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Prior Tertius sprinted away from his Razorback, which had hung up on some rocks, closely followed by his command squad. They closed quickly, their giant strides covering the broken ground with ease. From the company’s position around the way station came the roar of bolters and autocannons, and smoke billowed up in vast columns from beyond the station. Over the commlink he could hear the Hector shouting, “Kill them all,” followed by an inarticulate howl of rage.

Tertius cursed the misfortune that had left them playing catchup, but most he cursed his driver. Brother Heer would be doing a great deal of penance once the battle was over. Then Brother-sergeant Brutus’ calm voice came over the link, “Obliterators down,” and the red threat icon left his field of vision winked out. Tertius suspected the simple statement masked more dreadful consequences, and when the Captain and his assault squad lofted the forest on his left a quick count showed four missing.

Then they were at the squat grey waystation, and in a single bound Tertius and his men made the roof. A land raider squatted in the plain beyond, all covered with spikes and heretical runes. It was surrounded by brothers of the second squad, who fired on the behemoth to no avail. Its return fire knocked down several brothers, who were then assaulted by the remains of a squad of heretics. But they held firm, and it was clear they outnumbered their foes. Then, with another roar Hector and the remains of his command squad enveloped the land raider, and the captain slammed a melta-bomb to its side.

Their was a brief pause, and then the giant tank seemed to leap in the air in a vast explosion, before slamming back down with a crash. Out if its smoking hatches a handful of traitors with spears stumbled forth, lead by a grotesque lord. Tertius brandished his Crozius and shouted, “to Hector!” and his brothers hurried to the captain’s aid. But the chaplain already knew it was too far.

The Lord topped the ruined Land Raider and shouted, “Allow us to withdraw, in my name, Lord Perdita, the field is yours!” Tertius’ eyes widened, this was the commander of the attack on Hive Secundus, and he was within their grasp.

But Hector’s only answer was a cry of, “Never”, and the Perdita charged towards of the Captain. His sickly glistening sword unleashed a stream of horrific energy that felled one of the brothers in the woods beyond Hector, but washed over the Captain without doing harm. Then the Daemon prince struck, with an unearthly shriek, his sword punching through the captain’s armour and fields as if they were not there. But Hector stood fast, and struck back in a flurry of blows, but Perdita still stood, laughing. He struck again, and Hector fell, collapsing to the ground.

Tertius cried, “No!” and hurled himself forward. But his was not the only cry. Brother Brutus stepped over his fallen Captain, raising his power fist high, and his voice sounded low over the link, “Though you strike us down, our name is legion…” and struck. With a crackle of lightning the power fist punched into Perdita’s chest, shattering armour, flesh, and bone. The Traitors vile weapon fell from his suddenly nerveless hands, and Brutus pulled the fist back glistening with gore, and struck again and again, holding the Chaos lord still for the punishment with the other hand.

The remains of Perdita’s chosen stood stunned at the awful sight, and brothers of the second squad vaulted the land raider to cut them down.

As Tertius arrived all grew quiet. Smoke continued to pour from destroyed the destroyed Chaos tanks. Brother Pelian, the apothecary doffed his helmet and immediately saw to the Captain. “Holy Emperor,” he whispered, “He’s still breathing.”

All the others immediately looked to the captain except Brutus, who also took off his helmet, and dropped it to the ground. The sergeant locked eyes with Tertius, “I failed him Prior,” he said, his voice low, “I should have been closer.”

Tertius looked at the captain, his chest exposed, the blood glistening in the light. He did not feel hopeful. “He made his choices, now his life is in the hands of the Emperor.”

Brutus shook his power fist and the Traitor’s blood flew off it to the ground, and the sergeant glanced down at the body and grimaced.

Tertius looked him in the eye and said, “Will you drink of your victory?”

Brutus looked from the fallen Chaos Lord to his Captain, and back again. “No, that way lies madness.”

Korvus 23:15, 8 February 2008 (UTC) Nicholas Cioran

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