Review – Nagash: The Undying King

As mentioned in my last post, I was at the Triumph & Treachery event at Games Workshop HQ in Nottingham this weekend, and I had the opportunity to pick up some of the items exclusive to Warhammer World.

I have already reviewed the Blood Bowl duo, Grak and Crumbleberry, so now I can move onto this bad boy:


A Warhammer World exclusive novel for Age of Sigmar, written by Josh Reynolds and entitled Nagash: The Undying King.

It has been done in a run of 1,000 (I grabbed number 67), and comes in an embossed rubbery/plastic cover with blue foil stamping and blue-edged pages.

Before we get onto content, we have to deal with the two elephants in the room.

First off, this is a £40 book. Which is quite a lot of a (not-oversized) novel. Second, the line of novels is one of the primary ways GW has been revealing background information on their new Age of Sigmar universe, and making one of them only available to people who actually travel to Nottingham… that is going to grate on some players, I just know it.

Still, I am fortunate enough to be able to go, so I will review it as such.

Obviously, Spoiler Alerts by the bucket load…

Written by Josh Reynolds means you will generally be in for a good read if you are into Age of Sigmar, and the book opens up in Shyish (the Realm of Death), where a barbarian tribe is being attacked by Rotbringers, and not doing so well in the exchange. The barbarians are followers of Nagash, and they are wondering just what they have done to annoy him, as he does not seem to be coming to their aid. Their army is a mix of mortal barbarians, bolstered by ancestors that they raise from the dead, so plenty of Skeleton Warriors are on hand to fight the Nurgle invaders.

Things do not go so well, and as the rearguard prepare to sell their lives so their civilians can escape, Neferata turns up (always a plus in an Age of Sigmar novel!) and gives the Rotbringers a good kicking. When asked if Nagash sent her, she is very dismissive of his whereabouts.

It is in the second chapter that the novel is placed in the Age of Sigmar timeline – during the Realmgate Wars, when Nagash has yet to fully awaken. Josh Reynolds does a nice job of linking this novel to previous stories, with an appearance by Mannfred at Helstone, and references to the Lady of Cankerwall – it is a nice touch that begins to pull Age of Sigmar into a more cohesive whole.

From here, the novel follows two (maybe two and a half) points of view; the Rotbringers of the Order of the Fly, who have been set the task of conquering this rather cold area of Shyish and do not entirely agree with the daemonic Herald allied to them, and the mortal Nagash-faithful of the Rictus Clans. The half a point of view would go to Neferata who, as always, has her own agenda despite being bound to the will of Nagash.

The Rotbringers/Knights of the Order of the Fly are humanised nicely in this story and, if you could forget about their open sores, maggoty skin, and the very real chance of coming down with something terminal just by standing close to them, you could probably get on quite nicely with them. Far from your usual Baddie of the Book, they remain true knights despite their allegiance, and have a very strong code of honour which is one of the things that brings them into conflict with the Herald of Nurgle who accompanies them. The Rotbringers genuinely think they are doing the people of Shyish a favour by freeing them from the clutches of Death, and that they bring the freedom of life with them. Ultimately, this is a battle of life versus death, not good versus evil by any measure.

On the flip side, the people of the Rictus clans are indeed worshippers of Nagash, are necromancers by definition (they use their dead ancestors in battle), and are allied to Neferata – but they are portrayed as the good guys for all that, fighting to protect their homes, their people, and way of life (and death).

In short, both sides are characterised nicely, and you might have an issue picking which one to root for!

The timeline for this story is set before any others featuring Nagash (did this novel not meet the release schedule, and so was sidelined into a Warhammer World exclusive release, we wonders?), as he is still somewhat shattered after his confrontation with Archaon and has not quite woken up yet. Throughout the story, you see Nagash’s mind wandering, even as he talks to his servants, and there is a general feeling among the mortals that Nagash is actually dead – though, as Arkhan points out to them early on in the story, death has never stopped Nagash before.

The big question for devotees of the Mortal Realms is, of course, whether there are any major reveals in this book. The answer? Probably not. We have seen Nagash awakened in other Black Library novels, and it is perhaps likely that he will be a feature in the next round of campaign books.

However, the daemon is ever in the details, and perhaps a throwaway line might turn into something of greater import later on. One that caught my eye was a reference to ‘the Mortarchs and other Deathlords’.

Other Deathlords?

As things stand, the Deathlords faction of the Death Grand Alliance comprise Nagash and the three Mortarchs. We already know other Mortarchs exist (or have existed – Krell is the obvious example, though there have been others mentioned, and this novel reiterates that there are nine of them), but other Deathlords? Deathlords who are not Mortarchs? One of the characters in this story becomes one, and maybe it is a little sideways reference to something we will see later…

Also… mounted Blightkings seem to be a thing.

Overall, I would give this story a solid thumbs up, for the balanced characterisation of both Rotbringers and Nagash-worshippers, if nothing else (actually, I have just decided – I was rooting for the Rotbringers in this).  Is it worth £40 and a trip to Nottingham? Well, that is a lot tougher. Unless you are an absolute die-hard for Age of Sigmar fiction (I am), then… probably not. It is a good read, and I would recommend it, but you are probably going to be in the UK and a real Age of Sigmar nut to take me up on that recommendation.


Monglor Ogryn Auxilia

‘Krang, there is no problem.’

Captain Traquel eyed the huge muscle-bound Ogryns surrounding his small squad with no little apprehension.  Though his men were well armed, the sheer size of his would be charges always made him a little nervous and this was not aided in any way by the extremely poor reception he had been welcomed with.  He cursed the Pyran Dragoons.  Nominally, it was their duty to recruit the Monglor Auxilia, but they rarely dirtied their hands, preferring others to do the work for them.  So it came down to him.  Really, an officer of the Noctan Strike Forces had better things to do.‘Haven’t we been good to you in the past?  We have fed you when your herding was poor.  We have given you battle.  Isn’t that what you want?’

The massive hulk that formed Krang, the chieftain of the Dead Axe tribe shifted its weight as the Ogryn fingered the gigantic club that was nearly as long as Traquel.  The Captain did not like this.  Something was wrong.

‘We dun good for you days back,’ Krang barked, with noticeable venom.

Days back.  It had been over four years ago since Traquel had last recruited any of the Auxilia.  Did the Colonel hate him that much to repeatedly send him to Monglor?

‘We get heavy for da big guy on urf.  We like that.’  Traquel frowned slightly as he tried to follow the Ogryn leader’s slow guttural tone.  ‘But you not kind to us now.  We like Monglor.  You take us far away, to bad place.’

The mood of the two dozen or more Ogryns was palpable and their imposing presence squeezed something tight in the pit of Traquel’s stomach.  He had often pitied the officers sent to recruit the violent brutes on Krourk and whilst he knew his mission here was really a second rate duty, he believed he could be far worse off.  For nearly eleven years he had been assigned to draw forces from Monglor and Traquel always thought he had grown a certain kinship with the powerful abhumans.  But he had never seen them like this before.  There was trouble here.  Had someone else been speaking to the tribes?  Who?

