Battle of Stynarous IV
The Stynari Combine of Stynarous IV had been locked in a brutal war of attrition with the Orks of Waaagh! Slugruk for over a century, pushed back day by day by the aliens as their cavern cities and tunnel settlements fell. When the beasts finally gathered before the gates of the Sunless City, the Combine guildmasters turned not to the far-off Imperium, but to the Dark Gods for salvation.
It was Laesydra the Golden that answered their prayers; a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh drawn to the stench of fear that hung around the Stynari. Within a Stynari solar year Waaagh! Slugruk’s hordes had succumbed to the Golden Host, Laesydra’s army cutting down the green-skinned aliens for the joy of their dark god. As the numbers of Daemons infesting Stynarous swelled it was the Grey Knights that heeded the call, the Prognosticars feeling the dark power of Laesydra rippling into the Warp.
Brother-Captain Caddon Varn commanded the assembled strike force, his cruiser slipping undetected into high orbit above the world, Stynari’s long-neglected orbital defences hanging cold and silent in the void. Ion storms and torrents of hard radiation made teleportation or atmospheric insertion hazardous, so Varn commenced his assault against the Abyssal Needle, an orbital conveyer used to ferry ore from beneath the planet’s surface and into space. The Needle’s docking ring had become a temple to Slaanesh, its corridors and chambers decorated in the remains of the Stynari while Daemons and hysterical Cultists lashed each other bloody with flails crafted from severed fingers and human hair. When the primary voidlock yawned open, the worshipers were oblivious as they whipped and tore at each other in ecstatic agony; only the Daemons looked up, sensing the psychic bow-wave of something terrible approaching.
Honoured Ancient Jaeon was the first to step out of the void-lock, the Dreadnought’s silver hull glinting dully in the guttering light of candles rendered from human fat. The nearest Daemonette only had time to hiss its hatred before Jaeon’s autocannon thundered to life, turning it into a fine pink mist. The Dreadnought swept the room with rounds, its weapon hammering rhythmically as the heavy ammunition punched holes through Daemons, Cultists and bulkheads. Spreading out on either side of the heavy walker, Grey Knights in power armour advanced into the chamber, adding the sound of ripping storm bolter fire to the cacophony.
Despite the shock of the assault the Cultists surged forward, Daemonettes darting through their ranks to get at the Grey Knights. Crude blades and flashing lasgun fire sparked off the battle-brothers’ armour as they tried to keep the Cultists at bay with brutal strikes from their force weapons. Where the shining blades drew blood a Cultist or a Daemon fell, their life essence cut from them in a flash of psychic will. Yet the Daemons came on, flocking to the screams of the dying, their claws finding weak spots in the Grey Knights’ power armour and sinking into the flesh below. Only Jaeon was largely immune from their assault, wading into the middle of the fray, the Dreadnought’s armoured form towering over the melee, his great powered gauntlet pulverising anything it touched in a shower of mangled flesh.
Using the Dreadnought to anchor their line the Grey Knights Strike Squad fell back to the void-lock, the Daemons pressing hard against them. Sensing victory over their foes, the creatures’ black eyes opened wide with pleasure as they laughed and shrieked. However, this was part of Varn’s plan, and once the Daemons and Cultists were jammed into the tunnel before the lock the Brother-Captain and his Terminators appeared behind them in a cold flash of teleportation. Trapped between the two Grey Knights forces the Daemons fought with an insane fury, killing Cultists as often as landing a blow upon one of the silver-armoured warriors as they tried to escape the Grey Knights’ trap. Varn ordered his brothers to close the vice, and with methodical fury the Grey Knights advanced, cutting down everything in their path until at last their blades met. At their feet the deck was awash with destroyed bodies and the scorched smears where the Slaaneshi Daemons had fallen.
With the docking ring clear, Varn moved quickly onto the next stage of the attack. Unloading their vehicles, the Grey Knights gathered in the conveyer. Far below, in the heart of the Stynari’s subterranean hive city, Laesydra sensed the coming of the Grey Knights and gathered together its Golden Host. At the head of a vast army of Daemons and human thralls the Daemon marched to the Sunless City, a vast oculus where the conveyer plunged down kilometres into the centre of the world. Eager to trap the Space Marines within the conveyer’s cradle as it came to rest, the Daemon Prince sent forth its swiftest troops to pin them in place. Seekers of Slaanesh and Seeker Chariots raced on ahead, reaching the conveyer locks in time to see the cradle descending from the firmament.
Brother-Captain Varn had planned for this too; well aware his foes would try and trap him in the oculus. As the Daemons hungrily watched the cradle they failed to notice the shadows hurtling down the conveyer shaft ahead of it. Like birds of prey the Stormraven Gunships screamed out into the chamber, their assault cannons and stormstrike missiles ripping bloody furrows through the Daemons’ ranks before unloading their cargo of Space Marines. When the cradle finally came to rest and the Grey Knights joined the combat, the chamber was a scene of utter mayhem. Everywhere battle-brothers fought Slaaneshi Daemons, as Stormravens, Rhinos and Razorbacks provided covering fire. Varn led the charge that pushed the foe back, the Dreadnought Jaeon at his side. Suddenly the walker staggered, and the Brother-Captain looked up in time to see Jaeon’s hull torn open by Laesydra, the Daemon laughing as it ripped the ancient battle-brother’s remains from his sarcophagus.
Varn directed a blast of arcane fire at the Daemon but it brushed the flames aside, grabbing him around the waist and lifting him up to its face. The Brother-Captain struggled against the cloying waves of power rolling off Laesydra, as its psychic tendrils tried to prise open his mind. Out of the corner of his eye Varn could see Grey Knights falling and fought against the despair the Daemon was trying to plant in his heart. Appalled by the power Laesydra commanded, the Brother-Captain plunged his force sword into the Daemon’s heart and poured his will into the weapon. However, before the Nemesis weapon could unleash its killing power the creature flung Varn away, one of its claws breaking the blade in two as it screamed its rage and retreated behind its minions. Picking himself up, the Brother-Captain voxed for his reinforcements – the Dreadknight and Strike Squads he had held in reserve. However, now it was the Grey Knights’ turn to be outmaneuvered, as Laesydra had pre-empted this move by its most hated foe. As the teleportation beams coalesced, profane runes laid months before flared to life, stirring the Warp into a storm, and scattering Varn’s brothers even as their faint outlines materialized.
Clutching his broken sword Varn realised the battle had turned against the Grey Knights, only a handful of silver shapes visible among the swarms of Daemons and Cultists. Promising a reckoning, the Brother-Captain summoned his Stormraven, fighting his way to its ramp, while sending an order to his Strike Cruiser to enact his extraction plan. In a spectacular detonation the Abyssal Needle was severed, ripping its roots from the world as it spun off into space and opening a ten kilometre hole in the earth above the battle. As earthen and steel rain fell upon the Golden Host, Varn made his retreat with his surviving battle-brothers. Even as their vessel climbed into orbit the Brother-Captain sent his orders for Exterminatus, proclaiming Stynarous lost to the Imperium.