Aquila Gate was the smallest gate in Condora City and the narrowest part of the valley. This Gate was merely a rectangular building that was held up by the valley walls. Despite serving as a Arbites and PDF base, it was barely considered a fort like Eagle Gate. The only similarity the two Gates had was an emblazoned bird on their southern and northern sides, in this case it was the two-headed Imperial Aquila. Plans to defend Aquila Gate was nonexistent. The only plan was to hold the tyranids long enough for the Imperials to continue retreating north to Condor Gate, the northern entrance to the valley and last bastion between them and the evacuation zones.
As the super-heavies reversed past Aquila Gate, the Space Marines took over.
A Lander Raider Terminus Ultra Pattern, Overwhelming Force, parked itself in the shadow of Aquila Gate. Its eight lascannons spat thick blue lasbeams that tore human-sized holes in the large bio-constructs. While Force concentrated on the larger species, Rutus, Inanis, and the Space Marines handled the rest.
A line of Space Marines stood before Aquila Gate, forming something of a firing line. Among them were Centurions and Terminators to employ their heavy weapons to thin the gaunts. Despite the heavy firepower deployed combat had reached melee range within minutes.
Inanis swept his hammer all around him. With Space Marines close by he couldn’t use the graviton energy to send out kinetic shockwave. Using his left hand to sweep the hammer around him like a broom, his right deployed the saker and burned scores of tyranids to ash.
“Blessed are those that bring righteous death to the enemies of the Emperor!” Izaac intoned as he flailed all around him with tyranids trying to close in for the kill in every direction. The high-ranking chaplain was armed with a power fist as his left hand while the right held the badge of office, the Crozius Arcanum. The head shaped as a double-headed eagle of the Imperium with a skull forming the base, it was a master crafted weapon as befitted to a reclusiarch, an energy field surrounded the head as Izaac mauled tyranids with it, shattering their bodies explosively.
Izaac spun in circles, shouting praises to the Emperor and condemnation to his enemies, as he literally flailed his arms. The energy field of the power fist and crozius made him a whirlwind of death as he crushed and shattered tyranids. The style felt wildly inappropriate as it looked more akin to someone throwing a tantrum but his blows expertly landed, never missing, and not once had an enemy been able to scratch him.
Fighting beside him was the Primaris Librarian, Kazume. Kazume towered over Izaac by at least two feet. The librarian wielded two force weapons, a spiked sword and ax. Both weapons shone a bright white light as the librarian poured his psychic might into them. The light itself was a weapon as it extended the killing range of the force weapons’ blades. While Izaac was unbridled fury, Kazume was contained fury. He slashed his weapons in killing strokes, cutting off heads, slicing bodies in halves, stabbing through heads, he did it with ease and the blades sliced through the chitin with incredible ease in silence. With the psychic light’s help, he was able to cut apart tyranids that were a foot away from the physical blades. Even after killing dozens of tyranids within range, he huffed and puffed when there was even a slight pause, shuddering for a need to kill as he approached more tyranids. Kazume even had a pair of backup force weapons shaped as trench knives sheathed to his thighs, though Inanis never seen him use the knives as no foe had been able to force the librarian to use them.
Both of them fought around Inanis’ feet, requiring him to dance around and leap over them at times as they seemed to believe the dreadnought was careful about their presences. Inanis wanted nothing more than to kick both of them over Aquila Gate and shout “field goal”.
Rutus hung to the far west side of the valley, firing over Space Marines with his storm cannon and bombard, laying waste to ranks of tyranids. This allowed him to ignore the melee. Inanis thought Rutus’ position made better sense for him. By standing away from everyone he didn’t have to try being careful with the raging chaplain and exacting librarian moving below him. But he didn’t have the necessary weapons to lay waste to a swarm through ranged combat.
“Wish I was Optimus Prime,” Inanis commented, wishing for a truck trailer that carried his other weapons with ease as he flattened a tyranid warrior under his foot and vaporized another with the saker.
A harridan came screaming down from above, firing its bio-cannons at Aquila Gate. The structure weathered the storm of bio-acids but there was no garrison this time. Despite its size, the harridan swerved in the air to avoid AA fire with some ease. Gargoyles hooked to its underside were blasted off as flak and bullets glanced off the harridan’s carapace to hit them. This time the hive mind had no intention of sacrificing its larger bio-constructs by performing kamikazes.
Aiming up with the piercer, the plasma bolt shot up from the harridan’s blind side. The bolt hit one of the wings near its base where it met with the rest of the body. The harridan fell screaming and hit the ground, crushing gaunts. It struggled to get up but didn’t have the chance as it landed right before Rutus. The Leviathan tore the airborne tyranid to pieces with a long, close-range burst from its storm cannon accompanied by bolters, metalguns, and plasma guns from nearby Astartes.
“Hive tyrants!” an Astarte called out.
Hive tyrants were tyranid commanders, the highest embodiment of the hive mind in combat form. They acted as the primary synapse conduit to lead armies or direct an attack at the front. Self-aware and cunning, they were probably the most dangerous type of tyranid. The only beings comparable to or above a tyrant were norn-queens and hive ships. Inanis had never seen five hive tyrants together at any one time, the most he seen or heard were two in the same area.
Accompanying the tyrants were a horde of tyrant and hive guards. The tyrants were all modified mostly for melee combat and charged at the Space Marines in a sprint. Behind the tyrants a hierophant followed in their wake. Force was forced to concentrate on the bio-titan, blasting its face apart with concentrated fire of lasbeams hitting the same spot. This gave the tyrants free reign to close in.
