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Discussion Starter #81
Pelexis III, Iron Warriors' Forward Command Centre

The teleporter units on the roof of the bunker began to hum, and the lights within the drab concrete structure dimmed a little as considerable energy was drawn from its power generators. The IVth legionnaires within the central command hub - at this level, mostly signallers and logisticians - looked up at the teleporter pad to see who would be arriving. With a crack and pop of displaced air, the Warsmith and Epistolary came into existence, the stench of ozone filling the air. The technology they had used was the same as that employed within tactical dreadnought armour, and though the Warsmith's own battle-plate had a teleportation transponder embedded within it, Coeus had such a unit clamped onto his chest. One of the technicians who was responsible for managing the teleporter stepped up onto the pad and disengaged the transponder from Coeus' chest, and put it away.

Unaffected by teleporation sickness or disorientation, the Warsmith stepped forward; once again clad in his armour, he was inscrutable behind his slit-visored helm. Unusually, for Pelegon usually moved among his men unarmed, he had a monstrous sword between his shoulders, its sheath mag-locked to his armour's power supply. It was a huge weapon, one that would require even the Warsmith to wield it two-handed. The Warsmith strode between the two ranks of cogitator and sensor arrays, nodding approvingly at the marines who tended them studiously. That a full bunker had already been erected and rendered functional was a testament to the machine-like precision of his Grand Company, and that pleased him. Any less, and the men responsible would have been flogged. He could distantly hear, even through the thick walls, the rumble of heavy gun carriages and ammunition and other miscellaneous support vehicles moving into positions.

"Coeus, rendezvous with Kunzhardt and have him bring Tyberus outside. His trial is to be public - I want no member of the XIXth to be left in any uncertainty that no-one is untouchable"

He could feel Coeus' frustration at being used like an errand boy, but it was overridden by a sense of satisfaction. Likely he would be pleased at the prospect of removing a non-Olympian from that most prestigious of positions within the Grand Company. If Tyberus' insubordination had been unjustified, then even his long history with Pelegon would not save him.

Outside, the air was rich with the stink of cordite and freshly-turned earth. Both scents were welcome to the Warsmith, who had not smelled the latter for some time. The tainted soil of Medrengard stank only of rocky minerals, and lacked the organic fullness that natural mud had. He dropped to one knee and grabbed a handful of the mud, churned already by more than a hundred set of ceramite-armoured boots, and held it to his armour's faceplate, inhaling deeply. The soil was dense and slightly acidic, and nutritionally exceptionally rich. Artificially induced in order to maintain Pelexis' position of agricutural world, but effective nonetheless. Shaking it off his gauntlet, the Warsmith moved among his men, who for the most part ignored him, which was fine. He did not want them to have their work interrupted by pointless displays of abasement.

Most of the forces planetside were at the trench-line, a few hundred metres distant, reinforcing the structures they had already built. Beyond that, he could see a billowing smoke cloud; within it would be the Wolf's Claw, the Wolves within rendered as blind as newborn pups. The forces around the bunker appeared to mostly be the 2nd Company, digging out emplacements for static gun batteries. Basilisk and Colossus mobile artillery was providing the hot smoke screen, the occasional boom and whistle of descending shells a precursor of what was to come. It lacked the satisfaction of true bombardment, though the planning was just as intricate. Pelegon knew that within an hour all the static emplacements would be set up, and with a single word he could order the fortress reduced to rubble. But that was not the aim of this experiment. He would be using a different weapon.

Turning to the right, Pelegon marched with well-practiced ease through the thick mud until he reached one of the slave corrals. As impressive as the construction of their assault lines and fall-back points and emplacements had been, the capture and imprisonment of over two-million mortals in the space of a handful of hours was significantly more astounding. They had been placed within several circular compounds, ringed with thick barbed-wire fences, the gates each watched by a single legionnaire armed with a heavy bolter. This one was the largest, directly south of the main command bunker and his tower - and the mortals within watched him with wide, terrified eyes.

The Warsmith did not know why he enjoyed looking at them, covered in filth, with torn clothes and hunched stances. Their faces varied so much, some looking horrified at how quickly their lives had changed, others blank as they failed to realise how dire things were, or just could not accept reality. By the stink, many had soiled themselves, and with how tightly packed in they were, he could see that a significant deal had already died - some of the deceased had been trodden down, become one with the mud and filth whence they came, and others were kept standing by the pressure of people holding them in from all sides. He derived no pleasure from the suffering of these people; they had not asked to be born into this rotten Imperium. Memories of his time in the VIIIth legion flashed into his mind, and he became aware that his plan was highly reminiscent of something that Xandrek, or the sadist Veptus, might have conjured.

He had briefly closed his eyes as he though this, and in his mind's eye swam the faces of the two Night Lords, then the assembled throng of human cattle...and for a brief moment, the Warsmith's mechanical heart hiccuped in his chest as he saw a black mass in the middle of the crowd. He opened his eyes and scanned them, seeing nothing...then looked in his mind's eye again. There were small flickering lights for each of the people, showing their mortal souls. The Iron Warrior at the gate flared slightly brighter. Then, at some depth in...three hundred metres, he judged...a black presence. Not a black light as their Father had around himself, but anti-light. A vacuum, and a strong one.

Without a word the Warsmith approached the gate and indicated that it should be opened. It swung smoothly on its hinges, and Pelegon strode forward, right into the crowd. They were terrified, not daring to even make a bid for freedom through the open gates as the iron-armoured monster stomped toward and into them. They tried to withdraw from him, but could not, hemmed in as they were by their fellows - he did not shove them aside, but merely trod on them. Most of the mortals reached his waist, but their weak flesh and bone had no chance against Pelegon's iron strength and will. Subconsciously, they sickened him; scrambling over and killing each other in their desperation to put distance between themselves and him, but that was only a reflexive thought. In truth, he had attention only for the black vacuum, to which he neared. As he drew closer and closer, he could see that there was a gap in the crowd. Despite the crush and press of bodies, there was a clear patch some way ahead of him, but he could not yet see, needing, as he did, to keep his eyes mostly closed so as to properly orient himself.

Eventually, the Iron Warrior reached his target; he was, from the waist-down, splashed with blood and gore from the humans he had crushed in his push to the centre. A gentle steam rose from the hot blood splashed on cold ceramite. In the centre of the circle, some twenty metres across, stood a single human female. Instinctively, Pelegon was filled with deep disgust and hatred of her, and could see that the humans around him felt no differently. For in spite of his presence, they would rather get close to him than her - and that told him a lot. He closed his eyes and looked once more; where there had been lights there was now only the encompassing vacuum, and it perfectly filled the circle of clear ground in which she stood. A hemisphere rising out of the ground, its perfect blackness made the lights of the souls around her twinkle all the brighter by comparison.

Pelegon approached her, and she did not react at all. With the utmost gentleness, having to fight back the urge to pulp her skull in his fist, he put a finger under her chin, and aimed her head up to look him. She was, he guessed, young - being a few years past puberty. Tall for a human, pale-skinned and extremely slender, with curtains of long black hair that partially obscured her face. The signals that he got from her body indicated that she was not suffering from malnutrition, though that was somewhat at odds with her thin features and slightly hunched posture. Her eyes were large and a dark shade not dissimilar to his own - and stared evenly into the glowing red eye-pieces of his helmet. There was no fear-stench of sweat on her, no trembling, no wavering in her gaze. She was not afraid of him in the slightest.

"What is your name?" the Warsmith asked, speaking in High Gothic.

"Lysandra" she replied, her voice even. The accent was one that managed the High Gothic flawlessly - combined with her delicate features, it led him to believe that she likely came from nobility. His knowledge of old families was far from comprehensive, and based mostly off the long-gone ancestry of Olympia, but that did not seem an unfair initial assessment. It was, however, juxtaposed with the poor, tattered clothes that she wore. She felt wrong; the aura of wrongness had been obvious since he laid eyes on her, but the closer he got the stronger it became - and there was no ostensible physical reason for it. The Warsmith became aware of a taste of metal in his mouth, and that his back teeth were humming slightly. He had heard of these soulless types, but was not aware of just how they immediately struck one as something that simply should not be.

"You do not fear me, do you?"

The girl shrugged, but her eyes did not stop boring into his. Pelegon had the uncomfortable sensation that she could read his facial expression through the helmet - not that it mattered, as his face was as neutral as ever. Heedless of the hundreds, thousands, watching, he continued.

"Do you know what you are?"

At that moment her expression changed a little, shifting, perhaps, to hope, before returning to its previous blank mask, shaking her head from side to side as best she could in his grip. It seemed that the girl did not know, but wanted to. There would be time aplenty for her to learn about herself aboard her new home, the Ferra Perpetua. What he had found now was beyond rare. It was something that he had been quietly seeking for millennia, and only now stumbled upon. The hatred that he had felt for her washed away, overcome by the realisation that she could be the key to his unlocking a new level of power for the IVth Legion.

"You are a Pariah, Lysandra. And you will be coming with me"

-----​

A few minutes later Pelegon stood in the shadow of his tower, watching the retreating exhausts of a Storm Eagle transporter in the sky. Lysandra was absolutely invaluable, and so he had placed her under the watch of ten of the Tyranthikos. Even when standing among the mute, armoured giants, hardened siege-breakers and veterans of war beyond compare, she had shown no fear. Nor had she shown any real remorse for the people she left behind, but that could have been a coping mechanism. Their exit from the slave corral had been interesting; the people had felt her coming, and had cleared a path for them. It had made egress quick, and also gave Pelegon a gauge of just how powerful she was. The girl had the power to rend unreality apart, and didn't even know it. That would come with time. For now she would stay on the Ferra. It would be tragic to at last find a Pariah and then have her killed by a stray shell or bolt round.

Thus, with none of his officers in sight, and his legionnaires carrying out their duties flawlessly, the Warsmith found himself with nothing to do. He could not begin enacting his plan to draw the Wolves from their den until the affair with Tyberus had been resolved.

-----​

All Captains Planetside
You receive an order telling you that you are to convene under the tower at the Southernmost point of the defensive trench line for the trial of Tyberus, 1st Captain of the XIXth Grand Company of the IVth Legion. All senior officers and their equerries are to be present for the trial.

Iapetus, Lucian, Lugerev
It is as you have so far posted - that, and we haven't had anything from Revan since the last update.

The next update is to be on the 25th of October.
 

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Aboard the Wandering King Loakk had been left to his own devices for the most part, having brought much of his tools and item for research with him, or at least that which was most portable. He had followed the now armored Apothecary, no doubt due to the previous encounter with the Immovable, who was rather as volatile as he seemed. Lugerev eventually left towards the bridge while he stayed in the Apothecarion, which contained plenty of little objects of fascination for him.

He walked about looking at the various tools that the Apothecaries would use with frequency, it amused him at how they varied in complexity but they all seemed stagnant and unchanging, he saw no innovation here, only tried and true practices, which limited the companies expansion. His most audacious experiments would change recruitment for the Grand Company entirely if he could be successful in his research, and research into Gene-seed was tricky due to its fickle and delicate nature. It was not beyond the Genetor to bend flesh to his will, to turn a mortal into a monster with but a simple serum, to regrow limbs as perfect as they were before they were lost, yet the art that was gene-seed seemed to escape him.

