Story of Chaplain Amriel of the Promethean Fists, part 2
Amriel had only a moment to register where he was before he fell from the support beam to the floor of the bridge. Amriel hit the floor with a dull, solid thunk. Amriel stood up and examined the command bridge of The Phoenix.
+Tech-marine Lygris+ Voxed Amriel. +What happened?+
+My lord+ answered Lygris. +As far as I can make out the warp shields failed during transit and then we somehow ended up here.+
+Lygris take squad Dante and head to the holding bays+ ordered Amriel. +See what you can salvage. Tech-marine Broec take squad Sathis and go to the armory. Bahoth take the ussal squads and go to the cargo bays. Assist tech-marine Lygris in salvaging whatever you can.+
After giving the orders Amriel then proceeded to move from where he was on the bridge towards the troop quarters. As he walked Amriel was forced to avoid caved in sections and corridors that were in flames. The few remaining servitors rushed about attempting to clear the wreckage and douse the fires.
+Amriel this is Broec+ came a voice over the vox. +I’ve managed to open the armory. It’s a bit of a mess but I will have it ordered up soon.+
+Amriel, Lygris here.+ Came the marines voice. +We’re fixing up what vehicle s are damaged+
+What’s the situation?+
+Well sir+ answered Lygris. +We have four out of eight ussals ready to go and another two that we are repairing. Also we managed to recover four rhinos and one crusader, The Attero Dominatus.+
+Thank you+ replied Amriel.
The chaplain had retrieved what he could from his quarters, namely his weapons and equipment, and was now heading towards the cargo bays. As he went Amriel passed along the message that all marines were to report to the armory for any repairs needed and ammo. Once that was complete the marines were to head to the chapel for announcements
As the many marines began to converse and find spots for their squads to set their equipment Amriel started for the chapel. In the chapel Amriel began to place the fallen statues back onto their pedestals. He dug through the rubble to recover what he could. Amriel found the ships copy of the Burning Will, a spiritual and tactics guide written by the Chapters first chaplain Dienekes. Soon squads began to file into the chapel. Icons flashed up on his helmet display as marines switched to his vox channel. Amriel began his sermon once all the marines were on his vox channel.
"Brothers due to an unfortunate event we find ourselves on this forsaken planet,” Spoke Amriel. “We have yet to find out if this planet is inhabited. until then we are on our own until we receive assistance from another ship"
A voice sounded through the vox. It was filled with apprehension at what it had to report.
“Brother-chaplain Amriel,” said Brother Dante. “We got contacts.”
“Race,” asked Amriel.
“Tau,” yelled Dante over the vox.
An explosion in the background caused the connection to be filled with static.
“Sir we’ve identified pathfinders. They may be joined by fire warriors soon,” reported Dante.
The sounds of gunfire were loud in the background. The cough of bolters mixed with the sounds of pulse carbines. Amriel though quickly about what to do now that they were under attack by tau, they needed to defend the ship.
My thanks brother.
“Tech-Marines get to the reactors,” Commanded Amriel. “See if you can get them running again. All marines get to your defensive positions. Now Move!”
Immediately all the marines rushed to do as they were ordered by Amriel. The scouts went to fortify any hull breach while a majority of the marines headed down to the vehicle bays. There in the holds tech-marines and vehicle crews were working to get their vehicles repaired and ready for action. once the chapel was emptied
+My lord the enemy is bringing up large amounts of kroot and vespid mercenaries+ voxed Scout Sergeant Brocus.
Amriel stood in the holding bays. Around him were arranged the surviving marines of Amriel’s flock. They stood awaiting the signal to begin the counter attack.
+Here they come+ voxed Brocus. A dozen other Scout Sergeants voxed in relaying affirmations to what Brocus reported.
Amriel flicked a signal to the Tech-Marines on either side of the bay doors. In unison they pulled the levers that would open the doors. The massive doors ground open with a chorus of creaks and groans. Before the doors were even fully open Amriel and his marines were out. With a mighty clash marine met kroot and vespid in vicious hand to hand combat. They fought amidst a furry of lasbolts and small arms fire. Devastators lent their firepower to push back or reduce the onrushing horde.
