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The End of Quiet, A Tale of the 51st Millennium

50k end of quiet 51st Millennium

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#26
Bruce Malcom

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Part Ten - The Endless Sleep of the Necrons
 
The Silent King had made his bid for the galaxy, and it was not quiet or subtle. An evergrowing portion of the Segmentum Solar had been becalmed, their connection to the Warp cut and the Imperium of Man was nigh-helpless to stop him. Though portions of the Indomitus Crusade fought to save those left or to attempt to keep the hordes of Necron Warriors at bay, Roboute Guilliman felt helpless as the ancient race pushed forth further and further towards Terra, where even the Emperor of Mankind would be placed in mortal danger. Yet the Imperials owed not their Primarchs or any Space Marine Chapter or Guard Regiment thanks for their survival, but rather salvation had come from the oddest of places.
 
Ghazghkull Thraka was a powerful Ork, rivaling near the potency of the Beast of old. His indomitable power had aroused trillions of Orks with promises of endless scraps and how to put Gork and Mork on top of the Warp God food chain. He promised the Ork species that he knew just the place...Holy Terra, home of the God-Emperor of Mankind and his finest defenders. As he gathered an endless amount of reinforcements and warships, he plunged deep into the heart of Segmentum Solar, but he had found a new battleground. The Necron's Pariah Nexus had become not a becalmed death sentence for the galaxy, but rather the perfect battlefield for ultimately the fate of the galaxy.
 
As Necron Warriors without count moved to defend their only true bastion, an absolute unending tide of green simpletons invaded the occupied land of Segmentum Solar. Even the Necrons' ability to resurrect themselves in the same battle proved entirely unhelpful when being trampled by an absolute stampede of Ork Boyz. To the few Imperials trying to quell the Silent King's gamble for power, it was a ludicrous sight to behold, but not an entirely unwelcome one. They had gathered their forces, and simply left the fallen sectors to the horrifying fate they were involved in now.
 
Szarekh was displeased, to say the least. The Necron Empire's perhaps final chance at surpassing its height was being trampled on by the idiot decedents of their old foes, the Krorks. To make matters worse, as the pylon nexus keeping the Pariah Nexus' becalming power operational fell to the insane mustering of belief to Gork and Mork, more and more forces got involved in the carnage. Rogal Dorn and his Imperial Fists Legion moved to the borders of the fallen nexus and fortified it on behalf of the Imperium, ensuring neither Orks nor Necrons would escape the meat grinder towards Terra, and a few Aeldari Corsairs braved the intergalactic war in an effort to loot the now-undefended Imperial-held worlds. Endless hulks of defensive sector fleets sat in orbit of becalmed worlds, that were undestroyed due to the non-violent means of death that the nexus inflicted, that were ripe for the picking.
 
Even the Drukhari became involved, sending in Kabal after Kabal to scour the fallen sectors for any worlds which remained un-stilled but left to die by the Imperium of Man. Though the bounties were not plentiful, causing the mad rush to the disabled Pariah Nexus to slow somewhat, there were certainly millions of innocent Imperial civilians wishing that the Orks had come, not the heartless wretches of Commoragh.
 
The Necrons were not done, however. Their growing empire had been shattered by the Orks, humans and even their old foes the Aeldari, but the Silent King would not be denied. Using what remained of the Nexus, he funneled a psychic signal throughout the galaxy, and hundreds of thousands of worlds across the galaxy cracked open, unleashing billions of unthinking horrors out of their tomb. They were directed to ignore their own worlds for now, for the war for the Necron Empire was more important than any Dynasty's old squabbles. Once the Orks were bested, the Primarch was beaten away from their borders and the Aeldari were punished for looting their prey's corpses like scavengers, the rest of the galaxy would be enveloped in the Pariah Nexus, and then the Necrons would truly claim the Materum as their own.
 
The Silent King's call awoke almost every Necron Tomb World, and the Imperium bled for it as a myriad of threats capitalized on the crippling of so many planets. Chief among them was Chaos, who brutalized the wounded Imperium non-stop. But it was the Necrons which truly scared the Gods. Sending their most loyal champions, Lorgar and his Word Bearers Legion, the Chaos Gods hoped such a force would be enough to disrupt the Silent King's ability to defeat the Orks and expand the Pariah Nexus, which was perhaps more anathema to them than even the God-Emperor.
 
As the former Lord of the Necrontyr's war on Ghazghkull Thraka's WAAAAGH! burned brightly, it was Lorgar who helped turn the tide. Though there were no humans left to convert and there were no souls to offer to the Gods, the First Heretic did his job adequately, corrupting the majority of the Necron Lords with a form of scrapcode, plunging their minds into chaos and data overload, slowly driving them into the path of the Necron Destroyer. Though this granted the Szarekh a degree of reinforcements, it was nowhere near as useful as the great generals and minds of the old Necrontyr were suddenly lost to madness and bloodlust. Cursing the Gods, the Silent King watched as his final attempt to save his people fell into chaos as Ghazghkull Thraka continued his Green Krumpzade into the Pariah Nexus. World after world was lost to the Orks and the Silent King declared the game lost.
 
A final decree as Overlord of the Necron People was given, to flee the Milky Way Galaxy in search of a new land to rule. No Necron took the information well, and though many fought the idea, Szarekh used the long thought lost species-wide Command Protocol over the Necron Race, or at least those linked to him by the Pariah Nexus' call, to force them to obey. Placing this fleeing Necron Empire under the command of Asmothep, one of his Phaerons, Szarekh faced down Ghazghkull, as the self-acclaimed Primork. In his final days, Szarekh had been succumbed by the feeling of absolute failure -- his damnation of the Necrontyr, the fall of their initial Empire, and now his failure to help the galaxy reclaim it -- and fell into the trap of the Destroyer Lord. Though many debate over whether his fall was due to the natural self-blame he drowned himself in, or whether the great trickery of Lorgar had finally corrupted the mightiest of the Necron Overlords, none could truly say, but what was irrefutable was that the Silent King had more than mutilated his necrodermis body into something comparable to the Prophet of Gork and Mork. The size of a Canoptek Doomstalker and with all the combat mechanisms he could scrape from his abandoned empire, Szarekh the Destroyer King awaited his now-mortal foe.
 
