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Default The Rusting of Golan (Unxpekted & Dark Angel)

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.

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.



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.



The Rusting of Golan


Prologue

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.

Leadership...

The mechanisms in his neck clicked hard with the speed in which he turned his head back towards the crouching Gammin IV.

Leadership.

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.

“Rust King?”

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 you Ikrixiel!?”

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.

There.

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...there...

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
  • Executioners
  • And as of Q2 of the current year, the Red Talons

    Xenos force:

  • Krusher Mog OrkTribe

    Battle:

  • 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.

    Condition:

  • 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.

Rage.

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 our demise.”

“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

  • 402.M40
  • 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!'

You can never be prepared for the unexpected



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Chapter One: I
  • Fire Lords Strike Cruiser Chariot
  • En-route to Ryza

Sanction had scarred the minds, flesh and armour of every Fire Lord. My own pauldron had been bent out of shape by a maul, a primitive and unwieldy weapon, and the muscle beneath had been pulverised. One of my brothers - Kaer, called the Just - Had lost his left hand, stolen by a cackling, half-naked Eldar. He had grumbled, for the three-week transit between Sanction and Ryza, about how the new augmetic was unresponsive, how it itched. I trained my Squad ruthlessly, granting them no reprieve - We practiced swordsmanship, marksmanship, boarding actions, search and rescue operations. Blood was spilled, bones were broken, flesh was torn - Other Squads worked in tandem with us, trading blows in the practice cages, jeering and mocking us.

On the second week, our Lord Antigonus gathered us together in one of the Chariot's holds, and in that rock-grinding voice of his, decreed that there would be games. I, and many of my brothers, scoffed at the idea. We were, potentially, entering an hostile warzone - You see, boy, we were going in blind. Ryza, for all we knew, had turned its back upon the Imperium, - And Antigonus, revered and respected by many, wanted us to hold a competition? It was ludicrous. But, he was our Captain, and we trusted his judgment. Ninety-five Space Marines, gene-forged giants of uncontested magnificence, dueled and sprinted, recited prayers and preached their causes. It was, I admit, brilliant.

We endured this for four days, feasting and drinking gratuitously at the end of each night, before Antigonus came before us once again.

He was suited in his battle-plate, scarlet and gold, gauntlet clasped around the jewel-encrusted hilt of his blade. His face was hard, beautiful in a strange, angular way - With dark, angry, eyes and a long, plaited beard.

'My brothers, my sons,' He began, standing at the head of our naked, sweating phalanx. 'You have performed masterfully,' Antigonus stared at us, locking gazes with each and every Marine present. 'But, alas, a victor must be chosen.'

There was an intake of breath. My hearts hammered against the reinforced rib-cage. Besides me, Kaer stiffened, fingers closing into tight, crushing fists. I longed for, my Squad longed for, the victory laurels.

'Aeron Stormcrow,' Antigonus said, looking at me. Stormcrow was an honourific - One that had been bequeathed upon me by one of those Fenrisian mongrels, almost a century before. 'Step forwards, Sergeant.'

I marched forwards, feeling eyes upon my back. Bastard, my fellow Sergeants whispered. I must have grinned, then, because Antigonus arched an eyebrow and tilted his head - Rather theatrically - And gripped my wrist.

'Aeron Stormcrow,' He said again. 'Aeron Stormcrow and his brothers of the Fourth Squad,' He lifted my arm into the air, his grip uncompromising. I had bruises on my wrist for a week. 'Have conquered all,' Someone in the crowd snorted, and threw a graphic insult my way. Brothers laughed, even Antigonus grinned. 'They have excelled in each and every task, beaten you all bloody, and so,' He looked at me, then. There was a glint in the black of his eyes, a predatory intelligence. 'Deserve a prize, a reward, an honour.'

'First-Captain Brennus has informed me, rather kindly, that we are to make planet-fall on Ryza,' There were grunts, then. Deep, throaty growls, some curses, a few laughs. Mixed-reactions, but everyone knew that it sounded bad. 'Fourth Squad's performance has swayed my decision. They, and only them, will form my escort.'

That was not the prize which I coveted.

