Opening Chapters - the Fall begins
"But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!- for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed. "
From the Pre-Unification works of Edal Len’Po, circa late M1
"Amidst the chaos and madness of those days, it is hard to know where to start this tale. The Siege is well-documented, the exact moment of the Breach known to all. Where then to speak of Seraph? I carry all their lives in my mind, can recite every detail from the moment they became Astartes to the moment they died. Do you, reader, require that knowledge? This is to be the tale of their end, so that they do not fall unwitnessed. Thus, I must start this tale with bloodshed, with the thunder of bolter-fire, and with the first of Seraph to awaken his wrath in the face of the Eaters."
From Blood on the Steel: the lives of Seraph
Bastian Ortega, once named Icarium, of the IXth Legion Astartes.
***accessing memory: auto-quill engaged
Smoke blanketed the streets of AnMonal, throwing a deathshroud across the once-glorious district of the Palace, rendering it as cold and silent as the grave. The dim rumble of war could just be heard by Astartes ears, the unceasing assault of the Traitors fury against those they once called brothers shattering this world piece by piece. False Dawn was a constant occurrence, the unending orbital bombardment and near-orbit void war eclipsing the natural rhythms of days on Terra, leaving each side fighting in a constant flickering dawnlight. Through the grill of his helm, Afio Lorenz of the Ninth could taste ash, and bone. And blood. Not the clean coppery tang of fresh blood, but the bitter iron of clotted gore, of days-old slaughter.
The Twelfth then. Not the Fourth as Azariel had wagered - he should be thankful, no brutal uneven death by creeping bombardment for Seraph. No, instead this would be close, intimate. Decided with blades and won in blood on the hands.
Afio felt a vulpine grin stretch across his mouth, lips peeling back over the tips of his eyeteeth. He was ready, as were all of the Blooded of Seraph, almost eager for this to begin. Almost. The Rage simmered in his augmented chest, ready to unsheathe claws and teeth and rend and tear and bite and suck down that crimson copper-tasting liquid, hot in the mouth and sweet, so sweet.... Warning icons blinked to life in front of his eyes, elevated heartrates, rising adrenaline, increased limbic activity. With an effort, Afio pushed the Rage away, calmed himself and found the cold centre that all warriors needed in battle. Ran the routine checks that were almost ritual - bolter loaded, primed. Blade oiled and loosened in the sheath. Back to vigilance, watching the smoke-blown streets like a raptor.
There. Some three hundred metres away, coming up the main thorough-fare through the ash, a half dozen figures, Astartes big. Clad in hulking shambolic Mark Three plate, marble-white sections now scarred and shattered, stained with dried and rotting gore. Brutal chainblades held loosely in gauntlets, a mismatch of sidearms and longer bolt pieces. No order to their advance, no evidence of urban tactics, just these six Astartes wandering almost aimlessly through the streets of the cradle of Mankind as though they thought they belonged there.
Afio felt the grin become something more feral, something more fitting to a snarl. A few seconds clarity of thought, a subvocalised vox-blurt to Seraph.
"It is the Eaters, my location. Limited threat, Samiel engaging."
And then....the cold fury of combat. Exploding from cover, bolter already braced and firing. Sabot rounds punched into the helm of the lead Eater, shattered ceramite and bone beneath. Switching targets, three rounds into the weaker hip armour of the next, sending him crashing to the concrete, almost severed at the waist. The hot copper-spiced tang of Astartes blood filled the air and now the Eaters reacted, chainblades roaring, sidearms firing wildly as they raced towards him. No art to their fury, no grace or style to their rage-fuelled flailing. Another Eater punched from his feet by concentrated fire to his chestplate, the ceramite buckling and splintering into the Black Carapace it covered. Mere feet away now, close enough to smell their stink and hear the barking shouts they made over the roar of their blades and the thunder of his bolter. The first Eater reached him, swung an over-large chainsword clotted with gore in a horizontal carve that Afio simply ducked under, coming up in the face of the second Eater, inside the reach of his long hafted chainaxe. The Eater howled, battered at Afio's crimson plate with iron gauntlets before registering the solid length of steel through its gut. Afio twisted, pulled his blade free in a welter of blood and viscera in time to punch the first Eater in the back with bolter-fire. No time to think, the Eater he had gutted came at him again, ropes of intestines hanging from his ruined armour, chainaxe raised in both hands. A side-step this time, taking Afio past the Eater, a twist and parry with his blade sending the Eater crashing over onto his comrade, chainaxe chewing into the ruined back armour, sending blood flying into the air. Sneering, Afio of the Ninth emptied the rest of his bolter clip into the pair, sabot rounds punching ceramite apart. They stilled and then the only sound was the heavy wet breathing and idling chainaxe of the last Eater. Half-buried markings on once-white armour marked him as Gladiator Primus, a squad leader ranking.
Breathing steady, heartrates even. Afio locked gazes with the Samus-pattern helm of the Eater, raised blood-slick blade before his face in salute. The Eater grunted in response, raised brutal chainaxe in fist.
Now the war would begin in earnest.
"You call your Primarch the Red Angel, no? This is a jest surely? Some sly humour of the Twelfth?
Come then, let me show you how a son of a true Angel fights..."
Afio Lorenz, named Samiel, of the Blooded of Seraph Company, IXth Legion Astartes
Afio as I remember him, perhaps the closest to a brother I had amongst Seraph. Clad as most of us were in Mark IV plate, filigreed and decorated by his own hand but bearing the scars of war. Afio had a poet’s touch, a mind sharp in wit and deft in the creation of emotive works. He was, I think, the best of us, the ideal son of Sanguinius, beautiful in his wrath and as quick in his mind as our Father was on the wing. A member of the Blooded, the veteran cadre of Seraph, Afio had wrought the ruin of our foes for scores of years, honours heaped upon him as heavy as any cloak. He was the first of Seraph to draw blood against the Eaters during the Fall, and one of the last to die, still spitting his defiance into their faces but never succumbing to the Rage inside him. In that, he stood alone from Seraph in the end. For Afio, more than any other of Seraph, I weep.
***memory core access rescinded: auto-quill disengaged
Edited by JackDaw, 14 August 2014 - 10:53 PM.