Valdane's Chronicles

Falling Skies - Part 1

Planetfall. A warm welcome. Thorsholt, again.

Seventy-six hours ago, the Deathwatch received an Astropathic distress call from the world of Cel. Immediately, Kill-Team Fury was scrambled and put on high alert. Their subsequent journey aboard the Imperial Sword-Class Frigate, Juno’s Might, was swift. During the voyage, Fury’s Battle Brothers remained mostly apart from the rest of the crew, who in turn kept their distance. Their only real contact was with the vessel’s commander, Captain Galrite Haltreme, as he gave updates on the ship’s progress and assurances that the Kill-Team would reach Cel as quickly as his crew could manage.

Two hours ago, Juno’s Might entered the agri-world’s system and began its journey toward the primary bio-sphere.

Forty-seven minutes ago, Juno’s Might came within vox range of Cel and the captain attempted to raise local Imperial authorities, only to meet with static and white noise.

Eighteen minutes ago, Juno’s Might entered orbit above the planet. Almost immediately, a swarm of living bio-vessels emerged from behind the world’s primary moon, descending on the frigate and taking its crew by surprise. During the chaos, as Juno’s Might burned under a barrage of bio-plasma and pyro-spores, the majority of Kill-Team Fury managed to reach a drop pod and prep for launch. In a final act of duty, Captain Haltreme opened the hanger doors and fired all pods down toward the planet below. Moments later, the frigate’s hull buckled and broke under the jaws of one of the kraken.

Six minutes ago, the pods screamed down though Cel’s atmosphere, leaving a trail of fire across the sky. Inside, the marines that had made it onboard endured the brutal gravitational strain as only their enhanced bodies are capable of.

One minute ago, still kilometres above the surface of the world, Brothers Junon of the Storm Wardens, Kor of the Iron Hands, Dariel of the Flesh Tearers, and Gerhardt of the Black Templars watched as their pod’s rudimentary guidance system locked on to an Imperial transponder. In a brief burst of retro rockets, their pod changed direction, following the pulsing signal. With a deafening crack of thunder, the pod slammed into the ground, throwing dust and debris high into the air. Almost immediately, the Kill-Team’s harnesses released and the pod’s doors were blown open by explosive bolts.

Emerging from the damaged reentry vehicle, the Kill-Team finds that they have landed through the roof of an Imperial chapel, crashing down in the midst of pews, tiles, and statues. Through the hole made by the drop pod, the Battle Brothers can see that it is a dark rainy night – water pours down onto their power-armoured forms. Through shattered doors, Dariel makes out the vague outline of Lordsholm, an ancient and crumbling city, soaked in rain, and ablaze with uncontrolled fires stretching off in all directions. Outside, the crack of weapons fire and thump of explosions announce a battle in progress.

Acting on the frantic astropathic distress call, Fury’s original mission was to aid an Inquisitorial contingent deal with widespread unrest and to rout a possible Genestealer infestation. Now, unsure of the fate of the rest of their squad and of the current situation in Lordsholm, the Kill-Team reassesses their current state of affairs. As Adeptus Astartes of the legendary Deathwatch – proud Space Marines – they know no fear, venturing out into the night beyond.

In the darkness outside, roughly six hundred men of the 117th Lordsholm PDF are under assault from a large contingent of rebels, easily numbering in the thousands. The PDF have set up a makeshift barricade around the chapel from fallen masonry, dead guardsmen, and even a burnt out Chimera, creating a fortified position a few hundred metres across. Outside the barricade, the chapel’s graveyard and forecourt has been cleared into a killing ground; beyond this lurks the shadowy rain soaked ruins of Lordsholm and the rebel lines. The troopers’ breaths mark the cold night. As Lordsholm is without power, their battle weary faces are lit only by sporadic gunfire and the bursts of explosions. Along the Imperial defences, two soldiers race back and forth, trying to hold the line together.

The battle brothers race forward toward the Imperial lines as gunfire snaps overhead. The soldier in charge, a young sergeant, stops in place and makes the sign of the Aquila. He takes a knee and bows. Struck in awe by the almighty warriors of the Adeptus Astartes, he barely manages to explain the current situation.

From the sergeant, Kill-Team Fury learns that Lordsholm fell three days ago and that vox traffic has since been so unreliable and sporadic that the PDF truly doesn’t know the extent of what is happening.

However, before Fury can gather any more intel, a massive roar sounds from the rebel lines. The Sergeant curses under his breath and turns back to the Imperial barricades, shouting for his comrades to make ready.

