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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Blood and Iron

The thirteen chosen of the XIXth Grand Company entered the chamber one by one, in no particular order of rank. It was a plain room, dominated by a quadradecagonal table made of highly polished steel, tall enough to reach the waist of an astartes – bright lights shone down on it, casting the rest of the room in darkness. At the edge of this table, opposite the door, stood the Warsmith, watching them as they took their places around the table. They moved with well-practiced efficiency, smoothly sliding into the positions marked for their rank with the faint hiss of well-oiled armour servos, not a word uttered between them, waiting. The tension in the air was palpable as they watched one another, probing their fellows for weakness while the Warsmith’s eyes slid over each member present with cool appraisal. Though they ranged in shape and size, Pelegon towered over the proceedings, exceeding all of them in both height and bulk, despite being stooped over the table, both armoured hands resting on its surface. He enjoyed the fact that those junior in rank to him had to look up to him in every way.

“You know why you are gathered here” Pelegon began, his voice a heavy, mechanically-altered growl “and today, I bring you welcome news. Consider this campaign a gift.”

The Warsmith brought up his left forearm, into the vambrace of which was built a large, complex-looking cogitator array, and tapped a few keys. In the centre of the table appeared a miniaturised planet, though it was so clear and solid that it could have been a model suspended before them – with so clear a picture, and no visible projectors, the technology producing the hologram was a far cry from the simple flickering images that most Imperial commanders had at their disposal.

“Pelexis III is a simple agricultural world, the only one considered habitable in its system – Pelexis II and IV were mined dry of ores during the latter days of the Crusade. It has a population of seventeen million, deemed too awkwardly situated to draw a tithe for the Imperial Guard. A world like this would normally offer us nothing, but for the unusual garrison it has acquired”

Pelegon tapped another key on his cogitator, and a spot on the northern hemisphere began to glow red. The symbol that floated above it was one familiar to all of them, showing a wolf’s head over a diamond. The VIth legion, now reduced to a chapter; the Space Wolves.

“Some eighteen years ago this world was attacked by the Word Bearers, an offshoot from the seventh Black Crusade – the intelligence I acquired did not specify the leader of this invasion, or the reason behind it, but the incursion, minor as it was, was put down by the Space Wolves”

Pelegon looked around to ensure that his captains were following what had been a very simple speech so far. His eye lingered in particular on the Primus Medicae, Lugerev – he appeared to be lucid for the time being, but the man’s forays into madness were a cause of concern for Pelegon. If he did not manage to correct himself, Lugerev would have to be removed before too long. Of course, that would upset the brothers Coeus and Iapetus. The loss of a pure-blood, especially the one tasked with ensuring the propagation of their line, would not be received with any measure of good cheer. However, while the state of Lugerev’s mind did not interfere with the quality of his work, the problem could wait. His face and mind inscrutable, Pelegon returned to the task in hand and tapped another button on his cogitator; the hologram of the planet was replaced with a fortress.

It was a fairly simple structure, forgoing complex architecture and advanced defensive structures for rugged high-faced walls and heavily-armed gun batteries. It appeared square as viewed from above, with four corner bastions narrowing down to a central keep. There was one gate, on the most heavily-armed, south-facing, wall, large enough to accommodate the stature of a Reaver battle titan. Of course, it had never held so prestigious an artefact, and nor would it.

“I will upload what architectural plans and layouts I have of the bastion to your cogitators. It is named ‘The Wolf’s Claw’

At this there was a quiet collective rumble from the gathered senior officers, felt through the tremor of the floor rather than heard – the Iron Warriors were not given to humour, but even they found the somewhat repetitive and predictable nomenclature of the Space Wolves amusing. Pelegon did not partake, but his upper lip was raised a little in the closest he muster to a smile.

“When they defended this world and destroyed the invaders, the master of the 9th Company, Thorgarr Redtooth, swore to the then governor that he would see it defended until the world was brought back to strength – or, as is their interpretation, its pre-invasion population of twenty-five million. So they have remained here, an idle garrison. Their love for mortals” a rare hint of derision entered Pelegon’s usually neutral voice “is what has left them vulnerable to us, and it is what we shall exploit to bring them down without so much as firing upon the walls of their fortress. The mortals think themselves invulnerable while they have their guard dogs – as is proven by their lack of even a token planetary defence force”

It was a well-known fact to all the assembled officers that their commander harboured a particular dislike for the Space Wolves, though none, except perhaps Tyranus, knew its origin.

“We will ensure that the Space Wolves will not speak of this battle, for I will see them so utterly humiliated that any boast that they could muster will die in their throats – doubtless you will be wondering how I acquired this information, and the specifics that apply to each of you in turn. To that end we will have another rendezvous on the bridge of the Ferra Perpetua. I expect your units to be fully mobilized and in orbit by then, except for” Pelegon pointed toward the 4th and 5th Captains “you and your men will remain to guard the Eisenschloss in our absence”

Pelegon straightened up and slid his Spartan-style helmet over his grim features, the muted glow of the red orbs that constituted its visual receptors washing over his captains one by one.

“For this, we stand to acquire no material gains, but our foe stands to lose everything – humility, pain and loss are the lessons we will teach them. Lucian, Iapetus, Lugerev, remain. The rest of you are dismissed. Iron Within”

“Iron Without” came the reply.



Tyranus
Two of the Tyranthikos, a unit of soldiers so elite that they are no less now than an extension of your body and will, fall into step beside you as you leave. Though their power fists are disabled and their combi-bolters hang from their thighs, you know that they could ready and throw themselves at an opponent in a fraction of the time that it would take most astartes, despite their heavy cataphractii plate. As paranoid as they are hardened, their heads twitch as they constantly take in and filter their surroundings for the slightest hint of a threat – in their presence you are safe, though you know that your strength and ability to lead must remain unquestionable to stop them turning on you.

The 1st Company has its own keep, a somewhat squat structure to the East of the Eisenschloss. Though the fortress was designed to accommodate the movements of armour-clad astartes, the corridors and rooms of the 1st Company’s quarters are especially enlarged in order to allow the easy movement of large numbers of soldiers clad in terminator armour. They will be expecting you to relay the news, knowing that the summoning of all the XIXth’s senior officers can only mean a campaign.


Kunzhardt
As master of the guns, the movement of units into orbit is the most arduous task for you, out of all the captains. In addition to the deadly firepower at your command, you must have available enough ammunition to keep those guns firing constantly for periods that can extend to weeks, months, and even years. It is no mean logistical feat, and one to which you are clearly uniquely suited.

The Iron Havocs, marksmen and heavy weapons specialists beyond compare, constitute a significant portion of your infantry presence, and are distinct from your other infantry specialists, the Destroyers, by their relatively unblemished appearance. Both are specialists, and competent in concocting, managing and executing complex fire and assault protocols, and answer to your command as well as a fine set of tools will to a master craftsman. They are strange within the IVth legion to the extent that they do not require great shows of strength in order to remain sated, satisfied much more by the intelligence and planning of a commander than his ability to keep insubordinates (of which there are few) in line. So far you have certainly proved adequate. However, you are aware that the Master of the Forge, Adriun, acquired a Fellglaive tank, a result of a trade arranged by the Warsmith. It is clear to you that, as the master of arms, you should be in possession of the ancient weapons platform. Whether it was given to Adriun as bait, an insult, a test of strength or merely because it is so temperamental and technically advanced a weapons system, you do not know.


Lucian, Iapetus, Lugerev
After the last man has filed out of the room, you find yourselves alone with the Warsmith, who taps away on his cogitator. You know that he is perfectly aware of the tension between Iapetus and the non-Olympian members of the XIXth, and his request to ask you to stay together seems completely deliberate.

“During the ground assault, this will be your target” the Warsmith manages at length, the image of an Astartes Strike Cruiser appearing on the hologram table. It appears no different from a standard model, its markings showing the relatively lightly armed craft to be of the Space Wolves chapter.

“The Fist of Russ. It is currently in orbit over Pelexis III. The crew is mostly human, with the bulk of the 9th planetside, but there is, to my knowledge, still a strong Space Wolf presence aboard – destroying it would be no hard task, but I want it captured. This is a task for a needle” Pelegon nodded toward Lucian “and not a hammer, Iapetus. How the two of you co-ordinate your resources is up to you, but I expect the crew to be killed and the ship under my command by the end of the siege. Any damage I see on that ship, once you present it to me, I will reflect upon the two of you”

The Warsmith turned his full attention to Lugerev, ignoring the other two as the hologram disappeared without a flicker. The downcast lighting served only to accentuate Pelegon’s size and the aura of power that radiated from him like a sick heat.

“You are to accompany them, Lugerev, for I know that a unit of Salamanders was struck down some time ago, and their gene-seed collected by the 9th. Why the XVIIIth have not seen fit to relieve their comrades of that most precious resource I could not answer – perhaps the Wolves are keeping it for themselves. You know that we do not use Space Wolf gene seed, but that of the Salamanders is acceptable enough – and an additional ten marines at our disposal is something not to be dismissed. I wish you to personally oversee the recovery and delivery of the gene-seed to the vault on the Ferra. After that you will join us on the planet to sort the prisoners we will have taken for prospective recruits. Now…”

Pelegon turned his head to take in the three that stood before him.

“Are there any questions?”


Adriun
You know that it will be your duty during the course of the siege to ensure that all equipment is functioning to the best of its ability, as well as the recovery of usable materials from the fallen enemy. By far the youngest member of the senior officers, you know that the Warsmith has a respect for both your ability and ambition, and how quickly you rose through the ranks, and is cautious of you for the exact same reason.

Several servo skulls accompany you, each bringing news from different men under your command of matters requiring your attention – mostly shortages of particular machine parts, or suboptimal furnace temperatures. Though none are urgent, the manufacture and maintenance machine of the Iron Warriors being too well-made and managed to provide major incidents, they still chip away at your time, of which you have little to spare.

In the meantime, you must inspect a Fellglaive tank given to you by the Warsmith a mere handful of hours ago. You were informed that it was a gift from Barban Falk of the 235th Grand Company, though the fresh scorch marks and gouges in its armour indicate that its previous owner may not have handed it over so willingly.

The ancient weapons system, the volkite carronade, awes you – only a handful of such old and complex ordnance exists in the material universe, and this is a gift handed to you by the Warsmith in the expectation that you will be able to analyse and replicate it in due course. You also know that the 2nd Captain may well want this for himself, though whether you want to keep the ancient weapons system for yourself is up to you.


Coeus
The meeting room leaves you feeling unsatisified. You pride yourself on your strength of will and the inability of other telepaths to read your mind, but it would be only natural for a psyker to be able to challenge the power of another. The Warsmith’s mind remains to you anathema, unable as you are to read it – every attempt that you have made has been rebuffed, and you do not know whether the Warsmith actively resists and is aware of your attempts, or the effect is passive – he never mentions it to you, or indicates awareness of your efforts. It is likely this that has helped him resist the taint and urge of Chaos for seven millennia, even in the face of social intercourse with your daemon primarch.

As Epistolary, you know that the mental purity of the XIXth is your responsibility. It sounds like the kind of religious, soulful rubbish espoused by the followers of the Emperor, and the motives that the two factions share behind their wish for purity are similar – there must be no possible division of loyalty. Each man must be utterly sublimated to his desire to wage war, but the reasons must not be incorrect; earning the favour of one of the Dark Gods falls into that category. Beyond that, whether it is personal vendetta, a raging bloodthirst or merely the job to which one finds oneself (somewhat unsurprisingly as an astartes) best suited, does not matter, as long as their willingness to fight, competence and loyalty to the XIXth are beyond question.

Today you have two marines, or to you two tiresome tasks to deal with. The first is one of your librarians, who was reported after tomes marked with the eight-pointed star, and more worryingly, eye of Tzeentch, were found in his possession. He argued that it was for the purposes of research and countering the power of the Changer of The Ways – the investigation and judgement fall into your hands.

The second is a battle-brother of the 2nd Company, who was cited for possible corruption by an apothecary after unusual abscesses were found on his left forearm, which refused to heal. He denies worshipping Nurgle, and is currently, as is the suspect librarian, detained and awaiting investigation and judgement.


Gentlemen, you have until the 28th to write what you get up to. After that, there will be an update, and things will move onward to glorious orbit. If you have any questions or requests, or if I haven’t written/clarified something vital, please message me.
 

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Lucian the first to enter the briefing room and bowed to the Warsmith leaning on the table infront of him while technically being ranked third of Pelegon's captains, Lucian was generally the first to arrive in any meeting that was called purely to watch his fellow members of the company arrive and gauge their moods. Standing in his jet black armour and dark grey cloak and hood Lucian stuck out like a swore thumb amidst the sea of burnished iron and silver that the rest of the 'leaders' of the 19th Grand Company wore.

Standing still with his hands at his sides casually Lucian stood to one side of the room with the majority of his body facing the Warsmith but turned enough to the side to look at the others enter the room and take their places before listening to Warsmith Pelegon outline his plans for the next campaign and when he did he shifted his entire focus to the display and taking in every drop of information that the Warsmith deigned to tell them.

