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post #81 of 137 (permalink) Old 08-27-12, 10:42 PM
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Kain was thankful to see Ryan and Zurick there, but knew that they would not agree with the course of action that he had taken. No marine left in the chapter would agree with him. He cared not know, Lord Sotha would take appropriate action that much was for sure. He stayed close to Raxan as they moved to the thunderhawk, glad that they had made it before his brother had run out of air.

He looked over his squad, standing as the thunderhawk took off. He took his seat near to the exit of the thunderhawk as the moved back to the heart, taking his helm off of his head. He spoke to his squad as they all sat in silence, deep in their own thoughts. "You all preformed well down on Sotha. Even though some of you weren't assigned to this mission you all proved that you were crucial for the success of the mission."

He stayed silent for the rest of the journey and as they moved through the corridors of the heart deep in his own thoughts. He had shown little leadership on the planet, he needed to talk to his Lord about that. Had he failed as a leader of Godlike astartes. Did he deserve a second chance? He would find out soon enough.

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post #82 of 137 (permalink) Old 08-28-12, 07:56 PM
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Stone was falling, great chunks of the ceiling and walls, tumbling in a destructive waterfall of masonry and they were moving again, running for Raxan's life through the corridors of the fortress monastery, turns taken by fleeting memories of structures that had crumbled into unrecognizable ruins, disfigured and marred like the banner in his hand.

He clutched it tight even as he ran, the banner unwavering in his hand, a pillar of strength, the reasons he had done what he did at constant war with the atrocities he had committed, the blackened heart of the astartes he had become.

Feet clattered on a floor of a structure almost untouched, a relic seemingly kept in statis from the time before... a time of glory, a time when the scythe's of the Emperor had cut majestically across the stars. A time before shame, before the crippling failure.

He envied the dead, envied that they would sit in honor at the Emperor's side, undefiled by the events that had happened on this world. Others lingered at crypts and coffins, reading names and remembering brothers lost. He mourned no one, remembered no one, they were all blessed to be encased within, far better in there than out here.

He was the last to enter and the first to leave taking his place wordlessly as they filed out on to a scene of bloody murder. Two brothers moved with devastating speed, the 4 hands seemingly united as they twisted and turned, heads crushed to pulp by giants fists, skulls cracking, shards of bone lodged in ceiling and floor.

Raxan was stumbling, half held up by Brother Zeiran yet as he looked upon the pair, he knew everything was going to be alright... it had to be... it just had too
__________________________________________________ _______
They strode down the ramp of the thunderhawk Izrael still clutching the banner limply in one hand. He turned looking for Brother Solaki yet the form of the dreadnaught was already wandering away.

He had wanted to hand the banner to the dreadnaught, a symbol of the future clutching a symbol of the past was an imagine even the most skeptical could enjoy, could be lifted by. Nothing had changed, about the chapter on that piss-weak excuse for a symbol He had laid his ghosts to rest, done what was necessary and now he was empty, nothing to fight for, left only with the blackness of his own soul, the crippling horror of what was left around him.

He had always seen there situation as crippled and dying, the weakened strength of the suffocating as the life was drawn out of them second by second. He looked at the Brothers striding by, those that knelt, that praised and blessed him for his deeds.

There was strength here... he looked own it his hands at the blood that stained them at the sheer power he possessed in his fingers... he was still here. After all he had been through... after all he had done and tried to do.... he was still standing

The situation may be shit... may be hateful, may stain him for decades, centuries, millenia, yet he was still here, still strong, still learning... still fighting. He had never thought the banner would be recovered, had believed he would go to his grave with that stain upon his heart and his honor, yet it was gone.

He had cleansed what he believed was permanent... could this dishonor be cleansed?

For the first time as he stood before the doors to the chapter master's quarters... he believed.

kudos to lillian thorne for the awesome sig

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post #83 of 137 (permalink) Old 08-29-12, 06:51 AM Thread Starter
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Long upate: If you dont have the time for some reason, or really just cant get yourself to read that much please scroll to the very bottom of the update for more in pink.

Everyone but Solaki:

You all hear a click from brother Ryan's vox unit activating. Exactly three seconds later, the adamantium doors split open, wrenching the golden chapter symbol upon them in half.

The figure directly on the other side is definitely not your Lord and chapter master. Instead stands Chief Apothecary Alexander; a broad shouldered marine, stern jawed with deep blue eyes and short black hair standing on end. None of you get the chance to catch much more detail than that. White robes splash through your ranks as he moves straight toward Zieran with face wrought with concern.

A bright red symbol of the Prime Helix reveals itself upon the backside of his robes. He stares at the left side of Zeiran's power armor, scorched as it is, and asks of any damage, astonished when the answer is a negative.

Vermaas is the first to spot the chapter master in the background, and moves in first, everyone else strolling in after him.

"I will be checking that for myself at the conclusion of this discussion." says Alexander to Zerian with a matter-of-fact emphasis, as he moves into the room again with the rest of you.

Walking into Lord Sotha's chambers is as if you are walking off the ship into space itself. The room is shaped like a snow-globe, and the only surfaces of it that are not ultra-reinforced glass are the door panels now behind you and a metal cylinder at the center of the globe's ceiling, which spirals outward to cover the room during warp-travel. Even the floor is see through, allowing you to float over another section of the massive ship below you. Beneath he black marble throne in the center of the room is another mechanism, that you know to release metal shielding over the floor, also for time spent in warp travel.

For now though, the shields are up, and you all walk into space with stars shining bright all around, above, and below. Taking up nearly the entire lower right hand side of the room is Sotha, the dead brown colored planet you strode upon just 20 minutes or so ago. Several flickers outside the globe-like room are testament to the ship's reinforced shielding around it. Other vital locations on the ship have the same surplus of protection. The rear near the engines, and the bridge for example.

All but Cleomenes are aware of the near fatal wound that a Tyranid Ravener landed upon the chapter master on the world of Ferim some fifteen years ago, and so too do they know of Alexander's extensive amount of time monitoring his health since. Alexander can always be found in one of two places aboard The Heart, doing one of two things: by his Lord's side monitoring his health or in the apothecarium studying the tyranid gene strand collected from the peculiar group of bugs that hit Ferim. Leaving brother Niko, the only other apothecary the chapter has, to be responsible for nearly all the rest of their duties.

In an extremely ornate case, or holding cell rather, directly behind and above the throne, lays the official symbol of office for the Scythes of the Emperor Chapter Master: the uniquely designed power-scythe...in case Cleomenes was doubtful of his position.

Lord Sotha stands with his hands behind his back, bare chested, staring intently towards his dead home-world. A massive scar, despite Astartes physiology, stubbornly remains as a risen pathway of scar-tissue from his left collar bone to the lower right of his rib cage. Around his lower half he wears a black and gold hakama of sorts.

