Advent of Salvation Part 5

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Advent of Salvation Part 5

Postby Dweese » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:39 pm

The smell of the air filled his lungs with the scents of life and fresh, young vegetation. He had to admit, though he had no idea how he got here, he enjoyed it here. Even if it was a bit cold for his tastes. Looking down he smiled, seeing what he had not seen in many a year; he almost playfully kicked at a still surviving clump of snow and smiled wistfully as it blew outwards into thousands of crystallized, frozen chunks.
He walked along, simply gazing out at the sights around him, the towering conifers, the lush, vibrantly dark green grass, and the bluish white strips of snow still clinging to life in the valley floor. Most of all he looked upwards at the soaring, towering rocky granite peaks and nodded in appreciation. Though the memories were very, very old, they reminded him somewhat of his birth world. Sad, he thought, everyone I knew there as a child is long since passed away, and yet despite having no connection to there any more here I am wistfully thinking about a place that has never been home in any of my memories. With a mental shrug he walked on.
Listening to the sound of his boots, his unarmored boots, squelch through the wet, thick grass, he could hear the same sounds coming from behind him. A brief stab of adrenaline surged through him, and he regretted not having put on his power armor though for the life of him he still couldn’t figure out where he was or how he had gotten here.
Whirling around he crouched into a defensive stance and cocked his head at the bearded stranger approaching him.
The tall, gray headed stranger, his hair pulled back into a top knot and his long, flowing beard, streaked through with silver which mottled it’s dark brown luster, was tied into three distinct braids. The stranger, like him, wore no power armor though he was tall like an Astartes but he could see that the stranger had adorned himself with numerous runes and charms of warding and protection. With a sigh and a smile he straightened and turned his head, popping out a bit of tension that had worked its way into his muscles.
“Well met Wolf of Fenris, I had thought I would not see you again.” He said loud enough for the man to hear. The stranger nodded his head in respect, smiled and picked up his pace as he approached.
“You do not always dream my old friend. When you do, that is when you and I can meet. Rather hard to do so despite my powers.” The stranger said, ending with a low chuckle. He held out his hand to the stranger and the stranger gripped it, pulling him to a back slapping embrace.
“It is good to see you Son of Dorn, bastards though all of you may be.”
“Possibly Space Wolf, but being a Crimson Guard is an honor I dare say I would not trade to become a Wolf.” The VI Legion Astartes winced and grunted.
“Space Wolves, silly name. Anyway, it is good to see you, even if you are a bastard K’fir.”
K’fir nodded and smiled back at the slightly taller man.
“And you Logen.”
Logen Longbeard matched his pace with that of K’fir as the two men squelched and slushed through the thawing landscape.
“Do you know why you are here K’fir?” Logen asked. K’fir shook his dark haired head.
“Alas no friend. Why am I here? And where is here exactly?” Logen smiled and for a moment was silent before responding.
“Here you ask? That is not important as what it is I must tell you. Will you do me the favor of giving a message to your Chapter Master?” K’fir frowned, but without malice. He glanced over at his old friend and raised an eyebrow.
“I can, of course. But you do realize, since I am obviously dreaming, that they only awaken me when a battle draws near?” K’fir said calmly. Logen looked over at him and rewarded him with a knowing smile.
“One does my friend. Now stop being so damned stubborn like your Primarch and listen for a change.” K’fir struggled to keep the wry smile from creasing his concerned features and he stopped, turning to face the Wolf, his arms crossed across his chest.
“A Crusade is being launched, led by a Lord Militant General that your Chapter has come to know quite well over the last few decades. What he cannot know, and what your own Chapter Master cannot know by extension is that all of you are being used as pawns in a greater scheme.”
K’fir interrupted his friend with a held up hand.
“A ‘greater scheme’ you say? Do you mean Chaos?” Logen sighed and nodded.
