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post #41 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-03-14, 01:12 PM
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The Chief Apothecary stood in front of a cylindrical tube, standing upright and bathed in aqua-blue light. He still wore his Legion robes, rather than his armor. It was too difficult to work in, and unless he was in battle, or in danger of coming across some kind of enemy, he did without it. Most of the Captains of his Company were stuck in their armor, whether it was a literal medical condition or an endless preference, they all seemed content with the way they were.

They had been in the Warp for some time now, on their way to the Pelexis System. Brother Coeus had begun his investigation without hesitation. He had begun with those in Second Company. More specifically, he started with the members of Brother Rorke’s squad, having them secluded and bound.

One of them, Brother Hadrius, had been sent to his care. Coues had delivered him personally, saying that a wound was found but it was too difficult to decipher whether or not it was from training, or taint. The Librarian had searched the Iron Warrior’s mind, of course, but despite his near mastery of the art, wanted to be sure. Lugerev had to hand his compliments to the Seer, for withholding his personal opinions and not simply killing off members of the XIX without making sure there was true reason for it. He likely knew whether or not Brother Hadrius was guilty of taint, but also realized a second opinion would only help his cause in the rest of the Grand Companys’ eyes.

Hadrius was strapped with thick metal cuffs attached to the table around the wrists and ankles.

‘Is this really necessary, brother?’ Asked Hadrius.

‘Absolutely. I don’t know your agenda. You seem calm and unworried, but so do I, at times.’

‘What?’

‘Nevermind. This shouldn’t take long. You’ll be back to training with your Company soon enough.’

Lugerev took hold of a pair of instruments, and walked to the side of the slab table. He only had to bend over slightly for a good look at the scratches on Hadrius’s shoulder. He looked into the wound with magnifying optics over his eyes. He poked and pulled, here and there. The tools were cold to the touch. If Hadrius wasn’t an Astartes, he may have even shivered a bit.

‘You were wearing your armor when this happened?’

‘No.’ replied Hadrius.

‘Indeed. A silly question, perhaps.’

Lugerev’s eyes seemed frozen for a moment, as Hadrius tried to look at them, enlarged in the small lenses over his face.

‘You have an infection.’ stated the Apothecary, very matter of fact.

‘And?’

Lugerev took a step back, pulling off the lenses and placing the instruments in a small sink.

‘Brother Hadrius, what does it mean to be an Iron Warrior, in your opinion?’

‘Master Apothecary,’ he hesitated, ‘It means to-’

‘Don’t interrupt me.’ Said Lugerev, annoyed, raising his hand quickly to the Marine’s face.

‘Being an Iron Warrior, means never giving up. It means no matter what the enemy throws at you, you trudge on, you move forward through the thick of it. It means you break down any obstacle in your path, or die trying. It means being strong. I have seen Iron Warriors get one of their arms blown clear off, and still march, bolter firing, as if nothing had happened to them. I have seen legs blown off, and they crawled, still firing. Do you want to be one of us, Hadrius?’

How dare you ask me such a question!’ he yelled in response, squirming in his restraints.

‘Free me from your slab. I must inform my Captain of such disrespect to one of his men!’

‘Oh you want to yell?’ asked Lugerev, grabbing one of his drills.

No!’ yelled Hadrius as Lugerev turned it on.

Yes! Yes you bloody fiend, yes!’ the Chief Apothecary screamed in Hadrius’s face as he pressed the tip of the spinning drill into the center of his bare chest.

Hadrius roared, more out of anger at first, but soon enough out of pain as his reinforced ribcage was churned and twisted. Lugerev's rage poured out, a sudden wash of fury.

‘Where is your god, brother!? Where is he!? Is this what you prayed for!?’

His spittle shot Hadrius in the face, as his blood did to Lugerev in turn.

Hadrius’s fought the restraints as hard as he could between shouts and grimaces. Sweat was beading, dripping, over his features.

‘You like death so much? Then go! Leave us! Leave your brotherhood of Iron Warriors. Go join Nurgle and his mindless slaves!

He finished drilling, and with his fingers plucked something out of the profusely bleeding wound. He held the geneseed up to Hadrius’s barely conscious face.

‘This is your your geneseed, and you’ve ruined it. Precious, Hadrius! And you’ve ruined it!

It popped in his fist, splattering Hadrius in the face at the end of his remark.

He stood firmly over his former brother, breathing deeply, his chest rising and falling beneath his blooded robes. He put down the drill, and grabbed his largest scalpel. Without another word, he plunged it into Hadrius’s throat where it connected to the back of the chin. He listened intently, twisting here and there as the Astartes choked, trying to breathe, dying slowly.

Another of the Second Company lay dead on his table. Too many, for too many reasons, he mused.

He had reported his findings to The Seer without any happiness whatsoever. A few days later, Pelegon finally called for council once again.

Lugerev walked onto the decking of the bridge, immediately spotting the group of cumbersome individuals. It was difficult to tell due to the XIX’s impeccable hologram technology, but upon stepping into the circle, Iapetus was just that, a Hologram. The 7th Captain, not surprisingly, had chosen to remain aboard his own ship with his own Company. His friend had kindly assigned two squads of honour guard, one squad of five terminators and a squad of ten breachers, to the Ferra to watch over Lugerev during the Grand Company’s travel to Pelexis. They had stayed in the Apothecarium, though, for now.

In the Eisenschloss, Pelegon had promised to reveal how he had come across all of this information once everyone met on the Ferra, but of course, this did not happen. he had to admit, the Warsmith’s tactics of using the mortal population as a type of shield was rather clever, given the enemy, but was also cowardly. Pelegon often had layers of motives and reasonings behind his orders and plans. Lugerev forced himself to be content in this, until he saw the information on his data-slate, which gave him absolutely nothing more to work with then what he was told on Medrengard and an irritating threat to boot. Lugerev tossed the data slate before him as he walked, crunching it under his foot in his stride. A servitor almost immediately appeared from the shadows of the corridor, and cleaned up the mess he had made.

You disappoint me every time you speak. He thought. He noticed Some of the Captains had stayed behind, or turned around. Perhaps they were unhappy as well. The Primus Medicae decided it might be time to speak to some of these Commanders. In truth, it had been a while since he had met with any of them.

He turned around, making his way back to the systematic Bridge. His head passed unerneath the archway’s shadow just in time to hear the Warsmith’s last words to Adriun.

"Loakk may have as much Wolf gene-seed as he desires, but on the express condition that it is not implanted in any of my recruits, and that it never sees the light of the Imperium again. I was planning on destroying it; an experimental substrate seems a far better use of that resource"

The Master of the Forge very suddenly became the first one Lugerev wishes to speak with, and upon the techmarine’s exit, the Chief Apothecary would be waiting.

