[40K] FORGED IN FAITH: A story of the Imperial Hammers

05/12/2012 in Warhammer 40K

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“Arkus Prime was once a shining beacon of hope, in the dark endless void of space. It was a shrine world, and every inch was sacred and devoted to ‘Him on Earth.’ It was once one of the most sacred places one might ever make a pilgrimage to, apart from Holy Terra herself. As brightly as it once had shined,  it was now as equally desecrated. Blighted and fouled, Arkus Prime is now a charnel house. The world’s population down to the last man, woman and child, lay slaughtered in the defiled temples and chapels throughout the single continent of ArkusPrime…sacrificed in an orgy of death and blood in the name of Khorne.”
FORGED IN FAITH: A Story of the Imperial Hammers
A Warhammer 40,000 short story by Connor McKane
Brother Sergeant Malcolm Turk crouched in the shadow of the statue of Saint Bacchus twenty-five stories above his target and waited. Inside his helmet he quietly chanted the ’Litany of Preparedness’ and double checked his war-gear. The planet’s sun was sitting low in the morning sky. The bright, white star, so similar to the sun of ancient and blessed Terra, warmed his power armor against the cold of the late winter air.
Despite the blood, grit and grime of six months of battle caked on his power armor, the burnished gold of the Imperial Hammers chapter colors still shined in the morning sun. The black fields on his armor’s pauldrons were scorched and chipped by the poorly aimed las-fire of the traitor guard and the errant bolts of the World Eaters chaos marines who occupied this world… Arkus Prime.
* * *
Arkus Prime was once a shining beacon of hope, in the dark endless void of space. It was a shrine world, and every inch was sacred and devoted to ‘Him on Earth.’ It was once one of the most sacred places one might ever make a pilgrimage to, apart from Holy Terra herself. As brightly as it once had shone,  it was now equally desecrated. Blighted and fouled, Arkus Prime is now a charnel house. The world’s population down to the last man, woman and child, lay slaughtered in the defiled temples and chapels throughout the single continent of ArkusPrime…sacrificed in an orgy of death and blood in the name of Khorne. The bodies of the servants of the Imperium of Man had been hacked to pieces and strewn about the holy shrines as a gruesome tribute to the Blood-god.
The Imperial Hammers Strike Cruiser Redemption, in low orbit over Vulkanus, had received via sub-space transmission, a small part of a brief distress call requesting aid for Arkus Prime. The Imperial security codes were that of the planetary defense force commander, then suddenly, it was silenced. The chapter’s Librarians called for a conclave, and announced that they had detected the taint of the ruinous powers.  The chapter’s Librarium hailed the War Council of Vulkanus, and Lord Bjorn the chapter master. They sent a message via Astropath, requesting the nearest Imperial Hammers strike-force lend aid to the embattled world. The Second company heeded the call for aid.
When the Second company made planet fall,  they were taken by surprise in a treacherous ambush from the tainted traitor guardsmen of the P.D.F.   Masquerading as survivors of the resistance on ArkusPrime, the traitor guard destroyed the spaceport by igniting the extensive promethium reserves in the tanks beneath the spaceport. The simultaneous attack on the marines, caught unawares, and bolstered by the blood-drunk World Eater chaos marines caused massive casualties to the Second company as it tried to deploy planetside. Arkus Prime’s beach-head cost the lives of almost half of the Second company in the first few hours.
Despite their massive losses, the Imperial Hammers would not be denied, and a counter attack was launched.  Pushing back the vile traitors and granting a foot hold on the planet for the rest of the company to make land fall before the overwhelming naval element of the chaos filth destroyed the venerated strike cruiser the Revenge, home to the Second company for over three millennia.  In its death throes, the Revenge had sent a desperate astropathic message to the chapter, requesting assistance, and the chapter had answered…
The Imperial Hammers of the Third and Fourthcompanies had arrived and brought with them a host of Grey Knights, ready to rid the world of the taint of Chaos. Upon hearing of the arrival of their brethren, the Second company fought on to ensure that their reinforcements arrived safely, but the warp spawn had other plans.
In a decisive strike, the traitor marines were able to take control of the orbital defenses and in a day that will live in infamy were able to blast dozens of the falling Hammers drop-pods and Thunderhawks out of the sky, before they even had a chance to return fire. When the butcher’s bill was settled, the losses were staggering. One-hundred and thirty five Imperial Hammers and thirty Grey Knights were vaporized by the orbital defenses of Arkus Prime.
