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WarpStalker
13-09-2011, 18:16
Disclaimer: So, this is the first time I have written Warhammer fanfic, and is actually the first story I have written since secondary school a few years ago, so bear with me if it is a bit rusty! I will post more as I write it, I have a few holes here and there that need to be plugged before I post anymore, but I would really like to here what people think of it, any and all praise/criticisms are more than welcome. Here we go, I hope you all enjoy!


The Lost Guardian



He was there when the Emperor fell. The Warmaster Horus was once the most loyal and devoted of all of the Emperor’s children. And now? A disgusting creature twisted by the greatest enemies of the Imperium of Man. Memnon had stood at the portal onto the bridge as one of his brothers charged the monstrosity before them. He watched in horror as a terrible psychic blow stripped and blasted the suit of Artificer armour from his fellow brother’s frame layer by layer, like unimaginably powerful acid, until only bone remained. Staring through the portal to the bridge, Memnon felt like he was looking into a horrific parallel universe where the End times had come and father fought son for the fate of all humanity. He had almost convinced himself that what was happening right before his eyes was just a horrible dream before reality hit him like a lightning bolt. He readied his immortal soul, whispering soothing prayers to his suits machine spirit, for the probability of a similar fate as his loyal brother. He looked at Horus, and the bodies scattered around his feet like grim confetti, knowing only one person was strong enough to defeat Horus, and that beings lifeblood was clawing its way out of His body in a stream of gore.
Hefting his blade Memnon had prepared to charge the creature that now called itself Warmaster – he had to buy the Emperor some time, even if it cost him his life. As Horus completely disintegrated the Custodian Guard, the Emperor had seen inside him – there was no unshackling His son from the chains of Chaos. In His last moments of consciousness the Saviour of Mankind had used the momentary respite to summon his immense psychic gifts, concentrating all of his anger, betrayal, disgust, and love of what His son once was into pure destructive force. He blasted the Warp-tainted filth back to damnation. Oh, how horrifically beautiful it had been to watch the Emperor cast down His beloved son - even as His own blood pooled across the floor.
However Memnon had failed in his duty, arriving just in time to watch his master brought low by the warped evil that was once the leader of His Great Crusade. He had never seen such a soul wrenching sight as the desecration of the most beautiful thing in creation – the Emperor. His throat dangled open in a lunatic’s grin, mocking him with its perversion. One of his hands had almost been snipped neatly off, clinging on by a few strands of tendon the way a sailor would cling to his vessels while riding a storm. Or the way a Navigator clings onto sanity in the chaos of the Warp. Such a fate should never have been able to fall on a being as close to perfection as the Emperor –his once magnificent face was now melted, his right eyeball had burst like a boil under Horus’s psychic onslaught. Finally, his back had been wrenched out of place like a twig in a hurricane. It brought tears of vengeance to his eyes to see his Liege desecrated so far from flawlessness and he roared his anguish to the heavens. As an Adeptus Custodes, his creation and reason for living was to protect this single being, the Master of All Humanity, from harm. It should have been him – he should have been on the receiving end of these diabolical wounds, but he had failed.
The sheer scale of the changes wrought to Horus’s ship rammed icy needles into the spine of Memnon, and he shuddered uncontrollably. The once glorious bridge now crawled with insidious runes, casting a pall of dread the loyalists who set foot in the nightmarish room. All of the Imperial sigils had been utterly destroyed or despoiled beyond recognition and Memnon felt his gorge rise at this insult – the Imperial Eagle was more than just a mark; it was a symbol of the greatness of mankind and the Emperor himself. Sagging from the ceiling, the thick coolant pipes had been replaced with fleshy tentacles that throbbed and pulsed with a disgusting semblance of life as they pumped fluid from the bowels of the ship into bubbling vats and Memnon could not even bring himself to guess at their use. A gargantuan blood-red eye set its baleful gaze over the carnage at the centre of the room, malevolence oozing from its bulging socket. The Eye of Horus. It had followed, back and forth, as the Warmaster had slaughtered an already battered Sanguinius, and had mocked the Emperor as his favoured son committed the ultimate heresy. Just looking at it made Memnon’s skin crawl.
The nightmarish corridors of the Vengeful Spirit had become twisted beyond the material universe, becoming a daemonic monstrosity that seemed to have a life of its own and slowing the progression of boarding squads almost to a standstill. The corridors were no longer forged ceramite and adamantium, but coated in spongy, amorphous warp flesh, the floor a carpet of tongues. Disgusting appendages had erupted from the walls, groping and slashing, even dragging one of his squad halfway into the bulkhead wall, the only evidence of his existence a sickly green ripple running through the flesh and the memories of his slowly dwindling battle-brothers. Insane voices gibbered from the air, and sickening pressure seemed to swell inside each man’s brain with every step. Only sheer force of will held the daemons out. The smell was overwhelming even through his helmets advanced purification filters, chokingly rancid meat mingling with a copper taste that burned in the back of the throat and plastered the tongue to the roof of one’s mouth - the latter being the residue of foul sorcery, the former was much more disturbing in its potency. Fire that burned like acid and thousands of gibbering, spectral entities were spewed into the corridors, as if the ship itself was fighting back to repel the righteous intruders. Everything was chaos. Forming a strategy in the constantly changing maze of the infernal crafts belly was an impossible act; the only way Memnon and the elite number of Custodes of Artulon veteran squad, that had been teleported in the seconds that Horus had lowered the barges shields, had been able to locate the bridge of the barge was to forge through the insanity towards the thickest of the fighting. He was the final man standing of the men to board the craft.
But it was far from over. Even as Horus had fallen to the magnificence of his father, Abaddon, the new arch-Traitor had being plotting. The psychic backlash of the Emperor’s physical demise was paralyzing, shattering the minds of the forces loyal to the Imperium; even lesser men countless leagues away had been driven insane by the loss and feeling of complete emptiness. But even through the blood trickling from his eyes it had been clear to seeing the contorted snarl that constituted Abaddon’s face as he retreated further into the bowels of this hell-spawned battle barge - as clear and intense as the morning sun. Abaddon would return. Even if it took him an eternity he would return and stamp out the fires of the Imperium of Man from existence. This could not happen. This would not happen – no matter the cost.
Memnon Phoivostus, Companion of the Emperor and Captain of Veteran squad Artulon, tightened his grip on the red leather haft of the beautiful broadsword gifted to him by the glorious Emperor himself. He prepared to thunder into Hell after the bastard he now held responsible for the death of his Liege. He may be alone, but that is how the Adeptus Custodes worked most efficiently. Even when in squads each warrior was an individual, relying on no one else for their continued survival – whereas Astartes were soldiers and battle brothers and worked at their peak when in tactical squads. This was one of the main ways Custodes and Astartes differed, and the difference was great. Being alone brought no hesitation to the Custodes, they were trained to rely on themselves and no one else.
In spite of this, something did cause him to hesitate. The ground was trembling.
“Wait.”
The voice thundered from behind Memnon like the movement of tectonic plates, stopping him in his tracks. He spun and looked into the face of Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists and once brother to Horus. Dorn’s eyes burned with pure fury at the sight of a living Custodian when he could feel that his father was mortally wounded. It was almost painful to maintain eye contact with such intensity.

