The Deathwatch, under the command of Inquisitor Lorelei Grey, are sent to the world of Culexa Primus to defend against the tyrannids and help defend until the hive ship can be destroyed.
"the defences are ready, i presume?" asked the hulking space marine in a low, growling voice.
"they are, captain Fangas, though i can't say the same for the guardsmen..." Karel replied.
"what do you mean, Karel?" asked Fangas enquiringly.
"i mean..." started Karel, "that they waste time in pointless firing drills when they should be practicing close quarters fighting. a blind man can hit a tyrannid."
"true" came a voice from behind them. the two turned to see a female, clad in close fitting midnight black armour walking towards them. her voice was soft and calm. her hair was braided in a tight ponytail that extended to the small of her back, and her pale blue eyes seemed to pierce right into their very souls. a shotgun sat in it's holster across her back, and a power sword was buckled at her hip, she looked no older than twenty. Inquisitor Lorelei Grey drew her sword and nodded to the two space marines.
"gentlemen, today we stand for the imperium. whether we live or die is irrelevant, so long as we can say we tried."
"has tech-priest Vakel finished performing the rites of arming on the missile yet?" Karel put in.
"he has almost finished, and the missile's trajectory course has been set directly for the heart of the hive ship."
"how long will it take?" asked Fangas.
"Vakel tells me he will be ready by morning." Lorelei said confidently, "he also commends brother Karel on his idea of using the canal systems as a means for destroying any groups of tyrannids that get past our defences."
the three turned as the setting sun was blotted out by milling swarms of gargoyles winging their way towards the city.
"all gun batteries fire!" Lorelei shouted, raising her sword in the air.
she smiled as she heard the resounding recoil of defence turrets firing. several gaps were blasted in the milling swarms as the explosive shells hit home, but the swarm kept on coming.
"we'll be lucky to see the sun rise..." muttered Lorelei under her breath.
Brother Borvus stood shoulder to shoulder with the imperial guardsmen on the front line, his power fist crackling into life as he saw the approaching swarm. the guardsmen around him started firing volley after volley of las-fire into the enemy, but their disciplined fire was doing little to halt the swarm. Borvus was a crimson fist first and foremost, which meant he had an incredibly short temper. he removed his helmet and threw it on the ground in front of the barricade. his close cropped blonde hair contrasted with his midnight black deathwatch armour.
"idiots!" he roared to the guardsmen, many of which cast hateful glances at him. "you don't need to aim at tyrannids, a blind man can hit a tyrannid!"
he grabbed a lasgun off a guardsman, holding it single handed. "like this!" he said, firing random shots and downing screeching gargoyles with every shot.
he handed the lasgun back to the man as the guarsmen all along the trench hastened to do the same.
brother Corvis of the Dark Angels stood beside him, firing off a stream of explosive rounds into the swarms of gargoyles, his bald head gleaming with sweat as his cybernetic eye picked out fresh targets.
acidic bursts of fire spattered the defences around them, boring into metal or the flesh of guardsmen. screams came from those guardsmen whose flesh was rapidly dissolving, or those who had been carried off by the screeching gargoyles.
suddenly a shadow larger than those of the gargoyles spread over the defenders, sending a chill down their spines. looking up, Borvus saw a massive creature winging it's way towards them on membrane thin wings. it was a Harridan, a creature akin to the gargoyles. it swooped down, bashing a great rent in the defences, flinging several gouardsmen back. many didn't get back up.
the Harridan wheeled in the air and fired blasts of bio-plasma from the bio-cannons under it's wings, leaving several more guardsmen lying in sludgy pools that used to be their lower bodies.
Borvus turned to Corvis.
"give me covering fire."
Corvis nodded as Borvus activated the assault pack on his back, the propulsion of the assault pack powering him straight towards the Harridan. he brought his power fist to bear, smashing it straight into the creatures chest. to his surprise, the power fist bounced straight off the creatures bony hide. the Harridan lashed out with it's scything talons, sending Borvus flying back into the wall of one of the hab blocks.
whilst things were heating up on the front line, yet more events were transpiring inside the city. though all entrances by land had been blocked, the canals had been emptied and all water supplies had been redirected to the massive water refinery in the middle of Elux city. the refinery was almost full to the brim, dirty canal water sloshing just short of the walkway that topped the refinery. Inquisitor Lorelei Grey stood beside the silent figures of Karel and Fangas, the other figure that stood with them was Kavan, another member of the Deathwatch. Kavan was a native of Baal, a Blood Angel, born on his feet and bred in battle. he was grim and often forboding, and had a bloodlust that often worried other Deathwatch members.
the four watched the unfolding battle on the frontline from their perch on one of the highest points in the city.
