Sacrifice of the Angels by Jacob
were getting closer. There was no
doubt about that now. Sammael
risked a glance around the fallen section of masonry that had toppled from the
mighty vaulted ceiling above him. Smoke
drifted silently across the trail that he and his squad had just climbed, and
curled into leering spectres of death that spiralled before his eyes.
In the distance the chilling bark of bolter fire echoed around the
crumbling remains of the Imperial palace. The
Dark Angel withdrew and rejoined his men. They numbered but five now – five of the thirty that had
left Grand Master Azrael’s side in an effort to check the chaos advance
through a breached gatehouse in the western wall.
had been ten days since the first attacks by Abaddon’s forces had smashed
through the loyalist’s front line, tearing asunder mighty walls that had stood
impervious since the end of the first Heresy.
Since that time Sammael and his force had been fighting a desperate
rearguard action to allow their brothers the time to fortify their position, and
prepare for the final defence. The
palace about them lay in ruins. The
constant bombardment of the Banelords had levelled vast stretches of ornate
gothic architecture, and had transformed the once mighty structures into a maze
of rubble, that only served to cover the advance of the traitor legions.
Now, in the ruins of a once sacred basilica to the Emperor, Sammael knew
that they would meet the enemy for the last time.
traitors approach,” Sammael stated calmly.
“They must be held here. If
the basilica is taken, the road to our brothers will lay open.”
He turned to a veteran marine clad in pitted terminator armour. His left shoulder pad bore the mark of a librarian, and he
held in one armoured glove a force sword. “Brother
Zamiel may we expect aid?”
lifted his hood to reveal a scarred face, lined with the experience of an age of
warfare. For a moment his eyes took
on a faraway look, as if he were elsewhere, before focusing once again on
Sammael. “The advance parties of
the Ravenwing have fallen to the heathen, their sacrifice has enabled our
honoured brothers in the Deathwing to fall back to the last perimeter.
We will not receive their aid. “
nodded. “Then we shall meet the
Emperor alone.” He surveyed the
three other marines before him. The
two terminators at his command met his gaze, devotion and determination in their
eyes. Uriel, his ash-white armour
smeared with the blood of the traitor marines he had slain, loaded a new clip
into his storm bolter and turned away to ready himself for the final battle.
Boreas held his Master’s gaze a second longer before lowering his
assault cannon and kneeling before the cracked altar of the basilica,
genuflecting before the master of all mankind.
The final marine’s face was the grinning skull of an interrogator
chaplain. Sammael lowered his power sword and knelt beside Boreas.
“Brother Nestor,” he addressed the chaplain, “will you lead us in
the mass of battle for the last time?”
holstered his bolt pistol and spoke, his mighty voice reverberating around the
remains of the basilica; “We are the Emperor’s wrath!
Let the blood of the unclean act as an offering to the Lion!”
the chaplain completed the first line of the Dark Angel’s battle hymn Zamiel
turned, his eyes calm, but strangely alive, “The minions of hell are upon
had barely regained his feet when he heard the approach of the traitor marines.
They made no effort to disguise their advance.
Their guttural voices pierced the calm that had settled over the marines
as they knelt before the Emperor. As
their bolter shells bit into the stone of the building, Sammael knew hatred. What right had those that had fallen from the light of the
Emperor to desecrate his world? What
right had they to tear down what he had built, and what had been built in his
name? A clarity he had never known
settled upon him. He saw the
approaching marines advance towards his position, their power armour twisted and
corrupted by the gods of chaos, their helms covered in vile iconography and the
horns of daemons. He saw his men
caught in a momentary beam of Terran sunlight that had broken the dark clouds
above them, and behind them he saw the shadow of the Angel of Death, a halo
playing about its cowled head.
drew his power sword and lifted his bolter. Instantly brother Nestor was beside him, his eyes burning red
through his helm’s visor. His
robes swirled about him as though the chaplain was alone caught in a storm of
the Emperor’s wrath, and energy arced around his crozius. Zamiel, his hood once again covering his head, took up
position in front of the altar flanked by brother Uriel. Boreas, his face an impassive mask, donned his helm and
brought his mighty assault cannon to bear.
the first traitor stepped foot within the basilica Sammael uttered his battle
cry, “Dark Angels! Onward for The
Lion and The Emperor!” The
traitor legionaries, aware for the first time of the proximity of their foes,
wheeled to face their assault. With
a peal of thunder Boreas opened fire with the assault cannon.
The front ranks of the traitor marines disappeared in a hail of righteous
fire, unable to escape the Deathwing’s retribution.
Seizing the initiative, Sammael and Nestor charged.
Sammael saw nothing now but those that had slain the lord of humanity,
the kind that had sullied the honour of his chapter.
A shell struck his ornamented shoulder pad, and he turned his gaze upon
the traitor that had dared to fire upon the Emperor’s chosen.
Raising his sword, he cut the marine in two and blew its visor apart with
a short burst of bolter fire. In
front of him he saw the form of Nestor locked in combat with a chaos terminator.