Ghazghkull, realizing this would be the fight of his life, charged his foe with the usual Ork lunacy, but with complete and utter joy. Content with dying now, both warlords fought and clashed for nearly three hours, necrodermis and Ork machinery being torn apart evenly. Though the pockets of Orks left kicking around the galaxy claim that Ghazghkull beat the Silent King over his head with his own tripod leg, reality and fact tells that the warlords came to their death together. He had rigged his body not to be transported back to inner healing sanctums of his Tomb Worlds, but to leave him broken and dead. Ghazghkull was little less than a dissolving head, hit by a dozen heavy gauss weapons before the Destroyer King had died. With a toothy grin, Ghazghkull faded away, dead beyond the Painboyz ability to fix.
 
With the death of both warlords, Rogal Dorn saw his chance and pushed in, wiping out much of Ghazghkull's WAAAGH! and the few Necron stragglers left. The Nexus was reclaimed, if only partially. There was not enough time to reclaim all of the fallen sectors before Dorn and his Legion were required elsewhere as The Thing That Was Once Abbadon began the Second Siege of Terra.
 
Millennia later, the Pariah Nexus is far more quiet than the rest of the galaxy. Known as the place of desperate scavengers and secrets best left buried, even the most bold and the closest of Imperial remnants keep their distance from the Silent King's old realm. Like the ghost houses of old, it is lifeless, more terrifying in principle than in practice, unless one digs too deep on one of its many worlds. It is a monument to folly, to the old races clinging to power yet plunging them into ruin all the same. Yet many scavengers try to brave the sectors for ancient Imperial treasures, goods and ships, never to be seen again.
-----------------------
For all the worlds the Silent King enraptured with his plan and sentenced to the deep reaches of the void between galaxies, there were some left inactive, untouched, or ignored. Most notably of the stragglers was Trazyn, lord of Solemnace. Trayzn the Infinite remained as he was, giddy with his new items given to him by the Emperor in exchange for the clone of his son Fulgrim. Placing up signal jammers as soon as he heard the plea of Szarekh, he and his Tomb World heard not his commands and remained on their world of Solemnace, thieving from the corpse of the Imperium and the other species.
 
The Infinite had come into contact and, of course, combat with plenty of other species, most often the Sicarian Realm. Cato Sicarius, self-appointed God-Emperor of Ultramar, found much pleasure and much trouble when dealing with the Necron Overlord. He had approached the Space Marine warlord in M49 with the offering of the Arbitrator, Roboute Guilliman's old sidearm during the days of the Horus Heresy. Luring Sicarius with such an offering, he snuck a squad into the Realm of Sicarius's capital of Macragge to steal a pillar of marble named the Pillar of Foundings that had stood since the founding of Ultramar itself, before even the Emperor had rediscovered his Avenging Son. The artpiece was defended by a trio of Vanguard Veterans, who pushed back his Kill Team of Ophydian Destroyers and Necron Immortals.
 
Sicarius and Trazyn were still discussing the terms of the agreement and the beauty of Macragge when he received the news of Trazyn's treachery, and he dueled the mad collector in an effort to defend the honor of his realm, and its security. Trazyn fell in combat to the petty emperor, though it was only four hundred years later when he realized that the crazed Necron was not yet dead, coming after the same artifact with a squad of Deathmarks and Triach Praetorians, succeeding this time in the theft. Declaring Trazyn to be a Greater Daemon and an enemy of the Sicarian Realm, he sent out search parties to find his Tomb World...to no avail for nearly three millennia.
 
Indeed, it is well-known among the miniscule community of Necron Tomb Worlds in hiding across the galaxy that he placed both the Arbitrator and the Pillar of Foundings side by side in his display dedicated to Ultramar, alongside a handful of Astartes Legionnaires and Battle-Brothers from across its history, including that of Marneus Calgar himself...

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#27
Bjorn Firewalker

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The Fall of All is imaginative.
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#28
Bruce Malcom

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Part Eleven - Damnation of the Fiefdom
 
The Magnian Fiefdom long stood as the sanctuary of psykers, where those touched by the Warp could hide under the unwavering protection of the Feather of Magnus, the relic used to keep the Warp-powered reflex spell operating. The Planet of Sorcerers was little more than fragments held together by sheer psychic will and the prowess of the greatest of their rank. Chief among them were the Councilers of Fourteen, the last of the Thousand Sons, and Syliel Allean, the last of the Aeldari. These living members of ages past, united in their scarcity and talent in the Warp, kept the Feather powered for ten millennia.
 
Yet all technologies and spells fade with time, and few ancient things stay entirely intact. The Feather's color drained and its link to the lost Primarch gone, it fell to the ground without ceremony, but with much terror. All those on the Planet of Sorcerers were themselves sorcerers, in tune with the Warp and its nature. The falling of the shield was felt by all, and Allean immediately took a portion of Brethren Psykana to search for a new power source capable of shielding the planet and all its psykers. Yet as they left the world but three days after her declaration of expedition aboard their Legiones Astartes Huntress Destroyer, one of the few warships left from the Thousand Sons Legion, tragedy struck.
 
A Mars Cruiser and two Gladius Frigates baring the sigil of the Phoenix Imperialis appeared from the Warp, immediately launching fightercraft and drop pods at the planet. Each of the forty Space Marines deployed to the world had a blank strapped to their back, and carnage ensued. The Planet's defenders, too accustomed to the Warp's power, were caught entirely off-guard when their attempts to smite the fallen Angels simply failed. None of the Astartes needed to draw their blades, for simply getting too close was death enough. The bastion of psykers was under assault from a ruthless, brutal force of berserkers and madmen, armed with equally brutal weaponry. 
 
Yet this would be their downfall, for pools of psyker blood filled the streets, powering old runes and countermeasures with each death. Even as the lunatic warriors of the dead god of excess and pride marched ever onwards, ancient automata and warp-powered turrets spun to life, posing challenges to even the Emperor's Children. But the war would not be won like this, for as the Phoenix Imperialis' soldiers retreated with kidnapped psyker slaves for endless depravity back at their homeworlds, the unit's commander, Captain Thio Excrutatius, sent a psychic message to a somewhat far off empire in the reaches of the void. It came with coordinates, a brief description of the foe, and with the amount of psykers revealed, even a psychic beacon to focus on. He had divined the falling of the Feather, for he himself was a psyker.
 
