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When the Forge World of Cthonis falls under the shadow of an Ork invasion, the noble Crimson Fists are the only Imperial forces nearby who can respond in time to save the planet. Lead by the newly promoted Captain Stefanos Van Alessian, the undermanned 5th Company must stem the tide of an entire Ork invasion...or die trying.
The first part of the Rise to Glory trilogy, these stories will depict the Crimson Fists 5th Company against the most impossible odds as they battle the enemies of Man!
**ALERT: Xenos invasion detected.**
**TARGET: Forge World Cthonis.**
**Planetary Defenses Status?**
**SURFACE TO ORBIT DEFENSE GRID: Insufficient to repel invaders.**
**IMPERIAL GUARD GARRISON: Insufficient and presumed totally lost.**
**ADEPTUS ASTARTES GRYPHONICUS REINFORCEMENTS: Insufficient and taking heavy losses.**
**DEFENSIVE SITUATION: Without aid the planet will surely fall.**
**SEARCHING...: Warlord-class Titan.**
**STRATEGIC VALUE: Absolute.**
**Recomended course of action?**
**Negative. Asset value too high.**
II: ISSUE FULL RETREAT?**
**Negative. Asset must be held at all costs.**
**III: ADDITIONAL REINFORCEMENTS?**
**Affirmitive. Transmit distress signal.**
**TRANSMITTING...: Complete. Awaiting response.**
**RESPONSE INCOMING: Adeptus Astartes Chapter.**
**RECEIVING RESPONSE...: Complete.**
Sending the Crimson Fists.
PART I: The Arrival
The Strike Cruiser Temperatam Laminas arrived through the miasma of the Warp, bearing on it the clenched red fist of the Crimson Fists Chapter. On board, the battered 5th Company was enacting it's final rites and prayers, while also preparing for the coming Planetfall. Each Battle-Brother on the ship knew they were the only hope for this planet, and their success depended on it's survival, and that the valuable assets below did not succumb into xenos hands.
On the bridge, Captain Van Alessian sat on his command throne, looking into a holographic form of Cthonis. The large bright blue dot indicating the planet was being blockaded by a cluster of red dots indicating Ork vessels. As far as he could count there were as many of thirty four ships in orbit. Though it sounded perhaps absurd considering the size of the enemy fleet, this was in fact fairly small for an Ork force. Usually their space forces could number in the hundreds, or if by some miracle multiple of their fleets massed together, thousands of ships. Van Alessian turned his gaze off the hologram being projected from the strategium board towards his Sergeants who were discussing the plan for the coming assault. Their were eight of the men present, seven were from his 5th Company, while the eighth was a Scout Sergeant assigned to him from the 10th.
"Brother-Captain, we are here as you requested." Said the sergeant in the middle of the group, Tores Lycor, a hard-faced no-nonsense warrior who was the oldest Astartes in the entire room, even next to Van Alessian himself. He was a veteran of numerous battles, and a man who the Captain never hesitated to ask advice from. For this reason, he had been elected his second-in command.
"That you are Sergeants." Van Alessian said and raised from his seat and walked closer to the board. "Brothers, time is scarce, as you well know but we cannot afford to rush into the fray unprepared, so we will take all the time needed to devise an efficient plan of attack." He stated.
He noticed a few of the sergeants twist their lips an inch or raise an eyebrow. He knew what they were thinking. Fellow Space Marines were dying below and the Orks were on the verge of obtaining one of the most valuable Imperial assets. But they were Astartes and would not rush into combat like the savage greenskins. "Three days ago," Van Alessian began. "we received a distress call from the Forge World Cthonis. They had come under attack by Orks, from what looks like a splinter faction of the Bad Moons Clan, and their defenses were somehow unable to repel the invading greenskins. As always, they simply overran the defenders through sheer force of numbers, the grid was savagely bombed and destroyed, and that has left the Forge World defenseless."
"Have we received any word from Imperial forces below?" Sergeant Dyraz Comoter, the leader of the famed Azarath Squad asked.
Van Alessian shook his head. "Our fellow Chapter the Howling Griffons sent reinforcements to aid the Forge World a week before we arrived. That would have perhaps under normal circumstances been enough, but the strength of this horde is far stronger then any imagined. They have suffered heavy losses, and are holding out here, at the Unshaken Bridge."
He tapped a skull shaped stud on the board, and the spinning image of a long stone and concrete bridge appeared, with the symbol of the Howling Griffons in the middle and the half moon insignia of the Ork clan Bad Moons on all of their sides. "They cannot hold for long," Sergeant Celicius De Machatus said bluntly. Van Alessian had had dealings with this warrior before. He was realist, and didn't mind admitting even the most dire of situations out there without even the smallest bit of encouragement. For some things, perhaps this good, the Company needed a man who could see clearly where victory and defeat lye. "that bridge is open, and although i have no doubt they have fortified it well, they are by now severely undermanned and low on ammo even more certainly. The Orks could also just call in Jets or bombers to finish them off."
"Orks are fighters in nature, Sergeant De Machatus. They wouldn't leave the slaying of an entire Adeptus Astartes Company to their flyboys." Said Sergeant Mirias Pel'Sar with a stern look on his face.
"Sergeant Pel'Sar is right." Van Alessian said. "I'm sure they would also not wish to waste all the weapons they could nimble and scavenge from the corpses of our fellow Space Marines. Although i fear too many have suffered such a fate already." No one had an answer to that. They all knew much of the Howling Griffons below had been wiped out already.
"What about the Imperial Guard?" Comoter asked.
"Destroyed." Van Alessian said. "Most were wiped out in the first few days. The Orks likely have much of their hardware in their hands by now. We don't know what they have scavenged, but expect all forms of greenskins below. That goes for infantry, aircraft and armored units."
"Can't we contact the Griffons from here?" Sergeant Joseph Myron asked.
"We are now using Cthonis's moon to hide us from the Ork fleet. It is the only thing keeping us out of their site. If we risk contact with the ground forces below, we risk losing our position. And the Temperatam Laminas will not last long against all those ships."
"Shouldn't other Imperial troops have picked up the distress call?" Sergeant Midaz asked. The veteran Assault Sergeant stuck out the most on the bridge right after the Captain, filled with purity seals and ancient tomes and oaths.
"The nearest fighting unit is two months away, and the Howling Griffons have had no way of knowing how the battle is going here for them. The distress call was lucky to reach anyone, there was heavy interference as it was and it could have only reached so many before it shut off." Van Alessian responded.
"So, we stand alone against the Ork. Again." De Machatus said with a small grunt.
"Astartes from another Chapter are fighting alongside with us, surely that counts for something?" Sergeant Edmund Cortezia said.
"I am not blind, Cortezia!" De Machatos retorted. "With such skilled warriors as the Howling Griffons at our side, we stand a much higher chance in surviving this fight. But the Company is undermanned. We number less than seventy Battle Brothers!"
"That will have to do, Sergeant." Van Alessian said, staring coldly into the eyes of the open-minded Crimson Fist. His blunt attitude was already getting on his nerves as it was.
De Machatos stood down. And another Sergeant, Dermaco Petrova, took the moment to speak. Like Cortezia, Petrova was a Devastator Sergeant, and had already loaded his missile pack onto his armor, and was the only Space Marine in the bridge who was actually combat ready.
"My only question is when do we begin the assault my Lord?" He asked.
"Soon enough. I have devised what seems like the best course of action for us." Van Alessian said and tapped a few studs and a wide image of the main engagement zone in the planet appeared. "Sergeants Comoter, Pel'Sar and Petrova. You will accompany me and my Command Squad to reinforce the Howling Griffons at the Unshaken Bridge. We will drop here, directly before their lines, and use the Drop Pods and surrounding rubble as cover while we hold them off long enough for our Thunderhawks to swoop in and finish the job for us." The map showed three blue dots on the bridge indicating the drop points of the Crimson Fists.
"Sergeant Lycor, you will take Sergeants De Machatus, Midaz, and Cortezia with you to this position," Van Alessian continued and highlighted an area on the map: An overrun Imperial Guard trench and bunker line leading up to a single larger command complex. Must have been their main HQ before they were all butchered. "this was the Imperial Guard field headquarters, and it controlled all of the Forge World's automated defenses. The Orks are using the bunker to control the main Planetary Defense Canon, which prevents us from coming in with the Temperatam Laminas, topped with the Ork fleet over our heads. If we take the gun however, we can use it to tear through the greenskin ships. Chaplain Targomai has operational command."
Lycor and the other three sergeants merely nodded in approval. They knew what risks were involved in this attack and were willing to take them.
"And at last, Sergeant Myron." Van Alessian said and turned his gaze to the venerated Scout Sergeant. "There is a set of camps to the east of the Unshaken Bridge. These camps hold the banners and insignia's of the Ork tribes within the Clan here, that are undertaking the assault. If there banners and other tokens are destroyed, the Orks will blame each other, and then turn on each other. Their entire right flank could collapse from this, and your stealth skills are the best way to ensure that we do this with minimal to no losses."
Myron saluted with a slam to his chestplate. "Me and my Initiates will not fail my Lord! Those Orks will be killing each other before you know it."
"I will hold you to that sergeant." Van Alessian responded and turned to face all of his Battle Brothers at once. Their eyes cemented onto him as he spoke.
"This is one of the most crucial engagements the 5th Company has had. If we fail, the Orks will seize that Titan, and we have nothing beside this Strike Cruiser that can match the firepower of that monstrosity. The Titan is our principal objective. As soon our other objectives are complete and a beachhead is established, we will push on the Manufactorum holding the Titan."
He looked up to his fellow Crimson Fists once more. "To war?"
As one they all responded: "To war."
PART II: Planetfall
Within the Temperatam Laminas, the members of the 5th Company gathered into their Drop Pods. Astartes in fully polished and readied Mk.VII Aquila Power Armor marched into their own craft, lead by their Sergeants, their dark blue and crimson red armor reflecting off the floor and roof lights around them. These were no ordinary soldiers. These were the Space Marines, the Adeptus Astartes. The Crimson Fists.
Leading his Command Squad into his own Pod, Captain Van Alessian checked the magazine in his Storm Bolter and ensured that his grenades and Power Sword were firmly on his belt. Around him, the four other members of the Command Squad checked their own weapons and muttered a few last prayers before boarding the Pod themselves.
As the Company Champion, Brother Macelan was among the most formidable in the squad. His long Power blade firmly stuck in it's fine scabbard. Brother Aralis, the bearer of the Banner of the 5th Company, stood tall and proud, holding onto the great banner like a prized relic. Apothecary Crastus, the medic of the Company, finished checking his kit of Narthecium and then pulled his silver Bolter from his hip. And Techmarine Zenithan finished the calibrations on his Servo Skull, and allowed the small probe to hover over him as he released it from his gauntlet, as it spotted enemies from afar or above and relayed the information to the Techmarine. Across the bay, Chaplain Endymiar Targomai ushered his Battle Brothers to get into the Drop Pods, throwing along some friendly insults to keep their pace up. In his skull faced helm and massive Terminator Armor, the Chaplain was essentially a walking tank.
All was set. The die had been cast. There was no turning back.
As the Crimson Fists braced themselves for the coming fight, a toneless Servitor gave the go for launch, and the Drop Pods of the 5th Company screamed downwards with jets of blazing fire in their trails.
A missile from a crude Ork launcher swirled towards the disciplined lines of the Howling Griffons, detonating against one of the massive support pillars of the Unshaken Bridge and cratering the tough stone. Howling Griffons below scattered as great boulders and chunks of the bridge fell upon them. The rubble fell with a loud wham, and the Griffons made it just in time out of the way.
Brother-Captain Demerov Alexian cursed out loud and waved for his Astartes to get back into cover. The remaining thirty six Battle Brothers from his 4th Company however needed not to be told twice. Under the hail of hundreds of bullets and missiles, there was hardly nay need to tell anyone that you had to either duck or die. Alexian then noticed that he himself was standing in the middle of the bridge, and forced himself into cover in between two blocks of shattered concrete.
"Varatos! Report!" Alexian yelled into the Vox and raised his Bolt Pistol. He pulled down the trigger and sent a controlled three rounds burst into the mass of Orks closing in, making each shot a kill as three of ape-like xenos collapsed with fleshy craters in their chests.
"Ork missile impacted against the support pillar. No casualties." Sergeant Varatos, his second-in command responded with his usual calamity. The hardy veteran seemed to be able to keep it all together even as he watched his Company die around him.
The corpses of hundreds of greenskins lay before the Howling Griffons lines. They had been battling here at the bridge for three days and nights straight, with the Orks constantly converging on their position. Masses of Ork dead lay here and there in great walls of dead meat, both old and fresh. There were so many Orks, that no one had to even aim to get a kill, the targets were so numerous it was impossible to miss. Alexian fired another burst, and looked over his shoulder to see how the rest of the Company fared. He saw the bodies of six dead Howling Griffons, their yellow and orange quartered armor now caked by their own blood. The remains of the squads in the Company had organized into small, about five man, teams and were lead by whoever seemed the most capable.
Alexian heard an alien howl from his right, and saw a group of Orks climbing their way over the bridge, and leaping into the Griffons right flank. Alexian immediately shifted his aim at the new threat. There were half a dozen of them, all armed with their typical over sized firearms and axes, and yelling in their barbaric and almost senseless language. Alexian charged forth, catching the attention of all six of the greenskins as the shining Captain waded forth in combat. He fired his Bolt Pistol, and the head of the nearest Ork exploded in a red mist of blood. The remaining greenskins roared and leaped towards him, axes held high for the kill. Bolter fire caught two of them from the side, their bodies brutally torn in half as the explosive shells of a Heavy Bolter tore through flesh and bone alike. Alexian flicked on the energy field of his Power Fist and launched a wide arc before him. Blue energy sparked and crackled, followed by a loud wham and a shower of blood as the bodies of two Orks were smashed to pulp. Alexian looked up from the dead before him and gave a nod of thanks to the Brother with the Heavy Bolter, who was already spraying the Orks with more shells from his massive gun.
"Brothers! Hold the line! Let the galaxy know that the Howling Griffons will never die!" Alexian yelled across the Vox as another wave of Orks closed in.
"For Guilliman, son of the Emperor!" The Astartes around him began as they started bellowing the battle cry of the Howling Griffons. "For the Founding Father!"
At that point, Alexian heard them. The unmistakable howl of Drop Pods descending towards the planet. Of course it could have been anything, a missile, a meteor, a falling ship, anything. But his inner feeling as an Astartes told him that they could be nothing more then fellow Battle Brothers descending into the war down here to help them. And he was right.
Three blue colored Drop Pods slammed against the bridge, throwing aside a dozen Orks and crushing even more under them as they landed with thunderous fury. Alexian could have sworn that tears came into his eyes as he recognized the clenched red fist of the Crimson Fists, and watched as the hatches of the Drop Pods fell with a puff of smoke and dust as they landed against the bridge.
And lead by Stefanos Van Alessian in his shining dark blue Artificer Armor, the Crimson Fists surged into the Ork lines.
Van Alessian was glad to see the familiar sight of Astartes in full battle plate as he landed onto the surface of Cthonis. Even after having been under heavy pressure from the Orks for days, the Howling Griffons were still fighting on. Although he could not help but notice that only so many of them were left from a full Company. In a way, both the Fists and the Griffons were in the same situation, the 5th Company was still recovering from it's losses on Rynn's World, when the Orks had nearly destroyed their Chapter.
And for that reason, and the will of the Imperium, the Crimson Fists would hunt down the Orks wherever they may be found. Including here.
"Petrova! Supporting fire, all fronts! Pel'Sar establish defensive perimeter! Comoter, your with me!" Van Alessian ordered and raised his Storm Bolter at the massive wave of Orks closing in.
He pulled the trigger, and in unison the Crimson Fists around him followed suite. Dozens of Orks in the front rows of the horde collapsed as explosive shells hammered them into the stone under their boots. Van Alessian relished at this moment. These filthy aliens had nearly wiped out his Chapter, raped his world from it's beauty and torn open the corpses of the fallen for their lunch. Such barbarism could not go unpunished. And punish them he did. Dozens of explosive shells rained hell onto his enemies, as Ork after Ork fell before the discipline of the Crimson Fists. He heard additional Astartes run over to him, and turned his weapon down from the enemy to take the short moment to greet his ally Astartes. Three warriors clad in the armor of the Howling Griffons marched over to him and gave him a firm salute with a slam to their chestplate. The one in the middle was obviously the commander, his distinctive cloaked and decorated armor standing out among the other Griffons around him.
"Brother, it pleases us greatly to see that the Imperium has taken notice to our plight here. I would say welcome to Cthonis, but under the circumstances i fear that the greeting will lose it's meaning." The commander said. "We feared we had been forgotten."
"A world as important as Cthonis will not fall to the greenskins while the Imperium still draws breath." Van Alessian replied with a small bow. "Captain Stefanos Van Alessian, Crimson Fists 5th Company."
"Captain Demerov Alexian, Howling Griffons 4th Company." He said with a look over to the remains of his men. "Or what is left of it."
"You need fear not Captain Alexian. The Crimson Fists are here now. We will get your Astartes safely out of this mess." Van Alessian said.
Alexian nodded in approval and waved for the two Griffons to return to battle. "I hope you are right, Crimson Fist. Because if we don't survive this - " Alexian was cut off as a missile impacted against the ground and kicked two Howling Griffons off their feet. "the Orks will get their hands on as many as six Warlord-class Titans to wage war against us."
While the Captain's strike group fought a desperate battle of it's own, Sergeant Lycor's Ultimus Squad was in a hectic situation of it's own. He and three other squads had been charged with taking the Command Bunker controlling the Defense Canon. The Orks had already been here in masses by the time they dropped down, their numbers so numerous that the Drop Pods had actually splattered many of them when they whamed to the ground. The Fists had poured out, weapons ablaze and making each precise shot a kill.
Lycor watched as the massive Chaplain Targomai surged fearlessly or without care into the Orks, his Crozius Arcanum cutting down Orks in bloody swaths and his Storm Bolter barking a murderous rhythmic symphony. The Chaplain killed dozens of the foul beasts single handed, and he roared from time to time for his Brothers to advance forward, his Death Mask now glistening with the blood of his foes. Orks closed in, leaped onto his back, and launched explosives at him, but Targomai would not even flinch, and instead returned the attacks with either a lethal blow or accurate burst.
Lycor advanced forward a few paces to duck behind a wall of Aegis defense barricades, now riddled with Ork tomes and additional plating. His combi-bolter barked as he fired, striking down a row of Orks in a hail of shells. Brass shell casings ejected from the weapon and landed with a tiny puff of dust. Lycor fired in long bursts, spreading death across every Ork line he could lay eyes on. He swore as the image of the Battle of Rynn's World appeared in his mind: Orks all over the place. In the streets, the sewers, the rooftops, the air. Everywhere. And a more fitting reenactment could not be present. Orks leaped at the Crimson Fists, yelling barbaric battle cries and insults as they closed onto the Astartes. The Fists replied with well placed shells into the skulls or chests of the greenskins, or when they got too close, skillful swipes and thrusts from their Combat Knifes, honed by decades of training. The Orks could not hope to comprehend the magnitude of such skill as the 5th Company threw against them, and soon the corpses of dozens upon dozens of Orks filled the trenches as the Space Marines pushed forward, lead by the hulking Chaplain Targomai.
They were advancing along a damaged Imperial defense line, a long, black maze of trenches and bunkers topped with Aegis barricades in some parts of the line where the Orks had torn wide gaps with missiles or blown open with demolition charges. Here and there, they could find the fleshy and ragged remains of Imperial Guardsmen and their shattered weaponry, although after the Orks had finished gnawing at their flesh and tearing apart their bodies, they were far beyond recognition.
A ferocious volley of rockets hurtled forth from the left, and Crimson Fists scattered as they rolled or dodged for any cover around them. The rockets struck their targets, and Lycor was enraged to see two of his Battle Brothers slain by the volley as the powerful projectiles hit them dead on into their armor. Not even an Astartes in full power armor could survive a rocket's direct hit. Additional volleys of heavy weapons fire from Ork machine gunners followed, peppering the ground with holes and cratering the cover around the Fists.
"Orks gunners! To the left!" Cortezia yelled and ordered his squad to shift their aim towards the new threat as he raised his own combi-bolter and began firing.
The four Devastator's with him packed two Heavy Bolter and two Plasma Canons, and turned this deadly weaponry towards the gunners firing from Ork-made barricades on the high ground to their left. The Heavy Bolters fired dozens upon dozens of over sized rounds, tearing bodies apart and turning the formerly bronze colored barricades red with blood. The Plasma Canons whined and charged up as the two Battle Brothers with them prepared to deliver their payload. Moments later, two bright bolts of plasma glistened across the air and detonated against the gunners, throwing some aside from the shockwave but incinerating the rest in a brutal blue-white flash of death.
Lycor and the other Fists around him cheered, but Targomai barked them back into reality as he turned his Storm Bolter to face a charging horde of Orks coming down one of the trenches. Sergeant De Machatos and his own men moved to support the Chaplain, turning the trenches green with Ork dead as bodies fell upon bodies and more blood flowed to the feet of the Crimson Fists. Some Orks made it close, but Targomai or the Tactical Squad around him dispatched these with ease. But as a fearsome of a fanatic as Targomai was, he was certainly no fool. He followed normal procedure, and had his forces take positions around the small area they cleared from the Orks. De Machatos split his squad into two halves to cover as much ground as possible, and Cortezia lined up his Devastators further behind them as they traced for Ork movement. Lycor had his men get into position, just as Sergeant Midaz and his five Assault Marines moved from their cover, Plasma Pistols still coiling smoke from the extensive firing before. Two Astartes had fallen securing this drop point, both from Lycor's Ultimus Squad. He sighed and prayed they would find peace at the right side of the Emperor.
"Perimeter established sir." De Machatos reported Targomai. "The Orks won't be getting past here any time soon."
"Lets not wait around for them to mass together larger numbers. We took some ground and secured a part of their defenses, and that won't go unnoticed for long. Sergeant Midaz, rally your Assault Marines and prepare for close assault, we will advance along the central trench there." Targomai said and pointed an armored gauntlet at the mouth of the trench in the middle.
"Sergeant Lycor, you and your squad will give support for Squad Orthor, advancing along the left trench. De Machatus, i fear you must undertake your part alone. We will attempt to draw as much attention away from the right as possible, but expect heavy resistance. The Orks know the value of this Canon just as we do." Targomai continued, his voice booming through the grill on his helmet like a phantom closing on it's prey. The Chaplain had not suffered a single wound, even after being exposed to the blows of the Orks the most. His black armor was now painted in red all over, covering the golden eagle and skull on his chestplate.
