The Mirnovy Saga

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The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:58 am

Loremaster: fiesta0618

This thread is a catalog of all known documents relating to the Mirnovy system. In an effort to keep this archive orderly, we ask that you do not make any posts directly in this thread. Questions, comments, and new stories can be discussed here: Mirnovy Saga Discussion

However, just because this thread is tightly controlled does not mean that the stories or setting are locked. You are totally free to use the Mirnovy system as a setting for your own stories, with no caveats or restrictions whatsoever. In fact, any such stories submitted to the Loremaster will be added to this body of work, and thus become forever immortalized.
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Re: The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:58 am

Prologue: The History of Mirnovy I and Zvezdograd
Mirnovy, located in a sparse region of space near the boundary between segmenta Ultima and Tempestus, is a star system with a long and curious history. First settled by Man during the late centuries the Age of Technology, its location made it an ideal waypoint for vessels traveling eastward from Terra. For a brief 200 years, the expansive starports of Zvezdograd, the capital city of Mirnovy I, were a transfer hub for all manner of commodities and technologies. Full to bursting with valuable goods from across the galaxy, Mirnovy I had neither need nor cause to develop an independent economy—and so the Age of Strife utterly crushed the Mirnovan civilization, returning it to the Stone Age.

By the time Mirnovy was rediscovered during the Great Crusade, Zvezdograd was a long-forgotten footnote in the Imperial archives, and the Mirnovan civilization had recovered only to a pre-gunpowder feudal state. There was nothing there to interest the Administratum, who had long ago established other, more defensible routes between Segmentum Tempestus and Ultima Segmentum. Minor functionaries occasionally remembered to collect the Imperial Tithe, and the ancient waypoint of Mirnovy was otherwise ignored.

All of that changed when a moldering, half-buried warehouse in old Zvezdograd yielded an intact, fully-functional STC.
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Re: The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:58 am

Chapter 1: The Battle of Zvezdograd
Having learned of the STC's existence, the Mechanicum immediately set out to recover it at all costs. The Fabricator-General himself authorized dispatch of the legendary Warlord Titan Kragg the Grim to anchor the assault, and he leveraged long-standing agreements with the Iron Hands and Ultramarines to secure their assistance. Each sent no less than a full company in support, led by such storied heroes as Iron Father Roan and Marneus Calgar himself. Thus the 2015th Crusade was formed.

Note: Rumor has it that an excommunicate company of former Iron Hands also aided the effort. Eyewitnesses report that the first wave of the Imperial assault consisted of a Drop Pod strike force of Marines in unadorned armor, who gave their lives to blunt the Xenos attack. If the rumors are true, then those souls have truly returned to the Emperor’s light.

However, the High Council of Saim-Hann foresaw that use of this STC would result in a significant portion of the Mechanicum turning to the Dark Gods, for reasons unknown. To prevent this catastrophe, they dispatched Autarch Arauka Hyanda’s elite Crimson Strike Force, advised by Farseer Atar Dolen Umbar, esteemed member of the Council.

But Eldar lives are precious; and so the Great Council manipulated fate such that a Greenskin Waaaagh! would engulf Mirnovy I at just the right moment, led by none other than Ghazghkull Thraka and his right-hand lieutenant, Emprah Androo. Leaving nothing to chance, the Council also struck a bargain with Warsmith Kronos’ feared 5th Grand Battalion of renegade Space Marines: Help us prevent the Imperium from claiming the STC, the Council promised, and you may have it for yourself.

With this formidable collection of allies, the visions foretold victory, although at great cost. Arauka Hyanda would fall. Warsmith Kronos would ultimately abandon the cause, and turn instead to ravaging the ancient city of Zvezdograd for trinkets. But the price was a fair one, given the reward, for the STC would be safely recovered and destroyed. The foolish human technologists would be saved from themselves once again.

***********

The battle progressed largely as foreseen. Brave Arauka Hyanda lost her life in the effort, as did many others, and Kronos ultimately turned to his own ends, as expected. The Greenskins, never meant to be more than a distraction, played their part well, bogging down much of the Imperial forces with their numbers and ferocity. But in the end, Marneus Calgar added yet another tale of heroism to his long tally, when he and his retinue managed to hold fast against the entire Crimson Strike Force and extract the ancient relic against all odds.

During the battle, the forces of Saim-Hann discovered many priceless artifacts in the ruined city, and by most measures the battle could be considered a draw at worst. But a steep price in Eldar lives was paid, and the ultimate doom—the corruption of the Adeptus Mechanicus—was not forestalled.
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Re: The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:59 am

Chapter 2: The Zvezdograd Relic Hunt
From his command post during the Battle of Zvezdograd, Iron Father Roan noticed that a fair portion of the Xenos forces seemed preoccupied with rummaging about in the ruined city. Intrigued, he marshalled the Imperial forces with orders to purge the filthy Xenos from the nearest district—after the STC was safely recovered, of course.

The initial field reports astonished him. Each crumbing building was a veritable trove of rare archaeotech! Most of what was discovered was damaged or corroded beyond use, but some of the items remained largely intact. With the field secure for the moment, Roan hastily gathered his tech-adepts to examine these still-functioning relics.

By the Throne! Some of the recovered relics were never-before-seen dataslates, fit for use with the precious STC! Regrettably, many of these contained obscure references to other data, which was not intact. But even in the midst of these riches, one item outshone the rest: a real-time map of all storage sites on Mirnovy I, with a catalog of their contents. Though the language and protocols were ancient and difficult to decipher, initial translations suggested that working copies of many of the missing reference dataslates could be found elsewhere on the planet. As acting commander, Iron Father Roan did not hesitate; he immediately ordered raids in force on the largest nearby repositories. Even his Mechanicus allies did not question the high-handed order as they usually would.

***********

But the recovery did not go as planned. Many raiding parties clashed with elements and allies of Warsmith Kronos’ 5th Grand Company. The scattered Ork warbands often interfered with operations as well. And most troubling of all, some operations returned with reports of Necron encounters; the pattern of attack suggesting the personal involvement of Lord Trazyn. Clearly, the treasure trove of Mirnovy I was no longer a secret—and Trazyn’s involvement confirmed the value and rarity of the Mirnovan relics.

Reluctantly, after many stymied raids, Roan withdrew his forces. The Warlord Titan Kragg the Grimm had finally been reloaded onto the battleship Divine Might alongside the hard-won STC, and his duties now turned to providing escort back to Mars. Precious though the vaults of Mirnovy I might be, they could not compare to the value of a functioning Standard Template Construct. Full and proper reclamation of the ancient hoard would need to wait for another time.
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Re: The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:00 am

Chapter 3: The Mirnovy Crisis
Loath to completely abandon Mirnovy’s technological riches, Roan appointed one of his most favored lieutenants to carry out some limited recovery in his absence. Iron Lord Divelius had already earned a reputation for his unmatched zealotry and his willingness to perform even the lowest and most distasteful tasks in pursuit of victory. Confident in his disciple’s ability, Roan departed for Mars, with the bulk of the Mirnovy Compact forces in hot pursuit.
A New Commander

by Connman234

Iron Father Roan closed his eyes and opened the link with his beloved battleship, Divine Might, allowing soothing columns of numbers to spin through his cerebral implants.

His thoughts, rampant. His armor, prepared. His fears, calculated.

The precious STC was safely under his care. But what of the other relics on Mirnovy I? Hampered by the efforts to prepare the fleet for departure, he had only been able to recover a scant few of them in the months following the Battle of Zvezdograd. Now the fleet was departing, and him with it; and the prospect of losing so much priceless archaeotech filled him with intense anguish.

Roan’s eyes snapped open. An answer. One of his generals, Iron Lord Divelius.

Divelius was a fairly recent addition to Roan's war cabinet, but a valuable one. While Roan, as Iron Father, bore the burden and privilege of keeping and maintaining the holy Machine Relics, Divelius was bolstering the Chapter in less lofty ways. The implementation of a Librarius division, for example, regulated through the use of cybernetic augmentation. Or the creation of a bike-mounted Techmarine corps, for faster battlefield repairs. Important work, though mundane. Still, there was one trait in which Iron Lord Divelius bested him: zealotry.

Divelius attended weapons training daily with his solders, performed the Rites of Lubrication alongside the acolytes, and would personally ride into battle among the Uninitiated. The fire of his conviction was infectious; where Divelius was present, all around him were heedless of the thundering shells that pounded and shook the vehicle, which for most would cause panic–and worse, inefficiency.

Such iron resolve is precisely what was needed to carry out this fraught and unforgiving mission. With a swift thought over the ship-link, Roan summoned Divelius to receive the Edict of the Emperor.

++++ 5.212.016.M42 ++++ 
++++ Incoming Transmission ++++
++++ Transmission Source Inquisitor Tiberius Cole, Ordo Hereticus - Currently on Assignment in the Avalor System++++
++++ Authorization Level Ultra Required ++++

by Memento

++++ Authorization Confirmed ++++

My Lord Inquisitor,

I contact you in response to your most recent request for further details on the developments in the Avalor System. In brief, the arch-heretic Kevoth ul-Kor has forged an alliance with Alric von Thyrynn and together they have carved a wide and bloody swatch through the Sector.

As you can see from the attached dossier, I have been researching Kevoth ul-Kor for the better part of a decade. He styles himself the Thrice-Blessed Prophet of the Eight-fold Path. His cult, dedicated to the Blood God Khorne, calls itself the Bloodpact. So called because induction into the Bloodpact’s ranks requires supplicants to swear fealty unto ul-Kor by shedding their blood upon his armor.

Little is known of his history prior to succumbing to the Ruinous Powers but there are persistent claims from those of his following we have managed to capture and interrogate that he was once a disciple of the great Sebastian Thor. Such slanderous claims are preposterous, of course, because not only would that sully the image of a most benevolent hero of the Imperium but would also date ul-Kor back to the Age of Apostasy.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his origins, there is ample evidence available to classify ul-Kor as an Omega-level threat, not for his physical prowess - which I will note is considerable, rivaling that of even the mightiest Astartes - but for his unnatural charisma. It is with no small amount of consternation that I report that no fewer than seven of my agents assigned to infiltrate ul-Kor’s cult have succumbed to his rhetoric and joined his ranks.

It these persuasive powers that I believe allowed ul-Kor to cement an alliance with Alric von Thyrynn. You will recall, of course, the fallen Knight-House Thyrynn of Avalor Segundus which was suspected of heresy and treason in later half of M41. An Assassinorum Killclade was sent and at the time it was thought that the entirety of House Thyrynn and their support staff were purged. However, unknown to our agents, Alric von Thyrynn and his staff were off-world and thus escaped detection.

Alone, von Thyrynn is a dangerous, but ultimately manageable, quantity. But under the thrall of ul-Kor and his Bloodpact, there might be no limit to the destruction they might cause. Together, these two pose a dire threat to the Sector and indeed perhaps the entire Segmentum. Local PDF forces have met with little success in their efforts to contain ul-Kor’s marauding warband and recent intelligence suggests that ul-Kor has gathered a sufficient amount of the Blood God’s favor that he is reportedly able to rend holes in the Materium and summon forth Daemonic hosts.

