Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 72, final update done)

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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 41)

Postby Gaius Marius » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:28 am

Friggin sweet.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 41)

Postby Meaneye » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:25 pm

Update time again.

This story arc is now concluded; we are officially 75% done with the story. The next update is a little flashback into the past, and then a new arc (making the fatemakers' life a little even more interesting :twisted: )



Around the orbit of Faramuntibus III

557 days after the Emperor’s death





The Opportunity launched four objects into the atmosphere of Faramuntibus III. Three of them were drop-pods, the traditional space to land assault crafts of the Astartes Chapters. They darted towards the planet in freefall, although the Fatemakers had no intention of harming the planet or its inhabitants in any way.

The fourth vessel was a Thunderhawk gunship. Like the drop-pods, the Thunderhawk had no intention of attacking anything on the planet, although her passenger had proven to be extremely dangerous. The gunship deliberately avoided the area where the drop-pods were about to land; in fact, she spiralled towards a location almost half a continent away from them.

The bridge of the Opportunity was unusually crowded. Almost all ranking officers were present, not because they were required but because they felt they had to witness this. Nobody said a word. The crewmen were doing their work silently, while the Astartes felt they had nothing to say – not until this scene had been concluded.

‘Drop-pods arrived safely, my lord,’ a crewman reported, to which Malistrum simply nodded. Some of the officers sighed; for relief or tension, perhaps not even they knew.

‘The Thunderhawk?’ Andorias asked.

‘Still on flight, my lord.’

‘We could still change our mind about him,’ Gorski murmured. ‘He deserves punishment from our hand just as much as from the Griffons’.

Malistrum shook his head. ‘We will not lower ourselves to his level.’





‘I have already broken one oath today,’ Malistrum said, and leaned down so his eyes bore into the Commissar’s from mere inches. ‘I will not break another. You will be transported down on the planet unharmed as I have promised. Unlike you, I keep my word.’





Essen hummed; no doubt he remembered the expression of relief on Lamberg’s face as he had realized he would live.

‘How long do you think it will take them to hunt him down?’

He addressed all his peers. Some of them shrugged.

‘It’s difficult to say,’ Uskovich answered. ‘He is sent far away from them, and they don’t know where we put him down. They are low on equipment, and they have no access to any help from the locals. In fact, parts of the planet are still contested.’

‘It would take months,’ Malistrum said with a stone-hard face. ‘Commissar Lamberg cannot say that we denied him a fighting chance.’

‘More like prolonged his agony,’ Essen replied with a strange satisfaction on his face. He looked aside, only to look away as his gaze met his fellow Sergeant, Andorias. They had always been fighting, but he had been having difficulty interpreting the look on the other’s face. Andorias used to ignore him or look down on him most of the time. Now… he looked like he was actually contemplating his person, and this realization made Essen uncomfortable.

‘He knows he will be hunted,’ he continued anyway. ‘He knows what an Astartes can do now. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, he will be found.’

‘Well,’ Malistrum said, ‘Astropath Lucas has told him that he would die with an Astartes gauntlet around his neck. He never said that the gauntlet would bear the Fatemakers’ colour.’

The others nodded solemnly. Revenge was supposed to below these people, but this was more than a simple insult. Lamberg and the Directorate had tried to bring out the basest instincts of them. They had tried to stay true to their nature, but their reputation, their honour, their character had been tarnished forever. Even if no word had got out of this catastrophe, they would remember it forever. They had become mercenaries. They had become oath-breakers. They had killed fellow Astartes.

Next time all of this would be done much, much easier.

‘Any sign of the two fleets changing their mind?’ Malistrum broke the mood with a pointed question.

‘Both of them have disappeared, my lord.’

‘Good.’ The remaining Oligarchy and Directorate ships had fled back to their home planets after the battle, not being sure just where the Fatemakers’ true allegiance lied. They were right: Strike Force Four had consciously broken the naklonjenost-agreement they had made with the Directorate. There had been several incoming transmissions from the planet, of course, which the Opportunity had all blocked by Captain Malistrum’s order. He was not interested in anything the Director might have said.

‘Return to your posts,’ he commanded. ‘Librarian Akichi will finish the psychic scan any minute now. As soon as it happens, we leave this system.’

The officers nodded, and left, with the exception of Chaplain Uskovich. He simply looked on as the others went out of the bridge, then he turned back to the Captain. He made a half smile, his handsome features showing deep, overwhelming sorrow.

‘Would you like me to say it for you, my lord?’ he asked.

Malistrum looked back.

‘Is it so obvious?’

‘I have seen you angry before – although to be honest, it didn’t happen very often. Now you show no emotion, and this is telling. You are more sad than angry, and you don’t know how to handle it.’

‘As opposed to you?’ the Captain inquired. His voice contained no accusation, only mere curiousness.

‘My Astartes conditioning is partly broken,’ Uskovich said. ‘It should make me a liability that I feel more emotions, but perhaps this is an advantage now. I don’t think it is wise to repress these things. You have to let it out eventually.’

‘I am planning to run through some intensive training programs in the near future,’ Malistrum murmured. ‘I need to work it out of my system.’

‘If I may, Captain,’ the Chaplain intervened, ‘it would also help if you simply said it out loud. If you express it in actual words, maybe it will be easier for you to cope with it.’

The Captain looked out of the viewport again.

‘I had a mission objective, and I was unable to complete it,’ he finally said. ‘By definition, I failed here today.’

Uskovich sighed. They were standing well behind the mortal crewmen, and they were talking quietly, but he lowered his own voice even more.

‘I know that it doesn’t help if I say it was not your fault. You are not the kind of man who accepts such excuses. Instead I tell you this. You can make mistakes. You can fail, you can lose, but as long as you can act, as long as you remain true to your beliefs, you can always make amends.’

‘How can I make this right?’ the Captain asked.

‘With a lot of work,’ the firm answer came. ‘It will take a decade, a century, a whole generation of Astartes may have to go, you may not see the end of it, but eventually, amendment is possible.’ He made a strange smile. ‘All it takes is an awfully long time, and we live long. Unless we die, of course.’

Malistrum pondered over this for a moment.

‘I will not be able to make amends to the Howling Griffons,’ he said.

Uskovich paused. ‘No, you won’t,’ he admitted. ‘You just spared their lives, and let them go. You could have done a lot of other things. You could have had them killed. You could have handed them over to the Directorate. You offered them a reasonable option, and they took it.’

‘I doubt that they would accept your line of reasoning,’ Malistrum retorted humourlessly.





‘I cannot change things. They are what they are, and we have to try and limit any further harm, if possible,’ Malistrum said. ‘It was Commissar Lamberg who gave the final order, but I do not deny my part in the demise of your Captain. I refuse total responsibility, though. I am offering you a chance to save the remaining Howling Griffons aboard this ship, and a chance to continue to serve the cause of Mankind.’

Sergeant Harald said nothing. He was standing barely a foot from Captain Malistrum, and if there were no force-field between them, he would have been able to reach out with his arm and touch the Fatemaker commander. His men were standing behind him, hate and anger evident in their eyes.

Tensions were high. The Griffons were contained, and Malistrum had heavy weapon specialists standing behind him, ready to open fire should the energy barrier fail for any reason, but the Captain was under no illusion that the Astartes prisoners could do no more damage to his crew or his ship if they chose to try and break out. He had to make a deal with them.

‘I will send you down on the surface of Faramuntibus III,’ he continued. ‘There is still heavy fighting down there, and the locals need a neutral force to pacify the world. I will give you back all your equipment, and I also send down all the bodies of your fallen battle-brothers, including Captain Barandiya.’

Harald’s fists clenched.

‘There have been conflicts between loyalist Astartes,’ Malistrum continued. ‘One side loses, and another wins. This is the sad reality of our world. I implore to you as a leader of men to allow me to part with you in peace. I have no wish to shed more blood today, my force or yours.’

Harald said nothing for a few seconds.

‘And if we refuse?’ he simply asked.

‘I am offering you a chance to survive, but I have no mercy for those who fail to see their chances for what they are,’ Malistrum answered. His face was hard, even if his voice was not. ‘The back wall of this chamber is actually an airlock. I do not wish to kill you, but I will not lose any more of my men for any reason today. If you refuse my offer, I will jettison you all into space, and I will deal with my conscience later.’

Silence descended between the two groups again.

‘If you agree, we move out of this corridor, deactivate the force-field, and let you out,’ Malistrum continued. ‘We will open a path for you through the ship until the drop-pod launchers. You will not even encounter us. We open two pods for you, and we send the third pod with your equipment and your fallen after you from a different launch bay. You will not be able to use this opportunity and try to attack back. The interior of the ship is re-structured to a considerable degree. You will not find your way out unless we show it to you.’

‘What is your answer, Sergeant?’ the Fatemaker Captain finally asked. Harald looked at his men from the corner of his eye, then stepped closer to Malistrum, as much as the force-field allowed him to.

‘You have a Sergeant,’ he said. ‘Brown-skinned. Augmetic eye.’

‘Seregant Andorias,’ Malistrum nodded.

‘Tell him that he was right. Tell him that he made me think for a second, and I will try his way. I would not do this for his Captain.’ Harald looked away. ‘I accept your offer.’ He looked back, right into Malistrum’s eyes. ‘Although you might regret that you did not kill us when you had the chance.’






‘He was right. I sentenced them to a slow death.’

‘Hmm.’ Uskovich thought it over. The two of them watched as the crew received confirmation of the Thunderhawk landing safely and disembarking Commissar Lamberg onto the surface of the planet.

‘This was their Borshak, and we were their Twilight Monks,’ Malistrum remarked. ‘Just as we were almost wiped out, and the Galaxy wrote us off, so they were destroyed here by us.’

‘We survived Borshak, Uskovich reminded him, ‘and they didn’t lose the whole Chapter, only one company.’

‘In this new age?’ Malistrum asked. ‘Every company is on its own. They were their own Chapter, and we sent them to extinction.’

‘Not necessarily.’ Uskovich grimaced. ‘You do know that Sergeant Harald meant you will regret not killing him because he intended to come after you?’

‘I know that, but what are the chances? They are effectively finished.’

‘They said the same about us after Borshak.’

‘We started a new life with more than two companies.’

Uskovich said nothing to this. He scratched his chin, then he glanced back to the Captain.

‘One of the surviving Griffons is an Apothecary.’

Malistrum looked back at him.

‘Maybe they will not be able to expand. Maybe they will not be anything more than a single squad of newer and newer generations of Astartes. Who knows? We crawled back with two and a half companies, but is this the lower limit? It may take them centuries, but, eventually…’ the Chaplain shrugged.

Malistrum looked at him intently. ‘What are you suggesting?’ he finally said.

‘All I am saying is that the Howling Griffons are not dead yet. Not this company, not the Chapter. They still have that small fighting chance, and it is up to them to live with it. We may meet them in the future. We may fight again. They may take revenge upon us, or we may extinguish them for good. In any case, all this would mean that there will actually be a future where we and they are both alive. And if we manage to get that far, we have already beaten all odds, no matter what the outcome will be.’

Malistrum looked away. A few seconds later, a small smile appeared on his lips.

‘Fighting chance?’

Uskovich nodded. ‘Fighting chance.’

‘So be it.’ Malistrum’s voice was much more determined now. ‘We take up the Thunderhawk, listen to what our psykers have to say and continue our journey. Let’s hope the Howling Griffons can make fate for themselves – and let’s hope the same for us.’





Epilogue 1





The air cooled down considerably around the two psykers. Frost started to cover the table, and their breathing, although slow and regulated, was misty. Also, the noises seemed to be dulled, somehow, as if they had detached themselves from the rest of the reality of the room; which, in a manner of speaking, they did.

Librarian Akichi was sitting at one end of the table with Astropath Lucas facing him directly. Between them lay the object: a single piece of rock, unremarkable in all possible ways, except the psychic imprint on it.

When the Emperor had died, Strike Force Four had decided to travel to their original headquarters to contact their brothers in the Chapter’s reserve fleet and ask for further instructions from the Chapter-Master. They had not found the reserve fleet where it should have been. For some reason, they had left earlier, towards Holy Terra, as it later turned out. The Opportunity had tried to contact them at the Chapter’s secret supply cache at a location called Vault Double-Oh-Three. They had missed the others there too, and the trace had gone cold shortly afterwards. Strike Force Four had one last chance to catch up with their brothers.

That piece of rock that the psykers were now examining had been carved from the corridors of Vault Double-Oh-Three. The cameras set up in the area had shown a brother Techmarine giving instructions to the rest of his squad, presumably about their plotted course of travel. He had been leaning against the wall while speaking, and the Librarian of Strike Force Four had decided to take a desperate gamble and use a chunk of that wall as a psychic conduit to his brother’s thoughts.

The method was known to Librarians, but the scanning could have only been done once, and Akichi had no special expertise in this kind of psychic use. He needed a helper, a channeller, an amplifier if he wanted to succeed. Any Astropath, perhaps other psykers would have done, but the Extinction, the Emperor’s death had caused all soul-bound and a lot of unbound psykers simply die with him. There were scarcely any trained Astropaths left in the Galaxy.

The psyker in front of him was one of the few remaining soul-bound Astropaths. Lucas represented an almost unimaginable value and Asset to the strike force. With his help, the Opportunity may be able to find their lost brothers and win new purpose, a veritable salvation through the unification. He was worth any price. The Fatemakers waged a war for him, lowered themselves to mercenary work, risked the destruction of the ship, the loss of their honour, moral corruption, all for the acquisition of this single psyker. The price was high, and other, perhaps more innocent, people had paid most of it. The moral consequences of the Battle of Faramuntibus would be far-reaching and might one day destroy the Fatemakers just as surely as the wrath of the enemy, but this was a consideration for later times. What was important there and then was that the Fatemakers had their Astropath, and they could conduct this séance.

Akichi exhaled another puff of cold mist into the air. He had the focus now, and Lucas could provide him with additional power, but the trace was already faint as it was. He had to be careful or all the suffering, all the sacrifices would be for nothing.

His mind dived into the Immaterium. The chip of stone, the table, his surroundings all disappeared, only to be replaced by an abstract scene which the Librarian could supposedly interpret. Akichi had not been very imaginative before the Extinction, but his mind had been wandering lately, and the psychic symbolism of his witch-sight was affected by it. He was standing in a cloud of fog, holding a stone tabled with unintelligible writing on it. The tablet seemed strange in his hands, as if it was made of some malleable material. The message was clear: move too carelessly, and the tablet crumbles into dust, erasing the psychic imprint on it forever.

There was a reassuring presence somewhere in the mist. Astropath Lucas materialized in front of him. He had brown eyes in this vision, and they bore into Akichi’s with silent reassurance. The Librarian addressed him without words.

We only have one chance to do it right.

I know. I am ready, my lord.

I will try to clean the surface of the tablet. Do not help me; only hold it and keep it together.

Be quick with it, my lord. It will break up very quickly.

We will do it, have no worries about it.


The Librarian let go of the tablet. It should have fallen down even though Lucas was holding it from the other side; however, all this was symbolic, and the slab of stone remained firmly in the hands of the Astropath. Akichi’s hands hovered above the tablet for a second.

Then he dug his fingers into it. The surface of the stone rippled as if it had been liquid, and the letters re-arranged themselves. Words appeared, fragments of sentences and phrases moved away from or melted into each other. They were accompanied by images, sounds or even smells and tastes. The Techmarine’s imprint on the focus object slowly came to the surface.
The tablet cracked on the side, which Akichi ignored completely. His fingers stirred the surface for what seemed to be some heartbeats (how much time it was taking in the real world, neither of them knew), and, finally, he shot a psychic wave into the stone.

