Kardion – First Captain and commander of the Flesh Eaters strike force
Borden – Captain, 2nd Company
Crovax – Captain, 4th Company
Lokai – Reclusiarch
Tyriel – Chaplain
Acheron – Chief Librarian
Ertai – Epistolary Librarian
Morollan – Codicier Librarian – Shield of Sanguinius & Unleash Rage
Marduk – Sergeant, assault squad, 2nd company
– Arrival –
Captain Kardion walked in relatively quick but deliberate steps through the corridors. He wanted to get the formalities over with as fast as possible, but had enough sense and experience to know he was supposed to keep a certain demeanour if formalities were to go smoothly. How others perceived those such as him was the bedrock of the chapter’s reputation, and considering the chapter’s more… ‘eccentric’ way of dealing with enemies, it was crucial that his part was done as flawlessly as possible. Otherwise they’d end up like the Flesh Tearers, or even worse. For all their faults, they were still a loyal, Emperor serving chapter. It seemed that tragedy lurked behind every corner in the Imperium, even for the legendary super-human soldiers created to protect it. They may be bigger and mightier than common men, but that simply meant they got bigger tragedies to play in. And a new one was just about to begin unfolding.
Thus preoccupied, the Flesh Eaters captain reached the Warmaster’s chambers. Fully armed and armoured storm troopers guarded the approaching hallway, 20 on each side, with banner from the most distinguished regiments decorating the walls in between the gilded columns that framed each storm trooper.
Kardion halted for a brief moment, hearing his honour guard wait behind him. They took in each banner, with their service histories, battle honours and symbols of faith wrought in gold or silver threads. Some hailed from worlds famous across the Imperium – Cadia, Mordia, Harakon, Gathalamor, even a couple of banners from the Terrax Guard. Others were unknown but not lax in honours and the battles listed upon them threatened to cover the regimental symbols. What seemed as a two seconds long pause to the storm troopers was enough for the marines keen visual sense to take in all the details and thus pay tribute in their own way to the mortal heroes whose sacrifice had allowed Humanity to endure.
With an inaudible sigh at the unnecessary ceremony and bureaucracy that was to follow, First Captain Kardion of the Flesh Eaters went ahead to pay his respects and offer his warriors for the ongoing crusade. He would go in and bow to a man named Tetrarchus, giving him command, if in name only, over his force of roughly three hundred space marines along with their support units. Once it would all be done, he would go back to his strike cruiser and head straight for the heart of enemy territory, where he and his marines would do what they do best – kill.
– The Dream –
Tyriel awoke abruptly from his meditation. He had no idea when sleep took him. It was even more peculiar since he had not meant to go to sleep, simply to meditate like he always did, upon his duty to the Emperor and the way he could help his chapter better do theirs. The work of a chaplain demanded constant devotion. But now the dreams had returned, and such an uncontrolled lapse into sleep would have to be investigated. Tyriel got up and started heading for the Apothecarion, but after a few steps decided to change his course and headed for the Librarium. Acheron was aboard the ship and, together with the other librarians, will probably know better what to make of his strange dreams.
He sat crouched in the middle of the meditation chamber, in a circle of lit candles that gave out a sweet but pleasant scent. The walls were inscribed with prayers and warding litanies in High Gothic, bereft of any other decorations except the chapter symbol combined with that of the Librarium. Acheron was facing him, while the other two senior librarians – Epistolary Ertai and Codicier Morollan were on his right and left. All of them were wearing simple robes to cover their bodies. The chaplain even had his hood back. These were not men he needed to hide his face from, like most of the chapter. They would guide him into a trance that would allow him to relive his dream, and help explain what it was he saw. It was crucial to determine if this was a vision from the Emperor or from their blessed primarch, Sanguinius, or if it was simply a warning sign that the Black Rage was coming close to taking his mind.
Total darkness. The absence of light is accentuated by screams of pain, curses in unknown tongues and prayers snuffed out by howls of anger. Beams of light slowly penetrate the gloom, and the environment is revealed to be a cathedral. A cathedral drowned in blood by martyrs and heretics locked in bitter struggle. None would live. None are supposed to. Statues of saints are toppled down and broken alongside the mutilated corpses of pious men and women.
Deranged cultists defile every prayer chiseled on the cathedral walls with twisted, jagged symbols that seem to have a life of their own. At the back of the cathedral, the enormous statue of the Emperor watches on as the last men of faith on this world are butchered for their belief. Almost invisibly in the developing carnage, a minute vermilion tear springs in the corner of one eye. It swells slowly until its mass is pulled down by gravity, leaving a dark red trail across the sculpted features of the face so many looked to in their time of need. Tyriel woke up again from his trance, to find the librarians around him glistening with sweat in their concentration. The room felt strangely cold, and he could swear he saw mildew on the walls. Acheron was already up, studying a heavy tome in the corner of the room. The chaplain stepped gingerly over the candles, even though most were already snuffed out, and headed for the chief librarian.
‘Can you explain what I saw, Librarian?’