He went and pulled out his data-slate and eyed it with his slit like pupils, his tongue whipped out and tasted the air, it tasted like cleaning chemicals and diluted blood. He swam through the information on his slate, his studies of human genetics was unparallelled and its uses worked on Astartes as well, but making an Astartes was the end goal. He knew how heighten senses, increase brain capacity, increase muscle and bone density, but these things did no mix well if applied all to the same subject, at least in an attempt to make a super soldier on par with a Marine, all he ever ended up with was a gibbering hulk more fit to become a monstrous tech thrall or have its brain harvested for use in a Servitor. On an Astartes these modifications were more stable, but enhancing a marine only served to make a more expensive soldier, and so he kept these modifications to himself and his closest compatriots.

"What is Lugerev up to? I had hoped to discuss findings not sit here and look at test tubes and blood samples..." His tongue whipped as he placed his data slate away, for all his successes it only seemed to frustrate him that making Iron Warriors for the Company was still out of his grasp. He decided to go and find the Apothecary. He made his way up to the bridge but stopped short of entering, as his heighten senses picked up the discussion of the Shipwright and the Apothecary. It seemed even mid-conversation Lugerev had slipped from present to past, but how Iapetus handled it showed his closeness with the Apothecary, he had quickly pulled him from the past to the now.

He listened for some time, not caring for the politics of the discussion, it mattered little to him the quarrels between Captains, all that mattered was the Company and his research. He did take note that the ship carried Salamander gene-seed, an interesting development, he wished he could claim it for himself but he knew that Salamander Gene-seed was acceptable for making recruits, and so was beyond his reach, at least until his research turned up something substantial that warranted better resources. After listened for a bit longer, he decided that it was time to get ready to board the vessel and headed back to the apothecary to grab what was needed for extraction of gene-seed, and then he headed for the boarding pods and awaited Lugerev.

It didn't take long for the resounding thunder of weapon batteries to tell him that it would be time to board soon, and he was right as the apothecary arrived and directed him towards a boarding pod, in which he joined him.

"Lugerev, I hunger for wolf blood, let us turn the pups to prey." He said as his lightning claws shot out and then retracted back into their casing. He unlike the other Marines did not wear a Helmet, but the slight haze around his features, and the slight tang in the air suggested he had fields surround his head, giving it much the protection of a helmet if not far better.

"I do hope this will turn proffitable to my endeavors, but none-the-less I will enjoy shedding loyalist blood." He smirked, giving strength to his reptilian features, he was far from the Olympian he once was.

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{{Planet Side}}

Adriun was meandering around the fortifications seeing to their reinforcement as well as helping to get weapon emplacements ready. He was already near the spire when Pelegon arrived, he had wondered if this meant they would be bringing this campaign to a swift end soon, he wished to be done with this slave gathering, it already felt like a stain on his soul that he was even near it, he hoped to get something worth while out of this needless slaughter besides disgust.

It seemed the Warsmith himself was headed to the slave pens, and he wondered what could possibly be of any value in those horrid corrals of fear and filth. However when the Warsmith returned with a girl, he immediately was able to guess, as he felt a strange sensation and disgust towards the girl. It felt much like the Null tech that Sophacles was researching into, something that would require the Librarium's assistance, at least in the initial stages till it could be automated. He would see to some personal uses for such a tech, He liked his toys.

However he soon received an order to be present for the trial of Tyberus, this would be interesting, the Captain of the First had made some sort of transgression that displeased the Warsmith. After thinking on it, he had heard of the execution of Draxxus through his servitors and what was reported to him through the monitoring systems, this seemed to fit the bill for the trial. He headed their after calling all of his Advisors to witness the trial. Only 11 would be able to make it, as Loakk would be with the Apothecary.

He soon took his place at the head of the plethora of his officers, each varying greatly in appearence, loadout and origins. Each though was a master of their craft, and had earned their position regardless of gene-seed and birth.

Those currently closest to him were Eryx the Eccentric Architect, Furthuum the Master Armorer in his Massive armor and weapon systems, making him seem more akin to a dreadnaught than an Astartes if he was a bit bigger and bulkier, and the Warptek Sophacles whom was currently speaking with the Master of the Forge.

"Adriun, I have run several calculations and scenarios, this campaign has a 0.0004% inefficiency in its bunker designs that would be rectified in Eryx would not insist on his modifications." Sophacles monotoned his machine like complaints, he was as much machine as Furthuum was, but his Brain was just the Same as the Larger Furthuum's due to the necessity of his plight to escape the pursuit of a daemon, he pitied the much older Warptek but it was misplaced pity as the Warptek seemed content with his lot.

"Eryx.....he just does as he does, and his designs are within operation parameters. Just be glad he isn't carving Nude Statues in Iron and putting them everywhere." He mused, though the sentiment was not shared by the True Thought Cursed Marine.

"Noted, logged, complaint removed. However, I must request information on discussion with....Coeus...." Sophacles seemed perplexed by the name, it seemed wrong, like he had once used another name before that one.

"Did the Seer approve of cooperation? I need those with Warp touch to activate the Sigils to make the Null tech work, if it is too much to ask tell them their assistance will be brief, it will be automated after phase one." The warp tech uttered mechanically as his metal skull of a head staring at him with dull glowing eye sockets that carried complex array of cybernetic visual receivers.

"I didn't have time, but I made the proposition, I will have to await a reply, however Silence now brother, let us see what this trial entails." Adriun finished, patting the sword pommel at his side in anticipation. Sophacles merely nodded and turned his attention as well, the other Captains arriving soon after.
 

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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. His spear was within arm's-reach, leaning against the rim of the table, the tip glinting hungrily.

Footsteps approached behind him, determined, heavy. 'Hail, Captain,' A familiar voice said - One that Iapetus had heard for hundreds, thousands, of years - Lugerev. '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?'

The Mad Apothecary raised an arm, pointing. 'Luna,' He said, hesitantly. 'Just look at it. I've never seen so many dead ships,' He lowered his arm, his head snapping away. '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,' Lugerev shook his head, looking away. 'How could we have lost, brother?'

Luna, Luna? Iapetus remembered Luna, flecked with ruined ships. Iapetus had downed many himself, burning their hulls, their crew, their pathetic little lives. He remembered the last battle - The duel with the Imperial Fists cruiser, Redoubtable, - Where the Seventh Company, bloodied and bruised, had boarded and taken the ship. One last insult, Iapetus had ordered.

'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 Shipmaster dimly aware of his friend's gaze. 'That's not Luna, is it?'

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

'Loakk is aboard, yes,' Lugerev said, gazing at the tactical display. 'So, what is your plan?’ My role is simple enough, but I need you to get me there,' He pointed a hand at the 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,' Lugerev said, and began to pace, back and forth, back and forth. Iapetus continued to direct his ships. '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.' The Mad Apothecary paused, and then after a moment of pregnant silence, continued. '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, walking 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.'

What came next was terribly unsettling. Lugerev descended into madness, his bolter spooling up, his voice raised. Iapetus had seen this before, over the years they had served besides one another, but still felt discomfort; a tingling at the back of his neck. He glanced at his spear - Several feet away - And bit his tongue. Too far, should anything happen.

'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.'

'All I asked is what you are doing!' Lugerev raged, furious. 'That Gene-seed is mine! You understand me? Mine, my hands only!’

'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.'

Lugerev smiled, looking downwards, brow wrinkled with thought. 'Third Company,' He said, 'Third Company,' He tore his sword free, and laughed. '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?'
They locked eyes, and Iapetus laughed, too; the tenseness flowing away. 'Yes, brother! Maybe the Wolves will only take a bite out of him, and he’ll come to me, brother!' Lugerev gripped Iapetus's shoulders and cloak, the metal links shifting beneath his gauntlet. 'Can you imagine? Lucian, the Dark Angel, laying on my surgery slab, waiting for me to fix him up?'

Lugerev let go, turning his attentions towards the tactical display. 'I believe you were about to go into more details about this plan before I interrupted you. So, tell me, tell me more.' He waved his hand, inviting Iapetus to continue.

'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.'

'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.'

'Arm our lances,' He continued, the deck trembling beneath him as ancient weapon-systems came online. 'Acquire a target solution on the engines.'

'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.'

Iapetus smirked. 'Fire.'

Lugerev stepped besides him. '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.'


***​
Upon the Lonesome Queen, Alcibiades and his contingent - Just under two hundred brethren - Enough to conquer a world, to extinguish a culture, knelt around Iapetus's ghost-image. The deck beneath them shook and rumbled, as the battleship fired, piercing the flank of the Wolves' cruiser. Soon, Alcibiades and his Marines would flood aboard her, drown the Fenrisians in blood, and take the ship as their own. Servors whined, weapons hummed. Some of the Marines prayed, others laughed. Most were silent, in contemplation.

'Alcibiades,' Iapetus transmitted, after the Apothecary had left. 'Should Lucian and his Marines transgress,' The Shipwright licked his lips, savouring the notion. 'You are to terminate them.'

'Iron within,' Alcibiades said, nodding. Klaxons began to wail, Marines stood and entered their assault boats and pods. Alcibiades, a veteran of the Crusade, and of the Long War, knew that another boarding force was assembling aboard the Wandering King; Iapetus himself would lead them.

'Iron without, my brother,' Iapetus returned, and killed the signal.

***
'Lumiana,' Iapetus said, and his equerry was there. 'Is my Stormbird readied?'

The equerry bowed, shallowly. 'As you ordered, sire.'

The Shipwright grinned, ear-to-ear. 'Then I shall depart, the Fist of Russ awaits,' He spun, marching towards the bridge's entrance-portcullis, and paused. 'Lumiana.'

'My lord?'

She could hear the smile, a wicked, feral smile. 'Prepare the holding bays. Our halls will soon echo with wolf-song.'
 

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Arriving on the planet via their transport Vargus quickly began organising the trench works his company was going to be building in tandem with the other forces planetside.

He saw the Wolf fort in the distance howling petulantly with its guns, glad that the distance was too great to allow any serious weight to be brought to bear aginst his comparativly lighter strength force. Nonetheless the apothecarium would likely have a number more of his recruits before the work was complete. Removing his Cloak and securing it under the power plant of his armour he began to coordinate his recruits and began his own digging in turn.

"Recruit Lazerus. Recruit Jebodiah. Take your sections and begin digging as you were instructed in your siege drills with Instructor Hiatus. Instructor Dantioch. Instructor Volkir." Vargus ended merely with acknowledgements of his brother instructors their orders already known to them, to take their respective assignment of recruits and commit to the same task of trench building as they all were. Recruits Lazerus and Jebodiah were two of his most senior recruits having had their mucranoids implanted just prior to this conflict and had theoretical command over those less advanced then themselves to teach them the skills needed for the role if they received it in their future.

Lazerus was a cold personality even before the effects of his training or the implantation processes having been reprimanded multiple times for executing his fellow recruits who became wounded during live conflict exercises. Unfortunatly this for a time did cause him to take excessive risks during training resulting in nearly six months of training where he possesed only a single arm. The delay in his replacement being a lesson he learnt quickly but not entirely removing his reckless streak. Physically his features were narrow and training scars pulled his mouth into a perpetual sneer.

Jebodiah was Lazerus' opposite, chosen for that main reason. Calculating, loath to take more casualties then nessecery albeit sometimes loath to take any at all he struggles to detach himself from those he sees as his comrades. Jebodiah has continously shown high results on ballistics and advanced trajectory calculations and many inspections of their equipment found numerous self applied machinical changes linking back to Jebodiah.

