NATION

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Again The Lion's Roar Shall Ring [FT - Closed]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Khandosia
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Again The Lion's Roar Shall Ring [FT - Closed]

Postby Khandosia » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:55 pm

Sanguinary, Shrineworld & Fortress Monastery of the Knights of Sanguinus

Demarcus came out of his sleep with a jolt.

Sleep was not a true requirement for the genetically enhanced Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes, the Catalepsean Node which is implanted within them allows them to remain awake and asleep simultaneously. Old Terran doctors would have compared it to a state of acute meditation.

Demarcus however was not your normal Astartes, he was also a Chief Librarian of the Knights of Sanguinius Librarium; one of four vaunted positions at the head of the Librarium within the ranks of the chapter. When he allowed his mind to be lured into the state of nothingness, what he liked to call “the Void,” his latent psykic powers would come to the fore.

The dreams were plaguing him again. Like malevolent phantasms that chased him each time he entered the psykic dream state that gave him visions of the future. Demarcus was unique in that fashion. He was the first Seer that the Librarium had had in over two thousand years. When Chief Librarian and Lord of the Blood Secrets, Tacitus Faunus, discovered his potential for the powers of a Seer when Demarcus had been requesting entrance into the Librarium he had immediately taken him under his wing. In the two hundred years since Demarcus had first been inducted and made into a Space Marine, his psykic powers had grown within him to staggering proportions.

As much as his chapter brothers cheered him and respected his abilities as a Seer, he did not treasure them as much as they. It was painful, to watch as your battle-brothers die within your dreams and know that you cannot fully change their Fate. Being a Seer did not mean that he could automatically know the time and place of a persons death or any specific event. His mind was an instrument upon which the music of the Emperor's power played. Even the Emperor's Tarot, the all-knowing cards, could help him in deciphering certain dreams.

Demarcus sighed and looked around at his surroundings, his eyes shifting through the shadows around him so that to him everything was in stark relief. A normal human would have been unable to see anything but the near pitch black of the room.

He sat within his private sanctum, a small room by standards of a Space Marine, upon the meditation throne at the far end of the rectangular room. Either side of the walls were covered in shelves piled high with heavy tomes and ancient books, histories and treatises of the Chapter. Two small alcoves sat upon either side of the thick, wooden entrance to his room. On the left was his power armor resting on its stand, resplendent in its artistic glory and majesty, High Gothic script flowing across his red-gold pauldrons and vembraces. Newly attached purity seals fluttered silently from the circulation of air pumping from a nearby vent.

Within the right alcove was a stasis field which held two of Demarcus' most important belongings: the psykic hood which helped to augment and steady his tremendous psykic powers and a steel staff of silver that bore the image of the Emperor Ascendant at its peak, glowing sapphires set within the figures head that showed the power within the staff. It was a treasure of the Chapter's Librarium, the Stave of Almander, once owned and used by the first Chief Librarian of the Knights of Sanguinius. Tacitus had entrusted the Stave to him when Demarcus had been lifted to the rank of Chief Librarian, of which there were only five within the Chapter at any one time.

The familiar surroundings and smells of his room did not comfort Demarcus as he studied them. He stood from his meditation throne, pulled on his red librarium robes, and still barefoot walked out of his sanctum chamber.

He stepped into the Librarius Dormitory, the section of the Fortress Monastery that the members of the Librarium were sequestered from the other, blunt members of the Chapter. The hall was vaulted and made from the white marble rock that the entire monastery was made from. The walls were lined with gold filigree and red paintwork, images of avenging angels and drops of blood being the main motif to cover the walls.

Walking past the banners and murals that depicted the members of the Librarium of the chapter victorious in battle and displaying different psykic powers, Demarcus came before the door to the Librarius Santificus, the innermost vault of the Librarium. Only the five Chief Librarians were allowed entrance to the Librarius Santificus, for within were stored the chapter's most precious relics and deepest secrets.

A servo-skull was imbedded into the iron door. It's glowing red eyes detected the presence of Demarcus and a beam of light shot out from its eyes and scanned him from head to foot. Satisfied that he fit the scan, a small panel fell forwards. Within the recess was the shape of a palm-print and five small needles. Demarcus put his hand into the print and the needles shot into the tips of his fingers and thumb, drawing a sample of blood. The cogitators chimed softly, his blood sample verified.

The next step to opening the doors required finesse. Demarcus pulled upon a small portion of his psykic powers and touched the small winged skull that was carved at the center of the door. The psykic power pumped slowly into the winged skull for five seconds, after which Demarcus cut off the flow of warp power. The eyes of the winged skull glowed sapphire-white. A third chime sounded, and the doors cracked open.

He quickly stepped inside and felt the air flow cut off as the doors closed behind him. There was a clicking sound, as the hundreds of bolts and locking mechanisms returned to their set placement.

Within the Librarius Santificus were rows of book shelves filled with ancient books, stasis field columns that held ancient power armor or other relics of the chapter, and tables at which the various Chief Librarians could sit comfortably while researching or meditating within the chamber.

Demarcus was unsurprised to find one of the tables occupied.

He walked forward and put his fist up to his heart in salute and bowed humbly before the seated man. “I thought I would find you here, at this hour, my Lord.”

Chief Librarian Tacitus Faunus smiled up from his seat at Demarcus.

“I wonder if that is simply because you know my habits too well, old friend, or you've been using your Seer powers again in superfluous ways,” replied Tacitus.

“Old habits, my Lord,” Demarcus smiled back.

Tacitus frowned and motioned for Demarcus to sit. “Please, make yourself comfortable my son. Tell me what it is that is troubling you.”

“Am I that transparent?” Demarcus laughed mockingly at himself and took the proffered chair.

“It does not take much to recognize when heavy thoughts weigh upon the mind of a friend, Brother Demarcus,” said Tacitus sagely.

“I would think that a Librarian of my power and ability would be able to better hide my emotions.”

“You will in time, I am sure, after more practice,” Tacitus grinned slightly. Few were either as ancient or powerful as Tacitus. Except for the Chapter Master, he was the second oldest living Astartes within the Chapter, well over seven-hundred years of age.

“It is your dreams again, isn't it?” asked Tacitus, insightful in his probing as usual.

“They are coming faster and more often now,” sighed Demarcus, not trying to hide anything from his mentor.

“Have you learned anything more to their meaning since the last time they came to you?”

“No, sadly,” replied Demarcus. “Just the same symbols and signs as before...except for a new addition that came tonight.”

“Tell me again, in detail, all that you are seeing,” ordered Tacitus, concentrating hard.

Demarcus nodded and began relating what he would see within his Seer dreams.

“I stand with a group of my battle-brothers upon a planet that I have never before seen. It is covered in billowing clouds of dust and sand. I feel fatigue and anger well up within me. We are challenged and fighting hard.

“An ancient numeral appears before me. The script is ancient High Gothic in nature, I remember it well, in the shape of the romanus numeral One.

“What became different about tonight was, instead of focusing once more upon the numeral one, like my vision usually does, a third image appeared.”

“What was that image?” Tacitus quietly asked.

“An image of a giant lion with gargantuan saber-tooth fangs and a noble bearing. But it was alone, running through darkness. So very, very alone.”

Part of his abilities as a Seer meant that coupled with the images that Demarcus saw, were emotions that paralleled with what he was seeing. Demarcus finished speaking and looked up at his mentor and master. Tacitus was resting his chin thoughtfully upon his giant right fist, the sheer image of a mountain contemplating the small stone at the base of its cliffs. After considering Demarcus' words, Tacitus looked up at him and nodded.

“We must search for this mysterious planet of yours, Demarcus. It is the key to discovering the meaning to your visions,” said Tacitus.

“Where could we possibly begin to search for a planet out of the untold billions that exist?” asked Demarcus, momentarily stunned by so monumental a task.

“Where else does one seek such things?” grinned Tacitus. “We pay a visit to Nahiliast Prime and the Arch-Magos Logastus. The Mechanicus never deletes any information. There, within their cogitators, may be the location of your planet.”
Last edited by Khandosia on Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:22 pm

Chief Librarian Demarcus and Master Librarian Tacitus walked out of the hallowed halls of the Librarium later the next day, once more clad in their respective power armor. Tacitus' armor was more ornate and ancient than Demarcus' which was only fitting. However, both sets of power armor displayed the gold and blood-red right pauldron of the Knights of Sanguinius. A blood tear inlaid against a background of angel wings, and three golden chalices beneath it. An ancient symbol of the Chapter that few of the newest models of power armor displayed amongst the rank and file Astartes.

They walked atop the second wall of the fortress and looked out at the monastery in its entirety.

The fortress monastery was monolithic in size. It had taken a hundred years to fully construct. Carved out of the bare rock of the mountain peaks, the monastery was nestled within a gorge. To mountain arms with clear, sheer drops guarded the flanks and rear of the monastery, allowing for any would-be attacker to only approach from the front, a challenge that would have given even a Space Marine pause.

The fortress curtain wall was over three miles long, called “The Angel's Shield” by members of the Chapter, and stood more than seventy feet in height and thirty feet in thickness; carved from giant slabs of hardened Sanguinary white marble. Along its length were six bastions where giant defensive guns rest within hidden firing cages. Shuttered firing doors along the length of the wall spoke of the hidden dangers that lay in wait for any enemy. Within the wall itself were ready chambers, ammunition depots, food storage cells, dormitories, and a track line with a locomotive engine that allowed defenders to speedily travel along its length without exposing themselves to enemy fire.

Ten thousand members of the Sanguinary PDF manned the curtain wall at all times. Companies of soldiers marched in formation along its length, oiled and managed the upkeep of the weapon emplacements, and drilled in the killing ground between the curtain wall and the inner wall. Brilliant red pennants and flags bearing the name and symbols of the chapter flew from every tower top, especially over the mighty gates of the fortress on the far side of the wall. If he squinted, Demarcus could glimpse the gargantuan steel doors that were large enough to allow a Mechanicus Titan engine to walk through its portals.

The Librarium was located deep within the mountain, carved passageways leading to it, and the entrance that the two Chief Librarians had chosen to take led them to the Bastion of Angels, the massive and main defensive structure that anchored the entire curtain wall. From its parapet Demarcus could gaze down out of the gorge and into the Valley of Baal, the rolling plains of fresh green grass extending on and on. It was a pleasing and calming sight.

“Where will we find Forgemaster Lycurgus?” Demarcus asked aloud, turning to Tacitus. “I thought that he had left on urgent business a week ago.”

“He returned not but ten hours ago, during the night,” replied Tacitus. “He had to bring news to the Chapter Master regarding a new piece of technology that the Mechanicus had developed along with the help of our techmarines. But to answer your question, he will undoubtedly be in the Armor Decks.”

“Why the Armor Decks?”

“He is a techmarine. Where else can a techmarine be in his element, other than surrounded by hundreds of machines and their purring machine-spirits?” laughed Tacitus.

The Armor Decks were located at the center of the monastery, at the Citadel of Azkellion, named after the great hero and First Chapter Master of the Knights of Sanguinius. Every armored vehicle and fighting tank of the Chapter was located there, alongside the dwelling tanks in which the ancient Dreadnoughts slept, chapter veterans and heroes that awaited to be awoken for the next great campaign of violence and bloodshed.

The pair of Librarians found Forgemaster Lycurgus underneath the belly of a Predator tank, the front armor piece lying on the ground separate from the tank. Lycurgus was inside the work pit, two column jacks powered by super-heavy pistons keeping the tank suspended in the air above his head. Three of the techmarine's servo-arms were moving in concert to unhook a coolant line. Whilst the servo-arms worked on that, Lycurgus was using his flesh-born hands to manipulate a soldering gun against the surface of a sophisticated targetting cogitator.

“Deus Mechanicum, guide thy servant's actuators in thy service,” chanted Lycurgus aloud. “This machine is discharged into your care. Fight with this machine, and guard it from the shame of defeat. Serve this machine, as you would have it fight for you.”

Finished with his work, Lycurgus lowered the soldering gun to the side and replaced the small rectangle data slate back into the cogitator prism. There was a clicking sound as it slid into place and the cogitator chimed in recognition and acceptance of the data slate. Satisfied with his work, Lyrcurgus got back out of the pit and replaced the armor plate section to the chassis of the tank. He turned around and bowed to the two newcomers.

“Greetings brothers,” said Lycurgus. His head was hidden by his helmet which was apparently clasped to his armor by several clamps and cables connecting his spine and cerebral cortex directly to the servo-arms and augmetics that were attached to his armor. Techmarines were an odd sort, not as heavily augmented as the members of the Adpetus Mechanicus, but just as obsessed with the idea of the Machine.

“Forgemaster,” bowed Tacitus. “We were hoping to catch you without any maintenance issues being in your work load.”

“None at present, Tacitus,” replied Lycurgus. “I was doing this bit of repair to the Ajax's targetting cogitator because I felt like it. Even if I am the head of the chapter's techmarines, it ill suits me to not dirty my hands on occasion.”

“Indeed, brother,” agreed Tacitus.

“What was it you needed me for?” queried Lycurgus, his red ocular implant whirled audibly as it took in both Demarcus and Tacitus, turning from one to the other. Tacitus turned to Demarcus, who nodded and cleared his throat.

“We are in need of gaining the help of the Mechanicus to find a planet for us that may exist somewhere within their records,” explained Demarcus. “We hoped that, with your help, they could be persuaded to allow us entrance into their archives.”

Lyrcugus considered this request for a moment. “That is not a trifling request, and it is right that you sought me out. Is this planet somehow important?”

“It may involve the very future of the chapter,” replied Tacitus before Demarcus could speak. His voice had an ominous tone.

“Very well then, let us not terry here any more then,” nodded Lycurgus. “If it involves he Chapter's future then I will spare no effort to gain us access to the Mechanicus data archives. If you'll go to the launch deck, pad three, I will meet you there. A Thunderhawk will be prepped to take us into orbit.”

“Thank you,” said Demarcus, sighing with relief. He didn't know what he would have done if Lycurgus would not have agreed to help them.
Last edited by Khandosia on Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:57 am, edited 4 times in total.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:04 pm

The Strike Cruiser Terra's Blood had been on hand to help transport Demarcus, Tacitus, and Lycurgus to Nahiliast Prime, a scheduled manufacturing run that was to see new deliveries of ammunition and weapons to the chapter. Though the chapter had its own armories and manufactoria, none could surpass the expertise and skills of the Mechanicus when it came to creating the necessary tools of warfare that all the servants of the Emperor needed.

The ship captain, Brother-Admiral Geraldin had been more than happy to have them aboard. “It can be boring sometimes on these milk runs, when the only company to keep are the chapter serfs and bridge servitors. Not to mention the cantankerous bitch.”

When Demarcus had frowned at that last comment, Geraldin had explained that it was a name that nearly the entire crew, from the lowest rating to Geraldin himself, used in regards to the Navigator of the Terra's Blood, Mistress Bethesda. She was well into her second century and rarely ever stepped out of her navigational chambers, from where she gazed into the warp as only a mutated member of the Navitoria class could. Regardless of how useful she was, she had a deep love of expensive Amasec alcohol and for silk robes, which she changed out of every hour, on the hour, and never wore again. It was enough to make a pious and austere Space Marine go crazy.

Demarcus and his mentor decided to spend most of the trip inside of a meditation chamber at Tacitus' behest.

“Why so, brother?” Demarcus had asked of his superior; instead of the chance to stay in the company of Geraldin and enjoy a little camaraderie.

“So that perhaps, now that you are on your personal quest to discover the meaning of your dreams, they will manifest themselves even more strongly,” explained Tacitus.

Since Tacitus had suggested it, Demarcus couldn't argue with him. Especially since it was a wise choice. They would be in the warp for several days before reaching the forge world. Time enough to delve further into his psykic visions.


Three Days Later...


The ceremony itself took a long time to prepare. One did not simply delve into the Empyrean on a whim. The Librarius of the Knights of Sanguinius had a careful and ancient method of scrying out the future. Demarcus had to fast for forty-eight hours and sit quietly in prayer, venerating the Primarch and the God-Emperor by chanting a continuous litany of catechisms. He had stripped himself of his power armor and black body-glove, wearing only a thin woolen robe that brothers would wear when on extended periods of praying or in repentance under the guidance of the Chaplains.

Now, after spending his time in preparation, he was ready to begin the full ceremony. He walked into his meditation cell, a room clear of all accoutrements that would normally have occupied the space. In the floor, drawn with special black chalk, was a perfect circle with four cardinal points. At the head of each point was the double-headed eagle of the Imperium, beautifully sketched.

Tacitus had prepared the ceremonial room well.

Demarcus walked forwards and took a seat, cross-legged, in the center of the circle. He took up a golden chalice that sat before him and a silver-embossed combat knife. With a quick swipe of the blade, he cut a wound down the middle of his palm. Before his advanced physiology could seal with wound thanks to the Larraman cells in his body, he squeezed his hand into a tight fist over the gold chalice. A small rivulet of precious red fluid fell from his fist and landed inside the cup.

“As did the Primarch, so shall I; blood given for sacrifice to the Emperor,” intoned Demarcus.

The librarian set the cup down in front of him and channeled his warp-given powers. Electrical currents filled his body and with his mind he transferred the smallest fraction of power to the chalice in front of him. The blood that had settled in the bottom of the cup was set aflame and a fairly large cloud of red smoke filled the air.

“I am not alone, for the Emperor is with me,” continued Demarcus. “My powers become His.”

Next to the gold cup lay four large crystals the color of Demarcus' blood. He took them into his hand and, one by one, placed them over the heart of the double-headed eagle at each of the cardinal points around the circle. These were no ordinary crystals of simple ornamentation, but rather were part of a psychic hood, an apparatus that allowed Librarians to focus their warp powers and in turn be protected from enemy psychic attacks.

Demarcus drew upon his powers once more and laid his right hand palm-down against the cold metal of the floor. White arcs of lightning sprung from his hand and ran across the floor in the blink of an eye, hitting the first blood crystal. When the energy hit the crystal, a ringing sound filled the air, like the soft chime of a bell.

The arc shot along the path of the chalk circle, connecting each of the blood crystals with glowing-white lines of power. As the connection was made the ringing chime became louder and deeper in its tone. The power infused in them caused all four blood crystals to raise up into the air on invisible strings of psychic power until they were at the same height as Demarcus' head. With his mind the Librarian focused the flow and current of the warp power he contained through the crystals and into his mind, breathing deep the incense made of his own blood.

The trance hit him like a cargo hauler, unexpectedly and lightning quick. It was always risky to do this ceremony, as the Librarian in question had to surrender himself to the psychic binding of the Emperor, using that connection to enter a greater stream of power. While the Emperor was a beacon to help guide you through the process, the malign powers of the warp could become attracted to your presence. It was a dangerous method of looking into the future.

Demarcus' body opened it's eyes to reveal nothing but blood red orbs, a small stream of blood falling like tears down his face. Though his body was in pain, his mind's eye saw what was truly before him.
Last edited by Khandosia on Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:05 pm

The world around Demarcus had changed. He was no longer sitting inside of a meditation cell aboard the Terra's Blood. Now he stood upon a world far different from what he had previously been perceiving in his visions. Beneath his feet was not the dry, cracked earth that he had expected. The air was not a twisting maelstrom of dust and sand. The sky was not overcast with dark, ominous clouds that crackled with sickly empyrean-spawn lightning.

Instead, the world was a beautiful vista of rolling green plains and tall, healthy copses of trees that Demarcus had never seen the like of before. The sky was a bright, breath-taking blue that allowed two suns to shine brightly down through. Lazy white clouds moved across that sky-blue ocean like turtles, big and oval shaped. The air was clear of any toxins or dust particles.

It was paradise.

Suddenly Demarcus fell to his knees as the world around him rumbled and shook. To his enhanced ears he heard explosions. He turned to see great plums of earth jack-knife into the sky, spurred by tongues of exploding flame from discharged artillery shells. Movement attracted his eyes, at the base of the hill running figures appeared over the lip of the incline. What he saw coming down the hill made him twitch and instinctively reach for his bolt pistol, though in his psychic dream state he had no such weapons.

The figures had a ethereal cast to them, as if they were ghosts filtering in and out of Demarcus' sight, but the closer they came, the more that they began to solidify to his eye sight.

Eldar warriors in blue and white armor came running with lithe quickness that was an inherent trait of their kind. They moved with smooth, fluid beauty even though they were outfitted for war. No other xenos race could match them for that alone, and was a trait that Demarcus had always admired about the Eldar, even as he killed them in battle. Before he could let his mind wander more, Demarcus looked closer at their formation and realized that they were running in route. This battle was near over.

His heart surged with pride and wonder as he saw what it was the Eldar were running from, for coming over the hill that the Eldar had just vacated was a line of armored giants bearing bolt guns and chain blades. Astartes in black armor came charging down the hill, bolters blazing. Many were the Eldar that fell to the ground, dead from a bolt round taking them in the back. Demarcus felt like cheering and almost did so until he spotted the insignia that was emblazoned on every shoulder pauldron of the Space Marines that finished killing off the last of the Eldar.

An open book with a great burning flame at the center. It was the symbol of the Word Bearers.

“Traitors!” hissed Demarcus. Why had his dream led him here?

But before he could find another expletive to use against the traitors, he noticed more details. The Word Bearers power armor was not painted red. Instead it was black with dull silver trim. Votive symbols and purity seals that would have been in more keeping of a loyalist Space Marine hung in excess from their armor and weapons. And the armor itself was...by Terra, it was older model Mark IV power armor.

“But that hasn't been in use since the Heresy!” Demarcus said to himself. As if further proof was needed, the thunder of engines preceded the arrival of a Stormbird assault ship. It was the larger, more ungainly predecessor of the Thunderhawk gunships that Space Marines used in Demarcus' time.

“So I am on a planet before Horus betrayed the Emperor...” Demarcus was becoming lost in his thoughts. “But why here? Why should I see this?”

His thoughts were immediately cut off as the ramp of the Stormbird came down and, as one, all of the dozens of Word Bearer Space Marines fell to their knees in reverence. Demarcus had to mentally force himself to stand erract as the figure that walked down the ramp came forward and into the light. Taller even than the tallest Space Marine, the figure stood in magnificent armor that only the greatest masters of ancient Terra and Mars could fashion.

Demarcus had only ever heard stories and tales of the great Primarchs of old. They were as akin to gods before the might of Space Marines. The true, blooded sons of the Emperor himself. The mere sight of one, it had been said, was enough to cower an enemy into submission and turn a simpering coward into the greatest of heroes. These beings, the progenitors of the gene-seed by which all Space Marines were created, were to be glorified and revered. Demarcus' knees ached to bend, even though his conscious mind reminded him that though this ethereal figure of the ancient past was apparently still a loyal follower of the Emperor, in Demarcus' time he was a Chaos daemon prince of incalculable evil and malice.

Lorgar stopped before his kneeling sons and raised his hand in recognition and bid them rise. His voice was deep and resonate. It was a voice that the greatest orators of history would have killed to possess. The timbre of the voice conveyed brotherhood and strength. The tone showed care and mercy. The words themselves defined the respect and warmth that the primarch felt for his sons.

“That was the last of the Eldar bands in this region,” said Lorgar. “Captain Jarulek, you and your company are to be commended.”

“The glory of the God-Emperor was with us, my lord,” replied one of the Word Bearers coming to his feet. “Now the world of Aulae will be under the aegis of the Imperium.”

“Blessed be His name,” said Lorgar with such faith and piety that Demarcus wept. As a Librarian he was privy to many transcripts and ancient tomes of history that were forbidden to lesser members of the Chapter. To hear one of the Emperor's sons speak with such love and reverence for his Father, unknowing that in the future Lorgar would betray the Emperor, was heart-breaking.

“Shall we return to the Blessed Terra in orbit? I believe that First Captain Kor Phaeron has already cemented a victory in the capitol city and is freeing the human slaves that were found there,” the captain, Jarulek, said.

Lorgar seemed to lose focus from his captain and turned his head. Demarcus' heart felt as if it stopped beating, for the primarch stared at him almost as if he could perceive the presence of the Librarian standing not but a few feet from him. But that was impossible, Demarcus reminded himself.

“You will return with your company,” replied Lorgar. “I have other work that must be completed. I will take one of your Land Speeders and be back in the capitol in a fort-night.”

“But my lord, should you not be accompanied by--.”

“I am not an individual that need fear danger, Captain,” Lorgar said, his voice becoming harsh as steel. “Other beings need fear me.”

“I apologize for the insult my lord,” Jarulek fell to his knees.

Lorgar calmed himself and smiled down at his captain. “Do not worry Jarulek, for you did not insult me. I know that you and all of my sons merely worry for my safety. I appreciate this, even though it is not needed. Now, please, deliver unto me one of your land speeders and quickly return to the fleet.”

“As you command my lord.”

The Word Bearers company quickly mustered their numbers and prepared to depart in an efficient time and manner. A land speeder bearing the markings of the Word Bearers was driven up next to Lorgar by Jarulek himself. It was apparent that the Captain was trying to make up for his earlier slight, even if Lorgar had forgiven him already.

“Can I ask where it is you intend to go, my lord?” queried Jarulek.

“That you may not,” smiled Lorgar, but his face grew more tight. “I have had a vision and I must complete the task it has set for me. It is one that the God-Emperor, my father, himself has sent me. Of that I have no doubt.”

Lorgar put a large pack into the land speeder's equipment hatch, the contents jinking together in a sound of metal on metal. Jarulek and Demarcus both showed curiosity by staring at the pack as Lorgar closed the hatch and got into the land speeder's driver seat. The land speeder looked ridiculously small next to Lorgar's immense size, but he managed to cram himself behind the controls and start the engine. The primarch turned to Jarulek one last time.

“I shall return in seven days at the capitol. Inform my First Captain that I shall expect him to be there waiting for me when I return,” ordered Lorgar.

“As you command, my lord.”

Lorgar pressed the accelerator pedal inside the land speeder and shot off like the wind. Demarcus felt his psychic senses pull him along with Lorgar, and faster than a speeding bolter round, he was flrying through the air above the land speeder, images of the Word Bearers and Captain Jarulek disappearing.