‘Krang. . .  I know nothing of this.  I am only here because your Emperor needs you.  He likes you.  He knows you fight well.’  Traquel’s voice broke slightly as he saw the angered Ogryns shuffle forward.  He cleared his throat and forced himself to speak in the most simple of terms.  Nothing else would penetrate the dull intellect of these monsters.

‘You want to fight.  That is all we want.  We will not move you.  This world is yours.’

‘You lie!’ roared Krang.  ‘You take Monglor from us!  You take us all to bad place.’

The deep bass rumbling of the other Ogryns muttering their assent of the Chieftain’s words drove vibrations straight through Traquel’s body.  He noticed his own men surreptitiously readying their weapons as the Ogryns, towering over them all, moved closer still.  One brute swiped the air with a huge metal axe.  A Guardsman raised his Lasgun.  Traquel saw what would happen next.

‘No. . .’

He caught a sidelong glimpse of Krang’s massive club whistling through the air before it crushed his skull to a pulp.

Matters Most Quiet

+++ Date:  2113000/M41
+++ Ref:  Dar/58734496/EKHT
+++ By:  Grand Master of Librarians Ezekiel, The Rock
+++ To:  Master Belial, 3rd Company, Battle Barge Constance
+++ Re:  Conflict Curcius
+++ Thought:  So we were the first, so shall we be the last


Master Belial,

By now you will be aware of your orders received from Primus Inquisitor Flaxis to engage the Chaos renegades of Warmaster Curcius currently besieging the feudal world of Romana Agria.  I am hereby countermanding those orders by the authority of the Inner Circle.  Intelligence has reached me of the presence of those long lost to us and immediate action is required.

I am aware that the Astartes Chapter Valiants has already been all but destroyed during this conflict and your new orders concern them directly.

As you will have been briefed, the renegade’s lightning strike upon their previous target, the Tyber system, bypassed the entire blockading fleet of Battlegroup Libertus and caught the Valiants completely unprepared as they began deployment for battle upon the planet’s surface.  The latest communication from the beleaguered Planetary Defence Force upon Tyber is that the Valiants Chapter has been annihilated.

Warmaster Curcius has been sighted on Tyber, enjoying his virtual, though brief, domination of this world whilst the main portion of his fleet engages in the Siege of Romana.  My Librarians have traced the known history of this Curcius and uncovered possible evidence of his collaboration with a number of those who no longer follow our divinely led path.  It is imperative that you launch an immediate attack upon Tyber with the intention of capturing the Warmaster for deliverance to our Interrogator-Chaplains.  Time is of the essence for we have no intelligence as to the length of time Curcius intends to stay planetside.

There is, however, a complication.  The Valiants still have a demi-company residing on their neighbouring homeworld of Chivarel, recovering from a previous campaign.  They have successfully petitioned the High Lords of Terra directly to make a journey to Tyber with the intention of engaging the Chaos forces still present and recovering their lost Chapter banner.  Presumably, this is in an effort to regain honour and maintain the integrity of their Chapter, thus gaining permission to rebuild their brotherhood from supplemental Geneseed.

You will understand that we cannot allow the remaining Valiants to gain access to Warmaster Curcius and what he knows under any circumstances.  They are currently en route to Tyber aboard their single remaining Strike Cruiser, the Righteous Honour.  We do not believe any strike craft are present.

Your new orders are two fold.  First, locate and engage the Valiants.  Whether this is in space or planet bound is unimportant, though I hardly need mention that if you can intercept the Righteous Honour in the outer reaches of the Tyber system, the Valiant’s ship will be no match for the Constance.  What is of vital importance is the complete eradication of their Chapter.  If but one Marine is permitted to survive, we run the risk of losing Warmaster Curcius to forces that have no right to his person or his knowledge.  Our most closely guarded secrets could be exposed outside of the Inner Circle, to those who may not understand the nature of our honourable actions.

Upon completion of this stage, you are to take full command of the 3rd and 4th companies, along with the elements of the Deathwing on board the Constance, engage the renegades on Tyber and take Warmaster Curcius alive.  Upon his capture, bring the prisoner directly here to the Rock, where Interrogator-Chaplain Asmodai awaits his arrival.  You are to ignore any further requests for assistance from Primus Inquisitor Flaxis, or any other agent of the Imperium, from this moment forward.  Your prime duty is to our noble Chapter.

You are required to issue this communiqué to all members of the Deathwing and Inner Circle currently on board the Constance, but no other Marine is to know of our intentions on Tyber.  Simply inform our brothers that the Warmaster holds information vital to the defence of the Imperium and that the Valiants have recently been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by Terra.  Any citizen of Tyber witnessing our actions is to be permanently silenced as per standing orders.

I await the perfect execution of these orders and the completion of this stage of our most sacred mission.  You are Dark Angel.  Nothing else is of any consequence.


Grand Master of Librarians Ezekiel, Keeper of the Book of Salvation

A Secret Report From Within the Priesthood

+++ Date:  3928000/M37
+++ Ref:  Ter/77124198/AGLF
+++ By:  Under Scribe Escarriotte
+++ Re:  Esperatian Uprising
+++ Thought:  The steps of Mankind define His Will.


My Lords,

As you are aware, the information you requested pertaining to the Esperatian Uprising of M32 is, at best, fragmented.  However, for the past three years your loyal scribe has worked with unswerving diligence in researching the event and I believe I can now put together a reasonable summation of the facts.

Preacher Sammiel was known to the Ecclesiarchy before the uprising, most notably for his dedication in raising militia to defend against an alien raid, probably of Eldar origin (Ref: Esp/18948914/TJBS).  It seems that it was this force of Lay Followers that proved to be the pivotal point in the action as our forces were able to wear the raiders down in a battle of attrition.

What immediately followed the raid is less than clear, but it seems several of the militia failed to restrain the less pious side of their natures after the fighting had ceased and engaged in wanton acts of destruction.  In accordance with our laws, they were duly sentenced and executed.

We do know that Preacher Sammiel was the man who, rather belatedly, brought these men to the attention of the Adeptus Arbites but it is apparent that many in the population were angered at the judgement of these deviants who they mistakenly saw as heroes of the war they had lived through.  Rioting followed in several major cities that was put down in a most efficient manner by the Arbites.  I have located records of commendation for many Proctors who distinguished themselves in these riots by leading lone squads against the huge mobs (Ref: ESP/22741901/PEM).

For reasons unknown, Preacher Sammiel opposed the rightful suppression of this rebellious activity.  I can truthfully say that it was at this point that he broke faith in the divine Emperor, but I confess that I am at a loss to explain why.


‘Corruption, immorality, Chaos.  For millennia, nothing has changed.’

