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This is the second story in a story arc about my Chapter. Check it out. A link to the first part is in my sig, the latest rendition of which is on page three.
Brother Caldor, Champion of the 5th Company of the Brotherhood of Wrath, hacked and slashed his way through a pack of mutants, his dual-bladed power scimitar tearing through them with ease, as he led the Command Squad through to Brother-Captain Kern, who was beset by a trio of Violators. The enemy bore down on Kern again and again with bolt pistols and chainswords, but he was doing a fine job keeping them back. Caldor’s shield mounted bolt pistol roared as he activated the synapses which fired it. The enemy was shredded by his barrage of mass-reactive shells.
A slender, obscenely seductive figure mounted on- whatever it was, it surely wasn’t a horse- bore down on Kern just as he vanquished the last of the Violators with a practiced thrust of his gladius. The beast reared back on its mount, claws held high. Kern turned to face it, but he would be too late. The beast screeched in anticipation…
Then Caldor was there. He disemboweled the mount with one sweep of his blade, then slashed at the daemonette with the return swipe. He finished the two off with a cacophony of wrath from his bolt-pistol.
“Good timing, Brother,” Kern said austerely, calm even in the heat of battle. He gave Caldor a clipped warrior’s salute and returned to the fight. As if to guard against further close calls, a pair of the angelic warriors who had joined the fight flanked the Captain as he tore into the Violators ahead.
Caldor had no idea where their ethereal allies had come from (though the whispers in his heart knew it was the Warp, he ignored it steadfastly), but he was grateful for them. They were surely a blessing of the Emperor, spirits of long-dead heroes or some such, and they fought like it. He had heard legends from his childhood and even among the Chapter of doomed armies saved by similar apparitions, armies sent by the Emperor Himself. It did no good to think of such things, however.
Caldor and the rest of the force came across a trio of blasphemous Cahos Sorcerors attempting to open up Warp portals to escape through. They took some seventeen of the Chapter with them, but in the end the might of the Brotherhood of Wrath was their undoing. At the loss of any hope of escape, the few remaining Violators fled into the wilderness. Grim Scouts with sniper rifles and flamers pursued them, their lighter armor and cameoline cloaks better suited to such a hunt. They were granted haste by Chapter honor, which demanded their fury be brighter than a newborn sun. Caldor envied them.
Janos called a halt. Almost reluctantly the balance of those who had lived through the purge followed his order. At this the strange apparitions who had joined them faded away, back to whatever realm they called home. Caldor thrust aside the whispers once again.
Unbeknownst to all, a servo dkull with Inquisitional markings flitted away, back to its master.
Within an hour the growl of Chimeras and the crack of celebratory lasfire announced the arrival of the other Imperial forces. Munitorum officials looked down on this as waste, Commissars with distaste, but none would bother to stop or punish it; such masses of men are barely manageable after such a victory.
Such fanfare died when the Imperial Guard forces beheld the foe that was now vanquished. Chaos Space Marines, on their own planet! Some vomited at the sight of blasphemous runes scrawled in Ork blood on the Chaotic sigil in the center of the camp; others fell to their knees in prayer against the hideous mutations that the Violators were guilty of. The Imperial Guard quickly took their leave, Inquisitorial allies keeping a close eye on them.
The Guardsmen would be mindscrubbed. Perhaps mass-executed, thought Caldor. But meanwhile their Inquisitorial overlords would suffer no such indignity, and presume to make such demands of the Chapter as well. It was these hypocrisies, among others, that fuelled Caldor’s distrust with the Inquisition. The jet-black Rhino that the Inquisitor Imloth rode zoomed off into the distance with more than a few wary glances following in more closely than the rays of the setting sun.
Please give me some constructive feedback, and if you want, compliments are nice too. 8X
Of course, if you hate my ideas... go away.
Good stuff once again, and this time it wasn't so long either
Member of the Fluffmasters Clan
Haha, not long, you only have seen the first part!
It was right indeed for the Brotherhood to mistrust the Inquisition; this contingent in particular held a terrible threat to them. Inquisitor Imloth was a Puritan Inquisitor of the highest order and a staunch, immovable Amalathian. Rising Chaotic cults on the planet had brought him here, and the Ministorum had been quick to grant him their own resources, for he was a powerful and intimidating individual among his peers. He had ordered an Exterminatus in his career far earlier than his contemporaries; at the age of 27 and just two years past the rank of Explicator after his tutor’s death in battle, the world of Arandas V had been consigned to a hellish apocalypse. Until his familiar had returned, he had been contemplating the execution of the Dornian regiment, and the purification of the remains by fire, as a protection against the Dark Powers. Now he had a far greater challenge to consider.
It was not that Imloth was a particularly hateful man, nor was it because he was blindly faithful to the strict interpretation of the Imperial Creed. His was a less common faith, one tested through facts and experience as well as supported by the usual rhetoric and slogans his peers seemed so partial to. Consistently staring into the face of damnation, questioning himself of the most terrible Mysteries, his faith had become hardened and keen, a weapon as he used it.
Imloth was far beyond that long-ago Exterminatus. He was now a feared Inquisitor with power and influence across the sector. Despite this, he had with him only a small entourage; a pair of priests, Altdorf and Maltioch, his servo skull familiar, gifted to him by the Conclave of Tania after the Exterminatus, and a young Explicator, Lelia, who was as loyal as any Inquisitor could expect her to be.
Imloth himself was a sallow, dark-haired man. That hair, his only vanity, was only now losing its sheen and showing signs of the steel grey to come. His eyes were so dark they approached pitch black. When out of his slate-colored power armor, he was wiry, and, though strong enough to wield the power armor, looked to be of a slight build that belied the personality that had brought planetary Governors to their knees and purged worlds. He carried with him a compact, laser-sighted laspistol, a gilded power rod, and, most obscurely, a small, nondescript ring that could emit a close range spray of an unknown energy. The ethereal grey light had proved lethal on several occasions, especially in combination with his other armaments.
