The aide hurried through the vast garden. He carried with him news, news that would change the fate of their world and their sister worlds. A fleet had been detected entering the system. A fleet composed of ships of vast power and size. A fleet heading steadily advancing toward their defense network. The aide climbed up a small hill, cursing the Prime Minister for his insistence on detaching himself from the world at such an inopportune time. During these times of meditation, the Prime Minister would turn off all of his portable communication devices, and could only be reached via physical messenger. At the top of the hill, the aide paused as he scanned the garden for his task. A single glance was all it took. No one could mistake the Prime Minister for anyone else. After all, not one man or woman could hope to reach the Prime Minister’s height.
The giant was tending to his portion of the garden, several bushes of flowers was his focus for this month. It was strange to see such a famous and powerful man on his knees in the dirt, idly humming as he worked with his gardening tools. The aide sprinted down the hill and closed the distanced between them in a few seconds. Before he could open his mouth, the Prime Minister without turning to look at him lifted one finger. “Catch your breath, Gregory. I already know.”
Gregory resisted the urge to touch the holy symbol around his neck. He was one of many who believed the Prime Minister was blessed by the gods. The Prime Minister’s mysterious foresight, which had led him to becoming the de facto ruler of the entire system, was the largest piece of evidence of the blessing. Gregory took a few deep gulps of air before he opened his mouth to speak again.
The warning finger wagged. The Prime Minister glanced at him with a mischievous smile before he shook his head. He began to pack away his tools. “Relax Gregory. There’s no need to be alarmed. Change is coming, but ultimately, I think it’ll be for the best. Please inform Admiral Zhon to stand down and to welcome our guests.” With a sigh, Gottfri climbed to his feet and stared at the sky. “My father has come for me.”
Seated on his command throne, Irvin Ruel impassively listened as the reports filed in. One last ship had been claimed by the Warp during translation into the target system. Compared to the total fleet's size, it was a minute payment for entry. For the price of one ship, two legions had successfully entered the system. Not just any two either. Out of the corner of his eye, Irvin could see one of the crewman's display showing ships belonging to the Fifth and the First Legions. The entire Fifth Legion was here. While only representing half of their strength, the First Legion contained some of the most powerful and famous ships of the Great Crusade, including the Thunderchild. It was another hint for the reason they had been brought here. Of the twenty legions, only one so far had been reunited with their lost primarch. Somewhere on the Thunderchild was the Primarch Icarion. And, if the whispered rumors roaming the hallways were true, then a second had been found. By far, the biggest supporting evidence was the one ship dwarfing even the flagship of Icarion. The Bucephelus, the personal flagship of the Emperor.
Thus, when the fleet had first been forged and brought together under the personal command of the Emperor, the rumors had started. The second primarch had been found and it was time to bring him back into the Imperium's fold. Irvin had done his best to contain the rumors. While it was certainly a possibility their father had been found, he saw no reason to raise the legion's hopes without some kind of proof. The Emperor himself had never claimed to have found their primarch and when asked, didn't confirm He had found him. If there was no primarch to be found, it could hurt morale after inflating false hope.
Yet, as scans revealed the local fleet's size and strength, Irvin couldn't keep the rumors out of his own head. The local fleet was a mere fraction of theirs, and their largest warship was half the size of the Thunderchild. Unless there was another purpose to this campaign, it was a waste to have so much of the Legiones Astartes concentrated here. "How quickly is the local fleet responding?"
Fleetmaster Themos answered as he studied the visual feeds, "In slow order. The fleet is dividing into three groups with escorts forming a screen. If I had to guess, my lord, I don't think they've ever prepared to combat a fleet of our size." The Fleetmaster had been recently promoted following his excellent performance in the Selecuid campaign. The man was void-born and marked by it by his unusual height. He was merely a head shorter than a space marine, but his thin frame made him appear almost two-dimensional when standing next to a marine.
