“Purity by fire!”
+Standard Battle Brother of the Conflagrators+
+Veteran Kindleus of the First Company, art by Blazbaros.+
n the verge of censure for many centuries, the Conflagrators often disregard collateral damage when prosecuting an assault - especially when fire is involved. The use of flame weaponry is common amongst Astartes of the Conflagrators - veterans notably bearing them at every given opportunity. Flame motifs are also common in the Conflagrators, varying from small icons to alterations to the heraldry borne on a brother's battle plate.
Created from Salamander gene-seed, the Conflagrators take an uncanny pleasure at watching flames, utilising them for ceremonies and warfare with aplomb. Woe betide any enemy captured by a Conflagrator for they are known to burn their prisoners at the stake. Bearing little resemblance to their primogenitors besides their love of the flame, the Chapter owes more of it's culture to its homeworld than it's parent Chapter.
The world that the Conflagrators call home is an industrialised planet with theocratic rulers. Named Cardinalis, it was settled by a colony convoy bearing devotees of the Red Redemption during the first wave of colonisers. Little wonder it is that the Chapter is itself highly religious in comparison to other Chapters. They perceive the Emperor as divine and care naught for other interpretations of Him. Of their interactions with the natives of Cardinalis, the Conflagrators select appropriate candidates for gene-seed implantation and take their leave. They often choose to have nothing more to do with these faithful, preferring to maintain solitude within their fortress monastery.
Although the Chapter can be the most steadfast of allies, many relationships with other Imperial agencies - and indeed other Chapters - are bitter with acrimony and resentment. For some, it is because of the mercurial, arrogant attitude they have, for others it is the disregard they hold for orders issued by any other than an Astartes. The few they do consider friend are backed to the hilt when the need arises. They do not forget allies easily.
Of all the Liberite Chapters, the Conflagrators are one of the least liked. They have rarely been considered for theatre command if other options are available. This has gone down badly with the chapter at large and they often only attend Liberite Conclaves out of duty and nothing else. A typical Conflagrator is pious and sincere but they also tend to be bitter and intractable. This brittle nature handled correctly can bring a powerful vanguard force to an Imperial army.
Defenders of the Nikaea Edict
Much like other notable Chapters, the Conflagrators still adhere to the Nikaea Edict, laid down during the Great Crusade. Thus the Chapter does not recruit psykers and therefore has no Librarius. In its absence the Chaplains of the Chapter have taken on the duty of maintaining the Chapter's data-vaults, and vigorously strive not only to maintain the spiritual purity of the Chapter but also work to weed out brothers who exhibit nascent powers for whatever reason. Those that are found to be impure face one of two fates - either the indignity of lobotomisation and servitude or the abrupt and succinct bolt round to the skull.
s with much of the Conflagrators' thinking, the Chapter's organisation leans toward orthodoxy, holding the Codex Astartes in reasonably high regard. They have the usual ten companies and the usual disposition amongst their brotherhood. However, the Chapter does not have a Librarius and has an instituted system of loyalty and faith, with members of this system known as 'the Devoted'.
In truth the Conflagrators owe little of their character to their primogenitors - the Salamanders. They do not share the more humanitarian aspects of the Salamanders' demeanour nor do they tolerate psykers beyond navigators and astropaths, and even these necessary evils are barely countenanced. Short of genetic heritage, an outside observer could be forgiven for believing the Chapter comes from different stock. It is interesting to note, however, the curious similarity of a Chapter Cult. Where the Salamanders have the Promethean Cult, the Conflagrators have 'the Devoted'.
Being a Chapter that adheres to Imperial Creed very closely, even fanatically at times, and recruiting from pious stock means that particular emphasis on faith and zeal permeate the strata of the Chapter. From the lowliest menials to the Chapter Master himself, all are required to make observances to the God-Emperor of mankind. As an extension of this, any of the Chapter - astartes or otherwise - can be inducted into the Devoted if they demonstrate particular piety. Once a member of the Cult, the adherents of the Creed take on the suffix 'Devotee' in addition to their official title or rank. The Chapter Master must formally eschew the suffix - he is seen as the lord and master of the Chapter, and therefore the Devoted also. To ascribe him to the Cult would be superfluous. The same is usually said of all of the senior command echelon - the High Reclusiarch and Chief Apothecary are expected to dispose of such ties.
Membership in the Devoted generally takes the form of a branding, typically on the chest or the face. The symbol itself has varied over time but in modern usage the Imperial Aquila super-imposed on a ball of flame is the official marking within the Cult. Further brandings are treated as marks of honour, for those that truly test their faith and prevail. Outward appearances on the battlefield usually take the form of symbolic white flames and aquilas over traditionally orange armour, braziers and censors adorning the Devotee and, for some, lengths of chain to represent the ties that bind them to the Emperor Himself. To the lay man, a Conflagrator brother appearing mostly in white and bearing tokens of creed is expected to be looked upon with reverence and pride for he is a living embodiment of worship and war.
The hallmarks of fanaticism are rife within the Devoted, as to be expected. Wounds are common with self-flagellation perhaps being the most common cause. Other known self-mutilations by the Devoted include scourging and scarification. It is often seen as a means to deny prideful urges or penitence for infractions, genuine or otherwise. The use of these practises are common and not hidden from anyone.
Within the Chapter itself, being a member of the Devoted does not officially influence personal standing, nor does it confer any special privileges. Unofficially, it does exactly that. Devoted members of the Conflagrators generally tend to be more outspoken than their uninitiated brethren and more likely to associate with fellow Devoted. This in turn lends the Devoted a strong say in many matters, from strategy to diplomacy (such as it is with the Conflagrators). Even when new Captains and Chapter Masters are 'impartially' chosen by the Chaplains, there have been times when piety has trumped skill, when zeal outweighed experience. One such example is Lord Hellfyre, second Chapter Master of the Conflagrators, who was selected for exactly those reasons. He had proven able as commander of the Conflagrators but ill-suited to the politics of the Liber Cluster. A more shrewd individual could have mitigated this flaw, had one been chosen.
Although the Devoted have often waxed strong within the Conflagrators, there's been occasions when they've been diminished by war or fallen out of favour in some way. These fallow periods vexed remaining Cult members, though much of the time their responses to such crises for the Devoted have been to pray, attend pilgrimages and even induct more moderate brothers in an effort to polarise their views. Sometimes this has worked, sometimes it has not. That the Cult has survived the millennia tells of the lengths the members of it have gone to in order to keep it alive.
