The Tide of Damnation

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The Tide of Damnation

Postby Rhamah » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:08 pm

I find the irony delicious.

Doom came silently for the Olynthus system, capital of a sub-sector with the same name.

It is a dainty pleasure, knowing what I once was, and what I do now.


Doom came in the form of a single, impressive vessel; a battle-barge of the Adeptus Astartes.

Once, I was lord of a nascent thousand warriors – the founding master of a chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. I was risen from the ranks by the council of founding veterans, composed of brothers from the Imperial Fists, Crimson Fists and Black Templars. Steeped in the qualities of the splinters of the original legion, my brothers were tempered to be soldiers worthy of the primarch.

Doom coasted in from the fringes of the system; on sub-light initially, then cut the engines and let momentum carry it until it neared Olynthus Prime. No auspex detected it, nor any flotilla saw it. A grey ghost drifting through space. Any who might have seen it would have proclaimed it dead. As it passed the agri-world of Nummar, the inhabitants, livestock and herders alike, endured troubling nightmares and an inexplicable sense of dread. Some were so shaken by their horrific dreams that they committed the sin of taking their own lives before the God-Emperor desired them. Incensed preachers roused up great mobs of flagellants to repent the sins of the dead, lest the light of the Throne be removed from their world.

And I was their leader. The best of them, they all said. The brightest, the boldest. The one who would carry them forth and perform such deeds that men would weep to gaze upon me, that generations to come would sing of me, that the Bell of Lost Souls would toll a dozen times for my passing.


Ganamo's shipyard's void shields suffered a momentary total failure as the battle-barge drifted by. In that instant, a cargo vessel that had been undergoing a docking sequence surged forward, engines flaring. The prow barrelled through the bay it had intended to dock with, and the ship was stopped only when the voids returned and violently bisected the civilian vessel. But it was too late to prevent long-lasting damage. The prow was embedded in the heart of the shipyard, shadowed by a gaping chasm. Six-hundred lay enginseers were mind-scrubbed and re-purposed as servitors, and their former supervising tech-priests had their oxygen recycling units disabled before being thrown into the void for incompetence.

I was Master of the Knights, Shogun of Kioto, Protector of the Helyx Sector and Defender of the Imperium. I was one of the Emperor's Angels.

Now...


Voina's colossal hives rumbled with the sounds of gunfire and explosions as the oppressed mutant hordes rose up from the depths in desperate bids for freedom and vengeance. Armouries and depots were assaulted, and Imperial armour clashed with Imperial armour as tanks destined for the battlefields around the Cadian Gate fired on the forges that had crafted them. Civilians too slow to flee the callous hordes were butchered, with no exceptions made. Governor Allinakis issued the order for conscription, forcing what foundries remained to close as their workers fought to protect them. Doom coasted past in the heavens above.

Now, I am the leader of a few hundred Astartes. They are not my brothers. They are Murder's sons. They are the lost and the damned, and in a previous life I would have called them traitors and my foes. They hail from all chapters, and indeed, some from the Legions. Their armour is pitted, their weapons scarred. They have not the vast forges and armouriums that dwell deep beneath Kiranor. They take what they can, and burn what is useless to them. They are like predators of the void, fierce hunters that cull the weak and leave the strong, for they relish a good fight.

The 'sisters' Elipsa and Thassia both became silent in the rotation of scheduled reports to Olynthus. Light cruisers from both industrial worlds reached the capital with reports that every astropath – indeed, every sanctioned psyker – had all dropped dead over the course of a week, bleeding from every orifice. Mortician medicae reports made for grisly reading. Their hearts had exploded in their chests, and blood vessels all over their bodies had ruptured in that instant. Local Ecclisiarchy witch-finders had exulted the 'divine will of the Imperator' for cleansing their flocks of 'the undeniable taint' that was gnawing at the very soul of society. Olynthus reached deep into its own reserves of civil psykers, and sent the cruisers home to repair the psychic infrastructure. Neither vessel, even with their cargo of psykers, picked up the silent battle-barge.

As long as I sate their urges, they will follow me. As long as I bring them glory and renown, I am their master.