***

The third, and final, week was a blur. Little happened - We trained harder, with an unprecedented ruthlessness. My nose was broken - For the fourth time - By Kaer's mechanical hand. I deserved it, I let down my guard whilst wrestling, and then Kaer was atop me, hammering his fists into my face, again and again and again. He was furious, the augmetic was driving him insane, and he had to be dragged from me. My eyes were swollen shut, my skin bruised and cracked. But, I did not berate him, did not return the blows. What was the point? Tensions were high, we were excited. Even the Emperor's Angels, you must understand, fall to murder-lust. We are, after all, just weapons. Living, bleeding, roaring weapons - We aren't no different to a chainsword, or a bolter, save the fact that they are forged, and we are engineered.

On the twentieth day, our flotilla exited the warp and entered the Ryza system. We were running cold - Our engines were navigating us through the outer-rim with deliberate, pinpoint bursts. Our weapons were powered down, the devastating lances and world-crushing turrets hidden secreted within their ports. The Companies, however, were ready - Locked in our Thunderhawks and Storm Eagles, armoured and helmeted, waiting to be unleashed; slavering like bloodhounds. Eventually, the order to stand-down echoed through our communications net, and everyone returned to their quarters with sagging shoulders and bitter grimaces - A cruel mixture of disappointment and relief. No-one wanted to face the Mechanicus, yet no-one wanted to be away from war.

Fire Lords, heh.

Fourth Squad remained aboard our Thunderhawk - Antigonus' in reality - And awaited our Lord. It took him three hours - We sat, discussing trivial things, praying and cleaning our weapons - But, he arrived. Eventually.

I was taken aback by his appearance. Antigonus wore a long, flowing robe - The colour of freshly-fallen snow, - And a torc that shone like sunlight. His hair was braided, oiled, fresh tattoos were inked upon those broad, flat cheeks. He was completely unarmed.

Behind Antigonus, two figures lurked. One wore an intricate helmet, his armour the colour of rust, a half-mechanical skull carved into his chest-plate. Sinuous, clawed flails danced around his head, as though alive. This was Belenus, Techmarine of the Second Company, and I hated him. He lacked passion, honour, emotion - He was as cold as ice, in a Chapter that burned like an hearth-fire. His other companion, garbed in blue, made my gums ache and my hair prickle - Carrying a tome in one hand and a long, electrified halberd in the other. Mempricius and I were never friends- In truth, his presence hurt me - But, when it came to war, we pulled together and respected one another.

'Going for a stroll, sire?' I asked, when Antigonus trudged up the Thunderhawk's rear-ramp. The Captain barked a laugh, slapped a hand on my knee, and sat besides me.

'No weapons, he says, no armour,' Antigonus grumbled, adjusting his position.

'Who?' I asked, unsealing my helmet. Cold, recycled air washed over me. Antigonus surveyed my injuries - Faint bruises still discoloured my cheeks, thanks to Kaer - And smirked.

'Brennus, of course,' The Lord was saying, as he fingered his beard. 'This is a peaceful delegation,' The laugh that escaped Antigonus' mouth was unpleasant. 'Like our kind has ever known peace. Hypocrisy, I tell you.'

'I assure you, Captain Antigonus,' The Techmarine chimed in, in a voice of iron and steel. 'My brothers amongst the Mechanicus are nothing but honourable. There are no ill intentions, here,' Belenus was examining Kaer's hand, injecting fluids into the Marine's wrist. His fingers twitched, opening and closing. 'No ulterior motives. If there were, Lord, we would not still draw breath. Ryza is the mightiest forge-world in the entire Segmentum.'

'Nevertheless, Techmarine, I do not trust your metal-men. Something is wrong here.'

'Oh,' Belenus said, looking up. His eyepieces, green like grass, locked on Antigonus. 'I never said that.'

Even I smiled.

***
I had no desire to set eyes upon Ryza. Belenus, and several of Fourth Squad, gazed out of the Thunderhawk's portholes - Watching the passing orbital defences, battleships, refinery vessels. I heard, for weeks later, how the planet was wondrous - All chrome cities, hive-factorums, dispersal fields that spanned continents. To me, it was just another planet - And, besides, I had lain eyes upon a forge-world once before, fifty-point-three years earlier. It was not as important as Ryza, and lacked her majesty and grandeur, but.. I digress, my apologies.

