Hey all! Finally got around to writing up all the stuff I wanted for the first wave of background on my space marine chapter, the Draconic Legion! Going to try breaking this up into a few posts so that it doesn't get to busy.
This first post is general background of the chapter as a whole:
Chapter Origins: Unknown.
Homeworld: None (Fleet-based Chapter)
Chapter Strength: +REDACTED+
When founded: 36th Millenium (Cursed Founding)
Primogenitor: Unknown; assumed some possible mix of Salamanders and/or Blood Angels.
Gene-seed Purity: Flawed – lost zygote: Lyman's Ear
Chapter Tactics: Cleanse and Purify, No Mercy No Respite, Head the Wisdom of the Ancients; Have Pride in Your Colours, Eye to Eye.
Current Chapter Master: Serras
Throughout the 36th Millenium, agents of the Imperium were engrossed in a set of experiments to create the 13th Founding of Space Marine chapters. It is to this dark and shrouded time that the Draconic Legions trace their origins.
A fleet-based chapter with no homeworld, the Draconic Legion specialized in sudden and brutal assaults launched from orbit – why waste precious time landing and deploying armour when you can simply descend directly onto the enemy on wings of fire.
While their primogenitor is unknown, many were quick to connect their penchant for flame weaponry and their namesake to the Salamanders. Others would witness their furious charges shatter enemy positions and swear it was like watching the Sons of Sanguinius at war. Still others would whisper that the chapter's origins were far more arcane, rumours spreading that it was in fact the blood of dragons from myth and legend that flowed in their veins.
However, little of this was to be examined. Despite a series of early victories against orks, insurgents, and renegades, while en route to a planetary governor's call for help, all contact with the chapter was suddenly lost. The Inquisition, worried that the Draconic Legion had met a similar fate to those of the other 13th Founding chapters, expunged all data of the chapter and its creation from Imperial records.
The truth of the matter was quite different. The Legion fleet found itself wracked with a sudden and vicious warp storm – damaging ships and throwing the fleet wildly off course. As the fleet made an emergency breach from the warp, the chapter found itself in a populated Imperial system. What little data the cogitators could find identified it as the Steros system and long-range scanners found a roiling warp storm in all directions. Their location also appeared to be on the far side of the Eye of Terror from the rest of the Imperium. They were as far and isolated as it was possible to be.
The moment of awe and uncertainty did not last long however. A distress call came from Steros Prime describing attacks from some xenos raiders. Despite all that had transpired, the chapter master believed in aiding the people of the Imperium, no matter how far removed. The fleet moved into orbit and launched an overwhelming offensive that cut through the raiding parties of the Eldar's dark cousins.
As the foul xenos withdrew through their arcane portals, the chapter master met with the planetary governor. It turned out that the system had been isolated for centuries, perhaps even millennia – as the records were poor – but had held onto the Imperial Creed and used its resource heavy planets to maintain a fully functional interplanetary system.
It was not without struggle though. While many outside enemies were kept at bay by the warp storms, the Dark Eldar seemed to bypass them completely to appear suddenly and unexpectedly. There were also occasional cult uprisings and incursions from the Immaterium. The people of Steros had learned the hard way how to fight the daemonic, but were aided by an unusually high number of psykers produced by the warp storms' presence.
The Draconic Legion settled in as protectors of the system, repelling both xenos and daemon. As the years ground on into decades, then centuries, the chapter helped expand manufacturing and technology, and with the aid of once lost STCs found in Sterosian hands, the system flourished. The chapter itself also found need to expand. Creating close ties with the seven Great Houses that ruled Steros, fresh marines swelled their ranks until they were truly more legion than chapter.
Soon, centuries turned into millennia, and the Draconic Legion, alongside the militaries of Steros, stood vigilant against Eldar Raiders, drifting Ork hulks, creeping tendrils of the Tyrannid, and, of course, Daemons. Under all the years of service, it was the slowest corruption that proved the most dangerous threat of all, building until it was finally ready to make its move.
It was the second in command to the current Chapter Master Serras that finally pulled the trigger. Believing the legion was destined for greater things, he led a group of powerful veterans in an attempted coup. Serras and the reigning loyalists did not fall, however, and after beating the traitors back across the system, had them trapped in a corner.
Whether it was coincidence, in answer to some plea from the traitors, or rather simply the Fate of the legion, it was at this moment that the millennia old warp storms finally broke. The traitors fled towards the Eye of Terror, and Serras pursued with a vast, united force of Astartes bent on revenge. The legion harassed the traitors from world to world, penetrating into the Eye. The Eye, however, was not dormant.
Abaddon was preparing for his latest Black Crusade, and one of his lieutenants informed him of a communique from new renegades wishing to join his cause. Interest soon turned to dismay at reports of the immense force that was chasing these new renegades right into the Eye. He quickly organized an vast reaction force of traitors and daemons and personally led them to crush this interference.
The initial waves of battle were brutal and saw horrific casualties on both sides. Serras soon realized that the enemy before them was on a truly galactic threat scale. His push blunted but not broken, Serras diverted and withdrew the legion from the Eye of Terror; if he could regroup and rejoin with the Imperium, then there was actually a chance of fighting Abaddon's forces.
Unfortunately, as the legion was forced to go around the Eye, by the time they joined the Imperial forces the Cadian Gate had already been breached and Abaddon's Crusade was moving onto its next target. While eager to pursue them, numerous pleas for help came from the beleaguered sectors around the Gate as traitor remnants continued to wreak havoc. Knowing that the Gate could not be properly reinforced until these were dealt with, Serras pledged aid. Decisive victories were scored against the Iron Warriors and Word Bearers, as well as shutting down opportunistic groups of Dark Eldar and Necrontyr, returning the whole of the Agrippina sector to Imperial control.
Soon thereafter, a great WAAAAGH! tore through the Damocles Gulf, and the legion won accolades protecting Imperial assets from Orks, Tau, and Necron. With numerous smaller victories scattered throughout, the Draconic Legion became recognized and appreciated – if not fully trusted – by the more mainstream Imperial Factions. In particular, saving the Forge World of Agrippina alongside gifts of ancient STCs and an Ark Mechanicus from the Steros system made quick and unshakable allies of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
Ready to return to the hunt, the legion found itself redirected by the dire warnings of an Eldar seer to a seemingly insignificant system called Mirnovy whose fate would hold dire consequences at large...
The Dark Imperium
++ To the great and esteemed Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the XIII Chapter the Ultramarines, I, Chapter Master Serras of the Draconic Legion, wish to extend my gratitude for your offer of the newly minted Primaris Space Marines. However, I must humbly decline. As you may already be aware, even now we are distrusted for our size – whispers of something called Badab accompany aggression from erstwhile allies. In addition, while the specimens you sent to us were quite remarkable, they uniformly failed the Test of Fire and are clearly not True Dragons. They also lack the caution and experience I feel is necessary to fight this new war.
We are a legion built upon strength and experience – a legion that heeds the lessons of those who have fallen before us. In this Age of Darkness such lessons are paramount. Your new soldiers are impressive, but know nothing of what we are truly facing. In truth, and with respect, neither do you. You have not seen into the Eye. While there are flaws in the changes the Imperium has undergone since the glorious days of your time, these were not arbitrary. War has changed. The Enemy has changed. In the arrays of astartes I have seen in your crusade, I see the grandeur, the spendour, of the Great Crusade – a second coming of the holy Emperor's conquering of the galaxy.
But I also see a furious spearhead piercing the Galaxy in the same ways as before. You cannot so blindly push towards the Eye. You cannot brush aside the encroaching Tyranid Menace or the awakening of the Necrotyr. You cannot antagonize the Eldar or the Tau as we try to hold off the rest. Even the Orks, for as little as they have changed over the last ten thousand years, are attracted to the resulting bloodshed and are known for taking a well planned battle and throwing it into chaos.