Immediately, heavy fire rains down on the Imperial positions, as several rebel heavy stubber teams have found an elevated position on the edge of the kill zone in the tower of a ruined building. Already, their fire is racking up a toll of dead and dying

With the fire support, scores of rebels charge across the killing grounds, led by a massive, seven-foot tall figure. The man, rippling with muscle, bellows a challenge at the PDF lines.

Overwhelmed, the 117th’s left flank begins to collapse.

Furthermore, a group of rebels carrying demolition charges are attempting to blow a hole in the barricade – using their fellow troops to shield them from the Imperial fire while they set the explosives.

Kill-Team Fury makes ready.

Although each Battle Brother already instinctively knows his role, Junon – having assumed command – voxes out succinct orders in Astartes battle cant.

Gerhardt, on wings of fire, soars out over the battlefield, plunging headlong into the elevated stubber positions. His armour screams as he descends, unleashing an unholy roar to the rebels below. The impact of his colossal form pulps the first few targets as he sets to work on the others with his chainsword. The rebels fight back with improvised weapons, clubs, and bayonets, but are unable to damage Gerhardt’s thick ceramite and adamantium shell. Soon after, Gerhardt routs the machine gun teams, securing the high ground.

Back below, Junon accepts the rebel leader’s challenge. Ignoring the torrent of incoming fire, he wades out through the lines, squaring up with the rippling hulk. The man’s physique is impressive, even for a human, but Junon sets upon him with ease. With a single blow from his claymore, he severs the man’s head from his shoulders, sending it tumbling back into the charging rebel lines. Junon continues his assault, plowing through the attackers and further shattering their morale.

Near the centre of the Imperial line, the Techmarine Kor unleashes a punishing storm of bolter fire in an effort to stop the rebel demolition teams. Countless bolts detonate within the crowd, creating living shrapnel of flesh and bone. No matter how many are killed, more rise to take their place. The rebel’s numbers are overwhelming.

On the crumbling left flank, Brother Dariel attempts to support the faltering PDF troopers. He bellows inspirational words of duty and hate, but even with his amplified vox-grille, the din of battle is simply too loud for the beleaguered troopers to hear him. Fed up with mere words, Dariel becomes the living embodiment of the Emperor’s manifest destiny – stepping forward over the barricade and letting loose a hail of bolterfire. Inspired by the Astartes’ seeming invulnerability, the PDF rallies, throwing themselves into the fight with renewed fury. The rebels’ flanking assault buckles and falls apart.

As such, all along the barricades, the rebels begin to pull back and start a hasty retreat. Kor continues to pump fire into their backs as they flee.

The PDF lines cry out in victory.

Thanking the Astartes for their support, Sergeant Calistradi leads the Kill-Team back into the chapel, still dominated by the wreckage of their drop pod. He rights an overturned table, removes his helmet, and sets it down. Pulling out a map of the city, he briefs the Brothers as much as he can.

Calistradi explains that his scouts have learned that some kind of xenos has infected much of the population and that Lordsholm is now crawling with both rebels and aliens alike. Additionally, the forces still loyal to the Emperor are holding out in small, isolated pockets throughout the city, undermanned, underequipped, and without orders. Calistradi believes that the majority of PDF forces have fallen back to Thorsholt Manor, but the vox network is so disrupted that he has yet to actually confirm these reports.

Calistradi also tells the Kill-Team of rumours that members of the Inquisition landed on Cel a few days ago, but he doesn’t know their current statuses or locations. However, because reinforcements were contacted successfully, he suspects that the House of Echoes may still be in Imperial hands.

Still in awe of their presence, Calistradi asks from which chapter the Battle Brothers hail, as he is not able to recognize their livery. When the Brothers explain that they are members of the Deathwatch, Calistradi is both terrified, as well as incredulous.

The Sergeant stays silent for a moment before hesitantly asking the Kill-Team if there are any other reinforcements in orbit. Junon explains the grim reality of their arrival. Calistradi’s hopeful expression fades, knowing that there may be only little time before all hope is lost. He tells Fury that if they can reach the House of Echoes or Thorsholt Manor, there may still be a chance at a coordinated defence of the city.

He wishes them luck before they depart.

Eschewing the nearby PDF base and the Avalos space port, the Battle Brothers head directly to Magistria, hoping to get a better picture of the situation in Lordsholm.

Winding up the roads leading to Magistria, the Kill-Team sees that although it’s mostly untouched, the noble district is on war footing; most of the bridges leading into Magistria have been raised or heavily fortified. Thankfully, atop the cliffs overlooking Lordsholm’s bay, Thorsholt Manor and the House of Echoes still stand.