You can never be prepared for the unexpected



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post #42 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-03-14, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelegon
Pelegon watched the Master of the Forge. He respected Adriun's abilities and
"The populace, what of it survives our bombardment, will be scanned for potential recruits, as has always been standard practice - as astartes they will be more than they could ever have imagined, grubbing in the dirt of their rotten empire. But for the mechanicus...you know I disdain the use of mortal soldiers. Too unreliable, too weak. That is a request I cannot condone"

The Warsmith shifted in his chair, and rested his chin on a knuckle, briefly in thought.

"Loakk may have as much Wolf gene-seed as he desires, but on the express condition that it is not implanted in any of my recruits, and that it never sees the light of the Imperium again. I was planning on destroying it; an experimental substrate seems a far better use of that resource"
He was pleased that Warsmith did not jump down his throat as the Captain of the First experienced.

"If not as Tech-soldier recruits? Then as Tech-Priests and Savants? To keep the Pure ranks of our Mechanicus allies strong against their more corrupt bretheren. If not I understand."

He was disappointed, even if he refused to show it, but he knew this was a mistake, to throw away so many lives for so little gain. He could not see the purpose beyond goading an old enemy. He would have to hope for another day to bolster the mechanicus ranks, while the Grand Company would not use their Tech Guard, the Mechanicus kept one off world to protect themselves and to help in their pursuit of technology. His allies would be left to their own devices for now.


"And Loakk would never consider testing it on Recruits, it is simply to better understand gene-seed and hopefully what makes a gene-seed corrupt, and therefore a solution to purify gene-seed. A lofty goal, this boon of lesser Gene-seed will get him closer to that goal. Thank you Pelegon." He said with some sincerity.

Knowing he would get no further with the Warsmith he left.


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post #43 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-03-14, 10:25 PM
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This turn of events was entirely unexpected and left the second captain somewhat bewildered. A moment ago he was squaring down towards the warsmith and had anticipated a verbal fight between just him and Pelegon then a moment later the bat was in line lamenting like a child for a new toy but more for glory alone than for purpose only to have himself stripped of his Tyranthikos and relegated to trench stationing like a standard 4th Legionnaire while Kunzhardt was equipped with the trappings of the 1st Company for the remainder of the Pelexis deployment. What was the angle of this? Was Kunzhardt to become the Hammer and Anvil in his own right? To crush a position with fire and then to drop the weighted blade of the 1st? The idea of such an indomitable monopoly on power swam through his thoughts for a moment and he imagined entire worlds bathed in blood and fire cowing to the XIXth before him. Whispers from millions of corrupted souls sought his ear promising untold power and the proper title of warsmith of the XIXth belonging to him hoping to capitalize on the temporary award only to be silenced by sheer will power and forced from his thoughts.

It was a plague that every denizen of the warp had to contend with. Like an eternity in purgatory that would crush lesser men much like their more twisted brethren seeking refuge in the Eye however Kunzhardt took considerable pride in that, like diamonds, the constant pressure and temptations did not break him; rather it steeled his resolve and like a finely made sword folded over numerous times only served to compound his immovable spirit. He finished his time with the Warsmith with a somewhat befuddled posture before returning his composure and saluted the warsmith.

"You honor me, Warsmith. Wolf blood will flow steadily."

Leaving the room he nodded to both Tyranus and Aldruin as they spoke their peace albeit with a slight snark towards Tyranus. He was not necessarily one to gloat but such punishment was fitting; the bat would need to learn his place as it was obvious in however many millennia he knew Pelegon that he'd yet to understand the selfless methods undertaken by the Fourth. The objective was all that mattered.

Just before leaving the room one of his attendants came to him greatly flustered. It was his Lieutenant* assigned to be his eyes and ears with all legionnaires examined by Coeus and Lugarev. The zealous entry demanded a rebuke but it would not be without reason.

"Damn it, Barbyr! Steel yourself and report!"

Like a Pavlovian response the Iron Warrior snapped to an impeccable attention and maintained deathlike stillness.

"Apologies Centurion! If I may!"

There was silence and a click as the Lieutenant* engaged a private vox link. There was a brief pause but no click from Kunzhardt. At once the Captain growled in an unparalleled rage and stormed from the room. He'd heard the voice only a moment ago where was the murderous bastard? Outside the hall resided his prey and in robes! The fool marched the halls unprotected. All at once he thrusted out the colossal powerfist open handed and unpowered clutching folds of robes over his sternum and thrusting it forward forcefully pushing the Primus Medicae into the wall. The arm hissed and clicked as the pistons fired and locked into place then left only silence.

"Chaos consume you foul wretch! Far too many of my own have died under your gaze!"

He felt his grip tightening around the cloth. Everything in him wanted to annihilate the senile fool right now. To mulch him into a pile of goo and to cast him to the laughing Gods but only steps away from two Captains and the Warsmith himself would not have been wise. Still he was thinking of nothing more than blood and felt his left arm cocking ready to strike a blow into the Medicae, it would not be an enjoyable fight, the apothecary was unarmoured and wouldn't pose a great threat but there would still be some satisfaction in the feeling of warm blood.

"Now you seek Chaos with warped thoughts! I'll rid this Grand Company of the obvious taint myself!"

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Last edited by Boxagonapus; 10-04-14 at 01:06 AM. Reason: *edited for fluff reasons, Vigilator is a Captain unit
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post #44 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-03-14, 10:55 PM
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But the Captain of the Second Came out first, marching like a man gone mad. Lugerev suddenly realized a moment too late, that he had.

Like a raging bull the oversized Kunzhardt was into him, bunching his robes into his giant metal fist and slamming his back into the side of the corridor.

Lugerev clenched his teeth, grimacing. Even unactivated, the power fist was a force to be reckoned with. He pulled himself together from the shock, and with angered eyes he replied in turn.

'Get your hands off of me you pig. I am curious as to why you are so vigilantly defending a warrior who was tainted by the Pantheon, Kunzhardt. You've been killing off men during your training exercises, and now a Nurgle following arises in your ranks! Where does your loyalty lie half-breed?'

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post #45 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-03-14, 11:06 PM
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Adriun had let the Captain of the Second leave before him, as Adriun was lost in his thoughts, disappointed with the death to come. He walked out slowly, and then with a more hurried pace when he heard the conflict that erupted.

"Brother Kunzhardt what are you doing?!" He said questioningly as he saw the Power fist toting marine hefting up the unarmored Medicae.

He got close and his Mechadendrites came to bear, in case he needed to subdue the captain, but he would see if the situation could be diffused first. "Kunzhardt, do not act rashly, Lugerev is essential to the company, for as long as he is fit to perform his station."

He knew the Medicae was not mentally sound though, and so he wasn't truly coming to his defense but instead hoping to keep what would ensure more death in the company did not happen before they were on a battlefield.

