“Captain Karlion, we have found part of the Iron Father’s parcel, it seems to have caved part of this building in when it struck.” The scout’s voice came clear through Karlion’s head set. The captain’s enhanced optics lessened as the rising sun bled over the horizon casting long silhouettes contrasted with vibrant and near blinding sun rays slashing through the sky behind them.
“Good work, brother Afinael. Secure the piece, and when we find the other two we shall call in the speeders. Sergeant Markion, What have you to report?” Moments passed and the idle whir of the motorcycle seemed to grow louder in anticipation of the scout sergeant’s response. The Captain leaned back in the padded saddle, his power unit clanked lightly on the servo arm attached to the rear of the bike. Annoyed, the Captain reached back and shoved the elbow of the servo arm back to free up space. The captain was still getting used to the intricacies of the new bike.
“Sir, I believe the next piece lay ahead in the ruins of that small hovel to the east.”
“Excellent, brother sergeant. Find the third piece and let us be gone from this dusty Hell hole, I can feel it working into my armor.” Karlion leaned forward and twisted the grip, engine coming to life, tires desperately grabbing flinging lose sand till it catches, launching the bike and impatient captain forward in a flash echoing the machine’s rapid torque through the broken halls of the architectural corpse the scouts occupy. The Iron Hands abhor the base emotions that inhibit pragmatic decision making, but this felt good to the Captain, this power, this mastery over the environment, a pinnacle of human evolution beyond the reaches of nature. This bike was the exclamation point on the word “evolution.”
Perched on the third floor of the dilapidated administratum building, the sniper sergeant scanned the street below, cracked, heaved and reclaimed by the sand sporadic desert shrub. The captain flew into view from around behind the ruin the scouts sat in, jetting across the waste towards the torn sandstone house framed in a nest of wind blown dust. Just below the scouts Markion could see a fresh pock mark in the road right in front of their building. “We have eyes on the third package, right through the main entrance.”
“Good. Sergeant Afinael, can you secure that piece as well? Whoa! We have incoming!” Karlion swerved his bike through the dust as the Rhino sized shadow of a floating barge slid past him. Recomposing himself the captain gunned it straight ahead into the ruins. The barge emerged from the dust covered in razors of every size as well as the bodies of misshapen monstrosities with flesh covered insectoid appendages protruding from their backs each ending in a claw, spike or hook.
Karlion looked back toward his objective where now stood a patchwork amalgamation of skin, spike, feathers and leather in the shape of a hellish angel with a whip and rifle. “If I pry that helmet off could I make you scream? How I lust to see your innards on my bench.” The beastly angel croaked.
Accepting the taunt the marine sped forward plowing into the figure knowing it back against a wall letting loose dirt and splintered floorboards from above, clattering to the ground around the bike. The Haemonculus took advantage of the chaos to drive a bayonet in between the shoulder bad and chest plate of the marine. The servos in Karlion’s bionic arm winced at the intrusion, warm liquid pumped into his armored chest cavity slowly trickling down his side. He was comforted knowing that small nano bots, gifts from the Mechanicum, were addressing the incision already as the Xenos pulled his blade clear.
A Karlion felt the tinge of glory take hold, he had never seen one of these Dark Eldar before and he wanted to be the first in his company to slay one. As the captain dismounted his bike he reached back and retrieved his man-sized power axe, the hilt rest perfectly against his thumb and forefinger, the handle firm in his grip. The axe coming over his shoulder and down on the Eldar grazed the ceiling carving out pieces of the structure as is opened up the xenos’ leg. Instead of pain the creature almost looked pleased with the gash. This was no ordinary creature, his pleasure in pain angered the marine, so singular minded, so blind to the battle he lost his battlefield focus when five more of the Eldar joined from the barge.
The Captain’s situation was not looking good, the scout sniper team was poised watching the whole thing from on top of their perch. They had sent off a round each from their perch but it was no good, the Haemonculus was too well entrenched in the ruins. The dust settled to the right of the building where the shadows of another barge and a large sad looking blob encased in a metal shell floated along side.
“Which should we strike?” Whispered Aepheus, the scout to the Sergeant’s right. This was a close call, the Captain looked as though he would not survive the rumble but despite the skill of his marksmen there was no clear shot in the melee and dust. The sergeant knew that, even though his unit was very well prepared, each shot ran the chance of being spotted which made picking the right target very important. The empty barge was certainly going to be around for a while waiting for their troope, but it did have an armament that was working on the scouts on the second floor.
“The barge to the right.” Markion called out into the coms. The sniper rifles were not the best at opening up armor, but with a lucky show or two they may be able to down the pilot, slowing the movement of the group inside. Hopefully Afinael’s squad got the message.
The Haemonculus stood over the crudely dissected body of captain Karlion, disappointed that there was hardly anything left to desecrate after the machines replaced so much flesh. Part of a leg, chest and face were all there was to play with. The doctor’s attention and disgust was redirected when a large “thud” as well as shouts filled the streets ahead. He could see the sand drifting back to earth after one of his allotted Venom had crashed into the ground spilling the payload of Wracks with it.
