Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Ezekiel
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Ezekiel

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Among the howling peaks of Hymalazia the air had almost remained pure. The heavy corruption that scoured the planet, unable to rise to the pristine height of the great mountains, the pinnacle of the world.

Here three figures remained, stoic against the howling winds which could rip a mortal man from the mountain and cast them into oblivion. One stood, surveying both his companions and the world beyond. From these peaks, the world stretched out below, an unending view of dust and smog wreathed landscapes, many of which had once been the great oceans, now retracted to what the world that had been could only consider poisonous saline lakes. The world that was, would be his, and by extension, all of humanity. The true sons and daughters of mankind who would rule the stars.

The standing figure was a being of cosmic proportions, a towering giant wreathed in supernatural power, howling as loudly in the mind as the wind did in the air, clad simply in the dark armour of his people, and nothing more, against the biting mountain cold.

The kneeling figures were barely less impressive, humanity writ large, albeit in a starkly different manner. One had stoic features, at odds with the savagery of the armour he bore, the other embraced it, a warlord of epic proportions, ready to strike at those who would risk his master’s ire. Both were wrought from the same genetic perfection, but they embodied different aspects of the forces beneath the command of the towering godly giant. One would lead the belicose legions of the Thunder Warriors, the other would command the noble forces of the Custodians, even if both were ultimately drawn from the latter’s number.

“Aristagorus, we have received the response from the warlords of Gyptus, from the self-proclaimed Dynasts of their ancient cities.”

“What tell the wordsmiths, Oh Emperor?”

“They have seen the fealty of the Achmaenid Empire, and described it was weakness. Many of our servants were slain for the peace and unity they offered in good faith.”

“Unleash us, Sire, let us show them the folly of their arrogance.”

“Your request is my will, you shall take the Imperial Army, take my Thunder Warriors. Cast down the dynasts, take their riches as your spoils, yet those who bend their knees may keep their lives. That is the will of your Emperor.”

“So shall it be, in your name.” As he spoke, the wilder figure, Aristagorus, rose from his kneeling posture, bowing his head to the Emperor once more, before noding in familiarity to the other figure, still upon his knees. The dark tan of his skin casting back the gleaming of the mountain Sun. “When next we meet, it shall be in our shared glory.” Then he strode down the mountain, a bulwark against the raging storm.

The remaining figure, Valdor, remained in silence, as immune to the bluster of the departing figure as the mountain itself was from the storm, no matter how it raged.

“I have another duty for you, Constantin Valdor.”

“Speak it and it shall be so, My Emperor.”

“A matter of greater finesse. The Terrawatt Clans of the North have sought my aid, the barbarians of Ursch threaten them, and so they may yet be brought into the fold. We are not yet positioned to wrest the North from the hated-Patriarch, yet we may aid and appraise. Select those you trust with such duty, and find your measure of these Clans.” The Emperor, a corona of ligth from the storm about it, spoke with as much force as the wind. “It is a matter of less honour, but its execution is as important.”

“The only honour I seek is your own, the only glory I seek is humanity’s birthright.”

“Then be about your duty.”

—---



[The Delta Nilus] [Siege of the City of Memphos]


“Turn back! His Divine Majesty Commands You!”

The battle cry, or prayer, it matter not, was fiercly meant, screamed from the lips of a true believer, as one of the robed warriors of the enemy crashed down upon their target.

“Your gods are not here, little man, just me.” Aristagorus’ fist met the warrior as he lunged through the air, catching him before he could land, let alone land a blow. The gene-enhanced armoured fist of the Emperor’s Champion caving through rudimentary armour, blood, and bone with ease. Where once there was man, there was suddenly red mist, the baseline human bisected by the force of the punch alone.

The tribune fought bare faced, his helmet clamped to his side, as he and his warriors pushed through the outskirts of the ancient city. He relished the taste of war, the adrenaline of perceiving the war with his true sense. His features were handsome but harsh, bronzed skin bare of any hair, with eye nearly golden in their vibrance.

All along the Delta Nilus, so named for the ancient river which had once fed this ancient land, now simply a spider’s web of barely fertile channels in the desiccated desert, battles were raging as the forces of the Emperor, along with his new Imperial allies, pushed against the cities of the Gyptus. The enemy were not strongly united, the towering cities of the Gyptian Dynasts each wielding armies and wealth in their own right, but they were dug in, and to turn them out of each city was a battle of fierce intensity. Memphos was the largest of the Northern Gyptian cities, boasting the grandest of the great Temple monuments in the region. To cast it down would be a great victory, a triumph of the Imperial Truth over this heathen religion.

Aristagorous cared little for the complexities of his creator’s vision or beliefs, but he did for the opportunity for conquest, to lead his warriors in glory and to hear the lamentation of his enemy.

With brutal efficiency, he lead the Thunder Warriors with him through the building, they were warriors unto his nature, ethused by the slughter yet not entirely lost in it like the savages to the North. Mortal men fell before them in such close confines with ease, no amount of desperate prayer or begs for mercy would save them. Their overlords had refused to kneel even when the armies of the legions massed beyond their city, now the fools would pay the price for following the wrong lord.

A victorious roar of triumph left his lips as he bursed through the final doorway onto the roof. The heavy side arm he wield in one hand barking with great force, the stub rounds boring clean through the first two assailants. The target of the strike, the automated artillery defence gun which continued, even as its defenders fell, to pound away into the night, was finally silenced with the throw of his spear, the weapon crushing into the firing mechanism and finally ceasing the attack. As he did so, a resounding crackled chorus of vox reports in his ear informed him that similar strike groups had cleared their targets, the army could continue its adance.

“Move into the city, let them know the folly of defyin us, men of the Emperor!” The order was simplistic, but the plan had been constructed to greater detail before the strike. Now they would simply claim what was their right.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by grimely
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The soft scratches of quills upon vellum filled the campaign tent, a constant drone of activity. In this age of barbarity and strife such was a wonder in its own right, for learned men were rarer than conversion beamers. But the Sigilites were collectors of many rare things, their stores of knowledge the most carefully guarded trove of those riches. By the will of the Emperor and the assent of their Grandmaster, they had poured their efforts and into energy not into the preservation of antiquity, but the prosecution of war.

Reports from the five offensives flooded into a command post well behind the lines, in the deserts of the ancient Sinai. The combined forces of the Emperor and his newest vassals, the Achaemenids, had swept over those sands like the night wind. Only the fortifications of Gyptus's temple-cities withstood the fire and fury that the Emperor's chosen now unleashed, but a war is waged by more than warriors.

Within the back lines, a web of logistics and information spread, trailing behind the Thunder Warriors. They cared little and noticed less for the military administration left in their wake, but all knew its absence would be keenly missed. It was the job then of these scribes to ensure that they were never thought of, to wage war with a pen and scroll. Shipments of ammunition and fresh armor was constantly sent forward by truck, beast of burden, and porter, returning with the wounded, the dead, and whatever gear they could carry. Figures were tallied, need assessed, triage and repair performed, and the Army fought on without sparing a thought for how they always had new rounds to fire.

At the center of this web of information, this churning edifice of blood and treasure that reduced men to mere numbers, sat one man. Malcador, Master of the Administratum, had come to Gyptus to oversee its fall - and to ensure the integration of the Achaemenids into his master's realm. He had yet to take to the field, but as the sieges ground on and the slaughter continued with no end in sight, many whispered that the time would come that he would set aside his pen and pick up his staff.

But not yet. Not with forms left to sign and orders to approve.

War did not wage itself.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Redcord
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INITIATE


Stav shivered under the cold light of illumination.

The golden men had come to his village, speaking of the Emperor and his tithes. He had remembered when other men had come, speaking of the same things when he was younger. He had always hated those men, the way they smiled while stealing his family’s hard labors for themselves. He had tried to stop them, once, only to be slapped aside by the burly men. His mother had screamed so shrilly for him that he felt the lance of fear stab deep–but not for himself.

Yet those days were gone. When the golden men came, they brought with them tools. His village had gotten access to clean water. A doctor had come into town to speak with their healer. And once a week Stav had to go to a ‘school’ to learn. It made his head hurt sometimes, but his mother always smiled at him when he came back. So he stuck to it, unlike some of his friends.

But when the golden men came for their tithes, they pushed aside the grains offered by the villages. Shook their heads at the young men offered up for service in the Emperor's armies. Even when the village's meager collection of weapons, meant mostly for the militia, were offered up that too was denied. No, the golden men wished for the village's children to be lined up and inspected. That had happened once before, when the doctor came, so many thought little of it.

It was when the golden men started to pick children from the line that murmurs ran through the village.

Stav could still remember the moment when he was picked. The golden men had poked and prodded at him, muttering to each other about things that he couldn’t even begin to understand. His mother wept when they took him, alongside the others, the bag of coin sitting by her feet untouched. He was to be of service to the Imperium, the golden men promised his mother, and him. His destiny was for greater things.

And so now the boy stood in a sterile medical room, squinting under the bright lights and trying not to squirm as the massive man in front of him examined him. He and the other children were put into a big truck, where there were no windows and the air was stale. They had driven for a long, long time. So long that the boy had lost track of where they were. When they finally left the truck, it was to find that the sky had gone away. They were underground, it was explained. Little more was given. So he and the other children had been separated, led through the expansive underground tunnels.

And now he was here, being poked at by a giant.

The man was tall. Taller than any Stav had seen before. The only ones as tall as he were the great armored warriors of the Emperor. Big as them, too. He had never seen a man as large as the giant in front of him. And even in his tiered confusion, Stav couldn’t help but gape.

The giant was muttering to himself, words of ‘compatibility’ and ‘genetic’ structure’ being as strange as the stars to the young boy. Eventually he couldn’t keep his silence for much longer.

“Wha’s happening?” Stav asked, shifting in his seat.

The giant shifted, looking away from his notes to Stav. The boy couldn’t help but shiver as the eyes that sat in a square, squat face stared directly into his.

“Merely some preparation. Medical work.”

Stav tilted his head. “For wha’? Wheres moma? She-”

“For something a long time in the making.” The giant said, cutting Stav off. The boy felt a spark of irritation, but the giant continued. “You see, child, the Emperor has need of you. He asked for you specifically.”

Stav perked up. “Really?”

“Oh yes,” the giant said, an indulgent smile on his face. Stav missed the overt sweetness in the mans voice, too excited by the thought of being chosen for something by the Emperor.

“He needs strong men, you see. Heroes. You have been selected for such a task.” The giant said, walking closer. In the bright light, the stylized three glinted on his white robes. He laid a massive hand on Stav’s shoulder, practically swallowing it whole.

“Like the Thunder Warriors?” The awed whisper swept through Stavs lips. Young as he was, even he knew of the Emperor's grand warriors. Smashing the evil people and bringing food and water to everyone, making things better like heroes should.

The giant shook his head, and Stav couldn’t help but think back to how similar this man looked to the Emperors grand warriors. But there was something different about him. Smaller, compared to those titans.

“No, my boy.” The giant said. “Something better.”
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Ever Faithful
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Ever Faithful Will always be Ever Faithful

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Gallia

It was a night like any other and although the planet is no stranger to meteors and comets but from the dark and heavy clouds forming a blanket under the night sky, a single sphere of bright pure light descended onto the earth at a speed uncharacteristic of a falling star. However, the landing remained violent and dinning for the inhabitants unfortunate enough to be too close to the vicinity. Yet, any would-be witness would have seen the unadulterated glory of the impact site. A circle of shattered trees, splintered stones, and pulverized dirt. What should have been the shattered remains of rock from space were instead a pod forged of metal and polished to perfection. The shape and material were completely alien to the human settlers on this planet.

The first people to discover this artifact was a small retinue of nuns, armed with holy scripture and blessed weapons made of metal and wood, who approached the landing side with anxious wariness. After an eternity of fighting undead horrors, strange objects falling out of the sky indicates extreme boons or curses. But much to the relief of the human women clad in habits and armor, the pod opened, and after the smoke and steam dissipated, revealing a small baby girl. Healthy and untainted by mutation and corruption alike. They took it as a blessing from their god, a sign of deliverance.

A small lock of raven hair was already growing on the babe's head as the women took turns examining her. After the moment of respite, the nuns wasted no time taking the baby home with them with her pod in tow. Once arriving at their sacred church and home, the youngest members returned to their beds after storing away the pod while the eldest nun and leader of the expedition party offered one more prayer of joy and resolution before retiring for the night. In her aging mind, she called for a name from her god for the child delivered from the heavens. Looking over at the side to see the child sleeping peacefully and undisturbed in the crib, one name immediately popped into her head:

Muriel.

But in the back of her mind, the elderly nun also felt a tinge of pity and remorse. This lost child was cast onto a dying world where men and women hide behind tall stone walls, where towns and cities were islands waiting to be swallowed by the flood, and where death was never too far away...
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Jamesyco
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Gerbil in the mountain


The sands looked like a delicate silken blanket, he thought. The sand storm was coming from the southeast, but a more significant storm was coming from the north. There was war brewing, and people were migrating to and from that ancient kingdom; he knew that kingdom; he had made a pilgrimage through it in some distant time, but that was just a distant time, and it cost him his life. Then, you had to travel to what was considered the holy lands, even though he always considered an area a few hundred miles to the North West more sacred to at least himself.

He took a deep breath and was thankful that the sand hid the mountain; only small stony cracks littered the sand would hint that this ancient mountain was standing sentinel, one of the last in the range not wholly covered by sand, if not the last. It meant he didn't have to concentrate on hiding it that much. But, he knew there would be some trying to seek refuge, he knew it would be sooner than later. They would come looking for a sanctuary of old, at least that is what some stories had said, of a ghost that spent his days looking over tombs of old kings. That valley was to the East, but he realized stories and traditions would last through ages regardless, he had some of the books and studies of the old kingdoms of far ancient times, and he had tablets from those days as well somewhere in a vault below him.

The man stood there on a dark red rock wrapped in cloth as if he was a mummy from those old times, cloth in thin binds wrapped around his body with a thicker loose cloak that clung to his old frame. He had an old-looking telescopic seeing device, it was several feet in length, and he stood with a secondary staff to hold the end up, mainly so that it would not droop and so he did not drop it on accident. He wished he had the boy with him to carry it, but he was asleep and ill. He would not have him come up from down below just to stare across empty sand. Not that he needed to see what was coming, he could see that either way and keep himself and the few with him hidden from it all, but what about those fleeing from war to come, or from other things.

"I should prepare for guests maybe; I could take in the few that walk the right direction, maybe hide myself a bit longer... I could plant more in the basin, no one can reach there, and I could keep a few more mouths live longer, and maybe I can get a few smart ones as well." He had realized he was talking to himself, and that he was alone. "They can help regrow... and no... there are many in this world who would burn it in industry should it get out, but I can only hope there are some old souls who would wish to see an ocean again... I know I would..."

He looked down at the ground and saw a small rodent; there had been similar rodents long ago in the desert. He slowly lowered his hand, and it jumped into it, moving up into the cloak and popping out near his neck. He knew it, he knew most of the living wildlife in the area, and he would protect them. He was thankful that he had not had to hunt anything near the mountain in almost fifty years, he wouldn't be able to now. Too much rested upon it. He moved the telescope back to his eye as he stared, and then he stared further, reaching out with his mind to see. He saw a lot, but he hated knowing what would come next. He shook his head, and began to push the seeing device back into place, placing a leather cover over the glass end. He took his staff that it was perched on, and he just sat down on the lip of the rock he stood on.

"Fifteen minutes and a storm will come over this mountain; for those fleeing, I bet most will die to it, buried under a mountain of sand, under irradiated glass shards that burn and melt into their flesh." he took a deep breath, and sighed, "Come, little friend, let's go to where it's safe..."

Within minutes, the two moved down to the base of the rock and down the sand until he came to a flat in the sand, he turned and started to push sand out of the way until it cascaded down. "Have we been out this long?" the man said with a smile.

Several lights began to flicker on as the dusty airlock started to blow stand back toward him as he walked in. He closed the door behind him, and that was that. "We should go down to the chapel... see if we can get another hand or two in the hydroponics bay; we can hold more people."

He moved further down into a stone and metal arched hallway, watching lights turn on as he scurried down halls and then into a staircase down into the depths. The old man entered another airlock and into a stone pathway. He smelled incense and yeast, Farah must have been baking bread. He heard laughter, and that made him smile.

He stopped at an old wooden door, a little smaller than the doorway, but it served its purpose. He passed by several people lying on in the hallway.

"Seerer Vaharr, dinner is almost done, it is good to see you once again." an older man said, walking in through another portal in the wall, "I have been hearing stories of war north of the last dunes from Kal Hashir, is there something to worry about?"

"No... no not this time, it just means that we will need more hands in the extra bays, and to make sure they are growing grain instead of clothing. Maybe cut rations, and we will have less of a stockpile to trade in... " replied Vaharr, "How are the stores looking?"

"Growing, as they always should... more than enough to last a year with our four hundred mouths if we only eat grain, and have no more mouths... but, I am afraid that will not be the case soon."

"Another mouth or two will not starve us yet." Vaharr staff was sent the mam accusingly, "We can survive a bit longer, but paradise may need to wait longer... did you get medicine from Hashir, Bash?"

"Some..." Bash said, "He knows war was coming, I talked him into a lower price for just some of it... the rest we will have to wait till the plants and Karash are done."

The older man snickered and kept walking with a limp on his side, not using his staff he just pushed forward, and forward not a care in the world; the younger man, like one of forty-five, followed close behind with board and paper in his hand. They twisted through doors, and down hallways, passing several more people until they came into a massive room, it was long, and tall. Extremely tall, almost sixty feet up it looked like a gateway, and if the halls behind it were not dug through collapsed ruins, then it might have sometime far in the past, but this ancient room stayed. The far end of the long hall, was a mound of sand that came through everything that might have once touched the outside world. Statues of a god-like figures lined between thick marble pillars. These figures, all had one thing in common, they were staring hatefully at the figure that was above him. He turned and saw what protected him, a large man painted in gold, and white. Unlike the other statues, it's paint had not faded since it was placed there in it's sandy tomb.

Looking around, he saw no other figures around, and the two men looked at each other, but the older man had to look away after a few seconds, ashamed of himself. He looked at the man in front of him, "Farah is a good woman, and while I can keep us hidden from most of the world, she keeps us hidden from others. There is a war that will rage on near us, and should the Emperor come, we may be found... This sand storm will help conceal us, same with the main entrance blocked off. But should we be found, we will have to fold, and you all should... Have this as a place of science, you are the heir to this coven... Though we know." he looked up at the statue above him. "Though we know he is one of science, use that with him... reason, that we wish to see Terra become the jewel it once was, that humanity should be beautiful, that as it's protector... The homeworld should see the light that it is a beautiful world. We have many old texts in the vaults below, barter with him, make sure we can continue our work and way of life... But, I will likely have to move on, I can be here maybe once to meet with him or his envoys... but after that, I will likely have to flee for the safety of everyone here... For the work this place has done."

"Vaharr... stay... just because you are a priest, does not mean he will not see reason in your ways... You wish to see this place turn into beauty, you wish to see the oceans of old times, so do I, and so does everyone else here, I am sure he does as well. I am sure that he wishes to see it as how it was when he created the world away from the dark ones and molded it humanities needs. He has been with us since the beginning. He will know what to do with you and this place."

"No, Bash al Ka'tim, when I brought you here as a child when your parents were used as sacrifice, I made sure that you, and al others would be protected, and that is what I will do... you must know that this is a place of worship, we can blame it on ancient ways... in hopes it is not destroyed or to hide it through the labyrinth of the lab, but this room alone will make this place a target... This room alone is what he wishes to destroy because it is faith in something besides what we can see. We must hide it for as long as possible, and it will be hard... I can feel him and many others who are powerful in the mind, much more so than I... I am nothing compared to them, a speck, maybe it will mean we can live in peace longer, but he will eventually find us. I hope we can sway his council some so that this has not all gone to waste."

The younger man looked defeated but nodded understandingly. He smiled, "I will do my best to lead this place to the way of paradise as it should be... once you are gone, once I am the head here... I know you are old, but I hope you die here with us... not alone on pilgrimage; you are like a father to many of the young ones and have taught everyone here many things... You have given us hope, and soon you will give many others hope, I have foreseen it Seerer, in the coming wars, we will take many more on... and watch as people flock to us, we will become something great... We will spread the seed of our faith in the way of the faithless, and possibly besides the faithless, we will see our home turned into a paradise, where instead of sands for all the eye can see, we may have our oceans."

"Stop, no more of this, humble and quiet, and we will progress slowly... it is the only way, for we will endure silently and change slowly. It is safer, and once I am gone from this world, maybe I will look down upon you as you walk through paradise in old age... An old wife, children, you and Farah's granddaughter... Live, and be happy, like this little friend."

A small rodent that until now had been sleeping, awoke and made it's way to the cloak, poking its head out once again, and moving to the old man's shoulder.

"A happy life... full of adventure, joy, and beauty, something simple, but not mundane... something worthwhile... You are five years till, fifty... You have lived a long time under me, almost thirty years. While you will live here, and continue my work... That does not mean you have to be chaste like I... Have a family so that they can see paradise with you... And should I live long enough, I would like to impart my wisdom on those who carry on my legacy."

The man began to zone out as he spoke, enjoying himself but realizing that it was likely a lie. That he would be alive again should he die, likely back at another age that was much younger, this life, this one he considered to be successful. He wondered how this life would die, would he mess up and be seen by some foreign mind, or would he make a mistake when he went to test the air within the basin. There were too many variables, and he was thankful that most of the places he went to could only be accessed by the mountain, that way, he could work alone. Maybe he would die of old age and be found the next day laying on the ground dead in his room, a needle in hand, sowing a pillow or thousands of them for the influx of people that were to likely be showing up.

He shook his head and walked away from the younger man, the mouse on his shoulder as they began to walk the length of the hall going towards the sand; that dune gave them a few months at least, maybe longer. He wondered and sighed, hoping that it might be enough. He shook his head, knowing it wasn't. A day was what that would give them if lies were believed or were meant to be believed.

He had visions, he saw, and he hid. The vision he was having in his sleep at this time is that the sands in front of him were gone, and Luna shined through the broken and stained glass portals that littered the walls, that the paint upon the fiendish gods would come back, and destruction would be let loose upon his homeworld once again. He hoped that would not come true, but he stared at the portal which held the moon. In his eyes, the stained glass representation of a man fighting a dragon was shattered, the head of the man was gone, and the dragon was replaced by a dark spot upon the moon.

"Little friend, we will not let that happen. This place will be beautiful once more... the gods will die, and we will be saved by the Emperor... God save him, may we preserve our species and its history, may we live through time ... and watch our world grow beautiful... We will see, but first, we must prepare." he said, turning and moving with haste to prepare for guests.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Bigbagel12
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Memphos


He heard the cry of battle, the thunder of guns ringing in the air, and the sounds of Battle Cries cut short followed by either the moans of the dying, or the silence of the dead. There was a sort of artistry to the sounds of battle, the staccato screams of the damned and dying painting across the canvas that was the battlefield. Using the oldest paints know to mankind, the blood of its people, a work of art was being crafted in his Emperor's name. Truly, the pinnacle on Mankind he was, for only he could craft such beings so talented in the art of death as his brothers and sisters, and even his lessers the Thunder Warriors were proving their Martial worth today.

