Thick palls of smoke hung eerily in the atmosphere blocking the rays of the Cadian sun. The stench of death was omnipresent. In the skies, the land and in the sea, it was all pervasive. Weeks of relentless assault by the forces of the despoiler had imparted a constant gloom to each and every world in the Cadian system. Death lurked just a moment away. It fell from the skies and it reached out from behind the trees. Proud buildings, once reaching for the sky like giants, lay toppled and dismembered. Majestic parklands and forests of splendour lay defaced. Beauty was an image of the long past. It had been replaced by death and destruction on a scale that few minds could comprehend. The prolonged blockade in space by his war fleet, the wildly spreading epidemics of plague and disease and the depredations of the enemy shock troops, the feared chaos space marines had slowly brought home the futility of opposition to vast numbers of defenders and civilians alike. Despair spread its tendrils through the souls of the populace like wildfire. Yet many endured the agony. The iron steady discipline of the Cadian shock troops endured the agony. More so because they knew that they fought for justice and righteousness. Everyman knew that they could not afford to fail, for to do so would be not only to loose their freedom, their lives and their very souls but also the gateway to the emperor's realms. Foremost amongst those who resisted were the avenging angels of the divine emperor, the imperial space marines. Eternal warriors and guardians of the Imperium, they fought in space and they fought on land, and in every planet and every theatre of the thirteenth crusade they were in the thick of battle. Durgar Stromwolf was one such warrior.
Watchful eyes scanned the horizon, slowly absorbing every piece of detail that came in to view. The auto sensors of the powerful suit of armour were linked directly to the sensory cortex of his brain and the display within the visor of his helmet. Decades of experience had taught him to note even the minute details of his surroundings at every opportunity. The skies were dark and dreary, with the dust of battle, the smoke of industry and the early morning dew of nature mixing in to a rolling sheet of impenetrable foam that hung low in the sky. His ears strained to identify the tell tale shriek of aircraft engines. Within seconds he had an imprint of the entire surrounding etched in his mind. He could just see the slab sides of a Hyperios anti-air support vehicle and smiled inwardly at the effectiveness of its camouflage. Until recently he would not have thought it likely that his great company of space wolves would resort to remaining camouflaged for extended periods. That was until he accompanied his chapter master on an assault drop on to the most sought after planet in the entire sector. He remembered the battle lust which filled him and his great company as they accompanied the great wolf lord Grimnar. He remembered fondly the exhilaration as they landed and set about despatching the emperor's justice to the heretical horde that had gathered to oppose their landings. While his lord had set about coordinating the entire strength of the Adeptus Astartes in the sector, he himself had been granted the command of the Spacewolf forces on Cadia. Much had been learned from the bitter battles that had raged against the despoiler's forces on the planet's surface. Many surprises had been unveiled at devastating cost and much more experience gained in the past weeks. Yet, when he has given the current orders, Durgar could not help but stare open jawed at his chapter master. Despite his disbelief and misgivings, he had moved rapidly to the assigned coordinates and set up this ambush. A squadron of four Hyperios anti aircraft launcher vehicles lay spread out under cover, completely grid locking the surrounding airspace. Assault cannons on the crusader variants of landraiders further stood guard against low flyers. His command company was deployed in well entrenched positions to receive anything that the enemy may throw at them. He went over his orders once more in his mind and shook his head yet again in amazement. The crackle of the vox link erupting in his ears drew his attention to the present. Sergeant Thurgar was rapidly barking in the vox caster from within the Damocles command vehicle. The superior communications ability of that vehicle made it the ideal choice for such a co-ordinated defence.
"I am picking up intermittent activity in the air at present! No specific directional movement." As distant sonic booms rumbled across the air and dissipated in the atmosphere. Aerial vehicles were constantly re-entering the atmosphere and causing havoc with communications due to their sonic booms.
"They are late!" thought Durgar to himself and shifted ever so uneasily. "He had known of these warriors for a long time, though he had had little physical contact with them in recent times. It was very uncharacteristic for them to be late." He suppressed a momentary rise of concern that their plans had been uncovered by the enemy.
"Wait! There is an occasional anomaly we cannot track. It keeps appearing just above the horizon at co-ordinates seven-twenty two-sigma!" Thurgar reported, frustration at not being able to acquire the incoming target evident in his voice.
