• 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 Seven

They were one Equestrian day away from contact with the Greenskin fleet. The Orks’ ships would be easily outclassed by his, and he knew it. Captain Rocksteady just hoped that they could beat them back in time to save the planet from invasion, every minute spent travelling was another minute the enemy would have to kill another pony, to destroy more infrastructure, and to establish a larger hoofhold on the planet.
“We are receiving a transmission from the xenos, my Lord. It is a live vid-feed from their leader.”
“Accept it.”
The speakers crackled, the grainy feed switching on as the ugly features of a cybernetically enhanced Ork’s face filled the screen. He was a monstrous creature, growling and snarling, before realising that the feed had been established.

“Oy, you, space marine.”
“What do you want, Ork.” Rocksteady responded, but it was not a genuine question.
“What does Warboss Bloodtoof want?” He asked, yelling angrily in his terrible gothic.
A silence followed this, Rocksteady raised one eyebrow. If the warboss had been expecting a response from the Captain, he would be sorely disappointed.
“Wot we want, is a zoggin’ fight!” And then the Warboss roared, as did the rest of his crew. Rocksteady rolled his eyes. Typical Ork brute.
“I see. I doubt if we asked nicely you would pull your ground troops offworld so that we could settle this ourselves.”
“Dat’s right! Da Orkz wanna foight, and we iz gonna foight on the planet, not let our big ships do the fightin’ for us!” He grinned dumbly, a big, toothy snarl.

“Very well then. I am Captain Rocksteady, of the Lamenters. Your Ork brethren down below are being slaughtered by Lieutenant Stormhoof and the defenders of this world. I will meet you in battle, Ork. And I will cut you down.”
There was another pause, and then Bloodtooth smiled.
“Good. I am Ork Warboss Bloodtoof. My boys are down there and they’re gonna break through your puny ponies and their stompy gitz, and i’m gonna keep your head on one of my spikes.”
The ork leaned down, and a series of spikes along the ridges of his armoured shoulders came into view. Several of them had skulls on them. Some militarum, a marine, even one Rocksteady recognised from the tyranid breed xenos.
The marine was from the blood angels. The Captain didn’t like that.

“Hear me now, Ork. You are outnumbered. Outgunned. Your fleet will be destroyed once we arrive. You must see that you cannot win here.”
“I don’t care.” He sneered. “I’m ‘ere to crush, and to kill all da ponies I need to. I’m gonna kill all you space marines, and we is gonna prove that da Orkz is best!” At that, he roared again, and the vid-feed was cut.
Rocksteady was not impressed. “Mindless beasts.” He muttered, before trotting back to his command throne.

~ ~ ~

The Militia and the Chevaliers were celebrating, and yet, their victory had come at a cost. Many of their soldiers had lost their lives in the battle, and it was just the beginning. The trenches would not stay in Imperial hooves by the end of the next attack. Stormhoof knew it.
“You did well, my Lord.”
It was that squire again-Dovewing. Pilot of the Lightningblade.
“So did you, squire.”

Stormhoof had watched as the armigers had fired upon the hordes of Orks and their remaining vehicles as they retreated. The Orks were a barbaric race, and the Lamenter had been worried that the defenders would have been fearful of them after seeing so many of their own number die. He was pleasantly surprised when they appeared stalwart in the face of the enemy, their morale had not crumbled, although, he supposed, if the planet was at stake, where would a deserter even flee to?
He could not understand the concept of fleeing-it was simply not within a space marine’s nature to do so. He had been taught the importance of morale to regular ponies, when working with them, a marine was to make sure that they provided a beacon to those who might find the battlefield to prove too much for them.

Stormhoof watched as the ancient, grey Leman Russ tanks rolled single-file to their newly assigned positions. The ponies did not need him to raise their hopes, he watched as a gas masked figure rose out of the top hatch of a Russ, only to begin waving a hoof and shouting his praises to the defenders-defenders who shouted their own back to him. The Lamenter looked on, almost smiling. The soldiers had been assured of their own victory, they no longer needed him to raise their morale, they could do it themselves.

