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While new to this forum, I have been working on a piece of fiction for several months and it could do with a read through an critique. It has advanced a long way and is several pages long in WSWord (say 46 pages!)
I'll post each Chapter here in their own posts and update as needed.
Thanks for taking the time to read this massive piece.
It is also posted on these other forums.
Bolter & Chainsword
Gathering of Angels
It was quiet on the walkway above the yard of the old manufactorium. Abandoned long ago for reasons only few know, this is now the playground for the forgotten youth of the ancient city and gangs from the Hive city that loomed to the North. However, the walkway was occupied by someone who was anything but young. A solitary figure stood silently on the walkway taking in the surroundings; nothing but an empty floor that once housed large machines. Content that the area was deserted for the time being, he headed into the sanctum of a long dead administratum. Inside, there was nothing but an ancient steelwood table and stool on a strewn floor of old parchment. There was a doorway leading into a back area where a sleeping palette lay on the ground. The man went to a large tome that sat in between two candlesticks on the table. He wrote an entry and began preparations to retire for the evening. As he kneeled in supplication for prayer, something in the air triggered his senses. Someone was approaching.
He silently returned to his lookout post near the covered walkway. On the ground below, a boy walked cautiously onto the manufactorium floor. He wore the markings of a local gang known to fight over this area. The boy looked young but had a physique that suggested a hard life of labor. The boy carried an old shotgun in dire need of repair, but the boy clutched it so tight that his knuckles were white. It looked as if the boy was sent out on a Trial to claim his spot in the gang. As he watched the boy from his perch, he registered another presence. His senses led his eyes across the floor to a form moving silently above the boy in the shadows of the catwalks. It was taller and it was armored. The slender form stalked the boy in the shadows until he came under the walkway. Silently, instincts tuned to battle took over and the hunter itself was being hunted as the cloaked figure crawled along a higher catwalk over the floor until he was over the armored form below. The boy continued right down the middle of the manufactorium oblivious of the danger that was targeting him from above.
The boy came upon the portal marking the end of the manufactorium and found it locked, as he turned around to go back the armored form dropped out of the shadows but not out of the figureâ€™s gaze. It was a Spyrer from one of the rich houses in the city. He was wearing close fitting segmented armor and his weaponry consisted primarily of a pair of long slender blades on the each hand. The boy nearly frozen in fear remembered to raise his shotgun and pull the trigger. The shot went wild. After the echoes subsided inside the vast structure, an electronic noise sounded out that could only be the laugh from the spyrerâ€™s vox-caster. Firing again brought the laughing up short as the shot again went wild but this was all the distraction the robed figure needed. As the sounds of the second shot rang out the figure leapt over the rail and landed behind the walking Spyrer who was again laughing. The spyrer began to move towards the boy when the robed figure reacted like a lightning strike, using his hands; he grabbed and twisted the head of the spyrer so quick that a loud snap let out. The spyrerâ€™s neck was broken and the body tumbled forward onto the ground. The boy stood there frozen like a statue mesmerized at what had just happened. When he looked up, the figure was gone and the body lay before him. The boy hoisted the dead form on his back and made his way back to the gang. Even if he did not kill it, the spyrerâ€™s armor and weaponry would still fetch a high trading price at the Guilderâ€™s Hall. The boy was still recalling what happened when he arrived at their gangâ€™s hideaway. He remembered very little except for one thing: the huge stranger had a symbol on his robe - a winged sword.
Back inside the manufactorium, the figure prepared to leave. Even if the boy did not tell the rest of the gang about him, the figure did not want to take any chances now just as he never took chances over the preceding decades. He was a hunted man, but not by typical bounty hunters. No, he was being chased by Space Marines of the Dark Angels chapter, because he is one of them and took up arms against them when they returned to their home world of Caliban. Veteran Sergeant Leviticus was one of the Fallen Dark Angels.
+ + +
Leviticus walked alone through the wastelands toward a section of the old city that once housed a Precinct of the Adeptus Arbites. The Arbitrators patrolled this area some forty years ago, but uprooted when the chemical storms began and rendered the area undesirable. The ground was packed earth but showed no sign of vegetation. He could recall a time when this area was green and the city in pristine order.
He had worked in this area for a time at a warehouse close to the precinct. He was even a part of the workforce that helped build the precinct. It allowed him to hideaway items that he now sought out to reacquire.
Moving up to the blast doors, he saw that the rune pad was damaged beyond repair. He proceeded around the compound until he got over to the utility access hatch covered over in a thick layer of muck and debris. Clearing the way, he opened the hatch and lowered himself down into the small cavern. The floor crawled with life that would make a lesser being shrink away in disgust. The foul odor of years of neglect, excrement, and death permeated air so thick that Leviticus began chanting a battle meditative chant that allowed him to focus on his goal. He found the power shunt for the precinct and the plascrete wall into which it dove.
Typical, the Adeptus Arbites were always paranoid and fortified their precincts from every conceivable direction. However, they never prepared to have a member of the Legio Astartes amongst their charges. Leviticus made sure that he worked on this section of wall. One block bore a sigil of a winged sword. He pressed on the block and it moved. Crushing anything under his feet, the Marine planted his feet and pushed through a number of blocks into a void behind the wall. Like entering a tomb, it was eerily quiet as he entered into the void. He immediately found himself in one of the holding cells of the Arbites. The light radiating down from the access hatch provided little light into the cell, but it was more than enough him, his enhanced vision picking up minute details in the gloom. Looking around revealed a pile of bones and one complete skeleton.
Cannibal. They should have died with what little honor they had left instead of feasting on his fellow man. With a face of disgust, he crushed the skull of the complete skeleton. With anger in his blood rising, he turned to the cell door and heaved it out of the wall. With a loud clatter that sounded like an explosion in the gloom, he walked over to where the Marshallâ€™s sanctum was located.
Inside there was nothing, light trickled into the room through dust-caked windows high above, revealing a room that was bare except for the bookcases along the wall. Pulling the bookcases away from the wall, he withdrew a long combat knife and picked at the mortar around the blocks below where the bookcases sat. Working a block free, he was able to heave a few more blocks revealing a hidden steel door below the floor. Once placed as an emergency escape route, it was later blocked up to prevent the builders and usurpers from gaining access through this alternate route. The route was only partially finished, but it was more than enough for his needs. Breaking the seal, a number of glowbulbs lit up the tunnel below. This tunnel remained immaculate, no signs of detritus could be seen, and that pleased the Fallen Angel. He made his way deep underground to a large room. This bunker within a bunker had never seen any other use than what he gave it many decades ago. Within moments, he plunged into the portal of an adjacent chamber. In there was his destination. In there was what he came to retrieve.
Two steps within, Leviticus could do nothing more than kneel in supplication for what stood before his eyes, it made his two hearts beat with long forgotten pride and the memories contained within.
Before him stood ten polished black suits of power armor, each standing at attention. Each suit had been repaired and maintained before placing them into this chamber to rest until the time was needed for them to be used again. Behind each, was a rack carrying the weapons used by each suit of armor.
Leviticus knew each occupant of the other nine suits of armor. They had been his brothers back in the time of the Great Crusade. Each brother had honors heaped upon him in the time of the Crusade. Two of them, Lauviah and Caliel, still kept the laurel wreaths upon their helms. Even after all that had happened, they continued to believe in the honors granted to them by the Emperor. The events on Caliban never sat well within them, but they were loyal and followed their orders without question. Of the ten, they were perhaps, the most innocent of the squad. Perhaps it is because of that, that they were both granted a noble death. Death protecting the Imperium they once helped build. Their remains entombed within their suits of armor. Their final battle chronicled on a piece of parchment and affixed on their right shoulder pad below the sigil of the Dark Angels. A book of their achievements since Caliban rested on the hip of each Marine. Leviticus brought both fists over his two hearts smartly, and gave each Marine a Warriorâ€™s Bow.
Beside them was the empty armor of Aftiel. It had been sixteen years since he was captured by the Angels of Redemption. His armor had very little adornment. No book on his hip, it was taken. Only a necklace rested around the neck of the hollow armor. On the necklace were four black feathers and one white one. Each one represented ten Brothers that he killed; the white one representing those that he has killed since the destruction of Caliban. Most of them with the now inert plasmagun sitting behind the armor, he always yearned for battle and discovering the thrill of the challenge of fighting armored marines gave him a fight he could not ignore. Becoming a mercenary, he went off to fight for money; leaving behind only those totems that linked him to his ancient legacy of the Dark Angels. Apparently, it was not enough.
Kasdaye was murdered by associates of the local magistrate. Kasdaye never liked seeing mere humans trounce on the ideals of the Imperium. Where he once solved issues with controlled bursts of his Heavy Bolter, now, he sought to bring down the Magistrate through politics. His bullish demeanor got him surrounded by a mob that overwhelmed him on his way home. Clubbing and stabbing him until his enhanced body could not take the punishment, Kasdaye made an awesome account of himself by killing a large score of his attackers. The kill tally of thirty-seven was added to his parchment attached to his shoulder guard. The squad of Dark Angels that turned up a few weeks later was disturbed that the person they sought had died a violent death. It angered them more that the body was never recovered. Leviticus saw that he was memorialized as a Dark Angel here in this tomb.
Zikiel & Akhibel both were pressed into the Imperial Guard where their Marine Physiology became clearly apparent. The Angels of Vengeance captured the two brothers and destroyed all witnesses. Four thousand souls went to the Emperor instead of fighting in one of the Imperiumâ€™s war zones. Just for two Marines in hiding. The lone marine said a silent prayer to the two empty suits and to all the souls lost just because the Unforgiven fear their secret shame being released. Too self-absorbed to remember their duty to the Emperor, they had forgotten the instructions personally spoken to the Dark Angels Legion. â€˜Spread the Glory of the Imperium of Man across the galaxy, let none stop you for you are Marines and all will wither before you.â€™
Liwet turned to the dark powers and became an aspiring champion of the Lord of Decay. Leviticus, Phanuel, and Kasdaye both paid their former brother a visit. Liwet was personally dispatched and burned by his former squad mates. While his armor stood among the ten, no adornment had been added since his second fall.
Phanuel was crushed in a mishap in a manufactorium. He worked as a heavy laborer in a manufactorium. Asked to assist in the repair of a large ore crusher, Phanuel repaired the crushing drum when the agitated crew boss angered that the machine was still down after being told that it was repaired activated the machine. Phanuel was reduced to pulp by the very parts he was sent to fix.
Lastly, he came upon the suit of Omael. He was the original Sergeant of the squad. Omael knew more of the fall of Luther than the rest of the squad. It was intentional. Omael was a learned tactician and a hero amongst the squad. He listened to the whisperings and the talk that the Lion had betrayed them. Stating things like the Lion left them to rot in the rear while the younger brethren went off to cut their teeth in battle and gain glory. Omael was proud of the younger brethren, many of the Sergeants had been taught by him. His was content with the glory he had received and looked forward to becoming a Master of Initiates. Instructing those who were to become Space Marines.
Hearing all the talk of glory lost had saddened Omael. Nearly every Brother left behind had honors and glory enough that the artificers were still adding the adornments to a marineâ€™s armor when the Lion returned to Caliban. As the orbital defense batteries opened up, Omael knew that the fight amongst their brethren had begun. He was a traitor by association. He led the squad with all the tactical ingenuity that he could and forced the squad into a regimented fire discipline. Only shoot at those that attack the squad. The entrenched Fallen Dark Angels could not hold out against the fury of the Lion and the immense orbital bombardment. Omael began a fighting withdrawal, retreating toward a spaceport to extract his squad and get them out of a tactically unsound and insane situation. His withdrawal came to the attention of the Master of the Battalion and soon Omael fought against Marines on both sides of the line.
Disgust crossed his face as he fought against brothers who had given themselves over to the ruinous powers. He began to fight with fury against his ruined brethren. He had forgotten that there were Marines who were not corrupted by Chaos dying under his blade. Omael stopped giving ground, but he tenaciously held instead. The squad followed suit, fighting against Dark Angels of the Lion and Dark Angels of Luther. Omael had started a three-way fight that never boded well for anyone involved. Only a massive explosion from an orbital torpedo broke up the swirling melee and scattered Angels everywhere. Omael rose up out of the debris left behind by the massive shockwave. Had it not been for his armor, the shockwave would have turned him inside out. He requested a sit-rep from his squad and sighed that they all registered alive. In this hellish dream made manifest, there would be no funerals for those that died here. The whole squad showed up at his side with damaged armor and multiple wounds but they were alive enough to continue fighting. Members of his squad were delivering the Emperorâ€™s Mercy to many of the fallen brothers though Omael could see that a few of the squad were enjoying the deliverance of mercy.
Kasdaye covered the squad with his Heavy Bolter, firing a short burst of bolts toward anything posing a threat to the squad. Aftiel had retrieved his plasmagun and he began firing heated death toward any living thing in range. He always fired twice when he found a tainted Marine.
Satisfying honor, Omael rounded up the squad and withdrew them into nearby catacombs. With the orbital bombardment continuing all over the planet, there were not real safe places to go, but up. He his men were fatigued, wounded, and low on resources. His mind was reeling with all that had happened on this dark day. â€˜How could the Dark Angels have fallen so low that they would turn against each other? How could Luther fire upon his best friend? How can it be that Dark Angels have turned to Chaos? Too many questionsâ€¦ Too many questionsâ€¦â€™
Leviticus awoke from the memory. For the remaining days of Caliban, Omael led him and the rest of the squad on a number of surgical strikes. Vanquishing Chaos infected Dark Angels and garnishing enough supplies and materials to get off world. The squad survived to see the fires of their home. They saw vid-feeds of the battle between Luther and the Lion. Supplicating themselves in prayer, they prayed for help in sorting out the Civil War with the Legion. That one day the Legion may be whole one again, that this stain on the record and honor of the Dark Angels will be removed. As they escaped Caliban in a Thunderhawk Gunship, a violent warp storm erupted. The little ship was battered by the debris of the dying planet. In a flash of multi-colored light, they awoke somewhere else. Far from Caliban, far from everything they knew. Flung through space and time, Squad Omael arrived in a planetary system far from the ruins of Caliban and several Millennia later.
Omael landed the Thunderhawk and prepared for the squad to disband and dissolve back into Imperial society. They found the settlement the robed marine stood under and made all efforts to return to society, but the grief in Omaelâ€™s twin hearts was too much for him and after chronicling the last days of Caliban. He passed command onto Squad Leader Leviticus and committed ritual suicide.
The marine stared up at the armor containing his mentor, friend, and commander. Giving another Warriorâ€™s Bow, he reached out to the suit of armor to the right of Omael. His own suit of armor; long had it sat empty. Reciting the prayers to the armorâ€™s machine spirit, he took the armor apart and began to clean and repair the ancient suit of armor. Continuing with the Rites of Consecration followed by the Rites of Adornment he donned his suit of power armor minus the arms, backpack, and helmet. On the weaponâ€™s rack behind were the bolt pistol and power sword given to him by Omael. The sword was black as his armor save for the gold on the hilt. Omael was given this sword by the Lion himself for his tactical prowess.
