A Sacred Duty
Its still a work in progress, but any and all feedback would be appreciated.
Justicar Tor’Ath of the Grey Knights Astartes chapter found his nemesis force weapon finally after hours of looking. Pulling the axe out of the corpse strewn ground Tor’Ath recalled the night before, the battle outside the limits of the hive city out in the desert wasteland where he and a hundred of his brethren fought through hordes of crazed heretics and drowned them in their own blood.
Tor’Ath wiped off the worst of the human debris from the blade of his axe with the palm of his hand, seeing others of his sacred order going about similar tasks. All around him others, including a sizeable portion of this world’s PDF forces gathered the bodies and threw them onto a funeral pyre that filled the air with the rancid stink of blood, burning flesh and a fire whose purity was sullied by corruption.
‘I don’t think this place will be missed when we leave,’ said another Grey Knight and good friend of Tor’Ath, Justicar Steid.
‘Yes,’ agreed Tor’Ath ‘Jamal VI has been less than pleasant to say the least,’
‘When will we be sent to purge a garden world?’ asked Steid with a sarcastic half grin twisting his usually bland and bored face.
‘As soon as you shed the notion that you are humorous,’ replied Tor’Ath.
‘Come, let us finish this task and go back to the spire, the Inquisitor may be almost done,’ said Steid, changing the subject.
Two hours later a steel grey Thunderhawk soared over the outer defense ring of the hive capital Altava. Anti-air gun platforms tracked its progress with a keen eye, yet did not fire, for the saviors of Jamal VI were no threat to the faithful men and women of the world.
The Astartes craft climbed through the air and made its way to the governor’s palace, a former stronghold turned mansion commandeered by the famed Inquisitor Lazario for an HQ from which the Emperor’s zealous servant could track down the corruption of Jamal before setting the Knights on it.
From the cockpit window the Justicars To’Rath and Steid watched as the pilot novices passed over the factories and businesses and empty buildings and small PDF training fields of the outer levels before the slums and black markets of Altava passed into the modest homes of the middle class before reaching the homes of the wealthy on the smaller rings of the hive before finally reaching the government levels.
It wasn’t long before the thunderhawk’s landing gear extended and the assault craft touched down on the primary landing pad of the governor’s palace, taking its place in-between two other Astartes strike craft.
The two Justicars were the first off the Thunderhawk, their squads coming out behind them and forming up before the Thunderhawk.
Tor’Ath and Steid walked across the landing area, nodding to the storm trooper squads in the service of the Inquisiton that had been given guard duty on the platform.
‘Identify yourselves,’ said two guards at the palace doors that led into the grand building when the two Grey Knights reached them.
Tor’Ath looked at the guards, studying them as he did every time he saw them through his helmet lenses.
They were big, taller than normal humans but not quite up to the height of the post human space marines. The same could be said about their width.
Their arms ended in chainblades and Tor’Ath could see the teeth of the wicked weapons running down both sides were chipped and stained from a thousand fights and the Grey Knight could see wires coming up from their backs to plug into the base of their skulls for some unknown reason.
On their shoulders were four plasma guns, connected by electrical wiring to their brains.
Tor’Ath was certain he could take these on in a fight, but knew it would be something to avoid.
‘Justicars Steid and Tor’Ath,’ said Steid ‘here to report on the final cleansing of the Altava wastelands to Inquisitor Lazario,’
‘Entrance granted,’ grated the guards, and doors opened.
Tor’Ath and Steid entered the palace and for the hundredth time this month saw more elegance and wealth in one hallway than most worlds had. They were not gripped with disgust as others would be, for they were accustomed to the fact that some worlds of the Imperium would always be better off than others.
As they made their way down the hallway they passed more pairs of guards of similar make to the ones that had granted them permission to enter the palace. These did not challenge them, for the Astartes had already been granted entrance by the first two which was good enough for these.
After passing twenty pairs of guards, only a small portion of the Inquisitor’s personal army, along with multitudes of palace and government functionaries that managed to stay somehow, cowering and whispering in the corners of the halls, Steid and Tor’Ath found the governor’s chamber at last and strode in.
