The Star Eagles second company along with several detachments from the Chapter's Reserve Companies have been cut off from their homeworld by the Cicatrix Maledictum. All communication with Yanchi or any other world in the Star Eagles' protectorate (located between Mordian and Cypra Mundi northeast of the Eye of Terror) have gone dark along with all other worlds in the Imperium Nihilus.
What has made matters worse is news of their Chapter Master's death at the hands of a slavering daemonic horde. As far as the Imperial commanders in Warzone Sentinel and the Administratum on Terra are concerned, this makes Captain Matumaini of the Second Company the de facto Chapter Master of the Star Eagles.
This supposition, of course, has caused no small amount of frustration among the handful of reserve company ranking officers present in the sector. Matumaini has, so far, denied the official rank until such time as contact can be established with Yanchi. For the time being, this has calmed his relationship with his fellow Captains, though he is still more or less in command.
This fact was made very clear when the Star Eagles accepted a rather unconventional delivery in the midst of the quelling of the Kufir Rebellion.
~ * ~
The Star Eagles were in their element. They fought building to building, cleansing tainted flesh and cursed steel with equal disdain. Captain Matumaini's storm bolter glowed orange, its warning lumen suddenly indicating an ammo cookoff was eminent. That mattered very little considering his last bolt round cleared the chamber moments later. A fat, blue-veined cultist exploded in a clotted mist of pus and black blood. He cast aside the smoking ruin of his assault weapon and drew forth his glowing relic blade.
"Tighten the mtego umeme, brothers!" he ordered his men over the vox.
A voice crackled, "In our position, that will leave you at the center of the trap, sir."
"I certainly hope so, Brother Mbweha."
In a matter of seconds, the first wave of retreating cultists poured through the streets. Even in their pestilence-enhanced physical state, they feared the roaring wall of promethium and bolter shells herding them inward. Matumaini faded into a narrow alley and cleared his mind of impatience. He became the thunderhead. He heard more waves of cultists stampeding from the North, then the East. The trap was closed, but the initial cull had been lighter than he'd expected. There were still many cultists remaining. No matter. Reality did not care about expectations or the best-laid plans of even the greatest of history's warriors, much less Captain Matumani of the 2nd Battle Company of the Star Eagles.
He leapt from the alley, pouncing on the enemy throng like an invincible predator on a herd of adolescent prey. His lion-pommelled relic blade sang the song of justice. Limbs of all varieties were gleefully separated from revolting bodies. Insides became outsides. Matumani thanked the God-Emperor for his artificer armour's selective filtration systems. His sensitive Astartes olfactory system did not have to endure the rank odor which must have permeated the streets around him.
Scores of ponderous, half-living examples of the worst humanity had to offer died in the first few seconds of his assault, but they soon got their bearings and realized they had him outnumbered by the hundreds. The fat, slavering, gluttons pressed their attack. His armour indicated several glancing shots from stub pistols and makeshift frag grenades, but no lucky breaches. The Captain pressed his attack, focusing on areas of organized attack, immediately cutting down any leaders who presented themselves.
In time, the sounds of bolter fire drew closer. The trap was closing tighter. His muscles burned and his armour's servos screamed as they overheated, but he fought on. The end, however it might resolve itself, was near. A gout of promethium bathed the street. Tallow flesh incinerated instantly. Some of the cultists even exploded as the methane in their body cavities ignited.
"Well done, brothers. I am with you. Keep pushing them into the bite of my blade." He ordered with a laugh, "He is hungry today!"
His mirth was cut short when the ground lurched, nearly taking him off his feet. Several of the cultists did lose their footing and some were even thrown into the side of a building. With a crack, the street was rent asunder and a boiling offal oozed forth.
Mbweha voxed, "Captain, it seems Lieutenant Jakal was unsuccessful."
Matumani growled, "Astute, brother Mbweha. This will be a bit harder than we hoped, but we will win the day yet."
Usually quite chatty, even in the midst of battle, Mbweha's silence belied his doubts. He could not be blamed for his lack of faith, particularly in light of the fact that the ooze boiling forth from the sewers had begun to spawn a horde of malefic entities bent on devouring both cultist and Space Marine alike. Their misshapen, bloated forms eclipsed the cultists' depraved gluttony. The horrors born from the city's slurry channels were nothing short of the worst nightmare Matumani had ever experienced.
