Immortal Emperor

7 . Bloodstone
World turned Red

Chaoswarrior

Colonel Aldo Tercius could smell blood.

Literally too of course. After all, the men and women of the 9th Iron Guards Regiment had been engaged at Cold Heights all morning. But this was the blood a predator could sense when a prey was wounded.

The PDF were falling back with the enemy close on their heels. The victorious rebels were shouting and cheering incoherently. There were thousands of them. Tercius was unmoved. He had assigned his fourth and fifth battalion to prepare a fallback position. His remaining three battalions had entrenched in a strong position with good fields of fire.
The chaotic rabble (Tercius could find no other word to describe their formation) was following the fleeing PDF into the 9th’s prepared position. Into the lion’s den, thought Tercius. It was rebel blood he could smell.

He didn’t feel sorry for them. Under normal circumstances he had qualms about shooting civilians, even when armed. But these men and women had betrayed the Imperium. And after he had seen the crucified corpses of captives carried into battle, he was prepared to execute every last one of these scum himself. The PDF troopers had claimed that the enemy host was led by Astartes in dark red plate. This might confirm the incredulous message StatCom had received through the Warmaster’s envoy. A mutiny among the Astartes on a planet somewhere. Could this be related?

Tercius signaled his adjutant, who in turn spoke a single command into his comm. The trap was sprung. Concealed units of the 9th opened fire by companies. The result was devastating. The rebel vanguard staggered back under the withering punishment, men and women fell by the hundreds. Then thousands.

The fire discipline of his troops impressed Tercius. For a moment he had actually allowed himself to doubt the outcome of this day. But the rebel mob was wavering. Even though there seemed to be immense pressure from behind, they were unable to advance. The fire was too strong. They were shaken. All they needed was a stern push.
“They are close to breaking, pour it into them, boys! And unfurl those colors, dammit, let the bastards know who’s killing them.”
On his command, Tercius could see the battalions raise the banners of the 9th and the battlecry from his men could be heard above the horrible concert of war. “Glory to the 9th!” No need for secrecy now.

The enemy broke. What was left of their front ranks fled back through the surging crowd, creating a domino effect and soon the whole mob was running. The ground behind them was littered with dead or wounded.
Tercius could see an excellent opportunity to turn it into a complete rout. “Push on, men. Push on!” he shouted, knowing that none of them could hear him over the battle, but his excitement got the better of him. His adjutant had to gently tug at his commander’s coat to stop him from running down on the field himself, sword in hand.

But second battalion was already out of their positions. Their commander was eager for glory. The unit had fixed bayonets and was beginning to drive the enemy into the next trap.
Tercius made a mental note of the officer’s initiative. He’d make a fine regimental commander one day. But for now, they needed to destroy the enemy on the field, and Tercius urged his subordinate onwards “That’s a good man, Persinus. Give ‘em the cold steel!”

Second battalion successfully drove a large part of the mob into the firing range of first battalion. It was like an execution. First battalion waited patiently until the enemy was only three hundred yards away, then they stood up as one, and delivered a devastating volley into the panicked crowd. The mob screamed. Tercius could swear it almost sounded like a scream of pleasure. Wicked souls, these. Third battalion completed the trap by double-timing up on the side and sending flanking fire into the remains of the rebels.

“Lieutenant, on me.” Tercius ordered, and his command staff went forward. The ground ahead of them was covered with bodies. So many wounded it seemed as if the ground was crawling. Tercius figured he could make it all the way up the line by stepping on corpses. PDF troopers followed behind, finishing off the wounded.

As his battalions fell into new positions, the troopers hastily began erecting fortifications with whatever debris they could find. First and second battalion secured the nearby high ground and third battalion took up a flanking position in a sunken road. That would provide good cover from enemy fire. The enemy was mostly armed with knives or other improvised close combat weapons, but the 9th were hardened professionals. They had learned the hard way to dig in whenever they made a stop.

Through his binoculars, Tercius could see the enemy regrouping for another assault. What he wouldn’t give to have the Damascene Siege Artillery at his side right now. But no matter, they would have to do it the hard way. There appeared to be large figures leading them this time.
Tercius suddenly turned pale. Those figures were Astartes. Astartes leading an assault on his men? Unthinkable. Apparently the PDF had been right.
Then the ground shook.
Tercius adjusted his binoculars and scanned the enemy ranks. There was an odd shadow in the battle smoke that hung over the field. A moving shadow. Massive.
“Titan!” his adjutant yelled.
Tercius turned “Excuse me, Lieutenant?”
“The call came in over the comm, sir. First battalion has got a visual…” The adjutant trailed off as he received another message in his earpiece. “Scout class, sir. Warhound. Marked as… Legio Fulminata, off of Volscia, sir.”
Astartes and Titans among the rebels? Now he really wished he had the Damascene Siege Artillery alongside him.

The enemy host surged forward once more. The Astartes were leading the charge. Bolter fire tore into his positions but his men responded with a cool and steady counter fire. One of the large figures went tumbling down.
But his men were hard pressed. The Astartes among the enemies took life with every shot. The enemy host was now well within range of third battalion’s flanking fire, but nothing happened.
Tercius turned to his adjutant as a bolt whizzed by his ear, “Where is my enfilading fire? Lieutenant? "
“I’m trying to get through to third, sir.” his aide responded.
Tercius could feel the pressure. The companies of first battalion, those closest to the enemy were pulling out of their exposed positions.
“Lieutenant! Why is it that when I look through my binocul-ARSE all I can still see what looks like the entire third battalion lying down in the sunken road. Why aren’t they firing? Are they dead? If those sissies have already died on me, I’ll go to Vindolanda and strangle their mothers. Get me Westi on the comm so I can kick his arse.”
His adjutant was apologetic, “Sir, beg to report, Lieutenant Colonel Westi is dead, sir. Shot in the head. Captain Sesthes have assumed command.”