Though he found the artistry they employed to be brutish, without skill and finesse, lacking in all refinement and grace they only slathered the field with filthy finger paintings. An introductory work to be sure, but nothing worthy of the Emperor. They were a Hammer lacking chisel, stonework flying wildly with each strike, so did the mess they create sully that which he savored. Any joy he gained from his work, was offset by the barbarity. "Ugh, such animals." he whispered to himself, the sound only for his ears in the sealed compartment that was his helm. He wished for the presence of his brothers and sisters, yet had to content himself with the Thunder Warriors.

He held his axe at his side, the thrumming field of power giving the blade a thin blue hue as the golden filigree along the haft and handle ran with red blood. Many of the men dying today could have been spared, had they only understood and comprehended the great works the Emperor wished to enact. His Master was Grand, his scope of sight beyond all compare, and he only wished to uplift humanity. People however are loathe to let go of power, even meager amounts, in sacrifice to the great grandeur of humanity. Selfishness, pettiness, brutality, barbarity, and most reprehensible of all, Willful Ignorance.

Disgusting things, lacking in all refinement. How he wished to be back at the base, with brush in hand as he gazed at his canvas. He wished to bring life to the barren, not take it, yet he knew that this was his duty. "Duty unto Death, For Humanity, For our Emperor." he said resolutely. He opened his Vox, speaking to the Cadre of Thunder Warriors under him, ordering them forward in cohesion with the Champions own command. "Go Forth, Slay the Enemy of the Emperor. Do not fall behind the Advance." he said simply, before he stepped forward. Holding up his wrist, a wave of fresh enemy troops disappeared in chunks of sizzling flesh as he let bark the exact amount of rounds needed, minimizing Ammunition spending while maximizing effect.

He could only sigh at it all, staring down as their blood stained the sand, a macabre painting showing the futility of fighting against Change.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Dagon


From the balcony of...his new Palace, Dagon looked out over the realm he had claimed. He stood alone, his arms crossed behind his back. Blackened feathers ruffled slightly in the wind, the only noise that the figure made.

Despite his lack of motion, to say that he was inactive would be a lie. Throughout the realm, the wheels that ran a nation were adapting to the change in leadership and he was...greasing the wheels somewhat. Nothing major or as perverse as what had happened with Cardinal Tong, but simply stroking the odd thought in the right direction. Humans by their nature had something that some would call a flaw, but Dagon himself knew was a feature: A natural tendency to bend the knee to authority. All he was doing was making sure that those in the halls of power across the realm found the idea of kneeling to their new ruler to be easier to swallow then it might otherwise have been, nothing more.

Of course, there were those that would refuse to even entertain the thought of submitting to him. Those in positions of actual power who's rebellion against the new order of things would pose an actual problem to things running smoothly were having other ideas implanted. Those that were currently not guilty of any crimes against humanity but simply didn't wish to serve in the new government were having thoughts of peaceful resignation eased into their minds; Dagon fully intended to accept those resignations and allow them to go off and live their lives as they saw fit. After all promoting the image of a fair and just leader above blind, petty vengeance seemed like a good idea.

Those who were going to be more problematic... such as those who might rebel or sabotage documentation and thus cause instability for the new government... well, that was where the daemons came in. Weak, wretched and petty things even among their own kind... but useful if kept on a tight leash. The slaves of Desire were given simple instructions and a crushing web of restrictions before being sent out, but their goal was always the same: Influence those Dagon pointed out to them and drive them to self destruction.

The method of self destruction was generally left up to the slave of Desire in question. Driving their emotions out of control to the point they ended up dying, causing their addictions and vices to spiral out of control to the point of having a terminal end, driving them insane to the point they took their own lives or slipped up and had an 'accident'... Dagon honestly didn't care what was done, as long as the manner of their death or departure didn't cause collateral in a way that would cause their replacement issues.

There would be plans for the future, but before the abandoned garden of Terra and Humanity that had been left to become overgrown and infested could be restored to its proper glory, weeds and pests needed to be removed.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Bigbagel12
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Regatus swung his hand backwards, the back of his fist impacting a descending warrior with such force that he could feel each individual rib that broke on impact, before the lifeless sack of meat and bone was launched away. The Corpse hurtled end over end, rag-dolling through the air in lazy spins before it impacted a wall hard enough to make a meaty splat. This had been the third person to attempt a dive attack on him, it was like pigeons splattering into the ground, utterly pointless. Yet each and every one of them did their best to defend their home, doing whatever they thought possible to stall the advance of the cadre of Transhuman soldiers. He was treated the same as his lessors, his 'Men'. It was an insulting comparison, but he understood why they did so, they were just human and there was not much difference when you craned you neck to see your killers.

He killed 2 more divers and 27 more men charging him from between the streets before the sector of the city he was moving through had been finally cleared. He saw dozens of others holding weapons, and yet they only stared at him from the doors of their homes, locked in place by the dread he saw caked across their faces. Their bodies refused to move against him, and he saw fit to simply pass them by, though it didn't matter because the Thunder Warriors behind him slew them all the same. The Bark of their guns continuously filling the air as he moved towards the final bastion of force in the area. A small garrison was nestled between two large stone walls, choking off access to another part of the city. He could easy bypass the point, in order to get to the part of the city he had been ordered to take. The Thunder Warriors seemed pleased with themselves, they cheered their joy with the fight, praising the Emperor and denoting their actions as for the Lord of Mankind but he knew different.

They were animals.

Brutes, Hammers with no finesse, they were killers given the power to kill better. They did nothing that did not involve the shedding of blood and he lamented it. They did not see the beauty in the structure of the city they assaulted, they did not see the results of long dead cultures carved into the walls. They did not see the advancement of Humanity, they ingenuity of men who crafted a living from dirt and stone, who learned to make cooler homes out of Mud and Sticks, who paved the way for all that came after. It was their greatest tragedy, with how zealously they sought total destruction of everything around them. While he would never deny the genius of his Master, he knew this to be necessary for the salvation of mankind. Unity above all else, Sacrifice for the advancement and restoration of Mankind's greatness among the stars must start with Terra itself. But in the end, it was still a pitiable loss of History. It brought him great sadness.

Yet he did it anyways.

These thoughts all went through his mind in the same amount of time it took him to cross the distance in order to make his way into the Bastion. The Thunder Warriors engaged after him, breaking down the walls and slaughtering all inside as he moved past everything. Another mural in sandstone had been painted with the blood of defenders, and Regatus purged it from his mind to focus ahead.

"Akus and Barnibus, move up the streets to the left. Engage the defenders as you see them, but secure the path quickly. Moritus move up the center, draw their attention to divert forces. Letticus move to the buildings roofs, kill the entrenched snipers and ambushers. Meet me again at the End of the street, we must take the Inner Gate." he said with a simple tone, keeping his words to them tight and controlled. It was time to move on to the next objective.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by FrostedCaramel
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Albyon
Terra


Rain pattered off the armor glass of the enclosed patio, except, the man noted as he sipped at his still-too-hot cup of tea, that it wasn’t actually rain leaving streaks of ashen gray on the glass but the condensed byproducts of the castram-city’s stifling manufactorums. He placed the tea down and swept his view across the datapad in his lap, quickly skimming the contents of the proposal on the screen before raising his head up from the screen to once more direct his gaze to the entrance of the parlor.

He’d been here for nearly fifteen minutes now, five of that past the proposed time for the meeting, and yet he still sat alone. The parlor was one of many in the city, and of those that were open, not even the finest. He sighed at the thought that he was relegated to such minor meetings as this, an anonymous request for a shipment requiring the utmost discretion, smuggling he knew as he wondered when he’d finally get his break, the job that would place him on the up and up he so deserved.

He took another sip of his tea as around him the only moderately rich and powerful of Albyon made small talk as they drank too hot expensive teas and nibbled infuriatingly small biscuits and pastries with smug grins and arrogant laughter, as if they meant anything in Albyon at all.

The doors parted, a pair of people stepping through at once -- both were clad in thick, grey, hazardous materials gear, their faces hidden behind worn gas masks. Hardly an unusual sight, in a city so oft-plagued by DNA-ravaging pollution, but a sure indicator of at least somewhat substantial wealth. One by one, the pair removed their masks to reveal pale, androgynous, ashy faces, mostly unworn by the ravages of manual labour, little smatterings of freckles and ginger hair visible beneath their rubbery clothing.

For a brief few moments, they appeared to talk to one another -- the rightmost figure, slightly taller than their opposite, headed toward the cafe’s counter to order something, while the other swiftly proceeded toward his table, swiftly sitting down with a friendly, all-too-familiar smile.

“Terribly sorry for our lateness,” they began, wiping droplets of sweat from their face. “You know how I am -- always losing my keys on my way out. I can never keep track of the damned things!”

Allowing himself an uncomfortable laugh, Elijah Gallows; intermediate functionary of House Hastings; smiled.

“No of course, I know the feeling all too well…” he pulled the dataslate off the table and back into his lap as he spoke, “besides, you’re just in time for a fresh batch of kreps, they’ve the most delightful selection of toppings this side of the wire,” he offered as he flagged down a server and took a helping of the thin cakes.

“Whipped cream? I’m told it’s only 15% synthetic here.”

“Kreps, and mostly-real whipped cream?” They chuckled, shaking their head as they moved to sit. “Well, I suppose we'll have to see if they're as good as the ones in Franc. I've heard that's where Kreps are originally from, actually!" "But, yeah -- I'd love some."

“Of course,” Elijah smiled as he motioned for another of the plates of the cakes to be brought over. He waited a moment for the server to be out of earshot before he leaned forward to his new table mate.

“I’m sure you’re aware of Hasting’s discretion, lest you wouldn’t be sitting here across from me,” he smiled as beneath the table he placed a second dataslate with scrolling lists of transport options and price selections on the lap of the stranger, “I’m sure you’ll find us quite… agreeable in terms of pricing and craft selection.”

He leaned back, a grin painting his face as he took a small bite from kreps, “Though, we do not need to know what it is we’re moving, we of course need to know where it must end up, just a fact of business of course.”

"Money is no object," they whispered, their expression stern and unmoving as their partner idly made their way over to the table, quietly seating themselves. "We need your fastest, most secure vessel -- and a pressurized one. It is imperative that our cargo is not intercepted, no matter the cost," they continued, narrowing their eyes at Elijah.

"Oh, heavens, is that so? That's ridiculous!" They blurted out, emitting a soft peal of laughter with a beaming smile.

"As for our destination," they continued, their expression fixed into a small, gently happy smile, as if conversing with an old friend, "the Himalazian Plateau."

Elijah had already begun to formulate costs in his mind, his fingers tapping in unison across the dataslate in his lap without even looking as he selected an appropriate ship as requested by the buyer.

“I may…” he paused, puzzled for a moment at the fact that money was no issue, “your cargo is living I take it? What sort of ride would you prefer? Comfortable, or cramped? Luxurious or utilitarian? Would you sacrifice discretion for speed?”

He hated to inquire more, but the request for a pressurized space made it clear he had to narrow down his option of flyers.

"Living, yes. Luxury is preferred, but discretion is our utmost priority." They explained. "The cargo is used to luxurious conditions, but getting to the Plateau safely is more than worth less suitable, even squalid conditions. Sharing the cargo space with non-trusted parties -- a passenger ship, for example -- is not an option."

Elijah gave a nod of understanding as they clarified their needs, his fingers dancing over the datapad as he did, the options narrowing down to only two craft. He took a moment to make the decision for the stranger.

“The Ambivalent Mortality offers speed and discretion, while I wouldn’t call it particularly luxurious, it certainly isn’t lacking in amenities,” he smiled as he reserved the venerable, and exceptionally expensive, Gun-Cutter for his strange friends.

He tapped a few buttons on the screen and smiled, “We need a port for your cargo, the Hymalazian’s are a big place, as I’m sure you’re aware.”

"The cargo," they continued, sucking in a slow, deliberate breath, "is intended for the warlord calling himself 'Emperor'."

His fingers stopped their tapping across the dataslate as Elijah looked incredulously upon his guest. He had been certain this was a minor smuggling request, moving some less than savory goods from one place to another, nothing new or entirely out of the ordinary though most definitely below the prestige of higher placed functionaries of the House.

“That is uhm…” he directed his gaze to the screen now, his fingers tapping across it as new menus and orders were prompted, “well it’s,” he tapped away as he continued to speak, “it’s an unusual request, of course, I’ll need to verify this with my superiors.”

He sat eyeing the stranger for no more than a handful of seconds before he saw the familiar amber rune for a priority message appear in the corner of the dataslate.

“They’ve already gotten back to me, should be simple enough,” he laughed awkwardly as he tapped the symbol.

++PROCEED DIRECT TO AMBER MOON++

Elijah stood almost immediately, fumbling with a handful of credits that he slapped onto the table before he spoke shakily to the stranger, “You must don your gear, we’re no longer secure here,” he stated as he haphazardly strapped his own rebreather to his face and started out of the parlor.

"Very well," they replied in unison, both of the strangers smoothly standing to their full height as they donned their rebreathers, all in one inhumanly precise motion. "Fear not -- we will protect you if necessary."

Elijah ignored the pair as he left the parlor in a hurry. Leading the strangers down a maze of twisting alleys and roads, his pace quickening as he navigated the familiar pathways as he noticed the distance between himself and the surreal strangers was increasing slowly.

He turned a corner, the tight confines of the backroads and alleys suddenly opening into an empty square. He glanced at his chronometer, smiling under his rebreather at the timing to miss shift change, a low rumble growing in intensity as he surged forward into a sprint

The rumble transformed into the high pitched whine of jet turbine engines as a Stormbird; painted in the red and blue of House Hastings; swept over the cramped habblocks blowing loose shingles and items about the plaza as it came to a halt in front of the path of the two strangers, lascannons swiveling to aim at the pair as Elijah disappeared into the far alleyway.

A vox-amplified voice called out over the deluge of the Stormbirds engines as a host of House Hastings guards swept into the plaza on all sides.

“By order of The Sigillite, First Lord of Terra and Hand of The Emperor surrender yourselves,” the voice echoed off the habblock walls, “remove all weapons, rebreathers, and prepare for search,” the Stormbird hovered incredulously before them as a number of grav-enhanced House Hasting’s Guard jumped from it’s open assault ramp toward the strangers.

“You have five seconds to comply,” the vox-amplified voice boomed.

The emissaries complied instantly, far more quickly than any baseline human could -- twin pairs of cybernetic arms unfurled from beneath their heavy coats, sharpened claws -- evidently usable as blades -- glinting in the light of lumen-lamps. Their rebreathers, too, fell, as did the pairs of concealed pistols about their hips -- two volkites for the leftmost, and a set of blank, blocky laspistols for the other. Their pale faces stared out at the Stormbird, unfeeling and unafraid -- but their eyes rapidly, even violently, darted back and forth, constantly vigilant for any sign of attack.

The troops from the Stormbird swept up to the pair in perfect synch, two men splitting from the group as they hurried forward to the emissaries.

“Restraints,” one of the others barked, a leader of some kind.

The two nearest troops pulled two small discs, no larger than their palms from pouches and quickly slapped them to the cybernetic arms of the emissaries which fell limp to their sides only a moment later.

From behind another pair of House Guard brought the strangers to their knees, placing their arms into cuffs and slipping sensory deprivation hoods over their heads plunging the strangers into an utterly silent void.



The Stormbird rocked as it flew, the fully masked faces of the House Hasting Guards cast in hard shadows by the harsh lights of the interior troop bay.

A trooper removed both of the sensory deprivation hoods and motioned the strangers to Elijah just forward of where they sat.

“Apologies, you must understand,” he began as he scrolled nonchalantly through his dataslate, “but we have orders to ensure we bring no one to the Emperor without the utmost care and caution.”

He motioned to a wide screen against the wall, scrolling data and a map of Ierné’s plateau “You could have brought this higher, Ierné warrants our best, not smoke and mirrors,” he shrugged, “Though I appreciate that, made it easier to keep away from prying eyes and ears, until well,” he motioned to the Stormbird.

He laughed to himself at the insanity of the stunt in the plaza before turning back to the emissaries, “The Ambivalent Mortality is enroute now from Europa, and will be ready to pick up… Well we assume the Novator, within the hour. We have armed escort as well, not something to play around with,” he tapped his dataslate and the restraints on the emissaries' augmetic arms clattered to the floor, “I hope we have an understanding now, no harm intended of course.”

"The Novator will only travel under guard." The two said, speaking in perfect unison. "Ierné is aware of its value. She will be treated with due respect, as will her nation, or there will be no negotiation." They continued, staring blankly at Elijah. "Otherwise, yes, we have an understanding."

Elijah raised an eyebrow at the emissary's words, weighing his response a moment before he answered, “House Hastings has no intention of treating the Lady Novator in any way undeserving of her position. You must understand though, the Emperor demands caution and… great care in such situations as this. You are mere emissaries, had we left you for ash and slag in the plaza, The Emperor, Ierné, and House Hastings would have been no less positioned to try again than before we met,” he smiled.

“You two and myself are very similar in that regard, despite me being still human, we’re all expendable in this game. Your Lady Novator however, is not, her safety is our top priority and an audience is already being arranged with the proper authorities upon her arrival.”
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by ReedeThe23rd
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ReedeThe23rd ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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The Schuisse Guardians


Nico and Malthis stood outside their command tent, observing the battle before them. The troops of their company fighting side by side with the forces of the so-called Emperor of Mankind, assaulting the forces of Gyptus. Watching their men stand with the mighty Thunder Warriors was a sight to behold, the gene-modified warriors carving a path for their men and others to fill.

"I still don't like this." Malthis said, arms crossed as he looked over at Nico. "He might have a strong army, but he's far from the first person to try to conquer the world just because his army's big and strong."

Nico watched his troops through a set of magnoculars, lowering them to turn and face Malthis. "Your objections are noted, Malthis. But I feel differently. Look at how his troops fight for him. Its clear there's something more to him than just another warlord."

"So he's inspiring? We're mercenaries, Nico, our inspiration should be the biggest pay!"

"We're mercenaries *now*, but you know our heritage as well as I do. We used to serve a cause. We used to have dedicated purpose. We were the Guardians of one of the most important positions on the planet! And seeing this man, how he leads his men, how he inspires them, how he convinces them of his cause, I think we can have purpose again."

Malthis sighed and shook his head. "You're too much of an idealist, Nico. The world our founders lived in is long gone. The only thing important now is making sure you have the supplies to live to fight another day."

"Malthis, my friend. You need to learn to see the bigger picture. We are who we are because of our heritage, our regimentation, our organization. I made you leader of the Honorbound because I trusted you to drill our best and brightest in that philosophy. And you've done a fine job. But now I'm asking you to hold fast to that mindset, see where this goes."

"...Fine. But if this blows up in your face, I won't hesitate to say I told you so."

The two returned to watching the battle unfold. In the distance, a squad of Honorbound leapt to the defense of a pair of Thunder Warriors, lasers from their halberds cutting down the men that had ambushed them. The mercenaries stood at guard as the Thunder Warriors readied to rush back into the fray, and as the gene-soldiers charged forward, the squad rushed in after them, weapons at the ready.

Nico smiled. That kind of dedication to duty was what it was all about.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Lauder
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//Kush
//Terra

The winds were harsher past the clouds, roaring as a harsh torrent even as true chaos raged far below upon the blasted surface of Terra. Barbarians butchered barbarians, humans slaughter each other in a brutal contest of control and domination. It was a deadly affair, one that seemed so disconnected so far in the air yet even then the intimacies shown through as she saw the ‘God-Slayers’ do the Emperor’s work. Single-combat raged, the roar of melee and the screams of death between human and augmented filled the air, though again she heard none of it. The rush of the wind was an excellent cover, an excellent way to clear her mind as her optics kept an eye on the battle below. She was searching, not for something but for someone - an officer, a commander, leadership - anyone whose death would bring a collapse in morale.

Yet, the Black-Hawk’s shadow continued to circle the battle, stalking for her prey to reveal themselves from their defenses, though they hid like roaches waiting for a rock to be moved. It was a common thing to wait as one of the hollowed Venatari, watching as the Thunder Warriors wrought slaughter amongst their techno-barbarian counterparts. It was a tedious task, but in part it allowed her to continue with her secondary vow of evaluating those warriors of the first Thunder Legion, ensuring that none fell into their unstable madness to bring death to the innocent and undeserving. Her hand tightened around her lance, wanting nothing more than to deliver justice, but she knew that her shadow was more than enough to cast fear into those of the ‘God-Slayers’ who had come to know her as a vengeful spirit of the skies. Yet, she would stay her hand for the time being for that was her Master’s will.

Amalasuntha allowed herself a momentary sigh into her respirator, watching as a thunder warrior chewed through some poor human. Then rage boiled as another executed one attempting to crawl away, knowing that was not what the Emperor would have wanted - they were liberators! The Black-Hawk wished to descend and instill order, wanting nothing more than to be the executioner she desired to be, but such was not her task in this moment. As she banked in the air, her eyes noticed a form on the outer battlements of the city - large enough to match any of the thunderous warriors that laid siege to them now. She made her decision in that moment, swiftly diving towards the observer. Her speed grew and the whistle of wind began to ring as her blackened armor cast a shadow locked onto her query.

Her lance lowered.

Her grip tightened.

As she closed, she wanted to let loose a few rounds from her lance, but she knew that she would simply outpace her bolts. Amalasuntha rolled as her target fired at her, soon enough automated turrets likewise attempted to lock onto her, but she was too small for them - and much too fast. Her foe turned to flee. Too late. For her lance pierced straight through his body, spilling crimson onto the battlement. The venatari skid across the defense for a moment before her auramit pinion activated, sending back in the air as the presumed officer fell many stories behind the battlements. Her speed was hardly dampened as her height climbed. Soon enough, she was back to being a mere observer - now seeing that humans began to route, militia unable to be held together by the yoke of some barbarian. She could almost smile, but she knew the battle was far from over for no one section would usher the collapse of an entire city.

No.

She would render unto them the Emperor’s judgment.

Such was her duty.

Her purpose.

Death.

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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by FrostedCaramel
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[The Defense of Memphos]
[Commander Vadym Yaroslav of the 51st Genehanced Guards Assault Brigade of Sanctii]


The sounds of battle were distant but, concerningly, they were creeping closer. Vadym adjusted the heavy collar of his carapace armor, tugging it out from his chest as he shifted in the relentless Gyptian heat. Around him members of Memphos’ internal guard went about their duties at speed, men ran reports from one table to another, cogitators printed out long sheets of data ceaselessly, and the voxbanks filled the air with relentless calls for reinforcements or notices of retreat. The defense of Memphos was going terribly.

He took a step forward and leaned his hands against a holotable, the vivid colors of friend and foe crashing together in the center and in most places, the blood red of the enemy seemed to sweep aside the sky blue of the defenders entirely. He studied a spot that seemed to be holding well, a collection of bastion houses placed atop a small hill. He scrutinized the map for a moment before pushing off the table and making straight for the armorglass windows of the command center. He took a few steps to his right to clear away for a trio of officers speaking hurriedly in their native tongue, and brought his magnoculars to his face.

Off across the city he could already spot the bastion houses atop their hill, a deluge of fire was pouring from its redoubts and it seemed just as much hurt was being hurled back at them. The bastions themselves seemed to not yet be the focus of the siegers, instead bringing their might to bear on the circle of bunkers about halfway up the hill, but Vadym knew that couldn’t last.

