A broken, shattered fragment of Horus' mind drifted through the Warp, passing warzones and planets infatuated with the power of Chaos. He wandered for what seemed like forever, and in century, he returned to the materiel plane, but he was without a vessel. He watched the newly re-formed Imperium grow, and whither, and grow again, until he returned to the Warp. Here, he whispered to deamons and made them do his bidding. He engineered whole sector-wide battles, but he gave no allegiance to any god. He began drifting again, past worlds that were torn by war and the Ruinous Powers, until he came across the Realm of the Gods. He passed the Kingdom of Khorne, a blood-splattered Deamon-system where thousands of Bloodthirsters rampaged across the planets, splitting the very surface of a planet with their axes. He drifted by the Realm of Tzeentch, an ever shifting mass of screams and laughter, the Deamons that inhabited it shifting their shapes and disappearing into the Material Plane to cause eternal misery and pain in the name of their God. He passed the System of Slaanesh, where cries of ecstasy and pleasure could be heard so loud they could drive a mortal insane. The twisted and perverse thoughts of all living things existed here, and they only fueled the mad power of the Prince of Pleasure. He came finally to the rotting Zone of Nurgle, the raw diseases that spread across the galaxy being created as Horus looked on. He could hear the gurgling of the Grandfather of Disease and Rot, and that of his disgusting children and followers.
On and on he drifted, through areas of the warp were beauty ruled, and others were only death, anarchy and madness reigned. He drifted onwards, onwards to a far, distant corner of the Warp, where suddenly the roiling madness of the warp ceased, and it was blackness there on. He pushed on, curious as to what lay here, after all, what could possibly await him here that was worse than what he had suffered at his Father’s hands?
Finally he stopped, and he felt a terrible presence looking at him, observing his every move. Finally he heard it speak. It was a deep, booming voice that would have been heard for light years, but the vast expanse around him was empty, save for himself.
‘A warrior!’ it cried, and ripple was sent through the warp. There was a rushing, the sound that Horus could have mistaken for a being drawing a breath. ‘Yes, and a fine one and that!’
Horus attempted speech, but he lacked the body parts. So, conjuring what was left of his psychic meant, leant to him from the fickle Gods of Chaos, he spoke.
‘Who-who are you?’ it came out as a whimper, a testament to what the Emperor had done.
‘Why, I am the Star Child. You…are Horus, favored son of the False Emperor.’
‘Yes! Well, I was, but then I saw the truth and tried to kill him, claiming the Throne for myself! For I am the One True Emperor of Mankind!’
‘Hmmmm… and how did that work out for you, O Mighty One?’ The voice seemed to be humoring him.
‘Well…it failed, but only because I faltered. I should have delivered the killing blow when I had him crippled on the floor. But I stopped, savoring the moment. Then he killed my mortal form, and should have destroyed my warp-conscience. But this part of me survived.’
‘Yes, because I have been watching you from the beginning. And I am not like the other Gods of Chaos. I shall give you a tiny fragment of my powers, and return you to the mortal realm. But you must promise to fight for me.’
‘Why should I?’
‘Ha, you know the right questions. Fine. I shall return you to your formal glory, before your confrontation with the Emperor.’
‘And you know the right answers. Very well, like I have a choice,’ said Horus
‘There is one condition,’ said the Star Child.
‘Go on,’ said Horus.
‘You will have your entire connection with the warp destroyed, until you are returned to glory.’ After a moments consideration, Horus accepted. ‘Very well, now be gone, Horus the Returned!’
A soft rumble was heard, until it reached a deafening cacophony, then the fabric of this universe was rent open, and the Materiel Plane was seen. Horus passed through, then, as the portal was closing, he cried ‘My name is Suroh!’
It had been a mere year since the death of Forgefather Vulkan He'stan, and the Salamanders had mourned for their lost brother, the greatest Forgefather since the Great Primarch for a long time. However, tradition must continue, regardless the casualties. As He'stan had never named a successor, the entire chapter unanimously decided that the Forgefather should be the current Chapter Master, Tu'shan.
It was the first time the positions of Forgefather and Chapter Master were combined, but it served simplicity and, since He'stan had located another possession of the Primarch, a new Forgefather to secure it was needed. And so, Forgefather Vulkan Tu'shan rallied the combined forces of the 1st, 5th and 6th companies to secure the Song of Entropy.
'We've managed to recover the location of the Song, my Lord,' announced Techmarine Se'valt over the sound of the ammo servitors. The warriors gathered on the embarkation deck stopped what they were doing, and watched attentively as Tu’shan approached Se’valt. He strode towards the Techmarine, a look of absolute determination on his scar-stricken face. In his resplendent Terminator armour, he towered over the Techmarine, the many mechanics in his servo-harness whirring. ‘He’stan had hid his log well, so only he could-‘
‘Where?’ growled Tu’shan, cutting Se’valt off.
Yes, of course my Lord, it’s just that-‘ before Se’valt could continue, Tu’shan swiped the data-slate form his hands, giving him a burning stare before waving him away. He turned to the assembled Astartes, and read the data-slate under his breath. He skimmed over the information quickly, taking it in piece by piece. Then, without warning, he dropped the data-slate, which splintered on the floor, sending shards in all directions. He lifted his head, and felt the stares of three hundred battle brothers burning into him.
‘Brothers,’ cried Tu’shan, ‘the location is one of dark history for our Chapter – nay, our Legion. It is a place of mystery and myth, true records of it lost in time. It’s –‘ He faltered, knowing his next words would mark the beginning of a new era for the Salamanders. ‘It’s Istvaan V.’
Suroh surveyed the landscape. It was bare all around, bar the sharp rise of cliffs not far to the left. He moved forwards, taking in all the information his weakened form could. He heard a loud gust of wind behind him and turned to see the gate closing behind him. As the last spectral rays of light disappeared, he felt a change, his psychic powers evaporating, his entire presence in the warp gone. He felt empty, as though a part of him was missing, like he had...no soul.
Suddenly, he heard panting coming from his right, and saw a young man followed by two armed Imperial Army soldiers running after him, although the uniforms were different to the ones used during the Great Crusade, such as they had been permitted to wear the Imperial Eagle upon their left breast plate. A lasgun was in each soldiers hands, and it was being fired blindly in the young man’s direction. Suroh began to plant himself in a defensive position, before realising he had no physical form. The man wasn’t even looking in his direction anyway, he seemed to be shouting back at the guards.
Before knowing what had happened, the man ran through Suroh’s mind, and a feeling of warmth washed over him.
Suddenly, Suroh was hit by a multitude of smells, such as urine, sweat and faecal matter. And strangely, his vision was better too. It was brighter, the colours not slurred into each other. And...he could touch. He looked down, and saw that the young man hadn’t passed through him.
He had passed into the man.
He saw the man’s name was Xantes in the testosterone-filled mind of the young man, thoughts of sex and violence drifting through the un-trained consciousness of the horny youth.
But Suroh still couldn’t get over the fact that he had gained a vessel so quickly.
And there were two armed men running at him.
Ah, it was good to be back.
As the guards ran at Suroh, he began to reach for any weapons this Xantes may have had on his person as his soul died. He managed to find a small knife which had an eagle head on the end of the hilt. Really, even his infantry carried his emblems now? Oh, it would have to make do. He felt a sharp pain in his leg, and he fell to the floor. He inspected his wound and saw that it had a thin trickle of blood running out of it and down his leg, with the smell of burnt flesh and smoke accompanying the coppery stench of blood. He felt a dark shadow fall over him, blocking out the burning rays of the sun. For a moment he was grateful , until he saw the shadow belonged to one of the guards. He cursed, and he felt a small sanctuary in that he had a body again.
‘C’mon, you arse, His Greatness wishes to speak to you,’ said the guard as he pulled Suroh to his feet, putting his hands behind his back and directing him towards the hills.
‘His Greatness? You mean the Emperor still lives?’ asked Suroh, a tiny sliver of hate bleeding through his façade.
‘The Emperor?’ repeated the guard cynically, before laughing uncontrollably. ‘He’s a myth, ya drunk. He never existed, nor did the so-called ‘‘Primarchs’’.’
Suroh was about to reply when he realised that this soldier would never believe that he was a son of the Emperor.
He was kneeling in a chamber before a man with ornate armour and wearing grox-skin cloaks, with a symbol of the Aquila hanging from a chain around his neck. He was flanked by two soldiers, both wearing grey armour and holding what seemed to be custodes Spear with several oaths of moment hanging from it. These oaths of moment were also all over his armour, along with symbols of books and upturned swords. Their helmets were extremely ornate, grills covering the mouth and dark glowing eyes emanating from above it. Also, behind this procession were several men which had twisted features, holding a large sceptre that had the Aquila atop it.
‘Xantes o’Nem, you are brought before Uhlos the Merciless, High Lord of the Inquisition, Overlord of the Grimth Cluster on charges of extreme treason to the Beneficent Emperor of Mankind in the cases of bearing symbols of the Dark Gods, spreading word of the Ruinous Powers and organising co-ordinated rebellions against His magnificent servant, Uhlos the Merciful,’ read a robed man in the side of his vision. ‘On these grounds, you are sentenced to Arco-flagellation.’
‘Psyker Nortrept, he is yours to prep for flagellation. Do what you must to make him repent for his sins,’ announced Uhlos, in a deep booming voice that proved he could command entire system-wide battles. An unseen soldier dragged Suroh to his feet, holding him by his bound hands. Blood dripped from his facial wounds and his battered abdomen. Whip-marks bled profoundly on his back, and every beat of his heart sent more crimson-liquid spewing over his bruised flesh.
He was taken to dark room, and the twisted figure – a Psyker – entered from the opposite wall, along with one of the grey-armoured soldiers. He seemed to be wearing improved power armour, and a twin-linked bolter was affixed to his left gauntlet.
The Psyker seemed mute as he stood before Suroh’s battered form, his eyes dark and sunken. Then Suroh’s eardrums were nearly burst with his ethereal scream.
‘WITNESS YOUR DOOM!’ roared the Psyker, his left hand extended forward, with red lightning bounding from his fingertips. The static touched his form and blazed over his form, digging itself in his darkest reaches. Obviously the desired effect never took place, as the zealous face of the Psyker fell. Then he burst into flames.
The soldier raised his weapon, and cried ‘I shall rent your soul apart!’ as his weapon blazed with ethereal flames.
