Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bitterness of War

Captain Rexus, commander of the 3rd Company of the Imperial Dragons Chapter of the Legion Astartes, sat alone at the vox station. The glowing greenish vectors of the display were the only illumination in the dark and silent chamber. The reports from the Cemephon Theater were bleak. Xenos incursions were rapidly advancing on every front. Only New Boston had been secured thanks to the efforts of a certain shadowy Inquisitor. Captain Rexus flexed his fingers as if reaching for a weapon. Dealing with the Ordos always made him feel this way. They were a valuable asset, and yet, the price inevitably seemed too high... Despite this, the larger campaign was failing and the xenos were advancing with contemptuous ease. They struck where they wilt, driving the Imperials before them like cattle. This did not sit well with Captain Rexus. Although he was enroute back to his chapter command following a successful mission with only a remnant
force at his disposal, he saw the opportunity to strike the alien scum and give them a lesson in the steadfastness of the Imperium.

Yet, his force was weak. He had only three tactical squads at full strength. His own command squad was completely depleted and he would need to indoctrinate new members from the veterans at hand. However, he had one asset at his disposal at full strength, but which he was loath to commit – the Ancient Brothers. The Phalanx of Thermopile was a strike cruiser fitted for stealth operations. Her load-out bulk was significantly reduced to make way for fast engines and stealth capabilities. Consequently, she was outfitted to hold only a single space marine company. Captain Rexus was returning with significantly less than half of the company he had departed

To be a Space Marine Captain was to be decisive. Captain Rexus saw the opportunity and he took it. Three of his ancient brothers were chosen and mated with the Ironclad Dreadnought chassis available. Captain Rexus stood in the Honored Chamber as they were each awoken in turn. The rectangular sarcophagi were strangely blank and anonymous considering the glorious heroes who resided within. Ancient brother Ulthus was the first to awake. Ulthus, the captain of the 7th company who lead the crusade against the Ork Waagh of Krull the Hammer on Julius Four nine centuries ago, was a notorious firebrand. The moment he had registered his surroundings, he has pacing about the chamber his heavy footfalls shaking the decking, his massive hydraulic limbs flexing with repressed violence…

Lucien the Lost was the next to awaken. He was slow to register his surroundings, his limbs moving sluggishly. Lucien was once a Techmarine, one who had served for over seventeen centuries; he was a literal archive of the chapter. Yet his mind seemed to be drifting, slow to grasp his current state… Rexus doubted his ability to serve and would send him in with the first wave to draw the fire of the enemy. Lastly, Bellus the Bellicose rose as if he had just woken form a short nap. He stomped around the chamber briefly, elbowing Lucien and Ulthus aside and making his way straight to the tactical display. In life, he was the leader of the Vanguard Assault squad of the 3rd Company for nearly three centuries. Rexus himself had been a member of his squad in his youth. Consequently, he knew to be sure so assign Bellus to the initial assault drop or there would be hell to pay…

The resulting battle was brief and brutal. As the thunderhawk pulled away, the xenos were in disarray. Captain Rexus stood upon the extended assault ramp and inhaled the smoke of the battlefield like the finest incense. Their losses were negligent. The sarcophagus of Lucien, who had so bravely initially assaulted the xenos, and whose dreadnought chassis was destroyed, was quickly recovered from the battlefield. Every other unit had sustained minimal casualties. They had captured two critical objectives, but in the larger scheme of things, it was merely the fact that the humans could strike at will with overwhelming force that mattered. From this day forward, the xenos would advance with caution, giving the Imperial forces critical time to retreat and consolidate.

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