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Entropy Fetishist
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+++

THE ONE-EYED KING

Part the First


“Let them alone; they are blind leaders of the blind. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall in a pit.”
- Kristos, a false messiah of Ancient Terra


+++​

Faint flashes and flickers strobed across the night sky. The study's few lumens nearly outshone them, so Locenze leaned over and caressed the dimmer strip on the wall. The sparse illumination died further, allowing a better appreciation of the phenomenon above.

Knowing little and caring nothing of the observers on the planet Kyvol below, the warships—thousands of kilometers apart and several times that distance from Kyvol itself—continued their ferocious combat unabated.

“Such incomprehensible power,” Abbot Mandose murmured. He shook his head, setting fleshy wattles oscillating like pendulums. “Such divine wrath.”

Castigator Locenze, very much the physical opposite of the bloated, diminutive abbot, glanced down.

“And this Chaos cruiser is entirely impotent?” he asked dryly.

“It might as well be, when faced by two vessels of the Adeptus Astartes,” chided Mandose, putting inordinate emphasis on the number. Never mind, thought Locenze, that the two ships were mere frigates. Never mind that the abbot had flinched away when Locenze had named the Archenemy.

“Of course, old friend,” said Locenze.

They lapsed into silence, continuing to watch the faint flashes. Eventually, Mandose began to fidget, shifting on his six legs and picking at his suppurating sores—a reliable sign that something preyed on his mind.

“Abbot?”

“Ah, nothing, dear Locenze,” said Mandose. “I merely think...should we not turn our minds to prayer? We ought to be leading our brethren in devotions at a time like this, not simply sharing thoughts.”

“A wise pronouncement,” averred Locenze. “Though I doubt that our small abbey could especially tip the Emperor's hand, He does protect His faithful first. Gather your flock, then, and I shall lead my penitents in psalms of their own.”

He turned and stooped slightly to fit his lean, stalk-like body through the study's doorway. As he did so, though, he paused.

“What is that noise?” he asked, cocking his ears.

“What-” began the abbot, before breaking off and listening too. “Ah, I believe that I hear it too. An engine?”

Locenze strode back to the bank of windows and peered out. He couldn't imagine what would bring a messenger truck from the capital at a time like this.

It wasn't a messenger. A point of red light had appeared in the sky, accompanied, as it grew, by an increasing rumble.

“Whatever is that?” squeaked Mandose.

“A meteor, perhaps?” said Locenze. “Or maybe a scrap of wreckage from above, or an escape pod, or—Emperor forbid—a landing craft? I see no contrail, though. That would imply...that it's coming right toward us.”

Mandose's whimper was almost drowned out by the rising roar. The red dot had grown larger than any star visible in the sky. The windowpanes began to vibrate, and the noise of their oscillations quickly graduated from a hum to a rattle.

“I suggest that now,” said Locenze, “good abbot, would be a good time for prayer.”

Mandose began to backpedal slowly, one of his insectoid limbs knocking over a padded footstool—one of several that it was an absurd affection of the abbot's to keep. The study was now cast in a strong red glare, and crockery and pictures were jostling to leap from their shelves and hooks.

Locenze turned back to the incoming object, certain that, at this point, no action of his could affect his chances of survival.

The fireball was now bigger than Kyvol's smaller moon, and rapidly approaching the size of the larger. Man-made contours could be detected in its midst, as well as erratic, flaring jets beneath it and on its left side. A flawed pane of glass shattered and Locenze instinctively shielded his eyes-

As the object flew past less than a kilometer overhead.

Locenze sighed and lowered his hands. Then the sonic boom hit, blasting the rest of the windows in and sending uncountable shards of glass sweeping toward him. Pain consumed his world as the fireball's distant impact echoed through the valley.

+​

Brother Pietr glanced at the Pilgrim. The hoary old veteran was chewing a stick of kahv as he drove, stinking up the interior of the half-track unbearably. That his military expertise might come in handy on this expedition was certain—but why did Pietr have to be the one to share a vehicle with him?

He glanced back at the trail of vehicles following them. A dozen of the abbey's fittest and most able monks had been selected for the search party, and their vehicles could be seen winding up the rugged road behind his and the Pilgrim's.

It could only be a few kilometers more, at most. Then he would be free of the stink. The vessel—landing craft or escape pod, whatever it had been—had crashed down in these crags after barely managing to check its descent.

This morning the group had set out, homing in on the beacon-like plume of smoke that had been rising into the air. As they had spent hours struggling their way through the rough, sheer terrain, though, it had thinned and faded. Now they could only approximate where it had been.

The half-track slewed its way onto a flatter stretch and Pietr looked up the valley. Their position in relation to a spur of rock had shifted enough that a new stretch was visible—and in it, a jagged black scar on the mountainside.

“That'll be it,” grunted the Pilgrim. “The remains should have been caught on that ledge up there.”

“If the Emperor willed it,” said Pietr abstractly. Just who the vessel had contained was still in doubt, so he didn't know whether or not to be glad of the Pilgrim's pronouncement just yet. If it held some unspeakable evil...well, better had it been traveling too fast and skipped off the ledge to continue its tumbling descent.

It took the party a good hour longer to reach the ledge, in spite of its relative nearness. More than one vehicle almost slipped and tumbled down the mountainside but for the grace of the God-Emperor. At last they arrived, though, and Pietr saw the wreckage itself.

The scarred rear half of a landing craft could easily be made out. Its front half deteriorated into tight knots of tangled metal scrap. One of the rear engines was still smoldering, its casings having been broken open. The whole vessel was blackened by its atmospheric entry and the fires that had eaten at it after it crashed. The few remaining marks of ornamentation were melted beyond recognition. Pietr thought that he could make out a skull-and-feather motif, but could easily have been mistaken.

“All right, lads, dismount and spread out!” barked the Pilgrim. “Search for signs of survivors, or bodies, or anything interesting. Aillas, Reith, you two are assigned to finding a way into that heap. Get the cutting torch!”

Peitr clambered out of the half-track and made his way to the ruined end of the vessel. Heat still radiated from the core of the wreckage, preventing him from getting too close. That anything could survive such heat he doubted—especially not for a dozen long hours.

Further down the hull, Aillas tried the main hatch. To the surprise of all, it swung open with a gust of hot air. Aillas peered into the dark interior and then drew back with a shout.