Amriel dodged any attacks sent his way. His crozius and chainsword cut through both weapon and flesh as Amriel spun and leaped through the mire of combat. Amriel caught the barrel of the kroot’s rifle as it arced towards his neck. A sweep of his crozius broke the barrel end off. Amriel followed through his sweep and slammed the blade on the muzzle of the broken barrel into the neck of his opponent.
Soon a steady pounding filled Amriel’s ears. Pausing for a quick moment he scanned the dust for the source of the noise. A knarloc was pounding its was through the desert. Following at its heels were packs of kroothounds. Las-blasts from the Phoenix's batteries killed off scores of the beasts but it was not enough.
"For the Emperor! EGO sum Imperator mos no appareo," roared Amriel charging into the hounds.
Amriel fought his way through the hounds. His chainsword and crozius hacked apart the beasts. He crushed the beasts underfoot in his charge. Suddenly a blast threw Amriel into the air. A shot from the broadside batteries had hit near the chaplain. A shadow descended on Amriel as he lay dazed. Amriel looked into the drooling face of the knarloc. Quickly Amriel rolled out of the way as the creature drove its gaping maw down into the ground. Amriel looked around for his weapons. His chainsword lay out of his reach, embedded in the carcass of a vespid. Amriel spotted his crozius at the foot of the knarloc. He would have to charge the beast to get it back. As Amriel pushed himself to his feet he was tackled by a kroothound. Amriel gripped the animals shoulders and with a vicious twist, snapped its neck.
Amriel threw the dead body aside. From his crouched position Amriel lunged into a run. Amriel dived into a roll as the knarloc make a move to bite at him. As he rolled through its legs Amriel grabbed his crozius. Amriel leaped onto the knarloc's back. He clipped his crozius to his belt then unholstered his pistols. He ran up to the beasts head and gripped it with his legs. With a blast the knarloc fell to the ground dead. Amriel leaped away from the carcass. his smoking pistols were held tightly in his hands.
+My lord the enemy has incurred high casualties and is retreating,+ came Dante’s voice over the vox.
+Good, tell the marines to pull back to the bay doors+ responded Amriel. +I’ll be on my way shortly+
Amriel stood at the pulpit in the chapel of the Phoenix. Before him were arrayed what surviving marines were not on guard duty. Those that were on guard duty had their vox units switched to one vox channel. All the marines listened attentively to Amriel’s sermon as he spoke out passionately of the need to be forever loyal to the God-Emperor. They would be loyal till death. As his sermon drew to a close Amriel began to say their chapter’s creed.
" nos es mos of Imperator,” Said Amriel.
“Suus igneus ira est nostri,” continued the marines in unison.
“Incendia may fluo ex nostrum fingers etiamnunc nos subsisto inhumatus. Lux lucis may prosilio ex nostrum eyes etiamnunc nos sto salvus. Orbis terrarum may palpito quod silicis may scindo etiamnunc nos vadum non concedo,” The voices filled the ship with the righteousness of the Imperium. “Huic igneus coniecto qua nusquam somes nos sto defiantly in vultus nostrum hostilis. Nos vadum non vereor , pro foes of Imperator mos cado pro nos. Nos es angelus of nex. Nos es Igneus pugnus of Imperator sanctus ira quod nos vadum teneo haud vereor.”
“How goes it brothers,” asked Amriel crouching down next to scout-sergeant Brocus. The scouts were well protected behind the lower lip of a hole in the ship.
“Nothing yet my lord,” muttered Brocus. He continued to watch through his scope for signs of a possible attack.
“Good,” Said Amriel. “Stay vigilant brothers.”
Amriel headed to the control room. The place was still in shambles. Amriel strode over to where Tech-marine Lygris stood repairing a terminal. The terminal’s panels had been pulled up and all four of Lygris’s arms, mechanic and human, were plunged deep into the mess of wires. While Lygris had all of his attention focused on the wires a battered servo-skull kept vigilant watch on the one screen that hadn’t been ripped up. Wires trailed from the servo-skull to a connection with Lygris’s helmet.
“Lygris, how goes your work,” inquired Amriel.
“I’m almost there,” mumbled Lygris not removing his attention from the work before him.
A moment later the words and numbers began to run down the screen. A red light on the servo-skull flashed on and Lygris finally looked up at the screen.
“Yes, finally,” hissed Lygris as his two servo arms pulled a keyboard over to him.
His fingers danced over keys as he continued to mutter and watch the screen.
