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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-17-11, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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+++

THE ONE-EYED KING

Part the First


“Let them alone; they are blind leaders of the blind. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall in a pit.”
- Kristos, a false messiah of Ancient Terra


+++

Faint flashes and flickers strobed across the night sky. The study's few lumens nearly outshone them, so Locenze leaned over and caressed the dimmer strip on the wall. The sparse illumination died further, allowing a better appreciation of the phenomenon above.

Knowing little and caring nothing of the observers on the planet Kyvol below, the warships—thousands of kilometers apart and several times that distance from Kyvol itself—continued their ferocious combat unabated.

“Such incomprehensible power,” Abbot Mandose murmured. He shook his head, setting fleshy wattles oscillating like pendulums. “Such divine wrath.”

Castigator Locenze, very much the physical opposite of the bloated, diminutive abbot, glanced down.

“And this Chaos cruiser is entirely impotent?” he asked dryly.

“It might as well be, when faced by two vessels of the Adeptus Astartes,” chided Mandose, putting inordinate emphasis on the number. Never mind, thought Locenze, that the two ships were mere frigates. Never mind that the abbot had flinched away when Locenze had named the Archenemy.

“Of course, old friend,” said Locenze.

They lapsed into silence, continuing to watch the faint flashes. Eventually, Mandose began to fidget, shifting on his six legs and picking at his suppurating sores—a reliable sign that something preyed on his mind.

“Abbot?”

“Ah, nothing, dear Locenze,” said Mandose. “I merely think...should we not turn our minds to prayer? We ought to be leading our brethren in devotions at a time like this, not simply sharing thoughts.”

“A wise pronouncement,” averred Locenze. “Though I doubt that our small abbey could especially tip the Emperor's hand, He does protect His faithful first. Gather your flock, then, and I shall lead my penitents in psalms of their own.”

He turned and stooped slightly to fit his lean, stalk-like body through the study's doorway. As he did so, though, he paused.

“What is that noise?” he asked, cocking his ears.

“What-” began the abbot, before breaking off and listening too. “Ah, I believe that I hear it too. An engine?”

Locenze strode back to the bank of windows and peered out. He couldn't imagine what would bring a messenger truck from the capital at a time like this.

It wasn't a messenger. A point of red light had appeared in the sky, accompanied, as it grew, by an increasing rumble.

“Whatever is that?” squeaked Mandose.

“A meteor, perhaps?” said Locenze. “Or maybe a scrap of wreckage from above, or an escape pod, or—Emperor forbid—a landing craft? I see no contrail, though. That would imply...that it's coming right toward us.”

Mandose's whimper was almost drowned out by the rising roar. The red dot had grown larger than any star visible in the sky. The windowpanes began to vibrate, and the noise of their oscillations quickly graduated from a hum to a rattle.

“I suggest that now,” said Locenze, “good abbot, would be a good time for prayer.”

Mandose began to backpedal slowly, one of his insectoid limbs knocking over a padded footstool—one of several that it was an absurd affection of the abbot's to keep. The study was now cast in a strong red glare, and crockery and pictures were jostling to leap from their shelves and hooks.

Locenze turned back to the incoming object, certain that, at this point, no action of his could affect his chances of survival.

The fireball was now bigger than Kyvol's smaller moon, and rapidly approaching the size of the larger. Man-made contours could be detected in its midst, as well as erratic, flaring jets beneath it and on its left side. A flawed pane of glass shattered and Locenze instinctively shielded his eyes-

As the object flew past less than a kilometer overhead.

Locenze sighed and lowered his hands. Then the sonic boom hit, blasting the rest of the windows in and sending uncountable shards of glass sweeping toward him. Pain consumed his world as the fireball's distant impact echoed through the valley.

+

Brother Pietr glanced at the Pilgrim. The hoary old veteran was chewing a stick of kahv as he drove, stinking up the interior of the half-track unbearably. That his military expertise might come in handy on this expedition was certain—but why did Pietr have to be the one to share a vehicle with him?

He glanced back at the trail of vehicles following them. A dozen of the abbey's fittest and most able monks had been selected for the search party, and their vehicles could be seen winding up the rugged road behind his and the Pilgrim's.