The rolling green plains disappeared to be replaced by rolling highlands. Rocks and rivers passed beneath the traveling land speeder, Lorgar never once stopping or changing his course. Demarcus was always with him, never truly knowing where exactly the traitor primarch intended to go; questioning the entire time as to why his warp-dream was taking him here. What significance could Lorgar possibly present to the future that Demarcus was only slowly beginning to see glimpses of?

Highlands turned into mountains. They were monolithic constructs of nature that dwarfed even the mountains of Demarcus' homeworld of Sanguinary, the homeworld of the Knights of Sanguinius and the location of their Chapter House fortress. Tall white caps of jagged rock that quickly hid the falling twin suns that arched overhead. After traveling for what seemed like hours, daylight dying away quickly, Lorgar entered a series of mountain passes. If not for the fact that Demarcus was above and could see all of the terrain, he would have never spotted the passes before. Lorgar seemed to have no such difficulty in navigating the passes. It was almost as if he knew exactly where he was going.

Finally, just as the last rays of daylight disappeared over the horizon of the mountains, Lorgar entered a small valley that was hidden by a perfect outcrop of rocks that made the entrance look like a pile of gargantuan pillars. The primarch halted the land speeder and got out of the vehicle. Demarcus came to stand, figuratively speaking, next to Lorgar. With fervent purpose, Lorgar retrieved his gear bag from the equipment hatch and began walking up the stone ground towards the side of the mountain.

He walked for three kilometers until he had reached the back of the small valley. The mountainside was almost entirely vertical and perfectly smooth to the touch. It was as if nature had carved a wall out of the very mountain. Demarcus, standing next to Lorgar as the primarch laid a hand onto the stone, looked up to see the Word Bearers' master smiling.

“It is here,” Lorgar said aloud. “This is where the vision led me. Now my work must begin.”

One of the mysterious objects that had been in the gear bag came out. It was a melta-cutter, the civilian tool that used the same power and abilities of the meltagun that could use its plasma heat to penetrate even the thickest of armor. Setting himself steady, Lorgar aimed the melta-cutter at the wall of rock and pressed its activation rune. A blinding jet of plasma energy rolled out of the aiming forks of the cutter and began delving into the wall like a man's hand might shape wet sand.

For two hours Lorgar worked with the melta-cutter, creating a pasasgeway tall and wide enough to allow three Space Marines to walk comfortably abreast. Then, to Demarcus' surprise, Lorgar cut into an open recess into the rock. It was not unknown for empty spaces to exist within mountains, caused either by water or simple erosion, but this space seemed almost perfectly dry, only a few watery puddles across the space. Stalactites hung from the ceiling, small droplets of water falling from them.

Lorgar immediately set to task of cutting the excess stone away with the cutter. He cut many of the largest pieces of marble and limestone into great blocks, which he set to the side. Demarcus gave witness too all of this industry, not knowing at all as to why he was being shown it.

Days swept past.

For the first three days and nights, Lorgar had done nothing but square off the chamber, making its floors, walls, and ceiling perfectly flat. The excess stone was not simply thrown away either, instead it was cut into building material. For the fourth and fifth days, columns were cut from the left over marble and limestone. More tools came from the ubiquitous gear bag that Lorgar had brought with him, delicate chisels and hammers appearing. With them he carved magnificent statues that graced the walls and hung from columns.

By the time Lorgar was carving the dimensions of the altar from a ten-foot block of silver-veined marble, Demarcus realized what it was that Lorgar had created here from the bare rock. He was making a temple. Statues that betrayed the expressions and physical traits of all of the Primarchs stood next to one another along the walls, perfectly made life-like miniatures of their living examples.

Behind the altar itself, Lorgar had constructed a statue of the God-Emperor himself. Demarcus fell to his knees this time in complete reverence. Here was not just some random artists or artificers interpretation of what the God-Emperor might look like, but rather a beautiful and resplendent image of the Emperor made by him who had seen the Emperor himself and knew him when he had walked amongst Mankind. The only word that could come to mind was “perfection.”

On the final, seventh, day Lorgar had taken out a small container of gold engraving paint. With it he inlaid the alter with it, filling in the carved letters that he had placed there. Demarcus read them when Lorgar had finished.

Brother shall never forsake Brother. When peril shall rise the call shall resound, and the Emperor himself shall answer it.

The temple was complete. Using the time that he had spent here watching over Lorgar's work, Demarcus had measured it and truly gained an appreciation for what the primarch had done. The chamber itself was thirty-feet wide and one-hundred and seventy feet long. Eighty columns lined the center pathway from the entrance to the altar. Eighteen statues of all the primarchs lined the walls at intervals between the pillars, resplendent in all their glory, except for two empty plinths which Lorgar had left empty for reasons that Demarcus could not understand.

“I sense your presence,” said Lorgar.

The words, the first that the primarch had spoken since first coming to begin his work, shocked Demarcus. He whirled around and stared at the Primarch. Lorgar was not however looking directly at the Librarian and was merely staring up at the statue of the Emperor.

“You have watched over this work that I have done. It pleases me to think that it is worthy of Him. I fear for what should come in the future, for I feel that my Father shall call for me some day soon.”

Lorgar turned and this time Demarcus knew for certain that he was being seen, or at least felt by the Primarch.

“I know not as to why you have watched over me, but I am certain that the God-Emperor has a plan for all things. You, whoever you are, must wonder as to why I built this place in such secrecy. The answer to that is not simple. I had a strong vision, not but a few days ago, when my legion and I first came to this world. I knew that I must come here, alone, and carve a place for reverence to the Emperor and my brother primarchs,” explained Lorgar.

“I trust to you this place. I know not what uses it will have in the future, only that it was meant to exist. For that is purpose alone to satisfy the vision that I had.”

Without another word, Lorgar walked forwards, passed through Demarcus' astral form, and left the temple. Demarcus followed and watched as a giant stone door was placed over the temple entrance by Lorgar. It fit perfectly and unless Demarcus had not known that it was already there, he would have assumed that it was just another part of the mountainside. He turned around as he heard the sounds of the land speeder engine revving up, and he watched as Lorgar drove off out of the valley to meet his dark future.


As if his body had been hit by a thunder bolt, Demarcus coughed and came to life. His face fell forward towards the metal floor of the meditation chamber and his hand shot out to catch him, knocking over one of the now inert and dull blood crystals that he had used to help him see deeper into his visions. He had to wipe at his eyes for a minute, clearing out the dried blood caked there, before he could see once more.

Demarcus looked up to see Brother Tacitus standing over him, frowning down.

“You look like you've seen the devil himself,” commented Tacitus.

Demarcus simply laughed, and coughed as his dry throat thronged with momentary pain.
Last edited by Khandosia on Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:19 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Postby Khandosia » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:07 am

Hidden within the Chapter Fortress known as "The Rock." | Imperium of Man | Warhammer Universe

The dreams kept him entwined within the matrices of his subconscious like a mouse wandering through a maze. Except that instead of moving through its dark passageways to find the exit, this mouse did not want to escape. Psykic pain and emotions would rise up each time his mind ever came close to returning to consciousness. It was simply not a pain he wished to endure ever again. After all, he had failed.

He, Lion El'Jonson, Primarch and leader of the First Legion of Space Marines, the Dark Angels, son of the Emperor of Mankind himself, had failed. His closest friend and confidant had betrayed him. His fury and anger had helped to destroy his adopted homeworld, his beloved Caliban.

Jonson dug deeper into the darkness of his dreams. He passed through great archways of black obsidian and towering rock walls, figments of his imagination and yet more real and binding to his mind than any chains that reality could produce. Doors closed behind him as he fled. The pain was too great. Even running did not help, for the pain always returned. It did not seem fair, to the small thing that ran onwards and onwards, to be trapped by such dark and vengeful anxieties.

The small figure ran through another doorway, the dark obsidian closing behind him with a snap, only to find that there was no other portal through which he could continue his flight. The world around him had changed from a dark, black tunnel of continuous doorways to a bright, white expanse of seeming nothingness. Such vast emptiness disturbed Jonson as he looked around, trying to find how best to escape.

Suddenly a light appeared on the horizon.

It was like the rising sun. A dawning tidal wave of golden light that burned the eyes and seared the soul. All and sundry were naked before its touch. There was no hiding from it, and in his despair, Jonson fell to his knees. He watched the oncoming light, feeling the strange warmth of its tendrils as it came closer. Only as it did so did he finally notice the slight outline of a figure hidden within its depths, enshrined with light.

A shadow of a memory pulled at Jonson's mind. He knew this figure, but did not. His mind would not allow itself to remember.

+At last I come to you, my son.+ The figure strode forward and towered over Jonson. The voice was strong, vibrant, and spoke of a hallowed power beyond the ken of mortal men. The sound caused Jonson to bow his head automatically, such was the obvious reverence with which he should treat the owner of so powerful and mighty a voice.

"Who are you?" Jonson asked, his voice only barely steady.

+I am your progenitor. I am your Emperor.+

Jonson remained on his knees and lowered his head. Like a dam crumbling before the powerful surge of watery tides, his mind was free. Knowledge and forgotten pasts flooded into Jonson's mind. He remembered everything. Oh, sweet Terra, he remembered everything.

"I am not worthy of being in your presence, my Lord," managed Jonson, shutting his eyes and keeping his body taut in its kneeling position.

+Raise thy head, El'Jonson called the Lion. I have need of you.+

"What could I possibly do, my Lord? I am but a pitiful wretch. Please, leave me to my dark dreams. I do not deserve to be near you," begged Jonson.

+You have been chosen, my dear son, to lead a part of my children out of darkness. To preserve Humanity and my Imperium for a later day of darkness. It has been set aside and they are safeguarded, but they require leadership. They require you.+

Images floated across Jonson's mind, filled with a billion billion lives as they passed before him in procession, innocent and pure and loving of their God-Emperor. The magnificence and purity of their faith and the truth of it made Jonson want to close his eyes. He had always been taught that the Emperor was not divine or god-like, but how else could any person explain it? There was no other answer, just the bare truth. The power of that truth and responsibility that Jonson felt crowding around his mind was like a mountain laid upon him. He did not wish to bear such a burden again. He had lost brothers and friends enough to last a hundred lifetimes of pain and anguish.

"I c-cannot lead these people," pleaded Jonson. "How can I even speak to these people? I have failed you so horribly. Choose another, Father. Let this cup pass from me."

Like a thousand suns, the golden light around the God-Emperor of Mankind swelled to proportions beyond measurement and in that moment Jonson truly felt as if he was but a speck of nothingness next to a all-powerful tsunami of power. When He spoke next, the words reverberated around Jonson's entire body, shaking it to its core.

+Who in time immemorial united ancient Terra from the ravages of unending civil war? Who forged the Imperium of Man and brought forth enlightenment to the scattered remnants of Man out of Old Night and reclaimed the stars!? Created you in my own image to carry out those deeds? Did not I?+

The words shattered the world around Jonson and caused him to lower himself even more to the ground in obeisance. Golden light pulsed and flowed like a mighty avalanche with each syllable and word.

His Father's voice became softer and the light receded in its intensity. +Oh, my son. Did not I forge you from my own flesh? Did not I give you what was necessary to complete any task that is beyond mortal ability?+

"Yes," whispered Jonson.

+Do not burden yourself, my son, with the past. You have suffered trials and tribulations, but they serve only to make you stronger.+

Jonson raised his head. "I do not fully trust myself, Father. I failed you. I failed my Legion. I failed Luther."

+Luther was a good and great man who was overcome by his own desires. Your faults do not lie with Luther. Though you loved him as your brother, you allowed yourself a different mistake. You must never forget that as great as Mankind is, there is always an inner frailty. Even amongst you, my sons, my primarchs.+

Jonson detected a slight melancholy tone enter his Father's voice. +In my pride for you I thought that all of you were strong enough to handle the task that I had set, but I did not truly understand the inner heart of my sons. That for all their strengths and powers, that doubt and human frailty still remained. For that I must apologize to you, my son, as I did to Horus when he lay dying by my hand.+

"Father..."

The light renewed its strength and Jonson felt himself being uplifted, strengthened, and empowered.

+You must go, my son. To you I am entrusting this last task that I have set for you. Do not fear your faults, face them and conquer them! Know that no matter where you go, I will always be with you. When you face the darkness of the galaxy, leading my children, you will know that I am with you. By my name and power, you will succeed.+

The light began to recede again and Jonson felt his consciousness reaching outwards to take him from his dream state. Jonson cried out and reached for the light. "Do not leave me! Please!"

The light seemed to pause for a moment and Jonson thought he saw the figure turn.

+I will be with you, always.+

Like a door being slammed shut, Lion El'Jonson awoke.
Last edited by Khandosia on Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:23 am, edited 2 times in total.
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"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:00 am

Nihiliast Prime | Forgeworld of the Mechanicus


For more than eight millenia, the world of Nihiliast Prime had belonged to the cog-wheeled acolytes of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Few details concerning the original physical landscape of the planet existed, except for fragmentary records that is might have once been a green, nature-filled paradise. Whatever it once had been, its future was far more grim, but industrious.

On the plains of what had once been the bottom of vast oceans sat giant manufactorum, giant monolithic buildings that produced the various tools, machinery, and weapons that the populace of the Khand Sector relied upon to survive. Flowing between these production temples was a gargantuan rail line, capable of transporting anything from the massed populace of Adeptus menials that worked the factories themselves to the giant, super-heavy tanks of the Imperial Guard.

Upon what was the largest continent of the planet, gargantuan hive spires existed; shooting high enough into the sky that they seemed to disappear into the very ozone layer. Here was where the billions of Adeptus Mechanicus serfs lived, packed together like so many spare parts. Life was cheap and quick, a man considered lucky if he lived to be thirty. Only those who made up the limited aristocracy of the planet or were chosen to become the augmented and red-robed servants of the Omnissiah could truly escape from the dreariness of a slow death by breathing in the toxic air of the planet by working in the manufactorum.

At the north pole of the planet was a giant ziggurat constructed from forged metal. Ash snow, fall out from the massive amounts of exhaust and fumes put out by the manufactorum sectors and carried northwards by the prevailing winds, fell across the ziggurat in a blizzard, keeping the giant construct the color of dull, cold steel. Hephestos Mons, the name of the main forge, was a constantly pulsating in tune with the electrical life-blood of the planet.

It was most irregular for any vessel to request landing rights that was already scheduled for orbital dock into the Vespasian Docks over Nahiliast Prime. However, the fact that it belonged to the Knights of Sanguinius and the message bore the personal heraldry of Lycurgus, Master of the Forge, the landing rights were quickly admitted and coordinates voxed to the Thunderhawk transport that came roaring down through the upper atmosphere. Because the message had requested a personal audience with the Fabricator General, the Thunderhawk was directed to Hephestos Mons.

Demarcus looked outside one of the aft portholes of the Thunderhawk, impressed by the immensity of the ziggurat that they were flying down to. Even though the Thunderhawk was eating up the distance between them, forty kilometers out and closing, Dermarcus could no longer see the bare rock of Nahiliast Prime; only the rising levels of the ziggurat, Hephestos Mons.

“Impressive, is it not?” said the Master of the Forge.

“Indeed it is, brother,” replied Tacitus, stepping up next to Demarcus and looking out the viewport next to him.

Lycurgus was piloting the Thunderhawk and so had the best view as he gently changed their descent angle. Demarcus caught sight a large landing pad, easily large enough to berth a Warlord Titan, and a connecting causeway that led to an enormous set of iron doors on the side of the ziggurat. The doors themselves, large enough to allow a titan to walk through with ease, were beginning to open.

“Get ready, I'm going to bring us in a little harder than expected,” called back Lycurgus.

The Techmarine banked the Thunderhawk and dipped the nose of the assault craft in a way that caused Dermarcus and Tacitus to sit back down in their shock-couches. The engines protested loudly as they revved up their output, compensating for the low-altitude/high speed maneuvering that Lycurgus was pushing the craft through. Lycurgus twisted through a downward spiral and then pulled up at the last moment before flattening out his vector. With a quick burst from the engines again he settled the Thunderhawk down onto the middle of the vast landing pad.

“Next time, maybe make our landing a little less flashy brother?” pleaded Demarcus. He stood up from his shoch-couch and picked up his force staff. Tacitus did likewise and smiled at Demarcus.

“Nothing wrong with a little enjoyment. I am sure our Master of the Forge was wanting to vent some steam, seeing as he has been cooped up in our Armory for several cycles now,” said Tacitus.

“That is correct, Chief Librarian,” said Lycurgus, stepped out of the cockpit and joining them by the exit ramp escarpment. “And, it is good to occasionally test the maneuvering abilities of our Thunderhawk transports.”

Demarcus smiled at the Techmarine and nodded. Even Demarcus, a member of the vaunted Librarium, felt the need to occasionally relieve his built up stress, though he did it through meditation techniques that all Librarians were taught.

The three Knights of Sanguinius walked down the ramp at the rear of the Thunderhawk and onto the landing pad. Walking forward from the entrance doors of the ziggurat was a twin line of ten red-robed Skitarii Praetorians. The hulking figures were almost the size of a Space Marine, more machine than flesh, augmented with the deadliest weaponry that the Adeptus Mechanicus could fit into their frames. Glowing eyes of various colors: red, blue, and green peered out from beneath the hooded robes, logic cogitators analyzing the Space Marines, assessing their threat levels. The noospheric electoo that was embedded in Lycurgus' armor identified him to the Skitarii and they disengaged combat parameters.

Demarcus noticed none of this exchange as he was not augmented to see the noosphere that the Mechanicus utilized in the flowing exchange of information. Lycurgus imaged that if either of his brother Knights could see what he could, they would have been a lot more on edge.

A much smaller figure, but no less impressive, stepped through the corridor of Skitarii and came to a stop before the three Space Marines, bowing his head.

“Greetings, honored lords” blared a mechanical, high-pitched voice, “I am Adept Focris, personal secretary to Logastus. Your message identified your purpose here as urgent, thus the Fabricator General sent me to receive you. How may the Mechanicus be of service to the Knights of Sanguinius?”

Lycurgus stepped forward. A scratching, blaring blurt of noise came out of his helmet external vox, or so it seemed to Demarcus and Tacitus. In fact he was speaking Binary, the secret and ancient language of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Only those of the Martian Priesthood were allowed to learn it, but by an ancient agreement with the Knights of Sanguinius Chapter, their Master of the Forge was counted amongst the tech priests as one of their own.

“<We seek interface with the Mechanicum's archive vaults, Adept Focris. We lack pertinent data to arrive at the correct location for a planet we are seeking>” said Lycurgus in a four-second blurt of Binary.

“<I comprehend this inquiry and shall send a message to the Fabricator General immediately.>” replied Focris. Mentally he controlled his noospheric implants, sending a query waver through the network that would arrive before Logastus' enhanced eyes within seconds. A reply was forth coming within another short three seconds, a mark of approval on the Fabricator General's reply.

“Are we allowed to enter?” asked Demarcus, interrupting slightly.

“Yes, Chief Librarian Demarcus,” answered Focris, turning his glowing green augmetic eye to Demarcus. “You and your Master of the Forge have been granted access to our archive vaults. Any data you may require can be found there. After all, the Mechanicus deletes nothing.”

Focris turned and motioned for them to follow. The four of them walked silently through the sentinel ranks of Skitarii and disappeared into the bowels of the forge.
Last edited by Khandosia on Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:59 pm

Hephestos Mons, Forge Primaris of Nihiliast Prime


The vaulted halls of Hephestos Mons were a fantastical display of the power and vista of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Giant veins of red and blue light, wiring lines that transmitted the holy data between cogitator ports throughout the forge, spread throughout the walls and ceiling like forks of lightning. Power cables hung from wall attachments like black vines from a mechanical jungle. Floating skull servitors sped through the air like flocks of birds, going hither and dither on various errands and tasks set to them by their masters. As impressive as the sight was to the unmodified eye, to Lycurgus who had the advantage of perceiving the noosphere, it was a vast matrix of primordial green light overlaying every facet and power node.

Adept Focris led them deeper into the bowels of the forge.

They passed an assembly hall where gargantuan cranes worked on putting together the armored limbs of what would eventually be a Titan war machine. Tech adepts in their red robes ran around it like a small army of ants, chanting litanies to sooth the machine spirit as a new soul was imbedded into the very metal of the Titan. Incense and oil was applied in copious amounts, causing the air to reek of the fumes. They crossed halls where suits of Astartes Power Armor hung in mathematically perfect rows, unadorned and raw from their creation in the forge. The sights and sounds were enough to dull the senses, such was their power.

Demarcus found a new appreciation for the abilities and power of the Mechanicus, upon which the Khand Sector so desperately relied; though Demarcus knew that the relationship was a symbiotic one: Mechanicus and Imperium, one could not survive without the other.

After what seemed to be the passing of days, but was in fact only five hours according to his suit's internal clock, Demarcus looked upon a adamantium door, eight feet tall and guarded by two of the most massive Skitarii Praetorians that he thus far seen. The door itself was an intricate pattern of locks and bars, a chaotic pattern of steel that would keep the door closed and locked for millenia. A single small key hole lay at the center of the door, above which sat an imbedded servo skull with gleaming red eyes.

Adept Focris transmitted fifty-three thousand lines length of complex code through his noospheric link into the receptors of the servo skull. Only a few highly placed adepts or magos had access to the Archive Vaults, and the key to gaining access was always changed every 24-hours with a new code designed by the Fabricator General himself. The servo skull took a minute to process and review the lines of code to check for any mistakes or impurities within the code, even a single mistake would mean the immediate death of whoever had attempted to gain access to the Archives. The servo skull chimed positive, it's red eyes flashing green.

Next, Adept Focris inserted a strange looking length of metal that had small golden lines and wires running across it into the key hole of the door. It clicked into place softly and instantly a powerful generator powered up. The door began circling in its frame counter-clockwise. Locks and arm-bars opened and moved out of their locked stations. After several minutes, the door turning a full 360-degrees around, the door swung open to admit the quartet of visitors.

A voice blurted out in binary from inside the vault. "<Who goes there!? Disturbing my work in the grand cataloger! Omnissiah preserve my circuits if you disturb my work now.>"

Adept Focris would have smiled if his face had not been replaced a century before by a vox plate. He let his amusement imbue his binaric reply, showing his mirth to his fellow tech priest. "<It is Adept Focris with our three guests from the Astartes Chapter, Chief Librarians Demarcus and Tacitus, and Master of the Forge Lycurgus. You were waved a noospheric warning that we would be coming, Magos Alahembria.>"

They entered the main chamber of the vaults.

To the unmodified eye it was a dimly lit cave with toiling adepts hunched over the dark pulpits of their stations while servitors and menials scurried between them, running errands and serving their needs. The central hub, at the center of this collection of cogitators, glowed like a dying ember in the grate of a fireplace. There was a soft and constant background hum of power feeds, code chatter, mechanical operations and beeping data.

To the noospheric view, the dark, spare physicality of the chamber was transformed into a dazzling vista of realized data blocks, flickering communication tracks and drifting, multi-colored shoels of code that swam around them all like gaudy reef fish, darting from one operator to the next to feed on and excrete coral-bright packets of information. Haptically guided streams of intelligence zipped back and forth like green tracer fire, exloaded from one adept, inloaded by another. In places, streams had converged mid-air, creating data matrices as complex as fractal patterns, glowing Mandelbrot crystals where algorithmic programs tied information streams together and compared them. Sometimes, the matrices were fed by these streams from three or more diligent operators.

Lycurgus felt his breath taken from him, such was the sight before him. "<Deus Mechanicus!>" He formed the sign of the cog with his hands in reference before the amount of holy data he was perceiving.

"It seems impressive," allowed Tacitus.

"Truly brother, you cannot imagine what it is I see with my augmented eyes," said Lycurgus. "It is like a thought-stream of the Emperor's will in code form."

"Then I shall show due reverence," replied Tacitus, bowing his head and forming the Aquila with his hands. "Ave Imperator."

"Worthy of reverence, indeed!" said an old and hollow voice.

Magos Alahembria walked towards them from his control pulpit. He was 85.89% machine, having been augmented with more and more parts of the blessed machine in his four centuries of duty to the Mechanicus; two centuries of which he had served as the Master of the Archives. He rarely ever used his flesh-voice, but he switched to it easily enough so that the two un-augmented Space Marine librarians could understand him perfectly.

"It is an honor to meet you, Magos," Tacitus said to Alahembria. "We seek your wisdom and the knowledge of your archives."

"That is no small thing and to have made it this far you must have been given the proper approval..." murmured Alahembria, turning to look at Focris.

"They were given permission for Archival interface by the Fabricator General himself, Magos," nodded Focris. "I am exloading the message to you now."

Alahembria accepted the link and read the message that bore the Fabricator General's electoo signature. He harrumphed in acknowledgement and turned to face the three Astartes warriors.

"I have been told to help you find a planet. Follow me and have what data you have prepared for me."

Without another word, Alahembria turned and led the group to his command pulpit which was, by and large, the size of a Titan's cockpit. The magos sat down at what looked like an ancient Terran grand piano, except that the keys were replaced by glowing lights with metal forks. Blue-white miniature lightning bolts played between the keys, showing how charged with power that they were. A small holographic projection appeared above Alahembria's head so that those not noospherically enabled could see the Manifold, the central servicing unit by which all information within the entire forge passed through and could be accessed by any tech priest with the proper code clearance.

Text began appearing on the hologram.

<[Authorizing]...Initiating activation sequence, aktiva cons sequentia. Librius machina auroris dei. Contact established with [Magos Alahembria]...>

"<Authorization Ignis optika carta mond. Deus Mechanicus.>" blurted Alahembria.

<[Authorization Accepted] Manifold Access 1001101#314 - Security Level: Vermillion...Accepted. Supplementary data modules appended, Stream 2>

"<Initiate search algorithms, full archives, parameters of search pending.>"

<[Search Programis Activated] Data Pending...>

Alahembria turned to face Tacitus and Demarcus. "What would you Astartes like to know?"

Tacitus prodded Demarcus, who stepped forward and bowed respectfully to the Magos. "We're searching for a planet that should be on your records, Magos."

"Its name?"

"We don't know it."

"Settled by whom?"

"We don't know by whom."

