Foremost amongst the heroes of the imperium are Castellan Crowe and Captain Stern of the grey knights. when the two become stranded on the jungle world of Triton, it falls to the Deathwatch to come...
Garran readied himself as the horde of daemons crawled through the cleft towards them. they were nightmarish, hunched creatures, with bright red skin pulled tight over thier muscular frames. their horned heads were elongated at the back and long, fork like tongues extended from their hideous mouths. each one carried long blades that emitted a dark aura. along with them came leering, dog like creatures with wide maws and the same red skin.
"ready yourselves, brother purifiers!" roared Crowe, bringing the Antwyr to bear as the horde crawled ever closer. the Antwyr was a daemon blade, kept by the purifier order, because only a purifier was pure enough to weild the blade and not be corrupted by it's influence.
the first of the daemon horde drew close, and Crowe issued a mighty battlecry, charging forward. the purifiers charged behind him as he arced his blade downwards. the purifiers followed suit, each performing the same precise, swift movement, as had been practiced thousands of times before. in one swift motion, the heads of around thirty daemons slid from the leering red bodies.
Crowe swung the Antwyr again, slicing through several more daemons, the daemon blade slicing through them like a knife through butter. looking to his right, Crowe saw two of the purifiers pinned against the sheer rock of the cleft wall. focusing his psychic power, Crowe raised his hand and issued forth a purifying flame, burning the daemons surrounding the purifiers in a searing white flame until there was nought left but ashes. he heard a cry of anguish behind him and turned to see three more of the purifiers being torn apart by a pack of the savage red skinned dog creatures. Crowe roared his defiance and charged forwards, the two purifiers he had just rescued following suit. together they hacked the red skinned dogs apart, the beserk frenzy of the creatures no match for the precise blows of the grey knights.
Crowe roared in anger as one of the purifiers beside him fell, a dark blade lodged in his stomach. Crowe quickly dispatched the creature that had killed his brother, slashing cleanly from elbow to hip. he reversed the blow as another daemon leapt at him, hacking through it as it descended through the air. Crowe now saw that there were only five purifiers left.
opening the vox channel in his helmet, he spoke over the roar of the battle.
"Inquisitor Mordecai, activate the teleporters, the northern cleft is lost to us."
a moment later the remaining Purifiers were illuminated in a bright blue glow before dissapearing, as though they had never existed. the daemons howled in frustration as they saw their prey escaping them, and the horde poured forth towards their goal, their rage undeniable and their bloodlust unescapable.
High above, on the bridge of the Warp-Rider, the deck officers, crew and the Deathwatch stood, watching as the vast multi-coloured wave pushed it's way slowly across the planet.
Karel's eyes were wide in disbelief.
"so many of them..." he said finally.
"that is what happens when one fool succumbs to the foul forces of chaos." snarled Inquisitor Lorelei Grey beside him.
"what is our course of action?" asked Karel, finally managing to tear his eyes away from the massive, planet sweeping horde.
"we pull the Grey Knights out and Inquisitor Mordecai out, and then..."
"and then?" Karel inquired, raising an eyebrow.
Lorelei looked away before replying, "then we issue exterminatus."
Karel's face snarled in sudden anger.
"no!" he shouted defiantly, "there has to be another way!"
"if there were another option i would gladly take it, Karel!" the Inquisitor shouted back with equal ferocity, "do you think me a heartless bitch?"
Karel looked taken aback by her words.
"...no." he replied finally.
the Inquisitor nodded, "prepare for the coming conflict, Karel, it will be bloody."
the Deathwatch turned and one by one filed out of the bridge. Karel turned to follow before feeling the Inquisitor's firm grip on his arm. he turned to shout a retort, but stopped as he saw she was crying.
"i hate doing it, Karel." she whispered hoarsely, tears streaking her youthful face, "but i have to fulfill my role."
Karel nodded in understanding, turning to face her.
he hugged her awkwardly, not being used to having to comfort anyone like this.
after a second she pulled away, nodding to him to leave.
Karel strode out of the door of the bridge, and Lorelei turned to the viewing screen, heaving a deep sigh. she had almost told him about her heritage, her guilty secret.
she could never tell anyone, she would be branded as xenos and executed for being the very thing she was sworn to hunt.
