The Blackest NightCaptain Starbraid sits up in his throne, the squat seat crafted by some of Gingerbraid's finest Squats. Like a maestro he uses his fingers to direct the small green-black shapes representing the Dawnbringer fleet on a holo-grid in their maneuvers. Irritation mounts briefly every time he looks further afield and seizes up the difference between the chapter's woefully small fleet, being two cruisers, a selection of minor escorts, scouts, and raiders dwarfed by any other vessels of note, and the grand fleets of Guilliman's sons. Even those ravaged during the Battle of Thessala swam through the shoals of space in greater numbers, prows ruined like bloodied noses but colors flown proud and teeth bared against their foe. Perhaps that was why the Astra Drakon and Odiaus’ Pride were deployed to provide orbital support for forces further afield, specifically the Doom Eagles and Tenth Company. Captain Trimion did not seem to share Starbraid’s annoyance, at least the squat couldn’t sense any, and Squats knew how to detect grumblings, even internal ones. Indeed the man’s family had apparently been natives of Ultramar and this was anything but an ideal homecoming. Reports of first lances came in shortly before the Vanguard began deploying from allied cruisers. Great and terrible energies channeled into beams larger than titans criss-crossed the void and struck against equally mighty shields. Veteran shipmasters regarded the opening shots as insults, little more than puffing of the chest. It would not be a real fight until the broadsides fired, until wings of fighters clashed, bombers closed in, and the boarding torpedoes were launched; all decisions and plans that had been laid and re-laid over the slow, deathly silent approach of the two fleets. Void war rarely ever pivoted upon moment to moment orders and results, it was a slow game played with pieces so large that their death could reshape continents if they fell free of the table. If ever the adage about battles being won before they began was true, it would be in the void. There was also the saying about a fat lady singing and the end… the soundtrack for it was certainly present. The music was insufferable, and worst of all inescapable. Stormbirds, Thunder Hawks, Fire Raptors, Interceptors, Escorts, Battleships, none of them were safe from the noise. The discordant beats came from everywhere and nowhere at once. Muting vox units, communication beads, and proofing helmets against external sound did nothing. Sailors answered back with shanties and the Astartes with war hymns. As their voices rose so too did the music. The Brother-Heralds wailed upon their sonic weapons, trying to beat the enemy at their own game. Chaotic beat only climbed higher as machines screamed until armored fingers were literally smoking. Brother Ozymandias bows his head and simply practices a quiet warm up; they would need him at his fullest and finest on the ground. The Tenth Company were anything but quiet. Those who had not given up on singing continued at full volume. Akar looked rather at peace with the audio agony going on, expression locked in its usual temper. Temperer Aleksius Jonesius was doing his best to scream at them about how the Emperor’s Children were putting music in their air supply to turn them into heretics. Thank the Emperor they had already been briefed before hearing became a luxury. They would be deploying via bikes to assail the enemy position. No use trying to be sneaky if there was no cover between them and the mutated terrain currently fortified by the IIIrd. Ever unimaginative the Master of the Recruits was opting for a return to roots: throwing all his scouts at the issue with teeth grit and guns raised until they were in close with the foe and navigating a madhouse of guns, blades, and heathens. Even with the Doom Eagles supporting them and the traitor legion’s forces focused on the primary army of Ultra-sons and support from all across Ultramar, indeed the Imperium even, the deck remained stacked in their foe’s favor. Fulgrim held the power to reshape worlds, his sons were whipped up into a frenzy they had perhaps only experienced at the height of the Horus Heresy, a nigh endless stream of Neverborn stood at the precipice of Warp gates and arranged themselves on corrupted soils, and uncounted mortal thralls begged for the enemy to deliver themselves to their lines, be they legion, regiment, or something of metal rather than flesh, they craved the exhilaration of blood shed and death. But, what were the Astartes made for if not for missions like this? It was time to separate the boys from the men. There would be iron on Saramanth, true iron that will not break easy. Weapons proven time and time again against the great enemies of mankind, but still held at arms length by their own cousins, brothers even. Here the Dawnbringers, and all of Guilliman's true sons, would either stand and become heroes eternal, or break and submit Ultramar to a fate most unthinkable.