Rutus took out one tyrant before it could get into melee range. The tyrant guards flung themselves in the path of projectiles, their sole duty to guard the hive tyrant they followed, their powerful chitin able to stop anything below some of the most powerful anti-tank weaponry. The bombard turned their insides to mush as the graviton energy went through the chitin. The storm cannon never ceased firing and caught the tyrant as its bodyguards died while being flung away. The hive tyrant roared in anger before the storm cannon slowly tore it apart. Autocannon rounds chipped away the tyrant’s chitin but the rate of fire eventually tore the biological armor off and shredded the insides. The hive tyrant was cut in half. Those halves were torn apart as the bombard fired again at its corpse for good measure.
The other four made contact with the Space Marines.
Inanis swung its hammer at one hive tyrant. It blocked the swing with its two boneswords. The close combat biomorphs connected with the hammer’s staff, keeping the Aquila-shaped head from connecting and unleashing the energy within. The psychic energy sheathing the boneswords sawed slightly into the hammer’s staff. The tyrant attempted to aim its heavy venom cannon that took up its remaining two arms, but Inanis kept up the attack, staying too close for the bulky weapon to be used. The hive tyrant was unperturbed as it simply kept swinging its boneswords, blocking the gravity hammer and riposting, scratching at Inanis’ hull.
Izaac and Kazume took on a hive tyrant together. Its upper arms were scything talons while one lower arm carried a bonesword and the other a lash whip. Izaac came at the tyrant’s right, flailing his power fist and crozius at it like a tornado. The tyrant’s bonesword and right talon countered the chaplain. The left talon and whip blocked Kazume. The whip lashed out with a life of its own, snapping out at the librarian with force and momentum provided by the hive tyrant but slithering in the air like a snake. Kazume’s force weapons cut bits and pieces off of the whip, the psychic energy cutting right through the tentacle, causing it to cringe with each piece cut off.
Tyrant guards attempted to swarm the reclusiarch and librarian in aid of their charge. Izaac didn’t attempt to take them head on. Instead, he used his power fist to smash into their sides. Their armor cracked under the impact but the blow was calculated to send the tyranid flying at the hive tyrant. The tyranid projectile hit the hive tyrant hard enough to make it unsteady. It then promptly began to avoid the other guards the chaplain sent flying its way.
Kazume on the other hand concentrated on killing the tyrant guards. His psychically tuned force weapons cut through them with ease as if their armor was made of paper. Swinging his force weapons in intricate patterns, the guards were slashed to pieces as they used their numbers to block his path to the hive tyrant and attempted to swarm him with their numbers at the same time. This simply slowed him down.
The remaining two attacked Rutus and the Marines. The hive tyrant attacking Rutus was using a literal wall of tyrant and hive guards to keep the bombard’s projectile at bay. Armed with a heavy venom cannon, it took shots at Rutus but the Levianthan’s reinforced atomantic shielding kept it safe, a powerful barrier against most heavy weapons. They proceeded into a shooting match to see who would eventually outgun the other. The other hive tyrant directly engaged the Space Marines. Centurions and Terminators closed in on it while those in basic power armor engaged the guards.
Inanis lured the hive tyrant and its guards away from his brethren, allowing him to use his graviton weapons. Stamping down in regular intervals, the quake stompers sent the guards falling back and knocked his opponent unsteady. The tyrant always recovered quick enough to defend itself from the hammer or jump back in time to avoid a swing. Hive guards learned quickly and kept their distance, firing their impaler cannons and shockcannons while avoiding hitting the hive tyrant. Inanis’ shield protected him from the constant rain of bony spines but it was draining fast from the sheer volume.
The hierophant fell and caused everyone to stumble from the nearby fall. But the tyranids continued to swarm forward. Inanis spotted pyrovores, biovores, and exocrines moving around the deceased bio-titan. All were four-legged organisms with large, cannon-like biomorphs attached to their backs. They were essentially the tyranid’s analogue of artillery, each type of construct firing a different kind of projectile from long range.
“Great, it’s the dickheads,” Inanis spat.
They were too far away for Force to deal with and they were already lining up shots to take out the defenders regardless of other tyranids in the area.
Inanis ran at the hive tyrant while deploying his plasma piercer and charging it. The tyrant stood its ground and raised its melee weapons in defense, not enough time or space for it to use its ranged bio-weapon. The dreadnought caught it by surprise when he shoulder-charged it. The tyrant attempted to jump away too late upon realizing its foe wasn’t going to use his melee weapon. The tyrant screeched as it was tackled out of the way.
Inanis quickly raised his left arm and fired the large plasma weapon. The triangular bolt of superheated fire struck a pyrovore. It exploded in a massive ball of fire that caught the other artillery bio-constructs. The hive mind had them packed tightly together to be used for mass barrage which was the weakness Inanis used. The pyrovores’ body was filled with multitudes of sacs that kept the munitions for its flamespurt, and as Inanis guessed it was full to the brim. The expanding fireball caught other pyrovores and they went off in a chain reaction. Biovores fired spore mines and they were equally as explosive as they were caught in the chain of fiery explosions, shredding other tyranids in close proximity as the biovores were also filled to the brim with their acidic spore mines.
Turning back to his opponent, he saw just in time the tyrant aiming his heavy venom cannon at him. Jumping to the side, the supersonic crystalline projectiles glanced off of his body, leaving deep furrows in the alloy. A few hit Beaky and shattered the staff.
“Oh, you son of a bitch!” Inanis shouted. “Here’s Mjolnir!”