Ever ambitious, Imloth now believed he had the key to the rank of Lord. But this key would prove a great challenge- what he had seen through the familiar was as clearly damning as any crime a Chapter could commit. He had no words for it save Daemonacy. Surely, the daemons had taken a form more pleasing to the eye than their vile nature, far more so than any of the few daemons he had seen in his life, but it could not be denied that the Eldar were similarly aesthetic, yet they were still undeniably an enemy of Mankind. As an Inquisitor, Imloth could not misjudge something for its outward physical allure.
But how to assail a Chapter? He had heard tales of tainted Chapters throwing off regiments of Imperial Guardsmen, though he would surely use their help in this. He would need to destroy their forces on the ground quickly, and find a way to assail their Battle Barge as well soon after that. The strike would need to be precise and incredibly fast- not something his allies were capable of against such an enemy, even an unsuspecting one.
There was also the problem of the Chapter’s reputation- even Chapters in the Inquisitor’s circle of influence would be loath to attack them- certainly not out of fear, but respect and admiration. They were a Chapter that had lost their homeworld, yet fought undiminished, fighting valorously in the Emperor’s name- or so it might have seemed, thought Imloth coldly. The Brotherhood was also old and respectable, a Chapter that had likely as many allies in high places as Imloth himself, if not more. Imloth made a note to research into the supporters of the Brotherhood and enact purges accordingly. But what could he now accomplish against them?
There was but one answer, he knew, as a member of that most holy Ordo of the Inquisition. In cases of daemonic possession and tainted Chapters, they were the force of choice. Imloth, however, for all his zeal and undying faith, and the fire within that demanded the deaths of heretics, found himself apprehensive about calling on him. Uneasy, almost fearful.
They were terrible, he thought. Majestic, indomitable, braver than any force he had ever fought alongside, but, oh, so terrible.
They were the one force in the Imperium that neither Imloth nor any other body could dare attempt to govern, overtly or covertly, and the best of all, save His dread Guardians. They came with a will, and it was done in lead and blood.
But it was inevitable, Imloth realized. He must call on them. He must contact the Grey Knights.
He dialed in on the vox-bead at his throat.
“Driver, take us directly to the Astra Telepathica headquarters in Ordera. I have urgent business there, so please, do not find any hindrance.”
The Inquisitor’s cold voice spurred the driver on, and the Rhino sped across the grassy plains toward the main city of Dorna III.
The remains of the enemy- both Violator and Orkish, for Ocrim reasoned that Warp scum were no better or worse than xeno filth, and could be suffered the same pyre- were burned as the mnemonic Chapter servitors tallied the enemy dead. The Orks slaughtered numbered in total five thousand, one hundred and two- plus the horribly mutated Squiggoth- while the Violators were summed up to forty-two heretic Marines, thirty six daemons, and a dozen mutants and cultists- more would have been killed, but the Sorcerors sacrificed many in an attempt to escape their fate via Warp portal. It was the greatest tally to be added to the Vengeance since the Great Purge of Balachor IV, back in M.39.681, when the Chapter had torn apart nearly a full company of the Enemy.
After only ashes and memory stood to bear testament to their foes, various awards were given out. A certain Brother Sergeant Maltes was elected from among his Brothers to the post of the dead Graphen. Honors were given to both the living and the dead- Caldor received an Argent Cross, likely at Brother Captain Kern’s urging.
All throughout the ceremonies, Chaplains, led by Ocrim, anointed Brothers with sacred oils, affixed purity seals to their armor, and counseled Brother Marines on matters of faith. Librarians also wandered among the ranks, scanning the Brothers for any signs of doubt or corruption. Battles with any enemy held the risk of death, but only battles with the Great Enemy, Chaos, held the special peril of damnation. Every Brother who had participated had to be scanned and interviewed to ensure he had not been made susceptible to heresy or the whispers of Daemons.
Adverse weather had held back troop retrieval back to the Battle Barge, His Shining Blade, so the Marines made camp close to the site of the battle. Before sunrise, for the week, the Marines would hold regular training rituals until pickup, but now was the appointed period of rest-time. The air hummed with the prayers of the Brotherhood as they contemplated faith and combat- their lives. This peace characterized six of the seven nights spent planetside.
The attack came swiftly and without warning on the seventh night. Peace was overthrown by pandemonium as a blinding flash revealed half a dozen full squads of terrible figures, resplendent in grey armor bedecked with articles of faith, and two squads of similarly garbed Terminators. They appeared out of nowhere, wrist mounted storm bolters roaring to the night sky, gleaming blades already charged with psychic energy. And out of the jungle came the Inquisitor, his priests’ oversized chainswords already roaring and crimson with the blood of Scout sentries, and his assistant firing an ornate dueling laspistol. Imloth was quicly at the head of the assault, Chimeras filled with Storm Troopers in brooding dark armor following swiftly.
Caldor’s eyes adjusted fitfully to the sheen of the armor of the Grey Knights- or was it something else entirely? The famed warriors of Titan tore into the Chapter, most hitting Fifth Company, slamming them like a sledge through a wall. Space Marines, for all their staying power, were knocked aside by their fury. But the enemy had attacked Space Marines, and though caught unawares, they were by no means unprepared. Bolters were snatched up, firing before they left the ground, chainswords roared and whined in clashing chorus with the shimmering arms of the Grey Knights.
A squad of the terrible warriors made it to Kern’s Command Squad. Caldor, Kern, and the six others were beset by six furious warriors who had never known defeat. Brothers Marlowe and Alars went down before they could swing, the warriors were so skilled. And so fast…
One, preoccupied with Kern, turned his back to Caldor. In rage, Caldor brought his blade down in a sweeping arc onto the enemy’s back. It met with a clang… and then Caldor realized the haft of a halberd had stopped it.
“Coward! You stand against the Emperor, this is the day you die!” the Knight roared.