We were directed to a landing field, in the shadow of a vast pyramid, and touched down with a thud. Fourth Squad were on their feet instantly, bolters clasped in fists. Kaer and Hudibras were the first out, dropping to their knees at either side of the ramp. The remainder of my Squad followed, auto-targeting systems scanning the surrounding buildings, and formed a perimeter. I exited, alongside Antigonus and Mempricius - The Techmarine was dallying, soaking in the wonders of Ryza - Which, to me, looked remarkably unremarkable.

A single adept, drowned in the robes of his office, awaited us.

Antigonus marched straight towards him, stopped about five feet away, and slammed a fist over his hearts - An archaic, half-remembered salute - Bowing his head, ever so slightly.

'Adeptus Astartes,' The adept blurted. The man's voice was raw - Unused, probably for many years. 'I welcome thee to Ryza.'

The Captain sniffed.

'Smells awful,' He grunted, mouth twitching in a smile. 'And, the air is thick with pollutants. Probably poisonous. Starting to wish I had wore my plate.'

Beneath my helm - I had replaced it - I grinned voraciously. Antigonus was a barbarian, but he was a charismatic barbarian.

Belenus had joined the Captain, hastily making the Icon Mechanicus with his hands, and exchanged words in tech-cant with the adept. I gripped the hilt of my chainsword tighter.

'Why,' I remarked, quietly, to Mempricius. The Librarian was standing nearby, examining a vast, smoke-belching tower. 'Are we alone?'

'Alone?' Mempricius almost laughed. He arched a soot-grey brow. His skin was the colour of coal, and he radiated heat. Never - And I stand by this - Have I come across such a potent pyrokinetic. Once, upon Erskine's World, I witnessed the Librarian melt an Orkish dreadnought to slag. 'We are not alone, Sergeant. You were not on the bridge, when we arrived.'

'No,' I admitted. 'I was not. What have you seen, Epistolary?'

'A great armada. Dozens of vessels, battleships and cruisers and frigates. Even an Astartes cruiser - The Bootscraper.'

'I am unfamiliar with the name,' I said, searching my memory banks. I had not served alongside such a brutishly named ship.

'It operates out of Stygia-Aquilon,' Mempricius smiled, turning his attentions to me. 'Our cousins of the Executioners are on Ryza, Aeron.'

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'

Last edited by dark angel; 04-07-14 at 02:42 AM.
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Very good collaboration, look forward to more.

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
-Glen Cook, The Black Company


Tales of Heroism and Bravery, in the 41st Millennium and the Old World. Perhaps some Realm Gate Wars in the future .

Gods' Hall (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=161618

The New Word (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=121879
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-24-14, 05:34 AM
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Cheers, mate. We appreciate it.

Next post will be up soon, keep tuned!

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-28-14, 11:11 AM
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This is actually quality stuff. I look forward to read more.

My story about the commissars Zachary Carrus and Michelle Ionza and their life and crimes https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=123690
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Thanks Beaviz. We've actually put quite a lot of time and work into the background as well as getting everything set up and going, so its great to see that.

You can never be prepared for the unexpected


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Thank you for the kind words, Beaviz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unxpekted22 View Post
We've actually put quite a lot of time and work into the background as well as getting everything set up and going, so its great to see that.
This. A thousand times this. We've created force organisation tables, fluffed out a number of different characters, settled on different worlds, with vastly different environments. The amount of effort that I, and Unxpekted22, have put into this project is staggering - And hopefully will show, with the completed project.

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'
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Chapter One: II

Date: 328.M40
Stygia-Aquilon, Aboard the Darkenvault
Several months after the conclusion of the Hassla Campaign.

The voice of a warrior spoke, alone from any of his brothers. Though he spoke softly, his whispers rumbled, rolling vibrations over the dark surfaces of Fifth Company’s Chapel.

“My name, is Conric Alnun.
A warrior of the Executioners Chapter,
A branch of the Adeptus Astartes.

We have faltered.
We have fallen.
Our branch has been leafless,
Covered in ash.
Then, came my initiation.

I will never falter.
I will never fail.
I am a perfect weapon, to carry out the Emperor’s will.

My honour, like the honour of all my brothers,
Means everything to me.
My skill in battle,
Means everything to me,
My actions,
Mean everything to me.
Nothing else matters.

Those found amongst our blood without honour,
Without deed worthy of notation, written in kind by the Speakers of Death,
Will be cast down.
Must, be cast down.
They will be forgotten.

My enemies will know me,
All cultures know me.
I,
Am the Executioner.”

