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In the Maelstrom, a matte black ship slipped silently forth from the warp. Coruscating flames of pearlescent colors flickered and flared all over the ship, lighting the red sky around it. Gibbering daemons leaped and ran about it'™s hull in every putrid and revolting color of the spectrum, some of them there for barely an instant before exploding in shimmering bits of immaterial energy.
Each though, no matter how weak, left furrows in the massive battleships side. At least they did until sections of the hull slid back, and auto defense batteries whirred into place, lancing needle thin las beams into the inky darkness and swiftly bringing the Emperors justice to the foul denizens of the warp.
Within the bridge stood a figure of awe-inspiring size, armored in pure golden armored crafted by master artisans. Severe and taciturn, his patrician features were currently twisted into rage, his ice-blue eyes so cold they made an approaching Imperial Navy sergeant void his bladder and about face, piss trailing him as he ran for what he thought was his life.
This figure, encased in armor as austere yet beautiful as his face, turned to watch the man go with a shake of his head. His massive left hand, gauntleted in ceramite and etched with a double-headed aquilla, rested at his hip atop a closed face helm of antiquity, it'™s knightly visage wreathed about the brow with small angels wings, a fiery red sapphire seeming to spring forth from the left corner of the visor, giving the impression of weeping blood.
"Hastor, damage reports. Get any major damage fixed now. Olinas, power all down but defensive batteries and re-patch to the engines. Those deserters will escape if we can not close and board them.'™
Most would have stopped and stared to see an Astartes so familiar with the runnings of the ship, but Adonis had been a long time in the warp and obscure corners of the galaxy chasing the rumors of renegades from his own Chapter, the Black Saints, and had learned to command a battleship of necessity.
A frail looking man, elderly though still dressed in immaculate drab grey naval uniform so heavily starched it was likely all that kept him standing, stood at attention with a creak and pop. His salute was firm though, and the steel in his old eyes showed that he was one who had fight in him still.
'˜Lord Adonis, sir?'�
"Viscini, how many of those drop pods have the tech-adepts managed to fit with thrusters and boarding harnesses?'�
The eldery man grabbed a worn data slate crested in the seal of the Chapter he had given his life to, and mulled over the screen before him.
"8 so far, and two more will be done before the morrow. It is slow going, as the drop pods machine spirit is resistant to such drastic changes.'�
"Damn spirits, damn machines, and damn those adepts! I need the last two pods down on the hour! THE HOUR! Those deserters will be in strike distance within two, and I must have my men with me. We will tear the very throat from these weaklings and show the foul Usire what his duplicity has earned him.'�
Viscini gulped, sensing the battle-rage in his lords eyes and merely nodded, bowing and scraping as best his popping spine would allow. As he went, Adonis sighed, looking down at the command-altar before him, and the instruments of death lain on it. An elegant, keen edged sword lay before him, its hilt still the same near-relic he had wielded since being promoted to a squad sergeant centuries ago.
The blade however, was wholly new, re-made after his slaying of the keeper of secrets on Xiseli, and his battle with the crazed Lord Commander Erus, a traitor marine on the brink of bringing Cadia to it'™s knees. It gleamed a bright, sun fire white from the ancient power amplifiers and doubling fields set in the quillons of it, which took the form of flared angel'™s wings flanking a massive red crystal, the source of the flickering like ghost flames that licked at the blade, burning nothing that existed in the material realm. But as Adonis had seen first hand, it would burn any daemon in the holy light of the Emperor, turning to cinders and ash any of the warp-spawned filth.
Besides it stood a simple, worn bolt pistol. It had been issued to Adonis upon his elevation to being a battle brother. Often the Chapter armories and artificers had tried to press upon him beautifully carved and crafted pieces, but every time he had declined them politely. His would do him, until the Emperor called him to His side. His would do.
---Roughly 1 housr IST (Imperial Standard Time) later ---
Warning klaxon's began to blare in the launch deck, and a startled tech adept looked up just in time to see a ceramite shod foot, part of a massive form in like clad, connect with his oiled brass head, augmetic vision amplifiers splintering and sharding in a shower of sparks as he was sent skidding across the deck.
Unapologetic, the jet armored figure marched on, it's shoulderpad glaring with the winged skull of the Black Saints Astartes, the masters of the Adept. Rank after rank crunched by, bolters and other various weapons of destruction clenched to their chest or belted to their sides. Litanies of faith and battle were freshly scrawled on the ornate godwyn bolters, and still cooling wax affixed purity seals and battle oaths alike to the armor and weaponry of the titan like figures.
