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Perfect Warriors

Discussion in 'Role Playing' started by Colapse, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. Imperius matt23 Curator

    @DeranVendar
    Arnock smiled as he watch Extrovious bark out orders to his new recruits. It brought back memories of a time where the fourth squad all fell under Extrovious, though back then the squad leader was seemingly a whole different person. Arnock listened to Extrovious then address him about the state of the recruits. The Master of Rites nodded his head and spoke, "Soldiers are a reflection of their leadership. I was blessed in this aspect in the past, so I try to pass it on. This is something I hope these new recruits you take experience as well. These are dark times, brother, and these recruits will need your leadership more than they will ever understand. We are right and just in this calling for for vengeance, and it will be up to you to lead them in that mindset." Arnock then placed his hand to his chest and spoke one last time, "I look forward to seeing you next time, brother."

    @Uriel1339
    Arnock nodded a moment, before he spoke, "I have heard a great many things, Prodah. However, are we not all rewarded and punished for the deeds we commit? Elymas killed the treacherous leader, Apox and saved the standard bear of the loyalist forces. Is this not worthy of recognition? I was given this new armor inspite of my failure. So whom do you think is more worthy?"

    Arnock then stood up and sighed as he heard the question that had been asked to him many times before. He then spoke with a heavy heart, "You must understand that when the Edict was passed, there were no thoughts of traitors in our midst. So, taking this into account, the Emperor's judgement was clouded by the word of serpents. I do not in the least agree with the Edict. I have said this to Elymas, Extrovious, Sidon, and Minteril. My thoughts will not be swayed on this matter by the opinions of those whom do not understand anything but the words they hear. We are meant to use logic and understanding to move forward in life, so why would we not use it now?"
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  2. Brother_Draconion Draconion Well-Known Member

    Ferrum Operibus

    Location: The Sovereign, Forge decks.

    Date and Time: Shortly before Sidon's equipment upgrade briefing.

    Sparks fly, intermittently illuminating the sullen red gloom of the main workshop with harsh actinic flare. Vitaly, the newly-promoted Forgemaster, stands before a suit of Cataphractii warplate, putting on the finishing touches to the third redundant shield generator on the very obviously oversized, overengineered, and under-adorned unit that is very clearly designed to take an even bigger beating than the average Cataphract, and dish it out in return. Finishing the welding and riveting of the external plates, he then deploys other mechadendrites to buff down the seams, polishing the as-yet unpainted plates to a fine finish that will help blows slide off and give chemical corrosives minimal purchase. Such fine work, he prefers to do himself on bespoke commissions, not trusting even high-grade servitors to possess the degree of motor control and visual acuity to do the job.

    A dispassionate once-over satisfies him that the work is within acceptable parameters, and he steps back to allow Forge serfs to move in along with servitors to complete the multi-layered paint and varnishing work, coating the metal in no less than six layers of high-durability protective paint and other coatings to defract energy fire, bond the surface against kinetic impact, and provide additional barriers to chemical attack and biological infiltration. The serfs droop in exhaustion, having been driven hard by Vitaly's uncompromising pace. A twinge of irritation quirks the Forgemaster's face behind the blank, eyeless helm of his new custom armour as his augurs relay their lifesigns to him, indicating an unacceptable drop in performance standards. With a curt gesture, he dismisses those serfs and sends them to an enforced six-hour rest period, releasing in the meanwhile more servitors from reserve to fill the gaps. The weaknesses of unenhanced flesh are an ever-present thorn in his side, but coercing performance from terminally fatigued mortals with threats and violence is generally unproductive - save in extremis - to say nothing of a marked departure from the ideals of the Imperial Truth.

    As it is, the serfs already tread warily around Vitaly where once they were like friends and respected colleagues. His by-now constant brooding silences and blunt, curt speech are underlaid by barely-leashed menace, the constant promise of violence roiling beneath his icy exterior, never more than a careless word or an ill-timed piece of news away. Thus far, he has not raised a hand to anyone not a traitor, but has made it a point to personally conduct executions on known and proven traitors whenever possible - Astartes and mortal alike - disposing of them in the most expedient and ignominous manner possible. Thirty serfs of various rankings have already been summarily executed at his hands for aiding traitor Astartes in hiding during the purge of the Sovereign. The subtext, far as the survivors are concerned, is clear.