The enemy Titan emerged from the smoke. The spectacle caused the otherwise steady fire from the 9th to slacken for a moment. Then the Titan opened fire with a roar. Seeing the murderous Mega Bolter tear through his companies like a scythe, Tercius knew they had to fall back. No way could they fight this monster with small arms.
He snatched the comm from his adjutant’s hand with a heavy heart, “All units, this is colonel Tercius, fall back by companies to the second line. Commanders, remember to provide covering fire. Glory to the 9th!”
He needn’t have bothered. Even before his commanders had a chance to respond, their units were already falling back. They weren’t broken, it was a fighting retreat. But the experienced troopers could recognize impossible odds when they faced them.
It was doubtful that they could hold the second line. Or even the third. This might turn in to a full blown rout, and what a pitiful end to such a proud regiment that would be.

Tercius looked to the sky. Anger steadily built up inside him.

…Where was his reinforcements?

A vapor trail across the sky betrayed an incoming craft. It was fast. Dropship most likely…

But were they friend or foe?

Primary Objectives:
- TBA

Secondary Objectives:
- TBA.

Tertiary Objectives:
- TBA.

View
6. In the House of the Scorpion
Corruptionibus et Mortem

Dark conceptart m it8 p

Chaplain Halrun Hal of the Word Bearers Legion strode determinedly down the darkened hallway. Though he made every effort to seem aloof, he could feel cold sweat on his back – he hated these meetings with the Herald. Especially now as he had to report on the unbelievable disaster that had transpired on Caligine. The description by the agent defied all belief. The mere thought of it briefly made his stride falter.

Halrun stopped in front of the doorway that led into the Herald’s chamber. He steeled himself for a moment, drawing on wrath and hate to calm his nerves.
The dark room appeared empty as he marched inside. Like an animal that could sense the presence of a predator, Halrun could sense the presence of the Herald. Let him come, he thought, let him try something. His hands fell to his weapons.

“Our understanding,” an calm voice suddenly said out of the shadows. “…was that you had the Caligine operation under control, Chaplain… Short of the loyalists bringing the entire war fleet of Sol Invictus to bear, how could they possibly disrupt it?“
Halrun had spun around to face the voice. When he spoke, his voice betrayed only a small hint of the discomfort he felt. “The entity arrived as prophesized…" he paused, “But there were… complications.”.

“Complications?” the Herald scoffed. “…Complications in the form of those same loyalists who saved the governor on Populonia? The ones YOU should have finished off on Terminal 509? The ones YOU should have finished off when you had them on Cassandria? And this time they were how many? Three?”

Halrun could sense that the figure was smiling but he managed to keep his choler in check. “Go on,” he muttered threateningly. “…make your move against me if you must.”
“Oh, we do not blame you alone, Chaplain,” the Herald said, as it finally appeared out of the shadows. “Those loyalists have shown remarkable resilience. Nevertheless, we feel that we might ought to deal with them before the next phase of our operation.”
“That’s is being taken care of as we speak, Herald,” Halrun said, carefully eying the predatory features of the other. “The Sorcerer will see to it.”
“…The Sorcerer?” the Herald raised an eyebrow.
“Is that a problem… Brother?” Halrun countered, adding the last word mockingly.
“No Chaplain,” the Herald said with an obvious strained patience. “…the Sorcerer will certainly do. We merely assumed that he would be preoccupied with a more crucial part of our operation by now.”
“We can postpone that operation for the moment, ” Halrun said, ignoring the other’s tone. “Right now we need those subservient dogs dead, and the Sorcerer can see to that. Phase three is already underway, his departure from Cassandria will change nothing”

The Herald seemed to think it over for a few seconds. “Agramon will be displeased, we think.”
“So?” Halrun spat. “Agramon will answer to our master.”
“Nevertheless, Chaplain, we must conclude this operation within the prearranged timetable. While Agramon’s embarrassing defeat was a disappointment… truly,” the creature chuckled darkly, a sound that sent a cold shiver down Halrun’s spine. “…it was but a minor setback.”
“A minor setback?” Halrun nearly choked on the words.
“I think you misunderstand, Chaplain… Caligine was not a failure. It was merely the beginning.”
“You must truly move in exalted circles, Herald, that you can remain so confident.” Halrun mocked.
But the other merely turned his head slightly. “Trust in the Word, Chaplain,” the Herald said. “…and you will be illuminated.“

Halrun cast the other a weary look – he hated that his co-conspirator somehow always seemed to be a step ahead of him.
“You have no faith, Chaplain." the Herald went on, “But no matter, I have every faith in our agents on Cassandria. That apple is ripe for the plucking, is it not?”
“There are no opposition forces of any repute on Cassandria, " Halrun agreed, “most of their best men have been dispatched to Populonia,” He smiled, “courtesy of our loyalist friends.”
“Good,” the Herald snickered, “then perhaps I can persuade you to leave that operation to your agents?”
Halrun’s eyes narrowed. “I suppose so. And what, if anything, do you have in mind for me then?”
" Then I would beg you to travel to Populonia and prepare for the fourth phase of our plan."

Before Halrun could answer, the Herald took a long step towards him. “And by the way, Chaplain," the other said with an almost begging tone, “have you tracked the human female who helped the loyalists on Cassandria? We would very much like to know more about her.”
“What? The mortal girl?” Halrun asked, trying to sound unaffected by the unnerving proximity of the other. “If she is so important to you, I’ll have my agents there track her down and bring her to us.”
“Yes, that’s good, Chaplain, see that they do,” the Herald said thoughtfully, almost hesitantly.
“Problem?” Halrun picked up on the other’s strange change of mood.
“Probably not, Chaplain… Anyway, we will confer with Agramon, he will see our point of view, we think. Was there anything else?.”
“No Herald," Halrun said, feeling tired of the others insolent tone, “I will depart for Populonia. I will fight the loyalists while you sit here… doing whatever it is that you do.”

If the Herald took offense, it didn’t show it, “You do that Chaplain,” the figure merely said. “But I’d advise you to make sure no petty mortal interferes with our plan this time.”

Halrun cursed as he left the room. Halfway down the hallway he stopped and looked around. He could swear that he could hear mocking laughter somewhere in the darkness. But there was nothing. Chaplain Halrun Hal resumed his purposeful stride. There was work to be done.


“Allecto Control, this is the Imperial auxiliary cruiser Independence, captain Alfidus commanding."