Landing on his feet, Inanis threw what was left of Beaky at the tyrant one-handed. The hive tyrant was busy aiming its venom cannon when the hammer struck it in the face. The kinetic explosion ripped the tyrant’s head apart. A large group of tyranids close to the dead tyrant suddenly paused in their charge, the swarm crashing against the front ranks and beginning a vicious melee with the tyrant’s leadership gone.
Looking around, Inanis realized his tyrant had been the last to die. The hive tyrant that had attacked the Space Marines was brought down with a dizzying array of weapons on hand whilst countering the gaunts and guards that tried to swarm the defenders at the same time. But because of the smaller species’ distraction, a dozen Space Marines and a Terminator had died trying to bring down the tyrant. Freed from the danger of the tyrant, several Marines helped Rutus, distracting the hive tyrant trying to outgun the Leviathan. The tyrant had been desperate enough to use hive guards and gaunts to create a living wall to block Rutus’ projectiles. Fired upon in two different directions and not enough gaunts to create cover, Rutus managed to tear the hive tyrant apart with a fully charged blast from the bombard.
Izaac’s and Kazume’s hive tyrant was literally taken apart piece by piece. Izaac had used his weapons to bring the tyrant to its knees, constantly bashing at the legs and joints. Kazume’s light-infused force weapons somewhat easily cut through the tyrant’s armor. The chipping allowed him to eventually get into the flesh underneath and cut off a piece of a clawed foot. It eventually came to the point where Kazume sliced off its feet. Izaac’s energy-fielded weapons constantly weakened the armor, cracking it with each hit little by little. It eventually became weak enough for Kazume to slash through and carve the tyrant’s knees in half. Down on its hands and knees, the tyrant’s arms were next to be cut off. It didn’t take long after that to turn the tyrant into a paraplegic with both of them putting it out of its misery soon after. The two continued to fight around the tyrant’s corpse long after it died.
“Displace,” Essell’s voice blared in the vox. “Head to Condor Gate. We make our last stand there.”
The Land Raider had no room inside, leaving Space Marines to climb on top to use it as a transport as it reversed north. Rhinos and Razorbacks waiting behind the Land Raider took the rest of the defenders. Inanis and Rutus were the last to leave. As the slowest, the two dreadnoughts were the rearguard, wiping out tyranids in droves in a shower of ballistic and energy projectiles as they waddled backwards. The four-barreled storm cannon cut down several rows of the tyranid’s smaller forms like a tractor running over a garden, popping the smaller tyranids from the powerful large caliber slugs. Inanis’ volkite saker swept through an entire row in one sweep, explosively vaporizing all the beam touched, the explosions sending the rank behind falling back against the swarm.
The tyranids soon paused in its approach to Aquila Gate, stopping a few dozen yards. Every aircraft veered away in every direction, leaving the aerial swarm confused by the sudden departure but quickly consolidated to form a cloud of wings, chitin, and talons above the ground swarm’s front ranks.
Aquila Gate was soon bombarded with fire, spore mines, and bone shards. Hive guards and aided by venom cannon-equipped and artillery bio-constructs showered the elevated building with all they could bear. The tyranids were taking no chances the building was set to explode and come down on the advancing swarm.
Making it north past their weapons’ range, Inanis and Rutus turned around and moved to Condor Gate a mile away. A few minutes later, Aquila Gate fell onto the Highway, burnt and bubbling from a mixture of flames and bio-acid.
The hive mind, confident in the lack of a trap, had the swarm resumed its charge with monstrous creatures ranging from carnifexes to the bio-titan hierophants taking the lead.
Then a single missile landed where Aquila Gate had been.
The vortex missile miraculously struck the Highway despite tyranid bio-constructs swarmed every inch of it. A slight lull occurred when tyranids traversed over the fallen mound of debris that had been Aquila Gate. The vortex missile glanced off of a carnifex’s back and skidded in between two gaunts before the warhead hit the Highway.
The resulting black hole engulfed everything within a three-hundred-yard radius. The thinning beams of sunlight from dusk were suddenly engulfed by a sphere of glowing blackness that lit the area like a solar eclipse would. The curving wall of blackness engulfed tyranids of all shapes and sizes, indiscriminate as it turned them into matters of the warp. The valley walls that had helped funnel the tyranids stood no chance as buildings and mountain were swept into the artificial black hole.
Despite the swarm halting the vortex field’s gravity forced tyranids into its embrace. Tyranids from the small forms of the rippers that had been feasting on the dead to reuse the bio-mass to the massive bio-titans were sucked in screaming. Aerial tyranids too close to the vortex fared no better, tumbling end over end as they disappeared inside. Even a harridan was forced inside, flapping its wings desperately to stay away.
The sphere of blackness disappeared half a minute after the vortex missile detonated. One instant it was there, the next it popped out of reality as if it never existed. What it left was a perfect sphere-like crater. The crater extended into the mountains and deep into the ground, forming a bowl that could never exist naturally or climb out of barehanded. The entire edge was perfectly smooth, not a single mar until the tyranids resumed the offensive. The instant the vortex disappeared, the tyranids immediately rampaged into the crater. Gaunts threw themselves in to fill up the bottom. Their talons and claws having difficulty finding purchase against the smooth bedrock, they were instead used as a stepping platform, literally. Tyranids fell on top of each other, crushing those underneath into flattened paste with little concern. It took less than a minute for the massive crater to be filled and everything inside crushed to death. The corpses of crushed chitin were stacked high enough for the tyranids to traverse over the gap in the Highway to reach the other side and chase after the imperials.