For a week, the children of the Warp repaired, rebuilt and mourned their losses. Then came the second wave, not of the Phoenix Imperialis, but of the Holy Clergy of the Emperor's Will. A Black Templars Battle-Barge, ten cruisers of various classifications, and a few Huntress Destroyers owned by the various Ordos within the Holy Clergy. Bombardment, drop pods, and fightercraft rained from orbit, and the Magnian Fiefdom fell to the burning of promethium and mad zealots. Two billion psykers died within a span of hours as chunks of the planet fell away, the strength of her defenders fading as their numbers dropped dramatically. The Councilers themselves were reduced to thirteen, as only one stood defiantly to defend and die with his people. The rest opened a rift in the Warp and left for a new chance.
 
Through the Warp, Allean and her party flew. With accurate estimates and divinations, she knew her world's plight and yet found no results. Refusing to tell the crew or her soldiers, she kept the horror and tears to herself. The Void gave no answers, and the crying death wails of the Warp was all she heard from that side of reality. Until finally, her ship was latched onto and dragged across the Warp's length. Fearing some remnant of the Gods or some unaffiliated Warp predator had found her ship, she prepared the guns before her fears were hushed by silent, psychic words of reaffirmation used in ages past to herald salvation; "Do not be afraid." 
 
And then the land before her was brilliant. It was everything she hoped for, it was all she wanted and more. A glistening starship that could dwarf any craftworld, clad in the typical Aeldari gold and the mourning Ynnari black and white, with purple stripes of metal plating and ancient Aeldari sigils and runes built into the ship's structure. It stood with an escort fleet of Imperial and once-Drukhari vessels -- now repainted and modified to resemble the flagship -- and the psychic presence of the crew meant only one thing.
 
Aeldari. A massive ship full of them too, enough to pass as a moon in mass. It was a ship that surpassed almost any before it, an unbreakable monolith filled with the knowledge of her ancient species. Free from the shackles of She Who Thrists, the Aeldari had learned the lessons of the Empire of old and they sought to capitalize on the second chance. Yet another presence was aboard the ship, one far stronger than any other aboard. After docking and witnessing the majestic innards of the godlike starship, she was face to face with Magnus the Red, who had forgone his daemonic master during the Cataclysm. Upon reaching his presence, she could do nothing but bow and kneel before the great presence, and the wise red Primarch chuckled at the sight. "You need not bow before me, Farseer. In fact, I believe I should towards you. Your dilemma is known, and the Yahshua has already set its course towards my old realm. We will punish the ignorant, but we will not war them, for such violence will only beget more."
 
Once the Yahshua had dropped from the realm of the Warp, no ship in the Holy Clergy's arsenal could hope to escape, much less win. Even the massive and ancient Battle-Barge had nothing to offer as it was all but destroyed in a single salvo from but a twentieth of its armament. The survivors on the Planet cheered in victory, they had weathered judgement and now salvation had come. Gunships fell to the world, and to greet them were Rubric Marines with their will restored, if not body. The comparatively puny demi-company of Templars and a few hundred surviving Sisters stood little chance against such an enemy, as Wraithbone constructions and the hundred thousand sons of Magnus purged the foe with Aeldari and Imperial weaponry alike.
 
With the Planet evacuated and the survivors of the Holy Clergy's attack left alive purposely to tell their masters the terrible fate which befell them, the Yahshua and her escorts disappeared into the Warp once more, with a Primarch to lead them and the ancient Aeldari to train the younger species' psychically gifted lessons to hone their potential. The Magnian Fiefdom had fallen, but the Conclave of Sorcerers had risen in their place.

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#29
Bjorn Firewalker

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Magnus the Red surviving and then allying with Aeldari, is certainly a surprise. I thought the knife ears would be too damn proud and arrogant to admit a non-Aeldari had anything to teach them, much less nominate the Primarch as their leader.
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#30
Bruce Malcom

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Magnus the Red surviving and then allying with Aeldari, is certainly a surprise. I thought the knife ears would be too damn proud and arrogant to admit a non-Aeldari had anything to teach them, much less nominate the Primarch as their leader.

 

Eh, ever since the Fall of the Imperium and the whole Cataclysm, the Aeldari had been reduced to essentially that fleet. But they were given a second chance by the death of Slaanesh, and in their time of need and vulnerability a powerful psychic powerhouse and a Legion of Astartes to defend them showed up and asked to become their student. Ten thousand years later and he's become their leader by simply learning from them and being more powerful than any Aeldari in the fleet. Though much of that era of time is being left for later.

 


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#31
Bruce Malcom

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Part Twelve - Descent of Secrets
 
The five hundred worlds of Ultramar saw brutal war. Captain Titus' resistance against the darkness of the Sicarian Empire had risen to a proper power, fifty worlds in number. Tens of thousands of ships stood in its defense, with the allegiance of a dozen shattered chapters behind him and hundreds of millions of guardsmen to liberate worlds from the prevention of their Primarch's wishes. As the Harbinger of Guilliman he is known, but even this heroic defiance was dwarfed by the tide of another tyranny. The Nova Legion had gained ground in Ultramar, a hundred and twenty worlds had fallen to the fifty thousand under the control of a madman Legion Master who claimed the name of the Lord Guilliman as his own. For a century this conflict has raged, and Ultramar crumbled beneath the weight of war after only scraping by the Cataclysm.
 
Yet the decider of the fate of Ultramar was no son of Guilliman, for it was the Realm of Angels who controlled even less of Ultramar than the Guillimanites. They kept to themselves, ruling their subjects like unenthused lords, uninterested in the politics of man and empire until word of the traitorkin had arisen again. Yet despite its size it was a slumbering superpower, a quarter of a Legion in strength and with the Rock still under their command. Their Supreme Grand Master, Uziel Icarar, had been reportedly in talks with that of the false Roboute of the Nova Legion, as both sides had been petitioning the Angels to assist in their war.
 
