He Who Betrays First
The air was alive with bolter fire and the screams of the dying, both exhorting and plaintative. The streets of Serus III's primary shrine-city were being torn apart by the gods of war raging in them, clad in crimson armour chased with leaf of gold script scrimshawed across each plate of metal and festooned with bloody spikes. The Word Bearers had come to Serus III, their only goal to destroy the bastion of the hated God-Emperor that lay before them. The Adepta Sororitas, daughters of the Emperor, bled and died in the streets to hold them back. Only a single fortress still stood, the primary cathedral-shrine of the planet, and thus far the Word Bearers were stalled as the guns of the shrine kept them back.
"This delay is unacceptable! The gods will not wait for your competence to reveal itself!"
Gar Kaloth, Dark Apostle of the Word and Speaker of Litanies, raged at his assembled champions. Each had burned worlds for the Word of Lorgar, and yet now a simple shrine was stopping them. That the shrine was protected by an impenetrable four layers of void shielding meant nothing to the gods, they had been promised the prize and it would be theirs.
"And now we must rely on heathens, degenerate scum to do what you supposed Champions of the Word could not!"
Gar Kaloth's anger was almost visible. His men had failed to crack the shield wall, that the whores of the Emperor known as the Sororitas had pushed them back was an intolerable offense to both his pride and the word of his blessed Daemon-Primarch. That outsiders were required to finish this affair was salt in the wound.
Gar Kaloth looked up at the disturbance, his champions bringing to bear bolters and blades at the new arrival. Clinging to the ceiling of the debased shrine the Word Bearers had based themselves in was a figure in power armour of midnight blue. His feet were taloned like a bird's, and his helmet was cast in the image of a bird of prey. Crackles of lightning danced across his frame, the two lightning claws that flexed slowly as he hung inverted, only his talons keeping him attached to the ceiling.
Arkannis of the Soulrenders chuckled as he observed the groundwalkers below him bicker and insult his brethren. If their opinions had been something that mattered to him, he might have cared, but they were not and he did not. His Raptors were to do what these worms had failed to do and destroy the void shields protecting Serus III's final shrine-hold. He could sense the Word Bearer lord's hate of him, and as the maggot laid out his plan Arkannis was sure of two things. This would be child's play for his warband, and that the Word Bearers would betray him as soon as they could.
Arkannis hissed as his lightning claw gutted the frail woman. Her bastardised power armour was no match for the ancient weapons. As she fell, bleating some prayer to the corpse-king, his brothers dispatched the rest of the herd. They had landed among the scum only seconds before, catching them unaware as they made their way into the first vent shaft. The void shields were impenetrable to artillery and the Word Bearers couldn't advance through without the main guns of the stronghold firing on them, but the Soulrenders could. Arkannis and twelve of his brothers loped into the vent, big enough to permit entry to their immense forms.
"You know what to do, go!"
he snarled. Shon Kel nodded, bobbing his head up and down three times, before scurrying off with five others in another direction. Arkannis hissed, so far so good. As he led the Soulrenders further he wondered how Krixus was doing, he should be nearing his target by now and once he had achieved his goal the Soulrenders could retreat and leave this place to the bastard Sons of Lorgar.
Not long after they entered the vents Arkannis cut a hole in the wall and entered into a colossal chamber. The generators that lined the walls hummed with barely restrained energy, all of it feeding the guns that kept the Word Bearers from advancing. The Apostle's plan was to mine this place with charges and destroy it, but Arkannis had a better plan. Though he doubted Gar Kaloth would agree that it was better.
Gar Kaloth grinned as he watched the void shields flicker and die. The scum Raptors had done their job, and now all that was left was to destroy them. The cannons that lined the walls of the shrine fell silent, and the despair of the Sisters of Battle was a delight to his depraved senses. Now all that remained was to destroy both of the wretches, the Sisters would die under the bootheels of his men and the Raptors would be gunned down as soon as they tried to leave the vents. Nodding to his champions the march began, over 500 Word Bearers advanced under the chanting dirge of hovering servo-skulls and robed cultists that marched with them.
Suddenly his vox flared to life, the sounds of death and roaring chainblades coming in clearly. He could hear bolter fire as well, his own men were under attack. But all the Sisters and Raptors were in the stronghold!
"Lord it's the Raptors! The scum flanked us, their attacking the armouries and stealing everything. We're trying to hold them back but!-"
Gar Kaloth roared in anger as the vox cut out, the sound of a chainblade skewering his master of arms was the first sign that he had been betrayed. The second was when the guns of the shrine-hold came to life again and annihilated his position in a storm of lascannon and missile fire. Gar Kaloth died realising he had underestimated his opponent.
Arkannis smiled as he watched Krixus present the spoils. His second had led a second group of Raptors, their goal to pillage the Word Bearer armouries and extract payment that he knew the whoresons would never have given freely. Disabling the guns temporarily had given the Word Bearers bravery enough to advance, and reactivating them had ensured their destruction. Detonating the hidden charges that Shon Kel had planted on the Sororitas's supply of demolitions, turning the shrine into a crater in the process, had given them free reign to pillage and enslave the entire planet.
Arkannis laughed as he thought of Gar Kaloth's plan to betray them. The Word Bearer had forgotten something very simply about betrayal. He who betrays first, lives.