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post #46 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-04-14, 06:47 AM
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"You assume that wanton slaughter is my objective; do not attempt to second-guess me again, Tyranus. It is the way of the IVth to be meticulous, and not to view any task as above us. That was how our erstwhile brothers viewed us, as mere workhorses - our willingness to do what was asked of us became a strength, lent us will and stamina beyond any other. You complain now that gathering slaves is beneath you. How long will it be before you decline to dig me a trench line, viewing a shovel with similar disdain? Dayus, Karius..." the Warsmith paused momentarily as he tried to recall the third, less familiar "...Draxus, kill him." His raised hand, signaling for the three Tyranthikos to hold their fire betrayed Pelegon's true intent though.

That is exactly why you were so mistreated and abused Brother, you allowed yourselves to be the workhorses, never wanting anything more until the Imperium drove you into the ground. Holding onto the sentiment that got this Legion into trouble is not the way...The Imperium cares not for any intricacies, subtleties of our campaign, they care only about the imminent threat of mass slaughter. He thought to himself, his posture revealed nothing and his helm made his face unreadable.

It was amusing to Tyranus in a grim way, that Pelegon commanded his men, but barely recalled the name of his equerry Draxus, but the man still obeyed the WarSmith. He was glad to have his helmet on, it hid the sly grin that crossed his face, had Pelegon wanted him dead he would have simply had them unleashed upon him. He was confident that if he needed to he could likely kill his three subordinates, but the presence of Kunzhardt and Pelegon ensured that if this indeed came to blows, he would assuredly die, though he would take a toll himself.

"The Tyranthikos, as with every marine in the XIXth is loyal to me first and foremost. I allow my orders to be questioned, but only for good reason. Complain again that the orders you are given are unworth of you and I shall find a more willing replacement. Now get out of my sight." Pelegon spoke now from his throne. You command the XIXth, but you should remember that you did not get there alone...And not every marine is loyal to you alone WarSmith, his mind turned to Coeus and Iapetus, the two purist fanatics that lead a sizable cult of like-minded Legionnaires, they hold loyalty to themselves and none other.

The Tyranthikos then lowered their weapons, returning the storm bolters to their mag locked and readied positions at their hips. Their weapons deactivated with a hiss as the power fields retracted and died out at the orders of Pelegon. Tyranus was already turning to leave as he was dismissed, only to be followed by more words from Pelegon, more meant perhaps as a lesson to be learned. "One more thing, Tyranus" the Warsmith called from his throne, where he had again taken his seat. His voice was nonchalant, as if what he was saying was almost an afterthought "you are relegated to trench duty until we break orbit. Kunzhardt will have command of the Tyranthikos for duration of this mission."

It was comical to Tyranus, the Second Captain would likely be stricken with the joyousness of a child with a new toy, even this he would likely find something to dislike as was Kunzhardt's way to complain about everything somehow being an affront to him. Truly the most logical choice, have your siege captain command the foremost assault units...It likely won't matter in this campaign He lamented inwardly at the absolutely miniscule chance this had of blowing up in Kunzhardt's face. He would face his 'punishment' with aplomb, he was as ever, a survivor, but his mind was set forth now more than ever to the future. This campaign would be a wash for him.
-----------------------------------------

As he brooded outside of the war room aboard the Ferra Perpetua, he looked to his escorts, he wondered what they were, these three 'Honor Guard.' If they were loyal to the WarSmith above all else, then what need did he have of them? They were nothing more than wardens, seeking to hold him as a prisoner in plain view, he had only just been reminded of it.

"Get your hands off of me you pig. I am curious as to why you are so vigilantly defending a warrior who was tainted by the Pantheon, Kunzhardt. You've been killing off men during your training exercises, and now a Nurgle following arises in your ranks! Where does your loyalty lie half-breed?" Lugerev was squirming in the grasp of Kunzhardt, who was apparently after the man for some wrong done to one of his men at the hands of the the maddened Primus Medicae. Tyranus hoped greatly that the Second Captain would crush Lugerev in his power fist, crush him until his insides spurted and ruptured out through the bastard's eyes and shattered ribs. But the ensuing bloodshed that would take the XIXth would certainly stall their current campaign if not outright bring it to an immediate halt. As it was, even if this little spat didn't end in blood and death, Lugerev's handlers would likely be made aware of the affront. Kunzhardt had put himself in a precarious position and whether he let Lugerev live or killed him mattered little, The Twins would likely seek him out sooner rather than later looking for retribution for their 'Brother.' Lugerev of course was a sad excuse for a Primus Medicae, or even an aspirant of the Apothecarion these days, his past glories should not have ever been enough to keep him in his station, but he was protected by The Twins, and likely even more meaningfully, Pelegon knew that they had little in the way of alternatives to replace the fool.

Adriun then appeared and seemed to be working to mediate the scuffle, but by his words he too realized that there had already been damage done. Kunzhardt's foolishness had quite possibly brought forth even more hatred towards all of those who were not of 'Pure Blood'. Adriun's interference spoke to the man's weakness, his desire to keep peace was wasted here, Kunzhardt had already all but guaranteed reprisal, not just against himself, but likely against all those who were half bloods and outsiders.

With his wardens in tow he vanished down a corridor, moving away from the spat between Kunzhardt and Lugerev, caring not for whatever the ending of the altercation would be. He would make preparations, not only to lead and participate in the trench lines but also to sure up as much as he could within his company should any form of reprisal come from the 'Pure Bloods' in the wake of Kunzhardt's foolishness before they dropped planetside for their campaign.
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post #47 of 105 (permalink) Old 10-04-14, 11:48 AM
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Squad Kon’tu arrayed itself before me in good time at the rest of their brothers made ready their preparations to depart on their next campaign. The stench of corruption hung around them like a noxious gas. I was surprised even the Gorgon’s ailed mind had failed to spot it. Abruptly my vox chimed. Iapetus was wondering where I was. Obviously his ‘discussion’ with Lugerev and the Lion had terminated quicker than I expected. Fine, this could wait. “I want these men stripped of their armour and weapons, bound and sent to the Ferra Perpetua. I will resume this there.” With that I left. I could antagonise the half-breed more later, and he would obey my orders, or he would feel the consequences.

I made my way quickly back to my quarters. The librarium was quiet now, all of its charges gone to various companies to investigate them. I entered my chambers and found Iapetus waiting. I wagered he had been here longer than he would have liked. “Brother, we must talk. But not yet.” I closed the door behind me and poured my consciousness into the walls, waking the sleepy hexagramic wards that would keep out and unwanted ears. Iapetus nodded shallowly.
“You have my ears, Coeus.

