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Perfect Warriors

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

  1. Brother_Draconion Draconion Well-Known Member

    Echoes of Lost Brotherhood: Memories and Shenanigans

    Vitaly clicks the stopwatch to a halt the moment Aleph downs the glass from slamming back the Soundstrike Misfire. A tense stare is exchanged for precisely three seconds, Vitaly examining his squad brother for any signs of difficulty in swallowing or regurgitation. In a particularly sadomasochistic twist he'd learned from studying the social traditions of the septic XIVth, he had purposely arranged the Soundstrike Misfire to be the final drink in the lineup, its incredibly explosive spicy kick all but impossible to imbibe after a previous seven punishing drinks...

    ...and yet. And yet, here he was. The first champion. The first man in the squad, for certain. The first man in the company, indeed. Possibly the first man in the Millennial - to say nothing of the entire Legion - to complete the Deadly Eight. Not that Vitaly was about to invite that many people to join the circle of expanded membership - he was already having enough trouble keeping this place a secret as it was, with that many 'friends and trusted associates' let into the circle of trust.

    But here he was, standing on his own two feet, albeit a touch unsteadily, with unfocused eyes. In fact, Vitaly could have sworn he'd seen Aleph's eyes each looking in a different direction for a second or two. But eight in ninety was eight in ninety. And without hurling right away, too.

    "Friends, brothers, Fulgrimsons - cast your eyes thither and lend me your ears also! We have a champion!"

    Vitaly's strident celebratory tones ring across the lounge area, accompanied by the brassy tolling of the bell he keeps on the bar to mark occasions just such as this one. The approximately thirty Legionnaires - the other members of Squad 4, but mostly the 'expanded circle' that had Vitaly so constantly worried - milling about the place promptly flock to the bar like a swarm of bees, hooting and whistling their congratulations and playful jeering. A mock eyeball - he hoped it was fake - and a likewise hopefully-fake greenskin ear or three bounce off Vitaly's apron, courtesy of the inevitable practical joker(s) circulating in the crowd.

    "Alephoros Aster of Squad Four has conquered the Deadly Eight! Eight lethal libations in eighty seven point five seconds! HE IS OUR FIRST CHAMPION!"

    An explosive roar of celebration breaks out, the noise not unlike the escalade in a Crusade siege as Astartes linebreakers go over the top. As one, the revellers seize ahold of Aleph and hoist him up on their shoulders.

    "Go Aleph!"
    "Just goes to show a pretty face hides an iron stomach, eh?"
    "Tougher than he looks, this one!"
    "Good old Aleph!"

    Some wag in the crowd shouts, "Three cheers for Aleph!" and with three rounds of, "Hip hip...HURRAH!"Aleph is hurled, thrice in a row, almost to the rather low ceiling.

    A little more instigation has the piano player pounding out the melody to, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," while the mob forms a procession round the edges of the room, carrying their hero in triumph on their shoulders and stopping for encores to hip-hip-hurrah every so often - the goal now being more obviously to cause the man of the hour as much gastrointestinal discomfort as possible.

    Vitaly chuckles and shakes his head at the antics before reaching up to write Aleph's name on a large blackboard above the bar. A marker whiteboard would have been neater and cleaner, but he had opted for old-fashioned chalk for its more personable touch.

    Death Row - Deadly 8 Challenge

    #1: Alephoros Aster, Squad 4 - Full 8, 87.5 sec, XXX.XXX.M30

    As and when the revellers return to the bar with their probably by now-queasy celebrant, Vitaly disperses the mob - and most of the heat on Aleph - by expertly drawing out a round of pints from the tap for everyone. A tall, foamy mug of Magic Mushroom - his latest, fruity-palated offering derived from a high-sugar fungus grown in his own hydroponic racks in the outhouses - plus large bowls of salty snacks go a long way to bringing the excitement down to more manageable levels.


    He then glances at Aleph while pulling from one of numerous taps at the bar.

    "No more tipple for you just now, brave sir - you're probably sick to your Preomnor, to say nothing of all kinds of sore in the throat. Have this instead," says Vitaly authoritatively, plonking down a large mug of a dark, mildly aromatic liquid on the counter.

    This, too, is a familiar sight in the clubhouse - Vitaly's All-Purpose Curative, a beverage concocted from studying the herbal medicines of a hundred different human cultures, meant to soothe inflamed tissues, calm queasy or over-acidic stomachs, dispell hangover headaches and ease tormented bowels. Despite its ominous look, it actually has quite an agreeable earthy, herbal flavour, slightly sweet and immediately soothing to anything and everything in pain along the alimentary tract. Indeed, he has found himself having to standby with gallons of the stuff on tap as a soft drink in its own right for brothers dropping in for short breaks between duty shifts, or sworn off the tipple for a time after a particularly vigorous revel.

    "You have also earned - hey!" starts Vitaly, producing one of his famous, towering club sandwiches from beneath the bar, only for Extrovious to snag the lot in his bear-like paws and begin stuffing it enthusiastically into his mouth.

    "I'd tell you to give that back to Aleph right this instant, you outsized thief, but some things can't be reversed," grouses Vitaly at Extrovious, who grins through a mouthful of salad, chopped egg, and about seven different meats layered with seven different breads.

    "You can have this if you like, Aleph," replies the thieving giant, picking a straggle of half-chewed rocket from between his teeth and offering it to the libatory champion.

    "We'll all pass," says Vitaly, hurriedly leaning back from the bar, "I'll just make him a new one. You can finish savaging that one, you savage."

    @Jorimel @dx144

    "Review of the tipple, Aleph? I'm always looking for ways to push the paradigm. Anything you'd like to see turned into a full-sized cocktail, perhaps?" he begins as he removes seven different types of meat - fresh and cured - from a chilled cabinet to begin work on another monumental sandwich, "And what can I get you, if not a Death Row, Pholax?"
  2. DeranVendar DeranVendar Subordinate

    Echoes of Lost Brotherhood: One Upsmanship and Compounding Ones Mistakes
    Extrovious lays a heavy arm against the counter of their brotherly bar. A strip of lettuce dangles from his lower jaw like half of a sad mustache, some mysterious mixture of sauces only Vitaly could of concocted staining the rest of his lower lip. "So, that was pretty impressive Aleph." Cheekily offered half-chewed meal is pushed back into a cheek like a trans-human chipmunk. Eyes are on the Alpeh the whole time he chews, before taking one good swallow and listing head over to look at Vitaly.

