It is the 402nd year of 40th millenium, and the esteemed forgeworld of Ryza has called upon its allies and those indebted to aid their leadership, the Fire Lords and Executioners among them, to explore the truth behind a troubling distress call hailing from the Golan system. There, is a mining scale of massive proportions, where floating orbital plates collect the precious gaseous resources from Golan Primus and refine them into elements used in Ryza’s unique plasma-based weapon designs.
This work is a collaboration between Dark Angel, and myself. We will be alternating chapters, and who wrote each part will be shown. Respectful comments and critique are, as always, welcome.
An exiled Magos sent to oversee the Golan Operation, is believed to be a turncoat, and has the Golan defense forces under his command. Preparing for the worst case scenario, a large and diverse group of forces is assembled and sent to crush any and all opposition. The massive fleet, its Lord militant, Admiral, Captains and more, will come to find the supposed worst case scenario... nothing compared to the reality.
The Rusting of Golan
Written by: Unxpekted
- 402.M40 - Ryza Sector
- Xolanis sub-sector
- Golan Star system
- Second Tier Golan orbital plate: Foxtrot
“Gammin IV,” Ikrixiel prodded, reaching out his long, thin, multi jointed mechanical arm to what could only be described as his friend. Or, who had been his friend sometime ago before all of these...strange circumstances. The chords slung under his wrist seemed to move more than the cloaked individual.
Ikrixiel prodded again, “Gammin IV. Gammin IV. Do you respond Gammin IV?”
The air pressure in his head seemed to increase. The discs and gears whirring where his jaw used to be tightened together. What little organics he had left caused his overall temperature to very slightly increase, despite the dank location where he now stood.
The green light in his eyes searched the empty corners of the room. He had already looked at these corners and had confirmed nothing of interest several times. He was beginning to grow concerned about himself now, never mind the well being of all his fellow Aeriform refiners. He was precisely 94.632% positive that he was the only Magos left on this orbital plate who was still functioning at normal parameters. The stationed Skitarii, the priests, the labourers of Golan Secundus, and by the Omnissiah’s name even the servitors were functioning oddly. He tried to think back when it all began, to try and figure out if something had happened to everyone else, or only himself.
Gammin IV had been particularly good at his duties. He knew the exact temperatures the collected Aeriform should be at during each stage of purification and separation. The exact pressures, when to add chemicals, when to remove them, and how much of course. His true specialties were isomerization and hydrotreating. He had even been one to delegate which materials should be used to store and transform the elements gathered from Golan’s atmosphere. He had been offered, several times, to help coordinate the responsibilities required of the Third Tier. Yet, he had always refused, preferring to be right amongst the refining processes here on Second Tier Foxtrot. He would often say, “It is only logical that I qualify for these tasks. I am the fourth, newest, and thus most efficient Therik Gamma assigned to the Golan Resource Collection and Refinery Operation.”
Their binary chatter had always been pleasing to Ikrixiel. Until, and he had to approximate this, just…had to, until about one year and seven months ago standard Terran time. He was certain, however, that changes in the relative proximity of Second Tier Foxtrot had started long before that.
He went over these changes in his mind, for the 7,651st time. The number of times he had gone over the changes he had observed had increased exponentially in the last few months.
It had started with decreases in productivity. There was a peculiar presences of deadness to the workforce, in their eyes both….the augmented and biological ones, he had noted, perturbed. Then, the complete opposite. The eyes around him became wild. Lenses glew bright, even outside in Golan’s light pupils were expanded as wide as possible. Conversations became filled with odd chatter. Binary was being used less at first, until his comrades found ways to utilize it in a manner he had still yet to decipher; something similar to prayer.
Strange illustrations that had nothing to do with any machinery he was familiar with began appearing on the walls, on the pipes, and on the sides of the massive cooling tanks. Then, he began having conversations of sorts, with several of the other low ranked Magi on the Second Tier plates. It very quickly became only them talking, Ikrixiel standing in silence, awestruck and rather disgusted. Though, none could tell from his completely augmented face. His co-workers had grown bored of their usual tasks. They spoke blasphemy. Rules of the Cult Mechanicus were broken before his very eyes, left and right. Personal chambers had become filled with heretical experimentations. Some of the human crew had even begun volunteering their bodies for the…these…he shuddered everytime he reviewed this. He did not know the words. He could perhaps describe the things he had witnessed in binary, but he was too repulsed to do even that, despite its impressively shortened form in comparison.
