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Although returning to Rynn's World safely from the deadly trap on Unbound, the most perilous battle of Captain Stefanos Van Alessian has only just begun. Striking from the shadows of the Immaterium, the forces of Chaos have laid siege to the home of the Crimson Fists, and once more the noble Chapter teeters on the brink of extinction. With no help on the way, and being outnumbered and outgunned a million to one, can the Crimson Fists face the full horrors of the Warp and live to tell the tale?
PART I: Brothers
The Thunderhawk shook from the another hit to it's starboard side, as the pilot dodged deadly warp bolts and demonic fire as it maneuvered through the deadly maze of warp fire and demon engines spewing death at every turn. This area had once been a beautiful and prosperous area on Rynn's World, filled with lush green plains and tall forests. Now, it was but a shadow of it's former self, raped of it's beauty by the Ork invasion a decade ago and now burned to a crisp by the forces of Chaos. The entire area was seeping with demonic power from cracks forming on the ground, as this place was being transformed from Rynn's World to...something else.
Inside the Thunderhawk, the dozen Crimson Fists held tightly onto their harnesses, waiting for the moment when the assault ramp would detach and let them loose upon the enemy. They all bared the honorary Crux Terminatus, Terminator Honors, on their finely crafted and decorated Power Armor, glimmering with gold and polished blue, even in the darkness of the Thunderhawk's troop compartment. They all knew what their duty was, what they had to do, and the chances of them returning alive to see the glories of their Chapter restored. If the Crimson Fists had a future, as they all believed that they would, then they may very well never live to see it. But these Astartes were no ordinary warriors, they were Veterans of the Crusade Company, the best soldiers in the entire Chapter, and the bravest in the entire Imperium as far as their fellow brothers were concerned. They were the best, the elite, and the most well suited for this task. If anyone could do what was to be done soon enough, then they could.
And at their front, standing unharnessed before his fellow Crimson Fists, was Pedro Kantor, Lord Hellblade and 36th Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists. The finest of all in the Chapter. And before him was Vigilax Squad, some of the best men he had available in the entirety of the Chapter. They had served with Kantor side by side for decades from one battlefield to another and all the way back to the First Battle of Rynn's World. And now the Second as well. His suit of Artificer Armor was scarred and burned from several places, the golden aquila having been almost completely scratched off, and his armor filled with dents from Bolter shells and blade strikes. On his gauntlet, Dorn's Arrow, having taken more lives today then anyone could possibly count, fed another round into the twin barreled weapon, and prepared to slay the traitors beyond the confines of this gunship. Kantor looked up at the ammo counter on the right corner of his HUD, which indicated 354 bolts remaining in the ammo feed. He then looked down at his Power Fist, still caked with the blood of the hundreds of traitors he had single-handed killed over the last weeks. Weeks which had worn down the ranks of his Chapter more than he would have cared to see.
The Thunderhawk took another hit from a bolt of warp energy, shaking the entire troop compartment and knocking over weapons mounted on racks and spilling magazines of fresh ammo from supply crates. The lights of the ship flickered and the circuits broke apart in a few parts, sparkling electricity. Kantor managed to keep his footing, keeping a cold head and calm mind, not falling victim to panic or stress. He eyed the fistful of grenades that rolled out of their holding crate onto the floor, making sure that they had not accidentally activated and risked damaging the ship from the inside. He had no desire to die at the hands of his own weapons.
"Pilot, report." Kantor ordered.
"Starboard engine is dead is my Lord, we are losing altitude, i can't do anything about it sir. I can still try and safely land us as close to the objective as i can." The pilot reported as he struggled to keep the ship under control.
"Negative. Land as close enough for you to get back to the city and reinforce Captain Van Alessian. Emperor only knows how much he could use the air support." Kantor ordered.
"Yes my Lord. Thunderhawk 'Mantle of Pollux' preparing to return to departure point."
Kantor could feel the experienced eyes of Veteran Sergeant Hadrian eyeing him with some level of concern. "My Lord, it will be considerably more difficult for us to reach the target if we don't have the Thunderhawk at our back..."
"Don't lecture me sergeant! I have sent enough of my brothers to their deaths in this battle and i am not sending any more then i have to. We can handle any resistance we come across, we have come this far have we not?" Kantor retorted.
Hadrian raised an eyebrow, perhaps still questioning the decision Kantor was making. But Hadrian and his men were loyal, and would follow him to the depths of the Warp if he gave the word. They would follow him here as well. "Of course sir."
"Good. Check your wargear, we will be landing soon."
The members of Vigilax Squad cocked their Bolters, loading deadly Vengeance Rounds into the large drum magazines, that would easily penetrate any armoring the enemy had at their disposal. To the left of Vigilax Squad, the familiar face of Sergeant Huron Grimm was covered by his Mk.VII helmet, as the veteran Astartes went through his equipment quickly to ensure he had everything battle ready. Grimm had lost his entire squad defending Jadeberry Hill only a week back, and had insisted on accompanying Kantor to this mission. Kantor admired the Sergeant's loyalty, and thought that he could use every man available to take down his target. Captain Cazaquez himself had recommended to Kantor that he took Grimm with him. The Chapter Master and the Sergeant exchanged a quick half-bow, honoring each other for their services to the Chapter, and then going back to the battle at hand.
"My Lord!" The pilot yelled through the inter-com. "My Lord, get down!"
Before Kantor could react, the right wall of the Thunderhawk was torn open by a vicious blast, opening a wide gap into the ship and filling the compartment with the heat of Warp fire. Kantor was knocked over by the blast, and his armored frame fell over to his back with a great clang of metal against metal. The alert light inside flashed red, and the alarm klaxon went off, alerting the ship's crew of severe damage. Kantor quickly got to his feet and locked his gaze onto the gap, since they were practically inside the Warp, anything could come through there now. Anything.
The blast had also blown open the harnesses of the two nearest Space Marines, Hadrian and another battle brother, and both were now reaching for their weapons and eyeing the breach with great care. The rest of the Astartes prepared to unstrap themselves from their harnesses, but Kantor ordered them to hold their hands, he wanted as many to reach the LZ alive as possible.
"Pilot, any serious damage?" Kantor called through the vox.
"Pilot, come in!" Kantor ordered with more force.
Still no response. Kantor cursed his luck, and turned around to face Grimm, who was as ready as ever to unstrap himself from his seat and get into action. "Grimm, go check on the pilot."
"Yes my Lord." The Sergeant acknowledged and after mere seconds was out of his harness and on his way to the ship's controls.
"Lord Kantor! Incoming hostiles!" Hadrian yelled.
Only a few moments later, winged beast barged through the breach, screeching and howling in an utterly demonic fashion as it fell upon Kantor with it's adamantium-sharp claws held out for the kill. Dorn's Arrown barked, and beast fell to the floor of the Thunderhawk with a wet thud. Kantor looked outside, and saw more of the winged beasts closing in, and fast.
Hadrian and the Astartes beside him opened fire, Vengeance Bolts knocking out the demon beasts from the skies. One by one, the monsters fell like flies, but still they came on, claws ready to shred human flesh. Dorn's Arrow joined in, and in a rhythmic symphony knocked out more demons from the skies. A few managed to get close to the breach, but those few were quickly dispatched by Bolter shots.
Another explosion shook the Thunderhawk, and this time the results were far more worse. The entire ship dipped downwards, and began to fall down in a deadly crash trajectory. Hadrian and the other Astartes struggled to gain their footing, but the situation was too much for even the Veterans of the Crusade Company to handle, and the consequences were disastrous for the Astartes beside Hadrian. As the Thunderhawk shook left and right, the Veteran was thrown out of the breach, and into the fiery ground outside, dooming the Crimson Fist to certain death. Hadrian called out for the brother's name, but knew it was too late.
"Grimm! The pilot, is he alright?" Kantor barked into the vox as the Thunderhawk continued to fall downwards.
"Yes my Lord, he's still alive, but wounded. He says there's nothing we can do about the crash sir, were going down."
Kantor looked outside. The ground was already starting to get into plain line of sight, and he could see pillars of flame and twisted rock formations swirling with more of the winged demons and Chaos Hell Talon fighters. Kantor grabbed onto Hadrian, and pulled him beside him, while grabbing onto a piece of a harness with his free hand to balance himself.
"Brothers! Brace for impact!"
Two months earlier
The command center of the re-established Scar Lake Airbase was a lit up, bright white and large tent, with a strategium board in the middle for commanders to plan their operations. Since the the Ork invasion of Rynn's World a decade ago, the base had been one of the highest prioirities of the Rynnsguard to reconstruct, as it was an essential part of the planet's defense. And it seemed that in these times now more then ever, Rynn's World was in dire need of bases and military sites such as this to maintain the safety of the Imperial citizens there.
Outside, hundreds of Rynnsguard troopers and pilots marched around the air base, running drills, checking their ships and patrolling the area. On the runway were several well aligned Lighting fighters and Marauder bombers, currently being fitted with weapons and fuel by servitors and engineers. Rynnsguard squads manned key defensive locations around the air base, eyeing the area with keen sight. The Ork invasion may have been over, but there were still small pockets of the greenskins here and there that were proving ever harder to suppress. Scar Lake had already had a few incidents from local Ork raiders who had suddenly barged into the site and attempted to raid as many military vehicles and weapons as possible. It didn't end well for them on every turn.
Inside the command center, was a fine ring of half a dozen Power Armor-clad Space Marines, bearing the symbol of the Crimson Fists proudly on their shoulder. They were all the very best their entire Chapter had to offer, Captain's of the Companies, veterans of centuries of warfare. Merely ten years ago, all ten Captain's would have been present at this meeting, prepared to discuss the needs of the Chapter in earnest, but after the cataclysmic events on this world, such a thing would not be possible for some time now. To the left of the board, Captain Van Alessian observed the rest of the Captain's around him, whom he didn't get to see often enough. They were as much as his brothers as the men which he commanded on a daily basis in the 5th Company. They had all been through hell and back together, fighting side by side against the most impossible odds.
There was Cazaquez, the Captain of the 2nd Company. Van Alessian had never soo often seen or fought alongside the former commanding officer of the 2nd, Drigo Alvez, but by the Emperor did that Company have a new commander. Alvez had been a brutal and no nonsense warrior who had showed little care for the citizens of this world, whereas Cazaquez was very much in favor of both preserving both the lives of his brothers and the people he had sworn to protect. The noble and selfless Astartes was the natural choice to lead a Company into battle.
Then there was Segala, Captain of the 3rd Company. Segala was a figure whom even Van Alessian looked up for inspiration. He was a survivor of the horrid Ork attack on Rynn's World, and had led his men forward unto victory on every turn. Back then, and even now, Segala showed more concern for the lives of his Astartes then he did for his own. An essential aspect of any leader.
The new Captain of the 4th Company was also considerably different from his predessecor, Captain Cortez. Helos Krugger was far from attaining the Immortal title that Cortez had beared, but having managed to rebuild the 4th Company to it's full strength alone was a deed to be remarked on. Under his careful tending, the 4th Company was now once more at full strength. He was also a veteran from the Declates Crusade, and beared a Templar Cross alongside with his Crimson Fists insignia as remembrance for that campaign.
The Captain of the 6th Company was Toren Schyma, raised from the battle-worn ranks of the Crusade Company. Schyma had fought side by side with Lord Kantor himself on numerous battles, and both of them owed each other their lives tenfold. Like the venerated Chapter Master, Schyma also held a deep respect and sympathy for lesser humans, and unlike many Astartes held onto them as a cause to fight for. He proved himself willing to sacrifice himself for even the most lonely Guardsman on Rynn's World, when he alone held off a tide of dozens of Orks overrunning a squad of Rynnsguard.
And perhaps currently the most important Captain of all, was Eli Demerian, the Captain of the 10th. It was his hardening task to train and watch over the 102 neophytes training to become Crimson Fists, and to manage the 50 Scout Marines deployed into active field duty. For without them, the Chapter would indeed be forever lost. And without the hard work put into restoring the Chapter by Demerian, there may very well never be a Crimson Fists.
All of these figures now stood awaiting for the arrival of Lord Kantor and the main command staff of the Rynnsguard. Why such an important meeting had been called upon was unknown to any of the Astartes in the command tent, but an order from a Chapter Master may have just as well been an order from the Emperor himself. But Van Alessian couldn't help but worry, was another invasion on the way? Were the Orks returning to claim Rynn's World? Or was it some new foe?
"Has anyone heard anything about this meeting?" Krugger asked, breaking the silence.
Everyone in the tent shook their heads.
"Lord Kantor was quite clear." Van Alessian said. "We will be briefed on the situation once he arrives."
"This almost stinks like another Ork attack." Segala muttered. "First the Captain's are summoned to a council session, then out of the blue, we are attacked and almost destroyed."
"Then we should hope we hear about this new threat with haste." Schyma commented.
As the Captain's thought of what to say next, the tent suddenly wavered as a powerful pair of armored hands pushed through them and marched into the command center. At once, all six Astartes around the strategium board snapped to attention and saluted with a slam to their chestplates as the one soldier outranking them all stepped in. He was clad in glistening dark blue Artificer Armor with a golden laurel strapped around his helmet, on his chestplate along with the golden Aquila were crimson colored ceremonial strapps, and on his gauntlet he wore Dorn's Arrow, an ancient and venerated wrist-mounted Storm Bolter that had shed more blood and gore then any other weapon in the Fists armory. Even the most low-life of humans on Rynn's World recognized him.
