<Council of the lost, earlier> @Jorimel @Draconion @DeranVendar @Grall_Stonefist @dx144 @Vulpas @Uriel1339 @matt23 Jendon could see the looks thrown his way after uttering something that would be considered completely blasphemous just couple of weeks ago. Now however, the situation has changed so much that it was impossible to tell where the line was. This of course, didn’t mean that every legionary of the Third Millennial made his peace with these terms. Couple of them shouted angrily, speaking about honor and the fact they would tarnish it even further if they would stoop down to these methods, but it was Nykar Kul who silenced them first. “As far as we are concerned, if you wish to paint your armor black and make the corvidae as your new symbol, do it,” the High Reclusiarch stated evenly, nodding in agreement with the Chief Apothecary. “It is of no importance. As long as it helps you don’t get shot at first glance, its fine by us. Hell, we can even help you attach it to your power armor.” This statement didn’t help much of course, but thankfully before an argument could break out Sidon spoke again, this time more resolute than before. “Forgemaster Sokolovsky has plenty on his plate now to have to deal with this as well, however if he should find time, I would allow it. Sound tactical choice or not, we are still Emperor’s Children and I want the traitors to look at us and know who killed them but on the other hand, this will cause other survivors, especially Iron Hands, to shoot first and ask questions later. So I leave this decision to each company’s Captain.” “Speaking of Iron Hands, once the repairs are complete, we will attempt to meet up with their command, or what’s left of it. Admiral de Beaumont managed to receive the message sent across the void, Gorgon’s sons are gathering in a nearby system and they were summoning everyone still loyal to get there as well, so we will take this chance and see if we could do something right for once. It’s a risk of course, but one that I’m willing to take.” An hour later, the council was finished and the troops dispersed. There were talks about man different things, from logistics to oaths of vengeance, pretty normal concerning the situation they found themselves in. Whatever each warrior brought with him after the meeting was his own but one thing was certain. Great Crusade ended in failure and a new time of uncertainty began. <Voices in the dark, "Sovereign's" Librarium> @Uriel1339 "As you wish, Lord Librarian," the Sergeant saluted, sharply ordering his men to leave the Librarium to its stewards. With three younger psykers going about their tasks, Elymas had the time to move after the familiar echo, the psychic trace of his old master growing stronger with each step he took. Symphonist found the center of it, lying on the ground behind one of the bookshelves far into the back of the chamber. He knew that he didn't put it there as the book was far too valuable to be discarded in such way, but still, the Hephaestus' journal was open right in front of him, the pages burning with blue lightning as the psyker approached it. Letters began appearing soon after, the late Chief Librarian's energy still held within the book. "Ever since my childhood, I always knew that I was meant for something greater. They came to my family's house late in the winter, given the fact we already bent the knee before the march across the Dinarites, it was expected that I was to be taken. So it was written, so it came to be." "Youthful spirit combined with raging spirit made unlocking my abilities easy for the old ones. They broke me of course, as was fitting, but in the fire I was remade anew, burning spear about to be unleashed on the enemies of the Master of Mankind." "Eerie wind blew across the high mountains as I watched the forests unfolding beneath us. The tower was built away from the main settlement, although the underground cave system spread far and wide all around us. I knew its was below, or at least that was what he made me think. It didn't matter. I understood the gravity of the situation, the task that was set before us was a great one indeed, but I was the warrior of the Third Legion, we knew nothing but perfection and he accepted nothing less." "I felt the smell of the burning flesh, this time it was my own. Hardly anything moved past the blockade and my thoughts immediately ran to the center of it. Prefect was there, thankfully, still alive. So were others of the Ten Thousand, but severely injured. Of my brothers, there was no trace. That's not entirely true, there were traces of them, all around me and I wept for the first time since I was reborn, my tears falling on ashen ground." "Something dark was in his gaze, something that made me flinch. He spoke the words so clearly, yet I couldn't find the meaning behind them. He grew wary, but so did I, our earlier talks now completely forgotten. I was given new orders, for there was no one else alive from my old masters, it fell to me to carry the task. Once again I heard the music and he made me remember that he heard it too. In time, I would understand the risk he took and the faith he put in all of us, but at that moment, I felt that I deserved it as much as I deserved the golden Aquila shining on my new breastplate." "Onward we went, into the stars, just two hundred of us. Brother Leonis led us into battle time and time again, but never were we given clearance to act alone. Always with someone else, but mostly with the wolves. Named after our birth-place, they were a force to be reckoned with and they loved competing with us, but where they had numbers we had the resolve to elevate ourselves. This changed when we found the First." "None could've prepared me for meeting our Father. He was everything I wanted to be and more. I wanted to tell him so much, to