Greetings! Many of you may have seen me lurking about the forums generally posting 30k stuff or in the RP area. Well, to accompany my growing army of 30k Emperor's Children and to make sure I stay invested (as if the second mortgage I've had to take out to pay for it wasn't enough), here is my homebrew fluff for my Emperor's Children!
The XVIIth Millenial – “The Lost Millenial”, “The Exiles”, “The Imperfect”
“The Imperfect. That’s what they called us. My men had done nothing wrong, no stain was on them. They had not failed. They had not fallen short of Fulgrim’s standard. My men had committed no sin worse than following a cursed man. But they were my men, and that was the problem. I was tainted and so were they. Even in the years to come, when other men had supplanted my command and the men who had faithfully served me burned world after world searching for vindication, still their father and brothers scorned them for one man’s transgressions.
We were cursed, afflicted, cast out. We believed we had failed our Emperor. We no longer considered ourselves worthy of his Aquilla, and that was why we wore it. As a brand, a mark of our shame. I do not think there was a man among us who did not feel that shame threaten to crush him, and mine was worst of all. It was my failure that damned them all.
It was also my failure that saved them from the corruption that was to come. No one has ever thanked me for our exile. It wasn’t done on purpose, it was simply a quirk of fate, despite what [+++REDACTED+++] would have you believe. Had fate not intervened, we would be counted amongst your enemies and not your allies. So ask your questions, and I will tell you all there is to know of how the Children of the 17th Millenial came to be orphans…”
-Excerpt from the Sworn Testimony of Cyprian Novius
Librarian, 17th Millenial of the Emperor’s Children Legion
The Coming of the Primarch
When Fulgrim took command of the IIIrd Legion, it numbered only about 200 men, most of them bearing the standards that their brothers had fallen defending. Amongst these number could be counted the brilliant standard of the 17th Millenial, held aloft by the only two marines left of the once great Millenial. It would have been a travesty for a Company of Astartes to have reached such a low number, but with only 200 Astartes in the entire Legion it was a usual sight within the IIIrd Legion. "We are His children,"
the Book of Primarchs relates he told them, "Let all who look upon us know this. Only by imperfection can we fail him. We will not fail!"
. Although they were few in number, their cries of adulation shook the hall where they had met their father.
Once Fulgrim was found, the legion began to grow in strength once again and that included the 17th Millenial. Within a year they numbered 50 Astartes, allied to the 34th Company of the Luna Wolves. Although they were, at best, an allied detachment the Millenial began to make a name for itself amongst its brethren. Its commander, Captain Horatio, was responsible for the death of the Tyrant of Ghorst Prime, besting him in single combat and taking his malleable battle-axe, named the Rorschach Blade, for his own. The 2nd squad held the Gates of Perditia against the hordes of blasphemous sentient automata for three hours until the delayed relief force from Horus’s legion arrived. The 17th Millenial became a byword for honour and skill amongst the 34th Company. Within twenty years, the Millenial came to number 2000 fighting Astartes and had even drawn the mercurial gaze of the Primarch.
The star of the 17th Millenial was rising, and so their orbit carried them closer to Fulgrim and, by association, Horus. The Primarch of the Luna Wolves, not yet the Warmaster, chose the 17th Millenial to be part of the spear tip for the invasion of Sixty-Three-Five against a human-xeno confederation called the Haradrim. Originally the 17th Millenial’s mission was to secure the outer keep of the core planet’s centre of government. Their objective completed, they sent word to the fleet in orbit. However, due to several set-backs, the reinforcements which were meant to take the central keep were delayed. By the time Horus and his Justaerin made it planetside, the 17th Millenial were already in the throne room, almost half fighting wounded but several of the leaders dead at their feet. The presence of the Primarch only sealed their fate. After the mission was over, Horus publicly praised the 17th, although it should be noted that they were never again requested to be part of the vanguard again. The fact that Horus seemed so concerned to not have his men shown up by their cousins gave the 17th more pride than the Primarch’s praise ever could.
