This is the next part of my re-imagined Heresy, based on what I feel would have happened had Horus chosen to stay loyal to the Emperor. I hope you all enjoy and I look forward to your comments and criticisms. Thanks to all who have commented so far. I appreciate it all.
Blades and axes only.
The words still rang in Vorn’s ears as if he still sat with the rest of squad Canus in the drop pod as it plummeted towards the planet with their gene-sire. When the vox had come over the net, he had shot Captain Karcen a questioning look.
‘Legion Master Gheer has his orders from the Emperor, beloved by all, on this matter. Our lord has a strong distrust of firearms, as they are a symbol of class repression on this planet. We are to use the full fury of our blades and axes against their armies in support of our primarch. We sill keep our guns stowed, even after we land, Seargent. Is that understood?’
The intense focus and conviction that Vorn heard in the voice of his captain left no room for doubt. ‘That is affirmative, sir. Canus squad, you heard the order. When we hit and deploy, chain axes and combat blades only. We are to be united with our gene-father in the crucible of battle. There is no greater way for the War Hounds to be united with their primarch, and I pity our Astartes brothers who are denied this same experience. Let the righteous fury of the Emperor, Lord Angron, and the War Hounds be brought to these tyrants this day!’
For their part, squad Canus bellowed a roar of response that resonated with barely contained energy and violence. Every one of them had longed for the day when they would be united with the primarch from whom their gene-seed had been engineered. Now that day had arrived. Vorn ran his thumb lightly over the activation rune of his chain axe, clearing his mind of all other thoughts except for the battle to come. As the Emperor himself had taught the first War Hounds, battle was the time to let all other thoughts slip from your mind and focus on the business of making war against your enemies.
The drop pods had fallen through the atmosphere, dragging behind them a trail of smoke and fire that lit the dawn. Vorn had always wondered what those misguided tyrants had thought as their armies were closing in for what they felt was surely the final battle that would bring end to the reign of terror that Angron had fostered amongst the ranks of nobility; not only in Desch’ea, but across the entire planet.
As Vorn meditated on the past to try to discern any lessons he may learn from any detail of that fateful day, there came a light rapping upon the metal door that served as the entrance to his quarters on The Conqueror, flagship of the War Hounds, XII Legion Astartes.
‘Please enter,’ Vorn said, the deep bass of his voice resonating through the small chamber he occupied. At his command, a frail, possible malnourished youth entered. The young man could not have been more than sixteen by Vorn’s reckoning, probably having lied about his age to participate in the glory that was the Emperor’s Great Crusade before it ended. The youth kept his eyes cast downwards, waiting for acknowledgement from Vorn, his captaincy of the 12th company making the crew of the ship feel like he was even less approachable than a rank-and-file Astartes. Vorn gave him a curt nod, ‘Report.’
‘Sir,’ the youth began, with considerably more courage than Vorn would have thought for someone as scrawny as this. ‘We have a communication from the Warmaster. It seems he wishes to speak with his brother with all due haste and precaution.’ The youth shifted nervously from one foot to the next, understanding just what the request meant.
‘Son, Angron is in meditation and is not to be disturbed lest it disrupt his humors and unleash his inner beast, so this best carry more than just the Warmaster’s name.’
The youth looked uncertain, but straightened with the sort of resolve that was inspired by working alongside the Astartes. ‘Sir, the massage came in with an Omega prefix and with the private encryption used by the primarchs.’
Omega prefix thought Vorn? He couldn’t conceive of something that would require the omega prefix, ‘Double check the code prefix. It has to be a mistake.’ A mistake had surely been made. No one had ever made use of the Omega prefix in a communication within the expeditionary fleets in the entirety of the Crusade; it just hadn’t been necessary to have that sort of emergency response.
‘I knew you would say that, sir, so I took the liberty of having the communications servitor decode it a second time. It came back Omega as well, so I switched servitor units and it still translated Omega.’
Vorn could see the steely resolve and confidence in the job that had been done growing in the youth as he spoke, sure that the job he had done was up to the level of expectation in him. Knowing he had no other recourse, Vorn stood and dismissed the youth with a wave of his hand.
‘I will deliver the message to Lord Angron. I might be able to survive the rage that will come with this interruption. You, most assuredly, would not.’ As Vorn passed the youth, muscle memory carrying him purposefully to his lord’s quarters, his mind began to wander back to that fateful battle.
The armies of the tyrants had surrounded Angron’s forces and slowly moved in for the kill. This was their gravest mistake. The lack of speed, the methodical nature of those who wished to savor their victory, had cost them the very thing they wished to enjoy.