Ikrixiel had stayed silent. None of the normally functioning workers from the Hive were able to hide their repulsions and disagreements from the others. The pheromones, facial expressions, grunts, and loss of appetites, were all indications that they felt differently. These workers had completely disappeared from the station within months. The conversion of those belonging to the Orders of the Mechanicus took much longer to become so one-sided. Or it was much less obvious, at least.
Ikrixiel had not once asked anyone a question about any of this. He had observed, and tried to figure out where these changes were originating from by himself, but it had been so long now. He wasn’t getting answers without asking questions. However, he didn’t really need to ask questions anymore. He was surrounded by unlawful, heretical behavior, but there were no options that came with this conclusion. He had no access to any long range communications, if he intruded into the communications area, it would just be another thing that would blow his cover. There was no need for Ikrixiel to enter communications, for he was solely assigned to refining duty.
The idea of this sort of thing actually happening around him was hard to grasp as something that was entirely real. Of course, he had been taught the signs of taint during his time on Mars, but what could one actually do? He hadn’t realized it soon enough, not until the entire station was immersed in it.
Then sixty-four days ago, for the first time in over a century
, came a change in formula. Ryza was requesting something different, specifically, a change to the nanofluid coolant. Little...he enjoyed his humor... no
changes could be made to the basic Hydrogen and Oxygen they pulled from the planet’s atmosphere. Atoms could be added to them of course, but Ryza would always need a large supply of each of these elements in their independent states. The Aeriform, the way it had been, was essential for the neessary nanofluid coolant used on the unique plasma weapon systems manufactured and exported from the forge world. He had never been informed why the request for changes had been handed down from the operation’s leadership.
Then a second command from the Golan Operations leadership. Munitions and structural materials for weapon batteries were brought to his orbital plate’s doorstep, and much of the servitorial labor was re-tasked. In weeks, the orbital plates defenses had increased tenfold.
The mechanisms in his neck clicked hard with the speed in which he turned his head back towards the crouching Gammin IV.
Beginning situation evaluation number 7,652:
It had started when Magos Errant Rho-Theta XVII arrived in the Golan system, the new commanding Director of the Golan Resource Collection and Refinery Operation. Then the decreases in productivity. There was a peculiar presences of deadness to the workforce, in their eyes. Both the augmented and biological ones….
From what He had gathered, Gammin IV had taken a long time to succumb to the changes around the orbital plate. One of the last aside from himself, if not the
last. He wasn’t about to give up on him. Ikrixiel used his three wide, tong like fingers this time, squeezing the dark grey robes that lay over Gammin IV’s cranium, deltoid, and dorsal regions. His claw began to pull the cloak, tenting it from the spindly joints and machine parts of Gammin IV’s physiology.
Gammin IV stood. Ikrixiel stepped back, releasing his vice on the dark, oil stained cloth. Gammin IV turned to him, the light in his three eyes a bright purple. There was something black painted on his forehead region. Ikrixiel’s stomach would have felt like it was sinking, if he hadn't replaced it with something much more efficient. His right eye protruded some, focusing sharply on the black symbol. A multitude of mechadendrites rose, slowly, from beneath Gammin IV’s cloak. They were like snakes, waiting to strike. His friend spoke in Gothic, the discordant sounds emanating from the skull shaped faceplate. For the mouth, only the lower jaw was represented.
“Ikrixiel. You have disturbed me in my worship. I have never seen you pay respects, nor, homage. I have never seen you kneel. You do your duty without question. Why? Ask that question Ikrixiel. Why dont you do something different?”
He began to step forward, forcing Ikrixiel back.
“I’ve had a very uncomfortable suspicion. A suspicion that somehow, someway, you have avoided the greater going-ons of Golan. Shall I review the words and teachings of the Rust-King? He has blessed us, and given us liberating vision! It took so long for me to see that the slave labour the governing worms of Ryza have commanded of us, can be used against them.”
A cackle of static and spurts of binary exploded from the vox unit behind his false teeth. They were chuckles, laughter, and half-formed ideas.
Ikrixiel only said one thing in response to this new Gammin IV, which he had never met before now.
The dozen or so mechadendrites hovering about the form of Gammin IV moved in unison. They ceased their floating posture, stiffened as if targeting him, and launched forward. Three of them grabbed his faceplate, the rest his other limbs, pinning him to the wall. Gammin IV pushed his face in close, roaring, screaming, or some version of both.