The adept lay frozen, never knowing what his remaining picto-imagers were recording would one day be hallowed legend to the Astartes. A full strike squadron passed him, not counting the Ancient of Rites, the Venerable Dreadnought Seneca. Marching besides the ancient warrior-machine, was the Prelate Antonious.
His helm was crafted wholly from the skull of a Chaos Sorcerer he beheaded, and circling about it were all 13 of the runes of castigation, surmounted by a waxen sigil of warding. In his hands he carried a massive crozier's the size of an eviscerator, and slung about his chest in a bandoleer that rested at his hip was a custom artifice pistol that was fed by ammo marked and blessed by the Prelate himself. And rising about his back was the slim form of mechanically grafted wings, folded tight against the chaplains power armor.
His armor was black as the void of space, and not a single reflection seemed to escape it's austere surface. With a whirring, clattering sound, the adept zoomed in, and was shocked. The Chaplains armor was etched with prayers over every inch, so small the naked eye could barely see them as much but scribbles. His logic circuity produced a rough estimate of the probable amount of scripture: the entirety of the Litanies of Faith, Hate, and Battle, as well as a probable 64.7% of the Purification and Warding rituals.
Over all, the man terrified the adept, and what little flesh he had was taken with clammy sweat. Here marched a being of antiquity, massive even for a member of the Adeptus Astartes. One could nearly feel the zealous faith raging beneath the surface. But what scared the sprawled mechanicum servant even more was the ice cold rage and contempt.
Following the first Chaplain, and given a wide birth, came the bone chilling sight of the Epistolary Remus. Carried by a hulking servitor was a sword almost three fourths the size of a regular man, wrapped with multitudes of purity seals and holy bindings, some randomly bursting into flame as he marched. Clutched in his hand, drawn and cocked, was a worn looking bolt pistol, the faint etchings of a long dead Imperial Guard regiment above the ejector slide, which eeked blue witch-light.
The worse thing about the crimson cloaked figure was perhaps the milk-white eyes of his leonine face, showing the blindness caused by the incident on Armageddon. But the warp-flames that coruscated and shimmered forth from them were the talk of any of those who saw him with the 'crying helm' he wore clipped at his hip. They said he could still see, thanks to the damning power of the warp. They also said that his gift of sight would drive him incurably insane.
He again, bore the same jet black armor and lithe mechanical wings that the first chaplain bore. although to these, as with most of him, an eerie aura of blue warp flame flickered and wavered about him. And dangling at his hip was the crying helm, blazing gold and wrought into a mournful face, the eye slits hollowed out and left with no lenses. Carefully set on the left side of the helm, in the form of a teardrop, was a single fiery ruby.
Behind them all came a sight that made a tear trickle from the one human eye of the young adept, mixing with oil leaks from his crushed augmetics. Adonis, striding at battle-march pace behind the 1st Aequitas squad armored in their famed terminator armor. Thunder hammers hummed with energy, and lightning claws shone and shot off sparks and trailed the smell of burnt ozone.
The adept reached up a barely fleshed arm to try and re-connect the wires of his pictogrammic eye, to capture the glorious tactical dreadnought plate. It was this slight movement that stopped Adonis, and in his halting he noticed the adept, the cruel boot mark on his face, the oozing blood-like oil, and the furious spark showers coming from the pictographic eye as it tried to furiously reconnect wires.
Crouching, Adonis hauled the adept up as gently as his rage filled form could. Upon seeing the reverence and the immediate attempt at a low bow, despite a grinding growl of servo-motors.
The angelic face, with high angular cheekbones and alabaster skin, seemed to leap from the frescoes of the Hall of Legends back on Baal. Icy white-blonde hair was tied back in a complicated topknot that was in turn braided down the back of his scalp to allow the ancient crusade era helmet he bore, the laurel wreath upon his brow preserved forever in adamant metal.
"Arise Adept.. Your kind is honored this day. The dedication and wisdom of you Scions of Mars has brought me the means to vengeance. I thank you..."
Stammering, the adept remained half slumped as Adonis whirled, his jet black cape rippling in the wind to reveal a mysterious symbol that he vainly tried to pict-capt. It was different from the crimson cape with the chapter icon, and bore a simple winged skull of gold, crying a fiery red tear. As the cape rippled, a mighty sword at his side was revealed. Avantar, the sword that was said to be forged from Sanguinius own blade, the gem said to have been from a circlet the Primarch wore in the defense of Terra.
