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Death of Unity - The Fulgrimian Heresy

Horus Heresy Emperor Space Marines Legions Fulgrimian Heresy Fulgrim Imperium Alternate Heresy primarch Warhammer40k

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Tanner151

Tanner151

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Death of Unity - The Fulgrimian Heresy

 

History of the Heresy

Pre-Heresy-
In the late 30th Millennium the Emperor of Mankind united Terra, known in antiquity as Earth, through war and diplomacy and set His gaze upon the stars. To reclaim humanity’s birthright, the Emperor created twenty “sons” called primarchs that would be the generals of His armies in the planned Great Crusade. They would be genetically, physically, and intellectually superior to any other being excluding Himself.

 

Before the Great Crusade could be launched, disaster struck. The Ruinous Powers, the foul evil beings that resided in the Immaterium and fed upon the chaos of the material plane, were fearful of the Emperor’s plans. To disrupt these, the Dark Powers kidnapped and sent the twenty infant primarchs out across the galaxy for each to land and grow up on a human world, far away from their father and His guiding influence.

 

Without the primarchs the Emperor’s plan to unite the galaxy under an Imperium based off science, logic and justice was threatened. But as He had done for millennia the Emperor adapted and created from the genome of each of his sons a Legion based off their genetic code. With twenty Legions of genetically and physically enhanced, highly trained warriors the Emperor embarked on His Great Crusade to unite Mankind and to find the scattered primarchs.

 

For over a century and a half the Imperium expanded and eventually the Master of Mankind discovered all of His sons. The first found was Horus and the last was Alpharius. With His unique and powerful progeny found, and their Legions returned to them, the Imperium rapidly expanded with thousands of Imperial expeditionary fleets and armies across the galaxy fighting the alien, purging the mutant, and reuniting the lost fragments of humanity that had been isolated since the beginning of Old Night.

 

In the early years of the 31st Millennium the Great Crusade was nearing an end. It was a time of legend, of hope; the Golden Age of Man was at its peak. In the Ullanor Crusade Imperial forces led by the Emperor Himself and several primarchs defeated the largest known concentration of Orks that had come into contact with the Imperium of Man at that time.

 

After the end of the Ullanor Campaign the Emperor held a massive celebration, forever remembered as the Triumph of Ullanor, that recognized all the accomplishments of the men and women that had fought, sacrificed and died to create the greatest empire ever forged. The world of Ullanor was transformed into a trophy-world of the Imperium, renamed Mundus Tropaeum on all galactic star charts.

 

The Triumph was attended by elements of fifteen Astartes Legions alongside eleven of the demigod primarchs. The Emperor Himself, at the conclusion of the Triumph, praised all those that had fought and died during the Crusade and declared that Horus, favoured and first found son, would be bestowed the title of Warmaster, supreme commander of all Imperial military forces in the Emperor’s name.

 

Following this historical announcement came another of equal importance. To the shock and disbelief of many the Emperor stated that He would be returning to Terra to conduct a project for the benefit of all humanity but none other than this was given, much to the consternation of many.

 

Council of Nikaea-

With Horus as Warmaster and the Great Crusade nearing its conclusion, the Imperium’s future seemed bright and assured. However, disputes over the use of psykers were brought to a head shortly after Ullanor. Before the Emperor returned to Terra, He called a conclave on the distant world of Nikaea to resolve the matter once and for all before the division over the issue threatened the nascent empire.

 

The Council of Nikaea would be attended by several primarchs alongside other key Imperial commanders and leaders. One faction called for the disbandment of the Librarian corps in its entirety and the study of what many called sorcery. Spearheaded by Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, the unspoken leader of this anti-psyker faction declared that all those with psyker abilities, particularly Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons, should be prohibited from using their psychic powers and return the Librarians back to normal frontline duties.

 

Russ threw accusations at Magnus and his Legion, claiming they were delving into dangerous magicks and foul rituals that were damning them, which, Russ vehemently stated, would threaten the Imperium if it was allowed to continue. While Russ specifically targeted the XV, Primarch Corvus Corax of the Raven Guard vocalised his general distaste of psykers and how harmful they had been in history, discussing and describing hundreds of worlds his Legion had found either ruled by a ruthless psyker elite or destroyed in the aetheric fires of warp-energy.

 

As the council became more and more heated with violence nearly breaking out, several Space Marine Librarians approached the Emperor at this critical juncture, asking if they could speak. The Emperor granted them permission and the Astartes spoke logically and convincingly of how psykers were not evil in and of themselves, but instead education, discipline and training resulted in how they fared. Without the powers of psykers, the Imperium would be disarming itself of one of its greatest weapons, both offensive and defensive. The Astartes called that the Librarians remain, though they agreed to concede to more supervision and stricter reins on what could be researched and practised.

 

After several moments of deep thought the Master of Mankind agreed with this line of thought, calling it the Librarian Compromise. It would allow the Librarius to remain and that they would continue in their duty to serve and protect the Imperium. Though psykers would remain a valuable tool, the Emperor did censor the XV for its pursuit of forbidden and arcane knowledge. He claimed that the Thousand Sons pried too deeply into matters they understood little of and were ignorant of the inherent dangers. So while the use of psychic individuals and Astartes would continue, access to certain fields of knowledge would be stringently denied by Imperial Edict.

 

To the sons of Magnus, and especially the Crimson King himself, this was a great dishonour. The implication that they could no longer be trusted nor allowed to seek out any and all knowledge for the betterment of Mankind was detrimental to their morale and self-image. Magnus had lost allies and gained critics at Nikaea's end, inflaming the already severe distrust between many in the Imperium towards the scions of Prospero.

 

Although many within the upper hierarchy of the Imperium supported the Librarian Compromise, Corax was openly unhappy with the Emperor’s Edict.  The most vocal of the anti-psykers, the Ravenlord was persistent in his disagreement and was surprised to find his brother Mortarion, a fierce anti-psyker himself, supporting their father’s judgment with little qualm. The Death Guard Primarch commented that his personal reservations paled when compared to the needs of the Imperium and the Emperor’s wisdom. Seeing that he had few allies, the Deliverer subjected himself to the Emperor’s will. Even Russ, who was not entirely happy with the Compromise, accepted it without question as it put many needed restrictions and strict overview on psykers, helping limit their threat to the Imperium while still reaping in their usefulness. His primary purpose of exposing and censuring the Thousand Sons worked, and the Wolf King believed from henceforth that Magnus would learn from his mistakes and embrace the more restricted guidelines of the Compromise.

 

Despite the hope he held for his Prosperian brother, Russ noted Magnus’ poor reaction to the Edict and became wary. The Sixth Primarch dispatched many spies to monitor the Fifteenth Legion closely as they returned to their homeworld ashamed, angry, and simmering with discontent.

 

Fall of the Warmaster-
On the world of Davin an uprising against lawful Imperial authorities occurred. Horus, upon hearing of this, ordered his 63rd Expeditionary Fleet to the rebellious world to expunge it of traitors and bring it back under Imperial rule. During the ensuing battle the Warmaster was gravely wounded by the rebel governor with a sword that bore a powerful contagion, a contagion so virulent it put Horus on his deathbed.

 

Later Imperial historians and Mechanicum Biologis tech-priests would note with hindsight that the contagion and weapon were of Nurgleite origin. Only the quick thinking of one of Horus’s Mournival captains, Garviel Loken, ensured the survival of the Warmaster. Loken’s suggestion of having the Warmaster be interred inside a stasis pod was likely the only thing that saved Horus. First Captain Abaddon quickly ordered that the Sixteenth Legion would journey towards Terra to have their gene-sire healed by the Emperor, for if anyone could heal Horus Lupercal, it would be the one who had created him.

 

With the Emperor forewarned of the Favoured Son’s impending arrival He prepared to heal the stricken Warmaster. Such was the Emperor’s worry for Horus’ well-being that He called upon Mortarion to assist. The Death Lord’s knowledge of poisons and toxins was second only to the Emperor.  With Horus incapacitated, the Crusade was now leaderless. Before the Emperor could appoint a temporary replacement, further, more dire news reached Terra. First, the Space Wolves had attacked Prospero, burning the homeworld of the Thousand Sons to a cinder. Secondly, the Night Lords, led by their sadistic and disturbed primarch, raised the flag of rebellion and had laid waste to a dozen populated Imperial worlds, the death toll reaching billions.

The Emperor was disturbed at these events. He had ordered Russ and the Sixth Legion to arrest Magnus and bring him to Terra for questioning following the Crimson King’s recent actions, notably the apparent psychic attack on Terra, and allegations of continued sorcerous activities on Prospero. The sanctioned extermination of the Thousand Sons had not been given, but had been carried out nonetheless. A miscommunication on such a scale was disastrous and would have to be investigated. Though of critical importance, the Burning of Prospero took second place as confirmation of Curze’s recent actions reached the Throneworld.

 

With the Night Haunter and his sons having gone rogue, the Emperor commanded Dorn to bring the Eighth Primarch and his butchering progeny to justice. Dorn, as the Emperor’s Praetorian, ordered five Legions to hunt down the VIII. To lead this Imperial Armada, Dorn chose Sanguinius. The Ninth Primarch, nicknamed the Angel, was chosen for his highly developed tactical and strategic acumen, excellent relations with many of his brothers, and shared Dorn’s sentiments of Curze.

 

Sanguinius accepted the command and stated that their murderous brother would pay for his genocides. On that note, five Legions sought after Curze and eventually cornered him in the Bellanor System, a backwater in the Segmentum Tempestus. Here, the Angel declared, history would take place that would forever change the Imperium. Unfortunately, the Blood Angels Primarch did not realise how true those words would become.

 

Betrayal at Bellanor-
The first to arrive in-system were the Blood Angels. The next were the Salamanders, fresh from victory against a Dark Eldar fleet, and the Emperor’s Children. The Third Legion had arrived from their homeworld, departing immediately from Chemos when word reached them of Curze’s actions. The tentative friendship between Curze and Fulgrim was known and raised questions whether or not the Third Legion would have the determination necessary to take part in the battle to come, but the Phoenician’s visible fury at the Lord of Night erased any doubts as to Fulgrim’s dedication in destroying the Night Lords. The martial World Eaters arrived a day later, delayed due to increasing warp storms that were beginning to wreak havoc with interstellar travel across the galaxy. The last of the Armada to arrive were the legionnaires of the Death Guard, humourless and dour since their primarch’s abrupt departure to Terra.

 

As the Armada assembled over Bellanor IV, the world the Eighth Legion had fortified their forces upon; another fleet emerged from the warp to the surprise of many. Primarch Lorgar of the Word Bearers had arrived with fully half of the XVII in tow. With six Legions now assembled to throw their military might at the Night Lords, victory was assured though as of yet unattained. When the Imperial warships entered high-orbit, a war council was called and after much debate and planning a strategy was adopted.

 

Sanguinius, with the invaluable assistance and insight of his trusted brother Fulgrim, crafted an offensive that would break and crush the Night Lords within a day. The operation called for the Blood Angels and Salamanders to drop to the surface in their full strength, while veteran elements of the World Eaters and bulk of the Death Guard would assist them. After this first wave the remainder of the Armada would descend.

 

All agreed to the plan, and readied themselves to eradicate the sinful VIII. The strength of so many loyal Astartes might have seemed overwhelming but was deemed necessary as it would show to the galaxy what the Imperium did with traitors. It was to be a lesson that none would ever forget.

At the scheduled time, the Armada’s forces launched their offensive. Blood Angel and World Eater drop-pods landed amidst Bellanor IV’s capital, Rose City, suffering higher than expected casualties in their attempt to disrupt the Night Lords communication and supply network while the bulk of the IX, in conjunction with the XIV and XVIII, landed in wave after wave of dropships and bulk-landers. Within hours, near three hundred thousand Astartes had made planet-fall and were securing the outer sectors of the city. The Death Guard and Salamander elements were to protect the rear and flanks, while the World Eater and Blood Angels surged forward to decapitate the VIII command hierarchy.

 

After hours of harsh, bloody combat, a signal came from Fulgrim’s Pride of the Emperor: the second wave was inbound. A majority of the Death Guard and Salamander Legions began to withdraw to secure resupply and repair, and to allow the newly arrived Astartes a taste of combat and glory in the battle.

 

What these Astartes found at the landing zones was not relief nor allies, but rather base treachery and turncoats. The Death Guard loyalists were fired upon by the Word Bearers and their own traitorous brethren, led by First Captain Typhon, who from this day onward would be known as Typhon the Black. The Salamanders suffered the wrath of the Emperor’s Children and the traitor World Eaters.

 

Within minutes, thousands had perished. The broken remnants of the two Loyal Legions withdrew into the city to join with the Blood Angels and loyal World Eaters. began to withdraw into the city itself, though this trapped them between the Night Lords, who were now unleashing their full might upon the loyalists, and the other traitors.

 

Sanguinius, realizing that they would not last long in the meat grinder that was Rose City, rallied and led the Throne-loyal forces to the capital’s sole spaceport. The capture of Serenity Spaceport was bloody with thousands dead but in doing so ensured that thousands more would live. Anything and everything in the spaceport was used to evacuate the Imperial Astartes from the surface to the beleaguered warships in orbit, ranging from modern dropships to archaic mass cargo haulers.

 

The Bellanor Exodus, as it is called, lasted into the night. Traitor elements consistently harassed and interfered with the evacuation, forcing many brave warriors to sacrifice themselves for the majority to survive, attempting to delay the traitors for as long as possible. The most famous of these were the three hundred World Eaters led by Captain Ehrlen that held off their treacherous primarch and kin long enough for the last dropships to depart the planet.

 

While the massacre on the ground had been brutal and devastating, the void massacre was, if anything, even more destructive. Dozens of loyalist escort and capital ships were destroyed before a proper defence formation could be formed. The remainder positioned their warships above Rose City and took in any and all transports carrying warriors that held true to their oaths. After the last dropship, carrying Sanguinius and a mortally wounded Vulkan, boarded the Ninth Primarch’s flagship the Red Tear, Imperial forces broke their way through the besiegers and made way to the nearest Mandeville point and escaped into the warp, wounded and aching with loss.

 

As the bloodied Imperial fleet left and the Dropsite Massacre finally concluded, the traitors assembled for council over the blood-drenched world. Fulgrim was disappointed that any of the loyalists were able to escape his trap, but he was pleased with the final results nonetheless. The Ninth Legion had lost a third of its total force, escaping the most intact amongst the loyalists thanks in large part to its tactical positions in the early stages of the Massacre. The Death Guard lost all but six thousand Astartes, while their traitorous brethren lost pitifully few. The World Eaters had been purged of any that dare not follow Angron into rebellion, and the Salamanders numbered only fourteen thousand, barely a sixth of what the noble XVIII had arrived with to Bellanor.

 

It was at this council that Fulgrim announced that the Third Legion was no longer the Emperor’s Children but now the Sons of Fulgrim, reborn from the ashes of old. It was also here that Lorgar, in a move to garner support for Fulgrim and to appeal to the many trillions of people unhappy with the Emperor and His Imperium, called for Fulgrim to be elevated to official leader of the rebellion. His rank was to be War Commander, a title that would echo through history as a herald of doom and despair.

 

This was to be a largely propaganda ploy, but was also done to give the traitors a semblance of a command structure, as well as set goals and objectives. Out of the Traitor Primarchs, only Fulgrim held widespread popularity in the Imperium and was arguably one of the better tacticians amongst his brothers, making him the perfect candidate for leading the Traitor Legions to Terra. His two staunchest supporters were Lorgar and Ferrus Manus, both committed to elevating Fulgrim to monarch of the galaxy-spanning empire once victory was achieved, though for different reasons.

 

The Heresy-
As the fires of betrayal cooled on Bellanor, Fulgrim readied the traitor war machine. With Fulgrim now bearing the rank of War Commander as a symbol for the rebellion, countless billions flocked to the traitors’ banner. The Phoenician’s rebellion spread through the Imperium like a plague. Eventually two-fifths of the Imperium would join him, while a third of the Martian Mechanicum would break their oaths of allegiance to Terra following the assassination of Kelbor-Hal, the Fabricator General of Mars. These Traitor Adepts were led by Kelbor-Hal’s strongest supporter, Adept Lukas Chrom, who blamed the assassination on the Imperium and its Mechanicum supporters.

 

Nearly every Imperial organisation, ranging from the Imperial Army to the Officio Assassinorum, experienced varying degrees of treachery within their ranks, causing incredible destabilisation to the Imperial government and armed forces in the early years of the civil war.

 

To ensure that the loyalists could not unify their forces and potentially stop the rebellion in its infancy, Fulgrim ordered the Word Bearers to Ultramar where the Iron Hands were already beginning to cripple Guilliman’s Realm following the successful surprise attack over Calth. The White Scars were dispatched across the Imperium, wreaking havoc, crippling supply lines and killing billions, all in the name of the Dark Prince and the War Commander. The Alpha Legion was sent to intercept the Dark Angels and prevent them from joining forces with the other Loyal Legions. The Night Lords were to act as the vanguard to the main offensive which would be led by Fulgrim himself, with the World Eaters, Typhon’s newly formed Black Legion and the remnants of the Thousand Sons in support.

 

After these initial deployments the War Commander began his drive towards Terra, but it would be years before he was ready to invade the Sol System. During those years, crucial and costly battles were fought, with victories and defeats for both sides. The Battle of the Abyss, the Calth Atrocity, the Night of Silent Knives, the Underground War, the Shadow War, the Arcurean Crusade, the Nightingale Ambush, Siege of the Perfect Fortress, the Desolation of Tallarn, the Purge of Calaxxes Prime, the Heavy Worlds Campaign, the Battle of Gharran, the Invasion of Deliverance, the Murder of Murdock, the Battle of Molech and many more occurred; leaving wounds in the Imperium that would take centuries to heal.

 

Siege of Terra-

In the seventh year of his Heresy, Fulgrim deemed he was strong enough to finally invade the Sol System itself. Leading an armada comprised of elements from every Traitor Legion the traitors quickly captured many Imperial installations and outposts in the outer reaches of the star system and pressed inwards with unwavering vigour. The Arch-Betrayer ordered Magnus the Red, the Chosen of Tzeentch, to create a warp veil that would surround the Sol System that would disrupt all Imperial astropathic communication from Sol to the rest of the Imperium, blinding and muting the defenders of Terra.

 

Fulgrim ordered his massive fleets to neutralise Battlefleet Solar, centred on Terra and Luna. After thirty hard fought days of vicious void combat, this was achieved with over half of the Imperial ships destroyed or captured, with many of the remainder heavily damaged. The survivors would retreat to the Sol System’s outer halo to enact emergency repairs and wait for an opportunity to return to the fight once more.

 

With Mars still embroiled in civil war between those adepts that sided with the War Commander and those that remained steadfast to their oaths to the Emperor, the full might of the Traitor Legions fell upon Luna and Terra. Terra’s moon fell within days, as the traitors used their Assault Companies with great effect, breaking the back of Imperial defences there soon after landing.

 

On the surface of humanity’s homeworld itself traitor forces landed via drop-pods adjacent to the two major spaceports near the Imperial Palace. Within hours the Lion’s Gate and Eternity Wall Spaceports fell to the Arch-Traitor’s forces and with those in hand the bulk of the Traitor Legions were able to land on the surface to begin the Siege of the Imperial Palace.

 

Directed by Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands, the traitor armies began forcing their way inside the Palace. Every block of stone, every stairwell, every hallway was fought with an unbreakable willpower, neither side relenting and the loyalists only withdrawing when defeat was inevitable, falling back to another predetermined point of resistance that would cost the traitors dear to overcome.

 

The Satumine Gate fell to the rebels on the twenty-third day of the siege. As the battle continued, Fulgrim became frustrated by slow progress, calling upon more and more daemonic assistance to break through stubborn Imperial defence. The daemons, led by the Bloodthirster Ka’Bandha, swarmed loyalist lines causing the Ultimate Gate to fall on the fifty-seventh day. Despite these defeats, hope came to Terra in the form of the Raven Guard. The Nineteenth Legion had stealthily arrived over the Throneworld and deposited its Astartes cargo before joining in the continuous void war over the Cradle of Mankind. Corax and his veteran sons would enter the Palace while the majority of his Legion fought the traitors across the globe, attempting to protect the populace from the cruel pleasure-seeking killers of the White Scars and to harass rebel supply lines.

 

With the two outer gates secured the traitors made their way to the final gateway that would lead to the Inner Palace. The Eternity Gate was the last bastion holding back the traitors and the loyalists knew it. They fought with skill and valour that would be remembered for generations to come, even ten thousand years later.

 

The Iron Hands used their forbidden technologies and blasphemous creations to create cracks in the Eternity Gate. For weeks this continued, destroying the Gate piecemeal until on the ninety-third day of the siege a large crevice was created, allowing the traitor hordes to rush the gap in Imperial defences. Instead of swarming through and overwhelming the defenders, the traitors instead were stalled. They were met by three primarchs: Horus, Perturabo and Corax with their legionnaires in support. The three primarchs, with the assistance of their valiant sons, would hold the gap for hours, without faltering, killing traitor legionnaire after traitor legionnaire.

 

Eventually Bloodthirster Ka’Bandha, wishing to kill such a worthy foe and claim his skull for the Blood God, charged Horus Lupercal. After an intense battle that drew the eye of all present, the Warmaster was able to defeat the powerful daemon by breaking its spine over an armoured knee. With the daemon banished back to the warp, the traitor Astartes retreated and the hole in the Eternity Gate was bulldozed shut.

 

Shortly after Manus’ report to Fulgrim that the assault on the Eternity Gate had failed, the Crimson King informed the War Commander that he had looked beyond the veil covering the Sol System and saw that the Ultramarines, Space Wolves, Dark Angels and Blood Angels Legions had broken through the Traitor Legions’ lines; they were only days away from Terra. The Cyclops warned that while the veil around the Sol System interfered with Imperial communications, it would not stop the Imperial ships from arriving and tipping the scales of battle drastically in favour of the Emperor. The Gorgon informed the War Commander that it would be another week, if not longer, before the Eternity Gate could be forced open once again. A week the traitors did not have.

 

Fulgrim was furious. His gambit had failed, and if he remained his armies would be destroyed, but if he fled the momentum he had gained would be wasted away and his Heresy would be broken. Not all was lost however. The Twentieth Legion’s elusive and secretive primarch was summoned by Fulgrim for a daring operation. On the ninety-fifth day of the Siege, the Inner Palace’s advanced shielding that protected it from a variety of threats suffered a cataclysmic system’s failure. With no shield to prevent teleportation the War Commander, followed by his Phoenix Guard and other veteran elite, teleported inside the Inner Palace and, having bypassed the bulk of the loyalists and the Eternity Gate, made their way to the Throne Room to confront the Emperor.

 

The Throne Room-
As the Arch-Traitor and his foul ilk approached the Throne Room, they were blocked by the Emperor’s Custodes, Imperial Fist Huscarls and Rogal Dorn. The Emperor’s Praetorian had been in the Throne Room helping orchestrate the planet-wide defensive war and was the last line of defence protecting his father. It was War Commander versus Praetorian, the Phoenician versus the Vigilant, brother versus brother; it was a battle that would echo through the ages.

 

Fulgrim at first tried to win Dorn to his side but the Lord of the Seventh Legion was neither weak-willed nor gullible to the foul lies of the Ruinous Powers. His devotion and loyalty to the Emperor was too great for the temptations of Chaos. Dorn and Fulgrim would fight a brief but destructive battle until the Imperial Fists Primarch had injured but not killed his brother. Fulgrim had grown powerful in his role as Champion of the Primordial Annihilator. Throughout his seven years of rebellion he had grown stronger; Dorn on the other hand was weak in comparison. The Unyielding One was killed by the War Commander's Fireblade. The Emperor arrived in time to see His Seventh Son, his noble, dutiful Rogal, be thrown onto the ground, dead and lifeless before His very eyes.

 

Seeing Dorn die before Him, the Emperor’s face became one filled of anger, sorrow and steeled resolve. The Emperor and the Arch-Betrayer would clash in a titanic battle of both sword and mind. In the end the Emperor was forced to use His psychic might to destroy not only the body but the soul of Fulgrim as well, to prevent the Arch-Traitor from being brought back to life by the Chaos Gods. While the Emperor emerged victorious it was not without cost, He had been mortally wounded by Fulgrim and lay dying.

 

As the Emperor lay between His dead sons, the surviving Astartes of the War Commander’s strike team were dismayed but quickly retrieved their gene-sire, intent on returning to the Pride of Chemos. Warmaster Horus, Corax, and Perturabo, along with their bodyguards, reached the gates of the Throne Room and were shocked by what they saw before them. Acting quickly, they recovered the bloodied corpse of Dorn and the crippled body of the Emperor, intent on putting their father upon the life-preserving Golden Throne per His instructions.

 

Following Fulgrim’s death the resolve of the Traitor Legions broke. Their rebellion had failed and the loyalists fought with renewed vigour and fortitude, as once the War Commander died the warp interference around the Sol System dissipated, allowing the loyalists to detect that reinforcements were soon to arrive. The Traitor Legions gathered up all their surviving Space Marines, as well as many Traitor Army and Dark Mechanicum forces as their warships’ holds could carry and fled the Sol System, hounded by Imperial ships until the defeated rebels entered the warp. The Imperium had defeated its foes and won the Fulgrimian Heresy, but it was at best a pyrrhic victory.

 

As the traitors broke and ran, Horus Lupercal, Perturabo, Corvus Corax, Captain-General Amon Tauromachian of the Legio Custodes, Fabricator General Kane of the Adeptus Mechanicus, along with other crucial Imperial leaders, listened to the final words and instructions of the Emperor of Mankind before He would be interred onto the Golden Throne for the next ten millennia.

 

The Emperor denounced the Traitor Legions, calling them forever tainted and ordered that the Imperium be purged of them and for the borders of the Imperium to be restored. He issued several other declarations before the Golden Throne made Him physically mute and begun His eternal slumber. Despite the crippling of His body the Emperor’s mind was strong. His psychic powers would forever remain vigilant, protecting the Imperium of Mankind from the Dark Gods of the warp as best as He was able.

 

Shattered Dreams-
Despite Fulgrim’s Heresy having been defeated, the Traitor Legions were still very much a threat and held vast swathes of the Imperium. With the interment of the Emperor onto the Golden Throne, the Loyalist Primarchs were the individuals that had to reorganise the Imperium and reclaim all that had been lost.

 

For a year the wounded Imperial military recovered, reassembled and readied themselves for the inevitable retaliation against the traitor-held domains. Shortly after the first anniversary of the rebellion’s conclusion the Great Scouring began. Led by the nine surviving primarchs, with Warmaster Horus at their head, this galactic-spanning counter-attack quickly reclaimed much of the territory and would spend the next seven years beating back the Traitor Legions and restoring the Imperium’s pre-Heresy borders.

 

In the aftermath of Fulgrim’s death, several of the Traitor Primarchs remained loosely allied against the resurgent Imperium. United in a loose confederation, these primarchs formed the Syndicate Chaotica, an alliance that wished to preserve the territories conquered by them. And for four years it did so, slowing Imperial progress to a crawl in dozens of sectors. But following Guilliman’s killing of Alpharius on the world of Eskrador with assistance from the Grey Knights, the Syndicate began to fracture at its seams.

 

After their primarch’s death the Alpha Legion withdrew from the unholy alliance and proceeded to splinter itself into hundreds of autonomous warband-cells to scatter far and wide across the galaxy, giving the Imperium trouble for millennia on end. Following the departure of the XX, the other three members dissolved the Syndicate to follow their own paths. The Word Bearers left for Colchis, stripping their homeworld bare of recruits, weapons and resources. They would leave for the Eye of Terror to find themselves a new homeworld, never to return to their old one. The Iron Hands withdrew to their domain centred on Medusa, proclaimed as the Ferrum Dominion by the Gorgon, and fought to the bitter end of the Scouring until their world was destroyed by the Iron Warriors Legion. This would be the First Iron War between Manus’ and Perturabo’s gene-lines, but certainly not the last. The Night Lords, unique among the traitors, remained a cohesive, united force for over a century following the Scouring. Despite this continued perseverance, the VIII’s base of operations, Tsagualsa, would be assaulted and destroyed by the Imperium in the second century of the thirty-first millennium. This defeat forced the Night Haunter and his progeny to relocate to another world, far from the Emperor’s vengeful armies.

 

After the Great Scouring ended, the Imperium began a multitude of reforms to better adjust itself to the reality it found itself in. The greatest of these, the Codex Astartes, penned primarily by Guilliman, though with significant contributions by several of the other primarchs including Horus, Sanguinius and Perturabo, dismantled the Legiones Astartes and in their place the Adeptus Astartes was born. The Legions were no more; instead smaller-sized units called Chapters replaced them. The Astartes would no longer be the principal military force of the Imperium as this would be inherited by the newly-created Imperial Guard. Instead, the five thousand Astartes-strong Space Marine Chapters would act as a quick reaction force, elite shock troops and the speartip of Mankind’s armed forces.

 

Another of the major changes made was the creation of the Iron Cages; these were the brainchild of Perturabo. The Iron Cages were extensive fortifications created around the borders of warp storms, specifically the Fracture, the Maelstrom and the Eye of Terror as well as more. Manned by Astartes Chapters as well as countless Guardsmen, these Cages represented the first line of defence against Chaos invasions and have weathered some of the bloodiest fighting in Imperial records. Not only were these Cages built by both Perturabo and Dorn’s gene-lines, working together as well as they did during the fortification of Terra, but nearly half of the Chapters assigned to the Cages and the star systems that border Chaos domains are Successor Chapters of the Fourth and Seventh Legions.

 

Dark Millennium-
It is now ten thousand years after the Fulgrimian Heresy and the Imperium finds itself in dire straits. While the third Tyranid invasion armada, Hive Fleet Leviathan, has been successfully contained since late-998.M41, this large quarantine requires hundreds of billions of soldiers, tens of thousands of ships, and over two hundred Astartes Chapters to keep the Tyranids from breaking through into the heart of the Emperor's Domain. Despite the Tyranids being quarantined, the amount of resources and soldiers put into this continued containment is sorely needed elsewhere as the millennium comes to a close and more threats continue to appear.

 

To add to this growing list of threats faced by the Imperium, various Ork empires, particularly Warlord Snagrod’s Charadon and the vast Waaagh! of Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka, are becoming bolder as the Imperium’s vast military might has been stretched thin in recent centuries, leaving significant portions of Imperial space vulnerable to invasion, all of which have become tempting targets to many Ork warlords. Across the galaxy the Necrons have awoken on their Tomb Worlds from their long slumber and seek to eradicate all life in the galaxy in their quest for dominance. On the Eastern Fringe, the young, virulent, and technologically advanced Tau Empire continues to spread at a methodical rate, threatening scores of border worlds and weakening the Iron Cage around the Maelstrom, allowing traitor forces within to raid and reave over a hundred worlds. To add to the destruction and terror sweeping the galaxy, the Dark Eldar in 999.M41 have launched thousands of attacks and raids on hundreds of worlds, enslaving and pillaging. Although a major threat, the Dark Eldar are among the least of the Imperium’s worries.

 

The Traitor Legions, broken but not destroyed during the Heresy and the centuries since, had retreated to the Eye of Terror from which they would launch continuous raids and invasions into the Imperium. The most infamous and devastating of these assaults have been the Vengeance Crusades led by the Champion of Chaos Undivided, the Heir of Fulgrim and a former lord commander of the Third Legion. His name echoes through the warp, whispered by daemons and prophets alike: War Commander Tyberius Sakaeron, commonly called Sakaeron the Deceiver.

 

Sakaeron has already launched ten Vengeance Crusades, each more devastating than the last. As the closing years of the 41st Millennium fast approach, the Forces of Chaos are once again ready to invade the Imperium in numbers not seen since the Fulgrimian Heresy. The enemies of the Imperium are many and all have been encroaching on it, weakening it century after century. If the Chaos Legions, led by Sakaeron and his Sons of Fulgrim, launch their Eleventh Vengeance Crusade and break through the Iron Cage centred on Cadia then it is likely to reach the Segmentum Solar and a Second Battle of Terra might very well spell the end of the Imperium of Man.


Edited by Tanner151, 22 October 2017 - 02:35 AM.

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Tanner151

Tanner151

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Hey, everyone, this is a timeline I have been working on for over a year now. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Ugh, another alternate Heresy." Well, yes. This one takes the idea that Fulgrim leads the Heresy, not Horus, Dorn, Guilliman or Sanguinius. It is not a simple switch of canon loyalties like most alt-Heresies, but rather a mashup. Ex: Iron Hands and Word Bearers are traitors while the Blood Angels and Sons of Horus are loyal. 

 

Chapters are a mix of Index Astartes articles and short stories. IAs are relased in numerical order by Legion number. Ex: First IA are the Dark Angels, second IA are the Emperor's Children, etc. 

 

This timeline has been uploaded to FanFiction.net, Spacebattles.com, and AlternateHistory.com (my main site), so you may have seen it there. I thought about simply posting a link to it but I realize a lot of people prefer B&C to those others, and since this is one of the premiere Warhammer40k sites, it seems odd not to upload it here. 

 

This will not fade away like my Sanguinius Heresy of three years ago did. I was an inexperienced writer then, and it showed. Put simply, I lost motivation for the project, but this will not happen with the Fulgrimian Heresy. It currently has over 30 chapters/232k words on those websites mentioned above and I will over the next several days begin to upload it to B&C. This will take time as I am doing a timeline-wide refinement as well as writing the Iron Hands Index, so it could take some time. If you would like to catch up with the story and not have to wait for me to finish uploading it here, then the FF link will be below.

 

FanFiction link: https://www.fanficti...grimian-Heresy

 

I also have partnered with an artist, Nemris over on DeviantArt, who has made several fantastic pieces for the FH, with more to come. Go check him out! He makes high quality stuff.

 

Artist's link: https://nemris.deviantart.com/

 

First art piece: https://nemris.devia...aeron-703735683

 

Second art piece: https://nemris.devia...lgrim-708629262

 

Would appreciate feedback, critiques etc. Let me know what you think of this.

 

Inspired by:

'The Dornian Heresy' by Aurelius Rex

'The Roboutian Heresy' by Zahariel

'The Evil That Men Do - a Tale of a Heresy' by machine3589 (helped immensely with this story early on, from beta reading to idea creation)


Edited by Tanner151, 22 October 2017 - 04:05 AM.

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Tanner151

Tanner151

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Dark Angels – Secrets and Half-truths

“The galaxy is burning. Fulgrim’s rebellion spreads like a fire amongst the stars. My knights, my warriors, my sons, we stand on a precipice. Many in the Imperium will join the War Commander out of shared beliefs, hatred of the Emperor, or simply out of fear. We should not hate them, but nor should we pity them. They made their decision, and we make ours. Eight of my brothers turned their back on the Emperor, but we will not. We are loyal, because loyalty is its own reward. We leave here to fight in the greatest war the Imperium has ever faced. Prepare yourself, Dark Angels, for we have traitors’ blood to spill.”

 

-Primarch Lion El’Jonson, shortly before the First Legion departed from the Shield Worlds

 

Origins-
When the Great Crusade began in late M31, many of the Emperor’s vanguard fleets were commanded by Astartes of the First Legion. These grey-armoured warriors were known for their dedication to Mankind’s Manifest Destiny and unshakeable belief in the Emperor. In those early years the amount of worlds brought into compliance by the First Legion was amongst the highest across all twenty Legions.

 

But the First were not only warring across the galaxy, they were also fervently searching for their gene-sire, as was every Legion. But years turned into decades and decades neared a century and the First Primarch had not been found. The First Legion saw itself become eclipsed by other Legions that had found their primogenitors, such as the Luna Wolves, Space Wolves, Imperial Fists and the Emperor’s Children, among others. These brewed feelings of jealousy and desperation amongst the First, though they were ashamed to admit such weaknesses existed among their ranks.

 

Just as the morale of the First was beginning to decline as the meat-grinder of the Great Crusade continued, word reached their scattered fleets of something that would forever change them: their father had been found. When the twenty primarchs were thrown across the galaxy through the warp, the life-capsule of the First Primarch had landed upon Caliban, a death world to the galactic north in the Segmentum Obscurus. It was here that the First Primarch would be named, raised and eventually rule.

 

Unlike the majority of his brothers, the First Primarch was not raised by humans nor surrounded by them in his early years. Instead, the life-capsule that contained the First Primarch landed deep in the Calibanite jungles, a guaranteed death sentence for any that were not created by the Master of Mankind. Instead of dying, this primarch not only endured but bested all those that threatened him in those predator-riven forests.

 

Nearly a decade after his arrival, the First Primarch eventually came into contact with other humans. These humans were adorned in armour and carrying swords and guns as they hunted a great beast. This hunting party nearly killed the Emperor’s son were it not for the convincing words of the party’s leader. The leader, a renowned and respected knight within their organisation named Luther, saw something in the forest green eyes of the young man before him; an aura of strength and sense of duty exhumed from the forest dweller. He felt that killing such a being as the one that stood before him would have been a mistake, a tragedy even; Luther instead vouched for the young man and formally adopted him, giving him the name Lion El’Jonson, which meant ‘The Lion, the Son of the Forest’ in an ancient dialect of Caliban.

 

The foliage was thick as knights of The Order cut their way through. The sounds of the forest were all around them, causing them to be on guard for any predators that might lurk among the thick grass or high, looming trees.

 

Master of the Order Sar Luther rode his armoured warhorse, eyes peeled and ears trained for any threat. The knights and men-at-arms under his command moved forward, tracking the path the beast had made. They had been sent to kill the beast that had plagued three villages for months, killing dozens of inhabitants.

 

“My lord, come look at this,” spoke his first scout. Dismounting, Luther moved to him. “Look here, my lord.”

 

Crouching down, Luther noticed a deep crimson with swirls of violet and yellow. Beast blood. And they had not wounded it. Something else was out here.

 

“What are we to do?”

 

“Follow the trail of blood. We need to confirm its death before we head back.”

 

“Aye.”

 

The knights set off, heading deeper and deeper into the woods, wary and with fists clenched over sword pommels. This was farther than many had ever been. It was probably farther than Luther had ever been. Further and further they went, the blood trail becoming more obvious, the path becoming clearer with every step.

 

After a moment, they found the beast, or rather its corpse. It lay in a pile of its own blood, but it did not look like it had been killed by predators or other great beasts. Rather, its wounds looked similar to those caused by a spear.

 

The grass nearby rustled and all aimed their weapons there, rifles readied and swords drawn. More rustling and the strangest thing emerged: a young man. No, not a man, thought Luther. Something else. His body was dirty and had multitude of claw marks across his bare chest that were already healing. His physique was hardened and exemplary. His hair was blond and long, tangled with twigs and leaves. His eyes were a deep forest green and they stared at the group without fear.

 

“My lord, your orders?”

 

Luther stared into those eyes and they stared back unflinchingly.

 

“My lord, should we fire?!”

 

“No. We will take him with us.”

 

Several knights turned to look at him in surprise. “But he can’t be human; he’s been out here by himself, alone in the deep woods. It is impossible for humans to survive out here.”

 

“No, not impossible, not for him,” spoke Luther. The man wasn’t human, or at least not like he and his men. He was… special, more powerful at the very least. That could be useful to The Order.

 

Luther rode his horse to the dishevelled man, who readied his bloodied spear but Luther held his hands up in peace. The stranger seemed to understand and dropped his stance. Holding out his hand, Luther spoke to him.

 

“Come, stranger.” He did not move. Hmm, ‘stranger’ was not exactly a name, but he most likely did not have one. Thinking quickly, Luther came up with a name from an ancient dialect he had read in the Aldurukh's oldest libraries.

 

“Come, Lion El’Jonson.”

 

The newly named man walked towards Luther and took the offered hand.

 

Luther adopted Lion El'Jonson and took the young man back to his organisation, an institution of knights simply named ‘The Order’. It was here where the Lion learned language, culture, military tactics, combat techniques and much more, impressing the masters of The Order. Within a few short years the Lion had gone from an apprentice to Supreme Grand Master and upon taking the mantle of command the Lion ordered that the world of Caliban would be united and that the great beasts that had plagued the planet for thousands of years would be made extinct.

 

To help the Lion’s vision come true, Luther became his right-hand man and worked tirelessly, assisting with the unification of the dozens of other knightly orders under a single banner, acting as the diplomat and wise counsellor. Within a decade Caliban neared unification and the great beasts were nearing their final days. However, there was a threat to the Lion’s and Luther’s plans. An order of unsatisfied warriors, called the Knights of Lupus, resisted the Lion’s efforts of unification and attempted to stop the eradication of the great beasts.

 

The Knights of Lupus withdrew to their fortress, supposedly to defy the Lion. In response, the Lion, leading his vast army of knights and men-at-arms, laid siege and quickly breached the Knights of Lupus’ primary fortress and proceeded to find its lord, Lord Sartana. Instead, The Order quickly found what the Lupus Knights had been protecting so fervently: dozens of great beasts locked in cages. The Knights, who feared what would happen once the great beasts were exterminated, wished to maintain the status quo and their position in Calibanite society.

 

Lord Sartana, hoping to claim victory, no matter how distasteful, unleashed the great beasts to butcher The Order’s soldiery. What followed was cruel bloodshed, a slaughter that was only stopped by the heroics of the Lion himself who slew many of the beasts and Sartana. With the death of their lord, the Knights of Lupus lost the will to fight. All were slaughtered and their fortress set aflame.

 

While the victorious warriors of The Order began their long trek back to their fortress of Aldurukh, wagons laden with spoils of war plundered from the Lupus' fortress before it had been set ablaze, there was little joy in Luther. He had been side-lined in the campaign and felt that the Lion had reaped all the glory. This is where the first seeds of doubt and jealousy where planted in Sar Luther; the first, but certainly not the last.

 

Extracting his sword from the impaled corpse of a Knight of Lupus, Luther moved out from the broken front gate towards the enemy knights’ fortress. His men saluted and bowed as he made his way inwards.

 

Passing hundreds of dead men and moving through tight, hard-angled pathways that were designed to slow and bottleneck an invading force, Luther arrived to the main courtyard and the scene before him made him raise his hand to block the smell.

 

Before him lay hundreds of knights and men-at-arms, from both sides, but the spectacle that drew the eye of all present were dozens of great beasts, all dead, and the man that stood amidst their corpses.

 

The Lion’s sword was bloody, his clothes and armour tattered and darkened with drying blood. Beside him lay the decapitated head of Lord Sartana, mouth open and dead glazed eyes staring up at his killer. The Supreme Grand Master of The Order looked out around him, gazing at his soldiers, nodding to some. When his foster son’s eyes fell upon him, Luther expected to be motioned forward to share in the glory, but the Lion’s gaze did not linger and left to the next.

 

Luther stood frozen to the spot. The nerve! While his son had been reaping glory in the courtyard, Luther had occupied the bulk of the Lupus Knights at their front gate, allowing the Lion and his elite to clamber over the walls and force the Lupus soldiery to fight a two-front battle. Luther contributed just as much to this victory as did his son, yet the Lion did not even acknowledge it. He clicked his teeth in anger and took several deep breaths to calm himself.

 

The Lion raised his sword. “The Knights of Lupus are dead and so are their archaic ways. We have won. Victory!”

 

The assembled hundreds of knights, men-at-arms, squires and more began to cheer. “Victory! Victory! Victory!” Luther added his own voice to it, pumping his fist into the air, but it lacked the energy those that surrounded him roared with. The cheer began to change.

 

“Lion!” It started out among only a few, noticeably amongst the young squires, but was taken up swiftly by those near them and it spread like a fire. “Lion! Lion! Lion!”

 

Luther saw his son’s face craft a smile and his green eyes seemed to shine with the attention. Frowning, Luther lowered his hand, turned, and walked back to his horse. He had not seen satisfaction in those eyes, not the gleam of victory but rather of unquenchable ambition, and it sickened Luther. The Order was created to serve and protect Caliban but it had now become apparent to him that The Order would never be that way again. Now, it was to serve and obey the Lion and the Lion alone.

 

It was a disturbing realisation.

 

It was soon after the victory over the Knights of Lupus and the subsequent unification of Caliban under the Lion’s rule that fiery stars fell to the surface. These were the dropships of a First Legion recon fleet and to their surprise and joy; they had found their primarch at last. Many months would pass until the Emperor arrived to meet His son.

 

The Lion knew at once that the grand being before him was his father and swore fealty to him without question. In return, the Emperor made the Lion the Imperial Lord of Caliban and gifted His son with the Legion based off his genome. The entirety of the First Legion met their father in the cleared fields before Aldurukh and listened with rapt attention as command passed from the Emperor to the Lion. The Lion, at the conclusion of the ceremony, renamed the First Legion the Dark Angels after an old Calibanite myth.

 

To increase the size of his Legion, the Lion ordered all within The Order to undergo physical, psychological and genetic testing to determine their compatibility with augmentation to transhuman. Owing to the strict regimen imposed by the Lion on The Order’s younger knights, a majority were selected to become Astartes. Many, however, were too old to receive the gene-seed but were able to substantially modify and enhance their bodies to still become legionnaires, albeit only as half-Astartes. Sar Luther, alongside the bulk of the Order’s senior leadership, undertook the transformation and took up offices of command in the Legion. Luther would remain the Lion’s second-in-command though both began to become noticeably distant of the other.

 

The Great Crusade-
United with their primarch and seeing a significant bolster of legionnaire recruits, the Dark Angels were eager to return to the Great Crusade. Led by their primarch, the First Legion brought several worlds into compliance quickly, early on showing the Lion’s legendary skill as a tactician and strategist. All seemed well with the Dark Angels. That was until Sarosh.

 

The world of Sarosh was willing to join the Imperium, but was lethargic in its attempts at Imperial compliance, citing a cumbersome bureaucratic system. The Lion decided to intervene and hasten the negotiations as the world possessed relatively advanced technology and was rich in natural resources.

The delegation from the planet came aboard the Lion’s flagship, the Invincible Reason, and negotiations were proceeding smoothly. However, it was all a treacherous ploy. The Saroshi had no intention of joining the Imperium and used the conference with the primarch to enact an assassination attempt and deal the Imperium a devastating blow.

 

The shuttle of the Saroshi delegates carried an atomic warhead and would have been detonated if not for the actions of several Space Marines who prevented the Saroshi from carrying out their assassination attempt. The Lion slew the entire delegation and proceeded to invade and conquer Sarosh, an invasion which saw the world’s population annihilated in its entirety. The world would later be resettled and renamed by Imperial colonists.

 

Curiously, shortly after the campaign the Lion dispatched several hundred Dark Angels back to Caliban. The official statement to explain this was that these Astartes were to ensure the successful recruitment and training of the many thousands of incoming initiates and to guarantee that the First Legion would grow at a steady and continuous rate. While the majority were frontline legionnaires, several were high ranking officers, notably Luther himself. It is postulated that this is where Luther’s anger and jealousy established deep roots within him and would eventually set him down the dark path of damnation.

 

In the decades following the Sarosh Incident the Dark Angels brought thousands of worlds into the Imperium, either through warfare or diplomatic means. The Lion won wars that were predicted to take years or decades in weeks or months, showing his brilliance in warfare. Many whispered that the Lion was attempting to curry favour with the Emperor, as he felt that he should be included amongst the favoured sons such as Horus, Sanguinius, Dorn and Fulgrim. Such rumours were suppressed, but the quick and thorough reaction made some question whether or not the Lion truly felt this way.

 

The Heresy-

The Dark Angels were unable to participate in the monumental Ullanor Crusade as they were already preoccupied with other campaigns, but did send representatives to the subsequent Triumph. It was here that the Emperor announced his return to Terra and that Horus would become Warmaster of the Imperium.

 

When news of his brother’s ascension reached the Lion’s ears the First Primarch retired to his chambers for a day and night. The following morning he returned to his flagship’s command bridge, sent a message of curt congratulations to his brother, and announced to his many fleets that the Dark Angels would continue their advancement of the Great Crusade and that the First Legion would not rest in bringing worlds to compliance until all worlds in the galaxy belonged to the Imperium of Man. Following this proclamation, the Dark Angels pushed the borders of the Imperium ever further out, bringing in hundreds of star systems and rapidly destroying over a score human and xenos empires.

 

Years later, as the Dark Angels were prosecuting a campaign against the Gordian League-led Shield Worlds; word reached them of the Warmaster’s wounding on Davin, the Burning of Prospero, the Night Lords having become renegades and the Emperor sanctioning the elimination of the Eighth Legion. As further information from the Imperium reached them in the following months it became clear to the First Legion that something had gone horribly wrong in the pursuit of Curze. Bellanor did not turn into the quick eradication of the Night Lords; instead it became a massacre that saw nearly two hundred thousand loyal Astartes killed by the hands of traitors.

 

When news reached the Lion that Fulgrim had orchestrated the Dropsite Massacre and now led the traitors as their War Commander his infamous temper soared hot before it turned into a clinical cold fury. The Lion was determined to join up with loyalists forces as soon as possible but dare not leave the Shield Worlds unconquered in his rear, as they could prove troublesome.

 

This forced the Lion to remain for a year defeating the Gordian League and annexing the Shield Worlds for the Imperium, all the time receiving astropathic messages and communiques of the large-scale civil war spreading throughout the Emperor’s Domain. With the Shield Worlds now taken care of, the Lion assembled his Legion to travel to Terra to bolster the Loyal Legions already stationed there.

 

Fulgrim, having been informed of the Dark Angels imminent return by a vast network of spies and assistance from his dark patrons, ordered the bulk of the Alpha Legion to intercept and delay the Dark Angels for as long as possible. The Dark Angels and Alpha Legion would clash in the Arcurean Sector and for the next four years fight a war of cat-and-mouse, each side hurting but not crippling the other. Following the decisive Battle of Ghendall, which saw the Dark Angels triumph, the Alpha Legion was forced to withdraw with heavy casualties. Despite having claimed victory, the Dark Angels were battered, bloodied, and running low on critical supplies.

 

Forced to delay his journey to Terra, the Lion chose the Venyr System to resupply in. Venyr remained loyal to the Throne as the tendrils of rebellion spread and prior to the Heresy had been a large well-stocked supply depot for Crusade expeditionary fleets throughout the local sector, and sported an extensive orbital dry dock infrastructure. It was here that he would meet up with the Blood Angels, recently arrived from their own campaigns against the traitors. As both Legions began to resupply, the primarchs decided to travel to Terra together to better reinforce the Throneworld.

 

Dreams came to him in his sleep. They were rare, but all were full of dread and despair. He was in a forest, one he recognised as the location his pod had landed. All around him creatures of shadow moved towards him, but he could not decipher their intent. Were they to attack or assist? He reached for his sword and found that it was not there, nor was his armour or other weapons.

 

He was naked, younger, his body dirty and hair tangled. He heard a voice, it was familiar. Moving towards it he saw Luther adorned in his armour and weapons, surrounded by Zahariel and Astelan with angels of darkness hovering over them all, their wings were pale bone and their eyes arterial red.

“We are free. We are autonomous. We are Caliban. We are free. We are autonomous. We are Caliban. We are free, we are free, we are free.” They all spoke in concert, but Luther was the loudest. They did not see him. Their mantra of dissension continued.

 

“Luther, Zahariel, Astelan, what is the meaning of this?” he demanded as he strode to them. The two true Astartes did not turn, their mouths still speaking the traitorous words, but the Regent of Caliban did. He looked at the Lion. With a raised hand he froze the primarch in place and walked towards him.

 

Luther gripped the Lion’s jaw and looked into his eyes. Tutting, the Regent stood back and drew his sword. “Such wasted potential, Lion. You could have been something great in the new order. The strands of fate have shown me some of what you could have become. In one fate you are the epitome of Change and Secrets, in another a Bringer of Death and Rebirth. In two you led the great rebellion, one with me by your side and another where I was disillusioned into continued loyalty to the False Emperor. In others you die by my blade or vice versa. Our history is not set in stone, but the foundation is laid, it merely only has to be carved.”

 

The Lion tried to yell at these false accusations, but his mouth was gone, his tongue unmoving as if holding something within. Luther raised his sword. “I am the Saviour of Caliban, even if I have to be its destroyer.”

 

The sword came down and he awoke in his chamber aboard the Invincible Reason. A notification alarm was bleeping. The Lion tried to remember his dream but only caught segments that made little sense and quickly faded from him. Even with a primarch’s eidetic memory, dreams were sometimes wind.

 

Pushing the alarm’s rune, a pict-screen of the bridge turned on before him.

 

“Forgive me, my lord, but you are needed on the bridge.”

 

“Acknowledged, Captain Stenius, I will be there momentarily. Why was I awoken?” inquired the Lion.

 

“My lord, your brother Sanguinius and his Blood Angels emerged from the warp thirteen minutes ago and the Angel wants to speak with you.”

 

The Lion paused. The Angel, his brother, was here? With their Legions combined, they could drastically reinforce Terra.

 

He rose from his bed and began to don on his armour. “I am on my way.”

 

Before the combined armada of First and Ninth Legion warships could depart, a lighting fast attack by the traitorous Astartes of the White Scars, led by their demented Jaghatai Khan, occurred. The White Scars, known for their incredibly swift ships and daring strikes, were able to warp in-system at dangerous proximity to Venyr Prime and cut their way through the two Angel Legions’ fleets, destroying scores of ships outright and damaging hundreds more. With a single pass the Fifth Legion had broken the back of the two Legions. The Scars would quickly depart, leaving the loyalists to assess the damage and lick their wounds.

 

Both primarchs agreed that to depart for Terra with half their fleets damaged, many unable to enter the warp in their current state, would present them as easy targets. Both Angel primarchs agreed to stay in Venyr to repair and resupply. Within a year they were ready to leave and joined the other Loyalist Legions heading to Terra where the climatic Siege of Terra was taking place.

 

Despite the quick speed of Imperial reinforcements, they were too late. The Emperor, mortally wounded, was interred onto the Golden Throne, Dorn was dead by Fulgrim’s hands, and much of Terra had been razed by the Traitor Legions and their daemon hordes. Horus became the de facto leader of the Imperium following the Siege and readied the loyalist forces to retake all that had been lost.

 

While the Imperium readied its vast military for the eventual counter-attack, the Lion wished to retire to Caliban, desperate to receive fresh Astartes replacements as the First Legion’s numbers were just over half of their pre-Heresy number. Before he could make way to his homeworld, a small strike cruiser named the Bastion of Solace joined with the First Primarch’s primary fleet. On board was a small contingent of Dark Angels led by the mysterious Lord Cypher.

 

Cypher waited patiently, hands clasped in front of him, his white robe covering the black armour beneath. Before him was the primarch, flanked by Chief Librarian Elikas, Seneschal Corswain, Captain Alajos of the Ninth Order, the six Wing Commanders, with other high-ranking captains standing in the back. The silence since Cypher finished speaking lingered uncomfortably, the listeners digesting what they had heard, disbelieving aspects of it, if not all.

 

"Why did you wait so long?" demanded Holguin, Commander of the Deathwing, visibly seething. "You should have brought this to our lord's attention years ago."

 

"There was no chance to leave until recently. I had to pretend obedience and loyalty to Luther, but I began planning my escape from his watchful eyes."

"How do we know you are not the traitor, and Luther loyal. This could be a ploy by the traitors to sow dissent in the First Legion," spoke Elikas, his staff of office ready to be used to kill Cypher if the primarch willed it.

 

"I have only my word and what data-logs I could bring with me. Luther has been paranoid of late, and his spies are everywhere on Caliban."

"You brought a twenty-seven legionnaires with you. Who are they?" queried Corswain.

 

"Others like me who remained true to our oaths to the primarch and the Emperor. They are loyal, you have my word."

"We will see, Cypher, we will see," snarled Farith Redloss, Commander of the Dreadwing.

 

"While we stand here arguing, the Independents are readying to make their treachery known to the Imperium at large. It will tarnish our reputation, make our name one to be whispered as potential turncoats. We would never be forgiven, never accepted fully. We will not suffer the fate of the Death Guard of our canker being known to all! We must-"

 

The Lion raised a hand and silence returned immediately. The primarch, who had been quiet since the beginning of Cypher's revelations, leaned forward in his throne, attentive and judging.

 

"Tell me more."

 

It is unknown exactly what was spoken between the Cypher and the Lion, but the secretive legionnaire did make his lord primarch aware of Luther’s betrayal and proclamation of independence from the Imperium. Furious at this treachery, the Lion departed with all of the Dark Angels in tow to quell the rebellion on Caliban before news of it reached the rest of the Imperium. As the Dark Angels arrived to the Caliban System, the Lion hailed his homeworld, hoping that Cypher had deceived him and that Luther and his sons on the Death World that raised him were in fact loyal.

 

The response to his hail shattered this hope. The voice of former Legion Master Merir Astelan responded, “We have seceded from the Imperium. We no longer acknowledge the authority of the Emperor or Lion El’Jonson, only that of the Saviour of Caliban: Sar Luther. We are the independent world of Caliban. Be gone and never return.” The First Primarch coldly responded that such a betrayal could not go unpunished and swore to kill Luther and his lieutenants no matter the cost.

 

The loyalist First Legion began their assault on their own homeworld, crippling the Independent fleet in orbit and destroying the extensive defence system, though taking heavy losses, and bombarding much of their world, killing millions. The loyalists felt no pity at this, as they saw each and every citizen of Caliban as corrupted by Luther's manipulations and the First Legion would not suffer a single Calibanite rebel to draw breath any longer. After the initial bombardment, the loyal sons of the Lion began their descent to the surface, led by their primarch. For days brother fought brother across the planet, with the loyal legionnaires encroaching on Aldurukh. The Lion slayed hundreds of rebel Dark Angels that dared block his path to the wayward Luther. Nothing would stop him from claiming retribution.

 

After a brief siege, the loyalists stormed Aldurukh, and began to hunt for Luther the Betrayer. They did not have to search long as Luther entered the battle, killing many loyalists as he made his way towards the First Primarch. When the two clashed, all eyes turned to them. What would have been an easy duel only years ago was now nearly a deadlock as Luther had grown powerful since breaking from the Imperium. His powers were gifts by the Ruinous Powers, gifts that made him almost the equal of the Lion.

 

Almost.

 

But the Lion was a son of the Emperor, a demigod, a conqueror of the stars and a prince of war. Eventually he wounded Luther, who lied on the ground with his foster son above him. As the First Primarch raised the Lion Sword to enact the killing blow, Sar Luther bellowed in a dark, Chaos-tainted tongue, and with that utterance, all rebel Independents on the planet vanished.

 

The Lion moved towards him, cold fury in his eyes, sword drawn, bloodied by the lives of the Calibanite Independents. Luther lay on the cold floor, fifty metres away, bloodied and barely clinging to consciousness. His foster son continued to stride towards him, killing any that attempted to stop him.

Luther had thought himself powerful, but his power when compared to a primarch was hollow at best. The Lion cut down a half-dozen Independents in one swing, their interference not even slowing the demigod. The First Son was almost near.

 

“Not like this, no, not like this,” spat Luther. He wasn’t to die here. The Dark Gods had shown him, he would survive this battle and one day lead an army to destroy the blind and foolish Dark Angels. Words came into his mind, ancient words read from forbidden scrolls and whispers of Chaos daemons. Luther began to speak them, his mouth bleeding and aching in speaking such a malicious tongue. The Lion realised what was happening and rushed forward to end the Betrayer.

 

“K’yar ghal’thek nagatoa vermuusiike, Fal’yr Engella,” and with that final utterance Luther, and all surviving Independents, were pulled into the warp. Luther was in a miasma of colour and energy, quickly being dragged away along the passages of space towards the world destined for him and his followers. His wounds began to heal, leaving only scars in their place. As he was being pulled far from Caliban, he could still hear the raging screams of Lion El’Jonson, the anger a tidal wave in the warp.

 

The Saviour of Caliban felt hundreds, if not more of his brothers, become thrown off their path by the Lion’s fury. The fury was white-hot, a tidal wave of a primarch's wrath and it took more and more of Luther's brothers, killing some, but dispersing more through space and time. Those who were derailed would not arrive with him, nor could their departure from the warp be accurately predicted. But half remained with him when he emerged from the Immaterium.

 

He fell onto a world of bone-white sand and crimson skies. Standing, he felt unsteady until a hand touched his shoulder. Turning, he saw Zahariel, loyal, obedient Zahariel, looking at him. “Luther, where are we?” he demanded. The Saviour saw dozens of others had landed nearby and were making their way to him. More would show up soon. Looking upwards he saw the great warp storm all around them. They were in the Eye of Terror.

 

“Brother, where are we?” Zahariel demanded again, his hand squeezing Luther’s shoulder.

 

“Our new home, Zahariel, we are at our new home.” His brother let go and looked at the sky, where yellow lightning struck across the heavens and began a chain reaction that would be seen all around the planet. Luther felt the wind blow by, fierce and howling, but underneath the wind he thought he heard faint, cackling laughter.

 

The Lion did not have time to display his frustration as Caliban had suffered heavy damage since the battle began, and Luther’s dark sorcery destabilised the planet even more, leading it to break apart from the destructive war and aetheric energies. The First Legion withdrew from their former home and watched as the planet crumbled and broke apart. The death-screams of the remaining populace would leave a psychic terror-resonance in the system for decades.

 

Since that fateful day, the Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters have privately styled themselves the Unforgiven and vowed over the broken remains of Caliban to hunt down all of the Fallen Angels that followed Luther during the Battle of Caliban. They would do this to earn the Emperor’s Forgiveness. Despite the Lion’s disappearance into a warp storm in M32, supposedly chasing Luther, the sons of the First Primarch have continued their eternal vigil and duty in protecting the Imperium and hunting down those that betrayed all that they stood for.

 

For ten thousand years the Dark Angels and their descendants have kept this vow, capturing hundreds of the Fallen Angels and subsequently executing them upon admission of fault. Though ever loyal to the Imperium and the Emperor, the hidden shame of the Lion El’Jonson bloodline has made them distant from fellow Chapters not carrying their primarch’s gene-seed, and has caused issues with several Imperial forces. It is not unknown for a Dark Angel force to swiftly arrive to a warzone or a distant star system and just as quickly depart. Though odd, these instances are few and far between when compared to the extensive list of honours and victories earned in ten millennia of constant war.

 

As what befell the surviving Fallen after the destruction of Caliban, several different things occurred. While some followed Luther to an unnamed world far outside the borders of the Imperium, transported by foul warp sorcery, many would be lost during this transition and became stuck in time and space. These lost Fallen will eventually leave this limbo state and arrive throughout Imperial space and beyond, which once word of their arrival is known thanks to a vast network of spies and a watchful Librarium, the sons of the Lion are soon to follow.  This has occasionally caused problems from where they have departed so abruptly, often leaving Imperial forces in a life-and-death struggle against a myriad of foes. A third group is composed of those that originally followed Luther, but after the loss of the world they had held so dear and betrayed the Imperium to protect, deemed Luther a failure and would wander the Eye of Terror as mercenaries for hire or travellers without a goal. However, many of these Twice-Fallen, as those that still hold allegiance to Luther call them, have joined the ranks of War Commander Sakaeron, becoming the origin of the Phertalien, Astartes that do not carry Fulgrim’s gene-seed but fight alongside the Third Legion's ranks.

 

Though a large proportion of the Fallen have been captured and exonerated of their crimes with their confession and subsequent death, there is very little data on how many are still alive. Long-range psychic probing into the Eye of Terror, by specially trained psykers of the Dark Angels, informed their masters that Sar Luther has rebuilt his forces. But instead of joining War Commander Sakaeron's crusades, these Fallen Angels plan something far darker and horrible but as of yet unknown to the Dark Angels.

 

The Dark Angels ready themselves for the Eleventh Vengeance Crusade, but strive to decipher Luther’s machinations. As the Eye of Terror begins to rumble and Chaos fleets prepare for war the Dark Angels and their Successors carefully watch for any sign of the Damned Knight of Caliban, committed to ending his ten thousand year betrayal.

 

Organisation-
The Dark Angels and their Successors abide by many of the principles and rules of the Codex Astartes, such as five-thousand man Chapters, ten companies of five hundred Astartes and much more. There are, however, two notable deviations from the Codex present in almost every Chapter descended from the Lion’s gene-line. The First and Second Company, the Deathwing and Ravenwing respectively, are the only ones outside of the Inner Circle to know of Luther’s betrayal and the Fallen Angels. The Ravenwing only know of base facts, the Deathwing scant more, but both work together to hunt down any of their Fallen brethren and bring them back to the Dark Angels’ fortress monastery: the Rock, for repentance and execution.

 

The Deathwing, many adorned in advanced models of Terminator Armour, marches to war only at the command of the Inner Circle and the Supreme Grand Master. When the Deathwing is deployed in force to a battlefield, there is certainly more going on than meets the eye. The Ravenwing, the quick and mobile lightning assault force of the Chapter, scour the galaxy in search of the Fallen and are usually the first to find them and bring them to judgment. Both companies work in concert with one another, all under the close watch of the Inner Circle. Such is the way of things in a majority of the Dark Angel Successor Chapters.

 

A more unique, independent formation is the Watchers Eternal, formed after the destruction of Caliban. Created by the Lion, this select group of Astartes was handpicked by their primarch for their purity of spirit and utmost loyalty. The duty of the Watchers Eternal is to forever move between Chapters of Lion-descent to prevent corruption from within and, if need be, remove heretical elements when necessary.

 

The Astartes that make up the Watchers are currently selected by the Watchers’ commander bearing the name and title of Lord Cypher in conjunction with the Dark Angels’ Supreme Grand Master and the Chapter Master of the particular Chapter the Astartes is being recruited from. Once inducted into the Watchers, all insignia and heraldry are removed except the Dark Angels winged sword and Lord Cypher’s white hood sigil. Though no more than five hundred Space Marines at a time, the Watchers Eternal are a force to be reckoned with, for in their pursuit of corruption, none are safe from scrutiny.

 

Despite this extra precaution, the Lion’s illustrious bloodline is not exempt from giving birth to traitors. The recent Badab War showed that even sons of the Lion could spit on their loyalty to the Imperium and join Chaos. But none of the ten Loyal Legions and their Successors are wholly exempt from this. The Dark Angels, to their credit, do have one of the lowest amounts of Astartes that turn traitor.

 

He ran as fast as he could, transhuman muscles burning with exhaustion. They were after him and they were relentless, they always were. It was almost admirable from a certain perspective. The storm was covering his retreat but he knew that would not stop them, merely delay.

 

They had already killed his compatriots, survivors of what had been the Angels of Penance, now the Angels of Damnation. Only he was left, just as they had planned. The others were traitors, but not the hidden shame of the Lion. The others were not Fallen, but he was.

 

Gripping his bolt pistol, he checked the ammunition. Three bolts remained while his chainsword was missing most of its monomolecular sharp teeth. He sighed. After nearly three centuries of running since he was last captured and escaped, his time was finally out. He would not be taken again. Stopping, he put the pistol to his temple and closed his eyes. He began to squeeze the trigger.

 

But his finger would not move. Opening his eyes he saw a figure in black a hundred metres away, hand outstretched, crystallised hood glowing with power. A Librarian! Damn them, they had prepared well it seemed. From behind he heard armoured boots thud on stone and puddles of water being splashed. Gauntlets from behind removed his bolter clip, then the round in the chamber. Only then did his body unfreeze. The useless pistol was knocked to the ground and he was punched in the stomach. The armour he wore on Caliban was long gone, now replaced with a superior Corvus model. But even that was half-broken, patched with scavenged metals and cannibalised parts. The armour easily buckled under the blow.

 

Bent over, out of breath and the will to live, he was dragged from his hiding spot out into the rain. It smacked against their armour; the water that hit his face was cool and refreshing. Around him the Watchers Eternal formed. Behind them came a squad of Ravenwing from the Disciples of Caliban with an Interrogator-Chaplain leading them. They all looked down at him, judging him, and feeling that they were superior and in the right. Fools the lot of them, he thought bitterly.

 

As lightning flashed and thunder roared a figure in black armour covered in a white robe emerged from amongst the Watchers. He moved towards him, a giant power sword sheathed across his back. He knew who this was. Cypher, though the bearer of that name was not the same brother as the one he knew so long ago.

 

“Legionnaire Willyr Castez, Dark Angel of the Calibanite Independent Defence Force, Fourth Company, Second Squad, traitor to the Imperium, the Lion and the Emperor. Fallen Angel,” intoned Cypher.

 

“You know me well. What is your name I wonder? The name you had before you abandoned it to adorn that white robe and wield that damn sword.” Silence was his answer, which Willyr expected.

 

“What now? Am I to be tortured to confess my sins? Taken to the Rock and made to scream and bleed until I yell my admission of fault?”

Cypher looked towards the Disciples’ Interrogator-Chaplain whom nodded.

 

“No, you will not. Not this time. You escaped before you could receive proper interrogation and judgment; you shall not have the chance to do so again.”

Unsheathing the Lion Sword from his back, Lord Cypher rested it in the ground. “Any last words, Fallen Angel, any repentance you wish to speak?”

Willyr lowered his head, revealing his exposed neck. “Just get it over with.”

 

“Very well. By standing order of Lion El’Jonson I sentence you, Legionnaire Willyr Castez, to die. May the Emperor pardon you for your sins and may He forgive us for our failures.”

 

The sword was raised and in one swift motion it executed Willyr the Fallen Angel. The rain helped ease the spread of blood across the muddy ground.

 

Recruitment-
The First Legion originally recruited from Terra, and once the Lion was discovered, Caliban. But since the cataclysmic destruction of that world, the Dark Angels select candidates from a host of sources. Some are chosen from underhive gangers, others from children of planetary aristocracy, and other the children of dead Imperial soldiers. While the Dark Angels have favourite recruitment worlds, these worlds only bring in three-quarters of recruitment, with the other quarter recruited wherever the Winged Sword ventures.

 

Homeworld-
Caliban was a Death World and home to the First Legion for a century before it was destroyed. The largest remnant of the planet, the Aldurukh Castle, is now the fortress-monastery of the Chapter and has been renamed the Rock. The Rock sports warp and plasma drives alongside advanced shielding and weaponry, making it one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, mobile star fortress in the Imperium. It is always on the move, preventing enemy attack and allowing the Dark Angels the ability to wage war across the galaxy with relative ease.

 

Beliefs-
The Dark Angels, as do their Successors, believe in strict honour, fierce loyalty to their brotherhood, and hold the highest reverence for their missing father, whom many still believe will return when the Imperium needs him most, when the End Times approach.

 

Gene-seed-
The gene-seed of the Dark Angels and their Successors has remained steadfastly pure, with all nineteen organs operating at maximum efficiency and with rejection rates being quite low. Such is the purity and compatibility of the Lion's gene-seed, that only the Ultramarines, Sons of Horus and Iron Warriors spawned more Successors.

 

Battlecry-
When the Dark Angels march to war, common battle-cries such as “For the Emperor!”, “For the Lion!” and when hunting down Fallen Angels, “Repent and receive absolution!” and “Repent! For tomorrow you die!” are heard.


Edited by Tanner151, 22 October 2017 - 03:23 AM.

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War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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Emperor’s Children – Scions of Treachery

 

“For two centuries we fought for the Emperor. Valiantly, loyally, and seeking to emulate what we mistook for nobility. I named you the Emperor’s Children to come closer to what I had thought was the epitome of perfection. I was wrong, deceived by grandiose promises made by my father. The Emperor, who so arrogantly titles himself the ‘Master of Mankind,’ is nothing more than a fraud, a manipulator, a thief, and a liar. He scurried to Terra, handing over the reins of command to a son as blind as He is, unwilling to finish the Crusade He started. And now the Emperor would rather have the Council of Terra, full of greedy bureaucrats and weak politicians to rule the Imperium. This is weakness and weakness is imperfection. The Imperium is ours to rule, the primarchs and Astartes, not mere mortals. We made this empire; we fought and bled for it. It is only right that we should rule it.

 

As we leave the gore-strewn grounds of Bellanor IV, let us never forget this action. Let history mark today as the day the Emperor’s Children burned in the ashes of rebellion and arose anew as the Sons of Fulgrim.”

 

-Primarch Fulgrim to the Third Legion, shortly after the Bellanor IV Dropsite Massacre

 

Origins-
The world of Chemos did not fare well during the Old Night. The warp storms that led to the near destruction of humanity and the fracture of interstellar government isolated the beautiful but harsh, dying world of Chemos from surrounding star systems.

 

Before Old Night, Chemos was a mining world, rich with resources. The world was warmed by two small distant suns and surrounded by a dust nebula making the world unable to have a true night or day but eternal twilight. This twilight forced the Chemosians to import almost all of its food through interstellar trade. But the warp storms severed interstellar travel leaving the planet to fend for itself in terms of food production, a task it could not meet.

The lack of foodstuffs led to world-wide famine on an unprecedented scale with millions dying every month. The rulers of the world, the Executives, regrettably ordered that a portion of the population was all that could be sustained and built factory-fortresses to sustain this select portion. The ones that were chosen to live in the factory-fortresses lived a difficult life working to sustain the technology around them or working in the recycling centres, attempting to maintain food and water levels to keep their people alive. Outside of the factory-fortresses the bulk of the population, lacking any degree of supplies, died off in the following decades leaving entire cities devoid of all life, much to the shame and sorrow of those fortunate enough to carry on in an endless process of recycling and refurbishing in the factory-fortresses. This cycle would last thousands of years with the planet only having a few more centuries until humanity was predicted to be extinct on the planet.

 

This was the world the Third Primarch of the Emperor descended upon. Like all of the Emperor’s sons his gene-capsule fell to the earth as if a falling star. The Executives of the largest factory-fortress, Callax, sent a team of Caretakers, the police force of the Executives, to the crash zone of the capsule pod. What they found was astonishing and would change Chemos forever.

 

They found a child of unparalleled beauty and an aura of wisdom permeated the young boy that the adult Caretakers detected. The commander of the Caretakers took the boy before the Executives, arguing that he should be allowed to live and not be put to death as was done to orphans and unplanned children. The Executives pointed out that resources and food was strictly rationed and that if the boy did not become a productive member of the city than he would be sent back out to the wastes, effectively a death sentence. The commander agreed and the boy was allowed to live. He was named Fulgrim shortly after, in honour of the old Chemosian god of creation. It was a name he would live up to in the coming years.

 

Fulgrim’s body, being the work of the Emperor, needed only the barest and smallest of sustenance to thrive on and within a few years he was an adult whose knowledge and ingenuity greatly helped the people of Callax. Within a short time Fulgrim secured himself a seat on the Executives Board and shortly thereafter became the sole leader of the factory-fortress.

 

Under his direction the factory-fortress expanded, re-opened closed mines and assimilated forgotten settlements, enlarging Callax’s resources and allowing for the first time in centuries a surplus in food production, allowing the strict regulation of resources to be eased and human reproduction to see positive, approved growth. Fulgrim’s skills quickly reached legendary heights, stories of his leadership swept across Chemos. Within fifty years Fulgrim was the sole ruler of the entire planet without a shot fired in anger. With food production and factory output reaching unknown heights the population and comfort of living rose steadily. Fine arts such as painting, music, and dancing, arts ignored during the decline of society, were rapidly taken up by Fulgrim and the people mirrored their beloved leader. Fulgrim concluded to his people that humanity without art was akin to lacking a soul, that art helped Mankind grow as a species and was a hallmark of cultured civilisation and they agreed wholeheartedly.

 

The Emperor, having detected the psychic presence of a son of His nearby, travelled in a vast fleet towards His Third Son. What the Emperor found amazed Him. Chemos, within just a fifty year span, had transformed from a planet nearing extinction to a world thriving with life, art, and industrial production. Chemos was the centre of a multi-star system economic confederation, enriching and enlarging its neighbours. To the pride of Fulgrim and his people, Chemos had developed enough agriculturally to export its surplus foodstuffs.

 

As the Emperor descended to the surface Fulgrim awaited with his army of Caretakers at the gates of Callax, the capital of this unified Chemos. The Emperor, exiting His golden dropship, was greeted with an army already kneeling in a show of fealty, taking their cue from their Phoenician.

 

Fulgrim stood ahead of the men and women he led, looking up to the sky with a knowing smile on his face. When the Caretakers warned Fulgrim that a large, unknown fleet of warships had entered the star system there was some panic amongst the populace but Fulgrim, somehow knowing who it was that was approaching Chemos, calmed the people and told them everything would be fine.

 

His Caretakers were still uneasy, not understanding the significance of the golden ship with eagles and lightning bolts adorning it. But Fulgrim stood there, in the simple, but finely crafted clothing he wore, awaiting his father’s judgment.

 

The dropship’s ramp lowered and golden light spilled from the interior, alighting the twilight sky. As a figure of magnitude and glory descended down the ramp Fulgrim dropped to his knees in adoration and love. His people did the same, trusting him.

 

The man he knew to be his father walked towards him, power and perfection in every centimetre of His being from the strands of his raven coloured hair to his eyes, full of experience and knowledge. The Emperor lowered an armoured gauntlet with palm upward. “Rise, my son, I am your father, the Emperor of Mankind, and I have come to claim you.”

 

“And so you shall,” Fulgrim said, taking the hand and rising. Father and son embraced and Fulgrim knew the future would be grand for not just him or the people of Chemos but for all of humanity.

 

With Fulgrim in tow, having declared his loyalty to the Emperor without a show of arms, one of the few primarchs to did so, the Emperor returned to Terra to announce Fulgrim to the Third Legion, the Legion based off his genome.

 

What Fulgrim found saddened him. A terrible accident known as the Blight occurred many years ago, corrupting almost all of the Third Legion’s stock of gene-seed, causing much of it to be destroyed and without a primarch rebuilding a Legion was a long and difficult process. Before him stood only 200 Space Marines, some of whom carried the banners of multiple companies, companies that had died off or had been annihilated during the Crusade.

 

The primarch saw a resemblance of the struggle of Chemos in his remaining gene-sons. To them he gave the sacred task of bringing the Emperor's light to all the stars in the sky. The Book of Primarchs states he told them upon their first meeting, "You are the Emperor's chosen, His heralds, His warriors, His children, for this is only the beginning."

 

While many were aghast that the new primarch would dare use the Emperor’s own title in the naming of a Legion the Emperor simply laughed and indulged His son. From henceforth the Emperor renamed the Third Legion the ‘Emperor's Children,’ ratifying a name long known within the Legion since their defence of the Master of Mankind during the Proximan Betrayal early in the Great Crusade but now given the full legal authority of Imperial decree. The Officio Militaris' College of Arms recorded the change and marked the Third Legion’s panoply as Imperial purple and gold with the talon-spur as their emblem and the unique right to bear the Aquila Palatine upon their breastplate as executors of the Imperial will, an honour given only to the Emperor's Children. Of course, following the great betrayal that was the Fulgrimian Heresy the Aquila was allowed to be worn on the breastplate of all loyal Astartes, if they chose to wear it.

 

Fulgrim would state that his Legion’s overall goal was to follow the exemplary honour of the Master of Mankind, never to fail in service to Him, and to follow the path of perfection so that they truly would be the children of the Emperor.

 

Renamed and now led by their primogenitor the Emperor’s Children were ready to take part in the Great Crusade once more. Due to their low numbers, however, meant that for some years they would be delegated to another Legion to fight alongside. The Emperor chose Horus Lupercal to guide and tutor the young Fulgrim, a decision that would bring the two Legions and their gene-sires close for the remainder of the Great Crusade.

 

For over a standard decade Fulgrim’s Emperor's Children and Horus’ Luna Wolves fought side-by-side across a hundred battlefields. The bonds of brotherhood and trust between Fulgrim and Horus, forged in  war, became unbreakable, unalike as they were. So too did their Legions grow close and respectful of each other, a brotherhood that only became stronger as the decades passed by.

 

Just as unalike as their respective primarchs were in temperament but equal in skill, both Legions and their primarchs seemed to complement one another. Where Horus Lupercal was swift and intuitive, Fulgrim the Phoenician was patient and considered. Where the Luna Wolves were direct and brutal, the Emperor's Children were flexible and subtle. When eventually the Third Legion’s numbers had grown to allow independent campaigning the Emperor's Children broke away to stand on their own but remembered their cousins in the XVI, becoming oath-brothers to the Luna Wolves; it was a bond that would unsurprisingly not survive the horrors of the Heresy.

 

The Great Crusade-
Now in the tens of thousands the Emperor’s Children spread out across the galaxy on the Emperor’s Great Crusade, taking on any and all foes as a test. With each victory over a new enemy Fulgrim would state that the Legion had achieved a step closer to perfection and would only have to continue down the path of war to attain which they sought.

 

During the Great Crusade, Fulgrim met his brother Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands, on Terra. Manus, never the friendliest primarch with a cold persona, initially disdained the Emperor’s Children purple-gold armoured primarch, seeing him as an arrogant peacock. Fulgrim on the other hand saw Manus as an uncultured brute.

 

Both brothers felt the shared bonds of alchemy and science that had gone into their making and decided to test their strengths. Manus later told his First Captain, Gabriel Santor, that Fulgrim had declared that he had come to forge the most perfect weapon ever created, and that he would wield it in combat. Of course the Primarch of the Iron Hands could not let such a boast go unanswered, and he laughed in Fulgrim’s face, declaring that such weak, flesh hands could never be the equal of his own living metal appendages. Fulgrim accepted the challenge with regal grace, and both primarchs stripped to the waist, working without pause for weeks on end, the forge ringing with the deafening pound of hammers, the hiss of cooling metal, and the good natured insults of two brothers as they sought to outdo one another.

 

At the end of months of unceasing toil, both warriors had finished their weapons. Fulgrim had forged a mighty warhammer he named Forgebreaker, a warhammer that only with a primarch’s formidable strength could an individual wield, and declared that it could level a mountain with a single blow. Ferrus Manus had created a sword he named Fireblade that would forever burn with the fire of the forge. Both weapons were of unparalleled quality.

 

Upon seeing what the other had created, each primarch declared that the other’s was the superior weapon. Without another word between the two, both primarchs traded weapons and with that act sealed their friendship, much to the woe of the Imperium in later years.

 

Many decades later at Ullanor when Horus was declared Warmaster, Fulgrim was among the first to congratulate his brother, praising his name, and renewing the oaths they swore long ago. While many primarchs questioned the decision of raising Horus above the rest of their brotherhood Fulgrim knew in his heart that his father had made the right choice.

 

Fall to Chaos-
Shortly after Ullanor the Emperor’s Children Primarch had a challenge for the III in mind. A campaign that would truly test the mettle and skill of his Legion, an alien foe so strong that Imperial commanders predicted it would be years, perhaps decades of bloody warfare to quell the enemy. Such strength this enemy had that even some on the Council of Terra were talking of making the alien empire a protectorate of the Imperium, to the disgust and outrage of the Phoenician. Fulgrim would not have it as per Imperial doctrine only humanity was perfect and should not be corrupted by such abominations. The alien race, known as the Laer, must be exterminated root and stem, to show the galaxy that the Imperium could and would defeat all before it. Not only did Fulgrim devote his entire Legion of over one hundred thousand Astartes to the campaign he also boasted that it would be done not in years or decades but within a single Terran month to the astonishment of many. Many Imperial commanders, and even a few of his brothers, thought the Third Primarch was bragging and overestimating his Legion’s ability. As it would turn out his Legion accomplished the task splendidly and within the time limit.

