Blood and Iron
Blood and Iron
The thirteen chosen of the XIXth Grand Company entered the chamber one by one, in no particular order of rank. It was a plain room, dominated by a quadradecagonal table made of highly polished steel, tall enough to reach the waist of an astartes – bright lights shone down on it, casting the rest of the room in darkness. At the edge of this table, opposite the door, stood the Warsmith, watching them as they took their places around the table. They moved with well-practiced efficiency, smoothly sliding into the positions marked for their rank with the faint hiss of well-oiled armour servos, not a word uttered between them, waiting. The tension in the air was palpable as they watched one another, probing their fellows for weakness while the Warsmith’s eyes slid over each member present with cool appraisal. Though they ranged in shape and size, Pelegon towered over the proceedings, exceeding all of them in both height and bulk, despite being stooped over the table, both armoured hands resting on its surface. He enjoyed the fact that those junior in rank to him had to look up to him in every way.
“You know why you are gathered here” Pelegon began, his voice a heavy, mechanically-altered growl “and today, I bring you welcome news. Consider this campaign a gift.”
The Warsmith brought up his left forearm, into the vambrace of which was built a large, complex-looking cogitator array, and tapped a few keys. In the centre of the table appeared a miniaturised planet, though it was so clear and solid that it could have been a model suspended before them – with so clear a picture, and no visible projectors, the technology producing the hologram was a far cry from the simple flickering images that most Imperial commanders had at their disposal.
“Pelexis III is a simple agricultural world, the only one considered habitable in its system – Pelexis II and IV were mined dry of ores during the latter days of the Crusade. It has a population of seventeen million, deemed too awkwardly situated to draw a tithe for the Imperial Guard. A world like this would normally offer us nothing, but for the unusual garrison it has acquired”
Pelegon tapped another key on his cogitator, and a spot on the northern hemisphere began to glow red. The symbol that floated above it was one familiar to all of them, showing a wolf’s head over a diamond. The VIth legion, now reduced to a chapter; the Space Wolves.
“Some eighteen years ago this world was attacked by the Word Bearers, an offshoot from the seventh Black Crusade – the intelligence I acquired did not specify the leader of this invasion, or the reason behind it, but the incursion, minor as it was, was put down by the Space Wolves”
Pelegon looked around to ensure that his captains were following what had been a very simple speech so far. His eye lingered in particular on the Primus Medicae, Lugerev – he appeared to be lucid for the time being, but the man’s forays into madness were a cause of concern for Pelegon. If he did not manage to correct himself, Lugerev would have to be removed before too long. Of course, that would upset the brothers Coeus and Iapetus. The loss of a pure-blood, especially the one tasked with ensuring the propagation of their line, would not be received with any measure of good cheer. However, while the state of Lugerev’s mind did not interfere with the quality of his work, the problem could wait. His face and mind inscrutable, Pelegon returned to the task in hand and tapped another button on his cogitator; the hologram of the planet was replaced with a fortress.
It was a fairly simple structure, forgoing complex architecture and advanced defensive structures for rugged high-faced walls and heavily-armed gun batteries. It appeared square as viewed from above, with four corner bastions narrowing down to a central keep. There was one gate, on the most heavily-armed, south-facing, wall, large enough to accommodate the stature of a Reaver battle titan. Of course, it had never held so prestigious an artefact, and nor would it.
“I will upload what architectural plans and layouts I have of the bastion to your cogitators. It is named ‘The Wolf’s Claw’”
At this there was a quiet collective rumble from the gathered senior officers, felt through the tremor of the floor rather than heard – the Iron Warriors were not given to humour, but even they found the somewhat repetitive and predictable nomenclature of the Space Wolves amusing. Pelegon did not partake, but his upper lip was raised a little in the closest he muster to a smile.
“When they defended this world and destroyed the invaders, the master of the 9th Company, Thorgarr Redtooth, swore to the then governor that he would see it defended until the world was brought back to strength – or, as is their interpretation, its pre-invasion population of twenty-five million. So they have remained here, an idle garrison. Their love for mortals” a rare hint of derision entered Pelegon’s usually neutral voice “is what has left them vulnerable to us, and it is what we shall exploit to bring them down without so much as firing upon the walls of their fortress. The mortals think themselves invulnerable while they have their guard dogs – as is proven by their lack of even a token planetary defence force”
It was a well-known fact to all the assembled officers that their commander harboured a particular dislike for the Space Wolves, though none, except perhaps Tyranus, knew its origin.
“We will ensure that the Space Wolves will not speak of this battle, for I will see them so utterly humiliated that any boast that they could muster will die in their throats – doubtless you will be wondering how I acquired this information, and the specifics that apply to each of you in turn. To that end we will have another rendezvous on the bridge of the Ferra Perpetua. I expect your units to be fully mobilized and in orbit by then, except for” Pelegon pointed toward the 4th and 5th Captains “you and your men will remain to guard the Eisenschloss in our absence”
Pelegon straightened up and slid his Spartan-style helmet over his grim features, the muted glow of the red orbs that constituted its visual receptors washing over his captains one by one.
“For this, we stand to acquire no material gains, but our foe stands to lose everything – humility, pain and loss are the lessons we will teach them. Lucian, Iapetus, Lugerev, remain. The rest of you are dismissed. Iron Within”
“Iron Without” came the reply.
Two of the Tyranthikos, a unit of soldiers so elite that they are no less now than an extension of your body and will, fall into step beside you as you leave. Though their power fists are disabled and their combi-bolters hang from their thighs, you know that they could ready and throw themselves at an opponent in a fraction of the time that it would take most astartes, despite their heavy cataphractii plate. As paranoid as they are hardened, their heads twitch as they constantly take in and filter their surroundings for the slightest hint of a threat – in their presence you are safe, though you know that your strength and ability to lead must remain unquestionable to stop them turning on you.
The 1st Company has its own keep, a somewhat squat structure to the East of the Eisenschloss. Though the fortress was designed to accommodate the movements of armour-clad astartes, the corridors and rooms of the 1st Company’s quarters are especially enlarged in order to allow the easy movement of large numbers of soldiers clad in terminator armour. They will be expecting you to relay the news, knowing that the summoning of all the XIXth’s senior officers can only mean a campaign.
As master of the guns, the movement of units into orbit is the most arduous task for you, out of all the captains. In addition to the deadly firepower at your command, you must have available enough ammunition to keep those guns firing constantly for periods that can extend to weeks, months, and even years. It is no mean logistical feat, and one to which you are clearly uniquely suited.
The Iron Havocs, marksmen and heavy weapons specialists beyond compare, constitute a significant portion of your infantry presence, and are distinct from your other infantry specialists, the Destroyers, by their relatively unblemished appearance. Both are specialists, and competent in concocting, managing and executing complex fire and assault protocols, and answer to your command as well as a fine set of tools will to a master craftsman. They are strange within the IVth legion to the extent that they do not require great shows of strength in order to remain sated, satisfied much more by the intelligence and planning of a commander than his ability to keep insubordinates (of which there are few) in line. So far you have certainly proved adequate. However, you are aware that the Master of the Forge, Adriun, acquired a Fellglaive tank, a result of a trade arranged by the Warsmith. It is clear to you that, as the master of arms, you should be in possession of the ancient weapons platform. Whether it was given to Adriun as bait, an insult, a test of strength or merely because it is so temperamental and technically advanced a weapons system, you do not know.
