The Rage of the Fallen
Legions: The Crimson Lions and Berzerkers of Uran
Time: C.045-050 M.31
Behind the adamantium of his faceplate and wreathed in amniotic fluid, Ærrion's face contorted into a snarl as he opened fire on the Berzerker's of Uran. What had the Crimson Lions expect from Raktra's get? Discipline? Loyalty? Ever since Raktra's disovery, these traits had vanished from the VII, with only the oldest of them holding true to their legion's ideals. Those were the true VII, not these black and white grubs Ærrion now fought. Ærrion shed few tears over the ending of their worthless lives. He took joy in their deaths. Their blood drowned his sorrow, his anger, his hate but most of all, their deaths allowed him to forget, to forget everything except dealing death. However, he could never truly forget. His new form haunted his steps wherever he strode. His ironform was masterfully wrought but there were certain feelings it could never truly capture, the feeling of blood splashing across his face or the crash of a bullet slamming into your armour. It was in these moments that Ærrion remembered he died over 160 years ago amidst the black spires of Ivrax and it was with this recollection that the faces came back to him. Ari, laughing and joking as he killed, Torsan, his gallows humour livening their spirits in even the darkest moments. All dead. All rotting. All gone.
Ærrion was ancient, a relic from the legion's past. He still wore the slate grey and blood red of the Blood Wolves, just as he still had a rearing golden wolf emblazoned on his ironform. He had worn those colours and that sigil his whole life and so he now wore them in death. So it was that he had remained a Blood Wolf while the rest of what was once his legion became the Crimson Lions. While they were honourable to be sure and worthy heirs to the Blood Wolves, the Crimson Lions weren't Ærrion's legion. Not really. He fought alongside them, covered them, gave them his strategic wisdom and fought foes against whom they couldn't hope to be triumphant yet he was a Blood Wolf where they were Crimson Lions. Occasionally they would ask questions about what it felt like to be within an ironform, about the power it gave you. While Ærrion told them of the honour there was in fighting on beyond death what he didn't tell them was the truth. He had never felt more alone or more enraged than in his ironform. The loneliness made Ærrion want to howl in rage. It had given him power that was unimaginable for a flesh and blood man, even astartes, he had never felt more alone or more helpless than in his present form. Death had permanently wrenched him away from the bonds of brotherhood, for the dead could not be brothers of the living. All of his brothers waited beyond the vale, on the other side, while Ærrion was trapped in this world, unable to join them, constrained as he was by his interment. Yet Ærrion was also afraid. He feared the dark and the memories it brought. So he fought. He unleashed his rage at being trapped in this form in battle and fought to avoid the dark because he was afraid. A sneer crossed his scarred lips, sneering at his own weakness. He hated it and his brother's had known he would hate it when they imprisoned him in this lump of metal and they'd done it anyway. So he killed, he killed until he almost forgot it all and then killed again. But he still had a duty and he would continue to stick to his duty until the final breath finally passed his lips. Roaring and ignoring the flashing runes telling him his plasma cannon was overheating, Ærrion charged. He was a son of Albyon and the last Blood Wolf and he would roar, shout and fight until he was dead, no matter what came.
A gift for a King
Legions: Crimson Lions, Iron Bears, Space Wolves
Time: N/A M.30
Maridius, Lord of the Hypaspists, the Crimson Lions first company, looked over the orbital ballet being performed in the skies above Medus V, as ships from both the Crimson Lions and Iron Bears jostled for space in which to enter into its orbit. Beside Maridius, a god of war was doing the same, a levaithan in bronze and silver. Hectarion Mycenor. As Maridius thought this, Hectarion spoke, his voice a bass rumble. "Tell Myrvallen Balath of the 'Shadow Hound' that if he keeps on his current course he'll collide with the 'Hereah'". To Maridius' right a human with a vox immediately set to work doing so. "Also, inform Myrvallen Dronthar that if he enters into an orbit there, his Clans drop pods will land several kilometres off target. And his squadrons side is exposed to an enemy counter attack".
