Mission Log: Operation Reinhardt

Decanus' Log

Entry I-a:

In transit to Horizon

+Our transition aboard the Auriga Hawk was smooth, the IX Legion stowed amongst the some 10,000 other Imperial Guardsmen onboard. All 13 regiments are displayed in combat fatigues and ceremonial weapons in the ship's hanger bay as we are addressed by the Lord General commanding the vangard forces. The finely dressed Scintillan Fusiliers bristle standing next to the unwashed barbarians of the Brontians but all are at attention as we are addressed. All 13 units stand perfectly still as we are given a long explanation of our mission on Horizon, mostly boiling down to the pacification and purification of the local population. Hymns are sung and the majesty of the Emperor is spoken about at length, but my attention is elsewhere. These dressed up dolls can talk about war all they like but within my body grows an eagerness to arrive on Horizon and begin the Emperor's work.

+The cohort fully stowed I travel to the Brontian Longknife area of the ship, eager to organise a duel. The Brontians are willing and invite the Legion to their fighting pit the following day. These barbarians clearly don't realise that the point of the duel is to show superiority over their regiment and increase the renown of the IX on board. Nevertheless I attend the next day with much of our Century. The Medicae Sidonus speaks at length with a member of the Longknives who seems to be taking bets but I let it go, knowing him intelligent enough to not cause any undue trouble. Entering the ring I easily defeat the barbarian and we leave amongst an uproar from the Brontians. This may have caused a rivalry between the regiments but was I believe necessary to show the strength of the Legion.

+Perhaps the duel brought undue attention as the very next day the Legion is given full Commissariat inspection. Some men from other Centuries are reprimanded but none of the 5th Cohort are, much to my gratitude. There is some issue with stolen equipment but Sidonus and my Primus Legionairre Vitruvius deal with it without involving me. They speak to our Centurion Hadrianus and I hear a member of the Arcadian Roughriders is arrested.

Entry I-b:

War Games Begin Onboard

+Whilst in transit each regiment is to engage in four war game activities, taking roles based on random assignment. In each assignment one force will represent the Imperium and one the locals, and I hear there has been some political uproar at the Fusilier regiments being called upon to dress and act like barbarians. I am equally appauled but the 5th Cohort manages to only be selected for one war game as the locals. In our first three we will take the roll of the Imperial Guard with the last, a stealth mission, in opposition. For these exercises we are stripped of grenades and special weapons, although after some manoeuvring with the Centurion I managed to convince the Munitorum that our auxiliary grenade launchers should be supplied with stun grenades.

+One of the hanger bays of the ship had been converted into a giant makeshift forest, with false trees and even artificial moisture created by the ship's temperature controllers. We are set upon almost as soon as we start the mission, taking up positions in a false ruined building and fighting off an attack from a group of 'native' Fusiliers. Ridiculous in their painted faces and dishevelled camouflage we lay down fire with our de-powered lasguns and manage to incapacitate most of the enemies before they reach us with their stun-batons. Our arrogance at victory leads us astray however, as walking through the forest towards our objective we are ambushed by another group of Fusiliers. Legionaries Aphesius, Gilliam and Ibram are felled almost immediately but Vitruvius, Sidonus and I manage to fight off the Fusiliers with some inventive baton-work and the advantage of superior armour.

+Our second mission involves the escort of a sentinel walker and Vitruvius' piloting skill comes to the fore. Our attempt to stealthily make our way through the forest comes apart when the enemy forces, again Fusiliers, deploy in a line and attempt a mass charge. Falling back to the starting position for this mission we break out of the forest and deploy a defensive line around the sentinel. The enemies number some fifty men and their charge would have been unstoppable were it not for the stopping power of the sentinel's onboard weapons. Vitruvius deploys the multi-laser with skill to suppress the enemy charge at the end of the tree line as stun grenades and volleyed lasfire manages to knock out most of the enemy soldiers. A stop in fire gives the Fusilier's the chance they need to get closer, at which stage we knock them out with massive close range lasfire.

+Our final mission was to capture and control an enemy camp. We ambush the locals and pin them down with our superior weaponry. However they obviously realise this advantage and bunker down in the camp, stopping the return fire. Vitruvius and Sidonis take a few men around the flank of the camp, analysing it from every angle to discern the location of the captain, our objective. Around the final side of the camp they are set upon once again by Fusiliers charging on mass. Gunning them down as they cover the ground from the camp, I lead the remaining troops on a charge into the compound, reasoning it now devoid of men. What I find however is a stiff counter-attack from the Fusilier captain and his remaining men, downing Sigismund and Gilliam and forcing me to engage the captain in hand to hand combat. Eventually with a bloodied face and a few broken fingers I recieve his surrender and the games are done.

+We were returned to our billet for a day before the final wargame and during this time we have organised to once again spar with the Brontian Longknives. This time, however, the onus for setting the engagement was ours, and Sidonus sinisterly suggested to use our increased proficiency at fighting in near dark to challenge the enemy in a duel in complete darkness. Vitruvius and he set about setting up such an area, sectioning off one bulkhead of the Legion's billet and distributing common data-slates linked to a vid-feed so crowds could watch the engagement without drawing suspicion. The Brontian I would face this time is a Centurion equivalent, a "captain" in standard Imperial Guard ranking. He bears photo-visors to augment his sight in darkness, a problem I remedy with some creative use of a flashlight. Now blinded I lay a series of cuts into the Brontian and fell him with a slash across the face, the fight declared over by a congregation of medics from both regiments.

+The next day we were transported on the ship to a holding area for our final war game mission. We were to take the part of the natives, armed with only stun batons and a single Laslock, with the aim of assassinating an enemy commander. The enemies were holed up in an armoured bunker in the middle of a makeshift forest and although we outnumbered them their superior arms and armour would make this a difficult mission. We began smoothly, a volley of well aimed Laslock fire taking down an outside sentry. But despite our attempts to bait the remaining men they did not leave the safety of their plascrete fortress. Eventually we had no choice but to charge the walls. Doing so fells Aphesius as concentrated las fire darts out of the firing slits in the bunker. We proceed to breach the bunker, narrowly avoiding a stun grenade trap that the Fusiliers had set for us. Obviously they had called in some favours with the Munitorum to gain the advantage in this engagement. Despite taking heavy casualties breaching the bunker our remaining men succeed at incapacitating the enemies and winning the engagement. It is only now that we realise the depravity of the Fusiliers, one of their powered-down lasguns having burnt a large hole in Legionnaire Aphesius. We call for a medic and the war game facilitators round us up to interview us about the illegal weaponry. Unsurprisingly the Fusilier captain denies involvement. I recognise him now by the broken nose I had given him in the last engagement and knew that this was no mere accident.

Entry I:

Landing on Horizon.

+Over the next week before landing my time is spent primarily on assessing squad readiness and preparing for the landing. Legionnaire Aphesius makes a full recovery and returns to the Cohort. The Centurion informs me that the Fusilier captain had been cleared of all charges, a lesser ranking munitorum adept instead being punished for the offence. Although aware that this did not represent the true events I largely ignore the politicking behind the outcome. We receive our mission statement and supplies, including a heavy stubber and anti-flora grenades. Although untrained in the weapon Sidonus volunteers to use it as the most technically minded of the squad. We also receive some 144 packs of lho sticks, apparently assigned to us through some administrative error. Gladly taking the items we share them with the other 10 Cohorts in our century. We also receive entrenching tools, which the men gladly take should the need arise to create fortifications on the planet. Sidonus also equips the squad with micro-beads, apparently a gift from the Brontians and ours to keep. I do not question their true source, happy as I am to gain this boosted communication ability.

+Our mission is to a be a reasonably simple capture and hold. We are to be deployed by valkyrie assault transport to an area, designated landing zone 'Kappa', which we are to hold until the two large transport landers can drop their 500 soldiers on the area to better secure it. Five Cohorts of Century III will be taking part, including that of Centurion Hadrianus.


