Novella – Chapter 1

~25 minute read

The Defence of Praelax

“We can’t keep holding them as we are” screamed Mallux, “We need to bolster the defences in the southern ring and press fourth with the dreadnoughts north.” His words echoed through the Fortress of Nethal, home to the chapter’s administration.

It wasn’t against his nature to question his brethren and most certainly not his chapter master, Nalas, and as master strategist he was in every right to. The two, along with Throden, Gordrox and Celbrus are the most renown brethren since the founding days, elected because of their diverse set of skills, Brethren JX14, have time and again proven the chapters best hope in times of need.

“You’re right Mallux. We can’t keep holding them, but we must!” urged Nalas from his command throne. “We have not the numbers to out maneuver the hordes of traitors, but we do have the senteries to help ease our job. Throden, Gordorx, collect Celbrus and meet us at the northern entrance. Mallux, move everything we have to the southern ring.” The look that flitted across Mallux’s face for but a moment was that of outrage, and with each twist of his face he felt the grinding of metal pins across his left eye, a clear reminder of when the fangs of a chainsword had cut deep into his flesh. His Chapter master was asking him to abandon the northern entrance and leave all hope they would defend the entire Fortress in the dust. “There must be a reason, a cause.” Mallux thought to himself, and then he nodded affirming the orders set to him by his out ranking brethren.

In a series of swift movements, orders bellowed at servators and frantic communications between squads, the Jade Paladins began to move their forces to southern ring, a crucial strongpoint for the fortress, but not more so than the northern entrance.

The crunch of heavy footfall struck the corridors and hallways of the fortress with an incredible might as the heavy armour worn by Nalas pounded the ground beneath his feet. Sensors were going off like crazy in his heads up display showing the clear heretic threat, its estimated numbers and current ammo supplies. “This cannot be it. This will not be it.” He thought to himself as he contemplated his decision to have him and his brethren face the entire oncoming Chaos Space Marine force from the north alone. It’s not unlike the Black Legion to attack multiple strongpoints of a bastion, crucially when relics are held within that of which are claimed to have immense power. Nalas pressed through the Fortress until he found himself stood in the 100ft doorway that lead north out of Nethal. Like a scene from history his silhouette cast itself into the depths of the Fortress and one by one his Brethren came to meet him.

Throden, wielding his trusty bolt carbine and one of the five power fists the Jade Paladins had to their name, all of which were incredible relics only to be used by the chapter master and his brethren. Gordrox, also wielding a power fist and bolt carbine, the weight of which would forever be added to with every life he took. Celbrus had donned his Phobos armour and taken to his Invictor warsuit, with every thud of its feet the visceral sloshing of the incendium cannons fuel could be heard echoing through the fortress. After barking the order to set up as many tarantula turrets and other sentry guns northern as possible, Mallux joined the group, easily standing above the other marines especially in his MkX Gravis armour.

Ahead of them stood almost certain death, behind them the safety of Nethal, Praelax’s last hope. Looking out into the plain in front of them they could see swathes of demons and warped Chaos Space Marines charging towards the entrance being bullied with heavy bolter, and lascannon shots from the automated turrets, which in the grand scheme of things had half a handle on the situation until one by one they were destroyed by soul grinder and hellbrute shots. “Find the head of the operation. Cut off the head and they will scatter, I’m sure of it” grunted Nalas to his comrades.

Crackling energy surged from the power fists of the Brethren, ready to thrust themselves into battle, sirens wailed in their heads. Information scrolled down their viewing lenses, They clenched and unclenched their power fists, their desire to meet their rage out on the enemy yanking at the chains of discipline forged around them throughout untold decades defending the imperium, collectively the last hope for their home.

The thunderous charge of the JX14 could strike fear into foes with the mental capacity to understand it, the problem being, the enemy at hand had lost all hope, lost all sense of fear and dread. They only knew war. “With me Brothers, we must take down their Warmachines and prevent our beachhead from suffering any more losses” Celbrus bellowed over comms. He took the lead gesturing toward the nearest daemon construct who jolted with each movement as the mechanised flesh moved its mass. A total of five mechanical daemon abominations were present and each one has a brothers name written all over it, Celbrus was first in line, the veins in his enhanced body pumping hard with adrenaline ready for the fight. His visors darkened to a blood red and he could feel his mechanical hand scraping against bone as he pulled the control stick from left to right to rein in the majestic warsuit. His strength had no sway in the matter, he still felt the weight of the incendium cannon as he strained to raise it to meet the hordes of bloodletters between him and his prey.