Irvin frowned as he judged his possible adversaries. "Is our fleet in position?"
"Yes, my lord.The Lightning Bearers have already formed their spearhead and are beginning their advance." The Fleetmaster glanced at him with his iron-colored eyes. "I fear we may not play much of a role after the Bearers finish their first strike if they don't accept compliance soon."
Before Irvin could reply, communications officer Daylen announced, "My lords, we are receiving a general message from the local fleet commander."
"Let's hear it," Themos commanded.
Throughout the bridge, a voice said, "This is High Admiral Zhon-Vrook Carde of the Delian Federation. We ask you to identify yourselves, and to halt any offensive maneuvers. We are prepared to stand down and are willing to negotiate as necessary."
One of the junior bridge officers snorted. "Negotiate? Someone can't count."
No one had a chance to say anything as the Emperor himself answered, his voice echoing throughout the entire Imperial fleet. "I am the Emperor, and have no desire to engage in hostilities. My only wish is to arrange for a meeting between myself and your head of state at the earliest convenience."
Gregory waited impatiently as he relayed the avalanche of reports coming to him through his small communicator currently wrapped around his ear. The balding aide was under the distinct impression he was being ignored as the Prime Minister occasionally nodded, while he put the finishing touches on his uniform. Gregory glanced around the small ready room as his mouth instinctively spoke. Small was a relative word for this room and the rest of the mansion that was the personal home of Salim's Prime Minister. The ceiling, the walls, even the furniture were twice the size of their normal cousins on the rest of the planet. It had to be, for the Prime Minister was a giant, though he made sure there was plenty of normal-sized furniture to host the many leaders and guests he often entertained. Unfortunately, this room made no such accommodations for the rest of the humanity as this was Gottfri's personal ready room. A single large desk and chair were the only furniture, while most of the walls were decorated with weapons, pictures, and other keepsakes that supposedly enhanced the Prime Minister's creative desires on the days where he simply wanted to tinker.
Gregory took a moment to ignore his communicator as he asked his own question. "Sir, is it wise to choose your military uniform for this...event? You said there was nothing to fear."
"We don't," Gottfri reassured him as he finished pinning the last of his military awards, which covered both sides of his suit jacket with ribbons, seven-pointed stars, and medals. "But, until the unknown is cleared away, the people will fear this strange fleet coming towards us. They will want to know that they will be protected and what better way to show them then by physically reminding them that I am their Commander-in-Chief." The giant turned to the trusted aide. "Has the Senate convened?"
"Most of them, sir. Senators Myron and Senator Xiu haven't arrived, but their aides say they are only momentarily delayed."
"Good. Have my car waiting for me outside. I'll be leaving in a few minutes myself."
"Yes, Prime Minister," Gregory replied before hurrying out.
Alone and free of distractions, Gottfri turned his head toward the ceiling. With ease, his mind reached out, and he left his ready room behind as he awareness flew through the atmosphere. As ordered, Zhon's fleet had stand down and was holding orbit above the planet. The thousands of human minds in the fleet were colored with fear, anxiety, surprise, and hope. With a thought, Gottfri passed through the fleet to study the far more interesting arrivals. Before him another sea of humanity slowly moved towards them. No. Not just humans. While there was humanity numbering in the tens of thousands stretched out before him, some of them were not quite human anymore. Thousands of minds were subtly different in a way that took Gottfri a few seconds to miss out. No fear. No hint of it. Fascinating.
And two minds stood out like stars in the enormous cloud of human thoughts and emotions. Well, a star and a supernova. Gottfri thought about investigating the smaller star, but he recognized the mind of his Father. After several decades of not knowing who his true parent was, he allowed curiosity to focus on the golden power, and he hurried to it.
Not yet, my son. All in good time.