Attrib. Preacher Sammiel


Preacher Sammiel is then recorded as having engaged in a series of questionable activities.  Using his not inconsiderable powers of oration, almost the entire populace was cited to rebellion and anarchy against the lawful rule of the Imperium.  Illegal demonstrations erupted into riots and running battles with the Arbites across the entire planet as Preacher Sammiel moved from city to city, building up a cult following that was set to topple Imperial Governor Fallas.  I have been unable to uncover any documentation as to why Fallas allowed this state of affairs to continue for so long.  What is apparent is that the uprising swept aside the Arbites in a matter of days, aided by traitors highly placed within the Planetary Defence Force that gave many citizens access to sophisticated weaponry.  There are no references to in-fighting within the Planetary Defence Force itself, though I cannot imagine that even a man so twisted as Preacher Sammiel could have swayed so many once loyal men.  We have to presume that surprise was on the side of the rebellious and those true to the Emperor had little opportunity to act in true faith.


‘We know who speaks for the Imperium.  But who speaks for Mankind?  Who speaks for us?’

Attrib. Preacher Sammiel


With the Arbites effectively neutralised, the mobs descended upon the Governor’s palace.  With a large portion of the Planetary Defence Force behind them, the Governor’s own guards were annihilated and Fallas himself captured and publicly executed in plain sight of the raving people.  This done, Preacher Sammiel declared himself ruler of Esperatia.

I have recovered one document describing Preacher Sammiel’s rejection of the execution and an apparent reluctance to accept the Governorship.  However, in light of his previous actions and his obvious hunger for power, not to mention that this document was related by one of his closest advisors, I believe we can safely discount such theories.

Due to the inherent vagaries of Warp travel, we were unable to react to the rebellion for nearly six years but finally an expedition was mounted to retake Esperatia.  The 37th Daktarrian regiment, along with a full company of the Angels Vermilion, were dispatched to destroy the traitors’ hold of the planet and restore the rightful ownership to the Imperium.


‘We must resist this oppression with all our strength lest Mankind face another ten thousand years of enslavement to itself.’

Attrib. Preacher Sammiel


Upon landing on the planet, both Marine and Guard met with disorganised but heavy resistance as the populace quickly turned against them.  The Emperor’s Peace was generously given to each malcontent that took up arms against the liberators.

Preacher Sammiel seems to have attempted a muster of a more organised army and as the Imperial forces closed in on his position of power within the capitol, our casualties increased.  In a sustained battle with the rebels, the Angels Vermilion managed to smash through all defences and succeeded in capturing Preacher Sammiel within the Governor’s own palace, now a haven for the lowliest heathens of this world.

With the following execution of Preacher Sammiel, much of the resistance of the populace ceased, but Captain Tarvos of the Angels Vermilion judged the people of Esperatia to be irretrievably corrupt and justifiably ordered a permanent suppression of all suspected rebel activity.


‘For thousands of years Mankind has impoverished itself in the pursuit of war.  I am just one man in search of a better way.’

Attrib. Preacher Sammiel


Being required elsewhere, the Angels Vermilion departed (Ref: Ter/94219957/MEH) and it was left to the 37th Daktarrian to enforce Tarvos’ edict.  It took the regiment nearly two years to succeed in their righteous eradication of the population and on completion they were duly awarded the right to settle on the world, with Colonel Barria being granted the Governorship.  It took a further seven centuries for Esperatia to achieve its past level of tithes, but the entire action does lend considerable weight to this method of suppressing rebellious systems.

I remain your humble servant,


Under Scribe Escarriotte

A Tale of Felix & Gotrek

Something I penned a little while ago…



A wickedly barbed arrow hissed through the air as it ripped straight through Felix’s faded red cloak. Cursing out loud, he ducked another missile shot by the Goblin bowman just a few yards down the dark corridor.  He glanced over to his companion and saw that the bright red-crested Trollslayer was in the thick of combat, his huge axe rising and falling amongst the horde of greenskins that threatened to overwhelm them both.  An arrow had dug its way into Gotrek’s right arm and though blood flowed freely from the wound, the powerfully built Dwarf seemed not to notice.  His axe never slowed as Goblins fell to the floor screaming, clutching stumps of limbs or trying to hold various parts of their bodies together.  Behind the two adventure seekers, the wet flagstones of the corridor were littered with Goblin dead and dying as they pushed forward, intent on reaching the heart of the Goblin’s stronghold, now just a hundred yards ahead, Felix was sure.

A wild-eyed Goblin, taunting Felix in its guttural language, stabbed forward with its crude and rusting scimitar.  The runes on Felix’s sword glowed brightly as he felt his sword snake forward almost under its own will to casually nudge the scimitar safely to one side, before Felix gathered his strength and leaned forward on the blade, pushing his weapon into the heart of the Goblin warrior.  Another arrow aimed at him caused him to flinch as it shot past his ear.  He felt the force of air of the arrow and he fixed his stare on the Goblin armed with the bow.   It was laughing maniacally at him.  Felix had been through too many scrapes with death and disaster to end up spitted on a badly made greenskin arrow.  Hefting his sword he swung it in a wide arc that felled another Goblin as he started his march to the bowman.

Gotrek was enjoying himself.  Bleeding from a dozen small wounds and sword cuts, he never slowed in his steady advance along the corridor.  This was no challenge for someone seeking a glorious death, but surely somewhere in the Goblin stronghold he would find a worthy foe.  Live or die, Gotrek would be remembered for his purging of the greenskins today.  He barked a short laugh as another Goblin stepped in front of him, nervously holding out a club and preparing to strike.  Gotrek flexed his great muscles and swung his axe down, cleaving the trembling Goblin almost in two.  Taking another step forward he prepared for his next victim, not noticing as his foot fell in a growing puddle of noisome Goblin blood, congealing from his many victories in this fight.  He gave a cry, not of fear but annoyance as he fell heavily on the floor.  Almost immediately the Goblins were upon him.  From somewhere far off he heard the manling cry out his name before he felt innumerable stabs from Goblin knives and swords.  He axe was torn from his mighty grasp as he tried to throttle his nearest assailant, but the sheer weight of all the Goblins pressing around him bore him down.

‘No!’  Gotrek shouted the word, deafening the nearest Goblin whose face was being pressed on top of the Dwarf’s by the weight of its foul behind it, all eager for their part in the kill.  By Grungni, all the Ancestors and the foundations of Karak-Kadrin, I will not die here, Gotrek thought.  This was not a glorious death, this was ignominy, brought about by the blind forces of chance.  There was no way he was going to die here, not if he had anything to say about it.

The Trollslayer gathered his energies and focussed on his muscles, ignoring his protesting wounds as he first arched his back and then forced himself up on to his knees.  His left hand shot forward and grabbed a Goblin’s neck.  After a quick twist, the Goblin fell lifeless to the floor. Inch by inch, Gotrek fought off the massed press of Goblins as he raised himself to his feet.  With a huge bellow that shocked the greenskins into a split section of inaction, Gotrek concentrated all his anger, all his pain into just one thing.  The death of his enemies. The need to kill.

