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- Aug 2016
Brotherhood (Warhammer 40k Story)
Oh boy, it's been some time since I posted my writing here. I'm looking for critique, and be as mean as you please. Any words that enhance my writing ability are welcome words to me! I feel like how this is going to work is I'm going to post a chapter for each of the Character's perspectives (it'll make sense, just keep reading) and then finish up the work on my own. So far I've spent nearly 18,000 words on this project, and hope to spend many many more until it's finished!
Also if you don't know a lot of the lore behind 40k, don't be frightened! It'd be great to get a viewpoint from someone who's reading this as just a Sci-Fi war story instead of the full baggage behind 40k because that person will probably be the best at telling me about how I'm not so good (or pretty decent, miracles can occur) at worldbuilding.
Theodus / Anaiel / H’aman / Artemis / Kurrack
Spoiler: Chapter I - TheodusDescribing how a drop pod operates is a lot like describing a fantastical attempt at self destruction. You are given the final trappings of war, be it spare boltgun magazines, a frag grenade belt, or a final purity seal pinned on the shoulder or breast. Then you gather your armaments, strap yourself into the pod, and all the while alarm bells signifying that the docking bay would soon be deprived of oxygen would be blaring around you. There is a numbing wrench in your ears and mind as the docking chamber is purged of life-giving air, and then you fall. You fall for miles, minutes, or, for one unfortunate past mission of mine, hours. I knew no fear as I fell, however, for I am an Ultramarine.
Or, at least I was.
I was a Captain in the Fourth Company for my Chapter of Space Marines, the greatest warriors of humanity. I led soldiers into battle against numerous foes, and was well decorated within my ranks. I had stood past centuries of bloodshed and war, my mind held a fortress of stoic bravery, but my station was ripped from me. Men in black power armour appeared on my ship bearing Inquisitorial Rosettes and offered me what they referred to as an honour. They gave me the chance to serve a secretive organization known as the Deathwatch; a coalition of veteran Space Marines who had proven themselves on the field of battle. Men who stood against the tide of xenos, the alien. I accepted, unknowing of the position’s consequences.
Due to my high standing in the Ultramarines, the Deathwatch decided to stage my death to avoid infighting between my Chapter and theirs. A corpse was drawn, from whom I do not, nor wish, to know, and I attended my own funeral. My men believed their Captain had died not while leading them on the field of battle, but taken by disease, a genetic malady. I was not celebrated with valour or praise, just sent into the void undecorated and unremembered. I had died, and in so doing I learned why my new colleagues had nomered themselves Deathwatch. I was quietly whisked away from my ship, and onto a new one, wherein I was demoted to serving under a new Captain named Daessios.
As I fell in the drop pod with Daessios, I pondered why I had ever joined this shadow organization in the first place. While I do not regret the honour of serving the Emperor with his most chief veteran fighters, I do still hold an affection with those I had called friends and brothers. I wondered what they were doing now, and how many had died since I had left them. I wondered if any of them still thought of me, or if any of them even cared to carry on my legacy. I quickly dashed away these thoughts, for they were selfish and cruel. My legacy is the legacy of mankind, and it is not my place as a Space Marine to question that.
“Brother Theodus,” the man beside spoke, his voice garbled by the vox-receiver of my power armour, “I sense a turmoil in your mind. Hold fast, and banish such thoughts. We go to war.”
The man speaking to me was Anaiel, another member of the Deathwatch and former member of the Ultramarines, though I had never met him in my life before personally. He was a librarian, a psyker, capable of feats those living on primal worlds would akin to magic or sorcery. I had shared much of my time with him since coming to the Deathwatch due to our similar past, and I had grown a fondness and understanding for the man. Fighting beside a fellow member of my previous Chapter was a boost to my morale, which was probably why we were selected to accompany each other in our Kill Team.
Aside from myself, my Brother Anaiel, and my Captain Daessios, there was a final, silent man in the drop pod. Unlike myself and Anaiel, he was a former member of the Salamander Chapter of Space Marines, little more than a fire cult in my opinion. While he was base and held little with the common teachings of tactic and strategem, H’aman was an expert in heavy weapons and demolitions. Skilled enough to join the Deathwatch, at any rate. His head was bowed in prayer, and he cradled his flamer to his chest.
As we continued to descend, I too bowed my head in prayer. My thoughts turned to the Emperor on Holy Terra, and how we were doing his work by coming here and meeting out his divine will. As my eyes closed, Captain Daessios spoke, “Fear not the alien, for Humanity’s destiny is Higher than any other form of life. We do not go to war, Witch, we go to purge.”
As if his words were a divine sending, the drop pod crashed into the ground with a thunderous slam. Our harnesses released after the initial impact, and the walls of the pod lowered to reveal a smoking battlefield. Three figures, squat and hiding behind cover, turned towards us with shock and anger in their expressions. Their faces were green and ugly, like the maw of an inbred kanine. Dagger teeth jutted from their snarling mouths, and all three took on the cry of, “WAAAGH!” as they saw us.
I grasped my shield in my hand, crackling energy humming from it. I knelt underneath its protective surface as the Orks raised their crude weapons to fire at me. The energy of the shield lashed out at each of their bullets, destroying them before they could impact. While they fired upon me, H’aman brought to bear his fiery weapon, thrumming red with heat and death before discharging into our offenders. The screams of the Orks as they burst alight brought a wicked smile to my face as I rose from my hiding position to see their scorched carcases.
We four angels of death stepped from the pod, gazing out at the field of destruction around us. Smaller creatures fled from our presence as they saw their masters burn, and we returned their cowardice with stray bolter-fire, killing them instantly. We walked forth, calm in demeanor and cold in exterior. Men and women dressed in combat armour stood at attention as we stepped past them. Some of them bowed their heads, swearing loyalty to the Emperor or bravery in battle. Captain Daessios was furious at all of them.
“Guardsmen!” he began, “do not stand here idle in the face of the enemy! The Emperor’s women and men have little time to bow during war. Take up your weapons, regroup where the fighting is thickest, we shall handle ourselves!”
The majority of the Imperial Guardsmen nodded, taking up their weapons and wounded like Captain Daessios commanded. I looked after them, and asked, “And where shall we go, Captain?”
Daessios looked to Anaiel, who was firmly grasping a long metal staff in his armoured hands. It held heraldries of winged beasts and of eyes that glowed with a faint blue hue. Anaiel himself was gazing into the cloud marred sky, frowning as he spoke, “I sense the green-skin’s commune in the Warp. It dances across the sky like… like a naked drunkard.”
“Can you follow it, Witch?” Captain Daessios asked, taking up his gun as he surveyed the ground.
“I believe I can. Its source is not doing anything to mask its presence,” Anaiel assented, casting his gaze back down again. His red eyes shone through the shadows of his embroidered, white hood with a fiery concentration. He had caught the figurative scent of the Ork Warboss, and he was ready to begin the chase.
Daessios shouted encoded orders to the other Captains landing on the battlefield in other drop pods to maintain their position and draw fire away from us. I took in the scene as he did so, one that matched the battle-charts I had glanced upon precisely before we landed ourselves. It was just inside a metropolitan area covered all around by mountainous terrain. The crags would extend for hundreds of miles all around the mining town, giving it a wide advantage to most forms of assault. The station in which we were fighting was a refinery, and forged armour and weapons for the Guardsmen we had just relieved. It was a point of heavy strategic worth, and it was overrun by the Ork Hordes, green skinned aliens who subsisted on warfare of all kinds. We would not let them take this station, even if it cost us our lives.
After Daessios finished telecommuting orders to the rest of the men, he turned back to us and plainly spoke, “We will follow the Witch’s lead. Shield, stand and guard the Witch. Burns, stand at the rear guard and cover for us. We move, for the Emperor!”
At the Emperor’s cry, we took position, H’aman holding our rear while I protected Anaiel and Captain Daessios in the front with my Storm Shield. We moved quickly through the battle, staying low and behind cover as Marine and Guardsmen fought the green tide. Anaiel directed me with verbal or physical indications of where to go. We ran for perhaps fifteen minutes through the city, behind alleyways and thoroughfares, streets and buildings, blood and decay. As we ventured deeper and deeper into the complex, corpses and enemies became more abundant. In our tightly knit band, we dispatched what minor threats came into view, but due to our numbers and discreetly chosen passageways we managed to avoid the bulk of the horde.
When we came to the central area, Anaiel held up a hand. He returned his gaze skyward, and nodded, “Here, it is right here. I can sense the alien’s presence inside this building. He is leading from insi- “
Before Anaiel could finish, bullet fire rang from the windows. It clashed against Anaiel’s pauldrons in a wrenching clang of metal against metal. I brought my shield to hide Anaiel from the rest of the barrage as H’aman and Captain Daessios returned coverfire against our attackers. Daessios directed us to back into the alleyway we came from, and we quickly obliged. H’aman was the last to take cover, leaving a final bout of flame to the Ork’s turrets as we gathered ourselves.
“I marked three guns, Captain, all on the second floor. We need to get inside before they fortify the first,” I listed, taking a knee as I inspected my shield.
“We need a distraction larger than Burns’s fire it seems,” Captain Daessios murmured, snarling, “Damn them, we should have come sooner.”
“Making comments on the past does not help our present,” I retorted, resulting in the Captain giving me an acid stare from under his helmet.
“Captain,” Anaiel began, “I may have a way to remove the turrets as a problem. I just need to see them.”
“You have a spell for this, Witch?” Captain Daessios inquisited, turning his wrathful gaze
from me to the stony expression of Anaiel.
“I do, but we do not have time for your phobias to impact your tactical judgement. We can either charge mindlessly into the building while bullets rain down upon us, or I can remove the threat to our lives. The choice is yours.”
“Captain, Anaiel, enough!” I broke, standing between the two. H’aman was as silent as ever.
All was silent save for the Ork’s bullets for a long moment. Captain Daessios finally relented, ordering, “Shield, guard the Witch while it casts its spell. Burns and I shall… provide covering fire.”
I took up my shield as I stood in front of Anaiel, and charged into the bullets, providing the needed distraction. While the turrets trained on me, H’aman and the Captain fired their weapons into them while Anaiel walked in between. He raised his staff, and shouted a primal roar at the Orks, one which I would swear to the grave they returned. The air around him shimmered with a blue light, almost as if he had pulled the sky itself down around him. Bolts of the same pigment leapt from his open palm, striking out against the turrets one by one, each becoming silent.