Worse yet, the incursion from below had separated the elements of the Space Marine forces. The enveloping trap had been turned inside-out by the emerging daemonic forces. Now, squads of Star Eagles were all isolated in the midst of a roiling cauldron of ravenous daemonic forms.
Nevertheless, he fought on, as did the rest of his men. He fought until his graceful, well-practiced, two-handed fighting form devolved into little more than desperate hacking and slashing. He still held his own, though great, fleshy boils began to grow from the pavement in the midst of the incursion. Matumani was not surprised when these boils burst in a spray of diseased blood, revealing the hulking forms of pestilence-ridden Daemon Princes.
Somewhere, a rusted bell tolled seven times. Despair gripped Matumani for the first time that day.
A drop pod smashed through the roof of a nearby building, collapsing the structure in on itself. This was followed by another and another. The pods were oddly-shaped and bore the colors of Mars. The shapes which stepped forth from the haze were not Skitarii, however, but Star Eagles. They were no soldiers Matumani knew, however. They were a good head taller than any Space Marine he'd ever met and the armour they bore was a mark he had never seen before. Their massive bolters were not heavy weapons, but certainly larger than standard issue.
The new arrivals didn't waste time. They laid waste to the smaller daemons. They cut through the mobs of gluttonous imps guarding the larger beasts, stepping into the space left by the dead and advanced towards the largest Daemon Prince. Matumani didn't tarry; he stepped into the fray as well and defended the newcomers from any daemons attempting to outflank them.
When they pushed close enough to engage the mighty, slug-like form bearing seven mossy antlers, Captain Matumani hefted his relic blade one last time. As he was about to charge, a quintet of searing plasma beams lanced into the pale monstrosity, setting its gut on fire. He turned to see five marines standing on the pile of rubble which had once been the building detonated by the drop pod. They held plasma weapons which were totally alien to him.
The daemon roared in agony and a nearby squad of the newcomers paid the price as it lashed out psychically. Three of the Astartes shining, purple and white power armour rusted on the spot as if having aged a hundred centuries in an instant. They fell to the filthy pavement, armour shattering and bones exploding into dust.
With a cacophony of bolter shells and several volleys of plasma, the creature was eventually torn apart and immolated on the spot. This scene was repeated throughout the district thanks to the new arrivals. Within an hour, the incursion was squashed and the world saved.
~ * ~
"I am not ungrateful, Magos Trinketter. I could have been notified, however, and planned my attack accordingly."
"I apologize, Chapter Master, but the Cicatrix Maledictum has made it nearly impossible to communicate, particularly to warzones so close to the Eye of Terror."
"Stop calling me that," Matumani let his breastplate clatter to the armory's deckplates. It broke in two. The ancient MkVI artificer armour was ruined.
"It is too bad about your armour and your sword, Chapter Master. They were both relics from the Heresy, if I'm not mistaken." For some reason the Magos seemed even more machine-like when it was trying to relate to him on an emotional level.
"Stop calling me that. You are not mistaken. Can you repair them?"
"I'm afraid not, Chapter Master. They have been disjoined at the molecular level. Entropy made manifest. Terrifying considering the concept of entropy as a natural force of nature was ruled out aeons ago. Whatever the case, this ancient bit of kit served its purpose to the end. You are alive, are you not?"
He nodded. "I can make do with what we've got on board the Fungamana."
"No need. I have brought you a new suit of Gravis armour. Consider it a gift from Mars to the new Chapter Master of the Star Eagles."
Matumani glowered at the strange, little Magos. "You bring me new warriors. You bring me new equipment. What's your angle, Magos? I tire of awaiting the strings that come attached with such gifts."
The Magos sighed, "There are no strings, Chapter Master. These 'gifts' as you call them are provided on the orders of the Lord Commander himself. These new warriors are bolstering all of the Chapters involved in the Indomitus Crusade and in the defense of key sectors. You are lucky enough to be one of these Chapters."
Matumani sat on one of the many adamantium footlockers strewn about the room, "They're very big."
"How do I even fit them in a boarding torpedo?"
The Magos chuckled, it was a metallic and ingenuine sound, "I'm sure you'll think of something, Chapter Master. It seems your serfs have completed their inventory of the goods and personnel received. I shall be on my way, now. More Primaris packages to deliver throughout the Cadian Front."
Matumani nodded, "Safe travels, Magos."
"The same to you, Chapter Master." He turned to go, then cocked his head, "Oh, and you'll find a datapad in your quarters. Orders from the Lord Commander."
"Of course," he said.
"Of course," the Magos replied.