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His feet hit the dirt of 3-55, the fifty-fifth world to face the wrath of the young Imperium of Man’s mighty warriors of the 3rd Expedition Fleet.
The warrior, clad in shining power armor took stock of his situation.
Behind him, more of his brother warriors, not soldiers, stormed out of the newly made stormbird assault craft.
Before him, thousands of raging greenskin bellowed their hate and charged the invading army, firing their weapons into the sky and waving primitive cleavers.
In his hands was a guardian spear, a weapon crafted for both long and short ranged combat.
He knew just what to do.
As dozens more stormbirds braved the clouds of ork fighter craft to deliver their deadly cargo, the warrior lowered his spear and fired into the mob of xeno filth before him.
Like a scythe of death from a forgotten mythic figure the orks died in droves yet still they came on, heedless of the sure death that was before them.
Before long more of the warrior’s brothers joined him and formed a line, impassible an understatement.
These warriors lent their firepower to the defense of the landing zone.
In moments the bulk of this ork horde was crippled, thousands dead as more and more of the Emperor’s warriors joined the fight.
When at last the ork horde hollered their rage no more the warrior looked up and down the line.
Not one green xeno had made it to the golden wall and before them over three thousand orks were dead. He ran his eyes over the bodies of dead, looking for any signs of life.
One eye closed and the other on the spear’s sights, he saw an ork push itself up from the mounds of the dead.
He pulled the trigger once more, and the beast’s head exploded.
‘A good start,’ said the warriors’ commander, Captain Angelos ‘but a day’s labor isn’t done till the sun sets,’
A cry of agreement came from the men.
‘More are coming!’ shouted a warrior, not in panic, merely in warning to let his brothers know more of the xeno creatures wished to die by their hands.
‘Phalanx!’ ordered Angelos.
The warriors moved with a rehearsed fluidity to their movements borne from decades of warfare.
The warriors formed into blocks of forty men each as the second wave of the ork assault, comprising of beasts both larger and fiercer.
At an unspoken command the mortal men who had been given the privilege of piloting the stormbird assault craft down to the surface took off, leaving the warriors behind to ensure the safety of the valuable landers. They would join the Imperial fighters in the sky until battle’s end or a hasty evacuation was required.
‘Phalanxes, make a wall!’ shouted Angelos and the warrior formations closed space and formed a solid wall of spears stronger than the first.
‘Open fire!’ the captain yelled and four hundred guardian spears opened fire.
Again the orks came and again they died in droves. But this time it was different. The orks brought with them their crude vehicles, cobbled together from whatever scrap metals they could find and studded with every conceivable weapon possible these affronts to reasonable mechanics lumbered forward to try and put the invasion force to rest.
It was no matter though. Nothing the orks could come up with could compare to the might of the Legio Custodes.
The warrior closed his eyes and let his body move of its own accord, letting the movements of a hundred battles flow through him as he lost himself in the fires of combat.

When at last Xavis opened his eyes it was to a scene of utter destruction.
Everything the orks had thrown at them was for nothing. Their vehicles were destroyed. More. Their countless numbers lay still in great piles as teams of mortal men dragged them on the ground and poured promethium on the piles of bodies before setting them to flame.
A camp was being set up for the conquest force where the custodies had originally landed. The stormbirds had landed once more and waited in staggered rows behind the camp. A few custodies stood in tight perimeter, eyes open lest another attack come.
‘You fought well,’ said a voice and Xavis turned to see Captain Angelos.
‘You commanded well,’ said Xavis, giving as good as he got.
Angelos chuckled.
‘There are few commands that need to be given to warriors who conquered Earth and fought in hundreds of battles with an expertise that has never before been seen,’
‘True enough,’
The captain gestured with his arm for Xavis to walk with him. He did so.
After they had started down their path for a while and left the camp Angelos broke his silence.
‘What do you think of the crusade?’ he asked.
‘It is only right that we set sail to the void of space and seek to unite all of scattered humanity under one banner,’ replied Xavis.
‘Yes, I agree, but what else?’ he asked.
