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TALE - The Second Son (Rough Draft)

Alexandros Vth Legion Primarch

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#501
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Chapter 14: The Tempest Within

 

"Are you Mahtva?" 

 

Mahtva looked up from his dissambled volkite with brown eyes. He had just started a maintenance routine. A Halcyon Warden stood above him in full armour sans helmet. No rank distinguished him as being Mahtva's superior. "Yes."

 

"You are being summoned by Hydinburg. Please follow me." 

 

Mahtva glanced down at his volkite as a spark of frustration burned within him. He glanced over to one of his new squad mates. "Obelius?" 


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#502
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Obelius, a tall man even for an Astartes, looked up from his own volkite. He glanced at Mahtva, his volkite, and nodded. 

 

"Thanks," Mahtva said before he followed the messenger. They left the rear Astartes quarters behind as Mahtva was led toward the bow. The Advance of Progress was a light cruiser only recently added to the 35th Expeditionary Fleet to replace a loss from the earleir Hena-jagathi campaign. Prepared explicitly to serve the Legiones Astartes, it featured flight decks for stormbird deployment and drop pod stations for orbital insertions. 

 

Both had gone unused in the previous battle. In fact, Mahtva found his first battle rather anti-climatic. He remembered how his hearts beat with anticipation as his squad assumed their posts before the battle. Outside of the enginarium was a secondary armoury reserved solely for the Halcyon Wardens. Mahtva's squad along with three others took their places next to the armoury's exits. The direction of a boarding attempt decided which squad or squads would respond. Each squad assumed position, lined against the walls in combat order. 

 

And waited.

 

Waited as they strained their ears for the order to deploy. Waited as each stood at combat ready for several hours straight. Waited until they were informed the battle was over and to stand down. 


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#503
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Mahtva could not help but feel disappointment. He had been ready to serve in the legion of his savior and had been denied. His one consolation is that the campaign wasn't over yet. 

 

Their journey ended not far from the officer quarters. The messenger knocked on the door before announcing, "Mahtva is here, sir."

 

"Enter."

 

The messenger opened the door before stepping to the side. Mahtva walked in as the door closed behind him. The room felt different. It was an early lesson Mahtva had learned. Give a psyker enough time in a singular location, and it would absorb the individual in its very nature. While theoretically any such individual could have the same effect on a space, psykers doubled the effect in intensity and in half the time. 

 

To Mahtva, he felt these effects as a temperature that touched his soul. In this place, his soul stood in the middle of a desert. At the center of the searing heat was Hydinburg. 


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#504
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The older battle-psyker stared at the younger man for a moment with iron eyes. "So, you're the Primarch's chosen."

 

Mahtva shifted uncomfortably. Although more than eager to serve Alexandros in life and death, he did not care for this odd reputation among the Fifth Legion. Legionaries who were aware of his involvement on Balov had one of two reactions. Either they were proud to have a 'historic figure' join their ranks and believed the Primarch saw greatness in him, or they were resentful of the the boy who had both been elevated by the Lord of the Fifth and had witnessed their chastisement. The only exception was when Wardens were unaware of Mahtva's identity. It was a kind of ignorance Mahtva was more than happy to encourage.

 

He wanted to counter Hydinburg's words, but kept his mouth shut since Hydinburg was his superior officer. Hydinburg grunted at Mahtva's silence. "Still young enough to fight the fire. We'll see how long that lasts. What did they tell you about your service after training?"

 

"I would be assigned to a squad and serve as a standard warrior for a time."

 

"Technically accurate," Hydinburg admitted. "Our Primarch wants us to experience what being a regular marine is before we have to leave the ranks behind. Keeps us from becoming too separated. But we're not the Eleventh. We may have more psykers than half of the other Legions, so we can obey our Primarch's vision, but only to a degree. Your squad will not see as much combat now thanks to you. Can't put you in too much danger, so your squad now falls under my command."


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#505
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Mahtva could feel his frustration building within him. He had been looking forward to serving as a regular legionary, even if he knew it would not be permanent. To know that his status would reduce the honor his squad could earn only added to his anger.

 

Not to mention, Hydinburg's room wasn't helping. 

