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'Incoming transmission,' The communications officer called. 'From the Shade Wraith, sire.'

Iapetus sighed. His forced cooperation with the Third Company was feeling like a heavier and heavier burden. They were distinctly different Companies - Their doctrines clashed rather than melded - And Iapetus wasn't overly fond of the Dark Angel; who, he knew, had largely deprived the Third of Iron Warriors. It was a melting pot of renegades and cutthroats, shadow-dancers and assassins.

'Very well,' He said, and stood, entering the hololithic chamber. It darkened, and then Lucan flickered into shape before him, clad in his armour and robes. 'Lucian,' He addressed, coldly.

The Dark Angel talked, and the Iron Warrior listened. Lucian jested with him, offered a challenge, but it drew no brotherly response from the Shipwright. He could never feel one - The Dark Angels were, and always would be, loyal to the Throne. How could Iapetus trust someone who, by right, should have been on the opposing front? He couldn't.

'You and the Third are welcome to the bridge,' Iapetus answered. 'We have to secure the armoury and the enginarium, to prevent the Wolves from scuttling, or destroying, the ship. If we cannot take the nerve-points, the Fist of Russ will not be taken.'

He looked away and smiled. 'If the Third can secure the armoury and bridge, then the Seventh will take the enginarium and Apothecarium,' He offered, gently. 'You shall have the honour of presenting the Fist of Russ to Pelegon,' He turned, to step out of the hololithic chamber. 'Do not disappoint me, Captain.'

And with that, he was gone.
 

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He was surprised that he decided to cut the talk so short, but Lugerev was a busy Astartes, having so many to tend to, and to maintain the health of the Grand Company.

'For now, if you could just speak to Loakk for me. I would very much like for him to assist me in my part of the mission. I am to board the Wolves' Strike Cruiser that is anchored above Pelexis, according to Pelegon, and retrieve a stock of Salamander gene seed that he believes to be there. I am sure there will be several Space Wolves aboard for him to take "samples" from. In fact, I'll make sure of it. Hell, with our First and Second Captains' legacies, there likely won't be anything left on the ground to take back for research, regardless of Pelegon's orders.'

'Let me know his, or your, decision. Thank you Adriun.'

With that finished, Adriun nodded, "Until later Brother Apothecary." He watched Lugerev walk away.

He got on his vox after tapping his data slate and looking at the various processes that servitors on the various ships of the XIXth's fleet. He preffered to look at the data-slate for information, though it was entirely unnecessary due his cogitators command links, he just wanted an excuse to use his eyes. After configuring his Vox to link with Loakk's private line he then contacted him. It was a quiet discussion as neither needed to verbally say anything, it was as close to telepathy as current tech allowed.

'Loakk, this is Adriun. The Warsmtih approved your request, and denied mine sadly. However I do have some other good news for you, Lugerev wants to cooperate with you, as he says he is more experienced in handling gene-seed.'

After a few seconds, most likely due to absorbing the information and its ramifications, Loakk responded sound apprehensive.

'I wonder if his intentions are true forge master, I would be sorely disappointed if he only responded as thus due to our shared heritage in olympia, such things are petty, but I remember a day before Lugerev's condition and so I shall put stock in the Apothecary I knew. Is their anything else?'

Adriun had thought this too, but then again he couldn't be sure, it was a political move possibly. Then again did Lugerev truly care for politics? That was more the 7th captain and the Seer's forte. He would have to take the request at face value, as he knew if he had detested the idea, the variably lucid Apothecary would not be afraid to make his qualms know.

'Yes there is one final request, you will not be going planet side, I an Reassigning you to the Apothecary's Retinue. Gather your tools and containers and make sure your claws are ready, you will be tearing through the Wolf ship, Lugerev will assist you in acquiring gene-seed. Iron Within, Master Genetor.'

With that he was done. Loakk immediately began preparing, a smile splitting his feature, revealing rows of sharp teeth, his tongue whipped out, almost as if tasting the blood to come.

'Now the wolf will be the prey. Iron without, Forge Master.'

The Vox line was then cut. Adriun then noticed the armored form of one of the Marines from the Second company, holding a data slate.

'Forge Master, a slate detailing a request from Captain Kunzhardt.'

'Adrius is it? ah yes, thank you. You are dismissed I will go over this once back in my quarters.'

'Yes Forge Master.'

With that the 2nd company Marine left, and Adriun placed the Data Slate in a pouch, mag locked to his side.
 

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Thoughts danced at the possibilities of what Tyranus' intentions were before the company but he did have a good idea. A question of loyalty would have to be dealt with. He sighed quietly seeing what he presumed to be an agreement between the two captains. There was a twisted look in the 1st captains eyes. The Night Lords were accustomed to killing each other. When the rebellion began they were fantastically adept at the beginning of the conflict having already spent countless centuries spilling their own blood and now he asked a child of that environment to assist him and to bring that same instinct forth. Part of him thought of the long term implications of this conversation.

"They're all present, Captain.

And with that he gestured for the others to leave the room and then followed out into the main hangar where the 1st still lingered and the 2nd still trained.

"Attention!"

The thunderclap rumbled forth again and then there was silence. Nothing but the very soft whine of thousands of well-maintained servos humming.
 

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Kunzhardt called out over the bustle of the 2nd Company running through their stringent training regimens while the First Company waited, impatiently it seemed for their orders to strike out at the inhabitants of Pelexis III. The 2nd Captain's demand was immediately recognized.

The First filed into formation, towering behemoths in Cataphractii plate, each warrior bristling with violent intent and their own personal choice of weaponry to accomplish the task. The well regimented and 2nd Company forming into their squads in a similar manner to the left of the First Company. The hum of servo engines and the whine of various small motors powering the tools or servitors were the only sounds in the massive hangar.

"Draxus, come," Tyranus motioned with his right hand, he wanted his equerry to stand with him on this momentous and monumental occasion. Kunzhardt stood to his side as they looked out onto the sea of their respective companies, the fiercest and most veteran warriors next to the most notorious and feared siege fighters within the Grand Company, perhaps the whole galaxy. "Captain Kunzhardt has been charged with command of the Tyranthikos for our campaign on Pelexis, do not fail him. I know that every one of you has sworn their oath to the First Company and will uphold it, I know you will not fail Captain Kunzhardt, because to do so would be to fail me!" He bellowed, tinges of the rage within him began to boil over as he spoke to his men, the 2nd Captain and his company seemingly watching intently.

"Any man who is found to carry disloyalty in his heart shall be found out to have broken his oath, and what is the penalty for disloyalty to The First?!" Tyranus shouted the rhetorical question and en masse the First responded "Death!" Towering over his equerry Draxus, Tyranus' concealed power sword shot out of his left vambrace, the power field was not activated though. Grabbing the young equerry by the inner rim of his power armor's pauldron with his right hand Tyranus brought the blade down into the gap between the equerry's left pauldron and chest plate rendering his lightning claw wielding hand immobile and useless. Tyranus ripped off the man's helmet, he wanted to stare into his shocked eyes as he withdrew the blade and then savagely brought the blade down again, this time just behind the nape of the neck, intentionally and cruelly Tyranus was keeping Draxus alive, his punishment would be humiliation and a vengeful and vicious death. "This man has forsaken his oath to the First, what is your sentence?" He spoke as if there was any possible response beyond what was shouted back, perhaps bloodthirsty after so long a layoff from their past campaign, but the First seemed eager to see the blood of the traitor spilled though they would never know what exactly his crime was. "Perturabo once found our Legion so wanting that he had an example made by a grim lottery that one in ten should be made into an example. This man-," he looked down and the ruined and bleeding form of Draxus a man he once trusted and believed was a loyal Brother, a small piece of him lamented that it had come to this, killing a man he had trusted and believed was a comrade, but another piece found it altogether refreshing and familiar all at the same time. This was not the first time Tyranus had killed a battle brother, nor would it be the last. "This man," he continued, " he has betrayed each and everyone of you my loyal brothers, it pains me, but he has betrayed us all." He moved as if to retire to his quarters when a gruff and unexpected voice interjected.

"Captain Tyranus," the scarred, shaven head of Veteran Sergeant Magallion came forward, pushing his way through the assemblage of warriors. "What would you have us do with him?" He motioned to Draxus, who still clung to life, he was badly wounded and bleeding out, but he could hear Magallion a man who had taught him much, perhaps somehow his life would might not be snuffed out. We can give you the power to live, to kill them all! The voices clawed at his mind, but he was resolute in his oath at least as an Unbroken.

"Veteran Sergeant Magallion, as I said, this man is a traitor, since you have stepped forward and you and your squad may carry out his sentence as you see fit." With that, like feral dogs, those Brothers of the third squad ofthe First Company that could get to the prone figure of Draxus stomped, kicked, punched and battered in any manner possible the treacherous bastard. Brokai the massive wall of an Astartes of the third squadron tore one of Draxus' legs from his body, producing a scream that one would not think possible from an Astartes as the others set upon him, taking turns unleashing their pent up and savage rage that ran wholesale throughout the Company. The rest of the First cheered their Battle Brothers on, but even the echoes throughout the hangar that rang out "Hail Tyranthikos!" could not drown out the cries of agony from Draxus as he was effectively drawn and quartered by the brute force of those who upheld their oaths to the First Company fanatically.

Tyranus couldn't have been more pleased with his work, as he looked to Kunzhardt "Captain, I believe my men are prepared for combat, but there is one more thing we should discuss in private."
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The Champion of the First Company stood like a statue at the rear of the assembled company, observing the theatrics of the Night Lord with thinly veiled disgust, the agonizing screams of the Captain's equerry would have curdled the blood of a mortal, but Kerberos was undisturbed. He was however far from pleased, his warrior spirit was offended by this 'execution' which amounted to nothing more than a mob beating. No Battle Brother of ours deserves to die in this way, no matter his offense. What exactly are you up to Tyranus, Tyrant of the Bats? The Champion thought to himself, unimpressed with the tact of the First Captain, but he had to admit, the man knew how to play to his men, and that was what made The Bat so dangerous. What path will you lead us down? He questioned silently, but he also questioned himself, just what might he do if he learned the answers to his questions?
 

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He watched scene unfold. He'd thought that Draxus would fall in his quarters or after the trip to the Bat's quarters but a display before the entire company was interesting and one far more brutal than he had just delivered to his own adjutant which seemed all the more coincidental. The 1st's Captain seemed to be picking apart Draxus like a roasted chicken leaving him wounded and really incapable of mounting a defensive. He would have no part in assisting the equerry especially one of a different legion. He had anticipated a show but what transpired next was entirely different. One of his own men stepped forward interjecting the show. Such a show would demand a rebuke if not corporal punishment however it seemed to be more the rule than the exception within the 1st as the sergeant revealed to be Magallion requested conclusion to the situation only to be given the honor of ending the victims life in easily the most spectacular manner they could muster and in no small way yielded a smirk from the second captain.

Blood. . . Yes blood. . . Drench the halls with it, drink from it Kunzhardt bath in it!

"We should notify the armouy and the apothecary to retrieve and maintain the cataphractii and the gene seed. . . Respectively. . . "

The last word twinged with a hint of pleasure, he had enjoyed the show. Part of him wished to have join in it but it was not his company to enforce. He made a mental note of the hidden sword in the event the two ever came to blows and gestured the Night Lord back to his chamber where they had just come from.

"Feeling better, captain? What else do you wish to discuss?"

Now his thoughts filled with Pelexis and rending the world apart with his fists hearing the contorted screams of human souls as they cried out to a decayed corpse to help them from his place eternally bound to his machine like a dreadnought pilot with no glory.
 

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I saw Kunzhardt’s fingers twitch. That narrowed down the threads of fate I had to watch. He might reach for a grenade, or his sidearm. Either way, I was prepared. The half-blood believed himself invincible, and I really wanted to prove him wrong. "No…” Well that was disappointing. Although the refusal to fight clearly weighed heavily on him. I felt the half-breed strain at his own leash “…we both know where your crosshairs lie, pure blood. I wonder why the Primarch purged Olympia?" The bastard-born stormed from the room like a petulant child. I kept my weapons activated until he was out of sight. My face twisted into a snarl under my helmet. What did he know of Olympia?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I remembered Olympia, in every searing detail. I remember when the word had first reach us that our own people had abandoned us, betrayed us. They cried they were oppressed, wronged, defiled. What did they know? We had given everything for them. We had given up our security, our homes, our lives to protect them and provide for them. We had given everything for those mewling wretches! What had happened in their absence? Where had the iron resolve of Olympia gone while we had been fighting horrors uncounted?

