It was dark. It was always dark on Nostramo, but way down in the streets, the blackness took on an almost physical presence, like you could feel the inky blackness pressing down on you. It was in this dark that the hooded figure of Varius Monstangro ran, glancing over his shoulder and flinching at every slight movement. Running at break-neck speed, Varius skidded around a corner and barely kept his balance as his feet slid on whatever foul substance covered the streets. Glancing over his shoulder again, Varius never saw the great bear of a man step out from the alleyway. He certainly didn’t see the heavy cudgel swinging at his head……
With a sudden start, Var’s eyes flew open. Recoiling from the blinding white light that hung above him, Var could hardly make out the sound of Veptus’ voice, the edge of laughter in his voice.
“What a shame, you’re alive. I repaired the damage to your shoulders, but left your servo-arms untouched. I know how much I’d hate it if you walked in here and started mutilating my patients. Although, I’d do it soon. I reckon several of our brothers will be begging you for repairs and the like pretty soon.”
The faint sound of Veptus walking away sounded a thousand miles away as Var tried to take in his surroundings, and what Veptus had just said. Shading his eyes from the painful light shining down on him, Var managed to make out the line of med-slabs, and as his sensors slowly began to reboot and come back on-line, they confirmed that the smell of blood, of medicine, of weak flesh, hangs in the air. The sensors also told Var that Veptus had injected Var with enough chemicals to wake him up, and as a full damage report came in, the whole thing came flooding back. Var remembered the initial fight, the re-enforcements flooding in, knocking Sicarius to the ground and then….. nothing, just darkness.
Var checked over his injuries, seeing that Veptus was still a skilled Apothecary, and that his wounds had been sealed, although even Var did not know if he could still heal like normal flesh. Var tried to look around, and could vaguely make out the figures of other members of the Fourth, which must mean that the Fourth Claw had won, although the shapes of members of the Seventeenth suggested the fight had been broken up.
A ringing in his head and a stab of pain from his shoulder stopped Var from thinking anymore, and he gritted his teeth as he swung his legs around and got off the med-slab. His legs buckled immediately, but Var caught himself before he crashed into the ground. Slowly pushing himself upright, Var slowly began to limp towards the door out of the Apocatherion. Opening a direct channel to the Armoury of the Nightfall, and having to take a minute to find his voice once more, Var spoke.
“Prepare to administer urgent repairs”
Before waiting for a reply, Var shut the channel and limped towards the door from the room and out into the corridors of the Nightfall.
But Var had hardly taken a couple of steps before the figure of Raskreia loomed out of the blinding light and tossing his broken helmet towards Var. Var reacted quickly and managed to catch it and catch the words that Raskreia spoke.
"Well it seems that you still live for now Varius, and my helmet seems to need your looking after. You are the best in 4th for that after all right?"
Var looked up and stood as straight as he could as he glared back at the Standard Bearer.
“I can fix your helmet, its child’s play, but don’t speak the name Varius. Varius died many years ago under a maniac’s scalpel, only Var remains.”
Ignoring any response from Raskreia and the commotion happening elsewhere in the room, Var walked out the door.
Finally escaping the stench of weak flesh and blood, Var made it out into the Nightfall’s corridors and quickly made his way to the Armoury, ducking through almost hidden back passages and service tunnels to reach his destination in half the time.
Emerging into the Armoury, Var took a moment to bask in the golden glow of the forges before moving into the vast underbelly of the Nightfall properly.
Seeing the prepared group of servitors and Techmarines gathered together, Var headed towards them and all but collapsed onto the slab they had prepared, his body finally giving up. Almost instantly, with only a slight hesitant pause as they took in the state of the First Claw Techmarine, the Techmarines and Servitors quickly set to work repairing Var. The whir of saws and the roar of blow torches coming to life nearly drowned out to noises of the Armoury, of a Legion preparing for war, but the rumble of the forges still throbbed through Var’s head as he allowed his eye to close, embracing the bottomless darkness within his head as he felt his entire body nearly torn apart and then welded together. He felt his Servo-Harness suddenly come to life once more, and smiled, even as several of his Servo-arms still hung limp and useless. Retreating into himself, it did not seem long before Var was risen by the nervous shaking of a Techmarine, but the
repairs must have taken hours.
