Chapter One: The Burning Tomb
Trapped. The superhuman warrior found himself trapped under the remains of what used to be a large stone building. He could not seem to recall what the building he was fighting in was prior to its demise. In fact, at that moment he could not even remember what planet or system he had been fighting on. He was not able to perceive when he was falling in and out of consciousness anymore, despite the nature of his superhuman physiology, all of that was now a blur. His Larraman Cells were no longer finding enough fibrinogen to bond to, his bleeding was not slowing fast enough. None of it mattered to him, however. All he felt was a simple, yet intense impulse: the burning desire to spill the blood of those who opposed him. To rend them limb from limb and feel the hot fluid that brought them life flow across the ground he stood upon.
The reality of the situation was grim for the warrior. He was floating just above the embrace of death. His once robust armor had cracked and split when the stone slabs forming his makeshift tomb found the points of failure of the mighty suit he wore. His body was broken and failing from the nearly endless fighting. Had the fighting lasted for hours? Or days? Or months? Time had become irrelevant, as the insanity of the blood lust was too much for even his hardened mind to resist. Feelings of pain had vanished from his body not long before this battle had begun. Fear was something that had been alien to him for a very long time now. This of course, was expected, he was one of the finest warriors that could be considered human (though truly, he was now considered something beyond human). And so he laid there, trapped within the rubble, free of pain and fear as the last few life support systems in his armor started to fail, the end was coming for him in his unfortunate tomb. His mind on the other hand, was anything but free. The blood lust drove him to insanity, and being unable to bring his wrath upon his foes made an unfathomable rage manifest itself within his mind and soul. He would die meaninglessly despite the burning rage and resolve in him, and became even angrier as the darkness came for him.
But it had not always been like this.
"How long until our arrival?" asked a large man clad in golden armor. The lights of the bridge bounced off his magnificent exterior, and combined with the extremely ornate patterns that adorned the suit made him appear inhuman, as if he were the incarnation of a god.
"Approximately 90 minutes, Commander" answered a serf attending to one of the many cogitators flashing on the bridge of the vessel.
The bridge was more decorated than any of the other part of the ship, save the holy chapel. A large mural depicting battles fought over the last millennia, some of the greatest fought over ten millenia ago, adorned the high ceilings of the bridge. In the black marble pillars that reached the ceiling of bridge were carved the thousands of names of those that had died while serving from the ancient ship. The golden trim around nearly everything visible made the command center of the vessel appear surreal. Nearly one hundred serfs attended to the cogitators and other machines around the bridge, though all aboard the ship knew there must have been many times that number aboard the ship. This was of course necessary, considering the huge undertaking that was required to keep the ships deadly passengers working at the ruthless efficiency they were infamous for. The vessel in itself, was a marvel. It was several thousand years old, a gift from the shipyards of Mars in return for the great deeds the present owners had accomplished for the Adeptus Mechanicus. It must have taken at least a century to construct such a masterpiece, a technological and aesthetic wonder becoming ever rarer in the galaxy as the centuries passed. While the beauty of the bridge and chapel were awe inspiring, perhaps it was the exterior of the ship that was the most amazing. The hull was painted the same crimson that many of the ship's inhabitants wore, including the superhuman warriors that it was currently transporting. The rear of the ship was a roughly rectangular, and capped with a large cathedral like structure. Formed by large spires and numerous communication and targeting arrays, the golden trimmed cathedral was testament to the ferocity of the servants of the emperor. The nose of the mighty vessel was formed by a long rectangular section lined with landing bays and other deployment outlets. The front tip of the battleship was formed by a sloping curve, resembling the famous retribution class battleships of the Imperial Navy. Extending from the prow of the ship were four very long tubes, though they were only one section (albeit a very powerful one) of the ship's massive arsenal. The number of weapon batteries deposited around the outer layers of the ship was almost as staggering as the seven kilometer length of the vessel. The ship packed enough firepower to down a naval force comprised of several similarly sized cruisers and level entire hive cities. It's massive void shields and extremely heavy armor allowed it to take huge amounts of punishment to push past planetary defenses and unleash its awesome assault. Despite the destruction that the ship could bring, by far, the most terrifying aspects of the massive vessel were located near the rear of the ship, they were not weapons or armor, but the name of the ship, and the symbol that it bore, signifying who or what its cargo was, and moreso, a harbinger of death.
