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Resurrecting the Malevolents

“There is no innocence in this galaxy, of all places why did you think to find it on a planet named Armageddon?” Brother Bericus

My box of Dark Imperium, along with the Imperial I and Chaos indices, sat gathering dust in Bristol Independent Gaming for an unreasonable amount of time. Finally, after a busy surge at work and a relaxing break in Lisbon, I picked up my goodies.

I won’t go into my thoughts on the contents of Dark Imperium (that ship has sailed!) save to say that it is simply awe inspiring and brought to the surface the same feelings I had as a nine-year old when I received the 2nd Edition starter set all those years ago…

Last week I got my first game of 8th down at Bristol Independent Gaming. The day before I had spent a few hours rebasing and touching up my 40k Army – The Marines Malevolent! I absolutely loved these guys at the time and really appreciated the fluff Nick Kyme gifted this chapter. For those not familiar, they are a really nasty lot. They wantonly disregard imperial institutions (and lives) in the pursuit of their enemies. Their contempt for others has not played out well and they can no longer count on the Administratum or Mars for logistical support. As such, they scavenge, scrounge and downright steal in order to keep themselves operational. Their kit is, as a result, antiquated, battered and a strikingly at odds with those chapters that revere their wargear. Consequently, many chapters regard the Marines Malevolent as beneath contempt and barely worthy of the name Astartes, yet it is a testament to the chapter’s grit that they can survive in a hostile galaxy with such an arrogant and destructive temperament.

MARINES MALEVOLENT

“And as for these lesser Chapters, these harbingers of misery, these scum, these marines malevolent, I defy them. Let them crash like waves upon fortress Terra, they will only break and retreat like the tide. Let them do their worst. For I am the light of the Imperium and will purge them in fire and blood!”

-Gorge Vandire, broadcasting to his supporters at the height of the siege of the Ecclesiarchical Palace on Terra, M36

“The Space Marines themselves appeared to be just as archaic. Most wore Mk VI Corvus-pattern power armour, stained yellow with a black cuirass and generators, the left pauldron studded with fat rivets. The armour’s plastron was bereft of the Imperial eagle, and carried only an octagonal release clasp, unlike the modern suits of the Mk VII Aquila-pattern. Every suit amongst them, bar none, was patched and chipped. The rigours of battle were worn proudly as marks of honour, in the same manner as the Salamanders’ branding scars. It was armour that had been made to last, not in the sense of its superior forging or exceptionally durable craftsmanship; rather, it was battle-plate that had seen hundreds, perhaps thousands, of victories and been strung back together and hammered into shape by any means necessary in order that it saw another.”

From the novel ‘Salamander’ by Nick Kyme

Captain Bericus: 4th company – Actions of Note

TREPTA

Bericus was given the honour of triggering the release of the Life Eater Virus against the Genestealer-held world of Trepta. From orbit, he watched entranced as the virus blossomed across the entire planet, wiping out every living thing, before finally consuming the atmosphere in a series of hellish firestorms released by the stored energy of the world’s dying biomass.

JIBBUS IV

Bericus was infiltrated into the heart of the vast bunker complex on the rebellious mining world of Jibbus IV in 901 M41 and laced the ancient life support machines with nerve gas, killing millions of heretical fanatics in minutes. Bericus knew his actions were justified, as the world can still by mined by the automated servants of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but sometimes he still hears the choking screams of the dying.

ROTRACUDA

During a desperate defence of the Forge World of Rotracuda in 946 M41 from a massive Tyranid splinter fleet, Bericus, then a member of his Captain’s honour guard, called artillery fire onto his own position as it was overrun. Bericus’ actions led to the death of all of his surviving squadmates, but was lauded by his superiors (including his mortally wounded Captain) as exemplifying the ruthless ethos of the Chapter.

MAUDIGARN

Bericus commanded the cleansing of the hive world Maudigarn II in 980 M41. The world had been infiltrated by a sinister race of shapeshifting Xenos able to replicate the divine human form. The world was in the process of tearing itself apart in a series of paranoid civil wars until the Chapter descended upon it and instituted brutal purges. Billions were killed, thousands of them at his hands. Most of them were probably aliens, though there was no way to be sure. Even if hundreds were innocent…better to die than suffer the Xenos to live.