 

The campaign, better known as the Cleansing of Laeran, would last only twenty-seven days and would see the Laer’s empire utterly obliterated with their homeworld being the last bastion remaining. In the course of mere hours the III destroyed the alien fleet protecting Laeran, landing upon the ocean-world in the tens of thousands. By the end of the day the Emperor’s Children had killed every last alien monstrosity.

 

At campaign's end, with the entire Laer species wiped from existence, Fulgrim decided to visit the grand Laer temple upon the surface, known for its renowned beauty and architecture despite being of xenos origin. It was here that the first seeds of damnation would be sown amongst this once loyal gene-line. The primarch would arrive to the temple and leave enraptured with a xenos sword of sinister design as a trophy of the campaign.

 

Throughout the campaign the Legion’s Apothecaries had discovered that the Laer had modified and enhanced their own bodies to attain specific states to better contribute to their species as a whole. Chief Apothecary Fabius Bile detailed to the Phoenician of the potential benefits of genetic modification to the standard Astartes template. This intrigued Fulgrim as he compared it to what Mankind did with unmodified humans and Astartes, seeing it as an evolution of the species, therefore making it stronger and more perfect. Fulgrim gave approval to Bile to perform surgery on several volunteer legionnaires who were in critical condition from the Cleansing and to report to him if anything noteworthy occurred.

 

Bile enthusiastically began to experiment on several Astartes that were severely wounded and although many died horrific deaths as their bodies reacted poorly to Bile’s machinations, several did survive and would be the origins of the moral corruption of the Third Legion. For nearly a year afterwards the Emperor’s Children began their downward spiral as Bile expanded his “improvements” to include hundreds of perfectly healthy Astartes. Fulgrim began to care less about emulating the Emperor and fighting for His Imperium, and instead focusing on his own accomplishments and glories while self-indulgence amongst his sons rose dramatically.

 

Many Inquisitors, in several of their highly-restricted missives to the High Lords of Terra centuries after the Heresy, detailed that if the Emperor’s Children had continued on the path they were once on then they would have been the hedonistic warriors of the Chaos God Slaanesh. But ensuing events would show that this was not the case, and that the Fifth Legion, not the Third, would be the favoured of the Dark Prince. It is clear though from what little evidence survived the Heresy and the Scouring is that the destiny of the Emperor’s Children changed drastically via the intervention of Lorgar following news of Horus’ near-mortal wounding on Davin and the Warmaster’s quick relocation to Terra for healing.

 

Few know the exact words spoken between the Aurelian and the Phoenician, and the survivors that do all reside in the Eye of Terror, but days after Lorgar’s arrival the two primarchs journeyed to a world deep into unchartered territories in the Segmentum Obscurus. There upon the surface of a mist-covered planet, the two brothers entered into a cave by themselves. Neither of the two demigods spoke of what transpired in there but when they emerged, Fulgrim was no longer the Chosen of Slaanesh, but rather the Avatar of Chaos Undivided. He was to be their champion, one who would dethrone his father and install himself as the Second Emperor of Mankind.

 

“What lies in there?” his brother asked him.

 

Lorgar turned to look at him, his skin covered in golden Colchisian script, armour adorned with parchment and words of forgotten power, immaculate and inspiring. The power-maul Illuminarum rested in his hand. “The truth of course,” he replied to Fulgrim. Gesturing to cave whose blackness was impenetrable even to their sight. “In there you will find truth and be bestowed a great responsibility. Can you bear it?”

 

The Phoenician smirked, “I can handle anything, brother.”

 

“Good, then come,” beckoned Lorgar. The Seventeenth Primarch walked forward confidently, his hand resting on a large book chained to the waist. He began to pray, sending his devotions into the Immaterium, letting them reverberate, calling forth those he beseeched to meet them. From behind, Lorgar heard Fulgrim speak to his Guard.

 

“Stay here, my sons. Only my brother and I can enter.” His Guard accepted this, though Lorgar could feel their displeasure, showing that they did not care for the order’s necessity.

 

Fulgrim quickly joined his brother and he heard Lorgar’s prayers. Not so long ago, Fulgrim would have looked down upon him and sneered. The Third Son had always felt like he was superior to his devout brother, but that had been in the past. Now…  Now he understood that there were indeed beings to pray too and held his tongue as they walked. Fulgrim understood that their father had lied to them, to all of them; the facades that the Emperor had constructed were being broken down and the truth of the universe was slowly re-emerging after a long slumber. Lorgar had once been known as the weakest, but in fact he had been the strongest, of mind and will if not body.

 

“What will we accomplish here, Lorgar?” Fulgrim queried as they stood at the entrance.

 

“Revelation and ascendance,” he said as he stepped forward. Fulgrim matched his brother’s pace and they walked inside. The cave was an unnatural pitch-black, but Lorgar’s eyes were able to pierce it enough for him not to stumble, same for his brother. Their feet crunched rocks as they walked. It took him a moment to realise that the ‘rocks’ were bones and skulls that they treaded upon. Likely the bones of the pious or, just as likely, the bones of unbelievers. Both were viable choices to the Primordial Annihilator.

 

After what felt like hours, but could not have been more than several minutes, the two demigods emerged into a grand cavern, the walls decorated with stacked skulls; sigils etched into the wall stared down upon them. Before them was a clearing and behind that were four caves. Each cave shone with a faint colour.

 

The one on the far left steamed a sickly greenish-black. From there emerged a bloated figure, wrapped in bandages forever stained with corrupted blood. It walked to a dais and stood there, waiting. The cave to the right reeked like a slaughterhouse, Lorgar’s nose detected viscera, bone marrow and blood, so much blood. A figure adorned in battle armour strode out, a long, jagged sword strapped to its back. The skin was dark red and the eyes the colour of hateful fire. It too stood on a dais.

 

The next cave was covered in steel blue mist which a figure emerged from quickly, with only a staff as a weapon. The crystal on the staff glowed with power; a sorcerer, clearly. The fourth and final cave a purple-pink mist emitted from it. It reached Lorgar’s nostrils and he inhaled it. Images of eternal pleasure and pain reached him, clouting him with its cloying smell. Rich laughter followed and it was neither male nor female, yet both at once. A voice tried to speak to him, yet the words could not be discerned. He shook his head, his mental fortitude greater than the temptations. Turning to look as Fulgrim, however, he saw his brother enjoying the sensations. The Touch of Slaanesh was upon Fulgrim, but it wasn’t rooted deep, not yet at least.

 

"Brother."

 

No response.

 

+Brother.+ he pulsed psychically.

 

Fulgrim’s eyes focused. He looked sidelong at Lorgar. Lorgar looked at his brother with pale golden eyes and returned to speaking with his natural voice. “Focus, Fulgrim. You are in the midst of godly representatives.”

 

He bowed his head in acknowledgment. Turning back to the four beings, each so different, yet so similar. The creature that emerged from the final cave was serpentine with long, luscious hair; three breasts covered in the finest silks and the eyes an unnatural shade of emerald green. The four stood before him.

 

Eventually, the one covered in cloaks and bearing the staff spoke, “Fulgrim the Phoenician, Third Son of the Anathema, you come before us. Why?”

Fulgrim stepped forward, Lorgar’s advisory words from the past few days coursing through his mind. “I have come here today,” he began, “to become your Avatar of Chaos Undivided for the war to come.”

 

“Explain yourself,” demanded the cloaked sorcerer. And so Fulgrim did, for hours, or days, Lorgar was not quite sure. Time worked differently here. As his brother spoke to the Chaos representatives, the Aurelian could feel the psychic communication between the four. They were judging him, seeing if he was worthy of their blessing. They were contemplating making Fulgrim their Champion.

 

Lorgar looked at his brother, who continued to debate, answer and declare to the four before him. He was strong, thought Lorgar, arrogant perhaps, but the only true choice left amongst the primarchs liable to see truth. If only Horus had gone to Davin's surface and succumbed to the temptations… Alas, he did not, but that did not spell defeat. No, it just meant a redirection of strategy, of leadership.

 

At long last the four stopped asking questions, their test with his brother having concluded. “You are worthy, Fulgrim,” spoke the sorcerer. “No longer will you be lackey to the Anathema, instead you shall receive blessings from the four Dark Gods. Go forth, and plunge the Imperium in war. Win the war and become the Second Emperor.”

 

Lorgar watched Fulgrim nod, power radiating from his body as he accepted the subtle blessings. They left the cavern, together. They began their trek back the way they had come. The descent had been silent, but the ascent was the opposite. The two brothers talked of strategy, plans and plots. In the distance they could see the end of the tunnel, light piercing the veil of darkness.

 

With Fulgrim no longer the Chosen of Slaanesh, the Youngest God demanded a Legion. But who to turn, he pondered as they continued to walk?

 

“Brother,” started the Urizen, “we need more Legions.”

 

“The White Scars,” Fulgrim replied immediately.

 

“The White Scars? They are uncultured barbarians, not fit for the new Imperium."

 

“And that is where you are mistaken, Lorgar. Jaghatai and his sons might appear to be uncouth like the Sixth Legion at a glance, but they in fact are highly cultured if one were to look deep. Jaghatai has never been close to the Emperor, and cares little for the Imperium. He would rather be on the frontier, fighting with blade and bolter, exalting in the thrill of war and its riches.” The Phoenician looked at the Aurelian. “I think he is a perfect candidate for our rebellion.”

 

“As you say,” replied Lorgar. Hmm, perhaps that thrill of war and plunder could play into their downfall to Slaanesh. Jaghatai’s past on Chogoris was promising. “And how will we turn him?”

 

“There are ways. His loyalty to the Emperor is like thin glass. You just need to apply a little pressure and it will shatter.”

 

“I see.” Lorgar looked to Fulgrim’s side, the Laer sword hung comfortably next to Fireblade. That blade would certainly help.

 

“Fulgrim," he began, “let me take that blade. If I present it to Jaghatai, showing that you place trust in me and desire his brotherhood, it would help convince him. At the very least, it would seal his alliance to the rebellion.”

 

Fulgrim looked down at the sword and frowned. For a moment, Lorgar did not think he would depart with the blade, but after a moment's hesitation he held it out for Lorgar to take. “Take this and give it to him. I will go to Ferrus and convince him to join us. His discord with the Emperor has grown worse of late, and he will follow me before that weak-willed hypocrite. Once that is accomplished I will confer with Konrad. We have much to discuss. Then we will be ready.”

 

Lorgar took the sword, looking upon it for a moment. He felt whispers of the Dark Prince through its hilt, promises of power and uncountable pleasures. Yes, he thought, this would most certainly help sway the Warhawk. “We will be outnumbered in this war,” he warned. “Even with the Fifth, Eighth and Tenth Legions added to the rest of us.”

 

“Numbers mean little when compared to strategy and effectiveness. Our opening moves will kill many loyalists, evening out the imbalance significantly.”

Lorgar nodded at this. “To war and victory.”

 

“To war and victory,” Fulgrim said as they emerged from the cave into the light.

 

It was debated on in the early years of the Age of the Imperium why Fulgrim had been chosen to become the Arch-Traitor. Was it ambition, greed, or something worse? Rumours circulated by Chaos agents whispered that Horus Lupercal had once been the target of their foul machinations, but the Warmaster’s spirit and loyalty were too strong and he resisted their lies and temptations while Mortarion and the Emperor healed his body and mind. With their plans to bring the Warmaster to the side of Chaos utterly foiled, the Ruinous Powers chose Fulgrim, as it was deemed he held the potential to bring the Imperium to its knees and already had the seeds of dissension within him. He had the charisma, a powerful Legion, widespread popularity across the Imperium, and was one of the better strategists amongst his brothers. Among the Traitor Primarchs, he was the preeminent option, though Manus, Lorgar or Angron would have been likely alternatives.

 

When Fulgrim returned to his fleet, he made it clear that Bile was to cease his modifications of Astartes and their gene-seed. When the Chief Apothecary questioned his primarch, the Phoenician starkly replied, “It is no longer our way. My eyes are clear now and we do not need to pollute my bloodline. We need warriors, not freaks. The war to come will be the crucible of our perfection.” Bile publicly agreed to cease his experiments but quietly continued his work in secret aboard his flagship Andronius on those Astartes that craved pain and pleasure more than the wrath of their lord father. This is where the Sect of Slaanesh would grow strong and would come to outnumber the other Sects throughout the Heresy, though the vast majority followed their father in embracing Chaos Undivided in its entirety.

 

With himself now destined to be the Arch-Traitor by will of the gods, Fulgrim astropathically ordered the entire Emperor’s Children Legion to return to Chemos. As for the reason, the Phoenician stated that the Legion would hold an ancient Chemosian tradition that would harken them to their world’s old, noble culture and symbolise the ending years of the Great Crusade and the age to come. This was to be the Feast of Rebirth. As the many fleets of the III made way through the warp to their homeworld, Fulgrim informed his sons he knew would follow him into rebellion that the Legion must purge itself before it could become the catalysts of the new order.

 

Before Fulgrim made way to his homeworld, he rendezvoused with Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands. Fulgrim appealed to his brother’s stark and brutal philosophy of strength and right of dominance over the weak. The Phoenician exploited the widening rift between the Emperor and the Medusan Primarch, reinforcing Manus' own reservations about the future of an Imperium led by mortal humans that had never had to fight, bleed and struggle for the empire they were to govern. Fulgrim also made promises that the Emperor's edicts and bans on certain technological advancements and research would be rescinded once he sat the Golden Throne. By the time the Arch-Traitor left, Manus and the Iron Hands were sworn to his cause. The primarch and the bulk of the Iron Tenth made their way to Ultramar in preparation for the war to come, while several thousand were quietly sent to Mars to assist in Adept Chrom's upcoming schism, as well as attempt to access the forbidden technologies laying neglected in the Vaults of Moravec. Shortly after, the Phoenician met with the Night Haunter.

 

Konrad Curze and his Night Lords had always walked a fine line between sanctioned and censorship; they knew that one day the Emperor would judge them for their actions and call them to account for them. The Night Lords, tired of disgust and hatred directed towards them from the Imperium and their fellow Legions, readily agreed to Fulgrim’s plans and made way to the Segmentum Tempestus to begin a crusade of terror and death that would without a doubt bring Imperial retribution, just as the Arch-Traitor and Curze planned.

 

Finally, the Phoenician arrived to his homeworld; preparations for the massive celebration were already well underway. For days the Legion and mortal serfs prepared for the first Feast of Rebirth in a thousand years. Eventually all was ready and the Feast began. Over one hundred thousand Astartes, nearly the Legion in its entirety, feasted.  Bonds of friendship and brotherhood were renewed, camaraderie shared, and tales of war were spoken with pride and fondness.

 

As the primarch stood tall to give the concluding speech, he told his sons of their bravery and excellence in the Crusade. He made thinly veiled detractions of the Emperor, and upon the Feast’s conclusion he spoke the code-word that authorised the massacre to begin. The first casualty of the loyalists was Lord Commander Vespasian, stabbed through the hearts by his rival Eidolon, but far from the last. In the ensuing chaos thousands of loyalists died before they could escape the bloodbath.

 

It was a good day.

 

Phoenix Guard Veteran Sergeant Alden Kalaphract walked the walls of the Fortress-Factory city Callax, just as he had for three decades as the representative embodiment of the primarch. Looking out amongst the plains of dirt and grass, the eternal twilight of the world gifted by the stars Hellionna and Apillia, the Guard sergeant felt peace here at home.

 

Well, his adopted home. Terra was his true home though he had not seen it in many years. When Fulgrim was brought before the remains of his Legion, Alden had been one of the Two Hundred. He carried two banners that day, that of his company and of another. Dark times, those were, but with the primarch found, things had rapidly improved. Fresh gene-seed and Fulgrim’s charisma and drive saved them and the survivors could put the dark times of the Blight behind them.

 

Not only did they gain a father, but a name as well. Emperor’s Children they were ever after. From behind he could hear jubilation and sounds of music and feasting. The Feast of Rebirth was going well, quite well in fact. Although the entirety of the III in the star system was in attendance, the duties of the Phoenix Guard never ended.

 

He continued his walk atop the battlements of old, banners of the Palatine Aquila and the standard Imperial Aquila flickering in the cool wind. The wind was growing in strength but it could not hide the sounds from behind.

Turning, he nodded to the five that approached him.

 

“Keron, Mallius, Tyrin, Jaxxis, Venekar,” he said to his Phoenix brothers. They nodded back and took place behind him. Raising a brow to them, he asked, “What brings you here, brothers? You are to be beside the Phoenician.” He turned back to look across the landscape.

“We were reassigned, brother-sergeant,” said Keron.

 

“Reassigned?” he chuckled, “Well, I’m not sure who you five annoyed, but it is quite boring out here. Peaceful, but boring. You’re missing the celebration after all.” In the background he could hear the primarch’s voice echo through Callax through vox-speakers. The final speech was beginning.

They stood silently. Turning from the gazing out across the plains, Alden turned back to face his brothers.

 

“Why are you really here?” he asked quizzically.

 

Keron stepped forward, “To ask you a question, Sergeant Alden.”

 

“Well get on with it, these old bones don’t like to stand needlessly.”

 

“Where do your loyalties lay?”

 

Alden’s jaw clenched partly in surprise, partly in anger. “To the Emperor and Fulgrim, of course. You dare ask that?”

 

Keron ignored the question. “If you had to choose, where would your loyalty be sworn to in its entirety?”

 

Before he could respond, gunfire and explosions erupted from the Square of Leovo. Alden tensed, believing there to be an attack, but the other five didn’t move, almost as if they expected it. Realisation dawned.

 

“So,” he spat, “the entire Guard is following this… this madness?”

 

“You are the only one we doubted, and it seems for good reason. We wish to raise our father as the Second Emperor, the True Emperor of Mankind. None can know that a member of the primarch’s own bodyguard chose the Emperor over the Phoenician. So again, what say you?”

“Heresy.”

 

With that word uttered the other five rushed him, believing that his years on Chemos away from the Great Crusade and his advanced age had slowed him down. It had not. Tyrin died with a power spear's blade through the chest, thrown with accuracy by Alden. With them getting so close it would have been a hindrance.

 

Pulling his gladius, a gift from an Ultramarine comrade after a cooperative campaign of compliance a century ago, out of its scabbard he ducked a swing by Jaxxis’ spear and rammed the short combat sword through the soft flesh of the chin, driving through tongue and cranium, piercing the brain. As the traitor died, Alden gripped the traitor's spear as it loosed from his fingers, spun around, deflecting a blow from Venekar and stabbed it into Keron’s leg. Blood spilled out like thick wine. He stood straight and kicked his former brother in the left knee, causing it to fold backwards, breaking it despite the armour.

 

With his knee shattered, Keron fell, grunting in pain and cursing him. Mallius’ sword caught Alden in the abdomen, but as the traitor tried to pull it out, Alden kept it in place with one hand while his other rammed the gladius in Mallius’ neck. With a quick twist and flick, the head came off and rolled across the pristine alabaster ceramite.

 

Pulling the sword from his stomach, adrenaline and pain-chems from his body and armour minimising the pain, Alden took a step near Venekar who backed away.

 

“Is that all you’ve got, you bastard?”

 

Alden’s chest exploded. He fell to the ground. Behind him he heard Keron curse again as the other Astartes pushed himself up. Venekar knocked his gladius away and stood over him, flipping him onto his back with a foot.

 

“Any last words?” Keron taunted, raising a smoking bolt pistol to aim at Alden’s skull.

 

“For the Emper-”

 

A bolt shot was fired and Alden Kalaphract, true Child of the Emperor, died.

 

Although several groups of loyal Emperor’s Children managed to escape the Feast to scatter across the planet, only two were able to truly annoy the traitors. One, led by Lieutenant Commander Abdemon, travelled to the fortress-factory city of Dallyn and would resist the traitor Third Legion for several days before being killed by the then-Sergeant Tyberius Sakaeron. The other group dual-led by Captain Saul Tarvitz and Captain Solomon Demeter managed to capture an intra-system cargo ship and escaped to star system’s vast asteroid belt. There they would hide, waiting patiently for months until an opportunity presented itself to capture a warp capable ship and warn the Emperor of Fulgrim’s treachery. By the time Tarvitz and the other loyal Emperor’s Children reached Terra, it was too late. Fulgrim’s Dropsite Massacre had already occurred, seeing to the deaths of near two hundred thousand loyalist Astartes.

 

Dropsite Massacre-
When word reached Chemos of Curze’s murderous rampage and the orders from Terra to join with Sanguinius, Fulgrim was pleased. His plan was working; the loyalists were being duped into assembling in force; just as he had planned months ago with the Night Haunter. The purged Emperor's Children journeyed quickly and arrived in the Bellanor Star System, joining forces with the other Legions that made up the Retribution Armada. As planned months earlier, the Word Bearers arrived in half their number, declaring to help rid the galaxy of the Night Lords.

 

Sanguinius called a conclave of his brothers and, in conjunction with Fulgrim, crafted a battle-plan that would utterly destroy the Eighth Legion. The first to land were the drop-pods of the Ninth and Twelfth Legions, impacting around communication hubs and supply depots throughout Rose City.

 

The Fourteenth, Eighteenth and the remainder of the Ninth followed en masse, landing on the outskirts of the city to establish a fall-back position. First Captain Raldoron of the Blood Angels took his forces and moved towards the centre of the city where Sanguinius fought with his elite. Death Guard and Salamander legionnaires protected the flanks and rear, preventing any counter-attack by the Night Lords.

 

The assault was going well, though the Night Lords were entrenched deep. Fulgrim, seeing that the loyalists were in prime condition, messaged Sanguinius that reinforcements were inbound. The Word Bearers, the traitorous Death Guard, the World Eaters, and the Emperor’s Children landed in the drop-zones and awaited their ‘allies.’

 

Salamander and Death Guard loyalists withdrew to the drop-zones. There, Fulgrim revealed the depths of his treachery. Within moments of he and his brothers’ Legions opening fire, thousands of loyalists lay dead. As the traitors advanced towards the city to encircle the loyalists, World Eater drop-pods commanded by Angron landed amidst the retreating Imperial Astartes, killing thousands more.

 

For over a day the traitors pushed ever inwards, cutting down the loyalists like a scythe through wheat. The loss of the Serenity Spaceport was unexpected, and it allowed the Imperials to withdraw to their beleaguered fleet in orbit. The Bellanor Exodus saw the majority of the survivors evacuated. Under the leadership of the Angel, the Imperial fleet was able to break through and escape. Though Fulgrim was irritated that any escaped, he was nonetheless pleased with how his rebellion had begun.

 

As the dust settled on Bellanor, Fulgrim was elevated to official leader of the rebellion and given the rank of War Commander by his brothers. With the traitors united in purpose and the majority concentrated in one location, the War Commander began to order his brothers and their Legions to theatres of war to hamper Throne-loyalists while his now renamed Sons of Fulgrim, World Eaters, Black Legion and Thousand Sons began to advance onto the Throneworld itself. His rebellion would conquer thousands of worlds and tens of thousands more joined him, some voluntarily while others did so to cowardly avoid conflict.

 

The view before him was magnificent.

 

A million men of the Imperial Army stood before him, their regimental banners proud and on display. Overhead flight after flight of atmospheric bombers, fighters and dropships flew. In orbit the Pride of Chemos skirted the upper atmosphere. It would cause a thunderstorm, but that would be later.

Fulgrim, reverently called the Phoenician, War Commander of the Eight Legions, and future Second Emperor of Mankind, looked out the balcony window of his residential suite towards the army assembled before him.

 

Tank after tank, the Leman Russ-model having been renamed the Gorgon-model for the rebel Legions, APCs, and trucks were arranged neatly to show the planet’s organisation and pursuit of perfection. Not bad, for mortals.

 

The world of Thaladyne had welcomed him with open arms three days ago. The local Imperial Army garrison, both fleet and ground components, swore fealty immediately when his fleet emerged from the warp. Nowhere on the planet did the Imperial Aquila fly, only the Chemosian Phoenix did.

 

Behind him the doors of his sanctum opened and a dozen pair of boots entered. Turning, Fulgrim looked at his sons, eleven lord commanders and his first captain. Their armour was the purple and gold of the Emperor's Children but the bird of prey on the breastplate was not the Emperor's Aquila but Fulgrim's Phoenix. “My sons, I have called you here today to plan our next move.” He snapped his fingers and a hololithic projection blinked into existence. A world of vast mountains and forests was presented, its beauty impressive but not overly so.

 

Eidolon read the world’s name, “Molech,” he stepped closer, “the name sounds familiar but I cannot quite place it.”

 

Fulgrim chuckled dryly, “That’s the point.”

 

His sons looked at their gene-sire, questions obvious in their stances and faces.

 

“The Third Legion, in conjunction with the First and Fifth, took Molech decades ago without a single shot being fired. The Emperor led the compliance. Eidolon you were there, you stood beside me as the world’s leadership swore fealty to the Imperium. Can you not remember?”

 

The Lord Commander Primus stood still, his mind trying hard to pierce the shadows that clouded his memories. After a moment, he muttered, “No, I cannot.”

 

“Exactly!” Fulgrim moved closer to the holo-world. “We were on that world for months according to data-logs, yet I cannot remember but the vaguest details myself. I cannot remember, because the Emperor did not want me to. He did something to my brothers and I, alongside our sons, something to make us forget. Whatever he is trying to hide there, I will find it.”

 

“What are the planet’s defences?” asked Kaesoron, he stood somewhat separately from the lord commanders, his position an oddity in the Legion's hierarchy. Despite his disadvantage and lack of power, the Astartes had a sharp mind and could have gone far if he were a lord commander, but alas Kaesoron took a certain pride in his rank after so many years holding it.

 

“A fleet in orbit, numbering over seventy warships, including eight battleships and five fleet carriers; fifty-eight million Army and militia soldiery, alongside five hundred Astartes drawn from the Blood Angels and Ultramarines.”

 

“So much protection… What could warrant that?” inquired Sakaeron. The young lord commander stood at ease, his violet eyes so like Fulgrim's scanning the world, looking for weaknesses, areas to deploy and where to strike.

 

The War Commander’s own gaze stared at the holo-world intently, “That’s what I intend to find out.”

 

“What assets should be deployed to take Molech, War Commander?” inquired Kaesoron.

 

“We have thirty-five thousand Sons in the fleet, eight thousand Black Legion led by Typhon, and six  hundred or so Thousand Sons led by Magnus the Red. Our fleet is much larger and more powerful than theirs and we have approximately thirty million Army troopers. That will be enough,” stated Lord Commander Lucius. “We can take the world.”

 

“Aye, but that could take months as the loyalists are fortified and dug in, not to mention Molech is a Knight-World and we’d have to face several Knight Houses,” Lord Command Merrin Valavonius said, looking sidelong at Lucius. “We need more, more Astartes and more Army divisions.”

 

“You are correct, Merrin. That is why I have ordered for an additional fifteen million Army soldiers from various fleets not currently in combat to rendezvous with us. And as for more Astartes,” the War Commander crossed his arms, “twenty thousand White Scars will be here soon, led personally by my brother.”

 

Siege of Terra-
After seven years of civil war the Phoenician deemed he was strong enough to attack the Throneworld. The bulk of the Traitor Legions invaded the Sol System and within a month had defeated Battlefleet Solar and began to land forces upon Luna and Terra.

 

The traitors quickly conquered Luna and captured the Lion’s Gate and Eternity Wall Spaceports on Terra, establishing a base of operations for their invasion force. After these relatively easy victories, troubles began for the traitors. The Arch-Traitor had not planned on the Imperial Palace being as well fortified as it had become. Dorn and Perturabo working in such a successful conjunction together allowed the Palace to become the most heavily defended fortress in the galaxy. Fulgrim had hoped their personalities would clash, overriding their cool friendship. Instead, the two brothers' friendship only strengthened into the close brotherhood of which it is now remembered.

 

Despite the effectiveness and fortification done by the IV and VII, and the leadership of the Warmaster, the loyalists were vastly outnumbered and the three Loyal Legions were slowly but surely pushed back. But the War Commander was becoming worried. He had hoped to capture Terra quickly but weeks turned into a month and his forces had only captured the outer Saturmine Gate.

 

As the Siege trudged onwards, the Ultimate Gate fell within two months and the traitors swarmed to the Eternity Gate, believing victory to be near. That belief in victory was swept away with the sudden arrival of the Raven Guard. As the fleet of the Nineteenth Legion joined the remaining Imperial warships in the system, Corax and his veteran legionnaires entered into the Palace through secret pathways while the rest of the XIX scattered across the globe to combat the White Scars who were butchering the Terran populace for sport and pleasure. For weeks afterwards the Siege was deadlocked, neither side able to gain an upper hand.  With the failure to capture the Eternity Gate on the ninety-third day and Imperial reinforcements inbound, Fulgrim became desperate.

 

Summoning Alpharius the two primarchs created a battle-plan that both hoped would win the war. Two days later void shields of the Sanctum Imperialis suffered a cataclysmic failure and collapsed. With nothing to bar his way, the War Commander and a strike force were teleported deep inside the Imperial Palace. Fulgrim and the strike teams moved swiftly down the vaunted corridors of the Palace until they reached the Throne Room itself.

 

Before the traitors stood Captain-General Constantin Valdor of the Legio Custodes and Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists. While Lord Commander Sakaeron advanced to fight Valdor, Fulgrim tried to convince his brother to join him and cast down their father. Dorn refused and the two duelled though the end result was not in doubt. Within moments, Dorn lay dead at Fulgrim’s feet and the War Commander began to advance into the Throne Room itself. The Emperor, having felt and seen His son’s death, readied Himself to confront the wayward son outside the gates of His private sanctum. The two fought a brief but devastating battle that ended with Fulgrim’s physical death and his soul destroyed beyond recovery, leaving the Ruinous Powers unable to retrieve it. As the Arch-Traitor’s sons teleported his corpse back to the Pride of Chemos, the Warmaster, Perturabo and Corax arrived to the Throne Room to find their brother dead and their father dying.

 

With Fulgrim’s death, the Heresy was lost. The Sons of Fulgrim fled first from Terra, their hearts filled with grief at the death of their gene-sire. In the wake of their sudden departure the loyalists launched a retaliatory offensive, killing thousands of traitor Astartes and tens of millions of rebel soldiers as they attempted to flee. Due to fleeing that day without warning, and causing many to lose their lives, many of the Traitor Legions festered a hatred of the Third Legion that would last for centuries to millennia, none more so than the World Eaters. The aftermath of the Heresy would see the traitors retreating across the galaxy. The Year of Intermission saw the Imperium consolidate and prepare for its counter-attack. The Great Scouring would last seven years and see the Imperium’s borders restored and the Traitor Legions pushed into the Eye of Terror.

 

During the Intermission and the Scouring the Sons of Fulgrim withdrew to Chemos. There, the principal commanders of the Third Legion argued over their next course of action. First Captain Julius Kaesoron put forth that the III should add their forces to the Syndicate Chaotica as it was the best way to resist the Imperium. Lord Commander Eidolon argued that Chemos and the nearby star systems should be fortified extensively so they could protect their homeworld. Lord Commander Sakaeron of the Second Millennial stated that the Legion should withdraw to the Eye of Terror, such as the Black Legion and others had done, to rebuild and plan for the Long War. When met with resistance, Sakaeron publicly agreed to stay on Chemos and help defend his home, but privately planned something altogether different.

 

In an act that would earn him the moniker ‘the Deceiver,’ the future War Commander betrayed his brothers. Sakaeron, alongside his subordinates and like-minded officers, captured several dozen warships, including the Legion’s flagship, stole the majority of the Neophytes and Initiates training on Chemos and departed for the Eye. Eidolon swore vengeance for this betrayal while Kaesoron accepted it more readily.

 

Eventually, the Imperium’s retribution reached Chemos. The Imperial fleet, spearheaded by Warmaster Horus, broke through the III defence fleet, crippling many ships, though the majority were able to escape into the warp before their destruction. With the void secured, the Warmaster gave the Seventh Legion the honour to burn Chemos. The Phalanx, flagship of the Imperial Fists, launched the first wave of missiles bearing the Life-Eater Virus. It was also the warship that would fire a lance beam to ignite the combustible poison gas, incinerating all life on Fulgrim’s homeworld.

 

A lance cannon from the Phalanx fired onto the world of treachery below. The lance struck Callax, where the fortress-monastery of the Third Legion resided. The beam ignited the gaseous atmosphere, fire spreading like waves of retribution from the impact site. The virus-bombs did well, thought Horus Lupercal, very well.

 

With that shot, the rest of the Imperial fleet fired. Hundreds of lance bolts struck Chemos, burning its people, what few Astartes had chosen to remain, its architecture and its culture.

 

Good.

 

The world burned for hours, blackening its soil, and purging the taint from its air. Nothing would live there ever again. It seems the Phoenix will not rise from these ashes, he thought grimly. The Spirit’s captain strode to its master.

 

“My lord, orders?”

 

“Prepare the fleet to disembark.”

 

The captain saluted smartly and withdrew, barking orders.

 

The Warmaster strode across the bridge of the Vengeful Spirit as tech-adepts, bridge crew and servitors organised the fleet for warp transit. Behind him, the main doors hissed open. Four steps of boots thundered across the bridge.

 

“My sons,” he began, turning around. The Mournival stood before him dutifully. Horus’ smile became strained as he looked at them. The four that stood before him were not the four that were with him at Davin. Only two of them remained, the other two new inductees, brought in to fill dead men’s positions. He would miss them dearly, but the Imperium would endure, the blood of martyrs would support it for the millennia to come.

 

“How fares the Sixteenth?”

 

“Determined,” replied Horus Aximand, “Ready for the next campaign.”

 

“The Sons of Horus await your command, my lord primarch,” spoke Falkus Kibre.

“Good,” Horus turned to look at the stars.

 

“Where do we sail next?” asked Aximand.

 

“Chogoris.”

 

The Long War-
Following the Exterminatus of Chemos, the Sons of Fulgrim found themselves in the Eye of Terror a broken, defeated Legion. Attempts to unify the Legion ultimately failed and thus the Succession War began with every warlord hoping to unite the fractured Legion in his image. This continued for a century with the Sons of Fulgrim whittling down steadily. At the rate of attrition, any victor would rule but a hollow force.

 

As the Sons of Fulgrim continued to decimate themselves a greater threat emerged. The World Eaters, led by their Daemon Primarch, broke the fragile peace that had prevailed in the Eye and attacked the III. The favoured disciplined warriors of Khorne, with their Berserker brethren, led their elite Blood Pact alongside blood crazed hosts of mortal armies to war which saw entire warbands of the III become destroyed.

 

Apothecary Von Kalda hastened as he felt the thuds and booms of an orbital bombardment shake the ground. Even with six hundred metres of plasteel, adamantium, rockcrete, ceramite and natural rock separating his lab from the surface, he felt it as if he were standing on the surface.

 

His mortal assistants and fellow Apothecaries took what could not be left behind and burned the rest. Half a dozen legionnaires stood nearby on guard, weapons tightly gripped and stances betraying their unease. They knew this was no raid or minor attack by another Third Legion warband, no; this was a mission of annihilation being carried out by another Legion. The World Eaters had come and were clamouring for blood.

 

Von Kalda cursed. He had spent decades building and expanding his lab on Falzyer, one rumoured to rival Bile’s, wherever that madman was. Von Kalda had been part of the cabal of Apothecaries that had carried out experiments and modifications on Astartes gene-seed in the months before the primarch had ordered it to stop. Despite their father’s order the Apothecary Cabal continued to experiment in secret. During the Siege, many of their select group was killed but several survived and following the Phoenician’s death by the hand of the Emperor, continued their great work at unlocking and improving the genetic code of Astartes in the attempt to create a more perfect specimen.

 

Many Sons of Fulgrim didn’t understand and nearly every other rebel legionnaire did not either so Von Kalda and his compatriots kept their experiments secret. Yet, despite that, he had been betrayed. There was no other way the World Eaters would have known where his lab was located. Falzyer was a barren wasteland with no amount of resources to speak of. It was out of the way, unimportant. Yet the Twelfth Legion had come in force and knew exactly where his base was. They must be here for the Source. Frowning, he nodded his head. Yes, that must be it. The Butchers of Nuceria were here after the Source. The possibilities and dangers associated with that would cause anyone unease and considerable contemplation.

 

The ceiling stopped shaking, silence reigning momentarily. The bombardment stopped. Von Kalda inclined his head and four of the guards left to reinforce the surface. They would buy him time long enough for his Stormbird to be loaded. He had a warp-capable corvette not far from the planet, powered down and under strict vox-silence. Not even his fellow Apothecary assistants nor his legionnaires knew of it. To the two remaining legionnaires he gestured for them to follow. Both did, their weapons ready, helmets donned.

 

Von Kalda proceeded to the vault where the Source was kept. The vault doors were gene-locked and password protected but within minutes he had reached the final door. Cutting the palm of his hand with a surgeon’s blade he placed it on the cogitator bio-monitor.

 

“Scanning… scanning… scanning,” intoned the machine-spirit. “Identification confirmed. Welcome, Apothecary Von Kalda.” The thick doors began to hiss open. As the doors opened, thick white mist spilled out. Cold to the touch, he stepped forward into it. The air cleared and in the centre of the room stood the Source. A vial the length of an Astartes index finger lay there locked in place. Carefully removing it from its dais, he placed it inside a protective container.

 

The Source, Fulgrim’s blood, pure and undiluted, was a treasure. When the primarch had been brought back aboard the Pride of Chemos he was already dead and chaos began to ensue as the Sons began to hastily retreat, leaving their allies to fend for themselves. Von Kalda had put the vial in the primarch’s corpse and retrieved some of the blood. It was worth more than a squadron of battle-barges. The possibilities the vial held could spawn excellent, pure gene-seed to revive the Legion. He had yet to unlock its secrets but he knew he was close. His notes were on the data-pad he always carried with him.

 

A bolt shot rang out. Turning quickly he saw one of his guards’ bolt pistol smoking and the other crumpling to the ground. Blood and brain matter splattered across the pristine sterile chamber.

 

“What is the meaning of this!?” he demanded. “Are you the traitor?”

 

The legionnaire paused, looking at Von Kalda through emerald green eye-lenses. Laughter came barking from his vox-grille. “Traitor, Von Kalda? I betray no one because I am sworn to no one.”

 

The Astartes removed his helm and Von Kalda gasped.

 

Fabius Bile, bolt pistol still in hand, walked towards him. “I’ll take that,” the mad genius Apothecary said as he took the vial of blood. “This will come in quite handy.” Almost as an afterthought he retrieved the data-slate as well.

 

“So what, did you ally yourselves with the World Eaters? For what gain?”

 

“Ally? No, no, no, my dear Von Kalda. Angron has been planning this for years. It is fortunate for me that he chose this world to begin the Legion Wars. I alone could not get here through your security. But a primarch could. The Red Angel has proven an excellent distraction.”

 

Von Kalda’s mouth went dry. “Angron is here?”

 

“Oh yes. Even now, he will be cutting down your lackeys and followers on the surface. You will die today.”

 

“As will you. There is only one way out.” He gestured towards the door leading out of the lab.

 

“I will not be going that way. I have other means of escape.” A wicked smile of sharp teeth split the Apothecary Primus’ face. “But you don’t.” Bile raised his pistol and shot Von Kalda in both knee caps. He fell in pain, his legs ruined. Bile stepped out; pushing the close rune and the door began to shut.

“When you see the World Eaters, before they kill you, give them my thanks.”

 

Von Kalda roared in anger as the doors clanged shut.

 

The war that Angron started quickly spread throughout the Eye, with the Traitor Legions fighting one another, making temporary alliances, and quickly breaking them to forge new ones. None though openly helped the Sons of Fulgrim. They were outcasts, targets, perceived as craven for their retreat following the War Commander's death, and thus were hunted down like rabid dogs. Two centuries after the Slave Wars begun, the Sons of Fulgrim were a shadow of their former glory, their numbers hovering on the brink of extinction. There was no hope amongst the Phoenician’s sons, no goal other than to resist and survive for as long as possible.

 

This all changed with the arrival of Tyberius Sakaeron who proclaimed himself Heir of Fulgrim and the Second War Commander. Sakaeron was able to unite much of the Third Legion, rejuvenating it with his own legionnaires. Sakaeron, since his trickery over Chemos centuries ago, had found a new world for the Legion named Nallavonn on the edge of the Eye of Terror, and had raised a large and powerful force of Astartes. This was supplemented with a moderate sized though strong fleet.

 

With the majority of the Sons of Fulgrim united under his banner, Sakaeron won the Succession War, though many still refute his title and claim. Sakaeron was also able to wane down the Legion Wars significantly though they would never truly stop, as the fickle nature of Chaos demanded constant sacrifice and war that the Slave Wars provided. Sakaeron did not mind. The War Commander wanted the Legion Wars to continue in some form to keep his warriors battle-hardened in-between invasions of Imperial territory.

 

Since uniting the Sons of Fulgrim and impressing on them a semblance of structure and hierarchy reminiscent of the Legion as it was under the Phoenician, though with the addition of the advisory Tyberkenna in place, the War Commander has launched ten Vengeance Crusades against the Imperium. Each Crusade has reaped a heavy toll on the empire they had once forged, forcing untold amount of resources and manpower to be focused on the Iron Cage separating the Eye of Terror from the rest of the galaxy. As the 41st Millennium comes to a close, the Deceiver readies his vast fleets and armies for the Eleventh Vengeance Crusade. With the Imperium beset by so many threats, Sakaeron believes if he were to break through the Iron Cage centred on Cadia, then the innards of the Imperium would be open to conquest and he would be able to advance onto Terra itself. To assist in this dark endeavour, he has the support of a majority of the Chaos warbands, giving him numbers not seen since the Heresy. Further more, he had met and gained promises from all of the Daemon Primarchs, further increasing his prestige and the destructiveness of the upcoming Crusade.

 

On Terra, the Imperial Senate orders the reinforcement of the Eye of Terror Iron Cage, but with threats from the Tyranids, Necrons, Orks, Tau, rebels and heretics within the Imperium itself, the Dark Eldar and more, there is little that can be spared.

 

Combat Doctrine-
The combat doctrine of the Emperor’s Children and later the Sons of Fulgrim revolves around perfection in all forms of warfare. Each and every legionnaire is expected to operate a vehicle as well as they shoot a bolter. This is done so all legionnaires can adapt to any situation and be able to fill gaps in specialist positions if need be. This philosophy has helped ensure that even though the Sons of Fulgrim are not the most numerous of the Traitor Legions, they are one of the more coordinated and therefore dangerous, whether it be in company-size engagements or one-on-one combat.

 

Organisation-
During the Great Crusade the Legion encompassed thirty great companies called Millennials, each numbering thousands. After the Heresy, Scouring, Succession War and the Legion Wars the Sons of Fulgrim were brought to near-extinction before Sakaeron brought them back from the brink. Uniting the majority of Third Legion warbands with his own legionnaires that followed him into the Eye and the ones that he created, the War Commander now fields a powerful army.

 

Though the Third Legion is largely made up of those that bear the gene-seed of the First War Commander, not all are children of Fulgrim. A minor, yet loyal and dedicated proportion are made up of Astartes originating from other Legions, enlarged with more recent traitor Space Marines from the Adeptus Astartes. This formation is known as the Phertalien and adorns itself in Son of Fulgrim livery, minus the left shoulder-pad which is void-black to reflect their foreign heritage. They are nominally under the command of Merir Astelan, former Dark Angel and Calibanite Independent, now Force Commander of the Phertalien, the Hand of Sakaeron, and nicknamed the Vengeful Knight. The Phertalien are not segregated from the rest of the Legion as would be assumed, but are intermingled throughout all Millennials, making clear to all who fight under the Phoenix's banner that they are all brothers in the Long War, regardless of gene-seed origin.

 

Although the Emperor’s Children had a Librarius during the Great Crusade, it was quite small and only grew in miniscule steps during the renaming of the Legion and the wars that followed. Sakaeron’s Sons of Fulgrim, unlike its predecessor, have moderate numbers of Astartes battle-psykers though nearly half are not of the Phoenician’s bloodline. The Legion's Librarius is led by Lord Sorcerer Iskandar Khayon, known as the Eye of Sakaeron.

Though the Legion is officially Chaos Undivided, there are Sects for each Chaos God, with the Sect of Slaanesh being the largest.

 

Recruitment-
Once their primarch had been discovered, the Third Legion recruited solely from Chemos, recruiting only the very best and brightest. Since the destruction of their homeworld during the Scouring, the Third Legion principally recruits from Nallavonn's slave population. Although the Legion recruits heavily from its new homeworld, it is not a single source. Slaves taken in war against fellow traitors, as well as from the multitude of raids and crusades into the Imperium allow the Sons of Fulgrim a rich selection to choose from.

 

Homeworld-
After the Imperium’s Exterminatus of Chemos during the Great Scouring, the Sons of Fulgrim were broken and scattered. It was in this state that they experienced first the Succession War, then the wider Legion Wars. Dozens of worlds within the Eye of Terror were major bases of the Third Legion, but the III lacked a homeworld. That was until Sakaeron united the III through concluding the Succession War and lessening the Legion Wars. This respite allowed Sakaeron to orchestrate and launch the First Vengeance Crusade in late M31.

 

Since Sakaeron’s reunification of the Third Legion, the new homeworld of the Sons of Fulgrim became the resource-rich world of Nallavonn, base of operations of Sakaeron’s since the end of the Heresy. The world is located on the outer edge of the Eye, and therefore has relatively little warp corruption compared to most worlds within the Great Storm, allowing the world’s servile population to continuously spawn healthy genetic subjects. From these children the Sons of Fulgrim choose their future warriors.

 

Beliefs-
Though their father failed in his Heresy, the Third Legion still hold some measure of respect for him. They continue to believe his philosophy of forever pursing perfection. Despite their respect, his sons do acknowledge their father’s failures and strive to avoid them. When Fulgrim died without an appointed or even clear successor the Legion was quick to fracture in the ensuing years, culminating in the bloody Succession War.

 

With Sakaeron’s assumption of power, a cult of personality has developed around him. Calling himself the Heir of Fulgrim and the Second War Commander, Sakaeron has established himself as the only true successor to the Phoenician. While the Third Legion is still called the Sons of Fulgrim, many know who the true master of them is and forever will be.

 

Despite having a strong following amongst his legionnaires and the absolute loyalty of many, as well as the blessing of the Dark Gods, there were some millennia ago who tried to assassinate Sakaeron. The War Commander survived the attempt, and in the ensuing purge called the Harrowing, the Heir solidified his position and none have opposed him on such a scale since.

 

Gene-seed-
The gene-seed of the Third Legion was once acclaimed for its purity but ten thousand years of Chaos influence has degraded the gene-seed, causing several organs to fail or not work correctly in some Aspirants or working at a reduced capacity. While their degradation of the gene-seed is acknowledged the Sons of Fulgrim gene-seed does remain stable and effective, if not completely pure.

 

Battlecry-
The original battlecry of the Third Legion when they still fought for the Emperor had been, "Children of the Emperor, death to His foes!" but this changed during the Heresy to, "For the Phoenician!" Since the primarch's death and Sakaeron's rise to power, principal battlecries are, “For Sakaeron!”, “For the War Commander!”, and “For Chaos!"


Edited by Tanner151, 22 October 2017 - 04:02 AM.

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War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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  • Faction: Sons of Fulgrim

Loyalist Legions:

Dark Angels

Iron Warriors (defended Terra during the Siege)

Space Wolves

Imperial Fists (defended Terra during the Siege)

Blood Angels

Ultramarines

Death Guard

Sons of Horus (defended Terra during the Siege

Salamanders

Raven Guard (defended Terra during the Siege)

 

Traitor Legions:

Emperor's Children/Sons of Fulgrim (Chaos Undivided)

White Scars (Slaanesh)

Night Lords (Chaos Undivided)

Iron Hands (Chaos Undivided)

World Eaters (Khorne)

Thousand Sons (Tzeentch)

Word Bearers (Chaos Undivided)

Alpha Legion (Chaos Undivided)

 

Traitor Space Marine Auxilia:

Calibanite Independents (traitor Dark Angels/Chaos Undivided)

Black Legion (traitor Death Guard/Nurgle)

Chainsworn (traitor Raven Guard/Chaos Undivided)

 

More will be updated periodically until all of what has been written is uploaded onto B&C. 


Edited by Tanner151, 22 October 2017 - 04:03 AM.

War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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  • Faction: Sons of Fulgrim

Iron Warriors – An Imperium of Iron

 

“The Iron Warriors hold the line when no others can. The scions of Perturabo have for millennia protected the borders of the Imperium from xenos, rebels, heretics and worse. From the opening act of the Fulgrimian Heresy to its fiery end, the Iron Warriors held steadfast to the Emperor’s dream. Though His Most Holy Majesty no longer walks among us, His Astartes continue to do so and all feel safer knowing that the Iron Warriors and their Successor Chapters roam the stars and guard the gateways that lead from Hell itself.”

 

-History of the Imperium, Adeptus Astartes, Volume XXVII

 

Origins-
Throughout the Imperium of the 41st Millennium, few worlds are as well defended as Olympia. Home of the Iron Warriors Chapter, and centre of a vast military industry, Olympia churns out weapons, vehicles, and warships for the hallowed Space Marine Chapter. The world is a beacon of unity and order in an ever-growing galaxy of chaos and war, an exemplary example to all within the Emperor’s Realm.

 

But it was not always so.

 

The world that would become legend was once locked in war, forever unchanging due to the dangerous and difficult to navigate mountainous geography. It was upon this politically and militarily fractured planet that the Fourth Primarch landed upon.

 

Many accounts of the primarch’s discovery and early years has been lost to history, but several reports have survived and been maintained by the Chapter. These detail that when the primarch fell to Olympia, he spent many months in outlying settlements, learning language and human interaction. The local ruler, bearing the title of Tyrant, dispatched hundreds of soldiers to find the young boy. The boy-primarch, having tired of being chased, climbed the domineering mountain peaks of the city-state of Lochos, daring to face his pursuers head on. At the peak of the tallest mountain, the primarch announced himself as Perturabo and demanded an audience with the Tyrant, which was quickly given.

 

It was here that the Tyrant Dammekos, impressed with the demigod’s intelligence and fortitude, offered a position to Perturabo in the Tyrant’s own court. Perturabo would be his foster son and learn the ways of war, science, culture and politics. He would only have to swear loyalty and service to Dammekos, which the Fourth Primarch did after only the slightest of hesitations. In this environment, gifted with the highest of patronage on Olympia, Perturabo quickly absorbed knowledge across all fields, particularly in military and technological areas of interest. From the mind of Dammekos’ foster son came new innovations in weaponry and industry, new and improved tactics, and peerless application and execution of military campaigns. Within only a few years Perturabo had become the premier general of the Tyrant’s armies, bearing the title of Lord of Iron, bequeathed upon him by the Tyrant, and began the conquest of Olympia.

 

For centuries Olympia had been locked in a stalemated global war. Frontlines would change with minuscule difference. The city-states themselves rarely experienced war, much less witnessed it. This all changed with the primarch’s arrival. Wherever the Lochosian general marched, city-states trembled in fear. When Perturabo would approach a city or fortress he would give the defenders a single chance to surrender, swearing that no harm would come to the defendants, but if they refused him then they would suffer his wrath. Many bowed before him, choosing life over certain death. What few resisted, either led by madmen or fools, was taken by force, leaving tens of thousands of defenders slaughtered without mercy.

 

At the end of his multi-year campaign, upon the conclusion of the final siege against the last remaining rival fortress-city, news reached the Lord of Iron that a coup had occurred in Lochos and that Dammekos lay murdered, slain by his advisors, advisors who had long been envious of Perturabo’s favoured position in their government and his continuous military successes. Though the Lord of Iron and the Tyrant were never quite cordial between one another, there was indeed a sense of respect or at least an understanding. It was unspoken, but known by all that Perturabo was to be Dammekos’ heir, and with the Tyrant’s health declining, many saw Perturabo’s ascension to sole absolute leader of Olympia as inevitable. The many nobles that trailed in Perturabo’s shadow were afraid of what would happen to their lofty positions when Perturabo came to power. While Dammekos turned a blind eye to all but the most blatant corruption and greed within his government, Perturabo would not allow such deeds to go unmonitored or unpunished.

 

Perturabo gathered his well-trained, disciplined army and marched to Lochos. The rebel nobles had hoped that the primarch would be unable to break through the stout fortifications of their city, ignoring the fact that the defences of the city-state had been reinforced and expanded by Perturabo himself shortly before departing for conquest and that he knew them better than any other. As the Lord of Iron approached the city, he prepared detailed plans to quickly storm the city and reclaim it. Fortunately for the common citizens of Lochos he did not have to enable such plans. As the armies approached the city, the defending garrison, many of whom were unwilling participants in the coup, threw down their arms and opened the gates for Perturabo and his soldiers. The rebel nobles, cornered and afraid, pleaded to be granted mercy. Perturabo gave none.

 

“Mercy, my lord, please have mercy,” begged the noble, whose silk robes were soaked with sickly sweat and foul urine.

 

Perturabo stood above him, weapon in hand. His sword dripped thickly with the blood of those that had been killed by it since he arrived to the Tyrant’s Palace. Some were blindly loyal soldiers and bodyguards to the inept rebel nobility, but the vast majority were the aristocrats themselves. They had hunkered in the Great Hall, hoping that he would be merciful. He was, after a fashion. They were dying quickly.

 

The ringleader of the coup quivered below him. A rank stench emitted from him, a mixture of fear, sweat and human waste.

 

“Mercy?” he said quietly, his rage only under control through strict discipline. He raised his sword. “This is my mercy.” The sword decapitated the noble, the head spinning in the air only to thud against a column and came to lay beside the corpses of his fellow conspirators.

 

Perturabo trudged up the steps leading to the Tyrant’s Throne. He almost sat in it but did not. He had seen Dammekos sit here, a wise man in many ways but still weak, a man who put himself before others, before his own city-state. Thrones similar to this had resided in every city-state, all torn down by him when they either surrendered or were conquered. He would not be a second Dammekos, he would not be just another tyrant to the people, his people. Instead, reaching with both hands, he grasped the finely woven throne of office and heaved, breaking it from its foundation and heaved it to the side where it broke against the stone wall, chips of stone falling to the ground.

 

Gasps came from behind. Turning slowly, he saw his officers and bodyguards standing amidst the carnage. The deaths did not faze them; they had known what their lord and general would do. But to topple the Tyrant’s Throne, a symbol of government that had stood for centuries, if not millennia, was a shock to them.

 

“I have inherited the power and responsibility of Tyrant from my father. I have earned the loyalty and respect of the army through my campaigning. I have created many wonders to better the lives of the people. I am no Tyrant. No, I am your king, the Iron King of Olympia. And I bring you a golden age.”

 

All present knelt before their new monarch.

 

With the principal coup leaders now dead, Perturabo created a new title to distance itself with the negativity surrounding the word of Tyrant and declared himself the Iron King of Olympia. The first act of the Iron King was that he removed the old Lochos Garrison’s command structure, replacing it with one more loyal to him. As for a lesson to all who might become rebel on his world, he took the parents and firstborn son or daughter of every noble family that betrayed him and executed them personally on the steps of the Hall of Justice, showing that any betrayal would be met harshly and unflinchingly. While this did subdue the surviving rebels into compliance, it would lay the seeds of anger and usurpation that would sprout in the beginning of the Great Heresy many years later.

 

Months after Perturabo’s reclamation of Lochos and establishment of him as king, the Emperor arrived to Olympia with a vast fleet of a thousand warships. As Olympia’s impressive assembly of weapons turned to the sky, aiming at the ships that began to pierce the atmosphere, they were all ordered to stand down. Perturabo felt a psychic pulse coming from the fleet, something familiar that compelled him to not unleash a barrage. Thus, the Emperor’s dropship landed in front of the newly renamed Grand Palace and father met son.

 

Upon their first meeting, Perturabo knew the imposing being before him to be his true father and kneeled in subservience. While he pledged his loyalty to the Emperor, Perturabo was not fully convinced the Emperor’s methods were the most effective. To rectify this and to prepare him for command of a Space Marine Legion, the Emperor had Perturabo accompany Him back to Terra to convince the newly found primarch of His intentions with the Imperium.

 

There, on the Cradle of Mankind, the Fourth Primarch met the Fifteenth Primarch: Magnus the Red. Both primarchs, acknowledging their interest in history and desire for progression of the human race, accompanied each other for much of Perturabo’s time on the Throneworld. Despite the Iron King focusing on technological progression and the Crimson King focusing on the psychic and spiritual, both became friends and close confidants. The two primarchs’ months together would be a bright moment of remembrance for them from a better time.

 

Eventually, the needs of the Great Crusade grew too great and Magnus was called away to lead his Thousand Sons into war. While Perturabo was saddened to see his Prosperian brother go, he was pleased to know that another had arrived. Horus Lupercal, First Found and a fellow warrior, arrived to Terra to meet his newest sibling. The two befriended each other quickly and spent many weeks discussing military strategy and the future of the Imperium. It was during this time with his brothers that Perturabo became convinced that the Imperium was for the betterment of Mankind. Perturabo knew both Magnus and Horus were favoured sons of the Emperor and knew they reflected His ideals. While Magnus showed that cultural and philosophical advancement were prized, Horus instead showed that only the strong and competent would rule, allowing the Imperium to endure and prosper. Due to the time spent on Terra and with his brothers Perturabo became convinced of the good intentions of the Emperor and realised that in a galaxy such as they lived in that the Imperium was the best hope for Mankind to not only endure but also to dominate all before it. The Lord of Olympia came to the conclusion that the Emperor was no dictator or demagogue like those he had seen on his homeworld and was worthy of loyalty.

 

At the end of Perturabo’s time on humanity's homeworld, the Lord of Iron was finally presented with his Legion. Assembling before him in full strength, the Fourth Legion awaited review by their primogenitor. What Perturabo saw before him were disappointments in his harsh analytical eye. The IV had proven adept so far in the Emperor’s dream of Unity throughout the galaxy, yet the poorly-executed Liberation of Incaladion weighed heavily upon Perturabo’s new sons. The campaign had left scars upon the psyche of the IV, scars that threatened to remain if not dealt with. Perturabo, after a thorough review of the Legion’s history, combat records and doctrines decided that the IV was wanting. To rectify this, Perturabo stated there would a campaign that would “purge the impurities within our ranks, leaving only the strongest.”

 

The campaign was to be against an alien species in the Meratara Cluster, self-styled the Black Judges. Here the Fourth Legion would redeem themselves for their past failures and prove themselves worthy to their father. The Meratara Cluster Campaign would last for a year and was notable for how brutal and wide-spread in destructiveness it was. The Fourth Legion, relentless in their pursuit of the xenos, had by campaign’s end laid waste to an interstellar empire, with billions of humans freed from xenos enslavement. The Fourth’s losses were heavy, over ten percent of the then seventy thousand Astartes had died in the war, but the Lord of Iron was pleased and impressed with those that carried his gene-seed.

 

“Through strife and warfare we have purified the Legion. No longer chained to failure and doubt, we have freed our bodies and our minds. We are more than paragons of the Emperor’s dream of Unity; we are its creators and defenders. We are the soldiers and guardians that will forever protect the Imperium from threats abroad. At the beginning of this campaign, you knelt before me as legionnaires of the Fourth Legion, nameless and unsure. Now, you will rise before me as dutiful sons, ready to cast down any foe and forever do what must be done. Rise, my sons. Rise, my Iron Warriors.”

 

-Perturabo’s renaming of the Fourth Legion following their victory in the Meratara Cluster Campaign.

 

Thusly renamed the newly christened Iron Warriors returned to the wider Great Crusade as soldiers of conquest and breakers of empire.

 

Great Crusade-
During the Great Crusade, the Iron Warriors were called upon time after time to break through enemy strongholds with artillery and mass assault, tear down enemy empires with firm persistence, and defend against waves of enemies with flawless determination, and establish justice and order to a galaxy marred in bloodshed and chaos. Perturabo and his Legion gained a reputation as highly proficient siege-masters and known to be effective occupying newly compliant worlds with seditious populations.

 

As the Great Crusade neared its 150th anniversary, the Emperor and his sons met to discuss the next phase of the Crusade. While future operations and offensives were discussed and planned, the most heated debate was of garrisoning. The Imperium had expanded and conquered faster than any had predicted, possibly even faster than the Emperor Himself had, but the Emperor and His sons agreed they could not curtail operations nor temporarily halt the Crusade. They all agreed that the Crusade must continue for Imperial morale, for momentum and to find the remaining missing primarchs. There were difficulties in continuing at the current pace, namely that the Legiones Astartes were being spread too thinly as each Legion was having to delegate more and more of their legionnaires to garrison key worlds and vital supply depots, limiting the available Astartes manpower for Expeditionary Fleets and compliance actions.

 

Many solutions were quickly recommended and just as swiftly discarded. As the argument between the primarchs escalated, Perturabo stepped forward and proposed a solution. The Fourth Primarch, frustrated by his brothers’ arguments did what he knew had to be done for the betterment of the Imperium. The Iron King volunteered his own Legion to be the dominant occupying force on the Imperium’s newly compliant worlds. The Emperor agreed and the council was concluded. Several primarchs thought Perturabo’s decision wise and honourable, though some such as Fulgrim and Mortarion thought the duty beneath a primarch. Those that lauded him on his decision were Guilliman, Angron, Lorgar, Horus, Sanguinius, and to the surprise of all, Dorn.

 

The Primarch of the Imperial Fists had a very competitive and somewhat icy relationship with Perturabo, both trying to outdo the other for decades. Dorn thought Perturabo dour and bitter while the Lord of Iron thought Dorn glory-seeking and arrogant. Despite these opinions of the other, both primarchs acknowledged the skills and strengths of the other, openly respecting them and throughout the Great Crusade the two played off their strengths for the advancement of the Imperium. But it was during the council over planetary garrisons and Perturabo’s decision to bear such a burden willingly that Dorn came to realise how selfish both had been, particularly he. The Primarch of the Seventh Legion publically apologised to Perturabo in front of their brothers and father about his actions and demeanour towards Perturabo and the entirety of the Fourth Legion.

 

Stunned for but a moment, Perturabo accepted the apology and gave one himself. Dorn then surprised his brother again by offering that a third of the worlds that the Fourth Legion would garrison could instead be garrisoned by the Seventh Legion to free up enough Astartes and ships for the Iron Warriors to continue campaigning on a large-scale, albeit in a somewhat limited capacity. Perturabo accepted and the two primarchs embraced for the first time and their friendship born.

 

Such was the regard between the two brothers that when the Emperor asked Dorn and his Fists to return with Him to Terra to fortify the Throneworld the new Praetorian asked Perturabo for a liaison from the IV to assist with designs and fortification but more importantly to provide a critical eye and an unbiased opinion. It would offer a fresh set of eyes, experienced in their craft, to help make the Palace ever more formidable. The Lord of Iron chose one of his favoured sons, Warsmith Barabas Dantioch, to be the liaison officer between the Fourth and Seventh Legions. Dantioch would depart with Dorn for Terra with his battalion.  Not only would Dorn arrive to Terra with Iron Warriors to assist, he arrived with a symbol of office created personally by Perturabo, a weapon of lethality and presence: the Praetorian Sword.

 

In the final years of the Great Crusade the Fourth Legion had successfully garrisoned and integrated many hundreds of worlds into the Imperial fold, freeing up significant amounts of Space Marines for compliance actions, allowing more and more legionnaires to return to the frontlines. With the Lord of Iron at all times during the Crusade were thirty thousand Iron Warriors, a sixth of their Legion, while the remainder were campaigning elsewhere with Expeditionary Fleets or garrisoning worlds still proving troublesome.

 

When word reached the Iron King of Horus’ wounding on Davin and quick dispatch to Terra, Perturabo feared the worst and made way to the Throneworld to oversee his brother’s fate. Leaving a third of his fleet under the command of Warsmith Harkor, one of his advisory Triarchs, to continue prosecuting a campaign in progress, the Lord of Iron brought with him an honour guard twenty thousand strong. The Fourth Son arrived to Terra several months behind schedule due to increasingly difficult warp currents and devastatingly sporadic warp storms. Before his journey to the Sol System all was well in the Imperium, but when he emerged from the Immaterium the reality he faced angered him to the core.

 

Terra had been psychically assaulted by Magnus, wiping out the Astropathic Choir, causing communications with the rest of the Imperium to become tenuous. Millions had died in their sleep due to intense psychic backlash. Not only had the warrant for the Crimson King’s arrest been given to the Space Wolves, but an Imperial Armada led by Sanguinius had been assembled and sent after Konrad Curze who had finally gone too far in his butchery, going rogue and murdering billions of Imperial innocents.

 

Perturabo met with his brother Horus, relieved to see him alive, though the Warmaster was quite weak. The two primarchs, alongside Mortarion and Dorn, spent days in council, discussing the repercussions that would follow Magnus’ and Curze’s actions. As the four primarchs continued their discussions, the impending outcome was becoming all too real that one Legion, likely two, would be removed from Imperial records and two more plinths in the Investiary would become empty. With the Emperor secluded and rarely communicative, the four primarchs agreed to ready Terra for whatever might come. Mortarion and the thousand Astartes he brought with him would scour the Throneworld, assisted by Sisters of Silence, hunting down psykers that had gone mad by the Crimson King’s actions. Dorn would expedite the fortification of the Palace, as well as preparing Terra and much of the rest of the Sol System itself for any possibility that might come to pass.

 

A month would pass after Perturabo’s arrival when grim news reached the Throneworld. The Space Wolves had attacked Prospero without authorisation, razing it to the ground. Though little could be communicated with the Wolf King, Russ did report that Magnus and thousands of his sons had escaped extermination, fleeing to deep space. Russ stated that the Sixth Legion would follow and finish what they had started. On the heels of this came even more dire news: Fulgrim, in conjunction with several of his primarch brothers, had betrayed the Imperium, purging their Legions on Bellanor whilst also massacring the Death Guard, Salamanders and Blood Angels. Further news of Fulgrim being named War Commander of the Traitor Legions spread like wildfire across the galaxy. As the Imperium found itself in a civil war, astropathic communiques from Olympia reached the Fourth Primarch of a rebellion on his homeworld. A rebellion led by the descendants of the rebel nobles from the first rebellion and, more disturbingly, by Iron Warriors themselves.

 

The Heresy-
While Fulgrim’s treachery spread its cancerous tendrils throughout the Imperium, Perturabo swore an oath to the Emperor and brothers on Terra that he would delay the traitors. He and his sons would stall their advance long enough to allow the Imperial Fists to strengthen the Sol System’s defences sufficiently. Before his departure the Lord of Iron detailed fifteen thousand Astartes to remain behind for other duties. Five thousand under Warsmith Dantioch would remain on Terra to help the Imperial Fists in their fortification of the Throneworld and elsewhere if need be. Ten thousand Iron Warriors under the command of Warsmith Erasmus Golg, another of Perturabo’s Triarchs, were sent to accompany the Imperial Fists to Mars to purge the Red Planet of those that dared turned their back on the Emperor. The Schism of Mars would last the entirety of the Heresy and would see much of the Martian surface become razed by large-scale warfare. With these welcome additions to Imperial forces in the Sol System, Perturabo departed quickly for Olympia to quell the rebellion on his homeworld.

 

By the time Perturabo entered the Olympian System the rebellion had been contained by the loyal Iron Warrior garrison. Contained but not defeated. The primarch descended to the surface to take direct command. Lochos, his capital city and city where he had been raised, was held by a large rebel army numbering over a million plus fifty Iron Warriors that spat on their oaths of loyalty and duty. Cold fury would drive the Lord of Iron to declare the he would defeat the rebels and kill all his wayward sons, only after they confessed as to why they had betrayed him.

 

In one of the rare occurrences throughout the Iron Warriors history, there was to be no attempt at peace or reciprocity before battle was met, no attempt in allowing the enemy to surrender. The Siege of Lochos lasted only a single day as it was thousands of Iron Warriors with several million Imperial Army soldiers in support versus the rebel forces. When the walls of Lochos finally crumbled under the unending artillery fire and aerial bombings the Iron Warriors, led by their gene-sire, surged through, killing all that stood in their way. Within hours the entirety of the city had surrendered except the Grand Palace, defended by the traitor legionnaires. Perturabo and his honour guard broke through the defences and quickly eliminated the traitor Space Marines. But the dead legionnaires before him were no sons of Perturabo as gene-testing would prove. The dead traitors were not Iron Warriors at all, but rather Alpha Legion Astartes, infiltrators that had nurtured the traitorous thoughts of the nobles from the first rebellion.

 

He looked on with disgust. The bodies that lay before him wore the armour that was of his sons, but the bodies were of a brother’s sons.

 

“Alpharius.” The name dripped with hate and anger. Clenching his jaw, Perturabo studied the infiltrators. They had been too few in number and their rebellion was a failure from the start, what with so many IV legionnaires already on Olympia.

 

Why draw him here? He had planned to rendezvous with Harkor and from there journey to the Seidwin Worlds where the Sons of Fulgrim were making their presence known. But now he was here and contact with Harkor’s fleet was lost.

 

Walking from the battle-scarred chamber he strode towards his private sanctum, his honour guard following obediently. As he walked, his mind calculated probability and strategies to come.

 

He would recall as many legionnaires as he could. Olympia had the supplies necessary to restock any who would hear the call. From here he could strike quickly at a dozen traitor fleets, and half a hundred worlds. Cadallia and Zenfur would need to be reinforced; they lay in the path of one of the main traitor armadas. Dirgo Prime and Aalana were important as well; both worlds had enough fuel to field a hundred Imperial Army divisions for a year. Secure the fuel if possible, if not, then deny them to the enemy.

 

Even with the Dropsite Massacre at Bellanor, the traitors were still outnumbered in every field. If significant traitorous elements of the Army could be made ineffective or immobilised that would force the rebel Astartes to…

 

He stopped in the middle of the corridor, eyes scanning his surroundings. Something was wrong. His honour guard stopped with him, having him centred in a protective ring.

 

“My lord, what is it?” asked the captain of the guard.

 

The hallway was deep in the war-torn Grand Palace, dozens of scribes and Palace servants scurried to and fro, hurrying to accomplish their varying tasks.

 

“My lord?”

 

“Treachery,” Perturabo muttered.

 

As if his word had been the signal, over half of the scribes and servants lifted their robes to reveal black body-armour, pistols and compact blades. They twenty or so assailants rushed Perturabo and his ten legionnaires.

 

“Assassins! Iron Warriors, protect the primarch!” yelled the captain. Bolters were raised, chainswords revved and the two forces converged.

At a glance, the human assassins stood little chance for they were merely human and not transhuman like Astartes. But these were no normal men; the Iron King could see that. They moved like vipers, dodging bolter fire, using reactions heightened by gene-enhancements and years of brutal training regimes. Perturabo recognised the signs: agents of the Officio Assassinorum.

 

Astartes fought Assassins, both dying. Five Assassins broke through the circle of legionnaires, jumping over a legionnaire corpse. Perturabo drew his bolt pistol, firing two bolts at a larger Assassin, clearly of the Eversor Clade due to his size and drug-filled blood-crazed look in his eyes. The Assassin fell, his brain having taken a bolt shot in it and exploded, showering his comrades in grey and red gore.

 

The others were too close and Perturabo dropped the pistol, drawing sword and met the four that charged him. The Lord of Iron’s analytical eye took in every detail before their blades met. Two more were Eversor brutes. One, bearing a face that shimmered as it fluctuated like rippled water, marked her as a Callidus, whilst the final was hard to register. She rushed him, eyes blank, face calm, and he felt unease as if she wasn’t there. A Culexus, then.

 

Meeting them, Perturabo struck an Eversor in the neck, nearly decapitating him, his head hanging on by centimetres of flesh and tendon. The Callidus jumped at him. Dodging, he backhanded the changer, caving in her skull. The other Eversor swung a heavy axe, cutting into Perturabo’s armour, nicking flesh and blood began to drip onto the marble floor. Raising his wrist-mounted bolter, the Lord of Iron unleashed fury against the Assassin, shredding the bulking brute to bloodied meat and broken bone. The last Assassin, the pariah, moved quickly whilst Perturabo pulled the Eversor’s bloodied axe from his chest.

 

Pain almost blinded him, the blood leaking from his armour coloured black.

 

Poison, he thought. His body began to go numb, paralysed as the poison spread and his Emperor-forged body combated it, slowing his movements. The pariah raised her own sword, blade undoubtedly coated with more poison.

 

Perturabo trembled. Not with fear or taut nerves, but with rage. He roared as he forced his body to move, forced his tightening muscles to obey. It seemed slow to him, at first. But then, everything moved slowly. The Assassin’s blade fell glacially, but was closing.

 

I will not die. I will NOT! Fury overrode poison and his gauntleted fist surged forward and clutched the pariah’s throat. Squeezing, he felt her throat constricting, air being cut off. Her eyes continued to meet his, unwavering as her face began to darken.

 

“Tell me, who is your master, Assassin?” he rasped. His body was burning, purging itself of the poison. He would be in pain for some time but pain could be ignored.

 

The pariah continued to stare at him.

 

“Who? He demanded. It could not have been the Grand Master of the Assassins, the man, whoever he was, was utterly loyal to the Emperor. When word reached Terra of the Dropsite Massacre whispers in Palace hinted that hundreds of Assassins had been dispatched to stiffen Imperial support in some sectors, while in others eliminating traitor sympathisers.

 

The Assassin stared at him, a smile touching her purple-black lips. “Hail Fulgrim, the True Emperor of Mankind.”

 

In a fit of rage he ripped her head from its socket, spine pulled out with the head. Annoyed, he threw it down, and looked around him. Seven of his ten were dead; the other three were wounded and stood around him protectively. The sound of armoured boots echoed as entire platoons came to the aid of their primogenitor.

 

Perturabo looked at them, and glanced at the wound on his chest. The bleeding had stopped; the wound was already healing, the poison having been beaten and purged. Turning to continue towards his sanctum, he spoke over the vox.

 

“This is the Iron King,” he began. “I want all captains and warsmiths to the Primary Briefing Chamber in one hour. Lieutenants and sergeants lead your units and do a sweep by sweep of the entire city, leave no stone unturned. Beware; the Arch-Traitor has Assassinorum allies. If found, attempt to capture. If unable, kill them all. I want Orbital Command to…”

 

His temporary bodyguard, numbering hundreds, escorted him all the while he distributed orders.

 

Following the pacification of the rebellion and surviving an assassination attempt, Perturabo ordered all that had partook to be executed, including the entirety of the rebel nobles extended families, ranging from eldest patriarch to youngest grandchild. The trials and executions would go on for months. Lochos lay in ruins and the Iron King ordered what was left to be demolished and for a new city to be rebuilt. With Olympia secured Perturabo began to recall as much of his Legion that he could, unwilling to pull any from garrison forces as they would be vital in maintaining loyalty to Terra on those worlds where the Imperium was often seen as the oppressor, as well as keeping supply lines open for the loyalists.

 

The primarch ordered all available Fourth Legion fleets via astropathic messaging to return to Olympia to add their contingents with the military might assembling there, creating a mobile and powerful armada to take the war to the Arch-Traitor. Not long after the message had been sent, a substantial fleet of Iron Warriors arrived to Olympia, the same fleet Perturabo departed from all those months ago when he left for Terra but now was battle damaged and fewer in number. Rather than being led by Harkor it was instead led by the warsmith’s battalion second-in-command Captain Kroeger.

 

Kroeger informed the Iron King that shortly after his departure the fleet became trapped in a warp storm. Stranded in a remote star system named Sorkar for months, the fleet was assaulted by the Alpha Legion when the warp storm surrounding them began to weaken. For an entire day the two fleets fought until Harkor was killed, alongside a strike team, in an attempt to kill the Twentieth Primarch aboard his flagship the Alpha. It failed, and with it the Iron Warriors under Kroeger withdrew from the star system and made towards Olympia to regroup and rearm, their departing numbers just under half of what they once were.

 

Perturabo processed the information, unsurprised, and began to issue orders for the Legion. Though the Iron Warriors had suffered setbacks and heavy casualties early on in the Heresy, it would not daunt them nor make their determination waver. For months the Fourth Primarch remained on Olympia, gathering a significant percentage of his Legion. When Perturabo left Olympia he split his armada into dozens of large fleets that would attack the weakened flanks of the traitors, cutting off supply lines and deploying Iron Warriors on scores of worlds that lay in the path of the Arch-Traitor and his cohorts’ offensives. Though many of these planetary deployments resulted in the total elimination of the Astartes sent, whether it was several squads, a couple of platoons, or even a full battalion, they nevertheless made the Traitor Legions pay the butcher’s bill to claim victory. On Terra, Dorn and Horus estimated that Perturabo had slowed down the traitors so significantly that Terra would have an extra year, possibly even two, to become ready.

 

While his Legion bled the War Commander and his cohorts, Perturabo himself moved from theatre to theatre, leading his legionnaires to victory where first there was none, to evacuating military assets out of warzones where they would have died needlessly. Perturabo even evacuated several Forge Worlds of the Martian Mechanicum, allowing the tech-priests to take with them all valuable technology they could fill their cargo holds with. Following these evacuations, the worlds’ industries would be crippled to make them all but useless to the War Commander for years. Though Mars did not like what the Iron Warriors did to those worlds, all agreed it was better to evacuate and cripple rather than leave them productive for the traitors to take advantage of and violate with their vile tech-heresies.

 

The silence on the Iron Blood's bridge was palpable. Machines beeped, whirred and purred, but the mortals, Astartes and tech-adepts were silent. All stared out the view-screen, watching in horror as the White Scars fleet they had been chasing disappeared in the warp storm before them. It was a massive storm; such was its turbulence that it was visible in real-space. Larger than any other discovered and catalogued, possibly as large as all put together.

 

“The Great Storm,” the bridge crew whispered. Perturabo looked at it, feeling… not fear, but unease. It was the storm, the one that had haunted him his entire life. From it he could hear whispers. Indiscernible, but they produced images in his head, changing faster and faster.

 

‘His body lay crumpled at the base of the Eternity Gate, his sons hauling his body as Sanguinius’ mouth dripped his life’s blood. His angelic brother looked disease, dying, wings shorn of white and black feathers, leaving bare muscle and bone…’

 

Pain, it heralded the change.

 

‘He oversaw his sons dragging corpses by the thousands to large funeral pyres, guilt filling him and shame. He pushed the thoughts aside. His father would not forgive him for such needless slaughter. He was no better than Curze.

 

A messenger from his brother stood behind him. Turning, he looked at the Son of Horus and he knew that if he agreed to Horus’ proposal his name would forever be blackened in history, but his brother had forgiven him…’

 

Pain.

 

‘The Imperial Fists were descending to their doom, of that he had made sure. Surface to air cannons rose, missiles prepped, Astartes readied to avenge the failure of the Siege. The Fists were walking right into his trap, their cage of death and iron…’

 

Pain.

 

‘The world was bone-white, as was the sky, the black sun blazed overhead as his sons and the slaves continued to build his fortress, no matter how many millions died in the construction…’

 

Pain almost overrode him but he quelled it, ignoring the whispers, crushing them beneath his will. The pain eventually eroded, and then left. Looking at the Great Storm he walked towards the bridge’s primary navigation cogitator and spoke.

 

“We will not follow the Khan. Whatever he does there, he does in a miasma of madness and chaos. We are needed elsewhere.” The tension in the bridge faded some, obvious relief flooding the crew while his legionnaires stood there, accepting the order without question.

 

The storm before him was not normal, as so far storms such as this were considered normal. Leaning downwards to press the rune-keys he thought of what to name it. Great Storm simply lacked the horridness and dread that emitted from it, such that others, lacking his strange link to it, felt. After a moment’s consideration, he typed the new name for the storm, a name that all would know. It would cause fear, but acknowledging that fear was the first step in conquering it. He looked at the name for a moment before he hit the confirmation rune. Stepping from the console, he looked at the Eye of Terror, defiant and resilient against its temptations.

 

After years of slowing down the Traitor Legions, Perturabo reunited the bulk of his Legion and made way to the Throneworld. The traitors were on their way to Terra, the Heavy Worlds Campaign showcasing how close they were becoming, and the Iron King had done all he could to stall their advances. Arriving to Terra with over a hundred thousand Astartes, the Iron Warriors helped finish the Sol System’s fortifications. The auspex outposts of Pluto, the shipyards of Jupiter, the forges of Mars and the imposing defence laser grid of Luna would be reinforced with Iron Warriors, while the majority joined their Imperial Fist cousins in the Imperial Palace. On Mars, loyalist forces had driven the Dark Mechanicum to the brink of defeat, with only a few Heretek forges resisting the combined Fourth and Seventh Legion ground forces. The traitor tech-priests were able to resist due to a powerful contingent of Iron Hands, and the forbidden technology and foul tech-corruption raided from the Vaults of Moravec.

 

Several months after the Lord of Iron’s arrival, the largest war armada in Imperial history emerged from the warp. The vast majority of all Eight Traitor Legions, alongside the traitor-aligned Imperial Army and other auxiliary forces such as Typhon’s Black Legion, emerged from the Immaterium into the Sol System and the battle for Mankind began. The IV fleet fought bravely beside the VII and XVI fleets, supported by Battlefleet Solar, but the loyalists were outnumbered and forced out of the way into the system’s halo for repairs and to recover, though loyalist warships would continue to raid and disrupt traitor fleet movements for the entirety of the Siege.

 

When the traitors made landfall onto humanity’s birthworld, the Iron Warriors defended the Imperial Palace shoulder-to-shoulder with the Imperial Fists and Sons of Horus. For every hallway lost, for each block of stone crumbled beneath a traitor’s boot, a loyalist had defied the enemy, causing horrific casualties amongst the Traitor Legions. Annoyed by the rising death toll and slow progress, Fulgrim summoned more and more daemonic hordes to his aid as the rebel legionnaires sought any weakness in the Palace. But there were few, and those beyond minor.

 

The three Loyal Legions were bleeding the traitors dry, but they were taking heavy casualties as well and were slowly but steadily being pushed back. The fall of the Ultimate Gate on the fifty-seventh day of the Siege gave the traitors a surge of confidence and further constricted loyalist forces deeper and deeper into the Palace. The arrival of the Raven Guard came as a relief. While the Ravenlord and his elite bolstered the defenders in the Palace, the bulk of the XIX spread throughout Terra, disrupting traitor supply lines, communications hubs and muster points, though they would primarily combat the hedonistic White Scars who preyed upon the population.