In light of this it is my recommendation that the Holy Inquisition move to exterminate ul-Kor’s threat with utmost haste and prejudice.

The Emperor Protects,

-T

++++ End of Transmission ++++
On the Scent

by Sandtiger

Wolf Lord Krom Dragongaze read the missive from Logan Grimnar, his brow furrowing.

One Kevoth ul-Kor, Arch-Heretic of the Avalor system, has formed an alliance with the last surviving member of a fallen Knightly House, and is now considered an Omega-level threat.

A bit strange for the Great Wolf to be so concerned, Krom thought, since the Space Wolves had no previous history with this heretic, and Avalor is not under Fenrisian jurisdiction. He read onward.

Multiple eyewitnesses have reported seeing Khornate daemons in thrall to ul-Kor, and the heretic is traveling to Mirnovy, a star system recently reported to be rife with unidentified archaeotech.

Ah. Heresy is one thing; communing with the Ruinous Powers entirely another. The Drakeslayers could not stand idly as this madman consolidated power. Pensively, Krom expunged the message, and set down the dataslate.

"Jorn!"

"My lord?" Jorn Flintfang, newly elevated to Battle Leader, looked up from polishing his power sword.

"Pack your gear, and summon my Wolf Guard. We’re going to the Mirnovy system. I'll fill you and the others in on the way. You'll have your first chance to prove yourself soon."

"Aye sir," Jorn replied, as he stood and saluted. "We will be ready within the half-hour."

"You're a good man, Jorn. Bring the combi-meltas. We'll have need of them where we're going!" Krom called after him.

Without delay, Divelius wielded Roan’s orders—signed by the High Lords themselves—like a club. He clutched the fraying threads of the Mechanicus Coalition with an iron fist, commanding obedience through loyalty when he could, and threats of excommunication where he could not. He even browbeat nearby forces of Dark Angels, Space Wolves, and Space Tigers into submission, although they had come to the Mirnovy system for their own totally unrelated reasons. Not content with a partial reclamation of the Mirnovan relics, Divelius immediately ordered a full-scale offensive to sweep aside those remnants of the Xenos forces still grubbing for treasure.
A Troubled Alliance

by fiesta0618, Sandtiger, ShootinPutin

Krom fought down an overwhelming urge to punch something. Preferably the mechanically augmented face of the man in front of him.

“I’ve already told you, Divelius, that we came here to kill a heretic and stop a Daemonic incursion. You must have read my intel reports by now. By the snows of Fenris! These…shiny trinkets you’re chasing won’t do us much good when we’re up to our eyes in Warp-spawn!”

Infuriatingly, the Iron Hand did not rise to the calculated slur (though, admittedly, it was difficult to read his expression under all the augmetics). With characteristic cold intensity, he responded,

“Brother, I have read your reports. Multiple times, and with great care. What you have provided is little more than rumor and speculation. I, too, have sent you a copy of my orders, which you surely have read. I must remind you that they are sealed by the High Lords themselves, and state that the relics of Mirnovy are to be recovered at all costs. Relic-s, Space Wolf. The High Lords were always aware of the possibility that this system may bear even greater fruit than the STC already recovered. These orders further place all forces in the system at Iron Father Roan’s disposal, and Iron Father Roan has deputized the command to me. Are you prepared to set yourself against the Emperor’s stewards, brother Krom?”

Well, Krom hadn’t risen to command the Drakeslayers by being stupid. He could see the corner he was in. Of course, there’s a big difference between following the letter of an order and the spirit…especially out in the field, where the general can’t see everything. Best to appease the blind fool now, and then carry out his real mission as best he could.

“All right, Lord Divelius, you’ve got me. The Drakeslayers deploy on your order.”

“I am pleased to hear it, Lord Dragongaze.”

************

Epistolary Emeriel, Librarian of the Deathwing, second only to Chief Librarian Ezekiel, watched the exchange in silence.

Privately, he agreed with the oafish Space Wolf, though he would never confess to such a thing. The relics on this Emperor-forsaken planet were indeed of secondary importance at best. But none of the Astartes in this council would know, or could know, of the greatest threat: some of the Fallen Angels had been sighted on Mirnovy I. A large band this time, as many as thirty, and led by an unidentified, but reportedly charismatic, figure. Many in the Inner Circle believed that this could be the traitor Cypher himself.

And so the Dark Angels had come, and in force. Three full companies, including a huge contingent of Deathwing, the largest such deployment of the fabled First in recent memory. Including Master Sammael himself, who would personally lead the vanguard. They had not offered Divelius their reasons for coming, and the Iron Lord, blinkered by his convictions, had not asked. Unlike Krom Dragongaze, Emeriel was more than willing to be pressed into service

This petty, pointless mission would be a perfect cover for the Hunt.

************

Standing opposite from Emeriel, Lord Captain Kinaz, too, watched the argument wordlessly. The Space Tigers had not chosen this duty, but when one is secretly descended from the traitorous Astral Claws, one does not invite scrutiny. No matter how foolish-seeming the bearer, when one is presented with orders sealed by the High Lords, it is best to carry them out fully, without reproach, but also without commendation. Until the Chapter could be returned to full strength, and could show an unassailable record of victories, the Space Tigers must ever be dependable, but utterly average, warriors.

Throne, how that restriction chafed!

Still, Kinaz consoled himself as the two men argued, this assignment had potential. Archaeotech was a resource with enormous value, and how would Divelius know if some of it went missing during recovery? His Techmarines could make much of such a windfall!

At long last, Krom and Divelius reached accord, and the council turned to planning the upcoming campaign. The Lord Captain listened in agony, nearly sweating with the strain of giving only the most obvious and uninspired advice.

Emperor send that the Space Tigers be redeemed soon!

The Dragon Comes

by AngelusSperi

Aboard the Draconic Legion ship Glaurung, a series of chirps at the door signaled an end to the Librarian's meditation. Without a word, the door opened and the Master of Signals entered, bowing.

“Lord Osaka, I bring news regarding Mirnovy I.”

Osaka took a measured breath and sighed, his dark hair falling around his face, scars across his right eye gleaming softly. “Lord Divelius has ignored our communications again, hasn't he,” guessed the Librarian, though to one with the Gift such things were never truly guesses.

“Yes, my lord. Our warnings have gone unheeded. What little reply we received suggested that we take up issue with the High Lords themselves if we wanted anything accomplished.”

“That is too bad,” the Librarian frowned. “The Eldar are arrogant and convinced of their superiority – their witches the worst in this regard – but they are, sadly, rarely wrong. I trust the warnings they gave regarding the artifacts on this planet.”

“Have you Seen anything yourself, Lord?” inquired the Master of Signals.

“While my strengths lie in.... other disciplines, yes, even I have seen visions. Taint and destruction lie in the wake of these artifacts, and even as we speak a host as varied as can be imagined descends upon the planet to claim them. This cannot be allowed to pass.” With a long glance out of the room's viewport into the void of space, Osaka stood, power swelling into him with each breath. With a voice of unwavering steel, he declared, “The artifacts must be destroyed. Send word to Master Serras to muster the Legion. We are surrounded by enemies on all fronts in this battle, but there is more at stake here than petty jurisdictional loyalties. We may even be able to use the chaos caused by the other factions at play to our advantage.”

As the Librarian walked over to his arming wall, the Master of Signals pressed, “And what will happen if we encounter resistance? Will we stand against our own brethren?”

Placing his hand on the grip of his axe, the psy-active crystals began to thrum, and power coursed along the length of weapon's haft and head. Hefting the mighty force weapon, swinging the two-meter-long slayer of champions across his shoulder, the Librarian's gaze turned to space once again.

“I do not seek their deaths. But we are the Dragon. Where we fight, we leave naught but Fire and Blood.”

Expecting some resistance, Divelius limited the operation to only five key sectors. Intelligence was scarce; he knew for certain that the battered Saim-Hann Crimson Strike Force was in the area, as well as the remnants of the Ork Waaagh that the Eldar had manipulated into fighting in the Battle for Zvezdograd. Beyond that, nothing but rumors and speculation. Claimed sightings of Dark Mechanicus, an Imperial Guard regiment turned traitor, a band of renegade Space Marines, an Avaloran arch-heretic...none of them credible. The Astartes are the Angels of Death, manifestations of the Emperor’s will, and no scattered rabble can stand against them, whatever its composition. Or so Divelius thought.

***********


The Mechanicus Coalition did see some success. The Space Tigers drove the Crimson Strike Force entirely out of Sector 18. And The Dark Angels under Grand Master Sammael struck hard in Sector 3, reclaiming a handful of Relics in addition to slaying many of the Fallen that they encountered there.
But all else was lost. The Space Wolves ran afoul of the Dark Mechanicus, whose forces were far larger than even the wildest rumor, and the second and third companies of Dark Angels were overrun and destroyed nearly to a man. Divelius himself encountered the rumored heretic whose existence he had casually dismissed…and the terrible power of Kevoth ul-Kor, the Thrice-Blessed Prophet, utterly crushed him. Cast down, with his men slaughtered and his war machines shattered, the former Iron Lord rose up with a new name and a new master: Divelius the Awakened, disciple of the Prophet, follower of the Eight-fold Path.

The Mechanicus Coalition was finally broken.
A Scattered Pack Assembles

by Sandtiger

Krom's one good eye glared balefully at the wreckage of the corrupted Knight in the distance. The Drakeslayers had taken heavy losses here, due in no small part to the total lack of intelligence provided by Iron Lord Divelius. They had absolutely no warning of the traitor Mechanicus forces at the drop site! It would take far better generalship—and greater manpower—to win this theater. Allfather freeze the overzealous fool! Krom would have some choice words for the Iron Hand when they next met.

His angry musings were interrupted by the crunch of familiar footfalls. Without turning, Krom spoke. "Well, Jorn, at least we were right about those combi-meltas, eh? I'm glad that old Eirik survived the reactor overload when you took down that Knight. Nice job on the kill shot, by the way."

"Thank you, sir. My pleasure. Was it our target? Was Kevoth ul-Kor inside the vehicle?"

"Unfortunately not. The traitor still eludes us. We'll have to keep hunting."

Disappointment showed on Jorn's face. "Too bad. I did hope that we had at least achieved one goal here. Was a rough day otherwise." Swiftly, his expression changed to one of concern. “But what of Lord Divelius? He may have further need of us…”

Krom slammed his axe into the ground in rage. “Divelius! Don’t speak that name to me. Aye, we’ll help him, the same way he ‘helped’ us here—with nothing! No, we go our own way, as we should have from the first. The heretic ul-Kor already had much to answer for, and now the job is personal. Today’s bloody tally is on his head as much as on…well, you know who.”

The two warriors contemplated the smoke rising over the destroyed Knight, reflecting on the loss of many comrades. The beep of a vox-message interrupted the silence. "Yes?" Krom said.