It could only be a few kilometers more, at most. Then he would be free of the stink. The vessel—landing craft or escape pod, whatever it had been—had crashed down in these crags after barely managing to check its descent.

This morning the group had set out, homing in on the beacon-like plume of smoke that had been rising into the air. As they had spent hours struggling their way through the rough, sheer terrain, though, it had thinned and faded. Now they could only approximate where it had been.

The half-track slewed its way onto a flatter stretch and Pietr looked up the valley. Their position in relation to a spur of rock had shifted enough that a new stretch was visible—and in it, a jagged black scar on the mountainside.

“That'll be it,” grunted the Pilgrim. “The remains should have been caught on that ledge up there.”

“If the Emperor willed it,” said Pietr abstractly. Just who the vessel had contained was still in doubt, so he didn't know whether or not to be glad of the Pilgrim's pronouncement just yet. If it held some unspeakable evil...well, better had it been traveling too fast and skipped off the ledge to continue its tumbling descent.

It took the party a good hour longer to reach the ledge, in spite of its relative nearness. More than one vehicle almost slipped and tumbled down the mountainside but for the grace of the God-Emperor. At last they arrived, though, and Pietr saw the wreckage itself.

The scarred rear half of a landing craft could easily be made out. Its front half deteriorated into tight knots of tangled metal scrap. One of the rear engines was still smoldering, its casings having been broken open. The whole vessel was blackened by its atmospheric entry and the fires that had eaten at it after it crashed. The few remaining marks of ornamentation were melted beyond recognition. Pietr thought that he could make out a skull-and-feather motif, but could easily have been mistaken.

“All right, lads, dismount and spread out!” barked the Pilgrim. “Search for signs of survivors, or bodies, or anything interesting. Aillas, Reith, you two are assigned to finding a way into that heap. Get the cutting torch!”

Peitr clambered out of the half-track and made his way to the ruined end of the vessel. Heat still radiated from the core of the wreckage, preventing him from getting too close. That anything could survive such heat he doubted—especially not for a dozen long hours.

Further down the hull, Aillas tried the main hatch. To the surprise of all, it swung open with a gust of hot air. Aillas peered into the dark interior and then drew back with a shout.

Pietr and the Pilgrim beat most of the rest of the search party to him. A massive, armored body lay slumped just inside the threshold—well, half of one. The top half of a man who, if complete, would have towered more than half a meter over anyone present was sprawled within, just out of reach of the exit. He was clad in black, unadorned power which served to bulk his frame out massively. There was no sign of his bottom half. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and his skin had cracked and split to reveal the roasted muscles beneath. Most of his hair had been seared off by whatever awful heats had raged inside the vessel.

“An Astartes,” breathed the Pilgrim.

Pietr's gut churned. Here was one of the fabled Angels of Death, the Space Marines, divine agents of the Emperor—dead. Mortal, even after being raised closer to godhood than any mere man alive. He turned away, fighting the urge to retch.

“Don't just stand gawking around, people,” said the Pilgrim. “Aillas, Reith, your task hasn't changed. Get in there and look for any more of them. The rest of you, help me get this fallen warrior onto a trackbed.”

The body, even halved, was enormously heavy. It took all ten of them to merely drag it—by looping ropes around it and hauling, and by hefting its weighty arms and pushing its torso—to the nearest half-track. Even so, it left a rut in the dirt as it slid along.

Then came the hard part; lifting the sacred warrior into the trackbed. It took them a good half dozen attempts. Eventually, though, they managed to lift in synchronization and haul him onto the bed.

As they strapped the body down. Aillas and Reith exited the craft, sweating profusely and covered in soot. They reported that they'd found no more Astartes, living or dead. Certain areas had been inaccessible due to damage and heat, but survivors were even more doubtful in those places.

Sweating from the exertion, Pietr wandered away. Another divot in the ground caught his eye. At first it seemed like a natural part of the flattish ledge, but having seen the impression left by one Astartes, he realized that this could well have been a second. It didn't start immediately beside the vessel, but only further out, which indicated that—if this was really the track of another marine—he had staggered out, fallen, and dragged himself onwards.