*_*_*_*

Receiving his new orders to attend this trial Vargus paused unsure as to the reasons for this event but also annoyed that an unforseen happening had disturbed his activity. Folding the handle in on the head of his entrenching tool and clipping it to his belt, Vargus flicked his cloak out of its holster below his power plant ensuring its blades didnt catch on any of the recruits- friendly fire wasnt high on his list of priorities so far- Glancing over his subordinates he thought momentarily about which of his students to bring as equerry since both filled the role as duties allowed. He decided after a moment on who to bring to this trial. Advancing forward "Recruit Jebodiah, you have tempory command of this section coordinate with Instructor Volkir. Recruit Lazerus. Walk with me."
 

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I beat Pelegon to the teleportation banks by a fair few minutes. The members of the mechanicum had already attached the teleportation transponder to my chest and now we were just killing time. I was absentmindedly disassembling my bolt pistol at head height. Each piece slotted out of the other and was held by my mental powers. Most considered my powers things of raw destructive force, made for blasting open doors or wrenching secrets from the minds of others and expected them to always manifest as such. It suited me that they believed that. My powers could be things of incredible delicacy and finesse. Indeed, I sometimes found it more prudent to simply sever a few key brain stems or spinal cords than to blast a man apart.

Standing in this collimated chamber, thrumming with electrical power and caged stars, I considered the alternative as my gun began to become whole, minor telekinetic forces nudging out particles of grit and dust. I could teleport over certain distances, and they were only limited by my own appetite for risk and how much power I could harness. I knew I could do it over short distances, and theoretically there was no limit to how far I could travel. All I had to do was open a corridor in the warp and step through it, much like ships did. But I had no Gellar field, only my mind to protect me and the longer one spent in the warp the more at risk one was.

Of course, I could use my powers to travel faster, but over great distances like this, such speed would require laborious ritual preparation or leeching power from others. It could be done, but I would prefer to practice it more over increasing wide gulfs before I did it over this kind of distance. I had done it between elements of the fleet on occasion, but preparation and understanding were key with any matters involving the warp. An interesting prospect was one of the ritualistic knifes some Word Bearers supposedly carried. There were legends, myths of men wielding knifes that could rend reality. I had yet to verify how much truth they contained or how I could harness such powers, but given our next mission I might be able to find out more. That was one of my main purposes, the pursuit of knowledge.

My gun’s last pieces clicked back into place. As if summoned, Pelegon sauntered into the room, fully clad in his armour, and my thought coalesced back to the moment. His particular suit of armour meant he needed no extraneous pieces of technology to allow him to teleport. His blade was new, but that was not what drew my gaze to it. My face was hidden by my helmet and my motions were as fluid as if I was only focused on Pelegon’s direction to stand on the teleportation array, but I kept my gaze fixed on his blade. I had never seen it, but there was something eerie about it. It was as if it courted corruption without inviting it into itself. Tainted by proximity rather than source. Pelegon only wore or wielded weapons of his own making or their Father’s. Perhaps that was it, a blade forged by Perturabo’s own fell hand and therefore undeniably exposed to taint if not innately tainted. It was a curious thing, that was for sure. Another thing I had to watch about Pelegon.

A thunderclap of energy later and we were planet-side. Pelegon was already moving whereas I had to wait to be disengaged from the parasite clinging to my chest. That done, Pelegon ordered me to bring Tyberus to him. I knew he could have ordered Tyberus brought to him by vox. This was simply to show me that I did not run this Grand Company. I bowed shallowly and left. That was fine. All I hoped was that whatever paranoia made Pelegon assert his authority so meaninglessly and almost stayed my investigation that had already brought to light such taint did not stay his hand at the trial’s conclusion. Or perhaps he wanted to see if I could bring Tyberus to him in one piece.

In any case, I made my way through the trench lines, sending out calls to my brethren to attend the trial also. Some would remain with the companies, ensuring they did not feel like they could escape the Librarium’s harsh glare, but many would come. Flanking the captains they were shadowing, and the ones from the 1st and 2nd would back my tale of events should Tyberus try to deny it. As I walked I felt an uneasy itch inside my nose. My head began to dully throb before the pain faded back to non-existence. Strange. Was that the aftermath of the teleport or something else? It felt unnatural, more than that; anti-natural. I growled quietly to myself. There were too many oddities surrounding the Warsmith and these events. It was making me more cautious than normal.

In short order I arrived as Kunzhardt’s mustering point. It was easy enough to find him and his Siege Tyrants guarding a holding cell where I felt Tyberus dwelt. I approached the captain.
“Kunzhardt…” I said, my tone neutral. This was no time for satisfaction. I could only be satisfied once the work was done and the foes dispatched. Any confidence or glee before that was vainglorious and hubris, which led nowhere but death and damnation. Kunzhardt greeted me in his typical half-growl I had come to expect. Before he could say anything more than that I jumped in again. "...Pelegon has declared that Tyberus' trial be public. He is waiting on us and I suggest we don't keep him like that for longer than is absolutely necessary." I gestured back towards the main bastion. “Shall we?”
 

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The two stood in silence for some time. Without any curse of the warp Kunzhardt had no way of knowing what Tyberus but only focused his mind on the coming battle. He didn't want to think on the trial that was pending and willfully exorcised it from his mind.

"Vhalos, report at once to the spire, you are to accompany me in the trial of Tyberus of 1st company."

There was a slight pause as if trying to recognize the name before the soul responded. Likely he wasn't accustomed to the name and figured that Kunzhardt was asking that he attend the trial of some irrelevant 1st company serf if there was such a thing.

"Yes. . Lord."

The line went dead leaving only silence and the patter of heavy ceramite boots on a rockcrete floor as the logistical and communications force ensured every plan from the various captains was churning in sync. The somewhat sparce rumbling of the floor told Kunzhardt that though. As long as artillery brought down smoke along the Wolf position there would be no trouble lest they were to foolishly mount an offensive which would serve their end all the same. He flexed his fists again in frustration and that was when disgust filled his mouth like bile being rejected from his stomach.

The warp touched Sorcerer had been brought planet side and was tasked with bringing Tyberus to the trial. Why him? Wasn't Kunzhardt and his personal retinue plenty? Was there even an order?

"Kunzhardt…"

"Witch."

The words dripped with as much venom and hatred as one could lace within a single syllable. He wouldn't say any more he didn't even want to soil his time with the Sorcerer. Which was fine because it seemed the witch was intent on continuing to speak.

"...Pelegon has declared that Tyberus' trial be public. He is waiting on us and I suggest we don't keep him like that for longer than is absolutely necessary." I gestured back towards the main bastion. “Shall we?”

"Yes. . . We shall."

He moved back towards the cell that Tyberus was in and brought it open revealing the practicing Night Lord.

"It is time, Tyberus, Let's move."

The Siege Tyrants prepared a box formation to escort the Night Lord and within moments they were on their way. Kunzhardt didn't speak voluntarily and preferred to just move to the spire. As the group neared he noted his own adjutant along with a sorcerer conveniently placed behind him along with Captains from other companies each with their own sorcerer it seemed. The pot boiled within him again now He didn't enjoy this absolute invasion of privacy within the minds of everyone bringing pure knowledge to the one that would seek to eliminate opposition within the company. He left it to the Sorcerer to personally bring the prisoner to the Warsmith and stood beside Vhalos along with his respective Siege Tyrants. There were numerous Tyranthikos as well possibly all with aspirations of being named captain of First Company should the opportunity be presented.
 

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Discussion Starter #87
On the surface of Pelexis III, South of the Wolf's Claw

The captains and their equerries stood in a circle - only the Second Company was not represented. In spite of the bustle of the growing encampment, the circle stood deathly quiet, and those without helmets were grim-faced. If they anticipated the judgement of the First Captain with any glee, they kept it well-hidden. At the head of the circle, in the shadow of the ominous tower, stood the Warsmith, his helmet mag-locked to his hip, face a blank mask of indeterminate temperament.

The arrival of the defendant was heralded by the crushing stomp of ten terminator-armoured sets of feet, the defensive circle of Tyranthikos breaking into their midst and opening up to push the disgraced First Captain forward. The force of the shove knocked Tyberus over, and he fell to his knees, mud splattering on his legs and chest. Even with his hands restrained behind his back, he managed to balance himself sufficiently not to completely collapse, and the broad-shouldered marine began to rise to his feet, locking eyes with the Warsmith. The lines in his face deepened, and the Warsmith leaned forward, his features cast into shadow despite the daylight.

The circle of captains readjusted as Kunzhardt took his place among them, and their eyes briefly washed over the Immovable. He was, at the moment, a star ascendant; were Tyberus to be executed, then the Second would be in a very strong position to amalgamate his position with that of First Captain, adding the Tyranthikos to his fold. The Warsmith noted that the Second had, in his grip, a vambrace from the Fist Captain's armour; why it was of significance, he did not know, but he suspected that it had something to do with the blade within. Doubtless the First would use it in his defence.

Coeus, who had been standing by the Warsmith's side, stepped forward, and spoke loudly and clearly. Pelegon knew that this would be an immensely satisfying experience for the Epistolary, but the psyker kept his tone commanding and authoritative. It fooled none present, the attitude of the twins and their kin toward outsiders well-known, and filled Pelegon with the sinking feeling that this was something of a sham trial. He would not let that happen; furious as he was with Tyberus, he still held out hope that there was excusable reason for his irrational behaviour. He would let the two sides present their cases and argue it out, and weigh his judgement accordingly.

"Tyberus, First Captain of the XIXth Grand Company of the IVth Legion" Coeus announced "you stand accused of insubordination, for the slaying of Draxus of the First Company. Your guilt as to the killing is beyond question, and it is believed that you executed the aforementioned battle-brother, who had a flawless performance record and no history of previous transgressions or misdemeanours, for leveling his weapon at you at the Warsmith's orders"

The Epistolary stopped, and licked his lips. Pelegon cut off the information feed from his armour's cogitator and vox-unit that told him of his Grand Company's actions, movements and the statuses of individual units and companies, focusing his attention solely on the First Captain, who did not flinch or otherwise react to the charge laid before him - admirably calm, and Pelegon guessed that it might be irritating the Psyker, but did not know.

"You are allowed to present your defense before the prosecution presents its evidence"
 

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Tyberus continued his practice, working through his techniques, envisioning enemies that he would impale or cleave, the countless parries and counter thrusts he would make in a duel, all of his motions were fluid, calm and serene. Suddenly a wash of rage came over him, something he could not control or put his finger on. It was distant, but he felt it in his bones, like a magnet for his anger, it disrupted his calm and then it began to dissipate, as if whatever the cause had been moved on.
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His concentration renewed and his calm demeanor returned, resuming the practice of his combat forms. After the passage of an hour, maybe less, time was not something he dwelt on so much anymore, he heard the thundering footsteps of Tyrant Siege Terminators in number far more than needed to relieve the two Tyrant Siege Brothers who stood guard in front of his cell. ...That snake... He thought, sensing the presence, or perhaps the distinct smell of cowardice that followed The Seer and those that were members of the Librarius. Along with Captain Kunzhardt, Coeus the Seer was present, this had to be the doing of the WarSmith, to what end he was unsure.