"Have we heard from the other strike groups?" Lycor asked.
"Comms to Myron and his Scouts are off until they think it's safe to resume communication. They do not wish to take any chances of the Orks catching their scent. As for the Captain, no. We just landed ourselves here. But we cannot worry about them now, our Brothers will handle their own objectives. Our priority," Targomai said and pointed behind him. "is that Canon."
The massive weapon could be seen all the way over here, even when they were dozens of kilometers away. Clad into a dome shaped shell that acted as it's shield, the Planetary Defense Canon was by far the largest single weapon on Cthonis, and menacingly pointed toward the grey sky of the Forge World. The huge barrel could fire shells the size trucks, each powerful enough to take down even an Emperor-class ship in a few shots. Such weapons of mass destruction were only employed on only the most strategically crucial of worlds. Such as this one.
"The Orks probably didn't expect an attack all the way over here. They most likely thought the battle was already won, with Howling Griffons being pinned down. And considering that Ork ships are not knows for their armoring, i would say that gun could easily destroy every greenskin vessel in orbit without our Strike Cruiser risking severe damage." De Machatos said in the tune of only the most professional of soldiers.
"Let's worry about actually getting to the gun first Sergeant." Targomai said and began stomping towards the central trench. "Battle Brothers! We have hit the ground but there are still long ways to go before we hit that Canon! Go to your objectives and continue the advance, do the Chapter proud! For Dorn and the Emperor!"
"For Dorn and the Emperor!" The others replied around him.
Van Alessian swore as he saw another Astartes go down in a hail of gunfire, this time wearing the blue armor of the Crimson Fists. Since they had landed, three more Howling Griffons had been slain, their ammunition low and their blades spent and broken. He was impressed at how they carried on though, even after having witnessed the deaths of dozens of their Battle Brothers, the Griffons didn't even nudge and fought on with increased zeal and vigor instead. Captain Alexian, the commander of the Griffons here, was as inspirational and worthy of a leader as any Brother-Captain should be. He stood always at the front of the battle, Bolt Pistol barking and Power Fist swinging. Scores of dead xenos lay before the boots of the Crimson Fists and the Howling Griffons.
"Captain Van Alessian, this is Thunderhawk 'Lance of Retribution'. We have your readings on our Auspex and are closing on your position for close fire support, standby for squadron confirmation." A Space Marine in the grips of a Thunderhawk gunship called in through the vox.
"Thunderhawk 'Angel of Blood' confirms." Another voice came in.
"Thunderhawk 'Mantle of Pollux' confirms." A third voice said.
Van Alessian opened a channel to all local Astartes. "Brothers, seek cover! Thunderhawks inbound for air strike!"
The Fists and Griffons fired a few last shots towards the Orks and then rushed into whatever cover that had something to offer over their heads. Van Alessian ducked under a cave-like pile of fallen concrete that the Howling Griffons had used to store ammunition. A few unused Bolter shells still lay here and there. Bullets peppered the stone around him, and he could hear the Orks getting closer and closer as they saw the Astartes retreat into hiding. He prayed by Pollux that those Thunderhawks would get here sooner then the Orks hit their lines.
His prayers were answered, and soon three Crimson Fists Thunderhawks swooped in from the sky like blazing angels of death, and released their murderous payload onto their hated Ork enemies. The Orks looked skywards and some fired a few snapshots at the incoming Imperial aircraft, but that was a pathetically inadequate move. Soon, hundreds of shells from the Thunderhawk's Heavy Bolters peppered the greenskins on all fronts, followed by bursts of Hellstrike Missiles. Blood, bodies and stone exploded into the air like great columns, tossing aside Ork corpses. Soon enough, the greenskins began to flee, only to be chased by more Heavy Bolter fire that cut down dozens more in bloody swaths. Soon the Unshaken Bridge was nothing but a desolate graveyard for over a thousand Orks, killed both by the wrath of the Astartes on the ground and the fury of the Thunderhawks. Van Alessian felt a flush of relief, as did every other Marine around him. The gunships would be bringing in additional ammo and equipment as well as armor. It was time to begin this war in earnest.
"Thunderhawks, Van Alessian here. Fine work Brothers, you do the Chapter proud." He didn't even bother looking out of his cover to see of all Orks were dead. By the sudden drop of Ork laughter and gunfire he could already tell they had been driven back. "Drop off your cargo here on the bridge and bring fury to the enemy. Chaplain Targomai will need aerial support, so the fortifications to the west will be your next target."
"Understood. Thunderhawk 'Lance of Retribution' initiating ordnance drop." A pilot replied with a firm and professional voice.
Van Alessian looked around him as he walked out of his cover and back onto the bridge. The dead lay all around. The bodies of fourteen Howling Griffons and a single Crimson Fist lay where they had fallen, pierced by bullets or hacked by Ork axes to the ground. But they were nothing compared to the hundreds of greenskin dead around them. Bodies in all forms of death lay everywhere, smashed to pulps of dead meat and shattered bone in close combat or blown into half by ranged fire. He kicked aside the body of an Ork that Captain Alexian had killed here earlier and walked over to see the condition of his forces.
Brother Aralis was standing over all the other Astartes on a heap of rock, holding the standard of the 5th Company as it flapped in the air. Macelan, the Company Champion, was wiping his blade from Ork blood and gore. He strode over to sergeant Pel'Sar, who was standing over the dead Crimson Fist with Apothecary Crastus. Crastus stabbed the dead Battle Brother and extracted the precious gene-seed within the warrior, so it may be passed onto another initiate after him.
"Brother Derian," Pel'Sar said and turned over to Van Alessian. "A good man. Fought with him for the past three years now."
"He will be remembered." Van Alessian said as Crastus rose to his feet and walked off to help the wounded Howling Griffons. "Report sergeant."
"Beachhead established my Lord. All hostiles neutralized. Although i fear the Orks are regrouping for a second assault, they will come with anti-air guns this time. Our Thunderhawks scared them quite a bit." Pel'Sar said.
"They won't have time for that." Van Alessian responded. "By the time we get our supplies and vehicles here, the Thunderhawks will clear the way forward for us before breaking off to assist Targomai. The - "
"Get away from them!" An Astartes voice boomed from behind them.
Van Alessian turned, and noticed a Howling Griffon standing over the bodies of four other warriors of his Chapter. Crastus was standing right before him, his hands crossed over his chest as if observing the Astartes before him. Van Alessian knew at once what this was about and began walking towards the two arguing warriors, followed closely by Pel'Sar and another Crimson Fist from his squad.
"Brother, they are hardly of any use within a dead warrior. Your Chapter would benefit more if your would but permit me to extract the bloodstock within." Crastus said with a gentle wave of a hand towards the dead Griffons.
"Our own Apothecary will handle that!" The Howling Griffon bellowed and looked over his shoulder. "Venitas! Venitas! Blast it, where is the Apothecary?"
Van Alessian reached the arguing warriors and stopped right in between them. "What is going on here?"
The Howling Griffon turned to Van Alessian. "Your Apothecary here is trying to get his hands of our fallen Brothers. I will not allow that while we have a Brother from our own Chapter to extract the gene-seed of our fallen!"
"Sergeant Varatos!" Captain Alexian yelled and ran in between him and Crastus. "Forgive him, Brother. As you know this Company has been through much over the past few days and he wishes only to ensure that it is a Howling Griffon that does a Howling Griffon's job. Besides," Alexian said and turned to face the the Howling Griffon now revealed as sergeant Varatos. "Apothecary Venitas died nine minutes ago."
Varatos fell silent. "My apologies." He muttered and walked off to no direction in general.
Alexian looked after him for a moment before turning to Crastus. "You have my permission to extract the gene-seed, Apothecary. You have the thanks of the 4th Company."
Crastus nodded, and bent down to retrieve the gene-seed from the Howling Griffons dead. Glad that it was all over now, Van Alessian turned to meet Alexian as Crimson Fists and Howling Griffons assembled all over Crastus, viewing him as he extracted the gene-seed one by one.
"We can hardly afford to turn on each other now, Brother-Captain." Van Alessian said.
"Aye. Forgive Varatos, he only want's what is best for our Chapter. After the extensive losses we suffered here, i only hope you may understand." Alexian responded.
The Crimson Fists Captain nodded. "No apology needed Brother. But now we must discuss the coming battle, there is still much to do. Do you have any information on the Titans? Their status?"
"Last we heard, the Orks were trying to claw their way inside the Titans. The crew had sealed the machines shut from inside to prevent the Orks from climbing in. This, of course, was four days ago, and the greenskins control the Manufactorum holding all six Titans. If they get them, i need not even describe what they could do with them." Alexian said.
"If the Orks get a hold of the Titans somehow then we already have a plan for that. Chaplain Targomai and part of my Company is securing the Defense Canon, we are going to use it to blast through the Ork fleet." Van Alessian responded.
Alexian raised an eyebrow. "The Canon? It is heavily guarded, as you surely know. But there is something you may not know of the place."
Van Alessian suddenly felt worried. The Captain's tone spoke only of a dire situation. "What do you mean?"
"Before the Orks hit, the Imperial Guard had an Airbase near the Canon's control bunker that housed three squadrons of Lighting fighters. Those fighters never took off, never had the time. The pilots were not even on sight when the attack began and they were all killed before they even lay'd eyes on their craft. The Orks now have the field. And the Lighting's."
"Sweet Emperor." Gasped Pel'Sar. "They Chaplain and his men will be incinerated in that firepower!"
Alexian nodded in grim approval. "The Orks didn't target us here at the bridge because they believed that we were the last Imperial defenders on Cthonis, and wanted to hog the kills...the old fashioned way. If your Chaplain and his men have already started the attack however..."
"Then those Lighting's are on their way to bomb them to oblivion." Van Alessian said, and felt his primary heart skip a beat. "Pel'Sar, are the Thunderhawks finished here?"
The sergeant looked behind him. The boxy forms of two Rhino APC's and a Predator Battle Tank had rolled into view from the gunships, and the Astartes were offloading the last of their extra ammo. "In a minute or so Captain, do i even need to guess what you are planning?"
"No. Tell those pilots their targets are three squadrons of scavenged Lighting fighters to the west heading towards Chaplain Targomai's position." Van Alessian said.
"But the Thunderhawks are not designed to fight against fighters sir. They'll be blasted from the sky!" Pel'Sar retorted. Alexian too, seemed to doubt this move, although he was silent about it.
"The Orks will have likely been modding the fighters, adding more guns to them that is. To fit the extra ammo feeds they may have been forced to break down the engines a little, that should give the gunships a tactical advantage." Van Alessian replied.
"And if not?" Pel'Sar asked.
"The the Orks will rule the skies and we will be trapped here until more Imperial troops arrive. So let's not waste time here any longer. Get the men here ready to move towards the Manufactorum, those Titans remain our priority."
PART III: The Storm
Lycor watched as another shot from the Plasma Canon at his rear seared forward through the wide, open gap formed by Ultimus Squad to give Cortezia and his Devastators room to fire. He blinked a few times as the blinding bolt exploded in a brilliant flash against a wave of Orks and incinerated their front ranks as the shot melted flesh and bone with terrible ease, but several more Orks charged through the smoke of the blast, firing and yelling in their crude tongue as they made a suicidal charge into the Crimson Fists.
Lycor fired, and he kicked half a dozen greenskins off their feet in a swift burst of red gore and blood. More came, and he fired again and again, the barrel of his Bolter spitting raw death at his enemies. The Crimson Fists around him followed suite, and fired long deadly bursts into the mass of xenos. Dozens fell, and soon Ultimus and Orthor squad's were advancing through a pile of dead meat so thick it almost made movement difficult. Lycor and his Tactical marines had to push and kick the dead Orks aside to give Cortezia and his Devastators along with their heavy weapons room to move, for their massive guns were not fit for clearing ways open like this, and wasting Plasma Canon shots to clear the path was something they could not afford.
"More greenskins!" An Astartes yelled and raised his humming Plasma Gun.
From the left, a small horde of around two dozen Orks charged senselessly into close combat, as their race so often had the habit of doing. The Crimson Fists fired a few volleys, and all of the Orks were cut down in a flash of time as Bolter fire caught them half way to the Fists position. Damn, Lycor thought, just likes Rynn's World again.
A minute later, the path had been cleared from Ork dead, and they were once again advancing through the trenches and bunkers. Bolter fire and roars from Chainswords sounded to their left, as the rest of their brothers strove towards the Defense Canon. They were perhaps almost half way to the control bunker, but from the distance to the gun it almost seemed that they had not advanced a single pace since making Planetfall. The gun was so massive it almost seemed to make time stop.
The remaining six Astartes in Ultimus continued to trace for targets, formed in a circle around Orthor Squad to keep the Orks from getting to grips with the vulnerable heavy weapons specialists. Three Battle Brothers from Ultimus had already fallen. Lycor tried not to think of his fallen Brothers, but the thought came back at him as easily as he pulled the trigger of his weapon. He looked to his right, and it was the that he saw it: An Ork 'Nob.
The massive Ork was easily twice the size of a normal man, and was perhaps as tall as an Astartes in full Terminator Armor. He wore grey and red armor that had been upgraded with bits torn from the hull of some Imperial Guard vehicle. On his back, he had a great back banner that was made of flayed human skin, and a burned half-moon insignia in it's center. The effect was horrifying.
"Holy Terra." Cortezia gasped. "Brothers! Bring heavy weapons to bear! Take that beast down!"
The Devastators raised their heavy weapons, but the low trench made it difficult to adjust their aim and they were forced to move a couple paces forward before they could properly aim and fire. The 'Nob was already rampaging through the dead human and Ork dead, smashing bodies with his massive feet. He made an utterly alien battle cry and pulled the trigger of the Auto canon he had taken from a Guard heavy weapons team. Several explosive shells rained fire on the entrenched Space Marines, and Ultimus squad ducked instinctively as the high explosive rounds hammered the ground around them. Cortezia switched to his Combi-Bolter's plasma attachment and fired the single shot at the 'Nob while the Heavy Bolters began to fire along side him.
The blue bolt slammed uselessly against the Ork's armor, and most of the Heavy Bolter shots deflected off the front plating as well. Some found their mark, but even the massive explosive rounds were not enough to bring down the in-humanly strong xeno. The Auto Canon continued to bang and boom, and one of the rounds exploded directly on the face of one of the Devastators. Blood and bits of brain and skull washed the Astartes next to the fallen marine, and Cortezia was enraged as he saw one of his men die right next to him. The Plasma Canons whined, and then fired, both bolts exploded next to the 'Nob, melting away some of the armor and boiling the skin underneath. But the beast was still running.
"It's getting close!" An Astartes yelled, firing his Bolter. "Kill it! KILL IT!!"
Lycor instantly switched to his Melta-attachment on his own Combi-Bolter. He may regret using up the shot now, but this was the only chance they had in taking this monster down. Lycor, ignoring the shouts and warnings of his Brothers around him, leaped from the trench and charged forward to meet the 'Nob face to face. The Ork made a sadistic grin and flipped the Auto Canon in his hands to use it as a massive club. Lycor drew air into his lungs.
"DIE!" He roared and leaped over a pile of sandbags and fired the Combi-Bolter into the Ork's exposed head. The stream of white, sun-hot energy struck it's target and the 'Nob's face melted away under the intense heat of the Melta blast. Faceless, and the newly born crater in his head still puffing smoke and bubbling with hot blood, the 'Nob fell with a massive wham of dust and blood as it crushed dead corpses beneath it.
Lycor began to hyper ventilate, as he struggled to overcome the near state of shock he was in. This Ork had deserved it's fate, a fellow Astartes had died at it's hands. He cursed the Ork and turned back to face his Battle Brothers, all of whom were staring at him in utter awe. As he sprinted back towards the other Crimson Fists, sergeant Cortezia also got up from the trench and marched to meet the veteran warrior.
"Sergeant Tores Lycor!" He yelled and slammed his palm across his shoulder plate. "You are the luckiest, and perhaps the most foolhardy Astartes i have had the pleasure of meeting!"
Lycor just laughed. But soon that laugh turned into silence as they heard the familiar wail of aircraft closing in. All Astartes fixed their gazes upwards, and soon they saw a swarm of as many as eighteen Jets closing in. Even without his enhanced vision Lycor could tell from here that they were Lighting's, fast and deadly Interceptor fighters. But the Imperial aircraft had been tampered with, changed, made more fitting for the needs of another type of fighting force. And beside the Astartes, there was only one other force on Cthonis.
"Those are not ours." Lycor said. "Inform Chaplain Targomai, now!"
Cortezia tapped open the vox on his helm, while also running alongside Lycor to take cover in the trenches. "Chaplain Targomai, Cortezia here! We have inbound Ork fighters, scavenged Lighting's! They will hit us any minute now!"
"I see them!" Targomai replied over the vox. "Sergeant's, get your Astartes to the nearest bunker cleared of these greenskins! We are not losing this objective!"
From a distance away, the squadrons of defiled Lighting's closed onto the position of the Fists, their enhanced armament poised to slay all humans below. They approached with menacing skulls crudely bolted onto the noses and sides of the fighters, and additional bombs and heavy guns fitted onto or under the wings. Their firepower was, if anything, impressive. Even the Crimson Fists had to admit that. But they had lost their former speed thanks to the modifications the greenskins had made, the old more efficient thrusters now replaced by primitive ork engines that didn't propel it forward fast enough to make up for in speed what it had in firepower.
And the three screaming Thunderhawks that swooped in to destroy the Ork flyers, knew to take advantage of that.
"Captain, Thunderhawk 'Lance of Retribution' here. You were right, the greenskins have modified the Lighting's and are moving like floating debree in space. We will be in optimum weapons range shortly." The pilot in one of the Thunderhawks, Brother Gregorio, voxed in to the Captain.
"Understood 'Lance of Retribution'. Bring fire to the enemy. Van Alessian out."
And with that, the vox snapped shut and the cockpit of the Thunderhawk was filled with nothing but the humming noise of the thrusters driving this craft forward. Gregorio initiated a quick weapons check before he began tracking the closest Lighting. A red circle appeared around one of the Ork ships, followed quickly by a red skull flashing in it's middle, indicating it was within firing range. Gregorio opened a vox to the other two Thunderhawks on his flanks.
"'Mantle of Pollux' and 'Angel of Blood', lock targets are fire at will. Draw the flyers away from our brothers on the ground at all costs." Gregorio said.
The two other pilots briefly acknowledged, and then locked on to their own targets with their missiles. Gregorio looked out at the Ork flyer on his targeting screen, and then with a quick prayer, pressed the firing stud to launch the missile. Moments later, two more streaked towards the Lighting's.
The missiles, flawless in design and true in aim and purpose, each struck their target before the Ork pilots could even notice them on. Three brilliant explosions followed the impact of the missiles, as they ignited the larger ammo feeds of the scavenged Lighting's and burst into searing flame. Chunks of flaming metal and twisted gun barrels rained onto the ground below with a burst of dirt and stone.
"Hit confirmed, locking new targets." Gregorio confirmed and began tracking another Ork Lighting. He still had four missiles left, and in his book that usually meant four more kills air to air, if the Fists pilots managed to score a kill with every missile they had, they may not have to rely so heavily on catching the Ork flyers with their Heavy Bolters or Las Canons.
Another Lighting was locked, and he pressed the stud again and sent the Hellstrike missile forward with a puff of smoke and a gasp of air as it released from the pod. More missiles followed, and soon the air became filled with Ork flyers spinning wildly towards the ground or exploding in the air in ferocious bursts of flame. But now the Orks had caught their scent, finally, and turned to bring their own weapons to bare on the Astartes pilots. Gregorio tensed himself, and instinctively he prepared the two Las Canons and his eight Heavy Bolters. The Bombardment Canon would be useless against aerial targets here, but luckily he didn't need it against the Ork flyers with the weapons he had in his hands now.
"Brace for close assault! Switch to hull and wing weapons! Engage at will!" Gregorio barked into the vox and pressed the firing studs of the Las Canons, just as the Orks began firing at the Thunderhawks.
Two beams of blazing hot energy murderously flashed forward at the remaining eleven Lighting's. One struck true, the shot cutting into the cockpit and punching through into the engines behind, causing another Lighting to tumble as scrap from the skies. The second missed, and Gregorio cursed as he saw the other Ork flyer he had targeted spin away from his path. Machine gun shots ricocheted off the heavier armor plating of the Thunderhawks, who responded with long jets of explosive shells from their Heavy Bolters.
And as Chaplain Targomai and the other Fists viewed from below, the skies of Cthonis turned black with the aerial fight now occurring in it's atmosphere.
Lycor watched eyes wide open as the Thunderhawks slammed into the enemy fighters, weapons ablaze and sending long streams of shells and Las bolts across the skies. Lycor was pulled back into reality when Cortezia pulled him from his arm and nodded towards the Defense Canon, still towering above all else.
"Come on! The Thunderhawks have given us a chance, and we can't waste it!" He said and followed the rest of the Astartes down the trench towards the command bunker. Lycor ran to the front of his men, feeling obliged almost to lead them personally from the front. Combi-Bolter held high and tracing for movement, Lycor and the battered Crimson Fists advanced with a steady pace. The Orks had suffered massive casualties at the hands of the Fists, their savage way of warfare no match for fully trained Astartes. Thousands of them had already fallen during the Planetfall, and many thousands of more would die, whether the Imperium was to be victorious or defeated on Cthonis. Lycor and the other Astartes around him soon heard the all too familiar howl of the Ork, and soon the xenos began to once again pour down the trenches and the flanks in great numbers. They had either hidden from the incoming airstrike or had just arrived on the scene. It mattered little, they would die either way.
Lycor fired his Bolter into the Orks, thinking how many he had already killed and swore he was just getting started.
Van Alessian fired a long burst of shells from behind the faithful Rhino APC, which was acting as cover for the advancing Astartes as they pushed on to the Manufactorum. Storm Bolter rounds mocked the light cover of the Ork gunners firing at the small Astartes convoy, and Van Alessian could see bodies topple and blood wash the stone as Ork fell in great loads. On the Rhino's pintle mounted Storm Bolter, a Crimson Fist laid down devastating volleys of shells as the double barreled weapon shook and banged in the steady grips of the Astartes. Orks leaping from the ruined buildings and warehouses with mighty blades and axes attempted to climb onto the Rhino to get at the gunner, but were either gunned down on the spot or taken down before even reaching him. Steadily, so that the Crimson Fists and Howling Griffons could keep up with the vehicles, the Rhino's advanced behind the boxy Predator tank, it's Auto Canon thudding in each direction and pulping entire groups of Orks with each shot. Entire walls collapsed, crushing any Ork who may have survived the initial blast from the canon under boulders of hard stone concrete. Keeping in steady firing lines and surrounding the flanks and ends of each vehicle, the Astartes warriors added their own firepower into the fray, and soon the streets of Cthonis ran red with streams of blood and gore.