[[imgcap: Imperial Expedition Force Reconnaissance Drone Landing Zone Kappa]]

+The war games are over, and once more the cavernous cargo bay is filled with a mass of uniformed bodies. Valkyrie Gunships and Drogue Landers fill as squads and regiments march in ordered lines to the sounds of the Imperial March on floating cherebum. We board our Valkyrie, welcomed aboard by a woman clad in Imperial Navy livery. Taking out seats awkwardly in full pack. Our stomachs turning and armour pumping cooling gel as we break atmo amidst vicious shaking. Behind the burning of our entry we spot pristine blue skies and the green mass of Horizon's primary continent. The Cohort stands to clip in with the harnesses and once proper equipment checks had taken place we were pulling up over landing zone Kappa, an area of sparse brushland of knee-high greenery surrounded by a thicket of woods. The Valkyrie's internal light turns from amber to green and I swing out into the open air.

+Keen as I am for my first taste of real combat I am almost disappointed when the landing zone is empty of targets. Nevertheless as per our mission we move at speed to our objective point. Dropping packs and setting up a defensive position with the heavy stubber. Our escort valkyrie circles once and fires off a salvo of rockets into the tree line before burning back skyward at speed. The forest grows quiet and I send Vitruvius forward to scout the nearest areas. As he does so we receive frantic vox calls from Cohorts I-V, now engaged by natives from the forest. Our vector cleared the squad picks up weapons and begins to move towards 1st Cohort, now entirely surrounded by dark forms. We get within las range and begin to fire in ordered bursts towards the heaving mass. I am impressed by the form of the men, ice cold even as they watch the vast numbers of the natives not 50 metres away. Sidonus in particular carves a bloody swathe in the enemy force with his rifle, his practiced hand taking a life with every trigger pull. Vitruvius also aids from his position in the far away woods, an act I doubt anyone in the Century could replicate. Eventually the natives break from Cohort I and begin to charge towards us, their numbers now well below the hundreds they had started as. We put them down with lethal efficiency and move to support Cohort I.

+Most of the cohort is wounded, Centurion Hadrianus heavily so. He is breathing and Sidonus stabilises him before moving to the other wounded Legionnaires. Now with a solid line and time to prepare we reap a bloody toll in the charging natives. There are synchronised thuds as the Legionnaires fire their auxiliary grenades with me, almost all detonating amongst the enemy wave. Sidonus is a force to be reckoned with on the heavy stubber; slaughtering dozens of foes as he brings the flaming muzzle across the oncoming line again and again. Between his fire and Vitruvius' work with the triplex las we make short work of the enemies, forcing their retreat before they come within close range of us. As suddenly as it started the din of battle started it ends, an odd silence coming over landing zone Kappa only broken by the barking of lasguns from the other Cohorts.

+We have barely a minute after the fervour of battle clears before receiving vox that the Drogues were incoming. As we readjust our firing position to protect their landing I look upwards despite myself. The ships look more akin to giant fish leaping downwards towards the planet than ships as they make their laborious descent. A great wash of hot air and dust is pushed down onto the assembled Karrik troops as the ships make landfall. As figures start to march off the ships opening almost comically well ordered lines we hear a rumbling from the forest. A thousand voices chanting in unison. As the Fusiliers begin to form firing lines behind us the savages charge from the forest, still chanting their abhorrent song. I vox to our escort Valkyrie, unallocated having delivered its charge, and organise a bombardment of the incoming natives. Explosions and high calibre fire blossoms along the mass of bodies and rips many enemies to shreds as the valkyrie does its bloody work. Now supported by the Scintillan Line Fusiliers we make good work of the incoming targets, their primitive courage no match for properly set infantry positions.

+The area now cleared of hostiles the Fusiliers set to creating a makeshift command camp at the centre of landing zone Kappa. Company headquarters are driven off the landers fully constructed on tracks and an enormous army HQ rolls loudly to the centre of them. It is to here that I go after stowing the surviving members of the Century at our mobile HQ. In the army HQ I meet for the third time Captain Charbonneau, the man I had injured in early war games and whose trooper had put a live round into one of my squad. As the 383rd Scintillan Line Fusiliers were majority unit for Kappa landing point he was now my commanding officer. Terse words are exchanged as I hand his aid my contact report and new company standing. He is predictably rude and assigns the five Karrik Cohorts present a new mission. We have been bloodied but apparently our testing was not complete.

Entry II:

Recon on Mt. Osoco

+Although undermanned we are given out next objective within the hour, arming up and moving out less than three hours after we last spilt blood. Our next mission was to be headed by Lt. Hugh Kimeln of the 3rd Platoon 29th Descaal Heavy Recon Lancers, a sentinel reconnaissance unit of two squads of five sentinels each. We are to escort these two "hands", as the Lancers call them, up the mountain to the north of landing zone Kappa to scout ahead of the primary force yet again. Lt. Kimeln agrees to store some of our additional gear on his sentinels and so as we pack our Munitorum supplied equipment we are not as heavily over encumbered as I might have predicted. Our visit to the Drogues to get our munitorum mission gear is not without a hitch however, as a strange object is recovered. I pass it on straight away to the Company Commissar, Pontius, to deal with.


[[imgcap: Imperial Expedition Force Reconnaissance Drone Mount Osoco]]

+The first day of scouting Mt. Osoco goes without incident, the few enemy forces we see only roving patrols and able to be avoided or killed without much effort. The sentinels match our speed easily, constantly scanning for life signs on their auspexes and making radio reports to Captain Charbonneau on the hour, to his ire. We make it around the mountain and reach the small lake to the east of the mountain. On a nearby plain Sidonus has spotted a group of some 600 Cheek’ari gathered in tents and mud huts around a larger central hut. We vox in their location to Kappa landing HQ and after a few minutes of waiting, poised in hidden positions a few hundred metres from the campsite, we hear the terse tones of Charbonneau once again over the crackling vox: "Destroy the settlement, occupy it. Vox when completed".

+This large task in front of us we hike further up the mountain to gain a higher position from which to bombard the settlement with our mortars. Clearing an area in which to set up defensive positions half a click from the settlement Vitruvius climbs up the face of the mountain to scout the artefact apparently at its peak. He makes it to the top just as the popping of anti-flora grenades finish clearing our defensive perimeter and the mortars are set up in the failing light of Horizon's 16 hour day. He reports a giant bone coloured structure on the snowy top of the mountain, curved like a sickle and crackling with light and energy. He goes silent for a few seconds before recanting his description of light and energy, stating that it actually appeared more dormant. He reports killing a Cheek'ari witch present near the artefact and returns just as night falls with a dark look on his face.

+We begin bombardment at dawn, Vitruvius' spotting from atop the mountain guiding the scatter rounds with expert precision. The scatter rounds of our five mortars fall among the thronging locals with ruthless force, blowing them apart by the hundreds with each salvo. As leaders attempt to rally their people Sidonus picks them off with Vitruvius' triplex las, easily landing headshots despite the weapons extreme range. He reports some 1200 Cheek'ari in the settlement, almost double his original assessment. We blow bloody chunks in their numbers as they duck for cover and by the time they find cover hundreds lie dead. A final group of a hundred or so moves into the jungle towards our position, carrying what appear to be rifles. The sentinels now engage their missile pods, further suppressing the natives with regular rocket bombardments. I attempt to call in an airstrike but the vox is faulty and we receive word only that the air support is "incoming", with no idea of time or magnitude.

