No, it’s not a political post. It’s way more divisive than that.
So GW leaked part 3 of their
end times of 40k GATHERING STORM! THE LONG AWAITED DECISION TO ADVANCE THE STORY LINE. Guilliman, Cypher, and Grand Master Voldus. Fighting together. For the Imperium*. What’s that asterisk doing there? They are fighting for the Emperor. Why the hell is that struck through? What’s going on?
Oh. Ok. History lesson time.
So back during the Great Crusade the Emperor was promulgating something called the Imperial Truth. The Imperial Truth is a very strict ideology based on secular beliefs and tied to a rational process for explaining phenomenon. There was no religion in the Empire. There were no gods, no demons, no magic. There was, of course, a problem with this. There ARE gods, there ARE demons and there IS magic. The Imperial Truth was a device created by the Emperor to destroy the Ruinous Powers. Basically if no one worships them, they lose power. The idea of the Imperium was to cover the galaxy in humans to the point where xenos races might as well not exist (and soon wouldn’t) and humans didn’t believe in anything other than things with strict, rational explanations.
Unsurprisingly the Chaos Gods objected. Rather strongly. The end result of this strenuous objection was the Horus Heresy. Whoever won, the Imperial Truth lost. Hard. The Ecclesiarchy was on the rise almost before the Emperor’s ass hit the Golden Throne. It went so far that the Imperial Truth was quickly replaced by The Imperial Creed. The Lectitio Divinatus was rising even as the Heresy started. Now the Ecclesiarchy dominates Imperial politics through a strict religious creed based on “The Emperor Protects” and “Worship the God-Emperor of Mankind!”
So Guilliman and Cypher were alive back in the Crusade Era. They remember the Imperial Truth, and many other truths. And they understand its importance. What they may not understand is the importance of the Imperial Creed. As I mentioned earlier, the goal of the Imperial Truth was basically to starve the ruinous powers of worship. To “kill” the Chaos Gods by letting them wither on the vine. The Chaos Gods aren’t going anywhere. They are widely worshipped and have large and powerful armies in the form of the Chaos Legions to “recruit” followers. So the Imperium has its own “God”. Whatever the Emperor wanted, the spirit of the Emperor has become not just the literal guiding light of the Imperium, but also the psychic shield behind which humanity crouches to defend itself. Without that shield the Imperium would be in a lot of trouble.
So Guilliman is back, and with him Cypher and Voldus. Honestly Voldus is a bit of a puzzle to me. He’s a really minor player where Guilliman and Cypher are huge pieces of the lore. Guilliman literally wrote the book on space marines, and Cypher probably has a weekly game of cards with Cegorach to trade tricks and pranks. But why are they on the same side? The Fallen Dark Angels have pretty conclusively been shown in league with Chaos right? Well… yes and no. A significant number of them were worshippers, and Luther fell and became a Demon Prince, but many of them were just disgusted as what they saw as mistreatment at the hands of the Lion, and then got caught up in a battle when Chaos worshippers opened fire on the Lion’s fleet. Cypher apparently represents loyalists to not only the Dark Angels Legion (as opposed to the Unforgiven) but also to the Imperial Truth. Guilliman would be, frankly, enraged, to see what has happened. He wrote the Codex Astartes as guidelines. In fact he’d written much of them before the Heresy and then put his captains and chapter masters through simulated battles to teach them to go beyond them in thought and deed. You see….
So to find the Smurf Brigade being basically thoughtless automatons, enslaved by the codex will make him unhappy. Oh and the fact that they are RELIGIOUS FANATICS to boot will be… well. Incendiary.
Fortunately for him the Smurfs are also obediant as a well trained dog so I’m fairly sure that all 500 Smurf-based chapters will be breaking out the blue paint and singing
hymns SONGS! SONGS of joy at the return of their beloved Primarch.
Where does this leave the Imperial Creed though? They certainly won’t be agreeing much with the Creed, the Ecclesiarchy or even the Inquisition. Guilliman is a pragmatist at heart but he also wants to, you know, win. You can hold off the Chaos Gods with faith in your own Chaos God as it were, but to beat them, you need the Imperial Truth. Cypher certainly understands this, and rumor has it that a good portion of the Dark Angels will paint their armor black and be following him.
But other Dark Angels won’t. This leads me to believe that in 8th edition, once the dust settles from not-the-end-times, we will end up with two “Imperial” Factions. Creedists and Truthers. Creedists will be centered on the Ecclasiarchy, most of the Inquisition, and the Adeptus Mechanicus, and be based out of Terra. I suspect that the Lion or Russ will be their Primarch (The Lion might also get killed during the Gathering Storm, which would make me very unhappy) and many chapters focused more on faith will be gathered to them. The Fists (Crimson and Imperial), the Space Wolves, Black Templar, the Asmodai faction of the Unforgiven (Dark Angels and their descendents that don’t follow Cypher) Iron Hands (who are just there for the AdMech) and Blood Angels.
