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post #161 of 173 (permalink) Old 02-21-15, 07:43 PM
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Watching the Corpse Master kick his jumpack into life, the Lord of Lies in his cold grip, Corvis paid them only enough attention to see other members of First Claw begin hurtling through the air following after their stricken Lord; the champion Azrael leading the pack after Veptus’ trail. More immediate concerns attracted the Young Blood’s attention though. There was still the matter of the servitors that were coming back to life. The tech-marine had managed to input one last command before the Iron Warrior could finish him off then it seemed. The hulking Dreadnaught lurching towards Corvis didn’t make the situation any more pleasing either. Slamming another clip into his plasma pistol, Corvis stepped out of his cover and took aim, the air in his dual lungs stifled as he focused on his targets. Smoothly, the trigger squeezed off quick shots in succession aimed at the group of armed servitors. In the process of rebooting, the servitors paid no heed as three of their unit were pulverized by the solar flares of superheated plasma, two of them taking direct hits to their chests and one’s head half melted off before it fell to the ground.

Before he could fire off another round though, the other servitors finally powered up and raised their heavy caliber guns at Corvis’ position. Ducking down as round ripped through the air, the Young Blood’s hearing could pick up how close those rounds were to his positon, the fizzes of blasted rock sent into the air and ka-chunks as the ground was ripped apart by incoming fire.

Keeping his head down, Corvis rolled to the other side of his cover and peered out. The servitors were still firing on his former positon but there was a more immediate concern that now required attention. While he had been focusing on the machine-creatures, the dreadnaught had continued making his way to crush his enemies. Eyeing the imposing giant, Corvis held a grim appreciation for the warrior entombed within the machines’ casket. Power fists swung left and right as the dreadnaught waded through Night Lords unlucky enough to be caught in his path. Against the weight of its blows, not even Mark V armor could withstand the impact of those blows. Dark blue armor crumpled as Night Lords were sent flying as the dreadnaught beat the life out of them. Unable to move with the servitors still unleashing their fury on his positon, Corvis gritted his teeth and took aim at the approaching doom.

“If this is my end, then I will die tearing that coffin open and ripping that half-dead Raven Guard in half before I fall” Corvis promised himself as he raised his pistol up. The Young Blood swung out from his cover crouched down; he unleashed a quick burst of plasma bolts waiting until the recoil settled before firing the next round. It would take direct hits to even begin to annoy this walking titan. The plasma bolts slammed into the dreadnaught’s right shoulder. After several successive shots the metal began to warp as the superheated flares weakened and melted the thick metal. Turning to face Corvis, the giant seemed to almost focus only on the Young Blood. Corvis could almost swear he could feel the near dead warrior within accept his challenge. With grim determination, Corvis emptied the rest of his clip at the advancing dreadnaught as the servitors shifted their fire towards his new position.

Corvis never paid notice to the ravings of men that preached the divinity of the False Emperor; he particularly hated the Word Bearers and their unending preaching. But if there was ever a time that Corvis believed in luck, it was the moment when he heard the whining and then deep thunk as auto-cannon salvos smashed into the Contemptor sending it reeling backwards. Turning his head to the ridge line of the gully, Corvis couldn’t help but smile his predator grin as ten members of Second Claw waded down the gully, their flexing power fists aching to touch the Night Lord’s closest kin as their chain-fists throttled continuous rounds towards the enemy. Peering out from his cover again, Corvis saw the remaining servitors focus now on the terminators as their numbers began to be ripped apart by the bolter rounds from Second Claw, hunks of flesh and bionics thrown into the air as the machine men were blown apart.

With the attention of both of the dreadnaught and remaining servitors focused on the terminators, Corvis decided now was his best chance to catch up to First Claw. Before he could activate his jump pack however, a sweeping shadow caught his eye. At first Corvis had thought it was his Father, the Night Haunter. Instead, the winged form of the Raven Lord raced through the skies, heading in the direction of the Word Bearers lines and where Veptus had flown off with Xandrek.

Taking off into the air, Corvis trained his eyes on the battlefield, scanning for any signs of First Claw. It did not take long before Corvis spotted the dread Apothecary, still holding Xandrek in his embrace. With Azrael and several destroyers from Tenth Claw in tow, Corvis assumed that the Lord of Lies was safe with his escort. That was until he looked down and spotted the Raven Lord surrounded a ring of dead Word Bearers. Rocketing upwards, Corax took to the air again, heading straight towards the Corpse Master and 4th companies lord. Putting themselves between the Apothecary and Corax, the Young Blood could see the Raven Lord almost casually rip three of the destroyers’ armor to shreds with his talons, sending them careening to the ground with their blood pouring into the air. Even Xandrek’s champion fared little better as Corvis watched the Raven Lord swat him from the sky, his talons slicing Azrael’s legs cleanly off him as he fell to the earth. With his path open Corax darted onwards deeper into the Word Bearer’s ranks just as Veptus slammed into the ground with Xandrek in tow.

Landing smoother than the Champion or Corpse Master, Corvis took in his surroundings. More Night Lords were appearing and members of First Claw all seemed to head towards the fallen Apothecary and the wounded Xandrek. Corvis however did not head after his fallen lord immediately. With everyone seeing to Xandrek, the Young Blood made his way towards the mutilated Champion. Firing off the occasional plasma bolt at a distant target, Corvis could see one of Veptus’ acolytes race over to Azrael and begin to see to the half dead Champion. Injecting Azrael with his instruments to help keep the Champion alive, Corvis couldn’t help but silently enjoy the scene of the stricken Azrael. Catching himself from his reverie, the Young Blood approached the Apothecary, noticing that it was the same one who had tended to his facial wound what seemed like an eternity ago, Brother Xheng.

“Hail Brother Xheng” Corvis flatly stated as he scanned the battleground looking for enemies that focus on the working Apothecary. “Young Blood” Xheng returned just as cold. “Have you remembered to watch the stitching on your face” He questioned in an almost reprimanding tone. Taking his helmet off, Corvis smiled his empty smile, feeling trickles of blood fall down his cheek as some of the stitching had become torn. Sighing and shaking his head, Xheng returned his focus to his charge. “Is he still alive” the Young Blood questioned? “Barely, but yes. He will need surgery upon return to the Maiden and several bionics before he is fighting shape” Xheng answered, “Assist in covering me while I escort him to the Lord of Lies postion”. Slamming a fresh clip into his pistol, Corvis watched the Apothecary finish his immediate mending and lift the Champion up by his stump. The Young Blood could not tell if Azrael was truly conscious or if his sus-an membrane had kicked on but Corvis could not help himself. With a cruel glint in his eye, Corvis looked Azrael over once more before addressing him. "It looks like it was you who was complacent today Sword-Master" Corvis taunted as he assisted Xheng in moving towards Veptus and Xandrek.

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post #162 of 173 (permalink) Old 02-26-15, 09:19 PM
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Veptus watched the titanic clash of forces meters from him. Lorgar was a spineless sycophant and Veptus knew that the only reason he stood between him and the retribution of the Lord of the Nineteenth Legion was because Corax was butchering his monstrous hoard even quicker than he had been culling his own kin. Lorgar swung his heavy mace, but Corax clearly had the upper hand. His moves were a blur of motion, lashing at Lorgar’s armour and threatening to deliver death. Quickly, Lorgar was forced onto his back feet.

Veptus supposed that Corax’s blows were fuelled by rage and indignation. His legion had been betrayed and all around him his sons were being slaughtered indiscriminately. By comparison, Veptus had not yet seen his Primarch nor had he heard of his actions. Corax demanded answers from Lorgar, bellowing his questions. He demanded, before he killed him, that Lorgar explain their actions. Why had they betrayed them? Why had they abandoned their Emperor? Lorgar burbled something about Truth and some impending doom. It was a weak defence, and Corax would have none of it.

Corax had pushed Lorgar back as far as he would go and in a final act of near fratricide, the claws that had come so close to ending his own live began to gouge holes in Lorgar’s face. It looked like Lorgar would die here and the possibility that a Primarch could die shocked Veptus almost to paralysis. Even Lorgar seemed to be unable to stay the wrath of the black armoured corvine primarch. Veptus realised he and Xandrek were still too close to the Primarch of the Raven Guard. The only thing that would save them was the press of crimson bodies, chaff to slow the lethal harvest that Corax would reap. A chill running down his spine was the only omen that warned Veptus of what was approaching them.

The midnight clad form of the Night Haunter appeared from the shadows and wrest Corax’s claws away from his brother. His icy voice reverberated in Veptus’ ears and he felt a savage smile creep across his face. “Not so fast little Raven.” His Primarch tore one of the Raven Lord’s lightning claws off. The anger in Corax’s face dissipated, replaced by abject horror. Whereas the primarch of the Nineteenth had to ask Lorgar why he had forsaken his beloved Emperor, simply looking at the Night Lord seemed to tell Corax everything he needed to know. That revelation seemed to chill him to the core. In a burst of fire from his jet-pack Corax fled, off to defend more of his sons and seek to escape no doubt.