Pietr and the Pilgrim beat most of the rest of the search party to him. A massive, armored body lay slumped just inside the threshold—well, half of one. The top half of a man who, if complete, would have towered more than half a meter over anyone present was sprawled within, just out of reach of the exit. He was clad in black, unadorned power which served to bulk his frame out massively. There was no sign of his bottom half. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and his skin had cracked and split to reveal the roasted muscles beneath. Most of his hair had been seared off by whatever awful heats had raged inside the vessel.

“An Astartes,” breathed the Pilgrim.

Pietr's gut churned. Here was one of the fabled Angels of Death, the Space Marines, divine agents of the Emperor—dead. Mortal, even after being raised closer to godhood than any mere man alive. He turned away, fighting the urge to retch.

“Don't just stand gawking around, people,” said the Pilgrim. “Aillas, Reith, your task hasn't changed. Get in there and look for any more of them. The rest of you, help me get this fallen warrior onto a trackbed.”

The body, even halved, was enormously heavy. It took all ten of them to merely drag it—by looping ropes around it and hauling, and by hefting its weighty arms and pushing its torso—to the nearest half-track. Even so, it left a rut in the dirt as it slid along.

Then came the hard part; lifting the sacred warrior into the trackbed. It took them a good half dozen attempts. Eventually, though, they managed to lift in synchronization and haul him onto the bed.

As they strapped the body down. Aillas and Reith exited the craft, sweating profusely and covered in soot. They reported that they'd found no more Astartes, living or dead. Certain areas had been inaccessible due to damage and heat, but survivors were even more doubtful in those places.

Sweating from the exertion, Pietr wandered away. Another divot in the ground caught his eye. At first it seemed like a natural part of the flattish ledge, but having seen the impression left by one Astartes, he realized that this could well have been a second. It didn't start immediately beside the vessel, but only further out, which indicated that—if this was really the track of another marine—he had staggered out, fallen, and dragged himself onwards.

This path was harder to follow. It passed over rock in places, which showed little sign of damage or scuffing, but he managed to keep along it all the same. It led him to the edge of the ledge and into a crannied recess, one of the steep creek beds which flowed only during the wetter months of the year.

His alertness was rewarded. In the recess was a second Astartes, lying face down.

This one was almost entirely whole. His armor, like the first, was black, but unlike his brother, he wore a helmet. His armor was badly mangled along one side, and Pietr saw an adamantine spar protruding from the damaged patch.

Peitr slid down to the body, breathless at his find. This one had survived the impact enough to drag himself away—could he possibly still be alive?

His answer came soon enough. At the noise of Peitr's descent, the marine stirred. He craned his head to look up, and for the first time, Peitr could appreciate how badly damaged his helm was. Its entire left side had been crumpled in by some unimaginable impact that had, with little difficulty, warped and compressed the adamantine. The right ocular visor was cracked but otherwise intact, while the left was lost in the damage.

“Guias,” croaked the Astartes. “Aster.”

“I...” said Peitr, choking, “I can't understand you.”

“Guias. Aster.” One of the marine's arms twitched. “Qua es meus frater?”

“I don't...I don't know!”

The marine's head slumped back to the ground. Peitr could hear how pained and shallow his breathing was.

He had to get the Pilgrim over here, right now.

+++​
 

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Entropy Fetishist
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Discussion Starter #3
:whistle:

Aha, yeah, that.

:suicide:
 

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Excellent intro, Mossy.

Hurry up and get Part the Second done :p

And I can't lie, for some reason the opening scene before the a-splosion I mentally read all in the voices of the Monty Python cast... hrm...
 

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Part the Second

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”
- Ancient Terran scrivener


+​

Machines chattered quietly, giving rhythmic, beeping reports. A quill scratched a steady sussurus, off-set by an irregular ticking sound. Layered on top of that were the Astartes warrior's heavy breaths and Chirurgeon Mikla's light footsteps.

She glanced at the Astartes again, hesitantly. To look at his massive body—stripped, painstakingly, of its armor, and now covered only by a thin sheet—seemed almost irreverent. The marine's raised contours were decidedly inhuman; or rather, posthuman. His musculature was immensely swollen, and his chest, on account of his fused ribcage, was square and blocky. Armor jacks embedded in his skin left irregular lumps in the sheet. Much of his left half was swathed in bandages. No cot was large enough to hold him, so the inhabitants of the abbey had lain him down on three mattresses on the floor.

Mikla checked the monitors and the automated read-out, to make sure that his condition wasn't wavering, and went back to cleaning her tools in the sink.

She had nearly panicked when he was first dragged in. How was she supposed to operate on so august and sacred a personage? Suddenly her mentor's horror stories about removing a visiting Cardinal's burst appendix hadn't seemed all that humorous. And not only was this sacred warrior her patient, but she had only the faintest idea about what modifications and augmentations had been made to his body.

So she had learned fast. Two hearts. Three lungs. Bones as hard as iron, but more brittle. Thick, tough, leathery muscles. Shriveled, sterile testes that were almost laughably small, when compared to his body's bulk.

At first, she had struggled, working with such massive proportions and resistant flesh—but eventually, she had noticed other things working in her favor. Blood flow clotted within seconds of new incisions—and what blood she actually saw was a brilliant vermillion, the result of an absurdly high hemoglobin count. In a normal human, she would have suspected advanced diabetes. On one hand, The marine's body metabolized and nullified every sedative and immunobooster she injected, but opposing that, he showed no actual need to be sedated. It was a morbid to consider, but she had worked on corpses that twitched and shuddered more often beneath her knife.

Her blind, fumbling emergency triage had sufficed. The marine had stabilized—more on account of his own modifications than her work, she suspected. Plumbing his inner workings had left her even more mystified than when she had started.

Mikla glanced down at him again, oh so cautiously, and froze. His unbandaged eye was open.

“Qua...” he croaked, his voice deep and hoarse. “Quisnam es-” before his voice broke and he began coughing. She recognized his words as High Gothic, which matched what the men who had brought him in had said.

“I do not know High Gothic, lord,” she said carefully. “Can you speak Low Gothic?”

“Where. Who are...you,” he repeated.

“A sub-Abbey of Kyvol Minor, lord. I am but a humble chirurgeon. Annis Mikla. That's my name, I mean.”

“Brothers?” he asked.

“You've mentioned them before,” she said. “Guias and Aster? I'm sorry, milord. We could only find one of them, and he was, well...”

