Planetfall: Part 1

For hours, frenzied tidal waves of crazed green-skins dove head first into the implacable ranks of the Adeptus Astartes. The feral ork masses had never met such a foe. Precise volleys of bolter fire smashed into the advancing hordes. Stormtalon gunships hovered in the skies above, unleashing their lethal payload on the advancing savages. Those that were not cut down by the righteous thunder lived only to meet the warriors of Ultramar in brutal close combat. At the fore, stood brother Captain Titus, resplendent in his battle regalia. Amidst the ruin of countless fallen orks, the Ultramarine leader fought on, tireless and undaunted.

By the flash of their bolt-pistols and the lightning of their power-blades, Titus and his honour guard lay waste to every green-skin to cross their path. Soon, even the vast numbers of the ork horde were spent. The fight had been a slaughter. Though hungry for battle and utterly without fear, the native orks of Tarandros had little in the way of weapons that could pose a serious threat to the Astartes elite. As such, and despite the great carnage, the Ultramarines suffered no fatalities. Captain Titus sheathed his weapon and surveyed the battlefield. “Brother Marius” he called. From the ranks of ceramite-clad warriors, a tech-marine came forth and asked “yes my Captain?” “Tell me of the enemy’s movements” Titus commanded.

Tech-marine Marius consulted his instruments before replying: “The majority of the planet surface is overrun by green-skins. Not all are as disorganized and ill equipped as those that we just faced, however. I have analyzed Guardsmen vox traffic, and it appears that these native orks are being directed by a single warlord. Several armored divisions report engaging a fully mechanized force. From the chatter…it seems that they are no rabble of mindless orks…they are larger than average and their armor is thickly plated.” Captain Titus nodded as his suspicions were confirmed. “Then we must hunt down and slay this leader. Afterwards the reclamation fleet will perform its work.” Titus turned to Brother Antonius, who was charged with coordinating communications with the Imperial Fleet.

“Inform Admiral Vijeck that he is to deploy a platoon of Guardsmen, an armored division and Basilisk support to this position. I expect these coordinates fortified within the hour.” He said. Antonius acknowledged the command and began to relay the message. Captain Titus turned to Marius once more “tell me which Guardsman detachment has met with the fiercest resistance, that is no doubt where this warlord lies.” The tech-marine began to reply, but he was immediately interrupted by Brother Antonius. “Captain! Emergency transmission from Brother Sergeant Severus!” Titus had dispatched Severus and his bike squad to scout the area to the north of the Ultramarine landing site. Clearly something was amiss.

Captain Titus adjusted his vox controls and listened to Severus’ cold, metallic voice, broadcasting to all authorized Astertes channels. “Enemy contact, quadrant Alpha, sector 12. Xenos: designation Tyranid sighted. Spore pods breaking atmosphere. Xenos: designation Tau sighted. Both forces collaborating. Reason unknown. Guardsman convoy laid waste.” Unfazed by this unexpected development, Titus sprung into action. With a gesture, he signaled for his honour guard to form up about him. They complied in moments. The Ultramarine leader opened a channel to Battle Barge Andronicus. “Brother Severus has found a new threat. The Codex requires but one course. Emergency teleport on my position. Commence immediate deployment of strike force Beta.”

In mere moments, Titus was aboard his flagship once more and executing the strategic re-deployment of his forces. On the planet below, Sergeant Severus and his bike squad waited patiently. The horizon changed quickly form desert brown to scaly purple. As the Tyranid beasts advanced, teams of fire warriors took up positions behind them. This did not concern Severus in the slightest. He was not troubled by the sighting of a Riptide battle-suit and its impressive armament. Nor was he perturbed when the enemy swarm was a mere kilometer away, scurrying towards him at all speed, in the shade of a Hive Tyrant’s enormous bulk. For he knew no fear.

When it seemed that the Xenos masses would surely engulf the lone bike squad, strike force Beta rained down from the heavens. From their drop-pods, tactical marines and sternguard alike rushed forth and took up defensive positions about Severus’ squad, using their very transports as cover. With a deafening roar, the Tyranid Hive Tyrant flew to meet them. Every bolter weapon on the field opened fire. The first volley tore a great hole in the beast’s wings. Unable to stay aloft, it plummeted to the ground. The assembled Sternguard armed their weapons with hellfire rounds and emptied their magazines into the foul creature.

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But the Tyrant’s hide was strong, and the massed Ultramarine firepower appeared to have no effect. Hundreds of rocket-propelled bolter-shells detonated harmlessly on the giant Tyranid’s carapace. Even the Sternguard specialized ammunition seemed ineffective. Great holes would be torn into the Tyrant’s scaly body, only to be regenerated within moments. The beast twisted and turned, roaring in fury. In spite of the terrible barrage, the creature held its ground, exhibiting no instinct for self-preservation. As though its mind were not its own. Eventually the persistent fusillade took its toll. The Hive Tyrant’s outer shell was rent asunder. Soon the beast suffered wounds that even its unnatural constitution could not heal. At last, after suffering the wrath of the marines’ weapons for fully ten minutes, it fell, lifeless.

