Irgendwie geht ja in diesem Teil des Forums eher weniger ab. Warum ist das eigentlich so?
Naja, egal. Da ich gerade in nem anderen Forum, wo ich rumhänge, bei ner 40K Short Story Competition mitmache, habe ich mir gedacht, ich führe das Ergebnis auch Euch zu Gemüte.
Vorwarnung - da die Competition - am Wort erkennbar - auf englisch ist, ist die Geschichte natürlich auch in englisch. Trotzdem viel Spaß =)
Ascension - by Chris aka ph03nIXx
Finally. After days that had felt like weeks, a week that had felt like a year, filled with the rattle of gunfire, explosions and the never ending sound of orkish war cries, the noise of battle had finally come to an end.
Nothing came to his ears, nothing but the beating of his twin hearts, paired with a dull pain in his chest. Lying on his back, he looked up into the blue sky, into the twin suns under which he had fought for days. It had not been the first campaign in his long life as the emperor's weapon - a life dedicated to vanquishing the enemies of mankind had prepared him for all the universe could throw at him. He had known what to expect - the weeks that had led up to this point had been nothing compared to the eternity of warfare in the Emperor's realm. But still... the constant battle seemed to have dragged on for an eternity. As he lay under the blue sky of this accursed world, his whole life seemed like one single battle to him.
And here and now, this battle came to an end. Just as the thought occurred to him, something blocked out the sky: A golden figure, surrounded by a halo of golden radiance. His warm, benevolent features looked down on him - both pleased and sad at the same time. He spoke... but as the silence enveloped him, he could not hear. As He spoke, His expression was one of grim seriousness - foreshadowing the wars yet to come, the one battle yet to fight in His name. And just in that moment, as He bent down to put His hand on his shoulder... the beating of his two hearts stopped.
It all had begun with one word.
"Enough!" The fire of rage burning in his eyes, their lord had pronounced the death sentence of each and every greenskin living on the cluster of worlds known to the Imperium of Man as the Blackfang System. After decades of defiance against the Imperium, Dante, lord and chapter master of the Blood Angels, successor to the Great Angel and heir to the throne of the IX. Legion, had decided that the time had come for the eradication of the greenskin menace that had plagued those worlds for so long. And so, for the first time in centuries, the entirety of the Blood Angels had gathered to wage war as one unified whole.
The planetfall on Blackfang V marked the beginning of the crusade. Part of a coordinated orbital assault on the four mayor planets in the system, Dante commanded the assault on the fifth planet himself. Having picked "the Blooded", the chapter's second company under command of Brother-Captain Aphael, as his spearhead, he rammed this weapon right into the heart of the ork horde that infested the planet: Following on the heels of an opening orbital bombardment, Aphael and two-third of his battle brothers had made an orbital drop right into the main greenskin settlement, landing at the feet of the ramshackle yet formidable battlements the leader of the greenskins occupied. With this daring raid right into the center of the enemy stronghold, Dante intended to cut off the head of the Waaagh quickly so that his forces could destroy the rest of the horde when it scattered.
Dante himself stayed behind to coordinate the assault from orbit, both commanding the space battle that still raged between Blood Angels vessels and the flotilla of contraptions the orks called space ships and maneuvering the other parts of his strike force into position for the cull. Instead of leading the strike at the enemy stronghold himself, he left the plan how to exactly perform the decapacitation of the beast to Aphael.
All of them still vividly remembered Dante's fury in the moment he had declared the crusade against the greenskins. He could see it in the eyes of his battle brothers as they stood around the projection table that was the centerpiece of their field headquarters. All four were intently staring at the hololith showing an auspex approximation of the greenskin fortress' interior structure: Markus, an old, bald, battle scarred veteran and pragmatic that had served him well as advisor for decades. Aurelius, a muscular giant of a man, even by Astartes standards, but known for his surprising finesse in battle. Ardus, the young, blond, longhaired novice from the order of sanguinary priests that served as his personal apothecary - a loose and quick tongue, but well versed in the sanguinary arts. And finally Korranis - slender, quick-witted and always with a hint of smile on his face -, the spirited young Swordsmen that served as his Blood Champion and first of his personal bodyguards, the only one from 2nd Company in these ranks. Clad in the traditional golden armor of the Honor Guard, they looked like titanic warrior statues of old, rendered in bronze or stone, protecting the entrances of catacombs and temples in any human civilization that ever existed. Superhuman guardians of the most valuable things their makers had to offer - in their case not figuratively, but literally. It was their job to keep him safe and alive through the hours to come.
"So we are doing this the old-fashioned way, hu?" Korranis offered.