The sheer weight and stampede of the tyranids caused a flood of ichor to rise out and slather up and down the Highway, sending dozens of bio-constructs slipping onto the ground. They were promptly crushed under the swarm without a second thought. More and more died and formed a carpet of dead that reached to the corpses already flattened into paste from the earlier fighting. The carpet of tyranid dead smothered the entire ground and reached all the way out to the southern lands past the valley, making it impossible to see or reach the ground underneath without excavation tools.
Artillery continued to rain down on the tyranids but it mattered little as high explosives sent burnt carapaces into the air and burning hot shrapnel down onto others. For every dead, a hundred waited to take its place. The tide reached Condor Gate in half an hour as the Imperials made their last stand.
“This is where we fight!” Izaac roared, enunciating every word. “This is where they die! This is where you all become heroes of the Imperium! This is where all of you live forever in the annals of history!
“FOR THE EMPEROR!”
Tens of thousands of throats repeated the cry.
“Great speech, Leonidas,” Inanis commented.
A rhythmic clashing began with fists hitting metal surfaces or chest plates, rifle butts slamming against the nearest hard surfaces, or boots stomping on the ground. The unified clashing clamor from tens of thousands of individuals raised spirits in the act of solidarity, the bang a physical noise as it echoed down the valley towards the fast approaching tyranids.
What eclipsed the sound from twenty thousand of Isadorian Guardsmen and Praetorian Auxiliaries were the two Warlord Titans. The pair of one-hundred-ten-foot tall bipedal war machines grunted through vox-speakers in time with the clanging, the machine grunting sounding more like a war god coughing with static but it cheered the troops on. Adjacent to the electronic grunts was the softer sound of generators revving as they powered the arm and back-mounted weapons on the Warlords.
The two Titans stood behind the ends of a conclave wall eight hundred feet long and thirty feet high made of ferrocrete and adamantium facing the valley. Like the other Gates, Condor Gate had no actual gate, only a massive archway where five super-heavy tanks and six Land Raiders of various classes sat idle side by side as the best obstacle to block any approach. Before them was a vast trench network fit for the size of three hundred Astartes to form a deep wedge against the tyranids. A waiting pike against the charging monstrosities.
Unlike the other two Gates, Condor Gate didn’t have a bird of prey emblazoned on its arches. Instead, a statue called Condora, shaped as a condor taking flight, stood on top of the gatehouse that was Condor Gate’s arch. The statue was massive and a deplorable rendition of an avian. The condor was apparently handmade by the first settlers ten millennia ago using the adamantium hull of their colony ship as the material, beating the metal into shape. The condor was supposed to represent the world’s allegiance to the Emperor and His growing Imperium, but also their status as a lesser avian in comparison to the double-headed eagle that represented the entire Imperium of Man. The adamantium statue had been in Milena but the ancestor of the planetary governor had it removed because it was an “eyesore”. It was eventually moved to Condora City where it was named after the statue.
Every human soldier stood on top of the walls or behind it, ready to shoot down or up to aid the Angels of Death as best as they could, or replace those that died on the walls. Heavy weapons were brought up to the ramparts and waited to help thin or slow the tide of chitin.
The trenches were massive. The entire zigzagging network was wide enough to allow a tank to traverse within with inches to spare on the sides. Interspaced evenly throughout the trenches were large, square pits that housed a dreadnought. Inanis was in the pit closest to the tip of the spear-shaped trench network.
Having lost Beaky, Inanis managed to grab hold of a pair of double-bladed, power chain-vambraces, brought to him by a Techmarine from the back ranks, before he took his position. Magnetically and suction clamped to the bottoms and sides of his arms, the four massive chainswords extended from the sides of his arms so as to not impede his forearm-mounted weapons, the tips reaching out eight feet past his hands . The chain-vambraces’ teeth were the size of short swords and all were sheathed in an energy field that gave the cutting weapons an increase in their deadliness. Stenciled to the sides of the guide bars were the names of the chain-vambraces.
Inanis named the one on his left arm Death To Evil. The one on his right was called Groovy.
Once the tyranids were a hundred feet from the tip of the trenches, the defenders opened fire as one.
Thousands of lasguns fired down from the ramparts at full auto. A carpet of lasbeams swept into the swarm’s front ranks made of the quicker, smaller species, felling them like scythes to a wheat field. With the swarm packed so dense, the soldiers required no need to aim into the ocean of talons and claws. Once the power packs were spent, the soldiers stepped back for the ones waiting right behind to take their place and open fire. The change was quick and smooth, requiring only a second for the next line of soldiers to step up and open fire.
Heavy bolters, heavy stubbers, autocannons, missile launchers with fragmentation warheads, grenade launchers, and lascannons also fired down from the walls, felling huge scores of tyranids with their powerful munitions.
In the archway, the super-heavies and Land Raiders unleashed their awesome firepower. Their large size allowed them to shoot over the Space Marines and gut a massive portion of the tyranids flooding up the valley after one volley.
Then came the Warlords. Titans of Legio Custos, or the Imperial Guardians, they were both a recent addition to the ancient azure-colored legion hailing from Isador System, seconded to the Praetorians and their accompanying Guardsmen and auxiliaries who all came from the same star sector.
Caeruleum Bastardis was armed with a macro gatling blaster for its right limb and a Volcano cannon for its left. On its carapace, it mounted two plasma blastguns. The right weapon arm fired shells the size of battle tanks, sending a stream of explosions throughout the tyranid swarm at a breathtaking pace. Hundreds of tyranids died in seconds, but tens of thousands filled the space instantly. Great geysers of superheated fire vaporized dozens of tyranids with each shot from the blastguns. The blastguns fired alternatively, conserving power with its steady pace. The Volcano cannon hummed as it was brought to full power, reserving the precious shot for a bio-titan.