Truthers will be more interesting. And also make me regret painting my Dark Angels green, I suspect. They will be centered on Guilliman, who will start YET ANOTHER IMPERIUM. Yes he has done it before. His smurf legions will be the center but other, more secular legions and their descendents will be in the fold. The Cypher faction of the Unforgiven (the Forgiven? The None-of-your-fucking-business-whether-we’ve-been-forgiven?) the Salamanders, Raven Guard, and probably the White Scars, and maybe the Alpha Legion. No I’m not kidding. I would be totally unsurprised if they came back to the Imperial Truth (NOT the Imperial Creed) and other legions could come over as well. The Iron Warriors spring to mind. Basically any legion that rebelled against the Emperor, but not in support of the Ruinous powers would probably see a lot to gain by leaving behind the corrupting influences of Chaos.
This would be amazing. It would also make Imperial factions much more interesting. And more dynamic. Does Guilliman become accepting of the Tau? Does Eldrad and his new pet God of Death try to work with the Ecclesiarchy? Do we end up with two inquisitions? I could actually see the Grey Knights going more for the Truth than the Creed. Again, battles are fought to be won, and the Imperial Creed is a big factor in the stagnation that has taken over the Imperium. I’m not saying this is the way things are going, but this is what I smell from the rumors.
Two organizations I love to hate. PETA for their overbearing moralism. GW for… basically being GW. Yes it’s self referential but at this point if you don’t know why “GW being GW” is bad… I don’t have 10,000 words to describe it.
There’s been some great responses.
Fur is murder. In a universe where star ships sail through a sea of liquid murder guided by a murder powered lighthouse
No. Seriously. The Warp is the realm of murder (and a lot of other things) and the Astronomican is powered by the souls, not just the body, and blood, but the very SOULS of psykers being consumed to power this lighthouse.
Then there’s the Daemonculaba. 1D4chan, a rather infamous hive of scum and villainy refers to this is Chaos’ “Aristocrats” joke…I’m not even going to describe it. It’s beyond horrific.
Now let’s look at our fuzzy little cuddly bears in the 41st millennium.
Most of the ones you see are Fenrisian wolves. Think of a horse. No. A draft horse. Good. Now bigger. Bigger. Bit bigger. Ok, close enough. Now add fangs, teeth, a skeleton that would make Wolverine blush, and add a dash of PURE RABID PSYCHOPATH.
So yes. That fur is murder. Angry, bitey, scratchy murder.
So why would anyone buy just a Rhino anymore. Seriously. $37 bucks. Rhino.
Here’s your other choices. Razorback, $42 bucks. For 5 dollars more you can choose a pile of extra bits that give you a lot more flexibility in the build. Basically for each Razorback you see yourself needing, you buy the kit and you can swap it for a rhino just by changing the top deck.
Then there’s the armored assault squad. For $55 you get a Rhino, a tactical squad, and I do love the current tac squad kit, for me there’s a Dark Angel upgrade sprue. Finally there’s one of the REALLY hard to find Dark Angels Squad Transfers. I’d rather get one of the really big ones, but even these are really useful. My current build needs at least 5 of them. Either way, this is a steal at less than $20 more than the Rhino on its own. Heck just the upgrade sprue is $14. The squad is $40. Another way of looking at it is, any Dark Angel player that wants a tac squad gets the transfers, the upgrade sprue, and a free Rhino. Basically there’s a lot of value in these packs. Where there isn’t a lot of value is in units on their own. Any unit you are looking for, look for it in a package these days.
So I managed to get time and motivation to take pictures of the progress so far. The goal for January is all the infantry for the first Lion’s Blade demi company. I’ve got the two 6 man tac squads painted. The 10 man squad I’m still working on the paint scheme for. The old Mk III armor just needs a bit more to look like you aren’t mailing it in.
So there’s what I have. As you can see I’ve gotten a lot of green out there Not much else so far. Priority is on the big tac squad, and assault squad. Then at least getting the vehicles colored. I will treat myself by painting Master Balthasar at some point soon.
I did some modifications on the command squad. The sergeant has a power axe and one of the nice DA Power pistols, and the champion has a DA Power sword. I didn’t go for the robes, but I might eventually do some.
Assault squads are really underpowered in the current edition. I do plan on using them in a 10 man squad because I figure I need to make sure something is still there to hit when they finally arrive in close combat.