“Have you got the vox unit running,” asked Amriel.
“Yes brother-chaplain I do now,” answered Lygris.
“Good, see if you can open a communications-channel with another Imperial Fleet.” ordered Amriel.
A few seconds later a face cut through with static lines appeared on the screen.
“Communications opened go ahead,” piped up Lygris.
“This is Lord Admiral Nado of Fleet Chalybs of the Imperial Navy. Identify yourself. Repeat, identify yourself.”
The Lord Admiral’s voice was broken up by static. The image of the Admiral flickered as if the connection was bad. Though the screen was tinted green Amriel could see the Nado was dressed in a storm grey uniform with blue edgings.
“Admiral Nado, I am Chaplain Amriel of the Promethean Fists. I require your assistance,” replied Amriel.
“Greetings Amriel, what is it that requires you to ask me for assistance?”
“Admiral due to some foul misfortune my men and I have found ourselves crashed on a desert planet. I will have my tech-marines activate our distress signal for you if you need location.”
From outside the screen’s viewing area someone handed a data slate to the Admiral.
“No need Chaplain; my tech-priests have already traced your signal. We would be willing to help you were it not for your situation.”
“What is the matter? I know this planet is held by tau,” Snarled Amriel crossing his arms.
“My fleet is but a week’s distance from your position. The issue is that the planet you are on has been recently claimed by the tau.”
“If you require help in this I will give you a message to relay to my Chapter-Master. Do not in any way modify it.”
“I will arrive as swiftly as possible. May the Emperor watch over you,” Said Nado.
“We are the Emperor’s burning wrath, our faith is our shield. May the Emperor grant you speed,” replied Amriel. “Here is the message you are to relay to my Chapter-Master.”
Amriel walked down the isle of the reclusiam he maintained onboard the [i]Phoenix[/i]. After the crash Amriel had spent as much time as possible repairing its damage. Now it had been five days since the crash and two days since he had spoken with Lord Admiral Nado. Still deep in thought, Amriel stopped before a worn bookcase crammed with books. He ran his hand along the books as he muttered under his breath. His hand stopped at a book bound in red inlaid with gold and silver. Amriel pulled it off its shelf and examined the cover. Flowing gold writing titled the book. The edges of the cover were engraved with flames.
Amriel walked by pure memory to his desk and seated himself. He removed his helmet and placed it on a shelf above the desk. Amriel opened the cover of the book. The title, The Art of War, was written in High Gothic on the inside cover. The book was a rare and ancient book from humanities past, few copies having survived the millennia since the time it was written. This one had been copied from the original copy stored away in Gondhelm, the fortress monastery of the Promethean Fists. Ezekiel, Amriel’s predecessor as Master of Sanctity, had copied it and later gifted it to Amriel before the battle that claimed Ezekiel’s life.
Amriel sat for for a while, remembering the day he had received the book. It had been so long ago, that it was now but a dim memory. He focused on bringing it back now.
[i]It was raining, yet fires raged in the city. Gunfire sounded as the inexorable rank and file of the Imperial Guard regiments pressed onwards. Much of the city was in ruins after days of fighting. Amriel stood before the hulking armored form of Chaplain Ezekiel, Master of Sanctity. The terminator armor of Ezekiel was resplendent with tokens of faith. A terminator squad stood at the ready behind the Chaplain.
"Brother Amriel, were it not for my status you would be Master of Sanctity. I know that when the day comes that the Emperor calls my soul to his halls, you will stand in my place as Master," said Ezekiel clipping a book from his belt. "Until then serve the Chapter as you always have. Here take this book, it has served me well."
Amriel took the book from Ezekiel's hand. He stared at the cover. Quickly Amriel clutched it to his chest then clipped it's chain to his belt so it hung at his side.
"That is The Art of War," said Ezekiel. "It is one of the few copies left in the Imperium. I myself copied it from the edition in the Chapter's Librarium."
With that Ezekiel turned and headed off towards the fighting. The terminators followed Ezekiel. A few minutes after Ezekiel turned the corner an explosion sent dust and debris down the street. Amriel bent down and picked up a fragment of Ezekiel's helmet. As Amriel stood he slipped the fragment into a belt pouch.
+Press forward with the assault+ spoke Amriel into his helmet's vox. Amriel turned and activated the power field of his crozius.