 

Despite the reinforcement, the loyalists continued to be pushed back. When the Iron Hands’ siege weapons created a hole in the Eternity Wall, Angron led the assault into the gap. Perturabo, Corax and Horus met the traitors head on and for hours held the breach, denying the traitors their victory. While the Deliverer fought the Gladiator, their former close friendship making the fight all the more sorrowful, the assault was broken when Horus defeated Ka’Bandha, breaking the Bloodthirster’s spine across his armoured knee. After the traitors withdrew, the hole in the Eternity Wall was bulldozed shut and the Siege became a stalemate once more.

 

On the ninety-fifth day the void-shields protecting the Inner Palace collapsed, coinciding with a large-scale assault by the traitors. By the time the three primarchs had defeated the assault, realising it for the diversion it was, it was too late. The Praetorian and War Commander were dead, the Emperor mortally wounded and the Traitor Legions in full retreat.

 

Perturabo would see his father interred onto the Golden Throne and would go about readying the Imperium for its great counter-attack. In the Year of Intermission he lead the funeral procession for Dorn, laying his brother to rest in the newly constructed Tomb of the Primarchs, with a statue of the Vigilant standing tall and proud, created by the Iron King himself. During this time Perturabo became the second Emperor’s Praetorian. Later, when the Scouring began, thousands of Fourth Legion Astartes would remain behind to defend the Palace and oversee its reconstruction.

 

When the Great Scouring began, Perturabo was at the forefront with his Iron Warriors, helping tear down rebel domains, reintegrating entire sectors back into the Imperium and destroying any and all traitors they found. During the Scouring, following the breaking of the Syndicate Chaotica, the IV made its way to Medusa to lay low the Iron Hands.

 

Medusa, heart of the Ferrum Dominion, would resist until the end of the Scouring. The Lord of Iron would fight the Gorgon at the base of the mountain the Tenth Primarch had crashed into as a young demigod. Perturabo would succeed that day, but would lose an arm to his Medusan brother. This would be the First Iron War between the two gene-lines, the first but not the last.

 

The Iron Cages-
Fifteen years after the Dropsite Massacre at Bellanor the Imperium finally was at a sort of hesitant stability. The majority of the Traitor Legions had withdrawn to the Eye, all but the Night Lords and Alpha Legion. The VIII continued to plague several sectors but they were on the fringes of Imperial territory, warring over unimportant worlds and backwaters. The XX had been broken by Guilliman at Eskrador, their primogenitor dead, and forces scattered throughout the galaxy, leaving them a minor threat, for a time.

 

As the Imperium stabilised it also reformed. The Legiones Astartes evolved into the Adeptus Astartes, the new Space Marine Chapters spread throughout the Imperium to better defend and maintain it. Perturabo, who once led the third largest Legion in the Imperium, now led only five thousand. It was bitter to stomach, but he had argued for the adoption of the Codex Astartes nonetheless. Guilliman had made strong valid points, and the Legions were of the Great Crusade while the Chapters would be of the Age of Imperium. The Legions had been too large, too powerful, and it almost led to disaster.

 

As the Imperium adjusted itself to an era without the Emperor to directly lead them, the High Lords of Terra were formed. Perturabo, as one of them, convinced his brothers and the other High Lords that though the Traitor Legions appeared defeated and the xenos races cowed or broken, it did not mean that they would always be so. To protect the Imperium the Lord of Iron strongly urged the formation of fortress-worlds alongside the borders of warp storms and other potential hot zones, all of which would be approved. These would be known as the Iron Cages and would take decades, even centuries for some, to finish but most would be completed within Perturabo’s lifetime. Though all gene-lines contributed to the construction, a clear majority were done by sons of Dorn and Perturabo, and almost half of all Iron Cage Fortress Worlds in the 41st Millennium are manned by these two bloodlines.

 

Perturabo’s insistence in creating the Iron Cages bore fruit seven hundred years after the Fulgrimian Heresy when War Commander Sakaeron’s First Vengeance Crusade erupted from the Eye of Terror, spilling into the Imperium. The Iron Warriors with the assistance of half a dozen Chapters fought the initial invasion, slowing it down as they did in the Heresy until reinforcements led by Warmaster Horus could arrive. It would take several years but the Vengeance Crusade would be defeated and the traitors thrown back.

 

While the Imperium rejoiced in defeating the Vengeance Crusade, the Iron King became committed to reinforcing and expanding upon the Iron Cages so as to not allow destruction on such a scale to happen again. Shortly after the Second War Commander withdrew to the Eye, panicked astropathic messages reached him that made the primarch make way towards his homeworld immediately: A large Iron Hands force led personally by Ferrus Manus had invaded Olympia.

 

Returning to his homeworld for the first time in decades Perturabo saw the substantial Tenth Legion invasion fleet over it with an ever-expanding warp storm slowly engulfing the planet. Perturabo would break through the Chaos fleet to land in New Lochos with most of the Iron Warriors Chapter. There, Perturabo denied the Daemon Primarch his conquest for months, the Gorgon’s Iron Hands unable to quickly overwhelm the outnumbered loyalists, and stopping the warp storm from expanding. Despite such resistance, the traitors were slowly whittling down the loyal Astartes numbers and encroaching into the city itself.

 

Perturabo, knowing that to remain on the defensive was to invite a slow defeat, opted for a bold strike against the heart of the traitor army against him: Manus himself. Attacking with every Space Marine left to him, the Lord of Iron surged through the Chaos ranks until he came face to face with his daemon-brother.

 

The final engagement between the two primarchs would fill entire tomes, create songs that would make grown men weep, and cast Perturabo as defiant and resolute till the end. Brother fought brother with ferocity rarely seen in the blood-drenched cosmos, each searching for a weakness in the other. After some time, Perturabo realised that he was becoming weary, that even his monolithic stamina and endurance could only go so far. If he fought without resolution for much longer he would tire enough for Manus to exploit that weakness and see him dead and Olympia lost to the Ruinous Powers forever. Putting duty before himself, Perturabo closed the distance between him and Manus, sacrificing himself with a crippling blow from Forgebreaker but able to thrust the Praetorian Sword into Manus’ primary heart. Though Manus could never truly die as his soul belonged to the Chaos Gods, he was banished to the Sea of Souls for a thousand years due to Perturabo’s sacrifice.

 

With Manus’ banishment, the warp storm dissipated, taking with it the entirety of the daemonic horde, leaving the Iron Hands exposed to a vengeful Chapter. In the void, five Fourth Legion Successor Chapters had arrived in full force and quickly trapped and killed thousands of Iron Hands, though many escaped. It was a victory for the Iron Warriors, for the Imperium as a whole, but it came at too high a cost.

 

First Captain Barban Falk rushed to his primarch’s side. The Iron King lay amidst a hundred dead Iron Hands and five hundred daemons, his honour guard had all perished with him. With the Daemon-Primarch banished back to the warp, the storm was quickly dissipating and with it the daemons’ foothold in reality. Already their corpses were breaking down and disappearing while the living ones fell in pain on the ground and seemed to fade into nothingness, their screams echoing into finality.

 

Over the vox he could hear from the shipmasters of Iron Warrior warships that the Steel Brethren, Black Wardens, Iron Hearts, Doom Warriors and Silver Skulls had arrived, and had begun to engage the enemy. Important yes, but it paled in comparison to Perturabo who lay in a pool of his own blood intermingled with that of the enemy.

 

Kneeling beside his gene-sire, Falk voxed for Apothecaries, knowing it was too late. His father looked at him, eyes such a deep blue as to appear black. They flicked to him, for only a moment, then back to the dust and smoke filled sky. They seemed to be concentrated on a single point.

 

“I can see it even now, mocking me, calling to me.” Perturabo coughed, blood dripping down his cheek and jaw. Falk knew of what his father spoke, something only the First Captain, High Chaplain, Chief Librarian and the other triarchs knew. His father continued.

 

“The Eye, it stares down at me. It has since I first stepped out of my pod so many years ago.” Another cough, more blood streaming from the mouth, the mangled mess of armour and flesh that was Perturabo’s side accounting for much of the spreading pool of blood. “It has stared and called for centuries and I have defied it. I named it, contained it, and conquered it in my mind. I have no fear of it, none.”

 

A smile touched the primarch’s lips, blood-stained teeth shown in a victorious smirk. He looked at Falk again, staying this time. “Do not fear it, my son. Do not let it impede on you nor make you its slave. It is an enemy, and as with all enemies you must resist and eliminate it. The Imperium is the shield of Mankind and we are the bearers of that shield. Defend it. Defend it until the stars burn out. Defend it with your last breath and effort of will. Defend it, build and rebuild it, and never shirk from duty. Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, my lord.” It was all that could be said. 

 

“Good.” Perturabo’s eyes began to lose focus for a moment until they focused on his first captain once again.

 

“From Iron, cometh Strength. From Strength, cometh Will. From Will, cometh Faith. From Faith, cometh Honour. From Honour, cometh Iron. This is the Unbreakable Litany, and may it ever be so.”

 

His eyes had lost focus again and breathing became ragged, rasping.

 

“Iron Within, Iron Without.”

 

Falk stared into his father’s dead eyes until the Apothecaries came to take him away.

 

Standing, he clenched his hands. He would follow Perturabo’s commands. He, his brothers of the Iron Warriors and the other Successors would hold to their gene-sire’s final words. The Imperium would stand, it would endure, and would conquer the galaxy entire if need be.

 

Walking back towards New Lochos, following the body being carried by Chapter officers and hearing the exclamations of shock, horror and despair over the vox, he looked into the sky where the Eye of Terror hovered unseen, like a vast tumour amongst the stars.

 

“Iron Within, Iron Without.”

 

The Second Iron War ended with the death of Perturabo and the banishment of Ferrus Manus. The Lord of Iron, as per his wishes, would be buried in the Tomb of Primarchs across from his brother Dorn. For the first time in eight and a half centuries, the Iron Warriors were left without their primarch. To replace Perturabo as leader of the Iron Warriors was First Captain Barban Falk. Falk would lead the Iron Warriors for a hundred years until his own death at the hands of Dark Eldar raiders in the Kadakar Nebula. When Falk fell, his successor became Chapter Master and the chain of command has been maintained diligently ever since.

 

In the millennia since the fall of the Iron King, the Iron Warriors and their Successors have fought in every Vengeance Crusade and countless rebellions such as the Dessian Secession and the Badab War.  Not only have they fought traitors, rebels, and heretics, but also alien invasions ranging from the War of the Beast to the arrival of the Tyranid Hive Fleets, containing these dire threats until they could be dealt with properly. The Chapter and their Successors scour the Imperium for heretics, xenos and worse, their actions and heroics having allowed the Imperium to endure for ten thousand years.

 

As the 41st Millennium comes to a close the Iron Warriors and their brethren find themselves stretched thin. Hive Fleet Leviathan, Ork Waaaghs, numerous rebellions, the Tau Empire and more have caused the First Founding Chapter to become spread throughout the Imperium. With the Eye of Terror soon to reopen with the emergence of the Eleventh Vengeance Crusade the sons of Perturabo ready themselves to defend the Imperium, and die if need be in the process.

 

Organisation-
During the early decades of the Great Crusade the Fourth Legion was formed around the great company. These large formations varied greatly between each other, but even the smallest was several thousand strong. The Legion undertook an organisational evolution when Perturabo volunteered his Legion to garrison worlds as the great company structure proved insufficient for this task. The new IV would revolve around the battalion. Every battalion numbered five hundred Astartes, and had five one hundred-strong platoons each, and within each platoon were ten squads made up of ten legionnaires. This allowed the Iron Warriors to be split into smaller and smaller units during their garrisoning of Imperial worlds. So drastic were some of these Astartes contingents that one deployment numbered a single squad of legionnaires to help govern a world of billions. This breaking down and spread of the Fourth Legion allowed hundreds of worlds to be properly integrated into the Imperium, many of which remained loyal to the Throne during the Heresy.

 

Since the adoption of the Codex Astartes, the Iron Warriors and their descendants have adopted the standard ten companies, five hundred Astartes each, with five platoons per company, and ten squads per platoon. Though some Chapters with Perturabo’s blood running through their veins have adopted unique organisation templates, a majority are Codex-compliant. The Iron Warriors have continued, and many of their Successors have adopted, the use of the Trident that gives advice to the Chapter Master. Always the First Captain of the Chapter is a triarch by default but the other two could be a lowly sergeant or high-ranking captain. Librarians and Chaplains are excluded from being eligible for triarchs as their duties are seen as too important to be bothered with the roles and traditions a member of the Trident is expected to carry out.

 

Among the Fourth Legion, Chaplains were valued as the spiritual backbone of the Legion. When some legionnaires doubted or grumbled about their years of garrisoning duties, an Iron Warrior Chaplain was always near to correct their doubts and left with the legionnaire convinced that their service was vital to the Imperium at large, thankless that it commonly was. This has continued since the Legion became a Chapter.

 

Unlike Chaplains, Librarians were initially regarded with scorn, though seen as valuable weapons when foes fielded psykers. This scorn would lessen with the Edict of Nikaea, and would disappear altogether during the Heresy when the Legion’s Librarians were vital to securing many victories against the daemon-backed traitors. This attitude has been inherited by the Successor Chapters. To any scion of the Iron King it does not matter if you are a lowly battle-brother, a skilled Techmarine or Apothecary, all fight for the Emperor and Perturabo, wherever war takes them.

 

Uniquely among the Chapters, the Iron Warriors and their descendants share a responsibility with the Imperial Fists and their Successors: the continued defence of the Sol System. When Dorn fell, Perturabo became the Emperor’s Second Praetorian but when the Lord of Iron died on Olympia the question of who would inherit such responsibility was asked by many. Acting quickly with the Imperium’s interests and security in mind, the Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors volunteered that a Chapter of their gene-lines would protect Terra henceforth, alternating between the two in century long periods of service. Thus was born the Praetorian Council, where representatives of all Chapters bearing the gene-seed of the Fourth or Seventh Primarch chose amongst themselves who would police the Sol System and act as the first line of defence if the Throneworld ever came under assault again. This changing of the guard would continue unbroken until the Reign of Blood. Vandire’s mad regime would use the High Lords’ veto of the Praetorian Council’s choice for the first and only time in history, barring any Astartes from setting foot on Terra, cementing the tyrant’s power. But as Perturabo had shown them so long ago, tyrants would never be tolerated.

 

Led by the Chapter Masters of the Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors the Reign of Blood was ended in the Terran Crusade. Once Vandire was deposed, a new council of High Lords was selected. With this new Imperial Senate in power, led by Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor, the Praetorian System resumed where it left off, continuing to the modern day. The current Space Marine protectors of Terra are the Black Wardens Chapter, selected by Praetorian Council due to their valiant action of the Defence of Pyris during the Badab War, halting the rebel advance while greatly outnumbered.

 

Recruitment-
While a vast a majority of the Iron Warriors Chapter is Olympian-born, not all are. Less than five percent are recruited elsewhere across the width and breadth of the Imperium, and this minority must consistently prove themselves to their Olympian brethren. Though facing multiple challenges, these battle-brothers number many of the Chapter’s greatest heroes of ages past. The current Chapter Master is a non-Olympian, the legendary Honsou, the Astartes who’s first campaign as Chapter Master prevented a combined Alpha Legion-Word Bearer assault fleet from invading Calth due to the Battle of Talassar. The battle was fought in conjunction with the Ultramarines Fourth Company led by Captain Uriel Ventris. This assistance prevented the Traitor Marines led by M’kar Reborn, also known as M’kar Twice-born, from ransacking Calth and destroying the tomb of an Ultramarine hero during the Great Heresy: Captain Remus Ventanus. As a result of their successful joint-operation, Ultramarine Chapter Master Cato Sicarius renewed the bonds of friendship and camaraderie between the two Chapters.

 

Homeworld-
The homeworld of the Iron Warriors has been Olympia for over ten thousand years, ever since Perturabo was found by the Emperor. When his father took him to Terra, Perturabo left a world with an upper class simmering with discontent. This would later form the heart of the Second Coup. When the Iron King defeated the coup, he ordered the execution of all who had betrayed him and the Imperium. Though bloody, it was nonetheless effective as the Olympians of modern times, whether they be noble or commoner, are unswaying in their loyalty to Perturabo’s memory and the Emperor’s legacy.

 

Though Olympia is their official homeworld, Terra is often seen as a spiritual homeworld. This, and the location of Dorn’s body, was Perturabo’s reason for being entombed on the Throneworld.

 

The fortress-monastery of the Chapter resides in the heart of New Lochos, a well-ordered and peaceful city, a similar state seen in every city on Olympia. Architects from across the Imperium visit Olympia every year to observe the legendary blueprints of Olympian cities, created by Perturabo in the aftermath of the Scouring.

 

Since the destructive Second Iron War that took place on the planet itself, Olympia has rebuilt its towering cities, fortifying them with the same energy and skill seen on hundreds of worlds across the galaxy. Throughout history many a Chaos Lord thought Olympia a ripe target when the bulk of the Iron Warriors were deployed elsewhere and have launched several attempted invasions of the planet, but none have been able to break through the formidable void system defence grid and the vaunted Defence Fleet of Olympia that hovers protectively over the mountainous world. Since the banishment of Manus, none save the feet of those loyal to the Golden Throne have tread across Olympia.

 

Combat Doctrine-
The Iron Warriors’ strengths have always lied in besieging and defence. This does not mean that they lack in open warfare, far from it. If the Iron Warriors fight in massed warfare, they do so with near-endless artillery and the support of allies, ranging from the Imperial Guard to the Adeptus Mechanicus to other Chapters. Few meet the Iron Warriors on the field of battle and not shake from fear when they see the multitude of Astartes, soldiers, cannons, armoured vehicles and tanks arrayed against them.

 

Beliefs-
Even before Perturabo was found, the philosophies of the Iron Warriors were that victory must be attained no matter the cost, and that the Imperium was greater than the individual. These would only increase when the Fourth Primarch took command of his Legion.

 

The Iron Warriors tenacity and meticulousness would see uncountable battles won. Though the Iron Warriors do attempt to minimise Imperial casualties, they are not hesitant to sacrifice entire regiments of the Imperial Guard as cannon fodder if it gained them an advantage. Despite this mind-set and occasional sacrifice of mortal men and women, the sons of Perturabo have good relations with many Guard regiments due to their thorough integration with local Imperial armed forces in military campaigns. While the Iron Warriors might sacrifice a dozen regiments in a day to secure victory, that victory would save dozens more.

 

Those that bear the gene-seed of the Iron King view the Imperium as a protective fortress for Mankind’s survival. While humans make up individual pieces of said fortress, the foundation is more important than the separate parts. When the protection loses pieces and begins to crumble, the Iron Warriors are always there to rebuild atop the old.

 

This school of thought has come into direct conflict with several Space Marine Chapters, notably the Salamanders. During the Great Crusade both Legions kept away from each other as much as possible, refusing to fight alongside the other. The Iron Warriors saw the Salamanders as hopeless optimists that cared more for humanitarian needs than the realistic needs of the Emperor’s Realm. Likewise, the Salamanders view the Iron Warriors as cutthroat pragmatists. Relations between the two Chapters have not improved in recent centuries, despite the successful co-defence of Cyllia Majoris in 945.M41 against Hive Fleet Locust, allowing the Ultramarines to exterminate the Hive Fleet entirely later that year in the Battle of Ulmor.

 

Perturabo’s relations with his other brothers were mixed, some friendly, some neutral and others outright hostile. Perturabo easily befriended Magnus, Horus and Guilliman. Perturabo had a well-known mutual respect with Sanguinius, Angron and the Lion, though it lacked close brotherhood. The Fourth Primarch had extremely poor relations with three of his brothers during the Great Crusade: Russ, Fulgrim and Manus. With Russ, the two primarchs disliked the other’s attitudes and way of war. The Compliance of Ferthea during the Great Crusade saw the two primarch’s methodologies of war clash with one another, causing the conflict to last longer than it should have with higher casualties. The result was decades of arguments, clashes of personality and avoidance in military campaigns. Their relations would only improve two centuries after the Heresy when both primarchs fought back to back on Aginthon VII, defeating a daemon horde summoned by Magnus. The Wolf King and the Iron King fought the Cyclops and his Thousand Sons and banished the Daemon Primarch back to the Planet of the Sorcerers. Since that combined effort both the Space Wolves and Iron Warriors, as well as their Successors, have been on favourable terms since and often is the call for one to aid the other in war, using their methodologies in conjunction rather than in competition.

 

The dislike with Fulgrim and Manus were proven valid when the two betrayed the Emperor. Though Perturabo hated Fulgrim as he was the Arch-Traitor and destroyed the dream of Unity, Perturabo loathed his Medusan brother. The two shared many similarities, both had an affinity with technology, both led Legions accomplished in massed warfare, and both had close ties to the Mechanicum. In spite of these similarities, which would have normally been grounds for acceptance if not friendliness, the two brothers despised one another, and either coldly ignored or quietly insulted the other. No one currently knows why this animosity between the two began, not even the Iron Warriors themselves, or if they do they are keeping such secrets to themselves.

 

Relations between the Iron Warriors and the Adeptus Mechanicus are one for much study and discussion. The friendship between the two was well-known in the days prior to the Great Heresy and only strengthened afterwards. When Kelbor-Hal died, his successor Kane became the next Fabricator General and ties between the Imperium and the Mechanicum grew stronger. This would have the unforeseen effect of a third of the Mechanicum becoming the Dark Mechanicum, led by Tech-Adept Lukas Chrom.

 

Since the Heresy, where Iron Warrior legionnaires fought and died on dozens of Forge Worlds, defending from traitor assaults, and invading rebel Forge Worlds, the friendship has remained close. As the relationship between the two strengthens so does the Imperium, because it ties the Mechanicus ever tighter into the Imperial fold, but also because of the exchange of knowledge and technology, a vital boon to Mankind. The exchange of information between the two has led to significant advancements and refinements in Imperial technology, ranging from upgraded power armour to deadlier and more effective arsenal of weapons for the Imperium’s vast armies. Examples include the Akra-class star forts that help protect the vast reaches of the void, to the Godwyn Mark Vd Pattern bolter, replacing the older and obsolete Godwyn Mark Vb Pattern as the most widely produced and distributed Space Marine bolter.

 

Gene-seed-
The gene-seed of the Iron Warriors has remained more or less as it was at the dawn of the Great Crusade. While most of the Iron Warriors gene-seed has remained pure, the Catalepsean Node is hyper-active, allowing the Astartes to remain awake without sleep for much longer if need be. Apothecaries of Fourth Legion descent vigilantly monitor their gene-seed, destroying any that are deemed unstable, stopping this impure gene-seed from being implanted into the Chapter’s Neophytes.

 

The Iron Warriors gene-seed is very compatible with most human gene-pools, allowing for rejection rates to be quite low. Though their rejection rates are only slightly higher than the Ultramarines and Sons of Horus, they are on par with the Imperial Fists, Dark Angels and Blood Angels, and easily surpass the Space Wolves, Salamanders, Raven Guard, and Death Guard.

 

Battlecry-
The Iron Warriors use a mixture of “For the Emperor,” and “For Perturabo,” and variations thereof but their primary battle-cry remains “Iron Within, Iron Without.”


Edited by Tanner151, 25 October 2017 - 02:23 PM.

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Brother Lunkhead

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Finally had a chance to read some of your work. I have to say, I like itthumbsup.gif  You've obviously put a lot of thought and work into it. It definitely shows.  Generally, I'm not a fan of alternate time lines or alternate history, but yours works well. Keep up the good work.


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Tanner151

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Finally had a chance to read some of your work. I have to say, I like it:tu:  You've obviously put a lot of thought and work into it. It definitely shows.  Generally, I'm not a fan of alternate time lines or alternate history, but yours works well. Keep up the good work.


Thanks! Glad you like it.

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Tanner151

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A Knight of the Eye


“I knelt as a Dark Angel and rose as a Son of Fulgrim.”

 

-Merir Astelan upon formally entering the Third Legion’s ranks

The world was flesh, the canyons were creases in the skin, a mountain range of bone was the brow, rivers of molten lava the veins, the deep bottomless caverns the pores. From these came the daemons in all their horror, in all their mindless frenzy. They came, beings of pale coloured flesh, their eyes pools of blood, and their arms ending in jagged swords of bone. They hummed as they charged forward, a song of madness, a symphony of chaos.

 

“Fire,” ordered Merir Astelan. Seventeen bolters unleashed their fury at the encroaching warp-spawn. Many fell to the ground, their death-screams even musical, a high-pitched whistle of joy and agony.

 

Bolter fire killed some of those that neared them, but not all. The larger, more powerful ones shrugged off the bolts and laughed manically as they neared. Only two things would kill daemons of such calibre. Mag-locking his bolter, Astelan drew his sword.

 

“Swords and flamers, kill, brothers, kill!”

 

Guns were replaced with blade and fire. The seventeen Astartes, formerly Astartes of the First Legion, readied to meet the wall of hell.

 

The daemons continued their run, increasing their speed, their howls louder, and their screeches more eerie and bone shaking. Astelan picked up the shield he had impaled into the ground, the bottom covered in serrated spikes, his brothers’ shields mirroring that of his own.

 

The horde of flesh met with the wall of ceramite. Scores of daemons were cut down in the initial seconds, tainted blood spraying across armour and pooling into the ground where small mouths opened in the flesh, drinking their fill, humming a low hiss of bliss.

 

Astelan dodged a bone-sword, thrusting with his own power sword, dissecting the lithe monstrous body. Vivid pink viscera spattered at his feet. Casting aside the corpse, he turned to pierce another, his sword humming, parting the warp-flesh as it made its way through to another, decapitating it. As the killing continued, he thought back on how it came to this. He was, had been, a veteran of a hundred battlefields.  One of the first Space Marines of the Legiones Astartes, hero of the Imperium, defender of his adopted world of Caliban, protector of freedom… now… now he was an outcast in hell, fighting its denizens.

 

Snarling, he stepped toward a daemon, surprising it, its hideously beautiful features twisting in outrage. It died with a sword though its open mouth. Flicking the gore away, he continued the melee. He and his sixteen legionnaires had fought for the Emperor, then the Lion and finally for Luther. The Emperor failed them with His lies; the Lion failed them with his antipathy; the Saviour of Caliban had failed them with his incompetence. Now they were lost, no longer sworn to any but each other.

 

When Luther had raised the flag of independence on Caliban, Astelan joined without hesitation. He had been the strong arm of the Saviour, the gauntleted fist, the sword of justice and freedom. Fifty years of support and friendship, all for nothing. Caliban now no longer existed, a collection of broken rocks and cosmic dust. The only viable piece of that world now was the fortress-monastery of the Dark Angels Chapter, the former fortress of Aldurukh, renamed the Rock by those ignorant Angels. He had fought, he had sacrificed, he had rebelled, and it had all been for naught. Luther and his followers sat on their world of white sand and crimson skies, doing little but planning and rebuilding. For what cause, Astelan did not know, nor did he care anymore. He had lost true purpose decades ago. He had lost it when he had been pulled into the warp by Luther, feeling the death-scream of tens of millions of Calibanites as the planet tore itself apart in the flames of warp-fire and war.

 

Since then he had sought out fellow Independents, enlisting them to fight for none but themselves. Many he had found still retained loyalty to Luther, up until his blade killed them, but some had joined him, seeking a death in combat, clinging to some semblance of worth. They wandered the Eye of Terror, fighting for one warband or another, occasionally only themselves against all others. When the Legion Wars erupted, they had found more work in the Eye. Astelan and his Vengeful Knights Warband had been accumulating quite a name for themselves.

 

Power, glory, fear, all that effort to gain those and now going to be wasted all due to a warp-predator cutting their ship in two, sending it crashing onto this world of flesh and bone. Out of thirty-eight legionnaires, only they seventeen survived the crash, and that number was beginning to shrink.

 

Dhalos was the first to die, a bone-sword finding an opening in the underarm of the Astartes. The blade pierced both hearts and a lung, killing the battle-brother instantly. He was the first to die, but not the last.

 

Pyles, Adalber, Rycard all died within minutes of each other. Seventeen quickly became thirteen.

 

Malster fell beneath the cuts and scraps of a hundred swords, his body leaking his life-blood as the daemons fell upon him. “Back!” he yelled through the vox, raising a hand holding a bandolier of krak grenades. Twelve Astartes moved as one away from their fallen brother. A loud crack in the air followed by falling debris of metal and body parts signalling that their brother was no more, his sacrifice having killed scores of daemons, but it was a mere bucket to a vast ocean.

 

Twelve became eleven, eleven ten, ten nine. Freidrike’s flamer sputtered the last of its promethium reserves. As the Space Marine cast aside the flamer, pulling his chainsword from its scabbard, a large pink-white daemon impaled him. Blood spurted outwards like a fountain and the warp creatures near it fell to their knees, bathing in the legionnaire's blood, hymns of ecstasy filling the air.

 

Overhead Astelan could see the gargantuan warp-predator as it soared through the upper atmosphere, its long tendrils leaving swirling paths in the cloud covered sky. It roared, a beast of the abyss rushing for the kill.

 

Nine became eight and eight seven. Astelan killed and killed and killed, but more came out of the planet’s pores, while he and his brothers fell one by one.

 

Seven became six and six became five when a large boom came from above. Stealing a glance upwards, Astelan saw the warp-beast became awash with flame. Coming from behind it were three warships. Astartes warships. Two were strike cruisers, the other a battle-barge, all three bristling with weapons and carrying about themselves a deadly grace.

 

The beast above shrieked its death-scream as torpedoes, missiles, cannons, lances, lasers and plasma were unleashed against it. The monolithic daemon was dying, or as close to dying as they came. It would be banished to the true Empyrean for centuries at least.

 

The Dark Angels vox hissed and popped, the Eye distorting communications.

 

“Cousins,” came a voice, collected, considerate yet unyielding. It was a voice that expected others to follow it, and one that achieved those results. “Move toward these coordinates.” The data was uploaded to their visor-feeds.

 

“Why should we trust you?” demanded Astelan.

 

“Because if you do not, you will all die.”

 

The former Legion Master contemplated the words. To put his trust, his life and the lives of his men in another’s hand felt strange. He had not felt it for centuries. He thought of denying this assistance, but looking at the unending hordes still surfacing from the dark depths he knew he could not. The death of another of his Knights only reinforced his decision.

 

“Acknowledged. Moving towards marked location.”

 

“That is wise.”

 

The four survivors surged through the tainted ranks, moving towards where the land rose slightly, giving those that stood there an excellent view of the surrounding area. Four lowered to three as they ascended the raised fleshy earth.  The warships in orbit took position, but it would take too long to land troops before the Dark Angels were overrun.

 

“Cousin? Cousin!” yelled Astelan, his back pressed to the other two Angels.

 

“We come.”

 

Explosions ringed around the Angels, missiles sent deep into the clusters of daemons, killing many, wounding others, and plugging the cavern-pores. The daemons were stunned; the death of so many of their brethren so quickly left their minds numb with psychic discharge. The aim was exact, the execution flawless; it was perfection, Astelan thought, impressed. From above came the booming clap of drop-pods breaking through the atmosphere at dangerous velocities. Two dozen pods fell, each filled with five legionnaires.

 

Clad in the purple-and-gold of the Sons of Fulgrim, the legionnaires spread out, eliminating the daemons as they stood there frozen with psychic shock. Eventually the warp-spawn recovered, launching themselves at the Space Marines but it was too late for them.

 

The fighting continued for several more minutes. The Sons lost eleven legionnaires, but that mattered little as he looked upon his final two Knights as they lay dead in heaps of killed daemons, their bodies’ riddles with blade wounds.

 

His entire warband, his entire command, wiped out in a single day. He fell to his knees besides the fallen; his hands clenched atop the pommel his sword. He shook, not for sadness but anger. He had failed them. They did not die in glory or reap battle-honours; instead they died on a piss-poor excuse of a planet.

 

He heard an armoured figure approach from behind. The steps were measured, cool, confident, bordering on a hint of arrogance, but that was expected of the dead War Commander’s progeny.

 

Turning, he saw an officer of the III, the markings and rank announcing to all that the one that bore them was a lord commander.

 

One of Fulgrim’s thirty precious lord commanders, interesting, he thought. The Heresy had seen many of them die, with a majority of the others having disappeared or become major leaders of warbands. Names such as Lucius, Eidolon, and others like First Captain Kaesoron were known across the Eye, some admired, others hated. Astelan had fought several Third Legion warbands since coming to the Eye. None impressed him more than these that had saved him.

 

“What do you want?” he asked the Chemosian.

 

The officer stopped, cocked his head to one side. “Why do you think I want anything?”

 

“No one saves another without a reason, without a purpose.” Astelan could not keep the bitterness from his tone.

 

The Third Legion commander was silent for a moment but slow chuckling laughter emanated from him.

 

Astelan eyes burned with rage. He had lost all his men to be indebted to someone who would laugh at him!

 

“Calm, Astelan, calm.” “The Astartes raised his hands in a calming manner.

 

“My name. You know my name.” It was not a question, but statement of evident fact.

 

“I do. I have been searching for you for some time.”

 

“Why?” Astelan was curious.

 

“Because I have seen a future where you and I have stood side by side as we dismantled the Imperium and remade it anew. I will be the Champion of Chaos Undivided, and you my sword, the Vengeful Knight of destroyed Caliban. Together we will make the galaxy burn.”

 

Astelan’s rage simmered as the words rolled over him, his mind racing as he dissected the other’s words.

 

“Who are you?”

 

The lord commander took off his helmet, revealing short cut platinum hair and violet eyes.

 

“I am Tyberius Sakaeron, once Lord Commander of the Second Millennial.”

 

“Once? What are you now?”

 

A predatory smile carved itself on those patrician features, a smile of a reaper, a conqueror, a warlord.

 

“I am so much more than what I was two centuries ago when my father was alive. In time, my name will make the Imperium shudder and weep. I am Fulgrim’s Heir, the future Second War Commander.”

 

“You are very confident, cocky even. Taking those titles alone borders on presumptousness.”

 

“A trait commonly associated with my gene-line, yes, I know. But this is not overconfidence, this is assuredness.” Sakaeron gazed around them, his Astartes having secured the area, dropships coming from the warships above to pick up their masters. Looking back at the former Dark Angel, he continued.

 

“Join me, Astelan. Your men are dead, there is nothing for you here; you are aimless, lost in this hell we call home. Come with me; help me unite the Legions, starting with my own. Once the others accept me as War Commander and fight beneath my banner there will be no stopping us. We will be the harbingers of the Imperium’s downfall. We will right the wrongs that were made, forge an empire of strength and unity through force of arms. The time of the Emperor and primarchs has passed; the time of the Space Marine has begun.”

 

Astelan pulled his sword from the ground, noticing with some humour Sakaeron’s guards inching closer towards him, wary for their lord’s life, but he raised his hand to stall them. Astelan eased the power sword into its scabbard.

 

“Will I kill many Imperials?”

 

“Yes, of course.”

 

“Very well, Sakaeron, lead on.”

 

---

 

The War Commander left the planet of flesh and bone with the sole survivor of the Vengeful Knights Warband, who adopted the title of Vengeful Knight for himself, in memory of his destroyed warband and for the role he would play in the ages to come. In the Imperium, specially trained Imperial psykers probing the Eye of Terror witnessed that the warp pulsed with what could best be described as… contentment.


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War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

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Night of Silent Knives

“…further reports from our operatives detail Lord Sanguinius has left Talas Station for the Baal System, reportedly to replenish his Legion and replace some of his losses.”

 

“How many Blood Angels are stationed there?” asked the Grand Master of Assassins, sitting coolly, fingers steeped together. The man was the epitome of calm, as if the Dropsite Massacre had never occurred.

 

Sire Vanus, face covered by a unique mask as were all who sat in the room, including the Grand Master himself, commanded the most in-depth intelligence network in the Imperium and his operatives were very effective at digging out even the smallest morsel of information. The eyes behind the glassy, shimmering mask flicked to their master.

 

“Seven to eight thousand, Grand Master, maybe more, likely less,” Vanus said.

 

The Grand Master nodded behind his plain silver mask, motioning for Vanus to continue.

 

“Lord Vulkan is being brought to Terra, his body remaining in stasis until he gets to the Throneworld. It is hoped that the Emperor can see to his wounds.”

 

Five heads nodded in understanding. Sire Eversor, his mask a frozen rictus of a fang-toothed skull of bone and gunmetal, added his own nod, making it six with only a second’s delay.

 

“What of the situation on Mars?” queried the Grand Master.

 

“Chrom’s offensive has been stopped and the scrap-code infection has been contained. Fabricator General Kane reports they might be able to purge the noosphere and vox of the scrap-code in some months’ time. Chrom, styling himself as ‘Voice of the True Omnissiah,’ has a third of the Adepts behind him in addition to the few thousand Iron Hands that were on Mars when the Schism started.”

 

“Losses?”

 

“Outside of the rebel Adepts’ Forges and the contested areas, most of the Red Planet has been spared, though rebel cells within loyalist territory continue to plague supply lines and disrupt production through terrorist bombings and sabotage. Captain Camba-Diaz and Warsmith Golg’s forces are eliminating isolated traitor Forges, removing any threat they might pose once the Astartes focus on liberating Olympus Mons and pushing towards Mondus Gamma.”

 

Eversor looked around at his fellow Director Primus, listening as Vanus continued the debriefing. News of Fulgrim’s treachery was spreading. Already the Adeptus Arbites were being deployed en masse across the Throneworld to quell riots and pro-Phoenician demonstrations. The first ended in arrests, the second executions. The same thing was happening on hundreds of worlds, possibly thousands.

 

The Grand Master looked at the six Directors. “We must be cautious in the next few months, cautious but vigilant. Fulgrim, this self-proclaimed War Commander, is quickly capitalising on his temporary advantage. Already he has captured dozens of star systems alongside the hundreds that have sworn for him, and both numbers are growing rapidly as word of the Massacre spreads and with it conquering rebel fleets.”

 

“It disgusts me so many have joined,” said Sire Vindicare behind a mask of standard issue, undistinguishable to the ones given to every assassin of his Clade. “Oaths apparently mean little to the common man.” The comment was dry, the tone appalled.

 

“They are but weak chaff clinging to the strong,” Culexus muttered, his voice was soft but held a core of steel, the mask he wore was of a distended, hydrocephalic skull.

 

“Countless billions will join out of falsely placed loyalty and oaths to Fulgrim that they interpret as greater than those to the Emperor,” hissed Siress Callidus, skin-tight black mask with red rubies for eyes narrowing in annoyance.

 

“Many have joined the traitors either due to fear or loyalty to the Traitor Legions,” Siress Venenum spoke quietly. “No matter how many join, we must contain the threat, eliminate dangerous targets and weaken the rebel movement.”

 

“Agreed,” broke in Eversor. He had little time for discussion, he desired action. “Let us create the first list.”

 

So they did, for five hours, with only servitors coming in and out the isolated room known simply as the Shrouds, centred in a rarely visited locale of the Inner Palace, an effective ghost on Imperial Palace schematics. A list was compiled of who was to be eliminated to disrupt the traitors and cause disorder to rage across their worlds.

 

Elidias Xo, Governor of Poria, traitor-supporter, method of assassination: Venenum.

 

Wynna Sual, Chairwoman of the Congrannier Trading Union, traitor-sympathiser, method of assassination: Vanus.

 

Avaloas Tinbre, Lord General of the Resen Imperial Army Group, active traitor, method of assassination: Vindicare.

 

Dahn Daneel, Adept of the Corus Forge of Ha’Mar, active traitor, method of assassination: Eversor.

 

And the list continued. Dozens of names were added, and then scores, with nearly a hundred by the end. All were low to mid-ranking in the grand scheme of things but it was a start, the first pebbles of an avalanche, the initial pinpricks to draw blood before the killing strike. Assassinating the War Commander was brought up, but quickly decided it would have to wait. His bodyguard was too strong at the moment, his person protected at all times by the Phoenix Guard and his exact whereabouts were currently unknown. They talked of his assassination but only when and if the opportunity presented itself. In the meantime, other targets awaited.

 

Assassinations for the other Traitor Primarchs, as well as former First Captain Calas Typhon of the Death Guard, were discussed, planned, but put aside for the immediate. They would take time and effort, but the plans would be made, just in case.

 

When all had been laid out the Grand Master stood, the others following suit. He looked at them all. For a moment, Eversor thought he looked at him longer than the others. Does he suspect anything? No, he could not, otherwise I would be dead.

 

“This meeting is adjourned. I will summon you in several days. Deploy your Assassins.” And with that the man left through the door he had entered in hours ago. The Directors looked at one another, as if in deep contemplation, and then began to leave. As Eversor turned to leave, he noticed Vindicare and Vanus staying behind, close together, in deep discussion.

 

Dangerous.

 

It took him three hours and nineteen minutes to walk from the Shrouds into the Outer Palace, led by a servitor that underwent daily memory-wipes. The path it led him was not the one he had took when arriving and it would be a different one the next time he came and went. That is, if he were not to break every oath he had sworn to the Emperor and the Imperium. He stepped from the Inner to the Outer, the secret door he exited closing quietly behind him.

 

Taking less travelled halls, it took another four hours to reach a public transport rail. His mask was stored in his coat, synth-skin, a false nose, and eye contacts concealing his identity, albeit minutely compared to more advanced methods but it would do for the time being. Eversor strode to the rail, paying three coppers for a travel stub. The rail train left the station, heading south-west. It took six different trains, forty-three stops and nineteen hours, but eventually he left the continent-sprawling Palace.

 

Before him lay Kyro, capital of the province of Aegypt, the sky was crowded with air cars, transports, cargo haulers, dropships bearing Arbites livery and more, soaring to and fro, impervious to the madness that was to come. Terra had suffered under the Crimson King’s psychic assault, Aegypt suffered almost as badly as the Palace oddly enough. If he were Vanus he would have rooted out the how and why, but he was not so he continued his trek into the massive hive city, heading towards Kyro’s tertiary spaceport.

 

Security was heightened, Fulgrimian supporters initiating terrorist attacks having caused it. Most kept their faces blank and seemingly calm, but Eversor could smell their sweat, noticing their rigid movements. They were afraid. The unthinkable had happened: a primarch had raised the flag of open rebellion and seven of his brothers followed him. Almost half the Legiones Astartes were now fighting the other half, their allies fighting beside their masters across a hundred battlefields. There would be far more soon, he thought, far more battlefields. Baring his teeth for a moment, he took position in line. Soon, Terra would become a battlefield.

 

Passing by the security, heightened but amateurish at best for a Clade Director, Eversor walked further in, awaiting a sub-orbital flight to Anasee Station. Boarding the transport he made his way towards the rear. After a quick search, he found what he was looking for. Locker 43-C was unlocked and quickly he discarded the clothes and disguise he was wearing to don yet another false face and wear the clothes of an Enginseer. There was no worry the primary one would come, she was dead in a gutter, torn apart by one of his operatives.

 

He neared an inter-ship vox, keying the terminal for the cockpit. Adopting an accent that hailed from the slums surrounding Olympus Mons, he spoke. “Captain, Enginseer Dellon, replacement for Enginseer Cail, reporting.”

 

“About bloody time,” responded an annoyed voice. “What took you so long?”

 

“The ineffective traffic control of the main hall…”

 

“Alright, alright, I get it. Well head over to the engine room and make sure everything is in working order.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

The engine room was small, as befitting a ship such as this. He did check the engine, noting its smooth running. Looks like the dead Enginseer was good at her job. But he did not monitor it; rather he placed a small charge on the fuel pumps leading into the primary petrochem reactor. Micro-meltas were flea bites compared to the ones carried by the Astartes and Army demolition units, but it would work well enough here.

 

“Ready for flight, captain.”

 

“Copy.”

 

The engine began to hum with power, the ship shaking with brute force as it defied gravity and made its way void-ward. They broke atmosphere soon after, heading towards the orbiting Anasee Station.

 

Jogging to the emergency airlock doors he donned a void-suit, the kind necessary for quick repairs whilst in deep space. Decompression and the subsequent opening of the door caused a klaxon to begin wailing, but he ignored it alongside the captain's frantic questions. Pushing from the metal, launching himself far into space, he activated the tracker signal. Within moments the stars in front of him disappeared and a black vessel picked him up with its yawning cargo hold. As pressure and gravity were reasserted he looked out the small view-port. The transport ship was twenty kilometres away now, but still within range of his detonator. Pushing the detonation rune he watched as the transport ship, filled with several hundred people, exploded like a Unity Day firework.

 

Doors hissed open behind him and he turned. A dozen men and women bowed their heads.

 

“Whom do you serve?” intoned Eversor.

 

“The True Emperor, Fulgrim the Phoenician.”

 

The correct words being given Eversor walked past them and quickly reached the bridge. The stealth ship was one of many within the Officio Assassinorum’s vast silent fleet. It was crewed by those from every Clade, but the agents aboard this particular vessel swore loyalty to Fulgrim and through the War Commander to Eversor as well.

 

Another twenty served on the bridge, some Assassins, the majority crewmembers.

 

“Head to the nearest Mandeville point, plot a course to the Danzen System.”

 

As the crew went about their duty, Eversor went to the vox station. The vox here was powerful, powerful enough to reach the base in Sud Merika. Sitting down in the padded chair he swiveled to the cogitator runeboard. Typing in a frequency rarely used by the Officio he spoke a code-word that had been constructed several decades ago when Lorgar Aurelian had visited Sol. After the Word Bearers Primarch made a deal with the now deceased Kelbor-Hal the Sixteenth Primarch had discovered who Eversor’s true identity was and had been waiting in his private apartments when the Clade Director had arrived. He still remembered that discussion.

 

“How do you know I will not report you to the Grand Master? How do you know I will not name you traitor in front of the Emperor?”

 

Lorgar merely nodded in thought, his demeanour calm and confident. “You have an astute mind, Master Eversor. Use that mind, ponder the facts I have presented. You know the powers that back me, the war that is to come. The Emperor has lied to us, lied to us all for centuries, and He lays the foundations for a tyranny that cannot be allowed to come to pass. What will you choose to support: the dark truth or a honeyed lie?”

 

And he chose that day, he chose to follow Lorgar’s Primordial Truth, waiting when the Champion of Chaos was selected and declared. He had waited patiently for forty years and that patience was beginning to bear fruit. His supporters were many, though paled in comparison to the combined might of the other Clades. Even when Alpharius had declared his support to Lorgar and Fulgrim, giving Eversor access to some of the primarch’s own extensive spy network and allowing an even more ambitious and deadly operation to be carried out with success, it still was small compared to what stood against him. But it would be enough to destabilise the Sol System for some time.

 

Clearing his throat, he pushed the record rune. “All cloaked operatives, initiate New Dawn Protocol. I repeat, all cloaked operatives, New Dawn Protocol is a go.”

 

---

 

In the techno-jungle of northern Hy Brasil of Sud Merika, an Assassinorum facility was located, operated by agents from all Clades. It was one of two on Terra that gathered all information from across the Sol System, and through their tapping of all public and private frequencies they would pick up, decode, transcribe and store data ranging from communications between noble families, trade between Terra and the Solar Colonies, construction of ships and weapons on Mars, as well as transference of military material being shipped from the Red Planet to the Throneworld or from the Red Planet to countless Expeditionary Fleets. They even picked up transmissions between the Imperial Palace, some from Dorn to his sons, others from the Council of Terra, and even one from the Emperor Himself. Exabyte and exabyte of data, thousands of them, stored and catalogued. In the operations centre sat forty data-watchers, cogitator-operators and several technologians. The centre was a quiet bustle of work.

 

When data-watcher Jans Culpar heard the message emitting from near the site of a civilian transport’s explosive demise on the path toward Anasee Station he knew what it would say.

 

Overriding locked systems and splicing the message into public data-streams and thousands of frequencies he looked about him and nodded to the six others. As the message played over the centre’s primary speaker they withdrew carefully hidden weapons, compact needle guns made of plastek, and began to kill their fellows. Silent whistles of the needles soaring through the air killed dozens; the others lacked any weapons but their fists. They were employed by the Assassinorum, oath-bound and sworn to secrecy on pain of death, and faced vigorous physical and mental training, but they were not warriors, not Assassins, merely clerks and operational personnel. They ran for the thick adamantium blast doors, and screamed in horror as they closed. The few that made it to the door slammed fists on it even as the seven turncoats emptied their needle rounds into the survivors.

 

The seven made their way to various cogitator-consoles, initiating New Dawn Protocol. Already the word was spreading across Terra, across Sol. But that was not their focus, the data stored in the massive storage engines was. They copied the data, sending it via spliced streams of heavily encrypted data-bursts to a ship in orbit, crewed by fellow Fulgrimian conspirators.

 

When the information was copied and sent, the original files were deleted and the ghost remnants corrupted with viruses that would test even a Martian Adept to recover with any hope. It took an hour for all recent data of the past six months to be sent, deleted and corrupted. The information was compressed and would take their fellow agents weeks to reconstruct in any usable format but it deprived said information away from the loyalists.

 

As the transfer completed all seven looked at one another, nodding in satisfaction, ready for their sacrifice and glad they had served their War Commander.

 

Jans Cuplar spoke aloud for the first time since New Dawn was green-lit.

 

“Hail Fulgrim.”

 

“Hail Fulgrim,” the other chorused in unison.

 

Shortly after when the base’s security detail plasma torched through the blast doors they found the seven insurgents dead, their eyes glazed and mouths filled with yellow-white foam, and a gap in their teeth, revealing the location of a hollow tooth that had been filled with poison.

 

---

 

The war on Mars continued without pause. Fought between the Emperor-loyal Adeptus Mechanicus led by Fabricator General Kane versus the Dark Mechanicum led by Tech-Adept Lukas Chrom, the war covered much of the world. Nearly a third of the Mechanicum had followed Chrom, for a variety of reasons ranging from disgust the Emperor’s edicts on limiting or restricting certain fields of technological research and progression to fiercely debated doctrinal disputes over whether the Emperor was the Flesh Representation of the Omnissiah or a false god attempting to enslave the Cult Mechanicus into the Imperium. Religious foolishness.

 

Captain Rion Balcair of the Imperial Fists 177th Company stood on the bridge of the Seventh Legion strike cruiser Valiant Front. Around him the crew performed their tasks without unwanted comment. The world that dominated the primary view-screen was Mars itself, hovering like a red orb in the blackness of space. Around it the Ring of Iron circled, impressive and a feat of engineering. When word reached Terra of the Dropsite Massacre the traitor Adepts had shown their support for the newly proclaimed War Commander by instigating a massive attack against loyal Forges and their Adepts, spearheaded by the detachment of Iron Hands that arrived secretly.

 

It failed, but not before they had captured Olympus Mons and a dozen major Forges alongside a host of lesser ones in the opening offensive. The traitors had dug in, daring the loyalists to attack. Which, Balcair smirked, we did. Already two of the captured Forges had been liberated and seven outlying traitor Forges, cut off from their allies, had fallen swiftly. The Imperial Fists and Iron Warriors were making quick work of the traitors so far, but the frontlines had begun to stiffen as more and more rebel assets were being transferred from the reserve and rear areas to halt Imperial advances. Rumours of what his brothers and Fourth Legion cousins were fighting against made Balcair shake his head in pure loathing. Abominable Intelligence machines, legions of cheaply made battle-servitors, mingled with warp-energy to create bastardised weapon platforms of deadly efficiency. And that was only some of what they faced. The rumour that Chrom and his lackeys had opened the Vaults of Moravec had proven all too true early on.

 

“My lord,” spoke Shipmaster Carden Veir.  The man had broken his chain of thought. He would deal with whatever the shipmaster needed to discuss, then he would go back to his overview of the Martian civil war.

 

“Yes?” Balcair said as he stood over the mortal Legion serf-officer.

 

“My lord, I am picking up some odd vox chatter. Ensign Qurn made me aware of it.”

 

“Such as?” The Astartes glanced sideways at the Master of Vox who turned back to his station.

 

“Well, the wording itself is simple enough, but it is coming across over a hundred frequencies, most public, but many are secure or used exclusively by military forces and government agencies.”

 

“Play it aloud.”

 

Veir pressed two runes and twisted a dial.

 

“…operatives, initiate New Dawn Protocol. I repeat, all cloaked operatives, New Dawn Protocol is a go. All cloaked operatives, initiate New Dawn Protocol. I repeat, all cloaked operatives, New Dawn Protocol is a go.”

 

Balcair eidetic memory shifted through the host of code-words, passcodes, operation names and more but he came up with nothing.

 

“Source?” he asked.

 

“The signal has bounced off four satellites but is originating from a rundown slum in northern Hy Brasil.”

 

“Notify Lord Dorn, the Warmaster, Terran Command and the Legio Custodes in that order. They more than not already know but it is better to be precautious.”

 

“Aye, lord.” The shipmaster began issuing orders to Master Qurn, the man bent to his task as Balcair walked to his command throne. New Dawn. What could that be, he pondered.

 

Valiant Front rumbled as if struck by an iron fist.

 

Klaxons began to blare. It rumbled again.

 

“Status?” he barked as he seated himself. The ship shook once again.

 

“Internal explosions, Deck 3 through Deck 8 have all experienced explosions, possibly melta-bombs. Casualties heavy, several systems critically damaged.” Veir looked up from his throne-chair. “My lord, coolant pipes have ruptured, the plasma reactor is in critical state.”

 

“Shut it down. Now!”

 

“Aye, lord.”

 

Another shake, then another, and a final one, this one stronger than the rest, as if a large hammer had swung at the starship.

 

“’By the Emperor…” whispered Veir.

 

Balcair brought up damage projections on the mini-hololithic projector situated on his throne. Not only were coolant feeds rupturing, spiking the reactor’s temperature, but ammunition storerooms had exploded, though thankfully not the primary one, bearing ship-to-ship torpedoes.

 

“Wyles report,” he ordered over the company’s frequency.

 

Nothing.

 

“Veteran-Sergeant Wyles report!”

 

Nothing.

 

He brought up the pict-feed of his second-in-command, who guarded the primary ammunition storeroom with a fire team of Astartes. The pict-feed showed him not six Astartes on guard, but six dead Imperial Fists, their armour punctured by hundreds of ballistic rounds. Cycling through the recent capturing he saw his six Legion brothers become torn apart by weapon’s fire off screen. What could sneak up on legionnaires like that, much less combat them?

 

A lone figure, clad in black, approached the sealed doors, but they opened after a moment’s ministration by the stranger. Half a minute passed and the stranger emerged, heading towards the life-pods. Glancing at the mini-cogitator in the throne he saw that no life-pods had ejected. But judging from the quickness of the assailant he more than likely deactivated several portions of the ship’s systems.

 

“Alpex!”

 

“Yes, lord captain?” responded the Techmarine.

 

“Go to the primary torpedo chamber and disable whatever the assailant has placed there.”

 

“Aye, captain.”

 

“Attention crew of the Valiant Front, there is a rebel agent on board, security teams make sweeps of all decks, Astartes of the 177th are to lead. All non-essential personnel make your way to lifeboats, life-pods or any available voidcraft. Evacuate to a safe distance until recalled.”

 

If Alpex made it their in time, the situation could be recoverable. If-

 

The ship shook one last time and the stockpiled ship-to-ship torpedo cache exploded. With that explosion the Valiant Front died, along with one hundred and seventeen Imperial Fists and over six thousand Legion serfs and ship crewmembers.

 

The only life-pod that had escaped contained a single passenger. She unbuckled the restraints and looked out at the viewport as the Astartes strike cruiser burned. Already emergency response vehicles were responding. Her pod’s distress beacon was disabled, her Officio one active.

 

Within an hour a vessel of midnight colouring picked her up. The ship made its way to the closest Mandeville point. They were to meet in the Danzen System with Lord Eversor.

 

As the ship began its brute translation to the warp she spoke aloud and clearly for all the bridge crew to hear.

 

“Hail Fulgrim,” and all repeated it, reverently.

 

---

 

Fabricator General Kane walked in the trenches near the ongoing Siege of Salkaus Forge. Artillery rumbled, aircraft roared overhead, and the mechanical clang of machines was constant. A flight of Storm Eagles dropped their payloads onto the outer suburbs of the Forge’s residential district. Behind him strode Warsmith Golg and Captain Camba-Diaz of the Fourth and Seventh Legions respectively. Kane listened as they walked through the freshly dug trench.

 

“Adept Zon has approximately eighty thousand skitarii, three Titans of the Burning Stars Legion, several flights of aerospace defense interceptors and sixty Iron Hands. At current rate of advancement, we will storm the Forge’s centre in about a month,” spoke Golg.

 

Camba-Diaz grunted affirmation. “When this Forge falls, it will divide the traitor Forges in the Autonoct Deserts. From there we eliminate the rebel Adepts and their holdfasts, securing the vast manufactoria and freeing up units for deployment elsewhere across the Red Planet.”

 

“Agreed,” Golg said as they continued to trek. "Our spies in Olympus Mons send disturbing reports of ghastly experiments taking place there under Chrom’s rule. Some whisper of-”

 

Kane listened, grimacing as news of more battle-robots, those that skirted the long agreed boundary between man-driven machine and Abominable Intelligence. It seemed that the ‘Voice of the True Omnissiah’ was quite willing to ignore and flaunt thousands of years of tradition and dogma outright, replacing it with vile tech-heresies and forbidden knowledge. Mankind had banned AI-constructs and research related to them for good reason, and the Emperor had supported and enforced that ban since the Treaty of Olympus was signed. Kane was admittedly not an ardent traditionalist, nor was he a fanatical tech-conservative, but it was clear to him that the Mechanicum had become bogged down and regressive over the millennia. The preservation of technology had taken precedence over progression and refinement. And through the passing of time, things were lost, knowledge, Forge Worlds with unique products, and innovation became stigma.

 

As it was clear to him, it was clear to many others too. These moderates almost universally aligned ideologically to the Imperial faction of the Mechanicum or at the very least allied with it, believing that close ties to the Imperium would result in another Golden Age for Mankind. Many in the Imperial faction believed the Emperor to be the Flesh-Representation of the Omnissiah. Kane himself did not wholly agree on this matter, but he believed the Emperor to be a great man, uniting Terra and Mars to integrate the galaxy into a single empire for the betterment of humanity was proof enough of that. The wars between Mankind’s homeworld and the first Forge World were nothing but destructive for both sides. The conservatives on the other hand, either were horrified by the thought of technological advancement, and even some of the refinements undertaken since the Treaty, disturbed them to no end. While many conservatives were Imperial factions, a majority were either stubbornly neutral between the two, or were unsatisfied with the place of the Mechanicum within the Imperium, stating that Mars was nothing more than another vassal planet to the Throneworld. Foolishness perhaps and bigoted in many ways, but this faction had until recently ruled Mars.

 

His thoughts drifted back to the past few years. Kelbor-Hal, Kane’s predecessor, was the leader of the ultra-conservatives. The alliance between Mars and Terra was only barely acknowledged. Kelbor-Hal had for many years been quietly disgruntled and annoyed with the Emperor. Kane knew of this as he had been the man’s successor and interacted with him regularly. But in the last few months prior to his death, Kelbor-Hal had voiced few complaints and cooperated with the Emperor and Malcador more efficiently than previous centuries, especially when the Warmaster had been brought to Terra for healing. Kane did not know why the sudden change of direction, but had been thankful for it. But it seemed that change of heart had angered the more hardline groups of the Mechanicum. Oh, Lukas Chrom denied any involvement, but it was clear to many, especially the neutrals and more moderate conservatives that Chrom had instigated the assassination of Kelbor-Hal, subtly shifting the blame on the Imperium.

 

Initially, it had not been so clear. The shock of assassination, the change in regime when Kane had risen to the Fabricator General, the psychic assault by Magnus, news of the Night Lords going rogue… It had been too much to discover the truth of Kelbor-Hal’s death. In those months of confusion, Chrom had worked quickly and quietly, cementing his hold on the conservatives and extremists. When news of the Dropsite Massacre reached Sol, Chrom launched his open rebellion in support of the War Commander, leading nearly a third of the Priesthood in rebellion. The initial attacks had been devastating, allowing the rebel Mechanicum to capture vast swathes of land, including Olympus Mons itself. Chrom’s armies, assisted by thousands of Iron Hands, had only been stopped at great cost to the loyalist Mechanicum. Kane had feared the war on Mars would be ignored by Terra, as more and more reports of Fulgrim’s rebellion spreading saw massive redeployments of Imperial forces. Kane worried that since the Martian rebels had been contained, then the Imperium would ignore them until Fulgrim had been dealt with. The new Fabricator General had never been so relieved to be wrong. Shortly after the rebels, the Dark Mechanicum as they were styling themselves, had been stopped, an impressive taskforce made up of legionnaires from the Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists had arrived to not merely enforce the rebels’ containment, but to defeat them and secure Mars entire.

 

That had been only a scant few months ago. The Imperium now fought beside the Mechanicum, hand in hand, comrades-in-arms, to defeat the heretical ilk of Mars.

 

Shaking his head minutely, as unmodified humans were known to do, Kane looked towards the rebel Forge before him, gauging its defiance. The act of doing so undoubtedly saved him his natural eyes. Kane was facing the other way when a bright light followed by a wave of heat and dust blew by. Turning he saw a mushroom cloud growing from behind the trench lines, tens of kilometres back.

 

An atomic bomb, a small one at that, but destructive nonetheless, and as the radioactive dust-wall spread to him, he knew the war on Mars had become much worse.

 

---

 

Shield-Captain Amon Tauromachian strode down the vast hallways and monolithic chambers that made up the Imperial Palace. Behind him marched an honour guard of ten Custodes as per custom for Master of the Watch.

 

Amon listened to his vox-bead like a hawk hearing for prey, a hand gripped on the golden Guardian-Spear of the Legio. As he marched through the Garden of Anaton in Doman’s Ward he listened patiently as the four non-Custodes stated their various cases.

 

“I need more men, great lord,” muttered Noan Cartell, Representative of the Terran Masonic Guilds.

 

“Then why have you come to me, I wonder, Master Cartell?” Amon asked quietly, patiently, with dry overtones. The thud of his Guardian-Spear on the stone path echoed softly through the garden’s walkway, not loud enough to disturb the quiet serenity of this out of the way garden. Imported birds chirped a song of reflection, a song of peace. It was no longer the song of the galaxy, he thought wryly.

 

“I… I…” The Guild Representative stuttered. Amon had preferred talking to the Representative of the Artisan Guilds. Those guildmen had been experts in their craft, of crafting beauty and endurance in their works, their finest being the Imperial Palace. Many talks of their craft between Amon and its members occurred. Unfortunately recent events caused their priorities to change. The Artisans even now tore down their works, replacing with more stark constructs. They were building not for majesty or fame, but to ready the Palace for the assault that was sure to come. The Artisans were many hundreds of thousands and it took them roughly two hundred years to largely complete the Emperor’s home, but the Palace was continent-spanning and the Imperium did not have two hundred years to refurbish a palace into a fortress.

 

“Speak, Master Cartell. I have much business to attend to.”

 

“Uhm, yes, great lord… Uhm.”

 

“Now, Master Cartell,” Amon said, tone sharpening in annoyance. He wondered why Shield-Captain Borge Kuellin had given him a slight smirk when the Watch had transferred from him to Amon. The man knew of this appointment! Amon shook his head in amusement. He would repay his fellow Custodian with the kindness shown to him.

 

“Right.” The man took a deep breath. “I need more men, great lord.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Lord Dorn wants Sectors 157 through Sector 184 to be reinforced as per his specifications within seven months. With the resources at my disposal, it will take me almost a year to finish.”

 

“I see.” Amon paused, turning to look at the mortal. “Again, why come to me?”

 

“I was hoping you-”

 

“Stop.”

 

The man shut his mouth so quickly it clicked.

 

“I am not a builder of emplacements or erector of walls. That is the skill and prerogative of the noble Fourth and Seventh. You should go to Lord Dorn as he is the Emperor’s Praetorian. It is to him our defenses are entrusted. He has the resources for you.”

 

“Lord Dorn’s schedule is hectic. I would not be able to garner an audience in almost a month, further delaying my work teams.”

 

“I see.” Amon began walking once more, boots crunching on loose gravel. The Custodes followed as if they had not stopped, the mortals having to walk quickly to keep up their longer strides. Daily Palace schedules, who was where and more flicked through his genehanced mind. “Warsmith Dantioch is in the Silver Hall, holding several briefings with his officers. Meet him there in three hours. Through him, you can talk to the Praetorian. I will send word to Dantioch about you, he will be ready.”

 

“Thank you, great lord!” The man bowed a half dozen times until he quickly walked away.

 

“Next.”

 

Eiden Quinzell moved forward quickly. “My lord Custodian…” began the ambassador. Amon wanted to sigh, but he did not. Being Master of the Watch was a great honour, but the honour rarely surpassed the monotonous details and tasks the Master was to take care of for his one day command. Being Master accomplished two primary objectives. It lessened the burden on the Captain-General, allowing him to avoid a majority of the tasks deemed beneath him so he could concentrate on protecting the Emperor, while also giving command experience to the Master.

 

“…and that is why it would be quite impactful if a member of the Emperor’s personal guard were to attend the ceremony-”

 

An explosion shook the Palace, followed by several more. As soon as the first shockwaves began, the Custodes fanned out in a defence perimeter at the intersection they found themselves in. Amon switched from the general Palace frequency to the encoded Custodes-only frequency.

 

“Hegemon Tower, report.” Calm, he was calm, like the eye of a storm.

 

“Explosions throughout the Outer Palace, principally in administrative districts, casualties are high but the damage is being contained. Custodes squads are being dispatched to investigate.”

 

“Is the Emperor secure?” he demanded.

 

“Yes, sir,” reported the Tower operator. “The Three Hundred Companions are with Him. Captain-General Valdor is leading another three thousand Custodians to reinforce the Inner Sanctum. Sisters of Silence are deploying, setting up a screen around the Throne Room. Legio Cybernetica units are in position, as are the Palace Auxilia. The Iron Warriors, Imperial Fists, Death Guard and Sons of Horus are alerted and are securing their predetermined stations.”

 

“And the lord primarchs?”

 

“The Warmaster was in conference with Lord Dorn and Lord Mortarion when the explosions occurred. Their respective bodyguards are with them, but company-sized units from all three Legions are moving towards them, reinforcing the conference chamber.”

 

“Good, good. Send several squads as a precaution, but do not supersede the Astartes protection of their sires.”

 

“Aye, shield-captain.”

 

Amon’s mind raced. The Emperor and His progeny were as secure as they could be. They were out of his hands now. Most of the Legio was either guarding the Emperor, on their way to do so, making their way to the Seventh, Fourteenth and Sixteenth Son, or standing at their posts throughout the Palace. Much of the Reserve had been dispatched to the Outer Palace, to investigate the explosions.

 

A thought struck him.

 

“The Regent? His location, now.”

 

“He is in the Schaekespear Theatre, observing the weekly play.” The Legio knew where Lord Malcador was at all times if possible, to better protect him. Though the Regent slipped through their security network on occasion, he was always watched when his location was known.

 

“Get to him and evacuate him now.”

 

“Sir, there are no units available nearby. You are the closest.”

 

“There are guards accompanying the Regent, correct?”

 

“Yes, sir. Custodians Gen and Tyril.”

 

“Patch me to them.”

 

A moment. “Sir, I am unable. It appears to be jammed.”

 

Amon ran down the corridors leading to the Theatre. “Custodes, to me!” he barked. To the Tower, he said, “I am inbound to the Regent. Send reinforcements as soon as they are available.”

 

“Aye, sir.”

 

---

 

Malcador sat in his plain yet excellently woven pale grey robes, the blandness of them drawing the eye when compared to the rich embroidery and silks worn by the nobles around him. They oohed and awed as the play before them continued. Malcador the Sigillite, First Lord of the Council of Terra, Regent of Terra, right-hand and confidant of the Emperor, frowned slightly in the recesses of his raised hood. He had come to watch, not to listen to unwanted noise. He disliked listening to voices in a theatre. Subtly, ever so slightly, he flexed his psyker prowess, planting the suggestion of respectful silence into those near his observatory box. The exclamations continued from the crowd, but much reduced and quieter.

 

Shifting to gain a more comfortable position, he looked upon the painted faces of the play’s actors. The story was ancient, written by the man whom the theatre was named after. It detailed how a powerful general betrayed his monarch, seizing the throne for himself, but died as his kingdom of Kaledonia began to turn upon itself. The usurper was killed, his wife dead too, and the monarchy restored.

 

Malcador thought the play being performed as ironic, considering the circumstances the Imperium found itself in. The play had been ordered and tasked to perform on this day almost two years ago. The training and mock-performances had been, according to all accounts, excruciating. Not only was the theatre group to perform in front of Malcador, but it had been heavily hinted the Emperor would attend as well. Unfortunately recent events had prevented the Emperor from doing so, and He did not want to cancel the play, lest it be seen that a play based on civil war and regicide bothered the Master of Mankind. It would have likely led to some nobles whispering sedition at best, at worst there would have been more Fulgrimian supporters than there already were.

 

As the first act ended, the second one about to begin, the pulse from his dearest friend came to him.

 

+Malcador, shield yourself.+

 

Instantly the Sigillite brought an invisible shield of warp-energy around him, his old eyes watching for potential threats. Leadership of the Assassins had granted him skills many did not know he possessed. Nothing seemed amiss, but when the Emperor gave warning, it was doubtless for good reason. Realising his position was precarious; the micro-ballistic shield that hummed slightly as it remained powered on could easily be pierced by power drawn from the warp or specially designed sniper bullets. His warp field was little better if the correct weapon was used.

 

The theatre chamber had too many open sights, too many vectors of probability. He needed to withdraw, place himself in a secured location until he found out what was happening. As he rose from the chair, he felt the minute vibrations and knew them for what they were.

 

Hoisting his Aquila Staff with its enflamed eagle, he withdrew from the theatre as quietly as he could, knowing the assembled nobles would have thought nothing of it. He sent a wave of soothing over them, with a layer of relaxation and satisfaction.

 

None noticed as he left, their eyes partially glazed as their minds became sluggish for a moment. If any saw him leave, there would have been much discussion, stopping the play and allowing the assembled peerage a chance to know something was wrong.  It was better for them to stay, safer too.

As he left by a side door, he flicked his wrist in a ‘come out’ gesture and two Custodians withdrew from the dark corners.

 

“Lord Malcador,” they bowed their heads in respect. “We have lost communications with areas outside of Van Sloan Museum to the Crystal Chamber. Explosions have been felt, but we are as of yet unaware of the extent of damage or casualties.”

 

Malcador nodded as he walked between them. They followed on his heels, loyally, their Guardian-Spears sharpened and loaded, helms moving side to side ever so slightly, ever aware of danger.

 

Few met them in the many paths they took. Most were Palace personnel who shuffled warily by, almost oblivious to the presence of two of the Emperor’s augmented protectors and chosen Regent.

 

Ahead came the booming of ceramite boots on marbled floors. Malcador pushed himself against a recess in the wall, where a bust of an ancient king looked on with grim disapproval. The two Custodes aimed their Spears to where the sound was originating.

 

What erupted from the corner were eleven more of the Ten Thousand. Malcador recognized them; he prided himself on knowing the name of all members of the Legio Custodes. Stepping back into the light, he raised a hand in welcome at the approaching gold warriors.

 

“Shield-Captain Tauromachian, a pleasant surprise,” he said not unkindly. His voice hardened, “What is happening?”

 

The Custodes surrounded Malcador and Amon Tauromachian as the Custodian commander detailed all that had happened since communications had been blocked. The enlarged party now moved towards the nearest secure chamber.

 

As Tauromachian stopped talking, Malcador spoke, “You did well, shield-captain. Though it seems the enemy has no de-”

 

A fiery roar echoed from the hall behind them. The Custodes turned as one, ready for violence. Malcador ventured with his mind to see what had happened. Wincing, he withdrew the mental probe. The theatre chamber was no more, it had been bombed and now hundreds were dead. Would any have been alive if he had not becalmed them while he left? Their sense of safety forced them to stay, therefore leading to their deaths. Sighing, he pushed the thought out of his mind. Many had died due to his commands or actions, and many more would in the future. Of that he was sure of.

 

“My lord, we must depart.”

 

“Quite right, Tauromachian, lead on.”

 

The assembled men strode briskly through the empty halls, passing priceless artefacts and expertly crafted marble busts of Imperial heroes and heroines. Those faces looked on impassively, gravely, eternally.

 

+They come. Beware.+

 

“Hold,” Malcador commanded.

 

The Custodians quickly took up positions in the intersection when Malcador spoke, ready for orders.

 

“Lord Malcador?” queried Amon.

 

“Enemy forces approaching. Ready yourselves.”

 

The Custodian officer nodded and began issuing orders. None questioned what the Regent said. They trusted him, and he them.

Within moments footsteps could be heard from multiple corridors. Some boots, others bare feet. The Custodes covered the multiple approach vectors, but by the amount of footsteps, many were coming. Very many.

 

The architecture in this sector enhanced sound. To an unaided human it was distant thunder. To Malcador’s psychic and the Custodians genhanced senses it was an encroaching storm.

 

The footsteps manifested in bodies as they sprinted towards them.

 

“Halt!” yelled Amon, his voice augmented by his helm’s speakers. The rushing crowds, hundreds strong, with ever more coming, ran towards them, their faces wracked with anger and despair, their eyes black as a moonless night.

 

“Halt in the name of the Emperor!”

 

Something was wrong. Something felt wrong. Closing his flesh eyes, he opened his mind’s eye and nearly staggered by what he saw. They bore marks under their clothes, marks given in damnable prayer and belief.

 

The men and women rushing towards them were human, physically, but their minds were corrupted, broken. He heard screaming, weeping, and pleading. They were lost in their own psyches, prisoners of their own body. He could see the mark that overrode their individuality, a mark that loomed over them like a shadow, an eight pointed star imprinted on them.

 

They were…

 

“Tainted,” he rasped. “They are tainted, Amon. Kill them. Kill them now!”

 

The Custodes did not hesitate. Bolter fire erupted from their Guardian-Spears into the front ranks of the onrushing horde. Bolts of such calibre were designed to kill any that could theoretically compete with any of the Emperor’s protectors. This ranged from brutish Orks, lithe Eldar- traitor Astartes- and a host of other threats. It was a brute weapon in execution, but effective. To mortals adorned without armour and carrying little in the way of weapons other than knives and cudgels, it was a massacre.

 

Blood, viscera, and bone painted the gilded hall, designed as if by madmen. The horde had no chance, their bodies piling up, clogging the hall.

 

Malcador raised an eyebrow. Why were these… cultists, he guessed was the correct word, attacking in this fashion. They were not ready for such an attack, their ambush poorly conceived. Attacking here made no sense. Unless…

 

Malcador thought of where they were, of this specific corridor and specific intersection. He knew the Palace schematics better than most. The vents above them were not cycling air, they were not working, or, as his mind raced through thoughts and variables, they were not turned on. Realisation came, but it was too late.

 

“Shield-Captain Tauromachian, there-”

 

The vents blew and four assailants fell to the ground. Clad in black body-glove and armed with power swords they spread out, intent to kill clear in their stances. The Regent raised his hand to burn them with witch-fire but nothing came from his outstretched hand. Nothing.

 

It could not be but the elongated skull-formed helmet and the sense of nothingness, blankness, wrongness, emanating from them named them for what they were. Pariahs. Worse, they were Assassins of the Culexus Clade; his Assassins.

 

Three of the Culexus engaged the Custodians nearby who were responding to this new threat. The fourth moved to him, quickly, efficiently, deadly. But Malcador was not Grand Master of the Officio Assassinorum just because he was an effective organiser and implementer. He had training. Void of his psyker abilities, he would have to depend on his physical abilities.

 

Raising his staff, he prepared to defend himself.

 

He did not have to, thankfully. A silver spear pierced through the pariah’s chest. Looking down, the Assassin paused over the lethal blade. Within a minor twist and pull the Assassin’s spine had been severed. Crumpling to the ground, the Assassin pulled itself across the floor, heading toward Malcador.

 

Amon Tauromachian stood over the Culexus. “Most resilient,” he said, grudged approval evident. His Guardian-Spear’s metre long blade pierced the skull of the Assassin, ending its life.

 

Malcador looked around him, noting all four the Assassins were dead, though five Custodians lay as corpses.

 

The bolter fire ceased, the horde of cultists dead. Smoke and death hung in the air as Amon moved towards him.

 

“My lord,” he said, gesturing towards where their secure chamber was nearby, “we must continue.”

 

“Agreed,” Malcador rasped. Clearing his throat, he gazed around him, taking a close note on the four dead Assassins. “Lead, Shield-Captain. After this, there will be a reckoning.”

 

---

 

Eversor nodded as data scrolled on the cogitator’s monitor. New Dawn had proceeded quite well. Hundreds of Throne-loyal Astartes were dead, tens of millions of other Imperials as well, critical Officio information acquired and it denied to the Emperor, and above all chaos reigned in the Sol System. Though Malcador still lived, and reports from the atomic bombings on Mars delayed accurate details, he had accomplished much. Fulgrim would be pleased, especially with how much Eversor was bringing to his side.

 

Pushing himself from the chair he had sat in for hours while he observed, he turned to the shipmaster, who stood at patient attention nearby. “Translate into the warp. The War Commander is waiting.”

 

“Aye, my lord.” The man’s head bowed, leaving to give the order.

 

The ebon coloured ship entered the Mandeville point and quickly rode the currents of the Immaterium, heading to their destination.

 

---

 

Three days later

The Shrouds was quieter than usual. Not even servitors walked the corridors near the hidden room. A single man was visible at the table, data-slates before him. Hands steeped together, silver mask catching the light of lumen strips, the Grand Master of Assassins waited patiently in the light, the corners of the room were dark, the blinds closed.

 

The Directors began to arrive.

 

Sire Vindicare arrived first, followed by Siress Callidus. Within ten minutes the other three had arrived. All noted the absence of their sixth member. They sat, shuffling uncomfortably.

 

“Now that we are all gathered, we will begin. Report.”

 

The five masters and mistresses of the Clades did so. Casualties among the Clades, their networks of information and operatives damaged precariously so, statistics of lost Imperial soldiers and civilians throughout what was quickly being called the Night of Silent Knives. Each went through their reports, detailed and stark. None could risk leaving anything out, lest they seem suspicious.

 

When all had finished, the Grand Master processed the information in silence. After a moment he spoke.

 

“Two percent of Culexus, nine percent of Vindicare, thirteen percent of Callidus, eighteen percent of Vanus, twenty-seven percent of Venunum, and to our knowledge the entirety of Eversor; the projected amount of those that have joined the rebellion. This is a catastrophe.”

 

The others were glum and quiet.

 

“In one solar day these traitor Assassins,” the Grand Master nearly spat those words, “have caused devastation on such a scale not seen in Sol since the Unification Wars.” He gestured towards the data-slates. “A manufactoria in Nord Merika destroyed, four hundred thousand dead; Bursian Drydock, seventy-six thousand; Palace bombings, almost eighteen thousand; atomic bombings on Mars, fifty-one million so far with more added hourly. We are lucky the Fabricator General and leading Astartes officers were far enough away when the detonations happened!” The Grand Master slammed his left hand on the desk, causing the others to look at it as if it were a viper.

 

“And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We have almost two hundred civilian ships destroyed or heavily damaged, sixty-five Imperial Army ships, seven Mechanicum, and three Astartes. Production system-wide has decreased. Riots are even more rampant, panic is increasing. The Emperor Himself is soon to go on the vox and view-screens to personally assure the populace of our ability to defend this star system from rebel attack!”

The Grand Master rose. The others rising in response, but a chopped motion settled them.

 

“The corruption of our organisation has caused… questions to be asked by high authorities.”

 

“High authorities, Grand Master?” queried Vanus.

 

“Yes, high authorities,” he snapped. “And it is leading to changes.”

 

“Changes?” Siress Venenum asked warily.

 

“Changes,” he confirmed. The Grand Master looked to the pitch black corners. “It is time.”

 

The Directors turned around, gasping at the figures that emerged.

 

Warmaster Horus Lupercal, Praetorian Rogal Dorn, Death Lord Mortarion, and Captain-General Constantin Valdor walked into the light. The Directors all attempted to rise and bow at once, but Horus waved them to sit. The Lupercal was healthy and whole, hale as the day he accepted the mantle of Warmaster. The infection that had laid him low on Davin was gone and his recovery complete. He spoke, the primarch's voice a mixture of nobility, dominance, command.

 

“No more secrets, no more shadows.” Horus looked at them all. “No more masks.”

 

The hands of the five Directors reached for their masks almost by instinct to follow the commands of a primarch. They noticed the Grand Master was doing the same. Needless to say, revelations were made that day as the Clade Masters and Mistresses found out the real identity of their fellow Assassin leaders, but most shocking of all had been that the Grand Master was Malcador the Sigillite.

 

An era belonging to the Great Crusade passed that day, never to return. The war of hidden motives, cloaked daggers, and total autonomy faded as the Sol System recovered from the Night of Silent Knives. The era of Fulgrim’s Heresy demanded change, and change was put into motion. By command of the Emperor, His sons Horus, Dorn and Mortarion, and chief protector Valdor pulled back the veil that had shrouded the Officio Assassinorum throughout the entirety of its operational history.

 

Changes were enacted, plans adapted, new missions created with oversight. The Assassins were integrated into the Imperium’s vast military might, their targets selected even more carefully than before. The Assassins were forced to change, but the Imperium needed them still. Despite the treachery of so many, they were necessary. If beloved primarchs and noble Astartes could betray the Emperor, then others could and would as well.

 

The Imperium and its silent office of killers, sharpshooters, poisoners, information-gathers, and untouchables reformed, but still they were put to use, slowing the Traitor Legions as much as possible. Necessity demanded it. Fulgrim was on his way to Terra, and Mankind shuddered at the thought of the inevitable confrontation between the Emperor and His wayward son.


War Commander of Chaos


#11
Tanner151

Tanner151

    +FRATER DOMUS+

  • + FRATER DOMUS +
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  • Location:Terra
  • Faction: Sons of Fulgrim

White Scars – Champions of Pain and Pleasure

 

Bitter and disillusioned with the Imperium, the White Scars were destined to fall to the clutches of Slaanesh. Fueled by vainglory and insatiable drive for their inner desires, the once noble and proud warriors of Chogoris have devolved into monstrous hunters over the weak, ever driven to fulfil their cravings and depredations all in the name of their god and gene-sire.

 

Tempted, then seduced into service to Slaanesh, the White Scars are now the harbingers of decadence and pain, enslaving countless millions in their ventures into Imperial space.

 

-Inquisitorial report D6-44-E3-VX-2Y, Classified: Vermilion

 

“Politics? Politics bore me, brother.”

 

-Attributed to Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the Fifth Legion, during the Ullanor Triumph.

 

Origins-
The world that would become the home of the Emperor’s Fifth Son was named Mundus Planus, known as Chogoris by its inhabitants. It was a lush and fertile world, with azure seas and soaring mountains of breath-taking beauty. The people of Chogoris were divided into two distinct societies, the civilised feudal imperials and the nomadic tribal plainsmen.  It was among the second that the Fifth Primarch would land amongst, deep in the Empty Quarter, west of the Civilised Lands that was dominated by an emperor known as the Palatine, loosely translated from the Chogorian word Khagan by Imperial linguists, meaning a “khan of khans” in Khorchin.