Lucian, Iapetus, Lugerev
After the last man has filed out of the room, you find yourselves alone with the Warsmith, who taps away on his cogitator. You know that he is perfectly aware of the tension between Iapetus and the non-Olympian members of the XIXth, and his request to ask you to stay together seems completely deliberate.
“During the ground assault, this will be your target” the Warsmith manages at length, the image of an Astartes Strike Cruiser appearing on the hologram table. It appears no different from a standard model, its markings showing the relatively lightly armed craft to be of the Space Wolves chapter.
“The Fist of Russ. It is currently in orbit over Pelexis III. The crew is mostly human, with the bulk of the 9th planetside, but there is, to my knowledge, still a strong Space Wolf presence aboard – destroying it would be no hard task, but I want it captured. This is a task for a needle” Pelegon nodded toward Lucian “and not a hammer, Iapetus. How the two of you co-ordinate your resources is up to you, but I expect the crew to be killed and the ship under my command by the end of the siege. Any damage I see on that ship, once you present it to me, I will reflect upon the two of you”
The Warsmith turned his full attention to Lugerev, ignoring the other two as the hologram disappeared without a flicker. The downcast lighting served only to accentuate Pelegon’s size and the aura of power that radiated from him like a sick heat.
“You are to accompany them, Lugerev, for I know that a unit of Salamanders was struck down some time ago, and their gene-seed collected by the 9th. Why the XVIIIth have not seen fit to relieve their comrades of that most precious resource I could not answer – perhaps the Wolves are keeping it for themselves. You know that we do not use Space Wolf gene seed, but that of the Salamanders is acceptable enough – and an additional ten marines at our disposal is something not to be dismissed. I wish you to personally oversee the recovery and delivery of the gene-seed to the vault on the Ferra. After that you will join us on the planet to sort the prisoners we will have taken for prospective recruits. Now…”
Pelegon turned his head to take in the three that stood before him.
“Are there any questions?”
You know that it will be your duty during the course of the siege to ensure that all equipment is functioning to the best of its ability, as well as the recovery of usable materials from the fallen enemy. By far the youngest member of the senior officers, you know that the Warsmith has a respect for both your ability and ambition, and how quickly you rose through the ranks, and is cautious of you for the exact same reason.
Several servo skulls accompany you, each bringing news from different men under your command of matters requiring your attention – mostly shortages of particular machine parts, or suboptimal furnace temperatures. Though none are urgent, the manufacture and maintenance machine of the Iron Warriors being too well-made and managed to provide major incidents, they still chip away at your time, of which you have little to spare.
In the meantime, you must inspect a Fellglaive tank given to you by the Warsmith a mere handful of hours ago. You were informed that it was a gift from Barban Falk of the 235th Grand Company, though the fresh scorch marks and gouges in its armour indicate that its previous owner may not have handed it over so willingly.
The ancient weapons system, the volkite carronade, awes you – only a handful of such old and complex ordnance exists in the material universe, and this is a gift handed to you by the Warsmith in the expectation that you will be able to analyse and replicate it in due course. You also know that the 2nd Captain may well want this for himself, though whether you want to keep the ancient weapons system for yourself is up to you.
The meeting room leaves you feeling unsatisified. You pride yourself on your strength of will and the inability of other telepaths to read your mind, but it would be only natural for a psyker to be able to challenge the power of another. The Warsmith’s mind remains to you anathema, unable as you are to read it – every attempt that you have made has been rebuffed, and you do not know whether the Warsmith actively resists and is aware of your attempts, or the effect is passive – he never mentions it to you, or indicates awareness of your efforts. It is likely this that has helped him resist the taint and urge of Chaos for seven millennia, even in the face of social intercourse with your daemon primarch.
As Epistolary, you know that the mental purity of the XIXth is your responsibility. It sounds like the kind of religious, soulful rubbish espoused by the followers of the Emperor, and the motives that the two factions share behind their wish for purity are similar – there must be no possible division of loyalty. Each man must be utterly sublimated to his desire to wage war, but the reasons must not be incorrect; earning the favour of one of the Dark Gods falls into that category. Beyond that, whether it is personal vendetta, a raging bloodthirst or merely the job to which one finds oneself (somewhat unsurprisingly as an astartes) best suited, does not matter, as long as their willingness to fight, competence and loyalty to the XIXth are beyond question.
Today you have two marines, or to you two tiresome tasks to deal with. The first is one of your librarians, who was reported after tomes marked with the eight-pointed star, and more worryingly, eye of Tzeentch, were found in his possession. He argued that it was for the purposes of research and countering the power of the Changer of The Ways – the investigation and judgement fall into your hands.
The second is a battle-brother of the 2nd Company, who was cited for possible corruption by an apothecary after unusual abscesses were found on his left forearm, which refused to heal. He denies worshipping Nurgle, and is currently, as is the suspect librarian, detained and awaiting investigation and judgement.
Gentlemen, you have until the 28th to write what you get up to. After that, there will be an update, and things will move onward to glorious orbit. If you have any questions or requests, or if I haven’t written/clarified something vital, please message me.
Lucian the first to enter the briefing room and bowed to the Warsmith leaning on the table infront of him while technically being ranked third of Pelegon's captains, Lucian was generally the first to arrive in any meeting that was called purely to watch his fellow members of the company arrive and gauge their moods. Standing in his jet black armour and dark grey cloak and hood Lucian stuck out like a swore thumb amidst the sea of burnished iron and silver that the rest of the 'leaders' of the 19th Grand Company wore.
Standing still with his hands at his sides casually Lucian stood to one side of the room with the majority of his body facing the Warsmith but turned enough to the side to look at the others enter the room and take their places before listening to Warsmith Pelegon outline his plans for the next campaign and when he did he shifted his entire focus to the display and taking in every drop of information that the Warsmith deigned to tell them.
Lucian shook his head at the mention of the Space Wolves recalling the troubled relationship between the First and Sixth Legion but quickly crushed the thoughts of the past, as that is just what they were, memories of the past. Turning his gaze back to the holo-pic he listened and waited silently and when Pelegon concluded the briefing with Lucian himself and the rest of those gathered echoing the end of the Iron Warrior chant he then turned to leave the briefing room with the others and stopped when Pelegon called for him, the Captain of Seventh and the Primus Medicae to wait.
Pivoting on his heel he turned and made his way closer to the Warsmith and waited for the rest to leave before listening intently to the new information that Pelegon told them and to himself Lucian smiled lightly to himself when he heard Pelegon speak of the mission of taking the 'Fist of Russ' requiring a needle instead of a hammer which meant that Third Company would be required to do what it does best: operating away from the main battle field in acts of deception, sabotage and other less honourable acts though when he heard that the Captain of Seventh, the Shipwright: Iapetus he was less then happy and being asked to work along side someone who had about as much subtlety as a World Eater .
