Defense of the Ur'lan Catacombs
Loyalists Involved In The Conflict
Traitors Involved In The Conflict
Master of Signal Bardiel Septus was still reeling from the sudden and brutal loss of his Praetor as he somberly organized what remained of the company's heavy infantry down into the underdark of the Ur'lan Catacombs. His and Delegatus Xander Levinius' victory at Gamlin pass and subsequent capture of the enemy Raven Guard Praetor had proven to be the undoing of his lord, and he cursed his own weakness of being that he did not insist more upon bringing his force to bear alongside him. However, for all his foresight and cunning Praetor Zeruel Gendor was also curt, abrasive, and brutishly sure of his own superiority; the consequences of the criticism of his methods ranged anywhere from a fusillade of veiled insults to a trip to the apothecary given his mood. Gendor had insisted upon him and his Grave Wardens overseeing the interrogation and incarceration personally, and escorted the captive to a camp beyond the walls of the pass, leaving Septus to continue the defense while the Emperor's loyal hammered at allied lines. While the pass held strong, communications Septus received indicated that the lines were breaking, and the pass had to be abandoned lest the enemy inevitably surround them. They had to fall back, and the proximity of the Ur'Lan Catacombs made it the best choice while they waited for vox from Gendor on how to proceed. The catacombs contained a stockpile of the Death Guard's ammunition, chemicals, and toxins, allowing the company a chance to resupply,and potentially catch the foe in a virulent trap.
The Praetor's signal was to never come, and en route the company regrouped with what remained of Gendor's fleeing honor guard, who shared the grim news of the Praetor's fate. The prisoner escaped, and they said it appeared as if a black angel had descended upon their lord and his terminator guard, a swirling plume of cutting death and feathered wing. They were the only survivors.
Septus was finishing ushering the last of his volkite team into the maw of the catacombs when the roar of a jetbike announced the return of a brother he had taken for dead, a man he had once called Praetor before his failures on Istvaan III.
"Graves! Macabran Graves!" said Bardiel, "We assumed you were a dead man when none of your vanguard returned to the pass. It seems your tenacity knows no bounds."
"And it will amount to nothing, Master of Signal" Graves responded, "if we do not make our stand here. The loyalist scum are on the move and will be upon this place soon. Has the Praetor already gone inside? I need to brief him on my report."
"Gendor has fallen Graves," said Septus numbly, "at camp Delta 239. The men referred to his assailant as a black angel."
Graves grew silent, and Septus could tell he was shaken by the news. After a long moment he said "If that is the reality, then we have no choice but to continue inexorably forward. It seems Gendor's skill finally failed to match his hubris. We will not make the same mistakes. An angel you say? Here we will test the depths of that divinity. As the senior centurion here, I'm taking command. I trust you have no objections?"
"I have followed you to hell and back before Graves," said Septus, "and I would do it again."
" Get plasma in the hands of our finest, and assemble a volkite team. We'll blast this 'angel' until there's nothing left but black soot."
"And you sir?" inquired Septus.
"These catacombs hold more than merely ordnance and supplies Bardiel;" said Graves "I will descend farther down where the toxins are held and prepare a little chem bath- let's see if an angel can rot."
"Culverin team move, take that bunker!" shouted Bardiel Septus into the darkness, "enemy picked up down the hallway, 10 o'clock! Looks like servitors..."
He noticed the unmistakable blue pulse surrounding the weapon harnesses of the automata, too alike the combi-weapons in the hands of the seekers he accompanied; he put out a hand to stay their advance around the corner into the central corridor of the floor. The central bunker only had room for 10 astartes the cover hopefully buying his assault marines the time they needed to organize and consolidate their rear position.
The heavy astartes lumbered forward and took firing position behind the walls of the bunker, spraying erratic laser fire down the western corridor and into the mechanized nulls, detonating some in a violent eruption of sparks and twisted metal. Sergeant Ezekiel Krowlin peered out the eastern opening and into the large, dark room beyond, only to be met by heavy bolter fire, exploding shells deflected by both wall and his own finely wrought armor. Meanwhile, bright blue light briefly engulfed the western interior of the bunker as plasma death from the thralls ended 2 of the grim astartes. "We're being flanked centurion!" bellowed the sergeant, Septus just on the other side of the south wall, "Heavy weapons batteries on the east side, and we heard commotion beyond the northern blast door. No sign of astartes yet. Order's sir?"
Just then, the door was blasted into rubble and militia grenadiers in ancient, ornate battle plate poured into the breach.
"Volkite team, patch up that breach!" shouted Signal Master Septus, cognis signum whirring "Seekers, give them some cover fire, lay tempest shells on those servitors!"
Under the illumination of their centurion's signum, the remaining culverins unerringly tore into the grenadiers in a hellstorm of searing light, each one ripped apart in turn to by weight of the destruction before them. The few that remained fled in sight of the devastation while the volkite bearers continued to be hammered upon by plasma and bolter fire, even as Septus' seekers whittled down the servitors and advanced upon their position.
Meanwhile, the rocketing sound of jump packs alerted Septus to the arrival of his rear assault team, whom he directed with a wave to continue down the long rear corridor; it should empty out into the large open room east of the bunker, and was a prime opportunity for the enemy to get behind them. As the assault squad approached the end of the corridor, they were met with grenade launcher fire as grenadiers from around the corner opened fire. Shells bounced harmlessly off the astartes power armor as they engaged the mortal men with chainsword and pistol fire, the force of momentum from their jump packs crushing a grenadiers chest. The men hold fast despite their losses, and Septus trusted the astartes could get the job done as he continued to direct the ever depleting culverin squad against both servitor and artillery, as the seekers advanced to hold the new ground, seeking out the enemy command squad to sever their leadership. As they surged past the blasted mechanical remains of the servitors and rounded the corner, they came upon their quarry- the embellishment of these men's armor and the distinguished presence of their commander clear signs of their import.
No "black angel," it seems these men instead were the seekers' charge. They unloaded their weapons' store of plasma in a devastating and calculated torrent of azure death, each bolt finding it's mark and liquefying steel, flesh, and bone alike. Where moments before stood proud, veteran warriors of the militia now only ash remained. What remained of their force, now bereft of proper leadership, scattered and fell to the remaining implacable astartes. Bardiel Septus knew there would be more coming, and he hoped that whatever time he had just bought for Graves would help see them out of this alive.
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