"Brother" a voice called out from behind them. Even before he'd seen who it was, Hectarion was grinning. As he turned, his Lions pelt cape swaying slightly, as though in the wind, Dear'dd walked towards where he was standing, slowly and unhurriedly. When he reached them, the two demi gods embraced in a bear hug. "It's good to see you again brother" said Hectarion. While Hectarion was just barely shorter than Dear'dd, it being such a minute difference that few would notice, he was nowhere near Dear'dds broadness. As such, Hectarion had the worst of it in the bear hug. None the less, he grinned at seeing his brother again. "Had I known you were coming on board the Lupa Sanguis I would have had my techmarines prepare a barrol of Nerith. Then we could have drunk the night away and talked of past glories". Dear'dd grimaced at the mention of Nerith and said "Never again. I'll stick to Huronian mead". Maridius grinned. Nerith was a traditional celebratory drink of the tribesmen of Mycenae. In addition to being one of the few substances in the galaxy that could give a space marine, or even a primarch, a hangover, mjod being the other,Nerith also acted as a haluconegen, even with primarchs advanced physiology. Hectarion let out a short barking laugh and slapped Dear'dd on the back, saying "I forgot you and your legion couldn't handle your drink". Then, indicating the orbital preparations taking place all around them "It shows in how sloppy your legions orbital discipline is". Dear'dd smiled and said "Not all of us can be expert boarders brother. Besides, I didn't come on board to hear you critisize my legions orbital discipline". Hectarions grin changed to an expression of both worry and curiosity "Why did you come then? Has something happened to one of our brother like happened to Lem...them?". Dear'dd shook his head and said "No, nothing of the kind. I came to give you this". Looking past Dear'dd, Maridius could see a servitor carrying something covered in cloth.
Removing the cloth, Dear'dd revealed a chain axe of truly wonderous craftsmanship. The head was attached to the rest of the axe by a pair of rubies cut to look like claws. The teeth were Stone Lion teeth edged in adamantium, the back spike an Aquiline head and the pommel a gold lions head. However, as Hectarion hefted the axe, his gaze fell on one thing in particular. A Fenrisian krakens tooth. His eyes widened and he looked at Dear'dd, who said "The Dauntless few shall now march to war again, in spirit at least if not in body". Hectarion nodded as his mind was dragged back a century to a moonlit night on Terra at the start the Great Crusade. There they had sworn that nothing in the galaxy would stop them while they fought together. Hectarion sighed. That had been long ago. Much had changed.
"My thanks brother" said Hectarion to Dear'dd. Dear'dd then nodded and said "You finally have a blade that's worthy of you". Then, as if some unspoken signal had passed between them, they both looked to the same corner of the Lupa Sanguis' bridge. There they saw a shadow with hair that was blowing in the wind and a pair of shapes circling around it's feet. The figure grinned and nodded, before walking off into the distance. Looking back at each other, Hectarion and Dear'dd both nodded. Then Dear'dd said "Come brother. We shall war together once more".
The Bear's Fist
Legions: Crimson Lions, Space Wolves
Time: N/A M.30
Hectarion walked into the small forge he had on board the Lupa Sanguis. He had had it built many years ago, when he'd first met Dear'dd and his brother had taught him the smiths craft. While Hectarion was nowhere near Dear'dds skill, he often found peace in his forge when the bouts of irrational anger that occasionaly plagued him were at their worst. Once again Hectarion looked at Godstooth. Such a mighty gift. Then he looked over at the corner of his forge, where there were the shattered fragments of Lions Bite. He had broken it over the back of one brother. Now, he would re forge it in a different form for another.
Hectarion had spent hours searching through the ships stores, taking only the purest ingots of metal for this project. His brother deserved nothing less than the best. Then, Hectarion began to work. He wouldn't stop working until he'd finished. When the sparks from his hammer hitting the metal burned his skin, he ignored it. When the heat of the forge cause his skin to blister, he ignored it. Nothing would stop this project from being finished.
After several days, much of the weapon was ready. Hectarion knew his brother preferred brute force over skill in combat and so it wasn't a spear or an axe he had made for his brother. It was a magnificent war maul, as tall as a Crimson Lion in cataphractii armour. The haft was formed from wood gathered from the Ironwood trees Mycenae, with an adamantium core to prevent the wood from snapping. On the base Hectarion had placed a roaring bears head made of iron. However, the head of the maul was the true piece of art. Held up by four bears made of iron, the head was made of a type of gold he'd heard referred to as "Blood gold" or "Rose gold". The head shone a red gold and on every side, there was a Mycenaean rune of protection, filled in with silver. While Hectarion had once thought such things to be supersticious nonsense, on those occasions that his legion had fought pyskers, the runes had seemed to help. And so, Hectarion had included them in this weapon for his brother, so that, should his brother ever face the horrors of the Warp, he would return unscathed. Hectarion would not wish the touch of the warp on anyone. The final aspect of the head were the spikes which came out of the head. Each one was made of adamantium from his old axe, Lions Bite. The final part of the maul was the leather wrappings around the base of the haft, stained black.
When Hectarion lifted up the maul, something which even he found difficult to do, he smiled. For a brief moment as he was looking for any fault in the weapon, he thought he felt a shadow at his side and a cold fenrisian wind upon his skin, a stark contrast with the heat of the forge. He thought he could hear Russ' laughter and Freki or Geri's growls. Then, the moment was gone. He was alone in the forge once more. Yes, this weapon would do. Finnally, the last of Hectarions closest brothers had a weapon that was worthy of him.