+Nevertheless we now faced another issue as a large hunting party of Cheek'ari pushed through the jungle towards our position. Perched atop the mountain Vitruvius and Sidonus pick at them with targeted las fire as we turn our mortars towards the forest and create a makeshift minefield using our minefield rounds. Mortars now useless I deploy my 30 troopers at the treeline and await the telltale booms of the mines with our enemy's arrival. As the locals reach the clearing they open fire with what now appear to be las weapons, their fire failing to find targets as the Legionnaires find cover amidst the trees. We counter attack with characteristic ferocity; lobbed grenades from the mountain position blow holes in their ranks while focused lasfire downs the rest. Eventually under the combined fire the enemies begin to retreat through the forest and we pursue, killing the last of them with our blades under the dark bowls of the trees.

+It is at this stage that we see the incoming valkyries and take cover in the forest. The ships drop their payloads on the settlement, utterly destroying several buildings and damaging many others. The defences now suppressed we pack up and make haste towards the settlement, intent on occupying it. The legion goes in hard with grenades and massed lasfire, cutting down the few enemies left to oppose us. The sentinels walk from building to building flaming those inside or destroying them utterly with missiles. I lead Cohort V towards the central building, coming under fire as we approach from the lascarbine wielding Cheek'ari within. Sidonus leads the squad in a grenade suppression of the building, explosions of blood and stone blossoming within the building as their practiced fire reaps a toll on it's defenders.

+Dodging fire Vitruvius and I head towards the two access tunnels that Sidonus had spotted leading up to the building. Vitruvius purges one with a flamer, the screams of those trapped in the tunnel audible over even the din of battle. I drop down my tunnel with gladius drawn and am immediately set upon by the chieftain of the settlement, a veritable brute with armour and weapons of hardened bone. As his pet hounds dart at my legs from either side of him I fend away his giant bone club with desperate strokes, taking deep wounds as their teeth rip through my armour into my flesh. Eventually I gain the upper hand and slash through the giants thigh, his blood awash the dark tunnel as his hounds flee their masters killer. One is shot cleanly through by Sidonus' las while the other is skewed to the ground by Vitruvius' gladius. Around us Legionnaires finish the last of the natives, their primitive armament helpless against our fine armour and weapons.

+With barely a moment of peace we receive a garbled vox transmission and I see my vox operators face aghast: "Air support incoming". A pair of missiles burn over the mountain and I begin shouting instructions through the vox, our troops jumping to find whatever cover they can in the tunnels and cellars of the half destroyed town. When the artillery missiles hits the very earth shakes as the ground above us is literally flattened by the twin impacts. By some miracle every trooper under my command makes it to cover, surviving the apocalyptic onslaught above and remaining to a man, alive. We had cleared the town, killed the foes of the Emperor and through some divine judgement managed to not lose a single legionnaire. 1200 dead at the hands of 35, truly the stuff of stories.

+As we return to landing zone Kappa we find the large Drogue transports being refilled as they had been unpacked three days earlier. The landing force was being recalled to a different location, our mission here done. We hurry to store our equipment in the appropriate places before the massive transports take off, the valkyrie we arrived in reappearing to pick us up. As we pull away I look at Kappa landing zone, a patch of blood stained grass where the Legion had been tested and had proven beyond any doubt it's worth.

Entry III-a:

Time off in Radiant Journey City

+After the capture of Mt. Osoco the entirety of Kappa LZ command relocated to a position further away from the deepest parts of the forest. Here a proper command garrison was developed, with plascreet and stone structures quickly erected to house the thousand guardsman present in Assault Force Kappa. From here the combat patrols of the Imperial Guard were launched by the day, troops forging further and further into the forest to secure the area or being transported by air to remote locations for search and destroy operations. Units that had shown particular skill for this type of work, such as the V Cohort III Century, were deployed almost daily in extermination missions against local forces. With little in the form of organised resistance these weeks pass without incident for the Karrik forces, the wounded from the battle at Landing Zone Kappa now recovered or taken off-world for medical attention and Centurion Hadrianus now back in command of the Demi-Century.


[[imgcap: Imperial Expedition Force Reconnaissance Drone Radiant Journey City]]

+30 days before the invasion force proper is due to break warp in the region the Karrik forces in Kappa HQ are given two days leave in the nearby Radiant Journey city, the civilisation that had sprung up around the landed form of the ship Radiant Journey, the first Imperial settlement ship to land on Horizon. Most of our time here is spent drinking and whoring, as soldiers are want to do, but I set my two days aside to procure some much need provisions for the squad. Since we were being deployed more and more for elite ops we were in need of additional equipment for facilitate these more dangerous missions. A chance encounter with Lt. Kimeln would prove helpful to this cause.

+The Descaal Heavy Recon Lancers officer helped recommend a local black market and after an encounter with some burly local roughs I gained access. The Gallows was a ramshackle but permanent series of shops and merchants peddling everything from locally sourced meat to old weapons and armour. I approach a dishevelled tech-adept and enter in negotiations with him, trading the servitor maintenance parts we had been improperly assigned for a box of worn but functioning photo-contacts for nighttime ops. Vitruvius and Sidonus join me the next day but despite our best efforts we cannot find a squad auspex. Vitruvius does find, buried beneath a pile of disused Imperial Guard uniforms, a dusty cameoline cloak, shimmering and changing colour in the dim light of the Gallows. He snatches it up almost immediately, trading a great deal of coin and items with the vender. Our two days of R&R up we move to a heavyset civilian transport ready to take us back to Kappa HQ.

Entry III:

Return to Mt. Osoco

+We barely have time to stow our gear before I receive a message from Centurion Hadrianus with a new mission statement. It contains a missive from Captain Charbonneau, still Kappa's CO due to the large Scintillan Fusilier presence, and contains his usual abrupt and ignorant tone. He berates us for not destroying the artefact we discovered on Mt. Osoco and orders us to return there to demolish it.

+His back now almost perfectly camouflaged in the woods Vitruvius leads from the landed valkyrie as it drops us once again at Mt. Osoco. As the Cohort fans out into the forest and the afterburners wash down on us the scouts return and we set off at pace into the forest. We find the tracks easily enough but in doing so are caught in a mudslide as debris from higher up the mountain is dislodged by the heavy rain the day before. Luckily none of the men are wounded and we are back on track with little delay. Arriving at the peak of Mt. Osoco I witness the artefact for the first time and realise with a sinking feeling that we lack the means to destroy it. Sidonus puts his formidable mind to work and although it uses almost all the heavy munitions of the squad with a burst of light the artefact topples and falls.

+Our mission at the top of the mountain complete we continue tracking our quarry, a group of Cheek'ari warriors spotted in the area. Padding carefully through the forest we come up from behind them, finding them bunkered down and under fire from an unseen foe. Hidden amidst the undergrowth we watch as the barbarians are cut down by lasfire whilst pinned by a heavy stubber, common Imperial Guard tactics. Assuming an allied force we maintain cover and observe the natives being killed to a man by disciplined volleys of fire. But the figure emerges from the dark trees is from no regiment stationed on Horizon. He wears imperial flak armour, once white but now tarnished with rust and dirt that pocks its surface. His lasgun is similarly ill-kept and his stench reaches our noses before the sight of him does. His helmeted head is shaped like an orb with a single orange eye that turns towards our hiding spot and glows with malevolent light.

+Almost at once we come under fire from the trees behind the figure, a now visible firing line of the same armoured figures as the one in the clearing. A heavy stubber begins to rake our position but the thick trees protect us from any serious harm. Sidonus, Aphesius, Tristan, and Vitruvius start returning fire as I lead the rest of the squad at pace through the clearing towards our foes. We take fire but eventually manage to reach the enemies and finish them off up close with our gladii. Sigismund and I are both injured but thanks to the superior fighting skills of the squad we vanquish our enemies without taking casualties. Once the heat of battle had worn off we notice that the leader of the squad had some sort of pet on a leash, a hideous creature that Sidonus informs me is a xenos breed known as a "Tenor". We search the bodies of our foes but find little evidence of who they are nor why they attacked us on sight. We take a body for identification and send off a flare to signal the waiting valkyrie.