Caldor fought against the Grey Knight, but he was stronger, faster, and more skilled than any enemy Caldor had ever faced. It was the same across the field. The rest of the Chapter had joined the fight, but it was not enough. Even the hellfire from the Storm Troopers, which would normally would bounce off their armor, took some of the Brethren down en masse.
Thunderhawks, braving the adverse weather and the darkness, swooped down from the skies, opening fire on the enemy where possible. Despite the meelee, the gunners were accurate, finding a mark against all odds. Their battle cannons and turbo-destructors made short work of the Stormtroopers. But they could not forever stand against the Grey Knights, and were being whittled down to nothing.
“Fall back! To the Thunderhawks, Brothers! Retreat!” came an order from Janos Caldor had, before this day, thought he would never hear issue from the stoic Chapter Master’s lips. The Marines fell back in perfect formation, carrying their dead. 5th Company was spreading out to provide a buffer to cover their Brother’s escape, but were being slaughtered still by the enemy’s terrible onslaught. On the other side, many Grey Knights had fallen, and the priests had fallen; Lelia was unconscious. The Storm Troopers had fallen. Where in the Emperor’s name was the Guard? Imloth cursed aloud.
A single drop pod slammed down onto the ground, and through the doors stepped the Chief Librarian of the Chapter, Algamar. Despite all the psychic wards on their armor, the Knights could not stand against him; his fury, channeled through the Warp as a stallion of fire, trampled through the enemy, while psychic fire blasted through the night sky, decimating a whole squad of Grey Knights. The sky grew even darker, and whispering things and night terrors drove the few remaining Storm Troopers irrevocably mad. When Algamar’s power finally was expended, combined with the remaining strength of the Fifth, not one Grey Knight remained standing. But they had taken nearly all of the Fifth with them; only Kern and Caldor remained.
A Rhino, colored in Inquisition heraldry, moved in to extract the fleeing Inquisitor. He sprinted for it, knowing his gambit had failed. If only the Imperial Guard had mobilized more quickly! Now the deaths of the Grey Knights and his Storm Troopers lay on his own head. He must reach the city, and soon. He grabbed the unconscious Lelia.
Kern moved to intercept, moving faster than any man could, his superhuman constitution covering the distance between them in mere strides. Caldor began to sprint to the Inquisitor as well, but he had been separated from Kern over the course of the battle. Algamar, his powers expended, still rushed in to help as well. The Inquisitor could not escape. But Algamar was similarly isolated.
Kern and Imloth clashed, the Captain’s anguish against Imloth’s desparation. Equally matched, they fought blow for blow. But a blinding flash lit the night as the Inquisitor utilized the mysterious energies of his ring. Kern cried out, blinded.
“Where are your daemons now, heretic?” Imloth mocked in something near a shriek. He struck at Kern’s momentarily exposed temple with his power rod. Kern was dead before he hit the ground. Imloth dove into the Rhino, carrying Lelia with him. The Rhino zigzagged across the plains and into the night, somehow avoiding the blasts from the remaining Thunderhawk.
Algamar and Caldor looked at one another; Caldor’s relatively young face was beset by pain and rage; Algamar seemed deeply troubled and sorrowful. Then the two set about carrying dead Battle Brothers to the Thunderhawks, helped by the crew of the Thunderhawk. Painstakingly they arranged the bodies of the Grey Knights in a series of rows, arms crossed, force weapons held in final embrace across their chestplates. The two priests were similarly arranged.
“They were not our enemy save on this field,” said Algamar sadly. “Now nearly three Companies of our Chapter lie dead, and seventy who should have died fighting worthier foes than us- graver threats than a loyal Chapter!- also lie dead. And it is for one reason. One man.”
Caldor nodded. He, too, was saddened by this clash of brothers; who was this Imloth to send the Grey Knights against them? Who were they to trouble the agenda of the Inquisition and the warriors of Titan? What had they done?
These questions and more plagued the two survivors as they strode purposefully to the Thunderhawk, the bulk of the power armor they wore still unable to support the weight of the sorrow that caused their mighty shoulders to sag and their noble, battle scarred faces to hang lower than a Space Marine’s ever should, as the remaining Scouts on the ground administered mercy killings to maddened Storm Troopers.
“The Inquisitor has violated our sovereignty, butchered our warriors, and forsaken our alliance. He has caused the deaths of nearly two hundred and fifty of our own, including many of our best and brightest Scouts, and seventy of the revered Brothers from Titan whom he set against us. All these deaths lie on his head. He has stained our honor with a black mark. For this and more, he must die,” Janos finished, speaking to the assembled strike team. Though his voice held but a tine of the Chapter Master’s rage, his eyes smoldered with fury, two blazing pits of fire in a mask of obsidian stone.
“He has brought pandemonium where there was to be peace; he is mad, and turns the Imperial Creed against itself. He is beyond the Light of His Holy Majesty. For this he must pay also,” Ocrim added, his fury more tangible in his words, a force that lent itself to the spirits of the assembled.
“Go forth, and do the Emperor’s will. You have been elected by your Brothers, one from each of our Battle Companies. Caldor, as the last Brother of the martyred Fifth, you shall lead this force. Remember, your target is the Inquisitor. If you must, destroy those in your path to reach him. But we can hardly afford to provoke our Imperium much more if we can help it. You have my blessing.”
“And the Emperor’s as well,” Ocrim echoed his own.
It had been a quick decision. Imloth and his followers had to be silenced fast, though some damage was likely already achieved. The Chapter’s Battle Companies, the Third through the Eighth, had sent one Brother apiece to go into the wilds of Dorna III and do so. Caldor was an obvious choice from Fifth. From Fourth, Brother Morkai, a seasoned veteran, came, bearing bolt pistol and hand flamer. Sixth had elected Rowan, and Seventh had chosen Brother Gandor. Both carried simple bolters. Eighth had sent Zethus, a scarred veteran plasma gunner. Third had sent an Apothecary- Brother Alain. Though he technically outranked Caldor in the Chapter’s rankings, he submitted humbly to Caldor’s leadership. Veterans all, they similarly recognized Caldor’s leadership.
