Chapter I – part 2 – Mantis Warriors – Siege of St. Ahra Sanctuary

+++ Jorus System +++

+++ St. Ahra planet surface +++

+++ Ahra Primus settlement battlezone +++

+++ 14 hours since Vet. Sergeant Corymbus deployment +++

Corymbus evaluated all the assets at hand in the St. Ahra Sanctuary siege. The result was promising. If they would not be able to repel the attackers completely, they should be able to survive until reinforcements arrive. That of course only due to the presence of Space Marines on the field. If not for them the besieged Ecclesiarchy militia would be obliterated.

Deacon handed over to Corymbus the entire command authority and committed himself to fulfilling the Astartes orders.

And so did Corymbus begin to turn the tide of battle. The attackers, used to easy prey after months of hunting down unorganized sorties from militia, now had repeatedly fallen into a dozen of ambushes in the ruins of a city surrounding St. Ahra Sanctuary. Today they will try to end the fight.

It was a bad day for an assault on the defenders positions, due to the clear sky and long view distance, thanks to the end of the snowfall. Yet city was still covered in fresh snow, but thankfully for the defenders, no new flakes where falling from the sky.

City… A past and long gone name for the sea of rubble and ruins that encircled the still standing Sanctuary complex, once in the middle of the urban zone, that used to be called Ahra Primus. Half a million souls inhabited its hab blocks. Half a million souls used to dwell here and cherish and praise the Saint Ahra in his temple.

Now a distant memory for the defenders who mostly constituted from the temple guard (retired imperial guardsmen for the most part), or in other case the remnants of city population. They have struggled to defend the city at all costs, and they failed. At the time of Corymbus’s arrival the Ecclesiarchal militia held only narrow perimeter around Sanctuary building complex. Its strength could be estimated at about 200 men and woman. Yet the shortage of supplies was close at hand. Several more days and the food would have to be rationed and ammunition given out in smaller amounts.

“Good timing” Thought to himself Corymbus looking at the militia men exercising his orders and getting into positions. Barricades were being reinforced, strongpoints resupplied, shifts and patrols rerouted and put to maximal efficiency. Truth be told Corymbus was sure that the defenders survived only due to strength of will, rather than martial prowess, since their commanding officers had no clue how to deal with siege craft.

After 14 hours of preparations Corymbus was informed about massive hostile activity from all directions. “Well, looks like they have someone with a brain in proper place.” He thought to himself.

-“They know, that if they do not attack immediately the defenders would get even more reinforcements. Strike now or never, that was the dilemma the enemy commander had…” spoke aloud Astartes commander

-“Colonel Marton and his lackeys.” interrupted Deacon

-“What?”

-“That is the name of enemy commander” he clarified.

-“Ah yes, anyway Deacon, they are approaching, you know your orders, now move” Corymbus turned away from the priest and put his helmet on, it was time to enter the field.

He voxed to all his marines present at the planet surface.

-“Battle-Brothers! It is time to execute your orders. Proceed with caution and brutal efficiency. There is no need for martyrdom nor for any sacrifice at all. We just need to hold them off. It may sound… bit too cautious but mark my words: we have no one to spare! You would do well to remember that. Your lives are now more important to the chapter than they ever were. Do not dispose them to a fight such as this. That would be unnecessary. Caution and efficiency. For The Emperor! For Redemption! For the Mantis Warriors!”

Finishing with the Mantis Warriors battle cry, Corymbus activated his jump pack and flew away from the main building of Sanctuary complex. He landed a fair distance away where his battle brothers of assault squad where already waiting in hiding.

-“Sergeant LaMans divide your squad into three groups, ill lead one, you will lead the the other, and last one will be led by the men of your choosing. We launch in approximately 2 minutes and enforce protocol Headbite.” Corymbus relayed his orders.

-“Sergeant Olvyi? Do you read me?”

-“Loud and clear commander, we are at the position. Reporting enemy armour approaching, just as you predicted, through the ruined avenue, melta charges are in place.” came a quick reply.