"For the Emperor," whispered Amriel inaudibly before charging into the fray.[/i]
The book had since served as a basis for Amriel’s teachings, strategies. Indeed Amriel’s personal library was filled with records of past battles, not just of his chapter, but of as many chapters or other forces as he could gather. Many books were also rare books on war and other topics Amriel found of use. Many of the purity seals Amriel gave had a quote from one book or another. At last Amriel found the page he was looking for. He pulled a stack of parchment, a pen, and an ink well over to himself. He dipped the pen in the ink and began writing, If you know yourself and know your enemy, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles…
"Thus the skillful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand," said Amriel. "And as such it is our duty to command our troops effectively. I have noted that some o you have a habit of giving orders that your marines cannot obey. I need this to stop. Do not charge if you are bogged down. Indeed keep from being bogged down.”
Amriel stood in the chapel before all his sergeants. Due to recent issues of command in the defense of the Phoenix Amriel was now lecturing his commanders.
“Don't get pulled into firefights that were not of your choosing,” continued Amriel. “Commanding your soldiers to advance or to retreat, but being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey; this is called hobbling the army.”
Amriel dismissed the sergeants as a messenger ran up. The messenger stood at attention until Amriel turned to him.
“Chaplain Amriel,” breathed the messenger. “The Tau are once again massing their forces. They are bringing in more fire warriors every hour.”
“Then we bring the fight to them before they bring it to us,” muttered Amriel, clenching his fist. +Sergeants prepare your assault squads+
When Nasargiel heard the orders from Chaplain Amriel he immediately headed for the mess halls. There Nasargiel assembled his now seven-man squad. They made their way to the armory to arm themselves and equip their jump packs. Then Nasargiel ordered his warriors to assemble in the assigned meeting area in the thunderhawk hangars.
The hangers held 10 thunderhawks in varying degrees of repair. Two thunderhawks had been scrapped for parts to repair the other 10. Already in the holding bays below the hangars ussals and other tanks were being prepared to sally forth to assault the enemy lines. Squads of assault marines assembled to await Amriel’s signal.
Amriel stood in the armory with his arms held out like a crucifix. Tech-marine Broec stood, attaching a jump pack to Amriel’s back. A chainsword and Amriel’s Crozius were attached to the chaplain’s belt. A bolt pistol and plasma pistol were strapped to Amriel’s thighs.
“Chaplain your jump pack is securely attached,” reported Broec.
A red light began flashing through the entire ship as a klaxon sent its alarm ringing through the ship. The sound caused many to stop and look to the intercom for info.
+Chaplain Amriel Your presence is necessary on the bridge immediately+ spoke Lygris.
+I’m on my way+ responded Amriel.
As Broec moved forward to remove the jump pack Amriel shook his head slightly for him to leave it on. Amriel was sprinting down the hall like a Roc Hatchling only a few minutes later. As he reached the bridge Amriel slowed to a brisk pace.
“What is it,” asked Amriel as he stepped on to the bridge of the Phoenix.
Tech-marine Lygris was standing in the middle of the lower deck directing servitors and serfs as they scuffled about. Pausing from the hullabaloo Lygris gave his response to Amriel.
“Chaplain when we sent out our request for assistance I had activated the beacon to lead them here,” explained Lygris.
“Yes, yes I know that,” snapped Amriel. “What’s the problem?”
“Sir it appears that the beacon is attracting more than the Imperial fleet,” Responded Lygris.
“What else is it attracting,” asked Amriel impatiently.
“Orks,” replied Lygris gravely.
“Orks,” gasped Amriel, his resolve faltering momentarily. “Can you bring it up on the view screen?”
“I’ll try Brother Chaplain,” responded Lygris turning to back to the terminals. Broec turned to another set of terminals which his arms made short work of.
“Do it quickly,” said Amriel.
Amriel punched his finger down on the intercom button. “This is Chaplain Amriel, cancel all attack preparations. Prepare for imminent attack by orks or tau. Alert level Alpha.”
Though all motion had stopped as Amriel spoke, when he finished all motion continued but at high speed and with increased urgency.
“My lord, the orks have launched attacks in order to gauge our strength. They have done the same against the tau,” reported Lygris. “The forces each number about 100 or so ‘boyz’ and are led by ‘nobs’.”