The fated six loaded into the small, covert craft that would take them to the surface. They could not land ahead of him, for they would be sighted by the city, but they could land close to where he likely was. Over the difficult ground, Marines could travel quicker than might be expected, and the Rhino the Inquisitor rode would be hindered by the terrain. If they could ambush the Inquisitor, he would have no chance.
The craft left the docking bay and swept into open space, going hell for leather for Dorna III’s surface.
Colonel Bardley paced the small officer quarters of the Barracks nervously. He had deliberately withheld his forces from aiding an Inquisitor; surely he would face repercussions should the Inquisitor return to the city. The Inquisitor had already shot several of his officers trying to get the Guard to move, but Bardley had moved through several steps of the mobilization slowly, and stopped it completely when the Inquisitor had left in a huff. And one hell of a hurry.
Bardley knew the Inquisitor was mad. Stark raving mad. He’d seen it before in his own men, those who had broken in combat and charged the enemy, attacking them with gun butts and bare fists, or those who sat in the darkest corner of a bunker, whimpering, only to be shot by a cruel Commissar. The light in the Inquisitor’s eyes no longer served the Emperor, and Bardley refused to follow him into oblivion. But surely his act was treason; an Inquisitor had at his disposal every means in the galaxy to serve the Emperor, and only another Inquisitor would dare criticize his means or motivations. Bardley was powerless, and he knew it. Powerless, with a regiment of Guard at his side. It was ludicrous.
Besides, the Inquisitor’s reputation preceded him. Execution was only the most direct of an Inquisitor’s methods, and Bardley feared to be taken alive into the Inquisitor’s custody. Emperor help him, Bardley found himself hoping whatever damn-fool errand the Inquisitor had rushed off to had killed him. It seemed a blasphemy, but what was a man supposed to do with his regiment in peril?
Luckily the Inquisitor had ordered his subordinates to mobilize their forces, rather than going the official route of such things. Bardley imagined the Inquisitor had been pressed for time at that moment, foregoing chain of command and using his force of will instead. Or perhaps he feared general uproar at whatever he was up to. But he had left, in such a rush as there was no way even Bardley’s mechanized forces could catch him. What was he to do, when the man couldn’t be bothered to wait for support?
But undoubtedly the Inquisitor would return, whatever his secret motivation was. If he returned, the regiment was doomed. As soon as the rebellions in the city were quelled, perhaps even before then, his men would be lined up and shot before his eyes, and then he would be subjected to interrogation. Then he himself would die. He feared death itself very little though. But he knew his men were living on borrowed time thanks to those damnable Chaos Space Marines and the horrors they had unleashed on this world.
A small part of him kept asking why, when he had a regiment of Imperial Guard at his disposal, did he feel so resigned to his fate? Why, when he possessed men and machines at his command, couldn’t he do… something? He pushed the idea out of his mind, but it kept coming back. A patrol sent out in the night to mop up the Orks… mistakes could be made… no, that was abject treason, more than he had already committed. Madness.
But so was the death of his regiment, his soul screamed.
Sighing, he contemplated the vox on his desk. He thought better of it. It could be bugged.
No more than half a dozen, he thought. I will go with them. Six of us, on altocats, a small patrol, disguised as bandits. We’ll not attack directly, but sabotage his transport. Then pick them off one by one as they go. He left in a rush. He will return in one as well.
Slipping quietly from his quarters, Bardley picked out in his mind the men who would accompany him. They’d have to be veterans, and trustworthy too… and those who truly trusted him.
Then a powerful figure grabbed him from behind, gauntleted hand clamping over his mouth.
“The tracks are fresher now,” Rowan growled as he scanned the ruts the Rhino had left here.
“Not fresh enough,” said Caldor in response. “We need to move faster.”
They all nodded and set off as one, once again. They’d been in pursuit for some six hours straight now, the nutrient and hydration dispensers in their armor working full-board to keep up with the constantly moving Marines. They’d made progress, no doubt, but at this rate they’d never catch the Inquisitor before he reached the city.
They could still bring him to justice- they would gun him down in front of the Imperial Commander of the planet as the Inquisitor came out of the Astra Telepathica if need be- but if his message got out, all was lost. The Chapter would be declared Excommunicate, Diabolus, and purged from record as soon as the might of the Imperium could e brought to bear on the Chapter. They would be reviled and all their honorable acts forgotten, all their glory cast down.
And the Violators would also escape justice for their unspeakable crime against the Chapter. Caldor’s hearts filled with rage as he considered that the Imperium would make war on his Brothers while their enemies lay unmolested. Hypocrisy. Madness.
They ran in a loose formation that was nonetheless effective and disciplined as well as fluid. Their pace was rhythmic and relatively easy for them to keep up over miles of plains, but faster than any normal man could keep up with under any conditions. Each one constantly scanning the area around him and further ahead for the slightest details, they looked for detours, traps, and ambushes, picking out everything in the night as if it were day through the sense enhancers of their helms.
Brother Sergeant Morkai thought back to his days as a Scout- he had been on intercept missions before this one. Certainly, not of this importance, but he still remembered hunting down a Warlock of Biel-Tan, a small cabal of Chaos cultists, one of the Tau “Ethereals…” he enjoyed this type of mission. It seemed to have such purpose, and when the force was small, the odds of success and the consequences of failure made it exciting in ways normal battle could not.
Gandor would have understood perfectly, for he had been a part of Morkai’s Scout squad as a Neophyte. He, too, remembered the haste, the adrenaline, the smell of fear as they closed in on the target. The reek of sweat that emanated from those who knew that the Emperor’s Finest hunted them, and they could not escape.
Rowan deliberately kept his mind clear of such thoughts. Somber where his brothers were fierce, he was dutiful above all else. This mission required focus and attention. He would not shame himself and his Chapter by losing sight of the objective to battle-lust.
