#1 Edited by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

Western fringe of the galaxy, 20 parsecs from the Holocaust system

The Imperial agri-world of Prandus lay covered in a writhing grey mass of metal as a swarm of effigies broke it down into it's base elements and began to convert it into more raw material to add to the massive fleet that hung overhead. A colossal assembly of ships stretched for entire parsecs, releasing a deafening amount of electronic communications chatter that blotted out both electronic and tachyon based communications which had proven debilitating to those that had relied on such methods for interstellar communications, though the psyker using Symaarians were unaffected. It mattered not, the poorly defended agri-world fell in a matter of hours, it's defenders being swept aside like matchsticks before an overwhelming tusnami of metal.

Entire sectors had been lost to the oncoming machines, overwhelmed and drowned in this tide of death. What could they have done? The fleet was of a scale almost never seen before in the entire galaxy. So vast it was, that their advance around the star Prandus orbited completely blocked out the star, smothering virtually every last bit of it's light. Upon one of the largest of the ships, an enormous metallic sea-scorpion shaped vessel with enormous crackling, flexing tendrils and a huge series of tentacles behind it, seeming to push it through space despite the seeming lack of engines, a vast assembly of machines stood in waiting, chanting out one mantra as the protectorate fleet dashed off into quantum space, advancing at superluminal velocities to the world of Holocaust.

"THE PROTECTORATE IS SUPREME! ALL HAIL THE PROTECTORATE! THE PROTECTORATE IS SUPREME! ALL HAIL THE PROTECTORATE!" They chanted again and again, the chatter of billions of voices deafening all others as a menagerie of machines of all shapes and sizes milled about, getting into their deployment positions. Even if they had not spoken, the simple noise of their movement alone would have been deafening, for such was their number.

Soon, an distinctively shaped exterminator with two large servo arms emerging from it's back and prominent upper body buttresses serenely glided into the assembly, rotating it's head and eyestalk to face the assembly. "WE ARE ON THE VER-GE OF TO-TAL CON-QUEST. THIS GA-LA-XY WAS FEE-BLE IN IT'S ATT-EMPTS TO RE-SIST US." The fleetmaster reported with a booming, monotoned voice, one that sounded as if it was attempting to choke back it's unimaginable loathing for all things. "IN MERE MIN-UTES WE WILL BE U-PON THE SY-MAAR-IAN WORLD OF HO-LO-CAUST. THIS WILL BE THIS GA-LA-XIES LAST STAND AGAINST HAR-VES-TER FLEET CI-THON! LET THEM TREM-BLE BE-FORE US! LET THEM KNOW THAT RES-IS-TANCE AGAINST THE AR-MIES OF THE I-CON IS FU-TILE!" The Supreme Fleetmaster boomed, to the echoed cheers of the protectorate armies milling about in the command vessel.

"FROM HERE WE SHALL GO ON TO CON-SUME EV-ERY WORLD IN THIS MIS-ER-A-BLE GA-LA-XY. AND THE O-THER FLEETS SHALL KNOW THAT IT WAS CI-THON THAT LAID LOW THE MIL-KY WAY! THIS...FORGE WOR-LD THAT WE SHALL ASS-AULT WILL BE WELL DEF-EN-DED...BUT NOT IM-PEN-E-TRA-BLE TO US! FOR THESE SY-MAA-RI-ANS CAN-NOT HOPE TO STAND AGA-INST THE TRUE-EST SER-VANTS OF THE I-CON! ALL HAIL THE I-CON! BLE-SSED BE HIS NAME!" Fleetmaster cithon boomed, prompting the rest of the assembly to repeat the last two sentences in a maddening mantra. For thousands of light years around, all tachyon receivers received that mantra, blared again and again in the voice of a legion, of an infinite army.

Finally, the first elements of the protectorate fleet began to drop out of quantum space at the outskirts of the holocaust system in a vast metal swarm that left ripples in the very fabric of space due to the sheer number of ships dropping into real space all at once. It would be akin to dropping a thousand stones on a trampoline of all different kinds of shapes and sizes all in rapid succession and never ceasing, never stopping, never faltering, not even for a moment. Fleetmaster Cithon rotated it body to face forward on his bridge controls where itwas wirelessly linked to the entirety of his fleet. "CON-TACT THESE WEAK BE-INGS OF FLESH. GIVE THEM THE U-SUAL MES-SAGE. TELL THEM THAT THE END HAS COME FOR THEIR PIT-I-FUL IM-PER-IUM." It commanded in a metallic snarl that echoed through the ship.

As it had done with every world before, the Protectorate Fleet broadcast one message, and one message only to the world it targeted. A message that chanted out one simple word, one word that communicated every intricacy of their intentions, every last detail of what they had planned for everything they met, a message that in it's own way, was more terrifying than the typical long-winded and pompous speeches given by most interstellar conquerors. It was just one word, chanted in a million voices by a number of mouths that outnumbered the very stars themselves. "EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" The message blared out in every frequency the protectorate was capable of using.

A message that only grew louder and more insistent with each new ship that dropped into real space. For those on the world of holocaust, it would look as if an entire region of space had turned into a single gold and red mass with piercing blue lights, a mass of ships that had amassed in numbers beyond counting. But the Protectorate's flair for the dramatics had cost them any hope of the element of surprise, by now the Symaarian Imperium had an idea of what they were facing, and it had been no secret that the fleet was converging on the Holocaust system, giving the Imperium time to prepare. Preparations that were soon to be put into use.

A fleet several parsecs across soon manifested itself into real space, primarily made up of smaller escort vessels that were slaved to the commands of the massive capital ships, having learned that the inhabitants of the galaxy had experience in fleet combat with the Tyranids who used lagrely similar tactics in space, the Protectorate had taken greater measures to use it's lesser vessels as shields for it's much more important capitol ships, who themselves guarded the titanic behemoth transports that would vomit forth the main core of their armies, though by all means, each and every vessel had it's own contingent of soldiers.

The protectorate fleet immediately began to sweep the area for mines as it began to power it's way through the comet fields of the system, making it's implacable approach to the main planets in as brutal and unsubtle a fashion as only harvester fleet Cithon could manage. A vast collection of metal gathered in clusters so thick that even a blind gunner would be able to hit something ten times out of ten with the most inaccurate weapon on his ship. This allowed for the best possible interceptor screens for the transports and capitol ships, as there would always be a vessel in position to intercept a shot, though by all means a sufficiently heavy barrage would be able to penetrate through the screen.

If there could be said to be a weakness in the incoming fleet, it's that while it's ships were incredibly numerous and well armed, only the largest of command ships and transports and those vessels built for no other purpose than to serve as "meatshields" for the above two categories had durability comparable to vessels of a similar size used by other factions. Some would call this a callous disregard for the existences of their fleet, the Protectorate considered to be the most prudent usage of it's resources possible.

#2 Posted by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

"Sire, Symaarian Guard levies have arrived in earnest - nearly five-hundred thousand," a scribe addressed to his lord.  
 
The icon of the Blood Acolytes glowed on the initiate's cloak as he bowed his head, various decorations of faith clattering as he did so. His shaved head remained down for as long as the much larger Symaarian stewed in his thoughts. At length, the scribe's host hoisted himself to his feet and held out his arms. Dozens of servitors carrying pieces of ceramite armor forged in solid gold lifted them onto the man's body, locking them into place in correspondence to a special genetic implant in his body. The road map of scars on his body began to become entirely concealed by the suit. The last article came to him in the form of a helmet cast in the mold of a face knowing absolute and righteous anger, a face the man knew all too well. Holding the helmet by the commander's crest extending across the scalp and down past where the ears would be, the shining example of the Navigator's gestalt willpower slipped it over his head before the various hydraulic locks hissed into place with a jet of steam. He opened the ventilation system with a thought, inhaling the incense-laden air deeply as he began a waking dream he had dreamed many times before.  
 
"Brother Antioch," he said in a voice accustomed to commanding armies and striking fear into the hearts of the myriad horrors of the galaxy.  
 
"Yes my lord?" The scribe responded, daring a glimpse at the golden giant.  
 
"Prepare yourself and go to the front lines, where your brothers are waiting. I shall consult Brother Xethos for his wisdom." 
 
"As you wish, Lord Torquemada." 
 
--- 
 
Torquemada always had a deep feeling of regret whenever he entered the Chamber of Sarcophagi holding the various Dreadnoughts of the Legion. Having served for over one-thousand years, Torquemada had his fair share of casualties as he led bloody charges deep into the enemy's core. His command offered a fiery zeal to those who followed, a zeal that often resulted in a bloody death for the overconfident and inexperienced. He held personal responsibility for Brother Xethos, whom he carried back to the Blood Priests on his own shoulders after breaking the back of an Ork WAAAGH! he had long ago forgotten the incoherent name of. He remembered slaying many and his power fist had grown dim by battle's end. Xethos had left his sight for a fraction of a moment before a rogue grenade slipped under his vision and exploded. Torquemada watched as Xethos was faced with either death or entombment in a Dreadnought. The choice was clear and Xethos prospered for another eight-hundred years while locked in the machine that both multiplied his battle prowess and kept him imprisoned in life-support. Not to Torquemada's surprise, Xethos had already been awakened for the coming storm and was being armed by a cadre of servitors programmed with various battle codes designed to calculate the best possible loadout. In order to counter the so-called "Protectorate," these servitors were primarily using Tyranid code mixed with Necron data and therefore were arming Xethos with a multi-melta as well as installing a heavy flamer onto his seismic hammer arm.  
 
