. A Scouring Era tale with Chapter Master Amit of the Flesh Tearers.
They were on crusade. Following rumours, hearsay, and survivor accounts, the Victus gave chase. Across nebulous quadrants and warring systems, the hunters relentlessly tracked down their quarry. The offer of others assistance was bluntly refused. Not only was the Chapter Master prideful, but wary of outsiders fighting alongside his warriors. Better the Imperium to not hear of his soldiers’ butchery from second-hand accounts and be called for censure.
Only the Flesh Tearers would purify the world. Their quarry had run to ground. With the Victus and strike cruisers decimating the traitors’ vessels in orbit, the newly-formed Chapter slaughtered their opponents on the battlefield. Heads were taken. Corrupt blood stagnated in fly-infested pools. True to their gladiatorial roots, the rebels gave no quarter. Later reports surmised they even welcomed their brutal deaths. Committing all his forces to the final stronghold, Chapter Master Nassir Amit gave the order.
“Flay them alive, take their skins, and leave nothing but corpses in your wake. Slay the World Eaters in the name of the Imperium!”
The World Eaters saluted when Captain Lugo Kerza entered the pit. Stripped to the waist, the hulking warrior held two chainaxes in meaty fists. Clashing the weapons together, he howled with his Legion as his challenger entered. Kicking up sand, the Blood Angel sneered at the World Eater. He refrained from using weapons, to prove the Angel’s sons could win with their own hands.
“One last chance, Blood Angel, take a blade or I scar that pretty face!”
“You cower behind yours. I’ll take your blood with my own hands!”
A scouring was required to purify the Imperium of Man. The blighted cancer cut away and burned; humanity would recover and grow strong again. Some prophesied the Imperium’s light would be restored. Nassir Amit scoffed at the foolish delusions. With the Emperor bonded to the Golden Throne and unable to lead, people duped themselves into believing things would get better.
Nothing was further from the bitter truth. Amit knew from a dire certainty born of experience, humanity’s golden age had passed. They were only circling the drain now, fighting and sacrificing their lives to breathe moments longer. These self-named High Lords of Terra were too foolish to grasp the complexity of the situation. Humans were a species every xenos wanted to eradicate. Daemons in the Warp wanted much worse. There was no renaissance to strive for.
A part of Amit’s mind brooded on the past while he focused on the present. A squad of Flesh Tearers to his left were executing turncoat Imperial Guard who, with razors, had carved blasphemous marks into their skin. Word came over the comm-net. The last fortress on the planet had been breached.
Howling. Screaming. Brothers-in-arms placed bets on the victor. In the pit the Blood Angel and World Eater circled each other. Lying useless in the sand were Kerza’s chainaxes, broken by Amit’s ferocious strength. Great bruises and cuts scored their scarred flesh. Pride was the only factor which kept them standing.
“You fight like a woman,” taunted Kerza.
“I know!” Amit spat a mixture of phlegm and blood into the sand. “My mother trained me as a child, and what she taught me will beat you.” Amit charged. His unruliness in the past had seen him through the worst of battles. The men of the Fifth hollered as their captain grappled the World Eater.
Sanguinius was dead. With the Primarch’s passing the strength of the Blood Angels was broken. The very thought of the mighty Blood Angels divided made Amit’s choler rise. The Legion’s future was thrown into uncertainty. Orders were dictated by one who did not bear their sire’s genetic legacy.
Their strength was parcelled out under the orders of Primarch Guilliman, the spiritual liege of this new and damnable Codex by which all conformed to. Amit’s leadership skills and command experience from the Fifth Company singled him out. Like many other captains, he was chosen to command a new division as the Legion was restructured. He would not longer be a Blood Angel.
The fortress was colossal, but it did not dissuade the Flesh Tearers. No matter where their quarry hid, they would be rooted out and culled. Leading his honour guard through the main hall, ground shaking under the tread of his Terminator armour, Amit shouted “No quarter!” as the World Eaters appeared.
Growling like a beast, Kerza’s brain flared as the Butcher Nails did their work. Strike after strike connected against the Blood Angel. Amit’s body dulled the pain as he hammered both fists into the great slabs of muscle that were Kerza’s torso. Amit felt his bones crack under the berserker’s great strength.
