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Reaper of Souls
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Twelve men stood before us, twelve warriors. Twelve of them, clad in midnight blue. Ten were bulky, set apart by their hulking suits of terminator armour that were so rare in my Legion. The Atramentar. These were men who had proved time and time again why the Eighth Legion was feared throughout the galaxy as vengeance incarnate. The man they fought for stood with them, the eleventh of the twelve, The Prince of Crows. Jago Sevatarian looked down on us with eyes the colour of ebony, eyes that seemed to drink in light. They were the merciless eyes of a hunter. Sevatar was a man who could have called such an esteemed gathering as we currently partook in, a gathering that included giants such as the War Sage, Malcharion, and the Soul Hunter, Talos. But while the first captain was a lord among the legion, the twelfth man was a god.

Konrad Curze. Night Haunter. If vengeance had a face then it was the father of my Legion, if it had a name it would be Night Haunter. Simply seeing him made me want to bow before the being without whom I would have been a normal man, living on Terra till my death that would likely have been over a hundred years before. I owed him everything. Now I sometimes wonder whether he should have stayed on Nostramo and never been found by the Emperor. However such treacherous thoughts did not cross my mind then, merely awe at the fearsome majesty of my Primarch.

Without a word our father turned and walked out of the hall, leaving Sevatar to stand before us and speak. “All Captains will follow myself and the Primarch for a meeting about how we will deploy and deal without brothers down on the surface, the rest of you may move about the flagship to go to the training and sparring halls, the Apocatherion, the armoury or you may remain here. You are all to gather back here on the embarkation deck in three hours for briefing from your Captains.” Scarcely had he finished speaking before he and the Atramentar turned and followed Curze.

Xandrek turned to me and I brought my eyes to his. “It will be good to speak with the Primarch again, Azrael until I return ensure that you and the other ‘children’ do not embarrass Fourth Company in any way or form is that understood? Var for once I’m asking you Brother to Brother to not antagonize any of our brothers from the other companies.” My captain’s words were suddenly harsher as he turned to face the Tech-Marine, his voice displaying loud and clear the intended threat of his next words “Or you will find that I will be returning to the ‘Maiden’ with a new Master of the Forge, with all of your bionics being used as spares for servitors.” With that he strode off, throwing his black cloak behind him with a touch of theatricality that he very rarely showed. I chuckled and turned to speak to First Claw.

Before I could speak a word however there came a voice speaking in my first tongue, High Gothic. A language I hadn’t spoken in for a long time.

An Olympian stood before us. An Iron Warrior. His voice was mechanical, his words a growl. "Greetings. My name is Pelegon, of the 2nd Company of the 77th Grand Battalion of the Iron Warriors, and I have been assigned to your unit."

Odd. While there was never hatred between the Fourth Legion and my own, there certainly was no more friendship than the grudging admiration of each other’s skills and in some even that was lacking. And now an Iron Warrior came and stated he had been assigned to us? I doubted Xandrek knew, for he would have told me.

Of course one of First Claw squared up to him, trying to act like he was prepared to avenge every slight the Fourth Legion had ever given us. What I didn’t expect was that said Brother would be Tyberus. Jaekal had seemed much more likely, due to the reluctance of the Fourth Legion in supporting Horus. Veptus spoke to me of the Olympian in the gutter language of Nostramo, his words mocking and cruel. “Oh yeah, because I was just saying, wasn’t I Azrael, how much I wished we had a bloody Olympian to drag around with us!” The Corpse Master then turned to the Iron Warrior. “Do you know what we did to the children of Nostramo, Olympian?” Veptus’ words were aimed at Pelegon, but only the last word was in Low Gothic, for there was no Nostramon word for Olympia. A carefully judged insult on Veptus’ part if I was not mistaken. Veptus strode closer to the marine, his skull trophies chattering and flesh cloak swaying. “We employ them as our runners, our front line troops. They are the ones in the most danger. Those who are weak perish. Only the strong survive long enough to make anything of themselves. Which will you be I wonder?” The Corpse Master began to stride off. Tyberus did likewise, as did Agrippa. Pelegon also left, Vandread moving after him.

I switched my vox and created a broadcast to every member of First Claw, now including Pelegon. My voice was soft as I began to speak, my words calculatingly spoken in Low Gothic and not just so that Pelegon could understand. “Have you forgotten who I am Brothers? I am a Terran, an outsider to you just as Pelegon is now. In the search for foolish gratification, do not forget that I am just as foreign to you as the Iron Warriors are. You mock him for not being one of you. Neither am I. The next man to look down on him for not being Nostramon will face me in the cages and we will see whether being Nostramon makes you superior to others.”
 

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Vandread let a smile stretch across his face upon hearing Azrael's voice crackle over the vox. “Have you forgotten who I am Brothers? I am a Terran, an outsider to you just as Pelegon is now. In the search for foolish gratification, do not forget that I am just as foreign to you as the Iron Warriors are. You mock him for not being one of you. Neither am I. The next man to look down on him for not being Nostramon will face me in the cages and we will see whether being Nostramon makes you superior to others.”

'At least one of my brothers isnt close minded.' Vandread thought mirthfully. Switching his Vox on Vandread began to speak in Low Gothic "Brother's, do you know what your pitiful attempts to scare our new squad mate into submission remind me of? You all sound like those worthless excuse for mortals that were our Aristocratic society on Nostramo. The same people who treated us like dirt, the same people that our Gene-sire slaughtered because he was disgusted by them, the same people who tortured me day in and day out until Father saved me. So now ask yourselves 'brothers' should we not be better then what we despise." Vandread switched off his Vox and continued to chase after Pelegon.
 

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Receiving the feed on their vox-net surprised Pelegon; after the initially hostile greeting he had not expected to be patched in. The Iron Warrior did not pause as his armour's HUD altered, running through the displays of his new squadmates, his dark eyes flitting back and forth, absorbing and digesting the information at an inhuman rate. Their degenerate of an apothecary went by Veptus, and the glimmering green on his armour's feed showed the marine to be, seemingly, in irritatingly good health, a fact that made the usually impassive Pelegon frown. Learning the wretch to be suffering from some sort of ailment, other than stupidity and misplaced pride, would have made the current situation somewhat more bearable.

At the Librarium Pelegon would request access to any sort of archives that were available both in Gothic and Nostraman; their content would be irrelevant, even if nothing other than the dullest of logistical reports were made available to him. Thus the Olympian would learn their language, listening to vox-recordings and through reading. His pronunciation would be sub-optimal, but within a few hours he was confident he could accrue a sufficient grasp of the language to communicate with the squad in their native tongue, to read and write it as the situation required.

This musing and planning, cut as clear as hewed stone in the marine's mind, was rent asunder by incoming vox-chatter; his HUD showed it to come from their champion

of what?

Azrael. Before digesting it, Pelegon was reminded of the dolorous Ist Legion and their nomenclature, plucked from antiquity. Certainly a name somewhat too whimsical for one of these vultures, even a tad anachronistic. Were he to be a relative or descendant of the Ist, it would give Pelegon a smite more respect for the man, for their tactical acumen was fearsome indeed.

“Have you forgotten who I am Brothers? I am a Terran, an outsider to you just as Pelegon is now. In the search for foolish gratification, do not forget that I am just as foreign to you as the Iron Warriors are. You mock him for not being one of you. Neither am I. The next man to look down on him for not being Nostraman will face me in the cages and we will see whether being Nostraman makes you superior to others”

What was meant to be placating was merely enraging. Pelegon felt pressure building up behind his temples, his fists clenching in sympathy to the anger now rising in both his body and mind. Why did the champion defend him? Did this Azrael not think him capable of dealing with his own problems, with defending him? Did he think Pelegon weak?

Words are hollow, little more than houses of cards compared to the mighty stone bastions of one's actions. Pelegon did not join in the verbal discourse because he chose not to, not because he was incapable of retort. The Iron Warrior did not foolishly offer up a challenge in personal combat because it would not be in his best interests to do so - honour duels were an antiquated, barbaric concept that his kin did not indulge in. Had Pelegon felt at any moment threatened by one of the VIIIth, he would have drawn his meltagun and slagged them on the spot.

The conflicting emotions running through his mind caused the Iron Warrior to pause a moment in the middle of the deserted corridor that he had entered. Would it be wiser to speak up, lest the others thought him weak, and say that he would duel any who thought him weak? It would not do to allow the champion of another legion defend him, for while the Olympian knew that none of his kin, like him, would care, as a representative of the IVth legion (having seen a little of how the VIIIth's minds worked) he suspected it would not put his legion into good standing with Primarch Kurze. But were he to enter that arena, it would possibly injure him, generally impeding the efficiency of the squad...and his opponent would not survive. That much Pelegon knew; any Night Lord foolish enough to face the Iron Warrior would die with Pelegon's hands around his neck. Barring his opponent being Apothecary Veptus, it would be a waste.

After a moment's consideration, the Iron Warrior calmed, clenching his jaw and holding his tongue. If the champion wished to attempt to defend him, so be it; Pelegon would deal with the insurrectionist his own way. Denying himself satisfaction in this way was in and of itself rewarding, a test of self-control that gave the Olympian immense satisfaction. At that moment, interrupting his brief philosophising, came the unmistakeable clank of power-armoured footsteps.

Resisting the urge to draw a weapon as he did so, Pelegon turned in his heel to face his follower. It was one of the squad, a marine who his HUD informed him to be Vandread. The Night Lord's armour was pleasingly devoid of the excessively grisly trophies that his compatriots seemed to favour, the only decor clusters of purity seals. The helmet was an odd variety, not of any mark that Pelegon could recognise.

Clasping both hands behind his back, the Iron Warrior cocked his head to the side, carefully choosing his words; perhaps an attempt at humour would be a good way to defuse the situation. Shutting off his armour's vox-transmitter so that their conversation might, at least from his end, remain private, Pelegon spoke in his usual emotionless mechanised tone.

"May I help you in some way, Vandread? I trust that you are not lost aboard your own legion's ship?"
 

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Veptus’s eyes rolled inside his macabre helmet. Azrael’s spluttering of belonging and being foreign he could tolerate but Vandread’s bleating about Konrad Curze as if he had personally chose him made him sick. Vandread’s story was one of happenstance, nothing more. Xandrek was the only one who could or would censure Veptus, despite what Azrael would have him think. However, Azrael was not an ally he would lose readily. Vandread, however, did not wield anything close to the influence any of the three of Xandrek’s inner circle wielded. He could not and would not dare challenge him.

Veptus’s response was still in Nostraman, albeit a tone more suited to an equal. “Azrael, he is not a novice. You learnt, you adapted, you allowed our Father to mould you into a weapon of fear, as we all have been. Pelegon has no interest or capacity to learn our Father’s way. What I said is true, those who do not learn and adapt, die. It’s as true here as it was on Nostramo. It is just the way of things, nothing to do with superiority. My contention is that he will not and cannot learn and I am not going to carry him, any more than you will. I had hoped that was clear earlier, but I hope now you see my issue is not with his origin, but his malleability.”

Veptus’s next words turned venomous and spiteful in his throat. “As for you, Vandread, you have obviously learnt nothing of our Father’s ways, despite how you seem to think he hand-picked you, as if you are remarkable. Our Father taught us the nature of fear. We are his instruments of terror, something you would do well to remember. If you wish to carry someone who has no desire to be moulded by our Father, then do as you see fit, but do not seek to lecture me on how I should treat those who are not unified by our purpose or how I should instruct others in the nature of fear, else I will show you that you suffered nothing in your previous life, you mewling fool!”

There were enough veterans to choose from to replace Vandread and Veptus held enough influence and reputation to make such a threat and he would know it was not idle. Xandrek would rather lose both of them, but it would take far more than a disgruntled Iron Warrior emissary to set his captain against him. Azrael he had to tread more carefully with, but he had made his case as an equal with no threats, veiled or overt. That should be enough to stop Azrael taking offence to it. He continued his walk to the Apothecarion and wondered if Vandread would respond or have the good sense to hold his tongue…
 

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It was very strange, the presence of the Olympian had in some ways created unlikely allies, at least as far as how this situation with their 'guest' was concerned. Tyberus did not always find himself on the the same side of an argument as Veptus, but here, the CorpseMaster was completely right.

Azrael broke in, reminding the others about his own origins. “Have you forgotten who I am Brothers? I am a Terran, an outsider to you just as Pelegon is now. In the search for foolish gratification, do not forget that I am just as foreign to you as the Iron Warriors are. You mock him for not being one of you. Neither am I. The next man to look down on him for not being Nostramon will face me in the cages and we will see whether being Nostramon makes you superior to others.” Azrael was impassioned and angered, though to Tyberus, both seemed misplaced.

Then Vandread opened his vox channel and proceeded to spew what Tyberus considered to be foolhardy statements. "Brother's, do you know what your pitiful attempts to scare our new squad mate into submission remind me of? You all sound like those worthless excuse for mortals that were our Aristocratic society on Nostramo. The same people who treated us like dirt, the same people that our Gene-sire slaughtered because he was disgusted by them, the same people who tortured me day in and day out until Father saved me. So now ask yourselves 'brothers' should we not be better then what we despise." The way Vandread waxed on made Tyberus want to ask his Battle Brother if he had been there with the Primarch, the Night Haunter at the birth of their Legion, seeing as he spoke of it with a certain amount of borrowed firsthand knowledge and 'wisdom.'