Alahembria let out an exasperated blurt. "Do you have any relevant data for this search?"

Demarcus looked at Tacitus and then back at Alahembria. "The planet in question was conquered during the Emperor's Great Crusade..."

"Well, there is a start!" interrupted Alahembria. "<Exload search parameters: conquered planets, Great Crusade.>"

<[Initializing Search]...22,458,893 Names on File - Alphabetically or Chronological Discovery Date? Increase of Search Parameters?>

"It was a world conquered by the XVII Legion...," finished Demarcus.

Alahembria typed in the last parameters and then froze. The magos turned to look at Demarcus, his mechanical augmentations hiding what would have been an astonished or horrified look. The hologram however did not freeze.

<[Search Denied] Parameters Do Not Exist - New Parameters?>

"That is highly sensitive knowledge you are seeking, Chief Librarian," said Alahembria. "Highly sensitive and most likely destroyed. Those are records from a Dark Time, when the Mechanicus itself suffered a Schism of gargantuan proportions."

"I understand, magos, but I must have this piece of information. It is vital not only to the Knights of Sanguinius, but to all of the Khand Sector as well," said Demarcus, trying to put as much passion in his voice to convince the Magos.

"I wish I could help you Chief Librarian, but I cannot. Our records state, as you can see, that what you wish to know does not exist," replied Alahembria.

"<If I may interject>," blurted Focris.

"<Proceed, Adept.>" replied Alahembria.

"<If what they wish to know is as old as you claim it to be but does not exist...this does not computate correctly. The Mechanicus does not delete anything, correct Magos>?"

"<That is correct, Adept.>"

"<Then how much do we sequester>?"


Eighty-Seven Hours Later...


The suggestion made by Adept Focris caused waves throughout the upper echelons of the forge. When Fabricator General Logastus was informed of the request he was quite shocked at his secretary for being so bold. However, the desperate need for the information that the Astartes were showing seemed to make clear that the Mechanicus had to act and help as proactively as possible; even if it meant opening the sequestered section of the archives. And it was there that they found what they were looking for: the location of a world, conquered by the XVII Legion, the Word Bearers, once held by the Eldar.

The ride back into orbit to get aboard the Strike Cruiser Terra's Blood was a solemn one. Demarcus felt the barest strings of destiny pulling at his subconscious, like evanescent spider webs. He was prepared however. Demarcus was a Space Marine and a member of the Librarium of the Knights of Sanguinius. He was not afraid to meet his fate.

For now he had a name for his lost planet: Aulae.
Last edited by Khandosia on Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:25 am

Hidden within the Chapter Fortress known as "The Rock." | Imperium of Man | Warhammer Universe

With a psychic enhanced snap of power, Lion El'Jonson awoke.

The first sensation was...nothing. He felt nothing. In fact, for what seemed an eternity, he could not move. Only Jonson's eyes were open and they sent shocks of pain through his nervous system. Everything was blurry and dark. Jonson knew that he must remain calm and try his best to figure his way through his predicament.

Ever so slowly he began to feel tendrils of friction around the edges of his skin. This gave his brain the requisite signals to figure out that he was lying down on his back, his hands clasped together over his large chest. A deep chill reached through him and he realized that he was also naked, but only his back and buttocks were sending these signals, making him aware that he lay beneath a cloth blanket. It did not cover his eyes however, for he could see a stone ceiling.

The ceiling.

He recognized that stone. He would have recognized that stone anywhere, for it had only ever been in one place throughout his entire life: the Chapter Keep, the Rock, on his beloved Caliban.

He was somewhere in the Rock.

A muscle spasm ran its way down Jonson's body. He could feel his blood pumping fiercely, trying to awaken from the lethargy that had possessed it for Jonson did not know how long. Oh how his muscles ached! It felt like he'd been laying down for a hundred years!

-You have been laying there for much longer than a hundred years, El'Jonson called the Lion-

The voice appeared to have been spoken but Jonson knew that it had been said within his mind. However, it was not the ancient power and majesty of his Father that spoke. This voice was different, felt more strange, and...perhaps even as old as his Father.

-Indeed, we are not the Golden One. He counts us as allies though and ever have we been yours and your sons friends; though it pleased us not at all to be as such- said another voice, different in tone and pitch.

Jonson tried to open his mouth to speak. His mouth opened, grudgingly, and his jaw cracked loudly. His throat was so dry however that no words would come out. Instead of trying to speak, he simply thought; knowing that the voices would hear.

“Who are you?” thought Jonson.

-We are the Watchers in the Dark. We are guardians that watched over Caliban for millenia beyond counting to protect it from Chaos...but now we are your guardians and watch over your forgotten sons.- answered an third voice. This voice was more powerful than the other two and spoke with great authority.

“My sons...my Dark Angles? Do they fair well?” thought Jonson, pleading entering his imagined voice.

-Know now, El'Jonson, that your world has changed irrevocably since you last were conscience. It is now the 42nd millennium. You have been within a stasis sleep for over 10,000 years within a small, well hidden chamber in the very heart of your fortress, called the Rock.- the third voice answered.

“10,000 YEARS!?”

-For your immortal flesh, crafted as it was by the Golden One, time had stopped. We kept your body from any form of decay and provided it sustenance. Only your mind remained trapped within itself and kept you from waking.-

“What of my sons!?”

-The Dark Angles Space Marine Chapter continues to live on. In the wake of the Great Chaos War brought on by your fallen brother, the Arch-Traitor Horus, the galaxy was torn asunder in a thousand different wars. Only by the efforts of Roboute Guilliman was your Imperium saved. He it was that broke up the Astartes legions and turned them into thousand-strong chapters, with only one chapter continuing on the legacy of the legions that spawned them.-

Anger built within Jonson. What right had Guilliman to break up his legion? Who else but the Emperor, their Father, could dare to break up the First!?

-We sense your anger, Lion. Tame it, otherwise you will fall back into the dark abyss of your mind. What was done cannot be undone. Of that, you should know more than any other.-

“I would not have my First Legion destroyed!”

-But it was, in part, destroyed by your own hubris.- The words cut deep into Jonson. The Watchers knew more than even he did about the events before he fell unconscious.

“I was not the one that broke my bonds of brotherhood. Luther...Luther...”

-Luther was a broken man. Greatest amongst an age of knightly men until the day he found you. If not for your presence Luther would have become the leader of Caliban and likely the Grand Master of the Order. How could you not see that? For all that he should have hated you and resented you, he loved you El'Jonson, as a brother and friend. Yet you could not forgive him his lapse in judgment, when he almost died both trying to kill and save you. A forgiveness that would have kept him from the road to Chaos.-

“He betrayed me!'

-And you betrayed him. Wrong was done to wrong. Do you know that Luther still lives?-

“How?”

-He is kept alive, partly by us and partly by the genetic engineering of his proto-Astartes body. He is not more than a few hundred meters from your present position, divided only by stone and our own psykic shielding. In a small dark cell he raves and cries out for your forgiveness. He has done so day and night for every day for ten-thousand years.-

Jonson was silent. His mind raced into the past, remembering the last great duel between Luther and himself. A normal Astartes would have been swept away as like a child before an adult, such is a primarch's fury and power. Luther however had become something far more powerful and equal in might. Only by psykic powers beyond Jonson's ken had Luther brought him low. And there it was, the last visible memory he had: Luther crying out in fear and shouting Jonson's name, reaching forwards with his armored hand to catch a falling primarch.

“I forgive him...”

-It is well that you should do so. Know that he has forgiven you all your own sins long ago. You shall not see each other in these times, for though he is now renewed in his faith before the Golden One, Luther is still a traitor and once tread the path of Chaos. He must remained locked until such time as the Golden One says otherwise.-

“I need to...” the voice cracked out from Jonson's throat. He had unconsciously started speaking aloud.

-We will give you a small amount of energy to further boost your body's recovery.-

Life burned its way through Jonson faster than a bolt of lightning. The pain his muscles had been experiencing disappeared and he felt renewed. He reached his hand up and rubbed his throat, feeling a grizzled beard growing there. With a small grunt he lifted himself up and moved his legs over the side of the stone plinth he had been laid upon.

He looked around, his eyes clear and seeing just as they had ten thousand years before. The stone room he was in was ten meters by ten meters, the ceiling stretching up beyond twelve meters. That was good, since Jonson himself was exactly eight feet in height. He had always been shorter than his brothers Magnus and Horus, but had managed to always match Guilliman and Rogal Dorn.

In the corner of the room he spotted an armor stand in the corner bearing his old set of power armor. It was broken and pocked full of holes. It was clear that the Watchers had left it as he had worn it when Luther had managed to lay him low.

Looking around he finally saw three diminutive figures standing before him. Each wore a dark robe that hid both body types and facial features. No hands or appendages of any type extended from folds or sleeves. Only a pair of glowing eyes, different colors for each, sat in their shadowed hoods.

-You have been give a purpose, El'Jonson.-

“By my Father, I know,” said Jonson.

-It is much more than you truly realize. So much is at stake. We are doubtful you will be able to help much, but the Golden One insisted that it be you.-

The thought that his Father had such faith in him gave Jonson a strong, warm feeling.

-Be not too proud. You have much to prove.-

“And I shall. Now what shall I wear? Obviously I cannot wear that old armor set over there. Not unless you can point me in the direction of the nearest Mechanicus armorer?”

-The Golden One will provide you with what you need to succeed.-

The trio turned their backs to Jonson and lifted their sleeves, facing the wall behind them. A murmur of ether voices filled Jonson's head and he knew in the marrow of his bones a deep chill. Warp magic, the psyker arts, or whatever the damn you wanted to call it filled the room. Jonson's breath came out in a cloud and frost built up on the stone.

A golden circle appeared in the air by the wall. The chanting of the Watchers grew louder and the cirlce increased in size, widening faster and faster. The golden warp portal, for that was what it was, increased in size until it was large enough for an Astartes in full power armor to step through. Jonson did not know what to expect from it.

Without any ceremony or warning, a gargantuan chest half as tall as Jonson and twice as wide was tossed through and fell with a bang onto the stone floor. One of the Watchers was forced to side-step it to avoid being squished beneath its bulk. Jonson studied it and was shocked to see it was made from pure gold. His Father's sigil, the lightning bolt and double-headed eagle was embellished across every inch of the chest.

Jonson looked back up to the portal, for he heard footsteps. A leg and an arm came through, followed by a giant torso. The figure was wearing some of the most ornate power armor that Jonson had ever seen and was unique for it shone like gold and bore the personal heraldry of the Emperor and of Terra. A cloak of rich scarlet draped the figure's shoulders. A mighty halberd tipped with an engraved silver blade, was gripped in a hand that would never tremble.

It was a Custodian, of the vaunted Imperator Praetoria, life-guards of the Emperor.

Once the gold-armored Custodian had fully stepped into the room, the golden portal behind him closed with a thunder clap and Watchers fell momentarily to their knees, exhausted by their efforts. The Custodian himself strode past them without looking at them and stood before Jonson.

Custodians were creatures apart from regular Astartes warriors. Where the members of the Adeptus Astartes had been created from the stock of their primarch gene-fathers, the Custodians were created by the Emperor's hand Himself. They were taller, stronger, and overall more impressive than a regular Astartes could ever hope to be. This one was particularly tall, only about half a foot below Jonson once he took off his conical golden helm.

The Custodian removed his helmet and Jonson cracked a smile, recognizing the face of the man before him.

“Well met, Chief Custodian Constantin Valdor. It has been long since I last saw your face,” said Jonson in greeting.

Constantin Valdor regarded Jonson with knowing eyes. “I have been commanded by our Emperor, beloved by all, to accompany you on your path El'Jonson. That, and to deliver this chest.” He threw his thumb behind him to indicate the chest.

“So you know--,” began Jonson.

“Everything,” nodded Valdor, interrupting him.

-We waist time. There is yet more to do before he departs.- said the lead Watcher.

Valdor nodded and walked back over to the gold chest. He took a golden key from his belt and inserted it into a small, almost invisible keyhole that was hidden within the eye of a carved eagle. A series of more than a hundred clicks was audible as Valdor turned the key three times counter-clock wise and then twice clock-wise. With a snap-hiss, the chest opened.

Revealed inside was a set of power armor that was unique in all the universe. None had ever been made like it or would ever again. It brought tears to Jonson's eyes. It was his Father's armor. It was the golden armor of the Emperor.

“I was told to present this to you, to wear so that you will always be protected from all manner of weapons, both mortal and psykic,” said Valdor. “The Emperor, beloved by all, desired you to wear it. It is a sign of His covenant with you, El'Jonson. Wear it well and do not bring shame to it or I shall kill you myself.”

Everything was there. It was just as Jonson remembered it, even to the very first day when the Emperor had come down to Caliban for the very first time. Oh how the armor had shone that day under the sun of Caliban! Everything was there...except for Father's sword. The mighty power claw, called Aetos Dios, lay in a small clasp, but nothing else.

Jonson turned to Valdor. “Where is my Father's sword?”

“It is with Him. He keeps it upon his lap upon the Golden Throne for reasons that I do not know or care to know,” said Valdor.

-Your own sword will be returned to you, El'Jonson.-

The Watchers had once again turned away from the two taller men before them and were waving their arms in a concentric pattern. Another portal of gold was opened, this one much smaller than that which had seen Valdor come through. It thrashed and writhed with arcs of white lightning running across its surface, almost as if the portal was unwilling to be born into the mortal realm.

A dark figure came rolling through the portal, the sounds of battle echoing out from wherever the portal had taken him from. The figure rose warily to his feet and brought up a pair of weapons, a plasma pistol in his left hand and a bolt pistol in his fight.

Attached to his back next to the backpack power planet of his black-painted power armor was a giant sword almost as long as the Astartes warrior was tall. White, mud-stained robes covered most of his chest and lower legs, tied together at the waist with a silver chain that bore the same emblem as was emblazoned on his left shoulder pauldron: a downward pointing sword with wings.

“Who are you!? Why have you--,” the man roared for a moment until his dark eyes caught sight of Jonson. The recognition came to them both in that instant and the man dropped his weapons instantly and fell to his knees, hands clasping together like as in prayer. Tears glistened down the Astartes' cheeks as he bowed low before Jonson.

“Cypher,” Jonson half-whispered, naming the kneeling figure.

“My Lord Lion! I cannot – I am not worthy...” words were failing the enigmatic Cypher.

-Here now is one of your Fallen, El'Jonson. The man known only to others as Cypher, the title from the ancient Order for the Keeper of Secrets and Traditions. One of the very men who temporarily rebelled against you ten thousand years ago, when many thought you had abandoned them upon Caliban.-

“Another traitor,” growled Valdor.

“My Lord Lion! I beg your forgiveness! For me and your Fallen sons. We only fought because we thought you had abandoned us! The Terrans were trying to take away our sacred Caliban from us! Luther was only try to--.”

“Enough,” ordered Jonson. He came to his feet, wrapping the cloth blanket that had covered him around his waist. Cypher bowed even lower.

“You bring me back my sword, do you not, Lord Cypher?” asked Jonson.

Slowly, Cypher reached behind his back and pulled the Lion Sword from its sheath. It was a beautiful blade and had been forged by the Terran tech clans using long forgotten knowledge, long ago. It was broken however, about three feet up from the hilt. Broken so long ago when he dueled Luther that fateful day.

“I have carried it these past millenia, seeking to present it before the Golden Throne. With you missing, my lord, I knew that only the Emperor could absolve myself and the other Fallen. I wanted to give it to Him on Earth and ask forgiveness,” explained Cypher, still not daring to lift his head.

“Little forgiveness would you have found, traitor, if you had actually reached Holy Terra,” said Valdor with a snort.

“Hush Custodian,” ordered Jonson. He took Cypher by the shoulders and lifted him up. Cypher looked aghast and frightened, shocked that his primarch would even touch him. Jonson's stare arrested Cypher and he could not look away.

“You are forgiven for you past trespasses, Cypher of the Order and the Dark Angels. For bearing my sword back to me, I thank you. I would not be truly whole without it,” smiled Jonson.

“As you wish my lord. Thank you. I cannot truly express how much this means to me...”

-You will have ample time to do so, Cypher. As decreed by the Golden One, you shall journey with your Lord Lion into another universe, mirror to our own. There a disparate and desperate portion of the territory you call the Imperium of Man has become lost. They are confronted on all sides by the powers of Chaos and other threats. Your Lord Lion has been tasked with their salvation.-

Cypher fell to his knee this time, in devotion and duty, with one fist against the rocky floor and the other held to his chest. “I swear this Oath of Moment, that I shall accompany my Lord Primarch on any journey he sees fit, to protect him with my life until death takes me; to do everything in my power to serve him and to serve the Emperor, beloved by all.”

“I have listened to your oath,” said Valdor.

“I have attested to its sincerity and acknowledge it,” added Jonson. “Rise, Cypher of the Dark Angels.”

“I am afraid however, my Lord, about your sword,” muttered Cypher. He still held it out before him.

-That is easily enough fixed.-

A bolt of gold light, powerful fabric of psykic matter, hit the blade. It flashed up the sword from the hilt, embedding its light into every engraved mark and enameled filigree. When it reached the part where the sword was broken, it began knitting more metal back into reality. The three men watched as the golden light reworked the metal until after a few moments the sword was re-made anew.

With a trembling hand, Jonson reached out and grasped the sword. It felt as if he had never held it before, or that is was freshly made from Ferrus Manus' forge. Jonson turned to the lead Watcher and nodded to him.

“You have my thanks.”

-None is required, but never the less your thanks are accepted.-

Jonson sheathed his sword back in his old scabbard and with Valdor and Cypher's help, dressed in a new suit of black carapace and piece by piece, put on his Father's armor. Every piece added felt like another responsibility being laid atop Jonson's shoulders. Each piece filled him with a power that he had never sensed before except when in the presence of the Emperor.

When they had placed the last piece of armor on him, its power came online and the weight of the armor disappeared. Jonson felt light as a feather and strong as ten Astartes put together. The armor was unlike anything he had ever worn before. It responded to his thoughts, practically before he could even think. Blue arcs of power played across the scything finger blades of the Aetos Dios. The golden halo projected around his head by the power fields of the armor played across his dark hair, marking the stark difference between the golden armor and his dark hair and pale features.

Cypher was on his knee once more in obeisance, awe and joy filling his face. Even Valdor had his head bowed in respect. The three enigmatic Watchers stood silent, looking on with judging eyes.

“I am ready,” said Jonson.

-Ready though you are, the time is not quite yet. We can only keep the portal to the other universe open for a small period of time. We cannot make it ourselves.-

“Then how am I to get there?”

-One will come to open the way.-
Last edited by Khandosia on Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:03 am, edited 8 times in total.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:52 pm

Planet Aulae | Unknown System | Strike Cruiser Terra's Blood


The planet was a dust bowl. Atmospheric storms reaching as far as hundreds of kilometers wide moved across the planet's surface, rolling with upturned sand, dirt, and other bits of topsoil. The various storms were interspersed with lightning strikes, arching across in arcs large enough to be seen even from orbit. The system that contained this whirling ball of dirt was itself unremarkable. Three other satellite planets orbited its star, each lifeless and silent. Scans made from the bridge of the Terra's Blood did register some background radiation -- indications that at some point in the distant past, weapon-grade nuclear weaponry had been expended upon their surfaces. But it was here, on Aulae, that the greatest conundrums were being provided. On a world with continent-sized storms that threw up mountains of dust and debris, life signs were still being detected.

"What do you make of this, Forge Master?" asked Tacitus, standing on the bridge and reviewing the data rolling down the holoscreens.

"It is intriguing," replied Lycurgus. "Any baseline human would be extremely hard put to survive in this environment. Only advanced survival gear, able to be detected by our scanners, would be able to allow them to survive."

"Xenos?" Demarcus postulated, standing nearby, slightly distracted. A humming sound fluttered through his mind, felt as much as heard.

"No, we'd have been alerted to that before," Lycurgus said, half muttering. The Master of the Forge was adjusting the controls on the scanner station cogitators, using his mechadendrites to poke, press, and turn. "I specifically programmed and enabled the scanners to be able to identify various xenos life-signs."

"What about storm interference?" asked Tacitus, either not seeing or ignoring the obvious discomfort that was creasing Demarcus' brow.

"A logical hypothesis, Chief Librarian. But as of right now there appears to be no major interference. I cannot postulate as to why we cannot gain further details than are currently being presented." The Master of the Forge practically growled. Men of logic hardly ever liked things that didn't fit within their normal patterns of thinking and understanding.

"We must go below." They all turned to watch as Demarcus stepped forward and began pressing a few buttons on the sensorium. Within moments an area of the planet was being displayed on the holoscreen. It was one stretch of the planet that seemed to be, for the moment, bare of storms. "In this area...these mountains. I recognize them."

Lycurgus turned his head to the side in a visible sign of curiosity and confusion. Tacitus half-grinned and nodded. "Your vision?"

"Y-Yes...I...I'm sensing something. Like a shadow of a dream. It plays upon the mind." Demarcus leaned upon the cogitator station and seemed to breath deep. "I sense...strands of fate being brought together, tying and fraying."

"Then we must follow the strand that will lead us to our fate," said Tacitus. Tacitus turned to Brother-Admiral Geraldin, who had quietly been watching from his command throne.

"We'll require a Thunderhawk and a squad."

"I'll give you the Penitent's Heart and my First Squad. I'll alert Sergeant Vorhai and have him waiting for you in the hangar," replied Geraldin.

Demarcus turned and bowed his head in thanks. "Thank you, brother."

"If this is as fate wills it, then the Emperor's work need be done," murmured Geraldin. "We'll remain in geosynchronous orbit above, standing by."




~ * ~ * ~ * ~



The Penitent's Heart roared through the atmosphere of the planet, buffeted by the prevailing winds and titanic storms that could be felt even in places where no storm existed for hundreds of kilometers away. Inside the passenger compartment, the Space Marines of Geraldin's 1st Squad sat in their harnesses, checking weaponry and observing whatever rituals they thought best. At the head of the seats, near the cockpit, Demarcus sat alongside Tacitus. The humming sound stayed within his ear, not even the great engines of the Thunderhawk able to overpower it. The crystals of his psychic hood pulsed in time with his heart's beat. Energy pulsed through his veins like electricity along conductive wires, invigorating and worrisome in equal measure.

"I sense it too," Tacitus said.

Demarcus turned, surprised.

"This is a place of significance. Any world that was ever visited by a son of the Emperor would have significance -- and this one perhaps more so, for the fact that Lorgar Aurelian was a psyker in his own right," continued Tacitus.

"My blood feels like fire in my veins. Even the hunger..."

"Do not speak of it!" Tacitus cut him off. "Now is not the time to lose yourself in that dark place, brother. Focus on the mission. You are our guide. If what you told me before is true, then all our fates may hinge upon what happens on the surface."

"I-I will. I will remain." Demarcus leaned back and began running his mind through the Canticles of the Mind.

I am a vessel of the Emperor's blood. *heartbeat* I will feel the hunger of my heritage and be not afraid. *heartbeat* I am a son of Sanguinius and molded by his will. *heartbeat* The darkness will pass through me and only I will remain.

*heart*

*beat*

Demarcus breathed, slow and deep.

I shall know no fear, for the Emperor is with me.


A click over the vox brought Demarcus out of his reverie. It was the pilot, Brother Antigonus. "We're approaching the landing area, as you designated Lord Tacitus."

Tacitus activated his throat vox. "Any signs of danger?"

"If you count an increase in wind strength and the likelihood of one of those cyclonic storms coming -- then yes. Otherwise, the sensors are not picking up any AA-batteries or other signs of immediate danger or opposition."

"Very good then. Set us down."


The Penitent's Heart overflew a series of towering, oblong rock formations that stuck into the air like fingers. They were landing in a wide valley, the ground between the sloping mountainsides was broken and jagged. Rock formations created out of the harsh and powerful wind storms dotted the area, creating strange and interesting works of natural art. The red and white-painted Thunderhawk came to rest on a relatively flat bit of terrain next to a series of such rock fingers. Within moments of it's landing, before it's engines had even turned off, the rear ramp was lowered and ten Space Marines stepped off -- fanning out into a half-moon defensive formation, bolters raised and aimed. The only sound, besides that of the now lowering engines of the Thunderhawk, was a rising and falling whistle created by the wind. Behind them came Demarcus and Tacitus.

The air was dry and cold, a given on a planet surface that was mostly hidden from it's local star by constant dust storms the size of continents. Demarcus, his helmet remaining maglocked to his service belt, breathed deep. His olfactory senses tingled as he was able to identify various chemicals within the air. Nearly Terran-normal in it's make up, except for a strange of what seemed like blood.

"We may be closer to those life signs than expected," said Demarcus, looking about.

"Well, be that as it may, it matters little," replied Tacitus.

He turned. "Sergeant Vorhai?"

One of the surrounding Space Marines turned, his armor resplendent with gold trim and honor markings signifying him as a veteran sergeant of the 9th Company. "Sir?"

"Take up a combat patrol pattern, we'll be moving off soon. Detail a combat squad to remain here with the Thunderhawk."

"Yes, sir." He began speaking over the squad's vox channel and divvying up his men. Tacitus turned to find that Demarcus was holding one of his divination blood stones in the palm of his hand, eyes closed with concentration. The air crackled and the temperature around Demarcus dropped dramatically. Puffs of cold air appeared for a moment, before dissipating in the wind.

The stone began to turn, oscillating upon his outstretched palm. Faster and faster. Then, as suddenly as the twirling crystal had moved, it stopped. It's jagged, longest bit was aimed to their left -- leading further into the mountains and up the valley.

Demarcus opened his eyes. "We go north."

"Aye," Tacitus nodded. "So we shall."

Five members of the tactical squad formed up into a combat patrol, including Sergeant Vorhai. One battle-brother jogged ahead at battle pace, eating up dozens of meters in seconds, to scout ahead; then two brothers, warily watching the flanks and front, followed by the pair of Librarians. Behind them was Sergeant Vorhai, and at the very tail end was the last member of his combat squad. The remaining Space Marines took up positions at the cardinal points around the Thunderhawk, while a single battle brother marched in a circle fifty meters beyond that perimeter. Brother-Pilot Antigonus remained in his cockpit, setting the automated hardpoints of the Thunderhawk's underwing weapons to various kill-zones.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~



The valley narrowed as they marched up it. The wind-swept, smooth walls of the mountainsides came closer. Hillocks and obtuse rock formations barred their way, forcing the Knights of Sanguinius to take a circuitous route. Every kilometer or three, Demarcus would pause to consult his divination crystal, using it as a dowsing rod. Each time it's lengthened, sharp point would point them further north.