This path was harder to follow. It passed over rock in places, which showed little sign of damage or scuffing, but he managed to keep along it all the same. It led him to the edge of the ledge and into a crannied recess, one of the steep creek beds which flowed only during the wetter months of the year.

His alertness was rewarded. In the recess was a second Astartes, lying face down.

This one was almost entirely whole. His armor, like the first, was black, but unlike his brother, he wore a helmet. His armor was badly mangled along one side, and Pietr saw an adamantine spar protruding from the damaged patch.

Peitr slid down to the body, breathless at his find. This one had survived the impact enough to drag himself away—could he possibly still be alive?

His answer came soon enough. At the noise of Peitr's descent, the marine stirred. He craned his head to look up, and for the first time, Peitr could appreciate how badly damaged his helm was. Its entire left side had been crumpled in by some unimaginable impact that had, with little difficulty, warped and compressed the adamantine. The right ocular visor was cracked but otherwise intact, while the left was lost in the damage.

“Guias,” croaked the Astartes. “Aster.”

“I...” said Peitr, choking, “I can't understand you.”

“Guias. Aster.” One of the marine's arms twitched. “Qua es meus frater?”

“I don't...I don't know!”

The marine's head slumped back to the ground. Peitr could hear how pained and shallow his breathing was.

He had to get the Pilgrim over here, right now.

+++

CSM Plog, Tactica

What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-18-11, 02:53 PM
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great work as always dude. you've got to start winging me some stuff for The Heretic!

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-18-11, 06:12 PM Thread Starter
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Aha, yeah, that.


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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-19-11, 03:44 AM
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Excellent intro, Mossy.

Hurry up and get Part the Second done

And I can't lie, for some reason the opening scene before the a-splosion I mentally read all in the voices of the Monty Python cast... hrm...


Heresy-Online's Expeditious Stories Challenge 13-06: "Serenity" has started, get your stories in by July 11th!

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-21-11, 12:08 AM Thread Starter
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+++

Part the Second

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”
- Ancient Terran scrivener


+

Machines chattered quietly, giving rhythmic, beeping reports. A quill scratched a steady sussurus, off-set by an irregular ticking sound. Layered on top of that were the Astartes warrior's heavy breaths and Chirurgeon Mikla's light footsteps.

She glanced at the Astartes again, hesitantly. To look at his massive body—stripped, painstakingly, of its armor, and now covered only by a thin sheet—seemed almost irreverent. The marine's raised contours were decidedly inhuman; or rather, posthuman. His musculature was immensely swollen, and his chest, on account of his fused ribcage, was square and blocky. Armor jacks embedded in his skin left irregular lumps in the sheet. Much of his left half was swathed in bandages. No cot was large enough to hold him, so the inhabitants of the abbey had lain him down on three mattresses on the floor.

Mikla checked the monitors and the automated read-out, to make sure that his condition wasn't wavering, and went back to cleaning her tools in the sink.

She had nearly panicked when he was first dragged in. How was she supposed to operate on so august and sacred a personage? Suddenly her mentor's horror stories about removing a visiting Cardinal's burst appendix hadn't seemed all that humorous. And not only was this sacred warrior her patient, but she had only the faintest idea about what modifications and augmentations had been made to his body.

So she had learned fast. Two hearts. Three lungs. Bones as hard as iron, but more brittle. Thick, tough, leathery muscles. Shriveled, sterile testes that were almost laughably small, when compared to his body's bulk.

At first, she had struggled, working with such massive proportions and resistant flesh—but eventually, she had noticed other things working in her favor. Blood flow clotted within seconds of new incisions—and what blood she actually saw was a brilliant vermillion, the result of an absurdly high hemoglobin count. In a normal human, she would have suspected advanced diabetes. On one hand, The marine's body metabolized and nullified every sedative and immunobooster she injected, but opposing that, he showed no actual need to be sedated. It was a morbid to consider, but she had worked on corpses that twitched and shuddered more often beneath her knife.

Her blind, fumbling emergency triage had sufficed. The marine had stabilized—more on account of his own modifications than her work, she suspected. Plumbing his inner workings had left her even more mystified than when she had started.

Mikla glanced down at him again, oh so cautiously, and froze. His unbandaged eye was open.

