Chronicle #7: Deathwatch Naaman
“I understand you will be traveling with us?”
“That is correct, Master. I have taken up the posting for the Deathwatch.”
“A noble act indeed, considering being one on the inside.”
Naaman winced at the mention of Inner Circle. It has not been that long since he was told the dark truth about those Dark Angels that turned from Lion and the Emperor for purposes that confounded him. “To what do you know?”
The marine clad in white started to chuckle, “I know enough. I have come from a meeting with the Supreme Grand Master Naberius and the Keeper of the Book of Salvation and they apprised me of the fundamentals about your mission and situation.” The Master guided the Dark Angel off down a tertiary corridor that barely allowed the marines to pass had they not shed their armor.
Master Samson of the 4th Company carried the title of the Master of the Fleet for the Saints of the Angels Chapter and as such was responsible for all the craft that chapter used to transport its brothers around the galaxy. He also held the responsibility for seeing to it that anything regarding the Fallen of the Dark Angels Legion receive his personal attention.
Brother Naaman, Deathwing Company, seconded to the Deathwatch was off to undertake a delicate dual mission. The Dark Angels routinely sent members off to be a part of the Deathwatch though it is rare to send one that bore the broken sword that signified the Deathwing. Naaman’s suit of Terminator armor was badly damaged during the battle with the fledgling Tau Empire and the artificers would be working on it for some time. In the interim, Naaman has once again donned power armor though Naaman did not begrudge the move. For its size and bulk, Naaman had difficulty achieving a flowing form within it. Indeed, it seemed the suit was best suited to be used without any sense of finesse and relied on the raw power to see it through a mission.
Samson finally guided them into a hidden alcove deep within the vital systems of the Battle Barge. “Although we are not carrying an Inquisitor at this time, it is advantageous to keep Unforgiven matters to ourselves.”
“We have suspected that one of our wayward brethren have found their way within the ranks of the Deathwatch or are connected to them in some manner. We are also sending two brothers to join the ranks along side you but they are outside the Circle. They will respect you and listen to you but their loyalty will be to the Deathwatch, as is our way.”
Naaman remembered his briefing with Master Gideon before departing the Rock. The Saints of the Angels had a burden placed upon them from the beginning. They do not hunt the Fallen and are meant to be a proof of the loyalty of the Lion’s sons to the Imperium. Their Inner Circle being among the smallest and acts only as observers. “I am no stranger to working alone.”
“You would not be a Son of the Lion if you were. Our merits and achievements are accounted on an individual basis as you well know, but by working together we further maintain tactical supremacy. My duties require my attention now, I will leave you to ruminate on this discussion and take this and study it. I don’t need to remind you that it does not exist.”
Naaman set off down corridors looking for the symbols that would identify special areas of the ship or fortress as being a place dedicated to the Inner Circle. He found the lightning bolt that matched the break shown on the Deathwing badge. Before learning the awful truth, he had noticed the symbol in the past but thought it referred to some sort of high voltage shunt in that corridor; but, the subtle second meaning identified cogitator or logic engine stations that were isolated from other systems and would not show up to anyone but the master of the vessel who would also have been inducted into the Inner Circles of their Chapter.
Finding the panel that opened the hidden chamber, Naaman withdrew to review the information that he had been given. A servo skull bearing the Crux Terminatus awoke and set about lighting a brazier within the small chamber before sitting idly by a terminal waiting for a command from the attending marine. There would be no paper or recording devices within this chamber save that which was brought within and even then, the servo skull would likely have been programmed to clear away such things.
Naaman stood before the terminal and accessed the data coil. What followed was the service record of a marine that had fought in the Great Crusade and had lived over a century before the events on Caliban and has encountered the Inner Circle at least three times before in its attempts to capture him. Last records had him as a Sergeant in the 93rd Chapter stationed on Caliban after several tours with the Expedition Fleets. The promotion saw him training up a squad of reserve marines in preparation for a post on another ship bound to join an expedition.
Committing all of the information to memory, he removed the data coil and noticed that it had already been destroyed by the console. Still, Naaman crushed the remains in his fist and left them for the servo skull to dispose of it. Leaving the alcove, he returned to his quarters and mediated on the information he had received to further lock in the data before going off to one of the many practice halls to hone his skills.
The Saints of the Angels had three squads on board and when Naaman entered the bay for close combat training, two of the squads were in mock combat with each other. Off in another area of the bay were two marines also in combat with each other. These were most likely the two others that would be joining Naaman in the Deathwatch. They stood to attention as he approached.
“As you were marines. I am correct in deducing that you are the two marines who are to join the Deathwatch?”
“You are, sir.”
“Where we are going, I will not be your superior. You may call me Brother Naaman.”