Zethus very nearly overtook Caldor as his mind drifted toward the state of rage it had entered after the betrayal. His heat-scarred hands tightened over his plasma rifle from inside their gauntlets as he contemplated the scale of devastation the Inquisitor had visited on his Chapter. He had been the last of his Company to leave the battle site, and had been commended by Ocrim himself for his zealous rage, having taken down a pair of the enemy transports, a half dozen Storm Troopers, and claiming four kills of the Grey Knights, though he held these kills with no esteem. They were necessary kills of warriors he would not have faced without the Inquisitor’s betrayal, and their deaths, too, fueled his anger.
Alain kept a careful watch on his Battle Brothers. It was to Caldor to lead, but to him to look after their well-being. He weaved through the formation, monitoring each Brother’s vital signs with practiced ease. He did a double take when he glanced at Zethus’ eye ports- were they glowing blue? But the haze disappeared quicker than it had come. He dismissed it. There were more important things to focus on.
Bardley twisted frantically in the grip of the ambusher, but it was no use. The figure twisted him around to face it, hand still clamped over his mouth. It was a Space Marine in blue, adorned with the heraldry of the Brotherhood of Wrath. A Librarian, Bardley realized, his insides squirming. There was something so unnatural about psykers…
The figure put a finger to its lips, commanding silence. Bardley nodded, knowing he had little choice. The hand released its iron grip over his mouth. He gasped, then quieted, remembering the Librarian’s silent gesture.
Without a word, the Librarian stalked deeper into the alleyway he had come from. Bardley followed.
The figure turned to face him again. Lowering his hood, he revealed a face that was neither very old or possessing any appearance of youth. His eyes were a steely grey, and a side-knot of grey hair adorned his shaven skull.
“Well met, I hope, Colonel?” the Librarian said sardonically. “I am Algamar of the Brotherhood of Wrath.” His voice sounded tired, but would have been very resonant had he not been fairly whispering.
“Under the circumstances, my Lord,” Bardley said, fervently praying that the Space Marines were not out to get his regiment as well.
“Such worries are unnecessary, Colonel. You and I share a similar problem,” the Librarian read him like a book. “The Inquisitor seeks our destruction. He has betrayed us and seeks to kill us all. We have already lost many, and will not suffer his trespasses any longer.”
Involuntarily, Bardley let out a sigh of relief. Sometimes, being an Imperial officer was more paranoia than it seemed worth, at least when he wasn’t in battle. There he was in his element; there he served the Emperor best.
“As do I, Colonel. Though I would say my career has exposed me to some of the bureaucracy you fear. I understand, then, that you seek to assassinate the Inquisitor Imloth,” the Librarian stated. Bardley nodded. Before he could speak, the Librarian continued. “That poses a problem. You see, six of our best seek the same goal, and Chapter honor supercedes your desire to preserve your men. They would be singularly displeased to be deprived the vindication his death will bring,” he finished.
“I see,” said Bardley. He was inwardly gladdened; his men would not face treason now.
“Not off the hook yet, Colonel. The Inquisitor is moving rapidly to Ondera. Weather conditions and the vigil of the city prevent us from ambushing him without having some explaining to do… and he is moving rather too fast. I request that you use the strike team to sabotage his transport, then leave him to us.”
“I would be honored to serve, Lord,” Bardley said nervously. Despite having overcome his initial terror, he was still apprehensive about offending the superhuman psyker.
“We owe you our gratitude, Colonel. Emperor be with you and your men,” the Librarian finished. He brought one hand to his opposite shoulder in salute, then disappeared into the black night before Bardley could say another word or return the gesture.
Bardley proved right in his assumption that the Inquisitor would take a direct path to Ondera; there the Rhino was, trundling across the rocky ground like some black beetle. He signaled his fellow riders to charge with a sweep of his lance.
They streaked through the grassy fields to the left of the Rhino; the grass concealed them from the unsuspecting Rhino till they were almost on top of it. A carapace-armored trooper came up to man the storm bolter, but he was cowed by autopistol fire. Three of them rushed around behind and the two groups flanked the Rhino.
The Inquisitor came out the top hatch, firing his pistol, but the ride was too bumpy for him to get a good shot off. He cursed. Lelia was still unconscious, but he knew she’d have done better. He was getting unsteady. He ducked a volley. They looked to be raiders, and did not seem to be trying to hit, they were such bad shots… his intuition said differently though. He lashed out with his digi weapon, catching one of the cats in the flank, enraging it. He ducked again.
There was a screech of rending steel as the six powered lances ripped into the tread mechanism. A series of booms coughed throughout the transport as their charges went off. The Rhino careened this way and that, trying to crush the riders, but the treads were damaged and the riders were skillful. The driver attempted to accelerate.
Then Imloth heard the slap on metal of krak charges. He kicked open the rear hatch, grabbed Lelia, and dove out. Just as he mentally ordered his familiar to follow, he heard the krak charges go off, and cursed. It was undoubtedly damaged beyond repair. He hit the grass and rolled to his feet, dropping Lelia.
The riders disengaged as the Rhino careened and powerslid into a small ravine. Imloth grabbed both his pistol and Lelia’s and fired shot after shot after the riders, but only managed to catch one on the shoulder. He zoomed in on them using the sight on his pistol when they were out of range, and caught a glimpse of heavy bandages under one of the cloaks. Treason! He made a note to punish the regiment after this business was over, and the cults of rebellion quelled in the city. He would not throw away resources, but he refused to tolerate acts which defied the Inquisition either.
“Halt,” called Caldor perfunctorily as he sighted the smoke coming from the ravine. After a moment, he began striding towards the place of the transport’s demise. The others followed, picking out the details of what must have happened. The Inquisitor had made other enemies, it seemed.
The Rhino’s treads were all but demolished, twisted wrecks. Tears and gaping holes marred the sheer black armor plating. Smoke and dying fire emerged from the mechanisms. The hull was relatively intact, however.
They salvaged ammunition from the wreck. Alain tore the storm bolter from the Rhino. Brother Rowan and Gandor each took a hellpistol and grenades from the two Storm Trooper crew, who had died in the crash.