It was Veptus who then jumped in, berating Vandread almost instantly. He verbally tore Vandread to pieces, then quickly made sure to clarify his statement to Azrael. Veptus rarely if ever apologized for anything and rephrasing his statements about the Olympian
was about the closest thing to an apology Tyberus had ever seen from Veptus.

"Brother Azrael," Tyberus' voice rumbled over the vox, "I have never doubted your abilities, nor cared where you or any of our other battle brothers have come from. You are my Brother Night Lord. Any Battle Brother of the Night Lords, regardless of origin is one I will gladly call my Brother. But the Olympian is not of our Legion, they did not even want to join our cause, our war for freedom. I will not tend to him, nor look back should he fall behind in combat. If he proves that he can adapt to the way of the Night Lords, then he is welcome as our Battle Brother, if not, I suppose the coming war will take care of him."

Tyberus then strode off, he decided he would seek out the Librarium and ensconce himself in the tombs and rich history of his Chapter, he felt as if he needed such interaction with ancient texts of the Night Lords after his unsavory interactions with The Iron Warrior, as well as the interjection from Vandread. The latter irritated him more, and he suspected that knowing they needed to be at their best for the coming mission, especially aboard the Flagship of the Night Haunter himself, had given him the discipline to refrain from beating some sense into Vandread, who had spoken on the wrong side of the 'disagreement.' As far as Tyberus was concerned, Vandread had, even if only momentarily taken sides with the Olympian. "So be it," He spoke to himself, his vox off, "If you wish to be comrades with the Iron Warrior, then do so at your own peril Vandread. No Night Lord shall come to your aid when you discover that the Olympian is ill fit for our brand of warfare." There was a predatory snarl as he spoke, despite not having an audience, there was a true dislike and vitriol to his words. He broke away from the group and made his way towards the Librarium, paying little mind to those around him, merely weaving his way through the mass of Battle Brothers to reach his destination. The thought to speak with Jaekal when he returned from the Librarium dawned on him, his pius Brother would likely be able to stoke the fires of righteous war within him.
 

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Azrael: You listen to the conversation going back and forth as First Claw continue to argue with each other, something that while it happens often it is usually from boredom that comes from lack of action or opponents to fight as so is often the case of warriors who are battle-brothers but not friends, something that happens even between you and Xandrek but something that in all your years knowing them you have never seen between Xandrek and Veptus which makes you think that of all Night Lords Xandrek only really considers Veptus a true friend and that you and Raskreia are merely battle brothers and allies who would never betray him. Shaking your head as you listen to the 'children' bicker amongst themselves as you are the oldest warrior of First Claw you turn to see that the squad has dispersed to go and seek something to occupy their time as they wait for the Captains return. You watch Pelegon, Vandread and Tyberus all head off along the corridors that would lead them eventually to the Librarium, you watch Veptus stalk off with Night Lords parting before him as thanks to his equipment as an apocathery and know that if you needed to find him Veptus would be in the apocatherion as he so often is aboard the Maiden.

Var and Jaekal move off by themselves with their destinations unknown to any save themselves though you guess that Var will be heading towards the armory to tinker with some machines and Jaekal will no doubt be looking for his brother Chaplains in the reclusiam. Turning your head you manage to focus on the final member of First Claw Agrippa , seeing as Raskreia has moved off and is now talking with the other standard bearers from other companies no doubt discuss previous campaigns of their companies, has left the embarkation deck as well to head to the armory but you notice that three Night Lords have set off after him and that each one of them bares the markings of First Claw - Seventeenth Company, something which does not bode well for Agrippa as there has long been a feud between the two companies and a hatred between its two captains. Leaving Raskreia as you know he will not get in trouble amongst the other Standard Bearers you set off in pursuit of Agrippa and the three marines that are following him hoping you can catch him before the other three do.

Veptus: You make your way to the Nightfall's apocatherion through the low-light corridors of the ship with all the legion serfs you encounter on the way quickly scurrying out of your way and pressing themselves up against the walls before bowing their heads to you muttering in fluent nostraman "My Lord". As you walk to your destination you have time to reflect upon why it is that an Iron Warrior has been assigned to First Claw of Fourth Company and if it means that your squad and captain isn't trusted or that they are trusted and it is this Pelegon who is not and that you can be counted on to remove him when the time comes, you come to the eventually conclusion that it would be best to ask Xandrek as he will likely of been furnished with the details during the meeting by either Sevetar or the Primarch himself. Rounding a corner you see two members of the Atrementar stood in full terminator armour with reapter-autocannons on their left hands and power fists in their right as they guard the entrance to the apocatherion and the gene-seed that lies within. As you approach their helmets turn to face you and the one on the left inclines his head slightly as you step through the door into the place that you wished to go.

Stepping into the more brightly lit though not by much Apocatherion you cast your gave about and see that its a hive of activity as the apocatheries of First Company move from medical table to medical table administering to those marines wounded during duels that clearly got out of hand and removing gene-seed of those too far gone or left for dead after a murder-duel. Walking further into the apocatherion you see Madwyrm himself off to one side with a blood drenched scalpel in his left hand as he waves it in the air for a few moments while he hums to himself as if he were some kind of macabre conductor as he works on removing the gene-seed of Night Lord who is missing most of his throat and left side of his face and you can tell from the torn flesh and muscle: chainsword wounds. Before you have a chance to walk over to the insane apocathery you are halted by someone you remember very well as he oversaw your's and Xandrek's initiation into the legion along with your apocathery training, Primus Medicae of First Company and the Eighth's legions best apocathery: Orrin Valzen. "It has been awhile Veptus, and I see that you are still in good health." The pure black orb of his bionic eye whirls as it focuses in on you. "While you are here waiting for your captain, put yourself to some use and begin testing all the children being held in the adjoining chamber for gene-seed compatibility."

Jaekal: - Still need you to post for the previous Update.

Var: - Still need you to post for the previous Update Romero.

Tyberus: You end up following Pelegon and Vandread to the Librarium as it seems to be the destination of the Iron Warrior who will clearly be trying to learn Nostraman to be able to speak with you into your native tongue and you know that he will never be able to master it completely as there is no direct translation from High and Low Gothic into Nostraman, but you assume that given that he is a space marine he should be able to pick up the basics and be able to have some short conversations for now though you guess that his pronunciation and grammar would make even a Nostraman child seem like a linguistic genius. Walking through the corridors you listen in to any conversation between Pelegon and Vandread and smile as you hear Veptus issue his warning and that Vandread remains silent knowing exactly that the Corpse-Master could do to him if he got his hands on him.

Walking into the librarium with Pelegon and Vandread Tyberus you see that the librarians that should of been disbanded after the Edict of Nikae are still active within the Night Lords legion though the Eighth legion like the Twelfth were never ones to pay any real heed to the orders of the Emperor or the Council of Terra. You look around and see that there are twenty such individuals engaged in their own activities though the figure that approaches and bars your way makes you wonder how he got here, as it is none other than Sevestus, Fourth Companies Chief Librarian and you assume that he either teleported using his own psychic ability or one of his witch-kin brothers or taken one of the transports with 57th or 127th Company who also share the 'Maiden of Sorrow' as their home and answer directly to Xandrek after between him and Azrael killing the other two captains of those companies in Murder Duels. Looking at the shadowed features of Sevestus with only the lower part of his chin showing you smile at the memory of when he broke perhaps Xandrek's golden rule: That no librarian is to come within twenty paces of him or they would suffer. As Sevestus speaks with Pelegon no doubt using his mind while glaring at Vandread you are able to make your way past Fourth Companies chief librarian over to one of the data consoles where you can access the archives of the Nightfall and read up on all the engagements that First Company has been engaged in since they last deployed with the Fourth as Xandrek was often the commander of the expedition force and was deployed elsewhere away from the Primarch and Sevetar.

Vandread: The threat from Veptus over the vox network makes you hold your tongue as you know very well Veptus's reputation as the Corpse-Master and that with or without permission from Xandrek he could have you tied to one of the medical slabs in the apocatherion and torture you beyond ever the limits of pain for an Astartes while using your own super-human physiology against you to keep you alive for far longer than he is able to keep humans alive. You follow after Pelegon with Tyberus also following but it seems your brother of First Claw merely wishes to go the librarium as well instead of following Pelegon, while following Pelegon he asks why you are following and if that you are lost on one of your own legion ships which makes your lips twitch ever so slightly into a smile at his attempt of a joke, or at least what you may think is a joke before you answer him.

Stepping into the librarium with Pelegon and shortly followed by Tyberus you see that the librarians that should of been disbanded after the Edict of Nikae are still active within the Night Lords legion though the Eighth legion like the Twelfth were never ones to pay any real heed to the orders of the Emperor or the Council of Terra. You look around and see that there are twenty such individuals engaged in their own activities though the figure that approaches and bars your way makes you wonder how he got here, as it is none other than Sevestus, Fourth Companies Chief Librarian and you assume that he either teleported using his own psychic ability or one of his witch-kin brothers or taken one of the transports with 57th or 127th Company who also share the 'Maiden of Sorrow' as their home and answer directly to Xandrek after between him and Azrael killing the other two captains of those companies in Murder Duels. Looking at the shadowed features of Sevestus with only the lower part of his chin showing you smile at the memory of when he broke perhaps Xandrek's golden rule: That no librarian is to come within twenty paces of him or they would suffer as the captain seems to have a dislike for librarians, you are smiling because that it was you and Azrael who held down the Chief Librarian as Xandrek himself cut out his vocal cords and tongue before having Veptus make sure the librarian survived. Smiling to yourself the hooded head of Sevestus snaps up into your direction and you can clearly tell that he is glaring at you.

Agrippa: You leave the rest of the squad to head to the Armory of the Nightfall disappearing amidst the deep blue armored sea that is the rest of the other Night Lords first claws and as you step out from the embarkation deck though you notice that three other Night Lord's are watching you and you manage to catch a glimpse of their company markings and see that all three are from Seventeenth Company which does not bode well for you if they decide to follow as it is widely known that Xandrek of Fourth and Zha-Shal of Seventeenth (both captains) have a bitter hatred for each over which has spilled down into their companies usually resulting in honor and murder duels when the two companies meet but the source of the hatred is known to only three: Xandrek, Zha-Shal and oddly Veptus though you have yet to ask him where it comes from as it never seems to come up in what little conversation you have with the apocathery. As you step through the door way you notice that those three marines have split off from their squad and are now following you at some distance, it seems that they intend to follow you and if they catch you have some sport with you. It would be wise to get to the armory as fast as you are able where the neutral members of First Company and their tech-marines should stop any fight that should break out between you or you could send a message over First Claw's private vox network calling for your brothers: Azrael, Veptus, Tyberus, Vandread, Jaekal, Var and perhaps as he is now linked into it: the iron warrior Pelegon.

Pelegon: You walk through the halls of the Nightfall being able to trace your steps to where the librarium and archives are held as the capital ship of the Iron Warriors, The Iron Blood (let me know if I have this wrong im going off of memory from Angel Exterminatus) comes from the same STC and you find that your helmets optics are starting to adjust to the near-constant gloom of darkness of the ship as all of the corridors either have their glow strips set to their lowest setting or are missing completely. Turning your head slightly to one side you see that you are joined by Vandread and Tyberus of First Claw though it appears that while Vandread is following you, Tyberus is simply wishing to get to the librarium himself. After a short journey in which you may have a conversation with Vandread you arrive at the librarium doors and step inside, looking left and right you see what appears to be twenty Night Lords in various marks of armour moving from data bank to data banks, and shelves to shelves recording and transferring information or simply reading and meditating on different subjects and you are notice that unlike all the other legions save perhaps the World Eaters, the Night Lords haven't disbanded their Librarius after the Edict of Nikae as from the uneasy feeling you get in the pit of your stomach and the back of your mind all of these Night Lords are psykers.

As you step forward one such Night Lord steps forward to bar your path and looks you up and down with his black robes obscuring most of his armour and with this hood pulled up completely shrouding his face in darkness, you notice though the markings on his right pauldron mark him out as being a member of Fourth Company. Inclining his head slightly you feel a presence in the back of your mind as the librarian speaks not with his voice but with his psychic powers: +"Greetings Pelegon of the Fourth Legion, I am Sevestus Chief Librarian of Fourth Company, what brings one of the sons of Perutarbo to the Nightfall's Librarium?". You have a chance to speak with Sevestus and ask for the information that you require but through out the conversation that you have with him he will only speak to you in mind-speech no matter how uncomfortable it is for you and should you inquire as to why he does so you find out that he is lacking both his Vocal Cords and his tongue after an altercation with his captain: Xandrek.
 

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Every step Veptus took was leaden with purpose. He had a sacred trust and whilst everything else about this Imperium crumbled to ash, the Progenoid suspended in ammonic fluid in a flask at his waist kept him on the only path he could or would ever tread. Since those fateful nights on Nostramo when him and Xandrek had first met in those dingy basements which were little better than charnel house, this was the only way his life could have ever gone. Now his dutiful tread along the path the fates had aligned for him lead him down this particular corridor on the Nightfall.

It was a shame that none of the serfs could see Veptus’s cool expression underneath his macabre helm as he passed them in the halls. Perhaps if they could their reverent mutterings would have had less of a tone of fear about them. Then again, Veptus’s face was hardly a gentle one either, so perhaps it was better for them that they couldn’t see him.