‘We should also seek to eradicate xeno filth like the orks so that humanity be safe,’
‘Yes,’ said Angelos. Now the pair began to trek up a large hill that rose from the desert plains like a shattered bone that broke the skin of the earth to jut out and break the flat monotony.
The captain was silent once again.
A minute passed and the pair neared the summit.
‘What do you think of the world we have brought into the Imperial fold?’ he asked.
‘They reminded me of Earth, ravaged by war and separation from the galaxy, but like our home they can be rebuilt and made into jewels of a new Empire that will span the galaxy. I was glad to be a part of their liberation and compliances,’
‘Aye so was I,’ said Angelos when they reached the summit. He looked away from his warrior, to the setting sun on the horizon. It was the second sun that was setting at last, the first one passing from sight before it, taking with it most of the day’s heat. ‘But what of this world?’ he asked.
‘What do you mean my captain?’ asked Xavis.
‘There are no humans on this world, only orks, nothing of great worth exists here, no vast piles of metals to be made into weapons, no great promethium deposits, the Imperium gains nothing from this world, nothing but target practice,’.
‘Yes, that does confuse me. The orks need to be wiped out for the safety of humanity but that could have been done from orbit,’
‘Yes, I agree,’. said Angelos, turning to face the path they had just taken to come to this spot.
‘But I just received a message that could answer that question,’ he said.
‘What is it?’
‘The Emperor is coming here, he will arrive tomorrow,’.

Dawn broke over 3-55. In two rows facing each other the warriors of the Legio Custodes waited with the guardian spears held upright, still ready for battle. Alone amongst the Emperor’s armies they were permitted to keep their weapons loaded and battle ready in his presence, for they were his bodyguard, and for them to be close to him without being ready for any threat unimaginable.
Mortal men stood behind the immortal Custodes, no one was to attend to their duties until after the Emperor had landed and spoke to the assembled ranks.
The small ceremony had been timed well, after only a little while waiting a golden stormbird, bedecked in both the thunder and lightning symbols of the conquest of Earth and the new Aquila symbol of the new Imperium.
The stormbird landed smoothly and the assault ramp came down with a hiss.
Flanked by fifteen custodies on either side a pair of figure walked down the ramp. One held a guardian spear, it had to Constantin Valdor.
The other stood a head taller than the assembled custodies and was armored similarly, though his armor was crafted more for appearances than actual battle, but Xavis held no doubts that it could, would, and had seen the mighty man who wore it through countless battles.
At his hip was a blade sheathed in the finest leather and mounted on his wrist was a double-barreled plasma weapon. These were his weapons, but they were nothing compared to his psychic might knew Xavis, for he had seen the Emperor tear down walls and cities with but the wave of his hand.
Behind those cold grey eyes was a mind more powerful and gifted than anything in the history of man. And Xavis was glad to be on his side.
Xavis stood at the small podium erected at the end of the two columns of warriors alongside captain Angelos. He and the captain waited patiently for the Emperor to make his way through the columns of men as he stopped to briefly greet some of the custodies.
When at last the Emperor stood before the podium he smiled and shook hands with Angelos, looking him in the eye and exchanging pleasantries.
Everything fell silent for Xavis and he felt a presence just beyond the confines of his mind, waiting for his permission to enter. Xavis knew what it was, he had felt it before, all custodies had at some point in their service to the Emperor.
He allowed it in.
Hello my son.
My Lord.
I know you are wondering why we have come to this world.
I am.
Do not worry all will be revealed.
Yes my lord.
The Emperor finished greeting Angelos and gave Xavis the briefest of nods before taking his place at the front of the podium.
The Emperor spoke to the assembled warriors but Xavis did not listen. If he had not be curious before he certainly was now.
When the Emperor finished his speech the assembled forces saluted him and went back to their duties, the mortals went back to setting up the camp and the custodies went back to more martial tasks.
The Emperor and Constantin Valdor turned to Angelos and Xavis.
‘I will retire to my tent for the time being, expect a summons by nightfall,’ he said.
‘Yes my lord,’ the two warriors chorused.
The Emperor nodded and stepped off the podium.
The thirty warriors that formed his immediate guard took positions on his flanks and the group marched towards a golden tent that no one had seen before.
