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The Blind Spot Fiasco

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The lone space marine knelt at the center of a circular room, head bowed low in penitence. Around him, twelve hooded figures stood in twelve alcoves dug into the walls, indistinguishable from one another by virtue of the darkness obfuscating their features. Indeed, so immobile they stood, only the rustle of cloth and the whispers amidst one another marked them out as men and not statues. All light was focused on the Dark Angel at the center, marking him out as the center of attention. A thirteenth figure walked out of the darkness and a step into the light. For a space marine, he was a head shorter than average, but bore himself as one several times his size. The accused glanced up at the Supreme Grandmaster, and felt a mingle of hope for himself, the Chapter, and indeed the whole of Mankind... And the guilt over the events that led him to this position, stinging all the more painfully just as he gazed away from his accusing eyes.


"Azrael Tertius. You stand before this brotherhood as a man accused. Your crimes, negligent misconduct, brigandism and unsanctioned assault upon allies in the field. Directly responsible are you for the loss of your battle-brothers' lives and venerable wargear, and the plummeting of relations with the Crimson Fists Chapter, scions of Dorn with whom the Lion swore an oath of eternal friendship upon the fields of Holy Terra." Grandmaster Azrael stared daggers at his homonym, the only thing in his bearing that was anything but ceremonial detachment. "Do you wish to challenge any of these accusations?"


Tertius slowly rose his head to face the Grandmaster's composed figure. He half-expected the little creature that followed him around at his side, but did not find it. A sad hole he had dug for himself, that his mind drifted to such distractions rather than answer his liege's question. "No, not as such... It is true that I have.. contributed to such a shameful note in our Chapter's history but... I consider myself partly a victim of circumstance, my Lord."


"Victim of circumstance!" A sharp voice hissed out viciously from 3 o'clock. "Not only a fool and an embarrassment, you now seek to pay your decriminalization with self-pity! We should wrench out his head and send it to Kantor as payment for his Librarian!" The whispers increased in volume, enough that Tertius' audition could finally pick up on bits and pieces. The overall majority of them were in agreement with the sentiment expressed by whom he strongly suspected was Asmodai. "It falls onto me to make that fatal a call." Azrael turned his head to the speaker for such a moment, staring into the darkness and silencing the whispers in the room. He focused back onto the center of the room after a time. "Though I must admit, your opening statement has not helped your case in any significant amount. Explain."


Tertius swallowed a bilious mouthful of saliva. How to explain that which bore such a grounding on the ridiculous and the absurd? "My Lord... Our transports had broken down by way of what the xenos dubbed 'kallytropzies dat boom'. As we were operating away from the main body of the force, we sought to procure technical aid from the nearby Crimson Fists." A voice from 5 o'clock interrupted him. "We know all of this from your after-action report, as well as your lame justifications for your offensive. For the sake of abbreviating your account of events, you declared the Fists made 'a gross lapse of identification.' Does that confer?"


"Yes, I was just about to explain-"


"How you wasted resources on pillaging Imperials?" Hissed out Master 3 o'clock.


"They mistook us for Orkz!" Blurted out Tertius, in impatient indignation at the barrage of accusations. The room stood in sepulchral silence at the revelation. In front of him, Azrael blinked slowly, but otherwise maintained his composure. "Narrate events. Leave no detail out."




Two dozen green-clad armored soldiers strode across the gravel-strewn ground of Emoticon IV, once the shining pearl of subsector Theme. Azrael Tertius, or Azzykins as he had once been called by an unnervingly cheeky Ordo Xenos Inquisitor during his time in the Deathwatch, could not shake off the idea that he had been in such a situation a hundred times before. As sure as Tyranids were attracted to the Astronomicon, Orkz, Chaos and every damn blighter in the galaxy that was not a pure, Imperial untainted human felt attracted to shining pearls of subsectors. What was life like for a.. ruler of a subsector, he wondered. Did they have a chrono counting down the time they could afford living in their spires, surrounded by pleasure servitors and lavish meals, just before a catastrophe of some kind descended onto their lands and they fled to another subsector, politicking their way into repeating the cycle?