Combat Doctrine (Contributed in part by Reyner)
" The ashen face"
As a consequence of their rituals and beliefs, many Conflagrators mark their faces before battle with charcoal or ash or pitch. Going into battle with an 'ashen face' is considered to be standard practice - not only do the individual Conflagrators embrace their pyromaniacal nature doing this, but they can use these ashen faces to intimidate their foes and present a somewhat devilish front when coupled with their crimson eyes.
he Conflagrators make heavy use of flame weaponry in their assaults and it is seen as the only true path to purity for heretics and aliens alike – the Chapter is fascinated by flame and they do not care what burns so long as their pyromaniacal bent is sated. The marines advance behind a wall of fire when they assault an enemy, chanting their litanies as they march relentlessly through the ashes of their foes. A common assault formation of the Conflagrators is a spearhead of Land Raider Redeemers occupied by Sternguard and Tactical Terminator squads – this heavily armoured strike can smash through any obstacle and burn their way through entire cities, not caring what collateral damage is inflicted in the slightest. Other Imperial forces cannot fault the Chapter for their zeal in persecuting the foes of the Imperium but their incendiary tendencies rarely leave anything left for use. Entire industrial continents have been burned to slag and ashes in the aftermath of a Conflagrators assault.
Also of note is the relative simplicity of the Conflagrators' battle plans. This is not to say that they are unprepared in the event of unforeseen consequences but that the usual response boils down to burning, slaying and praying. The Chapter's zealotry contributes well to assault and close quarters combat, as does the propensity to field flamers. It is usually not in their nature to smash armour with heavy weaponry like lascannons or grav cannons but to close with the vehicle and employ close range strikes with meltas, power fists and the like.
s descendants of the Salamanders, the Conflagrators have inherited one particular trait - their burning, red eyes. Although they do not exhibit the usual charcoal skin of their primogenitors, their eyes just as psychologically intimidating as the tactics they regularly use. To stare down a Conflagrator takes a distinct and tremendous amount of willpower, given the attitude most Conflagrators have.
The Glade of Cinders (Contributed by SanguiniusReborn)
eep beneath the Conflagrators' Fortress-Monastery lies perhaps the Chapter's holiest site, the Glade of Cinders. A vast artificial cavern built into the very bedrock of Cardinalis, the Glade is a vast cemetery filled with pyrophyte plant life, fiery braziers and marble plinths upon which sit the urns that contain the Chapter's hallowed dead, an infernal Elysium of which only a Conflagrator could conceive.
The Glade is shaped like a vast dome, it's interior divided into concentric rings between which trenches full of burning coals bathe the vast chamber in a hellish glow, the higher a marines ranks in life, the closer to the centre of the Glade he will rest. A single causeway known as the Path of Ash runs from the entrance of the Glade to it's centre, bridging the fiery moats between rings. Wide enough for an entire company to stand shoulder-to-shoulder within and lined with the charred corpses of the Chapter's greatest foes tied to the very stakes their were burnt upon, the Path is a grim testament to it's masters' holy work. Finally, at the Glade's heart the former Chapter Masters and High Reclusiarchs slumber before a colossal statue of the God-Emperor sat upon his Golden Throne, forged from the finest jewels & most precious metals and hand-crafted by the only the most skilled artisans of Cardinalis.
Between the flaming trenches, the ever-present braziers of flame and the lack of proper ventilation the Glade is mercilessly hot, with it's human groundskeepers unable to even enter without specialised environmental suits to prevent a swift death by heatstroke, meaning only the Conflagrators themselves may enter without concern. Indeed, some Battle-Brothers even use the Glade as a place of spiritual and mental succour, meditating within it's sweltering depths to focus their minds and reflect upon important events & decisions.
+Lord Hellfyre, Chapter Master of the Conflagrators+
orn without a name in an enclave far in the north of Cardinalis, the young boy learned the rules his elders lived very early on. The strict nature of the enclave and their fiery rhetoric imprinted strongly on him. Even when he was collected from the ruins of that enclave, he held to only what knew: His faith and his discipline. As a space marine of the Conflagrators, and indeed as a chapter master, these two qualities shone through even after hypno-indoctrination. Once accepted into the chapter, he took his name - Hellfyre - from the destroyed enclave. His devotion almost earned him the black armour of a chaplain but fate intervened in the Eighteen Worlds campaign, first elevating him from sergeant to captain on Zavatista, and then onwards to chapter master later.
With the death of Chapter Master Sauvius, it was by the appointment of the chaplains that the second Conflagrator chapter master was selected. Hellfyre bypassed his elder captains on faith and demeanour alone, their years of service and experience counting for nought. Hellfyre lived up to his name, earning a dire reputation in the Liber Cluster for confronting and killing those he considered heathens. He was responsible for several incidents with other Liber Chapters, finding their stance towards Goge Vandire lacking compared to the Conflagrators' own convictions.
+Lord Kandallius, Dreadnought-Master of the Conflagrators+
ord Kandallius, the direct successor to Lord Hellfyre, and Chapter Master of the Conflagrators even in death, rose to command in the years after the reign of Vandire. With Hellfyre dead at the hands of the Eridian, Kandallius led crusade after crusade through the outer reaches of the Tempest, not content to waste time until his predecessor was avenged. This was to prove a fruitless endeavour, not to mention costly, and Kandallius suffered his first death at the culmination of his eighth and last crusade on Schubert's World.
After his interment, the Dreadnought-Master focused on the very real troubles the Liber Cluster and the Conflagrators themselves were embroiled within, rather than continue to pursue purging the tainted worlds of the Tempest. Even diminished, the Chapter acquitted themselves well enough under the supervision of Kandallius. Rebuilding took many years - more than Kandallius had to live. Despite this, he even presided over the Conclave of Cardinalis, adding his personal seal to a treaty that was to bind the Chapters of the Liber ever closer in the centuries to come.
Lore and Fanfiction
The Beach of Kindred Souls
ithin the established beachhead at the local starport on Parrias Majoris, several dozen astartes formed a loose circle around the embarkation ramp of a Thunderhawk in Blackjaw Kindred colours. Reinforcements from fleet elements had been arriving for the past hour, intermingling many colours of ceramite with the already-landed orange and white of their cousins.
On one knee before the commander of the Conflagrator contingent, several newly landed Kindred intoned thanks to Dorn for arriving safely. The mutters continued, venerating Vulkan for the opportunity to work with his advocates. Captain Raldasche stood impassive and helmetless watching the ritual. His ebony-black skin and red eyes, heritage from a singular source, was the very avatar that the Kindred sought out in every meeting with the Conflagrators. Raldasche, to his credit, kept as stony-faced as he possibly could, the creed of his chapter swimming to the fore of his mind urging him to educate his guests.
The same could not be said for Chaplain-Devotee Remis, smouldering with indignation.
"Rise up, you heathens! If you are to thank anyone it is the Emperor Himself, blessed be His name. Aye, His Primarchs were mighty indeed but it is not they who safeguard your immortal souls!" The tirade was short but passionate. Remis was not known for the sort of oratory his ilk commonly displayed. He looked as if he was about to continue the rant before Raldasche cut him short, ordering the Chaplain to administer the Conflagrator host. Converting their cousins to the true creed took passion and guile, not anger and resentment. Remis stalked away, his intentions overridden purely by his Captain's seniority within the Creed.