Legions: Crimson Lions, Iron Bears
Time: N/A M.30
Two boarding pods smashed into the side of the ork vessel. As the ramps descended, the orks charged and unleashed a withering hail of fire that would have killed any normal space. However, it was not any normal space marine that was carried inside. Roaring, Hectarion Mycenor, primarch of the Crimson Lions, charged out of the boarding pod, revving Godstooth. In seconds, limbs were flying.
Mere moments behind him was Dear'dd, primarch of the Iron Bears. Unusually, Dear'dd was wielding a massive maul, easily as tall as a space marine in full cataphractii plate. As his brother hacked and sliced through the orks, Dear'dd swung his maul and batted orks aside as though they were ants. 12 seconds after they had first left the boarding pod, every ork in the area, over 189 greenskins, was dead. As two more boarding pods impacted and began to disgorge members of Dear'dds Totem Guard and Hectarions Myramodons, Dear'dd walked over to Hectarion, grinning. "You're getting slow brother" he said "Once upon a time the orks would have all been dead before I even got off the boarding pod". Hectarion grinned back and said "Bah I just wanted to leave some for you to test your new maul". As their bodyguards joined them, Hectarion said "How about a race? Who can getthe enemy commander first" and stuck out his hand. Dear'dd, still grinning, took his wrist and said "If you wish brother". Hectarion turned his head towards a pack of orks who were coming towards them, then back to Dear'dd and raised an eyebrow.
With that, the two gods of war rushed forward towards the orks, their bodyguards desperately trying to keep up and failing. As the two primarchs reached the orks, limbs went flying, as did ork bodies broken by Dear'dds maul. When their bodyguards reached the site, it was all over and the primarchs were already moving on again. One of the Myramodons, brother Brennus, sighed. This always happened when Hectarion and Dear'dd fought together.
As the primarchs fought their way through the ship, they left a trail of ork bodies, either torn apart or simply smashed aside, that their bodyguards could follow. Nothing the Myramodons and Totem Guard found was still alive. When the two bodyguard reached the bridge, they found Hectarion surrounded by ork nobz, who had either been carved apart by Godstooth or had their skulls smashed by Hectarion shield. Dear'dd was at what seemed to pass for a command throne, gore covering his right hand and an orks headless body beside him.
An inner agony
Legions: Crimson Lions, Jade General
Time: N/A M.30/M.31
Hectarion growled as he demolished the fourth practice cage in as many hours. Even after he'd torn the mechanisms apart, he continued to pulverise the machine until its component parts were nothing but balls of metal and wire. The Jade General, Izumras, a monicker that had stuck, always had this effect on him. Izumras brought him both peace and agony at the same time. He made Hectarion feel completely calm, obliterating the molten core of anger that lurked in the darkest parts of Hectarions heart. However, at the same time, he made Hectarion feel as though his mind was being ripped into a million pieces. Because of this, Hectation tended to try and avoid contact with his brother.
As Hectarion finished crushing the training device, another figure walked into the training deck. Hectarion grimaced as the pain returned. He didn't need to see him to know who the figure was. None the less, he turned to greet his brother. Forcing a smile, he said "Hello brother. We don't often see you down here". His brother nodded, slowly, unhurriedly and said "I profit from the moments of peace our kind find instead of preparing for the next war". As Izumras hefted one of the practice blades scaled to a primarchs size, he indicated the practice cage and said "Shall we?". Hectariom shrugged and said "If you wish", taking a practice blade for himself too. As the two began duelling, with small moves, testing the others reactions and awareness, Izumras asked "You seem pained by my presence. I thought our father banished the deamon from your soul?". Hectarion gritted his teeth as his brother made a deft strike that caught him off guard. As he responded with a series of hammer blows, he said "He did. For that I'm thankfull". Izumras nodded, as though he knew this already, and said "You have no latent pyschic ability and you are still pained by my presence. Why is that?". Hectarion shrugged as he batted aside an attempted killstrike and struck back. "I don't know. A hangover from my brush with the denizens of the Warp? Who knows". Izumras parried Hectarions strike, nodding again. Hectarion expended all of his energy on a flurry of blows that should have been kill strikes. However, the Jade General simply wove aside before coming up, his blade pointing at Hectarions throat.
Hectarion threw his practice blade down at his brothers feet and left the practice cage, walking away to some other part of the ship. The Jade General watched his brother depart. It was as he'd feared.