"Pelegon has declared that Tyberus' trial be public. He is waiting on us and I suggest we don't keep him like that for longer than is absolutely necessary." Coeus spoke to Kunzhardt, ignoring the presence of Tyberus, who still viewed himself as First Captain. Coeus gestured back towards the main bastion, imploring them to bring their prisoner to face trial “Shall we?”

Surrounded by Tyrant Siege Terminators, boxed in, his hands were bound behind his back and he was marched to the bastion where The WarSmith awaited.
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As they arrived the Tyrant Siege Terminators broke their formation and shoved Tyberus into the center of the gathering, the eyes of all the other Captains and ranking Brothers as well as their equerries were present. The force sent him sprawling into the dirt, his heightened reflexes allowed him to catch himself even with his hands bound. As he pulled himself up he looked into the eyes of the WarSmith, seeking some sign or hint of how he was leaning, but found none. The WarSmith's face was unreadable beyond being agitated that this hearing was taking place.

"Tyberus, First Captain of the XIXth Grand Company of the IVth Legion" Coeus announced "you stand accused of insubordination, for the slaying of Draxus of the First Company. Your guilt as to the killing is beyond question, and it is believed that you executed the aforementioned battle-brother, who had a flawless performance record and no history of previous transgressions or misdemeanours, for leveling his weapon at you at the Warsmith's orders." The Seer spoke with a hint of arrogance and satisfaction in his tone as he finally leveled his official charge against Tyberus.

The WarSmith held his focus firmly on the First Captain, looking at see if he would lash out at the charges brought against him and then spoke, motioning for Tyberus to speak. "You are allowed to present your defense before the prosecution presents its evidence."

Tyberus stood straight, his broad shoulders squared, he could not fear anything, even death. His voice rang out clearly and unshaked despite the severity of his trial, so as he would be heard above the din of noise in the background of the encampment. "I am accused of murdering my Brother Draxus for following the orders of the WarSmith and raising his weapon to me. Until this moment, none in the First Company have been privy to the reasons for the execution of Draxus. He was only presented as a Traitor, I never made mention of his actions. Furthermore, Brother Karius and Brother Dayus were also present and carried out the WarSmith's same order, yet I have not sought any form of reprisal against them. Yes, Draxus' death was carried out by my orders, but my Brother was not killed for his loyalty to the WarSmith and the XIXth Grand Company nor was he killed for aiming his weapon at me at the WarSmith's word. Draxus was killed for the simple reason that he failed the XIXth Company..." He allowed for the pause to sink in, accentuating his statement. "...My chosen Equerry Draxus was beginning to show signs of taint, and his hesitation to heed the WarSmith's orders absolutely in his chambers was the final confirmation. Draxus would never hesitate at the word of the WarSmith, he was as the Seer said, a Battle Brother beyond reproach." He turned to Captain Kunzhardt, "Brother Captain Kunzhardt, if you would present my vambrace and the blade concealed within it to the WarSmith without its power field deactivated. This is to be my evidence WarSmith." The Second Captain kept his word, silently he produced the vambrace with the blade now exposed, handing it to the WarSmith who took the weapon to examine it.

"Upon my blade is the blood of Draxus, however along with it there is the essence of warp taint." The aura of warp taint was clearly wrought throughout the darkened and congealed blood, Tyberus breathed heavily in through his nostrils, weighing his words carefully, before opting to speak the full truth...Finally. "WarSmith, as you know the First Company has had the lowest losses of any company due to corruption. I have seen to it that the Brothers of First Company are dutifully trained, that they spend their time either in attending to their skills through combat drills and annointing themselves in the Reclusium." He paused again, as if he stood at a ledge and were making his final considerations to jump or not. He leapt, hoping he could cross the proverbial cavern that lay before him. He wondered if his anxiousness could be felt by The Seer, or the WarSmith whom he had certain suspicions about. "I have stood as curator and guardian over the First Company for nearly 6 millenia...Since our time on Olympia I have been able to feel the essence of those around me." He breathed out somberly as if resigned to his fate, almost anticipating the death knell to come from Pelegon at the admission to his minor, but existing psychic powers. "Our time on Medrengaard, so close to the Eye has only served to further heighten my abilities marginally. That is how I have maintained such a sterling record of operation, the cancers have been removed before they could take root. I have sought to suppress these thoughts and abilities in the presence of my Brother Captains and my WarSmith, and in that regard I have mislead you WarSmith, but I have never sought to stand against you nor do I seek to ever stand against you and the XIXth."

He did not have any semblence of mastery over his telepathic abilities, but he could execute simple messages and he relayed one to the WarSmith. +*Please. Believe. WarSmith...Brother...*+ was all he could attempt to communicate to Pelegon, but he felt nothing, almost as if the WarSmith was not present, but he stood mere meters away, as if he sought to communicate with a veritable wall. His fate was no longer his, he had presented his account, and truthful and sincere as he was he was unsure of how the WarSmith would rule. He squared his shoulders and stood resolute looking into Pelegon's eyes, "I shall accept whatever your decision may be."
 

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Lucian kicks away the debris baring the exit of the boarding pod and raises his bolter in his left hand putting two shots into the fenrisian serf struggling to his feet at the end of the corridor. Looking around at the carnage from his squads entrance he sighs and shakes his head at how unsubtle ship-to-ship warfare was as the rest of his command squad formed up behind him with Zarthel and Rasiel to his left and right respectively as he listened to the thudding of the other boarding pods of third company slam into the 'Fist of Russ'.

With twenty of his brother Dark Angels at his back Lucian relayed his orders to the rest of his company about the ship sending them to their specific locations as himself and his squad would head towards the bridge and slay the wolves that were currently making it their den. Setting off at a job Lucian was followed by his fellow warriors of the First Legion in their midnight black armour as they raised their bolters and blades in preparation for anything that the space wolves had to throw in their way as his mind turned to dealing with the matter of storming a bridge occupied by wolves or if they would come out fighting and be bogged down in a fire fight in the corridors.
 

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Tyberus presented his case for his innocence, and in the same breath confirmed a suspicion of mine that I had shared with few others besides Iapetus and my most senior Librarians. Tyberus’ flare was a flickering one, not hard to miss amongst my brethren and when I was distracted but it was there. However, everyone else seemed to be taken aback by this revelation, I even saw Pelegon’s stance shift as if in discomfort. I did the same. It was more profitable for me to feign surprise, much like it had been profitable for me to feign ignorance before. The more your opponents underestimated you, the easier it was to manipulate them.

As the Night Lord pleaded with the Warsmith for his life, I relieved him of Tyberus’ gauntlet. I could marvel at its intricacies later, but for now the taint on the weapon was my main concern. This would be the sticking point. If Draxus was obviously tainted, so much so that an uninitiated half-breed could spot it then there would be serious implications as to why or how I and my Librarium had missed it. Tyberus was correct that it was tainted, but I had seen enough men of this grand company bleed and die to know that such thing was an inherent by-product of where we called home. Beyond that, it was not significantly more tainted than I would expect. That left few options open for what manner or corruption Draxus was embedded in.

I felt Tyberus strain to beat against Pelegon’s fortress mind as I dipped two fingers in the congealed blood and rolled it between them and my thumb. There was something hidden in this. I breathed psychically and the blood evaporated as I did. Faint stars of power winked out of existence as the blood boiled and my gauntlets became their matt azure colour again. I ran my tongue over my teeth. Draxus wasn’t tainted, well not in the sense that he bowed before the alters of the Dark Gods. He was being used like a looking glass. A spy. How ironic given the role the Night Lord had him perform.

An expectant hush came over the gathered captains. They were reeling from what had been revealed to them but they waited to hear my response, for it was the response of the investigative branch of the Grand Company. Mine was the word of our inquisition. “Let us be clear what manner of taint we speak of here Tyberus. Draxus was not a worshiper of the dark gods, nor had he been ‘gifted’. My brothers, Draxus was being used as a spy. Another being looked through his eyes and sought to determine what the Unbroken XIXth were made of. For what purpose I will speculate later. For now…” My attention turned to Tyberus now. My posture focused entirely on him. He was stalwart in the face of oppression. My shoulders squared. My stance was one of open opposition. “…let us establish what we do know.”

My gaze bored into Tyberus for a moment. I held it as I walked to his side to face the crowd. Pelegon was listening, of that I was certain, but the masses needed to be convinced as well. “We know that psykers are both blessings and curses.” A few people bristled at the accusation, but I raised my hands and bid them silence. “Do not try to hide your feelings from us, we see them plain enough. And you are right to fear us. When abused, psychic powers are gateways for all manner of daemonic beings to force their way into one’s flesh and spirit. Those who possess such powers know that better than any. What do we say then?” I spread my arms over the audience, courting a response although none was required or forthcoming. “Do we shun them? Do we purge them as a wholly evil force? Do we make the hypocritical edict the Emperor forced on us so long ago?”

“No!” Came a loud voice. Codicer Gnore who stood a stone’s throw from Kunzhardt. A brave man indeed, it made my ego swell momentarily.
“The first line of the Unbreakable Litiny.” I asked. As one, reflexively the whole crowd repeated.
“From Iron cometh Strength”
“Our Iron is in our veins. Our strength is our brotherhood. Where the old mentor the young. Where the learned educate the unlearned. Where we are all taught, from our initiation to guard ourselves. The second line…” I barely had time to finish before it was repeated back to me.
“From Strength cometh Will.”
“From our strength we compound our wills. Wills which alone might be enough to resist temptation once they have been honed, but together are unbreakable.” I didn’t even have to ask. The next line came to me.
“From Will cometh Faith.”
“Faith. Belief. Understanding of what is expected of us. A faith in our wills and an assurance of the purity of our purpose.”
“From Faith cometh Honour.”
“We honour one another and we honour you. We remove taint from our midst and from yours. We protect you. We use our knowledge to serve the Grand Company.”
“From Honour cometh Iron.”

I let the final line of the Unbreakable Litany hang for a moment. This was all just setting the stage. It was almost unrelated, but necessary for what was to follow. “My brothers you know this of us. These are the vows we swear when we join the Librarium and these are our oaths. But what of Tyberus? He who has deceived you for six millennia and until now sought to hide his abilities from us. Where is his brotherhood to bind him, his training to protect him from the temptations of the Chaos Gods, his Iron?” Another moment to consider. “Ask yourselves why it is that Tyberus has kept this hidden for so long. Are the Librarians of this Company outlawed? Are they hunted for their gifts? No. They are embraced and utilised. If he has no fear of reproach, the why hide them…unless there is something undesirable about them.” Here was where the prosecution began.

“For six millennia we have had a rogue psyker in our midst, untrained and unsupervised. In the centre of a toxic maelstrom of chaotic energy no less! We have seen how even trained psykers can fall, it is something those of us in the Librarium are wary of and know how to watch for. Yet and untrained psyker is even more of a liability. Such shame at his powers that other display so openly might be a relic from his legion…” I couldn’t resist. Curze always hated psykers with such delicious irony. “…or it might reflect their shameful origin. Perhaps they were an unwelcomed gift, from an unknown patron. In the darkness, in his own mind, how are we to know what insidious daemonic powers might have wormed their way into an unprotected mind? To know that one possessed such gifts and not to have once asked to be examined or trained in the arts of mentally shielding oneself displays either an obscene arrogance or incredible foolishness, both quite ample gateways.”