The walls hummed with warp energy. They smothered our thoughts and words. None outside this room would ever know what was said or done here. “First, the good news. Pelegon denied any further investigation into the 2nd Company…” I let that hang for just long enough. “…until I reminded him that would only allow such a taint to fester. Following my advice, he ordered a Grand Company-wide inspection.” I leant in, a vicious sneer on my face. “I have the Warsmith’s authority to investigate every single mangy, festering half-breed and discover any taint they’re hiding.”
”And there will be taint?” Iapetus asked, pursing his lips.
Iapetus was hungry for blood, of that much I was certain.
“Yes brother, I am certain there will be taint in their midst.” This went beyond simply prejudice.

Iapetus grimaced.
”Who? The Second? Kunzhardt?” Impurity was something neither he nor I could forgive, let alone tolerate. “Certainly the Gorgon’s men harbour taint. Of the others, I’m not certain yet…” I stressed that. I would know all soon enough. “…but I’m sure once we set fire to the base all the ants will start crawling out.” Iapetus raised a gauntlet and clenched it into a fist.
“Reveal them and I shall crush them… He rumbled. ”These will not be the first, Coeus, and they will not be the last. I nodded slowly, approvingly.
“Oh I will. I’ll drive them from every warren and dark corner they try to hide in. There is nowhere they can hide from me. You know that this means I’ll have to investigate the 7th as well though Iapetus?”

The Shipwright smiled, coldly, and waved his hand.
“Do what you must, Coeus…” He said, his eyes never wandering from my own “I have nothing to hide, and neither do the Seventh.” I chuckled lightly.
“I know that brother. Almost a quarter of my Librarian’s call the 7th Company home. I would be surprised if they had left any taint unaddressed in my absence…”
“I would not let a taint go unchecked.” Iapetus asserted, the insinuation that there may still be taint wounding him. I nodded and continued.
“…But, you understand, I must be seen to investigate everyone with equal scrutiny.” I was certain my brother’s men would be without taint, least of all because true Iron Warriors would never bow before such powers as the Pantheon.

“However, I did not call you down here and bind us in secret wards to discuss a simple investigation.”
“Speak openly. Why am I here?” Even we could snap at each other from time to time, and the notion of there being a taint amongst his men had certainly railed Iapetus. He was the only one who could speak so candidly, with such ill-reverence to me and I would tolerate it.
“I called you here because Pelegon may possess psychic powers.”
“What?” Iapetus hissed, stepping closer. “How has this gone unnoticed?”

I gritted my teeth. I wasn’t sure if it was an accusation or not, but it may as well be. It was the same question I had been asking myself. “I am certain he is not a psyker…” That was about all I could tell with absolute certainty. “…I would have known that. Up until now, I thought his ability to shield his thoughts from me was some innate talent he possessed, rather than any psychic skill. But he was able to identify another psyker out on the training fields. What else he is capable of…” It galled me to admit this. “…I can’t be certain.”
“Then be certain!” Iapetus snarled. “If Pelegon is a psyker, then that changes everything. How many of our brothers, half-breed or high-born, would follow a witch?” Iapetus laughed. It was true, as much power as one could obtain as a psyker, it was a path you walked alone. I knew that very well. I would never be the leader of men that he was. “The Warsmith should not be exempt from your hunt. Have him searched for taint, publicly, and if found wanting...” He smirked. “You understand.”

I understood perfectly. “Pelegon is not a psyker!” I spat the words in indignation. The Warsmith did not wield the power I did and certainly did not know what it was like to pay the price for it. “It may be nothing more than a phenomenon born from Warp exposure…” My thoughts coalesced. I met Iapetus’ smile with my own, seeing a way this could play to our advantage. “…a mutation, you might say. Whilst the psyker gene is a stable and useful deviance, if the warp had seen fit to bless our leader with another means of perceiving the Immaterium then who is to say where such a ‘gift’ came from?”

I was not convinced that it was definitely proof that Pelegon was himself a slave to the Dark Gods, but it was certainly a possibility and that was enough to worry me. The other was it being a simple random mutation. That was what time in the warp did, it changed you. Whether you wanted it to or not. “I am almost certain…” I said after a little while “…that his powers are passive. I have never felt his thoughts paw at my own defences, nor I imagine have any of my brethren. I will monitor him and look for any other clues as to what powers he possesses.” I rolled my tongue over my teeth again. “I will purify the rest of the Grand Company first. Then I will call for his public investigation in a council of the Captains. He would not refuse me then, and then we will know the truth of the matter.”

“This is worrying, to say the least…” Iapetus admitted. “If Pelegon has patrons amongst the Warp, then this taint has spread deeper than expected, into the very bones of our Company.” That was certainly a worrying thought I had to admit. If this was not a benign quirk, but indicative of some deeper taint, then plans would have to move faster than I would like. Planning was everything here, we could not afford to rush. Iapetus and I stayed, barred from the rest of the world for a while still, talking whilst everyone else frantically made preparations for their own bloodletting.

Many long hours later, we eventually emerged. We would not speak openly of what had been said there and Iapetus had enough rough mental training to be able to resist most determined psykers for a time. I joined him on the Strom Eagle back to the Wandering King. The 7th was already in orbit. It was rare that they stepped foot on Medrengard, they were a legion born and raised with the steel of ship decking under their feet. It was not idly that they were called Asterionae.

My brother had ordered a parade inspection in the main hangar of the Wandering King. It was a chance for me to gauge them, try and spot any immediate taint, but it was more than that. It was a show of force like no other. We arrived, Tirgivil and I flanking the Shipwright, I on his right and Tirgivil on his left. The scene that greeted us was one of magnificent splendour. They men aboard the Wandering King were divided into four Phalanxes, each a hundred men at least. The first few rows were occupied by terminators and I saw seven of my Librarian’s spread throughout. Iapetus had even brought the Dreadnoughts out of their slumber. My heart beat a little faster. This was what the IVth legion was. This is what Pelegon and those half-breeds had forgotten.

Iapetus launched into his speech. I didn’t know if he had prepared it or the words rolled spontaneously off of his tongue. I could probe him and find out, but I didn’t want too. I preferred it like this. I had a towering ego of my own, but this moment was about Iapetus, and I was content to let him soar. His men began to beat their fists, their shields, their weapons. It began slowly at first, with a murmur of his name. As the speech went on though, the tempo increased and they began to shout. My librarians looked to me and I joined in, as did Tirgivil. Iapetus had to almost roar to be heard over the cacophony that bombarded us.

As the speech reached its climax, the pitch of the hangar approached hysteria. It rolled off of his men in waves, their adoration as audible for me as their voices. This was what it was like to not be feared, but loved. These men would travel the farthest reaches of the galaxy and face down any obstacle as long as Iapetus stood at their head. The exalted him with every name they could think of. They called him by name, they lauded him by his titles. Every praise dripped from their lips, but only those of us who could hear their thoughts heard the single phrase that they all thought, but dared not speak. It was a delicious blasphemy, one I would never speak of but I heard it all the same. They all as one lauded him as Warsmith.

