A/N: Sorry about the wait, but I've been at school, and the homework is really slowing me up. Anyways, the end is in site! I know you're all relieved that I'm finally going to shut up! Enjoy!

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.30 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Outside Main Spine + +

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Ollie ran along. There was smoke everywhere, and he could barely see twenty metres in front of himself. Artillery was falling, and the brief flashes illuminated the surrounding hell. He was charging through what had once been a commercia, a market where the middle-class, inner-hive traders could sell their wares. Now, it was a battleground. Old corpses from the start of the rebellion coated the ground: bloated, swollen, bloody and fly-coated, they were horrific. And there were fresh corpses too, Steel Legionnaires, with the same mustard fatigues and gasmasks as Ollie lay on the ground, red, glistening wounds shining.

He could see George, to his left and Issie to his front. George had his gun levelled, bayonet pointed. He was screaming a blood-curdling battle cry. Issie meanwhile, was crouched close to the ground. She was sliding from cover to cover, desperate to make it. He could just see the devastating wound in the front of the Hive Tower, a gaping hole with a pile of rubble leading up to it. His objective was to get inside. First and Second platoons were attacking a point to their left, Third and Fourth platoons were off to the right and Fifth and Sixth platoons, and Ollie and his friends with them, were going for the central breach. The centre was the only place where there was a guaranteed breach. At the moment, the company was moving together, but they were nearly at the point where they would split up. Then, a shell landed nearby. Even as he and his friends went flying, Ollie was reciting the specifications of the shell that had just landed.

"The Earthshaker is a 132mm gun, firing a 314kg shell over 15km at 814mph…"


George's head was aching. He stood up, letting off a colourful string of curses involving the shell-firers, their extended family, and what he would do if he could lay hands on either of them.

His sense of direction shot, he headed off towards the right-hand breach.

"Gotta keep up with my platoon," he thought, as he headed away from them.


Issie felt dizzy and sick. She reasoned that this was a standard problem for someone that had just suffered concussion, flown through the air and landed several metres from where they had started. She thought she saw her platoon Corpsman heading over to the left flank.

"I need help," she thought "It could've been a poisoned or a gas shell. It doesn't count as deserting your unit if you are getting a medic because you can't fight effectively – I think."


Ollie staggered up, reeling for a moment. He looked around for a point that he could focus on, and settled on the tower. He saw the breach and started heading towards it. Then he stopped.

"I should check my compass," he thought "Wouldn't want to head off in the wrong direction." He checked the compass sown into his sleeve and, satisfied, headed towards the central breach. Stooping to collect a fallen lasgun – his own having been lost, he realised – he continued on.

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.35 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Temporary HQ, 12th Armageddon Steel Legion + +

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Captain Yakub had his ear glued to the vox. He had received reinforcements from three other companies – Alpha, Charlie and Echo – even as his own assault went in, and he was preparing to deploy them even now. He had assumed command of the assault, and this annoyed him. The other company commanders would be leading their men into the breaches, but he would be stuck back at field HQ – a bombed-out hab – commanding via dataslate and auspex.

His six platoons were approaching the areas that were supposedly breached, the Beligarso were working their way around the back of the tower, hoping to find a point where they could get in and the Tanith were occupying sniping and heavy weapons support positions, or joining his troops in their attack.

Transmissions were flooding in, but he wasn't listening to most. From what he could hear, the situation wasn't good – shelling was confusing the assault; disoriented troops were splitting away from their units, or milling about. And there was also an unconfirmed report that the right-hand breach was not a breach, but a solid piece of wall.

"Commissar," he said to Kratz, "You should get down there. Our troops will need a firm hand to keep them together. Get over there, get them back in action, and then head over to the right. The breach might not be a breach."

"Yes sir," he said in his typical flat monotone. An Eldar shuriken to his throat nine years earlier had left him with an augmetic voice box – and a voice like gravel being crushed. Yakub nodded, preoccupied, then returned to his planning.

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.36 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Outside Main Spine + +

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Issie finally caught up with the medic, who turned out to be a platoon corpsman. His medical satchel was mainly full of painkillers and bandages, and he hadn't even been given full training. Still, he knew enough to be able to confirm that Issie was not concussed – bruised and shaken maybe, but not concussed. Only then, did Issie realise her folly. In her haste to find a medic, she had lost her squad, and that counted as desertion – enough for a Commissar to get her. Hastily, she joined a passing squad. Running up to the Sergeant, she explained her situation – that she had been wounded and lost her squad searching for a medic, so she was instead reporting to the first unit she saw. She was welcomed into the unit.