Van Alessian was impressed at how the Howling Griffons were fighting, he had never had the chance to fight alongside a Chapter from the bloodstock of the Primarch Guilliman, and by the Emperor he was glad he had it now. The Griffons advanced with the only sounds they made being either swift notifications of new targets and the bark of their Bolters. They never lowered down their guard, never stopped looking for something to kill, and never stopped moving either. At the front of the convoy, Captain Alexian smashed Orks with his massive Power Fist, cutting wide arcs across the charging xenos and firing deathly, accurate shots from his gold-plated Bolt Pistol, making every shot count as Ork after Ork collapsed to the ground with another bloody crater in his chest or his head torn from his neck by the sheer force of the Pistol. Alessian himself, was taking up the rear with his Command Squad, ensuring that no Ork could get at the vulnerable rear armor of the Predator or Rhino's. Pel'Sar and his squad took the left along with a small, five man combat squad of Howling Griffons while the rest of the Griffons amassed into the right. Petrova and his Devastators were still inside their Rhino, firing from the opened top hatch with their Bolt Pistols. Van Alessian had not wished to risk their safety any more the neseccary, the room here was already far from adequate for heavy weapons. Meanwhile, sergeant Comoter and his own Astartes pushed a little ahead of the convoy, weakening the enemy ahead and scouting out any potential targets. The perfection that these Astartes created in unison was enough to lift the spirits of any man.
"Captain! Ork 'Nob!" Zenithan yelled and raised his scoped Bolter and leveled the crosshairs over the massive Ork closing in, wielding a great club in one hand tipped on all sides with razor-sharp spikes likely torn from some type of vehicle and then crudely attached to the huge piece of metal, which was the barrel of a missile launcher torn off it's bipod. Bolter rounds struck the 'Nob on it's torso, releasing gouges of blood as Zenithan's shots fell true and found their mark. Flaps of bloodied skin and mangled flesh hung from the Ork's body, as he bellowed a mighty battle cry and charged directly at Zenithan.
Van Alessian leaped into the way, catching the attention of the 'Nob and thrusting his Power Sword into it's gut with a powerful thrust. The Ork roared in pain and dropped the club as his fingers zapped straight from shock and his eyes went wide in confusion and anger. Van Alessian pulled the blade from the 'Nob with a savage cleave, nearly cutting the Ork in half and sending it's body crashing down as gallons of hot blood poured from inside it's broken body and soaked the ground around it in a puddle of red liquid. Van Alessian briefly remarked the impressive kill he had just made and then waded into battle again as a horde of Orks closed in from inside the ruins of a tall building before him. Gunners at the rooftops around him sprayed him with hundreds of bullets, each uselessly ricocheting off his Artificer Armor in a series of pings and sharp snaps as the high caliber bullets found their mark. He fired his Storm Bolter, and a row of Ork fell in a bloody cluster. He kept firing, not releasing his hold on the trigger, and cut down entire swaths of Orks in a hail of murder and death. Eventually his weapon began to click of emptiness, and he quickly dropped out the empty magazine with the twin barrels releasing large pillars of smoke. He slid a new magazine in with a comfortable wham as the explosive shells slid into the firing chamber. Three more Orks appeared from a wall of smoke, the middle one obviously being some form of leader figure, judging from his heavier armor and weaponry, which included two scavenged Imperial Guard issue Chainswords. Van Alessian took aim and switched to single shot, and the Storm Bolter in his hands bucked once and sent a pair of carefully aimed shells into the skull of the nearest Ork, it's head disappearing behind a red mist. The other two turned, and began running towards him with their weapons held high for the kill, the twin Chainswords of the Ork leader already roaring at full power as the adamantine razors hungered for armor and flesh to tear. Van Alessian strode forward to meet the greenskins, and brought his Power Sword up and as he yelled an insult to the Orks and swiped downwards with his blade. In a blazing arc of energy, the Ork grunt was cut neatly in half, it's leather clothing barely any match against the blow of a Power weapon. The leader struck down with his Chainswords, and Van Alessian swiftly brought his blade before the blow of the first and struck aside the other with his free hand, chipping bits off his vambrace as the chainblade attempted to grasp at the flesh underneath. The Ork leader bellowed in rage, but Van Alessian was already at work and after a single well placed sweep the head of the brutal xeno fell of his shoulders and a hot fountain of blood sprayed from the stump on his neck.
"Captain Van Alessian! Do you read?" The voice of Comoter came in with an urgency that Van Alessian knew meant only trouble.
"Report sergeant, what's going on?" Van Alessian demanded as he retreated back to his Command Squad, firing shots with his Storm Bolter as he went.
"The Orks are bringing in armor sir, looted Leman Russ tanks. They've modified the gun somehow and added extra plating across all sides! We can see two of them rolling in now!" Comoter paused for a moment before continuing. "Captain, we cleared all the Orks in our path, they have no idea we are here, we could catch the tanks by surprise and - "
Comoter never finished saying what he said. There was a sudden massive bang, and a portion of a building exploded in a firestorm. Rubble and shattered metal burst into all directions, raising a massive pillar of smoke into the air. Even as the smoke cleared, Van Alessian knew there was only one thing that could have done that.
"Sergeant Comoter!" Van Alessian said into the vox as he attempted to contact his fellow Crimson Fist. "Sergeant Comoter! Comoter respond!" There was only static on the vox, and Van Alessian feared the worst. "Damn it Dyraz respond already!"
Much to his relief, there was a buzz of static and the voice of a Crimson Fist came through. But it was not Comoter. "Brother-Captain! This is Brother Starax, the sergeant...sergeant Comoter is down sir. The Ork tank spotted us and took a shot."
Van Alessian sighed deeply, and ducked slightly to avoid the hail of fire from the Ork gunners. "I thought you were hidden from the sight of any hostiles."
"So did we, but it seems the Ork tanks are more sophisticated then we first thought. They will be around the corner any second now sir, i suggest pulling sergeant Petrova and his men out to deal with these beasts." Starax said with a few coughs added to it.
"Starax, how many of you are still alive over there?" Van Alessian asked.
Starax couldn't even bare to respond to that for a full five seconds. "One."
The ground shook with the arrival of the Ork tanks, their great treads crushing the streets and leaving huge trails in their wake. The former olive drab colored tanks were now painted in red and black, and the weapons had been modified by the Orks like Comoter had said before his demise. The formerly smooth and clean Battle Canon had been extended, probably for better range, and now looked like a part of a rail had been bolted on instead of a proper weapon, and the Heavy Bolter sponsons were spiked and had larger ammo feeds on their sides, exposing the ammunition to enemy fire.
"Petrova! Get your Astartes out of the Rhino! Enemy armor has us in sights!" Van Alessian ordered over the cacophony of shell casings casings clattering against the armor of the Rhino as the Astartes in the grips of the Storm Bolter continued spraying the Orks on the rooftops, toppling greenskins to the streets or blasting them apart with well placed volleys of explosive shells.
The rear hatch of the Rhino in the middle of the convoy opened with a mechanic clunk, and Petrova lead his four Devastator Marines out into the fray. Their armament was perfectly suited for dealing with the tanks. Petrova carried a Missile Launcher, while the rest of the squad packed two Heavy Bolters and two Las Canons. Petrova stomped over to the Captain, launcher held low on his shoulder.
"Where are the targets?" Petrova asked.
"At the front, two looted Ork tanks. They already took out Comoter and his men." Van Alessian responded.
"No, not Dyraz." Petrova gasped. "Damnable creatures!"
"Indeed. But they will have died for nothing if those tanks - " A sudden wham interrupted him and Van Alessian looked behind him to see the Predator shake from a direct hit from the first Ork tank, while the second attempted to come around for a shot of it's own. "- and we really need those tanks gone now."
"Of course my Lord. Squad Atalis! Targets are dead ahead, two greenskin armored vehicles! I want a brother with a Bolter and Canon on each flank to provide overlapping fields of fire! Move it Astartes!" Petrova barked and turned instantly to get to a firing position where to kill off the tanks.
Astartes were seeking cover wherever it may have been found. All who could possibly fit ducked behind the Rhino's while most others went behind the ruins around them, having killed what seemed like most of the Orks now. The Heavy Bolters on the looted tanks barked, and Van Alessian could hear Alexian swear in rage as two Howling Griffons were caught in the field of fire, their armor little match for the powerful explosive shells of the Heavy Bolters. Alexian looked around from his cover behind a wall of twisted Aegis barricades, and found a few Ork targets to take his vengeance on on the rooftops. His Bolt Pistol barked and all of the Orks fell in three seconds.
Petrova was already in position, his Missile Launcher held aloft and aimed at the middle of the gun tower where the tank was most vulnerable from where he could hit. He pulled the trigger on the massive gun in his hands, and a krak missile streaked from the weapon in a jet of smoke. The shot landed true, and before the Orks could finish loading a second shell, the missile impacted against it's target and sent the gun tower flying into the air as the shot detonated the ammo stacked by the Orks close to the gun, burning down the entire tank into molten scrap. Efficiently, a Devastator with a Heavy Bolter and Las Canon each was covering each flank, the Bolters keeping the infantry off the backs of the Canons. The second Ork tank steamrolled past the destroyed tank, and fired a shot from it's Battle Canon. But it had been hastily prepared and fired, and the shell flew astray and detonated far behind the Astartes. Time enough for the Devastators to exact revenge on Comoter and his men, as two burning-hot Las bolts cut into the front and side armoring and blasted into the ammunition stockpiles clumsily thrown in by the Orks. The tank exploded from within, sending showers of shrapnel and and metal in all directions.
The Astartes cheered, and the Orks that were left either panicked and fled to get more help, or charged into the Astartes, who gunned them down with ease. Van Alessian saw a few run down the streets, and raised his Storm Bolter and pulled the trigger. Half a dozen shells landed onto the backs of the greenskins, splitting them in two and spilling flesh and bits of bone.
"Targets neutralized Lord!" Petrova cheered from behind a Rhino. "Those Ork cans were made of wet paper! Fine work Atalis!"
Van Alessian wanted to stay and enjoy this small victory while he could. Wins such as this lifted the spirits of the men and kept them well and fighting. But the more time they spent here, the more time the Orks had to loot the Titans.
"Brothers! We cannot tarry here any longer! Push on towards the Manufactorum. Predator, you have point, Rhino's follow in formation. All squads stay outdoors, we will have to compensate for the loss of sergeant Comoter's men." Van Alessian said with a flash of anger upon mentioning the death of Dyraz Comoter.
The convoy rolled on, with the Predator menacingly leading the way to the Manufactorum. It was pretty much a straight shot from hereon out, they could already see the Manufactorum from here, it's tall defense towers and walls dwarfing that of the structures surrounding it. Crastus extracted the gene-seed of the fallen Howling Griffons and gave the reductor vials to sergeant Varatus, who had taken it upon him to carry the bloodstock of his fallen brothers. Then, Crastus walked over to the much more griever job: to extract the gene-seed of the dead Crimson Fists.
The sight was horrifying. Azarath Squad had come close to annihilation before, in their legendary engagement with the Eldar, where they had heroically charged across the field of battle and wiped out much of the Eldar single handed, yet at the same price it was suffering now: A single man left standing. They found brother Starax kneeling next to the body of sergeant Comoter, his armor and features still well recognizable at least. It sickened Van Alessian to see so many Crimson Fists dead. Nine of his brothers, killed in nothing more but a single shot. The thought seemed sickening. Was sickening. One by one, Crastus filled vial after vial with a gene-seed of the Crimson Fists, the corpses shaking and spilling blood as he drilled deeper into their flesh to extract the gene-seed. It felt wrong to leave the bodies behind too. The Orks would be back, and when they never found any living to kill, they made sure to find plenty of dead to eat for their gruesome meals. The bodies of these Astartes would be cracked open and cut into pieces of raw meat and devoured by the savages. The Howling Griffons too, were resentful at leaving their dead to the mercy of the enemy. So they hid them, they carefully placed the bodies inside a destroyed warehouse. There was no reason the Orks would come looking in here, as the rest of the place was sealed off by rubble apart from this small corner. They paid their respects quickly, and then rushed to rejoin the convoy as it rolled on towards it's final destination.
"I could tear their entire race apart for this." Muttered and cursed Alexian as he marched side by side with Van Alessian, leading the convoy from the head.
"I can relate, Alexian." Van Alessian said. "When the Orks nearly destroyed my Chapter a decade ago, we wanted nothing more then to go after them and hunt them all down. But vengeance always comes after duty. Duty to the Chapter, Emperor, and His Imperium."
Alexian nodded in approval, he had grown to deeply respect the Crimson Fists Captain by now, having risked the lives of himself and his men countless times to save those of Alexian and his Astartes.
"And yet it is duty that draws us to these battles that take the lives of many of our brothers. We seem to come to a lockstep in that matter every time." Alexian said.
"I have started thinking the same way, Fourth Captain." Van Alessian replied. "But of the Titans, do you have any more details on them beside their quantity and classification?"
Alexian shook his head. "It's faint at best. We learned that this was supposed to be the birthplace for an entirely new Titan Legion, the Legio Aquilarum. Two Titans had been constructed here, the other four were shipped here off world. It's about one-third done probably, this legion was supposed to hold eighteen Titans, twelve of which would be Warlord-class. The other Titans had not even probably begun construction yet, we got all the known information on the Titans when we arrived."
"So, we need to consider the possibility that the Orks have all six of the Titans here?" Van Alessian asked.
Alexian nodded slowly. "Aye. The Titans were fully armed and wired up, and although the Orks will need time to learn how to use them, it won't matter because by the time another Imperial unit gets here within the next two months perhaps, the Titans are already long gone."
Van Alessian had no reply to that. He merely looked up at the great Manufactorum with Alexian, both Astartes thinking what they would find inside beside the obvious horde of Orks stalking the corridors and hallways. But by Terra was the place a site to behold, especially since the Orks had not tampered with it. Defense towers and dormant auto-turrets peppered the perimeter defenses, and the insignia of the Adeptus Mechanicus was stamped against every wall, shimmering with gold and silver. If only the sun was shining down here, the Manufactorum would glisten with light.
"A storm is coming, Van Alessian." Alexian said grimly. "Let's just hope we can avoid it and prevent the disastrous consequence's."
PART IV: The Breach
On board the Temperatam Laminas, Lord-Captain Qhunaria observed the Ork fleet before him, now within eye sight this time. The ship had moved enough to allow the Astartes to launch their drop pods onto the surface, and was close to being out of the safety of the moon they were using as cover. They were lucky, the relatively close proximity of Cthonis's moon to the actual planet was the thing that had allowed the Astartes to launch in the first place. He was was tapped on the shoulder by his second officer, Lieutenant Marietta Eclipse, who handed him over a data slate with detailed information about the Ork fleet. Unti now, they had not actually done a detailed scan of the greenskin ships.
"It's mostly what we expected sir. All of their vessels are looted Imperial ships, mostly Dauntless-class Light Cruisers. There are also what looks like a group of half a dozen Tyrant and Victory class Battleships, that are surrounding a single massive ship. Probably the flagship of the entire fleet." Eclipse reported.
"That's alot of Imperial hardware." Qhunaria said and rubbed his chin as he looked at the report before him. "Have we completed the analysis on their flagship?"
"We suspect it's a looted Emperor-class ship. The Orks have, as you can see, extensively modified all their ships with additional weaponry. Some parts of the armoring have been stripped completely off to fit the extra guns on."
"At least that is an advantage we can exploit."
"Sir, a single Strike Cruiser hardly is a match for all those ships. If the Ork's don't get us with their Dauntless cruisers then they certainly will get us with the Tyrant's at least. Those ship's plasma batteries have superior range to our own."
"But we must be ready to strike the final blow when the Crimson Fists seize the Defense Canon." Qhunaria said and set the data slate down on the edge of his command throne. "That behemoth can tear every greenskin ship apart like paper."
Eclipse nodded and sighed. "With all due respect to the Lord-Captain, the fact remains, that that gun does not have the time to target each of the enemy ships. It probably can take out most with one shot, but the looted Emperor-class Battleship and the Tyrant's and Victory's may have adequate timing and armor to escape while the weaker light cruisers provide a screen for them."
"Aren't you just a ray of sunshine today Eclipse." Qhunaria said and sat on his throne. "I don't like the idea of taking on that fleet either, but as you said, the gun cannot target all of them in time. But it can take out many , if not most of them before we strike. And, there are no Imperial forces here for the next two months. We are all this planet has."
"Understood sir. I am merely saying that - "
"Lord-Captain!" An officer from one of the auspex stations yelled. "I have something."
Qhunaria got to his feet and strode across the bridge to the station. "Report then, what do you see?"
"Greenskin ships sir. A wing of three small gunships left the Emperor-class Battleship just now. Either their sending a few more xenos down there, or someone is going down there personally." The auspex officer said.
"Personally?" Qhunaria asked with a raise of an eyebrow. "The Warboss?"
"It is a possibility sir." Eclipse said from behind him. "He may have been waiting up here until his goons secured the Titans, and gone down there to see them activated himself."
"Damn it." Qhunaria cursed. "Can we warn the Crimson Fists? If the Warboss really is coming down there, they will want to know."
"We can't alert them without the greenskins picking up our position. And we still don't know if that is the Warboss or some random squadron of gunships." The auspex officer said. He was clearly against trying to contact the Fists.
Qhunaria crossed his arms across his chest and began pacing back and forth. He wanted to contact the Astartes, he wanted to see if he could help them in any way from here. But even he knew that the risk was too great. If the Orks found them, they would not last long against an entire fleet.
"Well damn me." Muttered Qhunaria, marching over to his throne with his arms curled into fists. "All vox stations, continue monitoring any answers to the distress call, see if we get lucky and find someone who want's to help. And all auspex stations, same goes for you. Scan for any movement of Imperial ships as far as your scans can go. I wan't more ships here on the double! And get those Astropaths sending psychic signals!"
The officers and crewmen at the vox and auspex stations rushed to carry out their orders, and soon the bridge was filled with beeping noises and swift confirmations and orders. Qhunaria looked around to ensure everything was alright, and then looked down to the Ork fleet and thought of the most digestive and pleasant ways he could bring down this ship's fury on them.
The Manufactorum was in site now, and the Astartes were able to fully glance upon it this time. It was much the same as they had seen from a distance just some moments ago, with towers and automated defenses on every corner. Ork dead was found in great scores, and shell casings from the Tarantula Heavy Bolter turrets littered the ground as well. The battle had obviously cost the Orks a fortune of troops, and the Techpriests of the Adeptus Mechanicus were to thanked for that, even if the Orks finally got to them and the siege of this Manufactorum outlived them all. The Orks had tossed aside the bodies of their fellow xenos to make room for their vehicles, it could be told by the tracks left behind from tanks and bikes as they had stormed across the city streets.
There were also human dead found. Scores of butchered civilians and Guardsmen along with a few Techpriests here and there were found around every corner. All bodies were headless, the Orks having taken them as trophies to hang from their armor. Alexian was disgusted upon seeing every corpse they came across.
"What could the Orks hope to gain by slaughtering the innocents?" The Howling Griffons asked no one in particular. Even with his face hidden under the face plate of his ancient, yet well maintained and glorious, Mk.IV Maximus armor, Van Alessian could tell that the veteran Astartes was a little confused even for a warrior by his standards. He of course knew that the Orks did this as a hobby, a grim and gruesome one indeed, and that this could easily serve as the only excuse to exterminate every last one of them.
"This was sport for the greenskins." Spat Van Alessian.
"I hope we meet the Warboss here." Growled Alexian, curling his Power Fist. "I promised myself already i would make him pay for what he did to my Company."
Van Alessian made a curt nod. "We both have some scores to settle with this Ork." He said, remembering how Comoter and his men had brutally died at the hands of the Ork tanks.
The sole surviving member of Comoter's squad, Brother Starax had been attached to Van Alessian's command squad as support. The weary Battle Brother was still a crack shot, and Van Alessian had a feeling that he would do well in service of his command staff. Indeed, Starax had received special commendations for his exceptionally good marksman skills, and carried a scoped Bolter as a weapon to further prove that.
It took some time to notice it. But Van Alessian and the other Astartes soon saw great pillars of smoke rising from the east. There were no Imperial forces there beside the Crimson Fists scouts he had sent there. Faint echoes of gunfire only one with superior hearing as an Astartes could hear sounded, and Van Alessian grinned, knowing who was responsible for the chaos.
"Myron." Macelan said. Van Alessian noted it was the first time the stoic Company Champion had spoken since the Planetfall.
"Our young brothers can handle themselves. Let's worry about the Manufactorum for now." Van Alessian said.
The vehicles soon came up to the main gate of the Manufactorum. Whatever glories it had once reflected, it was long gone by now. It had been blasted open by salvos of missiles and explosive charges, and was now nothing more but a great blackened husk of it's former self, with entire pieces of the gate lying everywhere. Blackened and shredded Ork bodies filled the scene, likely blasted by the wrathful explosion of the gate, and on the other side lay the desolated corpses of hundreds of Guardsmen. The Astartes moved in orderly formation, allowing the Predator to take point. The Rhino's drove over to the flanks of the tank, the gunners on the Storm Bolters eagerly awaiting their chance to unleash fury on the enemy. The gaps were filled by squads of Crimson Fists and Howling Griffons, while Devastator marines came up from the rear, Heavy Bolters and Las Canons poised for the kill.
Van Alessian and Alexian took the front, followed closely by the command squad, and turned around to see the familiar faces of thousands of Orks. The area before them was a wide opening, and on the other side was another great entry way into the Manufactorum, also torn open by the Ork hordes. The greenskins were cooking entire piles of dead Guardsmen and technicians, gnawing at their flesh like wild beasts. Great fires rose up and sadistic laughs sounded, followed by the occasional gunshot as the Orks tested their new toys they plucked from the armories of the Manufactorum. Banners bearing the insignia of the Bad Moons rose up, along with vast rows of spiked poles topped with the heads of human dead, their eyes wide open as if still alive and horrified of their vicious alien enemies. Banners of flayed human skin into which half moon insignia's had either been carved or burned hung here and there. Orks of a various kind filled the place, from hundreds of small worthless gretchin servants who cuddled around the feet of their larger brethren, and hundreds upon hundreds of more full sized Orks. There were no vehicles here, apart from scattered Ork bikes which their looters used to search for additional guns and equipment quickly and efficiently. None had noticed the small line of Astartes before them, that was how obsessed they were with their grim feast.
