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REF TALE - The stories

Brotherhood of the Lost Lost and Forgotten Alternate Heresy

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#26
Raktra

Raktra

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Fracture
Author: C'est moi!
Legion: Berserkers of Uran (Raktra)

"My lord," the data-servitor croaked, a skin of dust shedding with the unexpected movement of its head. Malcador waved away a serf to address the matter personally.
"Is it them?" He asked, his voice almost wavering from a sudden rush of anxiety.
"Confirmed. Contact established with the Hooded Guillotine." A slow breath left Malcador's lips, the combination of the room temperature and psychic shiver causing a small layer of frost to temporarily form on his wrinkled lips. Three months silence from the primarch and his legion finally broken, a scramble to gather the High Lords and summon the Warmaster himself to commune with his wayward brother.
"After this time, may he yet be returned to us?" Wondered Malcador, daring to hope.
It was scarcely five minutes since the signal had been received, but the hammering of his ancient heart and the monotonous drone of data-devouring servitors stretched this into an eternity. As what could only be a breaking point was reached, the door to the chamber split open, and Alexandros entered the room.
All sound, what little there was, ended. His psychic aura soothed everything around him, all bowing heads in reverence, all shying their unworthy eyes from his glory. He bade Malcador stand beside him.
"Servitor," he said, at once soft and booming. "Open the link."

A few moments of flickering, distance between Terra and wherever the Berserkers may be interfering momentarily. A few quick flicks of hololithic symbols boosted by a psychic pulse from Alex and the image solidified, Raktra's face coming into view almost as clear as if he were there in person.
"Warmaster." The word came laden with distaste. Though barely an expression could be seen behind the mask, Raktra's eyes blazed. "I want to share a series of thoughts with you that I've had recently. The nature of the crusade, of the legions, of our father." He began to walk, but the camera stayed focussed just on his head and shoulders. "The Emperor told me when I was found, that part of his grand vision for mankind was the removal of religion. The abolition of the belief in gods and deities, to keep the destructive nature of faith in check. And yet, he continues to preach about the human form." A strangled sound came from somewhere off-screen, quickly silenced. "He made the Thunder Warriors, he made the primarchs, he made the astartes. All men that hail from a kingdom a level above human. Only shackled to humanity in the most token of ways. But so many of us have been censored for trying to bring ourselves beyond even that, emulating his actions, to bring greater hell upon the enemies of Mankind. All under the guise of preventing perversion of the sacred human form." He laughed. "'Sacred'. How ironic that a word so deeply rooted into religious teaching would be his choice to define the race." Raktra pointed to his eyes. "You all know what my legion can do, that I do greater than all others. I see every weakness of the flesh laid bare before me. Every old cut, once-broken bone, every nerve cluster. I see better than any can comprehend the imperfection of man, and know better that we can always strive to improve. But you shackle us with damned decrees and ivory tower hypocrisy."
"Raktra-" began Alex.
"I. Am. Talking!"
The camera now pulled back as another grunt of pain came, and now the source was revealed - a marine Alex knew to be a chaplain of the legion, forced to his knees with his arms shackled, the back of his head gripped tightly by Raktra.
"And now you have this," he waved his arm and suddenly a dozen more feeds sprang up, lining the room. All those still possessed of sentience felt their jaws drop. The entire chaplain corps, over one hundred astartes, were lined up and restrained in the same manner as the one kneeling in front of the primarch.
"The chaplains. Forced upon us because he disliked our ideals, to enforce his will and spread his word. Again the painful religious irony rears. He insists that none refer to him as a god, but he demands worship and sacrifice in his name. He professes that faith is a cancer, but thrusts priests upon us to keep us in line. He denied a heaven or hell, but sent us against angels and daemons in his name." Raktra's grip moved from the back of his prisoner's head to the scalp. "All that he ever taught is a lie. Nothing but plastic shamans dispensing false wisdom from your pulpits, hiding behind a human shield and mask of honour."
Raktra raised a fist, and as one the Berserkers who stood behind their chaplains stepped forward, hands placed either side of their captives' heads.
"Brother," Alex tried once more. "I implore you-" Raktra cut him off again.
"We were never brothers." His other hand now placed itself on the chaplain's head.
"No gods. No masters."
A chorus of cracks rang out, like branches in the wind, and the feed cut out.
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#27
AlphariusOmegon108

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"I was there. I was there when the god fell, I was there when the primarch broke... I was there when our legion fell.

I looked into darkness' eye, I looked into the maws of hell. I saw the darkness inside, the hell in my brothers.

I tried to fight the evil, tried to save a few. I tried to kill my primarch, I tried to break my herritage.

I come from a broken legion, I come from a broken man. My legion has fallen, and I have slowly died. I died in the arms of a shadow, and now only my light shall remain.

My candle of light shall lead the way for the others, the few still loyal to the god-emperor himself..."
Takar, the reborn, first of the Aztekis circle, foremost amongst the surviving loyalists of the doomed eagle warriors.

Check out my commision work on facebook:  https://www.facebook.../DeamonsAtWork/

feel free to shoot me a PM with guestions or with commisions you want to have done smile.png

 

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#28
Big Bad Squig

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The Fall

Big Bad Squig

Godslayers

 

Daer’dd lay sprawled across Koschei’s chamber.  Again.  The familiar pool of blood slowly expanded across the metal floor, making the shape of an oval from which three spikes grew, two on the left and one on the right.  The hole in his brother’s chest glared accusingly at him.  You, it said.  You did this.  Koschei turned away, removing his chestplate and placing it on a table.

                “This was necessary,” came the expected reply.  The Legionnaire, as he was known in Koschei’s mind, stood staring.

                “Necessary,” he repeated, motionless in his charred orange armour.

                “Necessary?”  Koschei spat.  “Look what I have done!  Look!”

                He jabbed a finger at Daer’dd.  Daer’dd did not respond, nor did he ever.  Simply lying there, appearing dead.  He was not.  Koschei knew.  Dead men’s faces did not hold the contempt that his brother’s did.  Smirking, eyes wide and glassy.

                “Your ‘father’ is a tyrant,” the Legionnaire respond calmly.  “What you did was necessary to halt his unjust slaughter.  Had we not acted, the Primarchs would be dead by the Emperor’s hand.  I know you have heard the whispers, although you block them out.  The Primarchs would be dead, and your ‘father’ would rule this corrupt galaxy alone.”

                “Would that I were dead!”  Koschei said, looming over the spectre.  “I deserve to be!”

                The Legionnaire did not respond.

                “I cannot.  Not anymore.  I refuse.”

                “Refuse to what, coward?”

                “To follow Icarion.  To kill the innocent in the name of a dead man.”

                Koschei glared at the spectre’s battered figure.

                “And to think of all I promised you,” the Legionnaire said wistfully.  “All I did, for nought.  No matter.  Your insolence is of no consequence.  Beregites chto vy khotite, Kharkovic.”

                Beware of what you desire.  Koschei looked up, only just in time to see the figure melting away into the air.

                “I am a man of my word,” the figure whispered.  Its words echoed around Koschei’s chamber for a moment, and then died.  The silence was absolute.  There was a finality in it where there had been none previously.

                “Brother,” Koschei whispered, not daring to look up at Daer’dd’s body.  “I will make this right.  I will make this right.”

                He closed his eyes.

                “I will make this right.”

                He exhaled.  Amongst the flurries of thoughts and plans in the Dreamer’s mind, there was a stillness.  He reached out for it.  Caught it in his hand.  He would make this right.

               

A sharp knock on Koschei’s door.  It swung open without affirmation.

                “Sire,” Karl Volkov hissed, his face red with fury.  “Zbruch is under attack.”

 

**********

                The atmosphere on board the Krylataya Pobeda was tense to say the least.  The Harbinger command had not been pleased about Kharkovic’s withdrawal to Zbruch with his legion, but by the time the message had arrived the Godslayers were already on their way.  Maksim Babichev stood as calmly as he could on the bridge amidst the flurry of activity.  Panicked legionnaires scrabbled past, readying for battle.

                “Lord!”  Babichev shouted over the discordant chatter.  “How long until arrival?”

                “Seven minutes,” came Volkov’s bellowed reply.  His expression was twisted, sour, and wholly unlike the unreadable, blank face he usually wore.  Babichev got to his feet, jogging towards his company’s marshalling point.  Pushing through the crowds, he spotted his men, Tenth and Thirteenth Squad, standing before the landers.  He sped up to reach them.  Coming crashing into a hunched, small figure.  It took him altogether too long to realise who it was.

                “Sire,” he said, dropping onto one knee.  “My apologies.”

                It was as if Kharkovic had not heard.

                “Sire?”

                “Sire?”

                The final shout got the Primarch’s attention.

                “Yes?  What is it, Maksim?”

                “I ran into you.”

                “Ah.”

                “My apologies, Sire.”

                Koschei shook his head.  “Go.  Go on to the landers.  We have a battle to prepare for.”

                Babichev nodded vigorously.  “For Zbruch!” he said, saluting.

                “For Zburch,” echoed the Primarch.

                “For Icarion!”

                “Indeed,” Kharkovic muttered, pushing on through the masses without another word.

                Babichev shook his head, striding to reach his men.

                “Come on!” one helmeted legionnaire shouted out, motioning for Babichev to step aboard and stretching out his hand.  “Come on Captain!”

                “Are we all present?” Babichev inquired, pulling himself into the craft with the legionnaire’s hand.

                “All present, Maksim,” Sergeant Brakhas answered.  “Readied for take-off.”

                Babichev sat in one of the grey seats, watching as the lighting flickered to life.  The voices from behind him of his men were hushed as a klaxon announced its message.

                “Thirty seconds to translation.  Ready macrocannons and shields.  For Zbruch and for Icarion!”

                Babichev’s eyes narrowed.  Remembering what the Primarch had said.  Indeed.  Indeed was not the respect due to the leader of the new Imperium.  Whatever Koschei’s statement had meant, Babichev had no time to ponder it, for at that moment, with a colossal, mechanical roar, the lander lunged free of the Krylataya Pobeda and into the depths of space.  Screens flickered to life at the transporter’s front end.  And what Maksim Babichev saw on those screens was like nothing he had ever seen before.

 

**********

                This was no xenos incursion; that much was certain.  The garbled calls for help that the Godslayers had received from the Zbruchan populace and even the solo message transmitted from the Caves of the Dead had described green skinned aliens, which even Kharkovic himself had taken to mean some variant of greenskin.  But as he looked out over Zbruch, Maksim Babichev saw no greenskin craft.  No craft at all, a fact that rendered almost all the preparations useless.  Nothing on which to train macrocannons, or at which to launch flurries of boarding torpedoes.  All that was there was a horrific, red tear and an ominous emptiness.

                The vox lit up with confusion.

                “What is this?” came Sergeant Brakhas’ question.  “Why were we called here?”

                A trap.  That was what Babichev’s mind reached for immediately.  This was the trickery of the Emperor, a selection of faked messages to lure away the bulk of a legion from the frontline.  And yet the tear remained.  It had the appearance of a day old wound, inflated and irritated.

                “I do not know, Sergeant,” Babichev admitted, clutching his chainblade for comfort.  He had a sudden feeling of loneliness, confined even as he was within a tight metal container filled with other legionnaires.  He chased it away.

                “Godslayers.”

                The word came loud and sudden over the shipwide vox channel.

                “Godslayers,” the voice repeated.  “This is your Primarch.  All ships are to descend into Zbruch’s atmosphere at once.  There can be no delay.  Whatever has done this is foreign, new, but there is no space for wondering at it, nor for sympathising with it.  Whatever has done this has attacked a world of innocents, and will pay the consequence.  For Zbruch!”

                Babichev allowed himself to smile.  Inspiring.  And yet.  A word missing.  A name.

                “Go!” he cried, standing and gesturing to the shuttle’s pilots.  “You heard the man!”

                At that, the craft plunged downwards into a full speed nosedive towards the grey world.  Babichev’s men braced, reaching to tighten buckles even further.  Babichev himself remained standing, observing as his past home grew to fill the monitor screen.

                “Ready for entry, brothers!” a pilot shouted only moments before the landing craft gave a colossal shudder.  The image on the screen was immediately replaced with harsh white flame.  Babichev bared his teeth against the heat, crushing the pole he had taken hold of for stability.  Cracking.  Shaking.  Burning heat.

                And then, as suddenly it had come, the entry process ended.  Babichev allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief.  Zbruch’s rocky plateaus unfolded beneath the craft as it sped towards Hive Primus.  The ship was part of the primary relief effort, under the command of the Primarch himself.  Maksim Babichev searched for villages or other signs of life dotted across the planet’s barren surface.  He saw none.  Then, smoke.

                “Slow down,” he ordered, jabbing at the point on the screen where the pillar of black rose from behind trees.  “Closer.  Get me closer.”

                The pilots dutifully brought the craft towards the smoke’s point of origin.  Even on the poor resolution of the screen, Babichev knew what he could see.  A burning village.  And at the centre, a heap of corpses.  Blackened by the flames.  This had been no trap.  This, Babichev realised, was real.

                “Captain!”

                Babichev turned.

                “Captain, are you hearing that?” It was Brackhas.  “Is it Zbruchan?”

                He paused for a moment, not understanding the question.  And then he heard.  It was a single word, a single muttered word over the vox-link.  Over and over, unending and insidious, and most definitely not Zbruchan.  NurglethNurglethNurgleth.

                “Not Zbruchan, my friend,” he replied with more courage than he possessed.  “Not Zbruchan at all.”

                Then, “Onwards!  We must reach Hive Primus.  And vox the others about the village.”

                He doubted anyone had chosen to listen to him in favour of the vox-ghost.

 

**********

                For Zbruch.  For Icarion.  Koschei had to stop himself from slamming his fist into the ground.  If he had thought his guilt had been punishment enough, he had been wrong.  The air above Hive Primus was clogged with the stink of fire and death, and the streets with bodies.  The worst thing about the experience was that not a single trace of the murderous attackers could be found.  None until now.

                Koschei stared at the thing, still unaware of the Primarch’s presence.  It was green; that much had been true.  It held a crude blade, and was covered in scratches and enflamed spots.

                “Greetings, diseased creature,” Koschei spat.  The thing turned.  Its stomach had been split open, and bloodied intestines dangled freely in the wind.

                “Do we speak to it, sire?” came an inquiry to the Primarch’s left from one of his Goliath retinue.

                Koschei did not answer.  Instead, he lashed out with his power fist into the alien’s chest, sending it careening into a drystone wall.  It left a golden stain on the grey as it crumpled.

                “No, my son,” he said.  “We do not.”

                A stunned silence.  Koschei ignored it as he moved on towards the ruined square.  He walked for a minute more, heading towards the site where the other companies had landed.  He did not expect good news.  The faces of the men who greeted him said that he would not receive it.  Across the square he could see ranks of legionnaires, Babichev’s men, picking through the rubble and corpses.  One turned over a boy, a slice bisecting his torso.

                “No traces, sire,” Babichev called once Koschei was close enough.  “The attackers are nowhere to be found.”

                “Correction, Maksim.”

                Koschei raised his fist, stained in golden liquid.

                “Ah.”

                “Primitive and pathetic.  However those things managed to take this city I do not know.”

                “The damage is not confined to the Hive, Lord Kharkovic,” replied an astartes poring over an auspex.  “The villages we passed on the way were similarly ransacked.”

                The Primarch’s face soured.  He ran a gauntleted hand through his grey hair.  “How many?” he asked.  “How many?”

                The question needed no further clarification.  It hung in the air for a moment, before Babichev himself grudgingly answered.

                “None.  No survivors.”

                Koschei closed his eyes, fists clenched.

                “Have they taken the world?”

                “No reports say otherwise, Sire.”

                The Primarch knelt amongst the bodies.

                “Where on Zbruch were you born, Captain?” he asked quietly, resting a hand on the rubble.

                “Sdradazkia, Sire.”

                Koschei smiled slightly.  “On the coast?”

                “A village a little east of it.  I remember it well.”

                “It is nought but carbon now.”

                None responded to this, hanging their heads slightly.

                “And all the people you remember there are dead.  Slaughtered all, like them.”

                He gestured to the bodies littering the ground.  And then, all as one, the bodies crawled to their feet.

 

**********

                Babichev let out a strangled gasp as he saw.  The bodies rose like puppets, turned towards the Godslayers.  Began lurching forth, arms raised, mouths slavering.  The closest legionnaire stood catatonic with confusion.  The Zbruchans seemed to seize on this, leaping upon them and biting at segments of armour.

                “Prival!  Prival! Mey Godslayer, mey Zbruch’dho, mey druz'ya,” barked Koschei, waving his arms.  Still the humans attacked, gnawing and clawing, dragging down even the mighty Space Marines with force of numbers and piling atop them.

                “Do we stop them?” Babichev asked over the vox, loading his bolter in preparation.

                “Wait!” came the Primarch’s reply.  Then:  “Prival!  Prival!  Mey druz’ya!”

                The bodies did not respond.  The first Godslayer died, his screaming cutting out abruptly.

                “Kill them!” Babichev ordered his company.  “Kill them!”

                The bolter fire begun.  Babichev revved his chainsword, running toward a fallen Goliath.  His armour was holding for now, but the onslaught was unending.  He swung downwards, bringing his blade through the closest of the attackers.  They were attackers and nothing more; any more thought was unbearable.  It fell.  He decapitated a second, but the body stood and scrambled towards him.  He hefted his boltgun, firing a round into the human’s chest.  The resulting explosion shredded his opponent, showering the surrounding area in gore.

                “Aim for the heart!” he exclaimed over the vox, before empting his clip into the last tangle of limbs pinning down the terminator.  The bodies were blasted free of Babichev’s brother, who leapt to his feet, reaching for his glaive.

                “Stop!”

                The shout was piercing and desperate.

                “Stop!”

                It was Koschei, eyes red and wild.

                “Stop it!”

                Babichev carved the arms free of another corpse moving to attack, ramming his chainsword through his attacker’s ribs.

                “Enough!” The Primarch was screaming now, hefting his dagger.  Babichev realised it was not directed at the Zbruchans.  “Please!  Please make it stop!”

                As if on his command, the corpses froze, locked in place by some invisible force.  And amidst this forest of bodies, a flash of orange.  The first fallen Godslayer clambered to his feet unsteadily.

                “Beregites chto vy khotite, Kharkovic.”