Legion: Crimson Lions
Time: N/A M.30/M.31
Amidst the enormous, vaulted oak walls and marble memorial plaques of the Gallery of the Fallen stood a single, lone figure in dark red battle plate, his crested helm held under one army and his chainblade sheathed at his side. Nathaniel Garro, a Rix of the III legion looked at the plaque commemorating those lost on Ivrax sadly. So many names, so many fine warriors who would never march again. Asgar Kritius, Solun Decius, Meric Voyen, Erud Vahn, Kalaeb Molor, Sollan Gath, Autek Mor...so many warriors lost for the gain of a single world, so many bright lives extinguished. Many of Garro's closest brothers had perished on Ivrax, choking on their dissolving lungs or burnt alive. Garro had endured. His gaze moved to another plaque. Infernus. A volcanic world of constantly shifting tectonic plates, Infernus had cost Garro what few close brothers had remained to him, the savage orks of that world killing them. Not even their bodies or gene seed were retrieved, immolated as they were by rivers of lava. All that remained of them were their names, etched in gold filigree onto this memorial plaque. Ullis Temeter, Shadrak Smythe, Vermanus Cybos, the Cthonians Luc Siderae and Garviel Loken. It was a paltry memorial to such fine warriors. While the Iron Bears had also suffered heavy losses on Infernus and Garro had grieved for their deaths, it wasn't their deaths that had left him cold. Ever since his oldest brothers perished on Infernus, Garro was incapable of feeling the bonds of brotherhood as he once had. Their deaths left him a cold and lonely figure, always set apart from his brothers by their lack of understanding. After all, how could any of them understand what it had been like to fight in the Unification Wars? Or what it had been like to take the first steps into space of any Terran in millenia? So Garro spent much of his time outside of combat in this gallery, remembering his brothers who were long since forgotten by most others. After all, who remembers the dead if they did not know them in life?
Garro's gaze snapped away from the memorial wall as the claxon sounded. They were exiting out of the warp. Garro's brotherhood was in the first wave alongside the Inroiar. Clamping his helm in place and picking up his boarding shield, Garro made a fist and clanged it against his breastplate in a salute to his dead brothers, saying "Till Valhal". Until the end. The III's battle cry. Garro's brothers had died fighting until the end. Garro would do the same. Whether today, tommorrow, next month or next year, he would die eventually, violently and then he too would go unremembered. That was just a fact of life. Garro marched out of the Gallery of the Fallen. Someday he would join his brothers in death and his name too would be recorded on a memorial plaque but it wasn't there yet and he still had a duty to do.
Legions: Lightning Bearers, Halycon Wardens, Crimson Lions
Time: N/A M.30
Alexandros Darshan vonSalim strode down the ramp of the stormbird that had carried him and his Myrimodons to the surface. Behind him, dozens more stormbirds were landing, disgorging rank upon rank of Halycon Wardens and Lightning Bearers onto the grassy surface of this world and beside him the Emperor of Mankind and Icarion the Stormborn were marching out of similair stormbirds. On this occasion, the Emperor was clad in his magnificent gold armour but was, thankfully, not emitting the blinding glow he normally did on formal occasions. I don't like this world came the whisper of the Stormborn's voice in Alexandros' mind There's something wrong here. This place stinks of the warp. Alexandros nodded and replied I don't like it either but if father suspects one of our brothers is here.... Looking around him, Alexandros observed that there were wild animals watching them from amongst the trees. While a normal human would have had trouble seeing them, Alexandros had no such problems. They looked like enormous wolves, each one, by Alexandros' estimate, easily capable of killing an astartes. Lovely wildlife he said to Icarion, who replied I'd noticed. Yet another reason to not like this world.
Then, a large group of individuals emerged from the trees in front of them and as Alexandros watched it just grew larger. By his estimate, there were at least 40,000 individuals in front of them and at their head was an enormous figure, taller and broader than both Icarion and Alexandros and they were wearing battle plate. Behind the figure an enormous lion fur cloak was billowing in the wind and in the figures left hand was a round shield, similar to that wielded by all the other warriors Alexandros could see but scaled up to suit his size, and in his right was a similairly large axe. Our lost brother evidently said Alexandros to Icarion. It's our brother in body only replied the Stormborn I sense two different personalities inside him. There's our brother and then something else. A warp entity. Looking more closely at the figure, Alexandros saw that Icarion was right. However, there was more. The two beings were locked in a battle over who controlled the body. And his brother was losing. From the frown on their father's face, Alexandros saw that his father had seen it too. Seeing what would happen next in his mind, Alexandros roared "Phalanx!" over the vox to his warriors, who immediately began form up. In front of him, Alexandros' brother and his warriors did the same, locking their shields together. Then, hundreds of horns blew and the army of his brother charged, their war cries forming into one giant wall of sound which crashed into Alexandros and the astartes as if it were a physical wall and the horns horrifying shrieks were enough to chill Alexandros' blood. And they charged.