While the losses were crippling, the remaining elements of the Imperial Hammers and their Grey Knight brothers vowed that the deaths of their kin would be avenged. Led by veteran sergeant Pax Ares, the Hammers and Knights fought tooth and nail and drove the World Eaters before them, crushing them with a white-hot righteous zeal and skill that could only be wrought in the fires of unwavering faith. Even when the World Eaters had sacrificed hundreds of their traitor guard allies to rip open a portal in the warp and summon forth a massive host of demons, the fury of the heroes of the Imperium of Man did not waiver. The Grey Knights valiantly brought the hammer of the Ordo Malleusdown upon the demon-filth and with the might of their nemesis weapons and the righteous bark of their storm bolters, showed the World Eaters what true bloodlust was.
Throwing the demons howling back into the warp, the Grey Knights shone brightly that day, and the host of demons where decimated. The portal shuddered and cracked ripping the materium asunder with the energies of the warp as it bled through to reality, but it had cost the Grey Knights their lives. In the end the Grey Knights were all slain, but so richly did they sell their lives, that the tide had now turned. Now the remnants of the three remaining companies of traitor marines cowered in the temple complex, awaiting the Hammer’s fall.

Malcolm Turk finished the litany, readied his weapons, checked the chronometer on the display of his helmet, and activated the comm-rune opening the vox to the command channel. He did not need to turn to look at his unit. He knew that they were ready. For so long they had fought and bled to bring them to this day, they would not falter. For if they did, they would fail, and that was unimaginable. His squad was made up of the last remnants of the jump-pack equipped assault marines on ArkusPrime. They were hardened by battle, sharpened by discipline, armored in resolve and forged in faith, but they only numbered nine, only four of which were part of Malcolm’s original squad of ten. Brothers Turnn, Dagnor, Namus and Scarr were all that was left of assault squad Beta of 3rd Company. Sergeant Fenris ‘Ulf, veteran assault sergeant of 4th company had appointed Malcolm the leader of this assault, due to the fact that most of his right arm had been vaporized by a plasma cannon four days ago. Despite this fact, Malcolm would have bet his right-eye that Fenris would still have thrashed him in the sparring pits, one-armed or not. Fenris’ remaining brothers Eran, Payne and Aaravan, had taken Malcolm’s lead and would not fail him. They would be the hammer in the hand of the Emperor, and forge victory from the flames of war and the anvil of righteousness. They would ring true, and with bolt and blade craft a tomorrow for Arkus Prime.

There was a sharp beep in his helmet and Sergeant Ares’ voice spoke through the vox caster. Malcolm rose in the sunlight from the shadow and prepared himself for the assault as Sergeant Ares spoke to all the marines of the Imperial Hammers.
“Sons of Bjorn, Hammers of the Imperium, now it is time. Time to show these traitors that only the Emperor deserves our devotion. Only the righteous can stand before the fall, and not waiver from their course, and the only thing that Chaos will forge is defeat. You have your orders… you will not be defeated. Strike True! Be the Hammer in the hand of the Emperor!”
With the last word Malcolm sprang into the air, the jump pack firing and taking him high above the battlefield. He could see the ramshackle barricades about the doors and windows of the complex, and the hastily dug trenches of the traitors. Almost immediately the fire began to pour out of the openings and the hastily dug trenches below. Pax Ares’ plan was simple in theory, and therefore would require perfection in execution. Malcolm’s assault squad would be the lynch-pin for the entire operation. They must operate fearlessly, viciously and expertly. When the plan was presented, and the chance of survival was revealed to be almost none, Malcolm was honored to stand and place his helmet on the war-room table signifying his intent for this honor. The countenance he wore as he looked at the assembled sergeants silenced them all, and told them he would not be denied this honor.
He was to lead the nine man assault on the complex’s western edge, and kill everything they could. Each carried the remaining melta-bombs and scores of grenades so they might make the loudest noise possible, drawing the attention to themselves, diverting the Traitor Marines to address them, and allowing the remaining battle brothers to get into position for the final blow. They would rain so much righteous might down upon the chaos-filth that even the Emperor himself would have to turn his gaze from the warp, just to see what the commotion was about.