                It was the voice of an old friend.

 

**********

                It was him.  Koschei though at first that it was merely another vision, but the Godslayers stood still, watching on with shock.

                “Koschei Kharkovic,” the Legionnaire said.  “So glad to finally meet you.”

                “What are you?” the Primarch spat back, stepping forwards alone amongst the bodies.

                “Were you not listening?”

                Koschei stopped, confused for a moment.  Recognition flashed across the faces of the assembled Space Marines.

                “Nurgleth,” came the whispers, quiet at first, building into a chant.  “Nurgleth.  Nurgleth.”

                “Indeed,” responded the Legionnaire.  “Nurgleth is my name.”

                “Why are you here?” Koschei asked, infuriated, brandishing his knife.  “I was rid of you!  I have told you!  Over and over I have told you!  Leave me be!  I serve Icarion no more!

 

**********

                Of all the things that had transpired that day, to Babichev the revelation was unexpectedly unsurprising.  The legionnaire speaking to Kharkovic, Nurgleth, had been dead only moments ago.  Babichev’s home was under siege by invisible creatures that bled gold.  A disagreement between brothers was unimportant.

                “It was necessary,” replied Nurgleth, smiling.  The Primarch spat at the legionnaires feet, looming over the creature’s frail and battered body.  Babichev squinted against the light.  Coughed.

                “Why are you here?” Kharkovic repeated.  Nurgleth smiled again.

                “To make good on my promise.”

 

**********

                “Your promise.”

                “Correct,” Nurgleth said.  “My promise.  The promise I made to you so many years ago.  The promise for which you betrayed your father.”

                Koschei was vaguely aware of movement in the corner of his eye.

                “The promise for which you turned against your family.”

                A noise behind him went unnoticed.  Koschei’s vision was focused entirely on the creature standing before him.  On the dent on the left side of the warrior’s breastplate, where the dagger would slip through, cutting into one of the astartes’ hearts.

                “The promise for which you murdered your brother.”

                Koschei’s blade darted forwards.  Caught in mid-air by Nurgleth’s hand, pulled free of the primarch’s grip.  Snapped into two and cast aside.  He swung a colossal haymaker at the side of the Legionnaire’s skull.  The fist seemed to carve through nought but empty air.  Nurgleth remained where he was, staring on smugly.

                A shiver-inducing wail made Koschei turn.

 

**********

                Babichev clutched his forehead with both hands.  The light pierced his skull, burning into his brain.  He coughed again, tasting the red splatter that accompanied it.  He dropped to one knee, groaning once more with the pain.  The ground stank of noise, unending noise, assaulting Babichev from all directions.

 

**********

                It was Maksim, the Captain, on his knees and screaming.  Not only him, Koschei saw with horror.  It was every one, each and every Godslayer.  Screaming and holding their heads.

                “What have you done?” he demanded, attempting in vain to take hold of the Legionnaire.

                “I promised you I would make all men equal,” Koschei heard over the cries.  “And that I have.”

 

**********

                “Equal in death.”

                Those were the only words Babichev could discern amidst the mangled conglomeration of lights and sounds and pain.  He tried to answer, but it came out as nothing but a formless howl.  His entire body started to shake.  Fell to the floor.  Felt the cold stone against his face.  He opened his eyes.  For a moment he saw, and then all the colours and shapes and forms tangled themselves together in a bright, graceless mess of fear.  And then that too disappeared.

 

**********

                As Koschei’s sons shivered and died around him, the sickness and genius of Nurgleth’s joke surfaced.  He looked around for a moment at the thrashing mass of orange and grey and crimson in shock.  And then he began to laugh.  A harsh laugh that burned the throat as it left.  Koschei fell to his knees.  Rested his fist on the ground, immobilised by laughter.  And slowly it turned to tears, unstoppable tears and choked wails.  He placed his head quietly onto the ground, closing his eyes and weeping.

 

**********

                Maksim Babichev rose to his feet.  Looked down at the stains his blood had left on the ground.  A figure lay kneeling amongst the bodies.  He stretched out his arms, walking towards him slowly.

 

**********

                A gentle hand rested itself on Koschei’s shoulder.  He leant up, turning.  Rose to his feet.  It was Maksim.  His arms open.  Koschei smiled.  He took his son’s hand in his.

                “Maksim Babichev.”

                He saw Maksim look up through the tears.  Open his mouth.

                “Thank you for your service.”

                Koschei drew him into an embrace, hearing his teeth clatter together as he tried to bite at the Primarch’s exposed ear.  He lingered for a moment.  Then drew the combat knife from Maksim’s belt, pushing it slowly through his power armour until the movement stopped.  He let his body drop quietly down onto the floor.  And with that, he fled, pursued by the lumbering corpses as he retreated, weeping, into the ruined city.


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#29
simison

simison

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Tea Time

Author: simison
Legion: Warriors of Peace (Jade General) and Lightning Bearers (Icarion)
Time: 017.M31

 

~

 

As the Stormborn entered the chamber, the Jade General bowed before him. Some of his brothers were arrogant, believing they were second only to the Emperor. He was wiser. Even among brothers, some were better than others, and Icarion was truly a first among equals, regardless of who was Warmaster. "I welcome you to my sanctum, honorable lord."

Icarion bowed in return, though not as deeply. "I am honored to be welcomed here."

With duty satisfied, the Jade General gestured to a small table in the center of the room. Made from antique mahogany and carved with intricacies symbols of Han's history, the table stood less than a meter off the floor and no chairs attended to it. Instead, two cushions waited for them to sit, while a tea set occupied the table's surface. The Primarch's took their seats, Icarion first as custom demanded. 

To the Han, tea was not only a source of nourishment, but an avenue of honor as long as one could observe the ancient rites. After learning theme rituals once, the Jade General had never made a mistake. Moving with graceful precision, he poured two cups. Icarion waited for both to be filled. In unison, they drank. 

Icarion released a satisfied sigh. "An exquisite taste, brother. Do I sense sansuo leaves?"

The Jade General offered a rare small smile. "Fresh from the homeworld." 

For the next hour, they spent the time catching up, speaking of recent victories, glory earned by their sons, and of disappointments. 

"...you understand?" Icarion finished. 

"Of course, brother," the Jade General nodded as he stroked his pointed beard. 

"Ambition is useful to a degree, but it is important to understand one's limits and the limits of their charges. A soldier's failure is a reflection on his officer."

The Jade General nodded again, but he wondered if he detected a change in Icarion's tone. 

"It is also the same in the case of assigning responsibility to one who is not prepared for promotion. Especially in the manner of war. A poor choice can cost untold blood. This is true of anyone. From the lowliest sergeant to the Emperor himself. Do you not agree, General?" 

The shift in tone was unmistakable now. 


Edited by simison, 26 March 2016 - 01:42 AM.

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#30
simison

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Requiem of Legio Mortis

Author: simison
Legion: Halcyon Wardens (Warmaster Alexandros) and Legio Mortis (Dark Mechanicum)
Time: 031.M31

 

~

 

Seeing through the 'eyes' of the mighty Imperator titan filled its princeps with a sense of indestructibility. He towered above all, including his fellow titans of Legio Mortis. Ahead of them lay Magma City, home to Adept Koriel Zeth. She had refused reason and sided with the Emperor. Legio Mortis was to put an end to that mistake. Already, the Warhound titans were beginning their attacks, while the rest of the legio had void shields raised and weapons powered. Victory would soon be theirs. 

 

The Princeps vision of glory died as an alien will smothered his mind. The Master of Aquila Ignis struggled and fought the being invading his thoughts, but it was too strong. He managed to turn his sight to the titan's bridge cameras. He had to warn the others of this unseen attack. To his surprise, his moderati were rooted to their seats, twitching. The rest of the crew was unaware. Desperate, the Princeps called to the spirit of Ignis, hoping it's raw power would free him. He felt the clash as the Imperator's rage slammed into the malicious will. For a moment, the Princeps could feel the invader falter. 

 

Then it called on its own rage and broke the titan's spirit with its own. 

 

Control now entirely in the invader's hands, commands were issued. The Princeps was a puppet as he aimed the plasma annihilator and the hellstorm cannon targeted an unsuspecting Warlord titan, his moderati unwillingly supporting him. His brothers who had noticed were now flooding the communication channels as they sought an answer to Ignis' forced actions. 

 

The Princeps screamed within his own trapped mind and finally demanded, What are you!?

 

The invader answered in a 'voice' laced with wrath and disgust. 

 

I am the Warmaster.

 

Fire.

 

Primarchs are more than human. More than even transhuman. Yet, they are not completely free of weakness. 

 

Alexandros was exhausted. More so than he had ever been during the Great Crusade or during the Warmaster years when he oversaw a united Imperium. It was a novel feeling that both warned and amused him. The source was obvious: the Martian Civil War. The relationship between the Red Planet and himself had always been a strange one. Their unique standing within the Imperium meant he had to view them as galactic partners as opposed to subjects. It had limited his options, but he had done what he could to ensure stability in the Mechanicum, much like the rest of the Imperium.

 

For all of his diplomacy, it had not protected the planet from Icarion's machinations. 

 

Now, he would fix it the hard way. 

 

He sat on his throne of the Elpis. His attention split three ways: commanding the Martian Reclamation force, coordinating the defense of the entire Imperium, and psy-wrestling with an angry Imperator titan's machine spirit.

 

It was the last task that was particularly tiring.

 

The machine-spirit of the Aquila Ignis was a fierce opponent, made worse by the sheer distance between it and Darshan. Distance wasn't as clear-cut barrier to a psyker, but it still counted for something. Adding Princeps Camulos and his command crew to the minds Darshan had to dominate stretched his powers to his limits.

 

But control was his. 

 

The legio was a mere half an hour from their target: Magma City. When his visions had first warned him of the impeding Martian rebellion, Alexandros had organized his Wardens with Imperial Army regiments to put an end to it. He had identified Fabricator Kane, Forge Master Maximal, and Adept Zeth as the key Loyalist leaders that were the key to freeing Mars from Icarion's influence. The Martian Reclamation force was landing now, but none could reach Magma City before Legio Mortis' assault. Thus, Alexandros had deemed it necessary for his personal intervention.

 

Darshan counted his targets. Legio Mortis fielded four Warhounds, five Reavers, three Warlords, and the Imperator. The Aquila Ignis was equipped with a plasma annihilator and a hellstorm cannon, along with countless secondary weapon systems. Forcing Camulos to his will, weapon safeties were disengaged and power flowed into the weapons. A couple of confused queries reached out, asking for an explanation. Camulos became Darshan's voice, claiming it was Aquila Ignis' machine spirit's hunger for blood. They believed the explanation. After all, why would they believe their leader would betray them? How could they expect such an intimate betrayal to wreak bloody havoc on them? Alexandros grinned.

 

Retribution would be his. 

 

The Imperator's arms raised and targeted the nearest Warlord titan. Its princeps panicked as he demanded an explanation. Calumos fought as hard as he could.

 

Fire, Darshan commanded. 

 

The hellstorm cannon shot first, knocking out the Warlord's void shields. The plasma annihilator fired, and the Warlord disappeared in a titanic explosion. As the two main guns fired, Alexandros concentrated the other weapons on a Warhound. Unprepared, it was battered by missiles and cannons. It died moments later, shredded by the rain of fire.

 

Two down. Eleven to go.

 

The rest of Legio Mortis still demanded a reason as they powered weapons and targeted Aquila Ignis. Alexandros decide to give it to them. Calumos jerked unnaturally as Alexandros' voice flowed from his throat. "I am the Warmaster Alexandros. I declare all of you guilty of high treason. My sentence is simple: death."

 

His announcement made, he selected his next targets. Calumos had done him a disservice, moving toward the front of his legio before their attack on Magma City. Had Darshan waited any longer, the Ignis would've been at the front of the pack, leaving him exposed to rear fire with little chance of counter-fire. As of now, a Warlord, two Reavers, and the three remaining Warhounds were in his weapon arcs. Logic dictated the Warlord to be the next target, if he wanted the Ignis to survive.

 

Unfortunately, Darshan knew better. He could annihilate the rest of the legio, but Zeth's forces couldn't recover the Imperator before the traitors did. And Darshan wouldn't have the strength to force the machine-spirit to commit suicide. Thus, even as he destroyed them, he needed Mortis to be the ones to deal the deathblow to Ignis. The weapons arms swiveled away as they targeted two Reavers. Laser Blaster batteries began the attack, wiping out void shields before the main guns fired. The hellstorm cannon blew off the first Reaver's carapace weapon, but it lived. The other Reaver facing the annihilator disappeared in a brief star of energy. 

 

Darshan felt a host of angry minds charging towards the bridge. Despite the Mechanicum's emphasis of machine over flesh, very few followers were willing to part with their free will. Darshan forced Calumos to lockdown the bridge. It would buy him the needed time for his mission. 

 

Mortis finally returned fire. Ignis shook as nine titans attacked it. The void shields collapsed underneath the weight of fire, allowing a couple of hits to hit the titan directly. The Warhounds fired as they bounded away from Ignis' firing arcs, leaving the damaged Reaver and the Warlord to face his wrath. The two held their ground, determined to keep his attention. Alexandros rewarded their bravery. 

 

He concentrated the laser fire on the Reaver's left leg, punching through adamantium armor to saw it off. It toppled over, its own weight crushing it into the ground. The Warlord felt the full strength of Ignis' weapon arms. It lasted a moment before a wave of secondary explosions, ripped it apart from within. Both were out of the fight as Alexandros shifted all shield power to the rear, recovering a few void shields. No more targets in front of him, Alexandros began the laborious process of turning the Imperator titan.

 

The Mortis legio ripped away the resurrected shields before their combined fire destroyed the hellstorm cannon. Negative feedback slammed into Calumos, while Darshan blocked the pain with a mere thought. To Darshan's delight, the damage proved a boon. Ignis' machine-spirit grew enraged with its companions, while Calumos' will was sapped by the cauldron of pain he was in. Furthermore, now an arm short, the adamantium behemoth was moving faster. 

 

Alexandros' next target was a Reaver titan at the edge of the annihilator's range. Its princeps had held position to line up the critical shot that destroyed Ignis' arm. The moment before the princeps ordered the Reaver to move to safety, Darshan struck. He enflamed the man's hunger for blood and fame before whispering to his mind. Why move? One more shot, and you could be the one to bring down an Imperator. Your glory would be forever, Darshan quietly suggested. The image of victory took root and the princeps anchored his Reaver even as his compatriots advised against it. 

 

It was only when the annihilator locked on did the man realize his mistake.

 

Alexandros fired, the plasma shot melting the Reaver's head and all within it. The headless Reaver was now a useless hulk. The surviving Mortis engines fired a third volley. Without void shields, the Aquila Ignis took several critical hits. Reactor warnings blared throughout it as it died. Darshan released his hold on Calumos and the titan, but he had one last try to play. He infected the Warhound crews with blinding rage. A rage that propelled them toward the dying titan, firing their weapons. The new Mortis commander ordered them away, to avoid the incoming nuclear explosion. Darshan silenced the warning from their minds as he propelled them forward. When Ignis finally died, the resulting explosion destroyed all the Warhounds. 

 

Darshan's mind lingered over the battlefield for a moment. What had started as an unbeatable force was now reduced to one Warlord and two Reavers. Legio Tempestus would make short work if they dared to attack Magma City. And, if the Mortis commander chose prudence, they would withdraw, allowing Legio Tempestus to destroy Melgator's force. 

 

Magma City was saved. The Mechanicum Loyalists would not suffer defeat this day.


Edited by simison, 13 June 2018 - 09:26 PM.

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#31
simison

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Conquest of Albyon

Author: simison
Legion: Storm Riders and Norscan army
Time: 769.M30

 

Irvin activated his jump pack before the 'Yonics rained the spot with a deluge of stubber rounds, mixed in with a few high-caliber rounds. Sergeant Buwhler led him and his brothers with several Norscan units eagerly giving chase. At the apex of their jump, Irvin peered over the entire battlefield. Somewhere in the center of the cacophony of war stood King Artorus and his elite guard, defying the Emperor to the end even as the Vth Legion tore at his army. 

 

Hitting the ground with a thud, the assault marines about-faced and opened fire on their pursuing foes, red beams through a few of the mortal warriors. In a mere minute, they'd be surrounded by over three dozen warriors. As advanced as their power armor was, it didn't provide immunity from all blows. Irvin listened as his sergeant's voice reached over the vox. "Enemy units are in position, we're clear."

 

Two seconds pass before the marines' enhanced hearing picked up the distant thunder of artillery. The Norscan barbarians snap fired as they charged towards them. A stub round ricocheted off of Irvin's helmet, coming close to piercing his unprotected cheek. The barbarian shooter didn't have a second chance. Eruptions of fire and shrapnel slaughtered the lightly armored skirmishers. The marines waited forty seconds for the barrage to take its course. When it finished, only a few warriors were still on their feet, bloodied and bruised.

 

They ran.

 

Sergeant Buwhler revved his chainsword. "After them, marines! No survivors!" 


Edited by simison, 21 September 2016 - 01:08 PM.

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#32
simison

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Gift of Fire

Author: simison
Legion: Halcyon Wardens (Alexandros) and Iron Bears (Daer'dd)
Time: 857.M30

 

Alexandros finished reading the last war report before he put it away as he walked into Daer'dd's forge. His younger brother had bade him to visit for a surprise. Happy for an excuse to visit him, Alexandros had issued orders to his sons before he had made arrangements. As the Seer, it was well within his power to discover what the surprise was the moment the invitation reached him, but where was the fun in that?

 

For this private meeting, Alexandros wore off-duty robes, in his legion colors. Daer'dd was not one to insist on formalities, and Alexandros welcomed the chance to wear something simple and comfortable compared to the usual formality he wore when acting in the capacity of Imperial diplomat. 

 

As usual, Alexandros found Daer'dd in his forge. He couldn't remember a time where Daer'dd's hands were idle. Alexandros was not two steps into the forge when Daer'dd halted his current project and turned around. With a wave of a massive hand, Daer'dd greeted, "Little brother!"

 

Like always, the nickname evoked a reluctant smile from the smaller Primarch. "Daer'dd! It does me good to see you again." They chatted for a little while, comparing campaigns and new developments within their respective legions. Once done, Alexandros brought up the matter which had brought him here. "So, what is this surprise you mentioned?"

