• 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 Eight

The silver tinted log walls had held up well against the small arms fire of the orks-even their flamer weapons had proven ineffective at burning through them. The ponies of Hashtor had always been taught from a young age that if they were ever lost in the woods, they shouldn’t make their fires from sticks that fell around the base of the silverwood trees, many had died from the cold of winter, blaming their own skills for being unable to start a fire, when it was actually the fuel itself that was at fault.
Working the wood was another ordeal entirely. Each tree grew deep within the forests, and where they congregated, they created mystical clearings, beautiful places. There were creatures on Hashtor that burrowed into the wood of trees to survive, monsters that sharpened their claws on the sides of others, and even some that would slash open and drink the precious sap contained within. The Ferrum Lignaes tree had adapted to the harsh fauna, hardening themselves against everything nature could throw at them. They were difficult to build homes out of, but once built, the house would last longer than any bloodline had. Special diamond-tipped wood saws were required to cut through one of these trees, to fell one, however, was a tragedy. Each one used on the wall had been at least a century old, their strength and the little time the defenders had to cut them down had meant that they couldn’t cut down any that were older, and larger. These trees were Hashtor. A strong, silvery resolve, forged into something that had to withstand everything that would be thrown at them.
But the wall could not last forever.
The Orks on their ‘feet’ had been gunned down by the defenders through the firing slits. The Hashtoran tanks, Artillery pieces, and Knights had done their best to take out as many of the greenskins' cannons as they could, but the Orks had simply brought too many for the defenders to handle. Many Leman Russ tanks had been destroyed, and once the Knights had been pulled out of the withering barrage of ordnance, the enemy had begun to shell the firing corridor. It did not matter to the Orks whether they killed their own or the enemy, Warboss Bloodtoof had told them that their job was to ‘blow up the wall wot is keepin’ all our boys out’, and they knew the price they would have to pay if they failed their leader.

Stormhoof blinked his eyes as the shockwave dissipated, and rose to his hooves. He could hear something buzzing in his ear, but could not figure out where it was coming from. The rage was there. It always was. He bit down on it, hard, he could not show weakness now. An Ork approached him, swinging its huge scrap-blade around madly. He reached for his sword with his mind-but it was not at his side. His bolt pistol had run out of ammunition an hour ago, and the beast before him’s speed was only increasing. He tensed as it cannoned into him, punching its axe-wielding arm hard with one hoof, he spun around, and hauled the Ork over his back. Screeching, it flew over him, and landed, impaled on a shard of destroyed leg from an Atheon walker. It lay there, squirming around, trying to free itself despite the pain it must have been feeling. Stormhoof walked over to it, snatched up its scrap-axe in his magic’s aura, and with one swing, took the Ork’s head off.
He inspected the axe. It was a crudely designed weapon. The whole thing was covered in blood and rust. Spikes extended out of the top of its cutting edge. A metal pole had been split open on one side, and a sharpened slab of steel had been forced into the opening, then bolted into place.
The blood on the blade was the Orks…but some of it was pony blood too. He had killed at least some other defenders before running into the space marine, possibly many of them. This alien filth was not worth the lives of those that he had slain, not ten of it, nor a hundred of it would ever be worth the life of a single pony. He tasted smoke, and ash on his tongue. Enraged, he stomped on the Ork’s severed head. It exploded around his armoured hoof, but still he grew angrier. He swung the axe down into the monster’s body. The Great Enemy. Again and again he swung, switching to the blunt pole end of the axe. He crunched bone, and tore one of the beast’s arms off with his powerful magic, and yet the anger was not sated.
Horus had to die. Horus had to be destroyed beyond the point of recognition. He swung down, roaring. Sanguinius. Thud. Horus. Slice. Horus must be slain. Crack. The death of the genefather. Blood pumping. The Eye of Horus. Blood pooling. The death of His perfect son. Spear meets claw. Blood draining. An incessant whining in his ears. Blood-
The space marine was snapped out of it immediately. He looked down at the bloody pulp that used to be an Ork. His hooves were shaking. Ponies were around him, watching him fearfully. He realised that he must have been shouting.
He blinked the rage away, and moved down to one knee. “Forgive me…a moment’s weakness, guardsmare.”

