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The Infestation of Drashin was a campaign fought during the Tyrannic Wars by the Imperial Fists Space Marines against the Tyranids on the world of Drashin in 970.M41. During the battle, the Imperial Fists' Chapter Master Vladimir Pugh was slain while assaulting a Space Hulk that had first brought the Great Devourer's infestation to Drashin. Though First Captain Darnath Lysander was offered the chance to become the new Chapter Master of the Imperial Fists, he refused the honour, not believing himself worthy, and the command was given to Vorn Hagen, the Captain of the 5th Company, in his stead.

In the aftermath of the Infestation on Drashin, it became apparent that the entire campaign had been engineered by that hated enemy of the Imperial Fists, Warsmith Shon'tu of the Iron Warriors, in an attempt to damage the Chapter and kill as many of its heroes as possible. Following that revelation, the Imperial Fists decided to seek vengeance for the death of their Chapter Master against Shon'tu, deploying the full might of the Chapter against his Fortress World of Malodrax. The renewed Crusade of Thunder ultimately ended with the Fall of Malodrax and the Exterminatus launched against that world in 971.M41.

History

A Tyranid infestation had taken root in the Drashin System while the Imperial Fists led by Darnath Lysander were prosecuting a war against the Orks of the Magor Rift in what had come to be known as the Crusade of Thunder. But at less than a hundred light years from Terra, the infestation of Drashin placed the rapacious xenos a mere stone's throw from the Imperium's heart. Accordingly, and at Chapter Master Vladimir Pugh's order, all Imperial Fists strike forces, including the Crusade of Thunder, were summarily recalled to confront this threat.

The renewed war against the Orks would have to wait.

When the Imperial Fists Battle Barge Storm of Wrath arrived at Drashin under the command of Captain Lysander, it found a world heaving beneath the mass of Tyranid swarms. The roots of the infestation could be seen even from orbit, millions of dark carapaces blending together to form roving lakes that left nothing but bare rock and wasteland in their wake.

The crisis on Drashin had begun some solar weeks earlier, when an unnamed Space Hulk had materialised out of the Warp on a direct heading for the planet. Judging by its crude hull adornments, the vessel had lately been under Ork command, but other than a marked deceleration in its approach, there had been no sign of life aboard as it crashed through the Adeptus Mechanicus picket fleet and collided with Drashin itself. Much of the Space Hulk had been destroyed by the Mechanicus ships, or else had burned up in the planet's thick atmosphere, but enough of it had survived to wreak calamity on the planet below, causing the world to shift slightly on its orbit and throwing up a cloud of particulate matter than had choked away the sun.

Drashin's planetary crust was incredibly brittle, and the impact had all but obliterated an entire continent, leaving jagged obsidian platelets scattered across a seething ocean of magma. Worse was to come. As a crust of cooling rock hardened around the Space Hulk's hull, the Tyranid swarms had emerged from rents in the vessel's flanks. The magma oceans around the impact site had provided little in the way of bio-mass, but the jungles further to the west had proved a more tempting target. Before help could arrive, a swarm already glutted on the Space Hulk's previous occupants had blossomed to many times its original size.

Under the circumstances, orbital bombardment -- or even Exterminatus -- would have been the prudent course. However, the relief force's orders had been explicit: the Tyranid infestation was to be ended with minimal harm to the planet itself. The captain of the Spear of Vengeance, another Imperial Fists Battle Barge that had answered the call for aid, did not know the reason for the order, only that it had come from Terra itself. It didn't matter; Lysander could guess. There was an Adeptus Mechanicus archaeological outpost on Drashin's northern pole, and had been since before the captain's unintended sojourn in the Warp. Whatever it was the servants of the Omnissiah were looking for, it was clear that they didn't want it accidentally destroyed -- even in circumstances as dire as these.

