Pelegon firmly believed in a little sibling rivalry, but it was a tool that required careful and timely usage. Like a cinder, it had to be carefully tended to in order to burn bright, and right now the Warsmith had blown strongly enough onto it to give the heat that he wanted. It was merely a matter of ensuring that the fire didn't grow large enough to hurt him. The captains destroying each other would be a step too far.
The Warsmith enjoyed watching them sniping at each other, though both presented valid points. He had a good idea as to what Lucian would do with the materials he had requested, and if it was as he assumed, it was a solid plan. Pelegon was pleased with his third captain for forming a fairly comprehensive plan so quickly, but he would have expected nothing less. The seventh captain's assurances and reservations were also well-judged, given the lack of information that he had furnished them with so far.
When Lugerev drew his weapon, Pelegon did not move an inch, remaining as statuesque as he had been throughout the discourse. In his mind, he egged Lugerev on, urging him to swing at either him or Lucian. Had the Medicae done so, it would have been his last act; Pelegon would have crushed his skull between his fingers, helmet and all, and that way rid himself of another problem. Had the medicae assaulted Lucian...the Warsmith was not a gambling man, given as he was to stacking the odds in his favour, never playing them, but he would have been more comfortable wagering on Lucian than Lugerev. The First Legion, whatever his fellows thought of them, could not be found wanting with regard to their bladework. A pity that origins mattered so much to some.
"A trap, Shipwright?" Pelegon rumbled "they expect nothing, and know even less. Likewise, Lucian..." the Warsmith turned, and made long, slow strides for the door, patting the third captain's pauldron as he did so, noting how the other marine flinched from his touch "...I am aware that they will send a distress signal..."
The doors slid open and Coeus made an entrance, informing Pelegon that his investigation was concluded. The Warsmith paused; the Epistolary would not have interrupted him unless the matter was of at least some import, and that was enough. Regardless of how busy he was, the Warsmith made a point of always having time for his cabal of psykers.
"...indeed, I was counting on it. After all, how else will the rest of the Imperium know what we will have done on Pelexis? They will come and see our work"
The Warsmith turned to face them as he stood in the doorway, his huge frame filling it out, barely large enough for him not to have to stoop or angle himself sideways. His armour was as grey and metallic as the surroundings, the black and yellow hazard stripes on his shoulders making them seem even larger than they were. But contrasted against the light of the corridor, Pelegon appeared as a black silhouette with glowing blue slits for eyes.
"If I cared about the means, then I would have overseen the assault myself. As it is, only the end matters to me. Had I thought one captain sufficient to complete this task to satisfaction, then I would not have given it to the pair of you. Consider that before trying to assume command again. Coeus, with me"
Punching his left hand into the palm of his right, the Warsmith took his leave. Being out of the same room as Iapetus, despite having Coeus tagging at his heels, helped him remain calm; the siblings' dogmatic love of Olympia and its sons sickened him, as did Lugerev's degeneracy. There would be a day when no original Olympians remained, when the bloodlines ran dry, and he had to ensure that that did not propagate the demise of the IVth. They were a set of principles and doctrines as much as they were flesh and blood, and he knew that the iron of their ideals would have to outlast the iron of their armour. Those born or assimilated into the ranks of the XIXth since the destruction of Olympia were already ample proof of that, it was just necessary for the Warsmith to ensure that the idea didn't die with him.
As they walked, Coeus reported his findings to the Warsmith, who did not reply. The marines who passed them did not bow or show deference, knowing that Pelegon had no love for those who abased themselves at his feet. He was confident of his own power, knowing that he reigned over the life and breath of all who called the Eisenschloss home, and viewed those who felt the need to display their power as weak. They needed the validation of others to maintain their power base, something that he viewed with as little regard as the worship of the Dark Gods.
