The Valkyrie Screamed through the air, buffed by the wind as it tore through the sky. It was descending to the world of Ulen XI, a barren rock in the middle of nowhere. It had sent out a distress signal a month ago, and was currently under attack by a green skins. Information was sketchy, and the men and women of the Imperial Guard who were going down to fight for it's foreign soil were going in blind. When they hit the ground they would have to think on there feat, something the Imperial Guard were notoriously bad at.
But we are not your average Imperial Guardsmen thought Hankō as he sat in the troop compartment of the Valkyrie. He was the Gurando shougun of the Senshi no rentai on the planet. They were good warriors to whom he had owed his life on many occasion. They would be prepared for whatever was down there.
Ulen XI supplied the nearby forge world Wex V with vital materials and so was considered to important to be lost to the Orks. If it fell, then the many worlds that Wex V supplied would be weakened before the onslaught of the 13th Black Crusade. They would all fall, giving the Enemy dozens of worlds. They would then use these worlds to produce resources and other weapons to turn against Him on earths armies. It was simple then, Ulen XI could not fall.
And the Hōmupēji no hitobito weren't going to give it up without a fight.
The first impression Hankō got of Ulen XI through the small window was of endless rocks. Not of flat rocks, but boulders up to the size of battle tanks and baneblades. All this sped past in a blur as the Valkyrie flew towards the landing pad. They were forming a defensive caldron around the main city. The capital was an ugly thing, nothing like the elegant structures of Hōmupēji, his home planet. It was blunt and functional, and reflected the larger part of the Imperium. If anywhere was going to survive an attack on the planet, then this would be it.
"The terrain going to be difficult to work with." stated Commissar Droven. Unlike almost every other warrior who made up the regiment, Droven was not from Hōmupēji. As a Commissar he would never fight with his own people, never share their burdens and deaths. It was at once a blessing and a curse, and in Hankō mind was not worth the sacrifice. His features where fair and he was small for most imperial servants, making him fit in perfectly with the Hōmupēji no hitobito.
"Indeed, but the Orks will also have difficulties going over that as well." replied Sainō. Sainō was a gifted Senshi no shūdō-shi, a warrior monk, and was responsible for the spiritual well being of the regiment. He had an oval face, like many Hōmupēji no hitobito, with large eyes. His and Droven's jobs often crossed over, but luckily they both had an understanding and worked together for the regiment. It wasn't like some other Senshi no rentai regiments Hankō had seen, were the Commissars and Senshi no shūdō-shi had worked against each other, ultimately disrupting the regiment in it's work.
"Indeed, but we need to reconquer this world that is at worst half captured," retorted Hankō, "and terrain like that isn't going to help."
"Well it isn't going to be a problem of you, giant," said Sainō, "you can just take one step and your over the other side of the planet." Though Hankō would be considered average height on most Imperial planets, on Hōmupēji he was considered huge. His well deified shoulders and powerful posture also helped reinforce that image. He also had his fair share of looks, though it would never get him any women he wanted, it helped him in the numerous political back-stabbings and loop-holes of imperial reign.
"It's alright, I'll pull you out of any small hole you fall into."
"You should all be focusing." said the bulky figure with an inhumanly deep voice in the corner of the Valkyrie. While Hankō was considered huge by his people, this being was truly a giant. He stood eight feet tall and had the distinctive silhouette of power armour. The black was only broken by wight inserts on his pauldrons, both portrayed against a black stylized cross.
"Why, do you have no sense of humour?" inquired Droven.
"No, as a Black Templar I am only happy when I am killing the enemies of the Emperor."
"Indeed, but the enemies of the Kami kōtei will trump if we become less than human, and humour is part of humanity." said Sainō, a slight smile on his lips.
The Templar rounded on Sainō, the sneer evident in his voice "Who is this Kami kōtei you speak of?"
All the Hōmupēji no hitobito in the compartments hands went immediately to their weapons. The two companions of the Knight did likewise. Hankō stepped menacingly forward. "You would dare spit on th-"
"The Kami kōtei translates into the God Emperor," interjected Droven "they use their native tongue when speaking His name."
The Black Templar's posture was one of distaste. He saw it as almost heretical to speak anything other than His name in gothic, the language He created. Hankō realized his mind was to inflexible, to inhuman, to understand the significance and power it carried for the Hōmupēji no hitobito. Yet again a sacrifice he didn't think was worth anything.
The Knight took his helmet off and glared at Hankō. His features were handsome and proud, every part the son of Dorn. "If you show the slightest deviance from His path," spat the Templar "then I will not hesitate to kill every last one of you, Hankō"
"And if you raise a finger in anger to any Imperial servant, then I will kill every last one of you, Zevedon."