“In part yes, now listen damn you, time is short. The Great Deceiver is involved in something that myself or the other Rune Priests cannot entirely fathom, but we have been able to see a basic narrative to the events. Something big is coming, and coming fairly soon. This new Crusade plays into the hands of Chaos and their own whims. Be mindful K’fir, you and your entire Chapter may find yourselves the targets of animosity from not just the ruinous powers but from even its disciples in high places amongst the Imperium.” Logen said, his voice tinted with a sense of urgency.
“Do you mean a conspiracy? By those inside the Imperium I mean?”
“Possible, you were not yet a scout in training when the Wars of Apostasy broke out. I was a young initiate at the time, I fought then. I learned that the Imperium cannot always be trusted to be pure and holy. Not everything done in the Emperor’s name is always done with His Holiness in mind.” K’fir frowned and nodded.
“I will tell Aurelianus of course, are the Dark Ones united in this?” He asked. Logen merely nodded, his outline beginning to break up.
“Sadly yes, we fell that they have come to a sort of agreement of purposes on this. I cannot stay now, it is time for you to awake.”
“Farewell Space Wolf.”
“We hate that name Son of Dorn.”
With a start K’fir awoke. He opened his eyes and saw…nothing. He pressed outwards with his mind and activated his external vox amplifiers.
“Tech adept? I cannot see.” He complained, a small part of him in the back of his mind wishing he was still able to move about of his own free will and volition.
“Techmarine Diego K’fir. How are you brother?” A deep, yet soft voice asked him. K’fir tilted his massive, armored torso towards the sound of the voice and inclined his helm unit.
“Fine, as far as it goes. Except I can’t see.” He grumbled, his bass vox amplifier contorting his voice into a fearsome roar.
“Just a sec, brother.” Diego murmured as he fiddled around inside of a maintenance recess inside K’fir’s Dreadnaught shell. With a flurry of first static and then gradually coalescing lines of resolution K’fir could see again.
Techmarine Diego glanced upwards from his kneeling position into the glowing red ocular lobes in K’fir’s helm unit and smiled.
“Welcome back to the land of the living old friend. Sleep well?”
“How long was I out this time?” K’fir asked. Diego glanced at his data slate and made a clicking sound with his tongue.
“Roughly ten years, a little longer than last time. The Chapter had to rebuild somewhat after our last engagement with the eldar reavers.” K’fir grunted, the sound coming out as a harsh bark from the vox amplifiers.
“How many lost?” He inquired.
“Enough brother. You will recognize some new faces, and miss some old ones that you will no longer see standing with you on the field of glory.”
K’fir was silent for a moment as he allowed Diego to finish his maintenance checks in the recessed panel. With a muffled clang the panel was shut and Diego walked K’fir through the pre-battle checks of his combat chassis. K’fir did have to admit, he truly enjoyed the feel of the power claw. A thought occurred to him, a remembered mission. He wondered if he should share it with Diego.
“Do you trust me Diego?” He asked. Taken aback Diego glanced up at the towering, blocky metallic figure and gave him a grin.
“If I did not do you think I would be so foolish as to stand here and prattle on, telling you to move bits and pieces of yourself when you could crush my head in a single grasp?” A coughing, bark of noise from K’fir’s vox amplifiers told Diego that his old friend was laughing.
“Fair enough. Can I tell you something?” K’fir asked. Diego cocked his head, his expression bemused.
“Of course.”
“I dream.”
Diego was silent for a moment.
“Hmmm. I’ve heard of this before, the VI Legion swears that they have an ancient one, interred as you are, who dreams. Some say he can communicate with the able bodied and minded even when put in stasis. Albeit through dreams. But then again the sons of Russ are a strange, mystical lot at times. Other Chapters have heard rumors of such happening. But to be fair brother, you’re technically not supposed to be able to. When you are put into stasis your mind is quite literally shut off, it is supposed to be unable to have any kind of cerebral activity whatsoever save for that necessary to keep your body working inside the amniotic fluid casket.”
For a long moment both men were silent, till Diego ambled closer to the massive, dreadnaught shell.
“If I may brother, what do you dream about?” Diego asked, several of the Chapter serfs glancing around to listen in. K’fir looked over at them and then back at Diego, not really caring if they overheard, though they did, sheepishly, look back down at the floor.
