• Published 12th Mar 2024
  • 171 Views, 5 Comments

An Oath to Hashtor - Sterling the pegasus

A Ponyhammer: 40,000 story. Lieutenant Stormhoof of the Lamenters finds himself stranded on a feudal world. Away from his chapter, he is placed in charge of the defence of this world against the xenos that threaten it.

  • ...

Chapter One

An Oath To Hashtor

A flash in the void. Followed by another.

Ships; thousands of small fighter craft engaged with warp-tainted vessels and creatures as they left the docking bays of their strike cruiser and surrounding support vessels.

Lieutenant Stormhoof did not shift as his thunderhawk gunship jostled from side to side. Explosions bursting around their transport, he eyed the marines assembled before him. The ponies under his command had been hand picked-and specifically selected for their martial prowess. Their goal was to board the enemy flagship, Spear of Silence along with the rest of their battle-brothers, and finally put an end to the Nightgallopers warband.

The Lamenters had managed to ambush the traitor marines after tracking them for seven Equestrian years, they seemed to be very well-versed in the art of stealth, and most irritatingly, Stormhoof thought, they always seemed to be able to slip away just as the Lamenters were on the verge of victory. There were no words that needed to be spoken. Every warrior here knew his role, and they all knew there was a chance they would not return. Nevertheless, Stormhoof decoupled himself from his saddle-harness and stepped forward, the transport bay shaking and shuddering as the thunderhawk’s pilots expertly dodged the incoming barrage.
Walking down the line of stallions, he mentally made his mark 2 helm decouple and collapse, revealing his face, his left hoof stomping at the floor once, the ponies standing to attention
He knew that his Captain would not approve of this sudden strike. That they would be better-suited to destroying them with their ship cannons rather than boarding the enemy. But Stormhoof did not care. He needed a fight. He could feel it in his blood.

He did not speak, instead, studying the helmets of those in front of him. Ten Astartes. Ten of some of the finest ponies he had served alongside were under his command. They had all begun their journey as a space marine at similar times to each other, but not to him-he was simply their lieutenant because he had survived where others hadn’t. All of their red eye-lenses were turned on his face, awaiting his word. What would he say to these ponies, what could he say to them?
He cleared his thoughts as another explosion rocked the outside of the craft. The time for personal doubts was not now. “Brothers.” He began, his voice slightly raised over the clamor of the outside battle. “Hear me now. You have all been chosen to undertake this boarding mission because you are some of the greatest warriors I have ever had the honour of fighting with. You have all read the augury scans. Our breaching site will be the most hostile out of all others during this battle. With our armour we shall bear the brunt of their fire, and with our swords we shall slay them. My oath today is that I will protect the citizens of ponykind from any threat, in the name of the Emperor and our Lord Sanguinius.”
At their mention, the warriors roared their names, and each stomped their left hoof once on the metal-grated floor. “For the Emperor, and our Lord Sanguinius!”
Stormhoof smiled grimly, and reactivated his helmet, locking it into place. His artificer crafted mark 2 armour purred as he trotted back to the rear of the assault bay. Many of them would not return from this battle and he did not rate his own chances. All he could hope for now was an honourable death in battle for the Emperor, and for the recovery of his geneseed in order to ensure the survival of his chapter. His thoughts were snapped back to the present as he received a call over a private vox channel. It was one of the pilots.
“My Lord!”
“Speak brother, what is wrong?”
“Our scanners are picking up enemy craft that had been previously hidden behind us-throne, there are too many of them for us to counter, requesting permission to ask for aid from-”
The vox-link was severed as the transport bay was filled with light. For a moment, there was no sound. Stormhoof did not have time to react as he was blown back through the doors into the access way of the ship. The oxygen was suddenly sucked out of the bay, and he tumbled back the way he came, managing to activate his mag-locks and steady himself before he joined his brother ponies. He grimaced as he looked back through the doorway. There was no transport bay left. It had been torn away by the explosion to be replaced instead by the void of space. He assessed the situation; his brothers were gone, most likely dead. The thunderhawk had sustained heavy damage, enough damage for its stabilization thrusters to cease working, judging by the spinning he saw through the doorway, and he could see a planet below, an inhabitable world outside of Imperium space.

His vox crackled to life again as he analyzed the scene. “My L-Lord. I am sorry.” It was the pilot from before the explosion.
“Be at ease brother, it was not your fault. Tell me, are you hurt?”
“I am, but it is of no issue my Lord.”
The Lieutenant knew he was lying. “Very well. What of the other pilot?”
“Dead, my Lord. I assume that if you are still alright, the Transport bay must be intact?”
“Yes.” he lied, hoping that the pilot would not have the mental fortitude at the moment to check himself.
Breathing an audible sigh of relief, the pilot began running diagnostics checks. The craft was in no condition to fly-in fact, it was unlikely it could ever be repaired if it was recovered. The explosion had cut power to the main engines-engines which were no longer part of the ship. Assuming that vox contact could be re-established with the strike cruiser, it would be several hours in the midst of a space battle before they could be retrieved, and when they had been struck they had fallen into the gravitic pull of the planet below.
“My Lord, we will be unable to escape a landing on the planet. If we are to survive, I will need your assistance.”
“Acknowledged, moving to the cockpit now”