"Animals." Van Alessian growled, clenching his jaw and tightening his grip on his Storm Bolter and Power Sword. "Barbarians. Murderers." He continued with a vicious and angered growl.
"ASTARTES!" He bellowed, his voice like a thousand thunder bolts. The heads of each Ork now snapped towards him, and the aliens began to reach for their weapons and cast away chunks of human meat they were gnawing at. The Space Marines aimed at the horde, fingers on the trigger, awaiting for the Captain's order.
"Butcher them!" Van Alessian bellowed and fired his Storm Bolter.
Thousands of explosive shells rained death, and hundreds fell from the front rows of Orks. The Auto Canon boomed, sending dozens of xenos to hell as they were torn to shreds by the large explosive shells. Van Alessian slew scores of the xenos single handed before they could even reach him in close combat, his Storm Bolter barking a rhythmic symphony of death. The Ork ranks literally exploded into blood and gore, raiding into the air in great splashes of red liquid. Blood soaked Orks charged through, their eyes barely the only recognizable feature on their bodies, and roaring barbaric battle cries as they surged towards the Astartes. The Orks were not all too stupid, they knew that the small handful of Crimson Fists and Howling Griffons could not stay away from close quarters forever against their numbers, and close quarters was where the Orks excelled. Van Alessian dropped out an empty box magazine from his Storm Bolter and reached for another one on his belt and pulled the great sized mag with practiced efficiency and slammed it home, and pulled back the pin with a comfortable ping. He then realized that he was critically low on ammo, with only three more standard magazines left for his ranged weapon. Van Alessian saw that there were Orks getting close anyway, so he decided to save up the last box mag and instinctively clipped it onto his belt, and gripped his Power Sword with two hands.
A group of Orks closed in, crude slashing blades and axes ready to kill, and leaped at the Crimson Fists Captain, him being the most recognizable in their sight now. They were all clad in the usual greenskin clothing, thick leather boots and sleeveless jackets riddles with their clan and tribe insignia's. Most of them wore beheaded human heads on their belts, with hooks crudely stabbed through their eyes and into their skulls to keep them firmly on. Van Alessian spat, and leaped forward to meet the Orks head on, as groups of other Astartes engaged the greenskins in melee as well, drawing their serrated combat knifes. The Power Sword in Van Alessian's hands flashed in a brilliant arc, cutting clothing and flesh as the powered edge of the blade pulped the foes in it's path to ruin. A pair of Orks fell with deep cuts in their chests, blood pouring in rich streams, repainting his greave and shin plating with blood-red. Additional Orks rained onto Van Alessian, but he hacked left and right, cutting every Ork in his path to ribbons. Heads fell and limbs were discarded from bodies as he carved a bloody legacy for himself on the field of battle on this world. At his side, Macelan stood fearlessly in the path of any Ork who came too close, blocking every strike with a perfectly timed raise from his combat shield or sword, and striking back at the Orks with wide scythes that would seem to cut groups of Orks at a time as the Champion devastated his foes with deadly sweeps from his power blade.
Starax was already proving his worth, silencing Orks with his Bolter from afar next to Zenithan and Crastus, as they covered Van Alessian's advance with accurate bursts of Bolter fire. Aralis, the standard of the 5th Company flapping and waving in his grip, fired flesh-searing shot and flesh-searing shot into the mass of Orks from his Plasma Pistol, burning down a xeno with every bolt of plasma. Van Alessian could not be more proud of his brothers.
When this is all over, Van Alessian quickly thought to himself as he thrust his sword into the chest of an Ork. that one will make for a sergeant. He was referring to Starax. The bold, fearless warrior had shown utter fearlessness and loyalty, and continued to fight with lifted spirits even after witnessing the death of his entire squad. Van Alessian could think of no more fitting warrior for the position of sergeant in the 5th Company.
Many Astartes were now gripped in close combat with the Orks, exchanging blows and snapshoting each other with quick draws of Bolters and over sized sidearms. But the superior Astartes weaponry proved victorious time and time again, and the ground merely became more filled with fallen Orks. Although, some Astartes were dragged down and overwhelmed by the Orks, hacked to bloody ribbons. Even Astartes power armor had it's limits. Van Alessian though, was a walking tank in his Artificer Armor. Blows deflected uselessly off, as the blunt and used Ork blades shattered against his plating, and shots ricocheted off with clings of metal against metal. Orks fell in piles, and Van Alessian bellowed mighty battle cries as he advanced forward with diciplined strikes from his glowing power blade, now caked in blood and gore to badly it resembled a club more then an elegant sword.
"Captain Van Alessian, Predator is under heavy fire and Orks are attempting to climb onto it." Petrova reported through the vox. "Were doing all we can to keep them off, but the other vehicles are too caught up to assist and most of our Astartes are engaged in combat."
Van Alessian paid attention to the transmission well enough, his supernatural hearing could pick it up with ease, but he had only so much time to respond to it. Orks were closing in all around him, and there were so many of them that it was impossible to avoid fighting them in melee. He struck a neat blow at the nearest Ork, and it's head fell nicely off its shoulders. Macelan and some Crimson Fists from sergeant Pel'Sar's Dominor Squad closed in around their Captain to cover him while he replied to Petrova.
"Try to keep as many of the greenskins off that tank as possible, we will need it to push through them. The Howling Griffons and the rest of our brothers can protect the Rhino's." He paused for a moment to grasp a small detonator-type object with a red button on top of it. Van Alessian had hoped to use this only in the most dire of situations, when victory was nigh impossible, but this was not the time to take chances. He pressed the button, which connected to a single Drop Pod still left inside the Temperatam Laminas, with additional heavy support within it.
Van Alessian tapped the vox open to all Astartes. "All Crimson Fists and Howling Griffons with Strike Group Omega, Drop Pod support is inbound and will land momentarily in T-minus three minutes. Stand by for additional support."
Knowing fully well that the support he had just promised was under way, Van Alessian grasped his Power Sword and cleaved at another Ork as the battle continued to rage.
In orbit, where the Temperatam Laminas drifted in the dark void of space, the single remaining Crimson Fists pod received its launch orders from the secure connection between it and the warrior holding the remote needed to give the launch command. Servitors and the Chosen on the ship hurried to make the final preparations. Fresh rounds were loaded into Bolters, missiles primed and readied to fire, massive hammers and other tools of war powered and prepared to smite the enemies of the Chapter. Within a moment's notice, the preparations had been made, and the package was ready for delivery.
Whatever the conditions below, the Orks would come to feel the wrath of this new servant of the Emperor which was about to be unleashed upon them. And with that, the Drop Pod launched.
Van Alessian could have sworn he had never felt justice served more better then now. Ever since Rynn's World, the Crimson Fists had sworn vengeance against these barbarians, and indeed their fallen brothers were avenged well. Rows upon rows of Orks fell in great, bloody waves, their brutal "skill" no match for Astartes talent. With either quick bursts of Bolters and heavy weapons or well aimed strikes from combat knifes, the Space Marines cemented this moment into their Chapter's history. The Predator and the two Rhino's flanking it continued to shower the Orks in a blazing torrent of death, Auto canon and Bolter shells tearing every formation of Orks apart. The gaps of these vehicles, were well guarded by Petrova and his Devastators along with a Howling Griffon Devastator, whom Van Alessian had heard was called Brother Castodius. The veteran Griffon smited dozens of enemies with vicious hails of from his Heavy Bolter, keeping many Orks from climbing onto the Predator at the front which he stood, or from gnawing at it's treads with their chain-weapons and bombs.
Van Alessian looked skywards, and saw that their support was just on time. A Drop Pod bearing the colors of the Crimson Fists rocketed downwards, and crashed with a loud wham as it shook the ground upon its decent. It crushed any Orks unlucky enough to stand under it, and threw several more aside for the Astartes around them to butcher to death with swift slams from their boots as they crushed the skulls of the fallen Orks. Immediately, several greenskins shifted their gaze at the Pod, and began firing into the dust still dawning around it. Bullets flickered amid the Pod, and ricocheted off whatever was inside it.
And then he came. From the bullet-strewn Drop Pod, the Ironclad Dreadnought, Brother Juan Hammer-Hand emerged and waded into the battle he had so long been waiting to join. The Orks instantly noticed the massive, ancient warrior enter, and several of them turned and charged at the Dreadnought. They had little to no intention of actually destroying him, only to wreck him enough for his weapons and armor to be scavenged for their use. They would only find death waiting for them.
"Crush the xenos!" Boomed Juan, and fired his Hurricane Bolter.
The six barrels on the great weapon lit up with violent muzzle flashes and bangs of gunfire. Dozens of Orks fell, torn apart by the unavoidable torrent of six fully automatic Bolters. The massive ammo feeds fed hundreds of fresh rounds into the Hurricane Bolter, and allowed Juan to keep up a constant rate of fire. Ork body parts fell all around into mangled and cratered piles, blood and flesh exploding amid their ranks like grenade detonations, as the Orks were soon forced to climb over the corpses of their fallen kin. Not even the xenos at the back of the Ork ranks could escape Juan's wrath, as even the stray Bolter shots managed to smite a foe. Shell casings ejected from all six Bolter attached into the single, huge gun, clattering against the stone under them like rain coming down from the clouds. On his other arm, Juan held a massive Seismic Hammer, topped with an under-slung Meltagun. Although designed mainly as a building breaker, the Hammer could easily tear the Ork ranks apart, and the Meltagun could with ease scorch any who may get too close as well. And as an Ironclad Dreadnought, Juan bristled with weaponry. He had Assault Launchers and Hunter-Killer missiles mounted onto his plating, giving him a clear advantage over any foe. The Seismic Hammer struck towards the Orks, and the massive wham was followed by a great shockwave that sent several Orks flying into the air, and reduced all too close to Juan to reduced flesh and bone. Van Alessian noticed the Astartes take heart at the arrival of such a legendary warrior as Juan, and this alone seemed to inspire them to push on even further, plunging into the greenskins.
"Brother Juan!" Van Alessian yelled over the battlefield and shortly fought his way over to the Dreadnought, followed closely by Macelan. "It pleases me greatly to see that you managed to drop without intrusion from the greenskins."
Juan fired a series of shots from his Hurricane Bolter before responding. "Then lets make use of that luck and press on Brother-Captain! I will bring down the Eye of Terror if you ask me so!" He stomped both of his massive feet while speaking, as if adding to the effect. Juan had been mortally wounded during a battle with the soulless Necrons, where a volley of gauss fire had pulped his body to such a near-state of death that the Apothecaries had been ready to grant him the Emperor's Mercy, until his death had been prevented by no other then Zenithan himself. Juan was by now well over seven hundred years old.
Van Alessian laughed shortly, and drew his Storm Bolter from his belt. "These xenos will do for now, Old One." He raised his sword into the air and then leveled it down towards the Manufactorum, pointing directly at another doorway that lead into the complex. "Battle Brothers! Push to the Manufactorum, let nothing stand in your way! Brother Juan has point and will lead us to the entrance! For the Emperor!"
The Astartes responded with the same battle cry, and charged into the greenskins, firing with their Bolters on semi auto with one hand and holding their knifes in the other. A wall of a little over thirty Astartes relentlessly pressed into the Ork lines, each warrior proving far more worth then their number, as they pushed the Orks back and left in their wake a sea of dead aliens.
Juan advanced with what would have normally looked like utterly carelessness, but since he was clad within his mighty Dreadnought armor, it mattered little to him. Bullets and Bolter shots from scavenged Guard-issue Heavy Bolters were of no effect against his adamantine hide, and he in turn could easily pulp any Ork to death. With each mighty blow of his Seismic Hammer and lethal torrent from his Hurricane Bolter, Juan dispensed death across the battlefield. Van Alessian had noticed however, that the Orks had not brought any anti-vehicle weapons to bear on their armored units, even though a force like this must have had several of them at their disposal. A reasonable explanation seemed to be that the Orks were not willing to damage the Astartes vehicles, in hope they may loot them for pieces and weapons. If it was that, then it was not going in their favor.
Van Alessian fired once more with his Storm Bolter, cutting through series of greenskins, but he made sure to fire on semi auto as to not waste any ammunition. Every Ork that came within the range of his gun received two carefully placed bolts into his skull, and every Ork that came too close was cleaved in half by his Power Sword as he carved towards the Manufactorum, making sure to never let his gaze sway far from Juan. A missile from the Predator whirled over his head, and landed against the rear Ork lines with an explosion that sent a dozen Orks into the air. Van Alessian looked behind him and saw the Predator and the Rhino's pushing forward, followed closely by their Devastator escorts and screened by the Tactical marines from the infantry.
"Captain!" A voice suddenly barked through the vox. It was Chaplain Targomai. "Captain Van Alessian do you read?"
Eager to know the results of the other Strike Group, Van Alessian tapped a channel open to Tarhomai. "Chaplain Targomai, last i heard the Orks had squadrons of fighters coming your way. What is their status?"
"All aerial targets have either been neutralized or are after the Thunderhawks! Our brothers in the skies shot down a fair amount before drawing the rest after them." Targomai responded. Van Alessian noticed the slight lack of fighting in the Chaplain's background.
"And the Defense Canon? Have you already hit the bunker?" Van Alessian asked and raised his Storm Bolter to quickly gun down an Ork running towards him with a looted Chainsword. He cursed as he realized how vulnerable he was.
"Negative, we are still pushing to the objective. However we are close, and much of the greenskin force here in the trenches has been eliminated. They appear to have consolidated their troops at the mouth of the command bunker." Targomai responded.
"How can you tell?"
"Because i am standing right above the damned xenos. We are just waiting for Sergeant De Machatos and his men to arrive on the scene."
Van Alessian felt the briefest flash of annoyance at the mentioning of De Machatos. To be perfectly honest, Van Alessian had never really liked the Astartes, even if he was a Crimson Fist. "Are they being slowed down?"
"They advanced alone, and without support from the others, but they have managed to reach the near vicinity of the Canon. Thus far, i count seven dead Astartes." Targomai half-whispered as he mentioned his fallen brethren.
"They will be remembered. For now however, it is only good to know you and your Strike Group are still in one piece. Proceed as planned Chaplain, and get that Canon." Van Alessian ordered.
"It shall be so, Brother-Captain."
Targomai closed the vox after receiving the Captain's orders, and called out silently to the Astartes watching over at the Orks massing below to report their status. He would be spotting them out himself, were it not for his massive Terminator Armor. And as it was, sneaking in Astartes battle plate was usually not worth the effort even, especially for those wearing armor like Targomai.
"The greenskins have consolidated to the bunker as you suspected my Lord." The Astartes reported. "I count as many as thirty, maybe forty xenos. They have lined up machine gunners and a few flamers. And from the looks of it they also have a Heavy Bolter turret."
Targomai nodded in acknowledgement. They had massacred dozens upon dozens of Orks just getting here, very possibly even hundreds of them. Forty more would be no problem for the Crimson Fists. Targomai and his men also had the element of surprise and the advantage of high ground. Even now, they were standing crouched or half-crouched on top of the lower half of an Imperial bastion, which the Orks had first blasted in half with rockets or missiles and then crudely welded and sliced back together so it was only at half height. Even so, the place was perfect for Sergeant Midaz and his Assault Marines to launch an aerial assault on the Orks.
"Squads Ultimus, Koribas and Orthor. The assault is about to commence, status?" Targomai checked through the vox. Around him, the remaining five Astartes in Midaz's squad checked their Plasma Pistols and Chainswords, while Midaz readied his humming Power Sword.
"Ultimus is ready Chaplain. Waiting on your go." Lycor checked in.
"Orthor also ready, heavy weapons are primed and ready." Cortezia said.
"Koribas reporting in Chaplain." De Machatos said quickly, and Targomai could hear the faint thuds of Astartes armored boots landing against the ground as he spoke. Good, everyone was assembled.
Targomai checked his Storm Bolter one last time, making sure fresh shells were still loaded into the magazine. In his other hand, his blood-soaked Crozius Arcanum sparkled and cracked with energy as it hungered for more Ork flesh to tear. And soon it would have it too.
Targomai stomped to the edge of the bastion, and behind him, the Assault Marines were ready to jump into the enemy lines. But they all knew to wait for the Chaplain's shot. The Astartes on the flanks aimed, and steadily began to move away from cover and slowly into the sights of the Ork gunners. Stealth was no longer an option here, the Canon had to be taken.
"There is only the Emperor!" Targomai boomed, and caught the attention of every Ork on the battlefield as he chanted the Crimson Fists battle cry.
"He is our shield and protector!" The Astartes howled and attacked.
Bolter shots kicked up dirt and chunks of cover, and many more struck true and found an Ork skull to detonate upon. Blood spilled, bodies fell, and gunfire began to echo once again as the Crimson Fists surged forward towards the bunker firing as they went with lethal rains of Bolter fire. Ork bullets replied, along with gouges of fire from their flamers, but all was useless against the prowess of the Crimson Fists, as they either shrugged off the shots or ducked for the cover around them and returned fire.
Targomai opened up with his Storm Bolter, and fired three controlled bursts at the Orks while Midaz and his Assault Marines leaped through the air, jump packs blazing in fire and swords swinging violently at the enemy. Each burst from Targomai landed true, and killed a pair of xenos each time as the ground became soaked with Ork dead. He continued firing and firing, as did the other Crimson Fists around him, until they either had to look for more targets or switch magazines. Swiftly, and without losses to the Astartes, the Ork defense was failing misrebly, as the gunner on their Heavy Bolter turret was taken down by shot to the head by one Midaz's Assault Marines.
In the middle of the fearsome melee, Midaz and his squad carved a bloody legacy for themselves, as their hacked and sliced Orks neatly in half or striking them down with a single blunt blow from their blades or pistols. The Power Sword in Midaz's grip ignored every last piece of armor that the Ork may be wearing, cutting straight into the flesh and bone beneath it as the hot blade hungrily ate away the skin and interns of any it touched.
Targomai halted firing, and activated the personal teleporter embedded within his armor. He had done this move many times before, and the the dizzying effects of first-time use had long since died away. There was a quick zap and a burst of lighting followed by a puff of smoke as he departed from his position, and the same type of effect below, directly in the middle of the Ork lines. The few Orks that remained turned over to the Chaplain, and puzzled, thought of who to strike first: the Assault Marines, or the massive Chaplain. Targomai gave them no time to consider their move and attacked.
The Storm Bolter in his hands barked, and three of the nearest Orks were sliced in half by the shells as the middle part of their bodies exploded into a stream of blood and gore. An Ork wearing heavy plate armor crudely welded onto his skin charged, his massive weapon blazing in his hands. Targomai advanced a few paces forward, and got within striking distance with his Crozius as the bullets from the Ork's gun deflected off his armor. He struck with a brutal sweep, and crushed the weapon in the Ork's hands hands and smashed the xeno's skull, spilling out the pink brain and red blood within as the dead weight fell with a clang of armor.
"Midaz! The door, now!" Targomai barked and fired with his Storm Bolter as more Ork closed in. It seemed that some had not made it this position in time and were just arriving on scene.
"Aye my Lord!" Midaz acknowledged and strode over to the door as the Crimson Fists formed around him in a defensive line. Midaz pressed the bronze stud three times, each time the door made a beep of acknowledgement, but didn't open. It had likely been tampered by the Orks or damaged during their attack. Midaz swore, and raised his Plasma Pistol towards the door controls, hoping this would work.
He pulled down the trigger, and a blue-white bolt melted through the metal and wires of the controls, and caused the door to lag and jerk open and closed. Finally, over time, it opened fully and opened the way into the bunker. Every Astartes felt a flush of relief, that soon they would have the Canon in their hands and that this battle could soon be over. With a great deal of luck.
The Devastators lined up into firing positions across the Ork line they had just taken, gunning down any of the xenos that appeared into their sights, although they numbered now just a few mere mobs, ill equipped to deal with even a few Astartes. Lycor and De Machatos rallied to Targomai, their Tactical marines ready to follow the Chaplain and their Brother Assault Marines into the bunker. Ork were still appearing here and there, but were instead taking on the Fists from long range with machine guns or pistols, exchanging fire with the entrenched Astartes as they made a feeble attempt to retake their quickly lost position.
"Sergeant Midaz! Distance to target?" Targomai echoed as he followed the Assault squad into the bunker, followed closely by the other Astartes behind him.
"No more then forty six meters my Lord." Midaz reported.
"Very good, push forward. We need to have this bunker as soon as possible." Targomai paused for a moment and made a loud turn to the Astartes behind him. "The first Battle-Brother who makes it to the room first gets a personal commendation for bravery from me! What say you Astartes? Ready for competition?"
The Crimson Fists made a short laugh, and answered: "Aye my Lord!"
Targomai nodded in approval. This would be good for the men, a little friendly race here and there hardly could do any harm, and besides, now they would only fight with increased zeal and vigor to get to the objective faster. No one turned down a commendation from Chaplain Targomai. And as he thought so, his fellow Crimson Fists strolled down the bunker long, deserted hallways, half sprinting as they made for the commendation waiting for them.
The bunker held clear signs of fighting everywhere. The walls down this single path leading up to another double door, were caked in blood, both Ork and human alike. It had long since dried away, and Targomai could recognize crude paintings made from blood all over the place. The corpses of Orks and Guardsmen were still littered here and there, as the greenskins had not likely bothered to remove them in their eagerness to get their hands on the Canon's controls. Banners made of crude leather or flayed human skin hung from the roof, dimming the lights and signifying that this place now belonged to the Orks. Abandoned pintle-mounted guns were found along the path up to the control center, guns that the Orks had abandoned to get outside to stop the Crimson Fists. All of them were scavenged Imperial Guard-issue Heavy Bolters or Auto Canons that the Orks had modified with extended ammo feeds or larger barrels. Targomai and the other Astartes kicked all of these aside with swift kicks from armored boots that easily sent the weapons tumbling aside or crushed them under the heel of the Astartes who smashed it.
His Battle Brothers were close to the control room now. There were still no sign of any Orks. For a while, Targomai thought they would be left short of action.
