• 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 Five

To say that Flowerprance was an adequate combatant would have been an understatement. Through the snippets of her that Stormhoof caught between the swing of his power-sword, she was an elegant fighter, dancing between autogun shots, dodging and ducking beneath the swings of enemy cleavers and claws, parrying and riposting attacks against creatures that knew only of brute-force, and not of skill.

There were more of them than Stormhoof had first thought there would be. The scrapper-craft had not appeared adequate enough to house the four that had been killed by the farmer, although the Lieutenant had to admit that Ork technologies were a mystery to even the most gifted Mechanicus Adepts.

The Chevaliers had taken up firing positions on the treeline at Flowerprance’s order. A singular lasrifle shot was not enough to kill an Ork in the best of circumstances, so, like many guard regiments, the Chevaliers employed a focus fire technique. This allowed their lasrifles to drown an enemy combatant in a sea of shots-most would not land anywhere important, but enough of them would.

Stormhoof’s armour was more than enough to shield him from any stray las-shots that might strike him in the melee, but when asked, Flowerprance and her troops had insisted that she too would be fine. The Atheon that had accompanied them was unnecessary for this mission-save for its destruction of the orks’ scrapper-vessel. It stood at the edge of the clearing, waiting for the opportunity to fire its weapons again. Stormhoof knew that in the coming days, it would not have to wait for long.

The battle was over quickly. The mindless xenos had not lasted long. Flowerprance sighed and stood after slaying the last of the enemy. The Space Marine they had taken with them was fierce. His speed was unmatched-even by her and the many augmetics she had inherited or bought with her wealth. He was wrath, barrelling into the enemy and ripping two of them in half before the Orks had even had the chance to react. Spinning, he had blocked three of their counter-attacks, and had sliced the head off another before she had caught up to him and joined the fray.

He was unlike any warrior she had ever seen. His armour was impenetrable-several times throughout the fighting she saw him take hits on his shoulder pads or backpack deliberately, and the Orks’ weapons did nothing but scratch the mustard-yellow paint. Several las-burns had appeared on the surface as well, without even slowing down his advance.

Her warriors stared at him in awe when he eventually returned to them. When he spoke, he was not even out of breath; “That is all of them for now, but-” he stopped, turning around. Flowerprance could hear the muted clicks of vox-chatter in his helmet. He turned back to them. “My fleet is returning to the system now. Unfortunately, theirs is already here.” He gestured to the pile of Ork carcasses laying around the clearing with his floating sword. “I have new orders. I will stay with you in the defence of this world. I am to help you prepare. We will start now.”
Flowerprance’s mind was reeling at all of this information. “How many of them are there?”
“Too many.” The marine said quietly.

“I do not understand, why does your Chapter not send more of its number to aid us?”
Stormhoof closed his eyes. Him, Flowerprance, and her top officers had been planning this defence for a day now. And he had thought they had put this argument to rest.
“As I have stated previously, Baroness. There are not enough of our number for the defence of a planet. There are enough of your Chevaliers, however. The newly named ‘Battlefleet Hashtor’ will translate in-system in approximately three days. Once they have arrived, there will be more than enough Astartes to make up an effective extermination force for the remainder of the Ork menace . I have been placed in command simply because I am here. Had I not crashed onto this planet, I would have remained in orbit with my brothers.” And the Orks would not have been attracted to this place. He said to himself, hurriedly pushing the thought away.

Stormhoof stood up, trotted to the glassteel window, and gazed out at the courtyard and the surrounding town of Altheheim. The troops were training hard. At Stormhoof’s order, several Chevalier units had been disbanded-in their stead, these veterans would be sent to lead a militia squad each. Their expertise should hopefully lead to fewer militia casualty rates, smaller rates of desertion, and overall increased effectiveness of standard units. The next thing Stormhoof had demanded was that the Arvus Lighters would see active service again. This meant that pilots had to be trained, the running costs of these vehicles-fuel, power had to be taken into consideration. How many of them were still in operation? How many more could the Artificers and Technicians get running? Some of them needed a specific piece only one merchant had access to, so how much would it cost to purchase them from him? If too much and the merchant unwilling to part with it, could the piece be taken forcefully?

Altheheim was a point of safety, but due to being the largest garrisoned force and thus the most attractive for the war-loving xenos, was also the part of the planet the majority of the Ork Rokks were landing at. The surrounding villages and farms had everything of value stripped from them, including their ponies, and were taken into the defences of Altheheim-many of the able-bodied among them above the age of fourteen Terran years were pressed into militia service.
Stormhoof ordered the production of thousands of kilometres worth of barbed wire-an innovative technology that astounded the manufacturers of the planet in its simplicity and effectiveness. This barbed wire was produced by manufactorums all over the planet, and as trenches were dug, duckboards placed, and defensive guns mounted, the wire was unravelled in front of every defensive line Stormhoof ordered dug.

It pained Flowerprance to see her world forced into war. Much of the beautiful forests that surrounded Altheheim had been cut down to create clearings and killing-grounds. She did not doubt the effectiveness of Stormhoof’s defences, but if it meant the destruction of their planet, would it be worth it?
She silenced her doubts. Whether it was worth it or not no longer mattered. The protection of her ponies was her utmost priority, and she would keep them safe at all costs.

