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Choir of the Ancients


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#1
Ferrata

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Hello, this short story is for the Legends of the Liber project we have going on over in Liber (where else?). I am not 100% happy with this story, but it was written for Nine_Breaker's Angels of Perdition. Unfortunately, Nine_Breaker was called up so I needed to complete the story as quick as possible. A couple of hours later I had completed the story. I have unable to gain Nine_Breaker's approval for this story to be linked with his chapter, or his disapproval come to that. So when he returns, and if he doesn't like the story, I vow to write a happier one for him. But for now, please enjoy - Ferrata

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"I was there boy, I was there..."

The young brother trembled as the booming voice of the veteran echoed through the vacant labyrinth. All around him ancient heroes lay in slumber, awaiting the call to war by those now tasked with leading the Chapter. The damage of the previous battle had been painstakingly repaired, the words of mercy to the machine god aiding as each battered armoured plate was removed and hammered back to perfection. As the gentle scents of the ritual of deactivation still hung heavy in the air, all that remained was for an acolyte of the forge to stand guard as the ancient entered his stasis cycle.

"I was there boy, I was there when the ground shook and all the foulness of Chaos broke through."

The guard did not sway from his duty, the strict code of conduct he had vowed to follow was the only way to ensure the ritual to successfully complete. The words of his master still rung inside his helmet; "Do not speak to them for your words may destroy their dreams". Even though every fibre of his being urged him to turn to face the dreadnought, he refused to be the reason why this valiant warrior of the Chapter was lost to the Imperium.

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The Angels of Perdition
"Listen to me boy! I was there when we rained down upon the unsuspecting traitors; fifty brave warriors of the Angels, a mighty show of power if ever there was one. Clad in armour that had seen battle over countless centuries, armed with the holy bolter and righteous fury in our hearts, we feared nothing and expected to be feared ourselves. As our drop-pods screamed down towards the ground below, we joked about how idiotic these people, nay for they were no longer human, how imprudent these creatures were to turn from the light of the Emperor. To willingly remove themselves from His bosom, only the insane would spoil such a glorious gift. We believed only death and destruction awaited these barbaric pawns of the Ruinous Powers, that through purity and faith we would stop at nothing to remove this blemish from the face of humanity. How wrong we were. ”

Although he refused to forget his duty, the young guard was hanging on every word of this ancient hero of the Chapter. He had heard rumours of this story, this legend of pain that still tore at the hearts of many of the elders within the chapter. Though officially known as the Battle of Jackle-Irsi, it had gained many names over the decades , such as the Tainting of Heroes Hill or, more damningly, the Breaking of the Foolish Column. It was a myth whispered in secluded sections of ships, a saga that had become so removed from the truth that to hear the words of a witness was a seduction beyond the machine-god’s acolyte willpower to resist. For all of the Chapter’s efforts to instil barriers against temptation, his basic desire to know the truth was too strong.

“On nothing more than a mound of earth that rose barely a titan-high, we stood side-by-side. Surrounded by the baying masses that used to tithe to the Imperium, their sanity broken and enslaved them to animalistic desires; lust, wrath and greed. Although we were outnumbered thousands to one, an Angel of Perdition is worth a million of such beasts. As we slaughtered our way through three nights of constant battle, it seemed that there was no end to the horde. Our guns fell silent as our ammunition ran dry. Our blades began to dull as the sliced through bone and metal alike. Our gauntlets grew layers of blood and gore, and our weapons choked on the flesh of traitors. On the dawn of the fourth day, the last of the heathens drew their final breath.

All that remained was a single lone figure, a blind-woman wandering the plains of blood that surrounded the hill. No, what should have been plains of blood and a sea of bodies was nothing more than red tainted dirt. This crazed woman made a slow approach to our position, screaming and chanting about the destruction we had rendered on her people. Brother Locvik ran out to put an end to this poor excuse for a creature’s ramblings. Locvik was the first to die.”

Every muscle in his body ached to turn around and ask the hundreds of questions that now filled his head. Where had the blood gone? Who was the lone woman? Who had killed Locvik? What had happened to everyone? To turn around was to possibly damn a veteran to a tormented sleep of nightmares that he might never wake, but to not to would be a crime against the truth.

