled. Screams of hatred turned into cries of pain and agony. Huge warriors leapt up between the gaunts and genestealers, wreaking havoc upon the doomed imperial guardsmen. Three massive monsters appeared from the shadows. Two Carnifexes and a gargantuan hive tyrant. Their roars almost overwhelmed the thundering cannons, and their incredible claws sliced guardsmen a dozen at a time.
“Pull back! To the second line!”
All those who could hurried back behind the second wall. Tanks were swiftly repositioned. The gates were closed, and the tyrannids shut out. For now.
The thundering of the cannons erupted again. But a new threat was coming on. The flapping of thousands of wings became audible, accompanied by more roars and shrieks. Gargoyles. A rain of fleshborer shots came down on the besieged guard, and a volley of lasgun shots was sent up to meet them. Bodies fell from the sky, but the deadly rain continued. In the mean time the other tyrannids below were busy demolishing the second line of walls, and in some places smaller creatures were already slipping inside. Then with an incredible noise, a part of the wall collapsed onto the alien monsters. Immediately a dozen warriors leapt onto the breach, followed by at least a hundred gaunts and genestealers. A squad of stormtroopers rushed in to hold them back, but there were too many, and they fell within seconds. The fierce warriors fell onto a group of tanks like hungry wolves. Soon they were joined by even larger monstrosities. The tanks were easy prey, and they were destroyed in a matter of moments. Marshall Bergin directed the fire of the other tanks on that location, as it was the only point where the tyrannids had come through en masse. Thousands died in that spot, disintegrated by a hail of shells while trying to scale the breach.
Another part of the wall crumbled, and two dozen men ware dragged down with it. Their cries of pain seared through flesh and bone, and froze the hearts of all who could hear it.
“Hold on men!” Yelled Bergin. “Lat faith guard your mind, and let them feel the wrath of the emperor!” With renewed effort, the guardsmen repelled the onslaught, but it was not nearly enough. Thousands of tyrannids still remained. They poured through the two gaps in the second wall, and cannon after cannon was silenced forever.
“Back to the citadel!”
The final retreat. The citadel was a mighty structure, nearly indestructible and older than the first human settlements on the planet. The remaining soldiers rushed to get inside before the gate was closed. Everybody assembled in the main hall, and the great plasteel doors slammed shut. The heavy doors were bolted and barricaded, and everybody tried to find a sheltered position. They knew the doors wouldn’t hold long against the full strength of a mighty Carnifex. They waited anxiously. They could hear the claws of the smaller aliens scraping along the door and walls, their angry screams almost silent inside the hall. Then it did indeed become silent. Heavy footsteps came up to the doors. A grumble, and some more steps. Then a heavy bang against the gates. They shuddered, but held. Another bang, and a small dent appeared. Another bang, and another. The walls around the hinges began to crack slightly. Bang. Bang. Bang. With a deafening noise the gates came down. Immediately six missile launchers were fired, and the mighty carnifex fell to the ground in a shower of gory blood. Immediately dozens upon dozens of genestealers swarmed over its annihilated carcass, followed by hundreds of gaunts and at least a dozen warriors. Marshall Bergin knew the hive tyrant and a number of zoanthropes, carnifexes, Raveners and other such monsters were still outside, but he didn’t care. He had other problems right now. Hundreds of red laser beams flew towards the opening, and many tryannids fell. But many more reached the desperate guardsmen, and a vicious fight broke out. Some soldiers swarmed on top of a tyrannid warrior, stabbing it everywhere with their bayonets and combat knives. Their sergeant tore it down with his powerfist, and the warrior let out an angry scream. Bolstered by their courage, the otherguardsmen now charged too. Their assult slew many tyrannids, but the genestealers were able combatants.
At the back of it all stood Bergin. His powerfist was charging, and his bodyguard was readying their weapons. This would be their ending, their desperate last stand.
“Draw swords!” Commanded Bergin. “Platoon, ready?!”