Insinuations and fear mongering were not what those gather or Pelegon wanted, as interesting as such theories might be. Time to get to the meat of the matter. “Now whilst it is commendable that you were able to spot such a subtle shift in Draxus’ character, why did you decide to murder him Tyberus? If you believed he was being manipulated, why not bring it to the attention of the Librarium, those with the training to be able to discover the puppet master behind it. We might have identified those that sought to infiltrate the Grand Company and thus protected it better from them. Instead you chose to take matters into your own hands and sever the connection by killing him, leaving us with nothing more than a corpse and a psychic spore we are most likely unable to follow…” I let the bloody gauntlet fall amongst the ash and broken soil. “…Once again I don’t know whether you are an arrogant fool or just merely a fool.”

I was almost done, but there was one other possibility. One I could not prove but only speculate on. Perhaps it didn’t need to be true, it merely had to be presented with everything else and it would be swallowed with the same pill. “There is an alternative though, because Draxus was more than your enquiry. He was your informant, your spy that you could dress up in other clothes and send in amongst the other companies. We have yet to ascertain what powers you possess. If you used Draxus and saw what he saw and heard what he heard, you would have tainted him as much as any outside force.” I took a few steps back.

“Perhaps when Draxus was ordered to fire on you, you tried to influence him maybe just reflexively, and that made him draw slower. Wouldn’t it be awfully convenient if you could kill one of the men, who threatened your life, declare him a traitor against yourself, in order to build up loyalty to only you. Then have the same man be tainted by your own machinations so that if you were called to account, you could accuse him of being corrupt. And wouldn’t it be convenient also if the one man, Draxus, who we could either use to trace the source of the taint back to or ask to exonerate you were also dead, so we had no one’s word but yours to believe that an outside force was the source of his taint...” My voice dropped low for a moment. Likely only Tyberus and Pelegon heard it. “…I don’t believe in coinciences.”

Finally I turned my attentions back to Pelegon, but wary that should Tyberus’s result be unfavourable he might reach for his discarded gauntlet. I was prepared for such an eventuality. “Warsmith you have heard my thoughts on these matters and my confidence in the truth of Tyberus’ words. If you care for my advice, I would ask for permission to explore Tyberus’ mind and discover the truth of these matters as well as what powers, if any, he may have unknowingly courted. An untrained psyker is a liability and must be trained. I would ask that Tyberus be handed over to the Librarium until such a time as we deem his training complete so that he may not endanger himself or others.” To call for death without any physical evidence of treachery would be madness on my part. Pelegon already believed I would call for the death of a half breed, given any excuse. In truth, my suggestion was the least I expected Pelegon to do. However, the Warsmith was not one to suffer fools, and Tyberus had certainly proven himself very foolish by his actions…
 

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He listened intently, picking out the subtleties of Coeus' word choices, he sought to incite fear and mistrust among a group that could never have any of the former and already had plenty of the latter. It was an admirable strategy and Tyberus appreciated the man's zeal with which he pursued his agenda, that the half breed's error must have been with the most vile of intentions. Certainly the forces they dealt with and were confronting in this 'trial' were vile, but the underlying ill will within the Grand Company as a whole was no less serious of an issue. Tyberus did what he could to remain as calm and unreadable as possible, but doubtless The Seer could pick up on the tinge of irritation at the numerous additional half-charges the Seer sought to float out into the thoughts of those present. His tactic was a simple one- Coeus would throw what accusations he could think of and see which might stick or hold some credence in the eyes of those in attendance and more importantly in the eyes of the WarSmith. It was a tactic that Tyberus himself did not like as he preferred more to deal in absolutes.

One of the more circuitous accusatory theories that Coeus aired was the idea of Tyberus utilizing his own spy Draxus in an effort to view his surroundings and as a means to preemptively disguise his murder as the killing of a man tainted.

He looked to Pelegon and he opened his mouth as if to make a request but was cut off by nod from the WarSmith signifying he would hear his rebuttal. "Coeus on the one hand you remark on me as but a simple, untrained and weak psyker in the midst of the Grand Company, then on the other you seek to paint me as a psyker of great ability. Certainly I saw you, as did all of our Brother Captains in the WarSmith's chamber when my Honor Guard obeyed the WarSmith's orders. Surely in the moment, the act of even passively viewing the surroundings through the eyes of my Equerry would have been detected by one so magnanimous as yourself. You did not sense it because I did no such thing." He looked to Coeus, who would sense the truth of his words in both his aura and the fact that Tyberus had not used his abilities at all in such a way and did not even possess the capability to do so. Never the less, the suggestion that he might have still hung heavily in the air.

"My purpose for executing Draxus was simple, to close off the looking glass, whatever was on the other end wished to see things that only a First Captain's equerry would be privy to, which could involve matters of great import to the Grand Company as a whole. Rather than give that being any further time to sink its claws into my Brother or any others I severed its link. Likewise, I wished for the execution to be brutal and excessive in its nature for the sole purpose of showing whatever was on the other end the looking glass what will happen to it and its minions should they ever attempt to trifle with the XIXth Grand Company."

He looked around to ranking officers that were assembled and their equerries, lieutenants of company's, members of the Librarius and the WarSmith himself. "I am not a Librarian, nor do I ever seek to become one. I am a warrior through and through, my abilities do not hinder my abilities to fight and lead those under my command. I am no rogue, I have always answered to the WarSmith who judges whether or not I am an adequate commander or not." He looked to Coeus, "Perhaps one reason that the most well trained Librarians among us can fall to the sway of the Warp Gods is because they seek too much knowledge of things they should not. I hold no such temptation, I utilize my ability, yes, but I do not have any desire to delve into tombs of ancient and uncontrollable knowledge," he noted the Tombs that sat in the hands or mag locked to the hips of many of the Librarians. "-In the manner that the Librarius seems all too eager to do, unfastening locks to the immatereum because of their arrogance and their thirst for more knowledge. I accept what I am, but I am a warrior above all, that is why I have sought to keep my own abilities concealed. I have managed my abilities for 6 thousand years through regimented training and daily annointment within the Reclusium, I hold no marks or whispers of the Warp within me. I have concealed my abilities because I am best suited to fighting on the front lines and did not wish for any to view me as anything other than the greatly accomplished warrior and leader of close combat operations that I am."

He sensed Coeus' thoughts on his vambrace that lay close by on the dirt and he wondered if the Seer was baiting him, trying to suggest he take action that would most assuredly see him dead. It was an underhanded tactic, but Tyberus forced himself to face straight ahead to the WarSmith, ignoring the weapon that lay just a meter or so away from him. "I have made my rebuttal WarSmith, whatever your ruling I shall accept."
 

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“Frankly Tyberus, I don’t think you have a choice whether you will accept the Warsmith’s ruling…” I interjected, my voice oddly serious although Tyberus’ constant assurances that he would accept the ruling whatever it was made me laugh inside. “…That is the nature of his position, to say how you shall respond and for you to do so. Or have your fantastical illusions of power distorted your view so much you think the Warsmith requires your permission to pass judgement.” I looked to Pelegon who motioned with nought more than a move of his fingers that I should continue.

“Let me begin your education here Tyberus. It is not duplicity that allows me to examine you as both an untrained psyker and one who has potentially learnt mastery over whatever powers you have. It is simply the recognition that because we cannot verify either one at this point, we must hold both truths in tension until one is disproved…” It sometimes amazed me how people could still view the universe in such black and white terms, even after all we had seen and done. “…It is true that if you are, as you claim, a psyker who has been repressing his abilities, an attempt to exercise them would have been obvious to me and by brothers.”

Tyberus’ thought still churned, he knew I would not give ground like that so easily. “However, since we only have your word for that, and the fact that you are on trial…” My hands moved smoothly to encompass those around us. “…does not allow us to place any great faith in your words, we must entertain the possibility that the same entities which may have given you your powers also tutored you in them and how to disguise them, so that your allegiances would not be revealed before their time.” Several of the gathered warriors understood and agreed, I saw of felt as such. At least they listened to reason. “Again, I would remind you that you have no one but yourself to blame that you killed Draxus before he could be used to corroborate your story.” I heard a few chuckles from that remark, one which were swiftly silenced by stern looks or swift jabs to the side.

“I am pleased that you believe that every force in the universe can be cowed in submission by showing them your very sharp sword…” my voice was dripping with sarcasm. It was beyond me how someone in such a high position of authority managed to be so foolish. “…but to those of us not handicapped by the same brain tumours you seem to suffer from realise that there are many mortals and creatures which do not fear death. What purpose did your execution serve then?” I waited for an answer that was not forthcoming unsurprisingly. “…Nothing, other than to further demonstrate your own foolishness and deny those who might have been able to ascertain the source of the threat to our Grand Company a chance to do so, and thus better anticipate their next move.”

There was still one matter that was left to be resolved. The Night Lord had deliberately challenged the integrity of the Librarium. It was an insult that made my blood boil, beneath my unreadable veneer of calm. Why should we have to answer the question of this mewling half-breed who had already proven several times over his idiocy by his actions? What could he possibly know about what we did or what we sacrificed that the name of Olympia and the legacy of the IVth legion might live on? Only those unenlightened questioned what we did in the name of our Grand Company, and we were not answerable to men such as these.

My posture and voice were calm, even if behind my mental walls I railed at the half-breed’s accusations. “It is not given to you to determine what the Librarium should or should not seek to learn. Any warrior knows that to get the best understanding of your foes, one way or another, you’ll end up covered in his blood and entrails. Such…unpleasantness is unavoidable. It is such knowledge, which you are so fit to dismiss that allows us to protect and serve the Grand Company as we do. If you believe ignorance will serve you better, you are free to try that. But I promise you now, ignorance will not save you. After all…” I gestured to the looming figure of the The Wolf’s Claw in the background. “…it will not save them.”
“Your rebuttal, Night Lord, consists of nothing more than more of your own empty words and no evidence to back them up. We still cannot be certain of what powers you possess, where they came from, whether you may have knowingly or unknowingly consorted with powers from the warp, who used Draxus or if in fact this corruption is merely a convenient excuse you are using to cover your own malcontent. However…” I switched between Pelegon and the arrayed captains. This was a public trial after all. “…what we do know is that you have deceived us for six millennia and now ask for our trust. We know that you took matters into your own hands and have deprived the Librarium of a resource it could have used to prevent a greater attack on the Grand Company, in a display of sheer foolishness. We know that untrained psykers, which you claim to be, are a liability which must be trained.” I didn’t turn back to Pelegon this time. I felt no need to reiterate my advice; it had not changed. Instead I searched the eyes and minds of those arrayed, seeing where they felt. I doubted mine and Tyberus’s voices would be the only ones for much longer…
 

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The Master of the forge watched this discussion go back and forth as well as his entourage of high ranking tech marines, known within the Factorum as the 12 Masters, only eleven were currently present. Adriun was weighing both of their arguments, and even though he had distaste for Coeus' personal beliefs, he could not find fault with his arguments. However the nightlord left much to be wanted, because at most his testimony could be considered speculation or blatant lies if he consorted with daemons. This much was true though, Draxus was the conduit for another mind, at least at one point. The fact that Draxus was dead however was not necessarrily as much of a hinderance to discovering his possessor as Coeus Implied, and he only thought this because of the tutelage of Sophacles the Warptek.

