Master Of The Soul Reavers (sm) - Warhammer 40K Fantasy

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ravensdark's Avatar
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    (Heres soem fluff on the Grand Master of my Space marines. Its a small part of a much larger piece. I mean MUCH larger. Anyway enjoy)



    The two emerald pits of malevolence that were Chaos Lord Infectus’ eyes focused on the insane carnage below; he could see the daemons of Nurgle dancing through the black ranks of Soul Reavers their gangling distorted limbs lashing out to tear through both armour and flesh. The Nurglites scurried everywhere, their tiny disease ridden bodies clawing at the Soul Reavers feet, dragging many down into the sea of putrescence. If K’marack could keep summoning the creatures of their patron god then the tide would soon turn. He lifted his film-covered gaze to the sorcerer and the newly arrived Ravensdark. First he would deal with this nuisance.

    ‘Ravensdark, you pathetic worm.’ Infectus let his rotten voice carry every nuance of power he held inside him. It had been enough to make daemons quake in fear in the past but Ravensdark stood undaunted the eagle head at the butt of his scythe planted firmly on the marble floor. The Marine Lord stepped slowly closer, the plague flies and steaming vomit like air around him going unheeded as the metallic ring of his power scythe continually chimed against the floor with each step creating a menacing rhythm to the flexing of his bionic hand around his plasma pistol.

    The black marine raised his weapon and fired almost uncaringly at the chaos lord. Infectus did not even flinch as the screaming balls of plasma rocketed towards his massive frame. Lifting his palm upwards in a ‘halt’ gesture the shots seemed to explode only inches before hitting his armour, as if a vast invisible shield had materialized around him. Macharius continued moving slowly forward as if this show of his chaotic powers was no more impressive than an ordinary bolt shell. He continued firing, until the pistol overheated once more and fell from his metallic grasp with a heavy thud onto the marble floor. Infectus looked amusedly at the Soul Reaver, his twisted feature showing some semblance of a smile across his leech mouth.

    ‘How is your arm?’ came like the hissing of a furnace burning white hot from the Warlords cracked lips. Macharius halted in his advance his head tilting silently towards K’marack. Infectus shot his gaze over to the chanting figure of the Nurgle sorcerer standing amidst the butchered carcasses of what had been his retinue. A sickly multi-coloured aura of plague fluctuating around him as the arcane daemonic language spilled form his lips in a chilling monotone chant. He could see Macharius following his gaze back from the Son of Mortarion and onto him. The Soul Reaver hefted up his huge scythe in both hands before suddenly dashing with incredible speed. Taken off guard Infectus only managed to reach his pet sorcerer and fend off a blow that would have cloven K’marack in two. The emerald balefires of his daemonic axe flared like a sun as they met the cold energy of the scythe, the two ancient entities recognising each other from battle past. Infectus could feel the daemon within it writhe in pain as it battled the strange power within the Reavers’ own weapon; he pushed with all his might, his ten millennia old terminator armour straining against the press of Ravensdark’s muscles but with a roar of energy the Order Master backed away. Infectus knew he could not let his pet sorcerer die without finishing the summons.

    Ravensdark looked upon the huge figure of Infectus with smouldering eyes. The Chaos Lord towered over him in his bloated and split terminator armour by a clear two foot, a huge axe in one hand, a crackling chain fist in the other and for all Macharius’ worth he could not help but see a glimpse of Mortarion reflected in the chaos lord’s image. He needed to kill that sorcerer and end his foul magic but to do that he would first need to get past Infectus.

    The two began exchanging blows, axe and chain meeting blade and haft as they circled each other eyes locked in a link of pure hatred. Infectus kept pressing down with his immense strength drawing from the darkness in his tattered soul to power each strike so that they could have smashed a land raider in two, but each swipe was met by the scythe, flashing with incredible speed and ferocity. Infectus knocked away the scythe’s blade making it cut a ten inch deep jagged line through the marble floor; he swiped sideways with his axe forcing the Order master to jump back. He smiled as he suddenly lashed out with a blast of psychic energy, a multicolour bolt of pure blight crashing into the Soul Reaver. He knew the fool would not dismiss this power so readily.

    Macharius could feel the bolt hit him like a Krak missile forcing him back with sheer chaotic ferocity. A terrible sense of sickness filled his very core making him want to retch. He fought against it with all his will, the thousand verses of true faith screaming through his mind, focusing it on the banishment of the evil energy. The eye of the Imperial eagle on his chest plate began to burn brightly the ancient energy woven into his armour reinforcing his faiths resolve until with a mental roar the energy vanished into nothing.

    Infectus looked upon the Soul Reaver, almost impressed. He had struck out with all the terrible decrepit energies Nurgle had blessed him with and yet still the marine stood, but even more than that, he now seemed to stand taller than he had ever remembered, radiating a cold chilling power. Still it did not matter; he was nonetheless just a feeble ant compared to his evil majesty.



    ‘How long has it been brother Death Guard?’

    ‘Over three millennia Daemon,’ said Macharius calmly as he swung with the Sidith’Morr, the swipe was met by Infectus’ axe sending sparks flying, the chaos lord swung up with his chain-fist aiming it to bury in Ravensdark’s face the Order Lord only managing to swing up the haft of his weapon to deflect the ripping teeth of the chain-fist. Infectus pressed down with axe, chain and daemonic ire, Macharius barely being able to hold the two weapons against his scythe.

    ‘Three millennia, and you still fight in the name of that carcass, you call emperor?’ Infectus’ voice burned through his sucking mouth.

    ‘I fight for Redemption,’ yelled Macharius. Abruptly he stopped pushing back, the sudden quick release of opposition against Infectus making him stumble forward. Macharius leaned forward, the massive weight of the Chaos Lord landing on his back almost driving him to the floor. Quickly he activated his jump pack, grabbing Infectus in a bear hug around his waist. The jet pack rattled profusely as it battled against the combined weight of the two ancient warriors but with a blast the two figures screamed towards the wall of the chamber.

    The wind blasted out of Infectus’ rotten lungs as he smashed into the wall, masonry tumbling down on him as his gaze bore down on the puny Soul Reaver half buried in his chest-plate. Maggots and internal organs leaked out of the huge crack in his chest. His axe lay on the floor several meters away and his treasured chain-fist would not activate, the device smashed to pieces as it had struck the wall. Fury burned through his veins like molten rock, who was this insignificant maggot to harm him? Grasping his hands together he brought them down on the back of the Soul Reaver.

    Macharius was knocked to the floor as if a juggernaut had just landed on him. Infectus kicked out with his huge spiked boot, catching the Marine Lord full in the face as he rolled to get up. The marine flew back ten feet from the force of the blow, his ancient helm torn from his armour, while his hand lost its grasp of the Sidith’Morr; the weapon clattering to the ground while his body lay recumbent on the floor. Infectus strode forward, his eyes burning brighter as he felt his assured victory granted by the dark gods. Reaching out with his palm open in the direction of his axe, the evil weapon responded, flying straight into his rotten grasp. He looked down amusedly at the scythe at his feet, a fitting end to the Master Soul Reaver entering his warped mind as he reached down and picked it up.

    The weapon glowed for a second as if protesting against his daemonic touch; he simply ignored it overpowering the strange will he could feel within it. His death’s gaze glowed on Macharius as he looked down on him, letting his full foul splendour shine upon the fallen marine’s metallic skull.

    ‘Look at yourself Ravensdark. Your nothing but a ghost swirling around this machine body.

    Just as you; the weapon of the Imperium struck out at your own wielder all those millennia ago, so too shall you by smote by your own blade,’ he said mockingly before roaring. ‘Nurgle I send you a great sacrifice may this maggot’s soul grant you even greater majesty.’ He sent the scythe’s blade arcing towards Macharius’ head. Soon another enemy of the Lord of Pestilence would be extinguished by his servant’s hand. Then, as Infectus anticipated hearing a sickening slice as the blade passed through the marines flesh he felt a tremendous force fighting against him. The Soul Reaver glared at him, his face more metal than flesh, covered in terrible scars and thick aged lines. Red balefire burned from his bionic eye while a gaze as old as Mortarion’s himself looked on the terrible wasted face of Infectus. It was totally black, empty of all feeling or emotion like the void itself glaring up at him as the Marine Lord grasped the blade of the scythe between his palms, only inches from his face.

    ‘Mortis Incarnatus, Oblivion Incarmine,’ rang like the chill of death through Infectus’ spine even as he pressed down with all his might on the weapon. ‘Mortis Incarnatus, Oblivion Incarmine.’ The Soul Reaver began to press back forcing the blade away from his face and turning it aside with sheer force. His voice became louder and louder as he recited the ancient words of his order until it sounded like a choir of voices rang around the chamber. Infectus roared in his own anger sending his axe arcing down towards the rising warrior. In a movement faster than he could see Macharius wrenched the Sidith’Morr from the Chaos lords grasp and holding it out before him by the blade he deflected the axe swipe. He kicked out with all his strength, his boot crushing into the terminator’s chest plate and knocking Infectus away from him.