“I dream of my friend Logen Longbeard from the VI. He tells me things, we walk around Fenris. He gave me a message for the Chapter Master.”
Diego was silent, thinking, his lips pursed in thought, his servo arms attached to his backpack on his carapace armor whirred and buzzed as they settled into a resting position.
“On Fenris you say?” He asked without looking directly at K’fir. K’fir winced inside his casket.
“Yes brother. I knew you would find it hard to accept, but I see it as some sort of psyker craft used by Logen and his fellow rune priests. And I truly do have an important message for the Chapter Master.” K’fir said. Diego was about to say more when the presence of another stopped him short.
“Then maybe he should be brought forward to the Chapter Master brother Diego.” The voice, like Diego’s, was deep yet soft though it carried an air of ultimate authority matched only by Aurelianus himself. K’fir inclined his helm unit in a bow of respect to the skull helmed and black armored Astartes standing with his arms folded to the entrance of the Dreadnaught mausoleum.
“Chaplain Calvados, you think what he says is true? No offence meant K’fir.” Diego said. K’fir gave a shrug that translated into a grinding of servos as his two weapons arms moved up and down in response. Chaplain Calvados took a step into the mausoleum and nodded.
“Yes Diego, I do. Brother K’fir; was this message delivered to you in the guise of a dreamlike state?” K’fir grunted in acknowledgement.
“When you dream, are you only ever in contact with a certain individual or group of individuals?” Calvados asked. K’fir was silent for a moment in thought but he soon responded.
“Yes Chaplain, always with either Logen or other of the Wolves’ priests.” Calvados frowned in thought behind his skull shaped helm but he nodded slowly in reply. He then turned to Diego.
“Is Brother K’fir mobile Diego?” He asked. Diego nodded in response and Calvados turned back to K’fir.
“Well then brother, come with me. It seems we have a meeting with the Chapter Master.”

“You’re meaning to tell me that the Wolves of Fenris have intelligence about a possible plot by Chaos involving the Crusade?” First Captain Domitian asked, his arms folded across his chest, his face etched in his perpetual scowl.
Chaplain Calvados inclined his head towards him and gave a mental sigh. Domitian was an excellent officer, but incredibly hot headed and his distrust of anyone not of Dorn’s blood had the unfortunate tendency to overlay his sense of good judgment.
“Not intelligence so much as a dark prophecy. The Space Wolves’ Rune Priests,” Calvados said in reply, “are highly skilled and are rarely less than one hundred percent accurate, though I do admit determining their true meaning through their obscurity can, at times be troublesome.” Aurelianus remained silent, looking askance at the massive shape of Brother K’fir as he pondered the dark implications of what was being told him.
“I can see that brother Calvados, don’t mistake me. It’s just that what K’fir has dreamed may not entirely be the truth, and if he really has dreamed, which I still am not sure he has so much, how can we be sure it is the Wolves and not simply a part of his mind over-reacting to the stresses of being reawakened from a decades long slumber?” Domitian asked sourly, glancing over at Brother K’fir and inclining his head in mute apology. For his part K’fir didn’t respond and was beginning to get used to this sort of reaction.
“Hmmm. We do have our own Astropaths, we can relay a message to the Wolves and see what their response will be. Though I do understand that they declined to partake in this Crusade Lord?” Calvados directed the last towards Aurelianus.
Aurelianus, still sitting in his gilded and crimson overlaid command throne, glanced over at Calvados and gave a small shake of his head before responding.
“No Brother Chaplain they have decided that the Crusade is of too small of an undertaking. Though I daresay that if Montoya strikes into greenskin territory after he retakes the worlds belonging to Governor Tarsus the Wolves will be smacking their foreheads in annoyance at missing out on a grand prize of glory that will go around for all.” Aurelianus sighed, stood and slowly approached the Dreadnaught.
For a long moment Aurelianus stared into K’fir’s ocular lobes, and K’fir returned the gaze. Finally Aurelianus nodded, patted an armored gauntlet on K’fir’s massive armored shoulder and turned to face Captain Domitian.
