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Marcus merely stood silent as he observed the exchange between Sergeant Kyros and the Death Guard Legionnaire Alaros. He felt wary and exposed as Kyros continued to determine the loyalty of Alaros. The area around them was still partially obscured by the blast wave. Choking clouds of dust and ash reduced visibility heavily. Looking around he could not discern any other signs of life at that point. Signs of life apart from themselves right at this point. Marcus grimaced as Kyros and Alaros touched on the loyalties of the Primarchs and the Emperor. That was not a thought he wanted to dwell on at this point.

It was clear enough however that Angron had abandoned them on this forsaken rock. Marcus thumbed his Vox once again for any source of higher command to guide them. He flipped channels trying to reach Captain Ehrlen and even Centurion Shabran Darr, though Marcus was loathe to trust him. All he connected with however was but howling static and damning silence. He tried again and again as Kyros and Alaros continued their wary approaches in conversation. Neither appeared to really trust the other but Marcus at least knew that Kyros was of the same legion. Abandoned and thrust away they maybe he was most likely Marcus' closest ally.

"I will fight with you," the Death Guard affirmed. That was enough for Marcus. Enough for now as he needed to move and regroup.

"I will leave this then to you Sergeant Straeson." Marcus stated, " I will go reconnoitre the area and perhaps find other survivors."

He hefted his volkite charger and marched off to the ruins of the bunker complex.

"I will be back soon." He said on the World Eater's channel to Kyros, "If the Death Guard tries anything just signal and I will come running back."

His eyes ever vigilant Marcus stalked through the dust choked ruins of the bunker complex. Hefting aside some rubble all he could ever find where corpses of legionnaires. Finding a secluded region Marcus sat down and inspected his gear in case dust damaged the delicate instrumentation. The work was routine for Marcus and most importantly calming. He needed this time to go through his thoughts and find out why.

Why did Angron and the Primarchs abandon them?
 

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Kyros' eyed Marcus for a moment as he spoke, "I will leave this then to you Sergeant Straessen, I will go reconnoitre the area and perhaps find other survivors." His unusual blue eyes flashed a hint of mistrust before he hid them from sight by placing his helmet back on. Go and find other survivors...To what end? It dawned on him that Captain Ehrlan had given them a warning just before the impact of the bio weapon, perhaps there were other survivors and perhaps they were still loyal...Loyal, what the hell does that even mean anymore? Loyal to who?! Kyros allowed his inner dialogue to go on a moment longer before looking back to the barren waste strewn out before them.

"With all respect Brother Sergeant Tharr, we should move together. We have no way of knowing what is out here," he did not enjoy his next statement, the words coming out tasting as if they were poisoned, "We've no way of knowing if there are traitors planetside already." He began walking after Marcus, waving for Alaros to accompany them. Suddenly his thoughts played back the events that had just transpired, the panicked last minute warning of Captain Ehrlan, the desperate race to get to shelter and the sudden silence of the massive weapons of the Legio Titans before any warnings were issued over the vox. He waved to Alaros, motioning for him to meet them at their position, using his vox to ensure both battle brothers could hear his startling realization. "Brothers! The Titans ceased fire -before- we ever received warning of the virus bombs and went completely silent. If they knew of the attack..." His breathing was mixed with snarls, the rage building, even without the Butcher's Nails he was seething.

He clenched his fist and punched a heap of rubble, easily crumpling it as he caught up to Marcus, simply assuming that Alaros had followed. "Sergeant Tharr, Legionaire Gilgumann, we need to get out of the open now." His voice was a hissed whisper, as if speaking softer made the words easier to say, get caught less in his throat and feel less vile. "It is likely that the Legio Titans are involved. Think," he implored them, "They ceased firing before any other warnings went out, they would have issued warnings if they were using normal operational standards, they ceased fire and went completely silent. The blood of our brothers is on their hands as well."

Sensing Tharr's desire to be left with his own thoughts and wallow in the aftermath of what had happened to them, to all of them. "You are not alone in your anguish Brother Sergeant, but this is no time to ask questions such as why. Our Primarchs have betrayed all of us," he pointed to both Tharr and Gilgumann for emphasis, "I will not let this weigh me down with the great sorrow that fills my bones now. No!" He was shouting in defiance as much for the two compatriots he spoke to as himself, convincing himself that he would not be broken, hoping he would believe his own words. "No!" he shouted again, "I will turn my sorrow into rage, rage directed at those who have enacted this cowardice action. Those who tried to murder me and both of you with knives in our backs! I will let my rage turn to guided hatred, my axe will take vengeance upon those who have betrayed us and above all who have betrayed our Emperor. Now let's move, find other survivors and prepare to kill as many who make planetfall as we can."
 

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Tiberius sighed at Sebastian's words. The Decurion was a fine battle leader of the Emperor's Children, but he was not bred for diplomacy. However correct his assessment of Akkad's folly in believing this was merely an accident, levelling such an accusation bold-facedly would only anger the Cthonian. Right now they did not need the only soul other than themselves that they knew was alive turning on them over hot-blooded words said in anger and sorrow. Tiberius stepped in the gap between Akkad and where Sebastian was walking away. "Forgive my fellow Decurion, he speaks rashly. We have all endured much today and I fear this is not the worst of it." Tiberius was unsure that this would be enough to settle the Son of Horus' ire. "We both owe our Captain, for far more than just warning us today. He is likely dead, you are right, but honour binds us to him and compels us to confirm as such. You are not under his command, so no such bond is on you, and my brother forgets that."