Torquemada watched for a moment before Xethos realized he was host to the Warmaster of his Legion. He replied to Torquemada's presence with a metallic grunt before his voice receptor kicked into gear, initializing a speech program that translated his short, staggered breaths into words with a heavy metallic drone.  
 
"Lord Torquemada...it has been a long time...is it the hour of war? I grow tired of...waiting..." 
 
"Patience, brother. There will be foes aplenty in the hours to come. As of right now, I come to you asking that you remember your days fighting the Necrons on Vdor," 
 
"Ah yes. It was a glorious day, brother. Five hundred of our finest warriors arrayed in perfect battle formation and sparkling with a sheen of fresh blood coating their armor. We had just purged a nest of cultists, had we not?" 
 
Torquemada nodded, focused on his brother's words.  
 
"Indeed. The ground split apart and we found ourselves fighting against a newly awakened Necron tomb. If I remember correctly, the tech-priests attributed it to our fighting scant moments before. The Xenos weaponry was fearsome, and tore many of our brothers apart atom by atom. We defeated them, however, for even after three more months of fighting on that backwater world we still managed to fight into their tomb complex and destroy it from the inside-out. An astounding victory, indeed. Are our latest foes anything like the Necrons, Lord Torquemada?"  
 
"They are like many things we have faced before, Xethos. They swarm like Tyranids, yet are more like the abominable Necrons in nature. They are brutal and short-minded like the Orks, yet have an unbreakable faith reminiscent of the bearers of the eight-pointed star," 
 
"Recommended course of action, then?" Xethos muttered as his arms were wired into place and activated in short order.  
 
"We do as we have always done - we break them in half." 
 
With a satisfied hiss from the various hydraulic locks slamming in and out of place, Xethos raised his mighty seismic hammer and brought it down with a floor-denting earthquake.  
 
"Then let us begin!" 
 
--- 
 
Torquemada took to the pulpit as he often did to address his troops. Though they fought together, the Blood Acolytes and Symaarian Guard still stood segregated into two mighty formations of unbreakable willpower. Each faced turned toward Torquemada, every gun raised to the sky in perfect unison. The Guardsmen levies were trained soldiers from the finest Holocaust Death Corps. They requested the most dangerous fighting zones and a Space Marine fortress would surely bear the brunt of some of the hardest fighting ever to come to the sector. As such, the red-armored Blood Acolytes were ready to defend their home and livelihood to the last man - all 1,600 of them. With his Chaplains and Blood Priests making rounds through the columns of Space Marines, Torquemada addressed the crowd.  
 
"I know you have heard the warnings, for I have as well. These Xenos proclaiming themselves as the Protectorate have overtaken worlds all over the Western Fringe of the Imperium, most of them being undefended agri-worlds or prison planets. They only now seek to fight a worthy foe after attempting a campaign of fear. We have seen it all before, even from the simple-minded Orks. We will not falter. The Death's Head titan legion joins us in righteous battle today, as do fourteen whole regiments of Guardsmen hailing from nearby Holocaust. Take heart in their noble sacrifice and attention to duty! Show them why we are Space Marines! Show them why we are the Navigator's chosen Angels of Death! This day is hardly a last stand. It is a glorious battle in the waiting! All you need is to take it and the victory that awaits you!" 
  
From beyond the clouds came a sound, slow at first, and then escalating in volume until it became the buzzing of a swarm.  
 
"To arms, Symaarians! Make the Allfather proud this day!" 
 
As if on cue, the entire plateau emptied as the various forces of the Imperium raced to their positions on the walls or to troop transports for immediate travel to the trenches. In a matter of moments, there was such a roar of engines that it rivaled the incoming chattering. Battle tanks of all shapes and sizes, from the humble Space Marine Predator to super-heavies such as the Baneblade and Shadowsword, trudged alongside artillery pieces belonging to both Guard and Marine technicians. Rhinos and Chimeras kicked up vast plumes of dust as they stopped mere yards from the trenches, depositing squads of every conceivable ranged aptitude onto the loamy soil. Wave after wave of them followed, mostly Chimeras, but every Rhino that emptied a Devastator or Tactical Marine squad offered soldiers that were each a match for a battalion of Guardsmen.   
 
As the first cracks of gunfire erupted from orbiting Symaarian Navy battleships, Torquemada smiled. 
 

"Let them come."
#3 Posted by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

Eliminator Omega watched his tactical display as data fed into it, the opening barrage had blasted apart many escort vessels into scrap, followed by the reports of many capital ships being lost. The protectorate considered defense something only to be invested upon the most elite, even battleships were considered expendable to the Core Mind A.Is, who calculated the functions of risk and had deemed the projected losses to be well within acceptable paramaters. "Battleship 9931301zz dash Omega lost." One display said and to a viewport to the left, the machine could see the anomalocarid shaped battleship's entire front crumpling up like an accordion as a nova cannon shell slammed into it's 'head' and then detonated within, creating an enormous green fireball that eradicated many of it's escorts.

"FLEET LO-SSES OF TASK FORCE AL-PHA 11 DASH PRI-MUS PLU-RAL AAA AT 90% AND RI-SING SU-PRE-ME FLEET-MAS-TER." One black domed Exterminator reported, serenely rotating it's head dome to face the gold buttressed and back servo arm equipped fleet master. "LO-SSES ARE ACC-EPT-A-BLE. PRO-CEED." The snarling voice of the fleet master boomed as the writhing tentacles of the command dreadnought propelled it through space like some sort of living being, surrounded by hordes of lesser ships used as shields, including hardshelled and heavily shielded and studded with active defense weaponry guard ships whose sole purpose was to intercept, shoot down, and absorb incoming shots or smallcraft.

"SPLIT TRANS-PORT FLEET AND ES-CORTS OFF FROM MAIN GROUP. OM-E-GA, VE-NUS, YOU WILL USE THE TE-LE-POR-TERS TO TRANS-FER TO THE TRANS-PORT FLEET. THE I-CON HAS SPO-KEN TO-DAY AND IT WILL BE I WHO CO-MMANDS THE GLO-RY FROM THE STARS!" The thundering monotone of the supreme fleetmaster commanded, prompting a nod from Eliminator Omega and the human mimicking Venus, who transferred their intelligences into awaiting nanite pools within behemoth transports that resembled vast, bloated spore mines in an odd sense.

The transport fleets began to break off from the engagement, attempting to pull downwards so that they could attempt to disembark some soldiers and begin the ground assault while the space fleets attempted to wrestle for space superiority. Of course fleetmaster ensured that there would be a substantial reserve of transport fleets left in place should this gamble fail. A lance battery cracked a horseshoe crab like grand cruiser apart, yellow rays spearing through it's frame as it's lightning guns began to fire. The grand cruiser stumbled in space as it's momentum was thrown off before it finally exploded.

"PRE-PARE M-BRANE BATTERIES...." The Fleetmaster commanded as a series of trilobite shaped interdictor destroyers cracked off their lightning gun batteries, sending blue arcs of electric fury towards the imperials as a set of frigates ruptured from an incoming torpedoe barrage, their hulls splitting open and spilling their contents into the depths of space. Defense laser batteries from the ground below spoke and sent reed beams ripping through the tesla destroyers, lancing straight through their hulls and detonating them. But the protectorate seemed to be utterly unconcerned with the obliteration of their frontlines, they were simply bringing forth the next wave to fill in the gaps, these other waves typically meeting the same fate moments later.

As the protectorate finally started to get within range, the strange, shrieking multicoloured bolts of the M-brane guns leapt out of their batteries, flinging themselves amongst the ships and star forts of the imperial fleet and then detonating. For a few moments, the barriers that kept apart the twelve dimensions of space in a neat, orderly fashion, were ripped away ain as violent a manner as possible, and all twelve dimensions came crashing down upon each other, having similar effects on the reality caught in their detonation radius as a house of cards having it's bottom ripped out.

But truth be told, although looking into the explosions of the M-brane blasters was of dubious healthiness for their minds, they were not quite as potent as the Nova cannons of the Symaarians on a pound for pound basis. As the next wave of protectorate vessels pushed through the debris left by their comrades, they disgorged their flocks of smallcraft who clung onto their exteriors like vermin onto the hides of a beast. Screamers, Locusts, Gremlins, Impalers, Eviscerators, and other smallcraft flung themselves off of their carriers and began to choke the void of space with their sheer numbers, hurtling towards themselves through the silent void of space to try and get into close range.

The transport fleets, after suffering their own losses, disgorged their own smallcraft, vomiting out enormous streams of drop pods, shuttles, fighters, bombers, ground attack craft, gunships, and what have you as they made their descent towards the planet. The enormously expendable gremlins made sure to be closest to the ground to soak up the enormous barrages of anti-aircraft fire, getting blasted, shot apart, and ripped out of the sky in massive numbers as they sacrificed themselves to ensure that the ground forces would land upon the planet and begin to set up the manufacturing bases to allow them to self sustain their presence on the planet as long as the recyclers could gather resources.

