“THE LOYALIST SPACE MARINES RISK FINDING OUR LOCATION! GO, JUZAN, AND DESTROY THEM ALL! I HAVE ENTRUSTED TO YOU THREE OF MY FINEST MECHANICAL BEASTS, DRACODEUS XIV, GARUDA XIII AND DABURA VII! USE THEM WELL AND DESTROY ALL FOES!”
Ju’zan’s mechanical arm began to fold into its combat stance, whirling chainsaw blades extending from his wrist.
“A transmission, exalted dark one, from the leader of the enemy! Intercepted by our advance units!” Acheron’s dais raised to a level where he was at eye-level to the others.
“Space Marines! Battle Brothers! We have tracked down the traitors faster than those imbeciles of the Grey Knights and will destroy them in noble crusade! The Great Spoon of Dorn has languished too long in the shadows but now we, the Order Cuillerian, will prove our name as Black Templars, as sons of Dorn, as-”
“SILENCE THAT FOOL.”
“It will be done!”
“In the name of Dorn, BATTLE BROTHERS, ATTACK! WITH THIS RELIC IN HAND WE ARE INVINCIBLE!”
The Spoon of Dorn was not, as Imperial urban myth held, an actual eating-implement of the Primarch of the Imperial Fists. It was a shard of armour dating back to the Horus Heresy passed down through the years as a symbol of the invincible nature of the Sons of Dorn.
For Father Calimachus, this was small comfort after the Orks had taken to calling him Father Spoon, and the name was now well-known for the Templars had been bested time and again.
But this time would be different. The Orks had discovered the Grey Knights and they were slaughtering each other to a standstill, which meant it fell to the Templars to fulfil a holy duty and wipe the Chaos slime from this icy world
The battlefield that Calimachus had picked by carefully chosen information given to the enemy was a stretch of farmland that some brave long-dead souls had tried to resettle after the great scourging. It was there that they would see their deaths avenged by the Imperium.
The first shot of the battle was fired by the Vindicator tank Siegehammer, which missed the ruins of the farmhouse, firing high over the Mechanical Beast Dabura VII and throwing a plume of smoke and ice high into the grey sky.
On the other end of the Black Templars’ line, the Land Raider Nobility in Death crashed through the low fence behind which the Chaos ranks stood and unleashed every weapon it had to no effect at the Khedoran Obliterators, before from its depths charged a mass of Space Marines, through a wall of demonic fire from their guns, and one of the lumbering constructs was cut down in single combat by the Emperor’s Champion himself.
The sight of this noble victory, though, was not enough to help the rest of the Templars find their mark; while hails of bullets filled the sky, they all fell wide of the enemy. Missiles exploded flatly on Dabura’s armour plates, and the giant monster slowly began to rise from its slumber.
Unleashed, unchained, Dabura VII marched forward, each footstep sinking deep into the packed snow as the air around it was warped with heat-haze. A single glowing red eye in a half-shadowed helmet flared alight and it had found prey.
A laser-like beam, black-and-red, flickered like lightning across the ice field and where it left a deep scoremark in the snow, moments later blindingly bright red flames flared up and when they cleared, two Space Marines were nothing but ash. Dabura’s gun arm slumped down, panels opening up along its sides, and a cloud of steam vented out.
Seeing the Khedorans in melee combat with an apparently uncountable horde, Garuda charged in itself, cutting three of the enemy down with a single swipe of its giant fist. It readied itself for another crushing blow, but too slowly; one of the Templars planted a power fist deeply into the mechanical beast’s hull, shattering a power cell and engulfing the whole melee in a demonic inferno which melted all before it; the remaining Khedoran was atomised, a Space Marine reduced to nothing but slag and of the two cultists of the Cult of Bardos that were too close to the blast, nothing remained.
The path suddenly clearer, the Iron Masks opened fire on a squad of Assault Marines flying high to relieve their beleaguered brothers. Two were knocked from the sky as broken corpses from plasma and bolter fire, but they carried on undaunted.
The second squad of Iron Masks saw their chance, too; the enemy’s Land Raider was bogged down in the fence, distracted. They ran from their transport’s metal walls and unleashed melta-fire into its side armour, knocking its weapons offline and fusing the tracks to the vehicle’s hull.
In a blasted pine forest, Ju’zan thought he had seen a chance to close on the enemy’s siege tank and ordered his retinue – handpicked Gamia Warriors – to charge
Charging entrenched Space Marines was a miscalculation. One of the Gamia was cut to ribbons by bolter fire, and Ju’zan called off the charge.
Siegehammer fired again, and this time did not miss. The Gamians were reduced to nothing but a smear of blood and cinders as a shell intended to destroy bunkers exploded in their midst; but from the smoke emerged Ju’zan, a field of dark energy surrounding him.
Even the boltguns of the Tactical Marines could not lay him low, but his fight was not with them.
The Emperor’s Champion, Couteau, with the oily blood of the Khedorans and the ichor of Garuda coating his armour in a purple-grey patina, charged with a prayer on his lips at the traitor marines before him. With great sweeping movements, wild slashes that were all these animals deserved, they began to fall. Five, in total, killed before his blade was met by one of their number’s own. It was enough. Traitor blood had been spilled. His vows were met.