 

Daer'dd sported a huge grin before he held a finger for Alex to wait. The giant walked over to a corner of his forge, hitting a button. A hole in the wall opened, and in it sat a small package. Well, small for a Primarch. "I know you've always preferred the way of the sword," Daer'dd began as he retrieved the package. "Yet, there will always be enemies who will stand far from our reach. For this, I present you the Power of Stars."

 

Curiosity nourished by the quick speech, Alexandros opened the package. Within, a winged pistol awaited him, shining copper ready to burn his enemies. Now with a smile of his own, Alexandros pulled it out of its temporary home to peer over it. The craftsmanship declared its superiority as twin Eagles eagerly looked for their prey. "It is a kingly gift, Daer'dd! I am honored to accept it." Alexandros glanced over the forge. "I have a favor to ask of you, brother. As you know, my shield was damaged against the Orks, and I require another. Would you be willing to teach me how to forge a shield worthy of a master smith?"


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#33
simison

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Painful Observations

Author: simison
Legion: Halcyon Wardens (Alexandros) and Warriors of Peace (Jade General)
Time: 978.M30

 

The Jade General watched Alexandros' pain with a scientist's satisfaction. The nature of pariahs was well known to cause discomfort or pain to psykers, in addition to denying them their gifts. Yet, it was also true that, like their psyker counterparts, there were varying strengths of pariah-hood. Several times his legionaries had faced xeno psykers of prodigious strength that resisted their talents. Whatever achievement they felt they had accomplished enduring his sons quickly died the moment they faced him. No psyker had ever been powerful enough to resist the Jade General's aura. 

 

Which made this encounter truly remarkable. His genetic brothers of psyker nature had avoided the presence of their pariah siblings. It was practical. 

 

Thus, when Alexandros suggested the two of them personally meet for a strategy briefing, the Jade General had been surprised. A novel feeling that didn't stop him from accepting. Finally, he'd have a chance to match the strength of his aura against one of the most powerful psykers in existence. Now, they were on the bridge of the Elpis, Alexandros' flagship. The Jade General (and Alexandros, no doubt) could feel the barriers between Alexandros and himself fight for dominance. It reminded the Jade General of two magnets, their polar opposites rejecting each other. 

 

The difference was the Jade General felt no personal discomfort from the conflict. Alexandros, on the other hand, wore a pained grimace, his signature grin nowhere to be seen. Refusing to acknowledge his pain, the Shield-Lord finished his side of the briefing, highlighting Imperial planned advances on the holo-display. Since the Jade General's nature was being resisted, he was very curious as to how much power Alexandros had accessed to. He wondered if Alexandros would be willing to meet the Jade General in a private interview to confirm the Jade General's hypothesis. 

 

Alexandros stepped back once he was done. His turn, the Jade General bowed to his audience, a cultural holdover from his homeworld. "Honorable commanders and soldiers of the Imperium, I will conclude our briefing, beginning with the known positions of the enemy forces," he announced in a measured tone. 


Edited by simison, 13 June 2018 - 09:50 PM.

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#34
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Koloss
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Halcyon Wardens (Alexandros), Lightning Bearers (Icarion), Custodes (The Emperor!)
Time: 999, M30
Major characters: Pyrrhicles, Raiden Athrawes, Aquillon

The first transmission from the Pravus System came as the excited babble of Explorators, reporting that they had found an oasis of Man's technological inheritance.

The second came as a horrified report of hostile and lethal automata. Animus Silica.

The third did not come from the Explorators, and it wasn't a threat. It wasn't a promise. It was a cold, empirical statement. “Koloss discarded organic components 5572 standard Terrain years ago. Organic contaminants have been detected and removed in accordance with Protocol 33. All internal and external contaminants will be eradicated for the security of the Obzen Apparatus.”

The machine intelligence which ruled the Obzen Sector could not send its armada into the Warp, but such a fearsome and abhorrent enemy could not be tolerated, especially with the Qarith campaign taking up so many resources.

Mechanicum archivists had identified the ruling intelligence as a former defence and surveillance system, known as Koloss. This was an entity born of the Dark Age of Technology, first to safeguard its creators and then to conquer for them. It had endured the destruction of the Men of Iron, its makers arrogantly believing their tech-mastery exempted them from their species’ agony and using it to enslave neighbouring systems. Only years later did they realise their mistake, as the noose closed and furnace fires lit the worlds of Obzen. Koloss spent the following millennia strengthening itself and slowly expanding its domain, wiping out organic life wherever it could be found. The might it had acquired called for a truly exceptional force to destroy it.

After four brutal months, this force made planetfall on the adamantine surface of Stengah. They came in a glare of teleport residue, immediately striding out to meet their opponents. As Koloss was hooked up to every sensor and picter on the planet, these responded in just seven seconds.

These machines could never have designed themselves; artificials did not stray from the standard armoury used by mankind and other humanoid races, and they inevitably conformed to humanoid archetypes in their soldiers. These bizarre heaps of metal tentacles, ending in blades or electric nodes, could only have been designed by brilliant, albeit deranged, organic minds. According to the archives, the creators they had destroyed named them “agma”, equivalent to “daemons” in Low Gothic, and no wonder. A computer might comprehend the usefulness of an aspect which an enemy would deem frightening or repellent, but none would ever achieve that aim in the manner that these constructs’ bestial, shrieking faces did. And all guided by the ubiquitous picters and sensors, all acting as extensions of a single malevolent consciousness.

Against any other human army this incredible synchronicity would probably have prevailed, but this was an army of space marines, led not only by two Primarchs but by their race’s ruler, the most powerful individual in the Galaxy.

The Emperor. Psychic fire arced from His gauntlet, consuming dozens of las-drones, while His sword rang as He deflected tendrils and sliced constructs apart. Beside Him Chief Custodian Valdor was a blur of unceasing movement, spear whirling as he defended the man he had followed for more than two centuries.

The space over their heads was filled with volkite fire as the elite of two Legions opened fire. Encased in Terminator plate, Halcyon Wardens and Lightning Bearers unleashed a storm of projectiles against the hated artificials. As the enemy closed they waded in, a near-unstoppable wall of ceramite and power weapons.

The ponderous speed of Terminator armour could prove a serious disadvantage against a fast opponent, so as the constructs made to attack the Astartes’ flanks they were met by the Emperor's Custodians. Their more individualistic styles of combat were best deployed here, where flexibility was key. They alone eschewed the use of volkites, favouring their signature bolter-spears. Assault marines led by Irvin Ruel rose into the air, taking the fight to the airborne constructs. Oil and tattered machine parts rained on the battle below while Captain Vasilios and his Heavy Support Squads claimed the high ground behind the Terminators, from which they bombarded the enemy ranks with their monstrous arsenal.

At the heads of their elite forces, Icarion and Alexandros cut a path through the hordes of screaming constructs. Icarion fought much like his father, laying waste to everything around him with blade and golden lightning, but where the Emperor seemed to simply appear in place to destroy constructs, Icarion was in constant motion. He flowed through the battle, reaping abominations in a seamless dance as his spear whirled around him. It had once been said of an explorer of Old Earth that he was incapable of making a movement that was not beautiful. That hyperbole was entirely accurate when it came to Icarion as he rode through the carnage on the currents of foresight.

While the Stormborn spun around his attackers, ending them with flamboyant displays of skill, Alexandros’ fighting was taut and efficient as he cut a methodical path through the constructs, turning attacks aside with his shield and driving Xiphos into any holes he found in an enemy's defences. It was a marvel of dexterity and skill, even more so if the observer knew that every second, he was processing a dozen or more possible futures and planning accordingly. Pyrrhicles had often mused privately on how many times his Primarch had saved his life without anyone knowing. But in this mad ballet of blood, metal and oil, there could be no thought beyond what it would take to get him and his warriors closer to Koloss’ sanctum.

Except for that edge of desperation which persisted in every fight. He was a strange genetic compromise, and he knew that his body was deteriorating at a glacial pace. One day his Terminator plate and master-crafted weapons would not be enough to keep him alive. Every battle brought him closer, and the strange, gnawing feeling only grew with time. He had never raised this with anyone, and wondered if an Astartes could truly understand. Perhaps this was the residue of fear, which the Emperor and his scientists had been unable to purge from his heart. But he would not allow it to get the better of him. I will not fail and fall today.

He saw Bastion Kammenos impaled and torn open by one construct and sprang forward with a scream of rage, smashing the machines aside with his shield and forcing them back, hoping that an Apothecary would reach Kammenos and salvage the gene-seed from his death. A Custodian nearby was caught by a pack of constructs that enveloped him, blades stabbing at the joints of his armour and under his helmet. They were springing at new targets before the Custodian hit the ground, blood spurting from his throat. Pyrrhicles snarled and blasted two of them apart with his volkite. A strange weapon to him, but he couldn't deny its effectiveness here. Another Custodian speared the third killer through its face before firing his bolter, blasting its head apart and hurling the spasming remains back into the constructs’ ranks. As they tore into the enemy ranks Pyrrhicles let his gun hang loose on a lanyard and drew his pike. The familiar feel of the weapon reassured him, and he waded into the press of machines.

Koloss was throwing everything at them, but nothing could slow the advance with the Emperor at their head. Pyrrhicles revelled in the sight of Alexandros beside his brother and father again. In the beginning, with Valdor completing the quartet, they had been astonishing. Now, with centuries of war behind them, they were truly unstoppable. They wove around one another, never stopping. A booming cheer went up from the Astartes and Custodes as the four charged the gateway. But as they reached the threshold Alexandros and Icarion skidded to a halt.

Stop! Back!” Alexandros howled. Then Koloss sprang its trap, and the battleground erupted.

The people who created the abomination really had been brilliant. The great, cathedral-like fortress was just a decoy. Pillars shed their rockcrete to reveal tendrils larger than any of them had imagined as the walls crumbled and their foundations disintegrated. The Primarchs, Valdor and the Emperor vanished in the explosion.

Pyrrhicles was first back on his feet, grabbing his pike and howling his Primarch’s name as as he raced to the crater. He could hear the sounds of combat behind him as the constructs redoubled their attack, but he paid it no heed as he watched the spectacle below below.

Koloss was larger than any terrestrial war machine the Imperium had ever fielded, fashioned from obsidian plates and some strange, silvery metal. Its hundreds of tendrils were as thick as the legs of a Warlord Titan, and it moved with the same syncopated rhythm as its minions. But its face was what truly stole Pyrrhicles’ breath. Lit by some strange, inner fire, it appeared human, serene and beatific as it regarded the four little creatures before it. Then it rippled and changed, the jaws distending and reshaping to form a hideous, bestial maw lined with jagged glass fangs. The noise that emerged from those jaws was a million voices, human, animal and synthetic, all warped and distorted a thousand times. Then it attacked.

The Emperor, the Primarchs and Valdor were like leaves in a storm, dodging around its vast bulk and hurling projectiles at it. Tendrils tore great trenches in the floor around them, and electrical blasts reduced the stone to bubbling white puddles. The four warriors danced like performers in some insane ballet, seeking a weakness in their enemy.

Pyrrhicles scrabbled down the slopes, seizing any constructs that pursued him and dashing them against the walls. A Custodian, strangely armed with a massive broadsword, charged beside him. A few hundred metres away, Raiden Athrawes cut his way through the press of machines to follow them.

Koloss paid them no heed, focusing all its might on the golden warrior who tore molten strips from its shell with psychic flames and His bluesteel sword. His powers kept its projectiles at bay, but as He dodged another attack He was suddenly cut off from the others. While the attackers relied on their own senses, Obzen could use all the surveillance apparatus that riddled the planet, observing its targets from every angle. It had exploited that advantage to isolate the main threat, and now moved to neutralise it. Tendrils lashed the ground around the Emperor, caging Him, and He disappeared amid the debris. Koloss kept up the assault, pulverising the stone and hurling the others back as they tried to intervene. When the dust cleared, the Emperor lay battered and half-buried in the debris.

The awful fire that illuminated Koloss’ visage grew to a caged supernova, and they all skidded to a halt. Its face distorted yet more as it lunged towards the Emperor and hurled a torrent of plasma at him.

A figure in purple leapt into the oncoming wave of fire. Alexandros dropped to one knee and brandished his shield as Koloss’ fury broke over him, using every ounce of his psychic power to keep it from killing his father. Pyrrhicles cried out as he saw his gene-father’s armour burning, ceramite running off it like candle wax. He could hear something over the vox that he had never heard before; his gene-sire, roaring in agony. Icarion and Valdor were transfixed by the horror of what they were seeing.

No!" He roared, and sprinted forward, unloading his volkite at the monster’s face. As he drew closer the terrible heat began to sear his flesh too, but it didn't matter when his Primarch and Emperor were in such danger. The volkite ran out of charges and he cast it aside, brandishing his pike and bellowing a challenge. His defiance jolted the others into action, and Icarion came to Alexandros' aid, throwing up another psychic barrier against the attack.

Koloss did not feel anger or frustration and so did not scream in response to their resistance, but the sudden silence was deafening as it broke off the attack. Instead it coiled hundreds of tentacles into a single, massive limb, crackling with lightning, and swung it down to flatten Alexandros. Now the Emperor regained His feet and darted forward, halting the blow with a telekinetic grasp. Jamming His blade into the mass of tendrils, He directed the electricity back into the abomination. The others followed Him, power weapons jabbing into the exposed joints, and suddenly Astartes appeared over the lip of the crater, volkites spitting at the monstrous form from all sides.

Koloss was paralysed, and now the Emperor charged. His sword, aflame with aetheric energies, tore into the roof of the construct’s mouth. +Now it ends+ resonated in all their minds, and the fire within Koloss flared golden, impossibly bright, burning it out from the inside. Pyrrhicles could barely stay on his feet, unable to believe what he was seeing. Every construct animated by the mind of Koloss spasmed and died, as the AI was taken apart neuron by synthetic neuron. A monster which had thrived through the horror of Old Night, murderer of billions of humans, the epitome of Abominable Intelligence, was no more.

When it was over, Pyrrhicles staggered to his Primarch and helped him to his feet. Alexandros was greatly weakened, his armour ruined, but as he twisted off his helmet and grinned at his equerry, his injuries were already healing. “Quite the day, my friend. The smiths will be appalled,” as he gestured with his mangled helm.

Pyrrhicles was struggling to frame a response- after all these years, Alexandros’ levity could bring him up short- when the Emperor spoke. “Pyrrhicles, Raiden and Aquillon, might I have a moment?” Pyrrhicles swayed, before dropping to his knees beside the Custodian and Lightning Bearer. The Emperor knelt before them, looking each warrior in the face. In all his years of fighting, Pyrrhicles had never imagined this, and euphoric tears ran down his face. “Today you helped save my life, and end a terrible evil. You fought beyond the limits of endurance and sanity to stand beside us against the abomination, and embodied the very highest ideals of the Great Crusade. And Pyrrhicles,” He said as the half-Astartes’ head swam. “Some dismiss you as unworthy to stand beside a Primarch. Today you proved them utterly wrong, and henceforth you shall carry this title- the Virtue of your Legion.” And for that, Pyrrhicles truly had no answer.

After they regained their feet, Aquillon took the wrists of
Pyrrhicles and Raiden in the warrior’s grip. A curious smile played across his bronzed features as he said “I never thought I was speak these words to Astartes, but it was an honour to fight beside you today, brothers.”

Some way away, the Emperor was speaking with the Primarchs. “Hectarion was certain. With their invasion of Mondrian foiled by the Bears, the Qarith are doomed to destruction. The fleet already assails Qarith Prime.” Icarion declared, his usually austere features breaking into a smile.

“So as we destroy one legacy of Man’s hubris, your brothers rid us of another,” smiled the Emperor. “Then it is truly time. You're not allowed to look ahead,” He added as His sons’ smiles faltered in confusion. “But know this: it will be an occasion that the Galaxy will never forget. Constantin, notify Malcador and our friends of the Mechanicus to begin the preparations. The next stage is upon us.”

Edited by bluntblade, 20 August 2016 - 10:46 AM.

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Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

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#35
bluntblade

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Feral
Author: bluntblade
Legion: Berserkers of Uran
Time: 931, M30
Major characters: Slynnat, Riktus Innorvak

Corpses littered the ground beneath Slynnat’s feet as he picked his way over to the rallying point. He didn't know how many his Legion had killed today, but they must have numbered in the tens of thousands. It had been a chaotic battle; in an effort to throw the defenders off balance they had landed on top of the city, but the enemy were well-armed and fought with remarkable fervour. Harder than any human force they had seen, save for the Inwit.

Thinking about that word brought back the memory of Nix. Filth. His old friend had failed and proven a weakling coward. That would've been bad enough, but now he was out there somewhere, one of the Sheep. Slynnat took it as a lesson to never let up, to always go further and become the killing machine his Primarch demanded. Ultimately, a Berserker lived or died alone.

Truly alone now; his squad had been enveloped by a huge enemy force and killed to a man, except for Slynnat. He had fought his way into the tightest streets and plunged into the mass of enemies, too close up for them to risk shooting. Exhausting his bolter, he had ripped limbs off, crushed skulls with his hands and ground men underfoot. He had even killed with his teeth and dashed them against the walls with his sheer bulk, ignoring his own injuries. Caring not for the mortally wounded, he left them to wail and die in his wake.

Eventually the last soldier had fallen, and now the Berserkers regrouped, with the hardest hit squads gathering below the south wall. Swiftly and tersely, they were sorted into new formations under the eyes of the captains. Questions were shouted about the fate of a critically injured captain. The response came- the Primarch judged Captain Moorek worthy and he would be interred in a dreadnought, so that he might continue to pay his debt and spill blood. An appreciative roar sounded from the ranks, warriors bowing their heads and making the sign of reverence.

The reformed squads began to disperse, leaving Slynnat alone. He started to wonder why he was sidelined like this, but then he heard a booming voice call his name. He turned and froze, seeing the figure- enormous even by Terminator standards- the collosal chainfist, the black paint around the upper face and the chains across the chest plate. The marks of Raktra's chosen. A Dominator.

Quite apart from his size, Riktus Innorvak was unmistakable by his warplate. Berserkers usually cleaned their armour between engagements, the better to show fresh blood during battle. The exception was the Legion's Destroyers, who in stark contrast to their counterparts, were highly respected within their Legion. These were the Astartes who went further than all others, and their armour carried not just the gore of their every battle, but also the marks of their terrible weapons.