Lucian shook his head at the mention of the Space Wolves recalling the troubled relationship between the First and Sixth Legion but quickly crushed the thoughts of the past, as that is just what they were, memories of the past. Turning his gaze back to the holo-pic he listened and waited silently and when Pelegon concluded the briefing with Lucian himself and the rest of those gathered echoing the end of the Iron Warrior chant he then turned to leave the briefing room with the others and stopped when Pelegon called for him, the Captain of Seventh and the Primus Medicae to wait.

Pivoting on his heel he turned and made his way closer to the Warsmith and waited for the rest to leave before listening intently to the new information that Pelegon told them and to himself Lucian smiled lightly to himself when he heard Pelegon speak of the mission of taking the 'Fist of Russ' requiring a needle instead of a hammer which meant that Third Company would be required to do what it does best: operating away from the main battle field in acts of deception, sabotage and other less honourable acts though when he heard that the Captain of Seventh, the Shipwright: Iapetus he was less then happy and being asked to work along side someone who had about as much subtlety as a World Eater .

When the Warsmith asked the three of them for any questions Lucian step froward and finally spoke: "As always Warsmith, you honour me and Third Company with the tasks best suited to us. As you said removing the obstacle that is the 'Fist of Russ' from orbit and taking it will require a 'needle' I already have several plans in mind and with your blessing I will requisition what I need and be under way to put the plans in action two days hence. I ask firstly that: Captain Iapetus remain with the rest of the Company as he and his men would be of no use to me. Secondly I require a loyalist ship from around this very planet something that has yet to be refitting as to suit the legion, something that is fully operation yet still bears its loyalist colours and scars from its latest engagement. Finally, I would require a psyker of great power, I require the presence and use of, The Librarius's Primus, The Seer: Coeus. If I have permission to gather these then I shall submit a full outline of my plan to you before the day is out, My Lord."
 

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He sighed as he shooed away the Servitor skulls, and wirelessly adjusted the Furnace temperatures to optimal levels. He continued to tread along to his Forge, where he eventually with a few button presses got a hovering platform to come out to him, using technologies he had managed to crack and replicate previously. He stepped up onto the platform and as it glided along towards the Forge and Factorum, meanwhile he did calculations on a data slate he held approving repairs and shipments as well as denying personal requests for gear that was not needed or could not be justified for how it would impact his time without sufficient compensation.

Adriun shook his head slightly, ”Don’t they know that I don’t do personal requests without a trade? How many times must I…” he paused as he saw the FellGlaive tank as the platform came to a stop, “Beautiful.” Was all he could muster as he hovered closer and let his gauntlet slide along the flat barrel of the ancient weapon.

He immediately ordered the tank to be hauled into the Factorum for disassembly, it was the quickest way to catalogue the parts and begin piecing together how to replicate the technology, which he had a very good idea how it worked as his personal side arm was a Serpenta and he intimately knew its workings and could make another with his eye’s closed. Massive machines drove out of the Factorum and attached hooks to the tank, and several Humans under his employ climbed into the machine and set about gearing it into neutral. He knew the Warsmith dis-tasted mortals, but it was key that Adriun worked with them, as he was linked with the Traitorous Mechanicum, and so these humans were minor acolytes from them, specifically ones that wished to distance themselves from the more corrupt parts of the Traitor Mechanicus, or wished to increase their station through his employ.

Slowly but surely it began to be dragged into the hungry facility, where machines where already being prepped to disassemble the tank, starting with the turret. The Factorum, and its adjoining building the Forge, were massive constructs, lined with automated defenses, and spires pumping out steam into the air. However the building was highly stylized to Adriun’s tastes, and it did not resemble the former Master of the Forge’s abode. What made it so different were the additions that where made, specifically Titan husks, from Adriun’s kills from other campaigns. None of the hulls were defaced, in-fact they still had pristine heraldry and only retained battle damage from their time of defeat, and so were trophies commemorating several astounding victories for the XIXth Grand Company.

The entrance to the Massive Factory was reconstructed through the Head of one of Adriun’s largest quarry, as was fitting, the tank was slowly pulled into the mouth of a Machine God. Adriun cracked a slight smile in his helm, something he wouldn't let any of his fellow captain’s see him do, but something in privacy of his workplace he would allow himself to have the luxury of revealing some modicum of emotion.

As He hovered into the massive complex, all around him the sounds of machines and mechanical progress, he watched the FellGlaive precede, its arrival arousing a joyous murmur among his Human workers and simply causing his Tech-Marines to turn their attention for a longer time than normal before returning to their current tasks. He levitated up to an over watch, like a Mechanical Throne overseeing the operation of the facility, it was surrounded by Holo-projections and data-screens showing the processes and status of the various machines. There were several sub stations near it, each manned by a Tech Marine and a retinue of Technological Savants and Tech-Priests. His platforms lowered and locked into the over hang and he immediately got to monitor the system through the surrounding screen, behind him two thrallax cohort guards.


Through the Vox sytems of the building he broadcast his commands, “Brothers, we have received a gift from the Warsmith, it shows how much he respects our work, we shall continue to exceed his expectations and show we are worthy of such a donation.” He paused as he directed the Servitors to begin assisting the Human workers.

“Now this weapon is to be disassembled and catalog according to my usual procedures, I need the main Emitter core delivered to me as soon as possible, Delta and Gamma Teams will be in charge of making a blue print of the generator and Capacitors, Alpha and Beta the Barrel’s Magnetic Focusing arrays similarly will be left to you, I expect this completed within the week, no Later. That is all.” He said as he stepped back from the overlooking station and screens before him, and dismissed the guards.

Adriun continued back along the overhang and into an Adjoining room that was his personal quarters, he walked in and looked at the wall, where their was a collection of Xeno Weapons he had studied and were gifted to him in exchange for his artisan weapon and armor-smithing services. The other tech had provided invaluable insight to improving current technology, some xenos tech providing insight into Imperial tech problems, the rest remained curiosities to look at. However something else drew his sight, and his heart, a small Silver token on a silver necklace, his Mother’s legacy and the only thing he had from his short past life. He let his armored finger trace the little silver object his eyes taking on a tinge of sadness, indiscernible behind his helmet, which he proceeded to remove and set upon a pedestal.

He walked over to his work table in his personal quarters and turned on several screens to continue monitoring the functions of the factory, he pulled up current information he had on Volkite Weaponry and everything he knew about building them, which he had done through intense study and replication of his side arm. He got to work on simulations of the functions and scaling it up as the Factorum disassembled the massive tank and began cataloging each and every part with machine efficiency, and they worked on getting the parts Adriun Requested for study.
 

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Tyranus' footsteps were a heavy thud as he marched along with the two Tyranthikos escorts that were ever present at his side. Like extensions of his own thought they constantly observed every possible vector of potential attack, analyzing every potential threat that they encountered as they maneuvered through the corridors of the Eisenschloss. The two members of the Tyranthikos swept the room for any signs of hostility, even within the protected confines of the Eisenschloss their dedicated service was at its utmost, they were impressive warriors and Tyranus smiled proudly underneath his helm that he had honed such a fanatical fighting force behind him.

At the head of the trio Tyranus strode in and removed his helm, taking note of the presence already of Lucian the Captain of the Third. As their Lord made his entrance and gave greeting the two members of the Tyranthikos bowed their heads and spoke in unison as they did so "WarSmith," before finding places in the shadows behind Tyranus' seat at the table which was the first chair to the right of the WarSmith. Before acknowledging his Brother Captain he greeted the WarSmith, "Pelegon! What glory do we bring to the XIXth this day?" His booming voice was filled with excitement at the prospect of having a proper campaign again. Like much of the First he had grown rambunxious and eager to go on the offensive again. To the keen ears in the room, they would note that Tyranus referred to Pelegon often by his first name rather than his title of WarSmith, though out of a sign of familiarity and not of disrespect. Thought Pelegon as always stood taller than Tyranus himself, he was still the broader of the two now ancient warriors and he looked at his kindred warrior with the predatory grin that Pelegon had seen many times before, Tyranus was anxious to be on the hunt once again.

Lucian was one of his fellow Captains that he did not harbor any great mistrust in and as such greeted him with a cordial but sincere nod "Captain Lucian, how unexpected to see you here," referring to the fact that the Third Captain spent much of his time on missions of subversion and espionage, things that Tyranus understood the value of and appreciated more than many of their fellow Brother Captains. "The First has always had great success fighting alongside the Third, Captain Lucian." It was as complimentary as Tyranus got really, but he was quite sincere in his praise, the two companies had a history of successful campaigns, typically in taking out well protected targets, wherein the Third would infiltrate and kill those in command of the enemy while the First tore through their enemies' front line defenses in great swathes.

As the rest of the Captains and XIXth's leadership arrived the reason for their summons was finally revealed, at least partially. Pelegon spoke of the planet Pelexis III, and its rather mundane existence. However at the mention of a Company of Space Wolves Tyranus quickly perked up. He enjoyed humbling the braggadocious dogs of the False Emperor, however he did not particularly agree with the mission if they stood to make no material gains. That said he was a fond believer in sending clear messages to his enemies and allies alike, and this would likely send a clear statement to the Imperium, that their settlements in these regions were at the will of the XIXth Great Company, even if 'protected' by a company of Space Wolves. Tyranus took note of the The Wolf's Claw an unimaginative and standard template bastion that had been utilized on countless worlds beholden to the False Emperor. It was unique in its name alone and while it was fortified it would not stand up against the tidal wave of destruction that was his Tyranthikos, he assumed they would be the spearhead to lead the assault against the fortress as that was their specialty.

As the meeting concluded the retinue was dismissed save for Iapetus, Lucian and Lugerev were ordered to remain. What exactly those three alone were to be privy to was of interest to Tyranus, but he could not linger on the lack of complete information he was given. His task now was to muster the First Company to readiness. The Tyanthikos fell in behind him as he left the chamber, replacing his helm and again marching, this time at a quickened pace towards the keep to the East that harbored the First Company.
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Flanked by his Tyranthikos escorts he was immediately met by his Lieutenant Xerath, "See to it that the Iron Tyrant is prepared to launch at my order," Tyranus spoke as he observed the various states of readiness that his men were in. They had been preparing for operations under his orders since he had received a summons. They would be ready well within time, but Tyranus held great expectations for his company. "Our Land Raiders are already prepared my Lord," Xareth answered before even being asked the question, to which Tyranus nodded approvingly "Well done Xareth. Assemble the command squad, Veka and Lukar are to take auto cannons, Grega and Dathos shall take their chainfists and all are to be equipped with cyclone launchers. The rest of our Brothers may equip their normal Tyrant loadouts," He referred to their Tyrant Siege loadouts, ideal for line breaking and shattering embattlements like the Wolf's Claw. "We shall be in orbit shortly, you have done admirably to have the men ready to this point, do not fail me so close to our return to glorious battle." His words were laced equally with complimentary and ominous tones, to which Xareth nodded thankfully at the praise and quickly went back to directing his Lord's orders as Tyranus walked away, his two honor guard in tow as the Keep erupted into cheers, the barking of orders and the continuation of the clanking and bustling of the First preparing for war as Xareth relayed the orders of the Captain Tyranus.

I would have words with Pelegon in private before we embark on this new campaign, He thought to himself as he made his way to the armory aboard the flagship of the First the Iron Tyrant. He proceeded to look over the Wolf's Claw in his HUD as he marched, his keen mind searching for the weakest point within the structure that he and his Tyranthikos would strike at before tearing apart those who stood as its guardians. As he arrived to the armory he saw that which he had been seeking, a single barrel direct fire frag launcher that was quickly affixed by a pair of servitors at his behest to the right shoulder of his Cataphractii plate. His honor guard stood ever to either side two paces behind, he spoke to them, knowing they were unlikely to respond "Tell me my Brothers, have you ever hunted a wolf?" To his amusement the less decorated of the two spoke up in response "No, but I have heard from you my Lord that they die just the same as any other Imperial Dog." Quite satisfied with the unexpected answer Tyranus nodded as he let himself laugh "Yes, yes they certainly do Brother Dayus."
 

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Hmmph. . . Of course the Night Lord would be one of the first to arrive. . . So eager to please his master like any of the other fools in the Eye that would do anything to please the Dark Gods. He pranced around like a good little show dog before his master and only Lucian beating him none the less. It was as though the Captain of the Third came forth from the shadows and was one with them.

A rather mundane mission really. No spoils to be had save for the blood of those wolf loving spits. Their unimaginative adherence to names a child could conjur forth, their preference to look like savage barbarians. He opened and closed his fists with a grinding the ceramite together in anticipation. It was always a pleasure to bathe in the blood of the Emperor's Executioners.

There was however a situation that brought great fury to him and it took a degree of self-control to not openly bark in the meeting like some damned fool of a World Eater. Despite his position as master of arms, the Mechanized Fist of the XIXth company and the obliterator of worlds Pelegon had seen fit to distribute a machine of war not to him but to the Master of the Forge. The more he thought about the insult the more it infuriated him. What was the Warsmith trying to accomplish with this? Did he want to test the strength of the Second Captain? Did he want to wound his honour so some aspiring champion would seek to overthrow him? He repressed it for the time being so they could focus on the meeting.