“You still live. How?”

“I was too late to do anything, much like yourself.” Memnon replied coolly, watching the eyes of the Primarch widen just a fraction at the hooded insult. “Abaddon exited the bridge as I arrived, and I must have his head-“

A fist like a cannonball impacted with the beautiful Imperial Eagle crafted onto the front of Memnon’s golden helmet, and everything became dark and static and falling. The Custodian barely had time to recover his senses before Dorn threw another wild punch which Memnon somehow managed to avoid. The blow hammered into the bulkhead, the adamantium buckling under such monumental force. “You would blindly charge after that insignificant wretch before checking that my father still breathes?!” Dorn’s rage was barely contained. Memnon began to open his mouth but quickly realised the Primarch no longer cared that he existed – the Emperor had stirred. Dorn hammered his shoulder guard out of the way with an open palm and stormed towards the prone form of the Emperor with a number of Custodes in tow. Memnon bit back his anger and followed suit.

He could see Dorn hesitating as the Custodes surrounded the Emperor. “Our lord yet lives!” yelled a Custodes brother, “Though his breath is shallow and his heartbeat feint”

At this the Primarch visually gathered himself and took a knee by his dying Emperor’s side. “Father, what do you command of me?”

“The Throne...Golden Throne...you must take me there now!” The Emperor whispered through gritted teeth. The Master of Mankind’s eyelids flitted shut, as if that last exertion of energy completely drained him.

“I must find Abaddon. He will atone for his Heresy and the atrocities he and Horus have committed against the Imperium,” Stated Memnon. “I will rejoin you in the Palace once this sworn duty is completed.”

“No, you will do no such thing.” Dorn rumbled, fire burning in his eyes. And with that he keyed in the teleporter beacon and frigid white flame engulfed them.