The marine's gaze left her and traveled across the ceiling. His lips pursed slightly. Perhaps his eyes glimmered slightly. Nothing pronounced. The face's swollen features were an impassive, alien mask to her. All the same, she thought that she could sense a great anguish swimming beneath it.

“With—with all due respect, lord, who are you?”

“Can call me...Ogion. Angels of Vengeance. Brother Sergeant, 5th Company. How are my injuries?”

“Of course, Lord Ogion,” Mikla said, and was once more nearly overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. She was speaking with an Astartes. She did her best to assume a professional, businesslike mien. “You've survived injuries to kill a normal man three times over. An adamantium spike in your side punctured a lung and ruptured your small intestine, but I've inflated and stitched them, respectively. Nonetheless, it dealt massive muscular trauma to your abdominal wall.

You have various lacerations and contusions all along your right besides that, but your armor took the brunt of the crash. You've also undergone severe stress and blood loss, in spite of your blood's wondrous clotting capability, and have suffered a number of sprains and fractures around your body.

“The left half of your face...well, you'll never look pretty again, but I don't think your duties require that. I'm afraid, though, that you lost the eye. We don't have any augmentics on hand, but-”

His eyes had slipped shut. Perhaps he was still exhausted, and his mental conditioning let him slip into unconscious at a moment's notice. Perhaps he was weary of this litany of ill tidings, and simply wanted her to stop babbling. In any case, she fell respectfully silent.

After a moment's reflection, she slipped away. She would let him rest and inform Abbot Mandose that the Lord Ogion had woken, however briefly.

+​

The vox apparatus wheezed. Peitr murmured a prayer to its elderly, infrequently-used machine spirit and tried to dismiss his nervousness regarding the upcoming ordeal. He leaned forward, putting his mouth to the mic, and depressed the “transmit” stud.

+Honored Astartes frigates, please respond. This is sub-Abbey Castus of Kyvol, bearing important tidings. Please respond.+

He held his breath. The vox console continued to rattle unabated, but no reply was quickly forthcoming.

+Honored Astartes fri-+ he began again, but was cut off by a deep, clipped voice that was only slightly fuzzed by static.

++This is the Nova Frigate Ardent Blade of the Angels of Vengeance, responding to your hail. Disregarding your lack of vox-protocol and security measures, state your purpose in contacting this vessel.++

+I, ah, yes, honored lords,+ replied Peitr, swallowing down his redoubled trepidation. +We have recovered a fallen escape pod from your battle against the Archenemy's forces, and in it, the good Brother Sergeant Ogion.+

++Ogion?++ came the reply after a brief pause.

+Yes,+ replied Peitr nervously. He wasn't certain what the brevity of the reply meant, so he replied in more detail, painfully aware that he was babbling and unable to stop himself: +The Brother Sergeant and his unfortunately deceased comrades—the Brothers Guias and Aster, he told us—crash-landed a short distance from our abbey. He himself was badly injured. We thought it only fitting that you were informed, so that you could, well, return for them. Before you departed from the system.+

The vox was silent for a stretch of painfully long seconds, as though the speaker on the other end were conversing with a superior officer.

++Very well,++ came the cold reply. ++We will be descending to the planet as soon as we are able. Stand by for further instruction.++

The line went dead, except for the omnipresent static which hissed in fitful waves. Peitr sat back, exhaling. That had been remarkably painless, all things considered.

+​

“Lord Ogion,” breathed Mikla, flustered, “you really must return to your rest. You simply cannot be up and about so soon after-”

“I am an Astartes,” said Ogion, shuffling along the corridor and occasionally resting his hand against the wall for support. He was clad in the garment that had been hastily stitched for him from three sets of robes, and slightly hunched so as not to bump his head on ceiling. “I am perfectly capable of understanding my limitations; far better, in fact, than you are.”

“Nonetheless, lord, you have been through a-”

“And this too: do not call me 'lord.' I am not one of your petty priestlings with illusions of grandeur. You may address me as 'sergeant,' 'Ogion,' or both combined.”

Mikla moaned in overwhelmed exasperation.

The rounded a corner and Ogion almost collided with Abbot Mandose, who was scuttling toward the infirmary as fast as could be considered dignified. Peitr followed in his wake.

“Ah,” croaked Mandose, looking up at the space marine's full, imposing height. “I see that our honored guest is already up and moving about. Far earlier, let it be said, than I expected.”

“He insists that he is capable, Lord Abbot,” Mikla replied. The title burned on her tongue after Ogion's most recent words. “In spite of my...reservations, I suppose that we must allow him freedom of the abbey.”

“But of course! I was coming to inform you—both of you, I suppose—of the good news that Brother Peitr has just imparted to me. Lord Ogion-”

“Sergeant, please,” the Astartes replied. Mikla was relieved that he spoke with slightly more tact—brusqueness aside—than before.

“Of course, sergeant,” said Mandose, clearing his throat. “Whatever you desire. As I was saying, though, we have made contact with you chapter's vessel the Ardent Blade, above us. They have been informed as to your presence, and shall be coming, soon, to retrieve you!”

Mikla's heart soared to hear those words—but Ogion's response was the opposite of what she expected (insofar as she knew what to expect of him). He flinched and drew back, slumping against the wall as if his wounds had reopened. She rushed forward to make sure that he was all right, but he waved her away.

“No,” he murmured hollowly. “Not now, no.”

“Lor—Sergeant Ogion,” said the bewildered Mandose, “whatever is the problem? I would grant this to be news for celebration, not mourning!”

Ogion snarled and jerked his head, meeting the Abbot's gaze. Mandose skittered back a step from this sudden, violent-seeming intent.

“My escape pod was cast from the Ardent Blade,” growled Ogion. “I saw it destroyed behind me as we fell toward Kyvol. You spoke to no such vessel.”

A stunned silence followed. Mikla's eyes and mouth gradually crept open as she began to understand the implications of such a statement. She, to sagged in horror.

“Then...who could it have been?” asked Peitr, confused.

“Had its sister ship the Plangent defeated the enemy” said Ogion, “there would be no such subterfuge. Who, then, can be responsible? Only Chaos. The Great Deceiver. Before now, they had no reason to heed this backwater planet. You have just given them a very compelling one.”

+++​
 

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Entropy Fetishist
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+++

Part the Third

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.”
- Ancient Terran Kristian disciple


+​

“Let your abbot cower in his chapel. I would see your abbey's defenses, and what we can do for them before the Enemy are upon us.” So saying, Ogion limped from the abbey proper into the yard outside.