The effect was catastrophic. The tablet blinked with light, gave out a strange sigh, and it changed. Stone became sand in an instant, and it all flew into a hundred different directions, as if a gust of wind blew it away. The two psykers remained where they were, their hands staying in the same position. The sand cleared out of the way, revealing some last remaining stone chips of the original tablets. They were letters, which formed a word in High Gothic; they were glowing with inner light, only to slowly fade and crumble themselves.

The psykers blinked.

Akichi looked up into the blind real-world eyes of the Astropath. He could not have seen him, but Lucas seemed to return the gaze.

‘Did you see it?’ Akichi asked.

Lucas nodded, and said, ‘Greengate.’ He looked tired, but satisfied. ‘I have no idea what it means, my lord,’ he added.

‘Neither do I,’ Akichi said. ‘But our cogitators will know.’ He stood up, and fought down the temporary nausea which threatened to overcome him. ‘Astropath Lucas, I don’t know how to thank you for your help. You have given us new hope and a fighting chance. It means everything for our Chapter, and so we will remain in your debt forever.’

Lucas smiled, and leaned back on his chair. ‘One and a half year,’ he murmured. ‘I have been staying in my cell, without purpose, without the Emperor to pray to. Now I have purpose again. It is I who is in your debt, Librarian.’

‘We will both have the chance to settle our debts,’ Akichi said, and went for the door. He almost pushed the opening control when Lucas spoke to him again.

‘Librarian?’

Akichi turned his head back.

‘There is one more thing before you go. I… I have limited clairvoyance abilities. Not very strong, but it worked with you, and it still seems to be working. I believe I picked up something from you while we were conducting the séance.’

Akichi turned back with his full body. ‘Tell me whatever you feel you need to say, Astropath.’

‘You have asked me about the circle when we first contacted,’ Lucas said. He frowned. ‘I did not really understood it, and I still don’t know what you were talking about, but as we were using a focus technique, I was able to glimpse into your future. At least I believe I had a glimpse.’

Akichi’s eyes narrowed.

‘Carry on,’ he said.

‘I think I can reassure, my lord,’ Lucas smiled. ‘I don’t know how, but you are on the right path.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You are still walking the circle,’ Lucas explained. ‘You worried about it whether you and the Fatemakers are still on the path which Fate dictated you, and I am convinced that you are still on that path.’

The Librarian did not move for some time.

‘Thank you for telling me about this,’ he finally said.

‘Is this good news?’ Lucas asked. There was something in the Librarian’s voice which worried him, and as he was blind, he could not see the face Akichi was making.

‘You have just shared something important with me.’ Akichi turned back again. ‘We meet later, Astropath.’

‘Until then,’ Lucas nodded, relieved. He heard the librarian leave, and smiled again.

It was good to do useful work again.





Epilogue 2





‘Thank you very much, Magos Brakk Inform me of anything you might find.’

Malistrum turned down the vox. He was standing in his private room next to his cogitator. He had a great deal to think of.

Greengate. The Opportunity’s cogitators found the data about it quite easily. It was a logical destination for the reserve fleet, it was not even far in terms of Warp-travel, and so it seemed that Strike Force Four was on the right path again, but the Captain was not calm.

On the right path again…

Akichi did not hide Astropath Lucas’s report from him. The Astropath knew nothing of the tragedy the Opportunity was about to face, and Malistrum had ordered everyone not to tell him the truth. If he was to be a doomsday prophet, it was better he did not know it.

Malistrum reached out and activated his cogitator. He found the pict-recording he had been examining ever since he had learned about the Fatemakers’ doom. By now, the Warp-struck side of the slowly immolating Opportunity from the future was so familiar to him that he did not even need the picture, but he brought it up nevertheless.

He typed in a set of commands, and the burning ship slid onto the left side of the display. The other half now showed the same side of the ship; this picture, however, had been taken just a few hours earlier to give a basis for comparison.

Malistrum leaned forward, and he studied the two pictures intently. Finally, he sighed.

It had not happened yet.

We still have some time.






Epilogue 3





The Machina probe attached itself to the hull of its target vessel.

It was easier to find the anomalous ship than it originally assessed. The ship – Opportunity by the designation code – stopped in a human-inhabited system, and she had apparently waged a furious battle with some of the locals. This allowed the probe to catch up with her, completing the first phase of its mission.

Hiding from the ship would be more difficult. The energy output of the battle allowed the probe to drift into the system undetected, but now it needed to find a place where it could monitor the ship’s further actions. It had switched off most of its systems, operating on backup energy reserves now. It had had to slow down on one instance when a Mechanicus drone had been passing by, taking pict-recordings of the ship’s hull for some reason, and the Machina probe had been forced to wait until everything was clear again.

The time was right. MUTO-35145, the observer probe sent by the Machina and the Magellan Reich, found a suitable section on the opportunity’s hull, magnetized some of its appendages to stay on the surface, and activated its cloaking field. Whatever destiny this ship and her passengers were heading towards, it would go with them.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 42)

Postby Gaius Marius » Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:33 am

That astropath, so helpful.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 42)

Postby Midgard » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:04 pm

I've been meaning to say this, but the story is as good as always. I've kept up with it, and am sad to see it get close to conclusion, but it has been a great ride so far!
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 42)

Postby JJvagnar » Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:00 am

Read this all in one go. Dude excellent story hoping for more.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 42)

Postby Meaneye » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:03 pm

Another update, a flashback this time. With my current workload, this might be the new update frequency, but let's hope for the best.




Intermezzo

Barbaton System, Barbaton V

459 days after the Emperor’s death





There was a civil war in the Barbaton system.

The Extinction had hit it worse than most other Imperial world. The death of thousands of psykers and the demonic incursions which appeared all over the planet simultaneously had been bad enough in itself, but soon after all that, the various chaos cults of the world had risen in one huge overwhelming horde. The government had almost fallen, with some of its members killed in the first days of the uprising, others openly joining the Emperor’s enemies, preaching the approach of the end of times.

The planet had stepped back from the brink of destruction in the last minute. The last few sane leaders had formed an alliance with the remaining Arbites and military forces, and started a systematic campaign against the insurrection. Heavy fighting had erupted all around the planet, but nowhere heavier than around the former capital, where both forces had managed to get a foothold early, although not enough to oust the other side for good.

After almost a year following the Extinction, most of the planet lay in ruins. The Archenemy had managed to catch most of the orbital weapon platforms, and used them to bomb the surface indiscriminately. Barbaton could no longer be considered an industrial planet. There was no intact manufactorum, no unmolested agricultural area and no mining facility which was not destroyed by one force or another. The fighting was still going on, although the Imperial command was now concentrating mainly on the capital. It had not been bombarded from orbit, and there was still a small loyal Mechanicus presence in the area. There was technology there, and the Imperials hoped that once they had occupied the local space-port, found the tech-priests and their hidden supplies and re-ignited the orbital cannons around the city, they may actually turn the tide of the war and win.

Most of the Imperial forces knew better. The leaders, the officers, the soldiers, even the civilian population felt that whatever they did, they were too late. The damage to the planet’s infrastructure was too great, and the looming humanitarian catastrophe was threatening to finish the world on its own, without the assistance of the Chaos cults. The wild fighting going on on the planet was in fact the death throes of a dieing civilization.





This particular district of Rath Badulg, the planetary capital, had been seeing heavy fighting for a while. The centre of the district housed the Mechanicus compound which had so far managed to withstand the Archenemy attempts to capture it. The besiegers had no firepower to crack open the defences, but they could seal it effectively, especially since both sides depleted their aircraft reserves. The Imperial army had had enough heavy ammunition left to break through all but the last enemy defence lines, at which points both sides had decided to simply shoot each other into oblivion with all the remaining artillery. The survivors found themselves uncoordinated and scattered all over the area. If the Chaos cultists had not been attacking them, the Imperials would have probably just broken and ran; this way, they had to stand their ground and die fighting.

Trooper Fergath was a seasoned army veteran, just like all his remaining comrades. The past year had made all survivors so. Still, he felt his life was nearing its end. His squad had no supplies, no backup, no contact with any other forces, and, more importantly, he personally had about five shots left in his lasgun. Seeing the charging cultists ahead, he realized that he would run out of ammunition before he would run out of targets.

He groaned. He was tired and desperate, equally willing to lie down and die or run at the enemy shooting and killing. The familiar touch of the gun decided it for him. He would make a last stand here for maybe two minutes, then he would rest for all eternity.

‘Emperor preserve me,’ he snarled as he shot the first cultist in the chest.

‘Save us, or go to Hell,’ he continued as he brought down three more people in quick succession. Others fell from the enemy as his squad emptied their remaining weapons dry.

Fergath’s last shot missed. The cultist ran at him with a savage-looking blade in his hand, shouting the name of his patron. Fergath swore in the foulest language he knew, and grabbed his gun with both hands. Using the now useless las-weapon as a mere club, he ducked under the sweeping blade, and punched his opponent hard in his ribcage.

The other fell with a cry, but others came in his stead. The two sides intermingled, and individual soldiers quickly got lost in the chaotic melee. There was no spectacular swordsmanship or finesse in the moves of anybody here. This was a fight of chops and stabs, a butcher’s work instead of refined soldiery. It was a symptom of what was going on in the world in general: a race wanted to commit violent suicide and the individual members simply decided to heed this instinct.

Fergath swung his lasgun left and right. He crushed skulls and broke bones, yelling incoherently all the while. He lost all self-preservation, and rational thought as his primeval, animalistic side took control over his actions. He did not care whether he lived or died; the world became a blur around him with the occasional cracking noise and shouts of pain.

His head cleared when somebody stabbed his leg. He screamed and fell on his back. He saw movement on his left side, and his self-preservation kicked in just in time to catch the wrist of the cultist who wounded him with a knife. He started to wrestle with him, but the other was stronger and crazier. He wriggled his body on top of Fergath, effectively pinning him down, while he grabbed the knife with the other hand. The blade started to descend towards Fergath’s throat.

‘Emperor preserve me,’ Fergath gasped as he was desperately trying to push the knife away. His enemy looked savage and triumphant: he knew that the Imperial under him would die, and Fergath could hardly argue with him. ‘Emperor preserve me,’ he repeated, as if the familiar mantra could somehow save him. The cultist grinned, and pushed the blade further down. ‘Emperor preserve me. Emperor preserve me. Emperor pre…’

And that was the moment the sky lit up.





Every single person in the hemisphere saw it.

The orbital platforms around the planet had long been either destroyed or abandoned; the last few of them were in the hand of the cultists, but they lacked the means to use them as effective weapons. They had managed to unload all the missiles and energy reserves onto the planet, destroying parts of the infrastructure on the surface, but that had been the past. Now they were useless chunks of metal flying in the sky. Some of them still had people on them, and they occasionally managed to charge and fire some of the lance batteries, but they no longer represented a significant threat to anyone.

Apparently, someone thought otherwise. Someone decided that the platforms were still a threat, and he also had the means to destroy them. Barbaton could no longer scan the neighbouring space, but the newcomers announced themselves in a spectacular fashion. Imperial and cultist forces alike ceased fighting as they watched someone systematically kill all orbital installations in a cold, methodical fashion.





The Rath Badulg Mechanicus compound was one of the last few places with enough technology to identify the newcomers. Besieged by the Archenemy for months, this new development could have meant salvation or final defeat for the whole planet, and they did not delay to direct all available scanners and augurs towards the sky. What they saw was shocking. All Magos and Adepts, on the walls handling the weapons, working on the compound’s generators or simply operating the more mundane machines stopped for a second as the news flew through the Noosphere. Questions and answers followed one another in rapid succession as the implication of this event finally hit home.

[Imperial vessel above the planetary capital.]
[Query: friendly or hostile?]
[Astartes pattern strike cruiser. Identification imminent.]
[Query: Space Marines?]
[Affirmative. Solid return of identification. Fatemaker Astartes Chapter.]
[Strike cruiser launching drop pods and other landing units.]
[Query: target location of landing craft?]
[Target location is this Mechanicus compound.]
[Help is on its way.]
[The Fatemakers are coming.]





Fergath saw the largest flash on the sky, but he was lying on his back, and it was out of his vision, which was lucky for him for two reasons. The first reason was that this way, the sudden light did not blind him temporarily. The other reason was that the cultist on his chest was looking directly into the flash, and he, on the other hand, did get blind.

The cultist screamed, and rolled off Fergath, groping his face and eyes. The soldier had no time to be happy for his luck: he quickly sat up, grabbed his enemy and snapped his neck with a quick jerk of his hands.

He let out a tiny whimper, and let go of the cultist. All around him, the street was littered with the corpse of his comrades and of the Archenemy soldiers. Two of them were still alive, blinded by the same burst of light which had saved his life. He did not hesitate. He looked around, and saw the lasgun of Kendrik, one of his last friends from the squad. Kendrik was lying on the pavement, his head missing, so he would not need that gun any more; however, a bayonet was still attached to it, and that made the gun the deadliest weapon in the neighbourhood.

He picked up the gun, noted without any surprise that it was empty, limped closer and he stabbed the last two cultists to death with it. By the time he had finished, he started to shake as the horrors of the last few minutes started to catch up with him. He briefly considered throwing up, but then a new noise called his attention.

He looked up. There were aircraft in the sky. He had not seen any function planes for months, and now a whole formation was approaching on low altitude. He was simply staring as the planes darted by above his head. One of them launched a pair of rockets from under her wing, which obliterated a nearby building. Then she moved on.

Fergath looked on. The aircraft did not register him, but he saw the planes clearly enough to see some detail on their hull. The rock-crete grey colour told him nothing, but as the aircraft hovered for a second, he managed to catch a symbol on the side of the vessel which filled his heart with relief and hope.

There was an Aquila on the vessel. The holy symbol of the Imperium, which no Chaos cultist would leave intact. These people were here to fight the Archenemy. These people were here to save them.

The largest of the aircraft hovered closer to the ground, just a few blocks ahead of Fergath. She was carrying some sort of tanks on her frame. The soldier did not recognise them, but he knew what the twin-linked lascannons on the tanks’ side could do to the enemy. The tanks detached themselves from the vessel, and moved on towards the objective Fergath himself had been trying to reach: the Mechanicus complex and perhaps the last piece of intact technology on the planet.

Fergath looked up to the sky. ‘My life for you,’ he whispered, and started to limp after the ships. He knew he was in no shape to help them, but whatever would happen at the complex, now he was determined to witness it.





The siege of the Mechanicus compound was a bloody, drawn-out affair. In the first few days, the Archenemy had managed to destroy great chunks of the great wall which surround them, but that had been before they had run out of heavy ammunition, and the planet-wide warfare had made it impossible to replenish their reserves. The Mechanicus guards had energy weapons which they could recharge, and so far, every attempt at rushing the walls had been repelled. On the other hand, a sally was also impossible. The attackers had enough sense to erect a great circumvallation around the compound, and just as the walls kept the cultists out, so did the makeshift archenemy walls kept the Mechanicus in. the two walls – one reinforced rock-crete, the other a makeshift mess of fused metal panels faced each other ominously, with a killzone of about two hundred metres between them.

The Archenemy was crazy, but not stupid. Another set of great contravallation surrounded the whole besieged area to protect the besiegers from outside attacks as well. Almost a kilometre’s worth of space existed between the two Archenemy walls, and the attacking cultists had been living, fighting and conducting their awful rituals there for months now. They had separated themselves almost completely from the capital, waging their own war while the rest of the world had been trying to get to them.