The price of such restraint was quickly paid. Even with the arrival of the Astra Militarum's Catachan XXXI Regiment, millions of Imperial citizens had perished, with millions more on the brink. By the time the Imperial Fists had arrived, the determined Jungle Fighters had slowed the Tyranid advance, but only at the cost of a further two cities and many thousands of their own warriors. Now the swarm was deep into Drashin's largest continent, and the Adeptus Mechanicus' polar base remained secure only through the efforts of the Legio Magna 's Titans, and a muster of Knights from House Krast.

As matters had transpired, Chapter Master Vladimir Pugh's task force -- comprising some four companies of Imperial Fists -- had arrived only one Drashin day before the Storm of Wrath. Pugh knew that there had been instances of Genestealer infestations aboard Space Hulks since the Sin of Damnation incident involving the Blood Angels nearly four hundred Terran years previously in 589.M41, but seldom before had there been any record of a full-fledged Tyranid swarm aboard such a vessel. Pugh had taken this to mean that the Space Hulk's mangled skin concealed at least one Norn-Queen -- though how one of the brood mothers of the Tyranid swarms had come to be aboard the vessel, he could not fathom -- and had elected to lead a strike straight at the infestation's heart.

Unwilling to risk a Drop Pod descent onto the Space Hulk's magma-strewn surrounds, Pugh had led an assault via Thunderhawk gunship. Nearly half a solar day had passed, but no communication had been heard from him since. Brooking no further delay, Lysander vowed to follow in Pugh's path, to bring aid to his Chapter Master if he still lived and to avenge him if he did not. Yielding command of the Tactical Squads to Sergeant Tor Garadon once more, Lysander led the Centurions and his two Dreadnoughts to a Thunderhawk and departed into the atmosphere.

The Heart of the Swarm

The crusade's Thunderhawks met resistance as soon as it entered Drashin's upper atmosphere. Winged bio-constructs flew shrieking through the skies, acidic venom spurting from their chitinous weaponry. The spray hissed and sizzled wherever it struck a Thunderhawk, and the pilots were forced into dizzying evasive manoeuvres. Smaller Tyranid beasts swirled around the descending strike craft. Their shots barely scratched the hull, but their brittle bodies clogged the innards of the turbofan engines. With a shriek of tortured metal, Garadon's Thunderhawk plunged from the sky, avoiding collision with the ground below only through its pilot's deft skill. Undercarriage screaming and buckling, the front half of the craft slewed to a halt on one of the larger platelets. Its stern was not so fortunate, and was already threatening to sink into the magma, taking its precious cargo with it. Once again, the Thunderhawk's pilot proved his worth, coaxing enough life out of the craft's failing thrusters to hold the flyer stable whilst his passengers disembarked into the spore-choked air. By the time the thrusters finally gave out, the transport bay was empty. Only the pilot perished as the Thunderhawk slipped beneath the surface of the burning sea, his life a small price willingly given so that his Battle-Brothers could fight on.

Garadon's demi-company had avoided death thus far, but it still waited to claim them. The rocky islands were swarming with Tyranids, and the nearest creatures broke off to engage them, effortlessly leaping the magma channels that lay in their path. Boltguns roared and the first wave of gaunts was blasted to ichor-spattered bone, but Garadon knew the volley had bought only a little time. He could see larger bio-beasts moving in his direction and he knew that to stand his ground was to be overwhelmed. Just then, a thermal current briefly parted the spore clouds, and the Sergeant caught sight of the Imperial Fists' 7th and 9th Company banners standing proud on a nearby summit. Pausing only to slam another magazine home into his Bolt Pistol, Garadon ordered the advance.

The Relief of Black Ridge

CenturionSM

A Devastator Centurion of the Imperial Fists Chapter unleashes a hail of potent firepower

Meanwhile, on what the 7th Company's Chaplain had wryly referred to as "Bleak Ridge" before a strangler-beast had torn him apart, Captain Jonas had resolved to die with pride. Before him lay the wreckage of three Thunderhawk gunships; behind him, the Space Hulk's flank towered into the sky. Hours earlier, Pugh had led the 1st and 5th Companies through a rent in the adamantium leviathan's hide, ordering Captains Jonas and Terrell to hold their Battle-Brothers back to act as rearguard.