As he walked Veptus considered what Pelegon’s presence in the squad could possibly mean. As far as he was aware no other squads were being assigned a cousin to ‘assist’ them. If Xandrek had of had prior warning about the Iron Warrior’s presence he would have forewarned them. Logically, that meant one of two things. Either his presence was meant to startle them and the First Claw, and Xandrek by extension, were not trusted or Pelegon was not trusted and his own Legion could not put him down and so threw him to the murder of crows and trusted they would pick him apart for them.

Veptus for one would revel in such an opportunity. The anatomy of the Night Lords was familiar to him and he wondered if the interior of the other legionnaires was the same or if there were subtle differences he might uncover. If Xandrek knew nothing of this Iron Warrior’s presence before he certainly would once he returned. More likely, the Captain would have been furnished with the exact details of Pelegon’s purpose in their midst. Veptus would have to enquire once Xandrek had finished basking in their Primarch’s presence. Even as he thought that, he could feel the jealousy uncoil in his mind. Veptus would not begrudge Xandrek for the benefits afforded his station, but he hoped that some calamity would befall some of more disposable members of the Claw which would force Veptus to break decorum and fetch Xandrek in person.

Veptus turned the corner and his cloak flared to the side in response. Guarding the Apothecarion were two members of the Atrementar, armed and armoured to repel all intruders. Sevetar was clearly not taking any chances with the safety of his vessel, although who would be insane enough to ignite open conflict with the Primarch on board was an answer which eluded Veptus. He, however, was an Apothecary of the VIIIth legion and would not be barred from entering the arena of his duties. The Atrementar acknowledged his presence with a nod and let him pass without incident.

Compared to the dim corridors he had just come from, the Apothecarion was practically fluorescent. The cacophony of death rattles and scalpels slicing into flesh and bone warmed Veptus’s cold hearts and brought a smile to his face. In the corner he saw the man he had come to see. Madwyrm had long since lost his sanity, obsessed by the blood and the pain he could create. In his more lucid moments Veptus found a strange sort of comfort in talking to the man. He reminded Veptus that even those who are bound to this path of death may still get lost on it.

The subject he was operating on, in between fits of conducting an imaginary orchestra with his Red Jaqa, was a victim of some particularly gruesome and fatal chainsword wounds. Veptus had conducted many such late rites himself. Such wounds were common place in a legion which practiced murder duels. Veptus went to walk towards Madwym when a firm hand gripped his shoulder.

Veptus spun on his heel to meet the face of his mentor, Orrin Valzen. "It has been awhile Veptus, and I see that you are still in good health." Veptus nodded enthusiastically as the Primus Medicae’s black orbs focused on him.
“Indeed I am. I see time has favoured you also.”
"While you are here waiting for your captain, put yourself to some use and begin testing all the children being held in the adjoining chamber for gene-seed compatibility."
“I’ll deposit the gene-seed I obtained on the Maiden, then I will gladly assist.”
Nostraman was a language not crafted to be used for kind word and so such a jovial conversation was at odd with the guttural slang of their mother tongue. So, the two Apothecaries left it at that, and Orrin returned to his duties.

Veptus walked over to the wall of gene-seed capsules, replacing his full canister with an empty one and thus freeing himself of his burden. He turned to enter the holding room, and a memory stirred…

Veptus stood in little more than a linin cloth with the other aspirants to the VIIIth legion. They had all heard the stories of these gods-amongst-men who waged war in the stars. Now they stood here, a herd of human cattle, waiting for the best of the herd to be selected and the others reduced to…well none of them knew what and none of them wanted to think much about it. All of the children gathered here were already seasoned murderers, but even they were scared in the dim hallways of this vessel they had come to call him. Such internal thoughts stopped the moment the pale giant walked through the archways…

…To their credit, none of the aspirants fainted at the sight of him bedecked in his full battle plate. A couple soiled themselves and a few others wretched into the corners, adding their own fragrances to the pungent odours of human life already present in the Apothecarion. Veptus stood, his terrifying visage coldly staring until all the aspirants had righted themselves. Then with a single motion…

…the giant pointed at him and beckoned for him to follow with a wordless stare. Momentarily, Veptus’s limbs refused to work. It was only when the man’s finger curled inwards towards him it seemed to tug on invisible threads and Veptus finally walked away from the stench of human refuse and toward the odour of blood. As they walked towards the steel table, Veptus’s eye was caught by the other operations going on in this medical facility. His pace slowed as he watched these giants operate with skill and dexterity he had never seen. Suddenly he felt a scalpels sharp edge against his throat. His eyes widened and his breath caught in his throat. “My name is Orrin Valzen and where I go, you follow.”
“I’m sorry my lord…” Veptus stammered as the man’s black glare fixed him. “…it’s just, I’ve never seen such skill with a blade before.” Something which might have been a smile tugged at the man’s lips before he quashed it. The scalpel ceased digging into the flesh of his throat before he continued walking…


…Veptus led the aspirant to the sterile steel operating table. He was one of the unsoiled ones, although he look decidedly uncomfortable with the intense ballet of death and rebirth taking place around him. “You’ll see worse in service to the VIIIth legion boy.” Veptus offered as a matter of fact, not as a consolation. The child would have to become comfortable with death and terror if he was to learn the lessons Konrad Curze would teach him. The boy sat on the operating table which was suited to persons far larger than himself. The aspirant began to talk “My lord…”

“…what happens now?” Orrin was silent for several second whilst he prepped the tools of his trade and Veptus felt a shiver run from through his body. The slab of surgical steel was as cold as death. Veptus could feel his panic rise and tried forced his heart to slow down. Orrin seemed to notice his discomfort and smiled at him. It was an understanding but unkind smile. It understood his fear, his uncertainty and his discomfort and revelled in it. It was an evil smile for all its warmth. “Now, my boy,…”

…Veptus said as he placed his endlessly staring helm aside “…we will take tissue samples and test them to make sure you are compatible with the organs and gene-seed we will graft into you. Once we are sure that you are, we will implant three of the organs into you. Two will encourage your bone and muscles to grow at accelerated rates, and these are called the ossmodula and biscopea respectively. We will also give you a secondary heart, as the coming trials will push you past what your single heart can endure.”
“I’m not sure I understand.” The aspirant mumbled.
“You don’t need to for now. Now, hold still.” With that Veptus reached out…

…the liquid felt cold against Veptus’s skin. A moment later a short laser beam cut a section of flesh away and cauterised the wound it had made. The only reason Veptus knew this was he was looking at it when it happened. He didn’t actually feel anything. Orrin took samples from various other places, as well as blood samples and samples of various other fluids. It was all surprisingly painless, and that made Veptus chuckle. “Something funny?” Orrin said as he went about his business in a tone that was more inquisitive than threatening.
“I was just thinking, my lord, that this operation is far less painful than any others I have experienced.”
“You’ve experienced many operations son?”
“I was an interrogator for the Krilah gang my lord.” Veptus offered as all the explanation the Night Lord would need. Orrin stopped for a moment.
“I had a kid from the Krilah’s a few years back. Xandrek I think his name was.” Veptus’s ears pricked up to hear his comrade had been drafted into the legion also. He had wondered what had become of his friend, if he could call him that. “Were you much good?” Veptus flashed his psychopath’s smile.
“One of the best.” Orrin grunted in derision and suddenly Veptus felt ashamed and offended.
“If you make it through this, perhaps you’ll find your way back to me here.”…


…Veptus conducted his test on the boy and they came positive. Likely the youth would accept the gene-seed. The boy fix him with a stare full of anticipation. “We shall begin.” Veptus said as all the answer the boy needed or would receive. As Veptus prepped the general anaesthetic the boy asked “Do it hurt?” Veptus continued to work in silence. Only once he had fitted the rebreather pumping the boy’s lungs full of anaesthetic and he began falling into unconsciousness did he answer.
“Yes, yes it does.” With that, Veptus began to work as he had done countless times before…

…Once again Veptus found himself under Orrin’s shadow. This time however, it was as an apothecary-in-training, not as an initiate. “Are you ready to begin your training Veptus?” Orrin asked, already knowing that the dark passion for blood and death could afford Veptus no other option.
“I am Apothecary Minoris Orrin.” Orrin smiled his unkind, knowing smile and beckoned for Veptus to follow. They approached the prone form of a Night Lord who, despite the augmentation they had all endured, Veptus recognised. Unconscious before him was Xandrek, who was little more than a battle-brother at this point. “You will be assisting me at first and then you will be allowed opperate on your own, under supervision. Now…” Orrin extended his hand, awaiting the scalpel which Veptus passed “…let us begin.” Veptus did not know it then, but this would be the first of many time he would cut Xandrek open and sow him back up again…
 

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Tyberus could only furl his lips and furrow his brows in displeasure at seeing that the Olympian had likewise proceeded to the Librarium. His attention was momentarily caught bu Sevestus the Librarian, a curr and an outcast even amonst the Fourth Company. So despised was he by the Captain that he'd been banned form being within twenty paces of him on a penalty of death for violating such a rule. Tyberus knew no compassion or sympathy for the Librarian, though he served the Night Lords, he did so in a most distasteful and foul way, to Tyberus the Librarians were little more than a necessity of war, if not for their effectiveness in combat he would gladly see them 'removed from the company' wholesale.

However he paid little heed to the Librarian other than a nod of recognition. His mind was elsewhere but rather than continuing any discourse with Pelegon he simply maneuvered himself to an isolated and secluded cubicle where he could access the information about the Legion and the First Company he sought. He wanted to know as much as he could of the Primarch's Company, to see what they had been doing in preparations for the war that was just on the horizon now.

As he read through tomes upon tomes of campaign information he smiled with pride, seeing the vengeance with which the Night Lords First Company unleashed their fury on their enemies.

As time drew on, he got up, closing the tome in front of him a Librarium Servitor collecting the ancient text from him. He decided that he would need to visit the Reclusiam aboard the Nightfall, he needed to speak with his Brother Jaekal and his ilk, they would be able to sanctify him before he entered battle once more. He was one of the few remaining within the Fourth Company who still adhered to some of the traditions of the Legion.

The presence of Pelegon weighed heavily on his mind, wondering what it meant that they had been given the "honor" of being joined by an Astartes from another legion. It most surely had implications beyond the obvious, but what they meant for the Fourth Company's standing within the Night Lords he couldn't glean. Likely only Veptus and the Captain would have any real notions for what it meant in the long run. The massively broad warrior's chain laden armor clanked as he strode to the darkened and incense laden halls of the Reclusiam. "I have come seeking purification before our great war breaks out my Brother," he spoke to an Astartes who stood vigilant outside the entrance to the Reclusiam, the warrior's helm nodded in respect as he moved aside without word. Tyberus entered, the strong scent of burning incense filling his nostrils. He knew at the very least he would be ready for battle after his time here.
 

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The Iron Warrior had been but a small child the last time he had felt the cold fingers of fear wrap themselves around his heart, gripping it in a steel vice that stole the breath from his lungs and drove the rational thought that he so valued from his mind. His first, biological, father had managed to remove it from Pelegon's emotional arsenal by himself inspiring it, teaching him what had seemed to be impossible levels of self-control and discipline. The inheritance of lost Olympia, once indomitable, now a craggy ashen wasteland from which the charred foundations of the mightier bastions jutted. Burned by the sons it had nourished, a victim of its own creations.

Despite this, and a relentless century and a half of the most exhausting and trying forms of warfare, Pelegon could not rid himself of unease as he entered the Librarium. The IVth legion made use of psykers, and had continued in its practices after the council of Nikaea. But those had been psykers strong-willed and unified in the Lord of Iron's plans, little given to temptation or self-serving. Having seen how the VIIth acted, Pelegon could not be certain of the stability of the Night Lord's psykers, or their (likely questionable) hold on sanity.

Thus, when the Librarian, Sevestus, presented himself to the Iron Warrior, Pelegon could have been best described as more apprehensive and guarded than usual. Paranoid, even. Distrustful of his ilk, it took little to trigger the Olympian's fighting instincts when he felt the man's psychic presence infiltrate his mind. With nary a warning the Iron Warrior dived forward, moving at a speed that those who had seen his disciplined, almost robotic movements earlier might have imagine impossible. His huge right hand grabbed one of the power cables running into the front of the marine's armour, under the abdomen, and the left grabbed the librarian's face, pinching his temple between forefinger and thumb. With no small amount of effort, the screeching grind of metal on metal rending the quiet peace of the Librarium asunder, Pelegon picked Sevestus up and slammed him back into a wall, the impact jarring the Iron Warrior's wrists and driving the breath from the librarian's body.

The hood was pulled back from the psyker's head in this altercation, and Pelegon caught a glimpse of a patina of scars around his throat and jaw; as the cogs in the Iron Warrior's mind whirred, realising immediately why the librarian had not spoken to him, he saw the Night Lord bringing up his right hand, some form of eldrich energy crackling within. What it was the Olympian did not know, but he could see it casting a dark light, and the Iron Warrior brought up his left knee as hard as he could, crushing the appendage against the plasteel of the wall. He felt the crunch of bones shattering, the pop of displaced joints and the shredding of ligaments and tendons as the hand was smashed by the brute force of the impact; the spell, whatever it had been, vanished in an instant. The psyker hissed, and Pelegon let him go, stepping back and raising his hands. He did not apologise, but made it perfectly clear that he had no wish to continue the fight. The librarian, whose pallid features were now clear, smiled tightly and rose to his feet, apparently none the worse despite his now useless hand.