“You don’t know of the Rust-King!? How dare
Ikrixiel’s multi jointed arms twisted and turned over the ribbing and coils of the mechadendrites. He managed to pull some free, but the moment he went for another the previous one went straight back to its place. Finally, he knew what needed to be done. With the change of Gammin IV now 100% evident, his resolve was completed. He would get to communications, push the signal past Third Tier as best he could toward Ryza, and pray to the Machine God it got through.
“He is our visionary! He is everything
. How did I leave you in the dark for so long?”
Ikrixiel gave up on the mechadendrites. He unfolded a third arm from beneath his metal ribcage and slammed a fist into Gammin IV’s abdominal region. His servo-arm unfolded simultaneously, throwing off the hood of his deep red cloak and smashing the face of his assailant aside. His feet dropped, reconnecting with the floor.
He was at the door, sliding through its automatic operation and punching in a code to lock it when six mechadendrites latched onto each closing side and forced it back open. Ikrixiel ran, various parts of his body clanking as he did so. His third arm folded back into his chest cavity as he ran. His own mechadendrites latching onto poles, pipes, anything in front of him they could use to pull him forward faster. The tail end of his red Mechanicus cloak fluttered through the refinery. A screeching blurt of machine code echoed sharply throughout the chamber behind him, reaching his audio sensors with an unrelenting stabbing. It bounced off the large cooling tanks and distilling chambers that reached all the way up to the ceiling. Their normally soothing, humming bass tones were lost with Gammin IV’s cries of chase.
The cover of complete darkness disappeared in an instant as Ikrixiel made his way through the chamber entrance, following a trio of massive copper colored pipes out into the void skied corridor. The industrial plate was emotionally lit by the bright blues and greens of the gas giant’s atmosphere.
He ran along the pathway he had walked thousands of times in his duties. Normally there were figures here, everywhere, maintaining the massive equipment that surrounded him now like buildings. He could see servitors, sitting blank minded in the seats of new structures; ones that pointed their angry fingers toward the stars. They rotated, searching, begging for something to shoot down. As always, he couldn't help but notice a couple of the other nearby orbital plates lazily floating their own paths in the distance.
He could see shadowed figures far off, grouped together, not doing a single one of their duties. Hundreds of hands were raised up, which was all he had time to see before he was in cover of structure once more. The beautiful view of the void vanishing. The metal sheets covering of the Operations Control Bay shadowing him in complete black again.
For whatever reason, the workers had cut the lighting on the station and it seemed to be nearly station-wide. Fortunately he had replaced his poor excuse for ocular devices. Sprinting through the darkness was no hard task. But it wasn’t for Gammin IV either.
Several minutes later, he had reached his location. The automatic door did not acknowledge him standing before it. His awkwardly designed arm reached out to it, punching in multiple codes. Nothing was working. Again he felt the discs and gears in his head and neck tighten, the pressure increasing. The piston-like parts of his legs and arms audibly tensed. His servo-arm raised up again, punching the door. He tried three more times, creating a large dent with each connection. His mechadendrites slapped uselessly at it as he gave the servo-arm one last try. A dent, just large enough for his fingers to fit into, appeared along the center. He shoved the servo-arm into the trench and split the difference.
He moved from one console to another. His ocular lenses took in information at lightning speed, scrolling the text and code at each stations control’s, learning their function.
The clicking came first.
Ikrixiel turned his head to look over his shoulder, knowing what he would see. Sure enough, Gammin IV stood like a devil between the wrenched open mess of a doorway. Sparks spurted out in handfuls, lighting him up with soft flares. His three purple lenses stared at Ikrixiel. Intent was clear even without iris or sclera, lid or brow. He stepped in.
Ikrixiel looked frantically for it now. The void communications station practically hiding from him. As he turned he noticed Gammin IV was walking closer to him, though he didn’t waste even a nano-second focusing on the figure while spinning around looking for the right controls.
He found it. He pushed past the other consoles and stations, his fingers and mechadendrites striking the station to life. Static came through the comms. He adjusted the dials. He found Ryza’s numbers. He selected them.
Connection error. Waiting for signal.
Ikrixiel crashed his fist onto the dashboard, yelling out in anger. He turned his head again and Gammin IV was right
He was already being lifted by an arm. The pulling grip of mechadendrites returned to his frame. He couldn’t look down to see if the channel had successfully opened. He glanced down just enough to see the comm button. With one of his own mechadendrites he slammed open the link. He knew what was coming, so he made his message as fast as possible.
