Planetfall: Part 3

Holographic displays recreated the last moments of the battle between the Ultramarines and the Tau. Warlock Sereth watched distastefully as the Tau leader attempted to transmit the data that his infernal device had acquired. “These methods are barbaric! The device must be destroyed.” He said, unequivocally. Hidden in the webway; a realm between the warp and the materium, the elegant Ulthwé warship Asredil was invisible to the belligerents upon the nearby world of Tarandros. Within the vessel’s meditation chamber, a heated debate was underway.

“They are a young race, Sereth. They do not fully comprehend what it is that they meddle with.” Farseer Erethentil retorted. The warlock was not dissuaded “even so, it is our duty to protect the younger races from their own folly. These manipulations can only serve to draw the attention of the Hive Mind” Sereth insisted. “Can we risk open war with the Tau? Has it not been seen that they are our best hope for survival?” asked Warlock Lenea. Having remained silent thus far, Farseer Aramel answered “the Seer Council of Ulthwé has indeed determined that the Eldar must align themselves with the Tau Empire. Only together can we hope to stand against the dark powers. However, this does not mean that we can allow their youthful curiosity to drive them along a familiar, ruinous path.”

Erethentil nodded in agreement “fortunately, the Ultramarine Captain prevented the Tau leader from transmitting the emitter’s collected data” he said. “But it was not destroyed!” complained Warlock Sereth. “The mon-keigh fools did not even notice that it existed. They slew all without bothering to discover why the Tyranid creatures could fall under another’s control!” he continued. “Surely those that wrought this device will seek to recover it.” Aramel sighed before responding “sadly, that is the way of the Astartes. They live only for war, much like the Exarchs of our race. Little interests them beyond battle and defending their empire.” Sereth scoffed “what empire? their power has no serious opposition in this galaxy and yet they can barely hold their crumbling government together! What are these mon-keigh defending? They have no culture to speak of, except for their fanatical devotion to their corpse emperor!”

“You go too far Warlock!” Aramel said sternly. “The Crippled King does more for the war against Chaos than you can possibly imagine! You have walked the path of the Seer for only a brief while. If you cannot participate in our councils civilly, then perhaps you walk the wrong path.” He added. Cowed, the young warlock apologized “I am sorry, Farseer Aramel, I spoke without thinking. I allowed my passions to overcome my sense.” Aramel nodded. “Our emotions can serve us well, but there is a time and a place for each of them. It is well that you recognize this” he said. “We should influence events against the recovery of this device if possible. But open conflict with the Tau should be avoided” voiced Erethentil, eager to return the discussion to the topic at hand. “Agreed” the other Seers said, unanimously.

Suddenly, the mind of every Seer present was touched by another’s. It was Farseer Ithiniael, communicating telepathically from his diplomatic quarters aboard the Tau flagship in high orbit above Darkstar Sept. “It is I, Farseer Ithiniael. May I address this Council?” he asked. Though everyone knew his identity, decorum demanded that the ritual words be spoken. Every mind within the meditation chamber consented to Ithiniael’s intrusion. “I have spoken to Commander Darkstar’s Ethereal, Aun’ro” the Farseer mind-spoke. His message was conveyed not just in words, but also in emotion and images of his summit with the Tau leadership. “It would seem that the Tau’s sensors have detected the approach of the Alpha Legion, and recognize this threat. We have been granted permission to enter the Tau Empire’s sovereign soil of Tarandros, and are invited to joint-operations with Tau forces to expel the forces of Chaos. However, Aun’ro expressed great dismay at the uninvited arrival of Imperium forces to this system. Particularly given that the Imperium’s ‘reclamation fleet’ far exceeds their colonization armada. The Tau respectfully request our aid in expelling the Imperium interlopers. In spite of this, he made no mention of the open hostilities between the Tau and Adeptus Astartes.”

The gathered Eldar psykers were not surprised to learn this. The new Tau weapon, that allowed limited control over Tyranid forces, was obviously a closely held secret. The Tau would not risk revealing its existence, even to would-be allies. Quite familiar with intrigue, the Eldar had no intention of pressing the matter. “Is it wise to antagonize the mon-keigh by joining forces with the Tau against them?” Lenea asked with her mind. “We have already examined the skein thoroughly. All favorable futures require collaboration with the Tau” mind-spoke Erethentil. “The Tau Commander Boldstrike is tasked with securing an abandoned industrial sector” added Aramel. “Unbeknownst to him, the Imperium forces count with the support of the Dark Angels. Without our aid, he is doomed to fail. Under cover of darkness, we can descend upon the humans and disrupt their communications. Their leaders will believe that only the Tau were responsible for their demise” the Farseer continued.

“Farseer Aramel and I will lead the strike force. Warlocks Lenea, Sereth and Naril will join us. Farseer Ithiniael will remain with the Tau” mind-spoke Erethentil. Psychically, the gathered Council expressed its unanimous agreement. The Eldar seers aboard the Asredil felt Ithiniael’s mind depart. “What of Farseer Maceil?” asked Lenea. The two Farseers looked uncertain. A force of Eldar from Craftworld Windu had made contact with them as soon as they had reached the Sorathian webway network. It was they that had warned the Ulthwé Seers of the approach of Chaos to Tarandros. Maceil had led his own strike force to the planet surface, but none aboard the Asredil had heard from him again. The skein was strangely clouded to all inquiries into the Farseer’s fate. “For now, knowledge of our kin’s whereabouts is beyond us. We must hope that he is well, and focus on the task at hand. Fate will no doubt reveal the truth, in time” said Aramel. With that, the Coucil session was adjourned, and the Seers destined to do battle went to don their arms and armor.

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The Imperial Guard 678th Cadian Armored division had been ordered to reclaim Tarandros’ industrial sector in the name of the Emperor. Their landing transports had reached the planet surface soon after the Ultramarine spearhead pierced the ork horde. They spent the remainder of the day mopping up the rag-tag bands of savages that had taken up residence in the ruins of an ancient Manufactorum. As the sun set, enormous abandoned cranes cast long shadows on the Guardsmen below.

A portion of the division was ordered to patrol the perimeter. This force consisted of two Hellhounds, two Chimera transports filled with veteran Guardsmen, a squadron of two Flakk tanks and a squadron of two Lehman Russ battle tanks. They were joined by Adeptus Astartes of the Dark Angel chapter. None of the Guardsmen had been notified of their arrival, they had simply appeared, seemingly intent on joining the patrol. This made Guardsman Yorik nervous. He had heard tales of the mysterious Dark Angels. It was said that they always follow their own agenda and are utterly ruthless in the service of the Emperor. But they would not travel all this way just to kill orks. Something more must be afoot and the possibilities gave Yorik chills.

The Guardsman’s musings were interrupted by a loud explosion. He peered out of one of his Chimera’s firing grate and saw that something had turned the nearest Hellhound into a smoldering ruin. The vehicle burned brightly in the night, but there was no sign of the attacker. On instinct, the Cadian forces fired their considerable armament in the direction they believed that the enemy shot had come from. Yorik’s world shook as his transport’s gunner opened fire with his multi-laser armament. At least some of the shots struck home, for the Chimera’s search lights zeroed in on the target. The illuminating beams revealed the hull of a black-painted skimmer, of unmistakably Eldar design. The Lehman Russ behemoths lumbered onwards, unleashing their battle cannons upon the revealed enemy vehicle. But the skimmer was moving too fast for the Imperial gunners, and the shots went wide. Eldar walkers revealed themselves with a torrent of laser fire. They pelted the advancing Dark Angel bikers with their scattered beams of light, before racing back into the gloom, out of reach of Imperial guns. To his horror, Yorik saw that five mighty Astartes bikers fell to this barrage.