Alain’s auspex uncovered the servo skull- the one that had condemned them in the eyes of its master. It was barely functional, its eyes dim, its machinery sparking. The anti-grav motor was causing it to drift in circles along the ground. It was at once comical and pathetic.
All the Battle Brothers moved away as Caldor approached it. He studied it carefully, as if sizing it up. It rolled over on itself once when it saw him, then resumed circling fitfully.
“Sorry, friend,” he spoke softly, praying for forgiveness to the spirit of the honored servant whose skull this had been, “You have seen too much.”
His power-armored boot crushed it to fragments of bone and circuitry. He turned to his brothers.
“So. We agree that the Inquisitor is still alive, and headed for Ondera?” he consulted. They nodded as one. “Then let us end this,” he finished. With renewed vigor, the half-dozen Space Marines charged out of the ravine and began pursuing the Inquisitor again, ever relentlessly.
Imloth had awakened Lelia by injecting a series of stimms into her blood- a risky procedure, but he would not leave her to the Space Marines. He was sure now that they were being pursued. And they had contacts at Ondera. Friendly contacts. He had little time to lose.
As he speed-marched toward Ondera, he realized what age and riding in Rhinos had done to him. He was barely able to keep up with Lelia, much less outrun her as he had done scant years ago when he had taken her as an apprentice. Were it not for his exercise rituals he would be the one being carried now. He felt somewhat ashamed, but thanked the Emperor for his continued strength. He needed it all.
He witnessed the destruction of his familiar in his minds-eye. He shuddered inwardly in spite of himself- the lead warrior, the one with the dual scimitar, he looked so imperious, so terrible, through the vision of the grounded, doomed servo skull. So righteous.
Damnation can be deceiving, he told himself. You know this. Especially from four inches off the ground. He swept the idea out of his head.
They were surely within hours of the city now. A day at most, if his memory served, and that had not gone through the deterioration of his body despite the years. Then these heretics would receive their due. He strengthened himself through recitation of the Canticle of Detestation as he ran.
Zethus had seen something suspicious to the west. When Brother Alain scoped in on it, he discovered that it was not suspicious, but damning.
Six flayed and crucified bodies, crucified on cruel pikes and daubed with Chaotic sigils. Over the hill wafted smoke from campfires, and likely more despicable things.
“It figures that the Inquisition should overlook this in persecution of our Chapter…” Gandor seethed.
Caldor was torn. If they abandoned the chase to destroy this cult, they would lose hours of progress, but if they left the Chaotics to fester… he sighed.
Alain broke the silence.
“It is our duty. We cannot put our Chapter above the destruction of the true enemies of the Emperor. Let us crush them and move on, as our oaths of fealty to the Emperor demand.”
Caldor nodded slowly.
“A quick detour then,” he spoke softly.
Imloth nearly cried for joy when the gates of Ondera were opened to him. Both Inquisitor and acolyte redoubled their speed. The gatekeepers quickly made way, recognizing Imloth and his sigils of office with fear. Well-meaning functionaries and officials were not so wise, and he shoved them aside with power-armor assisted strength. He sprinted to the turbo-elevator that led to the Astra Telepathica.
Barging through the double doors and bowling over the people in line, he spat orders at the Administratum clerk.
“I demand to have an audience with an Astropath this instant! It is an issue of dire importance!” he fairly screamed. The clerk stared irately.
“I’m sorry, milord…” the clipped tones of the Adept trailed off meaningfully.
“Imloth. Inquisitor… Imloth,” he trailed off meaningfully back, shoving his sigil of office into the face of the bemused clerk.
“Well, sire, as it happens, the Astra Telepathica is booked with issues of dire importance for the next two days. If you seek an appointment you must speak with the Adeptus Arbites precinct.”
“Why, in the name of the Emperor?” Imloth bellowed.
“The Telepathica is booked because the Arbites are currently using its full functions to call for aid against a Chaotic incursion in the city, suspected to be based not far outside it.”
“Its full functions…” Imloth hissed sardonically. There were twenty psykers in this Telepathica! He had seen it when he had called in the Grey Knights!
“…which are reduced due to a bombing by the aforementioned renegades. We had a score, we now have three functional psykers. Now, in addition to contacting the Arbites, you must fill out this paperwork,” the Adept shuffled over to retrieve a stack of papers and scrolls, “in triplicate. Security purposes, you understand. And more for your… Explicator?”
“Yes,” the Inquisitor said resignedly. “Thank the Emperor my familiar was destroyed.”
“Oh, that’s an entirely different set of paperwork. As that is a psychic construct, it could have dire consequences in an Astra-“
“Yes, yes, thank you,” Imloth reached for the paperwork. The Adept yanked it back.
“You really should have waited in line,” he mused.
“Don’t test me, Adept,” Imloth said, fingering his power rod. He left the Telepathica in a huff, arms full of paperwork.
“Next,” droned the Adept, and sighed as an unsightly, large woman lumbered up to the desk. Not her again, he thought in anguish, forgetting all about the Inquisitor with the sunken eyes for this woman who undoubtedly had come to flirt with him. He looked about for a subordinate to shove her off to; but there was none, they were all occupied. Dammit.
And there shall be more...
Not bad, not bad, just hard to read it all when you're in a hurry. Keep up the good work Imperialis
Member of the Fluffmasters Clan
“Launch attack protocol six in five… four… three…” Caldor whispered into the vox-bead, his Brothers already deployed in position around the camp. Just yards away, the last of the sentries lay silenced, bleeding out onto the grass.
The air exploded in bolter and plasma fire as the six Marines sprinted out of their cover. Caldor eviscerated a half-dozen cultists with a one-two sweep of his blade; Morkai’s hand flamer gushed hot death in concert with the roar of his bolt pistol. Gandor and Rowan unleashed hell on another flank with their bolters, and drew pistols as they closed in; Alain’s storm bolter and Zethus’ plasma rifle tore into the southeastern area of the camp.