    "Brother, I shall put these drinks and your skills as an alcoholic alchemist to the test." Remains of an early drink are chucked like carrion down his throat, washing down the meal and cleansing his pallet with the stinging purity of a Phosphex Mine. "I want all eight in one container. It need not taste good, only provide a challenge-" Eyes cut to Aleph. "If our bladed flower can handle wetting his stem with them, I've no doubt I can handle them all at once."

    Triumvirate: Hand of Ruin
    The giant among them appears as he ever has since the outset of the Heresy: clad in enough armor to make a front line tank blush and wearing a surly expression that easily masked the once brotherly disposition Extrovious so openly wore in their more youthful service days. The only difference to be found on the hulking terminator is the addition of a singular trophy: the broken crozius of the Word Bearer attached to a trophy hook at the hip. Appropriately enough the marine has been up to nothing pleasant prior to the private meeting. Displaced and discordant warriors have been rounded up and pressed into his growing horde of a company. The vengeful and bitter made up his men and the imbalanced ten some squads under his command served as much as soldiery as therapy. Beneath all that scar tissue still beat the heart of a battle brother, and for all the bellowing and stringent training regimens, both mental and physical, Extrovious sought to reforged the bonds of brotherhood among the betrayed as much as he stoked the furnaces of hatred for the traitor and their otherworldly tempters. Despite the victory of the Marauder, he still heard things and saw plenty that was not there: the errant hiss of blood burning, the eye stinging mark in the brass of a bolt shell and the growling in the dark corners of the ship on sweeps for any enemy hold outs, infiltrators or predators in the shadows. One victory in an endless war brought upon himself since rejecting the Cyclop's wards.

    In spite of all this though, the man's disposition swings upwards fantastically at the new title and that the triumvirate would be shared among the closest of brothers. It was a fair change of pace from the strategic meeting, where his voice had been given that their colors and where they went did not matter, only that their bonds be strong and they meet out bloody retribution against the traitors. Had calmer minds not seen them retreat, Extrovious had been ready to launch himself alone against the nearest enemy ship, or 'requisition' a transport to fly down and throw himself at Fulgrim. Grief often begets madness, and madness is rarely anything other than violent. Here though, with Alephoros, Arnock and the old man, Extrovious breaks into a smile, openly warming to the brotherhood offered by the small gathering. In truth he had never felt strongly about Sidon one way or another, respected and obeyed without a doubt for the most part, even with his softer side for the witches of their millennial. When betrayal is brought to the fore Extrovious pays his brothers mind as they speak before pitching in with his own theory.

    "Excess and overstepping oneself in the pursuit of perfection. The Primarch lost his way and the Traitormaster likely poisoned his mind, the great orator and manipulator that he is. Fulgrim fell prey to some honeyed falsehoods that he might outshine even the Emperor or some such nonsense. Considering the choice of allies-" He pauses to spitefully thunk a hand against the broken crozius. "-could just as easily of been overtaken and dominated by some warp fiend or xeno."
  3. Brother_Draconion Draconion Well-Known Member

    Echoes of Lost Brotherhood: The Honoured Fraternity of Poor Judgement and Cast-Iron Stomachs

    Extrovious' somewhat-uncomfortable metaphor for Aleph is lost on Vitaly next to the sheer sacrilege entailed by his request. Vitaly's face goes through several subtle but noticeable changes of expression as he goggles at Extrovious, temporarily at a loss for words. Beginning at wide-eyed disbelief, he pales at the utter disrespect for his craft simply dumping all his carefully-crafted drinks into a bucket would entail, like swill. The imagery causes his face to sag in horror, like a candle slowly melting in hot sun. A series of twitches pick up at the corners of his eyes and mouth, indignation causing his face to redden at the philistine injustice of it all, before his face finally hardens in comic resolution and stubborn defiance.

    "You think you can handle all eight at once? Fine - you've asked for it, big man."

    A quivering finger rises to slowly point at the tip of Extrovious' nose.

    "But I am not - repeat, not - dumping the ingredients into a bucket slop. For pigs. I simply refuse to countenance such vile...desecration. This will be a creation unto itself, and that's the end of that. If you don't like it, you can go drink engine oil."

    Snapping a clean, white cloth out from its storage rail under the bar, Vitaly rolls it up and ties it tightly about his brows, a look of fierce concentration coming over his face that wouldn't be out of place upon the the countenance of a samurai of Old Nihon facing certain death in battle on the morrow. Laying out his freshly-cleaned tools with surgical neatness upon a special section of the working benchtop behind the bar reserved for his most intricate creations, he steeples his fingers before his face for a moment to contemplate the work before him in perfect stillness. Whereas his energy before was frenetic, abundant to overflowing, thriving amidst chaos, now, all that fire, all that drive is leashed, bottled by discipline and sharpened by supreme creative focus to a needle's point of smoking ice. Vitaly's breathing slows, his pupils dilating, shoulders settling, colour returning to normal as he settles into the strategist's trance of circumspection.

    The work before was one of variety, colour, immediacy, urgency, transiency, of speed, of beauty in the dance of chaos and living in the moment. This, however, would be different. This was an undertaking of monumental proportions - not unlike the individual who had commissioned it in the first place. It was to be a challenge of monstrous scale, an insurmountable obstacle for a champion to overcome, and thereby establish his glory.

    In short, his brother had requested a dragon, a great beast out of legend to slay.

    Hmm...a great beast, eh?

    Vitaly's eye flickers over at Extrovious, a quick glance taking in the craggy, pugnacious features, the massively-boned lantern jaw looking not at all out of place on a...

    I have it.

    With reverential, exacting precision, looking like a cross between an engineer assembling precision microelectronics and a priest conducting the most sacred of rites - in fact, exactly like an ordained Mechanicum adept - Vitaly begins his work. With efficient, unhurried movements, he measures out a dram of twenty year-old Ophelian amasec and empties it into the giant stein he has selected as the vessel of this cyclopean assemblage, set in an actively-chilled water bath to maintain it at ideal temperature. He follows swiftly with a full pint of ale concentrated to 20% ABV - the very limit of palatability.

    Atomantic Breaching Charge complete.

    Next to go into the vessel is a schooner each of vintage lager from the tap and strong apple cider. A measure of blackcurrant-flavoured schnapps rounds out the concotion.

    Catachan Mamba's Bite.

    A quick stir to mingle the flavours, and Vitaly steps back in a contemplative trance yet again, steepling his fingers and narrowing his eyes at the concotion thus far. The next several steps will be time-sensitive if he is to induce the intended effect. A double measure each of powerful Huntmaster herbal digestif and Grand Mariner - an equally potent liquer of brandy, bitter citrus and sugar - is aerosolised and flash-frozen into phase-shifted crystals within an arcane vacuum chamber purpose-built for the manipulation of drink particles at the quantum level. Their electron structure custom-adapted to unfreeze and interact energetically with surrounding biochemistry upon reaching conditions of temperature and chemical composition specific to a living human's stomach, this step is meant to withhold the incredible kick of flavour and intoxicant on the journey down, releasing it all at once in an overwhelming punch of aftertaste and upwelling alcoholic euphoria.