The Chimera’s vox exploded with a stream of curses. “Hammerhead sighted…bring it down boys!” someone shouted authoritatively, probably the battle psyker that Commissar Nemo had left in charge. “Call for air support!” someone transmitted. “Outbound communications are down. Can’t reach Command” another replied. From his vantage point, Yorik could not make out the Tau forces, but he did hear the unmistakeable rumble of a heavy rail gun. Tau weaponry featured heavily in guardsman training-vids. Its first shot smashed into the front armor of a Lehman Russ, but its adamantium plates held strong. The other Chimera was not so fortunate and was wrecked by the Tau battle tank’s next volley. Yorik could see a triad of the infamous Crisis suits rise from the rubble using their jet packs. From the air, they sent streams of missiles and plasma fire into the Astartes bikers, only to disappear into the ruins to reload.

From the frantic vox communications, Yorik learned that the second Hellhound had moved up the right flank and begun to roast the Xenos hiding in the ruins. The painful screech of metal brought the guardsman’s attention back to the battle nearby. One Lehman Russ had finally succumbed to the Tau and Eldar combined firepower. Unexpectedly, bright bursts of light lanced into the Dark Angels’ land speeder from above. This was followed by a barely perceptible stream of projectiles. This proved too much for the vehicle and it was torn asunder, violently forcing the Astartes pilots out of their seats and throwing them several yards away from their destroyed land speeder. Clearly these shots had come from a flyer, but if it had made any noise during its arrival, Yorik had not heard it. The Flakk tank squadron immediately opened fire. Looking up through the Chimera’s top hatch, the Yorik finally saw the enemy flyer. Its hull was black, just as the skimmer that he had seen earlier. It made impossible maneuvers as it tried to jink out of the torrent of Flakk fire. But the Cadian anti-air tanks were unrelenting and eventually struck home. Bright sparks erupted from the flyer’s fuselage and one of its wings began to trail smoke. Although the flyer was not destroyed, it turned and flew out of the combat zone.

The guardsman had no time to celebrate this small victory. Another Eldar skimmer began to move towards his Chimera at impossible speed. His gunner fired at it with all available weapons, to no avail. The next thing Yorik knew, the Eldar vehicle was right next to him. Enemy artillery hidden in a ruined building fired directly at him. The weapons emitted arcane waves of supersonic sound. When these hit the Chimera’s hull, the entire vehicle began to vibrate uncontrollably. Within moments, the chassis was ripped apart, and the passengers were forced to disembark. Yorik and his fellow guardsmen climbed out of the wreckage, only to be greeted by a volley of laser fire. The guardsmen were cut down where they stood, until only four members of their squad remained. Seeing that the left flank was crumbling, their Sergeant ordered them to fall back. As Yorik scrambled to follow the remnants of his squad, he was struck in the back by a laser blast. Immediately he felt his body paralyze, and then his world went black.

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Aramel’s wave serpent glided to a halt just past the destroyed human vehicle. The attack was proceeding just as he had foreseen. Several Tau had fallen but, so far, no Eldar lives had been lost. Throughout the battle, Farseer Erethentil had guided the war-walker squadron, allowing them to perform their vital role of neutralizing the Dark Angels. He also used his powers of prescience to direct the guardians controlling the unit of Vibrocannon artillery that he had joined. Thanks to his guidance, the support battery was able to destroy several of the human vehicles. By now, only a handful of space marines and their lesser brethren remained. The two remaining vehicles would soon fall to the Tau onslaught. The carnage was unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Once the designated position was reached, the wave serpent’s door opened and the disembarkation ramp descended with a gentle hiss. Aramel’s unit of Storm Guardians drew their weapons and started to move out of the transport. The Farseer walked with them and was joined by warlock Sereth. Before they were able to exit the wave serpent, however, Aramel sensed a disturbance in the warp. A presence had entered realspace earlier this day and only now, that it had been momentarily cast back into the warp, was it forced to reveal itself. By his expression, Sereth had sensed it too. But he knew not the perils that lurk in the warp. Even as Farseer Aramel shouted at him with both mind and voice to stop, the bold warlock gazed through the raw warp at the servant of Tzeench. What he saw, consumed him. The titanic truth of the greater daemon’s presence within the warp was too much for Sereth to bear. His physical body could not withstand the vast psychic pressures that his mind had forced upon it, and he fell, lifeless.

Aramel’s heart was heavy as he gently placed the young warlock’s glowing soul stone in a special container within the transport. Perhaps this fate could have been avoided, but any future becomes uncertain when the changer of ways plays his hand. The Farseer chanted a quiet prayer to Isha, then donned his ghosthelm and joined the Storm Guardians on the planet surface. Wary, he reached into a pouch within his robes and began to cast his wraithbone carved runes and divined the possible futures to come. Using the specially designed ammunition intended for this mission, the warriors of Ulthwé fired their pistols at the last remaining Astartes.

Xxx...Expunged Security-vid Record...xxX

Xxx…Expunged Security-vid Record…xxX

Just as the last one fell, Aramel saw a future where the three fleeing humans nearby opened fire upon his Guardians. He saw over half of his ten-strong squad being consumed by flames. As the moment approached, the Farseer forewarned his squad members. Many jumped out of the flamer’s path before the bearer had even fired. Yet still three Storm Guardians fell, either dead or badly injured by the searing gouts of flame. Whilst the casualties were rushed back onto the wave serpent, the two guardians bearing fusion guns fired at their attackers, vaporizing the three humans in their tracks. All imminent threats having been neutralized, Aramel walked towards the group of Astartes that had fallen in the ruins ahead, located at the furthest edge of the Imperium’s collapsed left flank. The Farseer walked to a specific point in the rubble, and used his telepathic powers to raise the heavy slabs of fallen metal. With an effort of will, he found his buried objective, and wrested it from deep within the ground.

Aramel had unearthed an old human sensor array. It still functioned, as he knew it would, despite the centuries of disuse. He examined the device, but did not tamper with it. He placed it in the middle of a clearing within the ruins. After some time, he was joined by Warlock Lenea and her team of Black Guardians. They were followed by small automated hover-platforms, which carried the Dark Angel bikers, that had all fallen during the battle. With her hand, the Warlock led yet another hover-platform, this one carrying a device very similar to that excavated by Aramel. When she reached the Farseer, Lenea bowed her head and made a gesture of mourning for Sereth’s passing. The Farseer nodded and reciprocated the hand motion. “When will they awaken?” Lenea asked, referring to the ceramite-clad giants. “Fairly soon” replied Aramel, “our war walker’s scatter-lasers were modified to overload their nervous systems. I imagine that they will regain consciousness before day-break” he continued. “As for the toxin used by our Storm Guardians in place of their pistols’ shuriken fuel…It may be as effective. I obtained it from Archon Oberon. He owed me a favor.” Lenea nodded, but she was far from convinced. Their dark cousins made it very difficult for Craftwold Eldar to trust them.

