I feel like I am a little late to the party, but this is my write up of the Final Sanction run through I participated in on Free RPG day at my FLGS. It was really a very fun session, but our GM had a tough time keeping things on task - everyone kept chatting off on tangents about random geeky stuff. It was still a good time, but meant that we didn't get to all of the bits in the mission, so there were a couple of points where the GM "skipped ahead" - these should be apparent in the write up.
Also, I originally wrote this with only the free booklet to look at, so there are a number of situations where I did not know the full rules (not having played the other two RPGs), and this may show in the way I wrote some things. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy!
Epic Tales of Bravery and Daring from My Time in the Deathwatch
By: Brother Sköld of the Space Wolves
Ah what a grand beginning to my glorious service in the Deathwatch! And at last I have found a ready ear to tell it to! Sworn as we are to secrecy, I know I can never speak of these events to any outside this enigmatic order, but I can and shall regale you, Brother. Perhaps you can then pass it on once my term is up and I head back to Fenris. Glorious tales such as this should be told after all and not simply fade into obscurity!
I must admit that I was at first rather wary of how things might go during the time I was to be seconded to the Inquisition. The Kill Team I was assigned to consisted of myself and three other Battle Brothers, each from a different Chapter, and none nearly sociable enough for my taste. We had been dispatched on our first Mission together in response to call for aid from Inquisitor Kalistradi of the Ordo Xenos, our destination a backwater of an Agri-world called Avalos reportedly under siege by a rather sizable Genestealer cult.
I had thought to spend our time traveling from the Watch Fortress by boldly regaling my new squad mates with some rousing tales of the Great Hunt I had been fortunate to take part in, such was my excitement and eagerness to revel in a shared passion for violence and the general being about of the Emperor’s work. However, they would have none of it, and I was rebuffed in turn by each, every one for his own reason.
I had first approached our Apothecary, an upstanding member of the proud Ultramarines by the name of Brother Lucian, thinking that his past experiences fighting the foul Tyranid menace would give us a common starting point – as I had the chance to crush some of the foul gribbly little bugs during one leg of the Hunt. But the Apothecary had his nose buried in a book or glued to a cogitator terminal almost the entire journey. I didn’t ever let that stop me from starting a tale, but he always cut me short with a clear indication that he was busy researching our destination, and reviewing methods of first aid as they apply to normal humans. He claimed an expectation that medical assistance for the local forces might be needed on our arrival. He was never rude, but by Russ’s beard! Studying to that extent so frequently seems so dull! Hmmm… I guess I would still rather have the Brother who may have to patch up any bullet holes I get know what he is about.
Well, next I tried our resident heavy, Brother Sepheran, a Devastator from the noble Blood Angels Chapter. No better luck there, however! When I could find him out of his chambers, he was at target practice on the lower decks, or performing maintenance on his Heavy Bolter. As to the former, well, anyone who has been present when such a weapon is being fired knows that such precludes any hope of conversation. When I cornered him doing the latter, I thought for sure he would enjoy some of my tales of the brutal close assaults I took part in whilst fighting the simple brutish greenskins on an Ork held world, knowing the reputation his Chapter has for melee lust. But far from excited at the chance to swap tales, or interested in the awesome carnage I described, he only listened with a quiet intensity and asked all manner of questions regarding what kind of fire support patterns we had set up – as if I were a Long Fang! – and what Strategic information had led to our decision to charge when we did. Bah! Talk about missing the point! I wasn’t trying to give some blasted schola lesson on tactics – this was an epic saga of heroic battle. At least with his tendency for careful thought he proves how well suited to fire support he is. That is something I suppose.
Uggh. That left only one other member of our team, and I almost did not bother at all. In fact, I tried spending time with some of our ship’s crew first. But the lower ratings aboard were too in awe of my mighty form and presence, and respectfully found ways to excuse themselves from me as soon as possible. Perhaps I overplayed my hand a bit when it came to smiling… I oft forget that the Canis Helix and Betcher’s Gland have made my fangs fairly imposing to simple humans – which would explain the pervasive scent of fear whilst in their presence… ah well. I took a shot at conversing with the ship’s Captain next. An honorable man by the name of Haltrene, I could tell that even he was uncomfortable around me, though not outright fearful. While he appreciated my stirring tales from a general “Smite All Foes of the Emperor!” standpoint, it was clear he was struggling to relate to such awesome might as we Astartes yield. While I do not feel that the time I spent with him was wasted, it left me aching for the company of another Marine. Thus, with all other avenues exhausted, I finally sought out the last Battle Brother on board.