Sergeant Bobyaki was one of the Imperial detachments who had tried to break into their siege-circle and failed. He had not been their prisoner for long, and the fact that he was still alive attested to it. He was held in the remains of a destroyed building, which had a window with metal bars looking onto the courtyard. He could see the rituals of the cultists, and he could see them drag his squad-mates into the open, one by one, to torture and sacrifice them.

He knew for a fact that he was the last person living, and he also knew that he would follow the other soon. He knew this because his jailors told him so. He spat at them, cursed them, and privately, he cried and prayed to the Emperor fervently. The one thing he did not even try was begging. He knew it would not work with the cultists.

He had been sitting by the window under what little light it let through when the sky had started to burn. The cultists had immediately sounded a general alarm, and now all of them were sitting in their defensive positions at the outer walls, looking for any enemy attack. Bobyaki was dismayed. He had no idea what was going on, and he could not dare to hope. He literally latched himself onto the bars as he was trying to find out just what exactly was happening.

The first sound he heard was that of incoming aircraft. He was surprised as he was not sure that even a single functioning plane remained around the capital. He looked on, trying to make sense out of it when the cultists opened fire at something outside the walls. Bobyaki swallowed hard. Sitting in his cell and waiting for his execution was bad enough, but this blind incompetence was much worse. His lips opened again, forming another prayer.

‘Emperor pre…’

The outer walls blew in at three different locations at the same time. Bobyaki yelled, but the destruction was only the beginning of the carnage what was about to follow. Grey, blocky airplanes hovered up behind the walls, and the new vessels immediately hosed the ramps of the intact wall sections by some sort of fast-cycling fire from their hull-mounted weapons. The guards on the wall came apart. They did not simply die: their bodies were damaged so badly that there was not enough left of them to be recognisable. The defences which had decimated his detachment came apart in mere seconds.

It was still not over. The burning wall sections were crashed, and armoured vehicles poured in. Proper armoured vehicles, supported by the aircraft rolled into the courtyard. Enemy infantry was trying to stop them, but concentrated fire took them down so fast that it was downright ridiculous. The sergeant’s mouth opened. His mind could no longer comprehend what his eyes conveyed into his brain.

If he thought he had seen it all, he was mistaken. The block-shaped tanks fanned out, blasting the surrounding buildings with lascannon fire. Then their frontal ramps opened, and squads of powered-armoured warriors embarked, opening fire immediately.

Bobyaki had never seen anything like it. The warriors moved forward at a jogging speed, firing almost from the hip without apparently aiming. There were various buildings and possible covers around the courtyard, but their rate of fire was so staggering that they literally blanketed the area with bolt fire. Walls broke up. Metal ruptured. Bodies burst open like sacks of blood. Everything around their perimeter died.

New warriors emerged, armed with heavy weapons. They started to hose the wider area immediately. Two missile launchers blew out the building next to Bobyaki’s cell, and two more heavy bolters tore into the one on his other side. This actually snapped the sergeant out of his shock. His meagre, half-destroyed building had so far avoided destruction, but now the destruction seemed to be moving towards his direction. For a second, he considered yelling out loud to warn the newcomers that he was here… but then his sixth sense made him move his head, and he looked into the impassive visor of one of the warriors. He was standing dozens of feet from his position, but he was clearly looking at him – just as he was clearly aiming his boltgun at the sergeant’s head.

Bobyaki froze.

The gun did not waver in the hand of the warrior, but he did not fire either. It seemed to Bobyaki that the other was not really looking at his face, but a little higher up, at his forehead. He knew exactly what he would see there.

Years earlier, when he had been a younger, more eager (and, admittedly, more drunk) soldier, he had an Aquila tattooed on his forehead as a show of his devotion. This was moderately popular in the PDF, and the high command tolerated it; no doubt the Archenemy had left him for last to be sacrificed exactly because the very same Aquila. What had seemed to be a slow, torturous death sentence now turned out to be a blessing because the warrior turned his weapon away from the sergeant and joined his squad to fan out deeper into the cultist camp.

A new warrior moved into Babyaki’s vision, and the sergeant felt his heart started to beat faster. This warrior wore black armour, with a rock-crete shoulder pad which may have indicated some regimental symbol. He was holding a mace-like power weapon in his hand, but that was not what caught the sergeant’s attention. He looked only at his helmet, which was the colour of bone and formed a stern, horrifying skull. He had seen a statue before which was almost spitting image of the one moving towards him. The same helmet, the same armour.

The man before him was a Space Marine.

‘My lord,’ he breathed.

‘I am not your lord.’ The answer was mechanical and distorted. Babyaki could not help but shudder on hearing it.

‘You are wearing the Aquila on your forehead,’ the giant stated the obvious.

‘I am a faithful servant of the Imperium!’ the sergeant finally burst. ‘My lord, you must help m…’

‘You are a servant of the Imperium,’ the Astartes broke in. he was close to the cell window now, and his commanding voice somehow drowned out the sound of war further up the courtyard.

‘I am, my lord! Free me, and I will show…’

This was all Babyaki had time for. The Space Marine’s hand darted out, and grabbed the man’s face between his fingers. The hand held him tightly, as if it was in a vice, and the giant closed the sergeant as close to him as the bars allowed.

‘You let yourself captured,’ the giant stated. The mortal gurgled something incoherent.

‘You are a failure, and yet you dare defile the holy Aquila by openly wearing it.’

He emitted a strange, hissing sound. Babyaki would have panicked, but for some reason, the menacing presence of the Space Marine overcame any other emotion he might have felt. All he could concentrate was the skull-faced helmet and the jet-black gauntlet holding him by the throat.

The Space Marine leaned closer.

‘Pathetic,’ he declared, and pushed the sergeant away. He fell hard and hit his rump and his head as he was laid flat on the dirty floor. He was barely conscious when the giant stepped away from the window and moved on to join his brethren.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 43)

Postby Midgard » Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:45 pm

Still great stuff. It is easily the equal in writing quality to many BL writers, and I really hope to see more sooner rather than later! :)
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 43)

Postby Meaneye » Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:09 am

What do you know, I had some time to write another update!






The sounds of war came from everywhere. The Mechanicus outpost was scanning the enemy circumvallation fervently, and it was rewarded by the pleasing knowledge that the Chaos forces were slowly but surely taken apart out there. Every now and then, a flash of light or flames of explosions came up from behind the enemy walls, and the Astartes aircraft were visible as they slowly moved along the courtyard, systematically destroying buildings and strongpoints. Mostly, however, there were only sounds. The Mechanicus could analyse every single explosions, the voices of people dieing, the way the Space Marine bolters tore into flesh, rock-crete and metal, and one thing was obvious: the enemy was outclassed to the point of utter hopelessness.

The tech-priests were… content. Human emotions like gladness had no place among their ranks, but they were still mortal enough to feel a sudden relief as they realized that they might actually survive this siege. Survival statistics were being re-calculated as the Fatemakers waged war outside, and the new figures rose steadily, even by what little data could be gained from the events outside. Higher figures meant hope, and hope was good.

A new message came from orbit, directing the Mechanicus Magi for the first time since the arrival of the relief force. The message was terse, but this was the way the Mechanicus liked to deal with things anyway.

[Reinforcement arriving via drop-pods. Clear inner courtyard immediately.]

The Magi complied. Even as their forces hurriedly emptied the court immediately behind the main gate, red streaks clawed into the blue sky above. The Emperor’s Angels were arriving in their chariots to mete out justice.

The two grey drop-pods slammed into the ground with a force which almost reminded the observers of a direct bombardment. The shockwave had barely passed when the pods burst open, and two squads of power-armoured soldiers fanned out over the ground. The ranking Magos of the compound was on his way to the courtyard with his skitarii escort, and he arrived just in time to witness the parade-like precision the Fatemakers took up a loose formation around the perimeter. The Magos concluded that not even his own forces could have executed the manoeuvre any better, but he quickly discarded these thoughts as he concentrated on the leader of these new allies.

The leader of the freshly deployed forces was an Astartes Chaplain clad in black armour and carrying the traditional crozius mag-locked on his hip. He went up to meet the Magos who stepped out from the main building to greet him.

The Chaplain bowed his head and made the sign of the Aquila. The Magos did likewise. The two teams of soldiers looked more like inhuman monsters than real human beings: none present had an unmasked face, and the way the escorts behind the two leaders stood immobile betrayed almost insane discipline. The Magos could not have asked for a better relief force.

‘My name is Chaplain Üscüge,’ the Fatemaker leader started. ‘I bear a message from my leader which I have to give all ranking Mechanicus official personally. Is there a place where we can all discuss in peace?’

The Magos nodded, and answered in a mechanically distorted voice. ‘I shall summon my peers immediately. We are glad to have you here on Barbaton, Brother-Chaplain.’

‘And we are glad to be here, Magos,’ Üscüge answered. ‘We have brought salvation for your people.’





Fergath cursed silently. He was too slow, and was making slow progress towards the compound. Still, he was not far away.

He had tried to lay low and move stealthily, but the nearer he got to the enemy positions, the less he cared about it. The new Imperials literally pull the whole place apart. The combined aircraft and armour did not only break through any enemy opposition, but obliterated everything in its path. Fergath had heard the term ‘cutting a swathe of destruction’ before, but this was the first time he actually understood what exactly it involved.

It was horrible. There were not a lot of dead bodies on the ground, at least not in any recognisable form. The newcomers did a good account for themselves. They made sure and destroyed all buildings on their way along with anything that moved. Fergath had the distinct feeling that even when they found a long-decayed corpse, they probably went over it with their tracks or shot it just the same. Maybe they did too good an account for themselves in the end.

The speed with which they destroyed their way through the enemy was also staggering. Fergath doubted that any Imperial Guard could have done this much damage in such a short time. This raised another obvious question. Who the hell were these people.

Fergath slowed down, then stopped.

Could they be…?

He exhaled loudly and resumed his pace. If he was right, he had to see the end of it with his own eyes.





The room was filled with Mechanicus adepts. All of them came, or at least all of them who still retained enough motoric functions to change location. The presence of the Fatemakers represented more than simply reinforcement in the war. They offered answers, plans, hope, all of which were commodities which even the machine-hearted Mechanicus craved.

Chaplain Üscüge was standing somewhat aside from the crowd of Magi in the circle of his warriors. He was listening to his intercom for a while, then turned back to the assembled.

‘My forces have successfully cleared the area around the main gate,’ he announced. There was no visible reaction from the others. ‘I request your permission to park the vehicles in the courtyard. A counter-attack is unlikely at this point, but my Chapter’s battle doctrines do not allow us to remain exposed for any length of time.’

‘Of course, Brother-Chaplain,’ one of the Magi boomed.





The gate of the outpost opened for the first time for almost six month. The vehicles poured in, and dispersed all around the main courtyard. The infantry moved in with them. The Astartes warriors took up a simple but effective protective formation around the Land Raiders, facing outwards. The grey Thunderhawk gunships hovered around the gate, ready to shoot down any possible opposition. The skitarii guards on the walls and the defence towers did not change position and did not give in to relief. They simply ignored them and continued to watch the circumvallation outside the gate.





‘The information I am about to share with you is highly confidential, and there can be no recording about it,’ Üscüge continued, while waving away his own men. They obediently turned and walked to the end of the room. ‘Can I trust your discretion in this matter?’

‘Of course,’ the Magos answered. He nodded to his peers, and there was a series of clicks and buzzes as they turned off their recording devices. This also involved the shut-don of the room’s internal security detectors. For the duration o the conversation, the room became a blind spot in the security net of the compound.

‘Thank you, Magos,’ Üscüge said, and turned towards them. His men did likewise.

The Magos hesitated. There was something disturbing in the way the chaplain acted. Or perhaps it was the way the two groups were suddenly separated from each other: standing in the two opposite sides of the room, him and the Chaplain in the middle facing each other, the Fatemakers behind Üscüge forming a neat line along the wall while the Magi were huddled in one group.

‘What is your commander’s message, Brother-Chaplain?’ he asked.

Üscüge unlocked his bolt pistol.

‘Salvation,’ he said, and shot the Magos in the head.





The Thunderhawks, the Land Raiders and the heavy weapon-supported squads fired in perfect concert into the wall’s defenders. None of the skitarii had any time to react, at least not in any meaningful way. Facing away from the real enemy, they were cut down where they stood. The walls, the defensive positions, the gun emplacements, all the effort that went into protecting the place was ruined in a matter of seconds.





Betrayal was a potent force in the Galaxy.

The history of Mankind had always been full of episodes where one group turned on its erstwhile allies. It was impossible to protect against this. Men betrayed because they were weak or they thought they were strong enough. The human soul was usually available for hire for the right price. The Mechanicus was still human enough to take part in this game: sometimes they betrayed, sometimes they were betrayed in turn. Today, they were playing the role of victims.

Üscüge ducked as soon as he killed the Magos in front of him. The other Astartes behind him formed a perfect execution line, and their combined bolter fire killed most other Magi in a single volley. The shots arrived high, aiming for headshots mostly, which was not the most economical way of killing people. It seems that the Fatemakers intended to keep the room and the consoles around the wall as intact as possible.

This gave the remaining two Magi an opportunity to retaliate. They were big, husky creatures with enough augmentation to withstand even bolter impacts. They protected their heads with their metallic arms. Their red robes were shredded quickly enough, revealing yet more metal underneath. Two of them had rotating cannons built into their right arms, while the third one had energised blades instead of his fingers. They were weapon specialists, the supervisors of the compound’s armament, and it seemed their obsession with heavy guns and close-combat weapons was far more than just theoretical interest.

The cannons opened fire. Two Fatemakers died almost instantly, the high-calibre slugs bursting their armour open like paper. They were pushed against the wall, where they slowly slid down, leaving a messy red trail on the metal surface behind them.

The third Magos jumped at the Chaplain, who refused to move: he was kneeling, leaning onto the grip of his crozius, looking at the ground with his skull-faced helmet. The other Space marines did not move forward. They remained at the wall and continued to fire at the Mechanicus trio, although they concentrated more firepower at the assaulting Magos now. The bolters beat him back and slowed his attack to a crawl, but this gave his peers the chance to kill another Astartes and injure two other ones.

The third Magos launched forward again. Things started to look not so good for the attackers.

The crozius in the Chaplain’s grip suddenly flared. There was a strange smell in the room, somewhat reminiscent of dry ozonic air. The bolt fire stopped abruptly.

The flash which came afterwards blinded everyone for a second. Even the Magi’s sensors were overloaded, which did not prevent the braded-fingered one to strike down at the kneeling Chaplain. There was a new crackling sound.

The blades were stopped a few inches from Üscüge’s head. Another, wider blade on a long pole caught his hand, and kept it locked. The Magos looked up into the impassive visor of a Terminator helmet.

He stepped back. The Terminator was not alone: a whole squad of these lethal warriors were standing between the Space Marines and the three Magi.

‘Peace be with you,’ the Terminator said, and raised his power-halberd.





‘By the Throne,’ Fergath breathed.

The inner court of the Chaos-fortification was in ruin. The Imperials – they were Space Marines, they could only be Space Marines – did not spare the ammunition to shoot everything, everything, into tiny pieces.

The soldier limped into the court. He cautiously went round a group of cultists, careful not to touch them. He did not think that they would still be dangerous, but there was something intimidating in the way he could not say how many of them had been from all the body parts thrown all around the place.

Something moved in one of the windows.

‘Bloody hell!’ he hissed, and aimed with his gun.

The window was barred, and there was a head behind it. A pale head with an Aquila tattooed onto it in the fashion of one of the provincial PDF-companies. The two people looked at each other for a second.

The man behind the bars wiped his mouth and pointes at Fergath’s uniform.

‘Imperial?’ he asked.

‘Yeah,’ he answered. ‘Kortosian III. PDF.’