“The Golan Operation has been corrupted. Rho-Theta XVII is traitor to both the Mechanicus and Imperium. System needs repair!”
Whatever it was, it was sharp. It punctured through his abdominals with ease. He still stared into Gammin IV’s oculars as it happened, his own green lenses flickering.. His face had no way of changing to give sign of the pain.
Gammin IV gripped a metal spike of some sort, torn out of some machinery that he likely knew of on the way here. He pulled his weapon out, blood and oil pouring from the same wound.
Ikrixiel attempted to strike back, but his servo-arm punched the air. Gammin IV had his tentacle-limbs throw Ikrixiel to the closest wall, which sent him through two console stations first. Gammin IV followed the limp body, leaping to it, pushing it up against the wall with one hand and repeatedly stabbing it over and over again with the spike he held.
Ikrixiel stared at the door he had wrenched open, sparks still flying out of its damaged frame here and there as dozens of holes were punched into his body. Onyx colored oil, blended with blood, flowed everywhere. It splashed with each puncture.
Ikrixiel heard a whisper come from the comms station he had activated. Then he became the corpse of the last being loyal to the Imperium inside the Golan system.
Written by: Unxpekted
- 324.M40 - Seventh year of the Hassla Campaign.
Astartes Forces present:
- Imperial Fists
- And as of Q2 of the current year, the Red Talons
- Krusher Mog OrkTribe
- Hassla Majoris
- Continent Epsilon
- Unnamed valley, just outside the ork city designated Mog Teef by the Krusher Mog tribe, and City Red by Imperial Forces.
- Imperial offensive
Conric Alnun was already agitated. The Executioners’ allies were being too safe for his tastes. This war had already gone on for seven years
. He half leaned, half sat in a filthy trench dirtying his dull, metallic blue armor. The trenches were dug by the Guard forces present and as such, were barely deep enough for the Astartes to cover themselves with. His shoulder guard was pressed firmly into the dirt wall, his legs tightly bent at odd angles. He was watching a grainy pic-feed on his helmet’s display that was being transmitted to him from another squad. They were showing him a higher angle of the Orks’ position up ahead.
He held his chainsword in one hand, his other flat against a rock helping to support his large frame. He had thought the arrival of the Red Talons would help push things along faster. The damned Fists and their need for precision in all things. It had taken months to raze City Green. He almost wanted to scream into the air again at the thought. During the first year he had been impressed by the incredibly short number of losses the Imperial Fists had taken, but by the second he and the rest of the Executioners had had enough. Most of the Fists had relatively cool heads compared to the Executioners, though, meaning little fighting actually broke out between the two groups. It also helped that the Executioners held high respects for their founding Chapter.
However, the Red Talons were a different story.
There was one now, hunched into the dirt just across from him, the blue of his eye lenses meeting Conric’s red. He knew they were both scowling at each other. He thought, they being forged from the same blood as the Iron Hands, that their Primarch’s doctrine of strength would push the campaign where the Executioners felt it needed to go. It did, somewhat. Unfortunately, the Talons’ utter distaste for the practices and culture of the Executioners caused them to continually bicker, clash, and quarrel. The Imperial Fists were constantly forced to play the role of peacemaker. Any speed gained by the Red Talons’ presence was countered by the three Chapters’ infighting.
Conric narrowed his eyes,
Look at you, you and your pathetic bolter. Such a tiny blade at your grieve. Honourless fool. Scared of blood.
He admired his chainsword with a grin. Its teeth were modified, extended length and curve, each tooth mended with two smaller ones on each side that spun in the opposite direction. It was a wide tool, but he was using it as practice for something bigger. The brutal double headed chain axe he aspired to use one day. It was a rare weapon, even amongst his chapter. It was inelegant in every way. If not perfectly used it was a burden, but if so, it was bloody hell in any close combat situation he could think of. He was getting ahead of himself, though. It would likely be decades until he was ready to carry the double edged chainaxe into battle.
Somehow, he had ended up the only Executioner in this elongated pit. Five Imperial fists, a combat squad, were to his side. Three of them stood hunched, bolters laid on the edge for firing support, taking single shots at the coming Orks. He wasn’t watching, but he knew every time they pulled the trigger and heard one of their bolters bark, the round hit exactly as intended.
Besides the Red Talon who was still staring at him, there were two and a half others.