Swarms of effigies began to pile out of the initial drop pods that had managed to land through the withering hail of fire and began to rapidly assemble manufactorum facilities on the ground, what they needed, was cover, cover that was being granted by the enormous waves of metal that were disembarking from their transports witha ll due haste while the aircraft began to pull up and move into support the assaults of the ground troops. And of course, the first in this attack was the malacostratas, metallic crabs the size of small dogs whose distinctive "snick, snap" echoed through the air as they sped through ground, followed by the child sized aggressors, who rushed forward in vast numberss the cry of "ROGEROGEROGEROGEROGER" Drowning out even the sound of their feet marching, as they moved with almost indecent haste to get within range of the foes they were being directed to assault.

Breaking up waves of lesser troops were the small, triangular Reflex light tanks, whose motors whirred forward noiselessly as they drove towards the Symaarian lines at full throttle, while the thin, tripedal Defilers with their crescent shaped heads, interrupted only by an ominous blue optic that contained large and powerful modules. In the skies flew forth huge flocks of shrieking gremlins, moving in support of this massive preliminary assault meant to test the strength of their foes to determine just how much of the heavy support the protectorate truly needed. The skittering, squidlike frames of the vivesector mechs, built for a heavier sort of melee than the malacostratas, darted across the ground and some even engaged in some limited flight, their limbs clearly ending in wicked blades of all sorts, making no attempt to disguise their intent for melee.

For those Symaarians manning the defenses, it would appear s nothing more than a huge mass of gold, red, interrupted by the blazing burning blue glow of their optics, a mass so thick that even a blind man couldn't miss at any visual range. They began to charge, heedless of the losses they were taking as those with the weaponry to do so began to open fire at range, stepping over their own fallen as they were cut down in droves. The battle on the ground had been joined at last.

#4 Posted by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

The initial waves the Protectorate sent in were laughable at best. Even the humble lasgun managed to rip through the soft metal bodies of the childlike robotic organisms with frightening ease. The large-caliber rounds of the Space Marines manning the trenches alongside the astounded Guardsmen hardly had use for their close combat weapons, seeing as how their bolters pierced so deeply into the metallic horde and caused so many casualties. With such a devastating rending quality add to even the smallest of their firearms, the united Symaarian defense only utilized artillery and tank fire support to blast holes in the oncoming swarm, leaving pockets of blasted earth that were soon covered in the remnants of whatever had scuttled there only to be filled once more with a shifting mass of bodies. Every now and again, divisions of vehicles popped up from underneath the shining metal carpet of droids. These were easily dispatched by not the lascannons the Symaarians were trained to use against armored foes, but with the autocannons and heavy bolters attached to the Predators usually reserved for anti-infantry detail. It was an altogether strange experience for the Symaarian defenders, but they had seen enough of warfare against the Tyranids to realize just what was going on. Torquemada saw it as plain as day when his Librarians gave him an estimate of the numbers they would face this day.  
 
The Protectorate was effectively endless, a trait they shared with the Tyranids. Torquemada assumed that they were as adaptive as the extra-galactic insectoid race and, based on this assumption, reserved his heaviest guns for a later time just in case the machines were to adapt some sort of immunity against them. Indeed, even the three Godhammer cannons installed in the Blood Acolytes' fortress-monastery were quiet as were their assortments of Hellstorm cannons. Only the automated planetary defense lasers rang out in defiance of the ships slowly surrounding Scion. Torquemada could only assume that the Symaarian Navy had either retreated to join the blockade around Holocaust or were entirely lost. He hoped for the former as he studied the current situation of the battle evolving in front of him.   
 
The tide assembled before them had all manner of bizarre war-making device at their disposal. The most dangerous engaged so far were made in the fashion of monsters that inhabited the deep oceans of far-away worlds. To the mind of a Guardsman from Holocaust, they looked and acted like the ferocious magma worms but with many wild limbs. It only took the butchering of a few dozen Guardsmen for the defense line to prioritize these constructions over the masses of droids, thought there was enough firepower for every single one of the rambling automatons. 
 
The Protectorate, similar in fashion to the Tyranids, cared little if anything for their losses and kept trudging forward over growing mounds of their own dead. Symaarian Guard losses were minimal while Space Marine casualties were nonexistent. The droids were merely a test for the horrors yet to come. Scion had enough ammunition to keep up resistance until the end of time. Torquemada only wondered if it would take that long to stem the Protectorate.  
 
It was then that he began receiving reports that the skies attended to the fiercest forms of the Protectorate outside of the tentacled ones. These automatons harried what the ground forces could not get close to. Combining numbers with confusion and a two-pronged attack, the Protectorate sought to drown the Symaarians in bodies. Flamers helped considerably against everything the Protectorate threw against them, but it was not enough. What the plumes of fire did not consume immediately rushed in with renewed vigor. Promethium tanks took a scant few seconds to replace, and this time was all the robots needed to close the gap. Torquemada assembled his honor guard from the shadows with a gesture. Chaplain Caligula, High Blood Priest Gallan, the Legion Champion Raphael, as well as three other veteran marines from the First Company assembled behind him armed with an assortment of fierce close combat gear. Torquemada himself held the Ax Mortalis, an ancient relic of his Legion, and breathed heavily through his mask. The cold visage of the former Warmaster Cortez stared into the abyss of metal drowning out all light from Holocaust's intolerably hot sun. He needed no verbal orders for his brothers to follow, only a single mental impulse to activate the jump pack strapped to his back. On wings of fire, Torquemada and his honor guard raged into battle as the entire Fourth Company followed in haste. A single battle cry matched the roaring monotony of the Protectorate as the brutality of the Blood Acolytes was unleashed in its rawest form: 
 
"By blood and by honor, let none survive! To the assault and death to the enemy!"

#5 Posted by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

The core mind A.Is of the protectorate watched with keen but detatched interest as they sent forth their hordes to test the mettle of a true symaarian army, not the mere outposts that they had so far faced. As they had coldly calculated, the aggressors, malacostratas, and reflex tanks were being cut down in large numbers, and so many gremlins were falling out of the sky it was virtually raining with their batlike bodies. "Light units with conventional modules ineffective when unsupported...mobilize heavier support." One dispassionate A.I commanded in the cyberspace that the A.Is occupied. "Yes, let them tremble before our might...pick the flesh from the bones of these worms!" An especially bloodthirsty A.I snarled out in concurrence.

A malacostrata futilely leapt at a blood acolyte, only to be scythed in half by a roaring chainsword that cut through it's soft metal and sent it's metallic interior sparking out in all directions, revealing surprisingly little internal moving parts. The vivesectors attempted to fly in and out of melee, attempting to use their speed and reach to their advantage, only to find that their chain claws had frustratingly little success against the ceramite armour of space marines, and that the space marine's freedom from fear allowed them to calmly place their shots at their vulnerable but small heads rather than futilely trying to blast or hack at their tentacles.

The ever slow to react aggressors soon revealed the most inherent flaw in slaving multiple units to a single processor, while it was good for ranged combat where each aggressor legion only needed to concern itself with one direction, in the swirling confusion of melee created when enemies jump jetted or teleported into their midsts, they could not reduce the master to slave ratio to less than one to six, meaning that each aggressor in a slave unit had to repeat it's master's actions exactly. This resulted in the fists and guns of the aggressors hitting one another much more frequently than they hit the red hurricane of power armoured destruction that was cutting through them.

The malacostratas, whom the aggressors usually relied on to deal with melee, were simply too short to hit anything of importance on the space marines without getting the space they needed for a tackling leap, which was both impossible to get within the tightly packed ranks of the protectorate forces and would not be able to do much more than annoy a space marine due to their massive size and strength. They feebly reached up, trying to snap their pincers at the space marines who mostly ended up stepping on them and crushing them rather than bothering to swing down at the diminuitive crab machines.

The defilers, whose personalities were programmed to avoid melee due to their lack of proficiency in the task, exacerbated by the fact that their tripedal gait meant that attempting to use one of their legs in melee would most likely end up toppling them, attempted to back off, bringing themselves into the range of anti-light vehicle fire that sent them tumbling over as their heads were ruptured like metallic watermelons. The reflex light tanks, attempted to shoot their 40mm conventional module cannons at the space marines, but their quick forms insured that the reflex tanks typically ended up blowing holes in their own formation, and in any case their guns could not pierce space marine armour.

The testing wave's numbers were already being thinned, but they were being pressed onwards with greater fervour by the guiding intelligence of their masters, attempting to mask the advance of recyclers that were moving in to reabsorb the mass of the fallen back into the resource pool of the protectorate. They seemed to devour everything metal they could find, prioritizing these as it would take the least amount of time and energy to convert them into matter suitable for the construction of more of the protectorate's war machines. Rumbling past them was the next wave of the protectorate, this time including the heavier units of the mechanical swarms.

But these were still many miles off, the testing wave furiously tried to push the frontlines away from the recyclers, to prevent them from being prioritized and targeted. Finally, the Shock Lord commanding this initial wave of the Protectorate revealed itself, emerging from behind a hill along with roughly sixty of the terminator like Offenders who worked to connect the lesser minions of the protectorate to their guiding masters, as well as ten phase tanks and twenty defilers. The ten meter tall behemoth lugged it's massive arm cannon forward as it's mandibles rippled in a scintillating wave of metal, contemplating as it stalked forward and lowered it's cannon to fire at the symaarian lines.

