Legion of the Damned
|Legion of the Damned, formerly Fire Hawks (maybe)|
|Battle Cry||None. They don't need one because they are terrifying as hell|
|Successors of||Ultramarines (maybe)|
|Chapter Master||Stibor Laezaerek (at time of disappearance) (Try to pronounce that on your 1st try)|
|Primarch||Roboute Guilliman(Maybe, we don't know)|
|Homeworld||Raptorous Rex, formerly Zhoros and Cousteau XI|
|Strength||No more than 200|
|Specialty||Showing up to turn the tide (and being awesome as fuck)|
|Allegiance||Imperium of Man|
|Colours||Black with bone and flame coloring (though that may be actual flames), formerly red and yellow|
"We are the Angels of Death"
- – Space Marine motto
They are Space Marines that were mutated, killed, and trapped in the warp, all the while remaining faithful to the Emprah. Put simply, imagine the zombie/spirit of a Space Marine that kills things that are bad. They constantly suffer, but make up for it popping up from the Warp and saving endangered IG regiments.
GW has given them an ID crisis, because it can't make up its mind between an ever-growing army of badass GOOD dead people, something original, or a dwindling group of badass mutated Space Marines that are slowly getting killed by mutation.
Recently got a new squad look that comes with a Sergeant that looks like a GODDAMNED CHAPLAIN! (Recent as in 2009....12 years ago...Figures GW would make something cool but forget they exist until reminded by players.)
(Note: the below has been heavily retcon'd and implied to either be no longer true, or only true if you apply liberal use of time travel. Granted this IS the Warp we're talking about...) The Legion of the Damned was originally a Space Marine chapter known as the "Fire Hawks", made from the geneseed of the Ultramarines (or so they claim). They made a name for themselves during the Age of Apostasy, where they fought well and were rewarded with the destruction of their homeworld, Zhoros, by thermal bombs. After this, Sebastian Thor gave them a massive Great Crusade era void fortress, the Raptorous Rex, in commemoration of their deeds. They became a fleet based chapter as a result.
Afterwards, they participated in the Badab War on the side of the loyalists, where they were reduced to about 22% effective strength (though the Rex was instrumental near the end of the war).
They were next called into action against Eldar pirates, and made the 120 light year warp jump with their entire chapter (the Rex, five other ships, and more than 800 battle brothers).
They never arrived.
20 years after they disappeared, the Bell of Lost Souls rang 1000 times in their honor and they were declared lost in the Warp. Supposedly, the Emperor himself ordered a black candle lit for them. The Fire Hawks were no more and the Legion of the Damned was born.
The emergence of the Legion of the Damned was slow at first, starting with destroyed worlds and unmarked coffins containing marines whose equipment serial numbers matched Fire Hawk records but whose bodies had unnaturally decayed beyond recognition. A few years after their disappearance, however, they emerged to help an Imperial garrison besieged by Orks. They quickly dispatched the xenos and vanished, leaving behind only a recorder, some sealed items and their chapter banner on which was inscribed the words "In dedicato imperatum ultra articulo mortis" or for those of you who don't speak Gothic "For the Emperor beyond the point of death"
The recorder revealed what happened to the ill-fated Fire Hawks. Basically, they got their shit royally fucked. After making the transition to warp space, they were caught in a terrible warp storm. Only their star-fort the Raptorus Rex, and possibly another ship known as the Absolute, and only 200 marines escaped the warp, appearing in the galactic east; so far east, in fact, that they were beyond even the Emperor's light. Not only this, but all their geneseed had been rendered unusable and the survivors were afflicted with a warp affliction which caused them to rot, slowly destroying their bodies and sanity. But, unlike some failures, they manned up and decided to use it to their advantage and continue their fight for the Emperor. They decided to repaint their armor black (possibly because even in their insanity they remembered how awesome chaplains were) and cover themselves with bones and fire. They also did away with any kind of organization, instead becoming an unstoppable horde bent on destruction. Most lore describes the Legion of the Damned phasing in and out of reality and instead of having flames painted on their armor they are instead wreathed in warpfire and their armor is pitch black and destroyed in some places which reveals the bones of the wearer, further emphasizing on the zombie ghost space marine theme.
