Heresy Online Expeditious Stories 12-08: Loyalty
Written in Steel
Warsmith Tank Isilint beheld the prisoner without pity.
The captive Iron Warrior- one of Enttas’- stood motionless. This wasn’t a consequence of his bindings, which were reasonably loose, but rather a result of the taken Marine’s unconsciousness.
“We should keep him alive,” Devartin suggested. “Besides, Enttas left him behind. He’ll probably join us anyway.”
Motioning his second-in-command to silence, Isilint beheld the captive for another few moments, then silently and furiously sliced his head off.
Devartin and Isilint’s towering bodyguard Kapertastel made no comment.
“May the Gods watch over us as they clearly didn’t over this imbecile,” Isilint said. “Devartin, bring the body to Reval- let the sorcerer take care of it. And tell the Sphere to prepare for battle.”
“We’re attacking Enttas?”, Devartin asked with probably-false eagerness.
Isilint nodded, and Char Devartin, Iron Warrior of the Silver Sphere warband, rushed off to perform his duties. The Warsmith continued standing impassively until his second-in-command left, then let out a roar of loathing.
The Sphere was among the more powerful warbands (or, for the more traditional, Grand Companies) on Medrengard, and Isilint’s efforts had brought it within striking distance of being the strongest without doubt; defeating Enttas was necessary to secure his hold on Region Delta, though. But Enttas had steadily escaped a direct confrontation through Medrengard’s many tunnels- until now. It was an obvious trap.
But the hatred that burned within Isilint’s armor didn’t truly care. Enttas was a traitor to the Legion, a follower of Olympian ideals. Isilint, in Chaos, was loyal to what the Iron Warriors had become.
And that would be all that mattered.
* * *
Warsmith Zun Enttas nodded calmly as Isilint’s silver-armored Grand Company, having at last found the trap, stumbled into it.
Onkopolm and Amfelix were fighting below. Titanic engines exchanged fire in the huge cavern, crushing the chamber’s decorated walls. Isilint’s soldiers swarmed Enttas’ machines, even as Enttas’ infantry climbed Isilint’s daemons. The word alone should have been enough to dissuade the Legion from associating with Warp-spawn too closely; the things were simply too dangerous, no matter how useful they could prove. Some in the Legion, even the Primarch himself, had become similar beings; the act changed them, weakened their grip on reality and logic.
Recognizing his state had become excited once more, Enttas recited the Unbreakable Litany and methodically marched into battle. His morningstar shattered daemon-flesh like glass, and his back-mounted bolters rent apart enemy plate. He murdered in silence, but across his line a cry erupted through daemons’ howls and fire’s crackling.
“Iron within! Iron without!”
His soldiers were pressed and outnumbered, but holding. They would not need to hold much longer.
And from above the cracking ceiling, Ergas Utbyrgan dove into combat on wings of iron and breath of steam.
Behind Utbyrgan, dozens of similarly suited Iron Warriors crashed into Isilint’s ranks. Among them was venerable Turreras, the Dreadnought’s wings five times the size of the other warriors. The former Warsmith had forged them himself, turning his walking coffin into an eagle of death.
As Enttas watched, surrounded by collapsing giants, Utbyrgan swept down and obliterated Char Devartin- Isilint’s sycophantic second-in-command- in moments. Yet the enemy Warsmith was nearby, and with a hurt cry he hurled a man-sized axe into Utbyrgan’s helmet.
And, with a scream that echoed across the impossible planet of Medrengard and returned back to Enttas’ maw magnified hundredfold, the Warsmith broke into a run.
* * *
“Faster!” Isilint screamed to Reval.
The Sorcerer nodded and threw the corpse from before onto a bloody bonfire.
The Silver Sphere was holding, but cracks were appearing in their defense. Shells beat through the floor below them. Fire devoured the air around them. They were outnumbered, on the edge of devastation.
But Isilint hated the weaklings who accepted such disasters as fate. He would give anything to avoid becoming an outcast. It was not his best trait, but desperation led to heroism.
And now, the Silver Sphere was fighting heroically. True, a number of them, those that didn’t believe in Isilint’s plan, had left; but with every kill Isilint made he imagined he was slaying one of those cowards.
First use the Primarch. Then take his place. I will make a greater Legion.
“I can’t do it!” Reval screamed to Isilint over the sound of falling daemons. “I needed Warp-touched flesh!”
Isilint turned around and fired his bolter at Reval’s exposed head.
The Sorcerer fell into the pyre, and an image began to materialize. The summoning had begun. Isilint could already see the calculating horror on his counterpart’s face- Enttas understood.
Before Isilint, Kapertastel fell, impaled on a power-claw meant for the Warsmith. The next instant, the Dreadnought with that claw was far away, soaring on impossible wings. It was Enttas who emerged next, but he did not have the chance to strike Isilint.
To the Warsmith’s left, a grey form blinked into pseudo-reality. It looked in many ways humanoid, but the dark gray suit of armor on it concealed every identifying feature save the face. Massive claws, constantly burning, replaced fingers. A ceramite horn pointed out of the daemon-prince’s forehead.
Isilint fell to his knees immediately, and Enttas barely resisted doing likewise. A mixture of awe and satisfaction surged through Isilint’s mind. The daemon-hating, logic-revering Warsmith would be ended at last, and by his own gene-father at that.
“You aren’t-” Enttas began.
Then Perturabo sliced Isilint’s head open.
* * *
“Why?” Enttas asked his father later, when the battle was over.
Perturabo- or rather, his avatar, for his true consciousness was in the Iron Fortress the entire time- shrugged. “You were more an Iron Warrior than your foe. But that isn’t enough of an explanation, of course.”
“It isn’t,” Enttas said. “I- dislike what you’ve become.”
“And what the Legion has become, too,” the Primarch said. “But neither of these is a sin. I myself often feel deeper disgust than even you at both. Yet you were loyal- you did not paint your armor silver over iron. You did not entertain the thought of taking my throne. Isilint did both. Yes, Olympia is dead. We killed it. But you are its children, more than you will ever be mine.”
“Are we the only ones who believe that?”
Perturabo grinned. “Far from it. In one way or another, whether they know it or not, all loyal Iron Warriors believe it.”
And then the Primarch’s avatar disappeared, leaving truth sharpened in its wake.