Vermaas, still in front, kneels down causing his ceramite knee cap to make a dull clang against the solid glass. "Lord Sotha, I-" he began, but was stopped immediately by a raised hand.

Still staring at the world below, he speaks, "No longer shall that be my title."

At this point he turns toward you, and just before he reverts to his original name, Cleomenes recognizes him.

"Thrasius. That is how I am to be addressed once again. " After another moment of silence he takes in a deep breath and turns, walks straight to the knelt form of Vermaas. He places his rock solid hands on the sides of Vermaas's shoulder pauldrons motioning for him to rise, saying, "Vermaas please, my brother. I am too fond of you to have you kneel when speaking to me."

His voice booms, thrashing out against the reverberating invisible walls, pointing his hand at those whose names he barks, "Zeiran! Hexor! Izrael! Kneel!"

Hexor does immediately, perhaps you two hesitate, perhaps not, but ultimately kneel all the same. Izrael's banner-pole making a similar noise as Vermaas's knee when it hits the floor.

"Cleomenes," whom he turns toward next, "I am very glad to see you again, and still as prompt as ever!" he says this with a forced smile that fades quickly. His face says it all for you; He doesnt actually know a thing about you aside from your history in the chapter, nor you him, but he also misses Thorcrya, and regrets the loss. You realize then, that it must be clear on your face what you're thinking as well. "Once we sort this mess out, we can speak."

Thrasius, previous captain of the glorious Third Company, then has the group form a line, and has each marine in the room, one by one, tell him what happened on the surface starting with sergeant Kain, naturally.

It takes some time of course, but by the end of it, he knows every detail aside from exact dialogue.

Thrasius remains standing just as all of you, rather than having sat in his throne while listening to everyone. He takes a moment to let it all settle in, and gives himself some time to choose his words.

"Obviously, not only amongst you lot but among the rest of your brothers that were still aboard The Heart as well, it has been a question as to why I chose to only send a handful of you to the surface of our dead homeworld... I trust the reasoning is now clear."

"Think about everything you just told me. Look at what walking upon that grave did to your minds. Can you imagine if I had sent every marine left under my command down to that Hell? And yet now I have been forced to send ten more of you to retrieve the materials we need from the surface. Now they go to the same fate. This as well, the larger the number the more careless a force tends to get, not to mention more targets for the enemy. If I had sent twenty of you, the chances of that melta blast actually killing someone would have been doubled. Furthemore, if something had been on the surface that could have killed all of you, or the scavangers had some how been brilliant I may have lost all of you, but not my entire force."

He sighs, "Brother Izrael. It is admirable for you to complete such a long lost mission, and it warms my heart to see that banner once more. I should have expected some of you to disobey me this time, but understand this," he now says to all three stowaways, "If any of you three disobey me like that again I will behead you myself. We may only have half a company left, but that is precisely why I would kill you. Losing one of you is unfathomably significant, but losing more than that because one is choosing to act foolishly is worth the price of that single marine's life. Raxan, one of my most veteran survivors almost lost his life. Zeiran who shouldn't have even been there, almost lost his."

"Every command I make is made for a reason. Though I speak of sending a small number of marines, I could have sent less. I am quite confident that Ryan and Zurick could have done the mission with just the two of them. The point there? They dont need the practice. Unlike those two, however, I would wish that several of you eventually become the chapter's new sternguard. Unfortunately that possibility now seems much further from reach than I had hoped. I chose each of you to go to the surface for very specific reasons. If we do not have complete faith in one another my brothers, We will never see this chapter return to its former glory."

"Here are my resolutions: Izrael, Zeiran, and Hexor your punishment will come, but not today. I absolve Vermaas of any sin he or the rest of you may think that he committed. I find his actions to be in the right. And lastly, Kain will continue to hold the rank of sergeant. If I place any of you under his command in the future know that his law is my law and it is not to be questioned. Oh, and Zieran, Laikus is not to repair your armor until I say otherwise."

"I hope to have some good news in the near future regarding the progress of finally getting our potential recruits into the chapter's ranks. Until then we wait here, and make sure these scavengers are gone for good while sergeant Hagard's squad extracts as many supplies from the surface as they can. Hexor and Spurius, help is needed in the hangar. Laikus has Solaki to tend to. Zeiran, go with Izrael to the cathedral to place the Banner of Justice. (Can start your posts in the cathedral area or on the way, whatever you feel like really.) Raxan, Vermaas, and Raziel... Go to Veteran Sergeant Tobias. He continues to train the potential recruits. After having to revisit our past, I would like you to now visit our hopeful future. Chapter robes please, leave your power armor in the armory for Laikus to inspect when he is able, particularly yours Raxan. (Go to the armory first then make way to the recruit training area, which you will reach next update.) Finally, Kain and Cleomenes I wish to speak with you further."

He then dismisses everyone. They all go their separate ways, Ryan and Zurick included. Alexander stays however. Thrasius saying once the doors shut and seal, "Any questions you two wish to ask, I will now do my best to answer." This is aimed more so at Cleomenes. (Giving you some room here Ramo, figure you still need some time to get things settled a bit more but you can still post of course if you feel like taking your mind of things or something)


You find yourself cooped up in Laikus's laboratory. He has removed your arms for repair and improvement, though he keeps telling you little things about an entirely new set up anyway, one that he greatly looks forward to. He says he waits for all of the supplies he needs from the surface. You have been here for a few days now and have learned than The Heart is still in Sotha's system as Lord Sotha, who has now informed everyone he has returned to his original name, Thrasius, waits for some kind of confirmation from who knows what. But, it has something to do with hopefully finally finding a way to induct the new recruits into the actual ranks of the Scythes. You have also learned that another squad, Sergeant Hagard's, was sent to the surface to get the supplies that your squad should have gotten. Now more brothers have to tread on what became on odd form of Hell for most of your squad. hopefully they dont also get into fights or lose their focus.

Only Two have been here besides Laikus these last few days. One of them was Thrasius. He discussed similar things with you as he did the rest of the squad, but seemed to just be notifying you of what he told them, rather than actually telling you as well. In other words, from what the other told Thrasius, the chapter master didnt seem to find anything faulty with your actions. Perhaps it was harder for him to understand the mental pain you also went through because of the dreadnought form. Perhaps your squad brothers hadn't even noticed. He did say one thing different to you though. Just before turning to leave Laikus to his work, "It was not just the opportunity and necessity that got you entombed my brother. I allowed it because I also felt that you deserved the honor."

The second to visit was brother Niko. Though his visit was much longer, he was also much more silent. Barely said anything in fact, merely watched and looked. Though hard, perhaps, to get such a feeling anymore, it seemed to you that Niko still showed some animosity toward Laikus. Maybe you understand why, maybe not.

Any questions you may have for Laikus, feel free to ask. Also, if you could see just one of the brothers that you went down to Sotha with, who would it be?