Var looked down at himself, and was impressed at how well his broken body had been patched up and prepared once more for conflict. Not saying a word to the quickly disappearing group of Techmarines and Servitors around him, Var rose to his feet and felt the power rush through his body. Flexing his body, Var found that once more his Servo-arms were whole again, and with a twisted and morbid smirk Var allowed his tail to flick out and whistle through the air in small, quick darting actions until he was satisfied that it was once more an extension of his will. Var also saw that Sicarius’ master-forged weapon, the Combi-Bolter that had almost cost Var his life, had been welded onto Var’s own Servo-Harness in place of his own damaged Bolt Pistol. Satisfied that he was once more ready to fight, Var remembered about the Standard Bearers helmet and picked it up from where it lay on the floor.
Inspecting the helmet for damage, Var could see that several large dents had ruined the helmets integrity, and they would need fixing before the coming conflict. Deciding that he was needed for more pressing matters, Var caught the arm of a passing Techmarine and placed the helmet in his hands.
“Repair this helmet and return it to Raskreia, Standard Bearer for the Fourth Company’s First Claw as soon as possible”
The Techmarine gave a hurried nod and all but ran off towards the forges. Content with his work, Var turned from the Armoury and with one final look around, the Techmarine set off out into the ship once more.
Var stood upon the embarkation deck once more, Power Axe in hand and the Revenant crouching like some predatory animal behind him. Hours have passed since the disastrous ambush and Var had administered all the final preparations he needed; now he only awaited the appearance of Xandrek so that the First Claw could return to Maiden’s Sorrow. Var was once more totally absorbed within his own mind, planning every last detail of the coming conflict, and performing a series of final repairs.
Suddenly, Xandrek appeared from one of the corridors opening out onto the embarkation desk, and Var saw he was in conversation with the First Captain Sevetar, although they fall silent as they walk out onto the deck properly. Turning to each other, Var saw a salute that sent his mind flying back to the small boy that had climbed over the filth on the streets of Nostramo to marvel at the feared Night Lords. Xandrek had sworn something with his life, although Var could only guess at what it was as even his enhanced sensors couldn’t pick up the conversation.
Var watched Xandrek stride over, already fully armed with his shield on his arm and weapons at his side, and simply stared back as he nodded to each of the assembled members of the First Claw. However, Var was pulled out from his thoughts as the Captain handed his tower shield to Azrael and addressed the Techmarine directly, placing his hand on Var’s pauldron.
"Var, I heard what you did for Azrael when he was ambushed by Seventeenth. Well done Tech-Marine you have saved me the trouble of looking for a new champion amongst Fourth Company."
Without another word, Var had no time to react before Xandrek turned to the Iron Warrior Pelegon and spoke again.
"As for you, Iron Warrior, welcome to the brotherhood of First Claw. I have no doubt my men have already threatened and scolded you but know this: While under my command you Fight with First Claw, and if need be you Die with First Claw. We are your battle brothers now and until you return to your legion that is the way it shall be. Aboard the 'Maiden of Sorrow' there is no higher authority than mine, remember that and you may save survive your time with the Eighth Legion."
Xandrek had barely turned his back before Pelegon spoke out.
“Lykourgos had the masters of signal turned into servitors, you know”
Xandrek nodded towards Pelegon and the Iron Warrior continued in horribly accented Nostramon as he dropped down to one knee and slammed his left fist into the palm of his right hand.
“I thank you for your words of greeting, Captain and swear to serve you as loyally as ever I served the commanders of my own legion. My iron is yours until the day it breaks or you no longer have use for it. Ave dominus nox!”
Var allowed his face to twist into a frightening attempt at a smile as the Iron Warrior swore allegiance to Xandrek, perhaps this Pelegon would prove to be useful in the future.
Xandrek ordered everyone aboard the Revenant and Var followed the rest of the First Claw back into the interior of the vessel, not making for the cabin as he had before, instead taking a seat apart from the other Night Lords on board.
Var listened as Xandrek explained the plan for the coming battle, that the Fourth Company will be stationed at the flank of the Night Lords, near to the Word Bearers, and target the Raven Guard heavy weapons teams, transports and to target commanders. Var was torn about this news. He had taken apart countless Heavy Weapons so knew well how they worked and how to destroy them, but he also knew how much damage they could do, and Var also knew that the Raven Guard’s commanders were amongst the finest warriors in the Imperium and that bringing one down would be a mammoth task in a fair fight. It was a good thing then that the Night Lords had perfected that art of fighting dirty. However Var’s eyes lit up at the mention of fighting the Imperial Army, as Var despised those of flesh who were too weak even to take up the mantle of Astartes and get some bit closer to the Machine God. As the Revenant approached the Maiden of Sorrow, Var smiled, his tail already twitching in anticipation of the blood that would soon be spilled.