He was Pedro Kantor, Lord Hellblade, Chapter Master of the Crimson Fists.
"Lord Kantor!" Cazaquez snapped. "Forgive us my Lord you arrived some time earlier then anticipated."
"This was a meeting i could not afford to be late from." Kantor said and walked over to the strategium board. "So here i am now. As is the general and his staff."
Van Alessian and the other Captain's had not even noticed the arrival of the Rynnsguard officers under the blanket of Lord Kantor's awe. There was General Koyas, supreme commander of the military forces of Rynn's World, who had been appointed the position after the death of his predessecor in an Ork ambush a few years back. Koyas was a loyal and no-nonsense soldier, who had an exceptional combat record. Apparently, the government had asked Lord Kantor on his oppinion on who should be the new Rynnsguard commander, and Kantor had in the end suggested Koyas. His oppinion alone outweighed everyone. There were also other officers with the general, all of whom the Crimson Fists did recognize from replacement reports and service records: Colonel Abrihan, commander of the Rynnsguard ground forces. Commander Celenas, lead pilot of the Rynnsguard Air Force. Admiral Cranos, head of the System Defense Fleet. There were still a few Astartes coming to the session, but Kantor stated that they could wait.
"Brothers and members of the Rynnsguard, as you have all heard, the Loki sector has recently come under a series of attacks from none other than the forces of Chaos themselves. From the reports on the frontlines, we have determined that they are from the Black Legion. They have armed and trained the Orks in use of their own diabolical weaponry, which has since made eradicating the greenskin threat ever more difficult. However, as General Koyas is about to reveal to you, we may be in luck. General, if you may." Kantor stated, and stepped aside for the General, who walked before the strategium board and clicked a few studs before revealing a full map of the Loki sector.
"The Navy and your Chapter Fleet, have both reported a sudden absence of Chaos forces on all fronts. The Orks have thus far not relented in their attacks, but they too have significantly decreased. Around a week ago, we received confirmation from the front that the Black Legion has fully vacated the sector." Koyas said in a firm and professional tune.
Before the General could continue, Krugger interrupted and quickly asked a question. "General, my Lord, if i may. First of all, what are our losses, how many men have we lost in total? And second of all, what is so significant of the Black Legion retreat? We drove them back, as we knew we would. What more can there be to it?"
Koyas glanced at Kantor, wandering if it was his place to answer the Captain's question. But Kantor merely nodded to the Rynnsguard officer and let him speak.
"My Lord, casualties have been reported as moderate, although we only barely held at a few fronts. Your 6th Company lost eleven Astartes defending our mining stations on the moon of Sigma Prime, and your 2nd Company was depleted to 87 men holding back enemy boarding parties who attempted to seize control of our capital ships. Losses among the System Defense Forces are unknown exactly, but are considered to be in the thousands. And to answer your latter question my Lord, noneother than your Librarians came directly to me and my command staff and told us something very...peculiar."
As the Captain's raised eyebrows and pondered through what was going on, Kantor stepped forward. "The Librarium said that they indeed did sense the Black Legion's retreat, but not long after that felt another, far greater power in the Warp, shaking the tides and altering the course of our ships across the sector. They also said that they detected massive psyonic storms scattered across the Immeterium, conveniently enough in areas where our supply ships would be normally travelling."
"Are you saying were being cut off my Lord?" Cazaquez asked.
"We are quite certain of it. The General here, felt it was wise enough to see if these storms were really there, and if our Librarians minds were simply not being clouded by the powers of the Warp. So, small scout ships were sent around the sector.
"The results that came in were...disturbing let us say. We lost contact with one of the scout ships, but not before reporting being caught in a massive storm, the other ships reported in likewise, and luckily made it back here. I don't think i need to explain much more." Kantor ended.
"Lord Kantor, if the Chaos forces have blocked Warp travel into the entire sector, then they must be planning something big. I recommend placing the entire Chapter and the SDF on full alert. This can only be a prelude to another war, a war here on Rynn's World." Krugger said.
"We have thought of that, and me and the command staff as well as the system Fleet Command are in agreement that the Black Legion has not just yet let go of this sector. The entire defense fleet is already on standby, and our Chapter Fleet can be called upon easily in just moments." Kantor replied.
"Or what's left of it."
"We still have nearly fifty vessels at our disposal Helos, and the ships from the SDF. More than enough to mount a sufficient defense."
"Forgive me my Lord, but must agree with Captain Krugger. Arx Tyrannus has been destroyed, and the Chapter itself is only at a little over half strength. If the Black Legion does indeed attack, as we are assuming it will, then their fleet could easily outnumber ours. Not to mention if Snaggrod decides to hop in and assist the Traitors." Demerian said.
"I understand your worries brothers, but the Crimson Fists have braved numerous dangers before, and we will brave this one as well. And we are not without a chance. The Rynnsguard has been largely restored from a sizable pool of volunteers, and our resupply runs have been quite on time. We have already comissioned several new vehicles and aircraft into service, and the General has assured me that their fighters and bombers are ready to take the fight to the enemy in earnest." Kantor calmly stated.
"Of course my Lord." Demerian said.
"Have the Librarians picked up anything else of use?" Van Alessian asked, breaking his silence.
Kantor was silent for a moment. "I'm affraid, that such exposure to the Warp, even from this distance, has caused them to...lose their minds so to say. The effects are only temporary, but we have seen when this happens to our psykers, like during the Ork invasion. They will recover, but we don't known how soon."
"My Lord, you said they sensed another disturbance in the Warp." Van Schyma said.
Kantor nodded. "Not long after the Black Legion retreated, they detected strange movement within the Warp, coming towards the Loki sector. They couldn't say much of it afterwards."
"When can we expect the Traitors to attack?" Cazaquez asked.
"That's the problem." Kantor said. "We don't know. We have placed ships around the Loki sector where the Imperium is still under control, and our scout ships have infiltrated the worlds that the Orks have occupied as well as they can, but right now, all we can do is prepare."
"Defending Rynn's World will be extremely difficult my Lord." Van Alessian pointed out. "Only New Rynn City remains standing, and beside that there are only a few areas worth defending."
"Or that are able to be defended." Schyma added. "The Orks ravaged the land in brutal succesion during their invasion. Much of the planet has been reduced to baren grasslands, or worse."
Kantor shot a glance at his Captain's, still not believing entirely that they were so heavily considering the possibility of defeat. "Rynn's World will not fall my brothers, not while the Crimson Fists remain upon it. This is as much our home as it is for the humans who still live upon it.
"And New Rynn City is a en excellent point where to launch a defense strong enough to win the battle. As are the other areas which we are to defend. We will win this fight, and we will win it fast."
As the Astartes and the Rynnsguard commanders continued to plan and strategize, a Rynnite soldier came into the tent, wearing the uniform of the 13th Rynnsguard Battalion, and whispered something into the ear of Admiral Cranos and Commander Celenas. A few seconds passed as the Admiral and Commander quickly glanced at each other, and then dismissed the soldier from the tent. They now turned over the Kantor and Koyas, looking worried.
"I take it this can't be anything good." Krugger grunted.
I'm affraid so my Lord." Cranos said. "Lord Kantor, we have lost contact with Battlegroup's Alpha and Bravo. They were assigned to watch potential areas of attack from Chaos forces."
"The squadrons of Lighting's i also assigned to watch the Orks and to provide fighter support for the larger vessels, have gone dark on those fronts as well." Celenas reported.
"You can't be serious. How could the Black Legion get here so fast?" Schyma cursed.
"We don't know sir." Celenas said. "And we don't even know it is the Black Legion."
"They could have jumped to a nearby staging area to replenish their losses, and then regroup for another attack. But the strength of this attack worries me, especially since it is so soon after the withdrew. Admiral, how many did we lose?" Kantor asked.
"Twenty nine ships, and several fighters. The crew's have been presumed totally lost. I'm sorry my Lord, but one of your ships was in Battlegroup Bravo, designated CF-123 i believe." Cranos replied grimly. Understandable, since he had just lost millions of his own men without even knowing himself.
"I see. And what about the other Battlegroups?" Kantor asked.
"We don't know my Lord. They have not checked in yet, but Battlegroup Delta is at least still operating at full efficiency, that much we know for certain."
"Then we have no time to waste, their coming, and fast." Kantor hurriedly tapped a few studs on the strategium board, and displayed a map of Rynn's World on it. "Captain Van Alessian and i have devised a strategy to best defend Rynn's World in it's current condition."
Van Alessian stepped forward to the board closer to Kantor. As Master of the Marches, it was his duty to oversee the deployment of the Chapter's forces along with the Chapter Master when war would come to their home world or they would march into battle to another part of the galaxy. Van Alessian was in many ways, responsible for the safety of this planet, a responsibility which weighed heavily on his shoulders.
"Cazaquez, you and the 2nd Company will be defending the Necropolis along with the 10th Rynnsguard Battalion, it is imperative, for morale's sake as much as honor's, that the Traitors do not destroy this area. Colonel, i would appreciate it if you were there to lead the 10th, as far as i know, it a new and green unit." Kantor stated.
"Of course lord Kantor. I'll keep them in line." Abrihan replied. Cazaquez nodded in agreement from the other side of the board.
"Segala, I will be taking command of the 3rd Company in defense Scar Lake. If we want to have any hope of winning this fight, we need to keep our aircraft in the skies." As Kantor spoke, he could almost feel the flow of joy running through Commander Celenas. As lead pilot, she would be assigned at Scar Lake as well. Her first war, and she was already fighting with an Astartes Chapter Master.
"Krugger, you will reinforce the Rynnsguard defending the outer perimiter of the City. If you can hold them back there, we may not have to risk fighting inside the capital itself. Van Alessian, as we agreed you and the 5th are to defend the capital. Do whatever you muct to keep the place, and the people inside it, safe. You are being given full command of the Rynnsguard forces there.
"Schyma, you and Demerian will be defending Magalan. The Rynnsguard have been constructing a series of surface to orbit missile defense batteries across the entire continent, and we need to keep them safe. They are not online yet, but General Koyas has informed me that they will be so in less than two weeks."
"We may not be alive in two weeks my Lord." Scyma bluntly admited. "But we will hold the batteries."
"I know you will. And at last, Veteran Sergeant Victurix will be taking command of the Crusade Company and charged with the defense of Caliona. The only area there worth attacking is the refugee camp set up there, that holds tens of thousands of civilians from across the Loki sector who have escaped the war in their homes. Victurix will keep them and the continent safe." Kantor ended.
Kantor tapped a stud, and the strategium board shut down, dimming the command tent as Kantor finished his briefing. "The Black Legion will be here soon, and we must be ready when they eventually do arrive. And remember who these Traitors are. They are the lap dogs of Abaddon the Despoiler, the Emperor's most hated enemy. If we fail here, then it means death for all of us, and eternal shame for the Imperium. And questions?"
"Yes. How long can we keep up the defense? They are strong as they are, but since no help from the Imperium is likely to come any time soon, again, what type of strategy do have to keep the Black Legion at bay while at the same time striking back at them to drive them off our world." Cazaquez asked.
Van Alessian knelt over the board to answer the question. "It is likely that the Chaos forces will focus much of their attention on the capital itself, which is why the largest amount of our Chapter is positioned there. While they hold the line at the city, Lord Kantor and Captain Segala will be launching rapid strikes against targets that have been identified as critical locations for the enemy. Sergeant Victurix and the Crusade Company will handle the hard hitting part with their Terminator squads. Everyone else, just worry about holding your ground."
Kantor was about to add something to that, but before he could do so, the vox in his helmet opened, and the voice of noneother than Rogo Victurix came through. "My Lord, I'm sorry to interrupt, but i just received urgent news from our Chapter Fleet."
"And?" Kantor asked.
"It's CF-123 sir. They have it on auspex and visual. She's alive my Lord."
PART II: For the Emperor
"CF-123 this is CF-79 come in." The Captain of the Crimson Fists ship known as Relentless, said as he attempted to contact the damaged Strike Cruiser.
Kantor and the rest of the commander's around him were viewing the situation in space from the newly lit strategium board, which indicated the sixty seven Imperial vessels in orbit as green blips and CF-123 as blank white: unknow contact. Most of the Chapter seemed to be willing to believe that the ship was still on their side, but Kantor wanted to be sure. He didn't like the idea of a single ship, even if it was an Astartes ship, escaping from the destruction of dozens of it's fellow vessels. But the ship had seen combat. According to what the Captain of the Relentless was seeing, the ship was damaged across all areas, and was even venting atmosphere on it's right side. Multiple breaches dotted the hull, and numerous of the weapon batteries and munition stores had detonated, causing even further damage. But what worried the crew's of the Imperial ships in orbit the most was that CF-123 had clearly been damaged by weapons not made from any known human or alien force. There were parts of the ship seeping with dark miasma or crackling with odd energies. Kantor immediately knew that only demonic powers could have done such damage.
