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post #41 of 54 (permalink) Old 03-19-14, 11:17 PM
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Thirteen suppressed a grunt borne from pain, the needle in the mysterious black clothed figure’s fingers punching into his spine. Cold fluid seeped into the flesh around the spinal column, shooting up into his superior brain and activating everything thought eradicated by amnesia. He glanced around, stern gaze peering into a bleak past rather than his surroundings. The humble chapel, he assumed that was what it was, began to fade altogether into a battlefield. One beautiful grassland chocked dark and black on the outskirts of a nameless metropolis.


Alaric kept his las-gun leaning on his drooped shoulders, strong in the face of drowsiness that had overcome the remainder of first platoon. Guardsmen clothed in storm grey fatigues and outfitted with grim-camouflage pattern flak vests remained cramped up shoulder to shoulder in a random Chimera. Sergeant Mikhail’s outline shifted in and out from behind the Chimera driver’s chair. Their presence flickered in the waves of shade stemming from an incoming thunderstorm. The light inside the hull painted the world in very dim beige, dark enough that nothing seemed visible unless someone intentionally leaned into the walkway.


Beyond the reinforced plating, metal squealed and squelched from a myriad of destructive weapon emplacements. The P.D.F. answered with waves of return fire until the entire field devolved into a cacophony of endless death and ear-bursting devastation. First platoon had gone silent. Their choice of sealing their thoughts and fears away before a battle they haven’t fought in became a little tradition among the men. Every new conflict they dove into always reminded him how green and untested the enemy found them to be. This hull once filled itself with vomit and wailing, or crude jests and headstrong defiance. No one can stay that way and live, unless he wanted to live without everything fully intact.


“Tunaris!” Mikhail is suddenly up and barking commands, designating each soldier with a laser turret fixed on the vehicle’s flanks. “Get your ass on that heavy bolter! Give ‘em hell and try not to shoot yourself!”


Alaric nearly shattered the scope on his rifle with a shove into the weapons locker beside him. He cursed under his breath. Alaric leapt from his seat the moment the ride began to get violent. Mikhail threw him towards the ladder and he immediately began the climb into the turret hatch. He threw an arm over his eyes to shield them from the wind. The other took the heavy bolter by the handle. Thunder cracked a fraction of a second before lightning split the air in a flurry of strikes.


The metropolis on the horizon now loomed over them like a gateway into some other world. Structures on the city’s edge blossomed with bright streams and blinding flashes of light, enough weapon discharges to harass an assault force storming the urban fortress across their entire front. Fourth Company’s mechanized platoons crested steep hills, diving into the lowlands occupied by hastily built trenches teeming with an opposing infantry regiment. Elements of armored divisions were split into pockets along the swathe of fortifications, thinning out the hammer coming down on the anvil.


Las-fire erupted from the first trench, leaving a hundred scorch-marks on the Chimera’s plating. Anti-vehicular weapons unleashed a salvo the moment the Imperials crossed into twenty meters within range. Alaric leaned into the turret wall, the turret spinning round in both hands, and squeezed on the trigger. Twenty cases ejected in a short spray, another thirty, followed by forty until he realized that small burst could prove effective. Bodies visible over the lip of the trench burst like bags filled with blood, he counted nearly a dozen from the fifty soldiers ducking back into cover.


Auto-cannon bullets whizzed through the air now wet with freezing rains, Alaric pulled him down and let them fly overhead. He predicted the pause and pushed himself back into view, finger tightening the trigger in a slew of fragmentation shells. The earth around the trench went up in distinctly loud pops, spraying the grunts dug into their entrenchments. A few fanatically brave souls remained vulnerable pouring fire into the Mechanized companies’ mere feet from fording the trenches. Alaric combined his killing zone with few dozen other turrets, scything them down without effort. Far too simple for any Guardsmen, let alone a heavy weapons expert like himself.


No one ever really believes how simple things can be, until they realize that the bliss of simplicity is usually someone else’s clever ruse. Three dozen armored vehicles roared over the first trenches, never realizing their mistake when the fortifications heaved up in one massive tidal wave of mud, soil, and gore. The force from the invisible detonations obliterated what on-ground infantry the Imperials had. Leman Russ Tanks and Griffon mortar vehicles rolled aside like tumbling rocks. Even then, the Fourth Company grinded to an abrupt halt, still mostly intact.


“Tunaris, get your ass down here, trooper!”


No hint of the Metropolis remained visible beyond the screen of billowing flames and charred ember-
smoke. Alaric took advantage of the lull in the battle and slid down the ladder back into the belly of the hull. His boots slammed into the cold steel, Mikhail immediately pointed toward the shattered windshield three of his squad mates were toiling in front of. They pulled the mutilated bodies from the driver’s seats with some effort. “Shit, Corporal, I guess it’s your lucky day! You’re the only one I know who even knows how to steer one of these things.”


“Don’t worry, Sarge’,” Alaric maneuvered around the other side of the ladder toward the driver’s seat. He called out from behind the wheel, brushing off blood stained glass shards from the chair. “I got this!”


Las-fire zipped through the narrow windowpane, slamming into interior around Alaric by the time he applied his foot on the petal. The Chimera revved into the muddy murk of the grasslands, pushing alongside the remnants of the armored column already surmounting the mound of dirt where the trenches used to be. Las-cannon fire punched through the side armor, the blast punctuated by someone’s scream. Multi-laser fire strafed the scattering cultists lying in wait beyond the mound. Those on the far flanks were cut down whether they ran or tried to fight. Artillery pounded the outskirts until the outlying structures crumpled in a storm of dust and debris.


The plan ran through Alaric’s mind in a blur, he knew where he needed to go and what to do afterward. Together, the P.D.F. roved past the second trench and weathered incoming fire from the third and fourth. Miraculously, Alaric managed to ford the last of them. He slammed his boot on the brakes and tugged down the rampart lever. He was already on his feet and sprinting down the hull toward the opening ramp behind First Squad. He ripped his weapon free from the locker and followed hard on Mikhail’s heels into slick muddy thigh-length grass.


Hundreds of the Planetary Defense Force was in the midst of a backwards charge. They poured from
their transports straight into the writhing mess happening in the trenches. Alaric leapt in behind Teventus, bringing his bayonet down into a cultist’s chest trying to attack his friend with a mace. He pulled the bayonet down, cutting deep across the chest into the ribcage. The traitor fell to his knees, screaming out with a hand over the wound. Alaric kicked him into the mud, in time to swing the butt of his rifle in a reverse block. The shotgun-wielding fanatic he parried had his weapon fire into the soil of the trench wall. Mikhail’s plasma pistol shot once and tore a burning hole into the foe. He passed away without much fight.


Teventus and Aspis used their machetes to hack into the wall of cultists too pressed against each other to fight back effectively. An entire squad went down to their frenzied slashes before the last of the insane-eyed soldiers could free themselves and strike back. A desperate one barreled Aspis over, throwing an elbow into Larus’ nose so powerful the soldier collapsed with his back against the wall. Alaric unleashed a burst and caught him three times in the chest.


Shouts followed from behind him. More cultists rushed from the tunnels, this time protected by large riot shields that las-fire could not burn through. Mikhail shouldered Alaric aside before the first auto-cannon blasts could cut him down. He fell under a burst meant for himself, took a grenade from his pocket and threw it at the bottom of the massive riot shields. “First Squad, charge!” Mikhail’s words echoed just before the deafening blasts that nearly stole Alaric’s balance.


Energy blasts punched into the mass of wild men, who had collapsed backwards into each other by the grenade blasts. Mikhail and Teventus trampled the riot shield wielders under their boots. The Sergeant fired into the flurry of reckless las-pistol fire trying to score a kill. He stabbed into the Cultists with a power sword, whom were rapidly coming up to their feet. Teventus opened fire and sprayed down nearly a dozen on full-auto, combining his kill rate with Mikhail to share another dozen between themselves.


More Defense troops reinforced their assault, until the trenches practically swarmed with Imperial soldiers. More and more vehicles forded the trenches, grinding past to enter the city outskirts for a much larger fight. The combat down in the entrenchments began to calm down. Only rain assailed both the living and the fallen. Alaric leaned against the trench, cradling an arm riddled with three bullet wounds. Bellows of victorious war cries rang out from every point along the captured fortifications. The banners rose to signal the triumph of the P.D.F.