“This Brother of ours is not in any way trying to beguile us. He did his duty by bringing us this information. However, as important as it is, there is very little we can do about it now. We have a battle to win and Montoya will be calling a strategy session tomorrow with the freshly arriving Guard Generals as well the Obrians, the Sororitas and ourselves. I will be leaving early tomorrow to join the session as will Captain Domitian. In the meantime,” Aurelianus said, turning back to glance at K’fir, “you should all be preparing for the coming battle. It will be the first of what will no doubt be an important and long campaign.”
As the meeting with the Chapter Master dispersed K’fir’s heart swelled with pride and his mind raced with the possibilities. What was a Space Marine without battle? He was nothing. K’fir had been spared from true death, to continue to serve the Crimson Guard even in a state of death. To slay the enemies of man and to win, in the Emperor’s name, a lasting Imperium stronger than the one from the day before the battle. And even if K’fir couldn’t entirely understand what was going on, he could understand battle. And he could hardly wait for it to start.

Major Chen ambled up to the side of the open flap of the drabbish, green command tent and peered inside. With a frown he saw his boss, and friend, Montoya sitting upright in a chair, thinking to himself. Chen glanced down at the chrono he wore on his wrist and gave a soft sigh, turning he ambled back to his own tent and began to fish out two cups, tea leaves and a pot to boil water in.

Montoya grunted in surprise and glanced up from his mental reverie as Major Chen slowly walked in, carrying a tray with two cups placed on saucers, and a carafe of steaming, hot water.
“Thanks, friend. Oh, I meant xie xie ni.” Major Chen grunted in acknowledgement and handed Montoya a cup of well brewed, greenish tea which Montoya took almost sheepishly.
“Before you go lecturing me upon the virtues of rest and sleep, I must remind you old man that you are up as well as me.” Montoya said glibly. Chen snorted a laugh and sat down heavily in a folding chair he had pulled over to face Montoya.
“Dui, dui. However, General, I don’t have a Crusade to run. You do. It seems to my fragile, little mind, you know the kind only given to Majors that your rest should be a higher priority than mine.” Montoya nodded, shrugged and took a small sip of his tea before setting it back down on the camp table across from him.
“If I promoted you to Brigadier General would you stop carping at me like a damned old woman?” Montoya asked softly. Chen frowned and shook his head.
“Bu Lord General. It is my job, and I am afraid you are quite stuck with me.” Montoya rewarded him with a dramatic sigh, though the twinkle in his eyes let Chen know his frustration was entirely staged. Which, in fact, only annoyed Chen more.
“In all seriousness though, since I am now a Lord Militant General I really should give you a field promotion Major, it would only be wise.”
Taking a long swallow of his tea Chen quirked an eyebrow at his General and friend. Montoya shrugged, took another sip and then crossed his legs as he looked at Chen.
“It makes sense. I can’t be everywhere at once, and you have seen combat, you’re a highly decorated officer and a valued member of my staff. If an emergency arises and I need someone to organize an emergency counterstroke on the fly or to hold a line when all other officers are either dead or incompetent I will need you to have a high enough rank to make sure that you’re actually listened to. A Colonel at least, I’ll see to it that it’s done tomorrow.”
For a long moment the two men simply sat across from each other, listening to the sounds of the night as well as the sounds of an army that never truly slept. Moving vehicles, muffled curses, commands, a bark of laughter here and there, a clanging of equipment, rattling of material. The sounds of war really.
“How come you’ve never told me the name of your wife?” Montoya asked suddenly, his gaze having crept down to Chen’s wedding ring. Chen smiled and shrugged.
“You’ve never asked.” He said simply. Montoya’s draw dropped.
“Yes I have.”
“Nope.” Chen replied with a grin and a shrug.
“Well…dui bu qi man. All right then, what is your wife’s name?”
