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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-02-19, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Default Renegades 14: Wyrd of Fringes

It is a period of shifting tides. The war between Warmaster Horus Lupercal's Coalition and the Emperor of Mankind's Imperium grows ever more complex.

The Chaos Gods, dark allies of the Imperium that are eldritch nightmares thirsting for human suffering, corrupt the monsters that are the loyal Imperial Space Marines. Xeno breeds follow their own plots in the shadows, as do those Space Marines that have backed Horus. Victory will not be determined by strength alone, but also by wisdom and cunning. Among the original allies of the Warmaster were the Legions of Roboute Guilliman's ordered Ultramarines and Leman Russ's savage Space Wolves. But they, along with the Raven Guard of Corvus Corax, have pursued a revolutionary ideal of Imperium Secundus that Horus rejected, leading to a peaceful schism in the renegades' ranks. Then, the Ultramarines' homeworlds, the Realm of Ultramar, were attacked by the full force of the Imperial Emperor's Children Legion, while Guilliman's path to reinforce them was blocked by a Warp Storm.

In the end, Ultramar held, reinforced by several Great Companies of the Space Wolves under Russ himself and offered unexpected and unasked-for aid by the Night Lords. The Emperor's Children have retreated in disgrace. Guilliman defeated the World Eater and Salamander forces that had deployed the ritual responsible for the Warp Storm, and cleared his path to Ultramar, though the Imperials had the true victory with the completion of said ritual. Returning, Guilliman intends to resolve his differences with Horus, but not everyone is happy to see him do so. Meanwhile, three separate alien species entwined with death threaten Ultramar, ancient xeno technology is awoken, and Leman Russ confronts his fate.

The age of the Great Crusade, of unending expansion, of relentless xenocide, of debate and enlightenment - that age is over. The dream of empire has ended.

Other dreams have not.


This story is also on Spacebattles (https://forums.spacebattles.com/thre...er-30k.758095/). Please contact me there if you're interested in writing an installment.



Previous Renegades installments:


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...resy-tale.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...es-belief.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...-prospero.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...rors-will.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...tions-cry.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...ht-swords.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...ath-calls.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...s-scarlet.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...lesh-weak.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...tten-sons.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...ll-legion.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...resy-lies.html


https://www.heresy-online.net/forums...ian-sands.html

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The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...te-heresy.html)
What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.
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PROLOGUE


In a storm composed of every impossibility, a few small fragments of reality flew.

Their cobalt-blue hulls were under assault every moment by the denizens of the ethereal outside them, protected only by their fragile Gellar fields. And yet this armada, vast by any mortal reckoning but a mere blip in the spaceless realm known as the Warp, did not merely endure, but moved forwards, inasmuch as direction had meaning when dealing with this domain. Along a path cautiously mapped by the Navigators, who were ever unsure how much longer the Astronomicon would shine for them, the fleet led by the Perfect Honour continued its sole Warp jump to Macragge.

The jump itself was long enough, given the present turbulence of the Warp, to be difficult and even dangerous. Roboute Guilliman, known as the Battle-King or the Avenging Son, had carefully considered and weighed the probabilities of destruction against the expected intervals to arrival, though, and made his decision not to split the jump into two. Speed was of the essence.

Guilliman did not know the state of Ultramar. Yet now he led a fleet numbering in the tens of thousands of Ultramarines, and he would not be able to live with himself if they arrived too late to save his people from the Emperor's Children. Ultramar was his life's work and his home both, and yet when it had been assaulted by an entire Legion, he had been away, and even when he learned of Fulgrim's assault he had been further delayed by the World Eaters and Salamanders. Guilliman knew his own guilt was driving him forth, but then, he did not find that guilt misplaced.

He had left Marius Gage with enough forces to hold Ultramar against almost any foe, but an Astarte Legion was always an exception.

The ships, Guilliman knew, buzzed with much the same activity as they did in realspace, only with portholes bolted shut. An Imperial battleship (a Coalition battleship now, he supposed) was a city in space, and most of a city's activities were devoted to homeostasis. For his own part, he sat in a sanctum, focused mainly on reading and secondarily on reflection. There was not much to do in preparation, not until he knew what he would find at Macragge.

