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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
(ooc: opening post, thus lengthy. I will say that Cleomenes's part is extremely specific to him, and him alone.)

Niko, Kain, Spurius, Vermaas, Raxan, Raziel, Zeiran, Hexor, Izrael:

Your vision becomes washed in red. You watch your brothers sitting all around you finish sealing on their own helmets. The Thunderhawk warning lights flash, letting you know it is disengaging from the docking systems. Black, yellow, and gold appearing only as flashes of 'darker' and 'lighter' sections of the armor your brothers wear. You all feel it... the dryness of your throat, the sinking feeling in your stomach.

The chapter's last remaining thunderhawk slides effortlessly out of The Heart's side port. The change in gravity outside of the ship isn't what makes your insides crawl. The transport's grav seats, your power armor's stabilization systems, years of intense training and advanced physiology all help make that ignorable.

However, years of training does nothing to help any of you feel comfortable now. Moments ago, every remaining Scythe of the Emperor aboard The Heart stood in silence on the bridge. There it was, Sotha, all of you seeing it in its lifeless state for the first time. Though still dead it, oddly enough, isn't quiet. The planet which now appears as a giant asteroid, rocks being all that was left behind by Kraken, currently has a fairly beautiful looking space battle playing out beside it.

Cleomenes had in fact arrived... perhaps a surprise to many. His Rogue trader's ships now fight off a ragged fleet of thieves with ease, which was now in full retreat since noticing the heavy approach of the Scythe's battle barge. Though willing to stand their ground against an established Rogue Trader, none of them would stand in the path of the Astartes for even a second; the scavenger fleet simply leaving behind those still on the surface.

Likely uninformed about the retreat of their fellows, and already in a fight for their lives they cannot quit, the scavengers on the surface fight outside the abandoned fortress monastery's remaining walls with the rogue trader's personal crewmen, Cleomenes surely with them. Lord Sotha, now the norm for him, refused to send more than a handful of his marines to the surface, despite nearly all of them wanting to walk the corpse of their homeworld.

Most of you are in the group of marines in what is left of the chapter's one and only 'Battle Company' that seems to have become Lord Sotha's preferred group to send out, the seven of you seeing the most time planet-side while searching for new recruits in various systems.

"Brother Sergeant Kain, Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Raxan, Vermaas, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes...and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us." This is what your Lord delegated.

But three more are among you in the darkness of the Thunderhawk as it drifts toward the surface of the planet, three who ignored this delegation. Whether or not they would normally disobey an order, this time they simply could not stop themselves. None of the rest of you were much in the mood to stop them from doing so, either.

One of them is Brother Izrael. His long blonde hair draped upon his chest armor to both the left and right of his helm, as well as falling between his back and power-pack. Normally you know him to have his hair tied, showing he was in haste to board the transport. He is known amongst you and your brothers to have a death wish, of sorts.

Another you all recognize due to his size and MKIII helmet design is brother Hexor who, similar to Izrael, seems to ahve the inability to help himself from getting into the fray.

The third, is brother Zeiran who... well, not known for anything brash like the other two apparently couldn't help himself this day either.

You all find yourselves expecting the atmospheric disturbance that will never come as the Thunderhawk continues its descent. None of you have seen true battle in over 15 years now. You find your muscles and adrenaline aching in unison with your gut.

So, for your first posts there is a great deal for your character to have thought about seeing their lifeless home world for the first time, and also what they are thinking now while in the thunderhawk. Please go over these thoughts and any words your character may wish to speak. Feel free to engage in any kind of conversation with one another. If the first post is nice an detailed I wont mind if a second one is simply a dialogue reply to someone.


All of the above applies to you as well, except that you are alone on the lower deck below your brothers. You saw Izrael, Zeiran, and Hexor board behind the others so you know they are above you as well. You alos were standing alongside the rest of the chapter in the bridge when the dead world of Sotha came into view. Like the rest of your squad, you have not seen any real action since Ferim. For you it will be even more of a change. This will likely be the first time you actually need to use the power of your new body.


(Several hours before the arrival of the Scythes of the Emperor battle barge)

You are the largest form upon the fancily decorated bridge of Tybaar's leading vessel. Other humans, cybernetic beings, and alien hybrids populate the bridge as well. While the Trader's fleet has been travelling through the warp, you and Tybaar have been sharing many pleasurable toxins of various sorts that he has collected over many years of work. You having to take twice the amount or more of most of these substances to feel on par with your old friend. The normal behavioral doctrine expected of an Astartes has never applied to you since serving under Tybaar's command, and you act especially in such a manner now, knowing you will have to obey Astartes standards once again very soon.

The two of you are laughing from retelling memories of your time together, as well as from the abused substances. When the navigator announces the fleet will be entering Sothan space in mere minutes. Tybaar laughs as loud as you, gaining great joy himself from witnessing your own. You have been a large factor in his success in the past few decades, but even on a personal level he will miss you dearly.

The fleet enters real-space in a flash. You are in your full power armor, helmet hanging at the side, prepared to formally rejoin your chapter. Your armored arm hangs lightly around the mortal Trader's shoulders while the smile from your face slowly disappears, and your brows become more and more furrowed.

You remove your arm from Tybaar's form. He is as frozen in not knowing what to think as you are while your eyes flick right, left, right, left, scanning over the light-brown rock of a planet in front of you.

Everyone on the bridge is already double checking coordinates, not needing to be asked. All come back with the same answer. This is Sotha.

A small fleet of mismatched ships comes into view beside the giant asteroid. Tybaar immediately straightens up in his throne, all effects from the toxins seeming to be gone entirely, other than his head still leaning sideways and his speech not the finely tuned machine it normally was. Slow, purposeful breathing indicates he is trying hard to concentrate. He attempts to communicate with the fleet, but no reply is given.

It takes almost two hours to get close enough for you to demand to be taken to the surface, not willing to wait around for the unknown ships to respond.

(Once you land the Scythe's barge will have just entered the system, but this is unknown to you.)

Start your post here: Tybaar along with a motley crew of his most preferred personnel accompany you down to the surface, landing on a broken concrete slab that was probably used to station tanks or other armored vehicles of the chapter. He and the group will have the inten of course, of trying to figure out what the hell has happened. But instead you will see before you a massive pillaging operation. It becomes clear, the fleet in orbit is a scavenger pirate fleet, here to steal whatever useful supplies remain in the Monastery. Though likely a costly decision for him, Tybaar will gladly accept doing you a favor by giving his own fleet the order to attack when you ask him to. You cannot see exactly who these scavengers are at this point but you will end your post by beginning to move towards them.

2,071 Posts
Solaki’s mind stirred groggily from his hypnotherapies and psychosomatic-controlling sleep. His internal clock told him that it was three days since he had last woken. Usually, dreadnoughts slept for much longer than this, but for the past fifteen years he had woken at least once a week. It was strange, this new body of his. His limbs moved with a similar dexterity to his body of flesh, but it moved in new and obscure ways. One of his first wake ups, he had sent two servitors flying across the room by moving more abruptly or in a way he hadn’t expected. Laikus hadn’t scolded him. The two had grown much closer. Laikus had worked on him, made him into something the chapter could hold onto, could hope in. He had forged him into a symbol of what the chapter would be. Solaki’s only concern was that he was no great hero. He had made many mistakes and had been guided by many of his brothers on Ferim. How could he be looked up to, when he himself knew so little and was still so fallible?

A large portion of his time had been sent in acclimatising to his new body, his new role, his new weapons. Over fifteen years, he had grown into his new self. Very few people had come to see him in his new form. Belial had appeared occasionally, but Solaki guessed it was more to visit Laikus than himself. Sotha had appeared once, recently. For a few moments no one had spoken, Sotha just looked him up and down. He had half-smiled finally, clearly pleased with the chapter’s new weapon and beacon. Solaki could not help but notice that his brother’s proportions appeared almost comical due to his size. Still, Solaki still honoured his liege lord. “We are returning to Sotha” his lord had told him. His adimantium shell protected him from the most heavy arms fire, but is did not protect him from those words. The words had resounded through his empty shell and clanged inside his head. He was going home.

He had quickly made his way up to the bridge. For a few moments, he stood alone up there, besides the bridge staff and Lord Sotha obviously. Gradually more and more marines filtered in. They stood beside his bulky form, like he was one of them. He was one of them, and yet, he was something more. Solaki noticed Kain and Niko, both of whom had become something more than they were when he knew them first. Slowly the now barren rock drifted into view. Their home had been cold and dead for so long, but now that they looked at it, it was strangely alive. Not with fauna and life, but with metal and fire. There was a battle raging above their home. One vessel was the Rogue Trader’s ship; that much was obvious. Although, the fact that it was here was impressive in itself. Cleomenes had been on loan to the Rogue Trader since before Sotha’s fall. For a brief instant, Solaki wondered if he knew beforehand that his home was gone.

The other vessels were thieves, scavengers, pirates. Solaki burned against them, and his anger was further amplified by his true and terrible form. But now was not the time to use it. He had been taught many things in things by Laikus and the hypnotherapies, one of which was that in such a powerful body, you had to be careful of yourself. Uncontrolled anger and emotions could lead to havoc. He needed to be the symbol the Chapter needed, and flying of the handle was not how to do that. He didn’t know what would make him into that, be he knew what wouldn’t. So he controlled it. He was going to the surface, and he would have his moment to exact revenge. But for now, his eyes glazed past the battle and the now fleeing heathen, and onto the solitary rock that had once been his home.

"Brother Sergeant Kain, Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Raxan, Vermaas, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes...and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us." Those were Lord Sotha’s instructions as they departed the bridge toward the landing bay where the last remaining Thunderhawk of the chapter sat, waiting to ferry its solemn but deadly cargo. Laikus was running a few last minutes checks on the bird as Solaki approached. “Well brother techmarine…” Solaki’s metallic voice rasped. It was strange hearing himself speak, even now. “…it seems it is time to test your handiwork and my mettle.”
“It would appear so” Laikus was not one for many words. Solaki silently wondered if he was up for the task. This was his first real combat since Ferim, over a decade and a half ago. He had learnt so much, and yet so little he felt, in that time. A small part of him felt fear that he would fail his chapter. That was another emotion he had been taught to control and use as a weapon, like everything else. But he still felt it, and it would not go away. He dare not voice it; it would not do for other marines to see that their chapter’s only relic felt a modicum of fear. Laikus anticipated this. “You are ready, Brother Solaki. Now show those vermin whose home they are defiling. Bring Cleomenes back, and make this chapter proud.”

Solaki watched the rest of his squad enter the thunnderhawk. Well, it wasn’t a true squad. With the numbers of the chapter being as low as they were, Sotha would only send certain, hand-picked members to go on missions. Lately, it seemed that he had become rather fond of those he had sent today. Clearly he trusted them. Mostly it had just been recruitment from several worlds, and the Scythes now had several would-be scouts attached to them. After Astelan though, Niko and Alexander had not let anyone be implanted with gene-seed. They gene-seed was too valuable to risk, and they would not lose more brothers to treachery. They would certainly not lose any more gene-seed to it. Niko and Kain both boarded the thunderhawk and acknowledged him. Solaki did think it was slightly risky committing one of the chapter’s only two apothecaries to a battle. But, they were only pirates down there. They probably didn’t even had weapons which should worry them, and so Niko was not truly in danger. Still, in future, Solaki thought Sotha should be more careful with committing too many of the Chapter’s resources at one time.

