Veptus listened to Raskreia’s and Azrael’s words on Var. The half machine whoreson was problematic to be sure and traitorous without a doubt. He was certain the both of them felt he was being uncharacteristically kind towards the techmarine. In truth it wasn’t being kind, it was manipulation. The Night Haunter had taught them that foes should be scared to rebel. Fear should grip their hearts. Their limbs should freeze at the thought of rebellion or taking arms against their masters. Astartes, even those as inhuman Var, could be forced into compliance. They did not feel fear, but they were mortal and could feel dread. Veptus knew that more than most. To Veptus, the effort to force Var into compliance was worth it, for the techmarine was almost as skill at his craft as Veptus was at his.
However, given Xandrek’s next words, Veptus wagered that he would have to get use to a new techmarine. A shame, but necessary he supposed. “Your suggestions are noted my Brothers and once we have finished on Isstvan we shall deal with Var’s insubordination once and for all, For now I want the three of you to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t get up to any ‘mischief’ until he has been dealt with.” Xandrek shifted his weight before he next spoke. Veptus watched the mortals. None of them spoke, either because they dared not to or because they wanted to hear the conversations of demi-gods. His steely gaze hovered over each of the mortals before Xandrek’s voice snapped his attention back to the dais.
“Veptus…” Veptus nodded, ready to serve “…We are sure to sustain casualties at Isstvan, not only to Fourth but the entire legion. Make sure all Apocatheries on-board have been briefed to gather the gene-seed of any fallen Night Lords along with destruction of Salamander, Raven Guard and Iron Hand gene-seed which you can get your hands on. The three of you are dismissed.”
“As you say my lord.” All three of them bowed to their lord before turning to leave, each of them having duties to attend to before the impending battle. As they left, Veptus caught Xandrek speak again. “You there, get me a channel to First Captain Sevatar. I want to speak with the ‘Prince of Crows’.”
“Now what do you suppose that is about?” Veptus whispered both to the two marine’s to his side and to himself.
As arguable the three most exalted members of the First Claw walked through the cold metal corridors, Veptus was once again struck by the vast emptiness of the ship which the called home. He very rarely left the Apocatherion for reasons other than to speak with Xandrek. Most other came to him, and he was well known to take his rests on one of the operating tables of the Apocatherion. There were always people, living or dead, in the Apocatherion to keep him company, even when all the other Apothecaries tended to other duties. It was a finite space that he knew every inch of and had arguably shaped to his liking. By comparison, the rest of the ship was bland and, in preparation for battle, mostly vacant except for the scant few mortal scurrying about. Sometimes, Veptus forgot there was a ship outside of his dominion.
"Well that was interesting hearing that Xandrek wanted to talk to First Captain Jago.” Raskreia spoke. “But why send me down to fetch the others like a grox hound? If the Captain sent either of you they would listen without compunction as they know they are no match for you Azreal even with numbers you would most likely still walk away from the fight a bit battered but still whole while they would fear what you would do to them while on your table Veptus and would follow…” Veptus couldn’t help but smile at the reputation of his work. Their father would be proud that word of his ‘retribution’ caused even Astartes to reconsider their actions. Such a thought never failed to make Veptus proud.
Veptus continued to wear a proud smirk as Raskreia continued. “…Sending me seems a bit more diplomatic but more troublesome as well, at least for me. Though that may be why Captain is sending me instead as I would simply play upon the fear they hold of him and get them moving whereas you, Azreal, might be tempted to just cut a hand off or two especially from Zhasal. While you, Veptus, would merely torture the poor fools when they next rest upon your "tender mercies" we all know about. Though talking about it out loud seems to have brought me to a conclusion and I apologize for talking your ears off again."
“I myself find talking out loud to my patients helps me reach conclusions. However, there is an option that you haven’t considered.” Veptus added. Raskreia turned his head to look at Veptus, begging the question of what he had missed. “They might simply be more afraid of you lecturing them for so long that they miss the battle of Isstvan, so would come without a word.” Veptus laughed a soft but honest laugh. Astartes humour was often stunted and awkward, and Veptus was certainly no comedian. However, he felt his joke had merit and so he chuckled, even if no one else did.
“On that note…” Veptus said as he stopped and turned his full body to face his brothers. “…I’m afraid I must leave you. Apothecaries to brief and all.” Veptus bowed his head slightly to both of the few Astartes he truly respected or called ‘brother’ with and sincerity. With that he turned and left the pair, swiftly making for his lair. He strolled boldly through the doors of the Apocatherion and was greeted with Xheng and the other members of the Apocatherion waiting at ease. He stopped and grinned his psychopath’s grin once again. “Brothers…” He hissed as they stood at attention. “…today, is a good day.” With a slow and controlled wave of his hand, they stood at ease again. Veptus looked over each of them. He was Chief Apothecary and was moulding them into his likeness. Jaekal could keep his baying hoard of faithfuls, this was the only company Veptus needed.
“As you well know, we will be on the surface of Isstvan very soon. We are about to betray our ‘cousins’ and strike fear into an Imperium that thinks itself safe. We shall prove that notion false.” The got him a few grins and smirks from this small cadre of sombre murderers. “You all know your duty to preserve the legion. However, we are given an extra duty by our captain today. We are to destroy the legacy of our cousins. Their gene-seed is forfeit to us, and we shall wrench it from the still living bodies and destroy it before their eyes.” Veptus’s fist was held in front of him and he closed his ceremite clad fingers in a memory of a deed he had done many times before.
Hardly to his surprise, the arrayed Apothecaries were more than happy with Xandrek’s ‘request’, if anything their lord said could be considered a request. They mumbled amongst themselves, anticipating the battle to come. “One final thing…” Veptus’s voice cut all conversations short. “…this is my request to you. Kill every apothecary. I don’t care who else you kill, but find our cousins and cut their hearts out. If of our cousins manage to escape, I want no one who can treat their wounds alive. If they don’t die on the sands of Isstvan, I want them to have a slow and painful death. I want them to feel every second of their miserable lives tick away knowing that there is no one to continue their legacy.”
There was a chorus of agreement. This was meant to be a decisive strike, but rarely in any theatre of was could total annihilation be achieved. Most likely to slip away were those of the Raven Guard, but when you were trying to cull a legion, there was always the possibility a few would slip through the net. He wasn’t going to make it a command for the other Apothecaries, but he would take himself a trophy. He wanted to capture an officer of the other legion, and see if he could turn him. That would be an achievement. Slaughter his brothers and then break him. Veptus’s lips contorted into a gleeful smile. “Brothers, we strike in midnight clad!” The Apocatherion was briefly filled with the noise of cheering. Veptus smiled. These warriors were his, and with them, he would destroy legions…