Nodding to the hulking sergeant, Pelegon began his journey to where the cartograph in his armour's built-in cogitator informed him Xandrek was. He moved with a slight limp, one hand holding the plundered hammer in a limp-wristed grip just under the head, his left probing the shattered breastplate of his armour, thinking analytically. It was impossible to obtain a full analysis as it was, but it appeared that his armour was no longer environmentally sealed, and that the ceramite on his chest, having been somewhat concaved and heavily cracked, would offer little protection. The loss of his primary heart was inconvenient, but by no means lethal. According to the squad's feed, and from what he had seen, Azrael was faring far worse than he, and the captain was in near-critical condition, but everyone else seemed close enough to intact. Unfortunately, bar the captain, as far as Pelegon knew they all still had jump packs, which would leave him at a fair disadvantage. That said, he could always make for the IVth legion lines, South-East of his current position, though he knew he would face severe disciplinary action for failing his mission should he do so.
It tempted him, truly; were he to return to Xandrek et al, the Olympian knew that their Corpse-Master would be all to happy to take him in his cold embrace, a prospect that made what organic content was left in Pelegon's blood run cold. It was not fear so much as apprehension, for he knew Veptus to be a vengeful man. That said, Pelegon had done his duty, and had been careful not to give the grim apothecary reason to dislike him beyond simply existing. It would be possible to conceal his injuries enough, but obtaining a bionic heart, even less implanting it in himself...that could not be done.
The corpses of marines covered the red sands of Isvtaan as far as Pelegon could see, mostly black-clad here - the sheer quantity of loss caused a strange sensation in the Iron Warrior's chest, one not unlike that which he had felt when his heart had burst. It was unfamiliar, and he did not like associating discomfort with the thought of the slain sons of Corax. He cared not for them, degenerate and weak as they were, more for the investment that they had represented, and for the first time there he doubted what he was doing. Was it worth throwing away everything that his Legion had given so much for? The Great Crusade and Imperium in whose name they had bled and quietly died in their thousands, tens of thousands...to risk it all coming undone, to make it as though those ceaseless ranks of the iron-grey dead had lived and perished for nothing? It was an uncomfortable thought, one that Pelegon did his best to reject outright - the Olympian managed to clear it from his head, but knew that it was a temporary respite. It was not gone, merely suppressed. For the time being, he used it as fuel to push himself further forward, to ensure that they did not fail - failure here would be worse than continuing life under their Grandfather's yoke.
The battle was, it seemed, done for the XIXth legion, of whom few living remained - those that still breathed, Pelegon gave mercy to with the heel of his boot. Pathetic as they were, he would not have them suffer at the hands of the VIIIth legion, who would no doubt be scouring the battlefield for prisoners once the day was done. The Iron Warrior cut a lonely figure, a speck of grey in a sea of black and red, the din of battle a distant hum and thud of guns - and, more immediately, the screech of ceramite against ceramite.
The Iron Warrior turned abruptly and broke into a loping run, each ragged breath tainting his mouth with the rich flavour of his own blood from where shards of ceramite from his broken armour had been driven into his skin and had pierced his lungs. Presently, he moved around the smoking hull of a rhino, to see the source of the noise - two marines, one in red and the other in black, rolling around in the dirt, locked together in a fight to the death. The Raven Guard was on top, both hands clasped on a combat knife that he was doing his utmost to drive into the exposed neck of the helmetless Word Bearer, whose tattooed face was contorted into an expression that was half-hatred, half-fear - the latter had his hands pressed against the wrists of the former, holding him at bay, though only just.
Though his armour made clanking, grinding noises with every step, Pelegon had thus far gone unnoticed, so focused on each other were they, and so stepped forward, bringing the hammer back in one arm, and then swung it down, slackening his grip so the haft ran through his fingers, lending it length and increasing the hammer-head's momentum. It caught the XIXth legionnaire in the hip, shattering his leg in an explosion of electric energy and hurling him backward to crash against the rhino's charred flank, beaked helmet hanging down - by no means dead, but no longer a threat.
"My thanks, brother" the Word Bearer spoke, hopping to his feet, joining Pelegon to look at the slumped form of the black-armoured legionnaire. Upon closer inspection, the Iron Warrior saw that the Word Bearer's armour was covered in sigils and runes, none of which he could interpret, but one of them was particularly dominant and appeared many times in various lines - an eight-pointed star, which made the Iron Warrior's head pulse in a sickly manner that he did not appreciate.
"Weak. There was never a place for them in our ranks" the Word Bearer sniffed, and Pelegon bit back a response pointing out that he had been less than a centimetre away from being shortened by a head by those the XIXth legionnaire referred to with such disdain.
"You are a long way from your compatriots, brother. I thought that Perturabo's sons fought as one? A somewhat...blunt instrument, but its efficacy cannot be doubted. I am Zephon, Sergeant of the Graven Star chapter of the Word Bearers. It would have been tragic to have fallen when we are so close..."
Pelegon let the other marine prattle on, filtering out his words, and approached the fallen Raven Guard. He was starting to stir, but his movements were so pitifully weak that Pelegon decided that he did not need to look into his eyes. He brought the hammer up in both hands and brought it crashing down upon him, utterly obliterating him in a spray of gore and ceramite shards. However, even this exertion made his head pulse unpleasantly, and Pelegon realised that his injuries might be more severe than first suspected. Zephon, meanwhile, had not stopped talking since, and was now becoming more confident in his speech and mannerisms, falling into step with the hulking Iron Warrior with something of a swagger.
"...of course it was only natural that Ferrus Manus would not listen to The Illuminator, that much my Father told him beforehand. Our Father told many of them, including the Warmaster, whose ear he has, of what would come to pass, and so it has been. The Raven's wings have been broken, as has the will of the Nocturnians, upon the hammer and anvil of the IVth and XIIth legions. As we speak the last of the Xth flee with their father's body, though precious few remain. I hear that many fell to their knees as Ferrus died" Zephon nodded furiously, now in full sonorous tirade. Why did he think that Pelegon cared?
"Their will is gone, and so moves another Legion into the annals of history. Our great plan moves into its next-"
The Iron Warrior stopped and turned to face the Word Bearer, his head at an angle - great plan?
"And what does this plan entail, exactly?"
"By the Gods, you can talk after all. Well, the One True Pantheon, of course!" Zephon exclaimed, throwing his arms up in a manner that Pelegon assumed was one of praise "the Four Winds! The Chaos Gods! Surely you have been informed?"
Without a word, Pelegon drew his bolt pistol and shot Zephon in the face, the shot blowing off his lower jaw and shredding most of the skin of his face. The Word Bearer's face assumed an expression of stupid surprise as the Iron Warrior gave him a brutally hard shove that knocked him off his feet, and without even looking the Olympian emptied a second round, this time into Zephon's forehead, effectively deleting it.
“All members of the Fourth Company, heed me" came a familiar dry rasp through his helmet's vox "the Lord of Lies commands you to withdraw. Our work here is finished. First Claw, converge on my position. Let others waste their lives annihilating our defeated foe."
Still brooding over the Colchisian's last words, and their dark insinuations, Pelegon double-timed it over to Xandrek's position. He knew a little of the Chaos Gods, none of it good - this was something that would be of great interest to the Lord of Lies, as well as his own Warsmith. Moreover, it would ensure that the gates of both legions would be barred to further intrusions from the damned XVIIth.
Last edited by Nol; 03-08-15 at 12:44 PM.