"Go seek your brethren." Spoke Raldasche. The Kindred saluted and moved toward the largest concentration of Kindred in the Starport, a riot of colours that most orthodox codex astartes followers found quite confusing. Raucous greetings drew inquisitive glances, and the odd withering look. The Captain resolved to sermonise the host about brotherhood before operations began in earnest at dusk. Until then, there were preparations to make. Raldasche put on his helm again.
Attack on Zavatista
he following operation on the refinery-world of Zavatista Lesser was planned to consist of three phases:
This phase involved gaining orbital and air supremacy, leading onto boarding the vast refinery-ships sailing on the chem-oceans.
In this phase the Conflagrators and the Kindred were to meet and annihilate any resident Lion forces, preferably without destroying the refinery-ships. Seizure of the refinery-ships was named the overall objective.
At the insistence of the Kindred, any Imperial citizenry found during the operation will be evacuated to Kindred ships and the two mass conveyors accompanying the task force.
Little known to the Kindred, the Conflagrators drew up a fourth phase, anticipating the strategically vital Zavatista to be retaken by the Lions in the future.
Beginning on the very refinery-ships that have been liberated, the Conflagrators were to conduct a 'scorched-earth' mission. First the ships would be burned, then they would be sunk. The Conflagrators, at this point, would retire to orbit where, should any infrastructure survive, their vessels would direct orbital strikes to annihilate whatever is left. Setting the chem-oceans alight was described as "likely and unsurprising".
The reasoning behind this, as much as the Conflagrators themselves are willing to impart, is down to simple strategy: Zavatista lies deep within the Eighteen Worlds, deep enough that efforts to retake the world were entirely likely and indeed expected. Rather than tie down Imperial forces in defending a strategically important planet, it was decided to render the world unimportant for the rest of the campaign.
Astartes - 2 Chapters
- Conflagrators - 112 Astartes + mission assets
- Blackjaw Kindred - 140 Astartes + mission assets
Imperial Guard - 4 Regiments
- Muldacian 20th Heavy Infantry
- Pallias 3rd Indentured
- Rusk Mechanised Urbanite Division
- Vorden Drop Troops 'The Golden Dogs'
Estimated mission time: Ten Days.
[color=#ff8c00]+Pict Capture: Aft structure, Command Deck, Refinery-Ship Annapurna Gate on Zavatista+
In the Void
As with many Imperial operations over the course of it's history, no plan survives contact with the enemy.
Immediately upon exiting the Warp, the Imperial fleet was confronted with its first obstacle, an orbital station of unknown provenance. The Sereiki Lions fleet, consisting mainly of destroyers and picket vessels, positioned themselves in a highly aggressive formation, yet stubbornly refused to give battle, seeking to entice the Imperial forces into the range of the station's numerous defense batteries.
In response, heavier vessels of the Conflagrators and Blackjaw Kindred forged ahead of the main fleet, plowing through the blockade of lighter vessels to launch boarding torpedoes at the defense platform.
At this point, the Lions played their second trick. Several hitherto undetected ships (later determined to be local defense monitors, lacking the ability to translate into the warp but eminently suitable for these types of engagement) powered up and began approaching the bulk troop transports and assault craft carriers from behind.
While the mission briefing had indicated Zavatista would be mainly defended by Al-Rashid's Hyena elite guard, the warriors aboard these monitors were deadlier by far. Due to the importance of its promethium output to their continued operations, the Lions had stationed an allied Astartes warband, the Untaken, as a permanent garrison over the refinery world.
The monitors housing them seem to have been custom fitted for Astartes boarding operations, with their armament consisting solely of a single spine mounted heavy cannon meant to lower the target vessel's shields for the instant their Astartes contingent needed to board and gut them. The monitors and their crew would have wreaked havoc among the transports and support vessels, but one of their targets was more than it seemed. As macro cannon shots hammered into one of the gargantuan bulk transports, the entire hull broke apart, revealing the elegant lines of an Astartes Strike Cruiser in the colours of the Blackjaw Kindred. (Analysis of IFF transmissions would later identify this vessel as the Golden Hind, a ship of the Scarlet Sentinels which had been reported lost in the hrud migration over Jusendo-XV. How the Kindred acquired it is as of this time unknown.)
Facing a common and indeed effective anti-piracy tactic of the Kin, the monitors - craft designed for quick ambushes in the void - proved lamentably incapable of standing up to an enemy Strike Cruiser. Meanwhile, kill teams of Conflagrators were burning their way towards the heart of the station, as the main force of the Imperial fleet moved to engage the bulk of the Lion fleet.
With their ambush thwarted and the linchpin of their orbital defense cordon falling silent, the Untaken and Hyena commanders seem to have elected to make a stand on the planet's surface, ordering their ships to deploy all ground capable assets they possessed and flee.
In hindsight, their strategy seems to have been to hold the Imperium at bay and buy time until reinforcements from elsewhere within the Eighteen Worlds could arrive. But with the Imperial Assault Fleets hitting multiple targets in the renegade pocket empire and the Conflagrators pushing the Imperial advance forward at a murderous pace, this proved to be an impossible task.
Led by squadrons of craft in the colors of the Lions most notorious aerial units, including the bat-winged fighters of the elite Kingkillers, as well as waves of the non-Euclidean "Death Blossom" class torpedo bombers Imperial picket vessels had already learned to fear, the air-power on display gave command on the Ashmaker pause for thought. Dozens of flights launched from each city-sized ship, denying the air completely to the astartes and their allies for sixteen hours while dogfights and brutal multi-wing clashes brought dozens of craft down. The Conflagrators, not commonly known for their patience, circumvented this obstacle by launching a drop-pod assault on three of the sixteen refinery-ships of Zavatista.
Each refinery-ship, heavily armoured and thick with anti-air emplacements, brought down many of the first wave of pods. The deathwind drop pods proved largely ineffective against void shielded turrets but still mowed down dozens of defenders. The second wave came down with little better luck, the Conflagrators losing precious astartes they could ill afford to waste to the sky-trained batteries. However with marines on board, the turrets proved less effective, succumbing to melta bombs and man-portable heavy weapons one by one allowing the third wave to deploy nigh uncontested.
The Kindred followed suit, keen not to let their cousins fight unaided while the rest of the task-force waited for the skies to clear. They too launched an assault on several refinery-ships, using Land Speeders to approach their targets underneath the fire arcs of the anti-air emplacements, skimming the chem-ocean skilfully. This did come at a price - several beastmasters amongst the Lion forces called upon the denizens of the chem-oceans to defend the ships. Drawing large centipede-xenoforms to the Kindred as they approached, the beastmasters brought down a number of Speeders but fewer than they had hoped. The Kindred forced an entry near the water-line and struck from there at vital systems. Much to the admiration of their brother chapter, the Kindred forged onward despite their casualties.