The Realm of Angels was quiet for a reason; their prey was rarely in Ultramar, opting to stay away from their core realms. They had no interest in outside politics beyond their hunt unless attacked. But with the war racing quickly to a climax and an opportunity to secure more resources for the Hunt, even staunch Icarar was forced to accept that the war had to be joined, one way or another. Despite their constant patrols, half their number -- a nigh-unheard of feat outside of Ultramar -- still remained within the Realm of Angels, and any losses attributed to the war would be made up for in territory, population and captured Sicarian assets. With the unflinching backing of the Nova Legion, who's secretive origins implied a vast storehouse of geneseed, production facilities and other such things, The Supreme Grand Master foresaw a final end to the Hunt with damned Caliban's frayed husk of a world erased by energy lances and macrobatteries from a joint legion fleet.
 
From the overbearing shadows of the Void slipped an ancient starship, unmarked with transponders and not emblazoned with any sigil, before or after the Cataclysm. From within its hull came a black and grey Thunderhawk, darting to a world nearby at speeds only allowed by Astartes craft. It was a world under the reign of the Nova Legion, and it was in poor shape. Its name was Forlone, a half-dead world revived by Sicarian rebuilding efforts and then subsequently shelled back to disrepair by Nova Legion forces. Its citizenry knew this well, and upon the Thunderhawk's secretive arrival a riot was being violently suppressed. The team deployed by the Thunderhawk were similarly unmarked, but they wore ancient armors like that of the Maximus and Crusade Patterns.
 
Sneaking through the ruined capital of Forlone was a difficult process, leaving many dead civilians and Nova Legion personnel in its wake. Yet the five Astartes were masters of their craft, their lives being spent honing their craft. With a small trail of bodies covered up by the troubles of imperialism, the team of five entered the Nova Legion's resident temple-fortress, a smaller variation of the standard Fortress-Monastery, proving a more economic option for a Legion-sized campaign of conquest. Even if the Nova Legion knew of their plans beforehand, it wouldn't have helped any. In and out like a gust of midnight chill, ten suits of Mark IV Power Armor and ten boltguns to match were snatched from Forlone's temple-fortress, along with a Rhino to carry to the loot to boot. The frigate, still not detected by the Nova Legion forces, flew into the planet's atmosphere. Though days later such an anomaly would be noticed, the thought of cloaked ships was considered foolish by the Nova Legion's standards. They suspected all such devices to have been lost to the fires of the Cataclysm, and whatever remained of the Raven Guard and their Reflex Drives were certainly not anywhere near Ultramar.
 
Yet this action had not gone unnoticed, for during the mysterious group's incursion they had accidentally come across and assisted the job of a Sicarian spy. She was named Chrisma Wox, trained by the ancient orders of the once Ordo Hereticus who survived in the Sicarian Empire after the Cataclysm. She reported back to Cato's Grand Lieutenant, Maximon Calgus, who was in command of the war in the section of space where Forlone laid. Grand Lieutenant Calgus was a trusted aide to Emperor Sicarius, but his counterpart among the Nova Legion, Marcellius Agon, was causing him much grief in his campaigns. Maximon, unsure of this spy Astartes group's intentions, sent her back out with a frigate dubbed the Far Traveler and a dispatchment of ten Space Marines of the Iron Snakes, Pythas Squad.
 
The race was on, find and interrogate -- or kill, if options are exhausted -- the mystery Astartes squad before they could kick off plans. Through a series of spy rings, Chrisma had discovered that the mysterious unmarked Astartes had slipped, and had revealed themselves to be at Gerthronis II, a planet still within Grand Lieutenant Calgus' purview to attack, though she kept the information between herself and her squad. The frigate appeared from the Warp in the midst of a bloody battle. Cursing herself for not telling Calgus her plan, the frigate's stressed but capable Captain Hathers flew the Far Traveler through the battle far beyond their paygrade. With nothing beyond a failed Nova Legion bomber's parting gift and a few lucky lance shots, the frigate was relatively unscathed and arrived to the surface.
 
Working their way through the battle, the Sicarian intelligence officer and her Iron Snakes retinue went to the mystery marines' reported location. At that moment, they had appeared, using excessive disruptive grenades and light scrapcode to disrupt their helmets. With only one per squad dying, the mysterious Astartes disappeared, and to Pythas Squad's dismay, so too did Chrisma Wox.
 
She awoke some time later, revealed to a deep and unassuming underground base. Though the Astartes who greeted her wore the stark grey and unknown black, the rest of his squad wore Dark Angels armor sets. The two discussed for some time, asking her to stay there while they left, as if they were friends or superior officers. As they did, she did not cooperate and exited the base shortly after with ease.
 
------------------
Marcellius Agon oversaw his forces' movements with his own eyes atop his Land Raider, surrounded by a Rhino and Chimera convoy. The smoldering wrecks of Sicarian Predator Tanks, Hydra Mobile AA, and more gave him great pleasure. It was a good sight to see the foes he so desperately despised dead. As the Land Raider's treads crunched an Ultramarine underneath, it halted its advance as four Dark Angels approached from behind. "Ah!" he shouted with an air of friendship. "Its good to see Uziel came to his senses and joined the side destined for victory. Under the joint leadership of Roboute and your Supreme Grand Master, Cato Sicarius will be crushed like the heretic bastard he is."
 
Then a bolt shell, and then another, and then another. Marcellius looked to his torso, mangled and pouring blood and tarnished innards. He looked up at the Dark Angel in lead, his bolter still smoldering as other Astartes and Nova Legion guardsmen came to return fire. Marcellius was put down by another quick boltshell before three Thunderhawks passed overhead, letting loose a hail of krak missiles onto its foes. Only the Land Raider emerged undefeated, and by the time it was prepared to return fire, the squad of Dark Angels and their air support were long gone.
-------------------
With the assassination of Marcellius Agon complete, Maximon Calgus swiftly reversed the tide of war, pushing the Legion out of four whole worlds in five years, the citizens pleased to have their true rulers back. Chrisma Wox explained the situation to Calgus, the truth or lie that the Astartes had told her, and both opted to keep the situation secret. Upon leaving the room, Wox retrieved a trinket that she had been given, a metallic reptile scale...
 