As the fires of thier jump-packs launched the assault marines skyward, Malcolm gave his orders through the vox channel assigned to his squad.
‘Loose grenades!’ he shouted above the roar of the jump-packs.
Dozens of grenades rained down as the assault marines furiously activated and threw them toward the heretical positions. The dull thumps of the grenades blasted dirt and rock into the air, and wreaked havoc all across the western front of the temple complex. The severed limbs and ruined bodies of heretics flew in every direction as the fury of the Imperial Hammers’ assault brought all eyes to bear on the western front.
‘Bolters, fire!’ Malcolm shouted and the rain of death began, and mass reactive shells drove the heretics under the nearest cover. Those brave or fanatic enough to continue to fire up at the assault marines were blown apart. Skulls burst and showered gore on their cowering comrades. The Imperial assault was indeed furious, but the overwhelming amount of the traitor’s return fire was withering.  Cursed bolts and traitorous las-fire, much more accurate now that the distance was closing between the Imperial Hammers and the Traitors, scored again and again. Las-rifles cracked and scorched the Marines’ armor as they fell, bolts pierced and pattered off power armor, causing some of the falling assault marines to falter in their trajectories. Cursed bolts punched through Sergeant Fenris’ chest plate and blew many plates of ceramite from his armor, but he did not cease fire. None did.
‘Melta!’ Malcolm screamed now into the vox, the din of battle becoming deafening.
Brother Scarr hurled the melta-bomb toward the second floor barricade, his timing was almost perfect as the anti-tank bomb exploded in a ball of super heated gas and concussive force. A huge hole appeared in the wall on the second floor of the complex, the ancient granite and marble façade vaporized. The heretics barricaded behind the wall were either vaporized as well, or blown apart in the resulting explosion. Malcolm and the remaining marines timed their fall well and firing the descent engines expertly, slipped into the hole made by the melta, landing in a now undefended area, devoid of traitors, but it would not be so for long.
‘Seal the eastern entrance, let’s funnel these bastards down the southern corridor,’ Malcolm, ordered as he directed half of the squad to seal the hall with explosives. He turned and instantly recognized that the squad was missing Sergeant Fenris. ‘Where is Fenris?’ Malcolm asked.
Brother Namus answered, ‘His jump-pack was damaged, and he fell short. I watched him fall into a squad of traitors in the trench below.’
‘Then we will honor him,’ Malcolm said has he activated the thumb-switch on his chainsword, ‘now we’ll show this traitorous filth what true terror is!’
The assault squad charged down the southern stairs into a throng of Heretics, as the explosives in the eastern corridor collapsed it upon itself. The traitor guard below thought the universe was coming to an end, when Malcolm and his squad crashed into them in a blur of bolter fire and whirring chainblades.
Malcolm brought his blade down on a Heretic’s shoulder and opened the man from shoulder to hip, sending blood spraying into the air. The coward’s torso had barely fallen to the ground before Malcolm blasted two more apart with his bolt pistol. His squad fared just as well, and soon not one Heretic remained alive. A ring of corpses were a testament to their fury. He had only a moment to glace over his shoulder to take stock of his squad before he head the tell-tale drum of ceramite boots coming down the corridor before him. He too cover on one side of the doorway and saw in the low light the outline of Traitor Marines. He activated his vox, and whispered.
‘Scarr get that last melta in there.’
As ordered, Scarr activated the melta-bomb and flung it down the hall. ‘MELTA!’ came a strangled cry from the far end of the corridor, then the massive bomb did its duty. Superheated air and concussive force filled the hall, black blood and shrapnel from the shredded Chaos Marines shot out of the corridor like a bolt. ‘NOW!’ Malcolm ordered. The squad charged down the corridor blasting anything that moved with their blessed bolts, and soon this area was quiet as well. Those traitors not vaporized by the melta were now laying in pools of their ichorous black blood, broken upon the chainblades and bolts of the Emperor’s Hammers. Despite the flawless execution of the plan to this point, the area seemed quiet, it was very quiet… much too quiet. Malcolm felt a tinge of disappointment, feeling as if they had failed to draw the attention required of the plan.