3rd War for ARMAGEDDON

As part of Captain Vanyar’s strike force Bericus was tasked with leading his Sternguard squad on seek and destroy missions on high priority targets. Open warfare of this kind, bloody and merciless, against an enemy that would give no quarter, saw Bericus embody the epitome of what it is to be an Astartes of the Marines Malevolent. He would endure days of ceaseless slaughter striding across the ash wastes, heedless of his safety, armour pitted and blackened by combat, tirelessly seeking greenskins to strike down. Bericus’ wounds didn’t impede him from participating in every major action of the campaign, despite the grievous injuries that he sustained at the claws of an orkoid war machine. It is worth noting that Bericus was present during the incident at the “Emperor’s Deliverance” refugee camp and a staunch supporter of his brother Captain’s tactical decision to use the camp as a killing field.

After leaving the planet and returning to the Chapter fleet Bericus‘ was given the Captaincy of the 4th Company in its entirety, a unit which had been badly mauled by a protracted series of engagements with Traitor Legionnaires. With his new command and the blessing of his Chapter Master and fellow Captains, Bericus headed to the Naufragium Cluster intent on collecting such a string of victories that even the High Lords on Terra would sit up and take notice of the much maligned Marines Malevolent…

Excerpt from an unfinished short story title ‘Season of Fire.’

As requested the thick astral scope of the Adsideo, one of nearly six hundred orbiting watch stations, glanced away from its vigil on the Pallidus Mountains to inspect a tiny corner of the Infensus region. Adepts adjusted the magnification, cycled through image filters and promptly found what the terse report from the Adspectus Claritatis was demanding. A plume of dust. The filters cycled to thermal, peeling away the obscuring layers, froze the image and came to a rest. The outline, despite some atmospheric distortion, was unmistakable. A score of Ork vehicles, adorned with all the accoutrements of crude lethality that could be expected of their race. There too, gutted on their battered hulls like offal on a butchers block, were the grizzly remains of what had been the Kholundan IXth.

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‘Hold Brother!’

The Razorback’s heavy treads locked abruptly, bringing the fearsome tank to a screeching stop behind the boarding ramp of the waiting Thunderhawk. The craft’s enormous turbofans beat up billowing plumes blasting the armoured vehicle underneath in noxious dust and toxic filth.

No, no. This world’s not done with you yet, thought Bericus inside the halted Razorback.

‘Captain Tull to Sergeant Bericus,’ rasped a disembodied voice from the tank’s internal voxcaster.

Tull, the taskmaster, the uncompromising, the sentinel of what was Hades, the Lord of the Third – or what was left of it.

‘Aye, Brother Captain,’ said Bericus, picking a fleck of bone from the teeth of his underslung chainblade.

‘State your readiness.’

Bericus spoke without thinking, his response as practised and monosyllabic as if he were back in the hallowed cloisters of his chapter monastery. ‘All brothers present and battle worthy, our steed is still fresh and our assault cannons still hunger.’

‘ Good. Sergeant of the Squad, accept your orders.’ Tull the traditionalist. ‘See here then, Brother Sergeant.’ A torrent of tac-data fuzzed in an epileptic shock across Bericus’ visor. ‘Eight enemy vehicles counted,’ continued Tull, ‘two to four score Xeno- filth moving at speed. Currently on a heading consistent with Ragalan’s Reach at -’

Yes Tull. I understand. We’ll intercept them.The Titan graveyard will be the killing ground. The leering skull face of that fallen lord of war will witness their ruin, see them and their wretched hulks smashed by my brothers. I picture them even now, hungrily entering that adamantium ruin. Into our bolters. Into our blades. Into our steed’s assault cannon.

‘I accept my orders Brother Captain,’ said Bericus taking the target’s speed and bearing, duly plotting an intercept in a heartbeat. ‘We go now! Glory and hate.’