The soldier’s weapons blazed red with warp-fuelled flames, and before Suroh could hope to defend himself, the flames were released from the Custodes Spear and, like a shackled hound broken free, it surged towards Suroh, intent on tearing him apart. It roared through the air, homing in on him, and preparing to shear the flesh from his bones.
However, as it came close to him, it dissipated, leaving nothing but the smell of charred air in the room. Suroh stared down at his limbs, waiting to see burnt flesh covering his bones, it hanging limp from his skeleton. But instead he saw his skin re-healing the wounds he had suffered at the hands of Uhlos’ minions. He felt a slow rippling over his back and his hand found only smooth flesh when they inspected the newly healed skin. But as his old wounds healed, another appeared as he was struck about his head, causing him to lose consciousness.
He was opening his eyes for the first time in what was obviously a long time, his vision clouded and hazy, objects drifting in and out. Blood swam across his vision and, despite being in pain, he couldn’t help but smile at the fact that...he was back. Battered and bruised, on the verge of death albeit. But back. Unlike the other Gods, the Star Child had delivered his promise. As the ghosts of a smile crept across his scarred face, a large armoured boot crashed down on his face.
If he hadn’t been in pain before, he was now. He felt blood pour down his face, the quickened pulse of his heart pounding just beneath the outer layer of his flesh, sending what felt like several pints go streaming down the left side of his face. He brushed his hand against his wound and he realised that a large portion of his forehead had caved in. It was a miracle he was alive, although he soon realised the dent wasn’t too deep. Where before his vision had been clouded, it was now an impenetrable fog of gore and blood, his pupils trickling blood and his irises turning a sick red.
Sound filtered in through his ringing ears, the voices gruff and one of them sounded like the scraping of metal on metal, a rough sound that stung his eardrums.
‘The Psyker couldn’t penetrate his mind, my lord,’ came the gravelly voice. ‘I think he may have the Pariah gene.’
‘Impossible,’ the voice was commanding and powerful. Suroh instantly recognised it as Uhlos. ‘How could have been connected to the foul entities of Chaos?’ – it sounded as if he spat the word.
‘Hard to say sire, but even my honed powers and iron will couldn’t break him.’
‘Hmm... this is a matter of great concern... He wakes! Cease! Look at me, you foul bastaerd,’ Suroh’s vision cleared in an instant, as though this man willed it. Then he realised that his bleeding had stopped, and his wounds were slowly healing. So he had regained his gene-enhanced blood-clotting system. Useful.
‘You will stand before your lord, worm!’ shouted an Imperial Army soldier from behind him. Another clout round the ear saw him rise to his feet out of anger, not respect. But obviously Uhlos couldn’t tell, and addressed him.
‘You, maggot, are an enigma. You obviously weren’t born with the Pariah gene, and yet my greatest Acolyte cannot hurt your mind and instead you burn him alive. However, you have regardless gained the gene and so will be taken to the Calexus Temple and you shall be put to use against the nemies of the Emperor.’ Uhlos spoke like it was a great mercy and honour, but Suroh could think of no worse punishment
The next chapter of Suroh's bloody career is a time of mystery, scraps of records pieced together through the inventive imagination of the Department of Historium, an almagam of history throughout the human-controlled areas of the universe and actions of individuals that affected the entire Imperium.
Suroh's training in the Cellexus Temple was a long and arduous time, but, as would be expected of a demi-god, he was the top student, and slowly, Suroh rose to prominence in the Temple, his teachers and overseers consistently impressed with his mighty abilities. He had, obviously, crafted a name for himself. Suroh was such an obvious link to 'Horus' and he couldn't take that chance, especially since he was working for the inventively named inquisitive Inquisition. Using Xantes as a base, he eventually twisted it to Xerxes, a once influential figure in Terra’s ancient times. He continually proved himself ready to kill for his (temporary) masters, and even more so to regain his powers. However, his masters frequently said that ‘there wasn’t something quite right with the man’. This, twinned with the fact that he was extremely over-eager to begin killing, led them to refrain from fielding him in battle, fearful of the possibility that he may begin killing his fellow soldiers. And so, Suroh remained inactive for the better part of a decade.
Suroh was sitting in his quarters, a once bare room now riddled with deep marks he had scratched into the ceramite walls. Some depicted iconography of his old Legion, others were marks of the Chaos Gods that glowed with ethereal powers. Strangely, he was continually drawn to drawing the Imperial Aquila. Unable to explain why, he consoled himself in its beauty and, even though it was the bastard Emperor that had first thought it up, he couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer simplicity of the design. A blind head to the past and an eager head to the future, with two majestic wings spread out around them. He was staring at a large one which took up most of the wall behind his bed, when one of his masters entered the room. A large man, he dwarfed Suroh in his current state. A thick moustache sat atop his upper lip, and hollow cheeks sat beneath sunken eyes, ringed with scars and weighed down with dark bags that hung below them. Suroh snarled at him and turned back to the vast Aquila.
‘Prep your gear,’ said the master, ‘you’re to report to the landing pad in fifteen minutes. No later.’ He spat the last two wards at Suroh. He hung in the doorway, waiting for Suroh to speak. But the silence he had kept since his induction into the temple would not be broken. Muttering to himself, the master closed the door on Suroh and immediately he got to work. Bringing his gear out from under his Spartan bed, and laid his weapons out on the floor. A small pistol, capable of taking a xeno’s head off, but as for armour, it would do nothing. A long sabre, crafted by master artisans, sheathed in an ornate case. And there, resplendent though an affront to his honour as a servant of Chaos, a suit of armour able to enhance his movement and make him incredibly nimble, emblazoned with wide-spread eagles and symbols of ‘I’ with strikes at their sides. It was dark black and the helmet was elongated, stretching far beyond the back of his head. He wasn’t sure yet as to why it was so long. Maybe it would all become clear, he thought.
He was being marched down a long processional street, lined with modified Storm Troopers and penitent psykers, which cringed and recoiled at his presence. Atop a stage at the end of the street stood Uhlos, his fur cloak draped around his shoulders and badges of high honour, given to him by the High Lords of Terra, shone in midnight gloom. Alongside him stood his acolytes, one carrying a single, large-barrelled piece, one end riddled with sensor-plugs, the other a large hole. It was empty, he could see that from here, and its exact purpose was lost to him. As he approached the stage, and began climbing its steps, Uhlos smiled a grand, yet pitiful smile, as if he would never see Suroh again. Heh, think again, he thought. He stepped up before Uhlos, and prepared to receive his speech of honour. Instead, one of the acolytes moved forward and attached the weapon to his head-piece. Whilst plugging it in, the acolyte began to silently weep. Suroh wondered why. The weapon began to glow, and as the final plug was installed, a beam of stringent lightning leapt out and hit the acolyte square in the chest. Flying back, Uhlos calmly stepped out of the way of his acolyte’s flight, and there was a loud thump as he hit the wall. According to the acolyte’s fried face, he had been long dead. Turning to look at Uhlos, Suroh finally realised what the weapon was. It was a fabled Animus-spectrum, a psyker killer. They were using his Pariah ability to weaken Psykers then deliver the killing blow, and he was the weapon.
It wasn’t a battle that Suroh was shipped to. It was cardinal slaughter on an unimaginable scale. All across the battlefield, daemons rampaged, the raw power of the warp left unchecked and unrestrained, organised massacre was the only thing here, and death could be the only victor. Killing grounds stretched for miles, fields filled with bodies of dead soldiers and streams of blood running into the horizon, a scene of an ever-changing sun, leering faces screaming death-calls out to the beleaguered defenders. At the centre of this planet-wide cull stood a Sorcerer, a servant of the Lord of Change, ethereal powers drifting around him, the Empyrean’s raw power his play thing. This was his target, this mortal who had sworn his soul to the fickle gods of Chaos. The death of such a faithful servant was regrettable, but necessary. It would all be in his service, and their souls shall be thanked at the End times.
‘Get ready Xerxes,’ Suroh chuckled under his breath at his master’s foolishness, ‘we’re going to drop you in close to the target, and you will have five minutes to kill the Sorcerer before we warp-bomb the location. Launch in three.’ Suroh stepped up to the teleport and activated the animus-spectrum. Humming with the focussed power of the Pariah Gene, Suroh stepped forward into the teleporter and into the mouth of hell itself.
The first thing that Suroh noticed was that it stank. Evaporated blood flooded the air and the contents of empty bowels filled his nostrils. The second thing he noticed was how wet the floor was with blood, and the scream of daemons filled his head and made his nauseous.
Oh, it was good to back in battle. Seeing the Sorcerer to his left, he trained his eyes on him and charged full-pelt towards his target. Daemons moved about him, yet as he approached a Greater Daemon, the screaming warp-spawn suddenly yelped and changed its form to an old man, though twisted and leering, his expressions exaggerated beyond mortal possibilities, a canine puncturing his lower lip and his nose twisted upwards. Though as Suroh approached, he transformed into a tiny version of his original warp-being, the Pariah gene cutting of his connection to his master. Suroh took great joy as he plunged hi sabre into the beast’s heart, banishing him back to the warp.
The way was now clear to the Sorcerer, and although Suroh was mere metres from him, but the Sorcerer was lost in his pleasure. For a moment Suroh wondered if the Sorcerer was of Chaos of Undivided, but when he cried, ‘For you my Lord! May you transform this world into one of beauty!’ Suroh was sure of his loyalties. Touching the ground, he launched himself into the air, and finally the Sorcerer took notice. But it was too late.
Rocketing through the air, the animus spectrum lashed out at the Sorcerer. He was thrown to the ground, lying on his back, and as Suroh fell upon him and lodged his sabre in the Sorcerer’s neck. As the lifeblood drained from his crippled form, Suroh felt it flood into him, helping him regain his powers. Now he could feel his heightened senses returning. As his hearing returned, a sharp ringing flooded his hearing, and he looked up into the skies, to see a bomb falling to his location.
His battle instincts returning in a flash, Suroh ran for cover, seeing an Inquisitorial Storm Trooper bunker to the north. Running for his newly returned life, he ducked inside the fire-slit, catching his leg on a mounted Heavy Stubber, the iron sights opening a deep gash in his leg and the blood pouring down his leg. The Storm Troopers holed up inside seared at him quizzically, and through his helmet's grill, he shouted 'Raise the Vision Slit Barrier!'
Pausing, obviously confused, the Storm Troopers let their guns hang at their sides as they looked at each other as if the man who had just jumped in through the vision slit was crazy. Roaring in anger, Suroh looked for the lever and, finding it on the other side of the bunker, he leapt across the room and pulled the lever to the 'Raised' sign. The bunker slowly sealed itself off, the barrier slow and lazy. Over the top of the Vision Slit Barrier, Suroh could see the bomb hitting the ground, just as it closed.
