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((I started this a looong time ago as some fluff behind my Marines involvement in the Medusa V campaign, with narratives of the battles and adventures of Task Force Caedfel to follow. It's only now I pick it up again. Here's the first chapter, such as it is. The title can change ))
Beneath the surface of Asteroid XB-343.
Caval ran as swiftly as his exhausted legs would carry him, careening down the rough hewn tunnel, his arms waving in all directions. His heart was pounding, his pulse sounding in his ears, his breath coming in painful, ragged gasps. The white-blue glow globes affixed to the ceiling would have lent him more light if they did not flicker out with every explosion on the surface. The globes almost seemed to wink out in time with his raging pulse, so continuous was the bombardment above. Caval reached a “T” in the passage and came to a halt, chest heaving from the exertion. He had not stopped running since the alarms had gone off. Somewhere one of the pipes that brought in water for the base from cisterns installed throughout the asteroid had been ruptured, and now brackish fluid flowed across the floor, ankle deep. Caval looked at his reflection as the water flowed past. In the dim light of the glow globes, he could see his haggard, unshaven face, scraggly beard, and unkempt black hair. His clothes were little more than rags now. He was not even carrying his laspistol anymore, having tossed it aside at the first chance. No, his short time in the service of the Dark Gods had not gone well. Caval leaned against the stone, feeling the vibrations from the attack on the surface, knowing that as he caught his breath, his erst-while cultist brethren and their fledgling camp on the asteroids surface were being annihilated by Astartes. He had taken to his heels as soon as the words “Astartes ship incoming” had been heard over the base vox. In the confusion, he had not been missed. No doubt his dark masters would not be pleased at his cowardice, but how could he serve them dead?
He laughed with little humor, the sound coming out as a strangled, choking sound as he tried to decide between sinister and dexter at the “T.” His dark masters indeed. Caval had been the son of a minor administratum official on the nearby planet Wexhar. Like most teenagers, Caval had been rebellious. His rebellion, however, went past watching dirty holovids, smoking obscura, or stealing from the local dispensorium. Caval wanted more. He hated his proper, law abiding, Emperor worshipping father. All he cared about was his job, his idiotic duty to some corpse on a throne on a planet that might or might not even exist. And so when Caval and his riff raff friends had been approached one day in the back alleys of downhive by a man who claimed to be a prophet of the True Gods of the universe, he had been only too eager to sign up.
Now, on the run, without a single gold Wexharn to his name, unarmed, and almost assured of a violent death, his decision no longer seemed so wise. Caval looked both ways, then looked up, eyebrows arched. The vibrations, and the accompanying flicker in the glow globes, had stopped. Caval took a long, steadying breath. This could only mean one thing. The Astartes were now on the surface of the asteroid. No doubt they would discover the protected elevators to the tunnels. Caval briefly wondered if anyone else had fled to the tunnels. He hoped so. Maybe the Astartes would run into them instead. Caval pushed off the way and started to head down the leftward branch of this particular tunnel. It was as good a direction as any other. He sloshed his way for a few hundred yards, the new silence oppressive, as if some great beast lurked just above his head, waiting for him to stop. Caval’s eyes darted left and right. He was unsure as to where he was going, but he knew that multiple ammunition stores and other supply rooms were built down here. He could hide there, surely, and just wait for the Astartes to leave. That’s what he would do. He would hide and wait.
Caval turned the next corner to the right and skidded to a stop, falling onto his backside, splashing water everywhere. In front of him, impossibly, stood terror made flesh. Perhaps seven feet tall when standing erect, the crimson armored Astartes warrior was slightly hunched so he could move more easily through the human sized tunnels. His bulky shoulder pads bore a winged blood drop sigil that even Caval recognized. A Space Marine of the Blood Angels chapter. Caval’s eyes stared in horrified fascination at the green eye shields of the Marines helmet. It was then that Caval’s eyes traveled downward, past the aquilla emblazoned breastplate, to the boltgun that was now leveled at Caval. Caval started to scoot backwards in the water.
“I…I surrender?” Caval spread his hands wide and attempted a disarming smile. The response came out as a deep, bass rumble from the Marines vox unit.
“Surrender refused.” Caval’s managed to suck in his breath just as the boltgun roared. After that, all was dark.
Brother Terentius looked down briefly at the heretic, its (for, as far as he was concerned, all heretics were merely “it”) chest blasted out, pieces of ribcage and gristle splattered along the tunnel wall. He activated his vox.
”Terentius to Davidus. Brother Sergeant, I have laid the heretic low. Orders?” Terentius slowly trained his boltgun back and forth. Davidus’s reply crackled over the vox.
“Auspex is clear, brother. Return to us now.” Farther up the tunnel, the remainder of Squad Davidus waited. Few of the cultists had survived the initial pounding by the strike cruiser and her Thunderhawks. Davidus had been sent down, along with Squad Jacobus and Arturus, to winnow out the holdouts. Within a few minutes, Terentius had rejoined the squad. The Marines waited as Davidus held a brief conversation on the command vox net. Davidus turned and looked at his battle brethren, craggy face split with a grim smile. “Our brothers report that no heretics survive. Let us make for the surface.”