Commanding equalizer artillery tanks from behind the protectorate lines to begin firing, a series of blue bolts were lobbed out of 155mm cannons from a respectable distance, though the basilisk would be a more destructive artillery vehicle on a one on one basis, the Equalizers were coming in large numbers to begin their shelling, while screamer jets began to descend from the skies and strafe the guard lines with gatling automatic modules, peppering them with storms of blue bolts while the Shock Lord and it's entrouge continued forward, calmly pushing past the gold and red hordes of their lessers, a deep, bellowing and metallic roar ullulating from the many mandibled maw of the colossal shock lord.

Those who had paid close notice to the behaviour of the protectorate would have noticed that the destruction of those units with antennae seemed to momentarily confuse the other machines, much like the death of a Tyranid synapse creature, and with a command relay unit on the scale of a shock lord, the entire wave could stand and fight on in it's full frenzy with direction, or lose it's steam in the midst of confusion as they tried to reestablish their command link to the core minds.

#6 Posted by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

"Brother Lazarus," Torquemada said calmly despite his location in the heart of the enemy formation.  
 
From several hundred yards away, the message came to the ears of Devastator Squad "Scion's Fury" of the Fifth Company. The sergeant of that squad put his hand to a communications device installed in his ear, simultaneously smashing through dozens of the Protectorate's smaller creations with his power fist without effort.  
 
"Reporting Lord Torquemada. Where do you wish the fires of retribution to spread?" 
 
"These abominations are recycling themselves in the fashion of the Necron species. Burn anything you can find of their wretched species into molten slag." Torquemada replied as the Ax Mortalis clove through the spidery legs of a nearby tripod, sending it crashing headfirst into the ground.  
 
"It will be done, my lord." 
 
--- 
  
Lorenzo hefted his multi-melta again for what seemed to be the hundredth time this day. He had just finished replacing the fuel cell and aimed at a mound of robotic "corpses" choking the battlefield in front of the trenches. Nearby Guardsmen put their flamers and handheld meltaguns to similar use, finding little threat in the hordes of Protectorate drones that fell like flies to lasgun fire. A killing field had been established where not even the thickest clouds of metallic incursion could pierce the unrelenting hail of Symaarian gunfire. Torquemada and his close-combat oriented brothers battling alongside him felt the need to continue further into the swarm. There were dozens of crazed humanoid robots frantically cobbling together remnants of the initial attack waves into reorganized legions. These were in turn seemingly controlled by a singular entity of monstrous proportion in comparison to the much smaller aliens around it. Torquemada saw his opportunity and took to the skies, aiming his descent right on top of the mechanical abomination.  
 
Though it had noticed the golden giant, the robot mastermind hardly had time to register a single thought before one of its entourage was crushed under the weight of the Warmaster. With a bloodthirsty rage personified by the unchanging visage of the death mask hiding his face, the Space Marine tore through the ranks of the Shock Lord's cabal and into the heart of its area of domination. This was but a single entity in the Protectorate swarm, but one of note, and one of certain strategic value. As Torquemada claimed its head, a shock wave was sent through the surrounding legions of drones. Fully one-third of the incoming smaller machines fell to the ground in useless heaps only to be further consumed by Symaarian firepower. The larger machines were confused and stood out in the open, unaware of their location until artillery cracked them apart. Torquemada saw this and made it his prime objective as well as that of his Honor Guard and the Fourth Company to eradicate the Shock Lords in any form they might assume.  
 
Torquemada cast a fleeting glance back at his fortress-monastery, the Isle of Blood, as the Godhammer-pattern cannons were humming to life. The Hellstorm cannons as well as the planetary defense lasers guarding it had already seen much action. These next few hours would see the most devastating firepower the Imperium could shell out put to use for the first time in over one-hundred years. 

#7 Edited by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

The ground shook and shuddered under the weight of the next wave of protectorate war machines. Having gathered the data from their unsuccessful first wave, the machines had now deployed some of their heaviest weapons to the battlefield. A preliminary bombardment from the Obliterators and Equalizer vehicles heralded this new onslaught, a rain of shells and energy bolts crashing down from the sky. Notably, the protectorate was beginning to experiment with it's modules.

Many of the shells contained great quantities of incendiaries meant to engulf the defenders in raging firestorms at the expense of the ability to deal with heavy armour, others were loaded with radiation pulsars that blasted forth flesh melting waves of ionizing radiation, while others possessed quantum disentanglers that while useless against flesh, disintegrated inorganic matter, though each shell could only release enough energy to react with so much matter. The earth shook as the enormous obliterator's activated their quadruple 155mm automatic artillery guns and fired off their enormous 600mm main guns, each of the superheavy artillery vehicles possessing greater firepower than an entire basilisk company.

A screeching horde of the manta like screamers, using the gremlins as sentient shields, emerged from the flock of aircraft above, and while their lack of air to air weaponry and slow straight line speed made them easy prey for the imperial fighter pilots who noticed their emerging from the flock, the screamers came in vast numbers, their cyclopean blue optics flashing with blinding brightness as they unleashed the most unearthly of shrieks.

They were using basilisk signals tailored to Holocaust born Symaarians, and while the basilisk signal would have debilitating effects on that stock of men and women, the genetic diversity of the Symaarians meant that offworld Guardsmen and Sisters of battle would be unaffected save for the obviously debilitating effects such screeching would have on one's hearing, additionally, absymaarians such as Space Marines, Ogryns, and Ratlings would share this immunity. Those korpsmen who hadn't activated their sound muffler's were sent to the ground convulsing in pain as agonizing waves of sound keyed to their physiology were released in strafing runs.

The screamers, many falling out of the sky as a huge wave of anti aircraft fire so thick that one could have walked on it all the way down to the ground, started to pull out of their dive bombing attacks and started to strife the symaarian lines, alternating between stunning basilisk waves and concentrated lethal sonic blasts that had similar characteristics to two twinlinked Noise Marine Sonic blasters, destructive against organic beings and stone or stonelike buildings, but capable of being stopped by carapace armour and being laughably ineffective against vehicles in general.

But not one to give their foes any time to rest, swarms of locust gunships, who had more than a passing resemblance to the insects that they had been named after, began to swarm down out of the main cloud of protectorate fliers. While their status as VTOL gunships made them little match for true fixed wing aircraft, these menaces of the sky began to strafe the ground below, the typical blue ovoid bolts of conventional modules being joined in by the screeching of gatling automatic modules that spat out a stream of blue bolts out of the multiple barrels with such speed that one could have been forgiven for thinking them a single stream.

The locust's darted too and fro, targeting those that the modules they were equipped with would be best suited for taking out, leaving targets that their specific modules could not really harm to others to deal with. And all the while, the vast swarms of gremlins, whose falling bodies were beginning to amass in meters thick piles, never relented in their attack, their batlike wings carrying them around for them to assault their foes, the members of the new wave now possessing a vast menagerie of weapons in addition to the conventional protectorate power beam.

Then came the ground forces. Those light units that had characterized the initial wave were present, but they were now accompanied by larger units of every shape and sort. "RUN COWARDS!!" The Hunter Killers snarled as one, the sounds of thousands of such machines roaring out as one being utterly deafening as they began to open up with their plentiful anti-infantry weapons, their semi-humanoid frames rolling over and past the carpet of collapsing machines before them. It was quickly becoming evident that the lighter protectorate units had a minor black hole effect, drawing very close by projectiles into themselves and away from the larger units.

Phase tanks shifted in and out of a material existence, appearing to take potshots and then attempting to withdraw to let their phase shifter generators recharge as they fired off their heavy guns. But the true final word in protectorate tracked base armour came in the form of the monstrous executor tripletank, so named as they had three enormous superheavy modules ready to accept whatever supersized weapons the A.Is deemed needed, all arranged in a gatling pattern. The whir of protesting motors became audible as their guns began to spin up and pour out large amounts of firepower, unleashing a titanic rate of fire as they rolled forward, the controller units of the protectorate directing lesser vehicles to sacrifice themselves to protect these heavy guns.

For those vehicles who had the misfortune of getting too close to the tripletanks, they would find themselves being drawn in with magnetic harpoons into a churning disassembler that would break them apart and assimilate their structure into it's own to make these tanks even more powerful. Yet every once in a while, the massive tripletanks would need to stop firing their massive main tripleguns as they glowed white hot, requiring cyrogenic weapon equipped protectorate units to fire upon their barrels to cool them down to acceptable operating temperatures, giving the symaarians a window of opportunity to take out these behemoths of the battlefield.

But yet, if the oncoming shapes in the distance were of any indication, even larger and more formadible units were about to reach the battle, titanic walkers whose deafening foghorn like cries and ululating mechanical shrieks could be heard even from this great distance. Multiple shocklords and other such antennae equipped command units directed the battle, carrying out the directives of the Core mind A.Is and adding their own creative flair as they threw ever more of their lessers into the grinder. The hunter killers roared out various demoralizing quips and noises, ranging from obscenities and insults, to samples of the roars of tyranid and daemonic beasts modulated for an even more unsettling quality as they seem to take an savage glee in butchery.

With the assembly walkers approaching and suitable escorts for the recycles arriving, they would be able to replace their losses at an obscene rate, if the war was to be won, the production capability of the machines, both on the ground and in space, would need to be neutralized. If the protectorate were allowed to engage in a war of attrition while still possessing the ability to spawn endless masses of clattering metal, there would be little hope for anything but drowning in a tide of shrieking, mechanical puppets. The sheer noise the protectorate created in it's battles was a definite contrast to the unnerving silence of the Necrons, perhaps perfectly symbolizing the opposite ends of the spectrum in the primary mechanical xenos threats to the Imperium.