He was about to launch into a list of reasons why it was obvious they had been betrayed; the Dies Irae sealing itself, the word of Saul Tarvitz, the lack of communication from orbit since they landed. He opened his mouth and let it hang open for a moment, leaving a vacuum of silence. A realisation dawned on Tiberius. He wetted his lips and took a half step closer, perhaps accidently appearing like he was trying to intimidate Akkad. His voice dropped to a whisper, laced with inquisitiveness and accusation “You aren’t stupid, Akkad of the Seventh. You know this was no accident, even if you didn’t hear our Captain bring the word of betrayal. You know only your Primarch could order this attack, and you know that no commander would be so rash as to unleash madness this without warning. You know that this would be the most effective way to eliminate Astartes, regardless of the cowardice of the action. So tell me, what are you really trying to accomplish by cutting south?”
 

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Krateron listened to the other Decurion, whatever his name was, with a slack, bored look upon his face. He was goading him, trying to get a reaction, trying to make Krateron lash out - And the Emperor's Child would not like that. It was petulant, an angry, childish attempt to bite, though Krateron was the bigger dog, in his blood, and ash, streaked green. He folded his arms, over his chest, as the Decurion turned and made a rude noise with his mouth. 'Go, then,' He uttered, to himself, in Cthonic. 'Kill for the living.'

Tiberius stepped into the gap between them. He reasoned with Krateron, defending his fellow Decurion, who was now trudging away, with the Legionary - Darius - Following in his wake. Krateron was starting to like this Tiberius, as he leveled an accusation at him, and found himself smiling, half-hearted, beneath his helmet.

'Of course, cousin, I know this was no accident,' He grunted, after a second. Winds were howling against his helmet, though unlike Tiberius, he made no attempt to quiet his voice. 'This was preconditioned. Planned, plotted and enacted - It's all monumental, if you think about it. How long had Horus Lupercal, favoured son, been concocting this treachery? Weeks, months, years?'

He let the question hang in the air, before continuing. 'What am I trying to accomplish?' Krateron barked a laugh. 'Survival, Tiberius, I want to live,' He unfolded his arms, now. The Decurion was standing close, an intimidation, though one that failed to elicit a reaction. I've killed bigger, uglier and darker things than you, Emperor's Child.

'The Death Guard are likely gone, as are the World Eaters,' He continued. 'That leaves the Third and the Sixteenth, the Sirenhold and the Precentor's Palace, and that's where our brothers, when they realise there are survivors, will come down. An hammerfall, a reckoning beyond belief,' He looked up, at the sky, peering, imagining. 'Could you kill a brother, Tiberius? When brothers, who we have served alongside for decades, come baying for your blood, could you? South is safety, get out of the City, get as far as possible. I want to play no part in the coming tragedy. Call me a coward, if you must. It's not cowardice,' Krateron grinned hungrily. 'It's intelligence. Stay here, and we are doomed, worse than doomed. Strength in numbers,' He mocked, with a derisive snort. 'More to kill, you mean.'
 

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He marched with the World Eaters his eyes scanning the ash-chocked horizon as Sergeant Kyros across the rubble strewn wasteland of Choral City. The buildings around them had been warped by the world-ending heats unleashed in the firestorm in the aftermath of the Life Eater attack. Alaros' eyes kept looking into the sky even though he knew they'd never see any ship exchanges, even in low orbit, through the ash. That small part of him that refused to believe Mortarion could do this was like a blast-door holding back the gurgling cauldron of molten hatred that threatened to fill the void left in him. As much as he wanted to release it, if only for the release, he knew that doing so would taint his mind forever. Once he suspected his Legion of betraying him he would always suspect it. And if this turned out to be the work of the Warmaster he would not allow his loyalty to Mortarion be tainted by it.

The other World Eater, who never introduced himself to Alaros, had moved ahead of them both and was sifting through the debris. He pulled his plasma cannon out with a flourish. Kyros had something right if they were betrayed it was likely that the enemy may already have made planet fall through the ash in hopes of catching any survivors still in shock. He checked the cannon, running diagnostics, heating ventilation checks, and power-cell reservoir checks. Everything came back green. A cursory examination of the reinforced composite piping that ran from the gun back to his customized power pack on his back was still in excellent condition. The use of a plasma cannon was always a dangerous prospect for anyone. They could just as easily burst and immolate you in the very same plasma you intended to scorch xenos ... or even traitors with.

As he did his weapons check he heard Kyros talking over the vox and idly wondered when he'd switched over to the World Eaters' frequency. He dismissed it as probably done subconsciously. What he heard caused him to stop in sudden anxiety.

"Sergeant Tharr, Legionaire Gilgumann, we need to get out of the open now." His voice was a hissed whisper, "It is likely that the Legio Titans are involved. Think," he exclaimed, "They ceased firing before any other warnings went out, they would have issued warnings if they were using normal operational standards, they ceased fire and went completely silent. The blood of our brothers is on their hands as well."

Alaros' mind flashed back to the gore and smoke choked trenches near Choral City's primary gate. The Dies Irae had suddenly gone quiet and Alaros couldn't remember when it'd stopped. Only after that the warning came over the vox of impending biological attack. The gate holding back his molten hatred shook a little in his mind as hammer-blows of doubt came against it.

Then Kyros began to go on about the betrayal he felt was done to them by all of their Primarchs. Alaros was glad his helmet was on because he was grinning. Since when did World Eaters have feelings or emotions? Well beyond uncontrollable rage that bordered on psychopathic serial killer tendencies. To see one whispering and going on about treason in a sensible sentence was almost amusing. Even Alaros' own outburst when questioned about his loyalty hadn't been dramatic. To anyone not a Death Guard it appeared only that he raised his voice.

