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A mission to the ringworld of Avatroid offered an opportunity for Tempestor Brellius to make amends for a previous sin. Fighting alongside the Aurora Chapter, the soldier hoped to find redemption in the eyes of his allies by proving his worth to the Imperium - even if this attempt should cost him his life.
When the 68th Deltic Lions were summoned to the small ringworld of Avatroid to support the Aurora Chapter, Tempestor Brellius was eager to prove his value to the Ordo Tempestus. In his previous mission he had failed to execute a kill-order in time, jeopardising the whole operation, and he now had a black mark to his name. He saw his opportunity when the Lions, who were known amongst the Ordo Tempestus for their immunity to some of the universe's most stubborn poxes, were ordered to Avatroid in the face of a huge incursion of plague-carrying Daemons. No more than a hundred miles in circumference, the ancient ringworld featured lush forests that bordered a narrow band of a hive city, which stretched around the entirety of the world. A small force of the Aurora Chapter had diverted from their mission to investigate a Warp rift which had opened there, but the daemonic surge from within had proved beyond even their ability to control. The Space Marines sent an astropathic request for aid, and a large contingent of the 68th Deltic Lions arrived swiftly. Their mission was simple: alongside the Aurora Chapter, they were to drive the daemonic forced back towards the rift, which lay in a quarantined sector of the city that would be destroyed from space. Imperial citizens - or soldiers - who showed symptoms of the plague were to be either killed outright or driven into that same quarantined section. The 68th Deltic Lions divided into two separate contingents for the operation, and each would link up with two of the Aurora Chapter's Tactical Squads on the surface. One spearhead was led by Tempestor Prime Justarch, and the other by Tempestor Brellius. Both divisions of Scions progressed by Taurox Prime in separate directions across the streets of the ringworld, heading towards the coordinates assigned to them by the Space Marines. Meanwhile a handful of PDF troopers were to redirect the remaining civilians; they would be assessed on a large scale by Commissar Valix and his retinue, who were stationed at various points within the hive city. Commissar Valix had been given the order to neutralise anyone who so much as coughed suspiciously. Eventually Tempestor Brellius' group of Scions established vox communications with the warriors of the Adeptus Astartes, after first identifying them by the sound of distant bolter fire. The Imperial forces then began a systematic purge, and drove the Daemons down the streets of the ringworld, pushing them into the quarantined zone.
+++Priority Crimson Data Burst - Astropathic Encode 5Y88+++
+++Supplicant: Inquisitor Kaladzir - Penumbral Conclave+++
+++Attendant: Tempestor Prime Justarch - 68th Deltic Lions - Militarum Tempestus+++
You are commanded to deploy to the Avatroid System under the provisions of the Combined Inquisitorial Indenture. From thence you are to render all aid to the honourable Adeptus Astartes detachment designation Aurora Chapter.
Upon the archeo-ringworld of Avatroid an enemy of Humanity has arisen and I have chosen you and your men, by the grace of the Ordo Tempestus and the blessing of the Astra Militarum, to vanquish this foe. You will grant all support within your power to this world, Tempestor Prime, and visit the furious anger and righteous might of your regiment upon the foe. Let none stay your hand nor any block your path.
I will be watching, and when your holy duty has been dispensed I will be there to wipe away the burden of your duty.
— Inquisitor Kaladzir, Ordo Malleus, Penumbral Conclave
As the Space Marines and Scions dealt with the shambling hordes street by street, a swarm of Plague Drones burst forth en masse from the forest. The Rot Flies and their Plaguebearer riders swarmed around the Space Marines, forcing the Aurora Chapter back. More Plaguebearers and Nurglings oozed from the nearby buildings to surround Brellius' Scions, isolating them further. Hot-shot las-fire exploded swollen stomachs and enormous pustules, but then a Great Unclean One lumbered out of the atrium of a hab-block and lurched towards Brellius, lashing out at his Scions as it came. The Tempestor's desperate shots had little effect other than angering the Daemon and, in response, it surged forward and heaved its enormous sword through the air, one of its great strikes clipping the Tempestor, throwing him from his feet and severing his breathing apparatus. The Great Unclean One leant over the fallen Tempestor, rank fluids spattering down from its maw, but the combined hot-shot fire of the remaining squads burned into it, tearing at its essence until with a grudging cry it retreated. Yet tiny organisms had wormed through Brellius' damaged mask, and he began to cough bubbling bile. One of the hitherto untouchable 68th Deltic Lions had succumbed to one of Nurgle's diseases. Brellius still had orders, and though his keen senses and battle skills were beginning to fade, he concealed his suffering from his fellow Tempestus troopers. He certainly did not show it to the Adeptus Astartes. As rampant disease began to take over his body, he pulled his respmask firmly over his face to hide his dribbling eyes.