Need to touch it up quite a bit. I like the theme so far, but as you can see there’s a lot of details that I could add to it, but at a certain point I’m worried it will look busy, but anything short and it might look like I’m mailing it in.
I will be doing transfers on the shoulders. That will help a lot. But below the waist there won’t be a lot of detail, just highlighting and shading and… I’m not sure.
One last Mk III view. Got to fix the eye and the helmet, but not too much else, just highlighting, the bolter, and shading.
So the next project is the Mk III tac squad. Then I’ll probably do the Chapter Master. Depending on the weather I’ll be spraying the vehicles I have, to get them to mean green machines. Beyond that I’ll be working on the assault squad. I do need to work on how many devastators I want to have in this squad (and in the other squad).
The Angels commanders entered Colonel Akinye’s tent, the Colonel and his staff were already standing. The staff braced to attention and the Colonel bowed low and made the sign of the aquila.
“Welcome Master Balthasar. We are honored you have returned.” He said, with a vague questioning tone. “We were just planning the defense of the positions you captured. Without your astartes we wouldn’t have had a chance to hold them, but we would have fought as long as we stood, then fought on on our knees, and then fallen forward to fight in the prone!” He raised his fist in a triumphant pump, not noticing that his speech had done little to brace the spirit of his staff.
“Well Colonel, now we are back and I doubt that will be necessary. Have your soldiers guard the woods to the north of the position my demi-company secured several days ago. We will secure the hill and the trees beneath it. And try not to give too many speeches to the men. Few words, but heartfelt is best.” Balthasar said. He heard a distinct click as Maccabeus turned off his vox-speaker.
Balthasar inclined his head to the Colonel and turned to leave the tent. As they walked out into the light of the twin moons, Maccabeus voice came up over the command channel. “That idiot had as good as given in to defeat before the battle had started, and he was more than halfway to convincing his men that they were defeated before the fighting started.”
“Why do you think I told him to not give any more speeches Brother Chaplain.”
“I nearly choked when you did. Have we a plan?”
“I expect the Xenos to come from the Northeast. Mostly infantry, try to blast us off the hill. Battlesuits and Hover-tanks will rush down the road between the trees and the hill. My demi company will defend with the Razorback squads on the north side of the hill, the Devastators will guard the peak, I’ll be with the 5th and my command squad in the trees, and the assault squad will be behind the south end of the hill, ready to counter-attack in either direction, with our Ravenwing support close to hand. These xenos are cautious Their first attack will not be fully blooded. The librarian and his terminators are aboard the ship if we need them. You will take your demi-company north to back up the main line, but do not engage if you do not need to. I want to be ready to counter attack, and we’ll want the full company for that.”
Balthasar shrugged his shoulders, rolling them around in his armor. “Let us go to our camp. The Colonel will hold the hill for the night and we will advance before dawn. Have the weapons blessed and anointed with oils, debrief the brothers of the 7th, and let us prepare for battle.”
With that he strode off alone. A pavilion had been prepared by the M’Boton Cheetas. It was filled with all sorts of furs and luxuries. Balthasar placed his weapons on the table, and carefully removed his armor. The rack the M’boton troops had provided for it groaned under the weight but bore up. Balthasar mused on this for a moment. A portent he was sure, the men of M’boto might bend, might creak and shudder under the weight, but they would bear it.
His weapons he oiled, a fine Relic blade. One of the last ever made on Caliban. The low gothic runes spelled out “Arnot” on the blade. The bluish-black steel shined under the oil. To his hands it felt pitted, like a worn down mountain face. He knew better than to test it. Even without power the ancient weapon cut through astartes armor like paper, and even tanks suffered under the powered blade. Reverently he placed it in the cradle on the rack. He stripped down his bolter, chanting the ancient rhymes of maintenance, reverently oiling each piece and carefully replacing them feeling each action slide in perfectly. He wasn’t sure when his next chance to prepare would be, and he rejoiced in the simple, soldierly task in the simple white robe packed deep within his simple satchel of gear for campaigns.
his armor he carefully inspected and maintained. Starting with the boots he scrubbed the mud and dust off, checking the hinges and joints, working up the greaves and knee pads, he checked the flex-joints for tearing. He carefully inspected the symbols of chapter and company. The banner bearing his own personal heraldry he unrolled and placed on its pole. He finally hefted the breastplate of his armor and cleaned it reverently. Carefully polishing the edges he cleaned the plastron, and checked the lining on the inside, the tubes and hoses all connected, the connections cleaned. Finally he cleaned the blade of the Dark Angels from handle to hilt, and then the wings of the Angels and the Aquila. Carefully he placed it back on the rack, listening to the groan as the grey wood took the weight. He took a moment to admire the carving on the armor stand. No simple piece, hastily assembled; it bore the marks of a craftsman. Not an ornament for a kings hall, but a gift to a leader of warriors on campaign. He called the Chaplain one last time to check in, and, finding all to his liking he set his vox bead to wake him at any signal and cast himself on the cot carefully so as not to break it and let his awareness slip away.