When the Warsmith asked the three of them for any questions Lucian step froward and finally spoke: "As always Warsmith, you honour me and Third Company with the tasks best suited to us. As you said removing the obstacle that is the 'Fist of Russ' from orbit and taking it will require a 'needle' I already have several plans in mind and with your blessing I will requisition what I need and be under way to put the plans in action two days hence. I ask firstly that: Captain Iapetus remain with the rest of the Company as he and his men would be of no use to me. Secondly I require a loyalist ship from around this very planet something that has yet to be refitting as to suit the legion, something that is fully operation yet still bears its loyalist colours and scars from its latest engagement. Finally, I would require a psyker of great power, I require the presence and use of, The Librarius's Primus, The Seer: Coeus. If I have permission to gather these then I shall submit a full outline of my plan to you before the day is out, My Lord."
He sighed as he shooed away the Servitor skulls, and wirelessly adjusted the Furnace temperatures to optimal levels. He continued to tread along to his Forge, where he eventually with a few button presses got a hovering platform to come out to him, using technologies he had managed to crack and replicate previously. He stepped up onto the platform and as it glided along towards the Forge and Factorum, meanwhile he did calculations on a data slate he held approving repairs and shipments as well as denying personal requests for gear that was not needed or could not be justified for how it would impact his time without sufficient compensation.
Adriun shook his head slightly, ”Don’t they know that I don’t do personal requests without a trade? How many times must I…” he paused as he saw the FellGlaive tank as the platform came to a stop, “Beautiful.” Was all he could muster as he hovered closer and let his gauntlet slide along the flat barrel of the ancient weapon.
He immediately ordered the tank to be hauled into the Factorum for disassembly, it was the quickest way to catalogue the parts and begin piecing together how to replicate the technology, which he had a very good idea how it worked as his personal side arm was a Serpenta and he intimately knew its workings and could make another with his eye’s closed. Massive machines drove out of the Factorum and attached hooks to the tank, and several Humans under his employ climbed into the machine and set about gearing it into neutral. He knew the Warsmith dis-tasted mortals, but it was key that Adriun worked with them, as he was linked with the Traitorous Mechanicum, and so these humans were minor acolytes from them, specifically ones that wished to distance themselves from the more corrupt parts of the Traitor Mechanicus, or wished to increase their station through his employ.
Slowly but surely it began to be dragged into the hungry facility, where machines where already being prepped to disassemble the tank, starting with the turret. The Factorum, and its adjoining building the Forge, were massive constructs, lined with automated defenses, and spires pumping out steam into the air. However the building was highly stylized to Adriun’s tastes, and it did not resemble the former Master of the Forge’s abode. What made it so different were the additions that where made, specifically Titan husks, from Adriun’s kills from other campaigns. None of the hulls were defaced, in-fact they still had pristine heraldry and only retained battle damage from their time of defeat, and so were trophies commemorating several astounding victories for the XIXth Grand Company.
The entrance to the Massive Factory was reconstructed through the Head of one of Adriun’s largest quarry, as was fitting, the tank was slowly pulled into the mouth of a Machine God. Adriun cracked a slight smile in his helm, something he wouldn't let any of his fellow captain’s see him do, but something in privacy of his workplace he would allow himself to have the luxury of revealing some modicum of emotion.
As He hovered into the massive complex, all around him the sounds of machines and mechanical progress, he watched the FellGlaive precede, its arrival arousing a joyous murmur among his Human workers and simply causing his Tech-Marines to turn their attention for a longer time than normal before returning to their current tasks. He levitated up to an over watch, like a Mechanical Throne overseeing the operation of the facility, it was surrounded by Holo-projections and data-screens showing the processes and status of the various machines. There were several sub stations near it, each manned by a Tech Marine and a retinue of Technological Savants and Tech-Priests. His platforms lowered and locked into the over hang and he immediately got to monitor the system through the surrounding screen, behind him two thrallax cohort guards.
Through the Vox sytems of the building he broadcast his commands, “Brothers, we have received a gift from the Warsmith, it shows how much he respects our work, we shall continue to exceed his expectations and show we are worthy of such a donation.” He paused as he directed the Servitors to begin assisting the Human workers.
“Now this weapon is to be disassembled and catalog according to my usual procedures, I need the main Emitter core delivered to me as soon as possible, Delta and Gamma Teams will be in charge of making a blue print of the generator and Capacitors, Alpha and Beta the Barrel’s Magnetic Focusing arrays similarly will be left to you, I expect this completed within the week, no Later. That is all.” He said as he stepped back from the overlooking station and screens before him, and dismissed the guards.
Adriun continued back along the overhang and into an Adjoining room that was his personal quarters, he walked in and looked at the wall, where their was a collection of Xeno Weapons he had studied and were gifted to him in exchange for his artisan weapon and armor-smithing services. The other tech had provided invaluable insight to improving current technology, some xenos tech providing insight into Imperial tech problems, the rest remained curiosities to look at. However something else drew his sight, and his heart, a small Silver token on a silver necklace, his Mother’s legacy and the only thing he had from his short past life. He let his armored finger trace the little silver object his eyes taking on a tinge of sadness, indiscernible behind his helmet, which he proceeded to remove and set upon a pedestal.
He walked over to his work table in his personal quarters and turned on several screens to continue monitoring the functions of the factory, he pulled up current information he had on Volkite Weaponry and everything he knew about building them, which he had done through intense study and replication of his side arm. He got to work on simulations of the functions and scaling it up as the Factorum disassembled the massive tank and began cataloging each and every part with machine efficiency, and they worked on getting the parts Adriun Requested for study.
Tyranus' footsteps were a heavy thud as he marched along with the two Tyranthikos escorts that were ever present at his side. Like extensions of his own thought they constantly observed every possible vector of potential attack, analyzing every potential threat that they encountered as they maneuvered through the corridors of the Eisenschloss. The two members of the Tyranthikos swept the room for any signs of hostility, even within the protected confines of the Eisenschloss their dedicated service was at its utmost, they were impressive warriors and Tyranus smiled proudly underneath his helm that he had honed such a fanatical fighting force behind him.
At the head of the trio Tyranus strode in and removed his helm, taking note of the presence already of Lucian the Captain of the Third. As their Lord made his entrance and gave greeting the two members of the Tyranthikos bowed their heads and spoke in unison as they did so "WarSmith," before finding places in the shadows behind Tyranus' seat at the table which was the first chair to the right of the WarSmith. Before acknowledging his Brother Captain he greeted the WarSmith, "Pelegon! What glory do we bring to the XIXth this day?" His booming voice was filled with excitement at the prospect of having a proper campaign again. Like much of the First he had grown rambunxious and eager to go on the offensive again. To the keen ears in the room, they would note that Tyranus referred to Pelegon often by his first name rather than his title of WarSmith, though out of a sign of familiarity and not of disrespect. Thought Pelegon as always stood taller than Tyranus himself, he was still the broader of the two now ancient warriors and he looked at his kindred warrior with the predatory grin that Pelegon had seen many times before, Tyranus was anxious to be on the hunt once again.