Captain Stern dropped to the floor as the halo of blinding blue light around him dissapeared, blood oozed from a gash in his leg before being clotted by his enhanced internal systems a second later.
Stern climbed to his feet and examined his surroundings. the grey rockcrete walls, exposed circuitry and flashing machinery of the control tower of Camp Bastion was a welcoming sight after the hell Stern had just fought off. he turned and reset the teleporter so that any other Grey Knights could teleport back to the camp.
Stern's name described his features. he was an old Grey Knight, having served for nigh on four hundred years, his grey hair was close cropped and at the moment was plastered to his head with sweat and blood. his silver terminator armour was adorned with gold lettering and symbols of the chapter. a silvery halo surrounded the armour, designed specifically for the purpose of weakening daemons when they drew close. in his right hand, Stern carried a nemesis force sword that stood as tall as he did, whilst upon his left arm a wrist mounted storm bolter sat, the two barrels smoking after being fired so much.
Stern rose to his feet as he saw a blue halo of light flash in front of the teleporter, and he saw Castellan Crowe spat out by the blue light, followed by five white helmeted Purifiers.
Stern offered out a hand and hauled the Castellan to his feet.
"only five survivors, Garran?" he asked.
"i count it as four more than you, Brother-Captain." retorted the Castellan.
"aye." replied Stern sadly, "we lost squad Verac to a group of Juggernauts in the southern pass, all twenty of them."
"emperor preserve them." replied Crowe, a moment of silence fell over the group.
the silence was briefly cut short by a figure striding into the control room.
the group turned to see a man in shining gold armour and red underlay walked confidently across the floor of the control room. his ancient face was lined with the long years of constant battle. his bald head gleamed in the mechanical glow of the humming machinery. Inquisitor Benjamin Mordecai of the ordo hereticus stood with his arms folded, a look of grim determination on his face.
"alright." he said in a deep voice, "lets get back to work."
"what is our next move?" asked Crowe as the Grey Knights gathered around the Inquisitor.
"we're bailing out." said Mordecai simply.
"but our strike cruiser was downed by the blasted warp storm!" put in Stern, losing patience.
"indeed." said Mordecai formally, "but help has arrived. a fellow Inquisitor by the name of Lorelei Grey has made contact, and her warriors are coming to pick us up."
"good, then we can barrage this place from orbit!" roared Crowe. his statement was greeted by roars of agreement from the five Purifiers.
Stern grimaced at this. he did not like to kill an entire planet if he could help it. there were still citizens on this planet. those too poor or too foolish to leave were just left behind by sector command.
"is there not something else we can try?" asked Stern.
"for now, we will defend the bastion." replied Mordecai calmly, "we have Daemons approaching from the north and south, and we must prepare. how many Grey Knights do we have left at our disposal?"
"thirty." growled Stern. he hated people who merely saw soldiers as numbers, to be subtracted and divided by the whims of a superior who enjoyed playing god. these were his men, courageous and honourable. Stern felt this more so amongst soldiers such as imperial guardsmen, who had families and homes to protect.
"then we divide them between the north and the south. Castellan Crowe, you and your Purifiers, along with ten others will defend the north. Stern, you and a retinue of Terminators, along with ten others will defend the south."
"i don't think..." began Stern.
"it was not a question, Brother-Captain." snarled the Inquisitor.
the Grey Knights filed out of the room, followed by the Inquisitor, so that only Crowe and Stern were left.
"i wish it wouldn't come to exterminatus." sighed Stern, "this planet dosen't deserve death."
"it has ever been thus, Brother Stern." said Crowe beside him, "it would be folley to try and change the will of an Inquisitor."
"i wish we didn't have to answer to such heartless bastards." spat Stern.
"some bastards are worse than others." chuckled Crowe.
Stern couldn't help but smile back.
"Corteaz, eh?" he said.
"aye, Corteaz." replied Crowe.
the two turned and walked out of the room, not for the first time thinking that this would be their last deployment.