Was it just him, or were they more fluid, faster, stronger than they had been? Caldor wondered. He could swear he saw, out of the corner of his vision, flecks of light illuminating his brothers; the blows they rained upon their enemies were trailed by a haze of brightness. Did Morkai have a halo?
Then he saw the leader of the band. The only Chaos Marine among them, he was a Violator giant with a bestial mask, hoofed greaves, and a pair of slender, writhing rapiers. The abomination howled and charged with a sickly fluidity. The air around Caldor seemed to sing with sickening hymns as it closed in. He fought off the disorientation and focused on his hatred.
The Violator proved a skilled opponent, despite the surprise of their ambush. He parried and slashed, matching Caldor blow for blow. Suddenly, in a surprising move, he feinted a sword slash to Caldor’s head, but as he blocked, the blade somehow appeared below his parry, and slashed him below the breastplate. He stumbled back, and the beast moved in to finish him.
Then Alain was there, parrying the beast with his chainsword and servo-arm reductor. Shielding the recovering Caldor, he was yet driven back, not nearly as skilled or blessed by foul powers as the Violator.
Fighting back the pain, Caldor whispered a prayer to the Emperor and felt his strength return slowly. He sprinted forward to relieve Alain, practically diving beneath a near-decapitating blow to intercept. His fury rose further and now he knew his blade was immersed in white flames that sparked as the blade met that of his foe. The halos of his comrades stood out in full relief in the dimness of the dying sun as they stood with him against the beast. Singing a hymn of battle in unision, they surrounded their foe with clashing blades and flying fists, whirring chainblade and crushing kicks.
Finally, Caldor caught his foe with a kick so mighty to the chest that ceramite chips flew off the corrupted armor. Diving through the writhing, serpentine blades yet again, his scimitar clove through the center of the Chaotic sigil emblazoned on the chestplate, and he did not stop till he had pinned the monster into a tree that had been corrupted by blood sacrifice and demon worship. The tree oozed a blood-like sap as the traitor breathed his last.
“Stand not against the Emperor, traitor! Die! Die! Die!” he howled. With his last rattling gasp, the creature did.
Yet another funeral pure of the Emperor’s enemies burned that day. But there was no victory celebration, for though the battle was won, they all knew they may have lost the war for the survival of their Chapter. As soon as the camp was fully torched and Alain patched up Caldor, the small group of Marines was off to Ondera.
When the Marines reached Ondera, none dared stand in their path. They were admitted, then, as surely as it seems impossible for such giants to do, they disappeared.
Using the Colonel as reconnaissance, they found out about the Inquisitor and his troubles with the Administratum. But he, too, had found a place to lay low, and could not be found.
The Adeptus Arbites were embroiled across the city by battles with a now-leaderless remnant of the Chaos Cult that had infiltrated the planet’s infrastructure, but that was now in its death throes. Occasionally, teams of Arbites peacekeepers would report that mysterious Space Marines would appear and save them from massacre, then disappear.
This went on for a full week, as the embittered clerk at the Astra Telepathica did everything in his power to delay the Inquisitor. Spiteful man, courageous though he was; the sin of standing up to an Inquisitor would have earned him death on any civilized world closer to Terra. But all things are said to serve the Emperor, and perhaps even such a reprehensible creature did his part…
Not bad, is there more to come?
Member of the Fluffmasters Clan
Yes, there is, last part of this story here.
It was the day all hell broke loose.
Violence across the city reached an all-time high as Arbites units administered a crackdown at the same time as the cultists waged a final suicidal assault on the citizenry and soldiers to spill blood for their patrons, whether in the hopes of some infernal intervention or bloody-minded fanaticism. Imperial Guardsmen, whose execution was on hold pending Imloth’s order, joined the fray, their disciplined volleys directed by none other than Colonel Bardley.
Reinforcements and evacuations flooded the starports, which became ripe targets for sabotage and thus became bloody battlegrounds.
And finally, the Inquisitor stalked from his lair to deliver his edict against the Brotherhood. But they were not unprepared.
Imloth, Lelia, and a host of requisitioned Stormtrooper bodyguards marched across the city, braving riots, pitched battles, and acts of terrorism to make one final lunge towards his long-sought goal. But they were interrupted, and very directly.
The air was shattered with boltfire and hellgun cracks, drowning out even the violence nearby. Imloth’s men fought with duty and discipline, but stood no chance against the hardened and enraged Marines, who rushed the squad and overwhelmed them. Caldor took out three at once, darting for Imloth, but the Inquisitor and his assistant darted into an alley just out of reach.
The Stormtroopers quickly surrendered after the Inquisitor’s departure, and were spared to their great relief. But there was still the matter of Imloth.
Caldor followed them with all the speed he could muster- not inconsiderable given his augmentations- but Imloth had had a headstart, and knew exactly where he was going. Caldor rushed out of the alley only to see the slate-armored Inquisitor leaping onto a departing turbo-train.
Fine, if he wanted to play that way… Caldor leapt onto the roof of the train, punching skull-sized dents into the roof of the train. Soon it was moving too fast for him to bring his blade to bear, even with his enhanced form, and he was reduced simply to holding on.
Gritting his teeth, Caldor looked behind him. None of his brothers had made it onto the train as he had. Well, if the Emperor meant for him, the last of the martyred Fifth, to fight this battle alone, so be it. The Inquisitor would die today, whether or no he succeeded in dooming Caldor’s Chapter.
Imloth sprinted off the train as it slowed quickly, the conductor acting with haste under a gun. Hopefully that damned Marine would be slowed down, Imloth thought with malice and fear. He knew he was not safe yet.
Caldor was momentarily shaken by the train’s screeching stop, but still bounded off the train towards his target. He left craters in the path where he landed, terrifying the citizens around him.
“Inquisitor!” he roared, and strode toward the fleeing Imloth.
His enemy dove into the elevator, Lelia barely making it before he activated the emergency seal and lift runes. The lift rose up and up, into the highest levels of the complex.
