“Is it prepared?” asked the Warsmith, without turning from the viewscreen. It displayed an image of the planet below, Kollia Prime, as it burned with the fires of war.
“It is as you designed, Lord” replied Agemo.
“Were the skulls enough?”
“Enough to mark out ten unholy runes, Lord. Truly your warriors have been busy.”
“With the skulls of those Loyalist dogs at the centre?”
“Of course, Lord. They make an excellent centrepiece”
“And the blood?”
“Enough to paint the skulls twenty times over, Lord”
The Warsmith paused, and Agemo became nervous. Had he forgotten some part of the ritual?
“And the Governor?”
“Ready to be sacrificed as we speak, Lord”
Agemo relaxed, and muttered another prayer of thanks to Tzeentch. The Warsmith focused the viewscreen on the burning capital spire, and zoomed in. Even from orbit, a vast, blasphemous rune was clearly visible at the highest point of the spire.
A great rune to Khorne, but not one of praise.
“Let his greatest champion come,” spat the Warsmith “and with the defeat of a daemon, Perturabo cannot refuse making me Lord of this sector.”
* * * * *Matras Del’Frain was a man in mortal terror.
The world … his world … had been overrun in a matter of days. Cultists had begun an insurrection that threatened the peace and prosperity of Kollia Prime. Though his planetary enforcers had initiated a series of measures that appeared to be dealing with the troublemakers, Del’Frain, as governor, had dutifully ordered communication of the issue with the Imperium via the astropathic relay. When vessels of the Adeptus Astartes had appeared in-system two days later, Del’Frain had followed protocols. Though it appeared that a nearby strike force of Space Marines had merely responded to the astropathic communication, it was only prudent to put the Planetary Defense Force on a higher state of alert. Governor Del’Frain refused to squander resources or threaten those that might successfully deal with the insurrectionists, however, and over the strenuous objections of the High Commander of the PDF he restrained more stringent preparations.
That mistake had cost Matras Del’Frain and the world of Kollia Prime everything.
The vessel in orbit had once fought for the Imperium, but the Astartes that manned it had long ago turned to the Dark Powers.
As a precise orbital bombardment knocked out the planetary defense guns, a wave of drop ships descended from the corrupted battle barge to the surface of Kollia Prime. A combination of the drop pods used by loyalist Astartes and the ancient Dreadclaws used by the Legions during the Great Crusade, the wave of drop ships carried death incarnate – traitor Space Marines.
The Planetary Defense Force had only minutes to put up a hasty defense and the High Commander died as he cursed the governor’s bad judgment over the comms.
Once the PDF had been destroyed, the conquest of the world had been a foregone conclusion. Matras Del’Frain, Governor of the Imperial world of Kollia Prime, had been seized by the servants of Chaos as he lay whimpering in the Grand Chamber, his loyal bodyguard being slaughtered before his eyes.
* * * * *“Join me, Sorcerer,” commanded the Warsmith as he and his chosen warriors departed the command deck of the battle barge. The dark mechanicus techpriests had completed their repairs upon the Warsmith’s armour and that of his surviving bodyguard and the Warsmith was in haste to complete the ritual that would summon a daemon to the world. Agemo wondered if the Iron Warrior truly considered the consequences of his actions – the daemonic servants of the Blood Good were not to be trifled with in combat, yet that is exactly what the Warsmith sought to do. The Sorcerer attempted to use his psychic vision to peer ahead into the future to see if there was a path that would lead to his liberation, but the Warp was in turmoil and he could not get a clear picture.
“Now!” barked the Warsmith as he detected the sorcerer’s slowness to obey.
Agemo’s attention snapped back to the real world and he moved to follow the son of Perturabo. His survival was paramount, so it wouldn’t do to displease the megalomaniacal Iron Warrior at this juncture.
* * * * *Matras Del’Frain’s bowels released as he was shackled to the surface of the Memorial of Valor. He was too terrified to be embarrassed, though he mentally collected himself. What had once been the planet’s grandest memorial to the achievements of those that had sacrificed everything for the planet and the Imperium had been profaned, blasphemous runes painted in blood upon the surface of the marble memorial, the masterful sculptures of the memorial having been toppled and the headless corpses of the PDF and Enforcer officers having been impaled upon enormous bronze spikes arranged around the central fountain..
On the journey to the Memorial Del’Frain had observed the arrangement of skulls that lined the walkways up the spire. The notion that those skulls had once belonged to the populace of his world was lost on the man. The skulls glowed with an eerie light that brightened and dimmed in concert with chanting of the governor’s captors. The memorial had been situated atop one of the grand spires of Kollia Prime, the open roof over 300 levels above the surface of the planet and visible from space. Del’Frain imagined that the spectacle upon the roof could be seen by those aboard the vessel that he knew was in orbit.
The constant chanting of his captors was punctuated with irregular screams and gibbering, the torchlight reflecting on the wet blood that coated each of the skulls. Governor Del’Frain had developed an intense migraine upon the journey to the Memorial, though he had not been allowed to slow his steps as the rough captors pushed him bodily.
Now, as he lay shackled upon the cold slab of smooth stone, he spied the enormous mound of skulls that reached skyward. He could not tell how the tower of skulls did not topple over, but these skulls, too, were coated in blood and glowed wickedly.
The robed cultists arrayed in a circle around him, Governor Del’Frain lay chained in his own filth, whimpering. There was a strange sound from nearby and Del’Frain smelled the sharp ozone odor that accompanied teleport activity. Then he heard a deep voice that clawed at the edge of his sanity.
“Prepare the sacrifice,” commanded the Warsmith.