Turning of the tide
For almost half a century Captain Horatio had lead the 17th to victory and glory. The downfall of the Millenial started on the killing fields of Askania, at the fall of the Shrouded Dynasties . The IIIrd legion was close to reaching a size where it could operate on its own, but the Emperor called Horus to his side to break the Shrouded Dynasties. Already embroiled in a lengthy campaign for Sixty-Three-Twelve, Horus could not afford to leave his campaign in its entirety. But he could not deny his father’s wishes. It had been several long years since Fulgrim or the IIIrd legion had seen the Emperor and Fulgrim wished to show his father the excellence of his sons. So an accord was struck between the two Primarchs. Fulgrim would conclude the campaign for Sixty-Three-Twelve and Horus would leave to meet the Emperor, taking a contingent of the Emperor’s Children with him. The 17th Millenial was chosen as part of the legion’s representation.
The ensuing campaign was furious and hellish. However alongside their cousins of the Luna Wolves and the Imperial Fists and under the shadow of the Emperor, the Emperor’s Children fought harder to prove their worth. One instance records 17th Millenial breaking through a force of Shadow Warriors, soldiers who seemed to only intermittently exist against anything other than blades, which was over five times their size to reach the Emperor. Over 50 Astartes lay dead after that, but the assault was broken.
Rogal Dorn chastised the 17th Millenial, saying that a relief force of Imperial Fists had already been dispatched and that their move was needless and reckless. Captain Horatio retorted, some say to his credit, that the force of Imperial Fists had been delayed elsewhere and so had failed to complete their objective. Since the 17th were the closest force and they had already completed their assigned objective, the duty to complete what the Imperial Fists had not been able to fell to them. Lord Dorn was furious at the accusation that his men had failed but the Emperor forbade further argument, noting that it was not the first time that the IIIrd legion had made a great sacrifice to protect him and saying they proved that the IIIrd legion was still worthy of the honour bestowed on them in the early years of the Unification Wars. This harkening to the Proximan Betrayal was enough of an honour for the 17th and they left feeling they had accomplished what they had been sent to do, despite the ire they had earned from the Lord of the Imperial Fists.
Although the 17th had won great honour, and admittedly some displeasure, for themselves and their Legion the campaign against the Shrouded Dynasties was to be the turning of their fortunes. On the final battlefield, against the Parliament of Fourteen, Captain Horatio faced one of the members of the Parliament. Clad in energy converting onyx armour and wielding a sentient blade, one of many Lucid Blades that the Emperor’s Children would encounter, he was a formidable foe. As the battle raged on around them, the two fought; Astarte against a pale image of the perfection of humanity. Despite the numerous rents in its armour caused by Horatio’s Rorschach Blade, it was here that the record of Captain Horatio of the 17th Millenial came to a bloody end.
In the midst of battle the Millenial Champion, Cyprian Novius watched as the Shadow Lord engulfed Horatio’s corpse in black flame. The skin rotted and atrophied at a frightening rate until only a bleached skeleton in a rusted suit remained, their Captain’s gene-seed and legacy lost forever. Aghast at is violation, Cyprian cut a path to his commander and mentor’s killer. His masterfully wrought duelling blade slew everything it touched until the two stood face to face. The Shadow Lord mocked him even as his men died around him. He declared that no man could best him with a blade. Were this spoken to any other Legion Champion it might have been true, but the IIIrd legion were duellists first and foremost. Cyprian wasted no time with petty insults or retorts, responding only with the lightning quick movements of his blade.
The two duelled over the bones of Cyprian’s former captain. The Shadow Lord’s guard seemed impenetrable, his attacks unavoidable. Those who later described Cyprian’s movers would call them “almost precognisant”, although the truth of these words would not emerge until later. Ripe with righteous fury and bitter pride, Cyprian’s movements became possessed by a furious speed that few could follow. For the first time in the battle, the Shadow Lord was put on the back foot, forced to gradually shift from offence to defence in order to avoid his foe. By Cyprian would not let vengeance for his commander’s life go unfulfilled. Inevitably, the Shadow Lord could not resist the prowess of the Emperor’s Astartes and the fight ended with Cyprian’s blade buried in the foe’s chest. The Lucid blade slipped from his fingers and the Lord and Cyprian’s blade dissolved into little more than smoke. The battle was won and the 17th Millenial returned to its parent legion with glory, accolades and a fascinating relic for the legion to exploit and utilise, something had been awoken within the new Captain Cyprian that even he did not realise.