‘Gvennick Regiment. Tertiary Reserve,’ the other said.

‘Okey,’ Fregath said, then he nodded. ‘Hi.’

‘Hi,’ Bobyaki said. He waited, then leaned forward. ‘Would you bloody mind getting me out of here, Kortosian?’

‘Yeah, that,’ Fergath said. He did not lower his gun, even though it was not loaded. The other did not need to see this. ‘How do I know you are not one of them?’

‘Well, duh,’ Bobyaki pointed at his forehead.

‘Still not convinced.’

‘For the love of the Emperor!’ Bobyaki snapped. ‘You saw the Space Marines, didn’t you? Do you think they would have let me live if they even suspected I was a cultist?’

‘Oh.’ Fergath hesitated, then put away the gun. The man’s logic was flawless.





The Fatemakers were on their way to decimate the Mechanicus defenders. Chaplain Üscüge could hear the sounds of fighting only remotely as his men spread along the corridors of the compound, brutally killing anyone they encountered. The compound was big: it would take a long time to completely cleanse it, but they were making good progress.


Üscüge knew they would not finish the job. Their mission objective did not contain anything about the decimation of the compound’s defenders, although it was important that they weaken them enough not to interfere with their activities. The only thing the Astartes needed was to get into this room.

The Mechanicus Magi would not have received their guests in a place without proper access to their databank. They had obligingly shut down most of the monitoring systems here, and this, coupled with the fact that they were being systematically murdered, ensured that they would not pay much attention to an attempt to break into their data.

The teleport homing device built into the crozius of the Chaplain guided not only the terminator squad into the room, but also two of the strike force’s Techmarines. They were busy working on the central console under the protection of three tactical Marines.

Üscüge watched them with impassive eyes.

‘How much more time?’ he asked.

‘Less than a minute,’ one of them answered. The other was wired into the console and was too occupied even to realize the question.

Üscüge waited on. Exactly forty-seven heartbeats later, the other Techmarine shuddered, and pulled the wires which connected his nape to the machine.

‘Done,’ he said, and tapped his forehead. ‘Exact time and space coordinates within the desired parameters.’

‘Then we are done here,’ Üscüge said, and activated his vox. ‘Mission accomplished. All units be ready for extraction.’

He nodded to his three Marines, who kneeled down and strapped explosives to the side of the various consoles. This was overkill, but nobody had objected at the strategic meeting. The Fatemakers liked to make sure.





It seemed that freeing Bobyaki was a good idea after all. He held Fergath by his arm as he was limping through the courtyard.

The followed the trail of destruction to the back of the court, where the inner wall started. The wall was blown up, the defenders killed; nothing prevented them from going through.

They still stopped at the breach.

There was a killzone between the wall and the compound’s gate, but it was not empty. Vehicles parked outside: the same grey-coloured tanks which Fergath had seen carried by the big lander perhaps half an hour earlier. People were standing around the tanks. Huge, armoured giants hefting bolters and various other weapons. Their helmets, their shoulderpads were extremely familiar to Fergath, who gasped in shock as he realized his saviours really were whom he thought.

‘Space Marines,’ he whispered.

‘Yeah,’ Bobyaki answered sourly. His experience with these warriors was not endearing.

‘By the throne, we are saved,’ Fergoth said in awe, and made a tentative step towards the Astartes.

‘No!’ Babyaki hissed, and reached after him.

It all happened so far. Babyaki had only enough time to grab his new mate and pulled hard on his uniform. Fergath lost his balance and staggered back. At the same time, one of the Space Marines at the gate let out an almost casual shot at the duo.

It was an impossible shot, well outside the nominal range of the bolter he was carrying. He would have still killed Fergath if he had been still. The shot tore out a chunk of the remaining metal wall with a loud explosion.

‘Bloody hell!’ Babyaki exclaimed, and dragged the other into the court. Fergath cried out in protest.

‘What the f…’

‘Run, idiot!’ Babyaki bellowed. The two of them ran – more like staggered, to be honest – behind one of the burned out buildings. They crouched behind the remaining wall, panting heavily.

‘They shot at us!’ Fergath protested. His world had been shattered by whom he considered the angels of the Emperor.

‘Yeah, they did,’ Babyaki murmured. He risked a look over the wall, but nobody came after them.

‘They wanted to kill us!’

‘Then we would be dead, believe me,’ the other snorted.

Fergath stared at the other.

‘They are on our side!’ He hesitated. ‘Aren’t they?’

‘Well, they killed all these guys,’ Babyaki answered. He sighed. ‘But they are definitely not our friends.’

There was a noise, and they looked up. The huge lander which carried the tanks down to the planet was returning.





‘Mission accomplished, Captain. We may proceed to Greengate.’

‘Come back, my Chaplain,’ came the soft answer.

‘The Emeperor protects. Üscüge out.’

‘The Emperor protects. Narmantu out.’

Captain Narmantu Yarru, Captain of Strike Force Seven of the Fatemaker Chapter stood up and went over to the other side of the room, where his personal shrine was set up. He kneeled down and prayed, slowly getting lost in the familiar lines of devotion.

Strike Force Seven could continue hits journey. This was a small step in the grand scheme of things, but any step towards the restoration of the Chapter and proper order in the Galaxy was a welcome event nowadays.

Narmantu had not had a good time recently. The Imperium was falling apart around him, in a way which he was not prepared to handle. This was a frustrating notion. He had always been proud of the way he maintained order I his part of the Malachias Sector. It was so simple: show no mercy, destroy all opposition, crush your enemies utterly. In order to do this, he had to cause destruction in the Imperial worlds, but this was acceptable, even preferable. He had never been lenient. He used and abused his allies, his own crew and Astartes warriors and himself, worlds burned in his wake, but when he left a warzone, the remaining population was silent and compliant, and nothing else mattered. His world had been harsh but fair and functional, up to the last year anyway.

He frowned, even in prayer. What a ridiculous idea. The Emperor dead? Dead? A living god can be killed? He had burned two worlds for the mere assumption before he had finally decided to go home and join his Chapter. He had no love for Chapter-Master Fiffito – he found him too passive, almost weak to be fit for this position – but he had been running out of options quickly.

The greatest disappointment had been waiting for him in what he had believed to be a safe haven. The reserve fleet had left the system without any warning. If he had not tried his luck with Vault Double-Oh-Three… if they had not found the message from Strike Force Four…

His lisps whispered the last few lines of the prayer, even though his mind was preoccupied with his fellow Captain. Andros Malistrum. He was another problematic brother in his eyes. He had always struck him as a man whose pragmatism bordered on heresy. He had subhuman auxiliary crew whom he apparently treated as equals, he preferred quick surgical strikes instead of the kind of grinding, all-consuming campaigns Narmantu preferred, and he only had one Chaplain, who himself had been exposed to outside interference. The Inquisition had always blurred what Narmantu thought was the true vision of the Emperor, conveyed by His holy Church and enforced by His holy warriors.

Strike Force Seven had six Chaplains, all of them true Chapter members and clergymen, whose loyalty to the Fatemakers had never been in doubt. The same loyalty and proper fear of the Emperor and his Astartes Angels was invoked in all crewmen of the strike force’s ship, the Wrath of God as well. Everyone, from the lowliest ratings to the specialist battle-brothers, even Narmantu himself, bore the scars of the confessors’ lash on their backs, and bore they did, proudly, remembering of their many sins and the absolution the Emperor represented.

Their loyal piety was paid a hundredfold with this mission. What Mechanicus adept would agree to attack his own peers outside Strike Force Seven? Out of true devotion or fear, the Magos agreed to give them the information they needed to convince the Barbaton tech-priests to let them into their compound.

He did not see this as betrayal. The tech-priests had been unlikely to give access to their databank without questions, and although the destruction was regrettable, the Captain had been forced to make regrettable decisions lately. He needed the data to access Greengate, and the price for this information was worth the outcome. He made this sacrifice, just like he had sacrificed his own Librarians to come up with that name in the first place or correct Malistrum’s mistake to let Vault Double-Oh-Three intact when there was a clear sign of hostile and subversive activity in the sector.

Narmantu had never liked the idea of a data- and weapons cache which belonged to the Chapter be set up and left unguarded outside the Chapter’s immediate reach. The atomic warheads on the lowest level solved that problem, although this meant that any strike force which would arrive there in a later time would not find any further clue or help to reach their brother. Another regrettable decision, but Narmantu was proud that he had got the moral strength to make it.

He finished praying and stood up. His room opened onto the bridge, just like in al Fatemaker ship. He walked out, stood by his command throne, and addressed one of the crewmen.

‘Have they left the surface yet?’

‘They have, Sire,’ the human answered.

‘Are they outside the firing line?’

‘They are, sire.’

Narmantu nodded. He had a lot of things to do today, and tomorrow would be a new day with new tasks. He would have to reach Greengate. He would have to link up with the reserve fleet and account them for their neglect of duty. He may even find Malistrum and his lot on his way, and he would have to decide their fate. He would then have to start rebuilding, restoring order and punishing. This Galaxy would need a lot of punishing.

‘Fire lances,’ he ordered.





‘They are gone,’ Fergath murmured.

Bobyaki wiped his forehead. ‘Good,’ he said. He looked around the carnage of the cultist fortification, and sighed. ‘Now what?’

‘Dunno,’ the other sighed. ‘I am tired. And hungry. And my bloody leg hurts.’

‘We will need to find some shelter,’ Bobyaki agreed.

‘And food.’

None of them moved. There was a point where weariness blocks out all other stimuli.

‘At least we are safe now,’ Bobyaki said.

‘Yeah,’ Fergath agreed.

The lance beam struck the middle of the Mechanicus compound, atomizing everything in a kilometre-radius. The two soldiers died instantly without realizing they were killed. The Mechanicus outpost was destroyed, along with the last functional batch of high technology on the planet. The war on Barbaton would continue, grinding the population into nothing until the world would eventually fall back to the feral ages.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 44)

Postby MetalKing1417 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:46 am

Intersting contrast between the two strrike forces- this the seventh provides a nice foil to the fourth with its ruthlessness in comparison to their honorable, yet pragmatic counterparts.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 44)

Postby JJvagnar » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:19 pm

Narmantu is one scary fanatic. i like the way this shows that the Fatemakers aren't all generic nice guys.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 44)

Postby Midgard » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:41 pm

As always, very nicely done! As others said, the contrast between two Strike Forces is, for the lack of a better word, striking. I can definitely see the two coming head to head - Strike Force Seven seems to have got a massive case of Knight Templar Lawful Stupid, which spells trouble.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 44)

Postby librisrouge » Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:43 pm

JJvagnar wrote:Narmantu is one scary fanatic. i like the way this shows that the Fatemakers aren't all generic nice guys.

I rather liked this development. Space Marines are often treated as good guys in a dark place/time but they're not. Their bad guys with good causes and this new company seems to reflect this more steriotypical view compared to the Fatemakers we're used to at this point. Kinda refreshing in a way. They'll act as wonderful counter parts or nemeses to our band of heroes.

Also, great job not making it clear that these weren't the main characters. It made the betrayal all the more surprising.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 44)

Postby Meaneye » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:32 pm

I have been waiting long to get this far in the story :twisted:





Orbiting Tartino IV


578 days after the Emperor’s death


They had come here for help, but their mission ended up being a vigil.

The Opportunity was hovering above the planet in cold silence. The world above the Fatemakers was similarly devoid of any activity. The atmosphere was thick with dust and pollutants, and the surface showed the same picture on all continents. The nine hives were burned out – quite literally, in fact; the fires of the world’s death throes had long been extinguished, leaving only dark, formless structures behind. The instruments aboard the strike cruiser showed high level of radiation in the air, concentrated mainly around the former cities.

The world had received a nuclear attack. Eight atomic warheads had destroyed seven of the nine great hive cities below. The rest of the world fared no better. Lance strikes and orbital bombardment reduced much of the infrastructure useless, and although there must have been countless survivors, the planet itself had been rendered effectively useless. There would be decades, perhaps even centuries until the population could rebuild what was lost, and there was no guarantee that rebuilding would occur eventually.

The Fatemakers mourned, but they had no intention of interfering. Luckily for them, there was barely any communication on the planet, and even if the survivors had got the means to scan the orbit above them, they showed no sign that they had detected the Astartes vessel. It was good that way. The Fatemakers were still chasing their lost brothers, and now that they had caught the first decent trace since the beginning of the mission, they had no wish to give up the pursuit. They had already sacrificed enough.

Malistrum’s heart was heavy, and not just because of the devastation below. He himself had ordered similar attacks in the past, with good reason – or at least he had thought he had had a good reason back then. What had been the brutal necessity of the species survival then was simply a symbol of Mankind eventual extinction in this new age. Worlds were dieing fast, and for the first time in millennia, the number of the human race was actually declining. The Imperium was vast, and it would die slow, but this thought did not bring any comfort when the end result would inevitably be the same.

It would have been good to see some spark of hope in the darkness. He had thought finding the trace of the Chapter’s reserve fleet would restore faith in his people, but now this sight came and reminded everyone aboard just what their new place in the Galaxy was.

Not to mention the fact that the hope they had just found was starting to fade.

Greengate. This one word meant the world to Strike Force Four now. There were hundreds of references for this word, but only one found in the Malachias Sector with the right location and significance. It was a unique wormhole in the Galactic south-west with a special feature which must have been the main reason why the reserve fleet had chosen it as their next destination. Wormholes were not that uncommon, but they were either unstable or dangerous, and this one was neither. Two points in space linked by a stable Warp-current which allowed not just fast, but unimaginably fast travel between the two locations. Stable wormholes were incredibly valuable strategic assets for the Imperium, and in most cases, they were guarded by veritable fortress-worlds. They were also well-known, which Greengate was not.

Nor was it well-defended or even guarded. The first reason why nobody cared about it was that both entry points were extremely specific. Any ship wishing to travel through it had to approach the entry point at the right angle and speed, aiming at the right point in open space, with a tolerance limit of a few millimetres. Miss any factor, the gate will not open and the ship has to re-position herself over and over again, even up to the point of total failure.

To make matters worse, the required parameters changed in a specific sequence. How the wormhole was found in the first place was a mystery in itself, but the problem was more pragmatic: there were no general recordings of the required parameters and time sequence. Normally, it would have been classified, but eventually available information, but the second factor entered here: the two ends of the wormhole opened into useless space. Both entry points were in solar systems, but neither of the neighbouring areas was heavily populated. The Malachias end of the wormhole fared a little better: it had inhabited systems and even a forge-world around it, but the other end in the far Nidhoya Sector was so empty that it did not even deserve the ‘backwater’ designation. Why would anyone explore the wormhole when there was no point in using it?

Naturally, the Adeptus Mechanicus had no doubt found out everything there was to know about the wormhole, even though the Imperium was not interested in the data. This meant that the standard Mechanicus databanks around this particular area contained everything the Fatemakers wanted to know about this Warp-phenomenon. The problem was getting that information. This planet, according to the databank of the Opportunity, had not only got sizeable hive cities but also an orbital maintenance complex, complete with docks, supplies and a Mechanicus outpost.

As far as Malistrum could say, the whole complex had been set on a course which threw it directly on top of the ninth hive-city.

The Captain looked around on the bridge. The crew was adequately disciplined, but they were in a sombre mood, and it showed. Two years earlier, Malistrum would not have been able to tell the difference, but things had changed since then, and he had changed with them. He could almost feel the sorrow and desperation emanating from the mortals around him.

He could feel almost the same from his Chaplain. Uskovich was standing next to him, watching the scene with unblinking eyes. The mortals could not see, but he was tense and nervous. Malistrum had his Astartes conditioning to block out these emotions, but the Chaplain no longer possessed the mental barriers built into his psyche during his indoctrination. This made him a better and a worse leader at the same time.