Lucian was one of his fellow Captains that he did not harbor any great mistrust in and as such greeted him with a cordial but sincere nod "Captain Lucian, how unexpected to see you here," referring to the fact that the Third Captain spent much of his time on missions of subversion and espionage, things that Tyranus understood the value of and appreciated more than many of their fellow Brother Captains. "The First has always had great success fighting alongside the Third, Captain Lucian." It was as complimentary as Tyranus got really, but he was quite sincere in his praise, the two companies had a history of successful campaigns, typically in taking out well protected targets, wherein the Third would infiltrate and kill those in command of the enemy while the First tore through their enemies' front line defenses in great swathes.
As the rest of the Captains and XIXth's leadership arrived the reason for their summons was finally revealed, at least partially. Pelegon spoke of the planet Pelexis III, and its rather mundane existence. However at the mention of a Company of Space Wolves Tyranus quickly perked up. He enjoyed humbling the braggadocious dogs of the False Emperor, however he did not particularly agree with the mission if they stood to make no material gains. That said he was a fond believer in sending clear messages to his enemies and allies alike, and this would likely send a clear statement to the Imperium, that their settlements in these regions were at the will of the XIXth Great Company, even if 'protected' by a company of Space Wolves. Tyranus took note of the The Wolf's Claw an unimaginative and standard template bastion that had been utilized on countless worlds beholden to the False Emperor. It was unique in its name alone and while it was fortified it would not stand up against the tidal wave of destruction that was his Tyranthikos, he assumed they would be the spearhead to lead the assault against the fortress as that was their specialty.
As the meeting concluded the retinue was dismissed save for Iapetus, Lucian and Lugerev were ordered to remain. What exactly those three alone were to be privy to was of interest to Tyranus, but he could not linger on the lack of complete information he was given. His task now was to muster the First Company to readiness. The Tyanthikos fell in behind him as he left the chamber, replacing his helm and again marching, this time at a quickened pace towards the keep to the East that harbored the First Company.
Flanked by his Tyranthikos escorts he was immediately met by his Lieutenant Xerath, "See to it that the Iron Tyrant is prepared to launch at my order," Tyranus spoke as he observed the various states of readiness that his men were in. They had been preparing for operations under his orders since he had received a summons. They would be ready well within time, but Tyranus held great expectations for his company. "Our Land Raiders are already prepared my Lord," Xareth answered before even being asked the question, to which Tyranus nodded approvingly "Well done Xareth. Assemble the command squad, Veka and Lukar are to take auto cannons, Grega and Dathos shall take their chainfists and all are to be equipped with cyclone launchers. The rest of our Brothers may equip their normal Tyrant loadouts," He referred to their Tyrant Siege loadouts, ideal for line breaking and shattering embattlements like the Wolf's Claw. "We shall be in orbit shortly, you have done admirably to have the men ready to this point, do not fail me so close to our return to glorious battle." His words were laced equally with complimentary and ominous tones, to which Xareth nodded thankfully at the praise and quickly went back to directing his Lord's orders as Tyranus walked away, his two honor guard in tow as the Keep erupted into cheers, the barking of orders and the continuation of the clanking and bustling of the First preparing for war as Xareth relayed the orders of the Captain Tyranus.
I would have words with Pelegon in private before we embark on this new campaign, He thought to himself as he made his way to the armory aboard the flagship of the First the Iron Tyrant. He proceeded to look over the Wolf's Claw in his HUD as he marched, his keen mind searching for the weakest point within the structure that he and his Tyranthikos would strike at before tearing apart those who stood as its guardians. As he arrived to the armory he saw that which he had been seeking, a single barrel direct fire frag launcher that was quickly affixed by a pair of servitors at his behest to the right shoulder of his Cataphractii plate. His honor guard stood ever to either side two paces behind, he spoke to them, knowing they were unlikely to respond "Tell me my Brothers, have you ever hunted a wolf?" To his amusement the less decorated of the two spoke up in response "No, but I have heard from you my Lord that they die just the same as any other Imperial Dog." Quite satisfied with the unexpected answer Tyranus nodded as he let himself laugh "Yes, yes they certainly do Brother Dayus."
Hmmph. . . Of course the Night Lord would be one of the first to arrive. . . So eager to please his master like any of the other fools in the Eye that would do anything to please the Dark Gods. He pranced around like a good little show dog before his master and only Lucian beating him none the less. It was as though the Captain of the Third came forth from the shadows and was one with them.
A rather mundane mission really. No spoils to be had save for the blood of those wolf loving spits. Their unimaginative adherence to names a child could conjur forth, their preference to look like savage barbarians. He opened and closed his fists with a grinding the ceramite together in anticipation. It was always a pleasure to bathe in the blood of the Emperor's Executioners.
There was however a situation that brought great fury to him and it took a degree of self-control to not openly bark in the meeting like some damned fool of a World Eater. Despite his position as master of arms, the Mechanized Fist of the XIXth company and the obliterator of worlds Pelegon had seen fit to distribute a machine of war not to him but to the Master of the Forge. The more he thought about the insult the more it infuriated him. What was the Warsmith trying to accomplish with this? Did he want to test the strength of the Second Captain? Did he want to wound his honour so some aspiring champion would seek to overthrow him? He repressed it for the time being so they could focus on the meeting.
While externally there was no great show inside Kunzhardt was both joyous and enraged. The opportunity to spill Wolf blood brought him a degree of satisfaction he would not deny. However the events to come did not please him. He would need to speak with the Warsmith, and most assuredly to the Tech Marine, and to put down any insurrectionist that might have aspirations a bit too lofty. He eyed every individual in the room illuminated by the dull glow of the the lumoglobes dotting the room and upon dismissal slammed the heavy powerfist into the open palm of his left hand in a traditional salute and wordlessly left the room with zeal.
Walking down the hallway Kunzhardt briefly entertained the idea of taking the Night Lord now, there was the slightest possibility that the two bodyguards would honor blood above all but he quickly extinguished the idea and pressed on. There would be no advantage gained from so foolish a task. He returned to his own lair to the large hangar like expanse that was essentially a colossal shooting range and combat simulator. Helmets on at all times and live ammunition used. They would train the way they fight. His subordinate ran up to him through the zone where two squads were engaging one another and saluted to him as a bolter round pinged off his pauldron.
The boiling silence ended in a thunderclap.
The voice carried over everything else in the room like a krak grenade detonation.
"Everything is proceeding efficiently Kunzhardt. Three wounded, no fatalities. What did the Warsmith desire?"". . .Pelegon wishes us to deal with a pack of wild dogs and the babes that they're safe guarding. . . No glory to be had but the opportunity to shed loyalist blood is always enticing. I wish to remind the Imperium of how foolhardy protecting weaklings is; let us bring tox weaponry to scorch the soil."
"Of course! Wolf blood is fine I shall make ready for our leave"
"Very good, I must have a word with our Master of the Forge."