“I was there boy, I was there when the ground shook and all the foulness of Chaos broke through, but Brother Locvik was there when the ground exploded beneath him. The blind woman bellowed one last war cry, and as Locvik’s blade exited the now dead old hag the first few drops of blood fell to the earth. All around us, hands and swords began to appear from the ground, rising up, rising up. Swords longer than a Predator’s main gun, arms twice as thick as ours. Hands with sharp claws able to shred through our armour. Then came their faces, oh what vile, deformed faces these were. Eyes full of anger and resentment, noses flared to better smell the pungent blood that now bled from the ground. Grins filled with countless teeth, snapping at the air as they barked unnatural sounds.

Daemons my boy, daemons so terrifying that they still send a shiver through my bones. For all our murderous wrath, for all our power, we had merely been the tool to serve blood to the earth. The enemies had willingly flung themselves against our armoured circle to be slaughtered, slaughtered so they could now became vessels for creatures of the Empyrean. As more of their kin were given an unholy birth from the ground, they marched upon us. Whist they chanted hideous vows of blasphemy, our mind-shields held strong. Whilst they cursed the rising sun and the Emperor of Mankind, our mind-shields held. But when they sung like a choir of the damned, we finally broke.

First in ones, then in twos and threes, my brothers fell to the floor. The hymns of Chaos ringing in our eyes, some turned upon themselves or on their brothers, driven mad by the ever- wrong voices of the daemons. Others just snapped, becoming little more than shivering corpses littering the floor. I stood alone, the banner of our company wrapped flat around its pole like it could sense the destruction going on around it. Thrice I was forced to take my blade to the throat of what had once been a brother. The hellish music playing madness in their minds, realising the dogs of insanity that we had strived so long to guard against. I prayed for forgiveness each time. I prayed for deliverance from this damnation. I prayed to wake one more day in the arms of the Emperor. Thankfully boy, I was answered.”

His jaw now hung heavy within his helmet, his eyes wide with anticipation as the story rolled in his ears like a sweet nectar. Though delivered with the booming, cold voice of vox-caster, somehow a human echo was found within the flat stereo sound. Emotions managed to break through their mechanical entrapment, the pain of ending the life of one’s own brother tearing the guard's twin hearts in half. That the mind-shields could be overcome was an astonishing fact within itself, too many of his brothers lay lax on their mental protection as they held their faith in such devices. He would not fail to keep his mind stronger than expected, for someday he might have to face the choir.

“Explosions! Great, devastating explosions from the skies. The daemons had no answer for the solid metal and the bombardment from the most terrifying arsenal in the Astartes grip. The rushing expansion of gas was the last thing I felt against my bare skin boy, for when I awoke, I was clad in this monstrous behemoth you see before you.

So when you hear the mumblings of the Tainting of Heroes Hill, or the Breaking of the Foolish Column, tell them that you know someone who was there. Someone who fought the day the ground erupted.”

With those words, the old veteran went silent. Finally the heavy bulk of the dreadnought slumped, his power supplies routing their energy only to the most vital of processes. Deep inside the armoured sarcophagus, the remains of an ancient brother dropped slowly in his netting, his dreams returning him to battlefields that had long been destroyed. He smiled to himself as he raised his hand to remove his helmet. To breathe air once more, to feel the wind blow against his face. In his dreams he was more alive than when he woke, and he hoped that it would be a while before the Emperor would call him to battle one more time.

“Deactivation has been completed. Did he speak much junior? Did he spin you tales of valiant fights against foes long forgotten? Ha! This old fool has long lost his mind, even our skills cannot redeem or protect the insane from millennia of entombment. Did he tell you of the Battle of Jakcle-Irsi? Of how a traitor battle barge appeared in the sky and obliterated the continent into little more than islands? No! I bet he told you something a lot more interesting, a lot more heroic.”

“No sir, he was silent as he fell into his slumber.”

As the junior followed the senior techmarine away from the chamber, he turned for the first time to look at the ancient dreadnought that he had guarded. Whispering low beneath the hearing of his commander;

“Thank you old man, thank you.”

Edited by Ferrata, 18 January 2011 - 08:06 PM.