 

"Sir, I don't need any hand-outs. I can fight as well as any other Warden."

 

Hydinburg snorted. "It's not about you. Oh sure, our Primarch wants every one of us to feel equal before his eyes, but the fact of the matter is you and I come with rarer abilities that make us more valuable than the others. Also, make no mistake, you and your squad might not be thrown into the hardest fighting, but we will pull our own weight. Like you're going to do in the next fight."

 

Mahtva perked up at that. "We're getting deployed?"

 

"Since you're a 'standard legionary', you'll have to wait for the chain of command," Hydinburg said with a snark-filled smile. "Before you rush out of the door, let me finish the briefing. I will determine when you're done pretending to be normal. When that happens, you're going to be directly under me before I eventually decide you can stand on your own. For now, at least."


Edited by simison, 22 May 2019 - 07:02 PM.

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#506
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Mollified a bit, Mahtva mulled the information over. "Have you trained other psykers?"

 

"You'll be my ninth." Hydinburg snapped his fingers. A flame burst into existence at the top of his index finger. He stared as it danced. "It's strange. Before we found the Primarch, we had a steady stream of pyrokinetics. Now? We're becoming fewer. I don't understand how simply discovering our Primarch can have such an impact on our abilities." Hydinburg allowed the flame to die. 


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#507
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Mahtva did not know what to say, if he should say anything. He didn't know what to make of Hydinburg nor the sudden thoughtful confusion. He also didn't know why Hydinburg kept using Alexandros' title instead of his name. "Do you have anything else for me, sir?"

 

Hydinburg's snide tone returned. "So eager to do your part. No. Dismissed." 

 

Mahtva eagerly left the room before he did say something he would regret. 


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#508
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~~~

 

 

"Young Muniza!"

 

Said commander paused mid-stride to turn to the source of the voice. Approaching him at hearty pace was one of the Legion's more vibrant characters. It was not hard for Fujin Isu to stand out. In a legion often composed with a somber dignity, Isu's easy smile separated him from the others. The fact that he was one of the legion's most diplomatic officers had seen his career rise as he became Sentinel Taseter's right hand. 


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#509
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Appropriately, Muniza deeply nodded to his superior. "Good day to you, Commander Isu." 

 

Isu offered a quick nod in return. His silver eyes seemed to twinkle with unending amusement. "How are you finding your new duties?"

 

"Well, my lord. I will not deny there is a period of adjustment, but my brotherhood will not fall short of our Primarch's standard."

 

"Of course, of course," Isu said with a nod. "Your brotherhood has chosen well. Not to mention you will have ample opportunity to find your footing in this campaign. Starting right now, no less!"

 

Muniza quirked an eyebrow. "My lord?"

 

"Lord Anasem wishes for your brotherhood to open the First Legion's assault against the xenos defenses among the asteroid field." Isu cheerfully handed over a dataslate. "We'll be watching you to impress our cousins among the Fifth, young Muniza. Good day!"


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#510
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Muniza, hapless and spinning, could only watch as Isu marched away. After a moment, Muniza collected himself before he pored over the new dataslate. The asteroid field had indeed been designated as the next combat zone, but it had been deemed imperative that as few legionaries be wasted. In their stead, the Rakurai would deliver the hammer blow. This did not mean the legion would avoid battle entirely. Muniza's brotherhood would form an adamantium core to strengthen the Rakurai's assault. Likewise, the Halcyon Wardens would be offering a number of units, including a fair number of battle-psykers. Of greatest concern was time. Although the orders did not state why, the operation was to be completed as rapidly as possible. 


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#511
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At the end of the report were a number of units recommended by Sentinel Taseter. Although they were 'recommended', Muniza treated each one as though it were an order. A third of them he knew already, which he counted as a boon to his favor. Or Taster had foreseen Muniza knowing them beforehand and had reacted accordingly. In a legion where over half of them had some level of precognition, it was difficult to sift what was honest chance and what was foreordained by the more skilled. 

 

Regardless, Muniza launched into a spirited walk as he began to compile orders in his mind.