Their new codex says that it's not actually known for sure if the above is really the case. Most of the Imperium (other than the Space Marines, who stand by the Fire Hawks theory) believes they are the ghosts of dead Space Marines, and the Eldar (along with the late Inquisitor Quixos of Eisenhorn fame) are convinced that they're the Imperial equivalent of Daemons.
Note that similarly Kaldor Draigo has also been lost in the warp without being dissolved instantly by the raw stuff of chaos, but obviously retains his purity because he's a Grey Knight Chuck Norris in space, and instead of getting wet when falling into water, he makes it chuck instead, basically willing the warp to become still around him, yeah. The Fire Hawks were already known for being particularly devout and close with the Ecclesiarchy and Sebastian Thor and so could conceivably prevent themselves from melting too through sheer faith and willpower. Also, certain Fallen Angels manage to be deposited across space and time causing chronological inconsistencies and no end of debate.
They supposedly figure out where they are needed most by using the Emperor's Tarot, a deck of psychoactive crystal cards that are said to be linked directly to the Emperor. I'd imagine how frustrated they would be when they discover that Emperor's Tarot was made by Lorgar
(not doing a good job of proving you're a God, Emps) *BLAM* Heresy!. The Ordo Chronos (what's left of it, anyway) thinks that they might actually be using time travel to do this,(see also the Sollemnis below) but every time they've tried to observe the Legion directly to test this, they've been delayed by freak accidents that just so happen to keep the Ordo Chronos away long enough for the Legion to vanish by the time they show up.
Another theory that links to the time travel one is that they're Marines from an alternate even more grim and dark timeline, or as one anon puts it "in the grim grim darkness of the far far further future, there are only flaming-time-travelling-teleporting armor-ignoring-zombie-space-marines-ghosts" sent back to stop whatever bad is happening to prevent their future from ever happening in the first place.
In other words, they're erasing themselves from existence to save humanity.
Nobody's entirely sure of the truth anymore, perhaps none of them are true or perhaps all theories are true and the Fire Hawks are just one set of unfortunate space marines to become Damned Legionnaires after becoming lost in the Warp.
Tl;DR: Very grimdark.
The warp is often described as an ocean, with currents, storms, eddies and sea (Warp) creatures. The currents themselves are allegedly 'random' and they can block off systems from Warp travel due to storms or other anomalies, slow down ships and even displace them or swallow them entirely. We also know that they can send a ship to a different time; there are some references to ships arriving at their destination before they even left etc.
1. The reason that the Warp's currents are considered random is because no one has the sensor capacity to analyze the activity and patterns of the Warp. To be fair, such an endeavour would require a huge number of Warp sensitive sensors placed across the entire galaxy and would probably need many years/decades/centuries of data collection.
2. If the Warp is like an ocean as so many describe it, then at least some of the currents should be predictable and constant, like our currents on Earth. Now, taking this a step further, even if 99.9999% of the currents are forward-moving in time, somewhere in the ridiculous amount of space in the galaxy there is a high probability that there must be constant/predictable currents that take ships back through time.
3. The next question is, how far back in time could you go? I believe the maximum limit would be to the origination of the Warp current that takes you back in time. Unfortunately, there'd be no real way to tell how far back you could travel until you tried and found out. Another problem is that it still takes time (in your personal frame of reference), to go back in time. For example, you might spend a year travelling in the Warp current to go back ten years in real time, or (!) ten years in the Warp only to go back one year in real time. The ratio itself wouldn't be known until the current was used and even then it might not be constant.
One more step
I believe at least one of these currents has been found and is being capitalized upon.
The Fire Hawks were a chapter of Space Marines who disappeared in the Warp and were declared lost. Some survivors from their fleet were seen 25 odd years later with different colours and fighting styles, and they were then named 'The Legion of the Damned', as you all know. The LOTD has appeared at locations and relatively recent moments in time, where their limited numbers (200 odd marines), could make a huge difference. I believe this is no coincidence and unlike some theories (such as they are directed to where they are needed by the Emperor himself via the Tarot etc.), I have evidence to support mine.