Peitr followed, vaguely affronted by the sergeant's near-blasphemy, but more impressed by the fact that an Astartes had charged him with being his personal guide.

At Ogion's instruction, Pietr led him to the armory. While it was the largest collection of weapons Pietr had ever seen, the Astartes was disdainful of it. But then, he seemed disdainful of everything in the abbey, so nothing changed there. To Pietr, the assembled laspistols, lascarbines, and autoguns represented a chilling, deadly display. Ogion, though, sneered at their precipitous lack of spare ammunition. He seemed pleased, though, to find the crate of high explosive det-plastek in the back of the room.

The Astartes selected a laspistol for himself, almost idly snapping off the trigger guard so that his finger could fit on the trigger. It looked like a toy in his massive grip.

They crossed the room to examine what passed for the collection of melee weapons: a stack of electro-batons that tutors used for punishments on low settings, a collection of knifes halfway between bayonets and kitchen utensils, and a few workmens' chaintools. Ogion almost dismissed them all when he paused and picked up a weapon that hung slightly aside—the symbol of the castigator's office, a sacred power whip. Pietr hesitantly explained that to Ogion, who grunted and continued to coil it as his waist.

From there, Ogion led him outside, and slowly crossed the courtyard. Along the way Pietr babbled about the functions of the three buildings that made up the interior of the abbey. First there was the abbey proper: the dining, storage, sleeping, medical building that they had left. To the right of the gate lay the castigator's cells and work studios, where those sinners condemned to the sub-Abbey Castus were taught the errors in their ways. To the left lay the chapel, wherein rested the Lance of St. Kirschein.

As Pietr had expected, this last fact drew Ogion's attention. It waned, though, as soon as the Brother Sergeant learned that the Saint—and every person who had attempted to wield the energy lance since—had been immolated by the weapon's uncontrolled backlash. Surely, propounded the Abbot Mandose regularly, that was a sign that the God-Emperor held some great purpose for the Lance in the future.

As Mandose had called the brethren into the chapel and was quite probably leading such a sermon at that very moment, Pietr was quite glad that Ogion didn't simply push his way into the building and examine the lance in its case there and then. He wouldn't have put it past the blunt Astartes.

Instead, Ogion simply commented that the building looked structurally unstable and climbed the steps up the abbey's perimeter wall of red sandstone. Each slow step up was accompanied by a faint hiss—the closest thing to an admission of pain as Pietr had seen Ogion come.

They walked the perimeter rampart, which had been warmed by the late morning sun. Ogion asked about landmarks and the lay of the surrounding terrain. Pietr's answers—that is was a barren, bleak, and rugged area—gave him little satisfaction.

As they finished their circuit, the chapel's bell began to ring, marking the sermon's close. Pietr blinked—that was remarkably quick, for Abbot Mandose. Perhaps the fact that he had called the sermon as soon as he had heard the ill news factored in, and that he had had no time at all to compose it. His eagerness to assuage the fears of his flock has spurred him to haste and left him ill-prepared.

The monks spilling from the chapel didn't look very comforted.

Two of the newly freed abbey-dwellers made their way to the stairs and climbed up to meet Ogion and Pietr.

“And you two are?” asked Ogion abruptly.

“Call me Pilgrim, sir,” said the Pilgrim. “Everyone does. Honorably discharged from the Gundread Four-Aught-Three after forty standard years of service.”

“Demi-Castigator Vauchos,” said the second man. “Subordinate to Castigator Locenze, but due to his injuries, I have taken over his duties. Given the unfortunate situation...I am effectively the abbey's military leader.”

“Do you have any combat experience?” asked Ogion.

“No, honored Astartes, I do not,” replied Vauchos steadily.

“Then your all such duties are hereby transferred to this...Pilgrim, as well as myself.”

Vauchos deferred to Ogion's judgment. Pietr was glad: he didn't like the Vauchos—the man was altogether too pasty and obsequious. He couldn't help but feel relieved that the abbey's defense was out of Vauchos's hands.

Ogion, wasting no time, demanded to know from the Pilgrim the total combat capability of the abbey.

“I'd need to know what we're up against, sir,” said the Pilgrim, “but-”

“Traitor Astartes,” said Ogion, his features wrinkling into a sneer. “No more than a score of them, at most.”

Peitr fought back a wave of absolute, crushing terror. Vauchos yelped a soft curse. The Pilgrim, on the other hand, just closed his eyes and nodded again, more slowly.

“I fought alongside the Praetors of Orpheus on Zavir,” he said eventually, meeting Ogion's eyes. “I saw what Space Marines are capable of, and I ain't got any illusions about their capabilities. I'd have to say this abbey doesn't stand a chance at all. Our best choice would be to take the half-tracks and run; split up and scatter, maybe, so that some can get away.”

“No,” said Ogion. “We will not run from them. They know I am here. They will hunt me mercilessly until they find me, and such a chase would only bring them joy. Nor can they afford to let you live and pass on word of my presence here—you would receive a treatment just the same.

“Should we flee, then, into the mountains where driving is so hazardous and tedious, where we would get picked off from above, vehicle by vehicle? On foot, to be caught all the faster? To the capital, where they would bombard the city from orbit and then call down their depraved foot soldiers to wipe it from the face of the planet? Better that we face their strike force here and annihilate it, or die and, in our failure, not punish the people of this planet with broader consequences.

“No, I will not be hounded and run to ground, to live out what days remain to me cowering in fear. My brothers are gone, now. I have run enough. It is our duty to stand against these foul, blinded abominations and all they represent. It is better for us to stay and fight, and to have some chance of victory—or failing that, a noble death.

“I know how methods, the strategems that these Traitor Astartes will use. But if we are to survive this storm, I must know every single tool that is available to me. I have heard you refer to this place as a Castus Abbey, and you bear the title of Demi-Castigator. What does this signify? Who, exactly...”

+​

Abbot Mandose blinked. Surely this wasn't what it appeared to be.

After his flock had departed, he had devoted an hour to solemn prayer, beseeching the God-Emperor and spirit of St. Kirschein for deliverance. When the racket outside had grown loud enough to perturb his thoughts, though, he felt the need to see what the ideas the flock had gotten into their heads—placed there, no doubt by the Angel of Death. He had never imagined that an Astartes could be so...brusque.

But this went beyond being crude. This was madness!

“What...” he breathed, beyond words, “what do you think you're doing? These are convicted criminals!”