Soon after, Aramel received a telepathic message from Farseer Erethentil. The Tau had been persuaded to relinquish control of the third sensor array. However, they knew nothing of the Space Marines’ survival and assumed that all had perished. Together, the three arrays will provide incontrovertible proof of the Alpha Legion’s presence within the Sorathian System and offer a clear indication of its movements on Tarandros itself. Once the arrays were in place, and the unconscious Astartes carefully deposited on the earth nearby, the protectors of Ulthwé prepared to leave. Before they parted, Lenea asked Aramel “could we not have simply told the shadowy mon-keigh that their quarry was here?” He smiled sadly. Though she could not see this through the Farseer’s helm, his mood was captured in the tone of his reply “alas, this is the only way in which Captain Tomas of the Dark Angels would believe our message. We explored countless futures before deciding on this course, but humans are very distrustful of alien species. This one in particular, would never accept that our warnings rung true. Thus, only the technology of his own people would suffice to guide him.”

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Guardsman Yorik was completely disoriented as he regained consciousness. He rose from the dirt and felt about his uniform for a wound, but did not find any. Though he distinctly remembered being struck in the back, he had somehow survived the same lethal weapon that had annihilated the mighty Adeptus Astartes bike squad. Yorik looked about, searching for friend and foe. Of the enemy, there was no sign. In the distance he heard the moaning of wounded Guardsmen. Occasionally Yorik would hear orders being barked, though he could not make out the words. It was probably that psyker again. All else was eerie quiet. As he searched his surroundings, he was very surprised to see a sizable contingent of Dark Angels congregating within the closest ruined building. These reinforcements must have routed the Xenos scum, the Guardsman reasoned. Carefully making his way through the rubble, Yorik moved in their direction.

When he was only a short distance away, Yorik could see three ancient machines placed in a semi-circle within the ruins. Standing before it, a Space Marine with finely decorated armor held a tiny disc-like object in his armored left hand. Yorik imagined that this must be the Dark Angel Captain. Before the Guardsman’s eyes, a holographic image projected itself from the strange device. It appeared to be a recording of some sort. It displayed a thin,robed, figure that began to speak. “Greetings Captain Tomas. I am Farseer Aramel of Craftworld Ulthwé.” The Eldar spoke Imperium basic with a strange accent. The words were clear and precise, but the inflection sounded forced and bizarre.

“Apologies for the subterfuge” the Eldar continued “it was the only way that we could retrieve these devices. Without them, you would not heed our warnings. Those you hunt are here. Know that they are our enemy also, and that we mean you no harm.” When the message ended, Captain Tomas crushed the projecting device in his fist. “Surely we cannot trust the Xenos scum?!” Blurted out Guardsman Yorik. The nearest Space Marine walked towards him, until he towered above Yorik. “Identify yourself Guardsman” he commanded. “Yes my lord!” Yorik exclaimed as he saluted. He then proceeded to stammer his name, rank and serial number. The super-human colossus nodded in acknowledgement “very well, Guardsman, you have served the Emperor well. Return to your unit” he commanded. “Yes my lord!” Yorik replied and went to rejoin the other Imperial Guard survivors. He had only taken a few steps when he heard shots fired nearby. He turned to see what was happening, only to come face to face with the Dark Angel’s bolt-pistol. Before he could say anything, the Astartes pulled the trigger.

Elsewhere, Chaos Lord Croxius lurked in the shadows, mounted upon his colossal warbike. The rest of his squad waited patiently behind him. In the distance, two Rhinos painted in Ultramarine colors rumbled toward an Imperial Guard checkpoint. The fools stood between Croxius and his goal. His misguided Astartes brothers had come seeking ancient gene-seed, to create more drones to serve the false emperor. “But they would not have it!” Croxius thought. The hated loyalist marines had hoarded his birthright for far too long. He would liberate the gene-seed and at long last the Legion would be allowed to grow, and engulf all of the Gods’ enemies. For this, he would be richly rewarded.

As soon as the Rhino transports came within sight of the Guardsmen, they were illuminated by several search lights. A vox-projector came to life with a loud burst of static “My lords!” exclaimed a nervous sounding Guardsman, “your Captain Titus has instructed us to ensure that none pass this point. We knew not to expect any Astartes from outside the perimeter” he continued. “Kindly speak the words of passage, and we shall hinder you no further” the Guardsman explained. Both transports activated their dirge casters. “For the Emperor!” twenty baritone voices shouted at the top of their genetically enhanced lungs. “Ah…indeed” replied the Guardsman, “but those are not quite the established words…if you…” At that point, the Rhinos accelerated to full speed and started to race towards the Imperial Guard lines. At the same time, their dirge casters began emitting a continuous stream of inhuman wailing and other disturbing, incomprehensible sounds.

Lord Croxius smiled wickedly as realization dawned upon the hapless humans. Thanks to the daemonic gifts that enhanced his already considerable Astartes physiology, he could hear the Guardsmen’s cries of terror. “Traitor marines!” Many of them shouted in shrill voices. The dirge casters’ symphonies were doing their work. The Imperial Guard scrambled to fire their guns at the advancing Rhinos, but it was too late. The chaos lord and his bikers revved their engines into a deafening roar and crashed onto the open cityscape, bellowing war cries and brandishing their cruel, daemon-morphed weapons. A pair of obliterators manifested out of the raw warp and unleashed powerful bolts of las-cannon fire upon the nearest enemy vehicle. The destructive beams burned deep holes into the Guardsman tank, turning it into a useless wreck.

As the chaos bikers rampaged across the battlefield, the Imperial Guard focused their firepower upon them. Two of their number were eventually shot off of their saddle, but Chroxius cared not. He hungered for carnage. Finally he reached the enemy’s lines and charged into the ranks of Guardsman infantry. They posed no real threat to the mighty chaos lord and he reveled in their slaughter. A demonic howl form above signaled a Helldrake’s arrival. It descended upon the puny mortals and bathed them in the glorious flames of Chaos. Meanwhile, the Alpha Legion warriors had jumped out of their camouflaged Rhinos. Together with the obliterators’ heavy weapons, they lay waste to the Guardsman infantry and armor.

Croxius gloried in his impending victory. The surprise of his attack had been complete, and the servants of the false emperor were being swept away like wheat before the scythe. The chaos lord was so consumed with thoughts of his inevitable ascension, that he failed to notice that the weight of Guardsman firepower was taking its toll on his squad. By the time he finished butchering a squad of guardsmen with his chain-sword, he found himself alone. It mattered not. He had been chosen by the Gods. Croxius knew with absolute certainty that no mortal weapon could harm him. He revved his bike’s engines once more and charged headlong into the last remaining squad of Guardsmen.

Hundreds of lasgun beams rained upon him. Croxius laughed at these pathetic attempts to slay him and accelerated. When he was almost face to face with this fresh enemy, the chaos lord sought to raise his chain-sword above his head. Inexplicably, his mighty muscles refused to comply. With all of his will, Croxius commanded his limb to move, but it would not budge. “What trickery is this?!” He wanted to bellow, but found that he had no voice. Unable to control his bike, Croxius was powerless to prevent his deviation into a pile of rubble. He crashed into it and was violently thrown off of his saddle. As he lied on his back, unable to move, the chaos lord realized that he was dying. Enslaved by his own bloodlust and thirst for power, Croxius had led his squad, alone, into the heart of the enemy forces. Heedless to his grievous wounds, he had fought on. Now, Croxius’ broken body was damaged far beyond its ability to heal. In his mind, the chaos lord howled in rage. But soon, his life-force was utterly spent. Somewhere within the warp, a Greater Daemon of Tzeench roared with laughter.

