• Published 12th Mar 2024
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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.

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Chapter Nine

The drop-pod rattled around them. Captain Rocksteady and his elite personal guard were falling onto Stormhoof’s position, reconnaissance craft having identified it as being right outside the gates of what he had been told was the Magna Turris, a fortress built in the heart of one of the planet’s archaic towns-Altheim.
Rocksteady hoped that he wasn’t too late. Since this war had started, the Captain had grown fond of the marine. Remembering him and the way he had seen things when he had been training under him. The Lieutenant had always been focused on saving pony lives. His Equestrian nature had not been bled away from him completely when he had been reforged into a space marine. The same could not be said for Rocksteady.
Now, he had been hearing daily reports from Hashtoran officials about Stormhoof’s leadership and had seen the Lieutenant’s strategies play out. Rocksteady was pleased. He had been holding their town for about as long as a son of Sanguinius could wish for. Of course, this could not last forever.
He sighed. Rocksteady could only hope that he would not be too late.

~ ~ ~

Blades swung. Lasrifle and autogun rounds whizzed by. Beasts roared and ponies bellowed to match them.
Death. Around them was death. Between them was death. What they were was death.
The warrior and the beast fought. The Lamenter swung his crackling power sword around, two hooves pounding the earth as they spun around each other, swinging at the Warboss with all his might, the Ork blocking with its power claw.
Both opponents knew any hit could be fatal. Stormhoof’s armour was good, but it was not good enough for him to survive the beast’s claw, and yet he knew that one clean sweep of his sword’s power field would be enough to carve through the Ork’s armour plating and win the bout.
Any friendly or enemy trooper that had stood between them during the first few seconds had been mangled. Stormhoof had fought for three hundred and fourty-two Terran years. Three hundred and fourty-two years in which he had yet to be slain by an enemy in single combat, and yet this Ork could match every one of his blows and then some. It frustrated him. It angered him. He feinted one way, striking the other side of the beast as the Warboss blocked it with his arm mounted cannon. Swinging it around like a bludgeoning weapon, and knocking the over-extended Stormhoof back-the impact finally shattering his already cracked eye-lens. He stumbled, finding his hooves just in time to block the Ork’s claw.

The Lieutenant was exhausted. He had been fighting for days. He had been bleeding for days. The Ork was fresh. A strike against the enemy. Parried back with three swift claw blows that took all of his strength to defend. He could not carry on like this. He could feel the rage building. It tantalised him with its release. It would be so easy to let go. To use the rage to win the duel. Horus was stood before him. No. He had to stand. For the ponies he was defending, but he had to stand as himself, not as his Genefather. It pained him to think in this way, but it was all that was keeping him from breaking.
“Hah! Puny Space Pony, yous all think you’re strong. But you’re not. Orks is strongest! I’ve killed a Space Marine before, i’ll do it again!” The beast before him roared, before it did something Stormhoof had never seen an Ork do before.
It feinted him.
So tired was he that he could not react in time to fully dodge the strike. The beast roared as its claw snagged on his left foreleg, shearing it clean off.
The lamenter stared numbly at the stump that had been left behind by the claw.

Stormhoof’s vision darkened. He roared, leaping towards the beast. His sword barely being blocked by the claw, but slicing into the Ork’s armour and piercing its shoulder-meat. The beast only grinned.
“That’s more like it, give us a good fight!”

~ ~ ~

Flowerprance lunged at a scrap-titan, ignoring the blaring of her jousting knights’ alarms. The Argent Hastae’s shield had been destroyed by an enemy claw, and numerous blows to the four legs of her knight had slowed her down.
The shock-lance pierced through the scrap-knight in front of her. It was such a shame. She recognised the Questoris Knight chassis that had been stripped for parts and crudely bolted back together by the brutish engineers of the Orks. It was an affront to her very culture, and it had to go.

It fell with her weight on top of it. The spear bursting out the other side. She rode it down to the ground, before realizing that she had overextended herself. She was past the line of knights that had been drawn around the town. She watched as a hatch on another titan opened up, a massive harpoon launcher rising up out of its shoulder, the head easily the size of her knight’s fist.
“My Lady!”
It was Dovewing. He was coming. What was that idiot doing here? “Get out of here Dovewing, that is an order!”
“I am afraid it’s too late, my Lady. I am already here.”
She struggled to rise, the shock-lance stuck underneath the destroyed knight she was on top of. She could not move. The harpoon swivelled around to face her knight, despite the hail of fire Lightningblade was raining upon it.
He leapt up. Between her and the Ork titan. The speed of the Armiger propelled him forward, and as he leapt. The Ork fired.