The massive man glanced over at Mandose, and he felt the outburst shrivel in his stomach. Perhaps it was not the most prudent of ideas to cry out against an Astartes...

“I am arming them with whatever weapons we can spare,” he replied in his deep, gravelly voice.

All around, the courtyard had been transformed into a hive of activity. Line of criminals stood, still shackled together, receiving knifes and guns without ammunition. The half-tracks had been removed from their sheds, and were surrounded by all manner of containers and drums, with the Pilgrim and two other men hard at work doing...something to them. The turrets of the perimeter had men working there, too, hammering boards onto the ornate woodwork and putting metal spars and tubes into place. Ply-sheets were being used to cover windows on the lower story of the main building, and one of the confession acolytes was bustling around the castigator's cells in white robes. But those robes were only used for the preparation of the...

Oh dear. Oh dear Emperor. He understood. They were preparing for a siege of his abbey.

“But...” he wheezed, “but but, these men are animals! Unable to control their baser instincts! You can't seriously be-”

“I can,” declared the Brother Sergeant. “I am.” He turned away, back to conferring with Chirurgeon Mikla about stockpiled medical supplies.

Mandose would not be dismissed so easily. He reached up and grabbed Ogion's elbow, shrilling, “by the God-Emperor, space marine! Grant me the respect and obedience that I am due!”

Another ill-considered move. The marine whirled so fast that Mandose couldn't track his movements. In an instant, the grotesquely large features filled Mandose's field of vision, twisted into a beastly snarl. The front of Mandose's robes were twisted in the Astartes's hands.

“Your God-Emperor doesn't factor in, little man. He was only ever a man—an immensely powerful psyker, admittedly—but only ever a man. And even if He were a god, would He really take notice of a worm like you?”

Mandose gulped in fear, clenching down on his bladder so as not to wet himself. Ogion let go of his robes, but made no other move.

“Your arrogance disgusts and astounds me. Were the Emperor a god, then His flesh would be His million trillion worshipers across the galaxy. You are as no more to Him than a single cell; far beneath His threshold of notice.”

“Bu-b-i-” sputtered Mandose, choking on the overwhelming blasphemy of Ogion's words.

“And I have seen vast stretches of this benighted Imperium, little man. Were the Emperor a God, His divine flesh would be more cankerous and sore-ridden than your own.”

Ogion turned away, his face snapping back into an impassive mask. He glanced back at Mikla, then strode stiffly toward the abbey's front gate.

Behind him, Mandose deflated a great deal.

+++​
 

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Hi Mossy, this Angel of Vengeance don't have many illusions regarding Big E ? Nice move +rep
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's always sort of bothered me how the fluff tells us that Astartes regard the Emperor as a man, and then in BL novels, they turn around and treat Him in a pseudo-deific fashion. So...yeah, Ogion is a bit snappy on that.

I'm glad that you like the idea!
 

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+++

Part the Fourth

“To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable.”
- Ancient Terran scriviner


+​

Pietr approached Ogion with trepidation.

The Astartes was standing some distance outside the abbey's front gates, beyond the storage sheds, near a spur of stone. He had scratched a cross into the rock and was now standing thirty meters away, snapping off shots at it with his laspistol. Pietr assumed that he was practicing so as to familiarize himself to shooting with only one eye. Even with his disability, though, Ogion's shots were clustered in a twenty centimeter radius. The rock face was warped and lasburned.

“The abbot was, ah, very offended” said Pietr.

“I should hope so,” replied Ogion, adjusting his stance and aim and firing another several lasbolts.

“Bah,” the sergeant said. “Once I get a bionic, I'll never again take binocular vision for granted. I would order any marine under my command a hundred hours on the firing range if he gave as poor performance as this.”

“Nonetheless,” continued Pietr doggedly, “the abbot sends me to say that he recognizes that the Astartes are not beholden to the same beliefs as the Ecclesiarchy. He understands that your assistance provides the best chance we have for survival, and would like to meet you in the chapel, so he can impart on you-”

“So Mandose would, effectively, permit my outright blasphemy?” said Ogion, sneering broadly. “How magnanimous of him. How disappointing.”

Pietr blinked. “You were trying to provoke him?” he asked.

“Of course,” Ogion said, finally turning to face the priest. “I was pushing him, seeing if the man in command of the entire abbey had any backbone at all. No. I do not hold a single iota of respect for a fat craven that backpedals and is willing to compromise on his absolutely deepest beliefs. I see no manner by which he can aid us in the coming storm, and therefore have no need to speak with him whatsoever.”

Pietr swallowed. “I see,” he said awkwardly. But if Ogion held so little regard for the man he saw as their master...

“Please, sir,” Pietr continued, “don't judge us all by the abbot. We are simple and devout men, but have our own pride and bravery, of sorts. What we accomplish with the captives, for example.”

“All very well and good,” Ogion said, more gently than before. “You fulfill a necessary role. But how can you stand allowing that cancerous, unqualified worm mastery over you?”

Pietr almost laughed in relief. “We don't. I'm afraid you haven't seen a very balanced example of life in the abbey. Honestly, the abbot relied heavily on the advice of Castigator Locenze. The castigator was the real person to address for any issues that came up around here.”

Ogion gave a small smile, the skin around his unbandaged eye wrinkling into a corvidus's foot. “That makes more sense. I wasn't aware that anybody had been injured directly by my descent, though. Was he a member of your search party that got injured?”

“No, he was hurt before that. When your escape pod flew over, the shockwave broke many windows around the abbey. I was told that he was blinded by fragments as he watched you pass overhead.”

Ogion knelt and picked up several drained laspacks, nodding as he did so. “Very well, then,” he said, “I think it's about time I paid him a visit. Perhaps that I even apologized for choosing such a poor time to drop in.”

+​

It was so dark.

Locenze tossed and turned on his sweat-soaked sheets, unable to sleep. His bandages were sodden again, he knew, even though Chirurgeon Mikla had visited...recently? How long ago, exactly? He had no way to tell time; there was no comforting, steady march of seconds in this dreamless nightmare.

He had never been an excessively pious man—more-so than his vocation required, that is—but now he had little to do beside fill his day with prayer. He found himself praying harder and longer than he had ever before.

What did he pray for? For release from this nebulous oblivion. For eyes, bionic or real, with which he could see again; with which he could see anything at all. For a lightening of the crushing burden of fear and helplessness that gripped him. For the deliverance of the abbey from whatever dark force loomed over it. His fevered lips moved silently, reciting psalms and cants in an ineffectual effort to make the crawling minutes pass.