While externally there was no great show inside Kunzhardt was both joyous and enraged. The opportunity to spill Wolf blood brought him a degree of satisfaction he would not deny. However the events to come did not please him. He would need to speak with the Warsmith, and most assuredly to the Tech Marine, and to put down any insurrectionist that might have aspirations a bit too lofty. He eyed every individual in the room illuminated by the dull glow of the the lumoglobes dotting the room and upon dismissal slammed the heavy powerfist into the open palm of his left hand in a traditional salute and wordlessly left the room with zeal.

Walking down the hallway Kunzhardt briefly entertained the idea of taking the Night Lord now, there was the slightest possibility that the two bodyguards would honor blood above all but he quickly extinguished the idea and pressed on. There would be no advantage gained from so foolish a task. He returned to his own lair to the large hangar like expanse that was essentially a colossal shooting range and combat simulator. Helmets on at all times and live ammunition used. They would train the way they fight. His subordinate ran up to him through the zone where two squads were engaging one another and saluted to him as a bolter round pinged off his pauldron.

The boiling silence ended in a thunderclap.

"Vhalos! Report!"

The voice carried over everything else in the room like a krak grenade detonation.

"Everything is proceeding efficiently Kunzhardt. Three wounded, no fatalities. What did the Warsmith desire?" ". . .Pelegon wishes us to deal with a pack of wild dogs and the babes that they're safe guarding. . . No glory to be had but the opportunity to shed loyalist blood is always enticing. I wish to remind the Imperium of how foolhardy protecting weaklings is; let us bring tox weaponry to scorch the soil."

"Of course! Wolf blood is fine I shall make ready for our leave"

"Very good, I must have a word with our Master of the Forge."

With that he turned and left leaving his adjutant to run things in his stead. Vhalos was a loyal capable soldier without too much aspiration it was a good combination for him and he was efficient enough to manage to not garner Kunzhardt's wrath too often. No that was reserved for another this time as heavy boots summoned him to the Factorum.
 

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With that he turned and left leaving his adjutant to run things in his stead. Vhalos was a loyal capable soldier without too much aspiration it was a good combination for him and he was efficient enough to manage to not garner Kunzhardt's wrath too often. No that was reserved for another this time as heavy boots summoned him to the Factorum.
The broad shouldered Captain made his trek to the Factorum and was met by its façade of former Machine Gods, brought low through the Forge Master’s cunning and technical knowledge of the inner workings of said machines.

He walked past two immobile sentries at the massive gate, Castellax Battle-Automata, some of the many relics that the relative youth of a Tech-Marine had access too, and in relative quantity. They let him pass as their virtual intelligences registered the Captain of the Second’s presence which meant Adriun would be very aware of his arrival.

Kunzhardt was met by the sight of an entourage of Tech Priests and Tech-Marines surrounding the husk of the FellGlaive, which was stripped down to the chassis. It was to note however the tank that came in, disheveled and battle wounded, was now pristine and repaired, and ready to be re-armed and equipped with its weapons. He also noted several turrets hanging on chains, without the gun or capacitors mounted, that were exact pristine replicas of the tank’s original turret, it seemed as soon as the Main weapon’s technology was cracked they would be able to mass produce the weapon.

He was noticed by the Tech-Marines and Tech-Priests that were overseeing the work of the Servitors, a few Tech Priests and a Tech-Marine came forward.

The Tech Priests bowed with utterances of “Mi’Lord.” And the Marine saluted in the Iron Warriors fashion and directed the Captain to the Elevator.

Soon he was at over watch near Adriun’s personal quarters. The Master of the Forge of course knew this and turned on his Vox.

“Brother Captain, come in, I have been expecting you.” He said amiably.

As Kunzhardt entered the abode, most likely with little concerned with its decorations, he saw Adriun standing near the Main Firing component of the Fell Glaive, or at least assumed so.

Adriun turned to him, while his Mechadendrites continued to work on the device unabated.

“Speak Brother, I assume this is not about your arm, as maintenance was not long ago, is there some service you need of me?” He full well knew why the Captain of the Second was here, but he wished to let his Brother-Captain vent first if necessary.
 

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The grandiose nature of the Forge room always disgusted to some degree. The unnecessary eccentricities of a man that had been all but consumed by the machine. There could be a degree of respect held for the absolutely ancient technological marvels lying around but it was all a great show like a puppet master stringing along marionettes or a doll maker and his display of windup toy soldiers.

The cavernous room with the grinding noises of countless minor events occurring crested by a Fellglaive in countless smaller pieces as the center piece turned his stomach. A mighty weapon of war reduced to scrap!? No that couldn't be the case. He noted some of the pieces that seemed to be replicated and that it seemed like Adruin would seek to produce multiples of this tank which left him at somewhat of a disadvantage in the coming discussion. There would be no high ground for Kunzhardt and all he could do would be to save face and maintain his strength before all. This was a ploy after all! A perfect upstart to humiliate the second captain by removing him from the loop and then sending him into the Factorum where his honour could be mocked. Damn that Warsmith and his ties to the VIIIth legion! Deception and cowardice are their way and this was certainly a fitting way to remove the Second Captain indirectly so that one less objection towards the Tyranus could be mustered.

The tempest of paranoia swirled about within the ceramite helmet of Kunzhardt as the elevator slowly raised. He felt like he was being summoned by an ecclesiastic bastard fat with the coffers of his own office. The grinding of his fist raised to the point that it disturbed his thoughts and he remembered to what degree the Tech Marine had worked on his arm. It was of high quality and had laid many devastating blows to lay foes low and he could not discount the meticulous nature of the marine, but was it a service to him or to preserve the power fist / cybernetic arm so that it would be in pristine condition after he removed it from the second captain's corpse?

--"Brother Captain, come in, I have been expecting you."--

Heavy boots announced a presence with silence to accommodate it. He surveyed the room's trinkets again. He'd been in this room before and the sheer undisciplined nature of it struck him as ghastly. There seemed to be no discipline and it was in stark contrast to the borderline Spartan nature of his own domain it was hard to believe that the Primarch's seed sustained him and not some lesser Legion. . .

Cold eyes turned to Adruin directly now, studying the hive cluster of mechanical tentacles working and flicking about like a dance. He studied them trying to pattern how he might strike should it be required and how to try to time their counter strikes. One good swing with the power fist would be plenty. Even if the Tech-Marine couldn't see Kunzhardt through his helmet it was as though he could feel the daggers stared into him and turned to face the Captain of the Second and while it was well disguised a trained eye might notice it looked like the second captain had took an incredibly deep breath to try to calm himself before speaking.

---“Speak Brother, I assume this is not about your arm, as maintenance was not long ago, is there some service you need of me?”

"No brother. . . The arm performs as it was intended-thank you. The Warsmith has seen fit to gift you a mighty warmachine; it rightfully belongs to the Mechanized Fist. What are you doing with it?"

Adriun scratched his hair covered chin, "It rightfully belongs to the XIXth Brother, I think you know why it was gifted to me. My work guarantees that this single beast can be made into many more."

He took out his pistol and showed it to Kunzhardt,"Like this piece here," He turned and pressed a button on a data slate and the wall open up showing a dozen more identical pistols.

---"See, while I fully intend for the mechanized fist to make use of it, it makes much more sense to make sure it is more than one that can be made use of, I am sure you would rather be able to field ten than one, and the risk of losing this technology in battle is greater without this redundancy." He finished and the wall closed up.

---"Do not fret, I will grant you this boon in due time, as I would hope you would grant me something you thought would be better left in my care as well." He finished and proffered his hand, "Deal Brother?"

Within the helmet the captain of the second was scoffing at the young upstart of a Tech Marine who's life span he had doubled thus far. He had bore witness to countless worlds burning and titanic fleets in space coming to blows. His eyes had observed the Emperor, Perturabo, Horus himself! And this whelp!?

Kunzhardt seemingly growled before responding.

"You already have my debt, Adruin. . . I will be informed of receipt of any additional warmachines before taken into your care. Just ensure we have plenty of these. I itch for campaign and this incursion against wild dogs will not satiate for long.

That was about as close as Adruin would get to receiving true gratitude from the second captain. It was a show of weakness and Kunzhardt would never allow it but he appreciated the arm and the weaponry that Adruin supplied him. It was what allowed the Mechanized Fist to bring down the very sky upon those unlucky enough to fall within his cross-hairs.

With that the Second Captain retrieved the Forge Masters hand in his own massive power fist and shook, squeezing tight enough to shatter any mans hand into dust but for an Astartes it would likely just cause some discomfort. And with that he bowed his head slightly and marched from the room.
 

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Adriun knew he had disarmed the Second Captain's mood like one would disarm a bomb, he had cut away at the preconceptions like so many vital wires, He respected his Brother Captain and knew his move was also a political one and would further cement a very necessary camaraderie between his Mechanicus Sect and Kunzhardt's armored divisions.

During the whole confrontation he noticed his actions had somewhat shocked the easily angered captain, and maybe he would fins some new found respect for Forge Master, at least he hoped, he only desired to serve the Company, and that meant they need to be secure in loyalties to one another, it saddened him that something as trivial as birthplace and gene-seed could cause such friction. But his brother finished, and accepted the hand shake, though very strong he remained stoic and nodded to his Brother who departed, hopefully a friendship of some-sort would bloom from the enlightening exchange.

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He turned his full attention now to the large device before him, it’s functioning was no mystery to him, it was nearly identical to his side arm, aside from higher quality and larger components, he could already understand what would be necessary to replicate it. He continued his disassembling of the device and recorded in detail each of the parts and their function, soon his gift would be ready for manufacturing.

"Well now, it seems this is more alike to the Serpenta than I thought...Now then with this amount of output though the Magnetic fields would need to be five times standard strength to maintain the particle projection." He said to himself taking down notes.

He watched some monitors seeing the Captain of the Second had finally left, he wondered if he would be able to get him the Vehicles in time for a trial by fire. There was no room for doubt in his own abilities however and so he pushed the thought aside.

After a while he decided to contact the other teams to see if they had made desirable progress, they after all had the easier jobs than he had, he expected them to have a full catalog and already be in a testing phase to see about part production if they were to make his one week deadline.

He opened up the vox broadcast for the factorum, "Brothers and Mechanicus Comrades, I have made significant progress into the inner working of the Carronade's main firing components, and so I expect that the Teams have made even more progress than I”

“I expect a full report sent by Servo Skull within the next hour.” He finished and cut the signal.

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After the broadcast the teams, Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma, began to converse among themselves as the servitors continued their work. There were two Directors that oversaw the combined teams, Loakk was the Tech-Marine in charge of Alpha and Beta, and Furthuum the Tech-Marine in charge of Delta and Gamma.

Loakk was a tall and imposing Tech-Marine with an impressive bulk brought on by his Genetor/Biologis practices; He was the Right hand of Adriun. His Marines and Tech-Priests, to lowly Tech thralls all showed signs of physical enhancement to the flesh, typically having extra grafted musculature and fiber strengthened bone structures and enhanced sensory organs. Loakk himself wore modified Maximus power armor, that fit his extra muscled bulk, and his face was pale as his blood had been replaced with a synthetic hyper efficient replacement, his pupils were slits that noticed every detail and saw in more than one wave length. He had Mechadendrites like any of his station, but his cybernetics seemed sleeker and focused on preserving his flesh instead of replacing it.

He spoke to his team and dictated to a servo skull with a recorder,” The operation proceeds accordingly, the Barrel has been disassembled, and cataloged then reassembled and tested, we are working on attempting to duplicate it small scale now and once this is successful we may begin constructing templates for the factorum which will take a bulk of the time. That is all Master Adriun, Iron within, Iron without.” The rest of the team resounded the chant as well, and then returned to their task and ordering about the servitors.

In another part of the factorum, Brother Furthuum, the opposite to the other Operations Director in every way, Furthuum forgoes most flesh for Iron instead, being highly cybernetically enhanced, he is interred permanently in a massive modified Gorgon Pattern Terminator armor. He had many Mechadendrites, all oriented for manipulation and tool usage, and his Shoulders were capable of each mounting a heavy weapon of his choice as well as each arm having bracing to mount a heavy weapon as well, making him quite the weapons platform in combat, using dual power fists on those fortunate enough to not die at a distance, and on top of that he could mount a Cyclone Missile launcher as well.

He towered over his compatriots they as well deeming flesh weak in their appearance, His face armored and a single eye replaced by a large complex optical unit for precise aiming and precision work. The flesh left on his face tanned from work with welding, and being near plasma cutters with frequency, and his single eye red and judging.

He spouted binary at those with translators, and they responded in kind, this Man-that-was-machine was Adriun’s Loyal left hand. He then spoke for the others and to please Adriun who preferred High Gothic to machine language, though fluent in both.

“Delta and Gamma have successfully mapped the capacitors and main generators, they are similar to those used by the Shadow Sword, with some differences in function and capacity, we are ready to begin production phase, and it would only take slight modification to current templates to accurately reproduce the product.” He spoke in his machine tinted tone.

One of the Tech Priests released a Servo skull that was attached to its body with the message recorded, it hover back to their master. With that they returned to work.