The Justicars were greeted with nods by the Inquisitor Lazario, Battle Captain Fortis Vir, of their own order along with several other Justicars including the terminator veteran Hasta. A tall man standing amongst giants was Colonel Verra, of the Inquisitor’s storm trooper contingent. In the corner of the white marble room were servitors and mechanicus agents going over what only their god knew.
‘As I was saying, Battle Captain,’ said the Inquisitor, turning back to a holographic display of the hive, slowly rotating to give the men standing around the projector table a three hundred and sixty degree view of the massive city, ‘the governor’s astropaths have lost contact with the wider imperium just last night as our forces wiped the last heretics of the face of the world,’
‘What could cause this?’ asked Fortis Vir, laying both hands on the edge of the table and leaning forward.
‘My cousins in the Ordo Xenos are well aware of this phenomenon,’ said Lazario, ‘they call it the shadow in the warp, and the records I have on hand suggest only one thing, a full scale tyranids invasion,’
‘But the deathwatch have been tracking the hives in this sector without pause,’ said Fortis Vir ‘how could we not know of this until now?’
‘It is always possible it could have slipped past our nets,’ said Lazario.
‘So what do you propose we do my lord?’ asked Colonel Verra.
‘We are the Ordo Malleus,’ said Lazario ‘we fight the daemonic, the xeno is not our concern,’
‘With all due respect lord Inquisitor,’ said Fortis Vir ‘our objective is the safe guarding of the Emperor’s flock. I will not abandon this world to be consumed after we all fought so valiantly for it,’
‘You forget your place Battle Captain,’ said Lazario ‘your chapter is the militant arm of my Ordo, you serve at the behest of me and others like me, this isn’t our fight,’
‘You are mistaken Inquisitor, every fight is our fight,’
‘Not when warp spawn pour from the Eye,’ retorted Lazario ‘a greater war beckons us,’
‘You would abandon everything we fought for here to certain death? You would have your interrogator’s sacrifice mean nothing?’
At this Lazario stiffened and narrowed his eyes, the sacrifice his young apprentice had made two nights before still an open wound in his mind,’
‘It isn’t our fight,’ the Inquisitor repeated ‘as soon as we can we will send an emergency warning to the Ordo Xenos, the shadow in the warp is still faint, only strong enough to overwhelm this world’s astropaths, as soon as we reach the borders of the system we could jump to the warp,’
‘And run away,’ said Justicar Hasta, the terminator helm that hid his face from the others turning his words into a low growl more akin to what one would expect from a wolf.
‘I will not be spoken to in this way,’ hissed Lazario.
‘You will be spoken to however you deserve,’ said Fortis Vir ‘I command honesty from my men in all circumstances, speaking to you is no exception,’
‘You insolent bastard!’ said Lazario ‘I’ll report you to your masters for this!’
‘For this? Standing by the people of the Imperium and defending them against this new threat?’
‘For abandoning your chosen task! For the sacred duty laid down for you ten thousand years ago!’
‘Our sacred duty is to defend the Imperium!’ said Vir, slamming a clenched fist down on the projection table, causing the still rotating image of the hive to flicker twice before disappearing, leaving only a cloud of static roughly in the shape of a spire.
The Inquisitor took a step back from the table and looked up to the high ceiling above the group whose upper levels were shrouded in darkness.
‘Drega! Xalax! To me!’ he shouted and a chill ran up Tor’Ath’s spine when he heard those names.
Two black shapes that seemed to suck in the light and exude a smoky darkness fell through the air and the Grey Knights were exposed to the force of the Inquistor’s most deadly and valuable assets.
Two black armored Astartes slammed down on either side of the Inquisitor, landing on their feet and with fiery red eyes glaring at the Knights.
Justicar Hasta made a visible effort not to charge the abominations before them while the others, with the exception of Captain Vir who stood his ground, shuddered and were almost doubled over by the pain and nauseating effects these two black armored marines brought with them.