    ‘I AM DEATH GIVEN FORM,’ he roared as he rose to his feet grasping the Sidith’Morr in both his hands. ‘I AM THE BLACK ANGEL MADE FLESH,’ he swung with the might of a god. Infectus raised his axe to fend off the blow but with a psychic scream heard through the ether, the warp entity within the weapon shrieked in its death throes as its blade shattered. The cold gleaming edge of the scythe passed straight through his huge shoulder plate, the arcane armour offering little resistance to the righteous blow as it carved through his dead flesh cutting out from his body at the midriff. ‘I am death, and oblivion follows with me,’ spoke Macharius Ravensdark, Lord of the Soul Reavers with a voice colder than ice into Infectus’ ear. ‘Let it consume you in the eternal void.’ The green blaze disappeared from the Chaos Lord’s eyes, a look of complete bewilderment settling on his malformed face as his torso slipped away from his legs, black blood spraying out like a fountain.



    K’marack could feel the divine presence of his patron god as he continued to call forth his daemonic legions. The sheer unadulterated power rocking through him was more than enough to block out all senses except that of his minds link with the swirling warp. It was at these times, when he brought his full dark sorceries to their limit that he felt like a god in his own right, the rest of the universe seeming like nothing more than his playground and the creatures within it little more than his play things.

    A howling scream slowly reached his ears, as another of his gods gibbering plague bearing children raced through the ether to the feeding. No… that was no hungry daemon, it was almost like a blade cutting through air. A hollow, mocking laughter filled his ears; it was the mirth of an amused god as the Sorcerer’s life ended with one clean swipe. The huge maw of Nurgle opened the very pit of eternal disease gaping wide as it swallowed just another play thing.



    The cold fury leaving him, Macharius tore his blade free from the fallen sorcerer and staggered over to the huge window overlooking the hive. The battle still raged furiously but already the chaos warriors were being outnumbered as tactical squads from War-cast Tethys began to break into the inner areas of the immense city, followed by huge dreadnoughts ripping into the Death Guard traitors and Nurgle daemons alike. Macharius knew the renegades were far from crushed in the huge citadel, yet with the death of their lord and with no more daemons slithering forth from the warp their annihilation had begun. A terrible weariness suddenly washed over him, the weight of his armour almost too much for him to bear. He detached his jump-pack, the heavy metal crashing to the floor. He turned to look at it seeing the huge crater in its centre where Infectus had landed his blow; it had probably saved his life, but was nothing more than a piece of scrap now.

    His eyes suddenly jumped to the dissected body of the chaos lord as it began to twitch. ‘You don’t know when to die do you brother.’ Calmly Macharius strode over to his helm picking it up and once again connecting it to his armour before moving over to Infectus’ body. Seeing the infernal light of the damned mans eyes rekindle weakly he laughed an empty laugh. Reaching down to his belt he removed a plasma grenade, setting the timer as he moved closer to the leech mouth of the chaos lord.



    Infectus could feel life return to his body as every last ounce of his chaotic soul clung to the last vestiges of mortal being. His eyes crept open, yet his body would not respond to its commands. He cursed. A shadow fell across his face and a grinning skull leered down upon him, a plasma grenade in its hand. He tried to spit his contempt but before he could Macharius slammed the grenade into his mouth, the cold metal grinding against his nail like teeth. A loud whining rose in the air then a click and he knew no more.

    <span style='color:red'>&quot;Right lads, lets make a tactical advance to the rear of our posistion&quot;
    &quot;Errr do you mean run away?&quot;
    &quot;Thats the one&quot;</span>

    &quot;Oh man, look at that.&quot;
    &quot;Where?&quot;
    &quot;Over there, by that river of boiling souls.&quot;
    &quot;Well I&#39;ll be damned... it&#39;s a Starbucks.&quot;

    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/ravensdark/' target='_blank'>THE SOUL REAVERS</a>
    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/gaeisia/index.htm' target='_blank'>GAESIA</a>

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  3. #2
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    Not bad at all....

    Are you going to post the next instalment?

    :a
    Whoso would be a man must be a non conformist
    People should be taught what is, not what should be.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Ravensdark's Avatar
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    Cheers.

    It&#39;s not realy part of an installment, in fact its kind of near the end of a bigger piece. (nice one i know, give away the ending).

    Anyway the whole thing is like 20000 words long, but in several pieces. It jumps alot as new ideas crop into my head and i get bored with others.

    I&#39;ll post the rest of it up untill its starts jumping but its bloody long.

    anyway here goes, i hope i can post this much.


    DARK HORIZONS
    A Tale of the Soul Reavers Order of Space Marines


    ‘Brothers, today we fight in the name of our Lord and Savior Hieronymus, in the name of the Emperor and in the name of Redemption. We shall reap a terrible harvest upon those that befoul mankind and challenge the Divine light. All shall tremble before us; they shall fear the righteous shadow that we shall cast upon them; for we are the children of Hieronymus, the Harbingers of death, and the reapers of souls. Let them feel oblivion.’

    Words of Lord Macharius Ravensdark, Order Master of the Soul Reavers, recorded before the Tyranid extermination of Espredeas III.

    The void drifted onwards endlessly outside the vast ornate armour-glass window. A massive robed figure stood immobile before it, his hands held cupped together behind his back. His gaze lay fixed on the eternal night before him, his eyes wandering over the distant stars and nebulae, a thousand thoughts revolving through his mind. His head turned slowly to the right his vision fixing on the far end of the vast portal as a point of shining black metal began to emerge in the distance, slowly growing larger as it crept along his sight. The prow of the strike-cruiser Defiant drifted past, followed by its long armoured decks leading towards the keel drives. He could clearly see the thousands of tiny dots that crossed its surface as the artificial daylight within shone out through the viewing screens, the bionic iris in the place of his left eye narrowed, enhancing his vision allowing him to pick out the distant shadows of adepts, engineers and marines scanning down the long halls that criss-crossed the metal behemoth. The craft continued onwards until its main engines came into view, burning an incredible blue; spewing plasma out into space and bathing the chamber from which the figure watched in its light, sending monstrous shadows flickering along the bulkheads of the room. It propelled onwards until only a glow of incandescence shone in the opposite corner of the window which itself soon disappeared.

    The figure turned; his artificial eye burning a baleful crimson and sending a small pinprick of red moving over the room. Unclasping his hands he strode across the dark tapestries that covered the floor over to the opposite side of his chambers. He reached the far wall, a perfectly smooth sheet of black and white marble. Raising his arm he placed it on the smooth surface, the artificial fibre-bundle muscles and electromagnetic synapses in the mechanical limb giving off only the slightest of hissing as he pushed forward with his palm.

    A moment later where the surface of the wall had been smooth: four seams began to appear across its surface each splitting perfectly down and across the wall until they met forming a small rectangle of white around his metallic hand. He removed the artificial limb letting the small rectangle slide away into the rest of the wall to reveal a small data console. He depressed a single round button, its surface lighting up to reveal an ancient rune burning in red. He pressed another, this time a rune glowed in emerald green. He continued with the sequence he had used a thousand times before, until a low hum reached his ears. He stepped back as the whole wall now began to fold in on itself in an intricate display of sliding and revolving marble, snaking silently away to reveal the secret compartment. He stepped through, a golden light shining down from above him; his ancient armoured suit standing before him, almost crucified against the wall with arms spread wide, beckoning him forward.

    He stepped up to it, turning around so his back faced the suit. In response the armour began to open, like an ancient metal cocoon cracking open down invisible seams. He let the long robes fall from his shoulders revealing the skin tight synth-skin suit that covered his heavily muscled body. He took a step backwards, his back connecting into the interior of the armour; thousands of tiny input / output ports linking into his spine and major nerve systems in an instant as the armour began to close around him, making it a living, feeling part of him. A second skin. He looked at his natural arm as the micro-sensors in the armoured gauntlet of the suit imbedded into his wrist and palm before the armour completely enclosed around his fist. The same happened across the entire surface of his body until finally only his head was left uncovered by the intricate patterns and runes of his ten millennia old power armour.

    The marine stepped forward, the power cables and feed lines that had attached the suit to the ships power grid detaching with loud snaps and hisses. He stretched out his arms wide, gyrating his shoulders, making sure the fit was perfect even though he knew it always would be. Finally he stepped over to a pedestal in the chamber, on top of which sat a black box about fifty centimetres by fifty and carved with thousands of runes and aeon old wards. On the top of the device was what looked like a pane of opaque silver glass, he placed his gauntlet down on it, the glass beginning to glow a pale green as a thin beam of light passed over the surface of the pane and under his hand. The box gave out a low beep before the lid of the box segmented into four triangles each opening and sliding into the walls of the box before they fell down and outwards.

    A grimacing silver skull face leered at him, two orbs of implacable black glaring out from metallic sockets. Leads ran from the back of the skull down across the jaw-line before connecting into the evil grinning mouth of the skull. He reached down and picked up the helmet, its familiar weight resting reassuringly in his hands. Placing it above his head he lowered it down until it connected with the neck of his armour, clicking and locking into place, he was now prepared.

