I finally got a day off!
Right, so here we go.
The Hive cities of Brija were never truly silent. This close to the dawn, however, the only sounds to be heard were the hum of turbines, the occasional distant clank of subterraenean gears, and the drone of air intakes above some of the larger factorums.
Along the near-silent streets, a solitary figure moved, his footsteps muffled by rough linen overshoes. As he passed beneath a pool of light, a theoretical watcher would have seen a middle-aged man, slightly portly, wearing a shabby-looking brown suit with an old, coarsely-woven cloak of murky grey over the top.
The man kept largely to the side streets, even at this hour, pausing occasionally as though checking for something, his hand moving to his ear for a few moments before moving off.
Anyone close enough - and they would have had to be very close - would have heard a woman's voice seemingly coming from the man's hand during these moments.
"-eed down the street safely. The nearest Arbites patrol is over a minute away. Look for the-"
"I know what to look for," the man murmured back. "Calm yourself, Anirva. I will be with you soon."
"Hurry, Danigar. The others are growing impatient." The voice paused for a moment before adding; "And I need you. I can't do this alone."
"See you soon." Danigar muttered, lowering his hand. In the alleyway across the way, he could see a cat, watching him. Paranoia made him imagine Inquisitors stepping out of the shadows, or Space Marines lurking on the roofs.
Danigar shook himself and made his way around the corner at the edge of the street. An intersection lay ahead of him, deserted. Picking up his pace, Danigar traversed the old, worn metal floor that constituted the road and approached a low, dark doorway. Surveying the door for a moment, Danigar spoke aloud, as though to himself.
"We rise, for the blind," Danigar intoned.
"And what do we bring them?" A voice voxed back at him, quietly. Danigar could, with some study, just about see the lens of a camera nestled in the rough timber of the building above him, watching him intently.
"We bring light, that they might see again." Danigar replied, stonily.
There was a clank of gears and the sound of chains unwinding, then a thud of metal on metal that seemed unnaturally loud in the quiet street.
Then, after what felt like a thousand years, the door clicked open, almost breezily. Danigar pushed it aside and stepped into a dull metal anteroom.
Facing him were two of the Nightmares - elite soldiers, their facemasks carved to look like fierce demons of ancient lore, all jutting fangs and wild, staring eyes. They carried hotshot lasguns rife with customisation - high-power, variable-zoom scopes, underbarrel shotguns and dual-linked mag-batteries to absorb recoil and convert the energy to more ammunition.
"Lord Grey," one of the men said, neutrally, as Danigar relinquished his cape and handed over the wickedly curved knife from his boot. After a moment, he held up his right hand while one of the Nightmares scanned it with a complicated device.
"The council is expecting me," Danigar said, wearily, as the device gave the familiar ping that confirmed his identity. In truth, Danigar doubted anyone else on this backwater even had a cybernetic hand with an inbuilt voxcaster, let alone the gumption or skill to impersonate him. "Take me to them with all haste."
"Of course, Lord."
After a short journey through a bland, sterile-white hallway, Danigar was admitted to the third chamber on the left. As he entered, he heard numerous voices raised in argument.
"-ertheless, Inquisitor Quaymin is a wily one, and-"
"No doubt Scarlight is responsible for the act-"
"-ther forces at play, aside from the Arbites-"
Glancing across the central table, Danigar saw the other sixteen leaders of Penumbra - each of them bearing the title of Lord Grey, each of them overseeing and championing the cause of Penumbra in different segments of the Liber Cluster. He caught the eye of Anvira, the woman who had called this emergency meeting. She gave him a brief, welcoming smile, then stood to better address the council. As she stood, two of her attendants dimmed the lights, and the conversation drained away. Danigar took his seat, opposite Anvira, who looked around the room somewhat nervously.
"Thank you all for attending me, my Lords," she said, one hand on her heart. "I know you are all very busy, but I have discovered a matter that cannot wait any further."
"This had better be good," the man on Danigar's left grunted. "I have revolutions on no fewer than six worlds waiting for my word to launch."
"I have an entire regiment's worth of followers on Pocko's World, looking to expand our cause." The woman next to Anvira sighed, dismissively. "We all have our enterprises. Let Anvira talk."
Anvira nodded gratefully. "I've discovered a weakness we can exploit. An opportunity to further Penumbra's goals and break the Imperium's grip on our beloved Liber Cluster. Not just on a single world, or even a dozen, but on the entire Cluster, all at once."