A chirp at his waist tore him from the magnoculars as he scooped up a dataslate and tapped at the screen.

“What now?” asked Andriy Skliar, Major and second-in-command of the 51st Assault Brigade.

“A message from the Administrator,” Vadym began as he read, “Central believes that Memphos will fall before nightfall,” he shrugged, not worrying to keep his voice down around the Gyptian officers as he spoke in his home tongue of Rus.

Adriy pondered the information, a hand raising his own magnoculars to his face as he did.

“Seems that the Administrator is likely right,” he agreed as he motioned with his free hand for Vadym to join him in the spectator sport. Vadym quickly took up his own magnoculars and focused again on the bastions from earlier.

The redoubts circling the bastion were awash in flame on the Northern side of the hill, a number of them simply gone, nothing but smoking craters left where once a hail of gunfire and las had leapt at the invaders.

“So it would seem,” Vadym echoed in amazement as he watched brutes the size of his own genehanced guardsmen appear through the dense smoke. He zoomed in, focusing the picture as warriors of the invaders waded directly into the bastion houses’ gunsights.

A fury of weapons fire met the advancing barbarians, washing out his magnoculars for a moment before the system automatically filtered out the most intense of the light. He was astonished to see the massive warriors already against the walls of the bastion houses, a number of them working at the walls as fire from the defenders continued to pour into the area beyond the bastions themselves.

“The Emperor’s Thunder Warriors,” Andriy practically spat the word as he too watched on in amazement, “the fools blinded themselves with the opening salvo, they must have just walked right under it,” he added in disgust at such an oversight.

Vadym tapped away with one hand at his dataslate as he watched. “Cronies of another crazed warlord. Still, they’re formidable,” he said as the Thunder Warriors finally finished what they were doing against the bastion wall. A flash filled his sight and not a moment later did the Thunder Warriors disappear into a freshly blown hole in the defensive structure.

“What does the Administrator think of this?” Andriy asked without taking his eyes from the spectacle.

Vadym reluctantly tore his eyes away from the combat to read over his dataslate as text streamed across its screen.

“Deep Winter believes it is time we take our leave. Quietly,” Vadym said as he read, “we have gathered sufficient data, and apparently risk our exit staying any longer.”

Andriy laughed, a callous thing devoid of emotion, “No shit?”

Vadym brought his eyes back to the magnoculars and let out a mirthless laugh with his second-in-command.

The bastion was ablaze with the flashes of internal gunfire. A number of defenders atop the bastion seemed to be firing down the stairwell to the roof, and Vadym watched with piqued interest as a massive figure, perhaps this one even larger than a Thunder Warrior, burst into the middle of the group of Gyptians. Bodies flew from the rooftop, mists of blood and limbs flew every way as the huge warrior moved almost too quickly to follow as he made quick work of the defenders.

Vadym felt his breath catch in his chest as this warrior of the self-proclaimed emperor stopped atop the roof and turned to face him. The light broke through the dense smoke flowing over the city now, and the warrior was suddenly ablaze in his golden armor. Certainly he couldn’t be looking at him? Vadym knew better than to think that, they were nearly eight kilometers distant from the bastion houses, and behind mirrored armorglass no less. And yet, he couldn't shake the feeling as the warrior lifted some form of archaic halberd in his direction. He breathed a sigh of relief as the warrior turned and disappeared from the roof.

“Time to go Andriy,” he stated as he turned and made for the protected hangars of the Memphos command center, their Gun Cutter’s engines ready to leave the moment they stepped aboard.
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Ezekiel
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Memphos


"Witness Glory."

Aristagorous halberd remained aloft for a moment longer. The Thunder Warriors around him misinterpreted his call as a triumphant warcry and the call was taken up, screamed into the faces of the dying as the last resistance of the bastion crumbled. Their commander did not, however, reference their completion of the objective, but instead the prying eyes settled upon him. Gene enhanced senses greater even than his warriors made him alert to the observation, a corona of light from the burning outer city framing the Custodian, even as he finally lowered the weapon, surveying the city yet to come.

The outer defences of the city in most places were in the process of, or already were, overwhelmed. Slithers of resistance remained, but few outside of the Sigilitte's predictions, areas of the city defended best by the natural defenses of the craggy delta, or around key points of cultural and strategic importance.

"My Lord, the Northern Bulwark has surrendered and beg your mercy." The voice crackled over the vox, distorted by the distance involved and the intensity of the fighting, but clear enough. The equipment secured by the alliance with the Achaemenids was already proving useful.

"Tell them to be thankful it is the Emperor's mercy they fall upon and not my own, for he has granted them freedom. Remind them it was Aristagorous who conquered them by the death of one in ten."
With but a collection of words the Custodian signed the death warrant of a thousand souls of the enemy's largest collection of forces outside of their central districts. He spared them no further thought as he continued to regard the battlefield beyond, plotting how more would fall to his army.

"By his will."

There was no further communication as to the matter, no doubt that it should be done. The Custodian was in no doubt that the greater fighting was yet to come, but this was still a moment to relish, the first great test of the Imperial Army now that it could be called such a thing. This was not a conflict to unite scattered tribes of the mountains, but the destruction of a civilisation. This was what he had been made for.

"Come then, Memphos, show me the wrath of your Dynast-Kings, give me your fury."




“Do you see now? Do you see the threat this Usurper presents?” The man’s voice was frantic, robbed of its usual authority as Dynast Amsi watched the distance, the fringes of his human vision alight with the fires of the burning outer city. It seemed some great distance now, but in the haze of industry and the desert, visibility was no great scope, the enemy were close, and closing. “This heresy confounds the will of the Sacred Bloodlines, it is the duty of your alliance to aid us.”

The being he addressed was anonymous, cowled in dark robes of black and red, their voice modulated into an even drone when they did speak, concealing both identity and form. Even still, an element of amusement could be sensed in their response. “Desperation is unbecoming, you shunned our alliance for many years before this.” The accusation brought further fear to the wizened features of the Dynast, one of many in this, the oldest of the Dynast Cities, simply another branch on the sprawling tree that was the ‘Sacred’ Bloodline. He would sell his sister or wife for survival if need be. Made all the more convenient that they were likely the same person.

“What does the Patriarch wish of us? Anything that is ours to give, for his aid.” The hooded stranger regarded the frantic noble without comment for several long moments. Despite the meeting taking place among the high pyramidic spires of the inner city, they were far from the frantic turmoil of the command centres. This was a deal made in darkness, and it would beget further darkness.

“Fall beneath his will, bow to the inevitable, and we will fight this Invader for you.”

“You would have us trade one invader for another?”

“The Patriarch cares not for your customs, he respects the power of your ancient blood, this Emperor will shatter you, cast down your temples and impose his order. Perhaps once you could have secured freedom, but the cost is greater for begging our aid now.”

There was bile and hatred in the noble’s words as he gave in, but none the less, he did. “Then do so, save us, and Memphos will bow to your Patriarch.”

“There was no offer of salvation.”




As the forces of the Imperium pushed on, the nascant regiments, mercenaries and drafted forces alike, alongside the gene enhanced warriors of the Thunder Legions, resistance began to increase. The density of enemy forces, and their quality, began to exponentially rise. No longer the mad zealots conscripted and thrown into the way of the enemy, but trained soldiers. Still, the advance did not halt, the mortal men unable to hold back the force of the assault.

The a scream howled out from the central spires, despite the volume, carrying over the vastness of the city, even abone the roar of conflict, it seemed to be of a singular, harrowing, voice. A moment later and the sky was rent by an arc of lightning, surging from swirling sandstorm of the air. Ozone stung the tongues and throats of all, yet this was the least of it.

Forces of the Dynasts continued to fight and die, but they did not halt, something foul crackled in the air, the death of each enemy soldier followed by a harrowing repeat of that same scream, ripped from their own throat, before they pushed on all the same, mindless, in their desire to pull down the invaders, foul, baleful energy burning from their eyes.

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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Jamesyco
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Veharr

Wastes


Sand had fallen over the pathways of those fleeing war; he was thankful for that. He tightened a cloth around his face and moved it underneath his cloak, tucking it in so it would hopefully stay in place. Within his hands, he carried a long knotted branch that acted as a staff, something more suited for this journey as it gave more surface area than his usual walking stick. It helped him move, not that it kept him up, in his age, he didn't need that much, but it did keep the sand from overcoming him when it was getting out of hand. He was thankful for that, having to travel from his home more and more, from the safety of the mountain home. It was a lonely mountain, there were several nearby, and it once sat upon ancient borders. But it would be safe; they were old mountains, and a few days without him there would be fine. He hoped the sand and the runes he created would conceal his flock from all but the strongest of psykers. It should last until he arrives back; if not, the sand was a good way to elude all but those with luck upon their side.

Vaharr pulled a small mask down just a tad as he began to survey the endless tides of sand in front of him. He pulled out his telescopic glass and placed it over his walking stick for stability. He smiled as he didn't need it but enjoyed using the old device. He scanned the horizon end to end without seeing much. But he saw the clouds of war off in the distance, and it was a revolting sight, in his opinion. The powers used he saw like stars in the sky, and it blinded him with the sorcery used. He held onto the staff as he coughed up bile. It made him nauseous, and he felt hate rise in the bowels of his stomach as he closed the glass and tucked it into his robes again. He spits out the rest of the bile that clung to the inside of his throat and cheeks before pulling up the cloak around him. He pulled the cloth around him again to tighten it, and he stared out as he pulled goggles low to cover his eyes. Then another cloth to keep the sun from glinting off of them and to keep the light from his eyes.

"Guide me... I shall save as many as I can for your service... send me a sign savior of mankind, and you shall have a hundred to rebuild in your name... Send me a village, and I shall give you a city, great one..." he whispered in chorus with faith, "Send me in the direction of a soul, and you shall have a thousand. This one who travels these lands shall bring all who come to your flock back into your light Khader savior of my soul, Great Emperor, and slayer of the ancient god. I shall try to return all that you have given me since I have walked the sands of this world."

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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Ezekiel
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Unease filled the air of the command post at the western edge of the Rub Al’Khali. The Sigilites had been ever busy as the fortunes of war shifted among the siege lines. Reinforcements here, supplies there, a fresh unit rotated out, the most maddened Thunder Warriors brought in. Victory in war was in many ways the tallying of death and despair, a balance of sorrows where the triumphant was simply the least overwhelmed. Some of the keenest individuals in the galaxy were pouring over those measures, and they all realized the same thing.

Memphos was about to fall.

The nature of the Dynast Cities ensured that this would be the most brutal phase of the fighting, and only skill at arms and strength of will would determine if it was the swiftest conquest or the most sluggish siege. The Emperor’s forces had seen the first layer of defenses scattered like chaff before the wind, and now it was time for those seeking refuge in their fortresses to be terrified by his storm. But only a fool would think they would go gently. The wealth of the Dynast-Kings including a great panoply, mighty arms and stout armor, forbidden relics of a bygone age, charges of the Sigilites that they had failed to safeguard.

Each and every scribe knew of the horrors that could be unleashed, none more so than the head of their order. Malcador stared intently at a hololithic tank, an artifact from the era of his birth now worth a king’s ransom many times over, the flickering runes updated by a haphazard combination of IFF feeds and couriers relaying positional updates. A great front at the Northern Bulwark was a snarl of such icons, a contingent of Thunder Warriors pressing forward under the banner of a lone Custodian.

And then suddenly a rune flickered upon the other side of the great defensive line.

Champions of the Emperor were due rewards, and despite the intensity of the moment there would be no shirking their due. “Aristagorous shall henceforth be granted the glory of being known as Borethensipulas,” Malcador said softly, a dozen scribes recording the earning of a name. An ancient hand remained gripped tight about his staff even as he spoke, the man’s thoughts consumed by the question of what the Dynast-Kings would do next.

He had need not wait long for the answer.

A bolt of baleful flame sprang to life in the west, its fury demanding that even the distant scribes bear witness. For but a moment all pens and cogitators were put down, the Order giving the witchfire its measure of due respect. But only for a moment. With a glance from Malcador, they at once returned to their work, a lone robed figure sprinting away after meeting eyes with the Master and sharing a single, knowing glance.

Moments later and the Sigilite was racing beyond the field tent, seated within an ancient hovercraft that bore him effortlessly above the shifting sands. His personal guard lounged alongside him, veterans of the subjugation of the Himalayzans equipped with the most exotic and destructive of weapons. They passed the border into Gyptus proper like the wind itself, marching columns of Imperial soldiers with camels and mules catching only a glance of the twin banners of the lightning bolt and sigil that marked his personage.

Picking up a baroque device with a strange grill upon its face, Malcador began to speak. At once, a voice was heard upon the lines of the advancing Imperial forces, ancient and distorted, but carrying true nonetheless.

“To all those who fight beneath the banner of the Master of Mankind, know this. Your Emperor has sought to overthrow the reigns of butchers and the tyranny of witches. Your foes fight to defend the former, and they have now sought the might of the latter. I shall not lie to you, my conquerors, you shall be tested in this battle. What terrors they have unleashed, I cannot yet say, but know this. I am coming, and I bear with me the full might of your lord’s will. Humanity shall and must topple the spires of craven sorcerers, and the wrath of the Sigilite is with you.”



The words of the Sigilite were almost lost by the surge of chatter cascading over the vox as Aristagorous moved. While he was clad in plate that would swallow a lesser man, he was but a blur to mortal senses. As easily as he crossed ground, he slew. Living and breathing foes of the Emperor, or the twisted abominations that now arose alongside them, it did not matter to him. The precise killing strike required to keep such a foe down no additional challenge to his superhuman nature. Other servants of the Emperor were not so fortunate, and it was for their benefit he now pushed for decisive action.

“My lord, this is — we’re under h —- unceasing foe —- won’t stay d — permission to fall back —“

Whatever foul sorcery the enemy had wreathed was playing havoc with communications as much as it was the city, but even still, the motivation was clear. It was given with the clipped professionalism of the more disciplined soldiers beneath the Emperor’s authority, but still, the hint of dread lingered in the words.

“Denied, fight on, the line is drawn, the enemy is desperate, we push on. We ride to you, fight on.” He had no confirmation in return that his order was even received, but still he pounded the stone of the roadway to dust beneath the speed of his tread. Should the mortals fight on, he was determined they would not fall without sight of the Emperor’s wrath in their name. Should they falter, he would be there to deliver it in turn.

The powerfield surrounding his blade spat ionised flesh into the air as it rent through another foe. One of countless that had already fallen, made only of note to the giant who wielded it by the crackle of dimming power as the blade shorted out, overused and with no rest between blows, its power cells had finally given up on him. No matter, it was still a blade.

The Custodian felt the hand of another at play in this matter, the wretched plot of the enemy was sure to bring a heavy toll on the forces of the Emperor, pushing them to take the city faster and more costly than they would have wished, but could it hope to truly rebuff them? Unlikely. This was the masterstroke of someone wishing to sell Memphos dearly, which its Dynasts kings, self serving as they were, would not have orchestrated.

“Honoured Sigilite, I am approaching the Square of Kempfar, join me, and we shall push upon the Citadel.” The priority line to the Emperor’s closest adviser was more secure from the ravages of the warp craft, but not entirely so, a distressing observation. One that was put aside for the moment as Aristagorous finally reached the square, encountering only the burned out ruins of the Imperium’s forces and their hastily erected defences, now swarming with the risen dead. They had fought to a man, and he had failed them.

As the surge of dead things pressed towards the Custodian, he exhaled steadily, feeling the righteous anger suffuse his genecrafted being, before his blade was raised.

“Come then, hellspawn, become the first to earn the honour of being slain twice by Aristagorous.”



Malcador cursed as the Custodian spoke to him, not of anger at the message but at the foul corruption despoiling the aetherics. His chosen companions went about their business with the grim disregard that they did most everything, performing final checks upon their arcane armories. The champions of the Sigilite were equipped with the rarest and most horrific weapons ever crafted by human hands, for rarely did he feel the need to march to war himself. Disintegration guns, stasis grenades, graviton pistols, Kjaroskuro weapons, Quill blasters, a motley array of power and monomolecular weaponry, and sundry more were held ready by the men and women who had followed him this far.

“The Square of Kempfar,” Malcador ordered, after a slight delay as he let sentimentality take control of him for a cursed moment. He had opened his vaults for them, and they had volunteered to do their duty. It would not do to spoil their devotion to this cause with undue emotion. “Make haste, our foe grows in strength, and this is a ritual we can ill afford to let finish.”

The dead rose across the ancient sands, and the Sigilite followed. Onwards they pressed, towards fire and war, shadow and death. The cracked outer defenses of the once grand city flew underneath them, the haggard soldiers of the nascent Imperial Army cheering their salvation as they saw the speck of metal that marked his coming.

Baleful light erupted from the front of the ancient transport as it crossed into the lands of the dead, subatomic beamers dissolving the first ranks of the Warp-risen abominations into elementary particles. Within its confines, Malcador and his companions made ready for what was to come in their own manner, be it in thought or prayer or jest, in food or in drink, or in one particular case a last moment of restful slumber.

Kempfar approached, and with it, the first strands of the horrid destiny that Malcador had foreseen for those few he had dared call friends.



Lieutenant Alexiou cursed under his breath at the turn of their fortunes. They had been advancing steadily behind those beasts of men, the Emperor’s Thunder Warriors and his patrician Custodians, stepping over the carnage they left in their wake and moving from house to house like clockwork. It had been simple work, clearing that which the feral men had deemed unworthy of their attention. A shop of overturned spices here, a coffee hall there, a residential down the road. All of it, so simple. The occupants had been seen as beneath the Emperor’s most capable servants, and had been left to Imperial Army units, like Alexiou’s. But despite its simplicity, it was dirty work.

The shopkeeper and his staff, or at least that’s who Alexiou assumed they were, had come at his men with exotic tools he had discerned were used in the sorting of the spices. Finely made things, with razor thin blades that had cut up one of his troopers bad enough to warrant sending him to the rear. But other than the initial surprise of them they had been simple to dispatch. No armor, no formal training. They had been road bumps. Just as the other occupants of every building they’d swept through that decided to stand futilely before the Emperor’s army had been to Alexiou and his troopers.

But that time had come to an end far too soon. As quickly as they had cleared ten blocks the tide of the fighting changed around them. The sky had darkened, taking on a sickly glow, and the first signs of trouble had been the confusion over the vox. Then the maimed and stricken in the streets had risen around the Lieutenant and his platoon, and hell made its way to the land of the living. That had been nearly thirty minutes ago.

“Vox orders are unclear, aetherics are playing hell with the signal… I think they have ordered a general withdrawal to reinstate the lines and continue the push, but…” the vox operator hesitated a moment, “there was a Custodes, he was calling the Sigillite, I didn’t catch much more.”

“A Custodes? Figure his location, quickly,” Alexiou told his vox operator calmly as he turned back to the remains of his platoon, “Check your charge packs, and get ready to move,” his troopers gave no answer, and he didn’t need one. They had been ready to move since they’d first secured the holdout they sheltered in, and simply been waiting on Alexiou to make the decision on what came next.

They exited the holdout and fanned out down a wide thoroughfare, bypassing the butchered remains of Imperial troopers and Memphos guard with casual disregard as they approached the relative location the vox had returned for the Custodian Guard.

They swept through a blockhouse without a word and exited through a massive rent in the wall to find themselves spilling down a pile of rubble directly into an otherworldly onslaught. The Custodian, magnificent in his golden armor, was a blur of motion ahead of them. The ghastly creatures, those not long ago lost to this world, crashed into the Emperor’s chosen like the waves against the breakwaters of the acid lakes of Hive Ischian and, just like the acid waves, the abominations stood no chance of overcoming the patrician guardian of the Emperor.

His men spread out into the square without the need for a command, their jet black carapace armor a stark contrast to the dirtied yet still impressive gold of the Custodian. Where the Custodian was a blur of movement and the crackling of his guardian spear, his troopers were a clumsy hammer, their lasrifles spitting iridescent bolts into the surging wave of the dead.

“Firstborn, I am Lieutenant Alexiou of the Lucifer Blacks,” he stated over the common close-range vox shared by all Imperial units from within his enclosed carapace helmet, “my platoon is at your command,” he finished quickly as he took the head off a once dead thing with a flick of his saber.

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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Bigbagel12
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Another fell, he could tell as the senses he had spoke to him of the dying tide washing over them. Slowly, painfully, his cadre of Thunder Warriors pushed through the slog of bodies with care for they had learned the consequences of haste. One of the men had been set upon by an advancing horde when he rushed into a corridor in his haste for bloodshed. The man had been on the verge of a battle craze, seeking the next fight and the next slaughter.

It was no true loss, not in the grand scheme, as the men with him served their purpose. They were crafted as tools of war, and they performed this duty admirably, it was the sole redeeming feature. A tool that serves its purpose well, was a tool well worth crafting after all, and yet tools all eventually broke and are destined to be replaced. Such was the way of life, fading and growing anew. The very concept spoke to the artist within him, and would perhaps lend itself to his next portrait, perhaps of the great deserts meeting the edge of burgeoning forests.

Yet even as he contemplated his future works, the other parts of his mind were laser focused, even as his axe cleaved through another half dozen undead abominations. The foul taint of sorcery choked the air, that much was clear, and the foolishness of the Dynast-Kings was never more evident than now. "You have sold yourselves, all for a tally of lives to be added to the conquest. A pitiful end to worms, struggling in the dirt never able to see the light that could grant them a whole new world. If you had simply looked beyond yourselves-" he spoke softly, his words not leaving the confines of his helmet. He would seek out his brothers, it was time to push forward and cut the head off the festering serpent.

He saw it, even now as far as he was from the center he could see it, the Square of Kempfar and the end goal for his Vanguard deployment. "Men, proceed." he spoke to the remaining 4 Thunder Warriors his voice coming from the helmet with a cold tone of steel, as his squad of killers pushed down the road towards the square at a clipped pace. His Axe cleaved through the unliving obstacles that arose against him, while his Axe Barked loudly time to time to stop a sweltering horde from approaching. Devastating buildings and creating blockades for kill boxes. Yet as he drew closer, he saw the whirl of Gold and recognized a Brother for what it was, a welcome sight.

He saw the human troops, the Blacks as he recognized them, and felt pleased to see the more competent of the Guard here. He called out to his golden brother, giving a hail. "Brother. Awaiting your Command." he spoke simply, nodding to him before turning to regard the Guard with measured respect. Taking his place, his Axe in hand he looked up at the Citadel. It would be grim tidings indeed, and yet he would press on. For his Emperor, For Humanity.
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Jeddaven
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Hymalazia


Wings soared higher than the clouds, the body they bore banking around and floating above the glittering death of defense grids whose makers’ bones have long since been reduced to dust and ash. Every five thousand five hundred and seventy-three seconds, precisely on the mark, the masterful pilot of House Hastings performed a deep dive in order to avoid a kill satellite’s decaying orbit that threatened to cause all within the crew compartment to black out from the sudden stress of gravity and activated ancient and esoteric technology to prevent the same discomfort - and more importantly, jostling - in the cargo compartment. Though the Stormbird is ambivalent in its mortality, its crew is far less so of she who is ensconced within its bowels on this flight. Neither ground nor void is safe, not truly, not even within the claimed domains of their master - the aspiring Master of Mankind, and failure in this task would bring a shame far more bitter than mere death.

