"Enter", said the robed figure, seated within his chambers.
The heavy, Ferrum doors to the figure's private chambers slid open soundlessly upon well lubricated bearings. A broad shouldered, heavily armoured form entered the room, closing the door behind him.
"You summoned me, Janus?" he intoned, after a pause.
"Please. You know I have never fully accepted that name, brother." Replied the seated robed figure, his face seeming to flicker briefly, as it often appeared to when vexed.
"It's the name by which your brothers and I know you. The name by which you've forged your identity with us."
"You know my true name, the name which was bequeathed to me by the Ra-Kesh, my people. I would have you use it when we are in private"
"The Ra-Kesh aren't your people, brother. They're condemned. And that was a lifetime ago, Janus. You have been known as 'Janus' for far longer now than you ever were as 'Zimeon'"
The one known as "Janus" sighed.
"Are you aware that "father" named me for the project which created me? Project "Janus"? In all the years while I was confined, among all the tomes which he left me to read in that vast library, was the dossier for that very project. He didn't even try to conceal it from me. I believe that's all I was to him; a project", rejoined Janus.
"He loves you, brother. He loves us all, in his own way. And yes, you were, and are, a "project"; we all are".
Janus sighed, his features of his face once more swimming. He was at once, present, and not present. Real, but unreal. Out of Phase. "...You are right, of course. And yet, even among us, I am unique. A unique "project". My mind, my body; they are everywhere. Here. There. In this reality and all realities. Of all my brothers, you have always come closest to understanding this."
"I know. I've forged strong bonds with many of our brothers, it's true. I've tried to form links with all of them. Yet none stronger than the links binding you and I. After the start that we had together, I never would've credited it. Really" replied the heavily armoured figure with a a wry half-smile.
"Darius, my brother. Your honest, humble, impartial friendship has ever been my strength." Smiled Janus, his visage stabilising for a moment. "Do you remember, all those years ago, when we were found?"
"How could I ever forget?" Laughed Darius. "My boot was across your throat when He appeared"
"I believe my blade was pressed against your Femoral Artery at the same time", laughed Janus in turn. "And how far have we come since then, when we were mortal enemies?"
"We've come a long way, brother."
"Indeed. I can still recall the look of surprise on His face when he realised that he had found not one, but two of his sons, and in deadly earnest combat, no less!" I have never seen that look again, not since then. But, with twenty scattered sons, was it so hard to believe that some would be enemies? He could, nonetheless, accept this. But as for my people, the Ra'Kesh..." Janus shook his head "He was never going to accept them."
"They're abhuman, Janus. He had no choice."
"They are Human, Darius" Rejoined Janus, hotly. "I, Janus Zimeon Y'Dreq, assert it. Minor Genetic differences aside, they are the same as other Humans"
"You always were one for dramatics, Janus. Very well, if you, closest of my brothers, assert as such, then I, Darius GreatArmour, concede the point"
To underscore this, Darius bowed.
"I sense that this is why you summoned me?"
"It is, brother. The Ra-Kesh are dying. They are, as we speak, being ground beneath the Imperium's boot. Fourteen worlds against hundreds of thousands. It is no contest. I...I cannot allow it. For all their warlike nature, they are innocent. They do not deserve this fate."
"Have a care, Janus!" Hissed Darius urgently. "You know as well as I do that Father has a way of knowing things that pass between His sons!"
"Almost all of his sons", corrected Janus, raising a finger. "There have been many occasions when He has failed to see our minds, our thoughts. He cannot see them now. We would have known of it. I know why he cannot always see mine. As for you? Who knows? Perhaps your close associations with me have somehow altered your mind?"
"You're right", sighed Darius, after a pause. "But mark me, Janus, I'm uncomfortable speaking of Father and His works in this way. He's infallible."
"Father is no God, Darius. He is ancient beyond reckoning, to be sure. But He is not infallible. In his eradication of the Ra-Kesh, He is wrong."
"And why are you telling me this, my brother?"
"I would have you help me. I have my own Legion. But The Faceless cannot stand alone. I need you. I need your Steel Hearts. I need your connections. Most importantly, I need your luck!"
"You ask much, Janus. I won't war against my brothers. Or against my father."
"I have not asked you to do so. What I intend will not spill any more blood beyond what is already being spilled. The Imperium does not need the Ra-Keshi empire. It has no right to it. Fear not, all will be well. Of this, you have my word. Will you hear me, Darius?"
Darius was silent for a long time.
Then, he answered.
Edited by -SkullHead-, 05 December 2020 - 12:50 AM.