His fears were unfounded, for no sooner than he thought they had failed then they heard the tromping of the power-armored boots of dozens of Traitors closing on thier position. He consulted a data slate and the blue-print layout of the temple complex of Saint Quinn, Savior of Lanisus. Satisfied, he threw it down the corridor smashing it upon the far wall. They were in position, and from the sound of the approaching combatants, they had indeed brought the bulk of the Chaos spawned traitors to the western side of the complex. Malcolm gave the order to use the bodies of the traitor marines to build a barricade.
‘Pile that filth high men, he have to keep these fools busy for a few moments longer. Barricade here, and close that side passage, we have to hold for a few minutes more, and you had better hold brothers, or you will answer to me, then to the Emperor.’ he said with a sly smile.
They had less than a minute to pile the dead Traitors to a height no more than their waist before the first of the cursed bolts began to slam into the wall of warp-filth. The amount of fire now filling the corridor was, to say the least, intense, Malcolm could feel the explosions from the charging traitors’ grenades echoed down the hall. So thick was the bolter fire, that many times pure bolt met defiled bolt midway causing the mass-reactive shells to burst upon one another filling the passage with strobing light. The remaining grenades were thrown, creating a smoke filled light show in the tiny confines of the corridor. It was glorious! It was the finest moment in Malcolm’s life. Bolts slammed into marines and warp-spawn alike as blood spattered, curses were spat and righteous zeal was verbalized.
The digital readout on Malcolm’s visor blinked twice, and Malcolm returned the signal twice signifying readiness. ‘Here we go men,’ he shouted over the cacophony of war, ‘we did it!’ Dull explosions sounded outside, and a deep rumble shook the corridor. Still firing, a cheer went up from the squad, ‘We are the Hammer in the hand of the Emperor!’
Then their world collapsed into smoke, fire and finally darkness…
Deep in the tower of Saint Bacchus, the charges around the support pillars blew. Expertly placed melta-bomb satchels vaporized the beams on one side of the tower while the conventional explosives caused the remaining supports to crumble. To behold from outside it was glorious, the twenty five story tower began to lurch and lean over the four story temple complex of Saint Quinn. Heretics stopped firing long enough to gawk at the tower as it fell. Like a ten-thousand ton hammer, the tower crashed into the temple complex. Then it flared like a tiny sun, shattered, as hundreds of grenades, and scores of melta-bombs bundled in the tower’s belfry, placed by Malcolm’s squad before their heroic assault, detonated… right on top of the assault squad’s position. No cheers went up from the assembled forces outside, for nine brave marines gave their lives to ensure the defeat of chaos. As the assault marines made their way into position, the remaining Imperial hammers began their assault in earnest, but with a large number of traitors making their way to Malcolm’s position, they were killed or crushed in the fall of the tower of Saint Bacchus. The half-hearted attempt to repel the Hammers, now that they were alone, sent the Traitor guard into a full retreat, quickly turned to a rout by the strength of the Hammer’s assault. Many of the remaining heretics threw down their weapons and cried for mercy, but there would be none. The few remaining traitor marines perished under the hand of the Imperial Hammers, and when the last chamber was entered, a Bloodthirster of Khorne slew fourteen Hammers before Veteran sergeant Pax Ares, wielding the Mighty Deamon Hammer ‘Hubris’ the personal weapon of the honored dead Captain Brutus Varites of Second Company, crushed its skull into its spine, and sent the foul beast into the hell that spawned him. Victory was now theirs.

* * *

Early the next morning, while the sole Techmarine of the Imperial Hammers worked to restore the off-world communications array, Pax Ares stood on the eastern bastion and stared into the dawn. He had said his prayers, and removed his helmet. He knelt in the cold mist, bowed his head, and had just made the sign of the Aquila across his chest, when he heard it. The whine of power armor servos getting closer. He looked into the mist and dropped to his war-gear to retrieve his bolt pistol, ready to kill the Traitors as the emerged from the mist, but stayed his hand when he heard a voice call from the mist.

‘Brother…stop pointing your bolter at me, unless you mean to kill me.’ sergeant Malcolm Turk called as he emerged from the mist. He held a marine, gravely wounded but upright as he approached. Malcolm’s armor was bent, broken, and very badly damaged. The leg servos whined futilely and thick black smoke poured from his jump-pack, the mini-reactor bleeding a glowing green fluid as it sputtered and sparked. Pax stared in awe as seven other marines emerged silently from the smoke, all badly injured and battered, but alive. Brother Payne bore the body of sergeant Fenris ‘Ulf, his chest plate riddled with bolter holes. He breathed, but just barely.
