A powerfull hit shook the broadside hull of the grand cruiser,as it and its escorts exited Warp travel.Alarms started ringing across all decks as the majestic imperial vessel started buzzing with activity while all personnel started manning their posts.Hangar bays opened soon enough,and squadrons of Blade fighters and Thunderhawks bombers got into formations around the capital ship.While the grand cruiser and its fighter screens formed up into an improvised defensive line,the smaller destroyer escorts were releasing their own attack craft.On the opposite side of this scene with Imperial craft getting into line,a massive battleship was letting loose its own attack craft,obviously in much larger numbers than the imperial ones.The battleship was of older design,one of the Oberon designs retired from active service of the imperium.But the marks on its dark hull were self explainatory along with the symbols carved in the thick metal and the banners that were widely displayed on the broadside.It was a Traitor vessel.One of the Chaos Legions.
Justicar Marlis saw a squad of his fellow battle brothers running in the opposite direction of his own,heading towards on to the main guns battery positions.
The voices of the captain and other senior officers could be heard saying the same thing over and over again over the intercoms:"all battle brothers and auxiliaries report to their posts immediately.we are under attack by an unknown force of one of the Traitor Legions.May the might of the Emperor crush our foes and deliver us to victory.All hail the Emperor."Another powerfull hit shook the hull of the grand cruiser so hard that Marlis lost his balance and nearly fell flat on the deck.He quickly rose up and fastened his pace with his objective clear in mind:report to the command deck and wait for orders regarding him and his squad of battle brothers.The elevator door was only a few meters ahead,at the end of the corridor.Only now Marlis realized main lighting system was down and only the dim red light was lighting his path.Also,he observed no one else was around."maybe dead by the shock of the attack,or serving on other decks,he thought".he dismissed the thought quickly because it wasn't his main concern what other were doing,but what he could do to help.The justicar hit the glowing panel of the elevator,and,only after a few seconds the doors slid open and he stepped inside
"thank the Emperor these still work" Marlis thought,believing that the fury of this unexpected attack downed many other ship systems.
After a few moments that seemed like hours to Marlis,the doors opened again but he realized this isn't the command deck.Personell were running to and from all directions on deck two,the deck he just stepped on.He saw a senior navy officer and asked what was the situation."They came out of nowhere" the man replied with an expression of shock and awe on his face."Stand fast,man!" Marlis shouted at him,"you're a soldier of the Emperor.Dont mock His name".The navy officer frightenly acknowledged.Space Marine justicars and even battle brothers were considered superior in rank to imperial guard and navy officers and could only take orders from their own superiors.That and the fact that Space Marines were considered the Emperor's fist of might and greatest of soldiers made warriors like Marlis objects of inspiration.
"The situation is dire,sir.We've lost half the escorts and our ship is considerably damaged".Another charge from the enemy battleship's main guns hit the hull of the grand cruiser.A series of conduits exploded,killing several people on the deck instantly,throwing Marlis into the nearest bulkhead.His power armor took the blunt of it and in a few moments the justicar was back on his feet again carefully looking around to see what has happened to the officer he was talking to.He immediately saw him,lying nearby and badly burned close to a shattered conduit which was still venting high temperature steam gas.He sighed at the scene and continued on his walk of getting to the command deck which was somewhere above him.The intercoms that were still functioning never stopped relaying orders,but amongst the cranking sounds of the hull enduring the enemy batteries's punishment,the captain's voice could hardly be understood.Anyway,what Marlis got was "Prepare for incoming boarding craft,ETA is 8 minutes."I must get to the command deck before that" the justicar imposed on himself.On the outside,in the vacuum of space big and small lights were erupting in the flash of seconds,just to be replaced by other larger or smaller glimmering explosions.