“My Lord!”
Stormhoof was brought out of his thoughts by the vox-cast. “Colonel.”
“Thank you, my Lord. The Baroness is summoning a ‘high command’”
“Very good, I take it I am part of this?”
“Yes, Lord. As chief defence strategist, you are required to take part in this meeting.”
“Chief defence strategist” He chuckled to himself. “A fine title. I take it, you will also be attending?”
“Of course, Lord.”
Meeting her at the gates of the Magna Turris, Stormhoof studied her. A few bullet holes marked her armour, and the top of her brow had bled down to her muzzle, although that had stopped by now.
“Are you hurt?” he questioned her “Do you require an apothecary or a…’Surgeon Primus’ as your ponies call them?”
“My thanks Lord, but no. I am fine.”

A small troop carrier rolled past behind them as they stood outside the gates. Stormhoof turned back, and watched as it was followed by a monstrous Gorgon Armoured Assault Transport.
Brightmane watched the marine for a moment, and sighed. “I know that we are not the greatest army you have had the courtesy of fighting with. I know that we are seemingly a rag-tag formation to you, one that does not correspond to your standard doctrines or the modern battlefield. But we wish to become that. We need you to teach us your ways in order for us to survive in this dark millennium we have been brought into.”

A huge, yellow hoof was placed on her shoulder, she stiffened. “Colonel. I understand that your ponies are trying their best. Regimental doctrine, units, strategies…They mean nothing if the army trying to use them has no spirit. Your ponies have heart, Colonel. And if they keep it, that fire, that honour, that…hope. It will see them through this millennium, it will see this planet and its ponies saved. By the Throne, your place in the Imperium has already been set. All you must do now is win this war, and take it.”

The Magna Turris’ strategium, aptly codenamed ‘Castellum’ was bustling with activity. The tower’s artificers had toiled through the previous night’s assault in order to bring the ancient systems back online. The hololith projectors, whilst they would occasionally flicker, painted a clear image of Altheheim. At Flowerprance’s command, a technician brought up a live feed of the defences, the numbers of both enemy and friendly troops, any orbital assets, as well as a map of the planet itself. Stormhoof watched as several red circles appeared at various parts of the planet-places where the Orks had landed.
Dovewing, as ever, was by Flowerprance’s side. He would marry her. That was obvious, but there was one problem. He was her squire. Until he could pilot a Questoris or higher pattern knight, he would be unable to propose to her, as it would be frowned upon by the rest of House Hastilude-they would never let a marriage ceremony between a knight and her own squire take place, and would likely lead to them both being penalised, or worse, exiled.

Perhaps if he performed an heroic enough deed during this war he would be elevated to the status of a full Jousting Knight, no longer just a servant, but one who had his own squires.
Stormhoof blinked. “What is that?”
The strategium fell silent, every head turned to look at the marine, and then to where his hoof was pointing.
Flowerprance glanced at Dovewing, who simply shrugged, she walked over to the astartes.
“The Orks have landed on all of our moons.” she stated, although she was confused, looking at the red dots displayed on the three moons of Hashtor. “Sario, Alphar, and Dyzana have all been invaded now. How do we…have this information?” She questioned, and all but Stormhoof looked confused.

