(ooc: opening post, thus lengthy. I will say that Cleomenes's part is extremely specific to him, and him alone.)
Niko, Kain, Spurius, Vermaas, Raxan, Raziel, Zeiran, Hexor, Izrael:
Your vision becomes washed in red. You watch your brothers sitting all around you finish sealing on their own helmets. The Thunderhawk warning lights flash, letting you know it is disengaging from the docking systems. Black, yellow, and gold appearing only as flashes of 'darker' and 'lighter' sections of the armor your brothers wear. You all feel it... the dryness of your throat, the sinking feeling in your stomach.
The chapter's last remaining thunderhawk slides effortlessly out of The Heart's side port. The change in gravity outside of the ship isn't what makes your insides crawl. The transport's grav seats, your power armor's stabilization systems, years of intense training and advanced physiology all help make that ignorable.
However, years of training does nothing to help any of you feel comfortable now. Moments ago, every remaining Scythe of the Emperor aboard The Heart stood in silence on the bridge. There it was, Sotha, all of you seeing it in its lifeless state for the first time. Though still dead it, oddly enough, isn't quiet. The planet which now appears as a giant asteroid, rocks being all that was left behind by Kraken, currently has a fairly beautiful looking space battle playing out beside it.
Cleomenes had in fact arrived... perhaps a surprise to many. His Rogue trader's ships now fight off a ragged fleet of thieves with ease, which was now in full retreat since noticing the heavy approach of the Scythe's battle barge. Though willing to stand their ground against an established Rogue Trader, none of them would stand in the path of the Astartes for even a second; the scavenger fleet simply leaving behind those still on the surface.
Likely uninformed about the retreat of their fellows, and already in a fight for their lives they cannot quit, the scavengers on the surface fight outside the abandoned fortress monastery's remaining walls with the rogue trader's personal crewmen, Cleomenes surely with them. Lord Sotha, now the norm for him, refused to send more than a handful of his marines to the surface, despite nearly all of them wanting to walk the corpse of their homeworld.
Most of you are in the group of marines in what is left of the chapter's one and only 'Battle Company' that seems to have become Lord Sotha's preferred group to send out, the seven of you seeing the most time planet-side while searching for new recruits in various systems.
"Brother Sergeant Kain, Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Raxan, Vermaas, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes...and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us." This is what your Lord delegated.
But three more are among you in the darkness of the Thunderhawk as it drifts toward the surface of the planet, three who ignored this delegation. Whether or not they would normally disobey an order, this time they simply could not stop themselves. None of the rest of you were much in the mood to stop them from doing so, either.
One of them is Brother Izrael. His long blonde hair draped upon his chest armor to both the left and right of his helm, as well as falling between his back and power-pack. Normally you know him to have his hair tied, showing he was in haste to board the transport. He is known amongst you and your brothers to have a death wish, of sorts.
Another you all recognize due to his size and MKIII helmet design is brother Hexor who, similar to Izrael, seems to ahve the inability to help himself from getting into the fray.
The third, is brother Zeiran who... well, not known for anything brash like the other two apparently couldn't help himself this day either.
You all find yourselves expecting the atmospheric disturbance that will never come as the Thunderhawk continues its descent. None of you have seen true battle in over 15 years now. You find your muscles and adrenaline aching in unison with your gut.
So, for your first posts there is a great deal for your character to have thought about seeing their lifeless home world for the first time, and also what they are thinking now while in the thunderhawk. Please go over these thoughts and any words your character may wish to speak. Feel free to engage in any kind of conversation with one another. If the first post is nice an detailed I wont mind if a second one is simply a dialogue reply to someone.
All of the above applies to you as well, except that you are alone on the lower deck below your brothers. You saw Izrael, Zeiran, and Hexor board behind the others so you know they are above you as well. You alos were standing alongside the rest of the chapter in the bridge when the dead world of Sotha came into view. Like the rest of your squad, you have not seen any real action since Ferim. For you it will be even more of a change. This will likely be the first time you actually need to use the power of your new body.
(Several hours before the arrival of the Scythes of the Emperor battle barge)
You are the largest form upon the fancily decorated bridge of Tybaar's leading vessel. Other humans, cybernetic beings, and alien hybrids populate the bridge as well. While the Trader's fleet has been travelling through the warp, you and Tybaar have been sharing many pleasurable toxins of various sorts that he has collected over many years of work. You having to take twice the amount or more of most of these substances to feel on par with your old friend. The normal behavioral doctrine expected of an Astartes has never applied to you since serving under Tybaar's command, and you act especially in such a manner now, knowing you will have to obey Astartes standards once again very soon.