Nothing but static. Captain Alfidus was concerned. With all that was going on, this did not exactly tickle his fancy. Allecto Control was usually more uptight that a rich man’s concubine. This was something you could expect on Populonia maybe, but not Cassandria.

“Well?"
The governor was standing on the bridge behind him. Well, not standing, more or less resting on a recliner and carried by a few servants.
“Your Excellency,” Alfidus said irritably, “I would appreciate it if you stayed in your quarters for the duration.”

“The quarters on this ships is inadequate,” the governor sneered, “Are we there soon?”
“Yes Excellency,” Alfidus exchanged glances with his comms officer. The officer shrugged. “but we are having some communications problems,” Alfidus went on, “probably, eh, stellar interference.”
The governor stared at him, his eyes betraying intelligence, “Well captain,”_ he said, “perhaps we should reconsider then. After all, Astartes did try to assassinate me. Astartes! Who knows where else they might be hiding? Volscia is out, the Fabricator General dislikes me, and the place stinks. But perhaps Sol Invictus would be a better choice?”
" Excellency, please," Alfidus was in no mood for any more advice from that man, _"we’re already inbound, we’re switching to visual ri-."

He trailed off. Before him lay Cassandria, but something wasn’t right. The whole planet seemed to be engulfed in a strange cloud cover.
“Captain,” the governor asked solemnly “is there anyone on Cassandria that you can trust? And I mean truly trust.”
He could only think of one – “Comms, get me Equester Estenen Furiosa on an encrypted line.”

Captain Alfidus was waiting tensely for a reply when the Independence entered the atmosphere of Cassandria.

Primary Objectives:
- Escort the Governor to Allecto on Cassandria

Secondary Objectives:
- Meet with Equester Estenen Furiosa

Tertiary Objectives:
- TBA.

View
5 . Leviathan
Nightmare Creatures

M3060166a 2xl

His hand rests on the mutilated face of the Word Bearer. The same hands that only a few hours previously had caused the grievous and ultimately fatal wounds that litters the brutalised body of the Space Marine now rests on his face with a mournful tenderness.

There is genuine sadness in his hearts as he lifts his hand and touches the activation rune on the side of the metal casket. With a hiss of steam the steel box closes, encasing the Word Bearer in his metal tomb, the Imperial Aquila staring defiantly from the lid. A rumbling growl discloses the disagreement of the space marine standing five paces behind him. “We should have stripped the Aquila from the casket, Sir”, growls the scarred giant. “The void won’t care!” “True, Brother Drask”, the Ultramarine answers, “but I would”. The giant growls his disapproval again. “… Traitor Pig. Should’ve burned him. Should’ve dismembered – destroyed – burned – killed – killed – KILL!” The giant shivers to control himself while battle hormones whip through his system. The Ultramarine doesn’t so much a flinch. “Compose yourself, Brother Drask”, he says without raising his voice or turning to face the World Eater. “This is a space marine brother of The Word Bearers Legion’s 8th company. His death was neither glorious nor brave. Despite his training and vows to his Primarch he died a failure. We bested him in open combat, we defeated him on the field of battle, slew his brothers and captured him alive. We broke his spirits and made a disgrace of him. I will show him this one honour in death though he maintained none in life”. Raising his voice to become a booming command he speaks: “Battle Brother Jonah Deavechis of Gaol Wortek of the XVII Legion– you have fallen from the Emperor’s grace, dishonoured your warrior oath, murdered the very civilians you were sworn to protect. For your transgressions I have taken your life from you in the worst possible way – but though your life was forfeited and your honour ruined I saw something in your eyes. I saw the realisation of your wrongdoing. I saw your hearts break. Therefore; in respect for what you once were, I commit your body to the void with the Aquila watching over you for all eternity”. He stands back and touches another rune on the side of the wall. Slowly the casket sinks into the floor before being loaded into one of several torpedo silos aboard the Vindictum Imperialis. He calls the room to attention. Twenty pairs of armoured boots in every colour imaginable slam together, and as the room reverberates with the sound of the torpedo silo’s discharge the honour guard of Special Operations Group 5021 salutes.

When Desaris Thyne was entrusted with command and the rank of Brother Sergeant he had more than 40 years of loyal and tenacious service behind him. The name “Arbalest” wouldn’t go away. It stuck with him through different sections, missions and responsibilities and even followed him when Captain Ailerian promoted him Veteran Sergeant of 13th Grand Company. When threatening to be forgotten by too much new blood and rotations in and out of the company the name was renewed by some incredible feat of throwing in the thick of battle. Desaris Thyne still appreciated the nickname despite Sergeant Hadrian’s, now Captain and commander of 21st Grand Company, obvious dislike of the name. It still defined him.
He never spoke of it to others, never disclosed it to anyone, but there was more than one reason why he perceived it as natural to accept the name. Ever since his he was accepted as a novice amongst thousands of other applicants struggling to survive in the forests clad mountains of Calth he had had an uncanny sense of when danger was eminent. A foresight if you will, though of the most vague and futile kind. From his earliest training he had been able to sense the onset of immediate danger by a short ringing tone. There was never any indication of where from or in what shape, way or form the danger would manifest itself – but he would always feel danger manifest as an alarm, a short but distinctive “Ping”. In the beginning he thought it was some sort physical disorder. A sound of nerve synapses firing in the deep of his mind, maybe even blood vessels filling before the onset of combat, preparing him for survival under the most difficult of circumstances. Later on, as the changes of his inductions into the line of the super human Space Marines had wreaked irrevocable havoc on his physicality, he started to recognise it for what it was. Premonition – pure and simple. The “ping” would always be there before danger reared it’s ugly face. He never spoke of it to others – not only out of fear that they might think him a psyker or touched by some other impurity rendering him unable to serve as an Ultramarine, but because he genuinely feared they might perceive him as crazy. The sound signalling danger had from the onset been the unmistakeable ping of the lever leaving the body of a hand grenade.