So currently there’s a lot of chatter about two things upcoming in the 40k universe. The fall of Cadia and the upcoming 8th edition. The fall of Cadia is coming hard on the heels of the Siege of Fenris and continues that story. Magnus has patched things up with Ahriman, sort of, and the word of the sorcerers was teleported in toto to Prospero. Abaddon the Armless is attacking Cadia and I have a feeling it might actually work this time, what with the campaign being called the Fall of Cadia and all. Living saints are showing up with the Imperium getting its own “Party Float” model. Seriously. She’s this close to being a Protectorate Warcaster. Guilliman is on his way back, just to piss off everyone who doesn’t like the Ultrasmurfs, even though he’s mortally wounded and “slowly healing” in stasis while the Lion is just napping. For ten thousand years. What can I say he naps like a pro.
So the grimdark story is moving forward. GW hasn’t called it the “end times” because, well, that would trigger everyone who liked Warhammer Fantasy before
GW RUINED IT FOREVER reimagined it in a new format. This is especially key with a new edition looming on the horizon. First let’s do some accounting. 20 Primarchs. 2 lost and expunged. The Lion is napping (LIKE A BOSS), Fulgrim and Perturabo are demon princes, Khan and Russ are taking extended tours of Chaos-affiliated architecture, Dorn and Ferrus Manus are dead (ish. more on this in a bit) Konrad Curze and Sangy are dead, dead, dead. Angron is a demon prince, Guilliman is apparently already on his way back (unenthusiastic yay) Mortarion and Magnus are Demon Princes as well, Horus is as completely destroyed as you can be, Lorgar is an especially whiny demon prince, Vulkan is a Perpetual, supposedly he’s dead but the guy has plot armor like whoah, Corvus Corax is MIA but with a HUGE asterisk, and I am Alpharius. Or Omegon.
So the Imperium can expect to see the Lion, and Guilliman for sure, and Russ, Vulkan, Khan, and Corax wouldn’t be a stretch. Dorn and Manus would be a stretch but Dorn is in that “Have you seen a body?” “Well, we have a hand, sir” category. If they want him back he’s back. Manus would be more of a stretch but also is a huge opportunity. First off he’s a very popular Primarch for not being one of the “major” legions/chapters. He’s boosted by having THE best model among the Forgeworld Primarchs (Seriously, check it out) and the stories of what has happened to his head lead to the potential of a Robot Nixon style return. What would make this delicious is the fact that he actually abhors the replacement of flesh with steel, which seems the kind of suffering GW loves to inflict on its tragic heroes.
Corvus Corax is much more likely to come back, and he’s an interesting one. Last seen headed for the Eye of Terror he hasn’t been confirmed dead, and while his last action seems suicidal, he’s very much not. He’s an extremely dedicated servant of the Emperor, in fact he’s a bit of an ideologue, much like Lorgar in his blind faith. He also has an amazing wealth of knowledge of gene-seed and space marine creation, thanks to his efforts rebuilding his chapter. He could be a huge piece of rebuilding the Imperium after the coming apocalypse.
Chaos can bring Fulgrim, Lorgar, Mortarion, Angron, Magnus, Perturabo, and possibly half of Alpharius Omegon. Most of them don’t need much introduction, they are Demon Princes and if GW wants them in, they will be in. Alpharius Omegon was supposedly killed, half by Dorn, half by Guilliman. I don’t believe it for a second. I do believe that they have the potential to be the second largest spoiler in the whole shebang. Who is the biggest? Magnus the Red.
No. Really. I’ll explain. Here’s what I see happening, Cadia falls, the Black Crusade spills out headed all across the galaxy. As Abby’s ships approach Terra the Golden Throne fails and the Emperor dies, coincidentally banishing Abby’s ships to the Eye for a time, and possibly even creating a mini eye of terror (the Eye of Terra if you will.) The Demon Primarchs have fanned out, many taking over their own kingdoms and the regular Space Marines are on their back foot. Guilliman is building another Empire. He’s done it before. Vulkan shows up to help with War machines, Corvus Corax shows up to help create more marines, Russ shows up to help kill everything, and shortly before Terra get whomped, The Rock shows up to try to defend Terra. And intercept a certain Fallen. Cypher shows up not on Terra’s walls, but at the Rock. Walking in as if he owns the place he hands his pistols over and carrying the Lion’s Blade he waits while every Inquisitor Chaplain descends on him, only to be stopped by the Watchers in the Dark. The Watchers lead everyone to the depths of the Rock, past even Luther’s chamber, to where the Lion lays sleeping. Cypher lays the Lion’s sword on his Primarch’s chest and asks “Father, why did you abandon us.”
