(Warning! Wall of Text, Straight Ahead! )
Amongst the battle brethren of the Chapter he was an anomaly. A captain without a company, a bearer without a sword, a knight without honour. Even the ill favoured Revenants were still deemed brothers by those who despised them, but there were none who would willingly claim kinship with him. Amongst a thousand warriors, he was truly alone.
The title and nature of his duties were understood only by the highest ranking members of the Inner Circle, yet his authority was almost absolute. Only the Chapter Master himself could countermand his orders. Even the Lords of the Reclusiam and Librarium gave fealty to him, for he endured responsibilities even graver and more demanding than their own. Yet his true rank was obsolete, an ancient term forgotten by most within the Imperium, and unspoken by those who could remember such things. His kind were a shadow on the pages of history, a dark spectre gratefully consigned to the nightmares of the past.
He could command armies to accomplish his aims, or even mobilise the entire Chapter to war if he deemed it necessary. However, it was exceedingly rare for him to exercise his prerogative. In fact he usually worked alone, and indeed, actually preferred it that way. The blood on his hands, the stain on his honour, the taint in his soul: these were his to endure, and endure alone. Such was the price that needed to be paid, he endured this penance so that his brothers would not.
Like them, he was a knight, a warrior, a killer. But alone amongst their ranks, he had another role. A task sanctioned at the highest level of his order yet officially denied. Secret, necessary but forever unforgivable.
He was a murderer.
The redoubt, or what was left of it, was built high upon the brooding black cliffs. An entire company of the Adomite Royal Guard had been stationed within a fortress carved into solid rock. Artillery had been dug into the cliff top: long range mortars, large calibre autocannons, missile batteries and anti-aircraft guns. Enough men and firepower to theoretically repel any attack, whether it came from the dark, turbulent waters of the Adomitean Sea or an airborne assault through the storm laden skies.
Theoretically, that may have been the case, but then the invaders had appeared, like ghosts in the darkness and the redoubt had burned. It's defenders had died, almost to a man. Their mutilated remains were strewn throughout the ruined fortress. The few survivors, those who had managed to escape the carnage, were huddled in a small group amongst the gore stained wreckage, struggling to keep warm as the freezing night wind howled across the cliff tops.
So fierce were the gales, and so deafening their volume, that the Guardsmen didn't hear the roaring engines until it was too late. As the jet black gunship flew directly overhead, a robed figure leapt from the open cargo ramp, dropping amongst the survivors on a pillar of fire. Scattering in panic, the Adomites raised their lasrifles, aiming them at the massive, power armoured warrior that had suddenly landed in their midst. Despite the horrors they had endured, no one fired. It was impressive discipline, the Space Marine thought to himself, considering the nature of the foe that had razed this fortress to the ground.
“Identify yourself.” One of the Guardsman stepped forward, an auto-pistol clenched in a shaking hand. The ragged remains of a great coat was worn over the soldier's battered carapace armour, the epaulettes on his shoulders marking his rank. The speaker's other arm ended abruptly at the elbow, the tattered, blood soaked cloth of his jacket fluttering in the wind. A chainsword wound, the newcomer assessed.
“At ease Lieutenant.” The Space Marine's voice was a deep, bass growl, somehow audible even over the howling gale. His war plate was a bright, shining steel, covered by wind swept black robes and the pelt of great, ursine beast that trailed behind him like a cape. The bulky jump pack strapped to his back made his massive form even more imposing. Grenades and melta charges were attached to his armour, but other than these explosives, the warrior appeared to be unarmed.
“Captain Charon, of the Adeptus Astartes Sword Bearers,” he continued, “We intercepted your distress call. I am here to assess your situation. Are you in command here?”
“Yes...my lord.” The officer nodded to the Guardsmen around him. Slowly, warily, they lowered their weapons. “You are alone? We had hoped for...”
“My brothers are scouring the hinterlands, searching for the attackers before they can strike again.” Charon looked around as he spoke, staring into the eyes of each surviving Guardsmen. He could see the same emotions repeated again and again: fear, pain, shock. These soldiers had somehow survived an assault of utter brutality, and the psychological trauma was evident on their numbed faces.