Onboard the strike cruiser Falchion
“Understood, Brother Sergeant. Transport is en route from the Falchion to retrieve you. Well done.” Chaplain Caedfel, Blood Angels Adeptus Astartes, nodded to the serfs working the vox, and they cut the link. Caedfel turned back to the recessed section of this part of the ship that housed the strategium, a forbidding figure in jet black power armor. A holographic image shone upward, the asteroid, Blood Angels squads, and heretic positions had all been marked in various colors and sigils. Now the icons representing Davidus and the others were moving back to their initial landing zone. The operation had been a complete success: all heretics were slain, including the cult leader (Davidus had personally split him in two with his power axe), no friendly casualties. It was not an operation he and his brethren would typically undertake; the clearing of such vermin nests could have been done, at perhaps greater cost, by the Wexhar planetary defense forces. They had been in the region, however, and had offered their services when messages about the cult had been intercepted. The battle brothers under his command were a blade, and it was up to him to keep it sharp. Caedfel, as a Blood Angels chaplain, recognized this need for focus better than anyone. Heresy stems from idleness, he thought to himself with an almost imperceptible nod. The sound of hard ceramite boots on the room’s deck plating shook him from his reverie, and he turned. It was Veteran Sergeant Gasparus, the leader of the task forces assault marines.
Gasparus nodded to Caedfel curtly, and stood beside him, examining the holographic display. “Rats, and nothing more than rats. Not a real foe. Chaplain, this foe was beneath us. This task was beneath us.” Gasparus sneered, folding power armor clad arms across his chestplate, glaring at the holographic asteroid. Caedfel rounded on him sharply, eyes narrowed. “Do I detect a hint of selfish pride, Brother Gasparus?” Gasparus turned and grimaced, nodding his head low. “My apologies, Brother-Chaplain. It is just that…” Caedfel did not allow him to finish. “There is no excuse, Brother-Sergeant. We are servants of the Emperor, where-ever He wills us. There is no task too great for us…and none too small.” Caedfel let his voice soften ever so slightly. “I know you seek to win glory for the Emperor, and not yourself, brother. Do not allow your zeal for honorable combat to overwhelm your sense of duty.” Caedfel finished by clapping Gasparus on the shoulder guard, and the assault sergeant looked up again, smiling slightly. “Of course Brother-Chaplain. Thank you.” Gasparus nodded again and returned his gaze to the image of the asteroid.
“So what do we do now?” Caedfel turned as well, rubbing his chin thoughtfully with a gauntleted hand. “Protocol would have us return to the system capitol and make our report. I am sure the governor would be well pleased to know the cultists are—“ Caedfel was interrupted by one of the chapter serfs manning the vox. “My lord, astropath reports long distance communiqué coming in.” Caedfel looked over at the stunted form of the serf holding the vox link. “Very well,” rumbled Caedfel. “I will go to the astropath myself for this. Gasparus, if you would accompany me?” Gasparus grunted an affirmative, having no real desire to be near the astropath, but agreeing anyway. The two post-human giants left the room, headed for the lift that would take them to the astropath chamber, and whatever news had reached them.
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
Caedfel stood in his personal quarters, examining and re-examining the data-slate that contained the message they had received. It was only marginally larger than the other cells of his brother-warriors, and that mainly to accommodate some of his specialist gear that he owned as a chaplain-leader of the Blood Angels. A hard metal bench/sleeping slat was currently folded into its wall. Utilitarian metal shelves housed several books and data-slates and scrolls, most were works on leadership by such names as Dante, Tycho, Mephiston, and others, and ecclesiastical works, but other, equally interesting titles appeared. Here, a work by the Inquisitor Gideon Ravenor. There, a scroll of poems by the ancient warrior-monks of Nippon from Old Terra. One might look upon such works with surprise.
To the unenlightened, the Blood Angels were merely crimson armored death…to friend and foe alike. While many celebrated the high holy days commemorating the works of Sanguinius, many more still watched his children with barely concealed dread. Many an inquisitor had thought to make his or her career by gathering enough evidence to purge the Blood Angels. To those who knew, however…the tribesmen of Baal were more than melee crazy lunatics encased in ceramite, fiber bundles and servos. They wrote. Sculpted. Painted. Composed. They were among the most intellectual and artistic of the chapters…a fact that only made the Black Rage that much more difficult to bear. They were the angels of the Imperium…and could so quickly be twisted to fell beasts.
Various stands and racks would house his personal armor when he was not wearing it, and hooks and other devices sprouted out of the walls at precise locations to hold his bolt pistol, Crozius Arcanum, training blades, and other instruments of death. A brazier and censor were safely stowed in a corner. Everything was clean, in order. Everything in its proper place. Caedfel, like all Astartes (with the possible exception of the rather…exuberant sons of Leman Russ), enjoyed proper discipline and order. Indeed, the Blood Angels depended on it more than most, whatever their unorthodox combat forms might suggest. He preferred that he know his place in the ordered scheme of things, believing that even the mighty Space Marines had their proper role in the Emperor’s great plan. It was for this reason that he was somewhat disquieted by the data-slate.
It was a call to arms. A call to battle, at some far flung locale called “Medusa V.” He’d have the Falchion’s savant-serf Ralston gather data-slates of pertinent information for him to review later. The call itself was not what concerned him. It was from the fortress monastery on Baal, and had been triple checked for authenticity, so that did not trouble him either. It was the nature of the gathering. Helter skelter. Pell mell. The author of the message, Captain Micaelis, spoke of the power struggles within the different Imperial factions answering the call. Already Imperial Guard colonels and Lord Generals clashed with their Space Marine counterparts. The Space Marines themselves squabbled with one another over old rivalries and grudges. Throw in the various leaders of the Sororitas, the Ordos, and more…and these verbal skirmishes waged over communiqués and in briefing rooms might turn into something much more dangerous. There was precedent for it. And the myriad enemies besieging Medusa V would not wait for them to come to their senses if they went down such a path.