Thirteen shook the memories out of his head. He looked into his reflection on the floor, barely recognizing the man he used to be those many years ago. Suddenly, everyone inside this chamber became recognizable. All of them were acquaintances in some secret project. Now he could guess their purpose to an extent. There will always be a goal, but Thirteen could not see the silver lining yet. The blood-crazed army from his memories made him think. He suppressed his utter loathing and hatred for them. They brought to Chemorus nothing but suffering and death. Perhaps they would wish their test subjects to fight as war machines for their own cause? Perhaps their intentions were far less noble and more hidden than he thought?”


“You,” Thirteen stared pointedly in One-Twenty-Eight’s direction. “You ran. While all of us were fighting like hell for our lives! Where the hell do you get off initiating a fight you chose to run away from!?”

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
-Glen Cook, The Black Company


Tales of Heroism and Bravery, in the 41st Millennium and the Old World. Perhaps some Realm Gate Wars in the future .

Gods' Hall (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=161618

The New Word (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=121879

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post #42 of 54 (permalink) Old 03-20-14, 12:33 AM
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Two-Seven-Two spoke first, emphasising his words with a deep, throaty chuckle. One-Two-Eight fixed him with a stare, his eyes like shards of ice, and peeled back his lips in a cruel, lightless smile. His leaned forwards, gripped his knees tightly, and sniffed. His companions stank, like blood and smoke, a curiously appealing scent. The one marked Thirteen, equally as pockmarked and bloody as Two-Seven-Two, glared venomously at One-Two-Eight. His words were quick, spouted forth from a barbed, accusatory tongue. One-Two-Eight tilted his head, relishing in the threat of violence that bubbled, festered and lashed, beneath Thirteen's words.

'I do not,' One-Two-Eight said, calmly, coldly. 'Like your tone, friend.'

He longed for the stun-baton, suddenly. His hands, as massive and strong as they were, felt insufficient. He glanced at the black-clad figures nearby, armed and armoured like beetles, and sighed. There were five of them, and save for the one administering medical aide to the group, they seemed remote, distant. They were watchers who, most entertainingly, didn't same to care for their wards. Who are you?

'Aye, I ran,' One-Two-Eight admitted, still smiling. 'But I did not initiate any fight. Those men were coming for us, whether we liked it or not, and I did not fancy our chances. So, I retreated. I turned whilst the option was still viable,' He brushed his fingertips over his lips. He considered his next words for a second, before continuing, voice falling into a low, husky purr. 'You are the fools for not joining me.'

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

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

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'

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post #43 of 54 (permalink) Old 03-25-14, 12:57 PM
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There was something deeply disconcerting about the noise that One-Two-Eight made as he inhaled air sharply through his nose. Two-Seven-Two felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up briefly and supressed the shiver he felt brewing from the feeling like he was being examined like a cut of meat. In the face of such a predator, you could not flinch or show fear or trepidation. Thirteen broke the silence with angry words which tumbled carelessly from his mouth. One-Two-Eight’s head turned and tilted, the other man’s words having provoked him like a bull prod striking a wild beast. What he imagined their watchers had imagined would be a calm reunion was escalating to a fulcrum where violence would certainly occur.

Two-Seven-Two saw One-Two-Eight’s eyes dart at the men in black, who never moved or spoke in a way to suggest anything other than they were free, but all of them knew that their freedom was limited to what their custodians deemed acceptable. Perhaps he was looking to see if they would intervene. One-Two-Eight’s voice dropped into a tone meant to either allure or intimidate, he wasn’t quite sure, and accused them of idiocy. Two-Seven-Two barked a single “Ha!” and its echo reverberated around the room, as if he had just discharged a gun. Two-Seven-Two’s mouth contorted into a sneer and his voice dropped to imitate his comrade’s “Because that worked out so well for you.”

Before he continued, he chuckled again. He was sure that it would infuriate One-Eight-Two but that was just a fortunate by-product of the fact that he found it genuinely amusing that he thought them the fools. He stood up, his head swimming slightly before coming back to the center. He walked as he spoke, slowly making his way around their collection of benches. “You ran off on your own, in no particular direction, considering none of us knew the layout of this facility. You also knew that your foes would greatly outnumber you and although having allies would have helped even the scales, you chose to abandon the only ones you had with nary so much as a suggestion to follow..." By this point he was outside of One-Eight-Two's peripheral vision so he would have to turn his head to watch where Two-Seven-Two was. He would be interested if the man didn't.


"...Then you find both armour and, likely, weapons judging by what’s left of that flight-suit you have there. Now given that we have clearly been part of some experiment and are valuable, hence those guards wanting to capture us alive and relatively unharmed, your wounds tell me that you encountered the same lunatics we did. Except you had armour and weapons at your disposal, and still you failed and ended up in the same place as us, likely only by the intervention of these soldiers. So not only are you just as much of a fool for abandoning those who might have helped you, but you are also inept." As he finished is analysis of One-Eight-Two's failure, he was behind the man. He leaned in, his cheek brushing against the other man's ear before his voice dropped to a whisper "Is there anything I missed?” He smile, and pulled away, making his way back behind his seat, but opting to stand instead of sit. Two-Seven two was certain the man would try to fix him with the icy stare he seemed to wear so naturally. It would take much more than bared teeth to intimidate him…

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post #44 of 54 (permalink) Old 03-25-14, 02:46 PM
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Two-Seven-Two's barked laugh broke the silence like a gunshot, echoing throughout the chapel's pillared chamber. One-Two-Eight did not look at him, eyes still fixated on Thirteen's broad, blood-flecked features. There was a glaze to Thirteen's rich, amber eyes - Anger, a sense of betrayal, of victory. He was tall, not quite as tall as One-Two-Eight, but certainly nearing the larger portion of the assembled group. Perhaps only Claw-Hand and Wrong-Skin, both besides One-Two-Eight, dwarfed him. In the previous confusion, where the group had been so vehemently beset upon, One-Two-Eight had not caught Thirteen's fighting skills, but there was something about his bearing, about the way his words trembled with rage, that made One-Two-Eight doubt him.

So they speak in union, One-Two-Eight thought, licking his lips. Two-Seven-Two stood, speaking, his teeth flashing white amongst a tangle of a beard. Sit down, you fool. Sit down before I make you.

Footsteps. Two-Seven-Two was walking. Where could he go? They were confined, whether their blackened watchers said so or not. One-Two-Eight cared not, cupping his head in his hands, his face screwed into a scowl of boredom. He was vaguely aware that the room had fallen into silence - Or perhaps it had always been silent - Were their captors, for they were captors, now focusing intently, awaiting the sure burst of violence and bloodshed? One-Two-Eight did not look at them, either. If they acted, they acted. If they didn't, they didn't. It was inconsequential to One-Two-Eight.

The footsteps grew nearer, behind and towards the left. Warm, rancid breath washed over One-Two-Eight's face, and a whispered, mocking voice sounded in his ear. His fingers flexed, involuntarily, and his hearts began to pound, beat, beat, beat. He was too close, he was violating his privacy, he was challenging him. Stand and fight, his limbs bellowed, burning intensely. His lungs stung, constricting in his chest. For a moment, he reconsidered the man's medical aide, but then cracked a grin - He was above that. He, and he alone, had destroyed an enemy force. Well, kind of.

Two-Seven-Two was now standing before him, but One-Two-Eight failed to acknowledge his presence, staring blankly ahead.

'You are the fools,' He said, after a moment, voice toneless. 'You remained behind, in an untenable situation, with an hostile force,' Now his eyes drifted, over his triumvirate of original companions. 'Remember you followed me, I neither asked, nor wanted, your companionship. You proved to be a most useful service, however. I would never have gotten so far without your blood.'