Just as the party was reaching a narrow, hundred-meter wide section of the mountain pass that they had entered a kilometer back, Demarcus stopped. Tacitus was about to pose a question when the vox crackled.

"Brother-Sergeant, I have movement ahead of us," the lead Space Marine reported.

"Can you identify?" asked Tacitus, cutting into the channel.

"The dust storm is kicking up, Lord. Humanoid. Non-standard. Likely deviant..." the scout reported.

"You'll need to do better than that, Adrastus," voxed Sergeant Vorhai.

"Apologies, Brother-Sergeant, but the dust is...wait...Throne! Mutants! Deviant life forms -- non-standard humanoid life -- confirmed."

The crack of bolter fire filled the air.

With a motion, Brother-Sergeant Vorhai sent the rest of the combat squad into action. They pounded their way up the mountain pass, around a turn, and found Brother Adrastus standing atop a rock, firing from the hip at a surging mob of deformed, bent-over, gangly humanoids. Their skin was the color of the earth, dark and shades of grey. Long arms, twisted at odd angles, held a variety of basic tools. Stones, pieces of metal, and other detritus were held possessively in claw-like hands. Their bodies held patches of fur-like hair, while heads hung low. Bleak, hungry eyes stared upwards. They wailed in a terrible moan.

"I thought this planet was suppose to be dead?" asked Sergeant Vorhai. He and his other squad members lined up next to Adrastus. Bolters were leveled and opened fire. The wailing increased and the mutants died in droves. Strangely, it took more than a single bolt round to kill them. Tacitus, standing behind the squad members, watched with careful eyes.

"The radiation levels we detected, the storms...it must have...," Tacitus murmured. He turned to say something to Demarcus, only to find his Brother-Librarian wasn't there.

"Hold fire!" ordered Vorhai. The dust storm was rolling down the pass and the mutants were falling back into it.

"We need to go back," said Tacitus. Vorhai turned and also realized that Demarcus had not followed them.

The squad jogged back and found Demarcus facing outcrop of rocks that made looked like a pile of gargantuan pillars, toppled over each other. He turned, his eyes glowing with ethereal light. "Follow me," his voice was disembodied, deeper than normal.

Demarcus stepped up to the fallen rocks and climbed, he slipped down behind them. Vorhai exchanged looks with Tacitus. The other squad members also looked at each other, clearly confused. The sound of a rising wail snapped them back.

"Let's follow. At the very least, we might lose that pack of mutants," said Vorhai.

"Agreed. Quickly now," said Tacitus.

The Knights of Sanguinius followed after their errant brother into the rocks. Tacitus found that there was a path of sorts, hidden by the fallen pillar-like stones. The space was barely big enough for the Space Marines, their armor scraping against the stone as they passed. Lights attached to their armor lit up the path, before it finally opened up to an open air area.

Tacitus found that they had entered a small valley or canyon. Demarcus was marching straight to the end of it with purposeful strides.

"Sir, they're following us," said Adrastus, coming up from the rear.

"They must know this place exists," growled Tacitus. "Bring the entry down."

Vorhai nodded. Without a word he and another squad member took out a couple of krak grenades from their belts. They primed them and tossed them into the passage they'd come through. A mutant appeared around the bend of the path just as the grenades exploded. Rocks fell and cascaded, burying the path and muffling the screaming wail of the mutants.

Above the lip of the mountains, dust began to blot out the sky above. A storm was rolling in. Tacitus turned back to see that Demarcus was already halfway to the end of the valley.

"Come on, Brother-Sergeant, we need to catch up." Dust began to fall into the valley like rain.

By the time Tacitus and the combat squad reached Demarcus, the errant Librarian was standing stock-still before the flat back wall of the valley. They were standing at a dead end.

"Um, sir, I don't mean to question but...," began Vorhai.

"It is here." Demarcus stretched out his hand and the air around them instantly charged with energy. Using his warp-power, Demarcus reached out and telekinetically gripped a door that only he knew was there. For a moment, nothing happened. With with a booming crash, a rectangular door-like slab of stone was wrenched from the wall of the mountain. It fell with a mighty thud upon the ground. The helmet lights of the combat squad bore into the darkness beyond.

"We found it," Tacitus remarked, awed. He knew the power of his brother's visions, but a small part of his mind had still doubted.

"I must go within. Prepare. They are coming." Demarcus marched into the dark.

"Prepare?" queried Adrastus.

"Blood of the Angel!" swore Vorhai.

The brother-sergeant was panning his lights around the area. There, set into the walls of the valley, were numerous cavern mouths. The wind was starting to howl, growing louder by the minute. For all it's surging rage however, the wind could not hide the wail that began to emanate from the collection of cavern and cave mouths all along the walls that they had passed.

"This isn't a normal canyon," remarked Adrastus.

"No," agreed, Tacitus. "It is their home."
Last edited by Khandosia on Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Khandosia » Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:25 am

Planet Aulae | The Lost Valley

Walking into the ancient, carved temple was invigorating to Demarcus. Lit by the lumens attached to his armor and cascading arcs of warp power, the silver-veined rock of the temple was beautiful. The columns that lined the path from the entrance to the altar were as they had been millennia before. Untouched by the wrath of eroding weather outside, the temple remained as pristine as it had been the day that the traitor-Primarch Lorgar had first built it. Pangs of anger caused Demarcus' heart to beat faster, remembering how long and carefully Lorgar had spent in his labors to construct this place. Such a gift...wasted by his later actions. Truly the Emperor erred when he created the XVII Legion Astartes.

Each of the statues that lined the path were domineering, expressive, and awe-inspiring in equal measure. Each primarch worked in detail that only a living being who had laid eyes upon them could know. Beneath each statue was carved a numeral, designating them. Demarcus couldn't help stopping before the 2nd and 11th statues. These primarchs were unknown to Demarcus, but their features were nevertheless just as powerful and inspiring as that of their brethren beside them. It also reminded Demarcus just how old this temple was, that it had been created before those legions were lost. The lost and the purged.

The sound of bolter fire outside the temple echoed to within, causing Demarcus to turn momentarily. He shook himself. How could be so lost in useless thought while his brother's were in danger?

The plinth of 9th Legion was where he paused. He couldn't help himself.

It was indescribable, the pang of loss, desire, and fury that came across Demarcus as he looked up at the exquisitely carved visage of his gene-father: primarch genitor and master of the IX Legion Astartes, called the Angel, Sanguinius. Even in stone, even surrounded by his other nineteen brothers, the charisma and dignity in the stone face of his primarch outshone all others.

Demarcus knelt before his gene-father's statue and offered a prayer.

May my strength not fail. May the gift given me by my father, you, Lord Sanguinius, always guide me. Ave Imperator.

Echoes of bolter fire increased.

Demarcus stood and went deeper into the temple. There, at the end, was the altar of carved marble, silver veins running across it's length and the inscription carved just where he'd watched Lorgar place it within his vision.

Gold filigree still glittered in the harsh light of his lumens.

Brother shall never forsake Brother. When peril shall rise the call shall resound, and the Emperor himself shall answer it.

Inexorably, Demarcus's eyes were drawn upwards to the carved figure behind the altar. The God-Emperor himself, even illuminated by poor light, seemed to shine greater than anything Demarcus had seen before. The strength that was exuded from the statue was indelible, ferocious.

Demarcus laid his bolter and staff to the side. He pulled out his blood-crystals, laying them upon the altar. He pulled out his ceremonial dagger and unhooked his gauntlet from his right hand. With a quick cut across his palm, Demarcus drew blood and squeezed his hand. With mechanical precision, he used that blood to draw the hexagrams of evocation upon the altar. Just as he had when scrying upon the Terra's Blood, the blood-crystals were used to create focal points of carefully directed psykic power. As Demarcus focused inwards and deep, drawing upon the energy that hung behind a veil that few could see past, the temperature around him plunged. Frost built upon his skin and armor, his breath came out in puffs, the moisture of his breath creating small cascading snowflakes. His two hearts beat faster, blood rushing through his veins in a desperate marathon race as energy built throughout his limbs.

Demarcus' vision blurred and turned red as they became nothing but blood covered orbs, a small stream falling like tears down his face. Demarcus gasped as he felt a connection, a force, beyond the veil....reaching....


...reaching...


...desperate...


...fury...


Fury.


Righteous fury.


Demarcus felt himself fall away, seemingly standing behind his own self, a spectator and yet part of something greater.


His breathing was quick, his lungs pumping. His legs felt longer and far more stronger than ever before. He looked down and saw that his armor was golden, exquisitely made by master craftsmen. He gripped a sword of red-steel, blood and fire made real. He felt the passing of air as his wings helped to propel him forward.

He was running through passages aboard a starship.

Adeptus Astartes warriors wearing blackened plate power armor stood before him with weapons bearing. He slew them all, dodging past bursts of bolter fire in a fluid step of steel boots, powered forward by fiber bundles within his armor, his muscles, and his wings. He was too fast for these bothersome worms. These traitors. They were in his way and so they would die. With each swing of his sword heads were decapitated. Blood gushed in torrents as his blade sliced effortlessly through ceramite, flesh, and bone. Bisected from shoulder to hip, crown to groin, or from one hip to another -- they all fell apart before him. Helmets were smashed inwards, his gold-armored gauntlet just as easily stealing away the traitorous life of those who dared to stand between him and his intended target.

He rushed onward, his loyal sons trying their best to keep up. Nothing could make him slow down. He had to reach the throne room. He had to help his Father. He had to put an end to his brother.

He had to kill him.

A great arch doorway appeared before him, guarded by a pair of fearsome Astartes warriors in Terminator armor plate. They leveled their weapons, combi-bolters cycling as their barrels rose. Only three shots rang out across the space between them before the storm fell and sliced through even their great armor.

The doorway was kicked open and he burst through.

He had to kill him.

A great, towering figure in night-black armor stood before him. Brass etchings with arcane and evil sigils decorated the armor. A reddened, all-seeing eye made from precious gemstones stood out upon his breast and other places along the armor. A trophy chain hung from his hip, attached to which were Astartes-sized skulls and a few with helmets still attached. A great direwolf pelt hung across his powerful shoulders, from which spikes sprung decoratively. Red lumens along the neck of his armor shone upon a face that was both familiar and horrifyingly unknown, twisted as it was in hatred and a snarl of superiority.

He had to kill his brother.

He had to kill Horus.

The arch traitor himself smiled, lifting his great power maul to rest upon his shoulder and extending his taloned fist in a gesture of welcome. He spoke in a tone of insidious delight, as if seeing Demarcus before him was both expected and happy.

"Sanguinius," smiled Horus in acknowledgement.

"How good of you to come."
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"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:06 am

The Hidden Temple of the Lost Valley
Within the vision of the Red Thirst


Sanguinius moved forward with lightning speed, his sterling white wings, stained with the blood of traitors, propelling him forward like a bolt round. The ferocity of his charge seemed to take Horus by momentary surprise. The arch-traitor barely had time to swing his maul downwards and deflect the arc of Sanguinius' sword blow on the haft of his gigantic power maul, Worldbreaker. The Angel's sword swung again, superlative super-human muscles tensing and flexing, bringing the blade to crash against the defenses brought forth by Horus. The onslaught was the greatest the Red Angel had ever given since facing Ka'Bandha the Bloodthirster. Each time he swung his blade a thought would hammer against his psyche. A question. One that had orbited his thoughts like a bleeding, ominous star of misfortune. It had been there since he first discovered the perfidy of his once-beloved brother. Why?

Sanguinius roared. "WHY!?

CLANG!

"WHY!?"

CA-CHUNK-CLANG!

"WHY, HORUS!?"

With a spitting arc of lightning, the arch-traitor caught the Angel's bade in the palm of his power claw. The smell of ozone emanated as the two force fields of the opposing weapons collided and slid off one another, a constant state of friction that repelled the other.

"Ten years and this far brother, and that is the only thing you ask?" Horus smiled again, almost sadly. "I expected better."

Horus exerted his strength; his true, warp-enhanced strength. He pushed Sanguinius back, sword deflected upwards, and swung Worldbreaker single-handed. Sanguinius was surprised, but managed to back-step. He was unable to completely dodge the blow, but instead rode the blow and allowing it to help further propel his momentum backwards. His armor crumpled slightly where the blow impacted. Like a belfry bell being rung, Sanguinius felt his whole body wracked by undulating vibrations.

He gritted his teeth, angered.

"Our Father gave you everything," said Sanguinius. "You had His love and respect. You had the love of your brothers."

"Everything?" Horus frowned as if genuinely confused. He rushed forwards, speed increasing dramatically. With a quick realization Sanguinius saw that Horus was just as fast as he.

Worldbreaker rushed through the air. Sanguinius ducked beneath it's path, only to bring up his sword to deflect the bisecting blow of the power claw that swept upwards. Blows flew backwards and forwards. Feints, deflections, dodges - always fast, always ferocious. One misstep would end the other. One mistake would be their last.

"The False-Emperor lied to us, Sanguinius," declared Horus, stepping back for a moment.

He seemed at ease, balancing on the balls of his feet. Sanguinius was breathing hard.

"He told us that gods never existed, when in fact he sought to become one himself," continued Horus, lecturing as if to a simpleton. "He created his 'Council of Terra' to usurp the rightful place and power of his sons. Everything he did was a sham. The penultimate actor, playing us all for fools."

Sanguinius lunged and struck hard. Worldbreaker deflected the blow and the talon swept forward in reply, forcing Sanguinius back again.

"You have become corrupted," replied Sanguinius. "Father did not seek to lie to us, but shelter all Humanity from the beings within the warp."

"Ah, Sanguinius," Horus smiled laconically, "You always seek to see the best in others. Even if there is nothing there but a facade."

Horus rushed forward, talon extended forward and at Sanguinius' neck. The Angel's sword swept up and deflected the blow. He spun on his heel, ducking beneath the follow-up by Worldbreaker. He swung up in a glittering arc, aiming for Horus' armpit - only for his blow to be caught on the multiple blades of the re-descending talon.

Unnoticed by either a battle between their varied sons roared around them. Blood Angels rushed into the room, clashing with the black-armored praetorians of Horus. Bolters roared, melee ensued. Blood spilled in equal measure.

The pair of primarchs became a blur, blows falling upon each other like a torrential cascade of rain. The sound of their war-making was indescribable. No two such luminous beings had ever fought before - even among their brothers. The grace of Fulgrim was a pale shadow to the movement of Sanguinius. The strength and endurance of Horus was greater than any that Perturabo could have mustered. In this moment, both ascended to a higher plain than any had before them.

Horus, however, had risen higher.

Worldbreaker struck Sanguinius upon his pauldron, a solid blow. Sinew stretched and broke. Bones flexed and snapped. Pain swept through Sanguinius as he was spun involuntarily around, thrown to the ground.

"You were always the best of us, Sanguinius," said Horus, softly. He seemed detached as he stepped foward, Worldbreaker rising high. "Our father made you in a lost image, a living angel. I wonder why?"

Sanguinius snapped upwards, exerting his last reserves of strength. He dipped deep down, in that region of his soul where he knew instinctually lay his Flaw. The flaw that had ravaged his men upon Signus Prime, known to IXth Legion as the 'Red Thirst'. Blinding fury unlike anything Sanguinius had ever felt swept through his veins, poisonous in its potency.

His sword moved faster than thought, moving past the guard of Horus' talon, faster than Worldbreaker could descend. The blade pierced armored ceramite, black carapace, skin, meat, and bone. For a moment the two were stuck in a frozen tableau: Sanguinius crouched with arms extended, sword sticking into Horus' chest; Horus with Worldbreaker raised high and his talon poised, looking down in slight confusion.

Sanguinius smiled.

Worldbreaker fell.

His wings broke and his body was pierced in multiple areas. A flurry of blows fell upon him and his golden-armored body fell to the ground before Horus. His sword clattered to the ground next to him as Horus pulled it out of himself, seemingly unfazed by the blow. A small bit of black blood dripped from the puncture in his armored chest.

In that last moment, as his consciousness began to fade, Sanguinius' perception split.

Demarcus felt the pain of his primarch as they both seemed to exist together, alongside one another, in a fractured reality. Death was coming for them both. They could feel it.

Before the abyss claimed them however, a shining beacon of golden light appeared.

The Emperor of Mankind entered the room, resplendent in his golden armor and holding forth his flaming sword. The golden figures of the Adeptus Custodes swept around Him, reinforcing those Blood Angels that were fighting all the harder against Horus' minions. The Emperor's eyes, orbs glowing with golden light, pierced into Sanguinius and time seemed to freeze.

Demarcus felt a voice.

+You have sacrificed much, son of my son, descendant of the Angel. You have traveled far and beyond any before you.+

"My God-Emperor," Demarcus tried to speak.

+You have given yourself in sacrifice, much as your gene-sire once did. Truly great is the strength of my sons and their sons. Will you accept this? Will you become the bridge?+

An image filled Demarcus' mind. He saw his real body, back within the forgotten temple, cascading red lightning suffusing his being as his arms were raised as if trying to keep the ceiling from collapsing. Above the altar before him was a small black, circular portal that was slowly - slowly - opening; fluctuating between reality and nonexistence. On an instinctual level Demarcus realized that without his aid the portal would not be able to open fully. There needed to be a conduit. A rope tied and tethered at either end between two points, connected by space and time via the warp.

It required sacrifice.

The eye of the God-Emperor bored into him. Demarcus smiled. How could I do anything else but accept?

+Thank you, my son. I will remember your sacrifice, as will my other son.+

The image of Horus and the Emperor faded. Demarcus no longer felt a connection to his primarch, but instead found his psyche re-focused upon the lost temple. Warp energy and power unlike any he had ever felt coursed through him, as if he were a lightning rod. A blinding light filled his mind's eye and all else fell away. He perceived the power in him and around him as a great sea, it's currents crashing and flowing like unstoppable tides.

Without hesitation, Demarcus dived into the maelstrom.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:43 pm

Planet Aulae | The Lost Valley


Brother Ianos was the first to fall.

The combat squad gathered in a sparse, enclosed crescent bowing outwards from the doorway that Brother-Librarian Demarcus had disappeared into. Bolters chattered and roared, each warrior taking his careful aim and seeking to bring down the oncoming mutants with precise bolter fire. The mutants were horrendous, ugly creatures. Their mutations were each more revolting than the last, engorged forms riven far beyond anything that could be recognized as being even closely humanoid. Lamprey-like mouths bearing circular rows of fangs gaped and writhed with involuntary twitches. Clawed arms that were easily the same size or larger than an Astartes rose and reached for them.

Bolt rounds dug out large craters in their flesh, blood fountaining from each internal explosion as the mass reactive bolts did their work. However, where a normal human or xenos would be felled by a single explosive bolt, these creatures did not go down so easily. Each of the Knights of Sanguinius was furious at the horrid discovery that most required at least two or three bolts to put down.

"Maintain fire discipline!" roared Brother-Sergeant Vorhai as he lifted his bolt pistol up and sent another round into the head of a charging creature. "Make every round count."

Two of the creatures fell from above them, falling upon the right most space marine. Brother Ianos roared in fury as they toppled him, their weight too much even for his enhanced strength to bear. He was quickly swamped by others. Claws pitted and glanced off armor, but eventually found their way to the seals between armor plates. A gurgle came over the squad vox as one slid into Ianos' throat.

Red lightning flowed outward and caught the mutants that were ripping into Ianos. Tacitus stepped forward bearing his skull-topped force stave with one hand while the other was outstretched. The chief librarian unleashed the fury of his power and burned all of the violating mutants to ash.

It was too late for Brother Ianos, however.

He was unmoving and the vital signs that were displayed in Brother-Sergeant Vorhai's helmet display changed from green to amber. Vorhai cursed in a guttural tongue that was known to anyone that had been born from the hive worlds of Khandosia.

"Calm your humors, Brother-Sergeant," said Tacitus over a closed vox-link. "Channel your anger. Use it to crush our enemies."

Vorhai felt his cheeks redden at the admonishment. He was thankful that the chief librarian had spoken over a closed link, but no less embarrassed by his outburst.

"Close ranks!" ordered Vorhai.

The other members of his combat squad closed the line of the crescent tighter, taking measured steps backwards as they fired. Kallias took a step. "Reloading!"

Nerus, his neighbor, momentarily turned and fired a burst of rounds at another trio of mutants. The couple of seconds was all that was required before Kallias had his bolter reloaded and back up.

"Reloading!" called Nestor. "Three clips left."

The mutant tide kept coming. Whereas before the sound of the planet's harsh wind had predominated in their ears, it was now replaced by the high-pitched wailing screams of the damned. The mutants were a menagerie of corruption and their mutated forms enabled them a hardiness, and a fearlessness, that few of the Astartes could have expected.

"Can you reach the thunderhawk, Brother-Sergeant?" asked Tacitus.

"No, lord," replied Vorhai as he reloaded. "Atmospherics must be disrupting things."

Tacitus used his anger to fuel his power, but in a controlled fashion. Using the powers of the warp was not easy -- not if you wanted to survive the experience -- and Tacitus had not survived into his third century of service by being careless. It's always about control.

A blast of red-limned lightning exploded outwards. It's bolts reached and arced between mutants, moving among them like a reaper's scythe. Mutant flesh that was touched by the lightning burned black upon contact and began to decay into ash seconds thereafter. Dozens died, their wails silenced mid-stride, as the warp lightning hit them.

"I'm down to my last clip of ammunition, Brother-Sergeant," announced Brother Nerus.

"Same," echoed Nestor and Kallias in unison.

"Throne! This just gets better and better," muttered Vorhai.

"It could be worse, Brother-Sergeant," said Kallias.

"How so, Brother?" asked Tacitus, cutting in.

"It could be raining."

The laconic humor broke the tension slightly and all the members of the combat squad chuckled, even Brother-Sergeant Vorhai. Tacitus made a mental note to reward Brother Kallias, somehow, once they returned to Sanguinary.

"On my order, tighten the line and draw blades," ordered Brother-Sergeant Vorhai.

The last bolt rounds from the Knights of Sanguinius were fired. A few more of the mutants fell, the bodies of the dead piling waist-high. More were coming over the barrier of dead flesh.


The Hidden Temple


There were no words in the tongues of mankind or xenos, living or dead, that could describe the pain that suffused every atom of Demarcus' being. It was almost as if he were walking naked through the Immaterium itself. There was an emptiness around him and yet also a sense of cluttered space. Reality was not there, except at the bare end of perception.

A glowing ball of light was within the void before Demarcus. It pulsed and shone brightly, drawing him forward. The closer he went, the more he felt the tug of a line pulling him back. As he drew to within an arm's breadth of the light he realized that the line attached to where he had come from was in fact made of from the stuff of his very soul.

The realization brought more tangible knowledge to his senses. He felt gnawing, hostile entities begin to gather around him.

+There is little time. Take it.+

Demarcus hesitated. It was involuntary, a momentary weakness. The hunger-driven entities around him swarmed all the greater, closer.

It was his flaw that drove him onward: the dark, inner Blackness that sat within the soul of every living son of Sanguinius.

+Now.+

The imperative was absolute and Demarcus grasped the light.



The Lost Valley


Brother Kallias swung his chainsword double-handed. The weapon's internal engine roared in protest as the attached adamantine teeth sliced into the mutated flesh and hide of the monsterous beast before the space marine. Driven by it's internal engine and the strength of it's wielder, the chainsword cut through the descending limb of a ravenous mutant. Blackened, corrupt blood fountained and the creature squealed in pain. Before it could react further, Kallias drove the head of the blade deep into the mutant's chest. The teeth helped dig the blade deep, severing veins and cutting bones with mechanical abandon.

"Behind you, Brother!" shouted Nerus. Kallias looked up in time to see a fist the size of his helmet come crashing down. The eye lens of his helmet cracked and he momentarily felt dizzy. His neck muscles were strained and whiplash threatened them. Kallias was forced to one knee.

Nerus lunged forward and drove a gladius into the head of the mutant that raised it's fist to once again strike down at Kallias. It seemed confused, not realizing that it was dead. It swatted Nerus away before falling backwards, finally succumbing.

Warp-lightning drove the mutants back again, momentarily, and Nerus helped Kallias back to his feet.

"Thank you, Brother," said Kallias. "I'll not forget it."

Nerus merely nodded and stepped back to his position.

The semi-circle of Astartes was now much tighter, barely a meter between each of the Knights. Tacitus was within the formation, just beyond the doorway of the temple that Demarcus had entered, and on one knee. The crystals of his psychic hood were black, burnt out from overuse. Each time he drew upon the warp was always more difficult than the last. The strain was tremendous.

"They're forming up again," said Brother Nestor, as if commenting on inclement weather.

"Brother-Librarian," Vorhai turned. "You won't be able to do that again, will you?"

Tacitus' breath came out in heaves. It coiled into small puffs of cloud as the temperature dropped. Had it been this cold when we first made planet fall? he thought. Tacitus shook his head and rose to his feet. He set his power stave to the side and drew his own power sword.

"No, Sergeant," replied Tacitus. "I will not."

A keening wail cascaded across the valley. All of the space marines' eyes were drawn outward to the gathering mutants. A hulking beast appeared, pushing and crushing it's lesser brethren that were too slow to get out of the way. It was hunched over like a primate of ancient Terra, forearms easily the size of a Space Marine. A second loud, sonorous wail erupted from it's fanged maw. It's gray flesh rippled as it tensed its muscles, readying to charge.

Sergeant Vorhai raised his chainsword. "How does a Knight of Sanguinius fight?" he called.

The catechism martial of the chapter. The words were learned by every supplicant that wished to join the chapter. The other members of his squad seemed to grow taller as they heard and responded.

"As hot as the stars and as swift as the bolts of his bolter!" they cried back in unison.