-----------------------------------------------------

Adriun listened to both recordings and smiled pleased with his work and that of his team, he sent the Servo Skulls back and then proceeded to record his own message for Pelegon.

“Warsmith, Master Pelegon, I have cracked the FellGlaive's inner working with the assistance of my teams, We are working on bringing it into a Production phase so that it may be of use to the company, we will defer out product to Brother Captain Kunzhardt for his expertise and usage, I hope this pleases you.” He said to the recorder.

He paused, “Thank you as well for entrusting this task to me, I will not disappoint, and my final question in this matter is if I will need to manufacture tech thralls for this engagement, if not deemed necessary then I will coordinate with my armored and mechanized units to deploy as a strike force in the upcoming operation, I am positive with the Armored Fist and my Mechanicus units, our siege will be swift. Iron Within.” He finished and sent the Servo Skull to the Warsmith.

He went back to his work area and reassembled the Firing unit, and had a Crane come in through the ceiling, which opened up and then snatched the device away. Adriun the grabbed his Sheathed blade and attached it to his belt, then holstered his Serpenta as well, and left the room to go about to getting the factorum prepped for production, the longest part of the work for him.
 

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Perius Lay on the surgery table before him, a thin stream of blood flowing from his neck that wasn’t sealing up. That meant, it was deep. The Warrior was one of Kunzhardt’s, one of the Second Company. During one of their endless, perilous training regiments Perius had taken a bolt fragment to the side of his neck and was rushed to Lugerev’s care.

Pelegon always preached about numbers, and for good reason. It was an issue for nearly all of the remaining Traitor Legions. A failed rebellion, and several millenia of guerilla warfare had taken its toll on all their numbers. To lose an Astartes in a training accident was...deplorable.

Perius was not dead yet, though. Lugerev had put him to sleep so he could more easily search for the embedded fragment.

‘Kunzhardt might want to start making his mens’ training a bit more purposeful than this.’ Said Lugerev to one of the two Apothecaries assigned to 7th Company, who stood to the side of the room. His name was Tirgivil, and he was here to learn, today.

Both of the medical officers wore their unarmored garb, iron-gray, hoods down draped over their wide, strong shoulders.

Lugerev didn’t much feel like guessing as to how many patients he had received from Kunzhardt’s Company in any standard Terran cycle due to being in the Warp, but needless to say, it was a lot.

He stuck a syringe into Brother Perius’s neck. A solution to soften the flesh so he could cut it open easier. A second syringe, poked. This one at the edge of the wound; a solution to help the Larraman’s cells clog the bleeding.

There was a spread of small holes in the upper chest and collar bone area of Perius’s power armor. Something was wrong. Lugerev’s hands searched over the area, unable to manipulate the armor.

‘There’s another wound here, a second penetration they didn’t notice. One of these pockmarks goes all the way through.’

Tirgivil did not say anything in return. He knew it was not necessary.

Lugerev Looked into Perius’s numb, unconscious eyes. He grabbed the adamantium tipped saw off of the table next to him. He placed it carefully at the top edge of the armor’s collar bone and activated the tool suddenly realizing there might not be time to properly remove the armor. The jarring, screeching of metal on metal ensued. The gray earth around him constantly trembled. It shook beneath his feet. The noise was tremendous. For days, the noise had been tremendous.

His saw continued to bite into the iron hued war plate as lifeless suits of power armor dangled off the sides of corpse-mountains and fell, nudged off from the intense vibrations, dropping like worthless bugs. It looked as if these piles of dead had been dumped out from buckets. Yellow, black, iron, chevrons, and black mailed fists had never been so mixed together. Missiles screamed over top of him, and Lidecrus screamed into his face with all the spittle Lugerev could have ever asked for.

‘Where is it?’ yelled Lugerev at the top of his lungs, he had wrent the chest plate open, but could not tell where the bolt fragment had gone. Lidecrus’s whole chest was soaked in blood.

Lugerev’s hands waded through the blood over the hole. It was so large. It must have been the entire bolt round’s tip, shattered as it hit the reinforced ribcage.

‘Everywhere,’ whispered Lugerev, ‘Its everywhere.’

His fingers dug through the flesh, expertly plucking out piece after piece. Lidecrus grabbed hold of his wrist, pulling it down as he screamed in agony, calling out to Lugerev that he was dying.

‘Hold on my brother.’

Lidecrus’s eyes were stuck, locked on the piles of dead bodies surrounding them.

‘Just one more.’ the dying Marine practically whimpered.

Torrents of enormous caliber rounds from a fortified gun emplacement, ground an incoming squad of Imperial Fists into red dust and bits of armor plating. Apparently they had sighted him, and had made a for a run, hoping to kill the Apothecary.

Lidecrus’s life was fading in his hands, fast. Those hands were frantic now. He couldn't start trying to repair the flesh with pieces of burning metal still lodged inside.

He screamed back at the patient in frustration. He grabbed Lidecrus’s head in his blood covered hands, smearing the Marine’s ears red.

‘Stop dying! Stop losing blood! I can’t take it anymore, you bastard!’

He activated the saw on his narthecium, and plunged it into Lidecrus’s ribcage. If his brother had already been screaming in agony before, Lugerev had no idea what to call it now.

‘Where are you, you damn piece of Emperor-blessed metal. Where, are, you-’

‘Sir.’ A hand was on his shoulder. It was Tirgivil.

Lugerev looked down at Perius, and stopped his rotating saw blade. The Second Company warrior lay on the surgery table, dead, his ribcage cut open with organs bubbling out.

Lugerev felt sweat on his face. His twin hearts were beating with adrenaline. He stood up straight, collecting himself.

‘The wound was too deep. I will have to inform Captain Kunzhardt to decrease the pernicious nature of his training exercises.’

Tirgivil could see it in his master’s eyes, that he was utterly confused. After a moment of silence, Lugerev picked up the heavy, armored body. Tirgivil moved to help, taking one side.

‘Please clean the table, Tirgivil. Pelegon has summoned a council. I am already late due to Perius being brought to me.'

Tirgivil nodded.

Several minutes later, Lugerev had just transitioned from the Medicae Halls to the main tower of the Eisenschloss. He walked rather slowly, discovering he was not as late as he had thought.

‘Tik-tok. Tik...tok. Tik-tok tik...tok. Always, always. Always. Tik-tok, tik, tok, tik-tok. Slower...Tik, tok, tik, tok’ he was saying to himself, as he rounded a corner and found the verdigris-eyed twins, Iapetus and Coues, deep in conversation in one of the open spaced, adjacent chambers to the corridor.

He looked at them for a moment, and decided not to interrupt, passing them by. He knew they would be following him soon enough. Truth be told, not long after, all three of them stood at their places around the fourteen sided, polished steel table. While the Warsmith spoke, Lugerev stared down into his hazy reflection. He watched as it moved, side to side. Though his eyes were lost to this oddity, his ears were open, absorbing the details. A few times though, his eyes wandered up to the stern, emotionless face of the Second Captain, who's eyes never veered from their Leader.

Space Wolves. Maybe he’d get to kill a few. That wasn’t going to be his primary objective though, naturally.

The mission sounded simple enough. An easy target. Some sugary prey to vent their Warp crazed appetites. All but two and himself were dismissed. Massive, armored bodies slid past his robed form. Now at the lonely side of the table, he looked up towards Pelegon as he continued with further information regarding a Strike Cruiser. The Fist of Russ, he mused, sounds like a ship that will be around for a while. Being that it’s named after one of Russ’s hands, I bet, that’s where it will stay.

Ah, he thought, as he finally heard his objective. There it is. And he shuddered at it. Lizard geneseed? Disgusting. Red eyed, burnt, radioactive freaks.

“Are there any questions?’ Asked Pelegon.

A short pause, in which Lugerev looked to the Seventh Captain, now separate from his psyker brother. He liked Iapetus. He had given him a means off of Terra. Lugerev had been assisting the Sixth Company, The Company his roots were in, which had nearly perished on the Throne world. With all hope for escape thought lost, Iapetus descended through the smoke and smog, with a lowered ramp, and an open palm.

Suddenly the other figure in the room spoke up, rather loud. Clad in black, this individual stepped around the table a bit in order to come closer to the Warsmith. He dismissed Iapetus’s role with hardly a thought, and laid out his requests for some kind of plan.

Baffled, perplexed, puzzled. Lugerev’s eyes and brow were in the shape of dire concern. Disgust, even.

He raised his arms out wide, looking back and forth between Pelegon and Iapetus as if to ask: Am I the only one seeing this?

When neither of the two seemed to know how to respond, Lugerev voiced the question instead.

‘Who is that?’ He paused looking at the individual further, squinting his eyes now, jaw dropped.

‘Is that...is that seriously one of the Lion’s pristine little maggots?

Lugerev drew his blade from beneath his robes.
 

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Iapetus was inspecting the Wandering King, twelve-kilometres of iron, cannons and battlements, of sprawling city-scapes and cavernous hangers, when news of Pelegon's summoning reached him. He nodded, appreciatively, to the thrall who had brought the news, and immediately set off to the primary hanger. His Stormbird was already awaiting, glinting in the lights, engines idling. Iapetus was aboard, and approaching Medrengard, in a matter of minutes. He stood, in darkness, contemplating. This meant one thing - War.

The transport banked down, through poisonous clouds, and flew over Medrengard's barren, rocky plains. It flew low, kicking up storms of dust and grit, gaining speed, faster and faster, until the fortress of the XIXth loomed ahead, a twisted, gnarled finger.

The Stormbird landed, engines settling down with a whine. Iapetus awaited in the hatchway, still as a statue, as the ramp lowered. There, framed in coils of mist and smoke, was the Seer. He wore robes, grey and roughspun, the Inquisitorial Rosette dangling from his neck on a beaded chain. He carried his axe and the Iron Grimoire, the Librarian's tome, hung heavily from his hip.

'Brother,' Iapetus said, descending the ramp. 'It is good to see you.'

'Brother,' Coeus called back, embracing Iapetus. In his Terminator Armour, the Shipwright dwarfed his twin. 'It is good to see you too. How fairs the Seventh?'

Iapetus stepped back, clasping Coeus' hands between his gauntlets. One thought, one muscle-twitch, and he could crush the bones to dust. 'They are well,' He said, smiling. 'A well-oiled cog,' His voice dropped. 'In a rusted machine,' He looked around, surveying the hanger. Mostly empty; save for a dozen Stormbirds and Thunderhawks and their attendants. 'And your witches?'

Iapetus and Coeus began to walk, towards Pelegon's war-room. The fortress was quiet, unusually so.

'My Librarians serve me well, mostly,' Coeus said, as they turned down a long, quiet hallway. 'They brought one to me, a man called Bronsk, to be tried. Interesting, they also brought me Rorke from the Second.'

'Bronsk?' Iapetus said, raising an eyebrow. He knew the Marine - A veteran of the Crusade, of good, albeit low-born, Olympian stock. 'I know him. One of us,' Coeus knew what that meant. 'This other - Rorke? - One of Kunzhardt's lot,' Iapetus shook his head. 'He matters not.'

+His sin is minor enough. Possessing contraband from what I could hot read. I’m sure he’ll be fine.+ Coeus transmitted, directly into Iapetus's head. To some, this was a grievous invasion of privacy, bringing nosebleeds and migraines. To Iapetus, this was simply the norm.

'Kunzhardt's is certainly problematic. Some sort of infection. Perhaps I will have to investigate them closer,' The Seer continued, manipulating Iapetus's mind. There was a perverse pleasure to Coeus, like a serpent regarding a rodent, as he spoke of Rorke.

'Are there others? Among the Second?' Iapetus asked, his voice growing cold. He smiled hungrily. 'Of course there are others. A formal investigation will have to be launched, will it not, brother?'

It was not a question. 'And Kunzhardt? How could he have missed such a terrible thing - He should be charged with incompetence at best.'

'Well, we can hardly expect a half-born to do much better than stammering impotence. You remember how Gneous fell?' Coeus laughed, a harsh, biting sound. 'It’s always the half-born.'

'They are unworthy at best. Worse, still, is that bastard Night Lord,' Iapetus grunted. The Tyranthikos were his, now. Iapetus remembered Krotas, and fondly at that. The Night Lord had ruled longer, twisting the Tyranthikos into his own butchers, much to the chagrin of Iapetus, Coeus and the Olympian faction. 'Where has our glory, our pride, gone?'

He raised a hand, clenching it into a fist. 'They stain us, this mongrel-breed. Blood, so pure, so glittering, has blackened and congealed. But we serve, brother, and faithfully. More faithful than the Night Lord, or the bastard-born, ever could.'