The sound was deafening, a loud ringing filled his ears and his vision blurred, the sound wave hitting the bunker hard. As his hearing cleared, the sounds of men screaming as their flesh was ripped from their bones drifted in through the tiny holes in the corners. Ash fell from the ceiling, covering the men inside from head to foot in dust. Caked in grime, Suroh got to his feet and looked around at the Storm Troopers. A few bled from wounds sustained during the fighting, and their haunted faces stared at him through sullen eyes.
Then they raised their lasguns level with his face. Unable to believe what was happening, Suroh went into a rage. Drawing his blade, he flew through the air, his sabre glinting in the light of the glow-lamps. Lopping the head off one soldier, he screamed a cry of hate and relieved another of his intestines, bringing his sword round in a backhand and removing another’s arm. Blood gathered in pools on the floor, as the laughter of a blood-thirsty demi-god filled the night.
The next records of Suroh's service have long been lost, but tales and rumours indicate that he ended his career abruptly – with the highest order of heresy.
The news of Suroh’s moment of madness never reached Uhlos’ ears, Suroh having killed all the Storm Troopers who witnessed the slaughter. When the Acolytes found Suroh lying amongst twenty dead companions, they believed that Chaos Cultists had stormed the bunker after the bomb had hit, their mutated forms too much for the Storm Troopers to handle, physically and mentally. But that matter was for the Departmento Scriptorium to handle, what scared the Inquisition was the sheer size that Xerxes - Suroh’s alternate identity - had grown to in one mere night. His sabre lay bloodied next to him, and his animus-spectrum whining as the acolytes approached.
Back in his quarters, Suroh contemplated the events of the previous battle. He had been battling deamons, and then, as soon as the deamons had left, Uhlos had warp-bombed the planet, hoping to kill any survivors – even those who fought for the Inquisition! Suroh could not believe the ruthlessness of the Inquisition. After that, his memory was blanked.
Suddenly the shadows of the room thickened, and mist drifted from the darkness. A voice rang out through the room, and Suroh recognised it instantly; it was the Star Child.
‘I guess you have many questions as to how you have regained your previous form?’
‘Yes!’ cried Suroh, nought but panic and confusion in his voice. The Star Child's reply was a throaty laugh, one of mocking and pity.
‘You were not killing deamons, so I had to take control of your body. After you dived into the bunker, twenty Storm Troopers trained their rifles on you, and when you almost surrendered, I took my chance and seized your body. Twisting your thoughts, I then sent you into a rage, during which you became invincible. The souls you slaughtered were sent to me in tribute, and in return I granted you the power your rightfully deserved; a full return to your Primarch status and another, bonus trait. Until the time when I decree, you will be able to change your form, allowing you to gain more kills in my name.’
The voice spoke as if it was no big matter, but to Suroh, it was torment. He was about to escape from the clutches of one master, only to have signed his soul over to another. Then, he saw this as a chance; he could break free from the restraints had been bound to for hundreds of years. Embracing his new master, he fell to his knees and prayed in the name of the Star Child.
Song in the Dark
The ship’s hull glowed and was set afire as it entered the atmosphere of Istvaan V, the thick ceramite plating absorbing any radiation and reflecting it back. On the highest point of the command bay, Forge-Master Vulkan Tu'shan stood, his eyes darting from one section of the planet to another. However, as the mist of the clouds receded, a great symbol blazed up from the scorched planet. For the past ten thousand years the fires had never burnt out, and the now the Eye of Horus stared up at them. At the centre stood a great podium, and to the east, not far from it though, was the great fortress, the place where records told of the first inter-legionary battles. Thousands of their brothers had died here and now Tu’shan was sure hundreds more would follow. Suddenly the vox’s erupted in a stream of static and hissing.
‘Subdue that signal, I want all vox ways clear for orders,’ barked Tu’shan.
The fleet operator looked baffled. ‘We can’t my lord,’ replied hesitantly, his eyes darting from Tu’shan to the screen.
Unsure of what to make of the static, Tu’shan ordered a quick scan of the planet, to confirm no life signals, despite Tu’shan’s keen eyesight and judgement. Long before the scanners confirmed there was no life on the planet however; Tu’shan was already issuing orders for the marines to get to their pods and the Terminators to get to the teleporters.
The drop was quick and uneventful. Even as the pods hammered into the ground and disgorged enough Astartes to take a whole planet, they met no resistance. Quickly establishing a cordon, the Marines secured a landing ground in which the Terminators landed. Now however, the alert was lost and the Marines were more relaxed, though they didn’t drop their guard for one moment. Tu’shan Landed, flanked by his retinue and accompanied by a loud buzzing, which soon died away. They were close to the fortress now, and the static that had plagued them since their arrival was building. The Marines had all removed their helmets, the sound so unbearably loud that even their specialised hearing couldn’t block it out. Such was the volume that even the removed helmets were emitting a loud static which forced the marines to raise their voices when conversing.
Barking some snap orders, Tu’shan directed some squads to the edge of the fortress, to make a sweep of the exterior to ensure all auto-defence turrets were offline. When a messenger came back, confirming complete weapons shut down, Tu’shan ordered an armoured advance into the fortress. He was taking no chances.
The inside was musky and stank of blood and decaying flesh, the very air clinging to the robes of Tu’shan’s retinue with a stale thickness which further proved the fact that the inside of the fortress had not been touched with fresh air for millennia. A positive thing that had come out of the fortress was that the static had dissipated and instead the airways had been filled with the sound of a beautifully ancient song, one that was completely alien and yet familiar to each Salamander in their own. It was similar to those old songs of Nocturne, ones that had stuck with the soldiers all their lives. As they drew closer to the centre of the fortress complex, the song became louder, and each verse was a new and exciting one, each filling each Salamander with many emotions. Finally Tu'shan rounded a corner and came to the central room.
The place was alight with beautiful fire, its flames glowing a nice deep red and each flame expelling a section of the beautiful song. But at the centre of the room stood the greatest and most beautiful thing the Salamanders had ever seen.
The figure was one of unaccountable beauty, a bright light radiating from its skin, and a long cloak made from dragon scales draped over his broad shoulders. The figures mouth was open and from it came the fabled Song of Entropy. Its arms were outstretched, as if it were awaiting the retinue’s presence. Upon seeing the assembly before him, the figure closed his mouth and lowered his arms, the song dying away reluctantly. The retinue dropped to their knees, awe and majesty taking over them. Tu’shan, however, stood where he was, he mouth wide open and his weapons limp at his side. The figure smiled.
‘I was wondering when you’d come,’ said Vulkan softly.
As Tu'shan and his retinue stood looking at Vulkan, resplendant before them, a loud thudding came from behind the demi-god, and another figure came from the blinding light. Where Vulkan was a tall man, sleek and yet bristling with muscle, this figure was a hulking brute, in armour that only added to the immense shape of this man. When he spoke, his voice was gruff and gravelly, like sandpaper scraping against a brick wall.
'I knew it. I knew yours would come first,' he said at a slightly raised volume. He threw his hands into the air and marched into the space between Vulkan and Tu'shan. Vulkan rolled his eyes, obviously bored already with this giant. 'Didn't I tell you?! My lot are lazy and slack. Well, now that I'm here, there are going to be some changes.'
'Yes, yes, we both knew that you knew my Legion would come first. We've been hearing the same whittle for ten millennia!' retorted Vulkan, breaking the numbing awesomeness that he cast about the room.
'I was just saying-'
'Oh, you always just say!'
'Um...my Lord?' said Tu'shan, or at least he attempted to. What came out was more of a whispered mumble. He cleared his throat, and then tried again. 'My Lord.'
Vulkan looked at the Forge Master, and then smiled at his young brother. He walked around the brute, who looked after Vulkan with an annoyed expression on his ugly face. Vulkan placed his hands on the small Marine’s shoulders. ‘Yes, my brother?’ he asked.
‘With great respect my Lord, how did you come to be here? Records from the Chapter Librarium states that you left for the Eye of Terror, across the other side of the Galaxy?’ he enquired, then he blushed as the brute before him laughed.
‘Do you not find it strange how Ferrus Manus has returned from the unforgiving grasp of death?’ said a voice from the shadows, then two bright eyes shone out from the darkness. The shadows seemed to warp as yet another figure came walking from the darkness. He wore dark armour, which almost warped the light to an extent where he was invisible. Every time Tu’shan tried to focus on him, his eyes refused the figure’s existence. His vision wandered off to the right or blurred and he had to rub his eyes. Even his heightened senses could not accept the possibility of this man. ‘How is that my brother Vulkan and I have come to be here after being spotted entering the Eye of Terror? I shall tell you why – we have been brought back thanks to the psychic will of the Emperor. The End Times approach and the universe shall be thrown into eternal war – we will have a chance to prevent this, but should we fail we will have no other chance to change it. No more chances. Nevermore.’
All the while Corax was speaking; Ferrus Manus was tapping his Living Hands, almost hypnotically.
Then, as a cold silence descended on the room, a trio of Raven Guard plummeted through the roof, and a moment later a group of Iron Hands burst through the wall to the left.
‘I knew it!’ roared Ferrus Manus.
Far away on the ice cold death world of Fenris, a feast was being held in memory of the Old Wolf and the induction of the most successful Great Wolf ever to grace the Space Wolves ranks – Ragnar Blackmane. The entire of the Fangs store of ale and meat had been drained in the name of this great and yet sad occasion. Songs rang out from the Great Hall, mementos of the Old Wolf’s great deeds and celebrations of Blackmane’s rise to the title of Great Wolf. Despite the Astartes great immune system, the Wolves staggered out of the Hall drunk, their stomachs bulging from the beatings they took during the feast. Some Blood Claws threw punches at each other, punches which erupted into brotherly brawls, and Long Fangs reminisced about the old times when they were mere pups. Wolf Guard gathered together and bowed their heads in the name of the Old Wolf, but the most momentous moment was when the Old Wolf’s company’s stone was removed, and taken to the Hall of Heroes, where it joined countless hundreds of stones, all laid out around Russ’ personal stone. Then the Wolf Lords raised the Blackmane’s stone and placed it at the head of the circle. The Wolf Lords bowed their head in respect, and a silence descended upon them. But before this silence could finish, a Chapter serf came running at full pace into the Great Hall.