The destroyer Nauru was turned to wreckage first by the carrier's main guns,for it stood a little outside of the imperial formation and thus got targeted first.The two remaining destroyers were fighting a desperate battle to keep the grand cruiser as undamaged as possible.The imperial fighters were almost gone and what was left was being slowly but surely hunted down by dozens of fresh Blade squadrons launched from the bowels of another Traitor battleship that emerged from Warp travel just minutes before.The imperials were hopelessly outnumbered at this point.One of the remaining two destroyers got swarmed by enemy fighter bombers and in less than a minute it was turned into a smoldering heap of wreckage.The last standing escort,the destroyer Solaris then changed its course towards the closest Oberon battleship on ramming course.Time froze as the plasma spheres were released from the forward cannons of a yet,third Traitor battleship that wasn't engaged in combat until that moment.
The green-yellowish and somewhat slow moving spheres of light pierced the Solaris and ripped the ship in two followed after a second by a great explosion that completely obliterated the imperial vessel.Waves of Thunderhawks bombed the wreckage until there was nothing left but space dust,while squadrons of fighters hunted down all the escape pods that managed to survive the blast like wasps swarming over their hopeless targets.
The grand cruiser continued to endure the punishment from two of the battleships's broadside batteries,which,by this time got into parallel positions with the imperial vessel.
Ignoring the mayhem all over and around him,brother Marlis managed to get to the command deck,the hope in his mind that the brother-captain was still in command.
Finally,one last corner and the massive metal doors with the golden lion imprinted on them were in sight.The majestic beast imprinted on the bulkheads seemed fearless and immovable as always,the everlasting symbol of imperial might and glory.
The thick metal doors slid open slowly and,as they did so,a swarm of voices was released from the hall like command deck.Marlis slowly stepped inside.Orders were passed from the captain to the deck officers and from the deck officers to servitors each responsible with a function.The heat of battle didn't leave this room unmarked either.Flickering lights,fallen panels,blown power conduits were all over the place but that didn't seem to matter to anyone at that moment.To brother Marlis's surprise and gratefulness,captain Draken was still alive and passing orders.
"Give me a report on the incoming attack craft" the captain yelled at the nearest bridge officer."At least half a dozen assault Thunderhaks are on the hull already"."what do you mean,at least?"the captain asked."We lost internal communications,there are probably more there or incoming,sir"."Emperor damn these heretics" the captain said.
"Did u send orders to all squad commanders?",the captain asked another deck officer.Yes sir,most squad commanders reported heading to the affected areas before communications went down.They are fighting the heretics as we speak.but.."
But what? the captain asked nervously.Its the Iron Warriors,sir.How do you know?,the captain insisted? The destroyer Solaris reported seeing their marks on the hull of one of the battleships.This attack doesn't make any sense,the captain told himself.why here and why now?.
Marlis walked close to the captain and saluted:"Sir.How's the overall situation
"Good to see you,Marlis."the captain exclamated his face denoting a sense of relief for seeing his brother comrade."The situation couldn't be worse,justicar.We have 3 enemy battleships,a huge number of attack fighters and bombers,and,by this time,the captain paused and deepened in thought for a moment,two dozen thunderhawks emptying dozens of chaos marine squads trying to take over this ship.""I see ",the justicar said ironically.
Marlis and the captain knew each other since they were the same rank,but more prestigious service granted captain Draken his current rank.Marlis had no problem with this as he had tremendous respect for his slightly older superior officer."All available battle brothers were sent to hold the assault of the traitor marines.I should do the same,brother-captain."Yes,Marlis but I have a more sensitive task for you.Did u get in contact with your squad yet?"."No,sir I lost contact when the communications got severed in the attack."Well here are your orders,justicar:Gather your squad,find any other battle brothers you can and go defend the external communications array.We must keep sending a distress signal for as long as possible before we lose this ship.The imperial navy must find out about this."Both men looked each other in the eyes when the words "lose this ship" came out of the captain's mouth sending cold shivers on the insides of them both."Go,brother!,the captain finally said.Marlis saluted his command officer and old friend and,fastening his pace,he quickly exited the command hall thinking what was the fastest way for getting in touch with the members of his squad.At that moment he nearly believed it was the last time he has seen Draken.,but at least he would die alongside him fighting the enemies of the Emperor.