The silence that followed carried on for several minuets, until the pilot stated, "Were opening the doors now, sir."
"Thank you, pilot."
The first thing to assail Hankō senses was polluted, filthy air. It baffled his senses and made him dizzy for a few seconds, he was so used to the recycled air of the Navy's ships. He overcame it, and then got their first look of the city itself. It was blocky and ugly like so many imperial worlds, nothing like the authentic structures of his home planet. But then, he supposed, it had been built with an entirely different pour pose in mind.
Hankō had only a small part of his mind on the looks of the city its self. He was preoccupied with the spectacle below him at the city gates. Undisciplined las fire was being lobed at a sea of green pushing on the gate, and it was nearly through.
Hankō rounded on the man seated next to him, "Tsūshin no, tell the regiment that were going in hot, and to prepare for immediate combat."
"Hai Gurando shougun." he replied, and ran through to the back of the Valkyrie. Hankō took a closer look at the green below him. It seemed wrong, there was no disorganized fire coming from the orks, and there was none of the smoke belching from their scrap contraptions. In fact, when he looked at it, there were on pieces of junk, or any colour other than green. No symbols to show the clanz of the different orks, just green. Come to think of it, it was the wrong shade of green.
"Looking at your enemy in fear?" asked the voice of Zevedon, scrutiny laced throughout his voice.
"Yes, fear is part of want makes us human. Only by embracing our own mortality can we do something truly momentous. Besides their not orks, their all wrong."
"Explain." It was a statement, not a question.
"Look down there. There is nothing remotely ork like about that rabble. No guns, no scrap contraptions, not even the random spray of bullets that you expect from them. Their not even the right shade of green."
Zevedon seamed to consider this. At last he spoke, "I will tell my men of this development, you had best do the same."
"I will leave them in the dark, they can figure it out when they get down there. It will help there survival in the long run."
"What of those who die?"
"Death is an inevitability. Those who cannot adapt will better serve their comrades dead."
"Very well." concluded Zevedon, before clamping his helmet on and walking away.
"Sir, T minus thirty seconds to deployment."
"Very good, deploy the regular guardsman and Ashigaru thirty meters behind the gate, and deploy the Bushi, myself and the Black Templars twenty meters away fro-" At that moment the gates gave way and the green tide poured in.
"Scratch that, Bushi and Black Templars deploy in aerial insertion, everyone else thirty meters away for from the gate."
"Do as I say." commanded Hankō.
He checked his wargear. Unlike regular guardsman, who were equipped with flak armour and carplace armour if they were lucky, the Senshi no rentai were equipped with carplace armour as standard, and when one was a Bushi or of high enough rank were given a form of power armour. Though it looked nothing like the power armour of the Adeptus Astartes, but it still gave them the same protection.
Hankō's had an inbuilt refractor field, to better protect himself from the enemy. His wargear was different from most other Bushi. Were as they would have a katana and a wakizashi or tantō, he only carried one blade, his wakizashi. His side arms consisted of two tanegashima pattern las pistols, one on his left hip with the handle facing backwards, the other on the other side with the handle pointing forwards, allowing him to pull both with his left hand. Slung across his back was a straight bolt compact sniper rifle.
Sainō carried a Senshi no shūdō-shi's naginata, the standard issue armament of his office. On his right vambrace was a far from standard issue master crafted storm bolter. He had earned that when he had saved a high ranking Magos Explorator from the edge of an Eldar blade. Droven had carplace armour, as he was a commissar he wasn't allowed the power armour that the others in the Valkyrie wore. Ti had been modified to give it the same advantages as power armour, however, allowing Droven to keep up with the other men. His right hand was a massive power fist, and the other held a plasma pistol. Despite his more vulnerable state, he was insistent on fighting in the thick of it, and so far hadn't died, something that Hankō respected.
The Templars were ready for war. Zevedon held a mighty thunder hammer in one hand, and in the other had a combi-flamer. The first of his companions had the skull faced mask of a chaplain, and held his badge of office in his right hand, bolt pistol in his left. The other member held a holstered bolt pistol in one hand, and had a blade as tall as an ordinary man, black as night, strapped across his back. Out of all the people in the hold he seamed to not be tense for the coming fight, almost as if he knew every strike and blow that would occur in the coming battle.
Hankō felt the familiar sensation that came over him before every fight, a feeling of complete clarity. He knew it was the adrenalin running through his veins, but to him everything was in black and wight, there were no shades of grey.
"Pilot, take us to within three meters of the ground and hover, well drop the rest of the way."
"Very good sir."
The Valkyrie slowed to a halt above the ground, engines humming quietly. The men inside the Valkyrie dropped to the ground. Hankō looked up and got his first look at then enemy. He realized that his suspicion about them not being orks was well founded.