At long last they approached the roof of the world, the cloud-piercing peaks of the Himalazias coming into view, stark and austere. These bristled with some of the most foreboding weapons left to humanity, but these the Ambivalent Mortality raced towards without fear, even as alert runes and targeting designators blazed on the instruments. Within the Lines, the great fortress-mountains at the heart of the plateau, exotic energies stirred ever so softly in their half-slumbers as fire control sages coaxed them to readiness if the order came to destroy the swift-moving speck that flew across their skies.

Ident runes roared silently across the aether, challenge and response met and accepted, and the moment of danger faded as swiftly as it had begun. A landing pad was designated, nestled deep between the highest peaks of the bleeding world that had challenged all comers for generations untold, near the great work that was even now unmaking such natural grandeurs to expand the glory of man. A lone figure in simple robes awaited them, unheeding the backwash emitted by the Stormbird’s landing. It was only when the ramp descended and the cargo of the proud vessel was at last seen that they moved at all.

“Novator,” he said, the young voice carrying clear despite the roar of wind and engine. “You are most welcome here, but the master has many questions that require answers. Will you follow me?”

"Of course," a voice replies -- feminine and practiced, each word it speaks seems manicured; the tongue of a diplomat. To mortal eyes, she is momentarily hidden, but the speaker swiftly reveals herself as she makes her way down the Stormbird's unfurled ramp, hands folded neatly in front of her hips.

Her clothing (or dress, rather) is utterly unblemished, in spite of substantial turbulence, long and flowing drapes of emerald fabric wrapping her body in long, low-cut waves, her footwear invisible beneath the fabric.

Her eye, uncovered, twitches beneath its lid as she gestures for one of her servants to approach her, masked and clad in the jury-rigged power armour of the Gallogach. The tall, androgynous person reaches up to wrap a silken cloth over her forehead, before moving to follow, a second following close behind.

"You lead us to your... Master, I assume? They are a very, very mysterious person, if the rumours are to be believed..."

“Yes, but no. I would lead you to my master, but he is, alas, away. Your misfortune compounds, for the master speaks to no one without his word that they are worthy of His time. However, you would not be brought here for no reason,” he explained, bowing his head in apology. “Please, we should escape the cold,” the robed man said, turning on his heel towards a section of the mountain face still unmarred by the hand of man.

A vast door made of a black metal with a gold lightning bolt above it slowly opened at their approach, steam hissing out of the ground. A patina of frost coated the entryway as the superheated water vapor froze against the surface, guards in armor made of the same material following in its wake. They wielded cruel weapons made for terror rather than efficiency, festooned with jagged edged chainblades and bulky boltguns. Forming up into a pair of lines, they pounded their fists against their chest as the unassuming robed figure walked in between, turning to engulf the party as Luigsech followed in his wake.

The tunnel beyond was carved into the living stone, the rock still bare save for bundled coils carrying water, fuel, and raw power throughout the complex. “My apologies for this mean estate, but the complex has grown in size rather hastily. The mode in which you have approached us also demanded that we not dawdle. I’m sure you understand.”

"Certainly," Luigsech dryly commented, craning her neck to duly lay eyes upon practically everything she saw. She was evaluating, assessing, examining the structures around her for any sign of barbarism... But, all the same, she understood that her unique sensibilities could not fully be accounted for. No whiskeys and libations to be found here, it seemed.

"The haste with which your complex has grown in itself has been impressive. I see no bloated Pan-Pacific labor force, and yet... You manage to clear away the Himalazian Plateau in-" she blinks, abruptly shaking her head.

"Ah, I am terribly sorry. My manners seem to have fled me -- I don't believe I caught your name, did I?"

“You did not, but you have dealt no offense. My name is irrelevant at this juncture, the master bid me welcome you and so I have. If desired however, I am Prior Beck, head of the House of Doves within the Order of the Sigilites. I have the honor of the cataloging and storage of ancient communication devices, including that which you shall use to speak with him.” Pointedly, he did not respond or react to her curiosity on how they had worked so swiftly beginning to recreate the Himalazias.

Leading onward, there was a stark transition as the nearly barren rock suddenly gave way to a chamber made of what appeared to be polished bronze, the space bearing with it the weight of ages. The guards remained outside as Beck entered in, fanning out to watch the entry to the strange, baroque, room.

“I would request that you keep all psychic interference to a minimum.”

"Of course. That will be a simple matter," Luigsech replied, surreptitiously smoothing the creases out of her dress. "I am a Navigator, not a mere witch lacking control of my own mind." She explained, duly examining the chamber as she stepped inside.

The room itself seemed to be a single cast piece of the gleaming metal, with the only exceptions being the sturdy hatches that demarcated it from the rest of the complex. The interior of these too were shown to be of the same material when closed however, leaving the pair alone. In the center of the room was a small, squat table that held a flat pane of crystal and nothing more. Hoarfrost began to climb upon the walls as the Prior manipulated a strange console in front of the table, an otherworldly hum filling the air as a sound without sound.

Suspended above the crystal pane was a soft shimmering of light, that slowly resolved itself into the wizened face of Malcador. The man seemed distracted, only a fraction of his attention upon the room his image appeared in.

“Novator, welcome. I shall be brief, for both of our sakes,” the Sigilite said, brushing past any such niceties as introduction. Any woman who thought to ask after the Emperor would know of Malcador, and his own business was too pressing by far to waste time with idle chatter. “Why have you requested an audience?”

"Then I will grant you the same courtesy you are granting me," the Navigator replied, staring unflinchingly at the hologram.

"Word reached my ears of a warlord who is rapidly expanding across Terra, of one who has managed to transform the entire Himalazian Plateau into his grand palace... Such matters concern the immediate future of my people. I wish to understand his intentions."

“They should be known to you already,” Malcador replied curtly, his image flickering as an unearthly wail came over the connection. “My order is tasked with the preservation of human history, and we have ever spurned the petty warlords of this world, until the Master of the Lines arose. He, and he alone, we found worthy of our charge and to bring about the salvation of this benighted era. Does that suffice for you to understand, Novator?”

"No." Luigsech replied curtly, unperturbed, "my concern is chiefly the preservation of my people, Sigilite, and while I cannot doubt that your interests are noble... I cannot presume they align with the preservation of Eirné. I cannot afford assumptions, no matter how well-founded.”

“Preservation is a curious word, Novator. Let us speak plainly then, what are your terms? My time is regrettably short.”

"My House will faithfully serve your Master as Navigators, and my soldiers will aid him in his conquest of Terra and beyond. In exchange, governance of Eirné -- and Albyon -- will be left to us." Luigsech stated firmly, her brow furrowing. "We have been beaten, starved, imprisoned, enslaved, once and again and again... No more. Never again will I, or my people, allow such a fate to befall us. We are to be treated with respect."

“The Achaeminids sought much the same recognition and power, including dominion over a rival whom the Emperor’s armies shall conquer,” Malcador replied, a grim smile tugging at his lips at his last words. “Are you ready, then, to make the same sacrifices beneath the Raptor that they do?”

Luigsech quirked an eyebrow, a curious look spreading across her features. "I have already promised our armies and my bloodline, have I not?"

“The Emperor will ask yet more of you, for your land has been kept fenced and secured from the greatest depredations of this fallen era. Your mightiest exemplars he shall raise up as his own, and they will not remember the taste of summer in their own country. This is the price for what you seek.”

"Our best? My royal guard?" Luigsech asked, raising an eyebrow. "They have... Already been extensively modified by our geneticists. This will not interfere with your processes; or do you perhaps referred to the unaltered?"

“Those who already bear your arms and colors are, by and large, too old for the selections to come. The Emperor will collect the flower of your land’s youth,” Malcador explained further, pressing as far as he dared while the project was so secretive.

"I presume you will not take so many of our youth as to cripple our population growth?" Luigsech asked, steepling her fingers together. It was a difficult deal, to be sure, and she was reluctant to trade away her potential best... But the benefits, she hoped, would more than make up for the losses incurred. Freed from Albion's predations, her own eugenics programs could flourish -- an army of Fomorians, perhaps?

“Perhaps one in one hundred will pass the initial screening, fewer still taken permanently. Should your lands produce more, I would be pleasantly shocked,” the ancient man said, his focus more and more drifting towards off in the distance as it seemed their conversation came to an end. “We are in agreement, then?”

"We are in agreement," she confirmed. "...But perhaps you will be pleasantly surprised. My family has spent thousands of years cultivating an optimal population."

“Such is well then, I have no further tests then. The Emperor shall be your final judge.”
“You do yourself a disservice, old friend, as if I would ignore your judgment.” The unremarkable form of Prior Beck spoke, having returned in physical presence to the meeting between Luigsech and the hologram projection of the Sigillite. With a kind smile, that somehow seemed far older than the relative youth of the Prior’s features, he continued, “If other matters require your full attention, I believe I can handle matters from here.”

There was only a soft, and all too weary laugh, from Malcador in reply and with that, the great machine deactivated in a crackle of energy, motes of potential dissolving as they fell upon the floor of the brass chamber. The Prior’s attention then settled on Luigsech, and in a moment, some of the manipulation of reality fell away from the Prior.

The Emperor of Mankind did not reveal the full scope of who or what he was in a blaring moment, for such things might truly damage a being of psychic nature such as the Navigator before him. Instead the human shell that was the Prior shifted slightly, his skin darkening to resemble more the people of long-gone Anatolia, the kindly humble eyes replaced with blazing motes of light, as a fraction of the Emperor’s true being breached into reality.

“You have your audience, Novator.”

"Aha," Luigsech said, a small, knowing smirk cracking her features.

"You are no warlord, then, and the rumours are true of a man who seeks to become sovereign of all humanity..." She said, turning to respectfully bow in greeting to Beck once more.

“Humanity has faltered, but through my guidance it can reclaim its destiny. My reach is great, but for what we wish to achieve, the services of your household would be…expeditious.” The man accepted the bow with a nod of his head, the light that seemed to sear the air itself around him barely dimming with the action. “But what can be achieved, will be achieved, I believe The Sigillite has addressed to you the price of service in my Imperium.”

"...Yes. Yes, he has." Luigsech nodded, momentarily withering under the man's overbearing psychic aura, so hot it almost made her feel like she was developing a fever.

"My House... I have spent a great deal of time shaping them into the ideal Navigator, into the ideal weapon against the witch," she hissed, resisting the urge to spit. This man, if he could even be called that... Unquestionably, he was a psyker, but... Not like those she was used to. Their power was chaotic, wild, their mere presence a bomb waiting to go of, but this? This was... Order.

"...You will find us quite useful, I believe."

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The Invasion of Kush

-Delta Nilus-

-Two Hours Before The Invasion of Memphos-






The hazy, purple horizon of the sky met the crested tops of rising dunes south of the Delta Nihlus. Arid winds blasted grains of coarse, rough sand against the odd limestone chunk sticking out of the ground. Bare of vegetation, the bone dry wasteland stretched out for untold thousands of miles. Broken, fragmented structures from ancient, untold eras dotted the landscape in its vast expanse. Crumbling stone patched by old, rusted metal lay in decay throughout the whispering waste. Brittle, broken bones of inhabitants past stood buried where blasted sand met decaying building. Far beyond these ruins stood the real dwellers of the desert in Cyclopean constructs built high into the sky. Dommed temples of sky-touched stone, risen walls of torched metal, and strange sculptures of half-man-half-mammal creatures halted the arid gales of the Achamenidian desert.

These sights in the midst of darkness were what greeted a pair of large, armored humanoids that crested the dunes overlooking the Gyptian structures. One behemoth wore a cylindrical helmet in the style of Old Terran feudal culture, their body wrapped by bulking plate plainly decorated save for the alabaster pelt serving as a cloak. The other was easily as bulky, albeit devoid of a helmet and bearing a pair of blinking, oblong telescopes. Both kneeled into the arid hill with their attention drawn to the fixed structures heaving out of the sands.

Caravans of smoking vehicles, either drawn by pack animal or driven by archaic technology, traveled into and out of the scorched walls set before them. An array of glow-globes, torches, and luminescent lights arranged themselves around the caravaneers. Silhouettes bedecked in ornate, thin plating guarded the pack in small groups of twenty. Each held a long, shadowy piece of equipment in one hand and an illuminating device in the other. Amongst their number strode mammothine juggernauts in daunting warplate, black exhaust streaking from ramshackle engines attached to their backs. Threateningly enormous shapes were cautiously held in both of their hands, either ending in barrel or blade.

Each of the small groups arrayed around the vehicles moved in a frantic panic, desperately sprinting out into the desert or jogging into the safe gates of the Gyptian citadel. Dark sentinels stood vigil over the returning caravans, their hulking warplates actively moving between the metallic gate and the tall forms of automated turrets on the limestone ramparts. Smaller, scrawnier forms skittered within the walls as impromptu laborers moving in a similarly urgent manner. The crack of whips and screams filled the air as easily as the roar of the
traveling, lumbering engines.

The unhelmeted individual lowered the oblong device and turned to the other.

“The Sigilite’s intelligence appears to be spot-on. The temple-city of Kush is the supply center for the southern Nilus region. Seems like the shipping lanes are working overtime to deliver last minute supplies to Memphos, Alexandrios, and Cairos.” The speaker’s voice was rough, more spackled with coarse sand than the very desert they stood in. His voice resonated, but only part of his lips moved due to excessive facial scarring. His skin was similar in texture to his voice, patchy leather worn beyond years.

“As I’d expect from the Emperor’s protege. Caestus, send out a vox-call to the other Legions situated further along the Nilus, Kush will be handled by the First and we will drag Dynast-King Ammahlud from his throne.” The other’s voice was spoken as if drawn from a lion’s maw, a courageous growl filtered through the unusually archaic helmet. The warrior pulled himself up from his knelt position and turned away from the temple-city sprawled out before him. His attention shifted to those waiting behind the dunes. No fewer than fifty warriors garbed similarly to himself knelt into the sands, the lenses of their helmets gazing up at him.

“Understood, Primarch Aeternus. I’ll fill in Lord Aristagorus and Lady Amalasuntha on the situation in Kush as well. I certainly hope that the Black Hawk feels inclined to follow our assault plan today.” The first speaker, Captain Caestus, chortled before motioning a nearby warrior to unholster their bulky voxcaster. “I still feel like we should’ve let the Achaemnidian foot soldiers deal with the initial assault.”

“They would act upon the ancient Gyptian-Achaemnid rivalry sparked between them. Their warriors would only serve to get in our way, same as those of the Eagle when we conquered the Himalazians.” Aeternus responded, gesturing to the rest of the bulky warriors to gather closely around him.

Each of his warriors were the same, hulking size as him with equal amounts of loudly humming wargear strapped to their body. Some carried oversized lasrifles, others heavy boltslingers, and even more stored savage melee weapons of wildly different categories along their armor. Many of their number held cocksure smiles plastered across their lips. Fewer bit their lips to hold back their bloodlust. Aeternus saw all of them. From their tiny, excited movements to their eager weapon fiddling. Each one he had named himself for in a way they were like his own blood. The noisy rumbling of the voxcasting box nearby honed his thoughts as the gathered throng awaited his word.

“The Gyptians think they can defy the noble cause sought by our Master, but His conquest is a goal beyond their understanding. We have fought the tribes of the Eagle and the Dragon. We have suppressed the Steppe Lords of Northern Indoi. We have dragged the Mountain Kings of Akkad from their holes. Each doubted the power of the Emperor’s thunder warriors, and each time they fell upon our blades.”

They stirred like animals, some beginning to flex their hands over their weapons and others starting to bray behind the rising sands. Aeternus could feel their anticipation as keenly as any of their number, yet it still disappointed him beyond measure to see warriors of their kind inviting savagery upon themselves. He was, however, alone in that thought as his warriors ecstatically glanced between each other. Their purpose was war, nothing else.

“Lady Black Hawk has confirmed that her side of the Legion is prepared for a frontal assault. Lord Aristagorus has stated on a force-wide encrypted vox transmission that the invasion of Memphos is imminent - willed none other than by the Emperor.” The captain spoke, returning with a disfigured smile blessing his scarred face. His soft, heterochromic eyes fell on Aeternus as the thunder warriors began to rile themselves up from a short speech. “Seems we’re ready to fight. Damned shame we can’t join the frontal assault, you know how much I love ‘em.”

“In your old age you’d likely be felled by their champions. No, I’d prefer you join me in a tactical strike. We are the God-Slayers. We do not settle for less than surgical assaults on enemy command. Otherwise, we would be more like the Iron Gorgons or the Nightbringers.” Aeternus shook his head in feigned disinterest at Caestus’ comment, then returning his attention to the temple-city in the distance.

“God-Slayers. Heed me. Kush hides itself within a valley, protected by wall and sand. Lady Black Hawk will see to it that her vaunted skills are put to good use. We have a different objective. Scale the valley wall and drop into the temple-city. Let none who oppose our Imperium survive, slaughter their commanders and spare the feeble.” Aeternus’ voice boomed, echoing the command as a lion roaring to his pack. The yellow fists of ramshackle, powered plating met sand as the warriors readied themselves for slaughter. Weapons were reloaded and primed, plating was pounded for assurance, and helmets were readjusted for the coming fight.

Aeternus felt their excitement. A plethora of combat cocktails augmented deeply throughout his body had already begun to pour into him. Automatically, his black gauntlet reached behind him and drew the large blade sheathed to his back. A titanic slab of dark metal fashioned into great blades of yore. He wielded it effortlessly in one hand, running a thumb over the activation rune that ignited a jet of searing plasma along its edge. Other weapons, motorized or powered, thrummed to life amongst their number as the hour of slaughter fell closer.

The warlord of the First Legion smiled, not for wanton slaughter but for the future pride of succeeding another campaign in the Emperor’s name.


-During the Invasion of Memphos-


Amethyst sky had given way to the brilliant, orange haze of day, smothered only by the incessant smog that perpetually polluted Terra’s atmosphere. The Delta Nilus burned, billowing smoke rising from several temple-cities and outlier scrap-towns loyal to Gyptus. The Raptor readily flew in locations decimated by the Emperor’s legion of yellow-coated super-soldiers. Others remained barren from the focused extermination sought out by the Emperor’s arbitrary heralds.

The valley that Kush nestled into was ablaze with the throng of war. Where once a river of caravans ushered in fresh trade between the temple-city and the rest of Gyptus now stood an alleyway of death and despair. Chunks of metal, meat, and stone scattered along either valleyside as a tide of yellow advanced upon the limestone ramparts. Streaks of bright red flashed down from the top of the walls, vomited forth from unwieldy weapons in the hands of feverish enemies. Rock exploded in great fragments as missiles screamed from bulky rocket tubes.

Gyptian soldiers garbed in strange masks and thin, ornate armor looked on in despair as juggernauts in yellow warplate descended upon their shattered ramparts. Screams of terror and pain pierced the air as the Raptor’s hulks slaughtered the defenders wholesale with lasrifle and motorized blade. The stationary turrets that had hindered their advance were quickly silenced by a flying, golden individual that joined the massacre of the temple-city’s defenses. Slaves scattered or fell to their knees in terror as the invasion breached the first walls into the city. Their masters, either dissolved into pink mist or humbled by lethal blows, had left them to die in the slaughter.

As the first gate fell, the yellow horde drove through the shattered limestone into the next layer of the temple-city. The warriors of the Raptor congregated just beyond the broken remains of the rampart, heralded by one of their number wielding a pair of deadly, motorized axes. With one weapon, he gestured it towards a hulking individual with a voxcaster on their back. With the other weapon, he gestured it at the second wall leading further into the temple-city.

“Bring me a vox.” The warrior stated before his attention fell upon the fleeing forces of the Kushian defenders. “You have but one choice in this situation, Kushites! Deliver the head of your lord, or suffer the consequences for disobeying your rightful Emperor!”

His voice was a savage bark delivered from the maw of a helmet formed into the shape of a snarling canid, his axing revving in response to his outburst of emotion. The yellow warplate that hummed on his person was bedecked in Himalazian furs and engraved with the streaking lightning of the Raptor’s legions. The warrior that he had gestured to earlier delivered a hefty, metallic box with a wide antenna. The raised axe fell to his side, signaling the fighting to begin again as he lowered himself to the voxcaster. Oversized boltslingers vomited huge slugs of explosive bolts into the edifice of the second bulwark while lasrifles scorched pinholes into the limestone walls.

+’Primarch. The initial layer has been breached. The Black Hawk has begun her hunt. The second layer will be breached in the next moment. The slaughter continues.’+ He spoke briefly, matter of fact and without interest. The anticipation to continue fighting forced him to fiddle with the activation runes on his motorized axes. Others within his cohort wouldn’t have been able to muster such complexities in their battlelust, but he was not beyond that capacity. Not yet.

+’Understood, Victorius. Glory to your edge of the battlefield. Slaughter in moderation.’+ The response was to Victorius’ liking, simple and sweet. Brief enough for him to keep himself engaged in the battlelust that he craved. Aetherius’ remark on slaughter brought a grim smile to his lips. The Primarch had always been keen on tactical moderation, but he still knew that warriors such as himself could never be shackled like caged animals.

“Glory to the Raptor!” Victorius Nero screamed, laughing at the maximum capacity that his augmented lunges could handle. Those legionnaires around him - his brothers - chortled as heartily as he did as they sprinted across the killzone set between the primary wall and the tertiary gate. Fearful, unaugmented humans were fast, but none were faster than the ground-pulverizing feet of the thunder warriors. He and his cadre tore and butchered the smaller combatants as they fled to their next layer of defenses. Bodies, limbs, and free flung organs were thrown in sporadic directions as the yellow tide advanced once more.




While the Black Hawk hunted the ramparts and beyond from her impressive height, teams of yellow giants followed after her in long, cumbersome gaits. As her golden wings led an onslaught, those warriors that pursued fought with practiced precision. Those left behind in Lady Amalasuntha’s carnage were quickly dispatched by boltslinger pistols or razor-edged knives the size of a mortal man’s leg. Unlike their brethren on the ground, these giants simply killed and moved on instead of relishing in the slaughter.

Just behind the fiery Custodian, yet beyond the following cadre of superhuman knights, strode a warrior bedecked in a shadowy cowl that blended into a long cloak of torn fabric and feather. An archaic pistol of unknown power was wielded in one hand and a wrist-mounted blade of superheated metal attached to the other. He sprinted faster and longer than his fellow troops, easily able to keep up with the one that he followed so closely. Though he had no wings to speak of, the warrior was as weightless as one could be while being weighed down by imperfect powered armor.

“Lady Amalasuntha! The primary layer has been breached, Captain Nero has begun the assault on the tertiary layer. I’ve confirmed with the voxcaster that Primarch Aeternus has begun his drop assault into the heart of Kush. If you wish to-” Before he could continue speaking, the golden banshee had already flitted away on burning wings to assault her next target. Her lance had been a stroke of brilliance as she flew, impaling a Gyptian and throwing him into the air before exploding the sentinel into a visceral mess.

“Captain Tiberius, Third Cadre has cleared the first layer ramparts completely.” One of the thunder warriors spoke as she halted next to him, her yellow armor stained by fresh ichor. She wiped bits of enemy entrail off the naked flesh on her face before speaking once more. “First Cadre reports extensive enemy interference on the tertiary layer. They had held back their shock infantry in powered armor closer to their temple-citadel. Where would you have us hunt, Captain?”