But as Ork commandos uncloaked themselves from the shadows around the Fists, and leaped onto the backs of the Astartes, weapons poised to kill, he was instantly proved wrong as the slaughter began anew.
"On me brothers!" Juan boomed as his Hurricane Bolter continued to cover the Orks in a torrent of explosive shells.
Van Alessian and the other Astartes followed the lead of the Old One, still pushing through the enemy masses to the Manufactorum. But they had already gotten close, and Juan would soon be within range of his Seismic Hammer and the door could be brought down with ease. The Hammer was specifically designed to crush heavily fortified positions and bring down doorways. Even as strong a door as that built by the Mars Mechanicum wouldn't be able to resist it.
"Squad Dominor, rally around Brother Juan and make sure the Orks do not get onto his back, the Howling Griffons have taken down some hostiles carrying heavy explosive charges and i cannot have those bombs reach the Dreadnought. Displace from your current posts and rally around him." Van Alessian ordered through the vox.
"Acknowledged Captain." Pel'Sar confirmed. Moments later, Crimson Fists could already be seen moving around the battlefield towards Juan as the Dreadnought carved a gory path through the Orks.
"Captain Alexian, report status." Van Alessian called in again.
"Heavy Ork resistance along both flanks trying to get to our vehicles. They have a tactic behind this, as crude as it may sound. They seem to be covering their kin carrying explosives with large hordes so they may attach them to our armor." Alexian responded while yelling over the barks of gunfire on his end of the battle.
"Keep those bomb squads off our vehicles Brother-Captain. We will soon be within the Manufactorum as planned."
"Understood. Alexian out."
There was a sudden, machine-enforced howl, one that Juan would have never made. It was followed by loud stomps of metal feet, and the clear grinding sound of buzz saws and snaps of claws. Van Alessian looked around him, as did the other members of his Command Squad, for signs of this approaching threat that could have only been an Ork. Even the greenskins had paused to look around them, and the noise of battle dawned in a new parts around the area. And then it came: an Ork walker.
It was the most crude machination Van Alessian had ever laid his eyes on. On it's piston mounted legs that cranked and sprained with every booming step, the can-like body jerked left and right as the Ork inside attempted to align the walker. On it's left arm was a massive buzz saw, that was already dark red with dried human blood, and on the right arm was a snapping pair of claws crackling with a power field. There was a single machine gun mounted under both arms, which ammo chains had been strapped around its arms. The sound emmiters on the front of the walker echoed the laughing greenskin's voice across the battlefield as it came to a lagging halt and leveled its arms to fire the guns beneath it. Van Alessian tapped the vox open.
"Atalis Squad, can see that?" He said hastily as he ducked to avoid the first salvo of bullets that peppered the ground meter by meter, leaving trails of black holes across the ground.
"Yes, but we can't get a clear shot! Too many Orks in the way! The Predator should be in range though! Those machine guns cant do a thing against an Auto Canon!" Petrova replied. "I'll put you through to the tank commander. Stand by."
There was a moment that passed as Petrova opened a new channel to Van Alessian. "Predator here."
"Commander, there is an Ork walker that threatens to tear open our flank. I need Auto Canon rounds and a Hunter-Killer on it immediately!" Van Alessian ordered. He could already hear the walker approaching, firing as it went.
"Yes sir, we can see it. Targeting it now." The tank commander said.
The Predator's main gun began to turn right towards the walker, the large barrel menacingly tracing for something to shoot. At the same time, the Hunter-Killer missile mounted on top of the tank locked on, and fired in a puff of smoke and a familiar whistle. The missile streaked across the battlefield over the heads of the Orks, and landed squarely in the middle of the walker. A blazing explosion was followed by a cloud of smoke, as the walker jerked and its body shook from the force of the explosion. The Predator fired its Auto Canon, and explosive shells began landing with deadly effect onto the crude Ork vehicle. Smoke flew and chunks of metal were torn off the walker, taking off one hand, and blasting its left leg in half. The walker, now unbalanced and unable to hold itself together, fell to its side and cracked open, its already frail body weakened by the fusillade from the Predator. The walker collapsed with a large puff of smoke, dust and stone as it cracked open against the ground and began seeping oil.
"Target eliminated." The tank commander reported.
"Excellent work, continue to cover our brothers in their advance towards the Manufactorum, Juan will have the door opened for us soon." Van Alessian ordered.
"Yes sir." The commander acknowledged.
Many of the Orks had already been killed, the ground was so thick with their dead that it was impossible to move a single pace without coming across one of their dead bodies. There were also a few dead Astartes here and there, who had been dragged down and hacked brutally to death. Even power armor such as this had its limits. But Van Alessian attempted to pay as little attention to that as possible, thinking of his dead brethren in the middle of a firefight was something he could not afford now.
Van Alessian looked over to Juan, who could be seen more clearly now that much of Orks here had been killed. The massive Dreadnought was surrounded by a ring of seven Astartes wearing the dark blue armor of the Crimson Fists, gunning down several Orks who were making an attempt to get on the back of the Old One with explosive charges. But he saw that the ancient warrior would not be needing safeguarding for much longer, he was already within striking distance of the Manufactorum doorway.
His thoughts were interrupted by the howl of twin engines propelling aircraft across the skies, and looked up to see what was coming in. It couldn't be the Thunderhawks, their engines sounded different then this. And as Van Alessian suspected, a wing of three Ork gunships swooped in. They were all some sort of insane Ork contraptions that they had crafted together, another sign of the somewhat irritating tenacity of this race. The one in the middle had a massive skull bolted onto its front, and was bristling with weaponry from all sides, the other two craft were lighter, and had twin barreled machine guns mounted on a turret above the gunship.
Van Alessian was about to order his Astartes into cover, when he noticed the gunships were not coming in for the kill, but taking something to the top of the Manufatorum. The three greenskin ships merely swooped past the battle below them, and landed momentarily to deliver their cargo. Slightly puzzled, Van Alessian thought what might have they dropped off.
The vox crackled in his helmet. "Captain! Captain Van Alessian!" It was the voice of Lord-Captain Qhunaria.
"Qhunaria, what are doing? I told you to maintain vox silence until Targomai takes the Canon!" Van Alessian roared. He had better have a good reason for this.
"At this point it doesn't matter my Lord!" Qhunaria yelled in. "The Orks found us! Another one of their ships jumped from the warp right behind us! We suspect it was either late reinforcements or a scout of somekind!" The Lord-Captain was cut off for a moment, as an explosion sounded in the background. "We took out the ship, but now the Orks have caught our scent!"
Van Alessian swore. This had been anything but unpredictable, they had believed that all Ork ships had already arrived on the scene.
"What is your status?" Van Alessian asked.
"The Orks have two Dauntless light cruisers on an intercept course for our ship my Lord, were toying with them for now but i don't think we can keep it up when they send in more ships, or when those cruisers get within weapons range." Qhunaria replied.
"Lord-Captain, i must ask. Is this a battle that you can win?" Van Alessian asked again.
Qhunaria didn't reply for a full five seconds.
"My Lord, i don't understand, we will fight until the last man - "
"I'm not willing to waste a fine ship of the Chapter, the fleet is crippled heavily as it is. Unless Targomai gets that Canon within the next ten minutes, i am ordering you to retreat to Rynn's World t summon reinforcements." Van Alessian told him.
"But that would leave you stranded - " Qhunaria began, his voice worried carrying the tone of uncertainty.
"Yes, it would!" Van Alessian interrupted. "You have your orders Lord-Captain! Now carry them out!"
Qhunaria was silent again for a time. Van Alessian knew how he felt. He didn't wish to leave fellow servants of the Imperium to die under the hands of such a savage foe as the Orks. But an order from a Brother-Captain may as well have been an order from the Emperor himself. You could only follow it."
"Yes my Lord. We will await and see what happens." Another explosion echoed on the background of the transmission. "Qhunaria out."
The vox closed, and Van Alessian turned back to the battle at hand. Juan was already at work, hammering down the door with his Seismic Hammer and sending loud bangs across the cacophony of clattering shell casings and the constant bark of gunfire or the clash or blade against blade. The great doorway was already heavily dented, it would collapse soon enough. Even an entrance built by the Mars Mechanicum could not resist a Seismic Hammer for long. And it didn't.
In a last, great blow from Juan, the twin doors into the Manufactorum collapsed with a loud wham as they fell apart from the force of the strike. The Astartes cheered, and Van Alessian waved his Command Squad forward, now that a window of oportunity had opened itself for them. They only had one shot at this, and he was planning to take it.
Storming into the Manufactorum, and leaving the darkening skies of Cthonis behind them, the Astartes charged into the surprised Orks inside.
PART V: Titanicus
Qhunaria watched out of the bridge's view port as the two looted Dauntless light cruisers scurried towards his Strike Cruiser, weapons spitting fire. The wreckage of the Ork ship they had recently destroyed was drifting around them, absorbing some of the incoming fire. But with every piece of space rubble blown to cinders by the Orks, they lost another chance of surviving this conflict. He observed the two ships attacking his craft, and could easily make a guess of their armament: the usual Lance batteries, which the Orks had obviously kept, and several more missile pods and point defense turrets from the looks of it. Despite their heavy firepower, Qhunaria was confident he could take them out. At this range the Ork ships seemed to be hitting the Strike Cruiser very little, and all those shots were absorbed by the void shields.
Realizing that by now it was time to return fire as he awaited for the Crimson Fists to take the Defense Canon, he set about to order his crew to work.
"Lieutenant Eclipse! Take us in!" Qhunaria ordered and grasped the arm rests of his command throne.
"Aye captain!" Eclipse responded with a professional tone and ordered the servitor to bring the Strike Cruiser forward.
"Weapons control!" He barked to the crew members and servitors at the weapon station. "I want torpedoes ready to fire within the minute, but don't waste them on these ships here. Let the Bombardment Canon handle that."
"Yes sir." A crewman acknowledged and ordered the Canon prepared for firing. Below, dozens of Chosen and Servitors raced to ready the great weapon for action.
The Temperatam Laminas boosted forward, engines blazing with hot fire, as its guns began tracking the nearest Dauntless. The Orks may have had the advantage of having a single ship more, and also the advantage of additional weapons, but their skill was nothing compared to that of the crew of an Astartes Strike Cruiser. Lance shots and missiles discharged and detonated against the void shields of the Strike Cruiser, while many more went haywire or blew away the chunks of wreckage around them as the stars were filled with brilliant fireballs and streaks of light.
"Lord-Captain, Bombardment Canon has been reported loaded and ready for action!" An officer reported from somewhere to his right. He couldn't bother looking who it was now.
"Excellent." Qhunaria said in satisfaction. The Bombardment Canon's devastating magma bomb warheads could tear both of the lightly armored Dauntless cruisers apart in a single shot.
The Ork ships were getting closer too thought. For every meter the Temperatam Laminas got closer, the Ork gunners on those ships could better adjust their aim. Soon Lance and missile shots began landing more frequently, but still didn't seem to lace Qhunaria's vessel in any immediate danger.
"Bombardment Canon firing range reached. Awaiting firing command." A Servitor said from the front of the bridge.
Qhunaria walked over to the weapons control officer, he wanted to finish this personally. "Officer! Give me manual control of the Bombardment Canon! Now!" He barked, and the man in the weapons station obeyed at once and a few seconds later, he was already standing from his seat.
"She's all your Lord-Captain." The officer said formally with his hands crossed behind his back.
"Indeed she is." Qhunaria said and bent over the firing controls before him, his finger hovering over the red stud before him. He took one last look outside to the two approaching Ork ships, thinking of the rubble they soon would be reduced to. Then, with slight grin on his lips, he pressed the stud.
"Firing." The Servitor said.
The Bombardment Canon did not hesitate a single moment to carry out that command given to it. The linear-accelerator hummed and whined for a brief while as the deadly round inside prepare to fire. And then, in a swift flash of light and a quick, straight bolt across the stars, the most devastating weapon on the decks of the Temperatam Laminas unleashed its payload.
The round landed squarely on the dagger-shaped prow of the first Dauntless, cutting through the armored plating on the front of the ship and swallowing the rest in a great column of fire as the Ork cruiser fell to pieces and exploded from within in a series of brilliant explosions that ruptured every system inside the light cruiser. The Ork crew inside were sentenced to a brutal and fiery death as the Bombardment Canon cut across every piece of armor. Any protection on the ship was completely irrelevant as the looted Dauntless was torn to shreds. The Ork ships were in such close proximity, that the shockwave, along with rubble from the other destroyed Dauntless, cut into its weaker side armor and tore its entire right side open. Hundreds of Orks, both dead and dying, flew into the void of space, choking for air to breathe as their lungs gave away and the xenos suffocated painfully to death. The second Dauntless, already essentially destroyed, began to fall over to the left, explosions bursting from inside all of its decks, until the fierce chain reaction of detonations reached the engines, and the entire ship was blown into unrecognizable rubble as the engines burst into a super nova-like fireball and devoured all around it. The crew on the Temperatam Laminas covered their eyes in the brilliant light, and moments later, after the explosions had died out and the smoke had cleared, all they could see of the two looted Dauntless-class light cruisers was pieces of rubble still puffing smoke from their blackened husks as they drifted before them like silent avatars of death.
Qhunaria was silent for a moment, before turning his head slowly over to Eclipse, whose eyes were wide open in shock. He could tell this was the first time she had seen such a weapon fired. Was probably the first time of everyone else too, looking at their shocked faces and trembling hands. Qhunaria nodded in approval. If this weapon was powerful enough to incite fear in even those firing it, then how much could it be feared on the side receiving the shot...?
"Damage report." Qhunaria said with a half-whisper, as if afraid that the rest of the Ork fleet would come upon them if he spoke too loud.
"M-M-Mi-Minor damage to shields L-Lord-Captain." Eclipse reported, her hands trembling as she wiped sweat off her forehead with her jacket. "Nothing major. Were good to go."
"Good." Qhunaria said and walked over to his command throne. "Reload the Bombardment Canon and keep tracing for any activity in the Warp."
"Aye captain." Eclipse said with a salute.
"Sir," The vox officer said. "we have four minutes left until the deadline the Astartes gave to us."
"Damn it." Qhunaria cursed. He was still against that order. As much as he trusted in the abilities of the Emperor's Angels of Death, he could not just leave them stranded here for another month, maybe even two, while he scurried away back to Rynn's World for help that may or may not come in time. But it was an order from a Crimson Fists Brother-Captain. It had to be followed to the letter.
"Come on Chaplain." Qhunaria muttered to himself and rubbed his fingers against his bearded jaw in anticipation. "Get that Canon."
And so they continued to wait.
Unbeknownst to even the Astartes below, there would be no need for further worry, or for sending the Temperatam Laminas away from battle. The battle was about to turn into their favor.
Under the watchful gaze of the Crimson Fists and under their professional care, the Planetary Defense Canon had needed but the caring hands of an Astartes to turn the massive weapon back on the foes of humanity. Even the Orks, known for their fearlessness in combat and their brute nature, would remember this momentous occasion for the short time so many of them lived on after it. Perhaps even chants would be made of it in due time, perhaps it would be carved into legend itself.
Either way, as Chaplain Targomai watched from the command bunker as the Canon turned thirty degrees to its left and angled its massive barrel to the skies to fire the first shell towards the Ork fleet, he knew that this battle may yet be won without further Imperial intervention.
"Contact Lord-Captain Qhunaria and Brother-Captain Van Alessian immediately. Tell them we have the Canon." Targomai barked and watched the fireworks commence.
Qhunaria had already started tapping his right leg against the floor of the bridge, anxiously awaiting for the first shot from the Defense Canon. Other crew members were also just staring out into space at the Ork ships, awaiting for any one of them to burst into flames at any moment. The bridge was so silent you could hear a needle drop. Even the Servitors were unusually silent.
Qhunaria closed his eyes and crossed his hands in a prayer, but he could only do so for a few seconds before the entire crew burst into a cheerful cry. He jolted up from his command throne, looking around him for a few moments to see what was happening here to excite them like this. Then he remembered what he had been waiting for and followed the gaze of the rest of the bridge crew outside towards the Ork fleet.
Brilliant silver streaks were soaring through the darkness of space towards the rear of the greenskin ships, each impacting against the vulnerable engines of the scavenged vessels. Ork light cruisers began exploding in masses, and soon the starts were filled with blazing fireballs as the Defense Canon targeted ship after ship with lethally accurate shots. The Dauntless cruisers, already having been stripped down from much of their armoring to fit additional weapons on, were defenseless against the might of the Canon and were each taken out in a single shot. The Tyrant and Victory-class warships began steadily boosting away, screening the massive Emperor-class ship in their middle with a wall of Void Shields and metal. The lighter Dauntless ships were just attempting to fly in their way or hastily escape from their inevitable destruction, but some appeared to deliberately sacrifice themselves to save the larger Ork ships.
"Its the Astartes!" An officer at the auspex station cheered. "The Astartes did it! They have the Defense Canon! All praise the Crimson Fists!"
The entire bridge erupted into a united cheer, as they praised the names of the Crimson Fists 5th Company. Qhunaria could not have been more pleased. The deadline had been merely a single minute away, and he would have then been forced to withdraw from the battle. Luckily, that didn't have to happen now.
"Alright everyone, quiet down and back to your stations!" Qhunaria ordered. "The Crimson Fists have given us a chance and i will not have it wasted. Lieutenant Eclipse!" He looked to his side where the smiling officer was gazing out as the Ork fleet fell to pieces. "Plot a course towards the greenskins, i want all weapons ready and void shields at maximum power! Divert power from non-essential systems to the shielding, we will need every advantage we can get!"
"Aye Captain!" Eclipse said.
Soon the Temperatam Laminas left the safety of Cthonis's moon to face down the Ork fleet in combat. At last, its time to strike back had come.
"They took it!" Petrova yelled exited through the vox. "Targomai took the Defense Canon! Its blasting the greenskin fleet to pieces!"
Van Alessian could have not been more happy to hear that. Had they not taken the Canon when they had, Qhunaria would have likely abandoned the 5th Company here in vain. Perhaps he should have trusted the skills of his Battle Brothers and that of the Lord-Captain more.
"I confirm Brother-Captain." Targomai snapped over the vox. "We have the Canon well in hand. We have a perimeter inside and outside of this beast, and are repelling any Ork attackers with relative ease. We can handle things over here."
"Acknowledged. I will expect a full report once this battle has been concluded, Van Alessian out."
The vox snapped shut, and with that, Van Alessian turned back to the carnage at hand. The Crimson Fists and Howling Griffons had advanced into the Manufactorum, slaughtering the countless Orks they found on the way to the Titans. From what Intel they had at hand, it seemed that all six of them were stored inside a single massive chamber-like area. Undoubtedly it would be heavily guarded, but the Space Marines had already braved the dangers of this world.
Van Alessian had left the vehicles outside of the Manufactorum to keep the Orks at bay along with Juan, Petrova's Devastators and a squad of five Howling Griffons. Captain Alexian had personally recommended those men to stay behind and hold the entrance, and Van Alessian had by now learned that he could trust Alexian. There were still large hordes of greenskins trying to get at the Astartes, both survivors from their fearsome charge into the Manufactorum's courtyard and additional reinforcements arriving. Petrova had already reported Ork choppers flying in, but that they had already gunned some down from the skies. By now the yard would likely be filled with even more greenskin dead. It would take quite something to get past the Astartes defenses at the entrance.
The approx. 30 Astartes that were advancing through the massive Manufactorum crossed several signs of previous conflict inside this very place earlier. Wrecked auto-turrets dotted the roof tops, and dried Ork and human blood along with bits of destroyed machinery and weapons lay here and there. Signs with the iconic Ork cry WAAGH!!! had been painted with blood on numerous areas. Cables seeping coolant gas and sparkling with electricity also were frequently found in the area.
Nearing the location of the Titans, Van Alessian carved a bloody path for himself, Power Sword glistening with gore and Storm Bolter burning hot from extensive firing. Orks fell left and right, nothing seemed to be able to halt his approach. And nothing would either, not when he was this close. Beside him, Alexian butchered aside group after group with concentrated swings from his Power Fist, turning the massive gauntlet utterly red, and as the Griffon continued to rush forward, blood dripped from his weapon every step of the way. The veteran Sergeant known as Varatos, was not far behind his Captain either, keeping his other hand tightly on his Combat Knife and the other steadily firing with his Bolter, kicking an Ork from its feet with each precise shot taken. On the way, some Howling Griffons fell, as their numbers here were the largest of the Astartes, but for every one of them that went down, their fellow Battle Brothers gunned down dozens of more in their name. And Brother Castodius, the Howling Griffon Devastator who Van Alessian had noticed earlier during the battle, was leading the way, Heavy Bolter barking with death. Hundreds of over-sized rounds punched gory craters through Ork bodies, blood and guts spilling from the wounds like great fountains. Every Astartes, even his fellow Howling Griffons, were amazed at the skill he used the massive weapon with. Most other Devastators would have to remain stationary to inflict such carnage as he did, but Castodius seemed to be somewhat of an artist with the weapon, and piled greenskin corpses in all corners of the Manufactorum wherever the group of Astartes waded.
Van Alessian was sure to be careful of the shots he took, as he only had two magazines left for his ranged weapon. And as much as he rather enjoyed the fury of close combat, it was also here that he knew was where the Orks excelled. He fired with one hand on his Storm Bolter on semi auto, and the other tightly gripping his sword, sending a pair of bolts into the skull of every Ork who he came across, steadily piling up his kill count.
"Orks jumping from the roof tops!" Pel'Sar warned and turned his Combi-Bolter upwards and fired. A pair of Ork bodies toppled down with a blood-red stump replacing their heads.
More Orks landed, and Van Alessian turned around to meet the new Ork threat. He settled the sights of his Storm Bolter over the first Ork and pulled the trigger, feeling the comfortable recoil of the weapon as it launched the pair of bolts from the firing chamber, and landed them onto the skull of the Ork. The xeno's head burst into a mess of blood and viscera. Two Orks closed in from the fierce melee suddenly erupting inside the Astartes lines, and Van Alessian was angered to see that he had the helmet of a Howling Griffon strapped onto his belt, the head still hanging inside. The Ork instantly recognized the sight of a Space Marine and licked the side of his mouth while the other released a sadistic laugh, and then launched a powerful strike at Van Alessian. He crushed the incoming strike from the Ork with a single, focused blow, slicing the Ork blade in half and cutting the chest of the other Ork open. The greenskin howled in pain, and the second Ork leaped at Van Alessian with his bare hands held out for a choke, but the Crimson Fist finished off the xeno with a single thrust into the alien's gut. The Ork roared, and then died as Van Alessian pulled the Power Sword from the gut of the Ork and hot blood poured from the wound.