Tor’Ath tore his eyes from the ground and gripped the hilt of his sheathed nemesis force weapon tightly and looked at the Inquisitor’s dark guards, suppressing his urge to give up, something these… creatures brought with them wherever they went and the Justicar was forcibly reminded of what they were and where they came from.
Pariah marines, the decedents of an experiment to combine the sacred Astartes geneseed and the pariah gene to make a powerful new daemohunter.
The experiment was not a success, early on after ninety percent of the first batch was wiped out on a daemon world it was realized that the search for pariahs suitable for Astartes training was too long and too difficult. And even when more candidates for training were found, marines with no souls were found to still be uncorruptable by the ruinous powers, but one disastrous mission saw the undead armies of the Necron race gain a valuable new commander, one who remained at large with the galaxy still.
But the experiment was not a complete failure.
The phariah marines were outstanding psycher hunters, their natural abilities making any psycher, friend or foe, recoil in pain, which made them the perfect body guard against the all psycher chapter of Grey Knights, and so the creation of the monstrosities was continued for the purposes of the more nefarious servants of the Imperium.
‘I will broker no disagreement from you and your men Captain Vir,’ said Inquisitor Lazario, ‘we leave tonight, and if it makes you feel better I will have Colonel Verra alert the governor and the PDF commandant to the threat, in the meantime I will order your strike cruiser, Holy Shadow and my own ship to ready for our departure. Drega, Xalax, with me,’ said the Inquisitor, turning around and leaving the room.
The pariah marines did not follow their master immediately, sticking the Grey Knights with a stare of contempt and sadistic amusement at their visible discomfort before turning and following their master.
Once Inquisitor Lazario and his guards were alone in the hallway and making their way back to the governor’s, now the Inquisitor’s quarters the man spoke to his guards.
‘The Grey Knights have a love for their race I will never understand. If they try to stop us, kill their Captain as an example,’
‘With pleasure my lord,’ Drega, the larger of the two said.
The Grey Knights watched as the Inquisitor, guarded by his pariahs, walked out of the room, Colonel Verra, consumed by discomfort left through a different door than his master, on his way to inform the ruling men of Jamal.
‘What are we going to do my lord?’ asked Tor’Ath.
‘We fight this, the Holy Shadow will wait in orbit but we will not be returning to it soon, and it will not allow the Inquisitor to leave,’
‘Will you order the ship master to fire on the Inquisitor’s ship?’ asked Justicar Tanca, a veteran who had only recently been assigned to Captain Vir’s task force.
‘I don’t want to, I sense that his emotions over losing his apprentice are clouding his judgment, but I know he is a strong warrior of the Imperium, I will only stall him, unless my hand is forced, so that he and his retinue can lend their aid to the fight ahead,’
‘You really think he is in such a rush to leave because his interrogator died?’ asked Tanca.
‘Or he just does not wish to die, his reasons are his own, but we need him and his soldiers with us, we need everything at our disposal if this world is to be saved. Justicar Hasta, take your squad back up to the Holy Shadow, use all non leathal maneuvers to stall the Inquisitor. If you must, beam aboard the bridge and take it by force,’
‘Yes my Captain,’ said Hasta in his usual fearsome voice, before turning to leave through the door Tor’Ath and Steid entered.
‘Colonel Verra just sent a vox communiqué,’ said Inquisitor Lazario ‘the governor and PDF commandant have been notified of the threat, he reports that they ask for aid and that he has already informed them of our plan to alert the Ordo Xenos and deathwatch,’
The Inquisitor’s senior techpriest, Adept Dainton, nodded. The Adept had been busy going over the diagnostics of the Inquisitor’s ship, which the two men now occupied, before Lazario had entered the room.
‘Then I can retrieve the augments from the planet surface?’ the half mechanical man asked.
‘The Astartes have been giving me some trouble,’ said the Inquisitor ‘I have ordered them to return to their strike cruiser so that we might leave this world and seek out our chosen foes in the Cadian systems around the eye, but they have decided to have a sense of purpose. I want the augments down there, remind them, so to speak, that I have considerable strength at my power,’
‘Hmm. And where are the pariahs?’