Solaki also clocked three other marines entering the thunderhawk. Marines who shouldn’t have been there. Izreal. Hexor. Both reckless and he was not surprised with their ignoring Sotha’s orders. But then, he knew that every marine on board wanted to set foot on their home, but few had the gall to defy their lord so blatantly. Zeiran was the one which surprised him. However, Solaki said nothing. Had he not been in his current form, and had he not been assigned, he may well have done the same. And so, Solaki stepped onto the thunderhawk, but could not be with his brothers. He instead stood alone in the lower deck, alone. He was alone with his thoughts and at this moment his mind fixated on the irony that his first taste of combat as a dreadnought one his home-world. It had been so long since he was last here. Solaki was anxious to use his new body, and anxious to see his home again. Even in this state. Even after everything that had happened to him. He was coming home…

748 Posts
Brother Hexor sits in the back of the Thunderhawk looking around at his brothers trying his best to smile and lighten the dark mood in the ship, though it doesn't seem to working well at all. He thinks back to the moment they arrived in system and saw their former homeworld for the first time since it was abandoned to the xenos. He remembers a red haze coming over his eyes and an ache to be covered in the blood of the hated tyranids. Hexor managed, through strength of will alone, to push aside his thoughts of revenge and listened intently to the reports coming in of the lifeless planet, the pirate fleet around it, and the rogue traders ship taking fire while trying to repel the vile invaders.

Upon hearing of the mission to the planets surface and the small team going down to pick up Brother Cleomenes and destroy those ignorant enough to defile the graves of his Brothers his mind was made up. He immediately went to his quarters and geared up knowing he would be on thunderhawk one way or another. He was already wearing his power armour so he grabbed his bolt psitol and slapped it to his right thigh, mag-locking it into place. Picking up the sheath for his combat blade he strapped it to his left calf, making sure the buckles were latched tight and then slid the knife into it clicking the strap over the hilt. He took up his favorite weapon; his, for the moment, immaculate chainsword and hooked it to his left hip, drawing it a couple times to makes sure it was in just the right spot should he need it. He then picked up his blessed bolter and left his quarters with it in his hands. He stopped by the ships chapel and gave a short prayer to the Almighty Emperor of Man before making his way to the hangar bay. It took a little work to get aboard without being seen, but he'd been a Battle Brother long enough to know when and how to use stealth.

Now, sitting in the rear of the thunderhawks passenger bay, turns to Brother-Sergeant Kain, "Order's Brother-Sergeant? I realise I wasn't assigned to be on this mission but I'm here so tactically it would make sense to make use of me. I understand the consequences of my actions in this pursuit and will atone upon returning to the ship. But for the moment I am yours to use as you see fit, sir."

He then turns to Brother Izrael, "I've seen your sword work Brother, it would be my honour to challenge you in the practice rooms upon our return to the ship, should we not be secluded to our quarters for disobedience in coming on this mission."

703 Posts
He looked at it as he stood upon the observation deck of The Heart. It was a barren rock, devoid life and luster the only thing upon its surface the broken remains of his chapter's pride and the confusion which he tried to leave upon its surface. The last time Brother Vermaas had tread upon that plighted rock he had been waging an unwinnable war against the Tyranid scoruge as they fell like rain from the very skies. His mind was troubled in those days, where even the purity of warfare had not been enough to earse the doubts and fears he had supressed. He doubted his chapter's purity, its faith, and his own faith in the Emperor, for whom they had sacrificed their humanity to serve. Such confusion was maddening for him and the turmoil of such a bloody and impossible war had left his mind numb since then.

He could hear, even now, the echo of gunfire in his mind's ear and see the muzzle flashes of hundreds of Astartes guns as his chapter defied the Great Devourer. He could smell the burning of xeno flesh, their vile blood as it spilled from them in great gushes, and he could smell his own desperation. The squad he eventually tagged onto was ad-hoc at best, a scattering of survivers that had happened upon one another and quickly, as only Astartes did best, formed up into a cohesive unit. They had been pushed back into an old rockcrete pillbox-style bunker where they were cut off from the main defensive force and required to hold their position. They never stopped firing it seemed, and when their ammunition finally let up the Tyranids did not stop they broke open the pillboxes meter thick adamantium door and attempted to claw and gnash their way inside. They had been stopped with chainsword and combat knife and Astartes muscle. He felt a certain level of relief as he remembered how this memory ended with them literally bashing their way out of the pillbox, their chainsword siezed up in coagulated xeno blood -- their limbs beyond the point of exhaustion even for an Astartes but their hatred fueled them into just one more punch, one more pull, one more crushing grip.

He had survived, the Scythes had survived albeit a little to his surprise. A release of pleasure filled his body as he remembered standing triumphant over a thousand Tyranid corpses before they were ordered to move out. He'd look back at the pillbox longing in those days as he stepped away, its rockcrete survive was litterally shredded with long strands of reinforcing steel hanging from it. Had they not broke out when they did it was very likely that the xenos would have brought the ceiling down on them and murdered them as they laid trapped in the rubble. This wave of pleasure halted as his mind instinctively moved onto the face of Astelan. He stopped himself in mid-thought and shoved it to the back of his mind ... he was not ready to confront that horror.

The orders had come down that he would be apart of a relief force sent to Sotha. He had made his way, per his orders, to the Thunderhawk and strapped himself in without saying a word. He looked around at his squad-mates with a sense of pride at seeing them. They were the handful that remained since the beginning of all this madness on, ironically, Sotha so many years ago. He knew their faces and knew of some of their deeds and wished, fervently, that he had grown closer to each of them -- but for so long the flames of war had not forged their brotherhood any closer. He could taste bitterness upon his tongue and pushed the feeling back with a quiet litany to the God-Emperor. He would not allow the same corruption that brought down Astelan to bring him down as well.

He lowered his head and closed his eyes as he solemly began to pray aloud, althouh not too long as to interrupt the conversations of his brothers or to displease his commanders,

'God-Emperor of Mankind, blessed saviour of humanity. We go now to do your bloody work upon yet another world, and this one all the more bitter to us for its loss. We ask you, as Astartes, as your gene-children, for your guidance and blessings in the missions to come. May our bolters be true, may our chainswords ever rend the enemy, may our might never yield.

May you walk with us in the dark places of the galaxy -- for we bring the burning righteousness of your light, of your wrath. For we are your mailed fist made manifest! We our your anger given form. Place your motlen fist of purgation upon own shoulders and may you guide us to more glorious battlefields for we walk in the shadow of a terrible galaxy who does not know your light or the supremecy of Mankind.

Ever guide us to burn the heretic, kill the mutant, and purge the unclean! May your light never go out and may mankind endure until the end of time and the sundering of flesh!


Unfinished Project King
7,409 Posts
Walking towards the bridge of The Heart, his feet felt as if they had been infused with lead. It was a difficult task that he was set upon and Raxan was unsure that he was ready to face it. Sotha, his beloved homeworld, had come into view and as he walked it was obvious that, despite an other tasks that they had been engaged in, each of the surviving marines of the Scythes now quietly made their way to the bridge. Trepidation, anger, and grief clearly etched on each face. It had been a long time since he had seen his home, but in the intervening time his childhood memories and his memories of his life with his chapter before the fall had all become tarnished, washed over in the blood of that dying world. Soured by the carnage that had been wrought upon it. Slowly, painstakingly, he made his way to the bridge. Hollow grief filling his heart and mind as he swam in images of the past, in memories of the fallen.

The quiet hiss of the door opening onto the bridge did little to tear him from his introspection, but he did scan the bridge looking for the form of Kain. It appeared that he had not yet arrived, so Raxan walked to a quiet corner, near the massive form of Solaki. At the time of his internment Raxan had not been keen on the youth being chosen. He was too young, too unexperienced. But many things had changed. The loss of one marine was desastrous to the chapter. Ways of old could not be followed if the Chapter was to survive and he was going to have to trust Lord Sotha to make the decisions that would be best. The sight of the massive dreadnought, the first time that Raxan had seen it since the boy was placed into it, was not one of joy that a relic of the chapter had been brought back to them by the youth's sacrifice. It brought too many memories to the surface. Heroes and friends that had fallen and again recollections of old pulled at him. It was as if his subconcious mind was doing everything it could too keep him from looking at the barren rock that lay ahead of them. Raxan forced himself to look, to confront the ghosts of the past, too feel the rage and fury and saddness that its lifeless surface evoked.

His ire deepened as he watched the battle that came into view as the battle barge entered orbit. Thieves, wretched pillagers, and vultures, their vessels now engaged in a firefight with what appeared to be a Rogue Trader's vessel. It was then that he remembered that Cleomenes was to meet them there. The entire purpose for returning home had been to rendezvous with their long gone brother. Raxan had fond memories of the man. Many times they had fought together in the Fourth. It would be good to have him home, another seasoned marine, another steady bolter. Another man who would remember and work to replace what they once had despite his long absence. But these thoughts were pushed to the side as his rage boiled over at the audacity of the heretics that now looted precious relics from the graves of his brethren. His left hand flexed, the crushing grip of his bionic arm causing the very metal it was made of to creak and strain. He watched as the vessels turned tail and ran in the face of The Heart, cowards to frightened to face the Astartes wrath, too eager to leave to care about their comrades left on the surface. Those left on the surface would taste retribution, Lord Sotha would make sure of it.

A presence to his left made Raxan look up and found, unsurprisingly that Brother-Sergeant Kain had joined him on the bridge. In the 15 years since Ferim, Raxan and Kain had become good friends, inseperable some said. His blood oath to the man aside, Raxan found that he quite liked the younger man. Though the promotion after the events of Ferim had caught him by surprise, Kain had grown into the position nicely. Assuming command of his squad with ease and confidence. He had a manner that inspired trust amongst those he lead. Stealing a glance at his friends face, Raxan found that Kain was even more unreadable than usual. The organic side of his face mimicing the metallic. Cold and emotionless despite the fact that Raxan knew Kain to being feeling much the same thing as he was.

"Brother Sergeant Kain," Lord Sotha's voice cut through the quiet like a thunderclap,"Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Razan, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki, will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes..... and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us." Sotha was calm on the surface, but Raxan could feel his ire. Felt it and shared it. He was unsurprised that he and Kain and the others had been chosen for this mission. A half a dozen times in the last 15 years Sotha had dedicated a scarce few marines to offship actions and it was always the same few. All of those times had been on recruiting missions, this time was to be different. This time they went to fight. It was as if Raxan's body flared to life at the prospect for it had been too long.

"Come old friend," He said to Kain," Let's see if you still remember how to fire a bolter?" he said with a smile. Despite his attempt at mirth his smile refused to touch is eyes, too clouded in sorrrow they were to feel the light of laughter.

