The star-system's designation was unimportant, the planet inconsequential.

It was but one in millions of planets governed by the glorious Imperium of Man. It was but another world poised to fall to the blasphemous xeno threat that made up the Hive Fleet sweeping through the system.

The Tyranid, as they were known, had quickly devoured any resistance in a flood of gnashing teeth and scything limbs; the Imperial regiment and members of the White Shield now mere biomass for them to process and add to the Fleet. Most of the world had been swept clean of all non-alien life, the capital hive only somewhat intact due to its sheer size. It too would soon be robbed of even the fearful screams of its inhabitants

There had been rumors of a Space Marine battle barge en route, but those were dismissed as the fleeting hopes of the dying.

There was a woman. Her name was also unimportant. Despite being fairly young, she had been a mother of three before the invaders had left her with nothing but the horror of her memories. She had been beautiful once, but now she was covered in gore and grime and her left arm was missing above the elbow. The wound had begun to turn a sickly green, yet the agony of the body could still not rival the agony of the mind.

When the invasion began, she had prayed to the Emperor. He did not hear her words. When word of the crushing defeats came to her ears, she had prayed to the Emperor. He did not hear her cries. When her family was torn apart before her eyes, she had prayed to the Emperor. He did not hear her screams.

The Emperor sat dead on His Throne and all was wrong with the world.

As she scrounged in the rubble that used to be a marketplace in a way that could hardly be classified as human, she heard a terribly familiar chittering. It was barely audible over the the screams of the dying and roar of war engines, but there nonetheless.

She shot up immediately, then back down again when she realized the error of her action.

In the distance she could see the loathsome beast. Six unnaturally long limbs each ending with clawed extremities. A head that could loosely be called humanoid, though no Emperor-abiding citizen one would dare insult the perfection of the human form so. A person with knowledge of such things would know the creature as a Genestealer, but to the woman it was but another form of the monsters that had taken her family and despoiled her home.

The grotesque form twitched. She did not bother praying to her one true liege, for she knew He could not help her. All she could rely on to survive were her instincts. She had thought of suicide when she lost everything but her life and her nightmares, but deep within her skull there was a throbbing, an imperative, a voice that told her "Live". When confronted with the terrors that now stalked the hive in massive bands she had followed that voice, and had made it thus far.

Yet now she would meet her true fate, for the beast saw her there and from its mouth emerged a noise that could only have come from a creature so foul.

She abandoned all pretense of stealth and ran. Behind her followed a pack of beasts; a tide of hungry mouths called to consume fresh prey.

She ran as fast as anyone runs when their very life is at stake, but it would be all too soon before they would catch up to her.

The woman jumped into a ditch in a vain attempt to hide from them. She was surrounded now; it would be mere moments before they descended upon their new kill. One tensed to jump and strike the first blow-

Then, a flash and an almighty crash.

The first wave of Genestealers was annihilated instantly by the force of hundreds of tonnes of metal dropped from orbit.

The Tyranid lacked a healthy sense of fear, so they did not immediately flee at the sight of the Divine Emperor's might. This would prove to be their undoing. The drop pod opened and its incumbents made quick work of the remaining xeno scum.

The giants were clad in the black of a starless void and the gray of well used iron. To look upon them was to know awe. Their armor was the Emperor's shield and their weapons His sword. They were the Angels of Death, and they knew no fear.

The Space Marines of the Iron Hand had arrived.

In that moment it became clear to the woman that the voice that told her to live had been the Emperor Himself. Through His guidance she had been able to see His angels in all their majesty.

She emerged from her shelter to meet her saviors. Tears streaming down her grimy cheeks, she fell upon her knees and bowed her head.

"Thank you my blessed lords," she said "I am Lara. Please, forgive me my doubts". It was the first time in a long time since she had used words.

"Captain," one said "we appear to have found a survivor. What shall we do?" His voice was not human, even less so than the Space Marines from other Chapters.

After a short pause the captain spoke: "She may be infected by the Tyranid". His voice held no pity, nor compassion, nor any other emotion. "Kill her".

A Marine with a flamer readied his holy weapon-

"We shall purge the city and sweep this world clean. For the Emperor!".

-and pulled the trigger.

And as the purifying flames enveloped her entire body, as her skin melted too fast to blister, as her eyeballs evaporated so suddenly they popped, she thought this:

What a blessing that the Emperor would see fit to provide us with Angels who know such Mercy.