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Blood Ravens 5th Company
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Background of the 5th Company

The Blood Ravens 5th Company and Master Captain Icarus

The comprehensive background for the Blood Ravens 5th Company under Captain Icarus. It is not a short work. In word its currently at 14 pages and I am always adding to it. With luck this will be the first time I have a comprehensive background for my army stringing together every battle, something I have so far totally failed to do with my Tau and had a hard time doing with the Ultramarines. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Ascension to Greatness

 

Harsh described Nimbosa perfectly. Fairly close to its sun most of the year the planet was covered with numerous deserts. What plant life there existed was nearly as harsh as the planet itself. Hot and humid jungles surrounded the polar regions of the planet where it was coolest and where most of the drinkable moisture was located. It was also where the Imperial settlements had been, before the Tau had come.

 

            Now built over the flattened rubble of the Imperial settlement was a Tau military outpost. Simple walls of a strange yellowish material formed concentric rings around the outpost, which was centered on several landing pads and a massive watch tower, mounted with numerous anti-aircraft turrets. Long barreled weapons that poured light plasma fire into the air to shred any flyers that tried to come anywhere near the position. In between the various rings of defenses, mounted on raised platforms, stood curious tower like structures that were deceivingly plain for each tower opened to reveal devastating heavy weapons that could obliterate any conventional attacker. The defenses were well formed, but easy to vacate should the position be compromised. What the Aliens had not counted on was the Adeptus Astartes.

 

            Stalking through the jungle around the outpost a strike force of Space Marines, nearly seventy men strong, moved into position. The marines were drawn from the Raven Guard and Blood Ravens chapter and were led by none other than Captain Kayvaan Shrike. The force was split into four teams. One was a Devastator and Tactical squad from the Blood Ravens that would blast open a path into the outpost and distract the heavy weapons for the precious seconds the other teams would need. The second team was a pair of Whirlwind tanks, one from each chapter that would send a volley of destruction into the center of the compound and keep the enemy from escaping. The final two teams were made up of roughly twenty five assault marines each. Most were Captain Shrike’s men but some were Blood Ravens. One Blood Raven in particular was among the assault teams. Veteran Sergeant Rathas, though he was known by Shrike and the rest of the marines on Nimbosa as Icarus. He had been given the nickname during the second action the Blood Ravens participated in on Nimbosa. Assigned to lead a Blood Ravens assault squad who had lost their sergeant, Rathas was not accustomed to deploying using a jump pack. During the fight against the Tau, Rathas had rushed to chase down a Crisis Battlesuit that tried to flee. Firing his pack to chase after the suit as it rocketed into the air the sergeant pitted the technology of the Imperium against the techno heresies of the Tau in a literal way. Pushing his pack to its limits Rathas managed to catch up to the Tau and slash apart its jets with his lightning claws to send it falling to its doom. Unfortunately the strain for his jump pack was too much and it gave out less than a second latter. Plummeting to the ground the sergeant barely managed to re-activate his pack in time, though he still crashed into the ground hard enough to seriously injure an Astartes.

 

            Captain Shrike took the sergeant under his wing, teaching him in the ways of war that he employed. Quickly Rathas and his squad became a force to contend with and after a month of fighting were inducted into Shrike’s personal wing as the astartes forces fighting the Tau on Nimbosa began to fight more closely together. During that time Shrike nick named sergeant Rathas, Icarus and the name stuck. Now Rathas was acting commander of the Blood Ravens on Nimbosa after commander Ondarin’s untimely death, and was in charge of a strike team now prepared to attack a well dug in Tau outpost.

 

++In position.++ Icarus voxed to the rest of the force.

 

++Understood, prepare to engage.++ Shrike responded as his force came into position at the very edge of the cover between the outpost and the jungle. The Tau kept about fifty meters of jungle clear around their walls, apparently under the impression that no force would be able to cross that distance intact under the fire of their guns. ++Engage!++

 

Five missiles flared from further in the jungle, their white contrails marking their travel across the distance to the Tau outpost. Three detonated on the walls, blowing them into the air in a shower of debris and smoke. The other two blasted into the closest Drone Turrets even as they began to open and respond to the threat. Despite the loss of both turrets the rest opened up to reveal a mix of multi barreled anti infantry guns and several turrets mounted with large missile launchers that sent return fire streaking into the jungle. But the Space Marines were not finished. With a roar both Whirlwinds opened fire blasting huge craters in the middle of the field between the outpost and the jungle, throwing more smoke, debris and confusion in the way as another volley of missiles streaked across the distance. This time all five impacted on the wall, throwing large sections of the wall to apart, to crash down into the field and into the outpost, some smashing into the buildings inside and causing even more damage and confusion.