The Imperium is split in two – carved in twain by the Cicatrix Maledictum. While your crusade pushes into Abaddon's armies, the rest of the Imperium grows darker by the day. As it stands, the day the Indomitus Crusade ends, we will be ruling over the broken ashes of a once great empire. It is with those beliefs that I dedicate my legion to protecting the lost half of the Imperium. Our... large number of highly skilled psykers has allowed us the ability to navigate the Dark Imperium. We will endeavor to keep the citizens of the Imperium standing until a true re-connection is possible. Where possible, we will send support to the crusade, but our first priority for now will be Imperial Worlds trapped within the Dark Imperium. Good hunting Lord Guilliman, Ave Imperator.++
When the Ultramarines' call for help defending the Konor System from the traitorous Death Guard was received, Serras sat conflicted. He was wary to extend his forces so soon after the events of Mirnovy, but the portents his Prognosticars were divining brought dangerous tidings of a moment balanced on a knife's edge. It was here that the doors to his command chamber opened wide and a hulking form slowly clanked through.
Smoldering flames glowing in the air around his sarcophagus, Verdolon the Ancient stood before the current chapter master of the Draconic Legion. Lowering his chassis in emulation of kneeling, the ancient vox speakers croaked to life.
“Honoured Chapter Master, I have heard tidings of Konor and Lord Guilliman's call for aid. Have you decided how you are going to respond?”
Serras stood up from his command throne and approached his venerable advisor.
“No, old friend, I have not. I have walked through a dozen different engagement scenarios given our current force distributions, and have not liked any so far. Our fronts have us stretched thin.”
“I know as much,” replied Verdolon, his voice shifting as if nodding his head. “And in that case I have come to ask for a favor.”
Serras was stunned – Verdolon had never come to request anything before. “Of course, old friend. Name it.”
“I wish to go to the Konor System. I have... an old debt I would like to repay to the XIII Legion. If I can assist in routing this plague, I believe honour and duty will be fulfilled.”
Serras paused for a moment. Despite knowing Verdolon for as long as he had been an astartes, and being close for his entire reign as chapter master, he still knew very little of the old warrior's history. What this “debt” could be was beyond his guess. Yet, if this was something so important to Verdolon that he would come directly to him to request it, then it would only be right to grant it.
“Alright. I won't push you for any details, but if this will satisfy your honour and duty, then it must be done. Take the Syrax, our fastest strike cruiser. That should get you and your vanguard there for planetfall. I will gather forces and supplies and rendevous with you in system. Make the traitors pay and bring glory to the Dragon.”
** Astaramis **
Verdolon stationed a wall of armour before a local population center and in the way of an advancing Death Guard army. Weathering the full firepower of the Death Guard's front line, Verdolon stood as a burning shield before his allies. Their vile sorcerer-lord teleported in behind Verdolon and his massive scythe managed to cut through his pneumatic cables, exposed as they were by the enormous onslaught Verdolon had taken. Yet as his knees ground to a halt, Verdolon smiled behind his mask. With everything concentrated on him, the rest of his vanguard was left unscathed and in position for the counterattack. The sorcerer-lord was ripped asunder as an ironclad drove his chainfist through the traitors pock-marked catephractii armour. Plague Marines were scattered and sent flying – even their supernatural toughness buckling under the weight of dreadnought wielded power fists. A daemon prince was pulled apart by a dreadnought-interred chaplain before the noble hero was brought down once-more. By fire and fist, the advance was broken and tossed back, sparing the frightened citizens.
** Konor **
After Verdolon's victory against the Death Guard on Astaramis, Serras arrived with reinforcements and landed aid on the system capital of Konor. While he and Osaka were securing a grand city, they were suddenly attacked by a World Eaters force – berserkers and daemonic engines abandoning defensive zones and racing towards fresh prey. Serras quickly organized his men into a wall of heavy flamers and guided melta fire that tore into the traitors. As each wave of berserkers hit the Legion's front line, the stern veterans fell back in organized and punishing maneuvers. On the northern front, berserkers broke through the veterans and Osaka pushed into them, slicing bodies in two and burning the traitors alive with immaterial fire, even besting a mighty maulerfiend. While casualties were incurred, the World Eater force was broken and the city was reclaimed.
Elsewhere, Captain Centorius led a contingent of heavy armor against a cabal of Thousand Sons. Trapped in their buildings by an ever encroaching line of dreadnoughts, the traitors were pounded relentlessly by Centorius' plasma cannons and artillery. Under his watchful eye, his sector was cleansed of taint.
** Nethamus **
Redeployed to Nethamus, Captain Centorius drew a defensive line before the vast agri-machines that the planet's laborers were trying to repair. While there had been no signs of cult activity nearby, Verdolon had a feeling about this location. Centorius was surprised when a force of cultists was driven into their ranks by what appeared to be black-clad astartes with iconography reminiscent of the Dark Angels. Winged terminators even appeared within his battle line and his lieutenant was murdered before even being able to act. Staying collected, Centorius stabilized his battle line and his heavy weapons pounded the traitors in their midst and across the field. Verdolon led his own brethren forward, and he broke through to smash his way into the black-clad astartes. Fighting almost as if he knew something, Verdolon threw aside warriors to close in on a specific robed figure. The commanding astartes traitor pummeled the ancient armour with two ornate pistols, but nothing found purchase against the masterfully crafted plates. Verdolon got his hands on the traitor and made to crush him in his dreadclaws... but tore through nothing but flapping robes – the traitors' warlord had vanished, leaving his men behind. Furious, Verdolon took out his rage on the unfortunate traitor astartes so abandoned.
** Vanitor **
Using his powers, Osaka was able to home in on a beacon on the surface of Vanitor. He and Serras raced down in Stormravens, blitzing through the immaterial lighting that ravaged the clouds above. Upon breaking through, the Legion was greeted not by vile traitors, but by a sea of swarming xenos! It appeared that the psychic distress beacons had attracted a host of Tyranid to the planet. Dropping out of the sky, hordes of carapace were burst by rapid fire shells, clearing zones for the veterans inside to disembark and put the remainder to the torch. A towering Broodlord even challenged Osaka, but was felled by the librarian. With nothing left but smoldering chitin, the Legion had secured another victory for the Imperium.
** Drenthal **
After having successfully placed their part of the explosive payload to destroy Drenthal, Osaka and Serras raced to escape with some of their most veteran pilots. However, a contingent of Dark Mechanicus and traitorous Imperial Guard stood in their way, backed up by a towering Renegade Knight. Bolts and missiles pummeled the traitors as the Stormravens flew in, but increasing firepower forced them to land and disembark – having to go the last leg of their journey on foot. The knight burst through a building to crush some veterans with the remaining falling back as their Ironclad took the fight to the machine with its mighty chainfist. Aerial firepower from the stormravens and a stormhawk ravaged the enemy infantry, and with their knight falling to the elite dreadnought, Osaka, Serras, and all of their infantry made it to the drop zone for evac.
** Loebos **
The mad primarch of the Death Guard had turned Loebos into a huge planetary missile, and the loyalists in the system were all assigned different engine zones to attack. Drawing once more on the veteran pilots from Drenthal, the Legion swooped down upon a force of Emperor's Children and their vile Daemonic allies. Three dark rituals were being performed to assist in propelling the planet – three critical objectives to stop. Osaka and his warriors broke through daemon-engines and seductive daemonettes to break one, while Serras put another to the torch. Verdolon strode forward into the heart of the enemy to stop the third and final ritual. In a display to make clear that his debt was paid, he burned and carved his way through their lord, a vast number of Noise marines, two waves of daemonettes, and two of their siren-esque leaders. With the destruction of all targets, the mission was complete and Verdolon and the Legion had fulfilled their honour and duty to the Ultramarines.