The mutant chieftain growled. More of its lessers gathered about it, stretching from valley wall to valley wall.

"What will it mean to the galaxy when we are dead?" Vorhai continued.

"It will mean that the galaxy continues, for without every drop of Astartes blood it would crumble and fall."

Tacitus joined his voice to that of the squad members. It echoed ever so slightly in the valley.

"What do our enemies see when they look upon the Astartes?"

"They see their gods and heroes of their corrupted myths, gathered before them and heralding the end of their world."

The mutant leader roared and bashed it's fists into it's chest. The line of lesser ones charged.

"For Sanguinius and the Emperor!" roared the Astartes.

A thunderbolt smashed into the valley.

The line of charging mutants faltered and halted. They looked about in confusion. The wind died and a strange silence fell upon all gathered within the valley. Even the mutant chieftain was silent, looking about with seeming trepidation.

It unleashed a keening wail, as if in protest to the event.

A roar answered.

It was a sound that had not been heard by the ears of men or alien alike in more than ten millennia. It was the roar of a creature that had once stood at the apex of the animal kingdom upon a death world, in another galaxy, in another reality. It was a roar that chilled enemies to the bone and made even the hearts of Astartes pumped furiously in rising tension; the closest they might ever be to truly experiencing fear.

A figure appeared from behind Tacitus and the other gathered Knights of Sanguinius. Taller than an Astartes as much as an Astartes towered over a man, the figure was resplendent in golden armor. Golden light played upon his pale skin and golden hair. A power claw of resplendent make rose and a sword as tall as an Astartes was leveled at the mutant chieftain. This figure, this sublime being, opened his mouth and let loose once more the shattering roar of the lost and forgotten Calibanite Lion.

The mutants stepped back.

Lion El'Jonson looked down at the space marines around him, taking in their battered yet unbroken forms.

"Follow me, sons of my brother," he said.

Then he charged.

The Knights of Sanguinius seemed to swell in size, greater and more powerful for being within the presence of this preeminent being. Each swing of a blade was swifter, each punch harder. They were greater than themselves within the presence of this being. With a cry of furious joy, they followed the golden warrior. They were joined by a second, lesser golden warrior that outpaced all but the mighty warrior leading them. Another Astartes, wearing an older mark of power armor plate, joined them in their charge wielding bolt and plasma pistols as if they were extensions of his arms.

The mutants fell over themselves. In their deepest, animalistic selves, they felt the first shattering tremors of the emotion most had never felt before except when in the presence of the greater beasts - fear. It overrode even their fear of the chieftain, who itself was faltering in it's warlike stance.

Lion El'Jonson went straight for the largest one. The chieftain was still taller than he, and yet the primarch's presence diminished the beast's stature. The creature brought it's arms up defensively, trying to ward itself.

The lightning claw, known as the Aetos Dios, vibrated as it's disruption field helped the blades to slice through the creature's arm. It sliced clean through, with hardly even a moment's resistence. The beast roared and rose up on it's hind legs.

The Lion kicked out and drove his golden foot deep into the gut of the creature, pushing it back and off balance. It fell on it's arse and began to try and sweep him away with it's good arm. The Lion grinned, thrilled and filled by the fire of combat. He jumped upon the creature, driving it backwards and onto the ground, and brought the Lion Sword high.

"Die!" roared the Lion, simply.

He plunged the Lion Sword down and into the heart of the beast. Past scales, muscle, and bone the tip was driven deeper until it pierced the beating morass. The creature whimpered in disbelieving pain before being silenced by a twist of the blade that sat within it's heart.

All around this combat the melee was ongoing. The Knights of Sanguinius moved with the efficient, yet graceful, fury with which Lion El'Jonson was familiar with among the sons of Sanguinius. Constantine Valdor was a blur of death as he wove a scarlet path through the mutants, his Guardian Spear decapitating with one swing before being redirected and firing a bolt from it's underslung attached bolter the next. And Cypher fought and moved as only a warrior that had fought unceasing for ten thousand years could.

The mutants died in their hundreds. With the death of their leader, their will to fight was broken. After a short time thereafter, as the Astartes and the Primarch slaughtered them in droves, they finally began to run away. The valley was then empty of all by the Imperium's finest.


* * * * * * *



One of the warriors, a psyker librarian by his armor heraldry, stepped forward and bowed to El'Jonson.

"My Lord," he said, "I am Chief Librarian Tacitus of the Knights of Sanguinius Chapter. You..." he hesitated, overwhelmed by the presence before him, "You are...a primarch."

The simple statement was enough to draw a chuckle from the Lion. Though he had always been of a taciturn nature, a part of him felt that that would no longer be warranted. His was a heavy burden and he couldn't rightly bear it alone.

"I am Lion El'Jonson, Primarch of the First Legiones Astartes, the Dark Angels, and a loyal son of the Emperor of Mankind," declared El'Jonson.

Each of the Knights fell to one knee, heads bowed in awe and supplication.

"I am come to you now, in your hour of need at the behest of the Emperor himself."

The librarian raised his head, managing to focus on the Lion's knee. "My Lord Lion, I-I am overjoyed. I had been told by my companion that we were meant to come here for a special purpose. But we...we had no idea..."

As if the statement awakened a memory, the chief librarian stood and looked about.

"My Lord, there was another -- my companion, a librarian, Codicier Demarcus. He was the one who entered--."

The chief librarian was cut short as Cypher came forwards, bearing in his arms an unmoving corpse of a space marine. Cypher laid it gently at the feet of the Chief Librarian.

"I found him within the temple."

Every inch of the man's armor was burnt black. The crystals that had been set within the psychic hood were gone, perhaps dissolved or exploded. Tacitus leaned down and forcefully removed the helm, it's seal practically welded shut. The man's flesh was half gone, burnt and cooked. His eye sockets were emptied and bloody, boiled away by the intense power that had suffused him. Looking upon the corpse, El'Jonson knew that even the Astartes' gene-seed would not be recoverable.

"When all others fail, we shall not," said Tacitus softly. El'Jonson realized he was quoting something.

The other Knights around him spoke up in unison.

"For we are the Sacrifice, made flesh."

The chief librarian looked up into El'Jonson's face and he could see the restrained sorrow upon his features. He smiled at the primarch.

"I know that Demarcus would have traded a thousand lives to have helped to bring you here. We shall celebrate his passing and honor his deeds when we return to our chapter fortress monastery."

"I would be honored if permitted to join you," said El'Jonson. He did not know these Knights of Sanguinius yet, but if they were the only Astartes within the broken off piece of the Imperium of Man, then he would need to quickly learn more about them.

"I believe that would please all of us," said Tacitus with a wry grin.


* * * * * * *



The thunderhawk had finally been reached and landed again within the lost valley. The members of Brother-Sergeant Vorhai's squad carried the dead with them inside. The trio of new arrivals were treated with utmost respect and honor. When the thunderhawk reached the Terra's Blood, ship-captain, Brother-Admiral Geraldin, had been waiting with every astartes aboard. They had all bowed and raised a shout of joy at the arrival of the First Primarch. The human crew were over awed and more than a few of them had to report to the strike cruiser's sick bay during their journey, having caught a glimpse of the golden armored figure of legend.

The Terra's Blood made all speed for the chapter homeworld of Sanguinary. It's news and happy tidings would send a cascading wave of cheer throughout the sector.

The Lion had returned.
Last edited by Khandosia on Wed Dec 01, 2021 3:30 am, edited 3 times in total.
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"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Sun Apr 28, 2019 9:48 am

Terra's Blood Strike Cruiser | En Route to Sanguinary


Lion El'Jonson sat alone in the officer's quarters of the Terra's Blood. It was decorated in slight bits of gilt, gold encased teardrops of crimson with a winged sword bisecting them from above covered the walls and columns. A fresco of his brother, Sanguinius, was upon the far wall opposite the door. It was well wrought, depicting the Angel triumphant upon the steps before the Eternity Gate, a bloody sword held high over the fallen corpse of a daemon. One could not dismiss the beads of ruby blood that lay upon the Angel's gold armor and white wings, however. Beneath the image was the encapsulated creed of the Knights of Sanguinius, and perhaps all of his brother's surviving sons: "When all others fail, we shall not. For we are the Sacrifice, made flesh."

"It is rather over dramatic," said a deep voice edged by the timbre of ages.

He'd been so occupied by his wandering mind that he'd not acknowledged hearing the door open. The Lion turned to meet the steely, unflinching eyes of the Captain-General of the Custodian Guard. Constantine Valdor's eyes were unwavering as they sought the depths of the Lion's soul. Seeking, evaluating, judging.

"But then," continued Valdor, his armor softly humming as he moved to stand nearer, "That moment of the Siege was without equal. I dare not imagine what would have happened, had Sanguinius not been present at the Eternity Gate."

The words brought a murmur of shame into the Lion's thoughts. His beloved, sainted brother had been on Terra at the most desperate time of need that their Father had needed him. The question must have been in Valdor's mind from the moment he had once more stepped into the First Primarch's presence. The question that moved like a wraith within the shadows of the Lion's mind, evading any serious consideration.

If Sanguinius was there, where then were you? Where was the Lion? Where was the First when He needed him?

"Sanguinius was always...the best of us," said the Lion, quietly. He spoke softly, as if speaking aloud in self-contemplation; tasting the words before speaking them. "True, we all had our gifts -- and most believed that Horus was our better, before he turned traitor -- but there was always something about Sanguinius. Perhaps it was because he encapsulated the best qualities of what it meant to be a primarch."

Valdor grunted. "I can only surmise what the Emperor, beloved by all, was thinking when he wrought you and your brothers' natures. However, it was toward a plan. The Great Crusade and...other projects."

The Lion raised an eyebrow at that. Even after all the time he had spent with his Father before setting out to lead the First Legion, time spent on Terra learning about the new era that was being forged, his own inner nature had not been probed nor questioned. He had always felt sure of himself, stalwart in the self-assurance that his superiority gave him. But now? Now there was a small canker of doubt in his center. Part of him wanted to excise it, destroy it completely. But the more rational side, strangely, did not.

The doubt that he had within him had been placed there by the Emperor. Not doubt in his mission, purpose, nor his place. No, it was much simpler.

It was doubt of his mind's eye, of his self perception. Doubt toward the shadows which he had for so long occupied in comfort. The shade of carnivorous trees where monsters dwelt, waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting prey. The darkness that was all that filled his very first memories.

"I have dwelt there long enough," muttered the Lion, his eyes unfocused. He suddenly realized what he had said and refocused on the Custodian. Valdor had his head slightly cocked to one side, eyes mellowed slightly, observant and vigilant as ever however. "I mean...the time for when I allowed my nature to rule me, to color my actions, is over."

Valdor nodded in agreement. Had that been the ghost of a satisfied smirk? The Lion wasn't sure, but Valdor seemed content in it.

"I've been reviewing these Knights of Sanguinius," said Valdor, changing the subject. He went over to a shelf where several goblets stood beside a large ewer. He poured a generous cup of amasec, the scent strong in the Lion's enhanced nostrils. The thought almost made El'Jonson laugh, his actions mimicking the one brother he'd always been most frustrated with. What am I? Russ? Ha!

"What have you learned?"

"They are worthy successors to their gene-sire." Valdor took a long pull from his cup. He nodded appreciatively. "The wine is worthy of Terra. Almost."

El'Jonson held up the dataslate that he had been using before falling into deep thought and then been disturbed by Valdor's entry. "I've been studying their chapter history and lore. I am still furious at the idea that Guilliman had had the gall to dare break up the legions. I would have sided with Rogal and even...even with that dog, Russ!"

"Times had changed. Change was required. Changes were made," Valdor said, simply. "You're roughly ten thousand years well past that argument."

"It still grates," growled El'Jonson. He had trouble accepting the idea that his brother, worthy as he was, had acted as he had. Perhaps the sin of 'Imperium Secundus' had not stained his soul too deeply.

"It might amuse you to know that as honored as your legion's successor chapter of Space Marines is, they are just as equally distrusted by most. Your secrets delved deep, Lion El'Jonson."

"That was our nature - my nature," said El'Jonson, simply. He stood up and walked to pour himself a glass of wine. He still wore the Emperor's Armor, though he had detached the lightning claw and gauntlet. His pale skinned hands looked paler still as they grasped the gold of the wine ewer. "In the interceding years, I don't imagine it became less so for my sons. Not as they seek to hunt down the...Fallen."

"But you don't entirely disagree with your brother's work." It wasn't a question and El'Jonson fought down the instinct to disagree when in truth he felt the opposite. He remembered everything of the past and how well his brother Guilliman was in organization and administration. The dataslate he had been reading had included a copy of Guilliman's "Codex Astartes" and over all he found it adequate.

"No, I don't," stated El'Jonson. "It could have been improved a bit, in some areas, though."

"These Knights of Sanguinius do not follow the Codex Astartes, however," Valdor said. "Not rigidly. Their disposition is three times what it, technically, should be."

"Considering the circumstances that they found themselves in -- trapped in a warp storm for six millennia, cut-off and alone -- I do not blame them." El'Jonson sat back upon the reinforced couch. It still groaned under his weight. It had been made for Astartes and not a primarch after all.

"I will be reviewing their records in greater detail when we reach their fortress monastery," declared Valdor. "As well as that of all Imperial Commanders, from local districts up to the planetary governors -- all the way to the Sector governance level."

"I expect you will deal swiftly with any who are found wanting." The Lion drank almost the entire cup in a single gulp, the cup only slightly absurd in his enlarged hand. "But do spare the Sector Governor. From what records I've read thus far, that family - in coordination with the Martian tech priests and the Knights of Sanguinius - have been all that kept the sector from sliding into anarchy and destruction during it's isolation."

"I'll be gentle," said Valdor, promising nothing of the sort.



Sanguinary | Homeworld of the Knights of Sangunius Chapter


The world of Sanguinary was a verdant one, it's two continents covered in swathes of green grass seas, broken up by rigid chains of mountains that divided the various regions. There were three relatively small hive cities upon the world, each far more spread out and less congested than one would expect from a world of the Imperium. The Lion remembered the sweltering hive stacks of Terra, the ancient and benighted cities of old Albia or of the Ural enclaves of the Terawatt Clans. By comparison, the cities of Sanguinary were a dream. Pict captures of them flooded through the data slate that El'Jonson had clasped in his hand.

He saw towers of silver, gold, and glass. Green spaces interrupted between buildings, meshing with a rather pleasing aesthetic that did not clash for all that mankind's indelible mark had been laid upon the landscape. It anything the cities had been built to suit the landscape than the reverse. Then there was the great peak that sat equidistant between the three hive cities, centered near the only land passage that connected the planet's two continents, Mount Raldoron. The name immediately sparked a memory for El'Jonson. After all, he'd met his brother Sanguinius' First Captain and equerry on many occasions.

The mountain was tall, though not nearly as tall as Russ' Fang, back on old Fenris. It did do justice to itself, though, towering at nearly twelve thousand meters. Once it had been connected to other peaks, the highest amid a chain of peaks. These had all been stripped away by the genius of Mankind's technology. Mount Raldoron stood alone, the fortress monastery for the Knights of Sanguinius.

There was only one entry into the mountain fastness, a great gorge that sprung up between two arms of the mountain. A single road, bare of vegetation, led into the valley-gorge toward the shining white-marble walls of the fortress. According to Master Librarian Demarcus they were called 'The Angel's Shield' and spread across the entirety of the gorge: three walls, the next higher than the one before it. The outer curtain wall spread five kilometers in length in a concave design, allowing defenders along the wall to mass firepower against any would-be besiegers.

The engines of the Stormird that they flew in roared loudly and cleanly, a pitch to it's engines that El'Jonson had only ever heard in the most well kept and designed engines. It was things like this, small but noticeable things that betrayed an easy supremacy over technology. The stormbird alone had given the Lion a mental pause. In his memories he recalled how Forge Worlds within the Martian dominion had chosen to discontinue production of them due to the complexity and resources required to produce them. There were noticeable improvements on this pattern's design template over that of the ones El'Jonson remembered using while leading the First Legion.

The landing fields were within the bounds of the third wall. Wide and covered by craft of all types, it was occupied by a flurry of activity -- like a hive of ants that had been disturbed and it's defenders swarming out to fight. In this case there are quite a few red ants, El'Jonson thought. Mortal soldiery, men and women who served in the Sanguinary Planetary Defense Forces were moving about in red uniforms of fine silk and fibers. They reminded the Lion of the uniforms once worn by the Spire Guard of Prospero.

He'd been surprised to learn that the Knights of Sanguinius worked so closely with the planet's PDF, but since the planet was under the control of the chapter -- and therefore exempt from normal Imperial tithes -- it made a sort of sense. They served at the will of the Chapter Master and no other.

The stormbird landed on the field, it's thrusters bringing it down smoothly. As the ramp lowered, El'Jonson got his first taste of Sanguinary's air. It was crisp and clean, cold with the faint taste of rock and stone. The first to leave the stormbird ramp was Master Librarian Tacitus, along with the surviving members of Squad Vorhai of the 9th Battle Company. In their wake came the cloaked and cowled form of Cypher, beside whom strode the taller, golden form of Constatine Valdor. After a few moments Lion El'Jonson stepped out alone.

Wind blew over the field in a whisper, barely fluttering the banners of the space marines that stood at attention in orderly rows, ranks, and blocks. By just a sweep of his gaze the Lion knew that over two thousand and five hundred Astartes were standing at attention, waiting for him. Beyond them were thousands of mortal soldiers in similarly well disciplined ranks. As he appeared from under the stormbird's rear exhaust, a trumpet sounded in the valley-gorge. The sound was picked up further as more trumpets rose up. A clarion call that sounded in the depths of the mountain and reverberated back with a clamor of thousands.

Thousands of steel-tipped boots smashed the landing field pavement together in unison. As one voice the mortal soldiery cried out, many in near rapture at the sight of the primarch.

"All hail! Imperium victrix! Ave Imperator! All hail! All hail!"

A small group of Astartes approached down the center of the formations. They were clad in unusual power armor, far more indomitable looking and refined than the older Mark IV plate that Cypher wore. Mark VII Aquila plate thought the Lion, approving of the design. Their leader's armor was clad in a dark crimson red that was so covered in gold filigree that it nearly hid the darker, non-metallic color. His artificer plate was a relic of ancient pedigree. The figure was tall for an Astartes, coming up in height equal to Valdor and nearly to the Lion's chin. These men, these chapter officers, all fell to one knee and bowed their heads to El'Jonson.

"Welcome to Sanguinary, my Lord," said the leader, his voice sonorous and compelling. "I am Chapter Master Leonidas Mercado of the Knight of Sanguinius."

"Well met, Chapter Master Mercado," replied El'Jonson. He raised his eyes and looked about at the serried ranks of red, gold, and black armored Astartes warriors."You and your brother knights bring honor to the name of my brother, Sanguinius." If it were possible, the statuesque Astartes seemed to grow even taller and stand prouder.

"Please, follow me into the fortress. There is much to discuss," said Mercado. He turned and led the procession of officers like an honor guard before the Lion.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Thu Oct 22, 2020 10:38 am

Knights of Sanguinius Chapter Fortress Monastery | Chapter Homeworld, Sanguinary


The chamber was a large one, sitting above a series of long halls where grand feasts could be held. The Lion had read much of the information within the data archives that had been present on the strike cruiser Terra's Blood. The Knights of Sanguinius held many rites that involved ceremonial feasting, where the deeds of their forebearers were told and the heroes of their chapter honored before all. The Rite of Sanguination was one that he did not entirely approve of, but then there were traditions and rites within his own legion that would have disturbed or gained disapproval from others.

Former legion, the Lion reminded himself. The past is the past.

A grand vista awaited the onlooker to the southern edge of the room, as a large armorcrys window allowed one to look over the fortress as a whole. It was a bird's eye view and one from which the Lion could see even down to the furthest entrance to the valley gorge that contained the fortress monastery. He watched as two Imperial Knights, those miniature titans of war, stride powerfully across the inner curtain wall on patrol, their household banners proclaiming their allegiances to both the Knights of Sanguinius as well as their feudal lords.

"You must have many questions, my Lord Lion," came the voice of Chapter Master Mercado. "Please ask and I, and my senior counselors, shall render what we can."

The Lion turned.

In the heart of the room was a great round table, it's surface divided into thirty-one different slices. The dividing line was forged from gold-enameled adamantium, and carved into that metal were the names of every captain and chapter master that had ever been within the chapter. The table itself had thirty-one chairs surrounding it at the head of each piece -- thirty battle company captains and their one Chapter Master. It reminded the Lion, faintly, of the Order back on beloved Caliban. We were the original Knights, and always shall be.

"Why did you expand your strength beyond that allotted within the Codex Astartes, so wisely written by my brother Guilliman?" he asked. His voice was quiet, sent at a level audible only to the post-human physiology of an Adeptus Astartes warrior; a whisper, from a towering, leonine avatar of war.

"Our chapter was nearly extinguished -- annihilated -- shortly after the sector was plunged into the warp storm that kept it locked away for millennia. Demonic incursions and an Ork Waaagh, as well as a dozen different planetary uprisings, came close to breaking us. At the beginning of the, shall we say, event...our numbers had stood at roughly seven hundred Knights. We had suffered losses previously in persecuting a heretical uprising in a neighboring sub-sector and after sending reinforcements to help in defending against another Black Crusade.

"Then-Chapter Master Dios Vespario made the decision to increase the number of Knight battle companies, along with the help from the Adeptus Mechanicus' Divisio Biologis. This was agreed in return for the revelation we made to the Adepts of Nihiliast Prime."

The Lion said nothing, simply standing with his arms held across his chest in simple repose. His eyes bore into Leonidas however, delving like an overly energetic mining tech thrall. Leonidas averted his eyes, shifting to the primarch's feet. There was no way he could keep that gaze for long. There was an undeniable and inexorable aura around the primarch that set the chapter master's blood afire and his twin-hearts pumping as if he'd just made his first drop pod assault as a neophyte.

"How quickly did the Magos Biologis take the increase your chapter's numbers?"

"About ten years. After the first initial intake were were able to bring our chapter back up to roughly eight hundred Knights. This was enough to finish off the demonic incursions, with the help of the Inquisition, and then to stamp out the remnants of the Ork Waaagh. In his wisdom, Chapter Master Vespario allowed the orks to survive, in a primitive fashion, within the Reaver's Reach. We conduct patrols and regular training campaigns there, allowing our neophytes and newly inducted Knights to bloody themselves against feral or primitive Ork warbands."

The cloaked, black-armored figure that stood in the most shadowed part of the room, twitched slightly.

"What is this revelation you speak of?" the figure asked. "What could you offer the Mechanicus adepts, as well as the Terra-appointed overlords of the sector, that would let them allow you to break the diktats of the Codex Astartes?"

His tone bore no acrimony or accusation, but simple curiosity.

The Lion allowed himself to arch an eyebrow.

The Chapter Master turned and it was toward the mechanically altered form of the chapter's Forge Master that they all looked. Forgemaster Lycurgus cocked his head to one side and looked from Cypher to his Chapter Master to the Lion before answering. His voice was mechanically altered, as was so much of him, and had the sonorous timbre of a grinding gear.

"At a date that has been lost, but prior to the Schism that tore the Imperium apart and the warp storm that tore the Khand Sector from the galaxy, the Knights of Sanguinius discovered a hidden archive here upon the world of Sanguinary. It is believed that it was the discovery of this cache of hidden knowledge that led the Knights to declare it our chapter's new homeworld. The archive itself pre-dates Old Night and perhaps even the Dark Age of Technology. Within we found an intact, complete Standard Template Construct librarium."

Cypher dropped his arms and stared.

The Lion raised his other eyebrow.

"You found an intact STC library?" Cypher managed, choking on his words slightly in a rush to get them out. "How? That's...it's impossible!"

"What my tongue-tied companion is trying to say, " interceded the Lion, "Is that the possibility of an STC library or archive had always been considered improbable. Even my Father did not believe that we would be able to find one during the Great Crusade, though He knew that they had once existed. Old Night and the terrible wars fought by the Men of Iron are a testament to themselves in that regard."

The Forgemaster nodded.

"Indeed, Lord El'Jonson, that would be my belief as well -- had I not laid eyes upon the archive myself. We of the Knights of Sanguinius techmarine cadre are the keepers of the archive and we share it's knowledge with that of the Mechanicus. The amount of technology that has been recovered and is being used within the Khand Sector today...I would say is comparable, or exceeds, that which was available on Holy Terra at the height of the Great Crusade."

"You will show me this place -- in the future, but not now," said the Lion, moving on. "I believe that your former Chapter Master Vespario acted with haste, but I approve of what he did. Henceforth, the Knights of Sanguinius have my sanction and retroactive approval."

All of the present Knights of Sanguinius went to one knee. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy and heart-wrenching fulfillment to know that their honor and that of their chapter's honor would not be fouled by the emergency actions taken by, at that time believed errant, Chapter Master Vespario.

The door to the chamber opened and Constantine Valdor entered.

He looked at the rising Knights of Sanguinius and then to the Lion.

"Chapter Master Mercado, I ask that you vacate the chamber for a short while. We need the use of the room. There are other matters to discuss -- both between you and myself, as well as with the Lord Jonson," said the captain-general, "However, they can wait."

Without argument Leonidas led his command squad and other chapter leaders from the room.

"What's the meaning of this, Custodian?" asked Cypher. "What could be so--."

His words were cut off as nine new Space Marines entered the room. Walking past the Custodian, who closed the doors, they entered.

They were clad in varying types of advanced black armor. Their left arms were of silver and bore the stylized "I" of the Inquisition. Their right pauldrons however were where the eye was drawn. Each there bore forest green of a lost world and a white heraldry of a downward pointed sword flanked by wings; except that three bore pauldrons of bone white and their emblems were red, but the sword broken in two.

They did not kneel.

Two of the white-pauldron marines drew up bolters and aimed them squarely at Cypher.