While the astartes and Custodes opened fire and their bolter shells slammed into the front rank of the shield wall, felling hundreds of enemy warriors, while some, to Alexandros' horror and surprise, seemed to ignore the mass reactives exploding in their flesh and charge on through them. However, these warriors, doubtless driven my the enormous amounts of adrenaline pumping through their bodies, closed the distance faster than Alexandros would have thought possible and the front ranks slammed into the massed ranks of astartes, who just barely managed to retain their formation, as men from the rear ranks leapt over their comrades in the front and landed in the midst of the Halycon Wardens(those who weren't shot to pieces with bolter fire before they could land). Beside Alexandros, a Halycon Warden went down, a blade buried in his neck. However, over the entire front the astartes were now getting the better of the fighting, their superior armour and physique kicking in and these savage tribesmen, in spite of their insane bravery, were being felled in their hundreds as the V and I blasted mass reactives into them at point blank or drove combat blades through their bodies and the tribesmen's own blades had little effect on the astartes' armour. Then, Alexandros heard an inhuman roar of regret and agony rip across the battlefield. The sound was so horrendous that it caused both tribesman and astartes to cease fighting. Looking for the source of the noise, Alexandros soon found it.
At the Emperor's feet lay the figure who had led the tribesmen's charge, his massive form bent over and gently rocking back and forth as tears streamed from his eyes down to the earth. Looking inside his brother's mind, Alexandros saw broken honour, injured pride, unimaginable agony but most of all he saw horror and regret. He heard the same phrase being repeated over and over again Forgive me.... Then, in an ethireal voice, at once calm and subdued but at the same time imbued with power and the weight of ages, the Emperor said "Hectarion Mycenor, my son, you have endured much suffering and pain before I reached you. I have banished what I could of the warp entity gripping your soul, now, know peace". As the agony within his brother subsided, Alexandros saw Hectarion kneel before the Emperor and whisper a single word. "Father...".
Legions: I can't be bothered to list them all
Time: N/A M.31
An enormous cheer erupted from the members of the Lightning Bearers who were in attendance as their champion knocked Eritos of the XIX down onto the ground, the dust of Mycenae sullying his pearl white plate. Out of the corner of his eye, Hectarion thought he saw a small smile tug at the corners of Icarion's mouth and small scowl spoil the features of Pionius. Hectarion grinned. He couldn't help but find the brotherly rivalry that these celebrations brought to the fore amusing. Turning to Dear'dd, Hectarion said "What was that you were saying about Eritos' footwork and posture again brother?" causing Dear'dd to grunt and reply "I knew I shouldn't have started betting with you on matters of warfare..." causing Hectarion to shrug and say "Not my fault I'm the most experienced warrior here". As the Lightning Bearer knelt before the Primarchs and the Emperor, prior to taking his leave of the arena, Hectarion stood up and shouted "A toast to the victor!", a statement which drew great shouts of approval from the Iron Bears and Crimson Lions, less so from the Scions and the legionaires of more "civilized" worlds. After having downed his cup of nerith in one, and as the Lions proceeded to do the same, Hectarion turned to Dear'dd and said "Your turn brother" with a grin. Groaning, Dear'dd followed suit, barely stopping himself from exploding into a coughing fit, a feat not managed by all his warriors. His head swimming slightly from alcohol consumption, and trying to ignore the smiling face that nerith was causing him to see the Sun as, Dear'dd, with a noticeable slur in his voice, said"How the hell do you lot drink that stuff on a regular basis?". Alexandros, who was also suffering from the intoxicating efffects of nerith, said "Perhaps Mycenaeans are simply a tougher bunch than you Huronians?" before giggling. While this took a few moments to sink in, when it had, Daer'dd stood up and, slamming his fist into his chest, shouted "Not possible! I'll give you tough in a minute you prissy diplomat!" making a lunge for Alexandros before being restrained by Pionius, who(due to a refusal to drink) was still sobre and so far steadier on his feet than most of his brothers. Once Daer'dd had been persuaded to sit back down, he noticed the askara steaks that had been brought in by a servitor and picked up a whole tray, saying to Alexandros, "I'll deal with you when I've finished these", before picking up the tray and attempting to pour the steaks down his throat. This made Pionius raise his eyebrows in disgust as he said "You honestly expect that to work?". Ceasing his battle to shove as many steaks down his throat at once as he could Dear'dd turned to Pionus and circling an arm round his shoulder said, whilst attempting to keep chewing, "Of course. Why wouldn't it? Alcohol makes anything possible!" before resuming his quest for more food. Clapping for the next winner, a Crimson Lion, Pionius said "Quite" then turning said "Where's Hectarion?". Pointing to the corner of the Imperial podium Alexandros said "Brawling with Raktra and Morro, what else?" before sniggering at some joke he'd just whispered to Icarion, one with which the Stormborn seemed less than impressed. Turning in his seat, Pionius saw that Alexandros had been right. Hectarion currently had Morro in a headlock whilst smashing Raktra's right hand into his face over and over again saying "Why you hitting yourself?".