Caldor ran into the base of the elevator, shattering the glass and warping the steel casing with his momentum. He roared, and ripped the bottom of the casing out with his bare hands. But it was in vain, and he tossed the metal scraps aside, falling to his knees as the lift propelled Imloth to relative heaven and left Caldor in the opposite.
For but a moment, Caldor felt despair, but it felt like an eternity. All was lost. While Imloth might still die this day, the doom of his Chapter was sealed. He gave a silent prayer to the Emperor that they would all die honorable deaths, and rose, tears of rage rolling down his stony features.
Then, he gasped, feeling a pain- a tearing- in his shoulders. Oh, Throne, the pain…. More than he had felt in Initiation… his power armor split and warped to accommodate…
Wings. He had wings. He immediately understood why they were there, and resolved to hold his amazement for later. Giving praise to the Emperor, he soared upwards to the level where the Telepathica was, and landed gracefully in front of the Inquisitor, who had been but yards from the door. Lelia moved to block him, but he caught her in the stomach with his boot. She vomited and crashed against the wall, the pain immediately blacking her out. She would live though; if Caldor had aimed to kill, that would not be the case. His quarrel was not with her.
“Witch! Warp spawn! Mutant!” Imloth spat. “Your obscene mutations confirm your allegiances. Confess, and I shall execute you quickly.”
“Warp spawn?” Caldor roared. He charged Imloth. Power rod met scimitar as the two clashed.
“You consort with daemons and traffic in witchery! Admit it!” Imloth fumed as the two clashed, parried, lunged, feinted, and clashed again.
“We are the chosen of the Emperor! We are the Space Marines, more loyal to Him on Earth than yourself, Inquisitor! You disgrace your holy rank!” Caldor snarled back.
“You? Chosen? You are mutated, ‘gifted’ as such by your unholy patron! I suspect the Changer of the Ways, curse his machinations… utter no more blasphemies, heretic!” ranted Imloth. His eyes were tinged with the redness of burst blood vessels, and the spittle flying from his face gave him a mad aspect in the lumen-lit passage.
“You are responsible for the deaths of a Company of my brethren, my company…and the brave souls of the Grey Knights you unleashed upon us. You are deluded and mad, Inquisitor!” Sparks illuminated the passage as the two weapons met again and again.
“It is those who serve the Dark Gods who are deluded, fool!”
“I wouldn’t know,” Caldor hissed, and spun to decapitate the hateful man. Imloth blocked, but the sheer force of the blow knocked him back.
“I care little for your ‘brothers,’ fallen Marine,” Imloth spat. “I would sacrifice the whole sector to rid the Imperium of such renegade Chaotic filth and possessed deviants…”
“Possessed?” Caldor pushed the Inquisitor back with a flurry, capitalizing on his advantage. “Do I look possessed?” He ripped off his Crusader pattern helm, throwing it to the ground.
A flare of light illuminated the hallway. Caldor’s head was almost eclipsed by a halo of light, his eyes burning infernos of blue flame. Shocked at this, and blinded momentarily, the Inquisitor fell back, dropping his guard. Caldor slashed at his rod arm. The weapon clattered to the floor from Imloth’s newly nerveless fingers.
Before Caldor could finish him, Imloth fell to his knees.
“Forgive me,” he whispered. Tears of shame rolled down his cheeks, his body wracked with shivers at the sight of what had to be… had to be… a vessel of the Emperor’s might. He had always thought the Thorians utterly, irredeemably mad… but now, how could he?
Caldor still had his blade raised for the death-blow, burning with rage. But before he delivered it, a voice spoke. It was warm, deep and spoke of power beyond measure. Was it his conscience? The Primarch, Sanguinius? The Emperor? Some voice from his long forgotten past, before he had been blessed with the power to destroy the enemies of Mankind? Whoever it was simply said, spare him. He held the blade high, but could not strike. Not yet.
Lelia stirred, groaning in pain. Her eyes opened, and she gasped at her master’s position. She leaped to her feet, then fell to a knee, still wracked with agony.
“Lelia… hush girl. Listen to me, as you always have,” Imloth spoke, softer than he had ever done in his tenure as her master, but also with thrice his age evident in his voice. He sighed. “The Amalathians will lead us to damnation. Do not follow in my footsteps- it is a tragic, sad path to take and a meaningless life to lead. I see that now. You must promise me,” he spoke each word slowly and resolutely, “promise me, please. You will contact the Thorians as soon as you can. Be a voice of support for the Brotherhood of Wrath, for I fear the damage I have already done is great. Do so for as long as you are able.”
She nodded, tears in her eyes. Imloth turned to Caldor.
“I have… committed crimes with which I cannot be allowed to live, much as I desire penance. Hundreds have died in the name of my ignorance and blindness. I beg the forgiveness of the Holy Emperor and his sons, your Chapter. As my executioner, I have one thing and one thing to ask…” The Inquisitor sighed, and took in a deep breath, steeling himself. “Make it quick.”
Caldor nodded. Lelia looked away, though she had seen worse.
“Emperor, forgive me…” the Inquisitor choked.
Those were his last words.
More from this arc to come; I've got two full stories this size written out, I just need to edit them... and get some feedback on this stuff. 10th_Lyran, get Adahn over here too! ;Y
A good enough ending I suppose, though it sounded a bit like the Soul Drinkers. The Inquisitor changed his mind a little too quick for me. It was still nicely written though, great job.
Member of the Fluffmasters Clan
I liked it, only two things I have to say:
1st. You named one of the characters Imloth Same as my 1st Captain. Lyran says it's a coinsidence, I don't know. If you like the name go ahead and keep it hehe, I plan on changing my 1st Captain's eventually anyway.
2nd. The Inquisitor, like Lyran said changed his mind a bit quickly - it felt a little rushed near the end, like you wanted to get to the last bit quite quickly.
3rd. When Imloth says "Oh, gods, the pain…." or thinks it, I think it should be more like "Oh, throne, the pain..." or "Oh, Emperor, the pain" since mentioning other gods is blasphemy I think.
That's it really ^^ Great story otherwise.