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From his vantage point amidst his entrenched fire warriors, Cadre Fireblade O’shui observed as the insect leader died. Phase one of the prototype psi-emitter test was complete. The device was the culmination of the Water Caste’s research into solving the ork problem. Little was known of the predatory alien race that the humans called Tyranids. Unlike Vespid, these life-forms had resisted all Ethereal attempts to educate them about the Greater Good.

By chance, one of their biological vessels had been found drifting in deep space near Darkstar Sept. Once captured, Tau scientists studied the creatures found within. They learned that Tyranids operated through synaptic communication and discovered that mastery over the insect leader would grant control over the swarm. O’shui knew nothing of how the strange device operated, only that it emitted waves of energy that matched those of the insect leader, compelling all others to obey. They great beast itself had been lobotomized, and implanted with electro-shock guidance systems.

While remaining in range of the creatures, the Cadre Fireblade had monitored the purging of local ork infestations. The Tyranid weapon proved highly effective for this purpose. However, the arrival of the humans prevented a more thorough test. Evidently they had ignored the orbital buoys that clearly declared this world to be property of the Tau Empire. Materializing in Tarandros’ outer orbit, using their reckless warp technology, the Imperium of Man had made no diplomatic overtures as far as O’shui was aware. Unauthorized landings had taken place throughout the planet’s surface.

A mechanized column had even barged into the test area and began attacking the Tyranid experiment. This triggered an immediate and vicious retaliatory instinct that quickly overwhelmed and destroyed the interlopers. Afterwards, when O’shui saw the Space Marine reconnaissance unit, he knew what would come next. The Fire Cast Academies teach well the tactics of the human Imperium’s strongest warriors. It would be a honour to test the Tyranid weapon on them. An opportunity that the Cadre Fireblade could not ignore.

Now that the Tau’s pet Hive Tyrant lay dead, the Fireblade wondered if the remaining Tyranids would remain under his control. He activated the psi-emitter’s interface and confirmed that its output still emitted the frequency that should cause the swarm to attack. To his relief, the Tyranid advance continued uninterrupted. They significantly outnumbered the handful of Space Marine warriors that had just deployed to defend the bike squad, and O’shui was confident that they would be defeated. The defensively deployed Marines held firm, but the advancing insects would soon crash into its exposed right flank.

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Unbeknownst to Cap’n Klaw, his various acts of piracy throughout the Viridian sector had not gone unnoticed. Months ago, a Planetary governor had secured the aid of Alfonso, Librarian of the Blood Angels Astartes chapter. Aboard their strike cruiser, the children of Sanguinius had tracked Klaw’s erratic movements and followed them to Tarandros. They arrived in the planet’s orbit just as their Ultramrine brothers had begun their assault. Not long after, the Blood Angels intercepted a guardsman communique, reporting the sighting of an enormous Orc matching Klaw’s description. He had been seen aboard a Battlewagon, moving at all speed toward the south of the Ultramarine landing ground, accompanied by an assortment of ork vehicles.

Two squads of death company had been readied for this occasion, and they each flew to the ork warlord’s location aboard their own Stormraven gunship. The rest of the Blood Angels force remained aboard their ship, in low orbit, ready to descent into combat by jump-pack or drop pod. As soon as the cruiser reached the proper coordinates, four squads of five-strong assault marines leapt out of their ship’s open hangar. They burned through Tarandros’ atmosphere, activating their jump-packs mid-flight, and landing with thunderous impact in sight of the Ork mechanized force.

Librarian Alfonso was about to order the rest of his brothers to join the assault marines, when Ultramarine Sergeant Severus’ message burst to life on his vessel’s emergency vox channel. Immediately, he resolved to dispatch half of his force to aid the Ultramrines. He ordered one of the Stormraven pilots to change course, and joined a tactical squad in their drop-pod. At his command, they descended with all speed to the planet below, with yet another squad of assault marines falling in their wake. As his transport reached its destination, scans of the forces beneath him showed that the Tyranids were poised to flank the Ultramarines. Adjustments to the landing coordinates were made.

Before the Ultramrine lines could be enveloped by their foe, Alfonso’s drop-pod crashed into the Tyranid’s path. The Blood Angels burst forth and added their bolters’ music to their Astartes brothers’ symphony of destruction. The Blood Angel tactical squad held the creatures at bay long enough for the assault squad to arrive and charge head-long into the tangled mass of vicious Tyranids. Meanwhile, the Ultramarine firepower was so great, that the Tyranids could not reach their lines. As a result, they were effectively funneled into the right flank, and clawed desperately at the newcomers, seeking to overrun them.