There were no rules in the gladiatorial pit fights. Amit jabbed at one of the open wounds, tearing strips of flesh. The rich scent of blood filled Amit’s nostrils as the red liquid splashed onto the arena’s sandy floor. It invaded his mind, becoming the sole pinpoint he fixated on. Blackness seeped over his vision.
He went for the source with teeth bared, a mad howl ripping from his throat.
Chapters; the new word they were being re-educated with. It sounded somehow wrong on the captain’s tongue, just as the title of Chapter Master settled uneasily on his broad shoulders. Once he had led a great force that brought whole systems to compliance. Now he was charged with only a thousand souls to take back those same worlds from the Imperium’s enemies.
Amit made do with what he had. A thousand-strong could inflict the proper amount of carnage and dread if applied correctly. He made sure his men knew that.
Activating his chainsfists, Amit struck fast at the first World Eater. Cleaving through the air, the jagged blades chewed in to the warrior’s arms. As the traitor stumbled back, Amit quickly eviscerated him. His honour guard shouted a warning across the vox-comm. Almost too late the Chapter Master parried a chainaxe with his right gauntlet. Amit bunched the fiber muscles in his armour, backhanded his contender across the hall. The World Eater died as his chest caved in.
Kerza did not scream. Reacting quickly, he threw Amit across the arena, who crashed into the wall. The World Eater sunk to his knee, pressing a hand to the gaping wound in his side as his body struggled to compensate from the trauma.
“Flesh Tearer,” someone whispered in the unholy quiet. Rolling on the sand, Amit laughed between a maw filled with strips of flesh and muscle. The World Eater Apothecary came. “Flesh Tearer,” said the voice again as the Blood Angel, wiping his mouth, left the gladiator pit.
Nassir Amit’s new epithet stuck.
“Blood for the Blood God!”
The battle cry was picked up by the World Eaters until nothing else could be heard over the battle din. One of the crazed traitors’ charged Amit. In a clash of shrieking saw-blade teeth, the World Eater’s chainaxe slid past Amit’s guard. It bit through the ceramite as warning runes lit up on Amit’s helm display. Armour integrity in his left forearm was compromised.
Amit swung his right chainfist upward. It chewed through his enemy’s arms, leaving the Chapter Master enough time to cleave the traitor from shoulder to hip. Grey intestines pooled onto the stone floor as the World Eater collapsed without a sound.
“They are rabid dogs,” Brother Caesare strained voiced over the vox. “Russ’ men fight the same!”
“Not like the Wolves,” replied Amit. He crushed a World Eater’s head under his boot. “These are mongrels without nobility.”
In the cramped confines of the fortress, the Terminator suits protected the Flesh Tearers as they meted out death. Frenzied World Eaters charged; repulsed by the firepower, they kept coming. Bellowing war cries, the once-noble Astartes attacked as savage dogs. Amit gave his foes credit. They were tenacious, laughing as they died and crying out for their deity’s accolades.
The Flesh Tearers hunted in the corridors with serrated blades and sharpened teeth. Reports of heavy fighting came over the vox-comm. There were, unsurprisingly, accounts of Space Marines who did not obey their orders. They had succumbed to the curse; Amit would stay their execution until the last World Eaters was butchered. Having consigned his forces to this hate-fuelled battle, the Chapter Master had wagered the Black Rage would have manifested.
“To your left!”
Amit’s sensorium overloaded as a heavy bolter roared past him. He was blinded, swung wildly to keep his enemies at bay. Then his targeting reticule reappeared, his lenses snapping back into focus to show the Chapter Master the squad’s view. Five battle-brothers who hacked and chopped apart those they once swore blood oaths with. Revenge coloured their actions as surely as it was clouding their judgement. Amit could feel the Black Rage lurking just at the edge of sight, taunting him to give in.
He would not let it consume him. He remembered Signus Prime. He remembered Terra and the Vengeful Spirit.