-“Very well, inflict maximum damage and pull back. Remember the Mantis way, do not risk unnecessarily.” Warned Veteran Sergeant.

-“Understood commander” replied Olvyi.

-“Troenor what is your status?” Corymbus continued assessing his teams.

-“Multiple targets ahead of us. We are already under fire, we are repelling them together with militia. They are trying break our strongpoint, but that is not going to happen.” reported sergeant Troenor.

-“Very well, your retreat would cost us ammunition stockpiles and food resources that are left for the defenders at your bunker. Yet I strongly order you to fall back when the situation will get out of hand. Remember we cannot afford any loses.” Summarized Corymbus.

-“Commander… the situation will not get out of hand… orders received and understood” Sergeant Troenor replied, with bitterness loudly voiced in his words. He felt insulted by Corymbus, that he could have let the situation to get out of hand.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ north eastern battlezone +++

First salvoes of Leman Russ’s battle canons roared over the battlefield. Squad Olvyi answered with a chain of precisely coordinated metlaexplosions that tumbled multi-storey buildings on approaching armour squadron. Three Chimeras and a Leman Russ battle tank  were buried with its crews and cargo under hundreds of tons of rubble.

Coordinated bolter fire followed from multiple directions and obliterated any escaping traitor guardsmen not caught in detonation.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ western battlezone +++

Divided among three sub-squads, the assault team of Mantis Warriors detachment hovered above the battlefield towards the predicted avenue of approach of line infantry troopers marching towards the Sanctuary of St. Ahra from the west.

They have landed, each team on different rooftop of multi storey buildings that miraculously survived the onslaught, and then they waited, like a stalking predator of death world jungle.

Traitor guard didn’t allow them a long wait. First, Astares heard Chimera engines, undoubtedly covering the approaching units from heavy weapon emplacements, rather than transporting the bulk of the troop amount. Behind them marching in a cohesive lines, about 400 guardsmen who turned traitor where now heading for one of two last places of resistance on this planet. Undoubtedly they wished to finish this soon and be done with resistance on St. Ahra once and for all.

Unfortunately for them, Corymbus and his Battle-Brothers were far from giving up on the populace of this planet.

-“Ignite in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – blast them!” Roared Corymbus. Exactly same mechanics of trap that was launched upon the tank column by Squad Olvyi, now was unleashed upon the marching traitor troops. Buildings tumbled and fallen covering approaching enemies in rubble and dust.

The detonation was architecture to be fired when the marching column could be split in two. In the aftermath of the explosion about a hundred guardsmen were dead or grievously wounded. Yet about 300 of them were still battle worthy. Fortunately for the defenders nearly half of traitors was cut away from their comrades by the fallen building that would take some time to breach.

Corymbus issued an order: “Headbite”, and all three groups of assault marines ignited their jump packs and assaulted designated targets.

A bloody fight unfolded due to the massive number advantage on the said of traitors resulting in a 15 guardsmen against one Astartes situation. Yet due to the fact that the fight was a brutal close quarters slaughter, traitors didn’t stand much chance against Assault Marines equipped with chainswords and power axes. Corymbus himself was tearing to shreds everyone he stood against, with his two power claws crackling with blue ribbons of energy.

The odds were turning into the favour of attacking marines not only in the brutal melee that unfolded after the ambush. Squad Olvyi reported complete annihilation of tank squadron that approached the sanctuary via north eastern avenue. Although enemy was destroyed Olvyi reported as well that they have taken heavy damage. Unfortunately one of the Leman Russes was not entirely covered in rubble and destroyed. Somehow one of the heavy bolter sponsons survived together with traitor that manned it. When Squad Olvyi members Dreus and Garin approached the crushed vehicles to execute any surviving crew members or transported troops (that were buried inside Chimeras), heavy bolter spat fire and damaged both Battle-Brothers. Thanks to rapid response and their enhanced biology, both Astartes survived unexpected bolter fire and finished heavy bolter emplacement with precise throws of krak grenades, yet they still they got heavily wounded and had to be extracted to fall back point Zeta.