"My Lord, CF-123 is not responding to our vox messages nor is it slowing down. If i had to guess the ship is so badly damaged that it cannot communicate or properly control itself. If it is so, i suggest we prepare for a particularly nasty crash sir, if that Strike Cruiser goes down on the surface, the damage done may be... extensive to say the least." The Relentless' Captain said.
"Understood seven-niner. Keep trying to contact the ship." Kantor ordered.
"Yes my Lord."
Kantor turned over to Admiral Cranos. "Admiral, are your ships ready?"
Cranos looked into Kantor's eyes, slightly confused. "My Lord?"
"It is a simple question Admiral. Are the ships in your battlegroups ready to fire?"
"Uhh... yes my Lord. May i ask why? The enemy is no where in sight."
"But it may very well be soon, Admiral. I don't like any part of this scenario here. A single ship escapes the destruction of dozens of other vessels, and now it isn't even responding to our vox..."
"Lord Kantor!" Krugger retorted, with a slight pitch of anger in his tune. Kantor and his brothers were hardly surprised, as Master of the Fleet, it was Krugger's duty to oversee the ships of the Chapter Fleet and ensure they return home safe and sound. "You cannot be considering the fact that one of our own ships may have actually turned traitor? That ship out there has survived numerous battles, and lived to tell the tale. How come it is so odd that it survived this time?"
"It's the appearance of the situation that bothers me, Captain." Kantor snapped back.
Time passed, and in orbit, the damaged Strike Cruiser continued to move forward at non-stopping rate, with the crew seemingly not halting to slow down the ship's decent. The Imperial blockade opposing it was nervously watching the situation, as the wrecked craft seeping with unnatural energies and powers continued to move forward and forward towards Rynn's World. The vox became filled with chatter requesting for orders, and even a few permissions to open fire on the ship as it got dangerously closer and closer. Kantor swore under his breath. He was suspicious of an enemy trap, as much as he was willing to believe that that ship was still under the command of the Imperium. But as Chapter Master, it was his duty to make the most dangerous and even foolhardy of choices, and by example carry them out. Was this to be one of those choices? Kantor couldn't help but wonder.
From the left of the strategium board, Van Alessian finally spoke his mind. Although he was still half-resisting to say it even as he let the words loose from his lips. "My Lord, if i may. I agree that the danger that this wreck poses is too severe to be taken lightly. If indeed this is some form of Chaos first strike against us, then we should respond before that strike wounds us too sorely. Also, even if CF-123 is just damaged and cannot operate properly, it still poses a significant threat to us with the marge amount of deadly debree and shrapnel from the wreck, not to mention detonations of weapon stores that may still be operational and the - "
"Stefanos, you cannot be seriously suggesting we shoot down one of our own ships." Krugger blurted once again, clearly doing his best to thwart the descision to destroy the incoming ship wreck.
"Open your eyes Helos!" Van Alessian barked, startling the 4th Captain enough for him to even blink of surprise. "That ship is in no condition to serve the Chapter, i doubt it is even close to fully manned and it would take years in our brotherhood's current status to restore the ship to working order and replace the crew. Every survivor on that Strike Cruiser is probably wounded to the point they cannot be salvaged any longer, no one could have survived such Warp damage and exposure from the jump inside a ship like that."
"I hate to admit it, but Captain Van Alessian is right my Lord." Segala said. "That Strike Cruiser poses more harm than anything else to us right now."
Krugger curled his fists in anger. "As Master of the Fleet, I am in charge of our Chapter's vessels. It's my descion and mine alone to bring that ship in or destroy it. And we are bringing it in."
"I don't think you understand Krugger." Segala calmly said. "The ship cannot even maintain it's altitude, it's going down as we speak. And as Van Alessian said, we cannot do anything about the crash, it will come down. And it will hurt our world, and the few members of the crew still alive will not be alive to tell the heroics of that ship."
"We can limit the damage by trying to direct the wreck towards the north. Most of the area there is still ravaged from the Ork invasion." Krugger suggested.
"And what if that does not work? What if it crashes onto New Rynn City instead? Is that a risk you want to take Helos? As i recall your own men are to be stationed near the city." Segala snapped back.
"Segala is right." Kantor admitted. "I'm sorry Helos, but as Chapter Master, my decisions out rank all others. Now, open a vox to CF-79."
Krugger sighed, and angrily slammed a finger on a few controls until the vox crackled and opened a link over to the Relentless.
"CF-79 this is Kantor. I'm putting an end to all this. Open fire on CF-123. Put an end to it's missery." Kantor ordered.
No response. Everyone in the tent looked to each other for answers, Krugger in particular was looked upon. But the Astartes Captain was puzzled as everyone else.
"CF-79 are you there?" Kantor repeated.
"My Lord! CF-123 is ... collision cour ... we cannot eva ... It's coming right at ... Sweet Emperor, brace for - " The static vox shut down. But Kantor already knew what to expect. He looked at the stretegium board, and saw the white blip of CF-123 collide with the green blip of CF-79. A direct hit, the wreck must have come in too fast for the other ship to evade and was unable to move from it's path in time. A red ball enveloped both blips, flashed a few times, and then dissappeared from the hologram all together. Both of them were gone.
"Open a vox to the nearest the ship! Now!" Kantor ordered.
"CF-367, the Temperatam Laminas, is closest my Lord. I believe it's assigned to Captain Van Alessian. I'm opening the vox now sir." Krugger complied, eager himself to know what happened to his ships.
The vox to the Temperatam Laminas opened. "CF-367 this is Kantor. What's going on out there?"
"My Lord? This is Lord-Captain Qhunaria." The ship's commander replied. "CF-123 was coming on a direct collision course with CF-79. Seven-niner tried to evade, but was too slow sir. They got caught in between the engines and the rear compartment of the ship. Both of them are now wasted my Lord. I'm sorry."
Kantor bended his head downward and shook his head. The war had not even begun, and they were already losing men by the thousands. Good men, and along with them good hardware. Krugger bit his lip and cursed. He took the losses to the Chapter Fleet harder than anyone else.
"Wait a moment." Qhunaria said, almost whispering. "Something's happening my Lord."
"What? What's going on Lord-Captain?" Kantor asked.
"I... i don't know my Lord. Something moving in the wreckage." Qhunaria began. "Were moving closer to... wait a minute."
A few moments passed.
"Contact! Hostiles pouring in from the - "
The vox collapsed into a loud whine, and even Kantor and his brothers almost clasped their ears as the insanely loud voice came through and echoed across the entire base. But that was just the beginning. As Kantor ordered the vox to be shut down, he saw the entire front of the Chapter Fleet light up with orange dots, followed by the appearance of dozens of red blips: Hostiles.
"It's begun." Kantor whispered.
The Chapter Fleet and the SDF had come under a brutal attack from vile demonic monsters in orbit, with thousands of dark shapes and alien creatures pouring from the wreckade of the two Crimson Fists ships. The fleet opened fire, and soon the stars were filled with streaks of lance volleys and plasma torpedoes as they struck down their targets with deadly precision. Lighting fighters launched from the hangar bays along with Marauder bombers, who moved into formation with their squadron leaders. Hundreds of the small ships formed up, and crashed into the wavees of demons. Several fell into pieces, as the demons crawled their way into the cockpits and crushed the flesh of the pilots, and then carried on to infest the systems in their ships, turning their guns against their owners. Chaos ensued among the fighter squadrons, and it was only minutes after the initial engagements that many of the sqadron leaders ordered their men to fall back. However, they only ended up exposing themselves to enemy fire to their engines, and were blown into pieces by Warp bolts and demonic fire.
The demons even found their way inside the large cruisers, slipping past the smallest of areas and into the halls of the massive vessels. Security teams noticed most threats and attempted to neutralize them, but were either overpowered by the demons or failed to stop them from slipping into vital systems and disrupting the ship. Soon, explosions began to pop up across the fleet, and the demons steadily carved a path towards their ultimate goal: Rynn's World.
"Lycor, report." Van Alessian ordered as he stepped into a 5th Company Thunderhawk on Scar Lake.
"The Chaos forces caught us completely off guard sir." Lycor, Van Alessian's right hand, reported via the vox. "There were apparently demons inside the wreckage of CF-123, which they used as camouflage to get near our defenses, and now that they have gotten close enough, their on their way down here to the surface. The fleet is getting torn apart as we speak, the demons have already infiltrated several of the capital ships and are disrupting them, making them vulnerable for attack."
"But there are no other Chaos forces in the system?" Van Alessian asked.
"No sir, just the demons pouring from the ships."
"How many of them have been confirmed to be attacking us?"
"Several sir. The fleet Captain's report thousands of the things already on the field, and more coming in as they fought on."
"There has to be more coming." Van Alessian thought outloud. "Even if they destroy the fleet or cripple it they don't have the numbers to outright take Rynn's World in a frontal assault."
"I don't know about you sir, but they seem to be coming at a steady pace. But i'll leave the tactics to you. The 5th Company is already at New Rynn City and the 4th Company is making it's way here as fast as they can. We'll await your arrival."
"Understood. You have command until i return. Van Alessian out."
There was no one but himself inside the Thunderhawk, and Van Alessian felt an uncomfortable silence around him. A silence that had become almost disturbing after the constant clamor of war that he had heard for years straight after the 5th Company had been restored. He strapped himself into a harness, and heard as the landing gears of the gunship retracted and sunk back into the ship, and then the engines loudly humming until they fired off in a great wham and sent the Thunderhawk into the air. Van Alessian heard similar sounds further outside as four more of the gunships took off, sending the Captain's back to their Companies, aside from Segala, who stood at the airfield throwing orders at the squads of Astartes and Rynnsguard, readying defenses and placing men at key defensive points. Van Alessian felt more than confident in leaving Segala to defend Scar Lake. There were little more officers like him who took such care of the men under their command, and who kept a cool head under fire even as his brothers died around him. Even Lord Kantor was with him and his Company, and that alone was an advantage that could be taken advantage of.
The Thunderhawk of Captain Krugger fell straight behind Van Alessian's craft, while the other's separated and went off to their own areas to defend. Van Alessian knew he and Krugger would easily make it to their own Companies, but he wasn't so sure of the others. At the rate at which the demons were decending onto the surface, he was almost certain that the Captain's shipping off to Magalan would come under attack, and even Cazaquez had a chance of taking fire with the distance he had to travel.
"Sir, we will arrive at the city in approx. ten minutes." The pilot, Brother Alvarus said. Van Alessian was almost happy to have the chance to talk to someone, the grim silence around the troop compartment made him easily forget the friendly chat he would have with his brothers.
"Thank you pilot." Van Alessian said. "Do you have any more news on the battle?"
"There is a lot of vox chatter all across the planet. New Rynn City has been placed under full lockdown and the civilians have been moved under the cover of the void shields around the Imperial Palace alog with the government, and, the Rynnsguard at the perimeter trenches have reported sightings in low orbit. Were lucky we'll make it there in one piece sir, i just hope the others are as lucky." Alvarus said.
"The Emperor will decide their fate." Van Alessian said.
"As you say Captain. The Emperor protects." The pilot replied, half whispering as he prayed outloud.
Sergeant Renos of the 4th Company had seen many horrors during his life as an Astartes, including the Ork invasion of Rynn's World and Emperor-knows what else. He had walked from one hell to another, and survived on every turn, as the Emperor had carried him through every time. But now, now this hell was on his world, his home. The sky was lit up with brilliant explosions and flashes of Warp energy as the fleet battled with the demons. From all that Renos had heard, the demons were already making their way down to the surface. How they had managed to overpower the massive fleet was beyond him, but to be honest he didn't care at this point. The enemy was coming down to do battle with him and his brothers. Let them, they would be overcome like the scores of other enemies the Crimson Fists had defeated.
The trenches that he and the rest of the 4th Company were manning streched all the way across one end of New Rynn City to the other, and as he saw it were already more than enough to halt the enemy advance. The tough steel covered trenches were divided into three lines, with squads from the 4th Company reinforcing the Rynnsguard at all of them. Along with the Fists were thousands of Rynnsguard troopers well lined up in firing lines, Lasguns held before them and aimed at the open grounds. Heavy weapon teams were setting up Heavy Bolters, Auto Canons and other support weaponry along the defense, as the roar of engines sounded from further behind. Renos took a quick look behind him, and saw the familiar and welcoming sight of Basilisk self propelled guns lining up behind the third line, while Leman Russ tanks rolled into position to close choke points or bolster other areas with extra muscle. Manticore batteries also rolled into position, and were surrounded by squads of Rynnsguard, who had fortified the position around the guns. As there weren't all too many left, it was imperative that they were protected. Teams of Sentinel walkers pedalled around the perimeter, acting as fast moving fire support units to constantly keep the line reinforced. Renos had to admit, the Rynnsguard were a formidable force, even after the losses they endured when the Orks attacked. They would never admit it to an Astartes, but he felt confident enough admitting that if it were not for the Rynnsguard, Rynn's World would have fallen long ago.