“Aye sir!” Was the determined response. Bergin took a deep breath and sighed. He had no other options left. Only a few dozen of his once proud regiment were still alive. They had fought bravely, killed most of the tyrannid monsters, but they were outnumbered too far. He would make such an end as would be worthy of remembrance, even if there was nobody left to remember it.
A looming figure appeared in the doorway. A carnifex looked around the hall, and lumbered in to join the melee. Bergin took another deep breath and looked upon his foes. A tear rolled down his cheek. “FOR THE EMPEROOOOR!”
With a mighty battlecry Bergin threw himself at the carnifex. His powerfist plunged deep into its flesh, but it withstood the blow. It hewed with one of its mighty talons, cutting three of his bodyguard in half, but Bergin managed to dodge it. Again he threw himself at the monster, but to no avail. Its other talon found him first, and critically wounded he fell to the ground.
Then from out of nowhere, a light appeared on the position where the Marshall stood until he had charged. Crackling energies surrounded it, but as it started to fade a loud rattle exploded from it. As the energies dissipated two dozen hulking figures became visible. They wore black and purple armor, with silver eagles shining on their breasts. Their storm bolters and assult cannons were raining vengeful death upon the surprised tyrannids, and their flamers were breathing holy fire. Slowly they advanced upon the tyrannids, driving them ever closer to the door and beyond. Their relentless advance was unstoppable, and all the guardsmen who had survived rallied behind them. Bodies were piled two feet high in some places, but the Mighty terminators – which they were ofcourse – stepped on and over them as if it were nothing. They reached the threshold and halted. But their guns kept pouring death on their forsaken enemies.
Five of the terminators stayed inside, and looked for survivor. Their sergeant approached the bodyguard, and saw the wounded Marshall. “You fought bravely. But you are relieved now.” Said the sergeant. “You have honored and held high the name of the emperor, and have prevailed.”
-“W-who are y…you?” stammered Bergin.
“We are the star dragons.” Was the proud reply. “We are the angels of death, bringers of the emperor’s will, and we have come to claim our homeworld.”
A thundering noise made speech impossible; four thunderhawks landed near the ruined stronghold, and dozens of drop pods rained down on the surface. Land raiders were unlocked from the aircraft, and dreadnoughts and other marines rushed into action, chasing the tyrannids back to the destroyed city.
“Who is your master?” Asked Bergin to the Sergeant.
“Chapter master Marius is leading the assult. He pressed on as quickly as he could to come to your aid, and his sword will bring death to the last of those foul Xenos on this planet.”
“But t…there are also plague marines…”
“Be silent now, and rest assured. Our first and third companies have been sent to aid you. The rest of the chapter is bringing those forsaken traitors to justice. The world will be cleansed by dawn.”
Bergin looked at the large door opening. A few bright stars were visible through it, and from outside he could hear the sounds of battle ever further away. His eyes fell on the bodies of his men who had fallen. Who had given their lives in a final desperate stand to defend the planet. Thirty-two others had survived. Not even a whole platoon. They assembled near their wounded Marshall as an apothecary came up to him. He was put onto a stretcher along with those who could not walk either, and all the survivors were led into the waiting thunderhawks.
“We are finally going home, men.” They said nothing. Their minds were with their fallen comrades, and in prayer to thank the emperor.
“Glory will come to us. We will be rewarded, and sent out again.”
Still no reply. Tears rolled down the Marshall’s cheeks as he remembered all of the men he had personally known. The men who had fought for the emperor. For their homelands. For him. Had followed his orders. Had died for him. He would remember them. All of them. He would record the names of everybody that had served under him on this planet, and would make sure that their names would be remembered forever.
But most of all he thanked the star dragons. For coming only just in time. For keeping the tyrannids from feasting on his flesh, and that of his men. For making that final stand remembered forever in the archives of the imperium…
Last edited by Rogue-Angel; October 8th, 2005 at 20:55.
"I have died a thousand deaths, and I will die a million more..."