 

Multiple tribes, prophesising that a child of destiny would fall from the stars and unite them, moved toward where his life-pod crashed, hoping to claim him and he be their herald of dominance. It was there where a dozen tribes would fight to claim the star child.

 

Ong Khan of Tribe Talskar moved like wind, his horse’s legs whirring as they galloped towards the crater where the sky metal had fallen. Beside him rode the entirety of Talskar’s warriors, spears clenched in tight fists, arrows drawn on bows, sun tanned cheeks marked by pale scars.

 

His eyes swept the land before him, arid with ko’tesh stalks limp. The drought was becoming worse; it had not rained in nearly five moons, an unusual occurrence, one that whispered of dark omens.

 

Before him, as he reined in his horse and Talskar warriors joined the fray, he saw thousands of warriors from eleven tribes fighting for leagues around. Curved sword crossed with spear, spear met axe, and axe entangled with dagger while arrows reigned over their heads, impaling scores with every volley. All fought to near the sky metal that lay in a small crater of its own making. The metal steamed and hissed as if fresh from the forge, a double-headed birdlike creature dominated the front, a stylised ‘V’ in the centre of the bird's body. It was exactly as his Stormseers predicted it would be, their dreams had foretold this. The sky metal contained a child, a boy that would become Khan of the World, a star child who would lead a people to victory, power and wealth. A boy that was prophesised to either be their saviour or, as the Stormseers whispered to him a moon ago behind tears of blood, their destroyer if Ong did not recover him.

 

“Forward Talskar! Encircle the metal, retrieve the star child!” The Talskari might have only numbered several hundred but they were fierce warriors, renown throughout much of the Empty Quarter from the Khagan’s empire to the east to the dominant Khum Karta Mountains to the west.

 

The Talskari charge killed hundreds initially but once the horsemen met the wall of flesh, metal and leather, the charge was broken. The other tribes were not as skilled as they, but had the numbers and many turned from killing each other to engage the new threat.

 

Talskar fought Bhelog, then Ja’Ha’Di, then Kurayed, then another while more soon followed. Many died within moments but Ong quickly reached the sky metal, the hissing having stopped, steam only barely noticeable. He reached for the metal, knowing if he were to open it the star child would be his and the tribe’s, their saviour and defender.

 

A jagged blade severed his outstretched hand. Hissing with pain, Ong turned to the tribesman who wounded him. His hiss sputtered and died  as he recognised the warrior before him. Gansu Khan of Tribe Kurayed was tall and broad, strong in physicality and strategy. The man had tried three times to wipe out the Talskar, each failing but coming closer than most others had. The blood-feud between the two tribes was legend even amongst the eternally infighting nomads.

 

“And here I thought the Talskari too cowardly to come.”

 

Ong bared his teeth. “The Talskar are braver by far than you Kurayeds. You, who would rather pillage, murder and raid, than fight in open battle with honour.”

 

“Honour?” Gansu barked with dark laughter. “What honour is there is being a corpse? I take what I want, when I want it. None can say to me otherwise, the few that have are either dead or slaves. You preen over honour yet your numbers are so few when compared to mine.”

 

Ong shook his head in disgust. The Kurayed was a raider, a taker and a conqueror, not a unifier like himself. He raised his blade but knew he could not take on the other man, not in his wounded state. He would die, and for nothing. Glancing at the sky metal, he knew what to do. If he could not have the boy, then no one would.

 

The Talskar Khan rushed the sky metal, catching Gansu off guard, the other having expected the Talskari to rush him. Putting his hand on the metal, he found a lever of some sort and pulled. Nothing. He heaved, putting all his weight into it. The lever moved slowly, then suddenly it creaked open and revealed what lay inside.

 

He raised his sword but stopped. The child of the heavens looked at him levelly, dark eyes unblinking. The boy must not have been more than seven or eight but those eyes beheld a wisdom and strength many of the Wise Ancients did not have. He lowered the blade and the child’s eyes followed it, cursing his inability to kill the boy, but something about him prevented the act from proceeding. Ong was calmer, more thoughtful, at peace. The child’s face was blank, impassive as stone.

 

Ong opened his mouth, wanting to explain what he had been about to do but no longer wanting to. Perhaps… perhaps if the boy spoke to-

Gansu’s sword impaled the older Khan in the back, severing his spine and slicing through multiple organs. Ong’s lungs emptied themselves of air and he stood there shocked and filled with horror.

 

Gansu pulled the blade free, gore dripping from steel. The Kurayed raised his sword to end Ong but stopped as the boy spoke.

 

“No.”

 

Surprisingly, Gansu stopped, and looked at the boy with confusion and wonder intermixed.

 

Ong felt a glimmer of hope as the child stepped from the pod and knelt in the dirt. He cupped Ong’s face, surprising the Khan with their strength, whilst deft fingers drifted over the pale scars on his cheeks. Curiosity and an astounding intelligence lurked behind those eyes, but when they flicked to Ong’s sword, they turned dark with anger.

 

The hands that cupped his head became gripped, more firm. Ong knew what was to come, and he did not stop it, nor could he.

 

The star child that came from the sky metal entombment, snapped Ong Khan of Talskar Tribe’s neck with his bare hands on the endless dry plains of the Empty Quarter. Those before him stopped their fighting between each other, watching with wonder as the child walked naked from his metal prison, right hand holding Ong Khan’s blood-strewn sword and left clutching the old Khan’s decapitated head. As the child passed them, the warriors sunk to their knees as his mere presence compelled thousands of tribesmen to kneel in subservience.

 

A storm formed over them, wind whistling as it blew by. Rain darkened the sky as rainwater fell in torrents for the first time in several moons. Before the thunder drowned out the wind, many would whisper that they heard laughter in the cold wind. A feminine-like laughter but not one anyone would associate with a woman. This held malice, pain dispensed to give pleasure, desire bequeathed to draw out agony. It seemed a promise, a promise of madness, hunger, pride, debauchery. It was a promise of darkness whispered by a prince of hell.

 

As the dust of battle settled with the newly arrived storm’s pattering rainfalls, Gansu Khan of Kurayed Tribe adopted the star child, naming him Jaghatai. The newly named demigod integrated the tribes that had fought around him in the Battle over the Falling Star into his adopted tribe. The Kurayeds, now larger and more powerful than ever before, began a war of conquest and unification amongst the plainsmen never before seen.

Gansu would raise Jaghatai as a son, teaching him war, strategy, poetry and more, the Kurayed heir learning at an astonishing rate. Within a few short years, Jaghatai became a primarch grown; standing taller than any other with the strength of a thousand men and an insight surpassing all that had come before him. During his adoption in battle and the years since, Jaghatai had led hosts of warriors in Gansu’s name to victory after victory against the tribes that defied them, earning him the name Warhawk. While the Kurayed Khan was known as unforgiving and his conquests were more often than not bloody, Jaghatai was different. The primarch encouraged unity amongst the tribes, stating that his tribe was simply first among equals, not lording over all others like the Palatine in the high steppes. Many were conquered, but even more were assimilated peacefully. To encourage this unity, culture was shared; warriors from different tribes grouped together and trained to fight as a unit putting aside their differences and focusing on their similarities. While Jaghatai was Kurayed raised, he did have an appreciation for the subjected tribes, taking from them particular traditions and traits he saw as favourable.

 

From the Ghalkden, Jaghatai adopted the use of tattooing an individual’s life history onto their body, leaving bare only the head and hands. From the Zu Shu he adopted the notoriously harsh training regime that allowed all Zu Shu to fight with the skill of five men. From the P’tahal the short throwing javelin they were famed for was adopted. From the Yuumtamai he adopted the quick firing crossbows, useful on horseback. From the Ka’Nafel was the usage of Stormseers in battle adopted, allowing their warp-gifts to annihilate all that resisted. Many tribes were incorporated into the Kurayed empire, but none influenced Jaghatai more than the Talskar Tribe. From them, the primarch learned of refined military tactics that the Talskari were famed for; of complicated yet beautifully written poetry with deeper philosophical meanings in every verse. The most obvious, besides the military traits, was the adoption of the Talskari ritual scarring. When a warrior trainee had completed his exhausting and brutal training, he was brought before a Stormseer and an assemblage of veteran warriors. There he took a new name and received two pale scars, one on each cheek, signifying his joining of something greater than himself, pledging his life to Khan and ordu.

 

While Gansu and his primarch-led armies slowly but surely conquered the Empty Quarter, the Palatine of the high steppes, an emperor whose name is now lost to time, grew worried at the reports of tribal unification.  Particularly worrying were the rumours that an angel from the stars bearing the moniker of Warhawk had come to aid the western savages. For generations the tribes had been individually strong but weak when facing the might of his family’s empire, and rare was it when a tribal khan attempted to invade the high steppes, even rarer for successfully bypassing the highly-trained Steppe Patrol. So troubled was Civilised Land’s ruler that he ordered all forces available to him: the nobility and their guards, imperial army, and the Steppe Patrol to assemble for a pre-emptive strike into the Empty Quarter to kill this Jaghatai of Kurayed before he became a larger threat than he already was.

 

Within several months over two hundred thousand men had been called. Soldiers, mercenaries, armsmen and others readied their vast army for the descent into the endless plains. The Palatine personally led this army, his sons accompanying him, acting as generals. For days they marched largely unopposed, defeating those few that contested them as they warred deeper and deeper into the enemy territory.

 

A month passed and the Army of the Palatine was growing restless. They had journeyed a hundred leagues into the Empty Quarter, but Jaghatai and his tribal alliance refused to come to battle. Many thought the Warhawk a coward, unwilling to fight in this ultimate confrontation between the steppes and plains. As the nobles drank to their surely inevitable victory, reports came to them of supply lines being attacked. Entire convoys had gone missing and the stream of supplies had slowed. Showing little concern the Palatine dispatched his second son with ten thousand men to secure their supply lines, confident they would be able to halt the incessant skirmishing.

 

Another month passed and supplies became cut off altogether and no word from his son came through. The Palatine was beginning to worry when a rider in his colours came galloping from the east. But good news was not to be given that day. Instead, the Palatine was presented with the jewelled fingers of his son and a message written by Jaghatai that his wretched spawn and the entire army dispatched lay dead.

 

Enraged, the khan of khans marched eastward, back towards his empire. All along the way the Army was attacked by small parties, eliminating scouts, and causing the Palatine’s troops to ever be on high alert. The raids were lighting fast, destructive and the raiders would disappear as quickly as they appeared. Weeks later the Palatine found his second son’s army, all dead with their heads impaled on spears, pikes and javelins. The son-general was raised above his soldiers on a small hill, head facing skyward with eyes plucked out by ravens with a spear point emerging from a ruined throat.

 

The next day, after burying a son, the Palatine’s force met Jaghatai’s for the first time en masse since embarking on campaign. Almost two hundred thousand faced an army a quarter of their size. While the nobles and the Palatine were confident, the bulk of their soldiers were tired, lean from weeks of half-rations and irritated at the lack of success. Morale was low and confidence in their commanders weak since they saw the field of death the day before.

 

Pikeman Jai Juson marched across the open field. Beside him marched thirty thousand pikemen while twenty thousand riflemen were in front. Behind them marched a hundred thousand spearmen and behind them came the swordsmen and archers.

 

The horsemen had already been sent. Licking his lips, Jai tried his hardest without succeeding to not look at the near ten thousand men and their mounts that lay scattered, broken and dead before the tribesmen. They horse had been sent first, to break the Warhawk’s first ranks, but they had been tricked.

 

A trench of covered spiked poles, running north to south and lasting several leagues in both directions, had all but eliminated the horse; the remainder were killed by well shot arrows. The horse had failed, now time for the foot.

 

They marched, waiting for another trap to spring. None did, not yet. Jai could see the Warhawk, black hair hanging to his mid back, riding in front of his men. A speech to rouse the troops, perhaps, he thought. No matter, battle would begin soon, though the lack of many visible war horses amongst the tribesmen was worrying, as there were supposedly almost as many horses as plainsmen. Jai only hoped he would live through this and see his sweet Mlia and young Huyl again.

 

As the Army of the Palatine continued to approach the plainsmen tribes a sound like a mountain breaking in half came overhead. Looking upwards, Jai saw what looked like meteors plummeting from the heavens. Scores fell onto the field, some killing soldiers, others tribesmen. Thousands died in minutes, but that was not the worst of it.

 

The meteor that fell near him was large, large enough for a hundred horses. A piece of the meteor fell to the ground and a creature with blackish green skin and red, beady eyes stepped out, twice as tall as most men.

 

The creature lifted a large axe and bellowed a loud “WAAAGH!” It charged towards the pikemen as more creatures like it emerged from the meteor. Jai realised as terror weakened his knees that they were charging towards him.

 

The battle between Jaghatai and the Palatine had only just begun when one of Mankind’s most wretched enemies began to invade: the Orks. A small collection of haphazard Ork ships had arrived over Chogorian orbit. The ships had travelled far in the warp, arriving battle damaged and falling apart as they initiated fiery crash landings. From the holds of their ships came forth tens of thousands of Orks. Miniscule by galactic standards as it may be, it was still undoubtedly overwhelming to a planet that had only just begun to include black powder into its limited weapon arsenal. The opening days of the invasion were devastating, the Army of the Palatine almost completely destroyed, alongside nearly half the plainsmen. The only reason so many survived was due to Jaghatai’s resourcefulness and rallying of the two armies. This act allowed Chogoris to survive those first few weeks.

 

Jaghatai scowled as the storm raged above. Unlike the one that heralded his emergence from the life-pod, this one was not a sign of providence. This was a result of the green beasts – Orks… something in his mind named these creatures Orks – arrival. The sky was filled with their metal ships and rocks, so much so that the sky wept as Chogoris was invaded.

 

As far as the eye could see, people rode and walked westward, towards perceived safety. Intermixed were women and children, families rescued or retrieved before they would have been slaughtered. They were battered, weary, and bloodied, but they marched with pride. At least his people did, he thought wryly.

 

The Palatine rode near the front of a separate, imperial column, putting on airs that he was a competent leader and still a factor in this war. Jaghatai scowl deepened as the poor excuse of an emperor rode by. The man looked at Jaghatai as he rode by, flinching at his gaze, the look of distaste and fear evident.

 

“You should have killed him.”

 

Jaghatai’s scowl disappeared and his face softened somewhat. Turning his large warhorse, he faced the Khan of Kurayed Tribe.

 

“Father.”

 

Gansu Khan nodded to his foster son. His warhorse was smaller when compared to the Warhawk’s, but still mighty enough to bear the Khan. The two watched as the Palatine’s army passed and tribesmen replaced them. The arrival of the Orks had caused bitter enemies to unite, for the survival of both of their peoples. While the beasts fell, the soldiers of the steppes and warriors of the plains united. Jaghatai did not care for it, but he needed the manpower. He said as much to the Khan.

 

“Still, son, you should have killed him. You cannot trust emperors, they will turn on you.”

 

“Perhaps not, but we need him and his empire. The resources at his disposal will allow us to defeat this menace.”

 

Gansu grunted. “As you say, son.” The Khan looked to where they were heading. “Come, Khum Karta awaits.”

 

The combined army withdrew deeper into the Empty Quarter, avoiding the worst of the Ork landings. Though the primarch would not face the enemy in open battle, knowing it would spell defeat for Chogoris, it did not mean the Orks had an easy conquest as their filth spread further. Large swathes of the plains were cleared by the Kurayed-led forces, with the Orks’ bodies burned and their technology studied and turned against them. Ork casualties rose and human casualties lowered as the alien’s weaknesses were discovered and exploited.

 

In the Khum Karta Mountains, Jaghatai and his forces readied themselves for the massive Ork horde coming for them. Preparations were made, messages sent and plans were drawn as the majority of the Orks on the planet made their way to where the Warhawk and his warriors were, eager to join in the battle that was to come. As the green beasts rushed towards the foreboding mountains, they were forced into narrow ravines where the Chogorians ambushed and thinned the vast alien army, whittling down their numbers, using the terrain and superior tactics to bleed the enemy. Both plainsmen and imperial fought side by side against the Orks, with many abandoning their oaths to the Palatine to swear new ones to Jaghatai.

 

During one of the many skirmishes that occurred between human and beast in the mountainous terrain, Jaghatai killed a minor warband’s chieftain, causing the Orks that it led to fight among themselves. The primarch noticed this and over the ensuing days a dozen more chieftains were killed, causing a dozen more war parties to fall to their more primal instinct of establishing dominance over fellow Orks. Having obtained such crucial information, Jaghatai planned an attack deep into the Ork army to kill the Warboss, therefore causing the Orks to fight amongst themselves to determine a new warlord.

 

During the attack, Jaghatai goaded the Warboss into battle, and then ambushed him along with the best warriors of the ordu. While the battle raged around them, the primarch met the Ork commander in battle. After an intense confrontation, Jaghatai slew the giant greenskin, leading to the xenos fragmenting into dozens of small warbands, all of which proclaimed their chieftain as the new Warboss leading to every tribe fighting the others to raise their chieftain as leader. As they did so, the Warhawk and his warriors withdrew to the Kurayed fortress deep in the mountains. There, Jaghatai discovered grave news: Gansu Khan was dead, killed by the Palatine and his bodyguards.

 

Pulling his bloodied sword from the corpse before him, Jaghatai heaved the dead guardsman to the side, the body hitting the stone wall of Quan Zhou and sliding down. Jaghatai moved forward, barely pausing, cutting down those that defied him. Behind him he could hear his bodyguards killing what few other Palatine Elites remained.

 

Before him stood the emperor of the high steppes, Khagan of the Civilised Lands, Palatine of Chogoris, standing as if he would not die, as if he could not.

 

“Why?” Jaghatai demanded, his voice an edged blade cutting through the air.

 

The Palatine’s knees gave way from terror, but his voice remained strong. “You took everything from me. Everything! If you had died out there, all would have been set right, but you lived, worse, you won. If I returned to the steppes, I would be nothing but a figurehead, at most, while you would be the saviour, the hero! I would be powerless, insignificant.”

 

Jaghatai paused, his clenched fists shaking in rage. Glancing at his foster father’s corpse that lay nearby, the Khan’s throat slit, the Warhawk renewed his stride to the murderer. “This is why you betrayed my trust? This is why you kill from the shadows, a coward, who cares naught but for his own power.”

 

Raising his sword to kill, he spoke again. “My father was right, you cannot trust emperors.”

 

The blade fell.

 

With the Ork invasion broken, their warbands scattered and killing each other, Jaghatai, now Khan of Kurayed, rode through the plains accompanied by warriors of the plains and steppes, defeating what few Orks they came across. As the Khan moved eastward he gathered survivors and those that had been enslaved, uniting them into a single horde that moved towards the high steppes. After months of travel this immense army invaded the dead Khagan’s empire. Few resisted, and those only blind loyalists to the deceased monarch’s heir. As the imperial capital was razed to the ground, Jaghatai became the new Khagan of Chogoris, uniting the plains and the high steppes into a single global-spanning empire.

 

While Jaghatai became Khagan, the Orks were not lax. Several warbands of the greenskins were moving toward the high steppes, killing, enslaving and plundering all before them. The primarch and his army met each and every warband, destroying one, and then quickly riding to the next to make battle. Cleansing the planet would take time, but eventually after little more than ten years of war, the Orks were all but defeated, only a fraction of their numbered remained, scattered across the world and forever hunted by warriors of the ordu.

 

The world’s capital was moved from the high steppes to Kurayed’s Quan Zhou fortress in the Khum Karta Mountains. From there Jaghatai ruled directly, for a time. It quickly became apparent to the new world ruler that he was not content to sign documents, draft laws, or decide on taxes for the remainder of his unknown lifespan. Delegating the necessary administrative duties to mortal men, the Khagan left Khum Karta to journey across all of Chogoris, speaking to his people and putting down rebellions and the occasional outbreak of greenskins.

 

For years the Khagan wandered his world, ever accompanied by guards and a personal retinue, but the gene-forged demigod was fast becoming bored. To satisfy this longing for battle and the pleasure of triumph, the primarch threw more elaborate feasts, took more and more concubines, and went on great hunts. But these too, in time, came to bore him. As the Great Khan neared despair, hope was restored when the sky started to weep once more as hundreds of warships settled into low orbit, depositing thousands of dropships. Rather than an invader, however, these were the forces of the Imperium of Man, led personally by the Emperor who detected a son of His in the star system.

 

The meeting between the Khan and the Emperor is recorded in the tale Song of the Blade, detailing the Fifth Son being brought into the Imperial fold, embracing his father, and swearing to follow Him into the stars to fight for Mankind against all that would oppose its destiny. The truth, as discovered by agents of the Inquisition in the years following the Scouring, was much different than the story told to the Imperial masses in those more glorious years. The information was discovered in the ruins of the Quan Zhou Fortress-Monastery, written in the hand of the Fifth Primarch on several scrolls, inscribed in Khorchin.

 

The first meeting between the Master of Mankind and His Son did not go as hoped. When the Emperor arrived, Jaghatai railed against joining the Imperium, seeing it as an empire akin to the deceased Palatine’s. The Emperor on the other hand was disappointed that the Fifth Son was shirking responsibilities of governance, allowing personal desires to override duty. The two were secluded in the Khan’s chambers to talk, while those few that saw the argument were sworn to silence by members of the Legio Custodes. It is unknown what passed between father and son, but when the two emerged after hours of discussion, Jaghatai had declared for the Emperor and was ready to take the mantle of Legion command.

 

Shortly after swearing allegiance to the Emperor, the Warhawk was introduced to his sons. Impressed by their record, and seeing strength in them similar to the Chogorian people, the Khagan took command of his Legion, renaming them the White Scars in honour of those who were once Kurayed’s greatest enemy and then who became their greatest ally. Their symbol would be a thunderbolt worked in gold colouring. The symbol was akin to the Emperor’s old thunderbolt sigil that He used during the Unification Wars on Terra, and some thought Jaghatai choosing it showed he was a loyal and dutiful son.

 

The Great Crusade-
As the numbers of the Fifth Legion were not large when compared to the Ultramarines, the Luna Wolves or the First Legion, Jaghatai came to the conclusion he could not fight large battles of direct confrontation with the many enemies facing the Imperium. Instead, the V was to adopt tactics learned and tempered into the primarch during his unification of the tribes, the war with the high steppes, and finally the Ork invasion. Lightning fast attacks, surgically precise strikes, cutting off supply lines, eliminating enemy commanders and more were instilled into the White Scars. As the Legion modified its tactics to suit their primarch’s wishes, many young male children on Chogoris were selected to be inducted into the Astartes ranks. Though this would greatly enlarge the V, it was not enough for the White Scars to draw solely on their new homeworld as many millions had died during the invasion, forcing the White Scars to still draw upon other worlds, primarily Terra, for almost the Great Crusade’s entirety. This would have the effect of the Fifth Legion fielding a sizable minority of non-Chogorian Astartes when the Heresy began.

 

With the Fifth Legion trained in their Khagan's way of war and fully adopting the culture of their homeworld, Jaghatai ordered his sons to re-join the Great Crusade. Within a handful of years the White Scars displayed their prowess in war, defeating all that they encountered on a hundred battlefields. Though the ivory, red, and gold armoured Space Marines brought many worlds into compliance in those years, the V was more suited, and willing, to fight xenos. Drawing upon the well of anger and distaste their primarch felt for aliens the White Scars leaped at every chance given to side-line compliance actions and take on campaigns of extermination against various alien breeds, particularly Orks. So effective were they in these missions that the Emperor all but allowed them to leave campaigns of compliance to other Legions more suited to it, giving them authorisation to combat xenos wherever they may be.

 

For most of the Great Crusade the White Scars ventured far outside Imperial space, toppling alien empires, allowing for Expeditionary Fleets following in their wake to have an easy time establishing Imperial hegemony. Despite hundreds of victories earned across the galaxy, the Fifth Legion received little in the way of recognition and noticeable lack of praise was given to them across the Imperium. To many Imperial citizens, White Scars were barbaric in appearance, similar to their Space Wolf cousins, yet lacking the popularity that Leman Russ enjoyed. While Russ fought beside many of his brothers and stood side-by-side the Emperor on multiple campaigns, the Warhawk was eliminating enemies in unknown reaches of space before they could threaten his father’s realm, destroying empires whose names are lost to history, if ever they were learned. Their deeds unnoticed, their accolades few and far between, their appearance and traditions likened to those they deemed uncultured and uncouth, the White Scars slowly became embittered as the decades progressed. The V truly became a Legion that was ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

 

Though many White Scars bore disagreement with what they saw as the Emperor’s banishment of their primarch from His Domain, the Fifth Legion could not deny the vast riches obtained in their wars of conquest.  Many a White Scar of Chogorian birth kept a chest filled with gems, trinkets and other jewels, far more than simple totems of past campaigns as was the norm in other Legions. Eventually even non-Chogorian Scars were uncomfortable with how much their brethren focused on wealth and pride, rather than honour and satisfaction of duty done.

 

During the Great Crusade, Jaghatai was friendly with several of his brothers, notably Horus and Magnus. With Magnus, Jaghatai helped establish the Librarius in several Legions, giving the Legiones Astartes a strong psyker formation. With Horus, he advised the First Found on occasion and helped him in several military operations, notably the Ullanor Crusade.

 

During said crusade, the White Scars did not participate in the opening offensive alongside the Ultramarines and World Eaters, nor did they assist in the invasion of Ullanor Prime with the Luna Wolves, Blood Angels, Imperial Fists and the Emperor. Instead of such glory, the Warhawk initiated a diversion deep in the Ullanor Sector, drawing away millions of Orks from their capital, allowing for his brothers and father to deliver the killing blow to Warboss Urlakk Urg. While his brothers reaped the glory and honour, the Khan’s contributions to the victory were largely ignored or minimised.

 

At the following Triumph, Horus Lupercal was named Warmaster, publicly raised above his brothers. To many such as Dorn, Perturabo, Fulgrim and Sanguinius this was applauded, but to some such as Angron, the Lion and Jaghatai this was cause for concern. Angron and the Lion thought they rather than Horus should have been elevated to this prestigious new rank, while Jaghatai felt the Emperor was abandoning the Great Crusade and that leaving a primarch to command other sons of the Emperor was bound to cause unnecessary strife.

 

When Jaghatai went to Horus to confide his worries, the Warmaster heatedly rebuked the Khan for his outspoken criticisms of their father and especially the Khan’s dislike of Horus’ new status. The two fell into an argument that lasted for hours. Horus argued with Jaghatai that he needed to take a more active role in governance and shaping the Imperium while Jaghatai bluntly stated he would not tame his nor his sons’ desire for autonomy and thrill of war just to become another bureaucrat chained to administration. The meeting only ended when the Warmaster was forced to order his brother to chase down several Ork remnants that had survived Ullanor and were already threatening other star systems.

 

With the Triumph ended, and Horus taking on new responsibilities, Jaghatai led the Fifth Legion into hunting down greenskin warbands that had escaped Ullanor, destroying them one by one for several years until only one remained, by far the largest and most organised, centred in a backwater system named Chondax.

 

What was projected to be a three month campaign quickly bogged down into a brutal slog. The Space Marines swiftly captured several moons over the system’s gas giants, but on Chondax itself, a volcanic world covered in ash and rivers of molten lava, the war devolved into one of attrition. No matter how many of the greenskins were killed, more simply took their place.

 

As months became years the Chondax Campaign drudged onwards. Legionnaire casualties rose and supplies steadily fell, forcing the V Legion to plunder from their own dead and butchered Orks for ammunition, armour and more. The White Scars had always faced supply difficulties as their isolationist mind-set and deep forays into unknown space had caused many a headache for Imperial resupply fleets. Such was the near-impossibility to coordinate with the Astartes Legion that the Departmento Munitorum was forced to dispatch a high-ranking officer to act as liaison between the Space Marines and the Imperial organisation. What was hoped to create a better dialogue instead caused the legionnaires to become more and more dissatisfied with what they termed “outside interference.”

 

As the war on Chondax continued, and Imperial bureaucracy involved itself more and more, the White Scars became more cynical and disillusioned. Stuck in a mire of attrition warfare, Jaghatai was unable to attend the Council of Nikaea. The humiliation Magnus and the Thousand Sons suffered there, while Librarians were allowed to continue, struck Jaghatai as hypocritical and biased on the Emperor’s part. Opinion of the Edict’s Librarian Compromise soured; not in refutation of the Edict itself as it seemed an evolution of the order Jaghatai helped found many years earlier, but the way it was implemented whilst at the same time the XV was publically criticised at the highest levels of authority. Following these events, morale began to plummet; the Khans and Noyan-Khans led their brothers into battle for desire and spoils rather than duty and pursuit of victory while Jaghatai enclosed himself in his personal chambers. It is unknown what occurred while the Great Khan was isolated deep within his flagship: the Swordstorm, but shouting and vehement rages were audible to all who passed by the primarch’s chambers though none other beside the Fifth Son was inside.

 

It was during this time that Erebus of the Word Bearers arrived, bearing a gift from Fulgrim and Lorgar. This would be the catalyst that would set the White Scars down the path of damnation.

 

Erebus sat in the centre of an Octed, praying. Prostrating himself, holy words coming from cracked lips, blood fell freely on the Eight-Pointed Star. After a moment, he rose from that position, moving towards the cell’s single view port. From here, the Word Bearer High Chaplain could see the ash-covered world of Chondax, slowly rotating on its axis. The Fifth Legion fleet was far enough away to avoid the planet’s gravitational pull, as well as any potential attack from the hundreds of thousands of Orks still fighting.

 

A flight of nine Stormbirds flew by, escorted by Fire Raptor gunships and void-fighters. Yet another Astartes foray onto Chondax, for spoils and the exhilaration of war and speed. Erebus’ face took on a smirk. Things were coming along quite nicely. The White Scars were becoming turned, slowly but surely.

 

Licking bloodied and cracked lips, already beginning to heal, he thought of his mission here. Jaghatai was to be swayed to the rebellion and directed to the path of the Dark Prince. Even now Fulgrim, Lorgar, Angron and Typhon would be revealing their loyalties on Bellanor, casting off the Golden Throne’s shackles. Erebus wished he was there, but his… failure with Horus still lingered in the Urizen’s mind.

 

When Erebus had left the 63rd Expedition Fleet, he had left it with the mission a near-total failure. Knowing to return to his primarch with the Warmaster still loyal to the Emperor would have meant death; he had stolen the key to the Vaults of Moravec from the Warmaster’s private quarters while he was being interred into a stasis pod. Damn that Garviel Loken! That key, and the primarch’s wisdom, had spared his life. To attain redemption the Aurelian ordered him to present the Chogorian primarch with the Laer blade, allowing Slaanesh’s claws to sink deeper into the Great Khan then they already were, and convince him it was more beneficial to the Fifth Legion and their beliefs for them to throw their support behind Fulgrim.

 

He stared out over the fleet, noting the enlarged engines on the warships. Apparently the rumour of the White Scars fleet having their ships’ speed enhanced was true. Their love of speed, both in the void and on the ground was apparent, nearly addictive it seemed. Several moments passed before he donned on his armour, the new crimson coloured livery that had only recently replaced the original grey seemed to drink in the glow-globe’s light.

 

A chime sounded, ringing like music. Moving towards the door, Erebus pressed the ‘open’ rune. A squad of the Khagan’s bodyguard, the Keshig, stood outside, armed and ready. An honour guard… or an execution detail? Stepping into the corridor, the Chaplain looked at the sergeant.

 

“We are to escort you to the primarch’s audience chamber, High Chaplain.”

 

The tone was cordial, respect clear in the legionnaire’s stance… but their weapons were drawn and could cut him down at any moment, for any reason.

 

“Lead the way, Darga Yeshma.”

 

The guards fell in around him, escorting him to the Khagan. Within moments he stood in the chamber with the Great Khan, who lounged on a gilded throne, appearing to be relaxed. Bejewelled serfs clothed in silk offered wine, which he accepted. Pleasantries were exchanged, several Noyan-Khans and Khans stood in attendance. Erebus noted those that were absent, notably Jemulan Noyan-Khan, Torghun Khan, and Stormseer Targutai Yesugei. 

 

A half-hour progressed before the Khagan clapped his hands together twice, booming through the chamber.

 

“Erebus of the Word Bearers Legion, come forth.” He did so, hearing the shuffling of boots behind him as they formed loose ranks, watching him, awaiting declaration. The Colchisian stood, waiting, wishing he had weapons but when faced with a primarch, it would have been less than useless. He bowed to Jaghatai and rose after a moment's pause. Straightening, he asked the question that would see him live or die within the next few minutes.

 

“Have you decided, my lord?”

 

“Ah, yes. Remain faithful to a distant Emperor of a corrupt Imperium, or join an arrogant Fulgrim and several of my brothers in rebellion.” Jaghatai retrieved the Laer sword from its scabbard, admiring its alien construction. The air was tense, the others awaiting their lord father. Jaghatai spoke.

 

“The Imperium is corrupt; Fulgrim may or may not be better as the Second Emperor. But we will be free to do as we please, to go where we want, fight whom we want, and reap the riches of the stars. No longer will we be judged or forgotten. We are the White Scars, our name will echo across the galaxy for eternity.”

 

The Great Khan pointed the alien sword toward Erebus.

 

“I will join you.”

 

Jaghatai agreed to join Fulgrim’s rebellion, knowing that the current Imperium would never allow them to be who they truly were, always suppressing their desires. With their loyalties now to the Phoenician, who at the time of their turning was initiating the Dropsite Massacre, the Khagan knew he must purge the Fifth Legion before they ventured forth into the burgeoning civil war. Calling forth the entire ordu, Jaghatai said to all his assembled sons that the time to eliminate the Ork threat on Chondax had finally come about.

 

As the White Scars readied to assault the Orks final bastion, orders came through from the primarch. Rather than deploying brotherhoods and hordes in their entirety, most of the Space Marines selected were instead squads and individual legionnaires from across the ordu. These Astartes were informed that they were chosen for the honour of the first wave. Once a landing had been secured, the rest of the White Scars were to deploy. The truth was far more terrible.

 

Thousands of White Scars, led by Jemulan Noyan-Khan of the Horde of the Earth, landed on Chondax and after hours of combat established a sufficient landing zone for the remainder of their brethren. Instead of reinforcement, death arrived. Warheads tipped with the Life-Eater Virus were fired down to onto the surface, followed by incendiary missiles, burning Chondax to a cinder. The primarch, satisfied what few of his Throne-loyal sons that survived were no longer a threat, joined the Great Heresy.

 

Heresy-
As the War Commander marched methodically towards Terra, the Fifth Legion scoured through the Imperium, sabotaging Imperial supply lines, ransacking star systems rich in wealth and resources, as well as causing the Imperium to bleed from a thousand wounds, ensuring chaos reigned across significant portions of loyalist space. Where the Warhawk ventured, many surrendered, swearing oaths to the Great Khan and the War Commander. Those that resisted were often butchered, with the survivors either tortured for entertainment or enslaved.

 

As the Fulgrimian Heresy continued, Jaghatai became haunted by nightmares far worse than ever before. Nightmares of his betrayal to the Emperor, of murdering his own sons and the hundreds of genocides and crimes committed since the Khagan flocked to the Phoenician’s banner. While doubt and internal conflict stormed within, the sword of the Laer whispered to him, promising much and hinting more. For a year and a day Jaghatai locked himself in his private quarters, communicating only with his inner circle.

 

With the Great Khan secluded, the White Scars debauchery and sadism rose to new heights. Entire worlds were murdered for simple pleasure, the legionnaires of Chogoris exhilarating in butchery whilst they rode their Land Speeders and Attack Bikes in ever faster speeds. Impulse overrode discipline, desire over duty, and uncountable billions of innocents suffered as a result.

 

As the primarch’s self-induced isolation came to an end, the Khagan emerged from his chambers haggard looking but brimming with knowledge of what to do and where to go.

 

The world was dead, storms wisped around it, its lands glassed and people murdered, butchered at the hands of barbarians. Jaghatai walked among the ruins of Tizca, once called the City of Light. Now, he thought as he looked over the rubble, it was the City of the Dead.

 

Striding through blasted buildings, and broken glass and rock strewn plazas, the White Scars Primarch and a squad of Keshig searched. What they were searching for, the Khagan was not sure, but he felt a… calling to come to Prospero. Meditating in solitude, Jaghatai had heard Magnus beckoning him here.

 

After hours of searching they discovered much, but little was of value as nothing was unscathed. Bones crunched beneath boots as the legionnaires progressed. Ruined suits of armour, bolt shells, bolters, half-burned banners, upturned husks of vehicles, and statues in various stages of destruction.

The wind picked up speed, whipping his hair. “Brother…” it whispered.

 

Turning to follow the wind, he walked through what had been Old Tizca, heading deeper into the city, away from the irradiated ocean. Hours more passed, they had to choose alternate paths heading into the city’s centre as some roads no longer existed. On the way they saw incorporeal beings, psychic shades of Prospero’s deceased citizens and defenders. They hovered nearby, vengeful ghosts, their stances hostile but they did not attack, nor make any threatening moves.

 

“My Khagan, we must relocate. We are vulnerable here,” voxed the Keshig sergeant.

 

“Be at peace, Yeshma, my brother will not harm me, nor will these ghosts.”

 

Not long after, the primarch and legionnaires found themselves in Tizca’s central plaza, the Pyramid of Photep stood haphazardly across from them.

 

“Brother… come… we have much… to discuss.” A flicker near the pyramid’s broken gates showed a giant figure in armour that flickered from crimson to blue and gold. Magnus.

 

Jaghatai went to meet with his brother’s warp echo.

 

On Prospero, Jaghatai learned much from conferring with his brother Magnus. Though the real Magnus was far away, fighting beside the War Commander, the Cyclops was using a discarded portion of his psychic might to communicate with the Fifth Primarch. During their conversation, the Crimson King told Jaghatai of what power could be attained in the Great Storm, what majesties awaited those strong-willed enough to seek it. This appealed to the Great Khan, who wanted these powers to ensure he would not be subservient to Fulgrim when he ascended to the Throne of Terra as he was to the Emperor, and these powers would make him close to the Third Primarch’s equal.

 

Before Jaghatai could depart from Prospero, the White Scars came under attack from a taskforce made up of the Death Guard and Imperial Army. While the combined XIV and Army fleet engaged the Fifth Legion’s ships, Primarch Mortarion led an attack to kill his brother. The two primarchs fought a close battle, wounding each other, but before Mortarion or Jaghatai could deliver a killing blow, more White Scar warships arrived in-system, forcing the Death Guard to retreat before they became encircled between the two traitor forces.

 

After the Second Battle of Prospero, Jaghatai told his gene-line that they would never be truly free to pursue their desires, never truly able to experience freedom attained by thrilling speed and glorious combat, unless they ventured into Hell itself to receive blessings from their dark patron. Gathering the ordu’s full might, Jaghatai led the White Scars deep into what would be known as the Eye of Terror, hounded by Perturabo for much of the way but slipping past the Iron King’s clutches before they could close shut.

 

Deep in the Eye of Terror, on an Eldar Crone World known only as the World of Immortal Sorrows the Traitor Primarch confronted his misgivings and became blessed by the Youngest God, gifted with ascension.

 

The ruins were old. Very old. The world was long dead, a home of the Eldar when their kind ruled the galaxy without question. The cities the White Scars scouted were crystalline, seemingly fragile but hard as adamantium.

 

Here and there bones could be found, but not enough to account for the world’s projected population. The sky was clear, allowing full view of the Great Storm clashing and twisting overhead. Hundreds of Legion warships were in orbit, waiting, watching; the anticipation building.

 

Jaghatai Khan, the Warhawk, Khagan of Chogoris, Great Khan of the Fifth Legion, looked for an entrance into the sub-levels of what was once a theatre. His Keshig were near him, as always, ever wary and ready to sacrifice themselves for their father. Behind them came several hundreds of Noyan-Khans, Khans, favoured sons and others chosen by their father. They were to bear witness.

 

“To your ascension,” whispered the sword’s voice.

 

The entrance was found, welded shut.

 

“Open it,” he ordered, and two Keshig complied with several melta-charges. From there they descended into the earth. Within moments soft music caught their ears. It was beautiful and sorrow-filled, both melding together at once. Clinking glass, dripping water, soft wind, these were the sounds that emanated from the walls but no speakers were visible.

 

For hours they ventured further into the dead world. After what seemed hours, the primarch and legionnaires emerged into a large cavern, with a throne in the centre. It was made of polished marble with colourful designs. The Mark of Slaanesh was on the throne’s back, glowing with baleful warp energy.

The sword whispered to him, only he could hear it, and instructed him on what to do.

 

“Bring the slaves from the Swordstorm’s cargo holds. Arrange them around the throne. Give them the drug cocktail they crave, but do not overdose. I need them brimming with ecstasy, but alive.”

 

His sons followed his orders and many hours later the cavern was filled with millions of slaves, each more lost in a drug-craze than the last. The Stormseers arranged themselves just so, spread out through the masses, their staff of office held upright. The other White Scars encircled the slaves and Stormseers, making sure all were where they should be.

 

“Sit,” whispered the voice. Jaghatai sat in the throne and felt it mould to his stature. Nodding to his warp-gifted sons, the Stormseers began to chant, almost a hymn. The mass of base humanity began to sing, adding to the hymn. Their throats soon became raw and bloody but their singing did not cease. Special oils and perfumes were released, bodies met others in sexual intercourse, and all the while the Stormseers directed their powers to enhancing all senses as high as possible. Screams of pain and pleasure resonated in the cavern, shaking it with its might.

 

“Begin,” the voice whimpered. “Now, do it now!”

 

Jaghatai opened his mind and guided the orchestra of sensation. A tear opened where he had concentrated, a gateway into the true warp. In the distance was a palace adorned in hues of every colour, favouring various pinks, purples and yellows, though all and more were represented, some colours Jaghatai had never seen before and they pleased his mind, tantalising him with their beauty. Jagged and curved spires dotted the landscape, the air heavy with exotic smells, and the ground seemingly heaving up and down as if breathing.

 

Approaching the gateway was a being of uncontested beauty, long raven black hair, curved horns rising from the head, jewels and totems hanging from them. Full breasts resided on the creature though it could not truly be called female, nor male, but a combination of the two, a union of sensation and unrivalled beauty. The being stepped through the portal into the half-mortal realm on World of Immortal Sorrows, gliding gracefully towards Jaghatai, almost serpentine-like in its movement. The mortals bowed, wept and panted heavily with the presence of such a wondrous creature before them. Blood began to pour from their mouths, nose, ears and eyes; such were their senses being overloaded.

 

The Greater Daemon raised its clawed hands, smiling as it turned to look at those that debased themselves before it. Turning to Jaghatai, it bowed deeply, respectfully.

 

“Jaghatai Khan, Chosen of the Dark Prince, I come as representative of the Youngest God, Prince of Pleasure and Pain, Mistress of Debauchery, Slaanesh the Beloved. I am Keeper of Secrets Puri’ya’kasakui.”

 

“What do you bring for me, yaksha?”

 

The daemon’s smile broadened, revealed many fangs. ”I come bearing gifts from Slaanesh, ones that will make you powerful beyond what you already are. Your senses will heighten, your prowess strengthened and your innate powers bloomed to fruition.” It extended a clawed hand, bedecked in jewels and intricate tattoos. “Come with me,” it whispered seductively. “Come experience true bliss.” The hundreds of thousands of humans cried and moaned as their bodies began to melt, fusing with others, forming new figures as their souls began to be sucked into the gateway. Streams of souls flew by the daemon like water around a rock in a river.

 

“Go with it, go, go, go!” the sword whispered urgently.

 

Rising from the throne, Jaghatai joined the daemon and together they entered the personal domain of a god.

 

It is unknown exactly what occurred on that cursed planet, but when the White Scars left the Crone World, they did so in the total worship of Slaanesh with their gene-father raised to the rank of Daemon Primarch. Now openly dedicated to a Chaos God, excess, debauchery, unspeakable horrors and more became ever more the norm for the once proud and noble Astartes. When the legionnaires of Chogoris re-emerged from the Eye of Terror months after entering they re-joined the Heresy, their crimes more heinous than before.

 

As civil war wracked the galaxy, the White Scars rarely fought beside their rebel allies, preferring to wage war independently, basking in personal glory and lack of interference from others. On occasion, however, the Fifth Legion was called to fight alongside their fellow Astartes, most notably Jaghatai assisting Fulgrim in the conquest of Molech during the war’s fifth year.

 

In the sixth year of Fulgrim’s Heresy, as the Traitor Legions neared Terra, the White Scars began to engage the Blood Angels. Bloodied, running low on supplies with a majority of their fleet in some form of damage or disrepair, the Angels of Baal were unable to decisively defeat the White Scars in open battle for months. Rather, the Fifth Legion ambushed, isolating small squadrons and causing the IX to slowly bleed itself dry as they sought sanctuary.

 

But the White Scars were becoming impatient, ever craving more riches and personal exaltation. The legionnaires were blinded by depravity, their primarch even more so. In a climactic battle between the two Legions the Blood Angels came out as a clear victor after drawing the White Scars into a trap. Thousands of the traitor legionnaires died, forcing Jaghatai to withdraw to prevent his Legion’s crippling.

 

Even as the White Scars retreated, plans to seek retribution began. The chance for such vengeance came not much later, as traitor spies reported the Blood Angels location in the Venyr System where they were repairing their ships. Not only was the IX resent, seemingly vulnerable, but so too were the First Legion led by Lion El’Jonson, whose situation was similar to their Baalite cousins. After many nights of sacrifices and communion with Slaanesh, the Great Khan ordered a swift lightning fast attack to cripple both fleets, thereby preventing them from joining the loyalists already on Terra.

 

The attack was executed flawlessly. The Fifth Legion’s warfleet emerged from the warp dangerously close to Venyr Prime. The sons of the Khagan were veterans of planetary combat, but were masters of void warfare. The traitor assault tore through both loyalist fleets, crippling or destroying nearly half in a single run. Casualties for the White Scars were heavy, but paled in comparison to what they inflicted on the two Angel Legions, forcing Sanguinius and El’Jonson to remain in the Venyr System for repairs as to leave in their current state was inviting potential catastrophe.

 

With two Loyal Legions tied down, Jaghatai heeded the War Commander’s call for the final drive towards Mankind’s birthworld. Heavy fighting followed during these closing months; the White Scars were always at the front leading the charge or striking at Imperial weak points. Such was the excessive cruelty and heinous acts of the Fifth Legion during this time that many worlds in the Segmentum Solar fell to the traitor war machine quickly, some without firing a shot. Other worlds resisted fiercely, leading to their obliteration.

 

Most devastating to Imperial morale was the destruction of Cthonia. Only days away from Terra, Fulgrim ordered that the Warmaster’s homeworld was to be murdered. Descending onto the smog-filled hive world the Sons of Fulgrim, Word Bearers and White Scars spent the next few weeks conquering the world, defeating all Imperial resistance. Once victory had been secured, the traitor legionnaires then herded the survivors into mass sacrificial rituals, powering their daemon engines and appeasing the Ruinous Powers.

 

When the Sol System’s invasion began the White Scars were at the forefront of the Eight Legions, securing void-space over Terra after the defending loyalist warships were forced into the star system’s outer halo. Jaghatai led an assault that captured the Eternity Wall Spaceport, allowing the other Legions to land en masse. After the spaceport’s capture, White Scar contribution to the Siege was minimal. Instead of helping to break through the Palace’s defences, the Warhawk’s progeny preyed upon the civilian population, killing millions and enslaving countless more. Despite the sons of Jaghatai slaughtering many Imperial Army regiments and securing vast quantities of war material and riches, their lack of participation in the Siege and ignoring all commands issued by the War Commander vexed Fulgrim to no end.

 

Predation over the Terrans continued largely unopposed until the arrival of the Raven Guard after the Ultimate Gate fell. The Raven’s sons fought the Khan’s throughout the globe, defending civilians and rallying the surviving Army divisions to resist the traitors. Across Terra hundreds of battles and skirmishes were fought between the Raven Guard and the White Scars, with no clear victor overall. The Raven Guard’s guerrilla warfare plagued traitor supply efforts, while the White Scars lightning attacks made the XIX cautious in their approach and disposition.

 

On the ninety-fifth day of the Siege Fulgrim’s attempt to kill the Emperor failed and the War Commander perished, following his death so too did the rebellion. The Third Legion was the first to flee from Terra, demoralised and broken after their primarch’s death. Right on their heels were the White Scars. With news of Fulgrim’s demise spreading like wildfire, Jaghatai ordered the retreat. The Siege of Terra was over, the Great Heresy lost.

 

Scattered Wind-
As the Great Scouring began a year after Terra’s Siege, the V did not join the Syndicate Chaotica. Rather than risk death defending worlds of little value to them, the White Scars preferred pillaging vast swathes of undefended Imperial territory, their disdain for static defence developing due to its lack of freedom of movement, thus denying them of significant sensory enrichment. It was rare for Imperial squadrons to corner a raiding fleet of Jaghatai’s, as the ships were able to outmanoeuvre and outrun many of their pursuers.

 

As the Imperium slowly stabilised and reasserted its authority over rebellious worlds, attention turned from reclamation to retribution. The Third Legion’s homeworld was the first to be attacked by those carrying the Aquila. Following Chemos’ destruction, the Warmaster moved to eliminate the threat of Chogoris. Lacking the vast domains many Legions held, the White Scars used their homeworld as their only significant base of operations. Realising this, and wanting to seek revenge on the Khan for his treachery and genocide of Cthonia, Horus Lupercal led a vast armada made up of elements from the Imperial Fists, Death Guard and his own Sons of Horus.

 

Caught by surprise, and lacking much of their armada as they were out on raids, the Fifth Legion attempted to mount a defence but outnumbered and outgunned, the end result was assured. After breaking through the orbital defences, tens of thousands of loyalist Space Marines landed on Chogoris. What they found disgusted them. The landscape had been changed with Slaanesh’s touch, so too were the fauna and flora. Everything existed to bring joy and agony, and enhance sensation to euphoric levels. Many Astartes ruled their own villages, attended to by mortals, their every whim serviced with blind glee.

 

Most of the planet was conquered in days with relative ease, the traitors focusing their efforts in the mountains of Khum Karta. The Khagan hoped to hold off the Imperials long enough for his fleets to return and balance out the military disparity. This hope would be dashed away as the Warmaster ordered the Imperial Fists to initiate a siege of the traitors’ fortress-monastery, drawing many White Scars away from the inner precincts of Jaghatai’s palace.

 

With air and void superiority secured, Horus and Mortarion led a speartip drop-pod assault. The Warmaster and Death Lord fought their way to Jaghatai’s throne room. What they found within was not the brother they once knew, but a daemon within Emperor-forged and Slaanesh-blessed flesh. The two loyal primarchs fought their damned brother as more and more Sons of Horus and Death Guard landed in the heart of Quan Zhou.

 

Despite being a Daemon Primarch, Jaghatai was outmatched facing Mortarion’s endurance and Horus’ fury. Both primarchs suffered wounds, but their corrupted sibling was killed in the material plane, his soul banished to the warp for centuries. With their gene-sire exiled from the mortal realm, albeit temporarily, the White Scars fled their homeworld, suffering grievous losses in doing so. The three Legions invading Chogoris destroyed many traitor starships, but the White Scars modified engines allowed most to escape. Authorisation for Exterminatus was given, but not before a small team of Inquisitors scoured the vaults and records of Quan Zhou, searching for reasons why the Khan betrayed his father. The information gathered there, at great peril to the Inquisitors in question, informed the Imperium’s leaders of what really happened during the initial meeting between father and son, and the Warhawk’s discontent and corruption in the years that followed.

 

With nothing remaining in the Imperium for them, the White Scars left for the Eye of Terror, a relative safe haven for their traitorous ilk. On a Daemon World, near the Eye’s centre, the Khan awaited his scions, gifting them a world in the image of Chogoris named T’Ko’Shaar, moulded by the will of Jaghatai and Prince of Desire. Despite the Khagan choosing to reside permanently on T’Ko’Shaar, alongside his Keshig bodyguard, the V have largely become a fleet-based Legion, hesitant about establishing themselves on planetary bodies as the memories of their homeworld’s fall remained too fresh in numerous minds. While most White Scars often visit their new daemon-homeworld, either to gift the Khagan with vast and unique riches, resupply and rearm, or experience all a Slaanesh-crafted world can offer, their stay is always temporary, as those that stay too long are prone to become lost in depravity and remain behind to ride their Attack Bikes across the endless plains for years.

 

The V participated in the Legion Wars, the internecine traitor war that seared hot for centuries before simmering. The White Scars, like the other Traitor Legions when not fighting each other, hunted down the Sons of Fulgrim with little remorse, only tolerating those Sons that were part of the Sect of Slaanesh, even allowing some of those legionnaires to join the ordu, forever shunning their old loyalties for new ones. Among the III, this was looked down upon as cowardice and blood-treachery.

 

The relationship between the dead Arch-Traitor’s own and the bike riders of Jaghatai only improved with the ascension of Tyberius Sakaeron. The Second War Commander assisted his Chogorian allies, and they in turn assisted him, allowing for a largely mutual alliance to be born. This does not mean the two Legions do not fight, far from it, but the acts of violence have lowered significantly since the end of the III’s Succession War. To refocus their attention and insatiable desires War Commander Sakaeron enlisted the help of the White Scars in his Vengeance Crusades, striking deep behind Imperial lines, ensuring that anarchy reigned across entire sectors behind the Iron Cage while at the same time Sakaeron struck at the Fortress Worlds barring his invasion of the Imperium proper. In between the Crusades, various Khans and Noyan-Khans have led their warbands into the Imperium for pillaging and raiding, known as ‘hunts’ to the Chaos White Scars. These hunts keep the Fifth Legion resupplied, as their ability to repair and create new suits of armour, vehicles, and more is severely handicapped by their lack of resources and skill, an unforeseen side effect of the Legion’s autonomy during the Great Crusade and mistrust of Imperial administration and assistance. This lack of ability to produce new equipment has made the Scars very effective at looting and forces them to continuously raid Imperial depots.

 

For ten Crusades only a fraction of the ordu’s multiple warbands took part, but as the 41st Millennium comes to a close and the Eleventh Crusade nears, Jaghatai ordered that the full might of his Legion would join. It is rumoured in the highest tiers of the Inquisition and High Lords that Jaghatai has left T’Ko’Shaar for the first time in a thousand years to take direct command of his legionnaires, who ready themselves for what is believed amongst many in their ranks to be the beginning of the Long War’s final campaign.

 

Combat Doctrine-
The combat doctrine of the Fifth Legion, even before the discovery of their gene-sire, focused on highly mobile warfare, something many other Legions spat upon as cowardly and dishonourable but the Scars’ war-records show time after time that their methods prove quite effective. With Jaghatai’s arrival it only became enhanced, with a focus on lightning fast attacks, followed by prompt withdrawals to confuse the enemy.

 

Distancing themselves from the mass warfare of the IV and X, the martial savagery of the XII, the doctrinal and organisational skill of the XIII and the speartip of the XVI, Jaghatai’s scions prefer to whittle down at the enemy, drawing them out into ambushes, flanking attacks, supply raids and more to wear down at an enemy until they are vulnerable to annihilation.

 

The Scars do not see retreat as dishonourable; rather they see it as an acceptable strategy to reform, repair and ready themselves for future conflicts. Many a time the White Scars have left the field of battle, only to return later better prepared and more determined, snatching victory from overconfident Imperials.

 

‘Withdraw, then return,’ is a hallmark of the White Scars method of war.

 

Daemons are also frequently summoned by Stormseers to assist in battle, usually overwhelming the defending contingent through sheer volume of daemons. This allows even small brotherhood-warbands to cause extensive damage.

 

Organisation-
Since Jaghatai took command of his genome, the adoption of Chogorian traditions and cultural traits began. One notable aspect of this is the V’s organisational structure. The brotherhood, what is known in other Legions as a company, became the backbone of how the White Scars formed their Legion, which they often call the ordu. These were led by Khans, in respectful imitation of their primarch’s title. Above these captain equivalents are Chapter Masters, styled Noyan-Khans, whom lead a collection of brotherhoods known as hordes.

 

Since their fall to Chaos and subsequent heavy losses suffered during the Heresy, Scouring and Slave Wars, brotherhoods rarely number a thousand Space Marines as was once the norm, with only a select few Khans or Noyan-Khans being able to field Space Marines matching or surpassing a thousand, usually through a combination of charisma, cunning leadership, not to mention power gifted to them from their father or patron.

 

Organised hordes have entirely disappeared as a permanent unit since the Legion’s arrival to the Eye. Though formations called hordes are assembled occasionally, led by charismatic and powerful individuals that usually but not always are Noyan-Khans, these are often short-lived, with fracturing of a horde occurring either through the commander’s death, incompetence or when a hunt has ended. The Imperium’s various intelligence services, particularly the Inquisition, have acquired through exhaustive efforts a vast amount of information on the current most dominating warlords within the Fifth Legion’s ranks. Numbering dozens, these Space Marines are heralds of death and despair wherever the Emperor’s Light reigns supreme. Some, such as Hasik Noyan-Khan and Shiban Khan are notorious for their foul deeds and rank amongst Jaghatai’s most prized sons.

 

An interesting designation within the White Scars is that of Master of the Hunt. The Master of the Hunt is a single legionnaire chosen by the primarch, sent on missions of incredible risk. More often than not, he tasked with hunting down specific opponents that have proven a nuisance to the Legion. Created during the Heresy, the Master of the Hunt became the Great Khan’s personal headsman. In between primarch-ordained missions, the Space Marine scours the galaxy in the attempt to discover worthy enemies to kill for primarch and god. These Chaos warriors are noted for assassinating many Imperial commanders and leaders on a campaign’s eve, crippling Imperial forces. It has been noted through the years that the traitor bearing the dreaded title are incredibly difficult to kill, their bodies healing far more quickly than is the norm for Astartes physiology, becoming ever stronger. The only known way to permanently end a Master of the Hunt’s life is to decapitate and immediately burn the body with sanctified promethium.

 

The latest Master of the Hunt is called Kor’sarro Khan, known more notoriously by daemons and mortals alike as Doomrider. Fifty-first Master of the Hunt, Kor’sarro has held the position longer than any that came before him, serving the Great Khan and Slaanesh in this manner for nearly three centuries. His most recent actions, known as quests amongst his brethren, have destabilised several Tau colonies bordering Imperial territory. The Tau, in their ignorance, believes the Doomrider to be of the Emperor’s Adeptus Astartes, causing the never ending border skirmishes between the two empires to escalate into large-scale warfare. As Tau soldiers wrongly invade Imperial space in numbers not seen since the Damocles Gulf Crusade and encroach on the Iron Cage containing the Maelstrom, the Imperium can ill afford to send suitable reinforcements to stop the xenos invasion as its resources and attention are focused elsewhere.

 

Recruitment-
The White Scars have ever been a small force when compared to their fellow Legions. Never numbering more than eighty thousand at their peak during the Great Crusade’s end, the V decreased to approximately seventy thousand following their purge on Chondax.

 

After the exodus to the Eye following the rebellion’s defeat and its ensuing death throes, the White Scars numbered barely a third of their former pre-Heresy strength. But the White Scars have endured, and have become the stronger for it, for their current numbers surpass the amount that had first sworn oaths of loyalty to the Arch-Traitor.

 

The legionnaires that oversee the arduous process of turning a human child into a transhuman monster are the Fleshweavers. Part Apothecary, part Chaplain, these surgeons and spiritual contaminators choose new Aspirants from the vast slave population the Legion maintains, choosing only the strongest and those that can accept the primarch’s blood and touch of Slaanesh.

 

As was done when the Legion fought for the Imperium, the difficult training and traditions, including the ritual scarification that gives them their name, continue to this day, ensuring that despite the White Scars numbers unable to rise meteorically only the deadliest don the armour of legionnaire.

 

As almost all of the Legion’s new blood are enslaved children taken in hunts or born on the Legion's warships, uncommon is it for an Aspirant to come from the few worlds the White Scars control, as warp taint mutates the genetic structure of mortals, making compatibility with Jaghatai’s gene-seed rare.

 

Homeworld-
Chogoris had been a jewel within the cosmos. Vibrant blue oceans, imposing mountains and endless grass-covered plains revealed a spartan yet undeniable beauty to any who gazed upon it. Chogoris had been the home of the White Scars for well over a century when destruction came to it. Following that defeat, the primarch settled himself in daemon-form onto T’Ko’Shaar, gifted to him by the Dark Prince. It is here where the primarch has lived for ten millennia, only leaving it on occasion for a hunt into the Imperium, though as the centuries progressed this became more and more of a rarity.

 

Beliefs-
The White Scars have longed pursued enrichment, whether it be sensory in nature or martial prowess. As the Scars fell to the corrupting influence of the Youngest God, their former honour and justness became twisted into foul parodies.

 

For ten thousand years the Fifth Legion has been the chosen instruments of Slaanesh, their descent into depravity and hedonism have made the White Scars a terror across the stars. It is not uncommon for White Scar Astartes to bear Mark of Slaanesh alongside the winged thunderbolt of the Legion.

 

Since their relocation to the Eye, the White Scars have prophesised a final invasion of the Imperium, one in which it will be conquered and moulded anew to accept the Traitor Legions as the paragons of Mankind that the rebel Space Marines know themselves to be. Almost all call Sakaeron’s latest invasion the Eleventh Vengeance Crusade, but the V know it simply as both the Final Hunt and the Great Hunt.

 

Gene-seed-
The Legions gene-seed has degraded over the millennia, though sensory feedback has been greatly enhanced. The pleasure centres of the brain have been expanded to better compensate for potential sensory overload. The various Space Marine organs have experienced varying amounts of mutation, but do perform adequately enough to function.

 

Battlecry-
The White Scars battlecry has evolved since their switch of allegiance. Common battlecries are “For the Khan and Slaanesh!” “For the Khagan!” and “For the Great Khan!” but as the Eleventh Vengeance Crusade nears its initiation, chants of “The Great Hunt comes!” and “The Final Hunt awaits!” are often spoken aloud eagerly.


Edited by Tanner151, 24 October 2017 - 12:50 AM.

War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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The Heir

“Karaashi Station Command, this is Stormbird A-7, carrying First Captain Julius Kaesoron. We are on approach. Do we have authorisation to enter local space, over?”

 

“Copy, Stormbird A-7,” came the expected response. “Your flight plan has been updated. Proceed to Hangar Bay Four, over.”

 

“Copy, Station Command. We are proceeding.”

 

The dropship’s pilot turned to face his commander. “Sir, we will be docking in approximately four minutes.”

 

“Acknowledged,” responded Kaesoron. The pilot turned his full attention back to the controls, while Kaesoron stared out the void-shield at the massive behemoth of a space station that dominated the view-screen. He had only been here three times since its construction, and each and every time the sight of Karaashi Station was impossing.

 

It had the ruggedness and functionality typical of Iron Hand designs, but it had sheer power forged into it. Designed by Ferrus Manus himself in the years following the mass exodus of the Traitor Legions and their allies to the Eye of Terror after the Imperium’s Great Scouring, it was a symbol of unchanging strength and iron resolution. For being in the Eye it was, simply, perfect.

 

But its grand appearance paled in comparison to the reason why Kaesoron was coming to it for the fourth time in three centuries. This station held a very important significance in the Eye: it was neutral territory.

 

Oh there were dozens of worlds, asteroids, ships, stations and the like that was considered “neutral ground” throughout the Eye, but only this was considered the neutral ground for all of the Traitor Legions, even those that did not call the warp-storm home. From Angron’s gladiators to Lorgar’s preachers, this was considered safe territory, free of the warfare that plagued the Storm and its inhabitants.

 

Here, representatives from two or more Legions or warbands could discuss matters in as cordial a manner as it was possible in Hell. The Iron Hands that manned the station, personally chosen by their primarch, were to enforce the rules set down by him:

 

1.  The commanding Iron Hand officer held rank over all others within the station, barring primarchs.

 

2.  No more than one warship from any faction was allowed to enter the star system, unless given approval by Manus.

 

3.  A faction representative could bring no more than four honour guards on board the station.

 

4.  Only melee weapons were allowed by members not of the Tenth Legion; no ranged weapons.

 

5.  No violence was to occur without the consent of the Iron Hand commanding officer.

 

Treaties were made and broken here. Alliances developed and shattered in those bland, grey halls. It allowed what was to occur today a reality. The council of a dying Legion was soon to begin.

 

The first three councils had been over various topics. The first had been an attempt to select a Legion Master, which failed miserably, leading to the formal fracturing of the Third Legion into hundreds of independent warbands. This began the Succession War.

 

The second had been an attempt to end the Succession War a century later, which also failed miserably. Their losses in that war, which continued to the present, had allowed them to become weak, easy targets.

 

The third had taken place shortly after the World Eaters attacked Falzyer, leading to the Legion Wars. In the decades prior to the Legion Wars there had been dozens of skirmishes and conflicts between Legions but nothing larger than a company or warband. The Razing of Falzyer changed that, leading to two centuries of constant war on a scale similar to the Heresy. War that was seeing the slow extinction of the III, he thought sadly.

 

If only Fulgrim had killed the Emperor and ascended to throne. Then, the Sons of Fulgrim would be the warrior-scions of the most powerful being in the galaxy; a general, a primarch… a god. Alas, it was not to be so. The Emperor killed the War Commander and the Traitor Legions fled from Terra, broken and defeated.

 

Kaesoron shook his head in remembrance. Now was not the time. Later, perhaps he could meditate and contemplate further, but not now.

 

Since the Slave Wars began there had been no council here. None held, much less attended, by any warband-companies that comprised the remnants of the Third Legiones Astartes, at least. So when the call for council came, it was a genuine surprise. Leaving his warband to his second-in-command, Kaesoron had taken his flagship and rushed to the unnamed star system that the Karaashi Space Station resided in.

 

After a three week journey, though it was hard to tell in the Eye, he emerged from the warp into real-space. To be greeted by close to one hundred warships. Some were battered frigates, others fully functional battle-barges. These were the ships that carried their warband’s commander.

 

Kaesoron had done a quick count and knew that dozens of warbands and their leaders were missing. Either they had chosen not to attend or were not invited for various reasons, it did not matter. This before him was the true representation of what leadership the Sons of Fulgrim still had amongst its ranks.

 

If it were not for the reason the council had been called, Kaesoron would not have attended. But with a new threat, an unknown threat at that, emerging in the Eye of Terror, targeting only Third Legion warbands, it was the wisest, and dare he think it, honour-bound course of action available to them.

 

Stormbird A-7 entered Hangar Bay Four quickly and efficiently. Kaesoron was late, and he wanted the talks to begin immediately. The ramp lowered with infinite slowness, at least to him, but when it lowered enough he strode out onto the barren plasteel deck.

 

A welcoming party of Iron Hand legionnaires awaited him. They saluted and bowed their heads in respect, momentarily. One approached Kaesoron, his appearance signalling him to be an Iron Father. This particular blend of Techmarine and Chaplain was known to Kaesoron, for they had served together during the Heresy.

 

“It is good to see you, Sabik,” spoke Kaesoron as he approached the black armoured Astartes.

 

Sabik Wayland nodded in respect. “The feeling is mutual, First Captain.”

 

As always when someone spoke his official rank, he winced slightly. What was he a first captain of? Nothing more than a broken, dying gene-line where he held little power outside his own warband, it was an embarrassment for him to be called ‘First Captain’. Even during the Great Crusade and Heresy, his power had often been side-lined by the Lord Commanders, especially Eidolon, making Kaesoron effectively powerless in the Third’s strictly set and designed hierarchy. But he could not admit such weakness, especially to one not of the Third Legion.

 

“Follow me.” Sabik turned around and began striding towards the council chamber. Kaesoron and his four bodyguards followed, the Iron Hand honour guard bringing up the rear.

 

It took nearly twenty-eight minutes before they made it to the audience chamber’s doors.

 

“Ready?” asked Lycaon, his Equerry, one of the four bodyguards he had brought.

 

“Always,” he replied confidently.

 

Sabik took this as a cue and pushed open the doors, and stepped forth, bringing his iron-encased staff upon the ground, the sound echoing in the chamber.

 

“First Captain Julius Kaesoron, commander of the Knights of Chemos Warband, enters.”

 

Kaesoron stepped forward, his men three steps behind as was protocol. All eyes turned towards him. Some were respectful, and some were uncaring, while others were filled with hate. The eyes of Eidolon burned that way.

 

After a few seconds, the attention turned back to mingling with each other. Generally, captains talked to captains, lord commanders talked to lord commanders with other ranks being side-lined. Instead of moving off to talk to the lord commanders, whom he viewed as a general rule as arrogant even for a son of Fulgrim, he made his way to the outskirts, where low-ranking captains and lieutenant commanders made their talk.

 

Fulgrim had once told him that the most important information was not always at the heart of things. It was a statement proven true time and time again, he found. His guards remained behind, near the wall, hands on blades though forbidden to draw them. Kaesoron was not worried. Every warlord’s guard detail in here was doing the same after all.

 

Kaesoron’s eyes swept the room, noting the warlords present. Captain Tyrion of the Black Sons Warband was talking to Xiander and Hellespon, captains both and leaders of their own warbands. Lord Commanders Anteus and Cyrius were in deep discussion, their movements curt and demeanour sour. He had heard that their two forces had suffered heavily in the last six months against the unknown threat.

 

He saw dozens of high-ranking officers, warriors he had not seen in decades or centuries, yet here they were. Brought together by fear; how low the Third had fallen.

 

As he made his way through the crowd, he saw Marius Vairosean, commander of the Kakophoni Warband, standing idly with several other officers. Kaesoron noticed that all of them were devotees of Slaanesh. While the bulk of the Third Legion followed their gene-sire in becoming adherents to Chaos Undivided, some within the III chose one of the Four Gods of Chaos. These sects were generally quite small, but the Sect of Slaanesh was several thousand strong at the height of its power. Recently, it had fallen onto hard times, but still retained enough strength to be a considerable power bloc within the Legion.

 

Vairosean saw him and smiled a predator’s smile, his teeth filed and skin stretched. He was a monster. Not a warrior, but a pleasure and pain seeking monstrosity. Frowning, he moved on, wishing that the entire Slaaneshi Sect would leave, never to return. Perhaps they could join the multitude of V Legion warbands roaming the void. After all, they shared a god.

 

Something caught his eye as he continued to move further into the crowd. Four Astartes were adorned in Tactical Dreadnought Armor. He noticed they flew the banner of the Flawless Host, Eidolon’s warband. Typical, thought Kaesoron. To have a set of Terminator Armor, let alone four, was a display of a warlord’s power. Kaesoron himself had eleven, though eight were in use by his Knights in various battlefields. Out of his bodyguard, only his equerry did not sport one as he had little to no training in one. The three that did wear the armour were veterans all.

 

Kaesoron’s spies had reported that Eidolon could field over a score of the precious suits. How he held so many baffled Kaesoron, though as Lord Commander of the First Millennial it was not too hard to fathom where they came from. If one were to truly reunite the Third Legion, there would only be a scant few more than a hundred, such was the state of Fulgrim’s gene-line.

 

Shrugging, he continued.

 

Servants, dressed in Tenth Legion colours, moved to and fro, providing food and drink. Kaesoron took a green coloured wine and sipped. Sweet and tasty, with an unforgettable aftertaste; he raised an eyebrow as he recognized the vintage: Chemosian Perfection. Impressive, the Iron Hands must have had several bottles on board.

 

It might be the last remaining bottles of the fine drink left in the galaxy, its particular grapes having died when Chemos burned. Very impressive indeed, he thought. Glancing at Sabik he raised his glass in appreciation. The Medusan nodded politely before moving to another set of doors on the opposite side of the chamber. These led into the council chamber itself.

 

As he moved through the crowd, Kaesoron heard whispers as he walked by.

 

“…I heard three ships are missing, no wreckage.”

 

“Impossible, there must have been some.”

 

“Not from what my Techmarines concluded. I even had my Dark Mechanicum Adept enact a scan. His results mirrored mine. It’s as if those ships disappeared into thin air.”

 

Kaesoron moved far enough away to where even his hearing could not divulge the responding whisper. To stop in mid-stride would have been seen as suspicious so he continued.

 

More whispers from others followed.

 

“…I lost thirty-two brothers in that action…”

 

“A Word Bearer Host engaged a White Scar raiding fleet recently. It was quite successful for the XVII…”

 

“The World Eaters broke through Kallyn’s Gate and slaughtered Charmosian and his warband, all ninety-two of them.”

Informative for sure, but already known to him via his spies, therefore he continued. He trudged on, wanting to find something interesting to grab his attention.

 

“An Alpha Legion strike force ambushed a Night Lord convoy, taking nearly four million slaves.”

 

Alpha Legion? Night Lord? In the Eye? While it wasn’t unheard of, it was certainly rare. Out of the Eight Legions that rebelled, all but the VIII and the XX made the Eye their home. The VIII resided on a world they imaginatively called the World of Shadows, far outside Imperial borders, but close though not inside the Eye. This proximity allowed their terror-fleets to reap glory and prizes within the Storm.

 

But the Alpha Legion… they almost never came into the Storm, preferring to move constantly throughout the Imperium and staying isolated from the others in their secret, unknown homeworld. Their actions almost always bred more questions than answers.

 

While indeed quite interesting, the next piece of news he heard is what drew him to three officers talking to each other.

 

“…that’s right. Three star systems in as many weeks. Felker II, Mediah, and Exxastes Minor, all Imperial.”

 

Kaesoron placed himself beside the three Astartes, two were centurions and another was a captain.

 

“You took three Imperial worlds, you say?

 

The one that spoke, boasted really, turned and eyes widened at who he saw. Kaesoron could see the centurion wanting to turn around and properly salute and address a superior officer. Discipline and respect for rank ran deep in the III, even in its current state. But the Legion was a Legion in name only, and the centurion had neither reason nor expectation to salute.

 

Instead a single bob of the head was all that was given. “Aye, Fi- Kaesoron.”

 

“That is impressive. What did you gain from these worlds?”

 

The centurion’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Seven cargo ships, millions of tons of unprocessed ore, and two hundred and thirty-one thousand slaves,” was the answer.

 

“Ah, that is less impressive.” Before the centurion fumed, he continued, “But, you did more damage to the Imperium in three weeks than I have done in three centuries. So, congratulations, Centurion-”

 

“Thadam, Kaesoron, Centurion Thadam, Silver Spears Warband.”

 

“Hmm. Wasn’t the Silver Spears led by Lieutenant Commander Jex?”

 

“It was until he took a daemon’s blade to the cranium.”

 

“That does have a way of preventing continued leadership.”

 

A grunt of humour left Thadam’s throat, almost against his will at the dry joke.

 

A proper response was in development when a loud echo rang through the room three times.

 

Kaesoron turned his head to see Sabik standing in front of the now opened chamber doors. “Officers of the Third, the time has come for the council to commence. Proceed to the chamber behind me.”

 

Kaesoron and the other largely purple-and-gold Astartes made their way to the directed chamber. The bodyguards of the officers and warlords would wait until their commanders had seated themselves before entering the room.

 

As the First Captain passed Sabik, his Medusan acquaintance leaned and whispered, “Make the right choice, Julius. You need to.”

 

Before he could question the Iron Father, Kaesoron was surged forward by the press of Astartes behind him. The chamber was large, with simple stone thrones spread throughout. The speaking floor was in the centre, with the stone thrones rising from it. The higher the rank or more powerful the warband, the closer you sat to the bottom floor, near the speakers and the Iron Judge.

 

Kaesoron made his way to a seat where the lord commanders and several high-ranking, veteran captains were taking their seats. Eidolon and his detail looked at Kaesoron with disgust and sat down as far from him as possible, which might have been unwise due to forcing them to stare at one another from across the circular chamber.

 

Within minutes, everyone was seated and, from a signal from the Officer of Guard, the chamber quietened. The Iron Judge, representative and voice of Ferrus Manus on the Station rose from his own, raised throne.

 

“This council hereby begins. As befitting this office, I will declare the reason for this meeting and then ask for several officers here to speak of the recent losses suffered by their forces these past months from an unknown enemy. Is this acceptable?”

 

All nodded or murmured agreement.

 

“Good.” The Iron Judge looked around the room. “This meeting, called for assembly by Captain Gaeus of the Sublime Stalwarts Warband, is to discuss and figure out the enemy behind the attacks on several Third Legion warbands, leading to significant loss in supplies, slaves, armaments and Astartes.”

A pause followed this. Many did not know who had called for the council, nor had any heard of a Captain Gaeus.

 

“Captain Gaeus, you have the floor.”

 

An Astartes adorned in armour that was in pristine condition, unlike the vast majority of his peers, descended the steps to the floor. In the centre of an Octed symbol, he began to speak.

 

“Many of you do not know me, this is no surprise. Last time a council was called, I was but a lowly battle-brother. Now, I am captain, successor to Captain Herven, former commander of the Sublime Stalwarts. He died against this unknown threat, he and fourteen of his warriors. The survivors now follow me. But I am not here to speak of this threat, not in the way you anticipate.

 

“Instead, what I am here for is…” Gaeus took a breath.

 

“…your submission.”

 

The room erupted into chaos.

 

---

 

“Order! Order in this chamber! Disruption will see you banned from this Station if you continue!” bellowed the Iron Judge, using a worn but stout metal hammer to quieten the room through its repeating thumping against the Judge’s desk. Eventually the room quietened but the underlying anger rose higher and higher.

 

“Submission?!” barked Eidolon. “You must be mad, captain,” he snarled the word. “You have neither the prestige nor rank to even broach that subject.”

“It is not I who demands your submission, but rather the Heir of Fulgrim, whom I am honoured to speak for at this council.”

 

The Heir of Fulgrim, thought Kaesoron, hmm, someone is playing a dangerous game with that name. While the succession to Fulgrim had been contested for the past few centuries, none had dared used the title of ‘Heir.’ It made it almost seem like a legitimate claim, something anathema to a broken Legion led by madmen, demagogues, and pirates.

 

“The Heir?” Harsh laughter erupted from Commander Galliad of the Seven Swords Warband. “None have the right to claim that title.” The legionnaire officer looked around the chamber, contemplating. “I see you have brought nought but a fool’s statement here today, Gaeus. You have wasted our time, boy.”

 

Galliad looked around him again. “I say we kill him, send his head back to this ‘Heir’ of his.”

 

Several Space Marines nodded their agreement at this, noted Kaesoron.

 

Gaeus’ bodyguard descended from their position to establish a protective circle around their lord. Spears readied, with swords close at hand.

Half a dozen warlords stood and laughed at the young captain.

 

“You will not make it out of here alive, Gaeus,” tutted Eidolon. “But, before you leave, who is this Heir Pretender?” The question froze everyone, intent as they were to find out who had been attacking them.

 

Gaeus’ jaw clenched, he was intent not to reveal the name, but an armoured gauntlet rested upon his shoulders by one of his guards. Surprisingly, the captain bowed and took the guard’s spear and took position.

 

Kaesoron leaned forward in his throne, studying the “guard.”

 

He was average height, bulk, and carried himself confidently and he seemed to… emit power, but not be overwhelming with it. More subtle, more dangerous, he thought.

 

“I am the Heir of Fulgrim,” declared the Astartes, his helm’s speaker’s distorting his voice, yet there was something familiar there. Something he had not heard in a long time, a familiar voice that his memory muddled due to the ebb of time.

 

“You? Ha! You do not appear to be much,” sneered Galliad as he walked down the stone stairs to stand on equal ground. His own guards behind him, two of whom were Terminators.

 

“Why should we not kill you where you stand?” asked Galliad.

 

“Because I bring the promise of victory and unity,” spoke the Astartes.

 

Victory and unity; such lofty words, filled with forgotten dreams and broken promises. Those words were usually associated with the hubris of the past, of fading ideals that no longer resonated within the Phoenician's sons. Those dual-ideals, those concepts of victory and unity died in the Imperial Throne Room. It died when their gene-sire was killed by the Emperor’s fiery blade and psychic might.

 

Before the stunned Galliad could speak, Kaesoron stood. After receiving approval from the Iron Judge he stepped onto the floor.

 

“A question if I may, Heir. What victory and unity is this, hmm? Is it victory in the Succession War, victory in the Legion Wars? Unity of the Legion, I gather? These have been attempted before and all have failed. We are being bled dry by those that we once called allies. Our fortresses number few, our fleets pale reflections of what once was, and our brotherhood is shattered like a poorly made sword. We are cursed.”

 

Kaesoron stood in front of the Astartes, trying to discern the identity behind those red eye-lenses.

 

The Astartes responded, “What you say is true, of that I will not deny. Our brotherhood is shattered, broken into hundreds of pieces. However,” he turned slowly to look at all before him, his voice carrying easily through the chamber, “it can be renewed in the flames of war. The Succession War will end, it is inevitable. The Legion Wars will never truly end, but they can wane and be contained. We can survive this, stronger than before and emerge like a phoenix from the ashes of old, more perfect and more dedicated to our one true goal.”

 

“Which is?” asked the First Captain.

 

“Vengeance.”

 

Silence reigned. The emotion, the intent, the hate built into that word could only mean vengeance against the empire that they created.

 

“You’re insane,” spoke Galliad, disbelievingly. “The Imperium has recovered from the Heresy, its borders defended by the Iron Cages, protected by countless billions of Guardsman and over two hundred Space Marine Chapters. Not to mention it has several primarchs alive and well, vigilantly protecting the False Emperor’s Domain. It has the resources, the manpower, and the will to forever keep us out. There is simply nothing we can do against that! Nothing but raid and pillage undefended star systems and small squadrons of warships! Our best chance was washed away when our father died.”

 

The Heir looked at the disbelieving Space Marine and shook his head. “I knew you to be weak, Galliad, but I never knew you to be a coward.” Faster than the eye could properly track, the Heir pulled a throwing knife from a scabbard across his chest. He threw the sharp blade, it darted across the room, impaling deep into Galliad’s skull, killing him instantly. The leader of the Seven Swords fell to his knees and after a moment, fell face down, blood spreading from the corpse.

 

The chamber was shocked. The warlord’s guards looked at their fallen commander with mute disbelief. A death had been caused and without permission from the Iron Judge. This had never happened before. Not even a Berserker of the World Eaters or a psychopath of the Night Lords would do something so foolish, so brazen. Many looked towards the dozens of Iron Hand legionnaires that circled the room, arms carrying bolters and waists carrying combat blades, swords and axes.

 

All were held at ease, none moved to arrest the Heir.

 

Realisation dawned on Kaesoron. This was planned in conjunction with the Iron Tenth. “Who are you?” he moved closer. The Heir’s guards turned to meet him, but the Heir motioned them aside.

 

“Who are you?” he repeated.