He pressed a thumb into a wound upon his shoulder. It was clotted, scabbed over. When he pulled his thumb away, it was stained pink. 'This? These wounds, friends, aren't what stopped me. The metal-men, the red-robes, did,' One-Two-Eight smiled now, not coldly. He had a passionate smile, a mirror to the cold, humourless, knife-slit that he had previously worn. It could win friends, win hearts, win allies and reverence. 'Now, perhaps I speak out of turn,' He continued, maneuvering the conversation into a favourable position. 'Why should we fight amongst ourselves? We were birthed together, and I imagine we'll be in one another's proximity for a long time coming, so how about a fresh start, a clean slate?'

Or, you can say no, you bastards. Say no and I'll put you into place.

Even as these words crossed his mind's-eye, he smiled. There was a part of him that wanted them to refuse.

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

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

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'
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post #45 of 54 (permalink) Old 03-25-14, 04:01 PM
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Two-Seven-Two smirked at One-Two-Eight's insistence that they followed him. *So he's a narcissist as well.* He thought to himself. "Given that one of the two doors was locked and the only other option was to stay there, I wouldn't exactly say we followed you. There wasn't much of an option other than going in the same direction as you." *Narcissist* the word echoed in Two-Seven-Two's mind like a curse. One-Two-Eight assured them that his wounds had not stopped him. "Somehow I doubt that, given that you have no head wounds and your other wounds aren't significant enough to cause unconsciousness by blood-loss. You suffered the same fate as us, being wounded and on top of all the other pains your body couldn't cope and shut down. Your wounds did stop you, despite what you chose to believe." *Narcissist* the word tolled like a mourning bell for the third time in his head. *If he isn't careful his arrogance will be the death of him.*

The man's face twisted into a warm passionate smile, the polar opposite to the sneer which Two-Seven-Two had seen before. It suited his face and made him appear friendly and inviting, quite the juxtaposition to the man who had just declared their blood nothing more than a useful commodity. Two-Seven-Two's memory was still blank in many places, but he knew enough intuitively to know when he was being worked over. However, even if his face was a lie, One-Two-Eight spoke the truth. For the foreseeable future they would be together and they would need to learn to work together. Two-Seven-Two's features softened and only the corners of his mouth curved into the beginnings of a smile. Two-Seven-Two closed his eyes and breathed deeply. To those around him it would look like he was composing himself, betraying some emotional instability. One-Two-Eight would likely only trust them if he could control them and he could only control them if he believe himself to be superior, not that Two-Seven-Two imagined that would not take much. Having 'composed' himself, he spoke, is voice more level and soft like velvet "I apologize if I offended you, that was not my intent. I agree, we should learn to co-operate." His apology was no more sincere than One-Two-Eight's, but there was nothing in his voice or his manner to betray that. He smiled One-Two-Eight's smile back at him, mirroring the curves and tensions in it to a fault. Two liars declaring a truce, smiling at each other but ready with daggers should the other step out of line...

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Crusade Army List tactica - Individual Legion tactica

Quote:
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post #46 of 54 (permalink) Old 03-31-14, 10:44 PM
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If it's too short, let me know .

'Now, perhaps I speak out of turn,' One-Two-Eight suddenly took on another aspect of himself entirely. A sentient being with a personality like his would naturally split them into a number of faces. 'Why should we fight amongst ourselves? We were birthed together, and I imagine we'll be in one another's proximity for a long time coming, so how about a fresh start, a clean slate?'

“Bah,” Thirteen settled back onto the bench, a smug grin tugging on the edges of his mouth. He raised one pointing finger past Two-Seven-Two right into One-Two-Eight’s chest. “If we have to fight anywhere near each other, I’ll remind myself to bring a practice mannequin to fight in your stead.” He encompassed the other two that had fought and bled with him. “Now I might just be running on instinct here, but I don’t consider myself much of a leader. I am aware, however, when I know what a good leader is when I see one. Anyone of us who bolted at the first sign of trouble after coming together to stay alive is not much of a commander in my book. I will follow Two-Seven-Two when I am asked to follow.”

Thirteen thumbed a couple of scars on his swollen biceps and pecks. Every little sting replicated an unspeakable feeling in his mind’s eye. His muscle spasms remained fresh and keenly felt after the conflict. The sinew beneath simply ached a hollow ache in place of the violent clashes some baton wielding maniacs had left there. His esophagus itched without moisture. His fingers twitched sporadically despite the medic man’s miraculous medicines. The skull surrounding his sockets pulsed with a mild migraine. Thirteen felt like he could drop dead and leave this hellish parody of a world behind. Where was the adventure in that?

The thought latched onto his superior mind like bait being hooked on a fisherman’s line. Images of One-Two-Eight’s destruction flashed in rapid sequence. Each one appeared like a window to him, revealing another potential death in another future. Vengeance flashed in his stare for the briefest moment. I’m going to find some way to crush that little fool.

“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.”
-Glen Cook, The Black Company


Tales of Heroism and Bravery, in the 41st Millennium and the Old World. Perhaps some Realm Gate Wars in the future .

Gods' Hall (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=161618

The New Word (Completed)
https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...d.php?t=121879

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post #47 of 54 (permalink) Old 04-07-14, 04:28 AM
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111 mourned the missing blade even as it left his fingers, giving it back to the shorter man - Grenadiv. The heft of it, the way it made him feel complete – stripped from him in an instant. But he was a soldier, subordinate to his superior officers. Though he recognized neither the rank nor titles of the Armsmen, it stood to reason that he was their inferior based upon the blasé attitude they took to manhandling his person.

The red-robed man bearing the skull cog gave him some measure of comfort. He was not the only inhuman thing within this order of warriors – perhaps not even the only monster. The robed creature spoke in grating growls of vox-tone, mingling condescension into his amused commentary. Perhaps he was not as inhuman as he'd previously feared himself to be.

The Armsmen did not speak to him as they shepherded him through the complex. They walked on either side of him, keeping a practical distance behind him on either side. Clever, had he gone for either of them the other would soon be able to subdue him with the paralysis device. They did not trust him entirely – good. They shouldn't.

Why should they trust him when he did not trust himself?

They eventually lead him into a small chapel room, a modest space of stone benches before a raised plinth overlooked by a double-headed golden bird of prey carved into the ferrocrete wall. Podiums bearing the symbols of a regal corpse mounted upon a throne watched him, their gazes mirrored by various wall carvings lining smooth marble apses. Bellicose reredos hug from the eagles wing-tips, marking the victories of armies and warriors unknown.

111 felt at home in the chapel. Not as comfortable as he'd been in the heat of battle, but he felt he safe with the corpse-faced carvings – at peace. There was purpose in those carvings. There was duty in those wings.

Hooded men scurried about the room, leading him to a pew and sitting him upon it. The armsman who'd inspected him before took out a curious looking tool and began to use it upon his agumentic arm, repairing the damage 111 had done to it in combat. As he pried open the gore-soaked augmentic to clean out it's innards 111 asked the question burning in his mind, “Who are you?”

“I am an Obscurian Arms-man,” Replied the soldier, his lip curling in distaste as he pulled a bit of viscera from where it had been clogged in Eisen's servos. His lip curled at the smell.

“I mean who are you specifically,” 111 probed. Perhaps it was not strange for 111 to lack a name. Perhaps many of the armsmen lacked names.

The hooded man's brow raised in mild exasperation as he popped a human tooth from where it had cracked and wedged in the metal mesh between 111's thumb and forefinger. He rolled the fang around on his palm with his thumb before replying with a categorical, “No. You have no need of that. There is no point in giving it to you.”

So the man did have a name. “The men from before, the ones with machines in their bodies-”

“The tech priests,” The Arms-man absent mindedly interrupted as he inserted a probe into 111's shoulder, attaching it to a small diagnostic tool in his hand. “Adepts of the machine god.”

“Are you a tech priest?” 111 asked, watching the man's fingers manipulate the sophisticated computer.

The man faltered, snorting in derisive amusement, “Hardly. I am the Arms-men's medical officer.”

“Am I a tech priest?” 111 asked.

The medical officer paused for a moment, something close to amusement in his voice, “Are you a what?”

“I'm not totally human. The tech priests seem to be like me. Am I a tech priest?” 111 asked in genuine curiosity.

“No,” The medical officer replied before injecting his spine with a long needle. “You are not a tech priest.”