Gottfri blinked and was surprised to see he was on the floor. The words. So few, and yet more than enough to 'gently' push him back into his body. No one had ever shown such power to him. Not even the strange xeno he had caught a decade ago. He climbed onto his feet as he analyzed the words again. He felt hints of amusement, a strong dose of determination and affection. Yet, he could detect a smidgen of disappointment. Without meaning to, he felt his second sight reaching into the future to determine the cause for the disappointment. He frowned and stopped himself. For all he knew, his Father would sense that as well and take offense to that. Still, he doubted his brush with his Father's mind was the cause of the disappointment, but what was it then?
Salim, the capital of Delos, was originally a small town in the center of the western continent Maghādvīpa. Few events had occurred in this little spot of Delos throughout the ages of mankind, which is why Gottfri chose it upon uniting the world under one government. There was no old blood lingering beneath the foundation to spoil the peace he had crafted after a decade of hard work. In the span of a few years, the small town had transformed into the ideal metropolis, featuring the newest technological wonders the planet had to offer. And at the heart of this new city was the Senate. Utilizing a word from ancient Terra to satisfy Sindhuans, Hellasans, and the smaller represented cultures, it was here the representatives of the planet gathered to guide and vote upon the future of Delos. The building in which they met was a large dome a mile in diameter and divided into three rings. The outer ring featured in-door gardens, restaurants, rooms for solace, and other features that allowed Senators, aides, and governmental workers to relax and interact with the common man. The middle ring housed the numerous offices, libraries, and work stations where most of the daily work of running a government was done. In the center was a vast chamber shaped into an amphitheater with the stage replaced by a platform and a large desk fit only for a being the size of the Prime Minister. Each ring was separated by boundaries of increasing security the deeper one went into the Senatorial dome. Although a web of corridors, walkways, and paths spread throughout the dome, a single path existed that went straight from the southern entrance to the main chamber.
Today, two ranks of security personnel stood on both sides keeping the ever-growing crowd of people as Delos waited for its newest visitors to make their way down the road to the Senate proper. Gottfri waited with the Senate in the main chamber, for once, silent as he allowed the senators whisper to one another. Normally, he kept a full awareness of each senator's thoughts and desires. With his powerful perception, no senator could ever hope of deceiving or conspiring against him. It saved the political process a great deal of time and effort that used to be wasted on such fools. No senator was ever elected without first understanding that they would be sacrificing their privacy for their term of service. To be a public agent of the people, this was a small sacrifice. At least, in Gottfri's opinion.
With such an old habit, it was taking effort to not peer into the minds of the incoming visitors. His passive sense told him there were three parties coming in in a line. In front, the blazing power of his Father's mind led three others. From the tidbits he could sense, these three minds intrigued him. They reminded him of the strange, fearless minds he sensed among the fleet, yet were distinct from them. Behind his Father, he sensed another powerful mind, one equal to Gottfri's own power. Yet, though equal in power, this mind was much stranger. It was a mind used to casually wielding authority but possessed discipline sharp enough to cut through adamantium. Curious. Three lesser minds traveled in the wake of this great leader, mirroring the other's discipline to a degree. But the last party of three individuals intrigued Gottfri the most. No great mind there, but each of them were alighted with anticipation and joy to the point that Gottfri was eagerly awaiting to see the reason why.
It wouldn't be long. With precision and ceremony, the Senate guards reached out and open the Senate doors to welcome the self-proclaimed Emperor of Mankind.
Gottfri had mentally prepared himself for being in close proximity to his father's powerful mind. He had not been prepared for his sheer physical presence. When the doors opened, the Emperor stood towering and radiant in golden armor of incredible complexity. It was like the power and brightness of a star had been condensed into a single being. After a momentary pause, the Emperor strode forward, attended by three warriors in golden armor carrying pole arms with rifles attached to the shafts. Taking a moment to distract himself from the walking sun, Gottfri peered into the minds of his senators. All worry, fear, and anger had evaporated and been replaced with awe. Simple, profound awe. If the Emperor had asked of them to resign their positions and come serve him, Gottfri had no doubt that he would be left with an empty chamber. As the Emperor came forward, Gottfri managed to glimpse the rest of the retinue entering the chamber.