I remembered what it felt like when we first broke the warp above the world I had called home. The entire IVth Legion had mustered here, or as many as were able. We had been scorned by those we swore to protect. We had offered everything of ourselves. Our fathers and children had seen that as enough, but time and leisure had made this generation soft. They had lost their strength, their will, their iron and now condemned us. As it had always been, it was left to the Warriors of Perturabo to purge the weak and allow those that remained to grow strong.

I had landed, along with most of the 7th Company. Iapetus had helped to smash aside what pathetic orbital defence there was. He had given me command to lead the remainder of his forces in the purge of the surface. My name had not been Coeus then, and my face was not permanently on the verge of snarling. That all happened here, on Olympia. It happened when we murdered the world that had raised us.

We had landed on the slopes approaching the city of Harkiaos. The world of the IVth legion was not one of beauty, like Prospero, but one of practicality built to withstand invasion, with the might of the Legiones Astartes behind its walls. But it was not built for being assaulted by the same legion. Those in the 2nd Company, still the Mechanized Fist but still pure back then, had torn open the walls of the city and it had fallen to me and the 7th to be first into the breach. We had dived in like poison.

Armour and precognition had kept death at bay on our approach, rounds ricocheting of boarding shields, terminator armour and telekine shields. The defenders of our home came to meet us and died in droves. Flamers and meltas, meant to purge huge battleships of armoured occupants turned the city into a blazing ruin in a matter of hours. We crushed the treacherous mortals beneath our tread of bolt, blade and fire.

But that was not what I remembered about Olympia. Harkiaos was not the only city we purged and it was certainly not the last. It was the anguish and rage the bled off of every being. I could taste the human’s anger and sorrow. They realised their terrible error and that they had courted their own destruction, but they somehow found vindication. As if our necessity proved that their treachery was justified.

I felt my brothers cry out with wordless screams of hate. For decades they had been pushed to the edge, made to fight in the most horrific warzones with no recognition from their fellows save their scorn. Day by day, year by year, their souls had been eroded until only raw pragmatism remained, because they could not afford any other luxuries. Yet they had counted it all as gain, because they were protecting humanity and making it stronger by their actions. Now, the humanity so close to their hearts had betrayed them and they were furious. Furious that they were unthanked and unmourned and now unwanted. Furious that all they had worked for had been for nought. Furious that their fight had been in vain.

That fury levelled cities. I was there when the last bastion fell before us. I waded through the fire and the dust and murdered any who were foolish enough to oppose me. One man I held aloft and stripped his skin from his bones. I stripped him of his muscles and then crushed his bones, but left his nerves and organs intact so he would be alive to feel everything as I tore him to pieces. I had never heard a man scream like that before. Eternal Schism had torn their souls from their bodies and fed them to hungry warp monsters to suffer for eternity. I killed and I killed and I killed until in the end there was no one left. We had put our homes to the sword and enslaved any that survived. Still, the feeling of betrayal lingered, and so too did my snarl.

Before we left, I stood with the 7th Company in the ruins of our first city. We heaped the corpses onto giant funeral pyres and stood together as it burned. They were broken, lost. They teetered on the edge of despair and though Iapetus was their captain, they knew me and right then I was the best they had. They looked to me, wondering how to make sense of their purpose now. “Brothers…” I had spoken, the flames rising high behind me “…do not mourn those we have killed. They were not Olympians. They betrayed us, they deserted us and so forsook what it means to be a true Olympian. A true Olympian does not yield, does not waver, does not falter! Stand firm and take heart. Olympia is not dead. While we draw breath, while we still fight, while we hold fast to what it pure, Olympia can never die!”


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Olympia was about more than simple killing. It was a time of testing, of tempering. Olympia had been tested and found wanting, much like the IVth had when Perturabo had first received them. In both cases, the iron of the spirit had to be tempered so that it could emerge stronger. The Lord of Iron had not purged Olympia because he despised it. He had done it because he loved it, as he loved his sons. He was their father and it was left to him to instruct them and teach them their errors. However, Perturabo was not Kunzhardt’s father. It did not surprise me that a man who had neither been there nor was truly part of the legion failed to understand what had been done that day.

Adriun regarded me and began to talk with Lugerev. Initial, he seemed to be struggling to hold himself in the moment, but that was often true. However, his posture became less en guarde and I was fairly certain whatever he had just been seeing had passed. Adriun agreed for his biologist, Loakk, to join Lugerev on the assault on the Strike Cruiser, which surprised me somewhat. I was sure Lugerev had his reasons though, whatever they were.

Lugerev split away from them, to retinue Iapetus had given him in tow. I went to speak to Adriun, but I could hear the distinct clicking of vox networks being fired up and a hot-read of his thoughts told me he was talking to Loakk. I would wait, my concerns not imminently pressing. In the moments of silence as I waited, I could hear the warp howl around the ship. Most others would not, but those gifted like myself, or communing with the Dark Gods, would hear its subtle knocking, scratching at the Gellar Fields and seeking some way to intruded.

Another figure broke my concentration on the background music of the universe. He was relatively unadorned and determined to speak to Adriun. Who are you? Adrius of the Second was the result my questing came up with. And the data-slate? There was nothing. It was a recent acquisition, given to him by the Gorgon to be given to the Master of the Forge only. He didn’t even know what was on it. There were some other recent thoughts about Kunzhardt bullying his enquiry and summoning the Tyranthikos, neither of which gave me any immediate concern. Kunzhardt would want to flaunt his control over the 1st Company while he could. I would get to prying their minds open later. Right now, the nurglings within the 2nd were my main concern, unless obvious taint appeared elsewhere.

The man left, back to his company. Was he tainted? I didn’t think so, although the only way to be absolutely sure would be to interrogate him here and now, and he had more promising leads to follow before he assaulted random Astartes. It wasn’t a blind purge, it was an investigation. Adriun mag-locked the slate to his thigh without reading it. A shame, even with his machine parts I could have gleaned its contents. No matter, that would have been merely a crime of opportunity. If I wanted to, I could probably convince Pelegon to give me access to all communications as well, if it felt it would help my investigation. This was a trinket, a curiosity.

“Forge Master…” I said, coming alongside the man. I would walk with him, if he was going somewhere. “…although it wasn’t necessary, I appreciate your defence of Lugerev. Kunzhardt seems more irritable of late, and I’m not wholly convinced that it just because of the pressures of command.” The implication was obvious enough. Kunzhardt had always been volatile but, especially now, it was easy to cast doubt on even the most mundane of things. “If I were you, I would distance yourself from the man for the time being. I would hate to see our Iron Forge brought low by cross-contamination.” It was something for the Master of the Forge to consider…
 

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Discussion Starter #67 (Edited)
The red of the fires reflected off the sweat that coated the towering marine, making him appear as hot and molten as the metal that he shaped with his hands. The Warsmith was naked, and stood over the forge with a pair of tongs in one hand and a hammer half the size of a mortal man in the other, beating at a sheet of metal until it was perfectly flat. Every muscle in his body bulged under his skin with each swing of the hammer, and beads of sweat hit the metal and evaporated with a hiss. Into every impact Pelegon channelled his frustration, anger and hatred. Frustration at the XIXth for not being the perfect tool they were capable of being, anger at himself for being unable to temper them into the perfect weapon, and hatred at the one that had reduced them to this. Once the metal was flat, the Warsmith set down the hammer and tongs, and after a moment’s hesitation, grabbed the red-hot iron in his bare hands and folded it in half.

Both of the Warsmith’s huge, meaty paws were covered in thick layers of scar tissue from millennia of metal-shaping this way, but despite this the pain was unimaginable. Pelegon clenched his teeth, the veins in his neck standing out as he applied his considerable strength, straining with all his might until his knuckles met one another. There was a hiss as he removed his hands, ripping free several layers of skin from the palms and fingers, which remained on the metal, burning black in a few seconds. Once the metal was folded, he took the hammer in his hand and continued to beat it, the deafening clang of metal on metal drowning out the roar of the Ferra’s mighty engines and the hubbub of activity around him. This was what the other members of the XIXth had forgotten; that from Iron came strength, and that like it, they had to be the hardest of all substances. That it gave to you exactly what you gave to it.

Pelegon had given both mind and body to Perturabo’s iron ideal, and from it had been rewarded with the glory of command – love and indomitable willpower in equal measure. But in spite of the thousand and one pressures his position placed on him, he always found time to get close to that which had made him. One heart was metal, and the other beat for iron, knowing that it was what had made him. For in addition to being as hard as the weapon-metal, one had to be malleable. That was what many in his company lacked. Tyranus, for all his strength, held himself in too high regard. Kunzhardt, the opposite; his self-loathing drove him further than any other that Pelegon had known, but it would ultimately destroy him. The twins were blinkered by their own narrow-minded views on the XIXth’s bloodlines, unwilling to accept that, at their heart, the IVth legion were built on neither an Olympian nor Imperial ideal, but on one of Perturabo’s own design. They would wither and die, and drag the degenerate Primus Medicae with them. He was one who was, to Pelegon’s eyes, a perfect representation of the rust and canker that were eating the IVth legion from within. Lucian seemed more open-minded, but was overly confident of his own abilities. He and Tyranus were more similar than perhaps either of them realised. At the end of it, the only two who the Warsmith could call polished weapons were the Forge Master and 10th Captain – also, the only two who had been born and bred into the XIXth since the Heresy – surely no coincidence. Even there the Forge Master had some imperfection; a hankering for mortal life that the Warsmith did not care for at all. He did not realise that the inhabitants of the Imperium were not worthy of the sacrifices that the IVth had made seven-thousand years ago, and for presuming to reap the benefits of their hard work they would have to pay.

“Warsmith?” a voice broke Pelegon’s deep thought, and he set down the iron sheet, which he had bent in half again without thinking. A hundred folds would have to be made before he could consider it workable. The Warsmith slicked his hair back with a huge hand; the skin on the palms had hardened to a scarred crust, and with every movement the crust broke and ichor began to seep through. The Warsmith lifted his hand to his face and inhaled; what had once been blood was now much closer to engine fluid, with a rich, organic scent to it that only those most intimate with the workings of an engine would savour.

Pelegon turned to face the one who had spoken, his huge, heavily-muscled form outlined against the bright light of the forge fires. He was hirsute, and despite his height, heavily-built. His hands and forearms were heavily-scarred, but the rest of the marine was devoid of any marr or imperfection, bar the fact that he had no left nipple. The price paid by having to regrow a significant portion of his chest after the Primarch had installed his iron heart.

“What is it, Jurgen?”

The other marine was a member of the Ferra’s permanent crew, and an extremely competent navigator. It would have been beneath his rank normally to act as an errand boy unless the news pertained to his work, and the Warsmith suspected what it was. Jurgen was unflappable, however, and this was not the first time he had had to interrupt the Warsmith while he worked in his personal forge in the heart of the mighty voidship.

“We have just arrived in the Pelexis system, and are four void units from Pelexis III”

The Warsmith nodded, and picked up the now dark red sheet of iron, and, after a moment’s contemplation, set it down. He would leave it to cool slowly.

“Assist me, Jurgen”

The other marine nodded as he approached Pelegon, who moved to the wall, where his suit of armour stood, only one of three. To its left stood the armour he had worn during the Heresy; it no longer fit him, for his stature had increased in the handful of centuries after the battle of Olympia, though Pelegon could not ascertain why. He could still see, in some areas, faint chips of blue paint from when he had once stood in midnight clad. That had been a long time ago indeed.

To the right of his current suit stood the legs of a monstrous suit, and it was obvious to any familiar with the equipment of astartes that they were based on the cataphractii pattern of armour, but built to accommodate Pelegon’s mighty frame. It was only half-complete, but would one day serve as his panoply of war. The Warsmith would equip himself only with that which either he or his father had crafted.