“Qua...” he croaked, his voice deep and hoarse. “Quisnam es-” before his voice broke and he began coughing. She recognized his words as High Gothic, which matched what the men who had brought him in had said.

“I do not know High Gothic, lord,” she said carefully. “Can you speak Low Gothic?”

“Where. Who are...you,” he repeated.

“A sub-Abbey of Kyvol Minor, lord. I am but a humble chirurgeon. Annis Mikla. That's my name, I mean.”

“Brothers?” he asked.

“You've mentioned them before,” she said. “Guias and Aster? I'm sorry, milord. We could only find one of them, and he was, well...”

The marine's gaze left her and traveled across the ceiling. His lips pursed slightly. Perhaps his eyes glimmered slightly. Nothing pronounced. The face's swollen features were an impassive, alien mask to her. All the same, she thought that she could sense a great anguish swimming beneath it.

“With—with all due respect, lord, who are you?”

“Can call me...Ogion. Angels of Vengeance. Brother Sergeant, 5th Company. How are my injuries?”

“Of course, Lord Ogion,” Mikla said, and was once more nearly overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. She was speaking with an Astartes. She did her best to assume a professional, businesslike mien. “You've survived injuries to kill a normal man three times over. An adamantium spike in your side punctured a lung and ruptured your small intestine, but I've inflated and stitched them, respectively. Nonetheless, it dealt massive muscular trauma to your abdominal wall.

You have various lacerations and contusions all along your right besides that, but your armor took the brunt of the crash. You've also undergone severe stress and blood loss, in spite of your blood's wondrous clotting capability, and have suffered a number of sprains and fractures around your body.

“The left half of your face...well, you'll never look pretty again, but I don't think your duties require that. I'm afraid, though, that you lost the eye. We don't have any augmentics on hand, but-”

His eyes had slipped shut. Perhaps he was still exhausted, and his mental conditioning let him slip into unconscious at a moment's notice. Perhaps he was weary of this litany of ill tidings, and simply wanted her to stop babbling. In any case, she fell respectfully silent.

After a moment's reflection, she slipped away. She would let him rest and inform Abbot Mandose that the Lord Ogion had woken, however briefly.

+

The vox apparatus wheezed. Peitr murmured a prayer to its elderly, infrequently-used machine spirit and tried to dismiss his nervousness regarding the upcoming ordeal. He leaned forward, putting his mouth to the mic, and depressed the “transmit” stud.

+Honored Astartes frigates, please respond. This is sub-Abbey Castus of Kyvol, bearing important tidings. Please respond.+

He held his breath. The vox console continued to rattle unabated, but no reply was quickly forthcoming.

+Honored Astartes fri-+ he began again, but was cut off by a deep, clipped voice that was only slightly fuzzed by static.

++This is the Nova Frigate Ardent Blade of the Angels of Vengeance, responding to your hail. Disregarding your lack of vox-protocol and security measures, state your purpose in contacting this vessel.++

+I, ah, yes, honored lords,+ replied Peitr, swallowing down his redoubled trepidation. +We have recovered a fallen escape pod from your battle against the Archenemy's forces, and in it, the good Brother Sergeant Ogion.+

++Ogion?++ came the reply after a brief pause.

+Yes,+ replied Peitr nervously. He wasn't certain what the brevity of the reply meant, so he replied in more detail, painfully aware that he was babbling and unable to stop himself: +The Brother Sergeant and his unfortunately deceased comrades—the Brothers Guias and Aster, he told us—crash-landed a short distance from our abbey. He himself was badly injured. We thought it only fitting that you were informed, so that you could, well, return for them. Before you departed from the system.+

The vox was silent for a stretch of painfully long seconds, as though the speaker on the other end were conversing with a superior officer.

++Very well,++ came the cold reply. ++We will be descending to the planet as soon as we are able. Stand by for further instruction.++

The line went dead, except for the omnipresent static which hissed in fitful waves. Peitr sat back, exhaling. That had been remarkably painless, all things considered.