The Fire Hawks Chapter was lost in 963 M.41 and became the LOTD after that event. Look below at 'Known Encounters' and you can see that some form of Time Travel has taken place because they've been active since before the Fire Hawks were officially lost.
I believe that the LOTD has found a constant current that can transport them back in time. The reason why and how they can appear at the exact time and places where they are needed is because to them it has already occurred and they are simply travelling back in time to moments where their limited numbers can change the course of history for the benefit of the Imperium of Man.
Now you're wondering, why don't they go back to the Horus Heresy and prevent everything bad from happening Etc. Etc.? There are a couple reasons potentially as to why not:
1. The Current itself may not go that far back.
2. The amount of time they would have to spend in the current to go that far back may not be feasible. We don't know how long it takes them to go back 1 year in real time. For example, for all we know it could take them 5 years of travelling to go back 1 year, and therefore they'd have to live to at least 50,000 years old to make it back to the HH.
3. Every trip back in time alters history. The further back they go the more they will effect. They are probably wary of going too far back in time, just in case they somehow prevent their chapter's formation and their very existence, and everything they have ever accomplished. It basically risks too much. This makes even more sense considering that the Heresy was the cause of the Space Marines being split into Chapters to begin with, so without it, there probably wouldn't have even been Fire Hawks to begin with.
Considering that the LOTD has been going backwards in time to critical moments where they could make a difference, we have no idea how long (in their frame of reference), they have been doing it and they might be nearing the end of their natural lifespans. If that is the case, soon there may be no more LOTD. Therefore I believe the most important question, upon which perhaps this entire theory hangs, is why haven't they told the Imperium of that specific Warp current? Maybe they did..... and maybe it caused a lot more problems and perhaps they rectified that mistake as well. The problem is, I don't believe we'll ever know.
Another explanation for the existence of the Legion of the Damned would be that they are the spirits or ghosts of fallen Space Marines which continue to serve the Emperor even in death. This makes perfect sense, as in the book 'The Chapter's Due', Ultramarines Captain Uriel Ventris of the Fourth Company encountered the Legion while engaged in a battle with the Iron Warriors in the Tomb of Remus Ventanus on Calth. On one of the Legion's shoulder pads he saw a 'barely legible, inverted omega symbol'. This member of the Legion of the Damned was stated to have other traces of Ultramarines symbology and was heavily implied to be Remus Ventanus, a former Ultramarines captain who died ten thousand years prior. Before he and the other members of the Legion of Damned faded away, the ghost of Remus Ventanus whispered the true name of the daemon Lord M'kar and gave Uriel the dagger that was necessary for slaying the daemon. This fits with the Legion of the Damned well, as they once again saved Imperial forces from destruction. Furthermore this doesn't rule out the Fire Hawks being members of the Legion of the Damned, that would probably be the case. However they would not be the only Space Marines to be part of the Legion. Although this theory doesn't rule out time travel, it negates the need for it, as there would have been plenty of potential LotD members prior to the Fire Hawks being lost in the Warp. Later in 'Master of Mankind,' the Emperor apparently summoned fiery manifestations of Space Marines, and even Custodes as well as a giant with silver arms and a hammer, to hold back the daemonic tide before sealing the Eternity Gate. Quite possibly, the Fire Hawks were the core group of the LotD. Then, as time went on, more Marines, but just the very dedicated ones, were pulled in to serve. This would explain why the LotD isn't absolutely enormous, and featuring troops from every age, with Crusade Suits mingling with Corvus, Heresy, to shiny new Gravis pattern. As seen in the short story, "Animus Malorum" by Laurie Goulding, the Legion can recruit regular Space Marines to replenish their ranks as seen when Attica Centurius used the Animus Malorum artefact to absorb the souls of Astartes as replacements for the Legion's losses. On the other hand, recruitment requires the physical death of the Astartes' body and the choice is often given to stranded Astartes with the alternative being death for dereliction of duty to the Emperor or at the hands of the Imperium's enemies.