The Warsmith took one of his vambraces in a bloodied hand and slipped it on. Behind him, Jurgen fiddled with the interface ports on the back of his breastplate, ensuring that they fitted smoothly. Now Pelegon would visit that pain upon the inhabitants of Pelexis, and lay low his grandfather’s dogs.

“Jurgen...stop. I will not require my war-plate. Instead, I have something for you to deliver”

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Kunzhardt
The planet below you appears to be green and verdant, and from the data-slate the Warsmith presented you you are aware that its geography and proximity to its sun makes it perfect for agricultural operations. All that is about to change. You sit on the bridge of the Ferra Perpetua, in the Warsmith's throne, the command of the fleet, bar the ships of the 7th and 3rd company, at your disposal for the planetary bombardment. In the bowels of the ancient cruiser the 1st and 2nd companies are ready for deployment, loaded up into drop ships, awaiting for the last shell to finish falling before enacting the plan that the Warsmith has entrusted to you. Pelegon himself is absent, and you know that though this invasion is to be of little challenge to you, being allowed to have such command is a great honour, and symbol of the Warsmith's trust in you. The people below will see the ships in orbit, and will be aware of what is going to happen to them, but with Pelexis' lack of orbital defences, they can do nothing. The entire Grand Company waits only for your order to commence.

Tyranus
With the rest of the Tyranthikos you wait patiently, the teleport homer in your armour primed and awaiting activation from the units that will soon make planetfall. The veterans murmur in low voices, and are not perturbed by the prospect of war. It is their livelihood, and an assault as easy as this should be, mere collection of prisoners, should be no challenge to them. A chance to stretch their muscles after nearly a century of inactivity.

As you watch them converse, awaiting the orders of either Kunzhardt or Pelegon, a marine approaches you. In his Mk IV plate he is warfed by the terminator-armoured giants surrounding him, and his insignia give him away as a member of the Ferra Perpetua's permanent crew. It is one of the navigators, Jurgen, and in his hand he holds a long steel box, with huge clasps that keep it fastened shut. It is the sort of thing usually reserved for the transportation of particularly valuable or delicate equipment, and it the right dimensions to accommodate a sword or rifle of some variety. The navigator hands it over to you, and with the traditional fist-to-palm salute, takes his leave.

You have no idea what this could be; perhaps a symbol from the Warsmith that all is forgiven? With any luck, that is the case. You unhurriedly click the clasps open, and with a hiss the seals on the box are undone, and its top falls away. Inside, its ceramite head gleaming as if freshly-polished, with a shaft of high-grade steel, is a shovel.

Iapetus, Lucian, Lugerev
The Ferra Perpetua's augur systems detected the Fist of Russ behind the second moon of Pelexis II, some twenty-two void units away from Pelexis III. With the fleet's jammers activated, you know that they have no way of communicating with the Wolf's Claw planetside, but will be aware of the XIXth's fleet. Whether they will have established it as a threat is another matter entirely. Your ships have broken away from the main fleet, and are closing in on the moon, and you know that the Space Wolf ship is on the other side of the barren, grey rock.

Adriun
Your techmarines have assembled the tower's constituent parts, and have loaded it onto transport thunderhawks, and are awaiting the order to descend upon the planet to move. You yourself sit in your own personal transport, with a handful of your closest associates by your side. You know that you will be working in tandem with the 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th company to erect the defensive ring around the Wolf's Claw, as well as the slave-pens. Mighty earth-moving macines, diggers and other miscellaneous excavating and construction equipment, designed for the rigours of a IVth legion siege, are loaded onto transporters of their own. It should not take you more than half an hour to have the Mechanicum's assets completely planetside.

Vargus
Your trainees are loaded onto a transport frigate designed specially for the 10th company, as many of the recruits could not survive a standard tactical insertion. They are strapped into seats in the frigate's main hangar, and the frigate is released from the Ferra's huge underbelly in preparation for moving planetside. The digging equipment and machinery is loaded in the hold, and you are aware that this will be the first example of trench work that many of the recruits will see. This may be a good thing, however, as this battle is not expected to be one of any difficulty.

Coeus
You are stood in the Ferra's librarium, poring over the reports that your librarians have sent you from their scannings of the other companies - what do you find there? As you stand, absorbed in your studies, the door hisses open and the Warsmith enters. He is clad in nothing other than a loincloth, and his skin has a dull texture to it; it is clear to you that he was sweating recently, but that it has since dried off. His hair, however, is still damp and plastered back from his face by the weight of the moisture in it.

He holds up a heavily-scarred, partially-scabbed hand, and the others in the librarium, whether librarians themselves or merely adjutants, file out of the door behind him without a sound. As the door slides shut, the Warsmith starts pacing around you, his arms folded across his great broad chest. He circles, and though his dark eyes are locked onto you, he evades all the objects and stark steel furniture within the large chamber.

"Coeus, I have matters that I would discuss with you, on the topics of corruption and purity within the XIXth"

Pelegon stops pacing and turns his back to you, looking out of the viewing port to the planet below.

"I feel that it has been too long since I exerted myself, and would ask that you wrestle with me, as our fathers, and their fathers before them, did on lost Olympia, while we do so. I cannot allow my body to waste while my company goes from strength to strength, and I am sure you feel the same way about yourself"


This update will take us to the next stage of the siege. I expect everyone to have made planetfall and be doing...whatever they have been ordered to do by the 18th, at which point there will be another update.
 

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The remaining time until action went relatively uneventful.

He did enjoy pitting the 1st against the 2nd in training. The 2nd could use a better degree of skill in close combat and the 1st would witness what made the Iron Havocs a force to make men quake with fear. Adruin had not responded to his remarks and thus worried him to a degree. Perhaps he'd already spoken with the Twins and relayed what information had been delivered. It didn't matter now it was too late and the entirety of the XIXth would get a degree of release and pleasure from what was about to happen and Pelegon himself had seen fit to appease the Immovable with the honor of conducting the bombardment from none other than his personal throne.

Kunzhardt stretched his arms out and felt the sensation of absolute power and control such that he had not known in a long time surging through him. The knowledge that he controlled the guns of every ship bar the 7ths private fleet and the 3rds ghost ship, a dry cracked smile broke out over his face as eyes watched the crew aboard the bridge dart around. . . This was what it meant to be the Mechanized Fist, the people down on the forsaken world looking up into the sky seeing their Death hanging seemingly frozen in time before the horror started.

"Commence Phase 1 sustained saturation bombardment. Do NOT touch the Wolve's den. . ."

Colossal guns thundered forth and he felt the thumping even within the bridge, adrenal glands were on overhaul filling his body with that fantastic cocktail. He watched the lush landscape below blister and pop in places as mighty shells that had sat in disuse for seemingly centuries groaning to be used felt their primer strike and lunged from the sky. This was steel rain, this was the might of the Mechanized Fist shattering their sky and bringing ruination. His only regret was that there would be no sweet return fire attempting foolishly to rend their ship apart. The thundering continued for what seemed like hours as dots of brilliant reds and yellows and earthen browns blossomed planet side bringing with it death and blood. He wished he could be there to savor the screams and to revel in the destruction bringing his wrath into the bellies of. . . Unarmed civilians. That fact soured the magnificent explosions and would be a mark against this attack but he had no control over that now.

"Cease fire. . . I take my leave of the Bridge." He paused briefly as the thunderous fire slowed to a halt and on the last shell he cued up a vox caster throughout the Ferra Perpetua. It rolled with fury but within it were undertones of excitement.

"Legionnaires of the XIXth! Commence invasion."

With the order delivered he stepped from Pelegon's place and joined with his personal escorts. Two of the Siege Tyrants that he had cobbled together for an Honor Guard. Each of them could level cities between their Whirlwind Missile Launchers and their Reaper Auto Cannons and could weather untold punishment in Tartaros pattern tactical dreadnought armor. They enforced his will among the company when he was gone and their own fiery passions for excellence almost mirrored his own. They didn't speak when he approached them rather they fell in line and escorted him to his personal Thunderhawk he would be taking to the surface. Why the Warsmith would have him planet side for the second bombardment he couldn't know but it was no mistake.
 

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The WarSmith's navigator strode into the hangar and Tyranus immediately recognized the man by his armor. In his MK IV plate Jurgen maneuvered through the hangar that held the First Company, carrying with him a large metal case, it's proportions perhaps lending it to carrying a weapon of some importance perhaps. Tyranus struck the thought from his mind, Pelegon would not make any such offering especially after their last encounter, still he opened the box, letting out a hiss as the seals were broken. The item was spectacular despite its simplicity, it was a shovel, but Tyranus looked at it in a new light.

Jurgen had already turned on his heels to leave and Tyranus clicked to a private vox to speak to the Ferra's navigator. "Jurgen, would you relay a message to the WarSmith Pelegon?" There was a pause as the man seemed to think over the request. "I shall relay your message First Captain." Tyranus nodded his appreciation "Tell our WarSmith that I had not forgotten my duty in the trenchlines in this campaign and I greatly appreciate the offering of this perfectly wrought shovel, it is perfect for this task. Likewise, I would thank the WarSmith for utilizing the First Company despite my short-sightedness. I shall endeavour to mould myself as iron. Thank you Brother Jurgen." With that he let the vox line shut with a click, the shovel in hand he mag locked it to his back, where it sat next to his power glaive which had its haft collapsed down to about half its fully extended length to facilitate stowing it when not in use for combat. Tyranus knew he was unlikely to see much in the way of glorious combat on this campaign for his own stupidity, and while it still left a bitter taste he held contempt for none but himself. Speaking to his men over the vox link "Tyranthikos, you are at the command of Captain Kunzhardt, glory to the First! Hail Tyranthikos!" The resounding echo came from the First Company, they were all eager for their role, however minor and however fast this campaign would prove to be in the long run of their Grand Company, it would serve as a good warm up exercise for perhaps greater glories to come.

As the precision bombardment came to a halt from their fleet the teleporters lit up, blindingly bright and suddenly they were planetside. The First under command of Kunzhardt went with the Mechanized Fist. Tyranus rendezvoused with the 6th and 10th Companies in trench building, producing his expertly fashioned spade he began to dig. It was work that was not up to the task of his talents, but not beneath him he began to realize. Perhaps he had become too proud, his station as First Captain had lasted for nearly 7 millenia and he had perhaps grown too comfortable, the situation within the Grand Company called for him to be at his sharpest and he nodded his head in acceptance. At the end of these days his armor would need a thorough cleaning, the grime and soot would need to be cleaned out and all the parts would need to be looked after and maintained, from the plates themselves, to the tiniest coupling or servo motor. Like their Grand Company as a whole would need a thorough cleaning he nodded to himself, shoveling the soil of Pelexis III around the Wolf's Keep, the occasional round panged off of the raised earth that began to conceal and protect their positions. No task shall be deemed too small, nor too great an undertaking again.

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The form of Captain Kunzhardt strode towards the thunderhawk as he waited with his hands clasped in front of him. He had waited patiently and was glad that perhaps he might be of some service this day. "Captain Kunzhardt," the giant Kerberos spoke and greeted the three members of 2nd Company with a formal bow and salute. Taller than the Captain and his guardians, despite them wearing Tartaros pattern Terminator plate only furthered the fact that Kerberos was exceptionally large even for an Astartes. His bulk however was slightly less, his customized and modified war plate bestowed only upon a Champion, clearly it took cues from Cataphractii plating in the pauldrons, but its form was far more streamlined, designed to give the wearer mobility as well as enhanced speed necessary for fighting the most challenging of adversaries as was a Champions primary assignment on any battlefield.

"Captain Kunzhardt, as you are our acting commander I wish to uphold my oath as Champion and fight at your side." He did not particularly like Kunzhardt, in fact he found him to be wanting in many characteristics, much like his own Captain. The Mechanized Fist was a flawed leader in many ways, but his men supported him with quite a good deal of fervor and he would be interested to see how the 2nd Company operated on the field of battle.
 

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Adriun was busy with his own thoughts of tinkering and working and the slight pang of disappointment with the slaughter to come, only made slight by selective memory altering.

“Forge Master…” I said, coming alongside the man. I would walk with him, if he was going somewhere. “…although it wasn’t necessary, I appreciate your defence of Lugerev. Kunzhardt seems more irritable of late, and I’m not wholly convinced that it just because of the pressures of command.”