#2
Captain Juan Juarez

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I skim read - I am that damn good ;) - and it's very entertaining.

However, there a few typos - y'know those ones where you type so fast you miss a letter? Have a proof read to perfect it.
" They made you to be untouched by God or mortal. As I cannot kill you, so I curse you, not with death but with life.

I curse you - with the pain of ten thousand days in the Dark Place, with the life's blood of a mage's sacrifice, with Death's authority held in my hands.

I curse you, and I strike your name from history, stripped of arrogance and pride, empty of the self you once knew, gutted of all you are. I take your name and all you have won by the strength of your hand. I curse you for eternity, to find only darkness where once you knew your own face.

And I dub you the Ragged Man."

#3
Ace Debonair

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Good story, that. Very compulsive reading. :P

I did, however, spot a few typos*. Not too many, though.

"Listen to me boy! I was there when we rained down upon the unsuspecting traitors; fifty brave warriors of the Angels, a mighty show of power if ever there was on.


an Angel of Perdition is worth a million of such beats.


This crazed woman made a slow approach to our position, screaming and chanting about the destruction we had rendered on his people.


The enemies we had slaughtered now became vessels for creatures of the Emporium.

And that might be the best typo ever. :D


* Typos are the most insidious and widespread enemy of mankind, not Chaos. My crusade against them continues. :P

#4
Legio Draconis

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I really like it. :P
QUOTE (Doghouse @ May 25 2008, 11:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You've no idea how close I came to painting the toilet gold and calling it the "golden throne" but thought that might be going too far! :lol:

QUOTE (Rafen_2 @ Jul 1 2011, 03:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If I was put in a dreadnought, I would like to have full maneuverability not just waddle waddle shoot waddle punch.

#5
Ferrata

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Thanks for the swift feedback. I have rewrote a few sections, just rewording them on a second read through. I had caught most of them bar the Empyrean one for some reason...

#6
Pulse

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Hmm few little niggles - 50 marines isn't really considered to be a coloumn.

The hymns of Chaos ringing in our eyes


I didn't know you could hear ringing in your eyes. :)

Last of all is the disrespect shown by Senior Techmarine - even though the Ancient might spout the same story repeatedly there is no way a marine would be so disrespectful, considering the Dreadnaught in the story (or at least the marines inside) seems to be older than any marine currently serving in the Chapter.

That is shown in many peices of fluff or stories, that when a dreadnaught speaks - all listen and none mock him, even if he has gone back to "sleep". Should the Chapter Master have heard the Techmarine, he would probably be shot.

Edited by Pulse, 18 January 2011 - 09:37 PM.


#7
Captain Juan Juarez

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.... all listen and none mock him, even if he has gone back to "sleep".


This for someone elses DiY Chapter though, who is to say they venerate them in the same way?
" They made you to be untouched by God or mortal. As I cannot kill you, so I curse you, not with death but with life.

I curse you - with the pain of ten thousand days in the Dark Place, with the life's blood of a mage's sacrifice, with Death's authority held in my hands.

I curse you, and I strike your name from history, stripped of arrogance and pride, empty of the self you once knew, gutted of all you are. I take your name and all you have won by the strength of your hand. I curse you for eternity, to find only darkness where once you knew your own face.

And I dub you the Ragged Man."

#8
Pulse

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True, chapters are different - but why would a Techmarine - a senior one at that, start mocking a Dread? Pretty much goes against everything Astartes beleive by giving massive respect to their elders.

Enjoyable story though. :)

#9
Ferrata

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Hmm few little niggles - 50 marines isn't really considered to be a coloumn.

How many marines does it take to be called a coloumn? :)

How did I miss the eyes typo? Damn fast thinking and typing.

As for mocking the dreadnought, whilst I cannot speak for Nine_Breaker and the chapter's attitude towards Dreadnoughts, I like to imagine there is more character to Space Marines then maybe there "really" is. Call it artistic license to have the Techmarine mock the Dread, or maybe he is really just a fool in Power Armour :) I like to think it adds a little to the story.

#10
Captain Juan Juarez

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True, chapters are different - but why would a Techmarine - a senior one at that, start mocking a Dread? Pretty much goes against everything Astartes beleive by giving massive respect to their elders.


