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Story (Warhammer 40000) Legacy of the Blood Ravens: Battle Lines

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Darth_Zandalor, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. Darth_Zandalor

    Darth_Zandalor Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 2, 2009
    Title: Legacy of the Blood Ravens: Battle Lines

    Author: Darth Zandalor (AKA Arcsquad12 on FF.Net)

    Genre: Action, Grimdark

    Disclaimer: All rights to Warhammer 40K belong to Games Workshop and their subsidiaries. I own nothing but the computer I'm typing on.

    Content Warning: Graphic Violence (It's Warhammer)

    Characters: Blood Ravens Space Marines, Brother Cyrus in particular, Craftworld Ulthwe Eldar, Kauravan Imperial Guard.

    This is a story that I've been working on in collaboration with another FF.Net writer. It is based around the events of the Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War franchise, intending to expand upon the conflicts that the Blood Ravens find themselves in during the final years of the 41st Millennium. I highly recommend you check out my co-writer's work, which forms the main plot of the Dawn of War 2 games.

    His story: [link=]"Nothing But a List of Names to Mark His Ascension"[/link]

    This work is based on the game Dawn of War: Soulstorm, detailing the crushing defeat of the Blood Ravens that still affected the Space Marine Chapter well into their later years.

    Without further ado, here we go. If you have trouble following along at times, I'm writing from the impression that most people interested in this story have at least a passing knowledge of Warhammer 40K.
  2. Darth_Zandalor

    Darth_Zandalor Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 2, 2009
    The Prelude

    The air was cool as the sun rose over the jagged spires of the Fortress Monastery. Mists rising from the surrounding wetlands coated the ground, broken only by the feet of the large figures jogging towards the stronghold. They were the Blood Ravens, one of the Emperor's Chosen. Leading the small group was Cyrus, the Captain of the 10th Company. His blonde hair and impressive number of facial scars made him stand out amongst his brethren, but he paid no heed to their comments. Behind him trailed a group of Scouts, the youngest members of the Chapter, and neophytes to combat. They would get plenty of experience today.

    The Scouts reached the base of the Monastery, passing by the layered defenses being deployed by the serfs and servitors. A full company awaited their arrival, clad in the same crimson and bone coloured armor. Unfeeling green lenses glowed from their helmets as they awaited the news.

    Cyrus watched the assembled marines with a keen eye, looking for any signs of apprehension. For weeks, the Blood Ravens had been knee deep in the massive conflict raging throughout the Kaurava system. For weeks, Cyrus had been battling all forms of xenos, heretics, and sadly, even fellow servants of the Emperor. It saddened Cyrus greatly, but any hopes of an alliance with the Imperial Guard had broken down, and now General Vance Stubbs had arrived on Kaurava II, intent on ending the conflict between the Guard and Astartes in one move.

    Cyrus nodded towards brother Vaenor. The young scout marine dropped to one knee in front of the assembly to give the news to the Force Commander. Commander Boreale stood tall, his gold trimmed armour glistening in the faint sunlight of the early morning. His stern gaze bore down on the scout. Vaenor tried to keep his voice steady as he relayed the ill tidings the 10th Company had discovered.

    "Commander Boreale, enemy forces have been located within our perimeter."

    "Where?" demanded Boreale. "Where have they escaped your grasp?" his dismissive tone irritated Cyrus greatly. The commander did not think highly of the Scouts, especially those that had yet to truly test themselves in battle. Vaenor was eager to prove himself, however, and had personally requested to relay the information to Boreale. Cyrus had allowed him the chance. Initiative should always be encouraged.

    "Sou... Southern Quadrant,' Vaenor stammered, "But they were on the move. Their current location is unknown."

    Vaenor stared down at his feet, ashamed of himself. Commander Boreale continued to stare vehemently at the young scout. From the assembly, Cyrus remained impassive, while his frustration grew. He doesn't deserve this, thought Cyrus. He's still learning. As Captain of the 10th Company, it was Cryus' responsibility to maintain discipline and account for all actions taken by his Initiates. Cyrus immediately regretted allowing Vaenor to be subjected to this humiliation. He should be the one in front of the gathered troops, not a recruit with barely a year's combat experience. Vaenor was young, and he still had much to learn.

