Daemon Lord Muldaven looked across the wasted lands of Kettamet IV, a once prosperous planet of the Imperium of Man, now a warzone where the few prizes that remain are killed for without hesitation. Kneeling low on the hill top, his gaze settled on a long abandoned outboard town that must have once housed a refueling station. The scouts had named the town Dawn’s Gate. Whatever gave the town its name, however, was not apparent. Dawn did not visit the planet anymore; the blackened skies saw to that.
Flexing his great wings, the daemon looked back over his shoulders and beckoned with clawed hands for Sergeant Tare. The once-man felt the command and started to make his way up the hill. Muldaven turned again and looked out once more across the land, this time focusing on the earth between him and the remains of Dawn’s Gate.
Countless battles and orbital bombardments had driven the soil into a dead and dying state. He smiled, letting his thoughts linger on what had caused the Imperium to attack this planet. A few well placed ambitious and hungry men had caused enough dissent in the populace, enough to draw the attention of the Imperial Inquisitors. When they failed to quell the threat, the fleet came to resolve the matter militarily. Getting spies on board the Indoctima Primus had been easy. Mygar had known the precise codes needed, and a few well doctored scans of the planet made it very clear to the orbiting fleet that Kettamet IV was overrun with daemons. In ignorance, they sent a single detachment of Howling Gryphons space marines to the planet where they were met by Muldaven’s forces. The daemon lord’s smile broadened as he remembered that battle. They were overrun and were forced back, at the last moment being rescued. But the battle had served its purpose, and the Imperium laid the planet to waste. An entire planet of loyal Imperial humans had died to the hands of the people that they had come to see as their saviors. The fleet was destroyed in the middle of the bombardment. Mygar was efficient and quick. Muldaven still remembered the fire raining down that night.
“My lord,” the Sergeant said, “the once-men are ready. The armor is repaired from our last engagement. The fleet reports…”
“I have heard the fleet’s report, Sergeant. I need not here it again. They claim the town is vacant and what we seek is there. Do you doubt Lord Mygar?” asked the daemon prince, his head turning slowly to face Tare. He let his teeth show through his smile.
“No, Lord. I do not doubt Mygar. I do doubt his source, though. Something stirs in the town below. We should go in cautious and ready,” Tare said. His face was stone. Only his shifting eyes gave away his nervousness. Doubting Mygar was always dangerous, even for a Daemon Lord, and especially for a Sergeant. Battlefield promotions were rarely questioned. Muldaven turn back toward the town, letting Tare sweat a bit. Let the man think Muldaven was giving thought to this. Let him think he had made a mistake.
“Do not fear, Tare. I agree with your assessment. Have the once-men board Rhinos in battle formation. Get the Bilecannon up front. I want it clearing the way,” the daemon said, the smile leaving his face. Battle was coming, he was sure. He smelled it in the air. He felt it in the earth.
“Yes, my lord. At once,” Tare said, standing as he walked back down the hill.
Muldaven smiled again. Yes, battle was coming.