Putting the sword and the last bits of armor into a large rucksack, Leviticus prepared to leave the shrine to his comrades. Perhaps someday this place will be unearthed and the suits of armor and the few occupants can be returned to the Dark Angels with the respect and honor they deserved. Barricading the entrance to the shrine, he left the underground chamber by the same way he came in. Blocking all the entrances again and made it appear less conspicuous.
It was night when he climbed out of the access hatch and his senses registered nothing out of the ordinary. His armor stiff with disuse, still functioned after all this time standing in the shrine. The power in the backpack long since dead, Leviticus walked with the full weight of his armor on him. He did not mind, he remembered several times where he fought without the backpack so that the enemy would never detect their energy signature. He looked toward the hive city looming out of the ground in the distance. For whatever reason, he felt a need to leave this planet and go somewhere else. Where he did not know? However, deep down, he was disturbed by the thought of being led into a trap. A trap set for him by the Unforgiven. With that on his mind, he set out on what can be only a quest into the past. A quest into the unknown â€¦
Last edited by Grand Master Belial; January 25th, 2006 at 16:10. Reason: Revised Chapter 1
The size of the hive city from the settlement was an illusion. The sheer size from a distance never revealed just how big the city was or actually, how far away it was. Leviticus had traveled nine days through the arid expanse to close in on the hive city. On the morning of the tenth day, he approached the exterior wall of the hive city. Decades of rust and filth caked the massive walls of the hive. I became apparent that the lower levels have been abandoned leaving it to be infested by any manner of filth.
With a look of disgust, he approached the massive gate in the side of the hive. The amount of rust and corrosion gave the doors a look of being melted. Only in the recesses was there any of the original paint found to suggest that this gate had seen better days. This gate let in all the food-stock from the planet to feed the teeming millions of people inside the hive as well as to be sent off world to feed people on other worlds. Then underground below the gate the hiveâ€™s engineers built a conveyor tunnel that allowed the food-stock to be sent directly into the hive. Once completed, the gate was forever closed to become a support for the massive structure continually growing. Leviticus could see the ancient sign that welcomed them to Mandracora Hive, though it was barely recognizable now. The tunnel below, having been long since abandoned, was the preferred method for the Hive Gangs and those without hope to leave the hive and find their way out in the savage wilderness.
Leviticus pondered the gate for a while. The walls of the hive itself were too thick to make a hole, but the gate was thinner. He just hoped that the gate was not cast as one massive piece. Removing the power sword, he prayed to the blades war spirit to help awaken it from its long slumber. Pressing the activation rune, the blade slowly built up a green glow as the swordâ€™s energy field gained strength. Raising the blade over his head, he took a mighty vertical swing at the gate. The blade passed through as though nothing was there and a large score was cut into the gate. Another three swings and a roughly square door was cut into the gate but the piece within did not fall out. Sheathing the sword, he pushed the gate with his strength in an attempt to push the block of material out. Nothing.
Cleaning the cut with the power sword, he tried again. Still nothing.
SPIT! he said in his head. I had to find the one gate that looks like an abomination and is still strong to the core!
It was, as he feared. The main portion of the gate was cast as a single piece with the ornamentation on the external skin being added later.
Looking around for other possible ways to enter the hive, he spied a series of gun ports tucked into the walls on both sides of the gateway. Many had been covered with armor plates or choked with refuse. The workmanship looked to show that it was placed by unskilled labor to stop a draft from getting into a makeshift hovel. Without the armorâ€™s backpack, Leviticus calculated that he should be able to fit through the gun port without too much difficulty. Placing the Power sword in an easily accessible location on his back, he started to climb the rusty gate toward the abandoned gun ports.
The going was not easy even for a physically enhanced marine. The layers of rust provided many false handholds that broke off in the marineâ€™s hands or would slide out from under his armored boots. The armor itself was a massive burden and dangling ten feet below him was his rucksack, which caught on a projection from time to time.
Reciting catechisms of encouragement, the exhausted marine pressed on until he was level with the first row of gun ports. Recessed into the wall, the ports would hide behind the gate as it sat opened and flush against the wall. They offered nothing for handholds or footholds on the smooth surface. Grabbing the power sword and igniting the blade, Leviticus carved out places for his hands and feet along the edge of the gun port. With a mighty stretch, he garnered purchase on the first foothold and needed only a second set to brace him as he cut a way through the wall. Spread out over a drop large enough to injure or kill him, he prepared to make the cut.
+ + +
Marium was a woman of a hard life. Born with a deformed arm left her ridiculed and scorned by family. Her uncanny sense of direction brought her home after many attempts to leave her in the Underhive. One day on her way back toward the civilized portions of the hive, she was bludgeoned and taken by a gang. Branded and chained, she became a horrid sideshow attraction for a pitiful carnival of pain that moved throughout the Underhive. Returning to the filth that served as her bed that night she prayed to the Emperor to remover her from this hell.
A lance of pain shot through her, she looked down in time to see a glowing green piece of metal retract through her body. She could not feel her legs, but she did not care as the world faded into nothingness. She simply said, â€˜Thank you.â€™
+ + +
Leviticus caught the scent of blood immediately. He had become keenly aware of that metallic scent a long time ago. Smelling it again sent his body a message that cleared the fatigue from his limbs and gave the impression of youth to his limbs. Finishing, the cuts dropped the simple metal plate on the corpse of a deformed woman. Hauling himself over her, he saw a smile on the dead womanâ€™s lips.
â€˜The Emperorâ€™s will be done,â€™ said Leviticus.
As he turned around to retrieve his rucksack, a door opened and a drunken man stood frozen in the frame with a bottle in one hand, a whip in the other. A look of sheer terror took his face and stream of yellow running down his leg. He quickly moved his feet backwards where he fell over a table, the commotion aroused the others.
Leviticus pulled on the cord to bring his rucksack up but it was too wide for the hole.
â€˜Emperorâ€™s Mercy!â€™ he yelled.
Two big men entered the room with electro-prods and another with a large lash with several barbs on the end. Seeing the tether behind the Marine, the menâ€™s face contorted into what could only be smiles as they circled around Leviticus. His own power sword remained hidden behind his robes, his pistol in the rucksack anchor. Calmly, he faced the challenge of combat. The scent of blood filled his nostrils and made his body sing with anticipation for battle.
+ + +
The drunken man came back with a fresh look of what lay before him. A corpse cut in pieces, a large man in a black robe before him surrounded by three handlers. The smile on the corpseâ€™s face brought words to his lips.
â€˜You horrid filth! To bring pleasure to a Tainted One is a sin that is worth countless lashes of pain. I will make sure you receive your measure of pain before you meet the Emperor.â€™
Laughter erupted from the large man as he pulled his hood of his robe over his head. â€˜I have already met the Emperor!â€™ Then his voice went as cold as the vacuum of space, â€˜â€¦and you know not of my measure of pain.â€™
Like a bolt of lightning, the intruder grabbed one of the electro-prods and pulled the handler on the other end towards him. The pain received by the electro-prod never registered on the figureâ€™s face as he pulled the prod out of his opponentâ€™s hands. Then with a quick flick of the wrist, the intruder returned the prod back into the handlerâ€™s skull with the sickening large crack.
The man with a lash struck and cut a large gash on the exposed skin of the robed figures forearm. Dropping the electro-prod, the newcomer turned toward the other men in the room. His arm swept behind him to pull out a blade, black as night, which quickly filled the room with a light green glow.
With a look, the two brutes converged on the robed figure simultaneously. It parried the electro-prod into the path of the second handler and reversed the parry to lop off the head of the first handler. The remaining handler quickly spun around to send out the lash blindly with a loud crack. The dark form was easily able to avoid the lash and with a quick blur of motion. The last handler fell apart in two pieces. The drunken man withdrew a stub pistol and fired a number of shaky shots at the imposing shadow approaching him. Those that hit the figure pinged off the hidden armor and ricocheted around the room. One round snapped the tether keeping the hulking form at bay. Once it realized it was free; it launched at the drunken master, slicing off the hand containing the stub pistol, and grabbed the tiny man with his free arm. With a grip of iron, the robed man crushed his larynx.
+ + +
Leviticus let the man die a slow agonizing death as his windpipe swelled shut denying the man his air supply. The little man thrashed at his throat with one hand and the stump of his other. He finally realized that his rope holding the rest of his armor had broken in the fight. Spinning around on his heel, he looked upon a bag stuck in the hole he had cut in the wall. Thanking the Emperor for this small blessing, he retrieved his rucksack and made his way into the hive.
The drunk suffocated a short while later.
+ + +
Exhausted after the climb and the brief brawl upon entering the hive, Leviticus found a dark area of the Underhive that was not entirely abhorrent and rested. Engaging the Catalepsean Node within his brain, he sat in a watchful slumber. Blending into the shadows gave him an additional measure of protection and his presence went unnoticed until he had been rested to continue up hive.
Walking through the Underhive brought about another look of disgust on the face of the Fallen Dark Angel. Everywhere he looked, there were the dregs of society. Humans of such a low caliber that they thought more about themselves then cared about their duty to the Emperor. Above all abominations encountered in the Underhive were the existence of mutants. Deviants of the human race, these miscreants would not have lived in the service of the former glory of the Dark Angels Legion. Their filth would have been purged immediately upon their discovery. Pulling his hood further down his head, he made quite an imposing figure that cleared a path of all the retches he encountered. He would have purged these mutants if he did not mind attracting unwanted attention. As it was, he continued walking. Steering clear of the more populated areas, he wound around the lower levels of the hive until he reached more civilized portions of the Hive City.
The change was gradual but it definitely lifted his brooding sprit as he got back into the throngs of the Imperium. Long had he stayed away from the more populated places of the planet. While there will visible signs of corruption and ignorance, there was also the hope of the Imperium at work. Humans worked together to help the rest of the Imperium in their own little way. Servitors marched up and down the numerous walkways carrying any number of wares from location to another. Everywhere there was the bustle of men and women haggling prices at the cloistered marketplaces. The sounds of machinery were present with a vibration in the plates that Leviticus stood on. This was the Imperium of Man.
Needing a place to hide and lay low while he searched for a way off planet would require a little tact. He looked around to see Administratum runes on the corners of walkways. Knowing their resolute demeanor, Leviticus took off toward what he hoped was the Industrial areas of the Hive. His guess had not been wrong as the level of noise continued to grow until he got into what looked to be a smaller manufactorium. Heavily muscled men struggled to shift tons of metal from one machine to another. Servitors were fewer in number but they could be seen slaved into the machines as they turned the metal into a series of parts. Most of the materials looked to be construction materials for use elsewhere in the hive or to be shipped elsewhere.
â€˜Hey! You there! What are you doing there!â€™ called a voice.
Leviticus watched as a large man with a little extra girth in the mid section climbed out of an observation post and marched over to him. He was drenched in sweat and his coveralls were filthy. â€˜Donâ€™ cha know this area is off limits!â€™ He said through teeth clenching a cigar.
â€˜Need work.â€™ he replied.
â€˜Work, eh?â€™ The man walked around the Marine inspecting him. He carefully watched the man from under his hood. It was a good bet that this man had never seen a Space Marine before. He hated good bets. Eventually, a good bet will turn bad. Thankfully, he had shifted the power sword into the rucksack leaving his concealed combat knife for protection.
Why Leviticus felt the need to leave the planet he did not know? He hoped and prayed that it was a warning that danger was approaching. Taking the cigar out to drop ash onto the steel decking, the portly man pointed to the marine.
â€˜You are a big â€˜un. I can use you as a loader. The workersâ€™ hibernacula are in Gold 74. Tell them Paternus sent cha. Once they handle your paperwork, I want you working on the first shift. Find me and Iâ€™ll get you squared away.â€™ With a trail of smoke, he turned back to the manufactorium barking orders to the nearby workers.
Brow furrowed in consternation, Leviticus pondered his next move.
Last edited by Grand Master Belial; January 25th, 2006 at 16:11. Reason: Revised Chapter 2
Leviticus approached the Workers Hibernacula in Gold 74. Beside the hatch in the wall, was a barred window that held a sign in Low Gothic below. â€˜New Workers come here first.â€™ Inside a scribe was bent over a tome. He approached the window with trepidation.
â€˜State your business?â€™ The scribe asked without looking up or stopping his pen.
He noticed that the scribeâ€™s natural arms were removed and replaced with a pair of fragile augmented limbs. He replied, â€˜Paternus sent me.â€™
â€˜Work in Manufactorium on Gold 81. Work is difficult. Expect shortened life. Four forms needed.â€™ The scribe said to no one in particular. A spindly arm turned around and nimbly grabbed the four forms and set them down next to the tome. The scribe reached a stopping point after a several long moments. He then turned to the documents, never once looking up at Leviticus.
â€˜Name? Planet of Origin? Imperial Identification Number?â€™ Began the scribe.
Giving false information, Leviticus finally broke away from the scribe after a grueling interrogation of questions. He never knew how long he had before the false information was discovered and he was investigated in more detail. He knew he needed to get off world soon. He got to his room. It was tiny but it was solitary. Cleaning himself and his robe, he set to work on his armor.
Removing it and securing it in a bulkhead wall. He put on the issued work uniform and made his way back to the manufactorium. Paternus was standing in the heat haze near a smelter. Cigar still poking out of his mouth, he watched as men poured liquefied metal into another machine. Sweat drenched them all. Leviticus walked up to Paternus.
â€˜Worker Levy reporting as requested.â€™ he said.
â€˜Levy, was it? Get over there and start loading up that vehiculum. Do not bother with the Servitors. They only respond to my commands. Move it!â€™
Moving away from the smelter was a relief. The last place he wanted to be was near a heat source where his enhanced physiology would make its appearance known. The vehiculum was a long flat vehicle with a tiny open operators cab in the front. Beside it was a pile of metal rods that apparently needed to be loaded on the vehiculum. Another worker was walking around with a piece of parchment. He noticed Leviticus.
â€˜Are you the Loader? You must be. You are too big not to be. Start putting this entire palette onto the vehiculum. It needs to get out as your done,â€™ said the worker without taking a breath.
Leviticus took to his task as if he was an Initiate trying to gain favor from the training Sergeants. It was very hard labor but it did not bother him. He was serving again and that brought out his pride. Within a short amount of time, he had moved most of the pile when the worker with the parchment came back.
â€˜What are you doing? Do you think you are a Space Marine or something?â€™ He brought his hands together in the form of the Aquila at the mention of Space Marine. â€˜You are going to be useless by mid-shift if you keep that up and then Paternus will skin you alive!â€™ Leviticus forced himself to slow down and take a few more breaks. He still managed to finish the loading with time to spare.
The mid-shift meal was a vile gruel that, while giving nutrients to the workers, did nothing for the taste. The workers kept to themselves and enjoyed the break from the hard labor. He kept pondering how he was going to get away and looking for any threats. There were enough pieces of steel lying around to become improvised weapons when needed.
The rest of the day was much the same. Load one vehiculum and then another. He has to leave with a loader when Paternus told him to go and off-load at its destination. Leviticus watched the road the driver took through the hive and marker several points for further reconnaissance. One area of interest was the location of the starport further up in the hive.
Completing a shift, he took a couple of hours to reconnoiter the possible escape locations. The starport was a shuttle pad that shuttled small groups from ships in orbit down to this area of the hive. It was now used to transport material around the planet and to the smaller vessels making repairs.