‘I am not sure. While the visions most of our brothers experience before the onset of the black rage can sometimes vary quite wildly from he usual last moment of our blessed primarch, this one felt too real, to precise. I noticed a phrase written in tall, golden script above the nave of the altar. It said ‘Liberate tutemae ex inferis’. It’s not part of the usual sermons the Ecclesiarchy like to preach, so I want to see if there’s anything we can find out about it. It will take time though. Once Ertai and Morollan awaken from their trances I will have them help the search. In the meantime, Chaplain, I suggest a visit to the Apothecarion and plenty of rest. We do not yet know if this is a true vision or if it simply your imagination being poetical.’
‘I shall do as you say then. May the Emperor grant you swift answers, Librarian.’
Without any need to add anything else, Acheron simply nodded as he kept turning pages while the chaplain left. This would be a long search.
– The War Room –
Tyriel was last to arrived in the war room. All the senior commanders present on the strike force were gathered to make the plans for the coming conflict.
First Captain Kardion sat on his command throne, looking intently at the holo-projection in front of him. It was an ugly planet – a brown sphere streaked with ash and dotted with what appeared to be strange, purplish weather patterns. To his right, Reclusiarch Lokai was still as a statue. Further to the side were the two other captains, Borden, commander of the 2nd and Crovax of the 4th, along with their senior sergeants. To the left were the Librarians – Chief Librarian Acheron, Epistolary Ertai, Codicier Morollan and their attendants. Hearing Tyriel’s armoured foot steps upon the grating, Kardion raised his head.
‘Chaplain Tyriel, welcome. Take your place and we can begin making our plans.’ Tyriel stepped hurriedly to Lokai’s side. The chaplain had hardly taken his position when the First Captain turned to Acheron. ‘Chief Librarian, please tell us all of your findings and this accursed planet we find ourselves above.’
‘Yes, milord. The planet is named Varrus. It is the ancient capitol of the old Jericho Sector, and it was once a hive world like any other. Billions had toiled for the furtherment of the Imperium, while the governer oversaw the economical activity of the sector and the High Ecclesiarch based upon the world nurtured the Faith of the people. Unfortunately, somehow they failed, for such is the nature of man. We believe a chaos cult took root upon the world and rebelled once it had gathered enough manpower and resources, drowning the world in blood. We also think that they then performed some ritual that resulted in the creation of what is now known as the Hadex Anomaly – this relatively small but extremely unpredictable warp storm.’
‘So it is a world lost to the enemy, but why is it more important than any of the other worlds in the Cellebos Warzone? We should be aiding the Imperial Guard in reclaiming those worlds instead of diving into a world we cannot hold without support.’ spoke Captain Borden.
‘Because it is the nest of the enemy. A blow here will hurt them more than losing a dozen other worlds across the Acheros Sallient. And because it is a world where Sanguinius has once tread, during the Great Crusade, before accursed Horus rebelled agaisnt our Emperor. We know that because we have seen his legacy in brother Tyriel’s vision. This world was once conquered by the Blood Angels, led by our blessed primarch… and we think an artefact of his time may have been kept in the grand cathedral.’
Acheron’s last words stunned the assembled commanders. Any relic from the time of their beloved primarch was priceless. The glory they would win if they recovered it would ensure their names remembered for eternity in their chapter’s legends.
‘Not only that, brother Borden, but you should also remember the curse we suffer from. You are young, among us, but you should know by now that every time we take to battle along other imperial forces we risk alienating ourselves and our chapter from the Imperium. They do not understand our affliction, and they would rightfully name us savages or even worse, mutants. Every time we have a chance to fight the Imperium’s battles without the Imperium’s presence is an opportunity to be cherished, for we can bring our unbound wrath upon the foes. Now, what is the tactical data we have on this planet?’
This time it was Captain Korvax who spoke: ‘On first scan it looks like any other ruined hive world. The only thing that stands out is the weather. The colour is unnatural, and our brothers from the Librarium have already warned us about the high level of warp activity surrounding it. I believe it is safe to assume we will face heavy resistance from the forces of the warp, including maleficarum.’
At this, Reclusiarch Lokai, who had become almost invisible in his stillness, spoke: ‘I welcome the opportunity to face the traitor legions and their masters’ creatures in open battle. We shall show them the wrath of the Emperor’s Angels and drown them in their own blood.’
Captain Korvax, unphased, continued: “We all do, Reclusiarch, but preparations and caution will be necessary. Simply throwing ourselves at the forces of chaos may be valiant and the stuff of legends, but it is also what gets our marines killed. We may win, but the cost will be high. We have identified the main hive on the surface. I would be wary of trying a drop pod assault, however. I do not trust the strange weather. I recommend we try landing our armoured forces around the hive here, on this plateau, and here and here, on the south-western plains. We can then approach the hive from three directions. Once the first of the forces reaches the hive they can establish an outpost from where we can sweep the city and find our prize.’
‘That is a sound plan, Captain Korvax. We can always count on your experience to guide our forces. I would however wish to have a reserve of stormravens and thunderhawks circle the hive. The enemy is treacherous and I would wager they will try to ambush our armoured columns if they get the opportunity. I shall also prepare my brothers in the first company for teleportation. We will be on standby to assist if any of the forces become bogged down in heavy fighting. None shall stay our wrath.’ said the first captain as he got up from his command throne.
‘None shall stay our wrath!’ echoed the assembled marines.