The 4th Company was already set up along the perimeter. Tactical and Devastator Squads were positioned at every point where they could be mustered, most of them being stationed at ammo depots holding extra rounds for Lasguns, Bolters and other weaponry. Safeguarding these depots was critical. A line could not be held without weapons to do so. The Assault Squads were all positioned at the first line. If the demons got close, then they would have to grind through them to get any further. Meanwhile, the 4th Company's two Predator tanks lined up on the first line, the first armed with a deadly Astartes-pattern Auto Canon and the second boasting a twin-linked Las Canon. The few Land Speeeders available were patrolling the area along with the Sentinel's.
Renos looked one more time at his own Tactical Squad. Nine brothers, fully clad in their Mk.VIII Aquila armor and Bolters held at ready, were eyeing the ground before them with a steely gaze. Most of them had just gone through the Steeping and were newly raised Battle Brothers. But they were here, in this position, because they had been chosen as worthy. And Renos couldn't have found them more so.
"Sergeant Renos. What is your situation?" Lycor, the second-in command of the 5th Company called in.
Renos turned around, and could barely see a glimpse of an Astartes holding his hand over the vox on his helmet. Renos held up a hand with a thumb upwards. "Were all ready Sergeant Lycor."
"Good. The Captain's should be here any minute, and so should the demons." Lycor said.
"You just stick behind your cozy little walls up there. Let us trench swimmers handle the real work." Renos joked.
Lycor grinned. "I'll be here holding the door open when you flee behind our 'cozy little walls' sergeant. May the Emperor watch over us all."
"May the Emperor watch over us all." Renos repeated. "Anything else?"
"No, that will be all. Lycor out." And with that, the vox shut down.
Renos and Lycor maintained a friendly rivalry between themselves, one that had lasted for some decades now. Renos actually rather enjoyed it, something to do outside of all the fighting an the training of the squad.
The 5th Company itself had a few assets outside of the walls, although their main task was defending the city itself and keeping it as intact as possible. The Predator of the 5th rolled right between a gap in a trench, main gun aimed towards the skies, while a massive Land Raider Crusader roared into view. The sight of such a sacred and awe inspring vehicle was enought to lift the spirits of everyone here. The Hurricane Bolter sponsons along with it's twin-linked Assault Canon and Multi-melta were capable of wrecking an unimaginable level of destruction, even against demons.
"All Imperial forces! We have multiple aerial contacts closing onto our position!" The officer barked.
Aerial, Renos thought to himself and looked up. Indeed, there was a cloud of black forms heading downwards, and fast by the looks of it. And Renos knew those were no birds. Renos switched the iron sights on his Bolter upwards, and placed his finger on the trigger, and ordered his squad to do the same. Meanwhile, thousands of rifles and heavy weapons fixed their barrels to the sky. But although they were not defenseless against these flying demons, it was the worst type of situation that could happen now. The Devastators were unable to aim that high, and had to place their hopes in their Heavy Bolters if they came in even that low, and the same went for the Rynnsguard heavy weapon teams. Fortunately, the Leman Russ tanks and the Predator's had sufficient enough turrets to aim high and strike at the demons before they landed. Renos could even hear as the Predator next to him turned it's Auto Canon slightly to the left and then locked in place, gun aimed right at the approaching cloud.
"All units, prepare to open fire on the enemy air units! Manticore batteries, if you have a clear shot, take it now!" The same officer ordered to the Rynnsguard.
"Yes sir. Firing solution plotted. Manticore batteries preparing to fire." Another officer in one of the Manticore's said.
"Targets at six thousand kilometers, elevation 427, missiles locked onto targets." Another voice came through. "Sir, all batteries ready to fire."
"Very well. Manticore's, open fire!"
The missiles from the backs of the batteries whooshed into the air with a wail, and soared across the skies as they tracked down the massive cloud. As the cloud grew closer, the Predator with the Las Canon began to charge it's own main gun, and prepared to fire off a shot into the air. The demons flying downwards dispersed into multiple groups, but still maintained their course, as the missiles got closer. The defenders eyed with anticipation as the large projectiles swooped towards the enemy, and then finally landed on their targets. A series of additional explosions lit up the sky, and Renos could clearly see hundreds of demons scatter from the explosions and topple downwards as the shrapnel tore through their bodies. A wave of falling corpses collapsed to the ground, but another even larger wave of demons very much still alive, came hurtling down. The shrieks of the "bugs" could already be heard by the Astartes with their superior hearing. The Manticore's had certainly weakened the horde, but they had far from stopped it.
The Rynnsguard around the Manticore's quickly shoved additional missiles onto the backs of the batteries, as they readied another payload. But Renos already knew they didn't have enough time, at the rate in which the Mantcore's were being reloaded, the demons would make it down here long before they were done putting additional missiles on.
"4th Company! Ready weapons!" Renos barked through the vox, and the Crimson Fists fixed their aim and prepared to fire.
"Sergeant, we have two Thunderhawk's incoming on our position." An Astartes from somewhere along the trenches reported.
"Are they ours?"
"Yes sir. Their heading straight towards us. One of them is Captain Krugger."
Renos looked back at the demon horde, and then towards the direction where the Thunderhawks were reported from, and indeed, two faint forms of gunships could be seen heading towards the city. Renos quickly calculated that the Captain's could not possibly make it here before being taken down by the demons. The cursed things were moving too fast, even for the Thunderhawks, and had a head start nonetheless. He was quickly alerted back to reality when he heard a deafening shriek from one of the demons, and saw that they had gotten much closer over the time he had been talking over the vox.
"Then make sure they get here! All squads, open fire!" Renos ordered and fired away with his Bolter. Explosive bolts slammed into the front ranks of the demons, toppling dozens to the ground as the Astartes shots found their mark. Massive volleys of Las bolts soon followed, peppering the enemy with deadly bolts of energy fire. The demons swooped low, and readied for a charge as they decended low enough to get their hands onto a target and kill it. Hundreds of the fowl things were soon flying across the fields towards the trenches, showered by fire from the Imperial defenders that cut down scores of the bugs for every foot of ground they passed. The Rynnsguard heavy weapon teams turned their own guns forward, now that they had valuable targets at hand, and launched deadly fussilades towards the swarm, soon added to by the rythmic boom of battle canon shots from the Leman Russ tanks and the roar of numerous other weapons the defenders had at hand.
Renos low got a closer look at the damned creatures, and recognized them instantly when one of them got close enough for him to see clearly. These were Battle Flies, demons resembling corrupt, putrid insects. Giant and dangerous insects. They hald out their talons, dripping with venom and disease, and closed onto the defenders. Renos and his squad launched deadly volleys of Bolter shells at the things, killing dozens just by themselves, but the Flies just kept coming closer and closer. Renos could already hear the Assault Marines grinding apart demon bodies with their Chainswords and Rynnsguard screaming in panic as the Flies closed onto them for a close encounter. The plague-bearing fliers slammed into the Rynnsguard and Crimson Fists forces, picking off troopers from the ground and carrying them off into the air as they struggled in vain against their demon captors. Several of the Flies carrying Rynnsguard soldiers away were shot down, and thus sparing the Imperial soldiers the pain of being mutated into a horrid monster by these things, but a few managed to slip back into the clouds with their prey.
The Flies then came around for more runs, claws beheading Rynnsguard and Space Marines alike, or puncturing their armor and injecting the bodies with a deadly disease that coursed through their veins and poisoned their bloodstream, causing many more of the defenders to fall to the ground twisting and howling in agony as their bodies tore themselves apart. Renos swore and tracked down another bug with his sights that was hovering above them, and knocked it down with an accurate burst. Chaos ensued across the trenches, as Rynnsguard troopers and weapons crews were picked off one by one by the flies and several of the demons themselves fell to disclipined volleys of weapon fire. The tanks fired a few shots here and there with their main guns, blasting apart entire groups or knocking down neat rows of bugs with Heavy Bolter fire, but the cumbersome vehicles were too slow and not adequate for dealing with a threat like this.
"The artillery guns are under attack! Quick, get the crew behind these troopers, we have to protect them at all - AAAAHHHH!!!" The transmission was cut short, as a Battle Fly rammed into the barking officer and jabbed its two claws through it shoulders and carried the man off into the skies. A pair of Rynnsguard turned their rifles onto the Fly and blasted the thing from below, dropping the rotting corpse of their officer to the ground.
But the officer had been true with his last words. Flies were circling above the Basilisk's and Manticore's and picking at the crew of the guns with their claws or snatching them from the ground. Squads of Rynnsguard did their best to intercept, but there were too many of the bugs, and far too many of them defending the batteries, and they ended up as targets themselves over time. On the walls of the city, Renos could see the forms of more Astartes as the 5th Company manned the walls and dispensed their fury onto the Flies along with hundreds of more Rynnsguard now lined up in neat firing lines and launching volley after deadly volley.
"Sergeant Renos, what is going on down there?" It was Captain Krugger, and Renos saw his Thunderhawk nearing the trenches.
"Captain, do not land, the zone is hot!" Renos warned.
"Propesterous! I will see my own damn Company through this or die trying!" Krugger snapped back.
"Sir, i recommend you land in the city with Captain Van Alessian, it's not safe to land a Thunderhawk anywhere in the area, the demons have already swarmed the entirety of the trenches!"
"They will be everywhere soon enough! Renos, i will be landing momentarily along the second line, meet me there." Krugger ordered.
Renos bit his lip and shook his head. He didn't like the idea of his superior officer landing in the middle of a killzone, but orders were orders. "Yes, sir!"
Renos turned over to his squad. "Perotas, Silas and Phroneta, your with me, the rest of you stay here and cover the area!"
"Yes sergeant!" A battle brother acknowledged.
Lycor watched as the the swarms of Flies swept over the defenders in the trenches, picking off Rynnsguard and Astartes one by one with their corrupt claws. They were holding off valiantly, and were taking a grievous toll on the attacking demons, but still the loss of life on their side was incredible. Lycor saw more humans picked off into the skies or punctured by the diseased claws then he cared to think about. There were even casualties up on the city walls, although they were limited as the demons seemed to be focussing on the trenches.
"Sir, the Thunderhawk's are approaching." An Astartes reported from his side.
"Good. Have De Machcatos and his men meet the Captain there." Lycor ordered.
"Yes sir." The Astartes said with a salute.
Lycor turned around back towards the fields to fire his weapon, just when a Battle Fly screamed towards him, claws held out for the kill and buzzing loudly. Lycor quickly reacted, and put a Bolter rounds directly in the middle of it's forehead and watched as the Fly collapsed to the ground. Waves of the Flies approached the walls, but each was driven back by well placed volleys of Bolter and Lasgun fire from the defenders. Devastator Squads and heavy weapon teams, proved to be ideal in keeping the demons at bay, as they filled the air with streaks of Heavy Bolter shells and hot beams of Las and Auto Canons. The main focus of the demons was still the batteries of Manticore's and Basilisk SPG's, who's crews were being constantly harrassed by the flying demons. Lycor looked up to the Thunderhawks, and saw them approaching as planned. Captain Van Alessian's gunship was already getting past the walls, and Krugger's was not far behind, having almost reached the first trench line. The Flies here and then picked on the the gunships, but were driven back by focussed volleys of Heavy Bolter fire that kicked dozens out of the skies. Lycor waved a hand signal up at Sergeant Petrova and his Devastator's, ordering them to take some fire off the Thunderhawk. Petrova sent a hand signal back, and then ordered his four Astartes to fire onto the Battle Flies around Krugger's Thunderhawk. A pair of Las bolts and streaks of Heavy Bolter fire managed to force some of the demons away, but there were simply too many of them and they still poured on.
"Thunderhawk 2, what is your ETA?" Lyor asked via the vox.
"No...more than...two minutes...sergeant!" The pilot replied with some effort as he flew past the swarms of Battle Flies.
"Well try to make it faster then. The landing pads are waiting for you with repair crews."
"Not happening sergeant! Captain Krugger's orders, were landing on the trench line!"
"What!? Well ignore him pilot, if you land, the Flies will overwhelm your ship and most likely prevent you from taking off again!" Lycor retorted.
"I realize that, sergeant. But i have to go by the Captain's orders." The pilot insisted back.
Lycor was just about to reply to that, when another Astartes shook his shoulder and raised an armored finger towards the Thunderhawk. "Sergeant Lycor! Look!"
Lycor told the pilot to standby, and then looked to the direction where the Astartes had raised his hand, and focused his vision. At first he didn't see much more than the dark sky and swarms of gunfire pouring into the air, but as he looked more closely, he saw the sleek forms of half a dozen Hell Talons, Chaos air superiority fighters. Coming right towards the Thunderhawk. Cursing to himself, he reopened the vox to the Thunderhawk.
"Thunderhawk, correct your course, land in the city, you have Hell Talons on your six!" Lycor yelled.
"Hell Talons? Are you certain?" The pilot asked.
"Yes! Throne yes! Quickly, get behind the city walls or those fighters will drop you!"
"Alright, I'll inform the Captain."