"have the canal entrances been opened?" asked Lorelei.
"they have." replied Karel confidently.
"you see, inquisitor," Fangas put in, "it's this kind of tactical thinking that made me pick Karel for my team."
Lorelei nodded, smiling smugly to herself.
a high pitched screech drew Karel's attention, and pouring through the open canal gates he saw thousands of chittering, locust-like creatures, carrying bizarre gun like extentions of their arms. they were termagaunts, and for every hundred or so smaller creatures several larger multi limbed creatures lumbered through the canal gates, each one baring a pair of scything talons and a pair of crab like claws. the monstrous creatures were carnifexes.
Inquisitor Grey tirned to Karel.
"would you give the order, sergeant?"
Karel nodded, then turned to one of the operators sitting in a small booth further along the walkway.
"open the floodgates!" he commanded, "flood the canals!"
Karel returned his gaze to the city as the floodgates slowly grinded open on massive, ancient gears.
millions of tyrannids were washed away by the force of the colossal wave of water that roared down the main canal. Guardsmen lined up along the walls of the water refinery levelled rocket launchers to their shoulders, taking careful aim at the larger forms of the carnifexes. Karel raised his hand, then flicked it forward as a signal to fire. a salvo of rockets crashed into the larger creatures, which collapsed under the water and sank to the canal floor.
Karel and Fangas both took up their bolters, targeting any of the larger creatures that managed to get nearer. carefully aimed explosive rounds ripped through the creatures.
"by the emperor!" Fangas growled, "this reminds me of choldor III!"
"indeed," replied Karel, "as i remember, you dropped your helmet and jumped one hundred and fifty feet to get it back..."
"it's my favourite helmet!" Fangas chuckled.
"it's your only helmet..." muttered Kavan behind them, also firing his bolter.
Borvus climbed to his feet, the floor of the hab block beneath him buckled and he fell through to the ground floor. he climbed to his feet and smashed back through the wall of the hab block, emerging onto the street. Apothecary Selenus strode towards him, his narthecium at the ready.
"any serious wounds?" the apothecary asked, the light of explosions from defence turrets illuminating the ultramarines insignia on his right shoulder.
"it can wait." Borvus said in his stubborn manner.
before the apothecary could argue Borvus launched himself into the air, once again moving to engage with the Harridan.
below, he could hear the comforting sound of bolter and melta fire, which told him that Selenus and Corvis were giving him covering fire.
looking down, he saw that the Harridan had reaved a bloody tally amongst the guardsmen, many corpses lay in pools of their own blood, dismembered arms and legs were scattered around the defences.
Borvus paused, hovering in the air, before spying the Harridan amongst the horde. the creature saw him, obviously recognising him, and angled towards him, flanked by a swarm of gargoyles.
hidden under the smoke and mess of the city's industrial centre, tech-priest Vakal oversaw the final preparations before the launch of the aegis missile. the massive missile was loaded with explosives and detonators, carefully wired to explode only when the missile had buried itself well into the hive ship. hurried reports and pleas for help from the ships in orbit told Vakel that the battle in orbit was going badly. only the warp-rider, the flagship of Inquisitor Grey, which Vakel himself often took charge of when the Inquisitor was planetside, seemed not to be harmed by the millions of creatures swarming over the imperial fleet.
Vakel paced up and down the metal decking, shouting orders to tech servitors and adepts. suddenly, the sound of buckling metal and a sickeningly alien screech came from somewhere inside the industrial complex.
"go and see what that was!" he shouted to two of the mechanicus adepts, both of which hefted their lasguns and set off nervously in the direction of the noise, little knowing that the thing that had produced the alien screech was already watching them from the shadows.
the Harridan knocked Borvus back again, sending him crashing through several sheets of solid steel into the hard rockrete road. he grunted, climbing to his feet. he felt a surge of pain in his side and knew his ribs had broken, but his stubborn nature carried him on. he was about to launch himself at the Harridan's chest again when a bolt of melta fire surged over his shoulder and blasted a massive hole through the wing of a nearby gargoyle. the gargoyle crashed to the ground as several more holes appeared in the thin membrane of it's wings.
he turned to see selenus standing, his wrist mounted melta-pistol smoking.
"Selenus, you're a bloody genius!"