Tiberius viewed the battlefield from the broken ramparts that their cadre had picked clean, noting every detail from their vantage point. Homes, workshops, and weigh stations had been demolished by the Second Cadre’s assault. Those Gyptian slaves that had bowed their heads in compliance remained as they were with their heads to the ground in trembling kowtow. Meat piles vaguely resembling humanoid shapes clogged short alcoves where the slaughter had been most prevalent. Smaller warriors bearing the sigil of the Raptor had begun quickly moving in after Captain Caligula had mustered the second assault. Those ramshackle mercenaries and drafted soldiers that made up the Imperial army rapidly exfiltrated those that had surrendered.

“Resume the hunt. Aid the Black Hawk where she could need it. Let none that defy the Emperor survive.” Tiberius stated coldly, leaping from his portion of the rampart onto the next. The warrior that he had been speaking with followed shortly after, relaying orders from the Captain to the rest of the cadre. Their footfalls threatened to shatter the limestone beneath their feet with each sprinting jump they took to keep up with Amalasuntha. Each part of the valley-wall that they leapt upon saw the Gyptians laid low, either by the Custodian’s lance or by the Legion’s pistol and blades. For every part of the bastion that fell brought them ever closer to their target - the Grand Palace.




The center of Kush, an already ornate city in the depths of the Achamaenidian desert, rose to meet the sky from its grand palace. An enormous, Cyclopean piece of architecture that dared to resemble a heavily decorated hive spire stood at its core. Smaller, bulbous towers attached to the wonder at every fifteen degree interval, connected thinly by land bridges and megarail lines. Though it paled in comparison to the greater pyramid of Memphos, it stood out on its own as the Gyptian trade-center of the Delta Nilus.

And it was the core target of all Imperial forces in the southern region.

Aeternus’ wished that he could marvel at the architectural superiority that humankind could achieve with Terra in the state that it was; however, wishful thinking was not a part of his duties to the Emperor. He slammed another blackened fist into the limestone wall to lower himself further into the center of the valley. Around him, those yellow armored brethren in his cadre followed suit in their careful infiltration. To his immediate left, Captain Caligula groaned as he heaved his body downward to the Kushian core. To his immediate right, a thunder warrior with a voxcast carefully dropped inches at a time with lightning quick grabs at spontaneous footholds. None of his retinue had fallen. It was to be expected, considering that they were the God-Slayers.

“The battle seems to be going well for them, I’d think. I can barely make out the wings of the Black Hawk from here, but I can certainly see tell which poor Gyptian sods got in her way.” Caligula spoke through gritted teeth as his hands found another stone to latch onto. His head was half turned towards Aeternus’, both of his eyes staring below and beyond at the raging battle. Even in the Achaemenidian summer it was easy to tell what weapons were at play below. Brilliant streaks of red signaled the use of lasrifles, sheens of orange corona spelled the use of disintegration cannons, and the pearlescent blasts of blue spoke of plasmic ordinance.

“Focus, Caestus, we have another twenty feet before we can jump and not fall to our deaths. I refuse to suffer casualties until we reach the ground.” Aeternus’ hissed in response to the Captain’s attempt at horseplay. The other warrior quickly took the order to heart, creasing his lips and quickening his pace. Both of them had an outstanding relationship, as commander and subordinate, as companion and friend, and as genesire and genesired. Regardless of their companionship, the Primarch understood the necessity of honed focus in a situation such as this. Their plan had worked, most of the coreward Gyptian defenders had maneuvered from the primary and tertiary walls to the innermost ramparts. Their diverting of troops would deprive the labyrinthine complex open for an easy, surgical strike.

That was the hope, at least.

As the edges of the coreward rampart were beginning to greet the sights of the First Legion, an ear piercing cry from one of the many sculptures rang out across the central boulevard into the Kushian capital. Although most of the Gyptian defenders had truthfully been drawn to the frontal assault led by the other Legion cadres, there still remained the semi-autonomous machines that guarded their masters unflinchingly. The mammalian-humanoid effigies began to crackle, shedding limestone scales and unsheathing deadly ranged weaponry in the directions of the descending thunder warriors.

“Damnation! Glory for the Raptor! Jump!” Aeternus’ cursed before fully planting his feet against the valleywall and pushing off. His bulky body lunged through the air like an aeronautical bomb unleashed from the fat belly of hypersonic gunship. The yellow armored warriors followed in precisely the same measure, hooting and hollering as they descended through the valley interior. Those dextrous enough to leap and draw their ranged weapons did so with blinding speed, unleashing volleys of blind red lasfire or torrents of oversized stubber rounds into the sculpture-automata.

The primarch spun midair, using the inertia to tear the great blade from his back and plunge directly on top of one of the animated machines. The vicious, crimson corona of the black blade cut through the automata as easily as a surgical knife through flesh. Instinctively, Aeternus brought the flat of the sword up to shield himself from a pair of sculptures firing a pair of heavy stubbers. Both were quickly silenced as Caligula rolled to his side, the lasrifle sharply barking in his hands and striking with precise shots to vital components.

Others of his cadre were not so lucky. Some fell too quickly, shattering their legs on impact and swiftly being silenced by the raw firepower of the automata. Many managed to catch their landing, rolling into a combat form and immediately engaging with the soulless defenders of the Kushian core. Nonetheless, the First Legion had managed to successfully infiltrate the central boulevard of Kush. As if practiced thousands of times over, the thunder warriors began to butcher their immediate surroundings before coalescing towards their Primarch in short form.

“Caligula, get on that vox and announce our surgical strike. If the Black Hawk is feeling particularly vengeful, she’ll meet us at the palace in short order. The second phase has begun.” Aeternus roared, his voice echoing as loud as a screaming missile. A pair of the yellow armored behemoths rushed forward around Captain Caestus, unholstering bulky shields from their backs and slamming them into the brick laid street. The voxcaster from earlier rolled next to her Captain, hoisting the voxcaster from her back as the rest of the cadre advanced from their positions.

Lunging into the fray amidst sporadic stubberfire, Aeternus slashed in perfect timing to the melody of screaming bullets. A crocodilian faced automata fell to his left as the black blade melted it in half, while another crumpled into scrap metal from a violent strike of his blackened fist. Lasrifle erupted from his sides as the Primarch and a number of his retinue ventured forward through the core, slicing and scorching the automata in place of their fleshy counterparts.

Only one last push into the palace.




The tertiary wall - an oblong amalgamation of limestone rockrete and rusted metal - was ablaze from either side. A more prepared, well-organized defense was entrenched on the Gyptian side of the rampart, while the Second Cadre of the Emperor’s First Legion were dug in awaiting the next phase of their operation. Long, fat cannons fused with storage-vats of plasma unloaded gallons of seething death onto the invaders from a safe vantage point. Pairs of yellow armored giants from below unleashed ancient, blinding beams of deadly disintegration against the fortified Gyptians. Over enthusiastic super-soldiers rushed to their deaths in an attempt to climb the rampart from below, while desperately confident sentinels frantically shot any manner of weapon in their possession at the defenseless climbers.

“Understood. Now tell Curzio to do his damned job and silence those cannons!” Captain Nero seethed as the voxcaster relayed the next set of orders from the Primarch. He had spent no longer than fifty minutes stuck at this segment of the Kushian temple-city’s defenses. Time he would rather have spent tossing the enemy’s lifeless corpses from the top of the valley. Their initial defenses had been scattered, harebrained at best; however, it had been a cunning plan to draw in the legionnaires into a killbox designed by the Dynast-King. Despite their successful execution of using their own people as bait, it had done little to actually slow the advance of the Raptor’s legion.

As the next phase began, Victorius removed himself from his barricaded position within the closest structures to the wall and began to sprint forward with his motorized axes revved in excitement. The rest of his retinue followed as willingly as a dog to their master’s heel, frothing at the lips and screaming guttural cries of death. A sudden charge backed by seemingly nothing beside their own bodies momentarily shook the defenders on the rampart. A brazen, suicidal attempt to breach their fortified position drew upon their innate fears. Some immediately broke as a tide of yellow fearlessly flung themselves forward into hell’s embrace, abandoning their position and sprinting away in cowardice towards the inner walls. Others, cocksure of their defenses, remained to spit salvoes of plasma and las into the Raptor’s behemoths.

Their seemingly reckless charge, however, wasn’t backed by insane bravery. While the Gyptian sentinels were waylaying the oncoming horde of titanic warriors, a shadowy figure slipped past their perception and into their formation. A pair of yellow gauntlets crushed the skull of a man that had been operating the stationary plasma cannon on the leftmost side of the tertiary gate. A cry never escaped their lips as they were immediately terminated. Other yellow armored behemoths emerged from valley catwalks and building rooftops to descend upon the defenders, tearing limb and flesh with blade and pistol. The first warrior to the hunt maneuvered to the cogitator controlling the gate controls, pressing the activation rune to open the portcullis into the tertiary layer. In unison, the would-be assassins leapt from the top of the tertiary rampart into the advancing tide below.

“Damnation, Curzio, any longer and I would’ve rushed the gates myself - Primarch’s precious plans be damned.” Captain Nero boomed as he approached the newly arrived thunder warriors, splitting the tide of rushing warriors blitzing further into Kushite territory. The one to whom he spoke calmly with walked forward to greet him, slamming his fist against the Raptor on his breastplate.

“Then we shall discuss with Primarch Aeternus to assign you the priority of defending Lady Amalasuntha. Be thankful that the Black Hawk rushed beyond our capability to keep up, otherwise more of your cadre would’ve died.” Captain Tiberius sneered as he spoke with the more aggressive commander in the Legion. The comments only forced Nero to wear an uglier smile beneath his canid shaped helmet.

“As much as I appreciate the Black Hawk as a kindred in the martial spirit, bodyguarding isn’t my duty. Slaughtering and butchering the foes of my liege is.” Nero began to speak as the two began rushing forward into the tertiary domain, a select handful of their own cadre arranging around the two commanders in a protective cluster. Nero continued to speak as the familiar whistling of a screeching jetpack raced onward within their sight. “Seems your duty is no longer to bodyguard, then. You can take the supporting role of this phase, I’ve been dying to run free this entire invasion!”

Before Tiberius could properly respond to the other Captain, Nero had already sprinted forward with inhuman agility, recklessly activating his motorized axes like an overstimulated child with a new toy. He begrudgingly accepted his new duty, holstering the archaic pistol and removing a long barreled lasrifle from his back. Echoing the movements of their commander, the Third Cadre seamlessly swapped from close quarters combat wargear to medium-long ranged weapons. Curzio brought up one of his hands and flicked a pair of his fingers five times, signaling to split away from the Second Cadre’s charge. Those in his cadre began to splinter off from the yellow tide, slamming their shoulders into self-defining barricades and lay down suppressing fire on the final wall to block their reunion with the First Cadre.

It stood before them. The final defense into the Kushite core. A towering, monolithic wall greater in scale and grander in decoration than the previous ramparts had been. Four titanic sculptures of previous Kushite Dynast-Kings stood sentinel at even intervals along the inner-wall. Coreward defenders, and those that managed to flee the initial invasion, stood ready nearly five stories into the sky upon the temple-cities final barricade. Those that had the capacity to wear powered exoskeleton plating bore it, while those that could not cautiously hoisted heavy weapons and tempered rifles on wall bracings.

“Glory for the Raptor!” The Captain of the Second Cadre screamed, receiving a warcry that rumbled the valley from those thunder warriors around him.




“The final assault on the inner wall has begun, Aeternus. I’m sure the Second Cadre will be thankful for your order. Damned berserkers were practically giddy when I told them that the second phase was underway.” Captain Caligula stated, kicking over a destroyed automata that wildly sparked with a hole drawn through its metallic skull. The other half of the cadre had already split off to ensure logistical destruction within the capital, while the remainder were given the task of carrying out the surgical strike. Fifty of their number remained around the Primarch, no fewer than forty had scattered to fight further into the Kushite core.

“Their wants matter little in this regard, but it does bring me a smile knowing that their wishes and mine align in rare cases.” Aeternus swiftly responded as he glanced up at the descending macroelevator, slowly climbing down to the foot of the grand palace. Hundreds of the screaming sculpture-automata lay strewn about in scrap piles from their previous assault. After the initial wave of the machines were defeated, none dared to come further past that point. In truth, he felt disappointed that there was so little resistance in the capital of their most precious trade city.

“You’re too soft on them, Rex. They’ll pick up on that weakness eventually-”

“I am as soft on them as I am on the disobedient masses that fail to see the truth of the Emperor’s conquest. I am not blind to their cravings, Caestus, same as yours.” The Primarch interrupted, a tinge of anger creeping into his already booming voice. Noticing the shift in his demeanor, Aeternus quelled the fury that built up inside him. He was no stranger to the vices of his Legion, nor to the difficulties that it could bring. Regardless of those traits, Aeternus had honed his Legion into a fighting machine unlike any other. He refused to have their glory tarnished, even slightly.

“My apologies, Rex, I know how you feel about us… Do you think that the Black Hawk will reach us in time?” The First Cadre Captain spoke, initially remorsefully before switching the subject as the macroelevator chimed with its arrival at the base of the grand palace. Those thunder warriors that remained from the cadre readied themselves. Boltslingers were quickly reloaded, lasrifles tuned to overcharge, and blades held in a defensive position. Aeternus neutrally stood with his greatblade dug into the ground, one hand on the draconic pommel and another on the hefty crossguard.

The macroelevator gate, ornately decorated with the heraldry of the Dynast-King of Kush - a haughty sparrow caring aloft a golden scepter - greeted the sight of waiting genesoldiers. A screen of energy began to perforate, dissolving to allow those to enter and exit the platform as required. The gate split away in both directions on automated tracks, slowly revealing the interior of the ascending chamber into the grand palace.

And the current inhabitant.

There was no shortage of cursed creatures in the wastelands of Terra’s post-apocalyptic future. Terrifyingly augmented supersoldiers, irradiated creatures glowing with explosive pustules, and technological horrors on multiple limbs now fill the world that it had once been. What stood before them was an abomination that combined all three of those types of nightmares. A panoply of flesh, metal, and limb in radical increments of eight. A vaguely humanoid face, shackled by monstrous respirator and ill-fitted optical devices, wedged itself between mountains of pale muscle. Eight arms, four on either side, augmented by a plethora of exterior chunks of technology hoisted a splattered canvas of machinery ranging from heavy stubbers to plasmic emitters. Tubes filled with all manner of necrotic fluid plugged into several rises of skin on the creature. The air filled with hints of electrical charge and the sharp stink of ozone in the presence of the creature.

It howled a dreadful gale of turbulent force.

The thunder warrior had been prepared for a counterattack of some kind, but a monstrosity of this caliber was not anticipated; however, none doubted their duty or faltered in their resolve. Aeternus was the first to bark, activating the technoseal on the black blade and shifting his stance into an offensive lunge. Caestus hipfired the lasrifle. The other fifty yellow knights reacted immediately with boltslinger, lasrifle, plasmic repeater, and disintegrator carbine. Some had already started the process to lunge at the being with blade, motorized axe, or powered mace.

None of these actions would succeed, save for the Primarch's movements.

It burst forward from the macroelevator with unnatural speed, moving from standstill to the charging speed of a hive’s magrail train in a matter of miliseconds. Lasfire and bolts useless plunged into its flesh as it knocked aside the entire formation. thunder warriors flew across the core courtyard of Kush, some managed to recover from the charge with their limb intact. Others turned to visceral paste as they clashed with structures, flattening their anatomy down to a thimble. Only the Primarch managed to wound the creature in the midst of its impossible gait, severing two of its eight arms before being flung a short distance away. Captain Caligula only partially managed to recover himself, colliding with a large sculpture and puncturing his powered armor in several places.

“Scatter! Focus fire on this abomination’s limbs! Raptor Imperialis!” Primarch Aeternus’ roared as he rushed forward to meet the chimeric creature with the practiced skill of a genetic soldier. The great blade was a flurry of obsidian, crimson corona, and sizzling flesh as the Himalazian knight engaged the abomination in close-quarters combat. It screamed, howled, bayed, cried, and roared all at once and in eight different voices. Aeternus stole the mutated things attention as it wildly flailed in an attempt to defeat the Primarch.

The thunder warriors of the First Legion shuffled once more, regaining their wits and joining the fray. The handful that remained broken but alive began to coalesce into one region, aiding Captain Caligula and jamming combat stimulants into their exposed flesh. Caestus cursed himself as he punched one of his legs back into working condition, accepting the assistance of a warrior with their brain exposed. The remainder of the functioning cadre had discarded their ranged weapons in favor of melee weapons. Screams of hungry engines and humming powerfields filled the air above the dismal cry of the abomination.

“Get off me! One of you get the voxcaster and get the Black Hawk on call, the rest of you join the fight with your Primarch!” Caestus yelled, removing a stimulant from a tactical pouch and slamming it into an exposed part of his powered armor. His eyes dilated as the stimulant pushed him to full prowess, ignoring any possible brain fog and pain intolerance. Yellow gauntlet’d fingers gripped the shaft of a hefty blade at his side, tearing the weapon from its sheath and thumbing the activation rune to ignite the powerfield. The First Cadre Captain descended into the fray with his power sword ready.

Aeternus accepted a punch to the flat side of his gargantuan blade before riposting deep into the abomination's flesh, pulling sidewards to lop off the other two arms on the right side of its torso. The chimeric being howled in protest, dancing away and unleashing a torrent of bullets against the throng of thunder warriors that had entered the combat. Bullet, beam, las, and plasma melted powered armor and scavenged plating alike as it shuffled back. Those lucky enough to duck away were quickly met by the rampaging limbs that demolished their pilfered wargear. In a manner of minutes the abomination had whittled Aeternus’ retinue to a mere fifteen from the original fifty with only Caligula and himself with a handful of others still actively fighting.

Aeternus prepared for another assault, hopping backwards to coordinate a great lunge into the core of the beast. He calculated that it would be successful. He knew that it was a worthy risk. The alternative was not allowable. Death, at this point, would only disgrace the unification of Terra. He would not die here, nor would he be laid low by a mutant aberration.

Fortunately enough as well, the barking of an ancient weapon sounded from above. Kinetic rounds sending the beast into recoil as it shredded away armor. The indomitable form of the Black-Hawk slammed into the creature from about, her lance burying itself where armor had been destroyed. The force of the attack unbalanced the creature enough to send it to ground. Her hands blazed with incomprehensible speed, drawing her misericordia and rending away limbs and tubes sending black ichor splaying across the floor. Yet even to the masterful genetics of the Custodian, the thrashing creature was enough to force her off.

Her auramite pinion activated, taking to air as the beast struggled to its feet only for the thunder warriors to slam into it, hacking and slashing with their weapons in near maddened frenzy. Once more did the abomination thrash with what remained of its limbs, using its mass to knock aside some of the God -Slayers. More kinetic shots rang from above, Aeternus saw his opening and surged forwards as the abomination brought up its plasma repeater to try and shoot the venatari out of the air. With one swift strike, the primarch severed the weapon from the beast. Another horrid screech before it thrashed and threw Aeternus with what remained of the severed limb.

As it mindlessly surged forth towards the thunder warriors, Amalasuntha’s pinion screeched overhead. Another impact with her lance sent the beast sprawling onto its chest, but this time she wasted no time. With gene-wrought might she grappled the mutant, locking an arm around its throat and ripping away its respirator. It hacked and coughed as the air entered its lungs. Thrashing and coughing, the beast tried to stand but the custodian kicked out its leg - forced to one knee as Amalasuntha’s grip tightened.

The smell of ozone intensified, lightning crackled from one of the creature’s augments. Yet, swiftly did the Black-Hawk move, placing her talons around the beast’s and kicking off the ground. Her blackened wings spun and activated. Blood sprayed onto the floor. The smell of ozone began to dissipate. She landed in front of one of the thunder warriors, the creature’s head gripped within her hands. The head fell with a thud against the ground. Amalasuntha looked to Aeternus, the black ichor of the beast coating her head with the only white of her form being that of her eyes, before finally speaking to the Primarch, “Our work is not yet done, warrior. Gather what remains of your men, we must end this siege.”

The primarch simply nodded, turning away from the corpse of the abomination to face the few that remained standing after the devastation. Twenty had survived the encounter, nine remained broken, and eleven had managed to remain combat worthy for the next stretch of the siege. Aeternus’ eyes narrowed on the limping form of Caligula, the captain’s form beginning to slouch over the powered blade stabbed into the ground. A single look from the older warrior was all he needed to know of his condition. The First Legion commander silently seethed behind the knightly helmet, turning away from the form of his ailing captain to regard the survivors.

“You heard Lady Amalasuntha. The siege is not over. The broken will remain to guard the elevator with their lives. The rest will join the fray. Onward!” The primarch roared, his commands being heard from beyond nominal range. Those yellow armored warriors that remained slammed their blood-coated fists against their chest, saluting the Raptor engraved upon it. Their voices howled in response, a cacophony of war cries that echoed the call for war.

With no need for an order to be repeated, those Himalazian knights designated to the assault force began to collect their discarded ranged weapons with a sense of calm, collected urgency. Boltslingers were racked, lasrifle energy packs were swapped, and plasmic repeaters were set to vent stored heat. As they retrieved their weapons, sheathing their most gruesome blades, the First Legion entered into the macroelevator to await the next phase of their siege.

Aeternus hefted the obsidian blade against one of his sculpted pauldron, the crimson edged corona long having been deactivated when the abomination was defeated. His footfalls fell in time with the Black-Hawk as the pair strided into the ascender, stopping shortly after the two had fully entered the platform. His spare hand inputted a series of digits into a small cogitator within the chamber, then pressing the activation rune to initiate the ascension process. The device regurgitated an ear-piercing shrill of binary before their surroundings started to violently shake. After a tense moment, the platform rose beneath their feet.

“You have my gratitude, Lady Black Hawk. The First Legion owes you their lives.” The Primarch spoke with exceptional sincerity in his voice. His body language echoed the appreciation in a muted way, the thunder warrior’s helmet slightly inclined towards the Custodian and his armored form facing the front of the ascender. The Himalazian pelt-cape attached to his back jolted in period increments as the ascender rose. His black armored fingers flexed in preparation for the next fight, one in which he hoped to prove his worth to the Custodian.

The ever stoic Amalasuntha was tempted to disregard the words of the barbarian, such a creature would have been felled no matter what. She slid her misericordia between a bent arm to clean it from the abomination’s blood - despite herself still being drenched in ichor herself. Not after too long a silence the Black Hawk spoke to the God-Slayer, her own voice not matching the sincerity of Aeternus, “You fought well enough. Soon, the city shall be in control of the Emperor, the defenders are overrun.”

“It was preordained. The Emperor bade Kush fall and its Dynast-King murdered before the First Legion. So it is.” Aeternus replied, echoing the sentiment of the Black Hawk as the ascender entered its final stages of arrival. The thunder warriors around himself and the Custodian began to shuffle, twitch, and bay at the sound of future slaughter. A look from the Primarch was all that was needed to stifle their behavior, the Himalazian knights returning to calculated battle preparation. “The Sigilite only further assured the Emperor’s victory. You have ensured the Raptor flies over Kush.”