+

“Lord Ogion,” breathed Mikla, flustered, “you really must return to your rest. You simply cannot be up and about so soon after-”

“I am an Astartes,” said Ogion, shuffling along the corridor and occasionally resting his hand against the wall for support. He was clad in the garment that had been hastily stitched for him from three sets of robes, and slightly hunched so as not to bump his head on ceiling. “I am perfectly capable of understanding my limitations; far better, in fact, than you are.”

“Nonetheless, lord, you have been through a-”

“And this too: do not call me 'lord.' I am not one of your petty priestlings with illusions of grandeur. You may address me as 'sergeant,' 'Ogion,' or both combined.”

Mikla moaned in overwhelmed exasperation.

The rounded a corner and Ogion almost collided with Abbot Mandose, who was scuttling toward the infirmary as fast as could be considered dignified. Peitr followed in his wake.

“Ah,” croaked Mandose, looking up at the space marine's full, imposing height. “I see that our honored guest is already up and moving about. Far earlier, let it be said, than I expected.”

“He insists that he is capable, Lord Abbot,” Mikla replied. The title burned on her tongue after Ogion's most recent words. “In spite of my...reservations, I suppose that we must allow him freedom of the abbey.”

“But of course! I was coming to inform you—both of you, I suppose—of the good news that Brother Peitr has just imparted to me. Lord Ogion-”

“Sergeant, please,” the Astartes replied. Mikla was relieved that he spoke with slightly more tact—brusqueness aside—than before.

“Of course, sergeant,” said Mandose, clearing his throat. “Whatever you desire. As I was saying, though, we have made contact with you chapter's vessel the Ardent Blade, above us. They have been informed as to your presence, and shall be coming, soon, to retrieve you!”

Mikla's heart soared to hear those words—but Ogion's response was the opposite of what she expected (insofar as she knew what to expect of him). He flinched and drew back, slumping against the wall as if his wounds had reopened. She rushed forward to make sure that he was all right, but he waved her away.

“No,” he murmured hollowly. “Not now, no.”

“Lor—Sergeant Ogion,” said the bewildered Mandose, “whatever is the problem? I would grant this to be news for celebration, not mourning!”

Ogion snarled and jerked his head, meeting the Abbot's gaze. Mandose skittered back a step from this sudden, violent-seeming intent.

“My escape pod was cast from the Ardent Blade,” growled Ogion. “I saw it destroyed behind me as we fell toward Kyvol. You spoke to no such vessel.”

A stunned silence followed. Mikla's eyes and mouth gradually crept open as she began to understand the implications of such a statement. She, to sagged in horror.

“Then...who could it have been?” asked Peitr, confused.

“Had its sister ship the Plangent defeated the enemy” said Ogion, “there would be no such subterfuge. Who, then, can be responsible? Only Chaos. The Great Deceiver. Before now, they had no reason to heed this backwater planet. You have just given them a very compelling one.”

+++

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What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-22-11, 06:12 AM
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None too shabby.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 02-22-11, 06:21 PM
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Very good story.



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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-05-11, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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+++

Part the Third

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”
- Ancient Terran Kristian disciple


+

“Let your abbot cower in his chapel. I would see your abbey's defenses, and what we can do for them before the Enemy are upon us.” So saying, Ogion limped from the abbey proper into the yard outside.

Peitr followed, vaguely affronted by the sergeant's near-blasphemy, but more impressed by the fact that an Astartes had charged him with being his personal guide.

At Ogion's instruction, Pietr led him to the armory. While it was the largest collection of weapons Pietr had ever seen, the Astartes was disdainful of it. But then, he seemed disdainful of everything in the abbey, so nothing changed there. To Pietr, the assembled laspistols, lascarbines, and autoguns represented a chilling, deadly display. Ogion, though, sneered at their precipitous lack of spare ammunition. He seemed pleased, though, to find the crate of high explosive det-plastek in the back of the room.

The Astartes selected a laspistol for himself, almost idly snapping off the trigger guard so that his finger could fit on the trigger. It looked like a toy in his massive grip.

They crossed the room to examine what passed for the collection of melee weapons: a stack of electro-batons that tutors used for punishments on low settings, a collection of knifes halfway between bayonets and kitchen utensils, and a few workmens' chaintools. Ogion almost dismissed them all when he paused and picked up a weapon that hung slightly aside—the symbol of the castigator's office, a sacred power whip. Pietr hesitantly explained that to Ogion, who grunted and continued to coil it as his waist.