They spoke in a thousand voices, from unintelligable words to rants about the coming of the Universe that Hungers. But one mantra was being constantly repeated. "HE IS COMING AND HE IS ALREADY HERE!" Was this oft repeated chant, a chant that spoke of the oncoming of the maimed lord, the Icon, Thragzygoryph the devourer of hope, Klra'mak'tor the ender of days, Cth'I'di-zun the slayer of fate, whatever it was called by, it was clear that the machines were touched by an unholy power of an truly terrible sort, comparable to the C'Tan of the Necrontyr and the gods of Chaos.

Indeed, many things that could only be described as Daemons were starting to make themselves present in the protectorate horde. Iconoclasms, tiny bits of the Icon made manifest in reality. To look upon them was as harmful to one's sanity as gazing upon Daemons or Enslavers, and their very presence seemed to bend and warp the laws of physics. They took of shapes, all of them united in only one common feature, a metallic wrongness. Whether they were amorphous masses who bore flailing tentacles, Five headed centipede faced eight limbed monstrosities bearing razor sharp claws, hideous mollusc footed beasts with faces of raw nightmares made manifest, or formless metallic clouds of psychic energy or anything else that could be imagined or many things that could not, they held a deep reverence from the machines, who sacrificed tactical sense to keep these fragments of their alien god safe to do their horrid and bloody work, throwing themselves into attacks as the Iconoclasms lashed out with their lovecraftian fury.

Psychic fire and metallic, shimmering claws and tendrils and other such weapons began to strike out, all the while their presence subtly altering the laws of physics in a way that was immediately identifiable as wrong. But there was a glimmer of hope, the Iconoclasms shared almost all of the same weaknesses Daemons did despite not being of the warp, equipment, powers, and tactics that were effective against warpspawn proved equally destructive against the children of the Icon.

#8 Posted by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

The hours bearing the forms of the Iconoclasms upon Scion were some of the darkest held there since the days of the moon's scouring. The Guardsmen of Holocaust were born in hell and sought out the most dangerous environments in which to spread the will of their Allfather with lasgun and steel. Here, they got what they asked for and more. Records indicated thousands of casualties during the night as the Protectorate swarmed forward with its most dangerous machines. Many times did the Guard stem the tide only to have it fold back together and with greater urgency. Here, when all hope seemed lost, did the unbreakable Space Marines turn defeat into victory. With abilities and weapons far beyond mortal capability to wield, the Blood Acolytes descended upon their mechanical foe with a burning hatred that seemed to glow as brightly as the tongues of flame barking from their boltguns. Even in the thickest of fighting, the sight of the Blood Acolytes standing in the midst of the most dire of circumstances stirred the hearts of their Guardsmen brothers into staying and holding the line when it seemed pointless to continue.  
 
Such was the vehemence in the hearts of the Blood Acolytes that not a single battle-brother died of wounds, but instead were sustained by Apothecaries as they fell so that they may continue the fight despite having suffered devastating injuries. Never once did they consider falling back.  
 
Nowhere else was this fury more unkempt and brutal than in Torquemada and those who accompanied him in the maelstrom of metal surrounding their precious Isle of Blood. Here, with glowing Ax Mortalis and infernus pistol, the Warmaster of the Blood Acolytes proved his worth hundreds of times over as he targeted and disabled Shock Lord after Shock Lord, sending their surrounding legions into confused death throes. The blood-blessed weapons of his brotherhood did marvelous work against the daemon-like shards of the Icon, each of their deaths bringing a bizarre change in the overall temperament of the Protectorate. Were they beginning to become afraid? These fearless red and gold warriors hacking their gods apart with such ease - were they angels? Devils? Worse?! 
 
Torquemada noticed the plunk of rain on his ceramite armor. Scion's surface of radioactive red dust intermingled with the sky-water as well as Symaarian blood, making a stinking battlefield-wide pool of red mud under his feet. He stood there, between the Protectorate and the Symaarian battle-lines, staring down a cold metal hell from beyond the stars. Not a shred of fear or remorse manifested in the golden visage of his Death Mask, nor did any such emotions materialize in his blood-soaked heart. Without a word or gesture, Torquemada took to the skies once more with his brothers in tow and began the butchery once more.  
 
The Godhammer cannons shifted into position, aimed straight at the orbiting Protectorate vessels choking Scion's atmosphere with swarms of reinforcements. A single shot rang out from the trio of Exterminatus-class armaments, shaking the fortress-moon in the process. Symaarian Guardsmen who had muffled their helmets from the initial wave of deadly screams from the strange mutations in the Protectorate swarm instead fell to the ground from the tremors caused by the blast. The Blood Acolytes had instant safeguards built in their helmets that filtered out extremely high or low-pitched noises, meaning they only had a momentary lapse in movements due to the earthquake following the Godhammer being activated before they continued fighting the second after.  
 
The Godhammer shell ripped through the Protectorate forces clogging the skies, piercing the heart of the Protectorate fleet above Scion with an explosion that would have consumed Scion hundreds of times over if it had been used on land. The shot had been strategically placed, slicing the fleet in two and consumed almost a third of it in the process. Two more Godhammer artillery pieces stood ready to fire as the first was being tediously reloaded. Torquemada had missed his intended target of the Protectorate's flagship, but the message had been sent, a mute reply to the Protectorate's ramblings that rang louder than anything the robotic horde could scream. 

#9 Posted by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

"FLEET-MAS-TER LOS-SES ARE AT 33% AND RI-SING!" One of the Exterminators in the ship replied, turning it's eyestalk towards the Fleet Master who seemed to be stunned for a moment. "WHAT? I-DEN-TI-FY SOURCE OF LO-SSES!" The Fleetmaster roared in a digital monotone, bringing a series of screens into display, it stared impassively at the data flowing in before finally making a reply. "A-LERT! A-LERT! UL-TRA-HEA-VY AN-TI OR-BIT-AL AR-TIL-LE-RY DE-TEC-TED! COU-NTER AND EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" The Fleetmaster snarled out, prompting the protectorate fleet to begin to break up to attempt to detatch a force to deal with the moon mounted godhammer cannons, bringing a screen of shield ships to absorb shots from the symaarian navy and star fortresses as the behemoth carriers began to move forward.

"ANY DE-TEC-TION OF BOAR-DING ATT-EMPTS?" The Fleetmaster inquired, turning an eyestalk to another exterminator. "NEG-A-TIVE." Came the response as the Fleetmaster's servo arms began to extend out and plug themselves into special sockets to link itself more fully to the Core Mind A.Is and attempt to analyze the situation in a more strategic scale. "FLEET MAS-TER, PER-HAPS WE SHOULD WITH-DRAW?" One exterminator asked, it's dome bulbs flashing as it spoke, turning the dome so that the piercing blue optics on the eyestalk could face the fleetmaster.

"NEG-A-TIVE! THIS IS A CHA-LLEN-GE! I AM AU-THOR-I-ZING CONS-TRUC-TION OF A SUM-MON-ER...THIS WORLD SHALL BE THE I-CON'S!" It responded with a sense of low disgust as the sea scorpion and octopoid like flagship started to split off with about a fourth of the fleet into another direction to attempt an outflanking maneuver, temporarily exposing the ship to teleportation based boarding attempts as the metallic colossus began to emerge from the cloud of lesser ships. The vessel was enormous, larger than even a battleship, closer in scale to a fair sized space hulk than a faster than light capable vessel.

"FLEET MAS-TER THIS RISK IS UN-NEC-CES-SARY! WE ARE EX-POSED IF THEY SHOULD DE-PLOY EXTRA-STE-LLAR RE-IN-FORCE-MENTS!" One Exterminator voiced, it's higher pitched voice contrasting with the deep booming of the Fleetmaster. "THAT RISK IS MIN-I-MAL. PRO-CEED!" The machine master responded dismissively. "THE RE-IN-FORCE-MENT TEN-DRIL IS ON IT'S WAY!" The fleetmaster commanded, confident that the other prong of Cithon that it had split off upon arriving at the milky way would arrive to win it the battle.

But as the reinforcement tendril made it's way towards holocaust with their quantum drives, they crossed through a region of Necron held space, and a series of devices, dormant for aeons, became active and quickly forced the Protectorate out of their quantum state and into a fully material one. They had fallen into the trap of Necron Phaeron Zyvarhotep, who had planned to deal with the incoming protectorate that his crypteks had foreseen as efficiently as possible. The protectorate tendril found every Necron vessel for light years around waiting for them.

With ample usage of chronoteks and divinitation, the Necrons knew where to strike against the metallic menace from beyond the stars, and the deathless automatons soon sprang into action. Bitter fighting erupted as the two fearsome races of machines engaged in a deadly duel in the depths of space, but there was little doubt that Necron ships were the finest in the milky way, and their technology was easily a match if not superior to that of the incoming horde of nanite ladened manics. The fighting was bitter, but the result was all but garaunteed, the protectorate tendril would not reach the battle in time, if at all.