The thunder of the plasma engines of the Vindictum Imperialis subsides as the captain adjusts for the gravitational pull of the massive gas giant of Caligine. The bridge is left in almost absolute darkness while the captain, select crew and more than a hundred lobotomized servitors work diligently at bringing the massive ship closer to orbit without detection from possible enemies. Standing behind the command throne, towering over the mortals is the armoured form of Brother Sergeant Thyne, observing the work of the mortal crew. Behind him the gate to the bridge opens and another Astartes clad in charcoal black power armour enters to stand at attention behind him. “You summoned me, Sir?” he says. “Brother Thracius”, the sergeant replies. “We are arriving at Caligine as we speak. Within six hours we will be entering the orbit of Caligine II. I plan to enter the moon’s orbit over the drop site and initiate landfall immediately. We will either set down in drop pods within extreme support range of the mining facility with three quarters of 5021 or land the fighting force in Storm Birds. Based on the distress signal from Brother Sergeant Ceorl I consider the drop zone hot. Therefore we will be forced to close on the installation with speed. We still do not know the status of the installation and a direct drop pod attack upon the mining station will almost certainly cause a collapse of the stations atmosphere processing system killing anyone inside not wearing Astartes Armour or rebreathers. I consider this an unacceptable risk. I now face a dilemma, Brother Thracius: To either land on the installation with Storm Birds and risk auto laser AA in exchange for speed in deployment, or risk a drop pod deployment at range and close on the installation on foot. I am personally in favour of the latter as we are almost certainly numerically and relatively strong than the enemy, but my plan must be based on a sound disposition of heavy weapons support. You, Brother Thracius, are my Devastator Specialist. There are four devastators in total in 5021. What say you? Can you set up a firebase of such overwhelming power that my men and I can close on the installation over open ground or will I have to risk a Storm Bird landing on the installation?” Brother Thracius hesitates for exactly two point eight seconds before answering. “We have two auto cannons, a heavy bolter and a Lascannon as well as three heavy flamers for close encounters, Sir. I can set up a firebase with overlapping arcs of fire that can tear apart anything but the strongest defensive positions. In short, the answer to your question is yes. I can set up a firebase of overwhelming power able to support a dismounted attack”. Sergeant Thyne nods to himself before pointing to a pict screen in front of him. “Good. I intend to attack the mining installation from south and east at 0709 local time, which is in the early dawn. Prepare your plan for fire cover and I will allocate drop points accordingly”. The Dark Angel answers with a “Wilco, Brother Sergeant”, and snaps off a smart salute before leaving the bridge.

There is a hissing of pistons as the drop pod closes like a flower after nightfall. Desaris Thyne strains in his grav harness and look around at the battle brothers filling the confined space of the Drop Pod. Preparations have gone according to plan, the attack will be overwhelming in force and direct to the extreme. Overlapping arcs of fire commands every entrance and exit to the site. At the simplest of commands he can turn it into a burning hellhole or optimally he can seize it without letting loose a single round. He feels confident this will be a success despite the lack of intelligence from the surface. Brothers Drask, Flogger, Tauron share the Drop Pod with him. They are all fine Astartes – soldiers he has fought with one and all. He feels good about this combat drop. What ever is down there, it will feel the wrath of the Emperor. Arbalest he thinks to himself. A demanding siege engine that requires a massive crew. True. But the arbalest is used to target the strong point of any defender. From afar it will kill the commander of a fortress or strike down a leader of a consolidated defence rendering resistance absolutely useless. He smiles inside his helmet. Oh, yes, Arbalest is a name that suits him well. The count down reaches zero and with a roar of launch thrusters and a kilometre long tongue of flame the drop pods deploys into the silent nothingness of space before beginning to trail fire upon entering the atmosphere at unbelievable speed.

Inside the pods sits an Ultramarine sergeant. Inside his helmet he has stopped smiling. Inside his head he hears the distinct “ping” of a lever leaving a grenade.

Primary Objectives:
- Investigate the distress signal from Caligine II
- Locate Brother Sergeant Ceorl

Secondary Objectives:
- Remove any threat to the safety of operations on Caligine II

View
4 . In Extremis
Duty unto Death

Space asteroids

Mission time: 7:00:55

”Repeat please, did I hear that right, my Lord?”

Captain Borsk Alfidus had seen a lot of strange things in all his years of Imperial service, but the utterly impossible readings on his cogitator took his breath away.
But of course, all that was nothing compared to the sight itself.
Terminal 509 was like a tiny dot hovering helplessly in front of a spectacle of indescribable character. It looked as if the universe was tearing itself asunder. Like a warp rift in space, but massive in size. Flashes indicated an ongoing battle, and the scanner picked up several frigate-sized vessels in the vicinity.

“You heard me, captain. Full speed ahead.”

Astartes Sergeant Thyne stood next to Alfidus’ command chair. His manner and voice was calm, and Alfidus was unsure if it irritated or reassured him.
The enemy ships seemed to be attempting to block the path towards the station. Well, that or they were keeping any outbound ships from escaping.

Alfidus decided that it irritated him.
“And if we get dragged into the vortex, my Lord?” he asked.
The Astartes didn’t even flinch.
“We might. Or we might not. Either way, I’ll be in the airlock. Dock as fast as you can.”

The Astartes turned on his heel and marched off of the bridge. Alfidus turned to see him go, wondering if any of them would live to fight another day. Alfidus was a brave man. He once had his ship ram a Greenskin command ship during a fleet engagement. But even so, he hated flying into the unknown.

He decided that it really irritated him and switched on his intercom.
“Crew of the independence. This is your captain. All gunners, all batteries, fire free! Duty unto Death!”
Borsk saw confirmations click in from all shipboard batteries, and seconds later the darkness outside was lit up by dozens of energy beams.
“Throne…” he said to himself, as the Independence hurled towards the station.

Mission time: 7:10:01

In the airlock, Ultramarines Sergeant Desaries Thyne considered his options. His borrowed helmet lacked the luxuries of his own helmet, but it would do. The readouts on his squad status were somewhat less reassuring however. Battle Brother Tauron was still in the medical tank, and Battle Brothers Thracius and the Death Guard were still recovering from their horrible wounds. The very thought of it made the scar on his neck sting. He would make the traitors pay. Soon enough he would make them pay. The scene outside had resembled the vision that Word Bearer bastard had subjected him to in his cell. His hands balled into fists.

“Twenty seconds!”