    Fail to meet my expectations, and suffer a like fate.

    Casting an eye over the rest of the bespoke commissions ordered by the Lord Praetor, he plays his augurs over the gear once more, assuring himself that all the artificed weapons and armour meet his uncompromising standards.

    An ornate suit of Cataphractii armour, decorated with symbols of Unity and Imperium - the mandate of command clearly broadcast from its heraldry.

    A psyker-modified suit in Librarius blue that elicits a twitch under his eye.

    The built-up suit from before, along with a massive power sword and a storm shield like a tomb slab.

    A customised suit of Apothecary power armour with a comprehensive built-in medicae suite, accompanied by a disruptor field-enhanced chainsword.

    A duelling-optimised suit incorporating the latest servomotor and articulation technology from the new Mk VI suits, overengineered for dexterity and stealth, and incorporating wrist-mounted flamers. A new energy weapon on Vitaly's recently-upgraded cybermantle twitches as the Forgemaster ruminates on future upgrades to what he considers to be a prosaic and inadequate weapon for the struggle ahead.

    An ornate, ancient-styled unit, accompanied by the equally-classical combination of shield and spear, meant for the one responsible for this entire commission.

    He and his brothers are marching into a war the likes of which humanity has never seen. Nothing less than the best will see them through - nothing less than perfection. And Vitaly Sokolovsky will not be found wanting in his contributions. He will not be the weak link. As the serfs finish their work, Vitaly gives them the signal to begin transporting the finished works back to the ceremonial vaults, where presentation will be made in a day's time. He himself has opted not to attend the investiture ceremony so as to catch up on his own work. His own equipment upgrades are complete - new weapons bristle from his cybermantle, and his bespoke armour, modified from a piece of unknown provenance, slithers with alien, insectile grace, its segmented plates whispering across one another while a blank, eyeless helm further completes the disturbing assemblage.

    Casting an eye about the main workshop, he notes that, for once, all the Covenants have at least one member present.

    No time like the present, then.

    A blurt of binharic goes out, and the HUD rune for 'assemble/fall in' blinks on in the helms of all Techmarines present in the Forge space. As they all leave aside their work and converge on their new Forgemaster, Vitaly casts an eye over the assembly. He notes a lot of new faces - slightly over half of the more senior Techmarines had sided with the traitors, and they and the loyalists had thinned each other's ranks significantly. Of the old hands that remain, he knows that they are still adjusting to him as the figure of authority. In his old life, he had been a rising star for certain, but always a colleague, always 'one of the boys,' never a commander. He had been too boyish, too eager, too good-natured to be taken seriously as an officer among battle-brothers. Things would have to change.

    A boy would have to die, as would much else that was of the flesh, for the iron to emerge.

    "Brothers. Attend."

    His voice is a dry rasp, throat parched from often full-day work cycles without rest or nourishment, but carries with metallic strength across the cavernous workshop bay.

    "I need not rehash our circumstances. You have all lived through them. You all know the stakes. We stand on the edge of a war unlike any other in human history. Our brothers depend on us to survive and win, for our foes are unlike any other that we have ever faced. They are Astartes, just as we are, and in facing our twisted and broken reflection, it will be our commitment to duty, to upholding standards, to uncompromising discipline that will see us through. For, make no mistake, brothers - it was laxity that brought the Legion to such a pass. Small compromises led to greater compromises. A moment's laxity, repeated often enough, spawned betrayal from whence there is no return. If we are to win against the enemy in this war, we can only do so by being better than them. And that means being more dedicated, more determined than them."

    Another glance around the gathered Covenants. The juniors are hanging on his every word, their faces expectant and serious. The seniors - his contemporaries, one or two even senior - stand respectfully silent and solemn, many visibly uncomfortable with this character about-face in 'good old Vitaly'.