[[imgcap: Xenos Designation Tenor; minor psychic capabilities noted, extensive surgical modification, uses large hollow beak-like protrusion to echo-locate]]

+The pilot pulls in at speed at sets the valkyrie down, exiting the cockpit with a look of panic in his eyes; “What in Throne’s name is going on?" he begins even as the doors open, explaining that all vox channels are blocked and he can't raise high command. Knowing the appearance of this new force and the trouble communicating cannot be a coincidence we board quickly and take off back to Kappa HQ to try and piece together what was going on. A tense flight follows, with the pilot repeatedly trying to hail Kappa HQ on the vox. Sidonus sees to our wounds in dead silence, the whine of the turbines our only companion. Soon this noise is joined by a far off thumping of explosions as we reach our destination.

+Out the viewports of the valkyrie we see Kappa HQ ablaze with lasfire and explosions. A gigantic pitched battle is taking place between the Imperial regiments stationed here and a vastly larger force of white armoured figures. Amidst the figures rumble heavy tanks and eight legged walkers that scuttle like unholy spiders through the Imperial defences. It is obvious to me that the Imperial forces are about to be overrun but nevertheless I order the men up and ready to deploy. Unfortunately our attempted counter attack is cut short as las fire from the ground rips though the ship. A number of troopers are hit and I hear Sidonus curse as a round goes clearly through his medicae bag. The valkyrie begins to tip as the side engine bellows black smoke and the hurried shouts of the pilot can be heard over the vox: "BRACE!"

+I awake some time later, but the yellow fires of the crash are still burning high. My sidearm and second sword have been completely destroyed by the explosive wreck and I am covered in cuts and bruises but remarkably alive. Around me lay the prone forms of my squad, some groaning or crying in pain. Checking on the pilot and finding only the cold eyes of the dead I begin to drag the forms of my comrades out of the wreckage. It is slow going and an enemy patrol manages to reach me before I can complete the task. I dispatch them easily, although the 'Tenor' creature guiding them escapes. I wake Sidonus from his stupor and he proceeds to check on the others with what few medical supplies he has left. Every man in the squad nurses severe bruises and scrapes but somehow everyone has managed to survive. Sidonus does the best he can for us, but we are still far below prime fighting shape. Sidonus informs me that the force he saw attacking Kappa HQ were a traitor Imperial Guard force known as the Flylords and my loathing for them grows. I have Vitruvius plot us a course across land to the rendezvous point, hoping to find what is left of the Legion there.

Entry IV:

Trekking to RZ Erskine

+We make good time through the jungle towards RZ Erskine, the din of battle dying down behind us. A few days pass without incident, the small patrols we encounter easily dispatched with blades or the expert marksmanship of Vitruvius and Sidonus. We even encounter a few Cheek'ari patrols who appear to be as hostile to us as ever, despite this new greater foes. During this time vox communication is flooded with a sinister chanting and all attempts to establish vox contact fail. Legionnaire Aphesius approaches me after a few days, worried about the mental state of Vitruvius. He alleges that after the crash Vitruvius tried to strangle him. I take Aphesius off scout-assistant duties and keep in mind to have a word with Vitruvius when we reach the RZ.

+After a quiet first few days we encounter tire treads that Sidonus informs me belong to an Imperial Guard issue chimera. Unwilling to let this potential transport go unused we track the treads to a wrecked Chimera. Beneath its heavily battle-worn hull are the tattered remains of Scintillan Fusilier colours. Within we find the blasted bodies of some half dozen troopers, completely minced as the heavy fire ripped through the vehicles armour and bounced around the interior. We manage to scavenge a guard issue missile launcher and some detonation charges from the bodies before Vitruvius finds boot tracks leading away from the scene. Sidonus takes the fallen troopers cogomen and we follow the tracks. Nearby are another few dead Fusiliers, apparently chased and mauled by some of the local fauna that lie dead nearby. From within the bodies we hear a groaning and pulling the creatures loose find none other than Captain Charbonneau, dirty and bloodied beneath the bodies of his attackers. Pulling him to safety Sidonus patches up his wounds with makeshift bandages.

+He does not speak to us of his reasons to flee from the battle and we do not press, knowing his foul character. He does however berate us for a series of minor infractions as he straightens his coat. He tries to take command but ends up meekly following us as the cohort ignores him and moves out on my command. His mood seems to swing between sulking and intolerably arrogant over the next few days as our patience for this chore of a man wears thin. Luckily the dangerous look in Sidonus' eye never eventuates, as we find the jungle clearing out into a valley at the centre of which sits an old Imperial structure.


[[imgcap: Imperial Mission located somewhere between Mt. Osoco and RZ Erskine]]

+Father Imohseph is the head cleric and only occupant of the mission, an ancient Imperial building created during the first settlement of Horizon. He dwells here alone and gladly offers us beds and hot food for the night. Over dinner he tells us of how he was a missionary sent to sway the local populace, and had noticed the swing in the last few months towards hostility where previously there was only innocence and compassion. He seems old and rambling to some degree as he speaks of the spirituality of the locals and the power of their heretical religion. I am dumbfounded by the lax way in which he refers to these heretics and I question his purity, at which point he gives me directions to a forgotten temple of the Cheek'ari that he believes may give me answers. As it is in the same direction the Cohort agrees that we should destroy the building on our way to the RZ if possible.

+Charbonneau grows even more loathsome during our stay, speaking at length to the men in my absence about what he perceives to be my many flaws. When I questioned him about this behaviour he heavily implied he was to have me court marshalled for my insolence for "daring to question him". Nevertheless I stow my anger, secure in the loyalty of the men and we leave the next morning, weighed down with supplies from Father Imohseph and revitalised by a morning of prayer in the fine chapel of the Saints.

+We arrive at the location for the temple the next day and find only a long gully leading to a dark cave. Sidonus and Vitruvius scout the cave and return some hours later with reports of strange glowing glyphs and eerie voices. They report that the cave was built long before the Imperium arrived here, and not by the tools of Cheek'ari. These stones were carved into shape by some industrial laser. A laser that seems to leave no markings or burns. Sidonus' pack seems a little larger than when they entered the temple but he tells me it's nothing to worry about and I let it go. We set up the det-packs on the gully and blow it from afar, caving in the entrance and denying any further access to this unholy place.

+A few more days of marching pass uneventfully before we encounter another patrol of Flylords, this one much larger and featuring at it's centre one of the strange armoured walkers we had seen at the fall of Kappa HQ. Despite our need for stealth we simply could not allow a force of this size to be roaming the area and as such as take up positions for an ambush. Vitruvius puts a las round through the head of the Tenor, disrupting it's ability to track us with sonar, and the rest of the squad opens fire on the remaining dozen or so Flylords. Lasfire drops a few of the targets as the rest begin to rush towards us, lead by a towering figure with a whirring chainsword. Sidonus mans the missile launcher with newfound skill, putting two rounds into the machine's torso and forcing it to double over, spilling black smoke and flames. I meet the enemy charge with a counter attack and watch with fear as the enemy Sergeant pulls his whirring blade right through the thigh of Legionnaire Sigismund, my vox operator. Gritting their teeth the squad piles in, cutting down their enemies with swift and practiced strokes of gladii. I face the enemy Sergeant one-on-one and despite my superior weapon skill he lays a number of deep blows into my torso. As I try futilely to fend away his slashes I see an opening and allowing his blade to cut me deep across my chest manage to thrust my gladius through his helmet. The last of the targets are dispatched with expert precision by Sidonus and Vitruvius.