Guilliman was unarmored, but not unarmed. The Cannon of Premioi was at his side, an unwieldy-looking contraption combining a halberd and a gun. At his belt, the Cornucopia of Katha seemed a more benign presence. In truth, both were equally potent psychic artifacts, two of the five segments of the ancient Linearity. The third, Gilloa of the Line of Nuceria, was in an artificial coma in her quarters. Two remained undiscovered, supposedly located on Konor and Zilladil.

Guilliman strongly suspected that he was fumbling around in a realm that he lacked even the smallest inkling of comprehension of. He was using xenos psytech, which he did not even understand, in the search for the slightest of advantages. But then, he was desperate, and knew he was desperate. The galaxy had turned on its head, ever since the Emperor had proclaimed himself a god and made Warp pacts to enforce that claim. He had to keep at least a small island of order in this madness. The Linearity was part of that island.

Ultramar had been another.

Many of Guilliman's contemplations were occupied with the theoretical of the Ultramar campaign being resolved with something besides total defeat. The Coalition for the Restoration of the Imperial Truth was nominally led by Warmaster Horus Lupercal. It had been a leadership Guilliman had not challenged; Horus had been not the natural choice, but the only choice. Yet Horus had not agreed with Guilliman's intent to build an Imperium Secundus out of the ashes of the old, and in the end that had caused a rift. It was a petty one, of course, in the face of annihilational war, something that the Battle-King had to mend; but how was, as always, a problem.

Thus, Guilliman was quite relieved by the knock at his door. "Enter," he said, which Phratus Auguston did. The Captain had taken on the responsibilities of Guilliman's equerry during the latter campaign, as Marius Gage had been left behind to be Regent of Ultramar.

"My lord," Auguston said, "transition to realspace imminent."

Guilliman nodded, left his book (a collection of legends told throughout the Eastern Fringe), and followed Auguston to the strategium.

He instantly reacquainted himself with the situation once he did. Everything was nominal; everything was ready.

"Commence transition into Macragge system," he ordered.

And though he tried not to, he felt his hearts hammering with the trepidation of what he might find in his home system.

And then, silently, the stars clicked back.

Guilliman's mind reacted faster than the auspex. Macragge, unmarred by war. Warships in orbit. The largest was a damaged battleship: Fenrysavar, a ship of the Space Wolves. Lesser ships of the Sixth and of the Ultramarines.

None of the enemy. None of the Emperor's Children.

Relief. A world's worth of relief. Some of his brothers considered Guilliman bereft of emotion, but in this moment the flood of it threatened to knock him off his feet. He did not know why there were Space Wolves here - perhaps Russ had sent aid? He did not know the status of the war, either. But at least one world of Ultramar still stood.

"Incoming vox-hails," shipmaster Phor Zadrix reported. "From the surface."

"Bring it through."

The voice was loud, clear, and sounded half-drunk. "Is that you, Roboute?" it asked, with a partially joking swagger. It was a voice of the sea, a voice of winter.

It was the voice of Leman Russ, Wolf King of Fenris and one of the closest among Guilliman's brothers.

"It's me, Leman," Guilliman said, unable to help smiling. "How goes the war?"

"In Ultramar, won," Russ said. "Now come down here and take charge of fixing the bureaucratic mess your absence created. I'm the Regent of Ultramar at the moment, so you can imagine how bad it's gotten."

Guilliman smiled a bit at Russ's exaggerated disgruntlement - his brother was not nearly as barbaric as he pretended - before the full import of those words reached him.

"Gage - "

"Fallen," Russ simply said. "I'm being serious, brother, you need to come down and fix Ultramar. The Third, Fenris damn them, are gone, but that doesn't mean the damage is. Yes, the war in Ultramar is for now won." Russ gave a slight, involuntary growl of frustration. "But that just means it's time for the hard part."

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The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
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What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.
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CHAPTER ONE



Many wonders - most wonders, perhaps - could only be appreciated from outside, and moreso from afar. Exceptions existed: the wind that blows in one's face when running a world far outmatched the splendor of a circle in the starry void. But cities, monuments, guilds, starships - all those things could only be appreciated fully from their exterior.

And, perhaps, the same was true of empires. One could not escape the Imperium of Man anywhere in the galaxy, but on the frontier, it could be truly contemplated, the grandiose scale of humanity's achievement clear in the void. And the Sixth Legion of the Astartes - the Vlka Fenryka, the Space Wolves, the Rout - were therefore uniquely well-placed to consider it.