I didn’t stay much longer after that. Iapetus had his duties to attend to aboard his ships and I had my duties elsewhere. After the ceremony was through, I briefly spoke with my Librarians. In their time, they had not detected any taint, but they would be sure to investigate thoroughly. I was certain that the 7th was Unbroken, but I wanted to be sure. Empty boasts of purity did me no good, but verified proof would infuriate the half-breeds to no end. After that, I excused myself and took a Storm Eagle to the Ferra Perpetua. As impressive as the iron behemoth was, I still preferred being aboard the Wandering King or the Lonesome Queen.

I didn’t rest once I had arrived aboard the Warsmith’s capital ship. Immediately I sought the manifest to see if Kunzhardt had sent up his men yet. Fortunately he had. They were held in the bowels of the ship, in separate cells. At least the half-breed could execute commands, but then so could a servitor. I made my way below and interrogated each of them in turn. At least two I ruled out. Their only crime was ignorance. Two more had no sign of taint themselves, but had felt something shift in the squad. They didn’t know enough to punish, but they knew enough to confirm that there was taint.

That left Brother Hadrius. From the moment I first saw him, I felt something foul clinging to him. I questioned him and he denied any taint. When I probed deeper into his mind, he still denied it. For an hour, he continued to deny my accusations and resist my searches. It was all lies. I saw memories of shadowed meetings with a small group of shrouded figures, their faces deliberately obscured from one another. They knelt in a heptagon and the buzzing of flies could be heard around them. They drank foul liquids siphoned from the 2nd’s poison stocks. All the while, a scab on Hadrius’ shoulder continued to weep, staining his tunic yellow with pus.

That was enough for me to condemn him for heresy and taint, but it would do for me to have a separate opinion to confirm my suspicions about his wound. As I lead Hadrius to the Apothecarion, the man seemed to hope, which I found amusing. Perhaps he believed he had fooled me, somehow managed to his taint from me. I wanted to set an example, but an example that was irrefutable before the Warsmith and the Gorgon. To be tainted so would surely irk the man who was already arguably unstable.

And so I left Hadrius with Lugerev, asking for his opinion on his wound. In truth, it could be a simple infection. Such things did happen, albeit rarely, and it might just be an unfortunate coincidence for Hadrius. I did doubt that though. More than likely Lugerev would confirm what I already knew and then he or I would end the Astarte’s miserable existence. Then we would see how much his God favoured him. The diagnostic was not long in coming, and it was as I had predicted. Lugerev had taken his life and destroyed his gene-seed, but I didn’t mind that. The Primus Medicae had the right to keep or destroy whatever gene-seed he saw fit, and ending the taint from one man would no doubt be cathartic for him.

So it was that I walked into the briefing with a mixture of joy and disgust. My suspicions were validated. How long would it be before the others began to realise how inferior these half-breed were when compared to genuine Iron Warriors. I was careful to keep my face passive though. My orders were simple enough. I was to continue my investigation as much as I could. Other than that, it appeared Pelegon was hardly concerned with what I did during the actual battle. Not that it mattered. This was more of a culling anyway, and a seemingly fruitless one at that. Pelegon barked on about how his exacting plans had to be met, but it hardly seemed like the most challenges of sieges the XIX had ever participated in.

If I didn’t know better, I would have said this was a staging ground for some greater event. This was made even more apparent by Pelegon’s focus in my orders on the mission after this, where “purity would be paramount”. Because at any other time it was optional? A nice addition if we could manage, but otherwise don’t bother? I wondered if Pelegon was being deliberately obtuse, or trying to play some political mind game with them. If so, he was very poor at it. I could run circles around him. I watched him though, wondering if he would use whatever powers he possessed as a flashy ‘show of force’.

It wasn’t long before the half-breeds were mewling about their lots in life. Kunzhardt complained that his commands entailed little more than target practice, although quite what he expected to be doing when he commanded a siege company other than target practice bemused me. Then it was Tyberus’ turn to whine about not his company not being suited to taking prisoners and that perhaps it would be better to leave the Imperium nothing more than a dead husk of a world. Wanton slaughter made as much sense at this point as any other command Pelegon had given, which was to say very little. However, such thoughts of mine were guarded well enough that no one would know them.

It was time for Pelegon to step in. He couldn’t let dissenting voices go one for too long. They were slipping their leashes. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to laugh or vomit at Pelegon’s empty praise of the 2nd Captain. It was abhorrent to watch a half-breed be lifted so high, especially one who commanded such a cancerous company. Pelegon’s rebuke of Tyberus was endlessly amusing though. But then so was Pelegon’s assertion that every man in the Grand Company served him alone. I knew that was false, and felt many others suspect the same thing. What amused me even more was that his own honour guard turned on him without a moment’s consideration. Whatever hold Tyberus thought he had on the 1st company, it clearly wasn’t enough to protect him.

Then Aldriun made his own request, which was amusing to me in a sad, pathetic way. One of his subordinates had sent him to petition for the Space Wolf gene-seed for experimentation, which Pelegon blithely granted. I wondered if he had so easily forgotten the machinations of Fabius Bile and how one man had turned a legion into slaves to excess. If Pelegon was content to let the cancers of ruin fester, then he was even less competent that I had previously thought. The other request was a plea to spare the children. It was common knowledge that the Master of the Forge himself was slave born, but I could forgive him that because he was one of the few commanders here who still held the Iron Warrior gene-seed in their breasts. Pelegon denied this, apparently content to let Astartes of the IVth legion blood themselves against every obstacle rather than let thralls take the worst of the beatings.

The meeting was interesting to gauge the responses of each of the captains. As Tyberus slinked away, I drove a spear of thought into his mind. *Looks like there is still a great deal of weakness in the 1st company, Tyberus.* He would feel my disgust and pleasure at his reprimand, but I didn’t mind. It was no secret that I had no love of the Night Lord and he should know that he was beneath me.

Far more pressing was Kunzhardt threatening Lugerev, apparently incensed by him killing Hadrius. Aldriun stepped in and tried to persuade the Gorgon-spawn to let him go. The techmarine’s mechandrites slithered into serpentine life. This was not his battle to fight though. It was mine. An outstretched hand sent a rolling wave of telekinetic energy barrelling into Kunzhardt, forcing him to stagger and drop Lugerev. “How dare you, mewling wretch!” My voice was dark and fearsome. I had sundered men’s souls with it. Eternal Schism was in my hand, ethereal energies cracking along its length and the runes etched into it glowing brighter. Insatiable Hunger burst into life too, the talons becoming wreathed in a deadly power field. They lenses of my helmet glowed brighter as I readied my powers in case Kunzhardt was even more of a fool than I suspected.

