FortheLion; That served as a prologue, this is set slightly after (I will detail the time between this part and the prologue in a flash back sequence later on) cheers for the post mind you!
Cain; Thanks for the post dude, appreciate it!
++++ Three Months Later ++++
The Warp was surprisingly calm. The roiling miasma twitched gently around a brunt nosed vessel, the armour of which was scorched and torn in several places. White streaks cut along the black surface, each one thousands of feet in length and dozens wide. Gigantic weapons, their barrels pointed outwards as if tracking an hidden enemy. Stark purples and oranges crowded around the vessel, some daring to touch the sizzling Void-Shield with tendrils of malevolent energy. There was, surprisingly no screams of the damned or echoes of the Daemonic against the hull of the vessel, and the Navigator could rest in peace, knowing that he need not worry about that which stalked the void.
The mighty prow of the vessel, studded with bombardment emplacements and a single beam of light, which was a rapid strike hanger, was envisioned into the appearance of a Raven spreading its wings wide, the head staring into the Warp with jeweled eyes. Tight hallways, low and narrow provided the inhabitants of the vessel with a way to travel from station too station and while they were far from luxurious, the hard toiled crew and passengers appreciated the power of the vessel that carried them from world too world.
Deep within the bowels of the ship, a fight was ensuing. The room was surprisingly large, stretching off into the distance in all directions, however it was deathly silent bar the occasional clang of metal upon metal or the grunt of injured sparring partners. The acidic stench of perspiration flocked over any who stepped foot onto the training deck, along with the haze of smoke that flowed from the gunnery ranges that were joined onto the training deck via a long gallery that traced heroes back to the era of the Emperor’s Great Crusade.
In five metre intervals a statue stood ever vigilant, behind them spread long hallways that gifted the more recent of Neophytes and Astartes their own chance to stare at history whether or not it was by picture or weaponry, or every now and again a gory trophy case. The actual training deck consisted of interlocking amphitheatres that were filled with warm sand or pebbles. Walkways dangled above, each one wide enough for a pair of Rhino Class Space Marine transports too travel side by side along. Most were filled with a bustle of obsidian uniformed menials and grey fleshed Servitors, but every now and again the superhuman bulk of an Astartes could be seen moving amongst the crowds.
Most of the Raven Guard onboard, however, were within the primary sparring pit. Two Space Marines, their skin slick with warm bodily fluids were raging against one another with short blades, sharing blows with each other violently. One; Squat and wide shouldered was hanging back, allowing his opponent too come to him was blocking each blow from his opponent with swivels of his wrist, huffing and puffing as he let out short breaths from his triple lungs.
The other; Tall and gaunt with a mane of black hair which was pulled into a high topknot was on the attack. Both his hands were wrapped around the ivory haft of his blade, and with each blow he took he raised the weapon behind his head and brought it down hard. Both sparring partners were fast, but the sheer brute power of the tallest was beginning to bring down upon his shorter rival was purely painful to watch. Yet the ranks of Raven Guard Marines that rested on the stands, either standing and punching the air as they cheered on those who they wanted to win, or sat with golden drinking cups held in gnarled hands, continued to push the pair of Marines on with friendly banter.
“Come on Alexi, can you not beat me? I thought better of you! What will you do when I grow bigger than you, my friend?” the smaller of the pair taunted his fellow as he crept backwards, the bare bottoms of both his feet tickling as sand wrapped around them. The taller of the pair was still unleashing a flurry of blows into his fellow, his teeth creaking as the surfaces touched together and slipped.
Alexian, for that was his full name, could not get past the defencive stance which his Brother had adopted. For less than a second, Alexian floundered as fatigue begun to take a grip upon him, and his opponent took to the offensive. A punch struck Alexian hard in his ribs, cracking two as the other Scout wrapped his left leg around the right leg of Alexian and head butted Alexian twice, sending him onto the sand hard.
Yet the warm grains slid away beneath his bulk and absorbed most of the pain. The second Raven Guard was pulled down by the bulk of Alexian, who shook his head like an angry wolf as he did so. Alexian thrust his blade upwards into the chest of his fellow duelist who snarled as his bounded muscle was cut, spilling warm blood down onto the face of Alexian. It pattered gently, before the crimson crystallized around the blade and Alexian found his weapon getting yanked away as the other Son of Deliverance lifted himself back up, gripping the blade that protruded from his chest, slicing his fingers as he did so.