Anvira looked from one Lord Grey to the next as she spoke. As she locked eyes with Danigar, he saw something unusual there. Nervousness? Something more than that, he thought. Fear? Perhaps. But Anvira had once personally killed an Inquisitor in a shootout aboard a hijacked freighter - what could frighten her so?
"Give us the details," one of the others growled, "and stop grandstanding. What do you need us for?"
"This opprtunity only needed one thing from each of you: your presence here." Anvira's voice shook slightly as she spoke, and she avoided looking at Danigar. He suddenly felt the hairs on his neck stand on end, and knew something was amiss.
"What is that supposed to mean?" The man next to Danigar growled. Anvira opened her mouth to speak, but another voice rang out.
"It means that our time has come." The voice, deep, sonorous, and loud, came from behind Anvira, and a figure loomed large as it stepped out from the shadows and stood beside her.
By the Throne, Danigar thought, taking in the unnatural size and build of the man, that's a Space Marine. The man was old, scarred, and clad only in a light robe of dusty black, but his eyes were alight with determination and a cruel cunning. Danigar shuddered involuntarily.
"What is this?" One woman, sat on the far right of the table, asked, weakly.
"Judgement," The Space Marine replied, simply, raising one fist. A sudden, deafening burst of noise rang out, the doors flew apart behind Danigar, and three more Space Marines entered, the bodies of the slain Nightmare guards barely visible on the floor behind them. Their armour, polished to a dull sheen, reflected ominously in the candlelight. In an instant, the three marines opened fire with their bolters, the sudden sound deafening in the room as the bolters thundered with fury.
Danigar barely had time to register the council was under attack before the attack was over. Of the seventeen who had called themselves Lord Grey, only six remained, himself and Anvira included.
"The opportunity you all now have is the opportunity to serve me." The Space Marine in the robes said, conversationally. "No more is there a Lord Grey." The survivors looked at each other fearfully as the Space Marine continued. "I am Chapter Master Greybourne, of the Sons of Calderon, and those of you who survive only do so through the grace of your colleague," Greybourne gestured towards Anvira, whose expression was equal parts exultant and crowing. "Penumbra now answers to me. Your guards are dead, your lieutenants either sworn to my new rule or executed. I will have vengeance against the Imperium that betrayed my brothers and I, and you have the chance to stand with me - or die acting against me. Choose as you will."
Silence reigned in the chamber for a moment. The Sons of Calderon - Penumbra had clashed with them in the past. They were supposed to be dead, killed in the Sereiki War, according to the tales. But here they were, clad in teal and ash-grey, radiating iron-hard determination and cold fury. None of the council needed to be told what would happen to any who chose not to follow Greybourne; the destroyed corpses of the once-Lords Anvira had marked for death were hardly an ambiguous indicator.
Danigar was the first to speak, his voice hoarse.
"Hail, Lord Greybourne."
The other survivors repeated Danigar's call, until it became a chant, a fervent and desperate plea for life that slowly transitioned into a frantic zeal. Whatever was to come next, the might of these Space Marines combined with the wiles and resources of Penumbra could effect serious change within the Liber Cluster.
Danigar looked to Anvira, whose expression was exultant, though her eyes betrayed the fear buried within. Greybourne gave a cold smile that was, perhaps, the most terrifying thing Danigar had ever seen.
"Good. You will all answer to my new Right Hand," Greybourne gestured towards Anvira, who looked proudly at them. "I expect full reports from each of you on all current Penumbra activities, to be given to me within ten days. Anvira will contact you when it is time for us to strike."
Anvira looked She'd essentially signed Penumbra over to a vengeful ghost. Who knew what mad fury dwelt in the mind of this Lord Greybourne? What have you done, Anvira? Danigar thought to himself. What have you unleashed?
Andranik, Chapter Master of the All-Seers and clad only in robes, pored over the text, frowning. Bound in ornate leather, marked by an eclipsed sun and set upon a simple pedestal in the center of the room, it was a mighty, thick tome.
“As you can see, it has all been invalidated.” Librarian Ebiresh was slowly walking around the edge of the circular room, his power armor whirring and clicking.
“How could this be? We were close to the Penumbra, to having their complete future bound within this tome. What could have changed?” Andranik was flipping through pages with increasing speed, trying to find that one small detail that had so thoroughly overwritten the future.