    Pouring the crystallised measures into a tumbler, Vitaly follows up with generous amounts of coffee liquer and Crimson Aurochs, a popular and potent energy soft drink - a mixture of earthy, sweet and zesty on the way down, both to lower the defences and heighten the senses for the treacherous kick to come, a fitting tribute to the betrayal at Proxima. A few drops of enhancer to overcome an Astartes' innate biochemical defences, a vigorous shaking, and the resultant mixture goes into the stein. More bitter citrus and a generous handful of overpowering Vedic herbs and spices, finely ground and lightly roasted to release their essential oils, follow, a mocking tribute to the olfactorily tone-deaf perfume of a Remembrancer who had once made Vitaly regret having a Neuroglottis.

    Thus mingled and layered, the overall effect of the two drinks will be of a deceptively smooth journey on the way down, followed by a truly apocalyptic explosion of alcohol and olfactory overload that should leave an Astartes' enhanced senses reeling.

    Proxima Final Solution and Atrocity By Suffocation, thoroughly mingled for synergy.

    Working faster now, Vitaly layers the second half of the mixture with crushed ices of both blue agave and sugar cane spirit, laying them down in overlapping spirals that will allow the flavours to gradually mingle upon imbibing. Liberal saltings of finely-ground, lightly roasted peppers - purple-red for the burn, black for pungency, brown for an explosive numbness - follow, topped with drops of more Astartes enhancer and capsaicin-infused oil to ensure full release of the evil contained within complete the horrific work of art.

    Manticore Missile Misfire in a Phosphex Minefield.

    Finally reaching the top of the abhorrent undertaking, Vitaly again lays down twin duelling spirals of spirit ices, this time a 60% ABV grain spirit warring with powerfully-flavoured herbal apertif. Liberal spritzes of pineapple concentrate, bitter citrus, and the freshly-squeezed juices of five different varieties of limes and lemons carefully selected for maximum acidity and fragrance follow, along with citrus zest for more nuanced accents. All of which serve to deliver a one-two opening punch of extreme sourness and deliberately clashing flavours to leave the senses reeling, lowering the guard for the attacks to come.

    Exterminatus Suicide Run.

    A whole ahuacatl fruit - just at the beginning of ripeness for firmness - is swiftly peeled. Carefully bred in Vitaly's hydroponic racks for nutrition, flavour, and, above all, size, this is very nearly as large as a normal human head. Deft strokes of a razor-keen fruit knife bring detail to the formerly featureless surface, its vibrant green flesh taking on the details of a beetling brow ridge, a bulbous flaring nose, and a heavy lantern jaw. Further carving and inserted pomegranate seeds bring it to life with bared, bloody fangs and piggish red eyes - the head of a snarling Ork with all the characteristic traits of an alpha among its species.

    Mounting the head on a wooden skewer, Vitaly leaves it riding just above the surface of the drink, now roiling with frosty white vapour. Almost a comical afterthought, he skewers a little, brightly-coloured cocktail umbrella atop its dome.

    "Friends, brothers, Fulgrimsons - lend me your ears once again!"

    Vitaly's strident carnival bark and the jangling peal of his bar bell bring the revelling battle-brothers swarming around the bar once more.

    "I give you dire news, brothers. A threat to mankind has arisen unlike any before it, a xenos menace of such magnitude that it threatens to swallow the very stars in its green maw. A warlord - greater than any before - has emerged to unite the entirety of the greenskin menace. If not stopped, this force will rampage across the galaxy with inexorable momentum, leaving naught but ruin in its wake."

    Vitaly pauses to assess the effect of his nostalgic callbacks to the breathless, hyperbolic orations to Imperial High Command that first called attention to the rising menace of Ullanor.

    "A monster reigns on Ullanor, and only a champion of equally monstrous proportions may cast him down."

    With dramatic sweeping gestures, Vitaly indicates, first Extrovious, followed by the truly immense supercocktail, the size of a small bucket to an Astartes, topped by its snarling greenskin head.

    "Behold now, brothers, as Extrovious steps forth as Mankind's champion to vanquish Urrlak Urruk, The Beast of Ullanor!'

  4. Jorimel Jorimel Well-Known Member

    Echoes of Lost Brotherhood

    Alephoros Aster, aspiring Palatine Blade and student of the sword and brush alike, leaned unsteadily on the bar and held up a hand as if he might speak, a single forefinger raised. He opened his mouth, and decided that it belonged shut right now. Eyes unfocussed, he nodded - a move he regretted - to Vitaly in recognition of his accolade of his triumph. Then, just as he thought he might be about to form a coherent thought, he was seized by a dozen or more hands and borne up and back.

    "Iyuip-" was about the sound he made, part strangled breath, mostly surprise. Now he was aloft like some victorious champion, which, with the odd glow of curious warmth spreading though limbs that also felt strangely numb at the same time, he decided he was. Probably. The spinning was bad. The spinning, very very bad indeed. He reeled, safe enough from being dropped in the hands of his Brothers but the throwing was much, much worse.

    Aleph had in fact been drunk before, technically, if one counted the time he was five and got into his grandfather's palm wine before anyone noticed. He didn't remember. This rising and falling nonsense was like being at sea. Aleph had grown up in a desert.

    "... put me down ..." he suggested, feebly, knowing in both his hearts that the plea would do no good. He felt an unbalance in his Lyman's ear, which was surely impossible. He struggled limply in the tempest, then decided that he needed all his focus on not throwing up all over the patterned carpet. The Brothers doing the mauling, well not so much, but still one had to think of - no, thinking now would be a bad idea. The chemistry of the Astartes blood/brain barrier was a mystery to most but clearly Vitaly and Jendon had been colluding in some way and suddenly he felt a sense of clarity. It would be all right. It was a lot like flying. Crowd-surfing on a living palanquin of Battle-Brothers Aleph rolled with the flow, ebbed with the tide. Certainly there was nausea and no doubt considerable regret was coming his way but there it was, the answer to what he'd been seeking, to what they had all been seeking. He smiled, beatifically. As his victory lap was completed Aleph dropped gracefully down onto his feet, swaying slightly. He snatched up a beermat and waltzed up to the bar to grab one of Vitaly's spare pencils. His face a mask of concentration, he wrote it down. His answer. The Answer. He tucked the beermat into his shirt and placed the pencil back on the bar before taking up the nearest table's expensive floral tribute and weaving it with rapid, dextrous movements into a wreath of flowers, which he then dropped onto his head like a crown.