Currently, those aboard the vessel could see a small blue and green orb suspended in the void, its surface obscured by the huge clouds of smog produced by what could only be sprawling grey-brown cities that covered some of the green land masses. In 90 minutes however, the orb would be quite easily identified as being a hive world, bearing a certain resemblance to Holy Terra. However, while Terra had numerous satellites and defensive outposts in orbit high above its surface, this planet had nearly none left, those that remained were either being boarded or destroyed by the enemy now. The skies however, were far from empty. From the planets surface, one could look up and see asteroid-like bodies in orbit, and even some falling into the planet. Accompanying the "roks" as the enemy called them were old, lost ships, some of them even bound to others, known to the Imperium as space hulks. Anything could occupy the remains of an abandoned vessel, but whatever was aboard, it usually was not welcoming to the servants of the Emperor. The inhabitants of space hulks ranged anywhere from servants of the Dark Gods to Tyranids, leaving the boarding of a space hulk to be largely unpredictable and dangerous. In this case, it was Orks. Foul greenskin beasts had used the space hulks to travel across the stars to reach this world, looking to loot and plunder for weapons and anything else their primitive culture deemed valuable. In truth, they may have just been looking for what they called a good fight, which basically meant assembling as many Orks as possible, and crashing onto a single world, starting a war. In this case, it was a full scale "WAAAGH!", and one of the largest ones ever assembled in the galaxy. The problem was, they had chosen a world inhabited by untold billions of humans. The Orks could not be allowed victory on the world of Armageddon.
Fortunately for the human populations inhabiting this world, their calls for aid had been answered, although the orks had already made planet fall. The letters on the side of the ship were written in golden script, which contrasted with the crimson hull, making the ship appear as a burning lance. The name spelled out by the letters was Europae, and the symbol it bore was a bright red droplet shape cast over a pair of white, gleaming, angelic wings. The cargo of the Battle Barge Europae would be one of the deadliest ones the Orks would ever know, for once the Battle Barge entered Armageddon's atmosphere, it would deploy the greatest warriors man has ever known, those of the Emperor's holy Adeptus Astartes. These angels of death were the Blood Angels, one of the First Founding and most honorable chapters among the Space Marines. Doom would be delivered to the Orks by the Blood Angels via Thunderhawk and drop pod. Death would be cast unto them by the holy bolter and chainsword. To the further dismay, or possibly pleasure, of the greenskins, the Europae was not alone. A few hundred kilometers away was Europae's sister ship, the Battle Barge Blade of Vengeance, a similarly ancient vessel, though slightly different in overall appearance, sped towards the despairing planet. In front of the two large barges were the Chapter's four strike cruisers close enough to the Armageddon system to respond to the Ork incursion, and several of the rapid strike vessels in service to the Sons of Sanguinius. The Blood Angels had come in force, deploying eight of its companies, along with the Ultramarines and Salamanders chapters, to make sure that Armageddon would not stand alone against the green tide. Such a large deployment of Space Marines could only mean one thing: By the Emperor, Armageddon would not fall.
The golden warrior standing at the command lectern was somewhat troubled by the response of the crewman. "Ninety minutes...How many more innocents must die before my brothers and I bring them salvation?" Focusing on the situation at hand, the golden warrior turned towards another large man, this one clad in the recognizable crimson armor of his brothers.
"Captain Aphael, tell your Sergeants to make sure their squads have all their wargear prepared, this battle is not likely to be over quickly."
"Yes, My Lord", the captain of the Second Company moved to exit bridge, towards the deployment bays where he knew his company would already be. The Second Company was to be sent to take back the Hades Hive from its greenskin assailants. Accompanying the Second Company aboard the Europae was the chapter's legendary First Company, composed of the chapters most elite brothers, trained in the use of Tactical Dreadnought Armor. The Terminators were already perparing to be deployed as boarding parties to destroy the remaining Ork roks and space hulks, to prevent more Orks from making planetfall. Their thicker, more resilient armor made them more capable of boarding and destroying a space hulk, as they could easily tear through the walls to cripple the ork vessels quickly. However, it limited their overall speed, making them unfit to clear half of a hive city. For this type of role, the Second Company was perfect. Masters of lightning assault, the Marines of the Second Company would be able to reinforce their brothers fairly quickly, wherever the Ork resistance was thickest.
"Commander, what of our brothers that have succumbed to The Flaw?" Asked another armored giant. This one carried a large axe, and wore a jump pack adorned with large angellic wings attached to his back, as well as a relic suit of Artificer Armor. He also bore a rosarius, a symbol of his position as a Chaplain.
"Please, old friend, Dante will suffice. As for our less fortunate brothers, give them the proper words so they may find an honorable death. They will remain aboard the Europae until the second company finds where the commander of the Ork resistance is, and then sent to their final battle via drop pod. The Second Company will not be properly deployed to lay siege to a fortified Ork encampment." Though they had lost their sanity, they had been imbued with a fraction of the Primarch's own power, they were more capable than the First Company when it came to destroying their opponents in melee combat. The truth was that the Death Company would not likely find their honorable death fighting lesser enemies, being invigorated with the strength of the Primarch left only the strongest enemies as worthy opponents. If they were not killed by the enemy, then the Grim One would have to perform his sad, but sacred duty. Dante always hated the thought of having to send his own men to execute their lost brothers, in his mind, it was the worst way to die. "May the Emperor protect their souls, and embrace them as loyal subjects to the end." thought the Chapter Master.
