The Decurion, Tiberius, sent Darius along the way, before Krateron could hand over ammunition. Krateron gritted his teeth, beneath his faceplate, and cursed. You have signed his death warrant, he thought, watching as the other Decurion, that whore-son Sebastian, and Darius marched away. He bit his tongue, he was no Emperor's Child, and ultimately, this matter belonged within the ranks of the Third Legion. Tiberius was already moving away, shuffling over the debris, still managing to cut a regal figure in his purple and gold. Insufferable prig.
Krateron followed, and they broke into a run, crushing bones, metal, rock - All matters of materiel - Beneath each giant, inexorable boot. The Choral City had become a warren of destruction, buildings had fallen in on themselves, collapsed into the sewage system, forming skeletal, metal mountains. They jogged through narrow, jagged trenches, shoulders scraping the sides, ducking beneath dislodged spars and overturned battletanks, passing the corpses of friend and foe, now a sickening, red-brown sludge.
'Who else dropped with you?' Tiberius asked, as they advanced along a twisted, smoking street. 'Then we know who we shouldn't kill.'
Krateron glanced back at him. 'Does it matter?' He asked, bitterly. 'We are all in the same situation, cousin.'
'A Thousand Son told me once knowledge is power,' Tiberius said, pausing for a moment, allowing the thought to sink in. 'It’ll be easier to convince our brothers we’re on their side if we don’t start by shooting them.'
'Very well, then,' Krateron said, smirking. 'I won't shoot, Tiberius, I will stab,' He barked a laugh, though it was humourless. 'If I see a Son of Horus, I'll make sure to ask if he's having the same shit day or not.'
Tiberius laughed. That, at least, was a good sign. 'Good to see that your manners haven't suffered today,' The Decurion said, another soft, contagious laugh escaping his helmet's speakers. 'Fine then, whose head do you want to claim?'
The Son of Horus came to an abrupt halt, turning slowly, helmet levelled with the Third Legionary's. 'Truthfully, cousin,' He said, haltingly, searching for the right words. 'No-one's. Those Marines,' He pointed upwards, at the clouds. 'Are still my brothers. I have fought besides them, eat with them, shared oaths with them,' He grunted, shaking his head. 'I will do what I must, to survive, and nothing more. This is a cursed thing.'
'Aye, it is a cursed thing. But you can’t survive and think of them as our brothers. The past cannot be allowed to stay our hands,' Came the reply, Tiberius' own gaze turning skywards. 'Evidently, it did not stay our brother’s.'
Krateron laughed, loud and clear. 'You misunderstand me, cousin,' He said, turning away. 'I will bleed them, I will skin them, I will break their bodies. They are treacherous, they have doubted the grandeur of our majesty, and they will die for it. But, friend, I take no pleasure in that. There will be no trophies and there will be no boasting. This shames me.'
Onwards they walked, Tiberius laughing nasally. 'And there was me thinking that you had lost your stomach for war. ou are right though, there is no glory in what happens here. Only brutal necessity, as it has been with all rebellions. Allow me to rephrase my question, is there a single man you would like to see die for what they did today? Someone who holds particular contempt in your heart? Someone who holds particular contempt in your heart for this betrayal?'
'No, there is not,' Krateron replied, sadly. 'Perhaps, however,' He grinned, fiercely. 'Your fellow Decurion - Sebastian, was it not? - And I can cross blades,' He struck Tiberius across the shoulder with the flat of his hand. 'I jest, of course. What of you, cousin? Who will pay for your betrayal?'
'That’s a fight I’d like to see,' Tiberius said, his tone jovial, a smile evident in his words. 'As for those I’d like to see dead, the best I can do is arrange a pyramid of who I’d like to see die first. One thing I know for sure,' The Decurion's voice hardened, darkened, an edge, cruel and vengeful, creeping into his tone. 'I hope someone makes Eidolon’s head roll.'
Krateron snorted. 'Perhaps it will be you, cousin,' He bit his lip, thinking. 'Fulgrim is not here. Do you believe him innocent of this butchery?'
'No cousin, I do not. Eidolon may be an arrogant sod, but he is not foolish. He is a man under authority, and that authority is Fulgrim’s. If he didn’t directly order it, he at least knew about it. And if he knew and did nothing, then that is as bad as ordering this madness himself.'
The Son of Horus nodded. 'This day, brother, will live on. If we die, we shall be remembered. We defied the madness of tyranny, when all was against us, we stood, we died, facing our betrayers. Bugger Fulgrim, bugger Eidolon. If your Lord Commander wants to cross blades with me, I'll take his head and piss down his throat.'
They were descending through a sheared building, now, sliding along a floor, maneuvering around wreckage - Both human, transhuman and materialistic. They forced themselves through a ground floor - Which had become a wall - And came into a long, guttered street. Every street was long and guttered in the Choral City, now, though.
Krateron broke into a run - Went two steps, and then he heard it. Deep, echoing booms, bolt-rounds. They struck the dirt and ash around Krateron's feet, kicking up puffs, pebbles raining down on his helmet and shoulder. He stumbled, the concussive blasts knocking him off of his feet, and went tumbling into a mound of ash and glass. He tensed, gripped his bolter, and came up, roaring, dust swirling around him, bolter pointed at the opposite building. He opened fire, still roaring, combat-runes flashing over his vision. Stone and metal exploded as his rounds hit home, but he saw nothing, dimly aware that Tiberius had fallen silent.
And then, running. Heavy, crunching footfalls - Space Marine. Krateron maglocked his bolter, drew Oathkeeper from over his shoulder, and pivoted, roaring, all of this in a matter of seconds. Oathkeeper struck another blade, and Krateron was face-to-face with his opponent - A Son of Horus. Blood-maddened, his honour insulted, Krateron tensed, leaning his weight onto the blade, his free hand curling around the hide-bound hilt of Aebathan, yanked it upwards, and pressed it against the Marine's hip.
'Know me, Son of Horus,' He grunted, in Cthonic. 'Know me, Akkad Krateron, and make your choice. Drop your blade, or I'll tear your hearts out, you fool.'
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?'
'Is your dick hard yet?'
''What? You've got your spear in a man's guts and your dog isn't stiff? What are you, a woman?'