 

The next volley saw the whirlwinds lob warheads directly into the compound, blowing one of the landing pads apart and blasting a huge chunk out of the tower, sending one of its large anti aircraft batteries crashing into another landing pad below. The krak rockets streaked forth a third time but this time they were accompanied by fifty jump packs flaring. Without the Tau noticing the assault marines had charged across half the field before firing their packs to send them soaring over the walls, sending trails of grenades below them to blast apart turrets, wall and Tau apart with impunity. Frag and krak grenades detonated in a wide arc inside the outpost just before the fifty marines landed. Some had fallen out of the air from the turret fire, some of those did not get back up. But most had made it inside, including Captain Shrike and commander Icarus. 

 

Bolt pistols barked in quick succession, spraying mass reactive shells indiscriminately into the Tau as they tried to flee or fight back. Fio technicians, air caste pilots and fire caste warriors were shredded by the gunfire before the marines let into them with chainswords and power weapons. Soon the whir of chainblades cutting through flesh and bone filled the compounds. Dispersed with the sound of bolter fire, rockets and missiles tearing apart the outer walls and turrets, the Devastators and Tactical Marines had moved forward to take up positions in the craters blasted by the first volley of fire from the Whirlwinds to add their bolters and plasma guns to the rocket fire. Soon every turret on the outer wall was completely destroyed or disabled and the wall itself was in ruins. Inside the Complex was not much better. The intelligence had been right. An Aun, or Etherial, one of the Tau leadership caste was at the station. White helmeted and robed Firewarriors formed semi circle around the last operational landing pad as the Fio desperately tried to get the least damaged shuttle operational. Luckily the whirlwinds had taken out most of the Tau aircraft and those few that had escaped total destruction were damaged. The few surviving Firewarriors were scattered around the compound, enacting dozens of last stands as they tried to defend doorways, or crude barricades and cover before being slaughtered by bolter and chainsword.

 

The only area of strong resistance was on the landing pad with the Etherial’s honor guard. Almost thirty Firewarriors had formed up with the honor guard and were holding the assault marines at bay. Several Blood Ravens and Raven Guard lay dead around or on the Landing Pad where they had tried to break the Tau line. Even more frustrating was the sight of the Tau shuttle’s engines flaring for a few seconds. The earth cast engineers almost had it fixed.

 

            The solution came with the Tactical marines and Devastators crunching through the shattered walls and sending sheets of bolter and heavy weapon fire into the Tau on the landing pad. The Tau landing pads were simple constructs, low maintenance and capable of servicing a number of craft each. But the cover they afforded was next to none. Faced with the weight of fire from the marines more than half of the Tau holding the pad died in a matter of seconds. With the xenos fire faltering the assault marines drove for the kill. Commander Icarus rocketed into the air, followed by almost fifteen marines. Shrike and another ten assault marines sailed into the air from the other side of the pad. Both forces crashed into the Tau line at the same time. The lightning claws of Icarus and Shrike, combined with the Chainswords and Bolt Pistols of their marines made short work, even of the veteran honor guard. The Etherial made his stand on the ramp of the shuttle, side by side with a hand full of his honor guard, including their apparent officer. The Etherial wielded a strange double bladed halbard that he spun with stunning grace and speed, fending off the attacks of Shrike who had headed for the Tau leader the moment he hit the pad. Within a few moments the last of the honor guard had died to shrikes Tallons but the Aun refused to go down. Then suddenly the other side of the shuttle burst open with a red hot flare of a melta charge. Blasting through the light shuttle’s armor Commander Icarus roared through the opening to impale the Aun from behind on his claws, lifting the Tau leader into the air. Icarus rocketed upwards to the top of the now shattered watch tower of the compound. Landing on top of its fractured dome he held the dying Etherial over his head and with a flourish ripped the body in two, sending it falling to the ground below.

 

            A cheer went up from the marines assembled below as they watched the Etherial’s torn corpse fall. Icarus standing on the savaged tower gleamed in the harsh afternoon sun, his deep red armor glowing in the glare. All told the attack had cost only nine marines their lives. While an organization like the Imperial Guard would have been amazed by such low losses in one of their operations, nine Space Marines was a costly lose. Nevertheless the reward was worth it. A keystone of the Tau offensive had fallen. The outpost had been being used by the Tau to launch aggressive raids on Imperial forces and bases as they tried to retake the planet for the Emperor. Not only that but one of the Tau Etherials had been slain. While the Inquisition would not be pleased that they were denied a specimen for study the result to the Tau moral was worth the cost. Should the marines have taken the Etherial prisoner the xenos would only have fought harder to save their leader. But now with their vaunted Aun shredded and discarded so casually the Tau moral would break. The alien grip on Nimbosa had been significantly weakened.