111 snared in irritation, but was cowed by the officers look of annoyance. “Calm yourself. It is to restore your memories. Now sit – I have others to attend to.”

111's mind reeled as the other figures were lead into the room. He barely noticed the titan of a man seated to his right as a lifetime's worth of pain and loss found it's way into his mind. He did not want to remember this – how could anyone want to remember this? He remembered the agony of a helpless boy struggling to save those beyond saving. He remembered the pain of tortures beyond comprehension, the relief at knowing he would finally die, and the incomparable joy of being saved by his patron. He remembered serving a patron to fight a great enemy – though the names of either eluded him. He remembered duty, leading his men into battle and victory – using every dirty cheat he could manage to give his men an edge over the enemy.

He remembered loving his men like his family, guiding them, helping them, and protecting them from abuse when possible. He remembered doing great violence upon those who sought to harm his adoptive family or the interests of his patron. He remembered relishing in inflicting agony upon those who'd harmed the young boy. He remembered networks of spies, informants, and blackmail used to control that which sought to interfere with his holy crusade.

He could remember so much but he still could not remember his Throne Cursed name. It had been a good name – a borrowed one of course, the boy in pain had been unworthy of a name. 111 sighed in irritation, his eyes refocusing upon the other men in the room as the rush of remembering part of who he was wore off. He looked to the man next to him and actually gasped in surprise. He – or rather “it” - was enormous. It was unnatural, bulging in ways a human body had no right protruding. 111 was categorically not accustomed to feeling small – he disliked it immensely. However it was another monster like 111, a kindred predator of metal and flesh. His own argumentation felt insufficient by comparison.

Unwilling to show weakness in front of such an obvious potential threat he sat in silence, choosing to force the giant to make first contact. He sat in silence next to the giant, staring straight ahead as the other men began bickering amongst themselves. They had clearly attempted to escape the facility and failed. His lip quirked at the realization that he'd escaped the base by himself. He toyed with the idea of telling that to his compatriots before deciding to keep that fact to himself. He had, in fact, chosen to walk back into the facility afterwards – not precisely a ringing endorsement of his cleverness and skill.

He waited, listening to their bickering and biding his time.

“Bah,” Thirteen settled back onto the bench, a smug grin tugging on the edges of his mouth. He raised one pointing finger past Two-Seven-Two right into One-Two-Eight’s chest. “If we have to fight anywhere near each other, I’ll remind myself to bring a practice mannequin to fight in your stead.” He encompassed the other two that had fought and bled with him. “Now I might just be running on instinct here, but I don’t consider myself much of a leader. I am aware, however, when I know what a good leader is when I see one. Anyone of us who bolted at the first sign of trouble after coming together to stay alive is not much of a commander in my book. I will follow Two-Seven-Two when I am asked to follow.”

111 smirked. His moment had come. Snapping his augmentic fingers, 111 clicked the middle talon across the protruding carapace of his lower thumb to produce a small spark of fire to illuminate the blood stains across his naked body. He spoke, his voice a sonorous rasping screech after a day of cold air, smoke, and shouting. “Enough. Have you not shed enough blood today knowing nothing of who you are and why you are here? Are you ready to already choose to make enemies of men whose names you do not know? I remember only a fraction of myself and I already find the entrails of dozens caked beneath my fingernails.”

“We all failed to escape this place.” 111 stroked the dried blood along his face and chin, “Laying blame accomplishes nothing.”
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The massive, leather-bound tome upon the podium slams shut.

"Indeed," says the robed man with his hood down, in reply to 111.

"Human nature..." he muses, "is such a fickle thing. A little chaos leads to confusion and before you know it, everyone is at each other's throats in frustration."

He takes a pause, while everyone's attention comes to him. During this time, servitor arms reach up to your wounds and faces with white cloths soaked in an alcohol based substance, wiping the dried blood away and cleansing the wounds again.

"Those at fault, are the ones responsible for sabotaging the experiment involving all of you, and releasing you from your healing tanks earlier than intended. We suspect they were from the same group of cultist soldiers who raided this complex. They are a group of religious fanatics, who found out about this project and decided to attack the facility. They call themselves the Coalition of Change.

We had been busy containing this threat, the Medicae personnel overseeing your progress had either been murdered or evacuated, and we received several reports of one or more of you enacting violence. We had no choice but to send the facilities guard teams to try and subdue you.

"We," he gestures to his comrades around the room, "Are the Obscurian Armsmen. All of you used to serve in the Chemoran Planetary Defence Force. You have all been unconscious for months, now. My compatriot has given you all a serum to help jumpstart your memories (except 128). In due time, the Chemoran system, what the Mechanicus means, and many other topics I talk about, will become clear.

For now, know this. Chemorus is a system of planets. We are currently on the smallest, designated Chemorus Epsilon. The other two major planetary bodies are Chemorus Alpha and Beta, respectively. You all come from Beta. Some of you met soldiers of the Mechanicus earlier, the cybernetic men in red robes who helped you. These men are from Alpha.

The Planetary Governor, Rogal Phlintte, is the Lord of the Chemorus system. He has funded this project. Your Project. Over three hundred candidates were carefully selected."

He pauses again.

"You are the sole survivors. You are all, now, the Saviors of Chemorus. An elite group of super soldiers designed to bolster the Lord Governor and Mechanicum's defense forces in the Chemorus system. My name,"

He places a large hand on his broad chest,

"Is Diatre, and the Lord Governor has tasked me with training you."

he waves his hand again, designating the other Armsen in the room, "My men, are here to help me in that task. You may notice that our physical stature is similar to your own. However, we are not part of the Savior Program. We were part of a very similar one, on another world in the Calixis sector. Once proven to be a successful group, your Lord Governor asked for our assistance in his own program.

Due to the circumstances, all of the plans and schedules we had in mind are no longer relevant. You've unexpectedly been thrown into battle already...and did not do so well, I'm afraid. We will inform you of your new anatomy in detail, train you with our weapons, and in hand to hand to combat skills you never would have learned in the Local defense force. We will also bolster your knowledge of military tactics and strategy. In the not-so-distant future...you will all be expected to lead others.

For now, you train and work as a team.

With enemies at our doorstep, I believe we should get straight into it, then."

As he concludes, the cloaked Armsmen on the stage beside him who is kneeling behind a large case, sets two bulky guns on the floor upon bipod stands that he has finished assembling. In the coming days you will know their names: Bolters.

Everyone:

A few weeks go by. During this time, the Obscurian Armsmen inform you that the Mechanicus soldiers are defending the complex from any further attacks while you all work in the impressive training chambers of the facility. You will be trained on bolters and bolt pistols, flamers and meltas, plasma weaponry, sniper rifles and missile launchers, a variety of melee weapons and fist to fist combat. You will learn of your new bodies, and be pushed to their limits. You are identical to an Astartes in most ways, with the following exceptions. You have no gene seed. You do not have the ability to enter suspended animation. You do not have acidic saliva. You cannot gain memory from other beings by eating their flesh. You DO have a black carapace.

When training against an opponent you will be training against each other, while the Armsmen dictate and instruct. There will always be at least two Armsmen present for every one of you and they will always be armed.

At the end of your post, you will be in a helicopter-type aircraft sitting with the other players, wearing snow fatigues and a version of flak/guardsmen armor designed for your larger forms. You will all be holding bolters in your hands, and have short swords at your sides. You've been told its time to take this fight to the heart of the enemy, and put an end to this threat. You have helmets, but they do not cover the face. On your chest and shoulder pads will be your number followed by SV: (SV:013 for example). You will not have gained any more memory of your past yet.

Please do not copy and paste all of Diatre's dialogue, but I'd certainly like to see your characters thoughts on what he says, if they have any. You are free to describe one or more instances during the few weeks of training. In these, you may have interactions with each other (do your issues with each other remain, or do you learn to cooperate? Maybe even further arguments develop) as well as the Arsmen. If your character interacts with or has questions for Diatre and the other Armsmen helping you train, you may ask me and I will provide dialogue and actions for them. Other than Diatre they will never have their faces revealed.