The Exchange was finished for the most part till either Pelegon decided on the judgement and punishment, or Tyberus continued the argument. Adriun was content to watch it play out, as he had little to contribute, having nothing to say for the defense or persecution of the fellow captain, but then Sophacles who was next to him, unreadable with his machine skull for a head that so seamlessly melded with the flesh of his neck and body, turned to Adriun and spoke to him in Binary.

His mechanical vocal augments hummed a high paced static that couldn't be understood by un-augmented ears.

Binary spech



Adriun raised an eyebrow but nodded, and said in static-code, "01010000 01110010 01101111 01100011 01100101 01100101 01100100 ."

Sophacles turned away immediately, and stepped forward, he looked to Pelegon and his metalic jaw imitated normal speech as his vox broadcaster uttered his mechanical voice in Gothic.

"Warsmith, I have been listening to the proceedings and have made some calculations...I would make a suggestion for how the Captain of the 1st should be handled. After Interrogation, which I suggest fully, do not turn him over to the Librarium for training." He paused and looked at each in kind, Coeus, Tyberus and Pelegon.

"My processors have come to a consensus that the safest route to handle Tyberus would be the rite of True Thought, and expulsion of warp mutated Grey matter, that would preserve Tyberus as the Warrior he is as well as remove the risk of such a low powered Psyker from becoming an unwilling or willing conduit to warp entities."

He pulled out a device, sort of like a Geiger counter, but with more intricate parts, it was custom detector that read residual warp energies. It flared in the presence of warp entities, giving readings that are higher in the presence of denser warp entities, denser also equating to more powerful.

"It was unexpected that Tyberus had warp powers, I only calculated a 15% chance, and this device never picked up significant readings beyond background residuals. He was overshadowed on Medrengard due to high background energies, out here in real-space I now detect a higher presence, double the background residual." His comment was meant to place a sort of power level for classification on Tyberus, which was apparently very low from the reading.

"Such low power levels are unnoticeable, though there is only a 5% chance that he is hiding far more power. With my Proposal...I deem it a better use of company resources than training a low level psyker whose powers are questionable...as they come from mutation rather than birth, which brings me to a conclusion of 65% chance of further mutation, which adds in dangerous variables."

He put the device away, and walked a bit closer, his unreadable machine face looking directly into Tyberus' own, as if he was examining a specimen. " Coeus, it is not only a matter of insult, he may indeed have a cancer of the brain that gives him these abilities, further investigation is required."

He stepped back towards Adriun, but remained just outside the group of Tech Marines in case he was addressed for further inquiry.

"That is all I have to add. I shall run further simulations to see if I arrive at other alternatives."
 

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The trial, if it could be called that, continued onward and several revelations were laid out seemingly one after the other. First that Draxus, Tyberus' personal equerry was murdered for not just for show but for his taint was a striking one, and that Tyberus himself was a Psyker was another. At this point it struck Kunzhardt as whoever had the last card hidden up their sleeve would win but that did little to slow the hounding prosecution that Coeus had brought to bear. Kunzhardt's features belayed nothing but inside he was a volcano. He wanted to rend the Night Lord apart and cast him to the wind for concealing his psychic presence. He likely had played the Second Captain all along and used him as a pawn to further his own ideals now like some twisted word shaper of Tzeentch. He felt his fists clenching and unclenching again and his teeth like a steel trap straining under the pressure his jaw was exerting.

The whole deal could possibly be overlooked and accepted if it weren't for the fact that cannons were erupting around them and they were contented to this little political fiasco. He felt like a starving child thrown into a magnificent bakery and forced to only smell the food. At this point he didn't care at all about Tyberus, or Coeus or anything in the area. All he wanted was battle and to bring glory to the XIXth.

He said nothing but silently fumed at the fervor of Coeus seemingly throwing anything he could at Tyberus trying to get something-anything to stick to see his pursuits meet fruition. Part of him was surprised that this was allowed to continue. The other captains, specifically one of the Tech Marines servants chimed in calling for the lobotomy of Tyberus which despite being another annoying hindrance to the end of this trial did bring a slight smile to his face as he thought of the smug captain reduced to little more than a slightly more capable servitor.

He didn't speak, nor would he, he was captain of the guard here he was to watch over the proceeding and ensure Tyberus was safe from any incursions but also that Tyberus would not attempt any escape or last second killings before he finally died and at this point with all the revelations that he wouldn't release some greater daemon into their midst. It was precisely this reason that he preferred to remain in the battle field. Things were simple there firepower killed and might was currency spent to win. He allowed his mind to wander towards his new heavy tanks. He briefly thought about how wonderful it would be to command one of the beasts and to see everything in a straight line reduced to cinder. There wouldn't even be screams aside from the gun itself. Just an immediate obliteration. The thought lasted only a second and he was back at the trial.


It could be said that Coeus and Tyberus were fighting their own kind of war one of words but this form of 'combat' bored him and made his muscles ache for combat especially with one occurring quite literally a bolt round away from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #95
Planetside

As the trial progressed, the Warsmith found himself increasingly disinterested in the outcome. On a fundamental level he understood that it was of paramount importance that he make the right decision, both from a perspective of good leadership for the 1st Company, and that of maintaining his own power base - yet, somewhat more wishfully, he had the urge to go purify himself. All this politicking, infighting and instability. Of course it would have to be worked out, for like an air bubble in a sheet of steel it could eat away and destroy the structural integrity of the whole without the correct attention. It had been centuries since he had last taken to the field of battle, and the Warsmith had thought himself rid of his own baser urges to commit violence, yet now they returned. To plunge the blade of his sword through an opponent's chest with enough force for its pommel to crack the breastplate. That would be good. To stick it through Tyberus' head and feel the spray of hot blood on his face and its rich stink in his nostrils...a quick solution, but ultimately not constructive.

"I have reached my decision" Pelegon stated, and was pleased when every eye - bar the Epistolary, who was already looking at him - set itself on him. The Warsmith stepped forward, his tread heavy with the weight of ages, until he towered over the disgraced 1st, who looked up to meet him. The Night Lord's pitch black eyes bored into Pelegon's own dark brown pair, and the Warsmith reached forward, and tapped Tyberus' forehead with a finger.

"The Warp changes us, this you all know" he turned and looked over his assembled captains. That the Epistolary had managed to rouse them so did not please him. They would be, in all likelihood, eager to see Tyberus' blood spilled. They would draw some satisfaction from his judgement.

"As the Iron rusts and warps, so it flakes and falls by the wayside. We all knew at least one lost to the whispers of the Dark Gods, and that is good. By excising that which is weak, that remaining is stronger. But what do we do when the corrosion and rot does not remove flakes? What is to be done when the rust eats out the heart of our Iron?"

Without apparent effort, the Warsmith grabbed Tyberus by the neck, his huge right hand clamped over the 1st Captain's windpipe, and lifted him up. Though the two were similar in breadth, Pelegon had the height advantage. Tyberus did not fight back, though all present could see that breathing was impossible while being held so.

"On Olympia, when a dog bit the hand that fed it, we cut its belly open. A fair judgement, I think you would all agree" and they nodded, and Pelegon inclined his own head to show his agreement "but sometimes that dog could bite for reasons outside its own control. Our 1st Captain developed psychic powers, but he is not alone in his alteration. I too find myself touched by the Warp, and will tell you all now that I have developed the talent, if you want to call it that, of witch-sight"

Silence, as they digested his statement. Pelegon had spoken slowly and carefully, Tyberus' face growing redder and redder all the while, yet still he did not struggle. Had he done so, then the Warsmith would have broken his neck then and there.

"Know that I do not blame our erstwhile brother for his gift, but his ignorance as to the implications that it could have. I myself did not detect his psychic presence, and while my abilities pale in comparison to those of our esteemed colleagues in the Librarium, the amount of time I spend with the 1st Captain on a regular basis should have made his changes easy for me to detect. But I did not, and it is my failing as much as that of the Librarium, so neither you nor I should hold them in any contempt over this"

Tyberus' face had gone an interesting shade of purple - by now the body of any mortal would have shut down due to hypoxia. The 1st Captain, for all his strength of body and will, was not far from entering sus-an membrane suspension.

"The song of the Dark Gods wails loudest for those with the curse of the psyker. Catastrophe was narrowly avoided, as no hint of taint was found on the 1st Captain. For his ignorance and endangering us all, I turn him over to the tender care of Brother Sophacles. I trust that you will excise the witch from his mind and body - but leave them both whole enough to function"

With a contemptuous curl of his arm, the Warsmith hurled Tyberus, who sailed a metre or so through the air before landing in the mud, sliding along until he hit Sophocles' armoured boots. For a few minutes, the only sound was Tyberus' strangled coughing and gasping as he wrestled air back into his lungs.

"If the accused and his curse can be separated, a place awaits him in our ranks. But for his lack of diligence, failing to report what he had done to me or the Librarius, his rank is stripped of him. Let him be known no longer as Tyranus, Hand of the Warsmith and 1st Captain of the 19th Grand Company, but let him walk among us as Tyberus, battle brother of the 1st Company. For his history of service, his life will be spared - but my clemency extends only so far"

The Warsmith broke through the assembled circle, waving an arm dismissively to indicate the hearing was at an end, and approached the foot of the newly-constructed tower. It was an imposing thing, some forty metres in height, tapering to a platform at the top, and covered in spikes, a conveyor belt running up the back. He grabbed one of the stanchion-like spikes, and began his ascent, scaling the object with little difficulty despite his size and weight.

"A new captain will be appointed in due course" the Warsmith continued, and though he was now well above them, his voice came as clear as a bell through their microbeads, as though he were breathing in their ears "for now, Captain Kunzhardt remains their commander. Assume positions. Three-metre spacings on the trench line, Tyranthikos in orbit awaiting deep strike"

The Warsmith now stood atop the tower, watching the fortress. The smoke bombardment had ceased, and all around him ancient warriors in battle-plate of burnished iron took their positions, standing on the lips of the trenches. Behind them, lines of more warriors made lines toward the slave corrals, from where the mortals would be ushered. They had already been scanned for potentially suitable recruits - all that remained were those unsuitable for implantation. No loss.

Pelegon took a moment to look around him, drinking the sight in. Now came the time to set the bait.

"IRON WARRIORS" he roared, the ironclad giant's monstrous lungs capable of making the sound carry over the two-mile diameter of the trench ring "BRING OUT THE PRISONERS!"

As watching the cogs in a clock move, the Iron Warriors opened the doors on the slave pens, and the crowds pushed forward, prompted through the firing of bolters and the promise of violence. Those that stumbled or hesitated were crushed by the wave that surged behind. They flowed like a liquid, moving between the lines of Iron Warriors and ushered into the trenches, and each Iron Warrior standing on the lip of the trench line grabbed one - a human in one hand, and a knife in the other.

Pelegon felt the rumble beneath his feet as the conveyor belt in his tower started up, and waited patiently. The Iron Warrior operating its base, the navigator Jurgen, had been given orders to send to the Warsmith a very specific type of prisoner, should one be available. As the sound of infantile cries reached his ears, he knew that he had not disappointed. Jurgen had once served as Pelegon's weapon-bearer, back when such a position had still existed. An efficient and loyal warrior, Jurgen's creativity had in part inspired Pelegon to make the plan he now enacted - indeed, the navigator had suggested to the Warsmith that a young mother made the perfect starting victim.

