Author's Note: Here is chapter 13. This and chapter 14 will be a two parter, covering the entire fight against the Avatar.
MASTER555: The Eldar in this story belong to the Biel-Tan craftworld.
Reivews and comments, are as always, welcomed.
Invasion of Pandora
First, dozens of Deathstorm-class drop pods landed with a scream. The ground quaked as dozens deployed on the ground. The doors where blown off and assault cannons and whirlwind launchers opened fire at everything nearby. Only a few Eldar died, the xenos having foreseen this. But that could not be said the same for the Na'vi. The Eldar had arranged their catspaws well and many warriors where blown to bits in the immediate storm.
Then came the actual Astartes. Over forty drop pods blazed through the skies and deployed in a similar manner. Warriors from five different chapters rapidly moved out in formation as Thunderhawks and Imperial Navy fighter craft descended from the skies.
Bran Redmaw's howling wolves took point as the Eldar moved over the lip of the valley to engage. In the distance something could be seen glowing to the enhanced senses of the Astartes. But they hardly had time to look at the Eldar deployed. Blazing lasers, plasma bursts and shuriken rounds immediately landed among the Astartes. Power-armored warriors were cut down or blown to bits as they moved out into optimal firing positions. Mere seconds after they finished landing the Astartes took up cover near the drop pods and the broken trees and responded.
Krak missiles and lascannons rounds blew Eldar grav-tanks out of the sky and destroyed armored Eldar walkers. Eldar fell from massed bolter fire as Bran Redmaw led his Great Company through the storm of fire.
The Wolf Lord howled as a trio of massive, wolf pelted Dreadnoughts followed him, their weapons blazing as they went. Long Fangs offered covering fire to the Grey Hunters and Blood Claws as they tore into the Eldar vanguard.
Five hundred Eldar aspect warriors, Guardians, and Na'vi elites fell before the sons of Russ as they drove on ahead. Dreadnought grappled with Wraithlords as bands of Striking Scorpions fell out of concealment to engage Redmaw's forces. From above Eldar grav-tanks soared high and swooped down, strafing the Astartes below. Ground fire answered them and downed several tanks, sending their wreckage spiraling to the ground in fire and flames. The Thunderhawks and Imperial Navy Thunderbolts immediately moved to engage.
Valkyries descended, their holds filled with the Guardsmen of the Elyisian and the Cadian regiments. Vultures blasted out hellstrike rockets and autocannon fire as the guardsmen descended among the Astartes to add their firepower. Larjan of the Eagle Warriros swept forward with his forces. The tactical squads of both the Eagle Warriors and Blood Angels followed his assault plan, hugging cover and closing into key firing positions. Eldar warriors where cut down and Larjan drove deep into the flank to support the Wolves.
Shadow-Captain Zarman's tactical squads moved in support as well. In the rear of the Imperial battlegroup, the Devastators immediately focused their firepower, wiping out entire Eldar formations and enemy tanks as they did so. A constant torrent of las-fire soon chopped down acres of trees as over thirty thousand Elysian and Cadian Guardsmen added their support. Guardsmen hurried to equip air-dropped heavy weapons and missile launchers.
Then from above, the Astartes Thunderhawks moved into formation. Their holds released and jump-pack equipped warriors readied themselves and leaped into the air en-mass, thrusters blazing as they descended. Over a hundred Assault Marines from the Eagle Warriors, the Revilers, the Iron Champions and the Blood Angels descended right into the middle of the Eldar host, chainblades revving and bolt pistols blazing as they did so.
''Brothers! Sanguinius watches you!'' Chaplain Malachi screamed as Castigon drove his power saber thought the chest of a darkly-armored Eldar warrior as he landed on the ground. The Eldar tried to move out as soon as the Astartes descended, but many where not fast enough and where crushed by the Astartes warriors.
Castigon had been placed in command of every jump-pack equipped warrior that the Imperium had. Even the Revilers, who were adept at drop warfare, recognized the skill that the Blood Angels possessed at jump assault. It was an exhilarating thing, having the power of a hundred Astartes landing in the middle of the enemy formation at your command. Chainblades shrieked and bolters roared alongside flamers as the assault warriors tore a hole in the Eldar army.
The warriors that Castigon landed among were known as Dark Reapers. They wore bulkier armor than the other Eldar and wore grinning skull masks. Their weapons were long, scythe-like things that could punch through even power armor. They had already inflicted heavy casualties on the Astartes below. Now Castigon was here to ensure that no more of his Astartes brothers would fall to the guns of these warriors, He beheaded another and then brought his power sword around in a blinding arc, taking off an army before driving through an Eldar skull.