The two of you are laughing from retelling memories of your time together, as well as from the abused substances. When the navigator announces the fleet will be entering Sothan space in mere minutes. Tybaar laughs as loud as you, gaining great joy himself from witnessing your own. You have been a large factor in his success in the past few decades, but even on a personal level he will miss you dearly.
The fleet enters real-space in a flash. You are in your full power armor, helmet hanging at the side, prepared to formally rejoin your chapter. Your armored arm hangs lightly around the mortal Trader's shoulders while the smile from your face slowly disappears, and your brows become more and more furrowed.
You remove your arm from Tybaar's form. He is as frozen in not knowing what to think as you are while your eyes flick right, left, right, left, scanning over the light-brown rock of a planet in front of you.
Everyone on the bridge is already double checking coordinates, not needing to be asked. All come back with the same answer. This is Sotha.
A small fleet of mismatched ships comes into view beside the giant asteroid. Tybaar immediately straightens up in his throne, all effects from the toxins seeming to be gone entirely, other than his head still leaning sideways and his speech not the finely tuned machine it normally was. Slow, purposeful breathing indicates he is trying hard to concentrate. He attempts to communicate with the fleet, but no reply is given.
It takes almost two hours to get close enough for you to demand to be taken to the surface, not willing to wait around for the unknown ships to respond.
(Once you land the Scythe's barge will have just entered the system, but this is unknown to you.)
Start your post here: Tybaar along with a motley crew of his most preferred personnel accompany you down to the surface, landing on a broken concrete slab that was probably used to station tanks or other armored vehicles of the chapter. He and the group will have the inten of course, of trying to figure out what the hell has happened. But instead you will see before you a massive pillaging operation. It becomes clear, the fleet in orbit is a scavenger pirate fleet, here to steal whatever useful supplies remain in the Monastery. Though likely a costly decision for him, Tybaar will gladly accept doing you a favor by giving his own fleet the order to attack when you ask him to. You cannot see exactly who these scavengers are at this point but you will end your post by beginning to move towards them.
Solaki’s mind stirred groggily from his hypnotherapies and psychosomatic-controlling sleep. His internal clock told him that it was three days since he had last woken. Usually, dreadnoughts slept for much longer than this, but for the past fifteen years he had woken at least once a week. It was strange, this new body of his. His limbs moved with a similar dexterity to his body of flesh, but it moved in new and obscure ways. One of his first wake ups, he had sent two servitors flying across the room by moving more abruptly or in a way he hadn’t expected. Laikus hadn’t scolded him. The two had grown much closer. Laikus had worked on him, made him into something the chapter could hold onto, could hope in. He had forged him into a symbol of what the chapter would be. Solaki’s only concern was that he was no great hero. He had made many mistakes and had been guided by many of his brothers on Ferim. How could he be looked up to, when he himself knew so little and was still so fallible?
A large portion of his time had been sent in acclimatising to his new body, his new role, his new weapons. Over fifteen years, he had grown into his new self. Very few people had come to see him in his new form. Belial had appeared occasionally, but Solaki guessed it was more to visit Laikus than himself. Sotha had appeared once, recently. For a few moments no one had spoken, Sotha just looked him up and down. He had half-smiled finally, clearly pleased with the chapter’s new weapon and beacon. Solaki could not help but notice that his brother’s proportions appeared almost comical due to his size. Still, Solaki still honoured his liege lord. “We are returning to Sotha” his lord had told him. His adimantium shell protected him from the most heavy arms fire, but is did not protect him from those words. The words had resounded through his empty shell and clanged inside his head. He was going home.
He had quickly made his way up to the bridge. For a few moments, he stood alone up there, besides the bridge staff and Lord Sotha obviously. Gradually more and more marines filtered in. They stood beside his bulky form, like he was one of them. He was one of them, and yet, he was something more. Solaki noticed Kain and Niko, both of whom had become something more than they were when he knew them first. Slowly the now barren rock drifted into view. Their home had been cold and dead for so long, but now that they looked at it, it was strangely alive. Not with fauna and life, but with metal and fire. There was a battle raging above their home. One vessel was the Rogue Trader’s ship; that much was obvious. Although, the fact that it was here was impressive in itself. Cleomenes had been on loan to the Rogue Trader since before Sotha’s fall. For a brief instant, Solaki wondered if he knew beforehand that his home was gone.
