Battle Report: Battle of New Babylon (53PL, 8th Edition)
We received word that we were to deploy to a system near the Cicatrix Maledictum named New Babylon. The intel reports told me that the system was once a bustling hive world, a shining example of the Imperium's potential. All that had ended when a Chaos cult had taken root, infecting the population so quickly and so completely that the Inquisition had had no choice but to sentence the planet to Exterminatus.
New Babylon, and its capital hive of the same name, were empty ruins now. Virus bombed beyond recognition, the planet was now home to nothing but death.
|New Babylon: Population |
Yet, on the surface, something stirred.
Surface scans indicated life readings near a sector of the city formerly home to a massive shrine. Imperial records were incomplete, but several sources seemed to imply that the shrine could have contained a large collection of Astartes relics. Our mission was to obtain these relics before whatever was on the surface secured them.
Since the surface of New Babylon was still considered inhospitable to humans without proper respiratory filters, our Guard compatriots were unable to deploy alongside us. We were alone. On one hand, I somewhat relished the opportunity to flex the might of my Marines without worrying about the survival of the unaugmented humans. But on the other hand, their presence had become a comfort to me; I respected their bravery and flexibility in battle.
We dropped into battle in the dead of night, deploying in a large square and moving by foot into the mission zone. I set up a base of operations in a tall building on the western edge of the sector, situating my Hellblasters on the roof and a squad of Intercessors on the floor below.
|The Command Post|
We moved into position swiftly and silently and awaited more detailed scans of the area to ascertain the exact positions of the relics in the sector.
Just then, my helmet sensors picked up movement in the ruin across the main street of the sector. Something bulky and dark. "Request illumination, Grid Alfa-Roman-Roman" I said quietly into my helmet vox, although there was no need. A flare popped from a handheld launcher, and the brilliant white glow illuminated the building I had designated.
|The enemy is revealed|
Three huge Astartes Centurion suits occupied the upper floors of the crumbling ruin. "OPEN FIRE!!!" I called without hesitation. If these Astartes had deployed here without notifying my high command, then that could mean only one thing. They too had been corrupted by Chaos.
The Hellblasters' plasma incinerators lit up the night with their harsh blue glow, Sergeant Fyodorov ordering two of his men to overcharge their weapons, while doing the same with his own. I saw one of the Centurions go down in a heap of melted slag, but the fight was far from over. I received word from reconnaissance on the positions of the potential relics caches, and while my first instinct was to ignore the reports in favor of destroying the enemy, I remembered my mission. I ordered Lieutenant Rav to advance the forward squads.
The night exploded.
Tripwires in the ruins had triggered booby traps. The heretics had been expecting us. I saw a Primaris Marine savagely eviscerated by shrapnel, and even Lieutenant Rav was wounded in a blast as he sprinted through a ruin to link up with Dimitri Squad.
|A bloody advance|
"Relic cache recovered, Sir" I heard over my vox network. The advance had cost us, but we were completing our objectives.
The Centurions opened fire, tracers streaking through the dark and illuminating the rubble of the city below. I saw another burning light and recognized it as the glow of jetpack exhaust. "All units, be advised, assault troops incoming!" I barked into the vox, but it was too late. Bolt pistols roared and raked fire along the length of the advancing squad's line, taking down three of their Marines.
"Lieutenant, get in that building and take down those Centurions!"
"Yes Sir!" Rav replied, and moved what was left of his squads to the enemy's base of fire. Meanwhile, I spotted a ghostly arc of lightning jump to the ground behind the Centurions' ruin. Psykers.
"Zoya Squad!" I called out on the vox.
"Zoya Squad conducting orbital maneuvers, Captain. Awaiting orders."
"Drop in Grid Alfa-Ivan-Eho. Eliminate enemy command." I said grimly.
"Yes Sir, Comrade Captain."
A few moments later, three shooting stars appeared over the horizon, moving faster than the roaring sound of their crash through the atmosphere. They slowed and slammed down on the eastern side of the sector, their drag chutes glowing red in the dark.
The Inceptors raised their assault bolters and fired a blistering fusillade into the enemy. Through their helmet optics, I saw what I had expected. A psyker, and what looked like a decorated veteran with glowing lightning claws. I also saw clearly for the first time the emblems on their shoulders. Raven Guard. That would explain the enemy's stealth, and their use of traps.
That they weren't an enemy never crossed my mind. Some of my Marines, good men, were lying in the street bleeding from bombs and bullets that the Raven Guard had fired. Short of a direct order from high command, I was going to be settling the score this day.
My Hellblasters and Intercessors continued to pour fire into the enemy, and I saw flashes and heard flat bangs from the Centurions' post as Lieutenant Rav led the men in to clear the building, tossing grenades through crumbling doors to precede them.
Just then, I saw the jets of flames from my Inceptors' jump packs, and they arced through the air towards the enemy commander.
There was a thundering crash, then silence. A moment later, my vox crackled.
"Warlord down." came the terse report from the Inceptors. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Lieutenant Rav and the remnants of Dimitri Squad were making good progress through the upper levels of the Centurions' ruins, smashing through a scout squad on the lower level. But the enemy was closing in. "Fall back!" I ordered, but it was too late.
As they descended the floors of the building, the assault marines surrounded the ruin and began firing. I heard nothing but static on Lieutenant Rav's channel, and I cursed myself for ordering him to carry out what would become a suicide mission.
My vox chirped, and Zhuk Squad reported, "Relic 3 secured, Sir. All objectives secure."
I sighed and relayed the status to my command.
"Hammers, fall back to the extraction point. Mission accomplished." I voxed.
My words should have been victorious, proud. But with every casualty I suffered under my command, my pride diminished. Victory felt very far away.