"All units, eyes front! Enveloping cover fire pattern. Wait for my signal!" Thundered Durgar, his hand instinctively moving to grip the handle of the power axe he had planted in the ground next to him. The whine of hydraulics moving turrets and the expectant swivel assault cannons joined the background noise. Durgar kept his watch all round not completely trusting the early warning auguries. The woods they had deployed in provided ample cover for vehicles and his strike force. The stumpy hills that were in abundance in the area actually shielded them from three directions. Any airborne assault would usually arrive from the direction of these hills as they would provide ground cover for the air assault vehicles until the last moment. Despite the obvious, Durgar had also covered the open frontage to the south, where the woods merged with rolling plains. He hated to be surprised by his foes. His ground force had fanned out, deploying to cover the only clearing in the woods, one that merged with the southern plains. This was the only safe place for landing. The turrets of the Hyperios launchers were moving in expectation guided by Thurgar's constantly changing directions. Anger now intermingled with frustration in his voice as he struggled to lock on to an almost invisible enemy.
With an unearthly bang that shattered the morning calm a massive sonic blast hit the ears of the deployed space wolves. The blast was so swift and sudden it even caught the veteran wolf lord Durgar completely off guard. The massive barrage of sound rolled from the southern edge, from the region of the rolling plains and was almost immediately replaced by the high pitched whine of familiar fusion engines. Auto reactive sensors within the power armour of the space wolf contingent immediately reacted to protect their occupants. The battle hardened veterans reacted with instinctual speed, despite their surprise. Hyperios turrets were swinging around to track theur threat. Durgar could hear Thrugar admonishing himself for having not tracked the target as it had approached the. He had to suppress the tendrils of admiration for the pilot who had obviously negotiated the landscape at tree top level and at hypersonic speeds. The confidence and expertise of the pilot was such that he had re-entered normal sonic speed just as he neared the clearing and with extreme dexterity landed the flyer in the clearing. It had happened so suddenly that even with the swiftness of the space wolves, their guns were only just coming to bear on the intruder, when it's engines shut down and the rear ramp descended. Durgar stood upright, picking up his wolf axe in one hand and stepped in to the clearing, a mixture of anger and admiration swelling within him. There, in the clearing stood a majestic bird of prey. Deep green paintwork covered its entire body. An intricate emblem, one which he recognised without effort was carved on the wings and fuselage. The winged sword of his battle brothers looked down upon him as if sizing him up. The Dark Angels had landed on Cadia! The front ramp of the deep green thunderhawk descended with a controlled thud. Durgar found himself slightly uneasy and realised it was because the fuselage mounted heavy bolters were pointing directly at his head. No sooner had the ramp descended a group of spacemarines clad in dark green armour exited the flyer. Dark green armour shone beneath the bleached bone robes fluttering in the breeze. White winged dagger emblems proudly displayed on their shoulder pads. The face of battle was etched in their armour, the results of millennia of combat and repair of the suits of armour showed subtly from underneath the polished sheen. The leader of the group, an imposing man even by space marine standards walked towards Durgar. The strength of character and sheer presence of personality were visible in his confident strides. His commanding presence permeated the surroundings, touching even Durgar's battle hardened soul. He stood before Durgar, his brilliant eyes piercing fixing on Durgars, piercing them as if looking in to his soul. This would be a man he would feel honoured to fight alongside, thought Durgar observing his retinue of bodyguard. The diminutive figure, half the height of the space marines and clad entirely in a hooded robe stood a step behind the newcomer. In its arms lay a magnificent winged helmet helmet. The rst of the retinue of Dark Angels stood another step behind him, their chapter standard proudly waving in the morning breeze.
"Greetings Son of Russ, Wolf Lord Durgar Stormwolf!" Boomed the voice of the supreme grandmaster of the Dark Angels chapter.
"Greetings indeed Son of Johnson! Welcome to Cadia! Lord Grimnar regrets his absence in person to greet you but he awaits you in his command centre!" said Durgar, waving a welcoming right arm towards the awaiting landraider. "We will take you to him."
The Dark Angel contingent embarked in to the land raider without another word and the massive battle tank moved off escorted by a veritable armada of spacewolf armoured vehicles.