As the battlefield settled, Anaiel breathed heavily while his nimbus of energy subsided. Captain Daessios drew ahead of us, and scoffed, “Abhor the Witch. Know that our enemy lies ahead, do not be idle.”
We followed our Captain inside. The door was barred closed, but the meager defenses did not stop our power armour-enhanced strength. The inside of the building was dark, but our helmet’s vision was not impeded. Our armaments were serving us well as we advanced inside the building, as softly as our heavy metal feet would allow. I took the lead as we advanced down hallways, my gaze swooping about to ensure we would not be surprised.
The loudspeakers of the complex rang with a wine that indicated an improper use of the vox caster, causing each of us to wince as we halted our advance. A gravelly voice sounded all around us from the speakers, “Space Marines! I didn’t know a fella’ like me warranted such a honah!”
“Do not waste my time with words, Xenos, my ears require your screams instead,” Captain Daessios responded, signaling us to keep advancing through the hallways.
“Don’t be such a git, humie. It’s five floors to me, and I’m getting bored.”
“Witness the stupidity of the Xenos as it reveals its own position to us, brothers,” Captain Daessios dryly replied.
“Oi! You weren’t supposed to do dat!” the burly voice indignantly shouted back. Captain Daessios decided to stop bantering with the enemy for as he fell silent, the voice continued, “Yah humies never want to have fun while yah fight. If yah took this a lot less serious-like, I bet you’d lose more. I’d like it if yah lost more.”
“We would never stoop to your level, alien. Make peace with your false Gods if you hold any, for today you die in the name of the Emperor,” Captain Daessios declared as we reached the stairs.
“Nah nah nah, yah’ve got that mixed up wrong. Today, yah lot’s gonna die in the name of your Emrpah. I’mma live in filf, squallah, and the blood of your Space Marine brethren!”
As we reached the top of the stairs, the door to the second floor burst open. A corpse of a member of the Deathwatch flew past, and hit my shield with tremendous force, causing me to trip and fall onto Anaiel. A large Ork, easily the size of three men, bashed through the door, and filled the room with flame from a weapon mounted into his left hand, all the while shouting the Ork’s warcry of “WAAAGH!” Anaiel and I were free from the danger of the flames as we had toppled onto the ground, but H’aman was caught just inside the blast. A primal roar surged from his Vox, the first sound I had ever heard him make. To anyone who didn’t know the man, it might have sounded like a scream of terror. It was not terror that had overcome him, however, but orgasmic fury.
H’aman released flame from his own weapon back onto the Ork Warboss whilst still aflame. The Ork howled in pain, and covered his face with his armoured right side, which was replaced with a tangled mess of wires all connected to a massive, gouging claw. Captain Daessios leapt through H’aman’s fire, and plunged his sword into the Ork’s arm, forcing him back into the room. It seemed the Warboss had deceived us about its location, for the pained screams of the Ork before us matched the annoying drivel that once poured from the loudspeakers.
As Anaiel and I recovered, standing back up again, H’aman’s armour had begun self cooling. Steam drifted off H’aman’s frame as he knelt on the ground, his arm over his side. He was in great pain, but he would survive. Behind him, however, came lights, and shouts of “WAAAGH!” from below. The Orks had tried to flank us, and soon they would overcome H’aman. I shouted, and ran down past Anaiel to support my fallen comrade, the greenskins coming into view as I did. I began to swing my power mace against them, Anaiel’s blue bolts of psychic fire clashing from behind me.
We held the Orks off from our behind enough for me to hazard glances down at H’aman. He had noticed the enemy behind us, and had begun to try and stand, bringing his weapon up from his side. I sent a few more blows at the Orks before ducking to one side, not wanting to be overcome with H’aman’s fire. He discharged his weapon at the bulk of the horde, sending the Orks back the way they came, routing them before they could reach us. They ran from the flames and back down the stairs, their morale destroyed, their spirit crushed. H’aman’s arm went limp as he sank back down against the wall.
“Anaiel!” I screamed, “Look after H’aman, I’m going to Daessios!”
“Acknowledged,” Anaiel nodded, “Go, quickly, I’ll do my best to soothe him!”
I ran from my comrades alone to where my Captain had drawn the greenskin. So far the mission was going well. We had snuck past enemy lines, we had supported the Guardsmen below, and we had even located the Ork Warboss, the leader of our enemies’ forces. Once we cut off the head of the snake, the body would wither. Our combat here was joined, and we had nearly brought him low.
As I got to the precipice of the stairs, a grizzly image played in my mind. The visage of the Ork Warboss I had briefly seen and heard flashed before me, its claw bloody in Captain Daessios’s entrails. I saw the image of the man who had torn my life away beaten low and to the brink of death by the enemy. It was a worthy death, one filled with valour. He deserved such a demise, one that would send him away in the surety that he passed in service to the Emperor. It was better than the death he had constructed for me.
These thoughts were more heresy. I could not allow my mind to be so clouded whilst on the field of battle. I shook my head, raised my shield on high, and charged into the room. Unlike the martyr my mind had pictured, the scene before me was one where my Captain was winning. He had the Warboss on the defensive, using his skill with a power sword to keep the massive creature at bay. Its claw, while powerful, was poor at deflecting the many blows Captain Daessios was delivering. If I joined the fight, the contest would be over before it truly began. It was that fact that made me stop.
Images kept playing in my head, over and over; beating me like a sledgehammer. While I knew it was my duty to obey my superior, my emotions held other ideas. Darker thoughts brewed in my head. Scenes like the one I had first imagined, all in gruesome detail, came upon me, each one more harrowing than the last. I didn’t want to admit it, but the more repugnant the death, the more joy I felt. Why should this man hold the chisel of my supposed tombstone, and not the other way around? The question boggled my mind for too long.
While I stood paralyzed deliberating, Captain Daessios landed the final blow. The massive Ork tripped under its own bulk, allowing my Captain to plunge his blade into the creature’s neck. It made an unholy sound as gobbits of its flesh and life’s blood spattered in random directions. It sputtered, jutting a few times before it finally lay still, unable to speak as its mouth filled with liquid. Daessios twisted his blade to ensure the kill was sound, and then removed the blade.
He stepped away from the corpse, and looked at me, staring coldly as commanded, “We are victorious this day. Bring Burns into this room if he is still able to move, the Xenos is not truly dead until it is purged in the Holy Fire of the Emperor.”
I stood motionless for perhaps a moment too long. If my Captain knew of the treacherous thoughts held within my mind, he did not show it. I nodded, and returned to the hallway where Anaiel stood tending to H’aman. When I came upon their presence, Anaiel turned to me with a grim expression. For a moment I feared the worst, but H’aman quickly dashed away those fears, sputtering garbled noises as his still body stirred. I knelt down beside the pair, inspecting H’aman’s injuries more thoroughly.
“I do not know what the Salamanders do to have such a resistance to flame, but H’aman is relatively unscathed. His burns, once properly treated, should be no threat to his life,” Anaiel explained, “The worst of it is that he is still conscious, though perhaps he views that as some sort of blessing.”
“He is our brother, I am glad he lives,” I exclaimed, truthful in that statement. While I held skepticism over H’aman’s patron Space Marine Chapter, we had fought beside each other as equals today.
Anaiel paused for a moment before asking, “Just as our Captain is?”
My head veered towards Anaiel as shock played on my face under the mask of my helmet. Anaiel’s hooded visage was stoic and masked, but I could tell he held a pained expression as he continued, “I can read your mind, Brother. We will speak of it later, how fares the Captain?”
“We are victorious,” I breathed, allowing the subject of my mental treachery to rest, “The alien lies dead. Soon his army shall too. If all goes well, we should be back at the Watchtower in a week’s time. There will be no siege.”
“Emperor be praised, our work here is nearly done,” Anaiel raised his head, a wide and weary smile spread across his face. It was contagious, for I found myself mirroring the expression.
“Captain Daessios wants to burn the carcass. You know the larger greenskins are, he could be playing dead,” I continued, remembering my purpose here.
“H’aman is in no condition to move without a gurney. Take his weapon, I will stand here and keep watch over him,” Anaiel offered, standing from his position.
I took up H’aman’s weapon, and stood as well. I nodded to Anaiel, and moved back up the stairs to where Captain Daessios stood. He was examining the room at large, one which the Orks had turned from perhaps a lobby to a munitions storage. One of the turrets that had harried us earlier stood jutting from a window, and sitting at its aiming receptacle was the body of an Ork, his head charred and glowing blue from Anaiel’s flame. Along all of the walls were crates filled with what I could only guess were spare guns and knives for the Ork chaff that had snuck around us from below.
“Does H’aman fare well?” Captain Daessios broke the silence.
“Yes- you used his real name?” I pointed out, a bit taken aback. Captain Daessios had pinned the names Burns, Witch, and Shield on H’aman, Anaiel, and myself since we were initiated into the Deathwatch.
“The mission is over, you have passed your test. You are soldiers of the Deathwatch now,” Captain Daessios explained, “I just received word that the Orks are retreating into the mountains. This planet’s guardsmen can handle whatever is left of the threat, our work is done here. Shuttles will take us back to our ship before the sun sets on this place. Emperor be praised.”
“Emperor be praised,” I echoed, “I have H’aman’s gun. He is unwell and cannot move without medical attention, but Anaiel says he will pull through in the end.”
“Burn the corpse, I shall call for an apothecary- “
Before Daessios could finish, a shadow filled the room. Darkness enveloped my vision, and at first I thought it was a malfunction in my helmet’s tracking systems. Then, I heard my Captain begin to scream in utter fury, rage, and pain. I brought H’aman’s gun high, and began to discharge it at the ceiling, hoping the fire would illuminate the room around me. It was as if the darkness itself snuffed the flames, for no light emanated from the weapon. My Captain still cried, and I heard the sounds of combat. We were being ambushed, but this darkness was nothing I had seen the Orks do before.
I heard footsteps behind me. I spun around, and hefted the shield I still carried high, going low to the ground as to avoid any fire this new combatant might unleash. I needn’t have bothered, as Anaiel’s voice sprang high, exclaiming in the words of High Gothic, “Let There Be Light!” the entire room was illuminated anew in blue radiance. I raised my head above my shield, and looked into the face of Anaiel under his heavy hood. His eyes were red in pigment and fury, but quickly sputtered into something like horror.