The third stepped forward and stood unflinching before the Lion.
Last edited by Khandosia on Fri May 28, 2021 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Fri May 28, 2021 10:01 pm

Knight-Master Koriel of the Deathwing's Inner Circle and former leader of the senior Deathwing Knights of the Dark Angel Space Marines Chapter stood and stared at the figure before him. His breathe had slowed to fantastical proportions the moment he entered the room, while his heart sped up and thundered blood through his twin-hearts and veins. Warring emotions flooded his subconscious and several overriding imperatives were roaring at him to immediately bow to the towering figure before him, armored in a gold that was not gold; radiating an energy that was commanding and elusive in equal measure. It was like staring into the clear sky up at a blazing sun, the thermal star light lancing down to burn out the retinae of the unwary or unguarded.

But Koriel had not survived for as long as he had, advanced as far as he had, without there being a core of steely resolve within himself. It was that core which kept him erect and his eyes unwavering as he took in every detail that he could. It was somehow difficult to take everything in at once, and truly Koriel didn't think it would be possible. But there were parts, parts which would be consumed in more functional proportions. The angle of his chin; the arc of his aquiline nose; the bristles of his beard; the blond hair that so many of his fellow brother knights of the chapter had had; and...the eyes.

Eyes that blazed with the same brutal green of a world that Koriel had known in his blood, but never knew -- that no one had seen in ten thousand years.

"You really are him," said Koriel. His voice was strained in that moment, the normal bass sound turned gravelly by emotion.

He cleared his throat. "I am the watcher on the wall. Who then here comes before my gates?"

Koriel spoke in High Gothic, in a dialect that had been passed down exclusively within the Inner Circle of the Deathwing.

"I am a stranger from the East, seeking that which is lost," replied the Lion, using the same dialect.

"Seek thee no further, for it is herein that you will find that which you had sought."

"With sword sheathed and unbelted, I shall enter and be glad."

The last words were finished by the Lion.

Koriel slammed his fist to his plastron and kneeled. "My lord, I -- I am almost lost for words. By what miracle this has happened I do not know, but to see you returned is beyond the greatest joys I shall ever have in this life."

"Rise, my son," said the Lion. His voice was so authoritative that it could never be mistaken for human.

Koriel rose and half turned, raising his gauntlet at the hooded figure that his two fellow Deathwing members continued to keep under the aim of their unwavering bolters. "That thing is a traitor. He deserves to die, immediately."

"I understand your hatred," nodded the Lion, "But the Lord Cypher has bent the knee and begged me personally for forgiveness. It is he who returned to me the Lion Sword, allowing it to be forged anew and once more back within my possession. Any mark of death that may have been leveled upon him by my sons, or by any of the Order, is hereby rescinded. His penitence for his crimes is still taking place and will last for many years yet to come. But do you understand me, Knight of the Deathwing?"

Koriel nodded and the other two Deathwing members lowered their bolters.

"I am Knight-Master Koriel of the Deathwing," Koriel introduced himself. "The two behind me are Ser Telamon and Ser Horrul. The six brothers with them are Brothers Cadmus, Kedaine, Luriel, Norne, Vortiger, and Madeus. We were seconded to the Death Watch of the Khand Sector some...if the Inquisitors are correct...four millennia ago. Most of that time was spent kept in stasis pods, to be sent on missions when the Ordo Xenos needed any particularly foul Xenos issue dealt with."

All of the other Dark Angel Space Marines then put their fists before their hearts in salute and knelt before the Lion.

"Rise," the Lion said again. "It gladdens me to see sons of my lineage here. I had thought I would be reduced to being solely surrounded by the red of my brother, Sanguinius' offspring."

"There are numerous others of differing gene lines here as well," interjected Valdor. "As you may have read in that dossier that they provided on the voyage, the Death Watch organization is comprised of Astartes from every Chapter within the Imperium. They now represent their respective gene lines and chapters here within the Khand Sector and this...new galaxy."

"I shall have to meet them," the Lion said. The prospect of meeting more of his brother's sons seemed refreshing. It would be interesting to see more firsthand of this newer Death Watch as well. "But for now I think we can postpone those introductions. Come, my sons, sit and speak to me of all that you have experienced. I have heard much from the Lord Cypher over there, but I also need to hear your stories."


Each of them told them everything, starting from when they were first raised as initiates of the Legion -- now Chapter. The new organizations, how the old Hexagrammaton had changed, or how the Deathwing and Ravenwing were all that remained. The six non-Deathwing brothers were shocked to hear more and, were it not for the momentary glare that the Lion gave them, nearly drew their bolters on Cypher just as their other brothers had before.

"I'll have to induct you into the Deathwing," Koriel said, looking at them. "By tradition and by oath, any who hear these things must be members of the Deathwing."

"I will oversee that ceremony, personally" said the Lion.

Valdor caught his eye and the Lion nodded. "But it seems we have other matters to take care of first."
Last edited by Khandosia on Fri May 28, 2021 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Tue Jun 08, 2021 1:56 am

Hidden Vault | Deep Within Sanguinary

The Lion stood in wonder at what he saw before him. The chambers continued on as far as the eye could see, vaulted and shaped with a casual mastery of architectural design that bespoke the Golden Ratio in it's greatest forms. A soft thrumming echoed on the air, just beyond his enhanced, primarch-gifted perceptions. The air itself was finite, barely enough for an enhanced figure such as an Astartes to breath. A normal human would have suffocated in minutes. Forgemaster Lycurgus stood next to the Lion, Valdor, and Chapter Master Mercado. He seemed a little ill at ease having them there, which wasn't surprising. Even though he was an Astartes of the Knights of Sanguinius Chapter, Lycurgus was also a high adept of the mysteries of the Machine Cult; that more than anything else set him apart, much as the psychic abilities of Librarius set it's members apart from their chapter brothers. Having others besides himself within this Machine-Sacred place was bound to get his ire up, if only subconsciously.

A servitor of some strange design came around the corner of a large column. It was made from a chromed metal and moved about in a humanoid form, except with an enlarged torso which softly hummed with life. It moved with a grace and smoothness that did not fit with any such machine that he had seen before...except within the locked vaults of the Dark Angel's Dreadwing.

"Forgemaster Lycurgus," the Lion spoke, his voice a low growl, "Please confirm for me that that caretaker machine is not in fact an abomination."

The Forgemaster turned and his body language betrayed something close to fear. Perhaps he thinks that I would go on a destructive rampage?

"The Caretakers are not abominable intelligences, my lord," Lycurgus said, hastily. "They are both less and more complex than the servitors which you or I are more familiar with. They are machines, but they do not have any true intelligence. The Golden Age humans that founded this place programmed them in an advanced fashion, making sure that they adhered to the simple, yet vital tasks, to which they still remain dedicated to. I have tested them myself."

"You're telling me that there are no human viscera or flesh matter within their construction, but yet also do not bear any true intelligence?" asked Valdor.

"Correct, Captain General."

"Fascinating. I believe that some of the more fanatical among the priesthood of Mars would burn this place to the ground -- regardless of the loss, simply because these...machines are here," replied Valdor. He stepped toward the caretaker machine and watched it as it sifted through stacks of metallic disks and other ancient data storage devices. It used spindly finger-like digits to pick up anything it found, extended a small digit, and then sprayed compressed air to clean anything off. Simultaneously a small vacuum device would scoop up the detritus and prevent it from moving about the air. Some kind of clear varnish was used to further clean and preserve the objects, before they were then returned to their previous places and the machine moved on.

"You're not entirely wrong," said Lycurgus at length. "It is one reason why we have allowed no tech priest except for the Fabricator-Archmagos Logastus to enter. He is of a more...flexible frame of mind when it comes to such things."

"As he should," Valdor said, turning. "He was a chief lieutenant of Archmagos Belisarius Cawl."

Lycurgus' frown was hidden by his helm, but the cock of his head showed his ignorance. "I'm afraid I do not know that honored adept."

"No reason you should, considering the Khand Sector had been cut off from the Imperium for so long."



Lycurgus led them deeper into the various chambers. They passed numerous other caretaker machines, encountering nothing that didn't seem, here, to be ordinary. The rooms were filled with shelves and columns of data stacks. Some of them were familiar to the Lion, such as data crystals and the occasional archaic -- or perhaps in this case, original -- data slates; others were more akin to pict-captures he had seen of archeotech digs back on Mars, taken on expeditions under the authority of great names such as Techno-Archeologist Arkhan Land.

After what seemed like half an hour or more they arrived at what appeared to be a central hub of the archive. Rooms and wings shot out at all the cardinal directions, like the spokes on a wheel. But here, in the center, was a great desk with strange armature equipment. A single caretaker machine stood nearby, motionless. He noticed it had a piece of Imperium technology attached to the side of it's "head". Lycurgus stepped forward and pressed a button on the side of it's head and the machine twitched. It slowly came online, peering about with one blue-lit oculus. It bobbed it's head at Lycurgus and seemed to take in the others with an inquisitive glance.

<Welcome back, Lycurgus of the Knights of Sanguinius.> It spoke aloud in a metallic, machine voice. <How may this one serve you today?>

"I wish you to pull up...," he turned and looked at the Lion.

"Inventory of assault vehicles," replied the Lion.

<Assault Vehicles...search complete. Archival Data on subject "assault vehicles" is at 72%. What iterations of these assault vehicles shall I present?>

"All of them," ordered the Lion.

The machine bobbed it's head again, small noises escaping it's internal workings. It then turned to the table behind it and a blue-tinted hololithic projection began. Three dimensional models of warmachines began to appear, one after another in small, minute detail. Each one seemed more impressive than the last. The Lion leaned forward.

"Show me more."

"Perhaps after I have had time to review these new pieces of information?"

They all turned and found a tall, red robed tech priest standing behind them. It walked on four legs that each ended in a suspensor field that kept his feet from ever touching the ground. The edges of his robes were lined with golden mathematical equations stitched against a white background. He made the sign of the aquila and bowed a cowled head from under which peaked six green-tinted mechanical eyes.

<Ave Imperator, Lord Lion El'Jonson of the First. I am Archmagos Veneratus Logastus, ruler and high priest of the Adeptus Mechanicus of Khand.>
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Mon Nov 29, 2021 6:01 am

“Archmagos Veneratus,” greeted the Lion, making special note of the near silent perfection of the tech priest's propulsion system. “I was not expecting to meet you until I made planetfall upon the world of Khand itself.”

A small mechanical squeak and a metallic reinforced hand came up to the Archmagos' chest, where a few brass and bronze dials were. He turned a few and then a synthetic voice echoed from the Archmagos, sounding as if he were speaking from the end of an empty hallway. It was a deep, male voice that carried a certain level of gravitas with it. The Lion imagined that the Archmagos had spent a great deal of time among Astartes warriors and had judged that this voice most suited when dealing with them.

“I am sorry to surprise you, but I felt it necessary to expedite this meeting – here and now – where there are fewer eyes and ears to pry,” replied Archmagos Logastus. His head cocked to one side and the Lion detected a faint scan moving across himself and the others. The Archmagos seemed to almost be talking to himself, his attention split, as his head bobbed up and down in a very human-like fashion. He isn't your normal kind of Mechanicum tech priest, the Lion thought.

“Yes, yes...wondrous,” murmured Logastus.

“You are being rude, Archmagos Veneratus Logastus,” said Valdor, stepping forward a pace. His guardian spear was kept in the same shoulder resting position it had been earlier, but his grip had risen up it's haft by a few significant inches.

“Apologies, but I had to confirmed with my internal cogitators and archive data that you truly were who you appear to be,” replied Logastus.

The Archmagos landed upon the floor, with two mechanical human-like legs unfolding and his four hovering appendages retracted up and under his robing. He was tall, for a mortal, but still came a head shorter than Lycurgus. He bowed and brought his hands together into the interlocked knuckle sign of the cog-mechanicus, then smoothly transitioned them into the sign of the aquila.

“Blessings of the Omnissiah upon this meeting and yourself, Primarch of the First and Captain-General of the Ten Thousand,” he greeted them formally. “Again, I must apologize but...I believe that it was necessary to meet you here. Before you met with anyone else within the sector.”

“Why is that?” asked the Lion. “You do not know me, not really, and there is no way that your order could have expected my arrival within this...time and place.”

“I am not an...orthodox member of the Adeptus Mechanicus,” Logastus replied at length. “I hold true to the Martian priesthood and to the glory of the Imperium, but I am also a sentinel of sorts.”

The Lion detected a small hint of tension enter and then leave Valdor.

“A sentinel, you say? Of what? What were you waiting for?” asked Valdor.

“For my master, or his emissary, to return. I am a humble servant and devotee of Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl, blessings of the Omnissiah be upon he, his most devoted servant. If you, the Primarch and the Captain-General of the Golden Host are here...then perhaps he had a method of coming also.”

“I am afraid to disappoint you,” replied the Lion. “Only the Captain-General and myself were the ones that entered through the portal to come here.”

The archmagos twitched and a few beeps echoed out in a staccato pattern. His eyes, all six, seemed to become smaller as they peered more closely at the primarch. His consternation must have been great, for he slipped back into lingua-technis.

<This does not seem possible. How could I or my master have miscalculated so greatly?> Logastus said to himself. His shoulders slumped somewhat. He was, to the Lion, becoming more interesting and entertaining than any Martian priest he had ever before encountered.

<You could not have foreseen this, surely? Is it just to punish yourself so?> Forgemaster Lycurgus interjected. <The mysteries of the Machine-God are great but I am sure that there is simple explanation for this.>

“Your calculations were not entirely wrong, Archmagos Logastus,” said Valdor.

The Custodian went to his webbing and belt pouches, and withdrew a small metal box, roughly the size and shape of an Astartes bolter magazine. He flipped the lid open to reveal a cogitator board covered in golden lines, silver roundels, and circuitry of great complexity. Central to it's design was a small glowing green-black ball which was encased in a gold inset, clamped tight around it.

“Tooth of the Cog!” Logastus declaimed, actual shock filling out his voice. He reached out toward Valdor, obviously desperate. “Please, Captain-General, please give that to me.”

Valdor hesitated.

“Do you have the proper equipment to allow this...thing...to function?”

“But of course. My mentor and master, Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl, always prepared his students to be capable of interfacing with his designs and equipment.” He snapped his fingers, the metal digits sounding more like a gunshot than the actual human equivalent. A trio of silently hovering servo-skulls came down from the ceiling. One of them was slightly larger than the others, carrying with it additional cogitator functionality.

Logastus took the circuit board from Valdor with the gentleness that a mother might her newborn child. He whispered prayers to the Machine-God as he did so and even Lycurgus bowed his head in recognition of this holy object of the Machine. The Lion was nonplussed, an eyebrow arched. He had never had the same familiarity with machines that others of his brothers had had; Ferrus Manus, Vulkan, or even thrice-damned Perturabo would likely have known what that object truly represented.

The tech priest took the circuit board in hand and slotted it carefully into a housing bay in the servo-skull. It clicked smoothly into place and the red-glowing eyes of the machine flickered. They changed color, going from black, to white, to black, to green, and then back to black. Massive screeds of data slipped down its eyes and a small spool of data-parchment began pumping out complex data formulae that appeared to be a boot sequence of some sort.

<Integration Sequence Completed. Computational Evaluation Complete. System Approved. Awaiting Code Recognition.>

<Recognition Code,> said Logastus <01001000 01100001 01101000 01100001 00101100 00100000 01001001 00100000 01101101 01100001 01100100 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100111 01101111 01101111 01100111 01101100 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00101110. Simga omicron phi-alpha mu-77, subordinate Adept Logastus 231.379M36, recognition requested.>

<Processing...processing...processing...>

The servo-skull seemed to quake upon its grav pulser and a bit of exhaust wafted out of its coolant fans. The glass eyes turned bright green and flashed in quick succession before settling into a rhythmic pace of intervals.

<Recognition Code Accepted...activation of Cawl Inferior Tertius approved.>

The skull suddenly swung around and scanned all present.

A metallic voice that managed to sound both cynically enthusiastic and mundane came out of the vox grille where the servo-skull's jaw would have been.

<Greetings to the First Iteration of the Machine-God, so named Lion El'Jonson of Caliban. Greetings to Captain-General Constantin Valdor of the Adeptus Custodes. Greetings to the Forge Master of the Knights of Sanguinius Space Marine Chapter – thought lost in M36. Greetings to one old student of the great Archmagos Belisarius Cawl,> it said. <I am Cawl Inferior Tertius, an interface representation of the great Archmagos that may be used to express and share information with those cleared to know and hear such information.>

“All those present are so cleared,” said Valdor. “By order of the Archmagos and by me.”

The servo-skull bobbed slightly.

<Order accepted and protocols are now in effect. How may this one serve?>

"Do you have any standing protocols to execute with Archmagos Logastus?" asked the Lion.

<This one does have several, most of which are data exloads that will require a second password which we believe the Captain-General Constantin Valdor can provide.>

The Lion eyed Valdor, who nodded.

"I do have additional instructions and information to pass along to Archmagos Logastus and Chapter Master Mercado. One of the tasks which Belisarius Cawl was charged with by your brother Guilliman was to research and implement any and all improvements that could be made to the Astartes template. In the five to eight thousand years that he undertook such an endeavor, Belisarius Cawl was...successful."

Lycurgus suddenly stepped forward. "What do you mean? What improvements? We were designed by the Emperor himself! How can one improve upon that?"

"By the use of the Emperor's own studies and the absorption of millennia of biological experimentation," deadpanned Valdor.

"Hard to believe," murmured the Lion, intrigued. "But I guess not impossible. Guilliman was not a fool and would not have entrusted such vitally important information to a charlatan."

<Archmagos Belisarius Cawl, the Arch Conduit of the Omnissiah's Will, is certainly not a charlatan,> Cawl Inferior Tertius blared.

"Indeed," agreed Logastus. "That's one reason why I did not install the Cawl Inferior into my own internal cogitators. I enjoy the free will that I've had these past few millennia, and much as I respect my old teacher, I'm not willing to surrender it."

"You mean that if you'd inserted that cogitator circuit into yourself that you'd - what, become Belisarius Cawl?" asked Valdor.

The Khandosian archmagos nodded. "That is exactly what would have happened, in a sense. I would have become a very artfully created copy. All of his students have a bit of the Archmagos within them. I imagine that a majority of my personality matrix and whatever biological pieces that remain would have been overwritten by specific coding installed within that circuit."

"Well, I'm glad that you took precautions," said Lycurgus. The Forge Master tapped the servo-skull that was Cawl Inferior Tertius with his armored finger. "You had better behave yourself, Cawl Inferior Tertius."

<But of course, Forge Master.>

"Tell me," said the Lion, glancing between the servo-skull and Constantin Valdor, "What are these improvements that you speak of?"
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Fri Dec 03, 2021 11:59 pm

Planet Khand | Capitol World of the Khand Sector

One never knows what life will throw at one next.

Those words of his great-grandsire Thaddeus Markanian echoed in Justinian's mind as he and his entourage made their way to the Fields of Triumph. The transport they were in was a converted Stormbird, much more luxurious and artfully decorated than any other military craft had a right to be. It had been built by order of his great-great-grandsire, Mortolian Markanian – a man for whom excess and splendor had been but a daily exercise of will. Most of the things which had been built by that rather decadent fore-bearer of Justinian's had been destroyed by the subsequent heirs, keen on acting with more stoicism and what they considered to be appropriate levels of opulence. Only this craft remained.

Inside the main cabin, where Justinian was sat in his safety harness, the walls were painted with golden images of Khandosia's history. Mighty armies marching beneath the banners of House Markanian and men that stylistically had no bearing on the truthful figure of the actual Lord Governors of the past led them. Space Marines, Titans, and the simple marching soldiery of the Imperial Guard strong forward into battle against the figures of diminutive and pathetic looking Orks or obscure xenos lifeforms. Justinian always found the paintings amusing, because he knew how false such an image was.

“Are we sure that everything is ready?” asked a reedy voice from beside him.

Juliana von Markanian ne Admona was Justinian's mother. She was older than she looked, and she looked very old indeed. Tall and thin with silver hair that fell in long, carefully manicured tresses to the small of her back. She was not of the Markanian family by blood, instead having married into the governor's family because her family was one of the most powerful in the sector – controlling the mining rights to a sub-sector and ruling over three planets through various distant relations; they had been a political power that Justinian's father had felt wise to court carefully.

“Everything has been prepared as well as they can be, Duchess,” replied Forvus.

Justinian's personal body man and aide-de-camp sat in a less ornate seat across from him and his mother. Even now he was using a haptic glove to link through his internal noospheric implant to check over data and details concerning The Arrival. Truthfully it was appropriate that his mother should be somewhat panicked. How does one meet the son of the God-Emperor?

“Are you sure, Forvus? Did you remember to have the gubernatorial guard stationed at the appropriate locations? What about the Black Watch?”

“Generals Thoma and Kildaire are on sight and have already assured me that everything is in place. Also, an additional company of the Black Watch have been reassigned from the palace to the Fields of Triumph. Please, be rest assured that we are taking every precaution into account,” he said, trying to give a soothing and reassuring tone. “I am also quite sure that the populace will be ecstatic about everything too. Cardinal Pompey Richelieu has been quite fervent in his most recent masses at the Cathedral of the Emperor-Ascendant.”

“But what about--.”

“Mother,” Justinian interjected. He turned and laid a reassuring hand on her arm. She turned and her own pale blue eyes looked into his mismatched pair. They were cloudy with concern, worry, and something else that Justinian couldn't ever remember seeing in her before: fear.

“It will be alright,” Justinian said, clearing his throat. “We are a loyal family that has ensured the preservation of Imperial rule throughout this sector of space for almost a thousand generations. We have nothing to fear from meeting a son of the Emperor.”

Forvus nodded.

“Indeed, my lady, there is nothing to fear.”

She raised an eyebrow at Forvus but then turned back to look at Justinian, eventually nodding. “I'll put my trust in you, my son. But be prepared for the worst.”

“Aren't I always?” cracked Justinian.

Forvus coughed and looked away.

In truth Justinian wasn't worried so much about being found wanting as what might happen if this newly found primarch would seek to take control. Some of the other powerful families and Imperial governors might seek to take advantage or otherwise be happy to see the Markanian family humbled in such a manner. It might even spark some resistance within his family's adherents, seeking as they would recourse to the loss of power and influence. No one would rebel outright, but there were always ways of making one's displeasure known.


* * * * *



The Field of Triumph was pretty much exactly as might be imagined from its name. One of Justinian's ancestors had had the grand plaza carved out of the landscape, covering over fifty-square kilometers of marble stone-laid ground. On all of it's flanks, surrounding the field, were ten-row high stadium seats reminiscent of the ancient Roma amphitheaters of Old Terra.

Near the northern edge of the field was a processional archway, atop of which was the viewing stand from where the Lord Governor, family, and important members of court could gather to observe. The space was usually reserved for Founding Days, when new regiments of Imperial Guard were sworn into service and marched beneath the eyes of their lords and the populace of Khand. It was always a beautiful and inspiring thing to see.

Today was special, however. Far more than any day that had come before, since perhaps the Great Crusade itself. A son of the Emperor was coming.

A raised dais had been created at the very heart of the Field, surrounded by newly erected columns of gold and silver bearing the oaths of office for the Lord Governor of Khandosia and the images of the most famous governors and heroes of the sector. Around that was a cordon of Gubernatorial Guard in white and gold, and the Black Watch in their glistening black carapace, their serried ranks impressive in freshly pressed dress uniforms and finery. Running from the dais down to the processional archway was a thick blood-red carpet, freshly cleaned and laid. Both among the cordon and along this carpeted path were the red-gold armored figures of the Knights of Sanguinius' first company veterans. Tonsured priests bearing purple robes of office and golden censers strode up and down, behind that protective line of Space Marines. They swung their censers high, small clouds of pleasingly aromatic incense filling the air.

Around the landing cordon and to either side of the processional path, brimming up in every available seat, were the citizens of Khand. The sound was raucous and happy, a crowd brimming with simple joy and an anticipation that could not be contained. Like Sanguinalia, Emperor's Day, and one's own Name Day all rolled into one – a festival atmosphere reigned.

Justinian, for his part, was glad for it.

It was a pleasant distraction from his more negative thoughts and helped to trigger his ingrained training in regards to working a crowd. His arrival brought a rising tide of cheering.

“God-Emperor bless you Lord Governor!”

“Saints be with thee, House Markanian!”

“Cheers for our Lord Governor!”

The last cheer was the one that brought the most comfort and helped reestablish his equilibrium. Justinian had worked long and hard to be regarded as such by the citizens of Khand. He'd reformed the Imperial Law courts, getting rid of several corrupt judges and criminal syndicates with the help of an enthusiastic Inquisitor and the local Arbites commander, who had subsequently risen to Arbiter-General. Never forget your friends and they'll never forget you, he thought as he raised his hand to wave, smiling at the crowd.

Justinian did not go to the viewing stand atop the archway, but rather stood at it's base upon the presentation carpet. His mother and Forvus stood a little behind him while the other members of his inner court circle gathered around the periphery. With the snap of a hand severl servo-skulls came down, pict-captures running. A holographic image of the Lord Governor was being presented all across the Field and the planet. Justinian raised his hands, gaining a little quiet as he did so, but then he didn't expect it would be possible for this crowd to go quiet. They were just far too excited.

“My people!” cried Justinian, his voice projected around the world by the Mechanicus adepts working in a nearby technical cogitator booth. “Oh, glorious day! Oh, glorious day! How fortunate are we to be here and now?”

The crowd roared. People were crying out in exultation and for a moment Justinian wondered what it would have been like if he'd sought the tonsure like his old Uncle Thomias, leading congregations of the faithful in prayer and song.

“Today is unlike any day that has gone before. Today, unlooked for and unforeseen, we are delivered into the mighty keeping of a being unlike any other. Today we are to welcome someone thought lost to the shadows of time, to myth and legend. Today, as your Lord Governor, I proclaim a day of thanksgiving! Let this day be henceforth remembered as the Lion's Day!”

Incredibly, the sound of the crowd grew louder.

“He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, will stand a tip-toe when this day is named, and rouse him at the name of the Lion!” continued Justinian, raising his hands in fists, allowing his own fervor to color his words. “This day and its story shall be what a good man and woman shall teach their sons and daughters, telling them of the wonder and glory that they were lucky enough to see!”