*****

Every fibre of his genetically engineered DNA itched for him to reach out and tear Dorn’s head clean from his shoulders. Memnon did not answer to the Imperial Fists Primarch; he had his own lapdogs to jump to his every whim. Even amongst his gigantic genehanced brothers Memnon was considered quite tall, but not the tallest. He was well over a head taller than most of the Astartes, and slightly leaner than a lot of his companions. He stared icy death directly into Rogal Dorn’s eyes as the teleportation concluded, but held his tongue and body in check.

They had never seen eye-to-eye, and Memnon was not sure if there truly was a reason. Maybe it was just his pride – The Emperor had given Rogal Dorn the order and honour of fortifying the Imperial Palace, and not his true heir’s, some of who had stood by his side on the field of war for nearly 600 years. He felt that the guardians of the Palace, men who knew it better than any other living creature save the Emperor himself, should be reinforcing the fortress to the impenetrable bulwark it had the potential to become. However the Emperors word was final. Or it had been until Horus had been caressed by the twisted fingers of Chaos. Now He would spend the rest of eternity upon His Golden Throne, holding back the tide of Chaos from penetrating the heart of the Imperial Citadel and His prone form.

Or maybe it was the way some of the Primarch brothers acted towards those they deemed as lesser creations. They believed that they were superior to all other creatures within the universe, save for their Father, the Emperor. However, Constantin Valdor – a mere Custode, and one of the only beings senior to Memnon within the military wing of the Imperium – had proved that self righteous belief to be completely in error. During an honour duel that had lasted for over an hour, Valdor landed the victorious blow against Horus. However this was before the Warmaster’s fall into madness, the duel would have been over much quicker and with a different outcome against the creature that bested the Emperor.

Memnon watched with silent fury and anguish, as the complete wrongness of the grim tableaux playing out in front of him finally hit home. Rogal Dorn was a statue at the side of his brother Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars. The Khan was caked in gore, and his movement was completely at odds with that of his sibling. It seemed he couldn’t stay still for longer than a few seconds, each movement measured and purposeful in his subconscious, betraying the lethality in his heart. He watched as the husk of Malcador - once the Sigilite of the Emperor, now the Hero of the Imperium – was removed from the Golden Throne. How the last embers of his life were quietly extinguished and the dust of his corpse billowed outwards.

And the Emperor awakened. He seemed frail as an old man, physically aged one thousand human years within the last few moments, even so Memnon’s heart lifted momentarily. His voice was rustling paper as he spoke to his clo0sest sons. “Poor, brave Malcador the Hero. He reserved a fragment of his strength for me. It gives me a little time to pass final orders to you all. If you do as I ask then I shall not wholly die, my spirit will at least survive. My injuries are severe, more so than I had hoped but less so than I had feared. My psychic powers will return to me in time but my body will never heal. I shall never walk amongst you again. I am now bound to this machine for all time. My faithful bodyguard and attendants know what is required. You must do as they request!”
“Dorn and Jaghatai, you have much work to do. Though the head of the serpent has been destroyed its coils still choke the safety of mankind. You and your loyal brothers must fight on. Cleanse the taint of treachery from out stars. Never again must we allow the Ruinous Powers of Chaos to have such a chance.

“Now all of you go! You know your duties. Execute them well. The universe has many horrors yet to throw at us. This is not the end of our struggle. This is just the beginning of our crusade to save Humanity. Be faithful! Be strong! Be vigilant!”

Those were the last words that he or anyone else would hear from the Emperor’s now dead lips.

*****

After the Primarchs had left the throne room and all that remained were the Emperors Companions, who would most likely never leave Terra again, Memnon approached the Golden Throne. Kneeling before his Creator he could feel the warm glow of peace emanating from the Throne, and began to whisper.

“ My Lord, forgive me for my failure. Not once, but twice did I betray my vows and my reason of creation to you on this day. I allowed my emotion to cloud my judgement, instead of checking your condition. I was not swift enough in my justice to reach you in time. Even if you can forgive me, I will never forgive myself. It is not emotion that drives me to do what I have to do, it is righteous vengeance. Your loyal Primarchs have to lead their Legions, so as a member of the Adeptus Custodes I believe myself to be the most qualified being in the galaxy capable of what needs to be done. My Veteran squad was killed to a man in the boarding action, and my brothers will be able to replace me with my squad. I do not delude myself in believing that I will see you again, but I swear that I will stop at nothing to complete my quest. Long live the Imperium!”

And with that he spun on his heel, never to look upon the Emperor’s face again.