In his three centuries of service, Conric had made a habit of putting his finger through the blood of his most challenging or highly ranked foes, and marking his faceplate with a vertical streak of it. He had maintained them as well as he could, but he had clearly started on the right side of the helm; the streaks going through shades of dark red to faint brown. If he had to guess, the Red Talon staring at him was probably aching to insult this feature.
“You’re not going to lure them out this way, Kaiden,” Conric spoke out, directing his thoughts towards the Imperial Fist Sergeant, who was hunched to the left of the Red Talon across from him, his finger on his earpiece. The Sergeant’s power fist was shoved into the soft dirt at his feet. He took his finger away from his ear and looked up at Conric, narrowing his eyes in confusion.
“I wasn’t aware we were trying
to lure the Orks out, Executioner.”
Conric gave an exasperated sigh.
“We are trying to get through the Ork forces in this valley, in order to reach City Red.”
He hadn’t really phrased it as a question, but the pause that he left linger in the air suggested it as such. Unsure, Sergeant Kaiden grimly nodded his head in affirmation.
“Orks are attracted to challenges, they are primal-minded beasts who need war to survive. Instead of taking pot shots and taking down a couple at a time we should lure them out to fight us, defeat them quickly en masse, and move on. We use less ammunition that way, take the objective faster, and don’t have to worry so much about reinforcements coming from another part of the Tribe before taking the city’s defensive position.”
One of the Red Talons snapped in reply, “We are
luring them you barbaric idiot! They are coming out of their holes straight to us, and being shot dead! Piecemeal!”
Part of Conric’s face twitched in frustration, his grip on the rock tightened, pushing it further into the dirt.
“We aren't giving them a clear decision to make. This isn’t enough to get all of them running toward us, only the few who get aggravated to the point that they disobey their leader’s orders to hold a defensive.”
A grumbled shout came from one of the Imperial Fists. Bullets thudded into the dirt around their trench, throwing debris from the earth up into a storm. The Marine had taken one to the shoulder, but was fine. They all ducked for a moment before continuing their aimed shots.
“That's the other thing,” Conric mentioned, “by declaring ranged warfare, we encourage them to shoot
back instead of charge. If they throw a bomb in this hole, there won’t be much I can do about it. If I am in hand to hand with them, none of them will stop me."
Two of the Red Talons now openly laughed at him. One, who dramatically held a hand over his abdomen, called him out.
“None of them will stop you? Did your brothers think the same when they fell today enacting your foolish stratagems?”
The air seemed to drop, filling the trench with pressure. None of the Imperial Fists said anything, but the Marine closest to Conric stopped his firing for a moment, turning his head in the direction of such a careless remark. Nothing meant more to an Executioner than his honour. They fought each other, to the death
over it, if need be. Another practice the other two Chapters found appalling. The Imperial Fists had been fighting this campaign with the Executioners for seven years now and they had already learned their lesson. The newly arrived loud-mouthed Red Talons, apparently hadn’t.
A small explosive hit the ground just outside the trench the very moment Conric began to rise, sending dirt flying over the back of his head and powerpack. As his fist landed into the side of the Talon’s faceplate, shots flew past him, and into him. Unphased, he continued to pummel the Marine’s helmet, denting the armor and chafing the red paint. The two Talons capable of doing so were on him, pulling him away with grunts and shouts. The Imperial Fists shouted as well, Kaiden the loudest with absolute fury in his eyes. He had grown exhausted of dealing with this.
Conric pushed away from the pulling and smashing of the Talons. He grabbed the edge of the trench and climbed his way out, another detonation shaking the earth as his second foot made it out of the hole. He would do it himself. His brothers may have fallen, but all it had meant was that they weren’t good enough. They should have trained harder. He was better. He would prosper. He cared not for his life compared to his honour. He had to prove to his allies that he was right, or he may as well die anyway.
Kaiden ordered him back into the trench.
I do not take orders from you
. Thought Conric.
“Let him get killed! He has attacked us. Betrayed us!” shouted the marine with a dented helm, his hand busy pulling away the shattered pieces of his left eye lense.
They dishonoured his brothers, himself, and now called betrayal. That
, was far
more damaging than a few punches to the face. He yelled through clenched teeth, a bellowing growl emanating from his helmet's vox grill. He stared through the smoky haze that covered the orks’ position. Through it he saw the shadows. A bolt pistol was mag-locked to his waist, but his hand didn’t move to it. He gripped his chainsword and revved it, focusing on its sawing sound speeding up and slowing down. Daring the enemy, he stood tall, still, and defiant. He saw the green, brown, and black.