    Pondering the news, Boreale turned to face the assembled Marines. At the base of the Fortress Monastery, the bulk of the Blood Ravens' 2nd Company, Boreale's own men, awaited their leader's orders. Unreadable under their expressionless helmets, the Marines betrayed now emotion.

    "There is no time to be lost! Battle Brothers!"

    Cyrus tried to conceal a grimace. Boreale was a ferocious fighter, but as a speaker, he was no Captain Angelos.

    "Space Marines, today the enemy is at our door! We know our duty and we will do it! We fight for our honour, as Blood Ravens, as Space Marines, and we fight in the Emperor's Name!"

    Cyrus noted that Chaplain Gren had buried face in his gauntlet in exasperation. If the stoic Chaplain could not take Boreale's blathering, it bode ill for the rest. With the utterance of the Emperor's name, Cyrus and the rest of the marines bowed to their knees to give prayers and platitudes to the God Emperor.

    "And if we die this day, we die in glory! We die heroes' deaths! But we shall not die, no! It is the enemy who will taste death and defeat! As you know, most of our Battle Brothers are stationed in space, prepared to deep strike!"

    That caught Cyrus' attention. Of all the tactics of the Astartes, what Boreale was about to propose was one of the riskiest manoeuvres ever conceived by the Space Marines. Cyrus paled at the thought. Only once had the attempt succeeded, during the Second Armageddon War. Boreale was about to attempt a Steel Rain attack.

    Vaenor glanced nervously towards Cyrus. His teacher looked as though he seethed under his skin. Try as he might to keep a calm demeanor, Vaenor could see through the Captain's mask. He was furious.

    "Is something wrong, Captain?" he said.

    "I am fine, initiate." said Cyrus. "Heed the Commander's words. We shall talk afterwords." Cyrus and Vaenor turned their attention back to Boreale's speech. The Commander was describing the tactic known in the Codex as Steel Rain. The plan seemed to trouble his teacher greatly. Arreth, Teral and Denmor said nothing and betrayed no sign of confusion, but Vaenor knew they were both thinking the same as their Captain.

    "We are the Space Marines! We are the Emperor's fury!" finished Boreale with a rallying cry.

    The gathered troops let out a great shout in response, thrusting their weapons to the sky. The speech was done, and Chaplain Gren took Boreale's place as he turned towards the Monastery. Even beneath the skull shaped helmet, the gathered Marines knew that the Chaplain was angry.

    "The Reclusiam shall be open to any brother who wishes to receive his sermons before the battle commences. I should also add that it is every Astartes duty to obey the orders of our Force Commander. Without faith in our leaders, we have no faith at all."

    There was a rumbling in the distance. Vaenor's auditory implants filtered the noise until it was clear. They were the rumbling of tank treads, by the thousands. The Guard were getting closer. The Chaplain continued. "The Commander has ordered all Chapter Command personnel to the communications room to discuss battle strategy. Brother Captains Cyrus, Hethforn, Deimos, and Gelden, report there immediately. All squads, move to your assigned locations, and await further orders. Put faith in the Holy Father! We are the Blood Ravens!"

    As one, they chanted: "Let none find us wanting!"

    The assembly broke off, squads moving towards their posts, orders being shouted across Vox channels. Vaenor watched the other Scout teams break off, led by Elerion and Ariston. Vaenor was attached to Cyrus's squad, and they gathered around their leader, awaiting his command. The others looked uncertain, letting their concerns fill their faces. Vaenor huffed to himself at the show of fear.

    Cyrus addressed them. "Yes initiates? You have your orders, you should not keep them waiting. I will meet you when I am finished."

    "Sir, you seemed worried," said Teral. "What is it that troubles you?"

    Cyrus chuckled. "Psychiatric help from my own initiates, is it? It is not important. What is important is that you survive. You are the future of the Chapter, initiates. Have faith that we will succeed, but do not hesitate to retreat if the battle turns against you. I'll keep an open vox link with you. I would hardly be a teacher if I did not watch out for you. Keep your eyes sharp, and your wits sharper. Now go."

    The others reassured, Vaenor followed them towards the perimeter. He turned and caught a glance of Cyrus before he disappeared behind the lip of the steps to the Monastery. Whatever was troubling Cyrus, he was doing his best to hide it.