*****


Memnon stalked through smoke blackened corridors, once pristine and gilded, towards the Imperial Palace space port. What had once been not seeing eye-to-eye with Dorn had transformed into something else after the stunt he had pulled on Horus’ ship. Getting in the way of the duties of one of the Emperors Companions was a crime of high treason, punishable by death, and Dorn was getting away with it! Memnon felt responsible for his friend and mentors death and would not stop until the threat of Abaddon was removed from the Imperium for all time.

Servitors cleared debris and removed bloodstains from the walkways as he passed. Now the heretical fleet was in retreat rebuilding of the Palace was underway – the cleanup operation would take years to be completed, but it had to start somewhere. His mind was set; talking to his Liege had helped. He now knew the course he would take, and no matter the outcome, or what he had to do to achieve it, he would complete his objective.

He walked towards the tech-clerk that was in charge of off-world craft. Looking at the great crowd of people in front of him he sighed inwardly. He hated having to use the Emperor as a badge of office, but as he needed to leave as quickly as possible it was unavoidable. “As Guardian of the Lord Emperor, I command you release to me a ship and its crew.”

“What do you require?” Buzzed the tech-priest, its mechanised mouthpiece clicking like that of a beetle.

“Something small, the fastest craft you have. And it must be difficult to detect by fleeing battle cruisers. Oh and you most probably won’t be getting it back.” Memnon added with a smirk. He was under no false illusions; right now Abaddon was one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and taking his head would most probably cost the Custode his life. He must atone for his failure. He must. And that meant the execution of Horus’s favourite son, whatever the cost.

The Palace tech-priest looked up at Memnon, unmoving, obviously calculating the most logical course of action to be taken. After a few moments deliberation his mouthpiece shifted. “Certainly, lord, right this way” barked from under the robes hood in a clipped, emotionless way. Memnon followed through the sprawling Imperial spaceport, taking in the maniacal work being carried out by the diverse forms of servitors of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Immense scaffolding was being erected towards the cavernous ceiling; blasted holes gaped into the night sky like pockmarks. The stars shone through the smoke circling the Fortress-City of Terra, blinking down on the destruction wrought by Chaos. They had travelled a great distance, almost the length of the vast building, until finally the Adept stopped.

“This is the best I can offer you,” droned the tech-adept “The Emperor’s Sword. it is due for launch tomorrow. Nimble, tough, difficult to detect. The Mechanicum would be grateful if you could find a way to return it, no matter the importance of your mission – it is currently the only ship of its kind.”

WarpStalker
14-09-2011, 22:21
“It is appreciated, and I will do everything in my power to bring her back to you.” Knowing full well that he, never mind it, had a very slim chance of returning to Terra this promise felt as empty as the heart of the half-man, half-robot standing in front of him. Memnon stared at the tech-priest, and it appeared that he had come to the same conclusion. His glassy, dead eyes lingered on the hull, as if he were pict-capturing every detail and Memnon wondered if this is where the Mechanicum saw beauty; in their most cherished designs. “I will return tomorrow for the launch, make sure the crew is ready.”

“As you command,” whirred the adept, without breaking eye contact with the cruiser. Memnon spun on his heel and headed towards the nearest exit; he had to prepare for his coming duty – both his body, and his soul.

*****

He had changed into a simply grey bodyglove, his armour packed into a simple adamantium transport crate. His shining silver blade was laid next to his pallet, the white light of his chambers holo-lamp catching the razor sharp edge and glinting like a jewel.

Memnon sat on the bare floor in the centre of his room. The enormous slab of his back was perfectly straight, his legs crossed underneath him. His whole body, his entire being seemed tensed, his almost beautiful face lined and contorted. Where Astartes features were enlarged and distorted, looking as if they suffered from gigantism, as they were in effect just humans that had been overloaded with growth hormones, making them much bigger, faster, stronger than any human. The Adeptus Custodes, on the other hand, were not. They were created more in His – the Emperor’s – image, and as such were almost perfection. Memnon’s grey green eyes burned with an inner fire, an intelligence that easily surpassed that of a human. They had a less bulky look about them, like ancient Gods of the Greckii and Romanii. Yet Memnon looked troubled.

A sharp knock rapped on his door, stirring him out of his meditation, and he relaxed. He stood, circled his shoulders and walked to the door. On the other side of the layers of plasteel stood one of Memnon’s oldest friends, a Custodian called Leandros.

“Brother,” he boomed, a tone of forced joviality in his voice. All of the Custodians felt the same, their closest companion, mentor, creator had been killed. This was a black time for the whole Imperium, but especially those that were closest to him. “Brother, I hear you are departing the Imperial Palace tomorrow. Tell me, how is that a wise move? And how can you possibly perform your duty to the Emperor if you are not here?”