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Captain Tomas witnessed the complete annihilation of the Imperial Guard’s forces at the hands of the Alpha Legion. With his bike squad, Tomas had used the data retrieved from the sensor arrays to locate the Fallen. Having seen them with his own eyes, the Dark Angel was forced to accept that the Xenos had spoken truthfully, at least in part. He turned to one of his squad members and said “Librarian Darwyn must know of this. Inform him that our quarry has been found.” The marine nodded “it shall be done my captain. Also, Commissar Nemo wishes to know what befell the forces stationed at the abandoned manufactorum.” The Captain replied immediately “tell him that there were no survivors. The Tau slew all before we could intervene.”

Chapter 1: Rising Tide

An ugly planet, an ORK planet!

An ugly planet, an ORK planet!

A great noise startled Zug. The ork had never heard such a sound and looked around in confusion. The scarred earth around him showed no signs of disturbance. The noise came a second time, exploding in the feral ork’s ears. This time Zug distinctly sensed that the unfamiliar commotion came from above, which was odd, because nothing came from above. Except for tasty birds, now and then. The ork looked up and was amazed by what he saw.

A great, shiny, yellow rock was plunging towards him, with a great black plume of smoke trailing behind it. Too mesmerized to do anything, Zug just stood there as the object plummeted to the ground at incredible speed. Impossibly, it slowed only a few tree lengths from the ground and smashed against the ground with a heavy thud only a short distance from where the ork stood. Sensing that this rock might somehow be important, Zug raced towards it. Mebbe diz rock make gud chopaz! The ork thought to himself. Boss wud be soo pleazed!

When he reached the shimmering object, Zug stopped at arm’s length from its strange surface. As he looked, Zug was alarmed by the sight of another ork staring back at him from the rock. “Oi!” he bellowed, “wot ya doin in dat rock?” Zug demanded. The strange ork made no sound, but opened his mouth and waved his arms menacingly, so Zug swung his club and smashed it right into the other ork’s face. The weapon shattered on impact. The other ork seemed unharmed, but looked extremely puzzled. Suddenly a hissing sound emanated from the shiny rock in front of Zug. Before he had time to react, a large sliver of the object came crashing down on top of the feral ork.

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Cap’n Klaw raised a single orky eyebrow. The gangplank had just said Oww. It didn’t usually do that. Must be the mek messing with him. Klaw would bash his funny head in later. With a happy roar, the ork pirate jumped onto the surface of Tarandros. His boyz followed eagerly, stomping noisily down the gangplank. But the steel slab used by the ork pirates as an entrance ramp kept making strange whimpering noises.

“Right, I’ve bout had enuf o dis!” shouted Cap’n Klaw, and trudged over to the gangplank. The giant ork shoved a pair of boyz that were standing on the plank out-of-the-way and lifted the metal with a grunt of effort. Beneath, he found the bruised shape of a mostly naked ork. With his Dakka hand, Klaw grasped the poor sod by the neck and lifted him up to the Cap’n enormous head. “Oi!” Klaw roared, shaking the ork “are you alive?” he demanded. His chest no longer crushed by hundreds of pounds of ork and metal, Zug was able to breathe again, somewhat. He coughed and sputtered, slowly regaining consciousness.

When Zug finally opened his eyes, he was face to face with the biggest, meanest looking ork that he had ever seen. In vain he tried to struggle and free himself. Red beady eyes peered at him intensely, completely unnerving the feral ork. Cap’n Klaw inspected the wretch from head to toe, and recognized the brute for what he was. He dumped Zug on the ground, but threatened him with his massive power klaw, to make sure he would not run off. “Me name’s Cap’n Klaw! Me an me space boyz iz startin a grand propa Waaaaagggghhh! I came ere to gather up any real orks wot wants a gud fight! Where iz your boss?” the pirate shouted. “Ugghh…Err…youze da boss…Boss.” Zug replied nervously.

The orky pirate captain roared with laughter and slapped his newest boy on the back, propelling him head first into the dirt. “Aye! Good answer, you lot, find dis boy a choppa an a dakka gun! Wez got lots of work ta do.”

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To the human mind, the warp is only a place of madness and unreality. A realm of chaos, to be avoided at all costs. The Eldar, however, are bound to the warp in manner unlike any other known race, and remember a time before the dark pantheon dominated the immaterium. For the Eldar, the warp is still the realm of infinite possibilities and source to most of their technology. Contrary to the belief of many, the warp and the materium are not realms apart. They flow in symbiotic concert with each-other. The places where the two meet, are known to the Eldar as the skeins of fate.

Aboard his sleek scout ship Asredil, Farseer Aramel opened his mind to the skein. Using wraithbone runes to guide him, the Eldar seer sifted through the myriad possibilities that the immediate future offered. The balance of probability confirmed that the events transpiring on the world of Tarandros within the coming cycles would have a decisive impact on the future. Aramel saw images of an Ork Warboss, with millions of his savage brethren flocking to his banner. He saw also the blazing symbol of the Mon Keigh Ultramrines, plunging into the heart of this growing green tide.

But these things were easily discernible using his vessel’s instruments. The Farseer delved deeper and saw the point of flux; a decision made that could lead to radically different futures. Where the armies of many races fought, the choices of one would determine the fate of all. Aramel had seen this many times, during his voyage through the webway from Craftworld Ulthwé, yet he could still not be certain of what act would forge the most favorable future.

As time advanced towards the point of flux, the skein would become clearer, and Aramel trusted that it would reveal the path that he must take. The Farseer allowed his mind to return to his body, and opened his eyes to Asredil’s crystal meditation chamber. He was not alone. Farseer Erethentil and several warlocks had added the strength of their minds to empower his visions. “The time for action approaches” said Erethentil. Aramel nodded, and rose to prepare his Black Guardians of Ulthwé for battle.

Chapter 1: Echoes

Battle Barge Andronicus

Brother Flavius confirmed the acolyte’s readings. The signal was faint, but a Great Crusade era Ultramarines distress beacon signature was clearly distinguishable from the background radiation picked up by the Andronicus’ sensors. “Brother Captain Titus must be informed immediately” stated Flavius and purposely made his way to the bridge.

Upon entering the Sorathian system, Captain Titus had wasted no time in setting a course for the desolated world of Omega-Epsilon. This had been the site of the major engagement, during the Horus Heresy, that his Chapter master had spoken of. Such was the fury of the onslaught, as brother fought brother, that thirty thousand years later the planet surface was still awash with toxic radiation: remnants of the apocalyptic munitions detonated in millennia past.

So dense were the echoes of that ancient Fallout, that the ships’ instruments had been unable to obtain any telling readings. Any answers would have to be gathered by ground forces. As the space marine captain contemplated his options, Brother Flavius emerged from an access corridor to address him. “Captain, I have overseen the sensor sweep of the planet’s moon as ordered.” Titus nodded for the marine to continue “the surface appears not to bear the same scars of combat borne by Omega-Epsilon. Though the radiation from the planet is strong, we were able to conduct a successful survey of the moon’s topography. Also, Captain, we have detected an ancient Ultramarine signal from quadrant 4.”

The marine then presented Titus with his findings. “This is well done Brother” the Ultramarine Captain said. “I see by the surrounding terrain and the weakness of the signal, that it must be beneath the surface. Perhaps, within, lies an installation founded by our forebears. If the Emperor wills it, we may yet find precious gene seed that has survived after all of these long years. Rouse Brother Marcus with all haste, bid him muster strike force Alpha, whom I shall lead personally!” Flavius inclined his head and replied “it shall be done at once Brother Captain,” and went forth to fulfill his duty.