With the sharpest flick of a button a spark brought the flame into life, bursting out of the cannon like water from a jet. It leapt from its housing with such force it pushed Celbrus back slightly. When he adjusted to the impact of the power at his fingertips, he pressed forward, slaying, burning the daemon kin to a pile of hissing warpspawn in front of his eyes.

The daemon engine had paid no attention to Celbrus in his mighty warmachine or the rest of the brethren following suit until it was too late. The flamed destruction from his warmachone fizzled out to nothing as Celbrus thrust the harness’ fist right at the daemons front leg. The leg cracked on impact, warp-tainted metal and mutated flesh dripping with viscous oil/blood. With a shrill shriek leaping from its toothy beaked maw and the grinding of a thousand gears.  Celbrus had every ounce of of the Soul Grinder’s malefic attention now, its eyes flurried in anger and his mild attempt to take it down. No sooner had the things front leg been obliterated than his body was distorting and twisting around to replace the supporting location of its now missing limb. Its beaked head hissed and snarled towards Celbrus before ramming its daemon blade in his direction. Celbrus never expect such a monstrosity to be so agile, but it moved with unearthly speed and accuracy catching Celbrus off guard. Thankfully for him he lost his warsuits footing slightly and managed to evade the strike by the smallest of margins, with the beast stretched out and his chance to inflict catastrophic damage was at hand. “Die Daemon Spawn!” Celbrus’ voice swelled with determination and purpose as he sunk the fist deep in the creatures shoulder joint. A howl of malevolent evil bellowed from the soul grinder as the powerful energy of the fist made contact with whatever nerves it held in its flesh. The arm fell to the daemons side completely dislocated from its body.

All the while the rest of JX14 had been butchering their way through hundreds if not thousands of lesser daemon spawn casting their bodies aside as if they were nothing, a true visage of destruction and death. One particular kill to note was Throden punching his fist clean through a lesser daemon hard enough to core the daemon engine’s chest , bloody stalactites dripping within the newly formed wound.

Over Mallux’s vox came the words: “Does Celbrus require our help?”, it was Gordrox, forever worried for his blood brother. “I think he’s got this” he replied. The two cast their eyes to the onslaught onslaught Celbrus exacted upon the Daemon Engine. Their battle brother knew best how to manipulate the mechanical warsuit into never before seen positions in combat. Each contact with the greater daemon forge came a louder, sharper, more echoing crunch and crack of mechanised bone and flesh. The quadrupedal daemon jolted from side to side as it fought to retain its balance, each remaining knee joint buckling slightly under the unfamiliar distribution of weight, it was rendered incapacitated of movement for its left arm and found itself staring straight into Celbrus’ face. Slowly, purposefully, he raised the heavy bolter a task requiring great strength for an Adeptus Astartes, make menial by the power of his warsuit, Celbrus pointed its barrel directly at the Daemon Forge’s face. “May you find no honour in your death beast. May you find no peace under your gods. May the Emperor smite your being.” .With those words, the chamber to the ammo belt snapped open, Each bolt round clicked perfectly into place. Ignited with the will of all that was righteous and propelled towards the abominations face.

For a moment Celbrus heard nothing. The world stopped. A symphony of silence was bliss, Celbrus had to compose himself. But it was far from over.One challenge lay lifeless at his feet. Four more, each terrifying and monstrous as the last, bore down on Celbrus’ position. Celbrus slammed his heavy bolter back into the thigh holster of his warsuit, shook warp-foul residue from his fist, and strode over the broken Soul Grinder at his feet.

A smirk grew on Celbrus’ face as he prepared to bring further death to the daemon spawn of chaos.

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A Massive thank you to Vincent Knotley for taking time out his busy schedule to edit this and ensure I don’t sound like a blundering baboon, do me a favour and drop him a follow on twitter: