Valdane's Chronicles

Falling Skies - Part 3

The war council. Silencing the guns. The barrage.

With Skold and Tyr having joined the others, Kill-Team Fury clears the room and takes defensive positions – waiting for a possible second wave of Genestealers. Silence falls over the manor except for the tense cries and weeping panic from the few guess that still remain.

Having purged all of the xenos, Fury checks their weapons and the battle brothers make a few necessary repairs to their armour. Dariel attempts to administer medicae to Gerhardt, but the Black Templar shrugs him off.

Skold, crouching down over the slain Lord Governor, removes a few pieces of the noble’s tattered flesh with his combat knife. Ingesting Thorsholt’s blood and muscle, the Space Wolf attempts to gather some useful information from the Lord Governor’s genetic memory. Although still tainted by adrenaline and the pheromones of panic, fear, and pain, Thorsholt’s flesh informs the brothers that another group has assumed control in Lordsholm – having wrestled military control away from the Lord Governor.

Skold informs the Kill-Team and they make an educated guess that whatever chain-of-command still exists is likely to be found in the heavily defended House of Echoes.

Members of both the Lordsholm PDF as well as the mind-wiped Hollow Guard man the gothic tower’s perimeter emplacements and patrol for any signs of danger – keeping a close eye over the breached compound walls.

Approaching the tower, the Kill-Team is challenged by one of the emotionless Guard commanders, informing them that no access is permitted without the Lord Governor’s approval. Skold tells the guards that the Lord Govenor is dead – slain by xenos – and that the Deathwatch are assuming command.

The Hollow Guard step aside.

Entering the tower, a crowd rushes to greet the Astartes in the battle-scared entryway. Among them are members of the Hollow Guard, an Astropath Ascendant, a scattering of PDF Officers, and a ragtag group bearing hastily-constructed coloured armbands and sigils of the Inquisition. The acolytes number six, with their pilot absent.

The brothers realize that this Lordsholm’s war council – tired, unprepared, human, weak.

A PDF Major is the first to speak, making the symbol of the Aquila while doing so. He explains that he is in command of Lordsholm’s remain forces and he pledges the support of whatever resources that remain.

The Major explains that after the uprising broke out, the Lord Governor withdrew as many of the PDF forces as he could in order to secure the nobility in Magistria. Unfortunately, many PDF units were left behind in the city below – surrounded, outmanned, and undersupplied. Those still surviving are likely at the brink of collapse, having been without orders or reinforcements for days.

Furthermore, communication all over Cel remains a mess. The Major’s only hope at restoring any sense of order is a relay station deep inside Portica, currently held by the rebels. Lacking manpower, the PDF has been unable to retake the facility. The Major hopes that should the Kill-Team be able to liberate the facility, a broadcast of Astartes cyphers could prompt aid from nearby systems and help organize Lordsholm’s defence.—

Then, the old Astropath speaks, claiming that this on its own, however, is not enough to save the beleaguered world. In powerful visions, she has seen that Lordsholm will fall before dawn. The only way to prevent this calamity is to find the foul creature that has spawned this xenos infestation and kill it. Elsharna believes that it is this wretched beast’s psychic shadow that has clouded the minds of her astropaths over the last month and that its power only grows.

The acolytes add that whatever this creature is, it is acting as some kind of psychic node – exerting a kind of mental dominance over the rebel forces and Genestealers plaguing the city. Should the Kill-Team be able to kill it, not only will the rebels lose a major driving force, but Elsharna and her astropaths might be able to restore contact with Juno and other worlds.

Having combed through mountains of datastacks and paper records, the acolytes are reasonably confident that this creature’s lair is located somewhere in Fabrica. A pattern of killings a few months ago has given a few possibilities in the northern reaches of the district and Elsharna’s visions have confirmed this as well. The astropath warns that “beneath the son where the invisible air buns, the lord of darkness sleeps in death.”

It turns out that there are two ways into Fabrica – a seawater run off located along the coast and a large promethium pipeline bridge found deep inside Calistria. The rebels have yet to destroy the bridge, as they’re just as reliant on the fuel as the PDF.

The Major explains that should the Astartes head straight for Fabrica, they would be cut off from any potential PDF reinforcements. Unfortunately, the rebels firmly control the Calistria District – the area from which rebel leaders are launching their assaults. If the Kill-Team is careful enough, they can bypass the fighting, but will be alone once they reach their target.

Using their internal vox channels, the brothers debate their predicament. Although killing the Broodlord is of utmost importance, having PDF support in Fabrica and Calistria will be critical for success. Furthermore, as the relay station is on the way, reestablishing communications may help the PDF regain control.

Skold decides that their plan is to check on the Lordsholm PDF Base on their way through Portica, grab any reinforcements they can, and then retake the relay station. From there, after reestablishing a vox-net, they will punch through Calistria toward the Broodlord’s nest in Fabrica.

The Brothers gather a rag-tag unit of PDF and begin their journey down from Magistria.

The careful, rainy march to the Lordsholm PDF Base is slow but steady as the exhausted PDF takes their time to steer clear of rebel forces while negotiating the capital’s twisting, constricted streets.