Catching his breath, he gasped as what he had seen began to take shape in his words. ‘Outside...a giant wolf...double headed...Morkai...’ he gasped, and the Lords looked quickly from the serf of each other. They rushed outside, and their nightmares became a reality.
Beyond the gates of the Fang, the wind howled around the wolves, the Iron Wolf’s breath pulling at their beards and cloaks. The snow was whipped up around them and their hair was specked with spots of white. But these things were ignored as blood flowed hotly through the assembled Lords’ veins at the sight of the twin headed black wolf, howling into the night. Then it tensed its muscles, it’s great legs rippling with tension, then in one, thunderous motion, Morkai leapt into the sky, it’s form defying vision, growing the further away it went from the planet’s surface. The Lords stared up at the monster, their mouths open and their weapons at rest.
‘And at the time of Ending the great wolf Morkai shall rise into the sky...’ said Ragnar Blackmane as he looked up at the vast living shadow. Then the shadow grew, slowly and relentlessly, until the entire of Fenris was plunged into eternal night. ‘And he shall swallow the sun and plunge the world into blackness.’
‘The gates of death!’ cried Erik Morkai, before breaking off and sprinting back into the Fang.
The Lords flew down the steps, the great winter of Fenris plunging to even lower temperatures as the pale sun was ousted. The further down the steps they went, the colder it got, until their breath almost froze in the air before them. With every step they felt cold dread clutch their hearts, until it was an unforgiving grasp, and they came to the last step. There, in a great chamber stretching out for miles around them, were the Black Gates of Death, ones that Morkai had stood vigil over for over one hundred centuries. Now those gates were opening, souls escaping in moans and low grumbles as their souls were let loose. All the while the gates were opening, allowing more and more souls to ravage the living world. A low rumbling had filled the chamber, and strong wind, stronger than the one on the surface even, had whipped up. Now that rumbling reached a deafening climax, further added to by the moaning of a thousand dead souls. Now however, the gates had stopped, opened to their full extent, and the souls that had been spilling from the gates had been spent, and now where rising like warm vapours to the surface. But the Wolf Lords cared not for these damned souls, only the great figure striding slowly from the darkness towards them. He was a giant amongst the Astartes, and a god amongst men. The Original Great Wolf, now a mere legend, reborn to walk amongst mortals once more. As one the Lords dropped to their knees, their heads lowered and their weapons dropped to the floor. The figure smiled, and spread his hands wide. His smile faded, and a look of inconsolable sadness. ‘And so I return, the laws of Life and Death lifted. I have returned. For the Final Battle. For the Wolftime. But beware, the laws of death have not been lifted for me specifically. I fear we shall see the Arch-Traitor soon.’
Angels and Deamons
It had been two months since the awakening of Jonson, and the Dark Angels were already on a crusade of epic proportions.
Kulic remembered the day when Jonson had returned to the ranks of the living. The rock was close to the northern section of the Imperium and the Angels were en route to combat a traitor chapter, the Accursed Apostles, when the Rock had stopped in its advance. The Chapter’s Techmarines gathered to try to solve the problem, but they could not fathom the setback. As they were considering abandoning the campaign and making a small base on a nearby Imperial World until the Rock had began moving again, when the entire conglomeration of Watchers in the Dark approached Grand Master Belial. A strange promotion, as it was nearly unheard of for Masters of the Deathwing to become the Grand Master. Kulic, being in his command squad at the time, saw the conversation with clarity and unfolding wonder.
Belial was conversing with his command squad when Kulic spotted the advance of the Watchers. They came from the darkness, the shadows clinging to them, as though unwilling to yield to the light of the holo-orbs. The cloaks that they wore became a strange cream colour, a colour that radiated attraction with a hidden malice that lurked beneath. He tapped his Lord on the shoulder and he turned, regarding the Watchers with wary eyes. They had approached Belial once before, near three weeks ago, just before his Lord had sanctioned the campaign. It was obvious they had advised him to begin the campaign, but what exactly passed between them was a mystery. Now they had come again, no doubt with battle in mind. As they spoke, Kulic became suddenly woozy and his head began to throb with a faint ache.
You have done as we wished. Now we shall do as you have wished, for millennia. The voice seemed to come from all around him, as though it was the soft wind that caressed their bear faces and whipped the cloaks around their armoured hulks, or the whisper of the hololith feedback that lingered at the edge of their hearing range, taunting them with its obscurity.
“What do you speak of? I have not been alive for a millennium. I see not how I could have wished for something before , birth?” asked Belial, a wary and suspicious tone to his voice.
We refer not to your personal wishes, fool, but those of your Chapter, and your Legion before it. One of the Watchers approached Belial and held out his hands. The Lion helm, please.
The gathered cadre of warriors gasped a little, the idea of allowing an unidentified life form to touch the Lion Helm was unheard of, never mind foolish. But Belial removed his helmet and handed it to the Watcher. The Watcher bowed, then the entire assembled Watchers vanished.
Then the Rock rumbled.
I began like a throaty growl, a soft rumble from deep in the earth. Then rocks began o shake and shift position, vibrating wildly. A crack appeared beneath Kulic’s feet, and he sidestepped death. He chuckled at the thought, fighting for decades in the Emperors service, and then dying from a fissure in the ground. Then another crack appeared a few feet away, then another, then another. All the while, the groan of the earth was building into a rising crescendo. Then everything stopped, and an eerie silence descended on the assembled Astartes. Then a pair of gauntleted hands took hold of the edge of one of the ledges and hauled a mighty figure over the precipice. The Astartes just stared in awe at the figure of Jonson pulling himself up and dusting himself off.
Then he looked back at the staring Astartes and his face cracked in a wide smile.
‘Brother,’ he said, his voice deep and commanding, and yet filled with great sorrow. The entire cadre of marines dropped to their knees in respect. Jonson raised his eyebrows at the kneeling marines. ‘Men, you have fought for longer than I have probably served the Emperor; I’m sure that most of you are above the age of 250?’ The assembled warriors nodded; Kulic couldn’t think of any warrior in the Deathwing that had not served for more than two hundred years. ‘You needn’t bow to me.’
‘But, Lord, you are the Primarch, the Great Lion, Lord of Angels!’ cried Belial defiantly, head still bowed.
‘I said, get up!’ snapped Jonson, a flash of anger appearing, then flitting away in but a second.
The soldiers rose to their feet, looking around at each other in uncertainty and concerned looks on their faces. When Kulic turned to see the Primarch, Jonson was smiling again. He regarded each of the Deathwing in turn, his eyes sparkling with the love that only a father could show his sons. When he came to Belial his smile faltered and his eyes dimmed but for a nanosecond, and as Kulic looked at each others, he could tell he had been the only one to see the tiny falter. But still, it troubled him.
Kulic looked out over the sea of stars, and regarded each star in turn. He had a troubled look on his face, and anyone who looked at him could have seen with certainty he was thinking deeply, though none could have guessed what was on his mind.
He had been the only one to see Jonson’s... well, he didn’t know what it was. Loathing? No. Concern? Maybe. Belial had always been a secretive person, at least that was what it seemed like to Kulic. Maybe that secrecy was a sign of evil in his heart.
He heard soft footsteps behind him, and before he knew it, Jonson was standing beside him. Although he had been around the Primarch for a month now, he was as close to scared as he could get when around him; he had never seen the Primarch in battle, and frankly, he was terrified of what he could do, especially after all of the legends he had been told during his time in the Chapter.
No, not Chapter, he corrected himself. The Chapter was dead, and now the Legion had reformed. It had not been hard, most of the successor Chapters of the Dark Angels had always kept close ties with it’s progenitor. Most of the Loyalist Primarchs had returned by this time, a full month after Jonson had returned and, like the Dark Angels, they had reformed their Legion. As to be expected, the Ultramarines had the largest of the Legions, with near 300 Chapters formed from their gene-seed. The Space Wolves, on the other hand, had never had any successors, and so had not changed at all. They had not stopped in their defences or attacks, like the others, but they had, obviously, ended all plans for Great Hunts. The only Legions who hadn’t had their Primarchs return were the Blood Angels and the White Scars.
Kulic suddenly became aware that Jonson was looking at him intently, and his throat clammed up as he sought for something to say to his Primarch.
‘Stars are nice, tonight,’ was all he could manage, and he swore at himself for producing such a meagre statement for such a mighty being. Jonson roared with mirth, and Kulic felt himself turn red. Was this how the Heroes of the Crusade had felt?
‘Brother, already I like you,’ commented Jonson after he had recovered himself, wiping away some tears from his lower eyelids. Kulic felt a boom of pride swell in his chest at being called ‘brother’ by one so mighty. ‘And that is why I need you.’
Kulic turned to the Primarch, the pride in him growing with every word. ‘Me, m’Lord?’
‘Yes. I hear you are a master of Planetary Assaults. And that is just what I need.’
Kulic considered this. He had never been regarded as a ‘master’ of anything, except maybe his squad, and at one point, the company he used to lead. ‘May I ask as to who has coined this term, m’Lord?’ he was shocked at the formality of his voice, and Jonson chuckled.
‘You may, Master Kulic,’ he replied, obviously humouring him, ‘but can we dispense with the formalities?’
‘Yes,’ sighed Kulic. ‘Sir, can I just say? I always thought that Primarchs were very strict, and, well, had rods up their asses.’ Jonson roared with laughter at Kulic’s latest comment and stood bent double for nearly a minute.
‘You make me laugh, young one,’ said Jonson. ‘But, back to your original question, it was Master Belial that told me that you have never failed in a Planetary attack, and have never retreated in defence. So, now I ask you, will you perform a deed that will be written in the history books, and be revered so greatly that even the Emperor will know of it?’
Kulic’s answer was obvious. ‘I shall.’
And now he was at the behest of a great invasion. He stood before a full five hundred marines, assembled for him and him alone to lead into the mouth of hell, and win. Each one had newly stick pieces of parchment stuck to their breastplates, inscribed with an Oath of Moment on it, a new notion presented by the Primarch. Apparently, it had been the custom tradition for the Legions to perform during the Crusade, and now that the Primarch had returned, it became a current tradition. Out of the sea of glossy green ceramite, the front rack, a full hundred bone-white Deathwing force had been committed to the drop. The power armoured marines were arranged into their squads and were waiting for his sanction to clamber into their Drop Pods and thunder to the planet below.