"Contact, half a click east. Crimson Fists." The report delivered by comm from the Astartes right to his left shook him off his introspection. He was always given to such indulgences, and had to consciously strain himself not to muse on the irony of vox communication with someone right beside him.  It probably had to do with security issues, although there was no one nearby that-




"Stop." Azrael demanded. For the first time since the trial had begun, his composure broke into one of impatience. "Why are you blabbering about inanities? Have you an inkling of your situation?"


"You told me not to leave one detail out, my Lord?" The silence in the chamber was deafening. It was broken when someone at 7 o'clock broke out into a coughing fit. It sounded awfully like the Master of the Hunt that one time he choked on a grox knuckle bone in the last Feast of Malediction.


Azrael stared passively at Master 7 o'cough, apparently channeling the Emperor's Mercy and putting a stop to whatever nefarious malady had fallen down upon him. "Continue, but leave out inane rambles."




"They don't seem to be replying to our hails, Tertius." Spoke Apothecary Dannael, at one time his comrade in the Deathwatch. "Attempting to switch to standard Imperial encryption." The marine fiddled with his helmet, which produced a string of electronic babble. After a moment's pause, he shook his head. "Still nothing. Their comms seem to be blocked."


As most veteran member, and field commander of the squads in the area, it fell on Tertius to decide on the course of action. He turned to the standard bearer, Malfegor. His banner bore the semblance of an angel of legend firing a boltgun into the skies, against a background of stylized flames. Certainly a distinguishing symbol of the Chapter. "Hold up that pole and swing it to get their attention. The rest of you, external feedback. We'll call out to them."


And so they did, shouting that they would be coming towards them, swinging their banner as they advanced against the setting sun. No soul could have predicted what happened next; a pair of twin beams of blue light struck the ground inches away from Tertius and the remainder of the company veterans. "By the Lion's golden locks! Have they gone mad!?" Shouted Dannael. "Assume battle positions!" Shouted Tertius. "Force commander, perhaps their armory malfunctions extend to their autose-" Shouted a green marine, moments before a krak missile obliterated his torso.


Tertius' vision went red, in no small amount due to the bloody mist spraying every which way from the chunks of marine flying wildly across the field. "Squad Alpha, take position upon the hill. Fire a retaliatory krak upon the north-most Razorback. Squads Beta, Zeta and Jones, assume formation: merciless fustigation." The remaining three squads formed around their impromptu command squad, preparing themselves to fire upon all that came within range. "Beta squad, fire upon the south-most APC. Remaining missiles, frags. All fire!"


Alpha's krak missile flew straight and true onto the fuselage of its target, delivering its payload straight into the innards of the machine. The detonation bent its hollowed out armor into a mockery of a starfish, just as it spread the mangled remains of the engine all around it. Beta's missile was slightly less devastating, merely yanking off its target's turret. The remaining frags scattered far and wide, eliciting an equal share of prayers of redemption and ill-words regarding the armorers. Both sides stood still for a time, after the exchange.


"Perhaps they realize their folly now." Tertius spoke aloud. The answer came in the form of a whistling sound from above, raising quickly in volume, and eliciting a dreadful foreboding in the hearts of the Dark Angels. They all knew that sound: the fall of a drop pod. The Fists had dropped pods on them. It slammed deafeningly into the ground, pushing a crater into the surface. A cloud of dust prevented the contents from being ascertained by sight, but the all too familiar stomping of Dreadnought feet gave a clue as to what had joined the fray. "All squads, fire kraks upon the Dreadnought!" All squads reported negative, citing the pod blocking line of sight. "Squad Zeta, destroy it in melee!"


Veteran Sergeant Mannael took one second to acknowledge the order. "Zeta is to go into melee with the target, confirm."


"Confirmed Zeta."


The sergeant's voice grew stronger in turn, revving up his chainsword audibly for no discernable reason, as far as Tertius could make out. "Zeta is to go into melee with the target, confirm!"


"Obey your orders, Sergeant!"


A freakish blurt of static sounded moments before Mannael acknowledged the order, vaguely reminiscent of a sigh. "For the Lion..." The squad charged through the dust cloud, readying its krak grenades. A dreadnought was a hard opponent to take down to be sure, but with sufficient grit... The first Angel running into the fray dodged a hastily fired melta blast, and hurled its grenade into the foe's legs. attempting to cripple its mobility so that the squad would rip it apart. His zeal dampened considerably when he realized the nature of their foe. This was no mere dreadnought. This was an ironclad.