With that he turned and left leaving his adjutant to run things in his stead. Vhalos was a loyal capable soldier without too much aspiration it was a good combination for him and he was efficient enough to manage to not garner Kunzhardt's wrath too often. No that was reserved for another this time as heavy boots summoned him to the Factorum.
He walked past two immobile sentries at the massive gate, Castellax Battle-Automata, some of the many relics that the relative youth of a Tech-Marine had access too, and in relative quantity. They let him pass as their virtual intelligences registered the Captain of the Second’s presence which meant Adriun would be very aware of his arrival.
Kunzhardt was met by the sight of an entourage of Tech Priests and Tech-Marines surrounding the husk of the FellGlaive, which was stripped down to the chassis. It was to note however the tank that came in, disheveled and battle wounded, was now pristine and repaired, and ready to be re-armed and equipped with its weapons. He also noted several turrets hanging on chains, without the gun or capacitors mounted, that were exact pristine replicas of the tank’s original turret, it seemed as soon as the Main weapon’s technology was cracked they would be able to mass produce the weapon.
He was noticed by the Tech-Marines and Tech-Priests that were overseeing the work of the Servitors, a few Tech Priests and a Tech-Marine came forward.
The Tech Priests bowed with utterances of “Mi’Lord.” And the Marine saluted in the Iron Warriors fashion and directed the Captain to the Elevator.
Soon he was at over watch near Adriun’s personal quarters. The Master of the Forge of course knew this and turned on his Vox.
“Brother Captain, come in, I have been expecting you.” He said amiably.
As Kunzhardt entered the abode, most likely with little concerned with its decorations, he saw Adriun standing near the Main Firing component of the Fell Glaive, or at least assumed so.
Adriun turned to him, while his Mechadendrites continued to work on the device unabated.
“Speak Brother, I assume this is not about your arm, as maintenance was not long ago, is there some service you need of me?” He full well knew why the Captain of the Second was here, but he wished to let his Brother-Captain vent first if necessary.
The grandiose nature of the Forge room always disgusted to some degree. The unnecessary eccentricities of a man that had been all but consumed by the machine. There could be a degree of respect held for the absolutely ancient technological marvels lying around but it was all a great show like a puppet master stringing along marionettes or a doll maker and his display of windup toy soldiers.
The cavernous room with the grinding noises of countless minor events occurring crested by a Fellglaive in countless smaller pieces as the center piece turned his stomach. A mighty weapon of war reduced to scrap!? No that couldn't be the case. He noted some of the pieces that seemed to be replicated and that it seemed like Adruin would seek to produce multiples of this tank which left him at somewhat of a disadvantage in the coming discussion. There would be no high ground for Kunzhardt and all he could do would be to save face and maintain his strength before all. This was a ploy after all! A perfect upstart to humiliate the second captain by removing him from the loop and then sending him into the Factorum where his honour could be mocked. Damn that Warsmith and his ties to the VIIIth legion! Deception and cowardice are their way and this was certainly a fitting way to remove the Second Captain indirectly so that one less objection towards the Tyranus could be mustered.
The tempest of paranoia swirled about within the ceramite helmet of Kunzhardt as the elevator slowly raised. He felt like he was being summoned by an ecclesiastic bastard fat with the coffers of his own office. The grinding of his fist raised to the point that it disturbed his thoughts and he remembered to what degree the Tech Marine had worked on his arm. It was of high quality and had laid many devastating blows to lay foes low and he could not discount the meticulous nature of the marine, but was it a service to him or to preserve the power fist / cybernetic arm so that it would be in pristine condition after he removed it from the second captain's corpse?
--"Brother Captain, come in, I have been expecting you."--
Heavy boots announced a presence with silence to accommodate it. He surveyed the room's trinkets again. He'd been in this room before and the sheer undisciplined nature of it struck him as ghastly. There seemed to be no discipline and it was in stark contrast to the borderline Spartan nature of his own domain it was hard to believe that the Primarch's seed sustained him and not some lesser Legion. . .
Cold eyes turned to Adruin directly now, studying the hive cluster of mechanical tentacles working and flicking about like a dance. He studied them trying to pattern how he might strike should it be required and how to try to time their counter strikes. One good swing with the power fist would be plenty. Even if the Tech-Marine couldn't see Kunzhardt through his helmet it was as though he could feel the daggers stared into him and turned to face the Captain of the Second and while it was well disguised a trained eye might notice it looked like the second captain had took an incredibly deep breath to try to calm himself before speaking.
---“Speak Brother, I assume this is not about your arm, as maintenance was not long ago, is there some service you need of me?”
"No brother. . . The arm performs as it was intended-thank you. The Warsmith has seen fit to gift you a mighty warmachine; it rightfully belongs to the Mechanized Fist. What are you doing with it?"
Adriun scratched his hair covered chin, "It rightfully belongs to the XIXth Brother, I think you know why it was gifted to me. My work guarantees that this single beast can be made into many more."
He took out his pistol and showed it to Kunzhardt,"Like this piece here," He turned and pressed a button on a data slate and the wall open up showing a dozen more identical pistols.
---"See, while I fully intend for the mechanized fist to make use of it, it makes much more sense to make sure it is more than one that can be made use of, I am sure you would rather be able to field ten than one, and the risk of losing this technology in battle is greater without this redundancy." He finished and the wall closed up.
---"Do not fret, I will grant you this boon in due time, as I would hope you would grant me something you thought would be better left in my care as well." He finished and proffered his hand, "Deal Brother?"
Within the helmet the captain of the second was scoffing at the young upstart of a Tech Marine who's life span he had doubled thus far. He had bore witness to countless worlds burning and titanic fleets in space coming to blows. His eyes had observed the Emperor, Perturabo, Horus himself! And this whelp!?
Kunzhardt seemingly growled before responding.
"You already have my debt, Adruin. . . I will be informed of receipt of any additional warmachines before taken into your care. Just ensure we have plenty of these. I itch for campaign and this incursion against wild dogs will not satiate for long.
That was about as close as Adruin would get to receiving true gratitude from the second captain. It was a show of weakness and Kunzhardt would never allow it but he appreciated the arm and the weaponry that Adruin supplied him. It was what allowed the Mechanized Fist to bring down the very sky upon those unlucky enough to fall within his cross-hairs.
With that the Second Captain retrieved the Forge Masters hand in his own massive power fist and shook, squeezing tight enough to shatter any mans hand into dust but for an Astartes it would likely just cause some discomfort. And with that he bowed his head slightly and marched from the room.
Adriun knew he had disarmed the Second Captain's mood like one would disarm a bomb, he had cut away at the preconceptions like so many vital wires, He respected his Brother Captain and knew his move was also a political one and would further cement a very necessary camaraderie between his Mechanicus Sect and Kunzhardt's armored divisions.
During the whole confrontation he noticed his actions had somewhat shocked the easily angered captain, and maybe he would fins some new found respect for Forge Master, at least he hoped, he only desired to serve the Company, and that meant they need to be secure in loyalties to one another, it saddened him that something as trivial as birthplace and gene-seed could cause such friction. But his brother finished, and accepted the hand shake, though very strong he remained stoic and nodded to his Brother who departed, hopefully a friendship of some-sort would bloom from the enlightening exchange.