As did their flesh. Innorvak's helmet was off, revealing a face that was all black grease, scar tissue and augmentics. Innorvak had lost the lower portion of his face to a greenskin, back when he was still a Shepherd of Eden. A choleric son of Cthonia, he had struggled to fit in and resented walking in the shadow of men such as Hastur Sejanus and Scipio Licinius. Then the reunion had come, and he threw himself into the bloodthirsty culture of the true VIIth Legion, quickly ascending up the ranks.

Since giving himself over to the Berserkers’ ways, his artificial jaws had been worked into a bestial grimace of adamantium fangs. His remaining skin was mute testament to the awful potency of the Destroyer’s arsenal. His remaining eye regarded Slynnat with about as much warmth as the glowing red iris that occupied the other socket.

“Slynnat,” he rumbled, bending down to gaze into the young warrior's eyes. “Now, what to do with you?”

Slynnat willed himself to respond. He couldn't be thought unworthy, surely. “I can serve in another squad, sir. I can still fight.”

A grating chuckle came from somewhere behind the metal teeth. “I'm aware. We intercepted enemy transmissions after your squad were killed. They were panicking because of this feral beast that kept killing them. Pulling them apart, tearing their throats out.” It took Slynnat a moment to realise that the corroded features were trying to form themselves into a smile. “Feral. I'm not wasting that on a regular squad.”

Slynnat’s hearts raced. “What would you have me do?”

“Well to start with, don't wash the blood off. Report to my division tomorrow morning, and we'll begin making a Destroyer out of you.”

Edited by bluntblade, 13 August 2016 - 09:25 AM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

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#36
bluntblade

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Death World
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Fire Keepers (Niklaas), Crimson Lions, Warriors of Peace
Time: 0, M31

A field full of corpses, before the fighting had even began. Well, Assault Captain Thirgen considered, he'd never seen it that way round before. Could anything better exemplify the abhorrence of the psyker and xeno?

The dead marched in misshapen ranks. They had been grafted together by despicable surgeries and animated by Warp-sorcery. Some sported extra limbs ending in clubs of bone. Others carried blades of dull iron. Most were bundles of bone and dessicated skin, but many were bloated horrors of rot and maggots. Thirgen was grateful for the weak light of Barbarus’ sun, as it barely illuminated the foulness before him.

They numbered in the tens of thousands, lurching down the valley towards the men who challenged their masters for control of the planet. A phalanx of Crimson Lions stood immobile and defiant, alongside formations of Fire Keepers.

Niklaas had initially deployed the Astartes at his disposal in small groups, with single companies being sent to every human settlement the expedition found once the plight of the natives became clear. When the alien necromancers sent their corpse-thralls to claim more victims from the humans, they were met with flamers and chainblades.

Soon the Astartes were venturing into the fog, their armour impervious to the poisons, pursuing the warlords and putting any they caught to the sword. Receiving a request from Hectarion to reinforce a III Legion Clan, Niklaas had gladly accepted. Quite aside from being closest to the Death World, this was the kind of enemy that the Steel Prince lived to slay. He wanted nothing less than to crush these xenos, and teraform the planet to purge it of their filth. To begin with he had pursued his usual tactics, breaking the sorcerers' fortresses, but now the aliens had changed their strategy, and forced him into open warfare.

As the scale of the threat became clear to the cruel rulers of Barbarus, the mightiest of these sorcerer-lords came forth to unite his foul ilk. Under his leadership they pillaged every tomb and utilised every screed of their vile grimoires, building an army the like of which Barbarus, and perhaps the Galaxy, had never seen before. Not content with reanimating the dead, they had taken whatever they could find of Barbarus’ wildlife. The results were grotesque hybrids and beastfolk, some of which stood taller than an Astartes, all ripe with decay.

Here and there, a warlord rode upon a steed of bone and withered sinews. They were gaunt, reptilian things with yellow-grey skin and pitiless eyes, armoured in rust and bone and crowned with twisted metal. Many carried whips, torturous blades and staves flickering with noisome light. Their leader, however, held a great scythe of iridescent metal, the bone handle scrimshawed with obscene runes. He was crowned with tarnished silver and misshapen horns, and standing as tall as the Primarch, he exuded a terrible authority and power.

His eyes never left the waiting enemy, and they shone with what looked like hunger. No doubt he desired to wreak fresh atrocities on the Astartes’ flesh, and forge unprecedented horrors. The idea of such blasphemy committed against the Emperor's work infuriated Thirgen, and he had to work to restrain himself. Niklaas will make them pay, but for him to succeed we have to follow our orders. Those orders were to remain hidden until the signal came, so here they crouched among the foliage with their fellow assault troopers from the Lions.

Not that the Lions were finding it easy. The Getae were the youngest and most eager of their kind, and Thirgen frequently had to reprimand them with a blink rune for growling and revving chainswords. Why did they have to send us Clan Daran? Baldan would be perfect for this world. Fortunately the noises were obscured by the shouts coming from the main force. At least Niklaas had no problems keeping them in formation; even with a Chapter Master from another Legion they might have slipped their leash. But no one was about to shame his Clan under the eyes of a Primarch.

Thirgen himself had to fight to keep the kill-urge in check as his brothers and the Lions strode forward and the war cry boomed out as his Primarch led them toward the enemy. Artillery opened up behind them, striking deep into the enemy ranks and raining down rotten flesh. Jets of promethium and Bolter fire lit the front ranks. The dead things burned and great chunks of gore were blasted from them, but they kept coming. Then blades were drawn and Niklaas’ hammer smashed into the putrid foe. Surrounded by his Triakonta guards, he laid into them, every blow echoing like thunder and scattering limbs.

On a front as wide as the valley itself, the two sides met in a mass of seething flesh and ceramite. The reanimated were destroyed in their hundreds, but the Astartes were not without losses. Here and there battle-brothers were dragged down and ripped apart, or crushed under the rotten behemoths that now barged forward to attack. Niklaas and the Terminator squads moved to intercept them, and the intensity of the combat was redoubled.

The Imperials regained the initiative as Niklaas battered aside a four-armed giant and stove in a horned skull, but now some of the warlords joined the fray as well, turning their foul witchery on the invaders. Artillery salvoes burst in the air, well before reaching their targets. Astartes were engulfed in pallid green fire or found themselves entangled in roots that struck at them from the ground. Under the direction of the silver-crowned necromancer, the sheer weight of the dead would see them roll over the Imperials, even with Niklaas at their head.

Except that Niklaas had not banked solely on brute force to win this battle. Flares suddenly shot skyward from the Imperial ranks, and in response Thirgen and his comrades gunned their jump packs, the Lions roaring as they broke cover. Swooping low over the dead army, they let loose on the flanks with jets of promethium and krak grenades. Gaps appeared in the putrid ranks, and several of the warlords were thrown into confusion. But even this was a feint of sorts. Amidst the carnage, none of the enemy spotted the other objects they dropped near the warlords, or if they did, they failed to understand their significance. Jade flight flared throughout the ranks of the dead, and suddenly there were Astartes in their midst, clad in shimmering black.

The Warriors of Peace. When the sorcerous nature of the xenos had become clear, Niklaas had petitioned his Pariah brothers for assistance. The Jade General had been the first to respond, lending him three companies of the null-warriors. Anchored by their Terminator squads, these now struck at the heart of the dead army, and their remarkable powers dampened the necromancers’. Wherever they fought, the odious flames were extinguished and their minions lost something of their momentum as the warlocks struggled to maintain their hold on them.

Even as the enemy reacted the Warriors of Peace, abetted by the Fire Keepers' assault squads, began to target the warlocks. Thirgen swooped down to take a witch’s head with his power sword, and felt a fierce rush of satisfaction as the xeno's retinue of corpses crumpled around their fallen master. Below him, Terminators pulled the xenos from their mounts and crushed them underfoot, or pulverised them with gunfire. The Warriors of Peace fought with surgical precision, never attacking except to kill as efficiently as possible. They moved with a cohesion that put even other space marines to shame, and the dead army was helpless to resist. It was a glorious sight, and Thirgen grinned as the enemy burned under their righteous anger.

The greatest of the sorcerers watched his army disintegrate, and knew he had only one chance to avert disaster. He urged his mount toward Niklaas. But there was no concealing his advance, and Niklaas leapt to meet him. A crash, and the warlock sprawled in the dirt, still gripping his broken scythe. Niklaas’ hammer descended, and the monster's head was reduced to a ruin of bile-yellow blood and bone. With that, the remaining corpse-things went limp as death reclaimed them.

-----

Hours later, the field was one vast funeral pyre as the bodies of the necromancers burned along with their creations. Niklaas stood on a ridge, his officers behind him, watching with satisfaction. “There is no finer thing than to burn such putrescence from the Galaxy,” he intoned, turning to the Warriors of Peace captains. “I am glad that your Primarch also understands the foulness of the sorcerer. I thank you for your aid today.”

The officers bowed, politely accepting his thanks. With nothing else to say, they withdrew; other warzones called and their companies were already preparing to leave. The Lions too were withdrawing, as Mechanicus ships descended to begin the process of terraforming the world and making it hospitable to humans. Despite his respect for them, Thirgen was glad of the nulls' departure. His commander noticed and inclined his head in acknowledgement. “Aye, the Pariahs are difficult to coexist with. However, they are our finest weapon against the witch. As we advance, they shall become more and more vital to purifying mankind.”

Thirgen couldn't think of a response, so instead he asked, “Where are we to go after this?”

“We have summons from the Emperor” the Primarch replied, and let slip a rare smile. “We are to reunite with the rest of the Legion over Carpathia, and then you, with a select group of your brothers, will accompany me to Terra. Evidently, whatever we missed at the Triumph, it was quite the occasion."

Edited by bluntblade, 08 September 2016 - 11:44 AM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

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#37
bluntblade

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Mechanised
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Halcyon Wardens, Iron Bears, Shepherds of Eden
Time: 961, M30
Major characters: Khârn, Nibaasiniiwi, Tannhäuser, Nix, Yoxer Bellows

+++++

Up to now, Nix realised, he'd never seen the Shepherds truly unleashed. Here on Ibsen, fighting xenos with like-minded Legions, they were quite a sight.

Dozens of Iron Bears and Halcyon Wardens transports raced across the tundra. Leaving Alexandros, two Wardens Chapters and Clan Astar of the III to complete the pacification of the jungle-dwelling humans, they had set a course for the polar regions, where another Eldar force was massing.

Iron Bears jetbikes shot past him, with vox-twisted whoops and what sounded like howls. He turned to Khârn, confusion showing through his faceplate. “The ice wastes remind them of old comrades,” explained the captain. He chuckled, but there was sadness too as he murmured “Gunnar would have loved this war.” Nix decided not to ask any further, and went back to observing the column.

In Yoxer Bellows, they had one of the Iron Bears’ fiercest warriors leading the bike squads, whilst Chief Praetor Nibaasiniiwi held overall command. The Wardens and Shepherds had happily deferred to the VI Legion's superior tech and experience using it.

Besides rhinos, bikes and speeders, they also fielded the mashkode. Huge vehicles, heavily armoured and bristling with guns, they formed the formation's backbone. Unusually for the Bears, they were fitted with tracks and wheels, carving great tracks through the snow. They could serve either as mobile gun platforms for sieges, or shatter armies in open warfare.

Now they went forth to destroy the Eldar occupiers and the beasts that served them.

-----

Thirty-four years as a Shepherd of Eden had changed Nix Pyrruk, even if the pale skin and shaved head remained. Along with six other disgraced Berserkers, he had found a brotherhood which better fitted his humours. No longer did they force themselves to match the brutal temper of their Primarch, and when they fought it was with true conviction. They were broken knives made swords in the Emperor’s service, resplendent in bone-white and muted gold.

Now, mag-locked to the side of a mashkode, his hearts raced in anticipation of the battle. They were in sight now, the xenos that sought to twist the people of this world to some alien purpose. As with their fellows in the forests, they were curiously primitive; rather than the lethal technology he had seen them wield on other worlds, these made weapons of the native creatures. Spear-carriers, hundreds, rode savage beasts like the snow hyenas of primordial, ice-bound Terra. Others - psykers, he guessed - sat astride great mastodons of shaggy fur.

Bellows shot ahead, leading the various bike squads and needling the Eldar force with fire, the captain swinging low to take heads with one of his axes. The bikes swung up and flew clear of the fight in a classic VI Legion manoeuvre, regrouping for another run, but the Eldar’s rifles and warp-sorcery had taken a toll. Here and there, Astartes tumbled from the saddle or were hurled into the air as warp-lightning blew their bikes apart.

Then the mashkode and rhinos opened fire, and the ground the Eldar stood on was rent by shells and las-fire. Several of the shaggy behemoths fell beneath the onslaught, and the Eldar scattered as the convoy charged into their midst. Nix raised his bolter and fired, killing two Eldar as the Astartes around him did the same. Blood was already staining the snow around them.

But then he heard Captain Tannhäuser of the Wardens bellowing over the vox. “Spread out!” One of the Wardens must have sensed something amiss. Something's coming.

-----

The vehicles scattered as the something huge emerged from the snow. It was like a great eel, twenty metres long at least and covered in blue-white scales. Atop its head perched an Eldar. Then it was moving, the vast tail lashing out at the nearest mashkode and crumpling the armour plate. Another was torn open by its jaws. Several rhinos were thrown across the ice, Astartes tumbling from them and sprinting to find what cover they could.

But now the Eldar brought their vicious mounts around and ran them down. The marines on the ground fought bravely, but several died messy deaths under the jaws of the monsters and the aliens' spears as they fell back to the remains of their vehicles. The other vehicles made to retrieve them, but were driven back by the serpent and mastodons.

Nibaasiniiwi was pulling the formation back together, bellowing orders over the vox.

“We can't leave our brothers in that mess!” Khârn shouted, as a mastodon overturned two rhinos.

“Picking them up will just expose us again!” snapped Tannhäuser.

“Then we bail!” Nix replied. “Captain Khârn-" Khârn shot him a look, but nodded "-myself and my squad, and any other man not driving or manning a gun.”

Sergeant Cato regarded him through his eye slits. “I thought we'd got the crazy out of you?”

Nix ignored him. “We loop back, run as close as we can and the infantry bail. We can do it.”

Nibaasiniiwi laughed. “Lieutenant, you've got guts. Let's try it!”

The mashkode came around with absurd speed for such huge machines, the smaller vehicles dispersing to give them room, all the while hurling fire as the Eldar tried to intercept. Nix and Khârn sprang from the vehicle's side door, their squads following. Nix rolled through the deep snow, hauling himself upright and shouldering his bolter. All around him the Astartes did the same as they raced towards the nearest downed vehicle.

One of the riders came at Nux and he first a burst straight into the slavering jaws. Then, hardly breaking stride, he grabbed his sword and cut down the Eldar before he could rise to attack. Looking over his shoulder, he grinned as he saw Shepherds, Wardens and Bears behind him.

Taken by surprise, the xenos faltered as the convoy continued hurling ordnance at them and the warriors on the ground, covered by the jetbikes, regrouped around a crippled mashkode where the beasts would struggle to reach. This was what the Shepherds were best at; precisely applied force, using the environment to their advantage.

Not that they'd escaped the great serpent's attention. The huge head loomed over them, the jaws opening wide. Bolter fire simply pinged off its scales and the big guns on the war machines couldn't target it effectively.

Then they heard the howling, and Yoxer Bellows appeared above and behind the serpent's rider. He'd taken his bike recklessly high and and was now diving. He threw himself clear and as he struck the back of the creature's head, he wedged one of his axes between two scales. The rider turned, but Bellows had already drawn his bolter, and blew its head clean off.

Without direction, the serpent laid waste to everything around it. The Eldar and their beasts were close and more visible than the Astartes, so they died by the dozen. Despite the huge movements of the creature under him Bellows hauled himself along its snout with his tomahawks. The serpent tried to shake him loose, but he hung on with fierce determination. When he reached the jaws he paused for just a second before swinging himself over the edge and hurling a bandolier of Krak grenade into the open mouth. Then he unhooked his axes and dropped, vanishing into the deep snow.

There was a loud bang. The serpent swayed, drooling blood. Then it crashed to the ground, scattering the remaining Eldar. At once, the war machines attacked, routing them, while the men on the ground set about retrieving their injured comrades.

Khârn went to the spot where Bellows had landed and, after half a minute’s digging with help from the rest of his men, pulled the Iron Bear from the snow. Bellows had several broken bones but would live to tell the tale, if not fight again for a week or so. Laughing and wrapping his good arm around Nix, he explained that they would have to share several casks of something called “mjod” once the campaign was finished.

Medicae units were called in via dropship, and Mechanicus elements arrived to salvage what they could from the wrecked vehicles. Updated orders were issued; the Shield Lord would meet them outside the Eldar fortress city with the rest of his forces.

Then the convoy moved on, rushing into the frozen night.


Edited by bluntblade, 05 December 2016 - 03:23 AM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


#38
Skalpynock

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Tragic Foreshadowing
Author: Skalpynock
Legions: Godslayers, Warbringers
Time: Weeks before the Zbruch events, ~60 M.31
 
The starscape window opened before a world that could only be described as a paradise: forests of a bright green bordering oceans of the deepest blue, and beyond the terminator the lights of prosperous cities. But on this day, Alestria would burn. Inside the ship, two hosts of angels were assembled, preparing to lay waste to this heaven among the stars. Orange and white, steel and gold, and among them the primarchs of the Eighth and Ninth legions were staring at the gem below. The order of purgation had come as a surprise to both of them, their legions refusing the use of world-burning weaponry in any situation.
"Truly a tragedy, brother." the pariah observed, bowing his head toward the target.
"Tragic indeed, Koschei, but it is necessary." agreed Darzalas, joining him in the bow.
"How far shall we go in the name of necessity?" Kharkovic lamented "I already have the blood of a brother on my hands, Alexos and Morro are falling to their own madness, and now we are ordered to burn this jewel of a world! Tell me Kozja, how far will we go in the name of the Stormborn?
Darzalas put an armoured hand on his brother's pauldron
 "It is unfortunate, and I cannot help but agree with you. The Emperor is a tyrant, Icarion is corrupted; but really, what can we do? The General shares this sentiment as well, but what could three legions hope to do against fifteen?
"We have a saying on Zbruch, 'Better die free than survive under a tyrant', one common to all peoples in the galaxy. Even if we can't make a difference, we must attempt."
"This we shall. But for now, this world must be reconquered." He turned to his warriors, standing in perfectly ordered ranks. "Voitely, are we no better than the likes of Yucahu or Coch'ise? Shall we bring Alestria to the fold by fire, or by example?"
 
