Godfrey watched as his men dug firing positions in the rock hard dirt, its frozen surface fighting the guardsmen every inch. He smiled, he loved his men, and in return they served him as best they could. He'd joined them at 24, son of a noble house requisitioned by the Tallarn Desert Raiders. Despite serving for only ten years he was a hardened veteran, having visited many warzones, though this was the furthest he had been from home. No one had wanted this deployment, the Sentinel Worlds, so close to the Eye of Terror that whole armies went mad and turned on one another, soldier's dreams were haunted with their own deaths and all the while the forces of Chaos raided the penal colonies and mining platforms that made up humanities presence in the cluster of stars.

The cold bit hard at his bones and the wind burnt across his face. He pulled his shemagh close over his face. His hands were more like numb blocks as he slung his autogun over his shoulder and shoved them deep into his fur lined pockets. Even with all the benefits of wealth he was struggling to keep warm, he couldn't comprehend how his men survived with only the substandard issue of the Imperial Guard.

He wondered over towards his command tank. Converted from a chimera it was a jungle of data screens teeming restlessly with data. The rear doors closed slowly behind him, bathing the cabin in red fluorescence. The man before him was a young man, of a lesser noble house, he'd been drafted into the Desert Raiders for his 4 years of service, as a favor to a friend he had taken the man in as his radio operator, one of the relatively safe jobs within the company. The man visibly shivered even in the relative warmth of the chimera. He wasn't the best guardsmen, but he was competent with communications and able to repair many malfunctions on the temperamental command equipment, which as with all things in the Imperium, was less than guardsman proof.

Godfrey laid a hand gently on his shoulder, picking up a mug from the desk and taking a long slurp, savoring its warm contents. The strange liquid slid down his throat, not quite coffee, not quite tea, but somewhere in between. Three months ago he'd run out of his private stash of tea that he'd acquired on his last stint of leave, now he was consuming what could most accurately be described as mildly flavored hot water, and questionably be called coffee. None the less he enjoyed the brief warmth it brought to his chilled extremities.

"Ethanniel, have you received further communications from battle group HQ or our scout party?" He inquired with the signaler, studying the data now flashing before him.

"No sir, orders from there ceased about an hour ago, though could be the effects of the storm." He replied, looking nervously up at the major.

"Yes, it could be." He frowned as he tapped one of the screens. "Except that the vessels have stopped in orbit around this moon."

"What do you want us to do?" He questioned, looking for guidance from his leader. A man that the whole company trusted, he'd led them through some terrible places and out the other side, he'd do the same here.

"Broadcast on all VHF vox channels, try and reach any Imperial formations in our area, tell them to RV at Checkpoint Delta 42." He paused for a moment before picking up the inter vehicle comms, "Fox 10A, 20A, 30A, this is 0A, prepare to move to Checkpoint Delta 42 within 10 minutes, come to command vehicle for a quick brief, over."

"10A roger out." "20A roger out." "30A roger out."

He walked over to the map table which lit up in a blue glow. He watched the digital map move as he stroked his hand across the table. He touched a button and a holographic projection ascended from its surface revealing the true extent of his problems. High ground flanked his current position, and although it was a natural bottle neck, it offered little in the way of protection. He studied it carefully, considering his next move, if HQ was gone, he'd have to attempt to rally what was left of the battle group and return to the Inquisitorial Fortress housed 100 clicks from their location.

"Charlie, Charlie, One, this is Fox Zero, radio check over." The voice of Ethan came from the comms suite. Godfrey stopped, waiting for the reply, hoping someone was left. The radio crackled into life, a faint signal full of static, but a signal none the less.

"Fox Zero, this is Dog Zero Alpha, you're okay over."

Godfrey ran over to the comms desk, taking the microphone. Thank the Emperor there was still someone alive.

"Dog Zero Alpha, Fox Zero Alpha, you're broken, information as follows: No word from HQ, moving to Delta 42, Delta 42. Over"

"Roger that Godfrey, I've had no word either, I'm pulling my troops back to a more defendable position. Over."

"Okay, every 30 minutes make radio contact; if you hear nothing then retreat to the fortress, keep the men alive, over."