+I am healed quickly by Sidonus, a deft hand even without his medi-pack, and the Cohort moves on from the scene of the battle. A few days pass on the road as my heavily scarred chest begins to heal. Captain Charbonneau takes this opportunity to inform the men that he is in charge and is outraged when the men ignore his orders. He shouts and screams for many days as the men follow the leads of Vitruvius and Sidonus over his orders before eventually he has had enough. He draws his fine sabre and with a crackle it is revealed as a powersword. He points it at my head and instructs me to relinquish command or he will cut me down. I accept his challenge and a few minutes later we stand across from each other with bared blades. Trooper Aphesius speaks words of caution to us both but is quickly silenced by the rest of the Cohort.

+We meet blades a number of times and I find my gladius is no match for a powersword. I cut deeply into his flesh with a series of blows before his parrying blade cuts right through my weapon. I draw another and he slices deftly through that as well, the blood running down his face not hiding the hatred in his eyes. A downward slash cuts through my healing chest and leaves me bloodied on the floor, my victor standing over me. It is at this point that Aphesius intervenes, rushing forward crying of the foolishness of this situation. As he draws near to Charbonneau the Captain simply cuts him down with disgust, the blade slashing clean through his chest armour and into his heart. Silence and shock fill the small clearing before as one Vitruvius and Sidonus raise their rifles and riddle Charbonneau with las-fire. We police Charbonneau's sword and pistol and leave his body where it lies. We destroy Aphesius' body with frag grenades and leave that fateful clearing with dark faces. The next week of travel is quiet, both lacking in enemy patrols and in the usual joking and conversation amongst the squad. Eventually the tang of salty air fills our noses and we find ourselves at the coastline at RZ Erskine.

Entry V:

Interrogations and Scouting the flatlands

+Our return to the relative safety of the RZ was cut short just after entering the makeshift but organised camp. Welcomed on the exterior by the Knovian Gharka sentries we are instructed to head straight to the Munitorum area of the camp, rather than our superior officer. Here we are disarmed and searched, an invasion overseen by a pair of grovelling Commissars, following like dogs the orders of one Commissar Woldt, of the Cadian Mechanised regiments. He questions me at length, throwing doubts on elements of my report. He seems particularly interested in the death of Trooper Aphesius and just how we came by the power sword of Captain Chabonneau. I am as honest as I can be in the circumstances, and after the rest of the squad seems to back up my mistruths we are released with what serves as an apology for a Commissar.

[[imgcap: Cheek'ari temple. Image was recovered from Pict Cap by Commissariat Order]]

+RZ Erskine is a neat but entirely full military camp. Drogues, valkyries, and pre-hab structures fill every inch of the forest clearing, men and vehicles darting back and forth almost constantly. My first shock was to find less than 50 Karrik had survived, from the 1000 deployed this marked the greatest loss the regiment had ever faced. Further still I was the ranking officer, with non-officer veteran Legionnaires the only men close to holding rank over me. I set about establishing a functioning HQ for the Legion and have Sidonus run health and equipment checks of the remaining men. Centurion Hadrianus' body had been retrieved from where he had fallen and a priest from the Cadian 412th assists us in holding a proper ceremony for him. I take his command Gladius with a heavy heart, knowing the increased pressure it represented for me. I gather our remaining Legion and Sidonus casts an inscription upon each man's gladius with a scrimshawing tool. "We Hold the Honour of the Legion". For as the lone survivors of our proud regiment; we truly did.

+Some days past in the camp, Sidonus and Vitruvius occupying themselves with trading amongst the other regiments present. A task I assisted them in between meetings with our commander, the Cadian Colonel Pollic, and plans for future engagements. We receive our orders and that very morning board a valkyrie towards the northern plains of Horizon.

+The valkyrie drops us some days out of our location and we make the rest of the way on foot through the dry flatlands and gullys, a far cry from the forests of Horizon we had previously been deployed in. We march through the dust, stopping only a few times to let enemy patrols pass, the scouts reports seeming to be accurate enough about our enemy being deployed strongly here. After a few days of marching we reach our location and settle in to reconnaissance the area.

+We dwell on top of a small maser nearby our target for two days, taking turns analysing the camp below through Vitruvius' scope. It appears to be a work camp, a giant mining drill sitting nearby a mass of tents and habitation structures. The hab area is heavily defended, a plasteel wall and guard towers occupied by the some 100 military men we estimate occupy the camp. There also appear to be almost a thousand workers occupying this location, men and women of various sizes and nationalities wearing plain white robes stained grey by the sooty smoke emitting from the mining machine. On the second day we spot a heavily armoured figure in the Flylord's attire walking from the mining machine to the camp and assessing him to be the leader of the site we set a plan in motion to dispose of him.

Entry VI:

Sabotaging an enemy machine

[[imgcap: Enemy mining facility aka The Engine. Surveillance by Vitruvius]]

+Our attack on the drilling device began in the dead of night, as we move under Vitruvius' practiced direction silently towards the campsite. As we reach the mining instrument we ascend a small tower and begin to cross the mining arm, extending across the dark deep hole the machine had been excavating below. The buckling and shaking of the arm makes our footing unstable but succeeds at hiding the sounds of our passage, reaching the central pillar and narrowly avoiding a foot patrol atop the mining instrument. However even as Sidonus attaches our det-packs to the central mining pillar the machine stops, the relative silence eerie after so many days of its constant noise. It seems far below the digger had uncovered something. Glimpses of shining white are just visible in the dirt below, the shimmering material easily recognisable as the strange architecture we had previously encountered on Horizon. The machine makes a sound too similar to a scream for comfort and from within its depths a thousand cables burst forth. Seemingly moving with a mind of their own each ends in a small mechanical hand, accompanied all the while by the same bone-chilling scream. They begin to delicately remove dirt from the item found below, whirring and whirling at their task, efficient in their chaos. We dismount the drilling arm and I signal Sidonus to fire the demolitions, just as the unnatural mechanical hands begin to lift an artefact not unlike the one we encounter on Mt. Osoco from the dirt below.

+With a burst of light and a wave of pressure the centre of the machines arm is completely destroyed and the drill begins to plummet to the hole below. It shears through the hands, now emitting a horrible otherworldly shriek, and smashes into the artefact. It shatters completely and explodes far below. Klaxons begin to sound amongst the camp and armoured figures mill about. We notice the heavily armoured figure emerges from the gate of the camp and his head is instantly turned into a bloody mist by a hot-shot round from Vitruvius' longlas. Even as we prepare to leave, our mission complete, we spot another two of the heavily armoured figures leaving the camp, flanking a taller leaner figure in strange spiked armour. Two more well aimed las from Vitruvius put down the armoured figure whilst a krak missile from Sidonus' missile launcher turns the strange new central figure into a smattering of pieces of metal and blood on the desert sand. Even as we rejoice another two of these new tall armoured figures emerge from the mining machine. As the rest of the squad and I begin to fire upon the soldiers and robed figures pouring from the camp towards us Vitruvius and Sidonus down the two figures with expert las bursts. Realising we had done all we can here we begin to withdraw, blending off into the night as chaos and alarms reign behind us.

+A few days march takes us back to the extraction point, surprisingly unmolested by the Flylord forces we knew patrolled the area. There we meet a Cadian chimera and it's operator, waiting to extract us. We enjoy the rest of the few days of travel in the vehicle, reviewing the pict-cap of the unearthed artefact and conversing with the operator. During such a moment of quiet he suddenly reports contacts moments before a large heat signature appears on the auspex and crashes into us, knocking the chimera off course. We careen into a tree as heavy calibre solid projectile fire begins to pepper the side of the APC. A rocket explodes at the front of the vehicle, peppering the operator with shrapnel and causing blood to flow out from his drivers section into the passenger bay.