 
An account of Iyacrax
Author: Skalpynock
Legions: Warbringers, Iron Bears, Imperial Army
Time: 50.M31
 

Iyacrax. Gloooorious battle...  No, who am I kidding? My rotogun's jammed, I tossed it in the Drakozan's remains and now all I have to fight with is a rusty Terran laskarbin. They say it's the same design since fething M2. I think they're right, I couldn't hit a Titan ten meters away with it. And now I'm in a hole, trying to find someone to kill who might have a better gun than me. But cosmos please not an Astartes. I still wanna make it out alive. I think I won't, if that whistling is what I think it is. Hoping that's not falling on me, hoping that's not phosphex. That helmet's already unbearable when open, the respirator would kill me. Boooom goes the ground, blind go my eyes. Feth. That was close, that wasn't phosphex, but my hole is going to collapse. I'm gonna die. No. Not without a proper gun, I refuse to go down with this piece of crap in my hands. I still have a dignity. Rising. A building just collapsed, maybe there's something there. Walking over debris is horrible, feels like everything's falling at every step. And it does. Laying in broken rockrete, but I won't stay here and leave myself to die like some weakling hussar. Rising. Would've broken my legs if they weren't augmentics. I'm hearing voices from the ruins, but I can't tell an accent. Definitely not Skitarii though, they're talking. Grabbing a 'nade just in case. Found a hole, crawling in. They can't see me, but I do: black armor, small powerpacks, armourglass helmets. Fellow Katas. Also a bunch of Wolves in a corner, and Cossacks here and there. Pools of blood and bandaged limbs everywhere, pieces of armor taped together. They've been far. They could use my support, and this gun's bayonet doesn't look that bad.

||  Thoughtstreams of trooper Astasia Dulnas, Xth Nova-Dodeka regiment Zalmoxite Cataphracts ||

 

 

Ghosts of times neverborn

Author: Skalpynock

Legions: Warbringers, Vlka Fenryka, Word Bearers, Iron Hands, Blood Angels

Time: 07X.M31 (mainly)

 

As the portal fell apart, so did reality. The Warp and Webway collapsing on themselves made the mirages more intense, turning from clouds to ever-shifting visions. Darzalas saw himself fortified in the Alabaster Palace, attacked by the Wolves, and Astartes in grey or black liveries he did not recognize. He saw himself as an angel, dying at the feet of a madman fighting the Emperor. He saw himself on the esplanade of Qarith Prime, named Warmaster in place of Alexandros. He saw himself as an old man in a galaxy at peace, studying sequences for a "Novus Anthropos", as he had dreamed all those years ago. He cast off these ghosts, histories that would never get to pass. If he was to survive, he had to flee this place quickly.


Edited by Skalpynock, 03 April 2016 - 01:37 PM.

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#39
bluntblade

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Monsters of Our Own
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Scions Hospitalier (Pionus), The Drowned, Legio Gojira
Time: 50 (I think?) M31

The night the Scions Hospitalier returned to the war, Governor Suri strutted along the ramparts, admiring his city. The bribes he had demanded for his loyalty had been granted, and now, besides a greater share of the planet’s tithes, he had command of several fine Army divisions. His subordinates had to hide their grins at the way the little man visibly swelled with pride. They held their tongues out of a hope that the newfound largesse might trickle down to them. Knowing their cantankerous old governor, it was unlikely, but worth a try.

In any case, the aristocracy of Xilea had done well out of the new order. Their factoria were kept busy, and with victory after victory won against the old Imperium, they basked in the reflected glory of the Stormborn. They had chosen well, and feared no retribution, especially with a detachment of The Drowned present in the city.

For this reason, they were somewhat surprised by the speed with which the fleet translated in-system. When the vessels frantically contacted then to report an attack by the False Emperor's lackeys, they hardly believed it. But then they appeared, behind the Warbringers ships. A fleet of the XIX Legion.

The planet's defence fleet responded with commendable speed, enveloping the Warbringers ships to protect them. But then the IVth Legion vessels opened fire on them, inflicting hideous damage with their broadsides. The fleet reeled, and before they could respond to this betrayal the Scions hit them. Ships were disabled and boarded or destroyed outright, and Xilea's defenders were powerless to stop them from making planetfall.

Massive impacts were sighted out to sea. Then silence fell as soldiers manned the walls, others deploying to the beaches below. Their customary swagger was ebbing away. They had been nurtured with propaganda to the effect that the empire of lies could not resist those who fought for the true Emperor. But that propaganda had also declared that the Stormlord would keep his realm safe, pushing only forward to liberate all of Mankind. Nothing had been said of the false Emperor pushing back. Now the enemy came to them, with murderous intent.

Odyssalas stepped onto the shore, Ladon in his hand. He rejoiced to fight with his Legion again, but had not accepted a new command. Instead he fought beside his new brothers; Khârn, Nux and Bellows stood beside him, and behind them Scylla Cohort emerged from the sea, blazing away at the defenders. Along the beach the same scene played out as the Scions Hospitaller brought their guns to bear on the enemy. Enemy soldiers were mown down and gun emplacements on the beach were flattened. Pionus himself appeared, his grav-thrusters scattering enemies like dust in a gale. Immediately the guns on the battlements swiveled to target him and ordnance ripped up the beach around him. For all that, the primarch was unharmed, and now he brought another weapon to bear on the Insurrectionists.

Vast figures, bedecked with guns, emerged from the sea, water cascading off them, all hurling fire into the city. Half the men on the walls fled in terror, only to be dragged back to their posts by discipline-masters. The gunners turned their attention away from Pionus, trying to hurt the Titans instead. Aircraft swept over the city to engage them, and were struck out of the air. Then the Rex Monstra raised its great, snarling head and a gout of blue fire flowed over the wall. Those defenders who were not reduced to ash straight away tumbled from the battlements, shrieking. The Titans and robots lashed the walls with ordnance, reducing rockcrete to powder and molten slag.

As a breach was opened, The Drowned’s captain led his Astartes to bar the way. To his credit, he did not back down when a primarch advanced on him, but the outcome was never in doubt. Leviathan speared him through both hearts, and his company were crushed beneath the feet of the Depthstriders.

Odyssalas felt a fierce satisfaction as he cut a path through the treacherous enemy. They had thought they could sweep the Scions from the board with a single attack. They never learned that lesson; hubris always has a price. We exact it in blood. This was the retribution he had yearned for, the hope that had sustained him through his lonely struggle after the ambush.

With Legio Gojira and Scylla Cohort at their backs, Pionus and his sons brought the fury of the Emperor to those who had betrayed him.

Edited by bluntblade, 08 June 2016 - 12:13 AM.

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#40
bluntblade

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Dead Dreams
Author: bluntblade
Legion: Berserkers of Uran
Major Characters: Slynnat
Time: 44 M31

All his life, Darius Merwe had revered the space marines. As a boy, they were the heroes he and his friends played in almost all their games in the streets of Hive Draksburig. Throughout the trials of becoming a soldier in the Imperial Army, the dream that he might see the Astartes in battle had kept him going. Then, two glorious times, it had become reality. He had been privileged to see the Halcyon Wardens lay waste to the greenskins, and watched the Godslayers bring war to the ice-horrors of Meroth IV.

Now, those days felt like an age ago. Ever since that dreadful day when violence had erupted across the Imperium, and his superiors had begun to detail ways in which mortal soldiers might bring down a space marine.

He wondered if they had killed any of the black-clad giants with the cumbersome new guns. Amidst the explosions and gunfire it had been impossible to tell, and the Astartes had been so fast. A few blasts of whatever jet-thrusters they used, and the Berserkers of Uran were on them.

Tears mingled with the blood on his face as he staggered through the alleys. Men had been obliterated before his eyes, disintegrating under bolter fire or shredded with chainblades. Any pretense of fighting had been abandoned, and now they fled through the streets, trying to stay alive for a few more minutes. A retreat had been attempted, only for the invaders to bomb the spaceport. Then it became apparent that the hive was to serve as an example.

People of all kinds lay dead across the streets, murdered by the warriors meant to save humanity. Monuments to Unity were cast down and vandalised. The ideals he had venerated all his life, violated by those he had idolised.

A shadow fell across him. Before he could even look up, the chainblade ripped through his stomach. Next thing he knew he was lying on his side, hands full of his intestines. A face looked down at him from behind a strange spiked mask. It was hideous, pallid and blistered like his armour, with lines of scars trailing away from either side of the Berserker's mouth.

“You were meant to save us…” Darius gasped.

The scarred features twisted into a dismissive sneer. That was all the reaction he got. The Astartes turned and vanished into the smoke, leaving Darius to gasp his life out in the dust.

Edited by bluntblade, 18 April 2016 - 10:03 PM.

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#41
Sigismund229

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Never Give Up. Never Give in
Author: Sigismund229
Legion: Lots?
Time: c.070 M31
The walls had fallen hours earlier. Now all that remained were heaps of rubble around the shattered husk of Eternity Gate. The sky was choked with ash, covering the Imperial Palace in eternal night illuminated only by chemical fires left over from flamers, or the occasional sunburst flare of a plasma weapon. There were enormous rents in the earth everywhere you looked, caused by the incessent shelling from traitor ordinance, which was even now exploding amidst the wreckage of the Imperial Palace and hurling great clods of earth and smoke into the air above it, further thickening the ash cloud. In the outer reaches of the Palace, those where the shields had fallen, the traitor fleet bombarded the loyalist outposts that held out with a savagery unmatched by any battle in living memory. The earth shook as titans strode across the battlefield, their footfalls creating fresh craters. Heat from Terra's core spewed out from rents in the earth the size of a strike cruiser. The mountains amidst which the Imperial Palace was nestled had been levelled. Miniature mushroom clouds from rad weapons could be seen wherever you looked. This was how Terra appeared to Nathaniel Garro on the 42nd day of the Siege.

All around him were scattered the bodies of dead Wardens of Light and Crimson Lions, their armour cracked and rent, their flesh defiled and the proud sigils of their legions almost wiped from their armour by days of constant battle. In truth, he looked little better. He had lost his own helmet in the early days of the Siege and had been forced to scavenge a mkVI helm from a dead Halycon Warden when the outer walls fell, just as he had been forced to replace his right arm's plates with those of a fataly wounded Warden of Light and his left shoulder guard with one scavenged from the dismembered arm of a Fire Keeper. Even with these replacements, his armour was barely serviceable, having been patched up nearly a dozen times since the siege began. All paint had been scorched off of the remaining original parts, leaving them just bare metal. His power sword,that he'd been carrying since the Unification Wars, power cell had died days ago, rendering it useless and he'd lost his shield, forcing him to fight with a scavenged bolter and combat knife. Any astartes he looked at around him was in similarly bad condition and they were about to call upon their beaten and crudely patched up armour once more. In the distance, they could hear the Berserkers of Uran chanting as they prepared to charge up the slopes of rubble at the defenders of Eternity Gate once more. Checking that he had ammunition left, Garro made ready. Eternity Gate must hold.

When the Berserkers reached them, formation immediately broke apart and it degenerated into a mass of individual battles, all unit cohesion forgotten. Garro fought back to back with a Warden of Light, pumping bolter shots into the Berserkers who attacked them or slitting their throats with his knife. Then his bolter's clip ran dry. Not able to afford the time it would take to reload, Garro simply used it as a club, hammering it into the face of his enemies. At some point in the vicious fighting his combat knife broke and he picked up a chainsword to keep fighting. Over the vox, he could hear the Fire Keepers screaming for support at Lions Gate as they were cut down by the sadistic warriors of the Eagle Warriors and the Halycon Wardens spitting curses at the Drowned as they fought them hand to hand. Behind him, the Warden of Light fell, his neck spurting blood. Garro stood over his body, protecting it from any who might seek to desecrate it before a Warden's apothacery could retrieve the warrior's gene seed. Garro had never learnt his name but the warrior was his brother by deed even if not by blood and he deserved for his legacy to survive him. Garro saw a custodian piled to the ground and hacked apart by Berserkers, overwhelmed by the number of his foes.

Above all the cries for support on the vox or the growls of hatred, Garro heard thousands of apothaceries calling for cover as they sought to save their fallen brother's gene seed. He saw one vault over the body of a Berserker and send an entire clip from his bolt pistol crashing into the chest of an Berserker's apothacery starting to extract a fallen Crimson Lion's gene seed. The apothacery in question then reloaded and sought to extract the fallen legionnaires gene seed even though the legionnaire was a Crimson Lion and the apothacery was a Fire Keeper and Warden of Light with a plasma gun stood vigil over the apothacery as he carried out his task. Brothers in deed.

Over the vox, Garro heard a Fire Keepers holding the Eagle Warriors in the Hall of Triumphs as they began to roar out "Never give up! Never give in!" over and over, defiant even as they fell. Soon, every loyalist warrior on Terra was roaring it. Never give up. Never give in.
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#42
Sigismund229

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Shoulder-breaker
Author: Sigismund229
Legions: None.
Timeframe: Sometime in the Insurrection

It had been raining for days. The ground surrounding trooper Gotvried von Hal of the 96th Prussan Grenadiers had become a quagmire of mud. He had been forced to crawl further up his foxhole in order to avoid the rapidly rising pool of water in the bottom of it, not necessarily for comfort as it made little difference to him whether he was wet with mud or wet with water but to keep his gun out of the water. While it ought to be proof against the elements, Gotvried didn't want to take the risk that it wasn't as without it he only had his lascarbine which was utterly unable to penetrate power armour.

His primary weapon was the ACT31. He didn't know what the letters stood for and nor did he much care. The Imperial Army had begun to be issued with ACT's, or shoulder-breakers as their gunners called them, a year or so ago in order to give them a weapon capable of penetrating power armour. While they already had plasma and melta guns, those were far too difficult to maintain and produce to be issued to rank and file guardsmen. The shoulder-breaker was none of those things. Essentialy an upscaled autogun, it was a single shot weapon which fired a 40mm shell at the enemy which would then penetrate the power armour through sheer mass and speed. Because of this, it was a simple weapon to produce and lacked all the moving parts that made more complex weapons so difficult to maintain. Because of this, it was loved amongst the frontline troopers even if it was a bitch to keep supplied and move around(when moving it required a two man crew), the bolt action was quite sticky, it had a short range and it had been known to break the shoulder of the man firing it through recoil. Despite all of these shortcomings, the men of the Imperial Army had never been more thankful to receive any other piece of kit in their whole lives as it gave them a chance to kill astartes. However, even of it was more common than plasma and melta guns, the shoulder-breaker was still relatively rare and so only the best shots in each platoon got one. In the case of B platoon, 3rd Company of the 96th Prussan Grenadiers that had been Gotvried.
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#43
bluntblade

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A Family Meal
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Godslayers (Koschei), Lightning Bearers (Icarion), Void Eagles (Yucahu), Halcyon Wardens (Daer'dd), Berserkers of Uran (Raktra), Scions Hospitalier (Pionus), Crimson Lions (Hectarion), The Drowned (Morro), Warriors of Peace (the Jade General), Fire Keepers (Niklaas), Iron Bears (Daer'dd), Custodes (the Emperor)
Time: 0 M31

Koschei would enjoy this banquet far more if it didn't seem to flaunt the stratified society of the Imperium. The Emperor with his sons and advisors, then the elite of the Adeptus Astartes- carefully positioned so as to avert any inter-Legion spats- the Navis Nobilite, senior magos and the highest echelons of the Imperial Army. Below them, captains, lieutenants alongside bureaucrats, and finally, Terran high society. His lip curls as he takes in opulent garments, faces flushed with drink and probably maintained by rejuvenation treatments, and the mouths, always gossiping. And they call the lower orders vulgar. Right down to the soldiers who fought and the workers who toiled, that their cosseted existence might continue.

His thoughts turn to the foul discovery of Nostromo, and he scowls into his goblet. And all this to mark another rank being added to the Imperium, a barrier placed between Alexandros and his brothers.. One day we'll set aside these divisions. One day we'll just be the family of Mankind.

-----

"Lord?” Valdor begins to his master. "Taikere humbly wishes to speak with you.”

“Our hero of Stengah has only to ask for my attention. Taikere?”

The Custodian clears his throat, fighting to keep his train of thought faced with the full force of his lord's presence. “Well, lord, on our journey here I have spent much time in the training cages with the Astartes. This has led me to ponder the… I hesitate to say flaws, but the potential vulnerabilities in our fighting style. I daresay only a handful of Astartes could defeat one of us in single combat, but we cannot match them for group cohesion.”

“And you propose a solution?” Asks the Emperor.

“More a means by which we might find solutions, lord. The great games lord Hectarion devised begin in a fortnight. What say we suggest an additional contest?”

Valdor frowns. “Do you envy your Astartes friends’ place in the sun?”

“I would not begrudge Raiden or Pyrrhicles a lifetime of acclaim.” Taikere replies smoothly. It's quite true; the new name, Trajan, bestowed on him after Stengah, is honour enough. “My idea would pit a group, say, five of us, against a full squad from each Legion. A test of tactics and cooperation.”

“Do you think the Astartes will be tempted?” asks the Emperor.

Taikere grins. “My lord, there is no prouder man than an Astartes. They will have the chance to excel, grow as warriors, show up their fellow legions and give the Custodes a bloody nose. How could any space marine refuse?”

-----

Every Primarch, except one, has a few names and titles. Usually one private name by which their legion knows them, another for their brothers and the title that defines them for the rest of the Imperium. Hunter of the Depths, Steel Prince… Wolf King. Icarion winces at the way the memory drifts up, and returns to his original train of thought. The Jade General, clearing his plate neatly and in total silence, observant of everything around him but never entering into conversation. How much of his inscrutability is down to that refusal to take a name? Even among his pariah brothers, he is a cypher.

Icarion frowns, resolving to get to know his brother better. He wonders if Alexandros has had more success. He hopes so; the Warmaster should know the minds of his generals. But better than I do? Was I not the first among us? The strange new reality still troubles him. He never adopted Daer'dd's nickname, but Alexandros is still his “little brother” in some unspoken way. What's more, he saw how his brother reacted at the Triumph. Does he believe that Father chose wrongly? And if he believes that, how can I not?