Initially, the combined firepower of the 7th and 9th had been more than a match for the Tyranids but, about a solar hour previously, the swarms had grown in size and flown into a desperate frenzy. Jonas didn't care why; he knew only that he would keep firing until his magazine ran dry, and would then tear the beasts apart with his bare hands until strength finally left him. Captain Terrell could do little of either, for he had been blinded by a spray of acid, but still he took pride in his Battle-Brothers' efforts as he bellowed encouragement. It mattered not that they were Reserve Companies -- that day they fought with vigour fit to shame the Veterans of a hundred younger Chapters.

Another wave of Termagants massed beneath Bleak Ridge, and Jonas prepared a sally to clear the slopes, as he had done a dozen times since taking up position. Tyranid Warriors and Carnifexes were advancing in the middle-distance and he wanted the chaff cleared away before they reached his line. The Captain raised his Power Sword high, but before he could give the order, Bolter shells hammered out of the spore clouds to the west, and the 3rd Company crashed into the swarm of Gaunts. Garadon led the charge; Chaplain Markov came close behind, his voice raised in a wrathful litany. Moments later, three banners stood proud atop Bleak Ridge, and the next Tyranid attack wave fared no better than those that had come before it. Taking up position amongst the 7th Company's battle-depleted squads, the 3rd sent salvo after salvo into the advancing Tyranid Warriors, leaving the heavier weapons of the 9th's Devastator Squads to focus their fire on the monsters beyond.

Yet still the Tyranids came, hurling themselves at Bleak Ridge. Again and again Bolters roared. The air whistled to the shrill reports of Plasma Guns and Missile Launchers, but still the swarm crashed against the Imperials Fists' line. Tyrannofexes stomped forward, their sprays of Fleshborer beetles rattling against Power Armour before Lascannons brought them down. Spore Mines exploded upon the ridge, killing or injuring the Space Marines in ones and twos. Terrell was still at the rear, bellowing encouragement at his brothers, all the while ignoring the searing pain from his ravaged eyes. Jonas was still issuing orders, his voice brittle with his hatred for the creatures that mustered below. Increasingly, though, those Imperial Fists who fought on the heights now listened for Garadon's calm voice as he directed the defenders' fire with an efficiency learned over thirty Terran years of service and honed under Lysander's tutelage. Then a Bio-Titan emerged out of the swirling spores, and Garadon knew that the ridge was lost. He was about to order his brothers to withdraw inside the Space Hulk, when an ear-splitting boom sounded overhead.

Lysander's Thunderhawk had fared better than Garadon's during the descent, but not by any great margin. A glancing collision with a Harridan had sent the flyer spiralling out of control and away from the battle. In the end, it had made a jarring touchdown some eighty Terran miles from Garadon's position, and Lysander had watched with growing and impotent fury as Brother Karazan struggled to restore the wounded gunship to full function. The skies above had been kept relatively clear by the Stormtalons of the Swords of Polux, who had shredded any winged bio-beast that strayed too close. Now, after a fraught delay, Lysander's Thunderhawk joined the Battle for Bleak Ridge. A barrage of fire from the Thunderhawk's Turbolaser and Hellstrike Missiles tore great holes in the Bio-Titan. The Hierophant gave a thunderous roar and brought its Bio-Cannon about to target the newcomer. It stumbled forwards as a volley of Lascannon-fire from Bleak Ridge sheared off one of its forelegs. Before the beast could recover, a second shot from the Thunderhawk's Turbolaser tore its skull to ruin, and it toppled over into a pool of lava.

Coming in low, Lysander's gunship swept across the battlefield, its Heavy Bolters tracking synapse nodes and drowning them in heavy-calibre shells. At once, the Tyranid swarm shuddered as the feedback rolled through the Hive Mind. As the attackers recoiled, the Thunderhawk touched down on Bleak Ridge and Lysander led the Centurions out into the battle. After receiving reports from Garadon and Jonas, Lysander ordered his two Dreadnoughts to join the defence of the ridge, then led the Centurions into the Space Hulk's bowels.