The other vessels were thieves, scavengers, pirates. Solaki burned against them, and his anger was further amplified by his true and terrible form. But now was not the time to use it. He had been taught many things in things by Laikus and the hypnotherapies, one of which was that in such a powerful body, you had to be careful of yourself. Uncontrolled anger and emotions could lead to havoc. He needed to be the symbol the Chapter needed, and flying of the handle was not how to do that. He didn’t know what would make him into that, be he knew what wouldn’t. So he controlled it. He was going to the surface, and he would have his moment to exact revenge. But for now, his eyes glazed past the battle and the now fleeing heathen, and onto the solitary rock that had once been his home.
"Brother Sergeant Kain, Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Raxan, Vermaas, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes...and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us." Those were Lord Sotha’s instructions as they departed the bridge toward the landing bay where the last remaining Thunderhawk of the chapter sat, waiting to ferry its solemn but deadly cargo. Laikus was running a few last minutes checks on the bird as Solaki approached. “Well brother techmarine…” Solaki’s metallic voice rasped. It was strange hearing himself speak, even now. “…it seems it is time to test your handiwork and my mettle.”
“It would appear so” Laikus was not one for many words. Solaki silently wondered if he was up for the task. This was his first real combat since Ferim, over a decade and a half ago. He had learnt so much, and yet so little he felt, in that time. A small part of him felt fear that he would fail his chapter. That was another emotion he had been taught to control and use as a weapon, like everything else. But he still felt it, and it would not go away. He dare not voice it; it would not do for other marines to see that their chapter’s only relic felt a modicum of fear. Laikus anticipated this. “You are ready, Brother Solaki. Now show those vermin whose home they are defiling. Bring Cleomenes back, and make this chapter proud.”
Solaki watched the rest of his squad enter the thunnderhawk. Well, it wasn’t a true squad. With the numbers of the chapter being as low as they were, Sotha would only send certain, hand-picked members to go on missions. Lately, it seemed that he had become rather fond of those he had sent today. Clearly he trusted them. Mostly it had just been recruitment from several worlds, and the Scythes now had several would-be scouts attached to them. After Astelan though, Niko and Alexander had not let anyone be implanted with gene-seed. They gene-seed was too valuable to risk, and they would not lose more brothers to treachery. They would certainly not lose any more gene-seed to it. Niko and Kain both boarded the thunderhawk and acknowledged him. Solaki did think it was slightly risky committing one of the chapter’s only two apothecaries to a battle. But, they were only pirates down there. They probably didn’t even had weapons which should worry them, and so Niko was not truly in danger. Still, in future, Solaki thought Sotha should be more careful with committing too many of the Chapter’s resources at one time.
Solaki also clocked three other marines entering the thunderhawk. Marines who shouldn’t have been there. Izreal. Hexor. Both reckless and he was not surprised with their ignoring Sotha’s orders. But then, he knew that every marine on board wanted to set foot on their home, but few had the gall to defy their lord so blatantly. Zeiran was the one which surprised him. However, Solaki said nothing. Had he not been in his current form, and had he not been assigned, he may well have done the same. And so, Solaki stepped onto the thunderhawk, but could not be with his brothers. He instead stood alone in the lower deck, alone. He was alone with his thoughts and at this moment his mind fixated on the irony that his first taste of combat as a dreadnought one his home-world. It had been so long since he was last here. Solaki was anxious to use his new body, and anxious to see his home again. Even in this state. Even after everything that had happened to him. He was coming home…
Brother Hexor sits in the back of the Thunderhawk looking around at his brothers trying his best to smile and lighten the dark mood in the ship, though it doesn't seem to working well at all. He thinks back to the moment they arrived in system and saw their former homeworld for the first time since it was abandoned to the xenos. He remembers a red haze coming over his eyes and an ache to be covered in the blood of the hated tyranids. Hexor managed, through strength of will alone, to push aside his thoughts of revenge and listened intently to the reports coming in of the lifeless planet, the pirate fleet around it, and the rogue traders ship taking fire while trying to repel the vile invaders.