Garrisoned on Zavatista was a vassal warband of astartes - The Untaken - and a sizeable contingent of the Hyenas led by a lieutenant named Skas Verrisken. Verrisken himself died in the opening hours of the engagements, thought to have died in the firestorm upon one of the three refinery-ships the Conflagrators had attacked. The Untaken, however, proved significantly harder to kill.
Unknown to the Imperial forces at the time, the appearance of these space marines threw back the assault toward the landing sites, penning in the Conflagrators and the Kindred alike. On one refinery-ship the Conflagrators were wiped out in their entirety, thirty-four Astartes brought low by a company-strength force of The Untaken. Fittingly enough, these marines were gifted a death-pyre by the vessel burning until it sank, lighting up a four-thousand square kilometre swathe of chem-ocean. Fleeing aircraft indicate the garrison and significant portion of the populace escaped the destruction of the refinery-ship, making best speed for the nearest uncontested vessel.
All of this occurred within the first day. The following week saw control of the air slowly being taken by the Imperium, craft by oil-stained craft. It was on day three that the regiments of the guard made planetfall on the remaining uncontested ships - just four of them sailed unmolested by this time. Each regiment was assigned a vessel to take and began their landings en masse, directly into the teeth of anti-air positions and the last of the Lion's airpower. As the assault continued, more and more of the defences quietened, demolition charges ruining them and making the skies safer for the following units. For each dropship destroyed or forced to land in the chem-oceans, a prayer was taken up by the Command Echelon in orbit. More than a hundred prayers sang out on the Ashmaker at the culmination of the landings.
The two surviving vessels the Conflagrators assaulted fell on day four, the structural damage and ruination of the heavy mechanics rendering them all but unusable - they were, however, in Imperial hands. Of the ships the Kindred had assailed, one had failed to fall but the four others sat dead in the water unpowered. The Kindred had struck at the Generatoria on the lowest levels, endured cramped conditions and brutal tunnel-fighting to take the objective, depriving the ships of electrical power to defend or move.
A second vessel was destroyed on day five, detonating catastrophically from within. The entire southern pole burned, marking the death-site of the Muldacian regiment. Two other ships, overtaken by the flames, sank on day seven. Emperor help whomever did not escape the slow death this brought.
On day eight, with the skies clear, interdiction runs began in earnest. Whatever enemy units and emplacements that still contested the surface of the surviving twelve refinery-ships were mercilessly gunned down or bombed asunder. With six vessels still either in enemy hands or otherwise contested, the depleted Imperial forces forged inside the four where control was challenged by Hyena and Untaken units, eager to avenge the dead.
Here The Untaken still proved a difficult foe to get to grips with but in the cramped spaces of the refinery-ships' interiors there was not enough room for manoeuvre or the usual tactics favoured by Lion forces. On the sixth day of fighting, Imperial progress was briefly shaken by the renegade Astartes deploying previously unseen Tactical Dreadnaught Armor assets, with Untaken in the relic war suits launching numerous small unit harassment strikes. Although it is doubtful the soldiers initially confronted by these shock attacks would have agreed, the coordinated offensive was ultimately a failure, with Terminator specialists among both the Kin and the Conflagrators claiming that neophytes among their Chapters could have made better use of the heavy armour. All such boasting quickly died out when it was discovered that under cover of the terror assault the bulk of the Untaken had fled the fighting, abandoning Zavatista and braving the fleet cordon in a bid to escape. Several lifters were shot down by Imperial flights but a significant portion of the group achieved orbit, commandeered a Naval destroyer and burned the engines hot for the system's edge. Any attempts to halt them failed.
Two refinery ships remained, largely undefended except for the last of the leaderless and decimated Hyenas. In the process of being assaulted by the last of the Conflagrators, the overseers, slaves and work crews surrendered unconditionally, lest they burn too. Unfortunately for them, the Conflagrators burned them anyway, steel girder stakes erected on the deck of each ship bearing two bodies each, tied back-to-back. The blackened corpses swaying in the wind offered a macabre sight to any allied units that boarded the ships afterwards, the rictus grins of the dead offering little respite to these battle-weary men.
True to plan, these ships surrendered intact began to burn. Conflagrator fire-bombs gutted the Command Centres and the Enginariums, setting ablaze the interiors and blowing out any ammunition stores the flames reached. Soon after, six more vessels burned. The refinery-ships and the chem-seas surrounding them proving untenable for Imperial forces to stay and consolidate their holdings. The Kindred, exasperated by the pyromaniacal actions of the Conflagrators, evacuated as many souls as they could from the burning ships. Kindred search teams found and disarmed each discovered fire-bomb in turn, saving the last four refinery-ships from fiery doom.
With just a quarter of the infrastructure intact at the end of the campaign and the imperial forces having suffered near to sixty percent casualties, the Conflagrators were lambasted by the surviving Naval and Guard officers for reckless endangerment of the task force. The Kindred remained conspicuously quiet. They knew the avatars of Vulkan did whatever was deemed necessary, sure of Vulkan's guiding hand. The Conflagrators, whose hand was stayed by the mere presence of the Kindred on the last ships, parted ways with the task force and returned to Cardinalis.
At the following Conclave, the Conflagrators rejected and denied assertions of careless behaviour, shouting down other advocates with reminders of the Conflagrator dead, those Kindred that had fallen in the fighting and the apparent retaking of Zavatista Lesser by Lion forces just one year later. They argued that they were justified for every action taken, every body burned and every refinery-ship sunk. Not every delegation took them for their word.
Death on the Annapurna
enerable Brother Scoria stood over the wrecked remains of a Dervish stalk tank, its engine oils and lubricants sprayed up the front of Scoria's sarcophagus. Littered here and there were the bodies of the dead, mostly Hyena strike teams interspersed with a Kodiak or two. They had fought hard for the command tower of the refinery-ship, defending it with their lives. The Venerable Brother's fellow Conflagrators had taken the fight to them with no regard for how they killed the enemy. Scoria himself hardly cared either but he recognised the importance of controlling the refinery-ship - the destroyed consoles and cogitators could have been useful.
They regrouped at the base of the command tower, three squads accompanied by Apothecary Culmer, Venerable Brother Scoria and Techmarines Sindre and Rotis. Brother Culmer had been busy after the battle, tying off a punctured artery and cauterising three separate stumps. Rotis and Sindre had planted fire-bombs at the bottom of the tower and in the fuel reserve. Capture was a secondary objective - the Conflagrators anticipated burning this hulk rather than keep it.