"Worry not, Olympian" the quiet voice slithered in the back of Pelegon's mind. Had he any hair remaining, it would surely have been standing on end at this intrusion of his thoughts. "I am no stranger to abuse"

The Iron Warrior lowerd his hands, clasping them behind his back in his customary standing pose, speaking carefully considered words. To have reacted so defensively, so harshly, had been ultimately foolish, but Pelegon did not chide himself. This legion was unpredictable, and he sensed that he would need to adapt more in order to integrate himself. If that was even possible.

"I came here to learn what I could of your language. For this I require..."

"Then you are a fool. The language cannot be directly translated from Gothic, neither High nor Low"

"I will try my utmost, honoured librarian" Pelegon replied evenly "I do not believe any problem cannot be solved. For this I require any texts you have in both Gothic and Nostraman, with vox-recordings to accompany them"

The librarian paused, no longer clutching his ruined hand; judging by the readings from his power armour, Sevestus' body was now flooded with pain-suppressants. It would now, Pelegon realised with disappointment, be his duty to see the librarian to the apothecarian. The gauntlet that covered the hand had not been breached, so it would suffice as a bag of sorts to contain whatever mulched meat and bone remained of the appendage, though it had been badly bent out of shape. Were the apothecaries here skilled, they could save it. If not, Sevestus would likely require a bionic replacement. The real issue was that Pelegon would likely run into that repulsive creature, Veptus, while there.

"Wait"

So Pelegon stood, eyeing up the other psykers as Sevestus drifted away into the shadows, returning a handful of minutes later with a data-slate in hand, giving it to the Olympian.

"A comprehensive history of our...my, homeworld, Nostramo. Written in my tongue, translated, approved for official Imperial documentation. Not as detailed as perhaps you may like...it glosses over the less savoury aspects of my culture, but it is long enough to use near every word in our vocabulary. Do not expect it to be easy reading, Olympian"

Pelegon accepted the data-slate with a nod of thanks, stowing it away. It would be heavy going, but the librarian underestimated Pelegon's mental acuity, his ability to analyse and piece together information. This language he would approach as merely another bastion that needed to be conquered, a world to be cracked open like any other. However, here he would require no artillery, no picks, shovels or breaching charges, merely patience and perception.

"I thank you for your generosity in spite of my unfriendly greeting. I would be pleased to escort you to the apothecarion, should you allow me to do so"

The librarian did not respond, and Pelegon thought that perhaps the man had not heard, until his ears began to pick up a faint hissing and wheezing. It took a few moments for the Iron Warrior to realise that Sevestus was laughing, the pauldrons covering his shoulders rising and falling a little in sympathy with his snorts.

"Formality does not become you, Olympian. I know what you are, dog of war. This place, with its etiquettes and rituals, is more threatening to you than the direst of battles. I sense it in your elevated hearbeat, the way the auspex in your armour constantly relays information to you, your guarded posture and movements. Not uncommon among your kith and kin, but perhaps exaggerated now you feel constantly threatened, and not by any xenos scum, but by those who you would call brother?"

At the end of this odd tirade, Sevestus gestured to Pelegon, as if telling him to lead the way. The Iron Warrior did not feel it appropriate to correct Sevestus on the few points on which he had been wrong, not when the bulk of the message had been correct. Without acknowledging the message any further, he turned on his heel and left, the pair of them making their way to the Nightfall's apothecarion. It took them little time to reach it, moving at Pelegon's customary long-legged stride; Sevestus had to trot occasionally to keep up, but they made good time, finding themselves face-to-face with a pair of terminator armoured brutes on either side of a door engraved with the apothecary's spiral.

Pelegon saw Sevestus bow his scarred head, eveidently engaging in psychic conversation with one or both of the guards. They did not flinch, evidently no strangers to the psyker's preferred method of communication, and replied with something in Nostraman that Pelegon, of course, did not understand. However, the doors to the apothecarion slid open with a smooth, well-oiled swish, and the pair awaited whatever welcoming committee they would be granted.
 

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Veptus’ words were placatory and I let them pass. Tyberus’ were the same and I did not respond, but shook my head within the confines of my helmet.

We were not a legion anymore. We had not been for a long time. When Curze called the fleet into orbit around Nostramo and our guns broke through the planet he sacrificed what remained of the Eighth Legion. All that remained of the warriors who once fought for justice across the galaxy were the Night Lords, harbingers of fear and bringers of death. I had fought for almost two centuries and in that time I had seen terrible things. Horrifying things. Things that would make a lesser man go insane. But I had stayed firm because I knew that what I did was right, even if it was difficult. Lately... I was not so sure. I gave up everything to follow first the Emperor and then Curze to the stars. I had welcomed my Primarch and felt the disappointment and anger at the Emperor that many of the supporters of Horus preached, but I still felt loyalty to him. All those who spoke of the Emperor as a fool who did not deserve his place at the head of humanity had evidently not studied the man as I had. Arrogant he may have been, but the Emperor was a brilliant man. The existence of the Primarchs was evidence enough of that. I had been granted the gifts of a space marine to win the galaxy for the Emperor. Just or not, following Horus’ crusade felt like a betrayal of everything I had stood for. I do not know whether I am even still a space marine. The oath I swore was to protect the Imperium and here I stand alongside those to seek to tear it down.

Xandrek, Raskreia and Veptus were the three that kept me steady, that kept me sane. They were warriors just as I was, men with a sense of honour no matter how twisted it was. I trusted each and every one of them with my life and I would protect theirs at the cost of my own. That they would stand against the Emperor was the only way I could justify doing so myself.

But enough of my ponderings on the morality of our cause. There is a great deal of this tale yet to tell and we are running out of time

I shook my head at the bickering of all the younger marines that made up First Claw. Sometimes it is hard being the oldest in a group where every man is constantly trying to outdo the others. Still, I had more than earned my place and everyone that challenged my worthiness learned the hard way why I was still Xandrek’s Champion after eighty years of continual service. I turned to see First Claw dispersing, travelling down separate corridors and going their separate ways, though many shared destinations.

My eyes were drawn to Agrippa though for as he slipped through the press three marines bearing the markings of the Seventeenth Company emerged to follow him. This did not bode well for Agrippa for the Seventeenth had long had a rivalry with the Fourth, a rivalry that frequently led to bloodshed.

I strode through the gaggle of Night Lords, parting it like water as men edged out of my way. I was feared as a swordsman in the Legion and those not blinded by pride in their own abilities kept well out of my way as I walked through with a face like murder, stalking after the marines who were even now following behind Agrippa and catching up. My right hand moved to grip the hilt of my power sword even as I quickened my stride, beginning to run after them as they cut into a passage to follow my fellow marine
 

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Azrael: Following behind Agrippa and the three marines from Seventeenth you see the back one turn his head to the side to get a look behind him as he hears your pace quicken making your footfalls become louder as they pound down onto the steel decking. His head snapping back to look infront of him he raises his hands and places them on the shoulders of his two battle brothers halting them and jerking a thumb back in your direction the three disappear off down a side corridor leaving Agrippa to continue on his way, though it is your choice if you follow the three marines or continue after your battle-brother as it may be that the three marines plan on ambushing him at a later time hence heading down a side corridor. It was clear to you that even with three of them they knew who you were and that it would not end well if you caught them as a fight would likely be picked up by the marine they were following and that one of you could easily call for aid over the vox from your battle brothers. The decision is yours, if you decide to follow Agrippa that you may decide to have a conversation with him or decide to head off to the training halls to let out some aggression. If you choose to follow the three marines that within five minutes you manage to catch up with them as they seem to have been waiting for you but there is now a fourth member with them, stood there resting on his hands on the pommel of his huge double-headed power axe and from his human skin cloak and skull like helm you know this to be Champion Sar'Thel of Seventeenth Company and when he sees you, you cant help but hear the smile in his vox altered voice. "Hello Azrael, Its been awhile and as much as a touching re-union would be enjoyable I think skinning you would prove far more interesting."

Veptus: You continue to take tissue and blood samples from the boy infront of you as your mind continues to remember your training under Orrin and the times of when you have had to patch up some of your current battle brothers such as Azrael, Raskreia, Jaekal, even Var on the few times that have had to have him replace his organic components with bionics, mainly part of his face and reconnecting his bionic eyes to his optic nerves, along with patching up Xandrek's near fatal wounds at the hands of the old Captain during the murder duel for command of Fourth Company (Giving you free reign here to make up their injuries and you healing them, if you wish to go into Xandrek's wounds then message me in a pm or over Skype.) Continuing to work you flinch back slightly from the boy and look up as a voice intrudes upon your mind with you seeing the robed form of Sevestus move towards you. +"Greetings Apocathery Primus Veptus, I require your assistance, it seems that the Iron-Skin didn't take too kindly to my way of conversation."+ Sevestus motions back to Pelegon with his right hand and then holds up his left hand to you showing that the armour is buckled in several places and that the hand underneath will clearly need seeing two with the bones resetting before the deployment at Isstvan, you should finish your work on the boy and then see to Sevestus. Feel free to have a conversation with the librarian. (Message me in a pm or skype if you want help with it.)

Jaekal: - Still need you to post for the previous Update. Last chance before I npc your characters until further notice when you contact me.

Var: - Still need you to post for the previous Update Romero. Last chance before I npc your characters until further notice when you contact me.

Tyberus: Entering the Reclusiam you look around and see that Jaekal is nowhere to be seen for now though perhaps he is in discussion with his other brothers who wear the Black instead of Midnight Blue. Walking forward you see that several other chaplains skull faced helmets turn to regard you as they murmur amongst themselves with their crimson lens seemingly judging you. Walking into the middle of the Reclusiam you are confronted by Brother-Chaplain Rashel from Eighth Company as he inclines his head to you he rested his hands upon his Crozius and his other upon his overly large flaying knife. "What is it that you have come to seek Tyberus of Fourth Company? What is it that you wish to know in these hours before we embark on a crusade that will make the Emperors become a foot note in the Glory of the Warmasters?" Clearly Rashel has been paying too much attention to the Word Bearers Chaplains and you frown as you see one such member of the Seventeenth Legion standing with his arms crossed behind his back as he observes you and converses with what appears to be Jaekal upon the second tier of the Reclusiam.

Vandread: Still need you to post for the previous update.

Agrippa: - Still need you to post for the previous update.

Pelegon: The terminator armoured guard with the power fist motions for the two of you two enter as it is clear no one is coming out to greet you. Stepping into the apocatherion of the Nightfall you see that unlike the rest of the ship it is well lit, clean and a hub of activity as Apocatheries move from table to table performing their duty to the wounded, dead and dying, and from the corner of your vision you see Fourth Companies Apocathery: Veptus, hunched over a boy of perhaps thirteen with a scalpel taking tissue and blood samples obviously testing his compatibility for Night Lord Gene-seed, and you realize that like the Iron Warriors the Night Lords now have no home planet and that the last of the recruits to have been taken from the home world would be the last pure-bloods of the legion, something that the Fourth and Eighth now have in common. What do you feel about having something like this in common with such a disorganized and odd legion and how does their apocathery compare to the one aboard the Ironblood? As you watch Veptus work you see Sevestus glide forward towards Fourth Companies apocathery and see Veptus's head snap up from where he was focusing on the aspirant to look at the Librarian approaching before resuming and finishing his work and stepping forward to converse with Sevestus. You may either join the two members of Fourth Company, walk around the Apocatherion or find somewhere to read through the data-slate, though perhaps listening to Veptus speak with Sevestus might help you understand Nostraman as Veptus is answering verbally instead of mentally.
 

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Veptus’s armoured fingers were quickly becoming drenched in blood as he worked. Despite pumping the youth full of chemicals to slow his blood flow and cauterising many of the wounds he was forced to make, his hands still became the crimson of arterial fluid. After the operation he would need to cleanse them, least someone confuse him with the likes of Bloody Bones, men who had broken even the VIIIth Legion’s lax moral code and earned themselves a delayed death sentence. His dextrous fingers pushed aside some of the original organ in order to make room for the secondary heart. He had already implanted the Ossmodula and Biscopea. This was all that remained. Memories continued to drift in with his other thoughts. His hands moved of their own accord, knowing exactly what they were to do.

It was after the Murder Duel. Veptus was working as ever in the Apothecarion. Despite Xandrek being a companion of his for some time now, he did not want to watch this fight. Usually he greatly enjoyed watching the command echelons murder each other for lordship over this Murder of Crows they called the 4th company. But not today. If Xandrek died he did not want to be there when it happened. Instead, he found solitude in his work of repairing Brother Tenoch’s legs. He heard a commotion down the hall shouting voice demanding medical attention. Evidently some fight had just ended.

Veptus looked up from his work. Azrael, a man he had not really gotten to know in any capacity other than his ability with a sword, propped up the limping form of Xandrek. Blood streamed down his legs from multiple wounds, one in his chest which was so deep Veptus could see his heart beating underneath the thin layer of muscle that still hung over it in tatters. But he wasn’t dead, and if he was being brought here than meant he was the victor, no matter what it had cost him. Now it was up to him to save his new captain.