The Black Hawk cast a discerning glare to the Thunder Warriors, grip tightening around her Lance. The praise of the Primarch seemed to pass by her as she looked over the warriors - none knew. Her gaze traveled back to Aeternus, she knew him to be a fine warrior but it was clear where her mind was. Amalasuntha spoke softly, “Your warriors better be ready for what comes for them. The future may not be so kind.”

The final call came to them in the next moment, a shrill scream of binary code that erupted from a nearby cogitator. The platform shook around them as magnetic rails found their home in the gravitic mechanism at the top of the grand palace. The screeching of metal followed after several seconds of high intensity vibration as the gates began to open. Immediately, the stench of incense and ozone flooded into the ascender. The taste of iron filled the mouth, repugnant decay filtered into the nostril, and a sickeningly sweet siren song penetrated the ears. Their eyes witnessed the foray of the grand palace before them, bedecked in a myriad of Gyptian silks and statues. From the ascender to the bottom of the throne at the furthest end of the room, chandeliers and braziers were lit as bright as fresh plasma spewed forth from the archaic weapons of the Long Night. Golden censers, formed in the shape of the naked body, disgorged vast streams of lilac haze from eight, enormous pillars. No precession greeted them, only eerie silence and the singsongy chime of metallic ornaments.

Aeternus, saving future dialogue for later, lowered the great blade from his sculpted pauldron and moved first into the grand palace proper. Carefully, confident steps brought him forward to the first set of Cyclopean pillars that held this section of the palace together. The rest of the thunder warriors moved with him after Lady Amalasuntha, surrounding their commanders with fortified spirits and wargear raised. As the Imperial invaders made their presence known halfway through the room, the ringing of a bell began to emanate at the end of the foray. The artificial darkness at the base of the Dynast-King’s throne lifted, unveiling the architect of the invasion’s counteracting force. Flanked by a pair of robed figures, the lord of Kush groaned in eternal pain upon their governing seat. Flesh stretched from dais to baldachin, sinew masterfully etched with mechanical protrusions and mutated tendrils alike. The horrendously disfigured patch of skin that sufficed as the face of Ammahlud was contorted into a weeping maw of despair. Sucking, slinking appendages as long as a rope slowly drained the King’s life into green vats of stinking ichor.

Finally noticing the intrusion into their lair, the robed figures began to step away from Ammahlud’s distorted form. Both disrobed as they slowly maneuvered towards the Raptor’s warriors, revealing their similarly contorted figures to them. The being on the left was a cacophony of visible sinew, horn, and mechanical augmentation with a pair of ominous, dripping sickles the size of a carnosaur’s foot. The being on the right had mutated skin like stone freshly dissolved by magma, wielding a leviathan blade retrieved from the pillar closest to them. Those creatures stopped shy of engagement distance from the First Legion, eyeing down the invaders with curiosity and an eerie sense of sanguinity.

“The Anathema’s fight is futile. It is spoken beyond. In the void, the Raptor falls. Submit. Breathe in life as Ammahlud did.” The mutant on the left spoke with a soft, savory voice that belied it’s overtly disgusting appearance. Within close proximity, a normal human would have felt faint and weakened by the beings presence; however, those engineered by the mastercrafted biogenetics of the Emperor felt no such yearn.

“His Legions will be broken! His hands will be shattered! It is spoken! In the void! The Raptor falls! Die, valorously, glorious, in vain!” The mutant on the right spoke with a fiery temper, heat cascading in tumultuous waves around it. Piercing eyes that wept vitae like fresh lava barreled down on the thunder warriors. An attempt to thwart the spirit of the invaders, to scream in their face and shatter the core of their beliefs; however, they were resilient and held an indomitable spirit.

No further words were spoken for none needed to be said. Boltslingers and lasrifles erupted from the thunder warrior’s group, their formation splitting in two separate combat squads that focused down on the mutants before them. Pairs of yellowed armored giants drew savage melee weapons, activating engine or powerfield, and dived into close combat with the disturbing guardians of Kush’s throne. The being on the left deftly stepped out of bullet trajectory before disemboweling the first thunder warrior to cross their path, leaving corrosive rends where the gene-soldier had been penetrated. The being on the right hefted the crimson, leviathan sword as a shield against bolts and lasfire alike. A Himalzian knight charged with a grenade in one and a motorized axe in the other, but fell short as the red mutant simply crumbled him with the flat side of their blade.

Aeternus Rex required no direction to fling himself into combat with the mutant with the heavy blade, wielding his own black sword against the charred creature. Aggressively thumbing the activation rune, the Primarch’s weapon illuminated the area around him with a crimson corona that threatened to slice through the environment. Penultimate genes forged pushed him further than his lesser brethren, slamming into the abomination with a ruthless shoulder bash before swinging his personal weapon in a wide arc around himself. Desperately, the aberrant hefted their own weapon skyward, blocking a gnarly slice from the gene-soldier with the flatside of their monstrous wargear. The two squared off further along the rightmost side of the chamber, flitting and feinting away from the Custodian and closer to the twisted form of the Dynast-King.

On the left, shots rang against the other creature as the venatari harried the creature from the air. It deftly moved out of the way but focused upon the Himalzians that charged it. Cleaving and hacking, dancing and dodging. Even as Amalasuntha came diving from the air did the abomination dance out of her path - just barely. Sparks flew as the Black Hawks lance slid across the floor, pulled just in time to avoid being lodged within the flooring. Amalasuntha went on the offensive, her feet dancing with the abomination as the Custodes relied on her training Kaptaris. It relied upon its speed to match the Custodes but the Hawk moved too swiftly, too aggressively for it to attack. Even as it attempted to retreat, the custodian fell upon it, keeping it confined to one area.

Other warriors joined the fray, hacking and slashing like madmen against the left creature. All it could do was twist away with only enough time to parry a blow from the venatari. Cuts ran shallow as some blows connected from the warriors or the custodian, spilling purple blood across the floor. It hissed in delighted agony as it relished the pain, but still it could focus only upon her the Black Hawk who trapped it from being able to quickly dispose of the Himalayan knights that struck at it. Amalasuntha kept her keen eyes upon the mutant, calculating every move - every step. Yet, from the corner of her eye she watched Aeternus’ duel.

As the Black Hawk performed her dancing ka’tah, the Primarch savagely fought against the red mutant with the ferocity typical of his kind. Despite his fighting style appearing barbarous, each swing of Aeternus’ enormous blade was quick and calculated. The aberrant on the right side of the foray found itself eternal on the defense as the Himalazian knight barreled into the monstrosity. Each strike saw the pair pushed further inclined towards the throne, the thunder warrior beating down on the abomination with ruthless efficiency. Where his Custodian counterpart outmatched him handily in speed, Rex’s own strength heavily outmatched the Venatari. A brutal, diagonal swipe towards the legs saw the creature nearing the foot of the Dynast-King’s dais, partially stepping in outstretched skin.

It snarled and barked, protesting the fate in which it had been thrust into. The toothy maw of the mutant began to open as if to speak; however, it was interrupted by a lightning quick jab to the face from the Primarch’s blackened fist. Sharpened teeth shattered beneath the force of the augmented soldier’s blow, followed shortly by a headbutt that threatened to split the creature’s skull into two. Taken aback by the torrent of devastating strikes, the abomination finally found its footing and sprung forward into overhead chop from its leviathan cleaver. To the surprise of the aberrant, Aeternus accepted the strike upon the flat of his obsidian blade. To the horror of the abomination, the thunder warrior failed to stagger, stun, or falter.

Aeternus abandoned the greatblade, allowing the enemy’s cleaver to slide free to his immediate left. A blackened gauntlet gripped the neck of the red mutant while another broke the sword arm of the monstrosity with a swift punch. It howled in pain as it began to choke. The armored fists of the thunder warrior began to glow bright as burning plasma as the aberrant’s skin superheated the plating; however, it would do little to halt the furious onslaught of the Primarch. The Himalazian knight lifted his opponent, swinging downwards several times over. Every bodyslam saw pieces of vitae, brimstone skin, and bloody magma eject from the creature. Satisfied with his carnage, the gene-soldier flung the weakened opponent into one of the eight storied pillars before following up with a sickening kick to the skull. Brain matter exploded in eight different directions, the Primarch’s opponent falling limp, destroyed, and barely recognizable from its original state.

With the Primarch having done his duty, Amalasuntha saw it time to do what she had been made to do. As the abomination attempted to strike at the Custodian for the first time in their bout, the Black Hawk activated her pinion and launched to the side before quickly turning and bringing her lance down upon the forearm of the monstrosity. Blood spewed from the wound and the beast screamed in pain, recoiling and clutching its severed arm before a swift strike severed its legs. It fell upon its back and began to plead for mercy, the other gene-warriors had lost interest and began to move back to their Primarch, leaving the mutant to the Hawk.

“Ple-“ was all it could get out before Amalasuntha lodged her Lance in its head and pulled the trigger on her lever-action. Sickly sweet blood sprayed the floor before the venatari began to walk back to the other warriors.

She gave no further thought to the abomination, instead walking to the Dynast-King and gazing upon his form. Were this monarch not her enemy, then she may have felt pity as to his state of being - trapped on a throne of his own agonizingly overgrown skin. Amalasuntha looked upon his despondent face, it was clear that whatever had been done to him caused him great pain and now he was nothing more than a shell of a man. The venatari looked to the Primarch of the First, stepping away from the throne and leveling her lance at the Dynast-King.

“We must find his kin. This palace must be purged, Aeternus,” she said in a voice quite out of character, softness unheard by the Thunder Warriors. There was a moment’s pause, only broken as she fired the kinetic shot that ripped the would-be king asunder, before the Black Hawk amended her order, “Spare the children. Perhaps they may not be cemented in fate.”




The Raptor flew from the highest peak of Kush’s grand palace - the symbol of conquest and victory. Silence, save for the meticulous tiding of oncoming Imperial vehicles, filled the void where defiant defenses had once bristled against merciless invaders. The Gyptian walls, streets, and cities were slick with the blood of Kushite defenders. Alleys were clogged with limbs, cadavers, and other pieces of dismembered flesh tossed aside by the Emperor’s butchers. Those that had surrendered were being forced out of their own home, shackled in chains and led into the vast city of tents outside the walls. Buildings that held any markings related to the Gyptian faith were burned, shattered, and destroyed in bombastic finality. Thunder warriors still patrolled alcoves, meeting places, and broad plazas in distinctive patterns to ensure no further fighting broke out.

The Primarch of the First Legion, as well as all of his cadre commanders, stood in a half-circle around a hololithic table. A bulky vox caster nearby filled the chamber around them with the voices of Imperial commanders across the Delta Nilus. Hazy, orange light filtered in from decorated windows as they debriefed on the second highest chamber of Kush’s grand palace. Other, smaller humans stood on the other half of the table. Some were dressed as officers of the Imperial Army, another pair in robes signifying them as the Sigilite’s messengers, and a final handful as Achaemenidian envoys from the recently acquired vassal-state. The Black Hawk remained nearby, closest to the genesoldiers of the Emperor and closer still to Aeternus Rex. All had their eyes drawn to the risen map projected above the table, a Raptor symbol proudly displayed over their current location.

“Kush has fallen, the Dynast-King and his guardians were defeated. As the Emperor had mandated, those that surrendered have been spared. Those that rebelled against His word were quelled. All religious paraphernalia has been disposed of. The First Legion will now reunite with Lord Aristagorus in Memphos.” Aeternus Rex stated, his voice booming as if relaying commands from the rearguard. The non-augmented slightly flinched as the Primarch began to speak, slowly growing accustomed to the way that the First Legion’s commander spoke. “Pieces of the Dynast-King Ammahlud’s flesh have been delivered as requested by the Sigilite’s order. Patrols have been set until the moment the Legion leaves. Achaemenidian relics have been left untouched as requested.”

“And what of the Ammahlud’s golden horde atop his grand palace?” One of the Achaemend envoys asked, spoken with greed masked as sincerity typical of their culture. The man wore a lightweight garb of orange, gray and gold, armored by small sheets of ornate metal sculpted to reflect their culture.

“Destroyed. Each piece was meticulously eradicated to erase the taint of the Dynast-King’s deeds. Any further questions about the Dynast-King’s treasury will be met with swift retaliation.” The thunder warrior quickly replied, the question having already been raised several times before by similar delegates of the Achaemenid Empire. His frustration did not fall on deaf ears, the envoys raising their hands in an apologetic manner. The small group spoke amongst themselves in their natural tongue before moving out of the chamber with short bows of their tanned forms.

“Will the First Legion be assigning a garrison to Kush, or will the Imperial Army once again have to muster defenders in the wake of the thunder warriors?” The officer questioned with a tone of careful accusation, her eyes locking with the Primarch as if she already knew the answer to the question. Her attire counted the officer as one of the Imperial Army commanders, the very one assigned to support the forward advance of the First Legion. She appeared as an older, sterner woman adorn in the military organizations red coats and Himalazian pelts typical for their troops. Fiery, ginger hair expertly restricted into a military bun accented her aged, yet fresh skin. “I worry, Primarch, that this will be a repeat of Akkad. Once your Legion has left the region, the possibility of open rebellion skyrockets. I implore you to leave at least a squad behind, if nothing else than for the recruiting process.”

Aeternus considered for a moment, then shook his helmeted head in rejection to the request of the officer.

“Our duty is to annihilate where the Emperor wishes, Commander Eddith Krayl, there will be no First Legion garrison at Kush. The Raptor must rule the Delta Nilus. We will ensure that becomes a reality. Request assistance from the Achaemnids if you suffer a lack of personnel.” The Primarch spoke with an edge to his voice, dismissing the rightful request of the Imperial commander who proceeded to seeth and storm out of the chamber. Her entourage of scribes, officers, and communicators followed quickly behind her like dogs leashed to their master. Captain Caligula stifled his laughter, barely able to contain a deep guffaw before Aeternus began to speak again.

“Sigilites. Relay to your master that his assistance - his duty - was greatly appreciated. Kush would not have fallen without his information, nor would we have suffered so little casualties. Relay to the Emperor our triumph and our next destination. We will be marching within the next day.” Aeternus Rex softly spoke, finally turning to greet the pair of robed men that had been patiently waiting for the affair to end. Both inclined their heads in the direction of the Primarch, who reciprocated their response with one of his own. A large vial was carried between the two as they exited the chamber, shielded by hexagrammic patterns and heavy plating.

As the final, unaugmented human left the chamber, the gathered throng of thunder warriors began to relax. Caligula stretched his torso, fresh wounds still aching from the battle within the confines of the Kushite core. Nero groaned, leaning his back against the reinforced limestone wall directly behind him. Tiberius leaned forward on his hands, intently staring at the floating image of the Delta Nilus. Aeternus remained as he was, yet his eyes bounced between all of his captains before speaking once more.

“The Raptor flies over Kush. A feat not possible without the First Legion. We have slain those that herald themselves as deities. Take pride in that fact. Attend to your cadre, count those of us that have fallen, and resupply your equipment. This is your leisure time, use it wisely before we destroy the next foe of the Emperor. You are dismissed. Raptor Imperialis.” The Primarch spoke with strict warmth in his voice, lightly tapping a blackened fist against the emblem of the Emperor engraved upon his breastplate. Caligula smiled widely, echoing the salute and removing himself from the chamber with a limp in his step. Nero grinned a toothy smile, slamming his fist against the symbol on his shoulder before leaving. Tiberius solemnly nodded, repeating the gesticulation before slinking out with the rest of his brethren.

The chamber was now devoid of its original attendants save for Aeternus and the Black Hawk, who continued to eye down the holotable with vested interest. The symbol of the Raptor hovered over pockets of red signifying the cities currently engaged with the Emperor’s armies. Smaller, golden icons moved across the vast Gyptian planes reflected in the hologram, signaling those armies that were actively moving in conjunction with the invasions. Plentiful more sigils populated the display, different meanings for each and every one that blinked. The Primarch inclined his head towards Lady Amalasuntha.

“Will you be joining us for Memphos or Alexandrios, Lady Amalasuntha?” Aeternus asked, using one of his armored fingers to hone the holograph around the blazing zone representing Memphos. The question was redundant for he knew what the Black Hawks duty was. The Primarch was further aware how often the Custodian had been intently watching him, similar to that of predatory avians. He did not fear her, neither for her duty nor for her vigilance.

“I shall,” were the only words to come out of her mouth, her eyes focusing on the Primarch. Her hand propped up the master-crafted Lance before she walked to the table. The blackened armor of the custodian was bathed in red, black outlines disappearing into the darkness behind her. A comment flew from her mouth, “Some show signs of instability, how will you handle them?”

Aeternus felt his ire rise for a moment before diminishing into a cool facade behind the helmet. A breath escaped his lips as he considered the question at hand. Slowly, he reached up and removed the knightly helmet. The very source of the First Legion’s agony revealed itself as it had many times before. An imperfect reflection of his master’s visage was unveiled. Long, silky black hair tied back into a knot dangled around masterfully sculpted, perfect facial features blemished by a dozen scars over bronze skin. His dark eyes met the Custodes with a mixture of pity and resistance.

“They are treated as any of our warriors are. I am not blind to our geneflaw, Custodian. Each member of the Legion experiences it in a different way. Nero and his cadre display short, uncontrollable bursts of violence. Caligula with his moments of intense mindfog. Tiberius with his controlled kleptomania and penchant for skulldruggery. When the signs become too much for them to bear, they’ve approached me with their troubles. In those that can confess they no longer feel the security of their mind, I personally treat them. Same as it has been since we left Indoi.” Aeternus spoke with an eerie calmness to his voice, intentionally remaining cautious with his words so as to not invoke the wrath of the Custodian. He placed his helmet on the edge of the holotable, turning his body to fully address her with well placed respect.

The custodian met Aeternus' eyes with a similar mixture of pity, it was known that while she favored none of the warriors there was a respect for the First Primarch. Her half helm hid the frown that she held. Yet, she was not fully satisfied with the answer that the Primarch had held - knowing that he would favor them as ‘people’ over his duties. She spoke, softly again, “You must know that the instability will strike. When it does, they may kill those under serving of their wrath - companions, civilians.”

"I am aware. I will - I have - perform my duties when their flaws overtake them. The First Legion is well aware of what must be done. You, as well, I hope will perform your duty should madness overtake me." The Primarch stated coldly, well aware of the fact that he was ultimately no different then the thunder warriors under his command. Only that their genecode was derived from his own biology. His face remained stoic, certain, and resolute as he spoke to the Black Hawk. Whatever he may have thought, his words mirrored his true thoughts in this case.

“You are different, Aeternus,” she said, finally speaking to him by his name. Her eyes went sharp as she watched his demeanor, though there was no other change in disposition. Her words came swiftly now, “You are the Primarch of the First Legion of Thunder Warriors. Your geneseed is more resolute - stable. As far as can be seen, you may not succumb to the madness as your others may.”

"I did not think you held that much faith in me, Amalasuntha." Aeternus replied, genuine surprise spreading across his formerly stoic features. The response nearly warranted a small grin from the thunder warrior were it not for her last words. He shook his head after the initial surprise. "If you put that much trust in me, then allow me to assuage your worries. So long as I never falter, then the First Legion will continue to perform their duties without fail."

“Very well - may you serve the Emperor well into your last days. And in those last days, I shall still be watching,” Amalasuntha said, eased by the Primarch’s response. She stepped back into the shadows, darkness enveloping her form. Her words came with her normal composure as she spoke the will of the Emperor, “Our liege expects Mephos and Alexandrios to fall swiftly, Terra must be under him.”

"And so Terra shall be His. Raptor Imperialis, Amalasuntha." Aeternus Rex replied, allowing one of his blackened digits to expand the holographic map to reveal the entirety of the planet. The symbol of the Emperor - the Raptor - appeared over Terra, several invasive arrows pointing from Gyptus and beyond. The Primarch retrieved his helmet, pressing it against his skull and leaving the chamber to the ravaged spirits of Kush's grand palace.


Credit: @MarshalSolgriev (Aeternus/God-Slayers), @Lauder (Lady Amalasuntha)
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Unease filled the air of the command post at the western edge of the Rub Al’Khali. The Sigilites had been ever busy as the fortunes of war shifted among the siege lines. Reinforcements here, supplies there, a fresh unit rotated out, the most maddened Thunder Warriors brought in. Victory in war was in many ways the tallying of death and despair, a balance of sorrows where the triumphant was simply the least overwhelmed. Some of the keenest individuals in the galaxy were pouring over those measures, and they all realized the same thing.

Memphos was about to fall.

The nature of the Dynast Cities ensured that this would be the most brutal phase of the fighting, and only skill at arms and strength of will would determine if it was the swiftest conquest or the most sluggish siege. The Emperor’s forces had seen the first layer of defenses scattered like chaff before the wind, and now it was time for those seeking refuge in their fortresses to be terrified by his storm. But only a fool would think they would go gently. The wealth of the Dynast-Kings including a great panoply, mighty arms and stout armor, forbidden relics of a bygone age, charges of the Sigilites that they had failed to safeguard.

Each and every scribe knew of the horrors that could be unleashed, none more so than the head of their order. Malcador stared intently at a hololithic tank, an artifact from the era of his birth now worth a king’s ransom many times over, the flickering runes updated by a haphazard combination of IFF feeds and couriers relaying positional updates. A great front at the Northern Bulwark was a snarl of such icons, a contingent of Thunder Warriors pressing forward under the banner of a lone Custodian.

And then suddenly a rune flickered upon the other side of the great defensive line.

Champions of the Emperor were due rewards, and despite the intensity of the moment there would be no shirking their due. “Aristagoras shall henceforth be granted the glory of being known as Borethensipulas,” Malcador said softly, a dozen scribes recording the earning of a name. An ancient hand remained gripped tight about his staff even as he spoke, the man’s thoughts consumed by the question of what the Dynast-Kings would do next.

He had need not wait long for the answer.

A bolt of baleful flame sprang to life in the west, its fury demanding that even the distant scribes bear witness. For but a moment all pens and cogitators were put down, the Order giving the witchfire its measure of due respect. But only for a moment. With a glance from Malcador, they at once returned to their work, a lone robed figure sprinting away after meeting eyes with the Master and sharing a single, knowing glance.

Moments later and the Sigilite was racing beyond the field tent, seated within an ancient hovercraft that bore him effortlessly above the shifting sands. His personal guard lounged alongside him, veterans of the subjugation of the Himalayzans equipped with the most exotic and destructive of weapons. They passed the border into Gyptus proper like the wind itself, marching columns of Imperial soldiers with camels and mules catching only a glance of the twin banners of the lightning bolt and sigil that marked his personage.

Picking up a baroque device with a strange grill upon its face, Malcador began to speak. At once, a voice was heard upon the lines of the advancing Imperial forces, ancient and distorted, but carrying true nonetheless.

“To all those who fight beneath the banner of the Master of Mankind, know this. Your Emperor has sought to overthrow the reigns of butchers and the tyranny of witches. Your foes fight to defend the former, and they have now sought the might of the latter. I shall not lie to you, my conquerors, you shall be tested in this battle. What terrors they have unleashed, I cannot yet say, but know this. I am coming, and I bear with me the full might of your lord’s will. Humanity shall and must topple the spires of craven sorcerers, and the wrath of the Sigilite is with you.”