'Tyranus,' Coeus spat, his saliva eating away at the floor. 'Peace, brother,' He said, stepping into a dim, narrow hallway. +We will purge them from our proud Legion,+ He continued, with his mind's-voice. 'Let us not focus on what has been, but on what is to come,'

Iapetus nodded, listening. +Their reckoning will come and we will cast them down and grind them to dust under the hammer of Olympia+ The Seer continued, and Iapetus could feel his mind throb. Even he, so accustomed to the witchery of his brother, felt the touch of the warp. 'These half-breeds will have their day,' and then, another switch, into his mind. +And their end is neigh. We will see to that my brother,+

'And we will be mighty, loyal and pure iron once more,' There was a brief pause, as Lugerev, the Chief Apothecary, marched past. Iapetus looked at him from downcast eyes. They were friends, Iapetus having saved the Apothecary and his forces at Terra, and shared similar opinions. The Iron Warriors were Olympian, and always would be. Coeus caught it, too, and quickly spoke. 'Do you know how Lugerev fares these recent days? I heard one of your Apothecaries was at his side, but I’ve not been able to check on our troubled friend.'

Iapetus sighed. 'Tirgivil, yes,' The Shipmaster said, watching Lugerev enter Pelegon's war-chambers. 'He reports to me, on times. He is Lugerev's pet, that I know, but he is a true Iron Warrior,' He pursed his lips. 'He fears for Lugerev, as do I. Has Lugerev grown worse, Coeus, or has he always been so mad?'

He stepped towards the war-chamber. 'If we watch his back, he shall watch ours. Lugerev is an Olympian, a friend, Coeus. We need him and his Apothecaries, so does the Grand Company. So long as Tirgivil warns me, I will look after him. I only ask the same of you, brother.'

'I have not grown so old yet that I struggle to distinguish friend from foe, Iapetus,' Coeus said, angrily. Iapetus stepped back, raising his hands, and grinned. 'I just wondered if Tirgivil had seen any marked change lately. As I said, I have been otherwise engaged,' The doors loomed ahead, now. Inside, Iapetus could make out figures, armoured in iron, standing stock-still. 'Rest assured, I will watch over him as surely as I watch over you.'

Coeus entered first, taking a place around the quadradecagonal table, a position for every senior officer. Iapetus stepped besides him, between the Seer and the Mad Apothecary. Pelegon dwarfed them all, a monstrosity of flesh, blood and metal. Iapetus stared at him, as he spoke, with a tight mouth. Something isn't right, he thought, as the briefing continued. This world, the presence of the Wolves, felt strange.

Stranger still, as when Lugerev, Lucian and Iapetus were told to remain behind. Pelegon's motley brotherhood filed out, Iapetus grasping his brother's hand, and then turned his attentions back to the Warsmith. More information flowed forth, concerning a lone cruiser, the Fist of Russ.

'Are there any questions?' Pelegon asked, in that deep, rumbling voice of his.

Lucian, the Dark Angel, quickly wrote off Iapetus. The Shipwright narrowed his eyes, green, poisonous slits, and curled his lips.

'Who is that?' Lugerev sneered. Iapetus snorted, biting back a laugh, and shrugged - No easy task in Terminator Armour.

When he drew his blade, the Shipwright was forced into action.

'Lugerev, brother,' He said, raising a hand. He pushed down the weapon with his fingertips. 'Lucian wears the garb of Caliban,' And, so he did, in his black plate and stained robes. He looks like a robber-knight, Iapetus reflected. 'But his hearts are iron,' That was a bitter lie. It almost burnt his tongue to utter it.

'How many ships have you taken, Captain?' He asked, turning his attentions to the Dark Angel. 'A dozen, two? I have taken hundreds. I have built ships, I have repaired ships, I have destroyed ships. And I, and my Company, will be of no use?'

He snorted again.

'Wolves do not hunt alone,' He said, to Pelegon. 'I suspect a trap, Warsmith,' He paused, thinking. 'I'll draw the vessel away, with the Wandering King and Lonesome Queen, and disable her. Whatever damage is dealt, and damage will be dealt, I will personally oversee the reconstruction and recommissioning.'

He waved a hand, dismissively, in Lucian's direction. 'If the Angel is so hungry for glory, if he strains at the leashes so needlessly, he may have the honour of boarding, and capturing the ship. I ask only one thing - He defers to my authority. The right tool needs to be applied, here. And I'm afraid,' He mocked. 'A needle can only prick.'
 

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Lucian turns to regard the apocathery with his red helmet lens as he begins to draw his blade as Lucian's own right hand slides up to his shoulder and grips the hilt of one of his blade but releases it when the Seventh Captain intervenes. Standing there listening Lucian watches his fellow captain and the Primus Medicae as the Seventh Captain speaks of him wearing the garb on Caliban.

Shaking his head he looks at Pelegon before turning his gaze back to the 'Shipwright'. "I wear the garb best suited to stealth Captain Iapetus hence the colour of my armour and my robes." Lucian steps forward one and fixes his gaze with Iapetus's own as he listens to the Seventh Captain speak of himself and that he and his company would best be suited for the job of taking the ship. "Captain Iapetus this task that the Warsmith has set out requires subtlety and you and your company are about as subtle as World Eaters when it comes to battle."

"As soon as you lead the Wolves away and begin attacking them then they themselves will send out a call to reinforcements even if they dont the call will still go out alerting others that there are Iron Warriors in the region giving the world we are going to take even more time to prepare for an invasion."

Lucian steps forward again to stand chest plate to chestplate with Iapetus as he meets his gaze with his own. "No, you would be best employed taking your ships and entering orbit and doing what I know the Fourth Legion are perhaps the best at: Precision Orbital Bombardment, which you can use as cover to get the rest of the Grand Company planet side. If this mission required your 'technique' then there was no need for myself to be included to stay behind as any of the other captains would easily be able to simply blow holes in the ship and then repair them at a later date. Your plan will also include casualties and loses in resources while my plan will ensure that we sustain minimal loses."

Lucian turns away from Iapetus to look at the Warsmith. "The decision however is not ours Iapetus, it is the Warsmiths and as such I abide by your decision Warsmith Pelegon." Lucian bows his head to Pelegon.
 

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Sitting in atop the Dais in within the Keep of the First Tyranus loomed over the proceedings around him, he awaited word from his Lieutenant Xareth that all preparations had been made for their battle barge The Iron Tyrant and as he waited word of something most interesting reached his ears. The message had been delivered from a Brother who stood in the shadows, his power armor, from what could be seen was mundane and refrained from the flourishes and braggadocious nature that the various war plates of the First now typically held. The warrior though was one that had no problem lurking in shadows, blending in plain sight and the kindred bond that Tyranus shared with him was that both had come gene stock other than that of the Iron Warriors. And so, rather than try to remake the man, Tyranus used him as he was, and Draxus flourished in his role. While he had a suit of Cataphractii that was his right to wear when on campaign, typically Draxus meandered about the Eisenschloss and its accompanying structures, simply picking up on any rumor that circulated and relaying it to his Lord.

"Corruption, or so they say, has potentially taken root within the 2nd, supposedly a Brother named Rorke" Draxus seemed to drag out his delivery, to the annoyance of Tyranus. He indicated as such with his questioning tilt of his head and a sweeping gesture with his right hand imploring the marine to continue, or continue to drag it out as his own peril. "Having overheard it from several within the Apothecarion-" Tyranus cut him off quickly at mention of the Apothecarion, "Did Lugerev see you?" his scowl only intensified as he continued his line of questioning, "Were you identified by your HUD link?" There was a real threat now of physical violence in the tone of Tyranus. Draxus of course did not disappoint, "No my Lord, Lugerev was at the summons with you and as we are preparing for war the Apothecarion is quite overrun with Battle Brothers seeking final confirmations of their readiness for war. To your second question, my next 'stop' was to the armory to see to it that my HUD and link systems were repaired as they do not function currently. When asked I merely said I was 'with the reserve company', they did not even bother to ask which one, so inundated were they with Battle Brothers seeking clearance to go to war on our new campaign." Draxus had taken all the steps necessary to remain unseen and that satisifed Tyranus enough. "Additonally my Lord, A Librarian named Bronsk seems to have been found in possession of occult materials, but that is mere speculation I have heard, I cannot be sure if that information is accurate. All the same, if there is one corrupted, there are likely others."

Tyranus held up his right hand, indicating to Draxus that he did not seek to hear his theories about what any of this information meant. "Draxus, you will rejoin your 10th Squad, I'm sure Sergeant Nelios will be glad of your return and his squad's return to full strength."

Draxus exited and Tyranus quickly brought up his vox comm, he had matter to address with the Third Captain. His encrypted vox link confirmed he spoke, his low, bass ridden voice carrying with it a level of enthusiasm and flattery he rarely utilized. "Brother Captain Lucian, the Third is most welcome on this campaign!" the flattery left a taste of too much butter slathered on too thin piece of bread for it was not Tyranus' typical mood to be so amicable, though he tried admirably to hide it from his tone and facial expressions.

"I do not know what endeavor you and your Third Company are to be sent on, but know that if you require additional fire support that I would lend to you a small retinue of my Tyranthikos to fight alongside your Company." The niceties were simple enough to read through, Tyranus wanted to know what was going on and sought to have some small hand in the glory of whatever secretive plan was underway. Whether the Third Captain would humor him he doubted, but he had an amiable enough history with Lucian that he did not see it as out of the question.

Lucian's reply was taciturn in regards to his mood, "First Captain Tyranus, while the offer of aid is appreciated the Third Company itself will not be deploying on the planet as our task will be carrying us elsewhere to deal with a problem far more suited to Third. As such your warriors will not be needed something which I have already told the Seventh Captain as the mission I have been given requires stealth and espionage of the highest degree and I'm afraid to say that all other companies lack such qualities."

Tyranus saw that they were both outcast to an extent among the senior officers as they were not of the contingent of the XIXth that carried "pure" gene stock of the Iron Warriors, solemn as their oaths to the Great Company and the Legion may be. As such they were potential allies of circumstance, or just as likely Captains who would eventually have to fight private wars against those who conspired to 'purify' the ranks of the XIXth. He noted that Lucian had denied The 7th a place in his mission, likely appealing to the WarSmith to have the 7th to take another assignment as necessary.

"Very well Brother Captain Lucian, of course I understand and respect the specialized nature of your mission and will ask no further of its content. However, I would ask only that you be wary around Lugerev and the Seventh, they do not see the true value in the work you do and may look to undermine you. If you should have need of myself or my Tyranthikos, do not hesistate Brother Lucian. Glory to the Shadowed."

There was a moment of silence as Lucian thought over the words of his Brother Captain, Tyranus, knowing the nature of Lucian was not surprised as the crackle and static of the cut off vox fizzled before he too closed the channel. His Brother Captain had given him some valuable snippets of information, but they were indeed just scraps, pieces, the nature of Captain Lucian interested Tyranus in that it was very much akin to how he had operated a lifetime ago.

"We are assembled as per your orders Lord," the heavily digitized voice came from the vox-grille of the most senior of his Honor Guard, the seven that would ride with him in his Crusader pattern Land Raider when they attacked Pelexis III were in front of him. He rose to his feet and though he was at best the same height as the Honor Guard around him he dwarfed them in sheer size and intimidation, his customized Cataphractii plate easily larger than those of his warriors, he held the HUD linked storm bolter and shoulder mounted frag launcher lent to the appearance of a walking tank. "You shall accompany me to the domain of the 2nd, I would speak with Captain Kunzhardt about our newest campaign."
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Disembarking from the Crusader dubbed Exterminatore Tyranus was at the head of a cadre of his own personal honor guard, warriors who did not technically belong to a squad within the First, they answered directly to the First Captain, ever watchful over their lord, their right pauldrons glistened in worn and aged gold signifying their station as sworn guardians to Tyranus. They entered the massive Hangar that housed the training exercises of the 2nd Company. This day he was accompanied by seven, these men made up a core component of his command squad, the other was lead by his Lieutenant Xareth and his first squad.

They were not here for conflict and as such their weapons were at this moment not powered and all had their storm bolters securely mag locked to their waists, however in what could only be described as hostile territory they were on high alert, their heads moving with a level of hyper awareness, scoping every possible angle for any sign of hostility.

Tyranus spoke to the first veteran of 2nd Company he saw, his retinue of Seven formed around him so as to protect him from all sides. "I would have words with Captain Kunzhardt," The Veteran gave a look that revealed how unsure he was of what to do. The Veteran clearly knew that Kunzhardt was not overly fond of Tyranus, and must have wondered if this incursion into their training grounds was to be interpreted as an act of aggression or challenge. "I wish to speak with the Mechanized Fist about how we might best crush our adversaries underfoot in our newest campaign."
 

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My legs were crossed but no part of me touched the floor. My mental powers kept me suspended, but that was less than a background thought. What was important was the deck of psychoactive cards that circled him. His mind moved them facing outwards, random paths and random directions. This tarot was a way that the servants of the False Emperor scry the future. They wouldn’t cast their souls into the warp like I would, but it was interesting to hear what their best voices would offer me.

I turned over the card in front of me. A sword. War. Pelegon would ask for him soon then. Next was a glaring wound. Opening like a maw. No wait, that wasn’t right I realised. It was an eye. It was an evil eye that burnt but offered no warmth. I felt a chill run up my spine at meeting its hateful glare. Was this a portent that the servants of Imperium would quake at, or was it a sign of infighting for the Grand Company. The room disappeared from around me and I soared into the Immaterium, searching for the truth. A burning world, the howl of wolves, the separating of flesh and spirit. I drank the emotional tides in, and caught a close approaching wave. Someone approached.