The cold indifference was gone from Veptus’s face. He left Tenoch catatonic where he lay and he sprung into motion. “Clear a table! NOW!” Veptus roared. He was only Apothecary Minoris and several others bristled at his authoritative tone. But the Primus Medicae was in absentia and in this moment no one felt like arguing with him. Servitors and other Apothecary Minorii moved to assist him. “Azrael, bring him here.” Veptus called. The swordsman brought the recently christened captain to the sterile slab of medical steel.

Veptus barked orders as if it were his birth-right. Orrin had increasingly left him in charge during his increasingly long soirées aboard the Nightfall. With Xandrek’s ascension, perhaps Orrin would be permanently assigned to their Father’s side. Such things were irrelevant now. What was relevant was Xandrek’s survival. Azrael stood to one side, watching over Xandrek’s prone form in a protective stance Veptus would come to learn very well. Tubes feeding fresh blood into Xandrek’s body were inserted with speed and care. Vat-grown tissue was sown over the exposed chest cavity. Veins were fused back together or cauterised to stem the loss of blood.

Veptus’s hands worked with skill that was born out of equal parts intuition and experience. Suddenly his hands froze. Except they hadn’t in that moment. He knew how this story ended and he had not paused here, or at any point during the hours of operation until Xandrek was stable. Everyone around him as stopped and a figure who had not been there in that moment. *Greetings Apothecary Primus Veptus. Reminiscing your moments of glory?* Sevestus spoke without speaking.
Veptus blinked and came back to the Nightfall. The Librarian was there and the Olympian trailed behind him.

“Chief Librarian Sevestus…” Veptus spoke, Nostraman flowing from his lips. He noticed the crushed plating on the Librarians forearm “…I take it you have come seeking assistance?”
*Indeed, it seems that the Iron-Skin didn't take too kindly to my way of conversation.*
“Neither do most of us, but at least we have the good grace not to strike you for merely existing.”
*Except Xandrek.* That was the problem with mental communication. Sevestus couldn’t hide his anger at the captain for wounding him for gift he could not control. He chuckled and nodded.
“Except Xandrek, and apparently this Olympian.” Veptus called servitors to carry away the prone body of the initiate he had finished his work on and gestured for Sevestus to lay in his place.

Veptus never despised psykers the way his captain did, not that he had ever cared to mention it to Xandrek. He knew his captain’s thoughts on them well enough to know not to express disagreement on the subject and risk his own position. Veptus peeled back the crushed armour surrounding the forearm, sewing closed wounds as he went. He asked a simple question as he worked “How?”
*Did this happen?* Sevestus’s psychic voice floated through his throughts. He felt the Librarian flinch as he snapped the bones in his arm back into place. *He can to the librarium trying to learn Nostraman.* That did make Veptus laugh, even more than Sevestus’ pain.

Veptus’s icy blue eyes met Pelegon’s visor. “He was trying to learn Nostraman?”
*I was almost as surprised as you. It seems like he actually wants to know our legion’s soul.* Veptus’s face darkened. Their legion didn’t have a soul. “Still, it is a sin for an outside to strike a Night Lord, even one such as you.” Veptus smiled his psychopaths smile and Sevestus returned it in kind. “Hold him steady.” Veptus winked as he injected medical concrete into the places where the bones had fractured.

Veptus moved round the table to Pelegon. For at least 60 seconds the Iron Warrior had not moved and did not turn his head when Veptus circled him. Either he was less wary about allowing a Night Lord at his back than he had any right to be or, through whatever sorcery he was using, Sevestus was holding him in place. When he spoke it was in Low Gothic. “So, Sevestus tells me you are trying to learn Nostraman.” Pelegon confirmed that much. “I hate not being able to look into someone’s eyes when I’m talking to them.”

With that Veptus reached up to Pelegon’s helmet. He saw the Iron Warrior’s hands flinch, but they never left his side. Veptus smiled as Pelegon’s helmet unlocked with a hiss of depressurisation. He set the Mark III helmet down on the side with great care. Pelegon’s face betrayed no fear, but Veptus was certain he could see confusion, frustration and the Iron Warrior’s jaw locked in cold resignation. “Trouble moving?” Veptus asked, already knowing the answer. “Hmmm…that is troubling. Let’s check your reflexes.” Veptus drew his scalpel into his hand and dragged it slowly across Pelegon’s forehead. A thin red waterfall formed on the Iron Warrior’s bald skin and ran down into his eyes and it was all he could do the blink it away.

“Hmmm…very troubling indeed.” Veptus muttered to himself, feigning concern. “Servitors, help the patient onto the operating table. Oh and be sure to restrain him.” Several servitors lifted the paralysed Iron Warrior onto the medical table and tie him down with numerous chains, bands and braces. Only once Veptus was sure he was secure did he nod to Sevestus to release his hold on the man. The concentration disappeared from the librarian’s face and at last the Iron Warrior was free to struggle in vain against his bonds.

He turned back to Sevestus for a moment, slipping back into Nostraman. “Don’t get into any more fights between now and the battle and you should be fine.”
*Much appreciated Veptus. Ave Dominus Nox*
“Ave Dominus Nox” Veptus returned the legion war-cry and with that Sevestus left and Veptus turned his attention back to the Iron Warrior. The gash on his forehead had healed quickly, already scabbing over, as Veptus would have expected.

“Finally, a moment alone” Veptus smiled. Pelegon stared straight at him, and it was only in that moment that he noticed that there was something peculiar about the colour of some of Pelegon’s veins. *Curious.* He thought to himself. “Now…” Veptus leant over Pelegon’s face and looked down at him. “…you are lucky my Olympian friend. See, if you had struck Azrael or Raskreia or someone I or my Captain were particularly fond of you would be about to experience a very painful death. As it is, the Captain cut out Sevestus’ vocal chords and I have no particular love of the man. So, your death is not assured.” Veptus paused there.

The threat of Veptus’ silence hung over Pelegon like a guillotine. “However, it is still a sin in our legion for one without command over someone else’s life to harm them. That’s why Xandrek could take Sevestus’ vocal chords, and why you find yourself in your current predicament.” As he spoke Veptus slowly span the scalpel next to Pelegon’s ear. “So, we’re going to have a little talk and I’ll decide your fate. Now, why were you trying to learn Nostraman?”…
 

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The last pure-bloods of the VIIIth Legion; briefly, Pelegon wondered whether their successors, those not of Nostramo, would be accepted into the Night Lords, whether there were those who dwelled within the Legion's ranks who held purity of bloodline above all else. He knew that in the IVth there were those who looked down on Iron Warriors not from Olympia. Though he himself was not among their ranks, believing that any warrior was defined by his actions and not his origins, he could see why Olympian pedigree was so valued; an upbringing on that world hardened men and gave them a nerve and intuition that was hard to rival. On Olympia one was raised to strive to be the best in every aspect, counterbalanced by always being put down and told one was never good enough, that one had to strive harder. Told that the only way to win was through superiority in all regards, both militant and scholarly; the shock that most IVth legionnaires had once they realised how much better than their counterparts they were tended never to quite wear off, to give many an overly-inflated sense of self worth. But to hold onto such antiquated values as purity of blood was foolish; with no further purebloods forthcoming for either legion, both the VIIIth and IVth would wither and die as their members fell in battle unless they wholeheartedly accepted.

Of course, Pelegon mused as he watched Veptus attending to the injured Librarian, a servitor whisking his prepubescent charge off to who knew where, the Night Lords hadn't wrought the destruction of their homeworld with their bare hands. This much his Warsmith had gleaned and passed on to him, though he would not divulge to the rest of First Claw that he knew this, not yet. They had fired on Nostramo from orbit, rending its crust, mantle and eventually, core, asunder in a hail of fire; the Iron Warriors had themselves made planetfall on Olympia, inflicting upon their own people the same fate that had been suffered by countless opponents of the Great Crusade, putting its populace to the sword. No, these men had not looked into the eyes of their former blood relatives as the light of life had faded from them, wide with shock, hatred, and worse of all...curiosity. As if they did not know why this was being done. Fools; they should have known that standing against the Lord of Iron could have had only one outcome, that his fury fell upon friend and foe alike.

The moment that Pelegon had known his legion had fundamentally changed had been during the storming of a Schola in the city-fortress of Lochos. To revel in the slaughter of a foe who had dared to stand against you, who had fired at you in anger, that was one thing. This had been another entirely.

The door caved in under the combined weight of the two Iron Warriors easily enough, the clang and screech of metal distending then eventually being torn apart under sheer force a familiar sound to their ears. Loxias, his servo arm twirling over his shoulder, looked about, raising his heavy bolter, Pelegon doing the same with his combi-flamer. Ahead of them was an impromptu barricade of furniture and sandbags, desks and chairs piled high. This was no more than a futile last stand; Lochos had been lost as soon as its walls had been breached, but to their credit the rebels were refusing to surrender. Olympian to the very last.

"You would have thought that they would have provided more adequate protection for the children" Loxias mused, advancing forward as a lasgun-armed rebel took careful aim from behind a barricade and was duly pulped by several large-calibre bolt rounds detonating inside his chest.

"The intel coming over the vox states that most of the armed forces withdrew to the palace. I think they believe that they can make a more effective last stand there; our father is personally leading the First Grand Company to purge it himself"

Pelegon's voice was as calm and detached as ever as he charged, hip-firing with his boltgun as he did so, every shot finding its mark and sending another rebel into the afterlife in a spray of blood. The Hail of Fire assault was a standard part of their Hammer of Olympia doctrine, and it was with no small sense of irony that Pelegon carried out this attack against its namesake. To be able to accurately hip-fire a boltgun in full-charge was impressive enough, but Loxias could do the same with his heavy bolter, and reached the barricade before Pelegon did. Lasgun shots pattered against their artificer plate, but it was a forlorn effort; it could no more penetrate it than rebel flak armour could stop the bolt rounds the pair were spewing out.

Where Pelegon leaped over the top, Loxias smashed straight through the barricade, both of them discarding their long arms and drawing close-combat weapons. Pelegon favoured a chainaxe, whereas the brute Loxias wielded a great roaring eviscerator as easily as Pelegon might a normal-sized chainsword. The two of them waded straight into the rebels, who refused to retreat, lunging at the two with bayonets. At the start of the fight, every blow was precisely placed to do as much damage as was physically possible, but Pelegon began to realise that he was slipping into some sort of blood-fury as he stood over the broken bodies, smashing his chainaxe into them over and over again, until they were not recognizable as anything other than minced red gore with tattered strips of cloth blended into the juice. Clapping steel bands of will over his rage, he clenched every muscle in both arms, forcing them to stop, dropping the severed head he was holding in his free hand and wiped the offal from his eye-lenses to clear his vision. How had he slipped into that mental state so quickly, without even noticing? Usually so self-aware and introspective, with so much self-control, the Iron Warrior could scarce believe it had happened.

Loxias and Pelegon stared each other down, and he realised that they must look alike; both were covered from head to toe in vital fluid, the running red juice staining their grey armour so they looked more like Blood Angels than Irion Warriors. The rich stink of iron came in even though his helmet's air filter, and the Olympian realised it had taken the two of them somewhat less than ten seconds to cut through nearly thirty men. Killing his axe's motor, he held it up to his helmet's faceplate and inhaled the intoxicating stench of burned blood as it sizzled off its overheating motor unit. Gods above, he was...enjoying this...

Loxias chuckled, and Pelegon saw that he was shaking slightly, moving his head from side to side, perhaps in an effort to clear it.

"I see I am not the only one to revel in the slaughter, brother. It is fine; we have earned this, after all those long, thankless years cleansing Hrudd warrens, never fighting the cowardly creatures face-to-face. It has been too long since I tore the life from another being toe-to-toe"

Pelegon said nothing, not trusting his voice not to shake like that of a child in the throes of his newfound ecstasy, though his usual statuesque pose gave away nothing. He merely nodded, picking up his discarded combi-flamer and pushed on through the next door, Loxias smoothly slipping into lockstep by his side. Rebel vox-chatter had informed them of some sort of officer in the Schola; perhaps the coward hoped to shield himself with the bodies of children. Ultimately, it would avail him no good.


The Iron Warrior returned to the present as he realised that Veptus was behind him; his Auspex informed him of the Night lord's movements off to the side. Pelegon chose not to move until the creeping degenerate was right behind him.

“So, Sevestus tells me you are trying to learn Nostraman...I hate not being able to look into someone’s eyes when I’m talking to them"

He couldn't move. Pelegon's heart rate spiked as he tried to move, to turn and end Veptus' miserable existence. He had the perfect attack planned; whip around to the right, his left arm out, to strike his face-plate, while the right hand drew his meltagun. As the Night Lord would stagger from the momentum and force behind the strike, Pelegon would draw the shining, virgin weapon and christen it by liquefying First Claw's excuse for an apothecary in a single shot. All in vain as he felt his helmet's seals pop with a quiet hiss of compressed air, and his vision temporarily blackened as it was pulled off by Veptus' questing fingers.

The Librarian; of course. Pelegon's eyes, all he could move aside from a slight finger-twitching, saw that Sevestus' face was screwed up in concentration, the odd expression distending the scars around his mouth and throat. He was having difficulty containing Pelegon's strength, and all the Iron Warrior could do was draw some small satisfaction from the fact that the psyker might have a nasty headache later on from the strain.