Chainblades hacked through armor as the assault marines slaughtered these warriors in close combat. More assault squads descended on Eldar grav-tanks and Eldar warlocks, cutting them down before moving on to the main army. Na'vi came charging out of the undergrowth. They were bigger than the other Na'vi that Castigon had fought before, their bodies painted in war-tattoos. They carried strange, alien blades that began to crackle with arcane energy.
Castigon recognized them to be Eldar weapons. He didn't think the notoriously arrogant Eldar would stoop so low as to arm an inferior race, but whatever was here apparently was so desperate that the Eldar would indeed stoop that low. One of them cut down an assault marine and Castigon barked out an order in response. Two Astartes with flamers opened fire, dousing the Na'vi warriors with promethium. The aliens screamed as the flesh was incinerated from their bones.
Castigon leapt thought the flames his own jump pack sending out jets of fire as he did so. The flames licked and blackened his armor and ornate heraldry, but he didn't care. His sword descended and flashed as he beheaded another Na'vi and then gutted a warrior sneaking up behind him. His bolt pistol coughed, killing another.
Thus did Castigon lay into the foe.
Eldar Command Post
Kylia watched weapon blaze in the distance. She reached out, feeling the brutal, unfocused minds of the mon-keigh. There were others, the minds of mon-keigh psykers. All inferior to her of course, no one could match the Eldar in terms of psychic prowess. There where thousands of them, with hundreds of their enhanced warriors leading the attack. They had deployed only foot warriors, but she knew that more landers would come with tanks and heavy equipment.
Ideally they would have shot down those landers, but the mon-keigh retained air superiority. So as it was such things would be difficult. However Kylia was confident enough that the Eldar could win, their avatar had not yet committed itself into the battle. She turned around, regarding the massive god-thing hesitatingly. She, like all other Eldar had been taught to restrain their bloodier sides and focused themselves on the path. But before the Avatar, she felt her own bloodlust rising in the presence of a god of war.
''THEY COME. THEY WILL NOT AWAKE THE YINGIR, FARSEER.'' The god-thing rumbled. Kylia felt her heart beat in fear. The Avatar turned to a group of Exarchs on the ground and issued a series of orders. Units were being moved to reposition and counterattack the enemy. The Avatar knew full well that the enemy would commit itself.
''Great one.'' Vas'tey stepped forward. He took could feel the aura of rage and fear that the Avatar wore like a cloak. It was like talking with war itself, and the very concept had scared Vas'tey deeply. What had their allies summoned?
''GO. MOVE INTO BATTLE.'' The Avatar spoke. Vas'tey hastily scampered out of the way.
Kylia watched the Na'vi move out with a sort of detached pity. The poor fool really didn't have any idea what was going on. He probably wouldn't survive the day, but Kylia was willingly to make any sacrifice to ensure that the Yngir would remain imrprisoned.
''Lady Farseer, what do your visions tell us?'' Lithial asked, coming up behind her. He was fully armed and armored for war. Most of his command duties as the supreme leader of the Eldar warhost had been taken over by the avatar.
Kylia frowned. ''My visions are…clouded. The Mon-keigh psykers cloud the warp. There are many of them and their emotions run uncontrolled and rampant. I can heard the death-screams of our brethren.''
''I will go to the front then my lady.''
Captain Larjan listened to as one of his sergeants reported an advance. Larjan spoke a clipped command as his command squad leveled their storm bolters to cut down more of the blue-skinned aliens in a wave of fire.
Larjan could tell the battle was going well. Of course he was recognizing attempts for a counter-attack, Eldar units where peeling off and reengaging with rapid certainty. He had attempted to contact Redmaw win this difficulty, but the Wolf Lord hardly listened to him, too caught up in the advance to cut the Eldar forces in the valley.
Larjan was an experienced veteran of the chapter. Recruited many decades ago from some nameless feral world, the masters of the Eagle Warriors noted his tactical and strategic skills and he had been marked out for a command position early on, and he could tell from the shifting forms of the Eldar warriors that something strange was going on. Larjan knew full well from prior combat experience that the Eldar possessed precognitive abilities, but this spoke of the guided hand of an experienced commander and leaders of an ancient wisdom centuries old.
He raised his storm bolter and let off a burst, blowing apart two more Na'vi warriors. The Na'vi where being used as effectively meatshields for the main Eldar advance, something he found typical of the slender xenos. He looked around, auto-senses piercing the din of battle. There, he detected the forms of more Eldar moving through the jungle. It was a full-scale counter-attack if his suspicions where correct. He opened his vox and ran through orders, repositioning his squads to meet the latest assault on his positions.
Then he spotted it.
Larjan did not feel fear. He was Astartes, but he knew this was not good. He opened a vox-link to the other Captains in the force. After a movement the connection was finally established.