They all knew the plan. Aphael himself had come up with it, being the expert on greenskin warfare that he was. The orks that hadn't been vanquished by the orbital bombardment - which still was a veritable horde by all means - would crash against the defensive perimeter the Blood Angels had set up like waves against a cliff. By holding this position they would draw more and more greenskins to this fight, slowly but steadily draining the battlements around them of their defenders. It was in their nature - there was nothing the orks could do against this. This way, Aphael knew, they would involuntarily open the path for him and his Honor Guard: When the enemy elite finally joined the battle at the feet of the fortifications, they would take to the sky with their jump packs, leaping right over the battlements and into the heart of the fortress. There, they knew, they would find the enemy leader and take off the horde's head just as Lord Dante had planned.
"We all know it's risky, but risky is what we were made for, you know that," Aphael replied. "If we want to finish this quickly, there is no other way, seeing how entrenched their position is..."
"Oh, there is," Korranis replied with a smirk, "we could just lean back and raze the whole planet from orbit. But it seems that Lord Dante isn’t satisfied with just wiping all pieces from the board in one go."
"Lord Dante isn't satisfied with solutions that include smashing the board to splinters, boy. To kill off all greenskins from orbit would mean destroy the planet completely," Markus answered with a raised eyebrow.
"Of course, Brother, but the point still stands - we could just have shelled this place with artillery or have an airstrike destroy this laughable attempt at a fortress. I am the last one to run from a fight, but there are other ways to ascertain that the leader was killed than having the captain watch him die personally."
Aphael lifted a hand to end the dispute before Markus could respond. "The moment we set foot onto this planet, we passed the point of no return. So no more discussions - we just go and kill that greenskin brute, clean and simple."
The ruins that Aphael's men had occupied as makeshift defense perimeter were painted in blood. Korranis looked down from the roof of what once probably had been a vehicle hangar as the greenskins again retreated into the surrounding maze that was the ork camp. He had power sword and combat shield in hand, the blade still humming as the power field evaporated the last remains of greenskin blood on it. He and the other members of the Honor Guard had been posted at different points along the perimeter, leading combat squads of jump pack equipped Space Marines into counter charges where the press of enemies was greatest. The fighting raged for several days now. Having returned to his rally point, all around him he saw battle brothers covered in gore: Assault Marines revving their chainswords to clean them of greenskin remains. Tactical Marines and Devastators reloading their boltguns and heavy weapons, their muzzles steaming from sustained fire. Techmarines making field repairs on heavy bolter turrets they had erected to support the defenses. Apothecaries checking on the wounded - and retrieving the chapter's due from the dead. All of them had been baptized in blood, the vital fluids bringing out the crimson of their armor even more. Until now, losses had been minimal, but scouts posted at forward positions reported that right now, bigger brutes were rallying the orks for another assault at the Blood Angels' position. Not much longer and Aphael's plan would proceed into the next phase.
The Blood Champion watched his captain walk along the defense perimeter. Even after the fierce fighting in the last days, even though covered in blood and grime like all the others, his golden artificer armor still made him look like a beacon of righteousness on the battlefield. Every now and then, he stopped, brushing away strains of his blood-soaked, black hair hanging in his face, and exchanged a few words with someone down in the trenches. Each time, his face showed that compassionate, caring aspect that seemed so at odds with both the noble, aristocratic arrogance bred into his features and the feral rage boiling in his green eyes. It was this unlikely trinity that made each and every one of them a Son of Sanguinius - each of them strove to reach that perfect balance of all three aspects of the Great Angel. But there were few that really ever got as far as Aphael hat come: An exemplary warrior, driven by the rage in his soul to the heights of martial perfection; an insightful leader, the deepest concerns of his men laid open to him thanks to his deep compassionate empathy; and finally a masterful commander, thanks to the unshakeable faith that he was born to fight, to lead, to command. Korranis had always admired him for that, knowing that he himself was different: A warrior supreme, unmatched by the all but the best of his brothers, his martial skill fueled by the dark rage burning in his heart... but nothing more.
Just as his mind began to further dwell on those differences, his voxbead chimed. It was one of the forward scouts, relaying his latest observations to Aphael on the command channel that the Brother-Captain shared with all members of his Honor Guard. Korranis locked eyes with his commander as he listened to the scout’s message, his tone urgent: "A new wave is coming, Captain. Several bigger greenskin leaders and heavily armored units sighted. Presence of enemy elite units confirmed. All scout elements falling back to defense perimeter." Aphael just nodded up to Korranis before he broke into a run towards the designated meeting point of the Honor Guard. "The end is nigh..." the Blood Champion thought grimly and fired his jump pack.