Malcador said to the Emperor "Isn't it wonderful to have the whole family together?" before dodging a gravy float that someone had just thrown across the podium. Turning from observing Gwalchavad giving a tipsy lecture to the Jade General(who was formulating a plan to have a suit of jade armour made so that he could finally be sparkly) on the correct way to make a necklace of roses before being hit by the stray gravy float and soaked in gravy, the Emperor said "Quite. Do we still have the extra strong nerith Hectarion gave me for my last birthday?". Malcador nodded. The Emperor, by now observing Morro trying to chat up the goldfish and Niklaas and Dear'dd attempting to make a helmet out of discarded cups, said "Bring it up. I'm going to need it".
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Malcador watched in carefully-masked awe as the Emperor casually necked another goblet of Nerith like it was water, quietly sipping on his own drink as the Master of Mankind drowned his paternal frustration.
Down in the arena a new pair of combatants had started their bout and Malcador watched with disinterest as a Berzerker of Uran named Wraxx futilely sought to bring his opponent, a Warden of Light by the name of Maccal, to heel. The golden form of the Warden agilely weaved back-and-forth between the Berzerker's wild swings, driving his foe to greater heights of fury as every missed swing of Wraxx's snarling Eviscerator was answered by a stinging cut from Maccal's Power Tonfas. Each wound was only small, but Malcador could tell the placement of the strikes were deliberate, with every slice the Warden was destroying vital servos, actuators and other components necessary to the wearer's mobility.
Malcador gave a slight smirk at Maccal's daring, if arrogant, strategy, he was going for a paticularly dramatic victory that would drive the crowd wild and keep them talking for months by leaving Wraxx immobilised and unable to continue the fight within his crippled armour. A completely bloodless victory, not to mention humiliating for his opponent. Truly, Malcador thought to himself, Gwalchavad's legion have inheirited their father's pacifistic streak, if not his sense of good sportsmanship.
A cry of disappointment roared through the crowd however as the Berzerker finally grew wise (though some would call such a thing paradoxical) to the Warden's tricks, catching Maccal in the gut with a powerful knee as he sought to duck under a two-handed swing of the Eviscerator. Stilling reeling and winded from the hit the Warden had no time to recover as Wraxx seized his chance, leaping atop his stunned foe and beating him relentlessly with the thick handguard of the weapon, shattering the Warden's eye lenses and denting his helmet under the brutal assault. Even as the Custodes referees declared Wraxx the victor via knockout he still thrashed at the unconscious Maccal for a moment before reluctantly standing to acknowledge his win. Malcador gave a hurrumph of bemusement, he hadn't expected the Berzerker to win, despite the Warden's reckless strategy, a surprising turn of events.
To his right Daer'dd roared with drunken enthusiasm as the next pair of champions entered the arena, one in the bronze-and-sable of his own Iron Bears, the other in the amethyst-and-rose of Alexandros's Halcyon Wardens. Immediately he and Alexandros began to alternate between cheering for their sons and arguing with each other, whilst Pionius and Hectarion quickly exchanged bets. A slight smile crossed Malcador's wizened features at their childish bickering, Brothers through and through, he thought to himself.
"Leman would have loved this."
Malcador quickly turned to reprimand whoever had uttered that name but stopped as he realised it was the Emperor himself who had spoken. With shock he saw his liege-lord's features bore a sad, wistful expression that Malcador had never seen before. "My lord?" He asked cautiously, the Emperor was leant back in his throne, head resting on one hand as he downed what Malcador noticed was his forthgoblet-full of Nerith.
"Leman." The Emperor said quietly "He would have loved it, all of us together like this... Eating, drinking, watching duels." He gave a hollow chuckle. "Magnus too, although he'd never admit it. He'd complain and refuse to socialise, he'd call it a waste of time, an exercise in barbarism with no productive outcome."
Malcador listened intently, his Master rarely shared anything personal, let alone something like this. The wistful cheer faded from the Emperor's expression, replaced entirely by a look of sorrow that struck Malcador harder than he'd like to admit. "I miss them." He whispered quietly, the roar of the oblivious crowd sounding so distant in that moment.
Suddenly, a comforting hand gently placed itself upon the Emperor's right shoulder, causing both of them to look up. Icarion the Stormborn gave the Emperor a sympathetic smile, though his azure eyes betrayed the same pain as his father's. "Icarion..." He began, but Icarion held up a hand for him to stop. "No father, no looking back, you know they wouldn't want that." Icarion replied, his tone soft but firm. Malcador watched in silence as the Emperor gave a low sigh, slowly nodding his head in concession. "Hmm, you are right my son, I must not wallow in the past... Now then, shall we return to the match at hand and see if Daer'dd has regained any of his dignity?"He said, giving Icarion a genuine grin that the Stormborn returned before the pair returned their gaze to the arena.