"Very well, I shall perform the Rites of Salvation, and try to keep them from any more visions of our Father's final moments. But, I bear grim news as well Dante" said the Chaplain.
"Speak, Astorath" , replied the commander.
"One more of our brothers has succumbed to The Flaw, and I believe him to finally be lost" said the High Chaplain, a hint of sadness in his voice.
The remaining Space Marines aboard the bridge of the Europae hung their heads in respect and prayed to the Emperor for their brother's guidance. Every Blood Angel understood the terror of The Flaw, yet held the highest respect for their battle-brothers that had fallen victim to it, for one day, the same fate would be their own.
Dante simply looked at the Chaplain with a heavy heart, every brother lost to The Flaw felt as painful as losing his first brother when he was just a Sergeant, even after 1100 years of being the Chapter Master. "Tell me brother, who is it?"
"Lexicanium Calistarius, he has fallen victim to the Red Thirst" replied Astorath.
Dante knew he would lose another exceptional brother that day. Though he was not a high ranking Librarian, Calistarius was a shining example of valor in the chapter. Though he was slightly alienated by some of his brothers due to his mutation as a psyker, he showed extreme strength of character as well as a martial prowess only rivaled by the most elite brothers of the First Company. He had already earned the Crux Terminatus for his deeds long ago, and was one of the only marines to return from the boarding from the Space Hulk Sin of Damnation. He had been a knowledgeable brother as well, understanding nuances of science and the warp far more than some of the Techpriests of Mars. Of course he used these skills to his advantage, and as such was able to move through time and space much more fluidly than majority of his brothers. As a librarian, he was never a part of one specific company, but went wherever the Chapter Council thought he was needed. He had even served as a part of Dante's Honor Guard once, when the Chapter Master himself fought to destroy the horrors of chaos. Calistarius had always showed the strongest character among his brothers, never yielding to anyone but Dante himself. Due to this character, he was an unwavering servant of the Emperor. Losing this brother would not be the greatest of blows, but one that Dante knew at least he would feel himself. With a sigh, he instructed the Chaplain, "Very well then, repaint his armor and place him into the ranks of the Death Company, may he bring glory in his final moments to the Chapter."
"As you wish my lord"
After a moment to reevaluate the tactical ramifications of the Librarian's transference into the Death Company, the golden armored Astartes walked towards the front of the command dais so that all on the bridge could see him. Turning to the remaining Space Marines on the bridge, his jaw visibly tightened and he started to speak again,"Brothers, today we go to the world of Armageddon. The Orks seek to extinguish the Emperor's light from this planet, and take it as one of their own worlds. As sworn protectors of the Imperium and the manifestation of His Will, we cannot allow this. Along with our brothers of the noble Salamanders and Ultramarines, we will rid this world of the Green Plague!" Suddenly, the familiar fire returned to Dante's voice and stature, as the hearts of all that could see or hear him swelled with pride. To marine and serf alike the Chapter Master seemed to radiate courage and honor, as 1100 years of experience and valor were now apparent to those in his presence. Lord Commander Cervan Dante shone as a bright beacon of hope for the Imperium right in front of them. It was this man that cleaved the mighty Skarbrand in half at the Gates of Pandemonium, this voice that led the Blood Angels to their many glories over the past millennium. It was the sheer existence of such a man that would inspire the defenders of the beleaguered Armageddon to rise above the many horrors of the galaxy. He thrust the Axe Mortalis in the air and called out to all aboard the Blood Angels fleet, "In the name of mankind, we will purge the alien! All Blood Angels personnel, prepare for battle!" All the men and women Dante could see were on their feet, inspired by one of the most venerated humans in the Imperium. Missile batteries across the ship began to be loaded and laser batteries charged. The Blood Angels would not leave without victory,"For those who cannot be redeemed! For the Primarch! For the Emperor!"
In unison, Blood Angel and human alike responded to his call,"For Sanguinius! For the Emperor!"
Despite the roaring cheers across the Battle Barge, Dante could not rid thoughts of Calistarius from his mind. He had a feeling something was not quite normal about the Librarian's succumbing, though only time would tell what it was.
Authors note: This is my first fanfic ever, so don't expect this to be great by any means. In fact, you should probably expect the opposite.
What I know so far: Slow start, I intend on making things pick up faster in later chapters. It's probably confusing, as it establishes another character much more, before establishing the main character very much at all.
I'm thinking of having the next chapter be told from the perspective of the main character (the one introduced first). And describe a less lengthy flashback from the time before he was trapped, and then go back to him being trapped, and finally continue his story. I know it sounds kind of weird/nonsensical, but I'm still trying to figure out how to take this story.
What I would really appreciate: Reviews, anything, if you think it's awful, go ahead and say so, just tell me why you think that please. Or say that you like the stupid paragraph formatting, I don't mind! I don't know what I'm doing yet, so any constructive criticism will be so helpful!