    "Yes. I am," he announced, "a flower. The Flower of the Third. The Star-Flower, it means that, you know. Both things. At once. I am a duality." He observed this last to Extro as Vitaly handed him his famous curative. Never mind that its unfortunate appearance had earned it the name Drunk God's Piss among the lower decks, it was lovely, lovely stuff and for a moment he wondered if it would be appropriate form to drag Brother Sokolovsky into an affectionate embrace to show just how much he appreciated the gesture. He focussed with difficulty as he took the glass.

    "I love you, Brother," he said. "I hope you know that. You too," he said to Extrovious, now sandwich-free and plotting the demise of his own liver. "And you, and you, and -" he turned around, looking through the crowd, "- you. Not you, you're still a - dick. And you. You're like a brother to me."

    Aleph giggled, and finished the cure-all with a lopsided grin. Things happened within his Astartes system that should not have been. Dark punishments lined up for all his kidneys softened and melted away. The raging tiger threatening his stomachs turned into a purring kitten. His head cleared. He was hungry. And there was Vitaly with a sandwich. He took it with a formal bow. All right, so bowing was still out of the question, but the thing was a majestic tower of sustenance and he had to make it his own. He found a bar stool and sat down, still occasionally swaying or moving his shoulders as if to an unheard beat. He tapped his fingers on the bar. He hummed a bit of a tune. Then he raised his hand and shook it in remonstrance as Extro requested everything at once in a big bucket.

    "No. No, this is Art, you, you, Philadelphian." He took a spare piece of paper while Vitaly got into the trance he recognised from his own painting work, borrowed the pencil again and started to write his review of Death Row.

    Breaching Charge - burn down the hatches
    Snakebite - I think the Raven Guard would like this one
    Proxima Vortex Bomb - kind of sweet, something, I think something died in the bottle though
    Choking Death - tastes like perfume
    Phosphex Mine - why also gum drops
    Life Eater - no
    Kamikaze - Jendon needs to syntheticalise it for something you could make some kind of hollow round
    Soundstrike Misfire - it's like spiders

    When he looked up again, the whole bar was looking at the head of a big green Ork perched on top of a small barrel made of glass and iniquity. It had a tiny umbrella behind one ear.

    Much later, when he stumbled back to his quarters and got undressed for sleep, a small square of cardboard fluttered out of his tunic as it fell to the floor. He picked it up. Words were scrawled on it.


    He shrugged, stuffed it into his bedside drawer and fell mostly onto the bed.
    Uriel1339, dx144, DeranVendar and 3 others like this.
  5. Colapse Colapse Forum Beta Tester

    <Patient zero, "Battleborn's" Medbay>
    @Vulpas @Grall_Stonefist

    "I like the way you are thinking, Jendon," Minteril replied and a vicious grin appeared on his once-beautiful face, "I'm going after the recruiting worlds. We will bring ruin upon them, one by one. This is war of attrition now, I can see it already and as it stands, the road to victory will be a long and bloody one, but the traitors will pay for what they've done."

    "We will make sure to collect as much geneseed as possible. Since we are splitting, I want to make sure you supply me with enough Apothecaries and Destroyers to do your work and begin the training of the new type of troops."

    "They will have their work cut out for them but like always, we will persevere."

    <Bird is the word, Somewhere on "Sovereign">

    "Ah, the native people of Chemos," Nykar nodded once while offering Aleph the place at the table. There was more of the similar drinks like Aleph tasted earlier, of course nothing to be compared to the creations of his own Brother Vitaly once upon a time. Alongside these he could see couple of water bottles and what seemed to be parts of a large rodent, fried and cut to satisfy Astartes needs.

    "Your planet had a certain charm, the grey landscape uplifted by your fallen Father left many in awe, me included," Reclusiarch said, shifting his weight back and allowing his gaze to wonder for a moment. "But like most things from that time, it turned out to be a lie. Thankfully, you remained and I hope that you will continue to carry your proper legacy with pride, until the end."

    Nykar's gaze shifted back onto Aleph, the dark orbs not unlike the ones seen on the Brother of the Eight, although where one could see malice and vengeance, the Raven Guard's look was completely level, his emotions utterly unreadable. "I also recognize the craftsmanship that went into creation of Daith'wyn - I hope I pronounced it correctly. It is indeed a legacy blade from Terra's past and you wielding it alongside your mourning shroud was perhaps destined. This entire ordeal made you stronger and blessed by such gift, you would find plenty of confirmation that your choice was the correct one. And if nothing else, I'm certain it cuts perfectly for I carry similar item, although my claw was made under Nam-Quan's dunes and carried by a warchief, rather than a king."

    "As for the vengeance, if I may," he said and leaned forward, taking a sip from the canteen, "Be careful, Brother Alephoros. If the rumors are to be believed, you have recently been promoted into one of the main commanders of your Millennial. It'll be in your power to shape the force - one wrong step and everything you fought for will be for naught. And remember, if you need anything, me and my men will be there to help you."

    Refitting of their small fleet didn't take long and they were gone before any pursuers arrived. As promised, Minteril took eight full companies, support personnel, supplies and with "Battleborn" under his personal command, set upon the course with nothing but cold vengeance as his companion. Sidon on the other hand, led the remainder of the fleet away from Isstvan system and towards one of the rendezvous points signaled by the broken Iron Hands forces. The meeting itself didn't take long as many of the surviving Iron Fathers wanted "Sovereign" and its crew shot on sight, but the cooler head prevailed and the Third Millennial officially swore to fight under the banner of one Shadrak Meduson.

    But it was only the beginning.

    Fires spread all across the galaxy as the truth about Horus' betrayal became evident. Many systems remained safely within Throne's sphere of influence but many more broke their oaths, their reasons spreading from simple lust for power to actual oppression and breaking the Imperium's chains seemed like the only possible option for survival. It was unlike anything seen before and the Third Millennial ended up right in the middle of it. As pariahs and with no real allies on any side of the conflict, loyalist Emperor's Children under Sidon's lead did what they never did before. They began to flee.

    Chased by their former brethren led by none other than Kenjiro, who seemed to take a personal interest into utterly annihilating what remained of his former Millennial, Sidon's forces were forced to jump from one system to another, narrowly evading pursuit each time. Safe harbors were hard to find as the words of Fulgrim's atrocity spread, only a handful of Imperial Governors were happy to accommodate more than a thousand Emperor's Children legionaries and provide shelter without trying to kill them first.