He turned his full attention now to the large device before him, it’s functioning was no mystery to him, it was nearly identical to his side arm, aside from higher quality and larger components, he could already understand what would be necessary to replicate it. He continued his disassembling of the device and recorded in detail each of the parts and their function, soon his gift would be ready for manufacturing.
"Well now, it seems this is more alike to the Serpenta than I thought...Now then with this amount of output though the Magnetic fields would need to be five times standard strength to maintain the particle projection." He said to himself taking down notes.
He watched some monitors seeing the Captain of the Second had finally left, he wondered if he would be able to get him the Vehicles in time for a trial by fire. There was no room for doubt in his own abilities however and so he pushed the thought aside.
After a while he decided to contact the other teams to see if they had made desirable progress, they after all had the easier jobs than he had, he expected them to have a full catalog and already be in a testing phase to see about part production if they were to make his one week deadline.
He opened up the vox broadcast for the factorum, "Brothers and Mechanicus Comrades, I have made significant progress into the inner working of the Carronade's main firing components, and so I expect that the Teams have made even more progress than I”
“I expect a full report sent by Servo Skull within the next hour.” He finished and cut the signal.
After the broadcast the teams, Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma, began to converse among themselves as the servitors continued their work. There were two Directors that oversaw the combined teams, Loakk was the Tech-Marine in charge of Alpha and Beta, and Furthuum the Tech-Marine in charge of Delta and Gamma.
Loakk was a tall and imposing Tech-Marine with an impressive bulk brought on by his Genetor/Biologis practices; He was the Right hand of Adriun. His Marines and Tech-Priests, to lowly Tech thralls all showed signs of physical enhancement to the flesh, typically having extra grafted musculature and fiber strengthened bone structures and enhanced sensory organs. Loakk himself wore modified Maximus power armor, that fit his extra muscled bulk, and his face was pale as his blood had been replaced with a synthetic hyper efficient replacement, his pupils were slits that noticed every detail and saw in more than one wave length. He had Mechadendrites like any of his station, but his cybernetics seemed sleeker and focused on preserving his flesh instead of replacing it.
He spoke to his team and dictated to a servo skull with a recorder,” The operation proceeds accordingly, the Barrel has been disassembled, and cataloged then reassembled and tested, we are working on attempting to duplicate it small scale now and once this is successful we may begin constructing templates for the factorum which will take a bulk of the time. That is all Master Adriun, Iron within, Iron without.” The rest of the team resounded the chant as well, and then returned to their task and ordering about the servitors.
In another part of the factorum, Brother Furthuum, the opposite to the other Operations Director in every way, Furthuum forgoes most flesh for Iron instead, being highly cybernetically enhanced, he is interred permanently in a massive modified Gorgon Pattern Terminator armor. He had many Mechadendrites, all oriented for manipulation and tool usage, and his Shoulders were capable of each mounting a heavy weapon of his choice as well as each arm having bracing to mount a heavy weapon as well, making him quite the weapons platform in combat, using dual power fists on those fortunate enough to not die at a distance, and on top of that he could mount a Cyclone Missile launcher as well.
He towered over his compatriots they as well deeming flesh weak in their appearance, His face armored and a single eye replaced by a large complex optical unit for precise aiming and precision work. The flesh left on his face tanned from work with welding, and being near plasma cutters with frequency, and his single eye red and judging.
He spouted binary at those with translators, and they responded in kind, this Man-that-was-machine was Adriun’s Loyal left hand. He then spoke for the others and to please Adriun who preferred High Gothic to machine language, though fluent in both.
“Delta and Gamma have successfully mapped the capacitors and main generators, they are similar to those used by the Shadow Sword, with some differences in function and capacity, we are ready to begin production phase, and it would only take slight modification to current templates to accurately reproduce the product.” He spoke in his machine tinted tone.
One of the Tech Priests released a Servo skull that was attached to its body with the message recorded, it hover back to their master. With that they returned to work.
Adriun listened to both recordings and smiled pleased with his work and that of his team, he sent the Servo Skulls back and then proceeded to record his own message for Pelegon.
“Warsmith, Master Pelegon, I have cracked the FellGlaive's inner working with the assistance of my teams, We are working on bringing it into a Production phase so that it may be of use to the company, we will defer out product to Brother Captain Kunzhardt for his expertise and usage, I hope this pleases you.” He said to the recorder.
He paused, “Thank you as well for entrusting this task to me, I will not disappoint, and my final question in this matter is if I will need to manufacture tech thralls for this engagement, if not deemed necessary then I will coordinate with my armored and mechanized units to deploy as a strike force in the upcoming operation, I am positive with the Armored Fist and my Mechanicus units, our siege will be swift. Iron Within.” He finished and sent the Servo Skull to the Warsmith.
He went back to his work area and reassembled the Firing unit, and had a Crane come in through the ceiling, which opened up and then snatched the device away. Adriun the grabbed his Sheathed blade and attached it to his belt, then holstered his Serpenta as well, and left the room to go about to getting the factorum prepped for production, the longest part of the work for him.
Perius Lay on the surgery table before him, a thin stream of blood flowing from his neck that wasn’t sealing up. That meant, it was deep. The Warrior was one of Kunzhardt’s, one of the Second Company. During one of their endless, perilous training regiments Perius had taken a bolt fragment to the side of his neck and was rushed to Lugerev’s care.
Pelegon always preached about numbers, and for good reason. It was an issue for nearly all of the remaining Traitor Legions. A failed rebellion, and several millenia of guerilla warfare had taken its toll on all their numbers. To lose an Astartes in a training accident was...deplorable.
Perius was not dead yet, though. Lugerev had put him to sleep so he could more easily search for the embedded fragment.
‘Kunzhardt might want to start making his mens’ training a bit more purposeful than this.’ Said Lugerev to one of the two Apothecaries assigned to 7th Company, who stood to the side of the room. His name was Tirgivil, and he was here to learn, today.
Both of the medical officers wore their unarmored garb, iron-gray, hoods down draped over their wide, strong shoulders.
Lugerev didn’t much feel like guessing as to how many patients he had received from Kunzhardt’s Company in any standard Terran cycle due to being in the Warp, but needless to say, it was a lot.
He stuck a syringe into Brother Perius’s neck. A solution to soften the flesh so he could cut it open easier. A second syringe, poked. This one at the edge of the wound; a solution to help the Larraman’s cells clog the bleeding.
There was a spread of small holes in the upper chest and collar bone area of Perius’s power armor. Something was wrong. Lugerev’s hands searched over the area, unable to manipulate the armor.
‘There’s another wound here, a second penetration they didn’t notice. One of these pockmarks goes all the way through.’
Tirgivil did not say anything in return. He knew it was not necessary.
