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Last Son of Caliban: The Arrival

Master Cain sat in the command throne, his battleplate interfaced with the ships systems, projecting a constant stream of data across his faceplate.  The only data his eyes sought was the countdown to emergence.  Somehow the transit, one that should have taken barely a week, had stretched over two long months.

“Emergence”

“Sensors, full scan, Vox, raise the planet and any ships in the vicinity.  I must know what has happened in our absence.”  He carefully retained his seat.  His eagerness could already be sensed in his voice, he did not care to add his physical presence to the nervous serfs of the crew.

Shipmaster Peleg, evicted from her command chair had selected a position by the sensorium.  The powerful screens, scopes and sensors quickly gathered information and the servitors evaluated it.  Peleg jerked upright.  “Master Cain!  Mordia has… changed.”  She chewed the word, sounding repulsed by what she saw.  Cain selected the scope observing the planet and felt his gorge rise.  The planet seemed to undulate.  Shimmering waves of color passed across the terminator, patterns that whispered in his head, promising knowledge, wisdom beyond measure, secrets unknown ripe for the plucking.  He turned off the screen.

“Scan the other planets.  Focus on Luminaria.”

Peleg forced herself jerkily to close off the view of Mordia.  As soon as that scope slewed away she snapped upright, shoulders back, another stab of her fingers brought up the view of Luminaria.

“Shrine World of Luminaria looks… Luminaria stands!”  Another few switches and everyone could see the shrine world glowing, surrounded by fire as fleets battled.

“Vox, raise Luminaria, now.  Any identification on those ships?”

“Working now Master” came the call from the young officer at the Vox station.

“Helm, bring us in, Polar orbit for now.”  He keyed his vox to the network for the troops onboard “Warriors of the Fifth!  Mordian has fallen, but Luminaria stands!  We will deploy immediately to support her defender against the foe, and determine what has happened during out overlong transit.  All hands to drop stations.  Bors your blade will stand by to deploy by drop pod to clear a landing zone should we need one, Nabbuk we will go in by Thunderhawk once Bors has cleared the way.”  Two clicks on the vox were his only answer, the subnets spiked with activity as his Lieutenants quickly changed his orders into action.

“Master Cain, Blade of Vengeance is hailing us.”

“Open channel.  This is Master Cain of the Dark Angels leading the 5th Battle Company.  We are inbound to support your forces,”

“Well met Cain, I am Captain Tybahlt.  I am not sure what you know, but Mordian has fallen, corrupted by Chaos, the foul sorcerers of Magnus have turned it into their plaything.  The Iron Warriors have destroyed most of Luminaria.  The Iron Guard defends the last few shrines.  We are trying to pull them out but the Iron Warriors have the planet under tight control.  We have destroyed several ships, but both our fleets have suffered heavy damage.  You and your escorts might cut a way through.  How many boarding torpedoes do you have?”

Peleg threw a switch, tagging the information for his attention.  “6, 2 Thunderhawks, and fighters for escort.  One of our escort brings several Ravenwing pilots with it, they can cover us.”

“Excellent.  I will alert Lord Astorath.  We should have targets by the time you enter strike range.  For now plan on that Grand Cruiser being your boarding target.  For the Emperor!”

“For the Emperor”  Again he swapped channels.  “Brothers!  Our cousins the Blood Angels have been fighting a long battle, and the Mordians a longer one.  They cannot hold even with our help.  Astorath and the Blood Angels wish us to help them, evacuate the survivors of this system.  We will cut open a path, and the Blood Angels will escort them free.  Nabbuk, bring your troops to the boarding torpedoes.  Bors, prepare the Thunderhawks for breaching actions.  You have 10 minutes.”

Bors responded almost instantly.  “Master Cain, We can handle the initial boarding!”

“I know Bors, but you have most of our firepower and I need to know where to bring it in before committing it.  The Iron Warriors will have turned that ship into a fortress, and we will have limited time to cripple it.  I will lead the initial boarding with Nabbuk, and plant beacons for your Thunderhawks to strike.  Keep the fighters with you for cover, and husband your forces carefully.  The Iron Warriors are tenacious fighters and will whittle you down at every chance.”

“I… Yes Master Cain.  You are correct.”  Bors clicked off the channel and began issuing his own orders.

“Shipmaster Peleg!”  Cain said over his speakers.

“Master Cain.”  Peleg braced to formal attention, the tall woman coming almost to Cain’s armpit.

“The ship is yours, deliver us to boarding range of the Grand Cruiser, my men will board and cripple her.  Smash aside her escorts, and alert us if other ships seek to intervene.  We must open a way for the transports that will be fleeing the planet soon.  Serve the First Legion well today Shipmaster.”