    The figure moved quickly out of the secret compartment, activating the sacred runes that sealed the wall behind him. Just as the last seam disappeared into the smooth marble a low deep gong rang through the chambers.

    ‘Enter,’ the figure spoke, his voice powerful and resonant yet cold, almost like a harsh whisper. Two huge doors swung inward immediately letting light spill into the gloomy room, a large figure stood beneath the great arch of the doorway outlined by the ships interior illumination. The man moved forwards two steps, then knelt down on one knee, letting the long thick blue cloak that marked him as a Librarian droop forward over his armoured shoulders. Thumping his right fist to his chest he began to speak.

    ‘My Lord, the remainder of the fleet has arrived in system and is heading towards our location around the sixth planet of the binary star.’ His voice was also strong but deeper and more guttural than his commanders and with an intangible quality of raw power held within it.

    ‘Good, rise my old friend,’ replied the Lord stepping up to his companion. The marine before him drew himself up to his fullest height, his un-helmeted face staring deeply into his master’s helm. The lord stared back from behind his helm into the always severe and solemn face of Nicoli Malfus. ‘Have we received anything on the long range scans, Nicoli?’

    ‘No Lord, our auguries have detected no enemy fleet or any navel craft in the system, the Pax Imperialis and the Hammer of Fire have both moved on ahead of the main fleet some ten hours ago to conduct closer sensor sweeps.’

    ‘And, have you found anything Nicoli?,’ replied the Lord inquisitively, he had learned long ago to trust the Chief Librarian of the Order and his closest comrade more than any long range ship scan.

    At those words Nicoli’s face became even graver than it usually was. ‘I sense a great disturbance in the warp my Lord, something of great importance is to happen on this planet which we now move towards. I have probed the webs of fate and the Emperors Tarot all of which point to something dark and terrible on the way.’ He paused for a second almost considering whether to speak but one glance at the skull mask before him and he continued. ‘My Lord, last night I was granted a vision... a vision of the stars being blotted out by festering ships, vast and dark emerald craft circling and swallowing, a lone craft bearing the brunt of a terrible energy.’ Behind the helm, the face of the Lord remained stonily cold and calm.

    ‘I have felt something dark on the horizon for some time as well, inform your brother-Librarians to continue scanning the warp and to inform you of any disturbance,’

    ‘As always my Lord,’ replied Nicoli.

    ‘No matter how small,’ stressed the Lord, an unmistakable hint of malice entering his voice. Nicoli’s eyes lowered for an instant, unable to keep contact with his master’s glare even from behind the blank eyes of his helmet. ‘Now, the bridge.’ Nicoli nodded slowly and turned striding out of the room, the Space Marine Lord followed.

    =====

    The vast doors swung closed again as the lord strode out into a huge metallic hallway. Either side of the entrance to the chambers stood three huge immobile marines at perfect attention, each in their full power armour, suits of jet black criss-crossed with silver emblems and the insignia of the Order emblazoned upon their left shoulder plates, a huge grinning silver skull bordered by metallic bones around the outer edge of the plates. Each held a long staff like weapon ending in a glowing electric blue blade. They stepped forward in unison, six heavy boots smashing down onto the decking beneath.

    The hall before them was full of adepts, technicians and servitors all going about a hundred assignments to repair the flagship of the fleet; the ‘Shadow of Judgement’ and return her to prime operational status. As the Lord stepped out the passing adepts stopped to salute before quickly carrying on about their business.

    The six marines; the personal guard of Lord Macharius Ravensdark, Grand Master of the Soul Reavers Order of space marines formed about their commander, the guards dubbed the Shadow Wraiths following their lord on his way through the ship towards the central command bridge.

    ====

    On the bridge of the Shadow of Judgement a hundred tech-adepts sat at a hundred control consoles, each biomechanically connected into the ships systems via cerebral data nodes, power feeds and neural links. Screens flashed as countless terraquads of binary and mechanicus code was relayed from the nine hundred and eighty decks of the massive Arcadia class dreadnought. Information screamed past the hundred silent faces, data dumps into the ships central memory core took place every nanosecond as the passive tactical systems of the craft came on-line.

    The master of the ship, Jacobas Kell, turned and saluted as Lord Ravensdark entered the bridge, Chief Librarian Malfus and the Wraiths following behind. The six bodyguards spread out to the back of the bridge beneath the towering twenty-foot communication screen again snapping into perfect attention while Macharius and Nicoli stepped up to the central control deck where Jacobas stood overlooking the bridge.

    ‘My Lord,’ spoke Jacobas, his voice sounding mechanical and synthesised as it emanated from the complex breathing apparatus covering the lower portion of his face. His bionic iris opened fully as he looked up into the mask of his Lord.

    ‘Open communication link with Captain Elson on the Pax Imperialis,’ said Macharius turning to the view screen behind. Jacobas nodded before linking into to the comm-grid on one of the many consoles before him. On the view screen a crackle of static began to glow before a smaller version of the ships bridge lurched into focus. A marine turned to face the screen. Aboard the strike cruiser Pax Imperialis first Captain Elson of the fourth company snapped into attention. The image of Macharius appeared on the screen.

    ‘Brother Elson has your scan revealed anything.’

    ‘Yes Lord Ravensdark, we have detected a large debris field around the second moon of the third planet. We need to move into a closer orbit to complete a full scan, but our readings suggest the debris belongs to imperial system ships,’ there was a short pause; ‘twenty five at our best guess sir.’

    ‘And the planet?’

    ‘Dead sir, no biosigns, no radio traffic. All major Hives appear to have been reduced to rubble. Total decimation.’

    Elson could see Ravensdark turning to someone at his side and exchanging words before turning back to him. ‘Proceed with extreme caution Elson; Brother Malfus has felt something stirring in the Empyrean.’

    ‘Yes my lord,’ said Elson turning to the bridge crew as he began to bark orders, ‘Ship to silent running, red alert. All gun crews to stations, repair crews on standby.’ The bridge became a hive of activity as the tech-adepts began to implicate the orders. The bridge lights changed from a light yellow to a deep blue as the ship shut down all unnecessary external systems. Macharius voice returned over the comm.

    ‘Captain, notify the Hammer of Fire to move in for support. The main fleet will remain in orbit around the sixth planet under low power but I am sending Commander Rath and the Orpheus closer in system in case of an ambush. May the Founder watch over you.’

    ‘May the Founder watch over you,’ replied Elson. With that the communication link snapped off, the view screens on both ships fading to black. Elson returned his attention to his ship and his first officer.

    ‘Lieutenant, signal the Hammer of Fire to take up escort position on our aft and to go to red alert,’ said the Captain, his lieutenant saluting before relaying the message. Elson reached down and activated the vox to the fighter bay speaking his calm measured voice into it.

    ‘Master of Bays, prepare three wings of thunderhawks for recon into the debris field, equip for fast burn retrieval, over.’ The vox remained silent for a second before a torn, gruff voice replied.

    ‘Aye Captain, three wings, fast burn recon, aye.’ The vox turned off. Elson stared out of the bridge and over the half mile of his ship towards the planet ahead of them, drifting slowly closer through the void. He sent a silent prayer to the Fallen Lord and the Emperor; somehow he knew that this day would not end without blood.

    ====

    Back on board the Shadow of Judgement Ravensdark sat in the command chair of the bridge, looking through tactical data, structure schematics and the history of the system they now rested in. The system had been designated ‘Erynies’ by explorator vessel ‘Dawn Chorus’ in the early thirty third millennium before being colonized two millennia later. The only habitable planet had been Erynies III, a sigma two class world, mainly barren rock and some equatorial jungle with vast deposits of iron ore, a chemical and structural equivalent of adamantium and some small areas of gem. As with most planets its colonisation had begun with a large mining settlement but as the extent of the mining opportunities was discovered the planet had flourished. By the thirty sixth millennia five major Hives had been constructed, mainly on the ruins of the mining complexes. Total population had reached over one hundred and fifty billion souls. Some small rebellions against the planetary governance had taken place but had been quickly quelled by the PDF (Planetary Defence Force) and Adeptus Arbites. By normal standards the hive world had been well defended. Two main polar defence silos, over thirty planet-side laser batteries, a large detachment of Imperial Guard; the ‘Erynies Full Metal 1st regiment’, numerous system craft and the main space-station for the sub-sector; ‘Port Imbargo’. Whatever had assailed the planet had attacked in great force. ====

    As Macharius scanned through the recent intelligence reports on the system he came across something unusual. The screen before him suddenly blazed in a warning red, the insidious seal of the Inquisition appearing on the computer monitor. This was unusual; this area of space was far flung even for the long reach of the Inquisition, the sacred covert arm of Terra was rarely concerned with the outer rim territories. Macharius leaned back in the command chair, concentration covering what parts of his face still capable of expression behind his mask. A few moments later he leaned forward again and begun punching in several buttons on the console before him. The by-pass codes worked after several attempts, the stark red background on the screen fading to a placid blue as green high-gothic text began to print itself over the seal of the Inquisition. Translated it read ‘Secure code accepted, Inquisitorial File Gamma Ectis 37U/T opened.’ The display suddenly became alive with scrolling text, schematics and more files leading to reports, inquiries and Inquisitorial assessments. Macharius quickly read through the sealed file, mentally highlighting certain points of what had seemed to be a thorough and severe report.