Due to the Necron's usage of heavy jamming signals, the Protectorate at Holocaust was unaware of the certain delay and likely destruction of it's reinforcements. On the ground, the protectorate effigies and viruses were quickly working to assemble a vast, spiraling, non-euclidean megalith that seemed to be made out of solidified night itself. A vast, vaguely pyramid shape that was stretching towards the heavens. They were constructing a summoner, a vast device that would call forth a portion of the icon and then collapse onto it to form a shell around it, to create the single most destructive weapon in the protectorate arsenal.

To distract from this ultimate of threats, the superheavy walkers of the Protectorate began to arrive, huge walkers, ululating tripods, scrambling mechapedes, and thundering hexapods began to arrive at the frontlines, their huge frames shaking the ground with every step, the assembly walkers using the matter processed by the protectorate to continuously churn out more units to reinforce their lines, eliminating the need for lines of reinforcement, as fresh warriors could be created right on the frontlines. These huge walkers began to fire into the symaarian lines, moving in a formation meant to protect the Assembly Walkers; who despite their large arsenal and extreme durability, possessed a weakness.

In order to allow the newly created units out to join the battlefield, the assembly walkers opened up hatches to allow the new additions to the metallic hordes to spill out. Those with the speed to do so, like a Space Marine, could theoretically get inside the walkers with these hatches, and then fight their way into the interior and destroy these colossal command mechs from within. Indeed, it seemed that the units of the protectorate were enslaved to the Assembly Walkers on an even larger scale than the Shock lords, seeming to function much like Tyranid Dominatrices as both a mobile factory for fresh units and as the ultimate command unit.

As if to make their targeting any more of a priority, the lead Assembly Walker, one out of five in the wave, began to fire off it's huge batteries of superheavy weaponry, pummeling Symaarian lines with a wide array of modules that seemed to cover virtually every aspect of the protectorate arsenal. A long, constantly droning, ululating basilisk signal was sent booming out of the colossus as it ploddingly advanced, each measured step causing a small earthquake as a virtual flurry of green orbs of plasma spewed out of it's head mounted batteries and the hatches in it's arms opened up to release new fliers into the fray before closing.

#10 Posted by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

As was expected, Guard losses nearly doubled throughout the course of the Protectorate's latest adaptations. The Blood Acolytes had managed to stave off any truly staggering casualties, but a few dozen brothers had died in the bombardment with almost one hundred severely wounded. Apothecaries were working overtime and utilized all manner of vehicle in order to ferry their brothers as well as the wounded Guardsmen back to the Isle of Blood. The trenches were holding remarkably well despite all of this as the Hellstorm cannons mounted on a nearby Godhammer artillery gun hammered into the mechanical titan formation, bringing down several at a time with each lancing blast. The larger monstrosities, however, still held some semblance of void shield technology and were only momentarily staggered when the Hellstorm blast ruptured through their smaller cousins and into their mighty shells. These abominations retaliated with all manner of horrific weaponry, battering the shields around the Isle of Blood but not breaking or even phasing them otherwise. The distant whir of plasma engines began to grow in the distance, however, as one of the mighty legions of the Navigator's god-machines prepared to go to war.  
 
The Death's Head. 
 
The banners of a thousand conquered worlds were draped along the cathedral-cities on the backs of the immense Imperator-class war titan. From its hull came four of the most destructive weapons known to the Imperium: a Plasma Annihilator, a Volcano cannon, a chest-mounted Vulcan mega-melta, and finally a chorus of Earthshaker cannons along every face of the Gothic architecture stretching from its broad shoulders. Every step it took shook Scion to the core. Though it paled in comparison to the Godhammer cannons, none could doubt its lethal potential as its crew aimed for one side of the Protectorate's formation and swept across to the other with a demonstration of its mega-melta. Dozens of lesser titans met their end, only the bulkier patterns managing to survive thanks to their shields. With its slag batteries whirring back to full capacity, Death's Head unleashed a second blast in concert with the Volcano cannon. The result, although almost twice as effective, proved to only be a fleeting victory as the gaps were soon filled by fresher and larger Protectorate monstrosities.  
 
But the ground forces of the Imperium were not dismayed by this show of quantity trumping quality. They fought on as the legions of god-machines clashed hundreds of meters above them. The Protectorate had redoubled its efforts in taking the trenches, but were met with a force harder than any steel it could conjure: faith. The faith of the Symaarians was truly a magnificent thing. More numerous than any bullet, stronger than any army, harder than any armor, it kept them fighting in even the most hopeless situation. Fresh reserves from the Seventh and Eleventh Companies of the Blood Acolytes came bearing heavy weapons and piloting lascannon-equipped Predator tanks, lancing through the tightly-packed Protectorate swarm with virtual impunity. Fourth and Twenty-Second Armored Divisions rolled into place with Baneblades, Shadowswords, and Stormblades accompanied by entire battle formations of Leman Russ and Hellhound tanks. Hydra-pattern flak tanks were divided among the Divisions into anti-air and anti-infantry roles due to their two twin-barreled autocannons as well as their automated targeting computers.  
 
In the midst of their resistance, Torquemada had targeted the heart of the problem. Along with his Honor Guard and the remnants of the now-shattered Fourth Company, the hotheaded Warmaster carved a fiery swath through the titans assembling a strange and altogether horrific device. Though these monsters provided their fair share of challenge, they left themselves open while they manufactured their black obelisk. Furthermore, their underbellies revealed all manner of important-looking wires and mainframes. Taking the Ax Mortalis to everything he could before the beast starting bursting into flames, Torquemada moved to the next and continued only to find another to replace the ten he had slain. His Honor Guard followed in haste, their actions buying precious time for Death's Head and the remounted Symaarian defense to break through the front lines and lay down a healthy barrage upon the core of the swarm. The Fourth Company had been dismissed to avoid further losses and they met with the Apothecaries tending to the wounded with about a fourth of their original strength depleted in battle. Torquemada favored speed in this phase of the battle. He needed the precision of venom, not the strength of a swarm. Sooner or later, the Protectorate would realize just how much they were losing in this war of attrition that was growing out of their favor.  
 

      
#11 Edited by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

The massive and imposing summoner, still being rapidly put into place by swarms of nanomachines and scrabbling Virus drones, loomed large in the skyline as the Imperium launched a fearsome counterattack that began to push the machines back to their bases. A titanic Assembly Walker boomed and bellowed as it attempted to back away, firing off sporadic pulses as enemy fire began to concentrate on it. A quartet of Land Raider Terminus Ultras and a pair of Shadowswords rolled up to surround it as the Assembly Walker was cut off from the rest of the horde. The eight lascannons mounted on each of the land raiders stabbed into the air and targeted the knee joints, ripping off the turrets mounted on it's legs while Leman Russ Battle Tanks and Predators began to mob it, slowly bringing it down like a swarm of pihranaes would do with a large, predatory Gar.

As it lashed out, sending a fusilade of plasma orbs that ruptured nine doom wolf tanks and melted them into slag, the Shadowswords elevated their massive volcano cannons and fired off a pair of enormous laser beams that split through the sky, ramming into the sides of it's head and blasting off thick layers of metal. With a long shudder and shake, the Colossus finally tipped over and fell on it's sides, feebly struggling to get up until a Leman Russ Vanquisher tank fired it's armour piercing shell into the now exposed reactor core of the walker, causing the machine to begin erupting in a rapid series of explosive blooms before a single massive eruption consumed the remainder of it.

A manticore artillery regiment raised it's stormeagle rockets skywards and fired off into the thick swarm of protectorate machines in the skies, each of the massive storm eagle missiles taking out hundreds if not thousands of protectorate fliers, which when combined with withering whirlwind and hydra fire, cleared out an open space of air for the airbourne elements of the guard to take to the skies at last. Wings of thunderbolts and lightnings flashed through the skies, firing relentlessly into the swarms of machines to allow the valkyries, vendettas, vultures, and marauders to move unmolested, or as close as they could be conditions.

An executor tripletank that had up until this point, been able to lay down a withering barrage from it's three superheavy amodules, this one fitted with three enormous gatling cannons, erupted into flames as a Vendetta swooped down and fired off it's three twinlinked lascannons into it's top armour, the blue beams ripping through it's thinner top armour and hitting it's reactor core, causing the entire vehicle to explode with enough force to level the protectorate forces around it. The infantry gathered around tried to turn their weapons skywards and retaliate, but a squadron of three vultures outfitted with two punisher gatling cannons and twinlinked nose mounted heavy bolters swooped around and let loose an awe inspiring barrage of automatic weapons fire that would have made any ork worth his salt green with envy.

Hundreds of rocket propelled heavy bolter rounds and thousands of large caliber bullets were being spewn forth from the three vultures, and a very satisfying number of protectorate machines were going down by the second. A entire six thousand strong aggressor legion was mowed down in but a half second of firing from just one of the vultures, each round bringing down several of the machines. A hundred reflex light tanks were ripped apart and punctured with so many holes that they became so much confetti when the vultures gave the light tanks their attentions, a mound of spent bullet casings piling beneath them as they turned to fire upon a large congregation of virus drones as they charged at the guardsman lines.

Over a thousand virus drones were part of this particular mob, and their speed availed them nothing as thousands of rounds were sent screaming at their right flank. The effect on the mob of machines was remarkably similar to that of a bat being swung through a mass of toy soldiers. It was almost as if they had simply taken an eraser and started dragging it across the formation, ripping them apart in real time before the vultures finally ran out of ammunition and returned to base for refills, letting a wing of marauder bombers and escorting thunderbolts pass overhead a huge formation of machines and release an apocalyptic firestorm of high explosives from their bomb bays.