‘He always seems to have some sort of trick up his sleeves,’ said Angelos.

The day went on. Scattered parties of orks attacked the camp, which now had earthen ramparts erected to around the perimeter of the camp. When the orks attacked they were never thrown back, they were annihilated as utterly as they had been the day before.
When at last the Emperor’s summons came Xavis was in his personal tent, repairing his armor and sharpening his blade in solitude.
I need you now. Came the Emperor’s psychic voice in his head.
Yes my lord. He replied.
He took his armor off the cleaning stand he had made and put it back in its proper place.

Xavis stepped into the Emperor’s tent, the guards outside asking no questions, for he was a custodian, and beyond reproach.
Stepping into the Emperor’s tent was like stepping onto a different world.
Gone was the heat of 3-55, in its place was the coolness of the Himalayan mountains, where the Emperor had begun construction of his home and the seat of government for the Imperium.
Xavis stepped into the main chamber of the tent, where the Emperor stood over a map, floating on the cool air and showing the entirety of the western hemisphere of the world they currently waged war on, alongside Constantin Valdor and captain Angelos.
Constantin Valdor and Angelos nodded in greeting Xavis. The Emperor did not look up from the map.
Xavis, as the lowest ranking man in attendance, took his place opposite the Emperor with the map being the focal point of the room.
‘This,’ said the Emperor, pointing to the camp, which faced Xavis, although the Custode had a feeling the other three men in the room were facing it the same way he was, ‘is where we have both made planetfall and wiped out a considerable Ork horde,’
This much Xavis knew, and was wondering why the Emperor would go over such base facts.
‘I have determined the greenskin horde came from here,’ continued the Emperor, pointing to another spot on the map, this one in the midst of a mountain range. ‘This is where we will strike next, in the mountains, where they are most likely to be manning a fortress of some sort. We will strike there and annihilate them. Captain Angelos, prepare your men. Valdor, old friend, I’d like you wait outside with the companions and give me a moment with Xavis here,’.
The two older warriors complied, Angelos giving Xavis a brief look that the younger, though still old, Custode. The Emperor stood still as the warriors walked out of the tent.
When they were alone the Emperor turned to Xavis.
‘I know you are wondering why we have come to this world,’ he said.
‘I am my lord,’ said Xavis, clasping his hands behind his back.
‘And I will tell you, just promise me you shall be blunt in all your questions and answers, I have recently been in dealings with lords and administrators on Earth and I find myself desiring the talk of soldiers once more, simple and straightforward with no beating around the bush.’
‘Your wish is my command my lord,’ said Xavis.
‘Good. Now please tell me your opinion of the invasion of this world, I’d like to hear it from you, not just from Captain Angelos at the beginning of the conquest briefing you were not present for,’
‘Sir? It seemed to me I was here for the whole thing,’
‘Oh no, I was just summarizing with Valdor and Angelos when you came in, the real briefing was far more complete than that. Now please, your opinion of the invasion,’
Xavis told the Emperor what he had said to Angelos the day before almost verbatim, with little changing since then.
The Emperor nodded when Xavis spoke, seeming to agree with him on every issue, until he broke his silence.
‘You are right to question our presence here, annihilating the orks on a poor world such as this is typically the task of the navy, but in my travels across the galaxy, overseeing the beginning of this Great Crusade, I learned of something, something that could ruin all my plans for humanity if it fell into the wrong hands, something that is not currently in my hands, the right hands. Do you understand?’
‘Yes my lord,’
‘Would you like to know of how I came to learn of all this?’ the Emperor asked.
‘I am curious sir,’ Xavis admitted.
‘Then I will show you,’ said the Emperor, leaning forward with his arm outstretched and the palm of his hand opening.
Placing his hand on Xavis’s head the Emperor closed his eyes and showed his loyal Custode a scene of utter destruction.
Dying flames danced on falling structures, reveling in the destruction they wrought the night before when they had been born.
Walking down a long street a tall figure clad in gold surveyed the damage he and his warriors had inflicted on the xeno craftworld.
Behind the golden figure marched one hundred white armored Astartes of the Luna Wolves legion. Next to him strode the first primarch, Horus.