 

            Two months later commander Icarus departed Nimbosa. The Blood Raven task force had been recalled to be replaced by a force from the Ultramarines. Imperial Strategists predicted an end to the war soon but Icarus voiced open doubts. The Imperial Fists, masters of defense had lots the planet spectacularly to a Tau commander Brightsword. The Raven Guard had struck a decisive blow and nearly retaken the planet in one fell swoop but the Tau had proven remarkably tenacious. Now the Ultramarines were going to have a go at sending the xenos packing. Meanwhile Icarus and his men were being sent to a planet named Kronus. A massive force of Blood Ravens had been dispatched there. According to the orders Icarus had received the previous day, the chapter had uncovered ruins and artifacts from their past and a purge had been ordered. Elements from more than half of the Companies in the chapter were there already under the command of Captain Davian Thule of the 5th Company. Thule had been granted command of a large number of veterans from the 1st Company, Devastators from the 9th, Assault Squads from the 8th Company, 10th Company scouts and marines from several other companies besides, including the entire 5th Company as soon as Icarus and his marines arrived. Whatever had been found was important.

 

            Traveling through the warp took nearly three weeks, despite the fairly short trip involved, at least compared to the great span of the Imperium. When the small Strike Cruiser under Icarus’ command arrived in the Kronus system it was to a truly impressive signt. Half a dozen other major Blood Raven craft held orbit, including the Battle Barge, the Litany of Fury, which meant that Gabriel Angelos of the 3rd Company, and 9th Companies were present, the Strike Cruiser the Ravenous Spirit was also present. Other Strike Cruisers dispatched by a number of the Chapter’s other Companies were also present. The sight of so much of the Chapter in one place was not what kept Icarus’ attention. Battleships and support craft of the Imperial Navy and several Adeptus Mechanicus ships held orbit on the other side of the planet, keeping a wary distance from the Astartes ships. Wreckage from Ork and light Imperial craft was also strewn about the system, several wrecked Tau ships were even present.

 

            ++Come in Commander Rathas++ Came the voice of Captain Davian Thule over the fleet vox.

 

            ++This is Commander Ica… ahem Commander Rathas receiving, what are your orders Captain?++ Icarus replied, catching himself late in correcting his name.

 

            ++Rathas what are you stammering about? We have a job to do, this planet is crawling with enemies to be purged.++ Thule growled back, as impatient as always.

 

            ++I can see that Captain, the Orks and Tau appear to be in significant number but I do not see how that justifies the might shown by the Imperium, surely with the Guard and Mechanicus…++ Icarus began before Thule cut in.

 

            ++The Guard and Mechanicus are enemies here as well. This planet is the possession of the Blood Ravens by order of the Chief Librarian and Chapter Master. The Guard have refused to back down, apparently they found some sort of Titan gun. They are not even our greatest problem. The Necrons have appeared on this world, apparently it is some kind of… Tomb World of theirs. Orks crashed a hulk full of their filth, the Eldar have been launching strikes against the Necrons and the forces of Chaos had arisen amongst the population and seized control of a great area of the southern coast and mountains. Get your men to the fortress in North Vandea, you will be briefed there.++ Thule almost shouted over the vox before cutting the link. Rathas stood on the bridge of his ship for a few long moments before turning to prepare the Thunderhawks.

 

            Davian Thule had been correct. The Tau had not proven the greatest problems for the Blood Ravens on Kronus. The fighting across the planet had been fierce beyond anything many of the Blood Ravens had seen before. The Tau forces clashed with those of the Necrons in the planes beyond their capitol city. While the Necrontyr forces were engaged with the Tau, the slippery Eldar slipped into the tombs of the Thur’abis Plateau and set off a massive bomb there. The Tau formed their defences up and struck for the largest space port of the planet, here they were stopped by the sheer numbers of the Imperial Guard who ground the Tau into a stalemate and then finally back onto the plains devastated by the Necrons. With the space port in hand the Imperial Guard turned their attention to the Blood Ravens who had been shoring up their defenses in Northern Vandea. While the Astartes and Guard clashed the Eldar cut the head from the Orks in the southern jungles, but just as it seemed the Eldar would be victorious the Ork Warboss set off charges placed throughout his headquarters, vaporizing a great many of the Orks and their Warboss’ and devastating the Eldar who had not escaped in time. Despite their losses the Eldar continued to hunt down the Orks in the jungle and finally turned their attention to the forces of chaos.