"Sir,we cannot hold much longer,well be ripped apart" a voice was heard from behind a command console in the command hall""Sir main power is down" another voice said.Everything went dead for a second of deafening quiet but after that it all came back to life when the auxiliary power kicked in.The captain was somewhat surprised that was still operational.The few remaining deck officers fell flat on the metal floor as another hit shook the entire crumbling vessel.
"Sir,that last hit took out weapons and primary hull integrity.We're vening atmosphere throught the entire ship"."Seal those sections "the captain ordered."The damage is too extensive,sir.It wont do any good".The captain sighed,realizing the ship will be lost pretty soon and nothing except the might of the Emperor could prevent it.
"Sir,reports say that our battle brothers were overrun by the enemy and have formed pockets of resistance on the remaining functional decks."I thought internal communications were down."the captain said,surprised."Justicar Marlis made another connection from main communications control".Thank the Emperor,the captain thought.
All of a sudden,the bombing stopped.Everyone on the command deck stared at each other,not knowing what to believe or looking around them in an intense confusion.The captain himself looked like he was searching for something in his mind.The hall like command deck was a ruin.Few things in here weren't actually on fire.The dim greenish lights of the auxiliary power source weren't doing much to improve the scene either.The silence that laid its hands on everyone was unsettling to say the least.Finally one of the navigation officers dared to break the silence "Captain,the enemy batteries...they stopped firing."This isn't making any sense.They want this ship intanct But why
The Chaos battleships stopped firing after enough assault craft had been launched.Like bees the thunderhawks swarmed over the battered imperial cruiser,before finally sticking to its hull.Each thunderhawk contained a dozen or so chaos marines.As soon as the hatches were sealed the traitor marines inside started cutting on the hull itself to gain access to the interior of the imperial vessel.
The first few dozens of heretics were gunned down by the already waiting and prepared battle brothers who had already taken defensive positions throught the remaining decks which weren't exposed to the vacuum of space.
Holy streams of bolter fire were flooding the already messed up corridors.On several decks the lights had been cut completely and all both sides could see were the flashes of light from the firing of their own weapons.Dozens of chaos marines more kept coming out from the emergence tubes of their thunderhawks and onto the cruiser's decks.The battle brothers were getting fewer while the traitor forces were increasing in numbers with each minute.
On the bridge of the "Macabellus" aspiring champion Lotregar Thuris stood and watched with satisfaction while entire squadrons took off from the bowels of his carrier to continue praying on the imperial ship which by this time was helpless and dead in space.
"Dead in space",the chaot thought.This word resonated in his mind while thinking this entire operation over.It was a success after all.They striked with overwhelming power and crushed the enemy,and now the prize of his warmaster was in reach.A promotion would be involved,maybe a new rank in the army of the chaos worshippers awaited him.Perhaps the full rank of aspiring champion which gave him the privilege to use weapons imbued with the power of the Warp itself.Gifts from the Chaos gods themselves,according to legend.Thuris waited for a few moments more then he turned from the viewing screens and walked towards the bridge exit.Through the intercom he contacted one of the lesser champions overseeing the boarding of soldiers to be sent to the imperial cruiser."I am going there,prepare a ship"."At once my lord" the answer came in a second.He then exited the bridge room and headed towards one of the battleships's thunderhawk bay.The red light was flooding the corridors,the elevator,but for any chaos marine that was regular.Organization of a Chaos worshipper ship was mostly similar to an imperial one with the exception that the imperials had access to newer technology while the Traitors used the weapons from before the Horus Heresy.But even these were formidable weapons when imbued with the many aspects of the Warp,from the warp powered ship systems to chaos possessed engines of destruction.