"Lord, we have received an incoming transmission. Brynjolf Icefang's ship, the Howl of Morkai, will be arriving soon. He says that he brought the whole party."

Krom grinned. "Inform me the instant he arrives, Battle Leader. We'll need him."

"Aye, lord. He’s sending down a transport for you to come up to the ship. It should arrive in twenty minutes."

"We'll be here."

"Brynjolf. I like that name. Good fighter, I've heard," Jorn said.

"Fiercely so," agreed Krom. "You'll like him."

The Song Begins

by fiesta0618

Lord Captain Kinaz watched with satisfaction as servitors loaded the recovered archaeotech aboard the Amoyensis. His Space Tigers had recovered nearly two dozen items from this sector! The official logs recorded only fifteen of these, naturally, but he judged that this would be enough to satisfy Iron Lord Divelius without exciting him. Speaking of which...

Kinaz turned to Volsheb Varro, his Master of Arcane and most trusted advisor. And friend.

“Tell me, brother, has Lord Divelius yet responded to our missives? There are additional sectors for us to scour, and he may wish to allocate some of his Techmarines to accept this prize so that we can begin.”

Volsheb did not answer, his unfocused gaze fixed on one of the relic containers.

“Hark! What ails you, brother?”

Still, the Librarian stood silent and unheeding. An unsteady hand reached for his force stave, its psy-circuits beginning to spark in time with the quiet thrumming of the ancient machine before them. Finally, Volsheb said something. Too quietly for Kinaz to hear.

“Speak up, brother. What is it?”

Volsheb’s voice rose in resonance with strengthening pulse of the machine that still transfixed his gaze, as he dazedly shifted into a combat stance.

“…blood...blood…Blood...”

Kinaz did not hesitate. With graceful swiftness earned from near a millennium of practice, he activated his powerfist, tore off the side of the container, and crushed the exposed relic with a quick clenching of ceramite-clad fingers. As the machinery shuddered and died, the Master of Arcane started as if from a deep sleep.

“Throne, brother! What, by Terra, is the matter!?”

At last, Volsheb turned back to Kinaz, his normally sanguine eyes betraying fear.

“This is bad, brother. Some of these relics are Warp-accursed. I know not how or when or by whom. But unless we find and destroy these, the psychically sensitive among our brethren will be taken by the same madness you just saw in me. This I have Seen.”

Normally, Volsheb would reproach Kinaz for the heretical stream of curses he unleashed in response.

“Indeed, Kinaz. The motivation for the Eldar’s heavy opposition here suddenly becomes clear. And the continued silence from Lord Divelius seems ever more ominous.”

************

In the green-lit dimness of the landing craft, Emeriel commiserated with Sammael. It was cramped and stifling among the packed and padded artifacts, but as the Epistolary and the Master of Ravenwing were the only members of the Inner Circle on board, there were no other locations in which they could speak freely.

“Calm your humors, brother Sammael. You slew more than a score of the Fallen, and this planet has no resources for the leader to fall back upon. He has nowhere to run—we will surely catch him soon! Insofar as you have made a mistake, it is one that will be swiftly rectified.”

Sammael slammed his fist against the shrouded relic beside them. The even tone of his reply clashed jarringly with his obvious anger.

“The fate of the traitor does not trouble me Emeriel. Just as you say, his moment of reckoning is nigh. No, it is the tidings from our other brethren that raise my choler. One full company lost, and another decimated! Lion’s blade, and all on account of that incompetent Divelius! No intelligence offered regarding greenskins or Traitor Legions! All this, just to claim some miserable trinkets.” He kicked the artifact again for emphasis. “Lion help me, when I see him next…”

Sammael’s voice faded as Emeriel looked anew at the relic in front of them. How had he not noticed it before? It was humming something. He strained to hear. Yes…music. The most beautiful song. The melody rose, pulsing in his ears, his veins, his mind, filling the Astartes with energetic vigor. In ecstasy, he turned to his brother…and the man was still speaking! Ignoring this perfect symphony! Marring the sublime rhythms with crass and malformed words!

Rapture turned to rage. The Librarian fumbled for his sword, and let the thunder of the song burst forth from his lips:

“Blood...Blood…BLOOD…”

************

“It is an ill day, Serras,” Lord Osaka lamented as he looked over the shattered battlefield. The Draconic Legion has no quarrel with the Dark Angels, but this thing needed to be done. What news of the relics?”

“All accounted for, brother. Eighteen items recovered in total, and every one of them confirmed destroyed.”

“Excellent. Casualties?”

“Some. But none fatal. The element of surprised served us well.”

“No, brother. What of the Dark Angels’ casualties?”

Master Serras hesitated. “We issued concussive rounds, which we expected to be disabling rather than lethal. And the Librarius division was able to subdue many more through psychic persuasion. Still…we estimate enemy fatalities at thirty-six percent.”

Osaka closed his eyes against the sharp stab of guilt. “Emperor forgive us. But we can ill afford to let the survivors carry word of this. Gather the Librarius to perform a mind-wipe….”

He trailed off as a faint hum rose to his ears. It seemed to be coming from half-buried, moss-covered boulder in the shelter of that ruined wall over there. As the Librarian stared curiously at the stone, the hum crescendoed into a song. The most beautiful song he had ever heard! It was familiar somehow…

Reflexively, Osaka performed the Rite of Clarity, and slammed his mental barriers into place. The Song of Khorne still hammered painfully against his mind, but for now, at least, he remained himself.

“WE MISSED ONE, SERRAS!” he roared, sprinting toward the “stone”. As the distance closed, he tried to shut out the terrible sound of his brothers giving voice to the chant:

“BLOOD! BLOOD! BLOOD!”

The Iron Father's Displeasure

by Memento

Iron Father Roan stood silently on the deck of Hanger Bay 4791, flanked by his Honor Guard, as the shuttle Aristinese completed its landing protocols. The once pristine ship was battered and scarred and the Iron Father felt a pang of sorrow for the anguish that its Machine Spirit must be feeling. The heavy clang of the shuttle's gangway ramp settling into position brought his attention back to the present. The Aristinese's doors opened with a great out-pouring of steam, revealing a lone Techmarine silhouetted in the doorway. Like the Aristinese, his armor and body were badly damaged. As the Techmarine descended down the gangway, Iron Father Roan took note of the heavy limp and the periodic misfiring of pistons within cybernetic augmentations and estimated a 79.67% loss in combat effectiveness. Roan's voice, dispassionate as always, echoed in the hanger. "Brother Divelius, you have much to answer for. Preliminary reports from Mirnovy collate an image that does not speak well of your leadership."

The Techmarine's head dipped and a palsied hand came up to unclasp the seals on his helmet. In a slow, arduous motion, the helmet came off and clattered onto the floor revealing a face tortured with scars, rent and savaged in multiple places, and with a wicked red-orange glow flickering in its eyes. With a roar of outrage, the Iron Father lunged forward, his servo-arm catching the man-thing in its vice-like grip and pinning it the deck. Bile bubbled to the back of Roan's throat as fury threatened to overcome him. He spat. "You are not Divelius! Tell me what became of him and I will end your life quickly, wretch!"

The fleshwarped creature smiled, its bifurcated jaw splitting in a most unnatural manner. "My master send his regards and regrets to inform you that he will not be returning to your side."

So close to the man-thing's face, Roan could see now that its bionically glowing eyes had no true pupils, but were rather numeric runes. What he mistook initially as flickering was actually a sequential chronological countdown. A countdown with only seconds remaining that was moving inexorably towards zero...

Awakening

by Memento

I thought I knew strength. These hands, augmented and blessed with the grace of the Omnissiah, that can crush stone and grind it to dust. I thought I knew what it was to be strong.

I thought I knew power. This body that has sat upon the command throne of the mightiest machines in the Imperium, that has felt the vibrancy of the most potent of Machine Spirits thrumming through me. I thought I knew what it was to be powerful.

I thought I knew zeal. To be burning with righteous fury, empowered by the Emperor's light and burdened with an abundance of ardor to crush my foes and bring them to heel. I thought I knew what it was to be zealous.

But I was a fool. I knew nothing of these things. And in my ignorance I allowed my mind, body, and soul to be shackled in blind adherence to a corpse-king entombed in a gilded sepulcher. What strength is there in confinement? What power is there in sediment? What zeal is there in somnolence?

It was only in the hour of my greatest defeat, my grossest failure, did I come to realize my folly. On my knees, at the feet of my vanquisher, did I finally see the true path. As I bore my neck for his blade, I looked into his eyes and saw not rage or fury, as I expected. But contempt. Scorn for my weakness, my lack of conviction. I realized then that all I had been taught and told. All that I had believed in was a lie. Strength. Power. Zeal. I knew nothing of these things. At that moment I knew despair. And in that moment, Kevoth ul-Kor offered me not his blade - which had supped on the flesh and gorged on the blood of many a noble Astartes - but his hand. He raised me up when he could have cast me down.

And now, I walk the Eight-Fold Path at the right hand of my lord and master, the Thrice-Blessed Prophet. I have anointed his armor in my sanguine humors and sworn my troth unto his cause. I bind my oath unto him. I shall spill the blood of his enemies. I shall pile their skulls at his feet.

I am Divelius. And I am Bloodpact.

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Re: The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:01 am

Chapter 4: Bloodsong
Divelius immediately proved to be an invaluable asset to Kevoth ul-Kor and the Bloodpact. Combining the former Iron Hand’s command of machinery with his own dark knowledge of Khornate majick, ul-Kor devised a way to corrupt some of the Mirnovan relics into psychic resonators. Networked by arcane Dark Age technology, these relics simultaneously began to emit the Bloodsong, a psychic melody that induces vigor, euphoria, and bloodlust in all who hear it.
Meditation on the Song

by Memento

They say the Bloodsong speaks differently to each man who hears it, a different note to a different ear. I've witnessed the weak and pitiful amongst our following collapse in panicked agony, or lose themselves in the throes of terror at the mere mention of its chorus. To others, I have heard it is the pounding of drums, the hot-blooded pulse which drives men to acts of mad, senseless, fury. Elsewise it is the unbridled hatred from centuries of oppression finally spilling over the edge of moderated restraint. It is the lurking menace, unleashed in full and reckless abandon. It is the glorification of blood, of might, of Khorne in every sacred swing of the blade on the battlefield.

For the Prophet, by his own words, it is a clarity. In the Bloodsong, Lord ul-Kor finds serenity and stillness. In battle he finds his meditation. In carnage and slaughter he does homage. Each slash and killing stroke, a prayer. Every bloody gurgle from a dying foe a paean unto Khorne. In raising me up, my Lord ul-Kor awoke me to the sanguine hymn of the Bloodsong, ushering in a new comprehension beyond which I would not, could not, have known.

To me, the Bloodsong sings sweetly, softly, as through a dream. It whispers promises of glory, of valor, and honor. It urges me to crush the weak, to run down my foes, and to exalt in their despair. Some quiet and forgotten part of me recoils at that which the Bloodsong would have me do. But the greater part of my being rejoices in the chance to add my own voice to the refrain.