“I am Brother Stephen and this is Brother Paul.”
“Does he not speak for himself?”
“Not anymore, an ork tried to take his head and only managed to tear apart his larynx. The bionic device he was given is not compatible with our helmets and has to be removed each time he fights. I can see his comments in my helmet display.”
The Dark Angel asked next, “What are your reasons for joining the Deathwatch?”
“Brother Paul joined after his squad was nearly destroyed by the Orks. My own squad suffered similar circumstances at the hands of the Eldar. By the Lion, we should never have suffered as many casualties as we did in either of our circumstances. The Lion has shown us that we should be able to defeat any foe even with our bare hands.”
Naaman couldn’t help but chuckle, “That is true. The Lion has shown us our potential and our capabilities, but even the Lion was defeated by forces he did not understand at the time. Just as the Lion learned about the ways of the Man and our technology, we must now learn the ways and technologies of the Xenos of this galaxy in order to defeat them.”
The two marines took the lesson to heart and were encouraged that a Dark Angel praised them and their decision. Naaman went over to weapons rack and grabbed a chainsword. The gleaming white weapon was bright in his hand but the weapon felt familiar and the weight was well balanced. The diamond shaped teeth allowed the chain to be run in either direction or have the chain flipped in the field after the one side had dulled. Satisfied with his choice, he returned to the two Saints.
“Since we are to be brothers in arms, I need to know how you fight. Defend yourselves!” With a roar he engaged the two armored marines but left the chainsword powered down. Stephen was quick to turn to engage the threat while Paul took up a defensive stance and flipped his knife point down. Both were training with their combat knives and were at a disadvantage in terms of reach but Naaman did not have on his power armor and would not be able to endure the strength the suit provided the wearer.
Stephen thrust the knife out which the Dark Angel was quick to dodge before bringing the chainsword up under the marine’s armpit. Had the sword been running, Stephen would likely have lost his arm. Once past the first marine, Naaman brought the sword around in a slash towards Paul’s torso. Paul deflected the sword with his knife and followed up with a punch that caught Naaman square in the rib bone. Taking the blow in stride, Naaman dropped to a knee and continued the spin until his blade was aimed at Paul’s knee. Paul was already bringing his fist down on the Dark Angel when the chainsword connected and pulled him off balance. As he went down in a heap, Stephen returned to the fight thrusting his knife towards Naaman’s back who rolled out of the way and came up along side of Stephen. The momentum of the roll brought the chainsword over his head and right on the back of the neck of the Saint of the Angels. The Saints had been bested by the unarmored Dark Angel. Looking back, Naaman could see the other squads had stopped their own training and had watched the quick battle. The Dark Angel withdrew the chainsword from the neck of Stephen and went over to help Paul up.
“Brother Paul, you planted yourself in order to receive the attack. This is a sound strategy when defending from an emplacement and you are armed with ranged weapons. But in hand to hand combat, you need to displace yourself so that you are not where the enemy intends to strike. Brother Stephen, you are committing to your actions too early and hailing your intentions to your opponent. There are neutral postures and techniques that will allow you to change up your attack in the heat of battle. Let me show you.”
Naaman could hear the two sergeants telling their squads to heed his advice and started to discuss how an unarmored marine bested two other marines in armor. He returned his attentions to the two other marines and worked to refine their skills with a blade. He got his measure of the marines. Paul seemed to be from a tactical squad and was used to holding ground while Stephen still feels the pull of being in the assault squads. Both were competent warriors and were eager to improve themselves just as he did. With an inward smile to himself, he returned to the two marines and started working with them and helping the three of them to be forged into a tight knit unit.
In the two weeks of travel to Watch Post Theta, the three marines trained constantly. Naaman was continually the teacher and remained their Sergeant to them through his skill and experience. It was revealed to Naaman that Stephen had been selected by the Chaplains to begin training with them upon his return. The Saint was aware of the appointment and was allowed time to study under the Chaplain stationed aboard the ship. Brother Paul took to Naaman’s instruction well and was outperforming all of the Saints of the Angels station aboard the ship and even provided a challenge for the Dark Angel and Master Samson.
The reputation of the Deathwing was upheld by even one of their newest members and that influence will spread through out the Saints of the Angels. Master Samson even sent out a courier back to his own Chapter Grand Master about the possibility to encourage more interaction with the Deathwing even with the risk of the burdens placed on both Chapters. A simple Veteran has been able to best every marine including himself in some form and often with the disadvantage of not having a suit of armor. Watch Post Theta was aware of the need and had already acknowledged the request as well as improved augmetics for Brother Paul to allow him to once again speak while wearing a helmet.