Yet he took it in an impossibly powerful grip and pulled the weapon free, throwing it away across the sand as he did so. He threw away his own weapon, raising his arms in a triumphant boast. However, he had turned his back upon Alexian. With a growl, the taller Scout punched into the lower back of his supposedly won Brethren who was sent stumbling forwards, bent over so that his fingers cut long lines in the golden sand beneath him as he desperately tried to regain his composure and balance.
Alexian arched his back, bringing his knees into his chest and curling his arms inwards on themselves, he threw himself upwards with a exertion and landed on his haunches, his eyes wide with rage. Mockingly he returned for the first time since the bout had begun “Come on Kayvaan! Can you not beat me?” and threw himself forwards at hip level. Kayvaan spun with that, his right fist swinging in like a drunkards from the side. It connected with the jaw of Alexian, sending him spinning back into the sand, which this time shook beneath him.
A foot came down onto his throat, and Alexian frantically clawed at it with short, broken nails. He felt his trachea constrict as Kayvaan put on more pressure, his tongue lolled from the side of his mouth and wetted his pale cheek. Dark tentacles begun to push from the corner of his eyes, spiraling towards the centre as if on the hunt for a concealed prey. When he was despicably opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water, Kayvaan retracted his foot and stepped backwards.
A iron gate nearby, below the stands, swung open with a creak and a procession of Astartes marched forth. At their head was a ancient looking being with grey eyes, wrinkles of which spread away from it like channels from a reservoir, a short Mohawk of black hair which looked as though it had not been washed in several years, glistening with clumps of dirt and caked blood rested along the length of a scarred head. A twin pronged beard dropped from his lower face, obscuring all but white teeth and black lips.
He wore a set of Mark Six Corvus Pattern armour proudly upon his frame and with each step he took, a white cloak which was held around his throat via a golden reef fell from around his throat, parting the sand behind him. His left arm was curled so that his hand rested upon his hip, the armour there slipping between the thumb and his trigger finger. In the crook of his arm, a helm that a master artisan would be jealous of rested, the long beak fashioned from ivory and silver. Both eyes were narrow slants across the centre, angled upwards to where a pair of carvings formed into wings rested upon the side.
Both Kayvaan and Alexian, the latter of which was barely pulling himself onto his feet when the doors swung open, snapped into a limp stance. Hands went at sides instantly, and chins were raised high. Both wearily muttered “Victorus Aut Mortis” as the figure and his retinue, each similarly armoured and uniformed, although their cloaks were of crimson rather than pearl white drew near. They had known who he was, when only a filter of his face had been visible from behind the parting gates.
Brother-Captain Karshen, the Ever Vigilant, the Abyss. Liege of the Fourth. Currently, there was over three hundred Astartes from various Companies traveling aboard the Black Raven, a venerable Battle Barge which was said to have had served with Corax himself during the Great Scourging which followed the Horus Heresy. Although the Astartes onboard were a strike force from the elements of several Companies, thus why the Scout Squad under Sergeant-Teacher Othello were aboard, Brother-Captain Karshen of the Fourth Company had overall command.
The entirety of the Fourth were aboard the Black Raven; Some one hundred Brothers who had proven themselves a dozen times over in the name of the Holy God-Emperor. Another twenty Marines were from the Tenth, and thirty more originated from the Eighth Assault Company. Those were the most bloodthirsty aboard, longing to spill enemy blood. Yet this was not a campaign of war, but rather a ceremonial undertaking to a Shrine World in the Galactic North that had originally been blessed by Corax and his Raven Guard during the Great Crusade.
Karshen halted before them and bowed, shocking both Scouts. A Captain bowing before a pair of lowly Tenth Company Astartes? Blasphemy! Yet neither Scout could help but to let a crackling smile spread across their features, and Karshen pulled himself back up as they did so. Karshen turned, placing his helm in the hands of one of his retinue members before spinning back to face both Neophytes once again.
He took the hand of Kayvaan first in both his giant gauntlets, and it dawned upon Kayvaan when he realised that without his armour, although the carapace would provide little help against such power, his hand could be crushed with a simple tightening of servos. Cold metal encased fingers rubbed the rough palm of Kayvaan, and he retracted both hands. He proceeded to grip Alexian in a similar grip, however this time he shook it enthusiastically. A pang of jealously overtook Kayvaan. Alexian was his closest Brother, yet the Captain of the Fourth was favoring him! Over the victor of their bout!