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The opening to the complex was pitch black. It mattered not. What little remained hidden from the Astartes’ enhanced vision was revealed by their helms’ advanced lenses. The Ultramarines proceeded cautiously into the derelict structure. Brother Captain Titus held the center, while Brothers Marcus, Cassius and Flavius took point. Fully ten of the Emperor’s finest advanced boldly, with their Captain, into the earth. They were preceded by an armored behemoth: A Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought. Entombed within its mighty adamantium plates was revered Brother Augustus.

With the experience of centuries, the Contemptor smashed its impressive bulk into the the darkness. The entrance was broad and thus Augustus had no difficulty as he proceeded towards his objective. Titus and his marines followed only paces away. It was immediately clear that this had once been a barracks of the Ultramarines, a temporary staging point in preparation for deployment to the war-zones upon the planet below. The first chamber they were greeted with was small and empty, with only a narrow stairwell leading downwards. There were no other passageways in sight.

Without needing to receive any command, Brother Augustus brought his Assault cannons to bear and opened fire at the surface beneath his feet. What ensued was a brutal cacophony of screeching metal and the pervasive whine of the Contemptor’s weaponry. When Augustus’ cannon’s became silent once more, he stood in the middle of a perfect circle, carved into the steel flooring. With a mighty stomp, the Dreadnought overburdened what few threads of metal survived his onslaught, and plummeted onto the level below.

Silently, the Astrates moved single file down the stairwell to rejoin their Brother. Once they did so, Captain Titus found that Augustus had landed in a large open space, which must once have housed the base Armory. However, only one pathway was large enough for the Contemptor to pass. Titus divided his marines in two teams, leading one towards Augustus, as he ordered Brother Marcus to lead the second to explore the corridors to the south of their position. Before the teams separated, Titus gave them their orders. “My brothers, we are gathered here this day to give our fallen brethren the peace in death that they could not allow themselves in life. Seek out any that may have fallen and reclaim their gene seed that they may rejoin the Chapter!”

The squads separated and moved out to execute their designated sector sweeps, alert to any dangers that may lurk in the darkness. Sergeant Marcus led his four Ultramarine companions down a corridor to the south. As they turned a corner they came across a fallen Astartes warrior, wearing Mk II battle plate, adorned with the livery of the Legion of Ultramar. After taking a moment to pay their respects to their fallen comrade, Brother Marcus knelt and examined the corpse. Remarkably, the ancient power armor had repaired itself and preserved the body to this day. Not much remained, but Marcus was able to extract enough gene seed to fill the specially designed container he had brought.

Meanwhile Captain Titus had found the source of the signal that had been detected from orbit. In an alcove within the large chamber, an Ultramarine Legionary Tech-priest had fallen. Seemingly he had activated the beacon with his dying breath. The significance of this last act was unknown to Brother Titus, but at the very least it had allowed for the re-discovery of this place. Titus retrieved the Tech-marine’s gene-seed and deactivated the ancient beacon. As he did so, his enhanced instincts began to scream that something was amiss.

Brother Severus was first to make contact with the enemy. He had stood guard as Marcus completed his task, when he sensed movement in the corner of his eye. He readied his bolter and waited. Suddenly, lithe shapes peeled from the shadows and began moving towards the marines at great speed. With a shout, Severus called for a volley and his fellow marines were quick to answer.

Bolter fire filled the narrow corridor, felling several of the unknown attackers. Brother Maximus took up his flamer and released its fuel. In a blazing plume of cleansing fire, the Ultramarines’ attackers were revealed for what they were: Mandrakes. In these tight quarters the flames created a nigh-impenetrable wall of death. Yet the foe seemed unconcerned with its losses and charged into Marcus’ squad with wild abandon. So furious was the attack, that two space marines fell to the fiends’ cruel blades.

But the marines’ precise reactionary fire had been flawless and only three of the enemy’s number remained. These were quickly dispatched. Victorious, Brother Sergeant Marcus led his squad to the main chamber. Responding immediately to the enemy presence, Captain Titus ordered strike force Alpha to gather and fortify their position. Even as they complied, Marcus’ marines were beset again. This time by crazed Dark Eldar wyches, who darted at them. Two were claimed by righteous bolter shots and gouts of flame. But three reached the Ultramarines. In the swirling melee, another Astartes was slain. Marcus and his surviving brother were unable to harm the wretches, so fast were their movements.

As this happened, a squad of Kabalite warriors sprung into the main chamber from a side entrance. With preternatural speed they fired volley after volley of poisoned splinters at Titus and his marines. Hundreds of these projectiles peppered the Emperor’s warriors, but the foul shards found no purchase, for the Astartes armor was too resplendent. True to its name, the Dreadnought turned to face these puny attackers and unleashed its devastating hail of fire, bellowing “Purge the alien!” None survived. Confident that Augustus would guard them against enemy attack from the rear, Captain Titus led his squad towards Sergeant Marcus. No matter how fast they may be, the sheer bulk of the charging Ultramarines proved too much for the three surviving wyches. With nowhere to turn, they were strangled by a noose of ceramite.

As Titus looked up from the Dark Eldar corpses, he noted that the enemy leader had finally shown himself. An Archon of Commorragh strode into sight, accompanied by a retinue of four menacing looking armored Eldar. The Captain recognized these beings: Incubi, peerless and deadly warriors, even for an Astartes. Titus would not suffer them to live. “To me my brothers!” he called. Immediately all of the Ultramarines formed as one and took firing positions. Once again, the Dark Eldars’ speed and dexterity proved to be no match to the storm of bolter fire that they were confronted with. Despite their heavy armor, the Incubi were all felled by the righteous barrage.

The Archon, however, emerged unscathed. Hits had been scored against him, but each time a dark field had swallowed the detonating shell as though it were nothing more than a smoke pellet. The Eldar sneered contemptuously and raced directly towards Brother Captain Titus. Wasting no time, the space marine Captain rushed forward to meet the charge. A flurry of vicious blows rained down upon him. They fell with a level of dexterity and skill that Titus could not hope to match. Nor did he need to. He waited patiently as the Archon sought in vain to penetrate his artificer armor, raking at the space marine’s breastplate with his gauntleted agonizer, even as he stabbed at perceived weaknesses in the Captain’s armor with a venom blade in his other hand. There were none. In mere moments Titus saw his opening and smashed the Eldar warlord with his shimmering relic blade. The forceful strike caught the Archon fully in the chest, reducing it to pulp on impact. In a single blow was the foe slain. His Eldritch technology did not save him.

Amidst the tangled ruin of that once haughty Eldar, Titus was surprised to discover a slender tube. On closer inspection, he saw that it unmistakably contained Astartes gene seed. Having seen this also, Brother Flavius could not hide his contempt “perfidious Eldar! does their foul meddling know no end?” he asked. “These are not Eldar of the Craftworlds, Brother, but denizens of the dark city Commorragh. Though there is no place for either in the Emperor’s realm, the presence of these bodes ill for our quest. We must learn what machinations drove them to seek out Astartes gene-seed. Whatever plan fuels this mad scheme must be thwarted.”

It took Titus and his men another hour to scour the complex and become satisfied that no more gene-seed remained. Of the three casualties, two were stabilized and would eventually recover from their wounds. The third, however, had been sliced apart by the wyches’ blades and could not be saved. When the time came to depart, Brother Captain Titus said “Severus, detonate a fusion charge on that bulkhead, that our good Brother Augustus may leave this sorry place.”