“You have stations on each of your moons. The sensors have automatically picked up on the Orks’ arrival. I assume that you did not know of this because of the state of disrepair your systems have been in for some time.”
“We have…stations on our moons? Bases?” Flowerprance cursed the generations of her planet for being vehemently against understanding such useful systems and maintaining the knowledge of how to run them.
“They are probably just sensor stations, although this one-” He pointed to the furthest moon from the planet, Dyzana. “With the elliptical orbit is probably a mining station. If the marines that came here before I did built fortresses of this quality, all over the world-this is where they acquired their building materials, and other minerals not native to this planet that are used here.”
“It does not matter now anyway. The moons have been invaded, and a scrap-fleet surrounds them. The only void-capable craft you have in any working condition are the Arvus Lighters and they are not meant for combat. We cannot reach your moons in time, and even if we could, we would not be able to perform an adequate counterattack. Therefore, we consider these moons lost, and move on.”
There was no response, and so he returned his attention back to the map of the town.
“This is your main street. You had wondered why I erected such a long corridor here. My plan now is to funnel the Orks through here. If they attack again on all sides, we will fall. Better to have them break in at one place than all over the city.
This will be a major firing corridor. The holes that have been drilled through the wooden walls I had your labourers build will allow your warriors’ weapons to fire into the pathway, killing any Orks that may break through. I can guarantee that it will not be perfect. Orks are unpredictable, and they may blow holes in various parts of our line. This, however, is not something that can be resolved. We do not have the time nor resources at hoof to properly stop them from breaking through the lines, but we can at least maximise their casualties.”
Flowerprance stepped in. “I understand that it is time my Knights properly took to the field.”
“It is. Rally the Knights of the Altheheim Lance. We have heard reports that the majority of the Orks’ scrap-titans have now been built. They will be baying for blood, your roles are to ensure that they are destroyed before they can damage our defences properly. Of all of the weapons the Orks have brought, their titans are the most able to break through the Magna Turtis’ walls.”

The strategic conversation carried on through the night. All the while, the guardsponies were leaving the trenches, walking in lines to their new positions, the muddy duckboards squelching underneath their hooves as they moved up and out onto more stable ground. Adjudant officers were ordering troops and their equipment according to the orders issued by Castellum command. They had never fought a war, and these tactics were alien to them, but if it kept their city safe, they would listen to the strange warrior from the stars who had come to them.
The ponies' morale had been shaken, but they remained strong. The Chevaliers had proven apt leaders for the militia stallions under their command, and although they had all seen comrades die around them, they were steadfast in their loyalty.

The armoured transports were virtually useless in this field of war-there was nowhere for the Hashtorans to go, and as such they were moved into storage, or had their ancient fuel syphoned to be used in other tanks, and their ammunition stores repurposed.
The trooper was blonde maned, blue-grey-eyed, and exhausted. Mud and soot caked her clothing, and she trudged ahead on weary hooves. She had been pressed into service by the war, the ill-fitting militia uniform she had been given hung loosely on her slight frame. Her las-rifle was slung over one shoulder.
Nevertheless, the flame she had always felt was still there-in fact, it had been stoked into a fire by Stormhoof’s speech. She had had three days worth of training before the battle, as had the rest of the squad she had been a part of, and she knew that the flame was the reason why she was the only survivor. Swiftly, she had been moved into a new squad, with the muzzles of others she had seen in her life before. Their faces were changed now, as hers must have been too. They had greeted each other quietly, exchanging solemn looks before being pushed ahead by Adjudants to their new positions.
The soldiers of her squad moved in columns to the firing corridor down the main street of their beloved home. Their only thoughts now were to keep their loved ones safe, and this would only be accomplished if the Magna Turris still stood.
Trooper Shimmerheart shivered in the cold of the night. Peering through the firing slit, the clearing was only lit by the light of the three moons. Barbed wire lined the walls, the huge logs of the Ferrum Lignaes genome were casting shadows of their own over the huddling squad. She hoped that they would hold, but knew that they couldn’t forever.
They just had to push the enemy away until aid could arrive, more of the Space Marines had been promised, and she hoped that the Emperor the warrior had spoken of would keep her safe, wherever he was.

“Oy Shim, you gonna finish that?”
She was startled out of her daze by trooper Clearskies. He was a tall Stallion, and had been telling grim jokes since their squad had formed. He had been a peasant before the war and she had lived in the city, now they were all in the same boat. She had always hated that nickname, and he’d figured that out quickly.
She looked down at the piece of roasted Hildebeast they had been given as their rations for the evening, and almost gave him her meal. Then she suddenly remembered how hungry she was.
“Fuck off, Sky..” She grinned.