Adriun was not caught off guard by the sudden voice of the Seer, but he had place his presence at the back of his thoughts for the moment, but now he was at attention again.

“If I were you, I would distance yourself from the man for the time being. I would hate to see our Iron Forge brought low by cross-contamination.”

He pondered the Seer's words, he did not like his purist thoughts but obviously Adriun was a much lesser target at the moment. He did not take what the Librarian said as a threat, as he knew of the taint that had been found in the Second. A sad thought, but he pinned it on Kunzhardt's propensity for using Tox and Chem weaponry, such things pleased the Father of Pestilence, maybe a Destroyer couldn't take the voices anymore and caved in. A sad fate, but one that would be met with merciless death, and it was necessary for purity.

"Ah, Coeus, My mind wandered to projects and other processes." He said regarding the Librarian.

“Come with me, we shall head to my workshop aboard the vessel.” He said walking with the Librarian through the halls.

As he walked he invented a parable to describe the factorum and his Mechanicum.

“Do you recall the Iron Oaks of Veretus’ Second moon? That campaign was to reclaim essential weapon tech, and we recovered a lot of Battle Automata and ordinance from some Chaos sect that intended to simply corrupt it. Well we took a single sapling and grew it in similar conditions.” He paused only for effect.

“Like pure iron, its leaves would rust, and if allowed to continue it would ruin the sapling and it would wither, with proper pruning of rusted leaves in branches and cleaning and polish with light oil the plant thrives. This is how I treat those under my command, I look for rust and ‘prune’ and dispose of what is unneeded, I reaffirm the true ways of iron like a placing a coat of oil to prevent rust.” He smirked slightly he cared not whether Coeus liked his parable but it put into nicer words the executions that occurred if any tech was found operating on abnormal parameters and emitting warp signatures, it was rare but it deeply angered him when he found a weapon with a daemon bound to it. However such events were distant memory. The conspirators already found and dead, he knew his Mechanicus was pure now, the last of the Dark Mechanicus infiltrators routed a long time ago, not countable in real space time. It left the Purist Mechanicus smaller though but it was the price to pay.

“What an Ironic little plant, and a terrible world, dreadful oil slick rain. It was undesirable. But rich in resources.” He finished.

The heavy thud of their armored greaves resounded in the hall as they yet again turned down another, only to end up in the personal forge of Adriun.

“I do have a proposal of sorts for some cooperation, the idea came from my Master WarpTek Sophacles, he has been doing research into a cult in the Calixis sector, I do not know if it is something you know about, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you did.”

He paused for effect and pulled up relevant data on his own data slate.

“It is a type of Ward, not similar to those commonly used by the Imperials and others wishing to prevent daemonic and psychic incursions, however this one generates a fairly potent null field when applied to an object or surface. Sophacles cannot perform rituals to make it work, it ironically needs some psychic input to activate, and he has modified it somewhat to not only create this null field but to banish daemons and their energies if applied to something that is possessed.”

He let the implications sink in, it opened up new avenues to recovering corrupted tech and reversing the damage, this would be especially useful in recovering Dreadnaughts that became hellbrutes, they could be repaired and the inert flesh removed and made into a suitable machine to inter a damaged marine.

“I find it to be profitable if this can be studied and perfected, and then all kinds of tech that we lost to corruption have a chance at cleansing and being reclaimed.”

He paused he also wondered at its effects on Daemon engines, forced to cast of their daemonic energies they would probably no longer function, and maybe their weapons could be examined to see if their was anything useful. Or to convert the husks into Battle Automata of a bestial nature, it was an interesting concept, but would be the least prioritized.

Before Coeus could answer he heard ship sirens calling the Ships forces to prepare for departure, and he needed to ready his forces, they would exit the warp sooner or later, he would have to save this discussion for later, they both had busy schedules it would seem.

“Well Seer, We will have to finish this discussion later it seems, I must prepare my forces.” He said and gave a thudded salute and left.

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In the Hangar all of the Machines were loaded up in their drop ships and he oversaw it all, like perfectly interlocking cogs in a machine they proceeded perfectly. He now saw to his forces they would be bringing planetside. It was quite the sight to see, all the Massive Battle Automata preparing for leave, His tech Marines in groups handling the heavy machinery, they wouldn’t be deploying Krios Tanks of the Mechanicus this time but to protect the trenches their would be 30 Triptychs of Thanatar Siege Automata, and in the trenches assisting as well as being ready to take on any wolves foolish enough to come into the meat grinder they would be preparing would be 40 Maniples of Castellax Battle-Automata with variable loadouts, and to defend the spire and final line would be 100 squads of Thallax Cohorts, being 5 man squads.

He saw them all loaded up, he himself would be in a Squad of Tech Marines, and have his Left Hand Advisor Furthuum as his ranged heavy support and Eryx the Master Architect and his Fort Breaker Thunder Hammer. They would be directly around the Spire, and assemble it then await further Orders.

Adriun boarded his drop ship with his two chosen commanders and a squad of lower ranked tech marines each with their chosen equipment. He nodded to them both and stood ready as the vessel closed its hatches. He tapped the pommel of his sword and latched his combat shield to his arm, his serpenta pistol in its holster. Each of his Mechadendrites had a Hellgun attached except for one that had a meltagun. He also brought various tools for field work and repair and construction of the spire.

Eryx stood in his heavily modified Mk II armor, Its strange aesthetics, with the stabilizers on his power pack replaced with Column like Cells with intricate Capitols, housing power cells for his micro-Automantic Shields. His armor was artful in its design, fitting the eccentric marine, who hefted a Thunder hammer, its head shaped like a column as well with Intricate Capitols for the flat impact areas, an Iron Warriors Skull centered on the column.

He stood in stark contrast to Furthuum’s massive Gorgon Pattern Terminator armor, and his multiple weapon ports for mounted an array of heavy weapons. He crunched his twin power fists in anticipation, looking around with both his cybernetic eye, and his only biological one. He had chosen a long range load out of two Reaper Auto-cannons one mounted under each arm, at his sides, on a retractable rail should he need to free up his fists for close assault, each shoulder mounted a Lascannon and finally a Cyclone Missile launcher in the middle. This Mobile weapon platform of an Astartes was assisted by a plethora of mechadendrites to load and maintain his multiple weapon systems.

They were ready and it would not be too soon either as the tell tale voice of Kunzhardt, as well as the cease-fire, signaled that it was time for the assault. He was a bit saddened by the lack of Loakk at his side; he enjoyed fighting beside him, comparing his blade’s tally with the Genetor’s claws. It would be for another time. The fleet of drop ships took off for the surface.

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The Surface was a hell for their enemies, while the fort lay untouched by the orbital guns, the rest of the planet did not have the same fate, he saw the burning in the distance, the smoke that slowly filled the skies from the iron death that came from above. The Automata and servitors were every where assisting in building the trenches, and the Thanatar Siege Automata were placed in entrenched positions to provide plasma death volleys when the Wolves finally came. If they decided to assault the fort they could also be used to fire over the walls, but for now they were to goad the dogs from their den.

The Massive form of the spire was coming to be as Eryx bellowed in baritone some opera that he had never heard of. The Spire would be finished assembling within minutes, they had begun construction since landing, and the Castellax and other large Servitors had helped in the assembly, and Adriun directed it all with Eryx, while Furthuun saw to positioning the rest of the Battle Automata in the trenches and ordering the Thrallax Cohorts around to defend the spire.

“So much death, was it necessary…” He said mostly to himself as the final pieces of the spire were fit and welded into place, gun fire a constant drum in the background, the Wolf fort retaliating at its approaching demise. He looked to the data-slate the Kunzhardt’s marine had delivered earlier, and read it. The message piqued his interest, he was like-minded for it, and hoped to prevent any future troubles, but just in case it was good to have some allies. The state of the Second Company worried him immensely though, he detested cults, and a nurgle infestation was most alarming because it could spread even to those who despised the dark gods. However he would not let that impede relations with the Second Captain. He deleted the messages contents and stored relevant data in his cogitator.

Adriun walked over to the spire and activated the conveyor, it worked as it should. For the most part the spire was done, but Eryx would handle finishing touches as well as form a defensive perimeter around it. He wondered at its purpose still.

He hopped on the vox and added a tri-layered custom encryption and then contacted the Captain of the Second, Kunzhardt the Immovable.

“Second Captain, This is Adriun, I received your request, I have contacted you on an encrypted vox, or we can discuss this in person near the spire, or after the battle. Your choice, Brother Kunzhardt.” He offered, as he lifted up his combat shield and deflected a stray round.
 

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The destruction of a world was an awe inspiring site. The charred soil blackened and encrusted with fallen foes ground into it like an ant beneath a mighty boot. The thought excited the second captain as he walked into the hangar only to have his enjoyable thoughts interrupted by a foreign soul colossal in height. Where Kunzhardt stood slightly shorter than the average astartes the figure clad in incredible custom cataphractii armour stood at least a head if not two over him but was much more slender. The figure's 1st company origin stood out and was recognized as Tyranus' personal champion. He searched for the name briefly before acknowledging him.

"Kerberos."

Whispered more so to himself.

"Very Well, Kerberos. Embark with me. Let us to the surface."

Normally he would have taken a bit more pleasure in taking a Champion from another company as a spoil of war however presently he could do little in the way of trust with others and the most prized fighter of another company was not something he would take lightly. The way of bats was not an honorable one and honeyed words could hide sharp thorns.

He positioned himself opposite Kerberos within the thunderhawk encased in a defensive perimeter of Siege Tyrants. He held a total of 8 within his company and they were with him now. Likely he wouldn't be foolish enough to try something but he was well versed in the prowess that the Tyranthikos carried in close combat and a champion from that group would be no slouch.

"Tell me Kerberos. What do you think of the investigation Coeus is conducting? This. . . Spot within my company. . . This mark that I will erase. . . My concern is that the second are Unbroken. We hear the whispers like all within the Eye yet just like the hail of heavy bolter fire it drowns out behind Unbroken willpower. . . And yet the zealous purists within the Librarium who openly oppose me conveniently find taint where they want to. The only company within the XIXth that actively consorts with warp powers. . . Does this strike you as curious?"

Kunzhardt spoke of the taint in his company with colossal disdain. It was an embarrassment to him and to those under his command and it shamed him worse than anything he'd experienced for centuries. A misfire, an inaccurate barrage, all things reprehensible but only a scorn would be necessary. Taint was an entirely different matter and it tortured him internally. He was prodding the champion who was Iron much like himself and would likely speak plainly his mind. It might give him a better view of what was going on within the 1st Company. The ship jolted roughly as it broke through the atmosphere and engaged with a standard flight path for their established landing zone.

"This is the only place that truly makes sense. Take a deep breath can you smell it? The smoke, the ash, the stench of gun powder? This is the simplest place in existence. No petty politics, Just fire and iron, blood and wrath - a test between two forces. No wizardry or witchcraft just might. This is the most meditative experience an Iron Warrior can enjoy."

He shifted forward slightly his chest filling with pride over what was to come. This was where he truly shined. This was his domain. The hushed whispers could only do so much and couldn't compare to the might of a Grand Company falling from the sky. His mechanized fist crashing down into the ground like the XIXth own salute of a closed fist into an open palm.

"Kerberos does the beauty of conquering a planet ever fade?"

The door to the Thunderhawk dropped down and the stench of the battle rang to life and it was like his lungs reached twice their normal capacity and filled with a long forgotten vitality. The keep glistened in the distance, a pure gem glistening against a charred landscape. Countless tracer rounds danced across the sky pinging against the castle keeping the heads of the would be defenders thoroughly pinned.

"Launch IR smoke! Cover the Fort with it I want them blind! Maintain suppressive bursts and a thick layer of smoke at all times!"

Blackened soil crunched beneath heavy Mark III boots as he watched arching streams of smoke land within the keep popping and filling the Keep with smoke like a boiling cauldron. His own helmet echoed with a foreign voice. The Forge Lord had bridged a communication with him. It was comforting to hear his voice considering the events that were transpiring. It had worried him earlier when his own Adrius had failed to bring him the message but perhaps the tech priest had wanted to think it over before committing. He didn't really want to talk in hushed tones now. He was in his element, the grinding mulcher of a siege. It was nothing glorious -he'd engineered sieges that would make this look like a fresh lieutenant within the Imperial Guard taking pleasure in a 98% casualty success. Still it brought with it the hopes of sustained conquest.