A single shot rang out, felling Culmer. His helmet and head disintegrated bloodily, shards of ceramite pinging noisily off of the surrounding brothers' armour. In the very instant after Culmer began to pitch over the Conflagrators were moving, their bolters rising to meet the unseen threat. Out of the shadows, from the alleys and the vents, huge volumes of fire descended on the loyal astartes. It was mostly chaff, low calibre weaponry better suited to the hands of guardsmen and militia, and it pattered harmlessly off of Scoria's chassis. Several higher grade weapons were identified and catalogued by the sensors, rated as high priority targets.
Scoria worked up speed charging down the first noted targets shifting from cover to cover, intent on catching them in the open with his inferno cannon. Their size initially registered them as Sereiki Lion auxiliaries before the venerable brother realised their true from: Astartes. He triggered the inferno cannon anyway. The enemies bathed in the fire for all of a few seconds before they crumpled and fell. Scoria felt a rush, sure in it's divine purity.
"My hand is death, my faith is fire!" He bellowed, a rocket propelled grenade striking his pelvis and wrecking his locomotive servos. This only served to further his fury. To him, they were heretics, deserving only of fire and flame. To them, he was a large immobile target. It took them several minutes to kill Venerable Brother Scoria, hitting him with grenades and poor quality missiles. He in turn accounted for seventeen of them, screaming zealous rhetoric as he immolated each and every one.
Of the rest of the Conflagrators, they were slowly taken apart by firepower and mob-rushes. It was inelegant and brutal. The enemy quickly set about purloining the dead of armour and arms, keen to loot the valuable astartes equipment. An unseen hand, Rotis' hand, activated a remote vox-link. This ship would burn.
Flames of Judgement - the fall of Naxa Secundus (Contributed by Ace Debonair)
hough many of the worlds reclaimed from the Sereiki Lions in the Eighteen Worlds Crusade were damaged badly, perhaps none suffered as much damage as Naxa Secundus and its' moon, Ogris. Naxa Secundus was a world run by crime, dominated by millions-strong gangs and the Lions' own military forces. There were no innocents - crime and violence permeated almost every aspect of Naxii life.
However, before Naxa Secundus could be dealt with, the Imperium would have to retake Ogris. Ogris was a large, barren moon that had been converted into a heavily defended and massive factorum, producing arms and armour for the Sereiki Lions' forces. Furthermore, Ogris boasted considerable orbital defences - missile grids, scatter-cannons and ground-mounted heavy lance batteries dotted the landscape, making any approach by Imperial vessels difficult. Initial attempts to claim the moon by the Imperial Guard ended disastrously, so the Space Marines were tasked with aiding in the reclamation of Ogris.
Always eager to bring the burning light of The Emperor to dark places, the Conflagrators leapt at the chance to scourge Ogris clean. Clad in the dual armours of their prized Battle Barge the Ignis Aeterna and their unbreakable faith in The Emperor, the Conflagrators' moved on Ogris without fear or hesitance. Their approach was, in part, screened by Battlefleet Elibus, which lost six vessels to Ogris' defence grid. Though tragic, it was this great sacrifice that opened the door for the Imperium to repay the debt of lives lost to the guns of Ogris. The Ignis Aeterna still suffered significant damage, losing roughly a quarter of the ship to a concentrated barrage of firepower as it drew close enough to deploy it's cargo of Space Marines. Even this damage, however, could not halt the Battle Barge, nor quell the burning fury of the Conflagrators.
The Conflagrators made landfall in spectacular fashion; drop pods and Thunderhawks alike descending on the moon with decisive, deadly swiftness, crippling gun emplacements and routing enemies with billowing waves of superheated flame. Within mere minutes the Conflagrators had deployed their Land Raider Redeemers, using them a rolling spearhead to demolish any and all attempts at resistance put up by the Lions' forces. Enemies would be creamted in waves of fire, their buildings and shelters charred into ruin and their ashes scattered to the winds. Their vengeance was absolute; the flames of their wrath burning as brightly as their flames of their inner zeal and hate.
What was left of Ogris was a blackened, desolate husk, adorned with the countless trampled and scorched skeletons of it's former defenders. Sections of the Factorum, built into the very rock of Ogris, had collapsed, leaving behind massive craters filled with the ruins of the battle and the ashes of the slain.
While the Conflagrators initiated repairs on their stricken Battle Barge and made ready to move onward, Naxa Secundus would find itself in perhaps even greater peril. Independently of the campaign plans of the Lords Inviolate, the Black Judges' Second and Fifth Companies arrived on Naxa Secundus, carrying out one of their 'prosecution campaigns' to pass judgement on this world of criminals.
Deploying on the high mountains of Naxa Secundus, the Companies of the Black Judges swept down into the planet-sprawling city below like a hammer, crushing every effort to resist their approach beneath them as they marched. Citizens and gang members of all kinds fled from the oncoming Space Marines, powerless before their wrath.
The Judges had studied Naxa Secundus for months beforehand, evaluating their crime-dominated world and weighing the actions of it's people carefully. And now they had reached their verdict: The fate of Naxa Secundus would be death, exactly as merciless and unceasing as a world with no laws deserved. However, even in this harsh sentence the Judges were not without mercy - those that chose to accept their judgement without struggle would be given a quick, clean death, and sent before The Emperor to repent their failings.
There were attempts to fight back. Gangs rallied to their leaders and attempted to halt the advance of the Black Judges, fighting with the desperation of men with everything to lose. The gangs literally numbered into the millions, and were able to bring down isolated Judges through sheer attrition despite their heavily inferior weaponry and armour. But the Black Judges would not be denied. Clad in their black cloaks, the Judges spread across the vast city as inexorably as the fall of night.
But this would not be the worst of the destruction. Having restored enough of the Ignis Aeterna to guarantee safe passage to Naxa Secundus, the Conflagrators swiftly redeployed to the sinful world, engulfing as much as they could in storms of fire.
The Black Judges had planned a more permanent fate than mere flames, however. Naxa Secundus would become an example, a warning to those who would break the laws of The Emperor and the Imperium. In several key locations, the Black Judges had set specially-constructed bombs, designed to punch holes deep into the core of Naxa Secundus and collapse sections of the planet in on itself. The Conflagrators, for their part, were simply content to reduce the world to ashes, like they had on Ogris.
When the two forces confronted each other, however, they could not agree on a course of action. The Conflagrators insisted the Judges abandon their plans and put Naxa Secundus to the flames, and the Judges were livid that another Chapter dared to question their judgement.
It is unknown if the Black Judges and the Conflagrators came to blows over this disagreement: Reports from the Black Judges indicate the Conflagrators fired on the Judges but the Conflagrators reports' deny any such thing happening. It is known, however, that the Conflagrators refused the Judges access to two of their planned bomb sites, and the Judges for their part simply returned to orbit, before detonating the bombs without any warning to the Conflagrators.
