The men of the 144th assault task-force. The 144th feature in the short story below.
About this creation
The standard foot soldiers of the 144th.
The heavy gunner.
Vindicare assassin, Sevetus.
A Last Hope in a Desperate Defence
Kronus, two decades ago the planet was the field of battle during the infamous Dark Crusade. After the Blood Ravens had left the planet the remaining Imperial Guard forces set up a garrison and the planet became an epicentre for trade in all things from weapons to food. The commander of the planetary forces was General Dmitri Ward, leader of the 144th Assault Squad who was now in control. At this time Dmitri's head was filled with information, a Tyranid hive fleet had just emerged from the warp at the outer edges of Kronus space. Dmitri sent word to the Inquisition, warning them of the threat, yet an Imperial Guard garrison would be nothing short of a waste of resources, there were after all nearly one billion active guardsmen and more signing up every day. They did not reply.
Dmitri stood on his balcony, overlooking the men that marched below, a mere two thousand. The citizens of Kronus had been but into hidden bunkers, deep underground. Dmitri thought to himself, "Two thousand against what would more than likely be millions; his men alone stood no chance. But all hope was no yet lost, a Basilisk manufacturing plant, an old relic of the Dark Crusade was now once more operational, at the least they could thin out the enemy numbers before they reached them, he predicted three days till they were all corpses, yet he would fight till the last man. But a small glimmer of hope filled his mind, when a commissar reported that a Baneblade had just arrived from Mars, as well as some techpriests. But, he could still see the great tendrils of the hive fleet surrounding the other worlds of the Kronus sector. Never had Dmitri seen an army of such size, or gluttony. He thought of things like, “Would the Necrons be able to defeat the Tyranids?” Meanwhile, in another part of the Kronus Sector, A great Hive Lord appeared among the Lesser Tyranids. Upon doing so, let out a piercing cry and ripped the head of a recently killed Ork. The Hive Mind knew of the feast to be had on these planets, and Kronus was their next target. None could stand before the might of the Behemoth - Ultramar Tendril, or its great Hive Mind. Commissar Schefe ran over to Dmitri, "Commander, we have contact at the front," "How long till that baneblade gets here?" "Two days sir." Dmitri thought for a while before saying, "Move the basilisks forward, provide the men with artillery support, is that clear, I do not think we can win this but perhaps we can stop their march here," "Very well commander, for the will of the Emperor,” replied Commissar Schefe. “I will escort them myself.” “Good Luck,” replied Commander Ward.
Soon, the mighty treads of the Basilisks sounding, as Dmitri thought, I am leaving the Capitol unprotected. He called to his man-servant, “Luke, send another message to the Imperial Navy, we need support.” Commissar Schefe arrived at the front line, finding guardsmen cringing in fear. “Guardsmen, Report.” “The...They were everywhere, we didn't stand a chance. They tunnelled under our lines, we were forced to retreat.” Drawing his las-pistol, Commissar Schefe calmly put it to the cowardly guardsman's head saying, "You shall not run from the fight, now you shall serve as an example to others." pulling the trigger, the commissar executed the soldier in front of his fellow men remembering his personal regime, "If there is something frighting at the front, then put something worse behind." Captain Victus watched the growing dust cloud as it neared his position. He knew that within that cloud thousands of hungry Tyranid guants wanted nothing more than to taste the blood of the Imperial Guard. As the cloud came closer a sniper rifle penetrated Victus's peripheral vision. On the end of the meter and a half long gun was Sevetus, their units Vindicare assassin. Dropping to one knee and raising his rifle, Sevetus loosed three shots in rapid succession, tearing through multiple Tyranids. But still they came on. Victus had his squads in the trenches below their position and know, with a sound like thunder, they opened fire. At one hundred meters the guardsmen's lasguns ripped through the Tyranid line, blood and gore covering the landscape. For thirty seconds the barrage continued until the guants finally closed with the guardsmen. Victus could only watch as his men were torn apart while he listened to their screams. Shaking his head Victus turned and left, he and Sevetus left the men to their fate, there was nothing they could do. And in the shadows of the swarm, Victus heard the piercing cry of a Hive Lord, one of the most powerful of all the Tyranids (besides the Hive Mind). Sevetus prepared his rifle, ready to unleash fury upon this new menace when Victus held up his hand. “Hold steady Sevetus, I hear something.” Sevetus had also heard it, when suddenly