A little to the Van Alessian's left, Captain Alexian battled an Ork boss armed with a deadly Ork powered claw, its crude energy field snapping and crackling with each move made by the brutal greenskin. Alexian dodged or parried the blows from his clumsy attacker with ease, avoiding death at every step. Then, he curled his Power Fist, and launched a thunderous blow into the Orks stomach. The Fist rammed through guts with a wet wham, and interns and blood exploded from the rear of the boss as it howled in agonizing pain and fell to its back, the wound still pouring blood as Alexian continued on.
Around them, the other Astartes quickly finished dispatching the other Orks, and then continued their advance.
The Astartes continued pushing on, and crossed paths with dozens of more Orks before finally getting within viewing distance of the lift leading up to the Titans. The lift itself was quite large, easily capable of carrying the 26 Astartes present here. Four Battle Brothers stood covering the lift, weapons tracking movement across the corridor they were watching over. The others stomped onto the lift, following the lead of their Captains. When all Astartes were accounted for, Van Alessian took the few minutes at hand to gather further Intel on the battle going on.
"Van Alessian to Temperatam Laminas. Report."
"The greenskins have spotted our approach my Lord, and are turning their heavier ships to engage us. The Defense Canon though, is still picking off enemy ships. I count thus far fourteen destroyed Ork vessels." Qhunaria said.
"Understood. Have you received any answers to the distress call from Cthonis?"
"None my Lord, but we are monitoring all nearby vox transmissions, if an Imperial fleet comes this way, we will know about it. However, our ship Astropath did find something. A faint signature in the Warp, and it was moving as well. He couldn't tell in what direction, or what it was. But he was certain that something is on the move out there, and if it was another ship Astropath or psyker he picked up, as it probably was given the extent of his abilities, then Imperial help may be on the way after all." An explosion sounded on the background of Qhunaria's vox. "Damnation! The Ork heavy cruisers are firing upon us. I must depart now, i bid my Lord good luck below."
"And i bid you the same. Van Alessian out."
"You know," Alexian said from beside him. "the chance of any help coming is quite remote. Like i said, the distress call only made it so far. Your Crimson Fists may have been the only ones who picked it up in time to respond to it."
"The Emperor protects, Captain Alexian." Van Alessian responded simply.
Alexian stood still for a while, and then nodded. "The Emperor protects." He said in turn, dropping an empty magazine from his Bolt Pistol and slamming a new one home. "But as I'm sure you know, it never hurts to double check."
Van Alessian laughed, and slammed his gauntlet onto the shoulder pad of Alexian. "Yes, i suppose you are right." He said. "Captain Alexian, as short a time as i may have been serving alongside you and your Astartes, it has been a pleasure and an honor."
Alexian's eyes flashed with pride as he saw the Crimson Fist compliment him and his men as he did. "Me and my Company owe you our lives Stefanos Van Alessian." He said with a small bow. "None of us would be standing here now if you had not come when you did."
An orange alert light cut off Van Alessian from his short-lived conversation, indicating they were nearing the area where this lift was taking them.
At the front of the Astartes, facing towards where the doorway to the Titan chamber would appear, Varatos turned his head slightly over to the other Astartes.
"Twenty seconds! Prepare to breach the area!" The veteran Sergeant barked. The other Astartes, even the Crimson Fists, followed his orders. By now each of the Fists had learned that they could trust in the leadership of any servant of the Emperor here. They all cocked their weapons, checked their magazines, sharpened their Combat Knifes and checked the pins on their grenades. A few specialists readied heavy weapons, and Van Alessian saw two of his Crimson Fists prepare Plasma Guns for combat. Soon, Van Alessian thought, this might be at least half-won.
"I'll take half of our Astartes and provide covering fire. You take the other half and advance forward, it is essential that we clear this place from these xenos as soon as possible. Don't worry, we'll have your back all the way." Alexian said.
"A fine stratagem." Van Alessian complimented and nodded in approval. "Squad Dominor! You will advance with me and my Command Squad!"
"Yes my Lord." Pel'Sar nodded and cocked his Combi-Bolter.
The alert light flashed green.
The lift thumped to a sudden halt.
The twin doors before them slid open with a hiss, releasing steam as they revealed the area behind them.
"For the Emperor!"
The half a dozen Ork guarding the other side of the other side of the entrance were already facing into the path of the Astartes when they came out, but their pathetic Boar Pistols were useless against Mk.VII Aquila Power Armor, and the bullets merely ricocheted off the armor plating. The results of the Astartes weapons on the Orks however, was anything but bloody, as a pair of Bolter rounds punched them from their feet and left puddles of blood under each corpse. From their light armament and tools hanging from their belts, Van Alessian could easily tell they were some type of Ork engineers, for whatever passed for that.
"Me and my Howling Griffons will cover you! Go now, we need to clear this place out on the double!" Alexian yelled and ordered his Astartes into firing stations.
Van Alessian nodded and pointed his Power Sword towards the right, where a path was leading up to a large bridge connecting the two sides of the massive chamber. He merely nodded them forward, there was little to no need to tell them what to do at this point. Pel'Sar and two members of his squad with Plasma Guns took point, followed by the remaining four members of his squad and the Command Squad. Van Alessian took the rear to ensure everyone moved out in correct order.
But Alexian had been right. The Titans were indeed here. Before the Astartes were six Warlord-class Titans, each the size of a tall building and dwarfing any tank, ship or gun in the Imperial arsenal. The weapons mounted on their massive arms and shoulders could wipe out entire cities if need be. The first three all packed two Gatling Blasters and were mounted with Apocalypse Missile Launchers, whilst the other three were armed with Laser Blasters and Plasma Blastguns. Although these weapons were standard-issue within the Legio Titanicus, that did not excuse the fact that they were standing before some of the most devastating weapons in the entire Imperium. And to think that these six were merely the beginning or entire legion of these same monstrous beasts. Van Alessian felt a mixture of relief and worry. Relief knowing that they now could finally secure these Titans and accomplish their mission. Worry at the idea that the Ork may get their hands on them.
The entire area was filled with Orks, not surprisingly. Several, if not even half of them, were the same type of engineers they had cut down a while ago. The others were guards, same type of xenos they had faced down earlier today. Now, all of these aliens turned their attention from the Titans to the Astartes.
The engineers reached for their Boar Pistols, ushering their Gretchin slaves below their feet to grab a weapon and attack, while the other Orks raised firearms and close quarters weapons. The alarm klaxons, apparently still left operational by the Orks, sounded off, and more of the greenskins poured in, following the warning wail of the klaxons to the fight at hand. Van Alessian teared his gaze from the massive Titans and back to the Orks. Crimson Fists were already grinding their way through the xenos, Plasma Guns firing flesh-searing shot after flesh-searing shot and torching greenskins with every accurate pull of the trigger. A few Battle Brothers marched beside them, Bolters barking in their skilled hands, and keeping the greenskins off the Plasma gunners at all costs. As powerful of weapons as they were, their slower rate of fire left their users vulnerable to attack, and as such needed support from fully automatic weapons.
The Howling Griffons were also at work, exchanging fire between Ork gunners on the far side of the chamber. They weren't close enough to as much damage as they would normally do, but they certainly were close enough to do damage at least. Through calmly aimed and fired single shots, they gunned down many Orks shortly after engaging. Castodius went closer to where the Crimson Fists were advancing, where he stood in place firing with his Heavy Bolter, raining shells in controlled bursts that took down entire mobs. The expert hands of the Howling Griffon along with his masterful aim and centuries of experience, brought a bloody death to many an Ork. But all of the Astartes would have to be careful of the way they used up their ammo. Each firefight was knocking down their amount of magazines, that would be vital in winning this. To rely on close combat to win against the Orks would be like letting them win.
"Van Alessian, its Alexian! We have an incoming vox!"
"From who? One of our forces?"
"Aye, that it is, but one you have never met before. I am patching you through to him now."
Van Alessian nodded to Starax to cover him for a while as he ducked down behind a augur station that had been wrecked in a firefight. "This is Captain Stefanos Van Alessian of the Crimson Fists 5th Company of Space Marines. Identify yourself!" van Alessian ordered.
"My Lord! Thank the Emperor you have arrived!" It was not anyone Van Alessian knew, that was for sure. "This is Princeps Jeriah of the Titan Preliator. The Orks have been trying to cut their way into the Titans here, but we've managed to seal off these beasts. We have been out of contact with any Imperial forces for two to three days, what is going on out there?"
"The remainder of the Howling Griffons are here, and so is a part of my Company. We will secure the area around here and press on to purge the rest of the Manufactorum from any Ork forces so you may lead the rest of the Titans outside to deal with the greenskins. We have control of the Planetary Defense Canon, so we don't need to fear intervention from the Ork fleet. We need a way to lower the bridge though to let you out first." Van Alessian replied to the man who had revealed himself as Princeps Jeriah.
"Of course my Lord. There is a control station not far from where you are now that you can use to lower the bridge and let us pass. I would strongly recommend killing these xeno bastards before you do so however, if wish to be utterly certain that none of their saboteurs make it onto my Titans." Jeriah said.
"Understood Princeps. Stand by, we will have you and your Titans out of here shortly."
"I eagerly await for that moment my Lord. Jeriah out."
Van Alessian looked up at the battle going on. His Crimson Fists had slain many an Ork already, and seemed to be making good riddance of them. Not a single greenskin was even managing to lay a finger on the Astartes. Van Alessian had partially hoped that the Warboss would be here himself, but since there was no sign of the monster he had to only assume he was still some place else. He raised to his feet, sheathed his Power Sword, and grasped his Storm Bolter with two hands and made quickly sure that it was on semi automatic before firing. He left his vox open in case any further transmissions came through.
Van Alessian fired a few shots, taking down a pair of Orks charging at the Fists with crude axes, and then switched targets, gunned them down, switched targets again, and gunned them down also until he was locked into a killing frenzy that could not be halted.
He killed, killed and killed as if on auto-pilot.
And when the news he had been waiting for so long at last came, he still continued pulling the trigger, even as his mind relished at the words Lord-Captain Qhunaria spoke into an open vox to all Imperial forces across Cthonis:
"To all Imperial forces! We have confirmed sighting of ten warships, i say again, ten warships! They are not Orks! Their Imperial!" The man was so filled with joy it was impossible to not notice. "Reinforcements have arrived!"
Qhunaria was so filled with joy he could not contain it, but instead went to his knees and laughed, crossing his hands in a prayer to the Emperor as he saw ten Imperial ships appear from the Warp. They were not Navy ships either, but Astartes ones too, although he didn't recognize the Chapter symbol from this far. And they had arrived at a perfect time. The Void Shields of the Temperatam Laminas couldn't have withstood another barrage from the Ork capital ship and its escorts. Even after the Defense Canon had laid waste to over half of the fleet by itself, there were still a dozen Ork ships left, including the capital ship, three Tyrant-class and a single Victory-class warship along with several more scavenged Dauntless-class ships. Qhunaria's ship had taken out another Dauntless when charging in, its pathetic armor and low shielding easily penetrated by a volley of Torpedoes.
The Astartes fleet that had dropped out of the Warp was advancing towards the Ork fleet, the dagger-shaped prows and hulking weaponry telling of a swift death to come. At the forefront of their lines was a massive Battle Barge, the largest ship in any Space Marine fleet, flanked by five Strike Cruisers and another four Cobra Destroyers. Those ships alone could have perhaps decimated or at least severely crippled the Ork fleet back when it was at full strength. But now caught between the Defense Canon, the Temperatam Laminas and the newly arrived Ork ships, it seemed their deaths were certain.
"Lord-Captain! Incoming vox from the Astartes ships!" The vox officer said.
"Patch them through." Qhunaria said and instantly got up to his feet and straightened his uniform, as if the Astartes were here in person. But whether he was talking to one over the vox or directly addressing one, he wanted to look good when speaking to one of the Emperor's finest.
There was a brief two second delay before a low voice boomed over the vox. "This is Captain Achilean of the Carcharodons 4th Company. To whom am i speaking? Answer me!"
Qhunaria suddenly felt a jolt course through his spine. This was anything but the gentle reinforcements he had expected. The Carcharodons were known for brutality and skill in close assaults, and for being somewhat unwanted participants during the tragic Badab War. They had carved themselves a bloody legend, completely opposite to that of the noble and heroic Crimson Fists that Qhunaria served.
"This is Lord-Captain Estabo Qhunaria of the Crimson Fists Strike Cruiser Temperatam Laminas my Lord. We are all eager to see the arrival of additional reinforcements, we are in dire need of them."
The grim Astartes who called himself Achilean merely grunted in response. "We picked up the distress call almost a week ago. We have been racing here top speed ever since. Now give me a full status report Lord-Captain before i wipe out these pathetic xenos."
Qhunaria told Achilean of what had happened. Of the retaking of the Defense Canon, the sabotage campaign of Myron and his Scouts, and of the heroic charge into the Manufactorum by Captain Van Alessian and his Howling Griffon allies. He made sure to mention the Warlord-class Titans as often as seemed appropriate. When dealing with such a ruthless and brutal Chapter such as the Carcharodons, he wanted to make sure that the overall objective was clear. The Astartes seemed to listen closely though, even if Qhunaria could not see his face and expressions to be certain of it. There were no interruptions, no questions asked, just the situation at hand.
"Very well." Achilean said after Qhunaria finished his discussion. "I will personally lead the relief forces to the Manufactorum, tell your Captain we will have the place locked down and repainted red in Ork blood in no time. Now, tell your crew to focus fire on the closes Ork ship in their sights and lets get done with this space battle."
As Qhunaria suspected, the Carcharodons were impatient to get into the fight below. Space combat was simply not suited for them. Qhunaria knew he would never understand the way any Astartes thought, they were so above any normal human being that it was impossible for anyone to read them. But he could at least understand their willingness to get into the fight.
"Yes my Lord, i will inform him right away. Good hunting, the Emperor protects." Qhunaria said and shut down the vox.
"Now lets get this over with."
"Carcharodons you say?" Van Alessian asked.
"Yes my Lord. One Captain Achilean said he would be coming down to the Manufactorum himself to relief your forces. Their fleet is battling the Ork ships as we speak." Qhunaria said.
Van Alessian was relieved, or course. Merely a day after he and his 5th Company had arrived, more Astartes had entered the fray, and soon it seemed they would have the Titans out in the field and the Ork ships destroyed for good. But the Carcharodons were known for their brutality. This would be anything but pretty.
"When will the Carcharodons be here?" Van Alessian asked.
"Within moments my Lord, some of their Drop Pods left a few seconds after i gave him a status report. They will be dropping directly on top of the Manufactorum and continue to push on from there."
"Understood Lord-Captain. Join the Carcharodons fleet in taking the orbit of Cthonis. Then we will continue mopping up the Orks down here."
"Yes my Lord. Qhunaria out."
The Crimson Fists were near the controls to the bridge now, only a handful of Orks remained in their path any longer. The Fists had left in their wake scores of dead xenos, many of their corpses missing entire parts of their bodies or cut in half by Van Alessian's Power Sword. Every Astartes had his boots and shin guards soaked in blood so deeply that their legs looked more like bloody columns then pieces of Power Armor. Van Alessian was pleased to see that not a single one of his Battle Brothers had fallen, and neither had any more Howling Griffons either. Some had been wounded, but these mere but minor bleeding wounds that Crastus easily attended to in a few moments. Brother Aralis had never released his grip from the Company standard either, bludgeoning aside Orks with its tough oak wood pole and then blasting them with his offhand Plasma Pistol. Most armies may underestimate the banner bearer as a mere symbol of a Company's pride, but among the Astartes, it was a privilege to bear the standard of any Company given only to those most deserving, and Aralis had proven to be that warrior time and time again.
Dozens upon dozens of Orks had already fallen in the ferocious charge of the Crimson Fists and the deadly wave of Bolter fire from the Howling Griffons. Van Alessian himself was proving to be an army of one, striking a killing blow with every swing from his Power Sword and every shot from his Storm Bolter. He knew that he had to prove himself to more then his Chapter and the Emperor, he had to prove himself to his men, so they would know they were worthy of his leadership. Van Alessian struck down so many grenskins he was almost now completely repainted in blood red, the former glittering gold and blue of his Artificer Armor replaced by a deep crimson red.
The Fists finished clearing up the few Ork engineers and Gretchin slaves that remained around the control panel, dispatched easily with a few thrusts from Combat Knifes or hard strikes from the butts of their Bolters. Forming around in a defensive crest, the Fists covered Zenithan as the seasoned Techmarine lowered his scoped Bolter to his belt and began pulling back bronze levers and pressing studs with a precision only known to those trained in the art of machinery like Astartes Techmarines. Van Alessian looked over to the bridge, and saw a mob of several Orks charging across it, oblivious to the fact they were right at the mercy of the Astartes. Zenithan would have to just press a single button and the bridge would collapse into two halves and send the Orks toppling down to the ground to their deaths.
"Captain, i can lower the bridge any minute now." Zenithan said. "I suspect now would be a good time to do so?"
"Negative Techmarine." Van Alessian denied. "We need to make sure no Ork makes it onto those Titans. I don't care how insignificant the threat seems, we are clearing this place out of all hostiles."
The other Crimson Fists didn't reply in any way to that order, just kept their weapons aimed at the Orks charging across the bridge. The Howling Griffons were firing a few snapshots at them, taking down some in a violent burst of blood and gore as they sent headless bodies falling down to chasm below.
"Yes sir. What are your orders then?" Zenithan asked. Van Alessian sighed in relief. For a moment he was worried that his men might protest against his order. He even doubted it a little. But no chances were to be taken.
"Sergeant Pel'Sar. Take Brothers Hectur and Thaldor and protect Zenithan at all costs. The moment we are mostly clear of Orks here i want that bridge lowered." He ordered.
"Yes sir." All three Battle Brothers acknowledged. Hectur and Thaldor were the ones using the Plasma Guns. They would be adept at defending this place now that much of the greenskins had been cleared out.
"Macelan, take two more Battle Brothers and finish clearing this side of the chamber, then double time back here to make sure no one gets near Zenithan."
Macelan merely nodded, and waved two of the closest Astartes over to his side. The veteran Company Champion was still as stoic as he had been since this all started.
"The rest of you, your with me." Van Alessian told the remaining Crimson Fists. Crastus, Starax, Aralis and the other two Astartes from Dominor Squad slammed their fists to their chestplates in a salute and nodded in acknowledgement.
Suddenly, there were a series of loud thumps against the roof, followed by faint echoes of gunfire and swift explosions from grenades most likely. The sound was quite faint, but it was there alright.
Van Alessian looked back at the charging Orks. They were getting close now, some were already firing with their shorter ranged pistols. But the bridge was only wide enough to allow two greenskins to pass, and they were clumsy fighters as they were. Taking them out would be relatively trivial. But Van Alessian had no intention of shooting them down. He set his Storm Bolter to his belt, grasped his Power Sword with two hands, blood still pouring down from the blade, and let out a mighty battle cry and charged against the Orks with his sword held high over his head. The other Crimson Fists followed, watching his back and taking shots at the Orks on the other side of the chamber. The Howling Griffons noticed Van Alessian crossing the bridge, and turned their aim away from there, back to the Orks on the far side of the chamber.
"On me Astartes!" Van Alessian bellowed.
He cut across the first pair of Orks, taking off their heads in a shower of blood and sent the two bodies toppling down, releasing streams of blood as they fell. He struck a second blow, cutting the Orks who came in half and blinding the other tw behind them with the blood of their savage kin. He pushed aside the other half of an Ork body and drove his Power Sword through the gut of another greenskin, the powered blade melting away flesh and clothing with ease. He had rammed into the Orks so hard, and so fast, that the one to his left lost his balance and fell with a howl of fear as he fell to his inevitable doom. Van Alessian pulled his sword out of the greenskin with burst of gore, made a skilled twirl around and brought the blade upon another Ork, cutting low across their wastes. The first Ork fell neatly in half, guts and liver spilling from the massive wound in a fountain of hot blood, the second had his left leg cut off, and fell to his face in a cry of anger as he reached for his weapon in vain. The armored boot of Crastus came down on his skull and crushed it into pieces, spraying blood and viscera to the bridge.
Van Alessian continued hacking and slicing as he relentlessly pushed on, killing Orks with every blow and sending great rivers of blood streaming down the bridge, much of it dripping down like a waterfall, followed quickly by Ork body parts as the xenos were cut into shreds by brutal swings from a Power Sword.
The dead lay all around.
There was no escape.
Nothing could halt the massive Captain butchering his way through his foes.
PART VI: Terminus
Van Alessian and the small Crimson Fists strike force with him soon made it over to the other side of the chamber, leaving the entire bridge filled with Ork dead brutally, yet efficiently, torn to pieces mostly by Van Alessian himself as he had cut a bloody path through the greenskins. And his frenzy was not about to end.
Three Orks with chainswords of their own making closed in on him, weapons eagerly roaring for flesh to tear apart. Van Alessian brought his sword down on the first in a controlled swing, cutting a wound across his entire torso and sending him howling to the ground. The second one was already bringing his own blade to bear, but Van Alessian instantly brought up his own to block it and responded in turn with a brutal kick to the Orks knee, shattering it and bending the alien's leg. The third Ork leaped up to strike down the Astartes Captain, but was easily cut down in a single thrust to its gut. Van Alessian threw his newly killed Ork over his shoulder and slid the body from his death-hungry blade, and brought the weapon to bear on the Ork he had kicked in the knee, the tip of his sword cutting into the creature's temple and burning through into its brain.
The Astartes that followed him quickly cleared an opening, and continued gunning down every xeno their sights caught between them. But Van Alessian saw thay they were critically low on ammo already. Starax and another Astartes had been forced to switch to their Bolt Pistols already, their Bolters wasted from shells after relentlessly having killed so many greenskins. And yet, even with their sidearms, the Fists proved to be far more worth then their number, making every shot a kill, just as it should be. Van Alessian bludgeoned another Ork engineer trying to beat at him with a blazing plasma drill, and looked down at his own ammo. He still had one full magazine for his Storm Bolter, and a pair of fragmentation grenades. And as much as he did value his trusty Power Sword for its infinite supply of killing blows, he didn't wish to rely on it. Melee was where the Orks were most skilled, even if it was not very apparent against his skills as a Brother-Captain.