Kaiden yelled orders for covering fire. Bolter rounds shot out from behind his feet, flying into the greenskins running toward him creating clear-aired spirals through the clouds of dirt raised by the recently thrown explosives.
With another agitated yell of no words, and still staring forward at the approaching enemy, Conric kicked out his left leg smashing the closest bolter aside, causing it to fly into the second and third one simultaneously. Suddenly empty handed, the Fists’s were shocked at such an occurrence.
He could see the teeth now, in succession with their wide mouthed wails. His armor dumped adrenaline into his system, his massive muscles flexing and twitching. He was too focused to make out the words of Sergeant Kaiden’s demands.
Crude blades were raised, and muzzle flares blinked their short lives. Rounds flew into Conric, hitting hard, causing him to move slightly with each one. One round made it through the armor and into his arm, blood splattering out of it. Still he stood, unwavering.
The Fists gave up trying to convince him. They couldn’t go back to their old plan at this point anyway. Conric had done what he wanted, he stood proud and in the clear. He had made the challenge and drawn the enemy out. The Orks couldn’t resist slaughtering him in close combat now, and they would be upon the trench in seconds.
Just as their feet were firmly on the same level of earth as Conric’s, one of the Fists was knocked straight back into the trench with his chest blown out in an organic, blood covered mess. There was no telling what hit him. Conric didn’t blink. He didn’t budge.
He could smell them now; their stinking rot. Horrible. To the acute senses of an Astartes, there was no way to describe it. The Fists drew their combat blades. Kaiden activated his power fist; a wave of electricity visibly running along its course from the wrist to the fingertips.
There were horned helmets, falling saliva, and too many Greenskin vocal cords vibrating at once. It stirred his hatred further the moment before taking his first step forward. A thick blade swung down at him as he moved. The first Ork was already dead, and now the second. His chainsword revved at full speed, its whine a song warning the Ork’s of their failure. The sound went numb at quick intervals, while being repeatedly buried beneath the flesh of another Greenskin. Weapons clashed with the Fists behind him. Conric didn’t know if the Red Talons had decided to help yet or not. It didn’t matter to him. He knew they would all be dead by the end of this. To help make sure, he slipped cleanly past the largest Ork of the bunch so far, letting the beast stumble past him with a crazed roar. It was carried onward by the momentum of its massive swinging power claw, straight toward the trench Conric had risen from.
Have fun with that one, Talons
An Ork Boy came at him from the side, trying to emulate the roar of its much larger kin. Conric shot out his fist, pushing it clean through the Ork’s throat and out the back of its hunched neck. He raised the Ork up, letting its body become cleaved in half by his next attacker before sawing that one in half as well. He flung the remaining corpse off, spinning round and fully immersing himself in the warband’s grasp. As he spun, through all of the kicked up dirt, he caught a glimpse of the Sergeant doing some good work of his own.
The Executioner never stopped moving. The metallic blue of his armor aiding to the fluid-like effect of his movements. He would crouch low, long-stanced, slicing legs and bellies only to rise high and leap at the throat of a taller enemy. But they kept coming. For exactly 15 minutes and 19 seconds, they kept coming.
Conric stood, breathing heavy. His chainsword finally coming to a rest. An enormous gash now rendered his right shoulder guard ineffective at protecting any further substantial strikes. His arm had stopped bleeding, but multiple wounds to his legs and midsection still streamed steady. He felt somewhat dizzy, but stood tall. He knew his armor was providing the necessary aid to his already incredible anatomy.
He turned around to find the Sergeant’s grim face staring him down. He was the only one left. Conric smiled beneath his helm as he looked past the Sergeant at the bloody mess of Red Talons in the trench. One of them had died half-crawling out of it.
Wouldn’t make the Iron Hands very proud with behaviour like that
. He thought to himself.
“There.” Conric said with a heavy breath, “Now the armor can roll on through to the city, unimpeded.” He moved closer to the Sergeant.
“There, and now eight
astartes are dead who may not have been.” Kaiden was now as unmoving as Conric had been while the Orks were charging.
“What does it matter, Sergeant? They were weapons. They died doing what they were designed
to do. If their martial skills had been better, they would still be alive to complete another objective, but they’re not. We can’t waste any more time in this war, its gone on too long already and there are other threats in nearby systems that need dealing with. There are three Chapters in this conflict, we won’t be running low on men, and if we do, then we deserve
“They were not as old
as us, Alnun. They weren’t as experienced. They didn’t stand a chance in an onslaught like that. We Astartes need to be raised like any other soldier, not thrown into a meat grinder they’ve never experienced and then blame
them for dying.”