'Agreed,' said Alaros as he turned and pointed in the direction he knew the Titan would have to be, 'The Dies Irae lies that direction. I'm not familiar with Mechanicum protocols for bio-sealing or unsealing but I suspect it will be operational shortly. If it is, then Sergeant Kyros has it right. Standing here will only let them recalibrate their range-finders.'

Alaros turned the other direction towards the center of Choral City, 'If anyone yet lives than they will be within the city.'

Alaros was a heavy weapons specialist, not a leader of men. He would defer to Kyros to lead them, for now. He began to flitch vox channels to all known frequencies used by the ground forces in the city, checking each one.

'This is Legionnaire Alaros Gilgumann. Fourteenth Legion Death Guard,' he intoned, 'Are there any survivors?'
 

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Tiberius didn't know if he should be pleased that he had worked out Akkad's reasoning or repulsed by the fact that he was trying to deceive and goad them into following him. Even after all that had happened, such guile was a bitter taste to Tiberius. Although Akkad was right. What Horus and the rest of the betrayers had done was monumental. Such a violent shattering of the oaths that Tiberius had thought immutable and unbreakable was not an isolated moment of madness. This was part of some greater plan. *But whose plan?* was a thought that Tiberius briefly considered while he listened to Akkad speak. Was this just Horus's own machinations. Was he jealous and sought command over all Legionnes Astartes and was even now moving to eliminate his brothers and seize greater power for himself. Was there some rational failing they had all committed, some sin that demanded that they die? A darker thought still crept into Tiberius mind. Horus was still under authority. What if he was only acting on orders and this was a punishment of the four legions gathered, like Monarchia had been for the Word Bearers. He dismissed the last thought as impossible. The Master of Mankind could never have sanctioned this.

Tiberius stepped back as he registered Sebastian and Darius move further away, the need to whisper disappearing. Akkad was brazen about his intentions to avoid the fight they both knew was coming. Horus and the other traitors could not let their work go unfinished. They would come and they would kill them all. And that was the problem. It meant Akkad was right. If they could move now, they might yet survive such a reckoning. Tiberius bit his bottom lip in frustration. He wanted to dismiss such thoughts, but he could not. They had merit and there was temptation there. There was hope there, a resource Tiberius was sorely lacking. Yet there was something that sat ill with Tiberius. He struggled to find the words for several long moments before finally they came to him. "Survival for survival's sake is worthless."

Tiberius' intonation was halting, as if he were trying to recall a quote from a book he read a lifetime ago. But there was more to it than just the words. Tiberius summoned his strength and spoke it again, this time with conviction. "Survival for survival's sake is worthless." His mind committed to such a thought, Tiberius continued. "If we survive, it must be for a purpose. To regain strength and strike again, or to take word of what happened here to the wider Imperium. Do you imagine we can hide out in the wastes and eek an existence for ourselves? War calls us, and we are destined to die in its embrace. We cannot run from that Akkad." Tiberius paused, taking a moment to gather his thoughts before they flew apart. The only accompaniment to their discussion was the slow crackling of the dwindling fires and the cries of betrayal from dead men's throats carried on the wind.

"I don't know if I can kill a man I called brother, but I know this; I didn't know I could kill an ork until I did. I didn't know I could kill a Megarachnid until I did. Think of the Isstvanians. They were once members of the Imperium, men like we used to be. But I held no sorrow in my heart at their passing. I did not mourn them. They forsook the Emperor and the Imperium and who they once were is irrelevant in the face of that. The men I called brothers died in the virus bombings, their memory swept away by the firestorm. Whoever comes down for us from orbit is not my brother, and I will show them no mercy and expect none in return." Now both of them looked to the sky, imagining their erstwhile brothers coming for them with bolter and blade. Either now or in the time to come, this world would be the end of them all.

Tiberius' gaze settled back on Akkad as the ashen wind howled around them and the buildings groaned under their own weight. "Here our death's could mean something. If they do come, we can make them bleed. They sought to end us without their own blood being shed or their own strength being spent. We can deny them that. We buy those who might learn of this time to prepare a counter-attack and cost our betrayers more than they thought they'd have to pay. And when we die, we will have accomplished something." Tiberius found his voice steadily rising with zeal, and forced it back to it's neutral, regal tones. He was trying to be pragmatic, not be swept away by his emotions. "If we might accomplish something by survival then we must survive. But if we cannot, we must make our deaths meaningful. We could cut south, try to survive, but answer me truthfully..." Tiberius knew his petition was no guarantee that Akkad wouldn't try manipulation as he had earlier, but it also didn't hurt. "...what might we accomplish by surviving?"
 

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Emperor's children and Krateron:

"…By surviving?"

By this point, Sebastian and Darius have walked a fair distance down the street, but they are still close enough where a short jog would allow one to catch up to them.

All four of your vox units act up with static at first, and then you all hear the following:

"**is is Le***na** **ros Gilg***. Four**** Death Gu**. Are *** any surviv**?"

There is no telling how far away this is coming from. The signal is currently too weak to lock onto, but closer proximity may be able to correct that.

A few moments later you will hear the sound of aircraft, though the direction is hard to decipher. If you look to the sky, you will find it too shrouded by ruined building tops, smoke trails and storm clouds to see anything. Then, the faintest echoes of distant weapons fire starts up in the Choral City once again.