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From within the comfort of his pleasure yacht, concealed in a nearby artery of the webway, Archon Oberon-Geren Mackareth ended the visual feed. His invisible probe had followed one of his minions, Archon Naruth, into the ruined Ultramarine complex. Oberon had not expected to find the mon-keigh hulks in this system and certainly did not expect Naruth to be so incompetent as to allow himself to be defeated by them.

As this petty Archon had stood alone, foolishly dueling the Ultramarine captain, Oberon had formulated a new plan. With a faint smile, he had remotely deactivated Naruth’s Shadowfield, using a code that he had keyed into the device when he first “gifted” it to his subordinate. He could not risk any damage to the Ultramarine leader. Now that he knew space marines were in the area, it seemed wasteful not to make use of their services. Oberon signaled one of his Incubi and shortly thereafter, Archon Ivanael was brought before him. The lesser Archon bowed his head towards the leader of the Undivided Blood Kabal.

The gesture was a facade of course. No Archon of Commorragh works for another except for the hope of one day plunging his dagger into the other’s back and usurping his old master’s seat of power. Oberon knew that, and Ivanael knew that. It was the Tyrant’s law, and it was the way of the Eldar. Those of their race that drifted amidst the stars in their wraithbone coffins sought to deny the truth of their own nature. They were fools. Commorragh was the Empire reborn, an unassailable fortress from which countless Dark Eldar raiding parties could strike throughout the galaxy with impunity. In their world, only the strong survived, while the weak were nothing more than chattel, to be used at their betters’ whim.

For the moment, Oberon and Ivanael needed each-other. Their instincts resonated with the knowledge that one day they would come to blows, which created in each of them the desire to strike at the other immediately. Well acquainted with the urge to kill, they repressed the impulse easily. “Archon Oberon, how may I best place my Kabal at your service?” asked Ivanael. Oberon studied the new leader of the Eyes-Bled-Out Kabal with an expressionless face. He knew little about this up-and-coming dark eldar, except that he had been particularly bold in the assassination of his predecessor and largely successful at both cementing his hold over the Kabal and hiding the truth of his origins. Perhaps he was the correct tool with which to implement his new plan.

“I have brought my forces here, Ivanael, because I wish to hunt especially powerful prey.” Archon Oberon said. “I have known for some time that the mon-keigh that call themselves space marines would come to this place. They are the product of primitive genetic manipulation and are thus far more resilient than the verminous masses of ordinary mon-keigh. As such they are of great value as combatants in our city’ arenas.” The Archon continued. “They are few in number and will prove easily captured. However, their vessel is formidable and an assault upon it would prove unnecessarily costly. For this reason I need you to find suitable locations for us to lay in ambush while the fools are on a planet’s surface.”

Archon Ivanael nodded in apparent understanding. As did all successful Archons, Oberon spoke lies with the same tone and sincerity that he spoke truths. Such was his mastery, that the younger Archon could not hope to differentiate between the two. He therefore assumed that nothing he heard was the full truth. “I have learned that the mon-keigh are of the Ultramarines chapter and that they are here in search of meaningless trinkets from their bygone age of glory, to satisfy the cretinous infatuation they have with their corpse-emperor. Find the remnants of ancient Mon-keigh and report your findings to me.” Oberon finished. “Of course Archon Oberon, it shall be done.” Ivanael inclined his head once more and left the audience chamber.

Planetfall: Part 2

As the first newcomers arrived on Tarandros, an enormous dust cloud raced across the south of the planet. Harsh voices could be heard emanating from this cloud; shouting and cheering for no discernible reason. At the head of this cloud, an enormous ork stood on-top of his battle wagon. He wore a black tricorn hat and wielded a great power klaw. A long, black leather jacket billowed behind him. “We’z a gonna cromp some ‘eads, cromp some ‘eads, cromp some eads…” the ork warboss sang at the top of his lungs, gesturing wildly with his klaw. “Kap’n Klaw!” cheered the nearby orks, whether they could hear him or not. Great fights were going on all over the planet, and they were all very excited to reach one.

Without warning, tiny red things started falling from the sky, which seemed very strange to the ork warboss. Only once they hit the ground a short distance away, did he recognize them for what they were. “Space Mahreens!!!” He shouted gleefully, and kicked his driver to make him go faster. The vehicle lurched as the bruised driver shifted into a higher gear, then careened forward at top speed. Seeing this, every other driver in this rag-tag convoy did everything possible to keep up.

Ork Battlewagons

But suddenly, strange beams of focused light erupted from the horizon and crashed into the ork vehicles. A truk was hit directly in the engine and exploded. Behind the Mahreens, the ork warlord could see sleek purple vehicles hovering in his direction, firing their strange weapons at him. “Dat no fair!” shouted the ork leader.

“Dat’s right, no fair at all!” boomed a deep and orky voice. The ork warlord was so surprised, that he almost fell from his wagon. He looked up, and saw an enormous winged ork hovering above him. Everything about this being shouted strength, cunning and toughness. He even shone with a green aura of orkiness. The warlord’s mouth hung wide open as he took in this awe-inspiring sight. He was so dumbfounded that he almost fell off his truck a second time. Eventually, he had the presence of mind to ask “um…wot are ya?” The being roared with laughter. The kind of laughter than one only hears from an ork during the best fight of his life. “I am Gork, puny one! From my orky realm I have seen your Grand Space Waaagh! It is, without doubt, da best Waaagh that I have ever seen!”

Though he was certainly amazed by this revelation, the ork warboss had no doubt in his mind, whatsoever, that before him floated an ork deity. However, he had a very strong suspicion that this entity was actually Mork, but he wisely kept his doubts to himself. “But, dere be one ting dat stands in da way o da best Waaagh evar!” Gork continued. “Da tricksy El’da! Dem pointy eared weaklings hate da orks! Coz dey jealous of how strong and green da ork is, so always dey try to spoil da best fights!” The ork warlord had never hear of these ‘El’da’ creatures, but they sounded like terrible people and nodded vigorously at everything that Gork, but more likely Mork, told him. “But have no fear, dat why I came! I’ll help ya beat da El’da so dat you can has fight wif da Space Mahreens! Now, I’ll be summonin some friends to help in da fight. Dey be ork spirits o da best orks to ‘ave died in da best ‘o fights!”

With a strong and orky flourish, Gork waved his his arms, and several large green clouds appeared throughout the battlefield. Fifteen great green hounds materialized out of the nearest cloud. In the distance, six orks riding strange wavy creatures exploded out of a second cloud. To the right, fifteen strange orks sauntered out of a third cloud. They looked just like ordinary orks, wielding two choppas, but they were slightly thinner and had two weird lumpy-things on their chests. The ork warlord was amazed and overjoyed that such beings would fight by his side. As his Battlewagon continued to speed along, Gork spoke to him one final time “now, just tell ya boyz dat dese ere ork spirits iz gonna fight wif us!” With that, he floated high into the sky and began to fire great green bolts of orky power at the enemy.