Hatch locks hissed and pneumatic pistons slid down boarding ramps as each squad filed into the scarlet and jet drop pods. For a moment, the adept allowed himself a swell of pride at his servitors work. Each pod had been fitted with custom made and altered drill bore bits, designed initially for clearing away collapsed bulkheads within the ship. Built with auxiliary power fields in place, and crystalline amplifier tips, to focus the fields to a pin point, they would slice through the hull of any ship now.
Affixed to the top of the pod were twinned land speeder engines, held in place by reinforced pintle mounts. With those engines, the pod would have limited manuverability to and from the ship. Not the best work , the Adpet though to himself but by the Omnissiah it will serve!
Thick cloying smoke roiled from the shrieking metal where the dieing Guardsmen lay. Directly in front of him loomed shapes in the haze, massive forms that conjured images of the worst warp spawn his Scholam teachers had ever told him of.
Twitching, the Guardsmen coughed up a thick clot of blood, and reached towards his abdomen, and to the support beam speared through it. As he pulled in vain, something horrifying caught his attention. The steel bar piercing his abdominal armor, and that was causing the slow burning death of his own stomach acid eating his organs, was not shrapnel. There were massive hand indentures on it.
The heretic looked up, sweat beading on his pallid face and tried to scream, but his face exploded in a shower of blood and matter, spattering over the dark form of some armored monster with blue flame swirling about him.
Within the helmet, Remus sniffed, and growled. He could feel the warp-taint in the ship, as surely as if he were watching the snaking coolant lines trace patterns on the corridors. The virulent energies coiled and twisted along the path like the vessels of some sort of malignant tumor. Unsheathing the greatsword at his hip, Remus hefted it, gazing at the sheening blade before striding into the gloom, the reflection of it's green inner light off the tear-ruby on his helm mixing with the blue flames of his witch sight to create an eerie refraction on the walls of th ship.
As Remus departed, a support squad broke off from the entry point, attempting to follow. The Astartes attention to detail was still present even in their frenzied hurry as each stride met in step, and each carried an un-sheathed chainsword, pistols carried in the open faced holsters at their hips, the man in the fore carrying a devastating meltagun to clear the advance.
At the first bulkhead, a space marine with thickly plated gauntlets readied a meltagun, watching gauges as the compressed gas and volatile liquid fuel mixed in the compression canister, dropping to one knee to draw aim at the center of a shut blast door.
'Sorus squad, fan out! Brother Caligula, take heed and control your fire. We want to catch these bastards un-awares!'
The order came quietly for the massive Sergeant Didius, and came in tandem with the sudden loud hissing of a meltagun being fired. The extreme heat ray of the gun impacted the center of the blast door, melting the adamantine shields into red-white pools of lava like slag that issued forth steam and smoke as they hit and sometimes burned through the walkway.
Slowly, the hole began to widen, the doors revealed to be almost two feet thick, strong for even space marine crafts. With a smoky hiss, Caligula began to adjust dials on the port of his gun, trying to keep the weapon operating in the vaccum that was beginning to form, as well as under such prolonged use.
From the fore, there was a snarl, and a flare of light as Remus charged. His sword flew, hacking at the still white hot wound in the door with unbound fury, gouts of witch fire flaring from the Chief Librarians blade.
In moments, Sergeant Didius was at the Epistorlarys' side, his powerfist crackling with energy as he tore and ripped at the bulkhead. The two together were soon through the already nearly spent blast doors. Rending screeches accompanied the charge of the squad through the door, chainswords roaring to life as somewhere within the chamber concentrated volleys of bolter fired turned upon them, and a newly raised battle brother fell, his leg blown off by the blue white stab of a plasma gun.
Raising his sword, Remus turned to face the squad that had accompanied him, framed by a storm of muzzle flares and bullets, none of them seeming to hit him, or his gen-hanced body shrugging off those that did. Again, the Librarian roared, and with his sword waved them on.
"For his will and honor, our life and breath! Strike in the name of the Primarch!"
With that cry, Remus leaped a hastily erected fire base and moments later screams could be hurt, and the burning smell of ozone that signaled powers of the warp being wielded. Shaken from his gaze by a bolt round that richoted off his powerfist Sergeant Didius let loose a wordless roar and followed the sounds of carnage towards Remus.