''The Eldar! They've summoned their daemon-god!''
Indeed, through the fire and the flames of the battle a massive figure strode, a twice as tall as the other Eldar a massive sword clutched in one molten fist. Its face was an ornate war mask, twisted into an expression of fury and warlust.
Varius's bolter coughed as he blew apart several more Na'vi that climbed over their dead to assault the Astartes. His bolter clicked dry as Melkan moved up and let out a gout of fire from his flamer, setting apart more Eldar afire
Fenrik's power axe beheaded an Eldar Warp Spider that had teleported in two close. Two more Warp Spiders appeared and began to fire at Fenrik, but they were cut down from accurate bolter shots from Sentius. Naaren landed among the Na'vi, his combat knife clinically dispatching the wounded as he fired his bolter in short, accurate bursts. The Raven Guard was like a silent shadow of death in the bloody chaos of the battle. Alverez's heavy bolter coughed, scything down more Eldar warriors. Na'vi and Eldar simply exploded as the modified heavy bolter's hellfire shells annihilated them. The Crimson Fist's head scanned back and forth as he went about his grisly work.
The Deathwatch had been assigned to the Space Wolf formations, Systos had anticipated that their expertise in killing aliens would serve well in the heart of battle. Fenrik had served as a liaison between the group.
''Varius, bring your team up, we are having company.'' sounded Redmaw's voice over the link. The Wolf Lord was forced to wear his helm, a snarling, wolf-carved helmet painted red in reflection of his name.
''Clarify cousin.'' Varius replied.
''The Avatar, a damned beast of the Eldar.''
In the distance Varius saw immediately what the Wolf Lord was referring to. He had never seen an Avatar before, but he was well briefed about the daemonic being that the Eldar summoned sometimes in order to help them in battle.
If such a being was on Pandora then it meant the Eldar where truly desperate to protect the planet.
''Squad, on my point, move to support the Wolf Lord.'' Varius voxed.
Larjan noticed two more of his Eagle Warriors die as their runes blinked out in his tactical HUD. He swept this storm bolter around, blowing apart the Eldar Howling Banshees that had done so. His command squad formed up around him as he directed the battle.
New Eldar grav-tanks move into position. His Devastator squads were hard-pressed in countering them. The Guard had helped much in this regard, setting up heavy weapons and replying back, making it hard for the tanks to respond. Landers and Thunderhawks would respond soon, but currently the Thunderbolts and fighters of the Imperial Navy where desperately fighting to clear the airspace. It would be at least ten minutes before support could probably arrive.
They might not have that time, reflected Larjan.
More Eldar Wave serpents where moving in, deploying Dire Avenger squads and Fire Dragons. The latter moved out to unleash searing blasts of superheated beams, killing more Astartes. At Larjan's command blue and white armored assault marines flew into the air and descended upon these warriors.
''Support is needed.'' Larjan voxed to Castigon. He received a quick reply as more red-armored warriors flew through the air. Larjan hardly had time to thank the Blood Angel as the enemy warriors moved in.
Shuriken fire caused Larjan to stagger back as he looked out. Dire Avengers where now trying to pin down his command squad while a tall Eldar warrior leading a group of Striking Scorpions began to close in with Larjan.
A surgical strike to take out the enemy leader.
This was an Autarch, Larjan recognized the rune markings on its armor as Eldar script for a commander. This one was obviously aiming to kill one of the Astartes champions.
His command squad moved in around Larjan, drawing their power swords and firing off their storm bolters as they fought a trio of Eldar warriors. Two of Larjan's Astartes fell, blazing Eldar fire cutting them down as the Eldar leapt into close quarters. The Eldar Autarch's blade was a long, curved saber that crackled with destructive energies. Larjan's blade in contrast was a finely forged war axe, shaped in the reflection of an eagle's wing and decorated in gold trimming.
The Eldar's blow was lightning fast as Larjan countered, using both hands to keep up with the warrior's exquisite skill. Larjan had no doubt in his mind that this was a true veteran of many battles. All around them their warriors fought. Larjan activated his Iron Halo, feeling the field envelop him as the Eldar warrior raised its fusion gun and fired point blank. There was white heat all around the Eagle Warriors Captain, but the Iron Halo held as Larjan lashed out, cutting off the barrel of the fusion gun.
The Eldar leader dropped the useless weapon and closed in again, blade flashing arcs of light into the air. Larjan now found it hard for himself to keep up. This Eldar's reactions were quick in the extreme, something that even a warrior such as Larjan struggled to keep up.
But it was Larjan's experience that saved him from bloody death. He had studied well under the blade-masters of the Eagle Warriors. He kept up with the bladework of the alien as their bladed clashed. The Eldar's word would nick the white and blue plate of the Eagle Warrior, drawing small wounds when the powered tip passed through the armor, and occasionally Larjan's blade would clip the warrior, but neither could gain a solid advantage.