My eyes flung open and I opened the tumblers on my chamber doors. A serf, Borigan from hot-reading his thoughts, stood with his fist raised about to knock. “My lord…” he began.
“I am called to war?” I said, already sure of the answer.
“Yes, but there is another matter I thought you’d like to know.” Borigan continued, no doubt wondering why he bothered to inform a man who wore the title The Seer.
“Oh?” I said, collecting all the cards into a single deck which fell neatly to the floor. I uncrossed my legs, standing at my full height with my robes falling flat against my skin.
“Captain Iapetus will be arriving soon. Hanger 6.” I picked up the Iron Grimoire and Eternal Schism, strapping one to either hip.
“Thank you Borigan.” I said making my way past the serf.

I was about to walk out without pause, but a sight stopped me. Two men were shackled. One I recognised, for he was one of mine, Librarian Bronsk. As well as the physical shackles, he was bound with a psycho-dampening collar. How solemn it would be for a man who had always heard the voice of the warp whisper to him to suddenly separated from his constant companion. My mind quested, why was he bound? Possession of sorcerous tomes, contraband. I kept my face impassive, but chuckled to myself. The other, who was he. A hot-read told me his name was Rorke and he was from the 2nd company, but I didn’t need to look for his crime. A steadily weeping collection of abscesses marked his forearm. They were my problems and my duties to deal with, but at a later date. After I had seen my brother.

I walked into hanger 6 to find myself surprisingly alone, except for the lobotomised servitors who scuttled around guided by whatever machine-code that was running through their simple brains. My robes began to billow as one of the 7th’s Stormbird’s landed, but I didn’t move. The exhaust fumes caressed my robes until the engines finally died and the entrance ramp lowered. My larger twin stood, his form accentuated by his Tauros Pattern Armour and no less lethal for the lack of weapons. 'Brother,' Iapetus said, descending the ramp. 'It is good to see you.'
“Brother…” I said opening my arms to embrace a man to whom may greeting was far more than a mere formality. “…it is good to see you too. How fairs the 7th?”

Iapetus stepped back, clasping Coeus' hands between his gauntlets. One thought, one muscle-twitch, and he could crush the bones to dust.
“They are well.” He said, smiling. “A well-oiled cog…” His voice dropped and took on a harsh tone “…in a rusted machine.” Iapetus surveyed the hanger, perhaps looking for some intruder “And your witches?” The way he spoke about my charges was harsh, but not like the others. They spoke with a tone of derision that I hated, although I had long since grown accustomed to their ignorant mutterings. Iapetus’s term was born from familiarity, not contempt. The ramp to his Stormbird closed behind us as we began to walk towards our master’s chambers. “My librarian’s serve me well, mostly. They brought one to me, a man called Bronsk, to be tried. Interesting, they also brought me Rorke from the 2nd.” I left an empty space for Iapetus to comment, he would no doubt have something to say about the half-born’s bastard son.

“Bronsk?” Iapetus said, raising an eyebrow. We had known Bronsk for a while, a low born Olympian, but one of the true IVth Legionnaires. “One of us” I knew what my brother meant by that. I had to spare him. I pressed my consciousness onto his, something he was familiar with by now. It was the only sure way to know we would not be heard. *His sin is minor enough. Possessing contraband from what I could hot read. I’m sure he’ll be fine.* Of course he would, I held his life in my hand. He was still worth interrogating though, to find out what he knew.

I switched back to my audible voice “Kunzhurdt’s is certainly problematic. Some sort of infection. Perhaps I will have to investigate them closer.” My face remained fixed but Iapetus would have felt the wave of pleasure I sent him.
“Are there others? Among the Second?” Iapetus asked, his voice growing cold. He smiled, a knowing and sinister smile “Of course there are others. A formal investigation will have to be launched, will it not, brother?” It was not a question, but I could have launched one with less evidence. “And Kunzhardt? How could he have missed such a terrible thing - He should be charged with incompetence at best.”

I felt my curled lip turn into a smile briefly. It would do me good to see the Gorgon-spawn feel the icy breath of the Librarium down his neck. “Well, we can hardly expect a half-born to do much better than stammering impotence. You remember how Gneous fell?” I referred to my Ultramar born predecessor, and laughed unkindly. We knew the truth of his demise. “It’s always the half-born.” I tutted, making no attempt to hide my disgust.

“They are unworthy at best. Worse, still, is that bastard Night Lord,” Iapetus grunted. “Tyranus, bah.” I spat and left my saliva to burn a hole in the iron floor. He would always be Tyberus. The warp still sung his true name and the smell of his former brothers clung to him like the stench of a rotting corpse. Nothing could wash that off him.
“Where has our glory, our pride, gone?” He raised a hand, clenching it into a fist. “They stain us, this mongrel-breed. Blood, so pure, so glittering, has blackened and congealed. But we serve, brother, and faithfully. More faithful than the Night Lord, or the bastard-born, ever could.”

We were almost at the meeting hall now, ahead of the others, but we were not done. I walked down an adjacent corridor, pulling my brother aside. “Peace brother…”
*…we will purge them from our proud legion…*
“…let us not focus on what has been, but on what is to come…”
*…their reckoning will come and we will cast them down and grind them to dust under the hammer of Olympia…*
“…these half-breeds will have their day…”
*…and their end is neigh. We will see to that my brother…*
“…and we will be mighty, loyal and pure iron once more.” I spoke with two voices. Most regarded us as prejudiced relics, and secure conversations helped maintain that illusion of benign disgust.

I smoothed a crease from my robe and saw the Primus Medicae walk past. All the players were being summoned. “Do you know how Lugerev fairs these recent days? I heard one of your Apothecaries was at his side, but I’ve not been able to check on our troubled friend.” Iapetus sighed.
“Tirgivil, yes, he reports to me, on times. He is Lugerev's pet, that I know, but he is a true Iron Warrior,” He pursed his lips. “He fears for Lugerev, as do I. Has Lugerev grown worse, Coeus, or has he always been so mad?” He stepped towards the war-chamber. “If we watch his back, he shall watch ours. Lugerev is an Olympian, a friend, Coeus. We need him and his Apothecaries, so does the Grand Company. So long as Tirgivil warns me, I will look after him. I only ask the same of you, brother.”

I ran my tongue over my teeth, a habit when I am thinking about what to say. “I have not grown so old yet that I struggle to distinguish friend from foe, Iapetus...” I retorted with more than a little venom. “…I just wondered if Tirgivil had seen any marked change lately. As I said, I have been otherwise engaged.” Iapetus knew better than to pry into exactly what had consumed my time, especially given the lion’s den they were about to enter. “Rest assured, I will watch over him as surely as I watch over you.” With that we entered into this war council, infected as it was with those gene-seed abortions and deserters they were forced to fraternise with.

I took my place, two seats removed from our ally Lugerev. Iapetus sat between the two of us. I only half listened to the briefing, but then I was used to devoting half my attention to various things and taking it all in. If the other Astartes round this table had heightened senses, mine was on another plane of existence. As I listened to Pelegon I stroked each of their minds. Tyberus’ was a hot bed of rage and arrogance. Entirely misplaced. The Gorgon-spawn’s mind was a strange cocktail of joy and anger. Lucian tried to hide from him, but his title was the only thing deceptive about him. He was open before me whenever the pleasure took me. None of them knew, I wasn’t reaching deep enough into their minds to raise attention to myself.

The only being in this room who could resist my probing was the one who spoke. Only once had I ever managed to gain entrance to his mind, and that was when he had allowed me to erase my own name from his memories. I wondered if he knew he held me out, or it was just a natural thing he did without noticing. If Pelegon ever fell, I would take him for myself and break his mind open and gorge myself on his memories. We were to be killing the Space Wolves. The howling of wolves as the world around them burnt. Whilst blood-letting was always enjoyable, killing for killing’s sake seemed a frivolous waste of resources. However, before he got to the point of this mission, Pelegon concluded the briefing. Curious. Iapetus was asked to stay, along with Lugerev and the orphaned Dark Angel.

Iapetus grabbed my hand before I left. *I’ll be watching* I promised him, leaving a portion of my consciousness resting in his mind. Many struggled with another active presence in their mind, so I would simply observe unless my brother asked. At least I would know what the Warsmith was keen to hide from the rest of us. While my allies put this half-breed in his place, I had two prisoners to attend to. The warriors of the Eisenloss parted before me like water. Some sneered as me and I burst the blood vessels in their noses or eyes, depending on my fancy. Some bowed respectfully whilst others just moved out of my way.

As I reached the Librarium, I heard the quiet echo in my mind from the ‘private’ meeting of Lucian asking for me by denying my brother his right as Shipwright. Fool. Iapetus would feel that sentiment, but they would be in accord. “You will bring Rorke to my study.” I said as I moved towards my chambers. The shuffling grating of iron chains followed me whilst my mind resounded with the sound of metal on metal as weapons came out of their sheaths. “Leave us.” I spoke and the men who had forced Brother Rorke into my study left, shutting the door behind them.

“My lord, I swear…” the man began to frantically plead. He knew my reputation to not suffer fools or corruption. I paced him, searching his mind with none of the subtlety I had exerted earlier. These were scalpels, cutting away at memories and secret thoughts. “…I am not a servant of the Dark Gods. I would rather die than worship at their feet. I…”
“You will be silent Rorke.” My voice was empowered by warp and forced his mouth to dry up. I tore the corner of a blank page off and dipped it into his sores. The papyrus immolated in my hand and the black smoke screamed with a daemonic face in the short-lived flame. Rorke’s eyes were wide with horror.

At last, I stopped facing and stood in front of the man under Kunzhurdt’s command. “I know you don’t worship the Dark Gods, but sadly, they seemed to have taken notice of you regardless.” Slowly, Eternal Schism came into my hand. The signals etched into it burnt brighter. “You have been judged, and you have been found wanting.” Telekinetically, I etched the symbol of the Librarium into Rorke’s forhead. Smoothly, the axe-head separated the man’s head from his body. Normally that would be enough, but if this was a Nurglite infection as I suspected, the body needed to be thoroughly cleansed. Fire poured from my fingertips and engulfed the body. With a thought, the door flew open and several serfs rushed in to clear the room of the smouldering remains.

“Borigan.” My voice boomed harshly. The serf rushed in and performed a hurried bow. “Take the head of Brother Rorke here to Captain Kunzhurdt. Inform him that I will be speaking to the Warsmith in due course about the investigation of his company. He has until then to purge and heretics and fanatics from his midst. After that, his company is to be judge by the Librarium.”
“Of course my lord Coeus.” The serf left to do the business I had bid him, and I had another prisoner to interrogate.
“Bring in Librarian Bronsk.” I said as I listened to my brother tear the Caliban heathen apart. Things were getting tense in there, and the results of my investigation thus far gave me ample cause to disturb a meeting I may as well have already been in.

Two Librarian’s flanked Bronsk as he was shuffled into my now cramped chambers. One of them presented me with the materials he was found with. As before I bade them to leave us and as before they did. I turned the books over in my hands. Most were slender, but I could feel the weight of the secrets they held. I stared the Librarian down with my serpentine glare.
“My lord, you know I do not serve the Changer of Ways.”
“Why not?” I asked, an air of mischief about me. Bronsk seemed stunned. He began to stammer. “I mean, why wouldn’t you? The god of all magic in the galaxy and you aren’t at least tempted to bend a knee just to sip from his cup?” Bronsk hardened his face.
“No.” he said resolutely. I nodded for a moment.
“Liar.”

With that, a spear of thought drove into the Librarian’s mind. It pierced to the very core of him, where the darkest secrets were held. “I know you are lying…” I said as I tore down mental fortresses and uprooted the worst parts of the man. “…because I feel that temptation too. I feel the draw of power calling me, asking for just an inch of compromise in exchange…”
“I will not yield!” Bronsk screeched. I stopped my mental onslaught for a moment. The man showed me the memory himself. A young Librarian haunted by mocking voices on a battlefield far from home. Playing on his paranoid. A great winged beast, taunting him. It was an obsession, but not the black kind. Bronsk needed a vendetta fulfilled and had resorted to forbidden tomes to break the hold a daemon had over him. It offered him power even as Bronsk tried to destroy it. He was tempted and he was ashamed.

But he was not tainted, at least no more than I or any other member of our order was. We all needed our weapons. “You will be demoted to a Lexicanum. I cannot have the weak leading the strong. Until you have overcome this daemon you will shadow Librarian Kolvax. He will notify me of your success or death.” With that, I unlocked the many chains that bound him. Had he been of impure stock, I would have dealt with him as I did Rorke, but he was my own and I would not abandon him. He was not broken yet, and this may only be his tempering. “Dismissed.”

My official duties attended to I spread my arms out wide. If I was going to disturb the Warsmith’s little council I would do so ready for war. Besides, Kunzhurdt would likely come looking for me after word reached him of his guilt. My monastic robes peeled off of me and my armour started to be drawn to me as if I were a new star being born. Usually serfs would dress their senior captains but I needed no such help. It took moments to slot everything into place and secure the Iron Grimoire to my shoulder and Eternal Schism to my hip. Now armed and armoured, I strode quickly back towards the meeting chambers of my current Warsmith.