Brother Elyas, an Assault Marine of the despicable Dark Angels Chapter, had been avoiding me as much as I had him, which was just fine if anyone else were available. To be fair, I suppose it would be most accurate to say he had been avoiding everyone, for like all his contemptible brethren, he had a shifty nature about him. Always glaring at any who addressed him as if any comment or question was somehow an attempt to pry into his personal affairs – as though anyone would ever care what one of those sneaky secret keepers was up to! Hmph! At least I was able to learn that his temperament was suitably fiery for close line duties – even if I discovered this because he threatened me with harm if I ever insulted him again. Pah! All I said was that I had just been on a Great Hunt for our lost Primarch, adding much honor to our Chapter in the process. Well, that, and I pointed out how important honor was to my Chapter – unlike some who would be willing to strike a brother unaware. His response was scathing and I was most pleased to see the veins on his forehead pop out. I think I might have provoked him further just for a good scrap, but I know too well that I have bigger concerns than some sneaky robe wearing… Okay, okay, all four of us – even the Dark Angel – have more important things to do. I decided that as boring as it seemed, it fell to me to be the voice of reason, so I prodded Elyas to save his choler for the Genestealer cult we were on our way to face.
Thankfully, the time passed reasonably swiftly, between my many and varied attempts at conversation, a bit of weapons practice and some attempts at drinking what the ship’s quartermaster tried to pass off as alcohol – assuring me that it did a hearty number on off duty crew. Pah! I had not expected Mjod, but still…
Before long we were entering the Avalos system, and the real fun began. We had not even entered orbit when we were set upon by a number of Tyranid ships, which was a bit of a dire surprise. The infestation must have been much further advanced than our intelligence had indicated, for Hive ships to already be present, and us without advance warning. A virtually complete ambush against Captain Haltrene’s relatively light class of ship by a swarm of hungry space monsters was only ever going to end poorly, but thankfully we had been prepared to make planetfall and were already aboard our drop pod. The Captain valiantly pushed his ship to the very limit in order to fight his way into position that we might launch, and fired our pod only moments before the hull gave way. No finer a death can be had than one in service to the Throne, but I would not wish being eaten by those nasty things on anyone… Hmmm… well, maybe…. no, not even a Dark Angel.
Our pod locked on to an Inquisitorial transponder signal, and auto-adjusted our course moments before slamming down with a resounding assortment of noises that could be heard even over the firing of the “brakes” – the massive retro rocket that is meant to stop the pod from burying itself in a crater too deep for even an Astartes to crawl out of. With a thunderous crash the pod doors banged open, or at least some what. Several doors stuck partway open as they met resistance from some form of solid obstruction. Checking that none of my gear had shaken loose during our landing, I scrambled up my half open portal and leapt from the severely tilted ramp with my bolter to the fore, ready to bring swift, explosive death to my foes – only to look around and realize that we had in fact crashed through the roof of an Imperial Chapel. The “obstructions” blocking the pod doors were in fact several statues of saints and even the main altar. With a grinding wheeze, the door I had just exited from won out in the struggle against some minor saint I did not recognize, smashing the statue to the ground where it quickly became the most sacrilegious kind of jigsaw puzzle.
“Oh, I am going to hell for that,” I muttered, wondering if it actually counted as sacrilege since we had not crashed there on purpose.
A low chuckle came from Brother Lucian, and I imagined the Apothecary would be rolling his eyes inside his helmet. Pointing towards the entrance to the temple, the Ultramarine indicated the obvious sounds of battle – the distinctive snap of lasrifles firing as well as an assortment of solid round weaponry accompanied shouts and screams. “Quickly, Brothers, towards the fighting!”
Falling into place as a unit, we hastily exited our crash… er, landing site, emerging into the city of Lordsholm to the sight of fires raging across the horizon. Clouds of smoke were evident even against the stormy night sky. Clearly the city was all but consumed by war. The scene immediately before us was equally desperate. A sizeable regiment of the Planetary Defense Force (PDF) had thrown together an effective, if somewhat hasty, barricade in the square outside the Chapel – dragging rubble, sandbags, and even bodies into place around the central figure of a wrecked Chimera APC. A depressingly narrow strip of the cemetery ground beyond the barricade had been cleared to provide a killing ground, with some of the larger statuary and headstones added to the barricade. Likely some misplaced form of reverence had kept the killing ground from being expanded, and thus the PDF’s opponents had far more cover with which to approach the barricades than I would have liked. Perhaps the PDF had intended to clear more but lacked time, I supposed, if I were so inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Ranged against the loyal forces was a vast horde of filthy rebels and cultists, who in sharp contrast to the reasonably disciplined lines of uniformed troopers were unified only by their ragged, unwashed appearance. My senses, sharper even than my fellow Astartes’ made it easy to pick out a few human/genestealer hybrids among the horde – most were recognizable by their slightly off colored skin, though a scattering of extra limbs was a big giveaway too. Their weaponry was of the poorest sort, and only barely had range to our lines, but with the sheer weight of fire even extreme ranged shots would take a toll.
As our Apothecary rushed to lend his aid to a group of wounded troopers, a new element entered play. A number of rebel heavy weapon teams had gotten some heavy stubbers to an elevated position in the tower of a ruined building just past the edge of the cleared ground, and were raking the PDF lines with a storm of bullets. The solid rounds were of hardly any concern to us with our Astartes Power Armor, but were quickly taking a terrible toll in dead and wounded amongst the humans. Brother Lucian would certainly be busy there for a bit, but meanwhile, those heavy stubbers had to be dealt with.