"My skill with a bolter is undiminished brother," Kain said shooting a level look at Raxan with his human eye, "Though this time try and make sure I don't have to drag your unconcious form to the thunderhawk, you have put on weight since Sotha fell, it would be cumbersome." Raxan allowed a small chuckle to escape his lips. "That would be a problem in truth, we would need Raziel to guide you along to keep you from bumping into things. Your vision is not what it once was." Kain raised his hands in mock defeat, a small smile pulling his face into a rictus grin, as the two left the bridge and headed toward the launch bay.

The trek across the Heart to the Thunderhawk bay was made in relative silence, as lost in thoought as each of them were. As he stepped aboard the Thunderhawk, for the first time in over a decade fully outfitted for war, a sense of home came upon him. In these moments before battle, no matter how small and affair it may be, he felt as if things had not changed. That the memories of loss did not touch him here, his sense of purpose and belonging drowning out even the torrent of sorrow that seeing his home had brought upon him. He nodded to Solaki as the mighty dreadnought took his place on the lower deck of the chapters lone thunderhawk and made his way to the back of the craft, his seat next to Kain's as it had been for so many years. As he felt the engines rumble to life, the heavy vibrations of the deck and heard the peal of warning claxons in the deck beyond.

As the interior lights dimmed as the Thunderhawk left the battle barge, effortlessly gliding into space and down towards the lifeless planet. Raxan donned his helm, turning the world around him into a spectrum of black and red, his HUD feeding him information about the marines seated along side him. Raxan felt a fleeting moment of indignation as he gazed upon the three battle brothers that had tagged along on the ride despite not being given orders to do so. He understood that they wanted to set foot on their homeworld and wanted to teach the intruders a lesson, but to go against orders to do so? That was unacceptable. Should one of them fall, however unlikely, it would be a blow to the chapter that could have been avoided. They should not be here. Period. A look from Kain told him to leave it be, but Raxan could not, especially once young Hexor made such a show of himself. Feigning penance while simulataneously revelling in his excitement at being aboard the Thunderhawk.

"Damn straight you weren't assigned to this mission Hexor," Raxan said with a growl, "What makes you think that you can do whatever you want whenever you please? If I had my way you wouldn't set foot off the Thunderhawk."

Super Moderator
10,978 Posts

The sight had been one he would never forget. Sotha, his home and his past was gone. Zeiran had always been devoted to his duty, and his duty had required him to stay in orbit. But to stay in orbit would be to force him to endure the sight even more. He remembered in those minutes the early days he had spent there as an astartes aspirant. He remembered his time as a scout and the pride he had felt upon being initiated.

Behind those memories were vague recollections of his childhood. Hazy images of his parents' faces, his friends left behind and his old home.

He was only partially aware of his actions on board The Heart, though in truth he would no more have tried to stop himself even if it had occurred to him that he was violating an order. The master of the chapter was sending a group of astartes down to the planet and Zeiran would be damned if he did not go with them. He armoured himself and prepped his weapons without a second thought, he marched himself to the docking bay without remorse and he boarded the thunderhawk without a word. Clearly he was not alone in his mindset, as Brothers Izrael and Hexor had followed his way of thinking.

Then again, those two acting this way was not a surprise. In his entire relatively short career as an astartes however, Zeiran had not often seen fit to disobey orders. This would be a first for him and in light of the circumstances, he hoped the master would see it as a forgiveable sin.

Hexor foolishly made a spectacle of his disobedience, drawing the ire of Brother Raxan. Zeiran looked back at Raxan with an impassive stare but said nothing.

I wonder how you'd have reacted if you were ordered to stay behind...

After trying vainly to think of what had caused him to do this, he realized it didn't matter. He was here now, and Zeiran would do what he could to ensure the squad's success.

'It doesn't matter Brother.' Zeiran said to Raxan at last. 'Not now.'

148 Posts
Like many of his other Brothers Spurius had been called to the Bridge, for what reason? Most likely to go support the ship under heavy fire from pirates and looters who most likely had forces on the ground trying to rob the Chapters honoured dead and their beloved people of their once valued treasures. Just the thought of such a foul deed made Spurius' blood boil with anger, however he was quick to dismiss the emotion to keep himself calm and cool, he was in the presence of two of his former squad mates and survivors who looked now at their homeworld with eyes full of pain and sorrow. A feeling Spurius knew all too well when he looked down at his homeworld. He wasn't even a veteran Marine of 100 yet and yet many now looked at him as if he were a 300 year old veteran Marine who'd been in thousands of battles. The feeling didn't sit to well with him however, not after all he had seen and was forced to witness along with the death of his people and battle-brothers. Just the thought enough made his usual smile vanish and be replaced by a sober and neutral one.

Turning his head slightly he looked down the hall towards the bridge and gently made his way to join the others. Once inside he looked around and could see a number of familiar faces, many were considered hero's in the Chapter already for their past deeds. The thought of fighting alongside them brought his smile back to his face which was hidden by his helm. After looking at his battle-brothers he quickly and quietly listened to their Chapter master who gave them their orders, and sure enough it was as he guessed, but it was more of a surprise knowing one of their Honoured Veteran's was aboard the rouge trader ship being attacked. It only made him want to purge the pirates and looters more, but like before he dismissed his emotions of hate and anger for the battle ahead. So without a second thought or hesitation he made his way to the hanger where he boarded the Thunderhawk along with the others.

He kept his mouth shut as he watched the fight in progress. He had to admit even he himself felt a bit of unease towards the two coming aboard and joining them on their mission. "Hmm... Seems like we're going to have more trouble for us to deal with other than just the Pirates and Looters if we have them." Spurius mumbled softly, his voice muffled by his scared helm. He wished to sit closer to the thunderhawks ramp so he could be first out but knew that honour went to the hero's, whom Spurius had known closely as everyone should after how many missions the group had undergone together; However he thought it best to keep in the shadows of the thunderhawk this time to say his prayers and make his peace with his fallen brothers on their homeworld.

748 Posts
About to give a heated retort to Brother Raxan, Brother Zeiran's words stayed his tongue. He merely frowned behind his helm at Raxan silently and waited, somewhat impatiently, for the Thunderhawk to set down on the planet. Brother Hexor had never before, and would never, think about striking down another loyal Astartes, but Raxan was quickly getting on his last nerve.

1,338 Posts
Kain moved quickly towards the Bridge of the Heart of Sotha. He had been summoned by Lord Sotha along with several of the few Scythes that remained. Kain was one of the few marines that Lord Sotha allowed to travel off ship, though he hadn't seen combat in years he had travelled alongside the apothecary as they recruited new candidates to start the slow and painful process of rebuilding the chapter. One thought that plagued the mind of Kain was that even though they had recruits they had no chaplains to watch over them.

The fact that they had no chaplains weighed on Kain heavily. He wished for atonement, for the guidance of a chaplain. However there were none to be found to watch over him and his brothers. He entered the bridge, spotting his friend Raxan at one corner of the room, standing near to the huge dreadnought that Kain once called brother Solaki. It was Kain's fault that he was interred in dreadnought armour and not standing amongst his brothers still, and Kain knew it. He moved quickly, saluting the dreadnought before moving next to Raxan.

Kain clapped his friend on the shoulder who was watching the battle in orbit ensure, the cowards of pillagers who sought the chapters icons fleeing at the sight of the mighty battle barge. Kain looked sorrowfully on his homeworld, so many brothers had been lost there, too many. It was a ghost of a world now, one scarred by the tyranids that had almost destroyed the chapter. Kain turned as Lord Sotha's voice cut through his thoughts.

"Brother Sergeant Kain, Brother Apothecary Niko, and Battle Brothers Raxan, Vermaas, Raziel, and Spurius. You six, with the support of Solaki will deploy to the surface and retrieve Cleomenes...and of course, slaughter the unholy vermin that are attempting to pillage the grave of our home. Anything they have found belongs to us."

"As my Lord commands it." Kain replied simply, feeling his ire rise at the thought about stepping foot on his homeworld once more. He was desperate to see it, as would be every single marine left on the Heart of Sotha, and the chance to put the invaders and pillagers to bolt and blade was a comforting one that Kain looked forward to almost as much as he looked forward to stepping on Sotha once more.

He turned back to Raxan who spoke quickly. "Come old friend," He said to Kain," Let's see if you still remember how to fire a bolter?"

Kain flashed a smile at him before returning the jibe quickly, "My skill with a bolter is undiminished brother," Kain said shooting a level look at Raxan with his human eye, "Though this time try and make sure I don't have to drag your unconcious form to the thunderhawk, you have put on weight since Sotha fell, it would be cumbersome."

Raxan let out a chuckle at his words, Kain and Raxan growing into close friends after he had saved his life on Sotha and the events on Ferim. He was one of the few brothers that Kain could interact with nowadays. "That would be a problem in truth, we would need Raziel to guide you along to keep you from bumping into things. Your vision is not what it once was."

Kain held up his hands in mock defeat, though what Raxan said was true. The fight with the Hive Tyrant on Ferim had ruined his face, now metal plates covered his face, and he was forced to see out of a biotic eye, having lost that as well to the tyrant. Kain after 15 years still hadn't gotten used to seeing a shade of red with his eye, nor the metal plates that covered his face. The weirdest part were his metallic teeth, his tongue hitting the metal and he knew he would never get used to the feeling.

He clapped his brother on the shoulder as the two left the bridge, heading to the last Thunderhawk that would ferry them down to meet their brother Cleomenes and kill those trespassers on the surface. Whilst Kain had not met the man Cleomenes himself Raxan had, and Kain knew of Cleomenes reputation himself. It would be a good thing to get another brother back into the chapters fold.

Kain took his seat near the rear of the thunderhawk, Raxan sitting next to him like he always did. The rest of the group filed in and took their seats before he felt the engines roar into life and they were off, hurtling towards the planet below. Kain kept his helm off for the journey, though he would don it before they went into battle as his eyes sweeped the interior of the thunderhawk. These were all astartes that he had served with before, he knew all of them well. He nodded at Niko when their eyes made contact before his thoughts were interrupted.

He had taken note of the three marines who had not been assigned to the mission but had come aboard anyway, and one of them spoke up asking for orders. Before he could answer Raxan snarled his response, Kain feeling the annoyance that the others had done what they had wished instead of what their Lord commanded of them.

Kain rose from his grav throne, taking hold of a drop handle in front of him before he spoke. "Peace Raxan. I have no orders for you brother, our Lords instructions were clear. Bring our brother Cleomenes back to the Heart of Sotha and kill all of those who dare desecrate our homeworld. Whilst you three have not been assigned to the mission we will make use of you but know this. When we get back aboard the Heart you will personally tell our Lord why you decided to ignore his commands and join us, and you will beg for his forgiveness. I do not see how you can atone properly for what you have done until we have a Chaplain in our fold once more."

He turned to regard all of his brothers, "Brothers let us purge those that desecrate the world that was once our own. For the Fallen!"

950 Posts
Sotha, dead, lifeless. It wasn't the first, and it wouldn't be the last. Yet somehow the sight was a shock, almost a physical blow. Planets lived and planets died, the Imperium was responsible for it's fair share of destruction, entire worlds lived and died at the word of the Inquisition. Not a Chapter world, not this world. It had been taken. Cruelly perhaps, but it was neccessary.