Upon hearing of the mission to the planets surface and the small team going down to pick up Brother Cleomenes and destroy those ignorant enough to defile the graves of his Brothers his mind was made up. He immediately went to his quarters and geared up knowing he would be on thunderhawk one way or another. He was already wearing his power armour so he grabbed his bolt psitol and slapped it to his right thigh, mag-locking it into place. Picking up the sheath for his combat blade he strapped it to his left calf, making sure the buckles were latched tight and then slid the knife into it clicking the strap over the hilt. He took up his favorite weapon; his, for the moment, immaculate chainsword and hooked it to his left hip, drawing it a couple times to makes sure it was in just the right spot should he need it. He then picked up his blessed bolter and left his quarters with it in his hands. He stopped by the ships chapel and gave a short prayer to the Almighty Emperor of Man before making his way to the hangar bay. It took a little work to get aboard without being seen, but he'd been a Battle Brother long enough to know when and how to use stealth.
Now, sitting in the rear of the thunderhawks passenger bay, turns to Brother-Sergeant Kain, "Order's Brother-Sergeant? I realise I wasn't assigned to be on this mission but I'm here so tactically it would make sense to make use of me. I understand the consequences of my actions in this pursuit and will atone upon returning to the ship. But for the moment I am yours to use as you see fit, sir."
He then turns to Brother Izrael, "I've seen your sword work Brother, it would be my honour to challenge you in the practice rooms upon our return to the ship, should we not be secluded to our quarters for disobedience in coming on this mission."
He looked at it as he stood upon the observation deck of The Heart. It was a barren rock, devoid life and luster the only thing upon its surface the broken remains of his chapter's pride and the confusion which he tried to leave upon its surface. The last time Brother Vermaas had tread upon that plighted rock he had been waging an unwinnable war against the Tyranid scoruge as they fell like rain from the very skies. His mind was troubled in those days, where even the purity of warfare had not been enough to earse the doubts and fears he had supressed. He doubted his chapter's purity, its faith, and his own faith in the Emperor, for whom they had sacrificed their humanity to serve. Such confusion was maddening for him and the turmoil of such a bloody and impossible war had left his mind numb since then.
He could hear, even now, the echo of gunfire in his mind's ear and see the muzzle flashes of hundreds of Astartes guns as his chapter defied the Great Devourer. He could smell the burning of xeno flesh, their vile blood as it spilled from them in great gushes, and he could smell his own desperation. The squad he eventually tagged onto was ad-hoc at best, a scattering of survivers that had happened upon one another and quickly, as only Astartes did best, formed up into a cohesive unit. They had been pushed back into an old rockcrete pillbox-style bunker where they were cut off from the main defensive force and required to hold their position. They never stopped firing it seemed, and when their ammunition finally let up the Tyranids did not stop they broke open the pillboxes meter thick adamantium door and attempted to claw and gnash their way inside. They had been stopped with chainsword and combat knife and Astartes muscle. He felt a certain level of relief as he remembered how this memory ended with them literally bashing their way out of the pillbox, their chainsword siezed up in coagulated xeno blood -- their limbs beyond the point of exhaustion even for an Astartes but their hatred fueled them into just one more punch, one more pull, one more crushing grip.
He had survived, the Scythes had survived albeit a little to his surprise. A release of pleasure filled his body as he remembered standing triumphant over a thousand Tyranid corpses before they were ordered to move out. He'd look back at the pillbox longing in those days as he stepped away, its rockcrete survive was litterally shredded with long strands of reinforcing steel hanging from it. Had they not broke out when they did it was very likely that the xenos would have brought the ceiling down on them and murdered them as they laid trapped in the rubble. This wave of pleasure halted as his mind instinctively moved onto the face of Astelan. He stopped himself in mid-thought and shoved it to the back of his mind ... he was not ready to confront that horror.
The orders had come down that he would be apart of a relief force sent to Sotha. He had made his way, per his orders, to the Thunderhawk and strapped himself in without saying a word. He looked around at his squad-mates with a sense of pride at seeing them. They were the handful that remained since the beginning of all this madness on, ironically, Sotha so many years ago. He knew their faces and knew of some of their deeds and wished, fervently, that he had grown closer to each of them -- but for so long the flames of war had not forged their brotherhood any closer. He could taste bitterness upon his tongue and pushed the feeling back with a quiet litany to the God-Emperor. He would not allow the same corruption that brought down Astelan to bring him down as well.