“Sepheran, suppressing fire on that tower! Elyas, use your jump pack to land amidst them and turn them to paste with your Power Fist!” I shouted, seizing upon a plan to end the threat.
The Dark Angel appeared eager for a moment before something seemed to give him pause. I thought it his innate distrust for others, or even that he might chafe under an order from a Space Wolf, but he was to prove my underestimation of him. “I think I see a better way, Sköld – that building is unsound. Look to the second level, I can see a main support through the caved in wall. If I had sufficient explosives, I could bring the entire structure to the ground!”
“Brother Sköld, I shall begin suppressing fire – see if the PDF has something sufficient to spare,” stated the Blood Angel Devastator. “The preference would be a large main charge and smaller explosive as well. I have a thought for how we might direct the building to collapse back upon the rebel force.”
In but a moment I had returned with a bundle of tank shells and assorted other things that go boom, handing the entire package to Elyas. Brother Sepheran directed the Assault Marine to place the smaller charge against the weak support we could see, and the larger charge to go off two seconds later on the support he had deduced should be just to one side.
The Dark Angel nodded and ignited his jump pack, soaring through the air in a majestic arc that took him across the killing ground and… into a solid wall. While some part of me chuckled at his failure to land in the large opening, I was far more pleased to see that he had smashed straight through the brickwork and was already on his feet placing the charges inside.
With an exasperated sigh that I barely made out over the clattering roar of his heavy bolter, Sepheran grumbled: “He’s placing them in reverse of my instructions. Ah well, it will still at least account for the heavy weapons teams.”
I turned back just in time to see Elyas take off from the opening he had smashed in the wall, clipping his arm on a protruding pipe, and arcing across the sky in a far less majestic fashion than his first jump. I think it was the sheer magnitude of how dumbfounded I was at such awful operation of a jump pack that kept me from reacting quickly enough when he dropped out of the sky scant meters in front of me and barreled head over heels into my shins. We tumbled back, tangled together from the force of his botched landing, snarling and cursing.
With a resonant blast, the explosives detonated and the building collapsed straight downwards. The effect was impressive and certainly spelled doom for the rebels atop it, but sadly caused minimal – if any – collateral damage.
As the Dark Angel and I scrabbled to get up from the ground, a furious challenge was roared forth from the rebel lines. A massive figure – for a human, at any rate – strode forward, brandishing a chainsword as he charged towards the PDF lines. Looking up from the wounded soldier he had just finished tending right next to the barricade, Brother Lucian leapt the barrier with no effort, and closed the gap to meet the enemy champion head on in three long strides. Lucian swung his own chainsword in a vicious arc, and the brute facing him wrenched his torso violently backwards. All bravado dissolved in the face of an Astartes, as much taller than the rebel champion as he was taller than a normal human, and far bulkier in power armor. A look of sheer panic was his sole expression as the Apothecary’s roaring weapon chewed the air a hairsbreadth away. The horrifically outclassed traitor tried a return stroke with his own whirring blade, but his lack of skill combined with how off balance his desperate dodge had left him made the attack look like a weakened bird flapping a broken wing. The Ultramarine allowed the scum neither time nor room to recover, and his next stroke caught the rebel’s bloodstained flak jacket right above the shoulder – the rapidly spinning teeth tearing into the material and pulling the blade onward into the hybrid’s neck. Spitting gore and chunks of skin, the chainsword tore through the rebel’s flesh, sending his head spinning away to the side.
“Impressive,” opined the Blood Angel, “but I would have just shot him.”
A ripple of dismay flowed through the rebel lines as their chosen champion was so summarily dispatched, but in moments it was replaced with an overwhelming roar. An enormous mob of the rabble charged across the killing ground in what at first appeared to be a pointless, suicidal ploy. In spite of their numbers, they would surely be destroyed before they could successfully storm the barricade. But then I spotted the sappers in their midst – rebels armed with melta bombs and demo charges. Surrounded by the horde, they might just survive long enough to reach the barricade and tear it wide open. Calling across the loyalist vox net, I alerted both the PDF and the rest of my Kill Team of the danger. Brother Lucian, still on the far side of the barricade, was the closest and thus the first to clash with the mass of unwashed bodies. Swinging his chainsword in the middle of so many foes, he simply could not miss, but his attacks did little to blunt the sheer number of opponents as they swarmed around him. In return, the horde rained blows with a wide assortment of improvised weapons upon the Ultramarine – all for naught as they pattered harmlessly off his armor – little more than hard rain. Still, the weight of numbers alone would soon overwhelm him if something were not done.
With a final curse, Brother Elyas dragged himself away from me and to his feet. “By the Lion! I can not roll worth a gretchin’s teeth tonight! And to have my fall broken by you – surely I am being punished for something.”