Brief pain lanced Pelegon's forehead, though he could not move his head to see what was happening, it became clear enough when Veptus entered his field of view, holding a bloodied scalpel, and blood began to stream down the Iron Warrior's face. He did not blink it away, letting it fill his eyes, until the Iron Warrior was staring through a film of red. It would partially obscure the apothecary's idiot grin, and that was good. How foolish to let himself be captured, he pondered as he became uncomfortably weightless for a moment, until the servitors set him down on a table, securing him in place with thick metal bracers designed to hold a thrashing Astartes. He had let himself be lost in his memories; rare, but not entirely unsuitable, for if there had ever been a time to be introspective, standing at the threshold of heresy was that time, even if it was for righteous vengeance. Now he was paying for the luxury of complete thought.

The apothecary murmured something in Nostraman to the librarian, who presumably replied (though Pelegon, of course, did not know this for sure) and then took his leave. Now they were alone, the apothecary leaned over the Iron Warrior, his pitch black eyes scanning Pelegon's face before settling on his own dark brown ones.

"Now, you are lucky my Olympian friend. See, if you had struck Azrael or Raskreia or someone I or my Captain were particularly fond of you would be about to experience a very painful death. As it is, the Captain cut out Sevestus’ vocal chords and I have no particular love of the man. So, your death is not assured"

Death; it was something so very familiar to Pelegon, a facet of existence that he had visited upon so many, and a foe that he had danced with, dodged and outright refused to accept countless times over the course of his life. He had no fear of it, only a sinking heart and mild sense of disappointment that so distinguished a career should end this way. Betrayal had ever been the lot of the Iron Warriors, but right now, when they had so much to gain through co-operation, with a common foe? He had always imagined himself dying in a hail of enemy fire during an assault, or perhaps obliterated by a tank's heavy weaponry on the rare occasion the shot he landed on it didn't kill it outright, or at the very least cripple it. Maybe even with a mild look of stupid surprise on his face as bolt-rounds, flechettes or a battlecannon shell turned him into ceramite fillings and cruor. As it was, his end looked currently to be meaningless and extremely sadistic.

His face ever impassive, Pelegon stared back and said nothing, the blood drying into a thin crust on his pale face. He could feel the scalpel making delicate traces around his ear, not enough to mark the skin, but the slightest pressure would see Pelegon bereft of that particular organ if Veptus so desired. He did not glance at it, merely set his jaw and continued to stare. Fuck him. If Veptus wanted to hear Pelegon scream, to hear pain, misery and terror, to derive some sort of pleasure from this, he was going to be sorely disappointed.

“However, it is still a sin in our legion for one without command over someone else’s life to harm them. That’s why Xandrek could take Sevestus’ vocal chords, and why you find yourself in your current predicament. So, we’re going to have a little talk and I’ll decide your fate. Now, why were you trying to learn Nostraman?”

Doubtlessly the apothecary wanted there to be some sort of sub-text, some plot or hidden agenda, some excuse to torture the Iron Warrior. Pelegon almost wished at that moment that he had one, for he knew that no-one could break it out of him, and he would give a blood-choked smile as he finally expired with his body succumbing to the interrogation, taking his secret to the grave as the apothecary howled in frustration at his failure. As it was, he had already explained his motives clearly enough, though he had to admit that even to him they had sounded a bit odd.

"I was assigned to your Legion so that I might learn more of it, to foster better relations between the IVth and VIIIth through mutual understanding. I need to know how you function, to see you both on the field of battle and away from it, to learn what makes the Night Lords who they are. This is both because of the orders I was given, and because I am genuinely curious"

Pelegon's voice was as calm and collected as always, his tone even and neutral. It was likely time for more explanation, greater transparency, and to reveal to the Night Lord who he was and what he was like. "I am in a constant drive for self-improvement; education is not a stage of life for me, it is life itself, for one must be always changing for the better, able to say at the end of every year that one is better than one was at the start of it. For this I believe it is important to be exposed to alternate ways of thinking, other attitudes and other skill sets, perhaps in the hope of absorbing them, or at the very least being aware of them. I am a warrior first and foremost, I exist to fight; thus it follows that my skill sets would be best learned from other warriors"

Here the Iron Warrior paused momentarily as the apothecary's face took on a more pensive expression while he digested this information. "Veptus, I volunteered for this placement. I could have stayed within my legion and become a Siege Breaker, but I did not. I want to know how you work, to maybe emulate it, but for that I had to integrate myself as best I could. I saw that you communicate exclusively in Nostraman, and asked myself; would it make more sense to ask them to alter their way of life to suit me by speaking in Gothic, or for me to learn their language? The answer is obvious, for I wanted you to be as close to your natural state as possible, and I also believe that nuances and small details of your culture will remain hidden from me if I do not know your language. That is why I want to learn Nostraman"
 

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Brother Chaplain Rashel greeted him as he entered the Reclusium, Tyberus' senses perked up, taking in the distinct smells of incense, fragrant oils as his black eyes dialated some to see near perfectly in the darkened and sanctified chambers. "What is it that you have come to seek Tyberus of Fourth Company? What is it that you wish to know in these hours before we embark on a crusade that will make the Emperors become a foot note in the Glory of the Warmasters?" The words of Rashel of 8th Company rolled out with a slick, almost snake like quality, the phrasing he used, his emphasis on The Warmaster bore the influence of the Word Bearers.

On the second tier of the Reclusium Tyberus could see from his peripheral vision that Jaekal was present, though the Astartes Chaplain he was being tended to by caused a mild frown to form momentarily, his jaw clenched. The Word Bearers Chaplain was addressing Jaekal and while they fought on the same side, the motives of the Night Lords and the Word Bearers were vastly different. Those who heeded the Word sought to make the WarMaster Horus into a God and replace the Emperor, the Night Lords wanted to be done with any God Emperor entirely. Quick to hide his feelings from Rashel he spoke in his typical measured and bass ridden tone "Chaplain Rashel, I have come seeking my Brother Chaplain Jaekal to speak with him in order to go into battle properly attuned." He looked to choose his words carefully now, he did not want to offend Rashel, nor did he want to be attended to by the Word Bearers influenced Chaplain, they were sellers of Snake Oil, spewing ideologies of trading one God Emperor for another and Tyberus did not wish to hear them out.

"If possible I would like to see our Relics so as I can be inspired to measure up to the great warriors of our Legion and the deeds done by our Lord," Tyberus had such respect for the Night Haunter he would not speak anything other than his title. His eyes ran over the skull helmeted Chaplain's red lenses, looking for some hint of Rashel's next actions. But the red eyes betrayed nothing, the oil slick voice seemingly hissed in response, "Of course Brother Tyberus of 4th Company, if you wish to be sanctified before battle I can attend to you in the absence of your Brother Jaekal," Rashel's tone hinted that he suspected Tyberus had in fact seen his battle brother but was simply playing along, which did not sit well with Tyberus. He wondered if he would be able to tolerated Rashel's ministrations, and even had misgivings about the motives of the 8th Company Chaplain, would he seek to convert him as well to this cult of the Warmaster Ascended? Would their encounter escalated to violence if he refused? He would risk violence rather than risk being manipulated into some sub-cult that was spreading throughout the Legions, not just his own, but it seemed the rumors were true, the Word Bearers were speaking to all Chaplains, spreading their poison where they could. They were allies in the war, but Tyberus wondered what would happen at the end, even in victory it seemed like the Traitor Legions were lining themselves up for a new war.

"I am honored that you would offer such services Chaplain Rashel, but I have not come here to be sanctified this day, merely to expand my knowledge and reverence for what our Legion has done before, so as I may go into battle inspired and ready to achieve victory." His power maul was resting right against his hip, pommel up, his right hand hung casually at his side, fingertips brushing against the weapon, if Rashel sought to attack him he would not be taken by surprise. *I've got to tell the Captain of this, the 8th Company is lost to the Word Bearers Venom...
 

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Veptus’ smile withdrew into his face, replaced by a thoughtful expression. He was so used to being unable to trust any but his closest brothers that, were any but them telling him this story, he’d set their nerves on fire for mocking him. But this Olympian posed an uncertainty in his otherwise certain train of thought. Veptus had never met a cousin legionary who wanted anything to do with the VIIIth legion, unless it was to use them like that bastard Lorgar and his bloody XVIIth legion who had infected their Chaplaincy. Perhaps Pelegon’s story was part of a greater plot to snare the Night Lords to an equally cruel master moments after they had broken free from their last overlord.

Then again, his story and motives sounded so bizarre and curious to Veptus’ ears that he was almost inclined to believe him. Veptus let the spinning scalpel in his hand stray too close to Pelegon’s ear, nicking the top corner and causing Pelegon’s curious coloured blood to appear briefly. “You know what I said to Azrael after I left you in the hangar?” Pelegon likely remembered the words but not their meaning. How could he? As Veptus spoke he moved from Pelegon’s head to his feet, causing Pelegon to stare down his body to see him.

“I said you had no interest or capacity to learn our Father’s way. It appears I was mistake about the first part at least. However, learning Nostraman won’t help you. It will only allow you to know exactly what kind of a whore someone was calling your mother before they stuck a chainblade in your gut.” Veptus chuckled darkly at the thought of that. “There is a darker, silent language that you must learn first.” Pelegon seemed satisfied that Veptus was inclined to talk to him about his legion’s nature. “The first thing you must learn is to read the situation and know who you are talking to and if you can afford to piss them off. For example…”

Suddenly Veptus pressed a button at Pelegon’s feet and the clasps that held him down released. “…You could reach for your weapon and try to kill me now for pinning you down and drawing iron blood. However, I am favoured by my captain and the Primus Medicae Orrin over there…” Veptus pointed to the busy figure of Orrin. “…and he is favoured by the Primarch. Even if you managed to hit me, you would be captured and restrained before you could fire again. Then we’d leave you to Bloody Bones over there…” Veptus again pointed to the figure of Madwyrm, although he was far more enthralled and maniacal about his work than Orrin. “…and trust me, he can make you suffer beyond anything even I could achieve. And I once brought a city to its knees with my work.” Veptus smiled his psychopath’s smile, remembering Ghurst and the night of horrors visited on that city.

Pelegon seemed to grasp Veptus’ meaning and the lesson behind it. *It appears this iron is more malleable than most.* Veptus thought to himself. Pelegon got himself off of the medical table and began to affix his helmet again as he listened to Veptus some more. “Our primarch rules mortals by fear, but we Astartes do not feel fear…” *Although, in Father’s presence, I would swear I feel my bones quake.* Veptus added silently to himself. “…but we do understand calculated risk. The risk of our lives and our pain against what we stand to gain and how likely it is we will actually attain it. Once you understand that and your position in the food chain, everything else will fall into place.”

Veptus moved to stand in front of Pelegon again, now that the Iron Warrior was fully armoured. He was certain that the Oympian felt more secure now that he had control of himself back and that this was when he was must dangerous and most likely to seek retribution. But that was the test of the first lesson. If he moved against Veptus, it would be the last one he made and by this point this should be abundantly clear. If it wasn’t then Pelegon was not going to last much longer in the VIIIth legion.

Veptus spoke one last time in Low Gothic, the turn of the words in his mouth already growing tiresome. This was the longest in fourteen years he had spoken in Low Gothic to anybody. “We had a saying on Nostramo: dis ahoor nokra gavic siish yaekri brakrix fov gorsh ridev. It means shake with your right hand…” Veptus extended his right hand which Pelegon took after some hesitation. “…but hold a rock in your left.” Veptus’ volkite serpenta was under Pelegon’s chin in the blink of an eye. A moment later Veptus felt the barrel of Pelegon’s combi-melta in his gut. Veptus hoped Pelegon was smiling under his helmet.

Veptus laughed. “See, calculated risk. You pull your trigger, you die too. Same for me. We have equal risk and nothing to gain so we are not enemies. As soon as that balance shifts, one of us will feel the other’s dagger in our backs. That is the truth of the VIIIth legion. So we live, so we die.” With that Veptus lowered his pistol and felt the circular pressure leave his mid-rift. Pelegon’s cold helmet stared at Veptus for a moment longer before he went to leave. “A final lesson, Olympian, that you’d do well to heed…” Veptus spoke softly after Pelegon, who stopped and turned to face him once more. “…myself, Azrael and Raskreia are highest on the food chain, under Xandrek, in the 4th Company. You’d do well to endear us to you if you want the best chance to learn about our legion. Good luck with your Nostraman.”

Veptus repeated the last sentence in Nostraman and Pelegon seemed to understand that whatever form of ceasefire or alliance that had just occurred was now at an end and that it was his duty to learn and survive. Veptus watched Pelegon leave and smiled broadly. It was not his usual psychopath’s smile, and somehow was more mischievous for it. A part of him wished that the Iron Warrior would somehow fall foul of one of his brothers or his captain and Veptus would have pretence to drag him back here under. He had hear that the Iron Warriors, much like the Imperial Fists, were incredibly resilient to punishment and he would very much like to test out their limits under his knife…
 

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The blood on his face was a hard crust now, its slightly oily sheen forming whorls and patterns on Pelegon's lined face, but he did not bother to wipe it away, slipping his helmet on over his head. The comforting, familiar hiss of the seals in his gorget reached the Iron Warrior's ears, mixing with the curiously softly-spoken words of the apothecary.

