Company Master Ragna of the Dark Angels watched in hopelessness as the Dark Eldar began to herd their slaves into twisted cargoes. Swift and without warning, they had swept through the town like a black tornado. Everything took place in mere minutes. Dozens humans perished in the assault, those lucky ones, that is. Hundreds more were less fortune, now helpless at the hands of their sadistic captors. The Dark Eldar had come to Depora VI to renew their quickly depleting slave stock, their presence not coming unnoticed by the Imperium.

Ragna gritted his teeth. The pained cries of children mixed with malicious laughter from the xenos sent surges of anger and spite throughout his body. Some screams were curtailed by the sound of the person gurgling in his own blood, others seemed to last more than they should, still audible long after their owner had expired. For an ordinary man, witnessing such depravity would haunt his life forever, but Ragna was no such man. Balling his fist, he swallowed hard, tempered himself. This would have to come to pass, there was no other way. The Dark Angels had not arrived too late. Rather, they were too soon and ahead of the entire company which was still stuck in Warp transit due to unexpected distortion in the immaterium. There were only five Astartes in the recon group: Devastator Sergeant Markus, Tactical Sergeant Victorius, Battle Brothers Nara and Brade, and Ragna himself, master of the 5th Company. For this mission, Sergeant Victorius carried with him the Banner of Shame as repentance for his disgrace during the battle of Quadesh where he, along with his entire squad, succumbed to the foulness of Squiggoth shit. If all hell broke loose, he would be the cannon fodder: only by getting between the barrel of the enemy's guns and his Battle Brothers could his sin be redeemed.

Five against possibly a hundred Dark Eldar was suicidal at best and unholy deviation from the Codex Astartes at worst. The kicking and whipping, moaning and wailing continued. With heavy heart, Ragna ordered his men to depart, his only consolation: when the Dark Angels come in force, the xenos would pay dearly.

For the next couple of days, the Dark Angels waited for reinforcement while stalking the enemy. On one occasion, they ambushed a Venom skimmer, killing all 6 Kabalite Warriors in quick order. It felt very good.

It was on the third day, while he was having lunch along with his Brothers, that Ragna heard a fainted cry for help. Another poor soul was suffering from the Dark Eldar's torture. He was going to ignore it when he realized he recognized that voice. Without a moment's hesitation, he was on his feet. Paying no heed to his Brothers' astonishment, he ran towards to source, hoping it was not what he was expecting.

And there is was, at the bottom of the ridge. A group of Dark Eldar had gathered for some reason. As Ragna looked, the Dracon, a slim creature in spiky black armor draped by the flayed skins of his victims, laid down a woman in bondage. Her clothes were in tatter and her feet were bare. To Ragna's utter horror, she was none other than his wife, Meliane.

No, not possible, Ragna thought. A Space Marine has no wives, apart from Techmarine Deliel who married himself to a combat servitor (their relationship was condemned by the Chapter but lived on under sanction from the Adeptus Mechanicus). Ragna had a wife once, but not anymore after he was conscripted into the Dark Angel against his will as part of their scheme to rebuild 5th Company. His past life was insignificant, if not irrelevant now, but his mind failed to register so. Before he knew the meaning of war and unshakable faith, she was the woman he used to love and adore. Meliane was just as Ragna remembered her from his half-forgotten memory: chestnut long hair with white skin and tender limbs. The sight of her next to the vile Dark Eldar made him sick on many levels.

The Dark Eldar leader bent down, reaching for her cheek. Meliane begged, and he slapped her across the face. The brutal gesture knocked her sideways. Spitting out a gobbet of blood, the poor woman curled herself, waiting for a quick death that would never come. Her eyes were both in tears.

In a raging outburst, Ragna sprinted from his cover and charged straight for the filthy xenos. Shouts and curses erupted from the Dark Eldar, followed by sneers and chuckles as they saw he was alone. The presumptuous alien anticipated good picking; they were to be sorely disappointed.

