Iapetus was inspecting the Wandering King, twelve-kilometres of iron, cannons and battlements, of sprawling city-scapes and cavernous hangers, when news of Pelegon's summoning reached him. He nodded, appreciatively, to the thrall who had brought the news, and immediately set off to the primary hanger. His Stormbird was already awaiting, glinting in the lights, engines idling. Iapetus was aboard, and approaching Medrengard, in a matter of minutes. He stood, in darkness, contemplating. This meant one thing - War.
The transport banked down, through poisonous clouds, and flew over Medrengard's barren, rocky plains. It flew low, kicking up storms of dust and grit, gaining speed, faster and faster, until the fortress of the XIXth loomed ahead, a twisted, gnarled finger.
The Stormbird landed, engines settling down with a whine. Iapetus awaited in the hatchway, still as a statue, as the ramp lowered. There, framed in coils of mist and smoke, was the Seer. He wore robes, grey and roughspun, the Inquisitorial Rosette dangling from his neck on a beaded chain. He carried his axe and the Iron Grimoire, the Librarian's tome, hung heavily from his hip.
'Brother,' Iapetus said, descending the ramp. 'It is good to see you.'
'Brother,' Coeus called back, embracing Iapetus. In his Terminator Armour, the Shipwright dwarfed his twin. 'It is good to see you too. How fairs the Seventh?'
Iapetus stepped back, clasping Coeus' hands between his gauntlets. One thought, one muscle-twitch, and he could crush the bones to dust. 'They are well,' He said, smiling. 'A well-oiled cog,' His voice dropped. 'In a rusted machine,' He looked around, surveying the hanger. Mostly empty; save for a dozen Stormbirds and Thunderhawks and their attendants. 'And your witches?'
Iapetus and Coeus began to walk, towards Pelegon's war-room. The fortress was quiet, unusually so.
'My Librarians serve me well, mostly,' Coeus said, as they turned down a long, quiet hallway. 'They brought one to me, a man called Bronsk, to be tried. Interesting, they also brought me Rorke from the Second.'
'Bronsk?' Iapetus said, raising an eyebrow. He knew the Marine - A veteran of the Crusade, of good, albeit low-born, Olympian stock. 'I know him. One of us,' Coeus knew what that meant. 'This other - Rorke? - One of Kunzhardt's lot,' Iapetus shook his head. 'He matters not.'
+His sin is minor enough. Possessing contraband from what I could hot read. Iím sure heíll be fine.+ Coeus transmitted, directly into Iapetus's head. To some, this was a grievous invasion of privacy, bringing nosebleeds and migraines. To Iapetus, this was simply the norm.
'Kunzhardt's is certainly problematic. Some sort of infection. Perhaps I will have to investigate them closer,' The Seer continued, manipulating Iapetus's mind. There was a perverse pleasure to Coeus, like a serpent regarding a rodent, as he spoke of Rorke.
'Are there others? Among the Second?' Iapetus asked, his voice growing cold. He smiled hungrily. 'Of course there are others. A formal investigation will have to be launched, will it not, brother?'
It was not a question. 'And Kunzhardt? How could he have missed such a terrible thing - He should be charged with incompetence at best.'
'Well, we can hardly expect a half-born to do much better than stammering impotence. You remember how Gneous fell?' Coeus laughed, a harsh, biting sound. 'Itís always the half-born.'
'They are unworthy at best. Worse, still, is that bastard Night Lord,' Iapetus grunted. The Tyranthikos were his, now. Iapetus remembered Krotas, and fondly at that. The Night Lord had ruled longer, twisting the Tyranthikos into his own butchers, much to the chagrin of Iapetus, Coeus and the Olympian faction. 'Where has our glory, our pride, gone?'
He raised a hand, clenching it into a fist. 'They stain us, this mongrel-breed. Blood, so pure, so glittering, has blackened and congealed. But we serve, brother, and faithfully. More faithful than the Night Lord, or the bastard-born, ever could.'
