I won't promise this to be serious. Not all Emperor’s Children have to be about perfection. Sometimes I’m sure all they want to do is have fun. Currently, this is a WIP, but updated as I go. More of a fun on-the-side project. A note - everyone in Mirabilibus (Wondrous) squad is named after one form or another of narcotics, some with the English term, others with the more Latin approach. Have fun guessing who is what.
They were not given the same respect as others because they hadn’t fought from the beginning of the Long War. While Etaphim raged and Orphiem muttered dark curses, Kannius let the taunts and abuse roll off his broad shoulders. Lysacidie, just as antagonized, sought honour not just for himself but for his squad, but he was young and impressionable. Rank only held him in line as far as it could advance his goals. Being mocked, as Lord Commander Eres did by using the squad as an excellent example of what not to be, never sat well with his humours.
Verlach, the only one who avoided the slings as he was as ancient as the Primarchs, watched his squad, monitored their reactions, and concocted his drugs in peace. He knew that one day the proverbial pot would boil over. Or in this instance, Lysacidie would shove a krak grenade down Eres’s throat.
That day seemed to have come at last in the Triumph Hall.
“In our last engagement, Mirabilibus squad was anything but their namesake.” Lord Commander Eres, resplendent in his purple and gold armour, strode through the ranks of his warhost. “I do not take pleasure in rebuking my warriors. However, this singular instance is an exception. When I give the order to advance, it will be done.”
He halted, the motion both graceful and dangerous. Bronze eyes without iris or pupil bore down on Sergeant Lysacidie. Affixing his aiming reticule somewhere above and to the left of the Lord Commander’s face, Lysacidie did not make eye contact and waited.
“Sergeant Lysacidie, explain to the warhost why you ran in the opposite direction.” A hundred pair of eyes turned on the Astartes officer. “Did cowardice assert itself over your heart? Were you trying to save your life? Or,” Eres’s voice dropped to a threatening whisper. “Was it an endeavor at sedition?”
“Orphiem thought he saw something.” A frown came over Eres’s powdered features. Lysacidie focused on one of the Lord Commander’s golden curls. “We required the storm bolter and when Orphiem left, I pursued. Mirabilibus squad would not have survived without the heavy support.”
“Would you care to make public why one of your warriors felt it pertinent to abscond in the middle of a strategic engagement?”
“He stated he saw a swarm of glowing insects.”
Silence reigned. Next to Lysacidie, Kannius coughed quietly and shifted. The second-in-command watched the Lord Commander’s gaze turn murderous. He opened his mouth, about to speak, when Verlach’s voice rose.
“Orphiem was injected before battle with aggression drugs. I oversaw the procedure.” Removing his helm, Verlach dared to look the Lord Commander in the eye. Skin tightened over his sharp frame, the Apothecary’s piercings’ on his cheeks shook when he spoke. “The results were unanticipated. I will have to dilute the narcotic before it can be administered to the rest of the warhost.”
Eres did not reply, but his hands curled into fists. There was an imperceptible movement as the other Emperor’s Children moved back. Few attempted to challenge Verlach die to his age and wealth of experience, with Eres no exception. Lysacidie silently thanked and swore at Verlach’s involvement in the same moment. Eres’s ideas of perfection and idealism of warriors were, even by Lysacidie’s blurred standards, insane. He required his warhost to strive for the pinnacle. Exactly what that was, Eres never revealed, but he ordered his chirurgeons to create toxins for the Chaos Space Marines to enhance their considerable strength, speed, and mental fortitude.
When Verlach had required test subjects, Lysacidie and his group were chosen by the Lord Commander himself. It was because of the Apothecary’s attachment to Mirabilibus squad that they hadn’t simply been executed by the Lord Commander for their seemingly gross ineptitude.
“Brother Orphiem, present yourself!” The Emperor’s Children to Lysacidie’s left stepped forward. Surreptitiously leaning weight on his left leg to halt the nervous tic, Orphiem held his bolter across his chest. The Lord Commander asked, “Is what Brother Lysacidie and Apothecary Verlach state true?”