From there, Ogion led him outside, and slowly crossed the courtyard. Along the way Pietr babbled about the functions of the three buildings that made up the interior of the abbey. First there was the abbey proper: the dining, storage, sleeping, medical building that they had left. To the right of the gate lay the castigator's cells and work studios, where those sinners condemned to the sub-Abbey Castus were taught the errors in their ways. To the left lay the chapel, wherein rested the Lance of St. Kirschein.

As Pietr had expected, this last fact drew Ogion's attention. It waned, though, as soon as the Brother Sergeant learned that the Saint—and every person who had attempted to wield the energy lance since—had been immolated by the weapon's uncontrolled backlash. Surely, propounded the Abbot Mandose regularly, that was a sign that the God-Emperor held some great purpose for the Lance in the future.

As Mandose had called the brethren into the chapel and was quite probably leading such a sermon at that very moment, Pietr was quite glad that Ogion didn't simply push his way into the building and examine the lance in its case there and then. He wouldn't have put it past the blunt Astartes.

Instead, Ogion simply commented that the building looked structurally unstable and climbed the steps up the abbey's perimeter wall of red sandstone. Each slow step up was accompanied by a faint hiss—the closest thing to an admission of pain as Pietr had seen Ogion come.

They walked the perimeter rampart, which had been warmed by the late morning sun. Ogion asked about landmarks and the lay of the surrounding terrain. Pietr's answers—that is was a barren, bleak, and rugged area—gave him little satisfaction.

As they finished their circuit, the chapel's bell began to ring, marking the sermon's close. Pietr blinked—that was remarkably quick, for Abbot Mandose. Perhaps the fact that he had called the sermon as soon as he had heard the ill news factored in, and that he had had no time at all to compose it. His eagerness to assuage the fears of his flock has spurred him to haste and left him ill-prepared.

The monks spilling from the chapel didn't look very comforted.

Two of the newly freed abbey-dwellers made their way to the stairs and climbed up to meet Ogion and Pietr.

“And you two are?” asked Ogion abruptly.

“Call me Pilgrim, sir,” said the Pilgrim. “Everyone does. Honorably discharged from the Gundread Four-Aught-Three after forty standard years of service.”

“Demi-Castigator Vauchos,” said the second man. “Subordinate to Castigator Locenze, but due to his injuries, I have taken over his duties. Given the unfortunate situation...I am effectively the abbey's military leader.”

“Do you have any combat experience?” asked Ogion.

“No, honored Astartes, I do not,” replied Vauchos steadily.

“Then your all such duties are hereby transferred to this...Pilgrim, as well as myself.”

Vauchos deferred to Ogion's judgment. Pietr was glad: he didn't like the Vauchos—the man was altogether too pasty and obsequious. He couldn't help but feel relieved that the abbey's defense was out of Vauchos's hands.

Ogion, wasting no time, demanded to know from the Pilgrim the total combat capability of the abbey.

“I'd need to know what we're up against, sir,” said the Pilgrim, “but-”

“Traitor Astartes,” said Ogion, his features wrinkling into a sneer. “No more than a score of them, at most.”

Peitr fought back a wave of absolute, crushing terror. Vauchos yelped a soft curse. The Pilgrim, on the other hand, just closed his eyes and nodded again, more slowly.

“I fought alongside the Praetors of Orpheus on Zavir,” he said eventually, meeting Ogion's eyes. “I saw what Space Marines are capable of, and I ain't got any illusions about their capabilities. I'd have to say this abbey doesn't stand a chance at all. Our best choice would be to take the half-tracks and run; split up and scatter, maybe, so that some can get away.”

“No,” said Ogion. “We will not run from them. They know I am here. They will hunt me mercilessly until they find me, and such a chase would only bring them joy. Nor can they afford to let you live and pass on word of my presence here—you would receive a treatment just the same.

“Should we flee, then, into the mountains where driving is so hazardous and tedious, where we would get picked off from above, vehicle by vehicle? On foot, to be caught all the faster? To the capital, where they would bombard the city from orbit and then call down their depraved foot soldiers to wipe it from the face of the planet? Better that we face their strike force here and annihilate it, or die and, in our failure, not punish the people of this planet with broader consequences.