The doors opened before me and I withdrew my splinter of consciousness from my brother’s mind. I didn’t need it now I was there myself. Lucian had just finished prattling about deferring judgement to Pelegon without even revealing his ‘grand plan’. Plucking it from just below his surface thoughts, it was hard to understand why he was so embarrassingly proud of it. It was foolish and Iapetus was right to dismiss it out of hand, even though he hadn’t heard it. “My Lord I thought it best to inform you directly of the results of my investigation. Unless I’m interrupting a meeting where I am not required?” Lucian, and possibly the Warsmith, would be irked by this intrusion. However, with a possible infestation of Chaos worship up my sleeve and Lucian’s express mention of me, I would be very surprised if I was sent away…
 

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Pelegon firmly believed in a little sibling rivalry, but it was a tool that required careful and timely usage. Like a cinder, it had to be carefully tended to in order to burn bright, and right now the Warsmith had blown strongly enough onto it to give the heat that he wanted. It was merely a matter of ensuring that the fire didn't grow large enough to hurt him. The captains destroying each other would be a step too far.

The Warsmith enjoyed watching them sniping at each other, though both presented valid points. He had a good idea as to what Lucian would do with the materials he had requested, and if it was as he assumed, it was a solid plan. Pelegon was pleased with his third captain for forming a fairly comprehensive plan so quickly, but he would have expected nothing less. The seventh captain's assurances and reservations were also well-judged, given the lack of information that he had furnished them with so far.

When Lugerev drew his weapon, Pelegon did not move an inch, remaining as statuesque as he had been throughout the discourse. In his mind, he egged Lugerev on, urging him to swing at either him or Lucian. Had the Medicae done so, it would have been his last act; Pelegon would have crushed his skull between his fingers, helmet and all, and that way rid himself of another problem. Had the medicae assaulted Lucian...the Warsmith was not a gambling man, given as he was to stacking the odds in his favour, never playing them, but he would have been more comfortable wagering on Lucian than Lugerev. The First Legion, whatever his fellows thought of them, could not be found wanting with regard to their bladework. A pity that origins mattered so much to some.

"A trap, Shipwright?" Pelegon rumbled "they expect nothing, and know even less. Likewise, Lucian..." the Warsmith turned, and made long, slow strides for the door, patting the third captain's pauldron as he did so, noting how the other marine flinched from his touch "...I am aware that they will send a distress signal..."

The doors slid open and Coeus made an entrance, informing Pelegon that his investigation was concluded. The Warsmith paused; the Epistolary would not have interrupted him unless the matter was of at least some import, and that was enough. Regardless of how busy he was, the Warsmith made a point of always having time for his cabal of psykers.

"...indeed, I was counting on it. After all, how else will the rest of the Imperium know what we will have done on Pelexis? They will come and see our work"

The Warsmith turned to face them as he stood in the doorway, his huge frame filling it out, barely large enough for him not to have to stoop or angle himself sideways. His armour was as grey and metallic as the surroundings, the black and yellow hazard stripes on his shoulders making them seem even larger than they were. But contrasted against the light of the corridor, Pelegon appeared as a black silhouette with glowing blue slits for eyes.

"If I cared about the means, then I would have overseen the assault myself. As it is, only the end matters to me. Had I thought one captain sufficient to complete this task to satisfaction, then I would not have given it to the pair of you. Consider that before trying to assume command again. Coeus, with me"

Punching his left hand into the palm of his right, the Warsmith took his leave. Being out of the same room as Iapetus, despite having Coeus tagging at his heels, helped him remain calm; the siblings' dogmatic love of Olympia and its sons sickened him, as did Lugerev's degeneracy. There would be a day when no original Olympians remained, when the bloodlines ran dry, and he had to ensure that that did not propagate the demise of the IVth. They were a set of principles and doctrines as much as they were flesh and blood, and he knew that the iron of their ideals would have to outlast the iron of their armour. Those born or assimilated into the ranks of the XIXth since the destruction of Olympia were already ample proof of that, it was just necessary for the Warsmith to ensure that the idea didn't die with him.

As they walked, Coeus reported his findings to the Warsmith, who did not reply. The marines who passed them did not bow or show deference, knowing that Pelegon had no love for those who abased themselves at his feet. He was confident of his own power, knowing that he reigned over the life and breath of all who called the Eisenschloss home, and viewed those who felt the need to display their power as weak. They needed the validation of others to maintain their power base, something that he viewed with as little regard as the worship of the Dark Gods.

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The Warsmith looked down at into the palms of his hands, rotating them. Countless thousands had died as a result of their direct work, and Pelegon's latest pet project would serve only to add to that count. The targeter arrays that were built into his armour allowed him to mark out targets using the armour's built-in cogitator, exact markers that would show up on the HUDs of any units that he wanted to fire. The full destructive might of the XIXth could be brought to bear exactly where he pointed a hand. None of Pelegon's subordinates knew of this, nor was it at all visible externally. Once on Pelexis the Warsmith would demonstrate the array's immense power to Kunzhardt, and give him the second one he had built. The original, made from archeotech pre-dating the Age of Strife, he would keep for himself.

The ancient warrior returned to his present setting; the training ground by the outer wall of the Eisenschloss, and Coeus at his side. Neophytes, ranging from twelve to sixteen standard Terran years of age, were carrying out shooting drills before him, the relentless pace of training unaffected by the news of mobilisation. At their tender age, they lacked the strength to wield full-sized boltguns. As a result they were given large-calibre autoguns that had, relative to the neophytes' body size and mass, recoil and firing action similar to the boltguns they would wield as fully-fledged marines. The librarian, he noticed, was observing them with narrowed eyes; likely scouring their ranks for any psykers he could take under his wing.

All had freshly-shaved heads, and a large single scar on the backs of their skulls where their Catalepsean Nodes had been implanted. With their Larraman's Organs inside them, they could have had the surgery yesterday and be combat-ready today. The youths fired with commendable accuracy, and Pelegon was aware that though young, none had the expressions of fear or joy on their faces that human infants usually had in such settings. All those assembled here were suitable for their future careers mentally as well as physically, the conditioning that would turn them into the most fearless and intractable of warriors having already taken effect, as was proven by the fact that they were still mentally functional. To produce the fifty or so assembled before him, there would have been over three hundred initiates, to use the statistical averages of their creation process. Just over half would live long enough to become complete space marines. They looked like children, but had been put through unimaginable physical torment, had watched hundreds of their fellows die by their sides...and had pushed on.

Pelegon knew that the training process for the XIXth was much more rigorous than even that of the Imperial marine chapters, unwilling as he was to set any other than the highest of standards. He wanted each of his men to count for ten of those he faced, had to know that every component of his war machine would function exactly as needed. To wage war as he did, the vetting process had to be as thorough as possible. The neophytes were suffering under the burning white sky of Medrengard, the sweat pouring freely from their bodies as they fumbled for new magazines with slick hands. The guns were growing hot in their grip, but the Warsmith knew that the instructor would have given them a fire rate that they would have to maintain.

"Your findings do not cause undue concern" Pelegon eventually concluded. The weight of command was a heavy one, and any who viewed a Warsmith's throne with envy were, in his opinion, fools. He led because he knew that he had been born for it, knew that he could devote to both his father and legion the entirety of his existence to its fullest extent. He didn't trust anyone else to do what he did.

"Nor do I view Captain Kunzhardt as unreliable or potentially corrupt. You don't need to play games with me, Coeus, I know you don't like him because of his bloodline. But none of the positions of the senior commanders is fixed" the threat was slight, but coming from the Warsmith, who was not given to striking with warning, it would be a sign that his displeasure was great "were there anyone better than Kunzhardt, they would already have his title and command"

Pelegon watched as the Tenth Captain roared at one of the neophytes, grabbing his gun out of his hands. The Warsmith's hearing was, as of that of all astartes, enhanced to beyond human levels, and even at the distance at which the pair stood he could hear the exact reason why. He had been repeatedly firing down to the last round, then manually re-racking the gun, rather than counting his shots and keeping one in the chamber so as to greatly increase the speed of reloads. He would be beaten mercilessly and given some tiresomely unpleasant duty as punishment, no doubt, but Pelegon knew that the captain knew when to give the carrot and when to use the stick, and trusted his judgement. That he was able to personally oversee the training of most of the initiates without detracting from his other duties and tasks was indicative of the man's skill.

"Are there any among them that catch your eye, Coeus?"
 

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Always watching always waiting like a spider waiting for the fly to catch itself in a web. The other captains seemed intent on seeing to his downfall. Whether it was a vendetta, to secure the might he commanded, or to topple one they saw as impure. It mattered not they slunk in the shadows whispering hushed treason dripping with venom. He would plunge his hand into the darkness and tear their geneseed from their still living bodies but to do that would cross a great canyon and draw wrath to him. He had dealt with the Master of the Forge who, through honeyed words no doubt, dismissed Kunzhardt's worries and reassured the second captain of the purpose of the tanks but what of the others? There was a cult within the XIXth that would see not just purity from corruption but also purity from foreign blood and it was common knowledge he was one of the Bastard's. Yes he was born of an Iron Warrior Fortress World and bled with Maloxdraxian recruits but those not from that broken dead world were seen as less to them.

The frustration built up in him as heavy boots trudged in a forced march back his own lair. He'd have words with Pelegon before the mission and express his own anger over things. His anger turned to rage as he entered his own quarters to discover a wall of 1st company honour guard mingling within his quarters. His own soldier was taken by them and was being questioned as to his whereabouts it would seem. Had pelegon sent his hounds for Kunzhardt? Would they be used the same way the Vlth legion was ordered to deal with the llnd and the Xlth in their own purging? He felt the twitch almost instinctively as his power fist drew back just past parallel with his body in a somewhat cocked position. The only saving grace was that none of them had their weapons drawn. Did they expect him to surrender with civility? He would die there in his own home with his hands drenched in their blood.

"Cease fire!"

A bellow rang throughout the room magnified by his vox link to the casters throughout the hangar and at once the room was quiet, no bolter rounds, no explosions, just the hiss of singed metal as every iron clad astartes in the room turned to face him and the group. They would not find his courage wanting, and if it came to it, he would not find their firepower wanting. He marched past them to where they were questioning his subordinate and took his place dismissing him back to his own duties. His fists clenched and unclenched and adrenal glands brought forth their potion readying the soldier for anticipated conflict. With a slightly bladed defensive stance he addressed the lot of them his words dripping with defensive venom.

"Why are you here, Hand of the Warsmith? Why have you brought your. . . retinue to my domain?"

He censored his remark towards the honour guard. His disdain for the first captain aside Kunzhardt highly admired the veterans of the first company. They were able soldiers second to none and served as fantastic frontline soldiers to allow his guns to pound enemy positions into mulch. Still if this came to blows he would make it his final act to rid the first company of a bat that had long overstayed its welcome.
 

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Tyranus turned as he heard the commanding voice of Kunzhardt shout of "Cease Fire!" above the fray. He was a man that Tyranus rather liked and respected, as much for his tactical acumen and service beyond reproach. Beyond that Kunzhardt, much in the way that Tyranus envisioned himself was a great leader and molder of men, it was admirable how he took the raw -for an Astartes- recruits given to him and transformed them into the best siege fighters he had ever seen.

At Kunzhardt's command the entire complex was suddenly deathly silent as the 2nd Captain approached, Tyranus took note of the entirety of the assembled Astartes turned and all attention was now on their Captain and himself. "Why are you here, Hand of the Warsmith? Why have you brought your. . . retinue to my domain?" The harsh tone Kunzhardt spoke with was softened as he referred to his Honor Guard, which he took as a sort of professional courtesy given by Kunhardt.

Tyranus lowered his head in something akin to an apologetic bow, "Captain Kunzhardt," he spoke the man's name with an inflection of respect and while the two were hardly on good terms, he had no ill intentions though and sought to make that as clear as possible. He calmly put his hand up, motioning for his retinue to remain where they stood, he did not want to accidentally create a scene of bloodshed by having the vertible wall of Tyranthikos move with him.

Removing his helm so as to speak with Kunzhardt face to face he began, "I believed it would be best to come and speak with you in person. My retinue accompanies me only as we are so close to the launch of our campaign." He gave as manner of explanation, which while possibly believable, was not the truth, were they at readiness for war or not, the Honor Guard would have accompanied him to the lair of the Mechanized Fist. " I wished to speak with you on matters regarding the coordination of The First and Seventh Companies in the coming campaign. I will always welcome the aid of the The Mechanized Fist and his company of the greatest siege fighters known to the stars. I believe that my Tyranthikos are the perfect hammer to your anvil, or vice versa." He took note of Kunzhardt's lazily cocked powerfist and prepared himself for anything, gauging the distance between himself and the 2nd Captain to be just enough that he could draw his power glaive if needed. In a pinch he had his retractable power sword in his left vambrace, but he would do all he could to diffuse a rather tense situation.

"There is also another matter that I would like to discuss with you, something best discussed in private." He did not wish to reveal the information he'd obtained from Draxus in front of line soldiers as this was a matter to be discussed by the respective Captains.
 