"Roger, stay safe. Out."

Godfrey sighed, passing the mic back to Ethan. He allowed a grin of confidence before returning to his map, feeling the burden of command more than ever before. The rear doors slowly lowered, bright light shot into the compartment along with the icy wind. He squinted as the three officers entered the cramped space. All were in their early twenties, wore youthful exuberance as if it were issued. Their thick coats tight to their body, topped with body armor, more for warmth than protection, swords dangling loosely from their belts, their signature of command.

"Gents, this is going to be quick." he said as they approached. He removed his peaked cap revealing a tangle of blonde hair that accented his prematurely aged face. He waited for the nods from his commanders before continuing. "Situation, we've had no contact with HQ, who are approximately 8 miles south of this location. The scout unit we sent half an hour ago never returned. Telemetry suggests that cruisers have descended into orbit above this moon."

He pointed to a location on the map.

"We're currently here, as you can see we are in a terrible defensive position, and although our orders are to stay in position, if HQ has been destroyed then I have to take command. As such I am pulling to Delta 42. It is the pass that leads to the Inquisitorial Fortress and the only land route North within our operating area. Any enemy forces deployed by the cruisers will have to land south of here or risk the terrain further north."

He enlarged the image of checkpoint 42, allowing the subalterns to study the map briefly before continuing.

"The southern face of the mountains on the left flack are accessible to tracked vehicles, I want a 1 platoon to deploy there with the majority of our mobile artillery." He looked expectantly at one of the lieutenants.

"Roger sir." He replied after taking a moment to let the information sink in.

"2 and 3 platoon you will deploy in the pass, leaving a heavy weapons unit and squad each to guard the rear. The defenses should already have a small contingent of guardsmen on it, but they'll be glad of our support."

"Yes sir." They replied in unison. The two lieutenants had been together since the Officer Training Academy and unfortunately for them had been sent on their first deployment to this Emperor forsaken place. Few people every saw the Great Storm up close, even fewer lived to tell the tale, fewer still were willing to speak of the experience.

"Delta 42 is three hours away. 1 platoon you will be lead element, spread your chimeras into extended line our main battle tanks protecting the flanks. 2 platoon in the centre with our artillery. 3 platoon take the rear, take a squad of battle tanks and place them at the centre rear of the formation. Keep tight and make sure your men rest as much as they can on the journey."

"Yes sir." came the chorus of replies as the lieutenants rushed off to their men. Godfrey sat back into his chair as the rear door slowly closed. feeling its warm brown leather. He relaxed as the engine rumbled into life. He could hear the call of sergeants and drone of an armoured company preparing for battle. The iron fist of the Imperial Guard. He spun around to a bank of screens, each one linked to a camera on the vehicle's hull. The vehicle jerked brutally as it set off across the fields of snow and ice behind 1st platoon.

Even after all this time he still felt a twinge of excitement about the battle that was almost certain to come. He was a soldier at heart, more at home in the carnage of war than in the warmth of peace, here at least he knew his job, what people expected of him and what he could expect of the men beneath him. It had been years since he'd been back to Tallarn, little remained there for him there, he spent his leave traveling the galaxy with friends he had met, various captains in the Navy and officers in the Guard often offered him sanctuary within their commands.

Visibility was appalling, he could barely make out the flank of the formation through the sleet that was now shooting past the chimera. Even the almighty sound of an armoured column was drowned by the whistle of gusting winds, blustering across the endless expanse that lead towards Delta 42. He turned away from the depressing sight of white that now filled the view screens, watching their lumbering progress on the holomap.

"All is going as you predicted Lord Commander." The shrieking voice of a cultist, his skin filled with tattoos and scars in the shape of runes and symbols, each one seemed unnatural, each more twisted than the last. The man was in terrible pain, his whole being suffered, his soul screamed as if it was being torn from his physical body. He bowed before a huge cloaked figure, the once white fabric now torn and frayed by warfare, stained with blood and mud.

The cultist backed away as the space marine turned towards him revealing an almost beautiful face below his hood, the unholy gift of agelessness was one of the many benefits chaos had seen fit to bestow upon him. He enjoyed the deceptive nature of his features, using it to great advantage, as he would with his current endeavor. The marine nodded in acknowledgement, looking down as the holographic map updated itself with the current locations of troops on the surface.