Tharr, Kyros, and Gilgumann:

Shortly after Gilgumann sends out his message over the various vox channels, the three of you will hear what sounds like a storm of aircraft coming in towards the city. The sky is filled with smoke and clouds, and hardly anything can be seen. Some of you may catch a glimpse or two of aircraft, and other than making out the shapes of what might be storm birds or thunder hawks you can gather no detail. You will not be able to see what legion or legions they belong to.

It does not take long before you hear weapons fire begin to echo through the city again, coming from the direction you caught the aircrafts heading. It is distant, very distant, but audible nonetheless.

While waiting to see if anyone replies to Gilgumann's message, the three of you can decide what you want to do, whether Tharr wishes to go on with his plan of splitting up, everyone heading in the general direction of battle together, or perhaps another idea.

If any of the other players to decide to respond to the message, I will make the decision of how that occurs and what, if anything, is received by your group.


Vultus and Kazimir:

Same as before, no rush just yet just moving everyone along since they were ready. However, Ramo, if you feel like posting, you are free to move Vultus forward through the city on his own, beginning his trek to…well, I suppose he doesn't much know still does he? He will still see the faint locator runes on his HUD of what are possible survivors, though his vox still seems to be useless. Here, is where you can also make the decision about the carrying the flag. If Kazimir comes into play, he will simply catch up to wherever Vultus has moved to and the update will remain the same for you two from there.

You will be able to hear a quiet hum of jet engines in the distance somewhere, but nothing more.
 

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'Survival,' Krateron began, after considering the Decurion's words, still listening to the howling winds, the rustling of ashes against his greaves and pauldrons, dimly aware that the other Emperor's Children had wandered off. 'Is never worthless. This,' He tapped his chest with two fingers. 'Us, alive, tarnishes their victory. It shames them, it-'

Krateron's vox crackled. There was a blurt of static, sharp, earsplitting, and then speech. It was garbled, unintelligible, save for one word - Death. But the death of what? Innocence, brotherhood, the Great Crusade? All had perished, this day, in this city of song. It almost made Krateron sad, knowing that his brothers, those he had stood besides, shoulder to shoulder, on a thousand worlds, would be coming, to cut his throat and empty his skull - Almost. It was also thrilling, a forbidden, treacherous thought. Space Marines, against Space Marines, was pure madness. It was the ultimate test. How many skulls, Krateron wondered, will I claim? Which of my brothers will claim mine?

'Survivors,' The Son of Horus grunted, drawing his bolter and ejecting a magazine. He slammed a fresh one home, all of this in less than three seconds, and crouched, listening. Above the howling storms, there was a keener, hollower whine - Engines. Stormbirds and Thunderhawks, Legionary landers, Krateron guessed.

'There's your strength in numbers, Tiberius,' He said, still listening. Gunfire, distant and half-heard, started up. 'And there's your death.'

He looked up, shaking his head.

'Now what?'
 

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Marcus was astonished to find that not only did Sergeant Kyros follow him but that Legionnaire Gilgumann as well. The daunting death guard marine stood there unmoving as Sergeant Kyros began to prattle on of the Primarchs and the suddenness of this 'betrayal'. Marcus bode his time and thought how does Kyros know so much of what just occurred. Was he not just a mere sergeant like Marcus himself? Yet he knows even the specifics of the titan legions actions. The legio Mortis served no master save the Warmaster Horus and the Fabricator General of Mars. This only deepened Marcus suspicions and a cold rage slowly began to well up within him once more.

Marcus set aside his sorrow and anger walked towards sergeant Kyros while legionnaire Gilgumann sounded his approval.

“You preach to me like a son of Guilliman Sergeant Kyros,” Marcus stated. His gaze locked firmly on the assault marine.

“But your words have not fallen on deaf ears,” Marcus said, “ I will accompany you as a brother World Eater and a legionnaire of the Emperor.”

Marcus began to traverse a portion of the rubble peering out into the ash choked sky, the distant din of battle echoed through the city once more. The killing once more has begun. He felt his chain-axe hungering ever so slightly for battle, the deep throaty thrum of its' chains echoing in his mind. It calmed him if at least for this moment.

“Well then sergeant Kyros and legionnaire Gilgumann shall we venture on and sate our redemption?” Marcus said as he indicated in the direction of the battle.
 

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"You preach to me like a son of Guilliman Sergeant Kyros," Marcus spoke, their gazes meeting. The distant sounds of battle could be heard, fighting was breaking out in the city as the sounds of engines could be heard streaking through the sky. Under the cover of all the ash and smog, the small group of three was unlikely to show up on any scans for the time being.

“Well then sergeant Kyros and legionnaire Gilgumann shall we venture on and sate our redemption?” Marcus said as he indicated in the direction of the battle. To Kyros though the mocking tone of his brother World Eater grated on him and was the last straw, finally the rage that was pent up and had to this point manifest itself in the prose of long winded sentiment, his own way of trying to understand what was happening, to justify it, as far fetched as his theories had been, he wanted an answer just as they all did. The true World Eater in him came out, there was a reason his helmet's vox grill had been marked with the jaws of the World Eaters after all.

The power axe leapt into Kyros' right hand as he stalked forward towards Marcus, his body language was clearly hostile, but he owed this fellow World Eater a simple courtesy. "I am a Sergeant just as you are Tharr!" The blood of Angron flowed in his veins, while his facial features could lead one at a passing glance to think him of the IIIrd Legion, his hot temper would confuse no one. "Insult me again at your peril Sergeant Marcus Tharr of the 10th Company" The blue and *********** field washed over his power axe as it crackled with energy.