The smarter Goblins turned and started to flee when they saw the pure blood lust in the Dwarf’s crazed eyes.  The braver or slower-witted ones recovered from their shock and readied their weapons to fight the unarmed Dwarf.  One gave a cry and charged forward with his spear, but Gotrek grabbed the shaft as it was thrust forward and pulled.  The Goblin, already unbalanced by his momentum, rocketed forward until it was stopped dead by the Dwarf’s fist.  Even over the sounds of combat, everyone in the corridor heard the crunch of bones as the Goblin’s skull was shattered by the hammer-blow.  A sword dug deep into Gotrek’s arm but under the influence of his battle rage, the Dwarf barely noticed the wound as he sprung upon the Goblin and pounded his huge piston-like fists into the unfortunate greenskin’s head, chest and body.  The other Goblins gave each other uncertain glances, then began to back away from the enraged Trollslayer, chattering hurriedly amongst themselves.  Gotrek neither knew nor cared what they were saying as he rushed forward again to seize another Goblin with his bare hands.

Felix was limping now as he approached the bowman.  An unseen Goblin spear had cut a deep furrow in his thigh and though the owner of the weapon had fallen beneath Felix’s rune-covered blade, he was in some not inconsiderable pain.  He took consolation that Gotrek was now back into the fight, as he had been sure he would fall next when he saw the Dwarf disappear under a veritable mountain of greenskins.  He should have known better, he thought ruefully.  He and Gotrek had been through too much in their chequered pasts to die in a place like this.  It would be within the heart of this stronghold where their fates would be decided, one way or the other.

The Goblin readied his bow once more, but Felix was very close now and the Goblin could do little more than stare at the runes on the human’s blade that glowed with a mighty sorcerous energy.  He fumbled with his weapon and the arrow he was preparing to skewer Felix with dropped from trembling fingers to clatter on the flagstones at its feet.  With a final look into Felix’s angry eyes, the Goblin turned and fled back down the corridor.  Felix snarled as he started to give chase and immediately wished he had not tried to run as pain shot up from his thigh.  With a glance over to his companion, he saw that Gotrek had driven off his own enemies and was now pounding a Goblin senseless into the floor with his hands.  Limping over, Felix picked up Gotrek’s axe from under a Goblin body.  As soon as the Trollslayer had worked off this bout of battle rage, they would be ready to continue.  Continue to the heart of the stronghold and the prisoner they sought.

Brothers to the Bone

Story time!

This is a little fiction piece I penned for 40k a few years ago, but never got round to properly developing. It features a proud and noble chapter… and one whose marines are barely literate…



Wolf Priest Vogel cried in triumph as he swung his Crozius down hard onto the sloping skull of the ork, crushing it utterly as the ancient weapon released its full power in a brilliance of blue sparks.  Another frothing and bellowing ork rushed the Wolf Priest, swinging a wicked rusting axe at his head.  Vogel ducked under the blow, allowing the blade to skid harmlessly off his gilded shoulder pad.  Though it was a glancing blow, the great force of the ork’s bulging muscles nearly knocked him off balance.  Steadying his feet, he reversed the direction of his Crozius and smashed his weapon into the foul ork’s plate armoured chest, dropping the monster instantly.  Looking up from his dead enemies, he saw the ork mob he had rushed was beginning to pull back, hurling insults in their guttural language at both himself and the Blood Claws who had followed his attack.  Several shells fired from the crude pistols the orks carried sang as they flew past him with a high pitched whine.  Bringing up his own ornate plasma pistol, Vogel let loose two bright energy bolts, dropping a third ork as the Blood Claws swept past him to pursue the mob as it retreated.  The Wolf Priest checked himself from following and looked back to witness how the rest of the battle was progressing.

By Russ, they had done well!  Through the rolling black smoke of the battlefield and amid the deafening explosions of heavy weapons, he saw the orks were beginning to falter all along the line as his Space Wolves smashed into their mobs.  Their whole assault stood on the edge of failure.  Everywhere, Vogel watched Grey Hunters and Blood Claws engage in fierce hand to hand struggles but it was clear the Space Wolves had the upper hand as mob after mob turned and ran.  Looking further back along the Marines’ defences, he smiled as his eyes travelled to the long ridge that the orks had intended to breach.  Across the entire rise, the squads, tanks and guns of the Dark Angels stood, raining a constant hail of fire down onto the retreating orks.  Wolf Priest Vogel gave a short bark of a laugh – even the Dark Angels had done well today!  They had started this battle by hurling long ranged shells and missiles into the approaching ork horde as the Wolves lay in wait within the gully beneath the ridge, ready to deliver their devastating counterattack.  Now the Dark Angels ended the conflict by making sure the orks did not have a chance to regroup after their flight from the battle hungry Space Wolves.  But Vogel knew where the glory lay in today’s action. . .


* * *


‘Fire!’ roared the black-armoured figure as he pointed his Crozius Arcanum at the lone ork mob scrambling to climb the ridge.  The combined missile launchers and heavy bolters of the Dark Angels’ Devastator squad roared in a hail of fury and the orks immediately checked their advance as half their number fell dead on the rocky ground.  Behind his glaring skull-masked helmet, Interrogator Chaplain Saphael allowed himself a tight grin.  Now they had the orks on the run.  ‘Again!’ he cried and another salvo blasted from the Devastators’ heavy weapons, literally throwing the orks back down the rise and making up the minds of those who were still wondering whether to run or continue their assault.  Those orks who could still move began to retreat with great haste back to their own lines.

‘Fire at will!’ Saphael ordered and the Devastator squad dutifully started to pick their own targets, whispering their thanks to Jonson as one by one, their weapons found marks amongst the fleeing orks.  He raised his fist to the squad’s sergeant in congratulations, as land speeders of the Ravenwing tore across the sky overhead to harry the retreating aliens.  Turning back to the marines’ field base, he sought to locate Grand Master Belial who had planned and orchestrated the overall defence against the orks’ wild attack.  It was surely time for the next phase in drawing the orks out into open battle.


* * *


Snarling as he sealed the wolf-masked helmet on to his ancient power armour, Vogel raced to the sounds of heavy combat.  The com channels were alive with battle reports, directives and orders these being fed directly into the auto-senses of his armour.  Icons in his helmet display streamlined the wealth of information down into what he needed to know at the present.  No one had been surprised at the timing of the orks’ next assault, coming as it had in the dead of night.  But this time their feral wildness, ferocity and sheer brute strength had swept through the marines’ reinforced picket line with literally inhuman speed.  The alarm had been raised as the first scout had fallen beneath the orks’ axes and now marines of both chapters raced from the centre of their temporary field base to confront their foe.