+The squad exits and sets up a defensive perimeter, only to see two of the Flylord grapple tanks leaving the woods across from us and walking quickly towards the crashed chimera. The group begins to retreat from the onslaught of the walkers heavy stubbers, giving sporadic return fire but ultimately outclassed by the large unholy vehicles. As one of the walkers chases the squad off into the forest Ibram and I remain behind. Leaping upon one as it passes the vehicle I slash at it again and again with Centurion Hadrianus' power sword. I slice through the armour of its leg and lop it off, my backswing taking out another leg. It smashes me heavily with a remaining leg and I fall with broken ribs. In layigng me low with this blow the walker had destabilised itself and I rush back to it and thrust my energy sword deep into its chassis. With a shudder it falls to the ground in a cloud of dust. I look up to see the second walker approaching me with weapons aimed. Even as it begins to fire its chest blossoms with fire as it is hit by a krak round from Sidonus' launcher. The squad weighs in as well, rifle-launchers spitting krak grenades into the cracked torso of the walker until with an almighty burst of energy it combusts.

+Using walker parts Sidonus manages to fix the chimera and Vitruvius pilots the craft towards our rendezvous. We arrive some days later at Scratch Company Omega, welcomed by an anti vehicle moat and a squad of Cadians on sentry duty. Setting up an HQ for the reunited members of the IX Legion we turn in our new information to command and enjoy once again the relative calm of camp.

Entry VII:

An assault on the Music of the Spears

+As the men enjoyed the relative comfort of Scratch Company Omega's campsite I would discover the company had only been assembled for a single task. It seemed that the vox interference troubling Imperial forces across the planet was caused by large black stone towers found nearby this location. New intel also suggest the heavily armoured Flylords we encountered are a heavy assault special trooper called 'Shatter Troopers'. We are also surprised to find the tall armoured figures we had killed were in fact a strange Xenos species. Just how these 'Music of the Spears' functioned is unknown but as we would be taking lead on this mission we are granted access to an Inquisitorial document on their possibly psychic source. I have Sidonus have a look at the relevant text and commit the information to memory while I sit in on tactics meetings with the other COs.

+We board our armoured chimera and set out ahead of the main assault force. The hundred men of Scratch Company Omega were set to support us, engaging the 500 or so Flylords suspected to be at the site while we enter and destroy the Spear. Heavy fire begins to wrack the specially reinforced chimera as our escorts peel away from us to engage the Flylords protecting the structure and we punch straight through. The Flylords troops mass like their namesakes in their rusted and despoiled white armour, supported by some dozen walkers as the engage the various elements of the Imperial strike force. Blasting through with our heavy bolting spitting death amongst their ranks we break through their defensive line and barrel towards the tower. Crashing directly into the strange black metal of the exterior of the tower the remnants of IX Legion sets up a defensive position and gives covering fire whilst Cohort V enters the structure.

[[imgcap: 'Music of the Spears' towers]]

+As the others are delayed by enemy fire I enter the lower level alone to find two of the Flylord shatter troopers and one of the strange armoured Xenos. I plow into them with my power sword, cutting down a shatter troop and deeply wounding another. Before the xenos can turn his foul weapons upon me the rest of Cohort V enters the room and ruthlessly ends its life in a hail of las. Stopping only to reload and put a round in the skull of each fallen foe we mount the stairs at the back of the room and continue upwards. We ascend swiftly and are given the halt signal by Vitruvius on point. The floor above features two slobbering and blissfully sleeping monsters. As tall as two men and hands crudely fashioned into claws the creatures sleep in the middle of the floor and do not stir as we sneak silently past them.

+Above a single pillar of strange stone sits alone in the room and we are shocked to find it adorned with a moving human visage and hands. It paws at us and speaks foul words with its inhuman mouth. It thinks we will listen its words. Foolish. We are men of Karrik. We do not truck with daemons or traitors. A det-pack sees the pillar destroyed and makes a certainty that no others would have to face the foul creature. The foulness continues to the top floor of the tower, as a dozen bald men sit in tanks of green fluid joined by cables to a central pylon. Knowing these men to be psykers we open fire at once, Krak grenades and my power sword making short work of the sleeping men as those who awoke were cut down by las volleys.

+With a crackle the vox unit came back online, the first time we had heard anything from the machine in almost a month. The battle outside was going poorly but with the objective of the assault now complete the order was given for units to start pulling back into the forest, to be supported by Gharka units hidden there. Even as units pulled back we heard screaming and explosions on the vox as units on the southern flank report a powerful new enemy force joining the fray. Bundling back into our chimera we decide to leave the engagement as per the battle plan. Unfortunately as our chimera threads through enemy positions towards the forest line he sees us. Clad in stained white plate armour and standing at least as tall as our tank with three orange eyes blinking on a horned helm he levels at a heavily rune encrusted boltgun at us. We knew this horrid sight for what it was, though barely able to comprehend it's presence. A chaos space marine. The dark astartes of the arch-enemy. As Vitruvius speeds the chimera towards him he sidesteps with uncharacteristic grace and fires his bolter at point blank range into the side of the APC, blowing deep holes in the armoured vehicles hide. We try again to crush him beneath the weight of the chimera but again he evades us and heavily damages our vehicle. Realising we can do little to kill such a foe we turn and flee the battle as he walks slowly towards the Spear.

+Some minutes later as we speed away from the battle through the forest we regain vox contact once again and blissfully hear contact by Imperial Guard units on the ground and the newly arrived Imperial fleet. We listen with interest as the ground forces inform the navy of the situation before the navy cuts vox contact to engage the chaos fleet anchored above. In the sky far above large ships manoeuvre and fire upon each other in a deadly dance, visible to us only as bursts of light in the darkening sky. The might of the Imperium had arrived, but the war was far from won.

Entry VIII: a

+With the Imperial fleet engaged high above there was little to do but return to the new RZ and regroup with the other elements of Scratch Company Omega. The latest RZ is a large cave system within a valley in the now familiar forested regions of Horizon. The command drogue lander is quickly docked and provisions unloaded. Losses from the Spear assault had been moderate, so much of the next few days is taken up with men and equipment being moved around to facilitate combat ready units. Watches were set, equipment was maintained, and men drilled between down time. Scratch Company Omega needed to be combat ready for when the Imperial forces landed.

[[imgcap: Scratch Company Omega HQ]]

+The Karrik HQ hab unit is deep within the cave, beneath layers of rock and three different security checkpoints…and yet I do not sleep easy. This particular night I was awoken by a microbead click from Vitruvius, serving on the outer perimeter watch. I listen intently as he reports an unmoving figure on the perimeter dugouts. Trusting my scout to sort it out I roll over, only to see the cold dead eyes of Legionnaire Harmon from VI Cohort looking back at me. A dark figure is hunched over him, pulling a dark dripping red dagger from the back of the now dead trooper…

Entry VIII:

Scattered and stranded in the Horizon forest

+I leap to my feet, confronting the dark figure in front of me even as my cries raise the men billeted around me. Almost as if a switch had been turned chaos reigned in the camp, the screams of men and eerie laughter barely audible over weapon discharges and familiar clanging of steel on steel. I slash at the attacker but he leaps out of my reach with unnatural grace, darting back while throwing a net in his other hand in an attempt to ensnare me. I slash his net in half with my now powered sword and catch the creature on its helmet with a left hook from my weaponless right hand. Apparently shocked by this display of primitive force I catch him off guard, stabbing my power sword into his chest with a sickening crunch. The other men in our billet manage to fight off their own attackers, due in no small part to the marksmanship of Sidonus as he blasts at the attackers in his sleeping attire. I see only that the newcomers seem to be lithe black glossy armoured figures with razor sharp knives and nets before the Legion soldiers present begin to armour up and grab their weapons and packs to join the fight outside.