Kulic turned back to the viewing screen and stared at the planet below. He could make out, between the purple and black clouds, a single continent, covered in miles of trenches and dugouts. Fields of razor wire and forests of tactical redoubts and watchtowers covered the ashen wastes. He turned back to the assembled marines and thrust his sword into the air. ‘For Caliban! For the Primarch! For the Emperor!’ he screamed, and the assembled company followed suit, roaring cries of ‘In Jonson’s name!’ and ‘In the name of Lion!’ and they moved out to their Drop Pods. The Terminators remained in place, immovable giants awaiting Kulic’s signal to activate their teleporters.
In his command deck, Jonson looked out over the stars, and tears came to his eyes. Not for the first time, he wondered how it had come to this again. He turned back to the captains assembled before the hololith and managed a sorrowful smile. ‘Let’s get on with it,’ he said, and walked out of the door onto the embarkation deck. The vast space had been cleared for him to address the Legion that had been left on the ship. ‘Brothers!’ he cried, his voice carrying easily across the vast space, raising his hands. ‘Today is a sad day. The Regent of Macragge wishes us to make war on the Imperium. I know that this decision has enraged you, and many of you shall never come to terms with it, but I tell you, it is for the best. It has become corrupted and ruined, and the Imperium I once fought for died lone ago. Astartes have always kept out Imperial bureaucratic affairs, as will it always be.
‘But this has led to the Imperium becoming a dark place. It no longer makes war because it must, but because it wishes so. It sends crusades when the manpower should be sent to reinforcing beleaguered worlds. It withdraws men when it should be sending more in. And, most disgusting of all, it takes the Astartes for granted. They throw us into situations in which we cannot triumph. They waste precious gene-seed.
‘But, I say no more! It is time for us to purge the Imperium, and bring back the golden days of the Great Crusade!’ A chorus of cheers and agreements followed his speech.
Jonson surveyed the assembled Dark Angels, all ten thousand of them. Each one ready to fight for him. Each one ready to die for him. They looked at him with steely respect, but all he could muster was a look of sadness and remorse. How had it come to this, he wondered. Brother vs brother again, after ten thousand years of Astartes brotherhood. But, deep down, he knew that it had to come to this. There was no other way. Guilliman, in the Emperor's place, had decreed so. Even Dorn and the immovable Ferrus Manus had agreed with the Ultramarines Primarch. There was too much corruption, too many selfish, careless beurocrats.
He knew it must be.
Terra must burn.
The Great Khan
The webway is a part of reality that is incredibly hard to penetrate. It takes a long time to gather any kind of means to enter it, and even if you can, it is so vast and full of winding pathways and hidden sections that it is impossibly hard to map and catalogue. It is a pathway that connects all Craft Worlds and, in the darkest reaches of it’s improbable existence, Camorragh, the home of the Dark Eldar, a living shrine to Slaanesh and the centre of all Dark Eldar activities in the real universe.
In the dark void, after ten millennia, something happened. The emptiness warped and twisted, light spilling in for a second and then dissipating in an instant. A tall figure, covered in ornate, if not mind-bending, ceramite armour. The armour was in turn covered in robes, a creamy colour then seemed to glow. The ceramite was a sky-blue, small ancient runes etched in to the armour. Golden trim, inlaid with intricate styling’s and prayers to the God of Mutation, lined the whole of the armour, in some instances, daring to stray inward into the sea of blue ceramite, in the shape of arrows or points. In the blackness of the webway, stood Ahriman.
He looked around him, his helmet creaking as it turned. Seeing himself unaccompanied, he chuckled. He had thrown of the trailer and was now free to work his magik. He bowed his head, chanting softly and turning his hands about him with a smooth but menacing movement. A soft light lit up between his hands, growing slowly but lighting up the area around him with ease. Suddenly, with a great sucking noise, and a contortion of the growing light, like a tiny black hole, Ahriman disappeared into himself, his whole self caving in.
The sensation was horrifying, his mind aching within a split second, he passed through the teleport device’s mind-bending warp-jump, and landed somewhere in the dark depths of Camorragh. He shook his head, throwing off the cloying sensation of the jump and clearing his twisted mind. He approached the edge of the small dwelling which he was in, and saw the vast expanses of the dark port stretched out before him.
Ships of all sizes came and went, their hulls decorated with prayers and symbols of Slaanesh. Hundreds of Dark Eldar and their captives and servants milled around the docked ships, and crude versions of service servitors repaired undocked ships and prepared them for their docking. Warp beasts ran amok in collection and summoning pits, their masters watching over them, ensuring none strayed too far from the pack.
Ahriman turned round and inspected the dwelling he was in; it was empty, but at the back there was a golden light that haloed a strange doorway. It had strange drawings on it and even stranger script, from which he could pick out some words which he knew; Imperium, darkness and, strangely, Horus. The Arch-Traitor?
A sudden realisation dawned on Ahriman; could this be what he has searched for his whole life? Could this be... he dared not wish it, in case it were not true, and his hopes were dashed like many times before, and he live in sorrow for many more years, his every will spent in his search. He approached slowly, taking careful, tentative steps in case the doorway was to disappear should he tread too heavily. Finally he came to the black steps that led up to it, and the sheer size of it took his breath away; it was massive, towering over him like he towered the idiot mortals who would stand against him. He pushed the doors open, and his mind was taken from him...
He awoke a while later, his head burning and his body aching. He was lay on the floor, the cold black marble dented in places where he had fallen. He stood up, and realised that he had entered the Black Library, for his head was full of knowledge that was never there before; he knew how to kill the Chaos Gods, knowledge that his patron God would not just kill for, but slaughter for. He saw how to destroy the Imperium, and how to bring about the true death of the Corpse God. He laughed, at first it cold and calculating, but it soon escalating into a mad cackle of hatred and joy. He activated the warp-jumper, but this time he was not hurt, for he knew how to control pain. This knowledge flooded through his body, and the only thing to cross his mind was elation.
The sensation was strange this time, his guts churning and his whole body deforming, reforming and then deforming again. Finally it settled on one form, and he was glad to find that it was his original one.
He pondered over the knowledge he had unlocked, how it had nearly drove him insane, and whether he should speak it, preach it to the masses.
In the end, he decided not to. He realised that, if he was driven to near insanity, then lesser minds - and that meant damn near everyone else - would be driven beyond insanity; so far so, that they wouldn't even be useful as cannon fodder.
Then, just as he realised this, the knowledge now in his mind connected with other scraps of information, and kept on, and on, and on, unrestrained knowledge filling his mind and coursing through him.
As he stood there, his own mind frying itself, a dark figure looked on. Streams of mist surrounded him and kept him hidden from view, with dark crimson eyes blazing out from the living shadow. Then a roar of power came from beneath him, and the figure leapt forward, out of the mist and darkness, and revealed himself.
Powering through the darkness, Jaghatai Khan raised his ancient blade, power thrumming though it, setting it ablaze with light blue electricity. He arced it backwards, then brought it round as he flew through the void.
The sleek metal passed unhindered through Ahrimans neck, not even the strengthened bone of the traitor Astartes slowing it. Whether Ahriman felt pain in his final seconds is unknown, but the Khan carried on through the darkness, never slowing, always moving, until he came to a speck of light. He grinned at the fact that his universe still existed; at least, for now.
As he exploded into the realm of the living, a speck of light appeared in the Black Library, hidden away, deep in Camorragh; but that is another part of the story.
Blood in the sand
Kilox raised his head, his arms still spread wide and the back of his neck burnt by the desert sun. He gazed around, a look of triumph on his twisted face. The many sorcerers still had their heads bowed, chanting softly under their breath. The mystical lyrics made the atmosphere tense and hostile; behind his little conglomeration, a full company of Renegade Guard stood ready, just in case their little operation came under attack. Their faces glistened with sweat, and coughs and sneezes could be heard from the mass of heretics. However, this large assembly was dwarfed by the giant presence that stood around the Sorcerer’s Circle; three full squads of Thousand Sons stood at ease, their armour shining with mystical light, the pure essence of the warp emitting off of them like heat; amidst these giants, there were men like them, but in different armour colour and with different symbols on their left shoulder guard; the stark contrast between the glistening blue and scratched gold of the Thousand Sons and the deep crimson of the Word Bearers made the eyes hurt; the warp seemed to radiate from them as though they were like the Deamons they served.
Kilox looked around, a broad smile on his face, and sweats running slowly down it. However, when he saw the sorcerers stop chanting, his smile faded quickly as he realised that the bond had been broken and, even if he was still alive, Ahriman was stuck in the webway and could never return. He threw his head back, and screamed, at first the sound deep and rumbling, then turning note and rising an octave, becoming a shrill cry of hate and regret. Everything, everything had been a run up to this point; T’zeentch himself awaited the return of his herald, and the knowledge of all things. But this would never happen now. The sacrifice too much, thought Kilox , as he looked upon the slaughtered Renegades over in the distance, piled high with blood flowing like a river around the mountain.
Every one of the assembled figures’ heads snapped up at his scream, and the mortals trembled in fear.
After many minutes, Kilox lowered his head and ended his scream. As he stared at the ground, wondering what to do next, the earth groaned.
Taken aback, he looked around, wondering what had happened. Hoping that it was a void-gate opening for Ahriman, his face lit up. But as rocks around him shook and sand began to cascade down the dunes, he knew it couldn’t be.
‘Earthquake!’ yelled one of the humans. Kilox shook his head slowly, knowing full well what it was. His fears were confirmed when he looked to the horizon, and saw a dark line spread along it, followed by a great dust cloud that rose high in the air.
‘Orks...’ breathed Kilox.
How wrong he was.
In the ranks of oncoming warriors, the man at the front raised his Katana, and roared at the top of his longs, ‘FOR THE KHAN!’
In response to his cry, the entire of the White Scars Chapter arrayed behind him yelled in perfect unison, ‘Forward, for the Emperor and the Great Khan!’ They were nearing the hastily assembled enemy lines now, and las-bolts zipped past them. The odd thud of a bolt shell impacting on their bikes could be heard amidst the din of the engines.
A split second before the tide thundered into the traitors, a single order was heard above all other noises.
The sound was deafening, leaving many of the Space Marines ears’ ringing as the assembled Astartes unloaded their bolter magazines into the heretics; the first several ranks of the Guardsmen exploded as each and every bolt found it’s mark, detonating inside the target and showering their comrades with blood and entrails. They attempted to wipe the gore from their uniforms, but were given no time as the tide of White Scars crashed into them.