The Wolf Priest found himself confronted with a remarkable sight as he neared the main line of battle.  All along the heavy steel barricades planted around the perimeter of the field base, Dark Angels and Space Wolves stood shoulder to shoulder as they battled wave after wave of the barbaric orks.  Beyond the space marines, Vogel saw a veritable tide of green skinned warriors, all intent on breaking through the thin cordon of marines who fought with a righteous determination.  Several mobs of orks had already reached the perimeter and the sound of massed co-ordinated bolter fire gave way to cries and curses as the alien horde crashed into the Imperial line with a sickening crunch.  At first, Angel and Wolf held under the strain as more orks poured into the attack but the power armoured line began to buckle before Vogel’s eyes as primitive weapons wielded with incredible strength began to batter their way through the marines.  Vogel thumbed his plasma pistol to power extremis as he watched a huge ork, a leader amongst its kind, flatten a Dark Angel with its charge before clambering over the barricade, sending marines to either side flying with powerful swings of its curved blade.  Within an instant, more orks had joined this creature, instinctively sensing the weakness in their enemy’s position.  The marine line began to roll back from this breakthrough.

Running at full tilt now, Wolf Priest Vogel barrelled into the huge ork, causing it to stumble and falter.  In seconds, he was surrounded by the ork’s followers, all screaming and spitting their war cries as they tried to grab hold of his limbs, eager to pull him to the ground.  Vogel’s Rosarius field flashed brightly in rapid succession as the millennia old device sought to divert ork blades away from the most vital areas of his armour.

‘To me, Wolves, to me!’ cried Vogel as he struck out at his assailants.  He discharged his pistol into one ork, burning a hole straight through the alien’s chest as he smashed his Crozius into the shoulder of another.  He felt an ork behind him, clinging on to his closed core backpack and the servos in his power armour whined in protest as he strained to keep balance.  The large ork was rising to its feet, hefting its huge blade as its eyes viewed Vogel with sheer malevolence, the muscles in its arms rippling with inhuman strength.  Vogel looked around quickly to see if any of his fellow Wolves were near enough to give aid, but all about him the marine line was disintegrating as orks flooded through the perimeter.

The Wolf Priest swore that the large ork leered at him as it raised its blade above its head, ready to smash through his chest armour when its face exploded in a shower of blood.  A black-armoured figure pulled the ork away from Vogel and delivered a hail of bolter shells into the enemy around him.  Spinning round, Vogel shook off the ork clinging to his back, throwing it to the hard ground.  With a quick kick he left it senseless.  He turned to face his rescuer.  The glaring skull face of the newcomer was fixed upon an ork as it lunged with a splintered sword.  Vogel saw the blue lightning trail of another Crozius smash into the ork and he grinned at his own disbelief as he spied the figure’s winged dagger shoulder pad.  The irony!  Saved by a Dark Angel!

The Interrogator Chaplain reached forward and grabbed Vogel’s arm.

‘Do not just stand there, Wolf!  The enemy have broken our line.  Fight, fight as you have never fought before, our Brothers need time to regroup.’  The Chaplain’s stern voice cut through Vogel’s thoughts and he lifted his own Crozius.

‘Fang!  I’ll lead you to battle, little Angel!’

Back to back they fought, Wolf Priest and Interrogator Chaplain. Though many orks streamed past them to be cut down by the retreating marine rearguard, together they formed a bulwark against the flow, diverting many of the enemy warriors upon them, rather than on more tactical targets.  Striking at green skins all around, the two fought on against many.

‘Get ready to run, Wolf,’ barked the Chaplain as Vogel took advantage of a brief respite in the ork’s assault to reload his pistol with another charge.

‘Run?  Dark Angel, I could fight all night!’  The Wolf Priest was beginning to enjoy his battle.

‘Foolish Wolf!’ the Chaplain hissed.  ‘The main body of the ork force has yet to hit us, this is just an advance warband.  Our brothers have contained the ork push yonder.  We must leave now.’

Vogel snarled, though he knew there was some sense in the Dark Angel’s words.

‘Then let us fight our way back to our brothers,’ he declared, starting towards the retreating Marine line.  He was stopped in his tracks by an armoured gauntlet grasping his shoulder pad.

‘We will never fight our way through and time is short.  Our army is organised for solid defence but we will not beat the orks back to our front line.  Follow me.’

The Interrogator Chaplain moved quickly westwards, away from the main force of marines.  Delayed by a split second of indecision, Wolf Priest Vogel sprinted to catch him.


* * *


Dawn.  The lone sun the backward world of Palmyra orbited pierced the dispersing grey clouds, casting its dirty red light upon the desolate and rocky landscape.  Interrogator Chaplain Saphael quietly sighed as he willed the communications with Grand Master Belial closed.  He had his orders and after twenty six years since his initiation into the secrets of the Deathwing, he knew his duty to the chapter.  Turning to his companion, he frowned.

Vogel sat on a large wind-smoothed stone, his wolf-styled helmet now attached to his utility belt, running a hand through his thick beard, grey from over two hundred years in the Emperor’s service.  His eyes locked with Saphael’s faintly glowing visor.

‘Let me guess, little Angel.  We are cut off behind enemy lines as our brothers prepare to launch their counter attack.’  He paused, trying to imagine the Dark Angel’s glare behind the skull mask.  ‘A good choice, you made – running from battle, allowing us to be separated from our entire army.’

The Interrogator Chaplain stood still for a moment, before unlatching his own helmet and pulling it from his head, revealing short cropped dark hair, his expression darker still.

‘And what would you have done, oh wise Wolf?  Fought on?  Allowed the orks to overwhelm us?  Faced the entire might of their army, just the two of us?’

‘If it had been another Wolf Priest at my side, maybe!’

Saphael stared at Vogel in utter disbelief.  The Wolf Priest smirked.

‘Wolves do not run from battle like newly-recruited Guardsmen.  We will face the daemon itself and not flinch!’ he boasted.

‘It is truly a wonder that your chapter still exists.  The Dark Angels do not produce foolish marines.’

‘Just cowardly ones,’ Vogel jibed, a slight smile creeping across his face.

‘You dare!’  Saphael darted two steps towards the Wolf Priest, his hand outstretched, reaching for the Wolf’s throat.  Vogel reacted with superhuman speed, springing to his feet and grabbing Saphael’s wrist.  Something in both marines’ power armour groaned as they pushed against each other’s strength.  Vogel’s expression was a grimace as he focussed his will into moving Saphael’s hand.  The Chaplain’s face was a blank mask, the effort he was exerting betrayed only by an intermittent twitch above his left eye.  Neither hand moved in the contest.

Slowly, gradually, Wolf Priest Vogel relaxed his grip, feeling the Dark Angel begin to do the same.

‘We are both Adeptus Astartes, brother Dark Angel,’ Vogel said as he stepped away. Saphael simply glared at him with hate-filled eyes.