A blade almost decapitated Larjan, but he ducked under it, the powered sword, cleaving off his comb-crest on his helm. Larjan lashed out, his power axe almost bisecting the Eldar warrior, if not for an amazing feat of agility.
Then the Eldar warrior revealed its trump card, its helmet suddenly spat out a storm of lasers over Larjan. The Eagle Warrior's masterwork armor was scorched by the attack as Larjan staggered back under the barrage.
Then the alien rushed forward, blade disarming Larjan, the power sword cutting his hand, fresh pain erupted Larjan's being as the alien dove in, stabbing Larjan through one of his primary hearts. Warning monitors erupted all over his armor.
No, Larjan thought, it would not end like this.
Larjan's remaining arm lashed out, grabbing the Eldar and pulling him closer before the xenos could withdraw the blade. Larjan's other arm, closed around trapping the alien in a lethal bearhug. Larjan's superhuman strength strained for brief moment as he snapped the alien's neck with one quick twist of his arms.
The alien fell dead to the ground, sword stumbling for a nerveless grip as Larjan staggered back, his gauntlet closing over the deep wound in his armor. Even for an Astartes that had hurt. But he couldn't rest now.
The battle still waged on. A nearby tactical squad had moved in, chainblades and knives drawn to help drive off the Striking Scorpions. Rapidly they moved in among the Command squad, laying out into the Striking Scorpions. The green-armored Eldar fell back, chainblades gouging deep wounds in their armor. Larjan accessed the vox. He shouted out more and more orders for the Astartes battle line to reform and meet the Eldar assault.
Rapidly the Eagle Warriors and Blood Angels in his command scrambled to meet this order as the fighting entered a new and deadly turn. Larjan looked up, noting the crimson forms of the Blood Angels assault squads as the air filled with the roar of jump thrusters.
Castigon had arrived.
Hrothgar's frost axe bit into the neck of another Eldar warrior and he felt the enemy's head roll away. The scent of blood entered his nostrils as his helmet filtered them through. The Space Wolf hated fighting like this, however the atmosphere of Pandora was hard to breathe even for Astartes.
The dead Eldar fell back to the floor with a thump as Hrothgar's bolter spat out more shells, blowing off the arm of a Howling Banshee as it jinked and ran towards him. The Eldar dropped her sword and rolled on the ground at the pain from the crippling wound, while the Space Wolf finished her off with a stomp that pulped her head.
As the Space Wolf looked up his armor blared in warning as it detected an immense heat signature in front of him. Hrothgar whirled around to see a massive god-like shape walked through the bloodied ground.
In one of its massive hands was a huge broadsword. Then, before Horthgar's eyes it shifted into an immense spear. The Space Wolf leveled his bolter and fired off a fresh clip at the Avatar, but it barely affected the massive beast. The xenos beast then brought its arm back and chucked it through the air with tremendous force. Hrothgar had no time to react as the spear gutted him through the chest and he flew back several feet, his torso being immolated as the entire weapon impaled him.
Hrothgar's corpse thudded to the floor as the Wailing Doom disappeared and reappeared in the Avatar's hand. Behind the Eldar god of war over twenty Astartes lay dead in a result of its rampage and it looked like there was more to come.
Bran Redmaw paused as he cut down another Eldar and looked at the xenos war-god. He grinned beneath his helmet and hefted his frostblade from the corpse of a Na'vi with a sickening wretch. He gestured to his Wolf Guard.
Aboard the Emperor's Benediction
''Ma'am, we have gotten reports from the ground.'' One of the Guard officers aboard the Emperor's Benediction said.
Marber watched as Systos hurried over to him. The various Guard, Astartes and Navy officers were in the war room of the Benediction. They were clustered around the tactical holo-table and watched the disposition of forces fight on it.
''It's the daemon-thing the Eldar have summoned. Coming in from Sector 4-G.'' the officer said Systos's lips pursed at this confirmation.
''Its looks like the enemy is getting more reinforcements besides that. But obviously we have a new worry.'' Systos stated.
Marber knew exactly what she was talking about. If the Eldar where resorting to summoning their god of war then they obviously considered this place extremely important. Marber pondered on what could they possibly consider too important on this planet?
An image of a dark skeleton filtered through his mind, sending chills up his spine. He quickly repressed it.
''What do you intend to do?'' he asked Systos. She glanced at him.
''Kill it of course. I think it's time we entered our own reinforcements.'' She stated. He looked over at Captain Kaler of the Iron Champions.
''Prepare your men, we are going in.''
Author's Note: Yes, the Autarch who died was Lithial.