Serras' legacy began not long after his birth. As insurgents and terrorists attacked the noble household he belonged to, his family's manor was set ablaze in illegal promethium. Rescuers were unable to get close until morning, and sifted through the wreckage mournfully as one after another the twisted, ashen bodies of the aristocrats were unearthed. Until the cry of a small child was heard, and the emergency responders found Serras, completely unscathed by the flames, looking up at them with bright red eyes and platinum hair. It was clear that another of the True Dragons had been born.
From that point on, he was groomed for the life of an astartes, raised for the mental and physical acuity necessary. It was no surprise when he passed the Trials and entered the ranks of the Draconic Legion. While he held the legion's propensity for flame and melta weaponry, he also possessed an even temper, displaying wisdom, patience, and strategy beyond his years. The leadership could tell he would be a captain one day, and sure enough Serras worked his way up and into command. More than a century later, when the previous chapter master had fallen in battle against ravening daemons, the Council of Eight voted Serras as the new Chapter Master.
Serras ran the legion proactively and yet with restraint – driving quickly against threats but ensuring that the legion's more aggressive tendencies were held in check to prevent tactical mistakes. In maintaining such oversight, he relied a great deal on his second in command, Darius. Darius had been the second most supported candidate for Chapter Master, and Serras recognized the man's great strengths and charisma, as well as wanting to acknowledge how close the decision for Chapter Master had been.
However, Darius held great pride that had been scorned at the Council of Eight. He also saw a legion falling into complacency in protecting this sector and failing to live up to its true potential. Words whispered softly to him at first, but soon he had true communication with those beyond the warp storm that had trapped them. He was told that the legion could be brought out of the storm, and given unimaginable power and rightful place in the galaxy – that he would have his rightful place. It was everything he dreamed for. Pacts completed in secret, he was careful to plan out everything and be properly patient. Despite the voices' demands for swiftness, he knew that such a coup could not be rushed. For a full century he served under Serras, but spread the seeds of his treachery through the First House of the legion, Serras' own house of command. Darius believed that if Serras, and his most-loyal inner circle, could be killed swiftly, then all of his groundwork should give him control of the legion with little more bloodshed.
When the night came, Darius ambushed Serras in his own chambers. Caught off guard, Serras was left at a huge disadvantage, and despite fighting off his would-be murderers well, Darius managed to sever the entirety of Serras' right arm. However, the Chapter Master proved harder to kill and more tenacious than expected, and with the heroic sacrifice of his personal guard, Serras managed to escape. Realizing what this would bring down on them, Darius gathered all of the followers he had attracted over the century and raced off world, hoping to outrun the imminent retribution while petitioning his more immaterial allies for aid.
Serras was enraged by the betrayal, and led the pursuit personally as soon as the medicae stabilized him. And he would not track down his former second in command empty handed – his master smith fashioned a bionic arm which ended in the likeness of a dragon with inbuilt flame weaponry. The Dragon's Fang would pierce armour and burn through his enemies just like the beasts of old. He now held the fire of his bloodline in his very hand. Armed with that and his relic sword The Burning Brand, he assumed command aboard the battle barge Glaurung and gave chase to those who sought to undo his legion.
Vicerys the Bold
As a young astartes, Vicerys was always the first into the fray, charging in with reckless abandon. His superiors were unsure of the youth when it was time to begin his psychic training, but the boy took to it with passion and determination. Yet while tempered enough that his mind would never stray, even as a codicier he was always to be found pushing to the front of any engagement.
It was this fervor that saw him as the first responder to a distress call from the mining station above Lysos IV. Knowing that his strike cruiser was closer than any other nearby help, he led his men in to protect the miners and Imperial citizens stationed there, even knowing that aid was still a few days out.
It wasn't long before his barricades were ravaged by the terrible Xenos known as the Tyranid, monsters peeling out of walls and ducts to assault his forces. Still, he refused to let anything by his defensive positions and into the inner shelter filled to the brim with innocents. Repelling wave after wave, Vicerys bolstered his men with psychic might, filled the halls with Immaterial fire, and waded through horrors brandishing his arcane force axe.
A few days later the next strike cruiser arrived, boarding the station with fresh reinforcements to aid the beleaguered defenders. As kill teams swept the compound of xenos taint, the command section made their way to the shelter. The hallways were filled with bodies – alien and astartes alike – and charred metal led the way to the barricades Vicerys had built. The great doors to the shelter still held, acid and claw marks criss-crossing its surface. However, before it lay the entirety of Vicerys' small strike force, and at the heart of it, buried under the bodies of two carnifexes, were the tattered remains of Vicerys himself, axe still held in an iron grip.
As the commander knelt to say final rights for the fallen hero, his own librarian gasped and pushed past. The librarian felt a psychic pulse and weak, lingering words. As the librarian and the apothecary approached the body, they discovered that – through sheer force of will and psychic might – Vicerys clung to life. The medicae immediately went to work stabilizing him, and the librarian turned to the commander. It was clear that Vicerys' time was not over – this was a hero who still had a great deal of fight left in him for the Emperor. So it was that when he was returned to his ship, Vicerys was interred in the body of a Dreadnought. Ever since, he has continued to smash his way to the forefront of every battle before him – crushing foes with his massive power fist and carving through the hardiest of enemies with an enormous force axe, reminiscent of his weapon of old.
Crassus the Mad
Chaplain Crassus was an astartes inspired. He was gifted with oratory that rivaled the High Chaplain himself. As his voice carried over the battlefield, his men were gripped with almost unnatural fervor that pushed them through seemingly impossible victories. His deeds were becoming legend, and there were those that whispered that perhaps some day he may even rise to the position of High Chaplain. Fate, it seemed, had other plans.
What had been a routine repulsion of orks from Vartan IX turned into a full fledged WAAAGH! and Crassus' forces became surrounded in the last standing starport. Knowing that to abandon the starport was to abandon the planet, Crassus declared that they would stand their ground until reinforcements arrived. Buoyed by his words, the astartes dug in and fought hard for every inch they were pushed back. Wave upon wave of the green tide broke against the ceramite wall. Still, pushed back they were. Every assault took another few marines, and another, and another. It was a desperate defense that grew more dire by the hour.
As if guided by the hand of the Emperor himself, relief came down on wings of fire just as the orks were getting in position to overrun the starport. Fresh marines slammed into exhausted xenos, and their assault was put to the torch. Pushing the greenskins back from the command center of the starport, a great pile of bodies was uncovered – the heroic last stand of Crassus and his honor guard. The guard lay broken and scattered, and Crassus stood impaled upon the warboss' immense power claw, his own crozius buried in the beast's skull. Upon touching him to remove his body for a proper burial, Crassus coughed up blood and tried to shout further oratory – to continue to lead his men in choking gasps of blood. Seeing such incredible determination and will, it was decided that Crassus would be honoured with placement within a dreadnought suitable for such a hero. So it was that Crassus was inducted into the Hall of Ancients.
However, all did not go well. Upon waking in his adamantine sarcophagus, Crassus began to flail wildly and thrash about the chamber, slaughtering the attendants working on him. Violent nonsense and words of rage bellowed from his vox caster. Upon re-securing him, it became evident that the rage and fervor that he had once instilled in others now gripped him in the throes of madness.