His fists clenched at his side, the bones of his fingers clicking as they contorted inwards. It was when Karshen finally opened his mouth to speak that Kayvaan realised how tainted his thoughts had been. Reminiscent of cracking leather, his mouth dropped half open and a series of warm words flowed forth “You fight well, Scouts. Kayvaan, I believe?” he stared at Kayvaan, his ancient eyes scanning his every feature. The Scout simply nodded.
“Good, you fight well Brother; You played your part excellently, holding back until your opponent was physically and mentally exhausted and only then did you allow yourself to get fully immersed in combat. Alexian, I believe, on the other hand got in over his head and wasted his energy however he is excellent in his swordsmanship. I bow to you both for a brilliant duel, and I wish you well when we arrive at Illixia” at that he turned, marching briskly back towards his doors and leaving the astounded Raven Guard Scouts standing alone at the centre of the amphitheatre.
Upon the stands, sitting at the peak of the marble seats, Sergeant-Teacher Othello nodded his scarred visage, pulling his black hood back over his head. His black eyes watched his two Scouts as they marched towards the iron gate which Karshen had retreated within. He slipped back into the darkness, masterful movements allowing him to move back between a pair of high pillars undetected by any of the surrounding Astartes.
Kayvaan moved his thumb across the newly acquired scar tissue that bisected his chest, the rough flesh there rippling beneath the pressure which he put upon it. The Tenth Company contingent aboard were arrayed upon the rolled out mats around him in various stages of rest, some had clenched their eyes shut tightly and were growling as they slept, long winded snores tracing across the room. Initiate Thurinus was sitting with his back propped against a wall nearby, carefully cleaning his scoped Bolter with a long fur covered metal wire.
Thurinus was what one could call beautiful. Pale of complexion and long of hair, high cheekbones flanked his blue eyes, a feature which with age would be lost to him. His mane was blonde, something that was very unusual within the Raven Guard due to their Gene-Seed transforming hair and eyes to black, while their skin turns deathly pale. Kayvaan and Thurinus had become close friends, with both sharing the same Hive City upon Deliverance. Thurinus however was calm and eased, unlike the boisterous Kayvaan who loved nothing more than to make a great amount of noise.
Both locked eyes for a brief moment, incline their heads slightly as they did so. Brother Alengo, the marksman of Squad Othello, entered the dormitory with his rifle pulled over one carapace armoured shoulder. That was his prize, gifted to him by Othello himself when it became apparent that Alengo could outshoot the other nine aspirants of his Squad. Short and thin, Alengo’s face was leonine in nature, his brown hair pulled into tight dreadlocks that obscured the Ganger tattoos upon his head.
Alengo was barely eighteen cycles, yet his cold demeanor could easily have strengthened that by at least another ten cycles. Thurinus and Alengo were not the best of Brothers however. Alengo had spirited away the title of marksman for the Squad, something that Thurinus had longed for. Both had clashed during their first battle, which consisted of taking a Ork held world from their grubby clutches.
If it had not been for the timely interruption of both Kayvaan and Alexian, both would have split one another’s throats. It was not fair to say which would win, as both were talented warriors in both close combat and ranged tactics. However, Kayvaan personally believed that Alengo would have won that bout, due to his history as the son of a famed Gang-Liege. Kayvaan had been trained with the blade since he could handle one, yet each time he dared to enter a training pit with Alengo, he had been sternly downed and bruised.
Alengo settled down next to the resting Alexian, who had slipped both hands behind his head as a rest and was staring upwards at the mural covered ceiling. Which particular image he was portraying in his mind went absent to his fellow Brothers, for the sheer amount of brightly coloured depictions was to be frank; Blinding. It must have took decades to forge that mused Kayvaan as he followed a battle scene, consisting of raging Eldar flooding around the Emperor and Corax, who stood surrounded by a Terminator and Custodian guard.
How momentous. Kayvaan shook his head and forced himself to look away, meeting the eyes of the dark and brooding Brother Hel-Eng. He had originally originated from a lowlife family that would never come to any purpose, and Hel-Eng was the first Marine from their lineage who had been accepted into the hallowed ranks. Most looked down upon Hel-Eng, however he had proven himself to be a staunch, albeit malicious, loyal Scout. His skills with his customized double barreled Shotgun were of the highest standards, and he could wield both that and his Bolt-Pistol in a deadly duo.
The flickering flames that rested in deep alcoves behind each Marine extinguished slowly, mirroring the end of a day when the sun retreats behind the horizon. Kayvaan slipped into a lying position, his mind idling upon his Illixia. It was a Shrine World, yet just over three hundred Raven Guard, First-Founders, were being deployed? Surely it could not have been a simple pilgrimage?
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?'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'