Into Darkness

Lysander soon lost track of time during his journey through the Space Hulk's corroded and pitted corridors. The Captain could have been travelling for solar hours, or days, or weeks; he neither knew nor cared. All that mattered to Lysander was that his old company and his Chapter Master were somewhere in the darkness ahead. He still couldn't make communications contact with Pugh, or any member of the 1st Company, though his sensors registered several other suits of Terminator Armour several Terran miles in the distance. Lysander made no account of the creatures he slew within the Space Hulk's tangled passageways. Gargoyles screeched out of the darkness, wings flailing madly. Genestealers dropped from ceilings or emerged from crawlspaces, talons lashing out at the intruders. All the attackers perished, pulverised under the crushing impact of his Fist of Dorn relic Thunder Hammer, or else blown apart by a Centurion's salvo.

After a close-fought battle in which a crackling Trygon claimed two Centurions' lives, Lysander's strike force found a working conveyer which carried them deep into the vessel at phenomenal speed. When they stepped off the conveyor, they found the walls subsumed by pulsating organic matter that spat acid and lashed at them with vestigial tendrils. Torn scraps of flesh marred the corridors -- the remains of sphincter-portals shredded by the 1st Company's Chainfists. The carapaces of tiny bio-forms crunched underfoot at every step, and seething fluid dribbled down the waxy walls to collect in folds and hollows. Lysander could hear the sounds of battle echoing through the corridors now, and the sensor outlines of his fellow Terminators were solid where before they had been hazy. At no point did the tide of Tyranids cease, but Lysander was too close to his destination to yield.

As Lysander's strike force began carving their own path through the swarm, the Captain saw Pugh make another attempt to advance. A Hive Tyrant moved to block the Chapter Master's path, and he was hurled back in a spray of blood, but Pugh was not so easily thwarted. Rising to his feet, Pugh came forward again, the Hand of Judgement crackling as energy fields played around it. The monster's leg collapsed under Pugh's first punch, its torso under the second. High above the battle, a fresh brood of Genestealers burst forth from the Norn-Queen's birthing pouches to scuttle down the walls.

Tragedy and Triumph

Three Terminators forced their way forward, Thunder Hammers crackling as they swept the packed waves of Gaunts aside. A Carnifex slammed into them, the impact sending two staggering backwards as its claws sliced through the third's armour. But the intervention had bought Pugh time. Gathering the relic Power Fist Hand of Judgement into a fist, the Chapter Master stepped over the Hive Tyrant's corpse and punched forward, buckling the chitinous plates that crowned the Carnifex's head and ravaging an eye cluster. As the beast reared back in pain, several Centurions found their mark. Lascannons blazed, burning a blackened hole through the Carnifex's torso. However, even as the beast collapsed in its death throes, its mace-shaped tail scattered Pugh's bodyguard and knocked the Chapter Master from his feet.

The Genestealers were on Pugh in a heartbeat, claws tearing at the ceramite of his armour. Other members of the 1st Company surged forward, Acting Captain Julan amongst them, but Julan was snatched to oblivion by a Trygon's flailing claw, and more Genestealers pressed forward to prevent the survivors' advance. Pugh lashed out again and again as he tried to regain his feet, but the foe were too many. The Hand of Judgement crackled furiously one last time, then the Chapter Master vanished beneath the betaloned tide and was torn limb from limb.

With a great cry of rage and loss, Lysander forged forward through the swarms, driving the Genestealers back from his slain Chapter Master. With him came the Centurions and the survivors of the 1st and 5th Companies, their limbs finding fresh strength as they vented their fury at Pugh's death. Yet though they reclaimed the bloody ground upon which his dismembered corpse lay, they could advance no further. High above, more birthing pouches split open, disgorging ever more and ever larger bio-constructs into the fight. Lascannons were now turned on the Norn Queen, but the shots glanced off her carapace. A Chainfist could have done the job perhaps, or a Thunder Hammer, but with the target suspended so high it was impossible to bring the weapon to bear.