Across the galaxy, the squad leader of the odd Space Marines knelt before a massive monitor. The monitor flashed to life, displaying the face of Sapphon of the old Dark Angels, a Night Lord, and a Word Bearer. "We have slain Marcellius Agon under the guise of the Lion's sons. Their forced joining with the Sicarian Empire is inevitable. With the old Ultramarine's empire on the backfoot and projected looser of the war, the Dark Angels will follow them to the grave."

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#32
Bruce Malcom

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Gaius Tibon looked around his wounded lying body and saw dead tanks and their crew, smeared into the rockcrete and once-glistening pearl pillars. Beside him, his Squad Sergeant was sprawled out, a large portion of his head torn apart by a well-placed bolt shell. The stepping sounds of ceramite boots grew louder and louder, until one collided with his helm, sending him from his belly to his back, still thrown onto the floor. He was a soldier of the Ultramarines' 7th Great Company, under the command of Great Lieutenant Maximon Calgus.
 
His boltgun was beside him, but his arms stored no power and his twin hearts struggled to beat. His lungs were punctured, each breath one of his last. He tried to push himself up, to stand for the Lord Sicarius, but he was pushed back to the rockcrete and strewn ceramite of broken power armor by his foe's goliath leg. He was colored in the pattern of the Nova Legion, once trusted battle-brothers heralded as one of the sorely missed among the halls of Holy Macragge, now fought against in a war of survival. It was a tragedy, that if peace could be brokered they could reclaim the galaxy together.
 
"How does it feel, traitor?" the Nova Legionnaire asked. "To desecrate the ideals of our Primogenitor and live in the squalor of your actions?" Gaius looked into the sky and saw Nova Legion interceptors fly overhead, with their reinforcements raining from the sky in drop pods. He heard cheering, and the chants of their damned Legion. The rolling of tank treads and the marching of guardsmen platoons echoed through the canyons of steel and industry.
 
Through his near-broken helm Gaius stared the Legionnaire in the face as his fingers found the edge of a chainsword hilt. "Like victory," he replied simply, driving the chainsword into his brother's stomach, between the metal plates which would've saved his life. He revved its motors, and the adamantium teeth at at his intestines, ripping them out in a violent fashion as a fountain of blood and bile flowed from the corpse onto Gaius' scarred and half-ruined blue power armor. With a shout of anger and a scream of pain mixed in a single terrible two seconds, the other Astartes raised their bolters and fired, turning Gaius into yet another corpse, but not before he drove his chain weapon upwards, tearing apart the Nova Legionnaire's ribcage, lungs and hearts. The Legionnaire was dead, and Gaius died euphoric.
 
-------------------------
They had survived, for so long. A little colony, glimmering on the edge of nothingness. The greenskins were bogeymen now, and they thought that the God-Emperor ascended into heaven after his earthly duties were done, slaying the Four Devils and all their evils. They had reached so many heights, and even this one planet had amassed a history and a list of successes. They had four ships in orbit of their world, a Lunar Cruiser and three escort ships. They thought with their PDF and their small fleet that no horrors from the stilled galaxy would come for them. Oh no, the God-Emperor watched them, as he always had and always will.
 
Then came the great ship. It was far larger than even their entire fleet combined, and it had unleashed unholy fire on them. In but a single minute, their hopes of survival was crushed as the wreckage of two hundred years' work came crashing down into the planet below. After the catastrophic sea of dust and ash flooded the world, then came the void-devils. Dropships settled onto the world, and outstepped mechanical horrors and benign, inhuman terrors weaved of human flesh and metal. Their leaders, terrible messes of mechandentrites and the machine gone too far. Their mere presence corrupted the voxes of PDF soldiers and civilian vox-boxes. Interrupting the foreboding emergency broadcasts was a mockery of Low Gothic, ran through a dozen synthetic vocalizers. [LET GO OF YOUR UNWIEDLY FLESH, SHED YOUR EMOTIONS AND BONES AND JOIN US IN THE HEAVEN OF SYNETHIC IMMORTALITY.]
 
For ten days this hell descended upon the human colony. By the time the devils of metal and mechanization left, there were few humans left, a scattered dozen thousand out of the wreckage of ten million. Yet those left alive to fight, rebuild and build their numbers back up were luckier than those taken. For grueling months they would wait in their cells, kept alive by tubes of pure white paste and just enough water to keep their hearts beating and lungs moving. Measured to be so, like an emotionless machine planning the bare minimum diet for a human creature. They would wait their turn as bipedal machines walked by their cells, taking steps underneath their dirty and worn white cloaks, with an odd texture about them.
 
For antagonizing hours, days and weeks they wondered what xenos monsters they faced. How to escape their draconian cells. But no answers came. The people in the cells started as citizens, workers, administrators, soldiers. Now, by the turn of the second month, all were merely human shells. And then that was when they were taken from their cold grey boxes and dragged without resistance through the bleak hallways. Vague religious murals and sigils were stamped onto the industrial walls and were bumps against their feet and knees as they were dragged across grated flooring, their legs no longer wanting to walk. Such depictions of faith to the machine rekindled one man's faith.
 
"God-Emperor..." he rasped. "Protect me..." but the mechanized drones ignored their cries. Either they were too machine to care, or they had heard it so many times before. When the inmate had reached his destination, his looked in awe and horror at their surroundings. The room was great and large, the size of a large village. A swath of land was layers of skin growing white hair, there was a massive plasmatic generator with work servitors tied to the walls of it, the edges of their flesh burning and crisping with the heat, the heatsinks streamlined to accommodate steel but no flesh. Yet the true terror was that of the large machinery directly ahead. It seemed to be a sort of house, with a clear entryway, but everything beside it looked morbid and gothic, both slathered with the words of holy men and over-mechanized, like a shrine more than a piece of technology.
 