Lotregar Thuris had seen all of these in the decades he served his lord, theWarmaster of the Iron Warriors Chaos legion.Hes been in a hundred battles and this was just another errand for his lord.But this one was different,the Warmaster had never been interested in something as trivial as a small imperial convoy,not unless there was something of great importance at stake,something he wasn't told.But,then again who was he to reconsider the command of his lord and master.By this time he reached the ship thunderhawk bays.The huge hangar was buzzing with activity.The black thunderhawks were still coming and going delivering more and more warriors to the imperial wreck."My lord,your ship has been prepared along with a dozen of the best berserkers".He turned his head to his left and noticed the horn helmeted berserkers with their twin chain axes at the ready,prepared to cut anything into pieces.Their power armour glittered with the colour of dry blood along with the insignias of the Legion and of Chaos itself.They got into the thunderhawk and Thuris followed saying to those who were present "lets go and get the prize of the Warmaster"Then he touched the shoulderpad of one of the berserkers and told him "don't worry brother,youll soon have your fill".Berzerkers were former chaos marines driven mad by too much hand to hand combat during dozens and dozens of wars fought on countless worlds.Their ferocity in battle was unmatched,so was their battle lust and desire for carnage.They never used fire arms preferring the intensity of close combat,this being the only thing that could give them back an ounce of their sanity back.They were known for running amok sometimes and killing everything being impossible to stop so they were rather unleashed on their enemies.The thunderhawk took off and in a few seconds came out of the capital ships's belly heading for the already overwhelmed imperial vessel.
On the command bridge of the imperial cruiser the captain was trying to keep the situation still manageable."What reports from the marine squads,lt?,what from brother Marlis?"."Sir,the remaining marine squads report being overrun with traitor marines as we speak.They cant hold on for much longer""tell them to retreat,and form a resistance pocket on the deck below us;tell them to draw as many traitors with them"We need to keep them away from brother Marlis and the communication array.We may still call for help and warn command of their attack in this sector."There were around 100 marines remaining on the entire ship grouped in several pockets throught the ship.Brother Aspen was pinned down by enemy fire at the junction connecting bridges 5 and 6.Several other marines were beside him,taking turns in firing on their opponents.But with each traitor they managed to gun down with their heavy bolters,another came in to replace him from behind.There wasn't one of them that wasn't shot at least once.Their power armours looked like wrecks,with plenty of dents and small holes everywhere.They knew they weren't going to get out of there alive but they continued fighting in the name of the Emperor.Brother Aspen was proud to give his life along several of his squad mates and battle brothers fighting the greatest enemies of the God Emperor himself,the traitor chaos marines."We're not dead yet,the space marine thought and yelled at the advancing groups of chaos warriors: "As long as we fight in His name you cannot defeat us,for we will still fight u in eternity"His fellow battle brothers joined him and in one voice they started chanting praising the Emperor.More chaos warriors kept coming in but the small group of space marines held their ground.Suddenly a shot from a plasma rifle hit one of the surrounded space marines in the head,killing him on the spot.All of the remainder ones decided to make one last charge in memody of their fallen brother.They all rose up,exposing themselves to enemy fire and with their bolters blazing shouting and shooting at the same time started running towards one of the enemy attacking waves on one of the two corridors.Two of them were shot several times before they were put down but brother Aspen and another space marine reached one of the enemy groups,dropped their bolters and engaged their wrist blades.Aspen hit one of the heretics with such force that his gauntlet went straight through his armor and on the other side of his chest.There was nothing to be seen in the helmet of the traitor but the blackness of his visor.He died in a few seconds.Using his corpse as a shield Aspen defended himself from enemy fire,grabbed the plasma pistol which was previously used to kill one of his battle brothers and shot 2 other traitors in the head,killing both in an instant.By this time the other space marine was shot down by the other enemy column advancing from the other corridor.He wanted to throw the traitor's corpse and die with honour by killing one last traitor but the firing stopped and he felt being grabbed and slammed on the bulkheads by a great force.Then he heard a voice saying "Leave this one to me.I didn't practice in a long time".Aspen raised his head a little and saw the purple-red glittering of the aspiring champion's armor.He didn't have time to react as his enemy hit him so hard his power armor cracked.Then the chaos worshipper raised brother Aspen's entire body and hurled it for a distance of several meters,his broken body slamming on the corridor metal wall.