Amriel nodded his understanding to Lygris then hit the intercom button again.
“Brothers, as long as we breathe and the spirits of the power cores are still willing to generate the energy we need, we will survive. I have trained you to never to surrender and so far you have done well.” Amriel said. He removed his finger from the button and turning to his tech-marines.
“Brother-chaplain, the Tau have forced the orks to divert their ranged firepower to combat them. This is leaving us to deal with their close range units,” said Broec.
“Broec meet me in the armory,” said Amriel. “I need to suit up.”
In the dark armory with only the glow of the forges to assist him, Broec attached the terminator armor on to Amriel. His servo-arms held the chainfist to Amriel’s left arms he used his human arms to attach it. His crozius was attached to his waist for later use. Once the chainfist was attached Broec presented Amriel with a stormbolter. Amriel reached out and took the weapon in his hand.
“Yes,” hissed Amriel examining the weapon. “Now we go to war.”
Once again Amriel stood in the holding bays below the flight deck. The thunderhawks were already for flight but, with the ork fleet in orbit and unknown heavy weapons on the ork’s side, it was not good tactics to use them. Alongside Amriel stood two full squads worth of Assault Marines resplendent in their brown and red armor. Each wore a black helmet to symbolize that he was a part of Amriel’s flock. They were like many of the marines on board The Phoenix, all a part of the group of marines who looked to the Chaplains for leadership.
+Lygris open the doors+ commanded Amriel. +We go to meet the Emperor’s foes+
Lygris and Broec pulled the levers to open the doors. As the bright light flooded into the bays the shapes of the lumbering orks came into focus. As much as Amriel hated admitting it, Amriel could see that the orks were brave, charging through the hailstorm of fire.
“Charge,” roared Amriel gesturing with his chainfist.
With a roar the Marines charged out to meet the orks in hand to hand combat. Chainswords growled hungrily, eager to rend both flesh and armor. Bolt pistols and ork sluggas barked shots at each other as their wielders closed the gap. With a mighty clash and a roar the two forces met.
Amriel punched his chainfist into the torso of the first ork that came close to him. The power field that encased the chain blade rent the ork’s armor asunder. A blast from Amriel’s stormbolter removed the carcass from his chainfist.. Amriel allowed a grim smile to crease his features as he killed the orks.
A Marine flew back past Amriel with his arm missing. Amriel followed the injured marine’s trajectory and spotted the Ork Nob that had been placed in command of this force. Amriel unleashed a fury of bolts on the Nob’s direction. In response the Nob roared at Amriel and fired back more shots.
“I am his cleansing flame,” roared Amriel closing the distance between him and the Nob.
Rampel, the Lord of Gondhelm, sat in his throne of solid rock mourning the loss of his friend. Chaplain Amriel and his retinue had disappeared in the warp enroute to their homeworld of Turthol. Every attempt to contact themhad failed. Already the Chaplains were asking him to choose Amriel’s successor. Rampel refused to accept Amriel’s demise. His reveries were shattered when a serf rushed in.
“My Lord,” said the serf, bowing deeply. “We have news of Chaplain Amriel.”
Rampel’s head snapped up when the serf mentioned Amriel.
“”Yes,” responded Rampel hopefully. “What news? Speak!”
“My lord,” answered the serf. “We have a communication from one Admiral Nado, of Fleet Chalybs. The communications are still open, shall we patch him through?”
“Yes,” said Rampel nodding at the serf.
His heart soared at the possibility that Amriel was still alive. The serfs and tech-marines worked to patch the communications through. With an ear piercing screech the ceiling opened allowing a huge carved phoenix with folded wings to descend. As it cleared its perch its wings opened to reveal viewing screens on its chest and wings. Static filled the screens for a few tense moments. With a burst of jumbled words and static the screens cleared to reveal the face of Admiral Nado.
“Admiral,” said Rampel with a small nod. “What news?”
“Chapter-Master Rampel,” responded Admiral Nado. “I have a message from your Master of Sanctity, Chaplain Amriel.”
“Proceed,” said Rampel watching the screens as they were consumed with static again. When the static cleared the skull helmet, typical of Space Marine Chaplains, was visible. The background was that of a ship’s bridge in a sorry state of ruin. Amriel’s voice came through, but it was cut through with static.