It took considerable effort not to commit some act of violence, though. Pelegon knew he could kill this Veptus, and quite probably their Primus Medicae as well, but that would leave the Iron Warriors in poor stead when they most needed allies - and him dead on the apothecarion floor. That same logic that he so valued now aided him, exercising immense self-control as he quashed the tensing of his muscles, forcing his jaw to unclench. Feeling a cold sensation washing over his nervous system, Pelegon straightened up, knowing that the rage had been purged from his body. Mental strength and thought had acted like a cooling balm on his fevered fury. It was a precious thing, anger, and once weaponised and honed to a razor's edge it could give a warrior an advantage like no other. Displaced and misdirected, however, it could bring about his self-destruction and ruin with equal effectiveness. The Iron Warrior would save it for those who had truly earned its full force, and Veptus, though dislikeable, was not such a one.

Standing to attention, Pelegon had barely finished digesting the Night Lord's proffered wisdom when an arm was offered to him in that same strange gesture that Tyberus had earlier used. Taking the right arm in his own, wrist to wrist, Pelegon pumped it up and down, though the physical contact made him profusely uncomfortable. As soon as their grips hardened the Olympian felt the familiar hardness of a gun pressed to his jaw - instinctively, he drew his meltagun and shoved it into the apothecary's gut. An uneven match, were it just the two of them; a volkite weapon would be unlikely to punch through Pelegon's artificer plate, whereas no armour could hold its own against the superheated blast of melta weaponry.

Briefly, Pelegon entertained thoughts of using his grip on Veptus' right arm to wrench it down and around, wrapping his own body around the Night Lord's and disarming him - foolish, it was not just the two of them, and Pelegon put his weapon away. He calculated that this gesture was supposed to be, in Veptus' own strange and roundabout way, educational rather than castigating. Though that, it seemed, was the way of this entire legion for Pelegon. It defied the cold, comforting logic to which he was so used. Of one thing, Pelegon was certain; he could expect more of this.

Striding down the almost empty corridors of the Nightfall, Pelegon contemplated that which he had seen. Though he was no longer angry, he was disappointed in himself for having been captured and rendered helpless so easily. Psykers were not a factor that he had taken account for in his calculations, foolishly. This was an error that could not be allowed to persist, though in order to minimise its impact on his life from this point on, the Iron Warrior avowed to stay as clear of them as was possible. He had little love for their kind as it was, and self-preservation was a logical, if unbecoming, excuse to himself for staying well away.

After a little while he reached the Legion's living quarters, and entered the cell that he had been granted use of during his tenure with the Night Lords. The small size was a deliberate insult, but Pelegon had no love of luxury, firmly believing that comfort bred weakness. The cold metal walls were unfurnished and plain, and though the lighting was a little low for his liking, the brutally spartan nature of the cell was comfortingly familiar. In one corner was the small strongbox of his few personal possessions, a desk and chair, and a bed. No armour rack, he thought with a ghost of a smile playing at the edges of his mouth, nor did the bed look strong enough to hold his weight up when wearing armour.

Pelegon held the data-slate Sevestus had given him in his right hand, and plugged it into the interface port in his palm, feeling the rapid transfer of data entering his mind, copied and stored also in his armour's cogitator's memory banks. Powering off and discarding the now redundant data-slate, the Iron Warrior reached for the plain iron strongbox and set it on the desk, placing the palms of both hands on the interface sockets on its sides. He felt himself integrate with the box, undoing the complicated lock-system piece by piece in a matter of seconds. It was a copy of a lock design from a container that had held some archeotech artifact on Gugann; Loxias, his erstwhile brother, had frisked the object away to present to Warsmith Forrix without allowing Pelegon so much as a glance at it, but Pelegon had been more intrigued by the lock mechanism of the box they had found it in, carefully noting down every feature he could observe of it, before replicating it himself in the machine-shops of the Iron Blood. A pleasing little box, though anyone determined to open it could simply smash it with a powered maul, he knew that few could ever hope to open it conventionally - entirely an exercise in craftsmanship rather than security. Every minute cog, tooth and coil of the locking mechanism had to be synchronised and aligned perfectly for clasps to unlatch, and having crafted and arranged all 21,788 himself, Pelegon could not help but feel a moment of rare pride whenever he opened it.

Opening it up, Pelegon removed the foremost object from its interior; a folded cloak of shining golden-brown metal. It was made of bronze wires cross-stitched and woven as if they were fabric, about a centimetre thick and large enough to drape over Pelegon's prodigious shoulders. Even a strong mortal man would have been hard-pushed to so much as shift it, but the Iron Warrior handled it with no difficulty, swinging it around over his back, careful to maneuver his armour's power unit through the hole in the centre, before affixing it around his armour's gorget. It was a cloak of the Stor-Bezashk, heavy weaponry masters of the Iron Warriors, one that signified his ranking and ability, a trophy that showed the Olympian's worth. Though Pelegon loathed nearly any form of exhibitionism, he had seen how the VIIIth legion displayed their grisly trophies of war, and had concluded that this might make him seem less alien to them.

Pelegon glanced briefly at the other objects in the box; there was nothing of great importance, merely spare parts for his armour and weapons and his own personal tool set, clean and laid out with a neatness that bordered on obsession. Satisfied to find this unchanged, Pelegon closed the box and shoved it under the desk, and left the cell, deciding that it would be time to see the VIIIth's views on religion and faith.

As he made his way to the Reclusiam, his armour's information feed informed him that Tyberus was there already, as was their chaplain Jaekal. Looking at the biological readings from the veteran's power armour, he looked like he was preparing for a fight, with elevated levels of adrenaline in his blood and an increased heart rate. Even as he walked, Pelegon drank in this information with his eyes while his mind mulled over the contents of the data-slate. Nostramo had been, it seemed, permanently cloaked in night due to petrochemical smog rather than due to some natural geographical or astronomical anomaly - Pelegon briefly wished that he could have taken a sample of this smog to see if it were at all possible to disperse it. As the history of Nostramo reached the point of the arrival of the Night Haunter, the Iron Warrior shut it off, along with its Nostraman equivalent, as he had arrived at the Reclusiam.

Tyberus was deep in conversation with a chaplain whose armour marked him to be of the 8th Company, though the marine's clenched jaw, tone of voice and armour readings showed him to be alarmed, though by what, Pelegon did not know, until he caught a glimpse of magenta armour and a third leering skull-mask. A Word Bearer - though Pelegon admired their dogged dedication to the cause of war, he did not trust them in the slightest. Their need to venerate something was pathetic, and they reminded him of grub worms; soft and weak, needing to latch onto a host of some sort in order to survive. What or who they now venerated after the Emperor had (quite reasonably, the Iron Warrior thought, though kept this to himself) castigated them Pelegon did not know, but belief without reasonable justification for its existence was total anathema to his way of thinking. In any case, though they fought with admirable grit, it was not because they had trained themselves to enact the destruction of a foe with disregard for their own safety or because they could use sheer willpower to overcome their fear, but because they clearly believed in some sort of greater reward - Pelegon was tickled by a deep sense of foreboding whenever he saw XVIIth legion in the flesh, and though his powerful, calculating mind had tried on many occasions to discard it as a flight of fancy, still it persisted. The chaplain gave him that same sensation, and it was no more possible to throw it off this time than it had ever been.

Approaching Tyberus, Pelegon inclined his head in greeting and stood behind him, facing the 8th legion chaplain, whose name he did not know. The veteran, it seemed, wanted to see the VIIIth legion's relics, in order to invigorate himself somehow - interesting that they could mentally steel themselves this way. Was it weakness to require something touched by their primarch, or a form of love that could be harnessed? If used correctly, perhaps a strength, but it would not be possible for every brother to see the relics before a battle, so Pelegon decided to see it as a weakness. He would tag along behind Tyberus, if allowed to do so, and have a look at these relics himself; it would be interesting to see what sort of artifacts the VIIIth cherished.

"I see that you do not like the Word Bearer, or his honeyed words" Pelegon growled in a private vox to Tyberus, though his stance and movements indicated no form of communication to those not privy to their conversation, as his faceplate was directed at the 8th company's chaplain.

"Rest assured that whatever animosity toward them you harbour in your hearts, Tyberus, mine is its equal. Their flights of fancy do not make them...reliable, and their agendas are as ambiguous and shifting as a nebulous cloud. What new fervor has infiltrated their minds, do you think?"
 

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Tyberus was surprised to see the Iron Warrior in the Reclusium and even more surprised that he welcomed his presence. In typical Night Lords fashion, Tyberus saw that Pelegon was of immediate benefit to him and deigned that he would not relapse into their prior conflict just now.

As his vox opened abruptly, he was equally surprised to hear Nostramon come from the Olympian, the emphasis was misplaced in certain words and pauses too late or too soon, but the message was clear, ""I see that you do not like the Word Bearer, or his honeyed words. "Rest assured that whatever animosity toward them you harbour in your hearts, Tyberus, mine is its equal. Their flights of fancy do not make them...reliable, and their agendas are as ambiguous and shifting as a nebulous cloud. What new fervor has infiltrated their minds, do you think?"

Tyberus was quietly pleased that Pelegon, contrary to his initial meeting, he was showing signs of understanding how the Night Lords worked, making no immediate introduction to Rashel, nor openly speaking Nostramon, both of which would behoove him here. "My distaste is because those who heed The Word seek only to annoint a new God for themselves to worship. Their words are poison." Tyberus did not hide his opinion or use flowery, or roundabout language to describe his feelings for the XVIIth Legion as he could hear in Pelegon's words that he too harbored a great deal of mistrust and near open hatred for them.

"For the time being you do not speak nor do you understand this conversation Pelegon, follow my cues." Rashel then interjected, the oil slick hiss in his tone grated Tyberus, his stare never leaving the bone white of the skull masked Chaplain, the bright red lenses of the 8th Company's Chaplain equally fixated on Tyberus, Rashel looking down on Tyberus by nearly a half foot tried his best to posture himself up, as if he was seeking to intimidated based on height differential alone. Tyberus couldn't help but crack a slight malevolent grin underneath his helm. Rashel then broke the silence, speaking in Nostramon believing that Pelegon would not understand, "So you are this dog's keeper are you Tyberus? That explains the chains adorning your armor." With a snicker the Chaplain of the 8th Company continued with his barbs, "Does he follow you everywhere now? Taught him any tricks have we?"

Tyberus nodded to Rashel, "When charged with a war hound it only makes sense to have them lead by the most savage beasts among us, don't you think?" The 4th was known for their savagery and Tyberus simply turned the intended insult around on the Chaplain. Rashel's posture shifted, relaxing slightly, causing Tyberus to wonder if he had received some private vox of his own...

"You may come with me to the inner sanctum to be 'inspired' by our Legion relics Tyberus," Rashel spoke, the displeasure noticeably coloring his words, perhaps his new master the Word Bearer Chaplain had privately reigned him in. "With all due respect Chaplain Rashel I would view our relics on my own so as to be able to fully appreciate them without outside influence." Rashel seemed to hesitate for a moment, clenching his fists at his sides before stepping out of Tyberus' way, "Feel free to browse the relics as you wish Tyberus, but keep your dog on a close leash, we wouldn't want him to get lost now would we?"

Tyberus nodded and though it pained him to do so gave a quick nod of thanks to Rashel, gesturing for Pelegon to follow him as he walked towards a set of stairs at the back of the main Reclusium chamber, stairs that would lead to the lower sanctum where some relics of the Night Lords were displayed. Without looking back Tyberus motioned with his left hand, his right never moving more than an inch from the pommel of his power maul as he walked. His private line again opened to Pelegon "Hold steadfast your temper at this moment Olympian, it is not the time for rash action. Now follow me."

As Tyberus walked down the stairs to the lower sanctum he hoped that Pelegon would follow and not let his temper get the best of him having heard the insults of Rashel. There was no outright animousity between the 8th and the 4th Companies, but amongst the Night Lords there was also not much if anything in the way of camaraderie between the varying Companies. Tyberus wanted to avoid creating a melee between a Chaplain of any Company and an Iron Warrior who was stationed to serve among them, it would not bode well for that warrior, nor the company he was stationed with.

As he reached the lower sanctum the darkened light gave way to oil lamps and less incense, the lamps lined a walkway that featured statues of giant bats, viciously detailed. At the end of the walkway hung a tapestry featuring some of the famed battles of the Night Haunter himself. As he strode down the lamp lit path his eyes were drawn up to the shadowed outline of three giants. Their features were that of statues, though they were not crafted of stone or clay. The deep, midnight blue ceramite that encased these warrior relics showed signs of being freshly renewed, honors in service commemorated along each of their massive sarcohpgas. Three Dreadnoughts slumbered, but were likely being made ready for the events to come. Along the opposing wall, glimmering in the hallowed light of the flickering oil lamps Tyberus' eyes took in the sight of a chain halberd that had used in combat by Jago Sevatarian himself. If ever there was a place to be inspired for battle, this was it.

Tyberus then turned to the Olympian, "The slights offered to you this day have not gone unnoticed, but this is not the time to draw negative attention in any to the 4th Company. I will however speak the truth if you wish to seek The Captain's approval for challenging Rashel and taking back your personal honor. I would speak with The Captain as well, he must be alerted to the poison that now flows through the veins of the Legion, if the 8th Company has been swayed to the Words of the XVIIth Legion, I suspect others have as well...Including my Battle Brother Jaekal." He spoke still on their private vox line, the tone he used as he spoke of his Brother Jaekal hinted at a genuine kinship and not simply a mutually beneficial or symbiotic relationship that was so common within the Legion, no he spoke of Jaekal as a friend that he believed lost to The Word.
 