I am the Underlord of Murder. And that is all any need know.


Bador found itself on the far side of the system as Doom encroached on Olynthus, and in its scheduled report to the capital, said all was well.

And the Imperium will know me, when I am done here. They will know me very well.

Haven, the direct supplier of food to Olynthus Prime, burned. A small spark, the accident of some children playing with rocks, lit a field ablaze and the fire spread in the blink of an eye. Their screams were lost amidst the anguished howls of livestock and the wailing of the populace as the single-continent world slowly turned to ash.

They will know to fear me, for I will crush these worlds without once firing my bolter or drawing my sword. They will hate me, for I will play these simple mortals for fools. They are nothing to me. Less than children before my machinations, before my power.

In the wreckage of an ork hulk, the battle-barge decelerated to a halt. The hulk was small, if such a term could be used to describe the colossal shell of metal and rock. Obscured and undetected, the grey Astartes ship found itself in orbit around Olynthus Prime.

They sit in their cities, huddling within their towers of adamantium and permacrete. They are blind to the storm I will unleash upon them.

And then it began.

At various points around the system, great jagged wounds in the Warp opened up like the mewling mouths of dying children. From each drifted true hulks: unbelievably huge masses formed from the ruins of thousands of dead interstellar vessels. They surged through realspace, as if with a purpose. Pink-white contrails, made from the stuff of nightmares, clung to the spars and antennae of the hulks, almost like the Warp did not want to relinquish its grip on them.

And I will be laughing as the tide of damnation crashes into them, sweeping every last soul away in a torrent of blood and anguish.

Bador's relative peace was sundered first as a small sun burned through its atmosphere, smashing into the planet's crust like the fist of a raging god. The impact levelled the factorum-city of Ilin, vaporising rockcrete and turning ceramite to dust. No living thing survived impact. Nothing, save the orks. Within hours of landing, the hulk disembarked its many passengers: a great horde of greenskins. They quickly set to turning the hulk into their crude huts and forges, establishing a city of their own over the corpse of Ilin.

All shall drown. All shall perish.

Scenes like this repeated themselves as hulks slammed into each world in the system with unerring accuracy. One for each world, save dead Haven. Lord-Governor Gunthold was so alarmed by the sudden ferocity of the incident that her personal medicae staff had her on a tank of oxygen. When word reached her that three hulks were on a direct course for her own world, she suffered a heart attack.

For I have seen it. I have made it so. And so it shall be.


A lone figure stood on the observation deck of the enigmatic battle-barge, watching Olynthus Prime through a large gap in the wreckage that hid the ship. He never blinked as one of the hulks drifted in front of him. As it collided, Rhamah Terenus allowed himself a satisfied smirk.

There are no angels anymore. The heavens are gone, and all that remains is hell.

Doom had come.

Revenge will be mine.
The Tyrant Reborn.
Maugan Ra wrote:It is not wise to antagonise Rhamah, unless you're planning to leave the country in the near future. Via catapult.


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Re: The Tide of Damnation

Postby Maugan Ra » Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:20 am

Carson ran for his life, sprinting down the palace steps like a man with all the daemons of hell at his back. The small message cylinder with which he had been entrusted was clutched tightly in one hand, his gleaming metal fingers exerting a far firmer hold on it than weak flesh ever could. Up ahead, two members of the palace guard turned at the sound of rapid footsteps on the flagstones, matt black rifles swinging around in instinctive response. Beyond them, the gleaming metal spikes that made up the perimeter fence loomed menacingly. Pneumatic inserts in Carson's legs activated with a quiet hiss and suddenly he was flying....

He hit the ground on the other side of the fence with considerable force, tucking into a roll that conserved momentum and kept the cylinder protected by as much of his body as possible. With practised grace he returned to his feet and kept sprinting, rapidly plotting out the best possible route to his destination. Getting there was all that mattered – survival was a secondary concern.

Up ahead, the crowds of civilians saw him coming and parted like water, some of them crushing their neighbours against the surrounding buildings in their haste. Carson supposed it was the uniform – on Hartok, no one interfered with someone bearing the black armband and the personal crest of the governor. They knew the punishment such an act would entail.