To which the Lion awakes and responds “I left you to defend our homeworld, to safeguard the future of our legion. Why did you fail in your charge.” A few seconds later the scene is re-enacted a few rooms over in Luther’s chamber, with much of the last 10,000 years of Dark Angels history being revealed as, literally, the Lion gave a shitty mission brief, leading Luther and the Fallen to believe they had been abandoned, when they had, in fact, been trusted with the most important mission they could be given. Coincidentally this leaves the Dark Angels and the other Unforgiven as a highly unified force, which the Lion absolutely would not hesitate to wield in the tradition of the Space Marine Legions of the Crusade era.
This is a band aid on a sucking chest wound though. The Imperium has basically fallen. The Emperor is dead, Primarchs are empire building in the rubble. Chaos is expanding and all of reality hangs by a thread. The loyalist Primarchs, Guilliman, The Lion, Russ, CC, and Vulkan, all gather on Ultramar. Discussions go round and round on how to proceed. The Lion is the new Warmaster. Guilliman is the Emperor-regent, CC and Vulkan are helping rebuild the armies, and Russ spearheads the charge. However while they can try to patch the sinking ship they find themselves stuck at a dead end.
At this point they are joined by three more Primarchs. Dorn, Khan, and Magnus. No, I’m not kidding. In my vision of 40k, Dorn was rescued/captured by Magnus, who has no great love for Tzeentch or Chaos, and might very well be open to returning to the Imperium on his own terms. Dorn has intimate knowledge of the Golden Throne, from his time as guardian of the Imperial Palace, and Khan is intimately familiar with the Webway, which was a large part of the development of the throne. Magnus is willing to fulfill the Emperor’s role for him, as, basically, the ass in the throne, provided the other Primarchs work to restore his legion.
Most of the Primarchs are more than willing to participate, but one of them, Russ, is absolutely incoherent with rage at the thought. He has just returned to find Fenris shattered, by Magnus, and even were that not the case he would not countenance letting the traitor return to the fold. However, Russ has few friends at the table, and his Chapter has been shattered leaving him with even less power than that. Magnus pours oil on the waters by asking that Russ be his guardian, and, if he shows any moment of disloyalty, his executioner. The Wolves and the Sons were always the smallest of legions, and while their hate for each other is legendary, they have both always been utterly loyal to their leaders.
This gives the Imperium a rudder. With a new leader, Big Papa Smurf, a new Warmaster, the Lion, a cabal of technicians, and a new guiding light in Magnus, as well as flipping two of the most devious cards in the Chaos deck (Cypher and Magnus) the Imperium has the initiative. Just in time for the return of the Emperor.
Of course Chaos won’t take this lying down. Alpharius Omegon may or may not be loyal to Chaos, or the new Empire, or anything else at this point, but the rest of the Primarchs are in it to win it, and their power is terrible to behold. While I don’t doubt that any of the Primarchs could have taken down Primarch Lorgar back in the Heresy era (a wounded and exhausted Corvus Corax nearly did it during the drop site massacre) I doubt any of them would be quite so succesful about taking on Demon Prince Lorgar, and Lorgar lagged far behind his brothers in martial skill. I shudder to think of the power that Perturabo has picked up, even as a “undeclared” champion of chaos. Now imagine the power of a Mortarion, Angron, or Fulgrim, all martial masters with the backing of their own Chaos God. Yeah I’ll pass on that, thanks. Added to that, the Marines will be stretched very thin, and the resources of the Imperial Guard will be taxed to the limit without the web of trade, resources, and administratum support the Imperium had. Guilliman will likely be occupied full time just re-connecting the Ultramar sector.
So here’s how I see it. Chaos will establish lodgements all over the fallen Imperium, with bickering warlords squatting in the ruins of humanity’s greatest empire. At this point the loyalist Primarchs reunite and play all their cards to build the Ultramar Empire, with the ability to strike hard, but not widely, and not often. Chaos has won incredible gains, but now faces a foe far more focused, and more driven, at a time when its own power is badly divided.
But enough lore.
My first thought is “Please don’t fuck this up”
My next thought is “You know, they keep talking streamlining. Do they mean streamlining or do they mean abstracting?”
Currently there’s a couple hundred “USRs” between the BRB, the codexes, the campaign books… yeah there’s a lot of special rules. That list needs to be pared down. Preferably to a couple dozen. This alone would accomplish a lot.
