Ultan looked around to his assembled squad. Today he would lead four brothers of the 6th Veteran squad to the surface below wearing the sacred terminator armor of the chapter. Their job was to secure a forward position for the attack. The 7th Veteran squad, lead by Chaplain X, would be dropping in south of Ultan’s squad’s entry point to clear a path for the 1st Tactical squad’s Rhino to advance. Securing that forward position would allow the Fate’s Angels to hold the southern side of the city and advance to deliver the wrath of the Emperor to the Xenos race of Tau who held it. With the forward position secure, the 1st Tactical squad able to advance, the rest of the squads awaiting deployment with drop pods would hammer down and break the back of the Tau.
“Sergeant Ultan, this is Chaplain Murdacus. Prepare for immediate deployment. We’ve taken losses and our drop site is compromised.”
Ultan slowly nodded to his squad and each of the veterans nodded their readiness in return.
“Fate guide us brothers,” Ultan said over the vox.
“Fate guide us,” each veteran responded in unison.
A moment later they phased out, disappearing from the Strike Cruiser and almost immediately appearing on the planet’s surface below. Ultan had chosen to teleport deep within the Tau’s defenses, faithful that the blessed terminator armor would protect them and allow them to draw the attention of the Xenos for the southern units to move in.
Not wasting a moment the 6th squad opened fire. Their sudden arrival would catch the Tau off guard and Ultan knew that arriving so deep into their defenses would require them to utilize every second they could upon arrival to fully maximize on their surprise appearence. Brother Armiger fired off his cyclone missile launcher at the nearby Tau anti-grav tank, a Hammerhead. One of the missiles found its mark and the Hammerhead shuddered from the impact but seemed otherwise unaffected.
The squad fanned out a bit as Ultan took a second to survey their position. Their teleportation had put them deep in the middle of the Tau force, as expected, surrounded on the south and west by Crisis Suits. On a roof to the south were some troops while to the north there were two of the anti-grav tanks positioned, one of which they had fired upon once arriving. Northwest of their position were some more troops bunkered down in a ruined building. It was a tight spot for sure but that’s why he and his veterans of the 6th were brought in. The position needed to be broken and there was no better squad for doing that than veterans utilizing terminator armor.
As the sudden shock wore off, the Tau surrounding Ultan and his force wasted no time in taking aim upon the venerable Marines and returning fire. Many of the shots fired at them were stopped and deflected by the tactical dreadnought armor, however the Tau’s plasma technology was more than capable of opening up even terminator armor so the squad took what shelter they could and continued to exchange fire.
Keying up his vox on the command channel, Ultan transmitted, “This is Ultan. Our position is secure and we’re under heavy fire.”
“Affirmative. Our Rhino is almost in position now,” responded Sergeant Pontius of the 1st Tactical squad.
Suddenly Ultan saw Brother Armiger fall. The veteran’s armor covered in scorch marks and his left leg’s servo was melted from plasma fire. Ultan quickly extended a hand to aid the fallen brother to his feet who found it all but impossible to rise with the leg lacking any mobility. Taking a look to the south the sergeant saw a team of Crisis Suits advancing on their location, firing as they closed the distance. Ultan couldn’t help but grin at the sight as he unsheathed his power sword. Tau were notoriously dangerous at range while they relied upon their advanced technology, however up close they would be extremely vulnerable to the might of their power fists and Ultan’s power sword.
Voxing to his squad Ultan said, “Prepare for a charge brothers.”
The Crisis Suits fired on Ultan’s squad hoping to prevent them from advancing if not outright destroy them. The plasma shots and missiles of the Suits seemed to find a mark on every Marine, save Ultan. Ultan had never seen such force unleashed upon his squad, as not only the Crisis Suits fired upon them but also the tanks north of them and the troops surrounding them. He watched brother after brother crumple to the ground under the ferocity of fire. Two of the squad icons on Ultan’s helmet display winked out, those brothers having met their fate. A quick glance around showed the remaining members were alive but gravely injured.