The human captain’s voice sounded tense over the intercom and it brought Sergeant Thyne back to the present.
A chain axe roared in a test run nearby. The blood crazed World Eater and the savage Space Wolf had their choler up. They wanted to tear some traitors apart. They would have to wait. Now was not the time for a boarding operation. They had both complained, of course, but current mission objectives were too important to be ignored.
The enemy fleet before them was too weak to engage Terminal 509 directly, but they were strong enough to keep any small craft from escaping the approaching rift. The Independence would give them one hell of a surprise though.

“Ten seconds!”

Sergeant Thyne’s eyes gazed over the remains of his Astartes squad. Drask seemed to find it impossible to stand still, pacing about and idly swinging his chain axe, thoroughly unnerving the ship’s armsmen. The Space Wolf on the other hand seemed preoccupied with using a chain sword to get something out of his fangs.
They all felt a slight bump as the docking procedure commenced.
“For the Emperor!” Sergeant Thien growled, “For the Emperor!” his brothers responded.

Mission time. 7:10:29

This was not how he would have gone about it. No, it would be an inglorious end to perish in the void onboard a broken up space station. This was not the way of the World Eaters. Drask would have boarded the nearest enemy craft instead of slipping around them like a whipped dog.

The chainaxe felt natural in his hand, it called out for blood. Would he need his rage today? Yes. No maybe not, not now, he needed to keep his choler cool. The Ultramarine sergeant said so. He said they need to get other Battle Brothers off the doomed station. Drask thought of Brother Sergeant Ceorl and the other World Eaters, engaged elsewhere in the system, and not for the first time he wished he was with them.

The moment the hatch dropped, Drask was off the ramp. He was ready for a fight. He wanted a fight. The bloodshed in the prison had not been enough. With a killer’s trained eye he quickly scanned the room, but all he found was a group of forlorn looking station crew. Drask’s armor was still was covered in coagulated blood, and he relished the fear it inspired in the mortals. Halkrson came up behind him. The presence of the wolf brother put a damper to his instinctive inclination to kill everyone in the dock.

A bulkhead door slid open and Drask’s grip on the growling chain axe tightened. But this was no enemy. An Ultramarine with ornamented armor and captain markings stepped into the dock. It was Captain Gallus. Drask’s grip on the chain axe reluctantly lessened.

“Brother Captain, good to see you! Sir, you need to get off this station. "

Sergeant Thyne stepped down the ramp past Drask and shook hands with the new arrival.
The Ultramarine captain nodded.
“Figured it when that anomaly opened up behind us. It is already pulling the station out of orbit. Those traitor ships have kept us here. Shooting down anyone trying to board them.”
The two Ultramarines leaned closer, and Drask strained hear their conversation. He noticed the grim expression on his Sergeant’s face when the word ‘Witchcraft’ was mentioned. Rogue psykers, bah. Who cared about such nonsense? Drask only needed to know where he could find them.

Other Astartes began to appear, some twenty-five of them, some of them part of the captain’s Honour Squad. He noticed Halkrson keeping watch with an alert gaze and repositioned closer to him. The wolf brother was different than his twelfth legion brothers, so different. But he briefly wondered how different Angron really was from Leman Russ. Not that it mattered. Drask didn’t care.

“All right, brothers…”

The captain’s commanding voice sounded across the deck.
“It is time that we take this fight to the enemy! We have identified the command ship of the rag tag fleet out there. It is a Strike Cruiser known as the Covenant. Whoever is in charge is either a fool… or inviting a trap. Its escorts are too far away to provide close support, so with the support of the Independence, we should be able to board it. Brother Sergeant Thien, please continue…”
Sergeant Thien stepped forward.
“The Independence will provide cover under its guns while we target the Strike Cruiser for boarding. We have three Stormbirds operational for this operation. Target’s will be assigned as the following…”
Drask caught Halkrson’s eyes. The wolf brother smiled. In his hand, Drask could feel the chain axe growl. He would need his rage today after all.

Mission time: 7:32:59

Runolf cleaved another red-clad crewman in half with a roar. Next to him, the World Eater Drask was hatefully pummeling a fallen mortal into pieces. Sergeant Thien emptied another clip into the last man standing. That was it, the hallway was clear. Or as clear as it can get when it is covered in the blood of forty enemy armsmen. Truth is, Runolf didn’t really enjoy killing these hapless fools. No sport in it. But it vexed him that Sergeant Thyne’s team was assigned as distraction while Captain Gallus’ squad stormed the Strike Cruiser’s bridge. They would probably face traitor marines. Worthwhile opponents. Not this rabble.

A voice suddenly boomed across the shipboard voxnet
“All hands, this is Brother Sergeant Honorious of the Thirteenth Legion Astartes, Ultramarines. We have secured the ship. Your captain is dead and the bridge is back under the Emperor’s control. Lay down your arms and surrender.”

“Surrender, huh”, said Runolf aloud. None of these scum would live to surrender if it was up to him. Nevertheless, the sound of firing died down as the last pockets of resistance surrendered or were crushed.

Sergeant Thien led a sweep down the hall, but they found no more survivors. Not that it surprised Runolf. They had left a vast trail of mangled bodies all the way back to the insertion point. Runolf figured he could account for most of them, but he was unsure. Unlike his legionary brothers, the World Eater and the Ultramarine didn’t seem to be interested in keeping count. Drask seemed to be enjoying himself immensely though.

They had made it all the way down the adjoining corridor when voice on the voxnet sounded again, tense this time, “Sergeant Thien to the bridge please.”