++Green... Orkz everywhere...++ The deathless machine-coffin blurted out, somehow managing to sound punch drunk through its standard issue speakers. ++Ripping me apart... Retribution now... RETRIBUTION NOW!++ "The pilot has gone mad!" Mannael shouted out, realizing the conundrum of his situation as the rain of krak grenade detonations made little more than superficial dents in its armor. ++I am not mad! You are mad! Mad with heresy!++ The engine swung a haymaker with its power fist, catching two marines and splattering their liquefied insides out through gaping dents on their power armor.


The remaining Fists seemed content to watch from afar, having positioned themselves away from the numerically superior Angels. The latter had begun to focus fire on the pod, desperate to establish line of sight with the dreadnought. Perhaps it was anxiety unbecoming of the Adeptus Astartes, or perhaps fate had simply arbitrated that they fail. Regardless, as the missile operators hastily reloaded their weapons, a second drop pod made planet fall. "They have to be jesting..." Tertius muttered, forgetting that he had set his comms to external feedback. The second pod landed with as much noise, but less dusty fanfare than its predecessor, disgorging yet another ironclad into the Dark Angel lines.


"Squad Jones!" Tertius addressed the closest to the newcomer. "Krak payload on the enemy! All remaining squads, repeat if at all possible!" His own squad illustrated the alternative by sending a volley of krak grenades at the second obscuring pod. For a Chapter that had gross issues maintaining its wargear, the Crimson Fists built their pods well, for after half a dozen grenades and a missile, it remained structurally sound. On the other hand, Jones' missile had bounced off the ironclad's armor, flying off into the sky in spiral patterns before detonating in the air. ++You are green! That means you have green guts! RIP AND TEAR!++ It called out. Apparently senility was a constant amidst Kantor's surviving dreadnought fleet.


Twice it showered a member of squad Jones with its melta, and twice the man survived, despite the melting ceramite across his arms and torso roasting his living flesh. "The Lion shields me! All your efforts are futi-" He did not survive its enraged bullcharge, however. His sizzling corpse flew across the battlefield and beyond the hill where Alpha stood, landing with the sound of cracking spinal cord as it impacted head first with the ground. The rest of the squad steeled themselves to wage battle with the loyalist monstrosity. On their end, Zeta was grimly resolved to fight to the bitter end, using kraks and harsh language against their enemy, and trying to dodge its careless swings. Spurred on by sergeant Mannael, they ignored the fate of those unlucky to be caught by the enemy and tortuously torn apart, their innards beginning to form a pool of blood and viscera on the ground. Tertius realized the situation was untenable. His force simply was not prepared to deal with the ironclads at such close distances.


"Squads Alpha, Beta. We rally eastwards." And towards the Fists holding their ground. "Zeta, Jones. Tie up the dreadnoughts as long as possible." He could not save them. But he could avenge them. Their leader's judgement error had proved costly in the lives of his brothers. He would play the blood debt, no matter how much the toll grew. And it grew, as more and more of his brothers were torn apart by the senile iron beasts.


The Fists closed in themselves, and opened up with a volley of bolt, plasma and missile that tore apart half of squad Beta. Undaunted, the Dark Angels set up their own firing base whilst under a harrowing rain of projectiles. It did not matter to them. Vengeance was theirs. "All squads, fire!" The survivors of the squads let out a staggeringly voluminous volley of bolt shells, bathing the Fists and the Librarian leading them in murderous retribution. The force dome cast by the treacherous psyker availed them of little, the constant rain of fire proving superior to his willpower. Just as a chorus of bolters clicking empty sang across the Angels' gunline, two missiles streaked towards the dead and dying squad, finishing off whomever remained. It was the requiem Tertius' fallen comrades had earned.


The battlefield felt silent. Or rather, as slient as a pair of dreadnoughts exchanging half-remembered, half-true anecdotes of former campaigns amidst a pile of Astartes offal in the distance could be. The surviving tactical marines from the Crimson Fists Chapter stared dumbfounded at Tertius' men, the sheer magnitude of their mistake sinking in. Tertius stared at them impassively. How he desired to cut apart the rest of them! But, the Chapter had suffered enough to a misunderstanding. And besides, he still had his original goal to attain. "Stay here." He told the rest of his veterans.