thousands of guants were just obliterated into nothingness, followed by more, and more. Victus could not believe his eyes, until Commissar Schefe strode up next to him. “I hope you were not planning on leaving Captain,” said Schefe, “for such is punishable by death, for only in death do we finish serving.” “My Lord,” replied Victus, “I would never commit such heresy; Sevetus and I were just about to attack the Hive Lord itself!” “You were lucky we showed up,” continued Schefe, “If not, your body would have been torn asunder by this Xeno scum. We must hold a line here, until our Baneblade arrives in one planetary cycle, with the Basilisks, that should be possible.” “If such is the will of the Emperor,” replied Victus. Luke bravely ran to Commissar Schefe's
side carrying a heavy bolter. Suddenly the enemy horde assaulted their position, Luke pulled the trigger and bullets spat from the muzzle of the gun raking the enemies advance. Luke turned his head to Commissar Schefe who also was firing at the enemy. "Commissar request granted" he said as the words left his lips Commissar Schefe looked up and a hail of almighty lasers hit the surface of the planet just north of their position, decimating the enemy's reinforcements. "Orbital bombardment" a smile crept onto his face. "Looks like we will have to clean up the rest ourselves" Commissar Schefe replied. “You did well Man servant; you have the blessing of the Emperor upon you.” said Commissar Schefe. “Yes, well inde...Arrrgh!" screamed Victus. Commissar Schefe and Luke spun around to see a Ravener emerge from the earth under his feet, driving one of its massive scythe claws through his heart. Schefe was about to draw his las-pistol when the Xeno's head was blasted off by Sevetus, who he had almost forgotten was there. "Luke, send word to Commander Ward about Victus' demise, we lost a good man today. The general arrived at the battle site, a confused look upon his face, "Orbital bombardment, but from where?" the commissar pointed skyward at an approaching thunderhawk, "I think we may be about to find out." Minutes later a thunderhawk sporting the colours of the Blood Ravens. As the entry ramp descended Dmitri saw the two metre tall bulk of a space marine. Dropping to one knee Dmitri and the others looked on in awe as Brother Vanatus stepped out from the gloomy interior of his thunderhawk. “General, what can we do to help?” “Thank the Emperor, space marines, Blood Ravens.” Vanatus, Septimus and two others exited the thunderhawk, three metre tall melding’s of flesh and steel, armed to the teeth and prepared to die in the Emperors name. Suddenly a messenger arrived, bring bad news, “General, we have grave news, our front lines have been wiped out in a furious Xeno assault, no one survived,” “How did this happen, quickly,” “Ten Xenos of gigantic size stormed our lines, followed by wave upon wave of guants, we didn’t stand a chance,” at this, Vanatus stepped in, “Gigantic Xenos you say, of all things, ten Carnifex, general, with these beasts on the loose there will be no victory, when will the Inquisition arrive?” “I sent out for help when the hive fleet appeared at the edge of the sector, the Inquisition did not reply,” “Try again general, this time inform them of the Blood Ravens with you, this planet is sacred to us and we won’t lose it, in the mean time I shall take my men and hunt down the beasts,” “Then may the Emperors light guide you Vanatus,” “And you.” Vanatus gathered his men and set off at a run. Dmitri quickly made his way to the comms centre, telling the messenger to take word to the commissar, telling him to move the basilisks back into the city and to set up a closed defence within the ruins. When he arrived he saw the light on the dashboard, a message was waiting, with haste he answered. “This is Inquisitor Adarax, what is your current situation general?” “Dire my lord, I have but six hundred men remaining from my standing garrison and four Blood Ravens, though the swarm has blockaded Kronus, a liberation fleet will be required,” “Very well, we will make good time, arrival time is estimated at two days, you must hold out until then, is that clear?” “Yes sir, understood, Dmitri out.” The general sighed heavily and dropped to his knees, relief flooding through him, as he stood to leave he saw that another message was waiting, “This is Vanatus, my men are dead and I fear I soon will be, we have eliminated the Carnifex threat but were surrounded by Xenos, I am sending my coordinates, upon receiving, level the area, if I am to die I shall take the Emperors enemies with me, Vanatus out.” Once again a foreboding mood settled upon the general, as the coordinates came through he heard the echo of the basilisks guns, with their biggest advantage gone they now relied on a baneblade, twelve basilisks and the wavering souls of six hundred guardsmen, two days would now seem like so much longer. 'Send a Valkyrie to get the remains of the fallen Blood Ravens; they deserve tribute for their sacrifice.'