‘Glory and hate. Tull, vox-out.’ The link snapped closed as Bericus gave a nod to Brother Fortix opposite. Fortix banged his gauntlet hard on the battered plate that separated the five astartes from their driver. The Razorback roared into life, surging out from under the rapidly climbing thunderhawk. The tank’s treads tore through the rank silt, eagerly gunning towards the new objective. Inside, Ajax pulled out his auspex, deftly goading the machine spirit into life with a silent prayer whilst Domli rose steadily and opened the top hatch. Suffocating heat poured into the compact compartment as the marine climbed out onto the hull. Domli gripped tight, his dull mustard armour suddenly bright in the intense glare of Armageddon’s hellish twin suns. The vehicle bucked about savagely as it tore through the blasted landscape. Ignoring the forces threatening to throw him off the hull, Domli reached out and ripped away the heavy enviro-tarp covering the twin linked assault cannons. Brother Ursad exchanged his sickle magazine for a sixty bolt round drum, locking the hefty load underneath his MK IV Godwyn Vb bolter just as the corvus helmed Domli dropped back onboard. The thick hatch behind closed him with a resounding crunch of alloy on ceramite. He tossed the tarp to one side and drew his boltgun, a matt black Umbra bonded with an indiscreet melta then checked the mechanism for the hundredth time that day, and days were short on Armageddon. Ajax sat at the Razor’s command node, his testy auspex now mag-clamped to his thigh and tracked the horizon through the assault cannon’s ocular feed matrix.

The five armoured giants went about their battle rites in grim silence. No regard was given to the fact that the Thunderhawk now searing into the crimson sky had been mere seconds away from taking them away from this wretched planet for good.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

The Last of Us…

I had command of some eleven of my brothers. Daeka, our last apothecary, had expended the last of his unctions and chems in the last ambush and had nothing to give the wounded. Devoid of purpose, he had reverted to that of a line legionary, yet occasionally scavenged medical supplies from the fallen…  

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Crysos Morturg

Sergeant Tarageth Sune found us on the thirteenth day, stalking the refuge tunnels and abandoned subsurface mag-rail network. Three of his Terran born brothers were in tow, mercifully unhurt yet in need of ammunition. We consolidated our meagre supplies and shared what little information we had. Sune suspected that he and his men were being tracked through the tunnels by Thallax Automata and Seeker Squads… We would take the fight to them…

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Sergeant Tarageth Sune

….the Thallax are scrap and the Seeker Squad dead. Molor timed the detonation perfectly, collapsing the tunnel behind our pursuers and taking them by surprise. I hurled my last phosphex orb into their midst, forcing them to break cover and into our waiting bolters. After five days of hiding we sorely needed combat… we needed vengeance. No quarter was given. It cost us Vasha, who took a kill shot to the head and Mulog was injured badly, yet for all that we emerged the stronger for it. Dragging the bodies away before phosphex consumed them, we scavenged plenty of ammunition and warplate. Amongst the treasure trove we found specialist equipment common among Seeker units. This would prove useful indeed…

… Melta charges, prometheum and phosphex haunted our every tread. Evidently when the Seekers didn’t return they suspected the worst. It was time to go – better to die fighting on our feet than be extinguished like vermin in the dark…

…The sounds of heavy fighting echoed above us, steeling our hearts. More loyal kin yet live. As much as we wanted to burst onto the surface, I gave into reason; the terrain was unknown to us, as was the direction of fire and the placement of forces. We would wait until the fighting had died down…

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Like the Dusk Raiders before us, we emerged at nightfall and into the world above. A mass of twisted metal and tortured ruins greeted us as we moved silently into the city of ghosts. Surveying our position, it seemed that we were some eight miles south of our original holdfast. The Omni-Scope stolen from the Seeker dead proved most useful in scrying the darkness and radfog that had fallen around us…the battle had moved on and so too had the combatants… A second sweep of the Omni-Scope revealed engine signature….