Konrad turns his abyss-black eyes from the fleeing sight of the Lord of the Ninteenth Legion to gaze at two midnight clad warriors stood in a sea of deep grey and artierial crimson Veptus went to help his half naked Captain to his feet. Xandrek accepted it half way before shrugging Veptus off, determined to stand under his own strength before his Lord and Father. Veptus noticed that one of Xandrek’s helmet wings had been cleaved off by Corax, only then realising how close him and Xandrek had been to death. He looked on his Father and swallowed the knot in his throat. He wasn't sure if it was excitement or the effect Konrad had on people that caused it. He spoke, bowing his head, his voice rising barely above a whisper. "Father."

Xandrek removed his helmet.
"Sire" Xandrek said lowering his unhelmeted head before the Primarch of the Eighth Legion before he turned his midnight black gaze to look into the pale features of the Lord of the Night Lords. "The fourth is fully engaged in battle save my own squad who are currently regrouping. As per your orders we are engaging the 19th Legion and the Imperial Army to the north."
"My orders..." Curze seemed to speak to himself, as if evaluating a fine vintage. His attention drifted briefly before coming back to Veptus and Xandrek. "...and what about you 'Lord of Lies'?..." There was a slight mocking intonation to Curze's words that few could afford to have with Xandrek. "...Tell me, have you grown weiry that you retreat now, or is is that you are bored with our petty war?"

The Primarch of the Night Lords let his faux displeasure hang for a moment. The corner of his mouth twitched briefly into a half-smile and the game was up. He waved Xandrek away with his hand, flicking drops of Astartes blood on Xandrek as he did so. "I see you are all but spent and I would prefer for you to remain alive for now. You..." Now all of the Night Haunter's attention was focused on Veptus. He had always hoped he would do something noteworthy enough to warrant the Primarch's attention, but now he was not so sure. "...you must be the one he calls Corpse Master, one trained by Orrin. I may still have use of you."

Konrad noticed the new arrivals and Veptus relased a breath he had been holding. He was still glad to be so close to his Primarch, but also glad he was not the center of attention any longer. "And who might this be?" Konrad asked almost disinterestedly.
"My Minoris, Xheng, Corvis and..."
"...Azrael, my champion." Xandrek finished Veptus' sentence, the words coming out bitter and spiteful. Night Haunter nodded, his interest in his gathered sons all but gone.
"Well, Corpse Master, it seems you have the living to attend to. How unfortunate. Perhaps some other time then. Afterall, I'm sure there will be many battles to come and plenty of corpses..." With that their Primarch soared away from them, off to cleave more loyalists from the land of the living.

As Xheng and his entourage approached, Veptus turned to Xandrek. “I believe these are yours Captain.” Veptus offered Xandrek’s massive shield and his blade to him. Although he had shed all of Xandrek’s extraneous armour, Veptus could not have left his blade. Since becoming Captain, it was the only weapon Xandrek had wielded. For whatever reason, he had become quite attached to the blade. Xandrek took both of the weapons back from Veptus, not sheathing either, but leant on his tower shield slightly. Although the armour was still weighing heavy on him, Xandrek refused to shed it or to lie down again. He continued to fix the approaching forms with a fierce glare. “Call the Fourth back, and call the Revenant. We are done here. Let other spend themselves whittling down what remains of our ‘cousins’.” Veptus nodded.

“All members of the Fourth Company, heed me. The Lord of Lies commands you to withdraw. Our work here is finished.” Veptus switched to the First Claw. "First Claw, converge on my position. Let others waste their lives annihilating our defeated foe." Finally he contacted the The Maiden of Sorrow. "Fleetmaster."
"My lord Veptus, how may I assist?"
"Send us the Revenant, we shall be returning shortly."
"Acknowledged lord Veptus." The link died and Veptus surveyed the battlefield before him. The Word Bearers and Alpha legion were surging forwards. Even the Iron Warriors were beginning to leave their lofty posts and wet their blades. By the moment the three betrayed legions were shrinking into islands of resistance, systematically overwhelmed and cut down. This was not simple defeat. This was utter extermination, and the knowledge that three legions had perished here would rock the Imperium to its core. It would install terror in the War Council to know that they stood outnumbered and outgunned. Terror the Eighth Legion would happily capitalize on…

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17th Millenial (Homebrew Fluff) - "Children of the Emperor, death to his foes!" (Project Log)

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post #163 of 173 (permalink) Old 02-28-15, 09:18 PM
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The countless corpses laid bubbling and dying as the 10th stood there admiring their work. They weren't universally effective and had they entered the fray against the other Astartes it would have been a waste but in this niche where their fine skills were most effective they were absolutely lethal and reveled in that grim task. Faint gurgles and whimpers strained against the cacophony of combat the brief intensity of which had likely never been witnessed before. Unfortunately their moment was cut short as the strained voice of the Corpse Master bellowed in over the vox, "All available units in service to the Lord of Lies. . ." The threat felt redundant but the urgency was very well noted and within scant moments it was well agreed that 10th would rather keep the Apothecarium on their good side and the powerful humming of jump packs throttling up and the 10th claw was soaring through the air and again the sight of battle much more one sided as the overwhelming numbers of those loyal to Horus consumed the few ragged souls like ants.

In the distance an image slightly larger than a marine but smaller than a flyer was visible and it was soon realized that it was Veptus with Xandrek in tow fleeing the battle. Clearly the Lord of Lies had been injured enough to warrant an evacuation which itself seemed odd considering the traditions of Night Lords to abandon the dying. As the Destroyer was playing out what they would be doing in his mind terror and anger filled his helmet as members of the 10th dropped from his HUD with a speed that was astounding. Too quick for any sort of anti-aircraft fire, no something was cutting them from the sky and as if in immediate response a black blur crossed his view and it was obvious that none other than the lord of the XIXth was upon them. At that moment the man that was essentially already dead and felt no fear experienced a cold trickle down his spine. He cut the engines early and descended only to be met with the rain of chem rusted ceramite, blood and other body parts from those of the 10th that had been dismembered midflight. At once the black blur was upon him and with a stern face that betrayed the rolling boil of rage underneath the Raven Lord Corax was upon him as well. The blade cut cleanly in a slash through a small section off the top of his helmet and through the jump pack itself sending him abruptly to the ground.

Serhiy struck the soil with all the grace of a brick with a rocket strapped to one side as the one turbine kept firing sending him away from the group and into a collection of Word Bearers who graciously cushioned his impact. The Destroyer rose discarding the useless jump pack and watched the relatively pristine Sons of Lorgar stand to in wonderful contrast to his own grizzled armor stained with chemical burns and blood and scorch marks from fire of all kind their meticulous parchment and tapestry of countless teaching they clung to for inspiration opposing his chains and trophies from the day. They stood opposite each other with an uncomfortable pause in the empty space between them until the Destroyer marine spoke.

"Funny your armour should be marred first this day by me. . ."

The spiteful remark was short lived as the hud showed more 10th claw members drop from his screen and in a moment he was in dead run as fast as his cumbersome body would allow him back into the fray leaving behind the preachers. He witnessed his own comrades of 1st claw, legendary butchers in their own rights that could strike terror into man's heart get cut down. Azrael's readings faltered greatly. The ground wasn't so much dirt anymore but rather a writhing sea of blood and Astartes and it was difficult to run. Serhiy had to claw and crawl almost literally wading through the bodies of the fallen to get back to his squad and likely his death. There was no fooling to be had the Raven Lord would bathe in his irradiated blood. All he could do would be to carry a phosphex bomb available and primed to attempt to take the Primarch with him. The life signs of his claw stabilized and as he crested a hill he understood why with an immediate awe that washed over him. The black blur had vanished retreating back to his kin and there were two Primarchs here now. Lorgar of the Word Bearers now laid wounded on the ground and their own Night Haunter stood defiant to the fleeing Raven Lord and much in the same awe as he held on the Nightfall but even more so in the moment of battle.

The Primarch addressed a few of the 1st Claw including most notably Xandrek and Veptus and just like that had vanished back into the battle. Everyone seemed stabilized for the moment and there was no need to speak.

“All members of the Fourth Company, heed me. The Lord of Lies commands you to withdraw. Our work here is finished."

Now with their evacuation moments away Serhiy took the time to survey the killing fields as there was no longer a battle occurring. The bang that would mark the first of undoubtedly many great clashes and conflicts was winding down like the leftover embers of a wildfire and the few pockets of resistance burnt out one by one now. Fear had come to the cosmos.