‘I will not fight you,’ the Wolf Priest declared.  ‘The matter is forgotten.’

‘A Dark Angel never forgets.’

Vogel opened his mouth to voice a sharp retort at the officious Saphael, but thought the better of it.  ‘So what does your Lord say?’

‘My Grand Master orders us to skirt the ork forces, bypass their perimeter and to reconnoitre the enemy camp.  Our counterattack takes place tomorrow and he is keen to take this opportunity to gain intelligence first-hand.’

‘Of course.  Why lead our Brothers where Angels fear to tread?’  Vogel hid his smile as Saphael’s icy glare bore into him.


* * *


Vogel flattened himself against an eroded rock that barely hid his enormous frame as the cacophony of the ork patrol roared past him leaving a storm of dust, exhaust fumes and bouncing stones.  Glancing around his meagre cover as the crude alien vehicles receded, he saw three tracked bikes with improbably large cannon leading a decidedly fragile looking open-topped truck crammed with bellowing orks, the driver firing its large-bore pistol into the red sky.  A dozen yards away, he could see the Dark Angel peering at the orks from behind another large stone that he had sprinted behind when the marines had first heard the orks’ loud approach.  For three hours, they had moved ever closer to the orks’ camp which they had easily located by the many towering columns of smoke common to the aliens’ settlements, however temporary.  Orkish patrols had been light and easy to avoid, due mostly to the incredible noise their vehicles generated, but also because the creatures seemed more intent on covering ground than in locating stragglers isolated from the combined force of marines.  It was apparent the collective eyes of the ork horde were firmly fixed on the Astartes army many miles away and were eagerly awaiting the impending battle.

For his part, Saphael had been trying to calculate the ork patrol patterns, but the inherent randomness of the aliens eluded his training.  Looking back to the Wolf Priest who was gesturing in a manner the Interrogator-Chaplain took for ‘all clear,’ he could not help thinking the impetuous Wolf might not inadvertently sabotage their entire mission.  More than once Vogel had unnerved him by suggesting they face down one of the patrols in preference to hiding.  Never a successful judge of humour, Saphael guessed this had been some kind of joke on the part of the Wolf Priest, perhaps even a jibe aimed at himself or the Dark Angels as a whole that only another degenerate Wolf would comprehend.  It was, however, clear Vogel was unstable at best and a liability at worst and this insight gave Saphael some pause.  The nature of the mission was critical to the coming battle and both the honour and necessity the Grand Master had bestowed upon him weighed heavily.  The Wolf Priest simply had none of the inner discipline that every Dark Angel knew instinctively from the point of their initiation.  Should he attempt to continue alone?  Could he even evade a Space Wolf’s legendary senses?  A dark shadow fell across him, breaking the train of thought.  Glancing up, Saphael saw the Wolf Priest smirking down upon him.

‘They have gone, little Angel.  Should we proceed or simply sit here and wait for the battle to start?’


* * *


It was dusk before the two marines were able to make their way past careless ork sentries.  Vogel had disturbed two sleeping ork warriors, but had dispatched both in near silence before Saphael had been able to react.  Saphael peered over the small rise he and Vogel had taken cover behind, the auto senses of his power armour easily penetrating the swift fall of dusk, allowing him to see the multitude of orks milling about their camp as they continued their preparations for battle.

‘How many?’ queried Vogel as he adjusted the internal environment of his armour.

‘Five and a half, maybe six thousand,’ said Saphael.  ‘Light vehicles numbering in the hundreds and. . .’ he paused as his helmet adjusted magnification.  ‘By The Lion!  Battle Fortresses!  Perhaps a dozen.’

Vogel stopped fiddling with his armour controls as he turned to look at Saphael who had retreated from the top of the rise to sit next to the Wolf Priest.

‘Battle Fortresses?’ Vogel asked rhetorically.  ‘That is not so good, little Angel.  Our army may not have the strength to counter both those and the horde in a combined assault.  How did our Thunderhawks miss those?’

‘I was informed by the Grand Master they did not have much time over the target.  The orks’ fighter screen was intense.’

‘Did you see any of their aircraft?’

‘No.  They could be on the far side of the camp but, Emperor willing, our Thunderhawks destroyed them all.’  Saphael moved to take another look over the rise, but was restrained by Vogel’s touch on his arm.

‘That just leaves the Battle Fortresses, then,’ said Vogel.  ‘Can we get to them?’

Saphael did not move, but his mind ran fast.  ‘We cannot infiltrate the ork camp!’

‘Where are the Battle Fortresses, Angel?’

Saphael moved back to the top of the rise, this time joined by Wolf Priest Vogel.

‘Ahh, I see them,’ Vogel smiled as he looked across the camp.

‘Do you see the eight hundred-odd orks between the Fortresses and us?’

‘I see everything, Angel.  Wolves are not blind.’

The Interrogator-Chaplain’s whispered retort was inaudible even to Vogel’s keen ears, but it caused the Wolf Priest to smile anyway.  Vogel stared intently at the ork camp.

The perimeter was less than a mile away from their position and thousands upon thousands of orks filled the shallow depression he looked down upon.  Far off in the centre of the camp, a huge fortified hut bedecked with unsightly banners dominated everything around it, obviously the temporary home of the warlord leading the horde.  Arrayed concentrically around this large structure were lesser huts, tents and orks sleeping in the open, the camp becoming steadily more disorganised and make-shift the further it extended from the warlord’s headquarters.  Vehicles of all descriptions were strewn everywhere, obviously in the keeping of their respective owners, but the huge black hulls of the twelve Battle Fortresses were to be found on the far eastern edge of the camp, presumably because there was nowhere else to keep the massive killing machines.

‘We cannot get to them, Wolf Priest,’ Saphael emphasised.  ‘They will be heavily guarded, orks are probably sleeping on board and we would have to bypass too many sentries.’

‘All true, my good Angel,’ Vogel smiled.  ‘But do you see those fuel dumps a little further past them?  Those Battle Fortresses would not get very far towards our force if they lost their fuel.’

Saphael was incredulous.  He had suspected Vogel’s nature would be detrimental to their task, but this idea beggared belief.

‘Infiltrate the enemy?’ he asked.


‘The two of us?’


‘Because you are insane?’

Vogel smirked.  ‘Yes.’

Saphael stared into the massed orks below, desperately trying to find a flaw in the Wolf Priest’s idea.  This was far beyond the parameters of the Grand Master’s instructions, but he knew he did not need to verify orders if this idea, mad as it was, had the possibility of success.  He was an Interrogator-Chaplain of the Dark Angels, inducted into the time-honoured secrets of the Deathwing and bound to set examples to his brother marines whenever the opportunity presented itself.

‘Do you believe frag grenades will be enough to destroy the dump?’ he asked.

‘Without a doubt,’ replied Vogel.  ‘If we are wise in their placing, we need detonate only a few drums to set the others off.  But in the interests of making sure. . .’  He produced two fist-sized krak charges from his utility belt.