    He finished; downloading the report onto a data-slab and imputing it into the main memory core for future reference. He sat back in his chair. It seemed that there had been more than just a few riots in Erynies III’s long history. For almost the past two centuries the planetary government had been waging a war against a vast cult that had apparently sprung up over night. The sect known as the ‘Order of the True Faith’ had begun as just another Imperial religious group but secretly it had been amassing a large army and was planning a coup. When the Order had struck it had borne the banner of the Chaos gods and taken many strategic points in the planetary defence network aswell as slaughtered nearly half the inhabitants of Fobos Hive, the third largest population centre on the planet. It had only been after the assassination of the Orders Deacon by Officio Assassinorium agents under request by the Inquisition that the PDF was able to crush the rebellion in its ‘reported’ entirety. However Inquisitor Stone who had been the first to arrive on the scene suspected that the Order had not been completely wiped out and that its true purpose had not been the overthrow of the Government but the retrieval of alien xeno-artefacts or pre-Imperial technology, possibly even a salvageable STC unit (standard template construct). He remained on the planet continuing his investigation for almost one standard Terra year before being recalled by the Inquisition. When Macharius had tried to access Stone’s files, they had been sealed at a clearance level beyond even his own secret codes.

    As he slumped back his mind began to wander, as it had been doing so ever more often for the past few years of his long life. He had found himself constantly retreating within himself, conversing with his soul and memory as if they were tangible beings. He had began to worry whether he was slipping into madness, if so many centuries of ceaseless violence had finally began to take a toll on his spirit. His eyes closed behind his helm, he slipped within.

    ====

    Shadowy shapes flittered before his eyes. The twilight of his inner being stained the illusionary sky, the echoes of his movements hammering through the grey valley in which he always found himself standing. From out of the brooding clouds above flew a huge crystal, plummeting to the ground. It impacted silently, cracking into three shards. Each shard fell down and away from the others before lifting themselves back up so they stood quivering an inch above the floor, like floating mirrors of diamond. From within each stepped a figure, merging out of the crystal and forming into a solid shape. Each was identical to the other. A young man; fit and healthy; jet black hair flowing over his shoulders, not a single scratch adorning his muscular body. Macharius knew… as he always did he was looking upon himself; as he once was.

    ‘Brother, it has been long since your last visit. Your mind has wandered far before returning to this place,’ spoke one of the men, his voice chill and ghostly. A second began to speak.

    ‘What troubles you father. Nothing is at ill is it?’ The third spoke.

    ‘There is always ill in the outside. Always death, always pain, always anguish. Is that not right my son?’ Two cold dark eyes shone at Macharius as the apparition talked. Macharius slumped down, the rock at his feet erupting noiselessly, wrapping and forming into a chair on which he sat. He spoke.

    ‘This place which we near troubles me greatly. I feel that this Erynies holds some dark secret on its ravaged surface and that many brothers will lose their lives to discover the truth.’ The first man stepped closer.

    ‘Such is the way of our quest Brother. Many of our Order have died and will continue to do so for much time to come.’

    ‘But for how long,’ he said in a growl ‘how long has it been? How many wars have I fought? How many millennia have we struggled in the name of the Father; our Saviour and the great Emperor. For how long has our Order repented, made up for its ancient crimes? Expunged the darkness within our hearts. And how much more time must we spend redeeming ourselves before we are even acknowledged by our humanity.’ The three men stepped closer to the chair their ghostly voices speaking in unison.

    ‘Far too long, brother, father, son. The past can never be re-written, changed or altered. We have battled for our salvation, our very sanity. You know within that we have succeeded, that the Emperor has forgiven us in his wisdom, even if the ones who rule in his name have not. You know you do not fight for the past anymore for it is a pointless war. But now you endeavour for the future, as Hieronymus did ten millennia ago when he took the faithful from the brink of the Arch traitors madness’ There was a long pause as Macharius sat, contemplating; the three apparitions of his inner self standing immobile about him. The silence broke as the second man spoke.

    ‘I know what you think of, your fight will never bring them back father, and nothing can. Our loved ones died long ago. They are now dust and bones.’

    ‘But I must see them again.’ Macharius suddenly yelled, rising from the chair and lashing out at it with his fist. The sky turned a blood red and chain lightning crackled above as the stone chair smashed into a thousand pieces.

    ‘You will brother, you will. But your life has much more to give before it may return to the Emperors light in its eternal rest. You are the shadow; you are the silent harbinger for all those who oppose the light. We are the bearer of Hieronymus’… our Saviour’s crusade. And because of that you must continue on.’ The skies calmed and settled, returning to their sombre advance through the heavens. Macharius breathed out deeply, his eyes closing.

    ‘I know.’

    His eyes slowly opened, looking back out onto the bridge of the Shadow of Judgment. He knew he had drifted for only a heartbeat.

    ====

    Macharius studied the projected system map as he had done so for several hours as the Pax and the Hammer had continued its scans. The vast three dimensional image hovered five foot above the tactical hologram emitter in the centre of the bridge. It revolved slowly, the planets displayed by large brown spheres, asteroid fields in yellow, moons in grey all displayed on a slightly green spherical backdrop covered in trajectory lines. The great map slowly became more detailed as the sensor information from the Pax was relayed back to the fleet but so far revealing nothing that was not already known had been uncovered.

    He could clearly see around the sixth planet the mass of the assembled fleet, one of the Order’s three Apocalypse class heavy cruisers; the Cerberus, two of the fleets five Hades class battlebarges, nine of the twenty five strike cruisers, and over sixty assorted escort and support ships. The ships not present were all on missions around the sector, standard patrols, tracking pirates, assaulting enemy held systems or still at dock around the Orders homeworld of Thanatos. The main bulk of the fleet was only now present after the Tyranid incursion of Espredeas and several craft were still terribly undermanned and damaged. Macharius still cursed the dreaded alien monstrosities and knew that even the eradication of the hive fleet would not mean the end of their accursed endeavours into imperial space.

    Only the Shadow of Judgement itself had finally broken through the hideous bio-ships of the Tyranid armada and directly assaulted the Hive ship, finally teleporting aboard and torching the hive mind that had been present. Remembering the hell spawned creature through which the incomprehensible hive-mind had acted made even Macharius shiver. He blotted out the memory returning to the scanner seeing the Arcadia class dreadnought, the only ship of its kind in the Imperium represented as a tiny blip on the hologrid. The craft dwarfed even the mile long heavy cruisers of the fleet at twice their length and nearly three times their mass, and with the firepower of three Retribution class battleships incorporated into its behemoth hull; it was more a moving star-port than a ship. Still it had only just been enough and was now after five months operating at only 70%. Over nine millennia in the making but nearly destroyed in only a day.

    On the map the fleet appeared as varying sizes of blue markers the Shadow of Judgement at the rear of the formation. Ravensdark knew that at his disposal was one of the most powerful ships and most destructive fleet in the Imperium but he had learned long ago that caution was one of the greatest strategies at a commanders disposal. He reached forward punching in buttons on the command console, in response the map revolved quickly and zoomed in on to the third planet and the nearby area. There slowly creeping towards the planets second moon were two faint grey blips, their power outputs reduced to almost zero as they moved in silent running.

    He moved the view out further to reveal the first four planets onto which was entering a larger blue icon, the Orpheus the second Apocalypse class battlebarge in the fleet. He turned to Nicoli who was standing on the far side of the bridge overlooking several consoles, two lower ranking Librarians at his side. Sensing Macharius’ gaze the psyker turned and moved over to the command console where he stood. As he stepped up Macharius punched in another code on the console bringing up the newest section of scan data that had been relayed, Nicoli turned to the system chart as it span round and magnified on sector 89H/JY3, an area near the second planet containing a large asteroid belt. Macharius pointed an armoured finger at it and began to speak.

    ‘Here, this asteroid belt has just been scanned. It is inside the first solar radiation disk, and currently on the dark side of this planet,’ he pointed to a small brown sphere travelling close to the second sun. ‘The radiation levels here are high enough to block our sensor sweeps, perfect to hide an enemy fleet.’ Macharius understood the question.

    ‘Yes, but the radiation is also high enough to seriously damage any ship foolish enough to hide there,’ replied Nicoli stonily.

    ‘The asteroids could provide adequate cover from the radiation and considering the size of the belt, enough cover to hide a significant presence.’ There was a second’s pause as Nicoli considered this, he made to reply but Macharius cut him short. ‘Master of the ship, contact the Pax. Jacobas began activating systems calmly. A red flash suddenly crossed his face as a screen lit up and he began frantically pressing buttons and switches while looking at the series of monitors, a worried expression crossing his face.

    ‘My Lord we cannot raise them... or the Hammer. Our hails are being blocked. Our scans register no natural inhibitors. Sir they… and the Orpheus just disappeared from our scans.’ Macharius slammed his fist down on to the console, the crystal pane covering the screen cracking under the blow.