The full forces of the Imperium united and both Space Marine and Scion continued to push back the plague victims and their daemonic infectors to the quarantined section of the ringworld. Now that the Daemons were clustered together, the Space Marines and Militarum Tempestus formed long lines of raging boltguns and hot-shot lasguns. Against this wall of devastating firepower, the Daemons collapsed or exploded, or simply retreated in the intended direction. Even the Great Unclean One could be seen heading away from the Imperial forces, a wave of Plaguebearers and Nurglings behind it. Finally, all of the city's infected were herded into the quarantined sector. Corridors were sealed off around them. Streets were made impassable by timed munitions, and the surrounding forest was burned, but it quickly transpired that there would still be a route by which the herded infected could attempt to flee; they could reach safe zones by clambering over each other's bodies to scale the ruined manufactorum at the western edge of the quarantine zone. Someone needed to stay at the perimeter to keep the infected throng in place. Whoever remained would surely die in the blast. Still concealing his bilious coughs and bleeding eyes, Tempestor Brellius volunteered himself. Armed with munitions and grenades, the Tempestor took up position in the ruin to the west. While the Imperium's warriors retreated to their support craft, Brellius lurched back and forth across the ruin, hurling grenades and pouring hot-shot gunfire into the Daemons and citizens who threatened to spill from the quarantine zone. A minute later the Space Marine Strike Cruiser fired its colossal lasers, and a whole sector of the ringworld became a raging inferno.
The ringworld had rotated a half-day since Brellius had deployed alongside the rest of his Scions, and now night had come to Avatroid. The cramped, narrow streets in this region were deserted, as the people had been evacuated and were now being evaluated for symptoms of the plague. Those with obvious signs of dribbling bile and bubbling skin had been driven into the quarantine sector by Tempestor Prime Justarch's squads, which just left Brellius and his Scions to deal with the Daemons.
Continually, for the past few hours, the disgusting monsters had come droning or lurching from the shadowed buildings around them. Under the glare of promethium lamps, their exposed innards and pus-filled pustules glistened. Each of the creatures had met with glowing ruby streaks of laser from the Scions' weaponry, and by now hundreds of Daemons had been purged.
As his squad suppressed another attack, something greater came into Brellius' view. In that moment, the Tempestor saw a chance to elevate himself in the eyes of his officers and redeem his record. The Daemon was horrific, an enormous hulking form that emerged into the streets surrounded by many more smaller creatures. Each one dripped with foul substances, drooling bubbling plague ichors across the ground. The massive Daemon itself was layered in rolls of bloated gut. It carried a blade as large as its own arm, and wielded it effortlessly, swinging it into the squads of disciplined Militarum Tempestus warriors with bumptious ease. With every swipe Scions died, but their comrades stood firm and fired. Brellius reckoned, given enough time, that he could take the thing down. This was his chance for salvation.
'Scions, fall right,' Brellius voxed, 'Take out the main target's plague troops. I'm going after it.'
The 68th Deltic Lions did not doubt his order. Even though they might have concerns about Brellius taking on the beast on his own, the Tempestor knew his Scions would not question him. But if he could bring down their vile foe, he could redeem his name with the Ordo Tempestus, and that was worth the risk.
The Scions peeled off, their hot-shot lasers flashing into the gloom of the streets. Rot Flies buckled from the air, their rancid riders slumping after them with a wet thud. Their fallen forms were scorched with lasgun fire to make sure they would prove no further trouble.
Brellius surged forward towards the huge Daemon. A great swing of its rusting, dripping blade came near Brellius' head, but he ducked and slid to one side, aiming his pistol up at the beast's arm. A shot exploded a pustule, sending dripping flesh scattering behind. Yet the monster did not flinch - it barely noticed the wound. Another swing of that sword and Brellius ducked to his left, cursing, rolling across the rubble. He analysed the method of the creature's attack and decided his best chance to make his strikes count was when the thing held up its sword.
Another roll, and he fired from his hip into the Daemon's gut, exploding rancid flesh and unleashing more dubious liquids, but the skin began to heal up before his eyes. The sword thundered down again, striking the street and spitting chunks of ferrocrete up into the air. There was the moment again, and Brellius ran towards the Daemon's flank. Hot-shot laspistol fire opened up a thicker wound - and this time he wrong-footed the beast so that he could get another blast into the same wound. Brellius ruptured something more serious and the beast let out a gurgled roar.
Across the clarion vox network Brellius received a report from the other Scions. 'Sir. Maintaining perimeter effectively. Shall we lend you fire support?'
With a roll to the right, Brellius ducked the arc of the blade. 'Negative. Look to your own position.'
In that instant the huge sword whirled out impossibly fast, and Brellius dived out of its path - but the edge clipped his breastplate and sliced into his respmask. The mask's pipe fell open, exposing him to the poisoned air around. The Daemon gave a gurgled laugh, and roared once again, this time showering the Tempestor in plague spittle as it leaned over him. Brellius tasted something foul mingling with the blood in his mouth, and began to feel a fever, but he pushed it to the back of his mind, trusting to his natural immunities.
As supporting hot-shot fire drove the Greater Daemon back, he staggered back to his feet. He lent his shots to the fusillade, but he realised he felt different now. His vision was blurred... slow. His movements... imprecise. He could feel a strange fluid building up within his throat and when he coughed he saw the red droplets. His slate monitron began to warn of blood failures and something haemorrhaging inside.
Brellius could imagine the disappointment in his commanders' faces yet again - their expressions stoic as they considered a demotion. Another black mark against his name at the very least. Such was the folly of straying from standard fire protocol.
Falling in line with the other Scions, Brellius searched his mind for another way to prove himself to his regiment...
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