 

            By the time the Orks and Necrons had been removed from the playing field the Blood Ravens had fought back the Imperial Guard. Forcing them from the north of the continent, but giving the Eldar a wide birth as well, the Blood Ravens finally entered the fighting in a major way when they captured the Space Port from the Guard. The operation had been led by Commander Icarus along with more than a hundred and fifty marines with armored support and first company veterans. Icarus still wearing the armor he had been awarded by Shrike upon his entrance into Shrikes wing and bearing the lightning claws of that position Icarus fell from the sky, on his twin jets, claw’s shredding any and all foes who strayed too close. With the space port in hand the Blood Ravens launched a major operation against the forces of Chaos. Three hundred and thirty five marines participated in the operation. Barely two hundred made it through. The Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers traitor legion, Eliphas had been dug in heavily. Hordes of slavering daemons, tides of foul traitor guardsmen and scores of traitor marines met the spearheads of the Blood Ravens, blunting their effect and pulling the Astartes into brutal mass melees. It was only when Icarus took command of the Assault Marines and Land Speeders to undertake a daring and bold plan that the battle turned. Abandoning attempts to support Captain Thule and his command as they battled in a straight line towards the fortress where Eliphas had built his great warp gate. Icarus led all those marines who would follow him in a flanking attack. Cutting through the sparse enemy patrols on their western flank, Icarus struck at one of the traitors major staging points. Crashing into it from behind, melta charges blasted apart the tainted structures of the Word Bearers and with chainsword and bolter the marines under Icarus’ command freed hundreds of Imperial Guard and xenos prisoners. The xenos formed up with Icarus temporarily and together with his ad hoc army Icarus struck at the stronghold of Eliphas from the west just as Thule finally forced his way to its gates through the hordes of chaos followers facing him. Thule was enraged to see the rogue commander leading an army of traitors and aliens against the forces of chaos but the others of his command were not so critical. The Chaplains and Librarians among Thule’s forces noted the genius with which Icarus had gathered his forces and struck at the enemy.

 

            Despite the various ways in which the Blood Ravens arrived at the fortress they held back, for a long moment before beginning their assault. As the traitors and the forces of the Astartes weighed each other up, something most unexpected happened, the Eldar arrived. Scores of skimmer tanks suddenly swept down from the sky, spilling hundreds of Eldar onto the outer defenses of Eliphas’ stronghold. The forces of chaos fought back with fury and the carnage was intense but slowly the Eldar began to push towards the center of the stronghold. The Blood Ravens would not let the Eldar cheat them of victory however and using the xenos attack as a distraction swept aside the last line of defenses to strike at the great warp portal personally. The Dark Apostle and Eliphas clashed in a swirling and brutal combat as daemons poured from the gate. A squad of Grey Knights, seconded to the Blood Ravens for the mission met the tide from the gate with a devastating charge of their own, backed by sheets of bolter fire from the Blood Ravens. Several squads of Terminators swept into the combat following the Grey Knights, Power Fists and Thunder Hammers leaving glittering trails of destruction as they were swung through the daemons and traitor marines alike. Eliphas fought with the blessings of the Dark Gods, his cursed Crozius meeting the great Daemonhammer gifted to Thule from the Ordo Malleus. Thule was a figure from legend, his armor adorned with relics of the chapter, crafted by the greatest artificers of the chapter, his pack flashed with power, teleporting him short distances to try and confuse the traitor, power flashing from the Iron Halo above Thule’s head to ward off any strikes that slipped through his guard and his Inferno Pistol blasting molten channels in the tainted stone wherever he fired. But the Dark Apostle was not without his own tricks, his armor was adorned with gifts of chaos, he could see the path Thule used when leaping through the warp and met the Captain every time, their weapons clashing with titanic force. Thule had to win, he simply could not lose, the Blood Ravens could not afford to lose here. He fought with more fury than Icarus had ever seen from the man and still he failed to bring down the Word Bearer.

 

Without warning the Dark Apostle dropped his shoulder and stepping under Thule’s guard as his hammer swung past too high, shouldered the Captain in the stomach, spikes attached to the traitor’s pauldrons stabbing into Davian’s torso and throwing him onto his back. The traitor spun his cursed Crozius in a glittering arc, smashing aside Thule’s Daemonhammer and flying up, prepared to be brought down two handed to slash the honored Captain clean in two. The chaos and destruction all around seemed to slow to a crawl as Eliphas dropped his own meltagun and grabbed his weapon with both hands, bringing it down with all his might to end the life of Captain Davian Thule, or so he must have thought. Instead his blow was caught halfway in the crossed claws of Commander Icarus’ lightning claws, the power field of the claws struggling to match the tainted power of the cursed daemonic weapon. With a roar Icarus forced the chaos weapon aside and brought his knee up into the traitors groin, then smashed his shoulder into the Dark Apostle’s head forcing him back. As the traitor stumbled he brought his crozius around in a flash of power, slashing across the gauntlets of Icarus, shredding power couplings and nearly taking off the marine’s hands. But the distraction had been enough. Davian Thule spun past the falling Commander Icarus to bring his Daemonhammer into the chest of the Dark Apostle, flinging the traitor, broken and bloodied at the very edge of the warp gate.

