His eyes remained forward and his mouth remained shut on the way to the Armory. Brother Raziel and Raxan would surely be unsettled to some degree to his sudden silence. Though he was always known to brood to himself from time to time. This was unfortunately one of those times as he reflected on the attitude of Lord Sotha, or rather Thrasuis now. Why had the Chapter Master decided to revert back to his more informal name than the one he'd made for himself years ago? He noticed that he'd missed out on most of Raxan and Raziel's conversation and continued to ignore the remnants of it. The back of his neck had begun to itch and for a moment he worried that he might have been an unnoticed wound -- perhaps a piece of shrapnel or a lucky xeno shot had caused a hairline fracture in his spine or skull. The lack of any real pain laid the question to rest.
He realized that it was anxiety. He couldn't hide that Thrasuis' insistance upon him to stand and a renouncement of all of his crimes had come as a serious surprise. He'd fully expected to be reprimanded, perhaps even punished by pain or censor ... since Astelan there was even the potential for execution for such crimes. His mind began to travel once again to the past several hours and how he coudl have confronted Izrael better and quickly stopped. He did what he had to do in the situtation he found himself in and would not apologize or punish himself over those decisions. Besides the Chapter Master himself had given him praise for his actions and raised him above his own brothers in what should by all rights been his trial.
As the three of them entered the Armory he noticed Brother Tobias in a room full of thirty-two neophytes. His eyes glanced across all of them and saw potential as of yet unlocked by Tobias or the Chapter. He felt pride at the possibilities these youths provided for the Chapter and quietly thanked the God-Emperor for forging Humanity in such an excellent way to provide his chosen. The students immeidately fell to one knee before them and only then did Brother Tobias turn and notice them with a comment,
"Lord Raziel, Lord Raxan, Lord Vermaas ..."
Vermaas nodded in Tobias direction and for the first time during the entire journey to the Armory spoke, 'Brother Tobias, it is a blessing to see you as always.'
Instantly his mood had turned around despite the sullen air which he knew hung around him. Tobias had a slightly tarnished reputation for being in command of Astelans' squad for a short time during that dark peroid in the Scythe's history but Vermaas had long ago forgiven him. He had no control over Astelan and could not have predicted the downfall of that monster. Vermaas had always liked Tobias and was pleased to note that he was in charge of the neophytes training. Under his guidance they would flourish and be prepared for the day when they would replace marines like himself upon the God-Emperor's battlefields.
'It looks like my brothers have volunteered to give your lesson today in my stead. Split into three groups,' said Tobias.
Vermaas nodded to the trainer and watched as ten boys lined up before him in a straight file. The oppurtunity to teach recruits was a task he was more than ready for and one that he hoped would help them grow into proper replacements. He felt a tingling at the back of his neck again and closely considered why his anixety was once again surfacing. It was Astelan he realized. In everyone of their faces he saw Astelan or some of his features. One of the youths had eyes like him, another's bone structure resembled him and in that instance Brother Vermaas understood that heresy could lurk in everyone of their hearts. Heresy lurked in every beating heart weather they were human or post human or something inbetween as these youths were. Of coarse he reminded himself that this is why they were trained under the harshest conditions both physical and mental -- to shield them against the most base temptations of heresy.
There was only one area that Vermaas knew the Scythe's did not properly expand upon or work deep-enough in and that was faith. As the youths eyed him cautiously, Brother Raxan and Raziel's groups had already begun their practices, he wished to leave them standing for a few more minutes in pregnant silence.
'Faith,' he stated plainly, 'Is the keystone to your success as a Astartes of the God-Emperor of Mankind.'
He noticed a few of the youths seemed a little unsettled by the sudden inclusion of spirituality into the conversation. No doubt Brother Tobias was an excellent trainer in the physical arts and preparing them mentally to deal with the climates of the harshest death worlds or the most grueling battlefields. But it was the soul in which the Scythe's had lost the battle for Astelan ... it was a battle he fully intended to never loose again.
'The training you recieve under the watchful, wise gaze of Brother Tobias is excellent. It is unmatched by any other of our order. It will serve you well upon death worlds and voids alike,' he began with a stone-cold face, 'The organs that we put within your body will enhance you far beyond the reach of mortals. The gene-seed which clings in your neck and chest will ensure you become the finest warriors than Humanity can provide. But know that all of it is for naught!'