Stellar Warrior was armed with an Arioch power claw for its right limb, its inbuilt Vulcan mega-bolters laying waste to the tyranid’s frontline. Its left limb was a plasma destructor, a larger version of the plasma blastguns that vaporized five times the number the blastgun could do in one shot. Unlike the blastguns, the destructor could fire a stream of plasma bolts in a burst but Warrior’s princeps chose to only fire a single bolt with each shot to also conserve energy. On its carapace were one Apocalypse missile launcher and a triple-barreled laser blaster. The laser blaster’s las erased long furrows in the tyranids, burning a blackened line in the Highway.
And finally, the Space Marines. Thirty Terminators formed the tip, standing in the forefront trenches. Their heavy firepower stalled the tyranids from reaching them for some time, as if a tidal wave of gunfire and flames pushed back another tidal wave of chitin. This was only possible due to the enormous amount of firepower laying waste to a legion-sized force. Any other saner army would have broken and run from this kind of loss, but something like this was nothing to the hive mind which had a near infinite amount of bio-mass to keep creating more and more bio-constructs. The defenders would run out of ammunition before being able to kill every single tyranid on Milana III.
Flanking the Terminators were Centurions and Aggressors. Though similar in size to the Terminators their purpose was slightly different to them, but as they bore large weapons it was enough for the purpose of killing scores of tyranids from the trenches. And flanking them, forming the base of the spear-shaped trenches were every other Astarte, firing bolters, plasma guns, and heavier weapons to aid in decimating the xenos.
With the mouth of the valley fanning out to Condor Gate, the tyranids made great time to reach the walls despite the massive amount of firepower they were receiving. They reached the wall first in ones and twos, sheer dumb luck allowing them to reach this far through the hailstorm of projectiles. The defenders on the battlements simply shot down the wall’s face and killed them as the tyranids made no move to avoid it. It took exceptionally longer for them to reach the trenches.
Before the tyranids made contact with the trenches, the Space Marines backed away to the second line of trenches, all firing while moving backwards effortlessly, having memorized the path and steps to take and when it was their turn. A minute later, gaunts started to swarm into the long, wide ditches en masse. Then the frontline trenches were suddenly filled with a massive fireball. Incendiary charges buried in the ditches were set off and engulfed everything in them, creating a moat of flames reaching up six feet into the air. With momentum pushing them, gaunts and warriors fell in, unable to stop. They were burnt to death in seconds. Those behind and with time to react chose to leap over the fire. The moat of flames was so hot it cooked them alive as they leapt over, falling to the ground on the other side as cooked meat. The few that survived were blasted back into the moat with precise bolter fire that burst their torsos or heads open.
The Astartes continued to fire through the burning obstacle, cutting down ranks of tyranids that either milled behind the fire or attempted to leap over with little results. Eventually the tyranids simply ran into the burning trench. It took half an hour until the sheer amount of bodies and ichor quenched the flames. By then, mountains of chitin corpses filled the valley mouth.
Flooding into the pit, the swarm aimed for Inanis. He met them spinning. Stretching out his arms to either side, he spun on his waist and held the chain-vambraces low. Tyranids ran into his chainswords headlong. The cutting edges easily sawed through carapaces with incredibly ease. The energy field surrounding them and the enormous power behind the spin sent the torn bodies flying away. Those that made it past the chain-vambraces were crushed by the arms and flung away as broken rags. It didn’t take a minute for the tyranid dead to reach his waist.
Inanis didn’t experience dizziness. With his volkite saker, he carefully fired it at the southern area of his position. Tyranids, both dead and alive were vaporized, their ashes falling amongst the bodies and ichor. A tap from his quake stompers sent the mounds of corpses flying away, giving him room to allow more tyranids to charge at him and to die at his feet.
Ranged biomorphs showered Inanis with beetles, bone, and bio-acid, blocked by his energy shield. Space Marines that took position behind his pit attempted to cut them down but the mass of chitin blocked their aim. This was eventually countered with concentrated mortar fire coming from behind Condor Gate raining down on them.
Carnifexes soon managed to enter the pit. A few were taken down by opportunistic missile and plasma fire but Inanis’ bulk was in the way as they converged on him.
Inanis stopped his spin and faced the carnifexes, hefting the chain-vambraces up and retracting the volkite saker back into his forearm. “Who wants some?”
Inanis met the first carnifex by punching it in the face. The two chainblades stabbed through the hardened carapace with ease, cutting in deep above and below the head. When the fist connected with the carnifex’s face, the head and the section around it flopped off the rest of the body, held together by a thick strand of sinew and its spine. The dreadnought stepped to the side at the same time as the punch as it didn’t fully arrest the charge. The momentum sent the dead monstrous tyranid forward as it flopped to the ground, glancing off of Inanis’ shoulder.
He killed the next carnifex with a pointblank shot from the lascannons. The head was vaporized instantly. The corpse flopped to the ground like a puppet that lost its strings.
Two carnifexes charged straight at him. Inanis met them with uppercuts from both arms, one to each bio-construct. The sawing energy-sheathed blade ripped their way with ease, erupting a welter of ichor, carapace chips, and gore.
“Have a mouthful,” Inanis taunted as he turned and punched a third carnifex trying to flank him. He angled the punch so that a sawing blade went straight into the slavering maw. The twisting maneuver sawed the blade out from the side, splitting the carnifex’s head in half horizontally.
Behind him Terminators stood on the lip to the pit, shooting down at the small tyranids flooding in, trying to surround Inanis while he was busy being mobbed by carnifexes. Cones of fire and hundreds of solid projectiles rained around Inanis as he unceasingly punched left and right. Left and right, left and right, carnifexes continued to rush him without relent and he killed them relentlessly.