Triumphal music blared and all heads turned upward. From orbit, coming down through the sky, came an entire wing of Knight of Sanguinius' Xiphon-class fighters, accompanied by craft of the Imperial Guard such as Lightnings and Thunderbolts. Their engines swelled and muffled the crowd like a tsunami wave engulfing the shore. Children stuffed their fingers into their ears, such was the furor.

Alone came a gold and red Stormbird, one which Justinian knew belonged to Chapter Master Mercado. It landed upon the central dais, engines cycling down and exhaust swelling around it. The music swelled and the gathered regiments snapped to attention. Justinian's heart began to beat harder in his chest.

The ramp lowered and ten Space Marines in newly painted forest-green armor marched down. They bore their bolters across their chests, marching in lockstep. At their head came a cowled figure in power armor of black, bearing a standard that had not been seen before on Khand. It was sable black of field and upon it was a gold-threaded image of a downward pointing sword with gloriously detailed wings to either side. The crowd cheered and cybernetic cherubs began to drop flower petals upon the Field, a showering of terrific colors.

A golden armored figure appeared next, taller than the other Space Marines around him. His armor was resplendent and far more beautiful than anything that Justinian had ever seen. But it was not the primarch, though this figure did bear a nobility and lethal grace unlike anything anyone had experienced, except perhaps in the presence of Chapter Master Mercado – but even he paled in comparison to this figure of Imperial glory made manifest.

Then the final and most important figure stepped out. Justinian closed his eyes, as he later imagined that nearly all others did as well.

It was as if the sun had risen, blaring in golden incandescence that threatened to blind the unwary or unwilling. Men, women, and children that managed to keep their eyes open would later swear that they saw only a field of golden light; nothing else. They simply would lack the vocabulary to describe that which, for them, was indescribable.

When Justinian finally opened his eyes, the flash of light seemed to have faded and in it's place was a glorious figure no less wondrous. Taller than the Custodian that had stepped out before, towering at nearly three full meters in height and broad of chest, was the primarch.

Lion El'Jonson strode forward, his honor guard marching before him along the processional. Citizens dropped to their knees. Even the regiments of Imperial Guard and the Black Watch were awed into such obeisance. Justinian and all those around him likewise fell to their knees. Legends and stories could never do justice, though they helped to swell the mind and inflate the magnificent. In his life he had never known awe, until now.

The heavy steps, thunderous even though cushioned by the thick carpet beneath them, came to a halt in front of Justinian.

“Rise, Lord Governor Markanian of the Khand Sector,” said a voice.

Justinian rose, compelled and willing in equal measure. He couldn't bring his eyes up yet, though, he could only stare at the primarch's armored boot. It was as well fashioned and engraved as any power armor that might have been imagined from the greatest ages of Mankind. But to raise his eyes further...

“Look at me, Lord Governor,” the voice said, slightly softer, but no less strong in it's compulsion.

Now Justinian felt his heart hammer in fear as well as in awe.

Inch by tortuous inch, he raised his eyes. Each revelation and sight was more astounding than the last and his breathing became hard. When he finally looked up and into the green eyes of the primarch he felt as if he'd lost his mind and been struck dumb. Those eyes, a dark emerald that made one imagine forests of green, stared into and through Justinian. Everything felt laid bare and that any untruth spoken would be known.

A small inner voice seemed to speak to Justinian, like a far away, near forgotten memory. He remembered his duty.

“I-,” he coughed, cleared his throat. “I-I welcome you to Khand, my Lord Primarch and son of the God-Emperor. All herein is yours to do with as you will.”

The Lion smiled, a small smile perhaps. It disappeared before Justinian was sure that he had seen it, but a remnant of that humor remained in the tone of his words as the Lion nodded at his words.

“I did not travel so far and so long only to usurp your Emperor-given position of authority, Lord Governor Markanian,” said the Lion, his words caught by the sound system of the hovering servo-skulls. “I came here to help you and the people of this sector. For you have long been without aid or succor, fighting alone in the dark. That is why I am here. That is why my Father sent me.”

Justinian's eyes widened and his heart hammered again. A small part of him wondered if he hadn't already suffered a cardiac arrest.

“T-The E-Emperor...? The God-Emperor...sent you?”

“Indeed, that is so,” replied the Lion.

The Lion turned and surveyed the crowd. The silence that they now held was as stark and overbearing as their previous raucousness had been. The Lion need only whisper and his words would be heard throughout the entirety of the Field of Triumph.

“People of Khandosia! Citizens of the Imperium! I am come to you now in your time of need to be a protector. I do not intend to rule you, for you already have wise rulers. But I shall be the arm that wields the sword and the shield, defeating the enemies of my Father's Imperium and protecting that which He would see protected. Do not bow. Do not scrape. Stand! One and all! Stand and know that you are not forgotten. For I, Lion El'Jonson, I am here.”

The crowd then cheered, a volcanic eruption of energy and adoration that would have been enough to fuel the stars themselves.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Fri Dec 10, 2021 10:32 pm

Gubernatorial Palace | Khand

The Lion stood silhouetted by the towering glass window in one of the upper chambers of the Markanian's palace. He had endured marching down the processional way and through the city, eschewing the transport that the Knights of Sanguinius had offered. He knew that the people of the city would be happier and that he could endear himself to them further by making that small, humble gesture. Lord Governor Justinian had gamely joined him, walking and sometimes jogging alongside. As they had walked through the blaring, cheering cacophony of the crowds the Lion had felt his skin crawl. He could just imagine the subtly mocking voice of his brother Guilliman in his ear, teasing the grandiose display and affectation of a humble “man of the people” that he'd put on. It was something that Guilliman, Sanguinius, or even Fulgrim would have enjoyed.

But not he. Not the solitary, inscrutable Lion El'Jonson of the First Legion.

Oh no, that was well beyond him.

“Times change,” he half muttered.

“You're right about that,” replied Constantin Valdor, standing across the room from him. The Custodian had accompanied him every step of the way, guarding him in a manner that was both familiar and unsettling.

“I do not recognize this...new Imperium, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say 'old' instead.”

Valdor allowed a sigh of sorts. He took off his helmet with a slight hiss of seals being undone and magnetically attached it to his hip, next to his Sentinel blade and Misericordia power knife. Lines had been etched in a face that, to the Lion's memory, had been near ageless.

“You had a luxury of sorts in not seeing the Imperium become what it did,” Valdor said, a small frown settling across his face. “Though there were times when I thought it could be, if not returned to a better time, at least preserved.”

“Preserved,” the Lion repeated softly, “Preservation is not something which I am usually well known for, nor habitually familiar with.”

Constantin's eyes did not waver as he nodded.

“Indeed. For as much as your brother Russ styled himself the Emperor's Executioner – you were undoubtedly his exterminator.”

“Although once I was something more, for a short while.” He spoke the words almost unwillingly, as if the course of the conversation was drawing it out.

“I'm aware of what happened behind the veil of the Ruinstorm. I spoke with Guilliman in the wake of the Siege of Terra and traveled to Macragge to read and see what could be found,” said Constantin. His voice didn't change but a small glint of suspicion seemed, to Jonson's eyes, to enter Constantin's own.

“Yes...in a small way, Guilliman, Sanguinius, and I were traitors. Ignorant of the situation and cut off from the greater Imperium, he sought to preserve what could be. Guilliman did at least. He had this grand idea, beautiful and well constructed as most things by him are – or were – and Sanguinius and I accepted it. We had no choice, really. Not if we wanted to preserve something of what our Father had created.”

Valdor nodded.

“And you have been called to do so once again,” said the Custodian.

“As I said,” the Lion replied, “An unusual and unfamiliar position to be in for me.”


The Lion heard the approaching footsteps well before they got close to his chamber's door, identifying the number of individuals, their weight, and the expectation thereof of what weaponry or harm that they could possibly bring to bear against him. A knock came and the door was opened by two palace menials.

Lord Governor Justinian Markanian, his mother and personal aide, as well as a collection of other unique individuals stepped into the room. They all bowed, first to the Lion and then again to Valdor.

“My Lord Jonson,” said Justinian, “May I present to you the members of the Protectorate Council, each the leading member of their particular organization or adepta within the Imperial government.”

One by one they introduced themselves.

Lord Inquisitor Demetrius van Wulf was interesting. He wore simple black robes and a gold chain around his neck with a large ruby stylized with the letter “I” hanging upon it, showing by it his organization and with his simple clothing a clear indication that his office, as head of the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition. The Lion did not yet know what to make of this new organization, the mysterious brainchild of former lieutenants and aides of Malcador the Sigilite.

“I will require access to all information that your organization holds, Inquisitor,” said the Lion, staring the man in the eye. The Inquisitor held his gaze for longer than one might expect, but eventually broke the eye contact and nodded.

“Of course, Lord Jonson,” he said, bowing again, “Just please be aware that what we do is for the betterment of the Imperium and for it's people. To guard it against corruption, heresy, and the insidiousness of the alien.”

An eyebrow raised up the Lion's noble forehead.

“I believe that to be partly true. Or at least you believe it to be true,” said the Lion. “Time will tell.”

“Our track record over the past ten thousand years would, I hope, speak well for us,” said van Wulf, a bit of steel still in his spine.

Jonson let the comment go. It wouldn't do to try and subjugate the man entirely. No need, as yet. He looked at the other council members in turn, gauging their worth.

“You have done well, thus far, I would judge,” said the Lion, “Though time will tell whether or not you continue to prove that.”

Manicured fingers bearing golden and bejeweled rings moved over carefully placed vestments and various gold-stitched symbols of holy indication of the man standing behind and to the left of Justinian. Cardinal Pompey Richelieu was a pale faced individual going to fat. He was the most unsettled of the group, sweating profusely from his brown and armpits. The smell of him was almost enough to make the Lion sneer in disgust.

“You said that you would not usurp the Lord Governor,” said the small, stooped man bearing the icon of the Adeptus Astra-Telepathica. “How then shall we address you? The people will be expecting something. The planetary governors of the sector will be expecting something.”

“The psyker asks a good question,” added Constantin.

“I was sent here to protect this sector and it's people within this new existence. I shall not place myself above you all. I am not a tyrant. I will, however, be taking in hand all the military matters of the sector,” said the Lion. “As such you may address me as 'Lord Protector'.”

“Lord Protector of the Imperium,” added Constantin. “Seems appropriate.”
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:27 am

Two Weeks Later | Hive Munorium, Nihiliast Prime | Forge World of the Mechanicus


The hive spire was one of the few non-Mechanicus centers on the planet, given over to the Administratum for the collation of data regarding production of war material for the Departmento Munitorium, the Knights of Sanguinius Space Marines, and other myriad PDFs across the sector. The hive lord, Jaeric vor Forlen, had been given specific instructions. The entirety of sub-level 227b had been given over to the esteemed visitor that had arrived unannounced. Such an event would usually have been argued over, the necessary paperwork and negotiations necessary to transfer lesser adepts from their assigned stations needing to be filled out -- but not this time. The gold armor of the one who ordered it was enough to make word into deed and for deed to be carried out thence without question. Few, after all, were the sane person that would willingly argue against a transhuman, let alone one of the legendary and near-mythical members of the Adeptus Custodes.

Constantin Valdor inspected every room and passage of the sub-level which he had taken over. A cadre of servitors had been given over to him by the Archmagos Logastus. Some were weaponized praetorian models, armed with potent plasma carbines and volkite chargers or bearing energized weapon staves and power mauls. These had been set to guard the entrances and patrol the corridors by specific and seemingly random patrol paths organized by Valdor himself. Eventually he would recruit and train some personal servants, much as he had had serving him back within the Imperial Palace on Terra. Until then, servitors would have to suffice. The office that he had assigned himself was small but well equipped with advanced cogitators and sensory equipment. The other rooms and chambers within the sub-level were being outfitted with equipment that the Emperor himself would have jealously sought to acquire by any means. Some of it was familiar, like an old glove fitting comfortably over a weathered hand; the rest was newer and required some specialization to use. The three figures that were permitted entrance to his office were the reason for that purpose, the specialists that would be required for this task that Valdor knew to be necessary above all.

The first figure was almost of a height with Valdor, towering in red robes lined with green and white thread denoting the higher mysteries of the Divisio Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Chief Biologis Adept Zhur-Zeta bowed formally to Constantin, his metallic armature spreading wide and revealing that he possessed not the normal two appendages that one would call arms, but rather four. They were crafted out of the finest of silvered metals and barely detectable lines wove their way across their surface. One pair formed the aquila while the second pair formed the cog-mechanicus. His legs were likewise metallic in nature and supported his increased height with a dancer's natural grace. A silver mask with glowing green, glass eyes was half visible beneath the hood of his robes. It reminded Valdor of the infamous Death Masks worn by the sons of Sanguinius, such was it's artistic perfection of pursed lips and contemplative mien. A breathy, quiet voice modulated by a synthetic vox caster, likely imbedded in the mask, echoed slightly. "Greetings to you, Golden One. I and my colleagues are here by your order and that of Archmagos Veneratus Logastus, blessings of the Omnissiah upon you both."

The second figure to Zhur-Zeta's left could not bow. More akin to a servitor than what perhaps he could have expected from this seemingly more enlightened branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus, was Magos Biologis Quillon-87. A near silent Whisper Drive allowed the figure of Quillon-87 to hover across the floor. Her short torso was thrust upwards from the square, tower-like base that had replaced her legs, armored in a way that mimicked the local Brides of the Emperor. It was a reminder that he might need to speak to the local Ecclessiarchy heads about the developments that had taken place within the Imperium proper...or perhaps not. Quillion-87's face was a mix of flesh and metal, her lower jaw chromed out and well fashioned to follow what Constantin assumed had been her original physical form. Brown eyes stared out at him with curiosity and awe, no augmetic replacements these.

The third figure to Zhur-Zeta's right was, surprisingly, a normal looking human with rather disheveled robes of a senior adept and several difference disciplines marked out upon his hems, showing that he had studied several different facets of lore and teachings within the Mechanicus. For a moment it made Constantin remember an old face, that of Arkhan Land, that cantankerous and brilliant mind; or perhaps it was of a younger Belisarius Cawl? Either way, Adept Benhamin Theta-5 was an unprepossessing figure. Indeed his demeanor made him seem as if he would rather be left alone within some forgotten laboratory than dragged out to Hive Munorium -- even if it had been by order of his order's highest ranking member and by the Adeptus Custodes.

"How may we serve?" asked Zhur-Zeta.

"Long ago, at the dawn of the Imperium, there had been an organization created by order of the Emperor, beloved by all, known as the Adnector Concillium," Valdor said, "Have you ever heard of it?"

A buzz of sound emanated from them, a small bit of green light glowed in Adept Benhamin Theta-5's eyes, and Valdor's internal armor sensors reported what he already knew; they were speaking to each other across a private noospheric connection, or perhaps accessing the larger network that crisscrossed the entire surface of Nihiliast Prime.

"Apologies, Golden One, but this one can only find small hints and passing details. Most of this is either sequestered or we lack the authority to access them."

"No matter," replied Valdor, shaking his head. "The Unifiers, as they were colloquially called, were an order of tech priests and scientists which served the Emperor directly. By my will as Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes, beholden only to Him on Terra, I hereby declare that you three shall be inducted into a new order. You will serve me and by extension the Adeptus Custodes, solely and without recourse. Anything you learn is to be kept herein and any violation of your oaths will be dealt with by summary execution. If you agree to join, I promise you that you will learn new methods and advancements in the field of biologians than anything your previous masters within the Divisio Biologis could ever teach you. If you do not want to...well, you may return to your duties where I am sure that Archmagos Logastus can find a suitable position for you."

The three consulted each other again. Benhamin Theta-5 turned to face the other two, his more human features betraying interest, hope, and a faint fear and suspicion. The other two remained unmoving, though Quillon-87's eyes narrowed in extreme concentration.

"A query, if I am, Golden One?" asked Zhur-Zeta.

"You may ask," Valdor allowed.

"Why did you choose us?" interjected Benhamin Theta-5. Quillon-87 nodded at her fellow adept's words.

"That is indeed the query, Golden One," added Zhur-Zeta.

Valdor stood up from behind his desk, his size gargantuan within the enclosed space. Even with higher than average walls, the ceiling seemed to shrink downwards and the walls come closer when their gold armored figure stood. Valdor looked each of them in the eye, weighing and judging them. His armor's sensor analysis had given him insight into what their had noospherically looked into or what they had spoken to each other about. The djin-programs within his armor were more advanced than anything else within the Imperium, allowing him insight into the Mechanicus that they would likely not have enjoyed. Good thing they didn't need to know anything about that.

"I chose you because, according to your records and the recommendation of Archmagos Veneratus Logastus, you are the three best within the field of the Divisio Biologis upon Nihiliast Prime -- and by extension perhaps within the entirety of the Khand Sector. I will need that expertise and skill for the project that I intend to undertake, either with your assistance or that of others. It will be a long, hard process. But it is one that I believe worthy of you."

He turned back to look at Benhamin Theta-5.

"Does that satisfy your query, Adept?"

Benhamin Theta-5 visibly swallowed and nodded hurriedly. "It does, Golden One. Thank you."

"So, adepts of the Divisio Biologis...will you agree to join a new Adnector Concillium?" asked Valdor.

The three of them exchanged glances again.

"We agree," Adept Zhur-Zeta replied for all of them. "We will swear your oath and serve the Adeptus Custodes' master."

"Good," nodded Valdor. "We can conduct a ceremony later, but for now this shall suffice. At the moment you will no doubt be busy with the new Primaris Project that is being undertaken by the will of Lord Protector Jonson. Until I recall you back to here, focus on your duties there. The Knights of Sanguinius and the Deathwatch will be needing your services."

"As you will it, Golden One," all three replied.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Fri Dec 17, 2021 8:55 pm

Andriscus Hive, Planet Khand

There were many who believed that the great warp storms that had separated the Khand Sector from the rest of the Imperium to have been a horrible evil, enacted due to some sins that its people had committed against the God-Emperor. Others thought it was to perhaps to safeguard it against outer perils. What none of them ever considered, or usually thought, was that it had been a boon for the sector and for the planet Khand. That was what Hive Lord Korys Timska thought. Unspoken in the back of her mind for years since she started her education into the duties expected of her, was that near-traitorous thought: Thanks be to the God-Emperor that we are no longer connected to the Imperium. Her reasons for this were based largely upon the data archives kept by the Timska Family, dating as far back as the Great Crusade.

The Timska Family was a hereditary family that had been given it's position due to faithful duty to House Markanian, back in the long near forgotten history of the sector's first settlement and conquest by the Imperium. Instead of a planet of their own to rule, they'd been given a hive city. Two point seven million square kilometers of a sprawling hive were her birthright. Heavy industries involving the construction of everything between civilian landcars, Whispercutter engines, Imperial Guard armored vehicles and tanks, to commercial goods such as holovid screens and personal entertainment slates. Hydroponic industrial farms ensured that foodstuff imports for Andriscus Hive was roughly half the amount that was imported into such as the Gubernatorial Palace or Khand Hive Prime. It was thanks to Andriscus Hive and three others that made up the near ecumenopolis of Khand into a world easily rival a Forge World's output in terms of quantities of goods, weapons and ammunition produced.

Twenty-five percent.

At first it had been lower, roughly ten percent of all output. But as the world of Khand, and then the greater sector around it, became compliant and rebuilt itself more was expected. Twenty-five percent of all resources and material to be given as Terra's just due in the form of the Imperial Tithe; with Andriscus Hive being given the designation of Exactis Prima by the last Administratum Tithe Assessor to have visited the planet more than seven thousand years prior.

After the warp storms sealed the sector away the question soon came of what to do with the collected bounty of the Imperial Tithe.

Korys didn't know the finer details, but she knew that there had been several assassinations and more than three full-scale, outright battles within the Gubernatorial Palace. The then Markanian sector governor had decided that it would be the wisest course of action to use the accumulated tithe to support the sector itself, so that when and if the warp storms abated, the sector would be in a strong position to once again provide it's Emperor-given wealth in support of the greater Imperium. None of the remaining, living members of the planetary aristocracy or Imperial Commanders had questioned that bit of wisdom.

“I'm sure your surprised,” said a cultured, too-smooth voice.

Dressed in the latest courtly fashion of military-style leather breeches, knee-high boots, and a red woolen shell jacket with gold-threaded braid running up the jacket's center like a ladder and gold buttons; a white shirt with ruffled neck piece helped to top off the costume, was her cousin, General Jean Timska of the Khandosian Hellraisers. He was younger than Korys by about a decade, but the two had always gotten along well. They had been able to confide in each other about the weariness of being within a noble family and the politics of survival within Khandosia.

“I don't think I'll ever forget the sight. How could I?” she replied, looking across the room from her desk.

They were in her office at the top of the primary hive spire of Andriscus. It wasn't as tall as some of the other hive cities, but she was always afforded a glimpse or three of the stars when she so cared or had time to look. She had been working since the early morning, having just returned from the capital and the arrival of the primarch. The image of that luminous being stepping down onto the planet would be engraved into her heart and mind for the rest of her life. The realities of his return would, it seemed, plague her for the rest of her life as well. Upon her return had been several new initiatives and orders issued from the Governor's palace waiting on her desk.

“He works fast, as one would expect,” grunted Jean, recognizing the half-distracted tone of voice for what it was. The stack of data slates was getting any shorter.

“I assume that Justinian sent you so as to help smooth over this latest order?” Korys asked, only half accusingly.

“...maybe.”

“A five-percent increase, from what had been ten-percent previously, of my city's output to be sent as a new tithe,” said Korys, staring down at the dataslate information. It specifically outlined the need for an increase of military materials and nonperishable foodstuffs. “We haven't had a tithe increase since...well, since the beginning of the warp storms pretty much.”

“Things are changing, dear cousin,” Jean said, his voice changing to become more serious and less soothing. He knew a losing battle when he saw one and was maneuvering for better ground. “We have the responsibility to our lord governor and to the primarch...or rather, Lord Protector, now.”

“And I have a responsibility toward my city and it's citizens as well.”

It wasn't a hollow platitude either. The Timska Family had spent generations since the beginning of the warp storms to engender a caring and faithful image with the citizens of Andriscus. It had served them well when another noble family had attempted to unseat the family more than three thousand years prior. The would-be usurpers had found the citizenry deaf to their efforts to ignore Timska family orders. Even a riot had broken out in support of the Timska Family. It was an image which Korys herself had taken even further by giving extra municipal funding to every district in the hive city. It wasn't for nothing that Andriscus had the lowest crime rate, highest birthrate, highest production rate, and – as recently measured by Korys' agents – the highest citizen satisfaction rate on the planet.

“I'm going to have to cut down funding for public works and education by at least a quarter in order to have the budget not start heading into a deficit,” growled Korys. “That's the only way in which I can change the budget on such short notice to match these new...requirements.”

“We have to change with the times, cousin. You know this.” Jean gave her a serious look, his blue-green eyes boring into her own. “You don't have a choice.”

“Oh, I have a choice...but it's simply not one which I can make silently,” declared Korys.

She turned to a servitor that was standing quietly in it's alcove behind her desk. It activated smoothly as its passive sensors detected her movement and attention.

“How may this one serve, Hive Lord?”

“Send a message to the Governor's Palace requesting an audience. Tell Lord Markanian that I wish to speak with him, as soon as possible.”

“As you wish, Hive Lord.”
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:02 am

Khand Sector | Undisclosed Location | Security Clearance Vermilion
Three Months Prior to the Return of Primarch Lion El'Jonson

There's only one way to find a place that no one knows how to get to.

Within the Khand Sector, between systems, nebulae, and cascading asteroids, timeless and silent as the void, was a single ship. It passed between the lights of systems and beyond memory. It was there in an obvious place that could never be obviously found. Should even a casual passerby ship come within ten light minutes of it, innocent of any crime except for being in the wrong place, they would face immediate destruction. It was the only way to maintain absolute security. Energy masks, electronic warfare devices of the most ancient and forgotten origins, void shields, and gellar fields – even constructed from matte black steel to match the depths of nothing-space. Weapon batteries that could out-range and out-gun the greatest of battleships sat within armored casemates upon crenelated steel walls that would have seemed more at home upon a planet's surface than floating in the depths of space. Torpedo tubes and augury arrays were planted like weeds upon other surfaces. Smaller weaponry intended for close space defense purposes was layered in between everything else, almost as an afterthought.

Watch Fortress Oblitus, ancient way station and command center of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos chamber militant: the Deathwatch. It was, in essence, a giant space station. It's exterior matched it's lengthy history, the millenia having not passed entirely unkindly. A great skull with ruby eyes and an inlaid stylized 'I' set in it's forehead area was embossed upon the tallest outstretched tower of the station, forged in the dying days of the Great Crusade. So ancient was the station the words that had once been so clearly acid-etched beneath the skull, letters larger than a standing man, were now illegible. Though the words were gone, erased by the passing of time, they were still cried out by those who trained within the Watch Fortress.

“Suffer not the alien to live.”

They were words that Inquisitor Jaq Stern had followed all of his life thus far, which didn't seem like much when you considered that he was only fifty-three years old and already close to needing his first juvenant treatment. As one of the leading members of the Ordo Xenos in the Khand Sector, he had been given responsibility for Watch Fortress Oblitus. It had, to put it bluntly, been a dead-end job. With the massive warp storms that had cut the sector off from the greater Imperium had come a significant lack of incursions from xeno lifeforms. Sure, there were still ragged and primitive Ork tribes on Ix that refused to die off, no matter how many times the local Planetary Defense Forces and occasional Imperial Guard training mission was thrown at them – but that had left the Ordo Xenos significantly lacking in being able to follow it's prime directive. The Ordo Hereticus had risen to power and influence during that time, it being far more important to keep witches and rogue psykers from trying to shift the entire Throne-be-damned sector into the warp than it was to worry about Orks or even the rare and rumored presence of craftworld Eldar.

Times change.

The fortress was coming back online. Power grids that had been shut down centuries before were only just now thrumming back to life. Stern would likely forced to accept the help from the Adeptus Mechanicus in order to get the place running fully again. Since it hadn't been needed, the primary power systems had been turned down to minimal levels – only a few minor systems had been left online: limited life support, gellar field, passive sensor auguries, and the deep vaults.