The planet underwent considerable seismic activity, and roughly a quarter of Naxa Secundus was consumed in a vast landslide. The Conflagrators' losses came to twenty-one marines, although how many of them were caused by the bomb and how many died as a result of enemy actions during the battle tends to vary from report to report.
To say the relationship between both Chapters soured drastically is to miss a perfect chance to describe the relationship between the two sides as 'allies in name only'; with both Chapters actively seeking to undermine the power, credibility and reputation of the other in the Liber Conclave for over a hundred years, all the while refusing to work together.
Kindred No More
haplain-Devotee Remis, now High Reclusiarch, had known all along those Kindred couldn't be trusted. He knew, Lord Hellfyre knew and most of the Devoted in the chapter knew. Remis briefly thought of Raldasche, long dead on Zavatista, along with his welcoming ways with the heathens too. Not only had he been wrong, he'd underestimated the Kindred. They all did. Those jackals had walked in the halls of the Conflagrators, had shared the hearth with them. Now it turned out that they were in league with a heretic and a liar.
The High Reclusiarch stalked the stone halls, quiet during the mandatory rest period. He continued to think further. They had to see the light, even if it had to be brought to them by fire and blade. Lying with a snake, even one that sat on Terra, deserved penitence and repenting. The Conflagrators had excoriated themselves raw for remaining in league with his cronies, his devils, for so long. To have the veil lifted was shocking to them, stunning even. They had been so blind to the atrocities that Vandire had perpetrated, it could hardly be believed. But no more. The Conflagrators were righteous, if nothing else. They would dismantle the false prophets holding here in the Cluster and put his loyalists to the sword.
Lord Hellfyre had agreed with everything Remis had suggested. Full mobilisation. They would even rouse the population of Cardinalis and bring them on the Crusade. Astropathic messages would be sent to those Remis knew Vandire had slighted. The ones that chafed against his rule. Not too long ago theConflagrators had derided them for their lack of faith. Now it was time to eat those words, spoken under the spell of false loyalty. They would burn the Vandirists. Whether on the field or on stakes, they would burn.
Santification Infernum Elegios Nomen XXVI
o the Conflagrators, it was merely Santification Infernum Elegios Nomen XXVI
. The Blackjaw Kindred bestowed a different title upon these events: The Time of Unshed Tears
Five full companies of Vulkan's sons, led by no less a personage than High Reclusiarch Remis himself, descended upon the Kin's fortress monastery of Vigil and demanded that the Circles present kneel before them, and surrender control of the planet, their Chapter armory, and their gene seed supply until such time as the rest of their ilk repented of the heresy of aligning with the Usurper Vandire and submitted to the Conflagrators and their allies as penance. From within the depths of the ancient xenos
fortress the Kindred claimed as their sanctuary, a stunned Patriarch Corcoran, commander of the V Circle and Factor of Vigil requested time to confer with his fellows of the VI and the VIII, claiming he could not make such a decision on his own authority. Surprisingly, Remis acquiesced to the request. Less surprisingly, he ordered a full assault via drop pod and Thunderhawk preceded by an orbital bombardment as soon as the Factor broke their hololink, stating that he saw no sin in deceiving heathens and blasphemers.
Outnumbered and stunned by the unexpected attack, neither the fortress' s labyrinthine design nor its defense emplacements were able to hold back the furious onslaught. The defenders were swept away in mere hours, either slain, taken prisoner, or fled into the green hell of the acid swamps that surrounded the wall of their fortress.
Of note is that many of the veteran Conflagrators who had fought in the 18 Worlds Crusade displayed unusual (especially considering the Chapter in question) restraint in this action, accepting the surrenders of Astartes and Chapter serfs alike and attempting to limit unnecesary damage to the bastion. However, at the spearhead of the assault, where Remis's handpicked squads stormed the enemy position...there no mercy was shown, and nothing but scorched stone and corpse ash was left in their wake.
The Factor himself was immolated alive leading a final defense of the gene seed vaults. Plasma pistols in hand, he cursed Remis's parentage and personal habits with every Conflagrator he gunned down, daring the Reclusiarch to meet him in personal combat. The Chaplain's response was simply to point the head of his crozius in Corcoran's direction and state "Squad Kindled Wrath. Light and purify."
If the Reclusiarch thought the fall of the keep was the end of his holy work he was soon disabused of this notion. Significant numbers of Kin had escaped into the wilderness, and almost immediately waging a campaign of retaliation against the invaders. In the early days, many of the actions seemed aimed at harassment and humiliation more than true bloodshed. Vehicles were sabotaged, sentries were found restrained and stripped of their armor and weapons, taunting messages were scrawled within the fortress's walls, and so on.
Remis's initial response was relatively restrained. He dispatched hunter forces of Scouts, Assault Squads, and Land Speeders to track the guerilla bands...while unleashing his heaviest firepower on the local settlements, believing it was the populace's support that was allowing the infidel filth to continue to fight on. Again, he was stymied. Vigil's fishermen and trappers dwelt in the main on ramshackle littoral vessels which were almost undetectable by orbital auspex and easily moved when located by conventional reconnaissance. And many times the purgation forces found themselves ambushed. Again, Remis had cause to order several of the officers under his command to endure mortification and flagellation for their lackadaisical approach to these encounters, which consisted of trading shots at long range until such times as the Kin faded back into the depths of the marsh, penances which they bore without complaint.
With Kindred reinforcements surely en route and the forces under his command needed elsewhere, Remis now chose to cast restraint to the wind. He had every prisoner, sacred relic, and gene seed vial gathered within the Kin's shrine to Ferrus Manus (in the heretical aspect of a snake-woman mutant) located outside the main walls, and then ordered it obliterated by lance strikes from the Conflagrators battle barge in orbit while broadcasting the holy cleansing on all channels. With this act, he succeeded in eliminating even the pretense of quarter in the clashes between his forces and the Blackjaws, who now sought to kill anything wearing Conflagrators colors they could catch.
But his hopes of enticing them into open battle were doomed to failure. Instead, the insurgency rose to a murderous intensity, with attacks on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.
In perhaps the most brutal act of retribution, warriors of the VIII Circle (which venerated Ferrus above all the Nine, and whose warriors had made up the bulk of Remis's captives) captured a force of Conflagrator Scouts and subjected them to the Breaking, a grisly fate the Kin normally reserved solely for Chaos Astartes. With their bare hands, the VIII's most skilled grapplers twisted joints and broke bones until they had crippled the neophytes beyond any hope of recovery, before using combat blades to sever the nerve connections in their neck that might have allowed implantation into a Dreadnaught or bionic limb replacement. Now incapable of ever serving in a combat role (or any other role that required the use of their limbs), the young Conflagrators were branded with the crossed serpent-and-lightning bolt sigil of the Iron Maiden and left out for a patrol to find.