It came as a surprise to Inanis when a large tongue that ended in a three-pronged claw grabbed him by the left upper arm, pulling him off his feet with surprising strength. It took only a moment for his mind to comprehend and witness a haruspex had grabbed him with its long tongue as he was pulled towards it maw. The energy shield hadn’t automatically lit up as the tongue was slower than a projectile or was registered as harmless, something he would have to calibrate after this was over.
His limbs flailing in midair, Inanis’ left arm disappeared inside the haruspex’s maw. The huge tyranid stood at the southern tip of the trench network, keeping its distance from the fighting. Bolt shells, slugs, and lasbolts bounced off its thick hide, the bio-construct ignoring the weak attacks as if gnats were running into it.
With the chain-vambraces still running and Inanis too big to fit into its mouth, the pair of saws ripped into the maw’s lining, shredding tentacles and fangs that lined the orifice. The haruspex cried out in agony, stamping on its four feet. It reacted by sucking Inanis’ left arm further in with the remaining tentacles wrapping around Inanis to help pull him in. The chainblades cut even deeper and made the haruspex stamp and shake even harder. A pair of its huge crab-like claws came forward and grasped the dreadnought’s legs, attempting to cut them apart. The neo-adamantium held against the great pressure but warnings were lighting up in Inanis’ vision, the armor wasn’t going to hold long.
“I’m told I’m bad for the heart,” Inanis said as he deployed the plasma piercer.
The large plasma cannon blasted streams of superheated bolts into the unprotected flesh inside the haruspex. The tyranid went into a seizure as its insides were turned to ash. By the time plasma bolts burst out of its rear end, the haruspex slumped to the ground, unmoving.
Inanis ripped his left arm out, the chain-vambraces slicing through dead flesh. It took half a minute for them to cut through the claws that still held onto his legs, the carapace thick and strong to be of some resistance.
A hierophant came roaring into the battlefield, its bio-cannonss tracking a target. Its sharpened feet created miniature earthquakes as it sprinted as best as it could to Condor Gate.
Bastardis fired its Volcano cannon. A las beam of pure white light followed by a thunderous crack that sounded as if reality was splitting struck the hierophant. The beam connected to the hierophant at an angle, punching into the side close to its head and out through its rear end. The beam tore a perfect tunnel through the bio-titan, its proximity shearing off a foreleg. The loss of the limb sent the immense and hideous creature falling. Its body fell through the beam and sliced open much of its body, its burnt innards revealed to the outside world. The bio-titan died before it hit the ground, creating a small earthquake that made even the defenders on the ramparts lose their balance.
Already a pair of hierophants were making their way around the dead bio-titan. The Warlords and tanks concentrated their fire on the enormous tyranids, reducing much pressure on the smaller forms that were reaching the wall in greater numbers. The tyranids at the base of the wall were forming a ramp with their bodies, dying in droves so that they could become an implacable slope for the rest of the swarm. The sheer amount of dead was reaching to the ramparts with gaunts leaping close enough to the battlements for their claws and limbs to grab hold of the edge before being shot off. Human troops were using plasma weapons, flamers, and grenades to lessen and slow the progress while trying to whittle away the bodies, but there weren’t enough of the special weapons to go around for such a long wall and grenades could only do so much no matter how abundant they were in comparison.
As Inanis made his way back to the pit, a Space Marine called out, “Tyrant!”
Inanis turned around quickly and brought his chain-vambraces up in a guard position.
A hive tyrant with four boneswords was in the middle of its leap, having leapt over the deceased haruspex, sweeping its bladed and psychically crackling biomorphs in four different directions at Inanis. The dreadnought blocked a pair of the boneswords but the other two cut into his upper body, slicing into the lascannons’ housing and rendering them useless, the barrels cut and bent. But the living blades didn’t get any farther, the thick neo-adamantium plating had slowed and blunted the powerful blows, the psychic energy having allowed it to cut into the shell with relative ease only taking it so far.
Upon hitting the ground, the tyrant attempted to pull away but the two blades were caught in the metal, the angle of its current stance too low to properly take them out. But the tyrant was strong enough to pull Inanis forward, which was exactly what he wanted to do. Pushing the pair of bonesword he blocked away, he used the momentum of the tyrant’s pull to send him rushing forward, body slamming into the tyranid and shoving the whirring chain-vambraces into its midriff. The tyrant howled at the damage it was taking and kicked out, catching Inanis in the pelvic area. An imprint of its clawed foot was left on the hull but the blow was enough to dislodge the stuck boneswords, separating the two combatants.
Inanis quickly inspected his chainblades. An instant check saw several of the sword-sized teeth broken and twice as many chipped and cracked. Boneswords had a small brain in their hilts that sheathed the weapon in psychic energy, despite the fact the blade’s monomolecular edge was deadly enough alone. The more boneswords the tyrant held, the more psychically powerful all the boneswords became. If the tyrant had only been holding one or two, Inanis’ chainblades wouldn’t have taken much damage. The energy fields surrounding the teeth couldn’t handle the strain against a powerful immaterial construct that was psychic energy.
Looking at the tyrant, it approached Inanis slowly, wary of its opponent. With four boneswords, the blades were covered in a thick psychic field that they distorted the air around the living swords. The blades he blocked were heavily chipped from attempting to push against a pair of sawing blades. But Inanis saw the blades were repairing themselves, growing like skin cells filling a wound. By the time the two engaged again, the boneswords were fully healed as if they were freshly grown without ever seeing combat, even the wounds Inanis gave to the tyrant’s torso were disappearing.