+ + +
The scribe at the Workers Hibernacula finished its work on the tome. Locking the book closed. He handed it to a carrier outside the window. â€˜Wait. There are additional submittals.â€™ He turned around, grabbed a sheaf of parchments, and handed those to the carrier as well. â€˜Deliver to Administratum Office on Red 196.â€™
The carrier left with a puzzled look on his face.
The scribe did not care; he placed a new tome on his table and set back to writing.
+ + +
Leviticus dove into a local tavern to hear the gossip being spread. Nothing traveled faster than gossip and while the knowledge is usually unreliable, it always held a nugget of knowledge worth hearing. Sitting in a corner booth, the marine used some of his dayâ€™s earnings to get him a drink and the quietly sat watching and listening to the patrons in the bar.
Through the doorway, came a man carrying a massive book and some parchments. He shuffled his way over to a booth to sit down. He appeared to be a regular customer in that he called the waiter by his first name and ordered his usual. After getting himself situated, he looked through some of the parchment but never touched the book until he left. After finishing his meal, he left in a bigger rush then when he came in. I wonder what that was about.
Leviticus was about to get up to follow when a he suddenly heard something that made his blood grow cold.
â€˜The Trials are coming up in a month, Theodicus. Do you think your son will be chosen?â€™
â€˜Lord Emperor, I hope not. I want to be able to give my son the business when he is old enough, Fredicar. I do not want to have to give him up to become a Space Marine. Since Julianna passed away four years back, heâ€™s the last piece of her I got left.â€™
Throne! I do not have a lot of time! He thought to himself.
Walking back to the Hibernacula was a blur as Leviticus tried to formulate a way for him to get off world. The pilgrimage trick had been so many times that Inquisitors always check the pilgrims before they board. He did not know anything of space travel to commandeer a ship. His wages earned from the manufactorium was too small to book him passage off world in a month. How was he going to pull it off? He lay down on the bedding in his room. He drifted off to a troubled sleep wondering what he was going to do.
He awoke just as troubled, heading back to the manufactorium for his shift. He tried to remain vigilant as to ways to get off world faster. The day toiled on just like the day before and he had to remind himself to keep aware as he would get lost in thought and start working like a Marine instead of a human. He finished his shift and reconnoitered again but without anything new.
Three days of looking brought nothing that he could use. However, the Emperor provided an unusual opportunity on the fourth day. One that he planned to use to his advantage.
+ + +
Inquisitor Yannick descended the ramp of the Thunderhawk Gunship. Escorted by a group Inquisition Stormtroopers, Yannick looked around the sparse landing pad through the vision slit of his armor. The integrated Auspex picked up nothing out of the ordinary. A member of the Ordo Hereticus, Yannickâ€™s duty is to scrub out all forms of heresy wherever it may be located. He had received a tip of the most disturbing kind. A renegade Space Marine was hiding in the Emperorâ€™s holy Imperium. He was hiding in this Hive City.
+ + +
â€˜Lord Leliel! The Inquisitor has touched down on the planet.â€™ A marine replied.
â€˜Very Good Brother Fromzon, monitor the situation. If this is one of ours, he will need our help before too long. Continue running dark,â€™ stated Lord Leliel. He was a mountain of a man, nearing nine feet tall. He stood a full head taller than the rest of the Marines assembled around him. His black armor scarred from the numerous battles. He wore a large fur draped over his massive shoulder guards and down his back. Behind him stood a minder hefting the weight of Lelielâ€™s Bolter and Chain-axe.
â€˜Epsitolary Uwala! Can you sense the presence of the rogue marine?â€™ barked Leliel
â€˜No, my Lord. There are too many souls clouding my vision,â€™ replied the Librarian.
+ + +
Leviticus watched the Inquisitor depart with his entourage. Time was short, he had no idea what an Inquisitor was doing here, but he had a very good idea for whom he would be looking. He looked at the weapons the guards of the Thunderhawk carried. These were not carrying the standard pattern lasguns given to the Stormtroopers. They carried what looked to be a high-powered autogun.
Slipping through the shadows, Leviticus left the vicinity of the starport and made his way back to his armor. He had moved it to a more accessible location in an old maintenance compartment that looked to have seen little use in many years. He also managed to recharge the power cell after tapping into the power conduits in the hive. Donning the ancient suit of armor was a homecoming for the marine. He began chanting Litanies of War and Catechisms of Righteous Anger. Placing the black robe over the armor, he started a new chant as old as his armor.
â€˜What is the terror of death? That we die, our work incomplete.â€™
â€˜ However, what is the joy of life? To die, knowing our task is done.â€™
Leviticus grabbed his Bolt Pistol and Power Sword and made his way through the maintenance tunnels to a scouted Ambush location near the Workers Hibernacula.
+ + +
Epistolary Uwala sent his mind a short distance through the warp to the hive city below. He searched for a candle flame in an inferno. His mind was tiring from the stress of the look when he caught the end of a familiar thought. â€˜â€¦what is the joy of life? To die, knowing our task is done.â€™
I found you, Brother. The Librarian broke the connection to the warp and relaxed in the confines of his sanctum. Another Fallen Brother was found, and he was preparing for war. It will trouble Lord Leliel that this Brother has not forsaken the Emperor, but not Uwala. He allowed a smile to cross his face. Whoever you are? You are still a Great Crusader.
Uwala crossed over to his weapons rack, he donned his psychic hood and grabbed his weapons. He walked down the corridor toward the landing bay. He spoke into his vox-unit, â€˜Lord Leliel, the Renegade is in trouble. Request permission to extract.â€™
â€˜Granted. Fight well.â€™
+ + +
Two squads of stormtroopers moved out in front of the Inquisitor as he made his way to the hibernacula. Everyone cleared out of their way as stormtroopers moved in a tactical formation through both sides of the walkway. The Sergeants of each squad held out an auspex to help locate their quarry. In the middle of each team, a stormtrooper walked aglow carrying a plasma rifle ready to dispense rounds of super heated plasma toward the armored enemy they were closing upon.
Behind the squads was the Inquisitor surrounded by a third squad of stormtroopers. He was armed with a bolt pistol and power sword and remained in his suit of power armor. The auspex contained in his suit scanning for any sign of his enemy. He knew where he used to be but he did not know his current whereabouts. The Inquisitor was not going to take any chances. A renegade Space Marine is an abomination that must be dealt with promptly.
Leviticus watched them come, seeing the auspices forced him to stay near a power node to mask his signature. There were too many for one marine to take down. He had to split the group apart.
+ + +
The Thunderhawk roared down through the atmosphere. Uwala led the squad of warriors in the rites of preparation. Each warrior checked that their weapons were clear and functional before completing the rite by loading a magazine into their bolters or bolt pistols and chambering a round. Uwala felt each warriorâ€™s body prepare for battle in his mind. He could sense their blood rushing with adrenaline and the activation of both hearts. Their minds were awake and aware of perceived dangers. Even through their helmets, Uwala heard each warrior speak any manner of battle chant that struck their heart. Uwala repeated each in his own mind and added another.
Marines mounted in the sponsons on the edge of the wing noticed the guards on the landing pad protecting the Inquisitorâ€™s Thunderhawk. They opened fire as they came with in range of the Pad. Stormtroopers died in blaze of bolts.
The pilot linked back with Uwala the situation and he told the assembled marines.
â€˜The Landing Pad is occupied. We will not touch down. We will jump out the ramp and assault the ramp. The Inquisitorâ€™s Thunderhawk will be our method of extraction. One of the pilots came down from the ****pit, grabbed his own weapons, and placed a backpack on his back.
Feeling the Thunderhawk decelerate as it approached the Pad, the co-pilot activated a rune, and the front ramp yawned open. Two marines knelt at the end of the ramp and engaged the remaining Stormtrooper guards. The servitors in the Inquisitorâ€™s Thunderhawk took up their weapon stations and attempted to return fire but the mind of a Marine is still faster than a Servitor. Before a shot could be fired, the Servitors were dead.
+ + +
â€˜Yannickâ€™s Hawk to Inquisitor! We are under attack by an approaching Thunderhawk! Marking are unknown! It looks like Marines!â€™
â€˜Emperorâ€™s Damnation! Third squad, get back to the gunship and repel the attackers! Double Time!â€™ shouted the Inquisitor. The squad of stormtroopers encircling him did a quick about face and ran back the way they had come towards the battle up hive.
+ + +
Leviticus saw one of the squads of stormtroopers depart in a hurry. His senses revealed the faint sounds of weapons fire up towards the starport. The Inquisitor began to close the distance to the remaining two squads. This was his chance.
Grabbing two grenades, he triggered their detonators and cooked them off before dropping them down on the two closely packed squads below. The grenades exploded before they hit the ground. Five troopers were instantly shredded and six more were wounded by the blast. The screams from the wounded quickly became audible. Shrapnel from the grenades damaged a plasma rifle to the point that it melted down and resultant blast took down two more.
Seven dead, six wounded.
Leviticus shifted position.
Last edited by Grand Master Belial; January 16th, 2006 at 23:24.
Librarian Uwala was awash in power as the squad of marines secured a perimeter around the Thunderhawk. Men threw down their weapons to claw their own eyes out at the images Uwala was sending to their weak minds. More than a couple turned their weapons on themselves.
He sensed the coming of the reinforcements before they arrived and the Marines were well placed to deal with the new threat coming from the hive. The marine pilot had cleared the Thunderhawkâ€™s previous occupants. He was currently at the controls getting the gunship ready for a hot lift.
A couple of stormtroopers were ripped apart by the mass-reactive bolter shells as they arrived. Rounds of fire crisscrossed as the marines and stormtroopers exchanged fire. A marine fell back in response as a round found its way into the neck of a marine. Another marine was pitched back as the plasma rifle opened up. The sight of marines laid low by pitiful mortals brought a storm of rage to Uwala and he lashed out with a bolt of lightning from the end of his force staff. Three troopers fell over dead, their bodies contorted in agony at the massive amount of power that rushed through them. The Marines around them turned up the volume of fire and more soldiers died to the onslaught. Another ball of plasma launched itself at a marine. It hit between the shoulder plate and chest plate and another marine was maimed.
+ + +
Leviticus tossed a pair of smoke grenades. Yannick fired a few shots but he was back in cover. Smoke filled the area and the remaining stormtroopers took cover around their wounded comrades. They would be ineffective while the smoke lingered in the area.
â€˜MARINE! I am Inquisitor Yannick! You fight with disgrace! Come out and receive the Emperorâ€™s Judgment!â€™ sounded the booming voice from the armored Inquisitor.
â€˜Perhaps, but not by you,â€™ replied Leviticus. Bursting out of the shadows with his robe billowing out behind him, he charged into battle. His sword held in his dominant right hand.
Yannick caught the movement out the corner of his eye and ducked a wicked swipe meant to cleave his head from his shoulders. Withdrawing a Thunder Hammer from under his cloak, Yannick prepared to do battle with Leviticus.
+ + +
Uwala moved with purpose to close the gap between him and the stormtroopers. Another marine lie wounded and this was not acceptable. With a mighty yell, Uwala leapt into the air assisted by the servomotors in the suit to land behind the wall the stormtroopers were using for cover. The stormtroopers were awed at the agility of the massive marine and the moment of laxity brought about their swift end as a two handed swing of his force staff broke skulls. Uwala withdrew his bolt pistol and looked around for any remaining combatants. Two marines rushed around him and checked the bodies. One marine leaped behind a wall to withdraw a stormtrooper by the collar of his uniform. The marineâ€™s other hand held the plasma rifle that wounded several marines.
â€˜What should we do with this one Lord Uwala?â€™ asked a marine.
â€˜I donâ€™t care. Any other Brother injured?â€™
â€˜Yes my lord. Their weapons were strong enough to damage my armor to allow a round through.â€™ Another marine announced.
Uwala thought a moment and spoke again, â€˜Then get the dead and wounded aboard, the rest of you with me. Let us retrieve our brother.â€™
+ + +
Leviticus and Yannick were still locked in combat. Each attack was being dodged or parried by the other. The Dark Angel had quickly realized that the Inquisitor was also a marine and changed his tactics accordingly. The Inquisitor was well versed in the arts of war, but he was not a front-line soldier. Every swing of the Inquisitorâ€™s hammer was efficient, but not adapted. The Dark Angel noticed the mechanical motions and sought to exploit that weakness.
Yannick circled in to bring his hammer down on Leviticusâ€™s chest but the Dark Angel had another plan. The Inquisitor committed himself to get in close to his opponent where the sword would be ineffective. Letting him come inside his guard, the Dark Angel lashed out with his combat knife and plunged the tip deep into the neck of the Inquisitor.
Yannick never had the chance to avoid the impact. His weight thrust himself further along the knife so that the tip broke through the other side of his neck. With his spinal cord cut, Yannick dropped to the ground.
Leviticus stood over the body to catch his breath. Yannick was a worthy opponent, but now he needed to make good on his escape. Quickly swapping the helmet and cloak with those on the body, he planned to ride out on the Inquisitors Thunderhawk. He had just lifted the body when the stormtroopers walked through the lingering smoke of the two grenades. The wounded were being carried by the survivors.
Leviticus looked at the survivors before addressing them. â€˜We must go! The Thunderhawk was attacked and we may still need to fight our way off this planet. Leave no weapons on the dead.â€™
â€˜Yes Lord Inquisitor.â€™ replied one of the stormtroopers. He looked pained at the thought of leaving his dead comrades. The marine wanted to encourage the soldier, but he needed to get off world. The less said the better.
Leviticus made his way with the Stormtroopers in front of him. The residents of the hive parted at the site of the Inquisitor and the wounded soldiers being carried out of the place of battle. He carried his burden and that cowed even the strongest of the humans around him. He strained his senses in the silence trying to detect what he expected to find as he reached the starport. It was not too much longer when the sea of humanity parted from the other direction as an entourage of Marines, led by an Epistolary, approached from the opposite direction.
The Marines whipped out their bolters and pointed them at Leviticus and the stormtroopers. The troopers were disheartened by their losses and cowed behind their proxy Inquisitor. The Librarian stepped forward.
â€˜State your business, Inquisitor.â€™
Leviticus shot a look at all the black-armored marines before him. The heraldry on the Librarian was familiar. â€˜Iâ€™ve come for this renegade. I was not aware that he was hunted by his own chapter as well.â€™
The Librarian paused and then spoke softly, â€˜Yes, we have been looking for our lost brother for a long time. We were hoping to rehabilitate him into the Chapter and take up the Emperorâ€™s cause.â€™ A few of the Marines shifted a little uneasily. â€˜Perhaps, we can arrange to remove you of your burden for the use of your Thunderhawk.â€™
â€˜Since you are here and not my guard, I may assume that it is I who needs to ask to be brought aboard my Thunderhawk.â€™
The Librarian started laughing, â€˜you are perceptive, Inquisitor. Perhaps if situations were different, I would have called you brother. Yes, we have taken control of your ship on the pad. We will bring you all back to our ship. There we will discuss what is to be done with you and the rest of your guard.â€™
â€˜So be it, but I also request that we may be able to reclaim the dead to be given the proper honors for serving the Imperium.â€™ The stormtroopers at Leviticusâ€™s side were relieved at the prospect of giving their dead the appropriate honors.