The battle could be heard more definitively in the distance now as whatever fighting there was picked up in intensity, but Kyros' attention was firmly on Marcus now, the tension was thick in the air when Kyros just as suddenly seemed to relax his posture, "You are right though, we should head to the city and see if there are any survivors left and perhaps we can exact some vengeance along the way." Kyros, though he agreed with Marcus, was not going to move first, he waited for the Tactical Squad Sergeant to lead them, in large part because he did not want to have his back to this Marcus Tharr at this moment.

Alaros was an Astartes he really couldn't get a read on, the legionaire of the Death Guard certainly lived up to the stoic and grim nature Kyros had heard of them thus far. The olive green clad legionaire stood in silence to this point, his thoughts unknowable to Kyros. The fact that he was a Death Guard irked him, especially given his statements on Mortation not being capable of being involved in the virus bombing. To Kyros it was an all or nothing proposition, it had to be. Angron would not have abandoned him in such a way were it not for the treason of all, it couldn't just be his Lord Angron and the World Eaters that had succumb to this madness...Could it? He pushed any such thought from his mind, and as much as he would rather not keep the company of the silent and brooding Alaros, it was better to have the heavy weapons specialists' plasma cannon on their side should the need arise. What madness if this, a Brother World Eater of the 10th and a Legionaire of the Death Guard are my only allies on this forsaken heap. "We should head towards the fighting, you wanted to reconoitre Sergeant Tharr, so lead the way," there was more than a hint of sarcasm and hostility to his tone as he gestured with his plasma pistol wielding hand for Marcus to take point.
 

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For all Sebastian cared the wretched Son of Horus could rot in a cave somewhere outside the city, but he had no desire to leave behind his Brother Decurion. He slowed his pace slightly, not wanting to get too far until he knew for sure what Tiberius's intentions were. He was aware of Darius catching up to him which brought him no small amount of relief. Had Tiberius chosen to countermand his order then things here could have broken down to severe unpleasantness very swiftly.

A burst of static brought him to a halt and he held his hand up to the side of his helm, tilting his head to the side as if either action would improve either the functionality of his long range vox or his ability to draw meaning from garbled half words and static. He banged the side of his helmet in frustration but this didn't help anything either.

"Did you get any of that?" he asked Darius.

Before the Legionary could respond Sebastian's attention was drawn to the skies. Aircraft. Someone was making planetfall. He cursed quietly. He didn't know why but he had thought they would have more time. Now he could see that was foolish. There was little chance that this arrival meant anything good for the survivors and the sounds of distant weapons fire confirmed this. The only positive he could draw was that if there was battle then there were other survivors. He turned and looked back down the shattered street to where Tiberius was still talking to the weak willed savage and opened a private vox channel.

"You hear that Tiberius? It is now or never."
 

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Akkad's words were cut short by a burst of broken chatter screeching through the vox. *Death Gu-* Tiberius assumed that was supposed to be Death Guard if the static hadn't have butchered it. So there were other survivors from the Death Guard at least. And, from the other words he could make out of the interference, they were looking for them. Tiberius's heart briefly fluttered with joy before it sank with the sound of an aircraft and gun-fire from the city once more. Perhaps it was a trap. If the traitors in orbit weren't above unleashing the Life Eater on them, they could just as well capitalize on their need for others to survive. It was an ingenious idea really. You broadcast a distress call, some hopeful sod answers and then you hunt them down. Akkad grunted "Survivors" like it was a curse. "Or our brothers in masquerade." Tiberius spoke softly, still hoping that this was somehow some collosal misunderstanding.

Akkad spoke of Tiberius's death having come. It hadn't, not yet anyway. There was a reckoning to come for both sides, and Tiberius would see vengeance before he would let death claim him. Sebastian told him it was now or never that he had to move. Tiberius's lips twisted into a snarl. Whatever had happened today, they were still the Emperor's Children. They were still the exemplars of how Astartes should be and he would not have that reputation dashed by rash action made on impulse. "Sebastian, Darius, maintain radio silence. Do not talk to anyone until you have visual conformation of their allegiance. We don't know that our vox is safe." Akkad asked him what would happen now, although Tiberius knew that it was not because he was looking for orders. It was because he wanted to know if they were parting ways here.

Tiberius screwed his eyes shut. He needed to collect his thoughts. The dust, flames and atmospheric disturbances were playing hell with the vox, but Tiberius suspected that meant that the fleet in orbit could not reach or track them either. Likely, all the fire and heat bleeding from their surroundings would mask them from auspex too. Probably the reason hundreds of drop pod weren't hammering down on them at this very instant. They didn't know how many survived. "You are right Akkad..." Tiberius said opening his eyes again. "...mere survival does shame them. It proves the Warmaster's imperfection. Were that enough I would join you. But..." Tiberius's eyes flittered over the empty pieces of armour that lay scattered. "...blood cries out for blood. You shame your brothers your way, I will show my earstwhile brothers what perfection truely means." Tiberius unclipped two bolter magazines and handed them to Akkad. "If you survive, remember us well. Any information you find on you journey would be appreciated."