I looked around at the Brothers with which I shared the Thunderhawk, the interior was suddenly bathed in red light, a red tinge covering every surface inside the ancient machine. They were all helmeted and in the dim light were only visible by the contrasting colours of their armour picking them out in the shadows. We were going back, I hadn't visited Sopha for over a century, and now never would again. And they dared to desecrate it's sacred ground.

I thought back to the events on the bridge. Lord Sotha had been brief, assigning the squad, and Brother Solaki to travel down to the planet and rendezvous with Cleomenes. The trespassers would simply be another obstacle, and unlikely to be a difficult one at that. The mewling, pathetic mortals would die quickly before the wrath of the Emperor's finest.

I was dragged away before I could sink further into my fury by Kain's speech. He reprimanded the three 'stowaways', before turning to his squad. "Brothers let us purge those that desecrate the world that was once our own. For the Fallen!"

"For the Fallen."

I chorused in agreement, but it was half-hearted, I'd not been present at the fall of Sotha, and I'd never meshed particularly well with my remaining Brothers, particularly Kain. He was too young, too inexperienced to be a Sergeant, though I had to admit he had proved a good leader thus far, even if he had yet to prove himself to me. To my pride.

description whore
2,864 Posts
He was embedded in the void his mind a blank husk devoid of compassion or emotion, logic and reason cast out to leave only the cloying darkness. A distant galaxy away he could feel the steady thump of his heart, the slightest hiss of exhalation, the tiniest star on the skyline of his mind. It was an open canvas, waiting to be filled.

He embraced the blackness, savoured the emptiness, the pure bliss of his calm, held onto it, clung to it, like a drowning man to the driftwood tossing in the surf. He felt his fingers slipping, his grip loosening as his muscles burned...

A thought tore like a shooting star across the blackness, a streak mass of fiery emotions, slashing across the blankness of his mind. Words written in blood, rewritten and rewritten, the primary essence of his ethos, the unfulfilled oath of moment he had sworn. It tore bright ribbons of rage across his vision and he forced the thought away, fists clenching as he strained. Like a supernova it exploded, hatred and anger mingling with the deepest depths of self loathing and his hands reached up, nails scraping at the walls, anguish twisting his noble handsome features.

The flare died, even as he regained control, yet another star was born upon the horizon, a dead husk of pain and regret of desire and duty. The oath he had sworn that was destined to go unfulfilled to haunt him til the day he was bested and broken, the agony that only death could end. It throbbed at him, even as sweat rolled down his furrowed brow, gradually painstakingly, the rivets smoothed, his hands dropped to his sides though the marks remained, a mass of small grooves, a testament to his anguish.

He has not left the room in two weeks, had handed his application for suspension from duties to a sergeant, whether he had delivered it, or it had ever been granted he did not know. He had locked himself in the room, a serf givem a key with instructions to leave food and not disturb him. Perhaps some had knocked, brothers concerned for his physical welfare, he did not remember.... it was unimportant.

His mental welfare was, the treachery of Astelan, a deep chasm in his heart. Such a horrific stain upon the chapter, a veteran no less, a trusted advisor of the Lord himself, twisted by the evil whims of foul Gods. It was a revelation, every single brother suddenly under question, though it had been dealt with in house, Mortifactors knew of their shame, of the canker that had bit at their chapter.

Who knew how deep the rot had set, were others twisted, other veterans so caught up in the chapters fall they would turn to anything. So many questions, Astelan, such a dear friend of Lord Sotha himself, what did that say of Sotha? The chapter as a whole was falling, no chaplains to hold ritual in the morning, brothers made sergeants or given patchwork armour before their time, by necessity not right. His own ascension had been called into question by many, the words reckless and wild bandied by the elders, elders that seemed immune to the failure of their chapter able to forget their own failures.

He could not forget, he could not forgive.

He did not understand how any could, nobody with honor could forgive such a loss, such a bitter defeat.

Someone was speaking, inside the room somebody was shouting his name, the emptiness slipping away as consciousness returned, his eyes snapping open to find a man standing before him, tremulously reaching out an arm for his shoulder.

He wanted to react, knock the arm aside yet the blow upon such fragile bones would ruin the limb, shatter the bones, and what use was a one arm serf. He controlled the action, arm flipping out to pinch the frail wrist between finger and thumb and the serf recoiled in terror, the movement snake like, barely visible to the naked eye.

"The reason for this disturbance had better be impossibly good, Calcus" muttered Izrael even as he slid to his feet, the serf's face breaking from pure terror into a small smile, a half bow twisting his wizened frame.

His breath was wheezing, his heart rate gradually slowing, even as he stuttered to speech. Izrael could understand the terror, a giant with a predilection for cruelty lashing out. He was not considered a kind master, in the days before Vilius's death he would have shattered the arm and snapped his neck into the bargain. He had mellowed slightly since the old mans death, begun to understand the importance of his role as the future, that service and duty was more honourable than death even if the agony was greater.

Nobody had noticed, he was still considered reckless and impetuous.

Speech had come to the old man.

"We are currently in orbit around Sotha my Lord, they are sending down a strike team to fetch Lord Cleomantes. I thought you would want to know."

Izrael felt his whole body stiffen, half way between standing and sitting he was paralysed, eyes wide he let out half words, gently he clasped the serfs shoulder, before sweeping from the room.

"Fetch another serf to help me into my armour Calcus"

"but my Lord, Lord Sotha said only...."

"My armour Calcus, my orders come from Brother Alark Krin"

The serf hesitated yet finally hurried from the room.

In three strides Izrael had reached his armour, reaching out to run his finger across a dishevelled piece of paper, stained by blood and various form of ichor, the words still burned bright, constantly restored after years of fighting, unfufilled the oath he had worn upon his armor the day Sotha died.

His voice broke as he whispered to the empty room

"Perhaps today... perhaps"

He was sitting next to the giant brother Hexor tucked in a cornor of the thunderhawk, his eyes fixed upon the wall opposite, fingers tracing the frayed parchment upon his shoulder.

A recently promoted sergeant the mangled Kain, staring round, even as his tongue traced along the unfamiliar ridges of sparkling teeth. They said the hive tyrant of Ferim had given him a beating and hence he was promoted to sergeant. An odd reward yet one that ,in general, seemed well received

Another recently raised sat near him, silent and solemn, Nilo bore the white of the apothecarion, the chapters respect seeming universal for the sage. He knew him as well as any, there batch the same, but he felt no comradery for him. They said he had cleft the traitor and twain and that had to be respected.

Others he knew by reputation if not by name sat in the thunderhawk by right as ,according to Calcus, part of Sotha's chosen squad. Raxan, Kain's attack dog, a battered veteran who had apparently had an unfortunate run in with a carnifex and Vermaas a fervent individual who even as they began their descent hissed hushed prayers to the god emperor.

Helms on he could not see their faces but he felt the weight of judgement in their eyes, disobedience, typical impetuous youth to ignore his Lords wishes. Fuck them all, he had a reason to be their as much as any of them, better than most, and he would have fought the hive tyrant and the traitor alone with his bare hands to get a chance to return. He sat silent, listening to the hum of the engine, ignoring the burning judgement pressing upon his shoulders.

Indeed it seemed to become too much for brother Hexor, the giant marine, easing his discomfort by speaking to the sergeant, searching for validation and Izrael was surprised to find him turning to him, praising his sword work and asking for a spar. A single eyebrow raised beneath his helm yet he held his peace, eyes flitting over the tremendous size and great blade resting against his leg with a practiced and arrogant air. Strength was obviously Hexor's forte but he would take mobility over power, the great blade designed to hack and slash at a multitude of horded enemies, not to combat a single more agile warrior. That being said it depended how strong Hexor truly was, an interesting fight no doubt.

He was interrupted by the terse snarl of Raxan

"Damn straight you weren't assigned to this mission Hexor," the grizzled marine grunted eyes taking in all three of them

"What makes you think that you can do whatever you want whenever you please? If I had my way you wouldn't set foot off the Thunderhawk."

The words bit at Izrael and he give a little snort of derision yet it was drowned by the quiet resigned words of another Brother that had stolen aboard the thunderhawk

'It doesn't matter Brother.'

He paused and Izrael opened his mouth to snap

'Not now.'

The sergeant spoke up next and Izrael felt his skin crawl, so fawning, a desperate attempt to ingratiate himself whilst remaining in control. They would be punished whether the sergeant ordered it or not, Izrael would not beg, he hadn't begged when chaplains punished him, he wouldn't beg for trying to fufill his oath whether Sotha liked it or not.

Hexor seemed to rise next to him, stiffening at the elders words yet he bit his tongue, Izrael by contrast could not keep his temper quiet, the biting tone and judging eyes getting the better of him, none of them thought of the privilege they had to be on this mission, to be the ones to get to walk the world once more

"Forgive Brother Raxan, Hexor, he must be a little cranky after his..." he let the words dwindle with sardonic bile


He bored into brother Raxan's visor a little growl coming as he turned to Kain

"You can leash your pet poodle Brother Sergeant" he let the word linger, the silence tinged with skepticism

"Kain, I am sure each of us has thought of the consequences both to our lord and to our honor of stealing aboard this thunderhawk. Yet have you thought about the privilege you are being offered to be here?"

"Almost every brother on that barge has sowed the earth of sotha with their blood, has watched their brethren die to defend it, had to flee it with only their shame and nightmares. What makes you so special as to deserve to walk it again?"

He snarled meeting the brother sergeants gaze, his face beneath his helm contorted with purest venom

"Save your judgement for your own soul, I will tell you now I would walk this ramp again without hesitation and I will tell my Lord of my deed and accept my penance without your hollow words."

His fingers still carressed the parchment with bitter hatred

"Any penance would be worth the price"

1,338 Posts
Kain only spoke out of neccesity, he could not afford for whatever brothers that joined him on the surface below to be divided by arguments and insults. He was about to take his seat once more when the insolent and fiery youth Izrael spoke up. He turned to Raxan first, insulting him before moving onto Kain, speaking as if he knew what he was on about. He was a young cur, nothing more.

Kain moved from where he was until he was right in front of Izrael before he spoke, fire and anger in his voice. "I know what a privilege it is to step upon the homeworld Izrael. I am aware that every single brother left in the chapter has a right to step upon the surface of our world once more. In fact I can think of over a dozen marines that deserve to step on our homeworld more than me, and even more who deserve the honor than you."

Kain paused, Izrael needed to be tempered, but that was not his place. Lord Sotha would do it until they had a chaplain to once again look after their spirits.
He moved in close so only he and Izrael could hear what he had said.

"I lost more brothers on Sotha than you did young one, friends who I had fought with for decades I watched die in front of me, fighting the horde. Maybe I was raised to sergeant ahead of my time, just as you have obviously been raised to a full battle brother before yours. Even the few chaplains we had at the Giants Coffin could barely keep you in line. If one of them had lived and we did not have need for more marines do you truly think you would have been raised?"