He had to surpress a smirk as the youths shifted. The other groups were engaged in their practices and they were eager to display their martial skills to him and to Brother Tobias. They were just like him and Raxan and Raziel so many centuries ago when they stood where they are now -- eager to prove themselves to the veterans. How many of those veterans still lived, he thought? The Chapter Master was an obvious one, but everyone else could be considered of the same generation as him. All those he sought to impress were dead. Their bones were within the sepulchre-floor of the Fortress Monastery upon dead Sotha. How the mighty truly have fallen.
His eyes went to the floor for a moment of recollection before continuing, 'You want to prove yourselves. I can see it in your eyes. Full of youth, full of strength and vigor. You wish to lock yourselves into duels to best your brothers in strength. You wish to race and show me your speed or you combat acumen. Do any of you deny this?'
A heartbeat of silence followed. All of them shook their heads, at first hesitantly not sure if it was a question to be answered but with Vermaas' insistance they each gave the same answer.
'I am not a man so easily impressed by martial prowess, by speed, or by battlefield acumen. These things are the realm of Brother Tobias and they will serve you well when they are required. They do not answer the core questions you must ask yourselves. Why do you fight? Go on, ask yourselves this question and think on your answer carefully.'
Two heartbeats past as he gave them time to really consider. He saw the same look in all of their eyes. The same look he'd surely have given had he been in there place.
'You are all liars,' he stated plainly and stood before them stoically, 'You fight, right now, for yourselves. For me. For Brother Tobias. For the veterans who may occassionally watch your performance. We are the Scythes of the Emperor and we do not fight for ourselves! You will tell me, if I ask you, that you fight for the Imperium and the God-Emperor. In time those words will become truth in both word and action. I wish to spare you the horrors and the mind-numbing terror you must endure before you come to this realization ... this enlightenment. As I had to go through.'
He noticed that the insult they'd suffered began to vanish from their features. What had been wounded pride was slowly being replaced by curiosity. No doubt this feeling was felt more strongly in some than others but in time all of them would realize it.
'Nothing in this universe is worth more than the will of the God-Emperor. It is by him we draw breath and it was for him that we stop drawing it. Where we tread only absolution follows. Where we fight there is only victory. Where we die there is only salvation. Understand these basic truths. In your darkest moments when the alien, the heretic, and the mutant surrond you and squeel to feast upon your pure flesh -- let the hatred of the God-Emperor flow into your veins for your gene-forged strength will not be enough. When the madness of the demon seeps into your skull, sing the litanies of the Golden Throne and banish the beast back to hell which spawned it! Kill and kill again in the name of the Emperor and let not Humanity suffer the unclean!'
He dropped to one knee, the recruits immediately following him -- even if it was done awkwardly.
'We shall pray to Him-On-Terra ...
Immortal God-Emperor of Mankind give us your strength ... your wisdom and your blessing. Look down from your mighty chariot as you plow through the heavens of Humanity's final resting place, do us the eternal honor of looking from your foes and upon us. For we are your mailed fist, your hateful will made manifest! These youths have taken their first oaths, and by your grace and mercy they will be proven true enough to take many more. Show them to path of mercilessness, of intolerance, and of purity and prepare them in both body and mind for the trials to come ahead.
Let it be done in your time -- Ahmen.'
Vermaas rose from the floor immediately and signalled the youths to rise as well, 'Do not forget this moment for as long as your fight for our Emperor. You will likely not see its kind again, take this message to all corners of the void -- this galaxy is Humanity's and we do not suffer anything.'
He took a few paces back and looked over the group, 'Now you may prove yourselves to me. Pair up into five groups. You will engage in a perfect square, six foot by six foot. First one to achieve a knock out of his opponenet or get him out of bounds is the victor.'
As the groups paired up and began their matches -- Vermaas observed closely. For all of his religious chants and doctrines he knew that this was what the youths would likely remember most about their training session with him. He found it was waste depite noticing at least three of them had truly remarkable potential -- of coarse of those three recruits one would not make it past training, another would die over the coarse of his initial years, and the other would likely die later on. If the Chapter was lucky he would live long enough to impart his knowledge to the next generation and hope for the best.
He noted, of coarse, with grim reflection ... that he was the one who'd live only long enough to impart his knowledge. There was little else for him to achieve rank wise within the Chapter and while he was content to be a simple battle-brother the realization of his age was not lost on him.
The chaos gods abandoned Horus most likely because they saw the can of whoop ass coming their way and wanted out of the way so as not to get fucked up!