Conric remained on one knee a moment longer within the chapel, absorbing the words of his own litany. He breathed the air of Darkenvault, relieved to be home again.

It was unlike him to feel such a thing, but the Hassla campaign, and everything that had preceded it in the past few centuries, was more than enough cause for a deep breath of familiarity and true ownership. He knew most of his brothers felt the same, the older ones even more so. He opened his eyes, keeping himself frozen in place.

A group of serfs was to his left, huddled around an ornately designed prayer bench made of carved wood from the densest forests of Stygia-Aquilon. They were sewing his honours from the campaign onto his ceremonial sash. The cloth was black with a shine, like panther’s fur. He hardly felt honoured, though.

The Executioners were glad to leave that sector behind, and that war. The moment the Warboss, Krusher Mog, had been slain by Executioner hands he and his brothers gathered themselves up, went back into their ships, and let the Fists and Guard clean up the rest. He supposed the Red Talons lent a hand in mopping things up as well, but he hadn’t even bothered to look into it. They meant nothing to him, even after fighting alongside them for years...especially after fighting alongside them for years.

His Captain had killed the Ork leader, but Conric had landed the first blow, near-crippling the beast. The Executioners had proved their point, and their worth to the Imperial Fists and the Red Talons. For all their berating and judgement, It was not only his chapter that reached Krusher Mog first, it was his squad, beside his captain.

Seven planets, this Warboss had reigned over, that aggravating pile of dung, and he had given the almighty Imperium one hell of a run for its money.

He still held respect for the Imperial Fists, but by the Emperor had he grown sick from the air of superiority that had surrounded them with each encounter. As soon as they had arrived, every other organization involved bent their knees and bowed their heads, giving over command of the campaign to the Imperial Fists, as if no one in their right mind would have done otherwise. It quickly became clear to the Executioners that despite any kind of vote, the other factions were going to follow the orders of the Fists first and foremost, out of respect and supposed seniority. Despite the clear dissent from the Executioners, they felt that the Fists did not seem to hesitate in commanding them, or rather, they didn't hesitate in trying to command them. They hadn't necessarily wanted overall command themselves, but Conric and the rest of his brothers, despised being told what to do.

It was the Executioners who had fought the hardest, pushed the furthest, and cut off the head of the enemy’s leadership, both literally and metaphorically. They had ended up following the orders of the Fists better toward the end of the Campaign, but more to sedate the nagging of the Red Talons than anything else.

He had spent over three hundred years living with his Chapter's blood-laws, and as all Executioners are expected to, he forged his own glory and secured his own honour within his chapter. He knew his place, he knew his doctrine, he was well aware of his chapter's sole purpose in killing the Emperor's enemies… He didn’t need to be told what to do. In battle, his brothers relied on him to know what to do and be able to do it, just as he relied on them to do the same.

Of the twin feral home worlds, Conric was born on Stygia. Amongst fire and ice he practically raised himself. Again, as he was expected to by his people. The Stygians would come together when there was a threat to them as a whole that no individual could overcome, but otherwise had to fend for themselves. He cared little for the deeds that got him into the Chapter's ranks and if asked what he remembers of his three century-gone childhood he would likely dismiss the question without a word.

“Your sash is ready my Lord,” came a soft, sweet voice from one of the female serfs.

“You may fasten it to me,” replied Conric.

He remained still, as a dozen fragile hands affixed the massive sash to his power armour. They wrapped it around the inner edge of his right shoulder guard, using large chains to hold the cloth in place. It slashed across his chestplate at an angle, terminating at his waist, where the rest was tied loosely around his belt line, hanging like a loincloth.

The serfs made sure that the campaign badges stitched into the fabric faced perfectly forward. The section of the sash around his shoulder and across his chest had one of his many Oaths of Honour woven into it with faint, red lettering.

Once finally finished with the painstaking process of making sure the sash was perfectly draped and fitted, the serfs knelt with their faces toward the floor. The Head Serf spoke again, asking if he was satisfied. He was, and bade their leave with a flick of the wrist.

He wore MKVII plate, from head to toe. A pair of painted black axes were crossed over his chest armor. His chapter symbol was represented on his left shoulder pauldron. His right shoulder was painted green for his role as a tactical marine, but much of it was covered beneath the chains and sash.