“Your man Hadrius was tainted and I sent him to Lugerev to confirm as much. He did what was necessary where you would not…” I stalked forward putting myself between Lugerev and the 2nd captain. “…Worse still, the taint is not restricted to one man. There are at least six others in your company who kneel before the God of Decay. And you dare to accuse Lugerev of taint when your company is rotten with it.” It was a grave accusation indeed. “The Primus Medicae acted on my orders, and my orders are to purify this Grand Company of taint, wherever it hides. If you are so motivated to protect those in your midst who are corrupted, it is me you should challenge. Let us see if your Gods will save you now.” My sixth sense opened up, gazing down the possible paths of the near future. In several, Kunzhardt attacked me. In none of those did it end well for him…

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 final push. One punch. One blow. That would be all that was needed to end the taint of a feeble mind within the company. The damned wretch was still living among the Primarch's in his thoughts during the so called Golden Age of the Imperium! And this soul was entrusted with the care of their precious gene seed!? He had been denied his proper destiny and the path of the Primarch by THIS office!?

He remembered countless years before, the original apothecary that had gifted him the curse of impurity. He couldn't recall the specific soul now long since forgotten. The final honor of being an Iron Warrior after such hardships that most couldn't begin to imagine and his final crowning moment of induction into the 4th legion and he received second rate seed. The captured seed of a lesser chapter was forced into him and forever altered his path. Thousands of years in the past and seemingly an eternity of remarks and snipes and he was the Exterminatus of worlds- he was the Centurion heading the greatest company ever to eclipse the galaxy in the shade of firepower.

"My crucible yields only the strongest Iron you senile fool! Did you truly see taint or did you see a Dusk Raider under your blade???"

A cocked fist twitched and he could feel tendons pulling as his hips opened that would bring a swift end to the rusted blade only to be interrupted by the young blood in the Forge. What his point was in this was negligible. Close to six thousand years in the materium and a choice that was not his own was ready to yield closure. There was taint in the company, but not by chaos or warp but by the tides of time wearing down at rusted Iron and bringing it to languish.

The small pause caused by Adruin now past- his resolve was firmed only to find himself sprawled across the floor like so much discarded rubbish. His skin felt cold and his mind hummed bringing a swimming world that lasted only a moment until a dominant willpower brought everything back into focus. It was obvious now, the hushed conversations, the darting glances, the conspiratorial group with spines too weak to bring forth their complaints. The group of purists would seek to end all non-Olympians and likely the Warsmith himself for his weakness in allowing 'half breeds'. Everything came into focus all at once and he was the first step on their path.

The twisted voice barked at him with the augmentation of warp energies seeking to bolster a weak figure like a weakling using a vox screamer to make their voice more menacing. The axe pompously named like some trinket owned by Fulgrim's twisted transsexuals crackled with energy in the air pointed directly at him in a threatening manner not unlike his own power fist should it crackle to life. It wouldn't be obvious to others with his helmet secured in place but there was faint pleasure at the show of authority as Kunzhardt forced whatever discomfort from the warp touched mind away from his conscious thoughts. He felt muscle twitches in his hand and for a brief moment entertained conflict. He would prime a phosphex grenade and let the librarian drink in the aura of the Destroyers who brought obliteration to planets with ease. There would be damage to his own body but he would enjoy watching the warp twisted witch melt into a puddle of nothing. There would be no need for that. He would have to fight both the psyker and likely the Forge Lord. He would take the time to explain his remarks but clearly the 'purist' was so blinded by his inflated sense of self-worth and his absolute blood lust for 'impurity' that it would fall on deaf ears.

Realizing an overall disadvantage he forced his own rage to leave him, now would not be his time. There was nothing but black hate in his hearts for the conspirators and even a non-psyker could likely sense it but he would not allow it to overtake him like a berserker. Adruin would be safe the pup likely just trying to steady the boat more than anything else but those conspirators would not.

"No we both know where your crosshairs lie, pure blood. I wonder why the Primarch purged Olympia?"

He stormed from the room intent on returning to his own quarters to exact much needed punishment. His mercy had extinguished and his standards had not been met. The hall echoed in silence and it seemed like even the servitors scattered from his path of destruction. Immediately upon entering the quarters there was silence. The soldiers within had been paused by the investigation and that seemed to only further his frustration. Vhalos came forth immediately and for his own punishment like a fly to the web. A strong hissing blow flew out sending the adjutant tumbling across the room with a dented chest plate.

"You were trusted with ensuring the absolute superiority of the Mechanized Fist, Vhalos! You have failed!"

His thoughts drifted to stories of Perturabo Decimating the legion upon taking command ensuring only the strongest purity and discipline; were they not in the midst of a campaign he would put the order down and send the blood bucket by bucket to the Librarium to satisfy their inquisition but he needed to make an example to show that even a more favored from the Immovable was still not above reproach.

"What!? What are you doing!?"

"Making an example of a disappointment. Assemble the men."

Even with the helmet secured Vhalos oozed frustration and to a degree worry but would carry out the order. He barked it out and the men that weren't currently being directly examined came forth and stood before him at attention. He paced back and forth like a Lion pronouncing dominance. There was a mighty assembly of flesh and metal before him all in flawless lines. The Iron Havocs, his downpour of munitions stood some with barrels still smoking and fresh blood stained on their otherwise pristine armour. Each one uniform but with a level of customization to impose their own preferred method of battle from targeting systems articulated in the helmets of the more precise within his company to horns and chains for those that would bring their devastating firepower closer to hear the cries of the bloodied. Each set of power armour shined brilliantly despite the unpainted iron. The vehicle crews were present too. They drilled incessantly with blank rounds to bring the pause between shots to a point that would bring the finest artillery of other company to tears. Their undecorated armour carried a slight sheen to it from the oil; they tended to eschew trophies and decorations in favor of superior mobility and dexterity. Each one of them could easily perform any task in their station and could take over should one of the others expire and many could operate a vehicle independent of other crew members albeit not as efficiently. His eyes turned finally to the blackened corpses within his command the Destroyers. Soldiers whose dedication to bringing absolute oblivion to enemies in lieu of their own wellbeing. They would die and they knew this and yet they carried themselves with untouchable pride and would not complain and they would never falter until their body collapsed. He favored them and it was known. He had been a Destroyer himself and felt a kindred spirit towards those condemned souls. They all stood perfectly at attention and the line went so far he could not even see the end of it; he was prepared for campaign and would bring the Fist down like a battlebarge on whatever forsaken soul they were matched against. They were superior to every army that would bring guns to bare and they had disappointed him.

"I have pushed you all. Pushed to the brink, broken you, and forged you into more than you are. You are to be the finest company ever witnessed in the age of man and you have been found tainted! There is a black mark of corruption upon the Fist on the eve of campaign! Hadrius and Rorke have already been found and exterminated! Let their existence be wipe forever from the records of the XIXth their very names are abominable and will be expunged from all history! Now I break my Adjutant the same way I broke you all."