    ‘Power up all drives, bring full tactical online. Make maximum speed towards the third planet.’ The deck shunted violently forward and then shuddered as the main drives came online at full output. The view ahead lurched as the gyro thrusters on the ship adjusted its heading. The ships in the rest of the fleet began to move to safe distances as the flagship broke formation, the leviathan ploughing forward.

    Macharius turned to Nicoli, the Librarians face crossed with concentration and pain, his eyes were closed but a dim red light burned behind them. His eyelids snapped open, the light fading in an instant. He turned to Macharius.

    ‘My Lord, the vision. We must make absolute haste or we will lose many brothers this day.’

    Turning to the secondary comms officer Macharius began barking more orders. ‘Contact the Orpheus, output at maximum frequency, we may be able to contact them before they are swallowed by the inhibitor field; they are to make best speed towards the Pax and Hammer’s last known positions at red alert. Bring up the fleet.’ The officer began relaying the orders to several adepts at comm stations at his feet before patching in to his own station and activating a link to every ship in the fleet.

    ‘My Lord, channel open.’ Eight holo-screens instantly appeared in front of Macharius, each containing a stone chiselled face as a direct visual link to the captains of the main battleships and the higher ranking officers of the strike-cruisers in the fleet was made.

    ‘This is Lord Ravensdark to all ship commanders, engage ‘draconis directive’, repeat engage ‘draconis directive’ all assigned combat vessels power up to optimum combat readiness and follow the Shadow’s trajectory, enter into omega formation. Prepare all fighter and torpedo bays. Commander Grathus hold back with the Cerberus and take up guard of auxilla craft. A scar faced grey hared marine nodded on one of the holo-screens.

    ‘My lord, the enemy?’ asked a younger looking marine with long almost animal like hair flowing down across his face. Macharius switched a control on the cracked console before him, cutting the comm feed to the rest of the fleet and opening a secure line to each of the commanders before him.

    ‘Unknown brother Jakkall. Contact with advanced assets has been lost; it appears a trap has been sprung.’ He raised his voice to address all the officers before him ‘But we will not be caught by it. The Orpheus is heading to support the Pax and the Hammer. We will move to engage at full speed.

    ‘But my Lord it will take nearly twenty hours to reach the Orpheus from our current location,’ came another gruff voice.
    Macharius nodded, he already knew it would take too much time.

    ‘I know,’ boomed the marine Lord’s voice. ‘You are all to maintain best speed, the Shadow will warp closer in system using the stabilizer drive.’ The faces of the captains were passed over quickly with shock. Captain Jakkall was the only to speak.

    ‘It is too dangerous my Lord, the stabilizer drive is still in its experimental phase and the grav-wells of the surrounding planets could rip the ship apart especially after the damage incurred by the Tyranid scum. The Orpheus will be able to hold of any ships while we advance; it would take more than five cruisers to quickly overwhelm her.’ Macharius gaze shot towards the image of Jakkall his one eye burning behind his grinning skull faced mask.

    ‘Lord Malfus has foreseen its destruction; I will not lose a single brother to a trap into which I have led them.’ His cold voice contained enough malice to make even the veteran captain lower his eyes. ‘Now proceed at maximum speed, we WILL re-establish contact with the fleet on exit of the jump, Shadow of Judgement out.’ He slammed his fist down on a rune, cutting the comm. He pressed another opening the ships interior tannoy.

    ‘All hands prepare for emergency warp jump. Seal all bulkheads and bays, report to emergency stations. Drive quarter activate the deuterium catalyst on completion of isolation procedures. Astro-navigation, all trajectory data being relayed via subcommand. Master Navigator report on condition after celeritous assessment. Tactical bring all weapon systems on-line and have them tracking hostile targets on exit of the jump, load remaining Ares class vortex torpedoes in all tubes. Engineering prepare capacitor transfer, and gyro-stabilisation for Deimos lance array, set for emergency plasma coolant injection.... May the Founder watch over us all.’ He cut the line. He glowered down on the variety of monitors around him for over thirty minutes watching and controlling the procedures taking place all across the ship.

    Jacobas turned towards the main command console, doubt evident in his good eye. His voice could be heard to waver slightly even through the vocal synthesiser and breathing equipment enwrapping his mouth and throat.

    ‘My Lord, navigation has predicted a three hour travel time using a twenty percent output wave formation. Any more and we put the ship in extreme danger. Even at one fifth output a sixty percent probability of major damage from the grav-wells on exit of the gate is forecast. Catalyst sequence has been engaged and all quarters are secure... your orders sir.’ Macharius sat down in the vast throne like command chair at his side and turned towards Jacobas uttering a single word.

    ‘Activate.’

    ====

    Commander Grathus looked out on to the huge bulk of the Shadow of Judgement on the imager enhancer from the bridge of the Cerberus as the flagships immense drives propelled it forward. Around the ship he could see the rest of the fleet making fast process while the Shadow’s void shields begin to flare an eerie green as chain lightning began to crackle over their surface. A tiny split of light formed in front of the vast ship many many kilometres from the Cerberus’ bridge and the watching marines.

    The light began to widen into an oval shape, a sea of brilliant blue, red and purple swaying and flowing behind it. The image began to flicker with static as wispy tendrils of light reached out of the forming gate as it continued to grow vaster and vaster, the vine like illuminations wrapping around the black hull of the Shadow. After a minute the gate reached the end of its growth and with what seemed like an almighty push from her drives the Shadow and her crew hurtled into the light and disappeared, the wave form collapsing in an instant. Grathus bowed his head and prayed.

    ====

    Elson cursed as another blast shook the ship, a wave of fire crossing past the main screen.

    ‘By the Emperor, where are they coming from,’ he yelled.

    ‘Captain, our sensor grid has been knocked down and are passive scans aren’t showing anything,’ replied the lieutenant having to yell over the sound of another blast. The ship had come under attack twenty minutes before; a barrage of torpedoes had struck the hull destroying the launch bays and the scanning array. They didn’t even know who was attacking. An incandescent flash seared across the armour-glass screen as a lance blast narrowly missed the bridge. Elson grabbed hold of a metallic railing as the entire ship banked to avoid any more incoming fire.

    ‘Tactical calculate enemy weapons trajectory from that damm lance blast.’ The tactical officer nodded and began ordering the tech adepts about him. Another blast hit the ship; a nearby adept began to scream as flickering blue flashes of light sprang from the console before him, wrapping and coiling up along the power leads that connected him to the ships matrix. The scream stopped suddenly as the adept slumped forward, acrid smoke rising from his metal cranium.

    The tactical officer turned sharply to Elson and began relaying a series of co-ordinates.

    ‘Trajectory, bearing 8, 5 mark 9, 2, distance 150 klicks, down mark 3, 7 at best approximation Captain.’ A sneer came across Elson face as he began shouting orders.

    ‘It will have to do. Launch all starboard torpedoes, full spread. Broadside batteries commence sixty second plasma bombardment.’ There was a serious of loud crashes and the noise of titanic machines whirring as fast as they could.

    ‘Torpedoes away, full spread captain.’ Another wave shook through the deck. ‘Sir, receiving burst transmission from the Hammer. They have re-established passive short ranged scans and augury patterns and are transmitting all data to our central memory core. We keep picking up intermittent signals from the Orpheus, she appears to be on a closing vector; no signal being received from the fleet.’ Both good news and bad news thought Elson as the main sensor hologram flashed back into life in the centre of the bridge. He could see a wave of small blue indicators smashing into a hostile ship as the torpedoes found their mark, the resulting explosion tearing the craft apart and causing the hostile marker to fade and die. He activated the view screen, focusing onto the enemy ships. There was a constant snow covering the screen as it came to life but slowly out of the static haze he could see a wave of decrepit dark green ships, purple lances flashing out from them. ‘Chaos Renegades…’ he said in a low growl.

    ‘Lock on all lances, lay down a full bombardment on the lead cruiser, maximum power. Show these traitorous vermin that the harvest has come.’ Roared Elson as his gaze burned into the warped puss green ships. The crew did not even need to answer as the hatred of their captain seemed to filter into each of them.

    The main view screen seemed to explode in light as the dorsal lances fired in unison, intense beams of light erupting from the vast arrays, the electrical discharge visibly crackling across the vast turrets as chain lightning before being re-integrated into the ships power grid. The energy rays stabbed out through the empty void before smashing into the lead chaos cruiser. The configured weapons sliced straight through the shields only a faint wave of dark purple energy rippling from the point of contact to show they had struck. The armoured prow of the chaos cruiser twisted and rent in an instant, huge explosions tearing through its decks as secondary munitions were detonated. The cruiser banked off immediately only managing an insignificant spray of laser fire in return. Elson let out a deep held breath before barking more orders at the crew about him.

    ====

    The vast bulk of the Orpheus made full speed towards the raging fires of battle ahead; wave after wave of torpedoes launched from its prow followed by wings of thunderhawks, their plasma trails looking like the slender strings of a spider’s web as they glittered and then quickly faded.