Go to the teal colored sentence in the middle of the update. Everyone has entered the chapter master's chambers. Chief apothecary Alexander is also there. Lord Sotha reveals himself as Thrasius. Everyone tells him what happened. Start reading from the teal line down.

You can never be prepared for the unexpected

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post #84 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-03-12, 07:15 AM
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Zeiran allowed his mind to wander but slightly aboard the thunderhawk as it made its way back to the Heart of Sotha and docked. The clicking of Ryan's vox snapped the marine back to attention and moments later the metal doors of the flying behemoth opened. The squad descended the ramp to be greeted by a figure unexpected but welcome. Apothecary Alexander, his face a mask of concern and seriousness, all but pushed the squad members aside to approach Zeiran directly.

'Is there any damage to you Brother?' He asked Zeiran.

'Negative Brother Alexander.' Zeiran answered. 'I am intact, the damage appears confined to the armour itself. Mere backwash, mostly superficial.'

Alexander seemed unconvinced. 'I will be checking that for myself at the conclusion of this discussion.'

'As you wish.' Zeiran agreed with a slight bow. He excused himself from the apothecary's attention to follow the rest of the squad who had begun to approach the form of the Chapter Master. They retreated to the Chapter Master's chambers, Alexander following them inside a few moments later.

Almost immediately Cleomenes seemed to recognize Lord Sotha as Thrasius even before the Chapter Master had given his name. The pleasantries were interrupted by the marine's next booming words. 'Zeiran! Hexor! Izrael! Kneel!'

Damn. Zeiran knew better than to hope this wasn't coming, and also knew better than to displease his lord at a moment like this. He dropped to his knee immediately, two resounding clangs nearby letting him know that Hexor and Izrael had done the same. Sparing a few words for Cleomenes before turning his attention back to the three stowaways, it was clear that he was not in a pleasant mindset.

He demanded a recount from each of the astartes present, and after everyone had said their piece, he settled down a little and took a breath before continuing. 'Obviously, not only amongst you lot but among the rest of your brothers that were still aboard The Heart as well, it has been a question as to why I chose to only send a handful of you to the surface of our dead homeworld... I trust the reasoning is now clear.'

Zeiran grudgingly agreed, but not to the extent that he could find it in himself to regret his actions. He had no doubt within himself that he would have followed the same course of action even knowing that punishment would come.

'Think about everything you just told me.' Thrasius continued. 'Look at what walking upon that grave did to your minds. Can you imagine if I had sent every marine left under my command down to that Hell? And yet now I have been forced to send ten more of you to retrieve the materials we need from the surface. Now they go to the same fate. This as well, the larger the number the more careless a force tends to get, not to mention more targets for the enemy. If I had sent twenty of you, the chances of that melta blast actually killing someone would have been doubled. Furthemore, if something had been on the surface that could have killed all of you, or the scavangers had some how been brilliant I may have lost all of you, but not my entire force.'

Zeiran began to dwell on the events as The Chapter Master continued on. His name was mentioned somewhere among Thrasius' words, but the kneeling marine was only dimly aware of what was being said. There were things he should have done differently. Things he would have. But Zeiran was not a sergeant. And likely wouldn't be for some time after this debacle.

'Here are my resolutions...' Zeiran snapped back to focus as Thrasius made his decisions. 'Izrael, Zeiran, and Hexor your punishment will come, but not today. I absolve Vermaas of any sin he or the rest of you may think that he committed. I find his actions to be in the right. And lastly, Kain will continue to hold the rank of sergeant. If I place any of you under his command in the future know that his law is my law and it is not to be questioned. Zeiran was about to bow in acknowledgement before his lord turned to him. 'Oh, and Zieran, Laikus is not to repair your armor until I say otherwise.'

Zeiran completed his bow, wondering how he was going to explain this to the techmarine should the two encounter each other in the meantime. Thrasius continued speaking after this, giving Zeiran the order to accompany Izrael to place the Banner of Justice back upon its pedestal in the cathedral. Zeiran responded with gusto, glad to finally be away from his lord's scrutinizing eye.

* * *

Zeiran could only guess at what would be going through Izrael's mind right now, but even so he did not feel inclined to. Izrael was awaiting a punishment just as Zeiran himself was, but at least had the satisfaction of having completed a personal objective on the planet's surface.

The sound of power servos and the straining of Zeiran's left leg joints accompanied them as they closed the distance to the cathedral. Just before they entered, Zeiran found himself muttering perhaps involuntarily; 'I wouldn't have done anything differently...'

Nonsense is our Salvation

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post #85 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-06-12, 09:35 PM
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The gilded doors swung outwards languidly, the effigy bifurcated by a shaft of dim, star-illuminated light. Cleomenes straightened instinctively; mouth forming a grim, determined smile, gauntleted fingers sliding down to his bolt-pistol. A white-robed figure stood in the entranceway, broad-shouldered, dark-haired, his blue eyes sparking with inner lambency. Cleomenes recognised the Marine instantaneously - One of the Chapter’s most skilled warrior-physicians - An Astartes that Cleomenes both respected and lauded.

‘Alexander,’ He half-whispered, licking his empurpled lips. The Prime Helix, the Apothecarion’s symbolic heraldry, stood out blood-red on his back as he spun. Battle-Brother Vermaas entered first, pushing past Alexander, who enquired Zeiran upon the state of his armour.

Cleomenes marched inwards. The Chapter Master’s chambers were an horrible place, by Cleomenes’ standards. It was formed entirely of reinforced glass, completely transparent, displaying the distant, star-speckled void for all. Squad Scrious’ boots clattered across the floor, which, coincidentally, was also made of glass. Far beneath, like a metal carpet, the Heart of Sotha shot away.

The Polemarch groaned, focusing on the Chapter Master. Thorcrya was not standing there, his flaxen hair shining, golden-orange eyes bright with intelligence and charisma.

‘Lord Thrasius,’ Cleomenes said, momentarily stunned. The Brother-Captain was bare-chested, a lurid scar decorating his pale, cold flesh. He turned, greeting Cleomenes warmly - Though the two had never been friends - Associates, perhaps. Cleomenes and his Scout Auxilia had served alongside Thrasius’ Third on several inhospitable worlds. And moons. And hulks. And..

One-by-one, the Squad begun to inform Thrasius of what had occurred on Sotha. Cleomenes’ portrayed himself in somewhat biased light, vilifying Sergeant Scrious - Displaying the Squad in less-than-favourable light. It was a mundane task, Cleomenes voice decidedly deadpan. Thrasius paused for a moment after the last Space Marine had finished, before casually dismissing them.

When the other Marines had gone, leaving Apothecary Alexander, the Brother-Captain, Cleomenes and Sergeant Scrious alone, the elderly Marine turned his blue eyes upon Thrasius. ‘What happened?’

‘I am sure you remember the alien plague that entered the Galactic South-East, plunging into the realm of Ultramar? They were called the Tyranids.’ Thrasius spoke, now.