‘The shields are up and running, nothing can teleport onboard and nothing comes in by shuttle without me knowing about it. I’ll be safe, so I had the pariahs stay on the planet, in place for… something that could tip the balance of an unfortunate display of force in my favor,’
Warning alarms began flashing red and emitting a shrill and impossible to ignore sound that meant only one thing, an imminent attack.
‘What the fuck is happening?’ shouted Lazario.
‘The bridge reports the Holy Shadow has maneuvered into an attack position my lord!’ shouted Dainton.
‘Order Captain Torcum not to fire, at least not until I get back to the bridge and alert your augments to get ready for a fight!’
Veteran brother Stor of Justicar Hasta’s terminator squad stood on the bridge of the Holy Shadow. He spoke to the ship’s master, a human commander whose memory, but not his skill, was wiped from his mind after every operation. Like many other humans who served the Grey Knights, he had no name.
‘Inform the Oberth of the Captain’s decree ship master,’ said the terminator, his helmet giving his voice a metallic edge unlike his Justicar’s.
‘Yes my lord,’ said the ship’s master, a man of average build wearing a grey blue, scarcely decorated, uniform. Like the rest of the Holy Shadow’s crew the ship’s master had an iron headband on his forehead designed to shoot spikes into his head at the slightest sign of daemon possession.
‘What the hell are you playing at Holy Shadow?’ shouted a voice on the intership vox.
‘That’ll be the Inquisitor,’ said Stor.
‘I demand you take your vessel out of its immediate position Captain Vir, and escort my ship to edge of the system where we will jump to the warp before it is too late,’
‘Captain Vir is not onboard Inquisitor,’ said Stor ‘we are not abandoning this world to be consumed by the hives,’
‘Then you will pay the price of your insurr’ came the Inquisitor’s voice before a brief hand signal from Stor cut off the vox.
‘Power the lance guns, the Captain doesn’t want the Oberth destroyed, he just wants it here and we will only fire on the engines if we must,’
‘Yes my lord,’
Back on the planet’s surface, in the governor’s palace one hundred mechanicus augments received new orders: apprehend Grey Knight Captain Fortis Vir.
One hundred post human half mechanical cyborgs left their posts guarding corridors and gateways and made their way to the last known location of their target, sharing all visual and audio data with their brethren on a shared mind interface.
Unknown to the lobotomized augments, deep in the bowels of the governor’s palace all the information they gleaned was viewed and listened to by two soulless creatures.
‘Guards on all entry ways!’ shouted Colonel Verra, ‘no PDF patrols, now arbiters, no enforces get into the palace, and nothing gets out! Get the gunships in the air, let nothing get off this rock without a fight!’
Around the colonel two hundred storm troopers rushed to fulfill his orders, the governor’s palace a backdrop to their own fight as the Colonel struggled to rationalize his masters behavior while fulfilling orders that would likely see fighting between two bodies of men loyal to the Emperor and His Imperium.
The Colonel turned to his junior vox officer.
‘Get on the comm. and tell the commandant the forces we have come here to destroy have thrown in a last ditch effort to kill the Inquisitor this night,’
‘But sir the Inquisitor has already declared the threat exterminated,’ said the young officer.
‘Just give him some bullshit long enough for this to get under control! Just stall them!’
An explosion tore along the outer walls of the palace, bringing tons of stone and marble down on the spire levels below. Colonel Verra himself was almost crushed by the falling stonework.
Justicars Tor’Ath and Steid fought hard through the long corridors of the palace, leading their squads trough swarms of the Inquisitor’s augments.
It was as hard a fight as Tor’Ath ever imagined it would be as he chopped his axe blade down on the head of an augment right before him, slowing it down, but doing little to end its lethality.
The augments shoulder mounted plasma guns whined as they powered up to fire before blasting out twin bolts of bright blue energy.
‘Down!’ the Justicar shouted, moments late as one of the bolts hit one his men, Brother Gathers in the side of his face, taking his head off.