I turned around again to see my Captain in pieces. His arm had been severed from his body, and lay flat against the ground ten feet away from the rest of him, leaving a scarlet trail in its wake. Daessios himself was bloody as well, for gashes and cuts lined across his armoured frame, making him look more like jigsaw pieces forced together against their design than a man. His helmet was carved open, and his face, glazed with the macabre signs of death and caught in an eternal scream of anger and pain. My heretical fantasies had been realized, Captain Daessios, my murderer, my teacher, and my Captain lay dead on the cold stone before me.
His killer was not the greenskin threat we were planning to face. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, clearly not human but something disgustingly alien. Half of its body was covered, or maybe composed of, gnarled tree roots that pulasted with veins and capillaries. The rest of its body was a twisted mass of silver, chrome, and crimson, the latter of which was most clearly the blood of Captain Daessios. It had three arms and no legs, but was held aloft by some skittering creature. It was kneeling, if such an action could be conferred to this monster, next to the corpse, its hands searching along his various belt pouches and compartments.
I did not waste time with the aberration. I raised H’aman’s flamer high, pointing its deadly nozzle towards the repulsive violation of life that had taken my Captain, and unleashed holy fire upon it. The creature looked up at me with a single green eye, and snarled at me. The fire washed over it, but also seemed to pass through its carapace as if it was not truly there. It retrieved a strange staff, not too unlike Anaiel’s, and thrust it towards me. Light as green as its eye shot towards me at the pace of a bullet, and I raised my shield to hopefully deflect whatever malevolent energy it cast upon me. By the time I lowered my aegis, the creature was scuttling out of the window where it had presumably come in from.
The danger averted, I dropped H’aman’s gun, and ran towards the body of Daessios. I scanned him for any faint signs of life, but he was already gone. There was nothing I could do for him now. I looked up to see Anaiel beside me, his red eyes grim as he looked about the Captain’s corpse. In the event where Captain Daessios would fall in battle, I was to take command of our Kill Team, and it was clear with H’aman barely conscious and Daessios dead, Anaiel would look to me to find out what we should do next.
“Return to H’aman, I do not want him unguarded in his current state. I shall… I shall make contact with the nearest Deathwatch Superior, and inform him of the situation. We shall fortify this position should the creature return,” I tried to sound stern, but I was still caught with disbelief of the situation.
“Do as I command, there was one of those things, there may be more.”
“Yes sir,” Anaiel nodded his head, and walked back to H’aman without another word.
I was good on my word, and within a minute I had another Kill Team acknowledge me, and promise to be at my location within the hour. After I had made contact, I looked back at Daessios, Captain no longer. His eyes were still alight with fury, he never stopped fighting that creature. The alien was searching him for something, his pockets still lie open and mostly empty. Spare magazines for his pistol and grenades lay strewn hap-hazardly on the floor. I knelt down by him again, and began to search him myself.
He had a copy of the Codex Astartes pinned to the back of his belt, a manuscript of war written by one of the Sons of the Emperor, and the Primarch for my previous chapter of Space Marines. It was lined in gold, and held a series of purity seals signifying its holy imperative to drive back the forces of Chaos and the Heretic. His power sword was a relic he had kept from his home chapter of the Black Templars, space marine zealots who fought with the fury of the Emperor himself. It was engraved with a black cross, the insignia of that chapter. On the surface, there was nothing the alien could have made use of.
The other Kill Team arrived at our position whilst I was still looking through Daessios’s things. What happened next was a wash in my mind. An apothecary carried away H’aman with Anaiel in toe, and I remained in the room where the murder took place. The scent of death, both from Daessios and the Ork Warboss, was beginning to fill it. The Captain of the other Kill Team questioned me about the mission, how it progressed, and how it culminated into this. I answered truthfully, withholding no detail. He repeated his line of questioning perhaps fifteen times before relenting. We were all tired.
We left the manufactorum, and went to the guardsmen’s barracks. The citizenry and workers were being escorted back to their positions, the monotony of their tasks beginning to take hold again. I immediately went to the infirmary, where hundreds of guardsmen were stationed as patients. Servitors and medics ran through halls while screaming and pain seeped into the minds of all present. The casualties of war were always numerous. I decided to agree with my Captain posthumously, we should have come sooner.
I found my battle brothers sequestered away from the bulk of the suffering masses. H’aman had been stripped of his power armour, for he lay naked on the white bedsheets. His burns were attended to with sacred unguents and soothing balm. H’aman was sleeping, at peace. I craved his rest, and knew that I would be getting some soon enough.
“We are wickedly fortunate,” Anaiel broke the silence, “due to H’aman’s injuries, we’ll be some of the first to return to the ship.”
“You find fortune in this, Anaiel?” I questioned, cold in my voice.
“I find fortune in all things, the Emperor’s blessings can come in small, hidden places as well as shining, golden ones,” Anaiel smiled. It was a weary expression, one that begged me not to test his faith. I relented.
“Earlier you told me we would speak of the Captain,” I remembered.
“Brother, please, wait until we return to the ship. We need rest more than arguments,” Anaiel seethed.
I agreed with him in silence. I walked over to the wall, and tried to think of quiet things. My mind had been tumultuous throughout the entire mission, filled with heretical doubt and treason. My worst, and yet best wishes had been fulfilled with my Captain’s death, and I knew not how to think on it. I breathed deeply, and began to think about other things, simpler things. At one point, I opened my own copy of the Codex Astartes, and instinctually read a passage.
“The warrior who acts out of honour cannot fail. His duty is honour itself. Even his death, if it is honourable, is a reward and can be no failure for it has come through duty. Seek honour as you act, therefore, and you shall know no fear.”
“Daessios died with honour,” was all Anaiel responded.
“Yes. He did.”
I closed the Codex Astartes, and tasted salt on my lips.
- Join Date
- Aug 2016
Re: Brotherhood (Warhammer 40k Story)Spoiler: Chapter II - AnaielI decided not to face Theodus for the remainder of our time on the planet, I felt his pain, his turmoil every second as he did without even looking at him. Such was the curse of my so-called “gift” of psychic prowess. My mind was always hounded with the thoughts of others, and when their emotions ran rampant, it became harder and harder to block out. It was not only the screaming of Theodus’s mind that wretched at mine, but those of the guardsmen as well.
One was thinking of his leg. It had suffered tremendous damage from a frag shell mishapenly thrown by one of his compatriots. The one who had done the deed sat down beside him, praying for his safe recovery. Both knew that their prayers wouldn’t stave off major blood loss or metal poisoning. He would lose his leg before the sun set, and he was trying to stay strong and forgive his sister in arms for her poor aim.
And he was but one of thousands in the room, all awaiting treatment.
Our way back home came after thirty minutes of waiting. It was a simple shuttle, probably from the deck of the ship our Kill Team came from, the Ordo Lucis, a small ship by imperial standards. It contained the fighting force of twenty men of the Deathwatch, a veritable army that could vanquish most of anything given the time. Our forces were mustered to combat an Ork horde, one which took us nearly two months to rout. Our crusade, if it could be called, was at an end, and we were about to return home.
Apothecaries came and looked after H’aman. A few other wounded Marines were rolled onto the shuttle, along with their battle brothers, Theodus, and myself. After a preliminary flight check by the pilot, we were airborne, and quickly whisked off-planet. The Ordo Lucis dominated the in-flight view, spanning kilometers from aft to prow. Its golden heraldry shined brightly against my eyes, so much so that I had to raise a hand to keep the blinding light from singing my eyes.
Ten minutes after we broke through the planet’s atmosphere, we were docked on board the ship. The shuttle was disinfected, killing whatever spores or disease may have crawled its wretched way into our hold, and we disembarked. Serfs and tech priests came to doff Theodus’s and mine’s armour for maintenance and repainting. The process took another half hour, but it was finished nonetheless. Theodus’s face was grim and shadowed. His cheekbones were wide, but losing a battle brother seemed to have given him a gaunt complexion. His blue eyes were grayer than when I first saw them, as if some light had been snuffed. His mind still lingered on the treacherous thoughts I had sensed in the drop pod. Those thoughts worried me.
I moved to his side, and placed a hand on his shoulder, breathing, “Theodus, I must go to the logs and issue a report of our mission. After which, I will meet you in the chapel where we can discuss… matters of faith.”
“My faith in the Emperor is strong,” Theodus spat back.
“Your faith in yourself, however, is weak. The Codex Astartes teaches us that morale must be exercised like a muscle, and that leaving it unattended may be as fatal as the most insidious tumor,” I cautioned.
Theodus was silent, then he nodded once. A gesture of finality, our exchange was over, and would continue when he was ready to proceed. I nodded back, and quickly moved through the ship's halls. Waifs, engineers, and marines all passed by me, each with various functions to perform. The ship’s lighting was shaded in red, giving the whole of the vessel a rather melodic tint. I quickly made my way through the crimson halls until I found myself at the ship's dataport.
The collective storage of the Ordo Lucis spanned several rooms with stacks of drab metal boxes, but the main directory was as much a cathedral as it was a housing of knowledge. Our ship’s weapons, armour, and other technologies were all attended to by the Adeptus Mechanicus, a cult-like sect that acted with relative freedom from the Imperium of Man. Places like these where data was stored and collected acted as places of faith for the mechanism worshipping Tech-Priests of Mars.
Our ship’s resident Domina, a high ranking official in the Adeptus Mechanicus akin to a space marine Captain to their peers, hung suspended by various wires in the centerpiece of the glittering brass room. She was curled into a fetal position, her robe and various mechadendrites swayed loosely from the artificial wind of the ship. Around her sprawled monitors and wires, all interconnected into misshapen ports and plugs that, by themselves, gave off the impression of roguish ruggedry, but combined formed a mural of technological magnificence.
“Domina Artemis,” I solemnly began, unwilling to disturb whatever calculation she might be in the middle of processing, “the Commander of this vessel, this crusade, lies dead.”
“Ship trajectory veering towards common jump point, estimated power redirection sent to Navigator squadrons Alpha, Zephyr, and Charlie. Daessios is dead? Shields holding at maximum efficiency, redirecting power from aft shields to main thrusters. That is quite a shame,” she replied in murmurs. Her voice was not human, but a whirring mash of chirps and inflections that reminded me of an insect.
“Make a note in the logs, his time of death was at approximately 09:00 hours. I would also like you to send a forward message to The Watchtower, issuing them the same information I gave you as well as a request of his will and records to be transmitted to my terminal,” I commanded the creature before me. I held no emotion in my tone, for if I let out my disgust and anger at the Domina’s presence, she would surely be offended. She was a colleague, and I needed to treat her as such.
