A Story Where Space Marines Hit Things Very Hard Pt. 01

19 Jul

And screams of “For the Emperor!” and “In His will!” rang along the battle line. The blood-caked boots of Space Marines crush the blood-slick skulls of the freshly dead underfoot. They push through a torrent of heretics in the siege of a world host to a great shrine of Khorne, the Dark God of blood and murder. Brother marines are torn asunder by bands of berserkers who move through the Chaos lines at a whim, cutting down their own cultist screen to launch surprise attacks.

In the skies above red clouds swirl and lightning cracks, and the worshippers of Khorne swallow the blood of the dead in mad glee. They have waited for such a fight. And a fight they have received. Overhead the chapter’s thunderhawks screech, strafing the palpitating mass of Chaos. The marines oblige the heretics; bolter rounds crack into His enemies, exploding their mortal coils in fits of blood and bone. But their souls, note the librarians in attendance, redden the sky evermore.

The Blood God is present, on this shrine-world. He is watching. He is feeding. The psykers engage the avatar in an attempt to dim its presence, but are encroached upon too quickly by the presence of evil to remain attuned to the warp.

At the front a chaplain matches the ferocity of the berserkers, fending off their attack singlehandedly. He screams a litany of strength and steadfastness, a reading that belies his fury as his mace dents the vile bodies of the traitors; as he grinds them into the earth with a terrible zeal.

Seeing this the Marines nearby brandish chainsword and combat knife and step into the fray with the berserkers, who now fight like cornered dogs. The cultists drop to their knees in this melee and submit themselves as blood offerings to their Dark God, and the Marines tread over them as they push back the warriors of Khorne.

While this section of the line bends forward a dark rift swirls in the sky, and warp creatures drop into the throng. Bloodletters madly stab and squeal with wicked enthusiasm as they land on the heads of the Emperor’s Marines.

An apothecary extracts gene seed from the neck a fallen brother and proceeds to deliver the Emperor’s Peace. Predator tanks send alien dust flying as their cannons fire red hot. The brave chaplain is assailed by bloodletters; is covered in them. Still he screams as he struggles “The Emperor’s Light…burns your weak minds! Seethes with righteous hatred! Traitors! Must! Die!”

The daemons attack with an unearthly speed and agility, but the chaplain swings his mace violently at himself, crushing those who would cling to him. Marines who fight by his side are veiled in a crackling blue glow; the air is electric here, and they fight with an unrelenting fervor. They stand with the Emperor.

With this the Marines push the heretics up to the base of their mountain-shrine. The fighting is fierce here; the ground wet with lakes of blood. The Marines trudge through the mire with difficulty, here they are reliant on their air support and close artillery overwatch. The vollies of Whirlwinds whistle and crash close in front of the advancing line. Orbital cannons strike here and there in the distance, higher up the mountainside, razing the very ground on which the heretics would seek sanctuary.

On his Throne of Skulls the Blood God sits unmoving, his eyes the dark black consistency of pooled blood, simmering as long spouts of flame twist and thrust into the sky around him. He reflects a madness and a hunger so complete it is terrifying; so terrifying it demands submission; in submission, so it is comforting in its completeness. The followers of Khorne in this moment are granted a second wind, a compulsion for slaughter so innate as to cause men to tear at their own flesh and bone.

Through the fire and ash the traitors appear, running scalded and skinless through the ruinous covering fire of the Battle Barge in orbit above. The Space Marines show no surprise, if any had been had at all. The heretics are raked with bolter fire as they toss themselves, tumbling, down the incline. Still, the battle line sags with the weight of a thousand corpses, and Brother Marines are subdued under the weight.

Khorne sits unmoving still on his throne. Madness does not exert madness, and so he sits. His throne grows ever larger as skulls are thrown underfoot, placed one after the other, endlessly lifted by his disciples. He looks forward unblinkingly, as if taking in the whole of time and the universe as it has been, and as it will be.

The disciplined servants, the traitor Marines, recognize this second chance at glory. They hold it at bay; savour and prepare it. They move slowly, knowingly, around the edges of the bombardment. The air sparks and gravity seeps away skyward towards the blue-hot columns, but the traitors walk on, paying no heed.

The bombardment ceases then, and out of the last rising plumes of smoke walk the World Eaters in full, clad in red and brass. As they draw closer, in their state of delirium, they shout ever louder “Skulls for the Skull Throne… Skulls for the Skull Throne…” in a tone so engulfing as to suggest ten thousand men. It sounds as much from the sky above as from them. Some number break the staggering line and scream “Blood for the Blood God!” as they traipse wildly down the cratered mountain. They handle axes, spinning them in anticipation. They cannot wait.

The Space Marines sound a rally cry and retreat their flanks, while the most steadfast hold ground at their center. They would have the traitors throw themselves against the head of a spear, and to be washed away as the blood they so adore. The servants of Khorne pay no heed, as they pay no heed in this moment to sight or sound or thought, and proceed in their tumultuous charge. They drink of their wounds and advance headstrong to their deaths.

At the head of the spear the chaplain stands, mace in hand and bolt pistol firing — he marks targets at an impressive distance. The Marines by his side, his impromptu honour guard gained in the combat, is melted away as the World Eaters unleash volley after volley of suppressive fire. Power armour dents and crinkles under the explosive force. But the chaplain stands his ground, shrugging off his due and returning a barrage of hatred. He calls upon the Emperor at this moment, supplicates to His will.

It is the Marines now, seeing this humble bravery, who break formation and charge, uphill. Treads dig into the now-tractionless dust that remains of the mount, combat knives are drawn and prayers are recited aloud. The two lines crash into a melee, a senseless fray of blood and steel. The Marines seek to bestow an order to the chaos instilled by the traitors, but such strong wills can do nothing here but clash until exhaustion.

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