For a time, the appointment of Captain Cyprian seemed amicable. The 17th Millenial continued to grow in favour and stature amongst the Legion and their allies in the Luna Wolves and those they fought besides, several noting that Cyprian was a good successor to Horatio. Perhaps even a better commander. Although it was never to reach the heights of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd company, it was notable none the less and many within the 17th Millenial believed that it was only a matter of time until they eclipsed their peers, for even within the IIIrd legion there was friendly rivalry. Their deeds are recorded elsewhere and in none of those records does it indicate any distrust or animosity surrounding the 17th Millenial, although hindsight would suggest that some had grown suspicious of the 17th commander.
However, none of this came to any fruition until the Ullanor Crusade. The might of 8 Primarchs and part or the entirety of their legions descended on the Ork Empire of Ullanor. Fulgrim and his Emperor’s Children, allied with the Thousands Sons and their Primarch, Magnus the Red, were tasked with liberating a captured industrial world from the clutches of a Big Mek warlord called Da Convurta. The attack was designed to crush the ork populace and thereby cut of key material supplies to the rest of the ork empire. However, there were objects from the Dark Age of Technology which had accelerated the orks technology and the Mechanicum wished these to be left undamaged as much as possible. Their objective clear, the might of the IIIrd and XVth legion fell on the ork’s petty domain.
The 17th Millenial rode to war alongside their brothers. Thunderhawks dropped troops, Rhinos and Land Raiders. Drop pods struck the earth and disgorged more troops, dreadnoughts and unloaded entire payloads of missiles in the space of seconds into the ork hoards. Super-heavy Fellblades pounded the ork lines, wiping out hundreds of orks with each shell. The Emperor’s Children pushed through the greenskin tides, purging with bolts, flame, and blade even as their allies cast sorcerous energies into the hoards to consume them. Against such might, not force in the galaxy could hope to stand, even one as numerous as the orks of Ullanor.
The flashpoint came when the leader of the tek-world appeared. Clad in thick sheets of beaten iron and a crude imitation of imperial servo arms was not a Big Mek as the imperial forces had expect, but a pale ork whose eyes blazed with other-worldly light. Cyprian, his Lucid blade cleaving through a nob, noticed this new threat. His forces, in an show of self-assuredness, had pushed ahead of their psychic allies. However, a new element to an existing plan was not an excuse for failure that the IIIrd legion had ever accepted before and they would not start now. Clad in pride and wielding his semi-sentient blade, Captain Cyprian roared out a challenge to his foe and charged forward.
The technology of the Imperium is often a wonderful and mystifying thing. The ancient iron halo perched between Cyprian’s shoulders had been inherited by each master of the 17th Millenial. As ethereal fire leapt from the orks fingers and solid slugs were fired from its impractical gun, the tried and tested mechanisms fired up and the energy fields dissipated the harmful energies. Striding through the fire and flashes of energy, Cyprian came, his blade reflecting the evil light in the ork’s eyes.
Despite its size, the ork was not as slow as one might have believed. Powered by the energies of the orks around him, the Weird Mek moved with speed that was unnatural. Its blazing staff smashed against Cyprian’s blade again and again. Somehow, no duelist skill Cyprian possessed was enough to match the fury of this ork leader empowered by millions of orks fighting and dying in its name. Atop a mound of corpses, xeno and Astartes alike, they duelled. Cyprian wielded his blade with the skill of a master duellist augmented by the semi-sentience of his blade. The Weird Mek drew power from his subordinates and orks simply withered and died around him, their life force drawn to sustain their leader.
The length of the duel had given the Thousand Sons time to reach the 17th Millenial. As if the minute brain of the xeno freak understood that he would soon be facing foes who could match him, he redoubled his efforts to kill the Captain of the Emperor’s Children. In one exertion of monumental fury, the ork’s staff smashed into Cyprian’s wrist. The force shattered the bones in his forearm and sent his sword flying to the side. A second later the ork brought the staff down, poised to crush Captain Cyprian’s skull. Something stopped it. Something, panic, instinct, the realisation of mortality for inhuman super-soldier, snapped inside Cyprian.
In extremely rare cases, it is documented that souls previously barred from the warp are spontaneously able to access its power. The testimonies and recordings from several Legionnaires of the IIIrd and XVth offer no alternative explanation than that for what happened next. The staff stopped millimetres from Cyprian’s outstretched palm. His sword came back to his ruined hand as if on an invisible chain before the Captain lashed out, taking the ork’s head from its shoulders. The ork collapsed backwards, his life ended. The Waaagh! descended into anarchy and was easily routed. Cyprian was found after the fighting was done, collapsed next to his defeated foe with his brain on the verge of haemorrhaging. The battle was won, but the fortune and the fate of the 17th Millenial was forever altered.