- Divelius the Awakened

At once, chaos broke out on all sides. Those with some psychic affinity, enraptured by the pulsing Bloodsong, turned on their unhearing battle-brothers in rage, and all order and communication collapsed. Small bands of Bloodcrazed warriors began roving mindlessly, attacking whomever they found, not caring if their foes were fellow Bloodcrazed or pockets or those who remained Heedless.

Among the Heedless, every moment was reduced to a primal struggle for survival. There were no safe lines of communication, because they could not know who was listening. There was no safe way to tell if the forces they encountered were Bloodcrazed or not. For the moment, each commander could do no more than look to his own men.
Fierce-Eye’s Council

by Sandtiger

Brynjolf walked briskly along the corridors the Howl of Morkai, the acidic taste of battle-readiness thick in his mouth, hand resting lightly on the hilt of Oathkeeper, his krakenbone sword. They had fallen into orbit around Mirnovy less than one standard hour ago, and Lord Krom Dragongaze was just now arriving from the planet’s surface.

Just as Brynjolf arrived, the hangar bay doors hissed opened to reveal a familiar figure. With a rare smile in place of his usual fierce expression, Krom stepped forward, extending his hand in greeting.

“Good to see you, my friend,” he said. “I’m glad you’re here at last.”

************

In the stillness of Brynjolf’s personal quarters, the command staff of the Drakeslayers sat and listened with increasingly somber expressions as Jorn Flintfang read the debriefing.

“…and it seems that the chaos started after we left the surface, but before the extraction was complete. Fully half of a Greatpack, including materiel, was still in the staging area. Fortunately, one of the Thunderhawk pilots, Brother Soren, was unaffected, and he managed to subdue his copilot and lift off before the mad ones could overrun his ship. Regrettably, he is the sole source of much of this information…”

Jorn paused, glancing at Krom. The Wolf Lord gestured for him to continue.

“Anyway, Soren claims that as he flew back to bring word of this, he overheard a steady chant of ‘Blood’ on the vox, and Pack Leader Dagmar trying to rally the sane warriors to himself. This is the last we have heard from that sector,” he concluded, lowering the dataslate.

Brynjolf leaned back with a sigh. “I wish I had been able to come sooner,” he lamented. “These are heavy tidings indeed.”

“Aye,” Krom growled. “We have much work ahead of us, and precious few resources. For starters, let’s get the Rune Priests working on the cause of this strange insanity. With that done, we can send in the Scouts for reconnaissance…”

“My lord, if I may?” interjected Jorn.

Krom stuttered to a halt, shocked. Jorn had never interrupted him before. “Yes?”

“Lord, let me take a small force to find and extract Dagmar. He’s a fierce and dependable soldier. And by now he may well have more information about this madness than we do. We owe him this!” Jorn burst out, unable to contain himself.

Krom raised his eyebrows. “That’s fine and noble of you, Jorn, but we still have no idea what causes this blood-madness. What’s more, other than Dagmar and Soren, we don’t know who is susceptible and who is not. Dagmar is a good soldier, I’ll grant, but I’ve lost too many Astartes recently to wantonly throw away more!”

Without preamble, the fourth figure, silent until now, spoke.

“I can shield them, Krom,” spoke Rognvald the Black simply.

Krom fought to contain his temper as he turned to the Rune Priest. “Is that so, Rognvald? Nothing but radio silence for the last hour, and you already know all about this affliction? As if Jorn wasn’t enough, I’ll should stake my chief Rune Priest on the same mad gamble?”

Rognvald met Krom’s fierce gaze levelly—one of very few with the courage to do so.

“This is far from the first time I’ve faced down the Ruinous Powers, Krom. I can shield them.”

For a long moment, Krom glared wordlessly. Eventually he dropped his gaze and shook his head. “Aye, I’ll warrant that’s true. All right, then…”

Struck by a sudden thought, Brynjolf leaned forward with a question. “Rognvald...how many men can you shield?”

The Rune Priest paused. “Twenty.”

Brynjolf nodded. “Jorn, take Bjorn Stoneslayer and his Bloodhunters with you. They are among my best. That is…if you agree, Lord Krom?”

“Aye. Bjorn’s a good choice. Jorn, Rognvald, gather your men. I’ll put a Stormwolf at your disposal. Oh, and Jorn?”

“Yes, lord?”

“If you get yourself killed, I’ll murder you myself!”

Unknown Quarry

by fiesta0618

Blocking out the shuddering vibrations of the Rhino around him, Master of Arcane Volsheb Varro closed his eyes and probed the minds of his brethren. Excellent. The shields were holding, and all of his soldiers were showing no signs of taint.

Thanks to Lord Captain Kinaz’s quick action in destroying the accursed relic at the staging site, most of the Space Tigers had been spared the infectious, destabilizing effects of the Bloodsong. Volsheb, caught unprepared, had nearly been snared himself at first, despite his long familiarity with this particular evil. They had been extremely lucky, Emperor be praised!

But the vox still remained silent. And Volsheb, with his unnatural perception, could faintly sense strong sources of Bloodsong to the north, west, and southeast. The western source felt particularly powerful…which was especially troubling, since that was the sector that Iron Lord Divelius had assaulted.

Eventually, Lord Captain Kinaz had dispatched three battlegroups to investigate. He himself had taken Battlegroup Senex to the north, accompanied two of Volsheb’s most experienced Epistolaries. The elite Battlegroup Oculus was sent after the most powerful source, in the west; and Master Varro, with his intimate familiarity with Chaos, was the obvious choice to lead and protect them. Which is how Volsheb, far more comfortable with research and strategy than field command, found himself jolted about in the belly of a speeding Rhino with a dozen Astartes and three war engines under his care. As the vehicle shuddered over a particularly large bump, he recited the 3rd Tenet to himself ruefully: Duty without complaint.

He ran the Lord Captain’s directives through his mind once more.

Re-establish contact with the Iron Hands.

Find and destroy the western source of the Bloodsong.

Don’t take any foolish risks.

Roused to War

by AngelusSperi

++++ 5.212.110.M42 ++++
++++ Incoming Transmission ++++

----- is Chapter Master Serras to --------- Artifacts recovered despite resistance. However, ----------------he Archenemy has recovered a powerful relic that has filled the -------------ernatural bloodlust. The Imperial Coalition is shattered. Loyalist forces are not -------------. Osaka is blunting the worst of the effects for now, but the strain is great. We make for our recovery ships --------------------------- defenses fail. The relic must be destroyed. The precise location is unknown, but Osaka believes it to lie in one of the coordinates transmitted here. Make haste – we may be the only hope to stop ----------------- and allow the Imperial forces to regroup. Fire and Blo------------.
++++ End of Transmission ++++


Fleet Master Davos stared long at the blinking words indicating that the signal was lost. Bloodlust? ‘The worst of the effects?’ What could this mean?
At length, he made a decision. Master Serras had given an order, after all. With a blink-click Davos opened a communications channel.

“Forge Master.”

“Yes Commander,” came a gravelly reply.

“The situation on the planet has worsened. The Chapter Master requests a swift strike against a desecrated relic. Rouse the Ancients – we prepare for war.”

Hard Reboot

by CarbonMagos, fiesta0618

>>>>>Translation in progress…
++++Translation complete.
>>>>>Deactivating Gellar field…
>>>>>Confirming position…

++++Position confirmed:

-Mirnovy System. North-northeast octant. Stellar distance = 8.01 LM

Dominus Biologis Rigel sighed in satisfaction as the scrolling machine-logs confirmed his arrival to the Mirnovy system. At last! Word of the Mirnovy I’s ancient and extensive relic-troves had reached him on the other end of the Segmentum, and he had dropped everything and traveled here as quickly as possible. Regrettably, the journey had not been swift.

Not for the first time, Rigel lamented the unfounded suspicion many of his Mechanicus brethren held for Magos Domini, which caused them to be reluctant to share their data. How tragic it would be if conflicts had damaged the archaeotech during the voyage! He must act swiftly to find and preserve what he could for future study.

Rigel turned to the servo-skull hovering at his shoulder and blurted a short, sharp chirp of machine language. Ever dutiful, the secretary floated away to prepare Rigel’s bodyguard of battle-servitors for landfall.

************

The entire situation was ...decidedly suboptimal.

Dominus Biologis Rigel, faithful servant of the Omnissiah, had come to this forsaken place feeling unusually optimistic. Finally, his wandering was at an end, and a treasure trove of technology awaited!

Then he made planetfall. Then that infernal noise began. Thankfully, his cortical implants—Rigel’s very own design, he was proud to say—dampened the signal and shielded him from the worst of its effects.

With communications down, Rigel had struggled to locate Iron Lord Divelius, listed as commander-in-chief of this theater. After three false starts and some distressingly imprecise estimation, he had finally pinpointed the iron Hands’ location (with 6.75 kilometers of uncertainty, curse it!)…only to be immediately beset by beasts of the Immaterium. By the Motive Force, what had happened here? Why would a holy warrior of the Omnissiah consort with these blasphemies? Data, blessed information, was impossible to obtain. Escape took priority.

Rigel barely had time to regroup and field-repair his damaged bodyguards when they were set upon once again. Humans this time, seemingly driven mad by exposure to that chant that had been stressing his cortical ward-circuits (and giving him a nasty headache) from the moment he arrived on the planet’s surface. Though he was loath to destroy human bodies and machines, Rigel had had no choice but to cut his way through. The Tech-priest’s curiosity grew in equal measure with his alarm. What could possibly be the cause this unnatural blood-frenzy?

Troublingly, even his carefully-maintained cyborgs were 33% more aggressive than usual, and responded to his orders a full 25 milliseconds slower than even the most conservative design specifications would predict. Had he believed in such rank superstition, Rigel would have said that they seemed angry. Nonsense, of course—he had removed their emotion centers himself.

Finally—finally!—a stroke of luck. One of his servo-skulls had located an item of technology, ancient and alien. At last, his long journey was bearing fruit.

But a band of Necrons converged on the prize just as he did. Perhaps the object had originally belonged to that race; Rigel couldn't say. Pitilessly, he chose the most aggressive subroutines…but after a few punishing, endless minutes of combat, the damaged machine-beings managed to flee with the treasure, leaving him nothing save the knowledge earned through fighting them. A worthy prize to be sure; he filed the data carefully for further review. Still, it was hardly what he had sought.

Gradually, a semblance of order began to return to the Heedless forces. Despite a troubling amount of friendly fire among would-be allies, a few warbands managed to destroy the nearest Bloodsong relics. In the ensuing calm, some lines of communication were reestablished, as disparate Heedless groups encountered one another in the field and joined forces.
Fresh Input

by fiesta0618

A sudden sound broke Magos Rigel’s concentration as he bent over a damaged piston on Battle-Servitor 121-G. A voice.

“Identify yourself, Tech-Priest. Be warned, your retinue is surrounded.”