“No, I will not be hounded and run to ground, to live out what days remain to me cowering in fear. My brothers are gone, now. I have run enough. It is our duty to stand against these foul, blinded abominations and all they represent. It is better for us to stay and fight, and to have some chance of victory—or failing that, a noble death.

“I know how methods, the strategems that these Traitor Astartes will use. But if we are to survive this storm, I must know every single tool that is available to me. I have heard you refer to this place as a Castus Abbey, and you bear the title of Demi-Castigator. What does this signify? Who, exactly...”

+

Abbot Mandose blinked. Surely this wasn't what it appeared to be.

After his flock had departed, he had devoted an hour to solemn prayer, beseeching the God-Emperor and spirit of St. Kirschein for deliverance. When the racket outside had grown loud enough to perturb his thoughts, though, he felt the need to see what the ideas the flock had gotten into their heads—placed there, no doubt by the Angel of Death. He had never imagined that an Astartes could be so...brusque.

But this went beyond being crude. This was madness!

“What...” he breathed, beyond words, “what do you think you're doing? These are convicted criminals!”

The massive man glanced over at Mandose, and he felt the outburst shrivel in his stomach. Perhaps it was not the most prudent of ideas to cry out against an Astartes...

“I am arming them with whatever weapons we can spare,” he replied in his deep, gravelly voice.

All around, the courtyard had been transformed into a hive of activity. Line of criminals stood, still shackled together, receiving knifes and guns without ammunition. The half-tracks had been removed from their sheds, and were surrounded by all manner of containers and drums, with the Pilgrim and two other men hard at work doing...something to them. The turrets of the perimeter had men working there, too, hammering boards onto the ornate woodwork and putting metal spars and tubes into place. Ply-sheets were being used to cover windows on the lower story of the main building, and one of the confession acolytes was bustling around the castigator's cells in white robes. But those robes were only used for the preparation of the...

Oh dear. Oh dear Emperor. He understood. They were preparing for a siege of his abbey.

“But...” he wheezed, “but but, these men are animals! Unable to control their baser instincts! You can't seriously be-”

“I can,” declared the Brother Sergeant. “I am.” He turned away, back to conferring with Chirurgeon Mikla about stockpiled medical supplies.

Mandose would not be dismissed so easily. He reached up and grabbed Ogion's elbow, shrilling, “by the God-Emperor, space marine! Grant me the respect and obedience that I am due!”

Another ill-considered move. The marine whirled so fast that Mandose couldn't track his movements. In an instant, the grotesquely large features filled Mandose's field of vision, twisted into a beastly snarl. The front of Mandose's robes were twisted in the Astartes's hands.

“Your God-Emperor doesn't factor in, little man. He was only ever a man—an immensely powerful psyker, admittedly—but only ever a man. And even if He were a god, would He really take notice of a worm like you?”

Mandose gulped in fear, clenching down on his bladder so as not to wet himself. Ogion let go of his robes, but made no other move.

“Your arrogance disgusts and astounds me. Were the Emperor a god, then His flesh would be His million trillion worshipers across the galaxy. You are as no more to Him than a single cell; far beneath His threshold of notice.”

“Bu-b-i-” sputtered Mandose, choking on the overwhelming blasphemy of Ogion's words.

“And I have seen vast stretches of this benighted Imperium, little man. Were the Emperor a God, His divine flesh would be more cankerous and sore-ridden than your own.”

Ogion turned away, his face snapping back into an impassive mask. He glanced back at Mikla, then strode stiffly toward the abbey's front gate.

Behind him, Mandose deflated a great deal.

+++

CSM Plog, Tactica

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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-05-11, 12:36 PM
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Hi Mossy, this Angel of Vengeance don't have many illusions regarding Big E ? Nice move +rep



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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 03-05-11, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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It's always sort of bothered me how the fluff tells us that Astartes regard the Emperor as a man, and then in BL novels, they turn around and treat Him in a pseudo-deific fashion. So...yeah, Ogion is a bit snappy on that.

I'm glad that you like the idea!

CSM Plog, Tactica

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