Ragna hurled a couple of stun grenades into the cluster of enemy. The combination of intense light and supersonic noise sent several xenos reeling, dazed or unconscious. Codex Astartes emphasized the selective destruction of enemies that would cause the most damage when fire power was limited. Ragna let loose his bolt pistol with methodical accuracy, scything down any Dark Eldar who managed to shoulder their lance-like weapon. Every shot found a mark, knocking the xenos off their feet and leaving sizable holes on their chest and face. The Dark Eldar finally gathered their wit and responded, but he was already amongst them, chopping and hacking with his Power Sword. A skilled sword master, Ragna cut down aliens left and right.

Range fires were absorbed by the Power Shield, but melee attacks were a real nuisance. Ragna immediately found himself surrounded by Wyches, female arena combatants of the Commorragh wielding combat knives and hideous-looking whips. Days of sunbathing finally paid off as Ragna activated his Solar Charge, creating an expanding nova of withering energy collected from a sun. A dozen xenos proximate to him were caught and thrown away as parched corpses, every water molecule in their body vaporized by radiation emitted from the arcane device. As the nova receded, the Dark Eldar renewed their assault with maddened glee.

A Hekatrix met Ragna head-on. She fought with greater alacrity, but his armor bore the brunt of the knife, and though sparks of energy were sent flying each time a blow connected, the Space Marine was unharmed. Ragna feinted his being in a disadvantage and tried not to retaliate, even though it was within his ability; he just did not feel like it was worth it. Swiveling in drug-induced ecstasy, the Hekatrix lurched forward, aiming the blade for the Space Marine's neck where the armor was the weakest. But in focusing on such one detail, she let her guard down. Ragna brought up his sword, catching the Hekatrix in midair before she could deliver the blow. Face split in twain, the alien fell to the ground.

An Incubus strode forward to meet him, his glaive-like weapon raised. Ragna blocked the incoming blow with his Power Sword and drove the blade forward for the counter strike. The alien leapt back. Two bolter rounds exploding within the cavity of his chest, the Incubus collapsed in a rapidly expanding pool of viscera.

Ragan took a brief glance at his rear. To his unspoken relief, the other Space Marines had arrived, eager to join the battle and start spilling xenos blood. Sergeant Victorius led the charge while two Battle Brothers sprinted forward with bolter and plasma rifle blazing. Markus stayed at the back, laying down a torrent of fire with his heavy bolter. A score of aliens fell where they stood. Two Venoms went down. A Raider was on fire. The Talos Pain Engine took a plasma ball to the head, blinded, screeching madly as its blasphemous technology experienced failure.

"For the Lion and for the Emperor!" the Company Master boomed. "Let's cleanse this alien filth from this land."

Instead of going after the Dracon, Ragna head straight for the Homunculus. His Power Sword aimed at the alien's shoulder was caught in midair by the Shadow Field and repulsed a second later. The Homunculus was halfway to grinning when he noticed the pile of sticky goo on his jacket. As his eyes fixated on it a little while, he saw the device attached to it.

"Nooo….!" the xenos began a scream he never had a chance finished. The detonation blew him to smithereens, showering Ragna with thick red blood. At the same time, the Grotesques who had been Tyranids once, now freed from their master's malign influence, went crazy. With scything talons and razor-sharp teeth, they fell upon the Dark Eldar, making short work of the warriors in flimsy armor. As though to repay Ragna for their freedom, they ignored the Dark Angels altogether, preferring to go after the denizens of Commorragh.

The tide was quickly turning in favor of the Emperor's angels of death. More than half of the Dark Eldar were slain, admittedly a huge portion coming from the Grotesque, the rest fleeing like cowards. In the turmoil, Ragna came face to face with the Dracon who held his beloved wife in his grip. Meliane yelped in pain as his hand tightened on her neck.

"Let her go," Ragna demanded. "And accept your fate like dishonorable xenos you are."

"As if," the Dracon replied with a panic-stricken voice. He was clearly pissing himself, to Ragna's pleasure. "One more step and say goodbye to her head. You dirty mon-keigh think you have won? Such pathetic race like you should know better to accept your rightful place, as our pets and puppets."

Wordlessly, Ragna activated his Solar Charge again. The energy left was not enough to evaporate anything, but the intense light momentarily blinded both Meliane and the Dracon. Capitalizing the distraction, Ragna rushed their position. Putting five years fencing championship into one blow, Ragna cleanly decapitated the xenos.