Doubtless gritting his teeth, the Dark Angel once more took off, this time blasting across the sky in a far shallower arc, landing in the midst of the foe with bone crunching force, and laying about himself with his massive Power Fist. The Assault Marine’s strength alone would have made every blow fatal, but the crackling energy field caused heads and torsos to explode in showers of powdered bone and liquefied organic matter with each swing. Still, even the horrific toll upon rebel lives he inflected with each swipe was as nothing before their immense numbers.
On my own feet at last, I fired my bolter on full auto, four round bursts barking forth to detonate within the disordered mass of the foe. Every pull of the trigger saw more rebels fall – as many as four or five at a time if the bolts detonated just right. Again, it was simply not enough, and the throng of rebels pressed ever closer to the barricade with their deadly payload.
Lucian cleared a small space for himself with a massive sweep of his chainsword, and began tossing frag grenades into the mass of enemies. First one and then a second sailed from his hand. The first toss sailed a bit far, and landed behind the largest concentration of enemies. The explosion claimed lives, but too few. The next grenade landed better, and the press of snarling bodies thinned more noticeably.
Brother Sepheran had been moving into position, and finally cleared his line of sight past our allies and the barricade. The freshly reloaded heavy bolter in his hands roared, adding its mighty clatter of rage to the battle. Firing in long bursts, the weapon’s shells, even larger than those of a standard bolter, wrecked vast amounts of havoc amongst the remaining rebels. Bodies were torn to pieces from within as the mass reactive bolts detonated in explosions so large that those near the impact were burned and concussed as well.
The swirling melee had brought Lucian and Elyas to within scant meters of the barricade, but with his last grenade, the Apothecary sealed the fate of the rebel charge. Their numbers thinned too far, the remaining wretches began to break off and flee towards their own lines. None made it as the combined fire of the PDF and our Kill Team picked them off.
With this desperate push utterly routed, the remaining rebels melted away, retreating back into the city. This battle was won, but now it was time to regroup and discuss with the Kill Team what our Objectives would be for this Mission. As we gathered together to converse, we were approached by an officer of the PDF, who introduced himself as Captain Ascote. He claimed that he was in overall command of this regiment and indeed all PDF in this section of the city. Thanking us for our timely intervention, the Captain requested we follow him to the Chapel where we had landed, for a private discussion.
Once inside, and out of sight of his men, Captain Ascote turned towards us and appeared to melt before our eyes. His features ran together in a vibrant smear, his shape became indistinct and appeared to waver, before re-solidifying into an obviously female form. My Brothers and I readily identified an assassin of the Callidus temple by the black sheen of the suit of synskin that covered her entire body, including her face.
The assassin introduced herself as Syndalla, an agent of the Inquisitor who had requested the dispatch of our Kill Team. She informed us that her mistress, Inquisitor Kalistradi, had left her here in the polymorphine induced disguise of the PDF Captain two days prior, with the goal of maintaining a stable beachhead for our arrival. The Inquisitor had delved deeper into the city with the intent of finding the Genestealer Broodlord – the primary source of the infestation that had clearly reached the point of critical mass and was now out of control. The assassin requested that we make efforts to locate and assist the Inquisitor, as well as find some method of sending a message off world requesting aid in stabilizing the city and defeating the Tyranid ships in orbit.
As we began to discuss our plan of action, I happened to look down and notice that my left greave had been smudged with a streak of dark green paint. With a snarl of rage and disbelief, I looked to Brother Elyas, the Dark Angel, and was horrified and incensed to find the corresponding smear of his right shoulder pad from where he had crashed into me. That my glorious armor should be so fouled by the color of one of his kind! Inconceivable!
We are the Silver Paladins.
Officium. Honor. Vires. Justitia. Vigilentia. Fides.
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I fear that I descended into something of a fugue state at that point, muttering to myself and trying in vain to scrub my shin clean – completely blanking out my surroundings and the events that followed until I looked up to find myself in Lordsholm’s Fabrica District, in front of a Promethium Refinery. This was the lair of the Broodlord, my brethren informed me, apparently well aware that I had not been completely cognizant of preceding events. Shaking myself to clear my head, I listened as Brother Lucian suggested we expend some krak grenades to set off the fuel in the refinery and blow the nest to orbit. While I certainly liked the idea of creating such an undoubtedly spectacular explosion, Brother Sepheran raised the first objection.
“We would not be able to ensure that the creature had died without a thorough search of the destruction for an identifiable body, which would be no mean feat in the best of circumstances. Would you want to be the one to warrant that the remains we located were absolutely the correct beast, only to have it rise anew in another part of the city?”
“If the explosion did not kill the monster, any time we spent looking would be doubly wasteful - only serving to allow it to get further from our reach,” the Dark Angel added.
The Apothecary reattached the krak grenade he had been holding to his belt. “Ah, for all we know the refinery may have been emptied of promethium already, and we would just be wasting time and grenades.”