Malistrum turned towards him.

‘Call in a general meeting,’ he said. ‘Summon the mortals too. We are running out of options again.’





‘I can only see two possible options at this point,’ Magos Brakk said in his usual metallic voice.

The others watched silently. Two options were better than what they had been forced to deal with those days.

‘We can head for Omicria,’ the Magos continued. The Adeptus Mechanicus would undoubtedly have the data we require, and I doubt a forge world would fall to anything short of a sub-sector’s worth of fleet.

‘There was no such force here,’ Techmarine Guztav said quietly. ‘At most we would be dealing with a few vessels, perhaps even one strong warship.’

‘This is a moot point,’ Malistrum interjected. ‘We will not try to find the culprits. Our objective is still to obtain the Greengate coordinates.’

There was no reaction, and the Captain winced inwardly. This was exactly what he was afraid of. These people were Astartes, and their primary mission was to protect the domains of the Imperium. He did not need to remind them of their priorities here, and of course they could not stop here and investigate. Nobody would ask to do so either. Finding the reserve fleet was the single most important thing for Strike Force Four at the moment. Everything else was irrelevant, and nobody had questioned this fact: not the mortals, not the Astartes. Still, this situation was a remainder of just how limited their scope had become lately. At one point, their resolve would fail them. They would slow down, and they would stop. They would fail and slowly start to die out.

Malistrum had no intention of letting this happen. He had not let his people lose their moral principles earlier, and he would not let them lose sight of their objective now. Not while he was their leader.

Essen was the first to speak.

‘If we want to stay out of this, Omicria would be a bad idea to go. We have nothing to do with the tech-priestesses there, and we may be able to get the data from them, but whatever happened here may be affecting them too. They would ask for our assistance, and I’m not sure that we want to get caught up by this… massacre.’

The Scout-Sergeant did not even try to wipe the resignation off his face when saying these words. He was getting weary of all the hiding, all the compromises, just like all the others, but Malistrum was still content. He was thinking along the lines the Captain set up for the strike force, and the others in the room accepted this too. For the moment, he still had his people’s trust and loyalty.

‘The other option is statistically less dangerous, but it also has less potential,’ the Magos said. ‘The Valinko system was earmarked for heavy mining operations during the last great tithe revision. This means that the system has probably been fitted with a dock and standard maintenance facilities. Given the system’s proximity to both Omicria and the approximate location of Greengate, it stands to reason to assume they have the information we need.’

The officers leaned back in their chair.

‘What are the risks?’ Hemethor asked.

‘I see no immediate danger,’ Brakk answered. ‘The facilities cannot have been reinforced to the point that it represents a threat to us.’

‘So why the hesitation?’

‘This is the first time we meet any outsiders after Faramuntibus.’

Everybody looked at the speaker. It was a rare occasion to hear his voice nowadays.

‘What do you mean, Andorias?’

Andorias was not looking at the others. ‘The last time we met outsiders with a military crisis, we were forced to assist them, and we suffered losses. Now we have another group of humans who will probably need our help. Who knows what they will ask for the data in return?’

Malistrum tapped the table with his finger. ‘This is exactly my point. Good insight, Sergeant.’ Andorias looked up, although for some reason, he was looking at Essen, not the Captain.

Malistrum ignored this. ‘We need that data, and we would pay for it. We would even pay the price we paid at Faramuntibus. However,’ he raised a finger, ‘this does not mean that we will pay the price if we can avoid it. If the facility sees us as the Astartes warriors we are, they will try to involve us in some way. We cannot appear to be independent in their eyes.’

The Captain stood up and faced Dmitrija.

‘You have the right to be here in this meeting, Mediator, but you will have a greater part in this mission than usually. We Astartes will not interact with the facility on our own; in fact, I don’t even intend to let them know I exist. You will act as the de facto leader of the strike force.’

Dmitrija swallowed hard.

‘What do you mean, my lord?’

‘You will pretend to be the military leader of an Astartes task force,’ Malistrum explained. ‘This will make you an Inquisitor or someone with an equivalent rank, which you will never even suggest you are. You just act with confidence and claim you follow the orders of a higher authority. Nobody will question a mortal who is able to order Space Marines around, and this will tie our hand in their eyes. They won’t be able to negotiate with us because we will not be in a negotiable position.’

Dmitrija opened his mouth and then closed again.

‘I am quite young to give this impression,’ he finally managed to say.

Malistrum smiled faintly.

‘A squad of Astartes warriors behind your back will make you venerable, Mediator.’

Dmitrija had no further questions. He understood when he heard an order.





Valinko system

582 days after the Emperor’s death


The Opportunity broke into realspace on the outer edges of the system.

There was a four hours’ travel to the mining facility. The atmosphere was casually optimistic, though: the sensors showed no sign of heavy energy release in front of them, which meant there had been no battle in the segment of space which Strike Force Four used for its approach vector.

‘So far so good,’ Malistrum murmured. He and Dmitrija were standing on the bridge, ready to address the Valinko mining facility. The Mediator looked pale and nervous.

‘You have done this dozens of times,’ Malistrum reminded him.

‘I know, my lord.’

‘Some of those times were dangerous. How many times have they threatened you with murder while you were representing us?’

‘Four times, I believe.’ Dmitrija looked out of the viewport.

‘You never even flinched then.’

‘The stakes were not so high.’ The human was so nervous that he forgot to address Malistrum by his proper rank, but the Captain paid no heed.

‘You have my backing, Mediator. Also,’ he added, ‘you have my trust.’

Dmitrija looked at the Captain, who nodded reassuringly. Dmitrija slowly nodded back, and his breathing slowed down to normal.

There was no further talk on the bridge until the ship reached optimal radio distance. The facility was not space-born: it was built onto the surface of a dead planet’s moon. This setting was not ideal for ship refit and overhaul, but it was primarily a land-based operation, and they expected the miners to have enough shuttles for transportation and repair duties.

Malistrum nodded again to Dmitrija, who leaned forward towards the vox console.

‘This is Mediator Dmitrija aboard the Fatemaker Astartes vessel Opportunity calling Valinko mining facility. We are approaching with peaceful intent and are requesting permission to anchor above you.’

There was no point in using a fake name or rank: the originals would do for this operation. There was a minute of silence before the answer came through the vox. The Opportunity was still far away from the facility, and vox-wave only travelled so fast.

Still, the answer should have arrived by now.

The vox crackled.

‘…makers? Don’t…. We will…’

Malistrum looked at the vox operator, who shook his head.

‘There is some interference, my lord. Or perhaps their vox system is damaged.’

‘I don’t like it,’ Malistrum shook his head. ‘Activate all weapon systems on my mark.’

‘Yes, my lord.’

The Opportunity got closer. The moon was visible through the viewport now, although the facility itself was still just a metallic spot on the surface. The barren planet loomed menacingly behind the moon.

‘Valinko mining facility, this is the Opportunity,’ Dmitrija started again. We are approaching orbit above the facility. Requesting permission to…’

‘Stay where you are, Opportunity!’ The voice came much stronger and clearer this time. ‘We have activated all weapon systems and will defend ourselves to the end!’

Dmitrija looked at the Captain with a surprised expression. He was not the only one on the bridge.

Malistrum rubbed his chin. ‘Ask him to explain,’ he whispered, and Dmitrija obeyed.

‘Valinko mining facility, we don’t understand your hostile intent. Please explain.’

‘There is nothing left for you to pick up here!’ The voice was hard and desperate, with a tone of fear that Malistrum did not understand. ‘Your friends have already taken everything they could, they destroyed half the facility, what else do you want?’

Dmitrija hesitated.

‘This makes no sense, Valinko. We are the Astartes vessel Opportunity from the Fatemaker Space Marine Chapter. We don’t understand what you are talking about.’

‘What do you think I am talking about?’ the voice hissed. ‘Your fleet passed here barely twenty days ago! Look at the destruction they caused! Do you really believe we have anything else left to rob?’

Malistrum’s hand fell next to his side.

Nobody knew how long the silence lasted. There had been a few occasions in the last two years when the crew received so shocking news that they were unable to react to it. This was one such occasion, but the shock was stronger than ever before.

Not even the Emperor’s death, not even their encounter with the future Opportunity prepared Malistrum for this. He stood, dumbstruck, unable to act or think.

‘Captain?’ one of the serfs addressed him. ‘My lord? What should we do?’

The Captain did not know for the first time in his life as an Astartes, he did not know what to do.

He slowly shook his head. Dmitrija’s face was as pale as the Captain’s, but the sight of his helpless leader sparked something in him. He leaned back to the console.

‘Valinko facility, this is the Opportunity. I am acting in the name of the Holy inquisition of Mankind. The fleet you were talking about is a rogue element of the Astartes Chapter.’

Malistrum raised his head sharply.

‘We are in pursuit of this fleet at this very moment,’ Dmitrija continued. He paled even more when his gaze met the Captain’s, but he went on nevertheless. ‘We have no intention of harming you. To show our good intent, the ship will deactivate all weapon systems immediately.’

He cast a pleading look at the captain. Malistrum managed to collect himself by then. His mind was racing, but he saw what the Mediator was trying to do. He waved approvingly to the weapons control serfs, who immediately turned back to work on their own consoles.

The Opportunity turned down all weapon systems.

‘Scan the surface,’ Malistrum ordered.

The result was devastating. The voice on the other side of the vox did not exaggerate; at least half of the facility had been bombarded into ruin. The pict-recordings were telling: a lot of weapons, human or xenos, were capable of destroying surface structures in the way the facility looked like, but there was one particular weapon which typically left such marks, and that was the magma warhead of an Astartes bombardment cannon.

Malistrum stood immobile.

Twenty days ago…

He snapped out of this stupor. Dmitrija had been communicating on the vox with a person with the title ‘overseer,’ trying to convince them of their peaceful intent. The voice was sceptical, and rightfully so. They would need time to convince him; however, time had just become a crucial factor for Strike Force Four.

Twenty days ago…

He stepped behind Dmitrija, and gently placed his palm on his back.

‘I need you to tell them the following…’ he instructed.





‘Valinko facility, we are sending a shuttle with a squad of Astartes and the Inquisitorial representatives over. Our weapon systems will remain deactivated, repeat, we will not arm our weapons. All we ask in return is that you do not start shooting either at the ship or our envoys. We have no intention to fight you, but it is essential that we talk and right what has happened here.’





‘Don’t forget, you cannot shoot. Not even if they start shooting at us first. Nobody, I repeat, nobody will shoot unless I give you a specific order to do so. Is that understood?’

There was a series of assents on the voxline. Uskovich nodded, and looked back at Mediator Dmitrija.

‘You will start the conversation. You will talk to them for a minute or so, to establish that we are under mortal control, and not on our own. They cannot think that we are an independent force.’

‘It would only scare them,’ Dmitrija nodded. The shuttle shook under them, but the tremors got weaker as the small craft slowed down to land on the surface.

‘Then you will ask me to start the interrogation. I am a Chapter member, and so I can be a valid inspector once we made sure that we are loyalists.’

Uskovich was wearing his skull-faced helmet, and he had no intention of removing it. He had to be the stern face of Imperial justice today, and he gladly let Dmitrija to wear the face of a trustable character.

‘Be very careful,’ Malistrum’s voice came through the voxline. ‘We have to win these people over to our side. It won’t be easy. If the reserve fleet really…’ Malistrum did not finish the sentence.

‘We need to find out what happened here,’ he finally said.

‘We will, my lord,’ Uskovich promised.

The shuttle shook one last time. The Fatemaker squad landed in the facility.





The shuttle bay was a huge hangar of several storeys high. There were other vessels nearby, but the hangar itself was empty.

‘Nobody shoots,’ Uskovich repeated over the vox. If there was even a slight chance that this was not a trap, they had to try it, even though their very nature refused to think that way.

There was only one exit from the hangar: a two-winged door high up in the wall with a balcony and a set of stairs leading up to it. The squad went towards it.

Halfway to the stairs Dmitrija stopped. Uskovich silently agreed. The Valinko people knew they were here. As ‘Inquisitors,’ the squad rightly expected the locals to come down to them.

The doors slid open. There was darkness behind it, and no movement, but there were sounds. People were coming towards them with strong steps. Quite a few people, judging by the sound. Quite a few people, probably dressed in what sounded like…

Power armour.

The steps got closer. Giant shades appeared in the doorway. Dmitrija gasped.

‘Space Marines, he whispered.





Malistrum maintained direct vox contact with the squad. He grabbed the vox controller immediately.

‘Repeat it, Mediator. Space Marines?’

His heart was throbbing in his chest almost as fast as in battle. Space Marines in the faci…

He leaned onto the vox. The crew was watching him in tense silence.

‘Fatemakers? Are there Fatemakers in the facility?’

‘No,’ came an answer, this time from Uskovich. ‘These are not Fatemakers.’

This made no sense. There were no other Space Marines in the entire sector. Except, of course…

‘Howling Griffons? Chaplain, are there Howling Griffons in the facility?’

‘No, my lord.’ Malistrum had never heard his Chaplain speak like this. ‘These are not Howling Griffons either.’

What was he talking about?

‘Who are those Astartes? Chaplain? Mediator? Who are they?’





Uskovich did not answer his Captain’s question. He could not utter a word.

The Astartes formed a perfect line on the balcony above them. They were acting in neither a hostile nor a friendly manner. They were standing, weapons in attention, their faceplates turned towards the Fatemaker under them.

Their sergeant stepped forward.

‘Fatemakers,’ he addressed them. No emotion could be heard in his slightly mechanic voice.

Uskovich did not answer immediately. He took in all the details in the familiar form of the other: the lacquered brown of the power armour, the white shoulder-guards and the stylized symbol on the shoulder-guards themselves: two black overlapping triangles, two black mountains referring to the home planet of the Chapter.

‘Twilight Monk,’ he finally said.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 45)

Postby Midgard » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:54 pm

Aargh, a cliffhanger, and a great one! I wonder what the Twilight Monks have planned...
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 45)

Postby Meaneye » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:51 pm

Darnations, more than a month later! But at least I have time for some proper writing. The update following this one will actually come quite soon, perhaps even this week.




Malistrum stood frozen.

He had a now familiar feeling. It was that feeling in his body, sending ice-cold numbness through his spine right into his brain. It was the same feeling he had when he first realized that the Emperor was dead; the same shock he had felt when he had learnt of Pelidor’s suicide and earlier murder; the same nauseating twist in his gut he felt when he was standing in the containment room with the Akichi from the future. It was the feeling of utter wrongness, the notion of events sliding uncontrollably away from his grasp. The feeling of the world turning around him, threatening to sweep away the entire strike force while he was standing helplessly.

Not this time. Not this no-more-god-forsaken time.

‘Combat alert,’ he said quietly. The crew snapped out of the shock they must have felt on hearing Uskovich’s exclamation, and turned to their consoles. ‘Arm all weapon systems,’ the Captain continued. ‘Charge up all energy weapons, power the shields up to maximum. Send all Astartes squads out into the ship and prepare for extreme boarding countermeasures. Launch all fighter wings and ignite all engines.’

The crew rushed to obey. The Opportunity growled as virtually all combat systems aboard came alive. There was a faint, yet recognisable humming vibration in all walls, all deck floors, as if the vessel herself had been feeling that this time she would come up against an enemy deserving all her attention.

‘Shields at maximum, my lord,’ the first serf announced.

‘Cannons loaded and ready to fire.’

‘Lances activated and ready to fire.’

‘Secondary energy systems activated.’

‘Fighter wings launched.’