The first half of the retinue was a giant poised man clad in sleek power armour, dotted with lightning bolts. A great crystal decorated the center of his chest that Gottfri suspected as being an amplifier of some sort. The man moved with a dancer's grace, every movement precise and measured. He wore a mask of serenity as he studied Gottfri. Four warriors formed a crescent moon behind him, each small reflections of their leader.
Gottfri resisted his curiosity to learn the name of this other giant, for he sensed that he couldn't make such an under taking without discovery. For this man was a psyker, like himself.
The name was 'said' aloud to a room where only a telepath could hear. The elegant giant barely nodded towards Gottfri before taking his place to the side of the Emperor. Gottfri quickly understood that it was a welcoming gift. Wishing not to be a rude host, Gottfri answered in kind.
Gottfri Alexandros Darshan VonSalim.
Gottfri finished his greeting with his own imperceptible nod before his attention to the last group entering the chamber.
It was with no small annoyance that Irvin Ruel felt his discipline threatening to break. His instructions were clear, handed down from the Emperor himself. He and two other legionaries of his choice were to form a diplomatic party and join the Emperor in a first contact scenario. A simple mission. Simple were it not for the fact that the other members included the Emperor and Icarion. To be in the presence of the Emperor alone would be one of the highest honors a space marine could achieve. To be in the Emperor's presence and the only discovered primarch was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Add in the possibility that his own gene-father was waiting for him at the end of this road left Irvin nearly overwhelmed. Although they hid it well, he knew his companions were struggling as much as he was to maintain their discipline.
To his left was Immanzeul Kant, the legion's most powerful psyker after Yeshie's demise. Unlike the former Master of the Legion who had a wide mastery of powers, Kant was more focused, limiting himself to three of the psychic arts to specialize in. One of them was telepathy, and Irvin could only imagine what the psyker was enduring as he walked behind the two most powerful beings in the galaxy, while the monstrous crowd closed around them. Yet, Kant marched with steady purpose with them. On his right was Jorg Cavso, the greatest of their champions. No other had survived the lethal whirlwind of close combat as much as he had. It was not without cost. Beneath his power armor was a web of scars hinting at how close to death he had often come, but with such experience none could match his skill with the maul. His infamous maul was missing today as their only armament allowed was a volkite serpenta and a combat knife. The way his fingers occasionally twitched, Irvin knew it was missed.
Regardless, they maintained their place behind the Lightning Bearers as they marched into the large domed building. Every step heightened their anticipation as they neared the two large doors at the end of the road. When they opened, Irvin resisted the urge to lean over so he could see past the enormous form of Icarion. By the Emperor, may our search come to an end.
He knew it wasn't so, but it felt as though their pace slowed as the Emperor entered. It felt slower still as Icarion passed through the doors. As the last of the Bearers entered, the inner chamber came into view. Time switched moods as suddenly events sped forward. In a few short steps, Irvin and his companions entered the chamber. Before them in the center of the chamber stood a primarch. Their primarch. Even without Kant's mental investigation, Irvin knew that the Primarch of the Fifth Legion was found. Standing erect in an obsidian dress uniform, he wore a confident smile even as the Emperor stood before him. With bright red, short hair, their gene-father turned his attention toward them. His smile broadened as though he already knew they were his sons. Irvin had never before felt such elation.
As they came to a halt behind the Lightning Bearers, the Emperor spoke. "Alexandros Darshan VonSalim, Prime Minister of the Delian Federation and Commander-in-Chief of her military power, I greet you as the Emperor of the Imperium and as your Father. It is my dearest wish that you and your world join me."