Marching impassively towards the surviving Razorback, he drew his sword. "Can you hear me now, knaves?" He shouted at the Fists. "I had come to seek your assistance, and you answered with fire. You have lost the moral ground, and your leader, and as such I will take the spoils of victory." And he began hacking away at the tracks on the vehicle. "We require new threads for our vehicles." Tertius grunted with exertion, delivering his speech as he painstakingly carved out the parts the Orkz' trap had damaged. "And your armory will provide."




Azrael was silent as the man in front of him delivered his account of events. The ambiguous nature of the complaint filed by the Crimson Fists made sense now; no Chapter would admit committing such a grossly idiotic mistake. "He does not lie. I would know otherwise." Ezekiel's voice echoed through the chamber from his position in the Alcove of the Ninth Hour. Tradition demanded the fastest to accuse spoke in the early hours, and the wisest reserve their judgement for later. It had caused a fair degree of puzzlement that Ezekiel was merely number nine, when he first learnt of the Rite of Judgement.


"Azrael Tertius. This conclave shall retire for the time being to adjudicate a punishment fitting of your sins. Retire thyself to the solitude of your cell."

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It was a somber procession. The eleven marines stood in parade formation and marched outside the disembarkation ramp of the thunderhawk in eerie silence. A deadly silence, for not only had they lost nine battle brothers but also brother Zimon one of the most gifted librarians, and in a sense a symbol of hope for a dying chapter such as theirs.

In contrast to them, the thudding of the strained servo motors accompanying the two dreadnaughts stepping in behind them was the only indication, that something might have been alive on the deck of the strike cruiser.

At the head of the procession the sergeant lifted his helm and mag locked it on his waist. His face, patrician and yet somehow full of grit. Not a single scar crisscrossed him despite been one of the most ancient warriors of the chapter. The sergeant left his brothers to continue their march and immediately broke with them, turning to face the man that had awaited for him.

--'Captain Alvaro'. Were the only words the sergeant could only speak in a lamented form of greeting. It was the first time Alvaro, captain of the 5th company had seen his sergeant teary eyed, pale and unable to look him in the eye. Clearly the man was about to collapse!
He had fought on Rynns world aside the chapter master himself and all he had on his lips was a joke, even though they were surrounded and outgunned.
He had fought the Tyranids on Pressius XII on a rear guard action that was more or less a suicide mission and all he could mumble was about some frikin techpriests and why they would not create an effective bug spray.
And about the buttocks of that eldar farseer, though it earned them a good laugh, it also earned them a week of solitude in their cells for daring to even speak such heresies. Never mind that they had heard Cantror himself laugh his guts out.

--'Sergeant...Just...What happened down there?'

Before he could finish his words a loud CLANG! broke their conversation. It came from the direction of the two dreadnaughts. Alvaro turning his sights their way could not restrain himself, he was holding his face on his palm. His eyes could not have registered that sight. It cannot be true. Dreadnaughts....DREADNAUGHTS BRO FISTING!?!?!?!?!?!?! By the golden throne what was happening to this outfit?

--I KILLED 6!!!!!!
--I KILLED 8!!!!!!








Captain Alvaro could take no more:
--'Esteemed brothers, if you would please...The techmarines are awaiting for you in the armory of the cruiser. They will anoint you and cleanse your hulls from the fluids of the...foul xenos...if you please....

--WOOOT!!!!!!OIL BATH!!!!!!



And with that, the two behemoths clanging and thudding took their leave.

--'It seems I don't need to ask much sergeant... They saw the Dark Angels green armor and charged them gun-ho, thinking they are Orks... That is obvious. Malakai and Cortez are completely senile. What I want to know is why the librarian, may he rest at the emeperos side, conducted the strike cruiser and had us launch them on their position. But enough of this for now. Take your warriors to the shrine and contemplate what happened here today. Then rest.
We will be moving to the command barge in 4 hours, the chapter master wishes to debrief you. I am just glad that most of you came back alive'.