If one looked far enough, they could see repetitions of the place, exact replicas in a massive grid of ritualistic engineering. He did, and shuttered. The occasional scream echoed throughout the grid-structure, and the ever-present hum of industry whirred in the background. Suddenly, a being appeared from the shrine-machine, clad in the same odd white cloak as the guards. "[HUMAN]," it vocalized, none of its form truly human. It was a dark orgy of augmentations and cybernetic limbs, like a haphazard collage of robotic arms and claws. Yet it had a face, made from glass and steel. Half looked aesthetically female, and the other was skull and augmented eye. A halo of inert steel and small half-circle lights decorated its cloaked head. "[WELCOME TO FORGE WORLD METALICA. WELCOME TO HEAVEN.]"
 
The guards pushed him forward, their guns to his back. He resisted, of course, as another scream ripped through the world. But he failed. Into the chamber he went, and the machines went to work. Unit 0759-003-4850-X stepped out of the Biomechanization Chamber in Gridpoint 21. The unit turned its head without emote or shiver, and scanned its surroundings. It was once something else. It was once weak flesh. It was once human. Yet it was now immortal. It was now an angel in heaven. It thanked its god, the Machine God, and the Omnissiah, the Fabricator-General, for such blessings. Clad in its newly given cloak and armed with galvanic rifle, the unit left to report to its designated marshal for the next planet raid.

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#33
Bruce Malcom

Bruce Malcom

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Part Thirteen - The New Gods And The True Hope
 
The Blood Angels' campaign to exterminate the Blood Cults had taken them to near the planet of Krieg, and in the lands of the Holy Clergy and Bile Trade Empire. Their cold war was none of the Blood Angels' concern, as usual, but the Chapter was not unacquainted with either. The Blood Angels had often clashed with the Bile Trade Empire, ending corrupt nobles who sought to profit off the suffering of the common man, which was unwanted for the Blood Angels as they had tried to expand their trade routes to the Blood Angels' recruiting worlds. Though many chapters fractured and fell from grace, the Angels of Remembered Baal were pure and united, and remembered the Long War well enough to know where the righteous fallen Imperium stood on Fabius Bile.
 
Likewise, the Clergy were too...traditional for the Angels' taste. The Sons of Sangiunius were no stranger to traditions, of course -- they were still a Chapter of Space Marines after all, but the remnants of the Ecclesiarchy were scarcely better than the traitors condemned. It was no surprise that men and women chose Fabius Bile, Huron Blackheart and many more to lead them over the pieces of the Imperium left over if this was the salvation offered. Below was a mess of churches built from wreckage and stolen goods, with ancient spires of religious iconography granting haven from the squalor of below to those with power and clout.
 
When the Baal's Fury first arrived over the Shrine-World of Autumnspring V, once nearly damned to the Warp but saved by heroes forgotten to time, Chapter-Master Antonello Hashmata and his Space Marines were offered guest rooms in the great towering spires, but the Astartes politely refused and stayed in their ship. Hashmata and a small group of Astartes including Foltor Ambrogio even departed to the world's inner grimy depths, finding an inn dug into the side of an abandoned temple. They gave food and water to all those staying in its rooms, and told them hearty stories of the wars they had fought in, but took care to not mention the Noble House they hunted.
 
Yet despite this, a few of the people staying at the inn took note of Foltor's family name and brought up the Planetary-Governor, who shared it. A feeling of horror washed over the Astartes before a team of twenty mercenaries marked with the sigil of the Blood Cult burst into the room. Easily dispatching such meager assassins, the Chapter-Master and his retinue returned to the ship, drawing a plan of attack. Hashmata would contact the local contingent of Black Templars, telling them of their plights and transferring information about the Blood Cults.
 
With a zealous fury rarely seen since the sacrifice of the Emperor, the Templars were engulfed in hatred and immediately moved to more than arrest Planetary-Governor Ambrogio. But the ten Astartes were met only by laughter and a number of Sororitas guards three times their number. The battle was swift but brutal, leaving no Templar standing and only a few Sisters, but the Governor was untouched. For a century he had sat in power of this world, waiting for the Blood Angels to find him. Using his connections and power he, by the order of the man who's legacy he wished to replace with the Elder Lord's, he declared the Blood Angels corrupted by the hardships of the Age After and traitors to the Emperor for hunting and burning his loyal across the galaxy.
 
Using the myraid of disowned and cut off portions of the Angels of Remembered Baal's terrible actions as proof against the primary chapter, the sector's holy rulers and powerful officers agreed. It was a flimsy excuse, easy to see through with any true scrutiny, but the Blood Cultist's money was plentiful and good enough. They all sought to twist the war for their own profit regardless, and the psyker powers of the Planetary-Governor weaving their thoughts didn't hurt his chances either. Indeed, the warding ways of the old guard, one of the few benefits of the Imperial Creed, was lost to time and thus their minds were his to manipulate.
 
The Blood Angels were ambushed by a new breed of traitors, and the terror of the ramifications froze the Astartes' blood. Their battle-barge and escort fleet held back the tide of traitors long enough to flee, to begin a new plan. Yet one had already sprung for them, one that would help them in their war against rising Chaos...
 
Despite the Blood Cult's preparation and power gained through a century of work and millennia of preparation, most of the Holy Clergy remained faithful to the Emperor Ascended. Namely, the High Marshall of the Black Templars, Roganz Amardeas and Sepherais Kane, Canoness of the Order of the Blooming Rose. During the time of strife the Bishop-Lords of the Holy Clergy quickly dispatched their forces to deal with the threat of subverted faith before it grew out of their control. The Holy Clergy had control of multiple sectors of space, but the one judged fallen was the Amerikon Sector, within Segmentum Tempestus.
 
This was the final act of the Bishop-Lords, for days after Roganz and Sepherais were sent off they turned on each with inquisitive intent and soon old grudges and bickering turned into internal strife until there was one Bishop-Lord left. His name was Kanusten von Ripoll. He had begun his life as a simple man of the church, a menial in its grand halls some eight hundred years prior. And for all that time, he never felt as close to his lord as the day he was gifted an ornament and rather draconic sword from a distant priest. Though it would've no substitution for tithe, something about the relic screamed a layer of holiness, and Kanusten accepted the gift as the truest tithe to pay, a connection to his lord.
 
The sword had sat on his hip as he gave the order to have the second-to-last Bishop-Lord executed for treason against the Holy Clergy, and as he had fulfilled his task he felt a breeze of pleasant air rush over him, like the briefest touch from his lord. It made the blood run.
 