“There were so many bugs, Lord Commander. I thought they could be a potential threat and sought to bring about their end if they should attack the warhost.” Orphiem spoke rapidly, his words almost flowing into each other. “I believed I had enough time to eliminate them and return before the battle’s conclusion. It was not my belief that neither my actions nor my sergeant disobeying orders would have led to our defeat.”
Eres narrowed his eyes. “Can you still see these insects, Brother Orphiem?”
“Sir,” Orphiem spoke in a high whisper. His voice cracked into a giggle. “There’s one on your right shoulder guard trying to gnaw the gold filigree.”
Lysacidie grimaced and prepared for death. He prayed to the Prince of Pleasure that it would be honourable. He did not think Mirabilibus squad would walk away from this.
“He needs to be taken immediately to the medicae ward.” Verlach stepped between the Lord Commander and hapless warrior, the latter dissolving into a fit of mad laughter. “There could be irreparable damage done before I can mend him.”
“There is far too little to mend or save,” Lord Commander Eres muttered darkly, but allowed the Apothecary to leave with Orphiem. The crazed chuckles died away, leaving the remaining three members of Mirabilibus squad to endure the public shaming as their honour was picked apart. Lysacidie thought he could see Etaphim’s anger colour the air in crimson streaks. Kannius was difficult to comprehend, but then again not much unnerved him. Twice the Lord Commander marched up and down the ranks of the assembled Chaos Space Marines; twice he grimaced when he passed Lysacidie. His sable cloak whipping behind him, Lord Commander Eres went to stand on the raised podium.
“Let my deep unhappiness be known. I desire only for this warhost, you gallant warriors, to create a name that will make others cower before us. I seek for us to be feared in the Eye of Terror. Do your utmost in every moment to bring glory. Squads who shirk in their actions from the effects of intoxicants,” Eres glared at Lysacidie and his squad, “may not bring glory or fame come the next battle.”
Lysacidie’s jaw clenched hard enough for him to bite the inside of his mouth. As blood flowed over his tongue and down his throat, the sergeant closed his eyes. He forced himself to calm down as nameless colours swirled behind his eyelids. They dancing in crazed patterns, each image bursting apart in scintillating shards until Lysacidie snapped to attention when Eres spoke once more.
“I bring news of Lord Commander Nuviem. He has issued a challenge.” A murmur went through the ranks. Eres raised a hand for silence before continuing. “To celebrate his victory over an Imperial world, he has declared a continental war game to take place. I have accepted this challenge, and we travel to meet Nuviem. This warhost will show its mettle before the others who will surely assemble. Our prestige rests on your shoulders, my warriors.”
They were dismissed as the Lord Commander exited the hall with his officers. Other squads eyed those of Mirabilibus; their curses jumped across the vox-comm. Chemical flames in silver braziers cast lurid shadows over the pillared chamber, and contorted the helmets of his rivals into beasts. Lysacidie shook his head and the world swam. When it came back into focus, the sergeant found that he, Etaphim, and Kannius were alone.
“Our honour is quite besmirched, wouldn’t you agree?” asked Kannius. Instead of answering, Lysacidie stalked down one of the ship’s corridors with Etaphim prowling behind, and Kannius trailing them.
“We were made fools,” Etaphim hissed. “Who is Eres to speak of honour and glory? He’s a worm playing at being a dragon. He, Nuviem, and the others play at being Lord Commanders. Verlach told us that rank stopped existing once the Legion was broken.”
“A worm could become a dragon. The galaxy enjoys mocking those who speak in haste.” Kannius back-pedalled as Etaphim turned on him, the former shoved against a bulkhead.
“Are you saying we deserved to be mocked?” Kannius saw his reflection in Etaphin’s helm lenses. Tensing, Kannius flexed his gene-enhanced muscles, ready to pummel his squadmate should it come to blows. Lysacidie pushed them apart and pointed at Etaphin.
“Check your temper. Amuse yourself with your pet slave if you’ve aggression to waste.”
Growling at his commanding officer, Etaphin disappeared around the corner of a junction. Lysacidie turned to Kannius. “We will see to Orphiem. As it stands, Eres won’t give our squad a replacement if Orphiem dies.”
“Delightful. Can we stop along the way and find something to eat first?”