++ Truth and Justice ++
-A History of the Unification Wars-
-- Chapter 1: Introductions --
The decision was made.
Delah Shawae, Daughter of Gaia, knew peace with this decision, the calm echoes of her faith soothing her anxieties. Here, in the Living Temple of the Blessed Mother, surrounded by the near-extinct splendor of Terra's long dead bounty, she was unassailable. Untouchable. A small smile turned the corner of her lip, this small moment of serenity easing her heart. With her decision made, her next course of action was simple; thanking Gaia or the life that was breathed into her.
After all, her ashes would return to the Goddess's embrace soon.
Stepping towards the altar, her bare feet softly padding through the blessed and rare green grass planted into the aisle, Delah knelt before a living sculpture of Gaia, twisting cedar and willow branches shaping her gentle facial features, leaves and vines weaving back into flowing hair laced with nearly extinct flowers, adding a soft scent in the air that calmed the heart like no other. Small, genetically-crafted incandescent insects lit the room warmly, while they fluttered gently through a light breeze that cut through the temple, rustling leaves in a symphony sung since Gaia's awakening, a plainsong made by nature itself. Touching the small reflection pool at the feet of the Goddess with a petite henna-tattooed hand, Delah began singing lightly with the wind, a harmonic nonsense of a song that created it's own flow and rhythm, filling the room with the sound of simple joy. Oh, how Man had failed their Mother, how they had ruined her, stole the air from her lungs and the light from her eyes. When the Second Awakening came, though, the Mother would reclaim her children, strike down the vileness of war and technology, and the Earth would flourish once more. Delah sighed softly as she daydreamed of running through a real, living, field of flowers under a brilliant sky of the purest blues and whites, pinned with golden sunlight.
The moment of serenity died with the sound of the chapel door opening wide. Distantly, much screaming could suddenly be heard without the door buffering the sound, the crash of stone and the crackling of Hell unleashed. Slowly, the door closed, an action meant to show respect, only allowing the horror raging outside the temple to pour in for longer, the sound finally dying to the shaking gasp of a hive-city in it's death throes as the oaken door finally shut.
Cinder and smoke blocked the scent of flowers. The electric humming of fully active warplate filled the air with the sound of technology crafted for death. The sound drove the insects away, darkening the room to match the sudden change in mood.
Delah's joy died.
The quiet steps of armoured boots on the creaking wood floor grew louder as he approached, finally kneeling beside her, with grinds and squeals of metal shifting. The giant's breathing was a small, bass note in the background, as he patiently waited for Delah to finish her prayer. Slowly, she pulled her fingertips from the water, watching the ripples reflect from the pool walls, gathering her thoughts as she prepared herself.
“I've made my decision.” Delah's voice was quiet, reserved. She lifted her eyes, and looked upon her visitor.
He was gigantic, his layered warplate giving him even greater size and girth. There was an echo of the Old Night to his wargear, a distant vision of monsters like the Ursh, like the Oxitanians, the Xeric tribes, the Legiones Tontrua. Burning books and lightning bolts were enshrined in silver, gold and black marble, framing flowing inscriptions carved into storm-cloud gray plate scarred with alchemical scoring. The reek of annihilation followed his wake, his armour rich with the scent of hot ash, promethium, and shattered marble. Long strips of vellum hung from a pair of Solar devices hung upon his chest, writings of rationality and Godlessness, with further scrolls hung from his back like a cloak, words ancient and difficult to understand detailing the glory of a secular Humanity. His face, though, was youthful, boyish even. Sandy, unruly brown hair topped curious hazel eyes, freckles dotting his nose and high cheekbones, between the ragged ridges of scars faded and fresh. Those forest green eyes, lined with black circles, so deep in sorrow, so rich in emotion. Any rumour that Delah had heard of the Tyrant of the Himilazia's creating his warriors without souls died when she saw into them.
There was a soul in there. One that was trapped, forced down, and enslaved, Delah realized with a start. She suddenly felt pity for this creature, so broken and confused.
The young titan smiled knowingly, a trace of tiredness in his voice. “I know what you're going to say. Please, rethink your decision, mamzel. It doesn't have to end this way.” Carbon-blackened fingertips lightly touched the tops of her hands, rough with their cast-iron texture. “It is rare when we give time to reflect. Often, such time has passed when my kind arrive. The people of this entire Hab-Sector spoke on your behalf, told us of your missions of mercy and kindness, of your selflessness. This was all that stayed Master Lucan's hand; your reputation. My brothers and I may have a terrible duty, but we are not wanton in our destruction. We save what we can, who we can, to improve all of Mankind. You deserve life, Daughter Delah. You deserve to spread your kindness for the rest of your days. We need people like you in this world, especially as it heals, and I would do much to ensure you could carry on with your acts of mercy and love.”