Malcador found himself staring at then for a moment before following suit, still processing this rare moment of... Humanity, he decided, from his liege. In all his millenia of service he'd almost never seen his master like that, an all-too-brief glimpse at the man buried beneath the titanic power & radiance of the Emperor's persona. He was snapped out if his thoughts by a roar of disappointment from the crowd as the two champions below collapsed, apparently having knocked each other unconcious simultaneously, much to their Primarchs' joint exasperation.
As the Custodes declared the match a draw and the combatants were removed from the field, Malcador found himself smiling as he took another sip of wine, a day of surprises indeed.
You're in the Lions now
Legion: Which do you think?
Time: N/A M.30/M.31
Vericos whooped in joy. Waves splashed across the longships bough, soaking him. Not that he would have noticed. The storm had been raging for hours, rain beating down so hard it felt like an axe beating against your helmet and the god Franí had been hurling down bolts of lightning, yet none had hit the Grudith longship yet. Despite all these dangers, the waves, the tipping of the ship, the lightning, Vericos whooped, gripping the rigging for support as another wave crashed across the bough. Nothing could dampen his spirits. He and his fellow tribesmen had been away for 3 years, fighting for the Thírí since they were 13, a pledge their tribe had made when defeated in battle. In all those years, Vericos had never forgotten his home, the frozen lakes and snow in winter and the storms in summer. Above all however, Vericos remembered the breeze on his face as he stood above the lake beside his father and uncle. Raising his falcan above his head, Vericos whooped and shouted "I'M COMING HOME!" at the top of his lungs and laughing. He had waited three years to return, three years to feel the cool breeze upon his face, three years to see the father, mother and sisters he had left behind in going to fight. Surely now, after all those years, nothing could kill him. Laughing as lightning lit up the sky once more, Vericos saw a flash of red and bronze dart across the sky, one of the gods servants surely. Truly, the gods were on their side, they had even sent a servant to watch over Vericos and his comrades. Then beside their longship Vericos saw a jet black group of scales emerge from the sea. A drakfaraigge. Waving his falcan, Vericos said "Hello my friend" chuckling as he did so.
Then, Darros appeared at Vericos' side and clapped him on the shoulder saying "We're nearly home. We've made it" with a grin. Turning to where Darros was looking, Vericos saw mountains. Land! Home! Vericos' dreams had come true! He was home! Standing up on the prow of the ship, his only real purchase being the rigging, Vericos shouted in triumph and roared out "Father! I'm coming home!". Cutting his palm, Vericos put his hand in the water, letting the salt water wash the wound clean and take his essence to the halls of Franí in thanks for the safe journey. However, then, an enormous head rose from beneath the waves, onyx black with a pair of jade green eyes. Rising 8 metres out of the water, the beasts head was huge and this wasn't even its full size. "DRAKFARAIGGE" roared Darros before the creature picked him and Osulf up into its maw and sent them down to its belly. Vericos growled and sprinted to where he'd placed his drakhook. Drakfaraigge were tough, tougher than even the mighty Stone Lions, but he'd been through too much to give up now. Seeing the flash of red and bronze again and another flash of lightning, Vericos shouted "THE GODS ARE WITH US! DON'T GIVE IN!" to his fellow warriors. However, then something happened none of them could have expected. The drak brought its tail up high above their ship and brought it crashing down, destroying the mast and sail, splitting the ship in two before the beast dissapeared beneath the waves again. Gripping the rigging for all he was worth, Vericos refused to fall off the boat and into the water. He couldn't die this way...not when he was so close...
The drakfaraigge rose from beneath the waves again. Vericos snarled. If he had to die, he would do it with a sword in his hand and fighting. Hauling himself upon onto what was left of the prow, Vericos unhooked the drakhook from his belt and threw it, hooking the drakfaraigge through one of its nostrils. The beast howled in pain. Smiling grimly, Vericos leapt from tje prow, holding himself away from the waves through upper body strength alone and began to hack at what passed for the animals neck. He only got one good chop in though before the beast flung its head back and him upwards, catching him in its jaws, the sword sized pieces of bone sinking deep into his flesh. Vericos howled, half from agony, half in frustration. He couldn't have come this far for nothing!