He moved away and raised his voice so the whole squad could hear him once more, the anger in his voice gone now. Perhaps he should not have said what he did to Izrael, the youth would never learn without the proper tutelage.

"I do not know why Lord Sotha has honoured me so, but I know one thing. He is our LORD our master. He chooses the best course for the future of the chapter and we obey. My words are not hollow brother, if anything it is you who speaks the hollow words. Proper penance cannot be observed till we have a chaplain once again in our mist, one that is sorely needed, if you think otherwise then you are a fool."

Kain turned to regard the rest of the squad. "This matter is closed now brothers, I will not have anymore words on the matter that is an order. Anyone who disobeys so will face me in the sparring cages once we return to the heart."

He moved to the front of the thunderhawk before turning back, "Brother Izrael, if you wish you can try and leash brother Raxan in the sparring cages on the Heart. Though I would wager that if anything you would leave the cage in defeat."

2,996 Posts
‘We will arrive in the vicinity of Sotha within,’ The navigator; a crooked, treble-eyed witch, purred nonchalantly, addressing no-one in particular. ‘An hour and fifteen minutes.’

‘Thank you, Scamander,’ Tybarr Nymeros, God-King of the Sorrowsong, said with a polite smile. His facial muscles were not articulated to smiling, making the gesture seem completely inhuman, when coupled with Tybarr’s extraordinary beauty; almost effeminate, with sharp-cutting cheekbones and long, silver-white hair. ‘Keep me informed.’

Scamander bowed deeply; the thread-of-gold hem of his deep, abyssal hood touching the marbled floor, and hobbled off, leaning reliantly on a knobbed staff.

The bridge of the Sorrowsong was a cavernous expanse, the ceiling lost in an artificial cloud-layer; the walls sheer and cliff-like, draped in banners and portraits. To the fore of the chamber; four immense shutters were sealed, protecting the command staff from the predations of the warp. Holographic displays flickered here and there, colouring the crew in reds, greens, blues and yellows.

‘I am..’ A voice said, a deep, thunderous grumble. ‘Apprehensive.’

Tybarr wheeled, sipping on a bulb of glittering liquid that hissed and spat when it met his lips, scouring the flesh. ‘Cleomenes, Polemarch of the Scythes of the Emperor, is anxious? Emperor Help Us.’

The Space Marine sniggered, idly caressing the faceplate of his cross-crested helm affectionately; like a mother would her child, running fingers over every familiar contour. His empurpled lips were pursed contemplatively; his vision directed floor-wards.

In every aspect, Cleomenes was formed as flawlessly as a god. From his long, forked beard to his scintillating, passionate eyes; he was remarkably handsome. His beauty had not diminished with age - But rather, it was said - Emboldened. His hair was twisted into a pair of wild ram-horns at the temples, pinioned in place by slivers of amethyst.

Even without his armour, Cleomenes was massive. When he wore the powered plate, he was even larger - A colossus of myth, his chest glittering with a pair of hateful lions, his shoulders draped in a silken cloak. No-one on the bridge, not even the gene-bred servitors, came close to matching his stature. He was a God-amongst-men, a statue given life.

‘The hour goes slow,’ Tybarr said, sipping from a crystalline bulb. ‘Do tell a tale, Cleo, or I may die of boredom,’ He grinned, lips peeling back effortlessly. ‘And that would be a most unfortunate event. I do like life.’

Cleomenes gave a shallow nod, and began with a recitation of the Illiminar; the ancestral birth-poem of the Scythes of the Emperor - Voice deepening and heightening, twirling his hands theatrically, - All for effect. A warrior-king foremost, Cleomenes harboured a particular soft-spot for acting. And he did it without effort, drawing Tybarr into the ancient tale.

When he was done, Tybarr tilted his head and let out a sigh. ‘Is that all?’

Cleomenes shrugged apologetically, a half-smile contorting his face. ‘It is. We Scythes are not ones to sit around and write,’ The post-human let out a bestial snort, like a warhorse awaiting the crush of combat. ‘I am not a Ultramarine, old friend.’

Next, a superb narration of The Life and Death of Ephialtes arose on the bridge, silencing all save for the gentle click-clacking of consoles and brain-dead Servitors. By this time, both Cleomenes and Tybarr were severely intoxicated - Their gums scoured with highly efficient alcohol, their teeth pink beneath their lips.

The deck of the Sorrowsong was trembling, as preparations aboard the gargantuan vessel were initiated to exit the Warp. Cleomenes did not pay this heed, memorized paragraphs rolling off of his tongue effortlessly; flowing out over the bridge-crew, like some impious prayer.

The Sorrowsong and her attendant fleet were spat from the Warp with a kaleidoscope of colour; space rippling and tearing, each of the momentous vessels framed against silver-white and oily-black.

One huge gauntlet clenched Tybarr’s shoulder, applying enough pressure to comfort; though, with a tense of the internal false-muscles, Cleomenes could snap the rogue trader’s bone with ease. From the wry smile on Tybarr’s face, he was well aware of that fact..

Protective shutters towards the fore of the bridge ground upwards, the light of Sotha’s distant sun flooding onto the bridge. Cleomenes had stopped his tale, fingering the leopard-hide hilt of his Chainsword, staring onwards into the flare of the sun. The window tinted, turning the fluorescent glow to a faded mustard.

Something was wrong. The navigation officers were double-checking their coordinates, slim fingers dancing across consoles, data streaming before their eyes.

Sotha was a mud-coloured rock, gone were the greens, blues and whites that had once inhabited the surface.

‘Recheck coordinates.’ Cleomenes commanded, his voice a crash of syllables. ‘Scan for communications, vessels, my Chapter. Show me something, anything.’

‘Sire,’ Scamander hobbled near, leaning heavily on his staff. ‘I have rerun the coordinates a multitude of times. This world,’ He indicated the planet with a dismissive sweep of his hand. ‘Is Sotha.’

‘It cannot be,’ Cleomenes growled, gripping a handrail. It squealed beneath his gauntlet, distorting under the pressure. ‘Where are my brothers?’

‘It is apparent that something most,’ The navigator licked his scabbed lips, teeth-like-splinters showing beneath. ‘Regretful, has occurred.’

‘This is not Sotha.’

‘Cleo..’ Tybarr said, his voice heavy with pity. ‘The coordinates are correct. Scamander is right. Something has happened. I am sorry.’

‘Vessel signatures in orbit of the planetoid,’ One of the crewmen called. Cleomenes eyes glittered for a moment, hoping for something. For anything. ‘None are registered in the memory banks, lord.’

Tybarr straightened, sobriety returning. ‘Vox-link, mister Saar.’

The communications chief bade his master a nod, indicating it had been achieved.

‘Unidentified ships - I, Tybarr Nymeros of House Nymeros, - Demand an immediate cessation of all activities in orbit of Sotha. This planet is now under my jurisdiction, until further investigation on the whereabouts of the Scythes of the Emperor can be conducted.’

When no response came, Tybarr glanced towards his Space Marine lifeguard.

‘Show. Me.’ He grunted, every breath coming out in ragged gasps.

Cameras towards the prow of the Sorrowsong swiveled, bringing the fleet into view. Each of the ships were tiny at this distance; slithers of glittering metal. Evidently, they were not of Imperial origins. And this only served to invigorate Cleomenes.

‘Magnify.’ The command was simple. The Polemarch wanted a closer view at these strangers. ‘I will not ask again.’

‘Impossible. They are out of range.’ Tybarr said morosely, locking eyes with the Astartes. ‘I am sorry, Cleomenes. I was not expecting this.’

‘And I was?’ Cleomenes said, striking the nearest wall with a sonorous clang. ‘I will be on the embarkation deck. When we are in range, I want to see what happened for myself.


Two hours passed. Two hours of bewilderment, blistering rage and sadness.

Cleomenes prowled back and forth, twirling his Chainsword angrily. It was exquisitely weighted, perfect in his grip, crafted for the hand of Othello millennia before.

Cleomenes poured a libation of hippocras and goat's blood over his armour and weapons, speaking a hushed prayer to the God-Emperor; seeking his answers. 'Bless me,' He grunted. 'And I will be your instrument.'

Tybarr appeared on the deck, wearing a bejeweled void-suit; a crowned helm held in the curve of his left arm, his right hand clenched on the hilt of a gilded power-sword.

Behind him marched his three satraps; each men of importance, appareled magnificently and armed with beautiful falcata and compressed bolt-guns. Foremost was Artaphernes, his beard dyed purple. Next came Mardonius, a relative youth amongst the three, tallest and handsomest. Finally was Ctesias, dark and brooding, huffing and puffing with each step.

‘What are you doing?’ Cleomenes said, with narrowed eyes.

‘I am coming with you. You’ll not be stopping me, Cleo. I owe you this.’ Tybarr shot back. He was not going to back down.

‘Hm,’ Cleomenes said, nodding his leonine head. ‘Very well.’

Behind them, an archaic vessel; long, sleek and turreted, was powering up.

Cleomenes lowered his cross-crested helm over his head, bathing his vision in darkness for an instant. He locked his Chainsword to his back, hilt poking over his left pauldron for an easy draw. His Boltpistol clanged to his thigh, and he was in the hold of the ship, the quartet of men following closely behind him.

‘Get in my way,’ Cleomenes said, his tone severe. ‘And I will not be held responsible.’

‘Aren’t we all entitled to glory, Space Marine?’ Mardonius chirped, eyes flashing mischievously.

‘Glory is earned,’ Cleomenes said, turning his helm towards the gregarious youth. ‘Death is given.’

‘Death is so.. Mundane, though.’

The Space Marine snorted.

‘It matters not. Every life is different,’ His finger hovered over the trigger of his mag-locked sidearm. ‘Mortals all die the same; pitifully, messily, screaming for their matrons. Do not debate with me, boy. This is my world. This is my vengeance. Your boldness will only earn you an early death. Stay behind me, and you shall see the next dawn.’

Mardonius slumped. Tybarr chuckled wetly.

This would be a long day.

148 Posts
Spurius just sat in his place within the thunder hawk as his brothers continued to argue and bicker over the three fools. Spurius smirked and shook his head gently as he gently folded his hands together. He had already said his words about the three he did not have to say anymore, nor did he need to join his brothers in the argument that continued. To much pride was a curse, and the death of their homeworld was proof of that. He knew it all to well, more so as the faces of his fallen brothers still haunted his memories and dreams. Spurius slowly sat up and looked once more towards his arguing brothers before tracing his right hand to his blade that remained at his side. He gripped the hilt of the blade, and smiled gently. "Hmm... its going to feel good slaying the xeno's and pirates that plague my home." Spurius mumbled softly as he returned his hand once again to his his other. Shortly after he heard Kain bark the orders to drop the argument. Spurius looked at him for a moment his smile still across his face which was hidden by his black helm. "I agree.. Right now we should be focusing our rage and hate towards those who plague our world rather than upon each other. No?" Spurius said aloud as he relaxed some in his place.

He was not sure how his brother's would reply to his words, but at the same time he did not care, he was more focused on slaying pirates and Xeno's rather than bickering with his Battle-Brothers.