â€˜They were a worthy if inferior foe. You may reclaim your dead for transport where they will receive their honors. Time is short. Let us begin.â€™ The marines separated the stormtroopers from the Inquisitor and removed all their weapons. They were marched up to the landing platform to perform their grisly detail of cleaning up the dead under the watchful gaze of the Marines. The walkways upon which they stood were now deserted. The populace had gone into hiding at the turn of events and wanted to be as far from danger as possible.
The section of the hive was relatively deserted as the Guardsmen policed up the bodies of the dead and set them in the Thunderhawk to be transported away. Leviticus stood by the Librarian guarded by two marines. The Librarian turned and softly continued, â€˜You did well brother to last so long and to make for a daring escape. I do not think anyone has tried to leave a planet posed as an Inquisitor before, but it is a very large galaxy. Next time, you might want to try and cover your boots.â€™
â€˜Yes, Brother-Librarian. If I may, how did you find me?â€™
â€˜The carrier the Administratum uses get paid double by the Inquisition for any possible leads to heretics, mutants and the like. Marines are not very good at going undercover and you were discovered. The carrier sent a psychic message out and both of us responded.â€™
â€˜Hmmmâ€¦ So what do we do now?â€™ asked Leviticus.
â€˜A lot will reside with you; we are only a small group of less than one hundred Angels. We are currently led by Lord Leliel. He is a great warrior, but he has forsaken his oath to the Emperor. He cares only for himself. Brother Xaphan is our sole Techmarine. He has done well to mend our armor and provide us the material we need for war. Apothecary Assiel is also a recent find and has been most beneficial to the group. They will want to inspect you before you join the rest of the marines. We operate as a silent entity and do what we must to survive. The less people know of us the better.â€™
â€˜And what of the Deathwing?â€™
â€˜They are starting to get better at tracking us. We can only operate in a sector for a couple months before we must depart. Sadly, there is enough corruption in the Imperium that we can always find work, supplies and safe havens.â€™
â€˜I do not like the sound of this, not at all.â€™ Stated Leviticus
The stormtroopers finished their duty to the dead and everyone boarded the Gunship. As the ship left the platform, Librarian Uwala sent out a mind pulse into the hive that purged the minds of the humans in the hive of their presence. Should the populace ever be asked what had happened; they will simply respond that nothing had happened and that it has always been that way.
+ + +
The Thunderhawk landed in the Landing bay of a small cruiser, Techmarine Xaphan stood on the deck. His servo arm poised idly over his head. He gave a cold look at the new possession his brothers acquired.
Now I will have to rebuild the blasted contraption to get it ready for Marine use. Leliel might even make this his new personal craft.
The front hatch dropped and the Marines descended with the Stormtroopers in tow. Three marines were carried out and they made their way to the Apothecarium. The sight brought a snarl to the Techmarineâ€™s face. He turned toward the new bird and set to work inspecting this latest acquisition. He motioned over a group of servitors that began to perform their designated functions. A group black armored marines appeared out of a corridor and upon reporting to Xaphan; they set to work repairing and cleaning the Gunship.
Leviticus turned back to the bustle of activity that had descended upon the Gunship. It seemed feasible in such a small group that brothers will have to take up additional duties. He had recovered all of his gear and made to follow the Librarian when a Servo-Arm pushed him back and away.
Xaphan brought his scarred face close to Leviticus. â€˜You had better be worth the lives of those marines that were carried out. We have lost too many brothers to rescue whelps. We do not replace our losses easily and it seems that more are lost to recover but a few.â€™
â€˜Only time will tell.â€™ he replied.
â€˜Time, is a luxury none of us has anymore. More Dark Angels Legionnaires are appearing than has ever happened in time since the destruction of Caliban. Best learn that quickly. Something is happening out there and I donâ€™t want to be caught without my weapons!â€™ With that, Xaphan turned and assisted the brothers with their duties repairing and modifying the Thunderhawk.
Leviticus left to find the Librarian. He crossed the threshold of the blast doors and skidded to a halt as Uwala approached on the other side.
Without a word, Leviticus followed. So far, his time with this bunch of Fallen Angels was not shaping up well at all. The men took pride in their work, but it looked as though they had no direction. They were a rabble. Not a finely tune instrument of the Emperor. He pondered this as he was led toward the Apothecarium. The tension in the room was thick enough that it was suffocating. All the marines from the Thunderhawk stood around an operating table with their helmets removed.
On the slab was a Marine stripped down to his waste. His right arm was gone and the flesh surrounding it looked melted. The plasma burn was so intense that the veins around the wound had burst as the blood within flash boiled. The marineâ€™s breathing was very shallow and erratic. The Apothecary came out of a back room carrying an assortment of tools and drugs. He set to work on the body and the black clad marines stood silent vigil. Occasionally, Leviticus would sense the penetrating stare of one of the other marines. The second slab saw a second marine lying still. Only two sections of his armor were removed and two fresh wounds had not sealed. The marine was dead. Without a pulse, Larraman cells could not be sent to the wounds to close the wounds. A brother knelt next to the dead Angel, his head resting in the palm of his hand. He walked over and put a gauntleted hand on the kneeling marine.
The marine looked up with a tear in his eyes. Leviticus was shocked at this display. Marines knew no emotions other than anger and serenity. The marine saw the quizzical look in his eyes and answered the unspoken question. â€˜He was my brother, before we became Dark Angels. We passed the Trials together and have always fought together. We were not even separated as we fled Caliban and found ourselves scattered through space and time. Now he is gone, and I remain.â€™
â€˜He died fighting for something bigger than himself. That is most noble sacrifice any one can make.â€™ Leviticus replied.
â€˜I know, and I tell myself that constantly. But what does one do after he has lost a life long companion?â€™
â€˜You remember him and repeat and hold his name in honor. You have already taken up the same task as he. Beyond that, you are a marine. Marines never relinquish control for they know now fear. Even more, you are a Dark Angel. The first of the mighty legions, we served the Emperor personally before the Lion was even found.â€™ The weeping marine nodded his head and let out a large sniff. His eyes were red and swollen but they had that knowing look that told Leviticus that his words were having an effect. He looked up to see the rest of the Fallen Angels in the room looking at him. The marine on the table had died and the extraction of the Progenoid glands had been completed.
The Marine at Leviticusâ€™s feet rose up. â€˜Thanks Brother.â€™
â€˜Thank you for rescuing me, Brother â€¦â€™
â€˜Thank You, Brother Paschar. I am Leviticus.â€™ He looked over the marine standing before him and noticed the punctures in the marineâ€™s armor. â€˜It looks like you need to be checked by the Apothecary.â€™
â€˜Say again?â€™ Paschar looked puzzled before looking down at his armor. He became aware of several puncture wounds in his armor and the recent scar tissue that had formed over the areas where the armor stopped and his flesh began.
The Apothecary took no time to address his new patientâ€™s wounds. The remaining marines filed out to leave the Apothecary to his medical duties and then the grim task of removing the bodies of two marines.
Leviticus assisted Assiel with Pascharâ€™s armor and helped to bind his wounds. He looked over at Uwala who was still standing quietly at the corner of the Apothecarium a small smile touched the corners of his lips before he turned to leave.
Paschar was badly wounded and would not be ready for combat for some time, but he will live. Leviticus assisted him back to his quarters and spent the night in silent prayer as Paschar slept.
+ + +
â€˜Well? Where is this newest member of the crew that cost us so dear?â€™ Leliel questioned.
Qalbam stood facing the lord. â€˜When last we saw, he was with Brother Paschar. Leviticus is still blinded by the Imperial light.â€™
A grimace came to Lelielâ€™s scarred features. â€˜Then we will have to shade him from that light and open his eyes to the real world and the real opportunities that were hidden by it.â€™ He marched over to the transparisteel window that looked out at the planet below. Uwala, you will not get the upper hand on me. I will see you dead before I let you get any stronger. â€˜We depart the system in six hours. As soon as the Navigator takes us into the warp, I want to see this Leviticus.â€™
â€˜What of the Stormtroopers and the corpses?â€™
â€˜Put them into Airlock Three.â€™
Qalbam smiled, â€˜Yes Lord, it will be done immediately.â€™
Last edited by Grand Master Belial; January 16th, 2006 at 23:24.
Leviticus sat in quiet meditation in Pascharâ€™s quarters. He could feel the vibrations of the marines as they approached the portal to the quarters. Paschar was resting fitfully still reeling from the loss. Leviticus sat with his sword across his lap and his bolt pistol close to hand. The portal opened to the harsh artificial light that passed for light on the ship. Within the light stood two fully armored marines, each one beckoned the seated marine to follow them. Following between his escorts, he realized that this ship was very small in comparison to some of the battle barges that he had served on during the Great Crusade.
Lord Leliel stood in the Observation deck when the three Fallen Angels approached. Apothecary Assiel, Epistolary Uwala, and Techmarine Xaphan all stood behind Leliel in a half moon along with several other Fallen Angels. Leliel stood reminiscent in the furs of an animal that he had killed some time in the past. His black armor polished and the brass adornments glittering brightly in the light of the stars as well as the glow-globes within the room.
Leviticus had previously noticed that many of the Fallen had replaced their Mark Five Heresy Armor for newer suits of armor. He stood before them in nothing but his battle robes and his Mark 5 armor, looking exactly like he did during the Great Crusade. His weapons were holstered but were cleaned and ready for fighting if needed.
Approaching Leliel, Leviticus grew very uneasy. Leliel wore no robes save the furs and his armor with the gilded brass suggested a very opulent life since leaving the Dark Angel Legion.â€˜Welcome aboard the Angelis Conturbo, Brother. I am Lord Leliel of the Dark Angels Legion.â€™
â€˜I am Sergeant Leviticus, also of the Dark Angels Legion.â€™
â€˜Ah, it makes sense for you to be a Sergeant. I have been told me of your handling of Brother Paschar in the Apothecarium. Good work, by the way. Those two were very close, almost like true brothers.â€™
â€˜They were, Lord Leliel.â€™
â€˜Yes. You are probably wondering why we showed up and brought you aboard our ship. To put it simply, we are searching out our true brothers. Those of us that were raised from mighty Terra are being asked to join in a quest to reclaim our heritage and place in the universe once more. We have been involved in many small skirmishes. Each brother lost is a brother that cannot be replaced. Therefore, we have taken up the search for our kindred brethren. Now that we found you, we must find others, but we also need to look out for ourselves. With no base of operations, we have to rely on our own resources to keep our operation alive. Agreed?â€™
â€˜Agreed,â€™ replied Leviticus. There was something missing in that statement that Leviticus felt unnerving.
â€˜Well, for now you are a guest on this vessel, but be warned. A time is coming soon where you will be needed to side with us in our upcoming operations. By that time, you will decide if you are to stay with us, or not.â€™
â€˜Yes, my Lord.â€™ No, I do not like this at all. There is foulness here, a greater taint.
Uwala walked forward to stand beside Leliel. â€˜My Lord, shall we proceed.â€™
â€˜Yes. Begin the examination.â€™
â€˜Yes, Lord. Sergeant, you are required to submit to a mind scan before you leave this room.â€™ The marines around the room snapped up their weapons to point them at Leviticus. â€˜Before we proceed, you are to surrender your weapons.â€™ Another marine stepped forth to accept his armament.
Leviticusâ€™s eyes narrowed as he studied the faces of the Librarian, Leliel and the marine. Slowly he with drew his bolt pistol from the holster at his side and handed butt-first to the black-clad marine. He drew out the sword and held in his upturned palms. Uwala and the marine stepped back. Uwalaâ€™s eyebrow went up and the marine voiced his concerned. â€˜Lord, I know this blade! It is the blade of the Traitor Omael!â€™ The marine dropped all that he was carrying and grabbed his chainsword. â€˜I swore vengeance on the brothers of Squad Omael. Traitors! Cowards!â€™ The room filled with roaring of the Chainsword followed by a second chainsword.
Leviticus swept the blade around into a guard position and stood poised between two Fallen Angels that had once stood taciturn but were now enraged.
Leliel stood silent, an eyebrow raised. This is an interesting turn of events.
Uwala jumped forward, â€˜Enough! It has already cost us two good Angels to bring Sergeant Leviticus to us. How many more must die!â€™
â€˜I will not serve next to a traitor!â€™ shouted one marine over the roar of his chainsword.
â€˜Nor I!â€™ shouted the second.
â€˜Apparently, it will cost us one or two more before Leviticus can be brought fully in the fold.â€™ Leliel said calmly. Let us see how your new champion fares, Uwala. â€˜Well? What are you waiting for Angels? Purge the traitor.â€™
Leviticus moved in a blur. It pained him that he had removed his helmet for the examination. The other two marines were fully armored and ready for a fight. So be it.
Leviticus danced between the savage slashes coming from the pair of enraged Fallen Angels. He remained calm and parried the chainswords with the flat of his power sword. While the sword can cut through a chainsword with very little difficulty, the moment the chain was free it would launch itself directly out at whatever the sword was pointing, him. Using the flat of his blade, which would not release the destructive energy contained within; he was able to manipulate other objects.
Uwala looked on with a look of revulsion and horror. Why would Leliel sacrifice two more marines for this one? It did not make any sense. Leviticus was out numbered and overpowered. Without his helmet, he could not take advantage of the auto-senses his suit could provide. His suit was an antique. The Heresy Armor was prone to being underpowered when loaded with additional armor plating. Judging by the his movements, Uwala judged he had additional plating on his armor and sweat was quickly beading on his forehead. His suitâ€™s power source was turned up and not bleeding off heat fast enough. It did not take a Librarian to figure that Leviticus would be exhausted far before the other two marines.
Leviticus was feeling the fatigue creep into his muscles. He had not seen war for a long time and his musculature was not as refined as his opponents were. They moved with far more grace than he did in his armor, suggesting the improvements made by the Machine Lords on Mars. He finally saw an opening in the near berserk rage of his opponents. One marine came in with a thrust to his chest. While it tugged on his robe and shredding a section, he spun around the back of the over-balanced marine and took a level swing at the second marine blocked by the first. He instinctly brought his blade up into a block before remembering the weapon he faced. The chainsword came apart as the power sword sliced through not only the sword but cleaved the marineâ€™s shoulder guard and helmet. Tungsten teeth shot out of the broken chainsword. One section chewed into the armor of a Fallen Angel watching the battle while the second section shot straight up to embed itself in the massively thick transparisteel dome.
The other marine had recovered his balance and noticed the rolling black helmet leaving a wet red trail on the deck plating. His anger brought his hand to his bolt pistol. Leviticus turned in time to see the bolt pistol being leveled at his head. Dropping, he felt the crack as a bolt round passed near his head and punched into his backpack. The force of which broke the backpack away from him just before the round exploded. The sudden increase in weight helped him to fall into a combat roll. Using that momentum, he planted a foot and lurched upward with a massive swing that took the hand and bolt pistol off the marine just below the elbow. The Marine roared in pained but it was silenced as he finished the swing by running the blade of the sword through the marine.