Selenus gave Borvus a questioning look, but the Crimson fist had already shot back into the air.
Borvus shot straight towards the Harridan's bone ridged chest, then angled off at the last minute and punched a hole through the creatures thin membrane.
Borvus performed a loop in the air, being infinately more agile than the massive creature, and brought his bolt pistol to bear, it was loaded with explosive kraken rounds, designed specifically for fighting tyranids.
he traced a long arc across the Haridan's wing, pumping out kraken rounds as he went. the Harridan let out an inhuman screech, and plummeted to the ground, crashing through three storeys of a hab block before coming to a standstill.
the guardsmen all along the defensive line let out a cheer, which soon died as they all saw the thickness of the horde that blotted out the moonlit sky.
Vakel advanced cautiously through the dimly lit corridors of the industrial complex. the two mechanicus adepts he had sent hadn't returned for two hours, and Vakel, having very little patience at this late stage, had decided to take up the investigation himself. he carried his hefty axe in both hands, the blade was encrested with the symbol of the adeptus mechanicus.
he was flanked by four adepts, two to either side. he pulled up short, his eyes widening at the spectacle that he saw before him. the two adepts he had sent two hours previously lay on the floor, their limbs hacked apart and scattered all over the floor. entrails of sinew and muscle trailed from the dismembered limbs, and their heads had been sliced and clawed so much that they no longer resembled anything human.
Vakel saw something drop from the cieling. it was surprisingly agile for something of it's size. immediately he pointed it out, and the adepts spread out, firing off rapid rounds of lasfire at the creature. it's flesh was pale and boney, and was covered in an armour-like purple carapace. tentacles sprawled from where a mouth should have been. the creature had four arms, the upper pair ending in a large pair of scything talons that were almost as tall as the creature itself, and the lower pair ended in sharp webbed claws that were streaked with blood. Vakel recognised the creature from his xeno database. it was a lictor, a scouting creature of the tyranids.
the lictor launched itself at the adept nearest to it, propelling itself by using the two scything talons to launch itself through the air. it landed on the screaming adept, grabbing his head and snapping it with a sharp crack.
another adept leapt at the lictor, bearing a long bladed knife in his hand. the lictor lashed out with it's scything talons, slicing the adept from shoulder to groin. the adept died without a sound. the lictor leapt from the corpse of the first adept, the two remaining adepts firing at it. the lictor lashed out with one scything talon, slicing an adept's torso from his lower body. the adept grunted, more out of surprise than pain as his upper body toppled to the ground.
Vakel shifted his position, roaring his defiance to the lictor. the creature turned, spying him, and launched itself towards him. he fired a gout of flame from a flamer attached to a metal arm that fed into the servo harness on his back. the creature screeched as the flames engulfed it. Vakel leapt at the creature in it's momentary blindness, bringing his axe down and hacking right through both the creatures scything talons. the creature stumbled back, then lurched forwards towards him, bringing it's webbed claws to bear. Vakel ducked under it's flailing claws, then brought his axe up, hacking off the claws from underneath and hammering his shoulder into the creatures bony chest. the lictor toppled over backwards. and Vakel raised his axe and brought it down, swiftly cutting through the creatures bony neck.
he stood, panting, then his vox bead started beeping, and the voice of one of his adepts blared through, announcing that they were ready to initiate the rites of obliteration on the missile. Vakel glanced at the digital watch built into his gauntlet. two hours to sunrise, just enough time.
the next floodgate began to open, sending a roaring tidal wave crashing down the western facing canal, washing away the plague of the tyranids. the floodgate was nearly open, when Karel heard the sound of rockrete crumbling. he noticed something swimming against the current, slithering up the canal. it rose to the surface just before the floodgate, and Karel saw it was a Mawloc, a gargantuan creature. it rose up on it's serpent-like tail, and dug it's collossal scything talons into the floodgate, forcing it closed with brute strength, allowing more tyrannids to crawl into the canal base against the lessened flow of water.
Fangas saw the Mawloc, and knew what he had to do. his future successor would be too stubborn to let Fangas do his duty easily, and Fangas and Lorelei had taken precautions beforehand in case of this eventuality.
"Kavan" he said, "pass me those melta charges."
Kavan picked up the string of melta charges and handed them to Fangas.
Karel looked questioningly at Fangas, and Fangas looked away.
"Inquisitor, if you would..."
Inquisitor Grey raised a small shock charger, pointing it towards Karel, and pressed the activation rune.