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post #164 of 173 (permalink) Old 03-02-15, 12:12 AM
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“Take this” Pelegon grabbed Tyberus by the pauldron and spun him round, handing the marine a meltabomb. “I do not have a jump pack, but you do. The contemptor cannot shoot straight up, nor can it swing its arms high. Drop the bomb onto the top of its carapace, the armour is strong there but it can’t defend itself. I will distract it”

Tyberus glared at Pelegon for a moment, his initial reaction was to drive his fist through the Iron Warrior's skull for placing hands on him, but the Iron Warrior's plan was a reasonably sound one, and certainly outweighed the alternative of being pinned down and shredded to pieces by the Contemptor and the Tech Marine and his retinue of servitors with anti personnel emplacements.

His jet pack roared to life and he gained altitude quickly, the fire was drawn from the Contemptor into the lines of Night Lords below, as he reached his zenith he activated and tossed the meltabomb that had been given to him by Pelegon. He had precious little time to properly aim as a black mass seemed to carry across the skyline, along with the flitterings of other members of the Raven Guard.

A glance down and he saw the massive, awe-inspiring frame of Corvus Corax, and Azrael, so ashamed and needing to atone for his actions on the battlefield stood between the Primarch of the Raven Guard and Xandrek. Tyberus silently mocked Azrael, his choice ended almost exactly as Tyberus had suspected, though he did not see Azrael gutted, he got to watch him relieved of his legs and thrown into the waves of Word Bearers that now crashed into their positions.

Veptus voice carried over the vox comm, calling for their forces to rally to him and Xandrek. Tyberus took a long moment to decide what he wanted to do, his life would be easier with both of them dead, but ultimately he decided that he couldn't risk their fate to the Raven Guard or Word Bearers and heeded the summons, raining down covering fire as he landed near their position to aid in the retrieval of Xandrek.
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post #165 of 173 (permalink) Old 03-03-15, 08:14 PM
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The cacophony of battle could well have been deafening to anyone un-augmented, but even through the dampeners, the sounds still seemed to reverberate around Kesh's helmet and rattled his head. Heavy calibre auto-reactive shells tore up the ground as nearby servitors trained their guns upon the Tactical Dreadnought squad advancing inexorably towards them.

Sizing up his options, Kesh saw that -even with his shield, more agility and some luck- there would be no opportunities to gain glory amongst such vaunted heroes.
Also, if he succeeded, there was always the possibility of hurting their pride and them finding the opportunity to take him out themselves, adding him to the huge tally of the already-fallen. Still, he couldn't help but gape for the briefest of seconds in awe at their engraved armour and fortitude.

He also saw that he had been mistaken to approach the banner: although assailed, the standard bearer was very capable of handling himself at close quarters as several foes' bodies testified. Kesh nodded to the bearer, loosing off several plasma rounds which kept their enemies' heads down and bought his comrade time for a quick respite (in case one was needed), even though the spray caused no appreciable casualties.

Espying Xandrek, the Captain seemed to be in a bad way, although the formidable Corpse-master would be sure to use every day of experience and skill in service to his lord.

A lull in proceedings told of consolidation in places by the Ravens, so he began to barge his way through the melee's Raven Guard towards the injured leader. As before, his actions battered a hole through the combatants, not becoming held up by their adversaries. Lashing out left and right with his tooth-edged shield and shrieking chainfist, both weapons met little resistance as his piston-driven arms and momentum multiplied the blows' impacts.

Evidently one Raven Guard had not noticed the oncoming rush, however:
Hacking his power-axe through an advancing Night Lord, a Devastator Sergeant had just retrieved the weapon when Kesh bore down almost on top of him.
The Raven's quick reactions saved him and he backed away, swinging horizontally left to right, buying himself time and shaking his head to clear blood out of his eyes, battle-lust written across his face.

The scent of ozone filled Kesh's nostrils as the hissing powerfield ripped away the bottom half of his shield, forming a sharpened point and only just missing his left knee. Kesh's eagerness had carried him almost past the Raven and he could only attempt a reverse-swing with the shorter chainfist as he turned to face his opponent, but the clumsy riposte missed easily.

"Even if I fall, another of Curze's heretics shall taste my blade" the Sergeant hissed. "The tally today is high...they shall call you number 13."

Kesh's reply was a short laugh, unconsciously betraying how far his Primarch had already fallen from The Emperor's side: "Nobody remembers failures...you are already the relic of some forgotten Legion." His words had been intended to barb the Raven into anger, but the berserk flurry of attempted strikes was unexpected and worthy of Angron's sons, rather than those of Corax.

Where possible, Kesh met the axe's azure crescent with his chainfist's own powerfield, scattering streams of sparks across the torn ground and the fallen from both sides as each strove to be the victor.

The Sergeant desperately sought to end the fight quickly; perhaps having been injured earlier, or maybe finally feeling the exhaustion of war? Either way, his strikes increased in intensity. Kesh tried to match the speed, but knew that this would be over shortly unless he did something to create an advantage.

Knowing that Kesh's movements would be slower, the Raven now deactivated his axe and switched his stance to using it like a quarterstaff.
Without the powered field, it could not directly penetrate his armour, but it certainly could incapacitate him if enough blows landed. The Raven proved this speed by pummelling the back of the Night Lord's shoulders and punching into his midriff, denting cables and pulling a bundle of wires loose.
In the corner of his left eye, Kesh noticed readouts scrolling down: loss of air wouldn't be an issue as much as the slowly decreasing power levels.

The axe-haft slammed into his temple, snapping his head back and making his ears ring. The Raven followed up with a double-strike across his stomach and chest, the shockwaves bruising his ribs which were already tender from the crash.

Clutching in desperation at any half-remembered tactic which might prove useful, Kesh saw that the Raven fought with the strength and fervour of a man who had nothing to lose. In that moment, he was able to dig deep into himself and realised that he had everything to live for...as long as he could get to Xandrek, there was hope.

Backing away and kneeling, Kesh lightly dug his shield into the ground as though sheltering behind it: when his opponent advanced seconds later, Kesh used the hydraulic rams in his arms to punch the back of the shield, sending it's full height into the front of the advanced Raven, knocking him to the ground and sending the axe spinning away from his grasp. Rising to his feet, Kesh was now the oppressor; his enemy had evidently fallen onto a lost upraised blade which had punctured his back, leaking vitality across the blasted earth.

Kesh raised his weakly struggling opponent above his head. Seeing that their battle had brought them close to Xandrek's position (and potentially his new Lord's gaze), Kesh slammed the Raven Guard crashing down upon one knee, breaking his spine with a resounding <crack>

Retrieving his shield, Kesh looked around for danger, trying to help defend the fallen captain's position.

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post #166 of 173 (permalink) Old 03-08-15, 11:31 AM
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Nodding to the hulking sergeant, Pelegon began his journey to where the cartograph in his armour's built-in cogitator informed him Xandrek was. He moved with a slight limp, one hand holding the plundered hammer in a limp-wristed grip just under the head, his left probing the shattered breastplate of his armour, thinking analytically. It was impossible to obtain a full analysis as it was, but it appeared that his armour was no longer environmentally sealed, and that the ceramite on his chest, having been somewhat concaved and heavily cracked, would offer little protection. The loss of his primary heart was inconvenient, but by no means lethal. According to the squad's feed, and from what he had seen, Azrael was faring far worse than he, and the captain was in near-critical condition, but everyone else seemed close enough to intact. Unfortunately, bar the captain, as far as Pelegon knew they all still had jump packs, which would leave him at a fair disadvantage. That said, he could always make for the IVth legion lines, South-East of his current position, though he knew he would face severe disciplinary action for failing his mission should he do so.

It tempted him, truly; were he to return to Xandrek et al, the Olympian knew that their Corpse-Master would be all to happy to take him in his cold embrace, a prospect that made what organic content was left in Pelegon's blood run cold. It was not fear so much as apprehension, for he knew Veptus to be a vengeful man. That said, Pelegon had done his duty, and had been careful not to give the grim apothecary reason to dislike him beyond simply existing. It would be possible to conceal his injuries enough, but obtaining a bionic heart, even less implanting it in himself...that could not be done.

The corpses of marines covered the red sands of Isvtaan as far as Pelegon could see, mostly black-clad here - the sheer quantity of loss caused a strange sensation in the Iron Warrior's chest, one not unlike that which he had felt when his heart had burst. It was unfamiliar, and he did not like associating discomfort with the thought of the slain sons of Corax. He cared not for them, degenerate and weak as they were, more for the investment that they had represented, and for the first time there he doubted what he was doing. Was it worth throwing away everything that his Legion had given so much for? The Great Crusade and Imperium in whose name they had bled and quietly died in their thousands, tens of thousands...to risk it all coming undone, to make it as though those ceaseless ranks of the iron-grey dead had lived and perished for nothing? It was an uncomfortable thought, one that Pelegon did his best to reject outright - the Olympian managed to clear it from his head, but knew that it was a temporary respite. It was not gone, merely suppressed. For the time being, he used it as fuel to push himself further forward, to ensure that they did not fail - failure here would be worse than continuing life under their Grandfather's yoke.