Of course, a few weeks training isn't much, and in no way compares to the amount of time true Astartes put into it. But, you will find that a surprising amount of knowledge of these skills and weapons comes to you 'naturally'. During the surgery, information was transferred into your brain, prepping it for your training. Also, even though you are riding into a real mission, it certainly doesn't mean that you're done.

You can never be prepared for the unexpected


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Two-Seven-Two smirked in amusement. One-One-One probably thought himself to be intelligent, idly condemning them for laying blame at one another’s feet. Clearly he hadn’t been listening. This leader or these men, Obscurian Armsmen, was hardly much better. Whatever Thirteen’s opinions, Two-Seven-Two certainly wasn’t going for anyone’s throat. He had simply pointed out that One-Two-Eight hadn’t exactly succeeded where others had failed. It irked Two-Seven-Two that others were not listening, where he was absorbing all the information being delivered to him. Every word spoken from this Diatre’s mouth was heard, absorbed and stored, even without any conscious effort from Two-Seven-Two. How was it that he did not miss a single scrap of information and those around him seemed oblivious to what was right in front of them?

One thing that struck Two-Seven-Two was the appalling 98% casualty rate of this ‘experiment’. How did that come to pass, Two-Seven-Two wondered to himself. Did this Rogal Phlintte not understand what he had undertaken, or were him and his staff simply inept? Diatre spouted about how this Phlintte had funded their augmentation, as if that gave him power over them. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Two-Seven-Two remembered a saying; Leaders know that the power they have comes because they are responsible to serve the many, thus power is a position of service. If there was only the six of them, Phlintte was dependent on them. They did not serve him. They could make him serve them.

Another thing that was curious to Two-Seven-Two was the expectation on them to lead. There was no guarantee that they would serve as obediently as their ‘Lord Governor’ anticipated, it was just and expectation. There was something about being shackled that felt unnatural to Two-Seven-Two. He had flashes of working behind enemy lines. Perhaps he was used to more freedom. Perhaps he simply didn’t like being forced into doing something he didn’t have a choice in.

Regardless of all his other thoughts, he agreed with Diatre; they had to learn to work together. At the moment, they were just individuals. They needed to work with one another, and according to Diatre that would start with One-Two-Eight and him brawling. The match had been arranged and both of these warriors stepped into one of the vast practice cages that had been prepared for them in Epsilon Complex. They both stood in nothing but shorts. Two-Seven-Two’s barefeet could feel the course granules digging into the soles of his feet. It was dirt meant to taste blood over the coming weeks, and these two warriors were to offer up its first meal.

One-Two-Eight smirked that saccharine smile of his. 'Ready to lose, friend?' He asked, the hint of a growl upon his words. Two-Seven-Two smiled at One-Two-Eight’s words. His head was bowed, but his eyes looked up to meet One-Two-Eight’s. “No, but then I don’t think I need to be.” Two-Seven-Two’s feet remained planted, his toes softly turning over the sand underneath his feet. One-Two-Eight nodded, laughing.
“I'm glad you're optimistic, friend. I wouldn't be…” Two-Seven-Two chuckled.
“No, I wouldn’t be if I were you either.” He muttered with a superior chortle.
“…Well, seeing as our watchers,” One-Two-Eight gestured to their black-robed custodians “Refuse to dictate the terms, shall we?”
“Whatever makes you most comfortable.” Two-Seven-Two spoke almost in a falsetto “We wouldn’t want you getting scared and running of again, now would we?”

“More fool you,” A thick goblet of One-Two-Eight’s saliva welded several granules of sand. “I don't want to hurt you too much, friend, so first blood?” *Unlikely, but good to know* Two-Seven-Two thought to himself and shrugged at the thought of it. Abruptly his face hardened, his hands clenched into demi-fists where his palms were still clearly visible and his feet became more wide-spread to give him a better centre of balance. The time for talking was over. The fight had begun. “No more talking, then” With that One-Two-Eight began his dance of the pugilist weaving around Two-Seven-Two and always bouncing from one foot to the other. Two-Seven-Two remained static by comparison, only moving to face his foe but otherwise remaining still. One-Two-Eight launched a duo and then a trio of blows. Two-Seven-Two let his forearms absorb these punches and he felt the muscles whine under the force of the impact. He was not meant for protracted brawls. He needed One-Two-Eight closer and there was only one way that would happen.

Two-Seven-Two’s raised hands dropped by only a couple of centimetres to reveal his face and it took seconds for One-Two-Eight to capitalise on the opening he had offered. Having measured the strength of the blows in his arms and steeled himself for the impact, Two-Seven-Two felt the first of the hammer-blows collide with his jaw, splitting the lip and flooding his mouth with the taste of copper. A second strike impacted moments after, striking slightly above the last one and sending hairline fractures through Two-Seven-Two’s cheekbone. One-Two-Eight launched a third strike, intending to put his ‘inferior’ foe on his back. Two-Seven-Two’s hand uncoiled like a serpent, wrapping around One-Two-Eight’s wrist and robbing it of its momentum. Even as the shock dawned in One-Two-Eight’s eyes, Two-Seven-Two launched a vicious strike with his other hand straight to One-Two-Eight’s solar plexus, knocking the wind out of his opponent.

That was all the opening that Two-Seven-Two needed. His grip forced One-Two-Eight’s arm to contort unnaturally behind his back, paralyzing the limb. Not wasting a second to gloat or for One-Two-Eight to break out of the hold, Two-Seven-Two kicked the back of his foes legs with such force that they buckled. Two-Seven-Two let go of the limb as One-Two-Eight fell, allowing him to drop down with one knee in One-Two-Eight’s back forcing him further into the dirt and the other crashing down onto the arm which he had a split second ago freed. One-Two-Eight scrambled under his weight, but he couldn’t shake Two-Seven-Two fast enough or free enough of himself to prevent Two-Seven-Two from grabbing either side of his head and forcing it into an angle which threatened to sever his spinal cord. “I told you not to be optimistic.” Two-Seven-Two held One-Two-Eight in his precarious position for a moment longer, but both competitors knew this fight was over.

Two-Seven-Two rose to his feet first and smiled down as his foe, his teeth still wet with the blood he’d sacrificed. He offered a mocking hand, but One-Two-Eight ignored it, preferring to rise on his own strength. “I won,” He sneered indignantly though ragged breaths. “First blood, you bastard. I won.”
“I asked what made you feel comfortable, I never agreed to it.” Two-Seven-Two spat a congealed goblet of blood into the sand. “Do you think our foes would stop at first blood?” Two-Seven-Two met One-Two-Eight offended stare, suddenly serious. “You lost to me because you expected an honourable fight on your terms.”
“Honour is the only thing we have, you cur,” One-Two-Eight snarled. He stepped back, shaking his head. “Give it away, then. Forget your virtues, you bastard. Fug you.” Perhaps One-Two-Eight expected Two-Seven-Two to back down. Perhaps, but he was not about to. Even as One-Two-Eight turned he spoke.
“Honour means nothing if you are dead.” Two-Seven-Two’s voice had risen to a dull roar and he was determined to not let it rise higher. “There is no sacred ground for the slain, no monument for the conquered. It is survival, nothing more. Honour is a luxury we cannot always afford, and we must prepare for when our foes fight when they should lay down and die.”

After this initial frosty encounter, the weeks seemed to proceed as Two-Seven-Two would have expected from any training regime. They practiced with a variety of close quarters fighting. Him and One-Two-Eight had another bout. One-Two-Eight had rolled into the arena with the air of a thunderstorm about him. The match was over before it really began. Two-Seven-Two went to speak to his opponent and for his insolence One-Two-Eight slashed at his throat. The strike took Two-Seven-Two by surprise and although he tried to recoil from it, the end of the short-sword managed to open a thin red line across his neck which bleed surprisingly vigorously. Apparently content with this, One-Two-Eight discarded the weapon and left without so much as a word.

There was of course firearms training as well, and this was where Two-Seven-Two truly excelled. Two-Seven-Two found that his hand naturally gravitated towards things ranging in size from the bulky weapon they had been told was called a bolter to one of the long barrelled sniper rifles. His rate of fire was much lower, even in the live training exercises he rarely fired on fully automatic, but he made each shot count. The Armsmen never praised his skill, not that he needed praise to know he possessed it. In fact, their constant guardians never said anything.