+The scene outside is one of nightmares. Men dash two and fro without purpose, cut down by dark figures dashing between them with expert grace. Swooping shadows from the top of the cave grab men at random with cackling laughter, dropping them back down on their comrades as often as dragging them upwards into the darkness. The surviving Karrik at least have maintained discipline and I rally a dozen armoured figures to my side. We blast our way through our enemies, the foes fairly easily dispatched by the massed firepower of a dozen las weapons. As we make our way to the HQ we receive a garbled but clear order to retreat, followed by the blood curdling scream of our CO Captain Sears of the Cadians. Although outraged to be made to retreat by such a foe we follow our orders, using the Karrik line breaking prowess to forge our way out of the caves.

+As we reach the edge of the caves we battle through yet more enemies, losing a few Legionnaires to enemy ambushes but pushing through regardless. I take two slashes across the body that seem to fester with black oil, weakening me as the poison works its way through my body. As I stagger from the pain Sidonus reports in having spotted Vitruvius captured in an enemy net nearby. We fight our way there, killing his captures even as they drag his bleeding and broken body away with them. Legionnaire Patronius takes an enemy spear to the torso in the attempt, the virulent poison making quick work of his body and leaving him a quivering mess of the blood on the ground. Vitruvius is nearly dead from the biting cable of the net, having been dragged some distance in the bladed trap. Nearby we find the body of Legionnaire Gilliam, having struggled too hard against the net and sliced his own throat in the process. I stop for a moment and admire the courage of the young trooper, fighting his capture to the very end. I give the same sentiment to a grateful but quiet Vitruvius as he limps at my side out of the cave and into the surrounding forests.

+Although injured Vitruvius offers to go back into the camp to recon supplies as we sit anxiously at the forest edge near what was once Scratch Company Omega. He enters the camp and returns some minutes later with fearsome tales. He speaks of the swooping creatures having established themselves as sentries with heavy bore weapons and of strange floating vehicles pulling capture soldiers off, dragging them by hooks or nets. It seems most of the command structure had been captured, with Commissar Woldt, Captain Sears and Lt. Kimeln of the Heavy Lancers all present and caged by these new enemies. Realising Scratch Company Omega was lost, we returned to our original orders to form a guerrilla force, and marched at pace into the forest. A days march away we find a series of small well hidden caves and establish defensive positions. For three days we wait while Sidonus tries to fix the vox unit and contact other Imperial units. We finally manage to get a line on an Imperial Guard unit some 900kms to the south who are unaware of this new enemy. It seems we were the only camp hit by the raiders.

+The working vox causes a new problem as we receive word from Lt. Kimeln the following day, the officer we had served with in both the Mt. Osoco and Spear assaults. He was also one of the officers whom Vitruvius saw captured by the raid at Omega HQ. He claims to have escaped and although Sidonus strongly advises against it I send Vitruvius to meet with him. He is heavily wounded and shows signs of torture, needing to be carried back to the caves in which we are dwelling. We set him up in a cave an hours walk from the main camp, with only Vitruvius to guard him and Sidonus to administer his wounds. The medic suggests it is unsafe to have him present but I override him, unsure about whether he is indeed an ally. When awake Kimeln seems barely sane, ranting about a "God Machine" buried in the north. He says the new enemies tortured him and the other officers to gain insight into the artefacts the Imperial forces had been destroying here, the same artefact the Flylord diggers were uncovering on the plains. He gets madder and madder as his physical health improves, leaving his cave one night and wandering the forest due to a lax sentry. The sentry will be punished if we ever leave Horizon, but I am increasingly worried by the mental state of Kimeln. Nevertheless we settle in to wait for contact from the main invasion force, as nights are spent listening to the ramblings of the once noble Hugh Kimeln.

+The monotony of waiting is answered one night by a bright flash in the sky and the blurring red of debris entering orbit. The death of a starship often produced this effect, and a black shape could be seen the next morning hurtling down to the north of us and landing in the Great Horizon Sea. I discuss the fall with my councillors and we decide to investigate the crash site, if only to discover to whom the ship belonged. Unable to take his wounded form with us I leave Kimeln behind, an outcome he is unhappy with. He berates me for it, claiming I was trying to dishonour and kill him. The man is clearly at his wits end if he considers this anything but a tactical move. I leave him with a weeks supply of rations, a knife, and a frag grenade, apologising for the poor armament. He shouts at me as I leave the cave but I know I have given him a fighting chance, whether or not he has the will to take it is yet to be seen.

Entry IX:

+The march to the coast took a number of days, sped up considerably when we discover a heavily damaged but functional chimera on the second day. The wreckage fully settled upon the ocean by the time we arrive, a twisted blend of Imperial and foreign vessels sitting some kilometre off shore. Revving the chimeras engine we make our way out to it, thankful of the vehicles amphibious qualities.

[[imgcap: Downed Imperial Vessel]]

+Board vessel, long dark smokey winding corridors. Turret.

+Daemon with scissors and translucent skin. Find our way onto Chaos ship. Naval armsman mercy killing. Walls grab.

+Encounter flylords looting museum of ship. Loot ourselves. Attacked by Nurglings from the melted room.

+Make our way to bridge though nearly broken pathways. Find SM. Lead him back and he falls but Sidonus falls first. Sidonus ambushes him with krak missile to the face. Attacked by giant snake and we pull him up with makeshift rope.

+Access bridge's command panel and communicate with Dawn of Drusus. "The Flylords forces have established a blockade in geo-synchronous orbit above Horizons northern pole, and the Navy need to know why. Something something the navy can’t get a clear shot on the titan graveyard while the Flylords are in orbit. They’ll need to make a suicide drive-by run at the area but they need pinpoint accuracy in order to take the shot. The players will need to get to the northern continent and mark the location for the Imperial warships. The players are instructed to recover an orbital targeting module from the bridge, and use it to guide the bombardment. If asked, the Dawn of Drusus confesses that the players most likely will not survive this mission, but it is imperative it is carried out. If the Flylords or the Eldar were to retrieve the Titans, it could spell disaster for the Spinward front."

+Renegades and Xenos cut into one another with fusillades of energy and hard rounds while sleek fighters twirl and dance in the sky above. Artillery smashes into ranked soldiers and beasts, gouging great craters in the snowy ground, now pink with the spilling of fresh blood. There, amidst the chaos, you spy your target. The renegade forces have established heat-lancer machines around the Titan, which are slowly melting away the years-old ice. Suddenly a front of abominable creatures breaks away from the main battle and crashes into the Flylords around the Titan. The fighting is thick and fierce. Your vox crackles in your ear. “Karriks! We can’t stay in orbit for long against this blockade. We need you to mark our target as soon as you can. Emperor preserve us, we’ve only got one shot at this.”

+Rappel down from Feakes, he drives away. Start setting up thing. Smell ozone, Raider swoops in (takes a hit from Jacksons Krak missile).

[[imgcap: Horizon's 'Godmachine']]

+COMBAT- 3 Incubi, 1 SM. Jackson dodges one with strange grace, I kill the SM and incubi with power sword.

+Feakes arrives to pick us up. Leave just as lance strikes begin to target the area. The air turns hot and the ships engines begin to fail…

The Fate of a Legion

Part I: Karrik

Even with his thermal insulator coat clasped all the way to his neck, Race Brandall could still feel the biting cold. Grateful to be indoors at least, and out of the billowing snowstorm sweeping across the parade grounds, Race took a moment to appraise his surroundings. Behind him were a set of arched doors reaching several times the height of a man. They were made of some breed of native lumber bound in heavy bronze strapping embossed with effigies of cherubs, serpents, and heavily armoured soldiers. The walls were stone, dark, with thick veins of unmined ore running through them, upon which hung weighty silver-steel plaques easily the size of a Chimera. Above each plaque there was a brazier casting its warm orange glow up the steel face. The ceiling receded into blackness above, and for a fleeting moment Race felt as if he was being watched by some winged figure just out of sight. He cast the thought out of his mind.
I’m probably in the safest place on this frozen world he mused to himself.

Striding deeper into the hall, Race began to see a pattern emerging in the steel plaques.