“Sergeant Pontius here. Our Rhino has sustained damage and is immobile. We’re disembarking to advance north,” came over the vox.
Ultan knew that to hold their ground would be in vain. They had to head south to link up with the 1st Tactical squad and what remained of Chaplain Murdacus’ force to help the push north. Once they met up they could reclaim the forward ground but to remain would mean sure death. Though a Marine did not fear death, a Marine also had countless years of experience to guide them and the correct tactical choice was to fall back.
Armiger, one of the fallen veterans, rolled on to his back and began to slowly rise. Seconds later the other veteran began to stir. There was no time to try and rouse the Marine who appeared to be regaining consciousness so Ultan reached down and grasped his armor by a hole blown into the back of the suit.
“We will withdraw to the south and join up with our brothers there,” Ultan ordered to the one conscious Marine.
What remained of the squad began falling back towards the 1st Tactical squad’s position just south of them. Armiger limped, trying to move as fast as he could with the fused leg servo, and fired on the Tau holding the southern building as Ultan slowly dragged the other Marine with them. As they withdrew the Tau continued to unleash their firepower at them but none of those shots found any vulnerabilities. Scores of shots punched into Ultan, some causing his steps to falter and lose his grip on his brother Marine, however his armor held true as he gritted his teeth, anger taking hold.
A few minutes later Ultan’s squad was in sight of the 1st Tactical squad. They were just on the south side of the building that some Tau troops held. Carefully, Ultan positioned the still limp form of the Marine against the wall of the building, making sure he was in as secure a position as he could be. As Ultan raised himself from his task, Armiger was thrown to the ground from shots fired from an unknown location. His helmet indicated his brother had not lost his life but vital signs were weak.
Knowing nothing more could be done for his squad, Ultan opened his vox saying, “Ultan here. I have injured at my location. Moving to secure the building.”
“Acknowledged,” was the reply from Sergeant Pontius leading his Tactical squad north.
Ultan began his approach into the building with the Tactical squad gaining ground behind him. He fired up towards the roof as he was moving to enter a hole in the side of the building. Nothing was visible from his angle, none of the shots finding a target, however he was more interested in forcing the Tau to keep their heads down.
Taking shelter in the first floor of the ruined building, Ultan activated his power sword as he made ready to ascend to the roof. Just as he began towards the dangerously ruined staircase leading to the roof he was shot in his left leg. While the shot had not breached his armor, the impact had buckled his leg causing him to stagger. Ultan swung around to see two Crisis Suits closing in and taking aim. Before he had a chance to take cover the Suits unleashed a volley of missiles and plasma fire upon his position.
The shots struck Ultan with brutal force, throwing him off his feet and back into the wall beside the staircase. His helmet display was giving critical warnings regarding the armor integrity. The servos and muscle fibers in the suit were now useless, leaving Ultan unable to pick himself up in the heavy terminator armor. One of his hearts had failed and two of his lungs were completely shredded. His right leg was broken and his left arm was barely attached. All that he was able to do was fight to hold on to consciousness, which he gradually failed.
Chaplain Murdacus came upon Ultan’s form. They had secured a victory that day but the price was steep. Ultan’s charge into the building had bought valuable seconds for the 1st Tactical squad to enter the defended building from the south entrance. The two remaining veterans of the 6th had lived through the battle as a result of Ultan’s withdrawal and bravery.
As Chaplain Murdacus bent down to offer a final blessing he registered the barely visible pulse of Ultan. Ultan’s chest, as torn as it was, was visible through the gouges in the armor and was rising and falling extremely shallowly. The shock of damage done had caused him to enter a self-induced coma to try and repair the vital damage, however Murdacus knew that he was far too injured for even the remarkable healing of an Astartes to save him.
Despite the weight of the terminator armor, Chaplain Murdacus picked up Ultan from the floor and managed to sling him over his shoulder. He walked out from the ruined building to the somber looks of his brothers who were boarding the Thunderhawks for extraction. Ultan would fight on, Murdacus would see to it, only Ultan would need some time to become acquired to his new form, that of a Dreadnought.