“Logged, dated, signed. Sending priority one missive for astropathic transmission to issue formal certificate of the death of Captain Daessios Marinus, member of the Custodes Mortuorum -’Death Watch’- a former member of the -’Black Templars’- Adeptus Astartes -’Space Marine’- Chapter and request documentation pending termination,” Domina Artemis repeated. Though her strange embellishments put a disquiet feeling in my mind, I nodded my thanks to her.
As I began to walk away from the shackled priestess, deeper into the data mine to issue my Kill Team’s report, Domina Artemis’s head veered towards me. Though her face was covered in metal and wires as the rest of her was, her eyes and a lock of her hair still remained. Her attention was fastened on me as she quietly spoke, “I am sorry for your loss. Stay strong, soldier.”
Her words were all too human. For a moment I forgot my disgust of what she was, and of the repulsiveness the idea of her false God drove into me. For a moment, we both stood staring at each other, one equal to another, sharing a moment of loss. It was but a moment, and it passed without words. I turned away from the abomination, and walked deeper into the catacombs of data Domina Artemis stood guardian over.
I passed glowing blue computer monitors, each one awaiting input. There were a few men and women sitting down at their stations, typing various directories and logs for the ship. I found an empty terminal, sat down, and stretched my weary hands. When I wrote of the death of Captain Daessios, I would have to write detached from emotion, lest some superior found my work not fitting with their important protocol. I took a few moments to calm myself before I began to recall the details of our disastrous mission.
I neglected to mention Theodus’s turmoil, for even though his thoughts had been heretical and insubordinate, he did not act upon them. I could not fault him for actions I only knew due to my strange powers, I could only try and help to quiet his mind. If such thoughts did continue when a new Captain was appropriated to our Kill Team, I would of course not hold back such crucial information. Men of our profession in the art of warfare must run a clean operation, or it could mean all of our doom.
It did not take me long to finish entering the report of our mission. After I was done, I stood, my task completed, and left data storage without a scance glance behind me. I walked to the ship’s cathedral, where I sensed the unquiet mind of Theodus. Words in High Gothic, humanity’s language for royalty and prayer, ran rampant in his mind. He was praising the Emperor, and begging forgiveness for his mental transgressions. I sighed as I realized he blamed himself for Daessios’s death, but I could not fault him for that. I blamed myself as well, but there was not much we could do, then or now.
I entered the golden halls of the cathedral, a large and imperial display of holy magnificence. I smiled widely as the holy light of the Emperor and his Sons’, the Primarchs, statues gleamed forth. The chapel was nearly empty now, all who paid homage to the Emperor were still being transported from the planet back to the Ordo Lucis, and the Tech-Priest’s holy halls were far and separate from our own. The only figure that stood in prayer was the trembling form of Theodus, who was kneeling before the statues, his hands clasped above his head.
“Brother Theodus, do you wish to be alone?” I asked, stopping in place a safe distance from the grieving man.
“I wish that H’aman was here with us. I wish that Daessios was as well. I do not wish solitude, friend, you’re the only one besides me who made it unscathed from the planet,” Theodus breathed, standing to face me. His cheeks were red, he had been in tears before I entered the chapel.
“Then shall we sit? We may discuss the planet should you wish, or other matters,” I offered, gesturing to the pews that lay behind us.
Theodus shook his head in one of his trademark curt nods, and began to walk to the bench. It was made of wood, a rarity on a starship. Trees were usually cut down for fire and support for terrestrial bases, finding an artifice out of wood on a space faring vehicle like the one we were on was nearly unheard of. We spent no expense when it came to prayer for the Emperor, nor the killing of His enemies.
As we both took our seats, I began by asking, “When did you first think to murder our Captain?”
“I ask out of curiosity, brother, I did not mean offense. I have told no one what I sensed in your mind, have no fear,” I raised my hands in defense.
“That is still a private matter, why must you pull things from my head?” Theodus spat back.
“He is dead, and there is no need to harbor secrets on dead men. You shall feel all the more better if you let it out than hiding it inside,” I cautioned, “Should you not wish to speak of it, however, I shall not press.”
Theodus shook his head, sighing, “You’re right. Damn you, but you’re right. You’ve seen my mind, you know what storms brew in it. How can I hope to contain the floodwaters of insanity that are so quickly festering?”
I put my hand on his tired shoulders, and smiled, “You do not have to fear me, Brother, let it go.”
“Daessios was the one that came to me, that recruited me, into the Deathwatch. He offered me a role higher and holier than the one I held, he knew I would accept it before he even came to me. He faked my death, pulled a corpse from Emperor knows where, and held my funeral. The day after I died, my men did not speak of me. They just continued, ever forward, and then I left, never to see them again,” Theodus explained, “I have so many reasons, so many… strings pulling me in so many different directions. I’m tangled, Anaiel, like a puppet with a drunken master.”
“Tell me of these strings. Treat them not as a collective, but pull at them, one by one,” I suggested.
Theodus closed his eyes, his brow furrowing as he continued, “I knew I would die in the line of duty. That is our fate, to fight until we cannot fight any longer. I do not deny my fate, nor do I spite it, but seeing my procession made me think on things. My men, they did not speak of me after the funeral. They elected a new Captain; then left my memory in the dust. Is that all my legacy shall be? A footnote in our crusade against evil?”
“Our legacy is that of the Emperor. We fight in His name, carry His banner, sing His songs, fight with His strength, and die with His blessing. We want for nothing, for to partake in our crusade is to be immortal,” I sanctified, smiling at Theodus. He smiled back, a change coming to his expression.
“I suppose I blamed Daessios for my death. I have been taught to take vengeance on my murderer, I just wasn’t prepared to serve under him. I suppose I never need to be. If my blame lies with the dead, it might as well be dead itself,” Theodus shrugged.
I looked into his mind, purposefully but quietly. I wanted to be sure he wasn’t lying or withholding some further aggression against myself or any that still lived in the Deathwatch. I saw his spirit in relative ease, the burden of blame being lifted from his shoulders. I left his mind, holding back against the tides of his thoughts once more. I sighed, smiling in agreement. I was happy that my brother was whole again.
“The creature that killed our Captain, I swear that I shall find and slay it, and that you and H’aman shall be there to witness the deed,” Theodus stated. He viewed that what he just said was a fact, and I was pressed to agree with him.
“In all your missions for the Ultramarines, have you seen such a beast?” I asked, still pondering its appearance myself.
“I have not. It may be a native of the planet below, but my instinct tells me there’s something more to it,” Theodus snarled, furious at just the pure memory of the eidolon.
“You may have a point. When I tried to sense its thoughts, I could not even detect it with my psychic vision. It was some kind of shadow in the warp, an empty space. Even Orks and Eldar can be detected with my third eye, but that thing… I do not know,” I breathed back.
“It was intelligent, it used a weapon against us. It was searching for something on Daessios’s corpse too, did you see it rifling in his pockets?” Theodus asked.
“I did. It had a purpose in killing him, and to my knowledge it wasn’t related to the Ork horde in any way at all. Perhaps Daessios’s records may shine some light on the beast. If the two had some sort of vendetta against each other, he would have reported it,” I offered.
“Did you request such when you issued our report?” Theodus questioned, sitting up again.
“I did. They are being sent by way of Astropathic transfer, if the channels are clean, we may be able to go through them during our voyage through the Warp,” I answered, smiling in hope and prayer.
Theodus sighed, his head leaning back as he smiled back, “I cannot wait to return home, such as it is. I hope we’ll have a few days to train, I feel a bit rusty with my shield and maul.”
“You were excellent with the shield, Brother,” I retorted.
“Not enough. I could not shield H’aman, nor could I my Captain. I shall not make the same mistake when we gain a new one.”
I was about to respond before my vox communicator began to thrum from an incoming signal. I pressed a hand to my ear, and quickly spoke, “Signal acknowledged. Librarian Anaiel reporting, over.”
“Your files are being transmitted to our Astropathic Choir, and your report was successfully logged within the Watchtower’s data stores,” the crackling voice of Domina Artemis issued back, “They sent a directive order to your Kill Team as well, over.”
“Orders acknowledged, report, over.”
“Orders, what orders?” Theodus interrupted.
“The Watch Master has appointed Theodus to the role of Captain,” Domina Artemis stated, “No transmittal of staff shall be given to your Kill Team until further notice. You are to inform Theodus of his new role, and hold a funeral for the fallen during Warp transit. Acknowledge, over.”
I was silent with shock, forcing the Domina to repeat, “Librarian, acknowledgement is mandatory, do you require a rereading of priority, over?”
“N-no, Domina. Orders acknowledged, I shall inform him, over and out,” I cleared my throat.
“Inform who of what?” Theodus questioned further. I could do nothing but stare at him. The man who had plotted the murder of his superior officer now held his position, and though logic and faith bade against it, I still felt a primal fear for my survival rise in my chest.
The procession of the once Captain Daessios went without much comment. He was sent into the vastness of space before our warp transit, adorned in purity seals and reliquaries. His gene-seed, his specific genetic makeup and variation on the “normal” space marine, had been recovered for the final time, and would be delivered to his home Chapter once we had returned to The Watchtower.
What was discussed by the entirety of the crew, tech-priest, marine, and servant alike, was the promotion of Theodus to the rank of Captain. Many had gone to Domina Artemis as well as our Astropathic transmissions choir about the sanctity and surety of the order. It had been triple checked by myself, and proved to be genuine. Theodus was as dumbfounded by the rest of us. We all knew that he was a Captain of the Ultramarines before being indoctrinated into the Deathwatch, but he was still an initiate into our fold. Some that held the rank of Veteran were furious that their petitions for the rank had gone not only unanswered, but unacknowledged as well.
Though the message from our Watchmaster was clear as it was concise, “Fellow members of our sect, a brother of high standing has fallen today. Daessios’s wargear shall be given to the new Captain, Theodus, a member of our fallen Brother’s personal kill team, and his remains shall be sent into the vastness of space in a summary funeral as per his wishes. We are all dead men, he is just less lively than most. We still have our sacred task to fulfill: to wipe out the Xenos enemies of man. We shall not falter in this task; we shall mourn our losses only until we have joined them. Stay strong and steadfast, Battle Brothers, and have a clear mind when you return to The Watchtower for debriefing.”
“The missive must be scrambled, check the cypher once more,” Theodus commented to me when I first told him of his new command.