share the knowledge gathered, to learn from his deeds and soak in his radiance. I was given none of it. Task remained and protecting it meant for me that I had to stay away, no matter how much I wanted to fall in with the rest. I spoke with Soter again, before he left for the cradle. He told me many things, of His work and our place within it, but he also told me that the task now requires more of us than just me. So I obeyed, as always." "Three of them, I found that many. It wasn't enough, but it would have to do. There were couple of others as well, gathered from different stocks, but these three I knew would be strong enough to succeed and continue where I left off. Claudius. Alleo. Elymas. Three psykers for the Third Legion, built to hold the Third Gate and the Eye within." "Explosion rocked the ground as the aliens surged all around us, but we clung on. We would make our Father proud, I was so sure of it, no matter the cost. We were shun, pushed aside, Leonis offered sanctuary for us but not because he wanted to, but because these were the highest orders. He knew something of the task, but not everything, which was more than enough for me to see the treads move and hear the discord again. It was always there, hounding my every step, but ultimately it was unable to do anything else but lay in wait and bid its time. This time, would never come if I can help it." "Recruits progressed nicely, the aloof Eldar and their wicked devices were shattered once again as we destroyed the last remnants of their power. We were to go move onward, to a great gathering in Ullanor and the real test would begin. Greenskins held a certain degree of connection and while their art was crude, it was effective. Those of us that survive will become the stewards of the Librarium." "Ruin came, or so the messengers claimed. We were to be disbanded. I knew where my orders came from and as much as I tried, I couldn't reach the one person who could turn the tides. I was alone now, just like when I started, with nothing more than raw potential and minds not ready to receive the knowledge. We must press on." "After all this, I decided this will be my last entry. I hear it now, I can feel it in my bones. It is waiting for me down there, waiting for all of us, in the deepest pit of our minds. It is clear as a day and I curse myself for not being stronger to deny it. There is no more time, the boarding crafts are leaving in less than an hour. Therefore, I leave this book as a set of clues to those that survive. Your skill and experience will open seals one by one, but the final ward can only be broken in the place where we - you, will finally find purpose. Task remains, but with chaos looming over my shoulder, the only salvation all of us will find is when the clock reaches zero and the Eye opens." This was the last entry of his late master, Elymas couldn't find anything else written in the book by Hephaestus, although like the old psyker mentioned, there still was plenty of trace of his power within it, seals so advanced Elymas could do nothing about it. They were weaved by a master and the more Elymas probed them, the more he saw another psychic trace besides Hephaestus, this one immensely powerful but also the one he couldn't pinpoint to any psyker he knew. <Patient zero - "Battleborn's" Medbay> @Vulpas @Grall_Stonefist "Not only these wretches, but every single one of the traitors we could find," Minteril replied to Denatus' remark, his smile growing wider. "We made the Iron Warriors and Word Bearers bleed, but both of them came from a weak stock. Ones are crude foot-sloggers, most likely Perturabo wished for a grander future when he sided with the Warmaster, but once a cur, always a cur. As for the Word Bearers, the Aurelian's lot are the worst of the worst, I don't think there was a single warrior that I respected in that foolish Legion filled with demagogues and liars." "I like what I hear from you," he continued, tapping Jendon on the shoulder, "I like that we share the same sentiment. But making a poisonous concoction is only one part of the plan I wanted to present to you." Minteril's tone grew more silent now, his fingers tracing a line of chemicals arrayed on one of the tables nearby. "You both have certain set of skills that is hard to find these days. I know that our Chief Apothecary was once trained by the Alpha Legion while Denatus, you spent some time with Raven Guard, was it not?" "This made me think...what if, you two join forces together but not just in creating a virulent solution, but a warrior archetype to wield it. Legionary instructed in the ways of subterfuge and stealth, able to reach the places unseen and attack the enemy from within, carrying knowledge about plague and how to best unleash it? He, or they, would be the asset created by ourselves, a soldier made for this new war that we have found ourselves in?" "What do you think? Is this possible, or am I simply being too optimistic?" <Triumvirate - "Sovereign's" command deck> @Jorimel @matt23 + @DeranVendar "It is for the best. We have seen what one man can do with so much power and we have also seen the length at which our enemies will go to in order to destroy us," Sidon gave Arnock an honest reply, the old warrior looking slightly more at ease after hearing what his brothers thought of his idea. "Me, you, Arnock, Vitaly, it doesn't matter," Extrovious grinned a bit after nodding towards Aleph, shifting his big frame, "In the end, they will all die and we will be there to see it through." Short silence fell on the group before Sidon spoke once again, his gaze turning towards the standard Arnock carried all these years. "This banner was given to you by our Brother...Rylanor," there was a pause and a heavy sigh. "A brother that is most likely dead given the fact I don't think he would ever