Hmm. The vocal patterns used human-like waveforms, but two standard deviations deeper than the average. No readings on the visible spectrum…x-ray…radio…ah, some heat signatures on infrared. Temperature and thermal distribution 98.9% similar to MkVII power armor. Astartes, then, rendered invisible somehow. Fourteen of them. Since they had not attacked already, they must not be suffering from that inscrutable blood-frenzy. Allies, perhaps?

All of this flickered through Rigel’s cybernetically enhanced senses in the time it took him to straighten to his full height. He turned to the nearest heat signature, and bowed slightly in greeting.

“Dominus Biologis Rigel, servant of the Omnissiah. Why not render yourself visible, Astartes, so that we may converse more comfortably?”

Tiny vibrations suggested a sharply indrawn breath. A surprised gasp, Rigel concluded. Clearly, this Astartes had little experience with fully trained Magi.
After a brief pause, the Space Marine spoke again.

“Drop our concealment, Brother Charodei.”

Rigel switched back to the visible spectrum as the figures shimmered into view. A dark-skinned Astartes, clad in orange-slashed armor and armed with a massive powerfist, stepped forward, and made a half-formed sign of the Aquila with his normal-sized hand.

“Greetings, Magos Rigel. I am Lord Captain Kinaz, Master of the Space Tigers. We came to this location in pursuit of an item of arcane machinery, but my Librarians say that they can no longer sense it nearby. Do you know anything of this?”

Librarians? Sensing machinery?

Rigel answered, “I came on the same errand. I regret to tell you that a band of Necrons made off with it shortly after I discovered it. I cannot say what become of it, or them. Pardon me, Lord Captain, but did you say that your Librarians could sense this machine? Is it psycho-active somehow? I have a special interest in such things, you see, and would be most pleased to share your data…”

Kinaz surveyed him thoughtfully. “I believe that we might a great deal of help to one another, Magos,” he offered. “I would be honored if you would accompany me to my ship.”

The Wolf Meets the Hand

by fiesta0618, Sandtiger, Connman234

Jorn Flintfang struggled wearily up the rise towards the rendezvous point. A lucky swing from that blood-crazed Dreadnought had collapsed his left lung and ruptured his secondary heart, and the lack left him easily winded.

Still. It could have been worse, he reminded himself, looking back at his patrol. Only one Astartes had been killed outright, although Bjorn had lost the use of his left arm and scarcely a handful of his soldiers were still whole. And something strange had happened to Rognvald the Black; ever since the encounter with the blood-crazed Dreadnoughts, he had been staring blankly into space and muttering under his breath. Jorn fervently hoped that he was still maintaining the psychic shields properly.

Jorn returned his attention to the mist-shrouded terrain ahead. How to explain this to Lord Krom? They had been turned back scarcely one kilometer from the drop site; they had been unable to locate any sign of Pack Leader Dagmar or his men; and in addition to being empty-handed on that score, they returned with one brother fewer and the chief Rune Priest not in his right mind!

“Jorn. Unknown contacts to the east. Looks like five soldiers and a tracked vehicle.” Bjorn’s whispered warning cracked over the vox.

“Take cover and hold fire,” Jorn hissed. He took his own advice, sliding behind a shattered stone and gripping his thunder hammer tighter in the gloom. His Space Wolves followed suit, leveling bolters and readying combat blades.

One minute passed. Two minutes. Not one Astartes moved.

After three minutes, Jorn was beginning to wonder if Bjorn had been mistaken, when an unfamiliar voice rang out on the open channel.

“We are Iron Hands Third Company, loyal servants of the Emperor. Identify yourselves!”

Bjorn’s helmeted head turned to Jorn, the question visible in his posture. Jorn nodded, and stepped out from behind the rock.

“We are Space Wolves, of Krom’s Drakeslayers. Loyal servants of the Emperor.”

He kept his storm shield raised, just in case.

But there was no need. A band of Astartes in black and silver livery emerged from the fog, their weapons down, looking every bit as battered as Jorn’s own men. But he didn’t relax completely until the lead soldier removed his helmet, revealing a half-mechanical face. The man’s biological features were lined with fatigue, and his wobbly sign of the aquila gave further proof of his exhaustion.

“My name is Terras Setas, friend. You have no idea how glad we are to see you.”

Jorn removed his own helmet, and offered his hand, in the Space Wolf way. After a moment’s hesitation, Terras took it.

“Jorn Flintfang. What brings you here, friend? I thought the Iron Hands were fighting a long way off.”

Terras nodded tiredly.

“Indeed. But we are the last loyal remnant of the traitor Divelius’ contingent, may the Omnissiah rust him solid! We barely managed to escape when the madness struck, and have been on the move ever since, searching for friendly contacts. You are the first we have found, Emperor be praised,” he finished.

Jorn looked at Terras with newfound respect. It seemed that this mission was not a total loss after all.

“Winter’s bite, brother, I can sense that you have a mighty tale to tell! I am certain Lord Dragongaze will wish to hear your tidings. Divelius, a traitor? How…no, no, it must wait. Come with us; our extraction point is only a short way ahead.”

Signal Lost

by AngelusSperi

Fleet Master Davos could not look away from the constellation of red-lit icons on the strategium. The ground situation was even worse than he had feared. One Trident of Ancients had encountered a rampaging group of Space Wolves, and the other two groups of Eldar outriders. All had been attacked, viciously, and while the Wolves had been repelled, all contact had been lost with the other Tridents. Such losses were shocking. Davos had expected resistance, but to be attacked by those they called allies? He could only imagine the surprise felt by the Ancients as friend turned to foe.

Furthermore, the surviving Trident reported no Relic in their vicinity. And Epistolary Ancient Vicerys claimed that the sector was beset by a “blood song,” apparently some affliction that drove everyone nearby into an uncontrollable frenzy. It seems that only the psychic warding of Ancient Vicerys had protected his Trident from the madness.

To make matters worse, the Fleet Master had received no further communications from Master Serras or Lord Osaka.

Davos sighed. Serras’ interrupted message was now distressingly clear. But despite his orders, continued offensives would be suicidal under these conditions. That said, to abandon even one of the Honored Ancients would be a shame that could not be borne. Resources! He needed more resources!
Inspiration struck. Davos opened a secure vox channel.

“Codicier Janus.”

“Yes Fleet Master. How can I be of assistance?”

“The Farseer that warned us of Mirnovy – that petitioned our assistance and intervention – can you contact him?”

After a momentary pause, Janus replied. “Yes, I should be able to do that.”

“Good. Inform him of the situation on the planet, of this ‘blood song.’ And of what has transpired on the surface. If Vicerys’ instincts are correct, we may have need of their witches to make further progress in this theater. It grates my pride, but pride is nothing compared to the lives of even a single one of our honored brothers. There is a chance that they were merely rendered inoperable instead of completely destroyed.”

“Understood, Commander. Fire and Blood.”

“Fire and Blood...”

Fortunately for the Heedless, most of the Bloodcrazed blindly pursued mindless, disorganized slaughter against one another, a leaderless pack of jackals fighting over scraps of a carcass. But unfortunately for them, the most dangerous of the Bloodcrazed—Kevoth ul-Kor’s dedicated minions—continued to act with deliberate and deadly purpose, well-served by the widespread chaos. Though the Heedless rallied significant strength, ul-Kor’s machinations nonetheless proceeded unabated.
Hunter or Hunted?

by fiesta0618

Master Volsheb Varro spun his staff in desperation, batting aside the articulated claws sprouting from his opponent’s gauntlet. If not for his telepathic ability to sense his opponent’s next move, the Chaos-twisted Astartes’ preternatural strength and speed would have ended this duel long since. But equally, were he not so hampered by the need to maintain the psychic shield on his brothers, he could have felled this traitor with hardly a thought.

It was a fair fight. Throne, how he hated fair fights.

But not as much as he hated the abomination facing him. He had found Iron Lord Divelius, all right. If you could still call him that. The black and silver of his armor, caked and stained with layers of blood, now appeared rust-red and bronze. The proud heraldry of the Tenth Legion had been scraped away, overlaid with crudely scratched sigils of an eight-pointed star. Only the fanatical burning in the traitor’s eyes remained the same.

What’s more, instead of loyal servants of the Emperor, Divelius now surrounded himself with fell beasts, with the hideous aspect of Warp-twisted wolves, and he rode upon an armored, Daemonic perversion of a steed. After the surprise of the initial encounter, the Space Tigers were able to slay most of these, although they had disabled Ancient Brother Caedes and wrecked the Predator Badab’s Claw in retribution. But somehow, no bolt nor blade could touch Divelius himself. He rode forward relentlessly, heedless of all attacks, and cut Volsheb’s brothers down with the care and precision of an artisan.

Too late, Volsheb noticed that Divelius was fighting him one-handed—the other was making some arcane gesture towards the strange machine behind him, the epicenter of the raging Bloodsong.

Reality itself screamed, warped, and split. From a hole in midair poured a horde of cleft-tongued monstrosities. The embattled Librarian immediately recognized them as Khorne Bloodletters.

“FALL BACK, BROTHERS!” Volsheb screamed into the vox as the tide of crimson bodies bore him down.

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Re: The Mirnovy Saga

Postby fiesta0618 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:07 am

Chapter 5: The Second Mirnovy Compact
Survivor

by Anacrucis, fiesta0618

An unfamiliar voice drifted hazily through his fevered dreams. Or was it just another fragment of the visions? Difficult to tell.

<<Sergeant, dare we disturb him>>

Grimacing, he fought off yet another wave of the Bloodsong. He could not recall why, or how. Resistance was a reflex; a habit he could not remember forming.

<<I do not know. Is he even alive. Ah, he moved>>

But resistance was increasingly difficult. The beguiling melody battered his mental walls inwards a fraction with every fresh assault.

<<Bind his wounds as best you can. I hope we can get him to safety in time>>

Unbidden, a thought drifted upward from the depths. Lamenting the physical injuries that were sapping his strength to fight. Strange. Injuries?

Sudden awareness of pain jarred him back to consciousness, and he immediately regretted it. His arm and several ribs were broken, and innumerable cuts and gashes inflicted by the Chaos hounds had bled him dry. Fatigue pressed upon him like a mountain. It would be so easy to just let go… but not yet. Duty without complaint.

He pried his eyes open, and saw two Space Marine Scouts bending over him. Their red-and-bone livery was unknown to him, but he recognized the rank insignia of a Sergeant on the shorter one. Gathering his strength, the Astartes forced out some words

“Sergeant. My men…what happened to…”

It was too much. He did not have the strength to both speak and resist the Bloodsong at the same time. As though it could sense his distraction, the melody pounced, and he was forced to retreat. Back to his mental fortress. Back to a tiny universe of dogged resistance. Back to the wild and violent dreams of the Song.

***********

As the injured Astartes fell back to unconsciousness, Scout Sergeant Athaeus turned to his companion in puzzlement.

“His men? Galen, were there others?”

“No, sir, he was alone.”

“Search the area and make sure.”

As Galen departed, Athaeus opened a vox-channel.