Ollie was crouched behind a miraculously intact sofa in a hab overlooking the breach. He was sniping in the gap between the bottom of the couch and the floor.

"Bam," he whispered, grinning, as he hit a cultist in the head with three shots from his lasrifle. The new weapon he had picked up was reliable, despite its dented appearance. The former owner had kept it in good shape. It was better than factory standards – he knew this because he had memorised those statistics – and this was impressive. There was only so much you could do with a mass-produced weapon.

He was concerned about the disappearance of his friends. He hadn't seen them since the shell blast. He had seen Kratz a few minutes earlier, and he hoped he hadn't been executing his friends – for Kratz's sake. It had been at long range, but Ollie had been confident of making the shot – five hundred metres, minor smoke obscuration, nothing he couldn't deal with. But then Kratz had ducked out of site, and the moment had passed. At that moment, a shout passed up and down the line, and crackled on Ollie's micro-bead.

"Up and at them."

He sprinted down the stairs, out of the hab-block's lobby, and charged.


George was pinned. He was trapped, sheltering under a tank trap, desperate for something, anything, to let up the firestorm he had walked into. Surprisingly, he found himself wishing for a Commissar, even one like Kratz. They were always so – so impenetrable. So invulnerable. A divine fragment of the Emperor, inspiring them to victory. He needed that now. He had taken over a squad. They were so streaked with oil and soot that they could've been his for all he knew. But he did know something – this was not a breach. He had seen the gaping hole in the spire, at the central breach. That had been his objective – now, it was all over there. He had joined the wrong assault, and he was paying the price. The breach was nothing more than a few high-up cracks in the wall. They couldn't reach them, and even if there were a breach, they would be scythed down by the Heavy Bolters that, even now, had them pinned. The squad's vox-operator was beside him, and he asked for the speaker now.

"Command, command, this is 3-3-2, over on the right. There is no breach. Repeat, there is no breach. We need backup out here captain, ASAP!"

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.35 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Temporary HQ, 12th Armageddon Steel Legion + +

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Captain Yakub heard the report from second squad, third platoon and he realised that all his fears were confirmed. He tried to get on the vox to the regimental armoured company, but there was only static. He tried to get regimental command, but again there was only static. He tried all the assets he might have. Eventually, he tried one last thing.

"Lieutenant Kayson, tell me you've got something up your jump-trooper sleeve."

"I've got just the thing. Prepare for a show, Colossus style!"


"Hey little bro," Lieutenant Jim Kayson voxed to Mike Kayson, his younger brother, "The ground-pounders got themselves in a pretty sweet fix. Can you do anything?"

"Sure can," Mike Kayson grinned, "Colossus squadron, packing Hellstrikes and inbound!"

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.36 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Outside Main Spine + +

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George shielded his eyes as six Vulture gunships, painted in the colours of the Beligarso 99th, screamed in and unloaded Hellstrike missiles and Lascannon blasts onto the breach. There was a bright sheet of flame, a scream of tortured metal, a roar of collapsing masonry and the gleeful silence from the heavy weapons positions on the wall and around the bottom of the breach. There was silence. Then a voice on his microbead stated:

"Enjoy the show, ground-pounders? Get back on your feet and get in there! Hellstrikes don't come cheap you know." George, knowing a good thing when he saw it, practically screamed the command.

"Charge!"

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.36 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Top-249, Main Spine + +

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Issie's unit had cleared the breach without much resistance. It was mystifying. The other breaches were reporting huge numbers of hostiles. They were pinned down by huge numbers of guns. So why hadn't she been attacked yet? The two platoons were going parallel along two streets and were clearing hab-blocks, two at a time. Two Infantry squads would enter each hab-block, accompanied by a special weapons squad, and sweep up, floor by floor, to dislodge any resistance. Lascannon teams were watching the street, along with the remaining Infantry squad and a single Heavy Bolter. The other two Heavy Bolters were each assigned to watch one of the doorways, in case of stragglers trying to break out.