The Crimson King
Captain Cyprian woke several days later. The 17th had been re-tasked to other arenas of war under command of Cyprian’s successor, Decurion Tiberius Loculus. Cyprian was groggy as he finally came round in a crowded apothecarion. Or rather, it felt crowded. In truth there were only two beings in the mobile apothecarion. One perched on the end of his bed, his massive stature bowing the frame. His eye smiled as brightly as his lips. The others ran his fingers through his ashen hair, his piercing violet eyes fixed on Cyprian with a fearfully caring intensity. The crimson giant at the end of his bed cocked his head and regarded him with an avian interest. His head pounded. Cyprian lifted his hand to massage his head and felt the bandages. His hair was gone and his skull was swaddled in medical cloth.
Fulgrim smiled from the back of the tent. “I was beginning to wonder if the tales of your powers were apocryphal Magnus.” The Primarch of the Thousand Sons laughed.
“Waking one man up is hardly taxing Fulgrim.” Fulgrim smirked. Magnus lean back. Cyprian’s eyes flicked between his father and his uncle, waiting for some explanation.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Fulgrim probed. Cyprian dragged the memory up, although it came reluctantly.
“The ork. I lost my blade. I saw your men Lord Magnus make their way to us. His staff fell and then…” Cyprian’s eyes flicked frantically from side to side. “…kaleidoscopic colour. I thought death looked like blackness but it doesn’t.” Cyprian’s eyes locked his father’s.
“That wasn’t death Cyprian.” Magnus stood up and made his way over to Fulgrim. “It is not fully understood why or how, but sometimes people who previously showed no psychic potential suddenly become psychic…” Magnus seemed to be speaking more to Fulgrim than to Cyprian. “…It’s rarer by far than the natural occurrence of the psyker gene. It’s like an aneurism…”
“…just something lying in wait…” Fulgrim turned his head. “…Undetectable until the moment it appears.” Magnus nodded. He turned back and smiled. “Psykers are not to be feared Cyprian. The Emperor himself has sanctioned the implementation of Librarius departments in the Legions. You will be trained to use your new powers to aid your brothers. One of my captains will train you. Now if you forgive us, me and your father must return to the war effort.” With that, Fulgrim and Magnus left Cyprian.
In the coming days and weeks, even up to the Triumph, members of the IIIrd legion came to keep Cyprian apprised of the war effort. Captain Nadir of the 7th Fellowship came and trained him. Bereft of other duties, Cyprian threw himself into his studies and the basic techniques came easily to him. He couldn’t match the experienced psyker of the XVth legion, but his technique was adequate to not be a threat to anyone save his foes. Fulgrim even came to see him in moments he could spare, although he artfully avoided questions about the future.
After the Triumph, Fulgrim called Cyprian into his chambers aboard the Pride of the Emperor
. What he had to say was a double edged sword. He presented him with an artfully wrought suit of artificer armour incorporating several of the psychic channelling technologies developed, primarily, by Magnus’s legion. It was a fine gift, but it came at a price. Cyprian no longer commanded the 17th, that honour remained with Tiberius. He was to remain in an advisory position subject to Tiberius whim. Cyprian bore the news with grace. Despite his Primarch’s support of Magnus’ effort, the opinion within the Legion and Fulgrim’s own mind was well known. The psyker gene was imperfect and even if he didn’t possess the actual gene, the outcome was the same. He was imperfect and imperfection could not command the Legion.
+++ Extract Interview Report 564//4853197402 +++
+++ Temporal Reference: 841//664//370//[Redacted] +++
+++ Subject: Quinto Marcellus +++
+++ Rank: Veteran Sergeant +++
+++ Fealty: Previously Legiones Astartes Emperor’s Children +++
+++ Disposition: Fedelitas +++
+++ Interview Locale: [Redacted] +++
+++ Interviewer: [Redacted] +++
+++ Extraction Method: Aptus Non +++
+++ Extract Notes: Extract refers to question of the subject in relevance to their activities up to the Cataclysm of Isstvan III and the Dropsite Massacre. Subject was previously under interrogation and assumed Traitoris Perdita until countermanded by [Redacted]. +++
+++ Extract Begins +++
Interviewer: “Where were you when you brothers declared their treachery?”
