A little bit of literature

I'm headed to a tournament in MA in a couple weeks. Every time I go to an event run by this particular club, I like to attach a short intro story to my army list to explain the "why" of the army. This time, I'm running a pretty basic Ultramarines list led by Chaplain Cassius. I set out to write a quick one-page blurb, but caught the writing bug (I've got a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, after all) and it spiraled into a four-page beast. I figured I'd share it wit those of you who aren't from my FLGS (I already posted it over there).

Standard disclaimer applies. All the stuff owned by GW is copyrighted and whatnot by GW. Posted without permission, for no financial gain, yadda yadda.

With that said, enjoy (and don't steal my shit!):

Sergeant Illius of the Ultramarines charged across the muddy ground, splashes of slimy earth exploding from his footfalls. The air around him buzzed as hails of insectile shot whickered by. He grimaced as dozens of the living ammunition creatures splattered and popped against the ceramite of his armor. Alongside him ran the remnants of his squad of Marines. They unleashed return volleys of bolter fire into the oncoming tide of xenos beasts. Each round found purchase in the wave of creatures, sending gouts of greenish ichor into the air and painting the nearby monsters' carapaces.

Illius leapt the last several meters into the trench line as the hail of alien fire increased. He splashed down into a quagmire of ankle-deep slime and fluids, his Marines landing alongside him. The partially dissolved corpses of an Imperial Guard platoon bobbed in the bottom of the trench.

"Firing positions!" ordered Illius. His squad members advanced to the trench's firing step and began to lay down tight salvos of bolter fire. A pale warning rune flashed on Illius's retinal display, warning him that the acid levels in the trench had begun to score the paint from his armor and weaken the gaskets of his armor joints. He joined the line on the firing step and picked off individual Tyranid creatures with shots from his bolt pistol. The living wave continued to advance, leaving piles of shattered bodies in their wake. Suddenly, Brother Raius let out a curse. Wrapped about his greaves were several slithering Tyranid creatures. Rippers. Raius punched and stomped the serpentine xenos, and a score more leapt from the murky fluid to attack the legs and knees of the entire squad.

Sergeant Illius hacked several of the creatures with his chainsword, but more poured from the bottom of the trench, or burrowed through its walls. The bolter fire keeping the oncoming Gaunt-genome bests began to slacken as the Marines were swarmed by the Rippers.

"Marius, purge the line!" ordered Sergeant Illius.

"Acknowledged, Brother Sergeant," replied Marius. There was a crack of heated air as Marius turned his flamer down the length of the trench, bathing both Marine and Tyranid in a roaring sheet of promethium flame. Warning runes glowed an angry red on Illius's display as the temperature around him climbed. The Ripper beasts squealed, their carapaces popping as cooked xenos flesh boiled out. The Marines emerged from the conflagration unscathed and resumed their suppressing fire. The damage had been done, however. The oncoming Gaunts threw themselves forward, over the lip of sandbags at the top of the trench. Without a word, the squad of Marines drew pistols and blades and engaged the Tyranids. Illius's chainsword growled and spit as he took the Gaunts apart, one after another. One beast crashed into his side, talons slashing and scrabbling at his armor. He backhanded it with the butt of his bolt pistol and cleaved it in half as it rebounded off the trench wall.

Then Brother Marius fell. A Gaunt's talons raked across the Marine's throat, spilling a jet of bright red blood. He stumbled, and a half dozen more beasts piled on top of him. Marius gave an incoherent choke over the vox, and then fired a single bolt pistol shot into the fuel canister of his flamer. A ball of flame engulfed the Marine and the Gaunts that hacked and bit at him, leaving a charred mess of smoking chitin and ceramite. Marius's life sign indicator faded to black on Illius's retinal display.

The squad of Marines continued to slash, slice, stomp, and stab the Gaunts. Only a few of the creatures remained when a shrieking roar erupted from beyond the trench. A mass of charging Warrior-genome beasts thundered toward the line. Brother Aurelius shook off the last of the Gaunts around him, stepped up to the firing line, and loosed a missile from his tube launcher. The projectile hissed out, trailing a thin line of propellant smoke. The servo arm on his backpack whipped down to select and load another missile into the tube as the first impacted the leading Warrior. It punched into the creature's chest armor and then detonated with a hollow boom. The Warrior and several of its broodmates exploded into torn shreds. Aurelius took aim again as the loading arm clicked the tube shut. The second missile escaped the mouth of the tube just as a foot-long spike of bone took Aurelius in the right eye. The boom of the missile exploding at the feet of the incoming Warriors mirrored Aurelius' body thudding into the bottom of the trench. Another life sign blackened in Illius's display. He intoned a brief prayer for the souls of the two fallen Marines, and braced himself as the first of the Warriors splashed down into the muck of the trench. A massive beast leveled a weapon at him that writhed with scarab-like beetles and dripped with venomous acid. Illius vaulted forward and brought his chainsword down across what he could only describe as the Warrior's wrists. The monster reeled as the weapon was shorn from its arms. The Marine sergeant pressed his attack, spearing the Tyranid under the jaw with his chainsword. The weapon juddered and kicked as it burrowed up into the Warriors' head, killing it. He spared a glance up and down the trench, observing his squad engaged in a crushing melee with the newly arrived Tyranids. Then more Warriors were upon him, and his squad was lost to his sight as the press of chitin and claws engulfed him.