Drawing his dagger, Vericos plunged it deep into the creatures jade eye, causing it to release him as it went back into the depths. While he tried to keep his grip on the hook, the effort was too much for his weary, bleeding and mangled body and he had to let go. Using the last of his strength, he swam up to the surface to catch one last glimpse of the mountains and one last breath of air before he vanished beneath the waves for the last time, his spirit flying to the halls of Hados. As he rose he saw the mountains rising up in front of him. Grinning, he fell back into the oceans icy embrace. He wouldn't see the lakes, or the snow or feel the breeze upon his cheek, the pleasure of a woman beside him, not anymore. But, at least he'd had one last fight before he died and what warrior could ask for more? He would be happy to go to Hados' hall with this as an end to his tale, the drakfaraigge's pain as his legacy. Smiling, he surrendered to the ocean, to the darkness. Then, he felt himself lifted up by cold hands and felt himself laid upon the wind, his blood pooling around him. Looking up, he saw one of the Bassi above him. He reached out to touch its face as it said "Well done young warrior. You have earned your place by our side and be re born, to wage war in the stars alongside the gods". Smiling as he sank into darkness, Vericos said "Hados, I come to join you".
Prepare for boarding
Legions: Crimson Lions, Halycon Wardens, Berserkers of Uran
Time: N/A M.31
Warning claxons sounded all across the Lupa Sanguis as word spread that Berzerker boarding pods were on their way, each one filled with dozens of Raktra's mad progeny. Achilos rushed to the nearest predicted impact point relative to his position. When he was there he saw that there already two dozen aishetari as well as a heavy support squad. As the commander of this gathering turned to face Achilos, the metal floor beneath their feet shook and molten metal flew everywhere. As soon as the door began to open, the Lion opened fire, their commander roaring for them to form up. However, when Achilos went to join them, their commander, a grizzled old veteran called Faian, said "Not you Warden. Hurry to the bridge, you can't die in a mere holding action". The door was almost fully open as Achilos stated "The Halycon Wardens never run" only to be surprised as Faian shoved him back and said "Tjey do from this!" before throwing a glance over his shoulder to where heavy bolter fire was pouring into the boarding pod. Surely, nothing could survive that could it? Achilos was snapped out of his revery by Faian shoving him again and shouting for him to run before calling to his men to form up. Bemusedly, Achilos wondered why. No ordinary thing could survive the barrage of fire the pod had been subjected to. However, it wasn't any ordinary thing the pod carried. Bursting out from the pod roaring came Raktra, primarch of the Berzerkers, heavy bolter shots pinging off his armour as he bulldozed his way through the Aishetari, smashing Faian to one side only for him to dissapear beneath a crowd of Berzerkers, hacking at him like meat.
Suddenly, a legionnaire of the VII charged at Achilos, forcing Achilos to decapitate him with his power sword. However, a second one came at him but was tackled to the ground by an Aishetaros whose face had been hacked apart so savagely that nothing but a flew flaps of skin remained, the rest being raw red muscle, contrasting with the whites of his eyeballs. The marine then slammed his fist into the Berzerkers face until the ceramite splintered and brain matter spilled out onto the deck. Standing up, the Aishetaros shouted "RUN!" at Achilos before shoulder charging a Berzerker and slamming him into the wall, driving a looted chain axe to chew through the marines neck. Whereas his fellow Wardens would have conducted the battle with strategy, Achilos could only look on in horror as these two legions hammered each other, two unstoppable forces colliding and neither giving way. Where the Wardens sought to minimise loss of life, these two legions fought each other with rage, hatred and brute force, and they fought with more hatred and savagery than ever before against men they would once have called brother.
With bitter shame, Achilos turned and fled from the boarding action, finally honoring Faian's wish. With the exit to the ship's interior on the other side of the melee, Achilos ran along the hull to find safer passage. Gripping his power sword and his shield, the Warden sergeant longed to be with his brothers. Yet, to earn the rank of Lieutenant, he had to join the Legion Exchange service. Achilos was nearing the end of his term aboard the Lupa Sanguis when the Insurrection filled the galaxy with war. Unable to secure transportation back to his legion, Achilos had fought besides the Lions ever since.
Stepping into an ammunition depot, he scanned the area before deeming it clear, rushing toward the hallway leading inward to the ship. He was only three steps from it before the room shook as another pod slammed into the ship. In only seconds, more Berserkers would be filling the room, and though a veteran, Achilos doubted his ability to hold them back. His eye caught the storage container next to him and realized it was filled with meltabombs. The pod doors exploded open as Achilos sliced off the top with his sword. Bolts rang against his shield as the first of the Berserkers charged out. Grabbing and activating one of the bombs, Achilos threw it in the Berserkers' direction before sprinting through the bulkhead before spinning around to make a stand. The hastily thrown projectile flew past the invaders and hit the wall where it exploded.
The rush of oxygen signaled a hull breach. While filled with psychotic rage, the Sons of Uran were cunning and merely activated their grav-boots, laughing at the lone Warden. Their humor was brief when the emergency bulkheads activated, sealing off the room. Figuring he had bought the ship a few more seconds, Achilos went back running towards the bridge.
Edited by Sigismund229, 18 March 2016 - 08:28 PM.