-----------------------
"Our thoughts light the Darkness that others may cross space.
We are one with the Emperor, our souls are joined in his will.
Praise the Emperor whose sacrifice is life as ours is death.
Hail his name the Master of Humanity."
 
The Black Templars and the Order of the Blooming Rose were death itself. Though the Holy Clergy was in a war with itself, with all the losses and terror involved, neither the Templars nor the Order were to be stopped. World after world were aflame to the handle of their sword, their lance batteries and the gaze of their God-Emperor. Those judged faithful sent a portion of their men to rally with the militant force and thus the Amerikon Crusade truly began. A thousand Templars, five thousand Sisters, and some twenty million men aboard dozens of powerful warships sailed the stars, reclaiming each world for the God-Emperor. It was like a glimpse into the olden days, with the hatred of the Old Imperium led by its most zealous against the traitors and heretics.
 
The first sign of greater danger came on the world of Desterro II. It was a world entrenched in heresy, its peoples entirely converted to the old faiths of Chaos. With Bile Trade Empire assets in-system as well as those of the Phoenix Imperialis, the old bands of blasphemers had come together it seemed. It was here that the Amerikon Crusade stalled, with traitor forces being too heavy to stomp over like the majority of worlds. But the centralization of enemy forces pointed to one point in particular, a defiled Imperial palace used by the local planetary-governor, who had been overthrown and executed a week before the Templars' assault. Roganz Amardeas himself was deployed to the surface of the world, clad in ancient Cataprachii, thought to be the last of its kind. In his other hand was a Thunder Hammer dubbed the Judgement of the Damned. He was beyond even the Long War veterans' capability to kill, moving with the swiftness of thunder and the strength of mountains.
 
Yet he was halted when he saw the imposing, famed figure of Lucius, Captain of the Emperor's Children. He seemed cold, non-present and he did little to toy with his opponent. The promised bravado of Lucius was lacking and his leadership was compromised, basic. Yet the torch-bearer of Sigmisund's legacy was focused, angry and like a spirit of vengeance. "I will bring your head back to the Bishop-Lords of the Clergy, and the Emperor Ascended shall grant me a pathway to His sanctum for slaying an arch-traitor like you!" Roganz growled through gritted teeth as he brought his relic hammer down, but Lucius was faster than the Terminator-clad High Marshall. The weapon broke the ground before him, shattering chiseled stone with enough force to crack a tank of the Adeptus Astartes.
 
Yet the High Marshall kept pushing forward, his footsteps leaving the sign of the Aquila smashed into the ground. He kept swinging, and swinging, and Lucius' sword bounced meagerly off the plate, Lucius' uninterested and lackluster performance confusing even Roganz. Finally a blow from Judgement fractured Lucius' pristine and perfect Mark IV plate from the right, sending bone and ceramite out the left. Lucius crumpled to the ground, coughing and wheezing like an ancient man who's years were long spent. Roganz raised his hammer to strike again, to finish the blow, but he spoke first. "Ahh...well, the Bishop-Lords will make due with a torso, I think!" he laughed in triumph, before a burst of Warp energy came from the center of the palace.
 
Like an eruption of forgotten evils and ancient power, a portal to the defunct Realm of Chaos opened. Out of it came squad after squad of Word Bearers, a thought-destroyed Traitor Legion, and another, far larger beast. It was the Daemon Lord, the Eldest of House Ambrogio. "These cretins, foolish mongrels who hold onto dead gods in the vain hope of salvation..." it spoke with an eldritch, inhuman tone. "What I offer is true! It is power, distilled into malleable form. I have warred against the dead Imperium's remnants, and in my expulsion I have forged new warriors to reinforce and empower our campaigns for the Primordial Truth. They are my Crimson Champions, and they shall know no defeat..." the thing chuckled madly to itself as further portals ripped open. Great and large beings with terrible daemon swords, they resembled the Adeptus Astartes to a vague degree yet were utterly opposite, crude and disturbed daemon flesh. Incomplete.
 
Roganz turned and held his hammer menacingly, in defiance of the beast. He looked it directly in the eye and grimaced. "There is no truth but the truth of the God-Emperor's word, filth. And if you will not accept it on your own accord, then I shall enforce it in his name!"
----------------------
There was a secondary goal of the Amerikon Crusade, one Sepherais Kane had been sent off to accomplish while Roganz waged war groundside. During the first hours of the conflict, the first victims of the traitors were the Blood Angels. They were an ancient Space Marine Chapter, well respected and well equipped, and their loyalties were nothing if not concrete. Yet travel to the center of heresy where the Angels of Remembered Baal would be next to waging another war, for the heretics' pre-planning was on full display. Planetary Defense Stations with macrobatteries and lance batteries attached made going near the world like devastation already, to say nothing of traitor warships.
 
The return to form for this section of the galaxy was startling, and it was the knowledge that failure meant further cataclysm that drove Kane and her forces arguably more than her faith. Like a hero of yore, the Canoness sailed through the Warp with her fleet into the space between stars near Autumnspring, where the Angels were presumed to be. After two days of searching, the Blood Angels were found. Though nearly a quarter of their fleet was damaged beyond combat-readiness, a large portion of their fleet including the Baal's Fury was prepared to strike back at the traitors.
 
With reinforcements acquired and with the mission accomplished, Sepherais Kane's forces departed back to Desterro II. Upon their arrival, the Blood Angels and the Order of the Blooming Rose were more than enough to turn the tides of battle for void supremacy. Though the Crusade's forces there were weary and thin, so were the traitors, and such an influx of Clergy forces sealed the traitors' fate in space. Yet when the Templars on the ground reported the dire situation to Sepherais, the Canoness and Antonello Hashmata deployed to the surface with their most trusted of warriors as escort and nearly all the rest of their ground forces in tow.
-----------------------
Roganz was losing, that much was true. He was swatted away by the Eldest Lord in a streak of Warpflame, sprawling him upon the ritualistic marble floor. The ancient Cataprachii plate kept him intact, but the foe in front of him was like a dark demi-god, reminiscent of the lords of evil from the Age of the Imperium and the Heresy. Yet Roganz still drew breath and he rose to his feet, Judgement in one hand and a Storm Bolter in the other. One of its vile mockeries of the Astartes charged him, and with a burst of boltfire it fell to the ground, melting away back into the immaterium. He charged the Eldest Lord again, screaming oaths of piety to the God-Emperor as he swung, the hammerhead striking the jaw of the terrible Greater Daemon. It stumbled back, and it shimmered, blinking in and out of the materium. Roganz tried again, but his hammer was deflected by the Eldest Lord's daemonic claw.
 