Even he was going to be taking...instruction…from an Astartes leader not born on Baal Secondus. Worse still, an Ultramarine. There was little love lost between the Blood Angels and the rigid brood of Guilliman. Sicarius. Captain Sicarius. The over-all Astartes Commander in Chief for the approaching campaign. Sicarius had chosen to second Caedfel, among others, to an entity entitled “Medusa Defense Task Force 138,” under the command of a Lieutenant Colonel Forger (who used ‘Forger of Civilization’ as his war-nom on the command net). A Guardsman. Despite himself, Caedfel found himself smiling grimly. Yes, even a chaplain could sometimes be attacked by guilty pride. Caedfel murmured to himself the Catechism of Penitence. A Guardsman, then. Though a Space Marine, Caedfel, like the Blood Angels that he led and watched over, was merely a weapon in the hand of the Emperor. If the Emperor willed that they be under the command of an Imperial Guard officer, so be it. Their duty was to slay the enemies of Mankind and protect the citizens of the Imperium.
Caedfel put the data-slate on one of his shelves, and turned for the vox unit built into the wall near the sliding door that opened into the corridor beyond. It was time to gather his subordinates together, and begin to gather information, to plan.
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
Sounds good, I'll have a proper read tonight, *webpage archived* nice work btw keep it up
“This, my brothers, is Geryon Base. While Spaceport Deimos is Medusa V’s most important planetary hub and will be responsible for much of the outgoing evacuation traffic, Geryon is critical to the successful prosecution of the campaign.” A holographic view of the air base, from an ‘Emperor’s eye view,’ was projected up from the central holo-unit of the strategium. A heavily augmented and modified serf crouched near the holo- unit, mechandendrites snaking from its fingers to manipulate the image upon commands from Caedfel and the Falchion’s assembled line officers. It’s face was hidden by a deep cowl, and the only sound that issued from it was the soft click-click of its mechandendrites and a faint wheezing that—probably—was its breathing. At Caedfel’s word, the image shifted from a general overview of the base to more specific locations within it. The long primary runways, the shorter auxiliary paths. Elevated platforms. Hangers. The central control station. At regular intervals there were promethium derricks, munitions bunkers, barracks, repair stations and fortified flak gun and missile batteries.
Caedfel murmured instructions to the serf, and it nodded slowly, heavily, moving its fingers in complex patterns once more, interacting with the holo-units machine spirit. Click-click. Caedfel nodded, and continued speaking. “The Imperial forces in zone Hydra will rely heavily on Geryon Base for re-supply flights, airborne reconnaissance, combat air patrols, and close air support. Medusan planetary defense force aircraft, along with Imperial Navy wings, will be calling Geryon Base home for the duration of the campaign.” As he spoke, the serf brought up additional images of Imperial fighters--Lightnings, Thunderbolts—along with carriers and super heavy transports. “Additionally,” he continued, “should Spaceport Deimos be rendered useless, Geryon Base will be a crucial evacuation point.” Caedfel paused once more, and turned to examine the faces of his assembled battle-brothers. As soon as its Thunderhawks had been clamped down, the Falchion had translated into the warp. Squads Davidus, Jacobus, and Arturus had been brought down from a combat footing, and their leaders summoned to the strategium for the briefing. With them were the veterans Gasparus and Barnabas, and Captain Brutus, the haughty, arrogant leader of the expeditions elite assault squads. The last member of the group was their aged leader of Scouts, Josias, a faint crown of white fuzz on his scalp, and honor studs in his brow. Josias had more combat experience than any of them, and Caedfel had learned to trust his experience.
The patrician faced chaplain continued speaking, looking once more to the globe of holographic light and gesturing. “Lieutenant Colonel Forger recognizes the importance of this location, and has tasked several elements of Medusa Defense Task Force 138 to its protection. We, as Astartes, will use our own unique skills as a rapid reaction force, to respond to any incursions against the base, and to spearhead Imperial counter-attacks originating from Geryon. Questions, brothers?” Caedfel folded his massive hands behind his back and turned to face his brethren once more, while the serf allowed its shoulders to droop and its hands to rest in its lap quietly, as still as some hunch backed gargoyle on a rooftop. Josias nodded, seated on Caedfel’s right hand side along the semi circular bench surrounding the holo-unit. “What units currently defend the base, and who else has been assigned to its protection?” Caedfel withdrew the data-slate Ralston had prepared for him from his belt and thumbed the activation switch, cycling through the data. “We will be joined by several companies of the 4th Brimlock Dragoons and the 11th Kado, armor from the 85th Cadian, and cavalry from the 150th Cathayan. Brother-Astartes from the Ultramarines, Howling Griffons and Riftwalkers will augment the Imperial Guard forces. However,” Caedfel paused, tapping the data-with a massive finger, “none of these forces are currently in-theater. The base is currently only protected by PDF units, namely the 789th Medusan, under command of one Colonel Trakka. Colonel Trakka’s men are primarily infantry, supported by some light tanks, Sentinel walker-units, and support weapons.”