The air cooled briefly sending a chill through the marines and Eldar, an ethereal breeze picked up leaving each man in his place. In the street a yellow light cut through the dull morning glow, it flickered a few times like a fire intermittently taking to it’s kindling. Six figures clad in black, red and bone slowly materialized through rock outcropping. Astral hounds bounding from the void clambered at the ghastly burning marines, clawing two of them into the abyss.
“If these men have souls I want them!” Cried the Haemonculus, each Wrack burning for the desire to tear a marine open to sate it’s master’s desire. The marines barely got shots off at the Talos tearing at it’s bulging bloated flesh before they themselves were ended.
“Get back on” Yelled the remaining Venom pilot. His original charge leapt aboard, the Talos turned to pursue the barge.
Sergeant Afinael’s squad opened fire on the Wracks out in the open, tearing them to pulpy ribbons. The Talos had a new target, it could see the long barrels sticking out from the ledges of the third floor. A falling marine drew the attention of the Venom gunner who took aim as well. Another marine fell back off the perch into the heart of the building.
Markion took aim at the Haemonculus, determined that if they could take their leader down they may still be able to secure the parts the came for.
The air was tight, the situation even tighter, this was not going well for the marines and Markion knew it. Below he could hear the shouting of his brother marines fighting for their lives, silence, then the sound of a krakk grenade exploding, a second one, near silent whisper shots brushed through the air and the dull sound of dead bodies hitting the ground. This was it, Sergeant Markion and his two subordinates were all that was left of this patrol.
“I am going to ask that you trust me entirely and with your lives. Do you trust me entirely? “
The two scouts looked puzzled. “Yes” Aupheus testified. “Yes” echoed Blarum.
“Hand me your grenades then take off your armor and lay down your arms.” Markion took off his tactical webbing and slid each grenade into a different pouch, took off his armor and gear aside from his comm device.
“Both of you close your eyes. Aepheus, hold out your right arm.” Concerned, Aepheus did just that. The scout retracted slightly as the cold blade moved into position against his armpit. Markion took the knife and sliced it around his brother’s shoulder and yanked hard tearing the arm from it’s socket. Blarum fought the human urge to look knowing just what was going on.
Moments later the two bandaged and maimed soldiers were huddled under fallen wall debris. A nearly naked sergeant Markion, covered in only his head set and camo cloak was bracing one last shot at the Haemoculus. “May the emperor’s spite be final.” He dropped his gun, picked up his knife braced the blade against the back side of his rib cage and tore it around the front of his shoulder and yanking it off. the sergeant crawled on one elbow and a knee to the hiding place where the marines and grenades were waiting. Pieces of the wall were falling apart from Dark Eldar splinter shots. Markion yanked a string that was attached to the grenade pins and threw the webbing at their dismembered limbs and gear. Several loud explosions and the floor where they had been nested fell through. Residual crumbling of the structure, but otherwise quiet.
The Haemoculus walked the grounds of the administratum building surveying for survivors. One corpse out front, six inside strewn about the war-made courtyard. A few solid flaps of the anamorphic wings and he was up on the top floor where the scouts had once been. Markion, now bandaged could barely make out two black boots land a few yards from their position. They walked about like a caged animal stalking a prey that it could never get. The boots left his view but he could still hear them angrily stomping on the tile and floor boards. With the scuttle of feet and foot several more of the xenos came up.
“Master, we have nothing. Each of the man have perished.” A weaker voice, as sinister as any chaos demon slithered through the broken floor.
A low thud and a sound of wet garbage impacting a hard surface. Markion could only imagine it was the filleted limb from one of the marines being kicked. He grabbed onto the mantra “the flesh is weak” to keep from losing his stomach and reminding himself of the chapter’s pledge.
“What a disappointment. All this for naught.” The Haemoculus muttered.
“We still have the cargo they were guarding. What shall we do with that?” One of the Wracks mentioned in an air of confidence.
“Dump it in the river and let us go. If I do not taste the pain of another I will not rest.” With that winged beast leapt off of the building in defeat followed by his sadistic followers.
Minutes later Markion, pressured by time running out, lifted a weakened finger to his headset to activate. “Sergeant Markion of patrol group Donaisis to command.”
“Roger brother sergeant, we hear you.”
“We are in dire need of apothecary assistance as well as EVAC for three men on my coordinates. We also have the location of Donaisis cargo.”
“On their way as we speak, brother.”
The marines felt a collective sigh of relief as Markion dropped his limp arm.
“Brother, what will come of us? We are but scouts, the Iron Father is not likely to bestow us with augments, that is save for proper legionnaire.” A worried Blarum reasoned.
“Today you are an initiate, tomorrow you are battle brother.” Markion relaxed against the collated wall and waited patiently.