What once must have been revered as a relic of the Emperor’s might, was
now a hideous mockery of its former glory.
Gargoyles leered from the marine’s shoulder pads and the helm had
somehow twisted into the image of a horned daemon. The abomination swung its chain axe ponderously at the
chaplain, who nimbly ducked and came up behind his assailant. With a roar of fury, Nestor brought his crozius arcanum down
upon the traitor’s helm, tearing it apart in a flash of energy.
whirled as a super-heated ball of plasma seared the air, and moved besides
Boreas. The terminator’s helmet
was streaked with blood and the crux upon his right shoulder had been blown
apart. He caught a glimpse of
Zamiel and Uriel behind them, maintaining their position before the altar.
A number of the traitor marines had broken past Sammael and now
approached the two Dark Angels. In that instant, reality slowed for Sammael.
The figure of Zamiel seemed to grow in stature as the enemy closed in
around him and Uriel. The
librarian’s force sword crackled with barely suppressed energy and beneath his
hood his eyes had turned snow white. Sammael suddenly became aware of a low noise building around
him, growing steadily within the confines of the basilica. For a moment he thought that the structure was shaking under
the strain of weapon’s fire, or the approach of a titan, but he suddenly
recognised it to be the voice of the librarian, barely more than a growl, but
growing in volume and power. In his
hand Zamiel held an ancient tome and the emblem of the broken sword upon its
leather-bound cover shone with a divine light.
side-stepped as a traitor marine thrust at him and effortlessly decapitated the
prone figure. Still the voice of
Zamiel grew, and the words became clear. “And from the
darkness came light. The light of
redemption. The light of Purity.
The light of the Emperor and of his children.”
Sammael’s mind swam with visions of the glory of his chapter and of the
sacrifices of the Emperor and the Lion. To
his left Boreas, his assault cannon spent, ran through a traitor marine with his
honour dagger. “And
of his children we were born. Angels
of vengeance. Bringers of salvation
to the innocent. Bringers of death
to the unclean.” Next to
Zamiel, Uriel’s stormbolter flared brightly, casting harsh shadows over the
terminator’s face and hurling another foe to the floor.
“Stand before us and face the
wrath of the Lion!”
chaos marines had begun to pour into the basilica now, attracted by the din of
battle. Sammael dispatched another
legionary and heard the click of his bolter as it put forth the final round.
Beside him he heard the crash of Boreas being knocked to the ground.
The marine’s armour had been split by a plasma blast. Wielding his blade two-handed he tried to reach his fallen
comrade, but was pushed back by the swell of chaos marines.
“Borne forth on the wings of
Death!” The broken image of
his battle-brother was suddenly surrounded by the blessed Watchers.
They moved silently, clad in the robes of the order, capped by golden
halos. The slain Dark Angel was lifted amidst the maelstrom of fire,
his body seemingly impervious against his foes.
appeared beside Sammael, his power armour glistening with the blood of the
enemy. Together they stood against
the black tide. Zamiel’s voice
swelled around them filling them with strength, “Upon the field of battle, we stalk the heretic!”
Nestor lunged forward, burying his crozius deep in the chest of a
legionary and blowing the eyes out of its visor with his bolt pistol.
With a vicious twist he sent the traitor marine spinning away, blood
leaking from its ruined armour. Another
rose to face the interrogator. With
a blow augmented by daemonic energy Nestor was sent sprawling back, his crozius
arcanum shattered. As Sammael leapt
to his aid the chaplain fell, his rosarius held aloft, his skull mask split by
the daemonic blade. Sammael fell
back besides Uriel. “We are the retribution of Right!”
Zamiel’s words split the air. Sammael
turned. A nimbus of light played
around the librarian’s head and the image of the Angel of Death hovered around
storm of shells swept the altar, knocking Sammael and Uriel to the ground.
Sammael reached over to Uriel, but the terminator had been torn apart.
Struggling to stand, he hauled himself towards Zamiel.
The librarian had moved forward to confront the chaos marines, his force
sword and book held aloft. Something
thudded into Sammael’s breast-plate and he fell back.
“And on the day of judgement,”
Zamiel’s words thundered now, “Look
upon me and realise your doom!”
With blurred eyes Sammael saw Zamiel cut down three traitor marines with a mighty sweep of his force sword and send another sprawling with an armoured boot. The Watchers flanked the librarian now, surrounding him on all sides. Sammael felt himself lifted off the ground as he was borne to the Emperor. Struggling futilely to return to the aid of the librarian he saw the traitor marines surge forward. As they met the Dark Angel, Zamiel exploded in a pillar of fire. Blue flames shot from his outstretched hands, incinerating the enemies of the Emperor and curling around the pillars of the basilica. With a bass rumbling, the building rocked. Through the darkness Sammael saw Zamiel step back, a grim smile on his face. The librarian knelt, head bowed before the altar, strangely invulnerable before the sections of masonry that had begun to tumble down. As the life faded from Sammael’s body, the roof caved in atop the enemies of the Emperor, burying them and the Angels of Death beneath.