Carson kept running, vaulting over parked vehicles and straight through the middle of busy highways without pause, trusting in his extensive bionics to protect him in the event that one of the drivers reacted too slowly to his sudden appearance. His masters had invested no small amount of resources in him, preparing him for this when this day inevitably arrived, and he was determined not to disappoint them.

He had to reach the General. Nothing else mattered.

888

Seras Winter was eating her dinner when the courier stumbled into her dining hall and thrust the small, innocuous looking message cylinder at him.

“Orders from the Citadel, ma'am General.” he rasped out between great, heaving breaths. She set the cutlery carefully down by the side of her plate and rose to her feet smoothly, catching sight of her staff loitering nervously in the corridor outside. Normally she would have chastised them for not alerting her to an important arrival, but this was a special case.

“I accept these Orders and so relieve you of your burden, Herald.” She said, the formal words coming to mind with an air of comfortable familiarity, taking the message cylinder from his shaking hands. She knew the Heralds were known to make use of powerful stimulants in the pursuit of her duties, and wondered if the trembling was a side-effect. Of course, it might just be fatigue – the man looked to have virtually killed himself with the speed of his journey, and there was a rather nasty looking dent in his left leg that spoke of an unfortunate collision along the way.

She pressed a bare thumb against the small pad on one end of the cylinder, ignoring the faint prick of pain as it extracted a droplet of her blood. After a few moments, the complex logic-circuits in the lock decided that she was indeed the intended recipient, and the cylinder promptly ejected a sheet of fine parchment from its interior. It bore a few simple sentences inscribed in golden ink and was signed with the personal mark of the Lord Governor himself. Winter scanned the message quickly, her hard green eyes flickering back and forth, and felt a vicious smile creep across her features.

“Herald, I entrust you with a sacred task.” She said, not taking her eyes off of the parchment. “Deliver my words to Warden-Commander Trask of the 18th, and Warden-Commander Bastille of the 23rd. Deliver them with haste and accuracy, lest your life be forfeit for failing in your duty.”

The Herald straightened up, controlling his rapid breathing through some trick of focus his kind doubtlessly learned though tradition as much as necessity. “What words shall I bear, Warden-General?”

“Olynthus has been invaded. Muster the legions – the Hartokii are going to war.”

888

The General strode onto the Muster Fields like a Warrior-Queen, proud and triumphant. Her piercing eyes swept across the vista before her, and the merest flicker of a smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she watched her soldiers make ready for war.

The sky was dark with the bulky form of dozens of lumbering transport craft, descending towards the ground on pillars of flame and filling the air with the roar of their engines. Guided by curt vox transmissions from wardens on the ground, the pilots wove a delicate aerial ballet in the cloudless sky, guiding their massive vessels down in a neat landing pattern to collect the forces that waited for them on the ground. Tens of thousands of upturned faces regarded each ship as it augured in, the legions drawn up in perfect drill order under the steely gaze of their officers. Not a man flinched, even as hundreds of tonnes of metal wallowed a scant mile above their heads. They merely waited for their embarkation orders, confident in the abilities of their fellow Hartokii to avoid a potentially devastating collision.

The Warden-General walked straight through the centre of the fields, her crisp white dress uniform catching the eye of every soldier she passed on the way. With perfect synchronisation, each unit in turn drew swords and saluted, and she could practically feel their pride to have been judged worthy of this war. All knew that when Lady Winter went to war, only the best were permitted to march at her side, and there was fierce competition amongst the legions for the honour of being under her command whenever a deployment was announced.

The soldiers who marched in her wake were held in only slightly less regard. Clad in full suits of dark grey carapace plate, their features hidden behind tinted visors, the Praetorian Guard cut a sinister figure wherever they went. A full cohort of them marched behind the General now, two hundred feet hammering the ground in perfect lock-step under her personal banner. Every last Praetorian was personally selected by the officers that they protected, and many of them commanded reputations and battle honours as famous and extensive as those of their wards.