Karel's body spasmed. even his auto senses could not overcome the Inquisitor's shock charger. as he slumped to the floor, Kavan walked forward and propped Karel up against the railings of the walkway. Karel watched helplessly as Fangas, a man he had served with for eighty years, took the melta charges in hand and leapt over the side of the water refinery.
Fangas had known from the start that this battle would most likely be his last. his veiw was that every man only had so much luck. he often thought he had too much. he took the melta charges in his left hand, and cast a backward glance to Inquisitor Grey.
"it was a good run, Inquisitor..."
Lorelei said nothing, only nodded, trying to keep the tears back.
Fangas leapt over the railing, plummeting towards the Mawloc. the creature looked up, seeing him, and opened it's maw wide, ready to swallow him whole. he pressed the activation rune on the melta charges, his last thoughts dwelling on Karel.
"a good run..." he muttered as he plunged head first into the Mawloc's gaping jaws.
Lorelei saw the Mawloc erupt in a searing ball of flame as the melta charges detonated inside it's stomach, ripping it's body apart in a superheated explosion of melta fire.
she turned, the industrial centre behind her bathed in light as the massive missile lifted from it's base in one of the manufactorium complexes, and shot like lightning towards the sky.
the missile shot through the atmosphere, blasting it's way towards the hive ship. guardian organisms moved to intercept it, but the missile, with it's superior bulk and the force of it's magma prepulsion engines, powered right through them and sped towards the hive ship. it burrowed right through the purple armour-like carapace, shooting deep into the mighty hive ship before detonating it's charge of superheated explosives and engulfing the hive ship in a massive ball of superheated plasma. the entire tyrannid horde screeched as the atomic structure of the hive ship was literally ripped apart, leaving nothing but a small cloud of gasses for thousands of miles in any direction.
Karel stood at the edge of the landing platform, watching the sunrise silently. the other members of the Deathwatch were already on board the Thunderhawk gunship, being tended to by Apothecary Selenus. not one of them had escaped harm, save for himself and Kavan.
Karel turned as he heard light footsteps on the metal decking of the landing platform.
Inquisitor Lorelei Grey stood beside him in her black armour, her hands clasped behind her back.
"i'm sorry." she said soothingly.
"why?" Karel said simply, "it's not going to bring him back, is it?"
"he knew what he had to do, Karel, and he knew you would try to stop him."
"he knew me too well..."
"maybe he did, in fact, he chose you to lead the Deathwatch should he come to an unexpected fate."
Karel was surprised, yet he had a feeling of pride in the fact that Fangas had trusted him that much.
Lorelei put a hand on his shoulder guard, and Karel did not shrug it away, welcoming the companionship. the two stood, watching the sun climb into the sky, illuminating the vast forests of pine trees in the valleys below, until Karel spoke.
"i suppose we'd better get back to the warp-rider." he said slowly.
Lorelei nodded, and the two turned, walking towards the Thunderhawk's boarding ramp as it's engines flared into life.
Two figures stood on the field of battle, observing the carnage around them with a casual eye that enjoyed spectacle of the sort. both figures were clad in dirty black armour with gold trimming. the smaller figure, clad in power armour adorned with trophies of countless battles, turned to the larger figure, who was clad in hulking terminator armour and carried a six foot long, blood red blade. both figures watched the thunderhawk, which looked no more than a spec from where they were standing, climb into the sky. eventually the smaller figure spoke.
"you could have destroyed them, lord Corrodas, instead you allowed them to escape."
the smaller figures voice was leering and taunting, every word spoken as an insult, his bald, pale head was lined with countless scars, and each of his teeth was sharpened to a point.
the larger figure spoke, his voice deep and booming, intensified by his horned helmet.
"because i am not a fool, syrax." he spoke, ignoring syrax's leering tone, "killing them just after so great an invasion would have spurred those inquisitional dogs into action, your vengeance on the Inquisitor can wait."
Syrax growled deeply, his scowl streching the scars around his mouth. he reached up, tracing the long line of one scar in particular which ran from the left side of his forehead down to the corner of his lip.
"...as you wish, lord Corrodus."
"call forth the cultists, search among these corpses for survivors. i need sacrifices to strengthen our resolve. one day, we shall make this entire sector bow in fear to us, and make that dog of an inquisitor crawl at our feet!"
with that Corrodus turned and strode away, leaving Syrax standing on his own.
"you mean at my feet..." Syrax muttered to himself. he gazed a moment longer at the city that sprawled before him, then spat towards it, turning and walking away.