    Days became weeks and weeks became months. Darkness grew and while Admiral de Beaumont put his skills to limits, it was only a matter of time before their luck would run out and they would get caught. Thankfully, in this bleak moment the Emperor seemed to have smiled on them as Nykar Kul received news from the rest of his Legion. Against initial traitor reports and all odds, Corax lived.

    Still being a higher-ranking officer, Nykar began to receive new information as the Raven Lord started orchestrating a more cohesive plan that fit the situation better than to rely on strategy created by a bunch of angry Iron Hands that didn't really had Third Millennial's survival in its best interest. This played into Sidon's hand perfectly as the new type of warriors arose on the wings of Jendon's and Denatus' teachings. They called themselves Venoms, the mix of covert-ops infiltrators carrying rad weapons helped the Millennial during couple of close calls with the traitors.

    On another hand, as the war spread so did the traitor forces chasing them grew weaker and soon, the "Sovereign's" crew was given more room to breathe...and to strike back.

    <New deployment briefing, "Sovereign's" Strategium, one year after Drop Site Massacre>

    The majesty of venerated ship's halls was somewhat diminished in low light. "Sovereign's" generators worked on special mode, most of the power going into primary systems while the power was saved on those less important ones. Astartes was well capable of seeing in low light of course, but contrary to old war gatherings, the new one was only a hollow shell of it.

    Sidon took the center in front of the large table where the surrounding systems were depicted with various numbers and colors. Next to him stood Aleph, Arnock and Extrovious, each one carrying their new duties appropriately while other former members of the 4th Squad took positions around the table alongside other officers. There weren't many of them, only four. Ilyas, Akellion, Gaius and Brona. They were the senior Brothers now and they commanded the majority of what was left of the Millennial.

    On far side of the table, a hololitic display of an Astartes decked in damaged Terminator plate took most of the chamber, familiar face of Minteril locked between snarl and a grin. After a whole year the Lord Commander replied to the hails and was only couple of systems away with "Battleborn". He also reported casualties but as well as success - a number of recruiting worlds suffered his wrath and he didn't seem to like this change of pace. However in the end, he obeyed and brought his own force for their Praetor to command.

    "Our retreat is over, for the moment," Sidon spoke, careful to use the proper form for their flight. "Admiral assured me that hunter fleets are nowhere in sight and either by providence or sheer luck, we were given an opening that I intend to use fully. I have identified a number of targets of opportunity and I wish to hear your thoughts on the matter." With a flick of his fingers, the holo-table was activated and shapes of planets and surrounding forces began appearing.

    "First location is Jana Prime, fortress world located in the nearby system. It was safely held in Imperial hands until recently, when a full contingent of Night Lords descended upon the world. Defenders are in disarray and are giving away bastion by bastion while the traitors are gaining ground with each passing day."

    "From what we could gather, there's an Imperial Fists presence on the world that is rallying the Army regiments, but by the looks of it, they will not hold for long. It goes without saying what kind of facilities such world has and what would we be able to gain by relieving the defenders, not to mention the simple act of slaying the Eight Legion bastards with their backs turned."

    "Second target is slightly different," it was Nykar who spoke next, the Raven Guard Chaplain at ease in the darkness, "Lord Corax has contacted us and given us a possible mission to pursue. My brothers have located a number of stolen Navy ships that act as slaver vessels of sorts, ferrying prisoners from one place to another."

    "Nothing unusual about it, however the important bit is that there is a chance that this particular ship," he said and a vessel appeared on the table, obviously a grand cargo hauler once used to transport Imperial Arny armor across the galaxy, "As part of a nearby fleet of similar vessels, ferries a whole company of Space Wolves. The ones who have organized this are the Hydra's own sons, the Alpha Legion. They were present on Isstvan and I would like to have a word with them once again."

    "There is also one more option," Sidon continued as the Reclusiarch stepped away from the table, "We have caught a distress signal coming from world called Iox. Backwater place with no Imperial records on it, barren tundra with such inhospitable climate that there was never a settlement founded on it. And from it, we received White Scars plea for assistance."

    "As all of you are aware, the Fifth Legion is still a great unknown to all of us, but given the fact we have also discovered a massive Death Guard fleet closing in on the system, the sons of Chogoris have probably made their choice, but I want to be sure. Also, the plea originated from their Chief Stormseer, Lord Yesugei, who I heard was a man of great knowledge and honor and I'm sure that his input on the matters of the Warp and this new type of war would be greatly appreciated," he finished with a nod towards Elymas.

    "This is what we have so far. I would chose myself however the new changes to our Millennial require your input, so I would like to hear your thoughts and prepare us to finally strike back at the traitors proper."
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  6. Brother_Draconion Draconion Well-Known Member

    From the Private Journals of Vitaly Sokolovsky, Entry #650, dated 756.006.M31

    Looking back upon the known sum of human history, one acquires a sense that a keystone - perhaps
    THE keystone - of human civilisation is the keeping of promises. What is law, ultimately, but a contract between individuals and society to keep to certain standards of good behaviour in exchange for protection and support? Obviously, there have been legal systems rather less than balanced and just to a reasonable standard of objectivity, but the key principle remains true. When one party defaults on their word, the equation is imbalanced and social structures crumble.

    As noted previously, the entire premise of Horusian treason is centered upon this particular weakness of character - the inability to see one's promises through to the end. Of course, the Traitors would declare to all who would listen - and to themselves - that it is the Imperium - and the Emperor himself - that have defaulted on their promises. I have personally wrung such confessions - with the aid of Brother Jendon - from the lips of captured Traitors, including former Legion brothers. They pule and whine endlessly about such notions as stolen autonomy, diminished relevance, hollow honour, and eventual replacement, citing the establishment of the Council of Terra and Administratum as proof positive of their narcissistic conspiracy theories.

    All this only goes to show their essential lack of integrity, their shallow vainglory and shortsighted lust for honours and status. The Great Crusade, the Emperor's grand vision, these things are not and were never crafted for the sake of the Legions. Rather, it was the Legions that were crafted for the sake of these things. We have honour and glory far beyond the reach of mortal men, it is true. But it was for the sake of mortal men that we were crafted, to be weapons against the darkness between the stars, the vanguard of Mankind's final and permanent ascension to dominance over the galaxy.

    For all our exalted status, we are tools, weapons of war, to be taken up and put down at the will of our master - our first and ONLY master. Many of us were elevated to the Legions from squalor and hopelessness, and eternal, unquestioning service is only a reasonable price for such apotheosis. We are honoured, but we are servants first and foremost, and it is through the honouring of our first and most important oath - to the Emperor and his grand vision - that we fulfill the totality of our being.