Mission time: Unknown

Aszhek Tauron floated across a vast ocean of strange wonderful light. His Tutelary was guiding him towards a beautiful mountain in the distance.
Images went through his head. Memories maybe? A sorcerer suspended in the Void. A Raven. A sacrifice of the essence of a champion. A rift in the universe. An all consuming maw. The death of thousands. A fortress torn apart by ravenous mouths. The sorcerer was familiar. Why?
“What you see is the beginning of the end… long may it be… ”
A voice?
Where was he? He didn’t remember. The mountain took shape. Tizca. He remembered that. Prospero. Was he home?
“No brother, you are not home. Not yet.”
Where did that voice come from? Tauron hovered over the strange ocean. His Tutelary seemed anxious. He looked around but could feel no other presence.
“We do not have much time here, brother. They are coming for you.”
The voice again. Shapes in the ocean. Someone was searching for him. Hunting.
“Void predators, brother. They sense your presence. We must be careful.”
Tauron spun around. The ocean was above him now. He felt dizzy.
“Show yourself, stranger” he called into the void.
A figure appeared in shimmer of light. It was clad in dark red Astartes plate. A sad look in dark eyes.
Word Bearer. Enemy.
Tauron steeled himself for combat. The more experienced members of his Fellowship had often talked about fighting in the Empyrean. He no longer had any doubts about where he was.
“I am a son of Magnus the Red, I am a scholar and warrior of Prospero, a loyal warrior of the Emperor of mankind. Prepare to die, traitor”
The other didn’t move. But his dark eyes lit up.
“I know what you are, brother.”
A spear materialized in Tauron’s hand. But before he could wield it, the other gently laid his hand on his.
“Conserve your strength, brother. You may need it soon enough.”
Tauron found his will diminishing. It was uncanny, those dark eyes. Like they could see into his soul. Calming his choler.
“We have gone too far, brother. Much too far.”
The Word Bearer’s voice was low and mournful.
“So much death. Deceived. Deceivers.”
He shook his head.
“What are you talking about, Word Bearer? Why is Lorgar doing this? Does he even know?”
Tauron tried to raise his spear, but the other’s grip tightened like an iron fist.
The other held his gaze.
“Oh, Lorgar knows, brother. He knows. But then again Lorgar was betrayed. Betrayed by his own kin. By his own Legion. There are those even now plotting to overthrow this Empire. I known, because my Legion knows. I know because my Legion is not alone in this.”
With a howl of rage, Tauron ripped the spear free of the other’s grasp. He was about to fling it at the Word Bearer, but the weapon meekly disintegrated in his hand.

The other shrugged it off. For a fleeting moment Tauron thought he could see a smirk. “Your pain is understandable, brother. I would not believe it myself, even despite everything I’ve seen. Our Legion is doomed to join the fallen, but others will follow.”
“What others, speak sense traitor? What are you talking about?”
With lightning speed, the Word Bearer threw a hand around Tauron’s neck, his eyes burning. The Tutelary fled in panic. Tauron recoiled as the very essence of the other radiated pain. Like a hand held over a fire.
“Your rage, brother. It draws the predators near!”
Fear? Tauron was unsure, but the dark eyes soon turned sad again.
“…But you tell me, brother. Your Legion has been called to Prospero. Your liege lord is to answer to the Emperor for crimes he did not commit. Did you know this? Did you know what the other Legions are saying about you?”
Witchcraft. The other didn’t say it. Didn’t have to.
The grip felt like iron, Tauron fought back, enraged at the accusations, but he found it impossible to free himself.
“Either way, brother, all that is irrelevant now, unless you stop my Legion here. And you must stop them. Sol Invictus is the gateway to Terra. If the traitors secure it, they will have access to launch an overwhelming surprise attack before that stuck-up Dorn can muster the defenses. And they will.”
The other gently relaxed his grip.
“The chaplain Halrun, you know him, yes? He is on Populonia right now preparing a vast army in the shadows. You must alert your brothers. You must alert the Empire! The root of my Legion’s treachery runs deep. They have allies throughout the system. Sol Invictus naval base is infiltrated, but not in immediate danger, but if Populonia falls, the traitors will be unstoppable.”

Tauron ceased his struggle, listening now.
“And why are you telling me this Word Bearer?”
The other let him go, allowing Tauron to float away. The dark eyes looked away into the void.
“…We killed our own, you know. Our own brothers. Those of us who didn’t want to go down the dark path.”
The notion almost made Tauron sick to his stomach.
“Your own brothers? Vile traitors! Monsters!”
No mere word could describe it… The thought alone was disturbing beyond belief.
“Yes we did. I did… Brother, I may be lost and dammed, but I will do what I can to make this right. I tried to warn… another, but he wouldn’t listen. Not that I can blame him. Now I’m trying to warn a fellow gifted. If my brethren discover me, they will kill me, but this is a sacrifice I am content to make.”
The Word Bearer was looking into the ocean, scanning for the shapes that were drawing closer by the second.
“We are out of time. You must go to Populonia, brother. My Legion is there in force. They have armed the filthy multitude you know as the Cult of the Serpent. Right now they are seizing armories all over the hive cities. Protect the government. Protect the governor. Halrun himself is going for the Spire. But first, you must return to your brothers. I think that they have made it out of Halrun’s little trap. Wake up, now. The battle with these abominations is not yet yours to fight.”
Tauron was suspicious, not knowing what to believe. The shapes took form, shark-like being, foul mouths full of fangs. They were coming for them.
“I promise nothing, but what you say disturbs me. What is your name, Word Bearer?”
The other willed two swords into existence and braced himself for the predators. Tauron began fading away into nothing.
“…My name is Taninn.”

Mission time: 7:45:17

Captain Gallus was down. Felled on the bridge. He wasn’t dead, but he didn’t seem to be alive either. The lone Word Bearer on the bridge has struck him with a psychic attack of some sort, then disappeared. The captain’s eyes were white.

“Witchcraft”, Runolf sneered. Drask nodded. The World Eater stood next to the Space Wolf and regarded the solemn Ultramarines with disinterest.
Outside the Strike Cruiser the small enemy fleet has dispersed. Terminal 509 was gone. Consumed by the warp rift. Some of the crew had been unable to evacuate in time, but most of the essential equipment had been secured. Unfortunately, it left them without a base of operations.

Sergeant Thyne watched apothecary Neitos work the fallen. Gallus down, unbelievable. Now he was pretty much the ranking NCO.
The traitors had surprised him. ‘Witchcraft’ was what Captain Gallus had termed it. Whatever it was, it was a powerful weapon. The enemy had ejected a human from their ship. He should have perished in the void but he didn’t. Instead he had done something to open that Warp rift. The crew had heard him laughing. They had heard voices when the rift tore in the void. But that was impossible. Sound doesn’t travel in space.
“We will cut open the universe.”
It reminded him of something.
No matter… The enemy they faced were deceivers.
At least he had received good news from the Independence. Battle Brother Tauron was awake, and doing better. With Apothecary Neitos preoccupied, Brother Kassel, the Iron Warriors Tech Marine was attending to him. The other two wounded from his squad was also doing better. He had requested their immediate transfer to the Strike Cruiser.
The other news was not so good however. Apparently Populonia was rocked by riots. Confusing reports from Cassandria, and no reports at all from the World Eaters on Caligine.