“We cannot see the moment clearly, but we have reason to believe that they are eliminated.”
Andranik looked up sharply at this, pausing in his scouring of the text.
“You don’t mean . . . There were still forty-three that we had narrowed it down to. Do you mean that all of them have been taken out? Is this an internal power struggle?”
Ebiresh sighed and slowly shook his head.
“It is still unclear. There are only ten of those whose futures end at the time of the event, but which one was he, we still don’t know.”
“Do we at least know who the replacement was?”
Ebiresh was silent for a moment. He turned to the pedestal and flipped the pages to a specific one. Andranik’s twin hearts began to thunder in his chest as he stared at the word repeated upon the sheet.
“How long until the event?“
“It has already happened.”
Okay, so spill the beans time.
So, I've had Sons of Calderon on the back burner for a while. And I mean a while. Ace is one of the people I've messaged, but not the only one. I was deliberately keeping the connections quiet, while only bringing in those whose toes I didn't want to step on (and only that far and no further).
Ace is the guy who created the Penumbra, and I wanted to be sure that I didn't do anything that completely ruined his future plans. Fortunately, he was pretty open about my ideas, as were many of the others I spoke to. Unfortunately, all those messages are gone. I had to delete for space, and I did not save everything. I will spoil what I did save or remember
So here's the thing. This is what I was thinking would be the Liber Cluster's version of the 13th Black Crusade, well before the time-jump made some changes. And hopefully this is easy to read, because I was just out drinking and celebrating.
The Sons of Calderon did survive. Not all of them. In fact very few of them. Less than a company, but including officers and the Chapter Master himself. The Sereiki Lions captured them in the interest of using them as hostages, to give them the time they needed to make an escape. And they did make that attempt. The Lords Inviolate were the ones contacted, and to them were the demands given.
The commanders of the Lords Inviolate executed everyone else involved, lest the information break free from their small council. No answer was given to the Lions. Assault on their extensively reformatted capital ship commenced immediately. Because the Lords Inviolate are one thing and one thing only: practical. The sacrifice of the few remaining Sons of Calderon was an easy one, and the suppression of knowledge was simply due to the maintenance of morale.
No Sons of Calderon were found following that battle, but they had certainly been slain. If not there, then elsewhere. Let the Cluster remember them for their valiant efforts, not for the ignoble end they must have met.
But they were not slain. They were taken, with the others the Lions were able to save. Out in the Void, they remained in captivity. One truth they knew, that their brothers had abandoned them. Now of course the Lions did everything they could to sway them to their own ends. Torture, psychological manipulations, drug-induced trances. The Sons resisted it all, though not without consequence. Now, the Lions did eventually turn to the Warp. Not to its denizens or its gods, nor the deluded that had similarly sworn themselves to it. But beyond all that, there was still power there. Power to be attained, if it can be perhaps cleansed of the corruption they feared.
It was one such experimentation that the remaining Sons, led by Chapter Master Greybourne, made their escape, and their mistake. The devastation caused by the backlash from the experiment's destructive failure cost the Lions dearly, almost as bad as the Imperium had cost them all those centuries previously. In the aftermath, the Sons were gone.
What happened to them? Where did they go? How long were they gone? Not going to say. The answer will never satisfy. But they didn't stay gone. They came back. And they did come back changed, but most importantly they were free. Free of the Lions, who wanted nothing from them but Sons' strength from their own. Free from the Imperium, for whom they had bled and in return been abandoned. The Imperium had by that point consumed the whole of the Cluster, but as ever the galactic map was a lie. Thousands upon thousands of systems lie, unknown and unheard of, but not all of them devoid of human life.
The Sons came to dominate such a world, and painstakingly built it up from the lesser state it found itself in. Advancing the low tech of a backwater world to advanced space travel took time, but sped greatly when stolen Imperial tech began to funnel in. The Sons themselves did not grow in this time, for it did not yet have the capability of reproducing their own kind. But neither did their numbers decrease beyond the rare loss in battle. Something had changed in them, and the passage of years did not quite affect them as it should have. Advancing a civilization takes work and time inconceivable to all but the Emperor himself, but the Sons will come to understand over the next few thousand years.
