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Author’s Notes: This is a redux version of my previous story. All the former scenes are still in by I have decided that writing straight action is not the way to make a good story. Therefore I have added an additional ‘character section’’ in each chapter, detailing the past and personalities of the individual relevant to he chapter.
This one does not have much but the second revised chapter has much more.
Edited by TheLoneHunter
Conquest of Karovioa was given over to Lord General Zarius Healy, a man regarded as something of a rising star in the Guard high echelons who had hit a bit of a snag in his advancement and was looking for a boost, he found it in Karovioa.
The force under his command was the Second army of the Crusade force. Only the 1st and 2nd corps of the force were available to attack Karovioa alongside the 2nd 5th and 7th companies of the Eagle Claws Adeptus Astartes.
After the initial conquest of Gerlaf station the initial Imperial drive towards the lowlands was stalled by fierce Tau resistance, slowly but surely the guard pressed on taking Newark city, to the south the General petitioned the Eagle Claws astartes chapter to divert the attention of Tau reinforcements for his next big push.
-History of Latter Imperial crusades
The Battleship Avenger- In orbit above Karovioa
The conference room doors slid open and Captain Julian Basiclus, Captain of the Eagle Claws Second Company, Knight-Champion of Epidarus and Commander of the Watch, stepped into the briefing room. The Space Marine carried his helmet in a gauntleted hand and wore an ornate set of gold and violet power armor, while a deep amethyst cloak hung from his shoulders. Sheathed at his side was the ancestral power sword of Solomon Herito, a potent relic of the Eagle Claws chapter. His features were regal and hawk-like, with dark brown eyes and a twin-headed eagle tattooed over his right eye, alongside three black service studs.
Basiclus was greeted by the sight of a tall man seated on the command throne across from the central hololith, a bionic monocle set into his eye. Imposing and authoritative, General-Militant Healy sat surrounded by a gaggle of servitors, bodyguards and staff officers, comprising his retinue.
“My lord Astartes, we are honored that you have come,” he addressed the Captain, his voice high and refined with the accent of the privileged upper classes of Sarvonis IV.
“The Eagle Claws are always ready to make war upon the alien and the heretic, General. Save your praises and concentrate your efforts on this battle,” Basiclus replied smoothly. He did not conceal his words; the Eagle Claws had a reputation as one of the more egotistical chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. If he were a Guardsman, then he could have been flogged for speaking in such a manner to a high-ranking Imperial officer. But the General Militant merely nodded thoroughly at the Captain’s words.
“Very well, here is the situation.” He gestured around him. The room was large and well crafted, designed with a brisk military look to it. Projected into the middle of the large hololith were images of the Guard senior staff and officers from various regiments participating in the campaign, members of the Machine Cult, and astropaths.
But Basiclus’s eye was not drawn to them, instead falling on a group of figures standing at the other end of the room. They looked more like space pirates and hive gangers than any kind of imperial officer. They wore a motley collection of rags and leathers, some with implanted bionics and other collections of gewgaws and weapons. At their head was a serious-looking man in a black trench coat. He seemed to be the leader. Taking in all of these facts, Basiclus quickly drew a conclusion. The man had to be an Inquisitor. It was only logical.
“I presume that you are of the Inquisition?” he asked.
“You are right, but not in the way you think,” the addressed man answered softly.
“What do you mean?”
“That is precisely why we have called upon your Marines, Captain,” Healy said as he leaned forward in his chair, his bionic eye shining with red light. “Now, the problem is that this man is just an apprentice. The Inquisitor Lord Falvius Neer has been lost, and his aquila shuttle was shot down just two days ago, in hostile territory over here.” He gestured to a green section of the hololith, at the Tau-controlled portion of Karovioa. “After our push into Karovioa Secundus and WeqilCity, the Tau have lost a vast area of ground. From what we currently know, they are attempting to regroup and launch a counter-offensive. What I petition you and your Eagle Claws, Captain, is to crush the Tau counterattack before it can gain real momentum. The Inquisitor has disappeared into the area where we have located the highest concentration of Tau deployment.” He pointed to a set of glowing red icons.