So be it. They were few, but they were ready. Perhaps this liberated Strike Cruiser would need a new name. A name that would symbolize its role in the war to come?
Across the bridge the other Astartes were looking to him now. It was indeed time to take the fight to the enemies.

But where?

The Imperial Navy at Sol Invictus had still not committed. The governor on Populonia would have the clearance to bypass communications blackout restrictions by an emergency channel, the Imperial Hammer One directive. Well, that was certainly an option.

Thyne met the gaze of each of his remaining Astartes. The decision was his…

Mission Debriefing:

Operations Report Sol Invictus 01

Debriefing of Battle Brother Jonah Deavechis

View
3. Reach of the Heresy
The Plot Thickens

The Enemy's Foulness

Bloody and broken you wake up to the sound of someone arguing. “Dispatch them to the hells you serve. They’re not useful anymore.” Reeling from the combined blows of hundreds of cultists, you find yourselves awake in a dark and foul-smelling chamber. The very stench of the room affronts your senses and the familiar philters of your armour are not present to remove the sting of ammonia that the room reeks of.

Scanning yourselves and your immediate surroundings, you realize that you are stripped to a loincloth, your mouthes are gagged and your arms and legs are bound. The bindings are constricting and the realization that this could be the end for you all is dawning on you. As if on cue the door to the chamber opens and in the lit doorway stands a Word Bearer. His outline is the only thing visible until he turns on the light in your cell. A sharp flourescent light blinds you for a moment as your eyes adjust to the sudden brightness and when your eyes have adjusted to some degree, you can see the grin on the Word Bearer’s face, which in no small part has to do with your predicament. He is clad in the bright red armour of the Word Bearers and grizly trophies of shrunken heads and warped stars are attached with iron chains to it.

“I am glad that you are awake, my pretties.”

He steps into the room and brandishes a dagger of dubious origin. The obsidian blade holds an otherworldly glow to it and as he steps closer and grabs Thien by the neck, you can feel an unnatural chill emanating from the blade. He forces Brother Desaries to his feet, takes him away from your holding cell and turns out the light. The screams of your battle brother can be heard from your cell and you steel your minds in an attempt to shun the horrors that await you in the dark.

After what seems an eternity, the screaming stops although you are uncertain if your battle brother is dead or merely unconscious and you attempt to summon the rotes taught to you, by your mentors, to quiet your mind.

Your inner clock tells you that several days have passed since you last were approached by a living being. Your battle brother has not returned to the cell and it seems as if you are being left to rot in this hell-hole. Then footsteps can be heard on the metal grating floor outside of your cell, although it could also be a mirage

“What in Terra’s name have they done to you?”

A beautiful woman is standing in the blinding light of the cell entrance,. Her auburn hair seems almost surrounded by a halo of golden light and as your eyes adjust, you see an image of horror written on her face. She enters the cell and removes the bonds holding you prisoner while explaining:

“My name is Julia. I thought this was something else.” She bursts into tears at this moment.
“I never meant for something like this. The Word Bearers brought news that the Emperor was a god, and how could he have been anything else. But to treat his sons in this way, dreadful.” She stops sulking and turns her eyes to Battle Brother Drask.
“You must get them out of here. Your brother is down the hall, last door on the right. Steel yourselves for the meeting with Him. His gaze is unflinching and seductive.”
You cannot help but feel sorry for this poor creature living in a den of moral corruption. Your chance for redemption in the fires of war is, in no small part, her doing.
“Your armour and equipment have been taken away by the Butcher, the one that took your brother to his holding cell. You must go now and swear to come save me when you have the strength.”
A sharp desire to save the wretched female from the extreme danger she must be in, as a result of her aid in your escape builds inside you, yet you must neglect that emotion and brace yourselves for the trials ahead.

Primary Objectives:
- Escape to freedom.
- Report back to Captain Gallus and inform him of the reach of the heresy.

Secondary Objectives:
- Recover your battle brother or his Gene-seed.
- Eliminate the Traitor marines.

Tertiary Objectives:
- Destroy the Cult of the Serpent.
- Recover your armour and equipment

Debriefing

As seen through the eyes of Battle Brother Runolf Halkrson

I awoke in a cell along with brother Drask and and Brother Azhek, a maiden who presented herself as Julia freed us from our bonds and form our cell. Drask and I decided that, since we did not know where we where and what to expect, our best course of action would be to locate and liberate our equipment before attempting to free our other brothers, fortunately Julia could point us in the right direction for this. Azhek chose to linger and scout ahead in the other direction. Drask and I carefully made our way to a sealed of bulkhead door with a sign saying Armoury. Nearby we could see a guard room, and as I peeked around the corner I could see six men playing cards. It very soon became clear that they were already alerted of our presence, so we threw caution and stealth to the wind and charged into the room, armed only with metal pipes. My first blow almost took the nearest guards one leg clean off, and as two of the others opened fire at me I threw the metal pipe at the nearest and picked up the guard I had downed moments before and used him as a make-shift club to beat the life out of his allies. Drask went about the battle with his usual effeciency clubbing the life out of the guards. In a matter of seconds all that were left of them, were bloody chunks scattered around the room. But we did find a keycard that allowed us entry to the armoury.
In the armoury we found our armors, although they were all missing bits and pieces, but even so, we managed to put together an almost entire suit of armor for everyone. We also found some weapons, mostly guardsman guns that were too small for us to use properly, but most importantly some chainswords and chainaxes that we could use. While we were donning the armors, Azhek joined up with us along with sergeant Desaris, who had been horribly mangled by our captors. They had carved filthy symbols into his flesh and operated upon him removing his progenoid glands. Azhek told us that he had engaged a mechanicum adept who were in the process of torturing the sergeant and after a brutal fight where Azhek had nearly been burned to death he had bested his opponent and freed the Sergeant. Although the Word Bearer that had been present had managed to escape, apparently through means of witchcraft.
Before long, I saw Julia coming towards us, her eyes filled with tears. She bade us come with her, and led us to a cell where our last two member of the squad were lying in a state more dead than alive. We helped them into what remained of their armors and had them injected with pain supressants so that they could at least walk along with us, though it was doubtful how useful they would be should it come to a fight.
We swept through the rest of that sublevel without meeting any more resistance and found a few supplies, chief amongst which were some bolt pistols and a few rounds. in the end we found a cargo lift, that could take us to the rest of the facility.
We systematically searched the levels from the bottom for any signs of our captors or anything that could give us any insight into why the Word Bearers were rebelling against the emperium, but found nothing.
On one sublevel we saw several thousand humans that seemed to be watching a few battles, but we chose to circumvent these as fighting them was not of importance at the moment. On another sublevel we found some cogitator units that Azhek tried to retrieve information from, but they were not powered up, when he tried to power them up, we saw sparks flying from his armor and the whole level went dark. Azhek cursed as he apparently had ended up shortcircuiting not only the cogitators, but also his power armor in the process.