With his forces being whittled away, Lord Hellfyre demanding his presence, and the full might of the Blackjaws clawing through the Warp towards him, Remus ordered a withdrawal to their ships and a second, far more intense orbital bombardment, as close to full Exterminatus as his authority would permit, before making a transit to the Warp.
But even this last spiteful act would fail to bear fruit, as tac-logicians aboard the fleet noted energy signatures highly similar to active void shields igniting on the planet below almost as soon as the bombardment began.
ith the bridge a ruin, Nauthiz sat in the command throne grimly assessing the situation. The Enginarium was gone. Most of the gun batteries were silent and many decks were open to the airless void. Condemnator
, Objurgation’s Errand
and Providence of Terra
, three of the Doomsayers’ finest destroyers, were nothing more than debris and scrap metal.
The ambush had taken them by surprise, an act that Nauthiz could not forgive himself for. His men and his brothers had died because he had neglected the possibility that Lion fleet elements could be here in Imperial territory. Neglected the fact that they were as aggressive as the Imperium was. The battle was brutal, but prolonged. They had accounted for every ship the Lions had attacked with, Sereiki ships darting from the dark side of a gas giant moon, hidden by geysers spouting from the surface. But they themselves had accounted for all of the vessels Nauthiz commanded, aside from the Awaiting Doom
It galled him to do so but the distress beacon had been deployed. Short of an astropathic mayday, which was impossible with a dead astropathic choir, it was the best means for requesting aid at his disposal. Enemy boarders had yet to take the bridge but, when they tried, they would not get it. This he vowed.
As if on cue, with cruel theatrical timing, the doors to the bridge were breached. Only Brothers Calamis and Convisia were with Nauthiz in holding back the tide – two heavily built Kodiaks led the way followed by a veritable horde of cackling Hyenas. Nauthiz knew of the Kodiaks, they matched Astartes in size and displayed considerable strength. But they were also slow, unlike the Doomsayers they faced. Calamis gutted the Kodiak he fought with, his power sword making a mockery of the heavy carapace plating the Kodiak wore. His return strike beheaded the brute. He then turned to face a pack of Hyenas.
Hyenas. Never as large as the Kodiaks but augmented in ways that often made them tougher to handle than other mortals. They were never going to best an Astartes in single combat, even when a Kodiak stood the chance to, but that wasn’t the point. They hunted in packs. Never alone and certainly not in twos or threes. Always, always packs. That was how they bested Astartes. Weight of numbers.
They killed Convisia with a thousand cuts, aiming for soft joins or damaged armour plating. He didn’t go down easily but he still died. Nauthiz felt his expression harden further, weighting the thunder hammer in his hands. He didn’t see Calamis fall but the veteran's fury had abated, falling silent even as Nauthiz engaged with the enemy.
His first swing demolished the leading vanguard of Hyenas. The backswing crippled the other Kodiak by ruining the wretch's legs. A ceramite boot ended his pitiable squalling. After that, the melee felt unreal, like it was happening to someone else. Nauthiz watched as his body beat back the horde, taking the sorts of punishment that they could not. Over as many minutes, Nauthiz took ten steps back. He now stood by the command throne, bleeding and battered. An axe had lodged itself deeply in his chest plate, forcing his second heart to pick up the slack. Lips slick with rich, dark blood bubbling from his ruined lungs, he continued to bleed from several lesser wounds. The augmented astartes physiology could only do so much, and Nauthiz felt weaker by the minute.
A smile crept across the Chapter Master's face. Another rush was forming and he knew this was his fate. To die on the bridge of the Awaiting Doom
. He sat down, content in knowing that these enemies of the Emperor would die just as surely as he would. This was his bridge and his ship. Thunder Hammer at rest across his lap, Nauthiz called up a display inside his helm, bringing to life a final bridge protocol.
The command “PURGE?” flashed up. The laughing Hyenas closed in, eager to claim him. His smile grew.
“Doom on you!” He cried.
The stink of burnt promethium, an acrid tang every Conflagrator grew to love in their first years, was strong here. The Awaiting Doom
felt like a tomb of a ship, populated by dead men. Every system, including the warp engines, had either been shut down, damaged beyond use or hibernated from lack of input. What had actually happened here?
The Conflagrator boarding party passed the burned husks of many Doomsayer menials and serfs as they moved through the command decks but, much more satisfyingly, as they neared the bridge there had to be scores of Sereiki Lion corpses twisted and curled by the inferno. These were not simple 'Coyotes' judging by their equipment. Cooked off grenades and munitions left many bodies with self-inflicted wounds.
The wreck of a cruiser, one of the Sereiki fleet no doubt, floated past a stained glass window as the Awaiting Doom
continued to slowly spin on its axis. Captain Kandallius assumed the Lions had ambushed the Awaiting Doom
and boarded it, selling their own ship for the price of taking an Astartes vessel. The Doomsayers had struck the enemy in the command tower and the engines – there was little chance that the crippled foe could’ve done anything more than fire at opportune moments into the black. With no guiding commands and no manoeuvring, each gun was reliant on its own field of fire to put effective shots on their foe. The Doomsayers knew this.
The Awaiting Doom
had been swamped with boarders, Hyenas and possibly Kodiaks, making their way to the vital areas of the ship. Facing Doomsayers though, they had a tough fight. The enginarium was expectedly a scene of slaughter with all but a scant few Hyenas killed in the battle. These last wretches were disposed of in short order by Techmarine Lumios and the squad supporting him. He had counted fifteen dead Doomsayers there.
On the bridge itself there was only one truly important detail: Chapter Master Nauthiz had died here. His body, beneath the soot and the burning, had taken such punishment that it was difficult to identify the markings adorning his plate. Furrows from blades and craters from ranged weaponry pock marked the suit, compromising it in a dozen places. The power axe jutting up from the chest of Master Nauthiz looked to be the culprit of a mortal blow, perhaps enough to have killed the chapter master. It mattered little for the Lions. They had burned for their temerity. The Captain’s lip curled upward at the thought.
Kandallius stared at the corpse, wondering if it was worth committing the already charred body to another pyre. With Nauthiz and every Doomsayer between here and Nabaretti dead, it fell to Kandallius to make a claim: A Right of Salvage. The Awaiting Doom
would fight on, even if no Doomsayer could. As far as he was aware, the chapter was truly dead.
Return of the Doomsayers (Written in part by helterskelter)
he gathering of the Chapters had nearly come to it's conclusion, representives from all the Liberite chapters, Mechanicum and various other factions had convened at Cardinalis. Ships of all berths filled the skies or held Orbit in atmosphere, preparing to take their leave once the meeting ended, and the council parties returned to their ships.
Planetside, a great hall lined with burning braziers, filled with delegates, one final issue was to be raised.
+Assembled brethren,+ boomed the mighty Conflagrators dreadnought. +We have received Transmissions from a Chapter long thought lost. We- +
He was cut off abruptly by blaring sirens, warning of an unscheduled warp translation. There was a buzz of confusion, many commanders voxing their ships for conformation. Reports were coming in of a fleet entry, though numbers could not be confirmed.