Interesting statement.

So Chapters are different, but they all venerate their elders? See the contradiction?

My point is that the story is based off an Index Astartes article by Nine_Breaker - one I haven't read incidentally - which means that there could be a fairly substantial and well-explained reason for it. Also, I wouldn't call it mockery per se.
" They made you to be untouched by God or mortal. As I cannot kill you, so I curse you, not with death but with life.

I curse you - with the pain of ten thousand days in the Dark Place, with the life's blood of a mage's sacrifice, with Death's authority held in my hands.

I curse you, and I strike your name from history, stripped of arrogance and pride, empty of the self you once knew, gutted of all you are. I take your name and all you have won by the strength of your hand. I curse you for eternity, to find only darkness where once you knew your own face.

And I dub you the Ragged Man."

#11
Pulse

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@Captain Juan Juan - Look mate, i am giving feed back if your looking to start butting heads go and play with Gree and Legatus.

@Ferrata - Yeh i understand mate, i like to see character and personalities - but i think that much disrespect is a tad OTT. :)

Edited by Pulse, 18 January 2011 - 09:52 PM.


#12
Ferrata

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My point is that the story is based off an Index Astartes article by Nine_Breaker - one I haven't read incidentally - which means that there could be a fairly substantial and well-explained reason for it. Also, I wouldn't call it mockery per se.

There isn't :) You could argue that as the Angels value mental strength and purity at least equal to martial stength, they would down upon a possibly insane Dreadnought. Maybe they wish to unplug him, but can't due to his age.

Thanks for the comments :)

Edited by Ferrata, 18 January 2011 - 09:54 PM.


#13
Pulse

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No worries mate, i like to chip if even if it doesn't really come to much! :D

Going back to what you said though, if they did value mental strength surely they would pull the plug and free up "room" for another marine to be interred should the need arise. I know that would cause the chapter to lose a powerful war machine but still... :P

#14
Captain Juan Juarez

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@Captain Juan Juan - Look mate, i am giving feed back if your looking to start butting heads go and play with Gree and Legatus.


Butting heads?

No, I'm questioning your feedback because it doesn't make sense to me.

Apparently that's too difficult a concept to handle.
" They made you to be untouched by God or mortal. As I cannot kill you, so I curse you, not with death but with life.

I curse you - with the pain of ten thousand days in the Dark Place, with the life's blood of a mage's sacrifice, with Death's authority held in my hands.

I curse you, and I strike your name from history, stripped of arrogance and pride, empty of the self you once knew, gutted of all you are. I take your name and all you have won by the strength of your hand. I curse you for eternity, to find only darkness where once you knew your own face.

And I dub you the Ragged Man."

#15
Ferrata

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I think we could discuss the wider scheme of this story, but I would need to put on a smoking jacket and some slippers. :P There were two inspirations to this story, first was the line "I was there boy" and the second was the argument whether he is insane or right. The mocking techmarine was just a tool to this end.

[Mod Voice]

Now, now. Lets all play nice. We all don't have to understand one another, we just all need to hold hands and be happy :D

[/Mod Voice]

Edited by Ferrata, 18 January 2011 - 10:01 PM.


#16
Pulse

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[Mod Voice]

Now, now. Lets all play nice. We all don't have to understand one another, we just all need to hold hands and be happy :D

[/Mod Voice]

:P

Edited by Pulse, 18 January 2011 - 10:23 PM.


#17
Lone Scout

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Oh I am so there with smoking jacket and some slippers :nuke:
I loved this story not the least of which is the lack of respect of the senior tech and the reverance shown by the younger tech (echoes of real war stories, real war heroes in the real world perhaps?)
The story got me emotionally....don't you just want to kick the stuffing outta that senior tech?
Awesome job, you produced an excellent read.

As a side note I imagine that tech marines would respect their charges and that others would not. The nonsence that all marines are cleansed, focused killing machines is wrong. Marines have strong individual personalities, some good, some not so good. That was the whole premise behind the heresy in the first place. They are people, turned into marines, but the persons personality remains else they would be necrons.
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I'm fluffy so surely the emperor will reward me?

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