After much deliberation, it was decided that the Legion would not destroy nor discard Crassus. He had been a worthy hero in life, and now was someone to be pitied, not feared. He was also not without use. While not easily corralled, upon the battlefield he wreaked a vicious toll and would plow through damage like it was nothing. Even in his madness he was a force to be reckoned with. And so it is with a heavy heart that Crassus remains sedated and chained until such time as he is needed on the battlefield, with the hope that someday he may wake from his madness and join their ranks as brother once again.
A young captain serving under Serras, Orphean worked his way up the ranks in the same grinding and methodical manner in which he delivers warfare. He leads from the front like many others, but relies not on his personal melee prowess to deliver Justice. Instead he turns to the kinds of heavy firepower oft overlooked by his peers. He will drop right into the heart of the enemy and stand as a firm bulwark protecting overlapping heavy weapons teams as they systematically disassemble the enemies of the Emperor.
Knowing full well his brothers' penchants for throwing themselves into the face of the Enemy, Captain Centorius gained notice as a calm head that could steady the burning drive of his men into an effective and entrenched gun line. He is a wise captain who knows that some battles can only be won by proper application of heavy firepower, and has prided himself on tactical application of his company's heavy support. Wielding a golden boltgun from the reliquary and power fist, he precisely guides his army's firepower to break through infantry and armour alike.
Verdolon the Ancient
Little is known of Verdolon. No records exist of his interment, and he speaks not a word of his origins. The earliest mention of his time in the Legion was being awakened from his dreadnought's slumber to advise the first chapter master. Now, as then, he acts not as true leadership for the Legion, but as wise advisor, as one who has seen many times over the life span of an astartes and holds within him a wealth of knowledge and patience to assist whomever the current chapter master is.
While he mostly takes an advisory role, there are times when he is called to battle. Whatever his origins, his ancient suit of dreadnought armour is all but impervious, and he sprays the battlefield with burning promethium that leaves even tanks a melted, dripping wreck. He is burning wrath incarnate, bearer of the title Ashmantle.
The Red Priest
Amongst the indiginous populations of Steros, there is an order that extols the virtues of the Lord of Light. As clearly this shining beacon of righteousness and divine fire is none-other than the Emperor, their practices were allowed to continue. The Red Priest is one of the rare instances of a member of this sect rising into the vaunted ranks of the astartes. While wearing the trappings of the Medicae, it is said that he raises those felled on the battlefield with naught but words and a touch. In one hand he wields an ornate chainsword of master craftsmanship, and in the other a goblet containing a piece of the Eternal Flame – a fire that never extinguishes or dims and is worshiped by many on the planet. In the midst of battle, he shouts uncanny predictions – claimed to come from seeing visions in the flames – and he brings a fervor to those around him that push their strength and battle drive to heightened levels.
While the more scholarly members of the Medicae distrust him and other similar “priests,” there is no doubting the prophecies he shares or the fire he ignites in the hearts of his men.
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Third Post: The story of Osaka. This one is much larger and more narrative than the quick bios above (he is my main hero after all ^_^). Also, the main parts of his back story were put in place when Abaddon's sword was a single attack that one-shot whatever it hit (ah those were the days ;P).
In howling gale the young boy stood defiantly, broken stone and cracked earth laying strewn about him. Candidates from the Northern Wilds often exceeded expectations, having fought nature, beast, and more from a young age. But this... this one was different. Where all struggled and most failed to overcome the last set of obstacles, he had merely battered his way through them, smashing boulder and stone aside in a relentless grind towards the landing site. The towering giants of the astartes looked down at the boy, bits of rock still jutting from his knuckles. The grainy hiss of a communications channel sounded. “This is Sergeant Lokas reporting. We have one for the librarians.”
The Slayer of Kings
Coils of smoke rose from nearby craters as Codicier Osaka stood in the small village square, the forces of the Draconic Legion foiling another raid by the Eldar's dark cousins. With a wave of his hand, immaterial flame arced out in front of him, the lithe bodies of his enemies writhing in the conflagration. Behind him he heard the searing crack of air that signaled a barrage of multi-melta blasts carving across the broken road to end a vicious scorpion-like creature, its carapace bursting in pustules of flesh and molten metal. Attention returning the the pirates before him, he carved into another squad in bright, crimson flashes, his psychic abilities allowing him to weave almost as quickly as they could, but bringing the might of an astartes behind each blow.
A high-pitched wine broke his concentration for a moment and he had but a second to notice a burning raider vessel hurtling across the square right at his melee. With no time to dodge he threw up a makeshift kine shield. The ship crashed into the ground and as the world filled with fire and shrapnel, Osaka felt the road beneath his feet give way and he plummeted below.
With a groan and a creak of damaged armour, he pushed aside pieces of rubble and stood up, finding himself in some kind of underground passageway. Noting a few broken ribs and a minor puncture in his left lung, his autosensors picked up heat and a life sign from further down the hall. With caution he made his way along the torch-lit stone hall, a clearly old and ancient place, at once intriguing and familiar.
The passageway opened up into a large room, adorned in gold and sigils – a place of great import, a place of prayer. A lone man in plain brown robes stood there, face old and weathered by the hard life of the Wilds. As the man's gaze fell upon Osaka, a warm smile spread across his face.
“After so many long years, it looks like you've finally returned.”
Unsure of what this man was talking, caution flooded the young librarian and Osaka made ready to strike at a moment's notice.
“No need to be so aggressive,” replied the old man, dusting off one of the long tables in the room. “I'm not surprised that you don't remember this place. It was decades ago that you ascended into the ranks of the Emperor's great warriors, and you were but a small child then. Oh how you've grown though. Your father would be proud.”
Sensing no danger from the old man, and experiencing an inexplicable nostalgia, Osaka relaxed his guard and took in the room. Books and records were piled high on tables and shelves, old, yellowed parchment wavering in the torch light. Tapestries hung from the walls, depicting scenes of battle and victories belonging to some time long past. Returning his gaze to the old man, his helmet vox hissed to life. “How do you know me, old man. Even if you had seen me as a child, I should be impossible to recognize in this form and covered in armour.”
The old man, still smiling, simply shook his head. “Your body may be unrecognizable, but your aura is the still the same. No amount of ceramite can hide it. It burns brightly just as it was with your father, rest his soul. You may not remember, but many of these victories you see around the room belong to him, before even my time. I can really only remember him vaguely, to tell you the truth,” he continued, a note of melancholy now. “I myself was but a child when he fell, and it was my father who would eventually pass this task on to me. And now you have finally come to take your legacy.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about old man, and this mysticism reeks of heresy. Tell me why I shouldn't kill you where you stand.”
Unperturbed by the librarian's words, the old man spoke calmly. “Because I am not important. Only the Slayer of Kings.” With that, the old man gestured to the back wall, where an immense axe, taller than even an astartes, hung, twin heads glittering with embedded crystals. As Osaka's gaze fell upon it, it was as if the weapon began to hum almost imperceptibly.
“Ah, yes,” the old man spoke softly now, “you can feel the connection. This weapon has been passed down in your family for generations. So heavy that no single man can even lift it, yet in your father's hands it danced gracefully through his enemies. It has left a legacy of shattered rebellions, broken warlords, and fallen, would-be kings. It is an ender of great things. And it is now yours.” The old man stepped aside, clearing the way to the weapon.
Osaka approached, cautious but drawn to it. Unclasping his helmet and looking upon it with his own eyes, he could see the intricate warp filigrees running through every inch of the weapon. It was a marvel that dwarfed his own force weapon. To think that a mortal man wielded this with such power was stunning. And yet he could feel the undeniable connection. There was truth in the old man's tale. He reached out his hand and grasped the haft. There was a rush of psychic connection, and Osaka could feel the rightness of the blade, how it responded and called to his blood. It belonged to him as much as it had belonged to his ancestors before him. The heavy hooks holding the weapon creaked as Osaka gingerly lifted the axe and swung it around his shoulder. The blade arced like lightning, and moved as weightlessly. He had never held a weapon like it.