    Vaenor stepped up to walk side by side with Denmor, the recruit that he had fought against in the Blood Trials. Denmor was heavier built than Vaenor, and his brute strength had made him a natural with heavy weapons. He hauled his heavy bolter over his shoulder, and turned to speak to Vaenor.

    "So, what was it like speaking to the Commander? He's very different from Captain Cryus, isn't he?"

    "He seems big, compared to Cyrus," said Vaenor. "Just the way he carries himself. He looked down at me like I was a bug. I suppose intimidation is one way to earn loyalty."

    Denmor smiled. "Yes, it looked like you were being shamed in front of a parent, didn't it? You looked afraid."

    "That wasn't how it was at all," he snapped. "I was not afraid! I was bowing in respect."

    "Sure you were," said Denmor, smiling and shaking his head.

    "You could have gone up and spoke, but you didn't, did you?" said Vaenor.

    Teral and Arreth yelled back at the two. "Hurry up back there, you two argue like children!"

    "Best not keep them waiting, Vaenor." Denmor hauled his heavy bolter higher and jogged to catch up with the others. Vaenor just scowled and followed after him, splashing through the swamp as the Monastery gave way to the wilderness.
  3. Darth_Zandalor

    Darth_Zandalor Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 2, 2009
    Squabbling Like Children