Sergeant Major Benvard stood on the metal decking of the flight deck of the Warp-Rider, watching his Guardsmen march up the boarding ramps of the Valkyrie gun ships. beside him stood Inquisitor Lorelei Grey, a shotgun holstered across her back and a sword and bolt pistol buckled at her hip. her sleek, matt black, figure hugging armour caught Benvard's eye, as he was sure it caught the eyes of many of his assembled guardsmen. but Benvard's time had passed. he had only ever loved one woman, and she was long dead. still, the armour showed off a lot of her slim figure.
"your men are a credit to you, Sergeant Major." she said formally.
"thank you, ma'am." replied Benvard. his heart swelled with pride, "it's a shame old Gambit couldn't come on this one."
"duty calls him elsewhere." said the Inquisitor, "but i promise that by the end of this you and him will be drinking in the same broth house when this is all over."
"can't wait." chuckled Benvard.
without another word Benvard marched up the ramp of the Valkyrie in front of him.
he cast a backwards glance as the ramp lifted and swore he saw a hint of sadness cross the Inquisitor's face before the ramp clanged closed.
Karel finished the final battle prayers and prepared his men for boarding. the drop pod in front of them was meant to carry ten men, but there were only six of them.
behind the assembled Deathwatch stood Venerable Brother Gaius, who had been interned into the sarcophagus of a holy dreadnought long ago, after a wound in battle meant he could no longer fight by himself.
the massive dreadnought had been granted his own drop pod because of the enormous size of his dreadnought armour. fully three times the size of a normal man, the main sarcophagus of the dreadnought was roughly cube shaped, with sloping sides adorned with the glories of battles fought long ago. on the back, four exhausts pumped smoke into the interior of the drop pod bay. either side of the main sarcophagus a piston driven arm extended, each ended in a tubular, mechanical fist that crackled with ethereal energies. two short legs ended in mechanical clawed feet. the dreadnought was a magnificent sight to behold.
Karel watched as mechanical arms dropped from the cieling and started fixing the dreadnought into his drop pod. Karel was about to board his own drop pod when a slim hand gripped his shoulder guard. he turned to see Inquisitor Grey standing there, ready for battle.
"no arguments, Karel, i'm not missing out on this one."
her voice was so firm and commanding that Karel did not dare retort.
he nodded, and both boarded the drop pod along with the rest of the Deathwatch.
Syrax stood on a high ridge overlooking Camp Bastion from the south east, watching the daemons begin their assault on the camp. beside him stood his new champion, clad in black armour with a gold trim. leering faces and eight pointed stars were carved into the armour, and instead of a left hand the champion had a crab-like claw. his once blonde hair was now an unkept, greasy black colour, and his once full features were now pale and wasted. all in all, Syrax was satisfied with the changes he had wrought on Kavan. the former Blood Angel had alreadu shed much blood in the name of the dark gods, leading assaults on small settlements on the planet of Darkrim, but they were nothing compared to this.
Syrax turned to his champion, his hulking terminator armour clanking as he did so.
"what is your purpose?" he said in his leering voice.
"i will claim this sector, and give it over to the dark gods." came the bloodthirsty reply.
"what have i taught you?"
"the Inquisitor and the Deathwatch are my enemies."
"and what will you do?"
"i will rend them limb from limb!" roared Kavan, his bloodlust rising to an almost uncontrollable level.
this was his destiny, his purpose. the emperor had forsaken him, and now only the dark gods mattered.
Syrax had ruined this man's life, and he smiled at the prospect that he in turn would ruin more.
Garran Crowe sliced another one of the bulbous daemons in half, it's internal juices spilling onto the ground in a spray of blood and puss. the daemons had greenish, unhealthy looking skin, with horns protruding out at odd angles. the daemons were squat and carried crudely carved blades. large, puss filled warts leaked yellow fluid onto the ground and they gazed with empty, slack jawed faces. they were plaguebarers, servants of the god nurgle. vile, repulsive creatures that carried diseases that would kill a normal man. that was why the Purifiers had been sent to deal with them.