The battle was, it seemed, done for the XIXth legion, of whom few living remained - those that still breathed, Pelegon gave mercy to with the heel of his boot. Pathetic as they were, he would not have them suffer at the hands of the VIIIth legion, who would no doubt be scouring the battlefield for prisoners once the day was done. The Iron Warrior cut a lonely figure, a speck of grey in a sea of black and red, the din of battle a distant hum and thud of guns - and, more immediately, the screech of ceramite against ceramite.

The Iron Warrior turned abruptly and broke into a loping run, each ragged breath tainting his mouth with the rich flavour of his own blood from where shards of ceramite from his broken armour had been driven into his skin and had pierced his lungs. Presently, he moved around the smoking hull of a rhino, to see the source of the noise - two marines, one in red and the other in black, rolling around in the dirt, locked together in a fight to the death. The Raven Guard was on top, both hands clasped on a combat knife that he was doing his utmost to drive into the exposed neck of the helmetless Word Bearer, whose tattooed face was contorted into an expression that was half-hatred, half-fear - the latter had his hands pressed against the wrists of the former, holding him at bay, though only just.

Though his armour made clanking, grinding noises with every step, Pelegon had thus far gone unnoticed, so focused on each other were they, and so stepped forward, bringing the hammer back in one arm, and then swung it down, slackening his grip so the haft ran through his fingers, lending it length and increasing the hammer-head's momentum. It caught the XIXth legionnaire in the hip, shattering his leg in an explosion of electric energy and hurling him backward to crash against the rhino's charred flank, beaked helmet hanging down - by no means dead, but no longer a threat.

"My thanks, brother" the Word Bearer spoke, hopping to his feet, joining Pelegon to look at the slumped form of the black-armoured legionnaire. Upon closer inspection, the Iron Warrior saw that the Word Bearer's armour was covered in sigils and runes, none of which he could interpret, but one of them was particularly dominant and appeared many times in various lines - an eight-pointed star, which made the Iron Warrior's head pulse in a sickly manner that he did not appreciate.

"Weak. There was never a place for them in our ranks" the Word Bearer sniffed, and Pelegon bit back a response pointing out that he had been less than a centimetre away from being shortened by a head by those the XIXth legionnaire referred to with such disdain.

"You are a long way from your compatriots, brother. I thought that Perturabo's sons fought as one? A somewhat...blunt instrument, but its efficacy cannot be doubted. I am Zephon, Sergeant of the Graven Star chapter of the Word Bearers. It would have been tragic to have fallen when we are so close..."

Pelegon let the other marine prattle on, filtering out his words, and approached the fallen Raven Guard. He was starting to stir, but his movements were so pitifully weak that Pelegon decided that he did not need to look into his eyes. He brought the hammer up in both hands and brought it crashing down upon him, utterly obliterating him in a spray of gore and ceramite shards. However, even this exertion made his head pulse unpleasantly, and Pelegon realised that his injuries might be more severe than first suspected. Zephon, meanwhile, had not stopped talking since, and was now becoming more confident in his speech and mannerisms, falling into step with the hulking Iron Warrior with something of a swagger.

"...of course it was only natural that Ferrus Manus would not listen to The Illuminator, that much my Father told him beforehand. Our Father told many of them, including the Warmaster, whose ear he has, of what would come to pass, and so it has been. The Raven's wings have been broken, as has the will of the Nocturnians, upon the hammer and anvil of the IVth and XIIth legions. As we speak the last of the Xth flee with their father's body, though precious few remain. I hear that many fell to their knees as Ferrus died" Zephon nodded furiously, now in full sonorous tirade. Why did he think that Pelegon cared?

"Their will is gone, and so moves another Legion into the annals of history. Our great plan moves into its next-"

The Iron Warrior stopped and turned to face the Word Bearer, his head at an angle - great plan?

"And what does this plan entail, exactly?"

"By the Gods, you can talk after all. Well, the One True Pantheon, of course!" Zephon exclaimed, throwing his arms up in a manner that Pelegon assumed was one of praise "the Four Winds! The Chaos Gods! Surely you have been informed?"

Without a word, Pelegon drew his bolt pistol and shot Zephon in the face, the shot blowing off his lower jaw and shredding most of the skin of his face. The Word Bearer's face assumed an expression of stupid surprise as the Iron Warrior gave him a brutally hard shove that knocked him off his feet, and without even looking the Olympian emptied a second round, this time into Zephon's forehead, effectively deleting it.

“All members of the Fourth Company, heed me" came a familiar dry rasp through his helmet's vox "the Lord of Lies commands you to withdraw. Our work here is finished. First Claw, converge on my position. Let others waste their lives annihilating our defeated foe."

Still brooding over the Colchisian's last words, and their dark insinuations, Pelegon double-timed it over to Xandrek's position. He knew a little of the Chaos Gods, none of it good - this was something that would be of great interest to the Lord of Lies, as well as his own Warsmith. Moreover, it would ensure that the gates of both legions would be barred to further intrusions from the damned XVIIth.

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Everyone:
You all gather at Xandrek's location, coming there in ones or twos to find the Revenant has already touched down several meters away with its engines still whining from re-entry with Xandrek and Veptus stood to one side in muted conversation, a few meters away from them Apocathery Minoris Xheng crouched over Azrael fussing over the stumps that were once his left arm and both of his legs clearly preparing the wounds ready to be implanted with bionics or in the worse case scenario if the captain orders it: Becoming one of the 'Tormented', 4th Companies group of Dreadnoughts.

As you approach Xandrek turns away from Veptus he fixes each of you with his pure black gaze having discarded his ruined helmet that sits a few feet away, he nods to Pelegon when he arrives along with Corvis, Tyberus and Serhiy as they arrive before staring at Kesh with his black eyes. "It seems that we have a new blood joining out esteemed company. Who are you and why are you here?" Xandrek asks to Kesh with his eyes narrowed and upon receiving the warriors answer it simply motions towards the storm-eagle behind him.

"Everyone we are leaving, the battle has been won and those that have fled are being rounded up and destroyed. We are going to regroup back aboard the 'Maiden' and re-arm while awaiting orders from the First-Captain and the Primarch. We also have a reckoning with the 17th Company to attend to. Corpse-Master, you and your apprentice are to get Azrael back on his feet as quickly as you can." With that Xandrek motions for you all to follow him as he heads into the compartment of the 'Revenant'.

Boarding the 'Revenant' you take your positions within the restraint harnesses with Xheng once again carrying Azrael, as Xandrek goes to join the pilot in the cockpit and begins getting updates from the entire company. Leaving the rest of you to reflect on the battle of Isstvan and talk among yourselves for the durations of the flight back to 4th Companies ship. Upon reaching the 'Maiden of Sorrow' Xandrek turns to each of you and looks you up and down before speaking.

"Veptus, Xheng, Pelegon, Azrael get yourselves to the Apocatherion and get yourselves patch up. Veptus you are to make sure Azrael is ready for bionic replacements of the limbs he has lost, but see to Pelegon first." The captain motions to the Iron Warrior and all of you can smell the thick rich heart blood of Pelegon as his other heart is ruined. With that Xandrek simply turns and leaves the embarkation deck most likely either returning to his own quarters or to head down to the armory to get another suit of power-armour.

- - - - -

Azrael: OOC: You still need to post from the previous update, though you will be taken to the apocatherion and fitted with Bionics so make sure you work something out with Deus/Veptus.

Veptus: Along with Xheng, Azrael and Pelegon you make your way to the Apocatherion where some Xheng unceremoniously dumps Azrael down onto one of the medical beds before ordering two of the apocathery Minoris's to deal with his wounds before he moves over to you and begins to look you up and down taking in your injuries before speaking. "Master, allow me to deal with your own injuries before you begin your work on the Iron Warrior and our company champion. If I do not reset your broken bones now then it will impede your work when you need to operate on them." Xheng removes his helmet and hands it off to one of the apocatherion's human staff and stares at you with his somewhat youthful face, being one of the last recruits to of been taken from Nostramo ten years prior to it being destroyed by the Night Lord Fleet. (Feel free to take control of Xheng in your post as he deals with your own wounds and helps you with Pelegon and Azrael. So talk to the both of them awell.)

While your own wounds are being taken care of Sergeant Nyx and one of his brother Terminators enters the apocatherion with their heavy footfalls ringing on the steel deck. "Corpse-Master, it is good to see you are relatively un-injured with your run in with the Raven Lord. Myself and Brother Azoth are here to make sure he." Second Claw's Sergeant motions to Pelegon. "Remains here to go under your knife and have his injuries dealt with." With that Nyx and Azoth stomp over to Pelegon and begin a conversation with him before man-handling him down onto one of the medical slabs when you are ready to operate on him. After the few hours in the apocatherion needed to deal with your own and the others wounds, you have time to reflect on all that has happened and even get a detailed report from Nyx who took over command while you and First Claw were aboard the 'Revenant. (Send me a message and we shall work out a conversation.) Though you also remember that Xandrek could of been injured and simply didn't bother to come to the Apocatherion so you could search your captain out.