The words of the Sigilite were almost lost by the surge of chatter cascading over the vox as Aristagoras moved. While he was clad in plate that would swallow a lesser man, he was but a blur to mortal senses. As easily as he crossed ground, he slew. Living and breathing foes of the Emperor, or the twisted abominations that now arose alongside them, it did not matter to him. The precise killing strike required to keep such a foe down no additional challenge to his superhuman nature. Other servants of the Emperor were not so fortunate, and it was for their benefit he now pushed for decisive action.

“My lord, this is — we’re under h —- unceasing foe —- won’t stay d — permission to fall back —“

Whatever foul sorcery the enemy had wreathed was playing havoc with communications as much as it was the city, but even still, the motivation was clear. It was given with the clipped professionalism of the more disciplined soldiers beneath the Emperor’s authority, but still, the hint of dread lingered in the words.

“Denied, fight on, the line is drawn, the enemy is desperate, we push on. We ride to you, fight on.” He had no confirmation in return that his order was even received, but still he pounded the stone of the roadway to dust beneath the speed of his tread. Should the mortals fight on, he was determined they would not fall without sight of the Emperor’s wrath in their name. Should they falter, he would be there to deliver it in turn.

The powerfield surrounding his blade spat ionised flesh into the air as it rent through another foe. One of countless that had already fallen, made only of note to the giant who wielded it by the crackle of dimming power as the blade shorted out, overused and with no rest between blows, its power cells had finally given up on him. No matter, it was still a blade.

The Custodian felt the hand of another at play in this matter, the wretched plot of the enemy was sure to bring a heavy toll on the forces of the Emperor, pushing them to take the city faster and more costly than they would have wished, but could it hope to truly rebuff them? Unlikely. This was the masterstroke of someone wishing to sell Memphos dearly, which its Dynasts kings, self serving as they were, would not have orchestrated.

“Honoured Sigilite, I am approaching the Square of Kempfar, join me, and we shall push upon the Citadel.” The priority line to the Emperor’s closest adviser was more secure from the ravages of the warp craft, but not entirely so, a distressing observation. One that was put aside for the moment as Aristagoras finally reached the square, encountering only the burned out ruins of the Imperium’s forces and their hastily erected defences, now swarming with the risen dead. They had fought to a man, and he had failed them.

As the surge of dead things pressed towards the Custodian, he exhaled steadily, feeling the righteous anger suffuse his genecrafted being, before his blade was raised.

“Come then, hellspawn, become the first to earn the honour of being slain twice by Aristagorous.”



Malcador cursed as the Custodian spoke to him, not of anger at the message but at the foul corruption despoiling the aetherics. His chosen companions went about their business with the grim disregard that they did most everything, performing final checks upon their arcane armories. The champions of the Sigilite were equipped with the rarest and most horrific weapons ever crafted by human hands, for rarely did he feel the need to march to war himself. Disintegration guns, stasis grenades, graviton pistols, Kjaroskuro lasers, Quill blasters, a motley array of power and monomolecular arms, and sundry more were held ready by the men and women who had followed him this far.

“The Square of Kempfar,” Malcador ordered, after a slight delay as he let sentimentality take control of him for a cursed moment. He had opened his vaults for them, and they had volunteered to do their duty. It would not do to spoil their devotion to this cause with undue emotion. “Make haste, our foe grows in strength, and this is a ritual we can ill afford to let finish.”

The dead rose across the ancient sands, and the Sigilite followed. Onwards they pressed, towards fire and war, shadow and death. The cracked outer defenses of the once grand city flew underneath them, the haggard soldiers of the nascent Imperial Army cheering their salvation as they saw the speck of metal that marked his coming.

Baleful light erupted from the front of the ancient transport as it crossed into the lands of the dead, subatomic beamers dissolving the first ranks of the Warp-risen abominations into elementary particles. Within its confines, Malcador and his companions made ready for what was to come in their own manner, be it in thought or prayer or jest, in food or in drink, or in one particular case a last moment of restful slumber.

Kempfar approached, and with it the first strands of the horrid destiny that Malcador had foreseen for those few he had dared call friends.



Lieutenant Alexiou cursed under his breath at the turn of their fortunes. They had been advancing steadily behind those beasts of men, the Emperor’s Thunder Warriors and his patrician Custodians, stepping over the carnage they left in their wake and moving from house to house like clockwork. It had been simple work, clearing that which the feral men had deemed unworthy of their attention. A shop of overturned spices here, a coffee hall there, a residential down the road. All of it, so simple. The occupants had been seen as beneath the Emperor’s most capable servants, and had been left to Imperial Army units, like Alexiou’s. But despite its simplicity, it was dirty work.

The shopkeeper and his staff, or at least that’s who Alexiou assumed they were, had come at his men with exotic tools he had discerned were used in the sorting of the spices. Finely made things, with razor thin blades that had cut up one of his troopers bad enough to warrant sending him to the rear. But other than the initial surprise of them they had been simple to dispatch. No armor, no formal training. They had been road bumps. Just as the other occupants of every building they’d swept through that decided to stand futilely before the Emperor’s army had been to Alexiou and his troopers.

But that time had come to an end far too soon. As quickly as they had cleared ten blocks the tide of the fighting changed around them. The sky had darkened, taking on a sickly glow, and the first signs of trouble had been the confusion over the vox. Then the maimed and stricken in the streets had risen around the Lieutenant and his platoon, and hell made its way to the land of the living. That had been nearly thirty minutes ago.

“Vox orders are unclear, aetherics are playing hell with the signal… I think they have ordered a general withdrawal to reinstate the lines and continue the push, but…” the vox operator hesitated a moment, “there was a Custodes, he was calling the Sigillite, I didn’t catch much more.”

“A Custodes? Figure his location, quickly,” Alexiou told his vox operator calmly as he turned back to the remains of his platoon, “Check your charge packs, and get ready to move,” his troopers gave no answer, and he didn’t need one. They had been ready to move since they’d first secured the holdout they sheltered in, and simply been waiting on Alexiou to make the decision on what came next.

They exited the holdout and fanned out down a wide thoroughfare, bypassing the butchered remains of Imperial troopers and Memphos guard with casual disregard as they approached the relative location the vox had returned for the Custodian Guard.

They swept through a blockhouse without a word and exited through a massive rent in the wall to find themselves spilling down a pile of rubble directly into an otherworldly onslaught. The Custodian, magnificent in his golden armor, was a blur of motion ahead of them. The ghastly creatures, those not long ago lost to this world, crashed into the Emperor’s chosen like the waves against the breakwaters of the acid lakes of Hive Ischian and, just like the acid waves, the abominations stood no chance of overcoming the patrician guardian of the Emperor.

His men spread out into the square without the need for a command, their jet black carapace armor a stark contrast to the dirtied yet still impressive gold of the Custodian. Where the Custodian was a blur of movement and the crackling of his guardian spear, his troopers were a clumsy hammer, their lasrifles spitting iridescent bolts into the surging wave of the dead.

“Firstborn, I am Lieutenant Alexiou of the Lucifer Blacks,” he stated over the common close-range vox shared by all Imperial units from within his enclosed carapace helmet, “my platoon is at your command,” he finished quickly as he took the head off a once dead thing with a flick of his saber.

<Posted>

“Greetings, Alexiou, fear ye not, there is glory here aplenty for us all.” Aristagoras spoke as he slew, even the act of battle not altering the cadence of his voice, the damnable distortion caused by the foul work of the enemy, the only factor which caused any change had the two men not been discussing the same matter side by side. “We must clear the square if we are to proceed, allow me to hold their attention, nothing they wield can break the Emperor’s work.” His words were, thus far, evidently true. The Custodian moved too fast and struck with too great a force to allow the sorcery twisted monstrosities to hold him down with weight of numbers, and the scrabble of hands on his armour may well have been leaves falling from Terra’s long dead forests. The threat to the Imperial Army was another matter, and now with their survival to consider, the Custodian pushed deeper into the swarm, seeking to hold the focus of the tide as much as possible. It was successful to an extent, but whatever foul false intelligence still blazed in the risen began to seek easier prey, as the edges of the tide pushed on past to seek the mortals. The Horde would meet wave after wave of disciplined fire, but would it be enough?

“I believe whatever foul acts are at work here are simply a distraction to hold us in place for an even greater evil, Lieutenant, we must cut through swiftly.” He spoke again, weighing the cost of an approach that would be safer for the mortals, but finding the delay unacceptable. “Advance in my wake.”

Alexiou, a seasoned military man, found himself dumbfounded at the casual ease with which the Emperor’s chosen addressed him. Within his helmet he sputtered a moment, grateful that his vox amplifier had decided not to pick up the failed attempt at language before he could rein in his own mind.

“As you command,” he replied as simply as he could, a single runic symbol flickering in his helmet’s display transmitted to the remains of his platoon spurring their actions forward into the mass of the undead things. A dozen grenades flew from bandoliers, the arks tracked on Alexiou’s display before they were lost in the mass of writhing flesh. The hollow thumps of the detonations signaled his platoon forward, lasrifles tearing limbs from bodies and vibroblades laying low the foul creatures effortlessly. Though disciplined and well trained, Alexiou noted the lifesign readings in the corner of his display on two of his troopers run wild before nothing returned.

The process was swift, with the icebreaking point of the Custodian taking on the bulk of the monstrosities ire, the mortal warriors were free to exact a heavy toll on the possessed corpses, even if the pace put more of them at risk than would be ideal. For all that the enemy had summoned to halt them, now they moved in concert, with full view of the threat they faced, they could not stand before the forces of the Emperor. Despite this clear sign of impending victory, Aristagoras felt uneasy. The pulsing wave of foul energy emanating from the core of the city continued unabated. He had little technical knowledge of such things, but this felt more a prelude than the final act.

“Onwards, men of the Imperium, let us claim this c-” The words were suddenly cut dead, in both vox and reality, as a crushing wave struck the Custodian. Exhaustion and strain wracked his form, a feeling he had not experienced since the grueling days of his trials, mortal lifetimes ago. A vast force pushed down on him, and invisible enemy that forced him to his knees, even among the teeming, but thinning, horde of the undead creatures. He tried to call a warning to the soldiers following in his wake, but even this he found beyond him, as he was steadily driven into the ground.

In a fleeting moment of herculean strength, he raised his head, the gleaming optic eyes of his helm flashing as they drew in tactical information, a moment before the glass itself cracked under the strain of withstanding the false-force upon him. As his eyes themselves swam with blood from the pressure, his focus fell upon one figure, standing amidst the soulless shambling tide.

“Wyrd.” He spat, a moment before the force redoubled, and even the ground beneath him began to crack. With the Custodian temporarily neutralised, there was nothing to prevent the bulk of the horde now turning on the Imperial Army scant meters behind him.

A cry went up over the short range vox, so uncharacteristic of a Lucifer Black even as they fell to gunfire, blade or foul creature was it that Alexiou turned in the direction that his helmet indicated the transmission had come from. He breathed for a moment as he watched one of his Sergeants reach out for the Custodes as he fell to his knees, unsure what could have lain such a being as low as this in battle. The thought vanished as his Sergeant simply ceased to exist, the area where he had once stood reaching for the Firstborn a mess of meat and matter pressed into the paving stones of the square with such force that a fine mist ejected in all directions for several meters.

He turned, his helmet barking a motion warning, and blasted the head off one of the undead creatures with a well placed pistol shot. The Lieutenant keyed his vox and barked a warning as he followed the Custodian’s gaze to the source of his trouble, “Sorcerer front, engage.”

A number of the Lucifer’s turned from the closer threats to their lives and began to let loose with salvos of lasfire on the deadliest foe they’d seen since entering the city. An iridescent haze of laser fire criss-crossed around the Sorcerer, the bolts of pure energy bending and snapping off in random directions as the foul powers of the tainted man rendered their shots moot.



Within his hovercraft, those sworn to the Sigilite finished their preparations. Meters vanished beneath the venerable vehicle, as all who stood in its way were rendered into something far finer than ash. Ancient ruins and new monuments yearning to replicate their glory were covered in soot and gore, the bodies of the shiftless dead and the forces charged with sending them to their final rest indistinguishable now under the force of the weapons that had torn them asunder. The sound of gruesome war was constant, but it was no mere sound that stirred Malcador from his ruminations.

A ripple of foulness worked its way through the Immaterium, the taste of vomit assailing the psyker through no mere mundane sense of the flesh. Restraining the urge to gag, Malcador slowly shook his head as he recovered from the aetheric putrescence before summoning forth a hololith of the cityscape below them.

“Livia,” the Sigilite said softly, his voice carrying through to the pilot, “We will disembark here, at the edge of the square,” he continued, stabbing his finger at a section of the city where shops gave way to residences - all now stained by war. “Low hover, then you shall ascend and keep avenues of approach clear for us.. As for the rest of you,” ordered, turning his attention to those warriors who followed him this far, “you shall relieve the Army assets currently pinned down. I shall see to my master’s sons.”

He paused as he was given curt nods of acknowledgement, the silence stretching for a moment too long as he stole a glance at a gaunt face half-hidden by shadows. “Xenophon.”

“My lord?” he asked, voice half a rasp.

“Today is the day,” Malcador whispered. “The hour approaches.”

“As all must,” the man said with a shrug, patting his conversion beamer as he gave it a final once over. “I need no song.”

“For yours is every song you have saved,” the ancient man said with a sigh. He turned his head to face the others in the vehicle’s cramped compartment, his staff held tightly in a gnarled hand. “There is warpwork about. We shall not tolerate it,” he cried as the back hatch slowly opened, revealing a hail of las bolts and shambling corpses - and the unmistakable form of a sorcerer. “The Order endures, our charge is the legacy of Mankind,” he shouted, a fire appearing in his eyes with more power in it than mere will. “To you I have given the fury of the ages, use them well.”

A chorus of “My lord's" followed, the words barely loud enough to be heard over the whipping wind as the hovercraft lowered itself into its final position, and his companions did as they were bid. Gravity inverted, superhot streams of metal shot forth at impossible speeds, and matter simply unmade as they charged forward into the breach, the legions of restless dead nothing in the face of the Dark Age’s surviving relics. The Sigilite himself followed, the psyker floating sedately as he advanced towards his foe, but the Sorcerer was not the sole focus of his attentions.

“Aristagoras,” Malcador said in a chiding tone, extending his empty hands towards the Custode, “such a sight does not befit you. Rise, Borethensipulas, and acquit yourself of your Name,” he commanded, a surge of power flooding through the one and into the other. The works of the enemy clashed against his will, a calming light extending from the Sigilite as his strength set itself to root out corruption. It was not enough to merely kill this man, this profanity, not for one who had sworn himself to his charge so fully. He was possessed of a need to undo all the ills that this Sorcerer had wrought, to see his works thrown down and his power revealed to be the farce it was. Only then did he deserve death.

“The Sigilite stands with you this day,” he roared, his voice carrying upon more than mere wind. “And I shall accept no corruption within my sight,” Malcador spat, the Sorcerer’s defenses visibly wavering, las blasts creeping closer and closer, as he poured his will into unweaving the strands of power that his foe had dredged forth from the Warp.

“I am his wrath.” The words the Custodes spoke were quiet, strained, as every muscle in his superhuman body screamed with strain. The psychic might of the Sigilite had pulled the great portion of the enemies attentions away from him, but it was still as if a great force was thrust upon him. It would not be enough to stop him, however, as once more the Custodian forced himself to his feet.

“Well met, Sigilite, you will find there is still some glory to share.” Aristagoras returned the vox call, before with the grinding force still straining across his armour, he surged forwards. The dead were little before him, the twisted warp-risen beings smashed aside simply by the force of form. The Wyrd’s attentions were forced on his mental battle with Malcador, and that proved a fatal distraction.

“You will sully the champions of Mankind no further,” The vox system on his armour turning the voice into an outward boom, a sonic shock as powerful as a grenade blasting over the Gyptian witch. Stunned and reeling, the human had no time to react before the long blade of the Custodian’s glaive burst through the human’s chest, impaling the man and lifting him into the air. Gesting with the same weapon, the wyrd still hanging from the blade, Aristagoras called out;

“Onwards! Warriors of the Emperor! We take the Citadel!”
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MarshalSolgriev Lord Ascendant of Bethesus

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The Beginning Purge

-After The Invasion of Kush-






The March through the wastes was a tedious one, Gyptian marauders had fled to the countryside and continued out savage harrying attacks on Imperial convoys, civilians, and others. More and more of the God-Slayers had to be pulled to deal with these attacks, despite Aeternus forcing the three-hundred to make haste to aid with the main assault force. Never once did the Black Hawk personally travel with them - her shadow only being seen and never was a voice heard. A squad, known to the God-Slayers as Immortalis Squad, no more than five strong, was hunkered at the edge of the encampment. A small fire illuminated their massive forms and still they wore the power armor that was their uniform.

“I grow tired of these Gyptians,” growled Tyrannus, setting his helmet to the side as he gazed out to the waste’s horizon. He knew they were out there, waiting for them to let their guard down despite their Dynast-King having been killed. He spoke again as he looked back to his brethren, “I don’t know why we have to fight what the army should be doing - bloody mop-up.”

The eldest of the group, Hox, spoke back, “The Primarch told us we’d be on march. It comes with the territory Tyrannus. Keep your eyes upon the horizon else they may fall upon us at any moment.”

They conversed like this well into the night, their augmented bodies unburdened by only needing a short rest. It was not even dawn when Squad Immortalis continued their movements across the waste, scouting ahead of the main force of God-Slayers. Their steps sent sand scattering across the dunes, moving fast through the desert heat. Occasionally, the gene-warriors would stop to survey the area and report over vox to the rest of the legion. Hox gripped his chain-sword ever savagely, eager for the fabled Gyptian warriors to fall upon them at any moment.

There was nothing but heat, rock, and sand.

Hox would speak in paranoia, “I know they are here. The Gyptians shall fall upon us at any moment.” His head turned to watch haze dance across the horizon, spires ever so distantly flicker with the heat. It was a moment before he took a knee in the sand, his eyes watching all that could possibly move.

“How can you be certain, Hox?” Another spoke, taking a knee to follow the movements of the eldest, allowing himself a moment to breathe. The two slayers looked at each other before the others came upon them, feeling the sun blast its heat down upon them. The group was gazing in all directions before Hox could give an answer, his voice lowering, “There.”

He pointed his sword in the direction of a distant settlement - nothing more could be seen but a handful of buildings and what seemed to be a central market. Hox had the look of insatiable anger in his eyes, “They hide there. I am sure of it.”




Dark, polluted clouds wafted over the crumbling roadways of the old world, sharp droplets of poison rain pattering against destroyed asphalt. Static threateningly charged the air as the harsh crackle of thunder boomed overhead. The beating heat of the sun in the deserts of southern Gyptus only worsened the environment, corroding waves of temperature haze drying and blinding those traveling in the desert sands. Ruins dotted the sides of the roads, looming towers broken down by sandy debris and smaller, metallic huts that had been rusted for an unknowable amount of time. Small groups of humanoids traveled on foot, some on mutated pack creatures and others in rare vehicles ramshackled into functionality. None, however, dared to travel directly on the vehicle-laden path as great plumes of smoke billowed from a great distance away.

Vehicles of mixed proportions rumbled down the highway with all the power given to their chugging engines. Some were heavy, tracked blocks of metallic terror mounted with terrifying weaponry, while other crafts were small, agile machines ramshackled together with available scrap. In extremely finite numbers, no more than a handful, aerial jetbikes swooped on gravitic shunts above the metal swarm speeding through the Gyptus desert. In sporadic intervals, pairs of assault wagons would split off to travel into the depths of the dunes. At the center of the churning horde drove a leviathan tank of titanic proportion, ungodly amounts of turrets mounted across the entire length of it.

Deep within the leviathan tank walked mortals and augmented supersoldiers alike in a hurried pace. Menials stood at belching cogitators, partially slaved to the terminals through neural links. Auxilia stood guard over entrances, exits, and the like, despite their duties being vain in comparison to the yellow-armored giants they accompanied. Voxrelays constantly screamed new information that scoured the entirety of the Gyptian invasion, highlights of engagements and sieges particular amongst the topics. Every transmission was an amalgamation of the same word in different connotations - victory. The Gyptians were on their last leg and soon Memphos, too, would fall beneath the Raptor. Despite the guaranteed outcome, there was unrest in the ranks.

Caestus Caligula, captain of the First Cadre of the God-Slayers, hurried down the corridors of the mammothine vehicle with a dataslate in one hand and a voxbead in one of his ears. Mortals scurried away from his enormous, armored form like fish splitting away from an oncoming predator. Devoid of his helmet, the thunder warrior wore an uncomfortable look on his heavily scarred, bruised facial features. Just a look from his mismatched eyes sent menials into trembling fits. He despised that feeling the most.

Both of his legs brought him to the center of their command vehicle, a chamber wide enough to support twenty genesoldiers shoulder-to-shoulder and tall enough for a pair of them to stand atop each other. A hololith table stood at the center, a hologram hovering over it displaying the entirety of Gyptus. Cogitators along the edges, linked both to the table and to a mortal menial, spat out fresh information that instantly updated the current affairs of the invasion. Arrayed around the floating images were the core commanders of the God-Slayers. Primarch Aeternus Rex spoke without his helmet, his voice as commanding as a lion's. Captain Victorius Nero of the Second Cadre impatiently waiting for orders to fight something, anything. Captain Curzio Tiberius of the Third Cadre patiently watched the ongoing battles along the Delta Nilus, consuming knowledge and data as it appeared. Commander Eddith Krayl, the mortal commander of their non-augmented forces, hotly debated with the Lord of the Legion.

“... The logistics battalion will not support further raiding incursions into Gyptian territories unless the Legion is prepared to facilitate appropriate garrisons. Be reasonable, Primarch, a garrison of no more than five of your warriors would make controlling the southern parts of the Delta Nilus impervious to rebellion.” Eddith barked at the genefather of the God-Slayers, a dataslate in one hand and a stylus in the other. Her aged face was scrunched up in a mixture of anger and frustration, a pair of vividly green eyes staring daggers into the thunder warrior. Her conversational adversary, however, remained nonplussed and unwavering in the face of worthless threats.

“The logistics battalion has no choice but to do as they’re ordered. You are a liaison, Eddith, not the primary commander of my Legion - the Emperor’s Legion.” The Primarch said with a threatening smile, leaning forward on the table and eyeing her back down with his own dark eyes. “Gyptus will be scoured of the remnants of the Dynast-King’s forces. When that is completed, I will acquiesce to your requests. Until that moment has passed, cooperate with Captain Tiberius on our next list of targets.”

The mortal commander seemed frightened at first, remembering her position amongst the legion and her duties to the Unification. Her facial features softened at the end of the Primarch’s words, a look of short gratitude passed between them before she stepped next to the Third Cadre captain. Tiberius shifted in his data-adled stupor, turning to Aeternus and banging his fist against the Raptor before leaving the command chamber. Caligula saw that as the opportunity needed to step forward.

“The Raptor never rests, does it?” The wisened genewarrior joked as he approached the edge of the table, drawing the attention of Nero and Aeternus. A more genuine smile shone on the Primarch’s lips, while a toothy grin sprouted across the Second Cadre’s captain. Rex moved around the hololith to clap Caligula on the shoulder, while the other gave a playful punch to the opposite side.

“It’s good to see you back in working order, my friend! That abomination nearly killed you in that fight. I am thankful that you did not die, I don’t think I would be able to readily choose your successor in the event that you pass in such an untimely manner.” Aeternus' voice was nigh angelic to the First Captain, such praise bringing a wide smile to his lacquered features.