For their part, Angron’s forces made a valiant push against the western forces of their enemies, the so-called High Riders; named for the anti-gravity platforms upon which the nobility rode into battle. The battle having been well and truly met, the rest of the enemy forces had only to move into position in order to encircle Angron and wipe out those that stood with him.
It was at this point, when the battle was at its most critical stage, that the blue and white drop pods of the War Hounds began crashing to the planet’s surface like the mighty hands of the avenging gods of Ancient Terra. Fear and discord spread throughout the ranks of the High Riders as Vorn and Squad Canus burst from the assault ramps, like many other squads from many companies all across the battle lines.
As Vorn emerged, he began to compose a symphony of warfare. His chain axe whirred out the beat of his work while the screams of his enemies and the tearing of their armor and flesh leant staccato counterpoints to the solid slugs, fired from the weapons of the enemy pistols, which bounced from his armor. The rumbling of artillery shells impacting the ground giving a low bass thrum that synched with the high-pitched wail of dying men.
Just as he had blended the pieces of his orchestra to complete his latest work, Vorn was pulled from his feet. Hauled backwards and behind an outcropping of rock, Vorn watched the place he had occupied moments before turn into a molten flow of liquid rock. He was turned to look at the face of his savior, but all he saw was rage and death staring at him and, at that moment, Vorn knew he would die at the hands of what was surely his primarch.
Vorn was broken from his reverie by his arrival at the door to the sanctum of Angron, a place that few ever were given the honor of entering, and that fewer yet emerged from without some manner of injury that would require the attention of the legion apothecaries. Taking a deep breath, he pressed the activation rune for the door and stepped inside.
The sharp smell of incense hung in the air as Vorn moved into the interior of the dimly lit chamber. The few lamps in the room cast an eerie glow about the place, giving it more hidden nooks and crannies than Vorn would have thought possible considering the spartan furnishings within. The distraction cost him precious seconds to explain himself as a massive fist caught him in the mid-section with the force of a freight ship.
‘How dare you disturb my meditation!’ The bellow nearly deafened Vorn before his super-human ears had time to adjust to the close proximity of that ferocious baritone voice. Vorn found himself airborne before he could react, slamming shoulder-first into the wall, dislocating it from the socket.
With the looming figure of his primarch bearing down upon him, Vorn had to think quickly or risk losing his life; not to some foe on a xenos infested rock, but to his own gene-sire on a ship that should be free of life-threatening peril. ‘An Omega prefix message has been sent from your brother the Warmaster!’
The massive figure of Angron cam to a sudden halt with much more grace and dexterity than one might think given the size of the primarch’s physique. The rage immediately fled his lord’s eyes as he knelt in front of Vorn. ‘Thank you for having the courage to deliver this message to me Captain Vorn, you have done the right thing in interrupting my meditations. I will send for the apothecarion to tend to your wounds.’
With that, Angron was gone from his quarters. Vorn knew he would ultimately be ok, but his collapsed rib cage and nearly severed shoulder would mend best in the hibernation brought on by his sus-an membrane. As he allowed himself to slip into the half-sleep his body could bring upon itself, his mind went back to his first encounter with Angron.
His helmet was wrenched from its housing, tearing out the locking mechanism with it. The angry, sun-reddened face that looked into his eyes spoke as with the hate of centuries. ‘Who sent you to interfere with my war? Tell me and I shall kill you quickly. Don’t and I will turn you over to Balthizaar and let him put his knives to work on you. ANSWER ME!’
The grip upon his shoulders had moved to his throat. His thrachea would have collapsed had it not been for his super-human physique. That as it may be, Vorn still struggled for every word he spoke, wishing for nothing other than to provide the answer that would see his lord and legion united.
‘We have been sent by the Emperor of Mankind. It is his wish that you allow us to join you in your struggle.’ Vorn resisted the urge to fight against the hands holding him above the ground, but felt them soften just a touch.
‘Why does he insist on interfering in my business? I told him I was to live or die with those I bled with in the arenas!’ The giant demigod before him seemed to steel himself against some sort of pain, screwing his eyes shut tightly for several moments.
Seizing the momentary pause in his primarch’s rage, Vorn began speaking quickly. ‘The Emperor is your father, and he fashioned us from you. We are your sons. Do we not deserve the same opportunity to have granted your brothers from these arenas?’ The last question was punctuated by the sound of cracking ribs as a large meaty fist barreled its way through a porting of his power armor and into his side.
Angron held his fist against Vorn’s side, twisting viciously, grinding the bones of his ribs into his lung. ‘Your Emperor knows not of the ways of the arena. He rides in his ship with his golden armor, letting you fight for him. He is no better than the high riders.’