"Frag grenades Astartes!" Van Alessian said and pulled one of the grenades from his belt.
The other Crimson Fists followed his orders, and each grabbed a grenade into their armored hands and pulled ff the pins with a familiar ping as the small metal piece snapped away and started a deadly countdown as the explosives within prepared to shred the incoming Orks to pulped flesh. An Astartes quickly kicked an Ork that got too close in its stomach, and leveled his Bolt Pistol to its skull, pulled the trigger, and sprayed the Orks skull to the metal floor. Then, in unison with the rest of the Fists, he tossed the frag grenade in his hands.
Van Alessian had already chosen a target for his grenade. A stock of Ork explosives, likely to be used to somehow sabotage or cripple the Titans. Such small charges wouldn't have even dented the massive walker, getting rid of them was more of a kindness to the Orks. But an even greater pleasure for the Crimson Fists. Explosions from other grenades went off, throwing aside dozens of Orks as shrapnel tore through their light armor and ripped apart their flesh. The ones standing right below the grenades were blown apart so they couldn't even be seen any longer. Ork body parts landed here and there, followed by full sized, yet severely blooded dead xenos. This was followed by concentrated single shots from Bolters and Bolt Pistols from the Astartes that swept aside any who may have survived the volley of grenades. Van Alessian's grenade was even more destructive, landing merely a foot away from where he had intended, it was enough to set off the charges in the explosives cache and cause a massive detonation. The explosion shook the entire bridge, causing some Orks still alive to lose balance and fall to their backs. The massive fireball incinerated any Orks too close, and killed numerous more, sending torn and shredded corpses flying in all directions. Blood or gore had no time to show, as the massive explosion drowned all else. Van Alessian remarked himself for his nice throw, and looked to see the results as the smoke cleared away.
Dozens had been killed, and a crater had been torn into the ground where the cache had been only a moment ago, smoke puffed in great columns all around, and the bodies that were left were barely recognizable any longer in their deformed and bloodied state. The Astartes around him, and those on the other side of the chasm cheered, and a few even clapped their hands to the destruction caused by Van Alessian.
"Captain Van Alessian! You have Orks closing on your position!" Princeps Jeriah warned.
Van Alessian nodded to the Astartes behind him. "Brothers, form a firing line, Orks are still here to be taken care of!"
The Crimson Fists immediately formed up, and opened fire on the Orks charging through the smoke, cutting down the front row, and more after that as Orks advanced over their fallen kin. Many fell for every foot of ground they passed, but they were still getting closer, just as they wanted to. Luckily, the Fists may have enough ammo to hold them back before they got tangled into a melee, one that, in their out numbered state, might even cause casualties.
"Princeps Jeriah! I need an entrance out of this chamber now!" Van Alessian yelled into the vox and ducked to both knees to fire his Storm Bolter.
"There is an operational door merely twenty meters away from your current position my Lord. With that, you should be able to gain access to the rest of the Manufactorum." Jeriah replied.
"Keep this channel open Princeps, and make sure your weapons and shields are primed and ready. Your Titans will be entering battle momentarily."
"As you say my Lord. We will run a quick weapons check. I will remain here should you need any further advice."
Van Alessian had a plan alright. Get to the door, fight up to the Manufactorum rooftop, and link up with the Carcharodons assaulting this place. With their intervention, Van Alessian was sure they could finally secure the Titans for good. As skilled and deadly as his men and the Howling Griffons were, they were too few to indefinably hold the entire Manufactorum. And besides, he always wanted to see for himself who was coming in to help him.
Starax stepped forward from the firing line. "I will come with you Captain. Someone has to cover you on the way."
"That's a negative Starax," Van Alessian said. "I need every Astartes down here defending the Titans, they are more important then any of us here. The rest of our forces are caught up defending their own objectives, and cannot divert to here until they are secured. I need to ensure the Carcharodons make it here personnaly, and that they know where they may be needed the most."
Van Alessian walked over to Starax and set his hand on the Battle Brother's shoulder. "I will be fine Starax. Keep in line and don't follow me. Remember what we came for." He continued, nodding towards the Titans.
Starax hesitated for a moment, exchanging glances between his Captain and the Titans. Until he finally made up his mind. "Yes sir."
"Good." Van Alessian said and opened a vox to Captain Alexian. "Alexian, i am departing from here to meet up with the Carcharodons. I am giving you tactical command of my Astartes until i return."
"Understood Van Alessian. Don't worry, I'll take good care of them." Alexian replied.
"You better. Emperor be with you, brother."
"The same to you, Captain. May the Primarch's spirit watch over you."
Van Alessian soon after that departed, and carved his way shortly over to the doorway, covered by his Crimson Fists. Soon, the sounds of battle began to slowly die away as Van Alessian went deeper and deeper into the Manufactorum.
Captain Tyrias Achilean looked over the slaughter before him, relishing at every point when he could unleash a savage blow from his twin Lighting Claws embedded into the massive gauntlets in his Terminator Armor. At his side, two five man Terminator assault squads were mowing down mobs of Orks at a time with every swing of their great Thunder Hammers, and using their nigh-impenetrable Storm Shields to guard them from the counter-blows that the orks made against them. The Carcharodons 4th Company had landed in force on Cthonis at last, spreading death and destruction everywhere they went. They had landed with the force of a mailed fist, and had already slaughtered uncounted numbers of the greenskins. Half of his Company was here with him, whilst the other parts were scattered across Cthonis reinforcing the Crimson Fists.
All of his Astartes wore perfectly preserved and masterfully upgraded suits of Mk.V Heresy Power Armor, following the Carcharodon's known trait for using old fashioned armor and weaponry. Each of his Terminators wore the same suit of ancient armor as he did, showing extensive signs of modification to keep them in working order. Most Chapters would use the newer Mk.VII Aquila and Mk.VIII Errant armors, but the Carcharodons needed not to rely on the same supply of more advanced hardware as they might have to. Their armories were filled with ancient suits of Mk.V, and even Mk.IV or VI Power Armor, along with weapons dating back to several centuries, even millennia. And his 4th Company was no exception, wading into glorious conflict with their studded, grey Power Armor, they were as efficient and deadly as any Astates, even more deadly, as he often liked to think.
Numerous Orks had been killed upon the Carcharodons Planetfall, and several more remained, and were still coming. His Astartes responded to their animal-like howls and undisciplined volleys of gunfire and sloppy blows with murderously efficient volleys of Bolter fire and brutal blows from Chainswords and Thunder Hammers. And yet, even as they slaughtered them time and time again, the Orks still carried on, not caring how many would fall to get even a single kill.
Good, Achilean thought to himself, just means more fresh corpses. A sadistic grin came to his lips as he said so in his mind.
"Butcher them brothers!" Achilean roared, his voice booming like thunder through his helmet as he struck down with his Claws.
Orks fell before him, literally torn into ribbons as he savagely clawed at them. He struck blow after murderous blow, cutting down Orks every step of the way, releasing streams of blood and gore everywhere. There were so many dead, that it seemed that the very Manufactorum could be painted with the blood of the fallen. Even in his massive Terminator Armor, Achilean was moving far faster then any normal fighting man would have in battle, the lethal speed of his Claws unmatched across the battlefield, he decimated the Ork ranks single-handed almost, even when his Assault Terminators followed in his wake, spreading even more carnage as their Thunder Hammers sent Orks soaring through the air or crushing them into mangled and bloodied piles of broken bone and flesh. The Carcharodons cut down row after row of Orks as if this was but mere sport for them, with no dangers of death or injuries involved, only the imminent pleasure of this "game".
"Pathetic xenos!" Achilean roared, slicing Orks in half as he charged through them. "Is this all your race has to offer!? You fight like children! Children!"
Achilean felt a jolt of satisfaction course through him as he yelled those insults at the Orks, and soon his battle cries changed to a sadistic laugh only made by those who would enjoy killing as much as he would. He swung his dual set of weapons left and right, killing Orks like cattle. Every blow he made took the life an Ork, and every blow that was aimed at him merely deflected off his Terminator Armor. In this ancient set of battle plate, he was essentially a walking tank.
"Rooftop lift sighted!" An Astartes yelled. It was his second-in command, Veteran Sergeant Hypathos "The Ancient". The Terminator sergeant was five and a half centuries old, and had thus earned his nickname like that. He served at Achilean's side in every battle, along with his famed and trusty squad of Assault Terminators known simply as the "Murder Elite" for their brutal and effective methods at dealing with every threat encountered: crushing blows from Thunder Hammers.
"I see it! Hypathos, your with me! Advance towards the lift! Sergeant Myrtas, watch our backs and follow us in once we get inside! The rest of you, deploy covering fire!" Achilean ordered, and began to stomp menacingly towards the lift, Lighting Claws crackling and sparking with energy.
His two Terminator squads began converging on the lift as well, smashing aside Orks with their Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields as they carved a deathly path to their objective. At their rear, three Tactical Squads deployed a chattering hail of Bolter fire into any orks they could risk firing on without hitting their Terminator brethren. Some of the heavy weapons specialists had relinquished their usual clumsy heavy guns to more compact weapons such as Bolters or Plasma Guns, but on most parts they had equipped the common and fiery flamethrower. These were now used to deadly effect, as two cones of burning Promethium scorched several Orks and sent them panicking, and on fire, running in uncontrolled circles or twisting on the ground, trying to get the flames out. But after a burst of Promethium had seared your flesh, there was no turning away from it. You were as good as dead. The slaughter commenced by the Carcharodons was so brutal, that it would have been utterly incomprehensible for any other human being looking at it. And yet, every move they made was part of a plan put in motion a thousand times before, as if every foe slain had some type of purpose to play in this battle.
Achilean laughed, and swung his right Claw outwards, taking off the heads of two Orks with the deadly strike. He laughed, laughed and laughed as he continued killing all that stood before him.
"No time to waste brothers! Lets get on that lift and haul our fellow Astartes out of their own problems shall we!?" He bellowed.
And as one, the Carcharodons slammed into the Orks and another round of carnage began.
Van Alessian sprinted along the dimmed corridors of the Manufactorum, the red alarm lights flashing at every corner of his eyes. He would have normally perhaps been more caucious the just running down open hallways, not on guard and fairly vulnerable to enemy fire. But there were surprisingly few Orks in this area as he discovered going through the Manufactorum. He merely encountered a handful of guards and Gretchin slaves, each of which he took care of more lethal swings from his Power Sword. The Orks had cut power to this part of the Manufactorum somehow, probably either by deliberate sabotage or some kind of incident. Either one would be little to no surprise to him, knowing how brutal these xenos were.
He could still hear gunfire from behind and above him, but the sounds were getting louder as he advanced forward, which meant the Carcharodons could not be too far away. He didn't like leaving his men behind as he did, especially under the command of an Astartes from another Chapter. But Van Alessian had learned that he could count on Alexian and his Howling Griffons to back his Crimson Fists up no matter the place or time. That was a feeling he got rarely enough to be surprised about it.
Van Alessian continued moving forward, following the sounds of gunfire and faint roars of Chainswords as he moved forward. The Carcharodons were certainly making themselves known to Cthonis, as Van Alessian had suspected. He continued his sprint through the Manufactorum until he came upon a patrol of Orks on the way.
The greenskins roared a savage battle cry, and together the four of them charged Van Alessian. He noticed the Ork at the front had a spiked metal pole on his back that had at least half a dozen human heads brutally stacked up in a pile. Topping the pile was the helmeted head of a Howling Griffon. Van Alessian cursed and swung his Power Sword downwards and took off the head of the leading Ork as the deadly blade felled the greenskin's head neatly off its shoulders. This was but another sign of how much the Howling Griffons had suffered here on Cthonis, and Van Alessian couldn't help but feel sorry for them after his Chapter had been through so much death and destruction merely a decade ago.
The headless Ork corpse toppled to the ground with a wet thud, and the next Ork leaped over the body of his dead kin, and met the tip of a Power Sword head on, the sharp blade going straight through the Ork's mouth and emerging from the back of his skull with a burst of pink viscera and bits of bone. Van Alessian pulled the blade from the Ork, pummeled aside another with his fist, and kicked the fourth in the chest, mangling and twisting the flesh under its chest as it fell to the floor with a loud wham. The Ork next to him that he had punched attempted to raise to its feet, but Van Alessian interrupted him with a ruthless swing from his Power Sword. The Ork he had kicked was quietly raging at the Astartes Captain, but couldn't let out even the faintest cry after Van Alessian had kicked the air from his lungs. He stomped over to the Ork, lifted his boot over its skull, and slammed downwards. His boot slammed with murderous force onto the Ork's skull, cracking it from some parts, but not killing the beast outright. Orks were still tough, even when they were crippled like this. Van Alessian kicked again, and on the third, he could finally feel the tough skin and bone of the Ork give away, and see blood and gore wash over his leg plating. Remarking his rather brutal kill, Van Alessian stepped away from the corpses of the Orks he had just killed, and continued advancing onward.
"Carcharodons, this is Captain Stefanos Van Alessian of the Crimson Fists 5th Company. Do you read me?" Van Alessian said through the vox.
"This is Captain Achilean, Carcharodons 4th Company. Captain Van Alessian, you must have caused quite a stir here, i am disappointed to find merely a few Orks along my way in this Manufactorum." A hard-voiced Astartes replied with a tone that brought with it the promise of a swift death if you spoke wrongly to him.
"Yes, i certainly hope it was we who caused the Orks to scurry away from this part of the Manufactorum, but i have no time to debate over that." Van Alessian came across a cross section and halted to consider which way he should go. The sound of the fighting was neither louder or quieter on both ways. "Captain, i need your Astartes to divert to the Titan chamber. My men and the remaining Howling Griffons are holding out there and will meet you when you arrive. Otherwise, i require a squad to help me purge this side of the Manufactorum."
There were a few moments of fainter talk as Achilean ordered his Astartes around him to advance. "I can't promise you anything Captain, but i will see who is closest to you. What is you current position?"
"I am standing in between a cross section in the near vicinity of the rooftop. I can easily hear much of the fighting going on from this place." Van Alessian looked around for more clues to give to the Carcharodons. "But other then that, i can't direct you any further. But there is an ammunition depot not far from where i am standing that the Techpriests were using to house experimental weapons and so forth. I dug this up from the schematics of the Manufactorum before we made Planetfall. It is on the eastern side of the complex."
"I have one Sergeant Melcor and his Tactical squad in that part of the complex. They can meet you there, they got to stumble on you at some point." Achilean replied.
"Very good. I will proceed towards the depot to meet this Sergeant Melcor. Van Alessian out."
After he quickly decided to continue to the right, Van Alessian was once again on the move. He passed on the way many signs of battle, including several dead Orks and Guardsmen who had been assigned to the Manufactorum. Clearly the power outage here was insignificant enough for even the Orks to leave behind their dead, instead of taking them as crude meals or chopping off their heads as trophies. Wrecked servo-turrets were also here and there, their formerly menacing look of twin Heavy Bolters now replaced by a dull blackened husk, peppered with dozens of bullet holes. Yet, the Orks had felt it somehow necessary to "mark" this territory as theirs, and Van Alessian crossed several quickly hung banners of the Bad Moons clan, as many as possible of which he tore down and hacked in two with his Power Sword. If the Imperium was to reclaim this place, it would be without any of these xeno markings staining its walls.
Gretchin slaves and a few Ork engineers or guards were still found here and there, although Van Alessian noticed that the small slave creatures made up the majority of the Orks in the area. Not surprising perhaps, to assign the least important troops to the least important part of this entire building. He cared little though at this point how this Ork Warboss had placed his troops around. All that mattered, was that they were xenos, and that they were in his way. And any Ork that came in his way, was as good as dead.
He passed several other areas on his way to the ammo depot that had once shined with the glory of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and that had been polluted by the Orks. Augur stations and weapons control panels were all torn apart for pieces to additional Ork machinations, or held signs of tampering on them that the Orks had later crudely covered up with more clan markings or trophies taken off the corpses of Imperial soldiers or Techpriests. Van Alessian was loathed to tear all of this down, but he had to focus on his objective. He was a Crimson Fist, and Crimson Fists were legendary for their ability to carry on the fight no matter the cost and still survive to tell the tale. He intended to uphold that legacy, and continued his advance, Power Sword held before him in a tight grasp and lighting up the path before him.
"Emperor guide me..." Van Alessian began to mutter to himself as he continued navigating through the Manufactorum.
And then he heard a blast of energy, a cry of pain, a shower of hot blood, and a dull thump against the floor. There was no mistake that an Ork had just been shot behind him.
Van Alessian turned around, sword held before him and pointing the tip towards whatever had just shot that Ork. Until he noticed the shooter was wearing the dark blue armor of a Crimson Fist Astartes. The Battle Brother marched forward, venting out the heat of his Plasma Gun with a hissing sound and a puff of smoke as the powerful weapon cooled down. The Astartes stopped over the Ork he had just killed and looked down at it.
"Sneaky bastards aren't they these commando's?" The Astartes said and kicked the dead Ork aside. "Wouldn't think he just jumped off that rooftop without you hearing it Brother-Captain. No offense intended my Lord."
Van Alessian didn't care about any of that. He was merely shocked to see his own men had disobeyed his direct orders.
"What are you doing here?" Van Alessian asked. "You should be back at the Titan chamber with Zenithan."
"The Carcharodons helped our forces secure the Manufactorum's entrance, and the Howling Griffons were able to get fully together. They can hold the chamber as it is now. Sergeant Pel'Sar and Captain Alexian thought you might need a hand." The Astartes replied.
Van Alessian sighed. He had not asked for this help, but then again the company of a fellow Crimson Fist would be preferable to that of another Astartes from another Chapter perhaps.
"Very well then. It's Brother Thaldur isn't it?" Van Alessian said. The Astartes was quite easily recognizable from the Crimson Fists insignia in place of the winged golden skull on his chestplate.
"Yes my Lord. I am honored to serve." The Astartes said with a small bow.
"The lets get moving Thaldur. The Carcharodons will be meeting us at an ammo depot not far from here. We can discuss our strategy there. How many flasks do you have left there?"
"This and six more my Lord. Hectur have me one of his before i departed."
"Very good. That should do for now. There will be additional flasks and pistol ammo for you once we get to the depot. Fill up there on ammo and supplies before we continue to move."
"Yes my Lord. I will follow your lead."
Achilean and the Murder Elite continued their deadly march through the Manufactorum, their Terminator Armor preventing them from moving any more then one Astartes at a time down the halls they walked upon. Achilean was of course the first, his blood soaked armor and Lighting Claws eager to coat themselves in even more greenskin gore. Any normal human soldier may have had enough of killing for the day after the slaughter the Carcharodons had just commenced, but for Achilean and his Astartes, this was sport. This was, a game for them, of a sort.
He had left a squad up at the rooftop to make sure that no Ork gunships brought down reinforcements without him knowing of it first, whilst the rest of his men were spread throughout the Manufactorum, hunting down Orks.
He had encountered merely a handful of Orks on the way. Apparently they had somehow lost power to this part of the Manufactorum, and had deemed it useless for their operations. The fools, Achilean thought, only serves to get me to you with a higher certainty of being alive. He grinned at the thought of that idea.
"Sergeant Hypathos. Any targets on your auspex?" Achilean hissed through his helmet.
"Negative Captain." The grim Veteran Sergeant responded. "Just one."
Achilean snorted. "One Ork? I can't believe it myself." He swore and continued marching forward. "Well where is it then? Lets kill the beast and be done with it."
Hypathos took a few moments to scan more closely for its position. "He's alone alright. But he's just standing there. As if waiting." He pointed a finger past Achilean's shoulder. "Right ahead of us, shouldn't be too far away."
"Well let's hope it's the Warboss. I'm craving for some true action for once." Achilean grimaced and crossed his Lighting Claws with a sharp clang.
The six massive Terminators continued to move forward. The Ork still stood immobile on the auspex, as if waiting for something. Just as Hypathos had said. Achilean had an uneasy feeling. No mere Ork would just stand around waiting for something, they would be moving constantly, searching for something to kill or scavenge.
No mere Ork would.
And no mere Ork it was.
The help of the quick-witted Brother Thaldur could have not come at a better time. As if to test this new duo of Astartes, a large patrol of Ork appeared just when they had the depot in their sights: an opened set of twin doors that revealed racks of weapons and explosives barely in sight over the mass of Orks before them. Van Alessian counted perhaps twenty of the xenos. But the tight space was something they could easily use to their advantage.
"Thaldur, cover me!" Van Alessian ordered and rammed into the Orks as Thaldur raised his Plasma Gun.
Van Alessian cleaved two Ork in half with a brutal strike from his Power Sword, spilling blood on the floor and sticking even more Ork guts and gore on his blade. More Orks pushed through each other, craving for the chance to be the one who killed an Astartes Brother-Captain. But Van Alessian nor Thaldur gave them that chance. Thaldur fired flesh-searing shot after flesh-searing shot, making every pull of the trigger a death sentence for an Ork who got too close for its own good. Xenos fell before the two advancing Astartes in bloody waves, with Van Alessian carving his way through and Thaldur scorching any he could without harming his Captain with his Plasma Gun. As poised as it was to kill the enemies of man, the weapon was still unstable, and had to be handled with great care for its weakness to being able to overheat and cause a catastrophic overload. But in Thauldur's case, this was no threat. He was an expert at using the weapon and had been for many decades now.
He fired the last shot in the Gun's hydrogen flask, the bolt punching in between the eyes of an Ork and burning away the front of its face in a puff of smoke and a small explosion of hot blood. The Plasma Gun began to heat up in his hand's, and Thaldur knew when to halt using the weapon when it was most needed. He dropped the Plasma Gun from his hands, allowing it to rest from the rough leather sling around his shoulder, and drew his Bolt Pistol from its holster. At least this weapon was not prone to a deadly meltdown.
Thaldur fired, and a bolt struck and Ork right in its throat, blasting its head off its shoulders and leaving nothing but a bleeding stump in its place. Van Alessian in the meanwhile, was busy carving a way of his own through the Orks, fighting like a figure born fresh out of legend. Soon enough, the two Astartes were advancing over the corpses of Orks, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. Not even twenty of these aliens could hope to best even a small pair of Astartes.
"Hear me xenos filth!" Van Alessian bellowed. "I am the incarnation of your demise! As long as i still live, your kind will have cause to fear! You hear me!?"