“My Lady, I-”
The reactor of his knight was pierced, immediately exploding. It continued through his debris, striking the Argent Hastae in the front leg. She screamed in pain as she experienced her own leg being stabbed, before being torn off back towards the scrap-titan.
Barely able to breathe through the pain, she knew she had to disconnect. Uncoupling herself from the feed-cables, Flowerprance fell sideways out of her seat, slamming into the wall of the cockpit. She wheezed, breathing in the faint whisps of smoke. Feebly, she kicked out at the top hatch of the knight, before remembering to hoof the latch. Bursting out, she tumbled to the grass, before lying still, staring up as shells flew around above her.

~ ~ ~

Sanguinius breathed heavily. The rage was all around him. He was lost in it. The Arch-traitor was all he could make out in front of him, and behind him was the light.
He roared an unintelligible battle-cry as he lunged for him. The Talon of Horus fell just before him, but he did not flinch. The Primarch of the Blood Angels advanced, pushing the enemy back. The Talon speared out towards him, and this time, he took it.
He felt cold. The Talon was through his waist, and out his back. Groaning through the rage, the Blade Encarmine shot out, directly into the face of Horus.
I am me.
The battle was still for a moment.
I am me.
He fought against it. He tried to stay as the primarch of the Blood Angels. He had achieved victory.
I am not me.
The primarch turned, and gazed fondly upon a son of his own. Clad in yellow armour, the marine was from a different time. It was colder, but there was still hope.
I am him.
And then, the primarch turned, and moved towards his gene-son.

Trooper Shimmerheart peered over the edge of the shell-hole. It was a gruesome sight.
The Orks’ leader and the warrior from the stars lay together, as if embracing. Neither were moving.
It was over. The Orks’ leader may have been slain, but so was theirs. Her family. Her ponies.
Movement. A groan.

She watched, dumbfounded, as the three-legged marine struggled to rise.
She skidded down into the hole, as fast as she dared. “My Lord!”
“I am Stormhoof.” He muttered. She could see his body was failing him.
“Please Lord, rest, we can get a Surgeon Primus, just vox for one-”
“My duty-is not yet done.” He wheezed out, finally collapsing against the Ork’s claw beneath him.
He stared up at the sky. I am Stormhoof. I cannot yet die. My duty-
The sky. Something flashed up in the sky. Then another flash, then three more.
Drop pods. Astartes drop pods.
Watching, his breathing growing shallower, he could only stare upwards as they left his vision, one landing just before the Magna Turris’ gate.
He listened to the sound of bolt-fire. Knowing the path that was being carved through the attacking Xenos. “Please! Lords! Save him!”
Shimmerheart scrambled up to the edge of the hole, waving at the marines as they strode past, clearing out the remaining Orks that were now fleeing before them. They were magnificent. Their armour immaculately clean. Decorated with wax seals and skull motifs. Blood droplets on each of their helmets, their huge shields weathering any incoming fire, and their crackling axes making short work of any who dared come too close.
Their leader stopped. He turned his knightly helm towards her.

Stormhoof’s mind was slowing when he saw the grey-bearded face of Captain Rocksteady above him. “Captain. You are…here. We have not lost?” He tried to salute, but found he could lift his front right hoof as easily as he could his left.
Gently, Captain Rocksteady removed Stormhoof’s helmet, before tossing it aside.
“Yes, Stormhoof. You won.”
“It…almost took me. My Lord. I tried to-”
“Be still, brother. It did not.”
There was silence. Hashtoran defenders had left the battlements, some moving over. Shimmerheart stared with rapt attention.
“I…Am sorry, Lord.”
The Captain looked at him, confused. “What is there that you could possibly be sorry about?
Stormhoof strained. “Leading my own force to strike at the traitors. I knew you would not approve. But I did it anyway. I killed those ponies. Those pilots-Fluffybean. Remember that name. Record that name. He is the reason I survived the crash. I killed that farmer too, Colonel Brightmane. All the soldiers that died were drawn here by me.”
“Lieutenant. None of this is your fault. Look at how many you have saved with your actions! These ponies owe you their lives. Every living creature on this planet owes you their life. You have achieved victory.”
Stormhoof grew still upon hearing this.
“I was him Lord. I was our Genesire.”
Rocksteady pondered this for a moment.“You are not him. You are Lieutenant Stormhoof Turit of the Lamenters. You will meet him soon.”
And then Stormhoof breathed in, one final time. “My Oath is fulfilled. I die as me.”
The street was quiet.
Shimmerheart did not know what to say. “There was truly nothing you could do?”
Rocksteady stood up, his face dark, still looking at the body before him. “Fetch one of the Apothecaries”. He called to one of his elite guard.
“His geneseed will be recovered to create another warrior like him.”
The mare could feel tears forming at the corners of her eyes. “But he gave us everything. He fulfilled his oath. It is not fair that he receive death in return.”
“He had an honourable death in battle for the Emperor. What more could a warrior of the Imperium wish for?”
Rocksteady turned, and stalked out of the crater, leaving Shimmerheartwith the body of the Ork and the Marine.