The machines, from mighty Obliterators to meagre seekers, thrashed and writhed as they were consumed in the inferno created by five thousand marauder bombers and ten thousand thunderbolts carpet bombing their area all at once. The series of fireballs that erupted as the explosives detonated in a rippling wave was both beautiful and terrible to watch. The machines, having expected that their cloud of aircraft above would be able to keep the Symaarian air units virtually grounded, had failed to bring any substantial anti-aircraft units, and with the fighters and anti-air batteries above working to maintain and even in some places widen the gap in the cloud of metal above, the air forces were being given a free run.

Each marauder had six thousand pounds of explosives to drop, with basilisk shell equivalents weighing only two hundred pounds, this meant that each marauder could carry thirty bombs, meaning that each one had the power of the first volley of ten basilisk platoons, and to make matters worse, each thunderbolt carried six bombs, meaning that the machines were being hit with what was effectively two hundred and ten thousand basilisk shells and the effects showed. The fact that the machines had packed their units so tightly meant that each bomb could not fail to cause absolute devastation.

The entire front of the machine line disappeared in the bombardment, vanishing in a rain of bombs that rivaled a fair sized orbital bombardment in sheer destructiveness. The ground disappeared in blooming fireballs and virtually all noise was shut out by the deafening roar of thousands of massive explosives impacting in quick succession. Such a sight could not help but warm the hearts of the Symaarians as they witnessed the full fury of their matchless firepower being brought to bear on the unholy machines.

When the explosions finally subsided, an area stretching for miles that was once occupied to the brim with machines was now full of little more than metal fragments, wreckages, and craters. The machines had retreated back to their manufacturing facilities, focusing it's efforts on defending the Summoner in hopes that bringing forth the icon shard would turn the tide, already their facilities were churning out new reinforcements as the tactical minds of the robots began to rapidly develop a new strategem to account for the changing situation. But in the meantime, now the initiative was with the proud sons and daughters of Symaar, Guardsmen, Sisters of Battle, Space marines, and Skitarii , all men and women at arms.

#12 Posted by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

"Lord Torquemada, the aliens are retreating to a central power core. Should we pursue?" 
 
The Warmaster of the Blood Acolytes observed the smoking carnage of the Symaarian counterattack. He felt a weight being lifted from his heart and his soul soar. Scion had been preserved against the Protectorate, that much he felt was for certain.  
 
"Hold the line. This battlefield is now a No Man's Land. Send the skies crashing down on anything that so much as twitches there." 
 
Now, his task at hand was to disable the construct they rallied behind. He dismissed his honor guard, calling their efforts exemplary as they bowed and flew away on fleeting fuel reserves. He pointed his way toward the rising black monolith and activated his jump pack, closing the distance in just a few seconds. His mighty hand, accustomed to crushing skulls, easily carved out a perch for him to latch onto in the thick black metal forming the shape of his latest adversary. He raised his Ax Mortalis, biting further up the monument as he used the leverage to begin a tedious climb up the face of the pyramid. He had limited fuel in his jump pack and so opted for physically conquering the five hundred or so feet he had left to make. Every now and again, he closed twenty or so feet with a single mighty leap as he angled himself with the mountainous shape of the Protectorate's strange new weapon only to catch himself with either his free hand or the Ax Mortalis.  
 
After a few moments of this journey, Torquemada pulled himself up at the pinnacle of the core and was met with a bizarre and transfixing sight. The very heart of the Protectorate beat in front of him, a shard of a forgotten god as it pulsated with mechanical organs in an attempt to reconfigure and realign itself with the body waiting for it within what Torquemada had just climbed. Torquemada concluded that the only way to destroy this thing was to carve into it with the holy relic weapon he now held in his hand. Taking the Ax Mortalis in both hands, he aimed a precision strike to try and cripple the Protectorate's attack once and for all.  
 
He was met with not one, but two of the machine cult's mightiest warriors, one of them vaguely familiar in shape to a Sororitas. Their crossed weapons shot sparks for as long as they remained in contact with the Ax Mortalis. Combined, they forced the Warmaster back from where he sought to cut into the Protectorate overmind. Their own primitive versions of power weapons glowed with a frightening crisp that would dishearten any mortal man. However, Torquemada evolved past mortality and fear the second he joined the Blood Acolytes. He was beyond such trivial concepts and trained his Infernus pistol in-between the larger and more physically imposing of the two. They stopped, wary of continuing while in range of what they understood to be something capable of melting away most raw materials into mounds of white-hot slag.  
 
Torquemada used this momentary distraction to take a swing at their collective throats with the Ax Mortalis. 

#13 Posted by The Lone Wanderer (1448 posts) - - Show Bio

Quickly ducking to bring himself out of the way of the Ax Mortalis, Eliminator omega's cable dreadlocks swayed around like whips as it jumped onto the side of a wall, turning it's head at unnatural angles to keep itself facing Torquemada, only for a series of bolter fire to rake past it, forcing it to turn it's attention to the arriving space marines, sororitas, and stormtrooper strike squads arriving in it's midst via valkyrie and thunderhawk while the main bodies of the armies engaged at the outskirts of the base.

With a feral leap, the Eliminator flung itself at the Imperials to try and keep them away from the summoner as a shivering carpet of metal worked frantically to assemble what would be the shell of their dark god. Leaving Torquemada and Venus all alone as she backed out of the reach of his axe. With an almost delicate flip of her hair, a smile forced it's way on the immaculate, and turth be told unnaturally perfect and beautiful features of Venus.

"I'm going to enjoy this." She said with a smirk as she brought out her own power sword and a plasma pistol before flinging herself at Torquemada, With a powerful downward stroke, she cut at Torquemada, attempting to vertically bisect him as a grin forced itself on her artificially replicated face. "I have to say, your kind's aesthetics please me." She laughed out as she backed off and made a spinning slash with the sword and fired off a searing bolt with the plasma pistol at him.

"You see this Symaarian? Take a look into the core...see the truth...gaze into the universe that hungers." She said with a girlish sort of glee as she raised her left arm and fired off another blast with the plasma pistol, sending forth another molten blue bolt of searing energy. Realigning her arm, she transformed it into a deadly and lethal flamethrower, spewing out a huge jet of fire that she sweeped around to attempt to catch him in it's burning embrace.

"Once the summoner is complete, the Icon will walk on this world, and your little resistance will end." She cackled as she looked around for him, the coy smirk never leaving her face as her scanners looked for his signal before she made a forward stab at him followed by an uppercutting stroke and transforming her arm into gatling automatic mode, firing off a prolonged burst of rapid fire energy bolts to further her assault on him.

"Come on Space Marine, show me a fight...The sisters of battle were fun...but I want more!" She giggled girlishly as her blond hair was struck odd highlights by the various colours being emitted by the clear gate to the universe that hungers. It looked remarkably like a normal universe, but there was an overpowering sense of dread and wrongness, as if such a thing was antithetical to all forms of life. Her youthful frame belied her deadly nature as perhaps the most dangerous individual in the protectorate. And of course, her beauty was truly only skin deep, a fascimile created by nanites to appeal to her strongly developed sense of vanity.

The Eliminator Omega on the other hand, let loose a feral shriek as it leapt onto a stormtrooper and swatted his head off of his shoulders with a single swipe of it's long claws before ducking under a fired krak missile and setting it's armcannon to fractal mode and firing off a blast of fractal energy. A cone of impossible and nameless colours leapt out of the yawning barrel and consumed the space marine, who grunted with pain as he and his armour began to crack like glass, but he had enough mass to require two more shots at this range to bring down.

A sister Celestian attempted to sneak up on the lone wanderer but with a sweep of it's staff, it brought it around to cave in her head with one of the electrified bulbs on the tips, quickly jabbing backwards to spear an assault marine through both of his hearts before jumping upwards and smashing it down on another marine as he prepared to fire off his bolt pistol at the foul thing.

Barely even turning it's head to face an oncoming soririatas, the machine deftly parried her incoming power sword and swatted it away with another quick swing before making a disemboweling stroke that split open a space marine's abdomen before the assassin machine calmly turned around to swat away a large group of power bayonet wielding Stormtroopers, whose bodies exploded into gore upon contact with the utterly lethal staff.

When the machine detected that one of the sororiatas had leveled her plasma pistol to face it with a litany of hatred for the soulless machine and the alien, the machine calmly swung it's staff in an arc, and blood geysered from her right arm socket as the staff neatly severed her right arm to the shoulder, causing her to stumble forward as a ring of bodies began to surround the eliminator omega.

But it's seeming invincibility was soon put to the test when a thundering dreadnought stomped towards him, seismic hammer and multimelta ready. "FACE ME VILE XENOS MACHINE! OBEYER OF THE ABOMIDABLE GOD!" It thundered as it's multimelta roared to life after it plowed through a virtual carpet of lesser protectorate machines, sending broken vivesectors, viruses, aggressors, offendors, and malacostratas flying in all directions as they tried and utterly failed to stop it's bulk, prompting the eliminator omega to leap into the air, it's cable dreadlocks following it like snakes as it went over the wall of lead and leapt onto the sarcophagus, only for the thundering colossus to shake it off and throw it onto the ground.

