he plummeted from the stone parapet towards the temple floor below.
The thought of the sepulchre world he had visited over four decades ago unearthed bitter memories for Dak'ir. It was there that Ushorak had lost his life, and that Nihilan's vendetta had been born.
Without war, are obsolete. War is my clenched fist, the burning in my marrow. It is glory and renown. It gives us purpose. I it! What would we do if all the wars were to end? What use are we to
weak on Stratos… but it began on Moribar,' he rasped. 'I curse Kadai for that. For
'Abandon hope, all ye who enter…'
on long-range reconnoitre in the Hadron Belt. The strike cruiser
opening and easing to the deck with a metallic
added Amadeus, stomping over to the Librarian. '
'As you command, sire!'
'We're in one of the ship's entry conduits,' offered Emek, flamer low-slung as he panned it back and forth with smooth sweeps. He had been promoted to special weapons trooper after the campaign on Stratos. The previous incumbent, Brother Ak'sor, had died during the engagement. He had been one of several Fire-born lost on that world. 'It leads into the bowels of the Archimedes Rex,'
with caution, following the route established by Brother Emek and inloaded to Brother Iagon's auspex. They passed through cargo zones, abandoned crew quarters and vast assembly yards fed by the forge-engines from below decks. The further into the ship they travelled, the more frequent the discovery of servitors became. Unlike those on the foundry floor in the bowels of the
Alcoves recessed into the walls punctuated regimental lines of bulkheads and were minor chapels of devotion to the Omnissiah. Incense burners hung from chains looped under the vaulted ceilings, emanating strange aromas reminiscent of oil and metal. Designed to appease and mollify the machine-spirits, these lightly smoking braziers were ubiquitous throughout the
the act of righteous slaughter. He killed with abandon, seeking out targets even before he'd despatched the last. Every servitor that came within reach was cut down with ruthless efficiency. He decapitated one with his combat blade, a spinal column of wires and rigid cabling left protruding from the servitor's ruined neck. Another he gutted, tearing out a handful of lubricant-wet wires like intestines. Tsu'gan used his fist like a hammer, brutally pounding bone and metal with every wrath-fuelled blow.
he thought, derision creasing his face behind his battle-helm as he glanced in Dak'ir's direction,
Tsu'gan was determined that the debt would not last.
of bolter fire emanating from the gantries. Something heavier accompanied it, a dense
I am Sergeant Lorkar,' the yellow-armoured Astartes spoke in a grating whisper, 'of the Marines Malevolent.'
Fugis had remained with the rest of 3rd Company on the
the Salamanders had neither seen nor detected another vessel. Dak'ir could only assume the
You may lay claim to nothing, and will release the
or rather a close up view of a section of its generatoria unseen from the
will respond to mine,' N'keln replied curtly. 'Escort my men back to the
risk the capriciousness of the teleportarium or its captain's spite, Pyriel transported the errant Salamanders back aboard the
?' asked Ba'ken as they waited for the cryo-caskets to be secured aboard the The Thunderhawk had been waiting for them upon their return to the fighter bay. So too was the together with its capable guardian, Brother Amadeus. The Dreadnought was now secured in his grav-scaffold as the Salamanders made ready to depart the
had returned to Nocturne several days earlier. Of the seven Mechanicus adepts in the cryo-caskets salvaged from the
on the Cindara Plateau. Several of his brothers went immediately to their training regimen or summoned brander-priests for excoriation in the solitoriums; others made for their respective townships or settlements. Dak'ir chose the workshops and spent his time at the forge. The events aboard the
might mean. There was a thread of belief that, given the inauspicious times, it might pertain to the location where the primarch had sought solitude following the cessation of the Heresy. Tsu'gan doubted that greatly. He was a pragmatist, certainly too level-headed to indulge in such remote theories. He believed in what he could see, what he could touch. Tsu'gan knew of only one way to resolve a crisis: meet it head on with determination and resolve. With that in mind, while he awaited the Pantheon's findings, he had convened a meeting of his own. Several sergeants had been present, colluded by Iagon, impelled by Tsu'gan's shining Promethean example and the respect afforded to him by his contemporaries. They were there at his request, after all, to address a ''serious concern'' within the company. The subject of the secret assembly, conducted in one of the fortress monastery's few, and barely used, dormitories, was N'keln. Tsu'gan recalled it now, the guilt of the union merging with that he associated with Kadai's death, as he walked down the black marble corridors of the gallery.