 

The Heir looked at Kaesoron for several seconds. Hands went to the helmet’s neck seals, unlocking them. Pressurised air hissed at it was released. When the helm was lifted off, the face of the warrior beneath the helm was easy to recognise. He had been Lord Commander of the Second Millennial during the Heresy and had schemed and stole from his brothers over Chemos when the Scouring’s fires of retribution roared through the Imperium. Kaesoron heard mutters of, “Impossible,” “It can’t be,” “He’s supposed to be dead,” and so forth. Eidolon hissed the legionnaire’s rightfully earned moniker, “Deceiver.”

 

As the Heir mag-locked the helm to his belt, Kaesoron stared into the violet eyes of Tyberius Sakaeron.

 

“It is I, brother. Surprised to see me?” Sakaeron lips twitched in genuine humour. Turning to look at the assembly around him, he spoke.

 

“Brothers, I have returned to lead you in the Long War against the Imperium, a war that has been muted for far too long. Many of you believed me to be dead, or that I merely cowered in the Eye after I left Chemos. But I am clearly not dead and I was not idle. I have found us a new home, a new Chemos if you will. There I have assembled and built a mighty fleet and replenished much of our ranks. I have made alliances with other warbands and come to an understanding with many others.”

 

The lack of reaction by the Iron Hands represented proof of that.

 

“I have come to you to ask you to join me. I ask this only once, for I will never ask you again. Join me in ending these bouts of pointless internecine warfare. Join me in tearing down the Imperium and installing ourselves as the true rulers of the empire we built with our blood, sweat, and toil. Join me and become something greater than you currently are. Join me and pursue vengeance. I am the Heir of Fulgrim and therefore the Second War Commander. I will finish what our father started. Who will stand by me?”

 

Some rose from their thrones, arms pressed to the breastplate in salute. “I do. Hail Sakaeron.”

 

“Hail,” returned the Deceiver.

 

A moment passed, and a third of the chamber stood in allegiance. Kaesoron noted Galliad’s former bodyguards now stood beside Sakaeron whom turned his gaze to Kaesoron.

 

“Julius, what is your answer?”

 

Kaesoron’s mind went to what Sabik had told him earlier. Make the right choice, Julius. You need to.

 

Join him or kill him. Join or kill? Kneel or murder? Kaesoron gripped his sword, and in one fluid motion pulled it from his scabbard and stuck it into the stone floor, his hands resting on its pommel.

 

“I am yours, War Commander.” He bowed his head.

 

“Good, brother. That was the right decision.” Sakaeron looked around the chamber, frowning at how many refused to bend the knee. “I had hoped there would be more, but we have more than enough.”

 

Eidolon spat on the floor. “I will never join you, Deceiver. You abandoned us when you were needed most. Stealing our lord father’s corpse and his flagship… Where exactly is the flagship? Where is the Pride of Chemos?” demanded Eidolon.

 

Sakaeron smiled a cold smirk. “She is here.”

 

Kaesoron never knew how the War Commander did it, no matter how much he asked in later years. Sakaeron would always give a knowing smile and refuse an answer. Right as he spoke, “She is here,” a wound in reality formed close to Karaashi Station, visible through the thick armoured glass windows that dominated the chamber, close enough for the entire chamber to witness the Pride of Chemos with a dozen capital ships and scores of escorts emerge from the warp like predator-hunters from the deepest, dangerous oceans. It was perfectly synchronised.

 

As the chamber looked on in awe as the massive Gloriana-class warship passed the station, Kaesoron noticed Sakaeron pressing a rune upon his gauntlet, a red rune blinking then turning sapphire green.

 

The back of his tongue began to itch; the air wavered and reeked of ozone. It could mean only one thing.

 

Teleportation.

 

With a thunderclap roar, forty Astartes teleported inside the chamber, warp-residue steaming off their armour as they took position around Sakaeron and those that pledged to him. Not only were the forty legionnaires armed with bolters, storm bolters and flamers, but all wore Terminator Armour. And there was not a single casualty, not one.

 

Kaesoron had not seen so many Terminator suits in such a small area since the Siege of Terra. It was a wonder. The near hundred officers and their guards backed away from the centre. The Iron Hands stopped them with their bolters pointed.

 

“Orders, War Commander?” asked the Iron Judge.

 

“Kill them.”

 

A bolter was known to be loud. It was not a silent weapon of war. Not like the dagger of the Officio Assasinorum nor the lasgun of the Imperial Guard. It roared and clacked as it fired. It was meant to brutally kill, and kill brutally it did.

 

Forty Sons of Fulgrim Terminators and nearly seventy Iron Hands unleashed their gunfire on those that refused to follow Sakaeron. Some were quick and rushed the Iron Hands, engaging them in hand-to-hand, the guards sacrificing themselves so their leader could flee. Kaesoron watched as Eidolon disappeared in a flare of teleportation activity. He must have had a transponder on him, his ship waiting for a signal to teleport him out at a moment’s notice. Eidolon was many things, but he was not stupid. His ship must have had its teleport coils primed and warmed.

 

The others, though, were not so lucky. Within moments, all that refused the War Commander lay dead, their blood painting the stark grey stone red. The Iron Hands departed the room, all but the Judge and Sabik.

 

Sakaeron dismissed the Terminators, all but ten who took their place near their lord. The War Commander placed a vox-bead in his ear. “Report.”

Kaesoron could hear static and words, but not clearly. After a moment, the Heir frowned.

 

“What is it?” Kaesoron asked.

 

“Eidolon successfully fled. His ship was ready to withdraw quickly. But other than him and a few others, this little operation was a complete success. The warlords who died here left me their flagships and it is likely most of their legionnaires will join me in due time. A new age is upon us. An age of renewed brotherhood and revenge, my, how long I have waited and planned,” Sakaeron paused for a moment, processing this success.

 

The War Commander looked at the Iron Judge and Sabik. “I thank you and your primarch for allowing this to occur. I shall pay back this debt in due time.”

 

The two Iron Hands bowed their heads. “The Gorgon wishes to see the Legion Wars fade, and the war against the Imperium renewed. He believed you to be the best chance of this happening,” explained Sabik.

 

“Tell Lord Manus that he is right, and soon I will launch a vast crusade into the Imperium. The Cages cannot and have not covered everything. There are ways through the cracks.”

 

The two Iron Hands bowed again and departed with farewells.

 

As they left a tear in space and time opened behind Sakaeron. Kaesoron readied his sword.

 

“At ease, brother, these are my men, my new brothers.”

 

The two Astartes that stepped through were of different Legions. One wore the deep blue and gold armour of the Thousand Sons, the other the black and white of pre-Heresy Dark Angels. Kaesoron looked to Sakaeron with an eyebrow raised.

 

“Former Calibanite Independent, but he left them shortly after the destruction of Caliban. He disdains Luther almost as much as the Lion and the Emperor.” The black armoured Astartes nodded at this.

 

“Where are my manners? Julius Kaesoron this is Iskandar Khayon and Merir Astelan. Two of my most able advisors and loyal brothers, they have been with me for some years now, helping me ready all that is to come. In the Long War, we are all brothers, no matter the bloodline or heraldry.”

 

The three Astartes exchanged pleasantries.

 

“Now that you are all here, kneel.”

 

Khayon and Astelan did so without hesitation. Kaesoron had not knelt before another since before his father perished. He found it odd at first, but his kneepad hit the stone floor only a second after the first two.

 

Sakaeron accepted a weapon from one of his Terminators. It was a Guardian-Spear of the Legio Custodes, now the Adeptus Custodes. But this one was still gold and red, showing it belonged to a Custodian when the Emperor still walked amongst the stars. Resting the blade against Astelan’s left shoulder-pad, Sakaeron began to speak.

 

“Merir Astelan, former Dark Angel, former Independent, you shall from henceforth be my Force Commander of the Phertalien. Though you and they may not bear the gene-seed of Fulgrim, you have proven yourself worthy. You are to become a founding member of the Tyberkenna. Tomorrow you will don the livery of the Third Legion, all but this shoulder-pad which is to remain void-black to reflect your past.”

 

Astelan bowed his head in acknowledgement. Sakaeron moved to Khayon and placed the Spear’s blade upon his left shoulder-pad.

 

"Iskandar Khayon, former Thousand Sons, former mercenary, you shall from henceforth be my First Sorcerer, leader of all those with psychic ability. Though you may not bear the gene-seed of Fulgrim, you have proven yourself worthy. You are to become a founding member of the Tyberkenna. Tomorrow you will don the livery of the Third Legion, all but this shoulder-pad which is to be void-black to reflect your past.”

 

Khayon bowed his head as well. Sakaeron came to him and placed his spear on the left shoulder-pad.

 

“Julius Kaesoron, First Captain and fellow Son of Fulgrim, you will no longer be called by First Captain, that rank was useless and meaningless in the old Legion, rather you shall be Lord Captain-Commander of the First Millennial of my new Sons of Fulgrim. You will be my second-in-command. You are to become a founding member of the Tyberkenna. Tomorrow you will repair and repaint your armour.”

 

The War Commander stepped back. He planted the base of the Spear onto the ground, causing it to echo in the stone chamber.

 

“Rise, my brothers, and become heralds of the new age.”

 

They rose as one, the first of Sakaeron’s Tyberkenna looking at their lord and brother and all began to imagine the wars they would wage together.


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War Commander of Chaos


#13
Tanner151

Tanner151

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The Heir short was supposed to be uploaded earlier, before the Iron Warriors Index. It was supposed to be the introductory short that would directly show you Sakaeron for the first time.  This won't be the last you will have seen of the Second War Commander.

 

Make sure to let me know what you think of the story so far. Be sure to like, comment and follow. More to come soon. 


War Commander of Chaos


#14
Tanner151

Tanner151

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  • Location:Terra
  • Faction: Sons of Fulgrim

Nightmares

The screaming never ended. It was continuous, the anguish rushing to his psyche as if it were an oncoming tide. Beyond the screaming, fire reigned supreme. Buildings became slag, monuments wilted by heat, and glass pyramids fractured like Mankind’s hope; people had their flesh consumed by the flame and their bones charred ruins. Ash and death ruled the air. Tizca died, horribly, quickly, but yet at the same time it was painfully slow, watching all that was dear become nothing more than an executioner’s target. From the sky came fiery pods of death, their cargoes filled with murderers and savage killers. As the pods landed the screaming grew even louder, piercing, wailing. A wolf ran to him from the pods drop site, coloured black and white, saliva and blood falling from its mouth, its eyes a beady red. It stopped, watching him with hateful eyes. It howled a deep and terrifying sound, one that made prehistoric humans move nearer their fires as they clutched stone-tipped spears, hoping to survive. The howl echoed and reverberated, causing the world to shatter.

 

Iskandar Khayon woke then. Looking at the cramped quarters that constituted his sleeping chamber, he rose. The dreams were getting worse as of late. The feeling of helplessness growing each time his eyes closed. The horrors witnessed on Prospero so long ago haunted him.

 

Opening his mind, lifting the barriers he had placed there upon sleep, his mind sent a message. +Brother, how do we fare?”

 

For a moment, no response, but then the psychic voice of Ashur-Kai Qezremah. +Tolerable, Iskandar, tolerable. We should be at our destination in three, maybe four hours.+

 

+Good. I will join you on the bridge soon.+

 

The psychic connection was cut; Khayon rose to don his armour. It took longer than it once would have; he no longer had bondsmen assisting him. Since the Heresy, he had eschewed the use of them. Too many he knew, too many he had befriended, had died, whether it be war, chance, or the warp. He had come to understand that all faded, everything died. All is dust.

 

+Should I come with?+

 

Looking to the black wolf that lay near him, he shook his head.

 

+No, stay here, Gyre. I was told not to bring daemons to the world, bonded or otherwise. I will be leaving my grimoire here, as well.+

 

+Dangerous.+

 

+Yes, but it will be worth the risk.+

 

+Do you really believe that?+ she inquired.

 

+I have to,+ he responded grimly.

 

Once wearing the Mark II plate, he left his personal quarters, grimoire and tutelary remaining there. Past the anteroom, where once he would have entertained brothers or cousins, he now walked by, ignoring what had been reality and now only a memory. Two Space Marines guarded his room, though they were not the same individuals that received gene-seed centuries ago. Looking at them, he saw them stare straight ahead, no nod, no private comment or even bodily quirks. They were Rubricae, hollowed beings that had been, were, good men.

 

Seeing Mekhari and Djedhor standing there, motionless like Manus’ automatons, angered Khayon. It angered him because he had failed to stop Ahriman’s crime, forcing the depleted XV to shrink further to only a few hundred that were truly alive. His father was not blameless, far from it, as his assistance and advice allowed Ahriman to complete his work. Sending a minor psychic pulse, they began to follow him as he made his way to the ship’s command centre.

 

The Rubric may have turned out worse than it did, but already the cost had been too high. The few thousand that had survived the Heresy limped to Sortiarius to begin anew, readying themselves to one day take revenge on those that had cast them down. The hypocrites, the liars, the traitors: the Imperium, an empire of blind fools and ambitious despots. The Legion had been preparing, drawing upon the lore that had survived the Burning and the new knowledge acquired to sharpen a spear to drive into the Imperium’s heart.

 

But then the flesh-change returned, killing some, and making more turn into monsters of mutation. As their numbers fell, Ahriman’s madness rose. Khayon had been there the day Magnus asked his sons to find a way to stop it, to save themselves from certain death. Many laboured, searched, studied, but it quickly became obvious only something drastic would save the Thousand Sons. While he had been studying how to halt the mutation on a genetic level, Ahriman had felt only the Great Ocean had the power to do so. When Khayon discovered what the First Captain had in mind, he attempted to stop Ahriman and his cabal, but he was too late. The Rubric had been cast and he witnessed brothers falling to the ground, their roars of torments echoing on the Planet of Sorcerers. They did not die, not truly, but nor did they live. The Rubricae were no longer men, rather now imprisoned dust and warp-touched armour.

 

Magnus had not been too pleased to see so many of his sons souls locked for eternity, but he had thanked Ahriman for saving what could be saved. The bastard thanked that arrogant

 

Reaching the bridge’s sealed doors after a half hour, he sighed, his hate cooling from an inferno to a simmer. The simmer remained, it drove him. What had been done can always be undone. It was not too late to save his brothers; at the very least they could be given final, restful peace.

 

Walking onto the bridge, Khayon’s head moved to look at the Anamnesis, his sister’s corpse-like figure turning as he entered. Her hands were deathly pale, data-wires and neural plugs covered most of her neck and back, her head the centre of a hive of cabling. Her hand went to the chilled glass. Walking to her, he put his gauntlet on the glass.

 

“Are you there? Can you hear me?”

 

“Of course, captain, my auditory registration is working at maximum efficiency.”

 

Sighing again, he left her. She may look like his sister, and on occasion he would almost believe she was still in there, but his sister died long ago. The being behind him was a broken parody. Everything around him was broken, as was he.

 

Moving to stand beside the White Seer, Khayon glanced at the other sorcerer.

 

+Speak your mind.+ he pulsed.

 

The Astartes hesitated for a moment, gathering his thoughts. +Iskandar, we turned away from a very lucrative raid on a Third Legion planet to come here. What if what you seek is not here?+

 

+What I seek? Have you lost trust in me, have you given up?+ His mind's voice carried with it despair, anger, loss and above all a desire for something greater.

 

Qezremah shook his head minutely. +I respect what we are doing, Iskandar, but there is no hope of reversing the Rubric. If the Crimson King could not correct its errors, what chance do we have?+

 

+Hope?+ Khayon looked out amongst the bridge, several view-screens broke or flickering, a cogitator unit shut down, its parts recycled to keep others functioning. The crew numbered half of what it should have, with many lacking substantial training. +Hope is all we have, the only thing that is keeping me going. I will not stop until all possibilities have been exhausted.+

 

+But this world, it is myth, hearsay.+

 

Harsh laughter erupted from the Thousand Son captain, physical not psychic mirth. Several of the crew glanced at the two Space Marines but quickly went back to their duties, not deigning to attract the wrath of their masters. +We are in the Eye of Terror, Ashur-Kai. Reality is defied here and what were once thought as myths and superstitions walk among us. I contracted myself to Esha’kar for three years to learn this information. That Word Bearer has been proven correct before.+

 

+This is unwise…+

 

+Your opinion has been noted.+ His psychic voice hardened, pulsing with annoyance and he did not even try to hide it. +If you have nothing to contribute, then mind your tongue.+

 

The other Astartes glared at Khayon, but his features softened after a moment. Qezremah knew Khayon meant no harm in his words, but years of frustration and doubt could gnaw away at anybody. It already had for so many.

 

The hours passed slowly. Khayon stood quite still for that entire time, an occasional shuffling of the shoulders or tilt of head to show he was different from the Rubricae, that he was still human no matter how loosely. Eventually, a klaxon sounded. The Anamnesis spoke, the oddly feminine machine voice always a painful reminder, “Exit translation in five minutes.”

 

The emergence of the Tlaloc from the Immaterium was fairly smooth, as was for most ships that wandered the Eye. Dangerous, yes, but if the proper respect and payment was given due, then the beasts that prowled the warp were accepting of those that passed through their domain, albeit marginally.

 

The world was a desert, its sands spruce blue, the sky a sickly yellow. It was a flat world, only a single structure rose on the surface: a temple. The Tlaloc settled in over the temple, weapons armed and shields ready.

 

The Tlaloc’s captain walked to the docking bay. There he met twenty Rubric Marines, a fifth of this warship’s contingent. Qezremah was there as well. The White Seer opened his mouth to speak.

 

+We will discuss it later, Ashur-Kai. Now is not the time,+ Khayon pulsed quickly.

 

Qezremah’s expression cooled. +I merely meant to wish you luck. I hope you find the answers you seek.+

 

Bending his neck slightly, both in response and apology, Khayon boarded the Stormbird. The flight to surface was uneventful, but as he exited the dropship’s hold his vox clicked with another attempting to form a connection. Blink-clicking the rune, the channel was formed.

 

“Yes?” His voice sounded odd to his ears, rare was it for him to use it extensively.

 

“Captain Khayon, we have detected five ships exiting the warp.” The Anamnesis sounded utterly calm, a rock in a gentle flowing river.

 

“Classification and Legion?” he ordered.

 

“Analysing… analysing… A battle-barge, two strike cruisers and two destroyers.”

 

“Legion, what is their Legion?”

 

“Sons of Fulgrim.”

 

Khayon became silent, staring up past the yellow clouds to try and see five stars moving, showing them to be nearby starships. The Tlaloc was a strike cruiser, fast and deadly, but compared to the squadron approaching the planet, it might as well have been a rodent against a dune viper.

 

To return to the ship would be relatively easy, but Khayon could not leave here, not when he had finally arrived.

 

+Ashur-Kai, hail them…+

 

+Brother, they are already hailing us.+

 

+Put it through.+ The vox popped and hissed, the interference great and connection poor, but when he heard an audible click it cleared significantly.

 

“This is Captain Iskandar Khayon of the Thousand Sons, leader of the Kha’Sherhan Warband. Who are you and state your intentions?”

 

Dry laughter came across first. As Khayon’s hackles rose, a familiar voice spoke. “It is good to hear your voice again, cousin. It has been centuries.”

 

Khayon knew that voice. “Sakaeron. I thought you were dead.”

 

“Yes, a useful rumour.”

 

“What in the gods’ names are you doing here?”

 

“The same as you I garner, searching for answers.”

 

“I will not withdraw. I need this.”

 

“Do not fret; I will not force you off. In fact I will join you.”

 

Khayon’s mind raced in thought. “Leave your squadron, only approach with a single strike cruiser.”

 

“No trust? Come now, brother, I thought we became close during Gharran.”

 

“That was long ago.”

 

“Fair enough, I will be there shortly.”

 

The link was cut, and the wait began. It lasted little over an hour, but eventually a purple and gold Stormbird broke through the cloud coverage to land opposite of his own. The first to exit was an officer, bearing lord commander markings. He did not wear a helm, though one was mag-locked to his hip. Tyberius Sakaeron, Lord Commander of the Second Millennial, led twenty Sons, ten of whom wore Cataphractii plate.

 

The Sons of Fulgrim faced the Thousand Sons, watching for cues from their commander. Sakaeron’s face was expressionless but it broke into a predator’s grin after a moment.

 

“Iskandar, it has been too long.” The Third Legion officer moved to him swiftly, his men staying behind.

 

The Rubricae stood motionless, their bolters held tightly, though not aimed at the approaching legionnaire. They would only act if Khayon sent a psychic command...

 

The sound of metal brushing against ceramite made Khayon glance back, glad his face was covered by a helmet. The Rubricae were standing at attention, their heads looking at Sakaeron as he walked across the blue sand towards them. Impossible… unless. Khayon opened his mind’s eye, to look at the lord commander through his gift.

 

Sakaeron emanated power, rising from him like smoke from a fire. Sakaeron was clearly blessed by Chaos, but he still lacked his own innate psyker abilities. Sakaeron did not control the Rubric Astartes, merely allowed their old selves come to the fore, paying respect to an officer from an allied Legion. Remarkable; worrying, but nonetheless remarkable. While Sakaeron radiated power, subtly but without a doubt, the blade at his hip pulsed with malevolence.

 

Realising what it was came as a shock. He could not help but fall to his knees, such was the power coming off of it in painful waves Khayon saw the blade as if were drawn, used by the Phoenician when he killed Dorn and crippled the Emperor. Fireblade, forged by Manus, wielded by Fulgrim; the psychic resonance was akin to a hurricane, storming against his defences.

 

He pictured himself being there, at the doors to the Throne Room.

 

Dorn’s decapitated body lay at his feet. Even in death, the Seventh Primarch glowered. From the Throne Room came methodical footsteps, looking up he saw a golden figure, visage stiff in anger and loss. They locked gazes, and readied themselves for battle, in this plane and the next.

 

Blood dripped from Khayon’s nose. Wrenching his helm off, as he felt claustrophobic, he breathed the acrid and cloying atmosphere of the planet, his genhanced body filtering out the minor toxins and impurities with ease.

 

“Why, Iskandar, I had no idea you were so sensitive.”

 

“That blade… it is not yours,” his voice rasped, eyes watering. Blood finally stopped trickling from his nose, but some of it entered his mouth, the coppery tang of his blood seemingly more bitter than usual at that moment.

 

Pulling it from its sheath, the Rubricae still standing at attention and followed the sword, Sakaeron placed the tip in the dirt. The blood was long gone, but the residue, the memory of the Heresy’s climax, remained.

 

“This was once my father’s blade, but he is dead now, long gone. I have inherited his blade, his flagship, and his will. I am not the Tyberius Sakaeron you fought beside during the Heresy. I am so much more now.”

 

Khayon recovered enough to rise, wiping the blood from beneath his nose. “Why have you come here, Tyberius?”

 

Looking at the temple that stood not far away, silent as a grave and fashioned like a crypt tomb. “As I told you, the same as you, cousin. I came for answers.”

 

---

 

The entrance to the temple was closed, but was easily opened by two Terminator-clad Sons.  Entering, they were greeted by a hunched figure who was sweeping the floor. Khayon noted that no matter how much dust was swept, it always appeared to return.

 

“Ah, welcome, great master, great lord, welcome, welcome!”

 

“And who are you?” Sakaeron’s clipped, patrician tones queried sharply.

 

“I have many names, some known, others forgotten. You may call me the Caretaker.”

 

Sakaeron grunted. “Very well, show us the Mirrors.”

 

The Caretaker bowed low.

 

They descended into the temple, taking winding steps to go deep into the earth. After what must have been hours they arrived at closed double doors. The Octed was centred, split down the middle by the doors. The sigils of the Four Powers resided in each corner. Tzeentch and Slaanesh on the left, Nurgle and Khorne on the right; all four pulsed with coloured energy, the Eight-Pointed Star of Chaos glowing baleful gold.

 

The Caretaker unlocked the doors with an onyx key. “Only you two, with one witness, may enter,” he said to the two Space Marine officers.

 

They followed, Sakaeron and a centurion named Telemachon Lyras came as his witness. Khayon and Mekhari were on their heels. The room they entered was clean, truly clean when compared to the rest of the temple.  Before them were six mirrors, arranged in sets of three to each side of the room, with the mirrors placed one behind another. In the centre was a great tome, the words seeming to move across the coloured pages like worms in the mud.

 

“What is this place?” muttered Lyras, whose hand had not left his blade since the Astartes took to the winding staircase.

 

“This is a place of destiny,” replied Khayon.

 

“Correct, great lord, correct!” Gesturing towards the two sets, the Caretaker motioned them forward. “Now, if you please, step forward. I will guide you.”

 

“Why are you being so helpful?” queried Khayon. The eagerness the small being exhibited was uncommon and eerie, especially from one who resided in the Eye.

 

The Caretaker’s’s eyes flicked toward Sakaeron, who was looking with pleasure at the gilded mirrors. They quickly returned to look at the Prosperine Astartes.

 

“I was commanded to do so.”

 

“By which of the Powers?”

 

“All of them.”

 

As Khayon pondered that, Sakaeron walked to the set on the right, looking at them. His hand reached forward, tapping the surface, the mirror rippling as if water. The Chemosian tensed by what he saw as the ripples settled though Khayon could see nothing different, but relaxed.

 

“What will we see?” asked the lord commander.

 

“Past, present, future; the what if, the what is, and the what will, from all possibilities and from all threads of time. Many have gone into the mirrors, seen their truths, saw what lay within, and have returned mad. Few make it out; fewer survive with their minds intact. There is risk.”’

 

Sakaeron looked at the Caretaker, “There is always risk.”

 

The creature tilted its head in acknowledgement. “Quite so, great master, quite so.”

 

The purple and gold legionnaire turned back to the mirrors. “Iskandar, go to the others. We will learn much this day, that I guarantee.” As he made his way to the other set, Khayon heard Sakaeron proclaim to Lyras.

 

“Telemachon, if I do not return,” his eyes hovered over the still bowed Caretaker, “kill him.”

 

“Yes, Lord Heir.”

 

Khayon stood in front of the left set. The image before him was as he was now, wearing the sapphire blue and gold of the Thousand Sons with master crafted Prosperine crests flanking his helmet, but disturbing the surface created ripples, changing what he saw, morphing him into a corpse in the armour of the old Legion, staring outwards with the decaying flesh falling off. The mouth was open in mockery or despair, he could not tell.

 

The Caretaker moved to the tome, opening it to an earmarked page. “There is only one way, forward. If you linger, you will die. May the Four of Ruin bless your journey.”

 

Khayon stepped into the mirror, the width and height easily surpassing the size of a fully armed and armoured transhuman physique. The glass felt like melted silver, a chill caressed his skin, an itch began between the shoulders, and a flash of light blinded his vision but as it dimmed in intensity and his eyesight returned he found himself standing in a place he had long known to be gone.

 

As the light, itch and cold faded, he now stood in his childhood home, Itzara humming as she worked on her studies. Khayon looked on with wonderment. Itzara was whole, alive, aware, not a bastardisation of machine and dead flesh. While his sister worked, he looked around at the simplistic furniture of sand wood and bookshelves of their small library, smelling a hint of cinnamon bread in the air. His mother came from the kitchen, smiling, and her smile only enhanced by her beautifully dark skin.

 

She looked at him, and instead of gasping or horrified at his body and war-gear, she instead chuckled softly. “Come, Iskandar, eat before the bread gets too cool. Come, come, my tu’eza.”

 

Tu’eza: watchful son, her nickname for him. He had been curious in youth, rarely taking part in playground activities but watching from afar, preferring more subtle methods of winning than brawling, learning, knowing the weaknesses of others were his forte. It was with those skills and a fast learning capacity that allowed him to be chosen from Prospero’s youth to became one of the Thousand Sons.

 

Looking at his body, he noticed that his armour was gone, rather now he wore a simple cotton shirt and trousers, his body proportioned to the size of a young child. Moving to the table, he sat down. Khayon was staring at the woman that birthed him, long dead, as she corrected Itzara’s work, and set about readying the table for supper.

 

“Come, Iskandar, your father will be home soon.”

 

His father? He had little recollection of the man, for he worked as the Defence Militia against psychneuein attacks.

 

“Where is Magnus?”

 

“Who, tu’eza?”

 

Khayon blinked in surprise at that statement.

 

“The Crimson King, lord of Prospero.”

 

His mother looked confused. “I do not know any such man. Are you reading those stories again?”

 

He detected no lie or playfulness in her words. She truly did not know.

 

There is only one way, forward. If you linger, you will die. The Caretaker’s words washed over Khayon, both his sister and mother seemingly unable to hear it. Behind them in the living room, a mirror appeared, shimmering and out of place.

 

He rose, wishing to leave. A firm hand clasped his small wrist. His mother looked sad. “Don’t leave, Iskandar. Stay, eat, enjoy our company.”

The urge to do so was strong, almost compelling, but he resisted with sheer force of will.

 

“No.” He broke free of her grip and walked to the mirror, ignoring the cries of anguish behind him from two women that were once dear to him. They are not real. Your mother is dead, your sister little more than a corpse.

 

Stepping into the mirror, the cold, itch and light returned. As they faded, he found himself in an elongated hallway, gilded artwork and beautifully wrought columns in both directions for hundreds of metres before turning sharply elsewhere.

 

“Ah, Captain Khayon, there you are,” spoke a voice familiar to him.

 

Turning, he saw Ahzek Ahriman walking towards him. The Space Marine’s armour shone and his staff of power was alight with aetheric energy. Khayon realised his own armour had returned, coloured red and gold, as did his weapons, including staff.

 

What caught Khayon’s eye was the reddish-gold Aquila on the other Thousand Son’s chestplate.

 

“Why are you wearing that?” he spat.

 

Ahriman looked down, and sighed.

 

“Times change, Khayon, and we must with it. With the Traitor Legions broken and in full retreat, we must reaffirm our loyalty to the Throne. This,” tapping the double eagle, “is only a symbol of our loyalty, not the essence of it. Magnus told me of how you felt, how us choosing to wear the Aquila made our previous oaths seem hollow. While I understand your reasoning, I am in agreement with the Crimson King.”

 

Ahriman gestured to Khayon, “Come, the ceremony begins soon.”

 

Ceremony? Almost against his will, Khayon followed his most hated rival. As they walked, bitterness and feeling of betrayal swayed to brotherhood and close acquaintance. With Ahriman? Impossible. Looking over the corridors and passing through two plazas open to the night sky, he quickly realised he was on Terra, the Imperial Palace to be exact.

 

Did the rebel Legions win? No, of course they could not have, not with Ahriman wearing that sigil, nor the First Captain’s remarks from earlier. He did not speak as they walked towards the Inner Palace, but he did take note of what he passed and saw.

 

Several sections of the Palace were clearly battle damaged, some conventional, others through psychic means. Palace staff clutched neck-chained Aquila medallions to their chests, murmuring what sounded like prayers. Khayon frowned. Even in whatever reality he found himself in, the belief the Emperor was a god prevailed, seemingly strong enough for open support in the Imperium’s beating heart itself. The more disturbing aspect was Ahriman’s lack of reaction. No distaste, apathy, or mirth. Nothing. He acted as if he not only saw the sight regularly but that he accepted it. A nod was given to several Emperor-worshippers as they moved passed, who bowed low to the First Captain. Did… did he share their beliefs? Khayon looked at the Aquila upon his chest with increased disdain. Who am I here? What am I? Their brisk pace brought them to a vast chamber Khayon knew of, but never had step foot in.

 

The Investiary was near the Throne Room, a chamber where statues of the eighteen primarchs stood. Khayon had heard from his father that during the Heresy the statues of the eight Traitor Primarchs had been covered, but allowed to remain. After the Heresy, they were either destroyed or locked away.

However there were not eighteen statues, but twenty. Khayon looked at the marble representations of the Second and Eleventh Primarch, who stood as tall and proud as their brothers. The Second Primarch was remembered kindly by the Fifteenth Legion, having Dorn’s moral sense, Horus’ charisma and Angron’s strength. But that was long ago, before the purge of Imperial records. But there he stood, as if the events that had led to his removal never occurred.

 

Turning to the Eleventh, Khayon expected to see the humble, noble features of one whom both Lorgar and Magnus called friend. Instead he looked upon a black sheet covering the statue. Looking around, Khayon noted six others were similarly covered.

 

The Fifth, Sixth, Tenth, Eleventh, Fourteenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Primarch-statues were covered. Seven Legions versus thirteen, with the loyalists holding a clear superiority in numbers…

 

“Madness,” he whispered.

 

Ahriman nodded. “Four years ago this would have seemed impossible, but three years of bloodshed has made me wonder: could this have been prevented?”

 

Khayon resisted the urge to descend into barking laughter, laughing that no matter what version of reality out there, all were seemingly grim and dark, ever filled with war and despair.

 

But he resisted, and waited while the room filled with Imperial Army generals and admirals, Astartes from the Thirteen Loyal Legions – it was sickening to be considered a loyalist here, the Imperium’s betrayal ran too deep in him for there to be any alternative – and various governmental flunkies. Bitterly, he saw several of his battle-brothers whom he knew to be Rubricae, were still flesh and blood, their souls not trapped in their armour.

 

Mixed in with them were primarchs, god-like beings who were titans to mere mortals. He saw the Lion conferring with Perturabo and Lorgar, Horus with Sanguinius and Alpharius, and Fulgrim ignoring those near him to glare at the marble figure of Ferrus Manus. Khayon saw Dorn, who was Praetorian here as well, talking with several of his sons and a Custodian officer, a captain by his markings.

 

They seemed to be the only ones here, but Khayon heard snatches of conversation.

 

“The Battle-King has secured Barbarus. Death Guard survivors flee to the Eye of Woe…”

 

“A Night Lord escorted humanitarian relief fleet came under attack by the Salamanders, but the XVIII retreated when a contingent of the II arrived to assist.”

 

“…The War of Reclamation continues well, already a third of the traitor domains have been liberated. Even now the World Eaters ready for the invasion of Deliverance…”

 

“Trillions flock to the God-Emperor. His Divine Proclamation has more and more converting every day than the past hundred years. The establishment of the Imperial Church goes well, which is a matter of course with the Aurelian leading it…”

 

“The Thousand Sons reported this morning that all Chaos taint left over from the Raid had been cleansed from Terra. No more daemons or…”

 

“Rumours of the Lycan King’s sons butchering the Lelmarta Cluster are true. Nearly forty billion killed, all to the sate their blood lust. A combined Emperor’s Children, Night Lord and Imperial Fist fleet has begun to reclaim the worlds and rescue the survivors, starting with Cheraut…”

 

On and on, more and more, until details of this Heresy began to be pieced together. A bloody civil war, but compared to Fulgrim’s Heresy, it was pitiful. Outnumbered, outgunned, and on the back foot for the entirety, the rebels were forced to launch a last ditch, desperate attack on the Throneworld, attempting to kill the Emperor. The twenty-three day Raid ended with the Arch-Traitor dead, killed by the combined might of the Emperor and Sanguinius, leaving the rebellion leaderless. What followed was a massacre as Imperial reinforcements in the form of the Second Legion, Iron Warriors, Dark Angels, and Alpha Legion Astartes arrived, trapping a majority of the rebel forces. With the rebellion broken, the War of Reclamation had begun. The traitors fought to keep their conquered territories but they were outmatched in every conceivable way. Many withdrew to the Eye of Terror, called the Eye of Woe here, while the rest scattered throughout the galaxy to rule pocket empires or forever raid and salvage to survive until caught by Imperial forces.

 

Eventually the room quietened. The largest doors, connected to a hallway that led directly to the Throne Room, opened to admit hundreds of Custodians entering in formation, their Guardian-Spears catching the gleam of Luna and glow-globes. Behind them came Magnus, resplendent in his armour and shockingly sporting two eyes, and the Emperor. He was unharmed, vibrant and alive, not at all like the corpse that sat the Golden Throne in his reality.

 

The Emperor walked to the centre. Raising His fiery sword, He cut down the statue of Jaghatai Khan, moving onwards to Leman Russ to do the same and from him to Ferrus Manus. This occurred to all the Traitor Primarchs. A speech followed, decrying them Excommunicate Traitoris, and ending with, “Stand with me, and together nothing is impossible. For the Imperium of Man!” The crowd of mortals, transhumans and primarchs cheered at that, roaring like leashed beasts. Khayon felt an urge to join in, to embrace victory, acceptance, kept oaths and pacts, but he did not, he would not. This was not his world, not his reality. It was an Imperial’s dream, a relative paradise to what really occurred. A lie where the wrong stood over truth’s mutilated corpse and the response to such horror was heartfelt cheering from fools.

 

There is only one way, forward. If you linger, you will die.

 

He felt the silver gateway’s presence, the mirror in the back of the chamber, unnoticed by all. As he turned to leave, he felt a hand grip his armoured wrist. He turned.

 

“Stay, Iskandar, bask in our victory over those that betrayed us. We won, we are in the right, and we did no wrong as we stand on the side of Truth.” Ahriman’s gaze pierced through him, but Khayon shook free and walked to the mirror, hearing a saddened sigh from behind amidst a victorious audience.

 

Stepping through, the now familiar cold, itch and light did not bother him. As he arrived through, the first thing he noticed was he was looking at a chained Space Marine, a body mutated extensively, and spikes piercing the skin and muscle, holding him in place. A servitor was shut down near it, quill and paper with an ink pot nearby waiting to be used. The Astartes raised his head and looked at Khayon and he suddenly became the one chained.

 

A door opened and a dozen black-coated individuals walked in, a stylized ‘I’ over their hearts.

 

The servitor was awoken; the inquisitors arranged themselves in front of Khayon.

 

“Now, we will continue from where we left off last: just prior to the Battle of Harmony.”

 

There is only one way, forward. If you linger, you will die.

 

A mirror materialised behind the inquisitors. Forcing himself out of the chained body was difficult, he felt as if he had been glued to the chained legionnaire but Khayon once again walked away through indomitable will. Though the mirror was not more than ten metres away, it seemed an eternity had passed before he stood before it. People passed by and through him, the wick candles burning out and replacements brought in, alit.

Glancing back, he saw the chained Khayon of this universe talking to a woman. He heard the other-Khayon talk, a grating voice, but one tempered by countless years of warfare and experiences he could only guess at.

 

“These are the End Times, Siroca. None of you are destined to survive the coming of the Crimson Path. The Imperium has been losing the Long War since it was first declared, and now we enter the endgame. I will tell you everything, inquisitor, because, for you, it will change nothing.”*

 

Such conviction, such belief. Is it true, I wonder?

 

Khayon walked into the mirror’s surface.

 

He appeared in the Mirror Room, back on the planet of blue sand and yellow skies. At first, it seemed as all was before his entering of the mirrors, but all in the room were faded out, as if phantoms. The Caretaker stood beside the tome, reading it with hands in the air as if leading an orchestra, his voice mumbled as he spoke.

 

“Fascinating, isn’t it?” asked a voice.

 

Turning quickly, he saw the Caretaker beside him, only this time he appeared real, solid; the ghost image of the Caretaker continued to read and speak.

 

“What was that? Why did I go to those places?”

 

“To teach you. In the first, you were a young boy whose world never knew of Magnus or the Imperium. The second you were a loyal legionnaire that fought for the Anathema, a world where Magnus created the self-limiting Nikaean Edict, subjecting the Thousand Sons to rules and regulations, never to study forbidden teachings or search for unknown knowledge, all due to the Emperor’s and Magnus’ fear. A weakness common amongst your species. In the third, you were a prisoner of the Inquisition, beginning the first tale of your life to your captors, voluntarily informing them of their doom.”

 

“Why?”

 

“The reasons why vary, but in the first you were helpless, weak. The second you were blindly loyal to honeyed lies and self-imposed limitations, oblivious to truths you now take for granted. And the third you were overconfident, arrogant, weary of war. Are these paths you wish to take here in this universe as those other Khayons did in theirs?”

 

“No,” the answer was immediate. “I cannot go back to my family, as they are all dead save my sister, and as a mortal I could not change my brothers’ fate. I will not join the Imperium, for their betrayal and murder of my kin can never be forgiven. And I will never give in to the Inquisition, never surrender. I am Iskandar Khayon, Captain of the Thousand Sons, survivor of Prospero, I will not give up until the Imperium I built is torn down and remade. The murderers, the liars and the despots will be cast down and the galaxy will see the truth the Heresy failed to convey.”

 

The Caretaker was silent for a moment. Snapping his fingers, a vertical slash of eldritch light erupted from behind.

 

“Another mirror? Another reality?”

 

“Not quite. Those tested your mind, made sure it was ready to handle harsh facts and dire information. Go into it, and come out reborn.”

 

The Caretaker’s solid form faded back into his shadow self. The slash of light continued to remain open. Readying himself, Khayon went into the rift and everything changed.

 

---

 

Emerging from the rift, he gasped for air. Looking around, everything seemingly real and material. Centurion Lyras looked at him anxiously, Mekhari standing motionless as always. The Caretaker had withdrawn to the corner of the room, watching silently.

 

Lyras rushed to him. “Did you see him? Where is Sakaeron? Where is the Heir?” Desperation tinged the Son's voice.

 

Before Khayon could respond, a vertical line opened in the air and a purple and gold figure fell to the floor. Smoke steamed off armour, though frost hung from the new arrival’s hair. Remaining on his hands and knees, Sakaeron looked up at them. After a moment in which he blinked slowly, the Son of Fulgrim began to laugh maniacally, a deep, booming sound that unnerved Khayon. It was a sound of madness, of war, of rebirth; it was a sound of a warlord ascendant.

 

---

 

“Did you find the answers you were looking for?” asked Sakaeron when they returned to the surface. The Caretaker remained in his temple, bidding them farewell.

 

Khayon shook his head slowly. “I found answers, not the ones I desired, but nevertheless much was revealed to me in the rift.” Looking sideways, Khayon winced his mind’s eye. If Sakaeron’s warp signature had been smoke of a flame before, now it was a raging fire, blazing and all consuming.

 

“No cure, then?”

 

“No.” He looked at Mekhari and the other Rubricae. “The knowledge to fix the Rubric is out there, but… it is not for me to find.”

 

“Do you know who will?”

 

Khayon stared at the red eye lenses of the Rubric Marines. “I have an idea who, but he may never find the answer. It is hidden away, in a repository created by an ancient bloodline. It is doubtful it will ever be discovered, but if anyone can he will.”

 

“If you did not see what you sought, what did you discover?”

 

Khayon turned to look at Sakaeron. “I saw a future where I stood by your side, waging war against the False Emperor’s Realm. I have a purpose to fulfil by your side. You will be the herald of our revenge.”

 

Sakaeron smiled. “I saw something similar. You will be one of my chief lieutenants, a valued officer, and a true comrade.” Sakaeron positioned himself in front of Khayon. “What say you? Will you join me?”

 

Khayon knew the minute he emerged from the rift what his answer would be. It was the only way the nightmares would subside, for him to gain the revenge he so desperately desired, and for justice to be attained. Kneeling in the sand, he brought a clenched fist to chest in the warrior’s salute; a mind pulse had the Rubricae kneel as well, bolters clasped to their chests. “I will follow you, Tyberius Sakaeron, Heir of Fulgrim, Chosen of Chaos, Master of the Third Legion, and future War Commander.”

 

Sakaeron stood over him, his presence heavy and aura of command permeating all. Sakaeron rested a hand on Khayon’s shoulder pad.

 

“Good. Now rise, cousin, we have much to do. Welcome to the Long War.”

--------------------
*Khayon-to-Siroca scene coming from Aaron Dembski-Bowden's novel The Talon of Horus, page 348. All credit to the author, Black Library and Games Workshop. No copyright infringement intended. Used for entertainment purposes only*


War Commander of Chaos


#15
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Sagyar Mazan


Day 23

The earth moved as hundreds of booted feet ran by. Lying still, armour locked and set to minimal power, he lay in the volcanic ash and dirt. His sensors were on passive, bolter mag-locked to the side, effectively useless, and a Legion-forged blade clutched in his hand, dried blood marring its once pristine surface.

 

Below him, deep in the endless tunnels and caverns, sat nearly eighty Orks. They were feasting, eating their smaller sub-species gretchin. Sounds of guttural laughter sounded odd here, many things had become strange since the Khagan betrayed them.

 

The vox clicked once, twice. Torghun Khan responded with his own clicks, three in rapid succession.

 

Enemy unaware.

 

Take them swiftly.

 

Throughout the ridgeline two dozen ash-covered forms rose, revealing ivory, gold and red colouring. Their armour began to power on, sensors went to active, their helms alighting with information and data-statistics. Most did not carry bolters, ammunition was beyond scarce and what little was left was conserved, but all carried power swords or chainswords, power spears, chainglaives or chainaxes. Torghun did not mind the lack of firepower. Since the primarch’s betrayal, close combat was all that could cool his burning anger.

 

The White Scars moved to the Orks, as quiet as Mark II plate would allow. They moved like hungry predators, desperate for the kill but patient to ensure its success. They had laid on the ridgeline for three days, waiting for the Orks below to deploy in the ever-going war in Chondax’s caverns. Hundreds left, leaving only this small amount to guard their supply depot. It was not the first depot Torghun had destroyed, nor would it be the last. With no chance for resupply, the Space Marines were forced to scavenge from their dead and the xenos. Deplorable, but for survival some distasteful things must come to pass. Some Legions may have struggled without consistent resupply, or would not adapt well. For the Fifth Legion, it was not the first time they had gone without, making do with what they have or could take; it was a factor of life.

 

The khan led his men as they neared the greenskin perimeter. Three were lookouts, though clearly they felt safe this far in Ork territory. Three Astartes approached and three Orks fell, the sound of their bodies crumpling to the ground covered by the other xenos’ feasting and noise.

 

Encircling the enemy took several minutes, another eight of the beasts were killed as the Scars readied for the charge. No words were spoken, only clicks. Even Orks could be monitoring vox traffic, but the clicks would likely be associated with interference. Torghun was more than happy to exploit such oversight.

 

When in position, the khan clicked once. Attack.

 

The Scars emerged from behind various rocks and ashen piles, surging forward. Torghun decapitated a large brute before it was aware they were under attack. Torghun dodged another’s axe swing, penetrating the Ork with his sword, the power sword cutting through flesh as easy as a hot monomolecular sharp knife through butter.

 

A curse in Low Gothic brought his attention to the left. One of his battle-brother’s chainsword became stuck in the thick muscle and compacted sinew of a greenskin’s chest. Another Ork was coming to kill the entangled Astartes. It rose its own weapon, a metal tipped cudgel. A flash of light from the ridgeline blinked and the beast was hit with a bolt, its chest exploding. It continued to crawl towards the battle-brother, but the legionnaire had retrieved his blade and executed the wounded xenos.

 

Torghun saw more flashes from the ridgeline, the snipers there using their reserve of bolts to kill threatening Orks or save brothers in trouble. The khan raised his sword in salute, and entered back into the melee.

 

The battle, though a more appropriate word would have been skirmish, ended several minutes later. No casualties suffered by the Astartes, all of the enemy were dead; their bodies covered with promethium jelly and set aflame. Compatible ammunition was taken and distributed amongst the legionnaires. Torghun’s bolter now held eleven bolts, less than half of what it could carry.

 

Opening the vox, he spoke for the first time in days. “Well done, brothers. We return to base.”

 

The twenty-seven Space Marines left the cavern chamber, heading towards their sanctum of relative safety.

 

---

 

Day 24

The home base, nicknamed Sanctuary by several White Scars with a dark sense of humour, was a ramshackle collection of armoured vehicles, weapon turrets and waning spirits situated into a deep alcove in one of Chondax’s monolithic caverns, one of a quite extensive system.

 

Targutai Yesugei, zadyin arga of the Fifth Legion, walked amidst his brothers. He did not comfort them as that was the duty of the few remaining Chaplains, but he did note the mood. It was oppressive, brooding, and worse. Since Jaghatai decided to purge his Legion of those whose loyalty was first to the Emperor, the survivors were becoming morbid, uncaring whether they lived or die. They saw no hope. Yesugei hoped to change that.

 

As he walked towards the command Land Raider, Yesugei noted and responded to the bows of head and clenched fist to chest salute, but he saw some of his brothers’ scowl at him. He knew why. Almost all the loyalist legionnaires were Terran or from other worlds, but Yesugei was Chogorian. One of the first Chogorians inducted into the Legion, and one who fought beside the Khagan on Chogoris before the Imperium’s arrival. His link to the Khagan was looked on upon with… suspicion.

 

Yesugei knew that the primarch’s relation with the Emperor had always been fragile, and Horus’ first actions as Warmaster had alienated Jaghatai, but the Stormseer still found it difficult that what had come to pass had happened. The Land Raider was flanked by three legionnaires of the Horde of the Earth, which had been deployed almost in its entire.

 

After passing them, he opened a vox channel with the occupant inside. “Noyan-Khan, I must speak with you.”

 

“Enter.”

 

Yesugei entered the modified Space Marine tank, designed for a more command function rather than combat, it featured several vox-casters, long-range auspex sensors and more. The White Scar looking over a data-slate was old, having been one of the first legionnaires of the V when it was founded on Terra. When the primarch had been discovered by the Master of Mankind, Jemulan had been a captain. After adopting Chogorian titles, he had been khan, then raised to Noyan-Khan. Jemulan was the only one of that rank to be deemed more loyal to the Emperor than the Great Khan. Now, he led the survivors in their war against the Orks that infested the planet.

 

The officer turned to the Stormseer. “Yes, Yesugei?” The voice was tired, so very tired.

 

“I may have a way for us to contact the Imperium.”

 

Jemulan’s gaze sharpened on the other Scar. “Are you sure? Do not say this lightly, weather-maker. The others do not need to be led on by false hope.”

 

Yesugei nodded in understanding. “I have conferred with my fellow zadyin arga, and we believe we can channel a psychic pulse to act as a beacon, a flare if you will.”

 

“You are not astropaths, your powers lay elsewhere.”

 

The Stormseer tilted his head in acknowledgement of the statement. “Quite so, however we have theorised if we combine our psychic potential and lend our power to a single Stormseer who acts as the conduit to power the signal we could create this beacon-flare.”

 

Jemulan nodded, trusting his brother’s information.

 

“Risks?”

 

“There are two. First, the Orks have few if any psykers in their ranks, the weirdboyz, but they as a species are sensitive to the warp, able to detect significant or prolonged psychic use. They will know our location and will attack.”

 

“And the second?”

 

“We Stormseers will be forced to open ourselves up to the warp, allowing potential yaksha interference. We will need to be watched, and if need be, eliminated.”

 

Jemulan pondered on this for a few seconds. “There are indeed risks, but it is better than waiting to die.” The Noyan-Khan stood up, “Very well, Yesugei, you have my permission to proceed. Be careful, brother.”

 

“I always am.”

 

---

 

Day 27

It took three days to prepare. Soul-searching and mind purification readied the nineteen Stormseers for the task ahead. A chamber adjourning to the principal cavern, lined with crystals and nuggets of raw metals, was selected for the ritual. Yesegui was in the centre, lines of power drawn in the black sand, with the other eighteen surrounding him. All stood in a circle, ringed with wards, weak and temporary as they were it was still better than nothing. Jemulan had informed the others, and they readied themselves for battle.

 

Yesugei noted three squads entering the chamber, taking position around the Astartes psykers. The commander moved towards Yesugei.

“Ah, Torghun Khan, it is good to see you again.”

 

“Likewise, Stormseer,” the Terran responded, formally while others were around. Since the war began in Chondax, Torghun and Yesugei had become acquaintances, discussing their purpose in the Great Crusade and their respective duties. That acquaintance had developed into a respectful friendship.

“You know what to do?” he asked the line officer. Torghun nodded. “Good. Then we shall begin.”

 

Yesugei raised his staff, impaling it in the ground. “Brothers,” he spoke to the other weather-makers, “open yourselves to the elements, open your minds, draw on the energy there, but be wary. Predators stalk here.”

 

Within moments, they began to chant, lending their strength to Yesugei, whose staff glowed lightning white-blue. Yesugei built up the power in him, knowing that when he unleashed it, the warp-spawn would start to approach and the Orks would be alerted. Eyes clenched, he waited for the power to build to where he would no longer be able to contain it.

 

It became painful, intoxicating in its agony, his senses enhanced beyond measure and darkness surrounded him, but he ignored it. The yaksha would not tempt him, no matter their strength.

 

Gripping his staff, he opened his eyes and they emitted the same white-blue colour as the staff.

 

“Let us begin.”

 

---

 

For hours the Stormseers sent their psychic pulse into the Immaterium, acting akin to a lighthouse, but instead of guiding, it was trying to attract attention.

 

While the zadyin arga stood immobile, their minds so focused on the matter on hand, Torghun watched them warily. He did not have an aversion to psykers, but what they were doing was incredibly dangerous. The khan walked around the statuesque Astartes, his own men as wary and watchful as he. Giving a word of encouragement, or checking equipment was all he could do for the moment.

 

His vox was tied to his squad’s frequency, but the main frequency was also monitored. Therefore, Torghun heard when the Noyan-Khan spoke, “The Orks are here.”

 

---

 

Sanctuary had been chosen for its isolation from the other caverns, as well as being easily defendable. If well supplied, the defenders could hold off an attack indefinitely. But the supply situation was dire, forcing Jemulan Noyan-Khan to form ranks to block the small entrance to Sanctuary, with those with shields and spears in the front with several more in support while what few heavy weapons remained were atop the three Land Raiders that had survived.

 

The first sign of the xenos was the distant yelling and war-cheering. Then came the rumbling of the ground; the last was their approach.

 

“Hold,” he voxed, his own shield and power spear raised and readied, the shield interlocking with those of his nearest brothers. Tactical information flooded his visor and he processed the necessary information and discarded the irrelevant.

 

The Orks came rushing towards them, hundreds, then thousands as more and more appeared, an endless green river.

 

“Hold, brothers.” The green sea was rapidly approaching. “We fight for the Emperor, brothers. We are of His making, His design. We will not fail, we will be rescued, but we must deny the enemy.”

 

The throaty roar of the greenskins echoed in the enclosed tunnel. They were close now, seventy metres... sixty metres... fifty metres.

 

“Fire!”

 

The heavy bolters, lascannons, and the single plasma cannon unleashed their ordinance upon the xenos, tearing through the front ranks, killing nearly a hundred in the opening salvo, but it did not greatly thin the ranks. Despite the weight of fire, many Orks broke through, such was their number.

 

The Orks that met the Space Marines met a wall of seventy-three storm shields. Storm shields, used in boarding actions were as tall as each Astartes, wide enough to protect them and as thick as a hand’s span. Jemulan pierced an Ork through the head, his power spear easily passing through the thick skull.

 

“Push!” The wall of ceramite and plasteel took a step, forcing some Orks to fall down, only to be killed by the second rank of legionnaires, whose swords quickly became drenched in gore.

 

Jemulan’s spear impaled an Ork’s chest, killing it, but its fellows held on to the spear outside its power field, not allowing retrieval. “Down!” he ordered.

The first three ranks knelt whilst the fourth and fifth unloaded an entire clip of bolter fire into the Orks. As the fire ended, the legionnaires rose. Jemulan retrieved his spear from dead alien hands. “Push!”

 

A battle-brother fell, helm cracked open by a jumping Ork with an axe. The line shifted to cover the small gap left by the fallen legionnaire. The Ork was quickly killed by those behind the dead Scar. The shield and spear were picked up and the line made whole again.

 

“Push!” The rate of fire from behind was declining, ammo was running out, energy charges depleting and plasma coils overheating.

 

Hundreds of greenskins were dead, only a single legionnaire dead, but that ratio would not last.

 

Finish the beacon, Yesugei, finish it!

 

---

 

It appeared as a blue fire in their mind’s eye. Yesugei stood beside it, directing the flows, concentrating them. The other eighteen psyker Astartes gave their power to him, fuelling him. In the Immaterium, they stood in an open field on Chogoris, surrounded by ko’tesh stalk-grass.

A howl of malevolence reached them.

 

+They come.+

 

In the real world they were immobile, but here they could move, they could fight. Only he could not participate; the directing and managing of the flows taking all of his focus.

 

The stalks rustled and warp spawn emerged, taking on various predator forms from Chogoris. The psykers raised their blades and staffs; no bolter would harm them, only ancient weapons would banish ancient beings in this realm.

 

As the psykers fought, knowing that if they lost here then they would be open to possession, they did so with contained fury, expertly blocking, dodging and executing blows. Yesugei was proud of them, but he knew, as they did too, that not all would survive.

 

Jaiso Buia was the first to die, his legs cut out from under him by a yaksha imitating a foko’rai predator. When Jaiso fell, he continued to fight but a dozen yaksha fell upon him, and his death-screams were of defiance.

 

“Torghun, one has fallen! One has fallen!” Yesugei screamed as more daemons approached.

 

---

 

+…has fallen. One has fallen!+

 

The words were whispered, but they came from within. Torghun knew who sent them. His eyes scanned the Stormseers, looking for any sign. All were immobile still, their faces locked in concentration.

 

Must have been the yaksha

 

Stormseer Jaiso Buia began to shake.

 

One of his legionnaires moved to assist. “Brother, are you-”

 

The Stormseer’s staff lashed out, caving in the chestplate of the Astartes, crushing organs and killing him instantly.

 

Jaiso opened his eyes and they simmered red with death.

 

“Jaiso…” warned Torghun, drawing his blade.

 

A deep, hateful voice responded, the words dripping with murderous promise. “Not… any… more.”

 

Torghun rushed the yaksha, sword activated and the daemon readied its staff which now warped into a mace.

 

The other Astartes rushed to meet the possessed Stormseer.

 

The daemon backhanded Torghun, sending him flying into the crystalline wall. It grabbed a legionnaire’s helm, crushing it like rotten fruit with a squeeze. Another brother unloaded his bolter into the beast, weakening it, but not killing it. Torghun pushed himself up from where he lay, gritted his teeth, and re-joined the fray.

 

---

 

Hours had passed. The ammunition was all but gone, the Orks never ending. Plasma coils were fried; the lascannon only had enough power to fire six, perhaps seven shots. The Noyan-Khan sidestepped a spiked hammer’s blow, allowing the Astartes behind him to kill the hammer’s bearer.

 

“Push!”

 

Another step, another hundred dead Orks, and another two dead White Scars; over forty Scars were dead now.

 

Hurry, Yesugei, do it now!

 

---

 

The fire was higher now, reaching into the clouds. It was ready, this inferno.

 

Turning to look at his brothers, he saw six were dead, their bodies now possessed in the Materium.

 

Kneeling into the dirt, he wrote sigils of power and protection, speaking in Khorchin.

 

Once finished, he stood again. “Brothers!” he yelled. “Stand fast.”

 

Holding his staff with both hands, he slammed it into the earth and the flame spiralled farther into the sky with more flames spreading outwards from it to encompass them all.

 

---

 

Torghun decapitated the fourth possessed Stormseer, killed before it was able to manifest, the shaking was the sign of possession. He had lost thirteen brothers to kill four and two remained. As the Space Marines barred their blades to fight the remaining two, a blue wave of energy passed from Yesguei throughout the chamber. The two possessed fell down, banished. The wave continued to expand outwards.

 

---

 

Another Ork was killed, but his spear was lost, pulled into the mass of bodies. Jemulan pulled his sword from its scabbard. Raising it, he was about to shout an order when a blue wave passed through him. It did nothing to him and his men, but the Orks fell down, writhing in agony and death-throes. Blood trickled from their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.

 

The legionnaires stood on guard for a moment, wary of tricks but the dying Orks allowed a cheer to erupt from them, swords upraised and chests beaten by armoured fists.

 

It was over. The signal had been sent. It had been sent!

 

---

 

Day 29

It took two days for the zadyin arga to awaken, their bodies having gone into a deep sleep to recover from their exhaustive ordeal. A hundred Scars stood guard, partly as protectors, and partly as executioners if the men who woke were not the same as those that had drifted to sleep. Thirteen Stormseers had fallen asleep, but only ten rose whole in spirit and mind. Three faced internal struggle and were given the Emperor’s Peace.

Yesugei was one of those that had awoken, and he felt tired, drained and spent, but content.

 

“Did it work?” asked Jemulan, he stood in front the Stormseers, his armour blackened and dirtied from combat.

 

“Yes. The flare has been lit, shown to all who could see. We can only hope someone noticed it and comes to discover its nature.”

 

Jemulan grunted. “The best we could have hoped for.”

 

Yesugei titled his head in agreement.

 

The Stormseer straightened before his commander, steadying himself on a rock. “How many Orks are left?”

 

Jemulan’s frown deepened. “All within fifty kilometres of here were killed by the pulse, but there are still some thousands more.”

 

Jemulan turned to look over the recovering legionnaires. What he saw filled him with satisfaction at their resilience.

 

“And we will kill them all.”

 

---

 

Day 337

The sun rose over Chondax, a red, rising tumour breaking the horizon as it moved upwards.

 

Haren watched the ball of fusion for hours, the temperature rapidly rising. His spirit was tainted with melancholically, his body and soul weary from the three hundred and thirty-seven days of hell.  It was nearing a year since the Purge, and the surviving Space Marines numbered barely a third of what they once had been when they descended to the surface in what was thought would be the last battle for the planet.

 

Since the psychic pulse sent into the Immaterium, the Astartes had combed through the caverns, killing what few xenos remained. The last significant Ork threat had been eliminated three months ago. Now there were few, if any, left alive, and they cowered from the superior legionnaires.

 

A gauntlet rested on his shoulder. Turning, he nodded to his second, Sanco.

 

The fourteen Astartes ushered across Chondax’s broken surface, traversing thirty kilometres in two hours of semi-rough terrain. They eventually came to a chasm: their entry point. Descending into the earth, they climbed downwards; using combat blades to arrest their fall, the journey took another half-hour before they reached ground.

 

Once all fourteen descended they ran quickly towards base, reaching Sanctuary soon after. Arriving amidst frantic activity, he noticed something different. The atmosphere was charged, electric, but not from any generator or warp power. Haren saw Arghun racing across the vast cavern. Rushing to him, he grabbed the psyker’s arm.

 

“What is happening? Why was I called back from my recon mission?” he asked.

 

“Six hours ago several ships entered the system.”

 

“Orks?” he demanded, alarmed.

 

“No, Imperial. We have made vox contact. Sixteenth Legion, Sons of Horus.” Arghun stopped, a smile rising upon his weary face. “Haren, help has arrived.”

 

---

 

Day 338

It took nearly twenty-four hours for the XVI squadron of warships to enter Chondax’s high orbit. Captain Tybalt Marr of the Eighteenth Company, Sons of Horus Legion, led the entirety of his company’s dropship contingent to the black surface of the planet below. Landing at the pre-arranged coordinates, he walked down the ramp to an impressive sight.

 

Three thousand Space Marines stood before him, their armour and weaponry broken, their livery and Legion colours all but gone, their armour a streaked greyish-black mess. Hundreds looked on the verge of death, most impoverished as their bodies had been recycling the same waste for most of a year to keep their body in some form of functioning shape. Several stood in the front, obviously the commanders. The moved to him and he to them.

Removing his helm, the others following suit, the sea-green and black armoured Astartes looked at them, watching as they stood there bodies half-broken, but wills strong as iron. Marr recognized the grizzled veteran at the fore.

 

Saluting, he inclined his head respectfully. “Jemulan Noyan-Khan, it is good to see you alive.”

 

“It is good to see you as well, Captain Marr, but I am no longer Jemulan Noyan-Khan for that was my name as a White Scar, a brotherhood I am no longer a part of. We dropped our Chogorian names and traditions many months ago.” Jemulan looked towards his brothers. “We have left behind our names that once we carried while serving the Warhawk. No longer am I known as Jemulan Noyan-Khan of the Horde of the Earth, but Commander Rel Felsar. These beside me were once known as Stormseer Targutai Yesugei and Torghun Khan, now called Chief Librarian Shinaz Arghun and Captain Haren Svensellen. We are no longer White Scars, nor even Fifth Legion. We are Sagyar Mazan, the broken brotherhood, the suicide sons. We will join the greater war. We will not stop until the Arch-Traitor is dead. We will not stop until the Fifth Primarch’s skull lies before the Golden Throne!” The last brought throaty cheers from the former Scars.

 

Marr nodded at that in admiration.

 

“That is good, Commander Felsar. I have orders from my primarch to bring you into the Imperial fold, to help us fight back at the traitors. It took many months to get here, months longer than expected, but now we can re-join the war.”

 

“Is this squadron all you’ve brought from Terra?” asked Captain Svensellen, hesitantly.

 

Marr shook his head minutely. “This is but a scouting element. The Warmaster has dispatched most of the XVI to fight the traitors. He remains on the Throneworld to coordinate the war effort, with an honour guard and a strategic reserve.”

 

Haren nodded at that, contented.

 

“Now,” gestured Marr, “let us leave this rock.”

 

The Sagyar Mazan needed no further encouragement, quickly filling the assembled dropships’ empty holds. Over ten thousand White Scars loyalists were sent to be purged; now only three thousand one hundred and sixty-two survived, now styling themselves the Sagyar Mazan. But those survivors were ready to fight the traitors, but more importantly ready to fight for the Emperor against their father and brothers.


War Commander of Chaos


#16
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Warmaster

 

Clocks struck midnight, bells Palace-wide rung deep and heavy. The metallic ringing echoed through majestic and rich hallways, corridors, chambers, gardens, courtyards and more. In a room deep in the Inner Palace, not more than five kilometres from the Throne Room, was a vast chamber lined with advanced cogitators, pict-screens and vox-casters. The vast amount of incoming information and dispatched orders of a galaxy at war was supported by fifty data-looms a half-kilometre beneath the chamber’s marbled floor. The occupants ranged from tech-priests that supervised data-watchers, cogitator-operators and technologians, while Imperial Army and Space Marine officers pored over the battle reports and casualty lists. In its centre a fifteen metre hololithic map of the galaxy hovered, slowly spinning. Blue stood for Imperial forces, crimson for traitor, yellow for battles in progress, orange for secessionists, white for unknown allegiance, and grey for unexplored space.

 

The chamber was known as the Strategium Imperialis, and it was where the Imperium’s military commander directed the war against the War Commander. The reinforced adamantium doors hissed open to admit three primarchs, followed by several of their progeny. Hundreds of men and women stood in respect, all that were in attendance. The demigods paused at the overview dais.

 

Horus Lupercal, Sixteenth Primarch, First Found, Favoured Son of the Emperor, and Warmaster of the Imperium, stood tall, strong, the epitome of strength and charisma given flesh.

 

His eyes were grey, flecks of blue and green amidst them, his noble face sculpted as if from stone. To his right stood Rogal Dorn, the Seventh Primarch, the Stoic Son, Fist of the Emperor, the Vigilant, and Emperor’s Praetorian. Resplendent in his golden armour, Dorn folded his arms as he studied the holo-map.

 

To Horus’ left stood the Fourteenth Primarch, the Reaper, Death Lord of Barbarus, Mortarion. The intricately designed rebreather, gifted to him by the Emperor on their first meeting, sighed quietly as the primarch breathed in and out. His manreaper Perseverance ever at hand, as were two Deathshroud who stood forty-nine paces away, watchful for assassins and threats, as were the Luperci bodyguards of Horus and the Huscarls of Dorn. The Night of Silent Knives had shown that the Arch-Traitor had supporters in the Palace itself, and the safety of the three Loyal Primarchs could not be risked.

The Warmaster glanced at the map, noting the changes since yesterday. In the twelve hours he had been gone from the Strategium, the situation had worsened, with few exceptions. The war was barely six months old, but it had caused far more damage to his father’s empire than the previous two hundred years of crusading combined had done.

 

Flexing the Talon-carrying hand, he cleared his throat. All eyes were on him, awaiting his command.

 

“Let us begin.”

 

The sounds of bodies seating, chairs scrapping, voices murmuring, and hums of energy increasing occurred in that moment. The three primarchs, their attendants and messengers ready for commands, prepared for another long day of organising and directing the galactic-wide civil war.

 

---

 

Twelve hours passed in the Strategium. Orders were sent, new information received from the City of Sight and Terran Command, forcing certain orders to be edited then sent again. Battlegroups were ordered from one sector to another, Army divisions ordered to advance, retreat or hold in a thousand star systems and Space Marine forces sent on strikes against traitor forces.

 

Horus took note of the information that Perturabo had secured Olympia from rebels, and was recalling available Fourth Legion assets to assemble a mighty war-fleet in his home system. The Warmaster quickly read his brother’s communiqué, nodding as he finished. Glancing at the messenger, he spoke, “Tell my brother that I have received his message and agree with its contents. He may proceed as he sees fit.”

 

The grey-clad mortal bowed and left to take the message to the City of Sight. Reports of the day filled the Warmaster’s mind, sifting through what was more important over what was less.

 

Sanguinius had arrived to Baal Secundus, taking on new legionnaires and doing quick repairs to the Ninth Legion fleet, repairing some of the damage suffered over Bellanor IV. Russ continued to track Magnus, heading towards the galactic rim, though trusted spies in Fulgrim’s ranks reported that hundreds of Fifteenth Legion Astartes were in the 28th Expeditionary Fleet and that nightmares of a one-eyed red giant haunted the dreams of many mortals. Communicating with Russ was all but impossible as increasing warp storms made long range astropathic communication an arduous task to even attempt.

 

Contact with Guilliman’s Realm had been lost. The last known information was that the Iron Hands and Word Bearers were laying waste to Ultramar, billions dead already and Guilliman on the defensive throughout the Five Hundred Worlds. Lion El’Jonson had informed Terra that he was aware of the Heresy, but could not disengage from the Shield Worlds Campaign, his Legion mired in combat on a half-hundred worlds. The First Primarch stated he would finish the war there and make way to the Throneworld as soon as was feasible.

 

Isolated reports detailed Jaghatai and his Scars running amok among undefended worlds, enslaving millions and butchering the rest. The loss of the Warhawk was a blow to the Imperium and a personal affront to Horus. He was bitter over their last conversation and had wanted to right the wrongs spoken there, but his pride and duties interfered with the apology he meant to give Jaghatai. With the Khan standing beside the Phoenix in treachery, that apology would never happen. The Fifth was no longer a friend of his, but an enemy to be despised. Though most of the Khan’s actions were against unimportant worlds, several battles were over supply depots, muster points and shipyards. Where the Warhawk ventured, only death and smoking ruins was left behind.

 

Night Lord terror-fleets plagued the Imperium, forcing hundreds of worlds to switch allegiance out of fear. Those that did not were ruthlessly put to the death, as was the case with Murdock. With the Murder as an example, countless billions flocked to the Phoenician, uncaring that they were now rebels, their only thoughts were of their immediate safety. Curze and many of his legionnaires spearheaded the traitor advance, softening up worlds for the main traitor offensive to arrive, or ensuring chaos reigned on worlds deigned to be conquered by the Arch-Betrayer.

 

Angron’s World Eaters guarded the flanks of principal offensives, ensuring none could stop the drive towards Terra. The Red Angel broke Imperial counter-attack after Imperial counter-attack, surging forward to take advantage of overstretched loyalist forces. Raven Guard contingents had been seen fighting beside the World Eaters, which directly contradicted other reports where the Nineteenth Legion struck from the dark against the rebellion, assassinating traitor officers and disrupting their supply lines. Though it was clear Corax fought for the Emperor, establishing contact was all but impossible. The Ravenlord refused to answer hails from Horus, rather willing to fight the war his way.

 

Jaw clenched in frustration, the Warmaster turned his attention to the mini-hololithic of the Sol System's edge near Pluto, where the Death Guard survivors from Bellanor were being monitored and interrogated, searching for possible traitors hiding in their midst. Already nineteen had been earmarked as Typhon followers. The Death Lord’s manreaper was soon to execute them all.

 

The Salamanders were also in the system, but not monitored or interrogated to the degree the XIV legionnaires were experiencing. Vulkan lay in the Emperor’s laboratories, recovering from wounds suffered at the Massacre. It would be days until the Lord of Drakes was ready to walk. The wounds suffered during the Exodus would have killed a primarch, but Vulkan was projected to make a full recovery. When Horus asked his father how could Vulkan not only survive but recover, the Emperor had gone silent and responded, “Every one of my sons inherited gifts of mine. Vulkan inherited a rare one.”

 

Shaking his head at his father’s mysteries, Horus turned his attention back to the galaxy map.

 

The Alpha Legion was seen to be everywhere, yet none knew where Alpharius was. His location unknown, intercepted orders cryptic at best, and Hydra legionnaires were toppling world governments across all five Segmentums, crippling Imperial industry and sowing destabilisation. A thousand pinpricks, but even a pinprick draws blood.

 

When the bells began to ring signalling noon, Horus, Dorn and Mortarion left the Strategium. A dozen legionnaire officers remained behind to organise and prioritise the endless reports for the next day’s cycle. The primarchs departed for the midday meal. They ate, making small talk, discussing various topics, but it came around to the war, it always did. They were made for war, forged for it, designed to lead it, to wage it. This war would be their test, their crucible. The Imperium of Man would never know peace. If Fulgrim were to die tomorrow, his betrayal would echo through the ages, forever tainting Mankind’s Manifest Destiny and the creatures that fought beside Fulgrim were whispered as daemons, revealing the Imperial Truth to be a lie, or at best a false truth.

 

As the meal was finished, taken away by a liveried Palace servant, Horus looked at his two brothers. They knew what he was thinking; he had pondered it for weeks now. But a decision must be made now.

 

“As today showed, our efforts to stop Fulgrim are not enough. I will authorise the deployment of the Sixteenth Legion to the frontlines.”

 

Mortarion nodded gravely, Dorn’s face seeming not to register the words but Horus knew better.

 

The Praetorian spoke, “When will you let them know?”

 

Horus sipped his wine before answering. “Tonight.”

 

---

 

Garviel Loken, Captain of the Sixteenth Legion’s Tenth Company and member of the Mournival, looked out over new moon, the slight silver-white crescent giving some light to the courtyard. His genhanced eyes allowed him to easily see despite the darkness. His eyes roamed the simplistic courtyard, known as Court of the Wolf. Loken had not been an officer then, only a legionnaire, but he knew the tale.

 

This was where the Eleventh Primarch was brought to; this is where he became lost to all. If Loken had been there that day, he would have wept. Was the removal of the Second and Eleventh a sign of things to come?

 

We will never know.

 

Shaking off his melancholy, the Son of Horus heard footsteps clad in ceramite approaching. Tarik Torgaddon walked into the Court. The two exchanged pleasantries until they heard two others approach.

 

First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon and Captain Horus Aximand, the other two of the Mournival, joined their brothers.

 

“Why have we been summoned?” asked Little Horus.

 

“The primarch wishes to tell us something, I suspect,” Tarik quipped.

 

As Aximand and Torgaddon went back and forth in friendly jabs, Loken glanced at Abaddon. The First Captain’s armour was different than theirs, signalling his leadership of the Justaerin; black versus the Cthonian sea green with black trim.

 

Before conversation could start between he and Abaddon, another joined their presence.

 

“My sons,” murmured Horus Lupercal.

 

The four Mournival members turned towards the voice and bowed their heads, fist brought to chestplate in salute.

 

The Warmaster moved towards them.

 

“My sons,” he repeated, “today will be a day marked in history.”

 

“Why is that, Lupercal?” asked Torgaddon.

 

“Because this is the day the Sons of Horus joined the war directly.”

 

The air became electric. Loken saw Tarik tilt his head, pondering. Aximand nodded as if he expected this, while Abaddon looked… content, relieved almost.

 

“It is time the XVI joined the frontlines, time that we took the war to the Arch-Betrayer. You will be my wrath, the sharp edge of my blade. You four will lead the Sons in the battles to come.”

 

“We? But what of you, my lord?” asked Abaddon, face contorted in confusion and, if Loken read his brother right, worry.

 

“I will remain here, directing the war effort. My duties as Warmaster require me to stay.”

 

“But Lord Dorn-”

 

“My brother has to focus on fortifying Terra,” the primarch’s voice was sharp, but his face softened and he spoke again, not unkindly. “Do not mistake me, Ezekyle, I wish that I could abandon this politicking, the endless administration, the waiting. But I cannot. I am not just Primarch of the Sons of Horus, but Warmaster of the Imperium. My responsibilities of the two do not supersede the other; I must strike a balance between them.”

 

The Warmaster looked over them all, judging, calculating.

 

“Now,” he began, “let us talk of your orders.”

 

---

 

Less than an hour had passed, but much was discussed. Data-slates were given from father to sons, orders expanded in depth there as well as administrative details, Astartes numbers and more; everything necessary to wage a campaign.

 

Lupercal dismissed them, knowing that the next few days would be very busy for them as the preparations to deploy began. Loken remained behind. He watched the primarch’s back, not knowing how to approach the subject.

 

“Garviel, come forth. We will speak of your unease.”

 

The Space Marine complied, standing beside his father, neither looking at the other.

 

A moment of silence passed before Loken had to utter, “Why?”

 

The primarch was silent for a moment.

 

“Ezekyle is proud, loyal, brave, doubtless in his convictions, and an excellent commander on the battlefield. Wherever my First Captain fights, I expect the enemy to shake in fear. He is my aggression, my fury.

 

“Tarik is a charmer, a jokester. But underneath that he is inspirational, bundling my charisma and humour to act as an excellent mediator. He is my connection to the inner thoughts, hopes and dreams that reside in the hearts and minds of the Legion.

 

“Little Horus is a vaunted commander, beloved by the men, and does the necessary when called for. He is the mirror of me, my son in blood and manner.”

 

Horus turned to Loken.

 

“But you are the most unique of the Mournival in many ways, perhaps it is because you are the newest inductee. You voice unpopular opinions, you stand by your beliefs, and will not do what is easiest or simple, but you do what is right. You see not the next step, nor the one after, but several in advance. You are methodical, cautious, the one who is not afraid to speak his mind, no matter if it clashes with my own. In an older age, you would have been known as the ‘devil’s advocate.’”

 

The Warmaster rested a hand on Loken’s shoulder, warm, fatherly, kind. “I have never properly thanked you for saving my life.”

 

“My lord, I-” Loken stopped at the primarch’s raised hand.

 

“It was your decision to place me in stasis, it was your decision to go to Terra, it was your decisions that kept me alive long enough for the Emperor to purge the corruption from my body. You convinced the others, and their respect for you has grown.”

 

The Warmaster withdrew his hand. “A commander, much less a primarch, cannot surround himself with yes-men, blind or mindless followers, or those that feel he can do no wrong. Three of the Mournival will leave to fight the traitors, but you will stay for I need you here. You have aspects of the others, their strengths with few of their weaknesses.”

 

Loken bowed his head in acceptance.

 

“Do not fear, Garviel. You may remain behind on Terra as my advisor, but that does not mean you will be idle. Worlds throughout the Segmentum are in rebellion. Ezekyle, Tarik and Horus will not go there, they have other battles to fight, but you are a Son of Horus, war is your birth-right. Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, Lupercal.” And Loken did. His belief that had fostered during the briefing that he was unworthy to join the others had vanished. The rest of the Mournival may cross blades with the Arch-Traitor’s armies, but Loken would remain to ready Terra for when the war comes to it. He would stand by the primarch’s side, acting as his devil’s advocate, and fight the battles no others would.

 

“Good,” spoke the First Found. “Now let’s go, there is still much to do.”

 

---

 

Ten days later the bulk of the Sons of Horus left Sol, broken into several taskforces and fleets. First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon departed with fifty thousand legionnaires, Captain Tarik Torgaddon and Captain Horus Aximand with forty thousand apiece. Five thousand legionnaires were sent to Cthonia to ready the Legion homeworld for war, quieting the endless gang warfare, and arming the populace. When Fulgrim would assault Terra, he would first have to take Cthonia. What would remain in Sol would be twenty-five thousand Astartes held in reserve, commanded by Captain Garviel Loken, and the Warmaster’s five hundred strong Luperci bodyguard.

 

Though the primarch would rarely leave Terra as the demands of war forced him to coordinate the loyalist military might, his sons would fight across the Imperium, bleeding the traitors as they moved inexorably to the Throneworld. Many victories would be won, many defeats suffered, but nonetheless the Sons of Horus brought their unquenched fury to the War Commander's forces as the war entered its next stage.


War Commander of Chaos


#17
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Perfection Marred

 

Gaeis Henohn, shipmaster of the heavy cruiser Righteous Elegance, watched his ship’s primary view-screen as the Third Legion warship moved deeper into the Chemos Star System asteroid field, the Kyklos Belt. Flanking it were two destroyers, the Ediphon and Bright Star. The small squadron had been in the Belt for weeks now, searching for the loyalists that had escaped the Feast of Rebirth. Some had escaped Chemos and were able to get on a warp-capable starship, but these loyalists managed only to board an intra-system cargo hauler. His squadron was only one of many combing through Kyklos, the primarch’s standing orders were to find and eliminate them.

 

Henohn wished to be in the wider war, fighting beside the main fleets, the ones conquering in the War Commander’s name. It was an honour, he thought, to be assigned to the Chemosian Defence Fleet. But the Fulgrimian Heresy, as many on both sides were calling it, neared four months old since its inception at the Dropsite Massacre, and the most exciting event in that time for Henohn had been rest and recovery on Chemos. The pleasure he experienced at Callax’s primary officer’s brothel had been… exquisite.

 

“Shipmaster, charge ready,” spoke his weapons’ officer.

 

Clearing his mind with a slight shake, he stood straighter in his command throne.

 

“Very well, fire.”

 

From one of Righteous Elegance’s torpedo tubes, an enlarged explosive charge was fired towards wide crevice in a large asteroid. It was large enough for the small hijacked hauler to hide in. The charge went in and detonated.

 

Not strong enough to break apart the asteroid, but powerful enough to destroy whatever lay in the crevice. Small rock fragments flew to the three warships, their void-shields disintegrating them on impact.

 

“Report,” he ordered, though he could not help the tone of boredom that seeped in. Luckily the Astartes on board were not on the bridge. Lieutenant Commander Nyphen was not one to shirk his duty, or those that he commanded, and boredom was akin to shirking in the legionnaire’s mind-set.

 

“Scanning… scanning… Asteroid B3-774U is void of enemy presence. No clear wreckage.”

 

“Well, that’s disappointing.” Running a hand through his thinning hair, he shrugged. “Proceed to the next tar-”

 

“Contact, contact! Ship detected, six hundred kilometres ahead, fleeing, point of origin Asteroid B3-667E.”

 

“One of ours?” If it was, Henohn would chew out the officer stupid enough to be in his sector.

 

“Negative. Classification: intra-system cargo hauler, name: Daeinata.”

 

“That’s her,” he whispered. Chuckling, thinking about the reward he would receive, the shipmaster opened a link to the legionnaires.

 

“Lord Nyphen, we have found them.”

 

The response was immediate. “Acknowledged. We will deploy soon.”

 

“My lord, wouldn’t it be better to destroy them from a distance.”

 

The legionnaire’s voice dripped with malice, “Silence, mortal, this is Legion business. Mind your tongue.”

 

Sweat budded on his face, his mouth became dry at the thought of provoking the Astartes. “Of course, my lord, apologies.” At least he did not stutter, he knew how to talk to them.

 

A grunt was the response.

 

“I am sending you the data now,” Henohn said, nodding to second who quickly transmitted the necessary information to the lieutenant commander.