The last line rolled with the threat as he moved towards his failed subordinate who had righted himself only to be struck again this time with a swinging elbow from his left arm into his rib cage. Vhalos would not attempt to retaliate such was the discipline with which he instilled his men.

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Adriun simply stood there as the events came to pass, he felt the air chill as the will of Coes' warp infused mind passed like a torrential storm and assaulted the mind of the Captain of the Second, who now was sprawled on the ground. The Librarian stepped out and spat more obscenities, and accusations of worship of Nurgle among the Second. It was not uncommon knowledge of the connection between the Shipwright, The Seer and the Maddened Medicae. It could not be denied that impurity was found in the second, a fact that made him pity Kunzhardt, whom he knew did not want such sentiments from the young Forge Master.

However despite all the conflict that had boiled to the surface here, Kunzhardt proved his strength by simply walking away, something he knew without having to read minds that the Seer would not have wanted. The purists wanting any excuse to put down any that fell short of their genetic standards. As Kunzhardt tread away, possibly to figure out how far this taint reached himself, Adriun allowed his Mechadendrites to curl back into a more passive position.

Now he found himself alone with the Seer, whom he would have council with if not for the obvious tension in the air. He disliked the Librarian's beliefs but he knew that his art was an essential one, as much as his own, and he had ideas for cooperation that would benefit the Grand Company if inacted. But that would wait, he looked over at the recovering Lugerev, something in the illusively lucid astartes' eyes told him that he wished to speak with Adriun.

"Seer." He nodded to the Present Librarian, then looked to Lugerev,"Medicae, is there something you wish to say to me? your eyes speak for you."

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Footsteps, followed by a door opening, reached Iapetus's ears. He turned, armour groaning, and locked eyes with his brother. Their eyes were so alike, green and vaguely almond-shaped, and yet so different.

'Brother, we must talk,' The Seer said. 'But not yet.'

Iapetus nodded shallowly. 'You have my ears, Coeus.'

'First, the good news. Pelegon denied any further investigation into the 2nd Company,' Coeus said. 'Until I reminded him that would only allow such a taint to fester. Following my advice, he ordered a Grand Company-wide inspection,' He leant in close, his breath washing over my face, rancid and stinking of witchery. 'I have the Warsmith's authority to investigate every single mangy, festering half-breed and discover any taint they’re hiding.'

'And there will be taint?' Iapetus asked, pursing his lips.

'Yes brother, I am certain there will be taint in their midst.'

Iapetus grimaced. Taint, whilst uncommon, was not unheard of. When one of the Grand Company was discovered to be touched, Coeus and Lugerev's hatchet-men moved in. 'Who? The Second? Kunzhardt?'

'Certainly the Gorgon’s men harbour taint. Of the others, I’m not certain yet,' Iapetus's witch-twin said. 'But I’m sure once we set fire to the base all the ants will start crawling out.'

Iapetus raised a gauntlet and clenched it into a fist. 'Reveal them and I shall crush them,' He rumbled. 'These will not be the first, Coeus, and they will not be the last.'

'Oh I will,' Coeus nodded, slowly and contemplatively. 'I’ll drive them from every warren and dark corner they try to hide in. There is nowhere they can hide from me. You know that this means I’ll have to investigate the 7th as well though Iapetus?'

The Shipwright smiled, coldly, and waved his hand. 'Do what you must, Coeus,' He said, never breaking his gaze with the Seer. 'I have nothing to hide, and neither do the Seventh.'

'I know that brother. Almost a quarter of my Librarian’s call the 7th Company home. I would be surprised if they had left any taint unaddressed in my absence. But, you understand, I must be seen to investigate everyone with equal scrutiny,' Coeus explained, trailing off. 'However, I did not call you down here and bind us in secret wards to discuss a simple investigation.'

'I would not let a taint go unchecked,' Iapetus corrected. His brothers, his Company, were loyal. They had fought with him, bled with him, jested with him - On a thousand worlds, in a thousand wars. A taint on them was a taint on his honour, and that, most of all, disgusted Iapetus. 'Speak openly. Why am I here?'

'I called you here because Pelegon may possess psychic powers.'

'What?' Iapetus hissed, stepping closer. 'How has this gone unnoticed?'

'I am certain he is not a psyker,' The Seer explained. 'I would have known that. Up until now, I thought his ability to shield his thoughts from me was some innate talent he possessed, rather than any psychic skill. But he was able to identify another psyker out on the training fields. What else he is capable of,' Coeus hesitated, searching for words. 'I can’t be certain.'

'Then be certain,' Iapetus drawled. 'If Pelegon is a psyker, then that changes everything. How many of our brothers, half-breed or high-born, would follow a witch?' He laughed at the irony, deep and loud. 'The Warsmith should not be exempt from your hunt. Have him searched for taint, publicly, and if found wanting...'

He smirked. 'You understand.'

'Pelegon is not a psyker!' Coeus bellowed, enraged. It soon coalesced into a smile. 'It may be nothing more than a phenomenon born from Warp exposure. a mutation, you might say. Whilst the psyker gene is a stable and useful deviance, if the warp had seen fit to bless our leader with another means of perceiving the Immaterium then who is to say where such a ‘gift’ came from.'

'I am almost certain,' Coeus continued. 'That his powers are passive. I have never felt his thoughts paw at my own defences, nor I imagine have any of my brethren. I will monitor him and look for any other clues as to what powers he possesses. I will purify the rest of the Grand Company first. Then I will call for his public investigation in a council of the Captains. He would not refuse me then, and then we will know the truth of the matter.'

'This is worrying, to say the least,' Iapetus admitted. 'If Pelegon has patrons amongst the Warp, then this taint has spread deeper than expected, into the very bones of our Company.'

Onwards they talked, into the night - Was it night? - Iapetus could never tell, on this world of rock, of hardship, of pain. Time did not pass, in the Warp, as it did in reality. Night and day, hour by hour - It was all wrong. Eventually, Iapetus suggested they return to the Wandering King, where he initiated an inspection of the Company - Firstly, to ensure the Seventh were at combat-readiness, and secondly, and more importantly, as a show of power.

***
In Olympian, they were the Asterionae, the Kings of the Stars. In Gothic, they were the Cold, the Remnant, the Seventh. To Iapetus, and extensively, Coeus and Lugerev, they were friends, comrades-in-arms and brothers. They were a brotherhood of princes, of butchers, of post-humans. Arrayed before Iapetus, Coeus and Tirgivil - Who, in Lugerev's absence, held seniority - They were glorious. Banners fluttered above their heads, armour shone cold and bright, ruby-red eyepieces were locked forward. They carried swords and spears, axes and claws. Some had trophies; belts festooned with gauntlets, sheared helmets, power-blades taken from the dead.