    The entrance to the grand hall swung open as Cyrus stormed into the Monastery. Ornately crafted effigies and murals adorned the chamber's walls, recounting the exploits of the Blood Ravens and their search for knowledge. Cyrus paid little attention to the craftsmanship, his mind preoccupied. Entering a side passage, he soon arrived at the Communications Room, where the Captains awaited.​
    The Captains were pouring over the tactical charts emanating from the projector table, marking positions for suggested landing sites and defensive lines. Behind them, banks of servitors continued to print lengths of data, which chapter serfs diligently gathered and scurried away to other sections of the fortress. Slamming the door behind him, Cyrus brought a sudden silence to the room as the Captains stopped to stare at him.​
    "Commander, are you out of your mind?" Cyrus said. "You are asking your brothers to lay down their lives in an untested strategy. This isn't the time to try new maneuvers. We need a better plan."​
    Boreale's eyes met Cyrus' glare with equal measure. "What information could you provide me with, Scout Captain? More reports of missing contacts with the enemy? Perhaps we would not be forced into such measures had your initiates been more careful. Had you been more careful."​
    Cyrus ignored the slight, continuing. "What matters is not the events that brought us here, but what we can do to prevent further damage. There has to be a better way."​
    Captain Hethforn spoke up. "What would you suggest we do, Brother-Captain? Commander Boreale may be our leader, but he would do well to heed the council of his brethren."​
    Boreale scowled at Hethforn. "Wisdom," he muttered. "Old man, I would suggest that you heed your own words, and take my own thoughts into consideration. I am the Force Commander, my word is immutable."​
    Faster than Cyrus could blink, Hethforn slammed Boreale to the ground, shaking the floor as they landed. The pair lashed out, throwing wild punches. Boreale managed to kick his opponent off of him, and he jumped to his feet. Rage filled their eyes, and the pair charged towards each other once more. The serfs scuttled away as the two warriors fought, desperate to avoid being trampled.​
    Deimos, Gelden and Cyrus backed off to give the fighters space. Trying to stop two astartes from fighting could in itself be a fatal act. Gelden glanced nervously at Cyrus and Deimos. Deimos remained impassive, while Cyrus merely shook his head. First, a fight with the Guard and the Sororitas, and now, here they were, fighting amongst themselves.​
    "Impudent wretch, you will undo us all to satisfy your own ego!" shouted Hethforn. The elder Marine's face was scarred by Boreale's blows, but he fought as though they were mere scratches.​
    Boreale caught Hethforn's fist and countered with an uppercut that sent him tumbling to the ground with a heavy thud. Standing over his opponent, Boreale pushed his boot down upon Hethforn's chest plate. "I will lead this defense, Captain. My word is immutable. Yield, and I shall ignore this transgression."​
    "Enough of this!"​
    Boreale looked up to see the image of Gabriel Angelos staring down at him. The astropathic projection was emanating from the table generator, giving Angelos's body a blue glow. The white haired Captain of the 3rd Company's face was filled with disgust.​
    "Your petty arguments are not needed at this time, Commander. Let him stand." said Angelos.​
    "As you command, Captain." said Boreale, releasing Hethforn and bowing to Angelos. Cyrus smirked. It seemed only Angelos could control Boreale's arrogance. It was fitting, however, as Angelos had been the Commander's Captain during his time in the 3rd Company, many years ago.​
    "This bickering is pointless." said Angelos. "We have much to discuss. Commander Thule's forces have completed the purge of Kronus, and we are preparing to return to Subsector Aurelia. We took minimal casualties, but every Astartes lost is a brother nonetheless. Report on your situation.​
    Brother Captain Deimos spoke. "Captain Angelos, the battle goes ill. Four Imperial Guard Divisions deployed to Kaurava II three days ago, and they are making a push towards our base of operations. Casualties have been severe. My 7th Company is at the moment unable to provide support, and are undergoing medical recuperation aboard the Battle Barge Fortress of Solitude. Eighty six marines killed in action, as well as forty more wounded across the five companies. 2nd and 10th company elements are on the ground providing our frontline defence, while 5th and 6th companies are stationed aboard Strike Cruisers Retribution, and Judgement, preparing for Steel Rain operations."​
    Nodding, Angelos turned to Boreale. "I assume this was your plan, Commander? And the meaning for your disagreements no less, I'm sure. Show me what you intended, Boreale."​
    Boreale rose from his kneel and activated the holochart. The three dimensional display expanded, and a map of the surrounding region flickered into view. Four large blue arrowheads appeared on the edges of the map, advancing through the swamplands.​
    "Here is the frontline of General Stubbs' divisions," he said. "Our last estimate placed their numbers at roughly three hundred thousand guardsmen. Each of the four spearheads is commanded by a Baneblade and an accompanying armor contingent. The plan is to lure the guardsmen into the swamplands, and then target their heaviest vehicles with deep striking tactical squads from 5th and 6th companies."​
    Twenty red tracers representing the combined drop pod force rained down from the top of the holochart onto the blue arrows. "Once they pass the perimeter set by our scout teams, the squad commanders will initiate their targeting beacons to allow pinpoint drops into the enemy lines. After the initial impact, 10th Company will provide covering fire as 5th and 6th consolidate a forward counteroffensive. 2nd Company will then move to reinforce their positions and funnel the Guard into predetermined kill zones.​
    "This is General Stubb's estimated position, near the middle of the Guard's forces. When our marines regroup, we make for his position. If we can capture the general, the chain of command will break, allowing us to easily subdue the disorganized Guard troops in the ensuing confusion. We could end this conflict with minimal casualties."​
    "A bold plan Commander," said Angelos, 'but it is not without risk. Your tactics rely on the abilities of Captain Cyrus' scout squads. Cyrus, what is your take on the situation?"​
