Update time, but first a reply
A fantastic start so far, I am looking forward to seeing more. What do you have planned after Third Claw?
Cheers Tarvik, didn't notice that warp creatures had eaten my first reply to you but thanks for the praise. Next thing planned is probably some Raptors. I need to order a bunch of things from bits sites and FW to have the material I want for more troops.
And now, the update:
Archdeacon Bernardo swallowed nervously as he peeked through the small window, he had been living in Byzantante for more than two decades and he knew the city almost as well as the back of his hand but tonight he felt as if he had been whisked away to a realm of nightmares. There should be street lights illuminating the square, Merchant halls and Administratum buildings whose lights should have been seen from where he stood but there was nothing but darkness. Darkness and screaming. Screams of men, women and children roaring in terror, in pain and despair. Never-ending and loud enough to be heard within the cathedral where he was standing.
These last couple of days there had been rumours spreading through the city, rumours and stories of how the Emperor had forsaken not only Byzantante but the whole of Sobek III. People had whispered about how town after town had been not only destroyed, but butchered by giant monsters with only a handful of survivors escaping. Along with the other authorities, Bernardo had done what he could to stop those rumours and denouncing those behind them as fear mongerers. After all, was it not common to lose contact with the other cities and towns during the solar storms? It all seemed so foolish now, he wished he had belived those stories and prepared himself in some way. He even wished that he had listened to that small voice in the back of his head that had whispered to him to run as fast and as far as he could. There were things out there in the night, terrible things. He had glimpsed movement, shadows even darker than their surroundings and standing taller than any man should. There had been laughters heard even through the screaming.
He turned around and looked at the cramped interior of his cathedral where hundreds of people were mumbling their prayers in terrified voices. Every lamp, candle or other source of light that could be found had been gathered in the subconscious hope that enough illumination would keep the darkness outside at bay. Bernardo felt their fear and their expectations that he, the God Emperor's highest representative in Byzantante could put things right, and maybe he could. From what he had heard from the rumours and the little he had seen he thought he could guess what was out there. If it was so there must be a terrible misunderstanding and maybe he could end it. Even though he wished he didn't have to, he grabbed a pole with a piece of white cloth tied to it, opened the cathedral doors and walked out into the night.
Sazed was growing tired of the screams. Every scream was worth hearing once just to experience the subtle differences between them and several screams blending into each other could form a fascinating music. But when you had heard them repeated over and over again for hours, when you had been the one causing most of the people to scream in the first place, then he felt he had every right to feel tired of them. He wished for either fresh, new screams or that he could turn off the vox casters. The latter was not an option though, to turn them off would be seen by the others as a weakness and no Claw leader could afford to be thought of as weak. His 'brothers' would find a way to get rid of him that would look like an accident and even though everyone would know what had happened, no one would say a word. Not even the Captain since some Legion 'traditions' were to strong to be violated. Easier then to find new screams, new trophies and taste the fear and terror of mortals once more even though they too would grow stale with time.
Still, he wished that he hadn't been made Sergeant, command tended to... complicate life. He had never understood those that sought power. The more you got the more you had to watch those that wanted to ursurp it from you. Meanwhile those still above you would see you as a threat to their own position and seek ways to remove you. He muttered a curse, hoping that Shallan's soul was experiencing some vile torment in whatever Warp-hell that had swallowed it. Why did the bastard get himself killed and got Sazed promoted? He had to appreciate the dark humour in how Shallan had died though, that someone that had survived the streets of Nostromo, the Great Crusade, and the many battles against the lackeys of the Corpse Emperor would die because a worker in a power lifter dropped a crate full of machine-parts on his head from the roof of a factory. There were few things that could make Sazed smile these days but the thought of how Shallan would have reacted if he had known that an unarmed mortal had killed him was just enough to make his lips twitch behind the mask of his Mark IV helmet. His thoughts were interrupted when he noticed that his brothers were moving up to his position, four of them at least, he had sent Rashek and the others to the northern outskirts of Decimus to wreak havoc among the hab units there. The smiling bastard probably saw it as a sign of trust that Sazed had given him command of the 'freak show' but the truth was that he didn't want him anywhere close. Rashek was a born coward who wouldn't take the slightest risk if he could avoid it. He wanted command though and in battle it would be all to easy for him to arrange some friendly fire to get what he wanted.
The others stopped by his side, facing the cathedral at the other side of the square.
“What are we waiting for?” Pahn Kahl said with impatience in his voice “That tempel of the Corpse Emperor is filled with the only prey left in our sector. We should enter it and show them how much their false 'God' protects them”
Sazed turned his head towards him and surpressed a tired sigh at the youngblood's words. Pahn Kahl had been a novice of the Ecclesiarchy before the Thirty-third Company had raided his homeworld. He had been lucky to not only survive long enough to be taken as a slave but to be found compatible for gene-seed implantation aswell. He had adopted the traditions of the Night Lords with all the zeal of a convert, making his best to appear as any other brother of the Legion, flayed skin over his shoulder and a terror mask upon his helmet. The 'boy' hated everything and everyone but the feeling of betrayal when the Emperor hadn't protected him from the Eight had reserved a special place in his heart for the Ecclesiarchy and the faithful.
Maresh's booming laughter echoed over the square and before Sazed had time to answer Pahn Kahl's question he did it in his stead.
“So impatient... Is it so important for you to skin them now instead of later? You have only been Third Claw for a mere decade youngblood, you have not fought the Long War as the rest of us. When you grow older you will realise that a little wait makes their terror all the sweeter... IF you survive that is” he said in a half joking, half threathening tone.