He lowered his head and closed his eyes as he solemly began to pray aloud, althouh not too long as to interrupt the conversations of his brothers or to displease his commanders,
'God-Emperor of Mankind, blessed saviour of humanity. We go now to do your bloody work upon yet another world, and this one all the more bitter to us for its loss. We ask you, as Astartes, as your gene-children, for your guidance and blessings in the missions to come. May our bolters be true, may our chainswords ever rend the enemy, may our might never yield.
May you walk with us in the dark places of the galaxy -- for we bring the burning righteousness of your light, of your wrath. For we are your mailed fist made manifest! We our your anger given form. Place your motlen fist of purgation upon own shoulders and may you guide us to more glorious battlefields for we walk in the shadow of a terrible galaxy who does not know your light or the supremecy of Mankind.
Ever guide us to burn the heretic, kill the mutant, and purge the unclean! May your light never go out and may mankind endure until the end of time and the sundering of flesh!
Walking towards the bridge of The Heart, his feet felt as if they had been infused with lead. It was a difficult task that he was set upon and Raxan was unsure that he was ready to face it. Sotha, his beloved homeworld, had come into view and as he walked it was obvious that, despite an other tasks that they had been engaged in, each of the surviving marines of the Scythes now quietly made their way to the bridge. Trepidation, anger, and grief clearly etched on each face. It had been a long time since he had seen his home, but in the intervening time his childhood memories and his memories of his life with his chapter before the fall had all become tarnished, washed over in the blood of that dying world. Soured by the carnage that had been wrought upon it. Slowly, painstakingly, he made his way to the bridge. Hollow grief filling his heart and mind as he swam in images of the past, in memories of the fallen.
The quiet hiss of the door opening onto the bridge did little to tear him from his introspection, but he did scan the bridge looking for the form of Kain. It appeared that he had not yet arrived, so Raxan walked to a quiet corner, near the massive form of Solaki. At the time of his internment Raxan had not been keen on the youth being chosen. He was too young, too unexperienced. But many things had changed. The loss of one marine was desastrous to the chapter. Ways of old could not be followed if the Chapter was to survive and he was going to have to trust Lord Sotha to make the decisions that would be best. The sight of the massive dreadnought, the first time that Raxan had seen it since the boy was placed into it, was not one of joy that a relic of the chapter had been brought back to them by the youth's sacrifice. It brought too many memories to the surface. Heroes and friends that had fallen and again recollections of old pulled at him. It was as if his subconcious mind was doing everything it could too keep him from looking at the barren rock that lay ahead of them. Raxan forced himself to look, to confront the ghosts of the past, too feel the rage and fury and saddness that its lifeless surface evoked.
His ire deepened as he watched the battle that came into view as the battle barge entered orbit. Thieves, wretched pillagers, and vultures, their vessels now engaged in a firefight with what appeared to be a Rogue Trader's vessel. It was then that he remembered that Cleomenes was to meet them there. The entire purpose for returning home had been to rendezvous with their long gone brother. Raxan had fond memories of the man. Many times they had fought together in the Fourth. It would be good to have him home, another seasoned marine, another steady bolter. Another man who would remember and work to replace what they once had despite his long absence. But these thoughts were pushed to the side as his rage boiled over at the audacity of the heretics that now looted precious relics from the graves of his brethren. His left hand flexed, the crushing grip of his bionic arm causing the very metal it was made of to creak and strain. He watched as the vessels turned tail and ran in the face of The Heart, cowards to frightened to face the Astartes wrath, too eager to leave to care about their comrades left on the surface. Those left on the surface would taste retribution, Lord Sotha would make sure of it.
A presence to his left made Raxan look up and found, unsurprisingly that Brother-Sergeant Kain had joined him on the bridge. In the 15 years since Ferim, Raxan and Kain had become good friends, inseperable some said. His blood oath to the man aside, Raxan found that he quite liked the younger man. Though the promotion after the events of Ferim had caught him by surprise, Kain had grown into the position nicely. Assuming command of his squad with ease and confidence. He had a manner that inspired trust amongst those he lead. Stealing a glance at his friends face, Raxan found that Kain was even more unreadable than usual. The organic side of his face mimicing the metallic. Cold and emotionless despite the fact that Raxan knew Kain to being feeling much the same thing as he was.