Ahead, the Legion Commanders were waiting for her, knees bent and fists clenched over hearts. Their golden breastplates glinted in the sun, each lovingly engraved with the insignia of the Commander's noble house and sculpted to fit their lean forms exactly. Hartokii generals considered it a point of pride to meet the same standards of physical fitness as the soldiers under their command, and many actively participated in the training regimes alongside the new recruits each year. Seras drew to a halt in front of them, and was pleased at the way they looked her in the eye as they awaited their orders.

“Gentlemen, rise.” She said smoothly, each word carefully pronounced to convey the proper tone of measured respect towards a valued subordinate. As the Commanders gracefully returned to their feet, she spared a glance for the members of their command staff. Each had their own units of Praetorians waiting motionless nearby, and both were accompanied by severe looking men in the dark uniforms of the Commissariat. Each had a small collection of young men and women in the deep green of the Tactical Unit, but where Trask was followed around by a pair of priests in the opulent robes of the Ecclesiarchy, Bastille favoured the company of a trio of sanctioned battle-psykers – a practice that had drawn many comments in the past.

The rivalry between the two Commanders, and consequently their legions, was well known on Hartok, as were their exemplary records. Winter had selected them both for this deployment with that competition in mind, knowing from past experience that both units would strive to outdo each other and prove themselves to her, and that the extra motivation could well grant her the edge she needed to win this war.

“Gentlemen, the Ork has come to Olynthus, in greater numbers than have been seen in our lifetimes. The Governor has called for aid, and we shall respond.” She said, relishing the opportunity her words sketched out for them all. “Make no mistake, this war will decide the fate of the sub-sector, and it will be we who decide the fate of this war.”

“The Navy tells me that we shall arrive at our destination in a little over six weeks, and when we do I expect your troops to be ready to wage perhaps the greatest war Hartok has ever seen.”

With fierce looks on their faces, both Commanders came to attention and saluted smartly, their eyes ablaze with thoughts of blood and glory. Seras Winter looked upon her soldiers, the instruments of her ascension, and gave a wolfish smile.

“Gentlemen, make me proud.”
Maugan, your slow descent into madness is starting to look more like a BASE jump...
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Re: The Tide of Damnation

Postby Ghurlag » Tue Jul 19, 2011 1:50 am

"Do you see?"

With some difficulty, Boehmer ignored the stench of Inquisitor Morbent's hissing breath and focused on the display before him. A sector-wide map that merchantmen would've killed to own formed the backdrop to an intricate network of shimmering blue lines, dotted with ident runes. As he watched, a new rune flashed into being, highlighted in a sickly green. Boehmer consulted the chart for its location.

"That was Bolida, wasn't it?" he asked. He wondered again what this was about.

"Keep watching."

"The senate agreed that was normal raiding error, well within the parameters of-"

"Just keep watching, Elleke."

As he watched, fainter green runes were inscribed across the map. Their locations were only estimates, some estimates of estimates. As the precision varied, so the area enclosed by the runes widened. The data had been uploaded from the Inqusition tracking module lodged deep in the heart of the hulk which had recently ravaged Bolida. The Navy ships engaging the hulk had relayed the information without knowing what it was, until it reached an astropath in the Ordo's employ. The hulk had eventually retreated to the warp, but not before the trace had been completed.

The data laid before Boehmer had been gathered by the patient tracking module from all its contact with the other tracking modules, expensive machines fired at hulks in even more expensive missiles from horrifically close range. Men had died for over a century to lay these trails before him. Nigh on seventy hulks were represented, in varying states of accuracy. The system was impressive, but by no means perfect - at least twenty of the modules had been confirmed as misreporting or silent in recent years. The hulks destroyed, or the machine spirits driven insane by the warp.

As hulks showed up in Imperial systems and confronted Navy ships, the positions were refreshed and updated. Boehmer reminded himself that these few minutes were summing up the past three years of intra-sector travel. If he cared to look, he'd be able to find the Invali, with himself onboard it, as he endured the constant trouble-hopping he had been engaged in for the past five years. Those parts that made it to naval records, anyway.

"Collision between XF01 and ER19," Boehmer said as he spotted it. "Normal inter-body conflict."

"Keep watching."