"Is this the best your fake emperor can offer?" Lotregar shouted while walking slowly towards the downed marine."Is this what your blind faith in a false god can do? Well I am not impressed".He then grabbed his chaos scepter and ran it through brother Aspen,the space marine ceasing to breathe after a few moments.Bolter rounds ricoched off his armor while he noticed another that group of space marines started shooting from the corridor to the left.He then turned towards the chaos marines that were waiting for his command and ordered them:"Kill them all.For Chaos!!""For Chaos!!" the others shouted and rushed to overwhelm the space marine squad that had just started firing.Thuris next ordered his berserkers to find and kill any remaining space marine fighting groups but not to assault the command bridge.The head berserker groweled in acknowledgement and got on the move towards the upper decks.
Left alone for now,Thuris proceded to the way on to the command bridge eager of finding more about the item he was sent here to obtain in what mostly appeared to be a waste of warriors and ships.Another hit shook the hull and in another minute or so the hull gave in on two points near his position only to reveal two more emergence points for two more chaos marine squads."You!" he shouted at the emerging warriors from the just arrived thunderhawks,"Clear the way to the command bridge,I want the captain of this ship,and I want him alive""Yes my lord" they answered and started marching towards the upper decks and the command bridge.
Not much was left out of the communication array hall,most equipement was burned,or fried.When he first layed eyes on the room itself,brother Marlis thought nothing was operational anymore.But nevertheless his determination and faith didn't lose any ground so he quickly ordered the techpriests and the communication servitors he rescued on his way here to start repairing whatever could be repaired.He had maybe 20 battle brothers with him and he knew most were rather dead or worse.He knew command wasn't overrun yet for he managed to restore internal communications a short while after he got to the array.Captain Draken informed him that he ordered all able space marines left to fall back to the command bridge where he would mount a last defence if the need arose."Assume heavy bolter defensive positions around the entrance.Form hardpoints with anything uselfull you might find here.He was gratefull he managed to reunite with a member of his own squad,brother Tamerlain,a giant even amongst space marines.In combat he mostly used close range weapons and had improved power fists especially for his combat preferences.Marlis knew his squad mate will take out many heretics with his massive arms and was proud to fight alongside him now when the end seemed inevitable."Does any of you still have plasma mines".If u do place them outside the entrance.When they come we need to force them into a bottleneck and kill as many as possible.We will make them get stuck in their own corpses until they know that the will of the Emperor cannot be beaten.As long as we live,my battle brothers,the Emperor's might lives through us and will strike down our enemies with divine wrath".All the space marines cheered at their leader and brother Marlis knew that was going to motivate them to the bitter end."Brother Tamerlain,when they will start to overrun us I want you to go in and push them back for as long as you can.That will buy us time enough to turn their tide for a little longer.""Yes brother sergeant",the mighty space marine replied turning afterwards to help 2 other brothers carry a big piece of metal they were going to use to narrow down the entrance a little.