"Brother Sergeant Kain," Lord Sotha's voice cut through the quiet like a thunderclap,"Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Razan, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki, will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes..... and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us." Sotha was calm on the surface, but Raxan could feel his ire. Felt it and shared it. He was unsurprised that he and Kain and the others had been chosen for this mission. A half a dozen times in the last 15 years Sotha had dedicated a scarce few marines to offship actions and it was always the same few. All of those times had been on recruiting missions, this time was to be different. This time they went to fight. It was as if Raxan's body flared to life at the prospect for it had been too long.
"Come old friend," He said to Kain," Let's see if you still remember how to fire a bolter?" he said with a smile. Despite his attempt at mirth his smile refused to touch is eyes, too clouded in sorrrow they were to feel the light of laughter.
"My skill with a bolter is undiminished brother," Kain said shooting a level look at Raxan with his human eye, "Though this time try and make sure I don't have to drag your unconcious form to the thunderhawk, you have put on weight since Sotha fell, it would be cumbersome." Raxan allowed a small chuckle to escape his lips. "That would be a problem in truth, we would need Raziel to guide you along to keep you from bumping into things. Your vision is not what it once was." Kain raised his hands in mock defeat, a small smile pulling his face into a rictus grin, as the two left the bridge and headed toward the launch bay.
The trek across the Heart to the Thunderhawk bay was made in relative silence, as lost in thoought as each of them were. As he stepped aboard the Thunderhawk, for the first time in over a decade fully outfitted for war, a sense of home came upon him. In these moments before battle, no matter how small and affair it may be, he felt as if things had not changed. That the memories of loss did not touch him here, his sense of purpose and belonging drowning out even the torrent of sorrow that seeing his home had brought upon him. He nodded to Solaki as the mighty dreadnought took his place on the lower deck of the chapters lone thunderhawk and made his way to the back of the craft, his seat next to Kain's as it had been for so many years. As he felt the engines rumble to life, the heavy vibrations of the deck and heard the peal of warning claxons in the deck beyond.
As the interior lights dimmed as the Thunderhawk left the battle barge, effortlessly gliding into space and down towards the lifeless planet. Raxan donned his helm, turning the world around him into a spectrum of black and red, his HUD feeding him information about the marines seated along side him. Raxan felt a fleeting moment of indignation as he gazed upon the three battle brothers that had tagged along on the ride despite not being given orders to do so. He understood that they wanted to set foot on their homeworld and wanted to teach the intruders a lesson, but to go against orders to do so? That was unacceptable. Should one of them fall, however unlikely, it would be a blow to the chapter that could have been avoided. They should not be here. Period. A look from Kain told him to leave it be, but Raxan could not, especially once young Hexor made such a show of himself. Feigning penance while simulataneously revelling in his excitement at being aboard the Thunderhawk.
"Damn straight you weren't assigned to this mission Hexor," Raxan said with a growl, "What makes you think that you can do whatever you want whenever you please? If I had my way you wouldn't set foot off the Thunderhawk."
The sight had been one he would never forget. Sotha, his home and his past was gone. Zeiran had always been devoted to his duty, and his duty had required him to stay in orbit. But to stay in orbit would be to force him to endure the sight even more. He remembered in those minutes the early days he had spent there as an astartes aspirant. He remembered his time as a scout and the pride he had felt upon being initiated.
Behind those memories were vague recollections of his childhood. Hazy images of his parents' faces, his friends left behind and his old home.
He was only partially aware of his actions on board The Heart, though in truth he would no more have tried to stop himself even if it had occurred to him that he was violating an order. The master of the chapter was sending a group of astartes down to the planet and Zeiran would be damned if he did not go with them. He armoured himself and prepped his weapons without a second thought, he marched himself to the docking bay without remorse and he boarded the thunderhawk without a word. Clearly he was not alone in his mindset, as Brothers Izrael and Hexor had followed his way of thinking.
Then again, those two acting this way was not a surprise. In his entire relatively short career as an astartes however, Zeiran had not often seen fit to disobey orders. This would be a first for him and in light of the circumstances, he hoped the master would see it as a forgiveable sin.
Hexor foolishly made a spectacle of his disobedience, drawing the ire of Brother Raxan. Zeiran looked back at Raxan with an impassive stare but said nothing.
I wonder how you'd have reacted if you were ordered to stay behind...
After trying vainly to think of what had caused him to do this, he realized it didn't matter. He was here now, and Zeiran would do what he could to ensure the squad's success.
