Companion To Champions- 30k/Moorcock
The warning I posted about fluff and characters on The Black Aquila applies here. The story is set sometime in the novel Horus Rising and is a crossover with the works of sci-fi author Michael Moorcock, a huge influence on the Warhammer universe. It is also an excuse for me to write about my favourite character meeting some more of my favourite characters. Enjoy the madness of my first chapter! (Somebody's name and a historical joke are in here, too, so see if you can find them!)
“As you can see from the projection, the eastern edge is very well defended- a whole line of bunkers have been erected behind the wall and, while I am sure that this obstacle could be overcome, it would lead to casualties that could have been otherwise avoided… But here, can you see it?”
The Warmaster Horus paused, gesturing to another point on the holographic map showing a large section of the planet’s surface; a large wall, some thirty feet high in reality, cut through the projection. Bunkers scarred the earth behind it, dotted with automatic gun placements. Eight eyes followed his hand, four brains considered the data, and one mouth curved into a smile of realisation.
“The woods, my lord- the wall ends at the wood’s edge. You plan to attack there?”
“Exactly, Captain Abbaddon. An obvious mistake, I’m surprised they didn’t see before. And yes, that is my plan. A team should be able to infiltrate into enemy territory from the woods, and take out a great deal of the defensive wall as they do so.” His fingers had been active on the hologram as he spoke, tiny figures appearing and parts of the wall vanishing under simulated explosions. “From there on in, the path to the capital is clear.”
One of the other Astartes looked from the map to his Primarch, debating with himself as whether so say what was on his mind; the Warmaster’s eyes turned to him anyway and Captain Loken could have sworn he nodded very slightly. Taking that as permission, he spoke.
“My lord. What if they did know that we- or any other enemy- would make that our target? There simply isn’t enough data… The whole area could be a death trap.”
To Loken’s surprise Horus beamed, and the Astartes had the feeling he had avoided a trap of his own. But before the Warmaster could speak again, he was interrupted by the entrance of a rather confused-looking Luna Wolf; the man approached the projection table without a word, glancing backwards over his shoulder now and again as if checking to see if he was being followed. Horus turned just as the man saluted, recognising him as Brother-Sergeant Serpionson.
“My lord.” The Astartes simply, ignoring some of the Mornival’s disapproving expressions at being disturbed and Torgaddon’s obvious neck-craning as he tried to see what his Brother Marine had been looking at.
The Warmaster was clearly tempted to ask him why he was interrupting, but something in the Luna Wolf’s expression made him pause; he looked not only confused but, if he were a normal human being, would definitely been wringing his hands. Also, the man wouldn’t have come to him if it wasn’t an urgent event, even if the lack of alarms told him that they were not under attack and none of the Astartes on the field had contacted the HQ. Maybe, on second thoughts, that was the problem…
“There is someone who wishes to speak with you, my lord- a human.” reported Serpionson, then paused. “No, that isn’t strictly accurate. He didn’t ask for an audience with you by name, he simply wishes to see “whoever’s in charge”, to quote him exactly… Sir, I don’t even think he knows who you are. I… found him. Outside. Near the sea shore.”
The Warmaster nodded, wondering why the Astartes would bother to be that exact. “Is he native? It would make sense if he were a native, deciding to sue for peace… Most likely he is a messenger, carrying the terms of surrender perhaps… Let him in.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Wait.” cut in Abbaddon, stopping Serpionson as he turned to fetch the ‘messenger’. “Are you sure he isn’t armed? It would be a pretty pass for you career if you let an enemy assassin into the Warmaster’s presence.”
“No, captain, he wasn’t armed… In my opinion, my lord, he doesn’t look like he can hurt a fly.”
“Ah, well. That depends.” added a mystery voice; all eyes in the room turned to the mysterious figure framed in the door, and the figure smiled back at their frowning faces. “It depends on what type of fly it is… Now, I have had the misfortune- among other misfortunes- to have come across some very deadly examples of flies in my travels. Most are harmless, I admit, but aren’t the exceptions to the rule the ones that are so memorable?”
The Warmaster took a step forward, sizing up the ‘messenger’ with analytical eyes; he was young, around his thirties if Horus was any judge, with fair hair and a friendly expression. He wore a loose shirt of red silk that had definitely seen better days, sky blue trousers, high leather boots, and a bag hung on his shoulder. There was a spark of adventure and amusement in his eyes, along with a light that made him seem much older than he was.
But what caught Horus’ eye first was the fact that he was dripping wet. Serpionson’s comment on finding him by the shore suddenly made a lot more sense. As did his assertions as to the man’s harmlessness- he couldn’t hurt any of them if he tried.
“I am the Warmaster Horus. You sought an audience with me?”
