Dawn Of War

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"This is Brother-Artificier Maranol to Ground Forces. Please respond..."
"Brother-Sergeant Argentius responding."
"Brother Argentius, what is your situation?"
"Ork ground forces are are attempting to take the Strategic Point Kappa."
"Does the gate stand, Brother-Sergeant."
"Confirmed."
"Understood, support forces inbound. ETA, two-hundred-ten seconds."
Brother-Sergeant Argentius ducked as a shell blew a hole out of the city wall above him, showering his squad with masonry. The sky of Tartarus was black as night, the sun hidden by plumes of smoke from countless burning buildings, destroyed vehicles, and gunsmoke of a thousand weapons.
"We may not have that long, Brother-Artificer..." Argentius looked into the sky, watching the Thunderhawk's descent. He hoped, for a fleeting instant, that support was coming, but the craft banked away, afterburners flaring into life as it vanished towards SP Theta, where Brother-Sergeant Cafron was in dire need of air support.
More shells hit home, crippling the wall in three places. The massive arch creaked ominously, the bombard it was suffering having tripled in the space of a few minutes. A looted Leman Russ began to advance, only to meet with the vengeful guns of His Blessed Wrath, a Predator Annihilator that formed a central point of the defence line. The Godhammer lascannon bored through the front armour, striking the magazine. The resulting explosion lit the sky for miles, leaving nothing but a jet-black crater, and a gentle drizzle of molten ceramite. A Wartrakk crested the hill a heartbeat later, the gunner already dead from shrapnel, and the tank's right sponson claimed the kill, sending the vehicle tumbling end over end in flames.
"Good shooting, Brother!" Saffon called into the comm. system, having always wished to serve in the tanks of the Chapter. He got no reply, however; enemy shelling redoubled, a heavy shell striking the bodywork of the Predator and blowing the turret off. The screaming of the crew as they burned alive with their machine chilled the Blood Ravens. With the Predator gone, they had lost their key tank support.
"This is Brother-Sergeant Argentius to Hammer of Majesty, we have a Vermillion Level situation! Send support at once!"
The vox-feed was interrupted as Brother Venatus screamed, "Incoming!", bringing the Sergeant's attention back to the rise. The Orks were cresting the hill, a war-cry eminating from their lips."Bolter discipline!" Argentius barked, noting the inexperienced Brother Cathas firing excessively. The Orks fell in droves, but for every Greenskin that fell, there were three more. The heavy BRAKKA-BRAKK of Brother-Saffon's heavy weapon fell silent, causing Argentius to turn.
"Brother, maintain fire!"
"I'm jammed, Brother-Sergeant!" Saffon replied, fighting with his weapon, the Litany of Unjamming flowing from his lips. The Orcs were ten feet away, the stink of their breath strong on the wind. Brother Venatus rose his weapon, too slow to fire upon the lunging Ork...
The shriek of Assault Cannon filled the air, pulping the airborne Ork. A heartbeat later, his team-mates felt the vengeful kiss of hypervelocity rounds.Brother-Ancient Helmar advanced through the smoke and flames, his adamantium body a mobile icon of Imperial might.
"Brothers, let us take the fight to the xenogen."
Argentius smiled, "surely holding this position would be wiser, Brother-Ancient?
The Dreadnought turned, sensor-eye locking onto Argentius, "The Orks have proven the power of their artillery. They will bring it upon us once more. However, they will not dare shell us when our blades taste their flesh."
Argentius nodded, accepting the wisdom of the Old One. "Brothers, charge!"
The Blood Ravens advanced, weapons firing from the hip as they ploughed up the rise. The Ork tide flooded towards them, outnumbering them six to one. Brother Zacharias jerked, a slugga-shell punching through his left eyepiece. No sooner had he hit the ground than Polonius was beside him, scooping up the fallen Bolter, and firing the gun one-handed along with his own. Polonius was a master with the Bolter, his skills on the range rivalling those of century-veterans. Saffan lagged behind the squad, his heavy cannon difficult to weild. The green tide met with crimson power armour, and the slaughter began.
The carnage waged for what seemed like an eternity. Argentius lost himself in the madness, his Bolter blowing open chests, Chainsword cleaving limbs and heads. Saffon crushed an Ork's ribs with a brutal swing of his Heavy Bolter, before the massive cannon roared point blank. He slew seven before two of the beasts leapt on him, pulling him to the ground and hacking him apart. Brother Tanias died soon after, sundered by a heavy chain-axe. Venatus avenged him, his Bolter firing rapidly. Too rapidly; the Marine emptied his clip, swinging around to target an Ork with a Burna. His weapon clacked uselessly, and he barely had time to curse his folly before flames consumed him.
"Brothers, to me!"
Argentius smashes aside another Ork with a backswing, and looked to Polonius. The Marine was knife-fighting now, his weapons dry and no time to reload. Arcs of devastation raked around him as the Brother-Ancient heeded his plea. Every step he took brought death, the holy promethium of his flamer scorching Orks, and his claw breaking their bones. Argentius fell into step beside the advancing Dreadnought, racing to Polonius and the rest of the squad who were preparing to take the hill crest.
Argentius heard the clang just as Helmar howled a curse, "Limpet charge! Brothers, get cl-"
The world vanished. Argentius struggled to move, but found his body unresponsive. It took him a moment to realise it was not his body, but his armour; the power generators were gone. Without them, his armour was fighting his every movement.
"Brother-Sergeant Argentius, please respond..."
He staggered to his feet, the armour whining in protest. He saw his banner pole, blown clean off by the firey death of Helmar, lying beside his brothers. They were all dead; Polonius' charge had failed.
"Brother-Sergeant, Brother-Helmar, anyone... What is your situation? Please respond."
Argentius grabbed his mic, "This is-" he stopped, realising his mic would be useless now. He had to give a sign somehow, had to show there was still something left, that the hill had not fallen...
He took the banner, and charged.
The advance seemed to last an eternity. Weapons fire rang from his armour, and every step was a struggle. He reached the crest as the Orks found their mark, punching a bullet through his throat. He fell, feeling the dark shroud of death enveloping him, and raised his banner high with his final breath, as the Drop Pods of his Chapter filled the skies...




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