    We were created for the sake of all Mankind, not the other way around, and we must never lose sight of that. The warrior cultures of old Terra emphasised selflessness in service for good reason, for when men skilled at arms get it into their heads that they are owed service and obedience by all, it almost never bodes well for their own society. If obsolescence is our eventual fate, then I, for one, will accept it with good grace, trusting that the Emperor's plan for Mankind has already passed us by, and that the greater good will be served by whatever comes next from his subtle mind. The Thunder Warriors preceded us, and faded away when the needs of the Great Crusade surpassed their capacity. So it shall be with us, if we fail to remain relevant to the Imperium, and so it should be. The good of all Mankind, rather than that of a few, should always come first in any assessment.

    Many of the Traitors claim to adhere to oaths of their own, generally proclaiming loyalty to their Primarch over the Emperor. All this is but a smokescreen, a self-serving lie to soothe their guilty consciences, for, in the end, a Legionary has but one master and commander - the Emperor himself. All other commanders, however exalted, are but conduits for this service. If even a Primarch breaks this faith, then he is to be reviled the same as any common traitor. Without exception, all the Traitor Primarchs lured such men as follow them to their side with promises of glory, material gain, social status and subordinate regnancy. This admission of treason for personal gain alone should give the lie to their claims of moral high ground. All these confessions, and more, have I wrung from the lips of captured Traitors.

    At least, those amongst them still capable of carrying on coherent discourse. Some of the aforementioned former Legion brothers - and those of other Legions - have returned to us...changed, somehow, and certainly not for the better. Particularly amongst our erstwhile Legion brothers, there is evidence of deliberate surgical alteration, gene editing and guided mutation, all bearing the mark of Chief Apothecary Fabian. And then there are...other changes, ones that defy easy description. Grossly, to the naked eye, they resemble uncontrolled mutation. However, microhistology and genetic assays struggle to classify said changes in any meaningful way. Given the strong psychic signatures surrounding each and every such sample, Jendon's working hypothesis is that the Horusians have somehow managed to manipulate Empyreal forces to induce desired physical changes for combat advantage in their forces. That being said, some of the changes observed in our former brothers seem gratuitous...almost as though induced for sheer personal gratification.

    Pleasure, or something akin to it.

    At any rate, said physical changes very often come with cognitive ones to varying degrees. In the most extreme examples - more common than any of us would like - the subjects are so far past rationality that no meaningful communication at all can be had with them. Once again, it is the Traitors from our own Legion that evince such changes most often.

    As always, weakness in a society's character begins with weakness in the individual's character. Now, more than ever, we must remain firm in our principles.

    Striking Back

    Date: XXX.007.M31
    Time: 1530, shipboard sidereal
    Location: Sovereign, Strategium

    As usual, Vitaly's presence at the briefing is denoted by a hologram. The Forgemaster rarely attends such events in person these days, preferring the efficiency of attendance by remote presence while multitasking his numerous other duties from his central workstation, deep within the Forge precincts. There, he spends most of his hours when not on combat duties. Like an old, patient spider, he sits in the centre of a web of data conduits with a collective bandwidth of exabytes upon exabytes per second, or else lurks in the shadows with alarming stealth, frightening his scurrying minions into greater efficiency with the mere promise of his silent, malevolent presence looming unseen nearby...for woe betide the luckless fool that actually draws the baleful eye of the one true monarch below decks, for that eye is drawn most often by laxity and incompetence, which is never a good thing.

    When Sidon puts the mission to a vote, he is the first to speak, his harsh, synthesized voice rasping from the vox units at the table.

    "Of the three options, the first has the greatest strategic merit," he says without preamble, "If we can re-establish control of a fortress world, our options for refit and resupply will be far better than with any of the other two engagements. Moreover, we will have helped stabilise this particular subsector for the Throne, and contributed to the progress of the greater war in some way."

    [OOC: As discussed. Vitaly's vote is for flavour only - even his player is voting against him!]
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  7. dx144 dx144 Well-Known Member

    Echoes of Lost Brotherhood

    "I'll stick to the wines of the Legion over creations that must have been found in the backroom of the Apothecarion." Pholax laughed seeing the state of Aleph and others eager to try and top his accomplishment.

    As the night continued, Pholax enjoyed the festivities and hoped for more days like this.

    The Shadow War Begins

    Pholax listened, wanted to say his piece quickly. He was disliking openly speaking. It was the volume and the distorted version of the voice, that was unlike the others. The living ones. It was at times like that he remembered that some thought they could speak to the dead through machines and other superstitious nonsense. Pholax and those like him, were now doing that. Dead men speaking to the living.

    "The choice is obvious, Sidon." Pholax's voice boomed to the living, "We go to see the Seventh. We can gain a valuable force of Astartes for Terra, we deny enemy forces to assault Terra."

    Feeling the need to explain himself, Pholax continued on. "While the slavery ships are despicable, we have greater issues. If we can, we should return to stop that atrocity but overall, it will impact the war little. And the Fifth is... I am unsure... It could provide us a Legion's worth of Astartes for the Emperor. I believe that is too good to be true. The Scars were always elusive. As always though, Sidon, I will do as you wish."
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  8. Uriel1339 Uriel1339 Lord of Posts

    Echoes of Lost Brotherhood
    Elymas participated in the celebrations of his drink-conquering brethren. But nonetheless, he in fact did not participate himself. He wished not to do any harm upon anyone on the vessel, a drunk Psyker who might create avatars of war on a whim could be proven... Dangerous. Nonetheless, he has much changed since the first scorning glance he recognized in a younger mirror of himself in the photograph of the moon, their first conquest as a squad.

    Instead he cheered, helped lift the champions of the drink flight and even shared a smile or two. He knew this time of comradery was special. Now that every engagement could mean death. Vitaly did good in his pursuit of humanity despite becoming more and more machine. The Chief Librarian could not wonder but think if Vitaly, the almost Iron Warrior, did this out of simple algorithms that a higher morale would yield better results in future combat, or if it as his human side seeking for warmth. Either way, the Velodonus house member was grateful. To let go of his responsibilities and never-ending quests in knowledge restoration, analyses and mentorship for even the briefest moment was welcome.

    Too soon the harsh reality came upon them and it was time to return to their duties.

    The Medusa's Legacy - Months before the New Deployment
    As the Emperor's Children retreated and retreated, a message came across from a local world that bore signatures from the Gorgon himself. Of course Elymas was not foolish enough to believe that Ferrus Manus, the crafter of his weapon, had survived. But maybe it was part of his honor guard or the first company of the Iron Hands. And in the worst case scenario, maybe a part of his equipment.