The Warsmith looked down at into the palms of his hands, rotating them. Countless thousands had died as a result of their direct work, and Pelegon's latest pet project would serve only to add to that count. The targeter arrays that were built into his armour allowed him to mark out targets using the armour's built-in cogitator, exact markers that would show up on the HUDs of any units that he wanted to fire. The full destructive might of the XIXth could be brought to bear exactly where he pointed a hand. None of Pelegon's subordinates knew of this, nor was it at all visible externally. Once on Pelexis the Warsmith would demonstrate the array's immense power to Kunzhardt, and give him the second one he had built. The original, made from archeotech pre-dating the Age of Strife, he would keep for himself.
The ancient warrior returned to his present setting; the training ground by the outer wall of the Eisenschloss, and Coeus at his side. Neophytes, ranging from twelve to sixteen standard Terran years of age, were carrying out shooting drills before him, the relentless pace of training unaffected by the news of mobilisation. At their tender age, they lacked the strength to wield full-sized boltguns. As a result they were given large-calibre autoguns that had, relative to the neophytes' body size and mass, recoil and firing action similar to the boltguns they would wield as fully-fledged marines. The librarian, he noticed, was observing them with narrowed eyes; likely scouring their ranks for any psykers he could take under his wing.
All had freshly-shaved heads, and a large single scar on the backs of their skulls where their Catalepsean Nodes had been implanted. With their Larraman's Organs inside them, they could have had the surgery yesterday and be combat-ready today. The youths fired with commendable accuracy, and Pelegon was aware that though young, none had the expressions of fear or joy on their faces that human infants usually had in such settings. All those assembled here were suitable for their future careers mentally as well as physically, the conditioning that would turn them into the most fearless and intractable of warriors having already taken effect, as was proven by the fact that they were still mentally functional. To produce the fifty or so assembled before him, there would have been over three hundred initiates, to use the statistical averages of their creation process. Just over half would live long enough to become complete space marines. They looked like children, but had been put through unimaginable physical torment, had watched hundreds of their fellows die by their sides...and had pushed on.
Pelegon knew that the training process for the XIXth was much more rigorous than even that of the Imperial marine chapters, unwilling as he was to set any other than the highest of standards. He wanted each of his men to count for ten of those he faced, had to know that every component of his war machine would function exactly as needed. To wage war as he did, the vetting process had to be as thorough as possible. The neophytes were suffering under the burning white sky of Medrengard, the sweat pouring freely from their bodies as they fumbled for new magazines with slick hands. The guns were growing hot in their grip, but the Warsmith knew that the instructor would have given them a fire rate that they would have to maintain.
"Your findings do not cause undue concern" Pelegon eventually concluded. The weight of command was a heavy one, and any who viewed a Warsmith's throne with envy were, in his opinion, fools. He led because he knew that he had been born for it, knew that he could devote to both his father and legion the entirety of his existence to its fullest extent. He didn't trust anyone else to do what he did.
"Nor do I view Captain Kunzhardt as unreliable or potentially corrupt. You don't need to play games with me, Coeus, I know you don't like him because of his bloodline. But none of the positions of the senior commanders is fixed" the threat was slight, but coming from the Warsmith, who was not given to striking with warning, it would be a sign that his displeasure was great "were there anyone better than Kunzhardt, they would already have his title and command"
Pelegon watched as the Tenth Captain roared at one of the neophytes, grabbing his gun out of his hands. The Warsmith's hearing was, as of that of all astartes, enhanced to beyond human levels, and even at the distance at which the pair stood he could hear the exact reason why. He had been repeatedly firing down to the last round, then manually re-racking the gun, rather than counting his shots and keeping one in the chamber so as to greatly increase the speed of reloads. He would be beaten mercilessly and given some tiresomely unpleasant duty as punishment, no doubt, but Pelegon knew that the captain knew when to give the carrot and when to use the stick, and trusted his judgement. That he was able to personally oversee the training of most of the initiates without detracting from his other duties and tasks was indicative of the man's skill.
"Are there any among them that catch your eye, Coeus?"