Interestingly, there is a Chaos Space Marine Warband called the Warp Ghosts that are both time travelers and ghosts (though not solid ones, they have to possess the bodies of other marines). This does show that several of the theories about the Legion of the Damned are definitely possible.
- 003.M40 Vilidad Prime: The Legion repel the forces of The Flawless Host and one hundred daemonettes. As the forces of chaos retreat, they blast open fresh adamantium seams which are later used for Astartes war materiel.
- prior to 343.M41: Inquisitor Quixos postulates that the Legion of the Damned are creatures of the Warp similar to Daemons, but in their case were shards of the Emperors will given form. This indicates there MUST have been enough additional sightings of the Legion prior to this point to begin study of them.
- 343.M41 (according to the Codex) Ghodba: Hive Fleet Moloch invades and the Legion arrives to create a cordon around the superheavy tanks to give the crews time to man them. (note: the FIRST tyrannic war was in 745, and Moloch arrived in 998)
- 806.M41 Jericho Reach: The frigate Sollemnis is spewed from the Hadex Anomaly around one-hundred and fifty years into its own past (from 963.M41), remaining on location only long enough to transmit a warning of contagion before disappearing into the Reach.
- 817.M41 Jericho Reach: The Sollemnis reappears three times in as many weeks to combat the enemies of the Imperium. On the fourth encounter, the Legion of the Damned are first reported to support a Deathwatch kill-team combating a daemonhost.
- 852.M41 Craftworld Idharae: The Invaders chapter launch an ill-advised attack on an Eldar Craftworld, (which they pay for later). The Legion of the Damned arrive at the same time as the Avatar of Khaine and find that their flaming weapons cannot harm it, so they cause the great dome to come crashing down on themselves instead, winning the battle that way.
- 922.M41 Andraxas: the Legion come to the aid of Varro Tigurius against the Orks, but also assist in the recovery of what appears to be Malcador the Sigillite's Force Staff, which contained valuable information about the Golden Throne within it.
- 940.M41 Timeaon: The Iron Snakes are ambushed by the Tau during the battle for Timeaon, only for the Legion of the Damned to launch an assault on the Tau flank.
- 963.M41 En-Route to Crows World: The Fire Hawks go missing, lending credence to the theory that the Legion of the Damned can time travel (if they are the same chapter), or they have simply been around longer (if they are daemons or spirits)
- 967.M41 Thersuis: The Legion rescue Marshall Helbrecht after being captured by the Kabal of the Black Heart and the Cult of Strife, even forcing Lelith Hesperax to take flight. His sword brethren get embarrassed.
- 983.M41 Terra: The Administratum officially declares the Fire Hawks a Lost Chapter, and the Bell of Lost Souls rings one thousand times for each fallen Marine.
- 986.M41 Jakor-tal: Imperial Navy vessels encounter unexpected devastation amongst Ork-held territories, indicating that the Legion of the Damned DOES operate independently and are not necessarily working in direct aid of Imperial Forces.
- 987.M41 Maran Sub-sector: a Naval patrol vessel has a near collision with an unidentified vessel, after going WTF and scanning the area, they discover two standard space coffins with matching serial numbers to missing Fire Hawks equipment. The bodies contained within could not be identified.
- 988.M41 An Imperial research station falls under attack from Orks, only to be saved by mysterious power-armoured figures who vanish after half an hour of fighting, leaving several hundred ork corpses in their wake. The marines leave the Fire Hawks chapter banner behind, bearing the motto In dedicato imperatum ultra articulo mortis (For the Emperor beyond the point of death)
- 996.M41 Certus Minor: While the Excoriators 5th Company is fighting the Cholercaust Blood Crusade on the cemetery world of Cerus Minor, the Legion of the Damned begin appearing all over the capital killing Khornate berzerkers. The lone frigate defending the world against the fleet is rescued by a badly decayed Ramilies-class star fort (the Raptorous Rex was of the same pattern). At the end of the night Captain Zachariah Kersh is the only survivor of the defenders (the women and children having been placed in stasis coffins and buried alive for their own safety).