++++++Four hours later aboard the flagship++++++

--'So sergeant', the chapter master squared his jaw turning his sights on a nearby viewing port looking at the vastness of space, turning his back at his guests and crossing his arms on his back, 'If I am to understand correctly, your vox chanels were completely blurred and all you could get through the static was gnarling and snarling.'
--'Yes my lord'
--'Then Zimons opened a chanel with the fleet and requested we drop the dreads.' Using his left hand he began massaging his temples as if trying to cast off a numbing feeling. 'How could he send a signal to the fleet when he could not conduct the Dark Angels two kilometers away?'
--'To say I know, would be a lie my lord. All I know is that he somehow did, and as soon as he did my squad was ordered to take position in the trenches the guard had dug out previously and so we did. Most of the time we did not participate in the fighting except brother Fransisco who had range with his missile launcher.'
--Closing his eyes the chapter master asked bluntly: 'Who fired first?'
To be answered even more bluntly: 'Them, but....'
--'We had already launched the dreadnaughts sir. They were cutting them down'.

With a loud sigh, the chapter master exhaled his breath. The two dreadnaughts were completely senile, but circumstances were forcing their deployment more and more these days. After all not a single warrior of the chapter could afford to not take up arms. Their numbers and equipment were greatly diminished, but through courage and sacrifice one day the chapter will be rebuild. Even if that sacrifice means sending completely addled dreadnaughts that can no longer tell friend from foe to the field.

--'And... How do they call their captains...Ah yes company masters. And their company master, after the fighting took out his powersword and cut down the treads of the surviving razorback you say?'
--'If only... Company master Azzakyns...I will never forget that face. He had us hand him every bolter and missile round, he ordered his men to remove the capacitors from the razorback (without an accompanying techmarine to oversee the process mind you) in order to convert it into a rhino for his command squad, flagged their standard atop it, AND THEN he realized that it could not move because it had no treads! Then not loosing any time he removed every ounce of fuel and had his men carry the deposits and proceeded to leave. All the while cursing the upstart second founding chapters and something about a legion and that after helping us with our campaign we mistreated them. Honestly I didn't react not out of fear or respect for him and his rank, but it was the first time in my life that I could not fathom what was happening. My mind had gonne blank, my left eye was twitching. All I could do is see that madman cutting out the razorbacks trends and shout and then turn my gaze on the body parts that was the librarian and his squad. I swear that if it wasn't for the Dark Angel apothecary to hand me the geneseed of our fallen brothers, which somehow snapped me back to reality I might as well have been there still.'

As soon as the sergeant finished his retelling of the accounts for the tenth time Pedro Cantor, Chapter master of the Crimson fists turned to face his guests.

--'I think I heard enough.' The chapter masters hands were twitching.'The fact that you returned fire and launched those two damned dreadnaughts was not your fault'. Of this we can be sure, as both your accounts and the logs above the strike cruiser seem to converge on a single truth'.
--'The logs on the strike crui...'
By raising his hand the Chapter master immediately silenced the sergeant who spoke out of turn.
--'Given the circumstances you and your men performed as expected. However... You are to be handed to the librarium for purity tests'
--'But my lord...'
--'Sergent listen.' The chapter master took a sitting on a nearby bench. 'Librarian Zimons never deployed with you on Emoticon IV.'
--'Librarian Zimons died above an Ork vessel three days ago on boarding action ensuring we dismantled the killcruzer. What was leading you down there...If the astropaths and the PDF psikers are to be believed there is a warp portal down the planet. It appears that somehow a deamon has not only taken the Librarians place but has also fumbled with our logs. We are under moral threat and all our present forces will undergo....'

As the sudden realization hit the sergeant of what had happened, a small turbulence in the warp was felt by the Crimson fist navigator aboard the strike cruiser. It was but for an instant.

The small creature overhearing this conversation, traversing the paths of the warp could not hold down a bit of maniacal laughter. He had been posing as others since the first minutes of its existence. Such was the will of Lord Tzeentch, that it would manipulate the species of this galaxy. He had preformed his work in untold melenia but even so when its plans were falling into place, could not hold an ounce of excitement. What was the kill tally of barely two dozen marines over a conflict destined to reap a more substantial prize? Nothing....Or so it seemed. Tzeentchs plans are infinite and not even it, his greatest creation could fathom everything...A crack was created between the two chapters, a crack that will wide farther and....

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