“Aye, I wouldn’t have anyone to argue with on every possible occasion! Tiberius would be without himself if he didn’t have his job as a mediator!” Captain Nero spoke loudly, slinging an arm over the older thunder warrior in a familial manner.

“Ha! I never tire of you lot. Practically kin with the amount of blood we’ve spilled together. Alas, there is a reason that I wasn’t in attendance originally, my Primarch.” Caligula laughed initially, drawing off the other thunder warrior’s arm before growing somber. He passed a dataslate to the commander of their legion, then he maneuvered over to the hologram hovering over the table with a finger raised. The yellow digit pointed approximately to a zone off the path of the road, several kilometers ahead of the armored column.

“As you know, several squads have split off since we left Kush to deal with increasing reports of raiders further north into the Gyptian territory. Squads Aurelius, Utalitum, and Immortalis were our recon force ahead of the Legion. Squad-” Caligula stopped dead in the middle of his briefing, an emotionless look crossing his face as he halted speech entirely. The heterochromic eyes glazed over, his body remained upright but slack, and a sliver of saliva began to dribble down the corner of his lip. Several minutes passed by like this, Captain Nero throwing a knowing look at the Primarch. Aeternus wore a worrying frown as he patiently waited for the moment to pass.

And it did pass. Caligula snapped straight back into the middle of the command chamber, quickly wiping the saliva that had accumulated on his lower lip. Sweat beaded across his forehead as his eyes returned to their typical appearance. A dry chuckle gurgled up from the draconic genewarrior, clearing his voice and starting once again. The pair of thunder warriors before him continued to listen as if nothing had happened in the first place.

“- Aurelius and Utalitum have reported back, confirming the destruction of insurgent compounds that offered resistance at first sighting. They have since resupplied and ventured out again. Squad Immortalis has gone dark. No contact has been heard from them in approximately three hours. Their last known location was at this location. How would you like to proceed?”

There was a tense silence as the information was absorbed by the remaining Legionnaires on the bridge, some menials had listened but did not act on the newly received data. Aeternus crossed his arms, shifting his view to the location marked by Caligula’s finger. Nero fought back a snarl at the prospect that something had managed to defeat a squad of their thunder warriors. The First Cadre captain shifted uncomfortably, somewhat aware of the possibilities regarding the missing legionnaires.

“We’ll branch off. Anything that can kill a squad of our advanced scouts is worth our attention. Nero, you will continue the forward march to Memphos with Tiberius. Caligula, you will join me with the First Cadre on the hunt for Squad Immortalis. We will take no more than five squads. The Imperialis Praetorios will remain in formation, command is relinquished to the Second Cadre captain.” Aeternus’ commands were firm and invigorating, forcing the hairs on the other thunder warrior’s skin to stand. Both of the thunder warriors slammed their fist against the sigil on their chestplate in response.

Captain Nero displayed his usual, manic grin before setting off to the bridge, pausing briefly only to relay new orders to a menial to vox across the armored column. Caligula watched him leave, turning his attention to the Primarch. Aeternus’ held a worried look, staring at the location marked on the hololith. He was a warrior that exuded great amounts of confidence. In this moment, though, a small break of confidence was minutely prevalent.

“Contact the Black Hawk. Lady Amalasuntha will certainly join and I would rather her be with us than the alternative.” The Primarch spoke carefully, cautious of the words that he implied to the ears around him. Caligula understood immediately, exiting the chamber with a finger pressed up to his voxbead. Only the menials, ever at work, remained in the chamber besides himself. A flick of his black gauntlet saw the hologram expand on the location indicated by the First Cadre captain’s report. It enhanced large enough to notice several blocky shapes in the form of towns, villages, or settlements. An eerie feeling crept into his bones. Urgently, Aeternus’ left the command chamber as orders were relayed from one vehicle to the next.

The call had gone out. Vehicles rearranged in the metallic swarm, blocky craft swarming around the leviathan tank that was the Imperialis Praetorios. Several shapes disembarked the hulking warmachine onto fat, armored personnel carriers mounted with a ramshackle assortment of weapons. Seamlessly, as soon as the figures had entered the transports, they roared forward ahead of the column with a location set for the last known location of Squad Immortalis.

Overhead came a blackened shadow, circling the transports of the God-Slayers as a buzzard over a carcass in the vast wastes of Gyptus. As the transports kicked up dust, soot, and rubble from the broken infrastructure the form followed, circling and circling as if a bad omen followed the First Legion. All knew the omen and it stilled no hearts as to the fate of Squad Immortalis. Aeternus’ vox spurred into life and a grim voice came - a grim call barking to the Primarch, “Your warriors not calling in could mean one of two things.”

Thunk. The outer shell of one of the transports as the Black Hawk perched atop the hatch of the vehicle - her black form casting a long shadow over the front of the vehicle. Her voice spoke harshly again, grating and drilling into Aeternus’ head as a horrid reminder of all that he had to do countless times before, “If it is what I believe then, then you best honor your duty, Primarch.”

My duty is eternal, Lady Amalasuntha, I will honor my word unto death. I trust that you will honor your duty as well, Custodian. Let me know when you’ve spotted your prey, we will only be a short distance behind. ” The Primarch spoke into his helmet as he stood amongst his brethren in the transport. Aeternus’ voice was confident, as if there was no possibility of the actions that Amalasuntha insinuated. He counted at least ten of the thunder warriors he assigned to this specific task. Caligula strode through the cramped space, standing between the driver and passenger seats. Each bore their weapons of choice, including his own greatblade. Every one of their helmeted lenses turned to regard their genefather with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. They understood just as well what their hunt could unveil.

Aeternus made his way to stand beside Caligula, setting a hand on every shoulder of every thunder warrior that he passed. The simple act was enough to reassure them, reinforce them, and invigorate them with confidence exuding from their genefather. Words were typically the Primarch’s way of handling the Legion; however, this particular matter required fewer speeches and more actions. His view settled on the armored windshield of the transport, several terminals displaying auspex data and visual input at a quick glance. The Captain of the First Cadre watched as well; however, he held a grim look on his lips where there would otherwise be a playful joke.

“I will handle it.”

Caligula heard, raising his head to the speaker next to him. Aeternus’ knightly helmet was staring at him, an unknowable look behind the voxgril and lenses. A small, pained smile grew on the lips of the elder warrior. Caestus wished he could echo the worries in his Primarch; however, he knew that the commander of their forces needed to keep appearances. He raised a yellow gauntlet to rest on his old friend’s pauldron, the gesture reciprocated by a black gauntlet falling on his own shoulder.

“Aye, it’ll be damned awful to see Ursh raiders deep in Gyptus territory.” Caligula said, reinforcing his lie with a small, typical chuckle.

There was a light lurching of the transport - Amalasuntha had left, leaving a small bit of relief for the force of gene-warriors. Silence followed even after Caligula’s attempts to lighten the mood. The rumbling of the engines were the only things to bless their ears and it was a welcome sound to focus on as it distracted from the possibility of what had to be done. Engines roared and men steeled themselves amongst the transports.

The Black Hawk seemed to know of the fates of Squad Immortalis though she dared not speak it over the vox directly. Even as she flew high above them, she had kept eyes upon all of the Three Hundred warriors - a simple task for one of the Emperor’s chosen. The sands began to whip. Churning great dust clouds that would hinder vision for those on the ground. Even though the sun blasted down upon them, the cloud left everything in a near red mist. The air seemed to grow charged the further the transports moved and a great wall of sand threatened Amalasuntha’s flight and so she would descend once more.

Aeternus’s transport allowed the ramp to open momentarily for the custodian to take refuge. Her blackened form seemed to dim the very lights as the ramp raised behind her. She spoke simply, “A storm is coming upon us, Primarch. Adjust your path towards the village ‘Tarajue’.”

Silence had festered by the time Lady Amalasuntha arrived in Aeternus’ transport. The belching of vox relays and pinging of auspexs filled the void. Every thunder warrior turned their attention to her, save for Aeternus, Caligula and the pilots. A mixture of anger, awe, and fear lingered in their eyes. Only in times where she was required to perform her duty would she close her distance with the Legion. Therefore, her sheer presence amongst their number caused no shortage of anxiety in the form of adjusting stances, rapidly checking armaments, and lip biting.

“You heard our guardian, Aurelia, perform your duty.” Aeternus’ spoke with a commanding voice, his tone as dominating as a roaring lion’s.

Aurelia gave a nod of her head in affirmation, pressing several runes on a terminal to adjust auspex settings. Her co-pilot swiftly activated several runes from his console, their transport beginning to shift in response to new information. Armored panes rattled as shutters began to tightly lock against their transport, shielding those within from harsh, desert winds. Their vehicle lagged momentarily as a perceivable shift in speed was noted. Terminals burst to life in the rear cabin along every pane that had access to a swiveling turret. Eagerly, those anxiety driven thunder warriors planted themselves in sponson seats as preparation for carnage to come.

Similarly across their formation, three other vehicles of similar caliber adjusted for oncoming weather by adjusting armored panes, closing hatches, and slowing their speeds. The lead transport, Aeternus’ carrier, seamlessly swapped their route to a village visible in the distance. A harsh blanket of sand rose as a monstrous effigy over their destination, lightning jolting from dusty veil to the next. Electrical tendrils licked out at openings in the storm, threatening to strike at anything close to it. Chunks of broken, rusted metal twisted within the tempest as it tore across the land, sweeping up every loose article from their wartorn world.

“Tarajue in sight, Lady Amalasuntha, Primarch Aeternus.” Aurelia stated after several tense moments of navigating desert and narrowly avoiding storm debris. She reached over to a console to her right, thumbing a rune and listening as every terminal within their cabin swapped displays. Tarajue appeared on their monitors, a small, indistinguishable settlement nestled deep within Gyptian sand. Several sporadic sculptures of rusted metal stood sentry on the village’s perimeter, crude effigies to forgotten gods created in a desperate attempt to appease uncontrollable forces.

“Relay a spread order to the other vehicles. Prepare for possible contact. Open a general voxline to the local area. If Squad Immortalis is alive, then they will respond.” Aeternus’ ordered as he turned his attention to one of their monitors. Aurelia was quick to respond, swiftly relaying her Primarch’s directives across their formation and opening up their voxcaster for general use. The Lord of the First Legion momentarily turned his attention to Amalasuntha as their voxrelay incessantly requested input. He felt a lump in his throat. He hoped for the best. He knew better than to think like that.

“Broadcasting to all local subvoxs. I am Primarch Aeternus Rex of the First Thunder Legion. Do not be afraid, do not cower, and submit to the Emperor’s unification. All hostilities taken against us will be responded to with extreme prejudice. You have been warned. Prepare for our arrival. To all other agents of our Master within vox range, you will rendezvous at our position.” It was a practiced statement. One that he had made hundreds of times in service to their Master. It was a statement that was never responded to with appropriate measure. It was a statement that always led to massacre. His attention never faltered from Amalasuntha as their transport rapidly approached Tarajue.

And yet there was but static over the vox, no response from the fabled Gyptian attackers nor from Squad Immortalis - it was all static. As the transport ground to a halt at the edge of Tarajue no shot came their way, save for the occasional bit of rubble ratting against armored transport metal. There was a tension in the air as the wind howled and the static roared for a straight minute. Then, a single utterance came to the ears of the Primarch, the familiar voice Hox, ”Gyptian! Come to die then?!” The sound of lasfire sounded over vox, screams echoed.

Amalasuntha gazed to the Primarch expectantly, a hollow look for the genefather.

A moment of silence followed as their vox burst to life with perturbing noises of gruesome mayhem. All movement halted to a grounding stop inside of their transport. Tension within threatened to boil over as thunder warriors began to grow increasingly anxious. It lasted no longer than a mere second as Aeternus’ finally turned away from Amalasuntha to address his Himalazian knights. They couldn’t tell his facial expression behind their Primarch’s conical helmet, yet all of them could feel compulsory stalwartness emanating from him.

“Go. Bound them. I will deal the killing blow.” Aeternus’ words reverberated across their transport, each syllable felt deep within every thunder warrior’s pair of hearts. His tone was reminiscent of a disappointed, remorseful father that had lost his child. Despite this, the Primarch’s voice was as booming as it was commanding. Those thunder warriors that hung on his very word snapped into action, grabbing their wargear and swiftly egressing out of their transport. Caligula accompanied them with a mournful look spread across his scarred face.

As the last thunder warrior left their cabin, Aeternus marched his black armored form into the aft chamber. His great, obsidian blade was torn from a magnetic weapon rack and swiftly mounted to his back. He felt Amalasuntha’s piercing gaze tearing a hole into his helmet from behind. The Primarch ignored her imperceivable glower for he had a duty to perform. One which he had no real want to execute, save for acting in the name of the Emperor.

“Come. Follow me. I will show you the duties in which I’ve pledged to uphold. You will see with your own eyes that the God-Slayers will not falter .” A new resonance slipped through his voice, one of hardened resolve and muted fury. Beneath his helmet, Aeternus’ clenched his teeth and narrowed his eyes in preparation for what awaited him. Artificial adrenaline was already beginning to spill into his body as he stepped next to Amalasuntha. Even in close proximity, the Primarch emanated an aura of war and violence.

It was that very aura that Amalasuntha could feel - the power and command this brutal Primarch could field would have been overwhelming to the average man. Yet the Black Hawk was no mere foot-soldier and she would certainly not tremble by the coming of the barbarian’s wrath. She propped herself upon her Lance, feeling no need to fly in the raging sandstorm that whipped around them - scratching paint off the armor of those who fanned out around them. Her eyes snapped forwards and she spoke into vox as the wind and roaring torrent drowned out her normal voice, “There is no doubt that you will carry out such duties. The Emperor’s Will encompasses all.”

As they began their path forwards, red flashes, drowned by the haze of the sand, could be seen in the distance - illuminating the silhouettes of ruined buildings. Even at the edge of the village they saw it, blood soaked the sand and limbs could be seen, bodies stuck into the very sides of the building, hardly impaled and more having been thrown with such force. Scorch marks from rogue las shots clung everywhere. Even in the dim light, it was clear at what the scale of the slaughter was, but it also appeared as if a battle occurred- a traveling firefight down the main avenue.

Amalasuntha would speak once more in a low tone, “See as to what the gene-instability brings, Aeternus.”

The Primarch’s muted fury held his lips closed in response. He knew exactly what their inherent flaws brought upon their enemies, their friends and their allies. His crimson lenses scanned every piece of broken rubble, lasburn, and mutilated body that painted Tarajue. Aeternus took mere milliseconds to remember every grizzly detail that they passed. Both of his narrowed eyes demanded to be closed, wishing to not behold unwarranted violence caused by his genekin. Regardless, he tempered his mind as they passed the next row of ramshackle homes.

“An unwarranted consequence in the name of Unification, an inexplicable must for Humanity, and a disgusting necessity for the Future. It is not their fault - nor that of our Masters - that they experience it as they do.” Aeternus Rex coldly replied through the vox, his great helm turning slightly to regard Amalasuntha in their stride. Many of his brethren were ignorant and blind to their flaws, only glory in combat hounded their actions. The Primarch was far removed from his kindred in that regard, fully aware of their - his - volatility and instabilities. His mind wondered for only a stray moment if it truly was the fault of the creation or the fault of the creator for their problems.

Movement entered his field of vision as thunder warriors from his personal retinue knelt beside a fallen knight. Their left pauldron displayed the God-Slayer’s numeral, while their other pauldron presented a raptor perched atop a skull. To Aeternus, it was clear that this was one of Squad Immortalis. The corpse was devoid of skull, limb, and weaponry with a variety of scorch marks peppering their armor. An odor of burnt flesh wafted in their vicinity.

Leave them. Find whatever remains of Immortalis immediately.” The Lord of the God-Slayers roared, startling those thunder warriors that began to inspect their fallen brethren. His knights swiftly saluted with a fist against their heraldry before sprinting off into the oncoming storm. Their forms disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, veiled behind great gusts of sand and debris. Aeternus strode forward to observe the cadaver himself, refusing to kneel in reverence. He felt his lips part in a disgusted sneer. The body’s head hadn’t simply been decapitated. It had been torn off with brutal, violent strength well known amongst Imperial forces.

Amalasuntha stood behind the genefather of the God-Slayers, her eyes looking upon the cadaver with a cold indifference. Her grip tightened around her lance before tilting her head towards Aeternus, casting a watchful look as to what his reaction would be. Judgment loomed over the Primarch as a mighty mountain over any man. She dared not step towards him, not out of fear of his anger but merely to allow him the moment to collect himself. The howling wind served as their ambassador - killing the silence between them. Then. The crack of munitions filled the air once more, barely audible over the wind. The Black Hawk turned away from the Primarch.

“The hunt continues, Aeternus,” she said grimly.

The Primarch didn’t respond as sharp cracks of lasfire erupted in their local area. Aeternus calmly collected himself, offering a respectful nod to the dead, before removing his obsidian blade from behind. A black gauntlet hoisted the greatsword’s hilt allowing it to lightly rest against his pauldron. Footsteps reverberated in unintended stomps from the thunder warrior as he pushed on further into Tarajue. The disappointed scowl he wore earlier persisted beneath his helmet, gloomy thoughts threatening to spill over within.

As the Black Hawk and the God-Slayer rounded a shattered building into Tarajue’s singular plaza, lasfire danced past in brilliant, crimson streaks. Several yellow armored giants fought desperately behind makeshift barricades, toppled carts, and stacked corpses in a gnarly firefight. Their opponent stood by themselves at its center, bodies of fallen thunder warriors and Gyptian commoners in small numbers scattered nearby. Sergeant Hox, the veteran member of Squad Immortalis, maniacally laughed as he fired a lasrifle on full auto, stray beams scorching limestone buildings and barricades alike.

“Damnation, Hox, throw down your weapon before we have to disobey the orders of the Primarch! I’d rather you be bound and tied for Aeternus’ judgment!” Caligula called out with desperation on his lips. A lasrifle smoked in both of his yellow gauntlets, several warning shots having already been fired in a vain attempt for parlay. Several thunder warriors outside of Squad Immortalis shielded themselves nearby, tending their wounds with synthspray and quicksalve. Not a single Gyptian remained close to their firefight, either killed in action or having urgently fled Tarajue during the mayhem.

As Caligula bemoaned his failed attempts at diplomacy, Primarch Aeternus trudged between a set of barricades shielding warriors from their Legion. The first cadre captain watched as their genefather allowed his body to be riddled with scorch marks from Hox’s lasfire. No amount of volley fire slowed down their commander, even an aimed shot to his helmet failed to halt his steady advance. Slowly, thunder warriors rose to watch the scene unfold before them with a mixture of sorrow and awe. Terran sun glinted off blackened armor as Rex removed an adamantium dagger from an unseen scabbard.

“Be not afraid, Hox,” Aeternus’ softly spoke as he gently closed the distance to his afflicted knight. An adamantium, curved blade with a golden hilt ending in a raptor’s head shone brilliant within his blackened fist. A weapon that had been used countless times for the same express purpose. The Primarch could see palpable fear begin to grow on Hox’s facial features. No retaliation came from the thunder warrior, his lasrifle having long since dropped into Gyptian sand. “Find peace in having performed your duties in His name”

In that solitary phrase, Hox’s eyes had widened and the storm opened - giving way to the bright Gyptian sun and the heat that swiftly followed. Clarity. It came in awe as the veteran warrior sank to his knees in the presence of his gene-father. There were no words in the moment that he could say as his eyes darted around the plaza as he took in all that happened. He saw his brethren, alive and dead and the recollection came in a wave.

Tears began to stream down his face, sputtering out apologies came in an incoherent stream as he sank further into the sand. A singular wail came from him. He didn’t want to believe it had happened and yet it had - a brother had killed a brother and there was no return from that. All that the God-Slayers stood for; Imperium, Honor, Brotherhood, all washed away by his clouded actions. There was a moment as he looked back to his gene-father, a crushing weight upon his face. They were warriors made to bring Imperium through gene-wrought might, but they were still human.

“I have failed you and the God-Slayers, Aeternus.” He wept, leaning back on his knees. There was no moment between his words, “I have failed Him. I killed my brothers! They were to die honorably and I butchered them like dogs! Like nothing more than Gyptian filth! How am I to find peace now? How am I to find my peace in my own death, Aeternus?”

He did not wait for an answer to his lamentation, “I deserve a most gruesome death, there can not be anything less. I can’t atone. I can’t mourn. I can only be given the death that I deserve! Hark! Hark upon how I, Hox, am nothing more than a kinslayer! Please, father, put this mongrel out of his misery just as you did those Gyptian monsters.”

Adamantium blade met throat as Aeternus granted a swift death to Hox. The Primarch’s obsidian greatblade fell to his side, abandoned to pull his kindred into a death’s embrace. An inaudible gasp escaped the thunder warrior’s lips as life spilled out from his neck. Genefather watched as his geneson’s piercing black eyes dilated. Armored limbs dropped limp, head nestled against black pauldron, and tears stained his furred cloak as death arrived. Tears failed to fall from Rex’s eyes, nor did his lips tremble for the loss of his kin.

“Ave Imperator, Gloria Excelsis Terra…” Primarch Aeternus whispered as the adamantium dagger was carefully removed from Hox’s throat. The cadaver was gently raised by Rex’s black gauntlets, held aloft as if it were a precious artifact. Several thunder warriors slammed yellow fists against their own chest plates in salute, echoing their genefathers previous words in mournful repetition. Caligula approached with both of his arms open and turned upwards to receive their fallen comrade. Delicately, the legion commander relinquished his subordinates body into the captain’s awaiting limbs. As Caestus carried off the deceased knight to their transports, Aeternus turned to address those that remained.

This is our duty. This is what it means to be one of His warriors. Do not falter in His cause. We were given purpose because of Him. Without Him, humanity is lost. Raptor Imperialis! Gather our fallen brethren and return to the transports.” Aeternus roared, resolve and pride threading into his vocal cords. Genewarriors of the First Legion yelled out in response, some roaring as he did and others screaming to their lungs capacity. His thunder warriors left in short succession, collecting bodies of those that had fallen to Hox’s rage and assisting few that had been wounded. The plaza emptied as quickly as it had been filled, only the sound of sand tempests and belching engines remaining.

Primarch Aeternus stepped back into the plaza, retrieving his greatblade and twisting around to stare at Amalasuntha. Rex was well aware that she had been watching from beginning to end with her hawk-like eyes. Despite their few feuds, he did not envy the task she was forced to carry out. The legion commander walked towards her with his sword resting against his black pauldron. Black greaves halted approximately three steps away from her, the great helm’s crimson lenses level with the Black Hawk’s eyes.

Do you understand now, Amalasuntha?” Aeternus asked, his words lacking any of the hostility one would expect from experiencing such a situation.

“My worries have been assuaged for the time being,” Amalasuntha stated, not bothering to meet Aeternus’ own gaze and instead gazing straight forward with her lance by her side. The custodian began to move past the Primarch with a slow gait, almost desiring to move on. Yet, she stopped a few paces away, looking to the imperious sun. An utterance came that only the two could hear, her stern voice cutting through, “You showed great humanity, Aeternus.”


Credits: @MarshalSolgriev (Aeternus/God-Slayers), @Lauder (Hox/Lady Amalasuntha)
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