Cleomenes arched an eyebrow, empurpled lips peeling apart. ‘Vaguely. Tybarr Nymeros had an Ultramarine amongst his entourage. He shared with me what information he could acquire - Though, ruefully, that was scarce at best.’

‘Well, you will come to learn much about them soon. With the defeat of Hive Fleet Behemoth, as it was called, the Imperium believed that to be the entirety of the species. But, this was anything from accurate.’ Thrasius continued, Cleomenes listening intently. ‘In 992.M41 a second Hive Fleet swam into the galaxy, this time from the Galactic East. This Fleet was smarter, by tenfold. It planted seeds of corruption in major hive cities causing mutations and alien cults preparing major worlds along the eastern fringe for easy capture before the fleet even entered into play.’

‘Unlike Behemoth, this Fleet, called Hive Fleet Kraken, used a two pronged method of attack, splitting its enemy's forces and their focus. The Tau worlds were hit first but they failed to stop it. After that, it kept going, and eventually one of its major fleet paths came across our beloved Homeworld,’ He gestured downwards at Sotha with a wave of his hand. ‘All ten Companies were present, some coming in later for the defense than others, but all ultimately took part. Even with nearly the entire Chapter present on Sotha, we couldn’t halt the Tyranid advance.’

‘They bested us, brother, these Xeno monstrosities. They pulled biological resources to constantly regenerate their dead from all the worlds they had consumed before reaching ours. Their number was infinite, their fear as non existent as our own but without any sense of honor.’

Cleomenes ground his teeth together, fingers becoming fists. ‘You failed.’

With an nod that perhaps would have been surprising for any Astartes to see come after such a declaration, Thrasius responded with a simple - 'We did. The Scythes of the Emperor lost Sotha to the Tyranids. With less than a third of the chapter still alive It was on Thorcrya's order that we withdrew from this theatre. We made for the death-world of Miral, where we were to make our final stand against Hive Fleet.’

‘Evidently, brother, it was not so absolute. You still draw breath.’ Cleomenes sibilant tone made it sound like an accusation, rather than a statement of fact.

'To my own surprise, scout-master, It wasn't. Kraken made its way to Miral soon enough. We had taken to the Giant's Coffin; a steep highly defensible cliff faced mountain. The Heart remained on the opposite side of Miral from Kraken's advance. Its smaller vanguard class ships came first and we were able to easily defend against the Tyranid forces for some time. But inevitably came the bulk of the Hive Fleet. Before the Tyranids made their final push up the Giant's Coffin to finish us, Thorcrya made his judgment.’

‘Despite our protests, he commanded that every Scythe of the Emperor still alive who was not a part of the First Company to get back aboard the Heart, and flee for our Chapter's survival.’

‘You ran.’

'We had to, brother. I'm sure you knew Thorcrya as well as I... I could not disobey him. As I said, we protested, but there was something in Thorcrya’s eyes, in his voice, his posture when he reaffirmed his command... And he had never steered us wrong before. He named me Chapter Master and thus put me in command of the Heart and its survivors,’ Thrasius waved at the power-scythe, the symbolic badge of authority. ‘There was just under a Company's worth of us still alive. And that feeling, that one you feel now with your lips curled and eyes sharp... Everyone one of us felt the same. We fled Miral, but we did not flee the war.’

‘I sailed this ship across the Eastern Fringe, doing everything possible to try and sate our need for vengeance. The Hive Fleet had broken into countless splinter fleets by then. Its forces spread thin. We, the Scythes of the Emperor went from world, to world, to world. Any that was in the path of one of these splinter fleets that we could. We would bolster the defences there and recruit its best youths after the fight to rekindle our numbers. Some of your brothers aboard this ship were taken from these worlds along the Easter Fringe, rather than Sotha.’

‘This went on for years. Ultimately by this time the Hive Fleet had been defeated, but remnants of its forces remained scattered across the Fringe. Multiple forces were at work cleaning them up. With each battle we lost a few more Marines. So our number stayed the same, for each time we gained a battle-brother, another was soon lost. But we kept on going. We wanted to kill the Tyranids until either every single one of them was dead, or every one of us was. Though with yet another Hive Fleet entering the galactic south, called Leviathan, and several smaller fleets elsewhere... We realized the extent of the improbability of us killing all of them. Leviathan came in 997.M41, and was defeated early on in the new millennium, and ironically it was Orks that saved the Imperium from Leviathan reaching Terra... As much as I despise that truth.’

‘These Tyranids bled the Chapter dry. Vengeance, Thrasius, is not always sweet. Survival alone is the best revenge that you can offer the Xeno. Against indomitable odds, you lived. I commend you for that, if nothing else.’ Cleomenes intoned, giving the Chapter Master a half-smile. ‘Continue, please.’

'I thank you for that. Truly.' He paused, for a moment, before continuing. 'In our battles we became something else when battling Tyranids. When we fought by the side of other Chapters, there was always tale and talk of no other Chapter with the ability to slay Tyranids like us. Many proclaim us to be even better at it than the Ultramarines. For some reason I find this honor to be quite sour. Our pace only changed when we came to a small world named Tri'vaa by the Tau Empire.’

‘There was a Black Templar fleet there, and more remains of Kraken. Evidently, the Templars didn’t feel like leaving the clean up of the Tyranids to the incapable Tau. Rather than stay out of the Templars way, the foolish aliens of course intervened. We had been watching the events unfold from afar and moved in when things were quite obviously going awry. Something odd was going on with this particular Tyranid force. We stepped in to handle them so that the Templars could focus their efforts on killing the Tau there instead.’ Thrasius paused again, as though searching for the right words. ‘It was massively bloody for everyone.’

‘In short, there was fallen Norn Queen, a creature that basically controls the force's hive-mind, and she was protected by her minions hidden away in Tri'vaa’s extensive caverns beneath one of its mountain ranges. Before this Norn Queen was killed, it gave birth to a Hive Tyrant, this is the main form of a Tyranid warlord, or a general of sorts. Normally they only act as major hive-mind buffer, but the Queen some how transferred complete hive-mind control to this beast. It had a mind and will of its own. The Templars took heavy losses form both the Tyranids and the Tau and the fleet's Marshal declared Exterminatus. We got off the surface as soon as possible.’

‘..And so did the Hive Tyrant. We followed it to a world named Ferim. It was relatively new world set for hive-city construction, rich in an extensive list of mineral. The Hive Tyrant proved time and time again to be something we had never seen before. We had never even thought possible for a single Tyranid to possess such ability. Its psychic levels were outstanding, its strength incredible, and its intelligence... Something we had never encountered from the species before. We lost many brothers on Ferim. It took far longer than we had hoped but we accomplished our goal. We killed this Hive Tyrant.’