Pelegon: Along with Xheng, Azrael and Veptus you make your way to the Apocatherion (Though with some reluctance, but it is an order from your 'captain') where some Xheng unceremoniously dumps Azrael down onto one of the medical beds before ordering two of the apocathery Minoris's to deal with his wounds and moves off to begin work on Veptus's wounds. You can see that the apocatherion only has a four apocatheries in it not including Xheng and Veptus which you guess are there to keep up the work of implanting the recruits with all the needed organs to turn them into marines and to also work in any emergencies while Veptus is not around. You would definitely feel a lot weaker from the lose of one of your hears but that is why legionaries have two so that the other one can compensate until a replacement has been implanted or a bionic used instead, you know that you could likely to get to the armory to make your own replacement like any true Iron Warrior but as begin thinking of leaving the Apocatherion the fully armoured form of Sergeant Nyx appears in the door way along with one of his terminator brothers.

Sergeant Nyx has a short conversation with Veptus before him and the other terminator make their way through the apocatherion over towards you and stops before you removing his helmet and handing it to the warrior next to him. "Greetings again Iron Warrior, not planning on doing anything foolish like leave the Apocatherion when your running on only one heart?" You would see that Nyx is very clearly of Terra with his dark brown hair and his slightly darker skin, his face would be considered handsome for a post-human with well proportioned features. "Myself and Brother Azoth" He motions to the warrior next to him inclines his head to you. "Are here to make sure you follow the Captain's orders and have your wounds seen to by our Master Apocathery." Nyx then motions to Veptus before he turns his gaze over your armour and begins to have a conversation with you until Veptus is ready to operate at which point you find Nyx and Azoth keeping you where you are before dragging you down onto the medical slab. After Veptus has seen to your wounds and replacing your damaged heart with a bionic one (which you can eventually get replaced by one of your own making) You find yourself with time to do what you wish seeing as Xandrek has not summoned you.

Serhiy: Upon returning to the 'Maiden' you find yourself with some free time as the others see to their wounds most notably Azrael and Pelegon who are by far the most injured of First claw. Though you notice that you have picked up a new comer to the group and by the looks of him also the company as you turn to see Kesh standing at the end of the 'Revenants' boarding ramp looking around the embarkation deck of the 'Maiden'. Or you could return to the Apocatherion to get another check up after once again using the weapons of a Destroyer along with giving Veptus an update on how effective his new grenades were, or potentially you could go to see Sergeant Phalx to see what he and the remaining marines of 10th Claw intend to do, as after their run with Corax there are now only four of them where originally there was ten meaning that their squad is now severely under strength for any upcoming engagements.

Seeing as the captain has not issued any specific orders for you or the others it means that you have time to do what it is you wish, though you know that you should head down to the armory and get any of your wargear repaired that is damaged along with re-arming yourself with more grenades though to get any replacements for the ones that Veptus created you would need to go and see him personally. For now you may do what you wish aboard of the 'Maiden' though it would be suggested to keep an eye on the new-comer as you have no idea which Company or squad he originally hailed from or if he is going to be any good for First Claw at all.

Tyberus: Upon returning to the 'Maiden' you find yourself with some free time as the others see to their wounds most notably Azrael and Pelegon who are by far the most injured of First claw. Though you notice that you have picked up a new comer to the group and by the looks of him also the company as you turn to see Kesh standing at the end of the 'Revenants' boarding ramp looking around the embarkation deck of the 'Maiden'. You can choose to find out exactly who this new comer is as it seems he was just swept up in the return of Fourth Company to its ship which even now you can see the other transports are on their way back to the 'Maiden'. Xandrek has disappeared off into the ship somewhere, most likely either the Armory, the Bridge or his own quarters without having given you any instructions.

You are free to choose where it is you wish to go and what it is you wish to do aboard the 'Maiden' until you receive orders from Xandrek, one of the benefits of being one of the Captain's Command Squad. You could stick around and follow the new-comer Kesh or you could go restock your own war-gear down in the armory or perhaps go to the Apocatherion to find out how long it will be until Azrael is back on his feet with his new bionics or if Xandrek will simply have him interred within the armoured shell of a Dreadnought. (What ever it is you want to do during this update you can. So feel free to talk with the other players aswell if you speak with them in-character.)

Kesh: Arriving on the 'Maiden of Sorrow' you look around the hanger bay of the ship that belongs to the Fourth Company, and realize that this is the ship that belongs to Captain Xandrek 'The Lord of Lies', a captain supposedly favored by the Primarch himself and as such received his title from him personally, you know that with the Eight Legions very strange form of politics that Xandrek answers only to the First Captain and the Primarch making him perhaps one of the best captains to serve under, something you and your old squad didn't do. (What company were you originally?) You see what appears to be a Destroyer and a member of the Captain's own First Claw standing there watching you as the other members of the squad head towards the Apocatherion with the Captain himself disappearing down one of the corridors no doubt to get himself some new armour which you saw had been torn off of him almost completely.

Also from what Xandrek said to you down on the planet it seems that your now simply apart of Fourth Company and his squad meaning that you might wish to walk with some of your new battle brothers to find out exactly who they are, what position within the company and the squad they hold before going into the ship in search of a cell to claim as your own and eject any of its current occupants before going down into the armoury and re-arming yourself with what ever weapons you wish to use and getting any damage on your armour repaired. (Feel free to work something out with the other players if you wish to have a conversation with them.)

Corvis: Upon arriving aboard the 'Maiden' all of First Claw splits up with Azrael, Veptus, Pelegon and Xheng heading to the Apocatherion but not before Xheng turns to speak with you. "Return to the Apocatherion when you are ready 'Young Blood' and I will once again see to that face of yours, with any luck I might be able to salvage some of your original appearance though you wouldn't win a Beauty contest with one of the Phoenician's powdered peacocks." Xheng says with an exhalation between his teeth and a slight raising and lowering of his shoulders which everyone who has even known Xheng has come to realize its the closest thing to a laugh that he gives, then again the Eighth Legion isn't known for its light-hearted jokes as almost all of the humor is morbid and/or fatalistic, spoken during battles or as partially but rather bluntly concealed insults.

You can either follow Xheng and the others in going to the apocatherion or you may simply wander around the ship as you wish, perhaps going to the armory to have your armour scene to by the tech-marines there and replenish your ammo stocks. You could attempt to find the Captain but what you have learnt since becoming part of First Claw is that you never find Xandrek when you are looking for him, he always finds you or simply has you summoned over the vox network and given that he didn't even give orders to Veptus it means that the 'Lord of Lies' has no wish to be disturbed at the moment. From what you understand though with Azrael's near-suicidal attempt to stop the Raven Lord he has done something to displease the Captain, perhaps Veptus will know?

Already, you exalt me for my triumphs, When I ask only that you remember me for my treacheries

Victory is nothing more than survival.
It carries no weight of honour or worth beyond what we ascribe to it.
If you wish to grow wise, learn why brothers betray brothers. - Khyron, First Grand Master of the Eighth Brotherhood.
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The Revenant arrived and just as quickly as the 1st claw descended into the carrion to strike and decimate their former brothers did the now bloodied group leave the field. The Destroyer charred by his own instruments and covered in a thin slime composed of liquefied guardsman and chemicals giving him a sickly hue and an even more sickening stench would make an unaccustomed soul retch and vomit. There was an eerie calm now as the engines whined pulling the metallic beast back into the vacuum. The cacophony of rebellion being replaced with silence and what little grunts came from the group and most notably where the company's champion laid in pieces and his own mechanical respiratory system sounding like a deep sea diver. Unfortunately the Destroyer couldn't make out the stench of Pelegon's heart through his own heavily corroded nasal passage and the suits overtaxed filters. Serhiy thought in silence about what would be the next step for Azrael; would he end up in a dreadnought or simply be torn to pieces under the tender 'care' of Veptus and his vultures.

The Destroyer ruminated about where this would take the Legion and hadn't noticed the bird landing. The Maiden seemed welcoming to the 'triumphant heroes' and there seemed to be a slightly greater sense of fulfillment in the hull of the ship and Serhiy wasn't sure if it was just himself. He'd felt tarnished and stiff itching for the feel of true combat and that battle was more perfect than he could have ever hoped for. True Night Lord tactics striking with superior numbers against a surprised opponent and annihilating them; better yet they had annihilated space marines, the Emperor's finest!

Within the solitude of his helmet the Destroyer marine was grinning sickly.

The door to the Revenant descended and Xandrek stood an incredibly imposing figure with white limbs accenting the midnight blue of his armor made all the more imposing by his eyes that pierced as blackly as the void. "Veptus, Xheng, Pelegon, Azrael get yourselves to the Apocatherion and get yourselves patch up. Veptus you are to make sure Azrael is ready for bionic replacements of the limbs he has lost, but see to Pelegon first."