 

Within moments five Thunderhawks, filled with the entirety of the Twenty-Ninth Millennial’s Sixteenth Company, left Righteous Elegance’s hangar bay.  One hundred Space Marines to personally fight and kill those that defied their gene-sire. Intelligence reported the loyalists on that hauler numbered no more than forty, at best. Accompanying the dropships were two squadrons of void interceptors, to hunt down any escape pods or dropship from the hauler.

 

Within moments the Sons of Fulgrim neared the hauler, forcibly boarding it with melta-charges. Henohn knew the legionnaires would be going for the bridge and the engine room, securing both would secure the ship.

 

“Sir?” spoke his vox-officer, shock and panic entering her voice.

 

“Yes?” he asked, curiously.

 

“We have been boarded, Deck C7.”

 

Henohn bolted his feet. “What?!”

 

“We have been boarded, sir; internal scans report at least thirty Space Marines are engaging the crew. They are slaughtering them,” she sounded scared, as well she should.

 

“How did they get aboard?” he demanded, sitting back down.

 

“Our shields were lowered for several minutes for the dropships and interceptors. Perhaps they attached to the hull before they were raised again.”

 

“A ship would have been detected.”

 

“Aye, but not power armour,” argued his tactical officer, “Those are void-sealed and we passed by a medium sized asteroid. It is not inconceivable that they went from asteroid to ship via thrusters taken from the hauler.”

 

Henohn shook his head angrily. “Contact Lieutenant Commander Nyphen, we need him here-”

 

The hauler exploded, detonations coming from within. The Thunderhawks were caught in the blastwave, as were several of the fighters, becoming nothing more than cosmic dust. Henohn slumped in his throne, his one hope vanished.

 

He listened to his officers as they reported the crises overtaking the ship. Ship-to-ship vox was being jammed, likely by a Techmarine. Riot suppression security teams and anti-boarding ship defence squads rushed to stop the boarders, but they might as well have been fleas to a lion. The engine room was lost, the last transmission from the tech-priest cut short by the buzzing whirr of a chain weapon. Soon after the armouries and hangar bay fell. Henohn eventually turned off the vox. The screams were too much. Eventually, they came for the bridge. The thud of heavy figures rapped outside, a musician of death playing the tune of revenge.

 

The door exploded, molten metal dripping to the deck as a dozen figures entered in Legion colours. One bridge crewmember raised a laspistol but was punched by a viper-fast legionnaire, caving in the crewmember’s chest. The officer flew across the bridge to impact the wall, sliding down leaving crimson smears behind. There he lay in a growing pool of his own blood, breathing erratic, wheezing, and failing. No others moved in defiance, all knew they could not resist.

 

These were no Sons of Fulgrim, but Emperor’s Children. The Palatine Aquila, not the Chemosian Phoenix, rested upon their breastplate showcasing their allegiance. The Astartes secured the command deck, making sure none would sabotage at the last moment.

 

One, bearing the markings of captain, moved to him. Red eye lenses looked down upon Henohn. He saw himself reflected in them, and felt insignificant beneath that hateful gaze.

 

“Shipmaster, open fire on the two destroyers.”

 

“I… I can’t…. that’s treason.”

 

“A traitor, not wanting to commit treason, refuses to betray betrayers. How ironic.” The officer pulled his bolt pistol from his mag-lock. “Fire on the other ships now or face the consequences.”

 

Henohn sunk further into his throne, eyes fearfully watching the pistol. “I cannot. They’ll… they’ll kill me if I do.”

 

The Space Marine knelt onto the plasteel floor. “If you do not, I will kill you.”

 

Henohn glanced at the pistol again, shaking in fear. The sweat from earlier returning, much multiplied.

 

“Fi- Fire at… the enemy ships,” he said weakly.

 

The legionnaire nodded and rose.

 

The Righteous Elegance fired against its two escorts, who had closed in for assistance, not realising their squadron flagship had been taken over by loyalists. The outcome wasn’t in question when the heavy cruiser unleashed its awesome arsenal. Within twenty minutes both destroyers drifted in Kyklos Belt, no more than shattered wreckage and flickering fires.

 

With the escorts destroyed, Henohn saw a half dozen Stormbirds emerge from a crevice in another asteroid, heading towards his ship. When the Stormbirds landed, he watched the pict-feed built into his throne and witnessed hundreds more Emperor’s Children emerging from them.

 

No more than forty, my arse, he thought darkly.

 

Another officer, another captain, soon joined the other on the bridge.

 

They conversed through the vox, or so he assumed, nothing was said through the external speakers. Eventually they motioned for the crew to leave.

 

“What are you going to do to us?” he asked them.

 

They did not deign to respond, merely shepherding them to an empty cargo hold several decks below, pushing them in and locking them up. It was not the entire crew, as that numbered in the thousands, but the command crew and officers and ranking non-coms that could potentially incite rebellion amongst the crew were interred. The Mechanicum priest and his acolytes were nowhere to be seen. Henohn assumed they were dead.

 

Many of the crew prayed, many to the primarch and the Dark Gods, some though were to the Emperor. Henohn knew he should stop that, but found he could not. No matter if the ship was somehow retaken by the Sons of Fulgrim, he had lost, life forfeit the minute the loyalists had secured his vessel. Slumping against the wall, hot streams of salty tears dripping from his face, the former commander of the Righteous Elegance wept like a child.

 

---

 

Hellionna and Apillia, the twin suns that warmed Chemos and gave the twilight world what little light it received, disappeared as the captured heavy cruiser entered the warp via an outlying Mandeville point. The ship ached and sighed, but no more than usual. The four Techmarines that still called themselves Children of the Emperor monitored the engine, both plasma and warp.

 

Solomon Demeter, former Captain of the First Millennial’s Second Company, frowned as the ship soared through the Immaterium. The Navigator proclaimed loyalty to the Throne. The validity of that would be discerned when they reached Terra. Thinking of the Throneworld drew his thoughts to the folded tattered Imperial Aquila flag that resided inside his Mark IV Maximus-pattern armour. It was one of two that his company fielded, the other being the Legion’s.

 

When the Feast quickly turned to butchery, he had burned the Legion flag, carrying the Aquila flag proudly as he rallied his like-minded brothers to secure several dropships for escape. Now… now he carried it as a reminder. Of what once was, of what was, and what may be. The dream of Unity died that day, replaced by fratricide and civil war, and the future was uncertain. Tapping his chestplate, beneath which rested the flag; he resonated with it, affirming himself to its ideals and hopes. It was a link to a better time, a more proud time of glory and conquest.

 

Now it resembled the light in the dark, the shield against madness. It was all he had anymore.

 

“Brother,” voxed Saul Tarvitz, Captain of the Fourth Millennial’s Tenth Company. “The regalia and banners of the Arch-Betrayer have been burned, as per orders.”

 

“Good.”

 

“How long is the journey to take?”

 

Demeter thought back to his discussion of the Navigator before he locked himself away in his protective chamber for the duration of warp travel.

 

“Four to five months, possibly longer depending on if there are any storms or difficult tides.”

 

“Copy, Solomon. I will lead the deck patrols, to make sure any mutation or taint is taken care of.”

 

“Very well, Saul. Good hunting.”

 

Ending the link, he looked at the void-screens and thick plexiglass windows. Blank and covered to prevent the miasma of colours that was the Immaterium from driving an individual to insanity and damnation. The Emperor’s Children destination lingered in his mind.

 

To Terra. To the Emperor. To judgment.

 

---

 

When the Righteous Elegance emerged from the warp into real-space it discovered nearly seven months had passed. It found itself on the far edge of the Sol System, centre of the Imperium of Man. Within moments of arrival, hails from Segmentum Solar squadrons assailed the vessel. When identified, the heavy cruiser was very nearly destroyed. Only rapid astropathic communiques from Terra forestalled such actions.

 

Within a day a squadron of Imperial Fist warships arrived from Saturn, led by a battle-barge, and escorted the Third Legion cruiser further in-system. It was not an escort of honour, but of caution. Torpedoes were readied; laser clusters, lance weaponry, macrocannons, plasma cannons and more were aimed at the Righteous Elegance, ready to destroy it within moments at the slightest sign of treachery.

 

When in orbit over Luna, three companies of Sons of Horus boarded it, led by Captain Garviel Loken, and moved swiftly to key capture points. They found the mortal crew imprisoned, the Astartes bearing the colours but not symbol of the Arch-Traitor’s own Legion were standing in the hangar bay and bridge, weapons stored in armouries and no threatening moves dared made.

 

When the ship was secured, the prison holds were emptied of mortal crew, taken to the Outer System by means of a stark grey coloured ship. There, at a secured locale, the crew would be interrogated for information concerning Chemos, the War Commander, or anything else relating to the Traitor Legions, ranging from number of ships, Traitor Army divisions and more.

 

Much was outdated and old useless information, but nuggets of worth were wormed out of them, whether they wanted it to or not. The crew would die in its entirety during and after the interrogations, their bodies burned in the furnaces of shipyard construction.

 

The Space Marines experienced a similar fate. Interred under guard inside the Somnus Citadel on Luna, the Emperor’s Children were screened by Sisters of Silence, a combined taskforce of Son of Horus, Imperial Fist and Iron Warrior Librarians, and inquisitive agents bearing the sigil of Malcador. Those that bore signs of mental, spiritual or physical corruption by Chaos were taken away, never to be seen again. Their brothers accepted this, knowing not all could escape their primogenitor’s black legacy. Two hundred and forty-seven Children became two hundred and thirty-nine; all declared true Children of the Emperor by unanimous consent by all investigative parties, loyal in body, mind and soul.

 

---

 

A month after arriving to Terra Solomon Demeter, escorted by ten golden plated Custodes, walked down the Hall of Leng. He knew the significance of this place, residence of the Emperor. A non-formal place when compared to the impressive and daunting Throne Room.

 

Turning into one of the many chambers of the Hall, Demeter was gestured in. He complied with the subtle order, as if he had a choice, the Custodes following suit. Demeter knew he was to meet, but the presence of the being before him was as heavy as a world, as impressive as a clear night sky and momentous. The Master of Mankind, Saviour of Humanity, the Emperor, sat back straight against the pearl white marble throne. His face was not unkind but nor was it harsh. It was lined, but not with age but with wisdom and assuredness. For all of Fulgrim’s attempts at attaining perfection, compared to his father he was but a poor copy of what truly was perfect in the universe. Ever the emulator, not the actual.

 

Before he knew what he was doing, Demeter knelt in subservience to his bastard father’s creator.

 

“Rise.” The timbre voice of the Emperor was deep, but not overly so.

 

Complying with the order, head still bowed, he waited for judgment.

 

“Look at me.”

 

Doing so was difficult; such was the majesty and raw power emanating from Him.

 

The Emperor’s stare was like a sword, sharp and focused.

 

Demeter’s mind could not function correctly, his rehearsed words halting in his mouth, unable to escape.

 

“Demeter. In an old era, on where ancient Grekan mythology thrived, the Grekans believed there was a goddess named Demeter. She was the deity of harvest, fertile soil, and growth. How apt that over thirty thousand years later another Demeter would be known to me, but this one a Space Marine of the Legiones Astartes, an officer who remembered old oaths and vows sworn long ago.”

 

The Emperor rose from His throne, moving to Demeter. Demeter’s gaze fell to the floor, remembering that looking at the ground before His feet was easier to bear than looking at Him directly.

 

But He moved to before him.

 

“You have survived horrid trials, the treachery of kin, and death of Unity, but not all is lost. The traitors near, and we prepare. You refused to become a Son of Fulgrim. Of that you have My gratitude, but no longer are you the Emperor’s Children. That name is too associated with the Wayward Son; it would cause others to look upon you with distrust and hate.”

 

The Emperor rested his hand upon Demeter’s head. The warmth and crackling energy in the air surged through the legionnaire.

 

“Kneel.”

 

He dropped instantly, head still bowed. The sound of a sword being drawn echoed in the chamber. A golden-red blade rested on his left shoulder.

 

“You are not a Son, nor a Child, but a Paladin. You will be here when the Arch-Traitor arrives, and you will defend the weak, fight for the just and defy the hordes of ruin.”

 

The sword moved from shoulder to head back to shoulder.

 

When finished, the Emperor spoke, “Rise, Imperial Paladin. Become Demeter of the new era.”

 

He did so. Compelled too by himself, he matched gazes with his redeemer. He knew what to say at that moment, coming to him in a burst of clarity he had not had in over a year.

 

“How may I serve?”

 

---

 

Saul Tarvitz’s head continued to ache, a by-product of thorough screening. Though many weeks old, his skull still throbbed, assured by chiurgeons and Apothecaries that the pain would fade in time. He did not much mind the pain; it reminded him he was human, enhanced though he was. And humans were flawed beings, weak in individual ways.

 

While Solomon was on Terra for talks with the Warmaster, Praetorian and other authorities, he waited on Luna with the other former Third Legion Astartes. Not only the ones that had arrived with him, but those that had escaped on warp-capable starships as the Feast turned into purge, as well as other isolated bands of Emperor’s Children that had made it to the Throneworld. Their numbers combined now reached over four hundred, if just barely.

 

Moving to his quarters, he passed watchful gun-drones, Sisters, and others who still monitored them. He did not blame them for such lingering caution. If eight primarchs could betray their father, their sons would be suspect. It was only logical.

 

After some time, he arrived to his door. Opening it, he noticed the difference immediately. Standing on an armour rack in the centre of the room was a set of unpainted grey Mark IV armour, lacking any livery or sigils.

 

Nearing it, he pondered, what is this?

 

“That,” spoke a voice from the shadows, “is your future.”

 

Turning quickly, hand on his combat blade, he relaxed when the speaker emerged from the shadows. Clenched hand rose to chestplate in salute. Bowing slightly, he spoke in a respectful tone.

 

“Lord Regent.”


Edited by Tanner151, 29 October 2017 - 05:23 AM.

War Commander of Chaos


#18
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Silence

A vast armada soared through the void, nearing the end of its mission. Spearheaded by the Red Tear, flagship of Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels, the Imperial ships boasted world-destroying battle-barges, fleet-breaking battleships, cruisers of all types, destroyers and frigates. Thousands of void interceptors flew in flight-strong formations, escorting the warships towards the fourth planet of Bellanor. As the ships passed the fifth world, a world of storms and acidic rain, legionnaires of the Blood Angels, Word Bearers, Salamanders, Emperor’s Children, World Eaters and Death Guard readied themselves for the battle to come.

 

Some checked weapons; others sat in meditation, whilst others sat in strategy chambers, looking over Night Lord idiosyncrasies and tactics used during the Great Crusade to better overcome them in combat. While the majority of the legionnaires readied themselves, the primarchs and their inner circles crafted a battle-plan to utterly destroy the murderous Eighth Legion.

 

Sanguinius, as commander of the Imperial Retribution Armada, spoke to his brothers, stating the importance of what they were about to do. All knew it would the destruction of a Legion, death of a brother, and all knew that what was to come was necessary for Mankind.

 

Another day passed until the armada entered high orbit over Bellanor IV, their battle-plan created and finalised. Drop-pods were prepped, dropships fuelled and armed, and Mechanicum assets blessed and readied. The Angel gave the order; tens of thousands of Space Marines fell to the world below. The galaxy would never be the same again.

 

---

 

Gern flexed his wrists as much as he could within Terminator battleplate. A tradition he had carried over from death, thankful that only his mortis brothers were in attendance, allowing him to show an old habit; therefore none would know his tick of old and associate it with the man he had been once.

 

The heavily modified Storm Eagle shook as it accelerated out of the hangar bay alongside the dozens of other dropships, the larger Stormbirds and Thunderhawks.

 

“Nervous, brother?” chided Saol in a light hearted manner.

 

Gern did not look back, but he snorted in his armour, the sound carrying through his external speakers.

 

“Not nervous, eager in a sense.”

 

“Eager to rest your feet on the ground you mean. You are so lazy,” joked Pekel.

 

Gern smirked at that in his helm, softly chuckling, it a dry rasping sound.

 

“Focus, brothers,” Baen broke in, tone hard. The Deathshroud sergeant looked back at his brothers. “We were left with the Legion to act as the primarch’s will. Now we act as his blade that will cut down the traitors, we are his representatives, more so than the others of the Legion. When we land, we will move toward the city’s centre, joining up with Blood Angel and World Eater assault elements.”

 

Silence reigned.

 

“Do you understand?” Baen barked.

 

“Yes, sergeant,” they replied in unison.

 

“Good.” The sergeant turned back to face the lander’s door, but cocked his head to the side. “Gern.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Do try and keep up. Your laziness is appalling.”

 

Laughter broke out between them as their ship surged towards war.

 

---

 

Jue stood on Endurance’s bridge, immobile, a constant reminder of whom he represented and the authority that came with it. To his right stood Hekl, whose stance was exactly as that of Jue. The two Deathshroud remained behind as their other eight brothers took part in the action on the planet below.

 

Just as the primarch always had two of their order nearby for protection, there must always be two to protect Mortarion’s flagship, whether he was there or not, whether there was war or not.

 

Shipmaster Ulfar thumbed his fingers against the metal railing encircling his command throne. The rest of the command crew did the monotonous duties to keep the ship in peak performance.

 

The shipmaster had been in Death Guard service for nearly two hundred years, since the days they were known as the Dusk Raiders. His hair was wispy and white, eyes a steely blue, jaw line protruding from a famished looking face. Wiry, short tempered and spiteful, but one of the best commanders in the Fourteenth Legion armada. His dedication to the Emperor and Mortarion were without question. He even bore the Mark of the Reaper, a hooded skull and scythe across his back, with the Aquila over his heart. But Ulfar was irked, more so than usual.

 

“Augur, anything?” demanded the shipmaster.

 

“Nothing, sir,” came the quick response.

 

“Where the bloody hell are they, huh?” The shipmaster shook his head in understandable frustration. “An entire Legion fleet just gone, but where, I wonder? The Night Lords are bastards, but they aren’t stupid.”

 

The mortal commander continued his tirade for some moments, but Jue found himself in agreement. The lack of the Eight Legion fleet was notably odd. But even if the Night Lord ships attacked them now, with surprise on their side, there would still be no chance for them to snatch victory. The armada arrayed against them was too vast, too powerful.

 

Ulfar went silent, but still checked the augur sensors frequently. Hekl opened a channel to him.

 

“They land, brother.”

 

“Aye, may the primarch’s will guide their blades.”

 

From the corner of his vision, he could see the other Astartes nod.

 

---

 

Gern rushed from the landing fields in cohesion with his mortis brethren. Thousands of Imperial Army soldiers clad in Nostraman livery were cut down, their heavy weapons silenced and smoking. Dozens of legionnaires were killed; even mortal’s weapons would do so such was their calibre.

 

As he clambered over a destroyed Leman Russ, Gern’s manreaper cut down a half-dozen troopers, their flak armour and flesh akin to thin paper when faced against his power scythe.

 

The rest of the mortis squad fought beside him, killing the mortals with ease. Overhead a Thunderhawk’s wing was clipped by anti-air fire and spirally crashed into a granite building, breaking apart as it destroyed the structure.

 

The AA gun was close, a street over in a tower; he could hear the bang of its guns spewing shells into the air, hoping to hit. Stepping towards its direction, he was stopped by a hand on the shoulder.

 

“Easy, brother, let the others secure the area,” said Baen, motioning towards other XIV Astartes that passed around them, securing tactical locations and silencing enemy AA fire on this flank of the advance. The AA gun was quickly silenced by a contingent of Grave Wardens, their bio-weapons smoking pungent fumes as they advanced, oblivious to the death cries of soldiers whose skins were blistering and melting off their skeletons and eyes turning to liquid jelly as Cullegene gas broke their bodies down on a cellular level.

 

“We have much ground to cover until our destination,” the sergeant continued. “The Night Lords had hoped to slow us down and whittle us away with unmodified soldiers.” If he had not been wearing his helm, he likely would have spit in disgust. “But we are not the enemies they have fought before. We are Death Guard, this kind of war is what we were created to fight,” Bane gestured towards Rose City, artillery peppering the outer districts as more and more IX and XII drop-pods descended into the inner city. Flames sprouted and smoke rose from the hab-districts where the Salamanders advanced, burning those that defied the Master of Mankind with pity and promethium.

 

“Come, Gern, we have traitors to kill.”

 

---

 

“Do you find it odd?”

 

“What aspect? Much has come across odd as of late.”

 

Hekl vox-clicked agreement before continuing.

 

“The First Captain has not joined battle. He allows Grulgor to lead what should be his right by rank.”

 

“What Typhon does is little concern at the moment, but the primarch will be informed.”

 

“Agreed.”

 

As updates to the ground war was sent to the Endurance, Jue did wonder what Typhon was doing not participating and withholding over thirty thousand Death Guard legionnaires. The Deathshroud were Mortarion’s guards, but they were also his eyes and ears.

 

When the VIII were eliminated, the primarch would be informed of this lack of leadership and battle vigour. It was not befitting a Legion’s first captain.

 

While he contemplated how to phrase the message, he noted that contact with the renegade legionnaires had finally been made.

 

---

 

The legionnaire was clad in midnight blue armour with lightning streaks throughout. Typical Eight Legion livery, but the human skins and bones hanging from him by wire and chains like trophies disgusted Gern. The Legiones Astartes were supposed to be paragons of Mankind, shining examples of duty and honour, the sword and shield of the Imperium. But the Space Marine before him was no true Astartes, rather a cruel being that fed on sadism and the cry of its victims.

Sidestepping the traitor’s chainsword, he cut through both legs, pivoted and impaled the Nostraman in the chest, manreaper humming with killing power.

 

“You die today, traitor, you and all your foul ilk.”

 

Instead of a rebuttal or a curse, as could be expected, the Night Lord began to laugh.

 

Frowning, Gern decapitated the traitor, his head bouncing off rubble strewn ground, the helm ocular lenses fading from red to black.

 

Around him, the Deathshroud finished the traitors they had come across. Eight Night Lords for one mortis brother, fought in a side alley beside an impressive looking museum. Kior would never fight again. The seven survivors surrounded their fallen brother, noting with approval that Kior had died with manreaper in hand, his scythe covered in the blood of rebels.

 

Baen knelt into the dirt of Bellanor, taking some in hand.

 

“Kior of the Death Guard, mortis brother of the Deathshroud, has died his second, true death. He died on Bellanor IV, far from Barbarus,” Baen marked Kior’s helmet with the rich earth of Bellanor. When done, he reached into a sealed compartment of his armour and withdrew black-flecked grey dirt of their homeworld. Some flitted away by the carrying wind, but the rest remained secured.

 

“Though his true death came about here, he will always be a son of Barbarus and the homeworld will reclaim his spirit, if not body.” Baen marked Kior’s helm with the Barbaran dirt.

 

“Born amidst poison, selected to die by the Death Lord's will, reborn to fight again and died in battle on a distant world.”

The seven Astartes bowed their heads for a moment, respectful silence for their dead brother.

 

In the background the sounds of war raged on. Gern heard Mechanicum bulk landers dropping Titans, hundreds of dropships depositing Space Marines and providing covering fire, and the ever ongoing booms of artillery.

 

Baen raised his head, the moment passed. Without speaking, the seven Death Guard moved towards the city’s centre.

 

---

 

Jue watched via the hololith as Imperial forces encircled and slowly constricted the Night Lords. Most of their mortal auxiliaries were dead, and thousands of their legionnaires were also slain, but loyalist casualties were rising as well. The Night Lords had been holed up on Bellanor IV for many weeks, enough time to fortify to the best of their abilities. He was thankful that they did not have the skill of the Fourth or Seventh Legion, which would have led to a bloodier and longer battle.

 

He noted the Word Bearers, Emperor’s Children, the rest of the World Eaters and Typhon’s XIV contingent finalising their pre-launch orbit. Their strike was soon to come.

 

“Shipmaster,” spoke the augur officer, “sir, we have four Thunderhawks from the Terminus Est demanding to board.”

 

Ulfar’s clenched his fists. “Do we now? Demand, is it? Do they not know that unauthorised or unnecessary inter-ship travel is frowned upon?” Ulfar trembled with rage.

 

“They have approval from the First Captain.”

 

“Damn. Damn, damn, damn.” A clenched fist hit the armrest with each utterance. “Very well, greenlight their arrival and open the hangar doors. But note my ire in the logs and I will notify the primarch of this.”

 

As will I, thought Jue.

 

“Brother, we should see why they have come,” he voxed to Hekl.

 

“Agreed.”

 

“Shipmaster Ulfar, we are going to go see what our new arrivals are doing here,” he said through his external speakers.

“Aye, lord, I will monitor from here.”

 

“Acknowledged.”

 

They left the bridge, heading towards the hangar. Questions burned in their minds, alongside annoyance.

 

---

 

Baen and his men knelt before the primarch. Sanguinius turned to them, his form matching his moniker.

 

“Lord Sanguinius, we have come to fight beside you to eliminate the Night Haunter.”

 

Despite his armour being dirtied and dented by combat, his sword covered in drying blood, the Angel was magnificent. Beside him stood the red armoured First Captain Raldoron and the golden armoured Azkaellon. Hundreds of legionnaires, officers and battle-brothers, moved through the temporary command centre. Sanguinary Guard Astartes kept a careful eye for any threat to their father. Vox casters were set up, receiving and dispatching orders to the Ninth Legion forces as they moved in for the kill. Coordination with the other Legions was heard too, the Salamanders and Death Guard securing the flanks and enlarging the landing zones for the second wave. Commander Grulgor’s voice could be heard amidst the cacophony of voices.

 

Sanguinius looked at them, golden hair and piercing blue eyes a stark contrast to their dark hair and dark eyes, covered by helm though they were.

 

“Very well, you may join me. If my brother was here, he would doubtless want to be in the thick of things. Sadly, he is on Terra, but his chosen sons will represent him honourably, I’m sure.”

 

“Aye, Lord Sanguinius, it is what our father would want.”

 

“Then come, fight beside me, fight for Mortarion and the Emperor.”

 

---

 

For over an hour the mortis squad fought beside the Angels of Baal. Night Lord positions were overrun but their numbers and coordination increased the further into Rose City the Imperials advanced. Every street taken, every block secured, every hab-unit cleared left corpses from both sides.

 

In one such street Gern emptied his bolt pistol, his last clip, into two Night Lords too far for his manreaper, their armour buckling and flesh and bone breaking while viscera stained the ground. From the corner of his vision, he saw a Night Lord drop from an archway, sprinting to where First Captain Raldoron was engaged to two other traitors, his attention focused on them and vulnerable from behind.

 

Raising his manreaper, Gern heaved it forward. It spiralled through the air, going end over end. It impaled the Night Lord only metres away from Raldoron. The Blood Angel eliminated his two assailants and turned to see a scythe impaled legionnaire near him. Nodding in thanks to Gern, the First Captain moved further down the street where close quarters combat continued to rage.

 

Retrieving his manreaper, Gern scavenged bolt ammunition from the Nostraman. Resupplied, he moved to join the melee. Over the vox he heard the words spoken by Fulgrim that would come to shape the galaxy.

 

“Second wave inbound.”

 

---

 

As Jue and Hekl neared the hangar bay, Fulgrim’s announcement of the commencement of the second wave reached them.

 

“At last,” he said to Hekl.

 

“Indeed. They took their time.”

 

The Endurance was a Gloriana-class warship, and its size matched its power, resulting in their journey taking over half an hour.

 

The two arrived to the hangar bay after the four Thunderhawks arrived. From their vantage point several decks up; they saw eighty Death Guard Space Marines arrange themselves in ranks, their left shoulder pad oddly coloured black.Hangar crew moved to refuel the ships. A Mechanicum acolyte moved to the legionnaires. For a moment they seemed to wait, oblivious to the acolyte queries. When vox-chatter from the surface suddenly increased, they demeanour of the legionnaires changed.

 

The ranking officer, a lieutenant, raised his bolt pistol and fired, killing the acolyte.

 

Hekl and Jue froze at that, frozen by momentary shock. The other XIV Space Marines started to kill all in the hangar, spreading out to secure the area. Over the vox, they could hear Ulfar asking what was going on, while from the surface reports of the first wave being massacred by those of the second assailed the vox network.

 

“Traitors…” he breathed.

 

“Amidst our own…” hissed Hekl.

 

“We must defend this ship,” he stated bluntly.

 

“We cannot fight them all. We are only two against eight squads. What do we do?”

 

Jue’s thoughts raced. Hekl was no coward, but a realist. If the full mortis squad had been here, there would have been a chance to somehow stop them, but two, even Deathshroud, against eighty fully armed Astartes would be their death, needless and wasted. Jue knew what they had to do, the Deathshroud had many contingencies involving the flagship, and a boarding attack party with a numerical advantage was one of them.

 

“Protocol Seventeen.”

 

Hekl looked at him in surprise, but his stance softened. “It is the only chance we have.”

 

Jue nodded, opening a link to Ulfar. “Shipmaster, the enemy is our own brethren, traitors to the primarch. They number eighty. We are initiating Protocol Seventeen.” Jue paused, knowing he sentenced Ulfar to die, alongside any loyalist on the ship. “Good luck, shipmaster.”

 

He cut the link, deigning to use encoded hand-talk, and the two legionnaires left the hangar bay and proceeded deep into Endurance’s underbelly.

 

---

“Good luck, shipmaster.” The link was terminated, and Ulfar interlocked his fingers. He, and he alone of the mortal crews and a majority of the XIV, knew what the Protocols were, let alone Protocol Seventeen. Seventeen was only to be activated if the Endurance’s contingent of Astartes had no hope to stop the attacking boarders and that the flagship would fall without a doubt. The Astartes in question would withdraw to the innards of the ship, hiding, and waiting for a chance to strike back when an opportunity presented itself.

 

Ulfar knew he would die today. Typhon betrayed his father and Legion, for what reasons he could not guess, but the shipmaster knew he would not see another day.

 

But, he thought with a smirk, that did not mean he would die useless.

 

“Navigation, take us towards the Terminus Est! Weapons, ready torpedoes and energy cannons! Take us in, cripple or destroy any ship that bars our path! We do not have much time, people, so move it! I want void shields powered to maximum, and I want every iota of speed we can manage!”

 

The bridge became hectic with activity, ratings moving back and forth, officers barking orders to underlings and the hum of the engines increased as they picked up speed, heading towards the Death Guard taskforce centred on the Terminus Est.

 

The void in between the two warships, and all around as well, was filled with weapons fire and interceptors and bombers. Ulfar saw the void war develop as the situation on the ground reached him. He saw the traitorous Death Guard fight alongside the World Eaters, Emperor’s Children, and Word Bearers. Dozens of ships were already destroyed or in their death throes. The escorts were soaking up heavy fire as they covered the capital ships, buying time for them to move into better defensive positions.

 

From Bellanor V, the world ignored by the armada when they passed it, hundreds of new starships emerged, their Legion IFF transmitting Night Lord ident-codes. It would take many hours but at full speed the VIII warships would arrive and gleefully assist in the killing.

 

But he would be dead by then, likely killed by the encroaching Astartes that were swarming through his vessel, heading to the engine room and bridge, killing all that stood in their way. Though his men and women were being killed with ease, he felt pride when his ship armsmen communicated that three of the oath breaking transhuman bastards were killed by heavy weapons, but it was not enough.

 

As the Endurance soared through Bellanor’s high orbit, eight ships that had found themselves in her way were left as smouldering wrecks that fell to fiery deaths onto the planet below. A single battlecruiser, one heavy cruiser, four destroyers and two frigates belonging to the turncoats burned in vengeful fury.

 

The Terminus Est did not fire, nor did any of the other capital ships nearby. They wanted to capture the ship, not destroy it. Ulfar knew that combating the Terminus Est would take time as ships of their class required crippling firepower to even scathe, but he had to make the effort.

 

But alas it was not to be so. The bulkhead doors were destroyed in fiery plasma, and a squad of traitor legionnaires entered. They killed the crew with haste, blade and fist doing the work as they did not want to risk the cogitators and other precious electronics. The sergeant approached him, grasping him by the neck. As he choked, Ulfar raised his laspistol and fired, leaving a scorch mark on the helm, barely marring the ceramite. Ulfar was able to shout in defiance, “For Mortarion and the Emperor!” before his neck was snapped and body tossed to the side.

 

---

 

It had been twelve hours since the massacre began, twelve hours of death and betrayal on a scale so vast it was the first and greatest of its kind experienced by the Legiones Astartes. Sanguinius had led the loyalists in their seizure of the Serenity Spaceport and were now evacuating from Bellanor. The Angel and the Lord of Drakes fought on the frontlines, holding back the tides of traitors, allowing more of their sons and allies to escape. Not all would make it, but they hoped enough would.

 

Gern and his brothers stood in a shelled out warehouse near the outskirts of the city, far from the spaceport and evacuation. To escape was for others, they had a different mission. He looked at his squad; they stood in tattered cloaks and battle-damaged armour. The morning sun neared the horizon, a red-orange orb beginning to lighten up the sky. It would soon cover the ruined city where the dreams of Mankind had become a withered husk.

 

As they checked their weapons one final time, Gern thoughts drifted to when the second wave opened fire on the Salamanders and loyal sons of Barbarus. Tens of thousands from both Legions died then, and so did more in the following hours. The Deathshroud squad had fought beside the Angel in the storming of the spaceport, but knew their paths ended there. The First Captain, the chosen of Mortarion, had betrayed everything he had spent over a century fighting and bleeding for.

 

Such an affront, such a gross betrayal, could not be allowed to go unpunished while they still drew breath. Therefore, they parted ways with the others, saying farewell to brother and cousin alike to come to the edge of Rose City. Not far away lay the traitors’ drop zones. It was there that Typhon was located, confirmed by intercepted transmissions.

“Let’s go,” spoke Baen, the first since leaving Serenity.

 

The seven legionnaires made their way through the rubble, eliminating only those that could not be avoided. Two Emperor’s Children, a Word Bearer and three of their former Legion brothers, easily marked by the black coloured shoulder pad, were eliminated in the hour it took to get to the zone, moving hesitantly as the traitors dominated airspace over the city, minus the spaceport where Imperial fighters made endless sorties to establish some kind of air defence perimeter for the Exodus.

 

Not long after entering the drop zones they found where Typhon had made his headquarters. Surrounded by his men, the First Captain directed the logistics of the traitor operation, and sending his men as bio-squads, similar to Grave Wardens, to initiate chemical and biological warfare against loyal Space Marines. Typhon surprisingly carried the primarch’s foster father’s manreaper on his back, Silence. Seeing such a relic of the Legion, one to be admired and discussed about but never used as it was the symbol and weapon of a remorseless xenos overlord, crossed a line with them. To carry such a weapon meant you felt you were above Mortarion who refused to bear that scythe of hate, greed and needless death, a weapon that symbolised the alien oppression and exploitation of Barbarus that had lasted for countless generations. To do so was thinking you were superior to the Lord Reaper, better than his noble ideals, and that infuriated his loyal sons.

 

As the sun rose, like the Dusk Raiders of old, they attacked.

 

The quickly and brutally created a path to Typhon, cutting down those that stood in their way. As they passed supply caches or vehicles, grenades and melta-charges were thrown, destroying what could be reached. Every rifle, sword and vehicle broken or destroyed was one less to be used in the war that was sure to burn across the stars. It was not much, but the Death Guard were methodical in warfare, bleeding the enemy dry of supplies and manpower was crucial to their unstoppable grinding assaults and it showed as they instinctively threw the grenades and charges.

 

The seven Deathshroud were each wearing Cataphractii Tactical Dreadnought Armour, gifted to them by the Death Lord himself upon their first death and ascension to their unique brotherhood. They shrugged off rounds that would have killed anyone wearing lesser protection. But the sheer weight of enemies they faced, more coming from other zones, began to take their toll. Pekel took three dozen bolt rounds before he finally fell, dead. Quernser was next, three of the traitors having found his armour’s weak spots with their blades. Ty’Nalg was next, followed by Vurn, and finally Saol who died with a curse upon his lips and dead enemies beneath his boots, the way he would have wanted it.

 

Baen and Gern were all that remained and they neared Typhon, who stood watching as the two Deathshroud moved closer to him, not drawing Silence. They were near, but the tide of enemies thickened. They would not reach him.

 

“Cease.”

 

At the command from the First Captain the other legionnaires withdrew swiftly, creating open space for Typhon and the two manreaper-wielding Space Marines.

 

“You fight well,” complimented Typhon who casually strode towards them. Gern and Baen readied themselves for a charge, expecting their enemy to bring forth Silence, but Typhon raised a hand instead. “You fight well, but you cannot win. You are weak where you must be strong, blinded by falsehoods and misplaced loyalty.”

 

Sickly green energy began to form around Typhon’s raised hand. Seeing such sorcery angered and alarmed the two and they began their charge.

 

“What is strength at arms when compared to power such as this?” Typhon murmured.

 

The sickly green energy surged towards them, engulfing them in its sickening embrace. The warp power crawled over them, seeping into the cracks of their armour and infecting them via their pores. Tumours and cancers and more began to rapidly grow throughout his body. Gern retched, he could not help it. The vomit covered the inside of his helm, the visor covered and the sound of hissing came from his acid saliva. His genhanced physiology attempted to fight the infection, but it faced something that had originated on a world that was bathed in the Immaterium’s damning energies and they were hopeless against it.

 

As both mortis brothers struggled, their armour turning shades of disease green and deadened black, the First Captain tilted his head. “Interesting, you both appear quite resilient. Most would have died by now, or begged for it.” He knelt in front of them, not in respect but as a scientist observing a new hypothesis at work.

 

Contaminated blood began to drip from his eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Choked struggling revealed Baen was suffering similarly.

 

Typhon took off their helmets, pressurised air hissed out in polluted gusts. Glancing at the sergeant, he looked as bad Gern felt, but Typhon seemed surprised.

 

“Very resilient, especially you, Sergeant Baen. That is very interesting indeed.” The First Captain withdrew his serrated Barbaran trench knife, covered in exotic poisons. “One dies, and the other will live in my service, for a time at least. Who will it be?” The bareheaded officer looked from both of them. After a moment, he nodded. “Yes, of course.” He walked to Gern, blade pushed to his naked throat and slit his jugular. As he felt lifeblood rapidly leave him and body began to shut down and vision darkening from the poisons, Gern heard Baen yell in anger until the sound of armour against flesh reached his ears.

 

The screaming subsided but did not quit. Baen continued to roar, likely with a broken jaw.

 

“Take him to the Terminus Est. I have much to learn from that one.”

 

Gern watched four legionnaires drag his sergeant away and by the time they reached a Stormbird, his vision had blackened out entirely and the second death welcomed him into its morbid arms.

 

---

 

“This is it.”

 

Are you sure?”

 

Jue looked towards Hekl. “Yes.”

 

Jue entered the door’s code and it slid open slowly. After entering the chamber, they closed it, the click and clang of the door’s locking mechanism echoed softly. There were ten cryo-pods before them, placed here in the deepest and most secluded section of the ship’s innards decades ago by servitors who were subsequently terminated to preserve secrecy. Known only to their father and their brotherhood, with Ulfar having an idea but not the actual location, the two bodyguards stripped themselves of armour. It was an arduous and long process without the assistance of bondsmen but still doable with patience and each helping the other.

 

When finished, they stepped into the cryo-pods, not fearing discovery as the pods ran off a separate power source, undetectable by the ship’s sensors. On ship schematics the room simply did not exist and rare was it for even a servitor to come down this far.

 

“Machine-spirit C04T,” Jue said, “Activate cryo-sleep.”

 

The machine-spirit had once been a member of the Deathshroud decades ago before his second death, his brain recovered in time for it to be useful as an advanced hidden machine-spirit slaved to the chamber they now stood in.

 

“Acknowledged,” it said tonelessly from a nearby speaker.

 

As the pods’ hatches began to lower into place, Jue spoke one last time before they sealed.

 

“Wake us when you need us.”


War Commander of Chaos


#19
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Space Wolves – Executioners and Enforcers

“There is a savagery to them, but it is not ignoble. They adorn themselves in animal bones and trinkets, but do not let this barbaric appearance deceive you. They kill, they destroy, but they do so not out of wanton desire for such things, but rather exalting in their loyal service to the Emperor. They know they are not the empire builders of the Ultramarines or the beloved crusaders of the Luna Wolves, but they do not want this, rather they will act as the Emperor’s strong right hand and ensure that His Will is followed, no matter the cost.”

 

-Remembrancer Quentyn Vaun’s personal diary, written in the One Hundred and Ninety-Seventh Year of the Great Crusade.

 

 

Origins-
Few worlds are as perilous as Fenris. The indomitable forest of Catachan, the poisonous air of Barbarus, and the rad-wastes of Baal Secundus rank high amongst the Imperium’s host of Death Worlds, but pale when set against the icy world that would become home to the Emperor’s Sixth Son.

 

Upon arriving to Fenris, the Sixth Primarch’s life-pod crashed into the storm-churning ocean, nearly ending his life. But the demigod within was meticulously designed and gene-forged by the Emperor of Mankind and was crafted to survive far worse.

 

The longship bucked as another tentacle latched onto the mast, preventing escape. Thengir cursed as he swung his sword against the taut, writhing flesh but all he was able to accomplish was some spilled blood and torn skin, only angering the beast. The tentacle tightened, causing splinters to scatter about, as another two rose from the ice-water and crashed into the ship, sending a dozen men overboard to their deaths. Thengir swung his blade with all his strength against the bloodied limb, severing it from the body. A roar of hunger and hate spilled from the kraken’s mouth, deafening all on board temporarily. More and more of the ship began to break off, filling nearby water with iron and wood, joining the remains of the five ships already destroyed.

 

Thengir roared back in defiance, though his hearing was slow to return. Throat becoming ragged, he rushed another tentacle but a flick from it sent him tumbling to the edge. Catching himself just in time, he hung for dear life over the water, waiting for the kraken to rise and engulf him with its fangs.

 

But it did not. Instead the kraken tentacles withdrew rapidly. Crew members took hold of his arms and dragged him to safety. Their gazes were of shock, and turning around Thengir saw why.

 

A boy stood atop the kraken, jagged iron beam in hand as a makeshift spear. The boy yelled, but it was not weak as to be expected from one so young but strong as the unmoving rockwall of Asaheim. The spear was raised and plunged into one of the kraken’s eyes. Blood gushed from the wound and the sea beast wailed in pain. Tentacles reached for the attacker, but he deftly avoided all that neared him, further wounding the kraken with piercings of iron. Rushing to the other side of its head, the boy speared the lone remaining eye, blinding the creature.

 

Krakens were resilient predators and continued to fight, the battle lasting several more minutes, but it was not in doubt any longer. The kraken was dead and began to sink. The boy reached down into its maw and pulled two fangs from its maw. He swam over to the ship, pulled up by amazed deck hands.

 

“Who are you,” Thengir asked. No response. “I am King Thengir of the Russ. Who are you, young warrior?”

 

The boy did not answer, perhaps he did not know how. His long honeyed blond hair hung thickly from his scalp. Frost blue eyes looked at them all. The boy appeared juvenile, but already stood almost as tall as they. They felt a compulsion to submit to the youngling. Though he had appeared to have witnessed far fewer winters than they, he was undoubtedly the alpha, the two kraken teeth, one in each hand, merely encouraged that thought.

 

The storm churned around them, the blood of the kraken being washed by relentless sky water. The men tilted their heads in respect, honouring the boy’s strength. Thengir moved to him, raising the warrior’s hand in the air and the crew yelled together.

 

“Hjolda!”

 

Thunder echoed and lighting struck, signalling the arrival of the demigod.

 

After defeating the kraken, one of Fenris’ most dangerous predators, and saving a longship of humans the Sixth Primarch was adopted by their leader, King Thengir of the Russ. As the young demigod settled in among humankind he learned language, customs, traditions and the fortitude of his adopted people.

 

Those first few years were spent with expansion and supremacy of the Russ Tribe over dozens of rivals that it fought with for control over territory and foodstuffs. However, the primarch felt a lacking within him, his soul urging him to venture out into the wilderness, to embrace his inner wolf.

 

Thengir, King of the Russ, moved towards the oceanfront. Snow crunched beneath his boots as he moved. The sounds of celebration came from behind. The subjugation of the Dagamar Tribe was being celebrated, as was their integration into the Russ. But thoughts of victory were hard to think of at the moment.

 

Nearing the giant of a man, who kneeled untying the docked ship, Thengir looked at his son. Within a few short years they had expanded the tribe’s territory and resources but Leman had been distant as of late, bothered by something within. The relative easy cascading of the Worldsea’s waves against the rock provided peaceful background noise to counter the raucous clamour coming from behind.

 

“Are you sure, my son?” he spoke. The giant did not turn in surprise; his hearing was far superior and likely heard his approach long before Thengir even saw him.

 

“Yes,” came the richly intoned words from Leman. The tall, broad shouldered warrior with long honey blond hair stood near the port, ready to embark on his ship.

 

“Where will you go?” Thengir asks as he moves to his son’s side, his body beginning to endlessly ache as the years passed. Hair, once rich brown, now matted grey turning to white.

 

Leman pondered the question for a moment. “I will go where I am needed. I will explore this world, for if we are to unite it, I must first know its heart before the fires of war spread over it and mould it to our vision.” Leman looks at Thengir. “I will return, and when I do, we will finish what we started.”

 

“The Great Year nears its end, the journey will be treacherous as the time of fire and water come about.”

Leman nodded at this, unworried.

 

“Then fate be with you Leman of the Russ. And come back home.”

 

 

What followed after the primarch left his tribe for adventure is described in detail in Gnauril the Elder's saga, The Ascension of the Wolf-King. Such deeds as uprooting a Fenrisian oak tree with his bare hands and breaking it across his knees, visiting hundreds of tribes to know their ways and people, and hunting the most deadly predators of the Death World. Wrestling Great White Bears, to hunting Ice Fiends and more are noted in the chronicle. But the most famous was the kinship forged with the wolves.

 

On his way home after years of travelling the world Russ’ ship became wrecked on a newly formed island. The island, created as a result of the tumultuous end of a Great Year, began to rebuild his ship to return home. But the island was populated by dozens of large Fenrisian Wolves and conflict between the two seemed inevitable as food supplies dwindled. But when the wolves and Russ came face to face, they saw each other as kin rather than enemies. For a time, to better acknowledge and embrace the wolf within him, Russ stayed on the island for most of a Great Year. There he not only gained the trust and kinship of the apex predators, but also became the alpha male of the pack. As the world once again neared the Wolf’s Eye, Russ’ ship was finished and he left for home, the cargo holds filled with his newfound brothers and sisters.

 

When he returned to the lands of Russ, he found devastation and ruin. Since the departure of the primarch, his tribe and its allies had come under assault by others wary of the King Thengir’s foster son. Their hope was to destroy the Tribe of Russ before the primarch returned but this was dashed when the demigod joined battle alongside his new pack mates. Accompanying them to war were the dozens of wolves brought from the island and fought against the enemies of Russ with feral satisfaction.

 

As the smoke and sound of war receded, and his tribe stood victorious, the primarch discovered that his father King Thengir had died, dead mere hours before the primarch arrived. This fact would haunt the primarch for the rest of his life, knowing that his father had died when he needed him most and he far away.

 

For the tribe being saved and wolves fighting beside him, Leman Russ gained the title of Wolf King. Gathering his people, the Wolf King led a crusade across the planet that united all the tribes and established a formal peace. Many were welcomed with open arms, others won with the primarch’s charisma, while some were conquered. Within a few years the entirety of Fenris flew the banner of the Wolf King.

 

With Fenris now united behind the Wolf King, life moved onward past the constant tribal warfare. For a time, Fenris knew peace and prospered as well as it could. Trade boomed and lives improved but Russ quickly becoming bored. The wolf within demanded action yet there naught to do but go on hunts and more adventures while still governing his people.

 

During the fifth celebration of the planet’s unification, a stranger in unadorned robes appeared in the Wolf King’s court, demanding that Russ swear allegiance to him. Russ laughed and stated the stranger must win that allegiance via by winning three challenges. The stranger agreed. The first was an eating contest, and though the stranger ate many times his apparent weight, the Wolf King had eaten twice as much. The stranger conceded defeat, and the second challenge was started. Both were to drink the strong mjod ale, a beverage strong enough to intoxicate Russ. Both drank for hours until the cellars ran dry, with the primarch having beaten the stranger by a mere two cups.

 

For the third and final challenge there was to be a duel, a clash of arms. It was here the stranger discarded his robes, revealing to all that he was the Emperor of Mankind. Russ and the Emperor fought briefly before Russ was defeated, knocked unconscious by the Emperor. When Russ awoke later that day he laughed and pledged his service to the Emperor who revealed to Russ that He was the primarch’s true father.

 

Russ was taken off-world and introduced to his sons within a month of leaving Fenris. Russ was impressed by his sons and thusly renamed the Sixth Legion the Vlka Fenryka, or Wolves of Fenris. Due to a translation error the name appears as Space Wolves in nearly all Imperial records and they are called as such by all but themselves. In his absence, Fenris’ brief unity shattered and the never ending war between tribes began anew. When the Emperor queried on whether or not His son would stop this, Russ said he would not; rather he wanted Fenris to continue producing hardy warriors for the VI and the Imperium, the most efficient way was for his homeworld to remain harsh and unforgiving, rife with war and hardship.

 

Months after being found and reunited with his father, Russ met his brother Horus for the first time. Being the only two primarchs discovered at the time, it was a cause for great joy and camaraderie. Both brothers became fast friends, enjoying the similarities between their characters and their Legions, from naming to iconography. With two of the primarchs by His side, the Emperor and the Expeditionary Fleets rapidly pushed the boundaries of the new born Imperium.

 

 

Great Crusade-
As the Imperium expanded, the other primarchs were discovered and introduced to their gene-sons. With each demigod united with his progeny, the Imperium surged in size and strength. During the Crusade, Russ fought alongside several of his brothers, befriending some, and making rivals of others. On the world of Dulan, the VI would fight beside the First Legion. The world’s ruler, whose name and title have been lost to history, insulted the Wolf King. Russ vowed to personally kill the tyrant, and attacked the planet with his typical frontal assault tactics. As the days stretched into weeks, and casualties amongst the Wolves mounting, the Dark Angels arrived with their primogenitor.

 

After studying the situation, the First Primarch launched a strike at the despot’s palace, just as the Wolves were breaking through its defences. Russ entered the throne room in time to see the Lion decapitate the insulter, angering Russ who saw it as a slight. Russ advanced upon his brother and they began to brawl, lasting days without pause until Russ realised how foolish their fight was and stopped, roaring with laughter. The Lion, thinking the laugh was a slight directed against him, punched his unprepared brother, knocking him out for a day. By the time Russ awoke, the Dark Angels were gone, and thus the rivalry was born. This gave birth to the tradition of a non-fatal duel between champions from both gene-lines, one that has continued into the 41st millennium. Despite this violent start and the competition that followed, a modicum of respect between the Legions began and would carry over when they became Chapters.

 

Though most of the Space Wolves history of compliance and campaigning is well-documented, there are two instances when the Sixth Legion was deployed and returned to the Imperium with their numbers much reduced. This forced the Wolves to curtail operations for several years until they properly recovered. It is unknown who the Wolves were unleashed against, but no information could be found, and any hints of what the actions entailed have been locked away by the Emperor. The other primarchs seemed to have known about the two campaigns, but were sworn to secrecy by their father, something which they followed even when some rebelled against Him during the Heresy. Once their ranks had been replenished, Russ and his sons rejoined the Crusade.

 

Out of all the compliance campaigns initiated by the Sixth Legion, the Compliance of Aghoru is one of the more significant. It was here where elements from the Space Wolves and the Thousand Sons would come into open and nearly disastrous disagreement for the first time. Long had the two gene-lines disliked the other, the XV seeing the VI as uncouth barbarians while the Fenrisians saw their Prosperine cousins as meddlers in dark sorcery, better known as maleficarum to sons of the Wolf King. It was on this planet where a taskforce from the Fifteenth Legion brought the world into the Imperium via peaceful diplomacy.

 

Aghoru had long ago fallen into superstition and regressed technologically. Once ruled by a race of beings called the Elohim (possibly an offshoot of the Eldar), the humans on the planet were in a pre-industrial state of development. A legend on the world, whispered by a fearful populace, spoke of malevolent spirits residing in ‘the Mountain’ named Daeisthai, Elohim who had fallen to self-obsession and darkness. Magnus the Red was fascinated by the Mountain and its tomb of dormant Daeisthai. Tragedy came when Captain Khalophis of the Sixth Fellowship accidentally awoke the Daeisthai from their centuries’ long slumber. This resulted in the Battle of Containment. Over a thousand Astartes of the XV were planet-side with their primarch, and hundreds more were in orbit. Realising that he would need more legionnaires to combat this threat that was psychic in nature, the Crimson King sent astropathic communiques to nearby star systems where Thousand Son detachments were located, ordering them to Aghoru for reinforcement.

 

Magnus had hoped to halt the Daeisthai threat and carefully purge the Mountain, wishing to preserve its architecture and boundless historical significance for cultural study and examination. This would not come to pass as a squadron of Space Wolf warships enacting compliance on a nearby world intercepted the message, and after decoding it the Fenrisian Space Marines knew that the psychic beasts on Aghoru came from Hel and were maleficarum. Realising that Magnus would not do what was necessary to prevent a gateway to Hel opening the blue-grey Astartes rushed to Aghoru.

 

Once arrived, instead of sending their squads to reinforce the surface, the Space Wolf officer informed the Thousand Sons’ Primarch that an orbital bombardment was to occur by standing order of Leman Russ. Magnus ordered the Space Wolves to stand down, but they refused.

 

Pack Master Garrek Redstone stared out his strike cruiser’s main view-screen. ‘The Mountain’ as it was called was truly immense, more piercing than the Fang and even broader than Olympus Mons. It was a natural beauty but unfortunately it was tainted. Turning to look at the brother beside him, adorned in armour covered in wolf pelts and protective runes, he raised a thick eyebrow.

 

“Are you certain?” he asked.

 

The Rune Priest Yaelfalk Largennensson turned his head towards his pack master. Wolf and eagle bones hung around his neck, the animals of Fenris and the Allfather’s Realm giving the wearer some protection against dark magicks and Helspawn.

 

“Aye, I am, pack master. The world reeks of maleficarum. Magnus’ sorcerers cannot see it as we do for they bathe in its damning energy. Russ’ will on what to do when such a breach into Hel is discovered is well known. We must do it.”

 

Redstone nodded. He looked to the vox kaerl. The mortal bowed in respect, but noted the man’s scent was awash with worry. Magnus had continued to hail them since Redstone informed the crimson primarch of what was to happen out of necessity. The Fifteenth Son had ordered him to stand down, but Redstone answered only to the Leman Russ and the Allfather. What the Wolves did was for the betterment and safety of Mankind, but the Cyclops could only see his tomes of knowledge and the possible benefit they could bring, ignoring the dangers inherent in them. Redstone had given the primarch five hours to withdraw, who had only begun to do so two hours ago.

 

The strike cruiser Juelknof and its five escorts put themselves into their final positions for bombardment. The Prosperine battle-barge Scion of Tizca neared them, torpedo tubes open, laser clusters, lance batteries, and plasma cannons facing the Vlka Fenryka warships but they did not lock onto them, nor were their energy weapons warmed to fire. An unsubtle threat, but empty in its lethality.

 

Redstone moved to the command dais. “Open a channel, all frequencies.”

 

The vox kaerl complied.

 

“Attention all Thousand Son and Imperial personnel, I am Garrek Redstone, pack master of the Wolves of Fenris. By the will of Leman Russ the Wolf King, Lord of Winter and War, and the Emperor’s Enforcer, I hereby order the bombardment of the world known as Aghoru. A link to Hel has been identified and must be severed before a gateway opens. The bombardment will commence in precisely one minute. For Russ and the Allfather!”

 

At a gesture, the link was cut. As the sixty seconds passed, Redstone noted nine dropships hastily emerging from Aghoru’s atmosphere, one identified as the primarch’s personal Stormbird. Defiant until the end, he thought.

 

“Three…” intoned the first kaerl, the ship’s mortal master, “two… one…” He looked to Redstone, who spoke the order.

 

“Fire.”

 

Beams of deadly energy were fired, hitting the Mountain instantly, hundreds of missiles and torpedoes following. Many were simple high explosives, others incendiary. For over three hours the six warships unleashed their payloads against their target. Rock crumbled, stone broke, rivers and trees disappeared in ferocious assault. Cogitator-controlled recon craft transmitted data to the Wolves’ ships, noting the Helspawn dying and being sent back to their cold realm. The Mountain began to collapse unto itself, sending significant amounts of dust into the air that would cool the planet for decades to come, killing much of the fauna and flora, as well as most of the human population.

 

The last ten missiles fired were atomic-tipped warheads. Ten mushroom clouds lit up the Juelknof’s displays. Redstone watched as the fires dimmed but knew the inferno below would rage for days to come, the irradiated dust mingling with the wing to carry death across the world.

 

“It is done. Set a course for Aravea. I will inform Russ myself of this… incident.” The pack master left the bridge, heading towards his chambers. The Rune Priest followed, sending muttered prayers to Mother Fenris.

 

Before the bridge doors closed, he saw scores of dropships and transports leaving XV starships. Search and rescue efforts, most like.  Admirable, but was it done out of humanitarian concerns, or was it done to cover up guilt? It was because of the faults of the Thousand Sons that the world would die a slow death as nuclear winter arrived in the weeks and months to come.

 

Redstone knew, as the doors closed and he resumed his march to the intra-ship lift, that the relationship between the Rout and the Thousand Sons had become ever more brittle and strained.

 

 

The destruction of the Mountain caused an ecological chain reaction that caused Aghoru to enter a nuclear winter that would last over three hundred years. Magnus, enraged and shocked by the apparent callousness of the Wolves, contacted his brother and urged him to punish the legionnaires. Russ did no such thing, even going so far as to commend and honour the Wolves that participated in the action. Petitions from Magnus to his father were met with silence.

 

Magnus fumed, but could do little as the Great Crusade required his attention. Settling the surviving Aghoru population on other habitable worlds was the only victory in the Crimson King’s eyes, but even that was pyrrhic at best. Magnus ordered the XV to avoid fighting beside the Space Wolves at all costs, an order that would endure the remainder of the Crusade, barring several exceptions. It would be several decades, but the Thousand Sons and Space Wolves would cross paths again, despite their efforts.

 

The Ark Reach Cluster was a confederacy of militant worlds that had been able to hold off Imperial Army offensives in their tracks for years. The Emperor, irritated that such a small empire dared to defy Him, ordered the three closest Legions nearby to conquer the Cluster and bring it to compliance. The Legions in question were the Word Bearers, the Thousand Sons, and the Space Wolves, all led by their respective primarchs.

 

In the joint campaign the strengths of all three Legions were used. The Word Bearers persistence and unwavering belief in victory, the Thousand Sons sorcerous powers, and the Space Wolves battle prowess. The Ark Reach military resisted fiercely using foul psionic weaponry but were ultimately defeated on a half dozen worlds. At first, all appeared well with the Imperium’s forces. Lorgar acted as the mediator between his brothers, ensuring the campaign ran smoothly. It was on the capital world of Ark Reach Secundus where this uneasy peace fell apart.

 

During the final assault on Secundus’ last holdouts as elements from all three Legions overcame the defences and swarmed into the city proper, a Thousand Son officer named Captain Aethor Raza began to lose control of his psyker powers, his body mutating as more and more warp energy coursed through it. The Immaterium’s energy killed dozens of nearby Space Wolves. As Raza’s situation worsened and began to spread to nearby XV legionnaires, Russ arrived and swiftly executed the mutating Astartes before they became consumed by the warp entirely. Magnus, who had rushed to aid his sons, found them butchered by his wolf brother. The Wolf King tried to explain what had occurred, but Magnus would not hear of it. It took Lorgar’s mediating and calming tone to prevent more bloodshed being spilled between the VI and XV.

 

Russ, wishing to avoid more conflict, ordered the Rout to withdraw from Ark Reach Secundus, leaving the post-compliant duties to the Word Bearers. Magnus and Russ would not speak again until Nikaea.

 

 

Nikaea-
Much happened in the months after Ark Reach Secundus: the Ullanor Crusade and subsequent Triumph, the ascension of Horus to Warmaster, and the Emperor’s announcement of His imminent return to Terra. Before the Emperor retired from the frontlines, Russ urged his father to call a conclave to settle the matter of psykers. The Emperor, beset from both sides, agreed to decide once and for all Imperial policy over psychic powers.

 

On the world of Nikaea, thousands of Imperial administrators, bureaucrats, and military commanders met alongside representatives from a majority of the Legiones Astartes, including several primarchs. The pro-psyker faction was led by Magnus, the anti-psyker faction led by Leman Russ and Corvus Corax.

 

For hours both sides made their arguments but it remained a stalemate. Russ went before his father and spoke of how Magnus’ hubris and careless pursuit of knowledge had led to disaster several times. Corax followed up on this detailing the countless worlds his Raven Guard had come across that had suffered under the yoke of psychic overlords or made a barren wasteland because of them.

 

As the debate's arguments began to escalate, several Space Marine Librarians approached the Emperor. They spoke passionately and convincingly of the benefits of psykers, of how those properly trained had allowed the Imperium to win battle after battle with their gifts alone. After this speech, the Emperor made His decision, a decision which would be known as the Librarian Compromise. The Librarius corps would remain, though more supervision and restrictions would be implemented. In spite of this acceptance, the Thousand Sons and their primogenitor would be censored and ordered to cease their extensive study of the Immaterium and their acquisition of dangerous warp-artefacts, much to their chagrin and shame. Thus the Edict of Nikaea was put into effect.

 

Though Russ pushed for the dismantlement of the Librarians, he felt that the Compromise was satisfactory and the threat that they represented to the Imperium was minimalised. In response to the vocal disagreement and visible disgruntlement of the Fifteenth Legion, Russ despatched dozens of agents to spy on the Thousand Sons. He knew his brother Magnus had done the same to him, allowing Russ to use Magnus’ primary spy as a double agent.

 

“Will he follow it?” asked Kasper Hawser, standing near the hearth, attempting to warm himself in the Fenrisian winter.

 

“He must,” muttered Aun Helwintr, Rune Priest of Tra. The Priest looked out from the Aett’s plexiglass windows. Kilometres above the frost-covered landscape of Asaheim, he could see the bulk of the Vlka Fenryka’s fleet in near-orbit. Resupply, rearmament and modifications were underway, prepping the Rout for war. The Wolf’s Eye began to set upon the horizon, the land coloured in the shade of blood.

 

Hawser glanced at the Space Wolf, whose features were sad and heavy.

 

“If he does not, what will you do?” Hawser knew, but he had to hear it, to know that the Wolves would do what they have done before. He felt compelled.

 

Helwintr smiled but his face became sadder. “We will do what we have always done and ensure the Emperor’s Will is enforced, no matter the cost.”

 

“Even if it leads to conflict?”

 

“Yes, even then.”

 

The Eye dipped below the horizon, bathing the land in darkness.

 

For a time, it appeared the Crimson King was following the Emperor’s Edict. Magnus had recalled the vast majority of his sons to Prospero, supposedly for re-education and to implement the new Edict guidelines that they must follow. Russ’ spies reported that the XV was following the Emperor’s orders to the letter. So it came as a surprise when an astropathic message from Terra ordered that the Sixth Legion go to Prospero, raze it to the ground, and to leave none alive. For Magnus, a kill-order was authorised, granting the Space Wolves the responsibility to carry out the sanction the Fifteenth Legion, a duty they have performed twice before. Russ accepted this with a heavy heart, knowing that this day would have come eventually, one way or another.

 

To eliminate a Legion as powerful as the Thousand Sons, Russ recalled the Rout in its entirety to assemble near Prospero. To assist in the planetary assault the Wolf King called upon the Mechanicum and the Silent Sisterhood for assistance. It took time, the warp having become beset with violent storms in recent weeks, but eventually ninety thousand Space Wolves had assembled. Several thousand Sisters of Silence and two Titan Legions had reinforced the VI. Now ready, the Sixth Primarch ordered his fleet into warp, their destination: Prospero.

 

 

The Burning of Prospero-
As news of the Warmaster’s near-death on Davin spread cross the Imperium alongside rumours of Night Lord atrocities, the Wolves of Fenris arrived to Prospero. Their Legion numbered six times that of the XV, and their void assets were significantly more numerous and more powerful than the scions of the desert world. Although the Wolves held the advantage in numbers and heavy units, Prospero was a homeworld of an Astartes Legion and was protected as such. Extensive orbital defences were bolstered by a sizable fleet and a highly trained Planetary Defence Force.

 

The VI fleet surged towards near-orbit, strike-teams attacking defence weapon platforms in the attempt of crippling them from the inside, whilst more teams were sent to capital ships. The escort-class warships were destroyed outright and after less than an hour of brutal void warfare the Rout attained position over the city of Tizca. While the rest of Prospero’s cities burned in nuclear fire, the Raptora Cult’s kine-shields protected the City of Light.  A majority of the Thousand Sons and over a million Spireguard garrisoned the city. The Space Wolves first wave landed in Old Tizca and from there the Rout began to advance, killing all in their way in the push towards the city’s centre.

 

Russ fought his way to the pyramid where his brother resided, coordinating the planet-wide defence. The Wolves, supplemented by the Sisters and the Mechanicum, broke through the Prosperine defensive lines, suffering heavy casualties, but after hours of bloody combat, Russ confronted Magnus. On the steps of the great pyramid the Wolf King confronted the Crimson King. The two primarchs fight eclipsed all other engagements on the battlefield. Magnus attempted to use his powerful psyker abilities but they were hardly effective against Russ as several Sisters of Silence fought beside the Wolf King, negating the Cyclops his sorcery, allowing Russ to use his immense strength against the other primarch,

 

The battle raged between the two for what felt like hours, but in reality lasted only moments, until Russ had lifted his brother above him for all to see and brought Magnus’ back upon his knee, breaking it. Before Russ could deliver the killing blow, a Thousand Son officer interjected and distracted the Executioner long enough for his own gene-sire to teleport himself and most of the surviving legionnaires to the remaining warships in orbit, allowing them to escape. Despite the Sixth Legion’s fleet best efforts, many evaded the hunter-killer squadrons and fled into the Immaterium. Nearly a third of the Thousand Sons would live to fight another day.

 

The Wolf King roared in frustration as Magnus used dark sorcery to escape. He killed the Thousand Son officer before him and ordered his Wolves to cleanse the world of all that still lived. It took the remainder of the day, but as the dusk settled over Tizca, the Fifteenth Legion’s homeworld was a ruin, its people butchered, its industry and infrastructure destroyed beyond recovery. With Prospero burned to a cinder, the Wolf King ordered his fleet to follow the Crimson King. Prior to departure, Russ sent a powerful astropathic message to Terra. He informed the Emperor and his brothers of the details of Prospero’s burning and his subsequent mission to hunt down and finish what he had started. As the last dropships carrying legionnaires boarded Rout warships, Russ and the Vlka Fenryka entered the warp, beginning the Hunt for Magnus.

 

 

The Heresy-
As Russ hunted for his wayward brother, reports began to arrive aboard the Hrafnkel. The Dropsite Massacre, Fulgrim becoming War Commander, the Traitor Legions initial offensives and more became known to Russ. This only drove the primarch harder in his search for the Cyclops, as he knew that if Magnus joined the traitors’ main fleets then he would become a vital asset to them and therefore incredibly dangerous to the loyalists. Using his Rune Priests and the blood of the Fifteenth Primarch that coated Mjalnar’s blade, Russ was able to track Magnus to the Akkad System.

 

Russ stared at the Photep as his fleet neared the traitors’. Hundreds of Vlka Fenryka ships versus less than forty Fifteenth Legion ships.

 

“Too few, there are too few,” he muttered.

 

“My king?” queried Gunnar Gunnhilt, Jarl of Onn. What other Legions would have called First Captain stood near the primary view-screen, but turned to look at his father.

 

“The traitor fleet is far smaller than it should be,” Russ explained. “The fleet that escaped the Burning was several times this size. Why would Magnus disperse his sons so?”

 

“Perhaps he hoped you would follow one of the splinter fleets, or perhaps they go to join the Arch-Traitor’s forces.”

 

Russ did not respond. He did not think those likely but held his tongue. He watched as the battle unfolded. Frigates, destroyers, cruisers of all types, battleships, carriers and battle-barges of the Rout broke through the traitors’ protective screen. The Photep lay in anchor over Akkad in spacedock, repair teams rapidly withdrawing as the ship readied for combat. Flights of interceptors and fighter-bombers from both sides redlined their engines to unleash their deadly payloads.

 

The VI punched through the red and gold warships with a hunter’s grace, leaving a trail of broken ships venting air and corpses. The Hrafnkel led the fleet like an alpha would a pack, its weapons breaking void shields and rupturing hulls.  Russ watched until they were within weapon’s range.

 

The teeth of the flagship were bared and they began to bite. Torpedo, lance, plasma, macrocannon and more were fired. The shields of the Photep flickered. The primarch departed the bridge, heading to the nearest Caestus Assault Ram, Wolf Guard in tow. To negate the sorcerers and their witchcraft a dozen Sisters and half as many Rune Priests accompanied them.

 

The assault ram was forcefully ejected and soared through the chaotic void, dozens of others in its wake. It weathered through the fierce anti-ship laser clusters and impacted the rebel flagship’s scarred hull. Shredding through adamantium and plasteel plates, it halted, allowing its passengers to disembark. Russ brought Mjalnar before him, readying the blade’s spirit for the killing to come.

 

The Wolf King prowled through the ship, slaughtering crew and the few legionnaires that he came across. But there were not enough. A third of the XV escaped Prospero, and there couldn’t be more than a few hundred at most in the fleet from the reports that were filtering to his vox-bead.

 

Was he wrong? Did his warp-scryers and Rune Priests falsely predict here his brother would be? Nonetheless, he continued with the murder-make.

 

Half an hour passed until they reached the chamber where Magnus’ psychic mark could be detected. Opening the doors, Russ leaped in expecting to end what had begun months ago. But instead of his brother sitting on the room’s single throne, it was instead a heavily muscled creature with azure coloured wings and a beak akin to a bird, taller than Russ and bearing four elongated horns rising from its skull. From its razor sharp teeth maw came a voice.

 

“Welcome, brother, to your death.”

 

 

Russ and his strike-team reached Magnus’ personal chamber but instead of finding the Traitor Primarch, they found a Greater Daemon of Hel. A majority of Magnus’ conscience had been attached to the daemon, fooling Russ’ Rune Priests into thinking the creature was the Cyclops. As the Traitor Primarch finished speaking, his soul returned to its body elsewhere, far from Akkad, and the Greater Daemon awoke from its slumber and the slaughter began.

 

The daemon focused first on the Sisters, killing all that had accompanied the primarch. The Sisters mere presence weakened the beast and with every Sister killed, the daemon became stronger. The Wolf Guard and the Rune Priests fought with their strengths against the Helspawn, but it did little against such an unnatural being. Russ and the daemon fought to a standstill, the daemon taunting the primarch for the battle’s duration. Russ eventually gained the upper hand and banished it back to the warp, nearly dying in the process. The surviving Wolf Guard led by Bjorn carried a near-dead demigod back to the assault ram which subsequently returned to the Sixth Legion flagship. Russ would be in the Apothecarion for weeks as his body healed itself.

 

During recovery, Russ reflected on his brashness in following the obvious target. He concluded that after the Burning, Magnus joined Fulgrim’s 28th Expedition Fleet, bolstering its already formidable ensemble of strength. The trap that he had walked into had been orchestrated by both Magnus and First Captain Ahzek Ahriman. By the time Russ fully recovered, the Sixth Legion had ravaged Akkad, destroying its vast libraries and centres of knowledge, and stripping bare the orbital docks to resupply and repair their own ships.

 

Unable to directly attack Fulgrim, as warp storms and overwhelming numbers prevented it, the Wolf King was forced to be content with assaulting the flank and forcing the Arch-Traitor to divert crucial resources to stop him. This marked the beginning of the Howling, the four and a half years in which the Space Wolves assailed the traitors’ flanks in a manner similar to what the Iron Warriors, Raven Guard, Blood Angels and Sons of Horus were doing, but unable to link up with any significant numbers of these fellow loyalists, cut off from support.

 

The next several years would see the Space Wolves bleed the Traitor Legions, perhaps more so than any other. While the other Loyalist Legions fought to slow down the traitors to allow Terra time to prepare, the Sixth Legion was ever on the offensive, never on the defensive. Garrison worlds, supply caches, fuel depots, shipyards, and more were attacked by the sons of Russ. Every Traitor Legion felt the sharp fangs of the VI gnawing at their heels.

 

In the fourth year of the Heresy, Fulgrim ordered Angron to eliminate Russ. The Red Angel gathered much of his World Eaters and assumed overall command of the campaign against the Space Wolves. For a year the Wolves of Fenris fought bravely against Angron, but the Unbroken Gladiator was a shrewd strategist, outmatched by only a handful of his brothers and constricted the loyalists’ territory. After a year of such tactics, the Sixth Legion found themselves pushed into the far reaches of the Ultima Segmentum, surrounded by overwhelming force from elements of several Traitor Legions. To make matters worse, the VI was trapped against the storm wall of the Ruinstorm that cut off Ultramar from the rest of the Imperium.

 

Angron gathered his Legion and allies, venturing forth to destroy the Emperor’s Executioner and his Legion. The Battle of the Stormwall, as it would be called, was horrendous for both sides. The Space Wolves had long been considered the best close quarter fighters in the Legiones Astartes, but were simply outnumbered by their traitorous cousins. The VI’s fleet was in severe need for mass repair, the Wolves having cannibalised their fleet for years, allowing it to remain in fighting condition albeit barely. The traitors on the other hand were relatively well-rested, much better supplied and their ships were in far superior condition.

 

Russ, knowing his back was against the wall, decided that his sons would die with honour and the blood of their enemies on their fists. Russ hoped to cripple the forces arrayed against him, allowing the chances of the Arch-Traitor’s successful assault on Terra to dwindle significantly. Forty thousand Wolves fought nearly a hundred thousand traitors from various Legions. The World Eaters, Sons of Fulgrim, Word Bearers, and elements of the Iron Hands plus other Space Marine support fought the Wolf King’s cornered fleet.

 

For hours both sides thrashed the other. Despite the Wolves skill and combat prowess, they were being defeated. But just as all hope seemed to be lost, a break in the Ruinstorm appeared. Russ saw this as aid from the Allfather and took advantage of the opportunity. He ordered all of his legionnaires that could break off to withdrawal through the cleared space and enter Ultramar’s relative safety. To allow more of his sons a chance to survive, Russ launched a strike against the Abyss-class Word Bearer ship the Blessed Lady. His flagship was destroyed as it neared the traitor ship, but it brought over a thousand Wolves in range to attack via boarding torpedo and assault ram. As the Lord of Winter and War scoured through the immense battleship, Angron rushed to reinforce the beleaguered XVII legionnaires. On the bridge of the Blessed Lady, Wolf King fought Red Angel, each wounding the other.

 

The duel swung from one’s favour to the next, until Angron gained the upper hand and nearly killed Russ, but the Emperor’s Enforcer was saved by Rune Priest Othere Wyrdmake, who sacrificed himself to transport his primarch back to the last fleeing ship, the Ragnarok. The traitors won the battle, but were unable to eliminate the Sixth Legion in full.

After the Ragnarok exited the warp in Guilliman’s sub-empire, the Ruinstorm closed once again and the traitors did not follow. Russ wanted to ascertain the situation in Ultramar as information from it had been scattered and incoherent at best. The Wolf King and the twenty thousand Space Wolf survivors made way to Macragge.

 

The Crown Mountains’ crisp winter air reminded Russ somewhat of Fenris, albeit if it was a light summer’s breeze. Compared to the harsh winters of home, it was. Banners of various Ultramarine Chapters and companies adorned the long pristine corridors. Guilliman’s legionnaires stood sentry throughout, their attention sharp even here. Russ looked out across Magna Macragge Civitas, amused at the marble, stone, metal and glass that made up the city. It was something that, outside of the Aett, would never appear on his homeworld.

 

Booted footfalls came from behind, and he turned to greet the walker. Roboute Guilliman, the Thirteenth Primarch, Lord of Ultramar, the Last Battle-King and Avenging Son plus countless more titles stood there, noble looking. His brother wore a robe in the cobalt blue and gold of his Legion, a white cloak edged in gold with a similarly coloured Ultima upon its centre fell from his shoulders. Russ wore his war-plate; rarely removing it except when repairs were needed or for the rare times he truly slept.

 

Guilliman looked at the armour and back to his brother’s face. “You do not have to wear it here, Leman. You can rest.”

 

“Rest.” He tested the word, a foreign concept for years “It has become alien to me, Roboute. Since I fell upon Prospero, I have not truly rested and nor will I. The time for rest can wait for when the war is over.”

 

“You are safe here, brother.”

 

Russ’ gaze sharpened on the other primarch. “Safe? Aye, it is safe here. You hide on your capital world while the galaxy burns, securing your own little empire while our father’s falls apart. We have to defeat Fulgrim and Magnus and the others, not wait about here. We have a duty, a responsibility to Mankind to do so! You should have braved the Ruinstorm, attempted to re-join the Imperium. If you had been beside me we could have cut the traitors’ advance in two! Yet you speak of being safe.” The last words were snarled.

 

Guilliman’s face had become hard as stone and eyes cold as ice during the tirade. Russ saw this, and inwardly cursed his behaviour. Raising his hands, he spoke softly.

 

“Peace, brother, peace. Forgive my words. I know you have done much here and preserving Ultramar as you have since the Shadow Crusade is admirable. If it were not for the Ruinstorm, you would have doubtlessly reinforced Terra.”

 

Guilliman’s nod was curt but his demeanour began to loosen. The Ultramarine Primarch moved to stand beside the Wolf King and both looked out over the majesty that was Macragge. They stood there for a moment, allowing an illusion of serenity to come over them.

 

A flight of Lightning fighters flew overhead; their engine sounds having disrupted the illusion. Reality returned and with it grim facts. Russ looked at his brother.

 

“What is Ultramar’s current situation?” he asked.

 

“Largely stable,” Guilliman said. “The worlds closest to Macragge are entirely cleansed of traitor presence, but the outlying star systems have proven troublesome to secure. Two score worlds remain under occupation by Word Bearer and Iron Hand remnants, leftovers from the Shadow Crusade, with raider squadrons ever on the move. Lorgar and Ferrus may have left my realm three years ago, but tens of thousands of their sons remain causing chaos and bloodshed across the Five Hundred Worlds. Even more disturbing are confirmed reports of Alpha Legion Space Marines and assets being spotted throughout Ultramar. I am not sure exactly how they were able to get past the Ruinstorm, but our brothers were able to leave after their rampage concluded with little difficulty so it seemed. They have denizens of the warp on their side.” Daemons, thought Russ, they are daemons. “Already rebellion has sprouted like weeds on fourteen worlds with more undoubtedly being orchestrated even now.

 

“My border fleets continuously patrol the outer edge of the Ruinstorm, looking for breaks in the storm. Some have been reported, but they are incredibly rare and do not last long. The chances that a break would come about during the Battle of the Stormwall are truly astronomical.”

 

“The Allfather did it,” he said matter-of-factly. Guilliman looked at his brother, doubt on his features. “Our father made the opening. I do not know how, nor care to find out. His doing saved my sons and I.” The Thirteenth nodded at this but Russ could tell Guilliman did not share his belief on the matter. Shrugging, he folded his arms in thought.

 

Silence reigned for a brief time. “I have the estimations on the fleet repairs.”

 

Russ turned quickly to Guilliman. “And?”

 

The Lord of Ultramar frowned. “Worse than we first thought. Most of your ships require extensive maintenance. A majority can be made ready in a year, but many require upwards to three. Some can be fielded again in four months’ time though.”

 

Russ scowled at this. Five years without a proper refit and forced cannibalisation had taken its toll. Cut off from the Imperium, and unable to fight the enemies within his brother’s realm irked him. A thought occurred.

 

“You plan to eliminate the remaining traitor threats here in Ultramar, correct?”

 

“Yes, of course. We have been doing so for three years. They have become quite adept at avoiding decisive conflict and their endless raids wound us.”

 

“Good. You can include the Wolves of Fenris in your battle order. Our ships may need to remain behind to be repaired, but we only need another battlefield to prowl upon.” Russ showed his long canine teeth in a savage smile. He held out his hand. “Let us cleanse your worlds together.” Guilliman’s hand grabbed it firmly in agreement.

 

In the final two years of the Fulgrimian Heresy, the Space Wolves and the Ultramarines fought in unison against the traitors in Ultramar. Alpha Legion, Iron Hand, Word Bearer and others fell to the power swords of the XIII and the frostblades of the VI. From the Ocean World of Maldea to Saramanth the two Loyal Legions fought and bled together.

 

As the years trudged onwards the Ruinstorm began to steadily weaken, allowing easier and safer travels within the enclosed realm. Some information seeped in from the wider galaxy during this time. Due to this, Russ and Guilliman learned the War Commander was on Terra’s doorstep, having taken Cthonia and laid siege to Proxima Centauri. The two primarchs knew the natural degradation of the Ruinstorm would take several more years until fully broken down, but they needed to depart immediately if they were to have a chance at reinforcing the Throneworld.

 

It was Guilliman’s idea to use the ancient xenos device known as the Pharos to punch a hole through the Ruinstorm. Using the device in this way caused the machine to fail, never to recover, but not before it carved a narrow but stable pathway out of the Five Hundred Worlds. The VI and the XIII quickly departed to reinforce Terra, but arrived too late.

The two Loyal Legions arrived to a devastated Sol System, the Traitor Legions having retreated only days before. Guilliman and Russ were greeted by Warmaster Horus who told them of the tragedy that had befallen Mankind. Dorn dead by Fulgrim’s blade, the War Commander killed by the Emperor, and worst of all He was entombed on the Golden Throne. Large portions of Terra and Mars were ravaged by war, so too were the Solar Colonies in the Outer System. The Fulgrimian Heresy was over, but at immense cost.

 

In the year that followed, the Year of Intermission, the loyalist fleets and armies readied for the galactic-wide counter-attack. Horus led the Senatorum Imperialis and several of his brother primarchs held positions within the new government. Perturabo became the second Emperor’s Praetorian, Vulkan the Regent of Mars, Sanguinius the Imperial Prince, Lion El’Jonson the Lord Protector, and Guilliman the Lord Warden. It was to these demigods and the hundreds of other mortal Senators that worked beside them to ready the Imperium for the new age it found itself in. The duty of Russ in the new Imperium was the same he had held before: the Emperor’s Enforcer and Executioner.

 

As the Great Scouring began, the Space Wolves set about purging the Imperium of any possible Fifteenth Legion taint. The legionnaires of Fenris travelled the length and breadth of the galaxy, destroying the worlds that made up the Prosperine Hegemony. Countless treasure troves of ancient tomes and half-forgotten knowledge were burned, the information contained inside them deemed too dangerous to endure. Once the Hegemony was eradicated, Russ rendezvoused with Imperial forces and assisted in the wars against the Syndicate Chaotica and other Chaos forces. The victories won by the Sixth Legion during the Scouring entered the sagas of the Rout for all time; banners marking these victories still hang in honour in the Fang’s Great Hall.