Sliding open the doors, he was greeted with the sight of floating blood droplets. It was worse than he had feared. The glasteel windows had been shattered by a piece of debris, jettisoning everything not bolted to a surface out into the void. The pegasus pilot on the right side’s head was missing, replaced instead by a stump of torn gore that ended in the neck seal of his undersuit. The pegasus on his left was not much better-alive, but he would not be for much longer. A large shard of steel had pierced his battle-plate through the chest and out the other side, pinning him into his chair, and into the floor. The pilot’s head slowly turned as his Lieutenant spoke via a shared vox-link. “You are alive? How can this be?”
“I live to serve, my Lord” He voxed back, the Lieutenant could tell that one of his lungs had been pierced.
“Tell me brother, what is your name?” he asked, still unsure of what he was seeing.
“My name is Fluffybean, my Lord. It was an honour to serve with you. My final duty will be to deliver you and the others safely onto this planet, so that you may all live on in your service to the throne.”
Stormhoof was glad he had not told him the truth. “Thank you, brother Fluffybean. Your sacrifice will be noted and recorded in our chapter archives.”

It was tough work, a lot of the repairs required to safely land on the world below were meant to have been conducted by servitors, or the tech-adepts of mars, not a marine lieutenant in ceramite-clad hooves, though at least he could use his horn. Stormhoof and Fluffybean spoke over the vox. Fluffybean giving him directions, and Stormhoof keeping him from slipping into suspended animation. As Fluffybean climbed out of the cargo bay to manually realign a landing flap, he stopped. The battle was over. He had seen over the partially repaired auspex that the Nightgallopers had begun a fighting withdrawal at least two Equestrian hours ago, with the Lamenters in hot pursuit. So why could he see searchlights moving about in the debris?
After a few more hours’ work, the ship still would never fly again, but power had been restored to what few systems remained. The thunderhawk was no longer spinning in the void, but was now on a straight descent to the planet that awaited them. The main engines had been destroyed in the explosion. Upon inspection of the exterior of the hull, Stormhoof had discovered that one of them had simply vanished, the others torn open and left to bleed their debris across the void. Repairs were conducted on the hoverjets as more were brought back online. It was far from ideal, but Fluffybean had reassured him that it would be enough.

Any attempts to make contact with the broken vox-broadcaster had been useless, despite the searchlights he had seen in the void. Whoever, or whatever was out there was not responding to short-range vox communications. He did not like it. Not one bit.
“My Lord” came Fluffybean’s voice over the vox. He was straining. He was dying.
“We are ready for planetfall. I recommend that you stay in the corridor with the door closed, in case I lose consciousness before we land.”
Cutting his vox-link, Stormhoof sighed. The Lamenters would return for him, but only once they had either destroyed the Nightgallopers, or had lost them. And he now had time for neither.
“Very well then brother. My thanks for your sacrifice. I will tell the others of your deeds this day”
There was a pause. Only the muted crackle of slight static filled the silence.
“My Lord, I noticed that there has not been any vox-traffic between those in the assault bay. We have been here for hours. There were no other survivors, were there?”
And then, the world around him caught fire.

There was no sound-not to begin with. Re-entry was a peculiar thing. One moment he was watching the curve of the planet below, and then all of a sudden he could see nothing but flames licking the hull of the ship. The roaring began not long after. His helmet had quickly moved to dampen the noise but it was still deafening. Atmosphere raged around him, pulling the ship down. He attempted to vox the pilot, but the sound of static was all he was met with, so much that he had to shut off his link altogether.
He knew Fluffybean was still alive halfway through their descent-the hoverjets had begun to alter the angle of their fall as the flames flickered out, slowing their descent slightly, and putting them on a better landing course. Nevertheless, the thunderhawk gunship was never a glider, plummeting towards the planet below, all Fluffybean had really been able to do was take the edge off its terminal velocity. “Brace!” he called instinctually to nobody but himself.
The thunderhawk hit the ground hard, Stormhoof was flung to the ceiling as the floor ripped up, still attached to the bottom of his mag-locked hoof-boots as was the force of the crash. Metal screeched as the ship crashed through trees along its way, shearing off more and more of its armoured panelling. Stormhoof struggled for purchase as it spun around him, one of his eye-lenses cracking as his faceplate struck a steel bar.
Then, as suddenly as the crash had started, it stopped. The ship grinded to a halt. Panting, the Unicorn-Lieutenant rose to his hooves, switching off his mag-locks, he stumbled towards the door. It stopped halfway, and he was forced to push it open himself.

Fluffybean was finally dead. The force of the crash had driven the piece of debris even further into him-so much so now that the top half of his body lay scorched and cracked on the floor. The apothecaries would have a difficult time recovering his geneseed, but Stormhoof knew he would see that it was done.