The death of their brother only served to spur the Knights to greater effort as they charged down the hall, hacking and slashing with swords and axes and thrusting with halberds, using the psychic energy at their disposal to wrack the organic parts of their foes with lightning, burning flesh from iron.
‘We are the hammer!’ shouted Tor’Ath, raising his blade high for his brothers to see.
‘We are the shield against damnation!’ they cried in return.
Brother Captain Vir staggered away from the projection table in the center of the room. His armor defiled by scratches and chainblade gouges, the shining silver it was once dimmed by blood and black fluids that once kept ten of Inquisitor Lazario’s augments running. Now they lay all over the floor, hacked to bits by the Captains nemesis force sword, which hung loosely from his hand.
The barrels of his wrist mounted strom bolter were smoking and glowed a faint red from the fighting that had just took place.
The Captain inhaled sharply, trying to breath, but the pain was too much even for him.
‘The augments didn’t do this,’ he said to the shadows around him, ‘I know what its like being around your kind, show yourselves,’
The source of Fortis Vir’s pain stepped out of the shadows. Drega and Xalax, the pariah marines, clad in black armor, spotted in numerous spikes stepped out from the shadows and showed themselves.
‘We have orders from the Inquisitor,’ said Drega, drawing a long, curved, and barbed dagger from a leg sheath ‘and so do you,’
The force the pariahs exuded was enough to subdue the Grey Knight and leave him too weak to rise from the floor.
‘I will not abandon this world to its fate,’
‘You plead a heartfelt case to one with no soul,’ replied Drega, kneeling down beside the fallen Captain.
Vir’s grip on his swords hilt tightened, drawing the attention of the pariah next to him.
‘Xalax, please disarm the Captain,’ said Drega and the smaller, if only slightly, of the two abominations kicked the nemesis force weapon from the Captain’s grip before slamming a power armored foot down on the wrist mounted storm bolter, shattering it.
Drega pointed the tip of the dagger into the weak spot on Vir’s armor where the chestplate met the stomach section of the armor and held the dagger, ready to thrust into the Captain’s primary heart. The Grey Knights had no doubt his second heart would be next after the first one was destroyed.
A blackness began to occupy the edge of his vision, engulfing him in a darkness he knew he could not escape, not like this, weakened by something created specifically to sap the strength of his kind.
‘This is the last time you will be ordered,’ said Drega, pressing the dagger into Fortis’s armor ‘send your men back to your cruiser, and follow the orders of Inquisitor Lazario,’
‘I will,’ shuddered Fortis ‘when his orders are of benefit to the loyal man and women of the Emperor,’
‘So be it,’ said the pariah marine, flicking a switch on the hilt of the dagger, sending a wave of crackling lightning along the blade.
Fortis yelled out in pain as the dagger tore first through the armor and then into his flesh. He tried to fight back but the oppressive force of the pariahs paralyzed him and held him immobile on the floor.
Fortis thought this was it, that the end was soon to come for him as he felt the dagger edge penetrate deeper into his body.
Justicar Hasta stood alone in the teleportation room onboard the Holy Shadow, just as he had since he brought his squad back on board and sent them away with brother Stor to lead them. In all that time he had monitored his Captain’s vital signs and stood ready to teleport to his location should he ever feel the Captain’s life were in danger.
Now was that time.
Nodding to the teleporter’s operators he readied himself for the sensation of unease instantly moving from one location to another in the blink of an eye always brought him.
‘I am his shield,’ Hasta said, quietly so that his words would not escape the helm he wore, to himself.
Hasta’s vision was of the Holy Shadow’s teleportation deck was consumed and replaced by a white emptiness before being replaced with the interior of the governor’s palace.
He was instantly buffeted by the unholy power of the pariahs, but the terminator armor he wore would never allow him to fall, not while he had some strength in him and he took one step forward.
‘Xalax,’ said the pariah, kneeled down next to the Captain, ‘kill our friend here while I finish the captain,’
The smaller of the pariahs moved to intercept Hasta, walking into the giant’s path.