He struck a wide arc before him, cutting open the chests of the three Orks who were closing in on him in a brilliant flash of light. Blood spilled, bodies fell and it was not long before half of the Orks here were already slain by the valorous rage of the centuries-old Brother-Captain and the seasoned Astartes behind him. Ork "skill" was no match for that of the Emperor's Angels of Death.
"Captain Van Alessian, Zenithan here." The venerated Techmarine checked in. "The Titans have been secured, i repeat, the Titans have been secured. I am releasing the restraint locks on them so they may move out and bring fury to the Orks. Princeps Jeriah says all six of them are fully prepared, and that the crew is ready and willing."
"That's excellent!" Van Alessian replied with some effort as he parried the blows of Orks that attacked him. "Let the rest of our forces know of this development. Van Alessian out."
There was no time to stand around and talk in the middle of a battle, so he shut down the vox and resumed fighting at once. He parried another blow from an Ork chainblade, shattering the weapon in two with a vicious counter-strike and carving a deadly wound across the Ork's body. Spending no time to check if he was dead, Van Alessian shifted targets and struck outwards with his Power Sword, taking the blow of an Ork axe as he did so. The blow of the Ork was useless against his Artificer Armor, but his was anything but deadly. The powered blade cut across the torso of the Ork, sending him in a sporadic spin across the floor until he landed a second later with a thud. Thaldur fired a controlled burst from his Bolt Pistol, striking down a pair of the greenskins and blowing open their chests in a shower of blood. The Astartes advanced forward, pistol held before him and striking down more of the few Orks that crossed his aim. Van Alessian, being the whirlwind of death that he was, cleaved two of the remaining three Orks from his path and advanced forward to meet the last one. It was nothing more but a lonely grunt, armed with a poorly crafted axe and wearing light, pathetic armor with small studs here and there to keep it firmly together.
The beast roared, perhaps in rage, perhaps in hate, and charged at Van Alessian...
Until his head exploded while almost within reach of a blow to the Brother-Captain.
Puzzled for a few seconds, Van Alessian turned his gaze up from the dead Ork towards where its swift demise had come from, and found a welcoming site before his eyes: Carcharodons.
Thaldur holstered his sidearm, and began changing the hydrogen flasks in his Plasma Gun while Van Alessian took a second to inspect the Carcharodons. There were three of them standing before him, the one in the middle holding a smoking Bolt Pistol, still leveled forward after it had taken off the head of the Ork, and in the other hand a blood-soaked Chainsword. Two more Astartes with Bolters stood at their leader's side, while additional Carcharodons appeared from behind them, moving into the depot weapons raised and tracing for targets. They all wore antiquated suits of Mk.V Heresy-pattern Power Armor, which despite its old age, was still serving among the ranks of the Carcharodons Battle Brothers. The suits showed extensive signs of modification, of course, to keep them in working order. Even the weapons carried by the Carcharodons were ancient Tigrus-pattern Bolters, save perhaps the explosives and other small kits on their belts.
"Sorry, brother. My kill." The Carcharodon with the Chainsword said and lowered his Bolt Pistol. His voice sounded utterly menacing, even to another Astartes.
"Sergeant Melcor, i assume?" Van Alessian asked.
"Yes. And you must be Captain Stefanos Van Alessian." Melcor took a brief while to examine the column of Ork dead behind Van Alessian and Thaldur. "I see you already took all the fun away. And who is this?" The grim sergeant said and raised a hand towards Thaldur.
"This is Brother Thaldur. He joined me shortly after i finished talking with your Captain." Van Alessian said. "But that is irrelevant. Now we need to discuss our strategy. We still have a Manufactorum to clear out."
"Indeed we do. Captain Achilean and his squad are already ahead, going towards that Titan chamber of your the last i heard. The rest of us are hunting down the greenskins from this part of the Manufactorum. I was told you have tactical command over my squad." Melcor said with a small tone of annoyance. Van Alessian understood how he felt. No Astartes was ever truly willing to relinquish his men under the command of another Astartes, no matter how close their brotherhood or how trusted the other Chapter was. Their brothers, their duty to lead them.
"Very well. Stack up on ammo and supplies and be ready to move out. Were hoping that the Warboss is still somewhere inside this place and..."
"Van Alessian! Captain Van Alessian come in!" It was the voice of Captain Achilean. And there was the unmistakable voice of battle on the background as well. The loud whams of Thunder Hammers and the swift snaps and clangs of Lighting Claws, followed by a short bursts of gunfire.
"Achilean, I'm here, what's going on over there?" Van Alessian asked.
"We found something!" He said, but there was another few moments before he could respond as he was forced to strike a series of paarying blows against whatever he was fighting against, and the vox was filled with static and noises of battle as the ferocious Carcharodon fought on. "And i think your going to like it!"
"What is it then? Did you find some Ork leader?" Van Alessian asked him again. If it was a leader of some sort, then they could perhaps collapse the greenskin's command structure here. If he was part of the upper echelon of the Orks.
"Better!" Achilean boomed back with a tone of brutal satisfaction. "We found the Warboss!"
The Ork was clever, that much he had to give to him. It had drawn the unsuspecting Astartes into an open room, seemingly cleared out of ammo crates and other consoles and devices to make room for something. And that something was obviously this.
Achilean had seen Ork Warboss' before, but this was quite something indeed. The Ork's legs were as wide as large trees, and it's body looked like two Orks had been crudely glued together to form a single, large monstrosity. It's great arms wielded a massive Chainaxe in one hand, the ceramite blades roaring with hunger for flesh, and the other hand held an attached Heavy Stubber that had been connected to the suit of armor it was wearing. The armor was twice as bulky as that of the Tactical Dreadnought Armor Achilean and the Murder Elite were using, and had half moon insignia's and other trophies hanging off it from all points, while a great back banner hung from the rear of the Warboss' back, bolted onto the massive power generator that was allowing the beast to move in its suit of armor at all. Achilean and the members of the Murder Elite were circling the Warboss even now, looking for weak points in its armor and attempting to distract it so one of them may get to the power generator and wreck it. If that generator would be destroyed. Then this whole ordeal would be over, and the Warboss would be left vulnerable.
"Achilean, we are heading your way as soon as we can! Take that monster down and this fight will be over for good!" Van Alessian said through the vox.
"Understood," Achilean said with a slow, grim tone as his eyes locked with the Warboss. "Don't expect to find much left of him when you get here."
"Just kill the thing, Captain. Van Alessian out."
The vox closed, and the room was filled with silence once more as the Terminators paced around the Warboss, and the Warboss in turn, exchanged glances with all of the Astartes surrounding him. Shortly after, he let out a quick laugh and thundered forward towards Achilean.
The massive Ork slammed against the Astartes Captain with all of its weight, attempting to collapse him to the ground so he would be left vulnerable to attack. But the beast underestimated the strength of the armor Achilean had, and the Brother-Captain merely butted against the Warboss with his shoulder and sent the Ork two paces backwards as it attempted to regain balance. More then enough time to land a few blows. Achilean struck with his Lighting Claws, cutting wide, black arcs across the armor of the Warboss, each blow sending bits of metal into the air with a metallic clang. And yet, none of the blows managed to actually wound the Warboss. The armor was so thick, so powerful, that even Terminator Lighting Claws could not penetrate it with a full fledged blow. Frustrated, Achilean came around for another round of blows, just as the Warboss raised his Chainaxe into the air. Claw and axe clashed in mid air, and Achilean used the moment to thrust his unused Claw into the Warboss while it was attempting to grind through the Achilean's block. The Claw thrust into a joint in the Warboss's armor, cutting a mass of power cables in half and burning through the light armoring in there. Smoke and electricity puffed out in a great ball, and the Warboss howled in pain as four powered claws cut through his skin and dug into his flesh with a searing sound. The Chainaxe fell from the Lighting Claw, pushing Achilean back an inch as the Warboss shoved the Captain back with his axe-arm.
But the monster was wounded. It was bleeding. It was dying.
The Astartes around the Warboss, who had not made a move during the entire melee there, released a short and grim chuckle and kept their shields raised before their bodies and their Thunder Hammers leveled. The Warboss looked down, obviously in dismay, at the wound in his rib, watching as fresh blood dripped from it like a waterfall.
"Time to end this nonsense." Achilean growled. "Astartes! On him!"
As one, the Murder Elite closed in, Hammer raised and shields held high. Achilean stomped forward, feeling adrenaline rush through his veins as he prepared to strike the Warboss once again. The Ork instantly reacted, and regained his balance amazingly fast and struck a wide arc towards the Terminators. The blow landed on the shields of two Terminators closing in, forcing them to halt for a moment as they blocked the brutal swing. Energy glistened from the protective fields around the Storm Shields with a quiet hiss. The Warboss followed by bringing up his Heavy Stubber and letting rip of the massive weapon. The dark room lit up with muzzle flashes and was filled with the noise of shell casings clattering against the floor. Heavy caliber rounds impacted against the advancing Murder Elite, many deflecting off the Storm Shields, but some finding their way and landing with massive force into the armor plating of the Astartes. Were it perhaps any regular Space Marine, the shells would have cracked the armor open and killed the wearer, but the Terminator Armor that the Murder Elite wore made them far more resistant, and were but cratered by the bullets. One of the Astartes came up from behind the Warboss and struck down towards the power generator with his Hammer, but the Warboss swung around in a great twirl and launched a brutal strike at his assailant. The Astartes, who had lowered his shield down to strike at the Warboss, was knocked off his feet as the Chainaxe cut his chestplating open and sent the massive Terminator crashing to the ground, shattering the floor beneath him and twisting the metal plating on it. Blood poured from the open wound in the Terminator's chest, and even in the midst of a melee such as this, Achilean could tell that that battle brother was no more. A wound like that would kill anyone in an instant.
"Bastard!" Hypathos roared and struck down with his own Hammer, his tone crying for vengeance for killing one of hie men. The massive weapon hit directly onto the joints connecting the Heavy Stubber to the armor, and shattered the bond between the two. The big gun twisted from the massive arm of the Warboss, fresh ammo pouring from the now exposed ammo feed. The gun was bent in half and rendered useless in an instant.
The Warboos bellowed in rage as the Stubber was destroyed, and struck another blow outwards, this time with the misfortune of missing, as he quickly, and poorly, aimed the blow at no one in particular and hacked nothing but air as a result. Achilean took the chance and thrust both Lighting Claws forward, but the weapons failed to cut any deeper into the Warboss's armor, and didn't even tough the skin of it. The rest of the Murder Elite closed in, venting their valorous rage into the Warboss with blows of Thunder Hammers. The room was filled with loud whams and blasts of energy, that created massive dents into the Warboss' armor on all sides. And yet, the power generator seemed to always remain out reach. But it seemed to matter little, overall the Astartes had the upper hand here. The Warboss was cornered like a rat.
"There are only two ways this ends Ork!" Achilean roared and savagely clawed at the Warboss, who blocked as many as he was able or absorbed them with his armor. "Either i walk out of here or my Astartes here do! Either way, your dead!"
The Titans could already be heard marching out of the Manufactorum, the great war machines trembling the entire complex with each earth-shaking step. Their guns were poised to kill anything that was not human, and their armor and shields were easily capable of taking any punishment the Orks could throw at them. The greenskins would stand no chance against such massive firepower as that of six Warlord Titans. The Imperium it seemed, would win this fight yet.
The Howling Griffons and the Crimson Fists in the Titan chamber finished checkin the remaining Ork wounded, and finishing them off with quick thrusts from Combat Knifes, while the rest of the Imperial forces across Cthonis waged war unending and unforgiving against their alien foes. The Carcharodons had tipped the battle with their arrival, and both their ground and space forces were proving invaluable to the fight at hand. And yet, even before their intervention the Griffons and the Fists had fought like warriors born fresh out of legend, slaying hundreds upon hundreds of Orks time and time again. The aptitude and skill to survive of the Crimson Fists combined with the stubborn valor of the Howling Griffons, was something the Orks could never hope to match.
And as Van Alessian closed in on the Warboss. Something in him told him that this fight was already over.
The Warboss was indeed unlike anything that Van Alessian had ever seen before. The massive Ork towered over even the small ring of Terminators around him, of which he was quickly getting out of. He was almost twice as fast as he should have been in armor like that, striking swift and brutal blows from his Chainaxe at the Carcharodons around him and blocking many of the blows that came his way. Even the Thunder Hammers of the Assault Terminators failed to bring him down. The great melee that occurred before him would have been anything but wondrous to behold as the massive Terminators fought the Warboss, but this was something he could not miss for a lifetime. He grasped his Power Sword, yelled a battlecry and charged.
The Warboss and the Terminators heard the arrival of the Astartes Brother-Captain, and in scant seconds, he passed the room over to the Warboss and entered the melee.
He struck down with his sword, carving a neat wound into the monster's armor and puffing smoke from beneath it as power cables and other energy couplings were sliced in half by the blade. Van Alessian couldn't help but think of how much work the greenskins had put into this suit of armor. There must have been enough power in it to awaken a Dreadnought from an ancient slumber if need be. It certainly would explain how the Warboss was moving so inhumanly fast inside that suit of armor.
"Van Alessian! I see your here just in time!" One of the Carcharodons yelled and launched a pair of blows with his Lighting Claws, both of which the Warboss avoided by making a short jump to the right. Damn, he was fast. "Where the hell are the rest of the men i assigned you?"
"Clearing this place out!" Van Alessian yelled back and quickly blunted away a blow from the Warboss' Chainaxe. He gasped for air and for a split second almost lost his balance. Even in his ceramite armor the blow had winded him.
"Fine then! Lets get this over with!"
Channeling all of his hate towards the Orks into a single, massive strike, Van Alessian carved a brutal wound into the Warboss as he struck a powerful blow downwards, ignoring the way the sword "should" have been wielded in battle. The Warboss roared in anger, and lurched backwards. Even now, it was weakening and failing in strength. A Terminator took the chance and closed in, but the Warboss rammed his shoulder into his new attacker and knocked the Astartes off his feet. The Terminator yelled out in rage as his Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield fell from his grip and he crushed the floor beneath him under his weight.
Van Alessian himself rammed into the Warboss, blade held before him as he thrust the tip deep into the Warboss. The sword at first cut through nothing but metal and the lighter coat of clothing under the armor, but as Van Alessian yelled in rage and hate, he drove the blade ever deeper into the Ork's rib cage, driving the hot tip into the flesh of the Ork, melting it away in a searing hot cut. Blood flushed out, flesh and skin boiled away with every inch that the Power Sword sunk in, and Van Alessian cried out from the top of his lungs as he did so, and kept driving the blade inward, until the Warboss struck out with the arm holding the wrecked remains of his Heavy Stubber, throwing Van Alessian off his feet and toppling him to the ground.
The Warboss' right shoulder, where the Heavy Stubber had been located, was almost obliterated completely. But not quite.
Van Alessian's Power Sword was now sticking out from the Warboss' rib cage, but the creature was almost completely oblivious to it as it swung left and right with its Chainaxe, carving deep cuts into the shields of the Terminators surrounding it. And yet, it also showed signs of weakness. Having a sword stuck in your rib of course, tended to do that.
This ends now. Van Alessian thought to himself and reached for his Storm Bolter. It still had one magazine left in it.
Van Alessian raised the weapon forward, aiming straight at its head, but he was distraught from the blow that the Warboss had just made, and his aim was still a little off. He wasn't even bothering to get up to his feet, and aimed with one hand, set his finger on the trigger, and squeezed it firmly and unleashed his payload onto the Warboss.
Explosive shells rained onto the Warboss, but Van Alessian cursed as he noticed overtime, how little effect his shots had. The shots from his Storm Bolter managed to dent the armor in several places, and a couple even found their way into the exposed legs of the Warboss as the bolts scattered across the body of the massive Ork. Blood burst out, and torn flesh hung from bloodied skin in gory flaps from the Warboss' legs. And yet, still it fought on, even if it was weakened.
His Storm Bolter's firing chamber finally ran out of shots, and soon his pulls of the trigger served to do nothing more but create faint, clicking sounds. Its ammo wasted, Van Alessian threw away the weapon as if in disgust and pushed himself to his feet. He grunted in minor pain. The Warboss's blow had indeed been a savage one, even if it had come from his near-obliterated shoulder. If nothing else, Van Alessian had to admire its strength. But he made sure not to mistake that for sympathy towards the Ork. They had nearly destroyed his Chapter. They all deserved to die for that.
The Warboss was now dueling with the Carcharodon wielding a twin set of Lighting Claws, while the others kept a small distance away from the personal melee going on. Van Alessian could only assume that the Claw-wielding Carcharodon was Captain Achilean, as he clearly stuck out from the rest of his brothers in his finely decorated and modified suit of armor. Sparks burst out and battle cries were exchanged a furious melee that seemed to light the entire room up.
"Crimson Fist! On your feet, i have its attention now!" Achilean boomed as he leaned back to receive a brutal swing from a Chainaxe.
The rest of the Terminators around Achilean and the Warboss now closed on the Ork one by one, individually striking blows at the great beast with a coordinated precision unlike anything Van Alessian would have expected from a Carcharodon. The Warboss, seemingly distracted by the flock of Terminators around it, blunted aside the blows or painfully shrugged them off in his massive suit of armor. Van Alessian had already pinpointed several spots where he could strike a wound or two on the Ork with his Combat Knife, that was still tightly sheathed on his belt, not having been drawn during this entire battle.
Van Alessian reached down at the blade, drawing the weapon out with a swift pull and scanning for a weak spot with eyes that would be the most crucial for the Ork. He finally found it, and in a couple seconds was rushing towards the Warboss, Knife in one hand, and the other hand curled tightly into a fist. Van Alessian let out a cry of rage, and skillfully ducked under the sweep of a Chainaxe and thrust the Combat Knife into an exposed joint in the Warboss' armor that had been revealed after being struck by several blows of Lighting Claws. Van Alessian once again found himself pushing himself into the Warboss, and thrust the Knife deep into the exposed flesh of the Ork's gut. He was fortunate that such a place had been revealed, the wound could prove fatal, even to a Warboss.
The Warboss bellowed in rage as another sharp tip of a blade stabbed into his body, and thrust out with his arm holding the Chainaxe. The blow failed to hit anything.
Van Alessian now reached out his sword still stuck inside the rib cage of the Ork, and grasped its blooded hilt with his gore-strewn gauntlet, the red layer on his hand plating now double coated with the guts of dead Orks. He tightly gripped the hilt, and with all of the his effort, pulled it out of the flesh of the Warboss. The massive Ork roared so loud, it could have been heard across the entire Manufactorum perhaps, as gallons of blood streamed out of the large wound, forming a puddle of blood below its feet. Blood streamed in an unstoppable tide, and Van Alessian fell to his knees in exhaustion, splashing red liquid across the his body. The Warboss fell to one knee, holding onto his Chainaxe with a trembling arm that was now soaked with sweat, and that was so nervous, that the veins seemed like they would explode from within as they stuck out like large black wrapping around its arm. Still howling in anguish and grief, the Warboss backed away from the Astartes.
"Damn..." Achilean muttered and exchanged a glance between Van Alessian and the Warboss, who was now cornered against the wall like a rat, blood still pouring out of its wound in its rib cage.
The Carcharodons now stompped around it and formed a neat crest around the Warboss, as it held its wrecked Heavy Stubber arm against the wound and gripped his Chainaxe with the other, that was still wet with the blood of the Terminator it had killed. Even if the Ork didn't realize it itself, this fight was over for it. It was as good as dead. Now, only the final blow had to be dealt.
The Warboss scrambled and twisted to defend itself, but a Terminator pressed the weight of his boot against its arm, and soon enough, the Chainaxe fell with a clatter against the floor of the Manufactorum. The Terminator pressing his armored ceramite foot against the Warboss snarled under his helmet, and was the first to speak.
"If i may, Brother-Captains." The Astartes said and raised the crackling Thunder Hammer before the face of the Warboss. "This scum has the blood of my brother on his hands."
Achilean grunted in response and shrugged. "I've killed my fair share of these beats. One more won't be an issue." He said and shook his Lighting Claws in his hands, dripping off blood and gore.
"A shame. I honestly expected more of you, monster." Achilean continued and took a few steps forward, Claw raised into the air. "Time to die."
And then, like the break of glass, it all happened.
There was a sudden cry, filled the tune of vengeance, and a quick swirl of blue and red armor as Van Alessian darted through the Carcharodons, blade held forward in thrusting position. The Warboss released a final, pained yell, and then, a split second later, it all ended.
The Power Sword crushed the skull of the Warboss, splitting it in half from the middle and pouring blood and pink viscera out. The Warboss jerked for a brief second, his wide arms lifting into the air in a final attempt to stall his demise, and then fell again, as the dead weight slammed against the floor, his head nothing but a ruined stump sitting upon the broken corpse of the Warboss. Its armor crackled and snapped with energy, and still dripped blood here and there. But there was no questioning of it.
The Warboss was dead.
Van Alessian took several, deep breaths, as the room suddenly was filled with silence as the five Terminators around him gazed upon him, eyes open with...shock, surprise, anger for stealing a kill? Van Alessian didn't know nor care at this point. The fight was over. The leader of this greenskin invasion was toppled and killed. It was over. At last.
As he pulled his unrecognizable Power Sword from the corpse of the Warboss, Van Alessian turned to meet the visored eyes of the Carcharodons Terminators. The leader of them, Captain Tyrias Achilean, spoke first.
"A fine kill." He said bluntly.
"He had it coming." Van Alessian snarled back.
"With this xeno dead the Orks will go insane and scatter within moments." The squad sergeant said. "It will take days, maybe even weeks or months to clear this world fully of these greenskins. But over time..."
"They will all perish." Van Alessian interrupted.
The sergeant looked down at the kneeling Brother-Captain. "Yes. As he said."
Achilean nodded in agreement, and waved a gauntlet at the rest of the Terminators around him. "Come then. We will return for our dead later. Right now, we still have a planet to clear out." He looked over his shoulder to Van Alessian. "Are you coming Captain Van Alessian?"
Van Alessian nodded merely, and Achilean shrugged and told him to follow them whenever he was ready. But right now, following the Carcharodons into battle was the least of his concerns.
They had won.
The Imperium was victorious here.
He, and his brothers, were victorious here.
Outside, the Legio Titanicus purged the Orks from existance, setting the entire planet ablaze with the fury of their mighty guns, and the Astartes fleet was mopping up the remaining few Ork ships. And most importantly of all, the Crimson Fists of his 5th Company, were finally getting the chance to regroup, and replenish their losses here.
It would take some time to replace their fallen brother on Cthonis.
But replace them they would.
Their rise to glory, was only just beginning.