“Tell me what happened here.” The Sword Bearer turned back to the wounded lieutenant. “Tell me about the Space Marines who did this.”
“They came two mornings ago, just before dawn.” Vadim, the Adomite Lieutenant was sitting on an empty ammunition case, cradling his ravaged arm to his chest. The young officer should have died of blood loss, but this close to the man Charon could smell the unmistakable stench of burnt flesh. He had cauterized the wound himself in the only way possible, by thrusting his bleeding stump of an arm into a burning gun emplacement. For a mortal, the pain must be excruciating, Charon thought to himself. That the Adomite was still alive, let alone conscious and lucid, was a testament to the strength and hardiness of the inhabitants of this world. Potentially ideal aspirants to the Astartes, the Sword Bearer mused.
“The attack started without warning,” Vadim continued, “somehow they evaded all our sensors and auspex traps, silently eliminated the sentries and infiltrated the redoubt. The first we knew that something was wrong was when the generators exploded in a fireball that shook the entire fortress.”
“And then?” Charon asked, still watching the Guardsmen around him. The fear was slowly beginning to leave them, he decided. His presence, the presence of one of the Emperor's Angels, was having a calming, reassuring effect. Even for mortals as traumatised as these.
“Then the lights went out, and they began to slaughter everybody. Everybody.” Vadim's voice took on a cold, harsh edge. “There was nothing we could do. Our weapons were completely ineffective. Lasguns. Autorifles. We may as well have been throwing stones.”
“How many were there? What did they look like?” Charon asked. This was the information he needed to know. The information his Chapter needed to know.
“We estimate five, maybe six. It was difficult to tell. Almost everybody who saw them died. We're fortunate to be alive. Twelve of us left, from a company of over two hundred.”
“What did they look like?” Charon repeated, more forcefully this time. “What colour was their plate?”
“I'm not sure. It was pitch black, we barely saw them.” Vadim murmured, pain and weariness etched into his face.
“Blue. Their armour was dark blue” Another Guardsman spoke this time, an older man whose face was swathed in bandages. “I saw them before the explosion that took my sight. They wore blue armour, covered with skulls and lightning bolts. They were collecting the skins of our dead.”
“Night Lords.” Charon hissed, speaking more to himself than the soldiers around him. The foul traitors of the Eighth Legion had been his Chapter's ancestral enemies since the days of the Great Heresy and the Thramas Crusade. Indeed, the Sword Bearers had been founded, officially at least, to counter the Night Lords predations out here on the very edge of the Imperium. He was not surprised to find that Curze's Sons had been responsible for the carnage. In fact, part of him was relieved. Whilst horrific in their methods, there were worse possible culprits for this assault than the traitors of the Eighth. From his perspective anyway.
“Aye, blue armour.” The blind soldier continued, “All but one of them wore blue.”
Charon moved so suddenly that the Guardsmen around him gasped. He grabbed the blood stained tunic of the speaker, lifting him off the ground and pulling him close to his face plate.
“There was another?” The Sword Bearer whispered, his voice surprisingly soft through the vocal emitters of his battle helm.
“Yes my Lord” the blind man gasped, his whole body trembling in renewed fear. “There was a warrior unlike the others. A warrior in black.”
“Did you see anything else? Any logo or insignia? Is there anything else you remember about him?”
“No my lord.” The soldier was sobbing now, unable to weep through his ruined eyes. “Only a sword. A winged sword on his shoulder.”
Charon released the old man, letting him slump to the floor. The Sword Bearer took a step back, away from the cluster of soldiers. He folded his arms behind his back and sighed, the sound hissing from his helm in a burst of static. It was true then. A traitor far worse than even the Night Lords had walked this cursed ground. And there were witnesses. Crom's prescience had, regrettably, been proven correct once again. Not for the first time, he wished that the Chief Librarian could be a little less accurate in his divinations.