“That is not how cyphers work, Theodus. If the message was scrambled, we would get nonsense instead of a cohesive sentence- “
“This is nonsense! I have barely been under the Deathwatch’s black, leathery, misshapen wing for half a century, and now they expect me to lead a ship full of veterans?” Theodus exclaimed.
“The Watchmaster will explain himself in the end. He must, for you are correct; this is madness,” I agreed.
“I was under the impression that I had to have served at least one vigil with our new fold to be even considered for promotion, why now? Why me?”
“I am not going to back this outrageous claim that you should be Captain,” I began, “but I do see at least some sense. You were a Captain of your company before you were selected, correct?”
“Indeed, I had reign over the Fourth Company of the Ultramarines.”
“This single ship is far smaller than one company. Your selection into the Deathwatch was strange enough, very rarely has a Company Captain been drawn into the Deathwatch in the past. Perhaps your experience in command is why The Watchmaster chose you for the role.”
Theodus looked at me in a stunned silence. I could sense the cogs of his mind whirring to try and formulate around the idea, though the concept was alien to him. I knew that such a power shift would damage his already fractured psyche, and that he might go mad if the proper precautions were not taken. I extended myself into his mind, attempting to soothe it given that he could not. This only drew Theodus to anger.
“Get out of my head, witch!” he screamed, the syllables reverberating around the chapel like the clang of a great bell. I was silent, unknowing of how to respond to such a slight, but soon after he had said it, Theodus apologized, “I am sorry, Brother, please forgive me. I know you are only trying to help, but… I must handle the rest on my own. I must prepare myself for Daessios’s funeral, and the speech I must give to my… my men.”
The funeral came, and went. Theodus gave hollow words, knowing that most in the room were grieving for their Captain’s loss, and did not want to look upon whom they saw as a fresh recruit in the eye. I was neither appalled nor emboldened by Theodus’s speech. His time spent as Captain had given him an orator’s tongue, but he was still too conflicted to use any weapon, including his words, to bolster anything.
I did not rejoin Theodus after the funeral, instead taking the time to tidy my quarters, as well as to begin pouring through Daessios’s data. Among official reports to The Watchmaster signed by Daessios, his personal logs were contained within as well. These documents and recordings were private in life, but now that Daessios had passed, his secrets were now ours to pilfer through, though I did not think he held any skeletons too large in his closet.
I remembered the creature that had killed my Captain, and remembered that Theodus had sworn to slay it. I still went on the theory that Daessios must have encountered its like before, and knew that if that were true, some meaning behind the supposedly random attack could be contained within the datavault. The situation surrounding the attack, now that I had some distance from it, was too clean to be mere coincidence. The fiend had lain in wait until our Kill Team had grown fat on the pride of our victory, and had shrouded itself to take Daessios by surprise. These were well thought tactics of a force that must have been keeping track of Daessios for months, if not years before.
I began to search through Daessios’s files on “First Contact'' missions. The xenos that killed him had not matched any bestiary that I had ever read, the combination of metal, plant, and organs was too unique to not be recorded. Reports of missions along that caliber in the datavault did not match the description of the creature, however, which put me at a bit of a loss. I then tried to bring up Daessios’s list of requisitioned artefacts, keeping in mind that his killer’s motive was to steal something specific from our Captain. Once again my search turned up empty.
“I noticed Daessios’s datavaults were disturbed when I tried to check them. I assume you are behind this?” Theodus spoke, standing solemnly in the doorway.
I started for a moment, cursing myself for focusing my mind so sharply on research I could not even sense my Brother’s presence coming near, “Aye- erm, yes, I did. Still doing, if you wish to join me?”
“Are you searching for suspects?” Theodus asked, taking a seat beside my terminal as his eyes scanned the screen.
“That and more,” I answered, “I’m grasping at anything at this point. I’ve scrolled through esoteric xenos encounters, artefacts that might draw the ire of such a creature, anything that might lead me to our revenge, but I’ve only found nothing of importance.”
“Then we’ve already looked through the same useless piles of data,” Theodus spat, annoyed at the lack of progress.
“I don’t know what else to do besides looking through every report he’s taken part in writing,” I sighed, just as frustrated as Theodus was.
“We must know more if we are to track down our target, our quarrel, our…”
“What are you trying to do, Theodus?”
“We have no name for the base creature that took away our brother. We must come up with something to call it. Names give resolve, if we know what to name our adversary then we will have one more weapon against it,” Theodus explained.
“Adversary. The Adversary,” I pondered, “A good enough name, I reckon.”
“Good enough indeed,” Theodus nodded back.
The Adversary. A mysterious creature not contained within the confines of a datavault whose inspiration spanned centuries of turmoil, detailed to every last drop of blood. A mischievous thief who tried to pilfer something of importance from our Captain. A barbaric brute that killed Daessios with a tactic that lacked honour or prose. This thing would be the subject of our quest, and when it will lay dead at our feet, I will shed no tear over its loss.
“Have you checked on H’aman?” I asked Theodus.
“I have. He remains unconscious. The apothecaries tell me that he should awaken after our transit in the Warp is done,” he replied.
“He will wake up to some surprising news indeed,” I jested.
“Hold your tongue, brother, or I shall pull it out for you,” Theodus growled with intense fury.
As he did so, I felt a flash in his mind, an insidious power. I could tell that even though our Gellar Fields, a masterwork of technology that kept our ship safe whilst in the Warp, was fully functional, the powers of Chaos were still influencing him. His hatred of Daessios and his position, the one he now held, were erupting like a volcano in his brain. I remembered the last time I attempted to alleviate the pain for him, and chose this time to ignore it instead. Though I began to worry that if Theodus’s madness went unchecked, what horror might he become? Thoughts of the traitor legions flashed in my head, the cultists of Chaos that sought to rend the galaxy asunder, I shuddered at their presence.
“I have wondered why H’aman is silent,” I broke the silence, “Do you know, or have you ever heard him speak?”
“No,” was all Theodus replied.
“Would you like to read Daessios’s dossiers on us? Perhaps we could learn why he chose us specifically,” I offered.
Theodus pondered for a moment, the fire in his mind growing slightly dimmer as he nodded, “I would. It would certainly answer some questions.”
I turned back to the monitor, and began to scroll through H’aman’s file first. Apparently the signifying moment that sparked Daessios’s interest was his stranding on a distant alien moon. Eldar had overrun his company with clever stealth tactics, leaving no one but H’aman alive in their command centre. H’aman, without power armour or weapons, had managed to destroy the Eldar by detonating the base’s power core, barely surviving the incident. When Daessios came to collect him, he learned that H’aman had taken a vow of silence due to the failure of his vigil for his fallen brothers.
“He’s a war hero,” Theodus commented, a fierce smile on his face as he finished reading alongside me, “I am glad to have fought by him. Glad to fight alongside him again, Emperor willing.”
“Would you like to read your file?” I asked, turning back to the monitor.
This made Theodus deathly serious once more, his pride vanishing in an instant. I cursed myself for not allowing him to enjoy the moment, but he pressed on by saying, “Of course I do. I want answers.”
I opened the document, and was immediately startled. I had expected a flow of text like the other dossiers, but instead an image flashed on screen. It was not the face of Theodus, but the face of Daessios. He was breathing heavily, and seemed to be in his chambers. I gathered myself, knowing that this was nothing more than a recording. Theodus seemed as deeply shocked as I was, but composed himself like a marine as I did.
“If you are viewing this,” Daessios began, “Then my suspicions have been confirmed, and most likely I lie dead. I trust my gene-seed has been recovered, and that my body has been shot into the vastness of space. If these circumstances have not been met, know that death will not hold back my wrath at whoever ruined my procession.”
“Was that a joke from a Black Temp-”
“Silence,” Theodus interrupted, turning his attention back to the screen.
“In any case, if my plans are going as intended, then this message will play when any of H’aman, Anaiel, or Theodus open Theodus’s dossier. I am sorry that these esoteric circumstances seem astray from reason, but by this point after my death, many things must seem strange to you. For this too, I apologize, but you must understand that secrecy must be used in my hunt for the creature that I presume will be my murderer. For this reason, the recording will delete itself immediately after playing. If any of the above three are not present for my explanation, it will make events in the future more difficult.”
“We will tell H’aman of this the second he awakens,” I assured Theodus, who only nodded and placed a finger on his lips, ordering me silent once more.
“Now then, to the matter at hand. What I am about to discuss cannot be spoken of outside of this room. This matter is highly questionable in its sanctity, but of what I understand of it, the very fate of the Imperium’s hold over our sector may be compromised. And while it shouldn’t be discussed due to its radical nature alone, I have reason to fear that the men of The Watchtower may be already... compromised.
“Nearly three centuries ago, whilst I was an initiate in the Deathwatch, our Kill Team was sent with a team of adepts lead by Domina Artemis to a world filled with ruins of an ancient xenos civilization to ensure that the machine cultists did not stray too far away from the path of righteousness. This mission began successfully, we had breached into a tomb structure that contained long dead metallic forms. They did not rouse from slumber, and their security systems did not activate. It seemed the facility had been offline for millenia, though the Tech-Priest claimed that there could be data and materials that required salvage. As we plunged deeper into the tomb, we were ambushed.
“A creature beyond description lay in wait for us. It was partly similar to the dormant metallic bodies in the tomb, though it was more organic. It had flesh, and gnarled tree roots seemed to sprout from its side. It was a repulsive creature that called a darkness so fierce that even the fluorescent lights of the Adeptus Mechanicus could not shine through it. Before we knew it, it had slain our Captain, as well as most of my Kill Team. I attempted to fire at the creature, but it fled before we could land anything of substance.
“I gave chase to it, hunting it through the ancient halls, not allowing it to escape my sight. Soon after the chase began, I had cornered it, and proceeded to battle it with my sword. It fought back rather well with its preferred weapon, a staff of some sort, but I won the battle. I plunged my sword into its skull, though it did not lay dead, even with this mortal wound. It shimmered with a green light as if displaced from our reality, and I could see through its plant like structure a green crystalline gemstone snap in half as it disappeared completely. The strange crystal fell to the ground, and without even thinking, I claimed it.
“I quickly returned to what remained of our exploratory force, who in turn gathered our dead to disembark from the tomb. We returned to our ship with our corpses sealed, and returned to The Watchtower without giving the planet below another thought. Our haste spelled the station’s doom, however, for as we carried the corpses aboard, Domina Artemis identified that nearly a billion microscopic organisms had been hiding inside them the entire time. These mechanical driven bacteria filtered throughout the whole of The Watchtower, infecting what I can only presume to be nearly the entirety of the veterans aboard before we flushed the station. I do not know what exactly this plague is, but I can guess as to its purpose: they are the spies of the creature we encountered in the tomb.