Tiberius paused. He almost said good luck but belief in such superstition was foolish. Skill alone would determine if any of them survived. What was the phrase the Sons of Horus had? "Kill for the living." Tiberius said at last before leaving Akkad to either follow, which he doubted, or to make his own way. He got a couple of metres away before he turned back and yelled "If you see him, leave Eidolon. That particular bastard's head it mine!" Now Tiberius' attention turned to his next action. He still spoke his commands out loud, hoping against hope that Akkad might hear them and know where to find them if he wanted. "Sebastian, Darius, have you thought what we will do if we find Captain Tavitz? Then we will just have four people for them to kill instead of three. We need a defence. That is more important than any one man, even Captain Tarvitz. If we have no defence we will be easy pickings for our brothers and I will not allow that. I am returning to the Palace to co-ordinate such a defence. Meet me there when you have either reasonable doubt of Tarvitz' survival or him in hand. Then we will show our brothers and cousins what it truely means to be perfect!" Tiberius had another reason for going back. For all he knew, he and Sebastian were the surviving ranking officers. Despite Akkad leaving them, he was right in a sense. At this moment, survival was imperative. If they survived they could strike back and Tiberius was determined to make sure that as many bolters and blades could strike back as possible...
 

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He grunted as sounded off his message on the last known vox frequency used by ground forces -- he'd even gone to the lengths of using tertiary channels just to make sure. Everything came back with the same bland growl of white noise. There was little hope that anyone even received the message much less could interpret it. Chances are he wasn't the first one to try and use the vox network (and probably not the first try it on all major channels). He deduced that since he hadn't heard anything than nobody else probably heard him. The only other alternative was that, Emperor forbid, everyone else was dead but him and the two World Eaters. He had never been one for humor or jests but he was certain some cocky Emperor's Children could find a joke in there somewhere.

"You preach to me like a son of Guilliman Sergeant Kyros," mocked Marcus. Alaros rose an eyebrow behind his helmet. He wasn't well-educated in the intricacies of World Eater politics, but he surmised that was somehow an insult of some kind. He shook his head and heard a faint, distant rumbling from above.

He turned towards the sound and half expected to see drop-pods descending from the sky in attack formation. The debris left in the wake of the firestorm was playing havoc on everything, even his helmet's sensors as it couldn't lock and identify the craft exactly. He kept getting conflicting registrations of both Stormbird and Thunderhawk configuration. Nor could he make out their allegiance. A relief force perhaps?

"I am a Sergeant just as you are Tharr!" screamed a voice behind Alaros.

The Death Guard turned around to see Kyros stalking towards Marcus, his power axe swathed in blue-white energy.

Already trying to kill one another, thought Alaros. Yes, there indeed was a joke in all of this. He half expected Sergeant Kyros to cut down Marcus for just a moment before the World Eater relaxed. He watched them both as those precious moments ticked by between fratricide was heaped upon fratricide. He'd heard rumors, all the Legions had, of what Angron had made his sons do. The ruthlessly bloodletting and borderline murder that took place in the gladiatorial arenas of their ships. Others had whispered of fell devices screwed into their skulls. Alaros hadn't paid any of it much attention until now. His curiosity was peaked by this outburst. He'd fought alongside Angron's Butchers in the past but never got close enough to see how they worked together.

He heard it, very distant and almost missed if one wasn't paying attention. It could have easily been played down as a forceful gust of wind a byproduct of the firestorm as massive wind-storms no doubt gripped whole sections of the world. After two centuries of war though he couldn't have mistaken it. Bolter fire. A fraction of a second later it was confirmation as countless more could be heard.

Battle? Yes, it was the sounds of battle coming from the direction he'd seen the aircraft descend. He pulled up his tactical display, however outdated it now was given the changed landscape and tried to surmise where the fighting as at. It was in the city for sure but it appeared to be right where the World Eaters were supposed to have pacified the populace.

He heard the hammering of his hearts at what this could be mean. Perhaps it was a rescue party? But then who were they fighting? Horus would never have abandoned his overly vaunted sons to die like this. Angron definitely would have done it but given Marcus and Kyros' comments and animosity they clearly weren't going to embrace their gene-sire after this. But then who had landed and who was killing who?

Too many damned questions!

'I agree,' he intoned again, stoically bland, 'We should avoid any direct routes to this engagement.'

Finally he casually checked the weight on his plasma cannon and moved behind Sergeant Kyros.

'I will assume the rearguard. By your direction Sergeant Tharr.'
 

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Tiberius spoke, each word slow, pained. The betrayal had damaged him, something inside was different, frantic, rabid. Krateron had reacted differently - Coolly and calculatedly, accepting the change of events, though inside he knew, that he too, was troubled. When the Decurion handed him a pair of magazines, both curved like sickle blades, Krateron cursed. He was thankful - A reckoning was coming, and Krateron did not want to be caught without ammunition - But he also wanted to smash the Decurion's teeth. Now, you damnable eunuch, I'm indebted to you.

The Emperor's Child moved away, stumbling across the ruined road, treading carefully around scoured armour and blackened bones. Krateron stood there, alone, watching. The Choral City was dead, a rotting, burning corpse, and soon Akkad Krateron, Son of Horus, would join it. That thought, the Legionary decided, was not a good one. Now, he had a decision. The Emperor's Children would search for their precious Captain - Undoubtedly dead - Whilst their brothers above, for they were, despite Tiberius' objections, brothers, came down and slaughtered the shocked, heartbroken remnants of the spearhead. 'Unlikely,' Krateron grunted, more passionately than intended.

'What to do, what to do,' He muttered, listening to the distant thunderclaps and booms - Gunfire, explosions. 'Follow you,' He said, jutting his head towards the Emperor's Children. 'And I die. Stay here, or go elsewhere, and I die. Wonderful.'

He ran towards the Emperor's Children. He cursed himself, a thousand times over, for doing so. He was right - Retreat, out of the City, was the best option. Doing so alone, on a dying world, was not. He barged past Darius and the other Decurion, making sure to put more of his shoulderplate into the Decurion's chest than was needed, and grabbed Tiberius by the wrist.