A tentative knock at the door. Mikla had already returned? He called for her to come in. The door opened and two pairs of footsteps entered, one heavy enough to make the wood creak and groan in protest.

“We're not Mikla, sir,” came Pietr's voice. Pietr. A good boy. His heart was in the right place. “I brought our guest, Brother Sergeant Ogion. He wanted to meet you.” That was it, then. The honored Astartes had come to look at the ruin his passage had made of Locenze.

“I'd stand, Brother Ogion,” the castigator said hoarsely, “but I'm afraid that I'd have some difficulty with that.”

“There is no need, really,” said the heavier newcomer. His voice was a deep wet-leopard growl, laden with the potential for bloodshed at a moment's notice. Nobody could be safe with the owner of that voice in the room. “I sympathize with your disability; I, too, lost one of my eyes in the tumultuous fall to this planet's surface.”

Locenze was overcome by a blind, aversive, near-irrational fear. He knew that this deep-voiced Astartes was his guardian, an Angel of Death sent from on high to shelter him from the coming storm, but he was afraid of it all the same.

A convulsive shudder wracked his body and he bit back a groan of pain. The last thing that Locenze wanted to do was appear weak before this...predator.

“Tell me of the coming danger,” he said abruptly, scrambling to occupy his mind with important information. “Tell me of these fallen Astartes.”

“Very well,” Ogion said, and Locenze could have sworn a subtle wash of amusement colored the Astartes's words. “They shall be clad in black; a blackness to match their hearts. They call themselves the Annihilation Scythes, and fell from His light and service shortly after the Age of Apostasy. They take particular delight in trying themselves against loyalist Astartes dogs, measuring themselves against those who have not embraced that which they call “the true strength”—the worship of the Ruinous Powers. With every conquest they commit, their pride grows and their numbers dwindle. Now, no more than twenty of them remain, yet they remain secure in their towering, unshaken arrogance.”

Locenze shuddered again. Ogion's voice carried some unspeakable malignancy; some burning, bleeding wound. It conjured up terrible images in his mind: a host of twenty fallen space marines, each an ancient, nigh-unstoppable vehicle of destruction. How could the abbey and its untrained priests dare hope to stand against that?

He opened his mouth to say as much, but some deeper connection linked in his mind, changing his words before he spoke them: “Black, you say. Was not your own armor black? Annihilation Scythes and one Angel of Vengeance. Black against black. So hard to tell them apart.”

“Don't-” cried out Pietr, and Locenze was, for a moment, afraid that he'd overstepped his bounds. Then Ogion burst into outright laughter—a rumbling boom that send a spike of pain through Locenze's temples.

“Don't be offended, please,” said Pietr to Ogion, his voice abject. “Master Locenze is fevered. He's not in his right mind.”

“No,” said Ogion, clearly amused. “I am not offended. My brethren would not like to admit it, but us Astartes are closer in form and mind even to our fallen brethren than we are to you mere humans. Blind or not, your castigator sees the clearest out of anyone in this abbey.

“Fear not,” the Astartes said, with what sounded like genuine affection in his voice. His massive hand brushed unexpectedly across Locenze's forehead, making the castigator's breath catch in his chest. “My armor was badly damaged by my descent, and I was forced to give it up. I have genuinely put aside any darkness in my soul.”

+++​
 

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There are a lot of ideas in this story i like. It seems there are going to be some kinds of confrontations i think. The Brother-Sergeant is not in a good mood :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I hope to blow away and astound you with the finale. At last, we get to the action!

It's quite fun to be writing. I hope to have it done as soon as possible--despite the fact that it'll be more than twice as long as any other update! Edit: And I'm thinking that I'll be splitting it into two pieces, actually...so a double-finale!
 

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Loving it so far... bring on the action!
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Can do, Deneris!

+++

Part the Fifth

“The greatest virtue is blindness. In no other single trait or condition can one find so pure and essential a portrayal of all that is Imperial: justice, intolerance, and blessed ignorance.”
- Saint Tuomos Kirschein, M39.335


+​

Pietr hunched over the monitor bank and invoked a swift prayer to the cameras situated around the abbey. The bank showed a number of scenes, some deserted, some still bustling with last-minute activity. Six cameras, though, panned across the early evening sky, looking for incoming dropships.

Ogion had put the last hours before the Archenemy's ship made it back to the planet to good use. He had finished laying out his plans, then started working alongside the men, moving twice as much as any of them in spite of his injuries.

The long-range auspex had marked a ship low orbit, though, so now the Astartes had removed himself to this control room, where he was pacing in the dark behind Pietr. The Pilgrim sat at Pietr's side, looking over his shoulder. Mandose had insisted on being present, too, and sat with his bionic arachnid legs collected beneath him at the back of the room. Beside him was the final member of their small group: Locenze, reclining on a hastily-moved mattress.

“There,” said the Pilgrim, stabbing a finger at one of the screens. Pietr scrambled to stop the camera's sweep. He felt Ogion looming behind him.

A faint red dot had appeared, breaking the otherwise unmarred blue-purple evening sky. Pietr's heart fluttered.

“So it begins,” murmured Ogion. A deep hunger could be heard in the rumble of his voice.

Mandose creakily unfolded his many legs and lurched over to join them. “They are coming?” he asked, his voice quavering.

“Go back to your prayers, Abbot,” growled Ogion. “Doing that, you aren't in anybody's way.”

“I just...of course. But shouldn't we be alerting the rest of the abbey?”

Pietr reached for the mic to the abbey's comm-speaker system. His hand was stopped by Ogion's, which arrested and enveloped his. Pietr immediately knew that the Brother Sergeant could crush his bones as easily as if they were a baby bird's wing.

“Not yet,” Ogion said. “We don't want to give the convicts enough time to mull their prospects over.”

Pietr looked back and forth between his abbot and the Astartes, and slowly withdrew his hand. Mandose shuffled back to join Locenze at the back of the room.

“I suppose,” said the Pilgrim in a weak attempt at neutrality, “they should see it soon enough anyways.”

He was right. The falling star grew in the screen for several minutes, until finally, the convicts on the walls and in the courtyard pointed to the sky, crying out.