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More honeyed words. Would the entirety of Eisenschloss seek his ass for their lips? What games were being played? He would entertain them and run their gauntlet; they would find his iron strong and his ego unflattered. The complete show of pacifism from the 1st captain and his guard disarmed the 2nd Captain who would either think it to be a trick or a ploy to garner some favour. At his formal greeting Kunzhardt bowed his head in return and slammed the powerfist into his open hand once more acknowledging the greeting and honouring the position if not the person. It would be a fantastic battle should a round be let loose. His own infantry clad in traditional power armour cobbled together from countless battlefields and what the forge master could procure, injured and likely tired from the days drilling and down ammunition vs an elite force from the 1st. It would be wonderful but utterly pointless.

With a single sweeping motion his right arm swept from his side up to his side parallel with the ground and then dropped back to his side and with it so lowered the countless firearms in the hangar only to resume an alert pose and at this he finally spoke. He growled the first bit like an enraged animal only to resume a harsh tone.

"Save your breath-Don't shower me with flowered words, bat. . . Now, Captain of 1st Company, if you wish to talk battle that is fine. . . Leave your guards I will not be captive in my own domain."

He moved slightly to his side and bid Tyranus move with him, he would stay abreast the Night Lord though as he would never allow his back to Tyranus and would expect the same from him.

He removed his own helmet revealing a jaw like iron and rightfully so with bionics making up his throat left over from a history as a Destroyer marine. His recessed eyes almost in a perpetual glare allowing little to discern what he was looking at. He scrutinized the marine like a man accustomed to being lied to and betrayed, skeptical of every word that was being uttered. They were in the corner of the titanic hangar with no souls near them but still completely within view of both the 1st's honour guard as well as the 2nds forces in training.

"You and I both know this fact. Your veterans are unmatched within blooding distance. Mine beyond. We are masters of our domain but I don't like you. I hate your lineage of cowardice and dishonour. However, you fight with fervor and earned the respect of Tyranthikos, no simple task and for that you are tolerated. Now think on your words, Tyranus, what do you want to discuss?"
 

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Captain Kunzhardt returned his formal greeting in kind, which Tyranus was somewhat pleasantly surprised by, before the Mechanized Fist spoke, bringing the stark realities back into the light. "Save your breath-Don't shower me with flowered words, bat. . ." The words were spoken as if they were accusations and Tyranus couldn't help but smirk just a little at the remark 'Bat.' It was one he had heard before, though few would say it to his face, and he appreciated that the 2nd Captain was at least honest with his opinions. Still, with one wave of Kunzhardt's hand the myriad of weapons that had been directed at them were lowered and the Astartes and aspirants wielding them hesitantly went back to their tasks at hand.

The Mechanized Fist stepped aside and motioned for Tyranus to continue on with him, "Now, Captain of 1st Company, if you wish to talk battle that is fine. . . Leave your guards I will not be captive in my own domain." Tyranus nodded cordially "But of course," his hand went up, but he reiterated his intentions anyway, "wait here." The Tyranthikos Honor Guard silently acknowledged and stood motionless, like grim statues, but at the slightest provocation they would leap into action at their Lord's word.

Kunzhardt revealed his battle scarred and rebuilt face, numerous bionics and restructurings had taken place, but none minimized the man's effectiveness as a warrior or a leader. They were within sight but out of earshot of their respective forces, and as such Tyranus hoped this would be a meeting of equals. The Mechanized Fist was not a man to mince words and perhaps his tact of seeking to prop up and flatter the man had not been particularly well advised. The tone with which Kunzhardt spoke seemed to confirm this to an extent. "You and I both know this fact. Your veterans are unmatched within blooding distance. Mine beyond. We are masters of our domain but I don't like you." The 2nd Captain started in, before lacing in the requisite barbs about Tyranus' origins. "I hate your lineage of cowardice and dishonour. However, you fight with fervor and earned the respect of Tyranthikos, no simple task and for that you are tolerated. Now think on your words, Tyranus, what do you want to discuss?"

The mention of his past again brought forth a certain glimmer of disdain and anger to his eyes, but he simply huffed out of his nostrils, as if somehow that would cool his ire. It did not, but Tyranus was not here to begin another war before commencing the one on Pelexis III that was sanctioned by the WarSmith. "In our respective disciplines you are correct, we are unmatched and thus I look to you as an equal." Tyranus furled his lip as he spoke, he would dispense with the flowery and complimentary language as that made him appear weak and Kunzhardt would not have ears for it anyway. "My lineage is not that of a coward, I am at the forefront of any operation undertaken by the Tyranthikos, I do not simply bask on a throne and bark orders. My loyalty is unbound and completely to the XIXth Great Company, near seven millenia of service to it speaks to that." Tyranus, clearly agitated was about to cast aside his original intentions and felt himself tense as if to strike at Kunzhardt, but his inner voice cooled his temper, reminding himself that he needed to at the very least not make another bitter enemy.

"Regardless, I appreciate your candor Kunzhardt, but I do have real matters to address with you, matters that far outweigh any personal feelings." He composed himself, pushing his hatred and anger away, he would unleash it later on any poor souls who sought to impede him on Pelexis III. "I would request that you limit your use of any thunderfire cannons that you were planning to utilize to embattlement towers on the Wolf's Claw itself and as also refrain from using them as a means to destroy any forward defenses outside of the bastion itself. I realize that we have had great successes using such a tactic previously, but in this instance I had intended to move in at speed with my Tyrant Siege squadrons with our Land Raiders, I believe that the mobility they present will allow us to destroy any ad hoc defenses they can muster without wasting the fire power of your thunderfires on so soft of targets. It also will limit any potential collateral damage to any assaulting forces from our respective companies. I believe a mobile assault and siege will be our best way of breaking their line defenses and ripping open their bastion to be gutted."

Tyranus paused for a moment, as if he were rethinking the offer he had decided he would make. "I understand that such a course of action will leave your armored divisions potentially vulnerable to counter assault as they will not have entrenched and protected positions as would be the case in a protracted siege. As such I would offer the assistance of several Tyranthikos squadrons to cover your armored division's advance if you deem them an asset to your operation." He was sincere in his offer as well as his estimation of how he believed they would best carry out their assigned mission.
 

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“Coeus, with me.” from his reference, I assumed he was more frustrated with Lucian than Iapetus. Iapetus had proposed working with the 3rd, he just wanted control over a boarding action. Something my brother was known best for. It was Lucian who had dismissed his company entirely. Now that the Warsmith was gone, Lucian could not hide behind him and would have to confront Iapetus and Lugerev directly, something I sincerely hoped ended in blood.

Pelegon bade me to report what I had found. I started with my own subordinate.
“My judgement of Librarian Bronsk is thus; he is tempted but he is not tainted. One of the inherent risks of being a psyker is we must endure the constant whispers of the warp and its promises of power. A particular entity has plagued him for some time now, and the tomes he was found with were, as he protested, for combatting a foe. However, such single-mindedness does not befit someone of his rank. His vision must be broader, or else he risks falling prey to some unknown foe. As such, I have demoted him to the rank of Lexicanum and placed him under the supervision of Librarian Kolvax until such a time as he has dealt with this vendetta.”

My tone was calm and collected. I did not believe there was anything to alarm the Warsmith in this minor infraction and I did not need him becoming overly interested in areas which did not concern him. Bronsk tomes would of course be scoured for weapons to use against our daemonic foes, but exactly how that was done was a process Pelegon deliberately avoided knowing about. Likely he feared that the truth of how such weapons were obtained would displease him and for him to reconsider using them, despite their necessity. He was right, how such information was obtained would likely chill him to the bone, but he had thus far avoided knowledge of it. I imagined he would continue to do so, as long as it proved useful.

Moving on from my brief analysis of the warrior in my care, I spoke of Brother Rorke. “The Gorgon’s man, Rorke, however is quite a different story. As expected, his wounds were a blessing from the Plague Father and had to be purged with fire before I could let the serfs dispose of the remains, lest they become infected too. My chief concern is that it is likely others members of the Company are infected or actively spreading such a contagion. I think it best if the Librarium conduct a full inquiry of the 2nd Company and eliminate any further fanaticism from the Mechanized Fist.”

We had reached the outer walls of the Eisenschloss. Pelegon was inspecting his hands, apparently fascinated by them. I considered trying to breach his mental barriers to hear his thoughts. Leaving the Warsmith to his own thoughts, I cast my mind over the recruits slaving away under the false sun that hung over Medrengard. My eyes flitted between them. Mostly, it was fascinating to hear their thoughts. Such young ambition and determination. It was a shame so many of them would be forcefully infected with the gene-seed of a less worthy legion. One boy in particular I felt a kindred spirit in. I mentally noted him. I would have to call for him after I was done here.

“Your findings…” Pelegon rumbled, apparently having stopped considering his own hands. “…do not cause undue concern. Nor do I view Captain Kunzhardt as unreliable or potentially corrupt. You don't need to play games with me, Coeus, I know you don't like him because of his bloodline. But none of the positions of the senior commanders is fixed…” The warsmith was threatening me. How quaint. “…were there anyone better than Kunzhardt, they would already have his title and command.” I was certain I could find an Olympian who could do the half-breed’s job just as well, if not better.

Pelegon was a man most feared. He was strong, driven, methodical. He was most things you would want in a leader. Many, especially the lower ranks held him up as an object of fear and adoration. He expected his word to be obeyed without question and was not one to suffer fools. The tyrannical warsmith was known for many horrible and cruel deeds within the warp and the Imperium. None of that stopped me grinning and chuckling to myself.
“You can dispense with the threats Warsmith. The worst you can do is kill me.” I risked my soul as well as my body to keep this Grand Company pure and Pelegon thought he could intimidate me with demotion and death. Spoken exactly like someone who had never seen the true face of power.

Pelegon asked me if any of the initiates caught my eye. “Well, my esteemed Warsmith, I figured you might be able to tell me which of them I should be looking at, since you are more adept at spotting the Warp’s influence than I am.” My voice dripped with sarcasm and Pelegon’s anger burnt through his mental block like a solar flare. I was sure he was about to berate me for my insolence but I started talking before he could. “A Nurglite plague is a sickness of the soul, not a malediction of the body. If one of his men is afflicted, then it is likely there are others with rusted souls too. Men who would rise up and pollute this Grand Company.”

I turned my head to face the Warsmith, defiant even though his stature meant I could not look down at him. “You appointed me as Chief Librarian to safe guard the purity of this Grand Company because I can sense the warp’s influence more keenly than anyone else in your service. I intend to do just that.” Pelegon’s rage still simmered. I was probably on shaky ground, but I had been in more precarious positions before. “I didn’t ask for Kunzhardt’s head, and such an inference says more about your paranoia than my ideology. I simply asked for the Librarium to investigate his company and uncover any taint where ever it hides.”

I looked back over the recruits, my face the same furrowed near snarl that it almost always was. “If there is nothing there, at least we will confirm that. And if there is, then you will know that those who would sacrifice us on their alters to their gods will trouble us no longer.” Pelegon might still be fuming at my disregard for his authority, but that was his problem not mine. Even if Kunzhardt wasn’t a mongrel, it would be foolish not to verify that the taint hadn’t spread further than one man. If Pelegon still protected his 2nd Captain, they the Grand Company would learn that their Warsmith would rather protect his chaos-worshiping half-breeds than execute sound leadership. Worse still, if there was a taint to be uncovered and Pelegon hid it unknowingly he would find everything he loved ripped from him by the Dark Gods. I wouldn’t hesitate to burn it all to the ground, if it meant I could purge the tainted from our midst…
 

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The immovable noted a change in the Night Lord. Something he had said struck home with him and the faintest of smirks curled the corner of his lip before being dismissed and he could almost feel heat at his neck from where Tyranus was no doubt focusing even if his eyes weren't staring. He'd never really talked at length with the captain of first company and as thus didn’t know much underneath. He knew the man was not of Iron and had been assimilated into the group. A lesser alloy. Perhaps he was being too harsh on the captain; no man can choose his stars.

Others within the XIXth would remind him of his bastard blood and the redundancy would be noted for he constantly reminded himself of his own short comings. Perhaps this bat found comradery in the XIXth that he couldn't within the VIIIth. He'd heard stories of how they flapped about clawing at each other looking for weaknesses. A pack of starving wolves nipping at each other to find the weakest. The 1st captain was ranting now, proclaiming his own glories as support to an argument and by the sounds of it had misunderstood Kunzhardt's intentions. Tyranus finished his full dissertation leaving the 2nd Captain in silence.


"Yes. . . Your lineage. . . But an apple does not always rest by its tree and your apple rolled far from Nostramo and you have shown your aptitude in the warsmith's eyes and in the eyes of the Tyranthikos. . Now. I have not had an audience with Pelegon and don't know his full plan. We should resume this conversation aboard the Ferra Perpetua. The Warsmith will speak more then and we can detail a strategy. Don't worry I wouldn't hinder the 1sts glory and don't suspect to need your guard. A lone bastion on a forgotten world in an insignificant sector is unlikely to be well secured. Again we can speak in more detail then."
 
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