Sazed nodded in agreement even though he didn't like Maresh. He had been Sergeant of Fifth Claw before losing an honour duel for command to Dalinar and he had left for Third Claw rather than serving under his opponent. He still had his ambition and was the biggest threat to Sazed in the whole Claw. Both of them were Old Nostroman though, first generation of Nostroman recruits. Born and raised right after the Night Haunter had left their world for the Great Crusade, when there had still been vestiges of law and honour left, if only because people had feared that he would return. Maresh would be unlikely to do anything during combat as it would clash with his code. Such things could be eroded over time and were not to be trusted too much but since it would have been even more dangerous to give him an independent command that could be used as a power base of his own, keeping a close watch over him was the best option for now.
“The doors are opening” Goradel said in a flat voice and the rest turned to him in surprise. Him speaking without being spoken to was rare. He had been a ruthless killer once, coldblooded, cruel and darkly innovative with his murders. All traits that had become valued among the members of the Eight Legion during the course of the Crusade. When he was chosen as an aspirant he was already notorious as perhaps the most gifted murderer of his generation and legionnaires throughout the legion had placed bets on which company commander who would be able to claim him as a warrior. Then something had happened. No one knew what, whether some chemical inblance had happened during the implantation of his zygotes or if the psychological conditioning and hypnotherapy had gone wrong somehow. What mattered was that an almost servitor-like battle brother had emerged instead of the anticipated expert killer. Goradel had little ability to initiative, no imagination and there was basically no emotion left in him. He still had adequate reflexes and would kill when told to so it had been decided that he could still be of use to the Legion.
No captain had wanted damaged goods though so instead of the glorious career that had been expected he was sent to the Thirty-third to take his place among all the other mistfits and outcasts.
“A priest waving a white flag? How innovative of them...” Themos said while lowering his heavy bolter as the lone mortal would have been a waste of ammunition.
The only one in the Claw wearing the sinner's red on his hands, he was the only one Sazed trusted without reservations. Themos himself had asked to to wear crimson after Shallan's death, claiming that he should have been able to kill the mortal before it killed the Sergeant. It had shocked everyone, even the Captain who was normally as cold as vacuum. Red hands were for hopeless sinners who had broken Legion law, not for someone that had killed a mortal a split second too late. Afterall, half the company had killed brothers with their own hands and most of the rest wished that they had done so aswell so Themos' request seemed like a bad joke to them. He had been born among the warrior caste of a feudal world though and apparently not even all the blood he had spilled over the years had washed his childhood ideals away. It meant that he was the pefect brother to watch Sazed's back as he would rather die than fail again. Sazed almost liked him even, the poor fool was so sombre that he never smiled or laughed.
While the priest was stumbling across the square Sazed spoke to his Claw:
“No one does anything. Let the mortal speak before anyone of you tosses his head through a window. You never know, he might even have something worthwile to say.”
They walked forward as a group and positioned themselves in front of the priest who came to a sudden halt and bowed when he saw the Astartes.
“Lords,” the man said in a steady voice. “I come in peace to ask the God-Emperor's forgiveness and that you spare his loyal servants”.
Sazed was impressed against his will, most mortals would have been shivering and stuttering in the same situation. If he hadn't been Astartes he probably wouldn't have noticed the fear that the man somehow mastered. He could respect that display of courage and control and even though the man wouldn't thank him for it he decided that death would be swift for this one.
“Tell me,” he growled as he looked down into the mans face “why should we care about your Emperor or whatever loyalty you show him?”
Something inside the mortal seemed to snap when he heard this, his facial expression was shocked and he lost control over his voice when he answered
“B-b-but w-w-we are innocent! We have done n-n-nothing wrong! As s-s-servants of the Emperor, as sons of b-b-blessed D-d-dorn, how can you not care about that?!”
Sazed was stunned into silence for several seconds before he grabbed the priest by the throat, lifted him up and with a low and sneering voice asked him to his face:
“Sons of Dorn?”
Despite the severity of his situation the man somehow managed to control his fear and even though breathing was near impossible for him he croaked an answer.
“It's been years... since the... Schola Progenium... devotional placards... Astartes...” shock, pain and lack of oxygen gave him little control over his body but he managed to point his trembling finger towards Themos and say: “...Crimson... Fists...”
This was to much for Sazed, he could not help it. He dropped the mortal to the ground as laughter, pure laughter without any trace of bitterness or rancor spilled out of his mouth for the first time in ages. It was priceless, with tears running from his eyes he turned toward Themos and said while still laughing:
“You hear that brother? It's clear even to mortals that you were chosen by the wrong Legion. A son of Dorn indeed...” He brought himself back to a more serious state but his unusual good mood could still be heard by the others when he spoke:
“Go inside brothers, paint the cathedral red with their blood if you like. Save some of the children though, maybe one or two of them might join a claw one day”
As his brothers walked towards the cathedral and the unfortunate mortals inside he looked at the priest that lay wheezing at his feet.
“Rejoice, you have just entered the service of the Eight Legion. I underestimated your gifts, such talents as yours must be put to use. A man like you might even make the Captain laugh...”
And pictures of course, left to right we have Goradel, Sazed and Themos
Followed by Pahn Kahl and Moresh
And finally a group shot of the finished Third Claw
That's the result so far, progress will be rather slow the next couple of weeks as my workload is quite immense at the moment. The fact that Wildstar was launched today will affect the amount of time I dedicate to 40K aswell.
C&C is most welcome of course
Edited by MrBear, 01 June 2014 - 03:16 PM.