Cold air blew out and around Stern as he opened another access portal, stepping deeper into the heart of Oblitus. He was glad of his storm cloak's presence. Down here in the lowest sections of the Watch Fortress, in what was known as the Ice Caves, it could reach in excess of -100° kelzius. It had to be, such was the atmospheric requirements of the devices kept here and the precious futures they held.

Stern turned around a corner and came to a halt before a great armored door. It was covered in warning glyphs and High Gothic script: “Woe betide those that defy us. Woe betide the enemies of Mankind.

He just finished reading the words aloud when he felt a cold, metal barrel pressed to the nape of his neck. A deep, augur emitter infused voice boomed out – a tone of fear-instilling fire lashed within the words. “You are not Inquisitor Drake van Heoffner.”

Stern slowly raised his hands. “No, I'm not. I am – well, um, I was – his apprentice and acolyte.”

“Where is Inquisitor Drake van Heoffner?”

“Dead. Has been for the past two and a half decades. He fell into a rather primitive trap laid by feral Orks on Ix.” Stern's heart rate was now under better control. He knew who was behind him, but, as he'd feared, who was behind him did not know him; not yet at least. Throne! I never knew they could move that quietly!

The barrel pressure let up, surprisingly. “Turn around and be still. Move in any other fashion that looks provocative and I will kill you.”

Stern did as he'd been instructed. The passageway he stood in was not well lit, only the emergency power lights turned on, causing strange shadows to be cast around the floors and walls. A towering figure in night-black armor stood before him, a bolt pistol the size of his head casually held in one armored fist. The figure easily stood a head and a half taller than Stern, even through Stern was not a short man measuring in at two meters in height.

The Deathwatch Space Marine in front of Stern was different from a normal Astartes. A large frame was attached to the Marine on his back, revealing mechadendrites and mechanical appendages that could be independently operated or used in concert, all at the will of the Techmarine wearing it. A glowing red oculus sat in place of a normal eye. It scanned Stern from foot to toe taking in his face and likely a biometric readout. The techmarine scanning him was also apparently able to connect to the watch fortress's noophere, as the Astartes rumbled out Stern's history and life.

“Jaq Stern, Ordo Xenos. Recruited in 960.989.M41 by order of then-Interrogator Drake van Heoffner to the Ordo Xenos of His Majesty's Holy Inqusition. Commended for bravery in the face of danger in 972.893.M41 during the Xarness Incident. Promoted to Interrogator in 001.03.M42 by order of Inquisitor Drake van Heoffner and added to retinue detail. Awarded commendation for successfully revealing traitorous xeno-tech trading within the Rogue Trader House Ikthelios on Khand Prime in 223.05.M42. Promoted to full Inquisitor rank in 345.15.M42 by mutual order of Inquisitors Drake van Heoffner, Demetrius van Wulff, and Ophelia Zurst. Awarded command of Watch Fortress Oblitus in 700.20.M42 by order of Lord Inquisitor Demetrius van Wulff.”

“Sounds more impressive when you say it like that,” remarked Stern.

The Space Marine holstered his bolt pistol – not that he would need it if he really wanted to kill Stern, but it was the thought that counted. The Marine somehow managed to seem somewhat contrite in his body language, even while wearing a pristine set of Mark VII power armor.

“I am -,” he began.

“Harloch Longtooth, seconded to the Deathwatch of the Khand Sector in 028.567.M35 by order of the Great Wolf, or chapter master, of the Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines; an Iron Priest and awarded the position and rank of Forge Master of the Watch in 452.900.M38 after the Raum Cycle Incident. Named as Warden of the Vault in 089.999.M39 by order of Watch Commander of Watch Fortress Oblitus.”

Jaq Stern smiled slightly.

“It sounds less impressive when you say it like that,” replied Forge Master Harloch.

The Iron Priest reached up and removed his helmet. Long, grey hair that was neatly braided fell down in rolling waves across his shining black armor. Stern noticed small scrimshaw bones woven into the hair. A tattoo of some strange blue-black ink was across the weathered, pale face of the Space Wolf. It looked like the most detailed knot work that Stern had ever seen, so carefully had it been applied to the Wolf's face.

A leopard's growl echoed now from the depths of the Space Wolf's throat. He leaned down and fixed Stern with a black eye cut by a golden-yellow slit – not human eyes. They were a wolf's eyes, not a humans. Stern couldn't help but stare back, unable to look away and repeatedly thinking that same thought in his mind. “If you truly are the current Inquisitor charged with overseeing Oblitus, then you should be wary of your speech. Not all of my brothers herein are of such good humor as I.”

“My apologies, Forge Master,” Stern was quick to reply. “I was simply using a bit of levity to raise the moment.”

Harloch Longtooth simply stared at him. One red mechanical eye and one wolf's eye, both barreling into him.

“I'm new to this position. This particular post. Very new. The Lord Inquisitor bade me come down here to awaken you and your brethren. With all the political pressure that the Ordo Xenos is getting, it's like we've been thrown to the wolves.”

Harloch growled, seemingly threateningly.

“I-I, uh, excuse me Forge Master. I was speaking metaphorically.”

“That's alright,” said Harloch, smiling unkindly down at Stern. “Sometimes I dismember metaphorically.”

Stern cleared his throat and shivered, once more reminded of the cold around him. “Anyway, I've come to give you and the others their charge. The Deathwatch is to once more be fully activated. The warp storm that encircled the Khand Sector has died away and the Ordo Xenos desperately needs it's full strength once more.”

Harloch nodded. “I sensed that something was up when the noosphere returned and the machine spirits began to float about once more. The heart of the fortress is awakening.” Stern didn't know particularly how to respond to that, so he simply nodded in reply.

Harloch passed his helmet off to one of his hanging mechadendrites and moved around Stern to stand before the Vault door. Next to it was a dark cogitator panel. Harloch manipulated it slightly and the screen slowly grew to brightness as it turned on fully. Stern couldn't fully understand what Harloch was doing, except that within moments the screen turned from burgundy red to a frost blue color. The doors of the vault split open, slowly, and Harloch stepped inside. Stern followed him, practically on his heels.

There was a hallway with several rooms branched off it. Harloch moved to the furthest down and stepped inside. The chamber was large and far from silent. Machines were humming with the kind of perpetual use and was a vibration noise that set Stern's teeth off, buzzing them almost with some strange intensity.

That's when Stern saw it. They looked like sarcophagi of old Phaeronik Aegypt from the bygone eons of Ancient Terra. Great, rectangular boxes that allowed even the great size of an Astartes to fit within them, armor and all. There were hundreds of them, lining the walls in tiers. Each was covered by an individual blue force field. Stern realized it: they were stasis fields – a force field that effectively froze time and space for anything caught within it. The entirety of Watch Fortress Oblitus' Deathwatch contingent had been kept here, safe from the ravages of time; waiting until the time would come when they were needed once again.

“But how did you...” Stern looked at Harloch in confusion.

“I would sleep for a time,” replied Harloch. The Iron Priest stepped over to a master control cogitator board and began manipulating its controls. “It is quite simple to put a deactivation timer on stasis field generators. I also installed a watch program that would deactivate my own stasis sarcophagi if the fortress' primary enginarium was ever brought back online.”

The hum of machinery began to die down and high pitched whistles blew clouds of steam into the air as the stasis generators all around the room began to deactivate under Harloch's command.

“Rise brothers!” Harloch cried out. “The prey returns and it's well past time the hunters wake.”

Stern watched in growing awe as hundreds of armored figures stepped forth out of history and shadow. One close by, wearing almost beautiful artificer-plate armor, stepped forward.

“Well met, Inquisitor,” the giant boomed. “I am Watch Commander Brandt. What news of the outer worlds?”

“Much, Watch Commander,” replied Stern. “A conclave has been called for you and the Deathwatch of the Khand Sector. News of such import has never before been brought before us.”

“Speaks of dooms well enough,” muttered another armored figure behind the Watch Commander. “He must be an Inquisitor.”
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Khandosia
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Postby Khandosia » Wed Jan 05, 2022 3:16 am

Watch Fortress Oblitus | Unknown Location Within the Khand Sector
Three Months Before the Return of Primarch Lion El'Jonson

The Deathwatch gathered within the grand strategium positioned within the eastern halls of the Watch fortress. Muscles were stretched and joints popped, some Marines claiming to have sore joints even though such a possibility was in fact analytically impossible since they had been 'sleeping' within stasis sarcophagi. Watch Commander Brandt had given his men two hours to complete ablutions and check their gear and armor. For the better part of this time, Inquisitor Stern sat in the strategium speaking with Brandt and his coterie of councilors and high officers.

Standing at his commander's right hand was Chaplain Arkanos, his black Terminator armor covered in sigils of devotion to the Deathwatch and Vulkan – the Primarch of his chapter, the Salamanders. Arkanos' eyes, molten red like the heart of a star, narrowed dangerously as Stern began to fully explain what was happening.

Standing to Brandt's right was a tall, power armored Space Marine that seemed to go back and forth between keen interest to bouts of boredom. A carefully cared for goatee of black hair hung on a sallow face. An arch of colored crystals and embedded wires connected at the back neck of his armor – a psychic hood. Formerly a Stormseer of the White Scars, Batu Gal was the senior librarian among the Khand Sector Deathwatch; and if Stern's dataslate of information was to be believed, likely the strongest Astartes psyker within the entire sector.

“It cannot be true,” growled Arkanos. The timber of his voice was a hot and deep as the volcanic rivers that slid beneath the ash dunes of Nocturne, his – now lost – homeworld. “It doesn't seem possible.”

“I'm afraid that none of our opinions matter in the face of the truth,” replied Stern, keeping firm. “Our entire sector is no longer within the universe that we once knew.”

“The warp storm?” asked Brandt, sitting down on his command throne. It stood atop a small dais from which he could observe speakers on the grand stage of the strategium. Stern took a moment to look at the crossed scythes that were emblazoned upon the commander's right pauldron. The Scythes of the Emperor were a noble chapter of Space Marines with many victory laurels and accomplishments to their name – and Brandt was their sole representative in a universe far away from what they once knew.

“The star storm...it has severed us from where we once hung among the heavens – just like a tulwar severs an opponents head,” Batu Gal murmured. He seemed to be looking elsewhere, his eyes flashing with an inner light.

“Witch talk again, Batu?” asked Arkanos dismissively.

“The aether is not a superstition or something one can simply ignore, Arkanos,” smiled Batu Gal, seeming to ignore his battle-brother's barbed words. “The star storm had surrounded the entire sector...for the Great Khan's Father, for the Emperor, such a feat is not entirely out of question.”

“But why?” demanded Arkanos.

“That answer I not know,” replied Batu Gal, his characteristic failure at speaking proper Gothic causing him to sound even more phlegmatic than normal. “But the truth stands upon the plain, open and free for all to see. Acceptance is easier than willful ignorance.”


* * * * * * *


The appointed time had arrived and all the members of the Deathwatch stood in the tiered seats around the strategium stage. Stern checked his dataslate once more, making a note of those gathered. Two-hundred and fifty-three Space Marines, gathered from over thirty different Space Marine chapters across the Imperium of Man...or at least what had once been the Imperium of Man. Stern pitied them then, in that moment. He realized how hard the blow would be to those with strong connections to their homeworlds and chapters – now lost beyond the veil of time and space.

Arkanos was the one who spoke first.

“Brothers! We are challenged now in spirit in a way that is hard to explain, but perhaps harder to accept. Just as a weapon is forged in the heat of the fire, so too is our will, bequeathed to us by the Emperor, beloved by all. We are called upon to once more thrust that will into the flames –.”

“The stars!” growled a thick voice from the ranks closest to the stage. “The stars! What in the Hel has happened to the stars?”

All eyes turned to see a red-blonde-headed Space Marine standing, his body language betraying a violence that seemed to be barely contained within his armor. Runic symbols were carved across him, small fetishes of warding were tied to his armor just as devotional papers hung from other marines around him. Another Space Wolf.

“I was coming to that, Harold Grimblade,” replied Arkanos, “before you interrupted me.”

“I recognize my failing and will be sure to correct it,” growled the Space Wolf.

“The warp storm that cut us off from the Imperium of Man has abated,” announced the chaplain. The hall rung out with joyous cries. Some still hadn't understood the Space Wolf's outburst.

Arkanos raised his power fist, it's articulated fingers melding together momentarily in the universal sign of 'halt'. “Know now that a tragedy has befallen us. Expeditions sent out by the sector governor and by the Inquisition have confirmed it: we, the Khand Sector as a whole, are no longer within the Imperium of Man.”

Shouts of refusal met this news. Marines turned to each other, voices raised in consternation and confusion. Harold Grimblade ignored the warning hand rested on his shoulder by a neighboring Crimson Fist and stepped on the stage. “By the Allfather, this must be some ruse! Somehow we've been tricked!”

“It is no trick,” called out Batu Gal, joining Arkanos on the stage.

A fourth marine stepped onto the stage, covered in a white tabard bearing a black cross and laurels. “The God-Emperor would not allow it! How is this possible?”

“That...is where it becomes more complicated,” smiled Batu Gal. The room became quiet, drawn by the stormseer's words.

“Though we are indeed no longer within the same galaxy that we once knew – the warp is still there. Through that conduit our navigators can still see the great beacon of Terra. The light of the Astronomicon still shines through, though all astrocartography that it once lent to us is useless in the face of new stars around us,” said Arkanos.

Harold Grimblade swore in Juvjk, the tongue of Fenris, and stepped back down. Tiberius of the Black Templars lowered his hands, seemingly appeased at this news.

“If the light of the God-Emperor still shines through...” began Tiberius.

“Then we may yet find a way back,” replied Arkanos.

“But that is a hope far beyond us,” said Commander Brandt, now making his way onto the stage. “We cannot hope for an identical warp storm to once more engulf us and safely return us to what we once knew. Whether we are within the old galaxy or this new one, our mission, our purpose, remains the same.”

Shouts of approval rang out.

“We will continue to safeguard the Imperial citizens of this sector from any foul xenos that should make an appearance,” declared Arkanos, supporting his commander.

“Inquisitor Stern, newly appointed by the Ordo Xenos, has brought us a mission. Imperial forces have encountered new contacts with others within this new galaxy. There are humans here, just as they were in the old – but they appear to be either in league with xenos or possibly even enslaved. Our first mission is to find these people and bring back any intelligence that we may find to the Inquisition,” announced Brandt. “In the name of the Emperor, I charge you, brothers of the Deathwatch, to prepare for your next mission. Return to your training halls and dormitories. The roster of those battle-brothers to be sent will be announced later.”

“Dismissed.”
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia

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Postby Khandosia » Sat Jan 15, 2022 10:18 pm

Knights of Sanguinius Chapter Fortress Monastery | Chapter Homeworld, Sanguinary


Touring the sector was proving to be more onerous than Jonson had believed possible. It required more of his political abilities than he would have normally used, if ever. It was not his forte, Dorn and Horus having been better – and Guilliman outshining them all – in this particular arena. He made a mental note to thank the sector governor when he next met with him. The man was young, but already had good experience and had been well trained by a family that had overseen the protection of the sector for millennia while it was trapped behind warp storms. A strong foundation, as Guilliman would have said, is as vital to good governance as good logistics is to the prosecution of a military campaign.

His personal stormbird, a gift from Chapter Master Mercado, shook from atmospheric reentry and lifted him from his reverie. They were back, after many months, upon Sanguinary. Jonson had already met those of his gene-line, his sons, that remained alive within this new organization – the Deathwatch – that had been stationed in the Khand Sector. They were as brave, loyal, and hardy as he could have asked for, considering the time and space between when he had once known his Legion to what he now knew to be true.

Now it was time to meet the others.

A secondary, outlying redoubt of the primary fortress monastery had been set aside for his personal use. Plans were already made to eventually convert one of the sector's worlds into a 'war world', from which Jonson could conduct the business of war without either infringing upon the homeworld of the Knights of Sanguinius or upon the sector's political center of Khand. But until then, Chapter Master Mercado had offered him the run of the entire planet. This small bastion, Rakvere, that sat atop a hill overlooking the valley passes into the mountains, where the fortress monastery lay, was good enough. It was remote enough, too, as there were no local communities within a hundred kilometers or more.

The stormbird landed within the inner wall of the bastion upon a small landing field that was cramped with equipment and vehicles. Four other stormbirds in the heraldry of the Inquisition were present. Chapter servants in red tabards of the Knights of Sanguinius were moving about on various duties. They and other members of the Sanguinary Guard had garrisoned the bastion before the Lion came. Now they had been seconded to him. He noticed, as he stepped down onto the landing field, that all of the tabards had a small golden lion head stitched upon their left breasts.

Constantin Valdor stepped down behind him, the Apollonian spear clutched in one hand in a manner that the untrained might have thought as 'unassuming'. The Custodian had been drifting about lately as busy as Jonson, though on errands that he never elaborated upon. Knowing Constantin as he did, the Lion could only assume that it as security-related and that it would eventually come to light. For all of his gifts, guile was no a strong one for Constantin Valdor. The golden praetorian shifted his weight slightly as a figure came forward from a nearby doorway.

“Welcome back, my lord,” said Cypher, bowing with one fist over his heart. “I trust your journey was fruitful?”

“As fruitful as one might hope,” replied Jonson.

“They are all here, my lord, awaiting you in the great hall.”

The Lion nodded and walked within.


* * * * * * * *



The great hall of Rakvere bastion was one of the highest chambers, with it's portals giving the casual observer a grand view of the rolling green plains that abounded in this part of Sanguinary, south of the mountains. Ten banners had been made and raised within the chamber, each bearing the color and insignia of a once-Legion – except one. One banner was silver and bore only a black shield upon its field of fabric.

Around each banner, according to their gene-line, stood waiting the sons of his brothers. When the doors of the great hall opened, all eyes turned and all fell to one knee.

His own sons were once more clad in their green and white heraldry. The Inquisition had not made a protest when he had ordered them to be released from the Deathwatch. They stood sentinel at the entry points of the great hall, and two bearing the bone-white armor of the Deathwing stood to either side of a great throne that sat atop the room's dais.

The Lion swept through, seeing and judging all.

Cypher took up a position on his left. Constantin took up a position on his right. Jonson himself sat down upon the carved throne, thankfully made from stone rather than wood. He leaned back and laid his arms upon the armrests of his chair, relaxing his muscle groups one by one; his eyes sweeping about, gauging as best as possible the humors of those he had gathered.

“Rise, sons of my brothers,” ordered the Lion, his voice quiet but evocative. “All of you, rise.”

There was a muted growl of servos and scrape of ceramite on stone as they all stood upright and looked up at the primarch. Some were visibly having to restrain themselves, devotion and delight mixing in a potent cocktail upon their features. Others were clearly in awe. Only one group had their response hidden, for which the Lion would deal with later.

The largest group of those gathered was beneath the blue, white, and gold that bore the emblem of the XIIIth Legion: the Ultramarines. Fifty-nine, from successor chapters as well as five from the original chapter.

The second largest was standing at attention beneath the golden yellow and black of the Imperial Fists. Thirty-seven, from successor chapters as well as three from the original chapter.

The third largest was standing proudly under the banner of his most antagonistic brother, Leman Russ. Twenty-seven, with seven from the original chapter.

Twenty-one from successor chapters of my own legion...or chapter. Twenty-five from the Raven Guard and their successors. Twenty-three from Vulkan's Salamanders. Twenty-two from the White Scars and twenty-two from the Blood Angels and other successors besides that Knights of Sanguinius. None from Ferrus' though.

And standing beneath the black and silver of the Deathwatch were ten members that called themselves 'Blackshields'.

Before the Lion could speak again, one of the Space Wolves stepped forward, a hoary head of unkempt hair and beard flowing down the front of his armor. Two elongated canine teeth were seen even when his mouth was closed, and small bands of gold had been wrapped around them. Small bits of scrimshaw were tied into his hair, beard, and about his armor. His eyes, that unforgettable yellow, stared unblinking at the Lion. It seems the blood of my brothers remains strong within them.

Some of the other Space Marines gathered bristled at the supposed insult being done the Lion by the Wolf stepping forward.

“Name yourself, Wolf. Let’s get this done.”

“I am Harold Grimblade, lord.”

“Are you of Tra? I barely recognise the markings.”

“I am, lord. Though my Wolf Lord and pack mates are likely now long dead.”

“Let’s take the smack, Grimblade. Will it come from you?”

Harold Grimblade straightened to his full height. The feud between the Angels and the Wolves had existed since the Great Crusade and had continued well into the future. It was a ritual for them to field champions every time they met. A part of the Lion was feeling both happiness and nostalgia that it should still be so.

“Yes, lord,’ Harold said. “I crave you advance your champion.”

“Once, when another of your legion – your chapter – challenged me so, I stood as my own champion,” said the Lion.

Harold Grimblade's eyes twitched.

“But,” he continued, “I believe it is better for Captain and Knight-Master Koriel of the Deathwing be nominated as my champion.”

Koriel, who had been one of the Dark Angels standing at the side of his throne, stepped forward. He wasn't wearing the traditional Terminator armor that was the hallmark of the Deathwing, but his armor still bore their bone-white heraldry. “It would be my pleasure and honor to act thusly, my lord.” The Knight-Master stepped forward, drawing a master-crafted power sword. He brought it up to his face, saluting the Space Wolf challenger.

“Strike as you may, Wolf,” Koriel said.

Harold Grimblade took a power axe, a Fenrisian frost-axe in fact, off his back where it had been mag-locked and nodded in return to Koriel's salute.

“May the wyrd of either be satisfied,” he said.

It was a sensationally good strike. Harold had betrayed no cues, no hint of muscle tension, no focus of powered plate. The blow had just come. Aimed directly between the eyes of Koriel's helmet.

Koriel's sword blade rose and met the axe blow, but could not halt it. With the skill of centuries it was deflected. The frost axe cut a sliver of ceramite out of the bone-white armored pauldron of the Knight-Master. The return stroke was as fast and deadly, falling toward the junction of the neck and shoulder, toward where the carotid artery might be struck. The haft of the frost axe managed to halt the strike less than an inch from it's intended target.

A flurry of blows was then exchanged between the two. Both were obviously skilled and powerful warriors in their own right, enhanced beyond mortal belief by their gene-forging and the power armor they wore. Sparks flew and the screeching wail of opposing power fields echoed in the great hall. Koriel moved in a more economical manner to the more wild-seeming positions and movements of Harold Grimblade. The fight lay upon a knife's edge.

It stopped almost as suddenly as it began.

Both warriors split apart, both breathing more heavily from excitement and the potent cocktail of battle stimulation that flowed through their veins than exhaustion or tiredness.

A thin cut dripping was blood was upon Harold Grimblade's brow.

The Space Wolf returned his axe to where it had been and nodded at Koriel and then at the Lion.

“Satisfied?” asked the Lion,.

“Honor is satisfied, lord,” Grimblade assented.

“Well fought, Wolf. You almost had me,” said Koriel, going back to where he had been standing before.

“Aye, I did indeed. T'would be ill wyrd to halt me a second time, though. I recognize my failing and will be sure to correct it.” The Space Wolf unceremoniously returned to his fellow Wolves without another word.

“Now,” the Lion said, “Let us return to the matter at hand. All of you are the proud scions of my brothers. Your time seconded to the Deathwatch is honored and deserving of praise. I count you as heroes and exemplars of your gene-lines; for the measure of true glory is not to give battle in the bright noon of war, surrounded by brave comrades upon the field of victory, but to valiantly fight on alone in the darkness, with no hope of aid or even remembrance, and to spit defiance in midnight's eye.

“You have endured here within the Khand Sector for millennia against numerous and dangerous foes. But now is to be a time of change. By my order, you are all to be released from your service with the Deathwatch.”

A hubbub of conversation broke out, the surprise breaking through even Astartes discipline.

“What then are your intentions, Lord?” spoke up Harold Grimblade. “We would not look good in the green of your chapter, nor that of the red of the Knights of Sanguinius – worthy though each be.”

“That is why each of you shall be part of a new founding,” said the Lion. “Many of you are from successor chapters. I give you leave to become core cadre of new Space Marine Chapters. The Knights of Sanguinius will not be enough for the future, to defend this remnant of my father's Imperium. I need more soldiers, more warriors, to assist me in this task.”

“Lord!” a fervent voice rose up from the Imperial Fist successor ranks.

“Speak, son of Dorn.”

“May we re-found our original chapters? Or would you have us be forced to wear the heraldry of our primogenitor chapters?” The man bore the heraldry of a crusading cross, which the Lion had learned meant that he was part of the Black Templars – the rampaging scion knights of Sigismund.

“I will allow it. You must simply write a petition and name those that will join you, but understand that I will not accept fewer than ten to be part of such a venture.”

“Thank you, Lord!” The Black Templar positively beemed.

“And what of those that will refuse you outright, Lord Lion?” Harold Grimblade spoke up again. “I may not be the Great Wolf, but I know that we could not countenance fresh blood to be raised without having their origin upon Fenris. Hjolda! I can feel Morkai's eye upon me just from suggesting it.”

“We will discuss it at length later. For now, you are all dismissed to the lower halls to decide how you will organize yourselves,” said the Lion.

The far doors opened and liveried servants bowed out the gathered host of warriors.

“Blackshields shall remain,” the Lion announced, loud over the stomp of armored boots and small talk.

The ten black armored and helmeted Space Marines that bore no heraldry hadn't even moved from their positions. They likely had expected something of this nature might happen. They simply walked forward and stood in a line before the Lion, unflinching and unbowed. The Lion waited until the room was emptied and then stood. He looked at each of the Blackshields in turn and then gestured to the door of a side chamber.

“I will speak with each of you in turn,” said the Lion. “Prepare yourselves.”

The Lion glanced at Koriel, who nodded. The Lion had ordered him and the others to remain in position with the Lord Cypher, weapons ready, to watch the Blackshields while they entered one by one into the interview. Constantin Valdor followed him on his heels.
My FT Factbook|Return of the Lion


"On the contrary; this gentleman is my nemesis, my opposite number, the Holmes to my Moriarty, the blessed image of purity next to be defiled oozing corruption." - Chronosia


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