As one, 700 bike bound Astartes crashed into the ranks of Guardsmen. Men screamed as they were dragged under the roaring constructs and were churned up and destroyed by the whirring wheels. Bones crunched and split as they were crushed beneath the weight of the White Scars. Great cries filled the air, and amidst the smog and dust kicked up the roaring bikes, the sons of the Great Khan slaughtered the assembled traitors.
Several hours after the slaughter had finished, the leader of the bikers had dismounted and was now striding between the bodies of the traitors, rolling them about with his unsheathed Katana and were cutting them open to ensure they were truly dead.
‘Jubal!’, came a shout to his left. The Chapter Master of the White Scars turned to see the owner, and smiled as he saw it belonged to Clan Brother Jogaten, a long time friend. He smiled, stretching the long scar that ran down the left side of his face.
‘I am grateful for your assistance in this attack, brother,’ said Jubal.
‘It was nothing, the Chapter was called and every other biker in the Chapter rushed to aid the attack. However, I do have one concern,’
‘Voice it brother, and it shall be heard.’
‘Well... I do not really understand the importance of this planet. It is detached and desolate, far from any civilised world, and yet, such a large force,’ he said, indicating the resting brothers behind him with a gesture.
Jubal eyed him carefully, and when he spoke, he did so cautiously; ‘This information is privy only to the higher ranks of the Chapter, but you are a good friend, so I shall indulge you; the Stormseers heard a whisper in the warp, a rumour of a bike mounted figure that had appeared in the webway.’
‘The Primarch?’ whispered Jogaten.
Jubal nodded in confirmation. ‘At least, that was the theory. And the warp disturbance was in this exact location. It seems they were right, I can think of no other reason for this assembly of sorcerers other than to lure him into a trap.’
‘So... has he already been here?’ asked Jogaten, his feature lighting up as the thought entered his mind. Almost all other Chapters had had their Primarch return to them.
‘From the looks of things, no.’ Jogaten’s face fell.
As the two warriors stood in silence, the air was suddenly split with the roar of thunder and the crackle of warp energy. The sand was kicked up and collecting pools of blood rose into the air as a hole in reality appeared before them. Inside, it was nothing but darkness. Then, out of the hole, came a lone figure on a bike larger and more extravagant than that of any in the Imperium. The roar of thunder was now evidently the scream of the figures engines, and as Jaghatai soared through the air, the entirety of the White Scars ran to the warp hole in awe and wonder, great happiness filling them as they looked upon their Primarch for the first time.
Jaghatai wooped as he felt the kiss of the air for the first time in ten thousand years on his tanned skin.
He landed in the sand, the dirt kicked up by his engine and his wheels.
He came to a stop before his sons, and looked at them with a winning smile.
‘I return! For the end of all things!’
The smiles vanished from the Astartes as the words hit home.
The Angel Game
Cypher stepped out from the shadows, the dark crevices of the battlefield unwilling to release him. He smiled from below his hood, surveying the battle below between the Fallen Angels and the Imperial Guardsmen.
Not a battle, Cypher corrected himself, a slaughter, he thought with a sadistic smile.
Blood ran in rivers, the sand below a deep crimson as the tide of Chaos Warriors swept through the Imperial defences, overrunning gun lines and storming bastions. He chuckled as he watched a marine crush a guardsman’s head with his bare fist. He suddenly caught a glimpse of a flash of green in the gathering clouds. He replayed the image in his mind, and froze the image of the flash, and zoomed in on it.
He looked at the image with horror as he saw a dark green ceramite ship with the symbol of a winged sword emblazoned upon it.
‘It’s a trap!’ he screamed as he was clubbed around the back of the head.
The marine awoke, his mind cloudy and filled with disturbing images and memories. He looked around, shaking, the cold of the room pressing down on him. In the distance he heard the dripping of a tap. He raised his hand to feel his head, but stopped short when he heard the sound of chains. His head snapped down, his superhuman senses penetrating the dark. The chinking of the chains hit his ears hard, making the ringing effect in them seem to magnify a hundred fold. He screemed, after ten thousand years of freedom, he was chained and restrained. It was not right, it was not something he was used to.
He suddenly became aware of the blood on his chest and the throbbing pain in his head. He groaned, the pain filling him and setting his body afire.
His bare feet froze on the stone floor, small puddles of water collecting around his feet.
He suddenly became aware of a pict screen on the ground before him. Bending down to pick it up, it suddenly sprang to life. On the screen was an ominous servitor, it's head made to resemble an alarmingly horrifying child's doll in the shape of a skull. It was looking off to the left, but as the marine brought the screen closer, the head turned to look at him. Its mouth piece moved along with a voice that clearly not its own. The voice was dry and raspy, and put a fear in him that chilled him to the bone.
'Hello Cypher. I want to play a game...'
Cypher released a faint whimper from his lips. The skull had dark crimson eyes and swirls of a similar colour on its cheeks. The doll was a horrific visage, and it seemed to look deep into his soul.
‘You have no respect for life, spending it as easily as you would Bolter shells. You have spent many lives in your quest, and none of the lives worthless. From a lowly Imperial Guardsman to the highest Grey Knight, you care not for your actions as they affect you as little as possible.
‘But tonight, we shall see how you deal with the opposite end of the barrel, so to speak.’ A bright light lit up, and the room was bathed in illumination. Three figures stood before him, their feet bolted to the floor and chains attached to their spines. Their faces were tortured, a haunted look on their face. ‘These men are survivors of your remorseless attacks. They have seen you murder their comrades and have watched as you butcher helpless victims.
‘After tonight, you will now how it feels to beg and grovel to someone who has your life in their hands.’ Cypher’s eyes widened in fear. ‘Down to your knees, Cypher. Beg for your life. Live or die.
And with that, the pict screen clicked off, and Cypher turned to look at the men before him. Each had a Plasma Gun in their hands, each of which were bound to the gun. Cypher fell to his knees, opening his mouth to ask for pity. But his mouth was too dry, and so he licked his lips to bring the words tumbling out.
‘Please, please take pity.’ The words stung him. He had never asked for pity, nor had said please in an unmocking way. ‘I beg you, take mercy.’
‘You took no pity on us, so why should I take pity on you?’ asked one calmly. Cypher turned to look at him, and saw him as a Commissar. Oh, that’s hardly fair, thought Cypher. The man aimed down the sights of his weapon, and pulled the trigger. The plasma core fizzled and popped, and the end spluttered.
This is it, thought Cypher. I’m going to die to scum.
Then the core burst to flames, and the Commissar was lit up with fire as the flames spread along his arm, burning the clothes from his form and taking the hair from his head. He screamed as the bright blue flames ran along his form and turned him to ash in an instant.
The other two cried out in horror, fear and terror creasing their features. They looked at Cypher, hatred filling their eyes. They took aim down their sights, and with sweat on their upper lips, they strained the trigger. Cypher gulped, and looked about the room, seeing a mirror in the upper right corner. Realisation hit his face, and he turned back to the Humans.
‘No you fools,’ he hissed. ‘It’s a trap!’
Woah, déjà vu, thought Cypher.
But the humans were arrogant and stupid. They pulled down hard on the triggers, and they shared the fate of their Commissar, turning to glittering ash in seconds. Some sparks flew from their burning forms, and caught the chains around Cyphers wrists. They melted in an instant, releasing the marine from his bonds. The door at the other end of the room opened, and a beam of light fell across the floor. Cypher stumbled forward, coming into the next room and looking about him.
He saw three men bound to poles, two pikes at the sides of their necks, tips millimetres from flesh. Cypher gulped, and saw the pict screen at his feet come to life. Again, there was the doll from hell, staring at him mockingly.
‘Congratulations. You are still alive.
‘You have always distrusted those around you, Cypher, but now that mistrust is about to be tested. There is a door beyond each captured man, and you must trust one of them that the door they guard is the door to safety. Decision is one thing, but indecision is another all together. If you have not left this room in five minutes, then the bombs in the corner will go off.’ Cyphers head snapped to the closest corner, and saw a jar of nails nested there. A timer was on it, set to 5:00. ‘Mistrust leaves you at a loose end, but trust can bring you ruin. Make the right choice, Cypher, or it shall be you with nails sticking out of you.’
A click, and the screen was dead again. Immediately, the room was full of noise, the ticking of a clock and the screaming of three men. Cypher held his head in his hands, and covered his ears with his hands, trying to drown out the din. He walked towards the door behind the middle one, and touched the handle. He suddenly felt that something far more sinister than a ‘live or die’ decision was here, and he recoiled from the door. He walked quickly to the next door and glanced at the clock.
T’zeentch alive! thought Cypher. Had it all gone so quickly. His hearts started beating faster, and his breath caught in his throat. He took his hand closer to the handle and stopped short. Making probably a decision he would later regret, he ran over to the third door, the one he hadn’t tried yet. He breathed deeply, and opened the door and walked into a dark room.
He heard a click behind him, and the man who had ‘guarded’ this door fell down into the floor, which then sealed over him as though he had never been there. Cypher quickly shut the door, glancing a final look at the clock.
As the door sealed shut, he heard an almighty boom, and felt around for a light switch. He felt one, and flicked it, igniting the glow globed around the edge of the room. There before him was an Astartes, resplendent in his armour, watching him with contempt. When he spoke, his voice was dry and raspy.
‘Well done, Cypher. You have won the game. But not without cost, nor experience. You now know the value of life, and trust. You should now value the Emperor as you would value your own life. Do you?’
Cypher considered. There had been no mention of the Emperor in the recent events, and he had no idea if he did or not. He decided to give an answer. After consideration, he believed it was the most honest one.
‘Then you are free of the daemons that have plagued you,’ The marine pressed a button on his armour and in an instant they were in a different place. The walls were golden, and candles littered the floor.
‘Where are we?’ asked Cypher.
‘Terra,’ answered Constantin Valdor.
The Lord of Angels
Corbulo walked the dusty steps, his footfalls silent as they hit the layer of dust that coated the ancient marble steps. Along the walls of the flight of stairs hung dozens of battle honours and banners, dating from the most recent campaign all the way back to the dark times of the Horus Heresy.
As he thought of that time, anger welled up within him. Despite the fact that he hadn't been present, nor alive for that matter, during those dark times, the pain of Sanguinius and the genetic memory of his titanic clash with Horus reverberated through his bones.
Corbulo sighed, his head bowed. The Dark Times had come once more, he thought with a shudder. Two hundred marines, lost to the Black Rage in one instant. The psychic shockwaves had put poor brother Mephiston into an unbreakable coma, and now, at this most inopportune time, new recruits had come to the palace of Angels to prove their place in one of the Imperium’s mightiest of Chapters.