The Sons will continue to work from the shadows, refusing to make their presence known. But their power will grow incredibly once they're back on the stellar stage. They will regain the means to recreate more of their own, and yet the Sons themselves will never increase in number. No new Sons, only their progeny. The Iron Kings, the War Lions, the Nighthawks, and the Sons quietly guiding them. Operating in the shadows, striking only where opportunity grants greatest advantage, disappearing long before retribution can gather.
Worlds will come under their control, but only ever those that existed on the barest fringes of Imperial space or beyond. No overt attempts against the Imperial grip were made, not yet. Not until everything was right, not until the Sons held every advantage. But they would nonetheless continue to amass power and influence, particularly among those disaffected and abused by the Imperium. Such as the Blackjaw Kindred, the Penumbra, the Fallen.
The Fallen had been a part of the Sons since the beginning. It was one of their own that had planted the idea into the Sereiki Lions, who gave the Sons the opportunity if they would but take them as well. Lord Greybourne made it clear long ago that the Sons owed no debt, and that the Fallen would either subordinate themselves or fend for themselves. The Fallen would begrudgingly accept.
The Blackjaw Kindred were an opportunity too good for the Sons to pass up, and represent their most overt efforts since their return to the Cluster. News reached them of the Kindred's terrorist actions, and the building retributive forces. The Sons reached the Kindred first, offering them an alternative to a defiant last stand. The retribution fleet exit the Warp to find an abandoned world.
The Penumbra took more time. The Inquisition and other forces had been on the hunt for an age and more, but their clumsier efforts failed to penetrate near as far as the Sons' own, more subtle efforts. They found the truth of the Penumbra's leadership, that there was not "Lord Grey" but a council of exceptionally skilled and talented operatives that regularly assumed the mantle as they saw fit, all to further their monomaniacal goal: the liberation of the Cluster. But more importantly, they found one among their number whose ambitions exceeded that of her peers.
When the council met, once more in the depths of some crumbling hive, they did not hear as their lookouts were silenced. They did not see as their guards crumpled at their posts. They did not know that bolters were trained upon them from the impenetrable dark. They only heard the echoing footsteps. They only saw Greybourne enter the pallid pool of light. They only knew what he told them then, that he had claimed their resources for his Sons. That it was too late to fight, for it had already been done.
Bolters roared, men and women dropped. Greybourne and his ally still stood, proud. Cowering in fear, fallen to their knees in the blood and foul, were those she had named as worthy of mercy. In the coming years, many more of them would meet their end for stubborn defiance, but the damage was done. The Penumbra remained, but it answered now to the Lord Greybourne. The Sons' political strength grew tenfold over the course of a single night, due to the coordinated strike across dozens of worlds, the culmination of decades of planning.
The goal however, will remain the same. The Sons had conquered the Cluster once before, in the name of an uncaring lord. They will conquer it again, for themselves.
Now, here's where I begin to deviate. See, my original plan was to have the Sons plan a strike against a gene-store world. A planet that must certainly exist, for the Tithe is absolute and yet the extreme distance of the Cluster must certainly demand a waystation of some kind. A repository containing the Tithes of a dozen or more Chapters, awaiting testing and eventual transportation to Mars. I planned a piece, from the perspective of a Lord Inviolate who is told from this world's lord that enough gene-seed was stolen for its own Founding.
I won't be doing that anymore, because the newer lore provides a far more opportune target: the primaris gene-strain. Fleets will make the trip, taking news of Guilliman's revival and his Indomitus Crusade to this furthest corner of the Imperium. And on these ships will be all the gene-seed the Liberites need to return to full-strength, and more still for the formation of Primaris Chapters of the Ultima Founding. Such an opportunity the Sons will not pass up, as I have already detailed in the Cluster's original thread.
Of course, I could always combine. See, what I posted was but one act of theft, which happened to include the gene-seed intended for the Sons of Calderon to be reborn. But the loss of one fleet is merely a setback. To lose fleet after fleet, due to the intelligence of their Penumbral assets, is a greater loss. To have the heavily modified and guarded world receiving the gene-seed come under attack, to have that which was not taken damaged and and a portion rendered useless, is a crippling blow that could take centuries to recover from.
Now, these are the ideas as I had in my head, waiting to bring to light. Quite a few people were messaged about this, but only because I was going to be incorporating something of theirs. Only Olis and Ace knew that the Sons were to be involved.
So there we go. Bombshell dropped, I think.
Give me a couple of hours, brothers, and I'll get the Timeline Post sorted too.