The Thunderhawk made an adjustment to it's course only a few momnets later, bossting upwards from it's former path and making a way towards the city. Meanwhile, the 'Mantle of Pollux', Van Alessian's gunship, roared over the heads of the defenders, with a swarm of Flies around it. The Astartes and the Rynnsguard did their best to pick off the demons, but since they could no longer risk firing heavy weapons at it thanks to the ship's close proximity to the city, their Bolters and Lasguns were far less effective, paricularly the rifles utilized by the Rynnsguard troopers which were rendered almost obsolete as the Flies flew further and further out of range. But the Thunderhawk could take care of itself, even now, the Heavy Bolters on it were cutting down scores of the demons around it. Lycor looked down from the walls, and saw Sergeant De Machatos ordering his squad forward across the streets as they made their way towards the landing pads near by the Imperial Palace. If the demons were still alive by the time the 'Mantle of Pollux' landed, De Machatus would have to deal with them himself.
Lycor turned his gaze back to Krugger's Thunderhawk, which was only a few minutes away from the city walls. He noticed that the Battle Flies had broken off their attack on it, probably because of the Hell Talons. Lycor saw that the Devastator's and the heavy weapon teams were still picking off the enemy air units one by one, but the Hell Talons were too far away for them to do anything, too fast even more so. Lycor bit his lip, and prayed to the Emperor that Krugger would make it back here alive.
The Hell Talons now were sithin weapons range, and fired off with their Las Canons. Several beams of hot, burning lasers cut across the air, and impacted on the wall. Most of them did no damage, merely hitting the tough stoneworks and failing to do any real harm, but one of the bolts blasted straight through a Rynnsguard squad, killing half a doen outright and knocking a few more to the ground. The few survivors of that unit panicked, and ducked behind the wall with hands over their heads muttering and gasping in fear. A sergeant came along and barked them back into the line, but Lycor could clearly see their fear even as they levelled their rifles towards the enemy again. One of the Las bolts had grazed the side of the Thunderhawk, and had left a neat black line across it's armoring. The Hell Talons charged their weapons again, and prepared for another volley, but the Thunderhawk already passed over the walls and into the relative safety of the city. Lycor heard the 4th Company cheer below as they saw their Captain reach safety.
One of the new editions to the defense of Rynn's World was the turrets mounted onto the towers scattered across the walls of New Rynn City. These turrets, composed of twin-linked Las Canons and Heavy Bolters, now turned their aim towards the incoming Hell Talons, who were loosing shot after shot towards the walls with their weapons. Lycor saw one of the great turrets shift it's aim slightly to the right, and lock onto the narest enemy fighter with it's Las Canons. The two barrels heated up, and a red light fomed around the barrels of the turret, and then fired a pair of massive beams towards the Hell Talons. The shots struck their target dead on, tearing the fighter apart from the middle and forcing the other five to seek another place to attack. Lycor grinned as he saw how succesful the defense was going, but still wondered, how had the Hell Talons gotten here in the first place? There was no way they could have come from space, they were not designed for such travel, so they must have come from the ground. And if that was true, then the Chaos forces were already set up on the planet itself.
"Lycor this is Van Alessian come in." Van Alessian said through the vox.
"I read you sir." Lycor replied.
"Were on our way towards the walls, but there are multiple hostiles already inside the city, and not just Battle Flies. We have received contact from Bloodletters as well."
"Bloodletters? How did they get into the city?"
"I don't know, the demons are appearing everywhere with their leasure. Watch your selves out there sergeant, and keep the defense intact. I'll be there momentarily. Van Alessian out."
Lycor was about to turn around to look at the city streets for Bloodletters, just when single units units of the vile and horned demons started to appear acorss the city walls and cutting their way across the Imperials. Then the real slaughter began.
"Squad! Form up on me! We need to push back to the walls!" Van Alessian roared at the ten Crimson Fists behind him.
Sergeant De Machatos and his men followed the Captain's orders and fell behind him in an orderly crest formation, Bolters tracking movement. The resistance they had encountered upon landing was unexpected to say the least, as a group of Bloodletter demons had appeared out of nowhere and attacked them upon arrival, ruthlessly butchering the Rynnsguard engineers and troopers around the landing zone. Shortly after De Machatos and his men had taken care of them though. The city streets had been completely abandoned, with the tens of thousands of civilians all rushed into the Imperial Palace, guarded by it's Void Shields. The Palace had not been attacked yet, thanks largely to the Shields of course, and it was unlikely that it would be attacked for some time now with the majority of Imperial forces stationed on the city perimeter. A few platoons of Rynnsguard still patrolled the city here and there, clearing out demons the best they could, but other than the occasional pack of Bloodletters there was little for them to do.
The small band of Astartes now advanced along a long street leading up to the market square. There were clear signs that this had been a scene of extreme panic and also a small battle. Scattered supply crates and family heirlooms lay here and there, along with stains of blood and blast marks from Lasguns. There were several of the rifles laying across the streets, and even a pintle-mounted Heavy Bolter that had been tipped over, and the ammunition scattered onto the concrete ground. But there was no sign of bodies anywhere, which Van Alessian considered odd, even disturbing. Clearly Rynnsguard had died here, but where were they now? He shook his head and dismissed the thought. Now was not the time to concern himself with the disappearance of a few dozen dead men.
They continued along the streets until they finally reached the market square. Van Alessian had been here once before, during the Ork invasion of Rynn's World, and he felt a spark of guilt at seeing the place like this again: the life and energy pried away by the cold fingers of war and death. Van Alessian shook his head in dismay as they passed along the square, weapons still scanning for movement, and took care to see if there were any humans left for him to assist in this area. The Rynnsguard had supposedly evacuated everyone behind the walls of the Palace, but he preferred to be sure himself.
"Captain." De Machatos said, another hand on his vox. "I have something."
"What is it?" Van Alessian asked.
"I'm not entirely sure sir. It's a transmission for sure, but it's faint. Could be Imperial though."
"Demons do not communicate via vox channels." Van Alessian admitted.
"Should we investigate sir?" De Machatos asked.
Van Alessian considered it for a moment. It was hardly surprising that some damaged vox mast or dead Rynnsguard was stuck transmitting a signal upon their unfortunate demise, so on most parts he didn't pay much note to it. But if he knew De Machatos as well as he thought he did, then indeed something may be off. The dead serious and realistic veteran warrior had a knack for spotting trouble in places it was most unlikely to appear. Van Alessian sighed and turned over to the two nearest battle brothers, Paritas and Doria.
"You two, head over to the source of that transmission and investigate. If nothing turns up report back to your squad. If however you do find a threat, i expect you to destroy it." He ordered.
The two Astartes saluted with a slam to their chestplate. "Yes sir!"
Both massive, armored giants hefted their weapons, and stompped off towards the west in a series of loud thuds as their adamantium boots hammered against the stone ground. Van Alessian watched them disappear into the streets, hoped he had made the right decisoin in sending them away, and then ordered the rest of the squad forward. But as their luck would have it, they would not be alone for long.
"Sir, wing vibration detected to the south!" De Machatos yelled.
Battle Flies, Van Alessian thought instincetively and reached for his Storm Bolter and Power Sword, drawing both weapons. The rest of Koribas Squad quickly formed a circle, facing in every direction and ready to take the enemy head on. The vibrations got closer and closer, until finally they reached the Astartes, and a horde of screaming Flies decended on the small circle of super soldiers, claws streched out for the kill. The Crimson Fists opened fire, knocking several down in a blaze of Bolter fire. Purely through disclipined fire control, were the Astartes holding the tide back.
But the real slaughter was only just about to begin.
PART III: Doors to Hell
Renos watched as another Astartes, Brother Silas, was picked off from the ground and brutally decapitated by another Battle Fly, as he and his small band of Crimson Fists tried to make it back into the trenches. The veteran sergeant swore under his breath for his bad luck. The Thunderhawk of Captain Krugger had not landed here as intended, but instead had double timed into the city, leaving him and his fire team exposed, and that had already cost him a second Astartes on this day.
He fired a swift burst over the heads of his other two fellow Space Marines, blasting Battle Flies to pieces with explosive bolts. The other two Astartes, Phroneta and Perotas, added to the volley and supported their sergeant with shots of their own, crushing the first ranks of Battle Flies. Renos barked an order for his men to get back into cover, and the two Astartes instinctively followed their orders and went towards the trenches. Renos himself stayed behind for a little longer, and made sure that his men reached safety, after all, what kind of leader would he be if he didn't see that his men made it out alive? As soon as he saw the two massive warriors reach the trenches, he himself turned his gaze from the skies and began sprinting towards them.
The battle had not changed all too much. The Flies were still pouring in huge masses from the skies, flying straight into the guns of the Rynnite and Astartes defenders. Casualties were being reported everywhere, but overall, the defense was going well. The artillery guns were still intact, the Flies being held off well enough so that the Manticore's could occasionally pluck a missile or two into the air, and the tanks and heavy weapons crews were faring more than well in holding the line. Even as the Chaos Hell Talon fighters, as unexpected at this stage as it was, had been succesfully driven back, with all six of them either shot down or driven back. There had been no contact from actual Chaos Space Marines or any enemy armored units yet, but Renos knew it was only a matter of time. An invasion of this scale would have all the support needed to sustain one of it's kind.
Renos leaped into the trenches, landing with a loud thud and kicking up dirt from the ground, and immediately set his Bolter against the edge of his cover and began looking for new targets. As he leveled his sights on a Battle Fly, he heard the distinctive screech of one just behind him, and turned around to see one coming straight at him, claws out streched and dripping with a mixture of human blood and fungus. A pair of Rynnsguard troopers blocked the path of the Fly and raised their Lasguns to shoot, but the demon was faster, and soon both troopers screamed in agony as a pair of poisoned claws rammed into their chests, rotting their way past their flesh and instantly killing them. Renos raised his Bolter with one hand to fire, but the corpse of one of the troopers was shoved at him, with enough force for it to knock the weapon out of his hands. The sergeant cursed and threw the rotten body aside and turned back to his foe, but the Fly was already upon him, claws only milliseconds away from his skull. Renos prepared to greet death straight in the eye, but before he had the chance, the Fly was sliced neatly in half by a pair of shots. Renos looked to the sound of the firing to thank his savior, and much to his joy he saw the armored form of Captain Krugger before him. The 4th Captain was clad in a glorious set of Power Armor filled with golden trimming and purity seals, along with the insignia of the Crimson Fists clad on his right shoulder pad. In his hands he held a smoking, silver plated Bolt pistol, and an active Power Axe, humming with deadly energy. The Rynnsguard and the rest of the 4th Company immediately noticed his arrival, and cheered at the site of such a legendary figure to arrive on the battlefield.
Krugger stepped down into the trenches, and walked over to Renos, who saluted his Captain with a slam to his chestplate.
"Captain, sir! I owe you my life!" Renos thanked.
"Pleasantries can wait for after we drive these heretics off this world sergeant." Krugger grunted and reached for Renos' fallen Bolter and handed it back to him. "Tell me, what is going on in my battle line?"
"Moderate losses sustained across all trenches Captain, but the Battle Flies and Chaos aircraft are being held off. There has been no sighting of any hostile armor yet, nor any sign that the Black Legion itself would be here." Renos reported.
"This could all be just a preemptive strike." Krugger admitted.
Both Astartes were distracted by another wave of shrieks, as more Battle Flies dived in low for another round of decapitation and body snatching. Krugger turned his pistol at them and fired, landing a shot directly in the middle of one of the Flies' plague-riddled foreheads. Renos began gunning down the demons as well, along with the rest of the defenders.
"Here they come! Hold your positions men, we must not let them get past this line!" Krugger roared and launched a burst from his Bolt pistol.
A Fly was cut down from the air by the hail of explosive bolts, and several more fell as the members of Renos' squad and the Rynnsguard rallied behind the massive armored giant. Dozens fell, but some made it through the hail of gunfire and tore at the defenders with putrid claws, shredding flesh apart and shattering corpses with brutal diseases. Renos watched as a Fly rammed into the chest of an Astartes right next to him, and thrust a claw towards his chestplate. But the veteran warrior reacted swiftly and raised his shoulder pad before the strike, and the claw barely elluded the skin on him. The Fly shrieked, and the Astartes responded by bringing his Bolter arm about and slamming the creature to the ground, and then quickly finishing him off by splattering his head over the trench with a well blaced Bolter round.
Across the defense line, Crimson Fists and Rynnsguard continued to fight bravely, keeping the enemy at bay purely through disclipined fire control and well placed thrusts and slashes from bayonets and swords. The Land Raider of the 5th Company, the Hammer of Dorn, continued to dispense death at a furious rate across the battlefield, it's massive armament of weapons cutting down swaths of demons at a time. Even the Chaos fighters who had hit it with missiles and Las canons, had failed to do any damage to it, and were merely prompting it to seek another area where they may not reach him with their weapons. Renos would have thought that the battle was completely under control, had the following never occured.
The shrieks of Battle Flies were soon joined by whistles from rockets and volleys of Bolter and other weapons coming from across the field. Except these were not from the Imperials, but from the tide of Black Legion forces charging across the fields before New Rynn City towards the defense line. Renos was about to point the suddenly arrived threat, when a massive explosion shook the ground below him and knocked him off his feet. Renos' HUD hissed with static and he looked around to see the extent of the damage. Krugger had only been scarred across his armor thank the Emperor, but the bodies of three Rynnsguard troopers lay directly beside him, torn apart by shrapnel. Renos knew that such a shot could have only come from a heavier weapon, presumably a missile or a plasma round. He helped the Captain to his feet, and they both peered over the edge of the trench to see what lied beyond them.