Josias nodded again as Caedfel finished, but Brutus gave a derisive snort, his finely featured face wrinkling in disgust. Caedfel turned to regard him, eyebrow arched. “You have something to add to the briefing, Captain?” Brutus folded his arms and nodded to the data-slate. “I commend this Forgers faith, Brother-Chaplain, if not his grasp of tactics. Does he really think a lone unit of interior guard will secure this base prior to our arrival? I realize that we are all a good week and a half away at best speed, but really. If the only thing keeping Geryon Base from the hands of xenos and traitors is this man Tractor,” “Trakka,” muttered Caedfel in correction, as Brutus hurried on; “then I must assume my jump troops will receive blooding early…as we will be retaking the base.” Brutus finished with a sneer. Brutus, along with Veteran Sergeant Gasparus and Arturus, saw very little use for ‘the little men’ of PDF and Guard units save as cannon fodder, Caedfel knew. He could see the nods of agreement from these two as Brutus stopped talking. “Trakka will have to hold that base until our arrival, Captain Brutus, because Medusa V has little else to spare. You mentioned faith, good captain. Have faith, then. Does not the Emperor protect?” The gathering of warrior-monastics nodded, murmuring together “The Emperor protects.” Caedfel could see in Brutus’s eyes, however, some doubt as to whether or not Trakka and his troopers were worthy of that holy aegis.
Last edited by ChaplainCaedfel; July 31st, 2007 at 03:50.
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
Like vast, hoary leviathans from some lightless, forgotten ocean, they came. They came in battle-packs of small ships that darted through the void: numerous, predatory, agile. They came as lone wolves, singular ships without escorts: proud, determined, and relentless. They came in a myriad of colors: crimson, ebon, azure, bronze, gold. They came with a multitude of different icons and symbols, all proclaiming to the cold, silent stars that death was with them as they stalked through the eternal night of space: a clenched fist, a skull, twined ravens, a trio of flails, an iron crown, a winged blood-drop. Patrol boats and frigates, strike cruisers and battle barges, carriers and dreadnoughts and more. Imperial Navy ships. Ecclesiarchy flotillas. Astartes task forces. It had taken time, effort, and considerable amounts of treasure, but the massive weight of the Imperium’s war machine was descending upon Medusa V. Gun-ships, fighters and pinnances moved in ‘vee’ formations around the larger capital ships, auspex units sweeping the inky blackness ahead, weapons armed and ready. Re-supply ships, troop transports, and tugs completed the picture, typically moving close to one of their larger, better armed cousins. Intelligence briefs stated that every enemy of the Imperium from the dark kin to the orks to the twisted servants of the Ruinous Powers lay ahead, engaging loyalist forces and each other to secure safe travel to the surface of Medusa V. Thus the Imperial ships had arrived ready fight their way in. Among them was the barbed and crenellated form of the Falchion.
The Falchion’s bridge
Brother-Captain Felix, commander of the Falchion, examined the ships actuality sphere from his place at the command pulpit, noting the relative positions of the rest of the ships in their battle-group. The bright green hologlobe threw Felix’s face into relief, showing the deep etches and lines of an aged and experienced Space Marine. The Lunar-class cruisers Graf Nussbaum and Refulgent, along with their smaller escorts, occupied a position on the Falchion’s starboard side, a goodly distance away, giving the Falchion’s Gladius escorts a respectful berth. The actuality sphere revealed that the port side was well occupied by the ancient, but still dangerous Minotaur, an Avenger-class ship that had been pulled back into duty. A gaggle of Cobra escorts paced it like outriders in a motorcade. A group of ships from the Astartes chapter Scions of Zhao Yun came astern, resplendent in jade and bronze. Ahead of them was the Akhenaton, another Lunar-class. Thousands of gun batteries, torpedo tubes, lance projectors, mine deployers, and more. Felix gave a grim smile, knowing the importance place the Falchion had in such an august gathering. Emperor show mercy on any foolish enough to engage them.
The hiss-clank of an opening hatch attracted his attention, and he turned to look over his shoulder as Chaplain Caedfel, now fully armored, came onto the bridge and strode to the command pulpit, nodding slightly to the signs of obeisance from the serfs and high capacity servitors manning the stations. “Brother-Captain,” Caedfel murmured softly, coming to stand next to Felix. “Brother-Chaplain,” Felix returned in a bass rumble, nodding his grizzled head low. “The Falchion stands ready. All escorts report ready as well.” Caedfel had turned his attention to the actuality sphere as Felix spoke. Around them the robed and hooded forms of the crew worked the brass levers, knobs and pict screens of the sensorium, ship to ship vox, and other bridge stations, heads bent low to their work. “Any old friends?” Caedfel asked with the barest hint of a smile. Felix grunted, nodding. “The Storm Angel battle-barge Marduk rides far astern. Chaplain Arak sends his regards. None of our own battle-brothers, however. Then again, this is a great undertaking, Chaplain. No doubt they approach from other directions. Sensorium registered contacts matching known IDs of Angels Encarmine and Flesh Tearer ships, though they did not answer our hails.” Caedfel folded his gauntleted hands behind his back. He hadn’t expected that they would, but he had asked Felix to note any old allies or battle-brethren in this section of the fleet.
As Caedfel watched the actuality sphere, ruminating, a high pitched sound came from the sensorium station, rather like a bell. The serf manning it looked up, strongly resembling an insect with its augmetic eyes and jaw and throat made of metal and tubing. It’s voice had a hard, metallic edge to it as it spoke. “We are nearing the battlezone, my lord.” Felix turned to the Falchion’s vox controller. “Give me the ship!” Felix turned to Caedfel. “Best get to the Thunderhawks, Chaplain. Things will get very interesting in about ten minutes.” The black-armored chaplain nodded, and shook Felix’s hand. “The Emperor protects, Brother-Captain.” “That He does,” answered Felix, gripping Caedfel’s hand firmly once and releasing it. As Caedfel left, Felix turned back to the vox controller. The serf bowed, and gestured to Felix’s command pulpit. Felix pressed a large black button and began to speak. “Attention all hands. This is Captain Felix. We are about to enter the battlezone above Medusa V. The many foes of Mankind await us. We, the servants of the Golden Throne, bring them death. Prepare to engage.” Felix made a cutting motion with one large hand, and the serf ended the hail. Felix gripped the lectern-console of the command pulpit. “Action stations!” the veteran Space Marine barked.