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Tyberus' feelings were an exact mirror of Pelegon's own, and the Iron Warrior felt a brief moment of understanding pass between them. Not exactly kinship, but not too far off either. How charming that it should be negative cohesion that brought them together.

Pelegon acknowledged Tyberus' cue, standing as still as a statue and letting their conversation wash over him - Chaplain Rashel's barbs were pathetic, but useful for the Iron Warrior. Though he was aware of the contention within the structure of the Night Lords, this open display of animosity made it abundantly clear where Rashel's loyalties lay. The fool hadn't played his cards close to his chest, and so when the time came to remove the Word Bearer from the equation (and Pelegon would remove him, of this he was certain, if only to ensure that his studies of the VIIIth were not adulterated by the interference of the XVIIth), Rashel too would have to be dealt with.

That the chaplain was attempting to tower over Tyberus in some pitiful attempt at intimidation only compounded Pelegon's feelings. The Iron Warrior felt one of his fingers twitch in anticipation of a fight as he found himself hoping that the powerfully built Tyberus would grab the rambling Chaplain by the chest and break his spine over his knee - Pelegon would dive for the Word Bearer and crush his sternum with his thunder hammer. The Iron Warrior could picture the altercation in his mind, his movements carefully planned, feel the shock of kinetic energy travelling up the hammer's haft and into his hands and wrists, the clap of ceramite as it was split under the force, the crack of shattering bone and the wet thud as the organs beneath were pulverised.

To the Iron Warrior's combined chargrin and relief, this was not to be. The conversation concluded, Pelegon stared straight ahead as the two of them advanced into the Reliquary, reining in a brief urge to punch Rashel in the throat as he passed him. As the Olympian followed Tyberus down the macabre passageway, he wondered when the easiest way of dealing with a brief annoyance had become killing it. Perhaps he was changing already, the iron that constituted his mind not as unmutable as he had imagined. Were these changes to occur, Pelegon vowed that they would be for the better.

Once they reached the gloomy chamber, the Iron Warrior's attention was immediately drawn to the chainglaive hanging from the wall, and he stepped away from Tyberus to better examine it. Even without picking it up, to the eyes of a skilled technician it was clearly a piece of exceptional craftsmanship. Its aesthetic, plain and unadorned other than for the winged skull of Nostramo, pleased the Iron Warrior, and looking at the welding lines, the honed teeth, gleaming brass engine housing and perfectly stamped rivets, he could tell it had been the work of an artificer of no small skill. However, in spite of its excellent condition and loving maintenance, it was first and foremost a tool of war, and Pelegon's keen eye picked up a few nicks and marks and a shiny wear on the leather grips that indicated previous heavy use. An intriguing weapon, one that the Iron Warrior would have been pleased to try to wield in his own hands. He had seen other Night Lords holding weapons of similar design, but none were as fine as this - if given access to the forges of the Nightfall, Pelegon decided that he would make one for himself. How it would feel in his hands - the sheer reach afforded by the chainglaive made the moves it would afford him clear enough, with a long swing capable of putting enough momentum behind the head to cut through thick armour. How he would fare closer up, once a foe had made it to what some of his brothers humorously referred to as "kissing distance", he did not know...perhaps shove him with the length of the shaft, sideways-on, then attempt to swing and slash once he had been pushed back?

Tearing his gaze away from the weapon, Pelegon turned back to face Tyberus, who had resumed talking. Though some of what he spoke made sense, other parts of it were not to his liking...even as he processed the Night Lord's words, Pelegon felt an idea forming in his head, one that he thought might be to Tyberus' liking. It seemed that his observation of the VIIIth's attitudes with regards to faith had been pushed aside in favour of more pressing matters - Tyberus, though, seemed pleasingly secular. A duel wasn't a bad suggestion, but it wasn't Rashel's blood that Pelegon was after. The Night Lord Chaplain was only a proxy.

"I'm sure you're familiar with ancient maxims and analogies, Tyberus, so I'll assume that you know about pulling the heads off serpents. If that Word Bearer dies, I'm sure that Rashel may find himself questioning his newfound beliefs. If you left it to me, I'd slay the viper in its nest without offering it the grace of a warning, but an altercation with Veptus has shown me that this isn't your way" Pelegon growled in Low Gothic, not yet confident of his extremely rudimentary Nostraman to carry him beyond simple greetings. It sat ill with him to plot this way, but Pelegon could see that it could lead to benefits for all parties involved if Tyberus went along with this idea.

"I don't have sufficient reason to challenge the Word Bearer to a duel. However, should your captain find a way to pit me against him in the arena, I'll kill him" the Olympian continued, his tone confidential yet easygoing - this was not a boast, but a promise "I don't know enough about your legion to arrange this myself, but perhaps you could. We would all benefit from this; you would have peace of mind, knowing that the 8th company was no longer subject to Lorgar's teachings, I would have an unadulterated legion to observe, and would establish myself as a warrior here - maybe earning myself a scrap of acceptance in First Claw through baptising myself in the Word Bearer's blood. All else aside, I'm certain that it's a spectacle that your...brothers would enjoy - two officers of different legions fighting to the death. That alone might be reason enough for your captain to set it up. All else aside, if Xandrek were to approach the Word Bearer publicly and inform him that I was willing to fight, he could not refuse without looking like a coward, and perhaps lose followers in the process. What do you think?"
 

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Tyberus' attention was fixated on the slumbering behemoths before him, the gold filigree running along the front of the sarcophagus gleaned in the flickering light. "Honorable Brother Veratus," Tyberus spoke aloud to himself, running his right hand along the brass plaque the was stationed next to the living relic. Veratus was encased in an ornate and ancient sarcophagus with gold filigree, massive gold slabs on either front facing plate featuring artfully and carefully crafted inscriptions. The left was adorned with the honors that Veratus had earned, both as an Astartes and in his current form, his right bore engravings listing the campaigns he had fought in, both ran the entire length of the front plates. His right 'arm' as it were was a a dual barreled auto cannon, expertly fastened and welded to the lower barrel was a chain bayonet of sorts, the blade ran along the underside of the autocannon barrel and protruded about 4 feet past it. Veratus' right hand was a massive power fist that could easily hold a (or crush) an Astartes in full power armor.

Pelegon then spoke, his hatred of the Word Bearers becoming quite clear, to Tyberus' liking, the more he spoke on the subject. "I don't have sufficient reason to challenge the Word Bearer to a duel. However, should your captain find a way to pit me against him in the arena, I'll kill him" the Olympian continued, his tone confidential yet easygoing - this was not a boast, but a promise "I don't know enough about your legion to arrange this myself, but perhaps you could. We would all benefit from this; you would have peace of mind, knowing that the 8th company was no longer subject to Lorgar's teachings, I would have an unadulterated legion to observe, and would establish myself as a warrior here - maybe earning myself a scrap of acceptance in First Claw through baptising myself in the Word Bearer's blood. All else aside, I'm certain that it's a spectacle that your...brothers would enjoy - two officers of different legions fighting to the death. That alone might be reason enough for your captain to set it up. All else aside, if Xandrek were to approach the Word Bearer publicly and inform him that I was willing to fight, he could not refuse without looking like a coward, and perhaps lose followers in the process. What do you think?"

Tyberus let him finish, though his instinct had been to cut him off when he mentioned being accepted by the First Claw, that would likely never happen, unless he somehow managed to fully embrace the way of the Night Lords, which seemed highly unlikely. "You would do well to not speak of what would give me peace of mind," he was toying with Pelegon now, to no end really, he just enjoyed teasing the Iron Warrior, "But what you speak is truth. You are also right that you do not have a reason to challenge the Word Bearer. You are wrong to think The Captain would arrange or even care about your desire to fight and kill him though. Killing the Word Bearer in his chambers would be foolish and merely strengthen the resolve of the Word Bearers to infuse more of their poisoned blood within the ranks of our Legion. Likewise it would not benefit you, nor I. You must send a message on all fronts. The Word Bearer is likely not familiar with your Olympian customs, and while I don't care what those are, you do. In a more public setting you must address this Word Bearer if you wish to fight him, greet him in the manner of -your- Legion, if he does not understand it, nor reciprocate it you then have a 'valid' reason to be offended. If that happens, things will likely escalate quickly and if the Word Bearer challenges you or you him, The Captain will likely not stop you. Do not lose. If you lose you will bring an inordinate amount of shame unto the First Claw, but if you win, you may gain some modicum of respect."

"As for the Chaplain of the 8th, Rashel is a fool and has been for some time. If he tries to intervene I will deal with him accordingly." Tyberus' face contorted into a predatory grin "Of course, there are always other ways to deal with curs and weaklings," as he spoke he pointed to his greaves, then his shoulder plates and his helm, pieces of armor that had been cannibalized from other Astartes' power armors, "War has a way of killing off those who are weak and those who have crossed me," the veteran let forth with a grating, bass ridden laugh that warbled and crackled over their private vox line. If Pelegon hadn't heard the rumors of Tyberus by now he was sure that Pelegon would have now figured out why Tyberus "The Cannibal" was not often the target of Astartes within the Legion.
 

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Following behind the members of Seventeenth who were even now tailing Agrippa I saw the third one’s head turn back as I increased my speed, my feet pounding against the steel deck plate. The man who had turned snapped his head back to his compatriots and placed his hands on their shoulders, bringing them to a halt before jerking a thumb back at me.

The three of them disappeared down a side corridor, leaving Agrippa to continue on. Go back one hundred and fifty years and I would’ve chased after them without a second thought, one hundred years and I would have taken the time for a second thought and then chased them anyway. But I had been fighting for one hundred and eighty years and if there was one thing I had learned from the hundred and sixty years of those I had served under Kurze had taught me that hostile Night Lords going into a dark corridor is a definite sign of a trap. I opened a com channel with First Claw, sending a message to the whole squad. “Looks like the Seventeenth Company have offered a lovely trap for me brothers. I am going to step into the hornets’ nest; I would appreciate it if you could be prepared. Sar’Thel still has a score to settle with me after I took his eye during our last duel and I have no doubt that he is involved in this.”

I opened a private com channel to Pelegon, speaking in low Gothic. “You wanted to prove yourself to us Olympian. Fight alongside me and you will have proven yourself more than enough in my eyes.”

Sure enough I was proved right as after rounding a corner I came face to face with the three men and a fourth stood with them, both hands resting on the pommel of his double-headed power axe. The skin cloak and skull-like helmet identified him as Sar’Thel and when he saw me I heard the smile, even in his vox altered voice. “Hello Azrael, it’s been a while and as much as a touching re-union would be enjoyable I think skinning you would prove far more interesting.”

I moved into a combat stance, sliding my left foot back and bringing my right hand down to grasp the hilt of the sword on that hip. “Sar’Thel, it has indeed been some time. Don’t tell me you’re still mad about that eye you lost. It’s in the past brother, nothing to still be angry about.” I smirked, knowing that Sar’Thel could see it as I had gone bareheaded. I also knew that the expression would drive him mad; he had always hated me even before I removed his eye, after I won our first duel by playing with his arrogance and tripping him into walls and flipping him off his feet. I had messed with him, doing flashy takedowns and stunts that drove the man insane. He had won our next two duels, forcing me down with sheer brute strength and iron hard determination. It was our fourth where I took his eye, pulping it with my sword’s pommel when he had tried to smash me against a wall with his body.

The other Champion snarled and spun his axe up so that he held it in both hands before bringing it crashing straight down towards my head. I did not even try to stop the blow, knowing he was the stronger and could drive his weapon past my guard quite easily if I let myself be pinned. I glided backwards smoothly, dodging out of the way of the axe strike and sliding my sword free of its scabbard in one motion. My sword came out in a scything slash that Sar’Thel caught on his axe’s haft. The bigger man tried to drag his weapon down to catch my sword and rip it out of my hands but I twisted and pulled my sword back, out of his grasp.

Sar’Thel’s fellows started forward but he held a hand out to stop them. I raised an eyebrow. “You want to take me alone Sar’Thel? Do you not remember what happened last time you tried that?”

He snarled and lunged forward, swinging his axe at me. I stepped inside his swung and drove my right fist into his helmet, snapping his head back. I threw another punch, driving him back a step. An uppercut from my left fist sent him staggering back. I stepped back, grinding my sword’s point into the deck and placing both hands on the pommel. Sar’Thel tore off his helmet and snarled at me. “A coward’s trick Azrael. A true warrior would not descend to using his fists in an honour battle.” His face was twisted into a rictus of hate, the expression one of pure loathing.

“An honour battle Sar? This is not an honour battle. This is a dishonourable assault on the Champion of Fourth Company because you wish revenge for the loss of your eye. You see, that battle was an honour battle.” I stepped forward, scorn twisting my face. “You dare call me a coward? You who refused to face me without three of your friends to help you if it looks like you’re losing. Yes, I can see the way the man to your right has a twitchy trigger finger and one of your other fellows has been trying to creep behind me since we started this. Fight me like a man Sar’Thel or kill me. It is your choice.”

“I choose to kill you.” He snarled

I smirked as I heard thudding footfalls behind me. “Then you should have done it sooner Sar’Thel."
 
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