Chen smiled, set down his cup, now empty, onto the tray he had brought it in on, pushed it closer to the middle of the tray, rested one elbow on the camp tables’ edge and fished into his pocket with the other. He proferred a holo-pict unit and pressed the activation stud, and a glowing image of a middle aged, yet still highly attractive woman, grinning ear to ear with her arms around Chen, looked out at Montoya.
“Wo de lao po de ming zi jiao ji huang, wen yi he si wang.” Chen said calmly, his voice wistful as he too gazed at the holo-pict. Montoya admired her beauty for a moment more and then frowned.
“I didn’t catch all of that, what does her name mean?” Chen chuckled.
“Famine, pestilence and death.” Montoya almost choked on his tea with shocked laughter.
“What?” He practically shouted, his eyes wide with surprise. Chen sniggered.
“You’ve never tasted her cooking.” He said, his voice deadpan. The two men shared a good laugh for a moment before Chen stroked a finger through the holo-projection and shut it off, placing it back in his breast pocket with a loving pat. “Her name, honestly, is Liu Ling. The apple of my eye.”
For a long moment the two men were silent, Chen thinking about his wife with Montoya staring off into space.
“What’s it like?” Montoya asked. Chen frowned and cocked his head. “Marriage I mean, what’s it like?” Montoya replied. Chen grunted, noting the hidden pain in his friend’s voice. With a smile he leaned closer and shrugged.
“The best thing in the whole Imperium. Sure we have our spats, especially over raising my two sons and our daughter, and the damned woman couldn’t cook a decent meal if her life and the Emperor’s depended on it. Sanguinius wept I swear sometimes she’s a plague daemon with some of the abominations she brings out from the kitchen.” He said the last shaking with laughter, Montoya grinning in appreciation as Chen wiped a tear of mirth from his eye.
“But I love her dearly General. I wouldn’t know what to do without her. I’d be lost I think if I no longer had her. It will be a long time till I see her again, but she’s patient and she truly loves me. She’s ten years younger than me and like you and I came from a simple rural background. She’s a hard worker and finds joy in turmoil, just as we do. She keeps me sane sometimes, in the madness of war. A man needs a good woman, a soldier more than most General.” Montoya nodded, a sad smile on his face.
“What about you General? How come you never got married?” Chen asked. Montoya shrugged.
“Never found the right one I suppose.” For a long moment Montoya was quiet, and Chen let him have his stillness. Then Montoya shifted his position, leaned on one of the arms of the chair and smiled.
“No, that’s a lie. I found the right one, many years ago. Her name was Valencia and she was the daughter of one of the very wealthy nobles on Veracruz. Valencia Calderon was her name. The most stunningly beautiful woman in the whole Imperium of Man.”
“What happened?” Chen asked, sitting on the edge of his seat. Montoya smiled again, this time his eyes filled with pain as he did so.
“I was a peasant from the rural areas, what chance did I have with the most beautiful woman I ever saw? As it turns out some really, except her family didn’t think so. We kept our love a secret for over a year, and she agreed to marry me. But her father found out. I was already selected for the Guard by that time and was in Officer’s training which shocked the hell out of him quite frankly so he couldn’t kick my ass like I know he wanted to. Instead he simply forbade the marriage. Said that his daughter would never marry a Guard Officer who might never be seen again. Crushed me on the inside Chen, I’ve never loved anyone since, nor do I ever intend to.”
Chen grunted and shook his head.
“But don’t feel too bad for me, I’m such a good General because I can transfer my pain and focus it into ambition and use it to fuel my hatred of the Imperium’s enemies. I daresay there are millions of cultists, xeno’s and traitor Astartes who are dead right now who prayed to whatever it is they pray too that I had found a wife in my youth.” Chen and Montoya both shared a dark laugh at that. Montoya then cleared his throat, shook his head and stood. Chen knew that the subject had been abruptly changed, he inwardly nodded and stood with his friend.