    Far ahead of the heavy cruiser could be seen the Pax and the Hammer, a steady stream of mutated torpedoes closing in on the strike cruisers, each leaving what seamed more like a trail of slime than plasma streams, only to be shot down by laser turrets and the dwindling number of thunderhawks that had been launched before the attack and the apparent destruction of the Pax’s launch bays. From the direction of the torpedoes and missile blasts the first ships of the chaos fleet were already advancing, two murder class cruisers, horribly rotten and bloated leading the assault on the desperately outnumbered Astartes craft. Another intense beam of purple stabbed out from the lead cruiser, the wave tearing through the thick armour of the Pax leaving a gaping wound in the side of the ship, the strange glint of internal plasma fires making the hole seem like it was infected with some virulent infection. The strike cruisers gyro thrusters ignited swerving the vast bulk around in a tight arc to protect its weakened side while simultaneously launching its own wave of torpedoes accompanied by the mass drivers of its surviving weapons array in reply to the chaos onslaught.

    The Hammer moved slowly compared to its usual graceful flight as the vast arrangement of engines and thrusters at its rear spluttered through torn cracks in the drive housings. A wave of torpedoes ripped through the last vestiges of its prow shielding before the fighter bay seemed to crumple in on itself under the glowing blasts of detonating warheads, liquid fire spraying forth over the ancient hull.

    Commander Rath stared intently as the counter wound down on the tactical screen, the numbers that indicated when the heavy cruisers main weapons would be at optimum range decreasing far too slowly for a marine who could see his brothers being blasted out of the stars before his eyes. Reports began to flood in from the various adept stations that rowed along the main bridge as the first wave of torpedoes made their mark. They had been launched too far away to create any serious damage but the initial spread was making the chaos cruisers adjust their heading away from the badly damaged strike cruisers.

    ‘Commander, long range active scans still being disrupted by the blocking emissions, close range passive scans being badly distorted but we have established data on hostile fleet assets.’ Rath nodded towards the marine who had just addressed him. The marine took it to begin reciting the enemy numbers. ‘Four cruisers of varying class in the lead, two of which have taken some damage from our forces weapons. One battleship on closing vector, similar to Desolator pattern, over sixteen escort sized vessels. But they all seem corrupted, their power signatures are erratic. Astropath Magus reports warp echoes indicating a possible larger contingent of hostile ships en route. Sir the Desolator is producing a strange wave form… it may be what’s blocking the sensors.’ Rath cursed inside his head, the scum had already more than enough firepower to cripple them before the rest of the Reavers fleet would arrive. Once the Desolator began bombardment and the cruisers brought their broadside batteries to bare the strike cruisers would not last a minute. A plan suddenly began formulating in his analytical and logic bound mind. Calmly he turned to his first officer.

    ‘Prepare four boarding parties for teleport strike Omega Proxima one.’ The marine nodded before quickly leaving the bridge. Rath turned to his other officers. ‘Navigation bring us around the enemy flanks towards the Desolator’s estimated positions, this sensor screen they’ve laid down should be playing havoc on their scans aswell. Stay out of their passive antenna range. Master of arms prepare rail cannons for disrupter class shells, have them track the battleship as soon as we are in range. Don’t attract their attention the teleporters need a window of two seconds for complete transmission and we need only partial shield failure. After all boarding parties are aboard; commence attack run on nearby cruisers, ignore the battleship. That won’t be much of a threat once we’re through. Master of ships you have the bridge,’ the officers began about their orders, Rath leaving the deck through the vast blast doors at the rear of the bridge. He headed towards the sacred armoury of the first company.

    ====

    Inside the vast armoury Rath found Captain Neffis assembling eighteen marines in Terminator armour into their assigned squads. He had already begun the briefing as Rath entered; his own ornate version of the sacred tactical dreadnought armour now encasing his body.

    ‘Captain Asamar you will lead squad Ignitus and assault the main bridge of Hostile craft Alpha while I and squad Invisus breach the secondary command centre. Captain Jurgen and Vertas squad is assigned the main drive room while Commander Rath and squad Tratus take out the warp core.’ Neffis’ voice rang loud and clear even through the din of the armoury. Rath stepped up to him, placing a hand on his shoulder plate and taking his position in front of the marines, Neffis taking place amongst his squad.

    ‘You all know your objectives; you all know the doctrine… Strike quickly and bring the harvest to our enemies. Prepare your weapons and commend your spirits to the Saviour, and the Emperor… Our task shall save many of our brother-warriors this day so let nothing of the fallen escape our purifying flame.’ Rath paused for his words to sink in even though he knew each men hadn’t needed to be told a single word to begin with, each man was apart of the great High-cast Ares of the second battlegroup and would act in no way to dishonour the name of the Soul Reavers. ‘Report to sanctioned teleport chambers and await green signal. For the Saviour, we shall reap a rich harvest this day,’ he yelled to a resounding cheer from his men. He took up the lead of the four man squad Tratus and led them to the teleport chamber reciting the ancient litany of death as he went, each marine chanting the war-song of the Order in reply.

    ====

    The Orpheus ploughed on forward, its course taking it straight towards the chaos battleships at the rear of the enemy fleet. The mile long craft did not even create a disturbance on the sensors of the chaos vessel, the distortion field being generated by the twisted craft blocking their own scans aswell as the Astartes ships. As it came slowly closer to its target the four vast rail gun turrets swerved gradually on their dorsal emplacements, their huge cannons tracking on to the bloated jade form of the battleship ahead. The distance closed and a rising whine could be heard within the vast hull of the Orpheus, the sound rose to a pitch that could not even be heard and then suddenly the rail cannons fired. Four comets of blue soared towards the Desolator, impacting on the void shields a heartbeat after they had been fired. A dazzling flash seemed to ripple across the ancient shields before they suddenly cut out in a shimmering haze of purple light.

    Deep within the reinforced teleport chambers of the Orpheus a small green light began to flash in each room. An incredible miasma rose around each squad before fading to leave nothing of the huge warriors.

    The void shields of the chaos battleships sparked back into life. To the twisted crew it had resembled only a temporary cut of power.

    ====

    Commander Julius Rath could feel his body being pulled in every direction, an impenetrable wall of nothingness surrounding his being as every atom within him moved faster than light before slamming back together to reform his body. The veil of night before his eyes disappeared but somewhere inside he wished it had remained. The warped interior of the Desolator was horrifying to behold; the walls seemed to pulse like a heartbeat, as sickly purple veins ran through tiny electrical channels, like the arteries of the craft scored into the bulkheads that were themselves more like huge pulsating slabs of organic tissue than the metals that had once constituted them. At his feet the floor slithered in a putrescent sea of green ichor, horrid seeping vapours and scurrying creatures. From the low ceiling hung endless racks of broken and rotting bones, as a miasma of bloated black flies and creatures to putrid to recognize, swarmed and writhed within cracked skulls grinning evilly down on the commander and the four marines around him in jet black Terminator armour. Ropey entrails hung like trophies and crucified bodies; horribly mutilated, bloated and ready to burst hung against the living walls. He immediately knew the ship belonged to the worshippers of Nurgle, the god of disease. The internal comms within Rath’s helmet opened to the others in his squad and Captains Jurgen, Asamar and Neffis in their respective teams.

    ‘Steel your souls Brothers and activate lights,’ five stabs of bright white light stabbed out from the searchlights attached to each Terminator. ‘Squad Vertas commence attack on the drive rooms, squad Ignitus and squad Invisus eradicate all you find on the main and secondary bridges. Annihilate anything that moves. These Nurgle worshippers shall pay. Brother Braka take point towards the warp core.’ A number of acknowledgements came over the comms as a Terminator raised his vast multi-barrelled assault cannon and began to lead the group down a long black corridor via an augery-scanner.

    No sooner had the squad moved a hundred yards than the walls seemed to explode spraying each marine in splinters of sickly green flesh. Two gaping holes like huge wounds had been blasted in the bulkheads and out of each crept what once were the saviours of mankind. Two decrepit, shambling marines approached, their armour warped beyond any recognition of a blessed creation in the ancient furnaces of mars as huge tears and gashes revealed rotting internal organs and seeping slime within. Vile mutations rose from both, one with a huge mucus coated tentacle in replace of his arm while the other had a second rotting corpse head cackling insanely on his shoulder. Disgusting chain-axes spluttered thick emerald blood madly, sparks of purple lighting crackling along their surfaces as they charged the squad.

    Rath saw the remains of the traitor legions insignia on their putrescent shoulder guards and unbridled fury swept through him. Death Guard, the ancient enemy to which the Soul Reavers to their eternal damnation were once apart of. A hail of assault shells from brother Braka stormed into them tearing apart armour as though it had been made of paper and sent through a nuclear storm, yet despite appalling wounds they shambled on, almost revelling in the pain on their scorched nerve endings. Another maelstrom rang from Braka’s gun and this time the creatures crumpled to the floor. But as soon as the two fell two more appeared, then four, six, eight. Within a few heartbeats an entire squad of death ridden warriors gibbering through rotten teeth and leech mouths were charging towards Rath and his men.