At the top the conveyor belt dumped exactly what he had been expecting - the woman, barely more than a girl, was almost paralyzed by fear. Her hair was matted and filthy, and her clothes were torn and damp from the mud and sweat of the press of a thousand bodies. In her arms she clutched a wailing baby wrapped in grimy rags, her attempts to calm it undermined by her own palpable terror.

"Shh" Pelegon activated the microbead built into his armour's gorget, and the speakers set up around the entrenched position broadcasted his words, projecting them over the battlefield, to where the Wolves would be listening "do not worry"

The girl looked up at him, eyes wide and brimming with moisture. The stink of fear, human waste and sweat disgusted the Warsmith. Was this what the Imperium had been reduced to? To think that once he would have given his life to create a better one for people like this. To think that he had seen his brothers die in battle for the betterment of this unworthy filth. He held a huge steel hand out, and caressed her face with it. She screamed, and the baby's wailing intensified, amplified by the huge speaker arrays.

"My child, why do you shy from my touch? I am an angel, sent to save you. Look around, how you stand over your fellows. Do you not see my armour and sword?"

The woman stopped screaming, and stared at him. Her eyes were full of mistrust, but now, deep in their depths, he saw the beginning glimmer of hope. As expected.

"Y...you're a...a space marine, aren't you?" she managed, her voice a barely audible whisper "b...b...you...you look different...to the others...in..." she nodded toward the fortress, which sat like a silent rock in the distance. The Warsmith continued, his voice warm and gentle, and now when he reached out and touched her shoulder, she did not shy away.

"I am. We are your salvation. Our father sent us, to bring our message to all the Emperor's loyal subjects and followers. Tell me, are you a loyal follower? Do you love your Emperor?"

She nodded, and Pelegon nodded back, pointing at the baby in her arms.

"Tell me, does he love his Emperor?"

The girl nodded again, and the Warsmith held his arms out, and beckoned with them.

"Please, may I give him my blessing? To tell him the message that my father gave to me?"

Slowly, hesitantly, she disengaged the howling baby from her breast and offered it to Pelegon, who took it in one huge hand as easily as a mortal might a particularly choice fruit.

"Thank you" he said, and rose up again to his full height, turning to face the Wolf fortress. The baby cried and cried, and the Warsmith turned his full attention to its pink, scrunched-up face - and smiled.

To all the Iron Warriors present, it was like seeing the dark side of the moon. Never before had they seen such a look grace their grim commander's features - love and affection shone from it, twinkled in the wells of his eyes. The baby was silenced, and even giggled, reaching out small pink fists. The Warsmith offered one huge finger, and the baby wrapped both arms around it, hugging it close to its body. Even through his armour, Pelegon could feel the small, vital heat of the baby's bare skin as it clung onto him, strong in spite of its size and young age. In that moment, the light shining off his armour, Pelegon was the picture of the man he could have been; protector of humanity, its greatest hero and most loyal servant. The crowds of human servants stopped their wailing, too awestruck by the majesty of his posture, and he could feel the hope, palpable in the air. They thought that he was their salvation.

"What is his name?"

"Sanguinius"

The Warsmith stopped, and for a moment his facade was stripped off and the true man beneath was laid bare. To those watching, it like watching a dark cloud passing over the face of the sun, before he broke again into a smile and turned his head to the girl, who was standing by his side, clutching at his leg.

"Named after the hero, I take it?"

She nodded, and the Warsmith sighed.

"I thought so"

In a single smooth motion, Pelegon drew his arm back and swung it like a catapult, hurling the baby as far as he could. There was stunned silence from the assembled mortals, and then the mother began to shriek. Without sparing a moment, Pelegon pushed her off the edge, and her screams were cut short as she landed right on one of the spikes far below, killed by the impact. With a distant thud, the baby landed right outside the gates of the Wolf's Claw, kicking up a small puff of dust.

"That was the first one" Pelegon spoke, his voice again cold and mechanical, and he replaced his helmet with one arm as he grabbed the next mortal to be sent up the conveyor belt - an old man, bent with age, defiantly refusing to cry out or show his panic. Commendable, but pointless.

"With every hour that you hug that pathetic excuse of a bastion like the puppies you are, more of these mortals will die - and not well" miniscule blades were projected out of the fingers of his gauntlets, and holding the old man up in one arm, he used the other to begin to skin him. The man's screaming carried out over the field and acted as the signal for the gathered Iron Warriors to start doing the same with their own prisoners. The air was soon filled with a cacophonous orchestra of torture and the expression of abject horror and misery.

"Come and face us - you are all condemned one way or another, but you would hold, surely, that they do not deserve this suffering? Once we have killed you all, we will withdraw and render the planet purgatus. Until then, enjoy this siren song of pain"


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The Fist of Russ

((I don't hugely want to give you the specifics of the ship-combat, but I suppose I'll have to, Revan))

Down the corridors there come only acolytes - Fenrisian one and all, they fight bravely to their last, but are absolutely no match for the speed and fury of the 3rd Company, who move with typical speed and efficiency - no bolt round or sword swing is wasted, and in your progress to the bridge you cut through over fifty of the acolytes. It seems that the Wolves are saving what astartes presence they have on your level for the Bridge.

The Bridge of The Wandering King

The Fist Of Russ' shields are rapidly collapsing under such heavy bombardment, their generators unable to maintain any form of serious defence against the sheer tonnage of firepower that the 7th Company are capable of putting out. With a set of sparks that cover the Wolf ship, their shields sputter and die out entirely - it is up to you whether or not you keep shooting. They maintain a gallant, if pointless barrage of firepower as you close the distance.

As you stand on the bridge, Iapetus - lord and master of his domain - you are aware of flashing signals on one of the control panels indicating that you are within range to eject transports more or less safely. Deep-striking range will be reached within a handful of minutes.
 

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I have reached my decision.

The borderline Pavlovian trigger of Pelegon's voice snapped Kunzhardt back into reality. He had been paying attention and had been watching the proceedings but had been mostly ignorant to the arguments. It seemed like both sides were slinging at each other and he wanted it to end. He watched their body language and listened to the tones but he really wasn't present until the Warsmith spoke and when he brought Tyberus aloft by his neck the second captain assumed the fate of the former First Captain.

No snap came, no disemboweling, no blood-just a monologue from the warsmith speaking the flowery analogies that he was so accustomed to with the XIXth speaking of Iron and Rust and other metallurgical terms that were implanted within the being of the Ivth legion. The only revelation of the monologue that left an impact was the admission of psychic powers within their own Warsmith. How had he hidden such a curse from the rest of the XIXth? The one who's Iron was supposed to be purest of all tainted by the warp? The pot simmered but did not come to a boil as Pelegon continued and ended the sentence with the sentencing of Tyberus. A lobotomy, the purging of tainted brain matter to ensure the purity of the soul. He would reduce the bat to little more than an automata leaving a bittersweet taste in the Second Captain's mouth yet again. He would be happy to see a proud bat reduced to menial labor with little to be called a person but he also had an alliance with the 1st through Tyberus and as despicable as Tyberus was he was still a familiar devil that would fight by Kunzhardt's side while any of the potential candidates could be purists aligned with Coeus making his stations' footing all the more tenuous.

Then whatever the Warsmith's plans were unfolded and he bellowed out for the prisoners to be brought forth and countless mud and shit covered souls herded out like the cattle they were. There was no sympathy in either of the Second Captain's hearts. They were weak and put up no contest accepting their fate with passivity; whatever Pelegon's plans were he welcomed what would fall to these Humans that stained their very species. Pelegon seemed to take pity on one of them in particular, a young woman with child in hand. Kunzhardt wished to gut every man that dared to stand by her that had been taken without struggle for not defending her. The feeling quickly dissipated though; that was an Iron Warrior's thought from a different time. . . A different age.

He cooed the child and the woman revealing his angelic face. While marines were tools built for war and for conquering they maintained a visage that could only be described as Godlike to those left to wallow in squalor and being surrounded by these nigh perfect beings made those 'normal' humans all the more disappointing. He hated them all in that moment and wished he had a Eviscerator that he might rend them all apart and bath in their screams. . These weaklings. And at the moment in which Kunzhardt had entertained the thought that Pelegon had snapped mentally he thrust out and sent the babe flying from his spire the infant screaming like a falling shell as it sailed to the fortress to thump lifelessly into the ground and the plan was realized. . . .Break the spirit and the body. . . Then break the wolves.

He grabbed the closest unfortunate soul with his left hand by his shoulder and brought him close with the look of grim contempt as he looked over the weakling. Emaciated, dirt covered and with somewhat sunken cheeks and the general appearance of a soul that's been worked past exhaustion most of its life. The middle aged man looked at the towering monster and spittle drizzled down his leg dripping onto the floor bringing even more disgust from Kunzhardt.

"I free you from your shame, worm."

The colossal powerfist grasped about the man's torso with ease and he didn't even bother to engage the power field he just slowly squeezed yielding a painful grunt from the man that quickly escalated into uncontrollable screaming as he heard multiple things within the man's torso pop and crack. Blood poured from his mouth that he in turn choked on and pawed helplessly at the armoured pauldron that coldly ignored the cries. It continued briefly until the man stopped squirming and was cast aside like a used cup which led Kunzhardt to grab another. This wasn't honorable fighting. It was far from it, there was no proud combat here - at least not yet but these disgraceful souls didn't deserve the title of human's and so Kunzhard would eradicate this weakness in the species.

His eyes turned to the castle and the only thoughts that swam in his mind consisted of a demanding almost begging desire for the Wolve's to leave their hovel and to attack.
 

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Sophacles looked down at the muddied 1st Company veteran, the former Captain, and hauled him to his feet with relative ease. A retinue of Tech-Marines then gathered around, coupled with a few servitors and the few Tech-Priests that had come planet side.

"Come Brother Veteran, you will be placed into holding for preliminary testing, to ascertain the nature of your mutation. When the battle is over, the operation will take place in the Apothecarion under the directing of the Master Genetor and Forge Master. I will run a calculation to determine the severity of Mutation upon further testing." He said as he walked Tyberus along and brought him into the bunkers.

They then brought him to a cell that had been jury rigged with some testing equipment, and they laid him down on a gurney as they began to perform scans, Sophacles merely watching as the others performed the tests.
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Adriun was surprised at the turn of events, he supposed the Warsmith didn't want to allow another unregistered Psyker, Pelegon being the exception. He watched as Sophacles took Tyberus away before returning his attention to Pelegon who had now ascended the tower.

What happened next though he had hoped to not see, a woman and child were brought up to the spire, where the Warsmith talked to them, he could not hear from ground level though, but it seemed strangely kind of the Warsmith. The mere thought of kindness brought hope to Adriun just as it quickly dashed it away, for he sensed this to be a ruse of some sort and his heart began to sink.

When Pelegon tossed the infant though, that caused something entirely different to rise in Adriun. It boiled forth like molten iron, pure and fiery his anger frothed to the surface, he flashed back to his child hood and heard the chattering again. The gnashing of teeth, cracking of bone, the chewing of flesh it was all so vivid to him and the fear that had been present in that memory was gone, having left with his ascension as an astartes, now only a rebellious anger to lash out at fate and to slay the monsters who had slain his youthful fellows and their families. Except the monster now was his master, he looked up to Pelegon but was always guarded in his views on mortals, but now he wished to fight, and to condemn the actions of his fellows who seemed little more than death hungry beasts.

