The din of the battle had all but shut out the speaker in Briggs' helmet when it burst to life in his ear, deafening him momentarily.
"Lord Briggs, Tactical Squad Arkus is currently pinned down by the Corsairs. They're nigh on being surrounded. What are your recommended orders?" The voice was that of Decius, the Chaplain for his Chapter the Inquisition and High Lords of Terra designated The Scarlet Rain.
"Decius, have The Thunder Flare reinforce their position. I doubt the Corsair's can shrug off a volley from a Predator. Then, take Assault Squad Damian and join me. I'm closing in on the leader of the Cult that started this mess." Decius confirmed the orders. Moments later Briggs could hear the distant thunder of an Auto Cannon followed by the roar of bolters.
Since his assignment as Chapter Master to the Scarlet Rain, almost eighteen months previous, his assignments had been less than mundane. This being the chapter's fourteenth engagement and fifth brush with Chaos, he had become satisfied with the Marines assigned to him and their performance upon the field of battle had been exceptional. The errors committed during their first four missions had swiftly been dealt with during the aftermath. Still, he could see that errors occurred and it was the nature of how things worked in the heat of battle.
"I'll kill you! I'LL KILL YOU DEAD, MARINE!" screamed a man leading three others with him. The Cultists that the Crimson Corsairs had taken an unusual interest in were a part of the corrupted Imperial Guard regiment assigned as a defence force to Portan, a small industrial world. However, such corruption of The Emperor's subjects could not be tolerated. The four men neared Briggs, screaming and flailing their arms as they approached. Briggs unhooked a grenade from his belt and tossed it into the chest of the lead. Nearly detonating on impact, the lead Cultist disappeared in a flash of shrapnel and red mist the man to his left crumpled to the floor. The other two continued forward, unfazed by the sudden loss of their comrades. The duo reached him at the same time, wildly swinging clubs, as they fell to a burst of plasma from his pistol.
Jet powered brakes screeched over Briggs' shoulder as he heard multiple 'thuds' strike the ground behind him, Decius and the assault squad had landed. "Good shot, my Lord."
"Thank you Decius. Are the Corsairs routed and Squad Arkus pursuing them with the Thunder Flare?"
"Indeed. The Corsair troops are withdrawing while Arkus, the Thunder Flare and Squad Maynar pursue. I issued them a destroy order for the Corsairs."
"Good." Briggs surveyed the layout for the coming assault on the Cultists complex. Building after building lay before them.
"This small settlement is nothing more than a trap. Hiding places and ambush points are everywhere." commented Decius, "This will take too long to go through."
"I know," said Briggs, "one moment." his comm going silent. In a few seconds time a barrage of explosive fire rained onto the complex, tearing apart the structures under its destructive foot print. "Now, we have a path cleared for us and probably sent more than one of the traitors to their damnable end."
Decius, surveying the wreckage of the complex, "That'll do it. I didn't think you would call down a firestorm like that from the Horizon."
"I'll do what I must to end this sooner rather than later... and by now you should know better."
Decius, turning his skull helm to face Briggs, "By now, yes, I should. However, most of what you devise on the spot I've not seen others in your position do."
Under his helmet, Briggs smirked. "Take squad Damian and scout the larger structures of the what's left down there. Death's Hammer is bringing a squad to assist. I'll meet you, with them towards the middle." Briggs pointed to the larger of the wrecked structures, "Lao Gul, is there. If he is dead then we just need to confirm it. If he is not..."
"Then he soon will be." Decius finished the sentence.
"Right. Go and I'll meet you shortly."
Decius and squad Damian took to the sky with trails of fire following them as they screeched down into the complex's remains. Moments later, Death's Hammer quickly roared to a stop behind Briggs. The older Landraider had served him well to this point. Harkening back to the later days of the heresy Horus had committed, the venerable warmachine had stood the test of time and now it served as his transport into combat. The older armament was replaced with Hurricane Bolters and an Assault Cannon. Riding atop the vehicle, in the fore gunner position, sat Brother Carthy manning the Multi Melta that was mounted there. Inside were the first group of battle brothers to receive the honours of being designated the Scarlet Rain's first Vanguard unit. The entry ramp opened and Briggs ascended the ramp. Alerting the driver to the destination, he sat himself in the fore of the vehicle in anticipation of exiting into a full blown combat. His brother marines sat in silence as he apprised them of the situation. They chimed, in unison, an understanding of the coming objective.
Death's Hammer came to an abrupt stop and the assault ramp opened. As Briggs made ready he drew Mordis, a blade the High Lords of Terra had given him as a sign of his position and a relic unto itself. When the ramp finally came to a rest and he could see Decius and squad Damian were in the thick of combat with several cultists and power armoured Crimson Corsairs, he charged out of the vehicle and into the thick of the fight, the Vanguard following him. Briggs cut his way through a few of the Cultists, tyrying to asess the situation he was now in.
"Decius, have you seen Lao Gul?"
"Not yet. We happened across this bunch before you arrived and have delt with them, anticipating your arrival. I suspect they're here keeping us occupied." Decius said before swinging his Crozius into and removing the head of a traitor marine. Pointing, with his pistol, "Part of the building is still intact beyond this wall. I think Lao Gul is there."
Briggs nodded and took off for the wall, slicing his way through another group of Cultists. As he drew closer he unholstered his plasma pistol and breached the wall with a few shots. Lowering his head he shouldered his way through the wall. On the other side he found Lao Gul and several more of the cultists had already begun a ritual, chanting in tongues he did not understand. Pistol in hand, Briggs charged and began to pick off several of the Cultists as they chanted. Nearing the group, he identified Lao Gul. Knocking aside a man trying to rush him he threw Mordis, sinking it into the chest of Lao Gul. Coming to a stop, he pulled Mordis from Gul's chest, slicing him twain in the process. As Briggs turned to the breach in the wall, the man he had knocked down stood between him and his exit.
"We were so close! You should be dead now!", the Cultist pulled a sword from his belt and began to swing it about himself in a flourish of martial talent that Briggs had only seen few humans achieve. The he began his approach, the sword flying about him in a controlled series of slashes. Briggs reached out and grabbed the blade as the Cultist brought it over his head. Snapping the sword in his grip, he ran Mordis through the lower part of the man's chest and out the back of his throat. "So close..." said the Cultist as he slumped to the floor.
Slinging the blood from Mordis, Briggs exited the hole he had made when he rushed the wall. Outside, Decius and the rest of his battle brothers were finishing off what remained of the Corsairs. Bodies of traitor marines and cultist lay on the ground in various places, showing the path his marines and Death's Hammer had created in the process. As he neared where the last few shots of combat had rang out he was approached by Decius.
"Is it finshed?"
"It is. Lao Gul is dead and apparently before he could complete some ritualistic summoning."
"That was good timing." stated Decius.
"I know." Briggs turned and began to indicate the path Decius and the others had created. "Pile the bodies as soon as possible and burn them. I care not to leave this filth out in the open."
"As you wish."