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#512
simison

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~~~

 

Ayatollah Kharkis leaned back in his seat as the shouting increased in intensity. He idly checked the chronometer. A mere twenty minutes was left to make a decision. Around him, sixteen Monarchs debated and yelled their positions for a third and fourth time. For not the first time, Kharkis cursed Hennasohn with coming up with this command style, Kharkis for allowing himself to be persuaded into taking the role of Ayatollah, and the Monarchs he now oversaw. He had heard other Ayatollahs did not have to struggle as much as he. No, apparently, other Sixteenth Legion fleets experienced relative harmony and did not take an hour to argue over a single tactic. 

 

Kharkis wished he had left his helmet on. He would have been free to roll his eyes at the proceedings. 


Edited by simison, 18 June 2019 - 05:16 PM.

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#513
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Maybe chuck in some contrast with the respect in which Hennasohn and others are held? Not that I know who's in the command cadre at this stage.

#514
simison

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Maybe chuck in some contrast with the respect in which Hennasohn and others are held? Not that I know who's in the command cadre at this stage.

 

How do I do that with a limited viewpoint? 


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#515
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Monarch Resa's voice broke through the din, "We are just talking about a few asteroids. Even with a thirty minute head start, we can cleanse them without aid from either the First or the Fifth! If I'm wrong then allow me and my men the chance, and we will prove it to you!" Several Monarchs nodded or shouted their agreement. Resa, a bull of a bald-headed man, fed off the support and stood taller. Which meant little to his short height. 

 

Kharkis was tempted to let Resa try his plan. He'd be free of the man's gravelly voice if things went the right way. 

 

"And be guilty of insubordination?" Monarch Ardashir countered. No marine could ever be accused of truly being thin, but Ardashir's muscles were compacted on a wiry frame. Whatever he may have lost in horizontal height was more than compensated in vertical height as he towered above everyone else in the room. 


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#516
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"They are not our Primarchs!" Resa roared, causing Kharkis to mentally twitch. "They have only been given authority over their own legions. Not ours!"

 

"You would say such a thing to the Emperor?" 

 

"It doesn't matter!" Resa insisted in a pathetic example of deflection. 

 

Monarch Masistius declared, all too happy to interrupt, "We should become our own fleet after this campaign." Kharkis could not stop himself from imagining a monkey whenever he was forced to look at Masistius. The big nose, the odd eyes could not be explained away by battlefield injuries. "The 8th- 2nd is already proving our legion's worth without relying on morsels offered by the Emperor's bas- sons."


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#517
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"You would have us scavenging for scraps of glory in small raids?" Resa stated with disgust.

 

Ardashir sneered. "And be denied the best opportunity to prove our worth to the greatest leaders of the Great Crusade?"

 

It never ends, Kharkis groused to himself. He checked the chronometer again. Seventeen minutes remained. The worst part of this argument was how petty it was. Icarion had requested the XVIth to provide a few units to aid in the assault against the asteroid field. Kharkis had checked the numbers himself. The Lord of the First, with methods Kharkis did not fully trust, had managed to predict and recommend a suitable number of units to be committed to clearing the asteroid interiors without compromising the warships' combat capabilities in case of unexpected boardings. 

 

Which meant this entire argument was about adopting a combat plan tailored to their resources or doing something different. For the sake of insulting the Emperor's greatest general.  


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#518
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"Kharkis!"

 

He mentally swore as the argument reached its logical conclusion. 

 

Ardashir was addressing him. As usual. "I call upon you to bring this debate to a close."

 

"No! I have more points to address!" Resa countered.

 

"You've been repeating the same point for the last ten times. Time is running short, we need to come to a decision."

 

Kharkis could not help but agree with those last two points. Even if time refused to move faster than he preferred. 

 

"Then I'll be on my way," Resa declared as he picked up his helmet from the holo-table they were around. Several of his followers quickly mirrored their leader's motion. "We will strike and destroy the xenos before the other legions can steal our glory!"

 

The results were instantaneous. Every Monarch not aligned with Resa shouted at him. The bull-headed Monarch twitched towards the exit, but relented beneath the verbal barrage. "Next time you threaten our code again," Masistius warned, "You will be thrown out. We will leave here in agreement and only in agreement. That is what we have sworn to honor."