Lugerev Looked into Perius’s numb, unconscious eyes. He grabbed the adamantium tipped saw off of the table next to him. He placed it carefully at the top edge of the armor’s collar bone and activated the tool suddenly realizing there might not be time to properly remove the armor. The jarring, screeching of metal on metal ensued. The gray earth around him constantly trembled. It shook beneath his feet. The noise was tremendous. For days, the noise had been tremendous.
His saw continued to bite into the iron hued war plate as lifeless suits of power armor dangled off the sides of corpse-mountains and fell, nudged off from the intense vibrations, dropping like worthless bugs. It looked as if these piles of dead had been dumped out from buckets. Yellow, black, iron, chevrons, and black mailed fists had never been so mixed together. Missiles screamed over top of him, and Lidecrus screamed into his face with all the spittle Lugerev could have ever asked for.
‘Where is it?’ yelled Lugerev at the top of his lungs, he had wrent the chest plate open, but could not tell where the bolt fragment had gone. Lidecrus’s whole chest was soaked in blood.
Lugerev’s hands waded through the blood over the hole. It was so large. It must have been the entire bolt round’s tip, shattered as it hit the reinforced ribcage.
‘Everywhere,’ whispered Lugerev, ‘Its everywhere.’
His fingers dug through the flesh, expertly plucking out piece after piece. Lidecrus grabbed hold of his wrist, pulling it down as he screamed in agony, calling out to Lugerev that he was dying.
‘Hold on my brother.’
Lidecrus’s eyes were stuck, locked on the piles of dead bodies surrounding them.
‘Just one more.’ the dying Marine practically whimpered.
Torrents of enormous caliber rounds from a fortified gun emplacement, ground an incoming squad of Imperial Fists into red dust and bits of armor plating. Apparently they had sighted him, and had made a for a run, hoping to kill the Apothecary.
Lidecrus’s life was fading in his hands, fast. Those hands were frantic now. He couldn't start trying to repair the flesh with pieces of burning metal still lodged inside.
He screamed back at the patient in frustration. He grabbed Lidecrus’s head in his blood covered hands, smearing the Marine’s ears red.
‘Stop dying! Stop losing blood! I can’t take it anymore, you bastard!’
He activated the saw on his narthecium, and plunged it into Lidecrus’s ribcage. If his brother had already been screaming in agony before, Lugerev had no idea what to call it now.
‘Where are you, you damn piece of Emperor-blessed metal. Where, are, you-’
‘Sir.’ A hand was on his shoulder. It was Tirgivil.
Lugerev looked down at Perius, and stopped his rotating saw blade. The Second Company warrior lay on the surgery table, dead, his ribcage cut open with organs bubbling out.
Lugerev felt sweat on his face. His twin hearts were beating with adrenaline. He stood up straight, collecting himself.
‘The wound was too deep. I will have to inform Captain Kunzhardt to decrease the pernicious nature of his training exercises.’
Tirgivil could see it in his master’s eyes, that he was utterly confused. After a moment of silence, Lugerev picked up the heavy, armored body. Tirgivil moved to help, taking one side.
‘Please clean the table, Tirgivil. Pelegon has summoned a council. I am already late due to Perius being brought to me.'
Several minutes later, Lugerev had just transitioned from the Medicae Halls to the main tower of the Eisenschloss. He walked rather slowly, discovering he was not as late as he had thought.
‘Tik-tok. Tik...tok. Tik-tok tik...tok. Always, always. Always. Tik-tok, tik, tok, tik-tok. Slower...Tik, tok, tik, tok’ he was saying to himself, as he rounded a corner and found the verdigris-eyed twins, Iapetus and Coues, deep in conversation in one of the open spaced, adjacent chambers to the corridor.
He looked at them for a moment, and decided not to interrupt, passing them by. He knew they would be following him soon enough. Truth be told, not long after, all three of them stood at their places around the fourteen sided, polished steel table. While the Warsmith spoke, Lugerev stared down into his hazy reflection. He watched as it moved, side to side. Though his eyes were lost to this oddity, his ears were open, absorbing the details. A few times though, his eyes wandered up to the stern, emotionless face of the Second Captain, who's eyes never veered from their Leader.
Space Wolves. Maybe he’d get to kill a few. That wasn’t going to be his primary objective though, naturally.
The mission sounded simple enough. An easy target. Some sugary prey to vent their Warp crazed appetites. All but two and himself were dismissed. Massive, armored bodies slid past his robed form. Now at the lonely side of the table, he looked up towards Pelegon as he continued with further information regarding a Strike Cruiser. The Fist of Russ, he mused, sounds like a ship that will be around for a while. Being that it’s named after one of Russ’s hands, I bet, that’s where it will stay.
Ah, he thought, as he finally heard his objective. There it is. And he shuddered at it. Lizard geneseed? Disgusting. Red eyed, burnt, radioactive freaks.
“Are there any questions?’ Asked Pelegon.
A short pause, in which Lugerev looked to the Seventh Captain, now separate from his psyker brother. He liked Iapetus. He had given him a means off of Terra. Lugerev had been assisting the Sixth Company, The Company his roots were in, which had nearly perished on the Throne world. With all hope for escape thought lost, Iapetus descended through the smoke and smog, with a lowered ramp, and an open palm.
Suddenly the other figure in the room spoke up, rather loud. Clad in black, this individual stepped around the table a bit in order to come closer to the Warsmith. He dismissed Iapetus’s role with hardly a thought, and laid out his requests for some kind of plan.
Baffled, perplexed, puzzled. Lugerev’s eyes and brow were in the shape of dire concern. Disgust, even.
He raised his arms out wide, looking back and forth between Pelegon and Iapetus as if to ask: Am I the only one seeing this?
When neither of the two seemed to know how to respond, Lugerev voiced the question instead.
‘Who is that?’ He paused looking at the individual further, squinting his eyes now, jaw dropped.
‘Is that...is that seriously one of the Lion’s pristine little maggots?
Lugerev drew his blade from beneath his robes.
Iapetus was inspecting the Wandering King, twelve-kilometres of iron, cannons and battlements, of sprawling city-scapes and cavernous hangers, when news of Pelegon's summoning reached him. He nodded, appreciatively, to the thrall who had brought the news, and immediately set off to the primary hanger. His Stormbird was already awaiting, glinting in the lights, engines idling. Iapetus was aboard, and approaching Medrengard, in a matter of minutes. He stood, in darkness, contemplating. This meant one thing - War.
The transport banked down, through poisonous clouds, and flew over Medrengard's barren, rocky plains. It flew low, kicking up storms of dust and grit, gaining speed, faster and faster, until the fortress of the XIXth loomed ahead, a twisted, gnarled finger.
The Stormbird landed, engines settling down with a whine. Iapetus awaited in the hatchway, still as a statue, as the ramp lowered. There, framed in coils of mist and smoke, was the Seer. He wore robes, grey and roughspun, the Inquisitorial Rosette dangling from his neck on a beaded chain. He carried his axe and the Iron Grimoire, the Librarian's tome, hung heavily from his hip.
'Brother,' Iapetus said, descending the ramp. 'It is good to see you.'
'Brother,' Coeus called back, embracing Iapetus. In his Terminator Armour, the Shipwright dwarfed his twin. 'It is good to see you too. How fairs the Seventh?'