“Not to mention the fact that blowing up an important piece of industrial infrastructure doesn’t really mesh with our trying to help the citizens of this city, does it?” I mused. “That would seem more in keeping with our enemy’s tactics than our own.” The Ultramarine nodded in understanding, but the other two Marines faced me with what I can only surmise must have been blank stares under their helmets. “Nothing for it but to root the bugger out the hard way.”
Our plan of action decided, I followed my Brothers into the factory. Curiously, the structure seemed untouched by war or violence of any kind. I was instantly wary precisely because it seemed so unaffected. Knowing what we did of how the Genestealer taint spread, it was clear that the lack of bodies or structural damage was because fighting had never taken place – the infestation had begun here, and so this area had only ever been occupied by Genestealers and the cultists under their sway.
As our team ventured further into the maze-like interior of the refinery, the shadow of a ghost of a whisper pricked at my senses, enhanced by the Canis Helix even beyond those of other Astartes’. Tracing the slight sound to the pipe work above us, I spotted the Genestealer in the rafters a moment before he leapt. The Dark Angel gave a cry of warning as he too caught sight of the alien filth, but Brothers Sepheran and Lucian had been focused to our fore and sides and as such took a moment to readjust before they could react.
Knowing that I could not fire my bolter in the refinery for fear of igniting any promethium that may be present, I readied my combat knife and struck out at the Tyranid creature as it darted towards me. The beast’s unnatural speed allowed it to easily dodge my strike, and it struck back at me with all four arms in return. The two which ended in almost human like hands scrabbled at my arms in an attempt to hold them while the two ending in vicious claws stabbed at my armor, but I was able to wrench my arms away and parry the claws with a well timed return sweep of my blade.
Brother Elyas charged at the Genestealer from behind, striking out with his Power Fist and catching the creature a glancing blow across the shoulder as it made to dart away again. The damage done was substantial, blasting a sizable chunk of exoskeletal bone away and exposing smoking, blistered flesh beneath. The creature screeched in fury and pain as it turned its attention to the Dark Angel, clearly wounded as it held the damaged arm to its chest, striking out with the uninjured appendage. The Assault Marine attempted to sway back from the flashing claws, but one sparked off his chest plate, thankfully doing no substantial damage.
Joining the fight, Brother Sepheran feinted at the snarling creature with his combat blade, drawing its attention long enough for Brother Lucian to slash his chainsword across the undefended back of the beast. The reek of burning bone assailed my nose as the whirring teeth chewed across the alien’s thick carapace, but did not penetrate further.
Four on one would seem poor odds indeed for the Genestealer, even more so when his foes were trained members of the Deathwatch – whose remit was the sure extermination of all foul Xenos – but the abominable insect more than matched our skill with its own ferocious speed and wicked claws. The creature’s injured arm quickly returned to action – whether it had healed, or the beast simple ignored the damage in rage I cannot say. Dodging and weaving, blocking and then swiping back, the Xenos scum seemed to appear untouchable.
After a particularly telling blow from the Genestealer managed to penetrate a weak section of my armor near the elbow, causing me to curse vibrantly, Brother Sepheran demonstrated the power of his calculating mind.
“Brother Sköld, coordinate with me to distract the creature so that our Brothers can use their more potent weaponry to full effect!”
Rapidly following up on the Blood Angel’s advice, the Kill Team came together in a glorious moment of perfect unison. Two combat blades harried the creature while Brother Lucian’s roaring chainsword screamed through the air just out of reach of its head. Crying out in Righteous Fury, the Assault Marine drove his crackling Power Fist into the Genestealer’s torso, the energy field blasting asunder flesh and chitin alike. The beast died without even being able to make a sound, as smoking ichor sprayed wide and a pile of messily disconnected limbs fell to the ground.
Clearing our weapons of any lingering Xenos taint, we proceeded further into the refinery. It was not long before we came upon a large pipe that had been violently torn open, bits of festering flesh and dried blood covering the area just inside. The reek of promethium wafted out at us as a testament to the pipe’s original purpose, but was not strong enough to fully mask the tainted stench of xenos that accompanied it. This was surely the entrance to the Broodlord’s nest itself. The pipe was large enough for us to walk upright, but only in single file. We rapidly decided upon a marching order after a moment’s conversation. The Assault Marine would lead the way to meet any foe with his mighty Power Fist, the Apothecary taking second place to provide medical assistance should Brother Elyas be wounded. Brother Sepheran would be third in file, his bulky Heavy Bolter a hindrance in the narrow confines of the pipe. I would take rear guard as I lacked the bulky jump pack of Elyas or the Ammo Hoppers of Sepheran, and thus would have the easiest time turning to face any foe from the rear.
We had gone several hundred meters – enough to take us out of the confines of the building we had initially entered – when, over the clanging of our boots on the metal pipe, I heard the faint scrabbling sound that told me a Genestealer was near. I called out a warning to my Brothers as I turned to face the alien that was bounding up the pipe towards me. Were I a lesser being than one of the Adeptus Astartes, a chill might have taken hold of me as a heavy shutter in the pipe slammed closed at my back – cutting me off from my fellow Marines. As it was, I was simply filled with a determination to destroy the foul beast, or die trying. HA! As if that could happen.
