If you didn't read the first Vanguard Marine, Don't worry about it, you don't need it to follow this.
"It was a simple battle that took the life of our great Chaplain" the Chapter Master said in his loud booming voice across the assembled Company, Simple fuck up I thought to myself. We weren't trying to take a planet in the name of the Emperor or throw traitorous bastard marines back into the warp. It was a simple disagreement with a small local governor over levies owed to our Chapter.
"He carried our banner across countless worlds, standing firm against the worst of mankind's foes" the Captain went on I glanced around me, my fellow brothers all looked sombre the small campaign had been an unmitigated disaster. We not only lost one of the best Chaplains our Chapter had ever had but one of our eldest brothers, the Dreadnought Stefhan, a master of anti-tank warfare, along with the entire detachment of Tactical Marines and the scout squad. I, myself, lost half of my own Vanguard brothers.
"His presence on the battlefield alone was enough to rally the allies of the Emperor." I zoned out again, Chaplain Razilan was a man after my own heart, I first met him as a young Assault Marine without a notch on my shoulder pads as we say. Our Sergeant had been eviscerated by an Ork's power claw and we were falling back when, like a judgement from the emperor himself, a black clad Marine came in from the skies on a column of flame. He began to lay waist around him with a power weapon I had only seen depicted in pictures. As the last foe fell to the ground he tuned his scull helmet to me and said with a laugh "what are you doing their brother, join me and get some notches on those pads of yours!"
He looked indomitable standing upon his fallen foes and I swore to myself that I would be just like him some day. I served in the assault core for a further 25 years before becoming a full fledged Tactical Marine, but I never felt the thrill quite like falling from the skies on pillars of flame. It would be a further 75 years before I got the opportunity to become either a sergeant of my own squad a corporal in a new assault squad. (They never considered me for a devastator squad as I had a tendency to break my boltgun over my foes head in close combat, not something you want to be doing with a Lazcannon) I leapt at the chance to have a jetpack again. When I strapped the jetpack on it was meeting up with an old friend.
It was a week after I'd received my jetpack when I next saw Chaplain Razilan, I was with my new sergeant discussing what training we were going to do with our shiny new un-notched assault squad, all of whom were fresh to the brotherhood. The Chaplain was passing by still with his jump pack on when he stopped and turned to me and said "Look at you, got a few notches on those pads from the last time I saw you, glad to see you've chosen the assault wing." He then smiled a natural smile and walked on. My sergeant turned to me after Chaplain had left and said "That man is a man of the Vanguard threw and threw." His eyes shining with pride "The other Company Chaplains we have ride in Land Raiders and charge in Terminator Armour." He said with surprising scorn. I made no comment but felt in my heart that he was right.
Many years passed after that, many battles, many wars, all for humanity, all for the Emperor. I had more and more contact with Razilan either as his lead on the battlefield or at his services off it. He was often with the Vanguard, the elite assault squad and, while I loved my position as sergeant, I longed for the recognition that the elite had. They were the best of the best, men chosen for skill, grit, courage and tempered by centuries of fighting in the name of the emperor. This need for recognition came to a height when my orders were ignored by a group of Devastator Marines because they'd assumed my new armour (courtesy of a lictour) made me one of un-nicked marines in my command. I spoke of this to Razilan in a private after the confusion had been cleared up (I'd taken all three of them back to school in art of checking the rank of a marine via a close combat demonstration on their asses)
He'd laughed about it and then told me to find the sergeant of the Vanguard and to tell him that he'd sent me. I found the sergeant in the great armoury of the Keep and dutifully passed on the message, he looked at me for a second, eyeing the fresh armour and said "you know, Vanguards where a black shoulder pad right?"
"Yes, and a black chest peace, so what?" I answered, confused. The sergeant smiled then and asked "So why are you wearing Green and Grey?" he started to walk to the door, as he did he pressed a switch and a panel drew back against the wall. "Get changed, were training in an hour" he said as he left. I turned to the space reviled by the panel, in it was a new suit of armour, complete with black chest and shoulder pad, and it had my name on it.
I was shaken out of the past by a hand on my shoulder, It was my fellow vanguard brother, Jerold. One of the four fellow Marines to make it back with me to our ship , the Chancer, to report the catastrophe and to bring Razilan home.
"You've been sat here staring at nothing for 20 minutes" he said, with a concerned look on his face. I glanced around the service was over, I had been left alone in the great cathedral. I'd have to say something "I was thinking about the past" I said, "but that's the thing, it's the past, we need to look to the future."
I stood up and walked to the huge entrance doors, Jerold falling into step with me "This won't be official until we know who will be taking command of the vanguard but until then, your acting corporal" I said quietly. The footsteps behind me paused for a second, and then continued "Yes Brother Sergeant." Jerold replied. I knew he didn't want the position, having shunned it twice before but needs must when Chaos drives, half of the 1st company Vanguard were dead it would take years to build us up to full strength. For as our Chaplain Razilan was fond of saying, you cannot reduce the time against the grindstone for you risk taking a dull blade to battle. It took time to chose from the ranking Assault Marines, who would fit and who wouldn't, who had the skills needed and the luck required to survive.
Luck, ha, that was one of his sayings as well, "Luck is fickle," Razilan used to say "you rely on luck and it will be with your foe, so my brother, trust not to luck." All the more poignant that in the final battle of our beloved Chaplain luck could have caused so much devastation. The plan had been simple, Our brothers on the ground with the support of our Chaplain as acting captain and Dreadnought would hold ground while myself and my Vanguard brothers would insert behind the rebellious guard and teach them the repercussions of oath-breaking. It was a classic tactic that we have used on countless worlds. It is said that no plan withstands contact with the enemy, well this plan didn't even last out of the hanger doors.
After my brothers and myself had left the ship in our thunderhalk to prep for our deepstrike, a fault occurred in our Dreadnought's drop pod, deploying him early. Rather than leave our venerable old one to face a plant of hostile alone, our chaplain ordered an early drop. The problem came that no word reached my brothers or me who were running silent and still counting down. By the time we had begun our insertion, the battle had already commenced and as we fell we could see our targets were long gone from their positions. So Instead of a simultaneous strike from both sides, our enemy was fighting half strength force that was out of position and stretched thin. The guard threw everything forward
As I fell I saw my brothers slain with out having the chance to fight, the Chaplain's men gunned down by mass hellfire shots as they tried to get into cover. The Dreadnought Stephan blown to shreds by massed tank fire while trying to hold the left flank. I willed myself to fall faster, and was even tempted to turn upright and engage my jetpack, despite knowing that I would never decelerate in time to leave any recognisable remains on impact. I was twenty seconds from impact when I saw two full compliments of storm troopers a full battalion as well as a predator tank surround Razilan. 15 second when he charged them and 10 seconds when he was gunned down.
I can say it was a complete surprise to the cheering guard when we did hit. Bringing my thoughts back to the present I walked on to see the Captain of our Chapter with my new Brother Corporal following. I was at a loss as to the Vanguards future, without our Jumpacked Chaplain to lead us.
I'm planning to continue this, so I hoped people liked it, the battle was based of a recent game I had where I was wiped clear off the bored due to poor planning, and bad execution on my part. I must learn to stop splitting my forces, it never, ever works.
Anyway read and review people,
Stubbs out (and a Happy New Year)