Valdane's Chronicles

Oblivion's Edge - Part 2

The last stand at Avalos.

The acolytes’ servo skull continues to ping – providing only seconds of warning before the first few Genestealers climb out from their hiding spots under the St. Malban Bridge. Leaping up over the rockcrete and plasteel barriers, they surround the Lordsholm refugees and their Astartes defenders. The Battle Brothers of Kill-Team Fury fan out, spreading a front of black and silver around their protectorate.

From the far end of the bridge, two massive Tyranid warriors stride forward, pushing through the ruined Portica streets bordering the canal.

Behind the Imperials, their Chimeras begin to fire on the advancing elements of the Tyranid swarm. Sounds of skittering chitin and heavy weapons fire fills Cel’s sickly, spore-choked skies.

Dariel quickly takes to the fight, plunging headfirst into the first few Genestealers. With righteous fury, he manages to eliminate a few of their numbers. Still, more leap forward, quickly overwhelming the Flesh Tearer. Although Dariel fights back valiantly, the Tyranids’ rending claws bite deep, shearing through his power armour and tearing away his helm.

Skold provides his Battle Brother covering fire, striking a few of the Genestealers and allowing the bloodied Dariel to temporarily withdraw. With strips of tattered flesh hanging from his face, the Apothecary retreats back to the Imperial refugees and to patch himself up.

Tyr – standing atop one of the Chimeras – unleashes his first few volleys. No longer able to ignore the ‘Low Ammunition’ warning sounding within his helm, he yells to the PDF vehicle crew below him, beckoning them to bring more rounds forward. Too occupied with their own fight, the crew is unable to respond. Instead, Tyr opens the top hatch of the transport and drops inside. Scrambling, he grabs one of the few remaining drums of bolt shells. Heaving himself back atop the Chimera, he slams the fresh drum home. His heavy bolter chatters back to life.

Meanwhile, Gerhardt has rocketed skyward, heading toward the powerful Tyranid Warriors. Hovering meters over their heads, he draws their attention. Flying in and out of the nearby ruins, the Black Templar swiftly dodges the fresh living ammunition being fired his way. Shooting back with his bolt pistol, he takes the odd chunk out of his foes.

Having hidden under the bridge at the beginning of the fight, Uzas senses his time to strike. Emerging up and behind the distracted Warriors, he tosses two primed krak grenades. Burning his jump pack to put some distance himself and the explosive charges, he falls back to his fellow Astartes.

The krak grenades soar toward the Warriors, veering slightly wide. Although the detonations do considerable damage to the large and powerful creatures, they aren’t the knock-out punch that was expected. The Warriors – now sensing a more important target than the Black Templar overhead – start making their way down the bridge.

In the meantime, the Genestealers continue their attack. From overhead, Uzas spots them encircling the mostly helpless Lordsholm exiles. He plunges downwards, slamming hard into the already broken asphalt. Skold and Dariel charge in with him. Together, with a combination of holy bolters and screaming chainswords, they tear apart the Genestealers.

Ahead of them, Kor meets the Warriors’ advance, delivering a torrent of flaming promethium from his flamer. The Tyranid creatures instantly ignite. Although covered in a raging inferno, they ignore the damage to their exoskeletons and continue their advance.

From his raised position, Tyr easily spots the flaming monstrosities. He squeezes the trigger of his weapon, managing to catch one of the beasts in the face. The volley of heavy bolt shells blows apart the creature’s head, bursting it like a ripe fruit and scattering its blasphemous flesh across the bridge.

Taunting the other beast, Gerhardt maneuvers the remaining Warrior into the Kill-Team’s line of fire. With combined arms, Fury finishes the fight.

The Astartes secure the far end of the bridge, allowing the refugees to cross safely. Then, the Chimeras traverse one by one – delicately maneuvering around the damaged pieces of roadway. The Imperials and Astartes climb back into and onto their transports – resuming their flight from the doomed city. The nervous crews gun their throttles, hoping to put distance between themselves and the swarm – now only a few minutes away.

Finally, the Kill-Team enters Avalos Spaceport. Thankfully, the small PDF garrison they had left behind a few nights previous has been reinforced with fresh troops and two Tarantula sentry guns.

Among the spaceport’s ruined storage yards and wrecked vehicles, a small crew works feverishly to make the final repairs needed to the sole remaining landing pad. Atop the delicate structure, Corvath readies the acolytes’ Cutter.

As the desperate convoy closes in on the landing platform, a sharp vox message crackles into the Kill-Team’s helms. The man’s voice is blunt and matter-of-fact. He identifies himself as Captain Grayson, commander of the Storm Trooper detachment accompanying Cobb’s fleet. Grayson informs them that the situation has grown even direr. The massive spread of the Tyranid spore cloud means that Grayson’s shuttles can no longer stage re-entry directly into Lordsholm. Instead, they have to begin their approach from roughly a hundred kilometres to the south, in the Valshari Mountains. Grayson and a platoon of his best men are now en route in Valkyrie troop transports. He estimates they will be there in less than twenty minutes.

Unfortunately, the Kill-Team knows that the swarm will arrive at the spaceport in less than half that time. Over the crackling vox, Grayson advises them to hold the landing platform as long as possible – promising that he will be there as quickly as manageable.

The Astartes quickly begin their defence preparations.

Surrounding the landing zone is a maze of shattered and ruined buildings stretching off into the rest of the district. Any open ground is littered with debris, shattered transport containers, and burnt-out vehicles.