“And with that,” the old man spoke, “my watch is over. I am glad you were able to return for it. I know not what destinies will be strewn before it, and am sad that none lay here, but just as you were meant for even greater things, so is it. Go, and lay low tyrants greater than us mortals could ever dream of.”
Osaka donned his helmet and left the old man where he stood. His senses told him the battle above was still raging, and he had spent too long away as it was. Still, as he strode from the room, axe slung back over his shoulder, the old man's words spoke with uneasy weight to them. Striding once again into the darkness, his mind drifted back to the ancient weapon: this Slayer of Kings.
Artillery pounded the cracked earth and fire streamed from the skies as armies of black and green crashed together once more. What began as an execution of dirty traitors to the legion turned into a bold trap as the recently identified forces of “The Despoiler” sought vengeance for the legion's incursion of the Eye. Captain Iysanos was shouting for more fire support to keep the great hill the legion had taken overlooking the field of battle, the veteran astartes determined to maintain their tactical advantage over the enemy that had poured down on them. Osaka and Champion Velek flanked the captain, laying renegades low with axe and sword, protecting their sworn charge.
A sudden crack of heat and air accompanied a teleport displacement and the hulking forms of black and gold terminators emerged from nothingness, coils of smoke still trailing from the edges of their armour. One stood still larger than the rest, a daemonblade of such power Osaka could hear its whispers held in one hand, the other an immense golden talon whose providence was etched into the very fabric of all loyalist astartes. Abaddon himself had arrived.
Before the ancient bolters had even begun to fire Osaka and Velek were on the move, racing to intercept these dangerous new warriors. Osaka's swing arced hard and wide, rippling lighting tracing its path as it sliced through one terminator and crashed the next aside. Velek dove in, ducking and weaving in martial skill as his blade sought purchase in the joints of his slower opponent's armour. Abaddon ignored them both, striding toward Iysanos while firing pinning vollies from the Talon. Iysanos brought his shield to bear, scattering the shells like insects as he pushed through the storm towards the self-styled Warmaster. With a mighty heave Iysanos swung his power fist, but too slow even for the bulk of the traitor's terminator armour.
Backhand, shield slam, uppercut, and block, Iysanos never stopped moving, attempting to drive back the enemy's great leader. Abaddon's blade sparked off of the captain's shield time and again, sending coruscating energies across the ground. Their battle was inelegant, but daunting in sheer force. However, Abaddon had more experience than Iysanos could begin to muster, and once the captain's measure was found Abaddon struck like a viper, the Talon rending deep through the captain's power fist, blood and ceramite scattering about.
Velek and Osaka bolted toward their fallen captain as Iysanos staggered backwards, shield barely weathering Abaddon's blows while the despoiler laughed wickedly. Velek was always the quicker of the two, and swung into Abaddon with his twin blades, lightning strikes parried or simply bouncing off of the ancient war plate. With a dismissing backhand, the Talon threw Velek meters away, weapons skittering across the barren earth. In that moment Osaka's axe scythed through the air, forcing the Despoiler back a step to avoid the swing. With great, sweeping arcs, Osaka pressed the attack, each blow forcing the enemy back step by step, barely an inch from each cleaving strike. With a burst of momentum, Osaka swung the axe around in a massive overhead strike, moving the weapon far quicker than could be expected given its size – he knew there was no way for Abaddon to move backwards quickly enough to dodge this time.
Abaddon didn't even attempt to dodge. His talon-ed right hand shot up and grabbed the haft of the axe mid-swing. The weight of the blow pushed back and down, the earth under the Despoiler's feet cracking with the force. But the blade stopped short of his body. Grinning, the arch-traitor's left arm flashed and Drach'nyen sliced down through Osaka, carving from the right side of his face down into his body and out again in but a moment. The last thing that Osaka saw as time slowed and he fell to the ground was his captain broken and bleeding as Velek rose to his feet, reaching for a sword dropped by a fallen Khornate lord.
Then everything went black.
Death and Rebirth
As Drach'nyen passed through Osaka, he felt his very soul shorn from his body. Gone was the chaos of battle, and in its place a kaleidoscopic void that stretched out not just for what seemed all directions, but for all time past and future as well. His mind blew through the Immaterium, ricocheting off lives and history, centuries passing in moments, moments lasting centuries. His mind grew foggy as his very essence began to dissipate.
In the last, fleeting moments of self-existence, Osaka felt something, a faint, passing connection. With a supreme effort of will, he focused what little of him was left on that touch, searching it out. The connection grew stronger, and in the distance he could see, could feel, a small, black space in the midst of the chaos and colour. As he watched, it grew and spread, looming closer and blotting out everything in a veil of impenetrable darkness. He fell, deeper and deeper into the void, terrified and yet strangely comfortable in this fear. It felt reassuring. Familiar. Almost warm. A well of absolute darkness that had always been part of him and yet only ever existed out here.
And with each passing moment, he could feel more of himself return, drawing on this darkness and rebuilding his very soul. With a deep breath, taking in all of himself and more, Osaka's eyes flew open and he coughed into a dust grey sky, feeling the pattering of rain drip onto his face through his broken helmet, the coolness of the earth reaching through cracks in his armour. He was alive.
But not alone. He could sense life forms nearby, crimson marks of lust and degradation all around him, but each moment he tried to concentrate brought stabs of bright pain into his mind. Disoriented and weak, he could do nothing by lay there as they drew closer, examining the broken bodies strewn across the battlefield for survivors – for prisoners. Soon, Osaka was discovered, and lithe hands bound chains to him and lifted him into a cage dangling from their hovering ship. Before he lost consciousness, Osaka found it amusingly ironic that he had now fallen into the hands of the Dark Eldar he had fought so long against.
His body stripped down to nothing but ragged trousers, Osaka stood in the dark on a large, circular platform. He had no idea how long he had been caged up and tormented, and less idea still where his weapons and armour were taken, but at long last the goalers had ushered him along barbed hallways and onto the dias to await his debut in the arena. Great, heavy manacles pulled at his wrists, thick chains disappearing into the ground by his feet. With a grating and clanking start, the platform stuttered into life and began its slow journey upwards.
The sudden sights and sounds of the amphitheatre were jarring – a vast circular arena covered in smears of blood, heads of various species and beast impaled upon pikes around the edges; huge crowds cheering and jeering as loud as could be, indulging in every moment of excess.
Behind a clear protective barrier, a warrior flanked by outrageous flayed skins rose from his throne and the masses dropped silent. With a wave of his hand, large doors opposite the dias ground open, and a strange xenos creature – bristling with quilled fur and sharp blades – snapped at the chains similarly wrapped around it.
Still, Osaka stood silent and unmoving, his long dark hair hanging lank and matted before his face, obscuring his features save for a faint green glow emanating from the right side of his face. After a brief but clearly exciting speech, the leader of the coven waved his arm, the crowds burst into cheering, and all guards slunk back behind heavy doors. The beast strained against its leash, pulling forward one link at a time, until whatever held it back released its grip. Osaka glanced down at the chains still holding him to the floor, then snapped his head towards the beast, locking eyes as it was preparing to pounce. It froze.
Every fiber in its body stopped and its breath became faint and shallow. A sense of wrongness and fear coursed through its simple mind, neurons flashing danger signs in the way only a simple predator could truly understand. Unfortunately for the crowd, while all could feel something was not quite right, they were far more complex beings and had long left behind that primal part of them that recognized imminent death.