'As you command, my lord,' replied Luke. Dmitri then began to hear disturbing reports coming over the comms, of a large Tyranid that seemed to enhance all the guants surrounding it, the Hive Lord. 'Curse you Hive Lord, I know you can hear me, come and face me.' As Dmitri said this, the ground shook violently, and a horrific figure emerged 10 metres away. It was 6 metres tall, had 4 razor sharp talons, and released a blood-chilling scream. The Hive Lord had heard the call, and had come for blood. The Hive lord began its advance, roaring as it came. Dmitri yelled out in defiance and opened up with his wrist mounted storm bolters. The beast screamed and writhed in pain as the shots tore through its outer hide, yet still on it came. As it closed, Dmitri ejected his thunder claws. The Hive lord swung and would have taken Dmitri's head off had he not ducked. He came back with a quick jab to the beast’s unarmoured underbelly. But his efforts were to no avail. He dived behind a ruined wall and radioed Sevetus, "Assassin, I need your aid outside the comms tower, come quickly," "As you wish my lord." Sevetus rose to his feet and set off. He could hear the fight even when he was hundreds of metres away. At a sprint Sevetus arrived at the spot, instantly taking in what was happening. Dmitri was diving from cover to cover, spraying the beast with bolter rounds. At this rate, the general would run out of ammunition soon. Dropping to one knee and lining up his sights with the beasts head, Sevetus drifted into a relaxed state, the sound of his heartbeats echoing in his ears. His finger tightened on the trigger, but something made him stop, something was wrong. He peered down at the generals feet, something was happening. Suddenly the very ground exploded, sending the general flying. As the dust cleared Sevetus could see the ground literally crawling as thousands of rippers crawled out of a hole in the ground. Hearing a growl behind him, Sevetus flinched. He panned his HUD so that he could see his rear and behind him was a Tyranid warrior. Pivoting on his heel he took the shot, despite giving away his position. The Tyranid dropped, a headless corpse. With his HUD still at the back he saw the Hive lord’s incoming swipe and expertly flipped over the oncoming claws. Landing lightly on his feet he fired once again, removing the Hive lords arm in a spray of blood. The beast roared in pain as Sevetus fired again and again, finally hitting the sweet-spot at the base of the creature’s neck, killing it instantly. Looking around he saw Dmitri holding out against the ripper tide. Calling him on the vox, Sevetus spoke, "General, hold your position, extraction is en-route." With that Sevetus made his way down the rubble to the ground below. He sprinted across to the general, laying down small explosives as he went. "General, we're going now, come on." Grasping the generals hand Sevetus hauled him to his feet, "Quickly, into the ruins, rippers don't climb well." As they raced through the ruins and over collapsed walls both knew that by all rights they should be dead, and yet, here they were. As soon as they arrived at base camp the two fell in a heap, exhausted and rightly so, both knew it was now a waiting game, would they run out of ammo and men before either the Inquisition came or the unthinkable happened and the Tyranids ran out of troops. Night had fallen; the Liberation fleet was in orbit. All day Dmitri had kept his men firing as the Tyranid swarm grew ever closer, his men running low on ammunition. When the fleet had arrived the sky began to glow as the atmosphere was lit up by hundreds of thousands of burning Tyranids, and yet, after three hours, the fleet had not broken through. Dmitri felt grim, as if he and his men where the last light in a galaxy of darkness. Already today they had taken hundreds of losses, Commissar Schefe among them. He had gone down under the never ending horde of rippers. And the rippers where still coming, reports where coming in from across the city of holes opening up everywhere and more of the Xenos pouring out. But, Dmitri and Sevetus had something in store for the enemy. Buried under the hill on which all operable force now waited was four thousand pounds of prometheum fuel, ready to be ignited. Upon being overwhelmed the fuel would be ignited, crippling the Tyranids. The burning fuel would light up other pockets until the planet had been covered in a prometheum fuelled inferno. As Dmitri waited his manservant came over to him, "General, the men are anxious, they look rebellious without their