Of course, at present, Bjorn the Fell-Handed, a warrior of Tra and now its jarl, found that this removed vantage point mainly served to reveal more tongues of a waste fire.

When, decades ago, he had been inducted into the Rout, he had learned of the Imperium as a youth cast into myths. His departure from Fenris had been an ascent into legend, meeting heroes of history like Jorin Bloodhowl, but also those that Fenrisians called gods. The Allfather, the Emperor, was foremost among them. Yet it was his very assumption of that divine title that marked his descent into madness.

Fifty years ago - indeed, five years ago - Bjorn would have called his present self a traitor. But fifty years ago or five years ago, Bjorn had not yet seen the pyre Angron had made of Prospero. Any restraint, any nobility, even the very line separating Astarte from beast - the World Eaters had lost it all, and the Emperor lauded them for it.

There had been other battles after. Against the maleficarum of the Word Bearers across eastern Segmentum Solar, during that first great Imperial offensive; against the Imperial Army to open the Badab Corridor; and against various xenos throughout the galactic east to guard the Coalition's flanks, culminating in the battle at Eshara. Ogvai Ogvai Helmschrot's thread had been cut there, and Bjorn had been made jarl in his place, a rise he was still adjusting to.

Especially at moments like these.

"The first landing platform cannot be freed up," the bureaucrat said. "I deeply apologize, but the timetable is already set - disrupting it would cause cascading chaos."

"Did you really not build in the slack for one extra shuttle?" Bjorn asked.

"Everything's far over capacity already," the official - Overseer Caethe Gusevex of a subregional whatever - said. "The attempts to stabilize Calth, to rebuild the dozen other worlds that Fulgrim burned.... I'm sorry, Captain Bjorn, but it's impossible."

Bjorn resisted the urge to bear his fangs. This woman was, at least, not intentionally trying to impede him, unlike some of the officials he'd had to deal with over the past week. "Your Primarch's coming down in that shuttle," he instead said. "So find a way to do the impossible."

"Russ is coming in that shuttle?!"

"No," Bjorn said, unable to stop his grin at the overseer's realization. "Guilliman is. Er - that's classified, of course. But if the Regent of Ultramar does not reach Magna Macragge Civitas on time because of your subregion...."

Guilliman himself would have done it with inspiration instead of threats, of course. Even a high-ranking Ultramarine could have achieved the same. But Bjorn wasn't built like that. He could achieve something like camaraderie with the soldiers of the Imperial Army, at times, but they were at least not civilians, not unused to the din of war. He had nothing in common with this woman, and no time to build any connections.

And it was like that across Ultramar. The Vlka Fenryka were winning no friends on their current postings. For had spread out across Ultramar, hunting Imperial stragglers; Twa remained on Calth; Elva was skirmishing with the Vespid to the north; and Tra under Bjorn was on Macragge and the other Master Worlds of Ultramar, assisting Russ's impromptu regency. But they were the winter storm, not the temperate sun; the people of Ultramar, of Imperium Secundus, were grateful to the Sixth for having saved them, but that gratitude would fade with each day of their dubious reign.

For now, though, Guilliman's authority sufficed where Bjorn's had not. Gusevex stammered her resolution to do whatever she could, and Bjorn felt relieved to finally get back to training.

Training, because, like all of the Vlka Fenryka detachment at Calth, he knew he had nearly failed. For in truth, Ultramar had been saved by the Night Lords' arrival; until then, the battle had been in the balance. Legion against Legion, the Sixth could have defended a fortified world against the Emperor's Children without difficulty, but they'd been three and a half Great Companies, three Ultramarine Chapters, and the Lions of Chemos against an entire Legion's concentration. The Night Lords had settled it - but Curze had only wanted vengeance for the destruction of his homeworld by the mad Emperor. His intervention had been a stroke of fortune, not something to be relied on.

Russ felt the same, Bjorn knew, and the Wolf King said so again when he found Bjorn. "I could've had him," he told Bjorn, quietly. "Or he could've had me. You know how much it burns not to know...."

Bjorn nodded, wiping the sweat off - the training cages of Macragge were warm, by his standards. "Fulgrim was one of the strongest Primarchs even without maleficarum."