“Scout Sergeant Athaeus to base. We have found an unidentified Space Marine with significant injuries. He carries no insignia, and is barely clinging to life. We are deep in enemy territory, east-southeast of Cathedral Peak. Do you have orders?”

“Stand by, Scout Sergeant.”

Long silence on the other end of the line. Athaeus waited, studying his new ward curiously as Brother Salio applied field dressings to his wounds.

Finally, the vox crackled back to life. “Scout Sergeant Athaeus, we are sending a combined strike team to extract you. Be on the lookout for Dark Angels in addition to Seraphs Argent signatures. Protect the asset at all costs—we suspect that he may have valuable information.”

“Acknowledged. The Emperor protects.”

Athaeus clicked off the vox, wondering why the Dark Angels were nearby. He had not been briefed about this when they left.

Suddenly, Brother Galen’s voice rang out over the vox.

“Sergeant. We have sighted a mixed force of Space Wolves and human soldiers. We did not hail them, but are heading in this direction. I fear they may be Bloodcrazed!”

Athaeus cursed softly. “Regroup to my position, Galen! Our brethren are on the way.”

He turned back to Salio, who was tying a splint to the unconscious marine’s arm. “Brother, can we move him?”

The Scout shook his head, not looking up from his work. “I fear not, Sergeant. I am not certain of the extent of his injuries. He needs the attention of an Apothecary.”
Athaeus unholstered his pistol and drew his long combat blade.

“Then it is decided. We fight here.”

A Lost Brother

by Sandtiger, fiesta0618

At last, the time for vengeance is at hand.

Epistolary Emeriel, Librarian of the Deathwing, savored that thought as strode down the bustling corridors of the strike cruiser Amadis.

Much had transpired since Grand Master Sammael had rescued him from madness in the cargo hold, following the disastrous relic hunt ordered by Divelius. The lore of the Inner Circle was deep and arcane, and those higher than Emeriel had quickly identified the strange melody as the “Bloodsong.” They had also prescribed a mental ritual that any Astartes could use to safeguard himself for a time, even those without psychic gifts. Emeriel knew better than to ask whence this knowledge came, or to question it.

Thus protected, though still crippled by material losses, the Dark Angels continued the Hunt. Bands of Bloodcrazed on the surface made reconnaissance difficult, but at last they had rediscovered the trail of the Fallen that had brought them to Mirnovy in the first place. They had holed up in a wintry castle near a mountain named Cathedral Peak, not far from where the Dark Angels 5th company had met a disastrous end. The place was supposedly named for a local order of holy men who maintained a monastery there. Emeriel could not decide if it were fitting or ironic, that such perfidious heretics would seek refuge in the house of worship of a backward, backwater religion.

He was still musing on this puzzle when his communicator chimed.

“Yes?”

“Sir, we have received a request for aid from the Seraphs Argent. They claim to have found a badly-wounded Astartes near Cathedral Peak, perilously close to our target location.”

Emeriel stopped in his tracks. “Is there any word of his Chapter?”

“Negative, Epistolary. Do you have orders?”

Emeriel considered. This lone Marine might be a survivor of the 5th Company. He might have additional knowledge about the Fallen, or what transpired in the ill-fated battle. Or perhaps he was even a member of the Inner Circle, in which case he possessed knowledge that must never fall into other hands, friendly or otherwise. There was only one appropriate course of action.

“Ready our forces for deployment. Notify Grand Master Sammael; I want the Ravenwing deployed within the hour.”

“It will be done, sir.”

Chance encounters on the battlefield have led to alliances, and small alliances have coalesced into a confederation. Ignorant of the irony, the coalition of the Heedless have begun referring to themselves as the Mirnovy Compact—by chance the same name adopted by the opponents of the Mechanicus Coalition in the Battle of Zvezdograd over one standard year ago.

The Mirnovy Compact’s combined intelligence, alongside Terras Setas’ detailed account of Divelius’ betrayal, has painted a grim but inscrutable picture. They know the name of Kevoth ul-Kor. They now understand, to their cost, the extent of the threat he poses. But they still have no clear notion of the heretic’s ultimate goals.
The New Compact

by fiesta0618, AngelusSperi

As he looked around the council room, Jorn was struck by the strangeness of the group. Never before had the Howl of Morkai seen such a company: Space Wolves, Iron Hands, Draconic Legion, Space Tigers, and Adeptus Mechanicus all in one place. Then again, these were desperate times. These proud leaders had all quickly agreed to an alliance, with few terms attached; unimaginable under normal circumstances…

Jorn was jarred from his thoughts by the mention of his name.

“…when my man Jorn encountered a band of Astartes from Divelius’ lost command,” Krom Dragongaze was saying. “His tale confirms everything I just told you about the heretic Kevoth ul-Kor, as well as the rumors about Divelius. Sergeant, if you would…?”

He gestured to the black-clad marine standing slightly behind Jorn’s left shoulder. With a short nod, the Iron Hand stepped forward.

“Terras Setas, Sergeant, Iron Hands 3rd company. May the Omnissiah… the Emperor smile upon you, my brothers.”

The gathered Astartes murmured polite responses to the pleasantry. Terras continued.

“Lord Krom is quite correct. Kevoth ul-Kor is fearsome indeed, in strength of arms as well as leadership and charisma. Though he had defeated us in the field, it was not coercion that forced the traitor Divelius under his sway. No…I am ashamed to confess that the heretic’s rhetoric alone was enough.”

Chairs scraped and glances lowered as the listeners shifted uncomfortably at this embarrassing admission. Only Krom seemed unmoved by the news. He leaned forward.

“Sergeant, you were close to the heretic, if only briefly. Did you hear anything to indicate what his intentions are?”

Terras shook his head. “I fear not, Lord Krom.”

“Well, one thing seems clear,” said Lord Osaka, scarred face unreadable behind his long dark hair, the green glow emanating from his right eye dimming as his gaze narrowed. “The Altar described by Lord Kinaz must be destroyed. It is the source of all this madness, and Divelius’ actions demonstrate that ul-Kor has a significant interest there. Let us rain down destruction upon it!”

Krom snorted humorlessly. “Clear for certain, Osaka. Too bad the only sure defense against the Bloodsong is the oversight of a Psyker, and we are perilously short of those just now. My chief Rune Priest is still recovering, and Kinaz’ strongest Librarian is flat-out missing! Can YOU muster Librarians enough to protect us all?”

Osaka’s eyes flashed angrily. “Not that it is your business, Space Wolf, but I may be able to do just that. If you are too timid, the Draconic Legion will assault the Altar…”

“There may be another way, brothers,” interjected Lord Captain Kinaz in a conciliatory tone, raising a hand to forestall Osaka’s incipient diatribe. He turned to the robed figure at his right. “Magos Rigel, please tell these men what you told me.”

Without moving, the Dominus Biologis spoke. “The Lord Captain has briefed me on the nature of this ‘blood-song,’ and the effect it has upon some minds. Psychic phenomena are a special interest of mine, and, as it happens, I have implanted within myself cortical warding devices that dampen and block such effects…”

Krom’s lip curled. “Congratulations, Magos. Are you volunteering to join Osaka’s foolish assault?”

“…and I am confident that I can reproduce them in significant quantities,” Rigel continued, ignoring Krom. “Given supplies, I can fabricate mindshields suitable for integration into a standard MkVII helm. Not only this,” he added, a rare note of pride creeping into his voice, “but I have designed schematics for large applications of this technology, which, with proper placement and tuning, can dampen and cancel the ‘blood-song’ at its very source.”

He turned to Krom. “In other words, Dragongaze…yes. I will be joining Osaka in his assault.”

Fortunately, the Bloodsong problem was partially solved. Magos Rigel devised a way to achieve the psy-dampening effect of his own cortical wards in pieces of external equipment, and the tech-adepts within the Mirnovy Compact have hastily built and field-fitted as many of these devices as their limited resources allow. The ranks of Bloodsong-proof warriors are still small, but growing. At long last, the Mirnovy Compact has organization, intelligence, and reliable forces to call upon.

With this newfound strength, they have opted to eschew the petty relic-grubbing that initiated this crisis. Instead, they have identified several key locations for establishing control over the theater: the Empyrean Well, Vysoki Spire, the Dark Age Spacecraft, and, of course, the Altar of Khorne itself. Ul-Kor’s motives remain obscure, but command of the area is a vital first step in defeating him.
A Plan Takes Shape

by fiesta0618

In the dim strategium of the Howl of Morkai, Lord Captain Kinaz watched with interest as Terras Setas bent over the holo-maps among the Chapter Masters. He may only be a Sergeant, but his grasp of strategy and resources was impressive and his memory flawless. Still no match for Volsheb Varro, but a valuable asset indeed. Silently, Kinaz offered up a prayer for his lost friend, and turned back to the matter at hand.

“Given that the Bloodsong is a psychic phenomenon,” Terras continued, “there are two locations of interest that I can recall from my service in the Battle of Zvezdograd—here and here,” he said, jabbing his finger at the holo-map. “This first one was a psychic anomaly of some kind, which the locals called the ‘Empyrean Well.’ I overheard one Librarian claim that the Warp tide was stronger there but, at the same time, easier to harness. South of that was a crashed spacecraft. I never approached it myself, but nobody I spoke to was able to identify it, save to say that it is extremely ancient—perhaps even dating back to the Dark Age of Technology. I do know that realspace seemed to behave strangely in that vicinity; occasionally, a round might pass right through an enemy without seeming to touch him, or a shell fail to detonate. These phenomena warrant investigation, I think.”

The Astartes around him nodded slowly.

“Oh yes, and one more thing,” Terras added, gesturing at a point further to the west. “There was a tall spire here, near the edge of the ruined city. Iron Father Roan used it as a command post during the short campaign following the battle. It is the central nexus of the entire city, but more importantly for our purposes, it is also the control point for two adjacent missile silos. The machines are long-disused, but there is a chance that they could be awakened and put to use,” he concluded, straightening up.

There was a long silence as the commanders digested this information. Finally, Krom spoke.

“It seems to me that the realspace anomaly near the spacecraft is most promising. It could be the result of some bit of technology that we can make use of. Brother Terras, I would be pleased if you and your men would accompany me on this mission.”

The Iron Hand nodded in agreement.

“I am not so certain,” Kinaz objected. “The Altar is a psy-active object, so reason dictates that we seek a psychic solution. I would sooner investigate this ‘Empyrean Well’.”

“You’re welcome to it, brother,” Krom chuckled. “There’s no reason we can’t do two things at once. Speaking of which…Osaka, will you secure the missile silos?”

Osaka nodded. “Not myself, but I will see to it that it is done. I will assault the Altar, as I said.”

Krom raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Do you have resources enough?”

“I have already told you, Krom, that I do. The Draconic Legion is strong in ways that you cannot grasp.”