"Brother captain,how is the situation on the command bridge ?"asked Marlis through the intercom.For a moment all he could get was static,then he turned towards the techpriest close to him and asked if he could get back communications with the bridge.The techpriest responded with his metallic voice pausing after each word "not likely sergeant, too many of the ship's internal systems were damaged but I will attempt to restore communications."Marlis continued to try to reach his captain and after a few minutes of continuous static,he finally managed to get through."Captain,this is brother sergeant Marlis.We have barricaded ourselves in the communications array hall.requesting instructions""Good to hear from you brother sergeant,I thought we were the only ones left on the ship.Can u manage and repair the external communications?"He was relieved to know that command hasn't been overrun,yet,by the heretics."No sir,all the outside systems were destroyed or crippled in the bombardment.We wont be able to call for assistance."Captain Draken sighed,his last hope of getting help lost.He knew that now all he could do now is fight to the end for the glory of the Emperor."allright sergeant,I am certain u did your best.Well here are your final orders:kill as many of the Emperor's enemies as you can.Tell your men to die with faith and that it was an honour to serve with them in the name of the Emperor.Marlis understood this last message perfectly and shouted at the space marines in the room:"Lets move it brothers,you heard the captain"They all shouted in unison and increased the pace of what each was doing.They knew the heretics will be attacking very soon and Marlis was actually a little worried as why didn't they attack this area sooner since this was one of the ship's key systems."Seal the doors,brother" pointing to the brother closest to the entrance.He did so precisely."Are the mines and explosives in place?" He asked ."Yes sergeant" another space marine answered."In that case we have done all we could here.Now we wait."He ordered the servitors that when the heretics break through the bottleneck to attack them in melee.He knew that servitors were basically harmless to a trained soldier,let alone a space marine,but they might buy some few seconds more and right now all that mattered was how many heretics they would bring down before they all died.With the doors shut,and all preparations done,there was now silence.With their increased sense of hearing amplified by the sensors in their power armour they could all hear the firing still going throught the ship.Their comrades fighting fiercely until they couldn't.At this point each one of them in that hall was whispering prayers to the God Emperor asking for protection and guiding in this dark moment.Lighting in the hall was better than on the darkened corridors where even the redish emergency lights stopped functioning.The width of the room gave them firepower advantage for every single battle brother could fire his bolter on the entrance while still being able to get cover from the enormous pieces of machinery from the communications array.They were all as ready as they could ever get.
After he gave his last orders to brother Marlis,captain Draken closed communications and ordered he was brought his own battle gear.A gun servitor quickly popped up out of nowhere with the captain's golden battle armor,his plasma pistol and his power sword.Captains were rarely expected to engage in actual combat but even if they had they were highly trained soldiers before they became officers and a captain was at least as proficient as any space marine in any kind of armed conflict.On the golden plated power chestguard there was a perfectly polished engraved golden eagle with its wings widespread and the skulls of the chapter's enemies at the base of its talons.The insignias of the chapter and the overall Adeptus Astartes engravings were clearly visible aswell for the armor was actually never used in open combat but only in a few ceremonial festivities.Well,now,the captain thought,its going to prove its worth.The command bridge was a great room with plenty of places to get cover,lines of crew pits spreading throught the entire deck similar to trenches."How many battle brothers made it to this area safely" the captain asked.34,an officer answered.They are awaiting your deployment orders,sir.
"I want 5 of them outside the command room bulkheads and the rest inside NOW!""Yes sir""Instruct those oustside to delay the traitors for as long as possible while we prepare the defenses inside."
The massive bulkheads opened and the remainder 29 battle
brothers spread into the crew pits on the width of the command room in 3 lines,each able to provide cover
to the other one.Several of them had flamers with them.Draken position them on each side of the doors to
provide a distraction while the rest of them concentrated their fire on the large
mass of heretics that was to storm the command room very soon."Every
other figting human on this ship is dead,captain.We are the only ones
left." An officer told captain Draken.The captain
turned his head down without looking at the officer who just spoke to him
silently accepting the truth he tried to deny all along these last few moments."Go to your fighting position,and be ready for anything" he told the man calmly
"Open fire",brother Marlis ordered as he saw the first silhouettes of the traitor's armors.The room then bristled with bolter fire as every battle brother in the room started firing his bolter.The first chaos marine that entered was struck down after being hit by dozens of bullets.More after him quickly got killed really fast without getting any chance of returning fire.The bottleneck Marlis planned was set in motion.The blazing bolters were spitting holy rounds continuously while the entire scene was deafening to an unprotected ear.