 

Remarkably Eliphas was not slain, standing the traitor marine laughed, a dark and evil sound. He laughed his defiance until long moments latter the melta charges planted by Icarus’ men went off. The Warp Gate exploded in a shower of debris, power roaring from it as the gate became violently unstable. Those marines who were still fighting helped their wounded comrades escape from the fortress and to the bloody plains below where Thunderhawks swooped in to extract them. Most of the dead were carried out on the shoulders of their comrades, not a single suit of Terminator armor was lost. Thule was furious however. Only the intervention of the other Company Commanders, Chaplains and Librarians staved Thule from stripping Icarus of his rank and expelling him from the chapter. If that were not infuriating enough for Thule, the Chapter Master himself, who in the Blood Ravens chapter usually held the duel role of Chapter Master and Chief Librarian, sent an astropathic message for Commander Icarus personally. Icarus would not say what the message had contained. Thule ignored the event and for another few months the battles raged across Kronus with each of the four remaining factions gaining and losing ground regularly. The Eldar seemed to desire the annihilation of life on the planet, perhaps to make sure no one would uncover the Necron ruins. The Tau wanted to force the others off the planet and finally take total control of the planet. The Guard were under orders to seize the planet for the Imperium, and finally the Blood Ravens were under orders to cleanse the planet.

 

Finally Captain Davian Thule ordered Commander Icarus to lead a force against the Tau, while he lead an attack on the Eldar stronghold. Icarus had a near suicidal mission. While the Eldar used remnants of the Orks and Chaos forces to bog down Thule’s attack and protect their staging ground the Tau had formed a complex and powerful defense. Stealthed battlesuits harassed any and all attackers trying to strike at the heart of the city, Firewarrior teams formed barricaded firing points, drawing attackers in to be flanked and attacked by Kroot auxilaries before they could reach the Tau lines. Then with the enemy dead the xenos would disappear into the city to spring another trap elsewhere. The city was a nightmare of urban combat, fighting from street to street against the Tau proved nearly impossible. With advanced skimmers, the speed and agility of the Kroot and the jump packs of the Tau drones and battlesuits, even the Assault Marines of the Blood Ravens could not keep up with the Tau.

 

Nevertheless Commander Icarus would not let the foul xenos stop him. Whirlwinds, Predators and Dreadnaughts obliterated a wide swath of the city, high explosives tearing apart buildings, streets and defenders with impunity. The Tau could not defend what no longer existed, or hide from sight when everything was being shredded and burned. Ignoring the small arms fire harrying his men and raining off the hulls of his armor, Commander Icarus led his forces in a straight line to the center of the city, making for the great comms array of the Tau. Realizing what the Marines were planning the Tau tried to stop him, but forced into direct firefights and swirling close combats on the Blood Ravens terms the Tau and their auxilaries died in obscene numbers, their corpses littering the rubble. Despite not having the veterans and commanders that Thule had taken into the north west against the Eldar, Icarus still managed to force the Tau back and seize the complex array of comms in the central square of the Tau capitol. With the xenos technology at his disposal Icarus was able to reveal the positions of all the Tau units in the city, cutting them off with traps of his own, catching the auxilaries unsupported, flanking and annihilating the Tau fire teams and shredding their battlesuits with devastating long range fire from Whirlwind artillery. Quickly the majority of the city fell to the Blood Ravens as the Tau were forced to fall back farther and farther, attempting to regroup only to be caught in devastating orbital barrages from the Litany of Fury orbiting the planet.

 

After more than twenty hours of constant fighting the Tau forces were finally forced back to the Tau quarter of the city. The central strong point of the Tau since the beginning of the campaign and where their envoys and garrison had been before the Dark Crusade, as the campaign was being called, had begun. If Icarus could manage to kill the Tau Etherial then their forces would break and their commander Shas’O Kais would probably pull his troops from the planet and depart. Gathering his men for one final assault Icarus began a massive bombardment. Orbital and whirlwind barrages tore through the Tau quarter, vaporizing whole squads of Tau troops and devastating their defenses. Without their comms array to throw off enemy signals Icarus was able to direct pin point accurate fire into the Tau forces trying to take up defenses within their stronghold. Devastator squads sent scores of krak and frag rockets streaming into the district, obliterating defenses and buildings and sending sheets of deadly shrapnel to fill its streets with razor death. After four hours of constant barraging Icarus led the charge, forty assault marines flew over the wrecked outer walls of the Tau quarter and over the moat cutting it off from the rest of the city. The few Tau units still able to fight at the walls were quickly dismembered by chainswords, and power weapons. Those who tried to flee were taken down by bolter fire. Splitting into two teams the Assault marines used melta charges to destroy the gates and towers defending the bridges into the Tau stronghold. With the entrance cleared 170 Tactical and Devastator marines streamed across the bridges into the city, some mounted in Rhino APCs to lend quick support to where it was needed. A pair of Predator Annihilator tanks led the vanguard as the Blood Raven attack split into two forces striking up either side of the great terraces leading to the Etherial’s quarters. Veteran honor guard and zealous Tau troops died in droves to hold back the marines, but they had never faced the sheer might of the Adeptus Astartes when their blood was up. Bolter fire shredded fio’tak armor, pulse weapons took their toll on the marines advance but it was not enough. Within twenty minutes more than a hundred marines were streaming into the Etherial’s quarters. O’Kais and his most veteran warriors fought with a fury before unseen but even that was not enough. Surrounded by his honor guard the Etherial was cut to ribbons by Icarus himself as he tried to rally the defenses. Seeing their spiritual leader dead O’Kais forced Icarus back long enough to grab the Etherial’s body before he and his surviving warriors fled. Rocketing over the walls to disappear into the ruined city beyond, boarding hidden Manta drop ships O’Kais and those few Tau who could escaped the city. Most of the xenos were hunted down in the city streets, cut off, surrounded and killed. Twenty five hours and thirteen minutes after the battle had begun, the last Tau in the city were confirmed dead.