His helmet was placed on the floor in front of him, facing toward the pulpit, and the banners of Fifth Company. Finally he stood, scooping up the helmet and slowly turning it in his hands.

He inspected the newest blood marking he had made. Starting from the left earpiece and continuing to right between the eyes, was a series of vertical streaks drawn with the blood of his greatest victories; honour markings. These were his trophies.

Despite his best efforts to keep them preserved, the oldest one by the earpiece was now a faded brown in color. Fortunately, he had only taken damage to the head a few times. His helmet was the only piece of his warplate that he would allow to be repaired for cosmetic purposes. The rest of his armor bore dozens of scars, many of which were ages old.

Most marines he had fought beside, who belonged to other bloodlines, seemed to have an obsession with keeping their armor as pristine as possible. It was as if they felt the need to look perfect for the enemy, without a scratch or dent allowed to stay.

They were always so well composed, complete with a shine.

The only repairs to his armor he allowed were for damages that inhibited the proper functionality of his suit. This need to look brand new that so many of his peers had... he wasn't sure where it came from.

And their smell. His cousins all too often had an overwhelming stench of decadence. The lapping powder, the sacred oils, the incense...

He adored his armor, or the closest thing to adoration that Conric could feel. When an individual looked upon him in his battle plate they immediately knew who he was, what he was capable of, and much of what he had already been through. To this effect, the painting of his armor was a unique aspect to him entirely when it came to the subject of maintenance. In fact, both of the legs were covered in paintwork that depicted ghostly skulls within a smoky mist rising from his feet and thinning out toward his knees, giving him the appearance of perpetually wading through the dead.

He had seen countless examples of power armor that had to be read, or be explained. Between the damage to his armor, the ghosts at his feet, the blood streaks on his faceplate, and the chapter symbols on his chest and shoulder, friend and foe alike would gather the same information about Conric when viewing him, other than the few campaign badges sewn into the black cloth at his waist.

A handful of marines from Fifth Company had been chosen by Captain Osranik to feast with him this day. This sort of thing was occurring all throughout the Fortress-Monastery. Only within the last few weeks had every member of the chapter returned home, both from the Hassla campaign and various other missions. For days, the chapter would be holding feasts within their Companies, leading up to feasts with joint-Companies, and finally the largest with every brother present on the final day of celebration. Conric wanted nothing more than not to attend the private meal with his Captain, only because he knew what Osranik was likely going to bring into discussion.

He heard the chamber doors open behind him, and knew he was no longer alone. He took a deep breath, preparing his mind for what he felt was about to come.

Turning to leave, he saw that all three of the Company’s Death-Speakers had entered the Chapel together. He did not know their business, and knew it was not his place to ask. He supposed the rest of the Company would be going through their normal daily routines while he sat listening to foolishness. He nodded to them in acknowledgement. All three of the Chaplains said his name and bowed their heads in return as they passed.




Teeth sank into meats, and only a few short moments after the servants turned their backs to fetch more from the Monastery Refectory, entire baskets worth of steaming breads and vegetables were consumed in a chomping, gulping filled silence.

The table too, was a fine example of Stygian-Aquilon carpentry. Much of the engraved detail was covered by the barbaric number of plates that lay upon its surface. Upon the walls, were large scrolls of parchment hung one after another from ceiling to floor by the Company’s Death-Speakers. Each one described the chronicles of Fifth Company’s contributions to the Chapter, its battles and victories, its members and their actions worthy of record, all dating back to the founding of the chapter itself.

Conric’s teeth punctured deep into another piece of juicy meat. He held the large bone jutting out from one end in his gauntlet’s grip. Everyone had their Helmets placed on top of the table, all facing the Captain who sat at the head of the rectangular slab. They all wore their armor and sashes while they ate. Conric was familiar with each of the other Executioners here. All of them, himself included, had been known to be in Osranik’s favor for some time now. They were the best in his Company, and the closer their place to the Captain’s seat, the higher regard he held for them. Conric Alnun was at the corner of the table, practically by Osranik’s side. Across the table from him and slightly further away from the Captain was Eirgrud, Sergeant of First Axe.

“And with each assault, every axe will slice apart the enemy. One by one they will make their strike. We will bring down the First Axe! We will bring down the Second Axe! Then the Third, and the Fourth, the Fifth…”

Conric stared at the side of his Captain’s face for a moment, watching Osranik chew his food with ferocity. He recalled how much Osranik enjoyed dictating his adrenaline-raising dramatic, always with a vicious wet-toothed grin.