    Good. Make them uncomfortable. Familiarity breeds contempt. Unpredictability elicits caution and respect.

    "Given our crucial place in the war effort, we cannot afford any laxity on our part. Where one of us fails, ten brothers - or more - may die. For the want of a nail, a rivet, a weld, an Astartes may fall, and thence a battle may be lost, and a war may turn. So, brothers, we will take together an oath of moment that will stand for all time. The Forge Department deals in iron. So we must lead by example, and be ourselves iron. Swear now with me."

    A mental flex, and the script of a ritual call-and-response series of oaths flashes upon the HUDs of all the Techmarines present. Without warning, the pommel of Vitaly's Omnissian Axe crashes down upon the deck plates at his feet, causing the entire assembly to stiffen and stand up straight.

    "Brothers! Declare yourselves!"

    The harsh, metallic rasp is answered by some thirty-odd transhuman voices bellowing in reply.

    "We are the Forge, and our works are iron!"

    *CRASH*


    "By what right are your works called iron?"

    "Because our strength is iron!"

    *CRASH*

    "Wherefore is your strength iron?"

    "Because our honour is iron!"

    *CRASH*

    "Whence claim you such honour?"

    "Because our oaths are iron!"

    *CRASH*

    "Declare then your oaths!"

    "To tend the blades and plate of our brothers, that they may never fail!

    To shepherd the machines of the Legion, to slay the traitor wherever he may be found!

    To keep the Emperor's laws, and stand a bulwark against laxity, deviancy, and treason!"


    *CRASH*

    Together with the rest of the Forge, Vitaly bellows the final phrase of the litany.

    "We are the Forge, and we are iron!"

    As the last echoes ring away into silence, Vitaly speaks once more.

    "Dismissed, brothers. Return to your duties."

    Watching as the Techmarines - singly and in Convenants - drift away back to their work, he reflects on the theatre that has just concluded. A necessary part of leadership - knowing how to put on a show for those being led, and elicit the proper emotions in any given context for motivation. His former self was an Emperor's Child through and through, with all the appreciation for drama and storyteling that entailed, but simply no desire to use such acumen. This new him, on the other hand, felt nothing. The entire exercise that had just concluded was nothing more than a social construct with a practical end, the intangible equivalent of building a bridge by blueprint. In the purging of the Sovereign, he had excised a piece of his own humanity.

    He had told himself that it was a necessary sacrifice for dark days ahead. It had been a logical, considered decision. Or so he kept telling himself. Whatever the case, for now, at least, the memory of what had once occupied the hole in his psyche - he refused to use the word 'soul' - was sufficient to understand the emotive nature of leadership, and manipulate the variables accordingly. Perhaps that would atrophy in time, but that would be a problem for later.

    There were plenty other problems right now.

    Putting to the Question @Colapse @Vulpas

    Location: The Sovereign, Primary Apothecarion.

    Date and Time: During auto-seance interrogation of Apox.

    As the severed head of Apox comes to a ghastly form of quasi-animation with a groan - emanating from the machinery that interprets nerve impulses as speech, the head no longer have lungs or vocal cords attached - Vitaly looks at Jendon before deciding to lead the interrogation. A silent pulse of information to Jendon's helmet HUD clues the Apothecary in on his game.

    +++I'm going to take him back in time a little bit.+++

    With Tleilaxu giving them a tight estimated time window of viability, he decides to go the deceptive route. Adjusting the cerebral input to upregulate Apox's theta waves - putting the man in a more somnolent, dream-like state to keep him disoriented, he speaks.

    "Commander Apox, Captain Alexios reporting," says Vitaly, impersonating an officer - a known traitor felled during the purge - familiar to himself, recreating the man's voice with filters drawn from recorded speech samples, "We have finally made contact with the stranded units on the surface of Laer...rather, under the surface. They have apparently been trapped in oceanic depths for all this time. We are about to proceed with extraction. Have you any further orders regarding their...processing?"

    Vitaly adds a conspiratorial inflection to the final word, inviting Apox to fill in the details himself.