“These are good troops out there Chen,” Montoya said, gesturing with a grand sweep of his arm towards the panoramic view of the army encampment outside the open flap of his tent, “the problem is they’ve been both poorly led and their previous life has ill prepared them for the rigors of war. The majority of those who remained loyalist are urban folk. There are no hives on Obrias, but there are several large city’s with Obrias City standing tallest at almost 30 million people. That’s roughly a tenth of the entire planetary population Chen. Most of the soldiers who are fighting against them, the rebels I mean, they’re from the rural areas, the ones who raised the farms and tended the crops that get shipped to other worlds in the sector. It’s because of their labor that the hivers on ten other worlds can actually have a warm breakfast and a hearty dinner at home, comfortable in their own habitats while those farm boy and girls are digging out a meager living with their own blood sweat and tears. And that’s why rural folks have always, throughout human history, and will always make the better soldiers. Yes, hive life and city life if you will, can be tough and there are some tough hombres amongst them to be sure. Problem is that an urban environment tends to breed a form of enforced selfishness and any individual’s toughness is entirely drawn towards achieving largely selfish ends. A farmer or rural person’s strength is drawn towards that of one’s duty not just to your family and even your larger community but also to your goal of providing a crop so that others you’ll never meet might eat and live a better life. Granted they get a bit of money for their crops and they can live good lives if they own large enough farms. However, regardless of all of that rural people make better soldiers as they live in an environment which is both tough as well as disciplined, they understand the meaning of sacrifice from an early age and they accept it as part of life, they don’t whine about it like many urban folks do. And a lot of rural kids have to kill what it is that they eat, sometimes they have to kill pets in order to put on a good breakfast the next day. This means they’ve already killed, meaning that they’re inured to the sight and smell of death and this makes them better killers while in uniform.”
Montoya stopped and looked at Chen, Montoya’s face partially obscured by shadow, only the star and moonlight brightening ever so slightly the insides of his Spartan command tent.
“I don’t like having to kill these people Major, not at all. They’re too much like you and I, and before they were led down the path of rebellion against the Emperor they were clearly better citizens than the masses in the cities. If I can, after I stomp all to hell this General Muskwe whom the average loyalist has been calling the ‘Iron Bitch’ then I intend to rehabilitate as many of these former rebels as possible, put them back in Imperial uniform. I need folks like that. But these people Major, these city folks mostly, are good people too. They just need a foot up their ass more than most others from time to time to keep them good and honest. I hope to win this thing here within the next seven days. And I know I can. Until then Major, enjoy this calm before the storm while it lasts.”
He stepped closer to Chen, patted him good naturedly on the shoulder and stifled a yawn.
“Tomorrow the other three Guard Division commanders will be arriving, I will need you to get some rest tonight as you’ll be needed to drive me around early to spread some healthy terror into the surrounding masses. I intend to put the fear of the God Emperor into any slackers and malcontents in uniform I see. Also be prepared for a major backlash at the strategy council tomorrow as well.” Montoya said. Chen frowned and grunted in question. Montoya shrugged.
“Seems that my idea of no longer subordinating armor to infantry units has ruffled quite a few feathers amongst the Obrians, and I’m sure will raise some eyebrows amongst the Guard units serving in the Crusade. Anyways it’s done and I have a damn good reason for doing so. Oh, before I forget, two things. First is that I’ll need you to write up a commendation for Canoness Susannah and her Sororitas. Seems one of her spread out companies got caught behind enemy lines and instead of merely breaking out, actually used the time to break the siege of the regiment trapped in Adowa, brought it out somewhat intact as well as the remnants of another one. I forget the name of the Sister Superior who led the mission but she needs to be remembered for what she did certainly.” Montoya turned to walk off and Chen cleared his throat.
“Lord General, you did say that there were two things.”
Montoya sighed and turned.
“Yes, yes, the other. Be prepared to be looked down upon. Aurelianus will be at the strategy council as will First Captain Domitian. And Domitian has a certain distaste for us mere mortals in the Guard.”
Chen snorted a wry laugh, saluted and watched as his commander and good friend flopped down onto a cot along one wall of the tent and fall asleep. Nodding his head in approval Chen made his way out of the tent and into his, hoping to catch an hour or two himself.
Dweese
 
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