“As always, Master Cain.”  Peleg said evenly.  Making the sign of the Aquila across her chest she turned to the crew.  “General quarters.  All hands rig for close combat and boarding.  Bosun, send all available crew to the batteries, and ensure ammunition feeds are ready.  Engines, prepare for full burn as soon as Master Cain signals readiness.  Helm, I want a course ready to take us close enough to the Grand Cruiser to damn well walk to her.  Her gun batteries might reach a long way but they traverse like they are encased in lead…” Her voice cut off as Cain left the bridge.  Cain hustled now, Nabbuk should be nearly ready and the range to the cruiser was already closing.  As Cain approached the torpedo room he slowed, striding through with the careful pace of a swordsman.

“Master Cain, the target is the Ferrous Malice.  A Repulsive class, or close enough, lots of long range firepower.  We approach her head on, 3 minutes to contact.”

“Board the torpedoes brothers.  It won’t be long before Peleg delivers us into battle.”

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Last Son of Caliban: Divided Councils

Lieutenant Nabbuk knelt in his cell.  His robes laid precisely around him as he contemplated arms and armor.   The last week had been onerous, even for the transhuman Astartes and their Primaris cousins.  Suddenly Ezekiel had summoned them back to the Tempus Occidere.  The brothers had been ordered to their cells for equipment maintenance and told to assemble in the Strategium for a briefing from the master.

Nabbuk’s brow set in a deep furrow as he contemplated this.  Ezekiel and Habbakuk had let them know that Master Cain languished under the care of the Chaplains, and no one else had seen him for the week.  The watchers on board had been agitated.  A pair of them had watched him constantly since the time he had returned from the surface.  Others had been constantly wandering the corridors on unknowable errands according to the Chapter serfs crewing the ship.

The chime of his vox bead jerked Nabbuk from his thoughts.  He toggled it with a tilt of his head, and leapt to his feet as the voice of Master Cain sounded from the bead.  “Lieutenants, attend me immediately in Ezekiel’s chambers.”  Before Nabbuk could acknowledge the carrier cut off.  Nabbuk rose to his feet sharply turning out the door so quickly he had to twist to squeeze through the opening portal.  He paced down the corridors at as rapid a face as respect for his rank permitted.  His hood flipped up his arms folded down the opposite sleeves had paced down the halls of the strike cruiser, Bors fell in step coming around a corner, looking like a younger brother beside Nabbuk, despite having nearly a century on the Primaris.

As they approached the Librarian’s quarters Bors paused a moment, laying a hand on Nabbuk’s breast.  “Tread lightly brother.  Curiosity is not a virtue among our brotherhood.  We obey, we fight, and we guide our brothers.  We do not question.  Restrain.  Your.  Curiosity.”  Nabbuk reared back a moment, then bowed his head before turning to the door.  They entered Ezekiel’s quarters where Master Cain stood before Ezekiel, Inquisitor Zadok, Inquisitor-Chaplain Habbakuk, and Astropath Granik.

Cain stood in the center of the room, with all but Habbakuk in front of him.  The Inquisitor-Chaplain glowered from the corner of the room.  Darkened in deep shadow his eyes glowed like baleful coals looking over the assembled leaders.  Ezekiel hid deep in his cowl.  Bors walked in like a man pushing against a gale, then stepped to the side of the door inches from the wall.  Nabbuk followed his lead on the opposite side of the door.  Cain looked at Ezekiel a moment, as Ezekiel and Habbakuk glanced at the Lieutenants.

“Brothers.  We have been summoned.  The leader of the heretics lies under our Chaplains as we extract information to secure this world, but we cannot delay here any longer.  Skagerrak will hold without us.”  He nodded at the Astropath, her sunken eyes windows into a horror that Nabbuk didn’t care to contemplate.  “Granik he brought us a distress call from the planet of Mordia.  The Iron Guard calls for aid.  Commander Dante has called for loyal servants of the Emperor to aid them, and Supreme Grand Master Azrael has dispatched us.  We have already broken orbit, and will enter the Warp shortly.  The Navigator tells us a beacon shines on Mordia, which should greatly aid our travels.  Shipmaster Peleg tells me we should be there within the week.  We shall brief the company now, and then begin hardening their spirits to face the monsters of the immaterium.

Re-Organising the 5th

So, new Marines, new Rules, new org tables.  And yes I enjoy geeking out to this.