Skittering to the left to avoid it's incoming hammer, the machine rolled to the left to avoid the incoming storm of boiling meltagas before ducking under a left swing of the seismic hammer that shook the very earth as it hit. Jumping up onto the hammer and clambering onto the sarcophagus, the Eliminator omega leapt onto the machine and began it's attack, jabbing the staff through the adamantium plating and then yanking it out, thinking it's quarry dead as it leapt at a terminator marine leveling his assault cannon.

It could have dodged the bullets by leaping at the marine before he could fire, but it could not have dodged the dreadnought, which it had in truth truly only annoyed. As it leapt, the seismic hammer came crashing down on the back of the machine, sending it smashing into the ground and writhing as the discharged energy crackled through it. It tried to writhe and get back up, but a pair of multimelta blasts fired in quick succession incinerated the overwhelming majority of it's body and melted the rest into slag. All that was left of the machine was it's cycklopean head, whose one, burning blue optic dimmed down and died as it lost all power to it, cable dreadlocks still attatched to it.

#14 Edited by Emperor_von_Doom (2818 posts) - - Show Bio

This new foe of the Blood Acolytes' Warmaster fared admirably against her intended target. An apparent traitor to her people, she danced around Torquemada in a flurry of lightning-quick blades. While she managed to strike his armor only to be deflected by the masterfully-worked craftsmanship, Torquemada raised his Ax Mortalis and brought it down with a vengeance on several occasions. In an effort to dodge or even have a chance of avoiding the seasoned Warmaster's powerful strikes, the woman had to completely stop her attack and proceed with an entirely different method, her body mutating in accordance to the situation. Torquemada followed her with every fiber of his being despite this, using cold cunning and a thousand years of experience to work against her spur-of-the-moment tactics and would-be advantages.

Their weapons clashed for seemingly the hundredth time, venerated Ax Mortalis slowly eating into the softer metal of the android's bio-melded weapons as it disintegrated the power fields around them. Almost in a suggestion of pain, the android flew back with smoking hands as she molded them into a pair of firearms more suitable for anti-tank duty than aimed at Torquemada. She hardly cared and laughed as she pulled a mental trigger. Fully automatic, these bizarre cannons of hers unleashed bursts of fist-sized shells with every second she held down that unseen firing mechanism. For Torquemada, with his jump pack's limited fuel, he took a gamble and took a step out of the line-of-fire. A scant instant separated Torquemada from the android realigning her shots and he continued into a furious sprint along the perimeter of the monolith their battle extended across. He kicked at the ground and launched himself almost a meter in the air before he activated but a fraction of his jump pack's potential, carrying him into the android's personal bubble and into a powerful bear hug he then used against her as they tumbled from the crown of the monument and into the windswept valley below.

Crashing with reckless abandon, Torquemada found his impact cushioned by corpses and piles of scrap metal nearly as tall as he was. He hardly had time to stand before his foe revealed herself from the wreckage, tying her elongated bio-mechanical fingers around his muscular throat and kicking at his lower spine, forcing him to one knee through pressure against the soft armor around his throat. She aimed a powerful strike at his kidneys, cracking the ceramite protecting his torso in the process. Torquemada grunted and clenched his fist, activating a spring-loaded power blade hidden in the folds of the armor on his right elbow. Forcing this weapon into the confines of his opponent's ribcage, he used the momentary lack in her grip to flip around in her grasp and extend eight more hidden blades, one from each knuckle of his gauntlet. He used these to eviscerate her just under the armpits, causing a strange mixture of oil and blood to ooze from the holes. She gave a sadistic smile as she headbutted him twice, shattering the arcing golden crown framing his head but not even denting the Death Mask of Cortez.

Torquemada staggered, stunned by his head bouncing back and forth inside his helmet, and gave his foe ample opportunity to strike. She extended her hands into two barbed prehensile whips and lashed them around either of his arms, lifting him into the air. Her intent was to split him apart at the middle, but Torquemada's superhuman flesh would not yield to her attempts. Instead, the Warmaster grasped the tendrils in his hands and spent just a tad more of his jump pack's limited fuel, creating an arc in which he pulled the android into and, as he landed, completed by throwing her headfirst into the ground. This only inspired her to greater cruelties as Torquemada found that instead of losing her grip on his wrists, she tightened it.

Rising out of the dust, the android gave Torquemada a flash of artificial teeth as her crimson retinas glowed menacingly from behind the debris. Her hands hardened into large crab-like pincers and would have snapped Torquemada's hands off if he had not activated his jump pack just one more time before his visor flashed telling him that fuel cells had reached critical. With this new acceleration, Torquemada kicked his foe square in the face, knocking her back more than twenty feet and freeing his wrists of her deadly grip. Without many options available to him, Torquemada unhinged his jump pack and held it in one hand by the straps while he unhooked his infernus pistol from its holster.

The android, obviously annoyed that she had been denied so many times the joy of killing this man, stood up with her hands modified into roaring chainsaws. She charged recklessly, blinded through rage to the fact that Torquemada had reached the crescendo of swinging his jump pack around like a rock to a sling. Releasing it at precisely the right moment and just as the android raised her arms to slice it in two like a piece of two-bit scrap, Torquemada fired a white-hot mist from his infernus pistol directly at the flashing fuel cells. He ducked and shielded his eyes just as both the melta slag and the android's chainsaw teeth made contact with the jump pack.

Just as he expected, the pack donated like a frag grenade in the android's face. What he did not expect was when he recovered from the spectacular noise of the blast was that the android was waiting for him in the aftermath. Now completely exposed, the skeletal frame of the feminine machine held no resemblance to what she had previously taken the shape of. The fact remained that she could shift her body's weapons systems to whatever she liked. Instead of any reasoning behind her attacks, however, her mannerisms changed to a rage that dwarfed the minor agitation she had felt earlier.

"You...you..."

Torquemada felt a vice grip around his throat as he was lifted into the air by the android's elongated arm, her other clenched in a fist that began to shake with unimaginable hatred.

"YOU MADE ME UGLY!"

Gasping for air, Torquemada found himself repeatedly slammed into the ground by intervals of more than twenty feet in the air as his enraged foe vented and fumed. He could hardly discern her words through the veil of pain clogging his nerves. Finally, he received a momentary reprieve from the hail of rock and shattered metal, but only to have it replaced by a view of Scion from pre-atmospheric height. He could hear her screaming as he was reeled into her fist. His fused rib cage shook under the pressure of his master-crafted artificer armor being shattered like glass. He felt one of his hearts stop. Despite all of this, he summoned enough raw courage and power to knock the android to the ground through sheer force-of-will. He collapse to the ground, his vision blurred and his helmet filling with blood that spilled from the air filtration vents in the Death Mask in intervals. He caught something glowing out of the corner of his eye and crawled toward it, giving no heed to the sound of feet and overworked hydraulics catching up to him or the figure looming over his broken yet impossibly determined form.

A boot stabbed into his back, bringing his spine untold pain and threatening to crack it at the vertebral seams.

"Once I kill you, I'll use your ugly face to masquerade across this miserable galaxy. People will listen to me as I preach the downfall of the Navigator and hail the coming of the Icon. You're delaying the inevitable, you self-righteous prick. Accept the Icon and I'll keep you around as a punching bag,"

Torquemada's only reply was an instinctive grip around the handle of the Ax Mortalis, something his opponent failed to notice as she focused entirely on the blood pooling from his wounds. Her sadistic nature was proven all the more when she extended spikes from the sole of her foot and into Torquemada's back, piercing flesh and scraping bone. Torquemada threw his head up and choked on his scream, refusing to grant her the satisfaction of hearing him suffer. She pulled her weaponized heel out of his back, forming them into a guillotine blade.

"Fine then. I want to pay you back for disgracing my good looks anyway!"

He seized her moment of gloating and rolled around with a slash from the Ax Mortalis designated to decapitate her. As her leg fell, he prepared himself for a slow death only to find the limb clattering uselessly to the ground. The android above him began to scream as she lost balance and held the stump of her leg in a pain only she believed in. Torquemada could barely stand before his legs went numb. But with that second of advantage over his foe, he took up the Ax Mortalis like an executioner to his blade and brought it down on his quarry with a fatal strike. No speech, no glory-hounding words, simply justice.

---

Apothecary Gallan and others of his creed examined the aftermath of the battle, kicking over piles of Protectorate droids to uncover a single Marine before extracting the precious gene-seed hidden in his superhuman skull. Devastator and Guardsman heavy weapons teams set to work devouring the remnants of the robotic menace with flame and melta weaponry while tanks armed with dozer blades herded the carpets of the fallen machines into mounds designated for burning.

From the smoke surrounding the inactive monolith that would be the target of future artillery bombardments came a lone figure carrying another. Spotlights piercing the cold Scion night revealed a golden gleam from one of these as it shuffled forward. Imperial souls were charged with energy as they hailed and cheered for his return. Torquemada bled, but he lived, and in his arms he carried the android that had caused him so much grief. Though she had not completely died, she stirred only in crippled bursts of outraged jolts and spurts of curses. Torquemada tossed her to one of the piles scheduled for immediate disposal as he removed the Ax Mortalis from her cloven torso. He limped to the Apothecaries and stood proudly despite his wounds, the Death Mask of Cortez still intact around his face.

"Fire the Godhammer cannons into what's left of their accursed fleet. I want a continuous bombardment until morning. It is with the rising sun upon the face of Scion that we ascend to the heavens and purge what remains of this mechanical scum from our system."