Edited by simison, 27 June 2019 - 06:31 PM.

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#519
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Resa growled something under his breath, but returned to his seat at the table. Ardashir again turned to Kharkis. "The Monarchs are unable to come to a ruling. I invoke you as Ayatollah to finish the debate."

 

Kharkis glanced at the chronometer. Thirteen minutes. Enough time had passed, he supposed. "We will implement Lord Anasem's recommendations."

 

Ardashir gave a vigorous nod, while Resa fixed Kharkis with a furious stare. Kharkis did not care in the least. A legionary's purpose was to wage war. These debacles of wasted breath offered nothing to the legion. And the sooner Kharkis could escape them for a proper battle, all the better. 


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#520
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~~~

 

Crassus slammed his fist against his chest. "Welcome aboard the Glory of Jermani, my lord."

 

Lord VonSalim nodded as he returned the salute, two warriors on his flanks. "Thank you, Brigadier Crassus. If you be so kind to lead me to the sanctum, I wish to inspect it."

 

The worst part of having a telepath as one's commander was that even if you could hide the rage from your physical appearance, there was no hiding it from supernatural perception. Crassus, accustomed to this state of affairs, did nothing to suppress his emotional state as fury gripped him. However, so long as they were in public, the 2nd Brigadier would not embarrass himself as he answered with a curt, "Aye, my lord. This way."


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#521
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"How did the Second Brigade fare in the last engagement?" VonSalim inquired as their small party traveled through the ship. 

 

Crassus did not wanted to be reminded of the Scaran's utter ineptitude in boarding his ship. Still, he began to rattle off a casualty list (only minor ones due to incompetence), unit readiness (they were ready), and whatever else Crassus could use to pass the time. The Primarch asked a few clarifying questions here and there, while adding an occassional encouragement. To the casual viewer, ti would not have been obvious that there was any ill air hanging between the superior and his subordinate. 

 

In due time, they arrived before the sanctum. As small as it was, it was easy for the Primarch's voice to ring through the room to the few occupants. "I ask for a moment alone with Brigadier Crassus." 


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#522
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The Wardens hastily departed, leaving VonSalim alone with Crassus. The Primarch wandered over to the library and inquired, "What information do you offer to your brothers?"

 

Crassus' frown materialized, freed from the watchful eyes of others. "Previous engagements. They can learn how we won victories through strength and daring."

 

VonSalim's gaze slid toward Crassus. "As opposed to now?"

 

A Primarch's gaze was never a casual thing. Especially when one's own gene-sire looked down upon you. But Crassus wasn't some weak mortal to cave. He steeled himself and met VonSalim's gaze with set jaw. "Name one other legion that hides its warriors from war... my lord."


Edited by simison, 12 July 2019 - 09:54 PM.

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#523
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Insubordination, interesting...

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#524
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"Tell me, Prefect, do you go to war without ensuring fuel is in your tank? Or your treads will hold regardless of terrain? Do you make sure you have ammunition before speeding toward the battlefield?" 

 

Crassus gritted his teeth. "We are more than pieces of hardware."

 

VonSalim quirked an eyebrow.

 

Crassus blinked. 

 

Darshan asked, "Are you?"

 

The winds of Afric blew around them, catching their respective capes in gentle embrace. Crassus' resolve shook as he stood, once again, at Three Flags. His blue eyes flashed to the East where he could see the shield towers protecting his past enemies from airstrikes. Crassus remembered too-late the other side of his Primarch. A mind-witch of terrifying strength and skill.


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#525
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As he turned his head, Crassus caught something in the corner of his eye. Behind him was the Albyon Slayer, the first tank he had driven. The tank he would soon ride into the upcoming battle. Alarmed fury filled him as he noted its state. The pintle-mounted volkite caliver fizzled with damage as it dangled off the turret. One of the treads had come loose. Corrosion wrapped around the cannon's barrel. Never would Crassus allow his steed to fall into such deplorable condition.

 

"Well, Prefect?" Darshan asked as he stepped up to the vehicle of war. "Would you go to war in this?"


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