The space immediately around Medusa V was alive with ships. Any faction trying to land troops and equipment on the planet had to run a gauntlet made up of ships from every other group. Command and control was a shaky thing, if not non-existent in this maelstrom of battle. Allied groups of vessels attempted to punch a hole through the ocean of ships so that transports could dart through and deposit their cargos. Often times a group of landers or carriers made it through an initial opening just to be destroyed in the cross fire between combatants. The group of ships the Falchion was traveling with was going to attempt such an insertion. The Graf Nussbaum, Refulgent, Minotaur and Akhenaton, along with their escorts and fighters, would form a spearhead to penetrate the battlezone. The Falchion and the Scions of Zhao Yun ship Yue Fei would come in behind, exploit the breach, and launch Thunderhawk gunships through the gap. The Astartes capital ships would then disengage with their Imperial Navy counterparts. The plan was fairly simple in its design, but hideously complex in its execution. As the Imperial ships closed in, lance projectors warmed up, gun batteries swiveled into position, and torpedo tubes ponderously slid open. On the bridge of the Falchion, Captain Felix watched the streams of data showing enemy vessels too numerous to count closing in, some firing at each other, others approaching on intercept vectors. Felix’s notched face twisted into a grim smile. “Cry havoc,” he whispered. In a louder voice, he called out to the bridge at large. “All batteries, fire at will!”
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
The oncoming enemy vessels came at the Imperial ships in a rush, lurching towards them more like drunken vagrants stumbling along the street than ships of the line. They were crude, roughly put together, with spines and weapons and launch bays bristling all over, often in seemingly random locations. None looked exactly like the ship next to it, each with a different gaudy color scheme. They were unified, however, in the primitive glyphs spattered all along the hull: the overlarge grinning skull that identified them as Orks. In each vessel, gun crews of diminutive and cruel slave creatures, green, spindly, with over long ears and noses ran to load weapons, some inadvertently being stuffed into chambers along with the ammunition. This never seemed to slacken the enthusiasm with which the crews worked. Elsewhere ork warriors jammed themselves into breaching craft and shuttles, heavy set, broad shouldered and the same green color as their slaves, with hateful, pig-like eyes. They were garbed in furs, skins, leather jacks, and occasionally nothing at all. Black-powder pistols, cobbled together automatic weapons, flamers, and an assortment of bladed instruments that would put dark kin torturers to shame were clutched in meaty fists. On each and every ork ship, from the smallest ram-ship, to the largest ‘kroozer,’ every voice was raised in a blood curdling chant: “’Ere we go! ‘Ere we go! ‘Ere we go!”
The knot of Imperial ships turned their wedge shaped prows towards the approaching ork vessels and opened up with every thing they had. Scorching solid lines of destructive energy pulsed outward from their lance projectors. Massive torpedoes, more like space-borne promethium locomotives in their size than their long since obsolete, marine based counterparts, juddered towards their targets. Gun batteries flashed angrily, as small as the four hundred millimeter close range guns on the Minotaur, to the heavy guns of the Akhenaton that launched ordnance the size of habs, all propelling their deadly payloads towards the oncoming aliens. In general, the orks did not even try to evade. The ramshackle vessels were holed, crumpled and blasted apart and still they came on. As they closed, their own weapon ports began to blink, and soon the Imperial vessels were taking hits as well.
The Akhenaton, traveling at the front of the group, took the worst of it. Its void shields began to flicker and fail from the constant bombardment, and soon great pieces of armor plating from its prow were being wrenched away. Several ork boarding vessels rammed it, their pointed frontal sections covered in plasma drills and clamps, allowing them to burrow deeper into the stricken Imperial warship, the Akhenaton’s escorts unable to fend them off. The other ships pressed on, knowing to stop to render assistance was suicide at this point. The alien ships began to split into different directions, some ork vessels lunging for the helpless Akhenaton, others turning to pursue. Curt vox communications went from ship to ship as the chaotic battle continued all around them, vessels of other species darting around them, occasionally firing shots of opportunity as they pursued other quarries. The lifeless hulks of destroyed cruisers littered the space, forming hazards for those still living. As some of the ork vessels kept up their harrying attacks on the Imperials, the Minotaur and her escorts began to come about, while the Graf Nussbaum, Refulgent and the Astartes strike cruisers Falchion and Yue Fei continued to drive towards the planet. The Minotaur, its broadsides now pointing towards the pursuing greenskins, unleashed volley after volley from its turrets and gun emplacements, destroying a half dozen lesser ships before the rest gathered in close, pounding the old Avenger class ship mercilessly before launching breaching ships for the kill.