Inhaling quickly, strength flooded Osaka's body – more than he had ever been able to summon before – and he pulled the chains clear out of the ground into long, coiling whips. With a flick of his wrist, the first chain passed through the front rows of the crowd. It took multiple heartbeats for those behind to realize that the blood and gore suddenly sprayed on them was not from the arena, but the audience. By the time the second chain landed, however, panic broke out. Guards tried to sprint from slowly opening doors, terrified onlookers trampled each other in a desperate attempt to escape, and Osaka continued to whirl the chains around him like bladed links of death. As guards were carved and thrown away, splinter fire falling on his hardened body like no more than paper cuts, his enhanced psychic might made him appear more like a natural disaster than a warrior.
Their leader shouted something as blast doors lowered around him, ensuring his escape. From the same door that the beast – now long escaped in the chaos – had emerged from came a massive, clicking scorpion-like creature that motored toward Osaka, a nightmare given form. It snapped at him with both pincers and he caught each in one hand of his own, muscles bunching and straining as he held it back. The creature stabbed with its tail, Osaka twisting his head out of the way by mere inches. With a mighty heave, he pulled with his right hand and with a dreadful tearing sound the creatures pincer arm came free. In the moment it took shrieking unnaturally in pain, Osaka drove the claw down through its head, ending the monster instantly. He then strode toward the doorway from which it had come, descending back into the darkness of the underground.
Inside, he slaughtered his way through each wave of guards that came before him, fueled by preternatural strength and endurance, drawing on reserves of psychic power he never dreamed of when he was still in training. Soon, he arrived at the armoury, at the place where the Dark Eldar kept their spoils and gladiator weapons. Ripping through the metal doors, he impaled one of the two guards through the chest with the chain on his left hand, and with a wave of his right threw the other against the wall and pinned him off the ground. His comrade gurgling softly, Osaka bore his gaze into the restrained guard.
“My axe,” he said. “You know what I am talking about. Where is it.”
With a whimper the guard struggled and pointed to one of the many doors in the room.
“Thank you,” replied Osaka as he turned and walked to the door, the wet sounds of horrific psychic mutilation following him into the next room. There, propped up against the wall among dozens of other, esoteric weapons, stood his axe. Hefting the blade once more, he strode back into the hallway. Given that the prisoner cages and stolen armoury were likely close to whatever passed for a starport in this place, Osaka took off at a sprint, extending his senses as he darted down corridor after corridor.
At long last, he emerged into a large hanger bay littered with craft of varying shapes and sizes. Blazing across the deck, he carved up what soldiers and hands found themselves in his path before they realized what had happened, and he jumped into a mid-sized fighter. Using a vague remembrance of xenos ships from his training, and drawing on psychic guidance and intuition, he powered the ship up and clumsily rocketed out of the hanger bay. He was shocked to find not the blackness of space outside, but strange coruscating colours – yet without the cloying pull of the warp.
With no time to ponder his circumstances, he pushed the fighter's speed to its limits and flew along the crimson pathways before him, winding through the bizarre web of passageways at random. With each minute, he could feel his pursuers lagging further and further behind – lacking the speed and determination to spend so many resources tracking him down. Soon minutes turned into hours, and as the whine of his engine began to fade, so too did his focus. Drained and pushed past his limits, his consciousness ebbed as the fighter ran out of fuel and was left drifting in the Webway.
The Skeins of Fate
Gliding effortlessly and gracefully in the void of the webway, the great Eldar vessel caressed the tunnels and debris with their scanners.
<< Utmost respect Farseer, but what is it you expect to find? We have been searching this remote area for days.>>
<< No disrespect taken Autarch. The strands of Fate have been uneasy as of late, and I feel disappointment that I cannot glean more details to lead our search. But you trust in my abilities, and I trust in my vision. A single spark lit up in this sector of the Webway, and I could feel the weight of importance that lay within.>>
<< You are, of course, correct. I trust you with my life, with all of our lives. Lead the way –>>
<<Apologies for the interruption,>> came a voice from the arcane looking banks along the command deck. << I am picking up a small Dark Eldar craft. It appears to be a short range fighter.>>
The Autarch's eyes narrowed. << A short range fighter? But there is no outpost within range for one. What is it doing?>>
<< It appears to be drifting and with only enough power for bare minimum life support. And even that is fading.>>
The Farseer and the Autarch exchanged glances, unsure of the meaning of what they found, but clear in the knowledge that this was what they had been looking for. Whatever it meant, they had to take it in.
Both the Autarch and the Farseer were in the hanger bay as the Dark Eldar craft was delicately pulled in. Guardians lined the deck, weapons raised, as a brave few climbed on the vessel and blew the canopy, revealing what lay inside. With a shout they reported:
<< There is an unconscious Mon-Keigh warrior in here! He wears no armour, but is very large. I believe it is one of their so called Space Marines.>>
Eyebrows furrowed, the Autarch ordered the crew to remove him. With a heave, Osaka was pulled from the fighter and dropped onto a grav-cart. A wave of unease passed through the assembled guardians. Even for those who were not trained as psykers, all of the Eldar were sensitive to the touch of the warp, and could feel a darkness spreading from the body on the cart. The cart was brought up to the Autarch and the Farseer, the stomachs of guardians who got too close lurching. Finally standing before the assembled leadership, the waves became oppressive.
<< Master!>> shouted one of the Farseer's attending warlocks, << This... this is an abomination. It must be destroyed!>>
The Farseer held his hand out, signaling for his student to stay back. << Something is.... wrong, yes. But if we can feel his power even in this state, then he wields something incredible. If the Fates wanted him dead, it would have been easier to just let him drift into oblivion. But no, we were given a vision, a sign to follow. That means there is reason to bring him on board. We shall wait and I shall talk to him when he regains consciousness. We will find out why we were brought here to find him. However, you are right that he is dangerous – incredibly so. Bring all of our psy-dampeners to the cell we will keep him in.>>
<< ..... All? Surely you jest. That will take a huge amount of energy to maintain.>>
<< No, I do not. Not in the slightest...>>
Osaka woke to the feeling of a cold, perfectly smooth surface under his unarmoured body and a pounding sensation in his head, a humming rhythm that blotted out his concentration. Looking around, he saw elegant restraints on his wrists and ankles and a series of arcane pillars, crafted like organic runes, hovering around the room, standing out in stark contrast to the plain, smooth grey walls.
“Ah, so you awaken, Mon-Keigh.”
Osaka turned toward the lyrical voice coming from the doorway. Standing there was one of the Eldar, clad in deep black robes adorned with exquisite bone iconography and runes. Osaka recognized the individual as a farseer from the Ulthwe Craftworld. Cautiously testing his bonds, Osaka drew the alien into conversation.
“Greetings, farseer. I know not why you have me imprisoned here, but I would warn against using me as a bargaining chip – you are well aware that my kind are not so... diplomatic in such situations. I suggest you release me or simply kill me and be done with it.”
A faint smile reached the farseer's lips and he emitted a strange sound that Osaka could only assume was a chuckle. “Oh no, Mon-Keigh. We have no intention of killing you. For now at least. But it would be unsafe to release you as you are now. Still,” the Eldar frowned, “isn't it quite impolite not to offer thanks to those who save your life? I thought your kind had at least that degree of etiquette.”
Osaka paused, now frowning himself. Save him? What had happened? He tried to recall the events that brought him here. Memories of the barren world he had fallen on flashed through his mind, images of the destruction of a twisted arena followed, then an escape in a small craft until... he had blacked out. The Eldar must have found his craft drifting and picked him up. But why? Wouldn't it have been easier to simply let the ship's life support run out and let him die? Face serious, he turned to the farseer.
The farseer paused for a moment, weighing how much to reveal. At last, he spoke.