He took her hands in both of his now, engulfing her tiny fingers with his massive gauntlets. He looked intensely at her, his eyes almost begging. “All you must do is recant. Accept the Truth. Turn away from ignorance, and welcome reason. Deny the lie your faith is, and you can spread life. Please, mamzel. Don't do this.”
She finally returned his sad smile, with one of her own. Tears blurred her vision of this kindly murderer, desecrating her home with his supposed kindness. “I cannot. The Goddess has given me everything, and if only you believe, you could receive her bounty for eternity.”
He shook his head slightly. “Only science and genetics can save the earth and it's people, Daughter. Already, He has begun repairing the human genome, healing thousands of years of nuclear scarring. He is refilling the oceans, and has plans to rebirth much of the lost fauna and flora of ancient times. Given time, after Unification, Terra will live again as it once did, and you could be a part of that. Many of your order already have, and are now aiding geneticists with their work. Not whispers to nothingness, begging for change from a non-existent entity; real action, with real results. You must see the truth of this. You must wake up.”
She turned away, remembering her vision of the field of flowers, of actually seeing her vision alive. The moment of hesitation faded instantly. “No,” she said with a strength returned. Her chosen path was final. Nothing else needed to be said.
The giant gently released her hands with a morose sigh, looking downward to the floor. “Then it's time, Mamzel Delah.” Slowly, the giant stood, towering over her meek frame, clad in it's pain white shift. He offered his hand, which she took with a welcome nod. He didn't let it go as they began walking slowly towards the door, and she was strangely grateful again. She was shaking with fear, and keeping her feet had suddenly become as difficult as taking a calm breath. She glanced at him again, seeing the sorrow writ on his face.
“What is your name?”
He seemed taken aback by that. Delah assumed most people were too busy screaming to ask.
“My name is Noam Mahntag, mamzel.”
She took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart, to halt the sick feeling in her gut. Trying, and failing again. Only the core of her everlasting love for Gaia kept her from losing consciousness.
“Will it hurt, Noam?” Her voice broke.
He said nothing for the next few steps, finally speaking as he touched the handle of the door.
“Yes.” He finally said, almost....ashamed.
The door opened, and the peace of the temple was lost forever.
The entire skyline of Urusalim Hive was aflame. The Holy City, the spiritual home of so many of mankind's religions, was dying horribly. Minarets and temples, towers and idols, churches and fanes, all fell to ruin under the masterful destruction wrought by the Imperial Heralds, and were put to the fire. Other giants strode through the ancient plaza, dragging tomes and priests alike to a massive inferno at its center, condemning that which was contaminated by the ignorance of faith to the light of pure fire. The scream of chainaxes barely overrode the scream of an entire society dying in terrible pain. The crash of falling statues and towers shook the ground, the thrashing of a victim near death, undercut by bass tones of further shaped charges bringing down more. Slowly, the plaza fell silent, as Daughter Delah of the Temple of the Blessed Mother strode down the steps to the plaza, to the towering flames of humanity's sins being washed away in the purity of the inferno. All knew of her, all had felt the touch of her kind heart. She had crossed violent religious divides in the entire hab-sector, and had been a champion of the destitute and weak, no matter their creed or faith. Even the gray-clad warriors stood idle suddenly, understanding the gravity of this moment, pausing in their whirlwind of destruction.
They were before the fire now. This close, it reddened her skin, drew sweat from her brow. Her mouth was dry, her eyes wet. Noam's voice was the only thing she could hear, over the sound of the crackling fires and her heart pounding painfully in her chest.
“I beg you, one last time, mamzel. If not for yourself, then think of how many lives you could save by leading from example. These people adore you, and if you could see the wisdom of the Imperial Truth, then they would follow.” Noam's was steady, composed, resolved. The face of a devout child given a terrible burden.
Delah could barely raise her voice to a whisper. “No. I follow the Goddess's light, and I will not turn away.” Noam shut his eyes slowly, and turned his face to the flames. He began lifting her by the back of her neck.
“Noam?” Her voice was wavering, her fear barely held in check. Tears poured down her face. “I don't want to die in pain. Please.”
Noam opened his eyes again. He nodded his understanding sadly, and she smiled weakly.
“Thank you.” She breathed. She closed her eyes, and imagined the flowers.
Noam snapped the priestess's spine, and cast her corpse to the fire.
The entire Hab-Block exploded with the pitiful howls of the broken-hearted, as Noam's brethren began taking the city apart again.
Noam Mahntag, Champion of Heavenfall, Iconoclast, wept as he watched Delah's body blacken.
He wasn't sure why.
A Pictographic History of the Heavenfall Chapter, Iconoclasts, XVII Legion; First Series
Chapter Champion Noam Mahntag
Iconoclast-Delegatus Lucan Ystraid
Edited by Hyaenidae, 15 June 2015 - 08:31 AM.