Sparks leapt from the severed power conduits on the marineâ€™s front, but the Marine was not to be denied his vengeance. He brought his chainsword around to split Leviticus from head to toe.
Suddenly defenseless, Leviticus grabbed the wrist of the hand holding the chainsword. His other hand withdrew to his belt where his combat knife lay sheathed. Grabbing it with the blade down, he withdrew it across his chest before turning the point into the joint of his opponents shoulder. Stretched as it was, the joint parted beneath the point of the knife and the armored marine again roared in pain. The marineâ€™s arm went slack beneath his grip and he immediately went to withdraw his sword. It was lodged firm enough that instead of pulling free, he pulled the marine toward him. The marine lashed out with a heavy head butt that sent him reeling.
The marine stood next to the body of his headless comrade. Reaching down to his dead brotherâ€™s sidearm. He raised a second bolt pistol at Leviticus.
Uwala had seen enough, projecting an invisible lance of energy. The armed marine screamed in pain before dropping to the deck in a heap.
Leviticus shook his head clear and approached the marine crumpled on the deck. The Fallen Angel looked like a pincushion with both his knife and sword embedded in the marine. Picking up the dropped chainsword, he kicked the bolt pistol away before examining the marine. He was not moving. â€˜Apothecary! This Angel may need you ministrations.â€™
Assiel approached the form on the deck and engaged his Narthecium on his wrist. Plugging into the other marineâ€™s suit brought up the vital signs of the prostrate marine. The response was disheartening. With a prayer, he triggered an impulse into the autonomic functions of the marineâ€™s armor. Within moments, the vital signs on the Narthecium disappeared. The Emperorâ€™s Mercy had been administered; a pulse of energy throughout the marineâ€™s neural network that disrupts all bodily functions causing death. While not as noble as the bolt through the head, the procedure helps preserve the Progenoid gland in the neck. â€˜Take this man to the Apothecarium, now.â€™
Leviticus did not know if that order was meant for him and quickly stooped down to gather up the dead marine. Another black clad marine came to collect the second corpse and followed Leviticus the Apothecary.
Leliel stood with a snarl on his face. Uwala smiled on the inside.
+ + +
Leviticus withdrew his weapons from the corpse. He had delivered the body and prepared to leave.
â€˜Wait just a second, Sergeant. There still is the manner of your evaluation. You have been away from Legion too long. You will need a complete medical workup. Remove your armor.â€™
Standing before the Apothecary, Leviticus was poked and prodded by Assiel until he felt like the marine he had just killed. Satisfied that the Apothecary had performed every test needed to determine the condition of the newest member of their crew, he went back to his armor. Coming out of the examination bay, he saw the Techmarine stooped over his armor.
â€˜Mark Five armor, straight from the old Legion armory. In good field condition too.â€™ remarked the Techmarine. â€˜Well itâ€™s good to see that you can take care of something other than other marines. Well, you managed to destroy one suit of armor with your sword. Another damaged by plasma fire and the other two have puncture holes. The good thing is I can fix the last two. In fact, the armor belonging to Pascharâ€™s brother can be ready in very little time.â€™
â€˜Iâ€™m not tracking Brother Xaphan,â€™ queried Leviticus.
â€˜While your armor is still serviceable, it will not suffice in our next mission.â€™
â€˜We are made for war. In addition, we need resources to continue to operate. Surely, you know that, being a Sergeant and all.â€™ Xaphan commented nonchalantly. â€˜We are getting ready to depart for another sector. Lord Leliel has plotted a course to a way station. There we can hire out our unique services in return for supplies.â€™
â€˜Isnâ€™t that running the risk of our being discovered and reported?â€™
â€˜No, Lord Leliel has some special arrangements in place as well as a few human couriers aboard ship. Now, back to the matter at hand, report to me at 1700 for your new armor. I think you will come to prefer the Mark 7 over the Mark 5. It was recently repainted and the artificer work should meet your approval judging by the adornment on this suit.â€™
â€˜And my weapons?â€™
â€˜You certainly earned the right to keep the sword but we donâ€™t have the bolter rounds that match your bolt pistol. You will be issued a newer model that we can support.â€™
â€˜Iâ€™d like to keep the old one if you donâ€™t mind.â€™
â€˜Sure, since these weapons were manufactured on Caliban. The secret of their particular manufacture is lost.â€™
â€˜More reason to hold on to them I guess. Itâ€™s not like we have a fragment of the past like the Chapter Dark Angels.â€™
â€˜Perhaps. We will need to prepare you in any regards. After you are brought up to our standard, you will begin to drill with the rest of the marines on board.â€™
â€˜How many are aboard?â€™
â€˜All told, 34 now. We seem to lose them faster than we can get them. When Leliel first took over this ship, he had a visitor aboard and we just seem to be in the right place at the right time to gather marines. We were nearly a company in our own right. Since the visitor departed a couple years back, our run of luck seemed to have dwindled considerably. Now get a tunic on and meet me in the Armory on Deck 15.â€™ Xaphan turned and left the Apothecarium.
Leviticus also made his way out of the Apothecarium. Brother Paschar had been summoned to take him over to one of the now vacated quarters. Paschar brought his travel bag and allowed him to change into a lightweight tunic until he was given the new armor. Saying his prayers, the chronometer on the wall revealed that he needed to depart toward the armory. Opening the portal revealed Epistolary Uwala.
â€˜Brother Librarian, I did not hear you announce your presence.â€™
â€˜I just arrived. Where are you off to?â€™
â€˜I am ordered to report to Techmarine Xaphan to receive some new armor and weapons.â€™
â€˜Ah, letâ€™s not keep him waiting. He gets rather grumpy when his orders are not followed precisely. I guess thatâ€™s why he is a Techmarine.â€™
Leviticus turned and followed in step just behind the armored librarian. Uwala gladly took the lead down the corridor and in the conversation. â€˜What is your impression of this group of marines?â€™
â€˜I donâ€™t trust them. I cannot trust anything. It seems to cause me problems.â€™
Uwala chuckled, â€˜Interesting. That aside what are your impressions of Leliel?â€™
â€˜He appears to have lost his way. How is it that he has come to lead?â€™
â€˜Itâ€™s quite simple really, he was a Grand Master in the Legion, and he has a large enough number of marines willing to follow and protect him.â€™
â€˜But he appears to have disgraced the honor of Grand Master and has taken to the life of a mercenary. He does not appear to care about the marines under him or the Imperium of Man.â€™
â€˜As to the latter, he feels betrayed by the Emperor and the Lion. The Lion for letting him sit on Caliban instead of leading marines into battle as he had done throughout the great Crusade. He feels that the Emperor betrayed him by leaving him with the Lion instead of taking Leliel with him. He was always one to be at the front of any battle and it has gotten him very far. Being stuck in the rear has turned him very bitter. I have sensed the tendrils of Chaos around him, but he hasnâ€™t yet succumbed to the temptation.â€™
â€˜Why are you telling me this?â€™
â€˜Two things; first, Leliel considers me a rival and you my newest champion. It is never deep in his mind. Second, I saw how you fought on the observation deck. By all rights, you should be dead. Yet, you are alive and they are dead. That tells me that there is something within you capable of toppling Leliel from his seat of power and bringing order back to this group of Dark Angels.â€™
â€˜Why donâ€™t you lead Brother-Librarian?â€™
â€˜I can not lead. I still respect the edict set forth by the Emperor to his legions; that all Librarians are a supporting element to the Marines of the Legions. We chronicle the accomplishments of others and maintain the records of the Legion or group in this case. I can lead for a mission, but I cannot and will not lead continuously. That was not the Lionâ€™s way or the Dark Angelsâ€™ way.â€™
â€˜I see, but why me? I am only a Sergeant, one that was promoted only upon the death of my former Sergeant. I never even went through the solemn Rites of Promotion. I am nothing more than a simple marine.â€™
â€˜There you are wrong. I can administer the rites, though we lack a chaplain. However, do not think for one minute that you are nothing more than a simple marine. You have not truly fallen. You are still loyal. I can see your thoughts and you harbor no anger for the Dark Angel Chapters. You fought with great sadness on your heart on Caliban. You still believe in the Great Crusade. You have far more honor and purity of soul around you than any other marine does on this vessel. I know very well the exploits of Omael when he was alive. He served nobly and without resentment for being left on Caliban. He trained many marines and still much of his training is taught to our Chapter brethren. As a member of his squad, you got the best training of all. You lived on his orders and he ordered you to serve with honor, pride, and humility. Were I not a member of the Arcanus Librarium, I would be envious of you and your posting.â€™
Leviticus stood pondering everything the Librarian had just told him. Finally, he concluded. â€˜Alright, I understand we are on our way to a star base to acquire supplies and render our services as disgusting mercenaries.â€™
â€˜Iâ€™ll keep an eye on Brother Leliel and those close to him. If they stray too far from the Emperorâ€™s edict, then justice will be brought upon them.â€™
â€˜Thatâ€™s all Iâ€™m asking for.â€™
â€˜Emperor, what have I gotten myself into?â€™ Leviticus asked as he walked into the Armory. Uwala walked back to his sanctum with a smile on his face.
Last edited by Grand Master Belial; January 16th, 2006 at 23:23.
It has been one standard week since Leviticus and Uwala talked in the corridor. He received a suit of Mark 7 armor and a newer bolt pistol. He took it upon himself to fashion new battle robes to go with the new armor. He took part in drilling with several of the marines that continued to maintain their combat readiness.
Brother Paschar had recovered from his grief, taking to the drills with renewed purpose. Putting down his bolter, he had taken up additional training with the flamer, meltagun, and plasmagun. While the flamer sparked the flame of rage, the plasmagun became the weapon of choice. With accuracy that Leviticus had not seen since the Great Crusade, the marine grew ever more lethal.
Leviticus accelerated his own training to get back into proper fighting form. Monitored closely by Apothecary Assiel, he began to feel the vigor that had been lost since the fall of Caliban. His body quickly recovered itself and was well on its way of recovering itself; he awoke one morning in his chambers to find that the potency of his Betcherâ€™s Gland had returned. In the fit of a dark dream, he had inadvertently triggered the gland in his troubled sleep. The spray of acidic poison had etched itself into the deck plating as well as singing the lower edges of his battle robe.
Several marines continually wanted to spar with Leviticus when it was discovered that his sword fight on the Observation Deck made it through the ranks. Those marine who did not see the fight have continually challenged Leviticus to one on two matches to see if the rumors were true. He continued to best each pairing that stood against him. Leliel was also present on some of the sparing sessions. The look on the lordâ€™s face was a small encouragement to him and he continued to train harder.
It was on the fourth day that he met Sergeant Jehuel, full of arrogance and pride, he laughed when he saw Leviticus on the training deck with a three other marines in hand-to-hand drills. It was later discovered that Jehuel and him had met each other on Caliban during the fall. As Omael withdrew his squad, Jehuel was sent to eradicate the errant Omael and its squad. They were staring at each other down the length of their bolters when the Lion and his Dark Angels crashed into the weakness left by Omael. Jehuel felt cheated for not being able to complete his mission and now looked forward to facing off against Leviticus.
Jehuel watched intently as Leviticus wrestled with another marine. Jehuel had been watching on the Observation Deck and learned that he was lethal behind a sword. Nevertheless, without it, he was not as strong. Jehuel and the four marines accompanying him continually roared with laughter as Leviticus was unceremoniously slammed onto the practice mat.
Leviticusâ€™s current sparing partner, Gurid, was becoming exasperated at becoming a sideshow attraction for the arrogant marines. Gurid had been working alongside him for two hours and Leviticus was not yet back to the proper fighting levels of the Dark Angel Legion. He had spent too many years in hiding. His skills had diminished though they were not entirely lost. Gurid found his opponentâ€™s mind very much strong and agile. Gurid had raw power on his side, but Leviticus has proven repeatedly that raw power does not win battles. A sharp mind does.
He kept his cool and summoned Gurid into another bout. However, this time Gurid left an opening that normally was not there. Sensing an intentional setup, he ignored the opening for a short while to put on a show. Finally, he took the advantage and proceeded to force Gurid into submission. The laughter died out, but Leviticus took no joy in the victory. Jehuel and his fellow marines departed but not before a dark look was sent back to him.
â€˜Good match Brother Leviticus.â€™
â€˜Do not lie. You threw the match, Brother Gurid.â€™
â€˜My apologies, but I did not lie. You are correct in that I let you win, but you still fought none the less and you did well.â€™
â€˜Wrestling was never my strongest ability.â€™
â€˜Perhaps it is because you continually plant yourself.â€™
â€˜Well then, letâ€™s practice until I get it right.
+ + +
Deep in their evening prayers, Chaplain Lucifer recited the tales of the Lion to the assembled mass of the Third Company of Dark Angels. As the Chaplain recited each passage, he walked between the assembled men. Inspecting each warrior in turn, as they knelt in supplication before the Company Banner. The recent campaign in the remains of Caliban had been taxing. The company was still not at full strength. The chaplain had inspected each marine before concluding his oratory.
Dismissing the Company to partake in the evening meal, Chaplain Lucifer turned back to see a figure in a long off-white robe appear out of an antechamber. He pulled back his hood at the chaplainâ€™s approach. The all-concealing robe was only used when the Inner Circle was in a special session. Revealed under the hood was the latest Grand Master of the Third Company, Camael.
â€˜My apologies for not being in attendance Chaplain, we have heard very disturbing news. It appears one of the Fallen has come out of hiding and that others have swept him up before us.â€™
â€˜Is that so? Do we have any indication as to where they went?â€™
â€˜No, but by the Lion we are already en route to the world they left, Caminus Mundis.â€™
â€˜By the Lion, how has one of Lutherâ€™s followers ended up on a recruiting world?â€™
â€˜I have no idea. We will arrive in a dayâ€™s time. During the Trials, I will take a select group of Brothers to get that answer and others. Brother Librarian Ezekiel is very anxious to receive word on which of our brothers these are. You are not to take part in this mission.â€™
â€˜Very well Grand Master, my duties will occupy me during the Trials.â€™
â€˜It is because of the Trials that you are to be left behind. We must proceed as planned.â€™
â€˜Yes Grand Master. I concur.â€™
â€˜Now let us join our brothers in the galley for the meal.â€™
+ + +
Lord Leliel stood at the center of the small group of assembled marines. â€˜Angels! We have with us a newfound brother. His name is Leviticus. He has proven himself in battle both during the Crusade and more recently on the decks of this ship. He has been given the rank of Veteran Sergeant from his predecessor, but has not led a squad nor taken the Rites of Promotion. I then put the decision to you. Is there any amongst you who would be willing to take orders from this man?â€™
Gurid stepped forward. â€˜I will accept the orders of Brother Leviticus and follow them with honor.â€™
Paschar also stood forward, â€˜I will also accept Brother Leviticus to become my Sergeant.â€™
Two more marines stepped forward to vouch for his promotion to Sergeant. Leviticus stood quietly behind Leliel. He had enough for a combat squad but he needed one more to gain promotion to full Sergeant by the rules Leliel had put forth. His hope rested mainly with a marine in Jehuelâ€™s squad, Vehuiah. The marine was the last of his common sparing partners. Being Jehuelâ€™s Squad Leader did not help much. However, he loved to learn and Leviticus found himself teaching more than learning.