The whining had been the vox. Those in the area had dispersed, the Hashtoran defenders still wary of him.
They had been reluctant to approach when they had found his blade, buried under a pile of rubble. It took three of them to lift the greatsword over to him. He had taken it, gratefully, but he recognised that they moved away from him as quickly as they dared.
“Yes, Brightmane.”
“My Lord, we are being pushed back. The Orks have destroyed most of our section of the wall. We have slain thousands of them, Lord, but more just keep coming-” She was cut off, and the sound of las-fire was all that could be heard over the vox.
Stormhoof was already galloping in her direction. He passed through ranks of guardsponies, they cheered as he thundered past. They had not seen the monster he had been a moment before.
He still held the Ork’s axe in his aura, as well as his sword. So many had died, and he had been the one to command them. The Orks were not the greatest threat to Hashtor, he was. A cold, calculating Astartes commander should not be the one leading these ponies. He had brought war to this planet. He was sending young mares and stallions to their deaths. He could not even control himself-forced to battle against the rage at all times.
He skidded to a halt, brought back to his senses. A group of Orks had surrounded the Colonel’s makeshift command post. Many guardsponies were dead, but a hooffull remained within, including her. He realised that he had been noticed.
Stormhoof struck. Each blow a kill. Orks fell, it was all too easy. The axe in his aura he left buried in the spine of a slain enemy. Some ran, many were gunned down by the remainder of Brightmane’s squad. He was an Astartes. He could not save everyone. But he could save a few. Jumping down into the command post, he surveyed the scene.
Most of the command squad was dead, all were injured. Still, they let out a cheer as he arrived. Stormhoof took off his helmet, and moved towards Brightmane, who smiled at him.
“I thought I was going to die, Lord.”
“You do not have my permission yet.”
She laughed. “A joke? Finally. I knew there was something pony still in you.”
He thought of this for a moment.
“I have been the cause of all of this.”
Brightmane’s smile faded, and she shook her head.
“It is not your fault, Stormhoof. You did not ask to crash on our planet. You didn’t bring the Orks here on purpose. You’re just…trying to do your best. Like I am. Like we all are.” She looked over the scene, ponies were dead. Orks were dead.
“You could have left at any point. Gone back to your brothers in orbit in an Arvus, don’t look at me like that, you know as well as I do that the Ork blockade wouldn’t have been sufficient to cover the entire planet. You stayed. Because you care, Stormhoof. You’re one of us, a pony, a Hashtoran. You chose to defend us, not because you were ordered to, or because you didn’t have a choice, you always had a choice. But you made the choice that you would fight with us, that you would give us a chance. Stormhoof, you-”
And then something-a piece of shrapnel struck her in the neck. She looked shocked for a moment. Stormhoof reached out to her with a hoof, and caught her falling form. The blood flowed out of her neck freely. The marine looked down at her, numb. She smiled faintly, before her eyes glossed over, and didn’t see any more.
Gently, he lowered her body onto a pile of ammunition crates.
Evidently, Brightmane had not been one of the few he was capable of saving.
He drew his blade again, and wordlessly left the entrenched position.