Iapetus stepped back, clasping Coeus' hands between his gauntlets. One thought, one muscle-twitch, and he could crush the bones to dust. 'They are well,' He said, smiling. 'A well-oiled cog,' His voice dropped. 'In a rusted machine,' He looked around, surveying the hanger. Mostly empty; save for a dozen Stormbirds and Thunderhawks and their attendants. 'And your witches?'
Iapetus and Coeus began to walk, towards Pelegon's war-room. The fortress was quiet, unusually so.
'My Librarians serve me well, mostly,' Coeus said, as they turned down a long, quiet hallway. 'They brought one to me, a man called Bronsk, to be tried. Interesting, they also brought me Rorke from the Second.'
'Bronsk?' Iapetus said, raising an eyebrow. He knew the Marine - A veteran of the Crusade, of good, albeit low-born, Olympian stock. 'I know him. One of us,' Coeus knew what that meant. 'This other - Rorke? - One of Kunzhardt's lot,' Iapetus shook his head. 'He matters not.'
+His sin is minor enough. Possessing contraband from what I could hot read. I’m sure he’ll be fine.+ Coeus transmitted, directly into Iapetus's head. To some, this was a grievous invasion of privacy, bringing nosebleeds and migraines. To Iapetus, this was simply the norm.
'Kunzhardt's is certainly problematic. Some sort of infection. Perhaps I will have to investigate them closer,' The Seer continued, manipulating Iapetus's mind. There was a perverse pleasure to Coeus, like a serpent regarding a rodent, as he spoke of Rorke.
'Are there others? Among the Second?' Iapetus asked, his voice growing cold. He smiled hungrily. 'Of course there are others. A formal investigation will have to be launched, will it not, brother?'
It was not a question. 'And Kunzhardt? How could he have missed such a terrible thing - He should be charged with incompetence at best.'
'Well, we can hardly expect a half-born to do much better than stammering impotence. You remember how Gneous fell?' Coeus laughed, a harsh, biting sound. 'It’s always the half-born.'
'They are unworthy at best. Worse, still, is that bastard Night Lord,' Iapetus grunted. The Tyranthikos were his, now. Iapetus remembered Krotas, and fondly at that. The Night Lord had ruled longer, twisting the Tyranthikos into his own butchers, much to the chagrin of Iapetus, Coeus and the Olympian faction. 'Where has our glory, our pride, gone?'
He raised a hand, clenching it into a fist. 'They stain us, this mongrel-breed. Blood, so pure, so glittering, has blackened and congealed. But we serve, brother, and faithfully. More faithful than the Night Lord, or the bastard-born, ever could.'
'Tyranus,' Coeus spat, his saliva eating away at the floor. 'Peace, brother,' He said, stepping into a dim, narrow hallway. +We will purge them from our proud Legion,+ He continued, with his mind's-voice. 'Let us not focus on what has been, but on what is to come,'
Iapetus nodded, listening. +Their reckoning will come and we will cast them down and grind them to dust under the hammer of Olympia+ The Seer continued, and Iapetus could feel his mind throb. Even he, so accustomed to the witchery of his brother, felt the touch of the warp. 'These half-breeds will have their day,' and then, another switch, into his mind. +And their end is neigh. We will see to that my brother,+
'And we will be mighty, loyal and pure iron once more,' There was a brief pause, as Lugerev, the Chief Apothecary, marched past. Iapetus looked at him from downcast eyes. They were friends, Iapetus having saved the Apothecary and his forces at Terra, and shared similar opinions. The Iron Warriors were Olympian, and always would be. Coeus caught it, too, and quickly spoke. 'Do you know how Lugerev fares these recent days? I heard one of your Apothecaries was at his side, but I’ve not been able to check on our troubled friend.'
Iapetus sighed. 'Tirgivil, yes,' The Shipmaster said, watching Lugerev enter Pelegon's war-chambers. 'He reports to me, on times. He is Lugerev's pet, that I know, but he is a true Iron Warrior,' He pursed his lips. 'He fears for Lugerev, as do I. Has Lugerev grown worse, Coeus, or has he always been so mad?'
He stepped towards the war-chamber. 'If we watch his back, he shall watch ours. Lugerev is an Olympian, a friend, Coeus. We need him and his Apothecaries, so does the Grand Company. So long as Tirgivil warns me, I will look after him. I only ask the same of you, brother.'
'I have not grown so old yet that I struggle to distinguish friend from foe, Iapetus,' Coeus said, angrily. Iapetus stepped back, raising his hands, and grinned. 'I just wondered if Tirgivil had seen any marked change lately. As I said, I have been otherwise engaged,' The doors loomed ahead, now. Inside, Iapetus could make out figures, armoured in iron, standing stock-still. 'Rest assured, I will watch over him as surely as I watch over you.'
Coeus entered first, taking a place around the quadradecagonal table, a position for every senior officer. Iapetus stepped besides him, between the Seer and the Mad Apothecary. Pelegon dwarfed them all, a monstrosity of flesh, blood and metal. Iapetus stared at him, as he spoke, with a tight mouth. Something isn't right, he thought, as the briefing continued. This world, the presence of the Wolves, felt strange.
Stranger still, as when Lugerev, Lucian and Iapetus were told to remain behind. Pelegon's motley brotherhood filed out, Iapetus grasping his brother's hand, and then turned his attentions back to the Warsmith. More information flowed forth, concerning a lone cruiser, the Fist of Russ.
'Are there any questions?' Pelegon asked, in that deep, rumbling voice of his.
Lucian, the Dark Angel, quickly wrote off Iapetus. The Shipwright narrowed his eyes, green, poisonous slits, and curled his lips.
'Who is that?' Lugerev sneered. Iapetus snorted, biting back a laugh, and shrugged - No easy task in Terminator Armour.
When he drew his blade, the Shipwright was forced into action.
'Lugerev, brother,' He said, raising a hand. He pushed down the weapon with his fingertips. 'Lucian wears the garb of Caliban,' And, so he did, in his black plate and stained robes. He looks like a robber-knight, Iapetus reflected. 'But his hearts are iron,' That was a bitter lie. It almost burnt his tongue to utter it.
'How many ships have you taken, Captain?' He asked, turning his attentions to the Dark Angel. 'A dozen, two? I have taken hundreds. I have built ships, I have repaired ships, I have destroyed ships. And I, and my Company, will be of no use?'
He snorted again.
'Wolves do not hunt alone,' He said, to Pelegon. 'I suspect a trap, Warsmith,' He paused, thinking. 'I'll draw the vessel away, with the Wandering King and Lonesome Queen, and disable her. Whatever damage is dealt, and damage will be dealt, I will personally oversee the reconstruction and recommissioning.'
He waved a hand, dismissively, in Lucian's direction. 'If the Angel is so hungry for glory, if he strains at the leashes so needlessly, he may have the honour of boarding, and capturing the ship. I ask only one thing - He defers to my authority. The right tool needs to be applied, here. And I'm afraid,' He mocked. 'A needle can only prick.'
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