He came to the top of the stairs, pausing for a moment at the banner of Sanguinius, the blood red cloth lined with gold still marked and blemished with the blood of traitors and daemons to this day. He brushed his fingers along its side, feeling all the sorrow and sadness disappear for one instant. He closed his eyes, breathing in deeply through his nose, taking in all the subtle smells that the Chamber had about it.
He pushed open the golden doors and entered the Chamber of the Angel. In a glass case laid Sanguinius at the centre of the Chamber, his once tanned face now pale with age and time. This preservation case was the only way to keep him and his bones from falling prey to the winds of age, and them falling from his beautiful body.
He fell to his knees before the case, covered his face with his hands, and wept. Now, more than ever, the Primarch was needed. He wept and wept, his sobs coming in ragged streams, tears falling through the cracks between his hands, soaking the floor and forming in a pool around his knees.
‘Oh, blessed Angel! Tell me what to do, for I fear that the burdens that are required of me are too much for me!’ cried Corbulo, his sobs relenting for a moment before coming once again. He heard a faint scratching, but thought nothing of it. When he looked once more at the case, it was devoid of it’s occupant.
Thoughts raced through Corbulo’s mind, flashing images of possibilities. Had a Daemon come, put him under a spell and carried the Primarchs’ broken form away? He dismissed the thought before it had begun. The Chamber was consecrated against the warp’s tainting touch.
‘Then what has happened?’ asked Corbulo aloud.
‘Ask me yourself,’ came a soft voice from behind him. The voice was soft like silk, and ran like water from a stream. He turned to see the speaker, knowing through genetic memory full well who it was.
There stood the Lord of Angels, resplendent once more in his beautifully tanned skin, his relic armour and his marble white wings, spread wide behind him. Where it could possibly be a warp taint, instead of it turning it sour like all things that the warp grants, it had become a sight that pleased the eye and caressed the mind. How such a beautiful sight could exist, Corbulo could not think.
The tears came once more, streaming down his face and dripping from his chin. But, far from the tears of sorrow that he had shed a moment before, these were tears of happiness and pleasure, the Primarch returned once more.
‘The Angel hath come again!’ roared Corbulo, banging his armoured fist against his breast plate. Sanguinius smiled, a halo of golden light surrounding him.
Corbulo bowed his head, breaking his sight from the beautiful figure before him, and regretting it instantly. Sanguinius chuckled, then reached forward and put his finger under his son’s chin, raising it and beaming at Corbulo from high above him. A single tear ran Sanguinius’ eye, and once again Corbulo wept, but like before, not sadness, with a great happiness that filled him and overwhelmed him.
Then a great explosion came from the outer walls of the fortress. Corbulo’s face fell and he looked at Sanguinius helplessly.
As they raced to the outer walls, the explosions came more frequently and far louder, until it became apparent that a full company of artillery was bearing down on the fortress.
Not for the first time, Corbulo wondered how this immense artillery battery had landed and set up without the sensors even being aware of it. He raced past a meditation room, and saw his squad clambering out of the practise cages, donning their axes and pistols in a race to be the first to the action. Most of them had barely got their whole armour on when they saw Corbulo and joined with him in the charge. In the first instances of the action, with their minds preoccupied, they forgot about the majestic figure that ran with them. Then, they stopped, and gaped in awe at the resplendent figure before them, before gathering themselves and bowing low before him. A look of frustration crossed Sanguinius’ beautiful face, the lines and furrows creasing it.
‘Brothers, I am honoured by your respect, but unless you haven’t noticed, there is a siege going on,’ spoke the Angel calmly. There was a hint of frustration in his voice that he couldn’t mask, and the marines heard it also, asking forgiveness and, when the Angel gave it, climbing to their feet and racing forward to join Corbulo in the charge to the outer walls.
The scene that lay before them shocked them to the core. Beyond the walls of the Fortress of Angels, a tide of filth stretched as far as the eye could see. Tainted machines roared their guns without conscious help, and mutated shells impacted on the walls of the fort. Daemons surged forward, throwing themselves at the walls as if they could break down the wall. Corrupted armoured personnel carriers roared around the battlefield, their guns never tiring, and twisted Astartes warriors roaring their praises to their patron God, which was evidently Khorne due to the massive Khornate sign painted in the spilt blood of the inhabitants of Baal. The sight raised Corbulo’s choler, and it clearly had the same affect on Sanguinius too, as his chest and shoulder were rising and falling in rapid succession, and the angry side of the Primarch was shining through. The genetic memory of the battle with Horus stirred within him, and threatened to rise to the fore. It was then that Corbulo had an idea.
‘My Lord,’ said Corbulo, the Primarch turning to listen to him. ‘Before you returned, two full companies of our brothers were lost to the Black Rage, a terrible moment in our history, but now it seems to be a blessing in disguise; all of the brothers were armed with Jump Packs and – ‘
‘-we could sally out to meet our foe,’ finished Sanguinius. We spread his wings in agreement and smiled. ‘Fetch these unfortunate men,’ he said, ‘and arm them with the finest assault weapons you can find.’
Corbulo ran down the hallways, gathering any additional scouts and initiates, as it had come to the last resort; conscription of initiates. Men who had barely begun the long and arduous training to even prove themselves worthy of the geneseed were now being pushed into service. They ran with him, and after just two minutes of running, 15 scouts, 60 initiates and 10 full Astartes flanked him as they ran to the holding cells of the Death Company.
Corbulo turned the corner as he came to a door marked ‘Iron Cells’ with the inscription, ‘Those who enter rarely leave’. How irrelevant that is in this moment, thought Corbulo. The doors slid open, the darkness that lingered beyond them all-enveloping. A soft scuffling was heard, and Corbulo entered warily. The doors slid closed behind him before he had taken three steps into the room, and the scuffling had louder. He could have sworn it was closer, too.
Then he was pressed to the ground, a knife at his throat and a hot breathing blowing like the desert winds of Baal into his face. The stench of blood was strong, and Corbulo’s nose wrinkled.
‘Who are you?!’ demanded the invisible assailant.
‘I am Corbulo of the Blood Angels, a soldier in your Chapter, and your brother, now let me up!’ he spat, confronting raw anger with steely faith.
The threatening knife retracted slowly, and a thin trickle of blood ran down his neck. Once again, the invisible man spoke.
‘What is it that you want? And how dare you imprison me like this! I am Sanguinius!’ rang out the voice. Corbulo sighed as other voices rang out from the darkness, claiming that they, also, were Sanguinius. A terrible side effect of the Black Rage; the victims thought themselves to be the Primarch.
‘Your homeworld comes under attack!’ cried Corbulo wearily, appealing to their belief that they were the beloved Primarch. Roars came out of the darkness and Corbulo’s ears bled as they were assaulted by scores of gruff, guttural voices. Probably a side effect of being out of touch with their sane brethren for so long, they forgot how to speak properly. ‘Honour and duty calls! Who will answer?’
A chorus of yes’ came out of the blackness and Corbulo smiled.
Sanguinius watched as yet more Daemons hurled themselves at the walls. His face was a stoic mask, for he knew that if Corbulo’s plans were to fail, then Baal would fall after ten thousand years of Imperial Rule, and be drenched in the baleful tide of the daemonic, a blemish on the galaxy. He spread his wings wide, a shadow falling over the Daemons as the sun of Baal shone brightly behind him. They looked up and saw the Angel, and they stopped for the moment. Some traitorous human soldiers threw down their weapons and fled. Larger Daemons snarled commands, and the tide of vermin turned upon their erstwhile allies and butchered them. Sanguinius watched in silence as human body parts flew across the milling Daemons. Then he heard a roar of engines behind him, and the stench of burning petroleum fluid tickled his nostrils. He turned to see the source of the smell and sound to see two hundred Astartes armed with Power Axes and Bolt Pistols that hummed with power and clicked as rounds slotted into place. They launched into the air and flew clean over the walls, roars of hatred and vengeance filling the purple skies.
The sight made Sanguinius’ chest swell with pride, the sight of his brothers giving their lives in the name of the continued existence of Baal and the Chapter. He took to the skies with them and sang praises to the Emperor as they Angels of Death crashed into the faltering foe.
Axes crunched bone beneath them and banished Daemons, leaving ethereal wisps of light in their places like the smoke from a fire. Pistols barked and heads exploded and chests split as two hundred rounds hit the foe. As the traitors rallied themselves, the Death Company charged forwards, reacting faster than the warp could handle. Blood flowed in their wake, and fleeing humans were run down in the slaughter. Sanguinius saw a marine leap forward and slap a melta bomb into a vision slit of a tank, while another threw a krak grenade into the midst of a huddled group of humans.
He rose up over the carnage and saw a Bloodthirster do the same. Sanguinius looked on in shock; this was no normal Bloodthirster, this was the one who had broken his legs and slaughtered near five hundred of his brothers on Signus Prime; the same one who he had banished during the Siege of Terra; Ka’Bandha, Lord of All Bloodthirsters. Sanguinius growled with anger, and surged forward to meet his foe.
In a crude copy of the Siege of Terra, the two clashed in a titanic duel, Sanguinius dealing a blow to the Arch Daemon that would have knocked the head from a mortal, but only giving the Daemon a severe headache. Similarly, Ka’Bandha drove his clove hoof into Sanguinius’ midriff, knocking the breath out of the Primarch. The two fought for hours, as the cleansing tide of the Death Company forced back further and further the tide of filth. Ka’Bandha seemed to be failing in combat, and Sanguinius pushed ever harder. He dealt a blow to the Daemon and severed the Bloodthirster’s right arm. As he did so, the whip that he carried in his left hand hurtled through the air and lashed Sanguinius across the cheek. Crimson blood flowed freely down the now pale skin of the Primarch. In a moment of absolute anger, Sanguinius threw himself at the Daemon, putting all of his weight behind himself and throwing Ka’Bandha to the floor. He landed on the Daemon’s broken form, and plunged his stiff right hand into the Daemon’s neck, severing his head and ending the pitiful thing’s existence. He drew his hand back, and Ka’Bandha chuckled. Sanguinius snarled and leant in close to whisper into the thing’s ear.
‘You are filth, and you are ended.’
‘Fool,’ came the surprisingly soft reply. ‘I have beaten you in more ways than you could possibly imagine.’ Then his head fell back Sanguinius passed his hand through the remaining strands of the Daemon’s neck, then held the trophy high, before throwing it to the ground in disgust.