My first attack was intended to probe the Tyranid’s defenses, and I paid careful attention to the reaction of the xenos beast. Without appearing to exert any more than the slightest of effort, the foul thing moved around my blade’s arc and in turn scrabbled at my armor – striking me multiple times with several of its appendages, but thankfully doing no real damage.
My follow through started as a feint with my off hand, and I was able to stab into the thickest part of the creature’s lower arm – although the beast gave no indication that it even noticed, even as I twisted the blade whilst withdrawing it. In return, it caught me a glancing swipe across the cheek. I had forgone the use of my helmet in order that I might make the most of my enhanced senses – those of a Space Wolf outclassing even the other members of my Kill Team. The pain of the relatively shallow scratch was minor and served purely as information rather than a distraction. I was distinctly aware that the attack had been a near miss in regards to losing an eye, but this knowledge served to spur me to press my perceived advantage against the Genestealer.
With a deft movement, I reversed my grip on the combat blade, striking out in a wicked slash designed to tear through the beast’s chitin and rend the life from it in a single blow. As such I was terribly off balance when the creature darted around my assault as if I myself were not moving, and returned with a wicked dual clawed thrust that sheared through a weaker segment of armor under my left arm with ease. I could feel that significant damage had been done, even as my modified physiology worked to keep me conscious. My Astartes blood would cover the puncture – large though it was – with a layer of scar tissue in moments, and my body would begin healing internal damage as well. Still, I could feel the grinding of crushed and splintered bone in my torso, and the smoky haze that clouded the edges of my vision hinted at the possibility that one of my hearts had been damaged. Confirmation of this fact came as I felt my Multi-lung open to full capacity – my hearts were not moving oxygen throughout my body as efficiently as normal, and so I began to take in more air to help compensate. The spirit within my battle armor was as alert as always, however, and I felt the familiar burning rush as a cocktail of chemicals – stimulants and aggression modifiers amongst others – flowed directly into my body through the connection ports on my back and chest. As the drugs circulated, they would aid my enhanced body in keeping me on my feet and operating as close to optimally as possible. That a blow to my torso had managed to wound me thus yet had not damaged the armor sufficiently to prevent it from aiding me was a good omen, as such things went. Indeed, good omens seemed to be lining up, as with a surge of warmth, I felt the damage within me begin to knit itself together, and I knew that Fate, or indeed, the Emperor’s Own gaze, had fallen upon me.
In the moments that I had spent battling the alien, the other members of the Kill Team had been rapidly assessing the situation from their side of the shutter in an effort to find some way to assist me. Given the narrow confines of the pipe, their options were rather limited. Brother Elyas favored using his Power Fist to tear an exit from the pipe, before moving alongside it and re-entering the same way behind the Genestealer. Brother Lucian argued that while it might seem expedient, re-entry would be risky – the swirling melee may well have moved such that punching through the pipe may in fact injure me. In addition, it was impossible to be certain if the pipe we were in ran alongside another that might still contain promethium. The energy field of the Power Fist might very well detonate such a supply, even if the process of punching through the metal did not create sparks. Such sparks might even be enough to ignite the residual traces of promethium in our own pipe. A massive explosion, or even a lingering flame coating the surface of the pipe we were in, was something none of us wanted. The Ultramarine spoke in favor of using a krak grenade to blast open the shutter, as the tight, powerful detonation from such a weapon would be far less likely to rupture the walls of the pipe. It would still introduce a spark to a potentially volatile environment, and they had no way to know how close I might be to the obstruction – any explosion at all might well harm me.
While the other two Marines discussed the options, Brother Sepheran disengaged the belt feed from his heavy bolter and laid it as his feet so he could more readily turn around. Finding a crease in the center of the shutter where its two halves met, the Blood Angel forced his fingers into the small gap and strained to push them apart. With one fierce heave and far less effort than he had been expecting, Sepheran wrenched the portal wide and immediately took stock of my ongoing struggle with the chitin plated beast. His calculating eye having taken in my armor’s obvious damage, even from the rear, he dropped prone in the pipe, calling out to the Ultramarine: “Apothecary, climb over me that you might lend Brother Sköld your aid – he is wounded badly!”
Brother Lucian scrambled over the prostrate Devastator, and readied his Narthecium to inject an even more potent cocktail of compounds than my armor was capable of synthesizing. Feeling a renewed surge of strength as my internal injuries knit together at an incredible pace, I took another swing at the xenos creature before me – once again falling well short of the mark as it seemed to be everywhere but where my weapon was. Alert for its return blow, I was slightly, and pleasantly, surprised when it failed to connect, swiping well short of me. Perhaps the distraction of the shutter being thrust open had somehow affected the creature’s concentration, for it made almost no effort to avoid my next attack. Alas, though I struck the beast solidly, my combat blade did little more than surface damage to the hardened carapace. As the beast coiled to retaliate, I came to the realization that my combat blade – while a glorious and honored implement – was ill suited to dispatching this foe. The alien’s foul talons tore through the flexible components at my armor’s left elbow, causing my hand to go numb, and my fingers to hang limp and useless. Fortunately I maintained a sturdy grip on the blade in my other hand, and was able to parry the second attack sent my way. Appreciating that this was not the time to be concerned with personal glory, I dropped to a crouch and then forward onto my stomach, calling out to Brother Lucian to move past me and engage the beast with his chainsword.