“Lord-Militant, you do not need to ask. It is our sworn duty to protect the Inquisition’s secrets from reaching the hands of the unworthy. I give you my word that we shall return with him,” Basiclus swore solemnly.
“Excellent.” As Healy leaned back in his throne, the room exploded into chatter as the officers peered over the hololith and began to clamor for orders from the Lord-Militant. The man in the black trench coat stepped over to Basiclus.
“My lord Astartes,” he began. ‘’Why don’t we take this somewhere quieter?’’
Outside, in the spacious halls of the Imperial Battleship Avenger, Basiclus and the interrogator strode side by side, talking of the mission set before them. Basiclus had learned that the man’s name was Xeamus, the apprentice of Lord Neer.
“What my master had obtained was very special,” the young Inquisitor explained. “During the invasion, he had identified an old burial ground in one of the liberated cities, and discovered something there he deemed extremely important, too important for any wandering Guardsmen to find.”
“I am to presume that said artifacts had something to do with Chaos?” Basiclus asked, almost suspiciously. It seemed to be almost cliché to have an Inquisitor conspiring with Chaos, from what the Captain knew of the radical faction.
“Shh! My lord Astartes! The walls have ears.” Xeamus fished in his trench coat and pulled out a silver circle icon, pressing a button on its surface. A silvery blue energy field blossomed from the device, enveloping them both. Immediately, Basiclus’s hand shot out and plucked the apprentice Interrogator off the ground by his throat.
“What trickery is this?” growled the captain as he looked around for signs of an ambush. Was it some sort of trap?
“No…no trickery! J-Just a silence field so we can speak in peace!” choked Xeamus through his swiftly collapsing windpipe. The Marine’s fingers released their grip, sending him tumbling to the floor, wheezing for breath.
“I’m…I’m sorry about that,” he apologized, although Basiclus could detect an undercurrent of resentment in his voice.
“Do not bother. It is I who made the error, and I apologize,” the Astartes replied, offering a hand to his companion.
“Thank you,” Xeamus muttered, accepting Basiclus’s help. “Now let us get back to business. Those artifacts were of a warp-based nature, unfortunately. I know what you must think, but I can assure you that my master intended to destroy them at once, and keep them out of the hands of any agents that his rivals in the Inquisition might have sent.”
“If that is true,” Basiclus asked suspiciously, “then why did he not destroy the artifacts then and there? I am certain that Inquisitor Neer had melta bombs and psykers available to him.”
“And he might risk having daemons appear from the destruction of the artifact, he had to destroy it in a controlled environment. The exact mechanics are hard to understand but trust me, that is how it works,” the apprentice explained. Noting the Astartes’s doubtful expression, he quickly continued, “My lord is not a daemon-worshipper, he is a straightforward puritan. We are not trying to trick you, Brother-Captain.”
Basiclus erased all signs of distrust from his face, but kept his true thoughts to himself. “Very well, Interrogator, will we do so.”
“Also, if my lord has been compromised, or you cannot extract him in time, then I am afraid he must be granted the Emperor’s Peace,” the apprentice added as an afterthought.
The Astartes nodded in understanding. “I see.” Turning around without so much as a farewell, he strode away back down the corridor, lost in his own thoughts.
Xeamus waited until the Marine had disappeared from sight to deactivate the silencer device. A slight smile spread across his face as he placed the disk back inside his trench coat.
Everything was going as planned.
Sword of the Emperor-Astartes Flagship.
Captain Basiclus stood in the Sword of the Emperor’s briefing room, surrounded by Captain Kommneus, Captain Lakaris, and the collected senior sergeants and officers of the Chapter, who were also clad in full combat power armor. The command room was ornate and bore four large marble pillars at each corner. The table in the center was plated with priceless gold leaf, a mark of the Claws’ prestige, and the tapestries on the walls depicted legions of Marines crushing the life out of countless daemons.
“My brothers, do you heed the call of battle?” Basiclus began, the standard opening ritual of the planning session.