'It doesn't matter Brother.' Zeiran said to Raxan at last. 'Not now.'
Like many of his other Brothers Spurius had been called to the Bridge, for what reason? Most likely to go support the ship under heavy fire from pirates and looters who most likely had forces on the ground trying to rob the Chapters honoured dead and their beloved people of their once valued treasures. Just the thought of such a foul deed made Spurius' blood boil with anger, however he was quick to dismiss the emotion to keep himself calm and cool, he was in the presence of two of his former squad mates and survivors who looked now at their homeworld with eyes full of pain and sorrow. A feeling Spurius knew all too well when he looked down at his homeworld. He wasn't even a veteran Marine of 100 yet and yet many now looked at him as if he were a 300 year old veteran Marine who'd been in thousands of battles. The feeling didn't sit to well with him however, not after all he had seen and was forced to witness along with the death of his people and battle-brothers. Just the thought enough made his usual smile vanish and be replaced by a sober and neutral one.
Turning his head slightly he looked down the hall towards the bridge and gently made his way to join the others. Once inside he looked around and could see a number of familiar faces, many were considered hero's in the Chapter already for their past deeds. The thought of fighting alongside them brought his smile back to his face which was hidden by his helm. After looking at his battle-brothers he quickly and quietly listened to their Chapter master who gave them their orders, and sure enough it was as he guessed, but it was more of a surprise knowing one of their Honoured Veteran's was aboard the rouge trader ship being attacked. It only made him want to purge the pirates and looters more, but like before he dismissed his emotions of hate and anger for the battle ahead. So without a second thought or hesitation he made his way to the hanger where he boarded the Thunderhawk along with the others.
He kept his mouth shut as he watched the fight in progress. He had to admit even he himself felt a bit of unease towards the two coming aboard and joining them on their mission. "Hmm... Seems like we're going to have more trouble for us to deal with other than just the Pirates and Looters if we have them." Spurius mumbled softly, his voice muffled by his scared helm. He wished to sit closer to the thunderhawks ramp so he could be first out but knew that honour went to the hero's, whom Spurius had known closely as everyone should after how many missions the group had undergone together; However he thought it best to keep in the shadows of the thunderhawk this time to say his prayers and make his peace with his fallen brothers on their homeworld.
About to give a heated retort to Brother Raxan, Brother Zeiran's words stayed his tongue. He merely frowned behind his helm at Raxan silently and waited, somewhat impatiently, for the Thunderhawk to set down on the planet. Brother Hexor had never before, and would never, think about striking down another loyal Astartes, but Raxan was quickly getting on his last nerve.
Kain moved quickly towards the Bridge of the Heart of Sotha. He had been summoned by Lord Sotha along with several of the few Scythes that remained. Kain was one of the few marines that Lord Sotha allowed to travel off ship, though he hadn't seen combat in years he had travelled alongside the apothecary as they recruited new candidates to start the slow and painful process of rebuilding the chapter. One thought that plagued the mind of Kain was that even though they had recruits they had no chaplains to watch over them.
The fact that they had no chaplains weighed on Kain heavily. He wished for atonement, for the guidance of a chaplain. However there were none to be found to watch over him and his brothers. He entered the bridge, spotting his friend Raxan at one corner of the room, standing near to the huge dreadnought that Kain once called brother Solaki. It was Kain's fault that he was interred in dreadnought armour and not standing amongst his brothers still, and Kain knew it. He moved quickly, saluting the dreadnought before moving next to Raxan.
Kain clapped his friend on the shoulder who was watching the battle in orbit ensure, the cowards of pillagers who sought the chapters icons fleeing at the sight of the mighty battle barge. Kain looked sorrowfully on his homeworld, so many brothers had been lost there, too many. It was a ghost of a world now, one scarred by the tyranids that had almost destroyed the chapter. Kain turned as Lord Sotha's voice cut through his thoughts.
"Brother Sergeant Kain, Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Raxan, Vermaas, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes...and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us."
"As my Lord commands it." Kain replied simply, feeling his ire rise at the thought about stepping foot on his homeworld once more. He was desperate to see it, as would be every single marine left on the Heart of Sotha, and the chance to put the invaders and pillagers to bolt and blade was a comforting one that Kain looked forward to almost as much as he looked forward to stepping on Sotha once more.