 

 

Post-Heresy-
After the fires of the Scouring cooled the Imperial Reformation began. By order of the High Lords of Terra, in the Emperor’s Name, the Imperial Army was permanently divided into the Navy and Guard, the Iron Cages approved for construction, and above all the dismantling of the Legions. Hundreds of reforms were passed, but it was the Codex Astartes that affected primarchs and Space Marines the most. Penned by Guilliman, with significant contributions from several other primarchs, the Codex saw to the elimination of the Legiones Astartes as an organisation, replacing it with the Adeptus Astartes. No longer would Legions numbering tens of thousands to a quarter of million exist; rather the five thousand-strong Chapters would be the new formation for the Emperor’s Angels of Death.

 

Out of all the primarchs, Russ protested this decree most fiercely. He was aghast at the reform, stating it deviated from the Emperor’s vision. Though some of his brothers shared this view with him they decided to follow it as they saw the logic in doing so. Russ continued to ignore the order to accept the decree for several months until Horus and Guilliman warned that to defy the order any longer would be construed as treason. Russ knew that a second civil war would have dire consequences for the Allfather’s Realm and accepted the High Lords ruling. The Space Wolves, so heavy were their casualties during the Heresy, that they could only field a single Successor Chapter during the Second Founding: the Wolf Brothers.

 

The Wolf King continued to protect the Imperium for several centuries. The Ja’Hedahm Purge, the Ferso Rebellion, the Battle of Aginthon VII, and more are noted victories of the Vlka Fenryka over the various and xenos and traitors. The Wolf King fought energetically, passionately, yet as the centuries continued he began to grow restless and bitter. Failing to be by the Emperor’s side when He needed him most ate away at Russ’ spirit. After years of dissatisfaction, the primarch announced at the annual Great Feast that he would depart towards the Eye of Terror. Some claim the Wolf King left to track down Magnus for eternity, some say he left for the Eye to kill traitors until none remained, while other claim he went searching for the fabled Tree of Life to bring the Emperor back from His deathly state. It may never be known as to why Russ left, but on the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Emperor’s Ascension to the Golden Throne, the Lord of Winter and War left Fenris with the Thirteenth Great Company and never returned.

 

Bjorn the Fell-Handed is the second most famous Space Wolf, lagging behind only his king. Bjorn began the war as part of Tra Company but after distinguishing himself during the Burning, he was selected by Russ to become part of his Wolf Guard. This gave Bjorn great honour and was humbled by his primarch’s decision.

 

Bjorn gained the moniker of ‘Fell-Handed’ during the Battle of Akkad. Bjorn led a strike-team to the bridge, securing it after a fierce skirmish with several Thousand Sons and their serfs. He was made aware of the trap his father had walked into by call of reinforcement by the Wolf Guard attending the primarch. Being the closest legionnaires, Bjorn and his pack rushed to the Crimson King’s chambers. Discarded before Bjorn were the entirety of Russ’ strike team, the Wolves and Sisters killed by brute strength and dark sorcery. As the Greater Daemon and primarch were locked in stalemate, Bjorn rushed towards the daemon, his pack with him. The Helspawn, using maleficarum, killed all but Bjorn, his arm having been infected with warp-taint, causing immense pain. This distraction proved fruitful as it gave Russ the opening he needed to kill the daemon, nearly ending his life in the process. Before the Wolf King fell into unconsciousness from his extensive wounds, he was beside Bjorn who lay in agony on the deck. Russ raised Mjalnar and cut off the tainted arm of Bjorn, thus saving his son. Russ then fell into a coma.

 

When the primarch awoke, he promoted Bjorn to Thenn of his Wolf Guard. During the following years of the Howling, Bjorn fought beside or represented his primarch on dozens of battlefields. The Fell-Handed did the same in the Cleansing of Ultramar, the Scouring and the centuries that followed.

 

Centuries after the Heresy, Russ announced he would leave for the Eye of Terror. Bjorn expected to go with him, as were the rest of the Guard and the entire Thirteenth Company, but it was not to be so. Bjorn would remain behind to guide and lead the Wolves, much to the Fell-Handed’s despair and chagrin. When Russ left, Bjorn became the first Great Wolf and led the Chapter for over five hundred years until he was mortally wounded during a suppression of rebellion. Unable to be healed by the Wolf Priests, Bjorn was emplaced within a Dreadnought chassis. Every century a great feast is held and Bjorn awoken from stasis-slumber to tell the stories of old in conjunction with skjalds, telling his brothers of their history and primarch. On occasion, either for matters of great import or for when Fenris is under attack, the Wolves awaken the Eldest for advice and leadership. Each and every time the Revered One has helped the Vlka Fenryka secure victory. After the matter is over or the battle concluded, Bjorn is returned to stasis-sleep to await the next time he is needed. It is agreed by the Imperium at large that Bjorn is the longest serving Astartes in Imperial history and the only confirmed living loyalist Space Marine from the time of the Emperor. This has made the Fell-Handed a saint in the eyes of the Imperial masses, much to his chagrin for such things.

 

Some in the Imperium speculate that the Sixth Primarch is dead, but the Space Wolves themselves do not believe this. They remember their father’s finals words, that when the Imperium needed him most he would be there for the final battle, for the Wolftime. The entire Rout present swore an oath to their departing father that they would never stop fighting, that they would preserve the Imperium until he returned.

 

Since that time the Space Wolves have stayed true to their oath, never tiring in their pursuit of duty and ever watchful for the Archenemy, ever willing to confront the pawns of darkness in the name of Russ and the Allfather. With the 41st Millennium coming to a close and the Eleventh Vengeance Crusade soon to begin in a galaxy rife with war the Space Wolves and their handful of Successors believe that the time of their primarch’s return is imminent and ready themselves for the Wolftime.

Organisation-
Since the early years of the Great Crusade the Space Wolves were made up of thirteen Great Companies, each led by a Jarl. Varying in size and specialty the Great Companies of Russ were known throughout the Imperium as fearsome fighters. After the Codex was accepted, the Vlka Fenryka still continued to use thirteen companies, in sharp contrast to the ten dictated by the Codex. The modern day Space Wolves only field twelve Great Companies, for the Thirteenth joined their primarch on his endeavour into the Eye of Terror and were never replaced nor considered lost. To the Wolves, their brethren are on a mission and will await their return patiently. Every year at Feast, the tables are set and a tankard of mjod is set aside for their brothers and father. Though none have ever returned, their hope is unshakeable and after every Feast, the Wolves mutter warmly to each other that perhaps next year they will come.

 

The Chapter is led by the Great Wolf, lord and master of the Space Wolves until the Wolf King returns. The current Chapter Master is Ragnar Blackmane, Logan Grimnar’s chosen successor, selected by the Great Wolf as he lay dying amidst a hundred enemies. The legend of the Black Wolf is well known across much of the Imperium. He had been an Astartes for less than a century, though the exact date is unclear as the Space Wolves have not divulged that information. He bypassed the rank of Grey Hunter altogether and became part of Wolf Lord Berek Thunderfist’s Wolf Guard. When Berek perished in battle, the young Space Marine succeeded him, becoming the youngest Wolf Lord in Chapter history. Since that time, the young Wolf has shown his aggression, battle prowess, diplomatic skill and military acumen. To complement his impressive combat record, he served several years in the Wolfblade whilst a Blood Claw. This has secured Ragnar strong support from Navigator House Belisarius, the only House that supplies Navigators to the Space Wolves due to ancient treaties signed by Leman Russ and the House Celestarch.

 

The events that led to Ragnar’s ascension to Chapter command began with a Chaos plot to destroy Fenris via a warp storm. The then Wolf Lord Ragnar Blackmane and Great Wolf Logan Grimnar discovered the insidious scheme and disrupted the traitor ritual taking place on one of Fenris’ sister planets: Midgardia. The battle was fierce and the day was won, but at heavy cost.

 

The new Chapter Master quickly cemented his position by the victory and cleansing of Midgardia of daemonic taint. Later, he won a majority of the votes during the Great Annulus, securing his lordship over the Chapter. Yet not all was well, for many Wolf Lords felt that they, not a young pup, should be the Great Wolf. Not only was there dissension from within, but also outside interference. The Holy Inquisition, long suspicious of the Space Wolves for their defiance of Imperial authority and refusal to abide by the orders and wishes of the High Lords. The situation between the Chapter and the Inquisition has only worsened since the First War of Armageddon and the ensuing Months of Shame half a millennium ago.

 

Weathering through doubts and insults, Ragnar was able to cleanse the Fenris System of Inquisition spies without killing or maiming any of them. This comforted several of his detractors, thus gaining him allies, and establishing the foundation for a potentially long and glorious reign.

 

It had been a peaceful day, until they arrived. The first warning was the warp-scryers falling to their knees, screaming about primal fury rapidly approaching from the Immaterium. The Prognosticars felt it too, and warned their superiors immediately. The various squadrons in orbit coalesced into a task-force, led by Grand Master Vorth Mordrak. An encoded astropathic message was sent to the Supreme Grand Master, whom attended a closed session of the High Lords along many of the Inquisitions leading agents, but it would take many hours for him to be here, even with the fastest ship. The worst was assumed, that daemonic forces were coming to attack Titan.

 

He, Justicar Alaric of the Grey Knights, rushed towards his station, ordering his battle-brothers to their positions. He interjected a nearby security satellite into his helm’s visual feed to witness the arrival. From the warp came nineteen ships. The first was recognised as the Allfather’s Honour, flagship of the Space Wolves. The next was Stormrider, flagship of the Storm Krakens. The third was Silverfang, flagship of the Wolf Brothers. Each following ship was either the flagship or a battle-barge of a Space Wolf Successor. They were just outside the range for weapons’ fire. Not daemons, but certainly not friendlies.

 

As a justicar, he could hear Central Control send a vox message to the Allfather’s Honour. “Space Wolves, why have you come here?” asked Grand Master Talus.

 

The answer followed with no hesitation. “We bring you your spies. Allow us to deposit them via dropship, or we will eject them into space. Then you will have to try and debrief corpses.”

 

Talus was silent for but a moment. “Agreed, here are your landing coordinates.”

 

The link was terminated. It took almost a half hour but the Space Wolves had sent a Stormbird to the surface of Titan. Alaric, his men, and the three hundred brothers that had been at the Grey Knights Fortress-Monastery assembled in formation on a surface landing pad.

 

The Stormbird lowered, landing gear extended. Once it touched the metal of the pad, a ramp lowered, yet the engines remained at full power. They do not trust us, he thought, unsurprised.

 

The first figure down the ramp was an Astartes of medium build, bedecked in advanced power armour. It was covered in runes, wolf fetishes and rimmed with fur around neck and shoulders. Eighteen followed him. Alaric observed the arrivals, their varying armour schemes different in colour or manner but all originating from the same source. A representative from every Successor Chapter, led by lord of the parent Chapter, stood facing the Grand Master Talus. Grand Master Mordrak remained in orbit in case of treachery. Grey Knights versus Space Wolves, no others were to interfere.

 

A lord of Wolves, his face covered by his helm, as were they all, looked around, almost disdainfully. Shaking his head minutely, he beckoned into the interior of the dropship. Nearly forty men and women were ushered out by two Space Wolves in Terminator Armour. They wore skinsuits and void-helms, and chains.

 

Talus glanced at them, then back to the Wolf.

 

“What is the meaning of this?” he demanded.

 

“No more spies, Grey Knight. Your masters thought they could arrive on our homeworld and not be detected. The Inquisition consistently shows itself to be foolish and wasteful in this regard. The Wolf motioned for the mortals to trudge towards the Grey Knights, who stood impassive.

 

“You are him, aren’t you?”

 

The Wolf looked at the Grand Master, and Alaric would have reckoned that underneath the blue-grey ceramite, plasteel and adamantium, there was a wolfish grin.

 

“Aye, I am Ragnar Blackmane, Great Wolf of the Wolves of Fenris.”

 

Talus raised his fist in salute. “Greetings, Chapter Master.” There was respect there in that tone. The Wolves loyalty to the Emperor could never be denied, and their feud with the Inquisition had stretched into times unremembered. The Inquisition, specifically the Ordo Malleus may detest the Wolves, but the Grey Knights had respect for them. Lucky for both sides then, that no Inquisitor of appropriate rank was available, for if the Inquisitor ordered the Grey Knights to arrest or attack the other Astartes they would comply without question. It was their duty.

 

But no blows were exchanged, just prisoners and words. Alaric watched the Wolves and their brother Chapter representatives board the dropship. Their display of unity would dismay the High Lords and the Inquisition’s upper hierarchy, but no complaints or note of this event would ever be written, as if it had never occurred. In the unseen conflict between the Emperor’s Inquisition and His Wolves, there were no official battlegrounds or rules, but this was a legionnaire victory without question.

 

The Great Wolf and the Grand Master exchanged pleasantries for a moment. The Chapter Master made his way back to the ship to join his allies, but he turned around when he was halfway up the boarding ramp and spoke through his external speakers at max volume.

 

“Knights of Titan, know this! Do not let over five hundred years of relative peace fall into ruin. Do not interfere with our affairs and we will not with yours. But if the Inquisition attempts to, as they undoubtedly will, then we, the sons of Russ, will return and voice our displeasure more severely.” Ragnar turned and walked into the hold as the ramp clanged shut. Alaric knew that the if they returned again to voice displeasure, it would be far more violent and regretful for both sides.

 

The Stormbird kicked up dust as it rose from the platform and roared into the skies towards the awaiting fleet.

 

The Chapter has a unique structure in comparison to Codex-compliant Chapters. Instead of a traditional Neophyte, then Tactical Marine and so forth, the Space Wolves instead have the Blood Claws, Wolf Scouts, the Grey Hunters, Long Fangs and Lone Wolves. The Blood Claws are the Chapters Neophytes, armed with little more than a chainsword and bolt pistol, they are encouraged to charge straight at the enemy to prove themselves and to vent their impulsive energy of youth. Those that survive are then selected by a Great Company and ascend to the rank of Grey Hunter, replacing archaic chainsword for frostblade. After centuries of service, when the Wolf in question has become wise and mindful, he is promoted to Long Fang. These heavy weapon specialists bring the fury of their primarch from afar. Those that become Wolf Scouts are typically those that cannot integrate into a pack, and are more comfortable alone. These Astartes are few and far between, but enough of them occur to give the Wolves a powerful and experienced Scout corps.

 

A Lone Wolf is a unique and tragic rank within the Chapter. Veterans of countless campaigns, the Space Marines that become Lone Wolves are the only living member of their pack and feel the despair at losing all their pack-brothers. Integration with other packs usually fails, and rather than force the warrior in question to fall into place, a Wolf Lord will give the Space Marine leave to wander the galaxy, fighting in the Allfather’s name until death takes him. It is not uncommon for a single Space Marine bearing the colours and markings of the Space Wolves to arrive on distant battlefields throughout the Imperium and fight without concern for his own well-being. These warriors typically secure victory for Imperial forces, their mere presence bolstering morale. If the Lone Wolf does not die during the battle, he gathers his equipment and sets off to the next warzone, awaiting his death, eagerly wishing to rejoin his deceased pack-brothers in spirit.

 

The ranks of officers are also wildly different. The first command rank is that of pack master, who commands a squad, known as a pack in the Chapter’s terminology. Blood Claws do not have pack masters in the same manner of Grey Hunter. The brazen young Neophytes tend to have an experienced Space Marine, usually a member of the Wolf Guard or veteran Grey Hunter, guide the Blood Claws into battle. The next rank is Wolf Lord, also called Jarl, equivalent to captain. The protector and enforcers of the Wolf Lord are his Wolf Guard; the commanders of the Guard are called Thenn. Though they usually stay beside their lord in full strength, they are oft given command of Blood Claws or Grey Hunters in battle, to better represent their lord in battle. The last rank is that of Great Wolf. Chosen by vote between the Wolf Lords of the Twelve Great Companies in the Fang’s Great Annulus, the winner of the vote then becomes the next official Great Wolf and entered into the sagas as thus. When a Great Wolf dies, he tends to either have a known successor or chooses one at his death, to lead the Chapter until the other eleven Wolf Lords can meet and decides on who the next Great Wolf will be. This is how Ragnar Blackmane became interim Chapter Master until the Annulus in which he barely won, but has since proven himself to be a Great Wolf of Grimnar’s calibre.

 

The specialist formations within the Chapter are the Wolf Priests, Iron Priests and Rune Priests. A Wolf Priest is a combination of Apothecary and Chaplain and such they are responsible for not only the preservation of Russ’ genetic code but also the preservation of the spirit in the Chapter’s warriors. Iron Priests are the Techmarines of the Chapter, and are responsible for maintenance and oversee production of the Chapter’s warships and vehicles. They also regularly upgrade and enhance the defences of the Fang. The Rune Priests are the wielders of Mother Fenris’ power. Similar to Librarians in other Chapters, the Rune Priests use their magicks in war and study it to better harness and control it. Unlike other Chapters beside their own Successors, the Rune Priests do not believe their power is derived from the warp, which they view as tainted, but rather it comes from their homeworld itself. This has led to thousands of years of arguments and debate dating back to before the Edict of Nikaea between the Space Wolves and their detractors. Nonetheless, the Wolves believe their power to be gifted to them by Fenris and not taken from the Chaos-infested warp.

 

 

Recruitment-
Since the discovery of Leman Russ, the Space Wolves only recruit from Fenris. Not even from the sisters-planets of Midgardia and Frostheim, both Death Worlds, are Aspirants recruited from. Instead these two planets and their populations provide hardened PDF regiments for system defence, which have proven their worth during the several invasions of the Fenris System.

 

On the primarch’s homeworld, only the strongest are chosen to join the ranks of the Sky Warriors. War-hardened young males are chosen by Wolf Priests, these Aspirants would face many trials ahead of them. Their final and greatest challenge was to drink from the Cup of Wulfen, and then undergo the Test of Morkai: stranded far from the Fang and told to make their way back with little to no clothing, food or weapons. They must survive and arrive back to the Fang where a warm hearth awaits them. Those that returned are welcomed as brothers and join the Blood Claws’ ranks, now a full member of the Space Wolves.

 

 

Homeworld-
The homeworld of the Space Wolves has been Fenris for over ten thousand years. Being one of the first primarchs discovered, countless generations of Fenrisian sons have been recruited by the Wolves and fought against the enemies of the Allfather across the Sea of Stars. Fenris is one of the most inhospitable worlds under the dominion of the Imperium of Man, yet despite this the world’s population thrives and is acknowledged as one of the hardiest in the galaxy.

 

 

Beliefs-
The Space Wolves have always been a spiritual brotherhood. The culture and mythology of their homeworld has great impact on the Rout’s Space Marines. There are many beliefs held by the Chapter, but the most significant is that Leman Russ is not dead and will one day return with the Thirteenth Great Company to fight in the Last Battle against the enemies of darkness. The Emperor is not seen as a god by the Vlka Fenryka, though their respect and admiration for Him is equal to that of their primogenitor. Though their loyalty to the Emperor is unshakeable, their loyalty to His empire has been called into question, causing difficulties with the High Lords and other Imperial organisations, especially the Inquisition. This friction had led to conflict on several occasions but has always been prevented from escalating too far.

 

 

Gene-seed-
An unknown problem outside of the Chapter is the instability of Russ’ gene-seed. Before the discovery of the primarch, the Sixth Legion nearly died out as most Aspirants died upon receiving the gene-seed, with the gene-seed itself mutated to the point of uselessness. For the few whose bodies accepted the implantation, problems arose later for many. Their genetic code began to break down, and they soon lost themselves to their own mind, forcing them to be executed by their own brothers. The legionnaires of the VI kept this a secret from the wider Imperium, fearing what might happen to them if it were to known that they were genetically unstable.

 

Finding the Wolf King only a few decades into the Great Crusade alleviated many fears within the VI, their hope having manifested in their father. Russ worked tirelessly in those early years, his sons numbering hardly more than a few thousand. After years of study, he came up with a solution: the Canis Helix. This modification to his genetic tissue stabilised the gene-seed, bringing with it senses superior to those of other Legions, though it did not lack problems of its own. After implementation, the Aspirants underwent a tortuous physical transformation. Their bones split and buckled, their body fighting between wolf and man, known as the Curse of the Wulfen. It was in this state where they were deposited in Asaheim’s wilderness. The physical and mental stress of surviving and attempting to return to the Fang saw many lose their inner battle against the wolf, losing their humanity all together. Those that survived and returned did not mean their internal struggle was over. For the rest of their lives, they would deal with the Curse. It is thanks only to the fortitude of the Rout’s Space Marines and the vigilance of the Wolf Priests that many do not succumb to their primal instincts.

 

Despite the Canis Helix, Russ’ gene-seed has remained problematically unstable when compared to the other Loyal Legions. This has led to slow replacement of losses, and after the Second Founding the difficult creation of Successor Chapters. During the Second Founding the Wolves founded their first Successor, the Wolf Brothers, the fewest of all the other Legions save the Death Guard who were so diminished as to be unable to produce any Successor in the immediate aftermath of the Scouring.

 

In the 41st Millennium, the Space Wolves and their brothers in other Chapters field the fewest Space Marines in the entire Adeptus Astartes, easily outnumbered by all others. Yet, this minority has developed close bonds with one another. The exchange of Astartes to different Sixth Legion-descended Chapters has allowed the culture of Fenris to endure in some form in their Successors. It is not by chance those all of the worlds chosen by the Wolves’ Successors are Death Worlds, most strikingly similar to Fenris. This has allowed the sons of Russ, numbering just under a hundred thousand Astartes, to be among the most fierce and deadliest of the Emperor’s Angels of Death.

 

Eirik struggled through the cold, his enlarged legs moving through snow. Blood came off from every step, his body's Larraman cells attempting to counter the harsh climate. Night was falling, and with it, temperature. What was now painfully cold would be freezing death soon. But he was an Aspirant to the Space Wolves, and he would not fail. Groin covered by loincloth was all the clothing he wore.

 

The beast within yearned to break free, but following the teachings of the Wolf Priests he suppressed it, man over wolf. Based off his travel time in Thunderhawk, he estimated he was another two hundred kilometres away from the Aett. Within minutes of being dropped in the icy wasteland, he had found stone and sharpened it to make a primitive knife. It was a far cry from the weapons he had been training with, but better than nothing.

 

He kept moving, searching for a cave to rest in for the night. After another hour, and the night's temperature plummeting by the minute, he found one. He had to climb up dagger-sharp rocks to reach it, his hands bleeding and scarring as he hauled himself up. Limping towards the cave, he noted movement. Bringing the stone knife before him, he bared his fangs. The movement revealed itself to be a wolf. Eirik readied himself to fight, but noticed something about the wolf. Covering its backside was a rough, strong material that provided little real warmth. Glancing down at his loincloth he noted the similarity in colour and size.

 

The wolf noticed too, but it would not give up its territory. Eirik wouldn't have either if the roles were reversed. Backing out slowly, avoiding any sudden movements. He climbed down the rocks and made his way further into the wasteland, seeing rocks and some trees some four kilometres away. He stayed on alert, awaiting the subtle depression of snow beneath paw signalling the wolf hunted him, but he heard nothing.

 

As he neared sanctuary, he muttered the Wolf Priests' teachings. The last one to come was a warning, yet a statement too.

 

"There are no wolves on Fenris."

 

 

Battlecry-

While “For Russ and the Allfather,” is the most common battlecry, it far from the only one, with feral howls being a favourite of many, especially the younger Astartes of the Chapter.


Edited by Tanner151, 31 October 2017 - 03:07 AM.

War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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This timeline is currently up to the Iron Hands Index on AH.com, FF.net, and SB.com, and I will eventually get to that point on here as well. Thanks for the support everyone.


War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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Hand of Darkness

 

In the outer reaches of a star system known to Imperial star charts as Danzen a ship emerged into real-space, hull black as pitch. The ebon coloured vessel’s warp engine cycled down, plasma engines powering up. It moved in-system, shields down, weapons offline.

 

It moved past the first patrol squadron within eighteen minutes of exiting the warp. The four ship squadron consisted of two destroyers, a light cruiser and a heavy cruiser, their design clearly of standard Imperial Gothic template, whilst the far smaller, more silent running ship was smoother and more elegant in appearance. The squadron checked the IFF of the ship against the data-ident stored in their cogitators. When confirmed, the squadron’s commander sent an encoded message to the armada’s flagship. When confirmation came from the flagship, they allowed the newcomer to pass. Every squadron it passed allowed it entry further into the system, but IFF scans continued.

 

On board the dark starship’s bridge stood a tall man, heavily muscled. He wore a mask of fang toothed bone and gunmetal, his uniform mirroring his vessel’s colour. He watched patiently as he neared the heart of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet.

 

It has grown in recent months, he thought. It was only natural since Bellanor for Fulgrim’s command fleet grow. Before the Dropsite Massacre, the 28th sported less than two hundred ships, ranging from the largest battle-barge of the Legiones Astartes to the bulk carrier transport of the Imperial Army. Now it neared over seven hundred, other fleets having been amalgamated with it and not all were Legiones Astartes.

 

Judging by the transports and estimates of soldiers on every ship, Fulgrim’s fleet bolstered some seventeen million Army soldiers, at least. Astartes numbered likely around thirty thousand, most of who were of the III. He spotted several ships belonging to those of the other Enlightened Eight, though the vast majority were Black Legion auxiliary or Thousand Son. The bulk of the Third Legion was fighting alongside its allies in the primarch’s opening offensive operations. No, not simply a primarch anymore, but a War Commander.

 

Eversor, formerly known as Sire Eversor, stood on the command deck for the three hours it took to reach shuttle range with the Pride of Chemos. He noted five more Assassinorum ships, all sworn to him and the Phoenician, in formation near the armada’s centre. More were undoubtedly on their way; it could take weeks for them all to arrive, however.

The civil war was barely three months old, yet already the Third Primarch had capitalised quickly on his victory on Bellanor, tens of thousands of worlds swearing allegiance to him and several hundred already conquered. It was a dawn of a new, more glorious era. And Eversor would play his role in it.

 

He made his way to the small hangar the starship boasted. Boarding it with several assistants carrying data-slates, the pilot took off from the Assassinorum ship. Not Assassinorum anymore, something greater now.

 

Several moments of flight passed before the pilot spoke. “Pride of Chemos, this is Shuttle 101A, asking permission to dock. We are carrying aboard Lord Eversor, over.”

 

“Permission granted Shuttle 101A. I’m sending your coordinates. Welcome to the Pride, over,” spoke a female voice on the other end, likely the vox officer or one of her many ensigns.

 

The docking was quick, efficient. When Eversor stepped out, walking down the shuttle’s ramp an honour guard of ten legionnaires awaited him, five to each side. They were clad in purple-and-gold power armour, the sigil upon their chestplate a Phoenix of Chemos. Awaiting him was an Astartes lieutenant commander, rank epaulets shined to gleaming.

 

“Welcome aboard the Pride, Lord Eversor. I am Lieutenant Commander Aldeker. I am to bring you before the War Commander.” The Space Marine stepped aside to make room for Eversor to walk beside him.

 

“Is the War Commander in his strategic operations chamber?”

 

“No, he is overseeing Court.”

 

---

 

The lieutenant commander was not exaggerating. As Aldeker escorted him inside, Eversor nodded, impressed by what he saw. “Welcome,” muttered Aldeker, “to the Court of the Phoenician.”

 

It was a large rectangular chamber in the heart of the Glorianna-class battleship. He assumed it had once been either a company-sized training room or perhaps a cargo hold. Either way, it had been converted into something else entirely. Victory banners from hundreds of campaigns hung, catching air from the recyclers. Three large Phoenix banners hung, dwarfing all others, one to each side with the final one hanging above an elevated dais where a throne of white veined obsidian lay occupied. In it sat Fulgrim the Phoenician, Third Primarch and Son of the Emperor, Illuminator, and War Commander of the Eight Legions.

 

Flanking him were Lord Commander Primus Eidolon to his right and First Captain Julius Kaesoron to his left. Behind them were other lord commanders, captains and others Eversor did not recognise. Amassing on the chamber’s floor were hundreds of military or noble uniforms, few in any type of civilian clothing.

 

Before the throne were emissaries from a world, pledging their support. Fulgrim looked upon them, not as a dictator from afar but as an approachable monarch, his natural boundless charisma solidifying their allegiance to him with ease. The primarch’s gaze flickered upward briefly, noting the arrival of Eversor and Aldeker. A slight nod came from the primarch, but turned his attention back to the emissaries. Eversor began to pay attention to what they were saying.

 

“…my world shall send one-tenth of our sons and daughters to fight beside you, my War Commander. Alongside a fifth of our industry set aside for construction of war materials for you. As Ventos of Cailbren, I pledge my allegiance to you.” The man bowed, his lackeys doing the same. He noticed the man had never looked at Fulgrim directly, but rather at his booted feet. It was a common warning to those first meeting a primarch. To look upon one, unused to such grand beings or simply unprepared, had led to powerful men and women stammering like idiots, or forgetting how to speak. On occasion, fainting had occurred. Eversor had worked in the Imperial Palace for over a hundred and fifty years, and had seen several primarchs from afar, though the only one he had talked to had been Lorgar. With Lorgar it had been difficult, for he looked so much like Him, but he had coped with it, prevented himself from being overawed. But Fulgrim was different than the Aurelian. He radiated much of the same energy and greatness that Lorgar did, but he also seemed more imposing, more dominant. Not a scholar, but a ruler.

 

Eversor stood at the back amidst the crowds while Fulgrim answered the Ventos of Cailbren.

 

“That is music to my ears, Ventos Casikha.” Fulgrim’s face wrinkled in regret. “But we are in a war to secure the Throne away from the False Emperor. It will be costly, both in lives and material, but it must be fought for Mankind to survive, as I’m sure you understand.” The Ventos’ nod was quick, eager to please.  “As such is the case, Cailbren will have to set aside quarter of its populace for enlistment and three-quarters of its industries for military construction. It will be years of hardship, yes, but once the war has been won, and the tyrant deposed, you will be greatly rewarded for assisting your new emperor. As the Second Emperor of the Imperium, I will not forget nor discard my friends and allies.Will you do this for me?” Fulgrim smiled warmly, and Eversor saw the tensing of the Ventos’ shoulders unwind and the man became relaxed, bowing happily towards the primarch. Eversor put this information into the back of his mind, noting how easily Fulgrim had manipulated the man to give more and more, making it seem like a request. Eversor knew Fulgrim’s claim and position were as of yet unsecure. His recent elevation to War Commander by his brothers, and claim to the Throne would have many quickly flock to his side, but would have just as many wanting to be convinced to join. They must be shown that they mattered, and would have a place of importance in the new Imperium, or at least have the leader of the new Imperium acknowledge them. The Emperor’s distance to humanity in recent years would be His downfall.

 

Fulgrim motioned him aside, another replacing him. This next man wore a red tunic and a silver breastplate. A steel plate covered the left side of his face, obviously heavily scarred. The cape flowing from his shoulders was the same red as his tunic. When standing the appropriate distance away, the man knelt.

 

“My War Commander,” he said, voice blunt but sure.

 

“Thaddeus, rise, my friend.”

 

The man did so, waiting calmly.

 

Fulgrim rose from his throne, holding out one hand. Kaesoron set something there and the primarch walked down the few steps and several metres until he stood directly in front the mortal.

 

“Kneel.”

 

The man did so instantly, clearly untroubled being this close to a primarch.

 

Fulgrim bent to put something upon Fayle’s chestplate. “Thaddeus Fayle, as Lord Commander of the Archite Palatines, you have served me well for decades, never shirking from duty and you have followed me without hesitation onto the path of freedom for our species. For this continued loyalty and exceptional leadership skills, you are to be rewarded handsomely. You knelt as lord commander of the Palatines, now you will rise as First Marshal of the Imperium. When I take the Throne and become the Second Emperor, you will be commander of the entire Imperial Army, the highest ranking non-legionnaire in the new empire to come.”

 

Applause greeted the announcement. Fulgrim bade the first marshal to rise. Turning to the crowd, the Phoenician spoke.

 

“Ladies and gentleman, friends and comrades all, I must humbly thank you for your support and attendance today. Return to your quarters or ships, tomorrow Court will be held a final time here in Danzen before the 28th Expeditionary Fleet deploys.” A cheer rose from that. Some cheered that after Bellanor and the few battles fought since, the 28th would return to the forefront of the war. Others cheered their hate of the Emperor and His ten loyal sons, their hate of Him their most binding chain to Fulgrim. Eversor admired the skill with how Fulgrim warmed the crowd to him, binding their loyalties ever more tightly with but kind words. Soon those would dissipate and he would eventually order, not even pretending to phrase it as a request, and they would follow without pause. It was masterful manipulation.

 

“Hail Fulgrim!” someone from the crowd yelled, almost ecstatic in tone. The others yelled their own adorations, but were eventually guided out by waiting Phoenix Guard. With the last gone, the doors to the Court closed shut. Fulgrim turned to him, the demeanour now one full of command and little diplomacy.

 

“Report,” the primarch said as he began to move towards the backend of the Court, where another door was located.

“New Dawn Protocol was a complete success in information gathering. It did not do as much damage as I had hoped, but it did far better than projected.” Eversor followed three steps behind and to the side as protocol demanded. Aldeker withdrew from their party with his legionnaires, only Eversor’s six assistants and Fulgrim’s Phoenix Guard accompanying them.

 

“Was Malcador or Kane killed?”

 

“No, unfortunately.” Eversor could not keep the bitterness out of his voice.

 

“You hate him?”

 

“Yes,” the answer was immediate. “He has always looked down upon my Clade, ever limiting us and valuing the others over myself. I was nothing but a blunt tool to him, nothing more.”

 

“You have not to worry about being held in reserve or undervalued. You are to be the director of a new Assassinorum.”

“Thank you, my War Commander,” and he meant it too.

 

They walked in silence for some time, until they came to the primarch’s personal anteroom to his private chambers. There lay a desk to the side, piled with paper missives and data-slates. An advanced cogitator and hololithic projector lay upon it, allowing the Phoenician to do work in private if need be. Four squads of the Phoenix Guard stood outside the anteroom, with another standing in the room with them. Eversor agreed to their stringent protection. Even here, there could be no slacking. If Fulgrim were to be killed, all would be lost. None of the other rebel primarchs would be able to keep the rebellion united and driving towards Terra. Fulgrim was not simply the leader of the Heresy, he was the Heresy.

 

“Show me,” he ordered and Eversor complied. He selected one of the data-slates, uploading its contents into the desk’s cogitator. Vast amounts of information had been stolen from the Assassinorum facility in Hy Brasil and would take several hours to transmit it all to the flagship, so Eversor had brought six data-slates, each pertaining to a specific item of interest. The one he gestured to upload were fleet movements and orders from Terran Command, a majority being from the Warmaster and Praetorian. A rough estimate of fleet and army positions of Throne-loyal forces across the galaxy sprung into life from the hololith projector. It was not all of them, but it was a large minority, enough to help with several deployments in the coming months.

 

Fulgrim nodded appreciatively. “Good work, Eversor. You have proven your loyalties to my cause and to me. You shall be rewarded with what you desire.” The War Commander turned from the hololith to Eversor.

 

“You will form an Assassinorum not limited by laws or decrees, nor directed by an old fool. As my master of Assassins, you will answer to none but me.”

 

Eversor took this as his due.

 

“So, Sire Eversor, what will you create?”

 

Eversor winced at the title, and risked censure by speaking as he was about to do.

 

“My War Commander, I no longer hold the rank of sire as that was the name of Malcador’s directors. Rather I desire a new rank, one that will strike fear into the hearts of friend and foe alike.”

 

Fulgrim’s mouth quirked in amusement.

 

“I have just the one for you, taken from Chemosian mythology. You shall be titled the Kheldall.”

 

It was from an ancient Chemosian dialect, meaning Hand of Darkness, the chief servant of the goddess of shadow and night on Chemos. The translation coming with ease to Eversor; he had spent the time in the warp studying Chemosian history and culture to better understand his new master.

 

“Thank you, my lord,” Kheldall Eversor said, fist over heart in salute. The title linked him to Fulgrim, and he decided he would delve deeper into that world’s history.

 

“My lord, I have a name for your new Dark Assassinorum. One that I believe you will like.”

 

“Oh? What is it?”

 

“Oprechnyna.”

 

Fulgrim seemed pleased at the name. “Named after the goddess herself, how apt.”

“It seemed so to me, my War Commander.”

 

“Good. Now get to work. The war is young and we are a long way from Terra. One of my Guard will show you to your quarters.” The future emperor sat behind his desk, motioning for the new Kheldall’s assistants to leave their data-slates for examination. He was already planning the next wave of offensives into loyalist territory, and would be there for hours readying the forces loyal to him to strike harder and farther into his father’s domain. Eversor took this as his cue to leave and turned around to do so.

 

“And Kheldall Eversor,” came the primarch’s voice, stopping the Assassin leader in his tracks. He turned around. Fulgrim looked at him with an intensity that would have broken lesser men.

 

“Make the Imperium bleed.”


Edited by Tanner151, 08 November 2017 - 01:56 AM.

War Commander of Chaos


#22
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Anthology One

 

The Madness of Magnus

The search neared three hours old. The stink of the hive’s sub-level was palpable, cloying nostrils despite the helm’s filtration system. Carrying his power sword, Death Guard Sergeant Ralgoth and four battle-brothers moved further into the sub-level slums. Beside the legionnaires were three women in gold and silver power armour. The Sisters of Silence carried bolters and a flamer, their swords housed in their sheaths for the moment.

 

The unlikely squad of Sister and legionnaire made their way to where the target had been identified. Ralgoth checked his auspex. “Four hundred metres,” he said. Verbal confirmations came from the Space Marines and vox-clicks from the Sisters.

 

As the squad penetrated deeper and deeper into the subterranean slums of Zoweeto Hive in Sudafrik, they encountered more and more criminal elements. The rabble ran to hide, scared by the Astartes and the Sisters, feeling they were to be apprehended by Imperial justice. But they were mere termites compared to whom they were tracking.

Up ahead, a small child sat upon a rotting barrel, body thin and diseased, watching them with yellowed, sickly eyes. Ralgoth moved past him in a blur, mind focused on the task ahead. Yet as he ran through the trash and rot that made up this sub-level, he could not help but compare it to the city far above. Zoweeto Hive was prosperous in trade and economy, an example to all others on the Afrik continent. Many of its citizens enjoyed middle-class status, and its upper elite were some of the wealthiest on the Throneworld. From the hive spires to the upper sub-levels, prosperity reigned. A kilometre further into Terra’s rock and life could not have been more different. Gangs fought for what few resources came from above, either stolen or discarded. Illegal activities, black market deals, and other such things were the norm here. Ralgoth would have recommended the despatching of the Adeptus Arbites to clear these levels out, but there were far more important matters to take care of.

 

Sister Superior Hangelia led their group, stopping by a collapsed archway.

 

Halt, she used Astartes battle-sign to convey her words. She moved to the crumbling stone, inspecting it.

 

Here. Come see.

 

Ralgoth walked to her, and looked at what drew her attention. A single eye, painted in blood.

 

“The Eye of Magnus.”

 

Hangelia nodded in agreement. Her hand raised, The cult is near, its witch will be there.

 

“Understood,” he turned to the others, waving them forward. “Move out.”

 

They proceeded further into the level’s depths. As they continued, Ralgoth saw more of the Eye of Magnus, daubed on many materials, always the same colour of crimson. Though the Cyclops targeted the Imperial Palace with his psychic might, Terra as a whole was affected. For millions it was relegated to only bad dreams, but some tens of thousands were driven mad by the nightmares. Suicides skyrocketed, as did murders. Most were arrested by the Arbites, usually killed to bring peace to their broken mind. Some, though, were untrained psykers who had avoided previous sweeps from the Silent Sisterhood. After the psychic barrage months ago, they now led bands of cultists, praising Magnus and performing dark sorcery in the depths and slums of Old Earth.

 

Lord Mortarion had ordered his legionnaires to work alongside the Sisters of Silence to eliminate the witch-cults, bringing order Imperial rule to large swathes of the Terran underground. When the Arch-Traitor arrived, Terra must be united if it was to survive the onslaught, not bothered by needless distractions. Therefore the Death Guard and the Sisterhood became the sharpened blades of a surgeon, removing the cankerous witchbreed and securing stability where chaos reigned.

 

Up ahead. There is movement and sound coming from a temple-like structure.

 

Ralgoth was impressed by the Sisters. They were mortal, but their training and equipment made them near-equal to the Astartes in many ways. Not in strength or warfare that the Legions typically waged but in lethality. He saw what she had seen. In the corner of this sub-level’s hab-space, stood a structure with broken multi-coloured murals and a tall tower broken hallway. It indeed looked like a temple; likely built during Old Night, if not before considering how far below civilisation it was buried. Lights were alit inside and out, with braziers and petrochem generators providing it. Ralgoth’s auto-senses showed that there were dozens of humans lying in wait, carrying rust-covered autoguns, sawed-off shotguns and las-muskets.

 

It was clear from their deployment and way they carried themselves that they were untrained. Vermin, armed poorly, defying an empire. If they weren’t dissidents to the Imperium, it almost could have been a theatre play.

 

The legionnaires readied their weapons, the Sisters doing the same.

 

“We will lead, eliminating the cultists. You follow to deal with the psyker.” Vox-clicks answered him. They had done this three times before, their unit efficient in excising cults.

 

“Go.”

 

Ralgoth sprinted down the trash-heaped hill, the dirt a dirty yellow. Cultists rose from their positions to take aim, some forgetting to stay behind cover, and fired. Small calibre rounds and low-powered las-beams hit power armour, barely scratching it. Raising his bolt pistol, he fired three times causing three cultists’ to fall with a fist sized hole in their chest, red mist hovered temporarily before it dissipated. His brothers did the same. Once they met the cultist line, they mag-locked their bolters, readying their serrated Barbaran combat knives. To the mortals it wasn’t a knife, but a small sword and they ran in terror as the dirty white with green trim armoured transhumans butchered through their ranks.

 

One rushed Ralgoth with a shiv. The makeshift blade broke against his armoured back. Turning, he backhanded the cultist, breaking the neck with ease. Looking back toward the temple, he saw two cultists hefting a krak grenade launcher into place, aiming at him. Before the sergeant could move or fire, a bolt took the lead cultist in the head, showering the one behind him with gore and slivers of bone. Terrified, she attempted to run. Another bolt was fired, and she fell to ground, her upper body a ruin. Ralgoth nodded his gratitude to the three approaching Sisters, their bolters smoking from firing. Approaching the closed doors, they attempted to open it. It was locked. Two of Ralgoth’s brothers shouldered through the barrier, splintering rotting wood and weak iron.

 

Before them knelt a hundred white robed cultists. The mortals ignored them, their heads down. At the far end of the temple a woman, robed in similar material but wearing a golden band with a scarlet Eye of Magnus upon its centre. Behind her was a cracked Aquila, its heads broken off and wings clipped. What had this place been before, and for whom? he wondered. She looked at the Astartes in distaste and fear. In her hand rested a curved dagger, which she raised.

 

“Now, brothers and sisters! For Magnus, the Revealer and Sayer of Truths!” She plunged the sharp blade into her heart, the others following suit. Their deaths at first seemed suicidal, without purpose. As if they were trying to deny the Throne servants the satisfaction of eliminating them. But the room began to darken unnaturally. Behind the psyker’s corpse, the defaced Aquila bubbled and hissed. A tear opened up in the fabric of space. Beyond, only darkness and bone-biting cold ruled. From the tear emerged a clawed black and blue hand, razor sharp feathers along the arm that followed.

 

The three Sisters immediately rushed to it. Ralgoth followed as well, trusting the Sisters in this matter of which they were the experts. The Sisters surrounded the tear, their Pariah gene hurting whatever was attempting to enter the Materium.

 

The Sister with a flamer brought her weapon to bear.

 

“Burn it.”

 

Ralgoth watched as the Sister bathed the creature in flames. It shrieked and withdrew back into the dark realm. The Sisters neared the tear, their mere presence forcing it to shrink into itself. When it closed fully, a sigh hissed through the air.

 

“What was that?” he asked. The Sisters seemed unsurprised at what happened. They exchanged glances.

 

The Sister Superior signed to them, It was a creature of the warp, a vile monstrosity that used the sacrifices as a key to enter our plane of existence.

 

Ralgoth looked around the temple, disgusted by what it now. “This place is tainted. We must burn it the ground.”

 

All agreed and they set fire via flamer and melta-charges that caught onto the wood. As they left, Hangelia motioned him aside. They left the burning structure, leaving to return to the surface.

 

We have another name for them, the warp-spawn.

 

Ralgoth was silent for a moment. She continued.

 

The name is tied to the horrors of Old Night and before. It goes against the ideals of the Imperial Truth.

 

“Tell me.”

 

Daemon.

 

Ralgoth accepted the name in stride. It fit perfectly to what he witnessed. The name reverberated with him; it was a more accurate description than any other that came to mind. It pulsed within and he knew future generations would know them by that name. Daemon. Daemon.

 

Daemon.

 

---

 

Oathbound

The dawn broke through the clouds, lighting upon the spires, towers and domes of the Imperial Palace. Sol shined across the system, a fiery orb that brought light to the darkness of the void.

 

Nathaniel Garro sat cross legged on a mat, facing east. It was peaceful. He had few moments of such peace these past months. He was clad in Legion coloured robes, before him lay his sword. He reached for it and began to sharpen it with a whetstone. It was unnecessary of course, unneeded. He could have had a serf do it, sharpen it with a precision machine or las-sharpening, but he felt a calmness in doing in the act. Slide, slide, slide, twist, slide, slide, slide, twist. An hour passed, the sun having fully risen above the horizon.

 

Glancing at the ornate geared-driven clock above the bed, he rose. It was time. Donning armour proceeded quickly. Armed and armoured, his equipment cleaned and shined to gleaming, he left the quarters. Moving through corridors, he watched teams under the supervision of Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists begin the fortification of this Palace sector.

Garro did not sigh, though he regretted that the majesty of the Emperor’s home was being turned into not a residence of governance but a fortress. The ideals of the Imperium, of Unity and a better future of Mankind were gone, never to return. Now… now the best that could be done was to preserve what remained.

 

Nearing his destination, Custodes stood guard. He passed by them into the Inner Palace. Garro moved swiftly. Beside the door he wished to enter stood two of the Deathshroud, manreapers crossed, barring entry.

 

“I have come by order of the Death Lord.”

 

“Who comes?” one intoned, external speakers purposefully morphing the voice.

 

“Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro.”

 

“You are welcomed, then.” Their scythes uncrossed and he walked past them, pushing open the heavy oak doors. Four more Deathshroud stood in the corners of the room.

 

Mortarion stood there, looking out the windows. The primarch turned as Garro entered. Garro saluted the Lord Reaper. Mortarion grasped Perseverance, leaning on the wall near him. The battle-captain stood still, awaiting his father’s ruling.

 

“The rank of First Captain has long been an honoured position within the Fourteenth Legion. Geldon. Janklar. Capaal. These Astartes were brave men, loyal legionnaires to the Emperor and to me.” The primarch moved closer to his son, manreaper in hand. “But that title has been tainted by treachery. Calas Typhon. He is now known as Typhon the Black, a stain upon the Legion, the corruptor of my sons.” The pommel of Perseverance hit the ground, anger at the betrayal clear in the Death Lord’s stance.

 

After a moment, he continued. “The rank of First Captain no longer exists in the Death Guard. The powers and duties associated with it therefore go to the next ranking officer.”

 

Mortarion rested the blade on Garro’s left shoulder pad.

 

“You are no longer Battle-Captain of the Seventh Company. Instead, you are Commander of the Fourteenth Legion.”

 

The pommels of all six Deathshroud hit the floor in salute.

 

Mortarion’s gaunt face stared at him. “Are you ready, Commander Garro, for the battles to come?”

 

“I am.”

 

Mortarion nodded, knowing what his son would say.

 

“Then prepare for deployment.”

 

---

 

Trial’s Aftermath

Thick chains shackled him to the floor. Staring at the metal deck, the prisoner became aware of others approaching. He stood, doing as he was ordered for anytime someone neared his cell. He would not beg, nor act defiant. He was content. Today was the day of his execution.

 

The guards unlocked the door, swinging it open to admit two of the Deathshroud. The primarch’s bodyguards unshackled him from the wall and escorted him to where he would die. They did not talk to him, nor did he to them. All was silent, excluding echoing footsteps.

 

The seemingly endless corridor of metal was interrupted by a long plexiglass window. Pluto, the Sol System’s first line of defence, shone faintly in the pitch blackness of deep space. Loyalist squadrons patrolled the area, while on Pluto itself stood long range augur arrays and warp-scryers. The prison void station Cerberus orbited the planet, jails largely empty. It held only twenty-six prisoners, all of them former Death Guard.

 

The shackled transhuman was pulled into the barren cargo hold, everything having been removed for the execution. Twenty-five others were already shackled. They came from different squads, different great companies. The only thing they held in common was their loyalty to Typhon. They had been there at Bellanor, they had slaughtered their brethren. There were different reasons. Some did it for power; many were believers in the Grandfather. More and more were starting to believe that. And he saw it happening, even before the Massacre. He may be loyal to Typhon, but he did not believe in that path. He sided with the First Captain because he had saved him in battle, cared for him, inquired about his well-being from time to time. It was more than he ever got from a distant and uncaring father.

 

So he volunteered. Go to Terra with the survivors, infiltrate and wreak destruction. Mortarion may be distant and cold, but he was intelligent. He knew there would be dissenters amongst the ranks and had swept through them, hunting any that may have been traitors. The shackled legionnaire did not know if all were caught, but many were. He had been caught attempting to sabotage the warp reactor aboard a XIV destroyer. He did not resist when they arrested him. His fate had been sealed the moment he boarded one of the last dropships leaving Rose City.

 

The Deathshroud forced him to his knees, locking him into place. Watching them was rank after rank of Death Guard, not all of them, but easily a thousand. At their head stood the recently promoted Commander Garro and the Death Lord, watching them. When Deathshroud withdrew, the primarch walked to the first prisoner.

 

There was no speech, for there was no need for one. All that needed to be said had been spoken during the Trials. Today they died. Mortarion raised Perseverance and beheaded the first. The Death Lord made his way down the row of prisoners, mirroring that first action. Before too long, Mortarion stood above him. The last shackled legionnaire looked up to the one who was father in name only. Those colourless eyes looked at him, mouth guard hissing as air circulated through it.

 

The scythe rose and he accepted it. Bending his neck, revealing the pale skin, he readied himself for death. Perseverance fell.

 

---

Mortarion stepped away from the corpses. Motioning to Garro, the chains were unlocked. With their bodies no longer chained to the deck, Mortarion spoke aloud. “Vent.”

 

The void-sealed cargo hold doors opened and the corpses were pulled away by rapid decompression. Mortarion and his sons remained where they were, boots mag-locked to the floor.

 

“Such is the fate of traitors,” he muttered.

 

---

 

Resilience

The surgical operating chamber was located deep in the Terminus Est. In it were three occupants. Two were Apothecaries, the third a restrained Space Marine, drugged into unconsciousness. Above the operating room a viewing room was located, dividing the two chambers with plexiglass. Inside sat Calas Typhon, former First Captain of the Death Guard and now Master of the Black Legion.

 

Typhon interlocked his fingers beneath his chin, staring down at the Deathshround sergeant. Baen was resistant to the power of Nurgle. Such resistance was incredibly rare, and would need to be studied more in depth to better overcome it.

 

The Apothecaries looked upward to the viewing room.

 

“Awaken him.” The order carried through to the vox speakers in the room.

 

One of the Apothecaries inserted a needle into the unconscious Baen. After a moment, the Deathshroud awoke with a start. He thrashed for a moment until it became clear he wouldn’t be able to escape.

 

Baen looked at his captors, then to where Typhon sat watching.

 

“Why? Why?!” the Astartes yelled, red-tinged froth spilling from the mouth. The restraints creaked in holding him, but they held as intended.

 

Typhon ignored him, looking instead at the other two Astartes. “Begin.”

 

They started by lifting a vial of cloudy green liquid, its reinforced glass container already corroding. The vial was injected into Baen’s bloodstream and that was when the screaming truly began.

 

Typhon watched, enraptured by what he was witnessing. The legionnaire resisted the Grandfather’s concoction, a potent one at that. Baen’s body convulsed, blood dripping from his mouth and nose. Yet he survived.

 

“Fascinating,” he muttered, leaning forward. The Apothecaries injected him with a purging chemical, then readied another vial, this one a reddish-brown vial. Inside, small micro-organisms swam, waiting to implant themselves within a host.

 

The experiments would continue and Typhon would learn from them, and using that knowledge he would spread Nurgle’s gifts to all.


War Commander of Chaos


#23
Tanner151

Tanner151

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The Burden of Serpents


Star System SP43-19, Segmentum Pacificus

In the deep void at the edge of the Segmentum Pacificus, a dropship emerged from a goliath of military supremacy. This was the Beta, co-capital ship of the Alpha Legion. Its escorts intermingled with the greater fleet, battle-groups seemingly switching from the first to the second fleet, seemingly at random. But there was a plan there, always a plan. Hundreds of warships lay in the darkness of the void, much of the Legion’s strength, but certainly not all of it. Their augur arrays scanned, fighter squadrons patrolled, and destroyers and frigates roamed through the outer edge of the star system. Even here, nothing could be put to chance.

 

The dropship passed by over two hundred Legion warships, entering the primary hangar bay of its sister-ship, the Alpha. The figures that emerged from the Stormbird numbered a dozen, their armour black as night, their variant reducing noise and made more compact than the standard battle-plate.

 

The leader of the legionnaires noted the strange silence that prevailed through the ship, visible in the hesitancy of the mortal crew and the quiet contemplation of the Astartes. The leader could read their discomfort and thoughtfulness in their stance, looking past the training and discipline. He knew them well, for he was Omegon and they were his sons.

 

Oh, there was noise, it was impossible to cease entirely. Undoubtedly, in the engine room, crew officers and tech-priests were working diligently in adding the latest modifications to the plasma drives, vastly lowering emission visible to sensors. Amongst the warship’s heavy ordinance, previously unknown and deadly weapons were added, joining and on occasion supplanting Imperial technology. Some whispered of the foulness in touching xenos tech, but not very loudly and never around the Astartes. Omegon understood their concerns. Many a damnation had been willingly accepted by the XX during the Great Crusade for the betterment of Mankind. This was merely another.

 

There was no welcoming party near the dropship. Why would there be? What would be the point? Unlike the others, the XX did not treat their primogenitors as kings or almost divine beings. Were they the lord primarchs? Yes. Were they obeyed without question? Yes, of course. Were they the masters of their craft? Obviously. Then there was no need to add ceremony and pomposity to Omegon’s arrival.

 

The Astartes he passed came to attention when they saw him, giving slight tilt of the heads in respect. Some brought fist to chest, though not all did. The mortal crew, however, did kneel or bow, prostrating themselves like animals before their owner. Omegon frowned at that, his features covered by his helm. Was not the point of the Great Crusade to bring enlightenment and equality to the Mankind? He did not blame them, for they were only human, driven by impulse and evolution to seek something stronger than they to protect and for them to give service to. It was the way of things, and likely would never change. The mortals did not know a primarch walked before them, not consciously, but not even they would give such prostration to any Space Marine of the Legion. Later, if they remembered the act, they would joke amongst themselves, or ask why they had bowed to an unadorned Space Marine more fervently than they would have a Hostmaster. But it would fade, within a day they would forget they ever saw a taller than average black armoured Astartes walking past them. Such was Omegon’s role, to be there yet not be noticed. A gift given from father to son, though Omegon did not know if He did it intentionally. The primarch preferred it, and was better at it than his twin. Many a time it was more beneficial to be the unremembered shadow than the face of a conquering army.

 

Situated nearly half a kilometre away below the ship’s bridge stood a sealed chamber. Here none but legionnaires and the most trusted of mortals ventured. Unadorned, it was nevertheless guarded by two Astartes wearing Cataphractii Terminator Armour. Lernaean, jaws of the Hydra. The unit was virtually unknown outside the Legion, as were Omegon’s Effrit Stealth Squad. These were the bodyguards of Alpharius. Not even they knew which of the two primarchs they guarded at any one time, the only thing they knew was they were the protectors of the more visible primarch who called himself Alpharius, regardless if it was truly Alpharius or Omegon.

 

Plans within plans, contingencies within contingencies, and secrets within secrets. It was the way of the Hydra, now and always.

 

The two guards did not bow, but raised their power spears off the ground, bringing their spears down sharply in salute, the sound echoing softly. The chamber’s door opened as he neared and he passed the guards. The door hissed shut behind him.

 

Standing in the centre was himself, or rather his other self. Both were the exact same height, both had tanned skin, shaved heads and both sported aqua-green eyes. Alpharius, both in title and true-name, looked up as Omegon entered, nodding, then returned his attention to the creature before him.

 

The creature’s name was Athithirtir, an Antedil, and more importantly was a member of the Cabal. The xenos was smaller than Omegon’s palm, looking like a hand without a thumb. It resided inside a gaseous orb that floated in the air.

Omegon took his place beside his twin, removing his helm to also stare at the alien, judging it.

 

“You lied to us,” Alpharius said. It was not accusatory, nor angry, at least on the surface. Only Omegon could sense the rage boiling beneath his twin’s calm exterior.

 

Athithirtir seemed to sense it, his species being highly evolved empaths and shook within his orb. Was it fear? It was hard to tell with something that did not have a proper physiology.

 

+No, we did not,+ sent Athithirtir.

 

“No? Then how do you explain that what was prophesised, what the Cabal prophesised, has failed to become reality?” Alpharius’ voice became even more calm, almost uncaring; the primarch’s rage in check only by the strength of his emotional discipline. The xenos twitched in the orb again. Yes, it was terrified.

 

+The war has come, as we knew it would. That was inevitable, nearly every reality and future the Cabal have looked into have shown us that the Imperium would tear itself apart by fratricidal civil war.+

 

Omegon spoke for the first time, “‘Nearly every?’ Explain.”

 

+Over four thousand possibilities were discovered and examined, though there are countless more. Only three had no Heresy like event.+

 

Silence reigned for a moment. “And in those futures, did Horus lead the rebellion?” Alpharius asked quietly.

 

+Yes. He has led the Heresy in more timelines than any other primarch, though three of your brothers come close to matching him.+

 

“So there have been other Heresies, others chosen by Chaos.” Omegon stated. “You said it would be Horus. But the Warmaster does not lead the rebellion, Fulgrim does. So, effectively, you did lie.”

 

+No!+ the xenos pulsed exasperation. +All the signs for Horus’ fall were there. His soul had slowly been damned and corrupted for centuries, guided by Chaos. He was at the cusp of corruption. All he needed was a push.+

 

“Davin.”

 

+Yes. That is where it was to begin. He was wounded but events did not follow as predicted. Instead of turning to the Primordial Annihilator, he had been sent to the Emperor to be healed. Now any possibility for corruption is forever gone, his soul has been cleansed of doubt and ambition tempered. The chances of this occurring in this reality were less than one percent. We could not know that Garviel Loken would alter everything so drastically.+

 

“But he did and now we are stuck with the aftermath,” whispered Alpharius, jaw clenched in thought.

 

+This can be recovered. The rebels can still win. Their victory will set the foundation for the elimination of the Annihilator…+

 

“Stop,” ordered Omegon.

 

Athithirtir twitched at the primarch’s words but did become mind-silent. Omegon’s thoughts raced, considering probabilities and courses of action. An idea struck him.

 

“You said that the Cabal looked into other futures, other realities.”

 

+Yes.+

 

“Were you there? Did you witness them?”

 

+Yes,+ it repeated.

 

“Show them to us.”

 

+Why?+ The xenos stirred in its orb, curious.

 

“So we can find answers.”

 

The Antedil moved around its orb for a moment, as if in deep thought. After a moment it settled.

 

+What I am about to show you will be events and possibilities that may have taken place. Due to the nature of delving, you will only see events concerning your person through your own eyes.+

 

Athithirtir hesitated, as if unsure.

 

+It will be painful.+

 

“Then we’ll feel pain,” responded Alpharius.

 

+Very painful+

 

“Then we’ll feel a lot of pain,” replied Omegon.

 

+Very well. Ready yourself.+

 

Omegon tensed, waiting. The waiting stretched from seconds to a minute. Furrowing his brow, he stepped closer to the orb.

 

“When will-”

 

Colours swarmed his vision, sounds and even smells. He knew he was in the secluded chamber aboard the Alpha, but he could feel a pulling, a shifting to somewhere else, but one familiar to him.

 

-Shift-

 

Omegon stared at the petrified body of Roboute Guilliman, frozen in stasis, face wracked with agony. The fatal wound Fulgrim dealt him was clearly visible and it gave Omegon… satisfaction to see his greatest critic and traitor to the Imperium suffer such a fate.

 

“What now for the Alpha Legion?” Fulgrim inquired. The Emperor’s Children Primarch was resplendent in gold and purple armour, the Palatine Aquila a symbol of hope and strength on the Third Son. Omegon wore a simple hooded blue-black cloak. They were in the Sanctum Imperialis, their father’s half-corpse being guarded by rank after rank of the Custodians.

 

“We will ensure that this does not happen again,” replied Omegon. “We will find them, and we will punish them. All of them.”

 

Shift

 

A battleship bearing the black fist of the Seventh Legion fell through Terra’s atmosphere, ablaze and breaking apart. Omegon moved silently across the rad-wastes of the Goabi Desert, moving towards the rendezvous point.

 

A fair fate for traitors, he thought, watching as the ship impacted hundreds of kilometres away, its plasma drives igniting and an atomic mushroom giving light to darkness. The traitors beseeched their dark gods for strength, but such prayer would not save them from the Emperor’s justice. Not even the pleasure and pain obsessed Fists would desire the fate they would now go to.

 

It took many hours more until their objective came into view: the Imperial Palace. The walls stretched across the horizon, far beyond even his sight. As they neared, a small gateway opened in the smooth adamantium and stone, hidden to all eyes, both flesh and augmetic. His twin stood before him, wearing the armour of a common legionnaire.

 

“Come, brother, we must hurry. The Warmaster is preparing for the final assault. His Blood Angels carve a crimson path to the Inner Palace. Perturabo calls for us. Come.”

 

Alpharius stepped aside, allowing Omegon and the several hundred Alpha Legion Astartes that followed him to enter the Palace. The final days of the Heresy now began.

 

Shift

 

He watched as the Emperor cut down the marble representations of His seven treacherous sons. Statues of the Fifth, the Sixth, the Tenth, the Eleventh, the Fourteenth, the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Primarchs fell to the ground, broken, never to be remade. Standing beside and towering over Omegon, Sanguinius and Horus watched on silently, as were all who stood in the Investiary.

 

To all present, he was Alpharius, but the true Alpharius was hunting down the Arch-Traitor’s most dangerous sons. Solaro An, Verano Ebb, Alvarex Maun, Branne Nev, the list was long and each son of the Betrayer that died before they reached sanctuary in the Eye of Woe was one less thorn in the Imperium’s side. While most of the primarchs sought to rebuild and fortify the Imperium, the twins looked to the future. It was no coincidence that the Alpha Legion would work hand in hand with the new Inquisition’s intelligence services; they had the experience and the network to assist. Let Guilliman administrate, let Horus command the armies and fleets, let Sanguinius act as Imperial Prince, let Angron break any who dares defy the Emperor, but Alpharius Omegon would strike from the shadows to make the enemies of the Imperium fear the Hydra, and in turn the Emperor’s Will.

 

The Emperor made a speech and during it Omegon saw his father look at him, making him wonder: does He know about me? Does He know there were in fact twenty-one primarchs, not twenty? When that gaze left him, Omegon was becoming increasingly assured that the Emperor did know but kept it secret, allowing the twin primarchs of the XX to operate in secret for the betterment and survival of all Mankind…

 

Shift

 

Omegon knelt before the throne of ebony and crimson.

 

“Rise, Alpharius,” commanded Warmaster Horus Lupercal.

 

Omegon rose. Horus sat there staring at him. Those eyes were so intense, so full of hate. Even through the warp, he could sense his brother’s rage. If anything the warp magnified the emotion. Horus pulsed like a beating heart, a beacon of death in a realm of madness.

 

The Heresy was almost at its end. The Nine Legions neared Terra, already skirmishes deep within the Segmentum Solar were occurring between forces loyal to Horus and those loyal to the Emperor, led by Leman Russ. The Emperor remained incommunicado and the galaxy burned. The death toll reached uncountable trillions but it was almost at an end.

 

Omegon worried about the path they took, but Alpharius Omegon took the path as one mind, one soul, and would see the Cabal’s predicted future come to fruition. It must come to pass, for the galaxy’s sake.

 

“Tell me, brother,” rumbled Horus, “of your plan to assault Terra.”

 

Omegon readied himself. The operation was decades in the planning and implementation, many years before Horus ever fell to the Primordial Annihilator. The reasoning had been different for the time, a precaution, one never to be used. Now, it was being repurposed for the Warmaster’s ambition. It was only one of several contingencies the Alpha Legion had put into place since its union with its primogenitors.

 

May He forgive us for our sins… thought Omegon as he began to detail the basic outline of the plan.

 

Shift

 

The gilded corridors of Achamaerea were lined with the Phoenix Guard. They watched him, wary and judging. Striding down the corridor he approached the overly-large doors with silver gilt.

 

The flanking Guards opened it to him, announcing him to the court.

 

“Alpharius, Primarch of the Alpha Legion.”

 

The words echoed in the chamber and all in it fell silent. For many, this was the first, and last, time they would see the secretive lord of the XX. Hundreds were in court, most blue-blooded nobles that ruled entire sub-sectors and sectors. Once their allegiance had been to the Master of Mankind, but now it was to him.

 

He, of course, was Fulgrim the Phoenician, Primarch of the Sons of Fulgrim, Illuminator, Speaker of Truths, and Sovereign of the Imperium of Man. Omegon despised this brother, but must follow him in this war to ensure the victory of the traitors and thus laying the seeds to the downfall of the Ruinous Powers.

 

Behind and to the left of Fulgrim stood First Captain Julius Kaesoron, who watched the court with interest and showing a keen mind in that gaze. He will be important in the years to come, I think. Beside and to the right of the self-titled Sovereign stood Lorgar Aurelian, his armour more humble but no less powerful than what Fulgrim wore. Dark crimson and gunmetal trim was the Seventeenth’s armour, adorned with Colchisian runes, and a heavy tome shackled to his waist. Illuminarum was in hand, but was more a staff of office rather than weapon presently. Though everyone looked to Fulgrim for he was the visible leader, Omegon knew Lorgar to be the silent power behind the throne.

 

“Ah, Alpharius, it is good to finally see you,” Fulgrim said with a hint of mockery, a sly smile touching his perfect visage.

The court of fools laughed, all save the Astartes of the various Seven Legions that now made up the rebellion. Some smiled, particularly the Sons of Fulgrim, but they did not cackle like the others.

 

Omegon bowed slightly, but did not kneel. Fulgrim frowned for a moment at the lack of subservience, the crowd whispering in hushed tones, and Lorgar’s eyes twinkled with amusement. If Fulgrim sought to usurp the Emperor, he must do so with his brothers as equals, not subjects. Omegon could have knelt to the Warmaster, for Horus was a close brother and had the rank and presence to require and expect subservience. Fulgrim did not, and Omegon would not immerse himself any further in the charade.

 

The Third Primarch stood and walked down the marble steps that led to his throne. He walked to Omegon, resting a hand on Omegon’s shoulder. The disappointment and soft anger that had been in Fulgrim’s eyes only minutes before were gone, now he was the perfect statesman and commander. Fulgrim began to guide Omegon back to his throne.

 

“Come, brother, there is a war to win and we have much to discuss.”

 

Fulgrim wasn’t Horus, but he would have to do.

 

Shift

 

Terra screamed in agony, even now, months after Horus’ victory. Warmaster no longer, but Second Emperor of the Imperium. Many differentiated it with the old Imperium by calling it the Horusian Empire, but never around the new monarch’s loyal henchmen.

 

Alpharius Omegon stood on a shielded balcony in one of the Palace’s many outlying spires. They watched as massive bulk carriers of the Dark Mechanicum and the Iron Warriors arrived and departed the surface, taking rubble away and bringing in fresh material. They went about rebuilding the ruined Palace.

 

Perturabo seemed to take a brooding pleasure in tearing down the remaining undamaged sections of the Palace, then building it in his own design. By all accounts, Horus was pleased, though the new Emperor was becoming more and more distant as his hold over the Imperium tightened.

 

The Heresy might have been won, but it was far from over. Roboute Guilliman, Lion El’Jonson, Rogal Dorn, Jaghatai Khan and Leman Russ had united their broken Legions in Ultramar, making it near impenetrable. It would take years, decades perhaps, to finally beat the remaining loyalists. Vulkan had disappeared and not even the Alpha Legion could find him. Not yet, at least. Corvus Corax was being hounded by a combined force of World Eaters, Death Guard and Night Lords. The Raven would fall soon, either in death or captured and tortured by Curze. Omegon hoped it would be the former. He might be a traitor in name whose actions had seen countless billions killed, but he would not want his brother to feel needless pain. If Corax was captured by the Night Haunter, then Omegon would authorise one of the many sleeper agents within the sadistic VIII to grant Corax eternal peace.

 

The Imperium may now be ruled by Horus, but tens of thousands of worlds through the galaxy resisted, many of which resisted with weapons and support given to them by the XX. The age of blood and betrayal would not end so easily. In two or three generations, Horus would launch a war of self-hate that would make the Heresy look like the opening skirmish. It would destroy humanity but save the galaxy.

 

Omegon looked to his twin, who looked back.

 

“Everything is proceeding as planned.”

 

“Yes,” said Alpharius, his voice one of sorrow at what they had done, but unflinching in what they must do. “It won’t be long now. Then it can end.” Both primarchs felt the gravity of those words. Years of lies and planning would culminate in genocide on an extinction level. But it was for a cause greater than themselves.

 

“For the Emperor,” they said in unison, continuing to watch as the last vestiges of their father’s dream was torn down by a mad son’s greed.

 

Shift

 

The Beta was moving towards the next target, the next conquest of the Warmaster.

 

Deep within the armoured confines of his ship, Omegon looked before him. Two sets of armour plate lay on racks before him. One was the blue-black of the Legion, the other unpainted grey. He stared at them with much intensity.

This was the decision, the deciding moment. One represented a future long planned and guided, one of death, despair and finality. The other was of rebirth, hope, and possibility. He stared at them for a long time.

 

Alpharius’ choice was still the same they had together so long ago. But Omegon felt doubts. He, a demigod by any definition, felt doubt. He was unaccustomed to it, but nevertheless it was there.

 

Hours passed, or was it days? It was hard to tell; the chamber alit only by lumen strip. Finally, he made his decision.

Standing up, he moved to one of the armour racks and donned on the plate. He did it by himself, which made it take longer than if he had serfs to assist, but he felt purity in doing so. This was a decision not made as one half of a mind, but his mind entirely. It was liberating in that regard.

 

Once finished, he looked at the other, unused armour. Putting a hand on it, he pushed it to the ground. Metal clacked and scraped, but he did not care. He was his own man, now. He was finally free.

 

-Shift-

 

The visions ended suddenly.

 

+Those are only some of what I witnessed. You will need a small break to rest the mind. To push without rest would unhinge anyone, even those with your physiology.

 

Neither primarch spoke for several moments. Alpharius inhaled, Omegon exhaled. They glanced at one another and an agreement was made, wordless and made only by facial cues. Omegon’s right hand surged towards the alien orb, grasping it and began to apply heavy pressure. Alpharius’ left hand was mirroring his own on the other side. The glass-like material began to crack and gases hissed out.

 

+What are you doing?+ Athithirtir pulsed panicky. +Stop!+

 

“We will not be puppets…” Alpharius said coolly.

 

“…we will not be slaves,” Omegon intoned solemnly.

 

“We are Hydra,” they said in unison.

 

The orb shattered, their gauntlets coming together to squish the Antedil. Bright yellow blood dripped from their gauntlets onto the floor as they separated, mild acidic blood scarring the ceramite. Athithirtir fell to the floor, dead, blood pooling from its corpse.

 

Alpharius Omegon looked upon the xenos, then at each other. They did not speak for some time, just looking, examining.

 

“We will continue as before. Already our plans are in motion. No matter who leads the rebellion, we must assist them, more so now than originally planned. Nothing has changed.” Alpharius paused for a moment. “Are we in agreement on this matter? We must be one mind on this.”

 

“I am in agreement, brother.”

 

Alpharius nodded at that and left the room, his Lernaean guards trailing him.

 

Nothing has changed? No, that was wrong. Everything had changed, Omegon thought as he too left the room.

 

Everything has changed. I have changed.


Edited by Tanner151, 08 November 2017 - 02:31 AM.

War Commander of Chaos


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Tanner151

Tanner151

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Anthology Two


The Unborn Empire

Leman Russ crept alongside the shadowed walls of the great hall he found himself in, like a predator carefully stalking its prey, eyes darting about and senses being used to their full genhanced effect. One hand was on his sword, the other clutching his bolt pistol. Behind him trailed thirteen of the Vlka Fenryka, each moving as quietly as their skills would allow, which were great as they were amongst the best in the Legion. The infiltrators stuck to the shadows, moving quietly and swiftly.

 

They had entered the fortress-monastery with no alarm being sounded. Four servants had been taken care of while the Wolves stalked inwards. They were not dead, merely unconscious and their bodies hidden well. Russ did not want blood to be spilt, not yet at least, not unless he was delayed.

 

Once again, Russ admired what his brother had built here. The Fortress of Hera was not only one of the strongest and most well-defended bastions in the Imperium, it was also incredibly beautiful. Mosaics depicting the rise of Konor, the betrayal of Gallan, and the ascension of Guilliman as Battle-King of Macragge lined the walls of hall. It was a risk to move in so public a place, but they had to hurry to reach their target, lest the servants’ sleeping forms were discovered.

Russ knew the Wolves’ strike-team were close, he could smell his brother’s scent nearby in the Lord of Ultramar’s study. Rich Legion banners flanked the opening doorway that led further into Guilliman’s private sanctum. It was flanked by warriors of the Suzerain Invictarus, the Invictarii. Even here, deep within their fortress-monastery, the Ultramarines did not neglect their primarch’s security. Several assassination attempts by the traitors had been founded and stopped by these noble sons during the five years of civil war, though several were able to get to within reach of the Thirteenth Primarch. None had succeeded. Their plumed cobalt helms shined with the light of torches and glow-globes throughout the great hall.

 

If he had the time, Russ would have found a way past them, to reach his brother without making the XIII aware, but he could not risk-

 

Klaxons began to go off in the distant, quickly spreading to where they rang loudly in the hall. More of the Invictarii emerged from the sanctum, with several squads of regular line-legionnaires coming from elsewhere in the Fortress to reinforce. Heavy bolters, slaved to servitors controlled by a Techmarine, swivelled back and forth, awaiting any attack.

The element of surprise was gone. Now it was time to improvise. Growling, Russ emerged from the shadows, his sons following without question.

 

The blue, white and gold armoured Space Marines bearing the Ultima upon their chestplate, watched cautiously as the Wolves approached.

 

“Do not make the first move, but if they attack, kill them all,” Russ barked in Fenrisian battle-talk over a secure link. Guttural grunts were the expected response. Likely the Ultramarines had decrypters and translators on hand monitoring all frequencies, but it would take them time to decipher the speech into base Fenrisian and from there into Low Gothic. By then, it would be too late.

 

An Invictarii sergeant moved forward, hand raised to stop Russ.

 

“My lord primarch, please halt. There has been a security breach-”

 

“Don’t touch or impede me.”

 

The legionnaire paused, but continued forward steadily after but a moment. Russ growled, but the Ultramarine was either incredibly brave or incredibly foolhardy. It was almost admirable. The legionnaire’s fingers grazed the wolf pelts covering Russ’ armour.

 

Russ backhanded him, sending the Invictarii flying left into the marble wall, cracks splitting and ruining the artwork that decorated it. The legionnaire sergeant lay on the floor, leg twitching, and blood pooling from the indented armour. He lived, albeit barely. Two battle-brothers grabbed their sergeant, pulling him to an Apothecary who stood nearby, their weapons aimed at the Wolves. The sound of blades being drawn and bolters raised echoed in the vast, multi-tiered level chamber.

 

Russ grimaced and withdrew Mjalnar, gripping it in two hands. The pack he brought with him covered his sides and rear, ready for a charge to come to them, or for them to charge at the other legionnaires. More boot steps from behind signalled Ultramarine reinforcements coming to encircle the VI legionnaires.

 

He did not want this to come to pass, but he must seek the truth of the matter. Was Guilliman a traitor? Russ had been on Macragge for weeks and all had been going well, their combined VI and XIII fleet soon to depart to cleanse Ultramar when Russ found evidence of Guilliman’s ambition and potential treachery.

 

He had wanted to confront his brother privately, but if his brother truly was a traitor-in-waiting, then stalling or approaching cautiously would have been too risky. Russ knew that if fighting happened, the Vlka Fenryka would die to the warrior this day, with none to sing of their tales of heroism and bravery in the sagas. But if Guilliman was planning to betray the Imperium and the Allfather, then Russ would kill him before he too died.

 

The two opposing forces were stalling, not wishing to make the first lethal blow. It became tense, almost electric. More and more Ultramarines arrived, filling the railings and balconies with hundreds more legionnaires. Heavy bolters and lascannons propped against railings to aim down upon them.

 

“Hold your fire,” commanded a demigod’s voice.

 

Roboute Guilliman emerged from the doorway into the sanctum, eyeing the situation before him. His eyes narrowed at seeing the broken-bodied Invictarii sergeant in the corner being tended to an Apothecary. The Lord of Ultramar motioned for his Ultramarines to make a path, and he walked towards his brother.

 

“Leman.”

 

“Roboute.”

 

“You have some explaining to do, brother.”

 

Russ moved closer, causing the Ultramarines to refocus their weapons at the Sixth Primarch. “As do you, Roboute, as do you.”

 

Guilliman led Russ to his study, their sons following.

 

“Stay outside,” Guilliman ordered. The Invictarii were clearly unhappy by this but complied nonetheless. Russ motioned for his Wolves to remain as well. The Wolf King moved inside the study, looking about the room. Data-slates and paper documents dominated the large desk, ten metre windows behind it giving an excellent view of Magna Macragge Civitas.

 

“Why have you come into my home, uninvited, wounded a son of mine, and act as if I am your enemy!” Guilliman demanded, hands clenched behind his back. The Thirteenth Son stood behind his desk, looking out the window. After a moment, when no answer came, he turned about to face his brother.

 

Russ sized his brother up. He could take him. Brilliant mind, administrator and strategist that his brother was, Guilliman could not survive a brawl with Russ. Guilliman’s face hardened even more, becoming akin to stone as he deciphered his brother’s intent.

 

Silence hung heavy between them for a moment, the air tense with violence. Russ could smell the battle-musk of his sons; they were ready to kill their Ultramarine counterparts in but a moment.

 

“Well? Tell me!”

 

“You’re a traitor,” Russ said, softly, yet predatorily.

 

Guilliman’s face became harder than stone, then went emotionless.

 

“Why do you say that?”

 

“Imperium Secundus.”

 

Guilliman shook his head. Was that anger, or disappointment? Russ couldn’t tell and Guilliman’s scent became stale as his emotions came under control.

 

“How wrong you could be, brother. I am no traitor. The Secundus Contingency was only a precaution, one that was never put into place.”

 

“But it was made, nonetheless. I’ve seen the documents, the plans. You would have made yourself emperor.”

 

Guilliman barked laughter, cold and hard. “There are two reasons why I drew up the contingency that is the Imperium Secundus, and two reasons why it never went past plans. Theoretical, if the Throneworld fell to the traitors, or if the worst happened: the Emperor was killed, what then would have resulted? Anarchy, the fracturing of the loyalist front, and chaos. We would have been ripe for the traitors to sweep us aside and establish their supremacy. Practical, develop a successor state to the Imperium, allowing the Emperor’s dream and Mankind to survive and to also act as a haven for Imperial forces. I did not make the theoretical become practical because there was no other to crown emperor. If I had crowned myself, I wouldn’t have been any better than Fulgrim. I would have been a hypocrite, seemingly power-hungry, and labelled a secessionist and a traitor. If Sanguinius, Horus, or even the Lion had been here… well, Secundus may very well have come about.”

 

Guilliman sat down into his large chair; shoulders slumped with exhaustion and burdens. Russ then saw how truly tired his brother was, and felt a moment of… doubt. He was not accustomed to it. Guilliman continued.

 

“We were cut off from the outside for five years. Five long years, with no word from Terra, or any other loyalists. For a while some assumed we were all that was left, but even then I did not crown myself. Not until I knew for sure the situation outside Ultramar. When you arrived to Macragge, your fleet falling apart, battle-wounds clearly visible to the naked eye, I knew the war continued. There was a moment, when I saw your flagship dock in near-orbit and before I knew the details of the greater Heresy, where I toyed with the idea of crowning you, Leman. The Wolf King would have become the Wolf Emperor.”

 

Russ tensed at that, but Guilliman’s raised hand placated him.

 

“Only for a moment, mind you. Then you told me of the war outside the Ruinstorm, how the traitors neared Terra with every passing day, and how the Emperor still yet lived. When I learned this, I had the Secundus Contingency locked away, never to be used and to be forgotten. But you found it.” Guilliman’s eyes narrowed. “I would like to know how you did that.”

 

“That is unimportant,” Russ said. He heard the truth in his brother’s words, and his scent was honest. Guilliman was not a traitor, just a cautious man who thought of the worst outcomes and made plans to counter them.

 

“I was wrong, Roboute. I assumed the worst, yet hoped for the best. Today assumption fell wrong, and hope endured.” Russ took off one of his gauntlets, tossing it onto the desk, and withdrew a small blade from his waist. Cutting into his skin, deep enough to allow some blood to pool to the surface and not instantly clot, he held out his hands to Guilliman. The blade was to be taken from him and the bloodied hand grasped.

 

“I swear upon my blood, Roboute, that I harbour no doubts about your loyalty any longer. I know you to be a true and loyal son to our father, and will swear a blood-oath with you to cleanse Ultramar of the traitors.”

 

“We shook on this before,” commented the Ultramarine Primarch, but he took the blade anyway in hand.

 

“We did, but that agreement became fouled by this misunderstanding between us. Now we understand the other and the blood will purify our previous agreement.”

 

Russ watched as Guilliman cut into his own palm, blood pooling into his hand.