Meeting each other in close combat, Inanis stood his ground as the tyrant did the same, their distance barely seven feet apart as they wailed at each other with their limbs. The hive tyrant was fast, sweeping its bladed biomorphs in intricate patterns from multiple directions. Inanis was sweeping his arms all around him in intricate patterns to deflect and riposte.
The tyrant was forced to alternate with each pair of its upper limbs. It needed to pull its arms back for a powerful swing but Inanis wasn’t giving it the chance, immediately riposting after blocking an attack to allow the chainblades to cut the tyranid. Compared to the tyrant Inanis’ counters had little strength, but the proximity of its energy-covered teeth was enough to be an extreme danger to the tyranid. It attempted to back away several times, trying to lure Inanis deeper into the swarm. The dreadnought merely walked backwards and fired plasma bolts and energy beams at it. The hive tyrant was ridiculously fast. It dodged the projectiles and charged at Inanis to keep him from reaching his allies.
Fighting over the tip of the trench, the two continued to trade blows while the world around them burned. Several times the Volcano cannon fired, lighting the land in false sunlight. Massive bio-projectiles flew back at the Titans and Condor Gate. Spore mines were flung towards the wall and artillery performed a counter barrage, lessening the number of spore mines. Flurries of Deathstrike missiles sailed overhead and landed deep in the valley, setting off massive spheres of plasma that eradicated thousands of tyranids, sparking off false sunrises in the distance, but the swarm didn’t appear slowing.
Death To Evil was torn apart as it blocked the latest the swing of a bonesword. Unable to withstand the attacks any longer, the teethed chains shattered before the guide bars were snapped. The bonesword continued on but its path was slightly deflected, the edge only cutting shallowly into Inanis’ armored head. The unexpected situation caused the tyrant to overextend its swing, unbalancing it for a moment before it regained its footing. Taking advantage of the moment, Inanis brought Groovy down and cut off a lower limb at the wrist. Groovy shattered upon cutting through the arm, it too unable to hold together any longer.
The hive tyrant screamed in outrage as it jumped back, the sawed limb gushing ichor before stopping, the wound closing. The psychic field around the blades noticeably dimmed at the loss of a companion but still remained strong from three bonesword brains. Making himself feel better, Inanis stamped down on the fallen bonesword that lay before him, snapping the biomorph blade in half.
The vambraces fell off of his forearms, no longer useful. He brought up his hands and tauntingly motioned with his fingers for the tyrant to come back and fight.
“Come get some, General Grievous,” Inanis called out.
The hive tyrant charged at Inanis with a howl, its three boneswords raised to swing down at the disarmed dreadnought. Inanis met him halfway, sprinting at the tyranid. Before the two could slam into each other, the tyrant swung his blades down. Inanis used the quake stomper in his right foot to shoot his leg up faster than the tyranid could swing. The impromptu kick smashed in between the hive tyrant’s legs. The unexpected blow stunned the hive tyrant, sending him up in the air but its heavy weight only made him jump ten feet. Its arms flopped down to its sides, the kick and flight arresting their momentum. Before it landed, Inanis reached up with both hands, the melta blasters deployed, and grabbed hold of its head. The melta beams vaporized its head and the tyrant flopped to the earth, along with a score of nearby tyranids caught in its death through the synapse.
“So civilized,” the Neo-Contemptor commented as he retracted the melta blasters back into his palms.
Inspecting the battlefield, the ramp of dead or dying tyranids now reached up to the battlements. Gaunts and warriors were flooding onto the walls with a wall of projectiles keeping them from overrunning the defenders. The Space Marines continued to hold the trenches but it was clear the tyranids were simply keeping the Astartes busy while they concentrated on taking the ramparts.
The hive mind also decided to resume its kamikazes.
Bastardis was swarmed with gargoyles trying to find a way inside the Titan while scratching ineffectually at its hull. Guardsmen and auxiliaries were firing up at the Titan, a stream of lasbolts and tracers showering the Warlord from below. The projectiles did no damage, at most scratching the paint, but flocks of dead gargoyles were descending to the ground.
Then a harridan slammed into the carapace. The impact made the Warlord bow and bend its legs to keep it from falling. Its weapon arms smashed on top of the wall inadvertently, crushing humans and tyranids under their large size. The harridan broke its wings as they flopped lifelessly but the huge tyranid was still alive, slithering and biting into Bastardis. Its huge size and strength was allowing it to tear into the adamantium slowly with its jaws. Inevitably it would chew its way in or cut something vital. Bastardis’ huge size and the tyranid on top blocked it from being hit from below. Bastardis was shaking, trying to dislodge the parasite on its carapace but it had lodged itself in the gaps.
Another harridan tried to do a kamikaze against Bastardis. It flew too fast and collided with the void shield, the energy field believing it to be a projectile. The harridan exploded against the shield, showering tyranids below with ichor, chitin, and its flattened corpse.
Bastardis eventually stopped swinging itself to dislodge the large tyranid. It simply turned towards Warrior and stood still, bending slightly forward to present the harridan on its carapace. Stellar Warrior raised its power claw, pointing it towards Bastardis. The mega-bolter opened fire. Instead of hitting the void shield, Bastardis’ princeps had deactivated them and allowed his Titan’s carapace to be showered with hundreds of bolt shells. The harridan screeched as it was torn apart into wet chunks and blocks of chitin. Warrior had only fired for three seconds but the act also shredded the carapace-mounted weapons on its brother Titan. The plasma blastguns would fire no more.