Despite finding an affinity with firearms, Two-Seven-Two could not shirk from his training with blades, and so for a third time in as many weeks he found himself stripped to the waste and facing One-Two-Eight across the bloodied sands. Two-Seven-Two twisted the sword round in small arcs at his side. The blade was too long and too heavy. This was not his element, although he let no trace of such concern show in his face. "First blood?" he asked with a mocking smile, hoping to remind One-Two-Eight of his earlier defeat. He'd need the psychological advantage, and it was an advantage One-Two-Eight refused to yield.
“Again we meet,” One-Two-Eight said, grinning as he spoke and swinging his sword in front of him. “I'm starting to think, friend, that this is deliberate. They're trying to iron out the rough edges.” Two-Seven-Two chuckled honestly at his opponent.
"Aye, and maybe it would work if you were willing to learn anything from me." He said, realising that while his words still mocked One-Two-Eight, it wasn't out of spite but out of a sense of camaraderie.

One-Two-Eight turned his blade over in his hand until the point came to rest in the sand at his feet.
“Perhaps. Perhaps I just need to make you bleed again, for the third time, before I'm satisfied?” Two-Seven-Two shrugged, his sword still held close to the ready position.
"Or perhaps I need to put you on your arse again? Would that satisfy you?” One-Two-Eight laughed. It was a soft laugh, one that was inviting and easy to listen to.
“That won't be happening. I'll be kind, I will offer you the chance to turn around, now. Walk away and accept defeat, and I won't bleed you like a pig.” Two-Seven-Two's hand rushed to his chest, as if he had been wounded by some phantom projectile. His voice quavered, as if he were about to cry.
"You are too kind. Sadly..." his hand dropped to his side and his voice resumed it familiar, alluring tembre. "...I don't think our guests would tolerate such cowardice." Even if that might be wiser* Two-Seven-Two thought having watched the sword dance in graceful arcs before One-Two-Eight had planted its tip in the sand.

It occurred to Two-Seven-Two that on a real battlefield, he would have put a bullet through One-Two-Eight’s skull and never let him this close. However, such a thing was forbidden in this arena, so he would have to make do with what he had to hand. “Such fools,” One-Two-Eight tutted, shaking his head. His laugher morphed into a roar as he his sword came up to attack. “When will you learn that running away isn't cowardly?” The two blades met with the ringing of a chapel bell and the time for talking abruptly ended.

He came at Two-Seven-Two five times and each block and parry sent jarring vibrations through his arm. Two-Seven-Two knew he could not let this drag out into a protracted duel. That was a fight he could not win. No, he needed a quick and easy win. After the fifth blow he saw an opening in his opponent’s guard. His sword came up quickly, striking for the heart. Two-Seven-Two’s lip twitched in a smirk as his blade tasted the first blood of the match. Although what mattered was last blood, it was good to feel like he could win this. Lost in his euphoria, he felt One-Two-Eight’s blade bite back with a deep slash into his bicep that forced him to retract his blade before it could sink deeper and do some lasting damage.

Before he could recover from the pain in his arm, another wound erupted on the inside of his thigh. He felt the warm arterial juices soak his leg and he was certain something major had been breached. He could not afford for this fight to continue much longer. He lashed out with another lightning fast strike to One-Two-Eight’s chest, hoping to puncture an organ. Sadly, all he seemed to get was bone and muscle. He went in for another strike, hoping to capitalise on his opponent’s apparent opening. One-Two-Eight’s sword appeared in a flash of metal and fought him for dominance. As he pushed back, trying to overcome his foe’s formidable strength, One-Two-Eight took a small hop backwards. That was all it took to overbalance him. As he stumbled forwards, One-Two-Eight came back on the offensive. The flat of his blade struck Two-Seven-Two’s swordhand with such force that it sprung open and the weapon went flying across the arena. Two-Seven-Two tried to roll aside to retrieve the weapon, but even as he did he felt One-Two-Eight dissect a diagonal cut across his back.

He should have known better than to turn his back to his opponent. Not only did he now sport a fearsome wound for his trouble, but he also felt One-Two-Eight foot in his backside, forcing onto his side. He scrambled to reach his fallen weapon, but the ground gave way to his fingers and knees and he seemed to only succeed in mixing more of his blood into the maroon sands. He managed to get some traction, but it was already too late. One-Two-Eight had his blade. Before he could move away, One-Two-Eight had both of his blades at either side of his throat. His muscles relaxed as he stared up at his foe.

One-Two-Eight smiled and for a moment Two-Seven-Two thought his thirst for blood might overwhelm him. Instead he cut open the wound from their second bout in a delicate scissor movement and that was enough. He had proven his superiority over Two-Seven-Two when armed with a sword. Despite it all, despite the humiliation of losing, despite the fact that another win just fed One-Two-Eight’s arrogance, Two-Seven-Two found himself laughing. The laugher caused fresh blood to bubble out of the latest wound. He held the loose skin together with one hand, stemming the flow to a trickle that coated his fingers. When the warm chuckle subsided he spoke. “I guess there are still some rough edges to iron out in both of us, eh?”

“I told you,” One-Two-Eight rasped. He spat congealed blood into the dirt and threw the swords to the side. One-Two-Eight grinned again, his teeth stained by the blood he had coughed up and Two-Seven-Two was reminded he had much the same look after their first match. “Running away is sometimes the best option.” Two-Seven-Two nodded gently and half-smiled. “I never said it wasn’t…” He sat up and felt more blood run down his spine “…I just said our guests wouldn’t appreciate soldiers who chose their battles wisely.” Two-Seven-Two’s voice dropped to a whisper, audible two just the two bleeding combatants. “I get the impression we are just supposed to fight regardless.”

“I'm done,” One-Two-Eight declared, offering Two-Seven-Two a hand. He considered for a brief moment turning it aside, wondering if a show of strength would be the best idea. He dismissed the thought and took the hand, using One-Two-Eight’s strength to help himself to his feet. There was no sense in pride at this point, not when they seemed to have at least found some common ground. “No more fighting, no more bloodshed. If these bastards in black,” He jerked a hand at the nearest Armsman. “Want to fight, then I'll beat them, too.” He grinned, once again. “You're a good shot, but you can't fight for fug.”

Two-Seven-Two grinned back, slightly surprised by the closest thing to a compliment One-Two-Eight had ever paid him “Perhaps, but if you can kill a man while he sleeps you don’t need to worry about him fighting back.” Two-Seven-Two ran his tongue over his blood-soaked teeth, swallowing the darkening clots of vitae. “I think it’s time we tended to our wounds don’t you? We’re not much used to anyone is we let each other die.” Two-Seven-Two inclined his head, a small gesture of respect and walked away. “You’re still a bastard, friend,” One-Two-Eight called, laughing. “But I like you more, now!” Two-Seven-Two called back without turning "Better the devil you know!" Though they hadn’t said it directly, he believed that they had reached an understanding; they needed one another. And so long as they continued to be useful to one another, their alliance could happily prosper.

They did not train for much longer. While they did, Two-Seven-Two took a portion of his time to study his comrades. Once or twice he found himself watching One-Two-Eight display more of his swordsmanship and he analysed the moves in his head, hoping to recreate them in a situation if it demanded it. They did not face each other again, but somehow those bloodied sands had a curious way of resolving issues and galvanising them. He wounds healed faster than Two-Seven-Two knew a human’s would, but that was another gift of his augmented body. By the time they sat in the flying craft, wearing snow-camouflaged combat fatigues and armed with bolters and short swords, the scabs had all but disappeared and he was left with only the scars as reminders. As they sat waiting to be deployed for the first time, Two-Seven-Two let his fingers drum lightly on the side of the weapon. It would be good to face foes he could actually kill…

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

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One-One-One's voice was horrid. It made One-Two-Eight cringe, grating his teeth together. He did something with his hand, with his claw, that made it sizzle and spark with flame. One-Two-Eight narrowed his eyes, settling the thin, blood-stained man with a piercing gaze. He spat on the ground, scratching his chin, eyeing him up. He stank, like an abattoir - Blood and offal and sweat - But then, they all did. What manner of beast are you?