What was the significance of Pelegon? The Destroyer struggled to listen and picked out strained breathing; through the disgust Serhiy was able to pick up the faint metallic scent of blood. Was it one of his hearts? It mattered little. After the dismissal the Destroyer marine lingered a little studying the newcomer, a Kesh that made the 1st claw member uneasy. First they received an Iron Warrior, one of Perturabo's own. They weren't known for underhanded tactics but that coupled with the receiving of a fresh Night Lord from the planet's surface made it worse.

His knee could wait for now and the gaunt marine slowly crept towards the new marine bearing a shield and chainfist with the same posture as tiger stalking its prey waiting for an opportunity to strike. The flamer hung loosely in his grasp and he made sure to stay at just enough distance to retreat if the marine swung at him.




"A new blood. . . joining our esteemed company. . ."

--"Veres...Serhiy...a noted Destroyer. I am glad it is you. Your armour says that you serve with distinction; encountering the fire, yet ultimately surviving. Stoicism and endurance are traits I prize highly. I am grateful for our Lord's chance for me to learn alongside you."

The new blood took the time to remove his helmet in supplication. Either naďve or defiant it was an interesting move to unseal his armor and expose himself to the tools that the Destroyer used. He noted the pandering with flat silence. The tone the new blood spoke with was clearly aristocratic and mildly pompous or perhaps he was just so used to gutter speak. Serhiy took the time to unseal his helmet as well revealing a twisted sunken face covered in sickly burnt flesh and glassy yellowed eyes. He smiled only for a moment revealing corroded rotting teeth, all signs of the tools of his trade, before returning the helmet to its place.

The clicking and grinding respiratory system forced pauses as the Destroyer circled the newer marine seeking to put the newcomer between him and Tyberus. In the same manner as he was picked at by his now brothers when he first joined the company the hazing process that pervaded every aspect of the legion was no different here. Even more so for an untempered soul that came out of nowhere seeking a vaunted position among the Lord of Lies murder of crows.

"We've all earned our place here. . . What makes you deserving. . . of such a position? Tal-Zhen was a damned fool. . . His charred remains stand testament to that." The Destroyer put particular emphasis on the remark about charred remains hoping the hint was more than obvious with the chem-flamer resting in his gauntlet. He used his gangly height against the shorter Kesh and lurched above him. "Where did you serve. . . new blood?. . . What gang did you serve in?"

--"I served in the 19th Company under Captain Haresh Clay. Although I once saved one of his lieutenants, he barely knew my name, so he will not miss my absence. My given name is Kesh Trevas, but I have also since taken on the middle name of my former Sergeant, thus I am 'Keshyael' now.

"You won't find my name upon any gang roster, apart from in a list of their targets: my family was from luxury and privilege, not the streets. We once owned wineries and stables, soon all laid waste by criminals I was inducted alongside."





The newcomer shuddered, possibly in response to his visage, possibly in response to his profession but either way Serhiy had dominated the man if only for a moment.

--"Ah, I see you not only survive blazes, but now use them upon the foe...an effective tactic. Perhaps I might destroy shelters the enemy hides behind whilst you burn them out?"

--"I accept that I need to prove myself and that you will be watchful until I do. I am here by virtue of providence and our master's decision to accept me...I have survived this far in life by learning not to question either of these two things."


The bastard ended the sentence with a smile far too uncharacteristic of the shadow stalkers that put a degree of unease in the Destroyer's disposition. Once again either his defiance or his naivety was evident. . . Time would tell which was the case.

"Yes I will be watchful. . . It's never the murderer you worry about. . . They're intention is known. . . Worry for the smiling face. . that conceals a blades tip. . . As for you New Blood. . . Welcome to the First Claw. . . I wish you a healthy stay. . *aheh-heh-heh-heh*"

The disjointed laugh struggling against the respiratory system as the marine slowly backed away before turning around and moving down the hall towards the armoury.

If you need to get a hold of me my Skype is zhnthebox

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Having been approached by the Destroyer, Kesh had thought it could be a good start: not to 'win people over' and then betray them, but to actually find some more comrades in arms who are worth fighting for and alongside.

His squad had been all he knew...blood-oaths forged in the brutal proving grounds...never losing more than one member at a time until today. Now all were gone in heartbeats, cast as insignificant chaff into the tornado of demigods' sibling rivalry.

Although perturbed by the Destroyer's natural face, it only strengthened his own resolve to be faithful to the Legion.

He had thought to call after the veteran, trying to reassure him of his intentions, but knew it would serve no purpose...people were understandably wary. Although Serhiy's responses had left him cold, he saw it was a mirror to reflect his own naivety back at him: the only proof could be in battle and everything else was secondary.

With the rest of the unit already departing on their duties, Kesh replaced his helmet and approached a nearby Legion serf for directions to the armourer and quarters.
Whether it was from fear or just years of service, the human knew not to protest an Astartes’ wishes, leading him through welcomingly stark corridors that were inevitably emptier now due to the casualty roster.

Dismissing the lackey, Tal-Zhen’s former cell was appropriately sparse and quite free from blemish; apparently not one lose his cool when alone.
Pausing for reflection, Kesh didn’t look down on the ones who had been criminals, but knew that he still retained an element of longing for the trappings of his upbringing.

But today had brought it home: nobody cared if he lived or died. There would always be others, just like he had taken Tal-Zhen’s place. The only constants were loyalty and service.

With a brutality he didn’t know he was capable off, Kesh purged the childhood yearnings from his mind. This was now a chance to shine and he would not be found wanting.

Kesh set off to the armoury to have his wargear repaired – perhaps he might meet another from the unit there...

Urgently trying to trace any living relatives of Private Sam/Samuel "Jock" Wilson (Black Watch, No. 6 Commando, UK Army Service ID 2764432, died 10.06.44). Any info/suggestions gratefully received.

"Mockles! Pent on silpen tree, blockards three a-feening. Mockles! What silps came to thee, in thy pantry, dreaming?"

Please check out the HOES (Heresy Online Stories) threads and vote for the tales.
More feedback = better stories for everyone.

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Veptus lay back against the harness of the Revenant, grimacing slightly under his helm whenever the flyer would shudder and pull the harness straps taut against his mangled collarbone and ribs. He would definitely need that seen to when they got back to the Maiden. The new-comer, Kesh from some company Veptus hadn’t even bothered to retain, was something of a curiosity. The fractious politics of the VIIIth Legion meant many Astartes past between squads at the whims of themselves or their masters. He wondered how long it would be before the upstart began to try to climb the ladder of Xandrek’s favour and how long after that he would have to put the pup in his place. Pelegon had seen reason and adapted quickly enough, but other Night Lords were less reasonable. Often, it came to blood.

Veptus kept his ear open to the tales of the others regarding how their various personal battles on Isstvan had gone, but he kept his own council. His thoughts were still occupied by his meeting with the VIIIth Primarch. Although he maintained a close orbit t Xandrek, he had never been regarded by the Night Haunter until this day. He had only ever seen his father from afar. Although they were out of Isstvan’s atmosphere and Konrad Curze was many miles below, likely still carving red ruin through the Loyalist lines, he could still feel those abyssal black orbs piercing his soul. Even now he felt them questing, judging him. Veptus wondered if his encounter with the Primarch would lead to further audiences and, although he did his best to silence the thoughts, he wondered if that was truly what he wanted.

The Revenant touched down and it pulled Veptus from his introspection. He noticed very quickly the stench of viscera. It was a heady, metallic smell, a different cocktail to what he was used to. Clearly Pelegon had suffered catastrophic damage and from the small amounts of blood leaking from his cracked breast-plate, Veptus suspected it was either his heart or his lungs that had been severely damaged, if not destroyed in its entirety. As Xandrek left he bade Veptus to head for the Apothecarion and take care of himself, then Pelegon, then Azrael. He made it clear enough that Azrael would live, and preparation for bionic limbs made it apparent he would continue in some form other than the cold metallic un-death of becoming a Dreadnought. However, Xandrek was still sure to punish him for whatever his sin on Isstvan was and Veptus mused on how involved he would be in Azrael’s punishment. Although they could be considered friends, he would not defy Xandrek. That and there was something alluring about breaking the psyche of one so trusted. As always, the teachings of the Primarch would prove true; waywardness can only be perturbed by bloody retribution.

The four of them swiftly made their way to the Apothecarion . “I’m glad to see you made it Xheng…” Veptus commented idly as they walked “…it would have been so frustrating to have to train someone else to fill your position.” Xheng scoffed, it was as close as he’d get to an acknowledgment of his worth from Veptus. He was hardly a sentimental soul.
“And I see you survived your brush with the Raven Lord. It seems your devil’s luck continues to hold Primus” Xheng retorted.
“Don’t call it devil’s luck. Surprisingly I have no desire to participate in whatever madness currently holds sway over Bloody Bones”
“Aye, long may it be so. Although, I doubt you can do too much more to dismember him…” Xheng nodded at Azrael as the approached the Apothecarion. Veptus laughed an eerie laugh.
“You of all people should know there is still much I can do to him. The Captain need only give the word.” As Xheng unceremoniously dumped Azrael on a medical slab Veptus was sure he understood how precarious his position was now. Whatever bonds of friendship they had would not spare him from Xandrek’s wrath or Veptus’ blade.