'You are a bastard,' He grunted. 'But, Tiberius, you are the only bastard available. I will come with you - For now,' He nodded his helmet. 'Though, if you think that I'm following you, you are wrong. You just so happen to be headed in the same direction as I,' He waved his bolter along the road. 'Lead the way, cousin.'
 

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Sebastian let out a small sigh of relief as he saw the third member of their group heading towards them. It was good to know that the Son of Horus's cowardice was not infectious. He waited for Tiberius to draw close before falling back into step.

"I am glad you see sense." he said.

When Tiberius responded Sebastian stopped again and allowed his fellow Decurion to lay out his own plan. Under his helm, Sebastian's handsome features were contorted in surprise and a measure of disbelief but he allowed Tiberius to finish.

"My friend you are over thinking this. When we find Captain Tarvitz he will tell us what to do. He is our Commanding Officer. Should we find he has not survived then, and only then should we try to rejoin the rest of the Legion. You know we left the 13th Company at the Palace. If we survived out here in some civilian bunker, they will have survived there. I mean, Lucius is leading them. You know as well as I do that man will live forever..."

He was cut off by the sound of approaching footsteps behind him and as he turned he was knocked back half a step by the shoulder of the wretch Son of Horus. Sebastian bristled within his armour and reached back for the handle of his blade, mag-locked in the thin space between the back of his armour and his power pack. He should cut the filth down where he stood, for he did not even deserve the honour of duelling for his pathetic life. Under normal circumstances he would. But these were not normal circumstances and if the worm were to die he should at least do so making himself useful.

"Lead the way cousin." he had said in the rough drawl the Cthonian seemed to use in place of proper speech.

Before he could take another step Sebastian had grabbed him by the pauldron and spun him around.

"It does not matter if you are a coward scum Son of Horus or one of the Emperor's favoured Children, we are Legiones Astartes and I am your superior officer. Disrespect me like that again and I shall cleave your vile head from your shoulders. Is that clear Legionary?" Sebastian spat, his steely gaze unwavering as he looked Akkad in the eye, his words dripping with venom.
 

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"Why Lupercal?" Decius said as he stared up at the sky. He had no doubt who had ordered the attack, only two beings controlled weapons of that power and one of them was the master of mankind back on Terra. He looked back down at the wreckage of the Sirenhold around him. Decius felt only pain at the betrayal by those that he had called brothers, those who he had followed int battle and fought and bled for. The ad hoc choosing of squads made sense now rather than the companies that normally would have been chosen to spearhead the assault.

Decius slammed his standard into the rubble as he felt anger overtake him he wanted nothing more now then to kill as many of the curs that had betrayed him and all of his brothers that had been sent down to die. His hud blinked as it detected faint signatures, showing that at least some of his brothers had survived out there. Decius hoped he would find more of his legion, though he felt the Death Guard and Emperors Children were most likely the survivors as they had been in the trenches which would have had bunkers to protect and the palace which would also have bunkers. Maybe some of his brothers would survive from his legion, but he doubted many World Eaters had survived as they had been farthest from any protection from the deadly weapons unleashed.

His hud showed that they were to the northwest and with that he turned and started to pick his way through the rubble as he began his way North.
 

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Sebastian spluttered empty words that made Tiberius cringe. It was true enough that Tarvitz was their commanding officer and it was true that if they found him that both Sebastian and himself would differ to Captain Tarvitz authority. But his fellow Decurion made it sound like they were a flock of sheep, unable to make their own decisions or take their own initiative when the situation demanded it. "There is no such thing as an over-thought battle plan. All we know for sure is what we can see. We don't know that Captain Lucius is alive, we don't know if any of our fellow Decurions survived. For all we know, we may be the only ranking officers of the Third Legion left..." *And Terra knows if there as many unimaginative soldiers as yourself who wander around like lost lambs without a superior, then we will need to guide them.* Was a thought Tiberius had, but he left it unsaid. It would not help to antagonize Sebastian when he clearly felt that he and he alone was right. "...You know the way of our Legion. They will strike hard and fast and seek to undo us before we can ready a defense. We must be ready for them. That is why I must go and aid with whatever defense we can muster. That is why you must spend no longer than absolutely necessary looking for Captain Tarvitz." Tiberius was sure that Sebastian would say more to him, seek to embroil him in a debate about loyalty and honor, as if those concepts meant anything anymore.

If Sebastian was about to say anything in response to Tiberius, he didn't get the opportunity. Akkad shouldered him out of the way and grabbed Tiberius' wrist.
"You're a bastard." Tiberius chuckled at that. He could take being a bastard if it meant that Akkad would accompany them. Akkad maintained that he was not following them and, therefore, was not under their authority. Tiberius didn't mind. Akkad was uncouth, viscous, uncompromising and intelligent. Just the sort of man you needed on your side in a world gone made.
"Whatever circumstance keeps you with us, I'll be glad for it." Tiberius said, grasping Akkad's wrist with his free hand in a gesture of camaraderie. Tiberius wouldn't have thought he'd be so glad to have a Son of Horus at his side. Of course, he'd rather his own men. Men he knew and trusted and could depend on. But Tiberius was in no mood to complain. Between the mute Darius and Sebastian, the lost lamb, Tiberius was glad there was another soul who possessed an independent thought.