The book-reader began to speak, though it meant little to One-Two-Eight. He wasn't paying attention, not really, catching flitting words - Coalition of Change, Chemorus, Saviors of Chemorus - Nothing overly interesting, not right now. One-Two-Eight understood their importance, however, and knew that he'd need to ask questions, come the time. A flesh-spare creature, half-mechanical, with dead eyes and a slack, drooling mouth attempted to dab at One-Two-Eight's wounds. He moved back, slower than he had intended, and growled. This place, this corpse-house, made him feel uneasy. Being in the presence of armed, seasoned fighters, made him uneasy.

Behind the one called Diatre, the talker, one of the Armsmen had finished assembling a pair of weapons. They were short, bulky, with snub-snouts and sickle magazines. One-Two-Eight stood, walked towards them, crossing his arms over his chest.

'So we're to be soldiers,' He said, a smile tugging on the corner of his mouth. 'And here I was, thinking all this muscle,' He tapped his arm. 'Was for dancing.'

***

The first week was a blur. They ran, they lifted, they ran some more. Their muscles ached, pulled; their skin bruised and broke. They were taught how to fire weapons - Short, man-stopping bolt-pistols, their cousin, the bolter; which, when fired, split the air like an axe parts wood. One-Two-Eight had a natural affinity for the bolt-pistols, he liked the way it felt in his palm, the heaviness, the cumbersomeness, the way it made his wrist ache when he fired it. Long, thin sniper rifles - One-Two-Eight didn't particularly like them - That snapped and kicked into his shoulder.

'This,' One of the Armsmen said, on the fifth day. He stood before One-Two-Eight, faceless, in his black cloak, black gloves, black boots. In his outstretched hand, he held a pistol. It was chrome, with geometric symbols carved into the side. The top of it glowed and coruscated with blinding, blue energy. 'Is a plasma pistol. Produced out of Ryza, one of the best. You won't find them like this anymore.'

He took aim, down the firing range, and squeezed the trigger. There was a flash, the air crackled angrily, like a thousand hornets had taken flight. With star-speckled eyes, One-Two-Eight turned his attention down the range, and saw the target. The upper half of the mannequin was gone, scorched away. The entire area was smudgy, as though smeared with dirty fingers. One-Two-Eight grinned.

'My turn?'

***

Diatre came on the seventh day. He informed One-Two-Eight, in a calm, holier-than-thou voice, that he was to spar with Two-Seven-Two. He had had little to no contact with the others; training alongside them, but neither talking to, or acknowledging their presence. When he ate, he did so alone. When he slept, he turned away from them. When he bled, pissed and laughed, it was out of their hearing. He kept close watch on them, however; Thirteen seemed to follow Two-Seven-Two, Clawhand was equally as lonely, as content, as One-Two-Eight. Meatjob, well, Meatjob was Meatjob. A hulking, twitching, shifting mass of flesh and sewn-on skin.

So, this news made One-Two-Eight smile. He stood, rubbing his hands together, and followed an Armsmen to a ring. The edges were marked out with hasty, white chalk. The floor was sand, sand upon metal, no real protection. One-Two-Eight was sure that was how it was meant to be.

One-Two-Eight entered the ring, the sand churned by scrabbling, furious feet. There were some red patches, where blood had been spilled. He was stripped bare, save for a pair of rough, tight shorts. Two-Seven-Two stood opposite him, similarly adorned.

One-Two-Eight smirked handsomely. 'Ready to lose, friend?' He asked, the hint of a growl upon his words. He clenched his hands into fists, knuckles white, nails digging into his palms.

Two-Seven-Two's mouth curled, mirroring One-Two-Eight's smirk. His head was bowed, intent on the granules of sand, his toes wriggling. 'No,' He said, coolly. 'But then I don't think I need to be.'

One-Two-Eight nodded, laughing. 'I'm glad you're optimistic, friend. I wouldn't be.'

'No, I wouldn't be if I were you, either,' Two-Seven-Two muttered, with a laugh. It reeked of confidence, of superiority. It made One-Two-Eight bristle.

'Well, seeing as our watchers,' He said, composing himself and pointing a thumb over his shoulder, at one of the Armsmen, a black-clad sentinel wielding a combat-shotgun. 'Refuse to dictate the terms, shall we?'

'Whatever makes you most comfortable.' Two-Seven-Two spoke almost in a falsetto 'We wouldn't want you getting scared and running off again, now would we?'

'More fool you,' One-Two-Eight grinned, spitting on the sand. 'I don't want to hurt you too much, friend, so first blood?'

Two-Seven-Two's face hardened, his eyes becoming dark, feet splaying part, fingers curling into fists.

'No more talking, then,' Ptolemy said, and danced forwards.

He stalked left, stalked right, feet continuing to move. His hands were held up high, at his chin, prepared to strike. There was something within him, a primal instinct, that was hot-wiring his limbs, controlling him. It felt as though he had done this before, as if he'd faced off against other opponents, in other rings, before. Perhaps he had, perhaps in a previous life, One-Two-Eight had. Two-Seven-Two remained still, rotating with One-Two-Eight, always keeping their eyes locked. Neither of their gazes faltered, both pairs of eyes were glazed, angry, murderous.

One-Two-Eight's right hand lanced out, and then his left. They were hurtling towards Two-Seven-Two's face, they were nose-breakers, teeth-snappers-

Two-Seven-Two, sturdy as he may be, was not slow. His forearms came up, soaking the impacts, much to One-Two-Eight's annoyance. He launched another trio of blows, and each time, his knuckles impacted hard, corded muscle.

He growled, furious. This was not fighting, this was dancing. Strike, you bastard, he wanted to scream. One-Two-Eight wanted nothing more than to break his companion's back, now. To gouge those soft, brown eyes from their sockets.

His next blow struck. Two-Seven-Two's head jerked backwards, then righted again. One-Two-Eight hammered his fist into Two-Seven-Two's with a satisfying crunch. One-Two-Eight grinned, victoriously, and launched his third blow, his knock-out strike. He had won, this bastard was going to- Oh no.

Two-Seven-Two had let One-Two-Eight close. He had dropped his guard, allowed himself to be struck. Fingers seized One-Two-Eight's wrist, clamped shut like steel, whilst a palm was driven into his chest, with the force of a piston. His lungs emptied, bile rose in his throat. His arm was being twisted, the joints aflame and screaming out, and then his legs turned to jelly - Swiped away by a powerful, unrelenting kick.

One-Two-Eight struck the sand, face-first, with a grunt. An hand wrapped around his throat, constricting his airway. With one deft movement, without effort, One-Two-Eight's neck would snap like a reed. His eyes were watering, his lungs rasping for air.

The grip slackened, slowly and gradually. One-Two-Eight looked up, eyes glinting with menace. His opponent was grinning, madly, through blood-red teeth. He offered an hand, but One-Two-Eight ignored it, stumbling up.

'I won,' He sneered, breathing raggedly. 'First blood, you bastard. I won.'

'I asked what made you feel comfortable, I never agreed to it.' Came the smug reply, emphasised by a mouthful of blood being spat upon the sand. 'Do you think foes would stop at first blood?' Two-Seven-Two said, meeting One-Two-Eight's astonished, humiliated stare. 'You lost to me because you expected an honourable fight on your terms.'

'Honour is the only thing we have, you cur,' One-Two-Eight snarled. He stepped back, shaking his head. 'Give it away, then. Forget your virtues, you bastard. Fug you.'

One-Two-Eight turned, briskly, lungs still burning with effort, and marched away.

Behind him, Two-Seven-Two called out - 'Honour means nothing if you are dead,' His voice rose, now, into an echoing, soulless roar. 'There is no sacred ground for the slain, no monument for the conquered. It is survival, nothing more. Honour is a luxury we cannot always afford, and we must prepare for when our foes fight when they should lay down and die.'

He ignored the words. His ears were pounding, his face warm with indignant rage. That bastard, that utter dog-fugging bastard. One-Two-Eight was furious that he'd lost, that he had been cheated of his victory, but more-so, he was furious that Two-Seven-Two was right. He had neither confirmed or obeyed One-Two-Eight's rules, and One-Two-Eight had been foolish enough to accept that.

