Last Son of Caliban: At Close Quarters
Bors barreled his way through the hallways of the Chaos-infested ship. The mockery of his Imperium fed his rage and the massive thunder hammer in his hand provided his only outlet. He smashed at the thralls and traitor marines with equal abandon, the cataclysmic smashing of his weapon echoing on the bare metal. Behind him, the inceptors of Sergeant Uriah towered, their massive armor letting them see clean over their smaller brother, and their twin assault bolters hammered any knots of resistance, paving the way for the white-hot fury of the Lieutenant.
Bors lived two lives on the ship. At once the winged angel of vengeance, hammer and combi-melta dealing out potent justice to the traitors and at the same time a detached, brilliant commander of half of a company of the Emperor’s finest. Swiftly he pushed his force along, corralling the enemy into a trap to be sprung at the perfect moment. Bors knew in his hearts that the 5th was his. He had served in the Ravenwing and the Deathwing, rising to be a sergeant in the Deathwing Knights, he had been on the cusp of rising to be the Master of the 5th when Guilliman had turned his interest to the Unforgiven and asked very pointed questions that had changed everything. He did not blame Master Cain or Supreme Grand Master Azrael. He knew the pressures and demands both worked under, and he was not a weak mind to suffer jealousy. He served his Master and his Legion to the limit of his abilities, and his limits were very high indeed.
He checked the position of his demi-company one last time before plunging down a side passage. Scattering the thralls and crew of the ship they broke onto a gantry overlooking a wide gallery. Behind him the Inceptors stomped around to cover the other entrances with their rapid fire, short ranged assault bolters. The smaller Astartes tactical squads and Primaris inceptor squad in the demi company lined the railing, while the two Devastator squads lined up on either side of the Lieutenant. One of the devastator squads carried the Plasma Cannons so beloved by the Dark Angels. The other carried missile launchers and Multi-Meltas. They stood at the inboard bulkhead, facing down at the back of the bulkhead of the room just inboard of the rest of the company.
“Fire” ordered Bors over the Vox. The powerful melta guns roared, missiles screamed from the launchers, and the bulkhead shattered under the assault. The Iron Warriors on the other side of the bulkhead were some of the toughest defenders, and most determined attackers, of all the astartes created, but they didn’t shift between plans easily. Undisturbed they could have mown down Cain’s company as they broke out from their lodgement. Now they faced heavy weapons in superior position thanks to Bors swift assault. They began to move, but the rest of Bors strike force got in a massive first salvo. The Plasma guns launched blue bursts of starfire while the Bolters and Bolt Rifles of the marines lining the sides engaged targets bereft of cover, many still facing the wrong way.
Another roar announced that Master Cain had launched his breakout. Bolter and Plasma Incinerator fire smashed into the barricades, forcing the Iron Warriors to hug their fragile shields or risk a certain death. A monstrously huge traitor legionnaire, with an armature similar to a techmarine bellowed and gestured, physically dragging some of his men into a makeshift line to offer some opposition to Bors’ fire. The Iron Warriors shook off their stunned surprise and while some executed the old plan, pouring a withering fire into Cain’s troops, still hidden by the remains of the bulkhead the rest brought their weapons to bear on the more vulnerable devastators, whose lighter armor and less resilient bodies could take far less punishment than the newer Primaris.
“Uriah, follow me! Jubal, Zebediah, cover the doorways. For the Lion! For the Emperor!” he barked brandishing his hammer before igniting his jump pack to launch himself into the enemy leader. He felt the massive impact of the inceptors as they rode their own columns of blue flame to the lower level, trying to unseat the enemy before they could truly settle in. Bors swung his hammer down even as he landed, catching the traitor Warsmith on his knee, shattering it and his lower leg. The veteran of the long war didn’t flinch, the long mechanical arm on his back grabbed the wing on Bors’ assault pack shoving him back while the chainaxe the warrior carried swung in a brutal arc. A quick mental command from Bors unclipped the ornamental wings and he ducked the axe, losing half the back of his helmet to the close call. Stunned a moment he still rolled with the blow and came up swinging, pulping a hand of the traitor before standing with a flourish, with a brutal, simple waist high uppercut swing, smashing under the armpit of his enemy. The thunder hammer discharged, shattering armor and ribcage as the traitorous leader exploded in a shower of viscera and armor.
Even as his opponent fell he grabbed his combi weapon from the mag lock on his thigh and vaporized the head of a Iron Warrior lining up on Master Cain, leading a rush of intercessors and Assault Marines to try to unify the company. Within moments a flurry of blades and bolter fire the company stood together.
“Master Cain” Bors intoned with a bow of his head.
“Brother. You and your men take the honors today I think.”
Lieutenant Nabbuk walked up, still punching information into his arm computer. “Master, Lieutenant, we have accounted for nearly two hundred and fifty traitor astartes, and at least a thousand thralls. Assuming this ship lost some men on the planet I do not think they have more than 50 astartes on board, and we can sweep the thralls away with small arms. Might I suggest we cripple the ship before withdrawing?”
Cain looked at him, then at Bors. “Lieutenant, your team will hold here. I will be with you, but I’m giving Sergeant Uriah to Lieutenant Nabbuk. He will take the other strike force to the engine room to rig demolition charges. When they are on the way back your force will extract by Thunderhawk, there should be enough time for a round trip that will let the entire force extract smoothly.”
Bors looked at the Master for a moment, then at Nabbuk before nodding and going to order his troops into position to cover the bridgehead. Bors knew he had led his men that day and many others, and that Nabbuk must prove his mettle, commanding without close supervision if his men were to trust him, and even a mission against the light opposition expected would give the much less experienced officer some seasoning.
As the reinforced strike team marched aft Bors knelt behind cover, popping off his savaged helmet. Not seeing Master Cain approaching.
“Are you wounded brother?” asked the Master, not used to seeing any of his men unhelmed in a combat situation.
“No, master, not a hair on my head is disturbed.”
“… You shave your head brother.”
“Then I do not lie. That traitor nearly tried to get at the ones still below the skin though. Another centimeter or two and he might have found a way to make me a liar.”
Master Cain shook his head. The sons of the Lion did not offer much humor, and it seemed jarring when it happened. Indeed Bors reminded him much of the sons of Russ he had served with amongst the unnumbered sons. Looking over the hastily established, nearly impregnable defenses Bors had established he could hardly argue he was any less than a full Son of the Lion, as he continued to prove with every plan, with every battle, with every duel. The heavy weapons had commanding fields of fire, yet were well protected by barricades. Their blind spots, the few that existed, were overlooked by full squads, ready to catch anyone trying to sneak up on the big guns in a hail of bolter shells. In the back of the defense, sheltered in a large barricade were a squad of veteran astartes, carrying a meltagun, and Sergeant Elias, who for this battle had brought a grav gun and power axe of his own. Cain already knew that if any attack threatened to break the line Bors would lead this force into combat, the small group carrying far more firepower than their numbers would indicate, and the acumen of the two leaders would see it employed to the fullest.