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Aboard his Stormraven transport, it did not take long for Blood Angels Chaplain Malkor to realize that something was very wrong. The once-clear desert skies of Tarandros had turned overcast without warning. Soon, unnatural lightning, with no thunder, erupted all around him. The Astartes pilot fought valiantly with his controls, and succeeded in evading the ravages of this impossible storm. On the ground below, Malkor watched as vile daemonspawn materialized near the advancing ork vehicles and began to move towards the four Blood Angel assault marine squads that awaited him. Only now did the Chaplain understand. This was not a tempest of this world. He had flown into a warp storm. He attempted to contact Librarian Alfonso, or their strike cruiser in orbit, but the storm made all communication impossible. In this fight, the Blood Angels stood alone.

On the ground below, the brave Blood Angels prepared themselves to meet the combined ork and daemonic forces. Survival seemed an impossible goal, but they were each of them prepared to sell their lives dearly. “For Sanguinius, for the Emperor!” They shouted, as one. Fifteen enraged hounds of Khorne had materialized right next to the left-most assault squad and began to gallop towards the five Astartes. When they were only steps away from their prey, they were assailed by a hail of missiles. First, a storm of laser fire burned into them from three different directions. Next, thousands of mono-molecular discs sliced through them at hypervelocity. Many hounds fell to this onslaught. Heartened by the beasts’ thinned numbers, the five assault marines boldly charged into the daemonic dogs, firing their pistols as they went.

Four purple Eldar skimmers had joined the battle, firing their shuriken and laser weapons at the ork vehicles and daemons alike. Four of the six screamers were brought low, whilst a number of daemonettes were sent howling back to the warp from whence they came. The Eldar firepower also brought ruin to all of the ork transports but one; Kap’n Klaw’s Battlewagon. Three smaller, faster Eldar vehicles sped along the right flank, showering the orks with monomolecular death. Deep within the right flank, twenty Eldar warriors guarded two robed figures. To the eyes of the Blood Angel assault marines, these were clearly psykers. One was evidently senior, as his rune armor seemed more elaborate to the enhanced Astartes vision. They reasoned that he must be one of the famed “Farseers.”

Apparently the Eldar were just as susceptible to the depredations of chaos as humans for, without warning, the lesser psyker began to shriek in pain. His body began to spasm uncontrollably and started to twist and contort, until the Eldar’s physique transformed into the hideous form of a Herald of Tzeench. Enraged, the daemon fired a bolt of psychic energy at the nearest skimmer, inflicting noticeable structural damage, before being cut down by his former-companions’ shuriken weapons.

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The ork warlord was getting very upset at the El’da. They were shooting up all of his boyz’ truks and wagons, slowing them down and stopping them from getting into the fight. Not his Battlewagon of course. Not only did it have red paint, but it had obviously been blessed by Gork, or possibly Mork, so was now fast AND indestructible. Soon they pesky El’da would be dead, and the ork warlord and his boyz could get back to fighting the Blood Angels. This thought reminded him about the Space Marines, who were now in dakka range. “Light em up boyz!” He shouted.

Every ork with dakka, which was all of them, opened fire. However, for lack of good aim, the disorientation of having one’s truk blown up from under one’s feet, or more El’da trickery, not a single Marine died to the, otherwise impressive, fusillade. “Dat was pathetic boyz! ‘Ere, lemme show yaz how tis done!” The ork warboss aimed his twin-linked big shoota and fired at the nearest Blood Angel, killing him instantly. Every ork was very impressed by this marksmanship. Clearly their leader was indeed blessed by the favor of Gork, just as he told them. Finally, the Battlewagon was within sight of one of the hated floaty-tank things that had been so annoying. While the vehicle still moved at full speed, the ork warlord jumped from his wagon. Ten Nobz followed suit, landing with heavy thuds, their impressive bulk preventing momentum from throwing them on their faces.

With a gleeful roar, the ork warboss shouted “WAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHH!!!” at the top of his lungs. Every ork on the battlefield heard this exultant cry and became overwhelmed by the constant itch for battle. They felt as though they could charge over any distance, so long as they ended up in a good fight. The Kap’n used this energy to pounce on the nearest El’da vehicle. With a few wild swings of his power klaw, the weird floaty machine was a smoldering ruin, that would spoil fights no longer. Overhead, a dakka jet fired madly into another floaty-thing. However, his weapons were not as big, nor as mighty as his leader’s claw, so they failed to destroy their target.

Dakka jet

Two new green clouds appeared near the El’da. When the strange mist dissipated, two enormous killa kans were revealed. Somehow, giant scorchas had been welded to these mechanical behemoths. Gork’s realm must have very good meks! One of these walkers fired a gout of flame at the El’da on foot, cooking many of the weaklings inside their puny rubber suits. The other moved against one of the three remaining floaty-things. The ork warlord was ready to do the same, when he was distracted by a very loud buzzing sound. He turned, and saw a red box-looking plane flying directly at him. In moments, the vehicle was only a boyz’ throw away. It landed on the desert floor and opened. From inside, ten very angry sounding Space Marines charged at the Kap’n and his nobz. As they ran towards the orks, they shouted: “HOOORRRRUUUSSSSS!”

The orks were so astounded by this unexpected orky behavior, that they almost forgot their manners. “WAAAGH!” They all shouted, once they recovered, and jumped to meet the Marines. This was going to be a really good fight. The two sides collided like steel on rock. The combined mindless fury would have been terrifying for anyone to behold. The ork warlord grunted out a guttural challenge, but the marine leader calmly pushed one of his companions in the great ork’s direction. So infused was he by the power of Gork, that he could know no defeat. He swung his klaw five times, and five marines lay dead by his hands. His nobz did not do nearly as well, though they did manage to kill two more, while losing only five of their number. In the sky overhead, Gork continued to rain orky green death upon his enemies. The warboss smiled and raised his klaw in triumphant solidarity.

HOOOORUUUUS!

But then, disaster struck. The same plane that had delivered such a grand fight, returned to attack Gork himself! It fired its nasty weapons against the entity, making him howl in anger. Bullet after bullet smashed into the orky being’s form, until at last, he could no longer sustain his presence in this reality. “NOOOOOOO!” Shouted the warboss, as Mork was forced back to his orky realm. So distraught was the Kap’n by this great injustice, that he closed his eyes and wailed in frustration. When he opened his eyes, however, everything had changed. He was no longer standing on a desert world. There were no Marines or Eldar nearby, and all of his boyz were gone too. Instead, he was in a place where nothing made sense. Direction had no meaning, things that should never be together were fused as one, and a sense of deep wrongness pervaded everything. The ork looked up and saw that he stood before an enormous, two headed beaky creature, with blue wings, that held a long curvy stick. “Hey!” The ork complained “you’re not Gork!”

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Malkor rejoiced as the greater daemon was forced back into the warp by the Stormraven’s weapons. The sudden and unexplained disappearance of Kap’n Klaw was also gratifying. Without their leader, the remaining five nobz had lost the will to fight and were easily run down by the frenzied Death Company. Yet elsewhere, the battle did not go so well. Of the four assault squads that had begun the battle, only one remained, valiantly wresting the high ground from the last remaining ork boyz. Nearby, the Death Company dreadnought that had also deployed from the Stormraven, had charged into a band of daemonettes.

Ordinarily, there is naught that can withstand the unstoppable power of the Blood Angels’ most vicious dreadnought. But the decadent servants of Slaanesh are not of this world, and mortal weapons do not always harm such as them. Malkor watched helplessly as the proud Astartes machine flailed ineffectively against the swarm of daemonettes, unable to slay even one of their number. In return, the fiends rent great holes into the dreadnought’s armor with their evil claws. Before he was able to retaliate, the daemonettes destroyed the Death Company champion utterly. For him, there would be no more battles.