He sighed, looking on as the remaining hundred marines mopped up the few remaining heretics.
He looked at the purple sky, realising that there were more of his enemy far above him, but not the daemonic; these were cold hard traitors, and with fire and steel he would cleanse them.
Baal would never be the same again.
The Red Angel and the Great Wolf
The edges of real space crackled, and with a flash of light, and the warping of reality, a vessel emerged from the Warp, tendrils of thought spilling out into real space, clinging to the hull of the vessel, reluctant to be severed from the tainted red ceramite. But ultimately, the wisps of conscience faded and drifted. It floated out to join others like it. They spanned a vast section of the black expanse between stars, their warped engines blinking in the darkness, glowing a bright purple. Their defiled hulls had symbols of the Blood God emblazoned upon them, and long pieces of parchment fluttered on the sides, long forgotten battle honours and oaths of moment. Now they were painted over, prayers to the patron god of Blood on them, the words seeming to shift about, rising and falling.
Twisted faces leered on the sides, making the hulls seem bigger than they really were. Truly an essence of their warp-home still lingered with them, tainting real space and spreading its corrupting reaches.
On the deck of the vessel shone words that glowed with light born of the warp. They spelt out, in cryptic runes, Godsplitter. On the deck stood a great hulking form, his flesh the colour of blood, long black coils extending from the back of his cranium to the great, bat-like wings that hung limp at his sides. The stretched membrane between the long pieces of bone fluttered, their black colour mixing with the insides of the command deck. Drool fell from his forever open mouth, landing on the floor of the deck, sizzling on contact, and burning a small hole into the permacrete in seconds. A long black blade, glowing with the runes of the Blood King hung in his left hand, the edges emanating the same eerie light of the rune lettering on the ship’s hull. In his other hand, a long, slowly whirring chain-axe was slung. The teeth turned slowly around in their casing, blood still fresh on them, some gore still occasionally dripping to the floor. It seemed to purr, casually awaiting the blood that it knew it would soon be whetted with, for it knew with unwavering faith that that moment would come soon. The beasts face twitched constantly, the long scars on it twisting as the skin was continually stretched.
A large marine came up to him, the symbol of two jaws clamped around a small orb emblazoned on the right shoulder pad. ‘We are ready for dissent, my Lord,’ he said, an impatient edge to his tone.
Angron turned to the waiting marine. He spoke, his voice gruff, like the turning of wheels on a gravelled surface. ‘Then what are you waiting for?!’ he roared, before lunging to his left, knocking a serf to the floor, his head severed.
A human peered over the Aegis defence line, watching the ethereal lightning strike the earth, transforming it and turning it sour. He licked his lips, and then turned to regard his leader. He stood towering above the platoon men, his muscles bulging and his chest rising calmly, his upturned nostrils flaring as he breathed in. His hands twitched at his sides, and his eyes darted from side to side, the eyelids fluttering, threatening to close over his ever active eyes.
He growled as he saw the first Daemon appear on the battlefield. The hundreds of Guardsmen stood to attention, simultaneously relieving their bowels of their contents. Hundreds of lasguns clicked to ‘on’, and not long after hundreds of magazines were slammed into place. Gritted determination roughed up the features of each soldier, and as more and more Daemons appeared on the plains. The soldier turned round to peer at the leader, only to find that he wasn’t there. Crap, he thought.
From the embarkation deck of the vessel, Angron stood, flanked by his one dozen Bloodthirsters all summoned prior to the attack, to ensure reliability when the attack began. He roared, the deck shaking, throwing his head back, the black coils of neuro-sensors dangling down loosely. The Bloodthirsters took up the roar as well, their wings snapping out to the side, the black membrane hanging loosely between the thin bones, like their leader.
Then as one, they leapt into the air, and hurtled out of the embarkation deck.
They rocketed through the atmosphere, fire catching around the ends of their wings. A flash of metal flew past him, and he instantly recognised it as a Dreadclaw, carrying one dozen Berserkers of his legion, all ready for battle, all chanting loud praises to the god of blood so loud they could be heard over even the roar of the thrusters. Angron laughed, a deranged, mad sound, and sped up so that he flew down, next to the Dreadclaw. He banged on huge fist on the side, before pulling up just before he impacted on the ground. Dozens more Dreadclaws thundered down into the earth, scorched rock flying high into the air, and ancient, damned pistons whining as the hatches to the Claw were released. Angron and his bodyguard flew across the ground, skimming the hard earth at lightning speed, homing in on the defence lines of the Imperial Guard. He growled, pure menace in his eyes and evil in his heart. Just as the growl howled into a roar, a large missile impacted his side, exploding and sending him careening off to the left. The Bloodthirsters, confused by the sudden explosion, stopped, and searched for their master. In the wake of their confusion, they were set upon by beasts of tooth and claw; chunks of their flesh ripped out by thrashing hands and clawed fingers. Howls filled the night, a bright moon shining brightly over the battlefield, watching over the scores of onrushing feral soldiers.
The Wulfen had come.
Angron landed upon the ground after flying for what seemed like a minute, skidding along until he came to firm rock which halted his immense bulk. He stood up, growling, anger filling him and all sense of reason leaving him. He saw that he was on the outskirts of the city, and stormed in.
Angron left an orgy of violence wherever he walked, slaughtered citizens and destroyed buildings they only thing left in his wake. He could hear soldiers converging on his position, so he took to the skies and flew across the city, regrettably leaving behind his playground. Once he saw the enemy, he bore down upon them like a predator, aiming straight for the command vehicle at the centre of a long column of armoured transports.
He hit it like a krak missile, a great explosion tearing up the vehicle as he hit and ignited the fuel tank. The embarked soldiers went flying, their broken forms dead before they hit the ground. He roared out, lashing out at troops disembarking from what looked like a standard pattern Chimera, killing several beneath his great fist. The survivors of his gruesome and merciless attack ran into the surrounding buildings, quickly setting up defences and heavy weapons.
Angron's chest rose and fell like ship caught in a tempest's rage. Blood dripped monotonously from his blade, collecting at his feet. He twiddled his naked toes, making soft splashing sounds. He bent down, cupping his one free hand and licking the blood. He purred softly as it ran down his throat, leaving a rich coppery taste in his mouth. He opened his milk white eyes, and turned his gaze at the annoying little humans shooting at him from the cover of a trench. A heavy stubber was mounted on the sand bags, and the hard shells were ripping small, if not irritating holes in his wings. He growled, and then let out a roar that shook the ground beneath his feet. As one the humans stopped their fire. Then they threw down their guns, turned tail, and sprinted back towards a large bastion that the rest of their platoon was held up in. Angron laughed, a deep throaty sound, then leapt forward, taking great strides across the ground, raised his black blade high, before bringing it down, smashing it into the ground. Seven humans were killed, and the rest were knocked off of their feet, landing with their backs to the sky. One raised his head, and looked Angron square in the eye. It raised a hand, as if reaching out to touch the Daemon Primarch. Angron was puzzled at this man's courage. He must have some stones, he thought.
'Why?' whimpered the man, before his head slumped backwards and his last gasp of breath wormed its way out of his cold lips. The man's last word gave Angron some pause for thought, a strange notion for a Daemon Primarch. Then he shrugged, and ran headlong at the bastion, crashing through the walls, roaring at the top of his lungs, before the mines below his feet exploded.
The Daemon Primarch groaned as he picked his way out of the heap of slag and collapsed building, his wings torn and his flesh punctured in many places. He looked up, expecting see the blackened sun bearing down on him mercilessly, but what he did see made him pause.
There stood Leman Russ, his sword pointed at the Daemon Primarchs throat. Angron stared at him for a long second, before laughing. It started softly, then rose to a crescendo of him roaring, doubling over in mirth.
Leman pressed the blade closer to his throat, and Angron just laughed more. In the end, he regained himself and managed to speak.
‘Mines and traps?’ he asked dubiously. ‘They’re not what you normally do, are they, Leman?’ he said to his estranged brother, as a teacher might talk to a student.
‘Then stand, and when can battle like real warriors,’ said Russ calmly.
At this, Angron raised himself up and activated Gorefather, the teeth roaring in anticipation, knowing that blood would very soon whet it. Then Angron threw himself at the Great Wolf, bringing his axe down in a sweeping arc. Leman dodged the blow easily, before following through and swinging his blade for the Daemon’s ribcage. Just as it neared the red flesh, a black blade swung round and met the oncoming Mjalnir, sparks flying between the two blades. Leman looked at the blade, confused.
Angron chuckled, ‘This is a gift, from my God,’ he said, swagger laying heavily in his voice. ‘Do you like it?’ he remarked, tauntingly.
Leman only growled, before breaking the blade-lock, and raising his blade high, aiming to bring it down on the head of his heretic brother. Gorefather came up to meet Mjalnir, the teeth groaning as they bit through the hard metal of the blade. Sparks flew, even more than when it met the Daemon blade. Angron heaved, using his all of his strength to force the blade away from him. As he did this, Leman brought his pistol round, before snapping off a shot from point blank into the face of Angron.
The Daemon leapt back, howling miserably, clutching his left hand to his face, his black blade lying, discarded, to the right. Leman growled furiously, and then brought Mjalnir back as far as possible, gathering all his strength for one final blow at Angron.
In blind fury, Angron roared, and swung madly with his chainaxe.
As Leman was bringing his blade round to severe Angron’s head, Gorefather slashed across his chest, cutting through the Black Carapace like paper and going so deep it racked several ribs and punctured his left heart, opening the cavity and letting the blood flow. He gasped, but his swing had gained too much momentum for it to stop. It wedged itself in Angron’s shoulder.
Both Primarchs fell backwards, their wounds too grievous for them.
When Leman awoke, Jorin Bloodhowl was standing over him, surrounded by other Wulfen. Medics of the Imperial Guard garrison were crowded round him, ready to step in and tend to him. He sat up quickly, looking around for his treacherous brother. But all he could see was Mjalnir lying on the ground, blood on its sharp edge. Russ rose, and then gasped as his chest erupted with pain. He looked down, seeing a long scar that ran the width of his chest. His ribs were still cracked, and his heart had only managed to form a thin layer over the puncture, leaving it tender and painful. He walked slowly, teeth gritted and face creased, over to Mjalnir.
The Wulfen watched in awe as Leman came to his sword, lifted it high above his head, and roared, at the top of his voice, ‘CADIA STANDS FOREVER!’
Edited by Skirax, 23 March 2010 - 03:44 PM.