They may have succeeded in this goal, but the re-directed Sotmraven gunship shot out of the clouds above, and tore into the advancing creatures with its assault cannon and bolter armament. Worse, for the foes of the Imperium, the flyer landed and from its hold jumped ten Death Company marines. Bellowing incoherently, the crazed warriors leapt into the heart of the Tyranid swarm. Soon, they became a tiny spec in a sea of claws and carapace armor. With every swing of their chainswords, the death company and assault marines claimed lives. Yet even their impressive might could not weather the storm for long. One by one, death company marines were dragged down by the press of Tyranid bodies. The Blood Angels assault marines fared better, but even they would not last forever.

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Cadre Fireblade O’shui was greatly troubled by the arrival of the Blood Angels. The promising flanking maneuver had been halted entirely. Even though the reinforcements were thinning out, the slowed momentum meant that the Tyranid swarm suffered terrible losses from the Ultramarine firepower. Events could not be allowed to progress in this manner, or the battle would be lost. The Fireblade ordered his fire warrior squad and the Riptide Battlesuit to bring their armament to bear against the Blood Angels. This seemed to prove effective, as a number of marines were slain by the Tau’s weapons. Meanwhile, a second fire warrior squad unleashed their pulse rifles on the Ultramarine positions, but inflicted minimal losses.

In response, the Ultramarines launched a hail of frag missiles at their assailants. Against all odds, the fire warrior squad survived this onslaught, but O’shui was forced to order them to retreat from the field, lest they be destroyed utterly. The Fireblade accessed the psi-emitter’s controls once more, to begin the encryption process. Under his mission parameters, it was imperative that the experiment’s data be safeguarded and transmitted to his superiors. When encryption was at 50%, yet another enemy drop-pod fell on the field. Unlike those that had arrived earlier, it boldly landed between the Tau lines and what remained of the Tyranid experiment. Out came the most impressive Space Marines that the Cadre Fireblade had ever seen. Their ornate armor was inlaid with gold sigils and their weapons glowed with crackling blue fire.

These warriors marched purposefully towards the Tau lines. One amongst them stood out above all the others. His livery was even more extravagant, and the great deference given to him by his companions left no doubt in The O’shui’s mind, that this was the commander of the Ultramarine forces. Acting on instinct, the remaining Tyranids converged on this new threat. A small pack of hormagaunts was nearest and pounced on the newcomers. The Cadre Fireblade was not surprised to see how easily these creatures were dispatched. The Ultramrine leader fixed his gaze upon O’shui, and began to march in his direction. Encryption had reached 75%.

When the Ultramrine command squad was only paces away from the Cadre Fireblade’s position, every remaining Tyranid rushed to intercept him. So many were the creatures, that O’shui could no longer see the Marines. Hopefully, the experiment would survive long enough for the psi-emitter’s encryption process to be completed, so that the Tau forces could withdraw. But it would not come to pass. Even the impressive numbers of hormagaunts proved meaningless to the Space Marine power blades. By the time encryption reached 90%, Cadre Fireblade O’shui knew there could be no retreat.
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Captain Titus parried claw thrusts and dodged countless snapping maws with expert precision. His weapons brought death to every hated Tyranid they touched. Titus had fought in the great Tyranic war, and his muscles remembered well how to best this foe. “For Ultramar!” he bellowed, as the last wave of hormagaunts crashed onto his honour guard. The ground was awash with the vile ichor of dismembered Tyranids, their lifeless shells piled high. Atop this grisly mound, the Ultramarines formed an impenetrable ring of power-enhanced steel. Despite being vastly outnumbered, only two honour guard had fallen by the time every last Tyranid lay dead.

This enemy defeated, the Ultramarine Captain turned his attention to the Tau leader. He could not fathom what madness possessed these two Xenos forces to fight together, and it mattered not. “To me my brothers” he called. “Let us slay this xenos filth!” Together, Captain Titus and his honour guard charged into the Tau warriors. Titus felt only contempt as they lifted their puny weapons to overwatch against his righteous advance. Unsurprisingly, their weak energy blasts had no power to damage Astartes artificer armor.

Out of habit as well as form, Titus called forth a challenge to the enemy leader, to single combat. But the fight was so swift, that the Ultramarine Captain may as well have been fighting the lowliest Tau foot soldier. In mere seconds was the Tau leader lifeless at Titus’ feet. Meanwhile, his honour guard made short work of the remaining Tau warriors. Only the enormous Tau battlesuit that had attacked the Astrates from afar remained. Clearly dismayed by the Ultramrines’ prowess, the suit’s cowardly pilot engaged his thrusters, and feld the field. The day was won.

“My thanks brother!” Declared Titus, when he saw that Blood Angel Librarian Alfonso was approaching. “It was a honour to do battle by your side, brother” replied the Librarian. In this moment of respite, Alfonso told Titus of his mission to slay the ork warlord “Kap’n Klaw.” He spoke also of how he had dispatched half of his strike force to his believed location. However, the Librarian had heard no news since he parted ways with them, and could not fathom why.

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