 

When the Blood Ravens departed the city and activated the explosives they had left, what little was left of the city was destroyed in a burning inferno of destruction. Of 250 Marines who had attacked the city, 52 were confirmed killed, their gene-seed collected by the chapter’s apothecaries. Icarus gathered his remaining men and departed for North Vandea.

 

The battle to cleanse the Tau was over, but the fight in western Vandea was barely begun. Captain Thule had acted with his blunt and direct manner as usual. The Eldar had screened themselves with Orks and Chaos Marines trying to force the Blood Ravens into a protracted battle while the Eldar withdrew. Thule had smashed through the Orks and the Traitors with sheer brute force. Striking into the heart of the Eldar stronghold, but that was where his luck ended. The Eldar fought the Astartes tooth and claw, aspect warriors battling along the slopes of the mountain with Thules marines. Terminators formed armored spearheads with Land Raider and Predator Tanks. Tactical squads raced up the slopes in Rhino APC’s to pour from them at the top sending waves of bolter fire into the Eldar reinforcements. Assault squads filled the sky chasing down Swooping Hawks, Jetbikes and Warp Spiders. Thule and the other officers under his command fought a vicious combat with an Eldar seer council, fighting their way to the portals beyond. Casualties mounted as the fight dragged on. Eventually Thule fought the Eldar Farseer personally, the two figures little more than swirling lights of shimmering power at the top of the mountain, fighting before the largest of the Eldar webway gates. Thirty seven hours into the battle the two secondary warp portals fell and the remaining Eldar fell back to the top of the mountain, chased by the surviving marines all the way to meet where Captain Thule and the Eldar Farseer fought to the death.

 

When Icarus and his men dropped from their Thunderhawks onto the slopes of the mountain, the snow for miles around was littered with bodies and turned red with blood. Thousands of Orks, scores of Chaos marines and hundreds of their followers and several Thousand Eldar lay dead. Amongst the fallen were more than sixty marines, mostly from Thule’s own 5th Company. Icarus led his men to the top of the mountain, fighting through the few straggling Eldar and gathering the wounded as they went. By the time Commander Icarus arrived at the top of the mountain he saw Captain Thule fall, the Farseer’s witchblade impaling him. The moment Thule fell, the Eldar Farseer collapsed, her energy finally spent and her wounds mounting up. The survivors of the Farseer’s Seer Council dragged her through the final webway portal just before it was finally destroyed. Icarus would latter learn that the Eldar did not escape, their ship blasted to pieces as it tried to flee, though strangely the Farseer teleported to the Litany of Fury where she guided Gabriel Angelos, Captain of the 3rd Company, on a very strange mission indeed. Nevertheless the most important aspect of the fight was the Imperial Guard drive for North Vandea and the Blood Ravens Fortress. Captain Thule died, his work undone. Icarus gathered the bodies of the fallen and the wounded and returned to the fortress. Bringing the 5th Company’s strike cruiser into a lower orbit Icarus executed his orders. Over the last several months he had organized the excavation of the ruins, culminating in lifting the ruins whole into low orbit where they were fitted into the 5th Company Strike Cruiser, the Bleeding Angel. A large section of the lower hull was cut away, its innards stripped out to be replaced with the ruins and the hull replaced. Several decks were removed including the ship’s sanctum and crypt, the relics and bodies interred, reverently moved until new chambers could be carved into the stone under the ruins. With his orders completed Icarus evacuated the Blood Ravens from Kronus, leaving the planet to the Guard. The Inquisition investigated the Blood Ravens actions, while no further action was taken the Blood Ravens would soon enter more trying times than they had gone through in centuries.