And so the mission began. Resistance, however, was fierce—the Bloodcrazed were still numerous, and ul-Kor’s command over them strengthening. Krom Dragongaze, Terras Setas, and their men destroyed an Armored Company advancing on the ancient spacecraft, and discovered and secured the object responsible for the realspace anomaly. But the remnants of the Crimson Strike Force, attacking at the entreaty of Lord Osaka, were ultimately repulsed by a horde of cultists at the Spire, and Lord Captain Kinaz was forced to withdraw from the Empyrean Well under overwhelming pressure from a force of Necrons.
The Hard Way

by Sandtiger, fiesta0618

Brynjolf glared at the sight of men and war machines swarming over the downed spacecraft in the cold morning light. We should have beaten them, he fumed. How are they here first?

“Terras, are you seeing this?” he growled quietly into the vox quietly.

“I am,” came the grim answer. “Our task here will not be easy. Where, by the Omnissiah, did they get a Stormsword?”

Brynjolf had no answer. He raised his oculoscope once again, and surveyed the armored vehicles. At least they don’t know we’re here.

Without warning, the tanks’ guns all began rotating towards him.

“Ah, skitja... SHIELDS UP!” roared Brynjolf. He bent low over his Thunderwolf and covered himself with his shield, spurring his mount forward. Heavy artillery shells began falling around them, as the Deathpack let out a howl and charged forward as one. Not quite fast enough… Brynjolf saw Ranek and Ulrik go down amid the concussive blasts. “The Wolf Priests never lack for work, do they,” he muttered to himself. Then louder, into the vox: “Terras! Time is up, brother, they’ve seen us!”

***********

Iron Hands Techmarine Mangane watched from a nearby outcrop as the Deathpack tore into the cultists. Not a single man among them was left standing. What had they been doing in the ancient spacecraft, anyway?

The Stormsword’s guns roared again, and Brynjolf’s cavalry disappeared in a cloud of acrid smoke.

Quick as a though, Mangane heeled his bike over and sped towards the spacecraft. He should have forty seconds before the Stormsword guns were reloaded.

“Deathpack, do you read me?” he voxed.

Brynjolf coughed. “Aye,” he answered thickly. “Deathpack, withdraw. Red Team, join up with Techmarine Mangane.”

At that order, the shadowy forms of two Space Wolves emerging from the smoke wreathing a nearby wreck, and began running towards the spacecraft. Thirty seconds.

Mangane turned back to see a cultist struggling to lift a heavy piece of machinery. Was this the object they were looking for? He dismounted, strode over, and idly crushed the cultist with one servo-arm, studying the strange machine. The surface was somehow smooth and unmarked, despite the heavy shelling. Twenty seconds.

He turned, and beckoned the two Space Wolves to hasten. Without warning, a missile took one in the side; his battle-brother did not pause. Fifteen seconds.

“Grey Hunter Winterfang, reporting sir.”

“This is our target asset,” explained Mangane hurriedly, indicating the strange machine. “Transport it back to our lines, immediately! I will cover your escape.” Ten seconds.

“Too late, Techmarine,” Winterfang grunted as he hefted the machine piece onto his back. Mangane looked back at the Stormsword just as the main gun flared once again. For one endless moment, he found himself impressed at the efficiency of the crew. Only thirty seconds to reload! And the gunner had placed the shot directly at them. Remarkable.

Reality shifted.

For a moment, Mangane was looking at blurred after-image of himself; then the shell struck home and the image disappeared in a fiery plume. He flinched instinctively…but the explosion didn’t touch him. Amazed, he looked around to find that he and Winterfang were standing next to the wrecked tank, some distance from the spacecraft. How had they gotten here?

Forty—no. Thirty seconds.

The instinctive thought shook Mangane from his stupor. “Winterfang! Down the hill, to cover!” He took his own advice, sliding down the muddy slope feet-first. Too bad his bike had not been saved, too.

As the Space Wolf thudded down beside him, Mangane activated his vox.

“Terras, we have the cargo, but are pinned down near the spacecraft. Can you supply reinforcement?”

Terras voice sounded annoyed and harried. “Aye Mangane, Krom and the Drakeslayers inbound to your position. Confirm: you have the asset?”

“We do, but there are only two of us left. Be swift!” Mangane snapped. Ten seconds.

The air was suddenly split with a wailing howl from hundreds of throats. Krom appeared, his axe flashing in the sun, at the head of a horde of Space Wolves. Zero seconds.

Mangane tensed, but the next shell never came. He crawled cautiously up to the hillcrest, and peered carefully around the wreckage of the tank. “Praise the Omnissiah,” he breathed, seeing the traitors in full retreat.

The Well

by fiesta0618

Effortlessly, Lord Captain Kinaz sidestepped the machine-thing’s blow, and crushed its torso with a sharp twist of his powerfist. In one smooth motion, he turned and backhanded another, sending metal scraps flying in all directions. Necrons were slow, awkward, and presented no challenge at all… individually. The hordes descending on his position were another matter, however.

The advance party, led by Battlegroup Oculus, had arrived to the area around the Empyrean Well quiet and deserted. Until suddenly it wasn’t. A large force of Necrons had emerged from the broken foothills and attacked; by the time Kinaz arrived with the main force, Sergeant “Lucky” Udacha was the sole Space Tiger still holding fast at the Well.

The torso-less warrior was struggling to its feet. Kinaz crushed it down into the mud as he turned back to his squad.

They were laboring. Even Captain Jordi, untouched as always, was breathing heavily and sweating as he worked his own powerfist. As Kinaz watched, one warrior scored a thin slice down Jordi’s temple. The Lord Captain gaped; he had never seen the Scout Captain injured before.

Kinaz’ vox crackled to life. “Lord Captain, I see another Necron contingent approaching from the north! Your orders?”

Sergeant Lucky had found a high vantage point on the second floor of an abandoned farmhouse, and had been able to hold there single-handedly. Very fortunate for the Space Tigers. Emperor-blessed, that one.

Demolishing another Necron Warrior, Kinaz eyed the distant structure that his Librarians had identified as the Well-spring. Still several hundred meters off. He had made little progress in the last few hours, and enemies still crowded thick around them.

“Lord Captain?” the Sergeant queried again.

The Master of the Space Tigers sighed. “There is nothing for it, brothers,” he voxed. “Fall back!”

“Received, Lord Captain,” answered Lucky. “But what of the Well?”

“Best move quickly, Sergeant,” replied Kinaz with a humorless chuckle. “The warheads of Okhotnitsa will soon solve the Well. I doubt even the Emperor’s grace will see you through that.”

In an unexpected stroke of good fortune, the Seraphs Argent and Dark Angels, who knew nothing of the Mirnovy Compact, discovered and rescued an injured Astartes with deep knowledge of the enemy and a connection to the Mirnovy Compact forces. Hopefully, this soldier—and his information—will be enough to offset the fact that Lord Osaka and Magos Rigel’s assault on the Altar was not successful.

Two Angels

by Anacrucis, fiesta0618

Sergeant Mikael ducked instinctively as the guns of the Wyverns boomed out once more. The Seraphs Argent were barricaded in a castle at the foot of Cathedral, having been pinned down by artillery for almost three hours. Only in the last half-hour had the situation changed; a massive horde of human cultists had emerged from the snowy forest and assaulted the hill.

Slamming another clip into his boltgun, Mikael glanced over at his friend, Sergeant Daoudael, and the two sergeants watched intently as Chaplains Vicente and Veratas led their Death Company squads into the fray. The Lost Brothers were not usually expected or intended to survive long, but the Seraphs Argent desperately needed every soldier today. Veratas and Vicente would need to keep their charges on a very short leash.

“Primarch’s blood,” swore Daoudael suddenly.

Mikael turned to chastise him for the vulgarity…and then saw what Daoudael had seen. He fumbled for his vox.

“Squad Hanrael!” Mikael cried. “Incoming, on your left!”

The hulking forms of former Space Wolves were nearly unrecognizable. Chaos-twisted mockeries of their former selves, their armor was as tattered and rent as their souls. Their teeth had stretched into fangs, and blackened claws sprouted from their fingers. Mikael hardly recognized the battered Drakeslayers sigil on the foremost creature’s shoulder.

Squad Hanrael, to their credit, did not falter. They made a full and orderly turnabout and dropped into a charge towards the oncoming monstrosities with a flurry of blades and gunfire, even though they knew it likely meant their own deaths.

Another boom of the Wyvern’s cannons rocked the castle ramparts. Mikael was just wondering if they would be forced to fall back from the castle, when an unfamiliar voice crackled over the vox.

“Seraphs Argent, Seraphs Argent, this is Epistolary Emeriel of the Dark Angels. What is your status?”

Mikael shouted over the roaring artillery, “Dark Angels, we hear you! This is Sergeant Mikael of the Seraphs Argent! I have two tactical squads in the castle overlooking the battle! We are taking fire from Wyverns and are pinned down!”

“Understood, Sergeant. Who is in command?”

“Chaplain Vicente, sir! But he is… occupied just now!”

“Heard and understood. You will see us in about sixty seconds.”

The artillery fire paused for a moment. “That would most welcome sir,” answered Mikael in the lull. He looked out the window again. The Death Company’s charge had ground to a halt in the field, and there were few still standing. Despite Vicente and Veratas’ best efforts, the cultists’ sheer weight of numbers was overwhelming. As he watched, Chaplain Vicente rallied the last three Death Company, and led one final rush into the teeth of the enemy. Their proud figures disappeared among a mass of frenzied cultists, and Mikael sighed in regret. He thought it likely that they had finally found the Emperor’s Peace.

He turned just in time to see the final handful of Space Wolves fell the last survivors Squad Hanrael. Raising his bolter, Mikael silently commended their souls to the Emperor, and snapped off three rounds. Unfortunately, extreme range rendered the shots ineffective. Keeping the weapon raised, the Sergeant waited for the monstrosities to close.

Sudden explosions and plasma gun reports announced the Dark Angels’ arrival. The Ravenwing roared over the hillcrest, weapons alight. The horde withered under the fullisade; at the same time, one of the distant Wyverns exploded in a ball of flame.

In short order, the field was taken. Mere humans, Bloodcrazed or not, were no match for disciplined plasma fire, and their artillery were either abandoned or destroyed. Mikael did not see what became of the Space Wolf monstrosities.

***********

Mikael, Daoudael, and their men hurried down to the fields below. A lone figure in bone-white Terminator armor approached, who could only be Epistolary Emeriel. Without preamble, the Dark Angel spoke.

“Sergeant Mikael.” It was not a question. “Where is the injured Space Marine we were told of?”

Mikael pointed. “That way, Epistolary.”

Wordlessly, Emeriel strode off in the indicated direction. His walk was unerring, as if he knew exactly where he was going. Falling in behind, Mikael and Daoudael exchanged an uneasy look. They had never been comfortable around psykers.

The trio soon came to the scout camp, where the injured Astartes lay. He was being tended by a Seraphs Argent Apothecary, who stood aside at a gesture from Emeriel. The Epistolary crouched awkwardly in his enormous plate, the better to see the Astartes’ face.

“Hm. He is no Dark Angel,” said Emeriel, masking his disappointment.

“He is not a Seraph Argent, either,” added Mikael.