"Captain, are you alright?" Renos asked.
"Yes damn it." He grunted. "What the hell was that?"
"Sir, if you would take a moment to look over there." Renos suggested and pointed out towards the field.
Thousands upon thousands of dark forms were marching across the fields, mostly built of renegade Imperial Guardsmen or other cultists, supported by the bulky forms of Chaos Space Marines behind them, clad in pitch black armor and with deathly red eye slits. Their armor appeared as spiked and horned giants riddled with dark relics and insignia's, and their crude weapons spat deadly rounds towards the defenders. Scattered across them were Chaotic Predator tanks and other vehicles, along with several Defiler's armed with deadly auto canons and missile tubes. As the Imperial armor and heavy weapon specialist's turned their aim on the new threat, missiles and energy rounds began slamming against the Black Legion forces, and soon the great tide of black was dotted with brilliant explosions as the Imperial shots found their marks and hit home. The Battle Flies also relented their attack, and were slowly starting to back away from the trenches either towards the city itself or away from the battlefield towards other areas. Renos raised his Bolter and began firing, yelling out a battle cry as he did so. He fired without aiming, for he knew that no man could miss such a huge amount of enemies in the open.
The sounds of Bolter fire became more and more faint as the two Astartes Van Alessian had sent to investigate the anomaly, Paritas and Doria, pressed on through the streets of New Rynn City. Here and then, they would encounter slain Rynnsguard or civilians, brutally sliced into shreds by a blade in melee combat or torched by infernal fire. The two Crimson Fists though, had not encountered any enemies yet themselves.
"Paritas, Doria, come in." It was Captain Van Alessian.
Both Astartes paused to listen, and Paritas responded first. "Go ahead Captain."
"Black Legion forces have just entered the battlefield in massive numbers. Were going to need everyone at the walls to hold the city. Finish up investigating that anomaly and then join your squad."
"Understood, any losses on your end?"
"We lost one, but all the Flies are dead. Were pushing forward to the walls."
"Yes sir. Paritas, out."
He got off the vox and then turned to Doria and hefted his Bolter. "Lets move, Captain needs us at the walls as soon as possible."
Doria merely nodded, and the two continued to advance forward, and they soon got closer and closer to the anomaly so that it was already clear on their scanners, indicated as a large red blip that constantly flashed. Both Astartes braced themselves for any possible contact, and advanced weapons held before them and tracking for targets. Sounds could already be faintly heard as well, dark whispers speaking in a cursed tongue that made both Space Marines move on even faster as they grew weary of what may lie beyond them. As they advanced forward, they came to a cross section and turned right from there, and they both could have sworn that the area was getting darker and darker the deeper they went towards the anomaly. Several ideas of what it could be already arose into Paritas' mind: a Chaos portal, a bomb, a malfunctioning weapon or maybe even a demon spawn waiting to be unleashed? He still hoped he was wrong on all accounts.
It was now clear where the anomaly was coming from. From inside an ordinary civilian housing just around the next corner. And the signal was now stronger than ever. As they neared the anomaly, their vox's went heywire and soon whined loudly in their ears and cut them off from the rest of their squadmates. Paritas swore quietly and then noticed something else: his HUD was gone. The auspex scanner was offline, his vox no longer functioned, and even his tracking systems didn't work. There was only a blank glass plating before him. He looked over to Doria, and he too acknowledged he had the same flaws with his helmet systems. Disturbing, to say the least, but a problem they could deal with.
"The signal came from this building. Watch my back, I'm going in first." Paritas said.
"Got it." Doria nodded back.
Paritas went over to the door, while Doria watched their rear, and launched a powerful kick, shattering the wooden entryway and puffing up a cloud of smoke and dust. He then entered the building, squeezing himself through the tight doorway as he struggled to enter in his bulky Power Armor. He finally managed to push into the building, and noticed his HUD was still offline. He considered removing the helmet, but then reminded himself that he would only be exposing himself if doing so and kept it tightly on. Doria followed him closeby, and both Astartes then advanced forward, Bolters tracking for movement. The house was very dimly lit, with only a couple flickering lights still on, and the walling was wrecked and even crisped at several parts. Weary of what they might find, both Crimson Fists pressed on, until they finally came upon the anomaly a moment later.
The entire center of the building had been burned away by demonic fire, and had been replaced by a burnt crater riddled with ash and dark stone. But it wasn't this that concerned Paritas, but instead the Chaotic...things he witnessed next. Standing a circle, a pack of Bloodletter demons stood around a swirling ring of red liquid, and both of the Astartes instantly recognized it as blood, human blood. The idea of humans being sacrificed like this was brutal enough, but the added effects of body parts and human bones twirling amongst the blood ring made it only even more disgusting. The Bloodletters took no notice to the two massive armored giants behind them, and instead continued chanting and hissing around the ring. Around the ring od demons, Paritas recognized the remains of several Rynnsguard troopers, one of which still had the remains of a vox caster on it's back, barely recognizeable anymore from under the sheet of blood, but a caster nonetheless. It must have gotten stuck on transmit when the carrier died.
Paritas tightened his grip on his Bolter, and turned over to Doria, who had done the same.
"What in the Emperor's name is this?" He asked, puzzled and disgusted at the same time.
"Does it matter?" Doria grunted and aimed with his weapon, and then fired.
The bolt impacted right on the skull of the nearest demon, and blasted it's head away in a flash of demonic fire and ichor. The body fell, and then disappeared in the same fashion. Doria and Paritas both opened fire, cutting down even more of the demons, but still they paid no attention to the Astartes. Paritas, getting a feeling that something was terribly wrong here, paused firing for a moment and grabbed a frag grenade from his side and prepared to toss it into the pack of demons.
Just then, the ring exploded into a massive pillar of blood, drowning all the demons around it into the massive pile of red, and knocking Paritas and Doria from their feet. Cursing the demons, Paritas looked around him for any signs of damage, and saw that the entire area had been turned red with blood, and the demons were completely gone, along with any remains of their human sacrifices. In the middle where the ring of blood had been was now a massive cloud of smoke, obscuring anything that may be inside. His Power Armor had also been washed with blood, and he was forced to wipe the red liquid from his visor to make sense of anything. As he brushed his gauntlet across his visor, he noticed that his HUD started to come back online. The first thing to come back was his targetting system, and the golden crosshairs immediately locked onto a new target. Paritas swore and reached for his Bolter, grabbing the weapon firmly with both hands and then getting to his feet so he could effectively go prone. His wated for another few seconds, and then switched his thermal vision on through the neural relays connecting his brain and thoughts to his armor. He couldn't make it out clearly, but in the middle of the pillar of smoke was deffinetly something. Through his thermals he could see a large red blip, clearly moving about, and straight towards him.
Paritas was about to call out Doria's name, when the Astartes suddenly burst out from his left, Bolter barking loudly in his hands and swinging his Knife in the other. Paritas cried out a warning to his brother not to engage the target, they had no idea what it was. But Doria was as headstrong as his reputation said. He threw himself into a melee with whatever was inside the pillar, and managed to swing a few hits on his target. But it didn't serve the valiant Astartes long, as there was a blur of movement around him, and Paritas saw his life signs disappear from his HUD, and heard the clang of Power Armor crashing to the ground.
Paritas was about to run after his brother, when he saw the creature moving towards him.
"Burn demon!" Paritas roared and fired at the approaching monstrosity, setting his Bolter to full auto and spraying the creature with explosive shells.
Van Alessian and Koribas Squad had finally reached the city's walls. The entire 5th Company was organized across it just as planned, along with thousands of Rynnsguard. Many had already fallen, some to the decent of the Battle Flies, others to the heavy fire coming from the Black Legion troops at the field. The enemy vastly outnumbered the defenders, there must have been tens of thousands pouring across the open fields, supported by an unprecidented number of vehicles and demon engines. Gun and artillery fire was hammering the valiant defenders on every turn, peppering the defenses with explosive death. But even in the face of such odds, the Rynnite's and Astartes seemed to be faring well. Hundreds of the heretics fell for every foot of ground they gained, and the foe was constantly forced to march over and across smoldering and mangled corpses of their own dead and burning wrecks of their tanks. The Battle Flies had, at least for the moment, relented their attack and pulled back toards the west, perhaps searching for more humans to prey on?
"Captain!" It was Lycor. Van Alessian turned to meet his old friend and second-in-command. He was uninjured, thank the Emperor, the Company's position on the walls had served his health well.
"Sergeant. The defense seems to be going well from all that i can see." Van Alessian said.
"Yes sir! At least here in the city it is. The Black Legion has been hitting us hard since they appeared, but their assault is weakening before it has even properly begun. With the way they are advancing and the losses we are inflicting on them, i reckon we can easily halt them here."
"Good. The bulk of their troops will try to take the capital. If we can break their forces here, we can topple the rest of the invasion with ease." Van Alessian walked a little closer to the edge of the walls to get a better view of the battlefield. "How is it down at the trenches?"
"They have taken the worst of the enemy attack sir. We have reports of heavy casualties from the Rynnsguard on all sides and Captain Krugger has reported at least a dozen Astartes deaths thus far. Our artillery also took some hits from the Flies, and it has taken some time to get replacement crews, but any minute now they should all be firing."
Conveniantly enough, just as Lycor said that, the vast battery of Manticore's and Basilisk Self Propelled Guns lowered their massive weapons towards the approaching horde of Chaos Space Marines and cultists. Lycor held his finger tips over his helmet, and then muttered something back and looked over to Van Alessian. "Captain, the Rynnite commander in charge of the artillery has been killed, they are requesting firing orders from you. The artillery command post is still operational tho."
Van Alessian raised an eyebrow. "Very well." He opened a vox to the artillery command. "Artillery, this is Van Alessian. Order all Basilisk's to switch to Earthshaker rounds and target the infantry and have the the Manticore's lock onto enemy vehicles. Fire when ready."
"Copy that my lord!" Officers below were crying out commands to the crew, and then, moments later, held their arms towards the enemy troops and yelled a sharp command. A massive fussilade artillery shells and missiles wooshed out of the battery, and some seconds later, landed with furious retribution onto the enemy. Hundreds of enemy infantry knocked off their feet or thrown into the air and killed, while enemy tanks and engines crumbled into ruin, crushing even more of the foe under their burning metal hides. Van Alessian made a satisfied grin to himself.
"Fine work, continue likewise!" He quickly complimented the crew and then turned back to his own men. "How is the rest of the planet faring?"
"Captain Cazaquez is holding position and reports that the enemy has actually made little to no progress in even closely coming to overrun his men, they appear to just be sending massive amounts of cultists and other renegades as canon fodder for his men. He suspects that it may be a prelude to a larger attack.
"The defense of Blackwater is going well, the Crusade Company is holding the enemy back for now, although they have managed to breach into the city itself already.
"The Rynnsguard artillery batteries are still operational. Our own men have managed to keep them intact thus far, and Lord Kantor and Captain Segala have managed to keep Scar Lake secure. So i would say that it is going well sir, but there is one problem."
"Oh? And that would be?" Van Alessian asked.
"It's Captain Schyma, sir. His Thunderhawk never made it to it's position. It was shot down near the cost of Magalan and it is now completely surrounded by the enemy sir." Lycor reported grimly.
"Is the Captain still alive?" Van Alessian asked.
"Yes sir. He has held his own for a while now, the co-pilot of the Thunderhawk also survived the crash but is wounded. The 6th Company's Apothacery and a full battalion of Rynnsguard are inbound for rescue."
"Can the Rynnite's match the Chaos Space Marines?" Van Alessian asked. He knew all too well how...difficult it was, for any ordinary soldier to take down a Traitor Marine.
"The enemy force around the Thunderhawk is mostly cultists and defector Guardsmen. There are only a few renegade Astartes there acting as leaders for the pack sir. The Apothacery is confident that his men can handle it." Lycor said.
"Very well then. Let us hope they do." Van Alessian hoped.
Next, like the break of glass, Van Alessian could hear the clear sound of humans screaming out in pain, and turned left to the source of the sound and peered around the walls. There were Rynnsguard casualties lying here and there, but he could see that these screams were not coming from up the walls, but below instead. Lycor had heard it too along with another Astartes next to them, thanks to their advanced hearing. All three of them looked down, and scanned the area with their visored eyes, the target tracker in their HUD searching for fresh kills. They looked around for a time, and then Lycor gently bumbed his elbow into Van Alessian and nodded to a direction downwards. Van Alessian and the other Astartes looked there too. He and his two brothers smirked at the sight; below were the butchered corpses of a full squad of Rynnsguard troopers, which had been brutally deformed by whatever had attacked them, their bodies torn to pieces or mangled into unrecognisable piles of crushed flesh and bone. There was no sign of whatever had done this to those troopers, to make things worse. But this much was clear; the city had been compromised. Something was inside this place, and not even Bloodletters left behind corpses like that.
"Are we sure we got all the Bloodletters?" Lycor asked.
"Even if we did, more could easily come here without us noticing. And Bloodletters dont kill like that, something else is in this city." Van Alessian said and turned over to the Astartes next to him. "You, brother, your with us. We need to get down there and find whatever did this. I sense something more sinister and vile has breached the city then lesser demons."