The ‘messenger’ smiled and bowed deeply, sweeping a wide-brimmed hat complete with feather off his wet hair as he did so. “Ah, of course. I remember you now, how foolish of me to forget… It is an honour, if not a privilege, to meet you, Warmaster.” he said, returning his hat to his head and his body to the upright position. “My name is Jhary A Conel, traveller and sometime Companion to Champions.”
“You’re not a messenger from the Pirasian forces, then?” This question was from Abbaddon, the Luna Wolf’s eyes boring holes into A Conel from his position behind the projection table.
“The Pirasians? You mean the charming people whose hospitable jail I had been enjoying until recently? I take this to mean you’re at war with them?”
“I take this to mean you just escaped from them?” asked the Warmaster, crossing his arms over his armour and looking down at the colourful man; Jhary, to his slight surprise, wasn’t cowed in the least and merely scratched his nose thoughtfully.
“Yes, Warmaster- a long tale involving high adventure, trickery, disguises, bribes made to willing guards, bribes made to unwilling guards, and the necessary application of a little force… A tale, unfortunately, I presume you lack the time to hear. A shame. It really was thrilling.” replied Jhary modestly, drawing an amused smile from Torgaddon and an eye-roll from Abbaddon.
“Why are you wet?” asked Loken, leaning forwards.
Jhary looked embarrassed. “Ah , well…”
“Answer the Captain’s question, Conel.” added the Warmaster warningly, and this was obviously enough to loosen even A Conel’s tongue; his next words came out in an annoyed rush, as if suddenly released from behind a dam.
“I was part of a catch of fish!” he said suddenly, waving an arm. “Dammit, but that’s not the kind of thing a man likes to admit. I had been sailing along quite happily when my little boat was suddenly overcame with a fog and overturned by a wave that seemed to come out of nowhere. Before I could adjust to that turn of events, I was caught up in a net with all sort of slimly, goggle-eyed beasts and dragged along for a considerably uncomfortable stretch of time. Fortunately I was at the top so I could snatch my breath, but believe me I have never been as relieved as when the net was upturned and us captives were released. All my fellow prisoners headed for the depths once more, but I struck away for the distant shore- which is where your Sergeant found me.”
“I see.” The Warmaster was disinclined to believe such a tall tale, but the man had an aura of truthfulness around him- and it did tally up with reported sightings of a mysterious giant humanoid walking the oceans around the HQ, dragging a net behind him and raising tall waves wherever he went. Some sort of xenos beast, obviously, and potentially dangerous. He was surprised the man had survived his encounter. “What did you do to get yourself captured by the Pirasian forces, exactly?”
Once again, Jhary looked awkward. “I managed to insult some princeling or another, a very trifling matter blown completely out of proportion. When a man travels as much as I do, Warmaster, it is very easy to loose track of all the civilisations and species one encounters. What is polite in one place becomes the height of rudeness in another… All very trying, I think you’ll agree.” he said, before adding: “And I say again- it was a terrible over-reaction, anyway. His mother is a very attractive woman, after all.”
The Astartes’ minds ran through all of the scenarios involving a prince’s mother that could have ended with A Conel in jail, before all six of them decided that they simply didn’t want to know. Captain Loken was the first to break the silence that had produced.
“You say you’re a traveller and a Companion to Champions- what does that mean? Are you a Rogue Trader of some sort?”
Jhary A Conel shook his head. “No, no! I travel the world looking for Champions- heroes, if you will- and I aid them in their quests, should they require it. To this end I am tossed willy-nilly around the multiverse, totally at the mercy of the winds of fate. Which, incidentally, have a way of making sure that I am never without a mission for long. It’s only a matter of time before I encounter whatever incarnation of the Eternal Champion this plane possesses, he- or she, it has been a woman before- cannot be far away. In fact, I was hoping to meet him here.”
“And you thought that I, or someone in the Mournival, was this Enternal Champion that you spoke of?” asked the Warmaster, his attention obviously caught by the strange man and his strange but oddly believable tales. There was something even of the Primarch about the way he caught people’s attention, and Horus was sure there was more to him than met even his eyes. “What does an Eternal Champion do, exactly?”
“He fights for the Universal Balance, making sure neither Law nor Chaos gains the upper hand and tips the scales too far on either side.” replied Jhary, then looked around and sniffed the air as if hoping to catch some elusive scent. “Here, I would be willing to bet, he fights Chaos.”
There was a pause following this pronouncement, and A Conel eyed Horus grimly.
“Yes indeed, Chaos is very strong on this plane.”
Originally Posted by effigy22
"No daddy, not there... i will be a good boy! i promise! no... not the cupboard! DADDY PLEASE! NO NO NO! Horus is a good boy... horus is a good boy... horus is a good boy. Daddy loves horus... daddy loves horus... daddy loves horus..."
Originally Posted by TheReverend
haha, well I was just re-reading A Thousand Sons and came across teh line "the horns on Magnus's breast were thrusting"...
"With a hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place"
Last edited by Black Steel Feathers; 10-07-11 at 08:20 PM.