Boehmer frowned at Morbent's attitude. Were this any other institution, his colleague could've simply told him what to look for. Like many of his rank, Morbent suffered from an almost childish obsession with mystery, even in his day-to-day activities.

Then he saw it. A group of hulks in the northeast of the map, previously following the normal erratic patterns, suddenly changed their behaviour drastically. An update from Holdat 5 showed them converging in deep space, away from any attractive targets. Another showed them gone, only to reappear in a partial update four months later, travelling at a breakneck pace past the outskirts of the Rajiel system.

"What on Terra are they doing?" Boehmer cried, stabbing at the runes for extra information. He was well used to certain xenos breeds being ineffable in their motivations, but the green menace had never caused him intellectual strain before. Orks simply did not act like that. Orks fought, killed, raided and spread in set patterns. Monotonously dangerous and occasionally cunning, only major cultural upheavals allowed for this sort of rapid, unpredicted behavioural change.

The last update in the relay had the hulks lost in a haze of potential around the Olynthus subsector. Boehmer scanned the area for anything known to be a magnet for the Orks. Nothing. There were many worlds, but none of them known as prior Ork worlds. None of the planets were particularly choice as raiding targets, and nor were any of them so powerful as to draw the attention of a fledgling Waaagh. The only target he could pick out was Hartok, an important pillar in the local Guard structure, and even that wouldn't seem to necessitate the cross-sector dash. He turned and looked at Morbent.

"Needless to say, the models are proving somewhat... inaccurate," the wizened old Inquisitor breathed. "We just received a new update yesterday." He tapped a digit on the side of the display, and a new set of hulk positions dropped into place. Boehmer stared at them for a minute, gathering his cool.

"This makes no sense," he stated flatly. "There must be some other factor. The model is correct, we know that, it's the information which is flawed."

"Inahdus is not going to see it that way," Morbent rattled warningly. Boehmer pinched his brow at the thought of what the project's most vocal opponent would make of this.

"He's going to see this as validation," Boehmer muttered. "He'll disregard the previous successes as flukes and raise the whole question of whether the greenskins can be predicted at all."

Morbent nodded sagely. "Haldor lost an arm to a greenskin warboss. He'll give Inahdus a hearing on those grounds. He's always itching to divert efforts into the field, too. He doesn't consider work like ours 'valiant' enough for agents of the Inquisition."

Boehmer refused to chew old complaints. He nodded briefly at Morbent's assessment of the situation and thought about his next move. This project was not the most popular, and nor was it ever going to be. He sponsored it because, amongst the many madcap and reckless policies favoured by his predecessors, it had stood out as a piece of solid, promising work. It was standing mostly on its own feet, and winning grudging respect in some quarters. Inahdus would have to work hard to shut them down.

"We'll have to assess the threat on the ground," he mused. "We need to produce evidence of something unusual, something which upsets the models. Haldor won't even give us a shot without that."

"There's no 'we' on the ground, Elleke," Morbent chuckled. "I'll mind your machines and models here - Emperor knows it beats sitting in on the endless meetings - but I'm not trotting halfway across the sector to ask some greenskin Waaaghlord what he thinks he's doing. I got out of that game years ago."

Boehmer suppressed a sigh. Egocentricity was another common foible amongst the oldest Inquisitors. He had no intention of spending any more time with Morbent than he had to.

"No matter," he replied, trying to make it sound like he was covering some disappointment. It was a token effort, he didn't particularly care if it was convincing. "Can I at least rely on you to support the project when Inahdus weasels this out?"

Morbent projected disaffection poorly.

"I suppose I could raise myself to that," he said. Boehmer could see the gleam in the man's eyes at the thought of bellowing something truly contentious across the meeting halls. No doubt it would add some spice to the man's life.

His own was starting to seem somewhat overflavoured. As spiced as a Bolidan suava dish, in fact. Three months back and already another field stint looming. A frontline one, at that. He glanced at the display again, the cascade of overlapping green runes. Fine. Olynthus Prime it was.

As the misty veil of Albion is cast aside, we turn our gaze to the war-torn island of Albany, where the Red King vies with his former master for the control of a realm in dire threat.
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