‘Unfortunately it took far longer than we had hoped, and took the support of the world's shorthanded Guard and PDF forces to finally bring it down. But we killed the beast, and ended its foul reign upon the Eastern Fringe. This victory, was one that finally gave us some real satisfaction in our goal to commit vengeance on the Tyranids. We finally felt we could let our hatred seep into the background for a time, while we rebuilt the Chapter.’

‘But unfortunately,’ His mouth instantly became dry, ‘Unfortunately this victory was darkened by something even worse. The Tyranids are not the only thing that took life from us on Ferim, brother.’

The sorrowful glitter in Thrasius’ eyes gave it away.

‘A traitor,’ Cleomenes rumbled, his voice a deep, hate-dripping growl. ‘One, or more, of the Scythes of the Emperor had fallen to the Eight-Fold Path. Whom, Brother-Captain?’

Thrasius nearly trembled, ‘Is it that clear upon my face that one of our brothers betrayed us? By the Emperor… It was one of my own men, a long time veteran and a solid warrior of the Third. His name was Astelan. There was a Daemonic presence on Ferim, one that was there before the Imperium had reached it, and Astelan’s mind was only just awaking to its inner potential. He had been a latent Psyker, and the daemonic entity on Ferim took hold of it and corrupted him. There was a band of Mortifactors on Ferim with us, a veteran squad led by a Librarian to help us fight the Hive Tyrant, Astelan fully revealed himself as a traitor in their presence. The Librarian saw it immediately, and tried to cleanse Astelan. But it was then that he showed the true extent of his betrayal to the Emperor and his Chapter.’

Cleomenes pursed his lip thoughtfully. ‘Gaius Astelan. I remember him, if by reputation alone. I was tutored under Brother-Teacher Othello - As was your Marine. Unlike I, Astelan scorned Othello’s teachings. He was a cruel Astartes, calculating, efficient, arrogant, even craven. He was weak-willed, certainly. But a Psyker? That is astonishing.’

‘Indeed. I saw it in him, and early on in the theatre of war that became Ferim, Astelan was fighting heavily with his Squad members. Before I could coax his mind in a different direction is when I received this,' He pointed to the gruesome scar upon his chest and midsection, ‘And was removed from the fight. I was unconscious for a time, but the miraculous efforts of our younger Apothecary kept me alive.’

‘I did not know of Astelan's betrayal until we had left Ferim. My mind has been plagued by his betrayal ever since. I was unable to detect it, even with so few Marines left under my command, but of course the greatest problem is the fact that no one else in the galaxy can ever know. The Mortifactors knew, and they helped our brothers kill Astelan. His gene-seed was destroyed. The Mortifactors returned to their Homeworld, which we later found out met the same fate as Sotha at the hands of Hive Fleet Leviathan. I assume the are all dead. But, Astelan's betrayal showed me just how much some of the minds left among us have slipped from the Codex since losing our Homeworld.’

‘Our chapter is severely lacking in resources. We have two Apothecaries, one Tech-Marine, no Chaplains. I am Chapter Master, Master of the Fleet and all other head positions. We have four Sergeants, one of them a Veteran-Sergeant. We have Solaki the Dreadnought. The rest.... Tactical battle brothers.’

Cleomenes circled around Thrasius, eyes dancing over the Chapter Master. He towered over Thrasius, in his ornately-decorated power armour. The act alone reeked of threat. ‘You and I served together at Antioch, you know? No, no. You wouldn’t recall, I and my Initiates were deployed under somewhat dubious circumstances,’ He flashed a grin. ‘You are a capable commander, brother. Thorcrya saw it. I see it.’

He moved away, advancing on the throne, or rather, the power-scythe that hung above it. His hands reached out, fingers dancing across the haft, before retracting - As though stung. ‘My apologies, Chapter Master. May I?’

‘I am afraid not, Cleomenes. I have yet to even use it in battle, for it is the most tangible remainder of Thorcrya's legacy and final command to his Chapter.’

Cleomenes’ raucous laughter echoed throughout the glass chamber. ‘Of course. I forget myself, at times. I have been absent from my brethren for far too long. I have several requests of you, Lord Thrasius, if you will?’

‘Please.’ Thrasius spoke simply.

‘Firstly, I would like a roster of all current serving battle-brothers - Including attached psychological and physical reports, combat records and Squad organizations.’ He glanced at Apothecary Alexander, giving a smile beneath his salt-and-pepper beard. ‘If Alexander can arrange that, I will be most thankful.’

‘That will be arranged, yes,’ Said Thrasius, bidding Alexander a nod. The Marine returned it. ‘Which reminds me. There is now only one Company, the Battle Company. Squads are not concrete by any means. My aim has been to make each remaining individual of the Chapter as versatile as possible and members are placed with another at my whim. What else do you request, Cleomenes?’

‘Very well, thank you. Secondly. A manifest of current supplies - Ammunition rates, along with a compilation of what arsenal we still have, including functioning vehicles and armour.’

‘As well, this will be done. Go on.’

Cleomenes nodded once. ‘Thirdly, I have acquired a somewhat extensive list of materials, weapons and antiques whilst traveling with Tybarr Nymeros. I would like to have them - You needn’t commit any of your forces, merely allow Nymeros to organize their transferal aboard the Heart.’

‘Lastly,’ Cleomenes said, this time a triumphant smile flittering on his face. ‘You mentioned recruits. I would like to inspect them, and if possible, oversee their future instruction.’ He paused, pursed his lips, before continuing onwards. ‘However I would like to petition that you have Brothers Raxan, Ryan and Zurik assigned to my training cadre.’

He glanced at Sergeant Scrious. ‘The lack of a Librarian amongst the Chapter has not gone unnoticed. If we are to mend the Chapter, I will need confident, reliable Space Marines to induct the youths. Brother Raxan is a must and from what I’ve witnessed of brother Ryan and Zurik, they are perfect for the role..’

Thrasius sat upon his throne, now, fingers dancing over his mouth and chin. ‘With the taint that showed itself in Astelan, we have no means to pass any of our recruits to the status of scouts. I am currently waiting on a reply from some old allies to help resolve that issue. No one can know about Astelan, Cleomenes. It essential to our existence that it be kept silent. I have not kept the Scythes alive from the Tyranids just be extinguished for treachery by the Inquisition.’ His eyes trailed to the floor. ‘Veteran-Sergeant Tobias has been training them so far. I must speak with him first. Raxan is never an issue, but as for Ryan and Zurik... I honestly don't think that’s a good idea.’

‘Hm.’ Cleomenes purred, narrowing his eyes. ‘Why not?’

‘Regrettably, of them I have the least control. There is quite a history with their former Squad.... They are expert killers without a doubt, but they do it in their own way. I am not sure that one, they would be interested in helping to train those boys, and two, I am not sure I would like their methods if they did so.’

‘Orphans are often the wildest of children, Thrasius. They are reckless, rebellious, hateful. Allow me to speak with Ryan and Zurik. I will find the cause of their seditiousness and I will excise it.’ Cleomenes spoke, this time leaning in closer to the Chapter Master, adding more emphasis upon the desperation in his voice.