Due to the fact of infantry charge with a backup of Bane Wolfs and in consequence passible loses Olvyi decided to retreat his squad and bring the wounded Battle-Brothers under the care of Apothecary.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ southern battlezone +++

Squad Troenor was experiencing heavy fire from enemy forces storming the southern approach to the Sanctuary. Ruins of a warehouse served Sergeant Troenor and his Battle-Brothers for a bunker. He was also accompanied by about 50 militia members, initially. Now his auxiliaries were down to 4 standing on their own and 12 heavily wounded.

-“Brother Tyon bring your rocket launcher to this avenue take this damned Bane Wolf down. Brother Numides cover him with stalker bolter. Brother Atrion and Brother Borgas retreat to my position I see Leman Russ approaching your location” Troenor issued his orders in a heartbeat.

Atrion and Borgas where send ahead of the strongpoint Squad Troenor was defending, in order to take enemy infantry into cross fire. They both got “waist deep” in gore, and thy have switched their bolters for chainswords to wreck even more havoc at melee.

Now they were fighting their way back due to the unending flow of traitors that engaged them in melee and threaten to hold them long enough to be targeted by Leman Russes that approached their position.

-“Tyon what is your status?” asked sergeant Troenor.

Laud explosion answered the question, covering with its blast radius the surrounding buildings with chemical waste that was left of Bane Wolf main turret supply tank. Screams of contaminated traitor guardsmen that hid behind the vehicle followed the sound of explosion.

-“Target down” reported Tyon

-“Good shot Brother!” praised Troenor

Suddenly, even lauder explosion followed brief conversation and in the same instant, status icons displaying health condition of Brother Atrion and Brother Borgas flashed away and vanished.

-“Atrion! Borgas! Report in!” Yelled Troenor, fully aware that the sound of explosion heralded the least anticipated vehicle on the battlefield. Traitor guard, contrary to the gathered intel, was in possession of Leman Russ Executioner – a variant of that tank that replaced main battle cannon with plasma  cannon . A deadly foe indeed.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ western battlezone +++

-“I see him! He is mine!” Roared Corymbus already entirely covered with traitor guardsmen’s blood. He already has slain about 50 of them and was not going to stop before protocol “Headbite” was enforced.

Mantis Warriors relayed on very practical and cunning way of procuring warfare. Minimal losses and maximal damage inflicted upon their foes was a result of adhering to the axioms of Great Khan’s teaching favouring rapid and merciless strikes. Yet to their speed and agility, Mantis Warriors also incorporated tactical solutions favoured by the sons of Corax – ambushing and striking where they were least expected. Such was the path of Mantis.

Corymbus understood it and embraced it completely, fighting in a way that would make his predecessors proud. Now that the most of the infantry column approaching defenders position was eradicated and only those quickest to flee were still alive, Corymbus noticed command Chimera trying to retreat together with the remnants of attacking force.

-“Squad Olvyi you are clear to advance from point Zeta after the fleeing hostile units, yet no further than the city borders” Ordered Corymbus.

-“Sergeant LaMans, finish those traitors and join Squad Troenor, from last report I understood they are under heavy fire” Continued commander

-“And you Cor?” asked sergeant LaMans on a private vox channel, who knew Corymbus long enough to address him in such informal way. And as to Astartes standards long ment about 150 years of service in the Chapter

-“I have a head to bite off!” replied Corymbus, and ignited his jump pack taking him in to the air towards the fleeing command chimera.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ southern battlezone +++

-“Sergeant! Brother Atrion and Brother Borgas are down. They got incinerated by the plasma explosion.” Confirmed Brother Pratio, yet Troenor already knew that. He was furious. This tank should not even be here. The traitors will pay bloody toll for taking lives of two of his battle brothers.

Troenor evaluated his options and acted a second later.

-“Brother Numides, cover me and Brother Tyon with bolter fire, while we approach the damned tank with melta charges. Tyon on my mark we run towards this rubble, we wait there till he approaches and blast him to pieces. Brother Pratio you take two of our wounded Battle brothers and retreat along with humans to point epsilon” ordered Troenor pointing towards two heavily wounded Astartes: Galash and Fohan.