Undaunted, Bastardis turned back to the swarm and fired its arm weapons as Stellar Warrior did the same.
Then it started raining mycetic spores. The huge pods slammed onto the earth and disgorged their contents from ripper swarms to carnifexes and everything between the size of the two. The spores landed south of the valley but quickly proceeded north, landing on both sides of the wall.
Inanis looked up to see a large shadow blotting out the sky and it was being burnt. A hive ship was entering through the lower atmosphere fast and lance batteries were trying to tear it apart from above. It was disgorging mycetic spores as quickly as it could in its descent of death. The swarm picked up the pace in its charge north.
With the enemy now on the north side, the Astartes abandoned the trenches. They formed a ring in the archway, using the arch to block out the spores that could have landed among them. Inanis and Rutus held the south end of the archyway with the tanks, keeping out the swarm with a wall of fire and beams. Marines spread out alongside the wall’s northern face, clearing the area to hide behind the wall as the battleship-sized bio-ship continued to descend. Inanis’ internal cogitators calculated the bio-ship’s descent as it tumbled on its axis during its fall while pieces of it continued to be burned off by lance fire. The hive ship was going to land somewhat a hundred miles south but it was clear from its speed and largely intact size it was going to create a cataclysm upon impact. The rain of mycetic spores had ended quite quickly, having been unleashed while the hive ship was still in the upper atmosphere before it came too low to the planet.
Firing his saker and piercer, Inanis vaporized hundreds of tyranids trying to enter the archway. Beside him stood Rutus, pouring autocannon shells and graviton energy bombs in large sweeps south of the archway. Behind them were the super-heavies and Land Raiders, keeping the area around them clear as the two huge dreadnoughts chose to bear the brunt of the swarm’s attacks.
“All units, hunker behind the wall and pray to the Emperor we survive,” Essell commanded through the vox.
The tanks reversed north out of the archway and took up positions behind the wall. Following them were Rutus and Inanis, walking backwards as they filled the archway with outgoing projectiles, covering the Highway with tyranid dead that were attempting to follow.
“Easy for Essell to say, I haven’t even seen him this entire time,” Inanis commented as he swept his saker left and right, rupturing ranks of tyranids into explosive dust.
Rutus growled at his fellow dreadnought, bringing down a hierodule with several fully charged shots from the bombard to the head.
“I doubt he’s busy doing anything. It’s probably just lazy writing,” Inanis replied.
The two dreadnoughts split up to take up positions on either side of the archway, pummeling emerging tyranids with heavy firepower. A small legion of tanks and armored vehicles were parked behind the wall and facing it, keeping some distance as tyranids dropped down from the walls only to be gunned down by the tanks like a firing squad. The wall’s top soon disappeared in a cascade of firepower as the Warlords had backtracked enough to turn their weapons on the battlements, cleansing it of tyranid presence. Infantry and Astartes took up position in the buildings behind the tanks that made up the northern tip of Condora City, turning their residence into a redoubts as they repelled tyranids from the spores that landed north of Condor Gate.
Keeping most of his attention on the tyranids coming out of the archway, Inanis checked on satellite imagery in the equivalency of using his subconscious to do so. He dearly wished he hadn’t. The falling hive ship wasn’t fully dead. It was turning in its deadly dive towards Condora City. The cataclysm was going to occur much closer than his cogitators estimated.
When the hive ship finally landed, it landed close to forty miles away. Inanis found himself being lifted off his feet as the earth pulsed, throwing him and everything not tied to the ground up in the air. Inanis found himself flipping, turning upside down to see a three-hundred-twenty-ton super-heavy tank nearby turning onto its side in the air. Then a shadow eclipsed the area. Inanis saw not only hundreds, maybe thousands of tyranids lifted into the air by the impact but also Warrior lifted high enough for it to be spun around. The Warlord looked as if it was lying on a bed made of air, hovering like a magic trick. Inanis was very sure the fifteen-hundred-ton Imperial Battle Titan was going to land on its back.
Activating the anti-gravity unit in his chassis, Inanis remained floating as everyone else fell to the ground. Tanks landed on their sides, fronts, upside down, rears, or on top of each other. Dreadnoughts and IFVs crashed into each other. Buildings crumbled, burying the garrison inside. Tyranids were crushed by the impact as they fell on their faces or on top of each other.
Then the two Warlord Titans landed. The twin impacts sent the nearby tanks and tyranids bouncing back up into the air though not as high as the hive ship’s impact, along with several nearby structures that had remained intact to cave in.
Landing back on his feet, Inanis found the earth shaking dangerously. He checked the satellite feed again. The hive ship was skidding along the earth and coming ever closer to the valley. It had crashed landed right behind the tyranid swarm and was now crushing and killing it. But what pushed ahead of the hive ship was an enormous wall of dust and dirt several miles high, heading for Condora City. It was already entering the valley, funneled north at breakneck speed like a river unleashed from an overfilled dam. He could even see tyranids swept up in the approaching dust storm, tens of thousands picked up a mile into the air and disappearing inside. Even bio-titans were picked up like rag dolls. It would reach Condor Gate in a matter of seconds.
Inanis panicked. He didn’t have a pun or snappy one-liner or a fourth-wall breaking comment in mind when the wall fell apart.
“Well…frak,” was all he could muster.
He witnessed the corpse of a hierophant breaking through the wall before him. The enormous body glanced against the left side of his sarcophagus, popping his shield instantly and the glancing blow had enough force to shatter the left arm up to the shoulder. Picked up into the air by the impact, Inanis was sent flying into a nearby building headfirst as the dust storm reached him. The crash virtually knocked him out.