He turned back to Raxan who spoke quickly. "Come old friend," He said to Kain," Let's see if you still remember how to fire a bolter?"
Kain flashed a smile at him before returning the jibe quickly, "My skill with a bolter is undiminished brother," Kain said shooting a level look at Raxan with his human eye, "Though this time try and make sure I don't have to drag your unconcious form to the thunderhawk, you have put on weight since Sotha fell, it would be cumbersome."
Raxan let out a chuckle at his words, Kain and Raxan growing into close friends after he had saved his life on Sotha and the events on Ferim. He was one of the few brothers that Kain could interact with nowadays. "That would be a problem in truth, we would need Raziel to guide you along to keep you from bumping into things. Your vision is not what it once was."
Kain held up his hands in mock defeat, though what Raxan said was true. The fight with the Hive Tyrant on Ferim had ruined his face, now metal plates covered his face, and he was forced to see out of a biotic eye, having lost that as well to the tyrant. Kain after 15 years still hadn't gotten used to seeing a shade of red with his eye, nor the metal plates that covered his face. The weirdest part were his metallic teeth, his tongue hitting the metal and he knew he would never get used to the feeling.
He clapped his brother on the shoulder as the two left the bridge, heading to the last Thunderhawk that would ferry them down to meet their brother Cleomenes and kill those trespassers on the surface. Whilst Kain had not met the man Cleomenes himself Raxan had, and Kain knew of Cleomenes reputation himself. It would be a good thing to get another brother back into the chapters fold.
Kain took his seat near the rear of the thunderhawk, Raxan sitting next to him like he always did. The rest of the group filed in and took their seats before he felt the engines roar into life and they were off, hurtling towards the planet below. Kain kept his helm off for the journey, though he would don it before they went into battle as his eyes sweeped the interior of the thunderhawk. These were all astartes that he had served with before, he knew all of them well. He nodded at Niko when their eyes made contact before his thoughts were interrupted.
He had taken note of the three marines who had not been assigned to the mission but had come aboard anyway, and one of them spoke up asking for orders. Before he could answer Raxan snarled his response, Kain feeling the annoyance that the others had done what they had wished instead of what their Lord commanded of them.
Kain rose from his grav throne, taking hold of a drop handle in front of him before he spoke. "Peace Raxan. I have no orders for you brother, our Lords instructions were clear. Bring our brother Cleomenes back to the Heart of Sotha and kill all of those who dare desecrate our homeworld. Whilst you three have not been assigned to the mission we will make use of you but know this. When we get back aboard the Heart you will personally tell our Lord why you decided to ignore his commands and join us, and you will beg for his forgiveness. I do not see how you can atone properly for what you have done until we have a Chaplain in our fold once more."
He turned to regard all of his brothers, "Brothers let us purge those that desecrate the world that was once our own. For the Fallen!"
Sotha, dead, lifeless. It wasn't the first, and it wouldn't be the last. Yet somehow the sight was a shock, almost a physical blow. Planets lived and planets died, the Imperium was responsible for it's fair share of destruction, entire worlds lived and died at the word of the Inquisition. Not a Chapter world, not this world. It had been taken. Cruelly perhaps, but it was neccessary.
I looked around at the Brothers with which I shared the Thunderhawk, the interior was suddenly bathed in red light, a red tinge covering every surface inside the ancient machine. They were all helmeted and in the dim light were only visible by the contrasting colours of their armour picking them out in the shadows. We were going back, I hadn't visited Sopha for over a century, and now never would again. And they dared to desecrate it's sacred ground.
I thought back to the events on the bridge. Lord Sotha had been brief, assigning the squad, and Brother Solaki to travel down to the planet and rendezvous with Cleomenes. The trespassers would simply be another obstacle, and unlikely to be a difficult one at that. The mewling, pathetic mortals would die quickly before the wrath of the Emperor's finest.
I was dragged away before I could sink further into my fury by Kain's speech. He reprimanded the three 'stowaways', before turning to his squad. "Brothers let us purge those that desecrate the world that was once our own. For the Fallen!"
"For the Fallen."
I chorused in agreement, but it was half-hearted, I'd not been present at the fall of Sotha, and I'd never meshed particularly well with my remaining Brothers, particularly Kain. He was too young, too inexperienced to be a Sergeant, though I had to admit he had proved a good leader thus far, even if he had yet to prove himself to me. To my pride.
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