The Red Shroud
LIEUTENANT CADMUS GREGORIA sat down heavily next to his backpack and surveyed the scene around him. Troopers from his Ranger Company were similarly scattered around, some in deep asleep, others hyper-alert on Battle Pills, but all were feeling the effects of six days of near constant engagement with enemy forces.
After the initial successful assault by the Dark Angels on the bunker complex guarding the entrance to the power station, the Rangers had the task of fighting their way through a labyrinth of tunnels, machine rooms, fortified atriums and dark subterranean sub-levels against an enemy renegade force of regimental strength intent on defending the defected Imperial facility until the last man.
It had been a close run battle — whole squads having been lost within the bloodbath of the final assault on the generator vault itself. But the Imperium prevailed and all defectors were killed in the course of their desperate defence — those not killed outright blew themselves to atoms rather than face the prospect of capture and being turned over to the Dark Angels for questioning and an uncertain term of incarceration.
But the most important capture was not an individual but an artefact. Within the cavernous hydro-transfer drive chamber was a large black frame roughly five metres square, slung from this frame was a single piece of cloth. Red in colour and covered with a swirling design of living complexity portraying the foul blasphemous symbols of the Marks of Chaos.
At first its function was a mystery — until a platoon of Rangers got too close. They vanished without trace — all vox contact was lost and even psyker trackers could not detect them. Then reports from units in sector 631 [Southern Pole] sighted a unit of hideously transformed possible human forms appearing out of thin air — this being two weeks after their disappearance.
We had captured a shroud-portal, a satellite tear in the fabric of the universe — part of the subnet of a larger Warp opening.
Since this discovery an exclusion zone of six leagues has been drawn around this sector. A regiment of the Ash Legion policing its borders with orders to shoot any transgressors whatever their apparent appearance.
The brothers Librarian Mehabiah and Techmarine Barzillai have been ordered to examine the Shroud to determine its function and power, then to destroy it. The fourth squad [Sergeant Zadkiel] has been assigned close-escort duties while this labour continues.
My own squad [first] has been stood down from routine patrols — this being maintained by the Ravenwing squadrons and the Scout squad. We are being held in reserve for some task not yet made clear to us. This has given us a good opportunity to repair battle damaged equipment, and to strengthen our allegiance to the Emperor through greater devotional meditation.
We await future developments with much anticipation.
Until the Sword is reforged.
Imperium Approved: Honoro Legio Dark Angels.
Chronicler Isiah, the 4th Battle Company, Dark Angels.