The Sergeant raised a pointed finger, no longer caring about the Executioner’s justifications, “You will be censured for this, Alnun! I will not
have you fighting beside my men anymore in this war.”
As Kaiden spoke he heard the click of a vox channel activate inside Conric’s helmet, who now stood rather close.
“I doubt it Sergeant, my commanding officer just thanked me for clearing the path.”
He took a deep breath. He didn’t mean to offend the Sergeant, in all honesty. Kaiden was, after all, the only one he actually had respected of the group. He had been the only one with some real honour on his belt.
“A newly initiated Executioner fights in the same circumstances as the rest of his chapter-brothers. If they had been Executioners, and one of them had survived instead of you, he would understand completely. I’m not sure how to make you
understand this. We’ll throw one of them into the same fires as a veteran. This is how we gain our honour. If they survive, it is recognised, and they have established themselves for the next fight.”
Conric shook his head, “If they die, they die in honourable combat doing what they were designed for...killing as many of the enemy as they could before being slain themselves.”
They could hear the rumble of engines, and feel it in the soles of their feet. Sergeant Kaiden said nothing more. He raised his hand to his earpiece again, loudly asking for an apothecary. Geneseed needed to be extracted. Then the Sergeant simply turned away from Conric, walking from him. The Executioner wondered if the Red Talon Apothecary was also still on the way, as he looked over the mess in the trench and the previously two-limbed Red Talon that was now, for all intents and purposes, nothing.
Alnun took off his own helm, placing it on the maglock at his waist. His short black hair went back to standing on end as soon as the helm was lifted. He was unperturbed by the Fist’s hidden emotions, watching the yellow armored figure grow ever more distant now. Even still, this campaign needed to be done and over with. He was sick of it.
Written by: Dark Angel
- Ryza Sector
- Sanction System
- Fire Lords chapter
The war upon Sanction had been a short and brutal affair. I had been there from the beginning, sword and bolter in hand, marching proudly under the banner of Lord Isca Brennus. We had chased the Dark Eldar, the Kabal of the Cruel Hands, as they called themselves, throughout the Gulf - Vengeance in our hearts, murder-lust in our blood. Sanction itself was a garden world, with continent-spanning flowerbeds and thorn-bush mazes; vast pastures for the grox, great, ornamental ponds. It was relatively low-tech, with a sole space station hovering in geosynchronous orbit, manned by a skeleton crew of Mechanicus Adepts operating out of Ryza. Early on in the campaign, their throats had been split by treasonous pleasure cultists, and the guns of the station turned upon Sanction itself.
We shattered it all. We were indiscriminate in our slaughter. It shames me, now. Women, men and children - The Fire Lords gave no mercy. I, as a member of the Second Company, was billeted aboard the Chariot
, and thus witnessed the destruction of the orbiting station with glee. Our guns roared silently in the void, and the station had come apart by the seems; twisting and pirouetting, decompressing as it lost integrity. It was a systematic destruction, the entire vessel relishing in the killing. Afterwards, with Sanction lying defenceless before us, the might of the Fire Lords - Over three hundred battle-brethren - Fell upon the garden world. We burned her cities, toppled her statues, hauled the people before mock courts of Sergeants and Captains. All were found guilty of the most terrible crime - Housing and concealing the monstrous Eldar.
City-by-city, we depopulated a world. In the Gardens of Scylla, we met with the Eldar - A vast warhost of chrome-armoured scarecrows, wielding wicked blades and malicious guns. They had corralled the last of the Sanctioners before them, and with wicked whips, forced the Imperials onto our blades. We butchered them. I remember nothing of the battle, but afterwards, when the carrion birds pecked at the dead, my sword-arm was stained brown to the elbow. They had to pry
my Chainsword from my grip, heh. It had been glued - With blood - To the palm of my hand.
The few survivors, Xenos and Imperial alike, were bound to stakes and roasted. I dragged one man, a frail and bearded fellow who begged for his life, into the flames - Watched him writhe and blacken. My battle-brothers jeered. I watched him impassively from behind my face-plate. Emperor, I enjoyed that. We all did. We all relished in it. We bathed in the blood, warmed ourselves with the funeral pyres of untold millions. It was a long-time coming, this revenge.