The Imperial forces had fallen back after their command was destroyed, taking position in the few passes that surrounded the Inquisitorial stronghold. They were unlikely to have sent out an effective distress signal due to bother the warp storm and the snow storm, hell they probably weren't even aware they were under attack.

He had a small strike force stationed to the south in pursuit of an Imperial armored company, they wouldn't be able to effectively destroy the column without the element of surprise that they had used against the HQ elements, but they would be able to fix them in place, and that was all that was required.

He turned to another space marine who stood in the shadows. "Prepare the thunderhawks and drop pods, get the men ready" He ordered, smiling as he prepared to unleash his forces upon the unwitting defenders. Long had this plan being in the making, waiting for the right moment, the Emperor worshipers were so predictable, so flawed. He would take pleasure in doing his masters bidding.

"Commander Kelevra." The marine bowed his head and marched off towards the hangers, his cloak flowing behind him, brushing gracefully across the plasteel floor. For a ton of ceramite his footsteps were quiet, without his armor he was more like a shadow than a man, with it he was a fearsome warrior, as fast as any Kelev had ever seen. He was his loyal friend, and more importantly, a trusted bodyguard, a constant reminder that there was no honor amongst traitors.

He began the short walk to the hangers. footsteps thumping down the corridor. He could hear the daemons and cultists that toiled within the vessel cheering as they felt the blood of the enemy shed. This would only be a cut, another pinprick in the enormity of the Imperium, but wars were not won in great battles, they were won well before that. The deep bowels of the ship echoed with the grinding of decrepit gears and the raging of colossal furnaces, eternally fed by a host of unsightly beings, tortured by the tendrils of the warp.

Following him trundled two minions, small creatures of blue flame, never quite physical but never quite dematerializing. They were a strange but hypnotic sight to behold; strange licks of fire jumped and darted between them in unholy harmony. Yet another reward for services to the dark gods. One held aloft a relic of battle, a glittering blade of unholy power, as old as Kelevra himself, it coursed with ferocity unmatched by any mortal blade. Its pearlescent shine glittered blue and purple, slivers of red darting across the blade as if some serpent explored its metallic prison. The other a winged helmet, an artifact of some lowly loyalist chapter, glittering red lens majestically sprung from its its dark green surface, perfectly shaped with an elegance impossible by all but the most skilled artificers,

The furious whir of engines reverberated through the hanger as he entered. His small raiding force were already embarking, the buzz of battle was almost deafening. Watching his ceramite soldiers ascend their steeds, each a veteran of a thousand wars, he walked purposely towards them. Throughout the galaxy they were feared as the angels of death, the vanguard of destruction.

The thunderhawks were huge aircraft, angled and bristling with weapons, but deceptively maneuverable, just like a space marine. They were the ultimate in orbital landers, the pinnacle of blitzkrieg warfare. Their enormous battle cannons tore holes in enemy formations and their other weapon systems matched those of any battle tank, allowing its deadly cargo to fall upon the enemy before they could react.

The one before him was magnificently decorated; its hull covered in decals of feathers, the wings seemed as if they were of some massive sky predator. Its hull was scorched and blackened in places, riddled with anti-aircraft fire, but still it was an amazing construction, few would not be awestruck by its daunting exterior. It looked distinctly out of place in the ancient interior of a grand cruiser, the tortured form repaired and re-repaired after countless engagements. Rusted and aged it was merely a shadow of its former glory, aesthetics were pointless to its masters, only function mattered in the swirling currents of the Great Eye.

Kelevra turned, removing the sword and helmet from his lackeys. They scurried away, staining the darkness blue as they did so, their strange forms tussling with one another to get in front. Kelevra climbed into the dark compartment, his eyes adjusting quickly, two rows of armored warriors sat obediently for his command.

"For the Emperor!" He laughed gleefully before fixing on his helmet.

AN: Hey guys! Hope you enjoy this story I put together so far, review and stuff. Adding another chapter tonight for y'all.