The melee continued for what seemed like an age. Illius's chainsword reaped a tally amongst the xenos creatures, but their claws too often found purchase in his flesh, breaking ceramite and plasteel. The sergeant could feel the blood slicking his body under the plates of his armor. Then came a low, keening whistle.

Fat, tendriled balls of Tyranid flesh began to thump down into the trench. Illius's eyes widened as the sacs began to inflate. "Cover!" he shouted. He rammed his shoulder into the chest of a Warrior, spinning it between himself and the closest spore mine just before it exploded in a cloud of razor sharp shards of bone and shell. The Warrior shrieked as its back was punctured by the flying debris. All down the trench, Illius's squad ducked, braced and weathered the storm of shrapnel. The barrage took a heavy toll on the Warriors, felling many as the spores landed amongst them. Brother Nestir stood and loosed a burst from his bolter when another spore mine rebounded off the trench wall with a wet smack, and rolled before his feet. It burst in a geyser of steaming acid, soaking Nestir from head to toe. He let out a roar of pain, the acid rapidly dissolving his armor plates. The Marine tore away his helmet, revealing eyes burned away by the acid through the shattered lenses of his helm. The skin of Nestir's face began to slough away, exposing muscle and bone. Illius watched as Nestir ripped a pair of krak grenades from clips on his belt, thumbed the priming studs, and charged blind and screaming into a knot of Warriors. The grenades detonated simultaneously, blasting Nestir and the Warriors limb from limb. Another blackened rune appeared before the sergeant's eyes.

Illius had no time to lament Nestir's passing, as he was bowled over from behind. He managed to roll onto his back before the massive Tyranid Warrior crushed him under its weight. The Marine sank into the muddy slime at the bottom of the trench, his helmet filters clamping shut and his reserve air supply kicking in. The xenos monster's massive talons scythed downward in a decapitating stroke, but Illius managed to parry one with the hilt of his stuttering chainsword and caught the other in the palm of his armored hand. Pain flared from Illius's hand as tendons were shorn and bone was cracked. The sergeant grunted as he matched his strength against that of the Warrior, its talons a hand span from his neck. Then a cold lance of pain seared through his chest as the monster's secondary talons punctured his abdominal armor and up into his chest cavity. Blood filled his mouth as the talons punctured one of his lungs. The Warrior's head snapped down, clamping onto Illius's helmet. The needle teeth spiked through the red paint and ceramite and onward into the skin of his scalp. Thin lines of blood wept from the punctures and flowed back into Illius's ears. He barely registered the fact that two more life signals winked out in his display.

The Tyranid's jaws flexed, and Illius watched cracks appear across his eye lenses. They held for a moment, and then the left lens shattered. Shards of armored glass spiked through his eye, following by a deluge of the viscous slime that filled the trench bottom. Illius's skin began to burn as the acid in the fluid began its work.

The Marine sergeant intoned the Prayer of Ascension as his world went dark and quiet. The pressure around his head mounted as the ceramite of his helm began to buckle.

There was a brief flare of pressure against his skull, and then a hollow crack. Illius guessed it was the bone of his cranium snapping, but then the pressure was lifted and Illius was free of the drowning slime. Through his one working eye, he saw a grim, black-armored figure looming over him. The figure's mouth was locked in an eternal scowl by long lines of scar tissue, and the dull gleam of a bionic eye peered out from a half-metallic skull. Chaplain Ortan Cassius.

Cassius reached down, grasped Illius by the front of his breastplate, and hauled him bodily to his feet.
"Rise, Brother Sergeant," said Cassius, his voice deep and gritty. "The Emperor does not yet call you to his side."

Illius swayed briefly as he regained his senses, noticing the shattered skull of the Tyranid Warrior that had sat astride him. White-helmed Ultramarines appeared at the lip of the trench. Cassius's Sternguard. As one, they raised their bolters and fired down into the Warriors. The mutagenic acid of their hellfire shells made quick work of the remaining xenos beasts.

The sergeant's vision snapped back into focus as Chaplain Cassius thumped a fist against his pauldron. "Gather your men, Illius. There is still work to be done." With that, he leapt to the top of the forward edge of the trench. The Sternguard vaulted across the gap to join him. Fully half of Illius's squad lay dead in the mire, buried under scores of Tyranid corpses. He ordered the remaining four up and out of the trench and joined them at Cassius's side. Another wave of Tyranids was bounding over the battlefield toward the gathered Marines.

Cassius stepped forward and raised his crozius arcanum high. It fizzed and crackled with energy as Tyranid ichor and flesh burned away from it. "Purge the xenos!" boomed Cassius. "Spare none your wrath! For Ultramar!"

A feeling of vigor filled Sergeant Illius. Despite the many wounds that covered his body and the severed fingers of his left hand, he raised his chainsword to the sky and roared alongside his fellow Ultramarines, "FOR THE EMPEROR!"

Sergeant Illius of the Ultramarines charged again into the oncoming Tyranid horde alongside his battle brothers.

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