 

Upon linking up with the chapter’s main fleet, Icarus was promoted to Captain of the Blood Raven’s 5th Company, in addition he was awarded the honorary title of Master Captain, Master of the Marches. The chapter’s artificers forged a new suit of power armor to commemorate Icarus’ promotion. Captain Icarus was presented a suit of Artificer armor, made from the Mark VIII design, known as Errant armor. The suit incorporated advanced vox equipment and was forged of the most rare and precious materials, offering protection rivaling that of the massive Terminator armor. Icarus was also gifted some of the relics recovered on Kronus. An ancient Iron Halo was built into his jump pack and he was gifted a pair of Master-Crafted Lightning Claws, thought to be an ancient form of Force Weapon, Icarus was the first member of the chapter able to activate the ancient weapons. In short order Icarus had gone from a distrusted Veteran Sergeant and acting secondary commander to a Master Captain incorporating a glorious mix of the old and the new. He wore examples of the most powerful technology both ancient and new. What was more, Icarus generally had hope for the future, believing that through strength and honor the Imperium could carve a future for its sons and daughters from the blood filled stars.

 

Hunter or Hunted

 

Captain Icarus watched the Inquisitorial Strke Cruiser move into low orbit, preparing to fire its payload of Drop Pods. Already a Thunderhawk had made planetfall bearing the most zealous of the Deathwatch marines. According to the intel gathered the Inquisition had not taken kindly to the Blood Raven's actions on Kronus. However this was an entirely seperate group, apparently some more zealous sects of the Inquisition took Captain Gabriel Angelos' recent actions as a sign of heresy amongst the Blood Ravens. The fact that their little strike force had latched onto the trail of the 5th Company and not the 3rd seemed to have gone unnoticed. Icarus did not care what they were doing, or that it was Captain Angelos who had gotten the chapter into this mess. All he needed to know was that these fools were seeking his death, that was fine, he would just have to repay them in kind.

"Are the men in position Faustus?" Icarus asked his second, the young but brilliant Epistolary Librarian Faustus Dorar.

"They are Captain, Squads Illiam and Philantes are in position at the outpost, the rest of the men are in the loose formation you specified." Faustus replied.

"Good, the enemy will be arriving shortly, expect the first drop pods to hit soon after we engage the enemy. Rough estimates put the enemy at roughly 50 Marines and two Dreadnaughts. There also appears to be a regiment of Guard, we have not yet been able to ascertain who they are and what personal reason they have for being here." Icarus said as he watched the distant forms of the enemy as they leapt from the tops of ruined buildings towards the Blood Ravens position.

"They appear to be far too impatient to wait for the rest of their forces to deploy." Faustus commented as his familiar flitted around above them.

"They do indeed, likely we will face the first wave that have already landed, then their reinforcements as the drop pods land." Icarus noted his gaze still skyward.

"What about the guard?" Asked Faustus.

"They will come latter, though the pict steals did show a shuttle bearing the seal of the Ordo Malleus and more worryingly of the Grey Knights, if the information in the Librarium is any indication we may be facing a force of fellow astartes that are far more dangerous than the rabble we face now." Icarus said.

"Nevertheless we shall destroy them." Faustus said, gripping his Force Staff tighter than usual, the only indication the reserved man would show of his eagerness to face the enemies of the Emperor.

With their preparations finished Icarus and Faustus moved to their positions in the defences, preparing to meet the deluded fools chasing them.

 

Everything was black, white how pain filled the senses, noise, thunder, the sound of thunder almost overhead. Voices shouting, screams, shattered metal, silence. Slowly Master Captain Icarus of the Blood Ravens 5th Company opened his eyes to a screen of static. His helmet flashed through various visual spectrums, all non responsive. Icarus shook his head, smacking it against the side of his jump pack and suddenly his vision started to clear, the screen resolving into the sights of a shattered field, littered in power armored bodies. Shakily he stood to his feet, reminding himself that power fists do indeed hurt, very much.

"Form up! Prepare for the Guard, and get this mess cleared away. Reform the cover!" Icarus shouted as he steadied himself against a drop pod. Above him a marine was tearing off its storm bolter, the weapon firing uselessly into the sky, its servos must have been severed in the shooting.

"Sir are you alright?" It was Faustus.

"I've had worse, I'll get an apothecary to look at me later, for now we have to prepare for the Guard, and perhaps the Grey Knights, if they arrive it will either be with the infantry or teleporting." Icarus said walking over to where his marines were forming up agian.

"The cover has been shredded, should we move back to the next lines?" Sergeant Valius asked.

"Yes, pull back to the next line, let the Guardsmen see their allies dead." Icarus said following the assault marines as they fell back to the next line of defenses they had prepared. The Guard would be coming soon, and they were not going to be happy. But then again, neither were the Blood Ravens.