It was some kind of local language, probably the ancient tongue of Karrik before colonisation, but the meaning was clear enough. These plaques held the names of soldiers and their corresponding units and citations. Race had seen enough memorials, statues, and monuments to realise that much at least. He paused, something catching his eye. One of the plaques stood out from the others. Cast in blackened steel, it had no brazier, and Race had to peer closely to make out the writing at the top.

“Can I help you, young man?” came a wizened voice from Race’s left. He startled, taking a step back from the blackened plaque. An elderly man, clad in midnight robes adorned with silver edging, materialized from the gloom.
“Can you… Yes. Yes. Good day, sir. My name is Race Brandall. I’m the remembrancer assigned to record Operation Reinhardt. You may have heard of it?”
Race shifted his dataslate to his left hand and proffered his right to the older man. The robed man eyed Race for a moment, before clasping the proffered arm at the elbow in a warriors grip. Up close, Race could see the deep lines upon the elderly man’s face; marks of advanced age, and marks of war blended together in a criss-cross network of scars and wrinkles.

“Well met, Race, Remembrancer. I am Logister Vibianus.”
“Logister?” Inquired Race.
“Yes. A record keeper of sorts. I believe your and mine profession are similar in a sense.”
Vibianus looked down at the dataslate clutched in Race’s hands.
“Although we tend to use parchment and steel for our records” he says with an arched eyebrow.
Race nodded, unsure of how to reply.
“Well, yes. Like I said. I’m here on orders to record accounts regarding Operation Reinhardt-“
“I heard you the first time, young man. I’m only half deaf you know.” Interrupted Vibianus. The elderly man glanced towards the blackened steel of plaque IX.

“You’ve come to the right place. Every name on that plaque saw action on Horizon in some form or another.”
Race brought his dataslate up and began tapping at the screen, opening a new log.
“And you, were you there Vibianus?”
Vibianus sighed wearily.
“No lad, no I was not. I’m a little old to be slinging lasrifles and swinging gladii these days. I knew many of the men who went tho. I taught them history you see, when they were in the academy. History is important to a Legionnaire of Karrik. We learn from our past, lest we are forced to repeat it.”

Race continued tapping at his screen, his fingers flashing across the illuminated surface.
“Vibianus, can you tell me who this plaque represents? Where are the men on here? Can I speak with them? I would dearly love to have some first-hand accounts for my records.”
Vibianus sighed again and approached the plaque. He ran his hand down its face, feeling the scrimshawed names on the cold steel beneath his fingers.

“Unfortunately lad, that isn’t possible. The IX Legion is no longer with us. This is a hall of the honoured dead, you see. Every name around you belonged to a man of Karrik who fell in service to the God-Emperor. The IX Legion, sadly, is no exception.”
Race stopped tapping at his screen and fixed Vibianus with a quizzical stare.

“The honoured dead? But you said every man on this plaque saw action on Horizon during Operation Reinhardt?”
“Yes lad. As terrible as it is, the entire IX Legion was killed to a man on Horizon. That world became their tomb.”
“But why is this one black and in shadows?” asked Race, gesturing around at the other plaques. “If all these men are dead, then why is the IX Legion different?”
Vibianus turned to face the remembrancer, his hand still lingering on the names of the fallen.
“Men have died in the past, Mr Brandall, but Karrik had never before lost an entire Legion in a single action. The men of the IX made the ultimate sacrifice in the Emperors name, forever changing the tides of war on the Spinward Front. Their exploits on Horizon are the stuff of legend, and we honour them in our own way. Karrik has never again reformed the IX Legion, out of respect for what those men did. All 1000 soldiers from the founding of the IX shall forever be its only members. Here.”

Vibianus tapped a collection of names under a stylized “V”. Race leaned in closer to read what the old man was indicating.
“Octavo… Vitruvius… and Sidonus? Who were they?” asked Race.
“They were the last to fall. The soldiers of V Cohort, III Century held to the last man against the foul forces of both Traitor and Xeno. If it were not for those men, Horizon, and much of the Spinward front would have been lost. In honour of their sacrifice, we award men of exceptional bravery the Order of Octavo. Our scouts and stealth teams are trained in the Vitruvius School of Reconnaissance. Sidonus Tactics are taught to every soldier so they may act when the chain of command fails.”

Vibianus laid his hand on Race’s shoulder, transfixing the remembrancer with eyes which had seen decades of warfare.
“If you are to write about Horizon, Mr Brandall, I suggest you begin with the men of the IX Legion.”
Race looked up at the blackened steel hanging above him, gazing upon the thousand names etched forever into its cold face.
“The honoured dead” murmured Race, tapping the words into his dataslate.

Part II: Asterion

Ducal Legate Koerner shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The straight-backed bench of the command Chimera left much to be desired in terms of comfort.
Note to self: Have the mechanics install foam support seating he noted internally, as the vehicle hit what was most likely a large lump of masonry and jumped several inches off the ground. They were making good time, and at pace, despite the shattered hive doing its utmost best to slow them down. Hive Iavarone on Asterion had suffered days of continuous shelling from the forces of the Severan Dominate in their push to claim a new foothold in the Spinward Front. The Imperial forces present were putting up a tenacious fight, giving up every inch of ground only after considerable blood had been spilt.

Even the mighty Imperium cannot stand against the righteousness of the Severan Dominate considered Koerner, remembering the fusillade of shell fire which had flattened this section of the hive in the early hours of the morning. A titanic explosion suddenly pulled the Ducal Legate from his revere. The chimera pulled to a screeching halt, skipping across the uneven ground. He could hear men shouting, voices muffled by layers of armour plating.

“What in the Duke’s name is happening?” he shouted at his drivers.
“Our convoy has been struck! The lead vehicle is destroyed sir! Krak missile just came out of nowhere!”
“Well then turn us around, dammit!”
The driver frantically pulled at his control yoke, and the chimera’s treads spun in the rubble, turning the 12-tonne vehicle. A second explosion washed across them, this time from their rear.

“By the Duke; the rear vehicle has been hit! Where the hell is that fire comin-“
The driver’s words ended as a precision las bolt threaded its way through his viewport and into his open mouth, blasting superheated blood and brains onto the headrest beside Koerner.

The Ducal Legate sat with his mouth agape for a moment, before pulling the emergency hatch release and clambering out of the vehicle. The scene which greeted him was utter chaos. Men in heavy carapace armour had charged out of the ruins and assaulted the column, wielding short and broad blades with expert ability. The disembarked Severan Dominate soldiers were being butchered. With the lead and rear vehicles destroyed, it had effectively boxed the Severan soldiers into a kill-zone. With a snarl Koerner drew his sabre and leapt down from the Chimera, advancing on one of the attackers.

“Come on then, you dogs!” he shouted as he swung his energised blade at the man. His target carried a pair of the curious blades wreathed in powerfields, and could clearly use them skilfully as he parried aside Koerner’s first strike with a flick of his wrist.
Koerner pushed hard with his attacks, forcing the man in black carapace to give ground under a barrage of heavy blows.
He’s quick. Too quick for a man in such heavy armour thought Koerner.
Close enough to smell him; Koerner could see the solider wore a stylized carapace helm which enclosed his entire face. A curious brush of hair rested on its peak, dyed the colour of blood.

Suddenly, Koerner wasn’t holding his sabre anymore. He looked down and saw it lying on the ground, his hand still wrapped around its hilt. It was then the smell of cauterized flesh reached his nostrils. The Ducal Legate screamed wordlessly and fell to his knees, clutching the stump of his arm to his chest. He stared up at his attacker through tear-filled eyes, noting for the first time the insignia upon the carapace pauldron.

“Who… Who are you?” asked Koerner, through gritted teeth.
The man in black leant in close, his blade poised above Koerner’s heart.
“We hold the honour of the legion” he whispered, as his blade sunk into the Ducal Legate’s chest.

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