Unbelievably Malcolm’s squad had survived an assault on over two-hundred heretics and fifty plus traitor marines, in hellish close quarters fighting, and then survived being crushed by the Tower of Saint Bacchus, and then survived the explosion of hundreds of grenades and dozens of melta-bombs.
Veteran Sergeant Pax Ares had never witnessed anything more miraculous… and shook his head to make sure that he was not hallucinating.
‘You’re alive?’ Pax asked, stunned.
‘Good to see you alive as well Brother Sergeant.’ Malcolm smiled through pain, and adjusted his grip on brother Scarr, lifting him higher to avoid dropping him.
Pax knew then he wasn’t seeing things, and let out a mighty yell. ‘APOTHECARIES!’
Imperial marines and apothecaries alike rushed out of the morning fog and hesitated, not believing what they were seeing, then rushed to give aid to the heroes of Arkus Prime. Malcolm walked forward, refusing aid until his brothers had been tended to. Fenris was the worst of the injured, and while alive, he would never fight in power armor again. If he survived, Malcolm knew, he would be entombed in ancient dreadnought armor, to serve the emperor of mankind for all eternity, and Malcolm knew, a mightier dreadnought would never be found then that of Fenris ‘Ulf. Pax approached Malcolm as he sat down on a broken piece of ferrocrete. He could tell Malcolm was gravely injured, but thought better of advising him to receive aid, after all, Malcolm was a sergeant as well. He had only one word.
‘The Emperor protects, Brother.  No other explanation will do.  The room we fought in collapsed, plunging us into darkness. After a few hours I awoke and found everyone partially or wholly buried, but still alive. While everything around us lay in ruins, by the tower and the explosion. We were spared by a statue of the Emperor, which supported the ceiling of the hall in which we lay, a simple marble statue untouched by the explosion or the weight of the towers collapse. As we exited the complex we found Sergeant Fenris surrounded by dead traitors, but alive as well… The Emperor truly watched over us.’ he finished, and began to remove his power armor, as blood poured heavily from his wounds. Pax made the sign of the Aquila over his chest as Malcolm spoke the Emperor’s name.
‘There is a saying…”Be bold, and great forces will come to your aid.” ‘ Pax said as he sat down next to Malcolm, and offered him a drink of holy water.
‘Of that, my friend,” Malcolm grimaced in pain as he placed a battered gauntlet on Pax’s pauldron, ‘I have no doubt.’
* * *
A small group of chapter serfs talked quietly amongst each other as they cleaned the primary arming chapel aboard the Imperial Hammer strike cruiser ‘The Redemption.’ They came upon a gleaming white marble statue of ‘Him on Earth,’ or the Allfather, as they knew him on Vulkanus, and stopped.
‘Is this new?’ one serf asked the crew leader.
‘It is.’ he answered and quietly and reverently began cleaning the statue with a soft cloth. Taking great care in his sacred duties to maintain the primary arming chapel and its decorum.
‘I wonder where it came from?’ the youngest amongst them asked as he stared at the gleaming, flawless icon.
‘Interesting you should ask…’ Behind them a voice came from a darkened alcove. Captain Pax Ares, commander of the Honored Second Company Reborn, emerged from the alcove, his prayers complete. He strode toward the assembled chapter serfs before him, as they dropped to one knee, bowing their heads, none daring to speak.
‘Who wishes to know the origins of this miraculous monument to the God-Emperor?’ He asked.
‘I am sorry my Lord Captain,’ the young serf who had first asked the question bowed deeper in reverence to the honored brother Captain before him, ‘I should not question. I should only obey.’ He said in a shaking voice.
‘Do not trouble yourself with fear lad, it is no sin to be curious, in fact,I would very much like you to listen to the story of this statue… ‘ He paused and laid a gauntleted hand upon the statue.  He ran his hand over the smooth surface of the marble, down to the engraved names of two assault marines on it’s base.   He smiled as he remembered their faces.
‘It begins with a young assault marine sergeant… and ends in victory.’
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