“Chapter-Master Rampel; if you are hearing this message, then know that we still fight strongly,” Said Amriel. “I request that you sent a company out to assist Admiral Nado to retrieve us. Please allow me to explain or situation. At some point during transit in the warp our shields failed before we were somehow vomited out of the warp and crashed on a planet near the outskirts of the Tau Empire. So far we have fought for three days against the Tau.”The deep, loud pulse of broadside guns shook the bridge of Amriel’s ship continuously.
“My lord we have lost ten of from multiple engagements with the Tau and their mercenaries. We cannot hold out forever and as such I ask you brother, assist us. We should be able to hold out until Imperial forces arrive to assist us. Until we next meet Rampel may the Emperor watch over you.”
“Well Lord Rampel,” asked Nado.
“Yes,” responded Rampel. “Yes you shall have reinforcements.”
“My thanks,” said Nado, bowing.
With a hiss of static the communication was cut. Rampel stood from his throne. Already the phoenix was retracting into the ceiling.
“Boys, let’s get first company ready to roll,” commanded Rampel, with great enthusiasm.
Soon the underground hangars of Gondhelm were buzzing with activity. Servitors and chapter serfs loaded equipment ammo and fuel onto thunderhawks for transport to the First Company Battle Barge, Fist of Vulcan. Once the thunderhawks were loaded and the hangar floor cleared the hangar doors opened. From outside, the desert would have appeared to be bulging up before opening, like the maw of some great beast, as the hangar doors pushed their way up through the sand. A jolt shook the hangar floor as pistons and hydraulics activated, pushing the hangar floor up to the level of the desert.
Once level with the desert, the pilots of the thunderhawks activated the engines. Awe showed clearly on the faces of a passing group of nomads as they saw the hangar doors open to reveal the thunderhawks. The thunderhawks circled the group once in salute before rocketing up into the atmosphere towards the awaiting Fist of Vulcan. Once all the thunderhawks were safely in the landing bays, Captain Shiloh gave the order to have the Fist of Vulcan warp jump.
Rampel watched the thunderhawks depart from a window in Gondhelm.
“Go with the Emperor’s grace,” intoned Rampel. “May Vulcan grant you his strength to do your duty.”
Metal slugs flew by Amriel. A good number impacted on his armor but were unable to penetrate the ancient armor. The ork Nob made the first move, aiming a killing blow towards Amriel’s head.
The ork Nob swung his power claw in an upwards arc before bringing it down. Amriel side stepped the claw before bringing his crozius down behind it. The force of the blows threw the Nob off balance monetarily. Taking advantage of the Nob’s predicament Amriel hacked his chainfist towards the Nob. The Nob roared in anger and pain as its arm was ripped from its shoulder.
In an instinctive reaction the Nob jabbed its power claw at Amriel. As the power weapons collided a fountain of sparks erupted accompanied by a shriek of tortured metal. The ork’s eyes widened as the power weapons locked together. Smiling, Amriel tugged on the claw as he brought his crozius down on the ork.
Nasargiel blocked the descending axe with his bardiche. Twisting his weapon through a confusing set of moves Nasargiel brought the blade down, slashing deep into the ork. As another ork charged him Nasargiel smacked the shaft of the bardiche into the ork’s stomach before twisting around the ork and hacking the Aquila shaped blade into the ork’s spine. The ork collapsed as it lost control of its leg muscles. A shot from Nasargiel’s bolt pistol ended the ork’s suffering. Flourishing his blade Nasargiel skewered an ork before a fellow marine decapitated it.
“Together,” asked Nasargiel to his fellow marine.
“Yes brother,” responded the marine. “Together.”
Back to back the two marines fought against the onrushing orks.
Amriel looked out towards the ork and Tau positions. The broad side guns of the [i]Phoenix[/i] were keeping the Tau forces away but ork drop ships were descending in ever increasing amounts. The Marines with Amriel had killed all the orks that had attacked.
“Marines, pull back,” commanded Amriel. “We will fight another day.”
“Brother-Chaplain,” said Nasargiel. With the sergeant were two other Marines. All three of them held a battle scared black helmet.
“Yes, brother-sergeant,” murmured Amriel looking up from a tome. It was rare for Marines to enter the reclusium on terms other than guidance or invitation.