"Yes, Forge Lord. I would speak directly with you. I trust you saw the contents of my message. We have a limited window prior to the joining of the Centurions before the Warsmith once more. What is your mind on the matter? I would not seek to fracture the XIXth but it may not be my choice. The purists would rather incinerate the entirety of the XIXth Grand Company to preserve a handful of pure bloods than to simply embrace the present situation. You will be a target eventually if their conspiracy should be realized."
He spoke of the Grand Company with great intonation hoping to emphasis the force they yielded and the bizarre idea of purging it for an ill perceived notion. It was ironic considering it was what he was considering doing with his own company to root out the corruption and the irony did not fail him. He had little proof of the conspiracy should anyone demand it but it was little secret that the purists despised those not from the charred world or with the Daemon Prince Primarch's blood running through their veins and after the events that Adruin had witnessed earlier it would not be farfetched to consider something more sinister was afoot.

"I would tighten our already Iron bond. You would have full access to whatever technology my forces uncover. . . On any world. And my ear will be open to requests to seek out forgotten technology from the Dark Age of Technology."
 

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"Very Well, Kerberos. Embark with me. Let us go to the surface," Captain Kunzhardt spoke plainly as if he had been somewhat put out by Kerberos' request. In some ways he had been, to deny such a request of a Company Champion could be seen as a mark against the Company he represented. Furthermore, when given the opportunity to add the skills of such a warrior to a retinue it almost went without question that such a warrior be welcomed. These were however difficult and straining times within the XIXth. Kerberos merely nodded his acknowledgement of the 2nd Captain's acceptance and silently fell into line with the Siege Tyrants at the side of Captain Kunzhardt. His movements were so fluid and well drilled that were it not for the variance in his armor and the markings upon his pauldrons he could have passed as a long time member of the retinue.

"Tell me Kerberos. What do you think of the investigation Coeus is conducting? This. . . Spot within my company. . . This mark that I will erase. . . My concern is that the second are Unbroken. We hear the whispers like all within the Eye yet just like the hail of heavy bolter fire it drowns out behind Unbroken willpower. . . And yet the zealous purists within the Librarium who openly oppose me conveniently find taint where they want to. The only company within the XIXth that actively consorts with warp powers. . . Does this strike you as curious?" The voice of Kunzhardt came from within a wall of Siege Tyrants, donning Tartaros pattern terminator plate. The wall of terminators surrounding their lord. He could read in their positioning that he was not perceived as simply an additional blade to be directed on the battlefield, they were wary of his intent, and the prying questions of the 2nd Captain revealed some proof to that line of thought.

The statuesque Champion took a long moment, collecting his thoughts and opinions on the matter, perhaps seeking the words that would lend themselves best to neutrality. However, when the man spoke, his voice was low, but he was almost soft spoken, as if he knew he did not need to yell or parade about with theatrics to be heard. "If there is any taint within our Grand Company it must be snuffed out, regardless of its origin." He looked to the Captain, his helm masked his visage, but their was sincerity in his tone, he was being truthful when he said any taint should be cut out and dispatched. "Whatever The Seer finds, it is his realm of expertise, but that is perhaps the problem...A man who associates so intimately with The Warp may begin to see it, or even unknowingly bring it upon that around himself. Strong of will as our Librarians are...They claim mastery over powers that have infinitely more time and experience." He stared at Kunzhardt as if to add additional impact to his statements. " I trust no warp touched wizard for I have seen them fail. Whatever the decree of our WarSmith though, I shall enact it in so far as I can." There was a weight to his tone that was clear, he would follow the WarSmith of the XIXth.

The ship rocked as they broke the atmosphere of Pelexis III and the 2nd Captain began to boast. "This is the only place that truly makes sense. Take a deep breath can you smell it? The smoke, the ash, the stench of gun powder? This is the simplest place in existence. No petty politics, Just fire and iron, blood and wrath - a test between two forces. No wizardry or witchcraft just might. This is the most meditative experience an Iron Warrior can enjoy."

"This is the most meditative experience for any who would call himself an Astartes," he called back, standing closest to the hatch that flung open as they hovered. Leaping onto the surface of Pelexis III the charred and tattered remains of the planet kicked up under his weight in the form of dust from the craggy and now barren surface. "Captain Kunzhardt it is secured!" the massive warrior called, looking up to the hatch that the Captain and his retinue stood in the precipice of. Being first out of the ship would possibly irritate the 2nd Captain, a man who was known to be prideful and seek too much meaning in too little of a slight. For Kerberos it was simply due diligence to be the first into the fray to secure any path for his acting Captain. He drew his massive relic sword, the power field glowed black from the null rod forged and fused into the lower portion of the blade, the superbly keen edges of the blade wreathed in a more typical blue power field. He would eschew the use of his bolter for this mission unless absolutely necessary or directly ordered by Captain Kunzhardt. He hoped he might meet a champion of the Wolf's Claw and face at least one worthy challenger this campaign, perhaps taking a vaunted space wolf axe or frost blade as a trophy of his kill.
 

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I could feel the Ferra Perpetua tremble beneath my feet as Kunzhardt blasted the mewling wretches below to sweet oblivion. Iapetus would have had a command for me if I had been fighting in this stage of the campaign, but no sooner had the sirens called Adriun away from me that another shrill voice barked in my vox and told me that Pelegon had denied me a place in the siege at this early stage, his concerns about the purity of the Grand Company more important than my desire to spill loyalist blood. In fairness, maintaining what mangled scraps of purity the Grand Company could claim was one of my highest priorities, but it seemed a waste to be dragged on a mission that seemed to have no consequence only to be side-lined. Still, it would give me time to formulate my next moves, rather than forming them on little more than instinct, hot readings and precognition.

The Librarium aboard the Ferra Perpetua was smaller than the one on Medrengard, the more exotic and less frequently referenced tomes stored there. Almost everything in this Librarium was a copy of an original, hand-copied by myself or one of the other members of the Librarium in a practice of scholarly devotion incongruous with the bulk of the Grand Company’s work. However, for now, it was mostly quiet. My subordinates were all scattered to their respective companies, many of them having only just compiled their initial reports. I poured over them as the serfs went about their business, scouring tomes for glints of knowledge that a librarian might extract or recording the actions of the Grand Company.

I had sent a message to Iapetus, explaining that Pelegon had with-held me from the initial stages of the invasion in order to compile a report for him on the results of my investigation. As such, the bulk of my attention was focused on the reports and what I would do with such information, a small section of my brain toyed with Adriun’s proposition. Sophacles had given him an interesting task, which Adriun had dutifully relayed to me and now I was not sure what to do with such an offer. Of course the technology, if harnessed, would prove to be immensely valuable to the Grand Company as a whole. However, there were other implications of his offer.

The ability to rapidly generate null fields could protect from the touches of the warp, which included myself, and given how happy Adriun was to share his technology with Kunzhardt the last thing I needed was the half-breed’s company devising a way to shield their taint from me. I could devise a way to break the seal, but then that would defeat the objective which Adriun was trying to achieve. Daemons were insidious things and if I could devise a back-door, certainly the most powerful daemons would be able to find it. Adriun’s purpose was pure at heart and one I could admire, but I feared what it might mean if such technology was widely available. I would need to think on this more.

I was aware of Pelegon’s approach before the door had opened. It was like feeling a fortress walk towards me. The door hissed open and rolled away. “Greetings Warsmith.” I said, turning to face Pelegon as he entered the Librarium. By stench of him and the state of his appearance, I surmised that he had been working in his personal forge recently. A single gesture with his mauled hand sent the serfs scattering into the halls and we were left alone. Pelegon began pacing, although I perceived not with malcontent or hunger but with thoughtful inquiry in his steps. His eyes kept locked on me as he paced.

His steps kept him clear of the several objects cluttering the room although his gaze never wandered from me. Was he testing his powers of perception? Or was it a mental exercise? Pelegon, for all our irreconcilable disagreements, was a thoughtful man usually and I knew he would speak when he was ready. "Coeus, I have matters that I would discuss with you, on the topics of corruption and purity within the XIXth" I had figured as much, although I held any sardonic remarks back.

Pelegon ceased his pacing and turned to face the viewing port, currently filled with the crumbling, fiery ruins of a once noble Imperial world and hundreds of attack craft swooping down to put the rest of it to the sword. "I feel that it has been too long since I exerted myself, and would ask that you wrestle with me, as our fathers, and their fathers before them, did on lost Olympia, while we do so. I cannot allow my body to waste while my company goes from strength to strength, and I am sure you feel the same way about yourself" I nodded approvingly. It would be good to engage in another of Olympia’s traditions on the eve of battle.
“I will obliged Warsmith, but only so clothed as yourself.”

With that I began to remove my armour. I could do it mentally, but it gave me time to ask questions doing it by hand. “You seem particularly concerned about the purity of the Grand Company, and keener to see it enforced. Whilst I do not condone such an approach, I must ask; why now? Why this sudden haste?” Pelegon remained stoic as he answered.
“Our next mission comes with an increased risk of temptation and taint…” I wondered if I would have to bleed him for information, the Warsmith being sometimes deliberately obtuse and secretive about his information. No doubt Lucian’s influence. However, as I removed my chest plate he continued. “…We are going to destroy a warband of Word Bearers known as Blooded Crescent.”

I had not particular affinity for Lorgar’s heathen brood, despite how informative their tomes on daemonology were. Although, if we were fighting against those silver tongued snakes I could understand why Pelegon was more wary than normal. If there were a band of warriors capable of exploiting the weaknesses in the will of men and Astartes, it was the Word Bearers.
“Presumably your concern is they will be able to exploit any ***** in our wills and turn us into their slave-beasts.” Pelegon nodded knowingly.
“We will be fighting them on their cathedral world of Seriphea. Their honeyed lies will be more potent for the attention their worship brings them in that place.”

I agreed and donned my robe, setting my armour to one side and pushing the furniture and obstructions to the side with a thought.
“You are right to be cautions Warsmith...” I could tell him the other thoughts I had and other possibilities that might lead men astray, even without the Word Bearer’s influence. But Pelegon trusted me to know and to deal with them. If he appreciated them was largely unimportant. It also didn’t answer the question that still hung over the whole situation. “…but why? What do we stand to gain from decimating such a brood of vipers?” Pelegon’s face twitched into a brief smile.

“Perturabo ordered it done.” Was that smile pride? Pride that a low born Olympian had been graced by their Father’s presence rather than me, whose family had always been at the side of the Lord of Iron. Or was it simple pride of a son being trusted by his father? In any case, from his tone it was clear that Pelegon did not feel that any further justification of their mission was necessary or relevant to my safe-guarding of the Grand Company. “Does that satisfy you Coeus?” It wasn’t really a question I could say no to, but I didn’t need to.
“Aye Warsmith. Would you like my initial findings now or…”
“No…” Pelegon said cutting me off “…First, we will test our iron against each other. Then you will tell me what you have learnt.” I nodded and dropped into a low crouch as Pelegon adopted a similar position.
“As you say Warsmith.”

Wrestling was less about brute strength than it was about the technique one used. The smallest fighter, with the correct technique, could easily beat the biggest lumbering brute. Me, Iapetus and several other Olympians had taken part in such sport as children and in the legion. For me, it proved a useful exercise in my raw abilities as a combatant. My powers were impressive, but meant nothing if not also coupled with skill at arms and brute strength. As such, I made a point of never actively engaging my powers in such matches. Occasional perceptions would leak through my intentional blindness, but such things could not be helped. For the best part, this was as close to fighting as a ‘normal’ Astartes as I would ever get.

Whilst I could easily best men larger than myself, Pelegon was blessed with not only a massive physique, and the additional strength it afforded him, but also a skill and dexterity that had allowed him to rise to his position. Whatever faults he had, he had not gotten here by mere accident. But I had not risen to command by blind luck either. We had both crouched as low as we could and spread our feet wide apart to create a solid base for ourselves. We circled each other for a few seconds before slamming into each other with the wet slap of skin contact, both gripping the other’s shoulders. I could crouch lower, but Pelegon had more strength than I did. We briefly pushed and pulled at each other before breaking apart.