"Understood my Lord." The Astartes acknowledged.
"Lycor, leave your best man in charge of your squad and follow me. We need to find this thing before it kills more of our men." Van Alessian said and took his Storm Bolter into both of his hands and went through one of the wall's defense towers into a staircase that led down into the city streets where this monster was no doubt lurking in wait of more human flesh to tear apart.
The Thunderhawk of Toren Schyma had been shot down just on the coast of Magalan, about seven kilometeres away from one of the Rynnsguard missile batteries. Chaos Hell Talon's had intercepted their flight course, and although the pilot evaded them for a time, and even managed to shoot down some of their pursuers, against such nimble air craft the bulky gunship never really stood a chance. Shells from assault canons and warp-infused missiles impacted against the Thunderhawk, all but destroying it's engines and sending it on a deadly colision course down to the surface. The pilot had managed to steer the ship away from plumetting into the water and drowning the 6th Captain, but although he had managed to save Schyma from certain death in the waves of the Aegean, the Crimson Fist was in grave danger nonetheless. The Thunderhawk crashlanded into the coast, with his only way into safety behind the guns of the Rynnsguard regiment guarding the nearest battery was straight forward across the open into the thick treeline ahead. Scyhma had managed to survive, thanks only to the efforts of his Brother-pilots, who all died in the crash. Schyma's armor was still intact, and his Power Weapon -in the form of a deadly mace- was still on his belt, crackling with deadly energy as he flicked the power onto the weapon and gripped it tightly around its steel and leather pole. His Grav Pistol was also still functional, along with a single Krak grenade. The Crimson Fists had been among the first to wield the newly created Grav-weaponry in forms of hand held weapons. Capable of punching through armor, flesh and even thick concrete alike, Schyma felt a teedy-bit of the Emperor along with him every time he grasped the pistol. Clipping his mace to his belt, fastening his grenade and then drawing his pistol,Schyma made for the assault ramp of the Thunderhawk, which had been partially opened in the crash. He shoved aside fallen harnesses and pieces of the troop compartment, as well as the tactical display which had fallen down from the roof and was now flashing sporadically as a result of internal damage suffered in the Hell Talon attack.
He reached the the stud with which to open the ramp, and pressed it, but without any results. He grunted and cursed the Chaos pilots, and then tried a few more times, but only managed to make it jerk down a little. Using his grenade would probably tear the armor on the ramp open, but it was better used to tear apart Chaos Space Marines then malfunctioning ramparts. Thus, Schyma took a few steps back, aimed his Grav Pistol at the ramp, and gently pulled the trigger. The heavy pistol kicked in his hand, and sent a powerful gravimetric bolt at the ramp. The shot slammed against the ramp with brutal efficiency, and Schyma once again witnessed the potent power of Grav-weaponry. The shot turned the very own mass of the ramp against itself, as it was crushed under its own steely weight and began to tear down and fall apart. Soon, nothing but tingling mass of steel remained from where he had fired the weapon, and Schyma stepped from inside the wreck of the Thunderhawk, remarking the power of his weapon.
Once outside, he attempted to contact nearby Imperial forces, and was indeed replied to by one Colonel Arian Stiras. Schyma informed him of the situation, and asked if any other Crimson Fists were near the area. To his disdain, none of Schyma's Tactical Marines were close enough to come to his side quickly and form a defense, as they were busy finding their way to their own objectives or gathering scattered pickets of their fellow Scouts who had been forced to seperate when some of their gunships crashed and Chaos hunting parties came after them. From the Intel he gathered from Stiras, two more Thunderhawks of the 6th Company had been shot down when some of the more isolated batteries not needing any Astartes support for now had diverted their Space Marines to batteries already under attack. The squad sergeants had survived, and reported that they were making their way to their objectives. One Astartes had died in the crashes, another three were wounded and one was still missing. All the batteries in Southern, western and eastern Magalan were either under attack or reported that enemies would soon be upon them, the northern batteries were all unscathed and still well guarded, and were firing missiles at any Chaos troops they could fire at. Schyma could infact occasionally see missiles in the distance soar across the skies and then land on the ground with a tremendeous explosion. Schyma asked Stiras for the status of his battery, and informed that they had only just repelled an attack from a horde of Chaos demons and were now tending their wounded and refortifying their posts. Schyma also received news that the Apothacery of the 6th, Theros Juno, was among them, whom the Colonel greatly complimented for his skills and also for saving the lives of many of his men. Typical for the 6th Company was to show high, almost unusual care towards regular humans -even for Crimson Fists- and they often treated them as brothers just as they did each other, and would not hesitate to risk their own lives to save those of Rynnsguard or other humans. A trait they had adopted from their Captain.
Schyma informed Stiras he was enroute to the battery, and then started marching in that direction. However, as he went there, he noticed that the air around him began shifting, changing, and moving. Weary, he raised his pistol and prepared to face the enemy, an enemy that appeared only moments later. A dozen warp portals opened up around him, and from their writhling mass of black and purple energy, a dozen black-armored Chaos Space Marines appeared, led by an Aspiring Champion clad in Terminator Armor riddled with Chaos markings and the skulls of enemies he had slain in battle. In one hand the Champion held a Storm Bolter with a massive cleaver fixed under it, and in the other a large axe swirling with warp powers. The giant Chaos warrior bellowed a command, and the dozens of Chaos Marines opened fire on Schyma with their Bolters and showered him with hundreds of explosive shells. Schyma ducked, and then ran a few paces back to cover in the Thunderhawk and went to his knees behind a piece from the right wing of the gunship. He took a few seconds to peek from cover and aim, and fire his weapon the Black Legionnaires. One of the traitors was caught straight in the stomach by the grav bolt, and the results of the shot were hideous. The bolt instantly turned the very own mass and weight of the Chaos Marine against him, as the happless warrior was crushed under the bulk of his ceramite plate, forcing the Marine to drop his weapon, as he was now unable to hold it up any longer, and then crash to the ground and perish under the several tons of his own Power Armor. Schyma had no time to rejoice his kill, as a pair of bolts landed directly next to his head and forced him to seek cover.
Knowing he would need help, Schyma had called Colonel Stiras and requested reinforcements at his position. Although Schyma could sense the Rynnite officer' concern of deviating men from protecting one of the frontline batteries, nonetheless he agreed to send help, even if he had no choice as it was an Astartes Brother-Captain giving the orders. Schyma was also glad to hear that Juno would be leading the reinforcements to him, and the Apothacery set off with a full battalion to relieve his Captain. Although Rynnsguard were perhaps no match for Chaos Marines in a single fight, many of them with their Lasguns' combined fire could easily take down any heretic. As Schyma awaited for Juno and his battalion to arrive, he continued to hold his ground against his assailants carried on to brutally rain fire upon his position, leaving him little choice but to stay behind cover and sometimes take a pot shot at his enemies. But knowing Juno and the brave men and women of the Rynnsguard were well on their way, Schyma continued to fight on, and held high hopes for his brothers in arms.
Van Alessian advanced through the butchered corpses of the Rynnsguard troopers that the demon had slain with his two fellow Astartes, weapons held before them and ready to meet the foe. Van Alessian had his Storm Bolter out, holding it with both hands while his blade rested on its scabbard, Lycor was tracing for the demon with his silver plated Boltgun and the Astartes they had taken with them was armed with a deadly Meltagun. The demon had left a hideous trail of dead in It's wake, the Rynnsguard were all torn and mangled, their limbs sticking from inside their broken bodies and their blood and gore spilled onto the concrete streets of New Rynn City. Van Alessian recognized a crackling energy sword, now broken in half by the battle, and the decapitated corpse of the Rynnite lieutenant who once owned the blade. The head had been torn off from the officer in a brutal fashion, clearly not by any weapon, but instead appeared to have been torn off or crushed by bare hands.
"The foe is clearly not a professional." Lycor said.
"Im not quite certain demons fall under the category of specialized soldiers, sergeant." Van Alessaian grinned, and stepped over the body of another dead trooper.
"Brother, watch the rear, and keep us appraised of any trouble." Van Alessian ordered.
The voice clearly belonged to a Space Marine, but it was a voice in pain and of a dying man. Van Alessian and Lycor knew to suspect the worse, and spun around with their guns raised. The battle-brother that had come with them was still standing, but his body was steadily collapsing, his Bolter having fallen to the ground and a giant wound embedded in the middle of his chest. A few seconds, later, the armored corpse of the Crimson Fist fell, and Van Alessian advanced a few paces forward with his Storm Bolter cocked and ready. Suddenly, the demon appeared out of no where, and leaped from the midst of the thick fog caused by gunfire and explosions, and swung one of its deformed arms at Van Alessian. The blow knocked the armored Astartes Captain back, and caused his Storm Bolter to fall from his hands and dislodged his helmet off. Van Alessian in the confusion didn't see Lycor fire a few shots at the charging demon, all bolts striking true but failing to stop it. The demon then cleaved towards the sergeant, who rolled from under the blow only to be struck by a second blow which sent him flying acorss the air until he slammed against the wall with a puff of dust and stone. Van Alessian quickly regained his footing, drawing his Power Sword out and turning to face the demon.
It was by far one of the most hideous sights Van Alessian had seen in his life. The demon stood on two thin, fleshy legs and was composed of the twisted corpses of several humans, whos faces could still be seen among the body of the warp-spawned horror. Human skin with demonic flesh and seeping ichor exposed from some parts under it wrapped the demon, who's two arms were little more then iant claws hissing with a demonic tongue Van Alessian could not even recognize. The single, giant eye, was above a horendous mouth which bore dozens of vicious teeth in its round form. It was smeared in the blood of the numerous people it had slain in the streets of the city. Van Alessian also saw several burn marks from lasguns, and impact marks from Bolt-weapons and even shrapnel and chainsword wounds on it.
"Demon filt!" He roared and leaped at it, Power Sword raised. He cleaved at the demon, his blade cutting open the skin around it and spitting out blood. The beast yelled out in anger, and struck back at Van Alessian. The Captain attempted to dodge the blow, but was a second too slow and the demon's new strike sent him flying across the air until he slammed into the paved streets of the city. His sword had also been knocked out of his hands. Van Alessian cursed his luck, and then got to his knees, only to see the Chaotic monstrosity charge at him again, yelling in an utterly demonic tone. No one up at the walls seemed to have noticed it as they were focused on the main battle at the walls and trenches.
"Come on you bastard - " Van Alessian said as he drew his combat knife and unclipped a krak grenade from his belt. However, as he was about to throw the grenade, the demon was struck by a vicious barrage of explosive shells, followed by a quick blast that must have been from a heavy weapon, as it caused a great explosion that knocked the demon back. The monster was now severely wounded, with much of its body now torn to bloody ribbons, yet still the foul magics empowering it enabled the demon to carry on. Van Alessian turned around to see the source of the shot that crippled the demon, and from amidst the smoke and fog, a Leman Russ tank rolled into view, its Heavy Bolters and Battle Canon spitting out the wrath of the Emperor at the demon. The Canon roared a second time, and now the shot blasted the demon to pieces and utterly destroyed most of its body.
Relieved, Van Alessian picked himself up, set his weapons back into his belt, and marched up to meet the tank commander who had now popped up from his hatch. He wore a dark blue uniform with golden trimming, along with an officer's cap with the Imperial Eagle embedded to it. The tank itself was colored in the same colors. The commander raised his hand in a salute as Van Alessian approached.
"You have my thanks, commander." Van Alessian nodded.
"It was nothing my lord." The commander replied. "Tank Commander Armand El'Jurad, 23rd Rynnsguard Armored Regiment at your service milord."
Van Alessian nodded back. "Stefanos Van Alessian, Crimson Fists 5th Company." He introduced himself. "I thought all armor was supposed to be deployed outside."
"That it was sir, but we got reports from our units inside the city about demons and some of us were rediverted here. From what It seems though that was the last of them. I have orders to remain in the city in case something else like this happens." El'Jurad continued. "Sir, I recommend you get back to the walls. Me and my squadron can mop up the demons."
"I'll do just that then." Van Alessian replied. "Carry on commander."
"Sir!" El'Jurad replied with a quick salute before returning back into the Leman Russ, and then continuing to patrol the city.
Van Alessian saw Lycor walk up to him, rubbing the back of his neck, but still very much alive. The power armor and the resilience of the veteran sergeant served him well as always.
"I hope that scratch wont slow you down, sergeant." Van Alessian grinned.
"You insult me, sir." Lycor replied with a small laugh. "And it seems that you have lost your wargear, my lord."
"Hardly," Van Alessian replied as he walked up to pick up his sword, still well intact, followed by Lycor. His helmet and Storm Bolter however were crushed beyond use. "just need something new."
Lycor looked over to the corpse of the fallen Crimson Fist. "I doubt he would mind if you were to honor his weapons with your touch."
Van Alessian nodded in agreement. "Get back to the walls, I will join you in a moment."
Lycor acknowledged, and ran off towards one of the stairways leading up to the city walls, while Van Alessian bent over the body of the dead Battle-Brother, picking up his Bolter and all ammo and grenades, and then aligning the body properly to give him at least some form of honorary burial. Van Alessian removed his helmet as well, and closed the wide open eyes of the dead Astartes, and then placed the new helmet on him. He grasped his Bolter into both hands, took a brief moment to salute the dead Astartes, and then contacted the Apothacery to come and extract the gene seed before himself heading back to the walls to join his Company.