    Duty Beyond Death @dx144 @DeranVendar @Vulpas @Colapse

    Location: The Sovereign, Forge decks, main Dreadnought service bays.

    Date and Time: Pholax's first awakening.

    When Extrovious comes clumping into the Dreadnought service bay in his shiny - well, more like grim - new suit of Terminator armour, Vitaly turns to give Millennial's new executioner a curt nod before indicating to him to stay behind the hazard stripes on the floor. This was a delicate process at the best of the times, and the vibrations of Terminator armour could cause subtle errors to creep into the mind-machine interface in this unstable period. A spike of brain activity leads to a sustained plateau, Pholax unexpectedly self-awakening several minutes ahead of schedule. The Contemptor, with its primary motor functions disabled but its senses fully operational, trains said senses on the hulking figure in Cataphractii armour, and Pholax's voice booms through the vox. Vitaly lets the two banter for a minute or two, then takes advantage of a lull to insert himself into the interaction to continue with calibrations.

    "Brother Pholax - can you wiggle your fingers and toes for me?" he says.

    If and when Pholax does so, he will find the Dreadnought's motor functions still disabled, as Vitaly is currently looking for spikes in descending motor impulses to calibrate the Dreadnought's servos to their occupant.

    "You won't actually find anything moving," he clarifies, "But I need you to try."
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  3. DeranVendar DeranVendar Subordinate

    A Path of Blood, Bone and Fire
    "Do you mean the wolves? The phoenix?" Extrovious steps up to the railing, taking his place in the dream like a dedicated actor. Panoply of war clashes harshly with the surroundings, and each heavy step pregnant with a pause, as if uncertain whether to stomp through the floor or carry forward. Extrovious looks down into Tizca, its beauty undeniable in spite of the abhorrent craft that made it so. Eye lifts to the silhouette of a spire, its glassy surface shading from a crystalline matte that blazes with the colors of sunset to a sinuous strand of black set against the skyline. Forgetting a presence such as the Crimson King's, or any Primarch's for that matter, was unfathomable, and whether he stood in the midst of rift made real, hallucination or another of the Thousand Sons programmed memories, the warrior can only submit to it, skin too tired to crawl after the long slog of the purges, and mind welcoming a distraction from the betrayal and lucidity. Can you even hear me? Or am I merely meant to watch? Exhaling through his nose, Extro finds himself briefly transfixed by the night cloaked spire; the way it curves and the means that shaped it, almost familiar in a sense, he swore the shadow was beginning to waver as if alive.

    @Colapse

    Pholax Reborn
    "Praetor." Extrovious waves his shield in respectful salute, taking a step to the side to allow Sidon a more centered spot at the hazard striped edging Vitaly had previously directed him to remain at the threshold of. Gaze sweeps to Pholax, Sergeant shaking his head gently. "So grievous a battle I wish it never been fought brother. There is pride and shame in equal measure, but I have not come to speak of such things with you, nor to weary you away with much more sentiment than is necessary. It reached my ears that the Master of the Forge was to have you undergoing some calibration and maintenance, and I thought it appropriate to come pay my respects and congratulate you on waking back up."

    @dx144 @Draconion
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  4. Uriel1339 Uriel1339 Lord of Posts

    ~~ Lexicanium Errands - Prodah the Lost Warrior-Witch ~~
    @matt23

    Prodah grinned at the reply, looking up at the Master of Rites while still seated. "Some say that your plead for logic in that particular matter is because the witch corrupted you. We have heard the tales while you and the others of you squad were in... that time bubble." Arnock could tell by the delay that Prodah in his new role as Lexicanium might quite just have an idea of what they encountered, but the Sergeant did not want to give the information up, or maybe it simply did not matter at this time.

    "The tales of Elymas having managed to charm foes before. One of his surviving brethren spoke of it in disgust or envy, now that I understand a little how these things work, I believe it much to be the latter." He made a waving gesture to dismiss the overall statement.