Gottfri inwardly twitched. It was a small issue, but he sensed something large behind it. Of course, he wouldn't have shown his disquiet outwardly. One of the first lessons of politics he'd learned from his mortal father was self-control and how to present oneself. A simple yet powerful lesson, especially here. Not only did his true Father stand before him with the entire Senate, above them was a flock of recorders, cameras, and news personnel as they observed and telegraphed the proceedings here to the entire world. All it required was a minute exertion of his will, but a thought whispered, Why didn't He use my first name?
As a child, Gottfri had been discovered at the base of a mountain on the eastern continent of Tyrin. It was Vitrion, a local magistrate, who found, named, and raised him. When Gottfri had accomplished world unity, he had discarded his last name, while giving himself three more. Darshan was to appease and connect with the Sindhuans of the West. Gottfri and VonSalim were two names he had discovered when he read about ancient Terra in Delos' oldest library. He had taken them because they're linguistic and cultural roots didn't exist on Delos. It was a sign that while he identified with all people of Delos, he was a neutral unifier who refused to play favorites, even among the people he had grown up with. Ever since that day, those two were the names he wore in public. Is my name offensive to him?
After his opening statement, the Emperor proceeded to give a speech. It lasted thirty minutes. As it ended, Gottfri knew one thing.
Delos belonged to the Imperium.
Not one man, woman, or child who had watched the broadcast could possibly refuse the Emperor's desire. What had taken Gottfri ten years of careful calculation and hard work was accomplished by the Emperor in half an hour. When the Emperor finished speaking, eight senators immediately stood to propose Delos' compliance. The proposal seconded by a second wave of senators. Before the Prime Minister could enact the official sanction of the vote, the rest of the senators rose and declared, "Yea!" Gottfri smiled and knew he need not fear a painful transition for Delos. It was exactly what he wanted when the first vision appeared to him three weeks ago.
The Senate's decision was quick and simple. The actual process of compliance was a much longer affair as thousands of Imperial ships made planetfall. In a matter of weeks, the technology of Delos would be advanced by decades, a deficiency that had plagued earlier efforts at fighting off xenos raiders. Lasguns would replace their stub guns, Warp technology would allow them to chase raiders outside of their system, and new medical technologies would allow them to combat the various poisons and chemicals the repulsive xenos often employed against them for their twisted motives.
Although Gottfri had won a major victory against them four years ago, he knew he had defeated one faction among many. One of his political cards was to remind Delians that they had no guarantee they wouldn't return. Unity would lead to a much stronger defense against their foes. And now, they had the power to fend them off and destroy them if they desired.
Yet, these weapons pale in comparison to these, he thought as he studied the men assembled before him. No, not men. Astartes. Legiones Astartes. The process of compliance was now on automatic, allowing Gottfri to invite his Father and his brother to his home.
After a brief tour of his home, they now stood on the back patio of the mansion. While they were inside, another group of Astartes had assembled here. As Gottfri stood above them, he took a moment to enjoy their excitement and pride as they waited for him to speak. These space marines would become familiar faces to him as they represented the upper echelons of the Vth Legion. His legion. His sons. I have a much larger family now, Gottfri thought to himself with a smile. But one issue had to be resolved before he greeted his sons. Without turning toward him, Gottfri 'spoke'. Father. My first name, must I not use it?
No, Alexandros. Gottfri is a name that is ill-suited to you now. Much like how you required the Delians to forsake their petty quarrels to be given a greater purpose, you too must cast away that name as you ascend to your true purpose. It is a small sacrifice, my son, and one you will not regret.
Alexandros briefly wondered why Gottfri was the only name he was losing, but after being separated from his true father for a decade, he was willing to trust him on this. The mental conversation concluded in half a second. Taking a step forward, Alexandros shouted, "My sons! I cannot express my joy on this day of happy reunions. While I knew the Emperor was approaching, what a happy surprise it was for me to learn that I have brothers and sons to share in my happiness. From this day forward, may we never be parted as we partake in our greatest mission: to rescue Terra's lost children and protect them against those who would harm us! We will form the line against evil. We will be the shield of the Imperium. We will be the wardens, watching over our charges as we ward away the darkness! My sons, are you with me?"
