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Dark Apostle
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“Excellent work Brother Gaelan,” Desmond said as Chief Librarian Gaelan finished projecting the recording of him impersonating Grigori Febron.

“Sir, we’ve picked up communications from the Lightbringers,” voxed Captain Darsian from the impromptu command center that had been created at the destroyed Imperial temple. “They have taken the bait and are headed our way.”

Darsian, a veteran from the Tuldra campaign, had been promoted to the commanding officer of the Third Company. He was the youngest of his fellow captains, but his courage and tenacity had earned him the privilege of becoming Third Company’s commanding officer, and Desmond’s second-in-command on the ground for the duration of the Palmyra campaign. Currently he was commanding six companies of Dusk Phantoms, lying in wait for the enemy to assault, while Desmond moved the remaining two companies behind the enemy to wreak havoc throughout their lines.

When they reached the planned location, Desmond signaled for his warriors to disguise themselves amongst the rubble of the smoking Imperial city. Within the hour the Lightbringers rolled into view on their armored transports, flanked by Land Raiders, Predators, and Vindicators.

"There they are men, look at them in this bright light,” Desmond said over the vox as the Lightbringers disembarked. “Armors blue, the march of their steps - they are the traitors to our cause! Summon forth the memories of Tuldra my warriors. Remember how they struck down your brothers in merciless battle. Their blood stains our banner, and we have yet to avenge them. Today is that day my Brothers, we fight for their memory. We fight for Brotherhood. Give them not the pleasure of our deaths; instead show them they march into hell itself. Dusk Phantoms, for Chaos!"

The Lightbringers began their assault pummeling Captain Darsian’s position with deadly shells for a full ten minutes, but to little effect. Darsian had seen to it that his forces were well dug in, and the Dusk Phantoms took cover in their trenches and barricades. When it was clear that the Lightbringers would have to dig out their enemy bit by bit, Commander Luchetto ordered his marines to begin marching on the enemy.

Captain Darsian’s marines fought back, opening fire with heavy bolters and autocannons on the advancing Lightbringers. A handful of the marines died, but the Imperial tanks launched canisters that enveloped the battlefield in smoke. The marines moved forward as one, taking what little cover was offered by the battlefield, firing from the hip as they advanced.

Bullets zoomed by overhead, but Commander Luchetto ignored them and gave a roar as he charged towards the Dusk Phantoms trench. He grabbed a grenade from his belt, pulled the pin, and tossed it into the trench, clearing the way for Sergeant Imerian to leap up onto the lip of the trench and empty a full clip of bolter rounds into the enemy. When the smoke cleared however, the Lightbringers realized that the Dusk Phantoms had already withdrawn to the next line unscathed.

Two of the veterans from Luchetto’s command squad were felled instantly when they cleared the other side of the trench, their armor bursting into flames as blasts of plasma consumed them. Luchetto gave a curse and jumped into the cover of the trench as a hail of autocannon fire passed overhead. All around him his men were fighting shadows, and he knew that unless they reached the enemy lines soon their morale would shatter.

“For the Emperor!” Luchetto cried as he drew his power sword and charged headlong towards the next line of trenches. A bolter round clipped his armor and spun him around, but he used the momentum to launch himself amongst the enemy forces. A Dusk Phantom brought his bolter to bear but Luchetto sliced through the barrel of the weapon and used the downward momentum to launch another strike that sliced the marine from shoulder to groin.

“You see, Luchetto shouted over the noise of the battlefield, “These so-called Phantoms bleed just as any other foe!”

The Lightbringers charged forward in support of their commander with a chorus of battle cries. Overwhelmed by the mass of Lightbringers, the Dusk Phantoms began to fall back, bit by bit as a dozen of their brothers fell under the force of the loyalist assault. For several minutes the Imperials appeared to be winning, until Desmond’s voice sounded over the Dusk Phantoms channel.

“It is time to end this farce,” he said as he leapt from his cover behind a Land Raider and attached a meltabomb to its armor. “Detonate.”

All along the Lightbringers lines vehicles and men were consumed in flames as two hundred of the Dusk Phantoms opened fire. Desmond gave a cold smile as the Lightbringers froze under the combined might of the eight companies under his command.

***
 
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