-----

Somehow, the sight of Daer'dd eating with knife and fork, neatly taking meat off the bone, is far stranger than watching him fashion wonders at his forge. Niklaas watches with amusement, smiling at the reluctance with which Daer'dd handles his cutlery. His eyes are only drawn away by a change in the pitch of conversation nearby; the Iron Queen's newfound sociability has caused a minor stir.

“The Iron Bear, Master of the Forge… match-maker,” Alexandros drawls on Daer'dd's other side, as his eyes follow Minerva An’saalmo and Ellan Temeter to their seats. “How did you instigate that, brother, under the eyes of the Iron Queen? Everyone knows Captain Sarrin’s views on remembrancers.”

“Lotara’s softened. The shared excitement of a few void battles, and spending time around me forced them to speak to one another,” Daer'dd shrugs, reaching for his goblet. “And I suggested they spar together. For a long time, no mortal was brave enough to step into a practice cage with Minerva who wasn’t one of the Daughters.” His fangs flash in a rueful grin.

Yucahu frowns. “Why go to all that trouble, brother?”

“Minerva has helped saved billions of lives and my own several times. Nudging her towards some happiness is really the least I could do. And frankly, serving under Lotara is much less stressful for the crew these days.”

After a few servings of Nerith, the new Warmaster’s foresight isn't quick enough for him to talk over Raktra’s low grumble to Morro that “the Bear doesn't just treat his mortals like pets, now he plays at making them friends. Like a child with dolls.” Fortunately, he does manage to forestall Daer'dd before he can stand up. They aren't going to repeat the aftermath of the Caliban fiasco.

“Easy, big brother. Raktra's just jealous that his flagship hasn't swatted a vessel five times its own size. Maybe it would if his crew were treated better.”

Hectarion sighs. “He doesn't help himself. He's had long enough to learn about compassion, Cthonians learn well enough. But he runs his Legion like a gang, and that dictates how his compliances play out.” One thing that reliably brings out Hectarion’s choler is his ashen-skinned brother. “I wonder what Father intended him for?”

“Let's not go there, brother,” Daer'dd warns. If Alexandros and Raktra are drawn into an argument here, it will be disastrous. “What matters is how he is handled, and I'm sure our brilliant Warmaster will deploy him sensibly.”If he’ll let me, thinks the Warmaster darkly, though he keeps his counsel. He has to display their father's certainty of purpose.

But the suddenness of his elevation troubles him; he has the Emperor’s example, but not his direct guidance. Not once they take their leave of Terra. Would they be this fractious if we were celebrating Icarion's elevation? He searches for an easier topic, and finds it a few tables away. “There's something in your remembrancer’s face I recognise, Daer'dd. Care to enlighten me?”

“She's from old Albyon warrior stock, which probably helped matters with Lotara now I think of it. Her great-great-grandfather was Ullis Temeter.”

“Ah.” Damn. Another downward turn to the conversation. Maybe he should have let Hectarion stretch out his tale of miserable Barbarus. Then again, with all these powerful pariahs at one table, perhaps the gloomy mood is inevitable. “I take it you've shown her his name on the wall of the lost?”

“Aye. Strange, to think that I remember him like we fought together yesterday, and no one in his family now lives who knew him.”

“It's a strange universe, brother,” smiles Alexandros, still seeking some way to lighten the mood.

-----

Malcador surveys the dignitaries at the other end of the courtyard, wondering how these socialites end up infesting every occasion his master arranges. Fifty days of celebrations including today now they have arrived on Terra, and at every one the frivolous bores have been present, nattering away. And then ten more days for the games- eleven, if Aquillon gets his wish.

Not to mention the eaxactors and all the other functionaries who even now keep pestering him. Although, he considers with a grim smile, he now has the option of sending the Warmaster to see that they moderate their demands. Primarchs are good at giving mortals pause, after all. That might get him a reprieve. But then there is the work to attend to…

-----

Yucahu scowls. “Sentimentality does you no service, Daer'dd. The mortals’ task is to do as they are required, as is ours. Mothering them should not come into it. Neither should your indulgence of the remembrancers. “

“Actually, they are a very useful weapon. Diplomatically speaking, that is. If people look askance at my soldiers, I send them artists, people who can show them the bounty of the Imperium.”

“People who look, sound and think like them too,” Alexandros adds. “That's not to be underestimated.”

“Bah, any culture worthy of the Imperium should have the intelligence to recognise that opposing us is futile. Those too slow-witted to grasp that will only pollute us with weakness."These brothers, Alexandros groans internally. And I have to direct them all so the Crusade keeps running smoothly. Half the job will be keeping them away from one another. No matter which way he tries to steer the conversation tonight, his brothers seem intent on dragging it back to either discord or morbidity. Just let me find something else to talk about… aha!

“Say, Pionus,” he calls, jolting Pionus from a reverie about why the magos of the Mechanicus attend a feast only to slot a nutri-pack or two into place- it's not like they offer much conversation. “Pionus! You took Daer'dd hunting a few years back after he forged your trident. I have a new spear to test. Where's my invitation?”

Edited by bluntblade, 26 May 2017 - 10:48 PM.

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#44
bluntblade

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Marek
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Iron Bears, Shepherds of Eden
Major characters: Nix Pyrruk, Ellan Temeter, Yoxer Bellows
Time: 0 M31

The last thing Ellan had expected to think was how young he looked. She knew it was absurd; Captain Pyrruk was decades older than her, but there was something distinctly boyish about his face. It was especially jarring with him stripped to the waist, displaying the scarification that marred his chest and marked him as a son of Uran.

She watched him and Bellows working the forge, tempering Pyrruk’s new sword. The vast mountain cavern, usually thronging, was all but empty. It seemed every other Astartes was preparing for the great games to celebrate the Warmaster’s elevation. She had wondered if Pyrruk and the other Shepherds resented their exclusion from the events.

“We have our pride,” replied Pyrruk evenly, testing the sword’s weight. “And certainly there are men among us who would gladly step into the ring. But we understand why we shouldn't.”

“Isn't the purpose of the games to celebrate our heroes, Captain? Surely you and your brothers have every right to display your talents?”

Pyrruk looked up from the sword. “They are also meant to celebrate the unity of our cause. We are… contentious, especially in relation to Warmaster Alexandros. If grievances were to flare about his conduct regarding us, it would be unacceptable. Not to mention what might occur if a Shepherd was to step into the ring with a warrior of the VIIth.”

“You don't mean to say-”

“I don't wish to say anything outright,” he replied, keeping his tone neutral. “We are content to bear wit- to watch, and represent our Legion.” The Shepherds did have their pride, she thought. The blade whirled, cutting the air in a figure of eight. Pyrruk was wiry by the standards of an Astartes, but he moved with a speed she had only seen in the Scions Hospitalier before.

From what she'd heard, Pyrruk was singular among the Astartes. She'd leaned on Bellows slightly to let her accompany him and convince Pyrruk to speak to her. Despite his initial reluctance, Pyrruk had opened right up. So, as the weapon took shape, they discussed his origins and strange career, peppered with quiet musings on what fear meant to an Astartes.

After a while she realised that this was a subject he had rarely broached with his fellows, and had wrestled with for years during the difficult transition from a failed Berserker of Uran to a Shepherd. For a mortal, without the hypno-conditioning of a space marine, it was easier to understand the concepts and experiences he spoke of. For many years, he had wondered if his “failure” had stemmed from some ingrained weakness. In the years after that, he was wracked by hatred for what he had been, which had threatened to boil over into self-destruction. The mass of scars on his shoulder blades showed where he had cut out the marks from the red-hot chains which had branded him upon ascension.

As the hours went by though, Pyrruk grew happier as they spoke more of his acceptance by the rest of the Shepherds, and the firm friends he had found among other Legions. They had helped him to become the respected warrior who stood before her now. His new weapon served as an emblem of that journey.

“You're pleased with it?” Not that she had ever seen anyone displeased with a Bear’s handiwork, but then they rarely wielded power weapons of their own. They loved the roar of chainblades, she supposed; Nibaasiniiwi was one of the few exceptions with his talons. Perhaps this was why Bellows’ creation bore so few of the Bears’ usual hallmarks. Apart from subtle Huronic engravings on the hilt and blade, it was more in keeping with the Shepherds' Mediaeva heritage.

Pyrruk smiled, looking even more boyish than before. “She's a beauty, especially after a year of fighting with standard-issue swords.” He turned to Bellows, inclining his head. “Thank you, brother. The balance is exquisite.”

Bellows’ beard failed to obscure his grin. “Just don't go breaking this one, eh?” Pyrruk's old chainsword, a relic from his days as a Berserker of Uran, had been shattered in a battle against the agma constructs of the Koloss abomination. Bellows had immediately offered to craft a replacement, noting that a chainsword was rather out of place in a Shepherd’s hand anyway. Quite apart from his fondness for the young warrior, it had offered Bellows the chance to work in the great forge beneath Mount Narodyna. “You haven't seen the best bit, Nix. Fire her up!”

Pyrruk thumbed the power stud, and a disruptor field snarled into life. Ellan gasped. It was like purple fire, tinged with blue, coruscating across the metal. The glossy black stone reflected it back, an island of light in the dimly lit chamber.

“We found the designs for this disruptor field on a space hulk five months ago,” Bellows explained. “Seemed a shame not to test them. Any idea what you'll call it?”

Pyrruk swung the weapon in another loop, frowning, before extinguishing the field. “There's a tale I read of a warrior who grew up in the service of a tyrant. Raised to fight for him, instead he found redemption in the guidance of a knight he was meant to kill. Just… don't mention it to Khârn.”

With mock solemnity, Bellows place a hand on the crossguard. “On this weapon and… ah, of course, lad. Your secret’s safe.” he laughed, clapping Pyrruk on the shoulder. “Now, the name?”

Pyrruk held the blade up and again the violet flames bloomed. “Marek.”

Edited by bluntblade, 01 September 2016 - 08:59 PM.

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#45
bluntblade

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Treachery in the Depths
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Scions Hospitalier, The Drowned, Fire Keepers (the Ember Host)
Time: 40 M31 (the Day of Revelation)
Major characters: Odyssalas

Odyssalas’ glaive flickered through the recycled air, stabbing and slicing into the weak points between armour plates. He cut into The Drowned with controlled fury. He spun round one Astartes and jabbed into the side of his neck. Ladon severed the spinal cord and the warrior collapsed, spasming as Odyssalas lunged towards another target. Feinting with the glaive he stepped inside his enemy's guard and brought a hand up to the marine’s face. A Narthecium blade stabbed out, puncturing the eye lens and driving into the warrior’s skull.

No one knew better how to kill an Astartes than an Apothecary, and today he was exploiting every scrap of knowledge his training had armed him with. His Narthecium was proving especially lethal, now that he had laced it with his store of “peacegiver”; neurotoxins to potent as to grant almost instant release to a doomed brother. Now he used it to slay his attackers, once his comrades.

He hated it, not just because he was turning his skills to such ends. They don't deserve such clean deaths.

Ladon had saved his life today, he was certain of that. Once he would have left it behind, but in truth, ever since his honour brother had taken it to the forge to repair it after Laeran, Odyssalas had been reluctant to let it out of his sight.

He glanced around. Half his company remained standing. The losses - Sergeant Agamellos bludgeoned to death, Brother Theollosus’ chest blown open - wrenched at his heart, but only one thing mattered on this station any more.

“To the Primarch!"

-----

The Scions knew their enemy well, better than anyone else did- but that understanding worked both ways, and The Drowned were better prepared for this fight. Their weapons were selected for their ability to breach Astartes plate, they had chosen to attack when the Scions were sparsely equipped, and they had no hesitance in mowing down their fellow space marines. If they felt the same misery and horror as Odyssalas, it didn't show. Their kills were brutal, with no effort to make them clean or painless. Guns blasted at point-blank range and power fists crunched into faceplates. Mortally wounded Astartes were left to die in their wake.

Brother Hephaest misjudged a parry and was thrown off balance. His opponent shoved a bolter up under his arm and fired. Hephaest screamed as detonations ripped through his shoulder. The Drowned Man rammed his sword into the reeling Scion’s throat and twisted, before lunging at Sergeant Patroclus. But the veteran was steelier than young Hephaest and barrelled into the other Astartes, bringing the Drowned Man down with an axe-cut through the thigh before grabbing his enemy's gun and firing a burst into his chest.

Odyssalas fired his glaive’s volkite, and a Drowned man burst into flames which rapidly spread to his brothers. It was a reprieve, however brief, and Odyssalas’ men didn't need telling to gather up enemy bolters and turn them upon their attackers. That made the fight easier, but the numbers were still against them. The Drowned were relentless, clambering over the corpses.

A door on their left opened and Astartes in deep red plate burst in. For a second the Scions hesitated. Then the newcomers raised their hands and fire gouted from them. Odyssalas whirled to the side as several of his men were immolated. Bolter ammunition ignited, blasting hands off. The Fire Keepers made no move to finish the wounded off cleanly, continuing to douse them with flames. The reek of burning flesh filled his nostrils, forcing its way through his helm’ filters. A foul way to kill warriors. Ducking under another another wave of fire he struck upwards, slicing into a Fire Keeper’s hip joint and bringing him down.

Patroclus also closed successfully, jabbing his gladius through an attacker’s eye. But then another psyker grabbed his face, and the flames surged across Patroclus’ visage. With a howl of fury, Odyssalas was on the Fire Keeper. His Narthecium stabbed into the warrior's neck and he yanked it to the side, laying his throat open to the bone. Then, as the rest of his men closed with the attackers, he ducked to deliver some peacemaker to Patroclus. The sergeant’s face was an agonised leer of blackened bone, with even his throat burned away. Odyssalas realised that was the first time today he had used the poison for its intended purpose.

“They’ll pay, brother. They’ll pay one thousandfold.”

He leapt back to his feet and raced into the melee. He darted straight past another enemy, reversing his blade to plunge it into the other warrior’s power pack. The man went rigid, suddenly encumbered by his heavy armour. Ladon slashed across the back of his knee, forcing him to the floor. Odyssalas raised the glaive, then thought better of it. Instead he activated a breaching charge and dropped it on the floor by the struggling figure, then followed his remaining men into the next corridor.

Is this happening elsewhere? How far does it stretch? He glanced at the carving on his vambrace, and his hand curled into a fist. I won't believe it of the Bears.

He put the thought aside. That was for later. All that mattered now was getting Pionus off-world. Everything else was just a hindrance to that goal. A power fist swinging for his skull, dodged, sent crashing to the deck trailing half a wrist. The wounded man Odyssalas shoved into his comrades’ path of fire, chunks of armour and meat bursting from the warrior’s back. The squeal of his volkite again, this time the traitors dying in fire.

Drumming boots ahead of him, heavier, slower impacts behind. Terminators, then. They were cut off. Only two options left. Well, let's take the one that does the most damage. They set the remaining charges at each end of the room, tucking them under corpses before retreating toward the far side as the enemy burst in. Fourth Company. He recognised the heraldry, and the hooked sword in the captain's hand.

“It's over, Scion.” At least he'd expected that. In a way it was flattering; someone had decided he was enough of a danger to put real effort into isolating and killing him. They'd sent an old comrade.

It still hurt. “Lockett? At least address me by name, you treacherous bastard!”

Lockett was unmoved. “Does it matter? You're dead regardless.” Oddyssalas’ men charged, firing as they went. The two sides crashed together. Both knew there was no real chance of surrender, sincere or feinted. They were designed to keep going in the most hopeless situations. Odysalas fell back abruptly, his men doing the same, bunching together. Lockett’s warriors charged, seeing either a mistake by their opponents or simply the inevitable result of being outnumbered and confined. The traitors not immediately in front of them formed up with bolters. It wouldn't end with a valiant last stand and bloody blades. The Drowned were not sentimental about those things.

“Where did all that vaunted cunning go, Scion?” Lockett growled. “Are you really going to die like a clueless neophyte?” Odyssalas didn’t reply. Instead, as the Drowned stepped back, giving the warriors behind them room to fire, he called up a blink-rune on his helm display. The charges they had been laying since the Fire Keepers’ attack went off. Odysslas threw himself clear and Lockett’s shots went wide as cracks riddled the armourglass and metal buckled. Several Drowned Men were killed outright by the detonations, and even the Terminators suffered under the onslaught.

Lockett’s bolter rose too slowly. Odyssalas was on him, barrelling him to the ground. The other warrior went to parry with his combat blade, and Odyssalas let his glaive drop. His Narthecium blade sprang out again and he dragged it across his enemy's neck seal, blood welling up - maybe the cut was fatal, maybe not - before pouncing on the next man, sweeping up Ladon with his gauntlet's mag-lock as he went. The rest of his troops had made the same, sudden moves. Krak grenades flew overhead to explode among the enemy ranks. Eleven more had fallen, but now The Drowned were reeling in shock, and many weren't wearing sealed armour any more. The shock wouldn't last more than a few seconds - acceptable. Despite everything, Odyssalas grinned as Lockett struggled to his feet, raised a hand to his torn seal.

Then the glass and airlocks broke under the weight of the sea. The water smashed its way into the chamber, and Odyssalas was dragged out into the crushing blackness.

Edited by bluntblade, 11 April 2017 - 10:34 AM.

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Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


#46
bluntblade

bluntblade

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Title: Hive
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Grave Stalkers, Crimson Lions
Time: 996 M30
Major characters: Ajaway

Ajaway acknowledged Myrvallen Venutius’ message with a blink-rune and ordered his men to move out with another. Silently, the Grave Stalkers began to move up through the sewage pipes, into the hive city.

The walls shook, announcing the start of the Lions’ bombardment. Apart from breaching the Qarith defences, this would minimise the resistance in the Stalkers’ path. The operation had been planned to perfection, Venutius and his captains displaying a surprising willingness to cooperate with their cousins. A detachment of Grave Stalkers had even been sent back to the siege lines after the Qarith scarabs were destroyed; as far as the xenos were concerned, the ambushers were somewhere across the no-man’s land under the walls.