In one voice, his legionaries shouted, "FOR THE EMPEROR AND ALEXANDROS!"
Before Alexandros could step forward, the Emperor mentally spoke with him.
My son, your lord commander and nine others will accompany you to Terra. There I will teach and prepare you for being a true master of a legion. You may pick the other nine. I will take my leave of you now and will see you again on Terra. Your brother will remain here and in orbit for another day before returning to the Great Crusade. Good-bye, my son. I eagerly look forward to your training.
Not much of a good-bye in human terms, but the words were carefully wrapped with pride, happiness, and anticipation. Alexandros turned and smiled. I as well, Father. With a deep nod, the Emperor walked toward his brother. After a quick round of words, the Emperor strode toward the mansion, while the other primarch approached him. Although Alexandros was eager to learn and interact with his sons, the amount of his time with his brother would be more limited. Best if I take advantage of it while I can.
Formal introductions had been made quickly earlier, so Alexandros knew his name. Now, it was time to learn much more. With an easy smile, he hailed him, "Greetings, Icarion Anasem."
The giant in pale armour stopped a respectable distance from him and bowed, unintentionally displaying his warrior's bun. "It is an honour to make your acquaintance, Prime Minister VonSalim."
Alexandros hesitated before indulging in temptation. With a thought, the thousand paths of the future laid bare to his mind. In a third of a second, he found the answer he sought. Wearing a confident grin, Alex returned the bow before answering, "Please, we are equals. Alex will do just fine."
Anasem raised an eyebrow before assenting. "As you wish, Alex. Then, it would only be fair to address me as Icarion." The primarch glanced over the mansion before his eyes settled on the garden covering the acres before them. "You have quite the abode. I have seen the homes of many generals and warlords and few are as filled with warmth such as yours. You especially have a capable horticulturalist."
Releasing a hearty laugh, Alex said, "I'm glad to hear it! I've only recently picked up the hobby."
Icarion quirked an eyebrow, but Alexcould sense he wasn't as surprised as he let on. "This garden was made by your hand?"
"Every seed and tree," Alex answered before he swung a hand towards it. "Would you care for a walk through it?"
Icarion nodded. "It would be my honour."
With a subtle hand sign, Icarion signaled for his sons to remain where they were. Alexandros turned to his own sons and said with a smile, "I'll be back shortly."
The head of the Storm Rider company, Irvin, bowed. "As you will, my lord."
The two giants walked off the terrace and into a world of green. Alexandros lengthened his stride to match Icarion's gait as they passed by several crops. "I must confess, I'm surprised you would take the time to grow your own food," Icarion commented. "I assume you could afford any meal that could be made on this planet."
With a chuckle, Alexandros reached over to pluck a cluster of grapes from its stalk. "You assume correctly. With a snap of my fingers, I could order any dish I wish, but my reasons for growing my own food is threefold. First, farming was the key for the ancients to establish themselves and to no longer bend to the fickle fate of hunting. It allowed us to establish roots that led to cities and then to civilizations. Thus, it is a way for me to connect with our collective past. Second, for millennia, it was mankind's primary occupation. When I work here, the Delians see it as a form of humility and respect my leadership all the more so. Third," he finished as he picked a few grapes before tossing them into his mouth, "food tastes better when it comes from my own hand."
He held out the rest of the branch to Icarion. "Would you like some? You're lucky enough to arrive just as the crops have ripened."
"I would be honored," Icarion answered as his fingers adroitly handled the tiny fruit. Although he could eat the branch in one bite, their advanced biology able to digest wood, Icarion picked and ate one grape at a time. "Delectable."
Alex grinned. "Thank you." He gestured toward the path, and the two continued their trek. "Have you ever tried to see how long you can last without eating?"