Taking to the tunnels once more, the access shaft led me closer to where we had detected the signatures. Emerging once more, this time in absolute gloom, save for the flash of distant explosions and titan flare lumes, we stole closer to the target. Three brothers accompanied me, Daeka, Sollum and Kulg. It was then that we deactivated our power armour. I had no wish to give myself away so easily to augur sweeps. The Mark III plate would slow me considerably, but I felt steadier knowing that the tell-tale of heat signature and the low hum of reactor cells would not betray me. We moved silently for what seemed like hours, freezing at the slightest sound….

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…I recognised the iconography immediately. The Damocles rested to the rear of a trio of Medusas that fired northward. Vox chatter babbled incessantly between the cacophonous bellows of the siege guns as a column rhinos and Proteus Land Raiders gunned their engines by us, their high beams stabbing into the gloom…

…The Damocles…Our enemy believed that it had this sector secure and was free to operate with impunity. They would pay for their arrogance…

…closer still…

…closer…

Daeka and Sollum would take the Medusa crews, detonating their payloads and sowing confusion… Maybe they would mistake us for their own. Or perhaps not. The crews were too focused on their work and of a tactical detail there was no sign. The sheer hubris of it all…they thought they had us beat….well…

I would make for the command vehicle… 

It bore the personal seal of a favoured of Mortarion himself…Marshal Durak Rask.

My armour activated, the fibre bundles straining with strength and motion. In that same moment a vox-hailer roared its challenge to me as a score of gun lamps pointed in my direction.

“HALT AND BE RECOGNISED”

With calm conviction, I held up a hand and announced myself to my foe.

“I am Section Leader Crysos Morturg”

The first Medusa exploded as I broke into a run.

END TRANSMISSION

Origins: The Burning Horizon

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Zu’ul Na’gir

Their Praetor,  Zu’ul Na’gir, traces his origins to the motor-gypsy tribes of a world claimed by the XVIIth during the early part of the Great Crusade. Born aboard a tracked carrier, his mother died shortly after his birth, exerting her last grain of life to get her son to safety before the migratory swarms of xenoform locusts devoured the continent’s surface biomass.

Inducted into the XVIIth some fifteen standard years later, the legionary displayed considerable aptitude for armoured warfare and frequently grew impatient with the methodical doctrines of his fellow officers.

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Zu’ul has a great many seasoned warriors under his command, and he is reluctant to let them slide off into oblivion. Mortally wounded legionnaires all too often awake to find themselves rehoused in the sarcophagi of Contemptor chassis, ready to serve the legion once more.

Following Monarchia, the XVIIth accelerated their execution of the Crusade and Zu’ul’s expertise soon rose to prominence amongst his kin. He gained a reputation for rapid advances, and possessed an uncanny ability to identify and exploit weak points in the enemy battle lines.

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Nathagnol Mu’hur – Steel Centurion of The Burning Horizon and second in command.

The vehicles under Zu’ul’s command held special significance for his Folio. Where others regarded their tanks and transports as mere tools, Zu’ul’s legionnaires gave them names, etched scriptures upon their hulls and painstakingly restored wrecked vehicles to their former glory. The chapter’s Motorpools and Engineerum decks were even converted into places of worship to ensure that the vehicles could attend the services.

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Yet it was on Istvaan V where Zu’ul gained true notoriety. Some four hours after the moment of betrayal, many Loyalists had managed, despite the crippling losses inflicted by this act of wanton fratricide, to form cohesive formations and hit back at their erstwhile brothers.

IMG_2422One such sizeable formation of Iron Hands and Salamanders was inflicting significant losses upon the XVIIth; the Salamanders’ stubborn resistance, combined with the mechanical ingenuity of the Iron Hands, made for a formidable adversary. Worse, their commander was shrewd, using his armour to carve up unsupported Traitors that had overextended themselves in their advance, whilst evading traitor heavy battalions with tremendous skill. Upon hearing of this, Horus insulted Lorgar’s ability to direct his forces effectively, reminding him that every moment that passed on Istvaan would compromise the secessionists’ plan for total victory.