There needs to be some balance changes as well. Right now vehicles are usually not taken unless they are free, or deployed en masse by specific armies. Vehicles should be key factors. You need a balance between them dominating the field, and being too dominant, but it shouldn’t be a “how can I get free transports for my troops” games with formations. On that topic, WTB Rhinos/Razorbacks.
Now let me talk about something I would LOVE to see. Something that would make the game a lot faster, and help balance melee vs. ranged combat. I’m stealing this idea from Epic 40k, which is still GWs best ruleset. Firepower. That’s right, Firepower. Instead of rolling to hit, to wound, and then dealing with a myriad of saves, it will not die, and regenerating, we abstract all of that. Every weapon gets a firepower rating. Better yet every model gets a firepower rating. An ork gets a 1. A guardsman a 2. A tactical marine a 3. Add together a whole unit’s firepower and look at a chart to see how many dice you roll, modified by the targets cover and concealment. Then you roll against the target’s defensive value. Terminators would have a defensive value of 6, marines might have a defensive value of 5, an ork, aspect warrior or tau a 4, a guardsman or guardian a 3, and a gretchin or swarm creature a 2. For example a marine tactical squad with 10 bolters has a firepower of 30. The chart gives them a rating of 15/11/8 against targets in the open/soft cover/hard cover. So against a guardsman squad in the open they roll 20 dice, with a fair chance of blasting them off the table. Against a squad in hard cover they inflict a handful of casualties, and all this is done in seconds. Special weapons might add a special rule to the attack, for example a fixed number of dice regardless of cover (flamers) or additional dice against certain targets (lascannon against heavily armored targets for example)
I doubt GW will do this, but I’d absolutely love to see it. It much better captures firefights as troops blasting away at targets of opportunity rather than single, aimed shots.
Melee needs love too. Badly. Delivering enough troops to melee and having enough left to do anything is very hard in 7th edition. Go ahead, charge a Dark Angel or Tau force and see how many dice your opponent brought with him. In addition it’s just not that deadly. Getting rid of toughness/armor and just giving a defense score helps, and if my firepower suggestion is taken, it’s relatively easy to tune the firepower/dice chart to set whatever balance you want. Need more melee? Firepower generates fewer dice. Think melee in the year 41,000 is silly? DICE FOR THE DICE GODS!
Ok this post is up over 2200 words.
“We are going back” Master Balthasar said. His eyes hard on the Librarian.
“We are going back. The Knights will take their cargo to the rock on the Strike Cruiser but we will remain here to ensure that nothing of this is spoken of where it shouldn’t be”
Balthasar glared at Herod. The Librarian leaned back, his eyes taking a meditative cast “We will keep most of the Deathwing here, only the knights will return. And the detachment from the 7th will be glad of the reinforcements.”
Balthasar turned his head, breathing deeply. And again. Focusing on the map his brain automatically created from the briefings sent from the planet below.
“Very well. Detachment Abnell is holding the defensive complex we took a few days ago. We will deploy there and strike the xenos through the woods to disrupt their lines facing the Guard. I will have Captain Hanadan so inform General Middlebrooks immediately. Will your Deathwing be ready within the hour?”
Herod nodded immediately.
“Very well, have them on the embarkation deck within the hour, we drop in sixty minutes.” He paused to toggle his vox on “5th Company! Gear for immediate deployment. You have 50 minutes to be assembled by squads on the embarkation deck. For the Lion and Caliban!”
50 minutes later, in the full panoply of war, Master Balthasar strode onto the embarkation deck. Chaplain Maccabeus stood at the head of the squads lined up, the vehicles were already attached to their Thunderhawks, the last of the chapter serfs fled the bay even as Balthasar crossed the threshold. He marched to the lead Thunderhawk, then turned to his men as they stood fixed in their ranks. “Brothers. Embark!”
As one the assembled green troops turned and filed into the transports. 6 columns filled the dropships and vox clicks and chatter buzzed as squads and chalks checked in.
“Balthasar to all elements, final check”
“Squad 10, present and correct”
“Squad 9, present and correct”… and on until finally
“Chaplain Maccabeus, all squads are present and correct Master Balthasar”
“Brother Librarian is your element ready?”
“We are ready Master Balthasar, give the word”
“The word is given. Captain Hanadan, open the doors and launch the Thunderhawks!”
With that the door lifted, ponderous and slow, yet smooth and the Thunderhawks lifted as one, arrowing out into the inky blackness, and turning in the double v formation that would drop them in their two demi-company groups, even as the Blade of Judgement fired her main engines to depart the system with her precious cargo.
The Thunderhawks dropped, thrusting hard even with gravity pulling them down, like homesick children desperate for the embrace of their family. The Dark Angels were returning to war.