He clenched his fists tightly, trying to reign in his anger, his gritted visage only hidden by the Helmet he wore, he only hoped the wolves came soon, for he needed a recipient for his fury. He would forge death with the heat of his hate and anger soon.
 

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Tyberus forced himself to hold back his laughter at the ruling of the WarSmith. This had been a mockery of justice, and only further highlighted the hypocrisy of Pelegon. Tyberus himself, an unregistered psyker had been stripped of his rank of First Captain, sentenced to have whatever 'infected' parts of his brain containing warp mutation cored out, all at the words of Pelegon the WarSmith who suffered the same ailment as him and who had over the past millenia made far greater errors of judgement.

As he was escorted away by the retinue of Sophacles and his Tech Marines he wondered just how long Pelegon thought he could maintain order over the XIXth with the fissures so wide between the Companies. Without Tyberus at the helm of the First Company there was no Fist of the WarSmith to be feared by the other Companies. They will run free, like unleashed hounds. With his relegation to merely a battle brother of the First Company he was unsure of who he would be taking orders from, on top of that he wondered if there would be attempts on his life from within the First Company or any of the rival Companies.

At the forefront of his thoughts though, was one thought above all else, If there is anything left of me after these bastard tech parasites are done with me I will have vengeance for this injustice. If I have to burn a thousand planets, a hundred galaxies, I will have vengeance for this.
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Kerberos stood idly, but as the WarSmith admitted his own psyker abilities he felt hard pressed to begrudge Tyberus. Surely the First Captain had acted somewhat erratically, but no real harm had come from it, and despite the picture that was painted by Coeus, he knew his Captain to be loyal, perhaps moreso than any other of the Captains within the XIXth. The Champion was stunned by the sentencing, he expected that Tyberus would be made an example of, perhaps lashed excessively, but to be stripped of his rank was quite shocking, but he remained silent, it was not his place to speak.

His mind quickly skipped ahead past whatever might befall Tyberus, he had certainly played a part in his own undoing, though Kerberos felt the sentence was excessive. Tyberus had created quite a fanatical following within the First Company and Kerberos wondered who among them would be able to lead the First, who had over the millenia been stockpiled with warriors handpicked by Tyberus. Kerberos gave a serious thought to the possibility of dissent within the First, a full company of veteran warriors, the majority of whom were not of pure Olympian blood, the First having had their loyalty dogmatically enforced to the XIXth and the First's Captain for seven thousand years. Who among us will be able to break the tyrant's hold?

His attention then turned to his station on the battlefield, he would be at the fore of the assault, whenever they were finally ordered to attack. He saw the WarSmith's tactics of holding the populace hostage as unnecessary and bordering on a display that the Imperium might use, but not one that they should employ. He of course did not mention his opinions, he was a dutiful warrior beyond reproach, and it irked him some to have to look to Captain Kunzhardt for his orders.
 

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Sophacles stepped forward to offer his insights. Such a shame that the Grand Company had lost a psyker of his pervious talent, but he at least knew what he was talking about better than anyone else. I wasn’t annoyed that he offered an alternative fate to my suggestion. It would be useful to have the Night Lord under my thumb but if the Warpsmith saw fit to lobotomise him, that worked just as well for me. Besides, he agreed that I should be able to tear Tyberus’ mind apart looking for answers that I doubted were there and that knowledge was the most important thing I could hope for. As the techmarine spoke I looked for Kunzhardt. His body tension was stiff, so close from fighting and yet unable to spill blood. What monster strains against its binds in your mind, Gorgon? He was silent and that amused me. If there was a coup forming amongst the half-breeds, it clearly wasn’t one I had to fear if they were willing to abandon one another at a moment’s notice.

I looked back to Pelegon. The crowd was getting restless and there were few words that were worth saying left. Tyberus could probably harp until his lungs gave out, but I had said my piece and had no plans to add anything else. If it did it would only serve to diminish the flames I had already lit, and it was this heat under Pelegon’s arse that would force him to act. There were more, subtle, ways to force someone’s hand and that was something few in the Grand Company seemed to understand. Probably best too, otherwise they might disapprove of my actions and see them as nothing more than duplicitous.

Pelegon declared he had reach a judgement. I did not care for his oratory. Chiefly Iron Warriors were men of action and usually only respected action. It required a skilled wordsmith to be able to hold the attention of so many virile bodies on words alone and Pelegon was not so skilled. He was however respected, and so all those gathered listened vigilantly. He grabbed the half-breed by the throat and held him aloft for everyone to see. He let the oxygen slowly drain from the Night Lord’s face and he spoke about change and how they were all affected.

Then he did something I did not expect. He revealed his own ‘talent’, although I would never call it that. An untrained accidental leakage of psychic power was no talent, it was a liability. As a wave of silence briefly swept over the crowd I could feel others think the same sentiment. Pelegon would not be lauded as brave or bold for his shared revelation. He would be shunned and feared. Any hope of catching another coup became smaller. Men would hold their thoughts closer to their breast and it would only serve to stoke the paranoia that so often festered in the hearts of the IVth legion. It certainly made my work easier.

The Warsmith did very kindly exonerate myself and the Librarium of responsibility for having not spotted Tyberus’s taint, although I was not quite sure why. A lot of Pelegon’s actions he been directed to limit my influence and he had passed up an remarkable opportunity to keep his own secret hidden and to put doubt in the Librarium. It was interesting if nothing else. It mildly irritated me that he turned the half-breed over to Sophacles for his surgery without an assurance that he should be interrogated. That meant it was at the warpsmith’s discretion. Luckily, if he resisted, I at least had a bargaining chip I could use. Whether I would or not would be a choice I would leave until later.

After that, the ad hoc jury disbanded and moved in fluid motions to their assigned positions. I had none so was free to move as and were I chose. I opened a private link to Sophacles as he lead the half-breed away.
“I hope that your enthusiasm for the interrogation of our erstwhile brother was not an empty claim, brother. If you require me or my brethren’s assistance, you know where to find us.”
I hoped to be able to pry the Night Lord open and learn what foes I must watch for, as well as all the less interesting facets of his existence, but only time would tell. Sophacles would act as his processors dictated, and such calculations were unlikely to have changed now that he had control of Tyberus’s fate. Computers were far easier to predict than mortals with their petty agendas and schemes.

Then came the simple expenditure of the slaves. It was a strategy to be sure, trying to play on the Wolves love of their pets. However, it lacked something compared to the simple nature of cracking open the fortress and purging it with fire and blood. Either Pelegon was beginning to lose his mind or he had something else planed. Some grand gesture? Some show of force? I wasn’t overly concerned, but I didn’t like this strategy. It wasn’t out of squeamishness or any moral objection, I had cast aside such things long ago. It wasn’t that Iron Warriors way and that was what I objected to most. Although, another being stood out, hate radiating off of him. My face contorted briefly into something between a smile of amusement and a sneer of disgust.

I walked alongside Adriun. He was not bloodying his hands, but then again if they all did their stock of slaves would be swiftly depleted. Despite what Pelegon or others might say, mortals were the oil that kept the machine of the Legions running. To spend such a resource so needlessly when we had the materials to break open the fortress anyway seemed frivolous. “I take it you do not approve Adriun?” I asked as I stood beside the Forge Master. As I spoke I linked myself with my brethren, our psychic consciousness’s merging. We caught up the mortals fear, despair, betrayal, pain. We caught all their suffering and hurled it at those in the fortress. These were projectiles walls would not protect them from. The Wolves would feel their charges die and any mortals they protected would likely kill themselves. No mortal soul should feel the weight of dying and still live to speak of it. Most could and would not handle it. Hopefully that would help to force the Wolves’ hand, necessitating open battle and end this pointless display of barbarity…
 

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Adriun stood there seething beneath his helm, his fellow Tech-Marines returning to their duties, to busy to slay the humans needlessly. He knew they felt similar about the slaughter, but it was a matter of resources and not life, for Adriun it was both Resources and a moral stand-point. He noticed Coeus was standing next to him, no doubt to continue their previous discussion from the Ferra Perpetua. He was still seething with fiery hate and anger, his iron becoming white hot and ready to scald any foe unfortunate enough to meet his blade and gun.

Then the Seer spoke,“I take it you do not approve Adriun?”

Coeus was as perceptive as ever, his emotions would show like a beacon to the psyker, he didn't doubt that being in real-space was a blessing, as his anger would have been a beacon for things much worse than a prying Psyker. He sighed, audibly, and through his vox it sounded like the super heated air escaping the vents of a furnace, he felt no need to disguise his frustration from someone who already knew his emotions without effort.

He glanced to the side, looking at Coeus through the eyes of his helm as the psyker made war on the mental plane against the wolf fortress.

"I shall speak plainly, Yes I do disapprove. I have no need to hide that from you, nor could I." He said and paused.

"These men, women, and children are as valuable a resource as the Metals needed for bolter and blade. That is a statistical fact, we need them to expand our numbers and influence, and they could be quite easily swayed to our side, and the youth could become devout to us entirely and our cause."

His words were meaningless though if he intended to paint them as some calculated variable, Coeus already knew his real reasoning.

"You know my past, no doubt that you read it from me long ago as a Neophyte, or learned it from Lugerev. I am sentimental, but not without reason Librarian. I see their use for expanding our influence, and building a new Empire with The Legion's Ideals. I see it as giving a chance to those oppressed by the Ignorant Imperium, with their false Corpse god, a new life reforged in Iron."

It was a lofty Goal, but it was something Adriun was personally convince that the XIX Grand company could accomplish, he felt they were destined for it, being the last vestige of purity in a daemonically plagued Legion. He wondered if the Iron Father would approve, but then was the Approval of the Ironically corrupted head of the Legion even needed? Adriun thought not, the Ideal would outlive its creator and remain true.

It felt like he had cooled off after spouting all of that, it was rather useless in the end, because he was to follow orders. He could do little to assure the Company was headed down this idealized path, besides wrest control of it from Pelegon, but he knew Pelegon had goals as well, it was just difficult to see if they lined up with his own interpretation of their creed. Maybe, just maybe it did, even if it was an act, what Pelegon had showed on the spire, if only for a moment, hinted at a kindness and empathy he had not seen any any of his other Battle-brothers. He would have to put faith in that for now, and deal with the fact that such aspirations would not be bloodless.

"However my thoughts on this are neither here nor there, if this is as he wishes, it will be done. And hopefully put to the past soon." He looked up to the smokey sky, a broken world was all he saw, reflected in the pitch black ashes that blew around in the slipstreams of the upper atmosphere.

"Now, have you considered my proposal on the Null Field Wards? Sophacles has proposed plans for a machine that would be able to replicate the wards, but they would need the initial spark from your Librarium's Rituals to work. Other wise it might be an overly decorated Etching machine."

It was better to discuss something else, to get his mind off of the brutality around him, not that he was unable of committing similar brutality on far more deserving opponents that still hid in their fortress. He pulled out a data-slate and pulled up the blue-prints for the machine, as well as its specs, it was an interesting device, and incredibly time intensive to perform its tasks. This would mean that it would not be entirely possible to outfit the whole Grand Company with these wards, but it would be more specialized to only those who needed it, like veteran's that specialized in combating Psykers or daemons.
 
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