At the Necropolis, the 2nd Company along with the 10th Rynnsguard Regiment had already repulsed two attacks from Chaos forces, who had thrown thousand upon thousands of bodies against the disclipined firing lines of the Imperials. Both attacks had been disastrous for the Chaos forces, leaving behind countless dead at the end of both suicidal charges across the open. Chaos Space Marines along with even more cultists, traitor Guardsmen and the like roaring the names of their heretic gods, had sprinted towards their doom, and indeed had found it. Cazaquez had described the Chaos assault as a "comparible to a poorly performed orchestra", the right instruments were simply not being used here to make anything work. Now, the ground was slick with traitor blood, the sea of corpses being dotted with the wrecks of corrupt tanks and walkers. Not a single enemy had even reached the Imperial lines to engage in melee as the heretics often attempted to do. Losses among the Crimson Fists and the Rynnsguard alike were almost disproportionate. All 100 Astartes were still alive, and of the 4,000 Rynnite's only a couple hundred had been killed or wounded.
Cazaquez had been very impressed both with the skills of his own Battle-Brothers as well as the raw recruits of the 10th Regiment. None had seen combat before now, and the first foe they faced was indeed the most insidious and treacherous of all, and yet they fought on well spirited. Their victories thus far had bolstered morale even further, and every trooper was itching for a fight with the heretics. Cazaquez grinned under his helmet, he had always been proud to serve with the Rynnsguard ever since the Ork invasion of the world, and seeing these mere recruits perform so well made him indeed very proud.
The defenses set up by them were also impressive and had held well, as the engineer battalion of the 10th had been responsible for designing the fortifications of the Necropolis. This was a task which weighed heavily on their shoulders, as the ground was sacred for the Crimson Fists and any defiling of it could indeed result in their deaths, but Cazaquez had found no error in their ways. The HQ was set up at the top of the Necroplois with the Vox mast and long range auspex scanners monitored by Servitors, and the Sharpshooter Company was given the privilage of being stationed on the high ground of the Necropolis where their deadly aim had taken hundreds of lives already. The Necropolis indeed stood on a very defensible location, located on top of a hill surrounded by a fine stone wall, and protected from the rear and the flanks by steep slopes and tall rock formations which would prevent the Imperials from being outflanked. This allowed the engineers to create a crecent shaped defensive line forcing the enemy to charge directly into the guns of the Imperials across the open, moonscape-like ground. A trench of such shape with vehicle pits neatly divided among it had been formed around a kilometer away from the actual Necropolis, where the four Leman Russ' of the 10th and two Predator tanks of the 2nd Company would be able to fortify and create a deadly armored gunpit. The Rhino and Chimera APCs were held further behind the lines and monitored by the Techmarine of the 2nd -Michelos- and the engineer battalion. The three battalions of Basilisk SPGs from the 10th and the Whirlwind Missile Launcher of the Crimson Fists, were well stationed behind the lines and able to cover the entire area, while the two Devastator Squads of the 2nd Company and the several heavy weapon teams of the 10th were able to lay down deadly fields of fire with their array of Heavy Bolters, Las Cannons, Plasma Cannons, Auto Cannons, Missile Launchers and also Mortars, and the gaps were filled by squads of Infantry and the Tactical Squads of the Crimson Fists. Part of the force was positioned behind Aegis barricades behind the trench.
"Our defense seems impervious my Lord." Colonel Abrihan said from next to Cazaquez.
"Indeed, if the traitors keep coming at this pace the battle will certainly be won." Cazaquez replied.
Abrihan nodded. "Agreed sir, tho our ammunition count does concern me."
"Hmmm, well we have an abundant number now and additional ammo stocked at the cache, we should be fine as long as nothing happens to that." Cazaquez said.
"Yes sir, and the wounded are all alive and well from what I hear." Abrihan proudly remarked.
"The Emperor must be with us today." Cazaquez admitted.
"So it must be my Lord." Abrihan replied. "I hear that the enemy's attempts to take other parts of the planet have also failed thus far at least."
"Indeed, the battle is going extremely well, better than I expected even." Cazaquez said. "Which does concern me."
"My Lord?" Abrihan asked.
"It's difficult to believe the Arch Enemy was this reckless in their attack against an Astartes home world, especially one so well defended." Cazaquez said, in a grim fashion.
Abrihan paused for a moment. "True, sir. But so far the enemy has had little more than a fine taste of Imperial retribution!" The Rynnite officer exclaimed and pointed his sword at the sea of corpses before them. "With the reformed Rynnsguard and even more so with the mighty Crimson Fists here, who is to say we cannot win?"
Cazaquez laughed. "Past experiences if anything have taught us that we must be cautios, or else face the threat of destruction."
"Aye my Lord, but for now at least, the Imperium is winning." Abrihan said.
Cazaquez hummed in approval, but remained concerned. These concerns were soon put to light, when he witnessed red lights appear on the horizon, and could hear the same frantic roarswhich had preceded the previous two charges against the Imperial battleline. Officers began to cry out orders, and the artillery wheeled their batteries up and prepared to fire. Cazaquez himself drew his gold-plated Bolt pistol and sword, and marched towards the frontline along with Abrihan who held a humming Plasma pistol. Cazaquez continued to eye the Chaos lines with caution for any signs of change, and immediately his keen eyes noticed that a larger, red cloud of malevolent energies and magics was rising into the air, and increased, chanting sounds were coming from the side of the enemy. Was this a ritual, a call for aid? Cazaquez had seen many a type of foe in his centuries, but still the forces of Chaos continued to surprise him. Cazaquez's keen Astartes eyes then saw a distant, blackish form appearing from the middle of the red cloud, which was now spreading around the countryside, and the veteran captain could instantly see something was amiss, as surely did every other soldier around him. Abrihan also focused his gaze around the cloud.
Before either one of the soldiers could speak however, the cloud suddenly broke apart from the center, washing red energies around the air and dirt and a thunderous roar sounded from the Chaos side of the battlefield which shook in the heads of every Imperial. Rynnsguard leaped, freightened by the sudden change and Astartes fixed their aim forward. Fire exploded into the air, lighting struck all around, cracks formed into the ground around this sudden outburst of vile magic, and as the Imperials dazed at what was going on, Cazaquez looked to the opening in the middle of the red cloud and for the first time in this battle, his eyes widened. Standing on the other side of the battlefield, behind a swirling portal of flame and Chaotic powers, was a massive, winged Greater Demon of Khorne, roaring skyward at its heretical gods and its great wings spread aloft and its enormous axe crackling with Warp energy. The Rynnsguard panicked, and backed away from the demon, but were forced back to their positions by determined officers or NCO's or from the steely gaze of Astartes.
"Throne of Terra, what is that?" Abrihan exclaimed, seemingly shocked.
"A beginning," Cazaquez began. "and if we dont end it here, we may just lose everything."
Abrihan didn't hesitate upon hearing this, and opened a Vox channel to his Rynnsguard forces. "Prime Aquila to all gun batteries, lock targetting auspex onto...onto the large demon. Load Earthshaker fire rounds and fire at will."
The Basilisks immediately responded to this, and the powerful rounds were loaded into the gun batteries. The tanks wheeled their turrets around, weapon crews aimed their guns at the field, and infantry rushed back to the trenches and barricades. On the other side, the Greater Demon reached out with his axe, let out a demonic cry, and from his order tens of thousands of heretics and demons appeared and charged acorss the open fields, while the ever growing Warp gate began to spawn monstrosities, monstrosities who aimed themselves at the isolated Imperial battle-line. Cazaquez stepped forward, towering over most of the troops before him, and raised his blade into the air.
"Warriors of the Imperium! Hold fast! You are the finest the Emperor has to offer against His hated enemies, who would seek to rid this world from his benevolent authority! Show courage, show discipline, and do not waver, for if we die it will be a glorious death in service of our Imperium!"
The Basiliks roared into life, men cheered around him and gunfire soon exploded into life, as Astartes and Rynnsguard prepared to face down the horrors of the Warp. Gritting his teeth, Cazaquez raised his powerful pistol, and fired at the encroaching Chaos forces.
PART IV: Warriors of the Emperor
The Space Marines and their Rynnsguard allies continued their heroic struggle against the Chaos forces on all fronts, fighting for every inch of ground still worth defending. The battle deteriorated into a war of attrition, with Chaos forces throwing themselves time and time again at the Imperial defences with little to no avail, each time ending with huge casualties. The Crimson Fists, though outnumbered and outgunned to impossible levels, nonetheless fought like heroes born fresh out of legend itself, and their Rynnite allies also performed valiantly, and it impressed the Astartes deeply.
At Magalan, Toren Schyma displayed great valor as he fended off Chaos Marines and heretics for three hours until reinforcements arrived from the Imperial forces on the continent. Lead by a handful of Astartes, these Rynnites suffered greatly to save the besieged brother-captain and fought heroically to rid the area of Chaos troops. Finally, an opening was made, and Schyma, wounded and battered, made his way to his rescuers who escorted him to the Imperial lines at Magalan, which were under intense attacks from Chaos troops. The missile batteries scattered across the region, had since shot down innumerable enemy aircraft, and every ground assault had been repelled. However, across all fronts the Chaos forces did gain ground on some levels at least and also they naturally seized all areas of the planet that were left barren by the Ork invasion ten years ago, and where no Imperials were stationed. There was little to no information on what was actually going on in these areas, and for days the Imperials simply assumed the enemy was using the ground to open Warp portals to bring hordes of troops onto the planet. However, the Librarians and Psykers sensed that a far darker presence was at work, and over time it also became visually clear that something was amiss: the air became darker, and areas controlled by Chaos were tainted by Warp clouds and magics, and were nigh-inaccessible to radar scans.
The Crimson Fists sent teams of Scouts along with elite Rynnsguard storm trooper squads to perform recon into the Chaos-held lands, about a month into the battle when it was still seemingly locked in s stalemate. These scouts advanced for a time without incident, until they came upon a horrifying discovery: the planet was being transformed. The ground became more cracked, uneven and corrupted the deeper into the Warp cloud-covered regions the Imperial troops advanced, and soon they even came upon rivers of lava and pillars of twisted stone and flame, as well hordes of slaves and cultists working in wicked altars and factories that transformed the land that was once so pure from Imperial power into an unholy landscpae, and it dreaded the Imperials deeply. The scouts, having seen enough, retreated back to their transports outside the Warp clouds and rushed back to New Rynn City where the main Imperial command station was set up. They were confused as to why nobody had tried to impede their mission, leading to the suspicion that the Chaos forces didn't care whether the Imperials discovered their ruse, and had consciously allowed the scouts to complete their mission to return with the dire news.
To the Imperials, especially the Astartes, it was clear that the attacks against their defences were simply meant to delay them and keep them from intervening with the transformation of the planet, which would be almost inevitable if they did nothing. The Librarians and Primaris Psykers could delay the process, but only for a time as there were far too few of them to indeffinetly stop the process. The only way this could be done was to cut off the head of the Chaos invasion, identified at the central plains of Rynn's World, where the sorcerers and priests were conducting their evil magic's from. The logic was, that if these men could be slain, and the remaining Chaos forces on the planet also destroyed, than victory could yet be possible as control of the surface would be restored. However there was still the pressing issue of the orbital defences.
The SDF an Chapter Fleet were still holding out a month into the invasion, but had sustained great casualties and their lines were crumbling. Attempts to contact Segmentum Command for reinforcements were futile as the Black Legion prevented this via jamming and Warp powers, and attempts to send small battlegroups to physically call for aid ended in disaster as the Chaos forces controlled the Warp lanes used to travel around the Loki sector. Rynn's World, was on its own, and yet this did not dull the fighting spirit of her defenders.
On the continent of Callionia, the Rynnsguard and the Crimson Fists fended off assault after assault onto their heavily fortified cities and positions, with the Crusade Company under the legendary Rogo Victurix fighting with great valor and a skill which reflected the mighty undying prowess of the Crimson Fists. Chaos Demons and hordes of traitor Astartes, cultists, and monstrous war engines. Victurix's mere presence inspired those below him to fight on despite the impossible odds stacked against them, the venerated Veteran Sergeant himself once slaying a Chaos Champion ontop of the walls of Blackreef City for all to see, sounding a mighty cheer from the city's defenders. Defending the Necropolis, the Crimson Fists 2nd Company and the 10th Rynnsguard were beset by a Greater Demon, summoned by vile magics to do the bidding of the Dark Gods. Here, Captain Cazaquez would mold himself into legend in the Chapter's records, as he lead the Company's most veteran Astartes on an assault to slay the demon as it struck down Astartes and Rynnsguard left and right. After a colossal dual, Cazaquez and his Astartes brought down the Greater Demon, which caused the shocked Chaos forces to halt their assault for a moment as they saw their great idol come tumbling down and the mighty Cazaquez standing above its corpse holding his sword into the air. This boosted morale of all Imperial forces, and they counterattacked and drove back the staggered and demoralized Chaos hordes, albeit at a great cost of lives.