Eventually, not far from the chapel where the majority of Fury landed, the Imperial forces reach their destination. There, the remnants of a bloodied and battered regiment are holding the ruined compound against a superior enemy force. To make matters worse, three heavy siege guns pound the walls, sending deafening roars through the night sky.

Thankfully, the Kill-Team has approached the battle from the rear, obtaining an excellent flanking position over the hundreds-strong rebel force. The brothers spread out while Skold orders the PDF to form a gun-line.

Tyr climbs to the second story of nearby ruined building, gaining a good vantage point over the rebel lines. Skold, in some of the ruins in front of him, switches over to his Metal Storm rounds. He issues the command for a Squad Advance and Gerhardt, Kor, and Dariel begin a rapid, silent approach. As they reach an adequate distance, Skold and Tyr open fire, shredding some of the gathered rebels with devastating force.

Gerhardt takes to the skies on bursts of flame, creating a fiery arc that illuminates the battlefield below. The rebels turn to fire on him but are unable to bring down the rapidly-moving assault marine.

Dariel opens fire on one of the siege gun crews, blowing a few of the loaders into a mist of blood and bone.

Kor forgoes shooting, choosing instead to close the distance to the other guns.

Gerhardt flares his jump-pack, accelerating downwards onto one of the siege guns’ decks. He crushes the top of the vehicle, pulping two of the crew under him. A roar from his chainsword makes quick work of the others.

Kor, having reached one of the guns, swings madly with his servo arm, tearing apart the vehicle’s gunners with a spray blood and sinew.

Dariel continues to fire at the other crew while Skold and Tyr wrack up a monumental body count. Already, some of the rebels are breaking – fleeing into the cold, rainy night.

Lending Kor a hand, Gerhardt charges his position, killing the remaining rebel crew members. Now free to interface with the vehicle’s machine spirit, Kor turns the gun and fires a massive shell into the gathered rebel vanguard. The massive, close-range explosion shakes even the heavily armoured battle brothers, blowing a wave of mud and rebel pieces across the entrenchments.

The last of the rebel forces turn to break. In turn, the PDF defenders rush from their walls to finish them off. Clubbing and gunning down any survivors, the PDF immediate sets out to scavenge all of the ammunition and supplies that they can.

Kill-Team Fury enters the base through one of the ruined walls and sees just how dire the situation has become. Wounded troops and shattered vehicles lay scattered everywhere about the base. Near one of the walls, a muddy mass grave caresses Lordsholm’s unsung heroes.

With the battle now over, dozens of guardsmen toss their lasgun charge packs into a few fires, hoping to regain some of their spent rounds.

Skold finally tracks down the commanding officer, an experienced, but under-equipped Lieutenant. The officer is thankful for the Astartes’ aid, however his expression fades as he realizes that they aren’t the relief force that he has been frantically waiting for. In fact, Skold explains his plan to retake the relay station, and he explains his need for a few of the officer’s remaining able-bodied men.

Reluctantly, the officer commands a few of his depleted squads forward. The men are battle-weary and rain soaked.

Skold attempts a rousing speech to lift the men’s spirits, but it soon becomes clear that their wills are broken. One man begins weeping openly, unable to face the continued horror of combat. A few of the others lead him quietly from the formation and take him behind a nearby vehicle shed. The crack-hiss of a single lasgun shot echoes throughout the base. Moments later, two troopers drag the man’s body toward the mass grave as yet more Landsholm blood mixes with the mud and rain.

Commandeering the sole remaining vehicle – a dilapidated transport truck – the Kill-Team orders their PDF to mount up. The Astartes follow on foot as they continue their journey to the relay station.

The convoy follows some of Portica’s canals and side roads into order to skirt around the majority of the fighting. Skold eventually halts the party some way from the relay, preferring to cover the remaining ground on foot and maintain the element of surprise.

Standing atop some ruins, Skold removes his helmet to take in the scene in front of him. Even through the rain, he can clearly make out shapes moving against the darkness. Breathing in the cold night air, he also smells the gathering of filthy heretics.

With his auspex, Kor confirms the Space Wolf’s assessment – a large enemy force has gathered at the relay ahead. The relay is well defended, with heavy stubber emplacements protecting the main approach. Furthermore, enemy forces on the rooftop keep watch over the surrounding ruins and streets. Another quick scan reveals that there seems to be only one way inside, a large fortified blast door.

The brothers quickly form a plan.

Again, the PDF fans out, stalking quietly through the ruins. Tyr joins them, acting as a strong-point in their thin, under-equipped line. The rest of the brothers make ready from a nearby ditch, each in turn priming one of their frag grenades.

Then, Skold orders the charge.

Dariel, Gerhardt, Kor, and Skold hurl their explosives. The projectiles detonate in a rolling barrage, catching the defenders off-guard. The majority of the rebel force is instantly vaporized in a righteous hail of shrapnel and smoke. Many of the survivors break only to be gunned down by the PDF.

A cry in praise of the Emperor sounds out from the PDF lines, as they can already taste the first real victory that they’ve seen in days.

The brothers quickly begin closing the distance to the relay station’s blast door while Tyr lays down a wave of suppressing fire over their heads – shredding the rooftop defenders.

His heavy bolter chugs, ripping through flesh, rockcrete, and plasteel.

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