‘Anti-boarding measures initiated. Human and abhuman auxiliary forces are on their way.’

The Captain made no reaction. His gaze swept through the various displays and instruments: he could see from his chair that his ship readied herself well for any incoming attack. Whatever the enemy had in store for them, they would not be unprepared.

Still, he was not calm. His attention was fixed on the ship and her surroundings, but there was a tiny voice deep in him which only repeated the same thing over and over.

This is a trap, and you let Uskovich walk into it. This is a trap and you let Dmitrija walk into it.

‘Uskovich,’ he spoke into the vox-unit. He could not care less about protocol or ranks right now. ‘Are you still there? What is the situation? Answer me!’

The vox-speaker crackled. The answer was clear, although the Chaplain was speaking in a soft voice; yet, what he said made Malistrum no sense at all.

‘They are not attacking, my lord.’





They were indeed not attacking.

The squad of Twilight Monks was standing at the railings one floor above the Fatemakers. All of them had their bolter ready in their hand, aimed at one of Uskovich’s squad. The Fatemakers did likewise. Every Astartes in the squad was aiming at one of the Twilight Monks above. The two squads drew on each other immediately after Uskovich had named the new Space Marine force, but nothing else happened. The two groups were just standing immobile, aiming at the other but refusing to open fire. The only movement and sound in the hangar was Mediator Dmitrija gasping for air as he was trying to remain calm in the face of immediate death.

Uskovich knew why his squad did not open fire. It was because of him. Before disembarking, he had left the squad with very specific orders: nobody was to shoot unless they had been attacked first or the Chaplin himself gave a new order. Uskovich had not given any order to fire, and so his squad acted by his last order: they prepared for battle, but that was all.

The Chaplain knew that the only reason why his battle-brothers obeyed him and refrained from firing was the fact that their conditioning was still intact. His was not: his mind had been broken open months earlier to avoid a complete mental shutdown and a possible stroke. He had recovered from that ordeal, but since then, his mind had been more akin to that of an extremely disciplined and experienced mortal instead of the unshakable brain-locked Astartes that he used to be. His new self would have probably opened fire anyway, but he had no sidearm; so he did not open fire either, just like the other Fatemakers. His only question was why the Twilight Monks did not fire at them.

The tension was unbearable. The Chaplain had never been in a similar situation with his battle-brothers before. Astartes preferred to act, not to wait. He had been part of an Inquisitorial entourage before, however, and that group had been in a similar stand-off with a couple of cultists once. That firefight had been the shortest and most brutal few seconds of the Chaplain’s life. Very few of his group had made it out of it alive then, and Uskovich expected the same to happen now. Power armour against pre-aimed weapons, Astartes reflexes against bolt rounds: this was a recipe for disaster, and the Chaplain suddenly felt he was standing very close to death.

He would have offered himself to the Emperor in the past. Now he had not even that much comfort.





‘Transmit the signals from the Chaplain’s external sensors to the main display and the vox-speakers,’ Malistrum ordered.

The crew obeyed. There was usually no reason for anyone to directly tap the helmet sensors of an Astartes, but this was one of those special cases now. Malistrum would have to make serious decisions in perhaps a heartbeat’s time, and he needed every scrap of information to decide right.

The main screen came alive. The Captain could almost snarled when he saw the image of the Twilight Monks in their never before seen, yet so familiar power armour. His expert eyes could read the tactical situation in the hangar even from the distance, and what he saw was exactly the same as what came to Uskovich’s mind. The squad was in a deadlock, with both sides looking forward to horrible losses, possibly complete annihilation.

This was the one thing holding him back. In any other situation or perhaps two years earlier, he would have given the order to shoot. The death of ten Space Marines, even that of Uskovich would have been worth it. Chapter member or not, Dmitrija would not even have entered the cold equation here. There were Twilight Monks standing there…

Twilight Monks!

The two words came up in his mind abruptly, and he felt being choked on bile and misery. What was happening? What was happening again? Twilight Monks? Here? Now? Two weeks after the reserve fleet passing here? There was no such coincidence. Fate itself was conspiring against him, and Emperor help him…

He stopped at this last unfinished thought. He snarled, visibly this time, and he raised his hand. The crew watched intently for his signal.

Are you about to close the circle?

His hand fell down next to his side. He stood up straight, and shook his head.

Are you about to close the circle NOW?

Malistrum groaned audibly.

‘Come out of here, Uskovich.’ He pressed the words through his lips with no small effort. ‘Move back to the vessel and come back aboard. Shoot back if they attack, but start moving out of there anyway. The Opportunity will fly above the facility and provide cover. Come back now…’

‘Movement,’ Uskovich interrupted him.

Malistrum heard it a moment later too. The Chaplain’s helmet relayed the sound of heavy footsteps, this time probably coming from a single power armour. The squad tensed. These people had no talent for theatrics, but all of them felt instinctively that the person entering now would be more important than the whole Twilight Monk squad deployed in front of them.





‘The Captain is monitoring our sensors,’ Uskovich told the rest of the squad. ‘When he or I give the signal, be ready to act. One click means withdrawal without shooting. Two clicks means fighting withdrawal. Bosporja will cover the Mediator. The rest…’

The new figure stepped out of the corridor into the light.

‘Throne,’ Uskovich whispered.

‘Throne,’ Dmitrija gasped behind the squad.





‘Throne,’ Malistrum aid in a soft voice.

The man entering the hangar was wearing polished black power armour. It seemed to swallow light: it was menacing even in its familiarity to the Fatemaker Captain. The only colour was the white of the shoulder-guard with the twin mountain symbol etched into it. A skull-faced helmet was looking at the Fatemaker squad in the hangar, consequently, right at Malistrum who was watching him through the eye-lenses of Uskovich. A chained book was tied to the side of the newcomer’s armour on the right, while a crozius, a power-mace was hanging from the belt on the other side.

The newcomer was an Imperial Space Marine Chaplain.

Malistrum closed his eyes.

‘Chaplain,’ he addressed Uskovich. ‘Is he genuine?’





Uskovich was as shocked as his Captain at the sight of the Twilight Monk, but now that he had received an order, he snapped out of his bewilderment. His professional eyes swept over the Twilight Monk’s garment as he went to the railing and put his hands with deliberate slowness on the bar. His superhuman eyes and the instruments of his armour served him well enough to get the answer he needed – and feared.

‘My lord?’ Uskovich voxed. ‘I believe… I believe he is real. His armour and his crozius bear Imperial symbols. There are four devotional texts visible on the different armour pieces, and his weapon bears the symbols of the Imperial Church. My own crozius retained some of its power even after the death of our Emperor. They are still holy objects. It would burn him if he had been tainted in any way. At the very least, I would sense the taint on him. I feel nothing. He is still…’

His voice trailed off.

The other Chaplain did not move for a few seconds: he looked at the Space Marines, even at Dmitrija, one by one, then his gaze returned to Uskovich.

‘You have decided not to shoot,’ he said. His voice was mechanic and not much human, just as it was expected from someone wearing power helmet. ‘I am glad. We have no intention of shooting you either, but now that you are here, we will be forced to talk to each other.’

He straightened up from the railings.

‘We are the Twilight Monks,’ he said. His voice had the power of catching other people’s attention, even relayed through a vox-speaker. ‘I know who you are. You are the successor Chapter of our erstwhile brothers, the Silver Halberds and the Blue Avengers. Those two Chapters were almost wiped out in the battle of Borshak. Your ancestors fought that battle with my ancestors. We are the ones who almost caused the death of you all. We are aware of it, just we are aware of how much justified hate you feel towards us.’

‘And yet we need to speak now,’ the Chaplain continued. ‘You have a fellow Chaplain in your ranks, and he can vouch for me – at least for what I am. Even though we turned against the Imperium, even though we are Excommunicate Traitoris, even though I have just admitted that we openly waged war upon you, we are still the servants of the Emperor. We did not come here for you. We came here because this mining facility sent out an emergency signal, claiming they have been attacked by Chaos Space Marines. We came here, and we found that the Space Marines were Fatemakers – what is more, we found you coming here two weeks after the attack of your brothers.’

Someone behind Uskovich hissed menacingly.

‘Yet you did not attack,’ the Twilight Monk said, not having access to the Fatemakers vox-frequency to hear the sound of hate. ‘You have shown considerable restraint towards these people and now towards us. If you want to fight us after all these years, by the Emperor, we will fight. Otherwise we are simply two forces passing by as Fate propels us forward towards our final destiny. I have to decide who or what you are, for us, for this facility and for Mankind.’

He pointed at Uskovich.

‘I must have answers. I must have answers so much that I am willing to trade you for it. Ask me first – you will have questions for me, I am sure of it – and I will provide you with answers in return for answers to my own questions. I wish to speak with whoever commander you have aboard your ship. You, Chaplain, are not him, I know. No commander is allowed to enter into a potential warzone without reconnaissance. Put me through to your leader, and let him decide what to make of our offer.’





Malistrum stood silent and motionless. The crew was watching him, just as they always had during a crisis situation. He felt alone and vulnerable, and not for the first time since the Extinction. Once more, he was forced to make a decision which could potentially destroy his strike force.

‘Leave them there, Chaplain,’ he finally said. ‘I will not let you stay there with them. My order stands. Come out.’

We need answers, he thought, but not on their terms. Not from them. We will speak with the miners. We will not give them anything.

‘My lord?’ a new voice cut in on his thoughts.

Malistrum raised his head. It took a second to realize just who was talking to him.

‘Mediator?’

Of course, he thought. The human Mediator received an earpiece for this mission. He heard Malistrum’s order just like the rest of the squad. Although this did not explain why he interrupted him.

‘Forgive me to speak,’ Dmitrija said, ‘but I think we should stay.’

Even in his agitated state, Malistrum raised an eyebrow. Dmirija had taken his own initiative instead of his Captain for the second time that day.

‘Mediator, these are Twilight Monks,’ he said into the vox. ‘You know our history. The Twilight Monks are our Archenemy, and we do not talk with the Archenemy.’

‘This... this is no longer true, my lord,’ Dmitrija said hesitantly.

Uskovich looked back at the Mediator. The rest of the squad did not; after all, they were all busy aiming at the head of their Twilight Monk counterparts. The tension was still palpable in the air, and this time, it all concentrated on the human. He flinched, but, surprisingly, not balked.

‘That is your past, my lord. You... you have a different mission now. You have to find your brothers, and you have to start rebuilding the world. You cannot afford to start a new war now. You are of purpose, and these Spa... these people are a key to your purpose. You must talk to them.’

Uskovich turned towards the Mediator as much as he could without losing sight of the other Chaplain in his peripheral. 'You are standing in the middle of a possible skirmish,' he said. 'We have been almost wiped out by them in the past. Would you take responsibility if they attack and kill us for good this time? Are you willing to risk your lire? Your father's life?'

Dmitrija's face was tense but determined. 'Even so, you will overcome them. I am not afraid.'

'What makes you so sure?' Malistrum's voice crackled through the vox-link.

'Because. You. Protect,' Dmitrija hissed back. 'You stand between us and the darkness. Your purpose is ours, your path is ours. Keep walking on the path, and we will follow you. To hell, to war, to ruin.' There was an uncharacteristically hard edge in his voice now.' But you have to walk the path because that's all you have, and you are all we have, and if you fail, you will fall, and I don't want to lose you!'





Malistrum closed his eye for a second.

Dmitrija's revelation did not really disturb him. The Mediator's logic could be refuted easily enough, and by admitting his devotion to the Chapter, a simple order would have been enough to silence him. What disturbed him greatly was the zeal in Dmitrija's voice.

The Chapter had usually treated the human contingent fairly; and they did not expect any form of special devotion from them in return. That notion had been refuted in the most disappointing way when it had turned out that the Chapter serfs had in fact been worshipping their Space Marine masters as demi-gods. This devotion had prevented the humans aboard the Opportunity from falling prey to the Withdrawal, the ennui-inducing effect of the demise of Mankind’s veritable god. The same devotion had served the Astartes well enough when it had come to finding a solution, however temporary, to protecting people’s souls at the moment of their death. Malistrum thought he had since then come to terms with the over-exaggerated hero-worship of his own mortals…

But not an emotional speech like this. These people… they…

He was their god. He had always been. Not the Emperor, sweet Emperor, not even the Chapter itself! It was just him, Malistrum, a simple Astartes, essentially just another mortal with somewhat greater physical attributes and lifespan. This kind of idolatry bound his hand – in fact, it bound his hand more than his commitments to the Imperium ever had.

He opened his eyes, and looked at the crew around him. The people were waiting for his answer. They were edgy, this was evident in their yes. What he did not see there was doubt of any kind.

He addressed one of them.

‘Serf Cviba.’ He hesitated for a second when he saw the joy on the man’s face that he actually remembered his name. How could he not remember after years of service on the bridge and his artificially boosted memory?

‘Do you believe that the Mediator is right?’ he asked. ‘Do you believe that the past is not relevant enough and that we should focus on the mission at hand?’

The crewman cast an uncertain look at his shipmates before turning back to the Captain.

‘My lord… I think that the Mediator… well, he wanted to say that…’

He sighed.

‘You have to find your people. You said it yourself that if we want to save something from the world, we need the whole Chapter. These renegades know something about the reserve fleet. The fleet passed here two weeks ago. So we have a chance now to find them. This is important. So…’

He made an uncertain gesture with his hand. Malistrum watched him for a second with impassive eyes.

‘These Space Marines are dangerous. They may be tainted, but they are definitely renegades. What if they just want to harm us again? I could make a mistake by talking to them. I am not infallible.’

‘Oh, we know that,’ Cviba said. There was a murmur of agreement from the other consoles.

Malistrum cocked his head forward. ‘I’m sorry?’

‘You made a mistake when you let that snake Commissar aboard,’ the serf explained. ‘But even then, you managed to win. That’s why you are the leader. You guide us, and we follow.’

The Captain pressed the air from his lungs with an audible hiss.

Unbelievable. These people discussed the things their Astartes masters did among themselves? They criticized him and yet they were still ready to follow him?

The thought was terrifying. He had seen what such devotion could do to the world. There was great danger in it. and yet…

A new thought entered his mind. A treacherous thought. For a long time now, he had been losing a great deal of his convictions and values as the Galaxy had become an even bleaker and more hostile place than originally. By now, his world had been shrunk to this ship, the people aboard it and the vague hope that by finding the reserve fleet, he may, might actually get something back from the world he had lost. If the mortals really share his vision, if their devotion is indeed this fierce, if they were truly this willing to die for the success of the mission, this meant that he did not have to be so protective of them in return.

Only two weeks ago…

The thought was given a coherent form. Malistrum looked at the main display.





There had been no movement in the hangar for a while. The Twilight Monk Chaplain had been standing at the railings for long minutes, waiting for the answer of the Fatemakers. The other Twilight Monks stood immobile, just like the other Fatemakers. This deadlock could only be broken by an answer from the Fatemaker leader, at which point the Astartes would make a move: talk, retreat or kill. For now, there was only the wait.

Chaplain Uskovich finally raised his head and addressed the other Chaplain.

‘My commanding officer has agreed to speak with you,’ he said. ‘I will act as a mediator, and my helmet’s vox-unit will be linked with the speakers aboard our vessel. Speak to me, and the Captain will hear you; if he has anything to say to you, he can say it through me.’

The Twiligt Monk lifted his hands from the railings. ‘Your terms are acceptable,’ he said. ‘I will come down to you and meet you half-way through. In the meantime, I suggest that both sides put the weapons away.’