The Terminators stood to the fore. Huge, hunched and feral, these were the pride of the Seventh, Iapetus's bloody-right hand. Some had come from the First Company, upon the Night Lord's murder of old Krotas, seeking sanctuary with Iapetus and his Olympians. He had taken them in, harboured them aboard his ships, and defied all requests, all orders, to return them to Tyranus. This was where the Seventh differed from the other Companies; barring the First, it held, undeniably, the highest concentration of Tactical Dreadnought Armour. The Seventh's nature, as ship-boarders, ship-takers and ship-breakers, required it. In terms of manpower, they were remarkably powerful - And pure - But lacked the necessities to carry out prolonged planet-side operations. Their size, and composition, both put them at an advantage and a disadvantage.

'Alcibiades,' He said, to one of the Terminators. The Marine went unhelmed, a long, braided beard hanging down to his chest. He was handsome, in a classical sense, with a thin nose and angular cheekbones. Once, Alcibiades had been one of Krotas's Lieutenants - Now, he was one of Iapetus's truest men. 'At Pharsus, it as you who held the breach, against the swine-breed,' He raised his voice, echoing throughout the hanger. 'On they came, the Orks, with their cleavers and clubs, and you turned them back.'

'You,' He swung a hand across the Company. 'And the Last of Olympia!'

There was a roar. Knuckles rapped against shields, pommels, anything. Iapetus lifted an hand, and everything fell quiet. 'And you, Leonatev,' He called, to a fifth-ranker. 'Who saturated the soil of Sebastus IV with Dorn's mongrel blood!'

There was another roar. Somewhere along the ranks, a susurrus was building. They chanted his name, they bestowed the titles of Captain, Shipwright, Lord - A dozen others - Upon him.

'You are my brothers, as much as Coeus,' He laughed, flowing freely from his lips, and raised his voice once again, louder - Almost a roar. 'Sometimes, more! Pelegon, the Warsmith, has given us new orders. A new campaign. One of little glory, and seemingly, little importance.'

'That matters not! How many worlds have we conquered? A dozen, a hundred, thousands? How many times have we shed the blood of the Imperium, Asterionae?' He shook his head. 'And, tell me, what has it gotten us? Nothing! Where the ranks thin of good, loyal, tested Olympians, they fill with the impure! We, and we alone, remain untouched! And that is how we shall remain - Until our last breaths.'

'I ask but one thing of you,' He called, and they replied - Anything, Iapetus, anything. 'One thing.'

He unfastened his gauntlet. 'A blade and a chalice, brothers, I ask for a blade and a chalice!'

Quickly, it was done. Alcibiades presented the blade, a wickedly, s-shaped dagger, whilst one of the Librarians brought forth a bronze chalice. The Librarian knelt, as he had done so a thousand times, and held the chalice high.

'If the blood of Olympia is to be spilt, then allow us to do it now,' Iapetus boomed, and dragged the dagger across his palm. Blood flowed forth, into the chalice, and the Seventh cheered. The Shipwright held his fist into the air, blood oozing from between his fingers, and handed the dagger to Coeus. The Seventh cheered again, scarlet droplets running down Iapetus's armour. His Twin made the incision, followed by Tirgivil, and the remainder of the Company. It was a rite, a tradition they had carried into the stars with them, from lofty Olympia. It was heathen, barbaric, bordering on madness - Or so the naysayers prattled.

When the chalice was full, overflowing, Iapetus took it from the Librarian and upturned it. 'A libation,' He announced, the deck reddening. 'To Perturabo, to ravaged Olympia, and to the Seventh!'

He turned to Coeus and Tirgivil. 'You know what has to be done,' He smiled. 'With the scalpel of the Apothecarium, the hammer of the Librarium, and the anvil of the Seventh, it can be done.'

And so, with the inspection done, the ranks bled away. Coeus went aboard the Ferra Perpetua, Tirgivil to the Apothecarium, and Iapetus remained, alone. There were duties to be attended to.

***

'Engage the hololithic chamber,' Iapetus ordered, weeks later. The XIXth was in transit, towards their destination, towards the Wolf-Sons. He was aboard the Wandering King, aboard the bridge; a huge amphitheater of glowing consoles, where hundreds upon hundreds of crewmen laboured away. There were Iron Warriors, too, prowling through the embankments of stations.

There was a whine, as the hololithic chamber activated, and Iapetus stepped in. He was, unusually, unarmoured. He wore a long chiton, the hems sewn with gold, a bare shoulder on display. The skin was toughed and gnarled, like the hide of a lizard, from thousands of years of warfare. There was a short-sword strapped to his hip. Figures flickered, forming before him. He saw Pelegon, a giant among giants; the Night Lord, the Titan-Breaker. He saw the Master of the Tenth, Kunzhardt - Whom he glared at, openly - And, most importantly, Lugerev and Coeus.

Pelegon relayed his information and Iapetus listened. He knew the orders, he had mulled over them since the initial meeting, reorganising the Seventh as needed. A large portion of his Company were aboard the Lonesome Queen, ready to catch their target in a pincer. If Coeus wanted it, that command was his, but for now, it belonged to Alcibiades. Lugerev would return to the Wandering King, at some point, and board with his allocated escorts. For now, Tirgivil lorded over the Seventh's trio of Apothecaries.

As the council drew to a close, Iapetus nodded at Lugerev and the Seer, and stepped out of the hololithic chamber.

'Lumiana,' He said, settling back into his command throne. A woman, tall and pale, stepped close to her. She wore a uniform, one that had been passed through her family for generations. She was as Olympian, by blood, as Iapetus, Coeus or Lugerev. All of his crew were; from the up-deck aristocrats to the mewling, gibbering monstrosities, in the darkness of the lower-decks. Lumiana, like her ancestors, was Iapetus's equerry. Her family had served, faithfully, since Iapetus's youth. Her grandfather had died besides Iapetus, his blood had coated Iapetus's arms. There was a bond between them, one that went beyond master-and-servant. There was a familial bond. 'The moment we materialise, I want us ready. You can do that, young little sister,' He used the old, outdated, Olympian term of affection for her.

'Will it be soon?' She asked, in that curious, accent-less voice of hers. Iapetus often looked upon her, pondered whether she was beautiful, with her full lips, long dark hair and bright, intelligent eyes. But, alas, he could never tell. The Wandering King was beautiful, his spear was beautiful, the Seventh, when arrayed for combat, were beautiful. But, this woman, this mistress? She was flesh and blood. Soft, passionate. A vessel of blood, bone and muscle. When put like that, she seemed so small, so fragile and insignificant. No, he never could decide.

'I don't believe so,' He said, once again reading over his commands. 'I intend to shame the Grand Company. I intend to show them what Olympian means.'

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; 10-07-14 at 04:02 PM.
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