â€˜Is no one else willing to accept the leadership of Leviticus?â€™ questioned Leliel.
Vehuiahâ€™s head turned between the two. The war in his mind was fierce. Also fierce was the penetrating look of Jehuel displaying his disgust that his second doubted his leadership. Leviticus also had him in his gaze. While being no less penetrating, his eyes betrayed no emotion whatsoever.
â€˜Anyone else?â€™ Leliel asked for a second time.
â€˜Donâ€™t you dare, Vehuiah! You are not his. You are mine! You demean me by even contemplating this betrayal! You are not worthy of being my Squad Leader!â€™ Jehuel shouted.
â€˜Then I will be his, Jehuel. I will go and serve Leviticus.â€™ replied Vehuiah.
â€˜So be it. Go to that pitiful marine.â€™ Jehuel spat out. His voice filled with hatred.
Leliel put up his hand to silence the squabble. â€˜It is decided then. Brother Leviticus will undergo the Rites of Promotion under the instruction of Uwala and me. He will become the Sergeant of the Second Squad.â€™
Leviticus was somewhat relieved. He has been accepted by other Fallen Angels, but it is unheard of for anyone other than a Chaplain and Librarian to perform the Rites. Uwalaâ€™s face also betrayed the shock of the news.
Uwala returned to his quarters very distressed with the preparations for Leviticusâ€™s Rites of Promotion. He could not figure out if Leliel was purposely trying to sabotage the Rites or was so self-absorbed that he could not think about what is best for the marine in question instead of what would best serve his own purposes. The two had argued for hours over the tiniest of nuances regarding the Rites. Uwala had already given so many concessions just because of the circumstances. Uwala fought tooth and nail to maintain, as much purity as he could but Leliel would have none of that. His version of the rites had Leviticus swearing undying loyalty to Leliel and following his orders without question and worse, without thought.
The true way was to take the marine through a series of trials that challenged his mind, body, spirit and the men he was to lead intermixed with instruction and meditation. The rights are supposed to take three weeks. Yet, they had only five days before their arrival at the space station.
The strain was also aggravated because the ship was traveling through the Immaterium. As his anger rose, so to did he need to add strength to the reinforcements within his mind. The flare of soul fire would almost certainly bring about a demonic attack were he not able to control his thoughts and maintain his own defenses. Leliel was itching to get into another war, but Uwala was fighting a silent war every moment of everyday.
Reciting meditation chants helped to cool the anger and he tried to think clearly about what to do in the next five days.
+ + +
Leviticus began his severely truncated Rites the following evening. Uwala dropped the timeline down to three days and Leliel took the new schedule immediately. Leliel had performed the initiation ceremony though he had to be helped by Uwala. Uwala repressed a smile and the embarrassed Lord left as soon as the ceremony was concluded. Uwala pressed the advantage given to him and began to instruct him as quickly as he could. Neither would sleep for the next three days.
The morning dawned with the six marines reporting to him to begin their part of the Rites. They began by going through inspection and basic drills with him leading the entire time. Leliel returned and ordered Jehuel to select four men to fill in temporarily the rest of Leviticusâ€™s squad. Jehuel gladly picked Vehuiahâ€™s squad mates. The sour reunion instantly created discord in the squad.
Leviticus took on the extra burden with barely a noticeable response. Launching at the challenge anew, he continually forced the four troublesome marines into line. By the end of the day, he had exhausted every non-lethal form of punishment known to him. Dismissing the men to their chambers, he began another night of intense instruction. Uwala had been watching closely the entire time and altered his instruction to allow him to engage his Catalepsean Node for a couple hours as he lectured on ceremonies so that he was still able to process the information in a rudimentary sense as he rested.
The second day was not much better. In fact, it was made worse by Jehuelâ€™s continual presence. Every order Leviticus gave the temporary squad members was immediately countermanded by Jehuel. He smacked one marine upside his helmet to remind him that during this exercise the chain of command came through him and not Jehuel.
As part of the Rites, Leviticus had to take his midday meal and give it to his men to reinforce that a Sergeant is nothing unless he takes care of the men under his command. He gained a small victory over Jehuel by giving the four problem marines the bigger portions of his meal. The six other members noticed the gesture, as did Uwala. The four marines did nothing but stare at the additional food. Traditionally, the portion size was determined by the training sergeant to show which marines were giving him the best learning experience. By showing, that he was learning more from the four marines, he disgusted them and shocked Jehuel into storming off for a while.
The rest of the day went better of Leviticus as the four marines switched tactics and became submissive to the orders. They did only what he told them and nothing more. Until, he placed Vehuiah back in charge of them. The squad leader had been watching and learning. The moment his combat squad acted up, Vehuiah was all over them and he returned the vitriol with extra to spare. It brought a thin smile to the tired face of Leviticus.
The third day brought about a different kind of challenge. Leviticus had a part to play in the final Promotion ceremony. He had to march the squad through the ranks of the assembled marines and present them to the Lord for inspection. The quality of the inspection determined the outcome of the ceremony. Were the marines presented not ready for combat, he would be shamed and his promotion denied. However, were the marines able to fight instantly, he would be praised and elevated to the rank of Sergeant.
Leviticus walked out of the chamber Uwala and him had used for their nights of instruction. Before them stood the original six marines, but the four were silently absent. He had them tracked down and the four reported on the deck with filthy suits of armor. They had purposely soiled their armor to the point where they could not be cleaned by the time of the ceremony. The aspiring sergeant was greatly dismayed until Uwala showed up with four other marines.
â€˜Leviticus, it is time to muster your entire squad together for the first time. These marines served in the Third Squad but there skills are not in the heavy weapons but in the bolter. They have been transferred to your new squad now. You four! Your presence is no longer required. Report to Jehuel and you might want to clean yourselves up before the ceremonies. You wouldnâ€™t want to disgrace Brother Sergeant Jehuel no would you?â€™
The dejected four meekly replied, â€˜No, Sir.â€™ They walked out stunned that their little scheme failed. Jehuel had even ordered the rest of the squad help them prepare for the stunt.
After a brief introduction, the now full squad prepared for the evening ceremony. Leviticus could not wait for this to be over so that he can rest properly before the ship docked at an outpost inside two days. Uwala also stepped in from time to time to see that he had thought through everything and was still paying attention to the details. Leliel also stepped in but he did not stay long and never said a word.
Finally, the ceremony began and all those not required to maintain the ship in the warp were sent to the flight deck for the ceremony. Under the presence of three Thunderhawk Gunships, Leviticus marched his marines up to the front of the formation and presented them for inspection. Thankfully, he had donned on his helmet as there was a noticeable distance surrounding Jehuelâ€™s squad. The four soiled marines had their armor quickly cleaned but the stench was still strong enough to repel everyone nearby. Leliel, Uwala, and Xaphan proceeded through the rank inspecting each marine. Finally, they came up to him. Leliel closely scrutinized the aspiring Sergeant. Grunting, Leliel turned and left back to the raised platform that was set up in front of the formation. Uwala stopped quickly gave a small nod, flashed a smile, and then moved on to take up his position next to Leliel. Xaphan made a very thorough inspection of the entire squad but was even more thorough with him. The Techmarine knew what to look for and the rest of the squad had briefed him before the ceremony. That show of squad unity brought a small measure of satisfaction.
Leliel waited for the Techmarine to take his spot before addressing the formation. â€˜Leviticus! Front and Center! Marines, today is a rare day. One where a member of our little group takes it upon themselves to be more than they were back in the days of the Crusade. Today, we recognize Brother-Marine Leviticus as Brother-Sergeant Leviticus. Over the past three days, he has been challenged to take a group of nine marines and made them into a squad ready to fight. He has been challenged greatly physically and mentally. He has faced each challenge and has overcome each obstacle. This tenacity to overcome will be needed as he leads his new squad into the upcoming battle. Kneel Marine Leviticus and arise Sergeant Leviticus!â€™ The formation broke into mixed cheers and silence. Leliel leaned close to his ear, â€˜after this formation, report to the briefing room to get your first orders. Fall back into your squad.â€™
His mind whirred at the thought that instead of getting some much-needed rest he had to go to a briefing. Leliel dismissed the formation and the squad headed back to their quarters. Vehuiah hung back long enough to catch a quick word with Leviticus. â€˜Any word on what the discussion was about?â€™
â€˜Our first orders.â€™
â€˜It will probably have something to do with the outpost were heading toward. I knew Jehuel was discussing it prior to my defection from his squad. From what I gather, the outpost is a haven for the dregs of the Imperium. No need to worry too much about being discovered.â€™
â€˜You never know where the Dark Angels have their informants. They could be anywhere.â€™
â€˜Perhaps you are right.â€™
â€˜Well, time for me to discover what our orders are.â€™
Leviticus and Vehuiah parted company and Leviticus made his way to the Briefing Room. Leliel awaited him there.
â€˜Welcome Sergeant, since you were undergoing the Rites Iâ€™ll bring you up to speed on our plans the next few days. As you know we are in a Defiant-class Light Cruiser, however a vessel of this type requires support craft for protection. Our contact will arrange to bring us in with his craft. Once aboard, I will leave with my personal squad to go to the meeting. Jehuelâ€™s and your squads will be roaming through the space station. Jehuel has several Tech Adepts in his bunch and they will be responsible for getting additional supplies. Your new bunch will provide security and to be on called upon to assist us in loading additional supplies. After I complete the meeting with our contact, you will be recalled to the ship for immediate departure. Your squad is not to wear armor while on the station. You can use your robes, but otherwise you are to blend into the crowd. The Dark Angels had to have discovered by now that you came out of hiding and will be casting a wide net to track you down. Understand?â€™
â€˜Understood, what shall our armament entail?â€™
â€˜Assault load out only. Everyone there is armed but I would like to keep the place in one piece. They are one of the few places we can go without too many questions asked. In addition, no heroics of any kind, these are not what you would call ideal citizens. They are criminals just as we are. Do not go Angel of Death on us and try to bring judgment on the station. You will be dead before you take three steps. Nothing pulls criminals together like a lawman.â€™
â€˜Understood, infiltrate but do not initiate.â€™
+ + +
Leviticus returned toward the room he used for his quarters. Squad Leader Vehuiah stood outside the portal.
â€˜Brother Vehuiah, what are you doing here?â€™
â€˜These are no longer your quarters. I had the squad relocated together in another wing of the ship. Iâ€™ll take you there.â€™ The two marines made their way down the corridor but it was not long before Vehuiah spoke again, â€˜How was the briefing?â€™
â€˜I would have rather been out of it. We will be pulling security on the station during the Lordâ€™s meeting with whomever. Assault weapons only, no armor and discretionary show of force.â€™
â€˜Ah, the scraper mission. That is what we get for being the newest squad. One that is also not favored now. Ah, here we are. My quarters are across the hall and we have the next four down each side. Now settle in and I will prep the men. I wish we had more of those suits of Scout Armor that is used these days. It would be better to have something instead of nothing.â€™
â€˜Yes it would, now have the men ready to go before we dock.â€™
Vehuiah dropped into a warriorâ€™s bow, â€˜Understood.â€™
The cruiser sidled up to its mooring at the Emperorâ€™s Bounty installation. The space station was far older than all the ships surrounding it. It had definitely seen better days. Contained within the Praedium Colonia system, the station was primarily used to transfer foodstuffs grown within the system to the rest of the Imperium. Until it was touched by Orks, the foul beasts had tainted the food supplies with their fungi spores so that by the time the shipment arrived at their destination the container held a couple of them. Since that time, the planet had been cleansed into a lifeless rock. The station then became a haven for those not wishing to be found.
The marines under Lord Leliel disembarked onto the station and began their respected missions. Leviticus and Paschar were teamed up and made their way around the station. They walked casually in their simple robes but their weapons were still in easy reach. After a while, they felt a need to take certain corridors and go to certain places, drawn by some unknown force. They eventually came to a small row of taverns and clubs of dubious origin. As they walked toward one tavern, another robed figure walked out of the same tavern and made his way in the opposite direction. The two marines were about to pursue when the tavern the figure left erupts into a large fight. A mob of people collapsed on the bar to see what was going on or to join in. The brawl was brutal but the lawlessness of the station would not see this put down in a timely manner. Paschar wanted to break it up but they were under orders not to make a scene.
The two pushed through the masses and continued their patrol towards the area of the meeting on the other side. They were walking along a docking ring for some smaller craft when a very large marine in black armor burst from one of the airlocks. Followed along with a group of humans, he walked with a purpose in his steps and with urgency. He strode over to one of the dock masters and picked him up easily.
â€˜Where is the Voice of Caliban docked?â€™ the marine asked.
â€˜I donâ€™t know what you are talking about.â€™
â€˜Liar, I know that it was on its way here! Where is it?â€™ The marineâ€™s hand squeezed the arm of the dock master until there was loud crack of bones breaking.
â€˜Let.. Let me check,â€™ the man half-shouted in pain.
â€˜Do that and be quick about it. You are already exhausting my patience. â€˜
The dock master turned to a data cogitator and with his good arm, he typed in the query. â€˜The Voice of Caliban departed a little while ago.â€™
â€˜Where was she headed?â€™
â€˜We donâ€™t ask.â€™
â€˜Frag your insolence!â€™ With a quick swipe, he cuffed the dock master so hard his skull caved under the impact. The marine turned back to his human helpers. â€˜Find out where he went and hurry.â€™
Leviticus stood locked to the deck plating. Here was a marine that was leading humans in some sort of crusade, but what really riveted his attention was the emblazoned red symbol shown prominently on has armor. The same symbol that Paschar and he had covered â€“ the Dark Angels Legion.
The other marine noticed the two and approached. â€˜What? Have you never seen a marine before? Donâ€™t you two look in a mirror?â€™
Leviticus pulled his mouth off the floor and responded, â€˜We have never seen another Dark Angel blaze through without disregard to the Chapter.â€™
â€˜Pah! The Chapter? The Legion from which it was spawned is long gone. The Chapter is wrapped up in keeping their precious secrets. Their self-absorption has weakened them. They do not bother me. What bothers me are you.â€™
â€˜You and every other Fallen Angel. What despicable things have you done? For what deluded reasons, have you bartered your souls away? Was it all at once, or has it been a piece at a time? What foul oaths have you taken?â€™
Paschar stood mute. Leviticus was angered. â€˜I have taken no foul oaths and I will not be lectured by a single marine who doesnâ€™t care about that which we built under the guidance of the Emperor.â€™
â€˜Ha ha ha! You are a Crusader then! You are even more deluded than I thought. Although, you are right in one aspect, I do not care about all of this. There is too much corruption here, in this time. The Emperor would have to start another Great Crusade in order to purge the Imperium and make it whole again.â€™
â€˜And you? What are you?â€™
â€˜As far as you need be concerned, I am just another Fallen Angel with a score to settle. Now, before you delay me further, I suggest you let me continue my mission or face the consequences.â€™
Leviticus and Paschar parted to let the marine through and then fell close into step behind. â€˜Your mission?â€™
â€˜I am tracking down another of our brethren, one whose mind is so warped that he believes he can absolve us in the eyes of the rest of the Dark Angels! Insanity I call it. He poses a greater danger than anyone could realize, and I will see him brought down before too much longer.â€™
+ + +
Grand Master Camael sat upon the command throne on the bridge of the battle barge, the Ira Leoninus. The system of Praedium Colonia filled the transparisteel view port. The interrogation of the people on Caminus Mundis revealed little until the Librarian probed the minds of a few individuals. The lasting effects of a mind pulse were unmistakable. The person them self could not remember anything and it would hold up under normal interrogations. They discovered enough that they found out what they needed and a cogitator in the starport had recorded some vital information. The record contained the name of the vessel and its flight plan to the next destination. Whoever commanded that vessel of Fallen was no true spacefarer. Otherwise, they would know more about what the Administratum records and the processes needed to move a ship between points. Camael saw the Chaplain enter onto the command deck.