 

“I, Leman Russ, Wolf King, Lord of Winter and War, Primarch of the Sixth Legion, do swear upon my blood to purge Ultramar of traitors and reunite the Five Hundred Worlds with the Imperium as soon as possible.”

 

Russ waited for Guilliman to speak, which he promptly did.

 

“I, Roboute Guilliman, Battle-King, Lord of Ultramar, Primarch of the Thirteenth Legion, do swear upon my blood to purge Ultramar of traitors and reunite the Five Hundred Worlds with the Imperium as soon as possible.”

 

Both primarchs clasped their bloodied hands together, their blood mixing with the other.

 

“Now brother,” began Russ, “when do we leave?”

 

"Soon, very soon. Prepare your Legion, Leman. We have traitors to kill.”

 

---

 

Reclamation

Captain Falcius Edonus moved through the rubble that had once been prosperous suburbs of Salucia’s largest city: Dominar. Flanking him were fellow Ultramarines, moving further into the Iron Hand-occupied city. Entry had been easy, using an ancient sewer system that were built centuries before the world became part of Ultramar. Better and more extensive pipes had been laid with typical Ultramar efficiency, but those were on blueprints. These older lines were not. Moving from them to the more modern pipes was risky, but no sensors were triggered nor enemy seen. Reaching the surface brought new dangers, but they were so deep behind enemy lines that the traitors would not expect nearly two hundred Ultramarine legionnaires to be in their midst. As Edonus neared the pre-determined area where his company would wait, he thought back on how the Shadow Crusade reached Salucia.

 

The Heresy was now three years old, with no end in sight. Edonus and his company, the 23rd Chapter’s 77th Company, had been on routine patrol on the outer edge of the Five Hundred Worlds when contact with the rest of the Imperium had been severed. More disturbing was the Ruinstorm. Not only did it block any travel to or from Ultramar, as well as making warp jumps within Ultramar difficult, it formed a physical presence in real-space. Night and day, the blood and bruise coloured stormwall was visible, taunting them, locking them up in a cage like an animal. That had been three years ago, but much had happened since.

 

Lorgar’s and Manus’ Shadow Crusade had lasted a year, seeing nearly thirty worlds so damaged by war as to be made uninhabitable for millennia, if not forever. Over a hundred more worlds had felt the war reach them, with many occupied by the Word Bearers and Iron Hands, or raided and made to bleed for no apparent reason. When the two Traitor Primarchs had withdrawn, they left behind tens of thousands of Astartes, plus many millions of human soldiers. The XVII had left their most fanatical elements behind, led by First Captain Kor Phaeron and First Chaplain Erebus. The fanatics were always chanting prayers to their dark masters, whom they called gods. It revolted Edonus to hear such talk, but the Imperial Truth no longer held sway anymore. Not as it once did. Gone were the days of enlightenment, science and reason. Now were the days of war, treachery, and daemons. The X had left fewer legionnaires than the Word Bearers, but they had made up for their lack of numbers for being excellent at delaying tactics and defence. Their battle automata and tech-heresy allowed them to even the odds when facing the more numerous XIII.

 

Edonus and his company had arrived to Salucia mere weeks after the Shadow Crusade had begun, ordered there by Legion command to hold the planet against any hostile invaders. It had seemed strange to be sent to a planet so far out of the way of the major theatres, but within a month of arriving a traitor raiding fleet had arrived, doubtlessly seeing Salucia as a quick and easy raid. The 77th Company had denied such an easy conquest.

 

In spite of their valiant resistance, the traitors continued to advance. On Mark 403 for Salucia the Ultramarines and their Army allies had been pushed back to the Dantian Peninsula far to the south-east. Edonus had prepared himself for the end, but then hope came in the form of reinforcements. Several companies of legionnaires and two dozen regiments of the Imperial Army had arrived. The traitors’ advance had been stopped and then ever so slowly pushed back. Even in retreat, the enemy legionnaires and their lackeys made the loyalists bleed for every metre of ground liberated. Now, it was Mark 1047, and Dominar was their last holdout. Edonus had been the ranking officer when the planet nearly fell, so it was only right he would be the first to bring retribution in the last battle for Salucia.

 

Dominar had been made into a fortress, but the Iron Hands did not know about the blind spots beneath their feet. Impregnable from above, vulnerable from below, Salucia would fall this night. Edonus’ company was not the only one in the city, though the other remained in the sewers, waiting for the time to emerge to cause confusion while the bulk of the loyalists attacked the outlying districts of the city.

 

The broken wall, rubble strewn about, provided ample cover. But it would not be used as such. Looking over the wall, he saw his target in the nearby coutyard: heavy artillery guns, rocket racks, SAM and AA guns, all facing towards the east where the loyalists had assembled en masse. Cameleoline nets covered them, making them invisible to surveillance from the air.

 

“Mark them,” he said. His vox-legionnaire nodded and began to send the locations of the traitors’ defence line to the long-range heavy artillery kilometres away. Undoubtedly, the Iron Hands knew the primary, secondary and tertiary vox frequencies used by the Thirteenth Legion, which the loyalists had used throughout the campaign, merely updating their codes and encryption.

 

Today though, it was not the XIII’s frequency being used, but the frequency used by Salucian deep-sea mining corporations. Still in code, but if lucky, the traitors wouldn’t even be aware of the storm coming to them. As the legionnaire finished sending the coordinates, Edonus nodded.

 

“Execute immediately.”

 

The legionnaire relayed the message and far away, Edonus could hear the dull rumblings of giants roaring flame and metal. Heavy ordinance shot from Imperial positions, landing amidst the Iron Hand defences. Explosions bloomed among the enemy line, ammunition popping off as it was consumed by flame. There were screams, mainly from mortal auxiliaries. The barrage lasted but a few minutes, but it was enough. The Iron Hands guns were wreckage, hundreds of mortals and several legionnaires laid on the ground, dead.

 

Edonus activated his power fist and readied his bolter.

 

“For Guilliman and the Emperor!”

 

The Ultramarines took up the battle-cry as they rushed over the broken wall, heading towards the enemy. Some mortals looked about, dazed, and they quickly died from blade and fist. No need to waste good bolts on such weak foes. Further ahead, from the smoke and fire emerged the Gorgon’s sons.

 

Black and silver clashed with blue, white and gold. Bolters were fired and grenades thrown as the two forces converged. Red blood arced in the air and pooled on the ground, armoured transhuman warriors fell, most dead, some wounded. Those were quickly finished off with a second volley of fire. The two companies of Astartes neared and clashed in the centre of the broken artillery guns.

 

Edonus ducked a chainsword swing from an Iron Hand, upper-cutting him with his power fist. Armour buckled and blood hissed as it met with the fist’s power field. The traitor flew backwards, his helm caved in and brain matter speckling his grille. An Ultramarine died beside him. Edonus reacted, bringing his bolt pistol to bear and avenged his fallen brother. The offending Iron Hand fell backwards, a bolt round having ruptured his skull.

 

Over the vox he could hear the second company in the sewer emerging from its position to strike at traitor forces heading towards the outer districts as reinforcement. From the east, a thunderous roar signalled the rapidly nearing Imperial forces. Overhead a half dozen Thunderhawks flew over. Enemy AA fire might have been severely weakened by Edonus’ first strike, but some weapon platforms were still operational. Thick calibre rounds tore into the flank of one of the Thunderhawks. It quickly caught fire and started to swerve hard into a skyscraper. Edonus saw some battle-brothers jump out, but most were still in the dropship when it rammed into the building.

 

He yelled in anger as he returned his focus to the battle, killing two more Tenth Legion Astartes. A Thunderhawk neared his position, depositing its twenty-man cargo. The fresh Space Marine joined the melee, forcing the Iron Hands back.

 

From further into Dominar came the mechanical clanking of metal legs rapidly approaching. Edonus saw what approached and stifled his disgust. Battle automata. But these were no typical automata, but ones made not by the Mechanicum as was their forte, but rather the Tenth Legion itself. Abominable Intelligences, however limited, were reminders of Mankind’s past failed ambitions and overconfidence.

 

The Imperium was now facing its own failed ambitions and overconfidence. History seemed to repeat itself often.

The automata were driven by their own will, no human brain controlling them in any form, only wires, cogs and a small cogitator. The soulless machines joined the battle, negating the XIII reinforcements. Both sides fought and died in that courtyard. Edonus destroyed two of the robots with his fist, and shot another three. They were fast and designed to kill Space Marines, their weaponry reflecting that intention. Several legionnaires in cobalt fell to their blades, but more of the automata were destroyed in turn. A machine could be built and made to kill with but a command program. It took years to train an Aspirant into a battle-brother. So despite every legionnaire taking three or four of the robots, it was an unfavourable trade and the Iron Hands knew it.

 

They knew since reinforcements had arrived to Salucia that they would lose the planet, yet nevertheless had stayed to bleed the Ultramarines and take up manpower and resources that could have been better spent elsewhere. Even if the loyalists won here, the traitors still came out ahead. That blunt realisation and the cold fury that followed it like a dedicated hound pushed Edonus to cut a path through the traitor legionnaires and their damned war-machines.

 

At the back of the battle, a lone Astartes approached. He wore a long and tattered grey cloak, only the splayed out iron hand sigil adorning it, covering his black and silver armour. If the cloak did not announce clearly enough to that saw him, the mag-bow gripped in the legionnaire’s hand announced who he was without a doubt. A Wanderer. Here. Edonus saw the Space Marine raise his mag-bow and three mag-arrows were shot, each killing an Ultramarine, piercing battle-plate like a hot knife cutting into butter. Edonus made his way to the Wanderer. The legionnaire might not have an official rank like sergeant or captain, but he had been chosen to join the Wanderers by Ferrus Manus himself and would represent a high value target. If the Wanderer were to die, the morale of the traitors would likely fall, making the battle all the more easier.

 

He could hear explosions from behind, and gunfire. The bulk of the loyalists had finally joined the fray and entered the city’s outer districts. It would be a bloodbath, but with Iron Hand reinforcements being tied here, not to mention their heavy ordinance destroyed, the day would belong to the Imperium in the end.

 

The Wanderer saw him approach, appraised him, seeing the officer’s icons and helm crest. The Iron Hand raised his mag-bow; Edonus could hear its building whine. He grabbed a shield from the ground, its bottom brushing emptied shells and fallen weapons as he pulled it to protect his centre. The bow fired, its arrow punching through the shield, the head close to Edonus’ head but the shield had stopped its forward momentum. He was close now. Another arrow pierced the metal, but again was stopped. The Ultramarine captain threw the shield at the Wanderer, the shield knocking aside the mag-bow. He rushed the legionnaire, who pulled his own close combat weapon. Powerfist met power sword, sparks flying. The two danced with death, fist and blade nearing their mark but their training and skill prevented them from landing.

 

All around them, brothers from two Legions met, fought, and died. Battle automata intermingled with the legionnaires, providing support for the Medusans. More and more Ultramarines died, their numbers dwindling. Edonus sidestepped a thrust, seeing an opening and swung down with his fist. The traitor raised his right hand and the powerfist impacted it. Edonus did not expect screaming, nor was there any. He was surprised to see wires emerging from the hand. An augmetic, and one of such fine quality as to be indistinguishable from flesh. The Iron Hand punched him with the metal stump, pushing Edonus back. A quick slash from the power sword saw his right hand, the one carrying the fist, fall to the ground. Blood spurted from the wound until his Larraman cells could stop the bleeding.

 

The Iron Hand shouldered him to the ground. The black-and-silver Astartes brought his sword to bear. He looked at his stump, then Edonus’ severed hand.

 

“The Flesh is Weak, little Ultramarine.”

 

The Wanderer raised his sword. Bolts hit him in the chest, exploding within the legionnaire’s chest cavity, blood spraying Edonus. The traitor knelt, breathing heavy. Alongside blood, machine oil dripped out from the fatal wound. Edonus pushed himself up, seeing fresh XIII legionnaires joining the fray, pushing the Iron Hands and their robots back. He picked up the traitor’s blade in his left hand.

 

“Such pride, traitor.” He jabbed the blade into the legionnaire’s primary heart. The Wanderer died, and fell to the earth. Pulling the blade free, black and red coating its length, he pushed himself to his feet. From its hilt, a pommel bearing the Tenth Legion’s sigil displayed itself. A battle-brother rushed to his side.

 

“Sir, the attack has broken through the traitors’ lines. What’s left of the traitors has pulled back to the Casain Administration Building.”

 

Edonus looked at the blade a final time. He could almost hear screams and whispers coming from it. He did not know if the weapon housed a daemon, but better safe than sorry. He tossed it the ground. He would not dirty himself with such filth.

 

“Good, brother. Ready the men, we make for this battle’s conclusion.”

 

“Yes, sir.” The Space Marines in the courtyard began to assemble. So many would not stand beside them. So many would not see the end of this war. But they fought, nevertheless. Edonus unclipped a small plasma grenade from his belt, setting it to a thirty second detonation, and laid it atop the Wanderer’s blade. He moved away from the blade.

 

“Ultramarines, move out!” he ordered and joined the dozens that jogged towards the last phase of the Battle of Salucia. The plasma grenade detonated, consuming the foul sword.

 

---

 

Grave of Metal Corpses

Calth’s orbit was a graveyard. Imperial Army, Ultramarine, Iron Hand and even several Word Bearer vessels littered the void, many with huge rents in them. Cold corpses drifted through space, their blood congealed and frozen.

Captain Senra Tao sat on her throne, watching as the three cutters began to cut away from the strike cruiser’s hull. Her ship, the Kalcullna, was a light cruiser that acted as escort to the cutter squadron. The salvage operation had been ongoing for six months, since the last of the rebels’ fleet had departed after a month of orbital supremacy. The Shadow Crusade was tearing across Ultramar, a dozen worlds burned to a crisp, and dozens more scarred by war. Lorgar Aurelian and Ferrus Manus spearheaded the traitors’ assault through the Five Hundred Worlds, and countless billions were dead or dying.

 

Only ships that had been of the XIII or the loyal Army were to be used for scrap, traitor ships had a tendency to have… disturbing things hiding on them. They had found out the hard way. Some ships had been salvageable as a whole, only needing months in the repair yards, but most ships would have needed years to return to frontline duties. Those were broken down for parts. Already, Tao’s squadron, and other like it, had recovered dozens of ships and broke down hundreds more. Tao’s presence was required, as there had been several attacks from hidden corvettes and ships that still clung to life. But the last confirmed attack in this sector had been weeks ago.

 

“Captain, Cutter Two is reporting odd transmissions.” Her vox-master turned from his station.

 

“Could it be vox-echoes?” she asked.

 

“Possible, but-

 

Cutter Two exploded. Cutter One was caught in the blast, and Cutter Three lurched away, but trailed debris and its speed was reduced by half. The ship they had been cutting into swivelled several of its cannons and fired upon the fleeing cutter. The unarmed ship, carrying hundreds of crewmen, exploded quickly.

 

“Cease fire, cease fire! Strike Cruiser Idonalius, this is the Imperial Army light cruiser, Kalcullna! Cease fire, cease fire, we are loyal to the Throne!”

 

The response hissed through, distorted. “We bring the Word to unbelievers! We bring the Word to the defiant! We bring the Word to all!”

 

Tao grimaced. “Heretics." They must have boarded the ship during the void battles months ago. "Weapons, destroy them.”

 

Confirmation came from her weapons-mistress, who targeted the crippled ship. The lance beams hit the weak sections of the strike cruiser, setting off a chain reaction within the ship. Explosions rippled across the hull, splitting through the ship’s midsection. The two separate halves drifted lazily in two different directions, impacting other corpse-hulls and exploding.

 

Tao watched, cursing under her breath. Now she had to explain to Command how she lost her entire cutter squadron in a single engagement with a half-destroyed Astartes warship. If she was lucky, she would be relegated to patrol the edge of the Five Hundred Worlds for a decade. Unlucky and she would be at the frontlines.

 

She shuddered as she ordered her ship to withdraw. But she did so nonetheless. It was her duty.

 

---

 

Perfected Raid

The world called Tamera was a peaceful planet, industrious, too. It exported textiles of excellent quality and finely cut jewels mined from the Ancano Mountains. Its beauty was obvious from space, with tall mountains, large rivers and expansive green fields where the Tamerans farmed to feed their people. Besides its exports, which were desired on worlds throughout half the sector, it featured a budding, but increasingly growing trade network. The warp tides near Tamera were swift and smooth, bringing much wealth to the planet. It was that extensive depot of goods, including the vast merchant fleet that carried those goods across the sector, and the warp tides that brought the Sons of Fulgrim to Tamera. Because that which could carry trade goods could also carry soldiers, war materials and more. The wealth of Tamera would be put to good use, as well. Mercenary armies, bribing sector governors and more would be needed to buy with coin and gem. The War Commander might have the support of two-fifths of the Imperium and eight of the Legiones Astartes, but more would be needed to tip the scales of the war in Fulgrim’s favour.

 

The Dropsite Massacre had hurt the loyalists, almost critically so, and the follow up campaigns had further weakened them, but the road to Terra was long and would take years. As a result, worlds like Tamera were highly sought after by the War Commander. No matter how important a duty, it was relegated to lower-ranking officers. While lord commanders such as Eidolon, Lucius, and Cyrius fought on the frontlines beside the Phoenician, others, usually newly promoted captains and lieutenant commanders, led these minor raids.

 

The raiding force that came to Tamera was led by Captain Tyberius Sakaeron of the Second Millennial.

 

When the III warships entered orbit, squads deployed to secure the orbital depot yards and merchant freighters. Within an hour the orbital network would be secured, with sabotage kept to only two freighters having been tampered with. The rest, over two hundred ships, were captured. While critical to the overall raid, more central matters took place below on the surface. The bulk of the raiding force descended to Tamera itself, with five regiments of the rebel Imperial Army accompanying them.

 

Sakaeron himself deployed in the first wave surrounded by his guard and all carrying storm shields. Their dropship, a Thunderhawk, shook as loyalist anti-air unleashed its fury into the heavens. Over the vox, Sakaeron could hear his brothers and mortal allies dying as they descended. The Legion losses were regrettable, but previously taken into account.

 

The Thunderhawk landed with a start. The side doors clunked open and Sakaeron was the first off the dropship, the first Son of Fulgrim on Tameran soil. War ruled Tamera now, not industry or peaceful trade, but violent, destructive war. He smiled.

 

Sakaeron hoisted himself onto the Rhino detached by a carrier-ship, his legionnaires following suit, and he made his way to Tamera City, capital of this world. In the distance he could make out hundreds of Leman Russ tanks – Gorgons, he needed to remind himself they were known as Gorgons now to the rebellion – moving towards the Third Legion’s landing zone, various other armoured vehicles in support. They were assembled by company and were moving fast across the green, fertile plains. The Tamerans may not have been a militant people, but their reaction was swift and he gave them credit for that. Sakaeron had expected this and had prepared accordingly.

 

“Now,” he ordered over the vox to his flagship in orbit. Orbital bombardments traditionally took many hours to prepare, to account for planetary rotation, target location’s weather, point-of-attack and much more. It took Sakaeron only thirty minutes to perform the final calculations correctly when his fleet neared the planet after their several hours long journey from the Mandeville point to near-orbit.

 

Lance and plasma rained from low-orbit, impacting amongst the Gorgon tanks, many liquefying under the intense heat. He imagined hearing their screams as the crews cooked alive in what was supposed to protect them. It was the symphony of death, and it rang sweet. A dozen Third Legion Rhinos raced across the plains to the city, three Land Raiders scattered among them to add their powerful arsenals to the battle. Behind them hundreds of Army Chimeras churned up dust as they raced to meet the Legion’s quick pace. Heavier bulk carriers began to land, their cargo being hauled out by servitors and slaves. Overhead, fighters and bombers peppered Tamera City with high explosives. One bomber was clipped by AA from within the city, thick, black smoke emitting from its starboard engines. It twisted, breaking apart, and crashed into the city’s wall.

 

It took nearly ten minutes for Sakaeron and his assault to reach those walls. Likely, in other situations, he would have laid siege, but he did not have time for that. The war raged across the galaxy and he would be damned if he stayed here longer than he had too.

 

“Fire.”

 

From the landing zone, thirty-seven heavy artillery guns unloaded their arsenal, all aiming at one point: the portion of the city wall directly in front of the traitor legionnaires. Sakaeron could hear the high pitched whistle of the shells soaring overhead and impacting the ceramite wall. The wall began to crack and chip, but still it stood.

 

“Fire,” he repeated. Another thirty-seven artillery rounds pounded the wall, the whistle louder and more threatening as they rapidly neared the crumbling wall.

 

“Cease fire,” he ordered. Switching to the frequency used by the Rhinos, he spoke firmly. “On my mark.” He rose from his command pulpit, grasping the heavy bolter in his armoured hands. “Mark.” Bolt rounds flew from his weapon and the other Rhinos followed suit. Their bolts impacted the wall, exploding as they penetrated, and the crumbling wall finally heaved and fell apart, leaving a gaping hole just large enough for a Rhino.

 

“Single file, follow me in.”

 

The Rhinos rearranged themselves, and their captain led them into Tamera City. The wall scratched and dirtied the purple and gold livery of the transport, dirt cloying the air nearby. Sakaeron flashed a grin as he saw the city's interior. The defenders, men and women in military attire, tried to resist. The first few were shredded by bolter fire, their rapidly torn apart bodies leaving a reddish-pink mist in the air.

 

“Third Squad, secure the breach and establish a perimeter. Fourth and Eighth Squad, head to the industrial sector and preserve the machinery. Cut off any loyalist reinforcements that will make their way through there."

 

Confirmations flooded to him, but Sakaeron pushed them back, knowing his legionnaires would follow his orders no matter what. Discipline ran deep in the Sons of Fulgrim. “Fifth, Sixth and Tenth Squad, move to the starport. Capture the command centre.” Three more Rhinos, thirty more legionnaires, left to comply with his order.

 

“The rest, follow me. We are going to take the governor’s palace.”

 

The remaining half-dozen armoured vehicles stormed across Tamera City. Reports from the Army units detailed their endeavours in the city, their goal was to protect the Legion’s flank and to capture the vast warehouses and supply centres.

 

Sakaeron remained on the bolter, unleashing a burst here, a burst there, killing those few soldiers who dared tried to resist. Within minutes, the six Rhinos pulled up to a grand palace: the planetary governor’s home.

 

Sakaeron stepped down from the Rhino, motioning for his warriors to advance. They broke down the door, slaughtering what few of the house guard had remained, foolish or brave, it mattered not. The Sons of Fulgrim swept the mansion quickly, efficiently, and within two minutes of entering, he stood in front of Governor Albias Yunn in the man’s official office. The man was corpulent, sweat trickling down ruddy fat cheeks, and he smelt faintly of Iho sticks and amasec.

 

Sakaeron seated himself across from the shaking Yunn. “Governor, please, sit.”

 

The man did so, though he practically fell into the padded chair. Sakaeron’s own chair groaned at the weight it was taking as it was never designed for a transhuman in mind, but he ignored it. Three legionnaires took station throughout the room.

 

Sakaeron unclasped his helm, hearing the hiss of escaped air, and set it aside near a small metal Aquila that rested on the desk as a paper weight. He leaned forward and flicked it, the double eagle falling to its side. Yunn watched with watery eyes.

 

“What are… what are you going to do with me?”

 

“Nothing, if you cooperate.”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“The access codes to your personal treasury.”

 

“That’s my-” Yunn swallowed nervously. “The governor's funds are part of the government’s. It can be accessed easily.”

“Is that so? So, no stashed away funds for you and you alone?”

 

Yunn was silent.

 

Sakaeron sighed, and pulled out his combat knife and impaled it into the gilded wooden table. It pierced the rich wood easily.

 

“Now, Governor Yunn, you will tell me the access codes or I will kill you. Give them to me and I won't.”

 

“But you need me-”

 

“Need?” Sakaeron was amused. The man actually thought that! How could a weak-willed, spineless coward of a mortal think he was necessary. He was merely just a tool to hasten the job. “I can crack the code eventually, but there is a war to win and I want to return to it as quickly as possible. Now,” Sakaeron narrowed his violet eyes, “give me the codes or have your throat slit by my hand.”

 

Yunn looked at him for a moment than nodded, tears cascading down his cheeks onto his silk vest. Sakaeron brought out a data-slate, handed it to the mortal, and waited as he punched in his codes. Yunn handed it back and Sakaeron quirked an eyebrow at the number presented.

 

“Eighty-seven millions crowns? My, someone is corrupt, isn’t he? Most impressive, governor. This will help the War Commander. Not very much, but every little bit helps. No small contribution should be ignored.”

 

The legionnaire captain rose from the ornate desk and began to leave the room, two guards trailing him.

 

“Sergeant Silvus, if you would do the honours,” he said to the remaining legionnaire, who stood behind the shaking Yunn.

 

Silvus plucked Sakaeron’s knife from the table and brought it the governor’s throat.

 

“But you said you wouldn’t kill me if I gave you the codes!” Pudgy fingers pointed accusingly at Sakaeron. The officer turned around, bemused.

 

“You’re right, I did, and I am keeping my end of the deal. I won’t kill you. I didn’t say you would leave this room alive.” He left the room as he heard the monomolecular sharpened blade cut the corrupt ruler's fat throat. Such an inefficient creature, that Yunn was. With the planet's wealth, he could easily have doubled his personal wealth. Not only was he corrupt, but poorly so.  When Fulgrim became the Second Emperor, such weak corruption wouldn’t exist, and those that were corrupt would be far more intelligent and devious. Such traits would be necessary for the Imperium to evolve. The new Imperium of Man would run better, more smoothly, and Mankind would reach another golden age under the Phoenician’s benevolent and wise rule.

 

Sakaeron checked his chrono, noting he had been on-planet for less than an hour. By the reports coming to him, he had lost two legionnaires due to AA fire and one in orbit due to combat servitors. Army losses were light, several hundred. Three Astartes for the wealth of an entire world. It was worth the cost. Already the freighters in orbit were being manned by trusted serfs, and the riches of Tamera pulled from its grasp to support the War Commander’s crusade to Terra. This was the third such raid of similar success in just over a month. The primarch would be pleased and Sakaeron would gain some favour from these little endeavours. Since Vespasian’s death at the Rebirth, no officer had been promoted to Lord Commander of the Second Millennial. Fulgrim had the various captains of the Millennial competing against each other to make sure only the strongest and most deserving became one of the Legion’s lord commanders. And Sakaeron was determined for it to be him. He would one day become a lord commander, and eventually, he hoped to become so much more.

 

The Heresy was purging the old blood, allowing the newer, better stock come to power. He had been a sergeant a year ago, now a captain. Soon he would be more, so much more. His dreams hinted that he would become powerful and feared. He would make it so.

 

---

 

Dark Glass

They found the artefact in the centre of the Catallus Warp Rift, hovering over the tear in reality. The Thousand Son squadrons moved closer. Aboard the squadron's flagship, the battle-barge Ankhtowe, stood Magnus the Red, the Crimson King, Cyclops, Primarch of the Fifteenth Legion. He watched as the XV warships secured a perimeter in the bubble of relative stable space near the artefact.

 

Beside him stood Amon, Captain of the Ninth Fellowship and Equerry to the primarch. The man had helped raised Magnus, akin to a foster father, but more so. Amon had been his teacher, his strong right hand during the early years on Tizca. Later, when Magnus had begun to unify Prospero, Amon had been his most powerful advisor and led the government when Magnus was otherwise preoccupied. Magnus had seen approval in those old eyes many times, and each warmed him. But lately, there had been nothing to approve. Prospero burned, his people butchered like cattle, and his sons forced to damn themselves further by allying with Fulgrim. It was not desirable, but it is what happened so he do the best he could for his sons.

 

Amon looked at Magnus.

 

"What is it?" he asked, gesturing to the view-screen.

 

"An artefact from the Dark Age of Technology. My father found it, then hid it. He didn't hide it well enough, however."

"But what does it do?"

 

Magnus didn't answer, but made way to the hangar bay. Amon followed only a step behind, and the Scarab Occult trailed them both. The primarch descended through several levels of the Ankhtowe. The Photep was commanded by Ahriman, and was elsewhere, drawing Russ away into a carefully designed trap. Magnus' body might be here, but most of his consciousness was elsewhere, acting as a beacon to the Wolf King. Never had Magnus felt so weak. But he must be strong, for his sons, for the future of Mankind.

 

Boarding a Stormbird and taking it over to the artefact took only several minutes. Finding an opening was difficult, hidden as it was, but not long after departing the battle-barge, Magnus, his guard, and Amon walked the halls of the artefact. More dropships arrived carrying several squads of Space Marines.

 

"Move out, secure the station." The Astartes complied with their primarch's order. Magnus and his party moved deeper into the aretfact, which seemed to be made of crystalline material. He knocked on it, testing it. Crystalline in appearance, but harder than most metals. Very curious.

 

As the legionnaires explored more and more of the station, reports flooded back to Magnus. No one had been found, but dried blood was visible throughout in many locales. Magnus watched everything with care, noting every detail and implication.

 

"My lord," reported one of his Techmarines, "we have found something."

 

The primarch noted the location of the legionnaire in question via auspex. "'I am on my way."

 

It took longer than it should have, corridors seemingly twisting and ending almost randomly. Others would have been lost for hours. To a primarch, it merely added minutes to the journey. Magnus saw the doors that had been forced open, breaking them, and saw a circular chamber covered in thick cable wires and other machinery. He stepped into the chamber and his eye was drawn the throne in the centre, a burned skeleton covered in scraps of clothing sat in the throne. A headband encircled the figure's head. Magnus moved forward, pulling the band down to see a third empty eye socket. A Navigator? More and more curious. He looked about.

 

A cogitator was nearby, blood staining its controls. Moving to stand beside it, he saw a blinking light. Manipulating the controls, he activated the pre-recorded message. He watched on in silence as the Navigator, named Pieter Helian Achelieux, spoke of what he called the Dark Glass and the project that had gone on here. It was addressed directly to the Emperor.

 

The recording was short. It detailed the last few days of successful operation, the project nearing completion, the hope of stabilising the Webway close at hand and then the madness that spread among the crew like a sickness, making them kill one another in a blind blood-fueled frenzy. Achelieux had locked himself in the throne room. He was there for days, but with food and water reserves depleted, he placed himself upon the command throne to attempt escape. The recording ended then. Despite his strength and impressive will that he undoubtedly had, the Navigator burned himself out, becoming nothing but bones and dust.

 

Magnus stood there silently. Eventually Amon spoke up. "He mentioned that a primarch was to sit on it. One of great psychic power." Magnus could feel Amon's eyes on him, but did not respond nor turn around.

 

"Secure all data, record everything," Magnus spoke aloud, then took a deep breath. "Set explosives for remote detonation." The legionnaires assembled dispersed to carry out those orders, all but the Scarab Occult and Amon.

"Why, Magnus?" asked Amon. "Why destroy this place?"

 

"I see now what my father wished, what this place meant to Him. He wanted to leave behind warp travel and the dangers associated with it. A faster, more secure, and far safer method of transportation, adapted from ancient xenos technology but human-made. It is admirable in intent, but it can never come to pass now."

 

Amon tilted his head. "But why destroy it? This is a relic of another age. Think of the knowledge it holds!"

 

"We will take all we can with us, but this place cannot remain intact. The path that was forced upon us has made it clear that the future of the Thousand Sons resides with the warp and its mysteries. We can not allow the Emperor to construct something outside our domain and influence. The time of knowledge is gone, at least for the moment. The time of betrayal and war now reign supreme, therefore we must do all we can to secure victory."

 

Amon nodded, understanding.

 

Magnus left the chamber, heading towards the hangar bay. His guards following. Amon stayed behind to look at the Navigator's husk.

 

"All is Dust," he muttered, then left to rejoin the others.


War Commander of Chaos


#25
Tanner151

Tanner151

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Chainsworn

 

The Conqueror hovered over a dead world, killed by its invaders. Ship after ship ascended and descended through the atmosphere, transporting men and material to the fleet centred around the Gloriana-class warship.

 

Arkhas Fal looked down at the ochre-coloured planet from a chamber that separated him from void via a plastek window, and frowned. The Battle for Gasnea Prime had lasted nearly three weeks and saw heavy fighting. Many had died, both World Eater and Outcast, but compliance had been secured in the end.

 

He stood in the waiting room, his second-in-command, Captain Thaes Balfur moved up beside him.

 

“It feels strange to fight without Him.”

 

“Him? The primarch?”

 

“No. Not him, Him,” Balfur stressed the word.

 

“Oh, Him.”

 

Balfur nodded. “It’s been years since Horus became Warmaster, yet it feels like only a few months have passed since the Emperor retired to Terra.”

 

Fal was glad that Balfur couldn’t see his face, for his features looked as if he bit into a Calden lemon. Two centuries of service together had made the two officers become close friends and comrades. Balfur’s faith in the Emperor and Horus had stayed strong throughout that entire time, while Fal’s…. had faded.

 

Now he had faith in no one but himself and his Outcast brothers. And one other.

 

“The Crusade is ending, brother.” Their black and white armour hummed, providing the only background noise aside from the humming vibrations from the warship’s engines. “It is finally ending.” Balfur’s voice seemed resigned, or was it relief? “Two centuries of death and blood, soon it will end. Then there will be peace. Finally, peace.”

 

Fal shook his head. “There will always be war.”

 

Balfur stepped forward to look at Fal directly. “You jest. Perhaps a rebellion or minor xenos incursion, but soon there will be no need of the Legions, at least not as we are now.”

 

“From conquerors and liberators to a police force, eh?” Fal spat the words. “What a waste.”

 

Balfur eyed him for a moment then turned around to look down as Gasnea Prime. “There will be a place for us after the Crusade ends. Guilliman has ideas of what it will be, what we will become. I must say, Arkhas, that after two centuries of service, I wouldn’t mind decades of relative peace.”

 

Such naivety, such self-delusion, he thought. Fal was glad the plastek window did not reflect his face, for they were twisted with annoyance, and minor disgust.

 

The two Nineteenth Legion Astartes stared down at the compliant world, silent save for ventilation, the ship’s engines, and their armours’ hum.

 

Their serenity was broken by a door opening and an officer in the blue-and-white of the XII walked in.

 

“He is ready to see you,” the World Eater spoke bluntly, to the point. Fal found it refreshing. “Follow me, Shade Lord.”

 

Fal followed, motioning Balfur to remain behind. The Twelfth Primarch had called Fal to attend and no one else. Protocol and tradition made Balfur accompany him to the Conqueror, but he would not attend the Gladiator.

 

The distance from the chamber to the primarch’s residence was short. Space Marines in Cataphractii armour guarded intervals leading to the primarch. Their red eye-lenses stared down Fal as he was led past them. Many had fought beside the Outcast commander in several campaigns, but their vigilance did not waver. Not when their lord’s security was concerned. The Devourers were known for their ferocity in battle and their utmost loyalty to Angron.

 

Two opened the final door for the World Eater centurion and Fal, with another four watching with hands on their weapons. Odd, thought Fal. The Devourers were usually not this tense. Something must be amiss.

 

Inside was a long hallway, with pillars on either side. The pillars themselves were bland, coloured in Legion livery, but the walls behind them were far more decorated. It told of Angron landing on Nuceria, being taken in by farmers, volunteering to join the slave-pits to pay his foster family’s debts, and the rest was well known. The gladiatorial survival of the fittest, the rebellion by Angron, his success and subsequent war of liberation for the planet… The walls detailed this all and more. In the far back corner two mortals were putting the initial strokes that would detail the compliance of Gasnea Prime.

 

At the end of the hallway was a large table, round, and occupied by high-ranking World Eaters. Fal glanced through the faces, recognizing them all:

 

First Captain Gheer, First Company.

 

Captain Sarrik, Third Assault Company.

 

Captain Dreagher, Ninth Company.

 

Captain Vostigar Catacult Eres, First Armoured Company.

 

There were more, but the last one Fal saw was Khârn, Captain of the Eighth Assault Company, Equerry to his primarch and favoured son as well. Khârn saw him, nodding his head in greeting which Fal returned absentmindedly, his attention focused on the being who dominated the table.

 

Angron, the Crimson One, the Unbroken Gladiator, the Breaker of Chains, and Eater of Worlds. He was magnificent, a demigod to inspire loyalty and demand submission. His head was shaved, only inklings of red hair could be seen, and his deep-set eyes were a pale yellow. The armour the primarch wore was master-crafted Artificer battle-plate created by Perturabo, named Armour of Mars.

 

The primarch noticed him and raised his hand, silencing all others around the table. Fal stepped closer.

“You all know what to do. I will send you finalised orders before we enter the warp. Dismissed.”

 

The World Eaters officers rose and left. None bowed, but many gave the warrior’s salute, their armour echoing as fist struck metal and ceramite. They left, Khârn being the last. He patted Fal on the shoulder, as if wishing luck, and departed to join his brethren.

 

Fal stood before the empty table, save for Angron, and waited.

 

Angron turned to the mortals in the corner. “Leave.” The two gathered their materials, bowed deeply, and rushed to leave via a small, almost unnoticeable door.

 

Angron’s gaze turned to down the hall, near the thick iron doors that Fal had only so recently entered through. The two Devourers there stood motionless. Angron made a gesture, a wave of his hand, fingers twisted into some kind of sign language known only to the primarch and his guardians.

 

The Devourers tapped their inactive power axes against their chestplate and left through the iron door. Fal and Angron were now alone.

 

Angron rose and Fal went to his knees.

 

“Get up,” the primarch ordered. It was not kind, nor was it cruel. It simply was, blunt, effective, and above all, uncompromising.

 

Fal did so.

 

Angron stared at Fal for a moment, those pale yellow eyes and strong cheekbones judging him. The primarch leaned down to the floor next to seat and brought up a chain, one very similar to those used by duelling pairs in the fighting-pits.

 

The primarch pulled taut the adamantium chains, clinking together as they were straightened, and moved to stand in front of Fal, a demigod looking down upon a lesser version of him. “Tell me, Arkhas Fal,” began the primarch, “what is the difference between slavery and freedom.”

 

---


Tasskio

One hundred and eighty-two years before the Dropsite Massacre

 

It will be humiliating to die like this, cornered like a common rat.

 

That was the thought that kept coming back to him as he fought. His chainsword whirred loudly, skin tearing open under its monomolecular sharp chain-teeth, bones broke, and blood sprayed into the air in sweeping arcs.

 

“Back! Move back!” he yelled at his brothers. Another fell before the xenos, his skull caved in by a massive jagged cleaver.

 

“Captain, we can’t! No room!” yelled a grey-clad legionnaire, his name Thaes Balfur. Fal quickly saw that the legionnaire was all too right. They had been pushed deep into the canyon, farther than Fal had thought, right into a dead end. Fal could hear bolter fire emanating from nearby canyons, informing him that other squads and companies still fought on, but with no chance to link up with them, all would die, cut off and overwhelmed.

 

“Company, create breathing room. Gun them down.”

 

The front line pulled back instantly. The xenos, vile Orks thinking victory was near, rushed forward only to be ripped to shreds by bolter fire. Fal fired his last clip into a mass of greenskins, blood and viscera creating a red river in the canyon’s dry floor.

 

Such was the effectiveness of the bolt fire that the Orks struggled to climb over their dead. But in creating space between the Astartes of the Nineteenth Legion and the Orks of some tribe that would be unpronounceable in Low Gothic, the Space Marines used the last of their bolts. Pistols and rifles were discarded, blades readied for the final confrontation.

 

Fal revved his chainsword, clearing it of flesh, bone and metal. The Orks had thrown their dead to the side, and now howled their zeal for war. One Ork in particular, judging by his primitive armour and helm to be some sort of war leader, bellowed at the legionnaires. Thick, foamy drool dripped from its open jaw. The beast sported beady red eyes amidst a green face with arm length tusks protruding upwards… It was a horrid sight, a sight that had almost pushed Mankind to the brink of extinction in years past.

 

The Ork leader shouted loudly in challenge once more, spittle spraying outwards, and two axes were brought together, the metal clanging.

 

“Astartes of the Nineteenth Legion!” Fal yelled over the vox, “We fight for glory and honour!”

 

“Glory and honour!” they returned.

 

“For the Emperor!” Fal yelled at the top of his lungs and began to rush forward, his brothers beside him. A few score grey armoured legionnaires against thousands of greenskins.

 

But the two forces did not meet. Loud, thunderous booms echoed from above. The Orks looked above in confusion, but Fal knew what they were.

 

Drop-pods.

 

The sky was filled with them. Trailing behind the falling fiery pods were over a hundred Stormbirds, their engines flaring blue-white to get their armed cargo to the ground as fast as possible.

 

Two pods, expertly ejected from their warship high above in low orbit, impacted in the canyon, crushing dozens of xenos with metal and force. The doors exploded off, and black and pearl white armoured legionnaires emerged, cutting and gunning down the Orks.

 

Luna Wolves, sons and soldiers of Horus. Progeny of the First Found had come to rescue them.

 

“Join them! Kill the xenos! Link up with the XVI!” Fal ordered.

 

The legionnaires of the XIX complied with the order and joined the fray. Within moments the two Legions had formed up, establishing shield-walls and quickly cutting down the alien menace. Ork after Ork fell, but only occasionally did a ceramite and adamantium encased transhuman fall.

 

Fal lost himself to the battle, acting on instinct and training. He gave orders and his brothers carried them out. He decapitated one Ork, stabbed another in the chest, and disembowelled another. He was a killer, an Emperor-forged killer. He was Death.

 

An hour passed before the chaos of battle died down. He pulled his chainsword from the chest cavity of a fallen Ork, raising his sword to attack but stopped as he realized only legionnaires still stood.

 

Fal’s body was weary, his arms burning with lactic acid. His physiology quickly took care of that, but he was still tired after nearly five weeks of almost unending combat, with brief moments of rest here and there. Apothecaries in XVI colours moved through the XIX, checking for injuries and retrieving the gene-seed from the fallen. If a living XIX Apothecary could be found, it would be given to him. For the moment, Fal thanked the Luna Wolves for their preservation of the Nineteenth Primarch’s genetic legacy.

 

“What happened here?” inquired a voice.

 

Looking up, Fal saw a Luna Wolf standing before him, a captain by his markings.

 

Fal straightened himself. “We were ambushed.”

 

“By Orks?”

 

“No. By a race known as the Thezsuum, thirty-three days ago. They lured us in over Tasskio, crippled most of our ships, and departed. Our fleet was forced aground and found the planet teeming with Orks. We have been fighting without pause ever since.”

 

“Where is your Legion Master?”

 

“Dead.” Fal’s voice was cold. “That bastard ignored all warnings. He wanted the glory of wiping out the Thezsuum. Instead, he made a grave for the XIX. He died within the first day, too early to truly see the disaster he led us into.”

The Luna Wolf was silent for a moment.

 

“Follow me,” he said, and Fal complied.

 

The legionnaires exited the canyon, more and more dropships descending through the clear orange sky. An operations centre had been established, with several tech-priests and Legion personnel moving to and fro, coordinating the battle. Standing among them was a being that could only be described as the sun. Warm energy flowed through Fal merely being in the same presence as the creature before him, an example of the Emperor’s masterful gene-smithing.

 

“My lord, a captain of the XIX.” The Luna Wolf bowed slightly. Fal went to his knees as that tanned face with blue-green eyes flecked with gold turned towards him.

 

“Thank you, Hastur,” said Horus Lupercal, Primarch of the Sixteenth Legion. The primarch turned his gaze to Fal. “Now, tell me how your Legion fell into this mess.”

 

And so Fal told him. He told them of their orders from local Imperial command, telling them to recon the sub-sector. In the midst of their mission, contact with the Thezsuum occurred. The xenos race had defied the Imperium for near a decade and had a formidable empire that acted as a sharp thorn in the nascent Imperium’s side.

 

Shade Lord Gerlkun Aiil tracked one of their fleet’s to Tasskio, hoping to wipe it out and seriously hamper the xenos’ void capability, but instead led the Nineteenth Legion into a trap. A trap Fal, and several other XIX officers had pointed out. Gerlkun in his wisdom ignored all of that. That foolishness led to bulk of the XIX fleet to be destroyed with the remnant grounded. Only a few ships made it out of the trap, gone to call for help. The survivors that made it to the surface thought they would fight the Thezsuum, but the xenos had chosen their ambush well, for Tasskio crawled with feral Orks numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

 

What followed was five weeks of warfare. After Gerlkun’s death, followed Captain Yaen’s, then Captain Barver’s, and finally the responsibility of Legion’s survival fell upon Arkhas Fal, a mid-ranking captain. He bore that burden for three weeks and each day he became more and more convinced none would rescue them, that the Nineteenth Legion would die before reaching its twentieth year anniversary since inception. Trapped, broken and left to die on a world far from the frontlines and glory of conquest. It would have resulted in them being an embarrassing footnote in Imperial history.

Horus Lupercal listened to this all in silence, four Astartes beside him, each sporting a phase of the moon on their helm, issuing commands in their primarch’s stead. As Fal finished, Horus sighed.

 

“Such a waste. It is good Gerlkun had died, otherwise he would have had to face my wrath.” The flexing of the Talon showed just what kind of wrath the dead Legion Master would have experienced.

 

“How many survived? How many of my brothers still live?” he asked, hearing reports in the background and the slow dying of weapons’ fire signalling the battle was near to ending.

 

Horus turned to one of his moon-bearing captains, who whispered something not even Fal’s hearing could catch. The primarch’s face did not betray his emotions, though Fal thought he saw a tightening around the eyes and mouth.

“Shade Lord Arkhas Fal, I am afraid that only six thousand XIX legionnaires remain.”

 

Fal felt numb as he heard the number. When the fleet had arrived to Tasskio, the Legion had numbered twenty-nine thousand. Damn Gerlkun! Damn him!

 

The primarch’s other words suddenly registered with Fal.

 

“Shade Lord? I… I cannot-”

 

“You are the senior most ranking officer left among your Legion, and you fought for survival admirably. Shade Lord is your variant of Legion Master, correct?” Fal nodded, Horus continued, “The XIX will need to be rebuilt, and I can tell you will be crucial to that.”

 

He was right, of course. Fal inherited the command and would now have to wield it effectively to ensure his Legion survived.

 

“Yes, my lord.”

 

---


Subha II
One hundred and sixty-three years before the Dropsite Massacre

 

Cold wind whistled through the mountains, bringing with it loose razor-sharp rocks and piercing ice. Protected as he was by armour, Fal ignored the wind, though he calculated the speed so he could compensate.

 

Looking out over the mountain range, the name was nearly incomprehensible to Imperial tongues; Fal thought back on how this campaign came to pass. The years since the disaster on Tasskio had seen the Nineteenth Legion permanently attached to the Sixteenth Legion, at least until the XIX fully recovered. Nearly two decades of recruitment and intensive training had seen their numbers rise from six thousand to almost thirteen thousand but it still wasn’t enough.

 

Fal did not mind being attached to the XVI. They were excellent warriors, valued comrades, and good hosts. Horus has been more than welcome to the primarch-less legionnaires, acting as somewhat of a surrogate father. In nineteen years of being assigned to the Wolves, the XIX had fought in seventeen major campaigns, with the Compliance of Subha II being the latest. This compliance would not only bring another world into the Imperium, it would avenge those that perished on Tasskio.

 

The Thezsuum, that wretched xenos species, had evaded Imperial retribution fleets for years, making some Imperial strategists believe they were a nomadic race. That was until the discovery of Subha II. This planet, cold and seemingly inhospitable as it is, was home to a space-faring species: the Thezsuum.

 

The opening phase of the war saw the alien fleet destroyed, their orbital defences crippled and their void-habitats occupied. With the void secure, the planetary invasion began. It was during this second phase that the Imperium discovered something: the Thezsuum kept humans as slaves.

 

The war changed from conquest to liberation. Two weeks had passed since the invasion, and now only a single stronghold remained: their capital city. Nestled in a valley, flanked by seemingly impenetrable mountains and protected by interlocking dome shields, the city, and in turn the valley, was a fortress. Horus Lupercal besieged the stronghold and was slowly pushing down the valley into the city proper, but it was slow going. Final completion of the campaign was estimated to be six weeks away at current rate of advancement. Horus asked for a contingent of Imperial Fists nearby to assist in the siege, and they were on their way, but Lupercal was becoming impatient, even more so after the latest transmission from Him.

 

The Emperor was currently in the midst of a campaign and had asked for Horus to fight beside Him. It galled the First Found to have to delay joining his father for a minor campaign, but he could not just leave once battle had begun. He would see it finished.

 

To repay Horus for his generosity, and to end the campaign sooner, Fal had volunteered the XIX to use its skills at sabotage and infiltration to end the siege.

 

Climbing the mountains, which were nestled with anti-air guns that would shoot down any dropship that neared them, was difficult. Avoiding detection made the climb take longer, but after several hours, Fal and thirty handpicked XIX legionnaires now stood on the cusp of the mountainside. Similar units dotted across the mountains, each Space Marine hefting a bulky jet pack for manoeuvrability.

 

Thaes Balfur moved up beside him, now a sergeant.

 

“Shade Lord, we are ready.”

 

“Good. We embark in,” he checked his helmet’s chrono, “two minutes. Ready the men.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

Balfur motioned for the legionnaires to join their Shade Lord on the ledge. They looked down upon the alien city, its shields flickering. All was silent.

 

Fal saw his chrono count down: three… two… one.

 

Artillery thundered from the Imperial lines. Overhead, Army and XVI Legion gunships and bombers pummelled the Thezsuum lines. On the ground, hundreds of thousands of Army soldiers and tens of thousands of legionnaires marched forward, supported by tanks of varying models and armoured vehicles. Titans from the Legio Mortis advanced, bringing the wrath of the Machine Cult to the fray.

 

Fal opened a link to the XIX infiltration squads.

 

“Legionnaires of the XIX, secure your objectives, move swiftly and mercilessly. For the Emperor.”

 

Fal activated his jet, its thrusters melting the snow beneath, the others following suit.

 

“And brothers,” he added, “kill them all.”

 

Fal leaped from the ledge, knowing the rest would follow. The mountainside was only two metres away, black rock and white snow. It was... beautiful? Such concepts rarely passed through his thought process. His was a mind geared and honed for war. It was what he was good at it. It was what he enjoyed.

 

He fell towards the city, the wind buffeting him as he fell but his previous made calculations compensated for the aerial turbulence. As he fell towards the interlocking dome shields, he braced himself.

 

An oddity of the Thezsuum shield technology was that while it was highly effective at resisting high-explosive or energy based weaponry, it was far less so against slower moving objects such as thrown knifes or slow moving vehicles.

Or an Astartes with a jet pack.

 

Fal activated his reverse thrusters just above the shields, slowing him down considerably. As his boots touched the shield, they resisted… for a moment. Then he began to sink through as if in thick sludge. His armour’s machine-spirit issued warnings, red runes dotting his visor and notifications beeping incessantly, but Fal ignored them. It was expected after all.

 

Passing through them fully, his armour shut down due to the electro-magnetic surge that temporarily overloaded his suit’s shielding. He began to freefall to the city, some of the high spires becoming dangerously close. He was fifteen hundred metres from the ground floor and rapidly falling.

 

His armour’s machine spirit stirred from its blackout. Awakening, it began to reboot the suit, runes and algorithms scrolling past his feed as it did so.

 

One thousand metres.

 

No gunfire rose to meet them. The Thezsuum’s full attention was on the obvious assault in front of them. Such arrogance would be paid for in blood.

 

Five hundred metres.

 

The heavily modified Mark II battle-plate finished its diagnostics and Fal regained control. He immediately attempted to reverse thrust. His jet pack failed to ignite.

 

He did not panic. He was an Astartes and the Emperor declared that they shall know no fear.

 

Four hundred metres.

 

Several legionnaires activated their packs and began to fall in a controlled manner.

 

Three hundred metres.

 

The jet pack’s thruster fizzled for a moment but died.

 

Two hundred metres. Most of the other Astartes’ packs had reignited.

 

One hundred metres.

 

His machine-spirit’s attempts to reconnect with the pack finally bore fruit. The link was re-established. Immediately he activated his reverse thrusters and slowed down, but his momentum could not be stopped fully in the distance remaining.

 

Fal impacted the ground, hard, causing the stone pavement to fracture. He felt something in his knees break, but his body was already responding to it. Within seconds, he could move without issue, the pain having been side-lined.

 

Balfur landed next to him, looking at him to see if he was alright. Fal assured him with a nod.

 

“Move out,” Fal ordered.

 

The three squads spread out, one heading to the nearest shield generator, with another heading towards a known munitions depot, and the third led by Fal heading towards a communication tower.

 

Few locals, human or alien, were seen on the streets as curfew was in effect. Seeing the humans following the aliens’ commands, always with joy plastered on their face, sickened him. They may be human physically, but their minds were warped by lifelong servitude and whatever machinations the Thezsuum inflicted on their human cattle.

 

Infiltration squads from the other contingents voxed they were in position. Fal confirmed with them as his team neared the tower.

 

Only a block away, the tower was an impressive conglomeration of engineering. Shaped like a six-pointed star, with thick cable wiring hanging heavy in the air, the tower controlled and boosted communications for the Thezsuum for their city, with minor towers elsewhere bouncing the signal back and forth.

 

Guarding it was close to five hundred human slave-soldiers. Behind them, overseeing, were dozens of Thezsuum. The xenos were hunched over and still they towered over humans. If straightened out they would have been taller than even Astartes. Their skin was grey-white in colour, with splotches of green and purple, their eyes black as night. That last detail was similar to every legionnaire in the XIX. Whether a gift from their lost primarch or a genetic mutation, it mattered not. It was a benefit in night-time operations, among other things.

 

The xenos had elongated skulls, and instead of ears, they had auditory holes, three on each side. Their hands were more akin to claws and all were clothed in an odd combination of armour, glass, and what looked to be fur.

 

Filthy beasts.

 

“Squad Fal, execute.”

 

All of the legionnaires opened fire, cutting down human and xenos officers, judging by their insignia, and heavy weapon specialists. Bolter fire was supported by a compact rocket launcher, which destroyed a walker-tank that had just begun to stir its turrets to face the Imperials, and a las cannon beam tore through rank after rank of lightly armoured mortals. Their blood covered the ground and steam rose from their corpses.

 

Such was the fate of those too weak to defy their oppressors.

 

The humans were well-trained, that was much was clear by their rapid response, but they had never fought the Imperium’s Legiones Astartes up close, and they were reeling with conflicting orders as subalterns attempted to take command after their superiors had been shredded by bolts.

 

After the first clip of bolts was fired, the legionnaires charged, reloading as they did so. Ejecting the empty clip, replacing it with a fresh one, and triggering his chainsword was second nature to Fal. Once reloaded, he unleashed Mars-forged shells upon a dozen humans, each taking one shot, their innards exploding outwards. A Thezsuum he neared whipped it’s too-long head towards him, raising an oddly shaped sword to fight, only to be cut down by the chainsword as it churned through the alien’s neck muscles. The xenos were fast, but not transhuman fast. Bright orange ichor sprayed from the cut, some landing on Fal’s armour. The blood began to hiss at it was mildly acidic and scratched away at some of the paint of the sword and plate. Flicking to get the majority off, he entered deeper into the fray.

 

He danced a dance of flawless execution and trained death-dealing. Alien and mortal fell beneath the blades of the Emperor’s Angels of Death. Fal entered into the frenzy of war, his mind honed to a point’s edge of focus. Nearing the tower’s primary entrance, corpses of the enemy littering about, he fired three shots into the door and shouldered into it. The metal held for a second, but bent inwards, breaking off its hinges.

 

Inside, a squad of mortals and three Thezsuum raised their weapons but were gunned down by the legionnaires emerging from behind Fal. The enemy formation broke, several mortals running in fear until silenced forever.

 

“Set melta charges.”

 

Four XIX Astartes began setting the charges across the interior’s support columns. They moved upstairs, killing what few targets remained, and set more across cogitators, databanks and other archeotech that Fal could not easily identify. Once set, the Astartes departed the building, and Fal pushed the detonator. The tower’s interior became an inferno of superheated plasma, burning through the building, killing what few human and xenos that had avoided the quick insertion.

 

With the tower down, enemy communications would suffer greatly, their own shields impairing their strategy. That advantage did not last long as other objectives were met. Shield generator after shield generator, followed by munitions depots and motor pools, burned with Imperial retribution. As several of the domes weakened and cut out, dropships bearing the Aquila and the Lunar Wolf began a rapid descent. Some were shot down by AA fire, but more made it through. Fal could see several fighter-bombers eliminating the AA nests on the mountain sides and tops.

 

He moved to an open field nearby the tower and waited. Within a minute of arriving, eleven dropships had set down, unleashing their deadly cargo. The squads that emerged were not donned in the traditional white and black of the Luna Wolves, but the all black of the Justaerin, the Sixteenth Legion’s elite shock troops. At their head was an immense warrior, one who at a glance could be mistaken for the primarch if one were to subtract a topknot and marginally shorten Lupercal’s height.

 

First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon moved to beside Fal. The First Captain scanned the area, issuing orders to his squads. Abaddon looked at Fal and held out his arm. The Shade Lord clasped it in a warriors’ grip.

 

“Fine work, Arkhas, fine indeed.”

 

“Thank you, Ezekyle.”

 

“Lupercal is pleased with you. He will not forget this.” And with that Abaddon was off, the primarch’s favoured son intent on bleeding the enemy to the bone.

 

Balfur approached him. “Sir, orders?”

 

Fal checked his bolt pistol and chainsword, seeing that both remained in fighting condition. He looked at Balfur, their red helm lenses locked on one another before Fal turned to move, seeing that several more XIX squads had reconvened with him. Losses had been light, only two that he could see, but there was bound to be more. But their deaths were not in vain, they served a purpose: vengeance had been attained.

 

“We finish this.”

 

---


Kiavahr System
Onboard the battle-barge Ebon Blade
Sixty-eight years before the Dropsite Massacre

 

The vocal silence was deafening, the hangar bay echoing nothing but the hum of armour and quiet noises of servos. Thirty thousand legionnaires, clad in freshly painted black with white trim armour stood at uneasy attention. Thirty thousand pair of eyes were locked onto the primarch before them who stood atop a Land Raider. The primarch, a being akin to a demigod of old, was dark of hair and eye, skin pale as freshly fallen snow.

 

He was Corvus Corax, the Deliverer, Saviour of Deliverance, Liberator, the Ravenlord, a newly found primarch, and a battle-hardened warrior.

 

Shunner.

 

Fal stood in the front ranks, standing beside officers that had fought beside him for a century and a half. They looked to him, faces wrought with trepidation. He knew that he should do something, say something. He was the Shade Lord, Legion Master for over a century. What had recently passed must have been a mistake, a miscalculation on Corax’s part. Yes, that had to be it.

 

Fal moved forward to his father, but two legionnaires stopped him, their stance hostile. Fal stopped. He took off his helm slowly, attempting to control his anger. Looking at them with his flesh eyes, Fal grimaced.

 

Shadow Wardens, protectors of the primarch, dared to defy him! He was Arkhas Fal, Shade Lord! His name had been etched in Imperial chronicles more than a century before any of these pups had been nursed at their mothers’ teats. The atmosphere in the hangar became tense, hands itching to go to weapons but the lunacy of the want shamed all.

 

“Let him pass.”

 

The Wardens separated, but he did not leave their sight. Fal ignored them as he continued to his primarch. He went to one knee.

 

“Father, I-”

 

“Father?” interrupted Corax. “Hmm, perhaps by blood, but I did not choose you, nor train you, nor lead you into battle. Another had and you are more his soldiers than mine. I am your father by blood only. Those from Deliverance are my only true children.” By the primarch’s tone, Fal knew exactly who Corax was talking about.

 

Fal forced his gaze downwards, face set in anger and shame.

 

“Horus Lupercal guided us admirably for many decades. Fa-, Lord Corvus, please, you must rescind this order.”

 

“I must? You dare to question my methods, my designs for my Legion?”

 

“I-, no, but fa-, Lord Corvus, you cannot abandon us. We have been looking for you for over a century. To force us out, it would break us.”

 

“Look at me.”

 

Fal followed the order and looked at his father’s pallid face. Those eyes, black as deepest shadow, stared into Fal’s very being. They were piercing and unforgiving.

 

“You of the pre-discovery XIX have served my father admirably, and that I thank you. But I now command the Nineteenth Legion, to do as I see fit and to expand Imperial might across the stars. The way I deem best is for the post-discovery XIX to slowly grow into what I envision them to be, and for you, those that have awaited and searched for me, to head deep into unknown space. There, you shall conquer with bolt, sword and words. In the unknown, you will experience victory or death for the Imperium.”

 

The Shade Lord exhaled.

 

“Now, Legion Master, do you accept my decree?”

 

No! Defy him! Go to Horus! Decry the order! Resist!

 

There was a pregnant pause.

 

“I… I accept, my lord primarch.”

 

Corax stared at him for a moment, then nodded and made way to the waiting dropship, its pilots prepping for launch.

The primarch left the Ebon Blade and its escorts, heading towards the newly constructed Shadow of the Emperor and the fleet hovering around it protectively. Two fleets, both Raven Guard, but forever separate. Fal turned to look at his brothers, his Terran brothers. Many looked shocked, or shook their head in disbelief. One yelled and hit a container, denting the metal as it skidded across the floor.

 

They were not true Raven Guard legionnaires, not in Corax’s eyes. They were placeholders who had turned over the mantle of the XIX to its true inheritors. Fal and his Terran brothers were not Raven Guard, but outcasts.

 

Clenching his fists, he began to issue orders. The 376th Expeditionary Fleet had been ordered to the fringes of known space by a primarch, their primarch, and they would follow their primogenitor’s orders… for now.

 

---

 

Tarsean Rift, above Yvir
Thirty-three years before the Dropsite Massacre

 

“ETA?” Arkhas Fal barked at the servitor.

 

“Fifteen minutes until teleport range.”

 

Arkhas Fal, Shade Lord of the Outcast, grunted. “The fleet?”

 

Captain Thaes Balfur looked up from a cogitator monitor, “Engaging the Dark Eldar. Three xenos warships have been destroyed, another six are being boarded. The rest are responding to our arrival.”

 

“Send Sixth and Ninth Company to reinforce the orbitals, Thirteen and Twentieth to assist the World Eater battlegroup. They look to be nearly wiped out.”

 

“Yes, my lord.”

 

Detachments of the 376th Expeditionary Fleet broke off from the main body, heading towards their objectives, while the bulk hurled itself towards the centre of the xenos fleet, destroying the once elegant alien ships. Hulls were rend asunder, air hissed into the void, and lithe alien figures were sucked out, quickly freezing and drifting into the endlessness of space.

 

The Ebon Blade, flagship of the Outcast, unleashed its immense arsenal against the Dark Eldar raiding vessels, comparable to destroyers in size but grand cruisers in strength. Nonetheless, they fell beneath the guns of an Imperial battle-barge.

 

“Teleport?”

 

“We are in range, parameters acceptable.”

 

“You have command of the Blade, Thaes. I am joining the ground assault.”

 

“As you will, sir.”

 

Fal departed the bridge, command squad following him. Quickly making way to the teleport, he joined the Cataphractii-armoured Astartes already there. Fal was thankful to have them. Corax’s dislike of them ensured a majority of the Terminator armour designated for the Raven Guard made its way to the Outcast. One of the few benefits they experienced.

 

He donned his helmet, information and tactical vox-chatter forming a canvas, a canvas in which he would paint the finality of this war. He snorted softly at himself. Fighting beside the Emperor’s Children for six months had rubbed off on him.

 

The tech-priest configured her cogitator. She looked up, four glowing and whirring green eyes focusing on Fal.

 

“Ready,” she intoned, voice augmetic.

 

“Initiate.”

 

She followed his command. The signs followed as aetheric energy wormed its way across the teleport dais. His tongue began to itch, his teeth ached, and a pressure began in the base of his skull.

 

“Brothers,” he began.

 

“Three…” said the tech-priest.

 

“We reinforce the city’s centre, link up with Twelfth Legion remnants, and secure any Imperial citizens and military supplies. The Dark Eldar shall regret-”

 

“Two…”

 

“-invoking the wrath of the Old Nineteenth. No remorse, no mercy. Give them death.”

 

“One…”

 

They entered the shallows of the Immaterium. Just a split second, transporting thousands of kilometres in an instant, and then they were there, standing atop the dirt and rock of the Imperial colony Yvir. Corpses, human Imperials, lay scattered about. Two World Eaters lay dead beside a heavy bolter emplacement, seven Dark Eldar lying alongside them. Dark blood, empty shells, and limbs littered the ground.

 

The Terminators secured the area, Fal and his command squad moving forward.

 

“Where to, sir?” asked Sergeant Tysk, his equerry.

 

“To the governor’s palace. That is where the last Imperial transmissions came from. Move out.”

 

They ran, all fifty legionnaires. On the way through the hab-blocks and downtown districts they saw the aftermath of the xenos’ initial attack. Fal ignored the thousands dead. He had seen far worse many times over. This was nothing new, this was reality. The weak die and the strong reap the spoils. It was nothing more than stark galactic truths.

 

Two squads of xenos were eliminated for the loss of three Outcast.

 

Damn. Our losses are getting worse. Fighting without support from the rest of the Legion has reaped its toll on us out here on the fringes. We of the Old are dying off. An inevitable and likely purposeful effect of their banishment on Corax’s part.

 

Running up beside the planetary governor’s palace, dozens of alien corpses lay beside five World Eaters. There were nearly two hundred more still standing, their lithe forms clad in exotic armour and wielding deadly weapons. They turned to face the Raven Guard. Fal saw that the palace’s doors were closed, barricaded from the inside most like.

 

The Dark Eldar couldn’t get in. Good. Now we-

 

The palace’s doors burst outwards, disgorging nearly sixty white with blue trim armoured legionnaires. They were formed in a phalanx box formation, shields raised, chain weapons cutting down surprised xenos and bolters cutting others down. The World Eaters entered the centre of the war-torn courtyard, then dispersing in pairs of two to eliminate the enemy. Fal saw one World Eater, his helm sporting an officer’s crest and captain’s insignia, reaping his way through a demi-squad of Dark Eldar. The XII legionnaire saw him as well.

 

“Engage,” the Shade Lord said.

 

The Outcast Raven Guard entered the fray and within moments all of the Dark Eldar lay dead, another handful of both Legions also freshly deceased. Apothecaries from both Legions began to collect the gene-seed, the cracking of metals, cartilage and bone filling the air, while in the background weapons fire began to die down across the city.

 

Fal moved to the Twelfth Legion captain, who removed his helmet, revealing a shaved head, tanned skin, and piercing eyes. Fal mirrored the action and the two faced one another.

 

“Captain Daerik, Ninety-Seventh Company, Twelfth Legion.”

 

“Shade Lord Arkhas Fal, Outcast, Nineteenth Legion.”

 

Daerik nodded his head respectfully. “I thank you for coming to my assistance, Shade Lord. My company had recently completed a string of compliances throughout the Rift and came to Yvir for resupply. The Dark Eldar chose to attack us shortly after our arrival. I can only think they thought us weak, or they did not expect us to be here.”

 

“We heard your astropathic call for reinforcement and we rushed to aid. Casualties?”

 

“I’m checking now.” Daerik pulled out a data-slate and was getting into contact with his squad leaders. Fal did the same.

 

He lost thirty-four Astartes. Getting into contact with Balfur took a moment, but eventually the link was established.

 

“Thaes, report.”

 

“Enemy fleet is defeated, the remnants fled to a Mandeville point.”

 

“How many escaped?”

 

“None. An Imperial fleet had emerged and wiped them out.”

 

“Another fleet? Designation?”

 

"Legiones Astartes, 13th Expeditionary Fleet.”

 

“13th, that’s…”

 

“Primarch Angron’s fleet,” finished Daerik, he had tapped into the open link. “My father has come.”

 

---

It took several hours for the 13th Expeditionary Fleet to arrive over Yvir. Five dropships emerged from its flagship: the Conqueror. Daerik and Fal stood at the starport’s main landing pad, an honour guard of one squad from each Legion standing at attention on either side. The primarch’s Stormbird settled onto the platform.

 

“I must warn you, Arkhas. Do not call Angron ‘my lord.’ He despises such titles. Also, do not stare at his scar.”

 

Before Fal could respond, the Stormbird’s ramp descended and a son of the Emperor emerged. Angron was clad in his Artificer armour, dual chainaxes magnetically locked onto his back, throwing knives adorning his forearms, waist and legs. A simple, bland bolt pistol was holstered as was a combat blade. Behind the primarch marched the Devourers, the primarch’s bodyguard.

 

Fal began to kneel but was stopped by a gruff voice, used to command and unforgiving of weakness.

 

“Get up, little Raven,” growled Angron as he neared. Daerik tilted his head in respect and saluted.

 

Fal straightened.

 

“How fares my brother?” asked the primarch. The friendship between the Raven and the Gladiator were well known, even to Fal.

 

Fal clenched his jaw in anger but nothing escaped the notice of a demigod.

 

“Ah, so it’s true. Corvus discarded you. I love my brother, but he is foolish in this regard. I saw your fleet as I neared Yvir. Battle damage was extensive, supply ships few and far between. How much of the Outcast remain?”

 

“Barely fifteen thousand, less than half of what we once were.”

 

“Shame,” muttered Angron. “No matter,” he said. “I will offer this to you once. Fight beside me and enjoy the benefits of battling alongside a Legion once again.”

 

Fal’s thoughts raced. The benefits far outweighed the negatives: better supply, more support, a primarch for a patron… It would be ideal. “The Outcast would gladly join the Twelfth Legion.”

 

“Then it’s settled.” The primarchs pale golden eyes stared at Fal for a moment, judging, but he nodded in apparent satisfaction. “You will be satisfactory.”

 

---


Aboard the Conqueror
Thirty-one Years before the Dropsite Massacre

 

The clash of blades, the grunts of exertion and the heavy tang of sweat and blood filled the air. In the heart of the World Eaters’ flagship were several circular arenas, dubbed the fighting-pits by Angron’s legionnaires, a tradition carried before the discovery of the primarch but intensified under his rule. Here, honoured commander could fight lowly battle-brother with no repercussion. Here, pacts of camaraderie between brothers and cousins were made, several of whom were famous throughout the Imperium, notably Sigismund and Khârn. Other great warriors such as Ezekyle Abaddon, Eidolon, Corswain, Bjorn, Jago ‘Sevatar’ Sevatarion, and more had fought in the gladiator influenced fighting-pits.

 

After hours of combat, Shade Lord Arkhas Fal and Captain Daerik emerged from one, lathered in sweat, dirt, and drying blood. Their opponents, a sergeant and centurion from the XII’s Sixteenth Company, went elsewhere, sullen after their loss.

 

A servitor carrying heated towels neared and Fal grabbed two, tossing one to Daerik. The Terran-born legionnaire caught it and both wiped themselves down of the majority of the grime. Their weapons had been stored away to be cleaned by Legion serfs. Another serf began depositing fresh sand in the arena, soaking up the blood, and readying it for the next match.

 

The waiting four combatants entered the pit, their wrists tied via chains to each other and to their weapons. It was a brawl, but one of coordination and ruthless pursuit. Such training had its faults, as it was not uncommon for a legionnaire to die here, but it made the Eaters of Worlds as fierce as they were in close combat.

 

“Tell me,” he said to Daerik, voicing a thought that had nagged him for some time, “why chains? Your gene-sire had been a slave, then a liberator, and now a god of war. Why use chains to bind your weapons to you, or yourself to another legionnaire?”

 

Daerik looked up from drying himself off, his face deep in thought for a moment before he answered.

 

“In the city-states of Nuceria all slaves were chained, whether a pleasure girl or a pit-fighter. This mass and brutal slavery lasted centuries, if not longer, some speculate it began during the first years of Old Night. The slaves despaired and were treated no better than chattel.”

 

Daerik threw the soiled towel at the servitor, taking an offered pitcher of water to drink.

 

“That changed when Angron was brought to Desh’ea, already in chains and surrounded by a thousand high rider soldiers. All the slaves had heard the stories of how Angron had been found in a remote farmstead, living with two indebted farmers. When tax collector from Desh’ea came by to collect their coin, the farmers had none to spare for it had been a succession of poor harvests due to drought. The farmers were to be enslaved for twenty years and their property sold at auction, but Angron volunteered to enter slavery so as to pay off his foster parents’ debts. The Desh’ean collectors saw the physical supremacy of my primogenitor and agreed to the deal, hoping he wold bring them riches in the slave-pits. Subsequently, Angron was brought to the city-state and quickly entered the arenas. There Angron fought, and there he planned rebellions. All failed but one, the last one. The Great Rebellion of Desh’ea saw Angron annihilate the high rider families and establish a republic with him as its undisputed head. The years that followed saw Angron conquer the rest of Nuceria as a liberator and conqueror. Throughout that entire time, the primarch never fought without the chains around his wrists and weapons.

 

“To him, it resembled not hopelessness per se, but defiance. The chains of oppression had brought the slaves of Nuceria together, had forged a new government in blood, sweat and toil, and cemented that the only ones you can trust werethe weapons you tightly gripped and your brothers-in-arms. With Angron’s discovery many traditions were adopted. The chains were merely one.”

 

Daerik sipped the tepid water before setting the pitcher down.

 

“To us the chains that bound our wrists are a reminder to never be a slave to anyone, no matter who claims to be our supposed master. To us the chains are interlinking bonds of brotherhood that have kept us together throughout the Great Crusade. To us the chains represent strength between a legionnaire, his blade, and his brother beside him. To us the chains are true freedom, odd as that might sound.  Does this make sense to you?”

 

Fal pondered what his friend of two years had said, contemplating their meaning.

 

“Yes, it does. I see now, thank you.”

 

Daerik nodded, pleased. “Good.” The fighting in the pit ended, the defeated stalking off and the victors embracing in a warriors’ grip.

 

“Another round?” asked Daerik.

 

“Naturally,” Fal said, rising up for the next challenge.

 

---

 

Ullanor
Three years before the Dropsite Massacre

 

Victory. True victory, at last. The Imperium was triumphant over the Orks; the galaxy now lay open to the Imperium, ripe for the taking. Fal walked in front of Balfur and two guards, greeting comrades from several Legions. It had been a day since the Emperor departed after naming Horus Lupercal Warmaster of the Imperium and the mood was celebratory. Fal had stood in the ranks assembled before the Emperor and His Sons, his command ensuring him to be within visual and ocular range.

 

While Sanguinius, Fulgrim, Lorgar, Mortarion, Dorn, Guilliman and others went to congratulate the Sixteenth Primarch, Fal had saw a momentary flicker of annoyance and anger flash across Angron’s face. He only saw it due to his close proximity to the Twelfth Primarch these last three decades and familiarity with him.

 

He desired it. He deserved it, more so than that abandoner Horus.

 

The only thing that pleased Fal that day had been the knowledge that Corax would be livid when he discovered Horus now would be his military commander. Angron and Corax might be the closest of brothers, but no matter how hard the Gladiator tried to reconcile the Raven Primarch with his Outcast sons, the Ravenlord was content to ignore them. No matter, he thought. The Emperor left them in the hands of His Favoured Son, Horus abandoned them, Corax shunned them, but Angron welcomed them.

 

Scores of campaigns had been fought during those three decades of companionship, and though many Outcast had died, none had died as cannon fodder or distraction. They fought and died side-by-side their World Eater cousins.

Fal walked through massive camp where detachments of nearly every Legion awaited their turn to return to their ship and depart the planet. The orbital traffic was so thick that it was estimated it would be another week before Fal and the eleven thousand Outcast, all those that now remained, would be lifted to their fleet to return to the Crusade’s frontlines alongside the XII.

 

He was in a general good mood today, though, unlike yesterday. Yesterday he had felt anger at the Emperor for choosing Horus over Angron, but today he was pleased. Brotherhoods and oaths were renewed, and the camp was awash with celebration and merriment.

 

Fal kept his opinions of the previous day to himself as not all in the Outcast saw the Emperor and Horus for what they really were. Balfur might hate Corax, but his opinion of the Master of Mankind and the First Found were too positive for Fal’s taste. Despite this, both chatted with one another enjoyably as they searched for Captain Daerik.

 

They found the XII legionnaire, who sat beside a squad of Space Wolves, drinking mjod and exchanging stories. Two humans adorned in the furs and leathers of Fenris stood nearby, their attention focused on the stories being told. Daerik emptied a mug of the alcoholic brew, smacking his lips in appreciation.

 

“Not bad,” he said, causing the Space Wolves to roar and howl with laughter, clapping the World Eater on the back.

Fal moved to beside Daerik, laying a hand on shoulder. “Careful, Daerik, I hear these Fenrisians spike their drinks with wolf piss,” he jested.

 

A Sixth Legion sergeant knocked his head back in laughter, slamming his hand onto the thick wooden table. “Hjolda! The piss is merely flavouring.” All assembled chuckled at that.

 

“What do we have here?” came a voice from behind. Fal turned and his laughter quickly died off.

 

Three Astartes in black armour with white trim, a white raven on their shoulder pads, looked at the legionnaires from the VI, the XII, and those who wore the same colours as them.

 

The one in the centre was large, even for an Astartes, his neck and arms bulging with muscle.

 

“And who might you be, brother?” Balfur asked, voice clipped and neutral.

 

“Brother? Ha! We share nothing but livery and blood. A mistake on both ends in my opinion.”

 

Balfur stiffened at that but stopped as Fal blocked his way with a hand.

 

“My captain asked you a question, legionnaire.” Fal could see no rank on the Astartes before him.

 

“Kaedes Nex, Moritat-Prime.”

 

Fal felt himself go still. The Moritats of the XIX were known as butchers, Nex being by far the worst. A convicted criminal on Deliverance before being chosen for the Legiones Astartes by Corax himself. Nex saw his expression and sneered.

 

“Think I’m a murderer do you? Well, it is common knowledge of the ‘incidents’ that took place when you fought beside Horus. Yes, yes, we know all about that. You were his grey-coloured butchers then. The Sixteenth Legion was too ‘honourable’ to do some of the necessary handiwork on several compliant worlds so they had you do it. Millions killed, and the stain of all that cling to your hands and not him. Now he is Warmaster, and you a whipped dog hunting for a master, desperate to be petted on the head.”

 

Fal did not realize he had moved until Balfur and Daerik restrained him, holding his arms so they could not strike at the smug-looking Nex. The Space Wolves rose, bringing their empty iron encased mugs to use as a possible weapon. Several Astartes had combat blades and pistols, hands laying atop them in threat.

 

“I will not hear Warmaster Horus be denigrated in my presence nor that of my oath-brothers!” the Space Wolf sergeant loudly stated.

 

Fal saw Balfur nod fervently at that. He did not care what others thought of Horus, but he did care about the reputation of his Outcast. How dare Nex, a true murderer, condemn Fal when he had been following the dictates of the Crusade to the letter in removing rebellious non-compliant populations to ensure Imperial law and order reigned.

 

The three sons of Corax sensed the hostile attitude of those nearby.

 

“Let’s go. These false Ravens hold no interest of mine.” Nex and his two compatriots left, joining the ever moving crowd, disappearing after several steps into that tide.

 

Fal exhaled heavily, clenching and unclenching his fingers.

 

“Come, Arkhas, ignore them.”

 

“I will. I will ignore them because we are not part of them. We are something different, something more pure than the Raven Guard.” He spat on the ground the Raven Guard had so recently left. Turning, he went to re-join the festivities, but thoughts plagued his mind.

 

We do not need them. We do not need them. We do NOT!

 

---

 

Aboard the Conqueror
Present day

 

Fal looked at the chain then back to Angron.

 

“Slavery is being held by the chain, subservient to it, controlled by an outsider. Freedom is recognising the chain is a bond between you, your weapon and your brothers. Slavery is death, freedom is loyalty. Slavery is the choice being made by others and forced to follow it; freedom is you making the choice and abiding by your word.”

 

Angron nodded once, moving to stand in front of Fal.

 

“You know what is coming, yes?”

 

Fal answered without hesitation. “Yes.”

 

“And your choice?”

 

Fal thought of Balfur, Abaddon, and Daerik. All were known loyalists who would need to be taken care of. They were friends, but not someone who he would follow unto death. Angron was that individual, earning it through blood spilled together and bonds forged of metal and loyalty.

 

“I follow you, Angron the Red Angel, wherever that takes me. I will defy the Emperor if that is what you wish.”

 

Angron stared at him then exhaled. “It is.” Angron motioned with the chain. “Extend your right hand.”

 

Fal did so, watching as Angron wrapped his hand in an intricate pattern with the chain, wrapping around the primarch’s own right hand as well. A dagger was brought out, resting in the Gladiator’s free hand.

 

“Wronged by others, denied what is truly ours, and lied to as a master would to a slave, we rebel to gain our freedom.” Fal repeated the words.

 

“You are no longer Outcast, as you are no longer Raven Guard. You are legionnaires loyal to me and to me alone. You will be known henceforth as the Chainsworn.”

 

“I am the first of the Chainsworn, the first link that binds us to you,” Fal said.

 

“Then it is done. Shade Lord of the Chainsworn, purge the Outcast.”

 

“As you will it, Crimson One.”

 

Angron shrugged off the chain, fastening it about Fal’s arm, placing the dagger in his hand. Fal departed the chamber without looking back. The Devourers were nowhere to be seen but he knew they were watching him. This would be the test that proved his loyalties.

 

Arriving to the chamber he departed not too long ago, he saw Balfur still observing Gasnea Prime. The Outcast captain turned, frowning at the chain. Fal hid the blade from view.

 

“What is that for?” Balfur asked to the approaching Shade Lord, gesturing at the chain.

 

Fal stood in front of Balfur, blade still hidden. “A symbol of unbreakable brotherhood.”

 

Before Balfur could respond, Fal twisted the knife for the blade to face outwards and thrust it under the chin of his dear friend. Balfur gazed upon him, shocked, the dagger having pierced flesh and bone, entering into the brain. Blood flooded from Balfur’s mouth and he tried to speak, but was already dying, his transhuman physiology unable to heal this mortal wound.

 

Fal should have said something as his friend died by his hand, but he did not. He would not legitimise his decision to a dying brother, nor ask for forgiveness. He watched as Balfur sunk to his knees, arms weakly pawing at Fal’s chest until the Outcast captain slumped to the ground, blood continuing to spill from the wound and mouth.

 

A moment passed, Fal watching the still figure of Thaes Balfur. The first of the Chiansworn put on his helm, selected a secondary vox channel of the Outcast. Only those he deemed loyal to Angron and himself more so than the Emperor, Horus and Corax would hear what he was about to say.

 

“No longer Outcast, but Chainsworn. Falling Raven, execute.”

 

He turned off the vox, not wishing to hear what was about to happen across the Raven Guard ships that made up the 376th Expeditionary Fleet. Operation Falling Raven was the purge of loyalists from their ranks, estimated to be several hundred. Even now, battle-brothers would be executed throughout the fleet, either in groups or isolated and finished off silently. It was brutal, bloody work, but it was necessary.

 

Fal gripped the chain covering his right hand.

 

It was necessary.


War Commander of Chaos






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