side with Fulgrim against his own kin." "It reminds me too much of our own failings but at the same time, it represents what we should strive for," Praetor grunted, making a sign of the Aquila across his chest. "You are its honorable holder, the Soul Exemplar. It is yours to keep or destroy. Whatever you decide, I will agree with it." "This brings me to the second thing I wanted to ask you. Never once, not even in my wildest dreams, have I thought about our Father betraying all of us, not to mention the force Horus had arrayed against us. What do you think happened there?" "Both of you knew Fulgrim better than other legionaries, Arnock you even went to the Sons of Horus during your secondment and I know you trained some of their warriors. What could possibly transpire there that brought this entire hell to us all?" <Blood and Iron, "Battleborn's" Forge Precincts> @Draconion @dx144 "We have so much to do Pholax, so much ground to cross. Throneworld can wait, it stood long before we were born and it will remain standing after this heresy is over, that I'm sure of. The only difference that we can make is making sure our enemies don't live to see the end of it," Minteril growled, the scars on his face painting an ugly picture where once a proud Child of the Emperor stood. While time was kind to many legionaries of the Third, Minteril definitely wasn't one of them. "Yes, there is something I need, Forgemaster. I want this ship operational and ready to receive eight hundred warriors in the next couple of days, alongside the supporting armor and legion serfs." "I've spoken to Sidon," Minteril barely said the name out loud without a certain amount of bile in his tone, "And our Praetor and me have come to a conclusion that it would be best to split our forces. There is around two thousand and five hundred legionaries still under our banner and while being of a serious size, our force can easily be destroyed in one blow. So we will have to compartmentalize." "Do you think you can assist my officers in this task Vitaly?" Lord Commander asked, standing next to both Vitaly and Pholax and outside of his armor he looked quite smaller, although he carried himself with a certain cold fury that was hard to ignore. Betrayed man left for dead with nothing to lose were dangerous, especially if one was a gene-enhanced super soldier. "I would offer both of you place at my side, however I don't think Praetor would be happy if you left him. Especially you Pholax. Our last living Ancient - that's a moral booster if I ever seen one and you know how our Praetor loves clinging to the old ways. For all good they ever did us," he finished and spat in one of the open forges, the heat quickly neutralizing the acid. "But on the other hand, if you ask it, I would not deny the request. Nor thoughts on the matter at hand." <Bird is the word, somewhere on "Sovereign"> @Jorimel Like Aleph expected, it didn't take long for the Ravens to find him. During one such trek amid the maze of the corridors in the central part of the Battle Barge Aleph felt the familiar sense that someone was watching him. After all, he was trained in the ways of stealth by the masters of the Eight, so it wasn't that easy to sneak upon the Blade Exemplar, no matter how one may be proficient. Still, he couldn't pinpoint the exact location of the other person until he heard dry voice answering his own call. "Follow." On they went, following the familiar path of service corridors until they arrived at the destination. In truth, the place wasn't really hidden, but it was far away from all main and secondary tunnels that it offered some peace and secrecy. After all, the chambers Aleph found himself in were pretty much the same like all other Astartes barracks, although there were no Emperor's Children there. Its previous occupants died during the initial betrayal and this, like many other rooms across the "Sovereign", was deserted, a testament to how many brothers were lost in this conflict. Aleph's guide left him at the entrance before rejoining his brothers. Three of them were sitting opposite to armor racks, patiently tending to their gear and paying Blade Exemplar no mind. Dark-haired and pale with black orbs instead of eyes, they looked almost the same although that could also be one of the tricks they used which Jendon mentioned during the council. Aleph's guide on the other hand, had his hair tied into braids and he set near a heavily augmented warrior with half of his face covered in bionics, who offered him a sip from an Army-grade canteen without saying any words. "Greetings," the voice, now familiar to Alephoros, beckoned him to turn towards the last Raven Guard, who stood besides a small altar further inside the room. Number of feathers spread across white cloth, on top of which stood a golden Aquila, the candles burning around it amplifying its color. "I found it here, discarded like some toy, so I figured it would only be proper to return it on its rightful spot," the Chaplain smiled as he faced Aleph, revealing a set of sharpened teeth. "I don't think we met before," he turned and offered Aleph his hand in greeting, "I'm Nykar, once of Kul, now of the Nineteenth." Terminator armor and the silver raven-skull helmet lay on the rack nearby, but even outside of it, Nykar was a beast of a man. Same size as Aleph (OOC I take it Aleph is in his power armor, hence the comparison), he moved with a fluid grace of a born killer, not unlike Alephoros himself, which the Chaplain commented on as well. "I have met several Palatine Blades in my life, few of them knew how to hide their prowess like you, or cared to do it. But I see something else, something that begs me to ask the question," Nykar continued, turning his attention to the dark sword on Aleph's hip. "I take it this was not collected as a trophy?"