Issie swept her lasgun across the hab-block. It was a typical family residence – a double bed set in a curtained alcove, a stove, a washbasin with chemical toilet and a door to the adjoining room for the children.

"Cover me," she signalled, and another trooper slid into the room and focused his lasgun on the door. Issie edged around the room, sticking to the sides so as not to block her squad mate's line of fire. Treading softly, she reached the door. The guardsman, still focused on the door, moved over so as to cover the door when it was opened. Her fingers curled around the handle, and she pulled, flinging the door open and swinging inside.

The site she saw nearly made her vomit. A horrific symbol of Chaos had been daubed in blood on the walls – and the family had been nailed to it.

Issie made the sign of the Aquila at this. The other guardsmen came into the room, saw this horror, and wrenched off his gasmask, running to basin before heaving up his rations into the basin. Thus recovered, he walked forward grimly and removed the nails, lowering the corpses to the floor. The symbol would have to stay though. He went over to alcove to fetch the curtain, in order to cover the bodies. Suddenly, Issie realised something.

"No, wait!" she screamed. The curtain was shut. Something was hiding.

The guardsman was ripped apart by the claws of something inside the curtain. Issie watched, transfixed, as blood stained his shirt red. She realised she would never know his name. Then all this was wiped from his mind as a very angry clawed mutant leaped out of the alcove.

"Oh sh…"

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.36 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Outside Main Spine + +

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Ollie was at the bottom of the rubble pile. Rounds were streaking about him as he killed a cultist charging at him with three las-bolts to the face.

He was sprinting up the pile. Screaming, he bayoneted a wounded cultist in the rubble, its' face shredded by shrapnel.

He was in the mouth. Flame-troopers were sweeping the breach, weapon nozzles sweeping, while Ollie joined the other Guardsmen in pouring full-auto fire into the bezerk, charging heretics.

And then they were through, tearing through the breaking ranks of cultists. They were wearing the silver rad-suits that they would, in another life, have worn on the production lines of their planet's factories.

He smashed bodily into a cultist, and the two of them fell wrestling to the ground. Rolling over repeatedly Ollie managed to swing his lasgun enough the stock knocked into the cultist, making it roll off. He shot it. The round blew off its' helmet. Then, he really screamed. 'It' was a she. A woman – who in any other place – would've been attractive. But she was horrific. He had been told that Chaos had a god of pleasure, and that this god had taken the cultists here.

And he believed it. He really did. This woman was eye-achingly attractive. It was pleasurable merely to look upon her

Ollie screamed. And then stabbed. Again and again, raising his bayonet above his head, he stabbed down, reducing the cultists amazing features to a bloody pulp. He wept as he did this.

Wept that this face was so amazing. Wept that he had come so close to the embrace of Chaos.

Wept that the face he truly loved could well be dead.


George sprinted over the rubble, eager to stretch his legs after the long time in hiding. A force the size of an over-strength platoon followed him. The most senior surviving officer was a Sergeant Major – all other officers being dead or wounded – and he had wordlessly handed over to George when he charged. Now, George was at the forefront of the assault, leading them on. He encouraged them on, leading by example and doing everything they had to do. He was nothing like some officers, who sat back and were content to just order their troops around, not caring about them. He was like his own image of a Commissar from before: invulnerable, a part of the Emperor, a divine Prophet of their god.

"For the Emperor!" he cried.

A few cultists had survived the blast, and the subsequent landslide, and now they were popping up. George bayoneted one who had suddenly stopped playing dead, even though George was barely two metres away. He shot through the head a screaming cultist who was lying pinned under a huge chunk of reinforced concrete from the tower. Just because they were heretics, didn't mean they were undeserving of mercy. A heretic popped up just behind him, to his left. His eyes widened as it raised its' knife to strike.

The blow never came. Instead, there was a high-pitched whine and a long-las round blew out its' head.

"Thanks, Tanith," he said into his micro-bead.

"No fething problem," the sniper replied sarcastically.

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.37 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Top-249, Main Spine + +

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Issie screamed and held down the trigger of her lasgun, mashing the trigger. Rounds spurted out, only to glance off the mutant's glistening hide. It had shining, glistening, horrifying skin, four arms, each ending in six wickedly long claws, a crab-like maw and a single darting eye in the centre of its' forehead. It lunged towards her and she rolled away, desperately searching for an advantage. She cried out, praying that her squadmates would hear her. She scrabbled across the floor as the mutant swept its' arm at her.