Based on how little materiel the abbey had, Ogion had reshaped his plans slightly. These convicts were equipped with weapons—broken guns and makeshift blades, mostly—but no ammunition. The semblance of a defense was more important, Ogion said, than any ineffectual resistance they could actually put up. Besides, in this manner, they bought forgiveness for their sins. Several monks with loaded weapons also patrolled the courtyard to make sure the convicts didn't desert—and, as an afterthought, to aid in the defense.

“They will attack the main building first,” Ogion had declared, his eyes fixed on the descending gunship. “They lack the numbers to safely divide themselves between all three structures, so will go for the throat. They will attempt to decapitate the abbey, in order to eliminate me and allow themselves to mop up the remainder of you at their leisure. I have fought them for so long...their every move is as an open book to me.” His burnt and bandaged face had twisted into a lopsided smile, as if he found something in his pronouncement bitterly humorous.

The falling speck was larger, now, and the shell of fire surrounding it as it breached atmosphere had dissipated, laying bare it's true shape. It was a sleek, cruel, hook-nosed gunship, painted black and bristling with weapon mounts. It dove toward the abbey like a winged raptor, or a screaming hellion out of myth.

Ogion took up the clunky, several-kilogram comm-mic and spoke into it: “Members of the Sub-Abbey Castus, ready yourselves for combat. The enemy comes.”

A new flurry of activity sprang up among the convicts, but the monks watching them were enough of a threat to keep them in place.

A tense minute of waiting passed, the gunship growing larger and more defined the whole time, until it came inside its range and its weapons opened up, unleashing hell and slaughter.

Incandescent lascannon beams tore through the wall's capped turrets, slashing the red sandstone open as if it were parchment. The turrets crumpled, shedding burning timbers and crackling, half-melted stone. All six turrets were swiftly reduced to blazing ruins. Rocket-like heavy bolter shells began thudding into the parapet, blowing convicts apart. Ancient, sun-weathered battlements were hewn into fragments. Pietr saw men rendered into sprays of blood and pinwheeling limbs.

More lascannon blasts speared into the abbey as the gunship roared overhead, blowing apart the emplacements that Ogion had ordered constructed around the abbey and fitted with fake heavy weapons and servitors. Metal piping, machine accessories, and crates had been roughly fused together to look like unorthodox flak guns and heavy stubbers—all to provide a distraction against just such a strafing run as this.

Rippling explosions tore through these perfunctory emplacements as canisters of promethium, set there to imitate ammunition crates, cooked off with heavy thumps. Servitors were blasted into scraps of flesh, and piping was reduced to twisted shards of scrap metal.

Missiles streaked from the gunship, scything into the buildings, blowing apart windows and spires. The abbot's observatory, the chapel bell tower, the dormitory loft, the castigator's study, the comms tower—all possible sniper nests—were obliterated within seconds of each other. Rubble rain crashed down in the courtyard.

The building shook around Pietr as it suffered under the terrible deluge. Three of the cameras on the monitor bank lost signal, and machine spirits cried out in whining protest. Abbot Mandose shrieked quietly.

And then the gunship was past. A line of heavy bolter shells briefly stitched its way through more of the stunned convicts before it, too, was gone.

“Good,” grunted Ogion.

“How...how was that good?” asked Pietr breathlessly.

“They hit the targets we gave 'em,” replied the Pilgrim, surveying the remaining screens on the monitor bank. “Turrets, spires, emplacements—the Brother Sergeant here hadn't put men in any of those. We've preserved most of our fighting force, and robbed their first punch much of its strength.”

“But this break won't last,” said Ogion, picking up the heavy comm-mic again. “All fighters, fall back to the nearest-”

No commands were going out. The speakers were dead, on account of the comms tower's destruction. Ogion gave a guttural curse and threw the mic down.

It mattered little. The convicts and their wardens were staggering back to the buildings in any case. Most were headed for the main building, but one small group of several were headed for the castigator's cells; the building in which Pietr and Ogion were sheltered.

That second group of straggling reinforcements was blown apart by a missile blast as the gunship came around for a second run. Heavy bolters gnawed through the remaining fleeing convicts and monks.

The gunship swung over the hellish surface of the courtyard, which was now coated in craters, burning wreckage, rubble, corpses and severed limbs: a charnel house of less than two minutes' work. The gunship began settling down, accompanied by a backwash of hot air. It choked the yard with its immense bulk. The landing struts crunched down, cracking the flagstones on which they settled. The heavy bolters continued roaring, making a bloody ruin of the few surviving convicts. Only a bare handful made it through the abbey's doors.

Missiles careened into the building's facade, tearing plaster and masonry apart; heavy bolters chewed through woodwork and stained glass with equal ease. The heavy parlwood doors were blown asunder. Window grilles were blasted into warped, glowing fragments. The camera that gave Peitr a front-end view of the gunship was destroyed.

A profile shot showed the landing ramp slam open, though, and the Annihilation Scythes within pour out.

They were robed and wore jet black armor. Nothing could have prepared Pietr for their bulk, majesty of movement, and terrifying aspect. Bloody red markings adorned their shoulder pads. To have seen Ogion—even to have seen him before removing his armor, as he lay injured and dying—was one thing. These hulking monstrosities, though, beneath whom the earth seemed to shudder and weep, were wholly different. They advanced toward the main building, vindicating Ogion's predictions.

“They can't be-” breathed the Pilgrim, choking on his words. “They're not possibly-”

“Nineteen,” declared Ogion.

“What?” Pietr asked.

“Nineteen of them. Now let's hope that the first wave knows its place and has activated the triggers. This needs to be precise.”

The Traitor Astartes threw grenades through the torn wreckage of the building's exterior. A chain of explosions rippled through building's interior just as the leading warriors kicked their way through the shattered fragments of the door.

Pietr shifted himself to the view of the two cameras in the atrium. One's lens was cracked, but both still worked.

The Annihilation Scythes were storming in, and the first true defenders of the abbey were rushing to meet them. Through the smoke and ruin caused by the grenades lunged half a dozen arco-flagellants.

The men and women that had manned the walls had been the lax, the lazy, the gluttonous and those hesitant to inform on their neighbors' sins. For them, mere incarceration, corporal punishment, and manual labor was punishment enough. Arco-flagellants, however, were sinners whose crimes were far more egregious: rape, murder, blasphemy, certain minor heresies, impiety.