‘Agreed,’ Uskovich nodded. The two squads mag-locked their bolters, essentially putting a full second of reaction time between the first sign of trouble and an all-out killing spree. The Twilight Monk went for the stairs, while Uskovich went forward, about half-way between the balcony and his own squad’s position. He watched as the Chaplain went down the stairs and approached him at a slow pace. He finally stopped, about two feet away from the Fatemaker.

The two Astartes looked at each other: the two identical skull-faced helmets might have been the mirror image of the other. There was a series of clicks coming from Uskovich’s helmet, which was then followed by a voice familiar for all Fatemakers.

‘I am Captain Andros Malistrum, Captain of Strike Force Four of the Fatemaker Chapter,’ the voice boomed from Uskovich’s outer vox-speakers.

The Chaplain made the slightest of nods. ‘I am Tarr Alchoi, Chaplain of the Twilight Monk Chapter. I believe you have a lot of questions for me.’
Meaneye
 
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 46)

Postby JJvagnar » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:07 am

Well worth the wait.
JJvagnar
 
Posts: 244
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:13 am


Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 46)

Postby Meaneye » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:52 pm

Phew! I have finished the second part too, and boy am I tired! :D But here it is. A new episode will start in the story next time, but I will not have another spring break to write for long hours, so it will only come a bit later.

Enjoy.




‘I do not wish to converse with you for any longer than I have to,’ Malistrum answered. ‘The only thing I want to know is what happened here with these miners, where our reserve fleet has gone and what you have to do with this whole mess.’

Chaplain Tarr cocked his head aside. ‘The miners have already told you what had happened here. Fatemaker ships – apparently, the reserve fleet of your Chapter – appeared here approximately two weeks ago. The leader of the fleet, Chapter-Master Fiffito, I believe, demanded all available data the miners had about the nearby Greengate wormhole, and he also requisitioned supplies for his fleet so he could continue his journey. He offered no explanation. The miners relayed the data about Greengate to him, but they had limited resources, and they would have struggled to comply with his requisition list.’

He shrugged. ‘They told him so. He ordered them again to comply. They asked for some higher authorization. An Inquisitorial permit. A crusade mandate. Anything. He opened fire on the facility and told the miners that the firepower of his cannons is the only authorization he needed. Then he sent his troops down here, they killed some more of the locals, they collected whatever they needed and left the others here.’

Tarr raised his arms in the air. ‘This was the answer to your first question. As for the second question…’

‘You are lying,’ Malistrum stated through the vox.

Tarr lowered his arms and shook his head.

‘No, Captain, I do not.’

‘Pure fantasy.’ This was the voice of Uskovich this time. ‘You attacked the facility, and you just want to put the blame on us for it!’

‘We have no reason to do so,’ Tarr answered levelly.

‘You are our enemy!’

‘Maybe we are,’ the other conceded.

‘You are the enemy of the Imperium!’

‘We may have been once. This is no longer the case.’

‘You left the Emperor’s light!’

Tarr shook his head. ‘Now this is not true.’ He pointed at the Fatemaker Chaplain. ‘Look at me the way only another Chaplain could, and tell me I am no longer the Emperor’s servant.’

There was a long pause after the last sentence. Suddenly, Uskovich leaned forward.

‘Why did you turn against us?’ he hissed. ‘Why did you turn against the Imperium? Why did you want to destroy us at Borshak?’

‘Hmm. I suppose you have the right to know.’ Tarr folded his arms and cast his head down, as if considering something which happened long in the past. Finally, he raised his head again.

‘Five hundred and twenty years ago,’ he started, ‘the leaders of my Chapter saw certain… patterns… in the behaviour of the various human societies within the Malachias Sector. It was our nature to observe and contemplate, you see. The data was consistent with that collected from various neighbouring sectors as well as what they had access to through the databanks of Holy Terra. The same pattern emerged everywhere.’

‘Yes?’ Malistrum asked.

‘The Imperium was weakening. It was a combined effort of outside menace and ineffective leadership. The figures were grim. Resources were thinly stretched and badly used: too much energy was tied up in issues not specifically related to the survival of the Imperium while other, more urgent matters were swept aside. At its current state, the Imperium would be crippled in the next millennium. This millennium, that is.’

There was no answer to that, so Tarr continued.

‘We needed more information to address this crisis. The various Imperial organizations seemed to be part of the problem, and they were too ignorant, so we decided to take matters into our own hand. Our Librarians convened to make a major divination about the future. What they found…’

He shook his head and waved with his arms around him.

‘They found this. They found a world where the Emperor was dead… gone forever… leaving Mankind without a guiding hand.’

He studied the Fatemaker Chaplain for a second.

‘I thought you would attack me at saying that He is dead,’ he mentioned.

The armoured form of the Chaplain shifted uncomfortably, but it was the voice of the Captain that answered.

‘We are… aware... of His death.’

‘Oh. So you know it, then.’

‘This changes nothing!’ Uskovich burst out. ‘You want to say you knew all this in advance and you chose to do nothing?’

‘On the contrary,’ he retorted. ‘We did what we could. We tried to find another way, believe me we have tried. We had no idea what could possibly kill the Emperor, but we knew there was no saving the Imperium itself. I will not even start to list all the problems we caused to ourselves. Corruption? Inertia? Greed and selfishness? I will say no more. Whatever I say, you would renounce as heresy. Suffice to say we drew our own conclusion, and we decided that if we cannot save the Imperium, we could at least detach ourselves from it.’

Uskovich let out a barking sound which he probably meant to be a laugh. ‘You don’t want to speak of heresy, and you condemn yourself as a heretic with your first sentence! There was nothing outside the Imperium for Mankind! The Imperium was the Emperor, and Mankind was the Imperium!’

‘And yet you speak of all these things in the past tense,’ the answer came. ‘By your own definition, the Emperor is no more, so the Imperium is no more, so… Mankind is no more? Is there really no more future for our species? Is it time to give up, lie down and die? Is there no hope?’

Uskovich stepped forward and shook his finger at Tarr. ‘What kind of hope…’

‘Chaplain,’ Malistrum’s voice stopped him. Reluctantly, he straightened back.

‘So you decided to secede from the Imperium. We knew that much already,’ Malistrum said. ‘It doesn’t explain why you attacked our Chapters.’

‘We didn’t. You attacked us,’ Tarr answered. ‘We announced our intentions openly. We issued an official manifesto. I am sure you have a copy of it – by the way, have you ever read the manifesto?’

‘No, I did not,’ Malistrum said.

‘I thought as much. At any rate, all we wanted was disappear from Imperial space, regroup and work out a contingency plan for what our leaders saw as the inevitable fall of the whole human empire. Naturally, we knew that the Imperium would not let us go. Not a whole Astartes Chapter. In this respect, you can say that we were aggressors because we knew perfectly well that our brother Chapters would be sent for us. We anticipated it, and we had a discussion about the next course of action. Unfortunately, we realized that there would be no way for us to either convince you of our intentions or allow us to go in peace. We had to assume you would hunt us for all eternity, so we had to make sure you were in no position to harm us. Yes, we set up a trap at Borshak. A trap we knew you would walk into because we knew you would seek us up to destroy us.’

Uskovich growled, and not even Malistrum said anything for a while. Tarr continued.

‘If you want to attack us, this may be the last chance,’ he said, ‘because I will soon touch issues now that you will have to answer.’

‘Not before you explain me what you are doing here,’ Malistrum interjected. ‘You have told us a story about your decision to secede from the Imperium, and you also tried to explain why you fought us at Borshak. If you wanted to disappear, why did you suddenly turn up here after so many centuries?’

‘I thought this was obvious,’ Tarr answered. ‘This is the end of the world. Literally, this is the end of the Imperium. We never tried to save it, firstly because it was corrupt and inept in its ultimate goal, and secondly because even a Space Marine Chapter is too small to influence the multitude that is Mankind on its own. Our goal was and still is to pick up some of the pieces and put them together in a manageable size.’

‘You want to carve an empire out for yourselves,’ Malistrum stated.

‘For Mankind,’ Tarr corrected. ‘Do not believe that we will create a kingdom of Chaos and start by building sacrificial altars. No, that empire would be for humans, just as the Emperor originally intended it. It would be compact enough so it could be governed efficiently, without the mistakes the old Imperium made.’

The Fatemaker Chaplain – Uskovich, obviously, because Malistrum had no control over the armour’s movement – shook his head vehemently. Tarr raised a finger in reply.

‘Just think about it for a second. The Emperor died too suddenly. Not even we anticipated this; honestly, even we were only prepared for almost a millennium of descent and anarchy. Everybody, the worthy and the unworthy alike, had been doing their job: crusades were being launched, our fellow Chapters, you included, I believe, had their battle-brothers positioned all over the Galaxy. Then the guiding light of the Astronomicon disappeared entirely, and all Astropaths died with Him on Earth. Who will pick up the pieces? Who is in a position to consolidate at least in some parts of the Galaxy? I believe we are. We are prepared. Our Chapter is at full strength, we have the fleet, the resources and we have a plan. We are also not bound by unfinished business from the past which would tie us down – unless,’ he pointed at Uskovich, ‘you wish to restart the feud between us.’

The Chaplain shook his head. ‘I don’t believe you, and I don’t think the Captain should,’ he said. ‘You cannot convince me that you don’t have an evil agenda.’

‘We will always be evil in your eyes, won’t we?’ Tarr asked. ‘Don’t even bother answering,’ he raised his hand. ‘All right. I am willing to present three pieces of evidence that we have never been heretics or traitors. Make of it what you will; I am not going to try to prove you any further thing beyond that.’

Uskovich waved his hand in an angry, dismissive manner, but Malistrum’s voice was of a different opinion. ‘State your case, then, if you believe that it will change anything.’

‘Very well,’ Tarr nodded. ‘My first point is simply this: after Borshak, my Chapter simply disappeared from Imperial space. If we had been heretics, if we had been Chaos-worshippers, it would only stand for reason that we would have started to harass and plunder the Emperor’s domain. We did not. I am asking you to tell me just one occasion where the Twilight Monks appeared again, not to mention, destroy anything that belonged to the Imperium.’

Neither officer said anything to this.

‘Indeed. This is not how typical renegades and raiders behave, you must admit that. My second point,’ Tarr continued,’ is actually a question. After Borshak, when all three Astartes Chapters suddenly disappeared from the Malachias Sector, did this tragedy throw this part of the Imperium into disarray and chaos? Surely the loss of all three Chapters must have been felt all over the region, but were there such reports?’

‘What is your point?’ Malistrum asked.

‘My point,’ Tarr said levelly, ‘is that before we seceded from the Imperium, we spent an entire century doing nothing else but cleaning up. I believe the Imperium was surprised by our secession mostly because we had previously seemed to be the most fervent, most aggressively loyal Chapter of the three. We spent a lot of energy destroying various Chaos-cults in the sector, we broke up alien empires, we hunted down at least a dozen warlords, we crushed planetary rebellions which threatened the wider stability of the region, we even found and destroyed two companies of Word Bearers who attempted to establish a base in the sector. I am not even sure you knew about that last one; it was made confidential by the Inquisition immediately. Still, you cannot deny the facts: all three Space Marine Chapters lost any use to the sector for long decades, yet the sector didn’t destabilize. The sector survived because we made sure that our absence didn’t cause serious problems.’

‘We also tried to save the people we were ‘responsible for,’’ he added. ‘I am talking about the population of Astanopol, the Chapter’s homeworld. We rounded up the entire population and transported them to safety, which is something, by the way, that the Imperium rarely bothers to do before it destroys a planet. By the time the Imperial retribution fleet, bolstered by both Silver Halberd and Blue Avenger vessels, arrived to Astanopol, they found nobody there. We intercepted an Astropathic message claiming that the retribution fleet torched the planet. Our heritage,’ Tarr’s voice lost some of its edge and became melancholic here, ‘the twin mountains of Bathra and Colcara: they were all destroyed. But the fleet found no humans there to kill. We took care of our own.’

‘Thirdly and finally: why bother with deception now? The Emperor is no more. If we were agents of Chaos, this would be our triumphant hour. Here you are, a mere company: even with the reserve fleet, you would remain at half strength, and we are a fully equipped Chapter. If we wanted to act in the name of the Ruinous Powers, you would all be burning on sacrificial pyres by now.’

Two sounds came out of Uskovich’s helmet at the same time after the Chaplain finished his speech: a refusing snort from Uskovich and a contemplating hum from Malistrum. The Captain was the first who started to speak again.

‘There is only one problem with your explanation. Your presence here is too convenient. We Fatemakers don’t believe in coincidences, and a lot of strange things has happened to my strike force lately. You being here exactly when we arrived tells me that you were waiting for us.’

‘We had no idea about your presence here,’ Tarr answered. ‘I agree with you in that there is no such thing as coincidence. We all play our part in a game we don’t necessarily understand.’ ‘However,’ he raised his voice slightly, ‘there are a lot of games played in the Galaxy, and the pieces from one game don’t necessarily fit into another. We are playing two games, Chaplain. I have no idea about yours; I’m not even sure I would like to get involved in it. Our game is simple, and in my opinion, the piece my squad and I play in it just happened to be lying next to a piece in your game for while. That’s really all. We want one thing, and one thing only. Restore and preserve Mankind in a portion of the Galaxy which we have the power to handle. Consolidate. Fortify. Do the Emperor’s work as is our mandate.’

‘As a matter of fact,’ he added, ‘I am surprised you are not doing the same yourself. I am not familiar with your traditions, but if you had retained anything from the tenets of your ancestor Chapters, you should have started to do exactly the same we are doing. Instead, we return to the sector, at the furthest corner of it to avoid contact with you, and the first thing we find is a Chapter-Master who raids an Imperial installation for supplies.’

‘Our Chapter-Master would never do such a thing,’ Uskovich growled. ‘This is your trick to fool us… the miners… you did something that…’

‘And now we are at the meat of the issue,’ Tarr interrupted. ‘You do feel that you are now on the defence, don’t you, Chaplain? As if you had some secret doubt about the actions of your Chapter-Master. We monitored your conversation with the miners. If anybody accused my Chapter-Master of such a callous act, I would not respond as reservedly as you did.’

He cocked his head aside and studied the Chaplain.

‘I believe that you don’t know what your reserve fleet is doing,’ he said. ‘I believe that you are following them, trying to catch them, but you have no idea where they are going or why they are doing the things they are doing. Correct me if I m wrong.’

He received no answer.

‘Captain,’ he continued. ‘I have no doubt that you are still a faithful servant of the Emperor. You would not have a Chaplain with you otherwise. Yet you are following your own Chapter-Master – in fact, you are actually chasing him – and you are not shocked into a rage when it turns out that he committed a sin. Captain,’ he leaned forward, ‘has your Chapter-Master become a renegade?’

‘Of course not!’ Uskovich snapped. ‘He would never…’

‘We don’t know.’

Uskovich stopped at Malistrum’s voice.

‘My lord, what are you saying?’

‘We don’t know what Chapter-Master Fiffito has become.’ Malitrum’s voice sounded solemn and grim. ‘The one thing we know about them is that they left the assembly point of the Chapter and went away without any further notice. We presume that they went to Terra, even though we have no idea why. We don’t know his motives, we don’t know why he left us behind, we don’t know what could have made him act the way he did. It is time to face the facts, Uskovich. We may be chasing the reserve fleet, not simply trying to catch up with them.’

Uskovich’s body language betrayed shock at the Captain’s word, and even Tarr seemed to be affected. ‘Terra?’ he asked. ‘If the Emperor truly died there, that place would look like Hell itself. We felt the psychic shockwave of his death. If we had not been in real space at that time… who knows what would have happened to our fleet, and we are a long way away from Terra. Your Chapter-Master is travelling to his own funeral.’