Elsewhere, there was utter quiet, except for the soft swaying sounds of the robes from the men around him. Antonius strained, the sounds echoing and bouncing oddly off the engine room where he now was. Behind him, the Alban Assault squad stood, the bulk of their jump packs replaced by the standard power-plant backpacks of the Astartes. Adonis has wisely guessed that jump packs would be of little use in a cramped ship corridor, and only he, Antonius and Remus bore their artifice wings for fear effect.
Sergeant Nero stepped forward, a melta bomb in his hand, the steady blue link of the arming light indicating all was ready. With a twist, the set spikes were deployed, and the Chaplain leapt back as the veteran rammed the bomb home and rolled to cover behind a thick set of pipes. The explosion rocked the room, walkways and railing alike falling and plunging.
Sparks hissed from conduits with hoods shook off, and smoke filled the room from the wrecked door. Antonius landed, bolt pistol drawn, his crozius leaving it's back sling as a marine in white armor slumped forward, several bio-tubes disconnecting from his raw, pink flesh. Fluids leaked from them, nutri paste, blood, and other life sustaining methods.
With a quick, cursory glance, Antonius stepped back and racked the slide on his gun, watching the as of yet barely breathing body. This was not what was to be in this compartment, nor had he known he would find an Astartes there in stasis he would not have guessed it to be this one. Hatred boiled and seethed in his veins, a fire that would consume any mortal man. Yet he was Antonius, the Void-Slayer. He had taken the head of one of Ahrimans chosen. His very helmet was that foul witch's skull. He possessed nerves of steel, even for an Astartes, and he would not give in to such a petty emotion.
Shifting debris revealed most of alba Assault squad. Marines surfaced liek awakening titans, throwing off rock and plasteel, some pulling girders and steel rods from their armor with grunts, the wounds clotting as they began to bleed. Voice and vox chatter sounded, as roll calls were made, and absent battle brothers were sought out. Antonius them silenced with a chop of his crozius. The suspended Astartes had drawn a breath.
'You.... Fools... Damned fools.. '. The voice was raspy and slow with disuse, but it still had a slight fluidly musical tone to it. Rage flared again, and blood suddenly gushed from a dozen re-opened wounds as the back haft of Antonius weapon collided with the re-awakened marines jaw, the splintering of bone heard from Sergeant Neros position. A smooth fluid movement and he had drawn his power axe and began motioning to men, all of them pivoting and drawing lines of fire on the struck form.
'Constantine... Chief Apothecary Constantine... What a pleasure.. We damned fools have come to find you, with a full spear head. Your insults are to be repaid this time.. Pre.."
Antonius was cut short as Constantine stepped forward, his apothecary tools whirring. His narthecium cut a furrow down the chaplains skull helm. The reductor let off a single loud report as it spent a bolt of its twice blessed ammo, intended for easing the pain of death for marines. Antonius staggered back, the bloody gobbet of flesh that was once his eye falling in several pink and white blobs to the floor of the ship.
Blood rushed from the wound, clotting slowly, and Constantine reared back his gauntlet as the Alban Assault squad began to open fire, grabbing the First Chaplain in a deadly embrace, stabbing and hacking with tools intended to save life. Antonius, his crozius and pistol dropped in the shock of loosing his left eye, now roared in unleashed fury, his fists pummeling the apothecary over and over again, taking equal blows in measure from Constantine. The bullets finally stopped, as the two became too entangled for a clear shot.
Standing quietly, his axe humming, Sergeant Nero looked on. None heard his whispered prayer, but he looked to the ceiling of the engine room none the less, as if expecting a sign. And, from the opposite side of the room, a set of white lines began to appear in the blast door, slag dripping and falling from the melted metal in white-hot ropes.
'The Emperor Protects..'
Nice story. But wait, what happened with the Apothecary? And i also noticed at the amount of Roman names you have been using. Caligula, Remus, Nero... Very nice.
"What is Mercy? Does it taste Nice?" Hive Tyrant on Reth V
"Kill-kill! Death to the Enemies of the Horned Rat!" Warlord Bweekq at the Battle of Hrad
I'll go ahead finishing this story, since it was the first commented on... The Roman names are on purpose, as at this point the Chapter recruits solely from a world themed and mirrored after the Roman Empire, but advanced to DAoT level tech.
Ohhh. What about the other question though?
"What is Mercy? Does it taste Nice?" Hive Tyrant on Reth V
"Kill-kill! Death to the Enemies of the Horned Rat!" Warlord Bweekq at the Battle of Hrad
Nothing yet.. But look for a part earlier in the story describing what was happening, and what Nero sees.... Should give you a clue!