“Brother Chaplain, we lost three battle brothers this day,” Nasargiel stepped forward and reverently deposited the damaged helmet on Amriel’s desk. The two Marines with Nasargiel did likewise, placing the helmets they carried next to the first helmet.
“They shall be greatly missed,” said Amriel sadly, bowing his head. All four Marines stood silently, remembering the dead.
“Brothers do you see the helmet on the shelf over there,” asked Amriel, indicating the helmet with a nod.
“Yes brother,” replied the Marines.
“Brothers,” explained Amriel. “That was my helmet when I was in Chaplain Ezekiel’s retinue. After Ezekiel died that helmet was put aside to be replaced by this one. The rest of my armor was given to the new marines when I took up this armor. When I die that helmet and my remains will be interred in the crypts on Turthol that hold the helmets and remains of Marines and Chaplains who have served before you. Each helmet is ritually cleaned, repaired, and inscribed with its bearer’s name. The helmets have never been used since their bearers died.”
“Thank you Chaplain,” said the Marines, bowing. “We must go now and see to our squads.”
“Go and may Vulcan grant you his strength,” said Amriel looking back down at the tome in clear dismissal. The Marines turned on their heels and exited the Reclusium. When Amriel was sure they were out of hearing range he stood and moved to a steel foot locker next to his desk. He removed his gauntlet and inserted his finger into the gene-encoder. The locker opened revealing fifteen damaged black helmets. Slowly and reverently Amriel placed the three helmets into the locker. When he was finished Amriel left to walk the halls and ponder their situation. His wanderings led him to the bridge where the tech-marines were working. Broec, Lygris, and a few others were busy repairing and cleaning the bridge. Many of the terminals were just a jumble of wires and panels. A wave of acknowledgements washed over Amriel as the doors opened and he entered.
“Broec,” called Amriel. “Give me a status report.”
“Chaplain,” said Broec. “The Imperial Fleet has reached the outer planet. They should arrive in 20 standard hours. The orks and Tau both have strong foot holds now. The fleets have engaged in orbit.”
“Thank you,” replied Amriel.
Captain Shiloh Sat in his throne on the Fist of Vulcan. He has harnessed down into his command throne. Throughout the battle barge everyone was strapped down. A countdown started listing the minutes until entry into real space. Overall the mood in the ship was one of apprehension towards battling xenos and gladness that their chaplain was alive.
Out in real space a gash opened up revealing the warp. A mighty Astartes vessel eased out, its shields flaring from contact with the warp. Once the vessel was clear the gash closed up as quickly as it had opened. Quickly 5 Hunter class destroyers spread out to flank the Battle Barge along with 2 Gladius class frigates.
There before the ships lay the Ceris System. Ceris Prime, Secundus, and Ultra were held by the tau. Ceris Secundus, the second closest to the system’s sun, was under attack by an ork fleet. Two kill koozers, 3 Hammer Class Battlekroozers, and hundreds of fighter craft battled a smaller but equally powerful Tau fleet. The space around the planet was littered with wrecks and debris. An imperial Fleet was slowly pushing its way past the fourth planet in the system. The Battle Barge’s engines flared as it barreled its way towards the Imperial fleet at full speed. I would take a day at least for the mighty craft to reach the second planet. The Imperial fleet had only hours till it entered the engagement. When It arrived it would have the advantage of being fresh for battle.
On the surface of the planet a three way battle was raging. The majority of the fighting was centered around a downed Astartes strike cruiser. On one side the Tau fought to remove the invaders from their planet. The orks had established a strong base and were attacking the other forces. Lastly 33 Marines commanded by Chaplain Amriel struggled to survive. The area between the Tau and Promethean Fist fortifications was under constant fire from the cruiser’s broadside guns. Some of the longer range cannons bombarded the Tau fortifications.
From behind artificial dunes Marines of Amriel’s force fought a pitched battle with orks. Sand drifts now covered the remains of hundreds of dead orks and kroot. Inside the holding bays of the Phoenix, Amriels strike cruiser, Tech-Marines were busy repairing the thunderhawks.
The locker containing the helmets of the dead along with the coffins containing their remains had been loaded into the thunderhawks. The Marines were prepared to leave the accursed planet. Many marines had prosthetics in place of their missing limbs. Despite their troubles the fighting spirit had yet to be broken.