Conric had to admit, he liked that one in particular and it always came to mind. First because Osranik had used it the most, but mostly because it always worked. Each squad would practically jump when their Axe was called out. A hundred Executioners getting ready to kill something, anything, all in the same room aboard Bootscraper. It was exhilarating; a rush by anyone’s standards.

Conric wore a smile as he chewed now, not realizing it.

Seeing this, Eirgrud broke the silence, “Aye Alnun, it's good to devour a few Stygian brood-hogs again isn’t it?” he mused for a moment, looking back at his own servings, “All the rummage I had to eat those last three years at Hassla. Damn Fists kept us there so long, our kitchens ran out of real food to eat.”

The Company’s Champion looked back him, “The filth.”

The rest of the Astartes at the table laughed at Conric’s short words, reminded of what they had begun calling the nutrient infused sludge that they had to eat for so long.

One of the others, another of the Sergeants present, spoke out next, “Not just the Fists fault, I think I might remember there being another group at Hassla. Some foolish runts in red.”

“I don’t recall shit else but us and the Fists!” Roared Eirgrud, laughing boisterously after. The others laughed with him, all understanding the deeper meaning. There would not be a single notation or marking of any kind made in the Halls of Darkenvault, within any Executioner ship, or on any of their suits of power armor that gave testament to the Red Talons Chapter participating in the Hassla Campaign.

Such a display of positive emotion from his brothers was something Conric rarely witnessed. Seldom would an Executioner be at ease, let alone laughing in a group setting. It was in this rare moment that his Captain decided to bring up his inner conflict.

“Unfortunately, the faults of the Hassla Campaign, as well as the turmoil our Chapter has been through these past few centuries is not solely on the shoulders of others.” he paused, “The High Executioner is to blame, as well.”

Conric couldn’t be sure if Osranik had intended the good feeling around the table to continue into this new subject, but regardless, it did not. He set a bone down with scraps of meat still hanging from it, returning the leg to its marble plate. He wanted to cover his face with his other hand, but refrained from such a clear act of dissent in front of everyone else. He was likely the only one who knew this was something that had been bothering the Captain.

Eirgrud, with his short off-white hair that travelled down to his jaw-dropped chin, stared in surprise with the others. They all recovered quickly, though. It was common for Executioners to commit blood-duals against one another, but this was a case of high rank. Allowed, but significant indeed. Osranik didn’t have to say it. Every Executioner at the table understood what he was implying.

“Fine then,” seeing the concern on his men’s faces, “out with it. What are your opinions on this matter?”

Not surprising to anyone, Eirgrud answered first, “That there should be no matter. I won’t say that there aren’t any faults to Akillian’s leadership, but I must admit I am blind to them. He has led us through a challenging set of centuries, and though we have dwindled in number twice, we are still alive and well.”

Well,” Osranik almost scoffed, “We are nowhere close to where we could be, or where we should be. When leading us through the countless waves of xenos invasions at the edge of Tempestus, coordination was nothing but poor. We numbered three companies worth by the time the Darkenvault was attacked as a result, and because of this we almost lost this fortress. We were on the brink of losing this Chapter. It wasn’t Akillian who saved us, it was the Astral Claws who saved our sore and beaten remains. It took us a century and a half to rebuild our number and what does the High Executioner do next? He throws us into the Hassla Campaign, a war that felt so pathetic, that for the first time since I became a part of this Chapter, not a single one of my brothers feels like getting into another fight. Unprecedented, Eirgrud, it is unfathomable to me.”

Conric hadn’t been there for all of it. He had been initiated in 89.m40 at the age of 14. In fact, he had been one of those recruited to help rebuild and reform the ranks, after the Darkenvault had come under siege from that hideous Xeno race that nearly extinguished them.

“It’s a bad idea.” Said Conric, blunt and to the point.

Osranik turned his head, a quick snap of a motion, “After everything I just said, how is it a bad idea?”

“You’ll lose.”

A moment of silence took its rightful place.

“It’s good to know my best warrior has so much faith in me,” replied the Captain, sarcastically.