The battle was over. There was effectively no living Dark Eldar in the vicinity. No sign of any of the Grotesques could be seen. There was pride spoken on all the Space Marines, and a sense of disbelief as well, for no one had expected they would win against such odds. Their mission was to spy and scout on the foe, but for some odd, inexplicable reason, they had annihilated them before the main force could show up. Such feat was rare, if not non-existent.

Ragna approached his wife carefully and embraced her emaciated figure. He clung to her as passionately as possible without breaking her frail body. Despite the evident signs of violation and suffering, she was as beautiful as ever. "You are safe with me now, my love. The aliens won't harm you anymore. Emperor blesses you."

"I…am sorry," came the tiny response. Above the sweat and tears, blood and mud, there was a peculiar smell about the woman he was holding. With a shock of realization, Ragna threw her to the ground, his face reddening quickly.

The woman beneath him, rubbing her butt where she hit the ground, was not his wife. Ragna joined the Dark Angels half a century ago. During such relative short time, he had risen in the rank like an unstoppable rocket. His wife would be very old if still alive. The woman's features changed to blond hair and pale skin. Her eyes were a startling blue. Ragna did not need the pointy ears to come out to conclude she was a Craftworld Eldar. Having a Jetbike in their complementary arsenal, Ragna had got himself used to the distinctive smell of Wraithbone, and the woman reeked with that.

"You…tricked me," said Ragna accusingly. "By Johnson's mane, all of this has been an illusion all along. I cannot believe I just fell for that."

"Please listen to me," the Eldar pleaded. She was a psyker, a Farseer no less despite her youthful appearance. "I did what I must to survive. You have to understand me. If you had not come here, Isha knows what they were going to do to me. It's so much, I could not take it. Please, forgive my intrusion."

"That cannot happen," said Ragna sternly. "No forgiveness shall be offered to you, less I bring myself upon the path of damnation."

The Eldar woman was crying now, her pretty face covered in crystal-like tears. The Company Master bent down closer, his expression as cold as the winter night on Fenris. The Eldar wavered, trying to flee but her wounded feet failed to move. Her heart pounded madly and her breathing became disoriented. The woman cuddled herself and shut both eyes in terror. She was now at his mercy.

All her fear evaporated as Ragna embraced her warmly. "I must thank you instead," he explained softly. "If you had not intervene this victory would not have been possible. Emperor's left shoe, five men against a horde of Dark Eldar, that's the stuff of legend. The Chapter owes you for this. I owe you for this."

"So…you are not mad?" she asked incredulously, fingers and toes fidgeting.

"I am a Space Marine of the Emperor," Ragna laughed raucously. "Getting mad is something the Codex Astartes does not approve."

The woman let out a weak smile before passing out from fatigue. As he helped her to his hands, Ragna saw giant figures clad in yellow and deep blue emerging. A column of Wraithguards from Iyanden appeared, led by an Autarch and a Spiritseer. The Craftworld reinforcement had arrived. And they missed it all.

"Get off my wife, you Space Marine asshole," the Autarch shouted, his eyes green with envy. Ragna froze on the spot. As the Eldar felt things many times stronger than humans, he wondered what kind of jealousy they might possess.

"Look, this is all a misunderstanding," Ragna explained, laying down the Farseer gently. "I am sure we could get over this without any needless violence."

Gazing at the pitiful being that was his wife, the Autarch burst into outrage. "No violence is needless when it is directed at those who wish to harm your love ones. Now, you DIE!"

The Autarch carried the Aspect of the Warp Spider. In a blink of an eye, he was right in front of Ragna, poised to deliver a strike. The Company Master was too sluggish to respond. Brother Nara and Bade were betting how many teeth their Company Master would lose. Markus was no help either, drinking from a beer bottle. When the rest of the company arrived, Ragna would have Dylus reprimand them harshly.

But for now, he stood alone in this plight.

The Autarch threw a punch. There was no room to dodge this. The blow connected. With a loud BLAM, Sergeant Victorius was hurled back twenty feet, landing heavily on his back, his helmet cracked in by the immense impact (of the fist, not the fall). Any man less than a Space Marine would have lost his head entirely.

"At last!" he howled exuberantly. "My honor has been RECLAIMED!"