‘It could just work,’ Saphael mused.

‘Glad you think so, Angel,’ Vogel said as he stood and started to skirt the rise.

‘Wolf!  Where are you going?’ Saphael asked with a degree of trepidation.  ‘Our plan. . .’

The Wolf Priest turned back, a look of exasperation on his face.  ‘We infiltrate the camp, destroy the dump, retreat – keep up, little Angel, we must complete the mission before our army is ready to strike.’

Saphael spoke a quiet prayer to his Primarch as he adjusted his helmet seals, the soft words lost in the hiss of pressurised atmosphere as the helmet reset its connections with his powered armour.  Wondering if his actions were truly the Will of the immortal Emperor, he followed Wolf Priest Vogel.


* * *


Moving eastwards around the noisy ork camp, the two marines travelled as stealthily as their bulky power armour permitted, never closing to less than a half mile from the camp’s perimeter and taking cover whenever ork vehicles were heard nearby.  The progress was slow, but both realised that two lone marines could not risk discovery if they were to succeed in their mission.  The fall of night at least worked in their favour, for the darkness barely impeded the auto senses of their armour.  Orkish eyes, though more sensitive than unaugmented human vision, would be somewhat hindered.

It took them nearly an hour to move into a position that would allow a direct advance to the fuel dump and Saphael could not shake his feeling of ill-boding for this mission.  There were simply too many things that could go wrong, as Grand Master Belial had pointed out during Saphael’s communication with him that outlined the marines’ objective.  The super heavy vehicles had the potential to smash straight through the marine line in open battle, which made the mission a risk worth taking.  The combined marine army could concentrate fire on these war engines, but that would leave the entire line open to direct assault by the bulk of the ork horde, with corresponding heavy losses.  Belial had suggested detailing one of the squads of Scouts already in position around the orks’ flanks to destroy the fuel dump, but Saphael had refused, declaring it his duty as he was already in position with the Wolf Priest.  This was undeniably true, but Saphael was all too aware that, in part, he had also volunteered to avoid Vogel’s inevitable jibes had he simply let the Scouts attack.

The Interrogator Chaplain had noted that Vogel was much quieter now they had embarked upon the mission, with only the occasional weak insult passing between them and he had to give the Wolf Priest credit for this.  Despite Vogel’s boorish behaviour earlier, it was obvious the Space Wolf was an accomplished warrior.  Reflecting on this, it occurred to Saphael that this should not have been a surprise, considering Vogel’s position within his chapter.

‘Are you ready, Angel?’ Vogel asked as they prepared to start the next phase of their raid.


The two marines began to move forward, moving into the depression the ork camp sat in.  They took advantage of what little terrain there was, large wind-blasted rocks, wretched planet life and abandoned ork vehicles, but too many times they had to rely purely on the cover of darkness to shield them from the prying eyes of ork sentries.

Both marines saw the sentry simultaneously and they dove to the ground, flattening themselves on the rough and dusty surface.  Wandering with seemingly no care in the world, the single ork did not appear to be following any set patrol pattern.  In Vogel’s eyes, the alien appeared to be doing little more than killing time before battle the next day.  Kicking a rock back into the direction of the camp, perhaps showing irritation at some ork leader for forcing it into sentry duty, the ork took a meandering path that drew it inexorably to where the marines lay perfectly still.

‘Be still, Angel,’ Vogel’s voice whispered in Saphael’s helmet, inaudible to the outside world.  ‘It will pass.’

‘If we must act, do it quietly,’ Saphael replied.  ‘We could bring the entire camp down upon us.’

The ork took three more steps forward, then turned back to the camp, standing still for a brief moment.  The marines could only guess what was going through the alien’s small mind.  It turned once more to continue its distracted patrol.  Taking another step, it stopped again, its head appearing to turn in slow motion as it looked straight at the marines.  Saphael saw its brow furrow as it squinted into the night.  Alarm filled him as he saw a look of shock pass over the alien’s face and it dropped its fanged mouth open, inhaling audibly as it prepared to shout a warning.

Saphael saw the Wolf Priest rise to action, his plasma pistol being brought up to blast the ork into its component atoms.

‘No!’  The Interrogator Chaplain reacted without thought, grabbing a weapon from his belt and hurling it at the sentry with the full force of his superhuman strength.  The blade buried itself deep into the ork’s throat, cutting off the cry that was rising from its lungs.  A long stream of foul ork blood arced into the night as the ork collapsed, throwing up a cloud of dust.

‘I said quietly!  Imbecile Wolf!’ Saphael cursed. For once, the Wolf Priest was silent as the two marines padded forward to inspect the corpse.

Vogel bent down on one knee, reaching for the weapon Saphael had thrown, his interest piqued by the intricate device.  The Interrogator Chaplain moved quickly before he could grasp the weapon, pulling it from the ork’s throat before wiping it clean on the alien’s mangy clothing and returning it to his belt.  Vogel saw it had many differing and finely crafted blades, all embossed with the broken dagger symbol he knew belonged to the Dark Angels’ highest ranks, the Deathwing.  A half remembered rumour he had overheard from his Grey Hunters discussing their alliance with the Dark Angels on this world sprang to his mind.

‘What was that, little Angel?’

‘None of your concern, Wolf!’ Saphael spat, almost sounding as if he were angry at himself.

Vogel smiled.  That had drawn a reaction from the austere Interrogator Chaplain.  ‘You Dark Angels like your secrets, do you not?’

Saphael paused before answering.  ‘This is not the time, Wolf.’  He sounded calm to Vogel, but the Wolf Priest could scent something from the Dark Angel that betrayed an edge to what he said.  ‘Just remember there are threats throughout this galaxy that your chapter knows nothing about.  It is both the duty and the honour of the Dark Angels to guard our Imperium against the most heinous of enemies.’

The Wolf Priest raised his eyes.  Pure indoctrination, he thought.

‘As one of the lesser chapters, you are not privy to either our mission or our methods,’ Saphael continued.  ‘Now, let us finish this.’

Wolf Priest Vogel could barely believe what he was hearing.  In another time and place, he knew he would have laughed out loud in the face of the Dark Angel’s diatribe.

‘Have it your way, little Angel,’ he replied.  ‘We can continue this later.’

Saphael held his gaze a brief moment before turning back to their shared goal.


* * *


‘I cannot believe they have left this place so open.’  Saphael’s voice carried his sheer disbelief.

‘They are too confident,’ said Vogel.  ‘Quickly, set your grenades.  It takes but a single sentry to sound the alarm.’

‘Three minute fuses,’ instructed the Dark Angel.  Vogel set his two krak charges accordingly, without comment.