    So with a swift squad drawn up, Elymas readied for a deployment, with or without the sanction of his superiors. Aided by the entire librarium staff, one of Jendon's Apothecaries and various other Astartes they made haste for the origin of the signal. To their disappointment it was an ancient transponder, left behind during the Great Crusade. Based on the craftsmanship, signal strength, engraving and even serial number it was without a doubt handcrafted by a young Ferrus Manus.

    Elymas decided to have it collected and archived on the Battleborn. But that would not go without unforeseen consequences. A mixed warband of traitors had used it as bait. The trio of librarian apprentices carried the beacon back to their vessel under heavy fire while Elymas and the others cleared a way. With various severe wounds but no casualties, they made it back to their vessel and escaped under the supporting fire of Arnock's rescue crew. At least one might think that the traitors would not prey upon other survivors any longer.

    The Shadow War Begins
    "I have not personally met Yesugei, but his research and notes are well known. Even if amongst librarians often discarded as being too... Poetic. However, Hephaestus spoke of him in high regards. Thus I might be personally biased but nonetheless must vote to fight alongside the White Scars. There are many questions I have for fellow librarians that might have access to knowledge we lost due to the traitors when the Battleborn was almost taken from our grasp." Elymas stated matter-of-fact, his mind already prepared for the inevitable combat.

    "On top of that, the stubborn children of Dorn and the wild ones of Russ might prove more difficult allies than the wind warriors of the Khan. Our combat styles, doctrine, paradigms and choice of vehicles are better aligned." He added after a brief pause to think. But maybe he was merely working on convincing himself that this indeed was the best outcome. He told nobody yet of The Third Gate. But Yesugei might know what it meant. And if it would change the course of this war, then he had to do his best to alter it in the favor of the Emperor.
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  9. Fox Vulpas Well-Known Member

    Echoes of lost brotherhood-

    Drawing Eyes- Jendon Subject recording 11# choir boy

    Data packet Venom's Chief apothecary Jendon Eggbert -

    Shadow War -
    Jendon had appeared the Chief apothcaries armor colors worn after a hard years of use, from a mixture of dried blood to faded, purple white and black paint had covered most of his armor from heavy use much like the suit of itself Jendon himself looked as if the youthfull vitaily that once was held in his face was replaced with a fatigued look, The color of his skin becoming a pale color as well as the skin around his face becoming tighter from loss of weight. Jendon looked over the sitaution a hand on his chin as he looked at the briefing.

    "I have to agree with most of with most of you aiding the Imperial fists is a prime objective and if done right, Might even get us a link to Terra, and even stop the traitors from gaining another foothold, As well as helping out our fellow man and brother this gives us a good hand in possibly reaching Terra possibly if we gain the Imperial fists trusts, though I wouldn't expect it to simple." Jendon said as he did thinking about the atrocities he had dissected coming from the emperors children, It would be hard as hell especially if they had fought Emperors children during the war.

    "I suggest setting up a secondarily objective if we have the resources to, While the alpha legion present us with the possibility of another target that might help in the war by rescuing imperial life, as well as aiding our cousin legion, I get the feeling or possibility of it possibly being another ambush, and if not the likely hood the space wolves of fighting beside us is slim, with the possibility of them attacking us over our libararius is high, Especially with them being one of the driving forces of Nikea, they may label us as traitors still even if fighting against the alpha legion by there side."

    "The white scars I know little of them but I have heard of the ways they fight, and that they were one of the few to side for the Libarius with the blood angels and thousand sons, While we do know little of them and know the Death guard is after them, It might be a good possibility of finally learning the truth on which side they are on, or even if not make a force of allies if it turns out these scars are loyalists and there own legion is not. Combined with the increasing notes of traitors using more Empyrean based creatures and what seems to be mutagenic it might prove very well to us to have another mind skilled in the Libraius besides Chief Librarian Elyamas to help us with these threats in case they prove to grow more and more common." Jendon suggested as he finished speaking the apothcary seemed to rest his hands on the edge of one of the holoscreens edges shifting his weight."
  10. Colapse Colapse Forum Beta Tester

    Final Decisions
    "Then this is settled. We will go and help the Scars," Sidon proclaimed and gave the word to Admiral de Beaumont to prepare the ship, "To see where the loyalty of these wild sons lie, once and for all."

    "I shall take my men and go to Jana Prime, try to help the Seventh deal with our misguided brothers," Minteril spoke, his form shifting as the engines of "Battleborn" activated and the distance between them spread. "Brothers of the Third. Death to His Foes," he uttered and shut the link.

    "Captain Extrovious," Sidon turned his head around, giving only a slight nod to the disappearing echo of their Lord Commander, now facing his former squad legionary. "We will move in quickly, deploy the troops just like we always did right on top of them and catch them by surprise. You will be the one who will lead the charge. Make me proud, Brother."

    And as quick as that, the meeting was over and the designated leaders went to prepare their troops but the ultimate force composition fell into Extro's hands as he rose through the ranks into one of the Millennial's leaders. Soon, the real test was about to begin.

    They arrived in the system within the next hour, "Sovereign's" decks on full alert. Battle found them right at the start as trio of escorts tried to bar their way. Suffice to say, venerated Battle Barge and her mighty macro guns saw the smaller traitor vessels obliterated even before they had a chance to open a single shot. Connection with the single White Scars ship was made immediately. It was a rather new Strike Cruiser dubbed "Thunderbolt", made in Saturn's orbital docks in the wake of Ullanor Crusade and pushed in use to replenish Fifth Legion's losses suffered at the hands of Ork armada.

    Her captain, a burly mortal with obvious Chogorian heritage simply uploaded their own scanner readings, both in the orbit and on the planet below. Situation looked grim to say the least. Two dozen Death Guard vessels were closing in from the opposite edge of the system while a number of them were already present, two were exchanging fire with the White Scars ship while another four were positioning themselves so that the troop transports could reach the planet undisturbed. Under de Beaumont's command, "Sovereign's" long range lances found the mark and one of the haulers was cut in half as its shields were unable to prevent the damage, but more were coming and fast.

    Even as the number of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks sped from the "Sovereign's" hangars, it was clear that the full Millennial's deployment would be impossible. But thanks to the new coordinates, those Emperor's Children that land on Ios would find themselves right atop their target.

    Supported by a squadron of Storm Eagles, the trip to the surface was uneventful. Inhospitable tundra spread across the entire continent below them, here and there crossed by large lakes and low mountains. It was a world untouched by the Imperium's hands, perhaps deemed unworthy of its attention and thus, saved from its monstrous appetite.