Brief confirmation reached his ears from all the Battle-Brothers. Everyone knew their place.

Sergeant Troenor together with Brother Tyon approached tall cover of a downed building rubble , that seem to be a canteen in the past. They hid behind high pile of what was once a wall of the main guest room and awaited the approach of Leman Russ. Just as they were preparing for the run towards the rear of the tank that has passed their location. A soldier in the uniform of traitor imperial guard regiment closed in on their location. Troenor heard him before he crossed behind a wall and, when the soldier came into view he was stabbed with a combat knife through his face. He didn’t have time to scream and warn his comrades of hidden Astartes.

Troenor and Tyon ensured that their position is not compromised, begun to run towards the back of Leman Russ with melta charges. Then to their surprise, they came under inaccurate sniper fire from one of the higher levels of former hab block. Although sniper was a poor marksman, the shoots alerted Leman Russ crew and tank started to tilt on its axis towards the sudden danger. Before Astartes made it to the tank side (since it has already turned a bit) to plant meltas, Leman Russ’es sponson mounted heavy bolter tore Sergeant Troenor head apart from his body with a salvo surprisingly precise enough, that was aimed at Marine’s neck join. Sergeant fell in an instant and never moved again.

Tyon, who was an experienced veteran instantly picked up sergeants melta charge and together with his own, planted them both on the tank’s engine vents and jumped away, sprinting behind nearest cover.

Few seconds later, last serious threat to the defenders was blasted to pieces in melta explosion.

The blast radios managed to embrace Brother Tyon, leaving him wounded but alive.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ western battlezone +++

Diving from the air, Corymbus landed with a loud thud on the top casing of Chimera command vehicle like a bird of prey. Instantly he started to rip armour plates apart with his power claws. It took him 4 blows to “open up” the Chimera and look through his blood red visor lenses towards the frightened-to-death traitor Colonel.

-“Colonel Marton, you have deviated from the path of righteousness and fallen away from Emperors light. I hereby sentence you to death!” Proclaimed towering Angel of Death. It was the last thing both the Colonel and the rest of the crew have seen and heard in their lives, as the carnage that followed was too fast to be observed with human eyes.

And so did the assault on the St. Ahra Sanctuary end. With blood and death on both sides of the conflict, yet the defenders emerged victorious due to the decapitation of enemy force thanks to the execution of command personnel of the regiment that besieged holy place. Remaining traitor forces that managed to flee the ruins of the city, headed north towards the encircled refinery of promethium, to join with other renegade forces.

+++ Ahra Primus Settlement +++

+++ Sanctuary building complex +++

In the main chapel of the Sanctuary three bodies clad in green power armour lied on the marble floor among crushed pieces of stained-glass windows destroyed by the heavy shelling of the building.

Over them stood three other figures clad in the same green power armour.

-“They have not died in vain, Commander. And their geneseed, miraculously but nevertheless, can be recovered.” Stated apothecary Otis.

-“You have my thanks Otis. As to the fallen, they shall be forever remembered in the halls of glory upon the deck of “Sword of Zegul”.” Proclaimed Corymbus.

-“Troenor was a hardened veteran, Chapter will grieve his loss” stated sergeant Olvyi.

-“As were Brother Atrion and Brother Borgas” added apothecary Otis

-“Indeed Otis, indeed. They will be missed but their legacy, Thank the Emperor, will leave on! Now we need to prepare for the arrival of the rest of our fleet. We cannot assault the second enemy battlegroup but we can maintain watch in here. Sergeant Olvyi you are from now on in command of this city. Make sure it never falls in enemy hands again. I and the remnants of squad Troenor will return to the orbit, apothecary Otis you will join me. Some of Troenor battle brothers need your attention, I heard Brother Tyon lost his hand in melta discharge while destroying the Leman Russ Executioner tank. He will need a bionic replacement. Also I will order Techmarine Grash to come down to planet surface and help you Olvyi with reinforcing this position.” Ordered Corymbus.

Acknowledgements were issued and veteran sergeant walked towards the awaiting Thunderhawk that will take him back to his ship.

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