***

Another week passed. One-Two-Eight trained tremendously; exhausting himself, atoning for his loss. He focused on blades, long-swords and broad-swords, daggers and axes, punch-blades and short-swords. He made a show of it; great, elaborate movements that caught the eye. He wanted the others to see, he wanted them to know that he was better than them, that he was the greatest, that if anyone faced him, he would carve them in two.

Once again, Diatre summoned One-Two-Eight to the ring. Once again, Two-Seven-Two faced him. He glared, lips peeled back, breathing hard. Anger coursed through his veins, it reigned over him. He did not speak, he did not meet his opponent's eyes. He was going to kill him, for his lack of honour, for his treachery, for his truth. Short, wicked blades were pressed into their palms and they went at it.

One-Two-Eight swung, kept swinging, until he broke the other Savior's guard. He stepped in close, silently, and dragged the edge of his blade across Two-Seven-Two's throat.

He spun, threw the sword in the sand and limped towards the others.

Did I kill him?


***

He didn't. Two-Seven-Two survived, though his throat was now ringed by a patchy, red line. Every time he saw it, he smirked. That was his handiwork, and now everyone saw it. They all knew his prowess, his willingness to kill. They trained in squad maneuvers, learning different formations, tactics; how to properly kick a door through, how to stun a room with flash-grenades and then clear it with their weapons - Bolters and short-swords.

Again, on the seventh day, Diatre came. One-Two-Eight followed, brimming with confidence, swaggering after their leader - Master?

And so, for the third time in as many weeks, One-Two-Eight and Two-Seven-Two came together. Again they stood on the blooded sand, half-naked, though this time they both clutched at long, heavy swords.

Two-Seven-Two was moving his blade in small, unsure arcs. He didn't look fearful, or nervous, but rather his face was set in a confident, cheerful smile. It was sly, sly as a fox, but his stance, the way he clutched at his blade, betrayed him. One-Two-Eight had seen his opponent's swordsmanship; it was not where he excelled. 'First blood?' Two-Seven-Two mocked.

'Again we meet,' One-Two-Eight grinned, swinging his sword in a figure-of-eight, loosening his muscles for the upcoming bout. 'I'm starting to think, friend, that this is deliberate. They're trying to iron out the rough edges.'

'Aye, and maybe it would work if you were willing to learn anything from me.' Two-Seven-Two shot back, with a calm, friendly chuckle.

'Perhaps,' One-Two-Eight said, leaning on the pommel of his blade. 'Perhaps I just need to make you bleed again, for the third time, before I'm satisfied?'

Two-Seven-Two shrugged, still in a combative stance. 'Or perhaps I need to put you on your arse again? Would that satisfy you?'

One-Two-Eight laughed a handsome, soft sound. 'That won't be happening. I'll be kind, I will offer you the chance to turn around, now. Walk away and accept defeat, and I won't bleed you like a pig.'

Two-Seven-Two's hand shot up, clawing at his chest. When he spoke, his voice was a quiet, sad whisper. 'You're too kind. Sadly...' His voice returned, a loud purr. 'I don't think our guests would tolerate such cowardice.'

'Such fools,' One-Two-Eight tutted, shaking his head. He roared, swinging his blade up, and launched forwards. His blade darted in, light gleaming along its cruel length, and struck against Two-Seven-Two's own with a clarion clang. 'When will you learn that running away isn't cowardly?'

He kept striking, one, two, five times. Each blow was met by Two-Seven-Two's own blade, held in a muscular, straining arm. And then the unexpected happened; Two-Seven-Two went on the warpath, his sword striking out, like a viper. It bit into One-Two-Eight's chest, deep, and came out red and dripping. One-Two-Eight felt something shudder inside of him and tasted blood.

Blood dribbling from his mouth, One-Two-Eight raked his sword across his opponent's bicep, drawing a jet of crimson. The bastard was smirking, smirking! Two-Seven-Two drew his blade back, opening up for another blow; One-Two-Eight slashed the inside of his thigh, hoping for the artery. He felt another jarring impact upon his chest-bone, heard more blood patter to the sand.

There was another blow to his chest. One-Two-Eight grunted, suddenly on the defencive, struggling against Two-Seven-Two's impressive strength. Then he realised - Two-Seven-Two was trying to close the gap, to end this quickly, much like he had done during their first, fugged up bout. One-Two-Eight's feet backtracked, sending his lumbering opponent stumbling. One-Two-Eight struck his companion's hand with the flat of his blade, with an audible crunch, and snorted as his fingers opened, the sword bouncing away.

Two-Seven-Two rolled. Stupid bastard.

One-Two-Eight slashed, diagonally, across Two-Seven-Two's spine. If he had put more weight into the swing, if he had wanted it, Two-Seven-Two would be dead, now. He put a foot into Two-Seven-Two's arse, rolling him onto his side, and lunged towards his opponent's fallen blade. He gripped the leather-bound pommel, came up with both blades in his hands, and pressed them against Two-Seven-Two's neck.

He saw the faded, red line across Two-Seven-Two's throat - From their second bout - And smiled hungrily. Eyes sparkling, lips curled into a snarl, One-Two-Eight slit his opponent's throat open.

Two-Seven-Two reached up, staunching the blood-fall with an hand. Warm, sparkling, scarlet liquid began to coat his fingers, like a macabre glove. He laughed, surprisingly happy, when taking his grievous wounds into consideration. Blood was pumping from his torn artery, even know knitting back together, and his spine was on show. One-Two-Eight's own chest was dripping gore. 'I guess there are still some rough edges to iron out in both of us, eh?'

'I told you,' One-Two-Eight rasped, spitting pink onto the sand. He discarded the blades and smiled, through bloody teeth, much like Two-Seven-Two had, weeks earlier. 'Running away is sometimes the best option.'

A half-smile broke Two-Seven-Two's features. 'I never said it wasn't...' He sat up, still smiling through barely-opened lips. 'I just said our guests wouldn't appreciate soldiers who chose their battles wisely,' He hushed, now. 'I get the impression we are just supposed to fight regardless.'

'I'm done,' One-Two-Eight said, outstretching an hand. Two-Seven-Two grasped it, and he hauled him onto his feet. 'No more fighting, no more bloodshed. If these bastards in black,' He jerked his head at the nearest Armsman. 'Want to fight, then I'll beat them, too.' He grinned, once again, and disengaged his hand. 'You're a good shot, but you can't fight for fug.'

'Perhaps, but if you can kill a man while he sleeps you don’t need to worry about him fighting back,' Two-Seven-Two said, running his tongue over his teeth. 'I think it’s time we tended to our wounds don’t you? We’re not much used to anyone is we let each other die.'

He turned, hobbling away from One-Two-Eight, who stood and watched, hands on his hips.

'You're still a bastard, friend,' He called, laughing. He shuddered, his wounds hurt. 'But I like you more, now!'

'Better the devil you know!' Came the reply, and then silence.

***

They learned to cooperate. One-Two-Eight would never follow Two-Seven-Two, and Two-Seven-Two would never follow One-Two-Eight, but they would serve alongside one another. They both had commendable skills, one with blades, the other with firearms. They would compliment one another nicely.

'It's cold, isn't it?' One-Two-Eight said, now, to everyone and no-one. They were sat in a rotor-bladed aircraft, flying low over dunes of snow. Everyone wore uniforms, of a materiel called flak-armour, and bowl helmets. Everyone was armed with a bolt-gun and a gladius. They were going to war, they were going to put this training to use. He was excited.

'But,' He said, flashing a grin. 'This helmet is ruining my hair.'

Nyctophobia- Fear of the Dark Angel.

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

'Killing a man is like fucking, boy, only instead of giving life you take it. You experience the ecstasy of penetration as your warhead enters the enemy's belly and the shaft follows. You see the whites of his eyes roll inside the sockets of his helmet. You feel his knees give way beneath him and the weight of his faltering flesh draw down the point of your spear. Are you picturing this?'
'Yes, lord.'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
'No, lord.'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'

Last edited by dark angel; 04-22-14 at 06:04 AM.
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