 

Icarus pivoted on his left foot, digging his heel into the ground and spinning low, his claws slashing out at knee level, the Terminator was fast, but not that fast. Nemesis Force Halbard slashed over Icarus' head, scrapping against the power field of his ancient Iron Halo, doing no more than to help blind the Terminator from his target. Sparks flew as the power claws slashed through the ceremite plating, the Terminator armor was thick and powerful but the claws cut through it with ease. Blood flowed where the claws had slashed through both legs just below the knees, but not far enough to cut through the bone. Still the Grey Knight Brother Captain howled his rage as he spun the Halbard back around sweeping in a diagonal slash, but Icarus was already gone, in his place was a roaring jet of flame. Activating his Jump Pack Icarus launched into the air, his armored boot connecting with the face of the Brother Captain as he lifted off. Stumbling back from the surprisingly strong blow the Grey Knight didn't even see Icarus cut the jet and spin as he fell, sweeping his left claw through the lighter armor of the neck guard between the Terminator's head and shoulder. The head flew free of the body, the veteran warrior of countless battles against horrors Icarus had never seen was dead before he even realised he was hurt, the life flown from the corpse before it hit the ground. A terrible way for a veteran Astartes to die, by the hand of another Astartes. Icarus backflipped and threw himeslf behind cover. Sergeant Rafiel and Epistolary Faustus were the only marines remaining with him. Brother Germanus flew past the sand bags, his torso in tatters. Heavy bolter rounds punched into the dirt and stone all around.

"Wait for it." Icarus spoke into the vox calmly. The gunfire roared, long seconds passing before it suddenly cut out, to be replaced by a more distant burst of gunfire, this time from the scouts. Icarus had no idea how many were still alive but they were doing their job well. "Go, Go, Go!"

The marines were already moving, the three of them sprinting across the field. Three jump packs roared in unison sending the veteran warriors crashing through the wall of the ruins where the final Guard Platoon had holed itself up. Guardsmen scrambled as the marines burst in among them, but they were far too slow. Faustus spun and turned, he stabbed men behind him, knowing they would be there.

"Bloody unfair." Icarus said into the vox jokingly.

Within moments the Guard on the bottom floor were dead. Faustus and Icarus launched again smashing through the floor above without ceremony and bursting amonst another squad of Guardsmen and the remains of the Command squad. The Colonel roared, drawing his ornate power sword and rushing at Icarus.

"This is for my comrades on Kronus!" The warrior yelled as he charged, Icarus side stepped the lunge and took the man's head off. Deluded fool, Icarus thought to himself as he cut down three more guardsmen before the second second passed. Faustus was already gone, dropping back to the bottom floor to rush the tank outside with his melta bombs. Sergeant Rafiel had gone after the mortar teams behind the building and from the sound of things had finished them off already.

"Clear!" Yelled Faustus from below, Icarus walked over to the window in time to see the Librarian looking through the top hatch of the smoking Leman Russ battle tank.

"A grenade huh?" Icarus asked deactivating his claws to lean out of the window and look around.

"What, and you had a better idea?" Asked the Librarian looking up, his eyes still glowing, the circuit around his head flaring with energy.

"Good job, really, nice work!" Icarus said, giving the thumbs up sign before walking back into the building to survey the mess. More than a dozen guardsmen lay strewn about, most bore the wounds of lightning claws or Faustus' Force Staff but some had been taken out with precision sniper shots, and others blasted apart by bolter rounds. "Report, what are we looking at?"

"The Strike Cruiser in orbit has departed, confirmed kills on forty eight Deathwatch, two Dreadnaughts, five Grey Knights and more than seventy guardsmen and a few odd vehicles. Which is everyone, one Drop Pod landed late and off target but squad Philantes took down the Drop Pod before the cargo could disembark, all hands killed." Reported Sergeant Backus.

"And our cassualties?" Asked Icarus.

"Total tally is not yet available but we are looking at fifteen men roughly and four scouts. But sergeant Valius tells me those surviving scouts are now fit for advancement." Sergeant Backus again.

"A heavy toll for such a tragic battle." Icarus said solemnly, crossing the arms of the Guard Colonel over his sword and closing his eyes.

"With all due respect sir, are they not the enemy, traitors and scum come to kill us?" Asked sergeant Rafiel.

"No sergeant, they are not traitors and scum, they are comrades in arms, turned against us by the corruption and treachery of others. Our real enemies did not show themselves here, they were in orbit, watching their pawns fight and die. This battle was not a result of the deaths on Kronus, or Captain Angelos' actions. It is a result of the corruption and rot lying at the heart of the Imperium. We are charged with hunting threats both outside and in, heretics, mutants, aliens and traitors alike. But nevertheless not everything is black and white, not all our enemies are the real threat, not all those who seek our death are the enemy. Remember this sergeant." Icarus said walking out of the building and back towards his men.

The opposing forces had been defeated, in a near text book fashion. Cassualties were light considering the number of fellow Astartes and Guard who had faced them. Despite that, Icarus was not pleased. Good men had died, both his own, and others. All servants of the Imperium. There had been no victor this day. As he walked back to his men, Captain Icarus' shoulders were heavy with the weight of leadership.