'Sergeant Aeron,' Someone said, behind me, as I watched. I snapped out of my reverie and turned. The swordsman, Caderyn, was standing behind me with folded arms - His tremendous blade, the famed Illuminos
, sheathed at his side. His emerald eyes, marvelous in their intensity, danced with flames. He was, as he is now, an handsome bastard. 'Greetings.'
'Caderyn,' I grunted, offering my hand. He clasped it, his grip firm. 'What brings you here?'
'Lord Brennus has summoned the war council,' Caderyn sang, ash falling upon his flesh. 'An envoy of the Mechanicus has arrived.'
I nodded, gathered my Squad, and followed the swordsman to the war-tent.
The war-tent was blisteringly hot, braziers burning in the corners, embers dancing in the wind. My brothers had assembled there, in various states of disarray - Some, like myself, still wore our battle-plate, but most lounged in pelts, like jaguars, eyeing the Mechanicus envoy. Have you ever witnessed a gathering of three hundred
Space Marines, boy? It is a terrifying, awe-inspiring thing. I've seen men piss themselves before one
Marine. But this Priest, his name was Jacyn, stood before us with his chest puffed out and his shoulders squared. I liked him.
Lord Brennus, unmistakable in his gold-etched armour, met Jacyn before us all. That is the way of the Fire Lords, there is no secrecy. We are a brotherhood, we share. We make a collective decision. If the men do not wish to march, then that is that. Archaic, eh?
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, Lord Brennus. We loved the First Captain. Brennus was a careful man, a magnificent leader. He was proud, fierce, charismatic. He was confident without being arrogant. He knew the ways of war like no other. I have never known such a man, Space Marine or otherwise, to be so universally loved. Brennus was like a force of nature, it was impossible
not to like him.
He met Jacyn like a feudal king, sitting atop an ivory throne.
'Adept of the Mechanicus,' He purred, fingering his beard. His voice was soft, sweet. It is ironic, now that I think of it - Our lord, the most powerful man in a dozen systems, was gentle
. 'I welcome thee.'
Jacyn bowed deeply. He had augmented eyes, both blue, that clicked and whirred. His flesh was milky-pale. There was something odd
about him. And he stank, too. Like blood and oil and corpse-flesh. It permeated from him, ebbed and flowed from somewhere beneath those voluminous, crimson robes. He was not alone. A pair of Skitarii accompanied him, both carrying banners that depicted the half-skull, half-machine emblem of the Mechanicus. They were, curiously, unarmed. Not that weapons would have done them any good.
'Thank you, sire,' Jacyn said, in his flesh-voice. His words sounded awkward, disjointed. He was unused to speaking, I realised. 'It is an honour.'
Brennus nodded. 'There's no honour, here, Priest. This world is a grave. We discovered a cult of the most perfidious
nature,' Someone in the ranks produced an Eldar helm, conical and glossy like a beetle's carapace, and tossed it to Jacyn's feet. The face-plate had been shattered by a fist. 'And, delivered His Judgment. Dirty work. Honourless.'
'Eldar?' Jacyn asked, tilting his head. 'Here?'
'Once,' Brennus pointed to one of the war-tent's flapping entrances. Outside, it was raining ash and embers. 'We burned them.'
The First Captain was a blunt speaker.
Jacyn made a satisfied noise and spoke once again. 'I am here to summon you.'
'Summon me?' Brennus echoed. Everyone, including myself, laughed. Jacyn shrunk before the noise, looking mortified. 'Who has the temerity to summon me, machine man?'
'The Fabricator-General of Ryza,' Jacyn replied, stiffening. 'He has instructed me to remind you, noble Astartes,' Jacyn produced a bejeweled pendant from his robes. It twinkled. It was the symbol of the Fire Lords. 'That your Chapter is indebted
to my forge.'
There was an outcry. Voices were raised, fingers rapped against tables. Brennus looked down, at his feet. He was thinking the same as I.
If Ryza was calling for help, then she was threatened. You have to understand that Ryza rivaled Mars in those times, before the Orks came. Ryza was responsible for manufacturing the Ultima Segmentum's war-goods. If she fell, the entire Segmentum - Throne, the entire Imperium, would be destabilised. My hands curled into fists.
'Silence,' Brennus called, and everyone obeyed. 'Ryza is an old ally of my Chapter, Adept,' He grumbled, standing. He towered over us all, in stature and personality. He was a great man. 'Go. Tell your master that the Fire Lords will answer.'
Everyone roared, and this time, it was of approval. Jacyn grinned, ear-to-ear.
'We sail at once, brothers!'