Xheng ordered a couple of Apothecary Minoris’s to deal with the worst of Azrael’s wounds and Veptus removed his chestplate and helmet. His chest was a patchwork mess of bruises. His right pectoral was slightly caved in, indicating far worse wounds to his ribs than Veptus had suspected.

Xheng fussed about him Veptus nodded and waved him dismissively as he lay down. He felt the cold metallic kiss of his Minoris’s narthecium and everything below his neck began to feel numb. Although he had a great affinity for causing pain, he had no desire to experience it when it was not necessary. Xheng had injected him with a small semi-liquid disk which secreted hormones which bound with the nerve fibres below where it was injected, the disk itself preventing the same chemicals worming their way up his spinal column and disabling the neurons in his brain. He was still free to move his body and his limbs still felt pain, but they were deadened at his spine, barred from reaching his brain.

He heard Xheng’s chainblade attachment of his Narthecium cut away at his shoulder as Nyx walked in. Nyx and Azoth had been sent to subdue Pelegon, no doubt word having reached Xandrek of what it had taken to subdue Pelegon last time. The two began to struggle with the Iron Warrior. “Nyx, whilst I appreciate your assistance I very much doubt that will be necessary. I think our friend here, despite whatever notions of stoicism he may adhere to, accepts that he is in need of surgery and will comply…” Veptus fixed Pelegon with a quizzically avian stare before the Iron Warrior nodded shallowly. Slowly the two terminators released him. “…Lie back Pelegon, I will be with you shortly.” Xheng had reset his collarbone properly and coated it in an osteoblast secreting gel. His body would decompose it in a matter of hours, but by then his bone would be almost fully knit back together.

As Xheng moved to remove his rib-plate in order to examine his vital organs and the rib-plate itself, Veptus spoke. “While you are here Nyx, perhaps you would regale me with the stories of the wider battles fought today. And don’t leave out the interesting bits.” Veptus grinned mercilessly. Nyx chuckled, although Veptus always felt he had a certain nervous quality to his laugh as if he were only pretending to laugh and wasn’t sure if he was convincing enough.
“Ferrus Manus is dead.” Was his opening line. Veptus’s eyes widened in shock. Although no one said it, there was an unspoken belief that Primarchs were immortal.
“Well that puts to death that notion.” He muttered to himself.

“Slain by Fulgrim, so they say. Most of the rest of his Avernii we cut down by Fulgrim’s bastard Children. The report I’ve been hearing of the things they have been doing to the dead and dying almost put Bloody Bones to shame. The Salamanders have been resolutely obliterated, the XXth, the IVth and our kin took care of that. I heard Perturabo nuked Vulkan out of spite, but the reptile survived. He had to be beaten down by hand before he’d realise he was doomed the stupid nas’ethi…” Nyx swore in Nostraman.
“You said doomed, not dead?” Veptus interrupted. Nyx sneered.
“Oh, no. Far from it. Reports from the 8th Company are that the Primarch found him still breathing. A nuclear missile, innumerable blades and bolt shells later and he’s still alive. Although, I suspect when the Night Haunter is through with him he’ll wish he was. Perhaps he’ll even let you have a go, if you’re extra good. On a related note, our own casualties have been estimated at about 30% of our fighting capacity are either wounded or dead. I suspect the Apothecarion will be busy for some time yet Veptus.”

The thought of torturing a primarch was…exhilarating and worrying. Only one he had mastered Astartes physiology could he elicit the levels of response he wanted from his subject. A Primarch’s structure was all but unknown to him.
“You haven’t mentioned Corax yet. I was there; Curze had him in his talons. What happened to the Raven Lord?” Veptus commented noting that Xheng was almost done fusing his ribs back together, his work completed. Nyx’s face darkened.
“Do not mention the Raven Lord to the Primarch or Sevatar, not unless you are tired of living.”
“What happened Nyx?” Veptus almost growled
"What do you think happened? He snuck away, as he always does. Thousands of his legion escaped with him, plus stragglers from the other legions. Although all sources suggest they’ve done little more than choose a different place on this blasted planet to die, the Primarch was furious, a feeling I’ve heard he shares with our ‘Warmaster’.”

Veptus nodded to himself. Once more Xheng’s narthecium pierced his spine, this time removing the disk previously implanted. Now extracted, his body quickly metabolised the chemicals. Although it would take about an hour or so for his pain receptors to be as responsive as normal, feeling quickly returned to his extremities and as it did so he began to feel the first aches of his surgery.
“Much obliged Xheng.” Veptus said sitting himself upright again. He looked over at Azrael, stricken on the medical slab. He was not doomed but Veptus would not heal him totally until he knew what Xandrek had planned. “Get him prepped for his bionic limbs, but don’t attach them yet…” he told Xheng in hushed tones “…I will speak to the Captain before I restore him completely.” Veptus reattached his chest-plate. Time to get to work.

“Now Pelegon, normally I would anesthetise you, but I assume you won’t play along now will you?” Pelegon confirmed as much. Veptus sighed, it was as he suspected. “Can you believe that Azoth? He doesn’t trust me to only cut him open.” Veptus turned his head to the hulking terminator, his face feigning indignation. Azoth grunted.
“Shocking Corpse-Master. Truly this latest betrayal supersedes today’s, frankly, insignificant events.”
“I knew you’d understand…” Veptus turned his attention back to Pelegon. “…fortunately I have the same distain for general anaesthesia. So…” Veptus’s narthecium mirrored the incision Xheng had made on him “…you should be feeling numb below the incision point right about now. Now try to move your left hand.” Pelegon obeyed, his fingers twitching.

“The CSF implant coats the nerves in your spine so that they don’t receive pain signals, like insulating a wire…” Veptus spoke as he began his work peeling away Pelegon’s breastplate, sheering the metal rather than artfully removing it. The chestplate was a mangled mess and would need replacing anyway. Veptus had to ascertain the damage to Pelegon’s chest and he only wanted to remove as much of the chest-plate as he physically had to as it was probably helping to hold Pelegon’s vital organs in place. “…the pain signals never reach your brain. However, before you think about using your new found immunity to pain to batter your way out of the Apothecarion, the membrane-disc that secretes the chemical is a delicate thing. And over exertion of your spine can cause it to split and the chemical to flood your brain, cutting off all your neurons from all the other neurons in your brain and whilst you may have fewer to lose than the rest of us, it’s no more advisable.”

“So, Pelegon…” Nyx spoke at Veptus worked “…did you claim any glory for your Legion today? I’d hope it wasn’t some insignificant legionary that wounded you thusly, otherwise we might need to assign someone to baby-sit you.” Pelegon’s lip twitched in a momentary sneer. Veptus didn’t doubt he was weighing up the ability to reach out and throttle Nyx with Veptus’s hand beginning to cut away at his chest and a precarious CSF implant. Obviously he decided not to retort now, but even if he did later Nyx was capable to taking care of himself. One did not rise to being lieutenant to the 4th Captain by chance.

As Pelegon recalled his fights on the black sands of Isstvan below, Veptus focused on his work, Although coated in adimantium, Veptus’s narthecium could still get through his ribplate although the fact that it was practically shattered into shards helped too. Veptus removed each shard individually, constructing a macabre jigsaw to the side of him until he had a square hole in Pelegon’s chest and all the pieces arranged. He called a junior apothecary over to begin reassembling Pelegon’s ribplate. The adimantium coating it made it easier than fusing bone. They merely had to fuse the metal together and it would hold the bone in place while it healed.

While his junior worked on the ribplate, Veptus examined his organs. The most significant damage was Pelegon’s primary heart. Shreds of it lay scattered around the chest cavity and Veptus removed them. The heart had simply exploded in his chest. One of his lungs also had a massive rent in it, causing it to permanently deflate. Veptus closed the hole and the lung began to re-inflate, and he also began so suture several perfusions inside the chest cavity. There was significant trauma to his second lung as well as the beginning of his digestive tract. His small intestine had accrued several blood-blisters where there was bleeding within the lining of the intestine. Veptus stopped the bleeding and released the pressure of the blisters.

The conversation between Pelegon and the rest of those present was beginning to lull and Veptus was nearly finished. He excised himself from Pelegon’s chest and went collect the bionic heart he would use to replace the one Pelegon had lost. He could replace it with a flesh one either now or at a later point using DNA from Pelegon’s own tissue but he suspected that having a bionic heart would he the dour Iron Warrior’s preference. Returning with the metallic replacement in hand, Pelegon handed him a storage-vial stored at his waist, requesting that he re-attatch his true hand instead of the poor bionic one he currently possessed. Perhaps he was wrong about the Iron Warrior’s desire to keep bionics. Veptus took Pelegon’s vial silently, nodding in acknowledgement and placed it to one side. Veptus quickly sought, found and connected the severed arteries to the new bionic heart. As soon as they were all in place, the bioelectrical energy activated the machine which began to tick over a steady rhythm.