It seemed that the Imperial Fists would have to retreat or be overwhelmed, but neither Lysander nor Hagan were prepared to trade the lives of their fallen Battle-Brothers for so ignominious a defeat. Yet little by little, amidst the horror and fury of that cavern, Lysander realised that the situation was far too grim for his liking. He was surrounded and outnumbered; if he didn't order the retreat, more lives would be lost. Pugh's once-time criticism of him had been correct, the Captain realised -- unthinking stubbornness served no one save the Imperium's foes. Yet still Lysander could not bring himself to fall back from the fray and, as battle raged around him, he sought an alternative. The Captain's eyes tracked around the chamber, coming to rest on where lava trickled in from above. For a moment, he stared blankly, knowing he had hit upon the solution but did not yet know what it was. Then, as realisation dawned, he ordered the Centurions to ignore the Tyranids and concentrate their fire on the dully glowing trail of magma.

Lascannons fired as one, but to no effect. Twice, three times more they fired, but still nothing happened. Then, on the fourth volley, the ceiling buckled and a viscous stream of magma dribbled down onto the Tyranid swarm below. Still the Centurions fired. The breach widened, and the stream became a flood. The Norn-Queen hissed and shrieked as the searing rock splashed against her carapace and began to eat through, but she could not break free of her fleshy web. Magma was beginning to pool in the chamber's heart, and the Imperial Fists were at last falling back, dragging their dead with them and retreating to the higher levels where Lysander had entered the chamber. With a terrible crash, a span of the ceiling gave way, and the Norn-Queen plunged into the spreading lava pool. She was already dying, her innards incinerated by the molten rock, but she fought for life nonetheless, her limbs thrashing madly amongst the magma until finally her body sank beneath the surface.

As the Norn-Queen perished, so too did every synapse creature for hundreds of Terran miles, killed by the shared agony of their brood mother's death. On Bleak Ridge, some broods scurried for cover as their base instincts took over; others hurled themselves forward in a feeding frenzy. All perished -- if not at that moment, then in the following days when the rest of the Imperial Fists arrived at Drashin and a thorough scourging of the world began. Far away, the Tyranids assailing Drashin's remaining cities rode out the agony of the Norn-Queen's death, but the swarms withdrew all the same, vanishing deep into the jungles and caves to bedevil the planet for a long time to come. Though it had cost the Imperial Fists greatly, Drashin had been saved.

The High Cost of Victory

Several days after the Norn-Queen's death, the remainder of the Imperial Fists arrived from the Warp. Engaged in a war against the Orks of Antigon -- a campaign dubbed the "Crusade of Steel" -- they had responded immediately to Pugh's summons, but had found their fleet harried by Eldar vessels launched from Craftworld Saim-Hann.

Faced with the choice of abandoning a portion of his strength to the raiders, or delaying his arrival at Drashin, the 2nd Company's Captain Helion had chosen to follow protocol and vanquish the immediate threat first. Had it not been for the interference of the Eldar, the Imperial Fists would have stood united at Drashin, and there was not a Battle-Brother in the newly-arrived fleet who did not blame the Eldar for their Chapter Master's death. Unable to vent their wrath against those deemed most deserving of it, the Imperial Fists threw themselves into the purging of the surviving Tyranids from Drashin's surface, moving with such implacable vigour that little of the work was left for the hard-bitten veterans of the Catachan XXXI. Through it all, the Adeptus Mechanicus offered little assistance, although three Knights of House Krast did go against their orders and take the field at the Space Marines' side on several occasions.

