[Fluff] Raven's Call

I wanted to share some fluff a friend and I have been working on (stalkingamongshadows.blogspot.com) which details his raven guard and their campaign against my Emerald Fists.  Enjoy the read.
~Only in Death does Duty End~

As Rhaco and his combat squad of Ravens approached Bruj Secundus a derelict vessel registered on the auspex. This ship had remained stoically silent and all attempts to make contact met with no success. Rhaco allowed himself a moment of reflection as he remembered leaving his veteran brothers behind. Solari had ordered his command squad act in his stead, coordinating the actions of the 3rd company throughout the Segmentum on missions similar to Rhaco’s. Reality snapped back to him as he drew nearer to the dead ship. Seemingly adrift, there were no prow lights of any kind, only a weak vox signal emanating from within. He readied his boarding party and as the vessel drew nearer he let his powerfist snap with static and retracted the field immediately after; a habit he had picked up that had slowly turned to a pre-battle ritual. Forced entry was not necessary as automated protocols within the docking port were activated and guided Rhaco’s shuttle aboard. Something had happened to their brothers in the Fists, and Rhaco readied his men. Bolters were given final rites and Hastus checked the levels on his flamer as Rhaco squeezed his fist together. Satisfied, they released the docking seals and entered the ship.

The squad disembarked into a brightly lit docking bay; however, years of training sent them silently to the shadows. Auspex readings showed only one source of activity aboard the ship; the bridge itself. Rhaco needed answers and the deck officer’s log would aid him in uncovering the truth. They moved with purpose towards the bridge and as they entered the central junction, Rhaco’s suspicions confirmed. Here the ship took on a grossly different form. The corridors darkened and what little light there was passed through a noxious haze, turning bathing the corridor with a sickly hue. Even through his respirator Rhaco could taste the pungent copper tinged medley of bile and blood in the air. The squad’s boots which had been successfully muffled to this point, now slid through a grueling paste of excrement. The beacon suddenly stopped transmitting and Rhaco knew, they had fallen into a trap.

The first to fall was Graccus, bolter rounds tore through his armor and disciplined fire from the darkness forced Rhaco to fall back into the transit shaft of the ship. He could easily hear the sloshing of boots on the deck plating as he gave the order to fallback and rally at their shuttle. Not 30 m down the shaft they found their way to the shuttle blocked by grotesque, vile marines, if they could even still be called so. With their white armor split at several seams and hemorrhaging humours, they looked as though their bodies would soon overtake their power armored shells. They moved with a speed belying their size quickly closing the gap to Rhaco’s squad. But the Ravens were faster and more agile. They tore through the marines, boltguns barking and combat blades tearing at bloated flesh and ceramite. To their frustration, damage that should have felled an astartes scarcely slowed their attackers. Their rotted forms afforded them more protection than Rhaco anticipated and his squad fought for every inch they gained. The squad approached the docking back and Rhaco ordered Hastus to hold the traitors at bay with the deadly flame weapon as he let loose with his storm bolter. Rhaco checked his combat overlay within his visor, confirming that Graccus had succumbed to his injuries as his vitals icon went black. Dessius had been split off from Rhaco and Hastus during the fierce fighting yet his icon still blinked battle ready.

Throughout their retreat Rhaco had made several attempts to raise vox communication with the fleet but he could not confirm his messages were being received. As they neared the final seal before the docking back Rhaco made a final attempt to establish contact in vein as he felt a sudden drop in ambient temperature. With the dreaded plague marines cleansed by holy fire, Rhaco opened the final seal and entered into what should have been the docking bay; however, the space had shifted into something else as though a powerful force had reconstructed the ship.

Through the haze in the docking bay Rhaco heard something far more dangerous than the plague marines they had fought, the slow heavy tread of walking tanks. His gene enhanced body quaked in rage as five hulking brutes clad in dilapidated terminator armour moved to block the obvious escape routes. His brain quickly contemplated their options few as they were; the battle clearly pitched. Without knowing whether his vox commands were making it back to the fleet, and the loss of the docking bay, there was only one option.

Hastus and Rhaco knew no fear and charged headlong into their adversaries; the flamer bellowing righteous fury and the powerfist arcing with power. The terminators would not be felled as readily as their powered armoured brethren; for they were clad in armour as strong as a battle tank with weapons to match. Hastus was raised from his feet in the grip of a power fist as the terminator needlessly buried a burst of mass reactive shells into Hastus’ chest before crushing him in his grip. Rhaco dashed by one of the terminators taking its right arm cruely off in his power fist. Rhaco knew that challenging these behemoths on even ground was a fool’s errand. With swooping grace Rhaco weaved in and out of the abundant shadows of the transmuted docking bay and felled another terminator with a blow from behind. He wheeled on the others through a torrent of storm bolter fire when suddenly they stopped firing, slowly parting as another figure entered the fray. Rhaco did not pause to grant them opportunity, and leapt from the darkness. Suddenly his body stopped, his mind willing him further but his limbs unable to respond. The darkness within the room seemed to grow until only the glow of the terminator’s helms was visible. A glowing aura of decay illuminated the newcomer; a trail of rust and corrosion spreading from his feet as if the ravages of time ate away at his surroundings in an instant. Rhaco fought, willing his body to move slowly forward, baring his teeth in anger. He screamed the Primarch’s name, and as he did so, Dessius slipped through the darkness towards the shuttle; he had made his way alone to the docking bay. Rhaco could sense his presence as only a Raven could. He needed not give the order; Dessius needed to get word to the fleet. Before he could reach the ship, a permeating laughter filled the darkness, followed by a rising crescendo of buzzing. A swarm of rotted flies assailed Dessius, entering through cracks in his battle plate. The poisonous plague of filth spread through his body, rotting his gene enhanced form to nothing.

The psyker’s attention on Dessius gave Rhaco the respite he needed. He brought his fist around and fired his storm bolter with unerring accuracy despite the darkness. He was rewarded with a heavy thump as another terminator fell. The remaining terminators fired and swatted at him in the darkness, and each attempt to kill him went unrewarded as he managed to close to within a few metres of the psyker. Without the protection afforded by the Librarius, Rhaco only had once chance to strike this vile enemy down. He hurled his powerfist upward in a powerful uppercut, aimed to tear the psykers skull from its spine. But the enemy was cunning, and as the fist found its mark, a blinding light erupted from the psykers frame, hurling Rhaco backwards. The psyker turned to face him, and his gaze seemed to pierce into Rhaco’s soul. The psyker stretched out his gnarled arm, and lightning erupted from his finger tips. Rhaco’s black and white armour was wreathed in balefire, his visor screaming temperature warnings before failing completely. His armour bubbled and the black enamel peeled before his flesh and bone ignited. The inferno gathered in intensity as it consumed the last of what was once Veteran Sergeant Azinias Rhaco.

Their deaths had not been without purpose, for although Rhaco would never know he had succeeded in his mission, his hails had reached the fleet as their hurried replies were lost to the void.