‘You are certainly welcome to speak with them and try as you will. I certainly won't stop you, brother. Again though, I will have to get back to you about training the recruits. Surely you have much to think on now, There are plenty of unoccupied personal quarters on the ship if you wish to be undisturbed. So, will there be anything else before you leave?’

‘Yes, a word of caution, if you will.’ His empurpled lips peeled back in a smirk, directed towards Sergeant Scrious. ‘The Scythes of the Emperor have been to where constellations set, where the last of the ocean waves die. You have stared into the abyss. You survived. Do not let impetuousness and the desire for vengeance cloud your view. Do not let us fade away, Thrasius.’

‘Duly noted. Its good to have you back with us Cleomenes.’ The Chapter Master said, waving Cleomenes away.

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

"No one ever spoke about of those two absent brothers. Their separate tragedies had seemed like aberrations. Had they, in fact, been warnings that no one had heeded?"

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'
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post #86 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-07-12, 12:28 AM
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Kain stood still as they entered the Chapter Masters great chambers, nodding in greeting as he past Alexander. Kain held his helm in one arm as he saluted to his Lord and Chapter Master. Thrasius, though it was odd that he told them all to call him by his original name, and not that of the Lord Sotha title he had given himself.

He stood, not sat on his throne, and the badge of his office, the great scythe stood a little ways away from him. He calmly told Vermaas to stand as he knelt, obviously due to the fact that he pulled a gun on one of his brothers. Thrasius asked each of them to give their account of what happened down on Sotha. As sergeant Kain went first, telling his Lord how he had failed him, how whilst gaining Cleomenes, he had put the lives of his brothers at risk.

After he heard it all, Lord Thrasius gave his resolution. Vermaas would have no punishment for his acts, something that surprised Kain somewhat. One thing that surprised him more was the fact that he would stay as a Sergeant and keep his command, though he wasn't surprised that the three that had disobeyed would be punished later.

As his squad filed out, he stayed, Cleomenes as well and the great apothecary Alexander. Kain stood still, allowing Cleomenes the time to demand and ask his way through everything that had befallen the chapter, as well as all of his demands. Kain stiffened a little as Astelans name was mentioned, though Cleomenes couldn't see that as he was intent on Thrasius. Kain had supported his brother, thinking that he was not heretical but it was maddening what the others had suggested about him. He had been wrong. So wrong. Kain cared not for what Cleomenes wanted, he cared not how he was viewed in the chapter. All Kain cared about was how he had failed his brothers, his Lord. He would atone one way or another.

After Cleomenes was done, asking for Ryan, Zurick and Raxan's assitance, something that did not surprise Kain, nor bother him, Kain was given a chance to ask his questions. In truth Kain would like to have Raxan by him, he provided experience and a level head. However it would be better for him to be near Cleomenes, he had seen the effect he had on his closest friend. It was a good thing.

Kain knelt before his Lord as he spoke. "My lord, I must ask you why Vermaas has not been punished at all for his actions. What he did bordered on heresy, and whilst I did tell him not to leave the youth or allow him to do anything rash, his actions remind me that of Astelan." He paused for a moment, knowing that it was a very touchy subject with the Scythes, even if Thrasius didn't seem to mind telling Cleomenes.

"I must also ask you my Lord, why am I allowed to keep my command? I failed you as a Sergeant and as a marine down on Sotha. Whilst the primary objective was complete, I led my squad in blindly to secure the banner, and failed to gain the much needed supplies, as well as risking the lives of the men under my command and almost losing two of them in my foolishness."

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post #87 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-07-12, 11:49 PM
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"Zeiran! Hexor! Izrael! Kneel!"

Part of him balked, the tone, the demands in the face of the favoritism, part of him longed to defy the Chapter Master to spit in the face of the leader of this bedraggled clan of failures.... yet what good would it do.

He had done wrong... he had disobeyed, how do you treat a bad dog with stern unflinching leadership. So he knelt, bowed his head and prostrated himself before his lord.

When his time came to speak of what had happened on the surface he spoke haltingly and sparsely, voice devoid of any arrogance or pomp, the bitter bile that had laced his tone replaced by weariness. He spoke of arrival, of his decision, of Vermaas's words he had not heeded... of the Sergeants decision, of the banner, of their return. He did not explain nor elaborate, nor speak of the sins of others, they were not his to tell nor his to judge though the memory of Vermaas pistol in hand made his mind shiver.

Yet others spoke of it with vehement shock and twisted horror, though he wished they would not... he had pushed Vermaas to it, for the banner he clutched in his hand, the weight of his sins balancing against the pole clasped in his hand.

The chapter master's words were a lecture he disagreed with in part, yet contained truths he already knew and did not need to hear and he left hastily as the chapter master dismissed them unaware of the company he had gained as he headed towards the cathedral

'I wouldn't have done anything differently...'

He paused the banner clinking upon the stone as he turned to Brother Zeiran. Though he had not gained the acclaim Niko had, Zeiran had gained a reputation for a keen sense of honour, perhaps not recognized against the righteous fervour of Brother Vermaas or the grim stoicism of Brother Raxan yet like Izrael's reckless abandon it had not gone unnoticed.

"You are know for a keen sense of honor Brother Zeiran. If you believe going to the surface was the honorable thing to do then I would not doubt your motives."

He gave a low sigh

"In a time when our oldest and noblest can be corrupted by the foulest of forces, who else can you trust but your own heart"

He gave a wry smile

"And my heart tells me I should have forgotten this"

he tapped the banner gently on the floor even as his other hand came to rest upon the aquilla directly over his primary heart

"And focused on this"

kudos to lillian thorne for the awesome sig
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post #88 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-08-12, 11:13 AM
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Even Raziel, cynical as he was, was surprised by Lord Sotha's insistence on his old name. Thrasius. He hadn't lived under that name for years now, not since he had taken the decision to symbolise their homeworld, their chapter. The chambers were impressive, but Raziel, his mind cold and unmoving, barely registered them, they had little bearing on the situation before them.

He blinked when Thrasius commanded Vermaas to stand, surely he knew of the Space Marines rash, near heretical decision. Why he had so chosen to dismiss his crime remained unanswere however, as the Chapter Masters voice boomed out, "Zeiran, Hexor, Izrael kneel."

They did so, the harsh click of ceramite on armoured plexiglass cutting through the room. The Chapter Master turned to Cleomenes, speaking to him, as one might an old friend, though there was an air about him that spoke the truth, neither knew the other but there was a look on his face that spoke of longing for the old days. Raziel felt his jaw tighten slightly at that thought, but pushed away the temptation to relive memories of the Chapter's glory.

He gave his report without bias, almost robotically, though others perhaps expressed shock or fury at Vermaas' actions he merely detailed the exchange before moving on. It was not his way to cloud a report with his own opinions, regardless of what he may truly think of their behaviour.