- 999.M41 Calth: When Uriel Ventris, his Command Squad, one Ultramarines Tactical Squad and one Raven Guard command squad are cornered by Warsmith Honsou during the Bloodborn invasion, Space Marines in black and red armour with bones appear and begin using the Iron Warriors as target practice. Never explicitly confirmed to be the Legion of the Damned, but the description fits their MO.
- 999.M41 Phalanx: Warsmith Shon'tu invades the Phalanx with an army of Iron Warriors and daemons, forcing the Imperial Fists Third Company to fling the Phalanx into the Warp. While in the Warp, the Legion of the Damned appear to support the Fists, but even their combined
plot armourdetermination is only just keeping the Chaos army at bay. As of Fall of Cadia, the combined forces of the Imperial Fists and Legion of the Damned defeat the Iron Warriors and then aid in the evacuation of Imperial Forces.
- Unknown Date.M41 Terran Crusade: The Legion of the Damned arrvies to help Guilliman and the rest of the crusade's forces escape the Blackstone Fortress they were imprisoned on. The Legion engages Skarbrand and buy enough time for Guilliman and the others to escape via a secret webway tunnel.
- Unknown Date.M42 Devastation of Baal: The Legion of the Damned arrives, assisting the Blood Angels as they make their final charge against Hive Fleet Leviathan.
- Unknown Date.M42 Various Locations: The Legion of the Damned are reporting in mulitple worlds, assisting the forces of the Imperium in the wake of the Great Rift's formation.
- Unknown Date.M42 The Legion of the Damned assist an Imperial Fists force under Darnath Lysander against Daemons. They were forced to retreat and the planet falls to Chaos. Noted as one of the very few times the Damned have been defeated in battle
Many people consider them limited due to their high point cost and slow and purposeful special rule. This is "balanced" by being able to reroll their deepstrike, 2 base attacks, and a 3+ invulnerable save (plus access to heavy and special weapons). Sadly, being slow, they will probably get stuck somewhere and not do much and, though a suicide melta squad sounds like a good idea, they are generally considered too expensive for such a task.
In 2nd Edition they had a special character, Sergeant Attica Centurius, who had a skull called the Animus Malorum that ate souls and brought a downed legionnaire back into the fight (White Dwarf U.S. #195, pp. 12-15).
Thankfully, 6th edition buffed them by changing the Slow and Purposeful rule: now, instead of taking Difficult Terrain tests every turn, they simply can't Run in the Shooting phase or make Sweeping Advances. Yeah, they can move the full 6 inches every turn now, just like normal marines.
In the 6E Space Marine codex , they gained the Fear (making them scarier) and Flaming Projectiles (all ranged attacks have Ignore Cover) rules. Not only that, their special weapons and heavy weapons became cheaper than the previous edition. If you give them plasma guns and plasma cannons, they can become really nasty with the Flaming Projectiles rule. Despite their fluff ("The bolters carried by the Legionnaires, though in aspect no different to those borne by other Space Marines, discharge flaming projectiles that can pierce the strongest armour"), the Flaming Projectiles special rule simply makes their shots ignore cover. With a description like that, you'd think they'd have something like the Thousand Sons, and have AP3 bolters or something.
Nostalgia: - Rules for the Legion of the Damned first appeared in the Rogue Trader era (White Dwarf U.S. #99, pp. 39-42). In 2nd Edition their rules were in the general Space Marines Codex, Codex Ultramarines (pp. 74-75). There used to be rules for entire armies of Legion of the Damned way back in 3rd Edition, in the good old days of Chapter Approved which used the Space Marine codex as a base and offered variant rules for gameplay (much like modern day supplements... except they were only the cost of a White Dwarf). While they were not as badass as they became in 6th, you still got an entire army of space marines with 6++ saves and the ability to deep strike. Actually, there were rules for whole armies in 2nd ed, too, published in White Dwarf 224 (August 1998), which surely saw a lot of use between then and the release of third edition in October 1998. Two months may well be a record for shortest lifetime of a GW army list.
