For the prologue, see Cell 42A
. CAPTAIN OBADIAN Kai, the Master of the Marches and Commander of the Fifth Company of the Iron Fists, looked out of the bridge of the Battle Barge, “The Interceptor
”, and took in all the details of the world that stood before him. Hyacinth, the shining star in the Hyacinth system, was one of the thousands of planets that adeptus astartes could call home. A population of fourteen hundred thousand, the ocean world was where Kai hailed from, and it was also where most of his company had hailed from too. Although the Iron Fists used Hyacinth as their homeworld, it was governed over by the human populace, who remained ever loyal and ever faithful to their superhuman protectors.
It had forever been this way, ever since the Dark Eldar raiders were cleansed from the world at the dawn of M37 by the Iron Hands, the sons of Ferrus Manus. In a way, every Iron Fist was a son of Ferrus Manus, and they abhorred the flesh as much as their Progenitor had done in the age when he sailed the sea of stars.
It had been seven years, seven gruelling long years since Kai had last set foot on Hyacinth – and he longed to walk amongst the planets three continents once more, see the insides of the beloved fortress monastery again – and pay his respects to the fallen. His twin hearts ached to see the planet again, and remembered with joy the day that the Chapter Master had asked him and his company, to return home, from the everlasting war on Armageddon, against the greenskins that ever plagued the world. They still did, and it was only the efforts of the Imperial Guard and his brothers in other chapters that kept the world free from greenskin hands. Removing his battle-damaged, silver helmet – the Captain held it firmly in his right hand, looking out across at the world that stood before him.
The silent moment that Kai was having to himself was interrupted moments later when Battle-Brother Vorn, Sergeant of his command squad and eventually his successor, entered the Bridge. “Brother-Captain,” he said, with his voice hoarse. Like all of them, Vorn had suffered wounds during Armageddon, his right eye being the victim of shrapnel from a surprisingly accurate greenskin shot. “Do you know why the Acting-Chapter Master has called us home? I mean, it’s great to see our homeworld again but shouldn’t we be facing the greenskins still – back on Armageddon?”
Kai sighed. He had been expected this sort of question, and was indeed surprised that he had only now been confronted about it, just as “The Interceptor” had left the empyrean, arriving in real-space for the first time since her departure from Armageddon, the world named after the end of days. “That I do not, Brother-Sergeant,” he responded truthfully. Indeed, it wasn’t like Acting-Chapter-Master Calius to keep the fifth company in the dark, especially when there were rumours that he had not only called back Kai’s company, but also the Third, under command of his close friend Lexandro Vidius, the Master of the Watch, and the second as well – the legendary assault company that had been fighting a war against the Dark Eldar on Tyrus Secondus for far longer than Kai had been on Armageddon. “But if the rumours are true, it is something serious.”
“Aye. Especially when the second have been called back as well, Brother,” mused Vorn. “Have you heard any word from Exodus’ company? The fourth? According to the astropathic communications – they were due back from Calexious IV yesterday. They haven’t arrived, judging by the rumour mill.”
“Why would the Acting-Chapter Master have called back three companies just to investigate the loss of one?” responded Kai, still not taking his eyes off the planet which they continued to approach. “Something tells me there is more to it than that.”
“Aye, I agree. I’ve fought greenskins for too long,” Vorn remarked. “I could do well with a change of foe.”
“Be careful what you wish for, Brother,” Kai responded, when suddenly – a loud voice boomed through the intercoms, catching everybody by surprise.
“Welcome Home, Interceptor,
” the loud, ancient and wise voice of the real chapter master, who had been entombed in Dreadnought armour after the Battle of Opal’s Fall, affirming Kai’s suspicions. He was right. In order for Chapter Master Abraham Verchen to be awakened, this was something serious. “Captain Kai. It has been too long. I want your company at the main auditorium as soon as you leave your ship. We have important matters to discuss.
“Yes, Chapter Master,” Kai responded through the vox-link embedded in his throat, on an open channel – so all of his fellow brothers could hear his voice. “Faith and Fury.”
“Faith and Fury indeed,
” boomed Verchen, before finishing with a quieter, “The Emperor Protects.