    ‘The Harvest has come,’ suddenly bellowed Rath, the audio pickups in his armour projecting his cold gravely voice through the hall like the roar of a daemon. The plague-marines were somehow taken aback by this for a second, their decrepit charge slowing for an instant as decayed, millennia old memories reappeared from their virus riddled thoughts bringing a doubt and fear with them. It lasted only a moment as their insanity took them over and renewed their charge. But the wait had been enough. A veritable wall of shells tore through the chaos marines ranks as all five Terminators took their firing stance and let fly sending the twisted warriors flying backwards and into their brethren. The storm lasted for only a second, five of the walking horrors downed, but the rest still coming. The terminators reloaded with unearthly calm in the face of these monstrosities and fired again. Rath added his own plasma shots into the creatures.

    A single corrupt marine waded through the broken and bleeding bodies of his brethren at his feet, his vast chain blade screeching towards Rath’s helmet. Sparks flew as power field met power field, the ancient teeth of the chain blade blunting and spinning away from the weapon as Rath’s power claw grasped the corrupted device and crushed it with a twinge of his augmented strength before smashing the fallen’s skull from his body with a clean swipe.

    ‘On Brothers.’ The five Terminators continued their mission, destroying everything in their path.

    ====

    ‘Sir, we have lost sixty percent of manoeuvring thrusters, the power grid is being barely maintained, all but two mass driver arrays are functioning and our torpedo bays have been made completely inoperable by enemy bombers.’ Elson cursed, they would be done soon.

    ‘Have all remaining thunderhawks target enemy bombers, the cruisers are too close to engage torpedoes.’

    ‘Aye sir.’ The chaos fleet was now encircling them, it was a miracle that either the Pax or the Hammer was still functioning at all. Elson had just received the report of the closing Desolator and knew that as soon as it was in range they were doomed. The beasts were waiting for their master to make the killing blow.

    ‘Ensign report on the status of the Hammer.’ He yelled over the din of the severely damaged bridge.

    ‘They are faring worse than us, they are down to reserve power and all weapons have ceased to function. All they can do now is try and avoid incoming fire,’ spoke the comms officer, grabbing hold of a control console to steady himself as the strike cruiser lurched to the port. ‘Another lance hit and they’ll be done for.’ Elson cursed, he knew it was too late now to make a run for it, the enemy had them corralled like a herd of grox.

    ‘Report on position of the Orpheus.’

    ‘Unknown sir, we registered a radar shadow three minutes ago but she disappeared from our auguries.’

    ‘Damm. What about the Desolator’s ETA.’

    ‘ETA at…’ the ensign paused as he read off the data console, ‘one minute to firing range.’ The bridge suddenly seemed to turn deathly quiet as nearly all the crew looked towards Elson. The Captain knew they needed leadership and orders but it was too late now, there was no way out.

    ‘Hieronymus forgive me. Engineering… prepare for manual warp field collapse. I repeat prepare to scuttle the ship.’ There was a tense moment as Elson waited.

    ‘Aye Sir,’ came the reply over the tannoy. Elson pulled himself to his full height gazing down on the assembled deck crew.

    ‘Time to take these bastards back to hell,’ his voice bellowed out, a grim determination seeming to enter each crewman.

    ‘Sir, wait, we have an incoming transmission. Its from the… Desolator.’ The ensign’s voice stumbled over the words. Elson nodded at the ensign who patched the comm through. Elson turned to the screen. The vast monitor crackled and snowed but remained an inky foreboding black. Then suddenly a torn and ragged voice spoke, spluttered, slowly, bubbling forth from a tattered throat, every nuance of menace it held being conveyed through the ships speakers.

    ‘Reaversss….’ The word sounded like it had come from a half dead snake. ‘You fight well Brothersss. But not well enough.’ Two glowing points of sickly green began to radiate on the screen, two pits of ancient, diseased evil. The blackness on the screen seemed to fade slightly to become a dark mist amid a bridge of rotten corpses and horribly warped creations, a swirling pall of noxious gas and bloated black plague flies drifted around the now rising figure on the screen. Elson stared, his eyes burning into the twisted, corpse faced marine that he now looked on.

    ‘State your name traitor, so that your eradication will be rejoiced across the worlds of the Imperium?

    ‘I am Lord Pestilence’sss herald, I am corruption given form, I am the ssson of Mortarion, massster of dissseassse. I have had many namesss but to you, you may sssimply call me Hepitasss Plague, and my craft the Eternal Blight, will be your death,’ croaked forth from the wasted face.

    Rage burnt through Elson as he looked on the twisted face.

    ‘You will never take us scum. You left the Emperors light ten millennia ago and for that you shall pay a terrible price.’ The screen remained silent for an instant before a hollow laugh began to emanate. The deathly sound became louder and harsher until it was an insane cackle.

    ‘You forget Reaver. We are brothersss even if you do deny it like an ignorant fool. Jusst asss I, you are a ssson of Mortarion, you are Death Guard. You can change your name but you cannot change the passst.’

    ‘No,’ bellowed Elson ‘once we bore that name but the second are Primarch turned his back on humanity and sided with Horus he turned his back on us and Hieronymus. We are no longer Death Guard, we are Soul Reavers, sons of Hieronymus and we will die before you seek to corrupt us.’

    ‘Oh you are correct puny one, you will die and feed the great maw of Nurgle in hisss hunger. For in your betrayal of Mortarion you dissserve no lesss than eternal torment.’

    ‘No we were the betrayed. Left by our Progenitor, tricked into retribution against our brothers. You revel in your treachery, Death Guard scum, in the betrayal that your master and Horus brought about and for that you shall die.’ Elson could barely restrain the fury that he felt running through his veins as he looked on the twisted face of the traitor marine, maggots slowly making their way out of its mouth and nose.

    ‘Fool, how dare you ssspeak of treachery,’ the chaos lords voice suddenly twisted, leaving its sinister tone to become a furious roar. ‘It wasss we who were betrayed by the Emperor. It wasss he who forced usss into the damnation of chaosss. You have no right to judge you irritating child. I fought alongssside the one you call sssaviour ten thousssand yearsss ago. Hieronymusss wasss a fool to deny Mortarion ’ The lord turned away from the screen, uttering in some insidious language that Elson could not understand. He quickly turned back, his emerald gaze seeming to burn brighter than before. ‘It ssseemsss your time isss up brother.’

    ‘Sir their in range.’ The ensign’s voice seemed distant to Elson as he continued to stare into the two depths of primeval malevolence. The chaos marine let a malformed grin cross his flesh melted face.

    ‘Annihilate th…’ Before the Lord could finish a deep rumble echoed over the comms, followed by a jade stab of rectangular light onto the twisted bridge of the Desolator. A terrible squelch squirmed across the speakers as the chaos ships writhing bridge-doors caved inwards. Suddenly outlined in the light was a huge black figure which stepped onto the bridge and crushed the life out of the first twisted crewman it met before opening fire.

    Explosions tore across the comm screen as the Terminators entered the bridge, incredible flashes of white light illuminating the distorted bridge. The chaos lord span around, snatching an ancient looking bolter from somewhere before firing at the nearest Soul Reaver. The bolts seemed to patter like rain on the Marines sacred, hulking armour, only bringing his attention and a heavy flamer to the chaos renegade.

    ‘Bring holy fire on the damned.’ The lord screamed and flailed as he was consumed in the conflagration, his body being burnt to a crisp; his tattered and charred husk fell to the deck. Elson looked on in disbelief and overwhelming joy as the Terminators ripped through the Desolators crew. Suddenly the screen went blank. Elson span on his heels.

    ‘Report on the Desolator.’

    ‘Sir were reading massive energy spikes and internal damage on the ship. Their engines are going critical,’ said the ensign with more than a hint of victory entering his voice.

    ‘Bring up the main screen.’ The view screen flashed on showing the Desolator and several cruisers around it. At the rear of the battleship could be seen many blasts and fires erupting as the Terminators finished their teleport assault and returned to the Orpheus. The somehow living ship seemed to fade and die for a moment, its huge writhing limbs losing any movement, the baleful internal light of the damned behemoth cutting out as its powergrid was demolished, turning the machine into a drifting hulk of putrescence. But after a second it began to detonate more spectacularly, fire licking across it hull. A sickly emerald light began to spill out of it, shafts of incandescence erupting outwards illuminating the Pax’s view screen like the birth of a new star. The cruisers around it could be seen to break off, the light from their drives looking like tiny candles against the rising inferno that was the battleship.

    ‘Brace for shock wave,’ yelled Elson grasping firmly a hold of the ships deck. The fantastic radiance seemed to reach a peak before the drives gave way and the vast craft exploded, a torrent of energy emanating outwards and buffeting all the nearby ships including the Pax. Sparks flew across the bridge as com terminals exploded under the storm. Adepts flung themselves to the floor beneath their plasteel consoles to protect themselves from the electrical discharge. The few marines on the bridge stood almost immobile, their power armour providing more than enough protection. The wave passed and the screen cleared, only a few scattered remnants of bulkhead to indicate the battleship had ever been there. Elson sent a thanks to the Primarch and to Commander Rath, but even with the scattering of the chaos fleet it would not take long for them to regroup and attack in force; they were still hopelessly outnumbered.