In the frenetic melee, the Chapter Master left his squad behind. Amit moved as fast as his armour permitted, prowling under the light of cracked lumen strips. A ceiling festooned with flayed mortal corpses greeted Amit when he crashed into the dimly-lit command station. Light blazed in the chamber, banishing shadows to the far corners. Blood dripped down in a steady rain, tracking over his black and crimson armour to pool on the floor. Amit swept his gaze over the walls where skulls were mounted, too many for the Flesh Tearer to count.
A proximity alert sounded behind him; Amit dodged with enhanced speed, his suit’s gears grinding in protest.
A huge chainaxe cut into the floor where the Flesh Tearer had stood. Turning about, Amit’s chainfists slashed the air. He succeeded in driving his opponent back as his enhanced senses took in the sight of the World Eater, recognized the captain’s rank if not the gore-crusted breastplate or armour. Wariness pushed through the rising blackness. The Flesh Tearer and World Eater circled. Amit studied the human bones fused on his opponent’s armour. It marked just how far the once powerful Legion had fallen.
Yet he recognized the World Eater’s footwork, the tell-tale spin to the great chainaxe. The deduction of the other must have burned through the Butcher Nails, for the World Eater spoke.
“Brother.” Lugo Kerza’s voice grated in his throat, far more beast than human. “Would you kill a comrade of the Great Crusade?”
Inky black rimmed Amit’s vision. “Do not utter your falsehoods, traitor! You aren’t a comrade!”
Kerza circled Amit, lunged forward and retreated just as quickly. Amit thundered toward him, but the World Eater remained out of his reach. “Why fight for a dead Emperor? Why fight for an Imperium that hates Astartes as vicious as you? They will put you down once you’re no longer useful, brother.”
Amit jabbed his right chainfist forward. He nicked Kerza’s armour, pushed him back. “I won’t betray my oaths to the Imperium.”
“You shackle yourself and rein in the bloodlust.” Kerza swept his weapon across Amit’s chestplate. He cleaved vertically, the blow connecting with the servos in Amit’s left gauntlet. Amit barely blocked the World Eater’s next strike, a whirling horizontal slash. Kerza kept his chainaxe moving, delivering crippling strikes before the killing blow. “My god is a mighty one who promises victories. You will be welcomed to Chaos. What will you do when the Imperium no longer trusts you? Your loyalty lasts only as long as the blood flows.”
The insult to Amit’s loyalty, forged in sacrifice and death on Terra, was too much. Blackness swallowed his vision as the Chapter Master’s will shattered. Bellowing in hatred, Amit attacked.
Kerza’s chainaxe parried rage-driven blows, saw-teeth grinding against chainfists. Light scintillated off their weapons. For every attack Kerza made, Amit blocked. In every counterattack, the World Eater turned aside the Flesh Tearer’s blows. Another bone-numbing strike from Kerza locked the servos in Amit’s left arm, the chainfist useless. But as experienced as Kerza was, the Flesh Tearer’s rage drove him on. Amit’s strength was no longer his own.
Amit reacted on primal instinct. Kerza’s arms drew up for another strike. Time seemed to crawl, moments locked in to place. The Chapter Master perceived the dust in the air, the blood raining from above, and the rust on his opponent’s armour. Time slowed, reversed, accelerated. Amit’s right arm smashed forward. The remaining chainfist dug into Kerza’s armour, shredding through flesh and reinforced bone to reach the soft innards.
Red arterial blood flowed down Amit’s weapons as Kerza was bisected.
“You never learned to guard your flank,” Amit hissed.
Kerza gurgled words, something even Amit could not hear. Then the World Eater was dead and Amit the survivor. He blinked quickly, dispelling the blackness as he looked about the charnel house. The Chapter Master was filled with disquiet at what had come over him.
Amit reached down, releasing Kerza’s helm. Grabbing the scarred and snarling head, Amit wrenched the head from the body. He pulped the fleshy mass in his fist, watching the brain matter mix with shards of bone. Amit’s honour guard arrived to find their Chapter Master standing over a traitor’s mutilated corpse.
“There are more to cull,” was all he said. He turned and left the chamber, his honour guard following.