A message cut through the noise.
+This is Commander Fryg, of the Doomsayers vessel Voidfarer's Doom
. You will return the Awaiting Doom
and release the remains of Chapter Master Kaunaz to us. This, I command. Failure to comply will be met with Violence. If you fail to respond. Doom On You!+
For a moment, the crowd simply listened. Once the message had ended, they turned to the Conflagrators expecting a response. It would be a lie to claim that all assembled knew which way this would go. They did not. Some guessed while others reserved any conclusion at all. It was well known that any Conflagrator could be an intractable soul, even more so with a veteran.
+Listen to me and listen well, Commander Fryg.+ Ordered Kandallius. +You claim you are a Doomsayer! I demand that you show us proof. I was there to see the last fallen Doomsayer, and all of the Doomed fought no more. That day was a dark one for the Imperium. If you are who you purport to be, the ashes of Kaunaz are yours. His remains mean less to us than the Awaiting Doom
does.+ A pregnant pause, deliberately left by the wily dreadnought, stretching out to emphasise his authority. +You may come to the Awaiting Doom
itself, Fryg. Matters can be discussed there. Keep your retinue to a minimum when you board.+
A response did not come. The Voidfarer's Doom
altered to an intercept course. They were heading straight towards the Awaiting Doom
+Contact the brothers on the Awaiting Doom
. Advise them of the situation.+ Kandallius told his attending techmarine. +I have pressing matters to tend to.+ He turned to the delegations again and began to finalise the agreements. The end of the Conclave of Cardinalis would be a day to remember, for more than one reason.
The Voidfarer's Doom
was not the only ship on an intercept course. The entire Doomsayers fleet was heading towards Cardinalis, each ship vectoring in on a cousin vessel. Warning bells rang incessantly, the vox network was sheer mayhem. The seeming audacity of the approaching fleet made no sense to any of the commanders, captains, or admirals. Then all of a sudden the fleet slowed to a stop. Everything was still in the void.
In the belly of the Awaiting Doom
, lights began to flicker. A deep, bass thrum was building. The Conflagrator techmarines in the teleportarium felt the prickle of building static, and knowing what was about to occur, manically tried to shut down the teleporter. What followed was both blinding and deafening. With a sound like a thousand bolters firing at once, and flashes akin to hundreds of blind grenades being set off, the teleportarium did its work. Never had so many smelt burning ozone simultaneously.
Stood in the middle of the Conclave was Captain Fryg. Slowly, he removed his helm, placed it on his belt and turned to face the Lord Machine of the Conflagarators. Surrounding Fryg were 20 veterans of the Doomsayers, armed with Boarding shields and a variety of weapons dangerous to every being in the room.
"All of your ships have been boarded, and all those in charge of those very ships have a bolter pointed at their heads. If our loyalty and lineage are in question, please, take a sample of our genetic material to your apothecarian and I will personally answer any questions your librarium and reclusiam have. Now, my Brother, do we have a seat at this council?"
Lord Kandallius, easily towering over the Doomsayers in his relic Contemptor chassis, regarded the insertion team. He surveyed each member, weapon and position relative to himself and the other delegations present. Bolters, meltas, plasma pistols, even a power fist or two. Fryg himself carried a thunder hammer.
A great booming laughter echoed through the chamber, the augmitters on the dreadnought blaring out Kandallius' amusement, crackling slightly with distortion. Fryg himself did not appreciate the outburst, a look of anger flashing across his face.
"Do you mock us, dreadnought?" The Captain stepped forward, pointing his hammer at Kandallius.
+It is not mockery, little one. I think Kaunaz would be proud of you.+ Another chuckle burbled from the dreadnought. +You've got guts, Fryg.+
"I am doing what is necessary." His face still contorted in displeasure, the Captain tipped his chin. Lord Kandallius was toying with him, surely.
+No doubt. Apothecary Lavis and High Reclusiarch Volcus will be here shortly. If they are satisfied, I am satisfied.+ An audible sigh of relief came from the human delegations - they clearly had no desire to experience a close quarters post-human battle personally - and the other Doomsayers appeared to be relaxing their combat stances a fraction.
"And the Awaiting Doom
+It will be relinquished on one caveat.+ His Contemptor-bulk leaned forward, bringing his chassis face to face with Fryg. The Captain raised an eyebrow.
+A crusade. Let it be here and now on Cardinalis that we vow to crush every loathsome renegade and foul turncoat in this sub-sector. I might be satisfied that you are who you say you are by the end of tonight but trust will be earned with deeds, not words. The Emperor gained His son Vulkan by deeds, blessed be His name.+ Kandallius straightened up. +Prove yourselves not to me but to Him, and the Liber Cluster will rejoice with open arms at their guardians of old, returned from the grave.+
Trial by Fire
haplain Oxidus surveyed the group of supplicants, pleased with what he saw. Each of them bloody and exhausted, each of them a killer of men. The tallest one, who came up to his elbow, was still bleeding badly from his duel. Beneath his skull-helm, Oxidus allowed his lips to curl into something resembling a smile. He recalled his time in the proving grounds, remembering the faces of those he killed and those he would end up calling brother.
It had been a particularly bloody event this time, whittling the prospective Conflagrators down from several hundred to merely forty. Well, thirty-nine. One of the winners had already expired. It may very well end up being thirty-eight soon but the Chaplain cared not. If the boy lived, he would deserve his chance. It was not unusual for a crop to lose a few more bodies even after the combat-trials had ended. Oxidus continued to look over the group, watching for weakness. He looked upon them with a sneer.
"Well done Kindling. You have survived, and the best of you thrived. Do not take this as a guarantee that you will become one of us, you have merely proved that you can kill. I expect half of you to fail what is to come, if not more." The Chaplain moved to the half-dead boy, prodding his slick wound. The boy grimaced and grunted in pain, although he stayed standing. "You will have to be strong in body, in mind and in soul."
Oxidus removed his helm, revealing a hawkish visage marred with bionics and smeared grey with ash. He regarded them with an unwavering stare from his single crimson eye.
"You now, more than ever, belong to the Emperor. You may have revered him before, but now you are his chosen. You will die before you dishonour him." Oxidus beckoned over some Chapter serfs, led by an irascible man of middle-years. "Take them away." Was all the Chaplain had said, the serfs knew what to do. Two of them lifted the injured lad and hauled him away by his armpits.
Oxidus looked back over the combat grounds and the dead. Blood and bowels covered much of the area, silent with the exception of the crackle of flames. The Chaplain exited through the grand arch that served as both entrance and exit, confident that the serfs cleaning up would burn the corpses and strip any useful clothing by themselves.
Edited by Conn Eremon, 14 March 2018 - 03:23 AM.