As they enter the district, many stop to watch the Battle Brothers pass, in awe of the Emperor’s legendary Adeptus Astartes. Eventually, they reach the manor, finding the front terrace filled with numerous empty coaches and autocarriages, seemingly abandoned. It appears that there has been an influx of nobles into Magistria, as wealthy bloodlines have escaped from the chaos of Lordsholm below.

Various envoys and groups parade the manor grounds, attempting to continue business as usual. However, it’s clear that this is merely a calm façade in front of unease and fear.

Around the Manor, hastily erected sandbag emplacements are manned by handfuls of exhausted-looking PDF. The Kill-Team doesn’t even need to taste their pheromones to know that these soldiers haven’t slept since the beginning of the uprising.

Walking past the awe-struck manor guards, Kill-Team Fury enters Thorsholt Manor.

Inside, affluent nobles come and go throughout the various halls and parlours, although their clothes are disheveled, hair matted, and makeup fading. A faux-joyous air is maintained, as the guests refuse to accept the crisis plaguing their city. Upon seeing the Astartes enter the building, many are shocked – one noblewoman even faints. From above, a small servo-cherub hovers down to fan her with its tiny mechanical wings.

The Brothers are informed that the Lord Governor, Perian Thorsholt is in the largest of his atriums upstairs, holding court.

Heading up the ornate spiral staircase, the Battle Brothers find Thorsholt’s banquet chambers. The room is just as opulent as the rest of the manse – massive chandeliers hang from the rafters high above, although the power is sporadic. Surprisingly, the centerpiece table is again full with upwards of fifty guests.

The servitor musicians to the side of the room are deactivated – possibly an effort to save power and lessen the strain on the manor’s separate generatoriums. As such, a tense silence hangs over the banquet.

The Lord Governor Thorsholt notices the Kill-Team enter the room and is immediately stricken by their power-armoured presence. Thorsholt quickly rises from the table, assuring his guests that nothing is the matter.

Taking Kill-Team Fury aside, Thorsholt speaks in hushed tones – pleading with the Astartes to conduct whatever business they have away from his guests. According to Thorsholt, many of the nobles present have no idea what is truly transpiring in the city below, and that the calm here is tenuous at best.

Although furious with the state of the assembly – considering the situation outside – Junon agrees to conduct the meeting in Thorsholt’s private chambers, hoping to gain his cooperation.

As the Lord Governor leads the Astartes from the banquet hall, the feast turns into a nightmare as a multitude of Genestealers drop from the rafters high above. The guests panic, screaming and dashing about the room. The Lord Governor runs as well, heading for his rear chambers. One of the Genestealers separates from the pack and takes chase. The rest go to work among the nobles.

Without fear, the Battle Brothers spread out into a standard Codex attack pattern – immediately unleashing a devastating deluge of bolter fire. The explosive bolts ripple around the room, destroying fine tapestries, marble sculptures, and foul xenos visages.

Brother Gerhardt switches to his chainsword, engaging a few of the beasts in close combat. One of them manages to land a solid blow, tearing a rend in the Black Templar’s ceramite pauldron. Gerhardt counter-attacks, tearing through the xenos with reckless abandon.

Likewise, Junon charges another of the beasts, pining it against an ornate wall with his claymore. The snaring alien hisses while trying to free itself. Thrashing about, it inflicts negligible damage before the Storm Warden manages to end its miserable existence.

Together, Gerhardt and Junon surround another of the Genestealers as it shreds the Lord Governor’s guests. With successive strikes, they cleave the creature in half – from its snarling, elongated skull, to its chitinous, exoskeletal pelvis.

Across the chamber, Brother Dariel dodges around the fleeing nobles, ending up cornered by two of the Tyranid organisms. Thankfully, he quickly manages to shred one of them with his bolter before being set upon by the other. Using his Reductor’s drill, the Flesh Tearer tunnels into the alien’s chest, ripping apart its exoskeleton and foul organs, spraying his bright white helm with viscous purple ichor.

Kor lashes out with his Servo-Arm, smashing into one of the creatures’ faces. The blow kills the Genestealer outright, spraying its brains across the chamber’s fine tapestries. The Iron Hand then helps Dariel finish off another of the abominations.

Having terminated all visible threats, the Kill-Team turns to pursue the last of the xenos filth – the lone Genestealer that had left to chase after the Lord Governor.

Making haste, the Battle Brothers head for the banquet chamber’s rear hallway. Turning the corner, they arrive to find the beast standing over Thorsholt’s dismembered corpse – his organs spread across the marble floors.

The Genestealer almost seems to smile, knowing its work is done.

In unison, Kill-Team Fury raises their bolt-weapons and erases the creature from the face of Cel.

Comments

enentol

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.