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Niko, Kain, Spurius, Vermaas, Raxan, Raziel, Zeiran, Hexor, Izrael, Solaki:

Any further comments wished to be made are interrupted or cut off by the numbing rumble of the thunderhawk's assault canons bursting to life outside the hull. Techmarine Laikus's handiwork surely doing well in clearing a landing zone.

All of you instinctively make sure your suits of power armor are fully sealed, due to the fact the planet no longer has an atmosphere. You all feel the Thunderhawk leveling itself, floating just above the ground preparing to drop off its lethal cargo. The ramp bursts to life, a bright slit letting the light shine through the interior, kindly reflecting off your brothers' eye lenses as everyone stares out eager to see their homeworld... and exactly what kind of thieves now crawl upon it.

The edge of the ramp touches down, releasing a meager cloud of dirt from the ground. Sergeant Kain rises from the back to exit first, the cold stone mountain that is Brother Raxan falling in beside him. The eager Spurius sitting at the fore exits next, Raziel beside him; the insignia of the Deathwatch upon his shoulder pauldron catching the sunlight and gleaming in a dull, somber manner.

The rest of you follow suit, Izrael and Hexor being the final two to exit. Despite no atmosphere, your power armor's boots keep you stable upon the ground. You can all walk as normal, not having to think twice about it.

You feel a thunderous vibration in your feet as Solaki is dropped off next.

You all stare into a wasteland, the broken walls of the Fortress Monastery rising high, but no longer proud, only a short distance away. To no one's surprise, the Tyranids hadn't been too interested in the rock and metal bones of the structure. You seem to be on the old landing fields, where the scavengers' half-full cargo ships still sit in waiting. Metal crates and barrels litter the area, along with all sorts of machinery. Tracks, equipment and lines of cables trail all the way back to the broken sections and main entrance of the fortress monastery revealing the scavengers have likely been here working on this for quite some time.

Several of the metal containers lay open, many of which reveal large shells you are familiar enough with to recognize as various bolter rounds right away. Most likely, this means the scavengers have located the Monastery's underground armory. What may infuriate you even more, is spotting several pieces from sacred relics and pieces of chapter history still intact enough for the scavengers to sell.

Bodies...float in front of you, all in dull white space suits with small red and yellow markings on the chest and shoulders. On the next landing platform over, the elegantly armored form of a warrior bearing the colors of your chapter fights alongside four smaller allies. Flashes of weapon fire blink in and out, but no sound can be heard through the voided air.

Vermaas reaches out with a free hand, his black gauntlet gripping onto the ruffled suit of the closest corpse and pulling it near, Zeiran seeing this does the same. Space helms are ripped away and reveal one to be a tau, and the other a human. Rifles float near them, las-guns, auto-guns, pulse rifles and pule carbines. Rogue humans and tau working together as grave robbers...disgusting.

All of you almost flinch, snapping your heads ahead of you as a huge beam of light flashes over your heads and crashes into a group of the enemy firing at Cleomenes' squad behind their machinery. You see a cloudy mist dance upon your armor covering it in a wet, speckled film....las-cannon coolant.

Whether Solaki's shot was intentional or not, it seems to have made a solid hit and catches the eyes of Cleomenes' and his group.

You make haste to join Cleomenes, fighting fierce in his beautiful suit of ambassador styled power armor. When you join him, you join him in slaying these tau and human pirates. Mainly they will be firing from cover. There are many of them but they are poorly trained and using the weapons described above which dont work so well at breaking Astartes power-armor. Kill them from range, or close the gap, break their cover and slay them hand to hand, your choice. You may each kill about a dozen thieves, but it doesn't have to be that many. What will make them a bit more difficult than normal is that they will be using the lack of gravity to their advantage (leaping bounds instead of running, and jumping high) not too mention you all might be a little rusty... All of these things apply to you as well Solaki. Overall though, these are easy targets and I dont really expect anyone to get hurt too badly, yet. I will let you know if I want you to change something, of course.

You do not all have to talk to Cleomenes, but which of you do? It is up to you and it is up to you what you say to him. Do you describe what has happened for him or decide it should wait for when you return to the battle barge? Remember which of you I said have met him before and which of you have not.


Read the update for everyone else. Then, describe things from your point of view. You will of course have started killing these fools before your fellow Scythes arrive, so explain this and how your comrades fight alongside you. You will see a great blast of energy kill a group of the Scavengers firing from cover. You will look to the next landing pad over and see a Thunderhawk among the pirate cargo ships, a versatile-looking group of nine Scythes of the Emperor marines moving in to join you, and a dreadnought walker towering behind them. When they get to you, do you talk first, or do they? Which do you recognize? This of course will be affected by who posts when.

And with this update, you all have another two weeks to get your posts in.

703 Posts
The thundering of the Thunderhawk's autocannons stirred Vermaas from his silent prayers as he knew that war was coming yet again, like a decree from the God-Emperor himself there was yet another chance to wash the doubt and impurity from the minds of him and his brothers. Only the cruelty of battle and cleanliness of combat could achieve these things, he knew them to be absolutely true. He scanned his eyes across the interior of the bird of war and took in the sight of his brothers once again. His chest stirred with pride again for he knew he stood in the company of purity, of Astartes with certain purpose. Some of them were loose cannons of sorts but considering his chapter's harsh past if all they maintained was a few loose cannons after Astelan's treason than they'd be fine.

Vermaas began to run through a series of checks and double-checks on a number of systems in his armor, though his seals were of the most constant concern. If they were not properly maintained then the moment he was exposed to the void of Sotha he would perish. He went ahead and checked his armor oxygen recycle units, his power-pack on his back's status, and the power armor's other vital systems. All of them checked in the green and he was pleased. The Thunderhawk set down with little in the way of turmoil and even as the hissing sounds of exposure to void came rushing in, Vermaas tightened his grip on his bolter. A flashback of claws and needle-filled mouths the screaming of a thousand thousand filthy xeno as they craved for his flesh came rushing back into his mind. His mind's eye replayed the scenario a dozen time over in his mind as the drop-ships ramp lowered to the ground and Sergeant Kain began to exit.

He wasn't the second one out, nor the last one, in fact he was right after Brother Raziel. As he filed out behind his brother his eyes flickered over the Deathwatch pauldron which he wore and a tight smile formed across his face. Raziel had obviously seen things far worse than that of the vile Tyranid -- he took confort in that knowledge that he had yet to see every dreadful terror the galaxy could manifest. His power-assisted boots struck the ground of his homeworld yet again the first time in so many, many moons. Last time though it was not this barren nor this unkind. His eyes scanned across the fate of Sotha and if he could feel sorrow he was sure he would feel it now. In the distance he saw the iron-skeleton of the former Chapter Monastery looming oh so much like a tombstone just waiting for the final words of his chapter's fate to be scribbed across there -- to stand as testament of the failure of the Emperor's chosen and the cruelty of the galaxy until the end of all things.

He cleared his mind of such nonsense as soon as he realised how deeply he was considering them. He repated the Catchism of the Xeno to himself over and over to calm himself and focus his mind. There were far more pressing concerns than the fate of his chapter at the moment nor was it his place to contemplate the fate of anything -- his was to serve and serve he would. He barley registered the fighting in the distance as he saw the floating forms in crude white atmospheric gear floating in front of him. Their red and yellow insignia was unknown to him and his curiosity was qued by it. He reached out a massive gaunlet and grabbed the first body pulling it closer to him, he mag-locked his bolter for a moment before using his free hand to rip off the helm.

He recoiled in disgust and pushed the floating corpse away ... its green skin and utterly alien features were disgusting beyond mention. The words rolled off his tongue over the squad vox, the hatred dripping from every sylable,

'Xenos ...'

His eyes flickered over to Brother Zeiran who appears to have pulled the helm off another corpse to find that it is human. The revolusion in his stomach grows all the more as he realizes it is a human. Brother Vermaa's eyes trail over for a moment as he realizes to his embarassment that there is a large number of equipment and supplies scattered about the area and he realizes the majority of it was taken from the underground armory. Before his rage can kick in he sees a number of banners laying inside of stasis containers -- banners of glory and achievements long since put to rest in the chapters halls and vaults of relics. These humans were helping the Tau xenos steal relics from what amounted as their greatest champions. His eyes flickered over to the human corpse Brother Zeiran had grabbed and his rage turned to fury.

'We stand between them an annihilation!,' he growled, not realizing he was speaking over the vox, 'This is their appreciation for our sacrifices? To plunder the depths of what amounts as our tomb? With the help of the wretched Tau no less? Emperor-damn these heretics!'

He next words are caught off as everything goes bright for a second his helm's auto-darkening reflect sparring him from the vast majority of the light. Las-cannon coolant plays across his armor like the mist of an incoming rain-storm but it does nothing to quench the fire burning within his breast. As the rest of the squad moves towards Cleomenes he falls in behind them his mind racing with what to do about this injustice. The Scythes move with all due haste as the battle ahead only grows in intensity. As he approaches the fire-fight is rage overtakes him.

'Brothers, this cannot stand,' he says over the vox coldly, 'Kill the alien! Burn the unclean!'

With that, as soon as the squads reaches Cleomenes he doesn't even speak to the warrior in ambassador-styled armor -- he charges directly towards the enemy clearing the distance between he and they relatively quickly. Las-bolts peppered his armor but they are as useless as primitive slug-throwers while pulse carbines occasionally wash across his pauldrons or breastplate scratching the paint. Some of the xenos begin to move back -- like the Tau he thought as his implanted psycho-indoctrination training told him that they perferred ranged combat. Their human cohorts were not necessarily as driven to fall back so much as reel in terror.

He was upon them in a moment. His chainsword swinging out in a vicious ark killing two thieves in less then a second. He reached out with his gauntlet to grab the next one only watch as he jumped backwards using Soth'a lack of gravity to make his retreat all the easier. A pulse-round splashed across his left pauldron before he could react, following by what amounted to a volley from a handful of thieves in front of him. He stumbled back for just a moment.

He regained his composure and rapidly pulled out his bolt pistol, 'Your petty heretical arcane-techno will not save your xeno-tainted souls mortals.' He snapped off two rounds completely shredding the thief to his left with the pulse rifle, he dashed forward using his gene-forged speed to again close the distance with the foes in front of him. One of them died instantly to decapitation while the other managed to get a single shot off, it had little effect, before he too died from a vicious slash across his chest. The other foes scrammbled away, although one was unfortunately slow then the others. It attempted to jump away before Vermaas reached out like a lightening bolt and grabbed it by the neck.

He was no expert on the Tau phycial condition by any stretch of the imagination -- but he had sure held more than his fair share of mortal necks in his life and he knew without a doubt that his armored finger wrapped around the neck of one of these filthy abominations. His sense picked up that he had no since been joined by his brothers whom were killing and rending in the Emperor's name. His attention though, in the maelstrom of combat was fixated upon the xeno whom he held absolutely despite its attempts to get away. The xeno tried to raise its pulse rifle only for Vermaas' chainsword to knock it from is hands.