They went quietly, using mag-locks to move up the pipes. Even through their helmet filters the air was foul, the usual odour of a sewer overridden by even worse stenches. Alien effluent, and the runoff from the disgusting processes by which the Qarith derived their combat drugs and transformed themselves. Behind his visor, Ajaway’s nose wrinkled in disgust as a glutinous ooze covered his right shoulder guard. It was particularly vile to have their Wraith suits soiled in this way, though the specialised armour would be invaluable in the hive itself.

Anticipating the filth, they had brought canisters of detergent that would remove most of the contaminants. Among the Qarith's genetic arsenal was a superlative sense of smell, as the Astartes had learned in some costly operations early on in the campaign. This also necessitated making utterly clean kills, to prevent a wounded Qarith from alerting others with distress pheromones.

This, Ajaway believed, was the true test of a space marine’s skill and discipline. So the Stalkers couldn't match the combat records of the Lions or the Godslayers. Let the blunt instruments brag of their prowess in the scrum of the melee. They couldn't wage war as the XVth Legion did, and even if they didn't know it, the Stalkers did.

Emerging into the the subterranean streets they set off, pausing only to sever electric cables wherever they found them. Those Qarith they encountered were brought down with headshots and combat knives. The Stalkers proceeded in silence, Ajaway only using blink-runes to issue orders. Despite the silence, he could feel the urgency of the Reapers. The twenty of them were living time bombs, and ached to do what they had been brought here for.

In the dead quiet they could hear the distant sounds of the Lions breaking in. They would have to work quickly, otherwise their cousins would pay a heavy price in storming the hive.

Pressing on, they reached the threshold of the chamber where at last, they met proper resistance. A horde of wave serpents screeched as they sighted the Stalkers and immediately charged. Ajaway spoke, addressing the Reapers. “Go, honoured brothers, for Ka’wil and the Emperor.”

The Reapers surged ahead, shrieking battle cries as frightening as any noise made by the enemy. The two sides collided in a blur of claws, barbs and sabres. Reapers burned briefly, but for the brief time they survived, they were more than a match for the xenos in speed and ferocity. Three Reapers fell, gaping holes torn in their chests, but they took dozens of enemies with them. One had an arm torn away, but continued to fight until he was forced to the ground and disemboweled, shrieking and struggling all the while.

As the heavier Qarith variants lumbered forward to engage the Reapers, Ajaway and his remaining warriors used their Wraith suits to vanish into the shadows, skirting the fight and slashing at vulnerable points as they went. They felt the wave of their auras collide with the presence of a powerful psyker. The Queen. As they pressed forward, the xenos witch recoiled from their power.

The Grave Stalkers didn't boast the level of control that the Wardens of Light and Warriors of Peace enjoyed over their auras, but theirs had a primal potency to them. Already the Qarith were wavering as the queen struggled to coordinate them. They remained individually lethal and aggressive, but could no longer match the cohesion of their attackers.

Even in their berserk state the ten remaining Reapers fought as one, and even the Qarith elite could not stand against them. Below, the same scene would be playing out as the Lions’ shield wall crushed the aliens.

Now Ajaway drew within sight of the queen, fighting back a wave of nausea as he took in the grotesque form of the once-human creature. He moved closer, raising his sabre, but the potency of their null-auras had done their work already. The Qarith monster was in convulsions, its six eyes oozing what he assumed must be blood. Streams of the same substance issued from the slavering jaws. As he watched, it took a shuddering breath and pitched forward, its psychic presence dissipating in death.

Now the Qarith lost all cohesion as the Astartes hit them from both sides. The last six Reapers took off into the tunnels as the last of the xenos fell, Ajaway and his men following. After fighting in the wastes and the long wait in the tunnels, the Reapers’ only fate here was to die, and their terrible secret had to be kept from the rest of the Imperium.

-----

Apothecary Sigurd moved quietly through the hall, a retinue of his brothers beside him as he searched for fallen comrades. It was unlikely that any would have come this way, but even Clan Enthos had its hotheads. And someone had certainly come this way, judging by the trail of Qarith corpses. It would take days to fully explore the hive and account for all the Astartes who had entered.

He heard the sound of ragged breathing- human- and hastened to the source. It was an Astartes, but no Lion.

The grey skin was stretched taut with agony, and tremors shook the Grave Stalker’s body, magnified by his armour. He lay among heaps of Qarith warriors, but Sigurd perceived no wound that could have brought him down. “Search the area,” he instructed his escort, and began to prise open the warrior's warplate.

The off-white armour was marked with blood-red characters, and the Legion's clenched fist symbol was replicated over his primary heart. Sigurd found these marks unsettling in a way he couldn't quite describe. They were inelegant, but at the same time he wouldn't call them crude. Coupled with the ochre-stained bone ornaments, they gave a sense not of a warrior who sought to frighten with lurid war paint, but a man dispassionately declaring that his was the business of killing. Still, distasteful as their ways were to Sigurd, they were fellow Astartes, so he went about his task.

A hand locked onto his wrist. “No,” gasped the Stalker, his black eyes boring into Sigurd's. The apothecary glanced at the vambrace, and saw marks he had not noticed before. This was a Reaper, one of the legendary killers who killed by the hundred, but were never seen alive out of combat. All the same, he felt a creeping unease of a kind he had not experienced before. He couldn't attribute it entirely to the sight before him.

Well, Reaper or not, he was a fellow warrior and deserved the Emperor's peace. “Sorry, cousin,” he said gently. “But it's too late for you. All I can do is congratulate you on a fine last battle, and ease-”

The grip on his arm tightened. “Too- late- that…” the man's breath rattled in his throat and he went limp.

“Sir! Are you alright?”

“Fine, Aethred. Keep searching.” His Narthecium blade slid out of its sheath, and he prepared to cut away the undersuit and harvest the warrior's gene-seed. It would be a gesture of goodwill, he thought.

“Step away, Apothecary.” His head snapped up. How had he and his men not heard them approach? Then his shock redoubled as he saw that each of the newcomers had his weapons drawn. None went so far as to actually point one at him, but the intent was clear. Now the creeping dread intensified and he understood. Null auras, raw and untempered.

“I beg pardon, comrade. I only thought to-’

Away.” The speaker moved into the light, and Sigurd recoiled as he recognised the heraldry, the dark red skull painted over the faceplate. This could only be Ajaway, Lord of the Fallen. Shouts echoed behind Sigurd, his retinue going for their guns, but Ajaway’s men locked on to them with a speed that stopped the Lions in their tracks.

He nodded, raising his hands and sheathing the Narthecium. “Might I ask what offence I gave?” He asked, retreating.

Ajaway regarded him blankly through the lenses of his helm. “You don't need to know why. You just have to leave.”

Not understanding, but unwilling to press the point, Sigurd went back the way he had come. Before he rounded the corner he glanced back and met Ajaway’s gaze again. The captain's eyes did not leave him until he stepped into the darkness, wanting only to rejoin his brothers.

Edited by bluntblade, 08 September 2016 - 12:03 PM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


#47
bluntblade

bluntblade

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Title: Scavengers, Hunters
Author: bluntblade, Depthcharge
Legions: Scions Hospitalier, Fire Keepers
Time: 41 M31
Major characters: Odyssalas, Thirgen

The ruined station swarmed with predators like the mosasaura of ancient Terra. The area was full of carrion, more nourishing and appealing than anything they had consumed before. They had to prise open hard shells to get at the meat, but the great reptiles were persistent, and the largest had jaws that could break almost anything open.

But what they did not realise was that something hunted them. Odyssalas hit the water in a perfect dive, plunging toward a mosasaur. A Narthecium blade whipped out from his wrist, snipping the spinal cord at the base of the beast's skull. Then, gripping the limp corpse, he activated the vents on his power pack and shot towards the surface. He had to be out of the water before anything else caught the smell of blood.

He hauled the carcass onto a platform that was just above water, and set to work. He had dissected his first few kills, noting vulnerabilities that would make the hunt easier. Now he turned his surgical tools to butchering the creature. Good meat, supplemented with nutri-packs scavenged from the dead. He balked at feeding on his fallen brothers though, or even the enemy. I am a Captain of the Scions Hospitalier. I will not be reduced to a beast.

So for the last 41 days he had preyed on the creatures of the deep, setting containers to catch rainwater. That was easy enough. The difficult part was wrestling with his isolation, as he gazed up at the stars. He knew nothing of what was happening out there, save that rebellion had consumed at least one Astartes legion. How many Scions lived? Had other Legions turned against the Imperium? He did his best to put these thoughts aside, sinking into the routine of maintaining his equipment and ensuring he could get clean water.

He had always treated his gear with the immense respect common to his Legion, ignoring the bafflement or scorn of his cousins. Now, more than ever, he felt a strange debt to the ceramite and Machine Spirit that had stood vigil during his hours of unconsciousness, down in the depths. Dragging himself back to the light, he had made a home among the wreckage, and endured.

In time, however, he would have more immediate problems. The scavengers’ food supply would only last so long. Eventually they would withdraw into the depths, and he would have to follow. Even the most careful rationing wouldn't sustain him forever.

If he did sustain his body, he wondered how long his mind would keep up. He had scoured the ruins for the bodies of his comrades, extracting gene-seed and any useful equipment before committing them to the depths. Each time he found one, he conducted a private rite of mourning. Worst of all were his own men, who had even begun to haunt his dreams. So often Patroclus' face emerged from the dark, skin crisping and peeling in the fire. Five hundred men he had led for decades, murdered. Every night some of them died again, and he was powerless to save them.

Then he heard something, separate from the noise of the sea. He almost pulled a flare from his belt before thinking better of it. Whatever happened next, his life was about to change again.

-----

Captain Thirgen’s eyes narrowed as he took in the devastation. Remains of buildings jutted from the waves like broken bone through skin. From the Stormbird’s cockpit, he could see wreckage strewn across the surface. “Take us down there,” he commanded, pointing to one of the few structures remaining. Stormbirds were peeling off from the formation, seeking clues to what had happened here.

The squad made their way down the ramp, fanning out among the ruins. Thirgen picked his way through the debris, inspecting the bolt fragments and shattered remains of armour. The colours of the Scions and The Drowned, bearing the unmistakable marks of Space Marines weaponry.

He opened a channel to the commander. “Lord, we can confirm it. They turned their weapons on one another.” He spat. “Madness. What can have caused this?”

“No conjecture, Captain.” Sovereign Shamgar Anath’s voice carried a hint of reproach. “We will find our answers here.”

Shamgar Anath did not belong to Clan Barinthus, but he had been placed in command by Niklaas himself. In any case none would question the authority of a Sovereign of the First Circle of Chaplains, let alone a Master of the Kohathite War Guild. The titles marked him out as one of the Legion's most formidable siege masters.

Whispers followed the old warrior, stemming largely from his campaign alongside the Iron Bears on Aexoris. He had endured injuries, they claimed, that would have put any other space marine in a sarcophagus. That he had never been glimpsed without his armour only fueled those rumours; some said that he was largely made up of augmentics forged by the Bears.

Another voice joined the conversation; Captain Jongve, searching the Crucible some forty kilometres away. It was the only structure that remained intact, and Aanth had provided the command clearance for Jongve to access it. “Lord, we've found bodies. Scions mostly. The wounds are typically precise, and the ammunition was potent enough to breach power armour. It seems The Drowned set out with the intention of killing the Scions, and armed themselves to that end.” Disbelief and horror were clearly audible in Jongve’s voice. “Lord, this was a premeditated attack.”

Something had seemed out of place to Thirgen; now he heard his brother's comments, it clicked. After conferring with his squad, he murmured “We haven't found any bodies. Signs of battle, but no corpses. And…” fresh blood, pooled in a corner. A chunk of armour had been hurriedly placed over it, but Thirgen could smell it. Twisting off his helmet he knelt, dipping a finger in the liquid and raising it to his nose. Not human, reptilian. Prey. No beast of this world is so tidy, nor do they venture on land. Someone has been hunting here, and recently.

He shouldered his bolter. “We have a survivor on this station.”

-----

The words were distorted by the vox, but the accent was unmistakably a Fire Keeper’s. “Cousin! Please, show yourself!” Odyssalas stayed quite still, almost submerged. He couldn't see the other Astartes, but the sonar emitters he had rigged up gave away their location. A squad of ten plus, he assumed, a captain. None within eyesight of one another. They're eager, reckless even.

What did he know about the Fire Keepers? Little, and that little was second-hand. Galen had spoken of them as taciturn men, with fierce tempers when roused. Siege masters and fine warriors, certainly, but the Scions had made few friends there. He knew that Niklaas had fortified the Imperial Palace, but that didn't guarantee anything. He'd heard the battle cries of the Drowned; it didn't take much guessing who the "Stormlord" was. If the Lightning Bearers had turned traitor, he could only count on the Bears, the Halcyon Wardens and his own brothers.

If he acted quickly and ruthlessly, he had a chance to kill them all. Eliminate them, take the craft and get offworld. Find some answers. But where could he go after that? There was no question of seizing a ship successfully, even if he made it into orbit without being shot down. Damn my ignorance.

He swung up quietly, circling around to come up behind the captain. Before the man could react, the Narthecium point was against his neck.

“Your men will remain still,” said Odyssalas, his voice hoarse after weeks of silence. “And you will tell me who you are, and why you're here.”

-----

“Do as he says,” Thirgen replied, keeping his tone steady and letting his bolter fall loose on his lanyard. Another thin blade cut the cord and the gun clattered on the ground. The immediate babble from his vox feed died away, and he had a chance to contemplate his captor. He had been hunting, so he must still be in good shape, but the state of the area indicated that he had been isolated here for days. There was no telling what state his mind would be in. This will require some caution. We need to learn what happened to them. “Command, I request that you do not take any action.” Then he directed his words to the Scion. “Freirik Thirgen, Captain of 4th Company, Tribe Barinthus, seeking the Clan that was stationed here. And yourself, comrade?”

“Comrade? I watched traitors wearing your colours murder my brothers!” The Scion yanked him around, holding the blade right up under his chin. From his helmet, Thirgen could hear Sergeant Vothen shouting for the squad to keep still. He hadn't made any effort to hide his surprise, and the other man hesitated. His helmet gave nothing away, but uncertainty was easy to read in his posture. “Metis Odyssalas, Second Captain, for what that's worth. My company are slain to a man.”

-----

Thirgen grimaced. “You have my sympathies, Captain. We were attacked by the Warbringers -” I could believe they are involved in this, Odyssalas thought- “and I lost many of my warriors. But as to your claim that we attacked you, I have no-” a squawk of vox sounded from his helmet. Thirgen looked quizzically at Odyssalas. “With your permission?”

Odyssalas nodded curtly, and Thirgen unclipped it from his belt, amplifying the vox as he raised it to chest height. He can smell the peacegiver. He knows he's dead if he makes a sudden move. From his sonar instruments, Odyssalas noted that the Fire Keepers remained stock still. Whatever their intentions, they were being appropriately cautious given the circumstances.

Still, something about the captain's reaction nagged at Odyssalas. Where was the shock at the actions of their brothers?

“Captain Jongve? This is Thirgen, please repeat.”

“We’ve found corpses- in our own colours.” Jongve’s disgust was apparent despite the crackle of the vox, mirrored in Thirgen's face.

“Can you identify them beyond the Legion?” Anath barked the question. If this is being staged for my benefit, Odyssalas mused, it’s a strange performance, and they are very good actors.

“I don't recognise the Clan heraldry, though I assume it's the ones we're looking for. But-” Jongve broke off “-we're seeing fire damage on dead Scions, sir. Consistent with Warp-sorcery.”

Thirgen glanced at Odyssalas. “Is this how they killed your men?”

“They also stabbed and shot us, but yes. Wait- that's the part that shocks you? Not the fact that your brothers were killing us?”

Thirgen’s eyes widened and he snarled. “They are no brothers of ours. Haven't you served with us? Don't you know our reputation? We abhor the vile art of the witch. For us, it's quite easy to believe that the aether-meddlers could do such a thing.” Odyssalas silently processed this information. The vehemence was unsettling to the Scion, but at least the Fire Keeper’s lack of shock made sense now. Thirgen spoke again into the vox. “Sir, does the heraldry fit?”

“Aye. The Ember Host.”

“Then our estranged brothers are indeed part of this madness. We're pulling out, request permission to bring Captain Odyssalas aboard pending his consent.”

“Granted,” replied Anath. “Captain Odyssalas, I am Sovereign Anath. You are welcome to my ship.” Odyssalas retracted his blades, but even so he hesitated for a moment. But then, what choice do I have?

He sighed, and twisted off the helmet. “Thank you, sir. I accept.”

Edited by bluntblade, 01 March 2017 - 01:30 AM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

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The Great Games
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Dune Serpents (Azus), Void Eagles (Yucahu), Halcyon Wardens (Alexandros), Scions Hospitalier (Pionus), Warbringers (Kozja), Wardens of Light (Gwalchavad), Stygian Jackals (Willym), Warriors of Peace (the Jade General), Fire Keepers (Niklaas), Lightning Bearers (Icarion), Iron Bears (Daer'dd), The Drowned (Morro), Grave Stalkers (K'awil), Predators (Andezo)
Time: M31 01

More than any other, this contest isn't just between the individual Astartes, but also the Legions’ Techmarines and Mechanicus detachments. Every ounce of expertise they possess has been poured into optimising the jetbikes that whip around the arena circuit.

Azus knows full well that a simple race doesn't favour Captain Baybars, but takes some satisfaction in noting that the Serpent’s bike is by some way the quietest.

“This is a distraction,” mutters Yucahu beside him. “We waste time and resources on such frivolous things as pride and prestige.” Azus turns slightly to regard his brother, still keeping one eye on the race. Yucahu has only ever been taciturn in his experience, but this is remarkably close to anger from the Starborn.

“I don't recall you being this irritated before, Yucahu.”

“It was tolerable when I was on my ship. Now I find myself surrounded by people fixated on this carnival of grandstanding. Every unnecessary distraction- rivalries, the prattling of mortals, bundled into one vast mass.”

Azus is quietly amused. He speculates, for a moment, on whether Hectarion has finally succeeded in forcing some nerith down Yucahu's gullet. “I care little for these events myself-” the Serpents are largely relegated to also-rans here, the price of walking a path of shadows in a culture that elevates open warfare above all else “-but would you not concede that they fulfil a purpose of sorts? The common citizen and soldier need such spectacle to encourage them in the service of our father's vision.”