The Astartes quickly reposition their Chimera transports and the space port’s small garrison to cover the surrounding roadways and advances. Furthermore, the Inquisitorial acolytes lend their support, offering to help hold the line.

As the Kill-Team continues to make their final preparations, the first rumblings of the approaching swarm sound in the distance. The sky grows darker as the spores thicken, and caustic bio-matter begins to fall like rain, burning exposed skin and pitting metal. The clicking and chittering of a thousand insectoid limbs begins to drown out all other sounds. Finally, the first creatures burst into the landing zone, crashing over the ruins like a wave of nightmares.

Skold yells to make ready.

Tyr is the first to fire – utilizing his vantage point atop the central landing pad.

Beside him, Skold directs the Imperial forces. Using his autosenses to see through the haze, smoke, and surrounding fires, he skillfully commands the defenders to plug any gaps and to reposition their forces to meet the oncoming threats.

Dariel and Kor move to secure the northern rail yard, killing the first few waves of Gaunts with fire and fury.

Gerhardt and Uzas take the south. With the aid of a Chimera and a Tarantula, they manage to destroy dozens of the rampaging creatures.

As the battle rages on, it becomes obvious that the Tyranid numbers will soon overwhelm Lordsholm’s last defenders.

Eventually, the PDF and their Chimeras are overrun – buried under a ruthless tide of Tyranid organisms and downed by potent bio-weapons fire. Hoping to buy precious time for Captain Grayson’s arrival, a few remaining troopers charge out to meet the attacking hordes, delivering a handful of demolition charges deep into the enemy’s heart.

Skold scans the horizon, hoping to spot Grayson’s salvation. Seeing only spores and ash, he curses.

As the Tyranid numbers continue to grow, the Astartes detonate one of the space port’s fuel trucks, sending a rippling, flaming shockwave across the staging area. Trampling over their own flaming corpses, the creatures continue their relentless advance.

To the east, countless Genestealers emerge from Portica’s ruins – led by a fearsome Broodlord. Although Dariel and Kor try to hold them off, Dariel is again overwhelmed by the the creatures’ rending claws and scything talons. The Genestealers tear deep through his armour, spilling the Flesh Tearer’s blood and viscera over the space port’s ruined ground. Clutching his exposed organs and forcing them back into his body, Dariel pulls back from the front lines. Kor delivers a few bursts of burning promethium to buy them a handful of seconds to withdraw. Helping carry the wounded Apothecary back to the landing pad, Kor also helps protect Junon’s recovered geneseed.

Facing a massive influx of Gaunts and Warriors on the southern flank, Uzas and Gerhardt are also forced to fall back. They jump back in succession, laying down covering fire for each other with a storm of bolt shells and explosives.

Seeing the chaos unfold around him, Skold orders a Codex Pattern Bolter Assault – calling for his brothers to enact a rapid tactical retreat. Using overlapping fields of fire, Kill-Team Fury falls back, climbing to their final defence positions around the Cutter.

Suddenly, out of the swirling spore clouds above, Tyranid Gargoyles drop down into the fray.

Gerhardt is the first to react, bursting upward on a jet of flame and with his chainsword roaring. Tearing his way through the xenos masses, the Black Templar begins a deadly dance. Blood and ichor starts to rain.

Skold aims skyward, firing some of his last few bolt shells into the flock of creatures.

Tyr, unfazed by the fight overhead, continues to punish the encroaching masses. His barrel smokes red-hot as it chugs through more and more precious rounds.

Still, it isn’t enough.

More and more waves of creatures appear on the horizon, skulking up through the shattered city. With nowhere left to go, the Battle Brothers are completely overwhelmed.

Fighting back to back, the Astartes try to hold their ground.

Even the refugees are forced to take up arms – grabbing whatever rifles, pistols, or improvised weapons they can find. With tooth and blade, bolter and chainsword, they desperately keep the Gaunts at bay.

Then, without warning, the fragile land pad lurches to the side.

Looking over the barricades, the Astartes spot a Tyranid Warrior climbing up toward them.

Dariel readies a krak grenade – consecrating and anointing the blessed explosive with his own flesh and blood. The Flesh Tearer curses at the snarling beast rampaging towards him, hurling the armour-piercing charge into its maw. The grenade detonates with a shattering blast, peppering the defenders with fragments of the creature’s flesh and bone.

However, even with the Kill-Team’s heroic efforts, the Tyranids breach the perimeter – threatening the acolytes’ Cutter and the very lives of the Imperial refugees.

Skold voxes to Captain Grayson and the Valkyries, desperate to know their status. Receiving no answer, doubt trickles into his mind. The Space Wolf wonders if he should call off the evacuation and save Cobb’s resources.

The Gaunts continue to pour up over the landing pad’s sides and over the Imperial barricades.

The Astartes hurl a final battle cry into the darkened sky.

Then, as all seems lost, a faint whine of engines sounds over the din of battle. Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, two Vulture Gunships scream overhead and unleash a torrent of missiles into the Tyranids, lighting up the edge of the landing zone in a curtain of flame. A moment later, three Valkyries appear out of the gloom, their door gunners hammering the encroaching masses with heavy bolter fire.

As the first transport lands on the platform, a man dressed in Storm Trooper carapace leaps down from it and salutes. Captain Grayson greets the Astartes, cracking a few sly jokes while simultaneously ushering everyone aboard his transports.

The Kill-Team and refugees hastily depart, leaving the flaming, ruined city in their wake.

Lordsholm is no more.

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