“You can confer with the Domina about the specifics of both the crystal substance as well as the disease, she and she alone can be trusted, for she wasn’t aboard The Watchtower when the contagion struck. I cannot be too specific in my recording, but what I can say is this: you are the only ones I can trust in vanquishing this creature. After I first encountered it in the tomb world, it has harried me in my entire career in The Deathwatch, and as I grow more old and complacent, I fear that it may best me one day. In that event, I have organized a contingency. I’ve recruited you three into The Deathwatch not only because you deserved it, but because we needed those of high command and venerable age and cunning to fight this xenos threat. I order you posthumously to complete three tasks: find a way to destroy the crystal, find a way to cure the veterans of whatever pox infects them, and avenge me by slaying the creature.”
The terminal flashed a bright green, signifying the recording purging itself automatically. Somehow, I knew that those words Daessios spoke to Theodus and I were to be the last this universe would hear from his lips. Theodus seemed to realize the somberness of this moment as well, and we both subconsciously bowed our heads, looking away from each other as well as our own mortality. We knew that one day, we would share our Captain’s fate. But we also knew that we had orders, and even in Theodus’s mind of turmoil, this simple fact gave us a sanctity we could not describe. Our lives had a true purpose, to fulfill Daessios’s three tasks in his honour.
“Brother Theodus,” I began, “This is… this is larger than you or I. I can sense it, and I know you can as well.”
“Our mission is clear to me,” Theodus breathed in a hollow, shakey tone, “It’s the first thing since we went planetside that has been clear to me.”
“So you will keep your title of Captain then?” I wondered, finding that it would be easier to pursue the Adversary if Theodus held some martial sway.
“Yes. I’m beginning to see that this was all planned from the beginning. Even though Daessios lies slain, his great game against the Adversary still continues with us as his pawns. I plan to win this game, but we mustn’t use the tactics that failed Daessios,” Theodus began, “Firstly, we shall keep in his line of secrecy. This alien infestation he mentioned sounds foul, and he had a good instinct to keep this information under wraps. However, I shall not sit idly by and wait for The Adversary to attack, we must go on the offensive.”
“You have a plan for this course of action?” I asked.
“The Codex Astartes preaches that a foe shrouded in shadows will always vanquish the blind marine. We must question the Domina of what she knows. She was there alongside Daessios, and must know something from her time with him about the Adversary,” Theodus declared, “If we can act on whatever information the Domina may have, we shall. Otherwise, we’ll have to procure some dataminers to go through Daessios’s dossiers. We probably should do that regardless of whether the Domina’s information is valid or not.”
“A sound plan, Captain,” I agreed.
“I haven’t been called that for quite some time, it will take me awhile to get used to the title again,” Theodus sighed, but I could feel a grim determination rise inside of his mind. His disquiet thoughts had been silenced, for now.
Before we could continue our conversation, the ship’s intercom sprang to life with the voice of Domina Artemis relaying, “Prepare for departure from the Warp, secure yourself and any loose belongings. Transit in two minutes. May the Omnissiah protect our vessel as we leave his domain.”
“I cannot stand the audacity of her by calling the Emperor that wretched name,” I spat, “I do not look forward to dealing with this technophile.”
Theodus secured himself with fastening to my wall’s railings, sitting down beside me as he retorted, “I value my storm-shield and power-mace far more than I do the tech-priests, as long as they maintain them, I shall allow them whatever contrivances they require.”
“I still find their disrespect of the Emperor appalling,” I declared, “You shall have to do most of the talking when we probe her for information. Her technical augments will leave her resistant to my powers anyway, the waves of the warp flow stronger against those who haven’t abandoned their flesh.”
“We may have to work with her more closely soon, you will have to find some way to set aside your animosity,” Theodus chided, “If your insubordination causes her to reveal our conspiracy, I will discharge you.”
“Understood, Captain. I will follow your lead as close as I am able,” I responded.
“You will follow it closer than that.”
As our ship exited the warp, the boundaries of reality seemed to shift back to normalcy. I could feel the psychic wails of the Immaterium dim to nothing more than a light sob at the back of my mind. Though as we escaped, and my mind probed instinctively to that of the station, I felt another presence. A presence that seemed all too familiar and sickening to me.
“Theodus, the Adversary, it is here, I am sure of it!”
- Join Date
- Aug 2016
Re: Brotherhood (Warhammer 40k Story)Spoiler: Chapter III - H'amanThe last thing I remembered before I awoke was burning. Not the burning fire that had enveloped me during the Ork invasion, but the holy fire that enveloped my soul. I could feel the fire of my Primarch, Vulcan, the son of the Emperor, the founder of the Salamander Chapter of Space Marines, spark a great flame within my very being. It was a warmth I had not experienced since leaving my home planet. For a moment I thought I had returned there, I thought that Vulcan himself had come from his exile to hold me in his arms.
When I fell off of the medical bed, my dream was quickly shattered. Blaring lights and deafening sounds screamed all around me. My unready mind shuddered and contorted under the pressure, and I let out a grunt of annoyance. The gutteral noise was most of all I could even speak, and even if I wanted to express my pain with words, my throat was so sore and in dire need of water that I could barely make a shout.
I got back onto my feet, and quickly went to the sink. I quickly filled and drank a small glass of water, gargled it, and spit it back down the drain. I filled it again, and drank deeply, clearing my mind. I tried to extend my senses to my body, attempting to regain control of my extremities. Once my mind had solidified into a conscious state, I opened my eyes again. I looked down to realize that my armour and clothing had been stripped away, leaving my inky black skin bare. All those of the Salamander Chapter have skin such as mine, seeming almost as if we were born scorched in flame.
I found that my clothing lay draped next to the bed where I once presumably slept. I gathered it and quickly put it on, for the red blaring sirens could only mean one thing: our ship was under attack. I left the medical area, and began to head towards the armoury. Servitors and other marines already dressed in power armour quickly moved through the halls as I did, rushing to wherever they were needed most. I did not know what foe we faced, but I knew that I needed to find the rest of my Kill Team, and report to Captain Daessios that I was fit for battle once more.
Once I had reached the armoury, I quickly found the heavy weapon station. It was a wide closet filled to the brim with high tech weaponry, containing everything from Combi-Meltas to Heavy Bolters. I gathered my trusty flamer, upon which I had painted the insignia of the Salamander Chapter, marking it from the rest as my preferred weapon. After I had hoisted my weapon from its pedestal, I went to gather a servitor to assist me into my Power Armour, showing it a prepared document containing my rank and file in place of words. After confirming my appearance, it led me into an armour station.
As I waited for it to affix my various apparel, I donned my helmet to connect to my Kill Team’s comm channel. I sent a ping notifying my presence to the squad, to which I immediately received a reply from Theodus, “Brother H’aman, your suit presence is green. I read your position as still on the ship, we need you at the Watchtower, over.”
I made a questioning grunt, unable to return his words in kind. Anaiel’s voice quickly chimed in, “Situation is a code red, brother H’aman. Daessios lies slain, and unknown alien hostiles have begun a siege of the Watchtower. Firepower is overwhelming, but we are in a position to flank the enemy. Our ship has gone mostly under their radar so far, but we must act quickly before our presence is discovered, over.”
“We’ve already been teleported onboard, redirect to Kill Team Three and regroup with us in the hangar bay. We have established a defensive perimeter, but have not encountered the enemy as of yet. Over and out,” Theodus ordered.
With all the information I needed, as well as being fully armed and armoured, I ventured out of the armoury, and quickly joined with the marines that composed Kill Team Three. We didn’t make any conversation, I couldn’t at any rate, but instead I listened to the comm channel to try and discover more information. Apparently Theodus had risen to replace Daessios in the role of Captain, and I surmised that since we had not yet encountered the enemy, he must have died during our previous mission. I did not have time nor the care to mourn Daessios’s loss, Vulcan’s holy fire was needed at the battlefront, and I was to be the one who supplied it.
I strapped myself into the teleportarium of our ship, wherein Domina Artemis herself was coordinating the various formulae the machine required to function. Whilst I still detested being shot through the machine, it made me feel slightly more safe that a Tech-Priest of high ranking was at the controls. The sergeant of Kill Team Three gave the all clear signal, informing Domina Artemis that we were ready to move out. She input a few last presses of buttons and flips of dials before a purple light enveloped me. A sense of moving through some sort of fur covered substance overtook me for but a moment before I found myself aboard the Watchtower’s hangar bay.
The entirety of the Ordo Lucis’s combative force lay stationed there; all twenty space marines of the Deathwatch as well as a few Skitarii rangers under the control of Domina Artemis. While the masked helmets of my space marine brethren were familiar enough, the Skitarii were a strange bunch. They were shorter for one, the size of a normal adult human as opposed to the enhanced height of my subspecies. They were masked with breathing apparati, as well as possessing cybernetic augments all across their body. The standard weapons they carried were not the astartes bolter, but a longrifle whose name escaped me.
I spotted Theodus and Anaiel holding council with a low ranking Engineseer, the closest thing Domina Artemis had to a field commander. While her forces were stationed aboard our ship, they were never intended for combat on this scale, and were therefore less mobilized and structured than our forces. I quickly made it to my brother’s side, resulting in Anaiel putting an armoured hand on my shoulder. I did not react.
“Our close combat teams will take the vanguard, your forces shall hold the center, and our demolitions will take the rear. I do not want grenades being haphazardly thrown throughout my home,” Theodus ordered. I could hear the faintest whisper of command in his tone, but I could tell he had not spoken in such a manner for decades.
“Affirmative,” the Engineseer spoke, his insectoid voice holding the grim resolve of war even through its emotionless mask, “I am receiving communicae from the Domina that the entirety of our ship’s forces have boarded the Watchtower, and that she is withdrawing the Ordo Lucis to a more tactical position. Disembarking from this station is no longer viable nor possible.”
“Have your commsmen made contact with the rest of the station?” Theodus asked.
“Negative. Though the channel is open and unimpeded, no one is responding. They are either incapacitated or dead.”
“Our target is the command station, then. We must know why the rest of our men don’t respond,” Theodus directed, gesturing for the Engineseer to start directing his troops into formation.