Subject: “Don’t call them that.”
Subject: “You called them my brothers. They are no kin of mine. They are the bastard sons of a father who abandoned us.”
Interviewer: “Fine, where were you when the Warmaster declared his treachery?”
Subject: “We were on the other side of the galaxy. We were resupplying at Gryphonne VI when we…”
Interviewer: “Why were you at Gryphonne VI?”
Subject: “We’d been sent to sally into the Ghoul Stars, to ‘reclaim them for the Imperium’…” +Subject scoffs+ “…that wasn’t the reason. Our father sent us beyond the Emperor’s light. He didn’t want his father to see his imperfect sons. He could not bear the shame of it.”
Interviewer: “It seems he was the imperfect one.”
Subject: “You think so? You with your superior tone, your Iota worn like a badge of honour, walking around proclaiming judgement on others as if you alone have the perfect understanding of right and wrong…” +Subject voice drops by 36dB+ “…Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
Interviewer: “What is that supposed to mean?”
Subject: “That his sin of hubris was no different than your own. And unless you learn from my father’s failing, your fate will be the same as his.”
-Excerpt from the Sworn Testimony of Quinto Marcellus
Veteran Sergeant, 3rd Century, 17th Millenial of the Emperor’s Children Legion
Captain Tiberius now commanded the 17th Millenial. He knew that the reason for his and the rest of the Millenial’s exile was Cyprian’s psychic abilities and he resented his former captain for carrying him so far from the side of his Primarch, although he would later think of this in a better light. However, Fulgrim had not slain Cyprian for his imperfection and had commanded that Tiberius keep him integrated into his company. For Tiberius the word of the Primarch was law and so he buried his feelings towards the newly appointed Librarian Cyprian and began with the mission at hand.
The 17th Millenial was sent to relieve a force of Night Lords pressing into the region of space known as the Ghoul Stars. Kurze and Fulgrim were hardly comrades, so this was no brotherly favour. Rather, Kurze had sent his sons beyond the light of the Imperium because he cared little for them and now Fulgrim was sending them there because he wished to forget about them. Indeed, the records of the 17th Millenial are surprisingly scant after Ullanor.
Heedless of their abandonment by their father, the 17th Millenial resolved that it would earn its way back into the affections of the legion and of the Primarch. As such they approached each campaign with a renewed vigour, each time seeking to outdo their record for compliance speed, casualties inflicted, casualties sustained and warlords slain. Although they were unified in their efforts, it bred a curious nature within the Millenial. Each man fought with his brothers, but each believed that he had his own personal sin to atone for and that if he could somehow display himself as remarkable then maybe he could be granted a personal reprieve. Each man, from Captain Tiberius down to the auxiliary Astartes who had barely known the legion before they had to leave it fought to prove himself.
Of no man was this more true than Cyprian, for he bore not only the weight of his own sin and the price he paid in exile, but also the exile he had inflicted on his brothers. He was always the first to volunteer to lead the most dangerous engagements or the ones with lowest odds and, with the bitter taste of exile still in their mouths, his brethren were content to let him smash himself against foes in order to redeem himself. Whilst this earned him no forgiveness from his brothers, it did slowly begin to earn him their respect. Slowly but surely he became more than just their hammer to break difficult enemies. He began to earn his place back as their brother.
It is a testament to the strength of character of the 17th Millenial that their bitter exile forged a curious unity when it initially threatened to breed discord and isolation. As the atonement of their sin became a collective identity for the Millenial as well as the individuals in it bred a culture of honest and frank criticism. Knowledge and techniques were freely shared and the leaders felt it was their duty to raise up perfect underlings so that they may return to their legion better, faster, stronger and more in the image their Father wished for them than they had left in. This culture of open criticism developed humility within the Millenial not seen since the early days of the legion. Instead of, as their brothers in the main Imperial space were, being bound by rigid command hierarchy the 17th afforded opportunities for those of the lower ranks to offer insights and critiques.