We recently got a digital Legion of the Damned Codex, and like all digital codices there's barely any crunch to it. Basically you must take one squad of Damned Legionnaires, but the mandatory squad doesn't take up an elites slot. Also Damned Legionnaires are scoring, and they get an actually useful warlord traits table. That's it. Sergeant Centurius' special skull is back, and it's explicitly stated in promotional materials that it allows you to use a sergeant to represent him. It's also impossible to field them on their own since the whole army starts in reserve, unless you are playing a very specific mission against Orks, and even then you are forced to ally with Ultramarines; if you do try to field them on their own you will be forced to concede turn 1 every time unless you're playing planetstrike... but then you may still end up accidentally conceding first turn if you roll badly on reserves.
As of 8th Edition, Damned Legionnaires are back as an Elites choice, and you can take as many as you like (poor old Centurius is still missing though, unfortunately). They have narrower weapons options than Tactical Squads (they only get heat-based special and heavy weapons - Meltas, Flamers, Plasma guns, Heavy Flamers and Multimeltas) but they have three extra special rules on top of And They Shall Know No Fear: All their attacks ignore cover (Flaming Projectiles); they all get a 3++ (Unyielding Spectres); and they can deploy off-board then materialize at the end of any of your movement phases (deep-strike), anywhere on the board that's more than 9" from an enemy (Aid Unlooked For). They're twice as expensive as a regular Tactical Marine at 25 rather than 13 points each, and stats-wise they've got 1" less movement, +1 Attack, and a Leadership of 10 rather than 7 (and you've still got ATSKNF on top of that).
Also their models are out of print; they've been stricken from printed rulebooks, and moved to the Warhammer Legends series, a mark of honor where GeeDubs knows we love a certain unit too much to just Squat them entirely. The bad news, they aren't being considered for a price drop anytime soon (and that 25 points per model really hurts them). The good news, Legends rules are listed for free online, you no longer need to lug around the Index books just to play with your awesome loyal flaming zombiemarines.
As time moves ever onward in now 9th edition, the Legion of the Damned remains in Warhammer Legends purgatory with the rest of GW's out of print models from yesteryear. As expected, GW hasn't touched their Legends data sheet, so Damned Legionnaires are slowly starting to feel the pull of obsolescence as new/reworked versions of their weapons become accessible to currently supported marines (the changes to Melta weaponry in particular) while they're stuck with their past variants. Fortunately, you'll probably be able to get away with "substituting" the new versions of the weapons in since you won't be bringing these guys to any competitive matches anyways. Rather hilariously, though, the Sergeant can take a Storm Bolter, and keep his Boltgun. So this one stubborn bastard can put out 6 bolter shots a turn. If, and it's a big if, you're looking to run these guys in tournaments for whatever reason, running them as a Salamanders Successor or as Deathwatch would probably be your best bet at capturing their fluff and crunch, respectively.
You are Guardswoman Sonja Larsson, 427th Valhallan. Your regiment was ordered to hold a world in the face of one of Abbadon the Despoiler's Black Crusades. Reinforcements are promised, but everyone knows they won’t make it in time. As the Warp becomes ever more unstable, heralding the coming of the massive Chaos fleet, your regimental commander, the Colonel, loses all contact with outside forces. The 427th is cut off. You dig in, knowing that no matter what happens, the regiment, and you, will die here. One way or another.
But you are Imperial Guard. You are the only thing standing between the innocent men, women, and children living upon this doomed world and the ravaging hordes of Chaos.
So you do the only thing you can. You are Imperial Guard. You hold the line.
Your comrades die in the hundreds, in the thousands, but they die standing. They die facing the enemy, firing and slashing with bayonets, shouting battle-cries as they die for the Emperor and Humanity.
The outer lines are overrun.
Ammunition is dangerously low, and the medics have long since run out of supplies.