There was a 'whoosh' of air, a burning heat, the smell of cooked meat – and the blow never came. A Guardsman wielding a flamer had smashed into the room not a second to soon, and cooked the mutant. He helped Issie to her feet, and nodded, then walked off without another word.

"We call him 'Chatterbox,'" said the squad Sergeant, as she re-entered the passageway "He lost his family in the last war, and he hasn't spoken since. He's a devil of a fighter though."

"Yeah…" thought Issie, preoccupied.

"Let's move!" shouted the Sergeant, and the squad headed up. The hab-block was strange – it seemed to keep climbing. Issie knew that the next level, Top 250, was the first of the tower's uppermost levels. Two hundred and fifty floors were below it, and two hundred and fifty floors were above it. She climbed the last flight of stairs to the hatch, and opened it, poking her head out.

She felt the muzzle of a bolt pistol against her skull.

"Just who the drak are you?" said a voice.

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.37 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Top-490, Main Spine + +

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Ollie was smashing through the streets of level Top-490. He was using power packs taken from corpses to power his dented, bloodstained rifle. All around him, guardsmen were shooting, stabbing punching and kicking. Mayhem surrounded him. Slicing through the enemy, he punched out of the far side of their lines, only to see yet more enemies. But these foes were facing inwards, away from him. Charging forward, gun blazing, he sliced a path through them with more soldiers supporting him, and he reached the other side. In front of him was a sandbag barricade, with a platoon of PDF troopers in sky-blue uniforms manning it. They had three Heavy Bolters, and were carving away the enemy line with them.

He leaped over the barricade, and joined the firing with glee. After a few moments, the cultist attack was driven back, and there was wild jubilation. PDFers and Guardsmen alike hugged each other like lost brothers, overjoyed at this first linkup. Ollie was reported this to Captain Yakub, before turning to the commander of the PDF troopers.

"Greetings," said Ollie, "I'm PFC Oliver Steele, 12th Armageddon Steel Legion."

"Excellent," replied a lieutenant. He looked no older than eighteen or nineteen. "Welcome to Agripinaa. Or what's left of it."

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.40 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Top-250, Main Spine + +

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Issie and her comrades were noticeably subdued, compared to the jubilant PDFers. After going through the hatch she had come up in a PDF roadblock. The officer who had stopped her had been a Commissar keeping watch over the scared troopers. Issie was restless to be going, but her sergeant was detained, talking to the area commander, asking for a sitrep.

Finally, he returned.

"Well?" someone asked.

"Everything from Mid-50 down is in the hands of the enemy. The rest is heavily contested. Our boys are carving it out a street at a time, but they just rush back into every cleared area. And the area from Top-495 to Top-500 is occupied. The planetary governor went mad, declared his allegiance to the heretics. We've got a warband of Traitor Space Marines up there, and we have to carve our way in." there was silence.

Then Issie hefted her rifle.

"Well then, we'd best get moving," the Sergeant nodded. They cheered.

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+ + 002950.M41 + +

+ + 08.40 hours (Agripinaa System local time) + +

+ + Agripinaa + +

+ + Top-495, Main Spine + +

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George was sprinting towards the cultist position around the main lift shaft. A Hellhound Flame tank near to him doused a building in fire, adding to the already building inferno. Up ahead was a barricade. He was on Level Top-495. Even though this area was technically under Imperial control, the heretics were heavily contesting it.

He vaulted over a barricade and fired into a heretic. It was cut down by three bolts from his lasgun. He turned and fired at another cultist, this one pulling out an autopistol, but the pack clicked dry. He swore, and flung down his lasgun – he had long since run out of spare ammunition.

Drawing his knife, he ran the cultist through, turned – and felt a sharp pain in his chest.

A cultist stood before him, his hair a shock of bright green. He wore bright pink robes, and had a grin of ecstasy on his face.

And a rusty knife in his hand.

George fell to the floor…

A/N – Wooh, cliffhanger! Seriously though, I am SO sorry that I haven't updated in so long. Basically, I haven't been able to buckle down and do some serious writing. So this story is on temporary hiatus.

Still, I've learnt a lot from this. Namely, write a story BEFORE you publish it. That's going to be my policy from now on.