“The farseers of my craftworld have been trying to guide the flow the Fate to prevent the victory of our mutual enemy – the primordial forces of Chaos. Most strands we have followed end... poorly. One path I was following grew hazy and indistinct, which was interesting, even promising. It led me to the location where we found your abandoned craft. I am not sure why we were led to you, but I can tell that there is something... different about you. Your psychic abilities are... unnaturally strong for one of your kind. Wrong even. You may have noticed, but your very presence unsettles those around you. You emit an aura of fear and darkness unlike anything I have felt before. However, I can also tell it is not of the Enemy. Right now, you do not have full control of your abilities. I can only imagine what you left behind in your escape, but the toll it took on you was immense. If you continue to let your powers run out of control, you will be lucky if it only kills you. However, you have potential. With training, you could be a powerful weapon against the forces of Chaos arraying against us all. It is for that reason that I have you here. As strange as it sounds – and trust me when I say this is not easy for me either – I am offering to help you to harness your newfound strength. With my guidance and the psychic tools we possess, I am confident you will succeed.”
Osaka listened quietly, analyzing everything in what the farseer said, and in what the farseer may not be saying – the Eldar never tell the whole truth. Yet the alien was not wrong. He could not explain why he was still alive, why he survived the Despoiler's blade, why his powers grew so suddenly. And, though it grated his pride, the issues the farseer brought up about his control over his abilities was also correct. Osaka looked at the Eldar.
“And if I refuse your generous aid?”
“Then, I will kill you where you sit. With my wards in place, your powers cannot save you as they did against my dark kin.”
“Fine. Be quick about it though. I cannot afford to tarry here long.”
“A wise decision.”
Farewell and Reunion
Light of a foreign sun glinted off the graceful sails of the Eldar vessel, the stillness of space in stark contrast to the sounds in the training hall. Massive constructs moved with silent swiftness, loping arms swinging at the warrior below. He moved as a blur, focusing his mind first to speed, then to strength as he grabbed the monster's arm and tore it off at the elbow. Turning the momentum from that attack into a spin, he plowed his backhand through the bottom half of the featureless ovoid head of the construct and clawed his right hand through its knee on the way down. Centering himself with a breath, he carefully reached into the being's head and delicately removed the soul stone stored there.
“Well done,” said the farseer, striding across the floor to receive the stone. “Your movements and control have improved dramatically.”
The warrior met the seer's gaze. “Then it is time for me to leave, yes? To rejoin my legion in battle?”
The farseer shook his head. “Not yet. You are very close, but that is the most dangerous moment – when mere steps from the goal is when a single careless move costs you everything. Come, let us travel some strands together, and see how your concentration holds there this time.”
Osaka sighed a little, but knew he was in no position to argue. The Eldar had been a stern and strict instructor, but had also guided his abilities perfectly. As frustrating as it was to wait a moment longer, he had grown to trust this being.
“Alright. I shall freshen up.”
Yet as Osaka strode to the door the floor lurched suddenly. Recognizing the feel of evasive action, the farseer called to the bridge.
<< Honoured captain, what has happened?>>
<< Hostile ships have crossed from behind the Star. Its energies masked their approach. It is the Enemy, farseer.>>
In the void, three long, bloated, crenelated battleships powered their way towards the Eldar craft, their once gleaming hulls covered in unnatural growths and pustules. As Osaka and the farseer made their way to the bridge, a hololithic message was playing.
“– fight, or turn tail and run. Either way the Terminus Est will destroy you. You know that from this direction your craft does not have enough speed to escape it. Wallow in despair, for your death has arrived!”
With that the image of an individual in hulking, rotted terminator armour vanished. Every soul on the bridge was in motion – bringing about firing solutions, pathing trajectories, prepping fighter targets. Yet Osaka could feel the answer from the Autarch and Farseer – the traitorous scum's boast was not wrong. Whoever he was, he had laid his trap very well, and the normally quicker Eldar ship was suddenly at a distinct disadvantage. The Farseer and Autarch exchanged glances and an almost imperceptible nod.
“Follow me, Mon-Keigh,” said the farseer abruptly, turning towards the door leaving the command deck. Unsure of what the seer was planning, Osaka gave one final look at the Autarch, trying to read the alien's expression, before leaving the bridge himself. The seer led Osaka down to what appeared to be an armoury, and gestured at the warrior's axe – the Slayer of Kings – and began gathering other pieces of arcane equipment while Osaka hefted his old weapon.
“I have grown powerful, seer, but I am not confident that I can kill all of them unarmoured and with just this axe.”
The farseer almost chuckled at the marine's response – so quick to meet the enemy head on try to smash through even the most impossible of situations. There was something almost admirable in the way the Mon-Keigh approached such turns of Fate. Perhaps that would let them overcome the trials on the horizon. The farseer let out a small sigh.
“Not quite,” he replied. “If you would follow me.”
Frowning at the all that the farseer's words did not say, Osaka nevertheless strode right after him. Twisting corridors slowly began to look more and more familiar, until Osaka found himself standing in the hanger bay – the place where he first came aboard this ship. Guardians were racing swiftly to fighters and launching into the void to do battle with the traitor vessels. Osaka's frown deepened.
“As little difference as my blade would make here, I believe I would be of even less help attempting to pilot one of your fighters in combat.”
“You won't be. Your craft is over here. Not as agile as our battleline fighters, it is warp capable for short distances at a time, and can be piloted by a single individual.”
Suddenly comprehending the farseer's intentions, Osaka began to protest. “With all respect farseer, you cannot be serious. I cannot flee while you battle these forces. What honour could there possibly be in that?”
“There is life in that path. You were brought here for a reason, and that was not to simply die in the void. Perhaps this here is why I had trouble seeing much beyond finding you – that my path ends here. But if there is no escaping this destiny, then at least I can do all in my power to ensure that the road I began down comes to fruition – that destruction is not inevitable. You must escape. If this weighs too heavily on your conscience, then turn those feelings into fuel to fight the Enemy, to shatter their legions and play your role in stopping the coming storm. Fight not just for yourself, but for all of us as well.”
Osaka stood there for a moment, staring at the Farseer before him, letting the alien's words sink in. As much as it grated on his warrior's spirit, the Eldar was right. They had gone out of their way to save him, and the Farseer had proven time and again that he was greatly skilled in the arts of divination – far more so that anyone Osaka had ever met – and only a fool would seek to argue with his visions. If this is truly what he had seen, truly what was needed to fight the Enemy, then Osaka was willing to pursue that to his fullest.
Osaka nodded to the Farseer. “I shall trust in your vision. Know that I will fight the Enemy through my dying breath. Go with honour, go with glory.” Osaka smiled grimly. “The Emperor Protects .”
The Farseer returned Osaka's gaze. Despite the truly alien movements of his mouth, what was clearly a smile spread across the Farseer's face. “Shea nudh Asuryanish ereintha Asuryanat – May the blessings of Asuryan protect the children of Asuryan from abomination.”
With that, Osaka sprinted toward the craft prepared for him. He was forced to keep his balance as the deck beneath his feet shook with impact and the weaving of the ship. As he sat down in the cockpit, he noticed a sheet written in crude Gothic that filled in the gaps in his knowledge of the controls. Another rumble shook the ground as his new craft lifted from the deck and began its slow and ungainly escape from the hanger bay.
Glancing out of the cockpit, Osaka could see the Eldar vessel gracefully arcing around the massive, bloated ancient Imperial battle barge. It fired wave after wave of arcane lances into the traitor's pocked hull, but the enemy vessel seemed to barely notice. Despite his desire to see his strange friends battle that monster, Osaka knew that time was of the essence and that his only escape window was now. Turning back to the task at hand, he darted toward the nearby Mandeville Point and activated the craft's warp drive. He could feel bursts of bright light illuminating the area behind the ship while the space in front dissolved into the riotous colours of the Immaterium.