Xavis had heard of this, the destruction of the Eldar craftworld Herra-Tiel, one of the first victories the Emperor had shared with his first reunited son, a man Xavis hoped to meet some day.
The pair walked down the street, ignoring the flames and the bodies of the enemy dead that had been left where they fell while teams of Astartes picked up their honored fallen and arrayed them in rows.
The Emperor surveyed the work with satisfaction. Closing in on his first son’s homeworld the Craftworld had been ready for war, but they had been too late and the Emperor had crushed them
A lone Astartes came hurrying down the street, holding his blade at the ready for any unseen threat.
The Emperor saw him and his intent and halted his column.
‘My lords,’ said the Captain marine, nodding first to the Emperor and then to the primarch Horus, whom he spared a second to look upon, for he was his father ‘we have found one of the xeno council members, he is wounded, and not long for this world, but my apothecary keeps him alive and he awaits your interrogations just up the street,’ he finished.
‘Thank you Captain Abbadon, you have done well. Wait here with Hastur Sejanus. Your primarch Horus and I shall go and learn what we can from this xeno.
‘Yes my lords,’ said Abaddon, joining his fellow commander at the head of the column.
The Emperor and Horus followed Abaddon’s directions, such as they were and came upon the xeno farseer being attended to by two apothecaries.
They looked to the Emperor and their primarch.
‘A few minutes sir, he’s awake enough,’ one of them said before the two rose up, bowed to their lords and hurried down the street, intent on their other duties.
The Emperor stepped up to the xeno, who was laying down on the ground, both arms trying to put pressure on his wound, which would kill him soon. A glowing rune etched on stone hung from the xeno’s neck.
‘Why did you come here?’ said the Emperor. ‘Why did you come to attack an Imperial world, unprovoked.
‘End a war before it began, impossible task, but had to try…’ whispered the Eldar, his eyes half hid behind dropping lids aching to close for the last time.
‘Of what war do you speak?’ asked the Emperor.
The Eldar did not speak again, until the Emperor grew made and grabbed the spirit stone from the xeno’s neck and broke the leather cord that held it close.
‘Speak!’ he shouted, and the Eldar, aware of what it now faced, gave up all pretenses.
‘A war that will see you die, a war that will kill your precious humanity and rip apart the corpse in thousands of years of blood! One that will see the prophecy fulfilled and the light of order destroyed!’ it wailed.
‘What prophecy?’ asked the Emperor.
‘Which one?’ chuckled the Eldar before grimacing in pain.
‘The imprisoned will break free and lend his armies to cleaving of the golden walls, it will devour its guardians and give aid to the nine fallen ones, all it needs is the blood of a will of iron and it can do all this, but first the war will break out…’
The Emperor and Horus watched as the Eldar rambled on and on for several more minutes.
‘But why did you come here?’ the Emperor asked again.
‘He does not see,’ said the Eldar.
‘Speak!’ commanded the Emperor and wraitbone structure collapsed into a pile of rubble.
‘Kill the babe before the daemon grows too strong to be defeated,’ whispered the now delirious xeno.
Horus stared intently at the creature, not looking at his father.
The Eldar spoke again.
‘On a planet covered by the barbaric and devoid of all cause for envy, the weapon waits, guarded, the weapon waits to be unleashed, and it will be.
The Eldar coughed up blood again, its life was now measured in moments.
‘Please!’ it hissed, ‘don’t let her take me!’
The Emperor understood and dropped the spiritstone on the xeno’s chest just before it died.
‘I must find what it spoke of. And you must never repeat what you have heard here,’ the Emperor said, and turned and left Horus to himself, and disappeared.

‘That is why we are here,’ said the Emperor, removing his hand from Xavis’s forehead.
‘The ravings of a dying xeno?’ asked Xavis.
‘I will not ignore the possibility of a weapon that can threaten me,’ said the Emperor, ‘It is clear to me that the Eldar have something on this world, which fits the description in the prophecy, that could hurt us and if it is on this world I intend to find it and destroy it,’.
‘Do you know where it is here?’ Xavis asked.
‘I have a feeling, said the Emperor,’
 
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