~ ~ ~

Captain Rocksteady bellowed orders as Blade of Wrath’s cannons roared.
They had begun to fire upon the Ork scrap-fleet at their maximum range an hour ago, and had already destroyed many of their vessels. Their ships were cobbled together, and many did not take much to destroy-how the majority of their fleet was even void-capable, the Captain did not know.
There was one unlike the others though-their flagship. It once had been a Battle-Barge owned by the Adeptus Astartes, now it was the flagship of the enemy, Warboss Bloodtooth was on board. Captain Rocksteady hoped that he would be able to board quickly, slay the enemy leader, and put an end to the merciless killing going on down below.
“Lord, we are receiving communications from-”
“Accept them” He sighed, talking to the Ork Warboss had grown quite tiresome-several times since their first interaction, the Warboss had messaged them, taunting and goading. The Captain had always acted indifferent, angering the Ork further.
“Oy, you, space pony!”
Rocksteady remained deadpan.
“I’ve had it up to ‘ere with this sittin’ around and shootin’ with our big ships, I challenge you to a foight!”
The Captain looked at him, quizzically. “And just how do you plan on reaching me?”
“I’m not gonna go to you, you’re gonna come to me!” He roared, beating his armoured chestplate with a huge power-claw.
“I will be boarding your ship shortly, Ork. You will not have long to wait”
Bloodtooth grinned, shaking his head. “You’re not gonna meet me on my ship, space marine, i’m headin’ down to that rock, and that’s where i’ll bash your brains in!”
The communications closed. Rocksteady watched as one of the scanners picked up a small contingent of landing craft leaving the Ork’s battle-barge.
The Captain scoffed. He had hoped that they would keep their fighting outside the planet’s orbit, but clearly, that was no longer an option. “Their leader has clearly seen the futility of the battle in space. Send a message out to the fleet, clean up the rest of this rabble. I want our Astartes in drop pods now, and I will be joining them.”

~ ~ ~

To say that the marine was fierce would have been an understatement. Trooper Shimmerheart had seen him fight very briefly before, but now it was different, now he was like a beast that had finally been let off its leash.
Everywhere, he was throwing himself into the thick of it. Wherever there were the most enemies to kill, he was always there, charging and reaping without hesitation. She tried to get her squad to cover him whenever he ran into a group of Orks that seemed far too many for even him to destroy, but he simply moved too fast for them to support him. Clearskies pointed out that Stormhoof didn’t really need the help anyway.
Stormhoof swung. Again, and again he brought the Orks to heel by his blade, his horn, or his hoof. She watched the great warrior as closely as she dared. His armour was cracking, he was bleeding, pushing himself to his absolute limits, even so, the Orks kept coming, pressing him and the defenders to the walls of the Magna Turris, to their sheltered loved ones. To the home of the Knights.
A group of greenskins scattered ahead of the marine, looking up, Shimmerheart saw why.

A small dropship with two support-craft was landing here, even in the midst of the battle. She looked back at the walls of the Magna Turris, wondering why its anti-aircraft guns hadn’t shot them down, only to find that they had all but been destroyed by the Ork’s crude cannons. A Knight Crusader, bounding along on four legs, took a sideways shot of its Thermal-cannon, missing the dropship by a hair’s breadth and bringing one of its support vessels crashing down in flames. The Crusader’s charge slowed to a stop as it turned its torso and readied its weapons to fire again, before it was forced to focus on a group of tanks that had opened fire on it instead.
The defenders on the walls opened fire with their lasrifles as the hatches of the two remaining ships opened. Stormhoof braced himself for the oncoming tide as the Orks spilled out en masse, a few of the smaller ones dying before they even touched Hashtor’s soil, many more racing forward into the melee. Those that followed this first wave were big, armoured brutes. Some hauling massive cannons over their shoulders that he knew had been brought to destroy the Magna Turris’ gate, others forming a crude shield-wall around them as they marched forward. Their huge hammers and maces crushing any unfortunate enough to get in their path, friend or foe alike.
At the back of this wall came the largest Ork by far.
Upon the top of his heavily armoured back was a row of spikes, impaled upon which were pony and Xenos skulls, as well as the helmet of a Blood Angel. The Lieutenant was almost overcome with the rage then and there.
Half machine-half monster, the beast roared his orders to the other Orks as they began marching towards the shut portcullis, his huge claw lifting an unlucky Chevalier off the ground, before it closed fully, slicing him into three clean pieces.
The Lamenter drew his sword. He fought at the rage that threatened to overtake him. This Ork was clearly their leader. End it, end the war.
Suddenly, the brute turned, and grinned. Its red cybernetic eye was trained on the marine. The Warboss stepped out from behind the shield wall, and it roared a challenge.

Stormhoof took a deep breath, and accepted.