Stormhoof stood on the walls of the fortress. Its architecture fascinated him-it was clearly no typical equine-built structure. He turned to the Scion next to him-a squire that had been assigned by Flowerprance to take notes and keep her posted on any of his musings on the battle to come throughout the day, he seemed useful.
“You, Squire. This fortress is of Imperial design and thus was not built by your ponies. I see the moss and lichen that grows at its base. Who built this?”
Dovewing winced at being referred to, no longer was he so doubtful of the astartes as he had been. “M-me? My Lord?”
The Lamenter looked around the empty rampart comically, a smile on his lips “No, I meant the other Squire.”
“O-of course, my Lord.” Dovewing said hurriedly, cursing himself internally. “You are not the only of your kind to come to this planet before.”
“You mean of the Imperium?”
“I mean of the Space Marines, Lord”
Stormhoof stopped, and finally looked at him. “Explain.”
Stiffening at his sudden shift in tone, he continued; “W-well you see, ten millennia ago, an event transpired, we call it ‘The Visiting.’
The Lamenter stayed quiet, listening, although he could probably guess what had happened.
“This was where other ponies came in their Chevalier armour. They were our first ground troops. And they trained us in their ways. When they died, our ancestors inherited their armour and kept their traditions alive.” He explained, growing more confident as he spoke. “For our Knight training, we learn the history of our house and our planet. This fortress and the many others all over the planet were built by warriors like you. They wore the yellow and black as you do-albeit much less of it. Their primary colour was that of silver. Our Knights bear that colour as a mark of tribute, as well as the purple of the Chevaliers that came to us with them. Once their fortresses had been built, they left behind the garrison of Chevaliers, and continued on their ‘Great Crusade’ as they called it.”

The space marine was silent. This news…troubled him.
“When your planet finally joins the wider Imperium, do not tell them of this.”
“Why not, my Lord?”
Stormhoof put his helmet back on. “Because some of those in the Imperium do not look back on the past as fondly as your ponies do.”
There was another pause, Stormhoof turned to leave, then stopped himself.
“What is the name of this fortress?”
“The Magna Turris, Lord.”

~ ~ ~

Captain Rocksteady stood on the deck of the Battle Barge Blade of Wrath as it continued on its three-day journey back to the wreckage of the Spear of Silence.
Stormhoof had been placed in charge of the Hashtoran Crusade. Rocksteady remembered the pony from his days as a scout-back then he himself had been a Lieutenant. He had followed his journey-checking in on him every now and then as his deeds grew until he had become Captain. Since then, Rocksteady’s schedule had grown far too busy to spare any time for individual marines.
Now he thought of him. He alone was in charge of the defence of this world-until they arrived, at least. He was a skilled warrior, but the Captain was not sure how apt a tactician he truly was. This war would reveal that, he mused.
“My Lord, the Nightgallopers have just translated out of the system.”
He growled in frustration, his helmet hiding the noise from those around him. Remaining still so as to not betray his anger, he stood in silence.

They had lost the Nightgallopers. They had used Warp travel to leave the system, and now there was no telling as to where they could be next.
“Acknowledged.” He muttered.
In three days’ time, Stormhoof’s defences would be bolstered by a force of fifty Astartes. Until then, he had to hold out.

~ ~ ~

Stormhoof gazed down at the town of Altheheim. He had sent a group of menials directed by technicians to carefully disassemble the thunderhawk in its entirety. They did not have the parts nor the time to repair it fully, but they could cannibalise it for all that it was worth. Slabs of ceramite-some still painted yellow, others burned black by reentry, were carried by menials and small lifter-suits and left in piles. From here, Orderlies and worksite officials directed more pony labourers to carry them and place them to make up small walls or shields that were scattered around the trench-line. The two lascannons were pressed into service-the thunderhawk’s reactor still able to provide them enough power to take out any armoured targets. The six hellstrike missiles were added to the Magna Turris’ ancient magazine stores-to be saved in case of even heavier vehicles.
To the four main firing corridors, a heavy bolter was sent. They were simple enough to operate on their own. In storage were ten Aethon walkers to add to the already active eight. Stormhoof ordered each of these to be sent to different sectors around the town, some placed closer together where anti-armour weapons were less prevalent.

More of the fire-shields and even a few log-spikes had been built from the wood of the trees that had been cleared, and were placed alongside the barbed wire.. When the Lieutenant had protested, he had been assured by Flowerprance and the others that the wood was both extremely flame and blast-resistant. So, he allowed the Hashtorans a bit more of a say in their own defences. The Lamenters were not a chapter that specialised in fortification or siege warfare, nor were they an exceptionally stubborn one.
Ancient Leman Russ tanks , two Malcadors, and Medusas of patterns Stormhoof had never seen before had been started up for the first time in Ten Millenia, their ancient engines coughing and sputtering as they rolled out to the front lines.

Night had fallen, and Stormhoof and Flowerprance were stood atop the ferrocrete rampart of the Magna Turris’ main wall. The Lieutenant stood next to the Baroness, both looking skyward as a thin meteor shower played about in the heavens above them. “It is…Beautiful.” Flowerprance breathed, viewing a light show that she had never once seen in all her years.
“It is. But it heralds the arrival of our enemies. Look there.” he raised a hoof at a group of them. As Flowerprance followed his foreleg, she saw it. There was a pattern there-a haphazard one, but one that was growing closer.
She watched as they fell further and further, until finally they disappeared over the horizon.

“We should go down, make sure the warriors are prepared.”
“They already are. I have ensured that they are in position. Currently, they are taking shifts watching the clearing we have cut. You do not need to join them yet. You and your Knights should rest easy. The battle will not begin until at least tomorrow.”
“I do not understand, some are landing close enough to hit Altheheim’s farmlands.”
“They have strength in numbers. They will overwhelm our defences. The question is not if they will, but when they will defeat us.”
Flowerprance thought on his words. “Then we had best hope your chapter arrives before we are beaten.”
“That would be ideal, yes.”