The small siren barked and whined like a wounded dog, expressing its displeasure at being thrashed about. It was redundant – even without the senses given to him by the Space Wolves, Brother Skold Haariksson was well aware of the situation at hand.
Only moments before, he and Brother Reinor Tyr had made it onto the last drop pod aboard the frigate Juno’s Might. Although separated from the rest of Kill-Team Fury, they had managed to climb aboard the remaining vessel before Captain Haltreme’s final desperate heroism had fired them toward Cel.
The pod’s main engine ignited, propelling their craft through the wreckage of the frigate coming apart around them. The rough jolt had thrown Tyr against the ceiling, jamming him up among the support struts.
His fight to strap in had been frantic and fruitless – rendered difficult and slow by his massive backpack ammunition supply. Hanging half in his restraints, his armoured form thrashed about – smashing back and forth after every change in velocity.
Fighting through the intense gravitational strain that would have killed any normal man, Skold grabbed hold of his comrade, pulling him back to the ground.
“I didn’t know that the Imperial Fists had wings, Brother.” Skold bellowed through the vox.
Even over the roaring engine, tearing atmosphere, and rattle of their mag-locked gear, Skold could hear Tyr laugh.
The blazing cacophony of reentry had already begun. Now, only a few inches of ceramite and adamantium kept the two Astartes from the fiery inferno surrounding their craft. Temperature gauges on their displays chimed and squawked, denoting the massive heat spike. The intense shaking had rendered their vision a blur – a smear of angled struts and flashing lights.
Skold let out a snarl.
With only a scant few seconds before breaking Cel’s atmosphere, Tyr secured his grav-harness – not wanting a repeat occurrence of his short flight.
Still, more sirens and timers announced an imminent planetfall.
The impact had been softer than expected, and it was soon obvious why.
The pod’s explosive bolts fired with a surprisingly dull thump, opening the doors slightly and unleashing a deluge of cold, polluted water. The torrential surge rushed in, quickly filling the vessel.
With a series of instinctual blink-commands, the two battle brothers checked their environmental seals – luckily intact.
Freeing themselves from their grav-harnesses, the two set to work – first to figure out which way was up. Their Lyman’s Ears made quick work of that. Righting themselves in the pitch-black water, they grabbed their gear.
Together, they pushed opened one of the pod’s five doors, dragging the petal-like opening through the silt.
Their augmented vision cut through the dark, murky waters. They had landed off the coast, but thankfully not far. The fires of Lordsholm were close. Silently pounding across the floor of the bay, they started to close the distance.
“How many?,” Skold voxed internally, leaping back into the cover of the ruined building.
“Thirty, forty, maybe more,” Tyr replied, crouched – his helmet a silent, terrifying visage of black ceramite.
The two had been making steady progress through Portica – the massive district of storage yards and administratum officios. Now, progress had slowed. Here, the rebels were out in force. Tyr had settled in, watching the patrols while Skold had flanked their position for a closer look.
“Some kind of rearguard, it seems,” the Imperial Fist continued, “like they’re amassing for an assault. Disorganized, but they have the numbers.”
Skold checked his bolter, switching over to his magazine of metal storm rounds. Each was tipped with a proximity trigger, allowing them to detonate slightly before impact and butcher a crowd with clouds of shrapnel.
“A push on the Manor? I could see lights on the cliffs above,” the Space Wolf stated.
“It matters not.” Tyr cocked his heavy bolter.
They had finally reached Magistria, passing over one of the heavily defended bridges and deep into the district. The looks from the PDF had been both astonishment and fear – in equal measure.
For the last hour, their target had been Thorsholt Manor. Although sporadic, Tyr’s helmet had been registering the presence of other Astartes forces. It seemed that some of Fury had made it planet-side after all.
As they got closer to the manse, their suspicions had been confirmed. A young sergeant had relayed that some of the other Battle Brothers were already inside.
The conversation was interrupted by gunfire – the steady chugging of bolters from the banquet chambers above. The roaring of chainswords and hideous alien snarls soon followed.
The guests’ panic and screams filled the manor.
Skold and Tyr broke into a sprint, bursting through the front doors and slamming their way up the ornate staircase, shattering the marble beneath them.