Asterisks are by units I need all or part of

5th Company Order of Battle, Company Master Matthias

Command Group:  Company Ancient, Apothecary, Chaplain, Champion, *Techmarine
*Razorback

Tactical Squad Samuel – 6 Marines in a Razorback

Tactical Squad Jehoash – 6 Marines in a Razorback

Tactical Squad Amon – 6 Marines in a Razorback

Tactical Squad Micha – 10 Marines in a Rhino

Tactical Squad Hagai – 10 Marines in a Rhino

Tactical Squad Gad – 10 Marines in a Rhino

Assault Squad Nosson – 5 Assault Marines with Jump Packs

Assault Squad Elkanah – *10 Assault Marines with Jump Packs

Inceptor Squad Elisha – *5 Inceptors

Devastator Squad Yonah – 6 Devastators in a *Razorback

*Devastator Squad – 6 Devastators in a *Razorback

*Hellblaster Squad Neriah – 5 Hellblasters in whatever transport comes out for them

Predator, Venerable Dread

Company Support

Ravenwing Force Eleazar- 10 Ravenwing Bikes, 3 Ravenwing Knights, Dark Shroud, Champion

Deathwing Force Matthias – 5 Deathwing Knights, 12 Deathwing Terminators, Land Raider

Warhammer 40k 8th Edition

So NewGW has gotten 8th Edition 40k out the door.  So far it’s a solid 8/10.  I like a lot about it but there’s one BIG missed opportunity.  More on that later.

First off, the boxed set is very good.  Lots of new miniatures, lots of very cool miniatures.  I can’t wait to get my hand on them, HOWEVER it’s a lot better if you are a Nurgle player than a Space Marine player.  There’s a lot more demand for the Space Marine models than for the Nurgle ones, I only need a couple of the models so… there’s just no reason for me to get the big box.

The rulebook is hefty, solid, and has maybe 20 pages of core rules and examples with all kinds of “optional” rules for army building and scenarios.  All told it’s less than 40 pages of rules.  There’s a TON of fluff, art, and pictures.  It’s fairly well organized, and the bookmark is a godsend.

The game flows very well.  The rules are super tight, you can play games in 2 hours or less with ease even after only a few.  They also tend to make sense for the most part, there are some oddities, for example let’s say a 30 ork mob is standing around a building.  A Land Raider can see and has range on one of them the rest are out of range and behind the building.  The Land Raider proceeds to do 15 wounds.  15 orks now have to take wounds, regardless of LOS or range.  Doesn’t always make sense, but it’s very clear and explicit how it works mechanically.

The one problem is it’s still IGOUGO and, without alternating activations games can and will be decided by who gets first turn.  I imagine there will be a Warlord’s Handbook similar to AoS that will give us some kind of alternating activations to alleviate this, but for now BLOCK LOS WITH TERRAIN!  Not always an optimal option but… it’s all we have.

So I’m setting some goals for this edition.  Get my Dark Angels 5th company fully painted, with Ravenwing, Death Wing and vehicles.  Participate in either a tournament or a league every 6 months.  Get the wife to be able to paint her own army so I don’t have to do too much painting.  Learn how to airbrush, which will help the rest greatly.

Things I hope GW does:  Figure out their damn company owned retail store strategy.  All the ones in Iowa/MN are woefully understaffed, and somehow it messes with the stock going to other, frankly better, local gaming stores.  Replace half the writers writing fluff novels.  It’s amazing how poorly some of these are written.  I’d like to see more effort put into actually laying out story arcs for the characters, and I’d be real interested to see Erebus turned into something other than an awful disney villain.

The Truth is a Lie

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?

girlman

At least he’s wearing a helmet.

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….

guidelines

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.

cypher

GODDAMNIT PUT THAT LID ON HERO!

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.

Dark Angels: The Models!

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.

Command squad, 2 Tac squads on the left. Tac, Assault Marines, Dev squad on the right.

The models I have so far. Need a razorback, 5 assault marines, and a rhino for the devs (might add some meatshields to the devs as well)

 

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.

Detail of the Command Squad, Tac squads, and unpainted vehicles

Going to do some touching up on the tacs, but I wouldn’t mind putting them on the battlefield now.

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.

Rather more boring

One painted model, the rest are victims of Caliban Green spray paint. Yes. I’m lazy. I am actually really looking forward to the assault squad. I do like the look and I have a chaplain with an assault pack coming.

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.

16105806_10158430881480221_1582454098489924872_n

5th Company Heraldry on the Shoulder Pad

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.

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Echoed the heraldry on the front bone and black faceplate. Gold eyes. Also figuring what to do with the other shoulderpad.

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.

16002872_10158430881325221_8587236601641450194_n

More details to pick out and repair, But you can see where it’s going.

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).

Swamps of M’boto: The Return

“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.

Swamps Of M’boto

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

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.

Swamps of M’boto part II

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.

“Brothers”

“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.”