In but two swings of the whirring, roaring blade, the battle was over. In spite of a heavy blow to the shoulder, the Tyranid failed to wound the Apothecary, his pauldron easily turning aside the strike. In exchange the Ultramarine’s chainsword bit first into the creature’s leg, hobbling it and hampering further attempts to dodge, before sawing downwards through the Genestealer’s shoulder. The grinding teeth spit ichor and stinking alien gore down the length of the pipe, and with a hideous shriek, the beast died at last.
The danger having passed for the moment, Brother Lucian began more in depth triage to tend to my wounds. As the Apothecary aided me in removing the armor from my damaged limb, I once again lost track of my senses for a time. If that keeps up, I told myself later, I would have to make a mention to have my mind and humours checked for possible misalignment – perhaps somewhere along the line I received a blow to the head that I do not recall?
We are the Silver Paladins.
Officium. Honor. Vires. Justitia. Vigilentia. Fides.
When I came back to myself, the four of us were exiting the pipe into a cavernous space that must once have been a massive storage tank, but was now clearly the lair of the Broodlord. Aside from the extensive quantity of broken bones and scraps of once living matter that attested to many meals had in the dark, the presence of the oversized Genestealer crouched before us was a pretty sure sign we were in the right place.
With a furious roar that immediately brought to mind the animal namesake of his Chapter’s Primarch Lion El’Jonson, Brother Elyas shot forward on wings of fire, striking at the source of the infection which now plagued Avalos. In hind sight, utilizing a jump pack in what was no doubt once a fuel storage tank may not have been the wisest decision, given earlier concerns about sparks and promethium residue, but any such worries proved unfounded, as the Dark Angel opened the battle with blood in our favor. Crackling with energy and tracing an arc across our vision, his Power Fist blasted a smoking crater in the thickened carapace of the enormous beast. Vile ichor that pulsed an iridescent purple even in the dim light seeped from the wound, though there was precious little of it and the damage did not seem to slow the monster down in the slightest. In fact, in a flurry of motion it struck back at the Assault Marine three times. The first hit was a glancing blow to the right pauldron, but still powerful enough to knock the Dark Angel off balance. The second and third blows came together, raking across the lower back and upper legs, easily shredding armor plating and drawing blood. Brother Elyas momentarily fell to his knees, severely wounded but not yet out of the fight.
The risk a stray shot might pose if it penetrated the walls – up to and including blowing us all up – seemed well worth it to me in the face of this hideous abomination. I brought my bolter to bear; firing a short, semi-auto burst at the Broodlord, ensuring my shot selector was set to Kraken rounds. The longer range and heavier penetration of the specialized ammo seemed an ideal fit given the creature’s armored exoskeleton. While one of the shots did indeed strike the beast, its mass reactive core failed to detonate, and thus did negligible damage.
Taking his cue from me that the time for cautious fire control was past, Brother Sepheran opened fire with his Heavy Bolter, but the weapon coughed forth only a single bolt that streaked off into the darkness. The Blood Angel cursed loudly and looked to the firing mechanism, deducing immediately that the weapon had jammed – perhaps its spirit aggrieved at having been lain down in the pipe and climbed over by Brother Lucian.
Moving up to join the melee, the Ultramarine added his chainsword to the mix. The Broodlord made to halt the blade by grabbing it with one of his non-clawed hands. Perhaps it did not fully comprehend the nature of the weapon, or was acting on some foul, second rate sort of alien instinct, but the results were what one would expect. The hand was chewed to pieces, what passed as fingers spinning off across the floor in a spray of brilliant purple gore.
With a roar of unbridled fury, the original Genestealer on Avalos battered the Ultramarine aside with the stump of his mangled hand, smearing ichor across his helmet and scratching deep gouges across his left pauldron. Aside from marring the sacred Deathwatch iconography there, little actual damage was done. Still, the xenos “leader” – if such a term is even appropriate – had accomplished the goal of breaking free of the melee, bearing down on Brother Sepheran and me. What thoughts or instincts drove the tainted alien mind of the beast is impossible to fathom, though perhaps he likened the two of us to the gun beasts of his own vile race. Noting that we were equipped for ranged combat, perhaps we were deemed less of a threat in close combat. Fortunately, an Astartes warrior is no base Termagant.