"hold fast, brothers!" roared Crowe, hacking through another three of the squat daemons.
the only sure way to kill these monsters was to hack them in half, for they did not feel pain.
the purifiers hacked the daemons apart with ease, but no matter how many they killed, there were always more to kill. just then a shadow fell over Crowe, and he looked up to see a large, fat, bulbous daemon, fully three times as big as a normal man, it's overweight belly was riddled with holes, exposing internal organs. fat worms in it's lower belly shot out and ensnared Crowe in their greasy grip. he looked up as the daemon drew him in, looked at it's fat, antlered head, it's small, piggish eyes, and the rusted broadsword held in it's podgy fingers, and he knew there was no escape. just then he heard a whistling noise, and regained hope as he saw a black drop pod streak from the sky. it smashed into the ground behind the daemon, engulfing it in a cloud of dust. the rockcrete walls of the camp behind him shook as a massive mechanical beast stomped forth, smashing aside the remains of the drop pod. it spoke with a deep voice that was distorted by the vox grille mounted inside it's sarcophagus.
"i am venerable Gaius!" it roared, ramming it's fist straight through the greater daemon's belly, "and i will be your doom!"
the mighty dreadnought ripped a large chunk of the greater daemon's internal organs out, then proceeded to smash it's skull in with it's other mechanical fist. the daemon toppled over, and Crowe could tell it would crush him. just then a massive fist pulled him from the grasp of the greasy worms and set him down on the hard rockcrete of the outer defences.
"thank you, Venerable brother." he gasped.
the dreadnought said nothing, but stomped past him towards the endless horde of plague riddled daemons. another drop pod smashed into the ground beside the first, it's five ramps dropping open one by one and unloading their deadly cargo. six black armoured warriors, their left shoulder guards gleaming silver, and their respective chapter markings encrusted on the right.
the six warriors were followed by a smaller figure, her blonde hair was tied in a tight ponytail that extended to the small of her back and close fitting black armour. in her hands she carried a double barreled shotgun. another Inquisitor.
Crowe marched up to her.
"Inquisitor Grey, i presume."he said.
"Castellan Crowe." she replied, "get your men behind the walls and set the teleporter to coordinates zero five one nine."
Crowe nodded and ran towards the camp walls, roaring retreat orders to his men as he went, leaving the Deathwatch to cover their backs.
Brother-Captain Stern sliced another bloodletter in half. the vile, red skinned daemons kept coming, their vile swords wreathed in a dark aura.
"come, brothers!" he roared, "let us show them we do not fear the Daemon!"
the Grey Knights took up the battle cry, charging forward and hacking a bloody swathe through the daemons. just then a voice rang out in Stern's vox grille.
"Stern, order a retreat, fall back to the control tower and prepare for teleportation."
Stern acknowledged the order and issued fallback orders to his battle brothers and firing unconcentrated volleys of bolter fire to cover his brothers retreat.
Karel hacked another plaguebearer apart, roaring a savage battle cry as he did.
all around him his battle brothers fought off the vile daemons, slashing, shooting and in Borvus's case smashing apart the vile warp spawned creatures.
a voice crackled over his vox bead.
"Karel, the Grey Knights have fallen back, prepare for teleportation."
"acknowledged." said Karel, and a moment later a flash of blue light engulfed him.
a second later Karel hit the cold steel decking of the drop pod deck. Karel rose to his feet, the rest of the Deathwatch hitting the deck behind him.
Karel made his way to the bridge, where Inquisitor Grey, two Grey Knights and an Inquisitor he did not recognise stood next to the viewing bay.
"so, what is our plan of action?" asked Karel, standing beside Inquisitor Grey.
"we will bombard the planet, and be done with it." said the other Inquisitor.
"Karel," started Inquisitor Grey, "this is Inquisitor Benjamin Mordecai, of the ordo hereticus, and Captain stern and Castellan Crowe of the Grey Knights."
"you can't bombard the planet, just like that!" shouted Karel at the elderly Inquisitor.
"i can and i will." replied Mordecai coolly.
"isn't there something else we can try?" asked the figure that Inquisitor Grey had introduced as Captain Stern.
"there is," replied Grey, "in fact, Sergeant Major Benvard and a detachment of sixty Guardsmen are doing it now. you may be pleased with this turn of events, Captain Stern."
Stern was about to reply when the viewing screen flickered into life and Benvard's face appeared on the screen.
"ma'am, we've made planetfall and set up a perimeter, Tech-Priest Vakel is extracting the Nemesis Dreadknights as we speak."
Karel looked over at Stern and noted the Captain's grin of satisfaction.
"looks like you were right, Inquisitor Grey." he chuckled.