'Ally with me in going to the Chapter Master and suing for the removal of N'keln as captain.'
Even then, through a fog of despair, Tsu'gan had witnessed the truth in N'keln's heart. Duty would not allow the veteran sergeant to refuse; prudence should have
and the subsequent translation to the Marines Malevolent ship,
bloody,' he went on, 'Deathfire given up its sons.' He clenched a fist to emphasise his zeal. These are the scriptures of the Tome of Fire, as left to us by our primarch. And in this,' he brandished the chest found on the in the other hand like a holy icon, 'he has shown us
shall shine the torch of enlightenment upon it, brothers. The storms have cleared and the way is open once again. Look to the skies of Nocturne!' The mercurial Chaplain sprang into animation again without warning, thrusting his hands down to indicate the planet below. 'A blood-red haze blots out our baleful sun. It matches a constellation of stars in this very system. At the heart of this celestial arrangement is a single planet, one lost to Imperial record for over ten thousand years -
From the corner of his helmet lens, he noticed the Firedrakes stomping towards
achieved loft, second behind its landing stanchions retracted. A roar of flame erupted from its fully-ignited engines, and the gunship sped upwards. tore right behind it. The gunships and followed in the aerial convoy. A trio of Thunderhawk transporters brought up the rear, bearing four Rhino APCs and the Land. Raider Redeemer,
to the bridge parted after a biometric scan ascertained Dak'ir's presence. A diminishing hiss of hydraulic pressure escaped into the air as the brother-sergeant passed through the portal to the command centre of the
a sudden shock wave ripping down its spine. The bridge shook. Dak'ir and several others lost their footing. A deep roar filled the hexagonal room. It sounded like fire, but it howled as if truly alive, searching voraciously for air to burn. The human crew, besides the servitors, covered their ears whilst trying to stay upright. The ship was bucking back and forth, tossed like a skiff upon a violent ocean. Consoles exploded, spitting sparks and going dead. Klaxons whined urgently, their warning drowned out by the raging tumult battering the
off his feet as a violent tremor rippled across the solitorium. Zo'kar yelped in pain as he was torn from the Salamander's grasp. A low rumble echoed through the chamber, followed by the sound of tearing metal and a crash of steel. Something fell from the ceiling and the brander-priest was lost from Iagon's view. Heaving himself up from his prone position, filtering out the sudden roar invading his senses, Iagon staggered through the half-dark until he came to a pile of wreckage. The ceiling of the solitorium had collapsed. Zo'kar's
was shuddering badly, jolting with severe force every few seconds or so. The Apothecary fought to keep himself steady, knowing that any small mistake would see the gland destroyed and Naveem's legacy ended, just like Kadai's.
parted company at the first intersection after leaving the bridge. Both sergeants had contacted their squads via the comm-feeds in their battle-helms. Salamanders were rapidly dispersing across the stricken decks, rescuing those who were trapped, quelling panic or opening up escape routes. The
he intoned in his head to steady himself.
distant battle-brothers with envious eyes. Behind him, the crash-landed strike cruiser loomed like a canted cityscape, bizarrely off-kilter. Even partially sunk into the ashen ground as it was, the
The tracked war machines, not unlike the mobile weapon platform that the Marines Malevolent had employed on the
The Chapter Master does what he must,' Tsu'gan replied, his temper fraying. 'He cannot ignore the possibility of the primarch's return, or even the chance to unearth the facts of his demise. brother, are not so shackled that we must believe what our eyes cannot see. he said, brandishing his bolter, 'and he slapped the pauldron of his armour, 'even Tsu'gan took up a fistful of ash, 'are real.
were dissipating slowly on the grey horizon. It was the last evidence of N'keln's muster from the Salamanders' encampment. Brother Argos had managed to release the land vehicles from the hold of the N'keln had taken the Land Raider,
but what you
overhead and struck the Land Raider's roof, spilling fire and shell debris like rain. Smoke dispersed quickly. The
,' asserted Dak'ir as he tested the weight of the steel cable spooling from the winch-rig. One of the Salamanders Techmarines had set up the climbing device and each of the six Fire-born standing at the threshold of the chasm that had opened next to the
he warned his brothers psychically,
The bolter in his hands, pressed against his temple, tool of his salvation…
a powerful voice intoned, eclipsing the beat of hammered metal. '
the chitin-beasts for generations,' growled Akuma, with a half-glance at the green-armoured warriors running alongside them. 'What do we need