“Apothecary! Bring me a lamp,” ordered Emeriel.

The healer did as he was bidden. Emeriel gazed silently for a long moment, seeming to study the fallen figure with more than just his eyes. Suddenly, Emeriel stood up, astonishment on his face.

“By the Lion!” the Librarian exclaimed. “I know this man. He is Volsheb Varro!”

The Altar

by fiesta0618, AngelusSperi

The drop pod rocked violently in the wind and preternatural emanations rising from the battlefield below. Osaka extended his senses while reciting the Rite of Clarity, hoping to guide his team to a safe landing. It was a desperate gamble; Magos Rigel had reported that the Bloodcrazed, driven by that unnatural bloodlust, had scattered from the Altar. The ground assault had made no progress, so the Librarian himself was leading a Speartip into the very heart of enemy lines.

But the orbital assault had become scattered by the effects from the altar. Even Osaka's honor guard, personally led and warded by the Librarian himself, had been badly delayed. Feeling across the battlefield, there was a sudden void where Vicerys had been moments before manifesting a power. All across the town the warp was disrupting reserves and psykers on both sides. As long as the altar stood, all would suffer.

Straining against his harness, he looked down at the bulky mechanism clipped to his belt. Magos Rigel claimed that this device would destroy the Altar, although it looked like no explosive that Osaka had ever seen. Still, ever since the Dominus Biologis had deployed his so-called “bloodsong dampeners,” the infernal psychic melody had weakened noticeably. It seemed that, somehow, the Mechanicus adept truly had gained some understanding of the Gift. Perhaps his construct would not be totally useless.

The howl of the engines intensified, and Osaka braced for the shuddering impact he knew would follow. In a fury of sound and light, the doors exploded open, and scarcely had their harnesses released them before the Librarian and his men charged out in to the chaos, adding their own war-cry to the din:

“FIRE AND BLOOD!”

***********

With a sigh, Dominus Biologis Rigel adjusted his bodyguards’ battle-algorithms for the 65th time. The Bloodsong was a fascinating phenomenon; under its influence, biological warriors seemed to move and act almost at random, confounding his carefully-crafted defensive protocols. Under any other circumstances, he would have been fascinated to study it! Today, though, he found the need to constantly direct his battle-servitors annoying—it kept distracting him from the important work.

He watched for a moment to ensure that the updates were effective; satisfied, he turned back to the Bloodsong Dampener next to him, and continued the tuning process.

The constructs seemed to be working, to some extent; certainly, the headache-inducing noise had decreased, and his cortical implants were consuming 38.6% less power than they were before. But he’d designed the Dampeners to completely eliminate the psy-noise, and it troubled him that this had not happened.

Suddenly, a chirp from one of his servo-skulls warned Rigel of life-forms approaching from the southwest. He activated the data-feed, and watched impatiently as the grainy image sharpened.

Impatience turned to shock. Those dog-like creatures. The hulking humanoid riding on the back of a warp-spawned monstrosity. These were the same creatures that had beset him when he first arrived on Mirnovy! He remembered their horrifying power all too well. Was this the Divelius discussed at the briefing?

Shakily, Rigel terminated the datafeed, and relayed the information to the Knight Steel Truth. He would take no chances with this heretic. Fortunately, no mere flesh-and-blood creatures, Warp-twisted or otherwise, could stand against—Omnissiah! Another Servitor malfunction? Peeved, the Magos updated the battle-algorithms yet again. Would the distractions never cease?

***********

Lord Osaka cursed as the device slipped from his hasty fingers. None of his squad’s weapons had had any effect on the accursed altar, and, though it was clearly a psy-active object of some kind, even his Gift had availed him nothing. Worse still, the Dragon’s arrival had attracted much attention, and with the altar’s disruptive influence no support was forthcoming. There was nothing left except to try Magos Rigel’s machine.

He bent to retrieve the fallen device as waves of arcane firepower continued to rain down upon his command squad. He had led from the front, doing his best to blunt and turn aside the slicing sound waves that shredded the very air as they waded up to the altar. Still, each meter had been paid for in blood, and scarcely a handful of the Draconic Legion had survived all the way to the altar itself.

Blocking out the chaos around him, Osaka concentrated on Rigel’s half-heeded instructions. He clamped the thing on the side of the Altar, and began the ignition sequence. In his mind’s eye, he dimly felt Brother Carak fall, and then Apothecary Delarus. No time to lament their loss. He pressed the final key, and, freeing his force axe, turned just in time to see Champion Eurin – the last of his squad – struck down by the powerfist of a fallen Astartes. Armor scorched and broken, he glared at the traitor and the surrounding horde of twisted humans…too many of them for him to fight alone. But Rigel had said the machine should only need a few moments. Osaka swung his blade in wide sweeps, counting down the long seconds in his head.

The silent explosion staggered him. For a moment, his Gift was overwhelmed, like a blinding flash to mortal eyes or a deafening thunderclap to mortal ears; but this storm raged purely inside his mind. Numbly, he watched his parries falter, and a few blows found their marks in his hip and elbow joints.

The impact of Chaos champion’s powerfist crushed the Librarian against the Altar, shattering his breastplate and knocking the helm off his head. By the grace of the Emperor, the blow also brought Osaka back to himself. With a snarl, he smashed aside a blade aimed for his neck, and clove the bearer in half on the counter-swing. Spitting out the blood welling up in his mouth, Osaka used the momentary respite and drew on his powers once again, wings of fire spreading from his back and lifting him on empyrean winds.

Injured, dodging trails of fire, he landed clumsily on a nearby cliff. At length, Osaka recovered his breath and turned to observe the battlefield. Columns of smoke billowed from damage done to the enemy stronghold; but beneath the ground-shaking din of heavy weapons fire, he could still feel the throbbing rhythm of the Bloodsong.

“Dominus Rigel. Withdraw at once, and contact the council. The device has failed.”

The Prophet

by Memento

Night was falling over the Stoyikan Lowlands. A warm breeze drifted across the plain, carrying with it the coppery tang of blood and the acrid stench of once-sacred machine oils. The agonized cries of the wounded, a dull roar in the early morning aftermath, had faded to into the feeble mewling of those few tortured souls who yet clung to life. In time, they would fall silent as well. The arrhythmic chanting of the blood cults could already be heard in distance. Soon, it would rise to a fevered pitch and usher in the Hour of Mercy. Then the dutiful cultists would finish the reaping of Khorne's Harvest in preparation for the coming of the Prophet.

Already, the Prophet's procession was nearing the site. It came from the south, winding its way through the battlefield on its way to the Great Altar. Eight score Blooded Brethren marched in the vanguard, great axes clutched tightly in gauntleted fists, and armor stained in the blood of countless victims. Behind them, rode the Crimson Reavers, in eight columns of eight. Each Daemonic rider atop a monstrous steed of gore-slick sinew, their brass-shod hooves caked in the blood of the trampled. Behind this honor guard came the throne of the Prophet. Kevoth ul-Kor, Thrice Blessed Prophet of the Eight-fold Path, was borne atop a massive sledge crafted together from the bones of slaughtered innocents, lashed in place with their fibrous sinews. The throne was pull forward by eight yoked juggernauts, each even larger than the one that came before it. Finally, trailing in the wake of the throne, came the chanting mass of the blood cults in a ragged train that stretched for miles.

The Prophet's procession halted briefly atop a hill overlooking the plain where an Astartes warrior and a Daemonic Herald awaited the Prophets arrival. The Herald's name, rendered into mortal syllables, was Bael'zylryguul, and it was honored to be Prophet's Master of the Hunt. Bael'zylryguul was unusually large, even for one of its kind. Seated as it was - astride a Khornate war-beast - it was larger still, towering over the Fallen Astartes easily out-massing him, warplate and all. Still, Bael'zylryguul was obliged to look up to the Prophet seated atop his throne of bone.

"Lord Prophet..." the Herald hissed and bowed its head in deference, the low Gothic words being forced from a fang-filled mouth, ill-suited to the task. "The Blood God favors you."

The words were accompanied by the crash of the Astartes' gore-stained powerfist against his battered breastplate as the warrior intoned, "Hail, Blessed One."

Turning its back to the procession, the Herald swept out a clawed hand, encompassing the scarred battlefield before it. "Blood flows. Khorne smiles."

Still facing the Prophet, the Astartes said, "The Imperium's warriors came in force, a three-pronged attack supported by drop ships from above. The attack came suddenly and without warning." He gestured to where the twisted remains of five giant metal fins and petals resembling a strange shattered flower lay perilously close to the Great Altar. "They were... tenacious."

The Herald laughed, the sound of jagged glass tearing through taut flesh.

Grimacing, the Astartes continued, "I also regret to inform you that Lord Divelius has fallen."

More laughter from Bael'zylryguul.

At this, the Prophet rose. The motion was fluid, almost graceful. Looking down, the Prophet spoke a single word, his voice at once that of one man yet also those of many echoing in the warrior's mind. "How?"

"The Imperials brought a colossal war-engine, Blessed One. Lord Divelius rode forth with your Huntsmaster to meet it." The warrior's voice wavered as he pointed towards an enormous crater in near the middle of the battlefield. "He struck it down, but in his fury, he was crushed beneath it. I apologize, Blessed One. We fear he did not survive."

The Prophet stared at the crater for what seemed like a long while. When he turned back to the warrior, he spoke again. "He yet lives."

The Herald's laughter abruptly ceased, cut short into a strangled whine.

The Prophet continued, "What is your name, warrior?"

"Garavax, Blessed One. I have been with your warband since the slaughterfields of Ancenti Alpha. I am honored to be in command of a unit of outriders that herald your glorious advance."

The Prophet nodded slowly, "You have done me great service this day, Garavax. Have you not?"

Garavax knelt, "All that I do is in your service, Blessed One, and for the glory of Khorne!"

"And yet, today you do more," said the Prophet.

At this, the Herald laughed again, the sound no less disturbing than before. Pointing towards the Greater Altar and the shredded metal flower, it rasped, "A champion struck down. The ritual completed. The Bloodsong renewed!"

"Great service indeed," the Prophet agreed.

Removing his armored gauntlet, the Prophet extended his bare hand. With a jerk, the he ground the razored knuckle of his gauntleted hand into his bare palm. A shower of blood rained down onto the kneeling warrior.

"Rise, Garavax the Blooded. You shall continue your service to me thus anointed. From this day forward you are of the Blooded Brethren and you shall fight at my right hand. You shall spill the blood of my enemies. You shall pile their skulls at my feet. And you shall revel in the glory of Khorne."

Garavax stood as his master bade, and the Prophet’s procession began its slow march down to the plains below. The Herald, Bael'zylryguul, still laughing softly to itself, guided its monstrous mount to fall into step with the bone sledge. Turning to look after them, Garavax's gaze fell upon the enormous crater.

"Blessed One!" He called. "What of Lord Divelius?"

The Prophet, seated again, turned his head over his shoulder. Though he did not shout, Garavax felt the words echo in his mind. "He too, has served me well..."

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