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Ravenor 2. Ravenor Returned 3. Ravenor Rogue Ravenor: The Omnibus omnibus The commander agreed, but ordered the speartip forwards into assault range. The intent was 9 Horus Rising clear: one hand extended open, in peace, the other held ready as a fist.
The Flight of the Eisenstein
If the second embassy failed, or was similarly met with violence, then the fist would already be in position to strike. And Loken himself. At the order, battle musters began. The ships of the speartip slipped forward, running under obscurement. On board, stormbirds were hauled onto their launch carriages. Weapons were issued and certified. Oaths of moment were sworn and witnessed.
Luna Wolves (Sons of Horus)
Armour was machined into place around the anointed bodies of the chosen. In silence, tensed and ready to be unleashed, the speartip watched as the shuttle convoy bearing Maloghurst and his envoys arced down towards the third planet. Surface batteries smashed them out of the heavens. Six hundred warships, revealed and armed for war. This fool imposter will not listen. That order not withstanding, avenge the blood of my noble Sejanus.
The phototropic towers of the High City, built to turn and follow the sun with their windows during the day, shifted uneasily at the pulsating radiance in the heavens.
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Spectral shapes swam high in 10 Dan Abnett the upper atmosphere: ships engaging in a swirling mass, charting brief, nonsensical zodiacs with the beams of their battery weapons. At ground level, around the wide, basalt platforms that formed the skirts of the palace, gunfire streamed through the air like horizontal rain, hosing coils of tracer fire that dipped and slithered heavily like snakes, die-straight zips of energy that vanished as fast as they appeared, and flurries of bolt shells like blizzarding hail.
Downed stormbirds, many of them crippled and burning, littered twenty square kilometres of the landscape. Black, humanoid figures paced slowly in across the limits of the palace sprawl. They were shaped like armoured men, and they trudged like men, but they were giants, each one hundred and forty metres tall. The Mechanicum had deployed a half-dozen of its Titan war engines. The Luna Wolves surged like the surf of the wave, thousands of gleaming white figures bobbing and running forward across the skirt platforms, detonations bursting amongst them, lifting rippling fireballs and trees of dark brown smoke.
Each blast juddered the ground with a gritty thump, and showered down dirt as an after-curse. Assault craft swept in over their heads, low, between the shambling frames of the wide-spaced Titans, fanning the slowly lifting smoke clouds into sudden, energetic vortices. Every Astartes helmet was filled with vox-chatter: snapping voices, chopping back and forth, their tonal edges roughened by the transmission quality. There had been skirmishes and scraps, but nothing testing. The greenskin had been a pernicious and resilient foe, but they had broken his back and kicked over the embers of his revel fires.
The commander had won the field through the employment of his favourite, practiced strategy: the speartip thrust to tear out the throat. Ignoring the greenskin masses, which had outnumbered the crusaders five to one, the commander had struck directly at the Overlord and his command coterie, leaving the enemy headless and without direction. The same philosophy operated here. Tear out the throat and let the body spasm and die.
Loken and his men, and the war engines that supported them, were the edge of the blade unsheathed for that purpose.
But this was not like Ullanor at all. No thickets of mud and clay-built ramparts, no ramshackle fortresses of bare metal and wire, no black powder air bursts or howling ogre-foes. This was not a barbaric brawl determined by blades and upper body strength. This was modern warfare in a civilised place. This was man against man, inside the monolithic precincts of a cultured people. The enemy possessed ordnance and firearms every bit the technological match of the Legio forces, and the skill and training to use them. Through the green imaging of his visor, Loken saw armoured men with energy weapons ranged against them in the lower courses of the palace.
He saw tracked weapon carriages, automated artillery; nests of four or even eight automatic cannons shackled together on cart platforms that lumbered forward on hydraulic legs. Not like Ullanor at all. That had been an ordeal. This would be a test. Equal against equal. Like against like. Except that for all its martial technologies, the enemy lacked one essential quality, and that quality was locked within each and every case of Mark IV power armour: the genetically enhanced flesh and blood of the Imperial Astartes.
Modified, refined, post-human, the Astartes were superior to anything they 12 Dan Abnett had met or would ever meet. No fighting force in the galaxy could ever hope to match the Legions, unless the stars went out, and madness ruled, and lawful sense turned upside down.
The impossible was nothing to be scared of.
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The enemy — their armour a polished magenta trimmed in silver, as Loken later discovered when he viewed them with his helmet off — firmly held the induction gates into the inner palace. They were big men, tall, thick through the chest and shoulders, and at the peak of fitness. Not one of them, not even the tallest, came up to the chin of one of the Luna Wolves. It was like fighting children. Well-armed children, it had to be said. Through the billowing smoke and the jarring detonations, Loken led the veteran First Squad up the steps at a run, the plasteel soles of their boots grating on the stone: First Squad, Tenth Company, Hellebore Tactical Squad, gleaming giants in pearl-white armour, the wolf head insignia stark black on their auto-responsive shoulder plates.
The Story of Isis and Osiris
Crossfire zig-zagged around them from the defended gates ahead. The night air shimmered with the heat distortion of weapons discharge. Some kind of upright, automated mortar was casting a sluggish, flaccid stream of fat munition charges over their heads. For a dazzling half-second, a twenty-metre ribbon of light linked the muzzle of his weapon to the auto-mortar, and then the device engulfed the facade of the palace in a roasting wash of yellow flame.
Dozens of enemy soldiers were cast down by the blast. Several were thrown up into the air, landing crumpled and boneless on the flight of steps. Wildfire chipped and pattered off their armour. Loken felt the distant sting of it.