"He's fast," Russ said. "And practiced. But I was sure I could have taken him. Instead, we lost so many, and the Hrafnkel too, and all for what? For what? Fulgrim's hurt, scarred, but he'll recruit new warriors and burn slightly less-defended worlds, that's all. We could've taken them out of the fight, but only Curze... and Curze let them go. He thinks he's painting an elaborate design of his vengeance on the galaxy. Truth is, he's just mad." Russ shook his head.

Bjorn stayed silent. There was little he could say to his primarch's melancholy, in times like these.

"But who am I," Russ continued, "to blame my brother for his madness? It is who he is, his condemned wyrd. And I have mine. The executioner, the brawler, the lord of winter and war. And in the moment when I could have fulfilled that, I failed."

"Calth stands," Bjorn pointed out. "Imperium Secundus stands."

"What do you think of it all?" Russ asked, suddenly. "Of Imperium Secundus?"

Bjorn had no idea, and said it. Theirs was a challenge to the Emperor, but the subtleties of the difference between Guilliman and Horus escaped him. He knew them as people, and their sons, and overall he found more to like in the Ultramarines: they were so far unlike the Vlka Fenryka that their differences were taken as blood rather than flaw. The Luna Wolves... they were wolves too, or claimed so at least, and they were wolves that thought themselves greater, too.

Perhaps the Sons of Horus would be different. Perhaps they would grow used to them, the Warmaster's Legion, the greatest of them all. But Bjorn did not think so. They would not forget that the Sixteenth had once been only cousins, elevated by circumstance and the will of an Emperor they now defied. Guilliman's greatness, at least, was measured in worlds rather than words.

All the same, this was winter for all humanity, and an ill time for internal strife.

Russ nodded at Bjorn's description. "Apt," he said. "Apter is that even you don't know what Guilliman's dream is."

"I recognize my failing and will be sure to correct it," Bjorn said. It stung. True, the decision to side with Guilliman was the Wolf King's, but it was a poor hour to not know what he was fighting for.

"I'm not sure it's a failing," Russ said. "I don't think my brother ever decided that himself. The core of it - a change. A refurbishing of Imperial institutions. Use the opportunity to tear down what isn't working. But to us, what difference does that make? Roboute isn't changing the Legions, at least not until this war ends. If it ends. If we win."

Bjorn nodded. "Do you think we'll win?" he asked, before he realized what he was saying.

"When have you ever asked that before?" Russ asked, and despite all logic a smile returned to his face at that. "But we're winning. Right now, we're winning, and that's something to celebrate."

They drank mjod, and even played a round of hneftafl, absurd as it was to think that anyone could ever beat the Wolf King at it. And after, of course, Bjorn returned to his company, and checked their postings, and turned on the view-screens in time for the grand speech.

It was transmitted across Macragge, across a dozen channels, with only a modicum of warning. The form of the Ultramarines' Primarch, great, blue-robed, with a patrician's downcast face. Bjorn knew what to expect - praise for the courage of his people, and a combined commitment to the future. Platitudes that only a Primarch's charisma could make ring true, and even that only barely.

Instead, Guilliman silently sank to one knee.

"My people," he said. "Of Macragge, of Calth, of Saramanth and Occluda and Iax, of all the Five Hundred Worlds. I am sorry.

"In the hour of your greatest need, when the Emperor's Children, sunken into the darkest madness, burned a trail of torment across Ultramar - in that hour, I was not here. Leman Russ and his Legion were, and of course so were the Ultramarines under Marius Gage; and you, the people of Ultramar, defended your homes and each other's, both directly and indirectly. Every apple grown in the orchards of Macragge let a soldier on Calth fight on for just that much longer. And you succeeded; despite the odds, together, you succeeded.

"But I was not here, as I should have been. There is nothing I can do now to shift that. So we must move forward, but not without reflection on past hubris.

"I cannot, should not, erase those mistakes. But it is possible to move past them. We will rebuild Calth and Carenn and Zephath and all the other damaged worlds. And we will, also, rebuild the bonds between Ultramar and the rest of the Coalition for the Restoration of the Imperial Truth. Horus is a friend, not a rival, and we must not conceive otherwise, for otherwise the Emperor's madness will destroy us both."

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The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...te-heresy.html)
What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.
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CHAPTER TWO


In these times, Alexios Basiniand - senior Fulmentarus Sergeant, 154th Company, XIII 'Ultramarines' Legion - was greatly reassured that the mountains of Macragge were just as he remembered them.