So did Four-Hundred-and-Three-Four and the last crystal city of the curious Hhujla, gaseous entities encased in malleable hyper-refractive crystal shells which they could turn into energy weapons, fall. The observations of Decurion Iapetus, a man of rank usually barred from command chains, lead the fleet to position themselves to block out the planet’s sun itself and, combined with Centurion Etiad’s limitation of energy weapons, and thereby deny the xenos of much of their offensive capabilities. Similarly the cockroach-like Vashtik were eliminated by the works of Vigilator Gaius, his recon squads and the brilliance of Apothecary Abdle which allowed the legion to hijack the pheromones which the xenos used to communicate to easily outmanoeuvre their attacks and strike with near impunity. Although the traditional command structure remained largely intact, this ability for individual brilliance in the pursuit of overall perfection allowed the 17th to flourish in its way. If its parent legion paid them any mind, they would have been impressed with their splinter’s track record. However, the bulk of the Emperor’s Children legion was involved in something altogether more cataclysmic.
Return to Isstvan III
It wasn’t until the 17th Millenial had fought, bleed and died in the name of the Imperium on nearly a dozen worlds just past the edge of the Emperor’s light that their Legion finally spoke to them. For almost all within the Millenial, save those who had no recollection of being part of a larger body, this was a moment of unprecedented joy. However, the vagaries of Astropathy mean that messages do not always arrive as soon as they are meant to. When the 17th Millenial received the summons to Isstvan III, baring Fulgrim’s seal no less, the flames of betrayal were already cooling. By the time the fleet had resupplied and travelled to Isstvan III, the battle for Isstvan V had been and gone. The 17th Millenial emerged in the Isstvan system to find no sign of their parent Legion and oblivious to the civil war that was currently being waged.
What they did find was a system that had been wracked by a bitter and savage war. The orbital scans of Isstvan III looked nothing like images of the planet from the fleet’s archives. Where great cities and verdant forests had once been, now there was naught but ruin and decay. No one had an answer for what happened here, but one was coming. From the darkness a single sleek craft bearing all the marks of the Eldar approached the fleet. Immediately weapons were being armed and a firefight was about to break out when the Eldar craft called for a parlay. Captain Tiberius was inclined to ignore the request and open fire, for he suspected that the Eldar had caused the destruction he saw. However, Cyprian urged Tiberius to consider hearing what the Eldar had to say.
Tiberius relented, but declared that no xeno would set foot on his ships. The Eldar were similarly disinclined to allow Astartes aboard their ship, almost as wary of the humans as they were of the Eldar. So the parlay was to take place on the outskirts of the city that had once been called Choral City. Tiberius took his command retinue down with him and left standing instructions with Centurion Iapetus, who had risen to the position of fleet commander, that if they were even suspected to have come to harm that the fleet was to blast the Eldar ship to ruin.
The command cadre of the 17th Millenial took a Storm Eagle down to the surface to greet the xenos who seemed so eager to speak to them that they would risk death. They expected the refined Eldar they had met before, clad in the colours of Bel Tann or Uthwë. What they got was a small unit of Eldar clad in all manner or riotous writhing clothes. The ambassadors were a troupe of Harlequins and they were the ones who had force the Eldar to come here. Normally the Harlequins travelled on little more than whims, going where they pleased when they pleased. This time however, the keepers of the Black Library had requested that they be here to give one of the few performances the human race would see given by these enigmatic individuals.
Captain Tiberius was more preoccupied with why the world they were standing on had been brought to dust. The Troupe Master responded that before what had happened here could be explained, why it had happened must be explained. It is unlikely that any other legion would have allowed the performance of the Harlequins to go ahead, but the Emperor’s Children were not merely warriors, but keen appreciators of the arts and their ability to communicate deep truths. Restless as he was, Captain Tiberius bade the Eldar to explain why, providing that they similarly explained what had happened to this world and their brethren who were nowhere to be found.
The Harlequin’s usual audience has a level of psychic receptiveness that none of the Emperor’s Children present, save perhaps Cyprian, could match. However, humanity is still innately psychic even if to a lesser degree than the Eldar and so as the Harlequin troupe launched into their performance of the Fall of the Eldar, the effect on those present was still profound. By the time of the story’s climax the full horror of the Warp, and particularly of Slannesh, was apparent to the leaders of the 17th Millenial. However while the downfall of an ancient xeno race was enlightening and taught the Astartes that they had a new foe to be wary of, it did not adequately explain what had happened here or why. So, as one performance ended, another began.
