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Prologue: It is the coming of the foot steps of doom..
Across the smoking deck of the Thunderhawk, debris shifted. Smoke, eddying in little dervish like clouds, ballooned upwards, as suddenly steel and sparking wires and pieces of dismembered Astartes exploded upwards accompanied by a wordless roar that shook the air around it, rattling the armor plates of the wrecked gunship. Coiling, acrid smoke surrounded where the shifting plates had erupted, and a Stormtrooper, heavy flamer held at the ready, advanced. He was commanded to hunt down survivors, and so he would. Suddenyl, the smoke shifted and moved, as if something within it stirred.
'Halt! By declaration of the Holy Ordos, you and all Adeptus Astartes of the Black Saints have been.. AUCK! ACCCHE'
Arcing blue energy flew from the steel spike growing in the Stormtroopers neck as he slide sideways, gurgling blood. A massive form towered above him. Wreathed in smoke, he appeared as some primordial god of ancient times, fury and cold power radiating from his titanic form. His right arm, limp at his side, was devoid of armor except where it had fused to his skin with the heat in areas like his elbow and hand.
His brow bore a glowing laurel wreath, and his left hand bore a burning, rune inscribed lighting claw. The Stormtrooper looked up at him, contempt written in the sun tanned lines of his face, or what used to be his face.
For, a second after, he made the mistake of spitting upon the Astartes before him. The flaw of that action was the blood, phlegm and tooth hit the aquilla on the warriors breast plate. A cold ceramite encased hand lifted him by his chin, bones snapping with wet pops, a sickening slurp sounding as his windpipe caved in, and his feet slowed their kicking.
With a snarl, the marine drew back his lips and spat, a hideous lime green and black globule that hit the man in the face, between the eyes as if fired from a sniper rifle. Instantly the flesh began to smoke and curl like cardboard catching flame, the material of the helmet running down his face like drool as it caked on his eyes and nose before cooling rapidly and blinding as well as suffocating him slowly, and the tissue beneath was eaten away to reveal raw bone.
The Stormtrooper tried to scream, but it came out as if underwater, blood and pulpy organ tissue spilling from his mouth like vomit as the marine hurled him aside in rage, slamming an admirable hole in the wrecked hull of the massive ship.
The panel the corpse struck buckled and bowed, crashing inward. The impertinent man lay there, face still smoke, the interior of his helmet even being eaten away. Kneeling, the Astartes grabbed his helmet from a pile of wreckage and sealed it to his gorget with a hiss, the ancient casque hiding his soot and blood streak visage.
Limping with obvious pain, the marine reached over and forcefully wrenched his bare and fused arm. No sound escaped his baroque helm, a gift of the bygone Great Crusade and the reliquary armor it produced. Blood flowed down the limb as wounds were forcibly opened, a odd wet sound like chicken bones being snapped accompanied the action as the Astartes roughly thrust upwards, forcing the limb back into joint, flexing massive fingers experimentally, grunting as is dis-satisfied.
Walking backwards, the Marine turned and began a loping, ground swallowing pace. Massive black lacquered ceramite boots pounded the dry, cracked earth and sand, small foot prints left behind like dinosaur prints on Holy Terra of Old.
Grunting and muttering a short phrase in some crude language, curse or prayer no one knows, the knees of the marine bowed, and with a shuddering gout, the jetpack on his back roared into short life.
Seconds after, the thing began to smoke, warning runes flashing colors on the visor of the helmet as the Astartes wrangled his belt, and the pack engines disengaged from the power plant of the suit.
He grunted, forcing himself to roll midair, turning the vulnerable reactor on his back away from the smallmushroom cloud and curling into a massive ball, the shock waves hurtling him through the air, slamming him to the roof of the thunderhawk, plates buckling, rivets popping, but the structure holding over all.
Pushing himself up with servos whining and sparking, the Space Marine looked out from on top the wreckage across the horizon. Broken, desert like surface covered the land as far as his keenly enhanced eyes could see.
Close to him stood a smoking city, the top half of it's tallest tower laying across the defensive walls, having crumbled when a disorderly group of his men had shifted their drop pod course to strike the building seconds after his thunderhawk had clipped it in it's crash.
The result had been to fell the tower and breach the wall. In that breech fought Stormtroopers in the ice blue and black armor of the Inquisitor Lord Asireloth du Taliwein, noted radical and now heretic in his eyes. With an audible click, the warrior activated the emergency comms built into his artificier armor, and began to hear chatter.
Terse battle orders were sounded, accompanied by a sudden wave of figures, armored like him, charged forward, devastators with consummately hidden positions opened fire, contrails of rockets streaking forth, accompanied by the occasional sun like streaks and lance of plasma and lascannon fire.
Inside his helmet, the grizzled veteran smiled as his warriors leaped upon the enemy in one massive surge, pounding the resistance with speed, skill, and surgical applications of the Chapters legendary martial prowess.
Another, softer click sounded the suits comms being activated, servos whining and his posture sagging slightly on his injured side as power from the fiber-muscle bundles and motors was diverted to punch the broadcast through on all channels.
'This is Lord Crusader Adonis speaking. Chief Apothecary Constantine has betrayed us men, as our Proegnitor and Primarch so long ago did to the Imperium. And it was again due to warp trickery and lies! He has thrown in his lots with heretics and sullied our name, saying we lie about the Blessed Sanguinius... This will not be allowed to stand.. Black Saints, to war!'
Charging forward, Adonis roared a battle cry as the talons on his good hand crackled into life, energies from them so potent they projected a veritable halo of light from the blades of his lightning claw. Runes along the bladed fist seemed to hum and writhe as power flowed into them, the metal turning near white hot.