He was within the Crown Range, far above the death zone - Macragge was a thin-aired world, only its lowlands possessing enough oxygen to breathe. Legend held that the mountains had been raised by four-billed avian gods, who sought to preserve most of the world from human life. Basiniand had spent much of his youth in Magna Macragge Civitas, in the shadow of the great wall.

Now, as a Space Marine, he climbed these sky-paths without much difficulty. His demi-squad had ascended Sylopos earlier in the day, and now tracked downward; Nophras was above him on this stretch of rope. Below, the cirque from which the Archann Glacier flowed was coming into view.

And fifteen kilometers below that, the sprawl of the city Basiniand had been born of. Magna Macragge Civitas was distant, and partially cloud-covered, and one who was not Astarte would have been hard-pressed to make out any details at all. But Basiniand had been here before; he could see where the Fortress of Hera pushed the clouds upward and the concentric, segmented walls around it. Further, there was the great flatland of the landing fields, with great rockets already stationed atop it; further still, the blue waves of the Pharamis Ocean. And every second of looking revealed more intricate detail. There were the fabs, there the markets, there the preserved ruins of Prima Macragge Civitas.

And fortresses. A lot more fortresses than Basiniand remembered. He did not regret that fact. As far as he was concerned, the defense of Macragge should have been a priority earlier. The inability to imagine a serious threat to the realm's safety implied a failure of imagination.

Not that he would accuse Guilliman of such, but Ultramar was large enough for lesser people to make mistakes.

He stopped on the ledge for long enough to see Nophras slide down beside him. "You know," he said, "why can't we just leave the ropes here? If we ever come this way again, we could use them."

"That would defeat the point," Basiniand retorted. "The challenge is the entire purpose of this exercise."

"Understood, brother-sergeant," Nophras said. "Even so... could we not simply not use them, then?"

Basiniand rolled his eyes. Squad Basiniand was not known for its iron discipline, but they were Ultramarines. "Brother Nophras," he said, "you have your orders."

"Theoretical: I suppose picking up our litter is also part of the challenge. Which is fair, actually."

Basiniand nodded, and they got to work. Leorchan, Acexiones, and Remnev were several hours ahead of them. They were returning, now, returning in victory.

It was useful as physical training, and as bonding. In truth, Alexios Basiniand did not climb the mountains for either of those reasons, and not even because they had taunted him since childhood. There was something in this rareified air, something which could never be found below, in the world of brotherhood and politics and art and war.

"One more span, brother-sergeant?" Nophras asked.

Basiniand looked down. "One more span until the bottom of the wall. Practical: I don't see a camp yet. We'll have to hurry."

Then his eye tracked upward, finding a boxy shape moving across the sky - at this distance, it could have been a heron, if not for its unnaturally vivid blue color.

"Theoretical: or perhaps not," he added. "Prepare for extraction."

The gunship rumbled on, hurtling unerringly toward them. By the time it arrived, Basiniand and Nophras stood at attention to receive it. Indeed, it set to hovering next to the narrow ledge, before a ramp rolled out.

"Playtime's over," said Marius Drialai, captain of the 154th.

Basiniand bit back an acerbic reply as he stepped into the heat of the Thunderhawk interior. Drialai did not like him at all, for reasons that dated to a long rivalry between the two veteran sergeants that perhaps had led to both being passed over for the captaincy in favor of Eodobos Coufed, but when Coufed had been killed in action in the Linekere Cluster, Drialai had been chosen for the captaincy. Basiniand couldn't fathom why. Yes, Drialai was tactically astute and skilled in personal combat, but he bred enemies as if he was a farmer and they his crop, to say nothing of his mistakes on Ouratham, which had left -

Past feuds. Of no consequence in the present. Unable to stop himself from grimacing, Basiniand bowed to Drialai. "Do we have a new assignment, brother-captain?"

"Your squad does," Drialai said. "Where are the rest of them, brother-sergeant?"

They picked up Leorchan, Acexiones, and Remnev downslope, next to a boulder fall. As they did, Drialai explained the background to their mission, glacially moving over facts Basiniand already knew. "The rest," he eventually said, "will have to wait for a more secure location."

Basiniand made no comment - whether Drialai was trying to get a rise out of him was irrelevant. Acexiones, unfortunately, thought differently. "Seriously?" he asked incredulously. "Why lead us on, then? Or are you still bitter over - "

"Acexiones," Basiniand warned. "Stop."