The High Marshall was tossed back, before the Eldest Charge dashed forth, harshly finishing its own foe. The protective power of the ancient Terminator Armor was holding against the forbidden powers of the Eldest, but it would not hold forever. Taking the opportunity presented, he slammed Judgement into its core, pushing the beast off him, and he spared a thought to wonder if the warp-beasts of yore were harder or easier to kill. More Crimson Champions and Word Bearers came from the tear into the Warp, and they were more than rested, while the High Marshall's breath was labored and his eyes drooped.
 
He retrieved the Storm Bolter at his side and gunned down another of the lesser daemons, before a chainsword struck his helm. Its teeth could not hope to cut through Cataprachii plate, but the force of the blow caught the High Marshall off-guard. Another Word Bearer unloaded its boltgun, forged during the distant days of the Great Crusade, into his head and right shoulder, doing nothing but scarring his armor a dusty black. Yet it was the Eldest that did the most damage, letting forth a plume of warpflame onto the Templar, nearly throwing him out of the palace. Roganz struggled to stand and for once failed. How could this be? Has the Immaterium recovered from the Emperor Ascendant? Have the Ruinous Powers regrouped and reformed to wage war on us once more? We are not the Imperium, we are not a unified people, we could not survive such an attack...
 
His dreadful thoughts were quenched by his allies finally arriving, the Canoness Kane and the Master of the Blood Angels entering the room to do what he could not. The Eldest snarled at the Chapter-Master, remembering their last meeting. "There shall be no battle-brother entrenched in ancient curses to save you now, Blood Angel...I shall indulge greatly drinking the spirit-ichor from your bleeding soul!" The Eldest howled, wings of bone and inky shadow bursting from its back as the blood spilt across the world fueled his nearing ascension.
 
The Canoness struck first, letting loose the power of an Inferno Pistol as she closed the distance. The purifying ray of flame stung the Eldest Lord, moving its deflecting claw back as she cut his infernal hide with her thrice-blessed relic blade, spilling deep crimson ichor as her swipe's arc concluded. Before the Eldest could return a strike, Antonello of the Blood Angels leapt forth with his own sword, the blade which helped to banish the beast once before. Though it was master-crafted and wielded by a master of the blade, the effect of the weapon was unexpected. Where it struck, flame spewed and the Eldest recoiled in pain, and it seemed as if the weapon and the daemon had forever been tied as bane and victim by the pain it had inflicted in the daemon's formation.
 
With the intervention of a Blood Angels Techmarine, the High Marshall's damaged armor was returned to functionality and Roganz stood again. Yet Crimson Champions were rushing to aide their infernal master, and the Black Templar would not allow such minions to save their dark ruler from the damnation he so rightfully deserved. With faith and fury the lesser daemons were reduced to immaterial ichor and irreparably mangled hell flesh. The clouds above thundered and spewed lightning as the fighting outside only intensified, and victory only seemed to grow more vital to both sides as the battle went on.
 
After nearly a dozen minutes of combat, Antonello was exhausted and heavily wounded, and Kane was no better. Roganz could barely stem the tide of traitors from breaching into the palace to save the Eldest, and it seemed the battle was to be lost. Yet through all the carnage, one Space Marine had cleaved a path through the hate and doom of the forces of Chaos rising, an Angel of Remembered Baal with a powerful lascannon on his back. Covered by Baal Predators and Exorcist Battle Tanks and flanked by his valiant Tactical Squad, the Astartes made it to the palace. With the rest of the squad dispatched to help Roganz secure the entrance, the Space Marine approached the Greater Daemon.
 
"Ah...my youngest descendant. You have grown gluttonous off the power foolishly given to you by the Sons of dead Sangunius. Shall you join in me in ascension, as my champion of my forces and son of the new God of Blood and War?" the Eldest Lord asked, magic and strength echoing through his voice.
 
"I am Foltor Ambrogio, Blood Angel of Remembered Baal and Son of Sangunius. If I am to die today, I am to die in service of the Emperor's will," the Astartes told the Eldest Lord as he let rip his lascannon. A red beam of death struck the Eldest Lord with enough force to shatter Imperial tanks and melt Power Armor, and with another six seconds, he was struck again with the same force. Upon the third shot, the Eldest Lord screamed in pain as the immaterium grabbed hold of his crumbling body and dragged it back into the Realm of Chaos.
-------------------------
After a slow week of campaigning, the world of Desterro II had been officially cleansed, the surface burnt to ash and its inhabitants slaughtered down to nothing. The Blood Angels decided to stay with the Crusade, opting to continue to fight those who wished to see the return of Chaos. It was obvious that whatever dark powers still remained in the once grand Realm of Chaos still brewed and stirred, searching for a new leader. The fact it had not been dried up by the burning presence of the Emperor Ascendant was a heavy weight on the mind of Roganz, but such thoughts were kept to himself.
 
It would be another month of crusading until a standstill was met. The Holy Clergy's manpower was spent, and the forceful removal of the last Bishop-Lord only drove more discord and strife into the populace. Dark winter befell the capital world of Lectern III, as if an omen of times to come. The Holy Clergy as an organization was all but dead, but the worlds where they operated were far from it. The evils of the Sanguine Imperium, the culmination of the Blood Cult's work around Autumnspring, had nearly shattered the alliance and faith of many of those worlds, but they held fast in the face of the Great Enemy's return.
 
Through a quick and decisive operation, an elite force from the Sanguine Imperium had retrieved the sword from Kanusten's grave. The Permalum Talon, a powerful relic of Khorne co-opted for a new Warp Entity, it was given to Planetary-Governor Ambrogio and he felt a connection to his grandfather, so sweet and powerful...it made the blood run.

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