Brother-Captain Felix stared grimly at the actuality sphere, his already creased face twisting further. The captain of the Minotaur had known what would happen when his ship cut speed and turned to give the orks a taste of broadside. He had sacrificed himself willingly so that they might reach their objective. A worthy end. And, if it was up to him, it would not be in vain. The Falchion had taken relatively light damage, though a lucky hit from a wildly careening ork warhead had taken the dorsal bombardment cannon off-line. Serf damage control teams and mono-task repair servitors were working to restore it, with tech adepts on hand to soothe its vexed war spirit. The Yue Fei was in worse shape, with many of its weapon batteries destroyed, though its launch bays were still operational. Other xenos ships were starting to come about and set intercept courses for them, some were more of the greenskins, others ships he did not recognize. He tapped a control at his lectern. “Brother-Chaplain,” he began, never taking his eyes off the actuality sphere, “we may not be able to get you as close to Medusa V as we had originally planned. The sheer width and breadth of this fight is about to swallow us up. I recommend launching in the next five minutes. I do not believe we have any longer.”
In the launch bays located along the prow of the Falchion, Thunderhawk gunships waited on launch rails built onto rotating hull sections. Already these had turned to aim the gunships towards the bay doors, the menials who had been fitting and arming the assault transports having fled the area as they neared their launch window. “Force Caedfel,” as the Marines under his command were logged as in the official records, were seated inside the Thunderhawks, awaiting the order to push off. There were eight; four to carry Space Marines, another four to carry supplies and equipment. Caedfel was on the ship known as “Dagger One” on the command net, standing in the crew cabin with the Astartes pilot and high function servitor co-pilot, his helmet under his arm. “I understand, brother,” he responded to the open air, as the pilot had the vox on. “Give us the distance you can in those five minutes, and then open the blast doors. We will take it from there.” Felix voxed an acknowledgement and cut the link. Caedfel clapped the pilot on his armors shoulder guard with his free hand. “Ready for some creative flying, Brother Claudius?” The Space Marine nodded, hands already on the control stick. “As always, my lord!” The sureness in his voice seemed amplified by the gritty sound of his helmet vox. “Good,” responded Caedfel, fastening on his own helmet, and walking out of the cabin, the door sliding shut behind him. The pilot took a deep breath, having already repeated the pre flight checks the servitor had gone through, and waited for the order.
“Get those flames under control, Emperor damn you! We need that cannon back on-line!” Felix bellowed into the vox link connecting him to the repair crews on the Bombardment Deck. He growled and cut the channel, as the Falchion and Yue Fei plowed closer to the murky orb that was Medusa V. Point defense batteries were warding off attacks by Eldar fighter-craft: small, nimble ships that proved hard to target and bring down. The sensorium had picked up a pair of renegade cruisers, former Imperial ships turned servants of the Ruinous Powers, headed for them. And now several Imperial Guard troop transports, separated from their own protectors, had come alongside the Space Marine ships and their remaining escorts like orphaned children, scurrying close for cover—if mass conveyance ships could be said to scurry. “Get your own damn escorts,” muttered Felix in annoyance. He motioned to the serf manning the ship to ship vox. “Get me the Graf Nussbaum. We’ll see if Captain Morales can shift position to give those mud munchers some co--…” He never finished his sentence. For in the actuality sphere, yet another group of enemy ships appeared—quite literally appeared. Felix dimly registered the panicked squawking of the serfs operating the sensorium as he watched the sinister, crescent moon shaped vessels come into view, only a few thousand kilometers away. “Steel daemons,” he whispered, knowing the basic shape from intelligence briefs. Then he jerked his head, looking at the serfs and servitors watching him. “Don’t look at me, you miserable lumps! Fire all weapons! Target the nearest xenos vessels! You! Get the Graf Nussbaum and the Refulgent. Tell them to use every last weapon they have.” Felix watched as the actuality sphere showed the Imperial vessels opening up on the newcomers, the strange warships not responding as yet, seemingly bemused by the encounter. He keyed his link to the Thunderhawk bay. “Brother-Chaplain, I’m ordering the blast doors opened. Launch! Launch now!”
“Acknowledged Brother-Captain. The Emperor Protects.” Caedfel turned his helmet vox to the channel used by the Thunderhawk flight as his ships pilot reported the blast doors had slid open, the void awaiting them. “Caedfel to Dagger Flight. Launch! Repeat, all ships launch!” Heat barriers had risen out of the floor on extender arms behind the gunships engines, and now were awash with flame as the Thunderhawks blasted along their launch rails into space. Brother Claudius voxed a quick message to the Falchion as they erupted from the launch bay riding a current of white fire, clutching the control stick as he did. “Dagger One, away!” As he swung the gunship onto an approach vector to Medusa V, he could hear the others calling in. “Dagger Two, away!” “Dagger Three, away!” The servitor next to him buzzed warningly as they immediately found themselves in the middle of the battle. The cockpit was lit with hard, blue-white radiance as the xenos vessels finally started to return fire: long, whiplike tendrils of lightning lashed at the Imperial ships, scourging armor off like flesh with ease. Claudius examined another console quickly, seeing that all eight Thunderhawks had launched and were following him as he bobbed and weaved through the debris of fallen combatants. Nearby, the jade and bronze Thunderhawks of the Scions of Zhao Yun had launched as well, and were coming into formation. The Yue Fei was listing badly, angry blossoms of red appearing here and there along the hull. Claudius jerked the control stick hard to the side, rotating the ship to port a full quarter, maneuvering thrusters flaring as he avoided a large section of armor plating that had been cut free from one ship or another. The servitor warbled again, and Claudius pushed the stick towards the console. Bright lines of tracers were chasing them from an unknown source, and he jinked back and forth to avoid them. As he righted the ship, he briefly considered muting the servitor. In a battle this crowded and unpredictable, it’d be nattering on every five seconds. The cockpit was lit again by another bright flash, and Claudius risked a look ‘up,’ seeing that the Graf Nussbaum was coming apart, the strange, crescent-like ships simply ripping the kilometers long cruiser to pieces with their lightning weapons. One of the xenos vessels suddenly unleashed a stream of lightning in their direction. The angry voice of an Astartes came over Dagger Flights link. “We’ve lost Dagger Seven! Damnable xenos scum!” It seemed that their movements had not gone unnoticed by the steel daemons after all.