3 Weeks prior to the battle. Departing The Rock the Strike Cruiser Blade of Judgement climbed away, pushing towards M’boto. The engines grumbled deep within the hull as the troopers and their naval serfs secured gear. Master Balthasar and Chaplain Maccabeus sat in the strategium with a chart of the company hovering between them.
“Master Balthasar, I understand we haven’t been brought fully up to strength, I have to question leaving our Tactical squads so understrength.”
“Brother Chaplain we have been over this. We could either leave every squad understrength, and risk our assault squads being short in the press, or our devastator squads short of ammunition, or we can take advantage of the Techmarines offer to grant us the use of the Razorbacks to make up the firepower our tactical squads are missing for want of battle brothers. Now, let’s go over how we will deploy. I will take the odd squads, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, two of the Ravenwing squads, and you will have the even squads, as well as the land Speeders. Brother Librarian Herod will be in support, but he has his own mission and will decide which of our demi-companies he will support according to the dictates of his mission.”
“I would be more comfortable knowing more about his mission, Master Balthasar,”
“I know Maccabeus. We believe several rebel humans have joined with the Xenos. The Librarians and Deathwing have specific orders regarding that. That is all you need know and more than would be wise to share, even with your sergeants. Now, you have two full strength tactical squads, an understrength squad with a Razorback, and a full strength Assault and Devastator squad. I will have two understrength tactical squads and one full strength. We have enough Rhinos to transport all the Devastators and Tactical squads, and of course the Razorbacks, I will have the company command group with me, and Brother Maimonades has scared up another razorback for us. I’m assuming you will draw a jump pack to join with your assault squad?”
“I will Balthasar. I would like to try to draw additional weapons for that assault squad?”
“I will have a word with Maimonades. You need all the help you can get anyway. Oh and the final detachment with us comes from the 7th company. Brother Librarian Abnell is bringing a pair of tactical squads, as well as a predator, and a dreadnought. Brother Maimonades will join him. These squads have just been assembled, and Master Ezekiah was very strict telling us to keep our hands off of them. I plan on leaving them aboard the ship, we don’t have transports for them, and until we have a secure base they would just slow us down. Once we have a base we will deploy them to defend it and help us secure our links to the local defenders.”
“I concur. I’ve had a few words with the serfs as well. Maintenance will not be a problem, we have laid in a lot of stores, and Captain Hanadan laid in a generous supply of munitions to ensure we have plenty of time for training. I do think we should include our brothers in from the 7th in this training, in case we do need to work with them, if that is acceptable.”
“You are just hoping they make your scores look better.”
“Nonsense Master, I’m hoping they provide camouflage for your own scores, they are slipping, probably under the weight of all that ego you carry around!”
“Hah. Speaking of which we are due for live fire ourselves. Tomorrow we brief the sergeants. Remember, no word of the rebel humans unless Herod or I say so.”
“Of course” sighed Maccabeus. He stood to leave, his robes whispering as he turned to the door. Balthasar looked sharply to the corner where a small figure darted from sight. As he stood he grumbled to himself “Must have a word with Herod myself. The watchers have been restless…”
Master Balthasar. Captain of the Fifth Company. Keeper of the Ritual. Something of an enigma. All that is known in the canon is that he’s a long term veteran of the Deathwing, was a veteran sergeant there, and took over the fifth after his mentor, Master Zadakiel, was killed by the Chaos Marines of the Crimson Slaughter. So let’s flesh out this Dramatis Personae a bit.
Master Balthasar passed through the Scouts of the tenth with notice, but no great distinction. He served ably in the Devastator and Assault squads of the reserve companies, earning a reputation as an able, precise close quarter fighter, far more at home is the press of melee than in the distant thunder of the big guns.
He moved into the reserve tactical company, and demonstrated exceptional situational awareness, frequently commanding a combat squad when his squad divided during operations. His stint in the reserve tactical companies ended when he received a call to the 5th company, taking his place in the assault squads, one of which he swiftly rose to command. As every marine leader does, he led from the front, preserving his forces with canny tactics, carefully marshalling his squad and executing precision strikes, demonstrating masterful control of his squad as an extension of his will. Master Belial was quick to call him into the Deathwing, trading the speed and flexibility of his jump pack for the inexorable power and stolid protection of the tactical dreadnought armor. Taking part in many campaigns against traitors and renegades he learned much of the fallen and took the news of their existence in stride, incorporating it into his plans and tactics flawlessly. He ascended quickly again, to knight and then to Deathwing Sergeant. Commanding his own squad of knights until, in a raid against the Crimson Slaughter; chasing rumors of the Fallen, he watched across the battlefield as an ambush caught his old mentor and commander, Master Zadakiel and fire tore him and his command squad apart.