The three marines approached the awaiting Thunderhawk that would take them to the watch post. The squads aboard stood at attention on both sides of the ramp with Master Samson standing in his full plate armor at the base of the ramp. He gave each marine a salute as they boarded and the Chaplain aboard also affixed a purity seal to each marine. The bone armored chaplain turned to Naaman, “The Honor of the Lion is in your blood as it is in ours. We are bonded by that blood and the victories of the Dark Angels are shared by all successors. You have already inspired everybody aboard about the strength of that bond our future victories will be further assured by your teachings here today. Let none here doubt the purity and strength of the Lion and his sons and stand ever ready to defend the honor of the each other. For the Lion!”
“For the Emperor!” came the reply from all present. Naaman received the salutes of the Chaplain and Master Samson before he turned and walked up the ramp of the gunship. His forest green robe looked a shade brighter with all of the polished white armor surrounding him. He did feel heartened by the Chaplain’s words and the squads of marines staying aboard. The bonds of brotherhood were present even if they were from other chapters. It will be different once they have arrived at the watch post. With a hiss, the ramp closed and the vessel was on its way. Even without the expectation of combat, all three marines sat quietly aboard the vessel in battle meditation. Brother Paul in particular flexed his empty gauntlets. Naaman knew the feeling, he felt unprepared without armor or armaments.
With a heavy thud, the Thunderhawk touched down in the hangar of Watch Post Theta. Greeting them at the base of the ramp was a lone Lexmechanic, an affront to most other Astartes Chapters. The apparent slight didn’t bother Naaman but it seemed to irritate his two armored companions. Paul’s gauntlets were bunched tight with suppressed anger. In the time that Naaman had been able to talk to Paul, he had learned that the Saints would typically be celebrated upon their arrival to a system. The lack of anything approaching a warrior’s welcome was disheartening to those used to the accolades. As a member of the First Founding, Naaman was again the de facto representative of the three. “Brother Naaman of the Dark Angels and Brothers …”
“Your names are known to me,” interrupted the Lexmechanic. “You will follow me to the Watch Commander.” The member of the Mechanicus turned and left the hangar. The three marines barely caught a glimpse of each other before following the red cloaked figure.
Entering a briefing chamber, the Lexmechanic turned toward a marine hovering over a holographic projection. “Query: Where is the Watch Commander?”
“Answer: With the Inquisitor,” responded the marine pointing behind him to the sealed door, not once looking up from the projection he was studying.
“I smell Lion cubs!” boomed a voice from a dark corner of the briefing room. Naaman’s enhanced vision allowed him to see the Son of Russ as he was sharpening an axe. The Wolf pelts and totems ruffled and jingled with each stroke of the whetstone. Turning to face the newcomers, the Space Wolf chuckled when he caught sight of the unarmored Dark Angel. “Cubs indeed if you do not even have proper armor.”
Stephen was quick his own retort, “He is a marine like you or me and better than both.”
The grin that crossed the face of the Wolf would have stolen the will of lesser men. “Is that so? I shall have to see this for myself. Perhaps, I’ll finally find a worthy opponent in this swill pit.”
Naaman knew well of the animosity that lingered between the Dark Angels and the Space Wolves Chapters dating back to the age of the Primarchs. He had even seen the honor duels take place in the past. The Wolves were vicious fighters and worthy of the fear they instill in their enemies. Naaman had underestimated them in the past, but then they were allies at the time. He would not make that mistake now that he alone would face the Wolf as a matter of honor. The Wolf tossed aside his axe and walked to another door, the other marines already moving to follow. The three newcomers followed along, Naaman taking in every opportunity on the walk to study his opponent. The most obvious distinction was the armor the Space Wolf wore. Instead of the traditional Power Armor, he was wearing Scout Armor. In Naaman’s experiences, those who wear Scout Armor in the ranks of the Space Wolves are Veterans in their own right and very capable solo fighters, only banding together if the need is great enough.
The collected group of marines arrived at the battle arena, a square chamber with with a pit in the center and surrounding that a gallery for marines to observe from above. Naaman was already in the pit. He had shed his green robe and stood in the arena in simple garb but still able to allow the Dark Angel to fight unencumbered. The Wolf arrived a short while later. He had shed his armor and was wearing nothing but trousers and boots.
“Fear not Lion cub. I have shed my armor and weapons so that it will be an honorable fight. Let it not be said that we are not – civilized.” With that, the Wolf’s mood turned almost feral and the primal instincts that have made the Space Wolves so feared throughout the galaxy were on full display to Naaman. The Angel felt his twin hearts quicken in anticipation of the coming battle but like all Astartes, he felt no fear. And like that historic battle long ago, neither side was killed.