'FOR HIS WILL AND HONOR, OUR LIFE AND BREATH!'Chapter 1: There is more to it than meets the eye..
It had been hours. Adonis had killed so many of his former subordinates that their was was a constant stench even his helmets filters could not keep out. His mind wanted to stop. The magnitude of Constantine's betrayal staggered him. Reports were filtering in that the filthy traitor had been spotted in the west sector of the City, banded with the heretic Inquisitor that had started this mess.
The gloss of the burnished black plate he wore had been dulled and slicked crimson, gore and shattered shards of bone stuck all about it. As he had staggered into the Camp days ago, amazement was apparent on the face of the scout who encountered him first.
His Chapter had thought him dead, as only the terminator guard Adonis had taken had survived, and they had searched for hours before declaring him dead in the wreckage and leaving to rejoin the Chapter. Their rage had been colossal, and their squad alone counted for more than two squads and Constantine's terminator guard themselves, the last five of that fallen group repenting and being accepted back into the fold.
Adonis sat now, in cream colored toga edged in thread of gold, an Apothecary examining his arm. Shaking his head, the Apothecary removed his helmet with a hiss, the seals opening his senses to the outside World. The marine possessed the usual deep eyes and soulful face of one of Sanguinius sons, though the stark black hair and ivory skin hinted at their other father, who none but Adonis knew.
'M'Lord... You seem to have healed nearly perfectly, though in fact even an Astartes should be bed ridden by now. However, I believe I need to go see the Chapters tech-marines and have my armor checked. The auspex and bio-scans I have conducted have indicated changes in your genetic sequences and odd shifts of hormones. I believe the device may be malfunctioning... '
Blinking slowly, Adonis flexed his hand, the bindings being lifted off as the Apothecary extended his gauntlet, several mechanical arms sticking out from the narthecium, vials in them filling with colored and potent chemicals, regimes made to encourage and bolster his Astartes physique. Usually these drugs were used with absolute caution, but it was absolutely needed that he be up and able to lead his troops, for the sake of the innocents on this world.
Clearing his throat, Adonis addressed the Marine before him, watching as he turned to face his Lord, surgical robes spattered with dried gore and death, singed in a thousand places. The reductor casing open, indicating he had spent it's large ammo capacity in administering the Emperors peace to fallen brothers.
'What do you mean, Apothecary... Diocletian, yes?'
'Yes m'lord, Diocletian. What I mean is...Whereas before your genetic scans were well above standards and rigors the Mechcanius and others place on us, now it is nearly a perfect fusion. The unknown donor tags have been seen to take a recessive stance in relation to the markers from Sanguinius gene-traits. Your body is also reacting quite oddly, and the ossumodula is sending out increased levels of hormone, as well as the medusalla (organ names may be mis-spelled or wrong, will check for veracity later) This has been announced to the Council, and they are of the mind you should stay here until you are fully recovered and we know what this means... And as acting Chief Apothecary, I must agree m'lord. '
Swallowing with a gulp, Diocletian handed Adonis a data slate brimming with reports and figures, most of them grim enough to make the grizzled and veteran commander of the chapter sigh as he read. Remus had suffered as well, and his hand was being grafted several bionic fingers, and his jaw and leg needing several sections of adamant reinforcement and bracings. The report, issued by Diocletian himself, contained traces of humor in it, suggesting the High Prelate needed perhaps secondary surgery to offset the commanding bite his jaw now carried.
Halfway through an update on munitions and store, Diocletian spoke again.
'They..They have also requested that Remus be brought planet side... Lord Alexander has fallen. Inquisitor Taliwein was seen battling him yesterday with that damnable weapon he had given to Remus.. Shortly after, our reports indicate Alexanders was struck by a spell cast forth from the weapon by the heretic... It killed him, and Asireloth then used his corpse as a shell for a Daemonhost. The Council sees this as acts justifying the release of the Sinner... And I also agree. "
Adonis looked at him, eyes dark at the memory of his friend.
'Apothecary... You are no raw recruit... Have you an inkling of what you ask me to unleash?'
Diocletian nodded, his face grave where before it had contained a slight trace of the ironic humor he was famed for.
'Yes Lord.. But this is the third aberration he has created that has lived. All told, all but you, Lord Remus and Master Antonious of the council were turned into such beings. Lord Alexander slew them all, though Captain Julius of the Eight Company has been sighted in the Southern sector, with two squads of his company left and full command of the local PDF. '
Rage entered the Apothecaries voice, rage at the thought of his charges being so defiled and used. As Adonis scrolled down the dataslate, he could seem pict-captures from Alexanders armor of the beasts he had fought. Once noble and great men, Astartes of the truest mold, were corrupted beyond belief and turned into chained and bound horrors that scarcely resembled the warriors they had been.
'Give the go ahead to release. My access code, and arm him fully. I want him planet side within the hour. And Diocletian? See to it you check the armory. Your armor is damaged, and if any is recovered, terminator plate will suit you better. These reports also show you saving several squads, at grevious injury to yourself. You will need it if your are to continue with such service. As for me? Have the armorers bring me my armor, but fit it with a normal backpack. I will command from the ground this time.'
'See to it they also send me a servitor, my personal effects from orbit, and my lightning claws. I must gird for war. Put the call out to Helbrecht for aid, he is the nearest Commander. We have need of him and his Templars. Our Chapter must be purged of the filth infecting it. to do this, we will need help.. '
Adonis couldn't help but stop and think of what Diocletian had said. His genes were changing? But why? And why did the inject him with some chemicals designed to bolster his immune system and overall physique? There was more to it than he knew, and the Terran saying 'More than meets the eye..' leaped to his thoughts as he stood from his medicae bed and saw the Apothecary out.