'Haven't your cousins done enough?' he roared, though he knew the xeno could not hear him. His mind raced between cruelty and efficient killing -- he could crack the tinest hole in the xeno's visor and allow the void to slowly strangle him as was befitting of his kind. The thoughts waged a small war in his mind before he finger tightened and the xenos spine turned to splinters. He tossed the alien away and did not watch as it floated with the rest of its dead.

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With the argument thankfully quelled for the time being, Zeiran reached up to ensure all of the seals on his armour were secure. The roar of the guns rocking the vessel had seen that all of them made ready to fight, and even now they were preparing to leave the thunderhawk and face whatever awaited them.

Zeiran exited alongside the others without a word, not wishing to provoke further tension so soon after he had essentially told Raxan to shut up. He kept alert and within easy visual range as the group of astartes fanned out. The lack of atmosphere and disrupted magnetic fields of the dead world made for an eerily silent landscape before them. A rumble in the ground told Zeiran that the dreadnought Solaki was dropped off nearby.

He followed the others as they turned to where the empty husk of the Fortress Monastery still stood. If he were to judge, they were on the old landing field, and the vessels being utilized by the scavengers they had come to eliminate were still visible a short distance ahead. Several corpses floated by in the depreciated gravity of the dead planet and Vermaas reached out to ensnare one in his gauntleted fist. The suit was alien in design and as his brother removed the helmet of the suit, its wearer was revealed to be one of the alien tau.

'Xenos...' Vermaas spat.

Zeiran likewise pulled one of these corpses closer to himself and removed its helmet as well. To his shock however, this suit was not worn by tau, it was worn by a human...

'We stand between them an annihilation!' Vermaas snarled at the sight. 'This is their appreciation for our sacrifices? To plunder the depths of what amounts as our tomb? With the help of the wretched Tau no less? Emperor-damn these heretics!'

'I could not agree more.' Zeiran replied, throwing the corpse to the ground where the exposed head impacted heavily before the atmospheric pressure within the suit gave out and the head exploded soundlessly. Stepping through the spreading puddle of gore and bone fragments, Zeiran followed a sudden flash of light to where their objective could now be seen.

The squad fell into formation and began to advance. Cleomenes was pinned down by a group of the foe, tau and traitor human alike seeking to plunder what was in essence the relics of a chapter on the edge of death.

Zeiran was rarely given to bouts of pure anger, but what he felt now was something he could describe no other way. It washed any regret he may have had clear from his mind. No longer did he care for his supposed disobedience, all that mattered now was the elimination of these wretches and their cursed xenos employers. They fired upon Cleomenes and the newly arrived astartes from cover, their puny weapons doing little to seriously threaten the Scythes and their allies. Throughout it all there was no sound, the lack of atmosphere making everything silent but for the cries of his Battle Brothers over the vox.

Despite his anger, he was not compelled to join them in their roars of hate. Instead he simply positioned himself shortly before where Cleomenes stood, where he could offer slightly more protection to the ambassador if need be. From here he stood resolute and opened fire on the enemy without remorse or reserve. It mattered nothing to him that he fired upon humans, they had cast aside their duty to the Empeor and as such were no better than their new xenos enslavers. He picked them off one by one with precise fire as they emerged from cover to take their own shots.

Only after three successive shots had missed the same target did Zeiran's temper finally get the better of him. He clicked his bolter onto full auto and emptied the remainder of the clip into the ruined section of rockcrete the enemy was sheltered behind. When the dust from the barrage cleared only a bloody crater remained. Small arms fire pattered from his armour, leaving superficial scorch marks as he reloaded a fresh magazine and took aim again.

Only now did he feel it necessary to break his silence again.

'Disobedience is one thing, but I will not shame our fallen brothers further by my failure.'

2,071 Posts
The ground underneath Solaki shook as dropped from the thunderhawk. A small cloud of asteroid dust puffed up around his feet and hung there for a moment. For a moment nobody moved. Everybody was held in suspense, like the cloud around his feet. Solaki saw a ghostly after image, like a flash of light in his retina. The image of Sotha as it once had been was superimposed on the true image. The tattered spires that were once the fortress monastery still stood proud and noble as they had been. The ground was still covered with pavement and scattered patches of fauna. The atmosphere above was still a glistening oceanic blue. Everything was as it was, and in some forgotten recess of his mind, Solaki heard the wind blow and people laughing.

But no more. Now these filthy grave-robbers were defiling his home, or what had been his home. All around him lay containers. Some were open, some weren’t. Those that were made Solaki anger flare even brighter still. Bolter rounds from what remained of the underground armoury. The armoury he had defended what felt like eons ago. He had stalled the tyranids advance, and yet these heathen had defiled it. Their bodies floated in front of them and Vermaas and Zeiran grabbed them. They tore off the face plates, and a word rang through the vox. It was laced with venom. “Xenos” Solaki noticed it to. These humans were even more despicable. His anger had cooled and solidified into something more, but also less. These humans were unworthy of his hate and so could not keep it running as a molten river. Instead, he would annihilate them and would feel nothing for doing it. No release, no satisfaction. It would be simply an act and it would mean nothing at all.

Solaki’s internal targeting system showed something to him. There were mussel flares and laser pulses from the distance. Solaki zoomed in, and saw that it was Cleomenes and several humans under-fire from these disgusting xeno-human amalgamations. There was a squad moving up to flank the noble marine and his cohort. Solaki adjusted the aim of his weapon slightly. Then, an electrical impulse that originated Solaki’s brain, travelled down his spine, through the MIU and left the barrel of the lascannon bolted to his shoulder with the force of a thousand sons. The beam of high energy photons tore through empty space at the speed of light and crashed into the approaching squad. The twin lances speared two men, and vapourised another’s arm. The group saw the shot as their armour misted over with coolant vapour. Cleomenes noticed it too as Squad Kain moved to reach their brother.

As they moved, Solaki’s arm spat death at those who remained from his first volley. One evaporated from a direct hit from the lascannon. The second took three bolt rounds that formed a diagonal line from his hip to his shoulder. Six other bolts went wide, but Solaki’s aim was largely helped by the targeting system built into his new body. There was another squad moving towards them and had taken cover behind a fallen rockrete barrier. There were eight of them, and from the slight variations in height, he guessed three were xenos and the rest were humans, although he no longer counted them among the species he defended from the growing darkness. Solaki marched forward, every step sending a shudder through the earth. His lascannon tore a hole in the middle and sent hair-line fractures spiralling out from the hole. A thief stood up to take a shot, before noticing his impending doom. As he tried to duck back down to the relative safety of cover, storm bolter shells tore through his chest and sent bits of him flying into space and his squad-mates.

Solaki’s pace was slow and his arms unleashed salvos of death against his foes. Rockrete flew in large splinters from where bolts impacted against the barrier, and the lascannon bored great holes in it. At least once, the beam of burning energy had torn through a heretic, and Solaki suspected another was incapacitated. Occasionally the thieves would take pot-shot’s against him, but his thick adimantium hide shielded him from any harm. No weapons these bastards possessed could even dent his armour. Pulses and high calibre weaponry merely marred the paint-word of his body. Still Solaki grew closer and his foes would soon meet their end. Another stood up to take a shot. Solaki pondered as he blew him apart with another laser beam; what did he hope to accomplish? He must have seen his comrades die, and knew that there was no way his single shot could make a difference. What would possibly lead him to believe that his action could stall their impending doom? Perhaps it was simply the air of Sotha. Something infused within the planet itself that made those who fought on it prone to bouts of heroism, futile or otherwise. Perhaps, but this one’s sacrifice was not noble as his brother’s had been. His was for xenos lives and the twisted ideals of weak men, not for the good of the Imperium.

Finally, Solaki was upon them. He had lowered their number to five, and it was about to decrease further still. As he stepped over the barrier, his foot ground a tau warrior to dust underneath his weight. His fist swung out in a gangly motion, but with the force of a hammer-blow from the gods. It hit another warrior in the chest and tore him in half without even slowing. It continued until it met the rockrete barrier and shattered it into fist sized shards. Several flew toward a third warrior. He tried to jump away but two pierced his suit; one around his groin and the other in his lower left leg. The blood from the wounds was sucked out into space, and he started to suffocate. Solaki spared him the long agonising death by grabbing him out of the air and crushing him with a display of brute force. He then hurled the remains at the two remaining warriors to his right. The first jumped and missed the gory projectile, but the second one’s legs were caught by it as he jumped leading to him simply spiralling upwards with no real direction at all. The first only realised his mistake in jumping after he had done it; he was now in open space with nothing to push off from and an easy target for the metal behemoth in front of him. He stared into the black abyss of the lascannon barrels even as they powered up and, a fraction of a second later, disintegrated his flesh. The last still spiralling was killed with a curt bolt round.

All the while, Solaki felt nothing, just as he had expected. Their bodies being torn apart gave him no satisfaction; their silent screams were no longer music to him. These were weak foes, not worthy of him enjoying killing. After the fierce fighting on Ferim, where there had been so much blood and emotions mingling, this battle seemed hollow, empty. Just like the remnants of the world it was being fought on. Solaki realised he hoped this was over quickly. He didn’t like shedding yet more blood on Sotha. She had already seen too much and the pathetic worms were not worth tarnishing his lasting memory of the beautiful Sotha he had known. So Solaki stepped back over the crumpled barrier and turned his attention back to the remaining maggots his brothers were dealing swift vengeance to. If they hadn’t already…

2,996 Posts
The stealth-ship was silent. Cleomenes stood, impassively, at one of the few viewports - Staring out into the silky void; empurpled lips pulled back into a contemplative grimace. Beneath his helm, he was an automaton; lifeless and unmoving, towering over his four companions, who stroked trinkets, lubricated breaches and swirled blades. Tybarr sat with his eyes sealed, breathing heavily, mouth opening and closing in a wordless prayer.

Two of the rogue trader’s cruisers, the Sword Dance and Iron Duchess, were angling towards the distant fleet, engines flaring wildly - Their crews sent into maddening, depraved blood-lust on the prospect of combat - Massive, city-smashing turrets turning towards the orbiting vessels.

The brown-grey curve of Sotha was growing inexorably; slowly enveloping the ships, until all that remained was a stretching, lonely landscape. Even from orbit, Sotha was terribly scarred - Monstrous craters, gouges and abysses dotting the surface, as though she had been gored by a boar.

‘This is not my world,’ Cleomenes snarled inwardly, remembering the verdant forests, expansive fields and shining oceans. ‘This is not Sotha.’

Gauntlets, huge and unbreakable, balled into fists. Ctesias coughed respectively, behind him, drawing the Space Marine’s head around in a regretful glance.

‘My world, Medea,’ Said the satrap, fingering his beard, head tilted to the side. ‘Died, also. Burned. My wife and children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles - All ashes, now.’ A faint, sad smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. ‘And I was not there, it hurts, eh? A kaleidoscope of emotions are running through you at the moment - Hate, anger, guilt, perhaps even a pinch of awe, - Master them, before they devour you, Space Marine. Or else you’ll turn into an old, grumpy bastard like myself; and that’s not a pleasurable living. Hah!’

Artaphernes guffawed. ‘As much as it pains me to admit it, Ctesias is correct.’ He leaned back, soot-dark eyebrows coming together in a frown, and sighed.