    "Either way, I would love to give into the sense of logic. But with a broadened horizon, how can one stay focused on that? I do not ask you to understand, but with the metaphysical realm opened to one... Simple things became... Complicated. Life and Death are not even as black and white as they used to be. But let me ask you one very last thing before we part, Master of Rites."

    Prodah got up to his feet to be on eye level with Arnock. "If we meet Fulgrim on the battlefield. How are we supposed to kill him?" It was a serious question, his eyes squinted as if to attempt the fire burning within. Arnock might even have caught a lightning or two as Prodah clenched his fists, trying to keep his unlocked powers under control. And as such the older warrior, but young librarian in terms of training revealed his intentions. To master his powers for nothing but fight the arch-traitor of the legion.
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  5. Imperius matt23 Curator

    @Uriel1339

    Arnock nodded listening to Prodah share with him more rumors from within the Millenial. Arnock then spoke in a tone that showed he cared little for rumors, "They shall always talk about what they think they know, won't they? Actions are the only concrete evidence we have now. So to give in to rumors shall only fracture us further. So, as to what happen down in that darkness, I shall be much more on guard of my mind than I ever was before. And I shall leave it at that."

    Arnock's anger seemed to grow at the mention of the false father and his voice reflected such as he spoke, "Do not forget we are all human. And Fulgrim is no different in that regard. A sword, from within our loyal brethren, shall be the one to take his life. It must be, for this is the only way to restore our honor and right what has been wronged." Arnock's hand fell to the handle of his sword, Perfectus Mortem, before he continued, "And I will do all I can to make this sword the one that does it... Even if that means forfeiting my life in exchange."
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  6. Uriel1339 Uriel1339 Lord of Posts

    ~~ Lexicanium Errands - Prodah the Lost Warrior-Witch ~~
    @matt23

    Prodah smiled and nodded. "As much as I would like to see that happen. I would rather bet my life on our Legion Champion delivering said blow. But in the end, your anger shows me that I came to you for the right reasons. I felt lost, but your anger, your determination that comes from it and the demand to fulfill your goal. It showed me the light I sought for." The Sergeant nodded idly.

    "Thank you for your time, Arnock. There is a reason why Sidon and Minteril like you, just make sure to keep them on their tracks too and not let them derail, yes? Would be a shame if we come back from this just to be snuffed out like a burned out candle." Prodah offered his arm in a warrior's grip.
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  7. Colapse Colapse Forum Beta Tester

    A Path of Blood, Bone and Fire
    @DeranVendar

    "Which wolves exactly? The howlers or the stalkers?" Magnus asked and turned to face Extrovious. His eyes were gleaming, the reflection of the city and the night's sky dancing on those fiery orbs. It was there for an instant, but then the Primarch of the Thousand Sons shuddered and his form shifted, remaining out of sync as if he was just an unfinished painting on the wall.

    "Extrovious, I can hear you clearly," the Cyclops spoke again, taking a step back to sit down on the couch behind them, allowing for his body to realign itself back to normal. Extrovious saw the Primarch many times and he could remember what it was like when he was in his presence. This was nothing like it at all.

    "I'm here, so it means that the barrier is broken," he continued, talking more to himself now while Tizca was glowing beneath them, the jewel of the Imperium just like Extrovious remembered it to be before he left Prospero and returned to his parent Legion. "Impossible...it happened too soon," trailing off, Magnus suddenly reached out and gripped Extro's arm, but surprisingly, there was no strength behind it, it felt more like his thoughts were being directed at something else, rather than his body.

    "What triggered it? Was it the aliens?"
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  8. DeranVendar DeranVendar Subordinate

    A Path of Blood, Bone and Fire
    Stood there, dwarfed even in war plate akin to that of a tank's, Extrovious felt small. Never could the physical presence of a Primarch be denied, not in physical dimensions, but in aura and grandeur of mind, the impossible was happening and the son of Fulgrim felt no awe. Whatever power suffused this place emptied itself to Extro, something in Magnus' tone and stance reminding him of Iskander when he had sought Extrovious, and by extension, Fulgrim's approval of their craft. Without withdrawing his limb, man squares himself up, head and upper body tilting back some to regard the Cyclops.