Commissar," "Very well, I shall talk to them, take my watch." As the General walked down to his men he felt the very ground tremble and looked around. There was no immediate threat on the ground but then he heard the unmistakable whine of a valkyries engines. Looking up he saw a single gunship descending from the sky. "This is the General, men, turn on the beacons, we have an incoming gunship. As he ran to the landing zone the Valkyrie began to land. From the side stepped out two grey knights and the Inquisitor, Adarax. "Inquisitor, you came," "Yes, we came, now, where are the Blood Ravens?" "Dead my lord, they went out to fight the Xenos and did not survive." Upon hearing the news the Inquisitors mood darkened heavily, "Then how is it that cowardly imperial guard have survived where the might Blood Ravens could not hmm?" "What are you implying Inquisitor?" "Nothing, I shall return to my ship and send down more craft to collect you and your men, then, the exterminatus shall begin," "very well my lord, we will begin preparations." And, as abruptly as he had arrived, the Inquisitor left. "Alright men, form up, gather your things, we are leaving this hole." Dmitri's men let out a half-hearted cheer, but a cheer filled with relief. Dmitri could not have asked for more, holding out against the Tyranids for weeks, surviving even where four space marines could not, the General felt proud of each of them. As Dmitri slowly walked through his men, congratulating each of them individually he came across a stretcher. Lying on the stretcher was Corporal James Mcveerinch, a brave man whom the General had promoted only two days ago. "What happened to this man?" the General inquired. "Sir, his legs were ripped up badly by a swarm of rippers this morning, no one else saw it so we must take his word for it, seems he's gone a bit crazy because of it though sir." Leaning down, Dmitri took his hand, "James, it's me, the General; I'll personally make sure you are the first person on the valkyries, speaking of which, here they are." As James and the other guardsmen took their places Dmitri made his way over to where Sevetus and Adarax waited. As he went to enter the craft Adarax's gauntleted palm pushed him backwards. "Wha..." "Where are you going General?" "I'm leaving this planet obviously." "I think not, as your friend Sevetus has told me, you've been meddling in warp like powers." Dmitri's face slowly showed his recognition of what was happening. "You accuse me of dark service, that is impossible," "The facts say otherwise General, as such, we shall leave you here to burn along with the Xenos, though it makes me wonder, how long have you been in service to Khorne, I presume that is your God as this little blood bath here would have made quite the sacrifice." Dmitri stepped back horrified and confused, "And anyway, no one will notice your absence, you are after all a member of the imperial guard," "A member of the guard, is that all you see me as, the head of cannon fodder. Well let me tell you this, though you may think me a heretic my men know otherwise, you cannot silence them," "We need not, we will let the Orks do it for us, they are nothing important after all," "The Imperial Guard, unimportant, ha. If it were not for the guard you would not sleep safely at night, if not for the guard the very Gods of Chaos would be knocking on the doorstep of Earth, if not for the guard one thousand worlds would have fallen, the space marines would not exist. If not for the guard you could kiss your beloved Inquisition goodbye, for they would be no more, leave me then, but know this, the innocent die proud in the knowledge that others will falter where they have succeeded, and may you someday face what I have faced here, for you shall fall for your beloved Emperor." "Very well, so be it, blasphemy against the Emperor, may your soul burn quickly heretic." And, on his words, the Valkyrie lifted off to return to the fleet. As the Tyranids close in Dmitri looked down at the detonator and back up at the fading lights of the distant valkyries. Looking out at the Tyranids he uttered words into the vox that would haunt the Inquisitor for the rest of his short life, "Fire may clean the soul, but it cannot wipe out the truth." As the Tyranids got closer Dmitri pressed the button, the hill beneath him erupting in flame, and fire would be the last thing he saw. As Sevetus watched the inferno cover the planet from orbit he smiled to himself, his biggest threat had been eliminated, the path for Chaos was now clear, soon the Inquisition would fall to the dark Gods.