â€˜How are our newest members to the Chapter?â€™
â€˜Resting and recovering, the apothecaries are tending to them at the moment. By the Lion, may they be better than whatâ€™s out there.â€™
â€˜So youâ€™ve got word.â€™
â€˜Yes, the ship arrived here a while ago. It will still be two days before we are able to stage an assault on the outpost. I will be meeting the Sergeants later to discuss plans. We have also stumbled onto another surprise.â€™
â€˜Really, the Lion has been very gracious to give us another surprise.â€™
A smile came to the Grand Masterâ€™s face, â€˜Yes, one of our other ships had been in pursuit of another renegade. They are both on our targeted station at the present. They just arrived in system. They will catch up to us in four hours.â€™
â€˜Whoâ€™s on board?â€™
â€˜Sergeant Haken and Sergeant Rampel with Deathwingâ€™s 4th and 5th Squads.â€™
â€˜Who are they pursuing?â€™
â€˜Really, I have heard of this renegade. It is told that he leaves behind quite a mess wherever he seems to show up. I am sure his presence on the Rock will be greatly appreciated.â€™
â€˜Yes, it will.â€™
+ + +
It took Leviticus a little while to remember this place. It was the place of the brawl earlier that day. They continued to follow the massive form of Grendelwulf through the station. One of his servants had found his quarry and now the two were moving at a great pace. Men on each side swore as the grizzled marine pushed aside any that would stand in their way. The two marines followed in their wake. The fight had died out and there in the middle of the tavern were the remaining men of Grendelwulfâ€™s company watching a few beaten men over the ends of their weapons.
â€˜Which one?â€™ Grendelwulf asked.
The human pointed and the hulking form knelt in front of one of the beaten men.
â€˜Where did he go?â€™
The man spat into Grendelwulfâ€™s face, but said nothing.
â€˜I donâ€™t have all night, so let us forget the routine pleasantries, shall we?â€™
The marine withdrew a knife and waved it in front of the human before speaking again,
â€˜This beautiful piece of work is a mono-blade. It is one of my favorites. It can cut through meat and bone as if they were butter. Now, where did he go?â€™
â€˜Feth y--!â€™, the sentence was cut off as Grendelwulf plunged the silvery blade deep into the manâ€™s abdomen, impaling him to the wall behind.
â€˜Wait here,â€™ Grendelwulf sighed and glanced at his servants. Understanding his intent, they picked another man from the group. He calmly walked towards the second man, placed his large hand on his shoulder, and effortlessly threw him on top of the first man.
Grendelwulf approached the two men and separated them. He held the second man in his iron grip, quickly pulled the mono-blade from his companion, and then silently sliced all four fingers of the manâ€™s hand. The man screamed in pain, but Grendelwulf paid it no mind and grabbed the manâ€™s neck. The man cradled his sliced hand, looking at the fingers, which had fallen to the floor. Again, the question was asked, â€˜Where did he go?â€™
â€˜Go frag yourself! We were told to expect you. You will not get anything from us.â€™
Grendelwulf was getting angry and he began to clench his fists, knowing that he held the other manâ€™s neck. The manâ€™s eyes bulged as the huge marine crushed his neck utterly within his grip. Releasing the grip, the corpse slumped over.
Leviticus watched the man work. It was gruesome but it was starting to have the desired result. Only a man of honor would die keeping a secret and these men had no honor. The captive kept looking between the corpse of his comrade and Grendelwulf. The bloody blade again rested on the captives lap.
â€˜N-no! I will not tell you anything. Youâ€™ll have to kill me!â€™
â€˜You are already dead, it is simply a matter of how quickly, and when I let you die.â€™
The silvery blade flashed again, but this time Grendelwulf took his time as he sawed the foot off the captive. The screams would have curdled the blood of a normal human. The marines just filtered it out. Plopping the dismembered foot on the captiveâ€™s lap, Grendelwulf asked yet again, â€˜Where did he go?â€™
The manâ€™s face had paled and in agony, but said nothing.
â€˜I must have aimed too high when I stuck you in the belly against the wall,â€™ Grendelwulf placed the point of his combat knife between the manâ€™s legs. The man looked up quickly as the marine poised the blade to cut.
â€˜And someone can verify this?â€™ Grendelwulf asked, seeming disappointed at having to halt his work with the knife. The marineâ€™s audio-receptors picked up the tone and stress levels in the manâ€™s voice and were within the margin for being truthful. Nevertheless, to Grendelwulf, these captives were scum, part of the cancer eating away at the Imperium and cancers had to be removed.
â€˜He can.â€™ The captive bobbed his head to the right. Grendelwulf looked over and moved over to the man indicated.
â€˜Shall we have an encore of the floorshow, or do you wish to tell me your â€˜friendâ€™ here is lying about you?â€™
The next captive sat there with sweat beading off his brow. Grendelwulf left the knife with the other captive, but that did not stop him from quickly standing and bringing an armored foot upon the captiveâ€™s leg releasing another scream. He asked again, â€˜Is he speaking the truth?â€™
Leviticus caught a quick glimpse of light on metal and noticed the end of several weapons. â€˜Action rear!â€™ Bringing up his Bolt pistol, he fired off a quick round. The bolt held true and brought down the man in the adjacent structure. The tavern erupted into a firestorm. Grendelwulf shifted into a covered position leaving behind the captives. Grendelwulfâ€™s men opened fire as well and both groups traded shots with each other.
Leviticus and Paschar kept in cover. Without their armor, they could not operate fully. They still managed to adapt themselves quite well otherwise. Each pull of the trigger stopped one weapon from firing. Grendelwulf held his bolt pistol in his bionic arm and dropped people left and right.
As quickly as it started, the firefight ended. Grendelwulf lost one of his own people and two others were hurt. Grendelwulf did not care; they were all expendable. He had gotten what he needed, a confirmed destination. Looking over, the captives were no longer human. They were nothing but dead organic masses. Picking up his knife, Grendelwulf started to make his way back to his ship before stopping. He turned back to Leviticus and gave a Warriorâ€™s bow. Leviticus and Paschar both returned the bow.
â€˜Glory and honor on your quest, Crusader,â€™ was all the Grendelwulf said before leaving.
â€˜And to you Brother,â€™ came the voice of Leviticus but Grendelwulf had already left.
+ + +
Leliel sat across from a rather portly human. His clothing suggested a life of opulent wealth. Those his features were pinched and worn from a life filled with hard times. Leliel sat patiently as the man rummaged through sheaves of parchment and the occasional dataslate. Leliel looked at all the different commissions the man carried. Search the ruins on some planet looking for STC technology; capture a live Tyranid Lictor or Tyrant for study with doubled rates for multiple specimens, re-establish contact with team on another world. Several were very lucrative, but they were all legal and that meant paperwork. Paperwork that left a trail that the Dark Angels can detect. The man finally found what he was looking for a parchment with quick scribbles of writing. The only evidence of a job that was not legal.
â€˜Ah, here we are! Let us see what we can give you Lord Leliel. Arms smuggling is not your style and politics are a little too visible for you. Dedicated cargo runs will not cover the monetary demands you have set. Ah! Here is one for you and your marines. An object crashed landed on an agrarian world a on the other side of the sector. The locals cannot handle it and have quarantined the area in case it is a weapon of mass destruction. This object as piqued some interest as to it's identity and can it be used. Your job will be to get there first and retrieve it before anyone else. Forty million credits to get it and then a percentage on whatever is discovered and sold.
â€˜Any friendly forces?â€™
â€˜No, The PDF is enforcing the quarantine zone. No one in or out, except through the decontamination camps which are refugee camps. The only way through is to be cleared free from any contagion. Since it landed near one of the few large cities, it may be months to clear decontamination unless youâ€™ve got resources to get you through the lines faster.â€™
â€˜Any biological risks?â€™
â€˜Donâ€™t know and for that many credits, I donâ€™t think they care.â€™
â€˜I am debating this proposal, it is tempting, but I will need to check on a couple things before I accept your offer. Let us reconvene tomorrow morning at nine hundred hours. Iâ€™ll have my decision by then.â€™
â€˜Fourteen hundred is the soonest for me.â€™
â€˜Fourteen hundred then, until tomorrow.â€™
â€˜Until tomorrow Lord Leliel.â€™ The man lifted himself out of the chair with grunt and waddled out of the tavern.
Leliel activated his Vox, â€˜Return to ship, we are done for the day.â€™
+ + +
â€˜Return to ship, we are done for the day.â€™
Leviticus and Paschar got the message and waved over the barmaid. The two had found a tavern with a commanding view over a section of the station. He was torn internally over this breach of discipline. During the Crusade, this behavior would not have been tolerated. It invited sloppiness and inefficiency.
Paschar was quite content, he agreed that this would not be allowed but then he pointed out that only those loyal to Leliel would put in the extra effort. Faced with this reasoning, Leviticus yielded and indulged slightly. He then made a point to spend the evening in prayer.
+ + +
Back aboard the ship, the marines gathered to discuss the events of the day. Uwala was there as well but appeared not to be in the best of health. Paschar had arrived ahead of Leviticus and was detailing their encounter with the Fallen Angel Grendelwulf. Leviticus quietly bade the Angel honor and victory in his quest. Leliel will want to hear more about this encounter now that the information that another Fallen was found is out.
Leliel strode into the chamber and bade for silence. â€˜Tomorrow, I will meet with a man that has a mission for us. All marines will reprise their duties tomorrow. Sergeant Leviticus, we need you to detail four marines to assist Techmarine Xaphan in loading provisions and send another marine to Assiel to make sure the Apothecarium is well provisioned.â€™
Leviticus replied, â€˜Yes, Lord Leliel.â€™
â€˜Dismissed,â€™ Lord Leliel turned and left the common area. Leviticus asked for volunteers for the duties. Vehuiah took his combat team to perform both tasks. With only five men to patrol the station, Leviticus was stretching his resources thin. He stood silently contemplating what his plans for his combat team when he finally noticed that Uwala did not leave with Leliel.
â€˜You do not look well, Brother Librarian.â€™
â€˜No, I would not believe that I am. There is a veiled presence in the Warp. I have tried to pierce the veil multiple times but it is actively resisting. I believe that the Dark Angels are approaching this station. Make sure your entire squad is ready for them. I am taking precautions and have established a psychic veil over us but it will not hold against the powers that established the other veil. Heed this warning. If it is the Dark Angels, then we will not escape in time before they arrive. There will be bloodshed. Prepare your squad to be ready to face our bothers.â€™
Stunned at the news, Leviticus marched back to inform his squad to don their armor and prepare for any attacks. Leviticus went back to his own quarters and began the Rites of Adornment. Finally donning his own helmet, he sat in meditation. Again, he may have to kill marines loyal to the Imperium. The sword of Omael rested before him, how could he use a blade used to expand the hopes, dreams, and glories of Man? Then use that same blade for the defense of one man against his brothers that still follow the path he was forced to leave? The blade should be used to further the wills of the Emperor when he walked among the Legion, not for the pettiness of one marineâ€™s desire to remain alive. â€˜A marine shall know no fear.â€™
He left his quarters and made his way to the Armory.
+ + +
Xaphan was hunched over a bolter reciting little prayers to the war-spirit of the bolter as he dismantled the weapon to make repairs when Leviticus walked into the Armory. The Techmarine sensed Leviticusâ€™s presence but made no move to address the newcomer. He quietly continued his work until he found the reason for the bolterâ€™s unbalanced spirit. Removing the broken parts and anointing new ones, Xaphan silently reassembled the bolter and blessed it before turning to face Leviticus. â€˜What brings you to my armory at this hour, Sergeant.â€™
â€˜There are portents that tomorrow may be a dark day for us and I am here to request that a chainsword be issued.â€™
â€˜A chainsword? To whom will this token be blessed?â€™
â€˜Itâ€™ll be issued to me.â€™
â€˜I see, but donâ€™t you already have a power sword that you brought with you. One with a history Iâ€™ve noticed.â€™
â€˜It does and because of that history I feel it would disgrace the war-spirit of the blade to carry tomorrow.â€™
â€˜Blades are meant to cut. It does not care what it cuts as long as it cuts. That is all that is needed to sate the war-lust in any blade. I see no reason to deny your weapon that which it is made to do.â€™
Leviticus felt the awful weight of the Techmarines words settle on his shoulders. The Techmarine was right, but it still distressed him.
Xaphan noticed the weight settle. He knew long ago that men were a different type of Machine, one that was not made by the Machine God, but a machine nonetheless. The machine before him had a deeply troubled spirit. â€˜I am not a Chaplain but I can see you are deeply troubled. I have just finished sanctifying the chainsword of Brother Erosoti. Since he fell to your blade on the Observation Deck, the spirit of his chainsword will accept you as a better warrior and will not fail you.â€™ Xaphan retrieved the ancient weapon and presented it to Leviticus. The blade was heavier than Omaelâ€™s sword and not as well constructed, but it was sturdy and Leviticus knew that it would be there when needed.
Leviticus bowed. â€˜Thank you Brother Xaphan.â€™ Hooking the weapon to his belt, he turned and left the armory. Walking down the corridor, he met Leliel coming the other way. â€˜Leviticus! Why are you armored?â€™
â€˜Brother Librarian Uwala has sensed the presence of the Dark Angels in the system. He advised us to take additional measures. I agree with his assessment.â€™
â€˜But I do NOT Sergeant! You and your squad are NOT to be in armor tomorrow during the meeting. I do not want anyone to know that there is more than one squad of marines on this ship. You are not to appear as if you are part of an organized force. It is critical that we continue to appear like rogue squad of marines. Without that cloak of deception, we will not be able to acquire the resources we need to survive and operate alone. Do you understand?â€™
â€˜Yes, Lord Leliel.â€™
â€˜I donâ€™t think so. Upon the conclusion of my meeting tomorrow, you will be placed on bread and water and will perform penance before we make planet fall.â€™
â€˜Yes, Lord Leliel.â€™
â€˜Now get out of that armor and tell your squad to do the same. I will send Sergeant Jehuel to make sure this order is carried out! Dismissed!â€™ Leliel then turned and plowed his way down the empty corridor in an ill mood.
Leviticus also marched down the corridor with anger surging through his body. It was not until he got back to his quarters that he realized that he had unhooked the chainsword and held it in a very tight underhand grip. Even without engaging the motor, it was still capable of incapacitating the Lord. The call for blood had risen in Leviticus.
I've seen this before. I'm sure of it.
"It fits like clothes made out of wasps!"