However, it became immediately apparent that Sebastian did not appreciate Akkad's presence. Tiberius sighed, exasperated. It was ironic that Sebastian decried Akkad and the rest of his legion for being brutes and thugs, totally missing the fact that he was little better with his idle threats and ham-handed assessments. He had misjudged Akkad as Tiberius almost had. The difference was that Tiberius actually let evidence dictate his opinion rather than blind emotions. "Would you Sebastian? You would kill a cousin, loyal to the Emperor?..." Tiberius stepped beside Akkad, staring down his misguided equal. The hypocrisy of what he was threatening astounded Tiberius "...Tell me, what do we accuse our erstwhile brothers of? Is it not the same sin you just threatened as if it were reasonable? As if his life were given into your hands to do with as you please?..." Tiberius' rarely shouted, and he wasn't really shouting now. He was louder to be sure but it wasn't a roar. But his voice did become colder, darker, more imposing. "You are not his superior officer and you are not mine, and the authority is not given to you so censure anyone here, save Darius. If you find us at fault, report us to those who actually have the authority to act. I suggest if you can't confirm Captain Tarvitz whereabouts within the hour, you head back and help mount the defensive. We've wasted enough time here." Tiberius hoped that would be the end of this debacle. They didn't need to be fighting each other when there was a common enemy for them to fight....
 

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Krateron felt Tiberius squeeze his wrist, bundles of false-muscle tightening in his own arm, and smiled. Not all of the Emperor's Children were prancing peacocks, so it seemed. Just most, perhaps ninety-percent, Krateron decided, his smile broadening into something hungrier, a feral show of teeth. He heard the other Decurion before he felt him, an acute whine of servors, and then he was being spun, a purple gauntlet locked onto his shoulder pauldron. He let himself be moved, loosening his muscles, and came face-to-face with the other Decurion's helm. A threat, one that promised beheading, spilled forth from the Marine's grille, poisonous and passionate.

Krateron made a rude noise.

Before he could speak, however, Tiberius was at his side - Now that was interesting. Krateron found himself liking this Decurion even more, it took a strong man, an intelligent man, to see right over wrong, more-so when the wrong was dressed up like a gilded whore. Sebastian, as Tiberius named him, was an insurmountable prig. Krateron liked insurmountable prigs, they died harder, believing themselves the superior foe, fighting until their last. But I don't like you, cousin, he thought, wrapping a finger around his bolter's trigger.

'I'm going to pretend,' Krateron grunted, looking up at Sebastian. He was shorter, though broader, his armour bloodier, but nonetheless gaudy. 'That I did not hear that, cousin,' He stepped closer, mag-locking his bolter, and shrugged his way out of the Decurion's grasp. 'You are a fool, Sebastian, and I should cut your tongue out, to make an example,' He laughed, a sound that was rendered cruel and inhuman by his external vox. 'But it just so happens, I like your brother. So this time - And this time only - You didn't say anything. You didn't open that insolent little mouth of yours, and I'm not going to stick your head up Darius' arse,' He shook his head. 'I am of the Sixteenth, til the day I die, Emperor's Child. Even if rank meant a thing, here, today, I would sooner eat my gauntlet than obey you. You would do well to remember that.'

He turned, walked a few feet, and then stopped. Beneath his faceplate, he found himself grinning.

'Legionary,' He called, to the one named Darius. 'A suggestion, follow us. You follow a sheep in lion's clothing. Come, Darius.'
 

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Darius's opinion of the his cousin from the XVI legion was starting to change. His cocky attitude was making him grin beneath his helmet, so much that he had to change vox channel to prevent his decurions from hearing a chuckle. He had no ammunition for his bolter so going with them would be a smart idea. He pondered over the idea for a few seconds... his mind going over the results of his decision. He looked over at the two astartes squaring up to each other. How can they do this at a time like this?. Thousands of our brothers were murdered in this betrayal and they are fighting like a pair of children... a pair of children fighting over the same toy.

"A suggestion, follow us. You follow a sheep in lion's clothing. Come, Darius."

He cringed at the way his cousin spoke to officers, but he knew that they would be more effective in numbers so Darius decided that he would go with the Decurion and the son of horus, what was his name?, Krateron?, probably some brutish cthonian name like that. He had never got a grasp of their language fully and the pronunciation of their words was often his downfall. "krateron, got any ammunition?" Darius smiled. "I dont think i will get near one of the traitors with this" he said while looking down at the combat blade on the end of his bolter.
 

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Krateron's brutish response drew a wry grin to Sebastian's lips. All his talk of chances, as if he were doing the Decurion a favour. He could pretend all he liked and cower behind his pretence like a child cowering behind their parents leg. The only life he was saving was his own. The brutish combat style of the Cthonian's may work upon the masses, but Sebastian Aurellian was not a line Legionary. He was an officer of the Emperor's Children and a swordsman of repute. No savage would bring him low, especially not this one. He made to respond when Tiberius stepped in. This surprised him and Sebastian visibly recoiled. He listened to his words and duly considered them before responding.

"Would you not? Would you allow yourself to be disrespected so? Have you cast aside your pride? Or does the chain of command truly mean nothing to you anymore? No matter the situation it has always been the way of the 3rd. It is essential to the attainment of perfection upon the battlefield. Or have you abandoned that too?" He shook his head in quiet disappointment that only deepened as Darius too went to follow Tiberius and Krateron. He would not dispute it. The situation was a great enough mess already.

"So that is how it will be is it?" He said, laughing a cold humourless laugh. "Very well. The three of you run back to the palace. I shall head towards battle." Sebastian turned and started to walk away towards the distant sounds of gunfire but stopped and looked back. "It appears I have been over estimating you this whole time Decurion Loculus. It is just a shame it took the end of life as we know it for me to realise."

With that he checked the ammo count on his bolter and broke into a run. It seemed he would have the find the Captain alone.
 
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