    Cyrus leaned over the table. The map display reset the pieces to their original positions. "While I do not doubt my initiates or their talents, I am concerned about putting the weight of the entire operation on their shoulders. I am still working on moulding them into a cohesive team, and I feel they are not yet ready for such a task. I would suggest using the drop pods to instead focus on deploying tarantula turrets and Hellfire Dreadnoughts at specific points, creating a layered defense that will slow down the Imperial Guard advance while our main force is held in reserve.​
    "Steel Rain is only effective en masse, or when we have a geographical advantage. Commander Dante proved at Armageddon that a full chapter performing the manoeuvre can result in victory, but the circumstances are not the same. General Stubbs is no Ork, and he has proven that it is fatal to underestimate him. Likewise, we don't have the numbers to face him in a direct fight as Commander Boreale suggests we do. He is more likely to move over terrain instead of with it, negating the idea of funneling the guard into kill zones."​
    "Is that your assessment, Cyrus? Have you more to say?"​
    "Yes Captain Angelos, I do. I know no fear, but I am not so blind that I do not see a way out of this mess. A battle against our allies is a worst case scenario. I would recommend we evacuate and return to Aurelia. This crusade could end today, and with it, the future of our Chapter. I don't want to risk that."​
    "What?" said Gelden, his eyes growing wide, "Captain, you would have us abandon our relics, our knowledge? You would go against the principles on which our chapter was founded?"​
    "Don't lecture me on our principles, Gelden," said Cyrus. "Collecting our past will mean nothing if we do not have a future. Knowledge is power, but only as long as you are alive to use it.​
    "Engaging the Imperial Guard directly is suicidal, Angelos. My Scouts can harass their soldiers from a distance, buying time to allow our remaining ground forces to escape. When all of them are away, Thunderhawk extraction crews can retrieve my Initiates."​
    A long silence followed. Cryus took note of the fact that Boreale had not objected once during his proposal. The silence was broken when a quivering serf approached the table, holding a length of parchment in his trembling hands. Deimos inspected the paper, and spoke gravely.​
    "Captains, we have a problem. Our network infiltrators picked up an Imperial transmission sent from Kaurava I. A Navy battle group has launched from the neighboring Cordon System to reinforce the 252nd Conservators. We must choose a course of action now. Every minute we stand here, the enemy approaches. What will it be? Do we stand and fight, or do we retreat?"​
    Angelos sighed. "Cyrus, as much as I respect your options and your willingness to protect your brethren, this is Commander Boreale's assignment. Chapter Command dictates that he has control over the final decision. Do as he commands. Brothers, stand true, and stand fast. Knowledge is power, guard it well."​
    Captain Angelos's image dissolved from the projector. Commander Boreale smiled to himself. "Then it is settled. We move forward as planned. To your stations, Captains, I shall meet you on the battlefield."​
    "I will return to the Fortress of Solitude, Commander," said Deimos. I will coordinate the ships' lance batteries and keep our forces updated on the Navy's movements. Hethforn, Gelden, with me. I will accompany you to your vessels."​
    The trio of captains exited, leaving Boreale and Cyrus alone. Boreale stared at Cyrus as he began to walk past, but Cyrus grabbed his chest plate. In his Scout armour, Cyrus was tiny compared to the massive Boreale, but he made his presence large.​
    "Don't do this Boreale. Listen to me, please. This isn't the right course of action."​
    Boreale shrugged Cyrus away. "Get off me, Scout Captain. This is my battle, and my chance to prove myself. The plan will not be changed."​
    "Boreale," said Cyrus quietly. "You were one of my best students. You were one of Angelos's finest sergeants. Don't throw it all away chasing glory. Think about what you have condemned us to."​
    Boreale said nothing, and marched out of the room, leaving Cyrus behind. In the corridor outside, he shook his head at the folly of the Scout Captain. This was his battle, and his to win. Nothing would change that.​
    Several miles away, no voice could be heard above the endless rumbling of engines. The swamplands were flattened underfoot by thousands of boots and armored tracks. The Imperial Guard continued their inexorable march across the Lands of Solitude.​
    From his platform atop a Baneblade modified for communications operations, the young Governor General and his retinue watched as thousands of troops strode past to the beat of a marching tune. He looked on with pride at his soldiers. They were not the strongest, nor the best trained, but countless citizens that had volunteered to join his cause in retaking the system. What had begun as a pitiful force of less than ten thousand ill trained soldiers had swelled towards millions, as citizens had risen up to volunteer their services to the Emperor. Their faith and devotion were a sight to behold, thought Stubbs.​
    When he had arrived, the 252nd Conservator Regiment had grown complacent, fat and lazy. It was no wonder that the Warp Storm had so swiftly overtaken Kaurava IV under their watch. It had already cost them dearly, and so Stubbs job had become twofold: to secure the sector, and to rebuild this group of incompetents into a force worthy of the Imperial Guard.​
    It hadn't been easy. Misfortune had struck almost as soon as the fighting began. A hundred Baneblades, shipped out across the system to battle the enemies of the Imperium, all gone in an instant. Transports shot out of the skies before their precious cargo could even be deployed. The Imperium's soldiers were fighting amongst themselves, and all it had achieved was prolonging the crusade.​
    The Adepta Sororitas had agreed to a ceasefire, realizing that they had no chance of saving the sector on their own. But the Blood Ravens would not accept. They had other reasons to be here that went beyond purging the sector of Chaos. They were hiding something, and they were willing to kill for it. It saddened Stubbs greatly that they had come to blows, but for the good of the sector, he would see justice brought to the Blood Ravens.​
    To his side, his trusted Lord Commissar Danalt was speaking into his Vox. "Yes sir... I understand... of course, I will put the General through to you immediately.' He turned to Stubbs. "General, the Admiral would like to speak to you now."​