The two marines worked quickly and efficiently, the Wolf Priest magnetically attaching his charges on to the greatest concentrations of rusting fuel drums, as Saphael crammed grenades between others.  Icons displayed in their helmets’ visors began the countdown for the detonation of the charges, allowing them to set successive explosives to coincide with the initial blasts.  Using the fuel dump itself as cover, they were all too aware of orkish activity mere metres from their position.  Shouts, challenges, even weapons fire were filtered out by their auto senses, a discord that would have been deafening to the unprotected ears of a normal human.

‘Hurry, Angel,’ Vogel warned.

‘Just a few more.’

‘We have done enough.’

‘I know what I am doing!’ Saphael hissed back.

Vogel hesitated, unsure of whether to leave immediately and desert the foolish Interrogator Chaplain to his fate or stay a moment longer.  He risked a glance above the fuel drums.  At this range, the ork camp extended further into the night than even his crafted helmet could see.  The huge hulking masses of the Battle Fortresses dominated the immediate area and he could make out the multitude of heavy guns that almost covered every available surface, as well as various spikes, rollers and other devices, all designed to allow the vehicles to literally smash through an enemy army.  Mobs of orks gathered around worryingly large fires, seemingly impervious to the close heat.  They ate, drank and fought, with brawls taking place almost everywhere he looked.  It did not seem uncommon for the aliens to draw their weapons in these fights, often to the loud applause of assembled onlookers.  The lack of honour these creatures mystified Vogel.

‘Russ-damn you. Now, Dark Angel!’

‘It is done,’ Saphael said simply.

The two marines began their retreat, ever conscious of the dwindling icon readouts in their helmets that marked the countdown of the fuses on the explosives they had laid.  Saphael’s hearts maintained their steady artificial rhythm, but he felt decidedly edgy being this close to such huge numbers of the enemy and he knew he would be much relieved once they were safely back in the cover of darkness.  He looked over his shoulder to make sure of the Wolf Priest’s progress and saw a mob of orks approach the fuel dump behind them.

‘Wolf!’ he warned, just as a guttural cry from the mob rent the night.

Vogel spun on his heels, drawing his plasma pistol and blasted the lead ork in the mob.  The alien dropped instantly and he shouted at the Dark Angel.  ‘Move!’

Saphael needed no convincing as he saw nearby mobs stir from their fires and reach for their weapons.  Sporadic fire was already being aimed in their general direction and the marines moved quickly, seeking cover and darkness away from the camp.

The icons on their helmet displays reached conclusion and both marines braced themselves for the explosion, knowing that to falter in their retreat could prove fatal.  The orks closest to the dump were less fortunate as the combined frag and krak charges blew the fuel drums apart in a titanic explosion that shook the ground.  Several burning drums were hurled high into the sky on columns of fire, before crashing down amongst the camp, spewing fuel and destruction all around.  Nearby mobs were incinerated in the blast, whilst others seemed only incited by the devastation, their feral minds driven to battle rage by the explosion.  The incoming fire directed at the marines soon intensified and another, smaller, explosion threw dirt into the air as a poorly aimed rocket streaked past them, its smoke trail quickly dissipating as they ran through it.

A line of shells dug into the ground behind, following their retreat.  The wild fire moved ever closer to the Wolf Priest and his Rosarius’ field flashed bright in the night as his shield deflected shots into the darkness.  Saphael heard a grunt as more penetrated Vogel’s shield and impacted into his backpack.  The Wolf Priest staggered under the hit and, acting on a pure instinct he might later have regretted, Saphael stopped his sprint to assist the Wolf back on to his feet.  Vogel’s backpack sputtered sparks from shorted wiring within the small craters the shells had created, but Saphael could only guess whether any vital subsystems had been damaged.  Looking back, the Interrogator Chaplain saw dozens of orks charging towards them and he emptied his bolt pistol’s magazine into their front rank.

He cried out more in shock than pain as a shell embedded itself in the arm joint of his armour, causing him to drop his pistol.  His blood spattered Vogel’s armour and he knew the wound was serious.  The Wolf Priest grabbed his other arm and pushed him forward.

‘In the name of the Throne, run, Angel!’

The Marines fled into the night, pursued by vengeful orks enraged at the success of their destructive raid.


* * *


Pulling pressure seals together with a sharp click, Saphael replaced the armour on his forearm.  Thankful for his augmented biology, he felt no pain from the wound he had taken in their flight, but the limb would be all but useless for a day or two.  Saphael was all too aware that without his armour, he would have lost the lower part of his limb altogether.  He looked at the Wolf Priest, who seemed to be meditating.  This surprised Saphael somewhat, as he had never imagined that a Space Wolf would seek any kind of inner peace after battle.  He made a mental note to learn more about the Wolves from his chapter’s archives, if he ever got the chance after this campaign.

They had been lucky to escape after their raid, but once the marines had outpaced the mad ork charge and hidden in the dark, the aliens had appeared to lose interest and focus, perhaps due to the lack of the warlord’s presence that seemed to bind the whole alien army together.  As morning broke once more, they had been aware of increased vehicle activity in their vicinity and had presumed that the orks were attempting to locate them.  However, that the motorised patrols had been no more effective than the previous day’s had not surprised Vogel.  The orks lived for war and not one of them wanted to be relegated to patrol duties when a large battle was imminent.

Vogel and Saphael had been able to view the devastation they had caused and the Dark Angel had communicated their success to his Grand Master.  All that remained of the fuel dump was a huge blackened crater.  Several fires still burned in the camp where fuel drums had dropped amongst the orks and even a Battle Fortress had been caught in the blast.  At this range, they could not tell whether the vehicle was still operational, but Vogel was satisfied at what they had wrought.  As he pointed out to Saphael, even if the Battle Fortresses had full tanks on board, they would never reach the marine line without the benefit of reserves.  Grand Master Belial had closed communications by informing Saphael that he could not spare any forces to retrieve them until after the battle had been won.

‘We did well,’ said Saphael, once again looking at the crater on the edge of the ork camp.

‘Aye, we did,’ answered Vogel. ‘I believe I can make this mission a good exercise for my Blood Claws.  Have the orks broken camp yet?’

Saphael stared into the distance.  ‘They are just beginning to.  The Ravenwing have begun their initial strikes, drawing the orks forward.’

‘Into our waiting guns,’ Vogel finished.  ‘It will be a good battle.’

The Interrogator Chaplain nodded his assent.

‘You know, little Angel, it does not seem right for us to rest here idle whilst our brothers are fighting.’

Saphael inwardly groaned.  ‘Wolf. . .’

Vogel smiled at Saphael’s tone.  ‘Striking in their rear, perhaps?’ he ventured.  ‘We may draw a mob or two away from the attack.  Unless, of course, an Angel fights but one battle a day.’

Saphael sighed.  ‘Alright, Wolf.  I can match you.’

Wolf Priest Vogel jumped to his feet, drawing his plasma pistol and swinging his Crozius through the still air.

‘For Russ, and the immortal Emperor!’

‘For the Lion, and the Golden Throne!’