The Treaty of Ash
Those present would later try and describe with words or works of art what they had seen, but nothing could truly match the performance the Eldar gave and it was a performance they would never give again. It told of the battle that had opened the door to corruption. It told of how their father had been manipulated and lied to by forces of the Warp. It told of the corruption that had spread like a cancer through the Legion. The second performance culminated with the battles in the Isstvan system, of the betrayals seen by the 3rd and 5th world. True to their word, the Harlequins had explained what and why this world had burned, and many at the time had wished they had remained ignorant.
None present wished to believe what they were being told, and many demanded proof. The Shadowseer stretched a single sinuous finger to the ruin of the city behind them. Captain Tiberius ordered his men into the city. Whatever truths were buried there, they would find them. They began to head into the city, the troupe of Harlequins dancing behind them. For several hours, the leaders of the 17th Millenial found naught but ashes, ruined buildings and the occasional dying fire. However, as they neared the centre of the city, they began to find signs of the combatants and of betrayal. A helm, recognisable as Phoenician Pattern but blackened by ash and a rent torn in the front of it, clearly the work of a chain weapon. Later a shoulder pad bearing they eye of Horus, riddled with bolter holes was found. The finds were little more than scraps, but they told a grim tale of Astartes fighting Astartes.
When finally the command cadre reached the Precentor’s palace the evidence was undeniable. Several corpses were left stroon about the palace. Most were blacked and only recognisable as Astartes by the size of their charred remains. Some had escaped whatever fire had ravaged this palace and their cobbled, mismatched and beaten armour was testament to their doom. The flesh of the dead had not rotted, attesting to the total devastation of life even down to a bacterial level. Several of those present stooped to consume the flesh of the fallen, seeing the betray through the betrayed eyes. They felt their deaths at the hands of their brethren and saw what had happened to them. What the Eldar had said was true, but also terrible to behold.
“Why show us this?” Cyprian asked the troupe of Eldar. “Why show us our brother’s folly, other than to torment us?” In response the Solitaire laughed, although Cyprian and several others felt their blood run cold at the sound of it.
“Catharsis. Your brother’s souls have been claimed by She Who Thirsts and now She hungers for yours. You must learn, as my brothers have, how to dance outside of her grasp. The fate that awaits you if you fail is death and madness.” Centurion Etiad stepped forward to pose his own question.
“Will you teach us, or do you mean to leave us to the mercy of this monstrosity your race spawned?”
There was a moment of silence between the Eldar emissaries and the Astartes leaders. Finally the Troupe master responded. “We cannot stay, our path does not permit us to. We will teach you what we can before we must move on. We will appear to guide you when the winds of fate blow us into your path, but we cannot walk this for you. You much, each of you, test yourselves and purge anything found wanting.” All eyes turned to Captain Tiberius. At his word, the Millenial would heed the words of the Eldar, or scorn them.
Captain Tiberius sighed, his eyes fixed on the heavens as if seeking to communicate with an ancient deity. “I love our Legion and our Father…” After all they had seen, the fate of the Millenial balanced on a knife edge, and as soft as his tone was it threatened to tip them over the edge. Apparently done with his supplications, Tiberius fixed his gaze on the Troupe Master and spoke with confidence. “…but I will not see all we have fought for come to ruin and our Emperor brought low.” A chorus of cheers rose from the gathered commanders. “Teach us what you can. We will walk your path and bring retribution to our erstwhile brothers.” So it was that the command structure of the 17th Millenial took the Harlequins back to their Flagship ‘Salaminia’s Virtue’
. There the Harlequins taught the command structure the ways which they might avoid the snares of Slaanesh and in turn these commanders taught their sergeants and the sergeants taught their squads.
Such an alliance was recorded in the Legion records as the Treaty of Ash. The terms of such an agreement gave the 17th several methods, both spiritual and physical, to ward themselves against the machinations of She Who Thirsts. In return, the 17th vowed that they would answer to the defence of the Harlequins whenever they called. After just a few weeks the Eldar and the Astartes parted ways. As a reminder of their pact the Harlequins left the 17th with several items of wargear to help in the prosecution of their shared foe, wargear which would even the scales against their enhanced brethren such as psychotropic grenades and variations of the masks wielded by the Harlequins. With partings concluded, the Eldar disappeared back into the void with a promise that they would appear on a whim to monitor their charges and the 17th Millenial left for Imperial space, intent on defending the Imperium it had helped to build.