"Abominations," hissed Zevedon, "they were once human. They will pay for turning there back on the Emperor!" Before anyone could stop him, he had charged the few yards to the line of things, and smashed the legs out from underneath one of them. To his surprise it started to crawl towards him, grabbing for his leg. He brought his thunder hammer down, destroying the ribcage. Still it came on, until Droven came over and brought a foot down on it's head, spraying blood, brain and bits of bone everywhere.
"You need to smash their heads," explained Droven, "it's a warp infused disease, the only way to stop them is to destroy the brain."
"How dose this disease spread?" asked Sainō.
"We think it's through biting, first showed up in the Gothic war. Classified as zombies"
"I wonder if decapitation works." said Sainō, absently wandering over and chopping one of the Zombies head off, The body stopped moving, but the mouth sought something to bit.
"It works." reported Sainō.
"Then start killing them." ordered Hankō. He stepped towards the first one and chopped it's head off with the powered wakizashi, ducking under the flailing arms of the second one and shooting him in the head. A third grabbed him from the back but he dropped his weight and sent it flying over his shoulder, meeting the cold steel of his blade.
Hankō looked round for a second. Droven was fighting alongside Sainō, the two of them smashing and chopping off heads and blowing apart heads with supreme grace. He spotted Ryōkōna's Bushi squad a little way behind them, killing with a startling efficiency and grace. The Templars fought a little way behind them, using brunt savagery to fight through. He saw the PDF fighting on the battlements, terrorfied of the approaching zombies.
He had no more than a second to look, but it was all he needed. He raised the Valkyries over the vox "Pilots, hold position over the gate, stop anymore getting through."
"Yes sir!" was the reply he got.
"Droven, Sainō. Take Ryōkōna's squad and fight your way to the battlements, get those men fighting properly."
"Hai, Gurando shougun!" came the massed reply.
"And no shooting anyone, Droven."
A light chuckle came over the vox, "Hai Gurando shougun."
"Sir, were in position, break from combat when your ready and well lay on the fire." came an unknown voice over the vox.
"Just shoot anyway, they should be good enough shoots to avoid us, and any that do get through will probably be deflected by our power armour." At that point an zombie grabbed him from the front, trying to bite at his neck. He let it nibble at his neck guard, before dropping to the ground and throwing it over his head.
"Sir, what if it isn't stopped by your power armour?"
"Then we die. Now do as I say." He throw another zombie as it came at him. Another, evidently remembering more of his former life than the others, attacked him with a left jab, which bounced off his helmet. Undeterred, it came at him with a right roundhouse. He moved inside the punch, grabbing his arm and keeping the momentum going, sending it flying through the air. At the last second he drove the thing down, hitting the ground with a sickening crunch, before stamping on it's head, sending blood and bits of bone everywhere, before retrieving his weapons.
As he fought he looked up to see Droven bashing some heads together, whilst Sainō and Ryōkōna kept those few zombies that had climbed up off his back. The Templars had broken up, and were fighting individually. Zevedon was over to the far left, fighting with a blunt brutality characteristic of the Astartes. The Chaplain was at the front of the hoard, fighting to impress the firing line rather than kill the foe. He could see other Templars fighting throughout the hoard, but could not see the other one with the black sword.
Suddenly a group of zombies was in front of him. They weren't attacking him at random like the other ones but attacked as a pack, tackling Hankō to the ground. He dropped his wakizashi and las pistol as they would be useless in ground fighting. he grabbed one of their heads and forced his fingers through her eyes until he found the brain. Pulling his thumbs out with a squelch, he then elbowed the next one in the face, shattering the jaw and stopping it from biting him. There were to many of them though, and before long they would find a week point in his armour, and turning him into one of them.
Suddenly the tip of a black blade cut through several of the things necks, killing enough for Hankō to shove the rest off. Retrieving his weapons, he looked round at his savior, then looked up at the towering giant that stood over him.
"I owe my life to you, Templar," said Hankō, "may I ask your name?"
"My name is Helerot, and you owe me nothing for the Emperor decreed that you live." The battle had died down now and the Zombies were pushed back to the main gate again, kept back buy the relentless weight of fire.
"How do you know that the Kami kōtei wanted me to live?" questioned Hankō.
The knight took off his helmet, showing a young face, a slight smile creeping up his face. "If I told you, I would be telling you one of the greatest traditions and secrets of our chapter, that is that we Emperors champions are give visions by the Him on earth, one for each crusade."
Hankō took his helmet off, a slight smile creeping up his face also,and grasped him in a warriors handshake. "I understand why you cannot tell me such a valuable secret, so I will not pry into it anymore."
Helerot's smile grew into a full blown grin as he strapped his sword over his back. "Come," he said, "we are late for the meeting."