This happened twice more, us coming together before breaking apart. Testing the other’s strength and evaluating his weaknesses. The fourth time we collided, we stayed locked together. We had grown confident enough in each other’s abilities to actually try to win. Pelegon began by trying to drive me down to my knees with sheer brute force, but I used his force to rotate us around. As we spun I lashed out at his legs, but he hopped over my kick to his shins.

I felt myself lean into a throw I hadn’t realised was coming. Both of us were sent rolling along the floor, both fighting to be the one to remain in control. We briefly came apart but I was the first to retaliate. Neither of us bothered to stand. I simply dived at Pelegon, low as I could manage and aiming for the softer lower belly rather than the ribcage. It should have been enough to knock him over and I could try to get a hold on him. Unfortunately, even my full body weight was not enough to shift Pelegon. Improvising I grabbed him in a bear hug and fought to lift him.

As I did this though, Pelegon reached forward and grabbed my waist. He lifted me over his shoulder. The angle meant I was forced to release him or have my arms dislocated. The moment I had let go I came crashing down onto the metal floor, the impact knocking the wind from me. Before I could recover Pelegon had a knee on my sternum and a hand on my neck. It was a situation I could escape in a mortal situation, but the rules established long ago meant that I had lost. I tapped the floor with my palm and Pelegon released me, his chest hiking almost as much as mine after the exertion.

I caught my breath as I stood, my head briefly swimming. Pelegon seemed satisfied with this mild combat and waited expectantly for me to tell him of my findings. I walked over to the table with my data-slate on it, moving the furniture back into position as I did so.
“Whenever you are ready Coeus.” Pelegon said, although such a phrase was the antithesis of its true meaning.
“These are only the initial findings of the last 36 hours, and they are only for the companies present. I left a detachment back on Medrengard to investigate the 4th and 5th companies, although word of their progress will come much later.” Pelegon nodded and motioned that I should continue.

“Starting with the 10th, they appear to be free of taint and malcontent. I’m sure Vargus could tell you that they are still impressionable and undergoing psycho-indoctrination. However, whatever taint ails the other companies, their separation from the main body has spared them from the attention of those who might corrupt the initiates...” I wandered and gesticulated as I spoke, my gaze flitting between Pelegon and the data-slate in front of me.

“The 9th Company seems similarly free of taint. The 8th had a few individual battle brothers who refused my librarians access to their chambers or their minds. Each of them had built small fanes in their quarters, although further investigation showed that they didn’t know of each other’s presence or allegiances. They have been purged and I still have librarian’s investigating whether further taint lies there.”

Next was Iapetus’ company. This would likely be a sticking point for Pelegon, whether I had found taint in my brother’s company and if not, why. “Then we have the 7th. As of yet, we have found no taint there. I have briefly inspected a large portion of Iapetus’ men and did not find anything of note…” I could still feel Pelegon scrutinising this. He doubted me, I felt. “…Whilst this only my Librarium’s initial findings, the fact that the 7th are host to over twice the librarians of any other company at any given time, it would not surprise me if the final result proved to only confirm the absence of taint in their midst.” Pelegon seemed to be thinking about this information for a moment, weighing my words against his own concerns about whether my results could be trusted.

Once again he motioned that I should continue, although we both paced now, thinking as we walked. “The 6th shows no evidence of chaotic taint, although there was a coup uncovered by several veteran sergeants to depose one of the lieutenants. Captain Bahran had them stripped of their rank and flogged. Now the 3rd…” What did I say about the 3rd. From the looks of things, this was an area of the investigation I might have to be personally involved in at some point. “…they remain as enigmatic as ever. Whilst that is of great use in their line of work, it makes the process of investigating them significantly more difficult. I would tentatively state that thus far we see no evidence of taint, but I will need more time to confirm or deny whether a brood of vipers lays in waiting.” Not that that mongrel’s tainted company wasn’t already full of asps. The trick was discovering if they meant harm to our foes or to us.

Now we came to the cause of this debacle. “Now we come to the 2nd Company, where this all began. My librarians believe they have identified a further 4 of the 6 remaining conspirators. Two are battle brothers, one is a sergeant and another is a veteran sergeant. However, they have not moved against them yet for fear of scattering the other two, whom I am told they believe may occupy even higher positions of authority. They are also investigating those who they have dealings with in other companies, and evaluating the risk of cross-contamination. Which brings us to the Tyranthikos. There are…whispers of things. My librarians are not yet sure if it is taint, a coup in waiting or simple animosity.”

“However, there is another matter which has been brought to my attention because it concerns my librarians, and it concerns me.” Now, this especially had to be handled carefully. “Kunzhardt keeps his men in perpetual war, always bleeding one another, always keeping the blood flowing. He himself if prone to erratic outbursts, which of late have increased in frequency and violence. After the briefing he nearly slew Lugerev in the corridor for acting on my orders to purge a tainted man from his midst. He then returned to his company and put his enquiry in the Apothecarion, beaten nearly to death.” I paused. This could not be seen a direct attack, merely as an observation of my investigation.

“It is possible that such a constant state of blood-letting draws unwanted attention, either by accident or by design. If it is by accident, then a perpetual state of threat and death is bound to wear away at the wills of men. However, if such a scenario is engineered by design, then it would speak of a greater sickness within Kunzhardt himself.” Pelegon took this information with impassive acknowledgement. Hopefully he saw it for an observation, one which could be a benign accident or one with a more sinister motive.

“Unfortunately, Vhalos was not the only one brutalised before we broke into real space. Tyberus…” Even before the Warsmith I could not call him his false name “…wounded and then had his men kill Draxus. You remember him, the one with the slowest trigger finger when you ordered the Night Lord slain? Arguably the most loyal to the 1st captain and, from what I gather, also served as his enquiry of sorts. Now he is dead, and why?” I stopped speaking and played a vox clip one of my librarians had taken. Tyberus’ voice filled the room.
“This man, he has betrayed each and every one of you my loyal brothers, it pains me, but he has betrayed us all.” That was sheer gold.

I let the silence hang for a moment before continuing. “Now I ask you Warsmith, what significant action occurred between Draxus being a trusted member of the Tyranthikos to being branded a traitor…” Pelegon scowled, evidently wanting me to get to the point. He could forgive my theatre to a point and it was approaching its end. “…My librarians had not interrogated him yet, although initial light probing of him revealed no obvious taint. His battle record is exemplary. The only action he was guilty of was obeying your orders, and for that Tyberus felt he had to die...” The Night Lord might have just given me enough rope to hang him with. “…you asked me to report to you with any signs of malcontent, and I observe the precursors to such things in these actions.”

I wasn’t done yet though. “Individually, the events of the 1st and 2nd company may seem unconnected, and they may well be. However if you or I felt our actions were under investigation and we wanted to conceal them, likely the first thing we would do is remove those who knew too much and ally ourselves with those too powerful to remove but had just as much to lose. So when I hear of events like these, enquiries savaged and reports of private meetings between the 1st and 2nd captains, I become suspicious.” More so than I already was of the half-breeds.

“Now of course, a few scattered events don’t make a conspiracy. As I said though, these are the findings of my initial reports. I will need more time and more evidence to either confirm such a thing or put it to bed. But it would be remiss of me to not warn you of potential threats that I saw.” I ran my tongue over my teeth with my lips closed. “As for the Apothecarion and the Forge, both appear to be free of taint, although the bulk of my resources have been directed at investigating the fighting companies of the Grand Company. I also have not investigated any captain personally, yet.” There was a lot of information to digest in my report but Astartes, especially those in command of entire Grand Companies, were well versed in absorbing vast swathes of data. I ceased looking at my data slate, it falling to my side. I focused instead on Pelegon, expecting questions about my report and possibly whether or not is could be trusted…
 

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It didn't take long for the Second Captain to reply, the line was secure and the signal crisp, he stood near the spire as Kunzhardt spoke his piece.

"Yes, Forge Lord. I would speak directly with you. I trust you saw the contents of my message. We have a limited window prior to the joining of the Centurions before the Warsmith once more. What is your mind on the matter? I would not seek to fracture the XIXth but it may not be my choice. The purists would rather incinerate the entirety of the XIXth Grand Company to preserve a handful of pure bloods than to simply embrace the present situation. You will be a target eventually if their conspiracy should be realized."

Adriun listened as he tweaked with components in the spire, welding and connecting wires to the engines within, and making sure that the conveyor would work properly. As he worked he looked out to the fort, wondering when the wolves would show, or if they would continue to cower in their box. It was no mystery to the forge lord that he could end up a target, but neither did he wish to make himself one early. He felt the only thing that kept him in favor with the Purists was that their were 'worse' mutts than he, he at least had Iron Warrior gene-seed. It was sad though that any should be judge by such a petty thing, however he felt Pelegon would see to the end of such opinions over time, it would be a slow death for the ideal of Olympian purity, but one that would eventually be snuffed out.

"I would tighten our already Iron bond. You would have full access to whatever technology my forces uncover. . . On any world. And my ear will be open to requests to seek out forgotten technology from the Dark Age of Technology."

This peaked his interest though, he could ally himself while maintaining a secure position with all the Companies of the Grand Company, and yet get the benefits of an alliance. He smiled inwardly at the proposition. "Well I see your point and I agree, we who would be judged wanting in the Eyes of Olympian Purists should band together." He agreed but he had more to add.

"I don't know of any Plans beyond their obvious distaste, and I for one believe their prejudice can easily be beaten by proving one's Iron in an undoubtable manner, through skill and iron of will. This of course is more easily said than done, but it will work in the long run. However if their ever should be a time where they openly tried to eliminate opposition, I would gladly stand by you. For now though we must focus inward, because like it or not sons of nurgle have been found in your company, and I know it pains you as it would shame me just as much."

He paused he knew where his words tread, but he was trying to be wise about this. He knew the Second Captain would do the same, but he found the Immovable's anger to be troubling if it were to burst again at a bad time. He finished up with the conveyor engine he was tweaking and sealed the panels shut. He stepped out of the Spire's Shadow and looked out to the trenches as they were dug out, looking at the large smoke screen that the Second captain had put up.

"We must continue cooperation with the Purists companies, they are still our brother's, as deluded as they are. They will not strike any time soon, it would be the end of the company and they know it. I would fear that this pursuit of purity may become something worse for them if they decided on open purging, it would certainly please the warp gods that such a 'perfection' was being sought, or the blood being shed may please another. I just don't see such an event as not having consequences for them as well, I doubt their iron will would remain unrusted as the Iron Warrior way is an ideal and not a planet's heritage." He finished with his final comments on the matter.

"We shall remain in our Iron bond but we should also maintain as strong a bond if not stronger with the company as a whole. Anyways, I wish you luck in your overseeing of the....slave corralling..... with the first. I had thought we would not stoop so low as slaves, but Pelegon must know something we don't, he always does."

He felt like scratching his beard, a habit of his, but he did not wish to remove his helmet with stray rounds careening through the air, even with his Reductor field, it was better that a low velocity round impacted armor rather than flesh. He walked over to several Thrallax Cohorts and began ordering them around, getting them in positions around the spire. He also saw to the pouring of Rockcrete to make cover and a small bunker from which to have a small command center. Mostly having these buildings done to keep them all busy, he knew that neophytes were present, and it was best to give them a taste of every facet of entrenching and fortification.
 

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So. In his rage Tyranus had slain a member of the Tyranthikos, and for no other reason than that he had followed the Warsmith's orders. The librarian could see the muscles in Pelegon's face clench at the news, his neck becoming increasingly vascular as the ancient warrior contained himself. He slicked a few stray hairs back from his forehead, and his great roofbeam shoulders sagged momentarily, but otherwise he gave nothing away.

As the librarian spoke, the Warsmith became increasingly unresponsive; of course he took in the information, but digested each bite with less and less pleasure as the report carried on. A weak, corrupted company that had appeared pristine - Iron whose exterior remained untouched, but whose heart had been eaten away by rust. That would have been manageable, perhaps, but a potentially usurping First Captain was a matter that could not be ignored. Though Pelegon processed the rest of the report, the matter of Tyranus stayed at the forefront of his mind. It was a bitter combination of disappointment and anger.