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
((Bit busy lately so haven't added the next installment. Soon, though. Feel free to send PMs with comments; I'd love to see what people think of it so far))
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
((Ok, yeah, it's been a while! I haven't written, let alone played Warhammer 40,000, since the end of Medusa V. But I'm starting to get that itch again, and so, the Leman Russ kit gets out of the closet, the paint bottles get dusted off, and I work on the fiction Here's the next installment.))
Claudius knew that the strange weapons of the steel daemons would tear them apart—literally—if they did not find some way to get out of their weapons range. He maneuvered the Thunderhawk in random, evasive movements, jinking here, juddering this direction, all the while looking at his auspex, his genetically engineered brain now just as valuable as his greater muscle mass or his twin hearts. He needed to find something, anything, to put between Dagger Flight and the steel daemons. There! Ahead, looming in the dark like some slumbering beast, was a large hulk of a ship, probably destroyed the during the previous days’ engagement. Claudius swung the Thunderhawk towards it, voxing a transmission to his battle brothers. “Dagger One to Dagger Flight, make for that hulk ahead! I am painting it for recognition.” The servitor next to him engaged the Thunderhawks targeting systems, ‘painting’ the battle scarred outer hull of the wreckage for the other Thunderhawks to recognize in the blackness of the void. The small crimson ships darted towards it, as the larger shapes of the xenos vessels swung about surprisingly fast to track them, ignoring the crippled Imperial ships around them for the moment.
Claudius spiraled around the end of the hulk closest to them, working to use the derelict ship as a bulwark against the xenos weaponry. The Thunderhawks, tiny by comparison, zoomed alongside the far side of the ship, skimming along the cracked and blackened shell like tiny insects speeding down the back of a grox. Here and there massive support beams and hull plating jutted upwards like spines, and Claudius weaved around and through and under them, the warning klaxons silent for the moment with no enemies tracking them. He glanced at his auspex again, and started. One of the xenos vessels had already gotten to a more advantageous position, nimble despite its size, and would be ready to prepare a firing solution the minute the Thunderhawks cleared the hulk. At that moment alarms started to go off once more, and the high level servitor starting squawking as well. Claudius re-examined the auspex. A pair of greenskin gunboats were coming towards them out of the darkness, crude weapons already starting to track them. “Dagger One to Dagger Flight, orkoid ships ahead!” The servitor buzzed a question to Claudius. How to proceed? Claudius looked at the auspex, noting the steel daemon’s approach, then the orkoids. Inside his helm, Claudius smiled grimly. Well, it worked with the hulk, why not with the orkoids?
“Head for the gunboats!” Claudius ordered, moving a gauntleted hand to engage the thrusters. Sounds of surprise greeted him on the voxnet. “Have you taken leave of your senses, Brother Claudius?” “Are you mad!?” Then the deep, resonant voice of Chaplain Caedfel broke through the chatter. “Brother, this is highly…irregular. Explain.” Claudius nodded his head, despite the fact none of the other pilots, or the chaplain, could see the gesture. “The orkoid ships are built for ramming larger vessels and depositing boarding parties! They are not constructed for dealing with ships as small as we are. Besides,” he said as he twisted the ship to the ‘right’ and ‘left,’ “I would rather take my chances with orkoid gunnery than with steel daemon sorcery.” A few grating chuckles answered this, and Claudius smiled as he heard Caedfel’s acknowledgement as well. “For the Emperor, brother-pilot.” The other Thunderhawks assumed a tight wedge formation, the ships now heading straight for the orkoid gunboats, as the steel daemon vessels cleared the hulk, arc lightning forming along the leading edges of the crescent like structures.
“Yar! Dem beakie ships don’ fight fair, now! All dis duckin’ and dippin’!” The ork gunner snarled, heaving on the control lever in front of him, then stopping on a bright red iron tile on the floor next to him. Somewhere on the front of the gunboat (he did not know, or care, where), a large caliber kannon fired, sending a hab sized projectile comically far from the Thunderhawks. “Idjit! Zoggin’ grot brain! Lemme try that!” A second greenskin shoulder blocked the first from the lever, and started jerking it in another direction, then stomping on the red painted plate. Once again, the shot was harmlessly wide, sending the round into deep space. “Uh, scuse me,” muttered a small slave creature with a spanner near by, watching a crude viewscreen. “Hah! Yer norra better, are ya?! Outta the way, I’ll stomp dem beakies!” The first ork swatted the second with a piece of pipe he had simply broken off from the exposed works above him, leaving a jet of steam behind where the section was loosed. The slave creature cringed, fingering his spanner. “Uh, scuse me…” Another stomp, another missed shot. “Yer gonna let ‘em git away! Garsnarks weirdboyz can shoot better than yar!” The second ork grabbed the pipe, brained the first ork, and the two started to wrestle on the ground of the ‘gunnery chamber’ for the frontal batteries. “Oi!” shouted the slave creature, rapping its spanner on the deck. The two orks stopped, eyeing the grot with unconcealed hatred. “Well, uh, dems much bigger ships. Much better fight, eh? Right? Right?” The little thing scooted away from the larger orks, pointing to the view screen. The two orks looked up, seeing the strange, crescen shaped ships coming into their fire arc. Simultaneous tusked grins spilt their ugly faces. “Ah! I saw ‘em first! Outta the way, I’m gonna stomp…wharever the zoggin’ ‘ell they are!” The first ork jumped up, turning the kannon towards the xenos warships, as other gunners aboard both ork gunboats started to get the same idea, and the rate of fire directed at the Thunderhawks slackened off as a new, more appealing foe presented itself.