The Colonel walks the lines, as he has every night the 427th has been here. That's the kind of man he is. As he passes your position, he pauses.
He looks down at you kindly as you sit there behind the heavy bolter.
He asks how you're holding up, as he does every night, to every soldier in the regiment. You smile wanly and answer, "The Emperor protects, Sir." It is the same answer you always give him, but this time, it carries a note of finality.
You see it in his face, too - you both know that this is the last time he'll be able to ask that question. You both know this will be the last time you can answer it.
He begins to turn, to walk to the other Guardsmen, when a shout comes from a lookout post, and the mortar thumps as a star shell is fired over the outer lines.
You look out, and by the fierce, pale light of the burning shell, you see the ground moving toward you. It takes you a moment to realize that it isn't the ground - the soldiers of Chaos are so tightly packed that it only seems so.
As the shell bursts and lights up the night, a huge, grating scream comes from those lost souls, and they charge heedless toward your pitiful defenses.
You rack the charging handle on the heavy bolter and open fire, the muzzle flashes ruining your night vision, the deafening report slamming your ears.
You cut down ten, fifty, you lose count. The bolter clicks empty, and you reach for a fresh belt, only to stop as the Colonel jams one into the feeder.
You squeeze the trigger again, bolter thundering, but it isn't enough. It can never be enough. Still, they come.
They crest the breastworks and pour into the trench, screaming blasphemous epithets as they throw themselves upon the defenders.
You abandon the emplaced bolter and take up your lasgun, firing heedlessly into the enemy.
You fire and fire and fire, never once missing - how could you miss? There is nowhere TO miss.
You are overrun.
The Colonel shouts the order to fall back, then pitches forward on his face, a cultist's bayonet planted in his back.
You shoot the man, shoot him again and again, until your lasgun's power cell runs dry.
Then reason reasserts itself, and you run. You climb the defensive wall and run for the final, inner defense. As you reach it, a head pops up from the trench. On its face, you see the Eight-Pointed-Star of Chaos.
There is no inner line. It has already been overrun.
You stand there, in shock. Cultists before you, behind you, on all sides. The Colonel is dead. Emperor only knows if ANYONE is left alive after that.
You have an urge to give up.
To sit down and accept your fate.
You remember your oath, the one you swore on that bright, proud day when you joined the regiment. You swore to protect the citizens of the Imperium, to the last breath and the last round.
You snap a new powercell into your lasgun.
You are Imperial Guard.
You will hold the line.
As this thought flashes through your mind, the night splits open around you.
From nowhere, huge, hulking figures in shining black armor appear from the shadows.
Tongues of flame leap from their hands, and some corner of your mind distantly notes that it sounds like bolter fire.
The figures surround you, shielding you from the Chaos tide. Their fire never slackens, and no matter how many times they are shot, are wounded, they do not falter. They do not fall.
They stand guard over you throughout the night, firing and slashing with their screaming blades.
The Chaos assault breaks against them like a wave upon a great rock, and they fall back in howling disorder.
Moments later, you hear the whistling of artillery rounds overhead, and the world explodes before you as the mighty Earthshaker cannons of Captain Petrenko's Basilisk squadron go to work. In minutes, not a single Chaos cultist stands before you.
Dawn breaks in a glorious, red sunrise.
As you watch, the figures - the Space Marines, you realize - begin to fade with the dawn, vanishing as silently as they appeared.
You snap out of your fugue state, then run to the nearest Marine, falling to your knees at his feet.
Voice shaking, you thank him for saving you, for saving the 427th, for saving this world. He looks silently down at you, and you shrink away from that silent gaze, slightly. It is no mean feat to bear up under the gaze of the Astartes, especially one such as this.
His armor is black, and emblazoned with flames, skulls, and bones. His bolter smokes slightly from the muzzle.
He begins to fade, and you shout.
"Who are you? How did you get here? Why did you save me?"
The Marine pauses, and then, for the first and last time, a Damned Legionnaire speaks.
"We are the Emperor's Will. We came because there was need. We saved you because you held the line."
The sun clears the mountains, and the Marine is gone.