The unlikely Eldar allies fared no better. The daemons had destroyed all of their vehicles but one, which listed badly to one side, its grav-engine damaged by the daemonic onslaught. The Eldar Farseer remained, directing his forces to slay the last remnants of the daemonic incursion. The orks all lay dead. Or so the Chaplain believed. However, Malkor now heard the unmistakable whine of the ork flyer that had proven so ineffective against the Eldar skimmers. This time, it unleashed its storm of bullets at the Farseer and his beleaguered squad, already greatly reduced in number. The psyker’s power seemed to hold many of the oncoming missiles at bay, and allowed him to anticipate and avoid the flyer’s shots. But there was nowhere to hide, and the ork strafing run was unrelenting. Eventually, only the Farseer remained on his feet, until he too was slain.

As this happened, the last surviving assault marine squad charged into a second group of daemonettes. They fought bravely, but the creatures were too lithe, too unnaturally fast and their claws cut through Astartes battle plate as though it were flak armor. It was not long before Chaplain Malkor and his remaining Death Company wards were the last standing Blood Angels on the battlefield. With the same energy that they had when the battle began, the doomed warriors charged into the daemonettes that had so humbled their entombed brother. “HOOORRRRUUUSSSSS!” they shouted. This time, the only reply was mocking laughter. Many daemonettes fell to the Blood Angels’ onslaught, but they were simply too many. Death Company marines fell in quickly succession, until only Malkor remained.

He swung his holy crozius and crushed a daemon’s skull, banishing its filth to the warp. The Chaplain had guided his brothers to an honourable death. He had fulfilled his sacred duty. His ceremonial black armor was cut in countless places, his lifeblood seeping from just as many wounds, and even his impressive Astartes physiology struggled to keep him conscious. At long last, Blood Angels Chaplain Malkor felt his knees buckle, and was powerless to prevent his body from falling upon the blood splattered mud of Tarandros. With his last breath, he gave thanks to the Emperor, that he may now rejoin his father, and was no more.

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After making his final pass, the dakka jet pilot realized that he was the last ork left alive. He therefore decided that it would be best for him to head on home. But first, he thought that he should probably radio Kap’n Klaw. The real Kap’n Klaw; the single biggest, baddest, saltiest and most clever ork pirate that there ever was! Early on in his conquest of Tarandros, Klaw realized that the indigenous orks were really, really thick. So thick, that they would only follow him if they could actually see him. In order to be everywhere at once, the Savvy ork pirate concocted a most brilliant plan! To each of his biggest Nobz, he gave a hat, black leather coat and Klaw, just like his, only slightly smaller.

The pilot snatched his radio receiver and squeezed on the talk button. “Boss! Dis dakka jet…uh…four…methinks.” The ork released the talk button and waited patiently. After a few moments, Kap’n Klaw’s angry voice came alive from the plane’s radio. “What ya want maggot?!” The pilot snapped to attention in his seat. “Uh, da boyz…dey iz all ded” he said hesitantly. “Ded, all of em? How’s dat?” Asked Klaw. “Um, well hell beasties showed up an’…” “Hell beasties… damonz iz wot killed all da boyz?” Interrupted Klaw. “No boss, we woz fighting wif da hell beasties we woz” the pilot replied, hesitantly.

“What ya do dat fer??!” Demanded Kap’n Klaw. The pilot started to get nervous, as if Klaw could somehow reach through the radio and strangle him. “Uh…well you told us dat…well…dat he was da boss, cuz…he had da hat an’ da Klaw…smaller dan yours ‘course! Dat why you da boss…boss. But uh, ‘e said dat Gork appeared to im from ‘is orky realm an’ brought all dem hell beasties ta help. Only…’e called em ork spirits.” A long pause followed before Klaw asked, incredulous “an’ you lot believed all dat?!” The dakka jet pilot gulped audibly “uh…well…coulda been Mork an’ um…’e woz da boss…” Cap’n Klaw growled loudly in frustration and the line went dead. The pilot shook his head, shrugged, and turned his plane in the direction of the Jolly Roja. He was pretty certain that he would not outlive the night.

Planetfall: Introduction

Cap’n Klaw stomped back and forth across the armored plates on top of his landed space craft, Da Jolly Roja. The ship was surrounded by a sea of orks. Excited, feral orks, anxiously waiting to fight in Da grand space waaagh!! The ork pirate Captain had been very successful in convincing the native ork populations of Tarandros to join him. With brute force and promises of gud fights, feral orks had flocked to him and virtually the entire planet was now under his “control.”

But Cap’n Klaw had one problem. The giant Roks that he needed to carry his new horde of Boyz off planet were still under construction and far from completed. Meanwhile, his boyz were getting restless and would soon turn on each-other if Klaw did not find anyone else for them to fight. At a loss, Cap’n Klaw shrugged and decided to tell his expectant masses more stories of the great fights that they would be having.

“Listen up boyz” the ork boss roared from his vantage point. “Now I iz gonna tell yas bout da best enemy ta fight!” A lone ork shouted up “Iz it da bug things ya told us of boss?” “No!” Klaw shouted back. “What bout dem fish people?” At this Kap’n claw roared with laughter. “Na boyz, da best fights are wif da umies!” Thousands of orks gasped in amazed unison. “Umies…what’s a Umie boss?!” many of them asked. Pleased that he had gotten their attention, Klaw smiled evilly and shouted: “Umies are just like orks, but smaller and weaker, coz dey got pink skin and everyone knows green skin is da best!” At this the crowd roared and cheered. Cap’n claw silenced them with a barked order for quiet and continued. “But da umies, dey smart and come at ya wit many, many of dem weak boyz and dey try very hard to fight as gud as orks! Dey got many wagons an—”

“Boss?” someone interrupted. “is dat a umie?” Anoyed, Kap’n Klaw reached for his dakka pistol and fired at the speaker. He missed the intended target, but hit another ork right between the eyes. This was good enough as far as Klaw was concerned. He was about to continue his story, when he heard a very familiar sound. He turned around and saw the unmistakeable trail of space marine drop-pods falling from the sky. “Oh…dat! Na boyz, dem be space Mahreens! Dey be like umie Nobz, but angrier. Dis gonna be a real gud fight boyz…GO GET EM!!!”

With frenzied abandon, the entire feral ork mass hurled itself in the direction of the falling drop pods. Their excitement was so great, that Da Jolly Roja, rocked back and forth as the tide pushed onwards, almost tipping their captain off of it. But the salty space ork used his mighty claw to grab hold of his ship and weathered the storm. Once the feral orks had passed, he laughed and went below decks to prepare for the beginning of his grand Space Waaagh!

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The steel rain of Ultramarine drop pods burst through atmosphere. Squadrons of Stormtalon gunships patrolled the skies below, ensuring no harm would come to their brothers. The cacophony of screeching metal would have been deafening to anyone within these ceramite meteors. But within his drop pod, Brother Captain Titus could hear only the rhythmic chanting of space marines preparing for war.

As the last ritual word was spoken, the drop-pod struck home. The Ultramarines barely noticed the thunderous impact and waited patiently for their transport to open completely. In the instant that the landing leafs hit the ground, Captain Titus strode forth and breathed in the arid air of Tarandros. With the studied precision of centuries, his honour guard formed a protective ring around his majestic countenance. The sons of Guilliman had arrived.

Captain Titus Arrives