'Tyranus,' Coeus spat, his saliva eating away at the floor. 'Peace, brother,' He said, stepping into a dim, narrow hallway. +We will purge them from our proud Legion,+ He continued, with his mind's-voice. 'Let us not focus on what has been, but on what is to come,'
Iapetus nodded, listening. +Their reckoning will come and we will cast them down and grind them to dust under the hammer of Olympia+ The Seer continued, and Iapetus could feel his mind throb. Even he, so accustomed to the witchery of his brother, felt the touch of the warp. 'These half-breeds will have their day,' and then, another switch, into his mind. +And their end is neigh. We will see to that my brother,+
'And we will be mighty, loyal and pure iron once more,' There was a brief pause, as Lugerev, the Chief Apothecary, marched past. Iapetus looked at him from downcast eyes. They were friends, Iapetus having saved the Apothecary and his forces at Terra, and shared similar opinions. The Iron Warriors were Olympian, and always would be. Coeus caught it, too, and quickly spoke. 'Do you know how Lugerev fares these recent days? I heard one of your Apothecaries was at his side, but Iíve not been able to check on our troubled friend.'
Iapetus sighed. 'Tirgivil, yes,' The Shipmaster said, watching Lugerev enter Pelegon's war-chambers. 'He reports to me, on times. He is Lugerev's pet, that I know, but he is a true Iron Warrior,' He pursed his lips. 'He fears for Lugerev, as do I. Has Lugerev grown worse, Coeus, or has he always been so mad?'
He stepped towards the war-chamber. 'If we watch his back, he shall watch ours. Lugerev is an Olympian, a friend, Coeus. We need him and his Apothecaries, so does the Grand Company. So long as Tirgivil warns me, I will look after him. I only ask the same of you, brother.'
'I have not grown so old yet that I struggle to distinguish friend from foe, Iapetus,' Coeus said, angrily. Iapetus stepped back, raising his hands, and grinned. 'I just wondered if Tirgivil had seen any marked change lately. As I said, I have been otherwise engaged,' The doors loomed ahead, now. Inside, Iapetus could make out figures, armoured in iron, standing stock-still. 'Rest assured, I will watch over him as surely as I watch over you.'
Coeus entered first, taking a place around the quadradecagonal table, a position for every senior officer. Iapetus stepped besides him, between the Seer and the Mad Apothecary. Pelegon dwarfed them all, a monstrosity of flesh, blood and metal. Iapetus stared at him, as he spoke, with a tight mouth. Something isn't right, he thought, as the briefing continued. This world, the presence of the Wolves, felt strange.
Stranger still, as when Lugerev, Lucian and Iapetus were told to remain behind. Pelegon's motley brotherhood filed out, Iapetus grasping his brother's hand, and then turned his attentions back to the Warsmith. More information flowed forth, concerning a lone cruiser, the Fist of Russ.
'Are there any questions?' Pelegon asked, in that deep, rumbling voice of his.
Lucian, the Dark Angel, quickly wrote off Iapetus. The Shipwright narrowed his eyes, green, poisonous slits, and curled his lips.
'Who is that?' Lugerev sneered. Iapetus snorted, biting back a laugh, and shrugged - No easy task in Terminator Armour.
When he drew his blade, the Shipwright was forced into action.
'Lugerev, brother,' He said, raising a hand. He pushed down the weapon with his fingertips. 'Lucian wears the garb of Caliban,' And, so he did, in his black plate and stained robes. He looks like a robber-knight, Iapetus reflected. 'But his hearts are iron,' That was a bitter lie. It almost burnt his tongue to utter it.
'How many ships have you taken, Captain?' He asked, turning his attentions to the Dark Angel. 'A dozen, two? I have taken hundreds. I have built ships, I have repaired ships, I have destroyed ships. And I, and my Company, will be of no use?'
He snorted again.
'Wolves do not hunt alone,' He said, to Pelegon. 'I suspect a trap, Warsmith,' He paused, thinking. 'I'll draw the vessel away, with the Wandering King and Lonesome Queen, and disable her. Whatever damage is dealt, and damage will be dealt, I will personally oversee the reconstruction and recommissioning.'
He waved a hand, dismissively, in Lucian's direction. 'If the Angel is so hungry for glory, if he strains at the leashes so needlessly, he may have the honour of boarding, and capturing the ship. I ask only one thing - He defers to my authority. The right tool needs to be applied, here. And I'm afraid,' He mocked. 'A needle can only prick.'
Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.
"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"
'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'