As Theodus began to direct our brothers into position, Anaiel looked to me from under the bowels of his hood, and asked, “Are you combat ready? The last I checked, you were in stasis.”
I grunted affirmatively in reply.
Anaiel gave me a hesitant look, and shrugged, “Should you falter in battle, I will have one of our brothers to send you to the back lines. As long as you can bring fire to bare against whatever is assailing us, we’ll be fi- “
Before Anaiel could finish, a luminescent blue bolt fired from the ceiling. They glistened as if they were alight with electricity, and began to land in the midst of the Skitarii troopers. One by one they fell as the projectiles landed, dead as they hit the ground. I quickly moved away from Anaiel as more shots rained throughout the hangar. I could barely see their origin in the rafters, strange and glistening humanoid silhouettes bearing sniper rifles easily as large as they were. My fire could not reach their perch, so I was forced to find some cover from their seemingly endless barrage.
“No explosives!” Theodus shouted, “The hull of this station is all that stands between us and the void!”
Marines with heavy ordinance were forced to resort to their sidearms, as was I. The marines with bolters and the Skitarii returned fire against our unknown aggressors with their standard issue weaponry, but the true heroes of this fight were the assault Kill Team. They were the marines outfitted with jump packs, short range propulsion that carried them up to the sniper’s hiding place on a gilded streak of flame. With shots coming from both to the side and below, the snipers were quickly outgunned.
One of the assault marines charged at the shadowed line, pushing one of the snipers below off of the rafter, and onto the ground level near where I crouched. The creature was a curious thing, unlike any xenos I had seen before. Most of its body was composed of some strange metal, but branches of some gnarled tree sprouted from its back and cysts of some mangled flesh pulsated with an unerring rhythm. I could see Anaiel across from me, lowered behind a covering as I was, seethe with some kind of disdain and hatred. He pointed his force staff at the creature, and called down lightning against the monster. As the bolts of mystical energy struck him, the creature pressed a hand against his chest, and dissipated in a mist of green energy.
As I looked back up to the ceiling, I could see that its companions were quickly dispatched as well. Each one puffed into a green mist, what I surmised to be the residue of some kind of transporting technology, though to where I had no clue. We quickly regrouped, and began to do a secondary headcount, finding thirteen of the Skitarii dead beyond repair. As the numbers were being drawn, I walked to where Theodus and Anaiel held conversation in a conspiratorial tone, far away from the rest of our brothers.
“I tell you, it looked like it shared some species with the Adversary,” I overheard Anaiel.
“You are certain?” Theodus asked, “This is no battle-stress?”
“You can question the assault squad, they will confirm it with their description,” Anaiel assured.
“That is work to be done after the battle, right now we need to mobilize an offensive. Our position has been discovered, we need to move.”
I approached them, my flamer clutched closely to my chest, and carefully turned my head to each marine. Anaiel’s face seemed to contort in frustration as he looked to the masked presence of Theodus. My new Captain shook his head, and turned to me, “After the battle, we will discuss what transpired in your absence.”
I nodded my head, and turned towards the hangar bay’s exit. It was a massive hallway that led to a myriad of crisscrossing paths, but if Theodus’s plan was to be followed, we were to head straight forward to the elevators. The command centre was at the very height of the Watchtower, with the cargo elevators being one of the few ways to gain access. Should our enemy have short circuited the machine, the Engineseer could easily repair it, leaving us with the unspoken directive to protect the tech-priest as our highest priority. Our enemy had not hidden their motives by targeting the Skitarii first, they sought to destroy all of our technical support to ensure that we stayed grounded.
As we began to move through the hallways in formation, we began to see the corpses of our fallen brethren. Some bearing power armour, showing that they had died in defense of our home, while others bared their light armour, having been killed in the enemy’s initial coming. It was strange how the xenos had dodged all of our early warning systems, seemingly invisible right up until they were on top of us. Could they have some cloaking technology? Anaiel seemed to not have noticed the snipers that ambushed us, perhaps they held no psychic presence? The puzzle plagued me as well as most of my brethren, I assumed.
As we ventured further into the hallway, shots rang down upon us like before, breaking my train of thought. More Skitarii fell to blasts, but this time we were quick to react, and expected resistance. Our long range fire quickly found the source of the assault, and returned their barrage with our own, quickly dispatching them. More Skitarii lay dead, but not a single space marine, confirming our suspicions that they were targeting the mechanicus envoy.
“Engineseer, order your Skitarii to spread out amongst our ranks! Make it harder for the enemy to locate them!” Theodus cried from beside me.
“They’re shrouded in bright red robes, Theodus, and we’re wearing black power armour,” Anaiel pointed out, “What good will this do?”
“They’re shorter than a marine. We will take the fire for them,” Theodus quickly responded.
“You want our brothers to die for these techno cultists?” Anaiel seethed.
“Do not question my judgement. I am your Captain, and I believe that if we are to regroup with any survivors here, we must have an adept to secure our facilities.”
“By your command, Captain,” Anaiel muttered.
I cared not for the Skitarii, one way or the other. They were but soldiers fighting the same enemy I was, even though they held a faith not in the Emperor of Mankind, but in their Omnissiah, their great machine. They still served humanity, supplying us with weapons, technology, and starships. My own flamer was crafted within the forges of Mars, as well as my power armour. In part, I owed my life to the techno savants, for many of the foes that would have slain me have fallen to the weaponry that they created. The animosity that Anaiel held was not unwarranted either, for those who did not hold faith with the Emperor and his teachings may be subject to the ruinous powers of Chaos, the daemonic forces of the warp.
As we continued along through the gothic halls under buttresses inscribed with artwork of intrinsic design, more of the xenos assassins continued to harry us along our way. Theodus’s plan worked, however, as casualties among the Skitarii line lowered as they hid behind our brothers. During the fourth assault, however, one of the xenos landed a shot into the Engineseer, causing most of the Skitarii linked to him to buffer for a moment. Like all who fell under their strange projectiles, the Engineseer crumpled to the floor, dead.
“Son of a mutated mongrel!” Theodus cursed as he saw the Engineseer on the ground, “Anaiel, send a message through the warp to the astropaths of the Ordo Lucis, we need the Domina to link to the Skitarii or else the enemy will have us in their clutches.”
“Immediately Captain,” Anaiel quickly replied, hunching over to concentrate over his psychic ruminations.
We dispatched the snipers as we had before, but remained in cover until Anaiel’s message went through. He reported that the Domina would exit the warp as soon as she could, but that she could not remain close enough to link to the Skitarii for long. The enemy’s warship was still returning fire to all of our craft, and though the Domina had kept a healthy distance before when we teleported in, the distance required to link into the Skitarii’s hive mind would put her in close proximity to the warship. We would not have much time to reach the cargo lift, we could no longer pursue this dogfight with the enemy, we had to advance.
Fire rained down upon us as the xenos teleported from perch to perch, staying just in range with their strange rifles. We did not return fire as before, we simply ran as fast as we could to the end of the hall. Once we had reached the lift, we found our suspicions to be correct, it had been deactivated by some kind of technical mishap. The remaining Skitarii, now under the control of the Domina herself, moved quickly to the doors and began to apply their rites and sanctions of the holy machine, attempting to coax the lift back to life. Meanwhile, our brothers and I formed a phalanx to our rear, returning the snipers’ fire.
“Captain, the Domina reports that the stress is beginning to wear on the Skitarii’s consciousness, we need to find some way to smite the enemy, now!” Anaiel reported.
“All marines, activate your magnetic fastenings. Demolitions Kill Teams, blast a hole in the hull near the xenos,” Theodus quickly ordered through the vox, his message relaying to the rest of the marines.
No one had no time to argue against what I thought was an idiotic plan. I quickly found a position near a wall, and held onto it. I kicked my fasteners on, locking into position, and secured all of my weaponry. Should Theodus’s plan be set in motion, the vacuum of the void outside would draw us with incredible force out to where the battle in space took place. Even the xenos’s teleporting technology might not be reactive enough to transport them to safety, though it was a gamble that may cost us our lives should the force of the void be stronger than our blessed armour.
The howling blasts of rocketfire took place, opening a hull near the xenos as planned. They were clearly surprised, and plummeted out into the inky blackness above. I felt its claws on me too, my body seemingly wishing that it could join the xenos in their ascent into death. My armour held fast, however I could not say the same of my other brothers. While most of us were protected, one marine with a faulty fastening quickly began to drag towards the hole in the ceiling. One of his teammates who wasn’t as unlucky reached out to him, attempting to drag him back down in desperation. This only caused them both to be wrought from the ground, and plummet into the void above. The void was not to be denied its prize.
“Hull breach detected,” a mechanical voice sounded all around us, “applying quick-fix.”
The breach was sealed by some form of metal, however the room had become depressurized, meaning that the gravity in our section of the station would be extremely low. We all deactivated our fasteners, but made sure to keep a hand on the railing so as to not float away. Soon after, the cargo elevator doors opened, the expansive lift was as large and as full of grandeur as the halls we stood in. We all quickly filed into the elevator, closing the doors behind us. Theodus ordered one of the Skitarii to activate our ascension to the command centre.
“Seventeen Skitarii, one Tech-Priest, and two battle brothers,” one of the veteran space marines spoke solemnly, “that was the cost of your planning, blue-blood.”
“How dare you speak in such a manner to your Captain!” Anaiel seized.
He seemed as he wanted to continue, though before he could Theodus held up a hand. He walked slowly towards the veteran, and responded, “Twenty-three Skitarii and eighteen battle brothers owe me their lives, including you. Do you know how this came to be?”
“Luck,” the veteran snorted.
“Unity,” Theodus turned, now speaking to all who listened in the elevator, “It came to pass that we survived by acting not as a mass, but as part of one whole. We are one army, we are the forces of humanity, the Emperor’s will. Those who oppose his will shall fall before us, screaming obscenities and praises to their false gods. Their lamentations will fall upon deaf ears, for we have no time, patience, nor care for that which we face. We go to purge, not to squabble. You may argue my tactics later, but if you do so again now, I will take action against you. Do not forget your place under my command.”
“Understood, sir,” the veteran stood at full attention now, though his true emotions were masked beneath his helmet.
The rest of the elevator ride was spent in silence. I considered our lethal transit through The Watchtower’s hallowed halls, and found that I fell in agreement with Theodus after all. While it was too early for me to tell whether I approved of the choice to place him in command, I could see that he was at the very least deserving of the title. He led the charge with prose, skill, and cunning, and wasn’t quick to lead with drastic actions. His calm had secured us into victory, and it would be rude of me to ignore it as the veteran had.
