Wednesday, 20 July 2011

World Eaters Short Story Series Pt. 8

Hi again, this time the final instalment in the short story series. This one features the War Hounds fighting alongside the Blood Angels, in another 'co-op' based story. It's interesting that the World Eaters predecessors, the War Hounds, seem to have quite a lot of interest from the fan community. I wonder if anyone has any ideas in terms of colour scheme or iconography? Or else even has an army that they have been working on? If you do, please leave a comment and I'll write a feature on them in some point in the future. Until then..

Of Hounds and Angels

By Matthew Roy

THE BLOOD ANGEL drank deeply as his fangs tore into the rebel’s throat. He hefted the ruined corpse and flung it down the slope, pressing onward with his warriors. They had holstered their bolters, preferring to advance against the dying enemy with their blades drawn…

HALF A KILOMETRE away at the base of the escarpment, Captain Sorik raced ahead of his World Eaters company brethren. The last of the rebels were dying upon his battle-brothers’ chainblades, and Sorik wanted to make sure that his sword drank deep of their heathen blood before the battle was done.
A clumsy and desperate man charged at him, blade drawn, and Sorik turned the awkward lunge aside with his chainsword. He brought his weapon around, aiming not at his enemy’s weapon, but at his gauntleted hands. His weapon shrieked as it tore through the ornamental hand guard and chewed the rebel’s fingers to shreds. The warrior let out a muffled cry, dropping his weapon. Another slash, and Sorik took the man’s head from his shoulders.
He felt his berserk rage cooling. He could smell rich blood through his helmet’s open respirator grille. He paused; no, it wasn’t through his respirator. He brought his hand to his face, realising that his helmet was missing. He frowned. He couldn’t remember taking it off. He turned around, backtracking through the scene of slaughter behind him as his warriors busied themselves with sawing heads from bodies and tying them to their belts. Sorik found his helmet some fifty metres back, half buried in a tangle of bloody limbs that had once been a man. Apparently he had used the helmet to beat the rebel to death.
He couldn’t remember doing it. He frowned again. He was losing time more and more often during battles.
On the slope above, he watched a company of red-armoured Astartes as they tore through the last of the defenders, dismembering the enemy soldiers at close quarters in a stunning display of violence.
‘Brother-Captain Cretac, of our cousins in the IX Legion,’ said Fanin, the company’s standard-bearer. Sorik turned to his subordinate. Fanin had also removed his helmet, and thick blood covered his face. It took Sorik a moment to realize the warrior had smeared most of it on himself. Fanin nodded back up toward the warriors on the slope. ‘They call his company the “Flesh Tearers”, sir.’
Sorik nodded in grim amusement at what the Blood Angels were capable of when they allowed the facades of culture and civilisation to fall away from them.
The vox-link in his helmet chirped as he put it back on. ‘All company commanders, this is the Eighth Captain. We will bring our fury against the heretic stronghold. The Tenth and Thirty-third companies will have the honour of leading the jump-assault, supported by the Blood Angels.’ This order came from Kharn, the primarch’s equerry. Sorik’s warriors bowed their heads reverently as the Eighth Captain spoke.
Of course they all wanted to be like Kharn.
One of the company’s Rhinos trundled up from the rear lines, and the Techmarines unloaded jump packs from the cargo frames inside. Sorik studied them as they worked. Early in his training with the legion, he had been earmarked to join the ranks of the armourium for his intelligence and aptitude. His leadership and combat prowess had been recognised however, and over time he had risen to command the 33rd Assault Company instead.

He glanced back up the slope. He had been forced to work with the Blood Angels during this mission. Their haughtiness grated on him, and he found their hypocrisy troubling; they fought with just as much savagery as the World Eaters, and yet the Blood Angels were beloved – even romanticized? – by the Imperium, while his own legion were reviled as barbarians.
Iterator Igram Severn had said the rebels on this planet would face the unbridled fury of the IX and XII Legions, and that both were known for their savagery in close combat. Sorik and the other World Eaters liked Severn; while he wasn’t Astartes, he was a veteran of the Imperial Army, his body more augmetic than true-flesh. Few iterators and remembrancers were assigned to the XII Legion’s fleets. They had a bad habit of disappearing, and the legion’s senior leadership had always remained quiet on the matter.
Up ahead, a war party came into view – a Blood Angels honour guard and a pack of World Eaters shadowed two massive figures. Sorik had seen six primarchs in his life, but was still awed by their presence. He had heard it said that each of the primarchs echoed an aspect of their father’s greatness. If that was the case, then Sanguinius and Angron were most likely the opposing aspects of His combat prowess. The former was a gilded poet in warrior’s garb; the latter was a true manifestation of fury, terrible and absolute.
Word was that Angron would be entering the city behind the advance guard. Oh, what grand violence he would doubtlessly unleash upon these rebels.

JUMP PACKS ROARED as his company launched into the air. Las-bolts and solid slugs flew past the warriors and pattered off their armour plate. Sorik crunched down onto the city wall, his sword ending the lives of two of its guardians in a flash.
What makes the Angels better than the Hounds? What makes them so beloved, and us so hated? Exalted in their hypocrisy, their sense of the aesthetic, their role as warrior poets. He dodged a point-blank lasgun blast and smashed a man’s skull with a quick backhand.
Cretac and the Flesh Tearers had landed a hundred meters to Sorik’s right. He watched the Blood Angel assault troopers revel in their slaughter of the wall guardians. Here at least, were men who embraced what they truly were. Instruments of death. Killers of men.

They say this is a godless galaxy. That is the truth our iterators speak to the populations we conquer and assimilate. But what if there are gods watching us, as these heathens believe? Could there even be a god that smiles upon what we do?
Some mythical god of war, perhaps?
Some sort of brazen blood-god?

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