As the oppressive nature of the pariah pushed down on the confines of his mind, Hasta was reminded that the more powerful a psycher, the worse he was affected by pariahs, which meant Hasta, though capable in the arcane powers his order practices, was not as strongly afflicted as his Captain.
‘I am the hammer!’ he shouted, and charged forward on shaky legs with the force of a tank.
The hammer barreled into Xalax, pushing him to the side and throwing him to the ground just with the bulk of his armor.
The hammer aimed his wrist mounted storm bolter at the pariah marine and fired off two rounds without a second thought. The bang and boom of the bolts leaving the barrels and exploding fractions of a second later filled the room.
Hasta let out a wordless cry of rage as he barreled into Drega, taking the pariah off his feet and pulling him close to his chest as he pushed with all his strength against the floor, leaping slightly into the air and taking the abomination with him.
The flight through the air the two shared was short to say the least and with weight of a battle tank Justicar Hasta slammed the pariah down against the floor, bring his own weight to bear when he himself slammed down on the pariah, crushing him, but it wasn’t over yet.
Still feeling the sickening nature of the monstrosity Hasta brought himself back up and reached around his back for his nemesis force weapon, this one a hammer.
‘I am the hammer,’ he growled, and raised the hammer to his side.
‘You will not murder my Captain this day,’ he said, and slammed the head of the hammer down on the pariah’s face, crushing his skull in and casting it’s oppressive power off.
‘Are you alright my lord?’ Hasta asked, standing up and turning around to face his Captain, who was gathering his strength and rising from the floor as well, one hand covering the hole in his armor, from which a thin trail of blood seeped.
‘I am, thank you Hasta, would you please bring by blade to me? It was taken from me earlier,’
‘Yes my lord,’ said Hasta, turning around and scanning the floor for the sword.
It was only when the terminator brought back the blade and presented it hilt first to the Captain did he notice only one pariah corpse fouled the floor.
‘Yes, it concerns me to, but right now we have something else to do,’
An explosion from the corridor outside blew open a hole in the wall, throwing chunks of stone and marble into the room.
In stormed the Justicars Tor’Ath and Steid with their squads behind them, two men short.
‘Good timing Justicars,’ said Vir ‘I assume the Inquisitor’s augments are no longer a threat?’
‘Yes my lord, I’m sorry we couldn’t get here sooner,’ said Tor’Ath, ‘Colonel Verra’s men still have a perimeter around the palace, only barely within range of our guns, should we eliminate them?’
‘No, too much blood has already been shed tonight,’
The crack of a fiery explosion from far above reached their ears and the Knights looked up, thorough the moon window of the ceiling to see the outline of two ships exchanging fire.
‘Justicar Hasta, we must return to the Shadow, this ends now,’
‘Throw everything we have at them! Their insolence must be punished!’ shouted Inquisitor Lazario on the bridge of the Oberth.
The command crew had been trained from birth not to question orders, and they did not, instead they acquired new targeting solutions on the Holy Shadow’s vital systems and fired a volley of torpedoes.
Outside the viewing ports Lazario watched as the four torpedoes zeroed in on the strike cruiser and ranks of close defense guns opened up on the Shadow and threw millions of rounds of lasfire into the cold void of space, trying to shoot the torpedoes out of the airless dark before they slammed home.
Only one of the shots fired made it an punched into the hull, hitting one of the minor engine reactors, neutralizing it.
It would be several minutes before the ship’s redundant systems came online and took over for the damaged machinery, which would bring the cruiser back up to full battle effectiveness, yet Lazario still felt like it was a victory.
The Inquisitor turned around to face his Captain.
‘Mr. Lycum, target their comman-‘ were all the words he got out before he was backhanded across the face by a silver gauntlet.
The Inquisitor opened his eyes and wondered how he came to by lying on the floor.
That was when he noticed the long nemesis force sword half an inch away from his jugular.
‘We are staying,’ said Brother Captain Fortis Vir.
Finished: Too Much Love Will Kill You (working title), an original fiction novel. Working on: Second draft of Too Much Love, and the first draft of A Winter's Tale (working title).
Last edited by Worldkiller; 08-19-10 at 06:35 PM.