As the doors prepared to open once more, Theodus took up his shield and maul and boomed out orders, “Shield brothers take up a position in the front, all other battle brothers stand in line ahead of the Skitarii, we may still require their service.”
The marines fell in line quickly as the powered doors slowly began to open. I took position behind our shield wall as instructed, which blocked the majority of my vision into the control centre. As soon as a wide enough entry was permitted, the shield wall began to slowly advance. I took up stride with them, the visage of the room around me becoming clearer with each step. The first thing I, and probably everyone else noticed, was the blood lining the walls.
Some men were still hunched over the consoles lining the perimeter of the space around us, unknowing of when they died so focused was their toil. Arcs of red dashed about fervently and vividly, a mural depicting the slaughter. I looked back to Anaiel, his face akin to stone under his hood, though his eyes were singing with the same sorrow as the corpses. He could feel the last psychic shrieks these men and women cried, or so I assumed. As we walked further in the room, his face turned to confusion, and suddenly horror.
“Theodus! Some of the brothers stationed here are still alive!” Anaiel exclaimed.
“How do you figure?” my new Captain asked.
“I can sense their presence in the warp, it’s subdued but present,” Anaiel explained, “Perhaps our Adversary used something to put them in stasis?”
There was a deeper meaning behind Anaiel’s words, an inflection that was easy to miss but definitely present. I had suspicions that there was a sort of conspiratorial nature between my fellows, but they were all but confirmed in that one exchange. I remained silent, but knew that their promise to inform me on events that I’d missed while in recovery would be one that I would ensure they kept, or else.
Before Theodus could offer a comment back, something strange happened. A vibrant darkness began to emanate from the other side of the control centre. It was unlike anything I had seen, almost as if someone were shining the opposite of a flashlight who’s baleful absence promised to permeate throughout my very soul. Theodus shouted a wordless command, one which would need to be translated to any disgusting xenos language. He was speaking in the language of war, a primal dialect who’s meaning meant “extinguish all who stand in my path.”
Everyone fired into the core of that unnatural darkness, including myself. However, even my flames could not pierce the veil that seemed to stretch further and quicker with each passing second. It was the holy light that emanated from Anaiel’s staff that shone true, a blue radiance forged within the fires of faith by the Psyker. It shined like the burning embers of Vulkan I had felt a few hours ago, making me feel as if I was home again.
I did not allow these soft emotions to alter my aim, only allowing them to bolster my resolve. A steady gout of flame rushed from between the phalanx of shields before me as our grouping of soldiers advanced towards the source of the darkness. I heard the shriek of a xenos, warbled by the loud cacophony of bolter fire, but present nonetheless. It was speaking in the lingua of war as well, though not as I would expect. Instead of wailing in the presence of the Emperor’s Chosen as it should have, it yelled in defiance. The creature was either so unintelligent as to be non-sentient, or it had a bravery it had yet to prove.
In either case, I did not falter in discharging my weapon upon it. I could see its presence through the shield wall, but just barely. It had a green light emanating from within its chest, and was composed of both metal and flesh like the rest of the xenos we had encountered. This one did not possess legs, however, but was mounted upon a skittering creature which was currently attempting to carry its rider away from the torrent of fire and up onto the ceiling. I trained my weapon upon both steed and master, not allowing either to leave my sights.
We were clearly winning. Though the creature had some form of shielding from our weapons, it was sustaining damage at a pleasing rate. However, it did something curious to disrupt the field of battle. It extended two of its three arms towards us, the hands and fingers of which were made of some sort of vine or tree-based plant matter. It seethed something in a lexicon so vile and foul as to be entirely inhuman. The words it spoke gnarled their way into my very soul, snuffing the feeling of sanctity and homeliness in totality. The sentence forced me to close my eyes, and I felt a trickle of blood run down a nostril and into my mouth.
When I opened my eyes again, I noticed that I had fallen to my knees in desperate prayer without even realizing it. I quickly stood, turning around in confusion as a deafening silence had enveloped the room. I could only see two other figures moving as I did, that of Theodus and Anaiel. The rest of my brethren were completely still, their weapons and bodies frozen in the exact pose they held when I was forced to shut my eyes. A somber and repugnant laughter filled the room as the mounted, putrescent enemy fell behind our lines, wielding a staff and a wicked grin of malevolence.
This was the first time I had a real chance to study the appearance of the creature we had clashed unexpectedly with. I could see that its head and right arm were formed of shimmering metal with veins of green light travelling down from the glowing, cyclopean eye all the way down to its vile fingertips. Its left side and the majority of its torso was composed of a mix of diseased flesh and ugly roots of some long dead plant. It had two left arms, each one clawed and red with blood. It was the most awful thing I had ever seen, making my eyes wish they had an equal amount of functionality as my vocal chords.
“You three are new,” the creature spoke in High Gothic, its voice making a mockery of our holy language, “The contagion has yet to take hold.”
Anaiel interrupted the creature’s train of thought by shrieking a spellwork of fire at its pristine, shining face. The xenos phased out of existence in a rush of green light, reappearing next to Anaiel in a similar flash. The Psyker attempted to strike at the offender with his force staff, but the creature simply batted the inscribed weapon away with its own alien stave. It then sent one of its thorny left arms through Anaiel’s midsection, piercing through his power armor as it were nothing more than parchment. My brother’s face contorted in pain as he dropped his staff, and fell to the ground with a thunderous crash.
Theodus screamed in a rage, charging the creature with his shining maul held high. He led with his shield, however, bashing the xenos in the midsection, forcing it back. He used what appeared to be a counterbalance in its stance to advance with his mace, offering it quick and savage blows to the face and side. The xenos had successfully cheated my comrade, however, and used its skittering mount to crawl onto the body of Theodus himself. The steed it employed had a number of sharp metal talons that it used to scratch and harry Theodus, forcing him to redirect his attacks onto it instead of its rider.
Meanwhile I had regained my senses, and thrust the edge of my flamer towards the stain in my eye, the enemy of mankind. Before I had the chance to spurt a gout of flame into its repulsive carapace, it noticed that I joined the combat. In a flash lasting less than a second, the skittering pair walked over Theodus. The creature struck Theodus in an arc across the back with his staff, resulting in an eruption of blood from the marine. My Captain fell to the floor, dazed in a haze of newfound pain as his aggressor charged at me.
In comparison to my brothers, I was a novice at melee combat. While I felt confident in my ability to dispatch enemies of the Emperor in melee with a skill similar to my own, I had just watched this creature dispatch two masters at close combat with relative ease. I had no choice but to continue shooting flame as it charged, hopeful that it would lay dead at my feet by the end of its charge. It did not, and I knew that my end was coming.
It used its skittering mount to trip me, bringing me face first with the floor. The creature then used its many arms to turn me on my backside, and pinned my neck to the ground with its staff. It pulled my flamer away from me, throwing it to the other end of the room. It leaned over my face as I thrashed, wishing it with all my faith in humanity dead, but my prayers went unanswered. Its metallic face was locked in a perpetual smile, and its eye lit up as it stared into my helmet.
“Tell me, human,” its insipid words began, “where your Captain’s living quarters lay within this childish attempt at engineering?”
Suddenly my mood changed. For a moment I wanted to worship this creature before my Emperor. Its soothing tone and beautiful appearance left my awestruck. I wanted to tell him where every room on every floor of The Watchtower was, I wanted to tell him about my home on Nocturne, how in the evenings the sun would sit magnificently above a fiery mountain just beyond my viewing port. I wanted to tell him all of this and more, but was unable. My voice had been gone for decades. I could have replaced my mangled throat with a vox implant, but wished for no cybernetic tampering to act as a lesson upon myself to never be complacent. My holy vow of silence may have just prolonged my life, and I silently praised the Emperor as I could now feel his hand on my shoulder.
The xenos was dumbfounded, and stood speechless for a few seconds. It cocked its head in what I could only assume was impatience, “Speak up, human, I cannot hear you. I command you to tell me where Daessios hides my prize from me!”
Again I felt the feeling of utter submission to the creature, and again it was swiftly replaced by pure piety. I shook my head in defiance, and raised my sidearm to its face. Before it had time to react, a round from my bolt pistol landed squarely in its face. All bolt weapons operate similarly to each other. The standard bolter fires rocket propelled projectiles which lodge themselves in a target before erupting in a holy explosion. While the eruption from a bolt pistol round is lesser than that of a full sized bolter, it could still rip off a grown adult’s arm in a single shot. It turned the alien’s rueful face into a pleasing concordance of agony.
It shrivelled away from me, using its arms to clutch at the now gaping hole in his head. Dark blood ran like a geyser from the wound, the first true strike landed upon it during the battle. I kept firing into it while I ran towards the nearest patch of cover. I could worry about the members of my Kill Team later, I had the enemy on the defensive. I continued to spam the form of the xenos until my clip ran empty. I was about to load another when my vox began to spurn with static.
The voice of Domina Artemis pierced my ears. Though she had installed many systems that dulled her emotion, I could almost taste her fear as she spoke, “Magnetic fasteners on all ground team members status green. The Ordo Lucis has sustained too much damage. Current trajectory places the ship on an impact trajectory with The Watchtower, repeat impact imminent!”
I tried to move away from the windows but my feet were sealed with the cold steel ground below. I turned my head to view the Ordo Lucis’s figurehead bearing directly towards the space station. I turned back around when I remembered I was in combat, but the monster had apparently seen the ship coming before I did. It was already gone, disappeared only to the Emperor knows where.
I bowed my head in prayer, hoping that the collision would not cost this team more lives. The Emperor protects, I told myself, and in my heart I knew it to be true. It was my mind that doubted, the mind always leads to doubt. But, the rhythm of my heart kept me steady. It was interrupted by a noise so loud and tumultuous I thought that it would fry my eardrums, deafening me along with my already annoying physical maladies.
When I opened my eyes, I found they were still closed. I had lost consciousness, or probably worse. I did not know where I was, nor where I was going, but for the third time that day I felt Vulcan’s fire. A burning sensation that did not wrack the nerves and singe the brain, but bolstered the heart and fortified the soul. I knew then that it did not matter where I was going. As long as I could still feel the fire in my breast, I knew that all would be well.
- Join Date
- Jun 2019
Re: Brotherhood (Warhammer 40k Story)
Exemption from double posting rule for above posts.