Vorn was lost for words. He had never heard another denigrate the willingness of the Master of Mankind to fight alongside his own troops. ‘I must respectfully disagree lord. The Emperor fights side-by-side with all of his men. There are others like you, sons created by the Emperor before he was truly the Emperor, and he fights beside them in every campaign against every foe.’ Vorn could see the anger washing from the face of the giant that held him, and he pressed his advantage. ‘Lord Angron, let us, the War Hounds legion of the Imperium of Man, fight along side our gene-father and his brothers and sisters. Let us become Angron’s War Hounds. Lead us and teach us, and you shall never know defeat.’
Angron hesitated for a moment before placing Vorn roughly onto the ground. ‘Very well…’ ‘Vorn,’ Vorn replied, realizing Angon did not know his name. ‘Vorn, you shall accompany me and relay my orders to my legion.’ Vorn smiled as he worked the vox bead from his helmet and slid it into his ear. ‘Yes sir,’ he barked.
The battle was well into its third hour as Angron and his arena warriors fought side-by-side with Astartes of the XII legion. Vorn had relayed Angron’s order precisely, allowing the legion to form up and concentrate on the bulk of the High Riders’ forces. As Angron’s personal bodyguard forged their way through the enemy soldiers, the High Riders on their golden discs began to fire their ancient weaponry indiscriminately into friend and foe alike.
‘VORN!’ Angron bellowed, ‘You are to take their main gun.’ Having fought alongside this raging god of the battlefield now for three hours, Vorn knew what he had to do.
‘Get me up there my lord and it shall be so,’ Vorn yelled over the din of the battle, sprinting for all he was worth towards Angron. As he neared, Angron gripped the back of Vorn’s backpack and hurled the Astartes warrior towards the heaviest gun platform.
Too late to correct the overthrow now that he was en route, Vorn thumbed the stud on his chain axe and swung it with all of his might as he passed over the far edge of the disc. Ceramite teeth screeched in protest against the gold alloy of the disc, the head of the axe slid across the backside of the disc, only finding purchase scant centimeters prior to falling off the end.
Vorn used his momentum to swing himself under and around in a wide arc, with his axe as the center of his arc. As he came upon the upward portion of the swing, he released his chain axe with his right hand, pulling his combat blade with his left. As he landed, Vorn dropped to his knees and carried forward into a roll, coming to a stand while slicing the platform gunner through his left lung and heart while kicking out with his right foot, connecting with the chest of the artillery commander, collapsing his chest cavity and driving him off of the platform.
Vorn reached under the platform and retrieved his axe, then moved swiftly to his work. He found the controls for the platform and pulled hard on the controls, careening it towards the nearest command platforms. Estimating the distance and setting his melta charges, Vorn took a running leap to a nearby gun platform, throwing his blade through the gunner and into the firing mechanism itself, rendering the gun worthless. As he landed, he tripped the officer on board to keep him from leaping from the platform, pulling him back and tearing out the leg in one smooth motion.
As the first platform rammed the command platform, the melta charges Vorn had set exploded. The explosion ignited the fuel source of both platforms; creating a spectacular fireball that birthed a shockwave of such force that Vorn was thrown from his feet and off the platform.
Vorn sat straight up in bed breathing heavily, a slight sheen of sweat coating his body. He looked around and realized that he was in the apothecarion, and that Angron was sitting beside his bed, eyes shut deep in meditation. Vorn stared for several seconds, wondering if it was worth the risk to find out what had happened with the communication.
As if reading his mind, Angron opened his eyes and smiled warmly at Vorn; a sentiment that he was not used to seeing upon the primarch’s normally hard-edged face.
‘Vorn, I am truly sorry. It has been since my Father removed my gladiator bionics that I have raged so uncontrollably, and I have shamed myself at my loss of control. My own sons should never be the outlet for my rages.’
Vorn was shocked to see this moment of sentimentality from Angron, as it was known that even without the bionics, Angron carried more rage and violence within him than all others except perhaps the Wolf of Fenris, and even he was more in control of that anger than his primarch. ‘I expected the punishment I received for interrupting your meditation, Lord. I wish to know, however, what message could have been so important.’
A look of sorrow crossed over Angron’s face for the briefest of moments before hardening into a mask of cold steel. ‘My son, we have been ordered to Colchis, home world of the Word Bearers. My brother Lorgar has fallen to the foul beings that inhabit the Empyrean. He has turned his back on my father, and now he is to be called to justice for the wrongs he has perpetrated. We are to be unleashed against the XVIIth legion.’
Vorn sat aghast at what he had just heard. His heart fell to know that brother would war against brother and, despite his nature, he wept. As his sorrow overtook him, Vorn felt the reassuring hand of his gene-father on his shoulder, lending him a comforting strength that he would need in the time to come.