    "It was one of the Neverborn. One of the very things you and all like you consort with, be it in secret or ignorance. It attacked us upon Laer, it and the xeno themselves did something awful to the minds of my brethren." Mouth sets into a stern frown, eyes alight with more life than he had felt since the first raising of blade against brother. "The wolves are coming. Not for my sake, but they shall take a pound of flesh for me unintentionally. You have violated more than the Edict, and justice shall be met. I maintain the foolish hope that perhaps you shall see past your own arrogance and submit to it, spare this galaxy yet more fratricide."
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  9. Jorimel Jorimel Well-Known Member

    My Brother and I Against the World

    "Eleven ..." Aleph said, silent for a moment then. "I know it is vain to chide myself for being stuck in the Apothecarion, but nonetheless it should have been me. I should have performed this duty and instead, you took it upon yourself. Don't think for a moment I am chastising you, Brother, for I am not. I thank you for doing so. It was right and proper. I will find rites for the dead and I will honour them; they died loyal to the Emperor. I could do no less." As Brona continued, the weight of what he had witnessed - what he had done, alone, without a Squad, with no Palatine Brothers - sank in to Aleph's mind more fully, and he looked at the younger man, seeing past the fatigue and loss. He set his hands on the other's shoulders, not really knowing how to comfort the other soldier but wanting to make contact to underline the sincerity of his words.

    "Because you are not a traitor."

    "I knew that as soon as I saw you strike to aid me. You were a man tricked, betrayed by those he trusted, manipulated. I do not say this to mark you as a fool. Cautorious knew what you wanted, because it was what we all wanted: to join the elite, to be a Palatine Blade." He sat back a little, not wanting to crowd one already taking so much in. "He offered me nebulous promises of furthering my training and his patronage. At that time, there looked - there was - no reason to believe he would ever act against everything we hold in honour. Certainly I knew he had his own political aims in mind, but they were simple gains in Legion power back then. Now ... whatever infection has seized him, it did not take root in you. Not truly. You kept your reasoning ability and you weighed your opponent as all warriors must. You were not a traitor, Brona, because you saw the truth once you faced me. You knew I was loyal to the Emperor and the principles of the Phoeni- and of the Phoenician." Do we say it here, even amongst ourselves? Do we speak freely of the inconceivable? "Fulgrim may have abandoned us, many think so, I fear it is true. But what he taught us - to strive for perfection, with honour - that is an ideal that cannot be tarnished."

    "Nor can honest hearts. You did what was right once you discerned it, and you thought for yourself. Not as an extension of Cautorious' will or a power-hungry fool. As for Cautorious himself I don't know if he allowed himself to be subjected to whatever vileness Vasil harboured inside him. But I suspect not. He is at once too vain and too cautious. He doesn't like risks." Aleph paused. He needed to make this decisive, to make Brona understand that he was not at fault. Guilt was corrosive. Like shame. He took a second's pause, conjuring up the memory in his perfect Astartes recall.

    "When he canvassed me to join the Company Palatine he arranged a meeting with me in the midst of twenty or so of those already initiated, among the brightest and the best. A few of them were toying with some Orkish prisoners by duelling with them in twos or threes - six of the brutes, hulking ones too. I felt as if I had walked into a lair of predators that had lately feasted and were watching me with lazy, sated eyes yet with appetites still sharp. I understood, then, that I would not walk out of that meeting with the word "No" on my lips."

    "The Orks were a disposal service, Brona. If I had refused the offer Cautorious made, I would have been reported a tragic accident, a foolish young swordsman who thought he would show off to his betters by taking on six zenos champions at once. Of course, since I had yearned to be a Palatine Blade since I was old enough to draw, there was no question. He offered me my hearts' desire and I said yes."

    "But if I had said no, I would be dead."