Nobility In Death’s gunner opened up on the Chaos forces swarming the tank, but nothing seemed to work. Without the auguries of the targeter systems, the guns would not strike true.
Chaplain Calimachus knew what had to be done after seeing the carnage Dabura had wreaked on his men; the Mechanical Beast was his foe. Weathering the storm of witchfire its gun put out, his retinue of Assault Marines charged and tried to clamp melta-bombs to the machine’s hull.
Yet Dabura was canny. Tentacles licked out from its armour to remove the charges, and they detonated impotently around it.
The Iron Masks finally destroyed Nobility In Death, one climbing onto the vehicle’s roof and firing a meltagun straight into the pilot’s control panel.
Their brethren, though, were unable to make ground against Couteau; the warrior was like some horrific angel of vengeance carving them down one-by-one.
Ju’zan knew this, had seen this, and knew what needed doing. Before the battle, he had had Acheron divine the nature of Couteau’s fighting-style, every bit of information the Sorceror could find, and had it shown to him in visions.
He charged, and challenged the Emperor’s Champion to single combat.
“COUTEAU! THIS IS WHERE YOUR FAITH WILL LEAVE YOU! A BROKEN CORPSE ON A DEAD WORLD!”
“No, heretic. Not one step more will you-”
Couteau’s brain took a few moments to properly parse the fact a whirling chainsaw was stuck through his heart and biting downwards.
The Emperor’s Champion fell to the ground, cleaved almost in two by Ju’zan’s mechanical blade.
And yet the victory was affecting Ju’zan, too. His thoughts were losing focus, his body felt distant.
Something was wrong. Yet right. He could feel the warp overtaking him.
“I… I HAVE A FORM THAT SUITS THIS POWER!”
Where once there had been a bloodied, charred Chaos Space Marine now stood the figure that the Templars had been fighting to stop returning. Imperator Magnae Tenebrae. The Great General of Darkness, the demon which had destroyed the noble chapter of the Mykene Legion and corrupted it into the Hell Army.
The Space Marines turned their attention to the nascent Demon Prince, stabbing at it to little effect.
“YES… YES! DESTROY! DESTROY EVERYTHING! DRACODEUS, GO! BURN THEM TO THE GROUND!”
The dragon that had scoured the skies of the ice world before was suddenly upon the Space Marines, melting a whole squad and the trees around it in a lake of molten lead.
As if oblivious to the carnage around them, Calimachus and his retinue continued to try to plant mines on Dabura, the Mechanical Beast’s snipping, grasping pincer catching the slowest warriors each time they tried a pass on it. Each time the blades closed, another Space Marine was cut in half, but they too were finally making a mark. One of its shoulder plates was hanging uselessly, its gun was smoking and inactive
Victory would be theirs.
Siegehammer acquired a new target and fired. An entire unit of Iron Masks vanished, like the Gamia before them.
Calimachus saw the final two of his retinue bisected by the Mechanical Beast, and paused, waiting for an opening in its movements. None was forthcoming.
Many of the traitors were in full rout but that was no way enough. Their vile mechanical monstrosities were still running rampant and the dragon could not be ignored.
And no-one had even considered the rabble of renegades and scum lurking in the backline to move out as needed.
Dracodeus XIV continued its flight over the battlefield, diving towards Siegehammer and firing great lances of energy into its side which ignited its magazine, leaving the Vindicator a smoking wreck. Pulling shards of the tank up with it in its claws, it launched them at another squad of Black Templars in the forest, following the crushing metal plates with another gout of molten metal.
In his melee, the Great General was still coming to terms with its physical form. It had cut down almost all of the pitiable enemies around it, but the last proved elusiv
Brother Glykos dodged the Demon’s blows, taking each as its own challenge like a perverse training exercise. He had landed it solid blows with his power fist, but it had shrugged them off and continued to cut his brothers down one by one.
The last survivors of the Black Templars unleashed everything they had at the dragon tearing their ranks apart whole units at a time. The Space Marines fired until their guns ran dry, and yet nothing could hit the creature.
Glykos, now alone, landed another crushing punch on the Demon’s face, warping its metallic hide. But yet it still came, inexorable, implacable, indestructible. The doom of a chapter now turning its attention to the sons of Dorn.
Dracodeus had, singlehandedly, crippled the Black Templars; its weapons had torn three whole squads apart and now nothing remained.
Back around the farm-buildings, Dabura finally found Calimachus’ weakness; the Chaplain had been bleeding from a wound sustained early in the fight and had been tending to a single side in his moves.
The Mechanical Beast saw all weakness as an opportunity and sliced the Black Templar in half with the same bored, methodical brutality as all the others.
And, on the other side of the battlefield, The Great General of the Darkness had finally found its feet. The wasp, the tick that had been bothering it for so long was impaled on a sword of burning energy twice its size.
And with Glykos’ death, the Crusade of the Order Cuillerian was wiped out to a man. The Spoon of Dorn was lost somewhere in that bloodstained ice field.