Naaman let his eyes lose focus so that he could sense the entire area. He could perceive the nuances of his foe and not be surprised by a hidden attack. The Wolf paced back in forth, judging when would be the best opportunity to strike. The son of the Lion stood there calmly and yet poised to move. Every second that Naaman had to observe gave him more information about the son of Russ and what to expect. The massive amount of scars confirmed his earlier suspicion that the Wolf had seen a lot of combat and would not be easy to best. But he did see an opportunity in a series of scars that looked medical instead of combat related and far different to the ones all marines carry from their various surgeries needed to make them Astartes. The Dark Angel had seen similar scars before and they noted massive injury with likely bionic replacement.
The Wolf grew impatient and attacked Naaman’s right side. With a quick shuffle of his feet, Naaman dislocated himself just enough that the low punch failed to connect. In response he did a quick head butt and punch square in the fused ribcage followed by a hook to the damaged side followed by a quick knee to the leg to unbalance the Wolf. The son of Russ, surprised by the quick moves in close, fell backwards into a roll. He was back on his feet before Naaman could close and connected with an attack to the knee of the Dark Angel.
Now it was Naaman’s turn to roll away and just like his foe a moment ago. He was on his feet again to receive a flying tackle from the Wolf. He barely got his hands in position to overthrow the son of Russ as they hit the ground of the arena. Naaman leaped onto his feet while the Space Wolf got up a little slower after being tossed into the wall of the arena upside-down. Naaman quickly spun around with a kick to the head followed up by a fury of punches to the damaged side. Howling in pain, the son of Russ elbowed the Dark Angel’s face and threw a cross punch after it.
It was the opportunity Naaman had been waiting for. He caught the cross arm and now had total control of it. Every son of the Lion was a master of the sword and each was taught how that training could be used in other forms. Naaman used the trapped arm to spin the Wolf back into the wall before forcing him down on his stomach with the arm pulled back to the point where it would either break or dislocate. He had bested the Wolf.
Another voice sounded out, “Has honor been satisfied with this nonsense?”
The Dark Angel looked to see who had entered the but did not yet release his grip.
“Release my Scout, Dark Angel or die where you stand.” The newcomer had a bolt pistol drawn on him. Naaman released the Wolf. After shaking out the pain in his arm, he broke into a huge grin.
“Aye, honor is satisfied and I have finally found someone worthy in this sad lot.”
“You are hardly worth my attention Darkhowl. Since the other two are in armor already, this one must be the one in need of a suit of armor. Very well Rolf, you have your new toy. Try not to kill him before our next operation. I will alert the Watch Commander of my decision.”
Stephen looked down from above, “That must be the Inquisitor.”
“It is.” Replied another of the marines who had watched the fight. His Chapter symbol marked him as a Red Templar. He left the chamber without another word. Behind him was a Storm Lord and he leaned over to the White-clad marine, “You better get back to that Lexmechanic. Those Mechanicus types do not like these kind of diversions.”
Indeed, when they returned to the briefing chamber, the Lexmechanic was none too pleased to see his charges walk in with the Watch Commander standing there waiting for them to return. Rolf and Naaman were the last two to enter. Each had blood on their face and torso. The Watch Commander appraised the two combatants. “Looks like an even match. Will we be hearing Rolf sing about it later on?”
“Not this time,” replied a Deathwatch marine bearing the heraldry of the Genesis Marines. “The Dark Angel followed the strictures of the Codex and was able to place Darkhowl in a submission hold but the Inquisitor broke it up before we could see who would endure the longest.”
“Aye, he would have to knock me out before I would ever submit,” replied Rolf Darkhowl.
“Now that Rolf has satisfied his curiosity. It is past time that we begin the formalities. Naaman of the Dark Angels and Paul and Stephen of the Saints of the Angels, you have elected to serve the Deathwatch for a term of service that I deem necessary or that the Ordo Xenos require. You will each undergo a series of drills to determine your skills and areas of training. You will also become familiarized with the equipment and armaments of this facility and their specialized use in destroying the Xenos threat to the Imperium. During this time, your armor will be painted black and the left arm silver in deference to the spirit within the suit of armor. Upon the completion of the training, you will take the Oath of Moment to the Deathwatch and become formal members of this Watch Post and bear the mark of the Inquisition on your armor. Do any of you wish to recind your commitment? No? Then you shall be stationed in lower barracks until your evaluation and training is complete. Lexmechanic, take them to their chambers.” The three marines gave a salute and left with the diminutive figure once again.
After they had left, the Watch Commander turned to the group left behind. “Get them ready, we have only two weeks before those accursed orks are in system. Inquisitor Sylvan is very interested in what makes these Blood Axe orks different from the others we have encountered.