As the purging of Drashin continued, more sombre duties were performed. Pugh's body was sent back to Phalanx so that his bones might be prepared as a relic for the ages to come. Some thought Lysander the perfect successor, considering that his previous errors had been washed away by his deeds since. Yet Lysander refused the honour, knowing that he had not yet learned the lessons of his recent past and could not take the Chapter Master's seat until he had done so. Instead, he reclaimed the Captaincy of the 1st Company, which was now leaderless again following Acting Captain Julan's death at Pugh's side. The decision was therefore deferred until the business of Drashin could be concluded. However, Sergeant Garadon's rise to the Captaincy of the 3rd Company was immediate.

Pugh was not the only brother who fell to the Tyranids, but here the Imperial Fists had been fortunate. Rogal Dorn's legacy of blood and bone ensured that for every four warriors who had fallen, only one had perished. The others, coaxed back from oblivion's brink by the Apothecaries' skill, would yet live to serve their Chapter. Some would do so only with the aid of bionic implants. Others -- Captain Terrell amongst them -- would be forced by their injuries to take up other duties on Phalanx, rather than continue as active Battle-Brothers. Nevertheless, of some one hundred or so Space Marines who had fallen on Bleak Ridge or within the Space Hulk, near seventy would fight again.

As the unbloodied companies spread out across Drashin in search of Tyranid infestation, Captain Garadon oversaw the investigation of the Space Hulk's half-sunken remains. Working in concert with the polar base's Enginseers, Techmarines dug their way through the vessel, looking for some clue as to what had brought the vessel to Drashin.

At first, it was assumed that the Tyranids had merely infested the Space Hulk, but this was quickly discovered to be untrue. The site where Pugh had fallen was not an infested star vessel, but a mangled Hive Ship, concealed by the asteroids and spacecraft compacted around it. Clearly, the creatures had broken free during transit, and slaughtered the Hulk's crew -- who, in a development too unlikely to be coincidence, bore the same glyphs as the Orks of the Magor Rift that Lysander had been fighting during the Crusade of Thunder. But who had captured the Tyranids in the first place, and why? The colouration of the beasts matched no configuration yet observed by Imperial forces, which was worrying enough. The Hive Fleet code-named "Behemoth" had more or less run its course some solar decades earlier, and the thought that there were other Tyranid fleets converging on the galaxy was a worrying one.

After days of careful investigation, the searchers discovered the emaciated remains of a Navigator. He was imprisoned within the Space Hulk's drive units by a many-tendrilled cybercradle, and protected by a force field that withstood all attempts to breach it for more than a solar week. When the force field was finally dissolved, the Navigator died at once, killed by some suicide mechanism within the cradle. Further investigation of the Navigator's cybernetic interfaces revealed that Drashin had not been the Space Hulk's intended destination. The original course had been set for Terra, and it seemed likely that the Navigator had been able to resist his implants just enough to throw the vessel from its intended heading -- though bound body and mind, still he had found a way to serve his Emperor. Garadon was sure the defences around the Sol System would have prevented the Space Hulk doing to Terra what it had done to Drashin, but that did not diminish the plan's audacity.

With the Navigator's death, it seemed that no one would ever know the architect of Drashin's woes. However, as the wreck of the Space Hulk was broken apart for salvage, a brass naming plaque was found emblazoned on the ancient Horus Heresy-era Cruiser embedded at its heart. It read simply Hydros. The meaning of that name was lost on Garadon and his fellow Captains, but not so on Lysander. It was a word he knew all too well. In the ancient legends upon which Warsmith Shon'tu had styled himself, Hydros had been the warlord's spear. When thrown, it had unleashed an all-consuming plague that devoured everything in its path. Lysander only knew of this because it had been one of the legends Shon'tu had recounted during the terrible days on the Iron Warriors' Fortress World of Malodrax, but he knew at once it was no coincidence. If the Tyranid swarm had taken full root on Drashin, or worse yet on Terra, a new Hive Fleet might have one day grown in the Imperium's very heart.