Last edited by ChaplainCaedfel; March 21st, 2008 at 23:31.
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"
this is awesome! keep that writing coming!
"What is Mercy? Does it taste Nice?" Hive Tyrant on Reth V
"Kill-kill! Death to the Enemies of the Horned Rat!" Warlord Bweekq at the Battle of Hrad
At the last possible moment, the Thunderhawks broke formation, going past the greenskin gunboats at full burn, sliding and corkscrewing by. Some went ‘below’ and others to the sides, with Dagger One going past ‘above’ the starboard side gunboat, fully inverted. As Claudius looked down…or what counted for down, as it was 'up' through his cockpit…he almost thought he could see little, angry green faces pressed against portholes as the Thunderhawk passed. Then there was another blinding white-blue flash as the steel daemon ships started to rake the gunboats with their lightning weapons, and the ramshackle craft started to come apart after several hits, along with it’s ugly sister ship. The Astartes pilot cursed as the servitor beside him warbled, using the Thunderhawks wingtip mounted guns to deflect or blast incoming bits of debris. The gambit had not bought them very much time. Cladius’s helmet moved sharply to the side as the servitor announced that the Thunderhawk’s machine spirit had detected multiple weapons tracking them. This was it then. “Brother-Chaplain, the steel daemons are almost finished with the orkoids, and I am out of options. I will maneuver as best I can, but…” He trailed off, unwilling to state that he had failed. The chaplain’s reassuring voice answered back on the intraship vox. “No one who dies in the Emperor’s service dies in vain, Brother Claudius,” the chaplain said calmly. “You have done your duty.” Claudius twisted the Thunderhawk back to starboard, and righted it, seeing the other red shapes of Dagger Flight as the xenos ships began to fire once more. Claudius roared his defiance as he prepared for the end.
Claudius blinked. Had it ended that fast? He had expected…then the servitor began a long string of noises as it worked the controls of the Thunderhawk whilst Claudius sat dumbstruck. He was alive. But how? The vox crackled to life. “Praise the Emperor! Battle-kin are taking the fight to the steel daemons!” Claudius frantically retook control of the ship, examining the multiple sensors, a part of his brain setting aside time for penance for his lapse—but who was attacking the steel daemons? Claudius’ eyebrows arched inside his helmet as he found his answer, Dagger Flight closing formation, now in relatively clear space, heading for Medusa V.
Brother-Captain Felix’s face twisted into a feral grin as he heard the words he had been desperately waiting for. “Bombardment cannon back on line!” He nodded quickly, and pointed towards the blips on the actuality sphere. “Target the daemons! Add our firepower to that of our battle-kin! Sensorium, who are the friendly contacts?” As he waited for the reply, he watched as the forward view screen showed a large flotilla of Space Marine warhips, including a battle barge, blasting the xenos warships with every weapon at their disposal, the self regenerating armor of the steel daemon ships starting to crumple as if mighty fists were pounding on it. The serf working the sensors looked back up at Felix. “I identify the battle barge as the Marduk, my lord. It is the Storm Angels task force.” Felix’s eyebrows arched, causing the skin around his honor studs to wrinkle. Chaplain Arak and his brethren had closed the distance quickly, more quickly than he had thought possible. Or had the engagement really lasted that long? He shook his head, smiling grimly. The Emperor provides for His servants, he thought, as the Falchion now added its own weaponry to the fray. One of the xenos ships broke into several pieces, the remaining two seeming to shimmer in the darkness and then fade into nothingness, choosing to escape via whatever sorcery their kind commanded.
“Get me the Marduk,” rumbled the captain of the Falchion. The serf working the ship to ship vox nodded curtly and set to work. Soon the loud, boisterous voice of Chaplain Arak filled the bridge. “Brother-Captain Felix! I did not see you there. I trust we did not steal away your kills?” Felix chuckled darkly, the sound reminiscent of stones rolling down a hill. “You have saved the lives of my men, and kept my ship in one piece. You have also, incidentally, saved the life of Chaplain Caedfael and his warriors.” Felix felt a twinge of amusement, knowing the friendly rivalry between the two. Arak’s voice came back, and Felix could picture the bronze skinned giant, with the shoulder length, curly black hair common to all Storm Angels. “Saved? Nonsense, Brother! We were merely trying to get to this planet, Medusa V. Perhaps you have heard of it? Barely knew you were even here til now. I believe the Necron vessels were even then withdrawing from you.” From anyone else, it would have been an insult, but from the Storm Angels, it was gentle jest, something rare indeed between the proud Astartes. Felix took it as it was meant. “Good hunting to your men as they hit dirt-side, Brother-Chaplain.” “And to you, Brother-Captain! Death to the enemies of Man!” Felix waved to the serf, and the link was cut. “Very well. Damage reports, and order our Gladius squadron to report in…”
"Wife! You are abusing that Leman Russ model!"