Serras stood motionless at the front of the command bridge staring out into the void before him. Losses were far from catastrophic, but at the same time the sudden arrival of mass reinforcements to his traitorous kin continued to frustrate his drive for retribution. Not to mention this one called The Despoiler. He was a formidable commander and a dangerous warrior. With the numbers beginning to swell from inside the Eye of Terror, he was getting worried that they may have to break off their pursuit for now. The thought of leaving after so many warriors had fallen ground on his nerves. As Serras breathed in to sigh, he was cut off by an alert from his communications officer.
“Chapter master, we're getting a signal from a what appears to be a lone, small-scale Eldar craft. And it's encoded using one of out ciphers.”
Serras Turned to look at the comms officer. His brow furrowed. “Relay the message to the strategium.” He strode to the main dias in the center of the bridge as the officer swiftly went to work. A holographic image projected from the dias as stood before it. The face was unmistakably astartes, with long, dark, matted hair and heavy scarring barely visible beneath the bangs hanging over the right side of his face. A grainy voice spoke out.
“This is Epistolary Osaka, librarian to Captain Iysanos, requesting assistance from the nearby Draconic Legion vessels. I am currently alone in a small Eldar craft, but you will note that this code is encrypted with one of our ciphers.”
Serras stared at the image of the librarian. Captain Iysanos had fallen months ago, and his command was thought lost with him – all at the hand of The Despoiler. Yet here was one of his men, alive and before him, like a spirit come back from the dead. There was even more to this, Serras felt. There was an aura about the librarian now, something he could feel even through a simple hologram – both a sense of uneasiness and of untold power. Something had changed the warrior before him, but Serras could feel great potential in it. He smiled to himself. Perhaps this Despoiler wasn't going to be taking everything from them just yet. Serras turned to the comms officer. “Send a reply. 'Welcome back Epistolary Osaka. The Emperor smiles upon your return. Fire and Blood.'”
The Emissary of the Dragon
Sparks flew from Brother Dedaelus' pitch black sword blade as the teeth of a foul chaos champion's chainaxe ground against it. The Black Templar pushed back against the traitor and swung his blade in a series of precise two-handed arcs, proving himself every bit the Emperor's Champion he was. However, his opponent parried each blow in a flurry of screaming steel from his twin axes before launching his own counter-attack. As distance closed between them and their blades locked again, the traitor hooked the Black Sword and pulled with unholy might to smash his grinning, toothed helmet into the Dedaelus', breaking his mask with a resounding crunch. Dedaelus staggered back, disoriented momentarily by the unexpected blow and regained his senses just in time to see one of the chainaxes dig into his shoulder between his pauldron and helmet. He swung his sword into the side of the axe to try and break it away, but the corrupted weapon held strong and the traitor used the opening to dig his other axe into the crusader's side. The heroic marine grit his teeth in pain and the traitor ripped his axes out of his body, shedding blood and chunks of ceramite in wide arcs. Dedaelus staggered backwards and managed to avoid the return swing of the horrific chain weapons that sought his head, but fell to a knee as the damage to his body took its toll. Looking out of his broken helmet, Dedaelus spat a curse at the champion of Khorne. “Know this... traitor... none can escape His justice... you will all fall to our righteous blades!” The traitor's helmet twisted into a disturbing grin and a grating sound much like laughter came from between its teeth as he raised his axes to finish the warrior.
Suddenly there was an explosion of dirt and smoke as something slammed into the ground a dozen meters away with enough force that the two combatants barely held their ground. After a momentary pause, a metallic clank and heavy thud sounded from the kicked up clouds. Dedaelus felt a prickly and oily sensation across his skin and he threw himself to the ground as a roaring wave of fire burst through the smoke and debris in a burning arc. The traitor took the brunt of it and braced himself against the inferno, deep scorching marks burning into its bracers as it shielded itself the best it could. In the wake of the conflagration strode a new astartes.
Standing in green and blue armor adorned with rippling flames and a toothed dragon standing out on his pauldron, the warrior strode toward them. He carried an immense battle axe – seemingly larger than the warrior himself – over his shoulders, lightning coruscating around its blade and his crimson helm, and a long, tattered red cape blew in the winds of his arrival. The greasy tang of the witch emanated from him in a disturbingly dark aura that twisted Dedaelus' stomach. Even amongst the witches he had hunted down in his time, there was something different here. The new warrior stopped a few meters from the two combatants and appeared to observe them for a moment.
“You have done well Crusader,” game a deep voice from the warrior's vox grill, a reticule lancing out from the equipment on the right side of his helmet. “The taint of this Chaos filth shall be cleansed from here.” He turned to face the traitor astartes. Dedaelus opened his mouth to speak, but the close proximity to the psyker's aura caused his rebuttal to gag.
The Khornate champion, however, grinned even more widely, excitement showing on his face at this new challenger. With a primal roar the traitor hurled himself at the warrior, axes swinging with wild strength. His reckless charge came to a sudden and skidding halt as the lingering tatters of his danger senses screamed in his mind. Despite the ridiculous size of his opponent's weapon, the axe swung with preternatural speed, arcing down from overhead blindingly fast as it crashed into the ground where the berserker would have been. The impact sent tremors through the ground and debris raining through the air.
The traitor had no time to size his opponent up better before the blade was ripped from the ground and sliced through the air in a razor-edged horizontal slash. In a desperate parry, the traitor managed to get both of his axes before him, and his two blades slammed into the psyker's one. It was in that moment that the berseker's eyes widened. Despite his muscles bulging past their limits and the strain of his effort bringing unnatural foam to the lips of his helmet, he could feel his axes push back into his chest and time slowed as his feet lost contact with the ground.
Such a consummate warrior that his body still moved entirely on reflex, the traitor landed on his feet and kept his balance as he slid to a stop, axes still held before him ready for another strike. The psyker, however, stood his ground and swung his axe back up over his shoulders, shifting his stance for another powerful strike. While the psyker's tactics weren't necessarily wrong, the fact that he did not press the assault into the berserker enraged the traitor and clouded what little judgement he had left with a mist of burning blood. The traitor roared with everything he had, split and froth spraying from between his jagged teeth, and he threw himself at his miserable enemy.
Dedaelus could only watch as the berserker swung again and again, chains screaming and legs kicking at the psyker. Yet no attack could find purchase. With deft spinning of his enormous weapon, the psyker met each blow with haft or blade, knocking the traitor back with each parry and counter-swing. Dedaelus could feel the force of each of the psyker's attacks resonate through the ground and could see veins burst and armour crack each time the berserker blocked. Whatever psychic strength and speed the warrior was manifesting here, every second brought the traitor closer to death.
Then it happened. Unstable and off balance, the berserker swung across with his right arm. The psyker grabbed it in a great power fist and steam boiled from the berserker's vambrace. Left twisted and open, the psyker's massive axe swung down and bisected the traitor from neck through groin, crashing into the ground below. A faint gasp escaped the berserker's lips as the two pieces fell apart to the ground. The psyker pulled his axe free and swung it back over his shoulders as he turned back towards Dedaelus.
“Wha... what manner of monster are you?!” Dedaelus shouted, trying to lift himself with his sword. “You.. you are a witch, an abomination!” The crusader spat as the psyker walked by him.
“We are the Dragon,” the psyker replied simply. The psyker's helmet turned back over his shoulder. “Fire and Blood, comrade.” With that the psyker walked off towards the screams of burning cultists and fiery explosions, leaving the crusader kneeling in the dust.
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