‘Even so, it is not your concern,’ Malistrum said. ‘I have admitted my doubts about the actions of my own Chapter-Master, so I also have to accept the fact that maybe – maybe – your hand is clear of what happened here. That still doesn’t mean that we have anything further to say to each other. You obviously want to get rid of us. You would like to remain in this part of the sector unmolested. Right now, I don’t have the means to press this issue, and so I would be glad to oblige you. Give us what we want: the data to open Greengate and the recordings of this incident here, and we will be on our way.’

‘You judge us from a higher moral ground,’ Tarr answered, ‘even though I don’t think you could do that. Not when your Chapter-Master has ordered the death of people he should have protected.

‘You have abandoned people before,’ Uskovich retorted.

‘In a certain manner,’ Tarr agreed. ‘Still, my conscience is clear. Yes, we are secessionists, and I willingly admit that we crippled your ancestors, but I don’t feel I should apologize for anything. We did what we had to do, and time itself justified our means. We seemingly abandoned our duty and we killed loyalist Astartes for the greater good. It was unavoidable. If we had lost there, the name of our Chapter would no longer exist, and I doubt you would shed a tear for us today. We are alive today because we paid the necessary price for it and we were willing to lose our innocence in the process.’

Uskovich snorted, and started to pace up and down in front of the Twilight Monk Chaplain. Tarr ignored him.

‘You may have to do the same,’ he said, obviously addressing the Captain, not the Chaplain with his words. ‘When you meet your Chapter-Master, you would have to confront him, perhaps even fight him. For the first time in the history of your Chapter, you would have to fight fellow Astartes.’

Uskovich froze. He did not simply stop walking up and down: he became totally motionless. Slowly inch by inch, he looked back at Chaplain Tarr.

Tarr looked back at him. The two skull-faced helmets gazed at each other one more time.

‘This is not the first time you have fought another Astartes,’ Tarr stated. ‘Has there been a clash within your Chapter?’

‘N…’ Uskovich started, then he stopped.

Tarr looked on. ‘It was another Chapter,’ he said. ‘Somewhere in the past, your Chapter killed fellow Space Marines.’

Uskovich did not move.

Tarr tensed. ‘Not in the past.’ His voice was low and sharp now. ‘This was recent.’ He stepped forward. Uskovich stepped away from him. ‘And it was not your Chapter,’ Tarr continued. ‘It was specifically you. Strike Force Four. By the Emperor, you have killed other Astartes in the past two years!’

Uskovich shook his head.

‘It could not have been us. I would know it. Who did you kill?’ Tarr demanded. ‘Which Chapter was it?’

‘Howling Griffons.’

This was Malistrum’s voice. Uskovich did not object this time. The Fatemaker Chaplain’s shoulders visibly sagged as the shame of his strike force finally came to light.

‘It happened a few weeks ago,’ Malistrum continued. If the Twilight Monk was surprised that the Fatemaker officer was about to make a guilty confession to him, he gave no sign. ‘We met in the Faramuntibus system. We had no quarrel with each other, but we both needed something from the locals to continue our journey. We needed a surviving Astropath to locate the reserve fleet’s path, and they needed Warp cartridges for their engines. Neither of us wanted to take what we wanted from the locals, so we both made a deal with them instead.’

‘There was a civil war in the system,’ the Captain went on. ‘We chose the opposite side without knowing that the other was in the system. The battle…’ he sighed. ‘It was complicated. Their leader, Captain Barandiya, died, partly because of my mistake. Their ship was destroyed, and we sent the survivors down to the surface of Faramuntibus III. There were perhaps one and a half dozen of them alive by the end.’

Uskovich still seemed broken, but Malistrum’s voice coming from his helmet was still strong and determined.

‘I will say it out loud, so you will not have to, Chaplain. We created a new Borshak for the Howling Griffons. We became essentially you. We fought them, we killed them, and whatever excuses I may be able to come up with is cannot hide the fact that we essentially destroyed them under the current circumstances. Both of us had our reason to keep on walking on our path, yes. But if we wan to be brutally honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we fought each other, not because of ideology, not because our mission would have meant anything for the Imperium, but because we wanted to survive. Yes. My Astartes strike force shed blood for mere supplies.’

The three Astartes – the two bodies present in the middle of the hangar – neither moved nor said anything for a while. Finally, Malistrum’s voice broke the silence.

‘So what happens now?’

Tarr sighed, and shook his head.

‘Captain, I think you were right: we really have nothing else to say to each other. We came here to preserve this system for Mankind, in the name of the Emperor, because even though He no longer protects, his vision of the continued survival of the human species is still valid. We are no longer Imperials, but neither are you because you need an Imperium in order to be an Imperial, and that no longer exists. We could argue about the past. You can blame us for fighting your ancestor Chapters and decimating them, but you cannot put moral blame on us because you are guilty of the same sin. You have committed fratricide. I have stated my Chapter’s reasons for the actions of my brothers in the past. We had a vision about the possible fate of Mankind, and that vision came true. We still represent a small chance for some of the humans in this sector. We have been working towards this goal for the past five hundred years, and it is this goal which ultimately justifies the means we have been forced to use.’

‘I see the means your Chapter is using now,’ he continued, ‘but I see no justification behind it except for the basic need to survive. Perhaps your Chapter-Master had a higher goal in mind when he set out on his journey, but he failed to share this vision with the rest of the Chapter. I can only judge someone by his actions, and the result of your Chapter’s actions can be seen in the ruins of this installation. Your Chapter is no longer pure and so, you no longer have the high moral ground when it comes to our mutual relationship.’

Tarr’s voice took on a special kind of tune, one which Malistrum had heard from Uskovich sometimes in the past. Whenever the Chaplain passed judgement on someone, he spoke in the same voice.

‘Neither of us is blameless,’ Tarr said. ‘We re Astartes, and it is our purpose to destroy. Now, however, it seems that my Chapter has a chance to build something. Appreciate our present effort, if not our past actions, and let us be. You have no intention of helping these people I any way, and we do. Go away in peace, and let us try to do some good.’

‘I will share the Greengate coordinates with you as soon as I get permission from my Chapter,’ Tarr finished, ‘although you will have to wait until my vessel arrives back to this system because I need permission from my superiors first. There is no trickery in that. The coordinates either work and Greengate opens, or I have just lied to you, and you stay on this side of the gate, only to come back and fight it out with us. We would gain nothing from it, while by helping you, we would ensure that you disappear from here and let us do our duty. If you still want to fight us, you may do so. My ship is in the Bosphoria system right now and she is only bound to return tomorrow. I have no doubt you can overcome a squad of ground-stuck Astartes by then.’

He nodded towards the now silent Uskovich, and through him, towards Malistrum as well.

‘The choice is yours.’





The Fatemaker Thunderhawk left the facility in silence. There was no hostile action, no communication between the Astartes and the miners or even the Twilight Monks.

A period of silence continued. Twenty hours later, the Warp opened at the outer edges of the system, and released a new vessel into real-space. The Opportunity’s sensors identified the newcomer as the Seraphim’s Breath, a Twilight Monk ship which disappeared from Imperial space almost half a millennium earlier. The last recorded action of the ship – that the Opportunity’s databanks knew of – was the space action in the Borshak system, and in the ensuing battle, she was recorded to have destroyed three vessels of the two loyalist Space Marine Chapters fighting there.

The Opportunity did not act on this information. The Seraphim’s Breath exchanged communications with the Twilight Monk force in the mining facility; then she exchanged a much, much shorter dialogue with the Opportunity. At the end of the conversation, the Twilight Monk ship signalled the miners, who obediently sent the Opportunity two data-packages: one containing very specific space-time coordinates within the nearby Greengate system, and another with all the recorded messages, vox-transmissions and the images about the encounter with the Fatemaker reserve fleet two weeks earlier.

As soon as she received the data, the Opportunity broke anchor and left. There was no final greeting between the two forces.





Sergeant Essen looked out of the viewport. Space Marines rarely expressed any interest in the view around the ship, but seeing a Twilight Monk vessel with their own eye was too much of a temptation. They gathered in small groups around the glass windows looking towards the back of the ship, watching the enemy (possibly enemy) cruiser sliding behind them as the Opportunity left anchor and went into space again. There were some groups on Essen’s corridor, too, and the Sergeant could not ignore the look of confusion on his brothers’ face. Some of them were angry, some of them were simply curious, but they were all utterly confused. They were thus mostly just standing in silence and watching.

Nicomaus, the man Essen shared the window with turned the Sergeant.

‘So it turns out the Twilight Monks are the good guys,’ he said in a low voice.

‘Apparently so,’ he answered.

‘And now our Chapter is officially the bad one?’

‘You can’t argue with the facts,’ the answer came.

Nicomaus turned back to the view.

‘I hate my life,’ he stated.





‘You have summoned me, my lord,’ Librarian Akichi said.

They were standing in Malistrum’s private quarter. The Opportunity was heading for the outer edge of the Valinko system; the Fatemakers wanted to put as much distance between them and the Twilight Monks as possible. It was a shameful retreat, but a completely deserved one.

‘I have a new assignment for you,’ Malistrum said. He was sitting at his desk, playing with the keys of his cogitator unit. ‘I gave the same assignment to Chaplain Uskovich.’

He handed a data-slate over to his Librarian. ‘There are some very specific codes on this slate,’ he said, ‘which opens some very specific files in our databank. The Inquisition ordered a general deletion on all existing data concerning the Twilight Monk Chapter. Every databank in the Imperium, even in Holy Terra, has been purged of any mention of that Chapter.’

Akichi nodded. This was standard practice concerning moral threats.

‘Our Chapter didn’t follow the deletion order,’ Malistrum said. ‘We still possess all information of the Monks, from the moment of their founding up to Borshak, including the details of that battle. That’s why we could identify the Seraphim’s Breath in the first place. Our ancestors decided to bury their past and close all connections to the old Chapters. We cannot afford this view any more.’

‘Read everything about them,’ he ordered. ‘Chaplain Uskovich and I will do the same. I want to know who the Twilight Monks were. I want to know their deeds, I want to know their reasons for seceding, I want to hear their side of the story. I need to know whether we made a mistake today or whether we have been making mistakes for the entire existence of our Chapter.’

‘Yes, my lord.’ Akichi turned to leave.

‘Akichi?’

The Librarian turned at the mention of his first name. Malistrum was looking at the ground for a few seconds, then he looked up at him.

‘The humans on this ship worship me as if I were a demigod,’ he said. ‘Their devotion is clinically insane at this point. They would follow me anywhere, even to damnation. If I decided to turn renegade now, they would become renegades for me and forfeit their oaths to the Emperor.’

Akichi stood motionless. ‘I know, my lord.’

‘You know that.’

‘Yes, my lord. We have known this for a while.’

Malistrum sat up straight.

‘Who exactly knows this?’

‘All Astartes, I would say. We never said anything because you could always handle it.’

Malistrum thought for a second.

‘I won’t be able to do it forever.’

‘We know that too,’ Akichi said.

‘Sooner or later, I will make a mistake.’

‘This is unavoidable,’ Akichi nodded.

‘And you still follow me.’

‘We do, my lord. All the Astartes and the mortals alike.’

Malistrum swallowed. ‘Dismiss, Librarian.’

‘My lord,’ Akichi said and left.

The Captain of Strike Force Four leaned forward on the chair and buried his face in his hands.





There was darkness in Uskovich’ room, but the Astartes did not mind it. His eyes were modified to see in the darkness.

The Chaplain was lying on his bed, wearing nothing but a loincloth. After receiving the codes for the sequestered part of the Opportunity’s databanks and the order to check the Twilight Monks’ past, he had returned to his quarters.

The dataslate was on his desk next to the cogitator. He had not used it yet. When he had entered, he slowly removed his power armour, piece by piece. He had felt he would not be able to bear the weight on his body any more. He had put the pieces on the armour rack and then he had fallen on his bed. That had been two hours earlier.

He moved his head slightly to see his helmet lying on the ground, the skull-faceplate gazing at him. He had dropped it while undressing.

He would have to get up and put it back on the rack. He would probably get up very soon and put it back.

He did not move for a very, very long time.





Aboard the Seraphim’s Breath

583 days after the Emperor’s death


The Twilight Monk Chaplain entered the captain’s quarters behind the bridge.

‘Chapter-Master,’ he addressed the man standing at the viewport.

‘Come closer, and join me,’ the other Twilight Monk answered.

The two of them stood in comfortable silence, watching the Fatemaker vessel break anchor and leave the facility.

‘It used to be a Blue Avenger ship,’ the Chapter-Master mentioned, almost casually.

‘I remember,’ the Chaplain said.

‘You and me, old friend,’ the other chuckled sadly. ‘Is there anyone else alive in the Chapter who was with us then?’

‘You know the answer, my lord.’

‘That I do. Forgive me, I am being nostalgic today.’ The Chapter-Master turned towards his man. His face was hard and battered, bearing the scars and wrinkles of almost six hundred years’ worth of fighting.

‘Did you talk to them in person?’

‘I talked with their Chaplain,’ the other said.

‘Hmm. What was it like to meet them?’

The Chaplain removed his helmet, and shook his head.

‘It was arguably the strangest moment in my life,’ he answered.

‘I guessed as much.’ The Chapter-Master patted the other on the shoulder.

‘This is not why you summoned me here, is it?’ the Chaplain asked.

‘No, it is not.’

Now the Chaplain looked at his master, just smiled reassuringly.

The Chaplain frowned, then his features cleared as the truth started to dawn on him. ‘Somebody signed the treaty,’ he stated.

‘I have just received the news as we were returning here,’ the Chapter-Master nodded.

‘Who?’

‘Kapella.’ The leader of the Twilight Monks looked content. ‘We have a base of operation. Internal and civilian affairs remain in the hand of the locals, all matters of security, as well as foreign and military issues belong to us. With what is about to happen out there in a few decades, this means we essentially control the whole system.’

‘The Kapellans may object later on,’ the Chaplain remarked.

‘They were on the brink of a civil war when we arrived,’ the Chapter-Master answered. ‘They understand the situation, and they accepted an extra layer of authority above them. I have no problem with their independence. What matters is we have a homeworld now, and we have economic and political ties to three other systems.’

‘So this means…’

‘We can start establishing the safe zone. Imagine it, Chaplain: fifty systems safe from the anarchy and chaos. The last chance for Mankind in this sector.’

‘All I see is all the hardship we are going to face,’ the Chaplain said.

‘We will overcome them,’ the other assured him.

The two of them turned back to the viewport. The Opportunity was almost a small shiny dot in the blackness of space.

‘What about them?’

‘Not our concern for the moment.’ The Chapter-Master seemed less optimistic now than a minute earlier. ‘What did you tell them? About our secession. What did you tell them about that?’

‘Only the truth,’ the answer came.

‘The whole truth?’

‘No.’

‘Good.’ The Chapter-Master turned back from the viewport with a grim expression on his face. ‘In that case, we may let them walk the circle a little longer.’
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby Sardaukar » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:34 am

Silence fills the empty graves and headstones move aside, the observers watch and listen, bearing witness to some that Astartes must abide. Machine and nerve and flesh and mind bear witness with their eyes. Silent as thunder and quiet as lightning, the distant Primarch watches with his own eyes...
"People who are rooted in the here and now, who are not defeated by their limitations, who don’t compare themselves to others, who confidently advance along their chosen path—such people are happy, such people are truly great." -Daisuke Ikeda

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."-Aristotle
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby librisrouge » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:49 am

Intriguing. I didn't see this coming. I would dearly love to know what the Twilight Monks know.
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Re: Fatemakers' Odyssey (50K) (part 47)

Postby Midgard » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:06 pm

Excellent update, and another cliffhanger.
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