“My Lord, is..is everything alright?” It was Vadim who broke the Sword Bearer's reverie, the young officer had risen from his seat, still holding his mutilated arm.
The Sword Bearer didn't answer, for he had no desire to lie to these men. Turning slowly around, he observed each of them in turn, memorising their faces. Fear was evident in them once again, but whilst most Astartes would be repulsed by such mortal failings, Charon felt nothing but pity. These Guardsman had already suffered a horrific assault by a brutal and merciless foe, but now they were damned simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“We're glad you're here my Lord” Vadim continued, approaching cautiously. “We are fortunate to be alive, but we would not survive another attack. If you hadn't...”
Charon spun around to face the young lieutenant, drawing both his plasma pistols in a smooth, continuous movement. The matching handguns had been holstered at his back, hidden from view by the animal pelt that hung from his shoulders. They were ancient and powerful, relics of a bygone age, but they lacked the grace and balance of a blade. Even now, so many years after giving up his sword, the ritual weapons of his office still felt cumbersome and unwieldy. He had exchanged finesse for sheer destructive capability.
“No.” Charon said softly, aiming a pistol straight at Vadim's trembling features. The other gun was targeting the next soldier in line. He had already worked out the most efficient fire pattern. “You are far from fortunate I'm afraid.”
The Sword Bearer would remember them, as he remembered all the Emperor's servants he had killed in the prosecution of his duty. That was his penance. That was the price he paid to protect the secrets of the past.
“Forgive us.” he whispered as he pulled the triggers.
My first entry: Dumah Charon: Suppressor Captain of the Sword Bearers, Lord of Silence, Last Moritat of the Dark Angels Legion.
Dumah Charon is the current Lord Suppressor of the Sword Bearers, a position he has held for over sixty years. Amongst their fellow Unforgiven Chapters, the responsibility for concealing the existence of the Fallen Angels is shared collectively by every member of the Inner Circle. The Sword Bearers, however, appoint this task to a single individual. The sole duty of this 'Lord of Silence' is to ensure that knowledge of the Fallen is contained, by eliminating all evidence and witnesses to their existence. Such a crucial role requires it's incumbent to abandon all sense of mercy and honour, for they must be prepared to do whatever is necessary, no matter how heinous and ignoble, in order to fully safeguard the Legion's dark and terrible secrets.
The office of Lord Suppressor is an evolution of a martial caste that was once widespread throughout the original Space Marine Legions: the Moritats. During the Great Crusade such warriors were synonymous with wanton death and destruction, acting as the very epitome of the Adeptus Astartes. Following the Great Heresy, Moritats fell into disfavour, their battlefield excesses perhaps too reminiscent of the horrors perpetrated by the Traitor Legions. The Sword Bearers resurrected this long forgotten tradition, adapting the concept to better serve their own needs.
Once selected, each Suppressor Captain is presented with the antique heirlooms that serve as both their traditional weapons and mark of office. The Lion's Claws are a matching pair of Mark I plasma pistols, ancient but deadly handguns believed to have been part of Lion El Jonson's personal armoury. In exchange, the new Moritat surrenders his own sword, which is then buried with the mortal remains of his predecessor deep within the crypts of the Fenspire, the Sword Bearer's mountain fortress home. This symbolic gesture means that in death, each Lord Suppressor is able to finally reclaim the honour they renounced in life.
Although officially a Captain, Lord Charon does not lead a specific Company. Instead, all Sword Bearers assets and personnel are his to requisition as he sees fit, although he must ensure that the Legion's secrets remain concealed to the uninitiated. As a result his rank is something of a paradox, for he is technically outside the chain of command and yet his orders are obeyed without question. For those unaware of the necessity of his actions, he is seen simply as a weapon of terror, the orchestrator of senseless murder and atrocity. As a result the rank of Suppressor Captain is abhorred by the knightly orders of the Sword Bearers, for whom dishonour is seen as worse than death itself. Only those within the Inner Circle know how critical Charon's task truly is, respecting both his sacrifice and the terrible burden he carries on behalf of all Sons of the Lion.