Prologue: The Fighting Forty-Fourth "From Iron, cometh Strength."They were born on Terra, Cradle of Mankind and throne from which the Master of Mankind ruled. They were born on Olympia, cradle of The Lord of Iron, The Hammer of Olympia, and Primarch of the Iron Warriors legion. Once boys, then men, then the best of men, they all became more. They were clad in armor, powerful armor, proof against assaults both savage and devious. They were given weapons, powerful weapons, that roared like thunder and split flesh, bone, and armor without pause. They were given minds, bodies, and spirits made ready for war. They were not reforged, nor reborn, they were honed. They were space marines! "From Strength,cometh Will."They came from Terra, seeking glory, to serve, to expand the reach of man. They came from Olympia, seeking glory, to serve, to carry the banners of the legion Father. Terran, Olympian, they all came into the fourth legion and found themselves among broken sons. They had heard the rumors, the stories, but nowhere did it become clear how real things were than when they joined the legion proper. Ten percent dead, beaten to death by brothers in arms. They all had bloody hands. "From Will, cometh Faith."They were not Ultramarines, victors yes, but never so swiftly or gloriously. They were not Salamanders, tenacious yes, but lacking in that very human spirit. They were not World Eaters, relentless yes, but lacking that berzerker spirit. They were not Imperial Fist, stoic yes, but lacking so much favor. They were Iron Warriors, calculating, merciless, and brutal. They were the Work Horse Legion, the Corpse Grinders. "From Faith, cometh Honour."They were going to a world. Its name did not matter. What mattered was that Orks were there, the hated xenos menace. Forges once belonging to man now cranked out war machines for the many Freebootas that swarmed the local sector. It was like sending a man with a heavy flamer to cleanse bees from a vineyard. It was busy work. "From Honour, cometh Iron."This would be their first trial. Years of training programs, war games, and practice cages were going to be exchanged for Ork charges, artillery barrages, and trenches. The Orks had fortified the planet as only they truly could. Redoubts and bastions so impractical as to be impervious to conventional means. The madness of the xeno would be pitted against the blunt genius of the the fourth legion. Two line companies and their armored centuries splintered from the grand battalion would be entrusted with this task. Two hundred marines against countless Orks. Fair odds. "This is the Unbreakable Litany, and may it forever be so."The voice of Captain Brumdar echoed throughout the mustering chamber. Voice carried above and all around his company whom were gathered for strategic briefing. The ranks were a curious mixture of shapes and asymmetry as the bulky jump packs of assault warriors were stationed in the same rows as the linesmen and heavy weapons troopers. In the wake of the decimation there was a mighty urge to improve performance. Some opted to buckle down and hone proven tactics, to refine what had once been thought strengths so that perhaps legion Father might concur. Others, such as Brumdar, desired to experiment and step beyond the confines of tried and true in pursuit of glory. Cases like him were of a lesser presence, and indeed derision was a constant for the daring, yet Brumdar believed fortune favored the bold; and it had certainly been a bold call to reorganize their squads. It was this thinking that lead to several assaults standing beside several linesmen and heavy legionnaires. Marcus, Wilson, Herchel, Seth, Dyzek, Grunvil, and four others made up the Seventh squad. They were fresh meat for the grinder, tested but unblooded. Perhaps they, at least, were possessed of the eagerness most the rest of their company lacked, not seeing this as the equivalent of galactic house keeping and a chance to prove themselves as legionnaires proper. Their Sergeant, a lumbering figure by the name of Akar, hadn't done much to instill any sort of pride or excitement in them. Nor had he quashed any that he saw, his presence was an empty one and his interactions had been purposely limited to ensuring they trained and were schooled in tactics. Outside of these duties he gravitated toward spending time with other, older members of the legion. It seemed to be that way for them with everyone else for that matter. At last there was movement within the chamber once more. Tactical holos and great projection screens igniting as the lumen-torches on the walls subtly dimmed to darkness. A biting orange cast off by the holo-projectors dominated much of the space, while a sterile blue-white was given off by the screens. An orb took shape and was swiftly being populated by sectors, structures, and masses of troops. Lesser beings would of struggled to keep up with the sheer amount of information being put on display and cycled through, but for the space marines it was nothing and they easily glossed over and reabsorbed information that had already been presented a half-dozen times before. The Captain began speaking once everything was loaded up. Several minutes passed as orders were relayed and tactics discussed. Units and sub-units organized, squads tasked and sub-commanders anointed. "Squad Seven shall act in support of establishing operations. You will oversee our Imperial Army auxiliaries in fortifying the LZ and making sure the Orks do not interrupt the securing of our foothold. " It sounded several degrees more important and vital than it really was. Even the youngest of the Iron Warriors could translate it to busy work, digging trenches, erecting fortifications, and minding their regular human allies while the real bloodshed and tactically exciting operations were managed by the more veteran among their ranks. Akar reacted to this with a mechanical salute. "Orders acknowledged Captain!" Yelling was about as animated as the their Sergeant ever got, and even raising his voice seemed more like programming than actual choice or acknowledgment of the situation. If there was anything the man actually had to offer to the squad, it was wisdom, and the raw power of a plasma cannon. "Seventh, move out. " Already in motion before he even finished speaking Akar didn't bother checking if they were following, expecting it. Punishment for failure to move would obviously be quite severe.