    As the rocking ship stabilised the crew began to get back to their feet and their stations. Elson looked down on the ensign.

    ‘Ensign, locate the Orpheus and contact the Hammer of Fire.’

    ‘The Orpheus is hammering the retreating hostile ships captain. Our comm systems are nearly out sir, we can receive but not send,’ reported the ensign.

    ‘Very well, have all repair crews make double time on the drives and give me a visual on the Hammer.’ The main view screen still covered in snow and static blinked off for an instant before re-establishing on a different picture. There hanging lifeless in space was the Hammer. No light emanated from the strike cruisers hull, even its drives giving off no indication of any power. The black hulk was severely damaged, the ravages of the chaos lance batteries evident across its entire surface; the prow of the vessel was smashed beyond recognition, as if an angry god had taken a hammer to it.

    ‘Scan for life signs…’ spoke Elson his voice containing only a hint of grief.

    ‘Scanning sir.’ Elson continued to stare at the dead ship until a green light began to blink on and off on his console. Turning to the comm officer he told him to activate the link.

    ‘Its commander Rath captain.’ Elson turned to the comm screen as the commander flashed into view, his vast Terminator armour still encasing his body, patches of evil dark puss splattered across it.

    ‘Its good to see you Brother Elson, we thought you lost,’ said Rath.

    ‘It is good to see you too sir,’ replied Elson.

    ‘We are harrying the cruisers, but it will not take long for them to come to whatever senses they have left. The distortion field has been lifted and scans register that the rest of the fleet is making best speed but they will yet be some time. We are still receiving heavy interference from the binary’s background radiation.’ Rath paused for a moment. ‘Captain we have been unable to raise the Hammer.’ The words were more a question than a statement. Elson knew the answer. He turned to the ensign who shook his head sorrowfully

    ‘No bio-signs, their life support had failed before the shockwave even hit,’ he said sombrely. The marines on both ships bowed their heads, a low growl emanating from their throats as they recited the litany of passing, the prayer for all lost brothers. Elson lifted his head and looked towards Rath’s figure.

    ‘They rest in the Emperors light now.’

    ‘May they find eternal peace,’ replied Rath mournfully. Quickly regaining his composure he spoke once more. ‘What is the status of the Pax Imperialis, we are reading extreme fluctuations in your energy grid.’

    ‘Bad commander, we have taken severe damage. We are down to thirty percent structural integrity, all launch bays have been smashed, tactical systems at ten percent. The plasma drives are leaking badly and manoeuvring thrusters are severely damaged but we are still warp capable, for all the good it will do us this far in system…’ Rath nodded as Elson continued the vast list of damages to his ship all the while the huge noises of the Orpheus’ guns beating the chaos cruisers ringing over the comm. When he had finished Rath looked on to the Pax’s half ruined bridge thoughtfully, his brow furrowing. He turned to som
    <span style='color:red'>&quot;Right lads, lets make a tactical advance to the rear of our posistion&quot;
    &quot;Errr do you mean run away?&quot;
    &quot;Thats the one&quot;</span>

    &quot;Oh man, look at that.&quot;
    &quot;Where?&quot;
    &quot;Over there, by that river of boiling souls.&quot;
    &quot;Well I&#39;ll be damned... it&#39;s a Starbucks.&quot;

    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/ravensdark/' target='_blank'>THE SOUL REAVERS</a>
    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/gaeisia/index.htm' target='_blank'>GAESIA</a>

  5. #4
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    Okay, finally read the story entire.

    ?Just wondered what happened next? The story sort of finished mid sentence there.

    A successor Chapter of the Death Guard...this is great

    I guess they&#39;re regarded as potential traitors by the Imperium, but they know that they are in the Emperor&#39;s light so to speak...

    Who was Heironynous?

    Is Macharius actually ten thousand years old or has he been in stasis or was he touched by Chaos in some way. Perhaps even become an Avatar of the Emperor.

    Anyway hope you have more..
    Whoso would be a man must be a non conformist
    People should be taught what is, not what should be.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Ravensdark's Avatar
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    Hello again.

    Right then as i said its a work in progress so the fact that it stops mid sentence is that i ain&#39;t finished it yet.

    To be honest i ain&#39;t sure about macharius, i think ten thousand yeras is a bit of a stretch, but i was running along the lines his practically a machine now, (darth vader kind of thing) so there is the possibility that he is that old.

    And as for heironymus, he began as one of the lost primarchs (2 and 11) and the Soul reavers were his chapter but then i changed it. He was a very high ranking death guard, like Typhon. A second in command or something. However being a rather nice chap when he realised that mortarion was joining horus he defected with as many loyal troops as he had and thus escaped the warp storm that typhon led the DG in too which changed em all.

    Thats why the marines hail him as their saviour, and do see him as a primarch after a fashion. I&#39;m working on an idea at the moment about a terrible rivalry against Typhon (tell me if you don&#39;t know who he is) and Heironymus. Basically they don&#39;t like each other and when the DG go traitor heironymus and his guys try to hunt down all the bad DG, especially typhon who they see as the true traitor (somewhat like the Dark Angels looking for the fallen and that Cypher guy)

    U&#39;re right that the Soul Reavers are seen as renegade and ex-communicate from terra.

    Oh another thing i was toying with the idea that Macharius is Heironymus&#39; son, i know their was a debate about SM having kids but back when they were first created it could have been possible.

    Anyway i&#39;ll try and get some more down and finish the story. It&#39;s *****in me off coz it takes so long for me to finish stuff off but ahh well. Percivierence and all that.
    <span style='color:red'>&quot;Right lads, lets make a tactical advance to the rear of our posistion&quot;
    &quot;Errr do you mean run away?&quot;
    &quot;Thats the one&quot;</span>

    &quot;Oh man, look at that.&quot;
    &quot;Where?&quot;
    &quot;Over there, by that river of boiling souls.&quot;
    &quot;Well I&#39;ll be damned... it&#39;s a Starbucks.&quot;

    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/ravensdark/' target='_blank'>THE SOUL REAVERS</a>
    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/gaeisia/index.htm' target='_blank'>GAESIA</a>

  7. #6
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    Oh another thing i was toying with the idea that Macharius is Heironymus&#39; son, i know their was a debate about SM having kids but back when they were first created it could have been possible.
    Well they always ask whether Abaddon is really Horus&#39;s clone son.
    Heironymus being Mortarion&#39;s clone who then cloned Macharius would be interesting.

    A third generation clone....

    Could also explain the sort of sibling rivalry....Who was the favourite?...lol

    How do you see them as Space Marines more the Death Guard of old or will the DArk Angels rules including hunt the fallen be more appropriate for them?

    Great work and certainly great potential..
    Whoso would be a man must be a non conformist
    People should be taught what is, not what should be.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Ravensdark's Avatar
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    That clone idea is pretty good, i might incorporate that somewhere.

    I see the order as kind of like a crusading army, so somewhat like the old legions. I&#39;m sure you noticed they have a rather large fleet in my bit o fluff and the Shadow of Judgement is basically their homeworld. They travel around basically trying to redeem themselves in the eyes of humanity. (not an easy job in a time where sneezing could get you burned as a heretic)

    Also in my story (that i am going to eventually finish) i might use something with the Order finding an active stc which reveals some horrible secret so they have to go galavanting across the galaxy trying to stop it. Something along those lines anywho.

    I&#39;ll definately posrt some more soon.


    P.S thanks for the kind words. Oh and if you ever find anything grammaticaly wrong or such give me a shout coz i&#39;m terrible at finding them and fixing them. And i don&#39;t expect you to read the whole thing again.
    <span style='color:red'>&quot;Right lads, lets make a tactical advance to the rear of our posistion&quot;
    &quot;Errr do you mean run away?&quot;
    &quot;Thats the one&quot;</span>

    &quot;Oh man, look at that.&quot;
    &quot;Where?&quot;
    &quot;Over there, by that river of boiling souls.&quot;
    &quot;Well I&#39;ll be damned... it&#39;s a Starbucks.&quot;

    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/ravensdark/' target='_blank'>THE SOUL REAVERS</a>
    <a href='http://www.freewebs.com/gaeisia/index.htm' target='_blank'>GAESIA</a>

  9. #8
    Senior Member theredkitty's Avatar
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    You need some part where the inquisition trys to waste you. But ti all turns out somewhat good when you join forces and become non excummincaty whatcha ma callit.
    Back from a long adventure.

  10. #9
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    If the Soul Reavers are under the threat of being declared Extremis Traitoris they would be walking on a fine line indeed.

    Having a few radical Inquisitors as allies would be advantageous.

    Coming into contact with several other so called radical Chapters would protect them as well.
    Whoso would be a man must be a non conformist
    People should be taught what is, not what should be.

  11. #10
    Senior Member theredkitty's Avatar
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    Radical shapters like ME&#33;&#33;9are blood angels considered radical, i think they are from red thirst and black rage). So maybe they need some allies to help them waste the Death Guard
    Back from a long adventure.

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