"The idea to try never occurred to me," Icarion admitted before glancing at his companion. "I assume you tried?"
"You assume correctly. Alas, I had to give up after three years."
Icarion nodded. "I imagine the pain was distracting by that point."
With a laugh, Alex shook his head. "Fair guess, but no. I suspect I could have last several more years, but the problem was that the longer my fasting lasted, the more disconcerted my people became with me. I ended my fast to reestablish my connection to them, which is a pity. I'm still really curious what our limits actually are," Alexandros mused as the pair moved to a different part of the garden.
"Were there really enough complaints to justify ending your experiment? If you were really concerned with the people's perceptions, why not just pretend to eat in private?
"Because, I'm a telepath," Alex said bluntly. "All my life, I've been able to see past any front, deception, or facade meant to conceal a person's true self. In a few seconds, I can understand a person as deeply as their most intimate lover without their consent or their knowledge. I have used this power to manipulate, to protect, and to build in my rise of power to create unity and peace on my world. I was voted into office upon a promise. Since no man or woman could be safe from my gaze, I surrendered any claim to privacy." Alex stopped and waved a hand over the entire mansion. "I'm sure you noticed it when I gave you the tour. Every single square inch of my home is monitored by an entire web of cameras with only one room exempted. That surveillance network is plugged into this world's information network. At any point in time, any citizen can log into their personal cogitator and watch my actions as I go about my day. Thus, I have earned the Delians' trust, and it allowed me to enforce my own requirement that any who seek the office of Senator has to make a similar kind of sacrifice. So, no, no eating in private for me."
"I confess," Icarion began as they turned another corner, a wave of pleasant aroma welcoming them. "It is a rare moment for me to be surprised, but I know of no other ruler, not even the Emperor, who would go to such lengths to reassure his own people. Pardon me if I'm being too far forward, but why? Why do you sacrifice so much of yourself for them?"
"You're not being too far forward," Alex quickly reassured him. "We are brothers, after all. As to your question..." A pause lingered between them as the marched down between a row of bright orchids. Alex chuckled. "You know, I think you may be the first person to ever ask me that question. A third of my people believe me that I am some deity's servant and assume that my generosity is part of my nature. Another third would never ask, lest my thinking tempt me to indulge in more base desires. And the last third are too busy trying to find a way to take advantage of my kindness to bother inquire as to why." He came to a stop and turned his attention back toward the estate. Icarion halted as well, patient for his answer. "Perhaps I'm selfish. One forward question for another. I know you are a psyker, like me, but what powers do you command?"
"Command is not the word I would use," Icarion said. "It implies a level of control that I don't think is truly possible. The Warp, for all of the potential it offers, is more wild than a raging fire. No one can hope to tame it, but only unleash it in controlled measures."
"There is much wisdom in that," Alex agreed as he turned his gaze back to his brother.
Icarion nodded. "Thank you. For a more prosaic answer, I have some mastery of most known arts, but I focus my efforts in the arts of divination and... purity."
In the back of his mind, Alexnoted the awkward pause but chose not to pursue it at this time. "We are alike in that way, then," he said cheerfully as he held up an open palm. A miniature fire sparked into life a few centimeters above the center of his palm. "I too have knowledge of wide array of arts, but I find them a distraction." Without a sound, the fire ceased. "Like you, I have a natural inclination toward divination. Yet, my best expertise lies in telepathy." Alex dropped his hand, and his eyes swiveled back towards Salim. "I burn with a desire to know and learn about people. Telepathy has served as my greatest tool in that regard and provided me with some of the most beautiful images of humanity. You know something about telepathy. Have you learned how to see auras? Have you ever seen a metropolis at twilight?"
"I haven't," Icarion said. "While I know some of the basic principles that guide the art of telepathy, I've never pursued any of the more advanced techniques."