The Fifth faltered, and Balthasar rose to the moment. Dispatching his squad to continue their mission he loped across the field, desperation forcing him beyond the normal limits of the powerful terminator armor until he was amongst his old brothers. Snapping out orders quickly and surely he rallied the company and led them through the Crimson Slaughter’s defenses, although their Fallen comrade had slunk away, the Fifth had found their new master, and Azrael’s decision to award him the title Master merely confirmed that which was widely known when the company returned to the rock. Putting down the bone white armor of the deathwing, he resumed the dark green of Caliban and took up the mantle of Master.
Master Balthasar saw the blue-skinned xenos as soon as he crested the knoll, passing close to the copse of trees, with two squads to his left, and another working its way through to his right, his squad screened the Devastators of Sergeant Simuels 9th squad who would set up on the top of the knoll after Balthasar’s command group had cleared it. Balthasar boomed out the Dark Angels battle cry “REPENT, FOR TOMORROW YOU DIE” He swung his relic blade into his left hand, hoisting the massive Combi weapon one-handed he fired a bolter into the squad of xenos blocking the road beneath, as a large, fast-moving hovercraft blasted down the shoulder towards the Chaplain’s attack.
“Bring down that ship!” Balthasar cried, even as Simuel’s Missile Launchers and Plasma Cannons barked several shots, smashing the sturdy craft to the ground, where it began to burn even as the survivors of the squad within tried to crawl free, into the bolter fire of the rest of the devastator squad. The tactical squads to Balthasar’s left also raked the wreckage, keeping the survivors from rallying under their cruel scourging fire. Balthasar’s attention was jerked to his right as a shell struck his shoulder pad. Across the road at some distance las-fire flickered from a position that was held by humans.
“Matthias, the hunt is on, your quarry is across the road on the far hill, call for support when you have closed in” Balthasar tongued the stud switching to his command frequency. “Brother Librarian, Sergeant Matthias is closing on the enemy. I believe the signal you seek is near him”
“Very well Master Balthasar, we stand ready to drop on his signal. For the Lion” came the reply of Brother Librarian Herod. The Iron Armor of the 3rd squad crashed out of the trees at last, at point blank range to the defenders currently firing at Balthasar’s group. Other positions across the road had engaged the squad’s to Balthasar’s left and the Devastators were engaged with vehicles trying to force the road before the Chaplain could break through. The clumsy, heavy armor of the 5th squad shrugged off the surprised, desultory fire of the defenders of the road, and the staccato bursts of their bolters sent the survivors of the attack fleeing. Balthasar ran forward, leaping the barricade “Fifth, secure the barricade and aid 1st and 3rd. Matthias are you in position?”
“We are, bring in the reinforcements”
Even before Balthasar could speak the booming chime of a teleporter announced the arrival of the Deathwing. 11 suits of Terminator armor, in the midst of the traitorous humans pinned under the heavy weapons of Matthias fast-moving speeders. Lasgun and Bolter fire smacked into the terminators, not even slowing them as they opened a lethal close range fire, silencing nearly all resistance.
“The xenos are breaking!” Called Eleazer, at the left of the line.
“Judah, harry them and destroy them”
“As the Emperor wills!” called Eleazer, even as the jet packs launched them into a headlong pursuit. Balthasar raced up the hill as the Speeders orbited at a safe distance. The Devastators had chased off the xenos vehicles, one of which was burning, and smoke indicated other damage to the ones that limped away. The bone-white terminators were in a ring around a small, sunken bunker. One of them, armor picked out in blue, called out as Balthasar approached.
“He’s in there. I can feel him.” His powerful fist clenched on the staff he carried. Balthasar looked around him. “Purify the battlefield” he directed his squad “Herod and I will attend to this”
Herod hefted his staff and Balthasar blasted the door with the Combi-Weapon’s plasma gun, then stepped back as the bulky terminator-armored Librarian rushed the door, allowing him to heft his relic blade and race in on the Librarian’s heels. A robed figure in simple armor faced them.
“You have forsaken us, and that word.”
“You have forsaken the Imperial Truth, and all the Emperor stands foAAHHHHH” he cried, as a halo of pink and purple danced around the Chaplain’s hood. As the figure started to buckle; Balthasar leapt forward securing the prisoner. The librarian was speaking with the ship on another channel. Balthasar hefted the prisoner to his feet the Librarian reached out a hand, grabbing the prisoner roughly. “Begin the withdrawal, we have what we came for, our campaign is over”
“It is indeed. Chaplain Maccabeus, send our transports to grid 10371138. Have the apothecaries see to the wounded, and the fallen. Inform the guard we are required elsewhere, the battle barge will be withdrawing us soon.”