“I’ve stayed alive through all of that, my brothers,” he said spreading his arms wide over the table, looking at each of them, “and I’ve always kept this Company alive as well. Even while preparing for the Chapter’s final stand in this very fortress, I stood, a group of the Fifth still surrounding me. Sixth company was wiped out! Completely! And the scouts, ha! Nothing of them either. Ninth was down to a man. But Fifth stood proud, next to Akillian and the rest, soaking in Honour.”

He continued, while Conric silently gave him credit for remaining seated during his barrage of pent up turmoil.

“And now, I have just led Fifth Company at Hassla, through that tidal wave of Greenskin abominations, straight to their Warlord. I won Hassla for the Imperium.”

It was a bold statement, but Conric had to admit that his Captain was mostly right.

“I do have faith in you, Osranik. What you say about the deeds you have done and the honour you have accumulated, is true. The Death Speakers have made sure these acts have been recorded and remembered. But, I have seen Akillian fight, and he is better than you. You have to remember that there are reasons he became High Executioner in the first place. I am honoured to have you as my Captain, and the Executioners would not be nearly as formidable without you, in my opinion. I mean no dishonour to you, Sir,” He almost shook his head in distaste. He hardly ever said that word. “But I do believe Akillian would beat you, and Fifth Company would lose its Captain for nothing.”

“You do dishonour me, Alnun. If you do so again, I will maim you first before I get to Akillian. It wouldn’t be for nothing. If I don’t challenge him, your High Executioner will continue driving our Chapter into the ground. I don’t need your consent. I have the right to do it.”

Hearing the first part, almost caused a short in the workings of Conric’s brain. You’d lose to me as well, fool. He thought to himself.

According to Chapter doctrine Osranik did, most certainly, have the right to challenge the High Executioner in combat for his position as Chapter Master. All of the Captains did.

“You do have the right, Captain.” Conric said in conclusion, “And no Executioner backs down from a fight that is deserved.” he finished, suddenly thinking on the Imperial Fist, Sergeant Kaiden, and what he had said to the Marine. He began to realize the potential hypocrisy in telling his Captain that he shouldn’t fight.

Osranik loosened up as well, clear in his shoulder posture and jaw line, remembering he was speaking to the warrior he trusted above all others. Conric was a supreme fighter, and as such he didn’t have to tiptoe around his opinions like so many of his brothers. He would call someone out on their honor if he felt the need arise. He spoke bluntly, to the point, and had no need to play games with his words. His Champion was merely pointing out what he believed to be the truth.

In lieu of this, Osranik’s chest sank, suddenly realizing that Conric was probably correct. The way he had said it… as if it were obvious.

He knew this would not change his mind. Even if he lost his life, it needed to be done. He would die knowing that at least one of the Executioners had challenged Akillian’s position. He would force the High Executioner to understand why he had chosen to challenge his rule, to gauge his faults and seek improvement, lest he next be challenged by someone who could beat him.

Eirgrud spoke again, a concluding statement before returning to a silent feast, “We will all be there to witness your challenge, Sir. Your Company will honour you.”

The rest grunted in agreement.



402.M40
Stygia-Aquilon
Aboard the Darkenvault

Conric held his heavy weapon in both his hands, the double bladed, great chain-axe. It rumbled, engaged, but its chains were still. He wore nothing but the cloth wrapped around his pelvis, as a means to continue mastering the bulky weapon. It helped to ensure that he would never forget the weapon’s grave threat to its own user.

A fierce creature from the surface of Aquilon, an animal that lived amongst active volcanos, lay dead beside him. It was three times his size, but had been just as quick. Its black eyes whitened with its death, its stony skin relaxing. The people of his homeworld had their names for it, but he cared little for such things. It was a defeated enemy, and had raised his skill with the great-axe.

Sweating, but keeping his mouth closed tight, he looked down at the weapon, at the end of the shaft. He had fastened a skull there. The skull he had taken clean from the shoulders of a former Chapter-brother. From its open-mouthed posture, a chain wrapped around the metallic-blue of the weapon’s shaft all the way up to the small engines of the chainblades, ending on a hook just below the housing compartments. He found the chain helped him to keep a better grip, even when in his power armor.

On one of the four blade panels, he had already lead the serf painters through a finished piece. He intended to have each of the four panels depicting a different deed of honour he had accomplished. Upon the canvas that was now his weapon of choice, the first panel was now an incredibly detailed recreation of he and Captain Osranik striking the Ork Warboss at Hassla. He didn't want the other three panels to contain anyone other than himself. This first painting was not only a mark of honor for him, but had also been made in remembrance of his Fifth Company Captain. He had held a high opinion for Osranik, and though he had never served under the others, he had felt the late Fifth Captain to be the most distinguished and worthy of revere.