“And you Veptus…” Azoth addressed him now that the conversation had clearly drawn to a close. “…any new trophies from this most recent war?” Veptus smirked viciously as his junior apothecary returned Pelegon’s repaired rib-plate to him.
“If you are curious whether I did my duty, have no fear Azoth. Several of Corax’s gene-smiths lie dead by my hand, something that is sure to only rub salt in the considerable wounds of our corvine cousins. Many more are maimed or dead, as is always the case…” Veptus finished fusing the ribplate back together and began to sew up the open chest before moving onto Pelegon’s hand as he continued. “…in war like this. But facing Legionaries is such poor sport. They’re only ever indignant or furious. They are angry without comprehension that they are not different than us, save that their Primarch’s are idle fools chasing a dream that cannot be whilst we understand that acts of brutality are necessary. Besides…” Pelegon’s bionic hand came away with relative ease and Veptus took his original flesh one from its casket and began to reattach tendons, muscle and key veins. “…they all have this wide eyed wonderment that’s a mixture of shock, incredulity and horror, as if they have never faced a dagger in the back…”

Veptus sniggered mirthlessly to himself as he sewed Pelegon’s skin back together. He finished and looked as Azoth as he began to rinse the sinner’s red from his hands lest others confuse his duty for a sentence. “…it’s quite quaint really.” His narthecium reached round and retrieved the CSF implant from Pelegon’s spine. “You should regain the feeling in your limbs soon enough, although the full effects will take a few hours to wear off. Feel free to exercise your arm, but try not to damage it again so soon, else I might think you are trying to find reasons to be down here. Though if that is the case…” Veptus wiped the last of the blood from his hands and chestplate, before flashing his psychopath’s smile at Pelegon “…that can be arranged.” His eyes darted between Nyx and Azoth who nodded shallowly back at him, sharing in his jest. “Well gentlemen, I shall leave you. I must locate our Captain. Xheng…” his Minoris looked up from his work on Azrael for a moment. “… have him prepared for his new limbs by the time I return. No doubt the Lord of Lies will have something planned for him, and I would know what it is before continuing.” With that Veptus left the Apothecarion.

His intuition taught him that Xandrek would most likely be in his personal chambers. Xandrek often preferred to be insolation, bound only to the duties of his writing desk although Veptus was not quite sure what he ever wrote about. Certainly no Remembrancers had lasted very long on the Maiden, even when the Imperial Decree to entertain those mewling artists had meant anything to the VIIIth legion. Azrael had cast a pall over Xandrek and so Veptus decided to enact an old tradition, something with a significance known only to him and Xandrek. His vox crackled into life “Naomi…”
“Yes Lord Veptus.”
“Bring one of the unmarked crystal decanters and two glasses to Xandrek’s study, post haste.”
“Yes m’lord.” The link died and Veptus made his way to Xandrek’s study.

His own quarters were closer than the Apothecarion and so he found Naomi dutifully waiting outside. She would not risk the ire of the Captain by disturbing him, favoured as she was by Veptus. He took the platter bearing his offering from her and released her to her other duties. He entered Xandrek’s study and set the platter down on a small side table he had in his sparsely furnished room. Xandrek was intent on staring at his accumulated weapon wall. Veptus noted one plinth was bare, it was the plinth belonging to the Captain’s bolter. Clearly it lay somewhere down below.

Veptus began to pour the dark ochre liquid into the shallow, stocky glasses provided as he spoke. “Nyx speaks positively of the battle. Dead and wounded account for only 30% of our numbers, which I imagine is better than most. The Gorgon is dead along with his Morlocks, and the Salamander’s fate is in the Primarch’s hands now. A manhunt for Corax is underway since the Raven Lord managed to evade capture or death, although that’s hardly surprising. The only Primarch more slippery than him is Alpharius himself.” Veptus giggled softly to himself.

"But that's not why you are here instead of the apothecarion, letting me preen as it my duty..." Veptus sighed, picking up the two tumblers full of dark liquid. "...It's Azrael isn't it?" He placed one on his Captain’s writing desk just behind Xandrek, and took a sip from his own. It was a tradition between the two men's fathers, whenever difficult decisions had to be made this concoction was broken out and shared. It was less of a tradition between him and the Captain, but whatever was bothering Xandrek the message was clear; Veptus stood with him, as he always had.

Xandrek finished hanging his sword on its assign place before turning to Veptus, clenching and unclenching his fists.
"Azrael spared one of the Raven Lords company Champions, Veptus. And because of such it makes me question his loyalty and not only that but I have gotten reports that said Champion slew twelve members out Fourth Company. Eighth Claw is now under half strength and Sergeant Nilhus as you have probably seen in the apocatherion will require extensive Bionics." Veptus had not seen Nilhus yet, perhaps he lay in one of the adjacent rooms. The sergeant shared a gang link with both Xandrek and Veptus, although Veptus could think of no reason why Azrael would bear a grudge against him.

Veptus hmmm'ed to himself and glanced over to Xandrek's writing desk, briefly wondering if he could discern Xandrek’s subject matter from the scattered notes. He considered this only briefly before returning to the conversation in hand.
"No doubt the scale of slaughter soured his Terran sensibilities. Although, perhaps it is not his loyalty that should be questioned, but his commitment to do what is necessary. I do not question his loyalty necessarily, no doubt some misguided sense of it was what made him spare the Raven Guard. Perhaps he has simply lost the stomach for war. In either case..." Veptus smirked "...he's just as useless to you." Veptus drank another sip from his glass.

"However,..." Veptus turned to face Xandrek "...the Raven Guard I can at least rationalize, even if it proves him a fool. It is the slaughter of the Eighth Claw I question. By whatever hypocritical code of honour he clings to, Azrael is not one for wanton slaughter. Either he has gone mad, or he has truly betrayed you..." Veptus wondered, if that were the case, if he would be handed Azrael to deal with, or if Xandrek would entrust that to someone else. "...or someone else has picked a very opportune moment to blame your Champion."

Xandrek picked up his glass for the first time and raised it modestly to Veptus, who reciprocated the gesture. He took a sip and savoured the liquid. It was a Nostraman vintage, harvested from the moon-grapes that grew in the false light of the stars that only faintly illuminated their destroyed birth-world. They were bitter and metallic to the taste, a flavour Veptus estimated to be something akin to the combination of blood and vinegar. It was an acquired taste to be sure.
"It was Azrael himself, I have reports from several squad leaders along with the sworn accounts of over twenty battle brothers who saw him allow the Raven Guard to run." Xandrek fixed Veptus with a stare for a moment, and Veptus felt it mirror the probing glare he had received from Konrad earlier. Xandrek was truly his father’s son.

His corpse-pale face cracked into the hint of a rictus grin as Xandrek broke his stare to study the glass he was holding. "There must not be much of that left Veptus, or did you manage to secure several bottles from our homeworld before we cracked its mantle?" Xandrek waved a hand, confirming that he wasn’t really interested in the answer. "I have the makings of Azrael's punishment in hand. Upon returning to the apocatherion you are to speak with Tech-Marine Zho-Zhang. He has been given orders to prepare for Azrael a new helmet which you will need to help the champion into."

Veptus grinned his unhinged smile and drained his glass to half way. Xandrek was teasing him.
“I’m almost tempted to ask what it is I will be helping him into....” Xandrek met him with one raised eyebrow. Veptus cocked his head. “…almost. But then, I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise from myself.” Xandrek gave a brief, quiet nasal laugh. Veptus put his half full glass back on the platter with the decanter. “When you deem it appropriate, I still hold it as my duty to confirm your bill of health and so I would like to see you in the Apothecarion. However, you don’t appear to be dying so I’m sure such formalities can wait until we have concluded our duties here. I shall return to our ‘esteemed Champion’ and will ‘assist’ him in any way I can.” Veptus bowed as he went to leave.
“See that you do so Corpse-Master.” Xandrek said suddenly stern. Clearly whatever he had designed for Azrael was enough punishment and the Captain did not see the need to leave him at Veptus’s mercy. Veptus left his Captain alone with his weapons and his thoughts and returned to the Apothecarion to resume his duties. Now that the battle was over, Nyx was right, he would likely have a lot of work to do…

My contribution to the Renegades saga. Check it out

My growing IIIrd legion stuff:

17th Millenial (Homebrew Fluff) - "Children of the Emperor, death to his foes!" (Project Log)

Also my 30k tacticas, for those of you interested:

Crusade Army List tactica - Individual Legion tactica

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel of Blood View Post
And for two fucking grand, I could buy enough rum and hookers to 'artistically' recreate the better part of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Last edited by Deus Mortis; 04-05-15 at 07:28 PM.
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