These flagellants, Pietr knew, were the true filth of the Imperium and their punishments reflected it. Their bodies had been broken, reshaped, and fused with archeotech and bionics. Their limbs had been grafted with horrifying weapons: electro-flails, pneu-mattocks and crusher claws. Their minds had been flensed and their skulls fitted with pacifier helms: domed metal masks that murmured a constant hypno-cant to subdue the wearer, coupled with a vast bank of injectable steroids, stimulants, and rage-inducing drugs. Once a specific trigger word was spoken, only its preselected companion could deactivate the rage into which the flagellant was plunged.

There was no stopping an arco-flagellant. There was no controlling one. There was only the unleashing, so that the unfortunate sinner could redeem itself in its death-frenzy.

This was the proud work in which the Sub-Abbey Castus engaged; a great service to the Ecclesiarchy and the Imperium. And these were the holy, mindless, sin-stained warriors around whom much of the Abbey's defense rested.

The lead Astartes fired a bolt that blew a bloody crater into the lead flagellant's chest. It paid the injury no heed, leaping through the air and lashing into the Astartes with its electro-flails. They slammed into the warrior's ceramite- and adamantium-clad legs, cracking the power armor and knocking him off his feet. The arco-flagellant howled, raising its arms for a coup de grace, but was blown to shreds by bolts from half a dozen traitors.

Then the rest of the flagellants slammed home, shrieking in their drug-induced hatred.

They tore into the Chaos Space Marines. Pneu-mattocks rose and fell, pistoning into and through power armor. Claws snipped messily through limbs. The downed Astartes was slain, and another was disemboweled. Sprays of hemoglobin-rich, vermillion blood traced arcs through the air.

Pietr saw an arco-flagellant bisected by a snarling, fang-toothed chainsword, but another leapt over its corpse and severed the slayer's arm. It leaned forward, bit out the Annihilation Scythe's throat, and smashed him aside.

For a second, Pietr began to feel a swell of hope—then the Chaos Space Marines compensated for the threat and systematically gunned and hacked the flagellants down. The abbey's charges were torn limb from limb, blasted into bloody gobbets, and crushed into the floor by the traitors' furious reply. Boltguns roared and chainswords hewed, and the flagellants were no more.

Four Space Marines had been killed by the arco-flagellants. One had lost an arm, another suffered electro-flensing across his torso, and a third's armor was warped and cracked from tremendous impacts. Several sported gashes that would have lain a man low but that had already stopped bleeding. None of the injured had been incapacitated. Truly, the physiology of Astartes was a terrifying thing.

The priests assembled at the back of the room began to fire desperately. Their untrained las and auto rounds sprayed over the Astartes as ineffectually as a spring rain. The Astartes strode forward over the corpses of the fallen, bolters barking in reply.

Auto-reactive bolts tore through the defenders' ranks. Pietr saw Chirurgeon Mikla fall, torn in half by three bolts. In less than a half a minute, every priest and surviving convict in the atrium was dead.

Pietr trembled with horror and disbelief. He couldn't have stirred himself enough to look away from the monitors if he had tried. Every fallen face, he knew. Every body so casually pulped beneath the ceramite boots of the advancing Annihilation Scythes was a neighbor and a friend. And they had not fought. They had been...annihilated.

The Annihilation Scythes marched matter-of-factly up the staircase. Marble stairs cracked beneath their weight. Reaching the top, they kicked their way through the next set of doors, heading inexorably toward the inner sanctum.

“How didn't I see?” murmured the Pilgrim. “How could've I been so...blind?”

Pietr turned to the final monitor; the only important one remaining. The inner sanctum, where Demi-Castigator Vauchos held the last of the abbey's monks, scribes and acolytes. They didn't stand a chance.

The Astartes spilled onto the screen, the camera catching them at an awkward angle. The assembled priests, equipped with the holiest relics and weapons in the abbey, opened fire. They were greeted in kind by explosive bolts.

A sacred brazier flared, spraying burning promethium jelly over the front ranks of the Astartes. Their robes blazed away and their armor was marked by soot, but they were otherwise unharmed.

Bolts flew. Priests died. One—Brother Mendeklas—ran forward, screaming and wielding a massive eviscerator chainsword, but the lead Astartes effortlessly swayed around his blow and decapitated him.

Vauchos hefted the Lance of St. Kirschein, which the abbot had permitted him to wield. If there was any time for a miracle from the Emperor, thought Pietr, it would be now.

An incandescent beam speared from the arcane energy lance's tip. The camera screen whited out, its imago-receptors struggled to recalibrate, and the only data received for two heart-stopping seconds was a series of tinny screams and the crack of exploding bolts.

Then the light died and the screen went black, briefly, as the camera adjustment swung back to normal. When the image returned, it was anything but heartening.

The lance had performed just as it had been said to in the past. One Astartes had been caught in the blast, consumed in the holy flames, but so, too, had been the demi-castigator. The pristine, unmarked energy lance lay in his ashes.

The remaining priests died swiftly. A few tried to flee, but were mercilessly gunned down.

The Astartes split into pairs, calving off into the side passages that led from the sanctum to hunt for any more survivors. Sporadic bolt fire was heard out of site of the cameras.

“Don't try anything, you treacherous bastard,” the Pilgrim said. Pietr looked up, surprised, and saw that the veteran had moved to the far side of the room and leveled his grenade launcher at Ogion.

“What are you doing?” Pietr asked. “What's going on?”

“Look at the Thunderhawk, Pietr. Look at its insignia.”

Pietr glanced back at the main exterior screen, where the gunship was idling. Its heavy bolters, slaved to servitors, were hungrily panning back and forth, looking for more targets. The symbol emblazoned there, half-lost beneath the soot of entry, was a winged, red-hooded skull. It matched the pauldron symbol Pietr had seen on the warriors earlier.

“I'd bet hard money that our honored guest ain't been entirely honest with us,” said the Pilgrim. “The Astartes who're killing us...they're the Angels of Vengeance.”

+++​
 

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Errm, now i don't know what to believe..it's wonderfull :biggrin:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I'll try to alleviate your confusion by getting the last part up as soon as I can!
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Of course not. I just have a crapton of projects looming on me. The big thing right now (besides finishing this story, for which I've already written half of the final update) is the looming BL Open Submissions Window.

Tell you what--before I so much as open any of my prospective submissions again, I'll send you a piece for the Heretic. Looking through my heap of "not enough time to do this" story ideas, I've managed to chunk together a few fragmentary ideas that could make a nice tale. Another Taros Vutch tale is on the conveyor belt, and chugging your way!

I hope you're happy, Ploss. Do you see what your incessant needling has driven me to? Hmmph! :ireful2:
 
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