Osranik had failed. He had fallen. However, he had fallen to the highest ranked Executioner in the Chapter and had done so with Honour. He had challenged Akillian on sound reason, and had fought to the best of his abilities. Though he had died as Conric and many of his peers had anticipated, Osranik’s plan had worked. Akillian had spent the last seven decades reevaluating himself, his actions, and his role.

And Conric had been right there beside him, seeing it for himself.

The Executioner he had slain, had tried to intervene. It was disgraceful, beyond words. Conric hadn’t given it much thought, even after so long.

He tried not to.

He supposed the veteran’s place he had taken, had felt so compelled to make sure Akillian stayed alive, so starkly against the idea of Osranik rising to High Executioner…

Conric shook his head, moving away and summoning the servitors to dispose of the beast’s remains.

It didnt matter. One event had led to another. His Captain had died in the blood-duel, after turning the Chapter’s celebratory feast into an uproar. Conric had acted without hesitation, preventing the duel from being manipulated by a third hand. Akillian had looked upon him, and rewarded him.

The High Executioner knew the faith that the mutinous Captain had held for Conric, and with Osranik no longer leading Fifth Company, Eirgrud took the position, while Conric was inducted under Akillian’s wing, taking his place amongst the long-standing veterans of the First.

With his new position, and Akillian being steadfast on the chapter withholding from actions of war until he was absolutely certain the Chapter was ready, finally back at its finest, Conric had decided to quicken the pace and take up the weapon he now held firmly in his grip.

It was massive. He lowered the weapon into the waiting hands of half a dozen serfs, who immediately upon contact lowered it to the floor on a wheeled cart and began wiping it down with cloths, cleansing the weapon of blood and sweat and sharpening the blades along the chains. One of them went straight to work on any chippings or marks made to the painting on the headstock.

It was also with this new position, that he held more responsibility for diplomatic relations. Another group of serfs had prepared his power armor for him, both shoulder pauldrons now the same metallic blue as the rest of his plate, leaving the green of tactical behind. No color on his right shoulder told his brothers he was now integrated in full. He was completely capable of doing anything that they could, and need only wear the colors of his chapter upon his shoulders.

He was considered the Vanguard squad leader. Oddly, he found, he was able to wave off this task to the next in line, resuming a role closer to that of his time as Champion of the Fifth.

It was hard to say what role, exactly, that Akillian would have him enact in battle… he hadn’t seen it in any challenging form since Hassla. There had been minor defenses of Executioner designated space, but no major engagements in seventy years. Most of the Executioners wanted it that way.

Between that thought and the fatigue from fighting the Aquilon beast, he could have vomited as his chest plate was fastened to his flesh; connector ports locking in with the black carapace beneath his skin. The High Executioner, and his Chapter as a whole, were willing to wait for a new campaign that they saw fitting, honourable. One that was worth their time and deaths.

Today an emissary had come. An emissary, from the Forgeworld of Ryza.

They were calling an armada together, a council with the Fabricator General himself. Ryza’s leaders, apparently, had gotten wind of the Executioners not only being available, but were also deemed perfect for the role they wished to discuss due to the Chapter’s particular methods of waging war.

This was something that held promise.

You can never be prepared for the unexpected



Last edited by unxpekted22; 08-17-14 at 01:16 PM.
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-23-14, 01:10 AM
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I read the piece, and I don't mean to be derpy, but I feel the Imperial Fists are misrepresented here. They are a chapter that advice, but very rarely actually commands, and they taking battlefield command unasked would be a major breakage of their character. They are unsmiling even melancholic hardliners after all. You can maybe rephrase it into that their advice automatically was the law and some irritation over that.

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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 03-23-14, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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That's a good call out Beaviz. This reminds me that one of the main reasons we strayed away from using many of the more well known chapters is because its easier to mess them up. They shouldn't be showing up again throughout the rest of the story.

However, I think my error here is more to do with inadequately expressing that this is how the Executioners saw things. Who knows if they are actually being accurate. I think I will make an edit here, but will probably have the Fists end up in charge one way or another.

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