To explain his reasons for sending them down was unneccessary however. As Chapter Master, Lord Sotha, he was their commander, theirs was not to question his orders. He had long since proved himself in battle and was one of the few Raziel still accorded the full measure of respect. To relieve Vermaas of his sins was a risky move, Astelan's betrayal was still a raw wound in the minds of the Chapter, and to see a Brother very nearly take anothers life was an unpleasant reminder, he should at least have been disciplined. Though Raziel believed that Vermaas' actions were an error in judgement, that he wouldn't have pulled the trigger, to let him off entirely...

When the Lord Sotha, Raziel refused to think of him in any other terms, turned his attention to him, Vermaas and Raxan. He nodded his head sharply, acknowledging the order, and as they were dismissed turned sharply on his heel and strode out without a word. The armoury wasn't far and he careful removed each individual item of armour, laying them carefully an lovingly out as though he were constructing a Space Marine before him. He robed himself and turned to the other two, his face curled into it's perpetual sneer and raised an eyebrow.

"Are we ready to witness the future gentlemen?"

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post #89 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-11-12, 05:26 PM
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Solaki stood propped in the centre of the room watching Laikus work. He was fiddling with endless repairs and improvements to his armaments, talking about a 'new set-up' which Solaki would be receiving. It comforted Solaki to still feel human comfort, and whether Belial had been refraining from visiting Laikus as much as in past or Laikus simple enjoyed talking to someone who was beginning to understand what he was doing. At this exact moment, however, Laikus was crouched over one of Solaki's arms in silence, his plasma cutter making a constant hissing as it melted plasteel and ceremite. Laikus seemed unphased by any of the minor damage Solaki had received. If anything, after having heard the battles he had endured, Laikus was pleased with his handy work.

Since returning, Solaki had spent comparatively little time in the 'sleep' most dreadnoughts endured. The loneliness still gnawed at him frequently. It was similar to his induction as an Astartes, but when he became trans-human he had many others who were similar to him. Inside his metal shell, he was alone. A few brothers had visited him since they returned to the heart. Lord Sotha hadÖno, Lord Thrasius. He must remember that his lord had returned to his original name. He would not like to make that mistake in public. He had explained what others had said concerning the events of Sotha, and had found nothing at fault with his actions. Curiously, he had found nothing at wrong with Vermaasís actions either, and he would not be punished. Solaki had been astounded by that, but had trusted Thrasiusís judgement.

As his lord left he said a curious phrase "It was not just the opportunity and necessity that got you entombed my brother. I allowed it because I also felt that you deserved the honour." Solaki had time to mull it over during the time between visits and was not sure how his lord meant it, or even how he knew. Solaki had never explicitly said that he felt he was just and agent of necessity, but simply felt it was an unspoken truth. To learn that he not only knew but refuted Solakiís belief stunned him. He also wasnít sure what had made him deserve the honour. On Ferim, Thrasius had been appalled by his, Belialís and Astelanís conduct. Perhaps the fact that they stood against Astelan and he was proved to later be a traitor made Thrasius feel Solaki had some form of perception of character. He was still unsure how he had deserved the honour of being an ancient.

Niko had also visited, but had barely spoken, and when they had it had been mostly through private vox channels. He seemed content to simply watch the work that was taking place. Solaki wondered if he was simply monitoring one of his brothers as his duty as apothecary, or if it was done out of more of a vested interest. Once Niko had left, Solaki had thought more on the events on Sothaís surface. One particular moment swirled around in his head like a poison slowly distilling itself in blood. Izraelís diatribe at him still stuck. Perhaps it was to do with Thraiusís words to the contrary that made him think more and more about it, but Solaki wished he could speak to Izrael out of some morbid curiosity to see if bringing back the banner had tempered the youth in any way, or if he was likely to remain the same. Laikus all the while was continuing with his work and Solaki broke into the silence. ďBrother techmarine, what exactly will be this new armament you speak of? Am I to receive different weapons?ĒÖ
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post #90 of 137 (permalink) Old 09-13-12, 01:12 AM
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The party came to a stop, drawing Raxan from his thoughts. He saw that they now stood in front of the Chapter Master's quarters. It had been sometime since Raxan had last set foot in the rooms beyond the beautifully stylized doors. That time it had been to discuss the details of the impending recruitment mission he had been tasked with, it had been an easy conversation, his respect for Lord Sotha ran deep, as it did even now despite the fact that his mind was wracked with doubt. This time, he did not think that the conversation would be so amiable. Brother had drawn weapon against brother, marines had disobeyed his commands, and two of their number, himself one of those, had almost been lost on a quest to unearth the past. Raxan still did not know if the act of retrieving the banner had been worth it. It had inspired, battle-brothers that passed his squad in the halls of The Heart had taken inspiration and comfort from seeing the venereated scrap of fabri once more. It would boost morale, but would it be enough to re-invigorate a chapter plagued by inactivity and fear of loss? It was a question that only time would be able to answer.

As the doors swung open, revealing the expansive space of Lord Sotha's chambers, the squad began to enter, only to have their path obstructed by the form of the Chief Apothecary, Brother Alexander, who almost ran Raxan over in his haste to get to Brother Zeiran. Raxan smiled, men like Alexander and Laikus always amused him, hovering over their charges in an attempt to prevent every injury and every bit of damage. He was greatful that the damage to Zeiran's armor was much more evident than the damage to his own. As much as he liked Alexander and respected his dedication to the marines under his care, Raxan did not need him flitting about like a mother hen concerned for her chicks. He would survive, his was uninjured save a bruising to his pride. His armor would be repaired and life would go on as if the incident had never occured. "Keep telling yourself that old man," he thought, "the trip to Sotha's surface with stick with you longer than you want to admit." Shaking his head, attempting to clear his thoughts as he stepped into the presence of the Chapter Master with the rest of his squad.

Lord Sotha stood, facing out towards the stars that shown brightly in the expanse of the void. The transluscent safety glass that comprised the walls of the Chapter Master's chambers giving a clear view out into space, the view dominated by the dead, brown orb that had once been Sotha. Raxan could tell that something was bothering his commander. Something about the way Lord Sotha held himself, the level expression, the deadpan way that he stared at the slowly orbiting planet before him. Despite having seen the wound to the Chapter Master's chest several times, Raxan could not help but take in the thick ropey length of scar tissue that ran from his lord's left collar bone to the bottom right of his rib cage. Like the dead world before them, like the tattered Banner of Justice, like the decimated Chapter-Monastary below them, the vicious scar was another reminder of the vicious nature of the Scythe's hated foe.