“WE DO!” came the rumbling reply of over two dozen voices, speaking as one.
“Then by the will of the Emperor, we shall crush our enemies,” Basiclus said solemnly. “The time has come once again, brothers, when we shall make the alien filth tremble before our might. Our blades and skills shall both be honed, our glory increased! And yes, Brother-Sergeant, you may indeed have an opportunity to claim the life of a second xenos commander.”
Across the room, Sergeant Darius smiled. He had been awarded the marksman’s honors three times in a row, a legendary feat.
“Well, watch your head, lad. If it gets too big, we will have to put you in a Dreadnought to handle the weight,” the captain remarked jokingly.
There was a chorus of laughter from the Marines. Darius’s was notably the loudest of them all.
“Quiet!” Sergeant Sulla, a tall-scarred veteran of the Vanguard squads, pounded his fist. “None of us will claim any kills unless we know our objectives!”
“Brothers, we have two of them,” explained the Captain. “The first is to crush any xenos we can find…as usual. I doubt many of you will find that difficult.” There was some chuckling around the large holo-table.
“Of course,” Basiclus continued, “We also must rescue an Inquisitor.”
“An Inquisitor?” Sergeant Laetres asked in bewilderment. “Must we interfere with their little power struggles?”
“It is no political game they are playing, there are tainted artifacts involved. Now think of this long and hard, we will succeed where the Inquisition failed, and destroy the artifacts. If the Inquisition has proved to have a tainted member, or Lord Neer has been secretly trafficking with daemons, then we will execute him and destroy the artifact. Either way, victory shall be ours. We are the Space Marines; the mailed fist of the Emperor. We cannot fail.”
Basiclus pressed a button on the console, bringing up a projected topographical map.
“Here is the terrain data, brothers. Analyze it well, along with what combat records we have recorded concerning the Tau scum. I shall join you for the final prayer session before the planetside drop.”
The Eagle Claws left nothing to chance, every aspect of the battle they were about to fight was analyzed to near-perfection. The terrain was studied well, and appropriate vehicles were sent down to the surface by means of Thunderhawk transport. Combat stratagems depending on probable weather and enemy force composition were selected and diagnostics were run. While the Eagle Claws could not claim to be the toughest or fastest of the Astartes Chapters, they could easily claim to be one of the best prepared.
The Tau cadres had established a field camp in the Weqil foothills, gathering their forces for an unknown purpose. They had come with strange and terrible techno-sorcery, and had thus proved to be worthy opponents for the Astartes. So far, the Eagle Claws relished the thought of facing such a radically different opponent than the hordes of Chaos that they had fought before.
Basiclus was one of the inner circle of the chapter, being one of the most skilled commanders and champion of the Eagle Claws, and also the heir-apparent to the Chapter-Master, should the venerable warrior fall in the name of the Emperor. Fresh from fighting Orks, Basiclus had arrived in the Karovioa system to bolster his brethren against the forces of the Tau Empire. One xenos was no different than the other, he had thought. There was some truth to this; though the Tau were certainly putting up a greater fight than the greenskins had.
Over three dozen drop pods containing Space Marines from the Second, Fifth, Seventh, First and Tenth Companies had launched from the Sword of the Emperor and the Perfection’s Light to the coordinates that were provided by the Imperial Command. As they shot through the skies in a wave of burning red light, their internal guidance systems centered on the patch of land near the Tau position. The xenos had set up camp close to a group of rocky foothills and forests, grouping for a fresh offensive.
The Eagle Claws had chosen one of the largest Tau concentrations and began their attack at once. The Tau way of war revolved around distant combat and redeploying to best match their firepower. The Marines had specifically chosen a strategy that would leave the Tau little room to maneuver and only short range to fight the Astartes, whereas the Eagle Claws could exploit their short-range shock abilities to their full potential. By coming in hard and fast and landing close to the enemy, the Tau had barely enough time to react to the hammer blow that Basiclus had just dropped on them.
However, that certainly did not mean that they would go down without a fight.