Drialai condescendingly huffed. "The rest," he repeated, "we'll go over in the Fortress of Hera. But I thought I might bring everyone up to speed on the strategic disposition of Ultramar."

The strategic disposition was that the Ultramarines would be deployed mainly in breaking up Imperial pockets scattered throughout the galactic east. Above all, their goal was preventing an Imperial expedition from finding substantial support in any advance on Ultramar. Their mission, thus, was defensive.

The gunship lowered itself into the Fortress of Hera, where Basiniand was reunited with the other half of his squad and was hurried to a briefing room. Along with Drialai, there was a Mechanicum adept present, or - no, not a Mechanicum adept. Quite aside from the organ in question being absent in Ultramar, this man lacked the degree of augmentations the tech-priests bore. A bionic eye, certain cranial bio-augments, but mostly baseline human.

"This is the squad you've chosen?" he asked Drialai.

"They are," Drialai said. "The best I have, in fact. This is Sergeant Alexios Basiniand. Brother-sergeant, this is Conservator Omar Phessix."

"Conservator?" Basiniand asked, curious despite himself.

"We have to call ourselves something," Phessix said. "Open exchange of lore, free from Mechanicum constraints and with a very different Administratum policy... reviving the Conservatory seemed as good an idea as any, since that's what we're doing, exploring the past. Forms change, structures remain."

"I see," Basiniand said, although he didn't. "So what is this classified project?"

"Sotha," Phessix said. Basiniand wracked his memory for the name without success. "A minor world, a colony of Ultramar. Under ten thousand denizens. Home to Mount Pharos, believed to contain archaeotechnology. Sealed under writ of Lord Guilliman, but I've managed to convince the Primarch's administration to begin an investigation of the site."

"We have to grab every advantage we can in this war," Drialai added.

"So it's a ruin," Basiniand said, then raised a hand to forestall any response. "A ruin with arcane technologies, ergo valuable, but - why Astarte presence?"

"The Primarch ordered it," Drialai said. "Theoretical: the site has potential extreme strategic value."

"He also thought the Astarte perspective would be valuable," Phessix said. "Not to mention organization. The downside of rebuilding from scratch is time, and you're used to working quickly."

"We are," Basiniand said, bile rising in his throat. "Brother-captain, may I speak with you in private?"

When they were alone, Basiniand nodded, trying to center himself. "If I may speak freely - "

"You may."

"I know you're bitter about Ouratham," Basiniand said. "Maybe even more bitter than you would have been had I not saved the battalion. And I also know you have a litany of other reasons, some even justified. But for the Primarch's sake, Drialai, this is petty even for you. Sending my squad, a Terminator squad, to garrison duty on a nearly uninhabited world, over grudges from before everything fell apart? You're a captain now. You should act like it."

He knew immediately that he'd gone too far. Saying that in private to a commander that didn't hate him would be improper; Drialai was a step beyond that. He seemed on the verge of attacking the sergeant then and there, and his spittle prevented him from getting a coherent word out.

"Veteran Sergeant Basiniand," the captain eventually managed to say, the acid audible, "it is true that I assigned this mission in part to get you away from me. I hoped that some distance would smooth our differences. In the practical, that looks an increasingly faint hope. Theoretical: as one last indulgence, if your return from Sotha goes as expected, I will give my recommendation to have your squad moved to another company, with my best wishes and a very positive account of your ability. You've done a great deal for Ultramar, brother-sergeant; I just wish it wasn't under my command. As to this mission, since you didn't notice, it comes from the Primarch himself. If you disagree to its merit, you can petition him."

Basiniand had to fight hard not to recoil. If this was Drialai's attempt to settle their differences, it was a ludicrously mishandled one. But he should have expected nothing else from the captain.

"I apologize, brother-captain," he said, still unsure whether said captain was being entirely honest. "Regarding censure - "

"Waived," Drialai said. "After all, you did request permission to speak freely. Just... get out." His voice was as hostile as ever, but still Basiniand was struck by the fact that Drialai had been the accommodating one this time. It was something to reflect on, and avoid in the future at all costs - because being less reasonable than Drialai was not something to be proud of.

But for now, it seemed, his squad really would have to go to Sotha.

Renegades Saga contributions
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...tions-cry.html)
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...s-scarlet.html)
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...lesh-weak.html)
The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...te-heresy.html)
What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.
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