The resounding clang of ceramite on glass caused Raxan's attention to snap from his commander to the kneeling form of Vermaas, every nuiance of his brother's posture one of supplication and penance. Words began to flow from Vermaas' lips, forestalled by a commanding gesture from the Chapter Master. Something, a flitter of emotion in the eyes of his lord, caused Raxan's eyes to narrow in question, before Sotha spoke. Telling his marines that no longer would he be referred to as Lord Sotha. Change was in the air, something about being back in orbit around their former homeworld had caused a shift in thinking, and it started here, in these chambers, with the simplest of things.... the changing of a name.

Raxan watched on, expression neutral, the warring emotions behind his stoic facade invisible to his companions as Lord Thrasius spoke to those who had disobeyed his commands. There was a vibrancy in Thrasius that Raxan had not seen in his commander in some time. A passion for his command and a fervent desire for the chapter to not only survive but thrive in the way that he spoke, in the explanations he gave. Listening to each of them tell the tale of what happened on the surface with patience. As Raxan relayed his version of the tale he left nothing out, from the initial engagement with the xeno theives, to the incident that had happened with Vermaas and Izrael, to his initial support to the task of retrieving the banner, to his eventual reservations about the wisdom of that choice, to his eventual near incapacitation. All delivered in his steady baritone.

As Lord Thrasius explained the reason for his orders to the disobiedient, Raxan's gaze was drawn to the form of Kain, his friend, his Sergeant. Kain's manner was dour, his face dejected. Raxan knew that Kain had doubts about his ability to command, doubts that Cleomenes obviously shared. Raxan however, knew that there was much more to the man than he had exibited on the planet. He could only wait, hoping that Lord Thrasius saw the same thing that Raxan did.
Lord Thrasius spoke of the new recruits that he hoped to soon raise to the Scout cadre. He instructed Raxan, Vermaas, and Raziel to report to Veteran Sergeant Tobias after changing into chapter robes. He insisted that after visiting the ghosts of the past on the surface of Sotha, seeing the future of the chapter would do them good. Raxan wasn't sure that he agreed, but followed his Lord's commands, bowing his head in respect and acknowledgement of the command. Placing a supportive hand on Kain's shoulder as he passed his friend, he tried to convey that he was pleased that Kain would keep his command.

As the walked, Raxan brought up the rear of the trio, his gaze firmly on Vermaas' back. He had been surprised at his Lord's dismissal of Vermaas' actions as if they were nothing but a triviality. Visions of Astelan's heresy still flowed through Raxan's mind as his thoughts turned back to the frightening tableau framed against the dust covered sun on the surface of his dead home. He wanted to speak to Vermaas about it, to try and make sense of what his brother had done, but he could not, would not speak of it in the open halls. To many prying ears, to many minds that would not be as understanding as Lord Thrasius. Later.... He would speak with Vermaas' as soon as he could get him alone.

As they entered into the arming chamber, Serfs flocked to them waiting and willing hands eager to assist, and Raxan let them. He wouldn't have had a choice in the matter had he wanted to remove his plate himself as the explosive mine had fused part of his chest plate together. His weapons stowed in their proper compartments, his plate having been whisked away by several of Laikus' menials as soon as he had removed it he stood, his simple robes falling loosely around him. As he joined Raziel and Vermaas near the door, Raziel spoke.

"Are we ready to witness the future gentlemen?"

With a grunt, Raxan replied,"I despair for our chapter's future Raziel.... Despite the fact that we recruit and train new aspirants, we are unable to raise them to full brothers to bolster our numbers. Without a librarian to test their minds, without chaplains to harden their hearts, what good are those younglings that we find?" Sighing heavily, "No Raziel, we go not to view a glimpse of our chapter's future....."

"... But our demise?" Raziel asked tersely, Raxan's oppressive thoughts obviously drawing his brother's choler.

Raziel glared back at Raxan, "would we had a Chaplain to purge such unworthy thoughts from us brother."

His tone softened a little, and he sighed, "I too, wish we had a Chaplain to guide us, without one we are as lost as children, what does it matter that we cannot raise them to full battle brothers when we ourselves cannot find our own path?"

"I did not intend to be a dour as suggesting the demise of the chapter Raziel, but I did let my doubts cloud my thinking. Doubt festers in my heart where once there was none." Pinching the bridge of his nose, taking a deep breath, and settling his robes more comfortably around his shoulders, Raxan continued, his thoughts of late spilling out almost uncontrollably to the marine at his side. "For years I have been convinced that we were doing the right thing, barely leaving the confines of The Heart, and then only to find fresh recruits. I believed Lord Sotha was in the right, keeping us out of harms way, giving us time to rebuild and regain what we have lost." Pausing, unsure whether to give voice to the words flashing through his head, Raxan turned his gaze to the ceiling, praying to the Emperor for guidance before saying, "What happened down on the planet should not have happened. We are rusty, skills too long idle becoming lax and dulled. It has shown me that things cannot continue the way they have."

"Our path is clear, clearer to me now with Cleomenes' return than it has been since the fall. We must raise these new aspirants to scout hood, the Chapter Master must find a way to test their minds, to protect us from the taint that took Astelan from us, and we must fight. We must do what the Emperor created us for. What good would it do us to recruit new brothers, only to waste away in this nameless existence. Robbed of the pursuit of glory and honor, alive only for survival's sake." He felt the same thing he had felt on the planet, as they had engaged the Xeno for the first time, watching his brother's fight as they had been bred to do, a fervent desire to see the return of the old ways. He smiled, beaming at the marines by his side, " We must confront our destinies brothers, not hide away from them in the shadows of obscurity." Slapping Raziel on the shoulder, "No brother, the untested aspirants are not our future.... They may someday play a part, but for now, it is us.... those few of us that have survived that must become the future of this chapter. We must set aside the past and look to the now."

Raziel smiled sadly, and the smile only worsened the harsh grimace his face was forced into. It was a somewhat ghastly sight. "You are right brother, no matter what the mistakes and failings of our past, it is our past, and unchangable, the best we can hope to do is atone for the sins of our brothers, and seek to guide those that would follow us onto the path of honour."

"Indeed, brother, I agree. So with fresh perspective let us go see these recruits. Unless I miss my guess Cleomenes will want to retake his place as Training Sergeant. If anyone can shape these young people into the marines we will come to need, it is the one marine who has been free of decades of guilt and loss."

Raziel grunted in response, unimpressed. "Perhaps he is freed from the loss that we have suffered. But I am not sure this makes him the best to shape our aspirants. We have suffered true, but he remembers past glories far more clearly than we, and I fear this could cloud his judgement as he already demonstrated upon Sotha itself."

"That may be, but is our judgement any less clouded? I would rather have some one aspire to the glories of the past than be swamped with memories of loss. We shall see what the future holds brother. It is already apparent that Lord Thrasius has changed his vision of it already. Things are changing, I can feel them, whether for good or ill remains to be seen." Raxan said with surety.

"Perhaps brother, perhaps, as the Emperor wills it," Raziel responded.

"As the Emperor wills it," Raxan echoed.

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