Despite himself, Cleomenes smirked at the camaraderie. He gave a nod of his consecrated helm, no words escaping his mouth-grille, his fists unravelling into hands. The Space Marine placed a hand on Ctesias’ shoulder, squeezed gently, and moved off towards the access hatch.

The stealth-ship was angling further down, hyper-reflective hull-plates and heating pads activating to mask the ship’s signature. She would arrive unopposed, gifting the five companions an opportunity to observe and learn.

‘Helms on.’ Cleomenes said, flatly. Crowned, shining helmets went down onto armoured necks - Their eyes becoming darkened, hateful pits. In their gilded void-suits, the four were lifeless, faceless automatons. Had Cleomenes been a mortal, he mused with a thin smile, he would piss himself at the sight.

The Space Marine flicked a hand over the hatch release, and with a pop, it lowered. There was a rush of displaced air, rippling the cloaks of the rogue trader’s entourage as it was sucked from the hold, before it stilled. Sotha was unnaturally flat - The mountains gone, the horizon a heat-blanketed blur; featureless and barren.

Cleomenes was trudging down the ramp before the ship had landed. The engines kicked up a layer of silver-speckled dust, twinkling prettily in the light, enshrouding the God-man for a moment.

A stab of hope filled his twinned-hearts, when he noticed a structure nearby. It rose from the ground, towers twisted like broken fingers, walks leaning heavily on one-another. Windows had been shattered inwards; the stained glass coating the ground for miles around, poking here and there, erratically. Large transports were landed, suspended from the ground by huge, taloned feet. Figures worked in the shadows - Bringing crates marked with the crossed scythe’s of Cleomenes chapter from the ruined fortress-monastery; loading them onto the ships.

The Space Marine started towards them instantly, lips peeled back in a rumbling, sonorous growl.

‘Where are you going?’ Mardonius demanded impetuously, stroking the gem-encrusted hilt of his falcata.

‘Rules of war, boy. I shall give them my terms.’

‘Terms? You offer these brigands terms?’ Mardonius spat, his voice bubbling over the vox.

‘Of course,’ Cleomenes returned, humorously, drawing nearer to the closest of the workers. ‘I am willing to give them the chance to die quickly.’

One of the scavengers turned towards the encroaching group, and instinctively, reached for a snub-nosed sidearm. Ctesias was upon him instantly; a dagger flashing in the star-light, and both went down in a tangle of limbs. He stabbed, once, twice, thrice; blood erupting from the ruptured void-suit. Despite his girth and ill-humour, Ctesias was an expert killer.

The other mortals each chose a target; hacking and slashing, splitting throats and impaling hearts.

‘Cleomenes,’ Tybarr said, his hands flecked with gore. ‘Look,’ He held one of the scavengers in his hand, face-plated caved inwards. One of the man’s eyes were gone, the cheek deflated lifelessly, lips swollen. It was Xenos - Tau. Cleomenes had butchered them before, on a dozen worlds, wrestling with their battle-suits and avian allies, the Kroot. ‘These are not organized. Pirates. I hate pirates.’

The Scythe of the Emperor chuckled at that, a deep, happy sound from within his chest. ‘I will not sully my blade on these dregs,’ He announced, clapping his gauntlets together. ‘They are undeserving of Othello’s wrath.’

They stalked through the corridors of cases and scrap quietly; Cleomenes leading the way, killing fastidiously - Snapping necks, yanking limbs free of their sockets, pulverizing organs with well-aimed punches - Moving with a dexterous grace, feline-like, despite his bulk.

Ahead, the corridors abated; opening up into a circular area.

Standing in the clearing, towering over even the over-man Cleomenes, was a sentinel. Manipulator talons, huge and potent, opened and closed in the Space Marine’s direction. Beneath a canopy of ocean-blue plexi-glass, the rider grinned toothlessly.

‘The poultry wants to dance,’ Cleomenes declared sardonically, advancing on the machine, which pivoted left, claws snapping impatiently. ‘I shall bless it.’

‘You will die.’ Mardonius chirped, ever the cynic, watching the Space Marine as he broke into a run.

‘Doubtful.’ Was the simple reply, matter-of-factly, as he dove. He rolled, beneath the pincers; one leg spearing out, connecting with one of the sentinel’s ankles. Pistons snapped, fluid spurting from ruptured fuel lines, and it stumbled.

A claw swung towards him; and Cleomenes launched upwards, landing on the arm, before leaping away once more. He landed on the chassis, pulling back a hand; and punched. There was a vibration, but nonetheless, the armoured glass held. The Space Marine dangled, fingers clinging onto their handholds, helm locked on the figure within.

The rider grinned once again, and beneath his reflective goggles, eyes shone triumphantly. And then, they faded, as he noticed his naivety - A spider-web of cracks slowly spreading across the sentinel’s front; his mouth falling open. The canopy exploded outwards, tearing the man free of his restraints, choking on his own blood as he drifted away.

It keeled over, and Cleomenes was enshrouded.

Tybarr and his satraps darted forwards; concern writ on their faces.

‘I told ‘im so,’ Mardonius sneered, shaking his crowned helmet. ‘I told him!’

A huge, sky-blue hand grasped the satrap’s shoulder. From the curtain of dust, Cleomenes emerged.

‘I shall know no defeat.’


Rounds streaked over head, scintillating blue or sparkling crimson, a mixture of human and alien weaponry.

Ctesias was down in the dust, snarling, winded by a punch. Mardonius and Artaphernes stood over him; dropping opponents with brilliantly-aimed shots, while Tybarr and Cleomenes stood apart - Unleashing the odd spurt of fire, the Space Marine on his knees, singing an ancient lament.

‘Sally forth, and we can crush them.’ Tybarr was urging, desperate to get from this Emperor-forsaken world. ‘Cleo, your brothers are gone. Whatever happened here..’

A huge, crushing fist gripped the back of Tybarr’s neck and brought him in close.

‘You are welcome to leave,’ Cleomenes’ voice was a harsh, rasping whisper. ‘Let them taste their victory - Death is a far more bitter wine.’

He stood, releasing his companion.

‘I meant no disresp-’ Tybarr offered, though Cleomenes cut him off with a wave of his palm.

‘I know. Never apologise, Tybarr. Merely say it louder the next time.’ You could hear the smile, as he plucked one of the Tau from his feet - Head and chest disintegrating with a muted explosion.

And then, with a flash of beautiful light, a group of the piratical curs were rendered into slag. Cleomenes helm snapped sidewards, and his mouth hung loose for a moment.

Regaled poorly; scratches, burns and abrasions marked out clearly on their armour, were a group of Space Marines. Amidst their group, towering over them, was a monolithic Dreadnought, a las-cannon glowing on one arm.

‘Othello..’ He whispered, tears brimming on his lids, before shaking his head clear. ‘No, not Othello. Someone else.’

He recognised one of the figure’s stances, Raxan he believed, a distant memory- But he was not going to call out and find himself mistaken. The Marines flooded around him, opening fire; butchering Tau and human alike, with careless abandon.

‘Scythes of the Emperor,’ Cleomenes growled, slumping back onto his knees. He used his Chapter's name callously, unsure of what to make of these rag-tag Space Marines. ‘Identify yourselves.’

And after a moment, his voice issued stronger over the vox - ‘Now.’

Unfinished Project King
7,409 Posts
Raxan smiled beneath his helm and shook his head in resignation. These young pups, barely off their mother's teat, bandied insults and claimed that they deserved glory and honor. The did not see that their disobediance, their failure to pay heed to their lords commands, robbed them of any of either that they should find on Sotha's dead surface. Kain's words were short and to the point, ordering the assembled squad to silence on the subject. Raxan had no desire or reason to disobey his friend and sergeant's command. He had said his piece regarding the younglings presence and their attempts to get a rise out of him fruitless. He felt little sting from their barbs. His weight of experience, his knowledge of youth, and the dead surface of his beloved home were more than enough to still his thoughts and focus his mind. All that said he did smile once more as Kain silently dressed Brother Izrael down, all his words but the last drowned out by the steady roar of the thunderhawk's engines.

As the craft's assault cannons barked to life, it seemed as each brother aboard put their squabble behind them. The sound of weaponfire reminding them why they approached Sotha, the sound of the guns bringing their duty to the fore. Instinctively Raxan manually checked the seals on his armor, confirming what his HUD told him. Swaying with the movement of the Thunderhawk, Raxan stood, moving his way to the back, his Bolter held ready. With a nod from Kain he activated the ramp lever, the hiss of atmosphere rushing out around them as the interior of the thunderhawk was exposed to the vacuum of space. Raxan followed Kain, stepping off the ramp with a quiet thud. Falling instictively to Kain's right side, a slight step behind him he moved forward with the squad, Bolter up and ready, eyes scanning the surrounding terrain for threats.

As his gaze took in the scarred surface of his homeworld, the broken walls of the great Fortress Monastary that had served the chapter for centuries, his breath caught in his throat. Nothing remained. The twisted steel skeleton of the Monastary all that stood as a testament to the Chapter's noble history. His blood began to boil as he took in the crates and machinery, all bearing the mark of the Scythes, that had been removed from his blessed home. The fact that these heretics and theives had defiled the last resting place of so many of his brethren bringing ire like he had not known since the fall of Sotha itself. He would bring death to them, whoever or whatever they be.

Floating amongst the crates, slain by some yet unknown force, were several bodies and as his brothers investigated, finding the vile Tau and their human allies, Raxan began to quiver with rage. His muscles convulsion almost uncontrollably beneath his armor as he struggled to fight the desire to dash madly forward, slaying all that he came across, avenging the desecration of his home with every round from his Bolter and every swipe of his chainsword. A blinding flash of light, followed by the heavy stomping feet of Brother Solaki brought him back from the brink. The misting spray of the Dreadnaughts lascannon coolant melting into the black of his armor.

As his gaze snapped in the direction that Solaki's shot flew, he saw a group of men, one standing tall among them, engaged with the enemy. The tallest, a Marine adorned in the colors of Scythes, bringing death to all who came against him, the four smaller men, fighting with him in concert in such a way that immediately told Raxan that they had done so many times over many years. Raxan felt the urge to join them in battle, a feeling obviously shared by his squad as they surged forward, Bolters ringing.

He brought his own weapon up and snapped off several shots, each finding their mark, foes dying every time his finger stroked the trigger. Raxan watched as several of his companions rushed forward to engage the desecrators in close combat. He concentrated his fire on foes that attempted to flank his sword wielding brethren.

A voice, cutting across the vox drew his attention back to the Marine who could be no other than Cleomenes, as he demanded to know who they were. Confused, wondering who else they could be wearing the revered colors of the Scythes. Then it dawned on him, Cleomenes did not know what had transpired on Sotha. He had been far beyond the reaches of Imperial space. He could only imagine the crushing reality that his friend and brother must be feeling.

"Cleomenes, brother, it is Raxan." Raising his bolter, he fired, slaying the foe that had been rushing Cleomenes from behind, "Welcome home my friend." He said rushing forward, hand outstretched to help his brother to his feet. "There is much to tell you, but first to business."
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