    Things quickly changed as they approached their destination. A structure rose as if out of nowhere, built on the side of a small hill, its surface black and smooth, even from the distance. It was of oval shape standing on a wide pedestal, its line almost perfect. Around it the Emperor's Children could see smaller block-objects, the classic Imperial infrastructure built around something that definitely wasn't created in the Forges on Mars. But as they came closer and started the combat deployment, alarms blared as the scanners picked up multiple bogies in the air, all bearing signs of the Death Guard. Storm Eagles broke off in defensive pattern while the transport ships unloaded troops and flew off, holding in the reserve and waiting for the moment to strike.

    Rain began to fall in its earnest accompanied by fog, the world apparently not welcoming of the new intruders. On the ground however, the situation was slightly different.

    "Hail, sons of the Phoenix," a tall Astartes rose his hand in greetings as the first Emperor's Children touched the ground. He looked every bit White Scar - leather-like skin, long topknot and a short goatee, his armor cluttered with various tribal tokens while one of his shoulder pads was covered with a grey skin of some large lupine animal. Savage and primal, yet his eyes betrayed a genuine fondness, especially as he obviously fought to find proper words in Low Gothic.

    "Welcome to Ios. We have been expecting you," White Scar pointed at the sky above them and then at the alien structure behind. "I'm Yabuqa and I was told to take you," he nodded towards Elymas, " - and you," then to Jendon, "To him over there. The rest, find yourself at home. We won't wait for long, especially as he riled them up."

    As the Emperor's Children force spread out, they would find more White Scars around the camp, although their numbers were low and they looked like they went through a real hell and came back. Armor was damaged, chainswords broken, couple of jetbikes they had were parked in the back but not a single one looked operational. However in spite of it, not a single one of them seemed to be in a bad mood, quite the contrary. They sang as they dug low trenches and set up mines and other traps in a circular area around the camp, greeting the newcomers like long lost brothers they were.

    There were no static defensive objects however, couple of houses that they found on the ground were nothing more than single-floor habitats, customary to expedition fleets and lacking any serious protection. What defensive structures they found were turned into scrap, couple of automated turrets and a number of servitors reduced to their basic components, courtesy of White Scars themselves. Whoever came on this world first was long gone and whatever remained of their forces had been dealt with in swift fashion, however this fact left much to long for as scanners soon began bleeping again, informing everyone that the enemy was closing in from all sides - but was yet out of the reach of their visuals, given the worsening weather conditions.

    "I would say attack then retreat, but it would only hasten our demise," Yabuqa returned after escorting Elymas and Jendon to the entrance of the strange structure in the middle of the compound, the White Scar approaching Extrovious and Vitaly, "And nobody would like that. But since our cousins are bringing heavy guns, I say we intercept them even before they reach the first line - you are swift, or so the stories tell. It could be done. Or we could just die faster," he shrugged levelly, "It makes little difference, as long as zadyin arga is successful."

    OOC The base is located on slightly elevated ground with couple of small buildings surrounding the hill and circular foreign structure in the center. White Scars have dig trenches around the base and placed a number of vehicle ("tank") traps around the perimeter. For the sake of doing this easier, the enemies will be attacking you from two sides (left and right). There's also a number of broken equipment lying around and I'm leaving this up to you for use\figuring out the details, but it's mostly Mechanicum stuff.

    I'll write the friendly troop counter elsewhere but in terms of support, you will have 2 Aerial actions: Storm Eagle strafing run and Stormbird bombing run, which you can use during any turn you wish - first one will be better against light targets, other one will be better against heavier. Battle itself will last 4 or 5 rounds, depending on the rolls.

    <Beneath the ground>
    @Uriel1339 @Vulpas

    The entrance into the strange building was easy to find, once they got near it. Just like the structure itself, it was of oval shape and passing through it left Elymas with a strange feeling of displacement. The black stone around him seemed to affect him differently, the contact he had with the powers at his disposal was loosening with each step he took downward. Jendon on the other hand, felt no such thing. The polished surface and the complete lack of any damage or wear and tear, be it from firefight or age, was astounding. It changed slightly as they went on and passed couple of remains. Defenders of the place were of Mechanicum origin but it was hard to distinguish their type as in most cases, they were reduced to ash or small dark smears on the floor.

    They walked down the staircase for good ten minutes before they finally reached the end of the road and the chamber spread around them in all directions. Imperial equipment and various machines were placed on left and right, though their origin was obvious their use was not as the two legionaries looked at some technology offshoot they've never seen before, not even in Vitaly's work.

    What was worse, straight in front of them and going for good two hundred yards was an entire field of capsules, each connected with another one via a thick net of cables that spread through the entire room. Even from the distance, Jendon could see movement within couple of the capsules and what was undoubtedly human body placed in each one. At that moment they felt the foreign touch brushing against their minds, Elymas knowing the psychic probe for what it was while Jendon, among other things being a trained Alpha Legion operative, knew how to steel himself from such interference.

    "Well met, brothers of the Third," voice spoke both within their minds and out in the darkness of the chamber, while rattling of bones brought attention to the speaker on their right. He looked old, much older than Yabuqa or any other White Scar they saw back on the surface, the face of an ancient warrior surpassing even Sidon and Nykar Kul. Long white khaitan spread beneath his waist as he slowly turned towards them, using a dark wooden staff topped with an avian skull to support his weight, although both of the Emperor's Children knew with certainty that his weakness was but a charade. There was hidden power behind his storm-blue eyes, the likes of which Elymas never saw before, even when standing in a place that had such effects on his own gift.

    "I've called but was unsure if you would make it. It seems I too need to have a little bit more faith," the White Scar smiled kindly, "Trying times are these, indeed."

    "I am named Targutai Yesugei, zadyin arga of the White Scars. Weather-maker, if you so prefer," he said with a good-natured tone, although he too spoke with thick Chogorian accent. "We are here on Khagan's behest, to uncover one of his father's many secrets," Yesugei nodded towards the many capsules in front of him, "But I fear he won't like what we found."

    "It is a...switch, of that I am sure," he tried to explain further, pointing at the console in the center of the room where the dark material that the entire structure was made of rose from the ground to form a circle within a circle. "To activate it, a maelstorm will be unleashed as the minds awaken. For this, I need your help," Yesugei told Elymas, "And to make sure these people survive, I need yours," he turned to Jendon and his Apothecary's badge.

    "Regrettably, I hoped my vision would lead me to a resolution but I only found more suffering," White Scar sighed and his stance shifted slightly. "This must be stopped. I have put my mind on saving these people and shattering the chains with which they are tied to the purpose that placed them here, for whatever reason. Will you help me?"
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