    "He doubted your loyalty to him, which is why he sent you to me. Did it really matter how I died? Ask yourself: would a headshot from the darkness of a conduit have been less effective? The result would still be Alephoros dead. He wanted to test your will to serve him and he used your desire to become a Palatine Blade as the bait. Killing me was not the point, only a bonus. He either got rid of a wavering soldier, or a troublesome duellist. As for Vasil, I don't think he truly mattered. Cautorious got to see how the - augmentations? surgery? virus? I do not know - how it worked in combat against a strong foe. How much it could overcome."

    "So many possible wins for Cautorious, at so little cost. And if you won out, then he got you too."

    "He did not. Just as I took up his offer, you followed his directive but like me, you did not give up your Will."

    "That is why you are here. You were innocent. We do not exist to punish the innocent, only the guilty."

    A shudder passed through him that he could not quite repress. "My brother is a sly creature. He has a dark heart but he hides it very well with his charades. Compassion to hide selfishness. Quest for perfection to hide arrogance and vanity. He will fail you Aleph and when he does so, you will remember this moment, this room and my words ..."

    "There are so many guilty, Brona, but we will find them. And you are not among them."
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  10. Jorimel Jorimel Well-Known Member

    Earlier, the Lunchtime of Champions

    Aleph listened as he first made his way to the refectory, then as he collected his food, just nodding now and then as the formerly shy Astartes found his words once more. In truth, Alephoros felt slightly bemused. He supposed that, with the title of Champion, he would have to get used to this kind of approach from the newer ranks, at least now and then. An unjustified sense of awe, in his opinion, based on a man who just did his job.

    But as much as he felt that to be the case, Legionary Aster knew the value of morale. Especially at this moment. Every hero the Third had, it needed. And at a time like this, the loyal Emperor's Children must now make their own legends. Sidon had shielded him from politics by appointing him Champion, but he could not save him from fame. This was a challenge he would have to face up to on his own. And so, as he always strove to do with any challenge, Aleph stepped up as he sat down.

    "Well, usually, one only hears about the Sulpha if one is talking to one of the Sulpha," he said, with a small smile. "Which is not to say that it is a forbidden subject, but rather not a popular one. We are a vanished people, and just one among many of Chemos' tribes." He frowned slightly at Remus' talk of Chemos being destroyed. The homeworld of the Third was far from the battlefront of the Great Crusade, and the Phoenician had not been home in a great while. Did he even still think about the world that had borne him, now that he was consumed by ... if he had been consumed by this? Surely if Fulgrim was done with his Legion, he was done with Chemos? But then, phoenixes did have a penchant for burning their nests.

    He put it from his mind as he sipped at his drink. Something Jendon had contrived, a blend of fruits mostly. Healthful, no doubt.

    "As for me, I am a halfbreed, Remus. " Aleph allowed himself a little grin at that. "My mother was Sulpha, and my grandfather settled down with us when he became too old to travel easily as he once had done. They were desert nomads, the Sulpha, and my mother met my father at an oasis as they came to trade. I understand that he had to go to great lengths to impress my grandparents to allow their daughter to marry a foreigner. As my father told it, he had to beat my grandfather at swordplay. As my grandfather told me, he let him win."

    "'Love triumphs over the blade,' he said, which to be honest I don't think I have the schooling to comprehend, because," Aleph shrugged a little, spreading out his hands, "so many tales demonstrate that it certainly doesn't grant immunity from beheading. But anyhow I get my green eyes from my father, but in everything else I am apparently a typical Sulpha man. Being so pale of skin the tribe had always taken great pains to cover up against the sun and as the climate of Chemos deteriorated it served us well with regard to acid rains, wirestorms and so forth. My grandfather always felt that he let down his heritage by living out his days in the oasis town, but after my grandmother died he had no-one to remain in the tribe for, and my mother insisted. She wanted him to teach me. And so he did. The earliest memories I have are of him. That, and climbing a palm tree."

    "There is more, but I'm not honestly sure of the value of my personal minutiae, and I am fairly certain that there wasn't anything written down in the Librarium here about my tribe. It was, after all, just one among many and long gone. I mean to say, I can tell you more, but is it really of interest to anyone?"

    "Except the swordplay, of course. That will be part of what I will teach the Palatine Blades under my tutelage."

    @Uriel1339
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