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At Lorgar’s personal request, The Crimson Revenant moved into low orbit, disgorging wings of Stormbirds, Stormeagles and Thunderhawk Transports. Within minutes, Zu’ul was on the ground, directing his forces from the cupola of his Land Raider Proteus, ‘Instrument of Ruin.’  The armoured spearhead had soon located the enemy formation, misdirected it and probed carefully for weaknesses via aggressive reconnaissance. The pseudo tank battle raged for hours, neither commander willing to commit his forces utterly for fear of a trap. Bluff followed bluff as Predator tanks skirted the lines and Land Raiders charged forth only to quickly dive back into the choking radioactive fog that enshrouded the Urgall Depression.

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It was one such piece of misdirection that finally proved to be the undoing of the Loyalists. A squadron of Zu’ul’s Land Raiders made contact with an Iron Hands Contemptor supported by infantry and a damaged Fellblade. In this engagement, a Land Raider was badly damaged whilst the rest of the squadron withdrew, giving cause for the Word Bearer’s within to disembark. Such a target as infantry in the open was too tempting for the Fellblade which moved into position to unleash its volkite cannon upon the target location. The infantry evaded the superheavy successfully, taking cover in a nearby arcology in the hope of mounting an ambush upon the enemy reconnoitre. Their opportunity came. The Iron Hands Contemptor advanced upon the stricken Land Raider, supported by a collection of Loyalist survivors. The Word Bearers watched as the Contemptor prized open the hull and ended the life of the mortally wounded tank commander. The Loyalists quickly got to work, ripping out the power coils and thermo packs of the Proteus’ lascannons and equipping themselves with salvage that could aid their own depleting motorpool. At this distance, the Word Bearer Stave Leader recognised the Contemptor as an ancient commander of the Iron Hands, a warrior of renown and deep significance. If the Iron hands would only commit here, in defence of one of their revered ancients, then the Salamanders would be forced to support them or submit to their forces being divided and destroyed piecemeal. Voxing his co-ordinates to the rest of Zu’ul’s Folio, the Stave Leader engaged.

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Six of his men were annihilated in a volkite inferno seconds after breaking cover. The Stave Leader, along with his three remaining faithful, survived the few minutes that it took for the Contemptor to be locked into a protracted firefight with the Land Raiders that had returned from their feigned flight. When reports came that the Contemptor had been immobilised, Zu’ul committed all of his forces. The gamble paid off.

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Whether it was the grief and rage of losing their Primarch that day, or the significance that the Iron Hands placed upon feats of mechanical engineering, who can say. Yet the bulk of Iron Hands moved to protect their leige, giving the Salamanders little choice other than to follow. It is fair to surmise that Zu’ul counted upon the Legion’s tendency to seek out a last stand…

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Within fifty eight minutes of the Stave Leader’s vox call, battle was joined. Hundreds of Lascannon beams lanced through the fog, hungrily piercing ceramite and filling the battlefield with the shrieking crack of superheated metal. Contemptors bound through the Word Bearer ranks, eager to reach the Loyalist lines and exact a bloody toll upon targets of opportunity. Predator autocannons hammered home whilst the contents of Zu’ul’s Proteus and Phobos squadrons fixed their chain-bayonets in anticipation of the close action to follow. Zu’ul’s medusa batteries rained shells over the slow tread of his armoured formations, raining phospex and high explosive onto the defenders, whilst Vorbak units, spearheaded by demonically charged dreadnoughts, formed the vanguard of Zu’ul’s assault. It was at this very moment that Zu’ul’s forces received their new moniker; over the vox, the sonorous and enigmatic tones of their beloved primarch delivered the final order:

Children, the gods themselves watch o’er us now.
In fire you march, in glory you tread. Hark!
Bring Truth this day at my request, for now
you etch our deeds upon the stars themselves.

Break open hammer and iron this day,
do it with bolt and blade and truth,
with shell and shot, alchem venom, las lance -
prayers and zeal;  Steel yourselves - now advance!

The very Horizon Burns at our touch!

                                                                  —Lorgar, Primarch of the Word Bearers

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…Hell follows with them…