Yucahu glares at him, ignoring the race completely. “Such spectacle undermines us and only encourages the common man in his insipid bets and speculation.”

Azus is puzzled. A rather novel experience. “Bets?”

Yucahu's expression sours even more. “Across the Galaxy, they place bets on which of us would win in duels amongst ourselves. Can you imagine anything more trite?”

Azus shrugs, looking over to where Daer'dd and Hectarion cheer on their champions. Their Legions certainly are favoured by this contest, their bikes neck-and-neck as they shoot around the course. All the same, I fancy the Warrior of Peace's chances. Nor should the Predator be underestimated “And this bothers you? I doubt you and I feature at all in these bets, for good or ill.”

Yucahu fails to rise to that particular barb, entirely occupied with his present gripe. “I fail to see how it aids Unity to have our followers pitting us against one another. I don't care-” he raised a hand, forestalling Azus “-that the very idea of us fighting in such a way is absurd. The absurdity itself exacerbates the problem. Our subjects should respect us, not make mascots of their leaders. And it harms the authority of the Warmaster. The number of times my men have heard a whisper that one or another of us would 'kick Darshan’s arse'... just try and tell me that we should permit such things. The likes of Willym and Raktra will encourage it.”

Azus tries to placate him. It doesn't suit him, but he forces a light chuckle. “Brother, I hardly fear that foolish wagers will be enough to undo our brother, especially once he hits his stride.” Alexandros had already conferred with him and Icarion about a joint expedition into the Koronus Expanse, and Azus feels buoyed by the ambition of the scheme.

“The whispers won't stop, and they'll get worse. People will begin to mutter that someone else is more worthy, and the Crusade will suffer for it. I shouldn't have to tell you of all people how much harm a whisper can do.”

Yucahu lapses back into silence. Azus regards him silently. Brother, in so many ways you make yourself the loneliest of us all.

-----

“I'm sorry brother,” Alexandros sighed. “But it would be taken as an insult to the Mechanicus, no matter the good will behind it.”

Daer'dd took another sip of the tea, frowning. He had finally secured a brief meeting with his brother in between events, and he had not hoped for this response. “The Auretians make this offer freely, brother. And frankly, they're much less hidebound than the Magos. Just think of the possibilities if we could push our technology forward at a greater pace.”

“There are already those within the Mechanicus who fear that we see them as only a junior partner in the Crusade. Favouring the Technocracy in this manner would only intensify those worries. And to be blunt, brother, we need to keep the Mechanicus happy far more than we do the Technocracy. Allowances can be made for Huron, given your influence, but they cannot be replicated elsewhere.”

“You have a compromise in mind?” Daer'dd prompted.

Alexandros eyed the dregs in his cup. “I will suggest that the Technocracy collaborate with certain, less doctrinaire elements within the Mechanicus. In the meantime, their formidable tech would be best put to use by their own troops, if they will join us on our campaigns.” He leans back in the chair. “I admit it's not perfect, brother, but no compromise ever is. We simply have to proceed with caution, lest we upset the workings of the Crusade, no matter the good will behind it.”

Daer'dd nodded in a subdued manner and reached for the pot. “Truly I do not envy you Alex, if you have to wrestle with these matters regularly. Give me a Compliance any day.”

Morro quietly moved away from the door, disgust broiling in his stomach. What kind of Warmaster was this that troubled himself with such trivia? Worse still, Darshan spoke of compromise and caution. Meekling. Morro could stomach some of his brother's views and actions if only he would act like a man worthy of his station, and rule. Instead all he saw was a politician, seeking to soothe and mollify. He doesn't understand what's necessary. To overcome the worst in our Galaxy requires cold hearts and adamantine resolve. The Imperium would either shed its squeamishness or grow fat and weak, disregarding the inadequacies of the human frame.

He was already certain that Darshan would fail to see the necessity of his gene-research, either from small-mindedness or fear that it would upset the small-minded. His face contorted in disdain. He was required to obey his brother and hail him as leader of the Great Crusade.

He didn't have to be pleased about it.

-----

Captain Pyrruk's words about celebrating unity came back to Ellan as she watched the combatants circle. Clad in ancient dogi robes, these were the masters of unarmed combat within their Legions. It was a cagey match, the Fire Keeper’s defensive stance set against the Grave Stalker’s cautious motions, but there was tension here that went beyond the contest itself.

Did other people perceive these divisions? To her it seemed they were laid out for all to see, whatever these games were meant to demonstrate. In the crowd, you could trace the cracks if you knew where to look. To Antonidas and Damon Redd, cheering for the Fire Keeper. To Raktra's terrible eyes locked on the Grave Stalker. To Alexandros, barely watching the bout as his eyes roved over the audience. She could only guess that he perceived the rifts as well, but far more acutely.

When the Grave Stalker made his move, it came as a flurry of blows that the Fire Keeper shook off easily. The combatants displayed little emotion beyond the urge to win. Then again, she thought, they were representing their Legions. The audience had much more freedom to make their feelings known. She recognised the Shepherds' leaders here and there, noting the studied looks of neutrality on their faces.

Shouts broke out as the Stalker ducked under his opponent’s guard, but then the Fire Keeper simply seized him in a bear hug, squeezing like a vice before twisting to throw his opponent down on the mat. The Stalker rolled over into a crouch, ready to spring, but immediately the larger warrior was on him, pinning him to the ground in a choke-hold. A judicator stepped forward as the Stalker tapped out his submission, and a mixture of cheers and groans spread around the amphitheatre.

Ellan returned to scanning the audience. It was, she thought, a rather strange way to celebrate unity. Tomorrow she would make her excuses and take Lotara, Lemuel and Inna to one of the galleries set up here and elsewhere, showcasing the work done by remembrancers in chronicling the Crusade. That would be rather more fitting, she decided.

-----

When Pionus debates, he does so with a rigid certainty that can be quite maddening for his brothers. Antonidas watches with the faint trepidation he always feels on seeing primarchs in disagreement. Such proud beings, unused to backing down. Kozja has been trying to pry his brother's attention away from the Terminator duels for the best part of an hour. Now a Predator faces a Void Eagle, a contest that holds little interest, and he has finally drawn Pionus into a conversation on gene-augmentation.

“To set the Astartes above the common man as rulers is to risk the crusade,” Pionus counters. “There are key aspects to the mortal experience to which we and our sons are not privy. For all our intelligence and experience, the people must be led at least partly by those they recognise as their own kind.”

“Nonetheless, you of all people cannot disregard the fruits that genetic augmentation offers. I never understood why you settled for such a slow pace in your endeavours on Iona. Improvements might not be available to all, but simply granting them to the brightest and best would open up such possibilities!”

Pionus cocks his head, pulling a frown that Antonidas recognises from many lab sessions; the face he makes when something fails to work as it should. “Kozja, augmentation for the few would risk doing more harm than none at all. Elevate a section- any section- of Mankind, and they become removed from the rest. They begin to think only of their superiority, and cease to think of those they rule over. Other people become tools, their dreams and potential subordinated to the roles that their betters allocate them. You would have us create a gene-aristocracy? Just think on the Qarith.”

“I see no reason why we should find the experience of foul xenos instructive.”

Pionus’ face hardens. “How about the fact that those xenos used to be human?”

An Iron Bear steps into the ring, facing a Warrior of Peace. Antonidas fancies he detects a hint of relief on Kozja’s face as Pionus’ attention wanders again, his point made.

-----

The Jade General would have liked to continue the debate, but recognises that there is no reasoning with Odyssalas. It is vexing almost to the point of aggravation; the one brother among seventeen who calls himself a scientist is as much a slave to sentimentality as the likes of Daer'dd. What should have been a cool, clinical mind instead insists not on dedicating its expertise to the needs of humanity, but to their happiness.

He casts a disinterested eye over the bout currently unfolding. A Stygian Jackal and Lightning Bearer, dueling with phenomenal speed and dexterity and drawing appreciative cries from the watchers. Tedious. He taps a finger idly on his seat, and frowns at his failure to restrain the tic. That others might see it is beside the point. It is a flaw in his mental strength, which should be excised.

A few products of those experiments are visible from where he sat. Compromises all, their potential hampered by the Hospitaller’s timidity. Most obvious of all Inna Santor, conversing with a shaven-headed Lion and a woman in remembrancer’s robes. Pionus’ sister.

Were the Jade General inclined to such crass emotion, his lip would curl in disgust. As it is he reflects that such emotional attachments encapsulate his brother's failings. Indeed, the failings of all his brothers. Except, perhaps, Kozja, who seems to comprehend what they were meant to be, and how far they have strayed from that goal in their selfish individualism.

He reflects for a time on how different his own failure is. There is plainly an advantage to emotion- having witnessed Daer'dd and Raktra in combat, he can hardly deny it is a potent, if volatile resource- but for all his intellect it lies beyond his grasp. He puts the matter to one side to ponder the hypothesis one of Kozja’s apothecaries presented him with the previous day.

-----

In the mountain city of Orioc, great halls had been given over to a museum and gallery celebrating the victories of Mankind. A painting of Daer'dd and Odyssalas, side by side as they brought destruction to the Laer. An engraving of Niklaas, standing triumphant with his hammer raised. Image after image that would surely inspire awe in any human.

Yet Alexos felt only disgust as he stalked the hallways. The narcissistic Imperium raised monuments to itself, compounding the act by placing one of them in the same place where the last priests of Terra were dragged from their halls by the Lightning Bearers. He had to restrain himself so as not to scream at the fools around him and try to enlighten them as to where they should direct their worship.

But he knew he must be patient. The path had been revealed to him, and if he could endure just a few more decades of quiet work then he would see Mankind bow to the Dark Gods. And the day that work was completed, he swore, he would raise the grandest temple of all on this spot.

-----

Gwalchavad thinks that spectating must be a peculiar experience for Icarion. Does the Stormborn's gift mean that he perceives the one, inevitable outcome to each duel? Or does he, like Alexandros, see a myriad potential futures? His brother's face is as inscrutable as ever, eyes fixed on the ring where Arngrim Valten and the Godslayers’ champion are just stepping into the spotlight, waving to the audience. Arngrim grins as he spots his primarch, a gesture Gwalchavad returns behind the mask.

Icarion flashes a small smile, but gives nothing away. Clad in silk robes in the tradition of Madrigal, he looks every inch the sage rather than a warrior. It adds to the reassurance Gwalchavad feels whenever he stands beside Icarion or Alex. So many of his brothers shun him, either sneering at his beliefs or disgusted by his beliefs. A few have shown him genuine friendship, though he always has a sense of being held somewhat at arm's length, save for Koschei.

There is no fellowship among the odd brothers out; Ka’wil so lonely and resentful, despite Gwalchavad’s best efforts. The Jade General, aloof and clinical, who responded with utter blankness to his offer of friendship. Then there is Azus, one of the few brothers whose acquaintance he has not sought out. Knowing what he does of the Serpent, he feels unsure if he wants to know him.

But with Alexandros at their head and Icarion at his side, he is content. The Koloss Syntheticide has only served to confirm that those two are truly the best of them, and for all the ferocity and the awful cost, it was a magnificent thing to fight alongside them. Let alone to stand beside his father for the last time in… who knows how long? He has faith, however, that one day they will stand together again, father and sons ushering Mankind into the new dawn.

Then Arngrim raises his great axe, and Gwalchavad puts his thoughts aside as the dance begins.
-----

Wandering through the gardens, Andezo notes the new Warmaster, tending to a Madrigalian blossom. Peculiar in so many ways; does Alexandros seek to make amends for being set above his brother, or is this some bizarre display of dominance? The possibilities are manifold, and Andezo can no more discern whether this is a statement of his brother's desire to care for all his brothers or simply him indulging in his customary pastime. He grows bored with his speculation, and does not care enough to ask his brother.

Instead he moves through the garden, never able to entirely shake the discomfort he feels in a setting where nature is tamed, forced into shapes simply because they please the human eye. Irrational, even at odds with his own code; the forces of the Crusade hack and burn their way through the Galaxy, doing away with anything that threatens Mankind's dominance. That is even more the case with his Predators, cutting out the influence of the neverborn wherever they find it.

And yet he has spent much energy on preserving the wild heart of his Legion, resisting the introduction of technology that would gut the wild places and give his people a life of ease. A true warrior spirit must be tempered and bound in the balance of nature. Some of the others frown upon this - Pionus prominent among them. Yet even he has his Scions test themselves against the monsters of Iona, and leaves much of the world as it had been in the uncounted centuries before he arrived there. Pionus does not understand the true balance, coddling his subjects and weakening his Legion, in spirit if not in strength. Alexandros is more consistent in his denial, taming Delos completely and letting his people live in comparative luxury, as if training and indoctrination will suffice. Is it any surprise that his Legion are better known as diplomats than warriors? And now they are thrust into the first rank as the Warmaster's Legion.

Andezo is troubled by the contradictions of this turn of events, and is also wary of thinking such thoughts in the Warmaster's vicinity. Again he seeks a more comfortable train of thought, alighting on how species from every Primarch’s homeworld have their place here. The representation is hardly equal - how could it be, when verdant Delos sits beside arid Dhul’hasa - but they are all there, even half-hidden flora from Fenris and Prospero.

Icarion appears from an archway a corner, deep in conversation with their father. Andezo has to resist an urge to slink back, watch from behind cover of some sort. Absurd - a holdover from Mardum where, given his status as the apex predator, it was already farcical to think of concealing himself - but he always feels uncomfortable upon spotting Icarion with the Emperor. Low envy is a part of it, but then there is also the worry that he is somehow lacking, unworthy to stand as close as the Stormborn does.

The Emperor's aura encapsulates perfectly how such phenomena defy the medium of colour as an explanation. To say it is white, the intensity and sheer range of emotions rendering it impossible to gauge, is true, but the sheer vastness of his presence would be lost. To read it is like trying to walk in a hurricane, swim in magma. It makes it difficult even to look at him, and he wonders if his father knew He was fashioning a son who would struggle to be in His presence. There are also his pariah brothers, who must pain even a psyker as powerful as He. A strange family indeed.

Icarion's is comparatively easy, but still Andezo fancies that no one without a Primarch's mind could make sense of the warring emotions. On the surface Icarion basks in the attention of their father as he always has, tinged with some relief that Andezo guesses stems from their father keeping him close, even now. Anxiety, however, keeps threatening to break through the surface, carrying with it sadness and a faint but unmistakable current of anger. Icarion has not spoken of the new order except to say that Alexandros would enjoy his absolute fealty.

That unnamed part of him, the hunter's instinct, tells him he is being watched. And sure enough there are Alexandros’ eyes, peering calmly at him. No accusation or scorn, merely quiet curiosity. Andezo stares back, wondering if he should say something, knowing that his brother already knows of a dozen things he might say. Then a bell tolls and voxcasters announce an imminent contest, and he gladly makes his way from the gardens.

-----

Niklaas’ tactical mind falls into the routine he knows best as he walks part of the Palace walls. Despite the beauty, the raw majesty of the place, he cannot help but see factors to be weighed by his siege master's intellect. Weak points, ideal locations for particular weapons, places where retreating troops might rally and invaders could be stalled. The idea of Mankind's defenders being assailed here, let alone invaders breaching these walls, is patently absurd, but he can't resist the temptation. Indeed, the absurdity is part of the daydream’s appeal.

It is only disrupted as he claps eyes on the plinths that stand around a gate. Himself and seventeen of his brothers in marble, triumphant, even if the sculptors couldn't quite grasp the natures of his more elusive brothers. The sheer physicality of Hectarion and Koschei and the utter dignity of Icarion and Kozja translates to stone much more readily than the likes of Azus or Ka’wil.

But they do not hold the Castellan’s eyes. Instead his gaze fixes on two empty plinths, whose one-time occupants should have risen to be as revered and beloved as any of them. Instead they are ghosts, glimpsed in allusions so vague that none who did not meet them would ever guess.

For those few who do remember, the sight is a cruel blow. It would be better in some way if memorials stood to the flaws that undid them, to the twin curses that bound them to their awful fate. No Primarch was meant to be forgotten.


Edited by bluntblade, 21 September 2016 - 02:09 AM.

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Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project


#49
Nomus Sardauk

Nomus Sardauk

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Is it alright if I add this story segment here? it seemed to go over well when I posted it the first time, but we didn't discuss making it official or anything. If not, let me know and I'll happily remove it. happy.png

 

Spoiler

Edited by SanguiniusReborn, 16 May 2016 - 04:28 PM.

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Formerly SanguiniusReborn, proud Creator of the Scarlet Sentinels, my 18th Century British Redcoat Chapter and the Steel Legion, my Cyberpunk-inspired Lost Legion!


#50
bluntblade

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Homecoming
Author: bluntblade
Legions: Scions Hospitalier
Time: shortly after Pionus' body is destroyed
Major characters: Odyssalas

The chamber was dark. That in itself felt wrong; Pionus had never been one for portentous darkness in his ships or strongholds. The darkness couldn't hide its contents from his eyes, but it felt like the Legion wanted to pretend they could hide from whatever it was. Illumination, Pionus had always said, was the entire point of the Crusade. The light declared that Mankind was not afraid and would seek knowledge wherever it might be found. Whatever this room held, it frightened the Scions Hospitalier.

Now he began to understand why. They couldn't conceal the truth from him. He wasn't sure how, but he knew what - who - he was walking towards. The dread that permeated the fortress, smothering the Legion's spirits, was only intensified here. For reasons he could not explain, he had armoured himself fully before setting foot in here.

“Lord?” The massive figure was silent, immobile. He counted the seconds as he advanced, seeing no movement whatsoever.

“Heúrēkos?” There was nothing he could do to keep the tremor out of his voice. He activated his thermal receptors. For a second he thought there was a fault with the devices, failing to locate the heat of Pionus' organic form.

The truth struck him harder than the Xilean sea. He twisted off the helmet and let it drop, faltering as he neared the thing his Primarch had become. His knees clanged against the floor at its feet and his gauntlet tried to find purchase on smooth ceramite.

Father?” His voice cracked, and tears ran as he pressed his forehead against a huge greave. Sobs wracked his body. It was too much. The extent of what Morro had done, what his brothers had done.

Edited by bluntblade, 30 May 2016 - 09:51 AM.

Humble scrivener - alternate Episode IX attempt now complete!

 

Caretaker of the Lightning Bearers and member of the Broken Throne alt-Heresy project






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