Upon the Chapter's return to Phalanx, Lysander's fellow Captains again made the attempt to have him take Pugh's place. This time, Lysander gave the matter more careful consideration. The Imperial Fists needed leadership, that much was true, but some instinct gnawed at the First Captain's hearts. Unable to resolve the matter through conscious thought, Lysander spent many days silently meditating in the Cloister of Remembrance. On the fifth such day, Haldor Marzon, the Chapter's Chief Librarian and Pugh's closest confidant, intruded upon Lysander's gloom-laden solitude. There, the mystic explained that Pugh's order for the Crusade of Thunder to strike the Orks of the Magor Rift was not the censure that it had first seemed. During his long years of service, the Chapter Master had forged many allies throughout the Imperium -- and possibly beyond. Since Shon'tu's escape from the destruction of Malodrax, Pugh had used those connections to uncover any information he could concerning Shon'tu's plans. Though the Chapter Master had never succeeded in locating Shon'tu's base of operations, he had uncovered many of the Warsmith's allies, and set his Chapter to the business of their destruction. The strike in the Magor Rift, Marzon explained, had been the latest in a long line of similar actions.

A New Chapter Master is Chosen

Thus, when Lysander convened the Chapter Council, it was to refuse the position of Chapter Master once again. To the surprise of all there gathered, the Captain spared nothing of his pride, and explained what he had learnt of Pugh's actions, and of the flaws within his own character. Lysander announced that he would never serve as Chapter Master so long as Shon'tu still lived. So long as the Warsmith strode the stars, Lysander knew he could never be certain of his own judgement. The Chapter Council accepted his decision with reserved dismay, but could defer the matter of the Chapter Master's appointment no longer. After much debate, the rank was finally bestowed upon Vorn Hagen, Captain of the 5th Company.

No sooner had the appointment been made than Captain Garadon stepped forth. The 3rd Company wished to see their crusade completed, not against the Orks of the Magor Rift, but against he who had been revealed as their paymaster: Warsmith Shon'tu. Shon'tu had cast his spear, Garadon announced, but it had flown awry -- it was now time for vengeance to find him. Techmarine Karazan had recovered fragments of nav-data from the Hydros ' systems, and thus discovered the Space Hulk's point of origin was Malodrax -- the Warsmith had returned to his old lair.

Garadon spoke forcefully and eloquently, reminding all that so many of the Imperial Fists' recent woes could be laid at Shon'tu's feet, that Pugh's blood lay as heavily on the Warsmith's hands as it did on the talons of the Tyranids. As Garadon spoke, he saw Lysander nod approvingly, and that affirmation made him doubt his cause. He had learnt much from the First Captain in recent months, but had he also been captured by Lysander's blind obsession?

It seemed that Hagen believed so, for he denied Garadon's request. He would not, Hagen said calmly, allow his inaugural act to bring about the ruin of his 3rd Company. Lysander muttered darkly at this response; Garadon, acutely aware of his recent elevation to Captain's rank, remained silent. However, Hagen's next order surprised them both. Turning to Lysander, he bade the First Captain make Phalanx ready for departure. Pugh would be avenged, Shon'tu would be humbled and the Chapter would fight as one. The Crusade of Thunder would end as it had begun, in battle against one of the Imperial Fists' greatest foes.

Yet as the Chapter Council dissolved, and Lysander went to oversee the rituals that would rouse Phalanx from its decades-long dormancy, he realised that Hagen's manner likely hid a need for vengeance that burned at least as strong as Garadon's. Anything could await them at Malodrax, and even Phalanx was not indestructible. Thus Lysander sought out Epistolary Darsway.

When the First Captain had faced Shon'tu in battle before, he had been too proud to request aid. He would not make that mistake again -- and to that end, he sent a message out to those among the other Astartes Chapters he knew would be willing to lend their aid to see Shon'tu destroyed -- including Captain Erasmus Tycho of the Blood Angels and Captain Cato Sicarius of the Ultramarines.

None would rest until the Fortress World of Malodrax had fallen to the Emperor's vengeance.

Sources

  • Sentinels of Terra: A Codex: Space Marines Supplement (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Infestation on Drashin," "Vengeance Gathers"
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