"Ah, you don't know what you're missing. You see..." Alex trailed off. "Actually, I could show you, if you're willing."
Icarion glanced at the Delian sun. While the day was late, the primarch estimated that sunset was still an hour or two away. "I do not wish to be rude, but I have duties I must return to before long."
"No, no," Alex explained as he shook a hand. "I understand that we're nearing the limit of our time together today. No, I meant, I can show you my memory of it. As though you were there yourself."
There was a moment of hesitation before Icarion nodded. "As you wish."
Alex grinned before suggesting, "It might be easier if you closed your eyes. Less of an abrupt transition that way."
Another pause before Icarion complied. The world changed. The soft sounds of a garden were replaced by the distant sounds of the city. The warmth of the afternoon sun was gone as a chill was carried by strong winds. Icarion opened his eyes and saw an evening sky greeting him. Next to him was Alex who was watching him, amused, as the pair stood on the edge of his mansion's roof. Glancing behind him, Icarion was surprised to see a second Alexandros, who did not notice either himself or his duplicate, dressed in casual sleepwear. The other Alexandros was walking towards them before stopping a foot away, his eyes fixated on the city with a smile.
"You settled?" The current Alex asked.
"I believe so," Icarion murmured. "When is this?"
"A few weeks ago before the first of my visions of our father." Current Alex pointed toward the city. "Watch."
Icarion turned his full attention toward the city. As any city in twilight, artificial light had filled the void after the last rays of sunlight disappeared beneath the horizon. Despite being a typical city of mid-level technology, no smog threatened to obscure sight of it. Vehicles traveled along the roads, offering their own small lights to the cityscape.
For a moment, Icarion thought his eyes failed him. As he watched, the lights grew brighter and morphed into different colors. The roads became veins of red and light blue. The skyscrapers reflected bronze and vermilion. By far, the most colorful were, what Icarion assumed, were the city's dormitories. They were rainbows emanating from these buildings, but when Icarion focused, he saw that there was a subtle domination of light greens.
Alex answered the unspoken question without prompting. "To me, light green is the color of excitement. Or, at least, that's the color I see when I see someone excited. Salim is a new city. Most of the people here feel like they are a part of something new. Something that is bigger than them. That they're on the edge of something new and powerful. The city was like this even before I began dropping hints that the Emperor was coming."
"Now," Alex began, "here comes the main event."
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, the dormitories exploded with even more color as shades split further into lighter and darker iterations, briefly intertwined to create a stunning sight. These tornadoes of auras engulfed entire neighborhoods as Icarion watched. Almost as quickly as it had come, the cornucopia of colors subsided, yet grew more wild as the spectrum bounced between different hues.
Alex happily sighed. "Normally, a human being uses only one hemisphere of their brain during the day, alternating between the logic and the creative given whatever task they're on. But, for a few moments before a person falls asleep, both hemispheres are active, creating some truly incredible sights to my eyes."
"Were only I an artist capable of capturing such beauty," Icarion murmured.
With a wave and a chuckle, Alex dissolved the scene before them, returning them to the garden. "Perhaps that's why I serve humanity so diligently. To indulge in the wonderful sights they offer to me."
"If only more men were as 'selfish' as you," Icarion said with a wry smile.
Alex's grin grew wider. "I appreciate the thought." He glanced at the sky of today, and his grin shortened. "Ah, I suppose we are out of time. My how quickly it can travel when one wishes otherwise."
Icarion nodded. "True words, but only for this day. You'll soon see. The Great Crusade may become your primary mission, but our Father allows quite a bit of leeway when it comes to personal execution of the war. There will be campaigns where we will fight side-by-side, times we can reserve for leisure, and, eventually, the Great Crusade will end. Then we, and our other lost brothers, will have all the time we desire to learn about one another."
"Then let us return, so we can bring that happy day closer!" Alex declared before leading Icarion back to the mansion.
Edited by simison, 28 December 2019 - 07:13 PM.