Regaining his feet, Brother Elyas swiped awkwardly at the Broodlord as it passed, the admittedly somewhat unwieldy nature of his Power Fist not lending itself well to the attack. The blow did not connect, and he could only watch as the beast honed in on me as the closest of the ranged combatants. A single slice of the enlarged claws tore a bloody gouge across my chest and I was tossed a fair distance by an almost casual flick.
Brother Sepheran let loose a scream of rage that was as startling to his fellow Marines as it was to the Broodlord, and letting his Heavy Bolter fall to the ground, he charged the Genestealer Patriarch, combat knife in hand. “For Sanguinius and the Emperor!” cried the Blood Angel as he made a vicious swipe that would doubtless have done significant damage had it connected. Whether forewarned by the Devastator’s warcry or simply due to the unseemly speed of its reactions, the alien sidestepped easily as Sepheran stumbled past, off balance.
The beast may well have capitalized on the Blood Angel’s wrong footed state if Brother Lucian had not at that moment landed a krak grenade directly in the crater that Brother Elyas’s Power Fist had made in the chitin on the Broodlord’s back. With a resonant slap of noise, the fist sized explosive detonated, knocking the creature to its knees. A much larger hole was apparent, and noticeably more ichor oozed from it, although the wound was clearly not fatal.
Regaining my feet, I took aim and hefted a krak grenade of my own at the creature. The device landed just in front of the beast and rolled towards it before detonating. In spite of the large explosion the lack of shrapnel meant that the damage was fairly minor, although the chitinous carapace covering the Broodlord’s legs was charred and smoking.
Brother Sepheran circled around the Tyranid and reclaimed his Heavy Bolter, returning his attention to clearing the jam. His frenzy burnt out in the face of his failed assault, he knew that the rapidly firing heavy shells were the best chance he had of truly putting the hurt on the beast.
Brother Elyas swooped in once more to bring the might of his Power Fist to bear, the weapon detonating flesh and carapace with deceptive ease, removing the Patriarch’s lower right arm above the elbow. Foul alien blood sizzled off the potent energy field, never actually touching the oversized gauntlet. The monster reeled back as though staggered by the pain.
The Apothecary tried for a repeat performance with his second krak grenade, but the results were notably less impressive this time. Bouncing from the front of the Broodlord’s head, the explosive detonated as it fell past its lower torso. As with my own grenade, the damage seemed largely superficial, affecting mostly chitin. Still, every chip and nick we had made seemed to be adding up, as the smoking bone-like armor appeared to have cracked and even shorn off in several places.
Snarling in rage or pain or both, the beast turned its full attention to the Dark Angel once more. With a viscous slash across the midsection, the Broodlord’s claws parted armor like water, and blood sprayed from the gaping wound. With a muffled grunt, Brother Elyas called out: “Apothecary, I have need of you!”
“Hold on – I still have one more krak grenade!” exclaimed the Ultramarine, his past experiences fighting this race of abominations doubtless coloring his judgement.
Deftly clearing the breach at last, Brother Sepheran slotted home the ammo feed on his Heavy Bolter and began patiently searching for a clear shot in the melee, edging closer to narrow the spread of the shells when he did fire.
Taking a moment to focus down the solid sights of my bolter, I steadied my aim before firing a single Kraken round at the beast. At the last moment Brother Lucian passed between me and my target as he moved in an effort to give the Blood Angel an unrestricted field of fire, and as a result I pulled my shot, missing entirely.
Reciting a litany of some sort under his breath that not even I could make out, Brother Elyas drew himself up to his full height, causing a fresh surge of blood to spurt from the rent in his armor. In spite of the wound, his stature and carriage spoke of poise and stoicism, an intractable determination to give no ground to the xenos. With a grunt of effort, he swung his crackling fist once more, but hampered as he was by his injury, the Broodlord easily dodged.
Its attention fully on the Dark Angel, the Tyranid was entirely unaware of the space that had cleared behind it. Brother Sepheran, however, was all too aware of the foul insect’s exposed back. From little more than two meters away, he opened fire with his weapon. With a deafening chatter, the Heavy Bolter stitched a line of explosive shells down and across the spine of the creature. Almost too fast to follow, first one arm was blown clear off the body, before a respectably tight grouping of shells hammered into the central carapace. Each shell detonated a fraction of a second after the last, explosively tunneling a crater through the chitin and into the flesh beneath. Judging from the effects, at least two shells penetrated into the beast’s innards, and discharged nearly simultaneously. With a muffled crump, the Broodlord quite literally came apart. A rain of steaming ichor fell briefly, coating the ground and the remains in sticky purplish ooze, splattering the armor of all nearby and sizzling off the Power Fist’s energy field.
With the realization that the battle was over, and we had just taken a major step towards reclaiming this world for the Imperium, I reached up to wipe a thin layer of grime and goo from my face. Sporting a large, almost feral grin, I was the first to break the silence: “Well, that was fun, where’s the next one?”
I think that even the Dark Angel laughed.
We are the Silver Paladins.
Officium. Honor. Vires. Justitia. Vigilentia. Fides.
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