Of course, it was not a full betrayal, but the First Captain's actions had a traitor's taint to them. To usurp the Warsmith's command in such a way could not be tolerated. Pelegon felt no sorrow for the slain Draxus, but the ideal he represented. A loyal warrior, who had done as his Warsmith had asked him - and it had cost him his life for no reason beyond the Night Lord's insecurity. They would have losses enough in the upcoming war without tearing themselves apart from the inside. The fool.

"Perhaps I would have called you a liar, Coeus" the Warsmith growled, now pacing around the room again, all those thoughts and more now set aside "looking to further your purist agenda by purging my Grand Company of foreign blood. I do not think that you could accuse me of paranoia had I postulated that"

Pelegon ceased pacing, and turned to face the psyker; he could not smell the rich stink of fear on Coeus, and that was another nail in Tyranus' coffin. Had he been lying, Pelegon would have known. There would have been a giveaway, a tell, some sign...whether tone of voice, glint of eye or chemical taint of sweat, a lie would not have passed under Pelegon's eye. The voice recording served only to reinforce that opinion. Whatever information Coeus was presenting, he was confident of its veracity. This would also serve only to strengthen the growing schism between the purist and foreign elements of the XIXth - proving the twins right, as it were. But - the Warsmith realised - something could be salvaged from this situation. He was confident of Kunzhardt's loyalty to the XIXth - selfless, even, to a large degree, and now the 2nd Captain could prove it.

"Kunzhardt" the Warsmith tapped the microbead in his ear, and waited a moment while it patched through to the ship's transmitter arrays, before being beamed to the surface below on a frequency that only the 2nd Captain could receive. Each of his commanders had their own receiving setting, to ensure some degree of privacy between them and the Warsmith.

"My lord" came the reply, a little distorted; the barrages would have thrown ash clouds up in the air, which would, in time, induce an artificial winter over Pelexis. For the time being, all they did was serve to make communications somewhat less clear, though the sophisticated arrays that the XIXth had at their disposal served to minimize this.

"The First Captain, henceforth to be referred to as Tyberus, has shown himself to be inadequate. You are to apprehend and disarm him; strip him of his armour and weapons and keep him detained, awaiting my arrival planetside. Iron Within"

Before Kunzhardt could reply, Pelegon disconnected and pulled the microbead from his ear, and crushed it between forefinger and thumb, rolling the shards around between leathery, scarred digits.

"Coeus...do not take what I did as a sign that I trust you, but as a recognition of the quality of your work. I will conduct an investigation of my own among the Tyranthikos, and if you spoke truth - and I cannot see how that is not the case - an example will be made of Tyberus. Armour yourself, we will journey planetside together. If your proclamation is the one to send the man to his death, I expect you to look him in the eyes as the sentence is passed"

Looking somewhat more pensive than before, Pelegon took his leave, his movements as graceful as they had been upon entry, but now somewhat more strained. The wrestling had loosened him up, as all good exercise did, but the librarian's information had truly been surprising. It was, perhaps, mostly because it was such a pathetic thing for him to kill Tyranus over. A true coup would have been somewhat more satisfying. Not this almost passive-aggressive lack of self control.
 

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The champion took out before him thumping into the surface causing a small kick of dust.

"Captain Kunzhardt it is secured!"

The Captain's boots hit the soil no more than a quarter second afterward. He didn't particularly mind it. This was a battle environment and regardless of how meaningless it was should always be treated as such. He moved to the 1st Champion's flank and marched forward. He was still involved with Adruin and could not respond or speak with Kerberos.

"I don't know of any Plans beyond their obvious distaste, and I for one believe their prejudice can easily be beaten by proving one's Iron in an undoubtable manner, through skill and iron of will. This of course is more easily said than done, but it will work in the long run. However if their ever should be a time where they openly tried to eliminate opposition, I would gladly stand by you. For now though we must focus inward, because like it or not sons of nurgle have been found in your company, and I know it pains you as it would shame me just as much."

The knife twisted. The comment of taint stung him deeply it was already well known of his anger towards the presence of Nurgle worshippers within his company blood boiled and he seemed to exhale steam for a moment. Why now? Why at the dawn of conquest? At any other time in the countless years since they last saw glory he would have cut apart his legion to find the cancer but this situation made it all the more difficult and left a sour note in his mouth after savoring the destruction around him. He held his tongue and didn't answer.

"We must continue cooperation with the Purists companies, they are still our brother's, as deluded as they are. They will not strike any time soon, it would be the end of the company and they know it. I would fear that this pursuit of purity may become something worse for them if they decided on open purging, it would certainly please the warp gods that such a 'perfection' was being sought, or the blood being shed may please another. I just don't see such an event as not having consequences for them as well, I doubt their iron will would remain unrusted as the Iron Warrior way is an ideal and not a planet's heritage." He finished with his final comments on the matter.

"We shall remain in our Iron bond but we should also maintain as strong a bond if not stronger with the company as a whole. Anyways, I wish you luck in your overseeing of the....slave corralling..... with the first. I had thought we would not stoop so low as slaves, but Pelegon must know something we don't, he always does."


Well his mission had been accomplished. He didn't seek to actively remove the purists, his distaste for them ended there rather he wished to forge some form of deterrent against the menace and if he could stand beside the Forge and the Tyranthikos then that would be a very worthy force and the Twins would be foolish to attempt anything.

"Yes, Forge Lord. I do not wish to remove the two captains-rather I wish to ensure they do not attempt to remove us and this union will serve just that. . . . I do not enjoy this act. . . Whatever it is. . There must be more to this plot of his. We have never taken slaves. Regardless, Iron Within, Adruin."

And with that the line cut leaving him to his own thoughts once more bringing his attention to the chaos and destruction around him. In the distance the 1st company were dragging along weak humans that had somehow survived the destruction each one of them looked about the size of the terminator clad's greaves giving it a comical appearance. He knew they did not enjoy the task trusted to them but their loyalty lied with the XIXth and like he they knew that conquest begat conquest and this would not be the only departure for the Unbroken. Unfortunately his thoughts were dragged away again with a grating that seemed like the growl of one of the warp tainted Daemon Engines rattled through his ears. None other than the Warsmith himself.

"The First Captain, henceforth to be referred to as Tyberus, has shown himself to be inadequate. You are to apprehend and disarm him; strip him of his armour and weapons and keep him detained, awaiting my arrival planetside. Iron Within"

And just like that the line was dead leaving a lump briefly in his throat. Had the witch convinced the Warsmith of something? Was this the first step? Did it have to do with Draxus earlier? Too many questions that he couldn't permit himself to think on in much detail. Regardless he had been ordered by Pelegon himself to bring the 1st Captain. . .Tyberus. . . Into custody. He remembered Draxus now, slain for his following of the Warsmith's orders. There was something odd about it. . . Perhaps the 1st captain knew something he didn't regardless he didn't want the 1st Companies Champion to also be an enemy, such outstanding warriors were not readily available.

He opened a vox link to his collection of Siege Tyrants and with Kerberos as well.

"Let us investigate the trench fortifications. Kerberos join your brothers in the 1st for the time being I will summon you when needed. There's faint opportunity for battle there. . . That's an order."

They thundered forward, the fire coming from the Wolf's Claw had all but stopped, they didn't seem to want to spend ammunition half hazardly while blinded by smoke that was replenished every so often. The odd round echoed from the castle but that was it leaving only the thumping of launchers, the occasional punctuation from heavy bolters to suppress and the all familiar shlunking of spades into soil bringing forth fighting trenches and battle lines quicker than arguably any army in the history of time. It was a bittersweet feeling as he moved forward and all at once he and his Tyrants stood the line above the trench with all manner of assault cannons, Reaper Auto cannons, Heavy flamers, and a couple that preferred the humble Storm Bolter. Regardless the half of them that had power fists and the other 4 that held chain fists all crackled to life in unison. Even Kunzhardt's own power arm crackled to life sending out sparks and small thunderclaps.

"First Captain Tyberus. By order of Warsmith Pelegon the Ironheart you are under arrest and are to be held in detention until His arrival."

The taste of the words was odd, on one side he was somewhat happy to have a shot at the Bat, it had been something he'd wanted for some time. On the other they had just forged an alliance against the purists and he would not want one of his allies to fall.

"I would urge you to come peacefully. . . It may assist your situation."
 

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"Let us investigate the trench fortifications. Kerberos join your brothers in the 1st for the time being I will summon you when needed. There's faint opportunity for battle there. . . That's an order." Captain Kunzhardt's voice came over the vox with a strange reuqest...No, it was an order. What in the trenchlines could possibly be worthy of a Captain and 8 Siege Tyrants Kerberos wondered to himself. Something was amiss, but the vaunted warrior could not quite discern what is was.

"Very well Captain Kunzhardt, I shall seek out Lieutenant Xareth and join up with his efforts." The massive warrior moved at a double time pace, calling for the 1st Lieutenant of First Company and making his way towards his coordinates. His mind cast back to what purpose the 2nd Captain might have in the trenches, something about the man's voice had seemed on edge, but there was nothing to do about it now, whatever it was Captain Kunzhardt and his retinue would be more than capable of handling it.

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The charred smell of burnt soil and bodies wafted across the landscape, passing through the rebreather unit in Tyranus' helm. Still, that refreshing scent of conquest always reassured him of his purpose. His armor, had a light marring of soot on the greaves gained through hours in the trenchline, the perfectly crafted shovel in his hands moving the earth in well calculated and practiced strokes. The gunfire coming from the Wolf's Claw had died down to a drawl, the occasional thud and thump of gun emplacements roared over the deathly silent planet, but the defenders knew on some level that they were encircled and now had no choice but to wait on their attackers.

With nothing but the light call of the wind Tyranus heard the heavy crunching footsteps of what had to be terminators given the weight of their steps. Eight of them? He thought as he looked up to the ridgeline created by his efforts in the trenches.

The hiss and crackle of power fields broke the silence of his work, eight members of the Siege Tyrants stood over him their chain and power fists readied for battle, and at their center the 2nd Captain as he too brought his power fist to life.

"First Captain Tyberus. By order of Warsmith Pelegon the Ironheart you are under arrest and are to be held in detention until His arrival." Kunzhardt decreed, his posture was that of a coiled serpent ready to strike. Tyranus' posture however was completely calm, almost serene, though the mention of his former name he couldn't help but crack a wry smile beneath his helmet Tyberus would have struck all of you down the moment he heard you coming he thought to himself, amused by how calculating he had become as this new persona 'Tyranus'.

"I would urge you to come peacefully. . . It may assist your situation." The warning was unnecessary, Tyranus had no intention of fighting Kunzhardt or his men. "Of course Brother Captain Kunzhardt." He slowly walked up the slope until and as he reached the crest the Siege Tyrants formed a perimeter around him if he were to attempt anything. He removed his helm first, looking Kunzhardt squarely in the eyes "Your Siege Tyrants may take my weapons and armor, I have no intentions of resisting the WarSmith's decree. I need you to take my left vambrace and not let it out of your sight Brother Captain Kunzhardt, it holds in it our vindication."
 

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There was a bizarre situation within this bubble of trench digging and gun fire at the onset of campaign Kunzhardt had been relegated to arresting his fellow soldiers. Had it been anyone else he would have slain the offender outright and move on but it was a Captain and it was Pelegon's orders. Further it was Tyran. . . No Tyberus that he was arresting. It seemed odd using a name he was unaccustomed to but it would soon come more naturally although he hoped that wouldn't be the case. A few of the other recruits digging the trenches stopped to look up at the Captain and his retinue only to be barked down.

"And WHAT are you looking at!? Move that soil or I will slay you where you stand!"

He didn't need to say any more the green recruits dug into the soil with a fervor that had been absent a moment ago. The 1st Captain crawled forth from the pit with fresh grime staining his armor and seemed quite docile with the situation considering. Perhaps there was something the master of lies knew that he didn't? He made his request of the left vambrace. . . Was that the one the hidden sword had been produced from? Yes it had to have been.