We moved on, searching the level upwards for anything that could be considered useful or any sign of our enemy. On one of the higher sublevels we found a plan of the facility, and it became clear that there were only two points of interest left there for us; a barracks level and a command level. We decided to split up in two groups to make a simultaneous assault on both levels. Sergeant Desaris, Thracius and I would advance to the command level, while Drask, Azhek and the deathguard would sweep through the barracks.
On the command level we engaged multible enemies there was a bunch of guards along with several extraordinarii which seemed to be led by a robed man who was covered in flies. the sergeant and the devastator quickly shot the robed man down with their boltpistols while I engaged the nearest targest in melee. I made short work of the nearest guards and pressed on towards the extraordinarii on the left flank as the sergeant engaged the ones on the right flank and Thracius, who was still a sight for sore eyes, was less than lucky avoiding the shots of the remaining guards, before long he was completely unable to fight on. The sergeant went into hand to hand combat with three extraordinarii and found himself in dire need of help, but luckily I had finished with my enemies and thus was able to engage them from the rear and before long only one remained, which allowed me to focus on the remaining guards as the sergeant held up the last extraordinarii, until I was finished.
We received a less than coherent sit rep from Drask, that seemed to imply that things had not gone too smoothly in the barracks, and I went there as fast as I could. Though once there, I could see that even though Drask had made his usual mess out of every living soul there. The room was covered in blood and several hundred dead bodies littered almost every inch of the floor in the huge room. The deathguard and Azhek were both lying down, one on top of the other in a pool of their own blood. Azhek was especially badly hurt, and I could see he was missing both fingers and toes, the apothecaries will have some serious work to do with him before he will be of any use to anyone again, but he did manage to say that he had tried to keep the guards of the fallen deathguard, who, like Thracius, had begun the battle already badly battered.
From there we did not encounter any more resistance, which was probably for the best as we had all taken damage, and most of our battle brothers were now in such a sorry state that they could barely support themselves. Although I am certain that Drask would not mind spilling the blood of more of these guards for turning away from the embrace of the Emperor. We did however find an armoury, containing alot of weapons, and rarely have I seen an ultramarine give such a show of emotion, as when Desaris found his own powersword “Lucian” there. I did not find my own weapons, but I did find a Power Fist, that I decided to put to good use rather than old and battered chain axe I had found earlier.
We saw no signs of the Word Bearer that Azhek and Desaris had encountered earlier, but Desaris found out that he had left the planet, heading for Terminal 509 with the intent of destroying the station as they had earlier tried.
Heading upwards into the open air, we found ourselves on a completely different world than where we had been captured. It seemed that we had been taken to Cassandria. We followed a road towards the nearest structure, and were greeted by the Guards of House Furian who led us to their master. The lord Furian proved to be the first person in a long time, who showed the respect expected towards astartes, and he did all he could to help us send a message to terminal 509 and even managed to get a hold of Captain Alfidus who came to pick us up and take us offworld.

View
2. Talons of Deprecation

Populonia

The attack on Terminal 509 has left it terribly undermanned and Captain Gallus is in dire need of intelligence. While the daily briefings have been suspended, the captain has asked for your presence on the deck.
“The sabotage attempt of the Word Bearers has left us in a state of turmoil. It has also provided us with treachery in our midsts. I’m now certain that I can trust you as your concerted actions during the attack where beyond reproach. We have confirmed the identity of the frigate that attacked the station. It is the Gladius-class Frigate Vampire, currently assigned to the in-system Navy 918th Reserve Group.”
The captain reaches for a rune on the holodisplay in front of him.
“Here is a manifest sent to us by Port Sol Invictus. Whether the Imperial Navy knows that we are tracking this frigate or not, does not matter at this moment, and as all their forces are locked down in the defence of the space port we shouldn’t encounter problems with them turning on us. The manifest comes from the Free Shipping Guild and there is also a name attached. You will examine this document to the best of your abilities, travel to Populonia, clear the name of the captain of heresy or dispatch him if you find him traitor, bring the Word Bearers to justice and finally disclose if this treachery is part of a greater scheme.”

Primary Objectives:
- Follow the trail of the Vampire to Populonia and the Free Shipping Guild.
- Capture or destroy the Vampire.
- If possible, capture the crew of the Vampire and bring them back to Terminal 509.

Secondary Objectives:
- Locate Azanigin Tactical Squad and their leader, Brother Chaplain Halrun

Tertiary Objectives:
- Seek to discover how far the heresy reaches.

Player Handouts 2

View
1. Whispers in the Void

Navy image2

Briefing:

Terminal 509 experiences a blackout. It appears that someone is trying to sabotage the station

Primary Objective:
- Investigate the station blackout, find the Saboteur, if any

Mikkel – Drask– World Eaters Assault
Kim – Runolf Halkrson – Space Wolves Assault
Rubækium – Thracius – Dark Angels Devastator
Rune – Aszhek Tauron – Thousand Sons Tactical
Nikolaj – Desaries Thien – Ultramarines Tactical Sergeant

Player Handouts 1

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