â€˜Are we in range?â€™
â€˜Not yet, in two more hours we will be close enough,â€™ replied the Master of the vessel.
â€˜Two long hours, even after eight decades of battles Iâ€™ve fought, I am still not used to the waiting.â€™
â€˜By the Lion, exercise patience Brother Sergeant. Even with the war-spirit of this vessel aroused, we can only go so fast within a planetary system.â€™
Sergeant Haken stood next to the command throne of the Infractus Gladius. His terminator armor whirring lightly as it constantly adjusted itself to the subtle shifts of the Sergeant inside. The Master beside him was clad in the typical dark green power armor but his shoulder pads were both painted to match the bone-colored armor of the Deathwing. His Power Armor was plugged into the command throne to complete the link between the Master and his ship. Similar to the Princeps in the Titan Legions, Master Galmon saw and felt everything that the Death Blade saw and felt.
Sergeant Haken looked at the vid-screen showing the station; soon his squad and Squad Rampel will be launched aboard a pair of boarding torpedoes. Their mission was to capture any renegade marines and bring them in for interrogation. Any one of them could be one of the Fallen or lead them toward one of the two leads they had.
The strike cruiser bearing the Third Company would not be in range for another day. Until that time, the two Terminator squads were the only ones capable of massing any kind of a response. Pushing their engines to their limits, the Hunter class destroyer pushed through the void to close upon the station.
+ + +
Leviticus had boarded the station a little while ago and had his men in place. Vehuiah had the rest of the squadâ€™s armor placed on station that the marines grabbed and donned once they were aboard station. Leaving off their helmets, they did not raise any additional attention on the station. Vehuiah had his men suit up to assist the loading of the stores and they had their weapons nearby. Only Lelielâ€™s small squad was the only other squad armored.
Each marine in Leviticusâ€™s squad was in visual and vox contact. Uwala was also given their vox frequency should his senses detect the attack. However, the mental strain of the approaching Dark Angel Librarians was beginning to overwhelm even his defenses.
Keeping a quiet vigil, the marines mulled around slowly in their areas. Each marine performed little rituals while they waited for battle. Leviticus found his hand wrapped around the hilt of the chainsword several times and had to force his hand free to maintain the appearance that nothing was amiss.
Leliel was in heated talks with his contact; apparently, it was not going at all the way he wanted. Leviticus really did not care. He did not like the idea of fighting for pay. He had done well on the planet he left and it did not interfere with the flow of the Imperium. Now he was here, called by some unknown force, but it has not provided any directions as of late. His meditations had also proved to be fruitless as to why he needed to don his armor and tempt fate. Leviticus pondered it until he got an urgent warning in his earpiece.
â€˜Uwala to Squad Leviticus, Sensor augurs report a fast moving vessel entering weapons range of the station. They bear Dark Angels markings. We are going to have company!â€™
+ + +
â€˜Squads Haken and Rampel are loaded and ready! Waiting for your command Lord!â€™ The crew chief sounded through the internal vox to the Marine stationed at the firing controls. Relaying the information to his superiors, he waited for the command to fire. He had the station targeted and just needed to get word before firing the two boarding torpedoes. The word came a moment later. â€˜Deploy when ready.â€™ Thumbing a rune Deathwing Squad Haken was launched out of the destroyerâ€™s forward torpedo tubes. Adjusting the site to target a different portion of the station, the marine pressed the rune again and Deathwing Squad Rampel was launched into the void.
â€˜May the Lion bring you victory honored warriors,â€™ the marine said to the two little stars burning toward the station. â€˜Chief, Ready a salvo of torpedoes.â€™
+ + +
Klaxons sounded immediately throughout the station, the level of panic rising like a firestorm. The corridor erupted into a fury of activity as everyone raced to ships or defensive positions. Leviticus and his squad remained calm and at their posts. Epistolary Uwala relayed the information that two torpedoes were inbound toward the station.
Leliel was in shocked amazement. How can this be happening? Likewise, his contact was also frozen in horror. Leliel regained his wits, hauled the man by his shoulder, and forced him out into the corridor. A quick glance around saw the place in pandemonium, pushing through the mob was difficult but his armor allowed him to make a path. All the injuries he caused were instantly forgotten as people pushed each other to get clear. The short contact hung on Lelielâ€™s cloak so closely that they could almost be one. Lelielâ€™s face contorted in disgust at the little creature.
His squad reacted with a look and the little man was ripped from his hiding spot.
â€˜Please help me! Donâ€™t leave me here!â€™
â€˜It will cost you double the contract fee.â€™
â€˜Anything, just get me out of here!â€™
â€˜Iâ€™ll hold you to your word. Alright, take him with us.â€™
â€˜Yes, Lord Lelielâ€™ came four replies.
A tremor moved through the station as one of the torpedoes struck. A quick moment of relief went out through the station as a second tremor was felt. Two strikes with no explosions.
Leviticus whipped up his weapons, â€˜Boarding Torpedoes! Get ready! Epistolary, weâ€™re going to need your talents very soon!â€™
+ + +
Scarall was nothing but a minor thief. He only stole what he could carry. He would steal important documents or some noblewomanâ€™s jewelry. He never hurt anybody and did not think he would ever be punished for his crimes for there was always a worse criminal to go after. Never in his wildest dreams did he ever think of being in trouble. However, when the klaxons sounded the impending attack, he panicked and broke into someoneâ€™s quarters to hide.
With a million thoughts whizzing through his head, he was taken completely by surprise when the quarters erupted all around him. After the room settled down once again and Scarallâ€™s bladder emptied, he rose from his hiding place. The tip of a torpedo started back at him. A dud, I have always been lucky. He thought.
When the end of the torpedo exploded outward and five white forms stepped out, Scarall barely got a look at the mammoth forms before his body was shredded by the rounds of an Assault Cannon.
+ + +
Aboard the Ira Leoninus, the eyes of several Librarians snapped open simultaneously. Epistolary Euchey sitting at the head of the group nodded to the other Librarians and left the sanctum.
Grand Master Camael was one the bridge and watching the battle beginning to unfold on the situation. The Grand Master noticed the Epistolaryâ€™s presence and pardoned himself from the situation table. â€˜What is it Epistolary?â€™
â€˜The veil that has been blocking us has dropped. There is not a couple of Fallen on that station, there is a small group of Fallen banded together. The Librarian with them is very powerful, probably an Epistolary of old. He could rival Ezekiel in psychic contact.â€™
â€˜Master Techmarine, I need all power to the engines! Give me everything you have: weapons, life support, anything! The Brothers of the First Company need us, NOW!â€™
â€˜For the Lion, it will be done Grand Master.â€™
â€˜When will we be in range to assist?â€™
â€˜Initial estimates indicate three more hours.â€™
â€˜Not good enough! Get us there now!â€™
+ + +
Sergeant Rampel marched slowly through the corridors of the station. His squad of Terminators was mercilessly killing anything within the range. Every round from his storm bolter exploded several criminals at once. The floor was already covered with the shredded bodies of hundreds of criminals. Even through the thick armor, Rampel could feel bones crushing under his boot.
So far, they had not encountered anything closely resembling a renegade marine. Typical cowards! Thought Rampel as he scouted the carnage they were unleashing for signs of their quarry. Everything else was pacification.
+ + +
Leviticus and his squad of five marines held a line on the wide concourse. Scared people ran a wide ring around each marine in search for a solid shelter or an escape route. Pascharâ€™s helmet took on the sickly green glow emanating from the coils of his plasma gun. The squad stood still as stone watching the bend in the concourse for the first sign of the Deathwing. The Terminators were approaching at a moderate pace by the cacophony of sounds growing louder in the concourse. Where the second squad was, they did not know.
+ + +
Vehuiah and Assiel were finishing loading the supplies when the attack happened. Before Assiel had a chance to turn around, he was already out of the Apothecarium. When Vehuiah donned his armor, Assiel did not know. The Apothecary wished the marine luck and then began to prepare himself for the inevitable casualties.
+ + +
Squad Rampel marched in-line down the concourse. The Assault cannons on each side of the Sergeant unleashed controlled bursts of hot death upon the masses of criminals in front of them as those Terminators with Storm Bolters picked the targets posing a threat to the squad. Continuing their inexorable march, they left nothing behind but destruction and carnage.
â€˜Remember there is a Fallen Librarian somewhere. He must be subdued immediately!â€™
â€˜Acknowledgedâ€™ replied the squad.
+ + +
Brother Gurid caught the quick flash of a bolt ricochet before hunkering low in the shadows. Being on the far edge of the line, he would be the first to encounter the Deathwing. Shortly thereafter, the hulking form of a terminator walked around the curve of the concourse. Still Gurid held his fire. Sergeant Leviticus gave the first shot to Brother Paschar and his plasma gun. The terminators continued to slaughter the humans fleeing before them. Paschar finally had his shot and a ball of incandescent energy flew into the helmet of the first terminator. Gurid and the rest of the squad fired with their weapons at the first Terminator in the attempt to knock it down before the rest came around the corner.
Gurid saw the Assault cannon come around the corner and quickly adjusted his fire. Aiming low and left, he pattered a few shots off the thick armor of the terminator but with little effect before the assault cannon replied. Rounds crashed into his position as well as his own armor. Paschar fired at the terminator armed with the assault cannon. The squad rejoiced at the rare sight of seeing a terminator die. One down four to go.
The terminator that took the first fusillade of rounds had recovered from the numerous hits and attempted to rejoin the fight. He raised his storm bolter only to find his hand a ruined mess. Reporting his condition, he filed in behind his brethren. While unable to shoot, he can still fight hand-to-hand.
Leviticus sorely regretted his decision to leave his power sword behind. Even after millennia, he was still intimidated by those suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armor. With nothing but a chainsword, he really had no chance in combat with any member of the Deathwing. Looking over at Gurid, his right shoulder pad was pockmarked with the multiple hits from the Assault cannon. It was good that the whole squad had found solid cover, but without help, they would all die soon.
+ + +
Leliel forced his contact on board the ship and made their way to the command center. It was a bustle of activity as Xaphan was already deep in the invocation for departure. Leliel stood behind the command throne and watched all the displays around him. The Destroyer was nearby but pointed in the opposite direction. The Strike Cruiser was still barreling in but it was not yet in range. He had a slim chance to escape, but they needed to leave now.
â€˜Sir! We are still moored to the station! We can not break free!â€™
â€˜Leliel to Leviticus, clear the moorings so we can get out of here!â€™
â€˜His squad is not on board.â€™
â€˜Frag their insolence! Jehuel get your men to the docking ports and clear the moorings!â€™
â€˜Understood my Lordâ€™
â€˜Who else is not aboard?â€™
+ + +
Uwala felt the cloud of hatred and moved swiftly toward it. Leviticus was holding the first terminator squad, but the unchecked second squad would overrun Leviticusâ€™s position unless something was done.
He was that something.
The five terminators were force-marching to link up with their brethren. Uwala projected a field that hid him from the eyes of the fast approaching terminators and everyone else the looked at him. The squad marched in front of his position before it slowed to a stop. The terminators felt something was amiss but could not determine the source. The sergeant told them to move on but under guard. The Terminators moved slowly and with weapons facing in all directions. The moved cautiously before the sergeant ordered the squad to pick up the pace again.
Redirecting the power of the warp, purple lightning began to arc around him as he stormed out of his hidden location and approached the squad of Deathwing Terminators. One of the Terminators sensed his presence and turned around. Uwala did not wait for the terminator to bring his weapon to bear. Unleashing a torrent of lightning at the Terminator squad, the two rear terminators fell instantly under the onslaught. The others weathered the storm and faced the new threat.
â€˜For the Emperor!â€™ shouted both Uwala and the Deathwing Terminators. Uwala closed the distance with another terminator armed with an assault cannon and kicked the cannon away before turning lashing out with his force staff. The blast of energy dropped the terminator but Uwala saw that the armor had saved the occupant. Keeping the Sergeant between him and the other Terminator with the assault cannon, Uwala charged his staff again with the energies of the Immaterium.
+ + +
Leviticus was in dire trouble and he knew it. Gurid had finally succumbed to the awesome firepower of the Deathwingâ€™s assault cannon. Another marine, Nakriel, had lost his leg but was still firing his bolter. Leviticusâ€™s armor was penetrated in a couple of places but he was seeing through the pain. Aiming his pistol at the second Assault Cannon, he shot at the control linkage that jammed the cannon. The other assault cannon let loose a hail of bolts across the line, dropping Paschar, who no longer had a weapon, and taking another chunk of armor off Leviticus. By now, Leliel should have departed the station.
Preparing to meet the Deathwing terminators in hand-to-hand combat, Leviticus saluted with the chainsword and then broke from his cover. He got a couple of paces before the deck heaved under a series of explosions throwing back Leviticus.
+ + +
Uwala was battered and bleeding from several gaping wounds in his armor. Though his Larramanâ€™s cells were staunching the flow of blood quickly. The terminators were adding new wounds as quickly as another was healed. The sergeant had fallen when Uwalaâ€™s staff touched the exposed head and blew the soul into oblivion. The two remaining terminators fell on Uwala with renewed vigor. Breaking Uwalaâ€™s staff with a strong blow from a Power Fist. The second terminatorâ€™s chainfist continually damaged sections of Uwalaâ€™s Armor.
Uwala felt himself succumbing under the terminatorâ€™s blows, but he was still dangerous. Using his remaining mental strength, he called upon the Warp again. Focusing the power within himself, he continually pulled more and more energy to himself. Eyes aglow, the terminators hesitated in their attack on the Librarian. The air around the Epistolary writhed as if in agony until a vortex erupted where the Librarian had once been. The vortex radiated out so fast that the terminators did not get the chance to run as they were pulled into the warp along with everything else within the event horizon of the vortex.
+ + +
Chaos erupted on the Ira Leoninus. As Uwala created the vortex, the Dark Angel Librarians had projected their own psychic energy to repress the rogue Epistolary. Three Lexicanium failed to withdraw before their souls were drawn into the warp. However, one denizen of the warp followed the link out and took possession of the vacated body. Quickly turning on those closest to him, the freshly unleashed bloodletter tore into the assembled Librarians.
Within moments, the alarm was raised throughout the ship and every marine in range collapsed on the sanctum. The bloodletter punched its way out into the corridor slaughtering anything within range of its blade. A squad of Devastators moved to block the demon spawnâ€™s path. Two marines knelt with their heavy bolters while two more stood with missile launchers on their shoulders. As one, they unleashed a fury of projectiles that punched through the blue armor and through the flesh of the bloodletter. Howling in fury for not being able to attack the Devastators, the demon started to close the gap before succumbing to the firepower unleashed by the Devastators.
Only three Librarians survived the initial onslaught unleashed by the demon. Each bearing horrific wounds was immediately taken to the Apothecarium. One Librarian spoke a brief message to a marine bearing him before falling unconscious. After delivering his charge to the Apothecarium, the marine wrote the message from the Librarian and had it delivered to the bridge.
Up on the command deck, Grand Master Camael looked over the damage and casualty reports coming from the station. Camael looked at the scrap of parchment containing the message before crumpling it with his gauntlet.
â€˜Destroy the station and any vessel attempting to leave.â€™