"Let us leave the firing line."

He didn't choose to respond to the comment just now rather he'd prefer to do so away from the fire and blood of the lines where the Bat Lord would wait for Pelegon's arrival. The retinue escorted Tyberus away from the trench and back towards the auxiliaries where the temporary HQ was established. It was nothing compared to the pompous comfortable accoutrements of the likes of the Imperial Guard but it served its purpose and precisely nothing more. A reinforced rockcrete structure recessed within a pit to reduce profile and aid in concealing. It was one large room and four smaller rooms used to detain and interrogate. Within it Legionnaires from the Forge as well as from the Second scrambled about laying forth firing arcs and keeping track of the course of the battle. They didn't acknowledge either of the captains upon entry so concerned with their own duties. It would've been odd had they. . . Such show was inefficient. They moved to one of the holding cells at the right end of the hallway and halted. He didn't enjoy being in such tight corridors with one so accustomed to fighting in those situations but that couldn't be helped. From there Kunzhardt put his left hand out palm up.

"Alright, Tyberus. I'll follow your ploy. Your left Vambrace, give it here and leave your equipment in this room and from there you will be detained in the adjoining room."
 

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"Let us leave the firing line." Kunzhardt spoke, ignoring the request to take the left vambrace. Tyranus wondered if perhaps this was the last battle field he would see, it seemed increasingly likely that it would be. Despite that reality he preferred not to fight, to what end? Killing men that would be loyal to the XIXth and what it truly stood for was not something he wished to enact. His glaive was taken from him along with the shoulder mounted storm bolter. The frag launcher was left in place though its munitions were removed, leaving it as good as useless. For whatever reason he had been allowed to keep his Cataphractii plate for the time being. The march to their forward HQ was a grim procession.

Captain Kunzhardt and his Siege Tyrants carefully watched his every move, the flickering and humming power fields around their weapons spoke as much. He was marched to the chambers that he would be detained in. Captain Kunzhardt then motioned for Tyranus to enter the cell, offering his left hand palm up. "Alright, Tyberus. I'll follow your ploy. Your left Vambrace, give it here and leave your equipment in this room and from there you will be detained in the adjoining room." He carefully removed the left vambrace, handing it to Kunzhardt with the concealed blade facing himself. He proceeded to remove the rest of his massive Cataphractii plate, placing it on an armor rack. He wore a simple tabbard about his waist, covering down to his knees as he was marched to his final holding cell where he would await the WarSmith. He stood in the center of the room, going through the motions of melee with his glaive, it was an art he had always done, practiced endlessly to hone his skills as a warrior. It was meditative and helped to keep his demeanor calm and his spirits up given the dire circumstances.
 

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Upon exiting the Warp, Lugerev had quickly met up with Loakk, and took the first shuttle out toward the Wandering King. He was expected, and docked quickly. The Primus Medicae was now in his full set of Wargear, and likely would be much more often than nought, now that he realized he was no longer safe even among his own Grand Company. He had worn a MkIV suit once, and he was a bit frustrated that the Mk V didn’t seem to be much better. In fact, some of its internal systems were actually, worse. Still, it held up better than the MK IV defensively, which is what he needed most when attending battlefield wounds.

He escorted the Techmarine to the battleship’s Apothecarion, where he asked him to wait while he spoke to the Captain about the details of the mission. Fortunately, there were several research projects Lugerev had nearly forgotten about, that were in various locations of his lab to keep the Genetor occupied with interest for some time.

And so, Lugerev made the long trip to the ship’s bridge, as the fleet began to split in two; the bulk of it going straight towards the primary target Pelexis III, and three of the ships going to kill the Space Wolf Strike Cruiser, the Fist of Russ. Normally, Coues would be on board with his twin, to keep each other in good company, and coordinate their efforts. He would have to fill that gap today, he supposed.

Iapetus was standing at the tactical display, a large, hololithic table that showed the planets of the system, the relative location of the XIXth's Fleet, and their target - The Fist of Russ.

‘Hail, Captain. I have brought the Techmarine Genetor of Adriun's lot on board as well. He has stayed in the Apothecarion for the time being. I will have to rearrange some things. I think Tirgivil feels he owns the King's sick bays...’

'Lugerev,' Iapetus said, cordially. He looked up, at the Chief Apothecary, and arched an eyebrow. Lugerev was staring off, at the bridge's primary view-port - A huge pane of reinforced glass - With widened eyes. 'Is there something amiss?'

Lugerev stared out into the gray moon that concealed their prey.

'Luna...just look at it.’ He said, pointing an armored finger. ‘I've never seen so many dead ships...' he puts his hand down and turns his head sharply to an angle. 'That one, that's the White Feather, one of the Scars'. I was aboard her once. And there, the Unbreakable...she did so well at Phall. Even in the craters, on the surface, you can see their corpses.' he looks down shaking his head. 'How could we have lost, brother?'

Iapetus thought for a moment, rising in his posture from busying away at the holomap, considering.

'We lost, brother,' Iapetus said, returning his attentions to the tactical display. 'Because Terra was the ultimate fortress. A palace that spanned continents, her walls manned by the Emperor's finest, against a horde. All waves crash, in the end.'

Lugerev looked at Iapetus, the Captain's face a bright blue; his skin and armor reflecting the light from the table. Lugerev's expression turned uncertain, his stance loose. 'That's not Luna, is it?'

'Not at all,' Iapetus smiled, though the question neither wanted, or needed, an answer. 'Loakk is aboard?'

He looked out the viewport again, seeing this less significant moon, and its master Pelexis II, in the distance behind it.

‘Loakk is aboard, yes. He wanted some Space Wolf gene-seed to toy with.'

He reached his hands to the edge of the table, and peered down at the holo-display the Seventh Captain was looking at and manipulating.

‘So, what is your plan? My role is simple enough, but I need you to get me there.’ said Lugerev, lightly opening his hand to point towards the miniature Fist of Russ.

Iapetus pursed his lips. 'A three pronged assault - Wandering King, Lonesome Queen and the,' He adjusted the tactical display, enhancing the Third's Cruiser. 'Shade Wraith,' He said the name distastefully. 'Corner the Wolf and snap its legs. Lucian can take the bridge and the armoury - I want to bleed his Company dry - Whilst the Seventh take the enginarium,' A tough fight, indeed, Iapetus knew. 'And the Apothecarion.'

‘Yes, our fallen angel friend is more than welcome to take the petty glory of killing the vessel’s commander.’ Said Lugerev, releasing his grip from the table’s edge, pushing himself away in order to begin pacing the deck.

‘Good. I’m glad to hear we have the important parts. I’m sure getting rights to the Apothecarion wasn’t too difficult. It never is.’

A pause.

‘Iapetus, Pelegon has yet to inform me why these Wolves are holding Salamander Gene-seed. I suppose I shouldn’t think on it too much. Little outside my medical work makes sense to me anymore.’

‘And we shall hope, brother, that Lucian will get himself killed,' Iapetus grinned. 'Should the Wolf prevail, I will shed no tears,' He stepped away from the table, stepping towards the centre of the bridge. 'It makes little sense. The Wolves are many things - Unwashed barbarians, near-feral, mortal-lovers - But thieves? That they are not.'

It was Iapetus who paused, now. 'I do not trust Pelegon's judgement. Something is wrong, here. I am certain of it.'

‘But apparently, we are.’ Said the Apothecary, still on the bit about thieves, throwing his hands up and half rolling his eyes.

‘I’m sure something is wrong. We will probably all die. But what does it matter? If I am to be perfectly honest with you I kind of hope we all do. I’ve seen so many deaths already-death, dying death!’ he yelled the words loudly, then shook his head violently. His wrist mounted bolter slung forward on its rack and its ammunition belt lost its slack as he thrust his arm out pointing it at random Legionnaires on the deck below. Some turned, looking up in alarm and hesitation. He groaned, switching from target to target with enraged grunts.

‘Save lives! Save them! I have to save your lives!’

His breathing slowed. His posture straightened, and his bolter retracted.

He turned his head to the side just enough for Iapetus to see a grinning face.

‘Iapetus.’

His body turned, and he walked back to the Captain, saying his name again but elongating each of the vowels.

‘Iaapeetuus. What are you doing?’

'Lugerev, brother,' Iapetus said, retreating, towards the tactical display, towards his spear. 'Enough. Come to your senses, Apothecary,' His voice was calm, almost soothing. 'You cannot act like this, not here. Not on my ship.'

He stepped closer, angry, veins beginning to throb.

‘All I asked is what you are doing! That gene-seed is mine! You understand me? Mine, my hands only!’ he shouted, ruthless.

'What would I want with Gene-seed, you fool?' Iapetus bellowed back, face twisted into a snarl. 'Were it a ship you were after, you mad bastard, I would gladly pilfer it,' He shook his head. 'You are the flesh-smith.'

A smile returns to Lugerev’s face, accompanied by a downward tilted chin, a furrowed brow, and a shaking of the head half whispering.

‘Third Company. Third Company.’

Without a moment’s notice Lugerev’s sword swings out, the murderous blade whistling through the air and coming to a frozen state of deadness.

He laughs softly.

‘You know, an angel can lose its wings and fall into the mud, but unfortunately, that doesn’t quite make it a dead angel, now, does it? His emphasis was filled with bassy puncture.

He begins to laugh harder, staring hard into the green, glaring eyes of Iapetus.

The Seventh Company Captain chuckled in return.

‘Yes, brother! Maybe the Wolves will only take a bite out of him, and he’ll come to me!’

Lugerev steps to Iapetus, grabbing hold of his metal cloak and shoulders, wide eyed and happy, laughing between syllables.

‘Can you imagine? Lucian, the Dark Angel, laying on my surgery slab, waiting for me to fix him up?!’

The laughter could be contained no longer. And once it began to die down, Lugerev raised a finger to try and wipe the moisture that had collected at the corner of his eye. He spoke further.

'I believe you were about to go into more details about this plan before I interrupted you. So, tell me, tell me more.' he says, twirling his hand.

After a few moments, a female officer of sorts stepped up toward the table.

'Lords,' A voice said. Iapetus turned his head, and saw Lumiana - Uniformed, carrying a wafer of dataslates under her arm - Standing there. 'We are within visual range of the target.'

Lugerev almost spoke up to the Equerry, but couldn’t quite remember the old lad’s name. He had served under Iapetus since at least the beginning of the Legion’s decision to go turncoat, he knew.

'Thank you,' Iapetus said. He turned back to the Apothecary. 'Come, follow me,' The Shipwright took up his spear, gathered his cloak about him, and walked into the centre of the bridge. The mortals quietened, in reverence of their lord. 'Open communications with the Lonesome Queen,' He ordered, coolly. 'Magnify. Show me our quarry.

The Fist of Russ filled the view-ports. Long and sleek, painted in the icy-blue of the Wolves, her flanks bristling with cannons. 'A fine ship,' Iapetus said, leaning on his spear. 'I present our prey, my brothers,' He smiled darkly. 'Pelegon wants it. Our Legion wants it. I want it.'

'Target acquired,' His gunnery officer called.

Iapetus turned towards Lugerev. 'It is about time, brother,' He said. 'We show the thin-bloods what true fury is.'

The Master of the Fleet smiled, waiting a moment before finally turning and giving the curt order.

'Fire.'

Lugerev stood beside Iapetus, hands folded behind his back and watching the viewports intently.

'Its suddenly clear to me that we do the same work, Iapetus, merely on different scales. I believe that little jewel of a ship already belongs to us. Still, I have the same feeling I did on Medrengard. There's something about this one...my gut tells me it likes to slip its leash.’

The Shipwright laughed. 'Ships do not escape me, Apothecary,' He watched, as the cruiser rolled, cored by the lances of Iapetus's ships. Debris, organic and metallic, shoaled around the vessel. 'Your escort awaits, Lugerev,' Iapetus smiled, clasping his brother's wrist. 'Watch yourself, brother. Watch the Third.

Lugerev nodded, accepting the embrace with warmth. A pod had been designated for them, he and Loakk. Along with Adriun’s associate, Iapetus made sure that a good plenty of warriors would be by them on their fight to the enemy’s Apothecarion, which in all likelihood, would be the easiest path during the battle for the ship.
 
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