“I do not expect you to completely understand what I have to do, and I mean this with no malice, but you were simply not there. You did not see the duel. You did not see Him cast down by His own son. You did not see the horrors of the ship or just how far the Sons of Horus have fallen. However I do ask you to trust me, as you have done in the past. Leandros, why are you here? Do you intent to stop me?”

“I would never do such a thing Memnon, just trying to talk some sense into you.” He forced a chuckle. “So, tell me what you are planning. How are you going to end his reign?”

“I am to give chase to Abaddon and the Vengeful Spirit tomorrow. Once I have caught them I will teleport onto the bridge and take his head.”
Leandros laughed, a hearty, true laugh, the first Memnon had heard since the cataclysm of the Heresy. “That simple, huh? What makes you think you will be able to get close enough for a teleport to be possible? Or that you will find him at all.”

“I just know,” retorted Memnon “He is heading for the Eye, all of the traitorous scum are. You ask too many questions, my friend. However it was good to see you. I appreciate you punching holes in my plan, as thin as it is, but I must try nonetheless.”

“You will be missed brother,” Leandros sounded genuinely gloomy “be safe. Ave Imperator.”

“Ave Imperator” Memnon whispered as the door to his cell slid shut with a purr.

*****

When Memnon returned the next day the engines of what was now his transport were already beginning to howl into life. The ship had been moved onto the launch deck. It was similar in design to what would become the Gladius-class frigate; however it was smaller, the size of a small destroyer class, and seeming to be made for a small tactical squad of elite marines. It bristled with gun batteries and torpedo tubes. The engines roared with the rage of angry Gods, burning white blue against the darkness of the launch deck.

He approached the vessel, admiring the fantastic design and construction as he neared the boarding pod. Small viewing portals were scattered along the vessels hull, and the battlements erupted out of the hull, mighty minarets topped with antennae and gun batteries decorating the rest. As he stepped into the pod that would take him to the ship he noticed the tech-adept that he had dealt with the day before stood in the corner, staring unblinking at the Custodian.

“I trust you remember the oath you swore yesterday” He clicked through those strange mandibles.

“Of course. Everything is in order for launch?”

“We are waiting on you, my lord.”

“Well, let us wait no longer.” With that the adept pressed a series of runes on the control pad and the pod lifted towards the entrance hatch of the battleship.

*****


After boarding was complete and the adept had gone on with his duties, after Memnon had commenced launch protocol and set co-ordinates, after the long journey was underway, Memnon walked slowly through the corridors towards the combat deck to hone his skills for the coming battle.

“Six combat servitors, threat level Omega.” He stepped into the combat sphere, the two half domes enclosing around him. As he went through a series of stretches and practice swings with the sword he had selected, he allowed his conscious to fade out, his sub-conscious taking over. Battle was his way of life – it was what Custodes were created for – and fighting had become second nature. Due to the rigorous, repetitious training and psycho-hypnosis all Custodian Guards go through muscle memories had been created for each offense and defence that had been drilled into him, meaning that he could allow his reflexes and only the smallest amount of concentration for this practice fight. It meant that he could introspectively consider what his next move would be.

Unlike Space Marines, the Custodian Guard were not designed for squad based warfare. They were bodyguard beyond measure, for the most glorious being in the universe. Standing almost a head taller than most Astartes, they were masters of death, forces of nature, the Emperors Wrath incarnate. Wherever their Lord went, they went. Wherever they marched, destruction followed. They were based on the creation of the Thunder Warriors used to crush the techno-barbarians of ancient Terra before the Emperor had united the world and started his Great Crusade, except honed to the highest degree of perfection. Before the loss of his sons, and his need for a more refined, easier to mass produce army to conquer the wider galaxy. They were warriors unparalleled, Primarchs and the very best of Space Marines their only betters.

Also unlike Space Marines, Custodes do not have a black carapace to interface with their artificer armour, due to the fact they were not created in such a crude way as implanting enhanced organs into a human. Instead fibre bundles are spliced to their nervous system, creating a direct uplink with their golden suits. The Machine Spirit in each Custodian battle plate are ancient and powerful, and though they need an organic being to interface with them, they enhance Custodes already transhuman skills into another world entirely, forming a symbiotic harmony with the machine spirit. The machine spirits primary focus is that of continuing its existence. The survival of the Custodian simply comes as a side-effect – if the Custodian is able to continue moving and fighting then the machine spirit can continue to be as one with the Cult Mechanicus’ Omnissiah.

The Custodians allowed their armours machine spirits a certain degree of control – if the sensors in the helm detected a threat behind the spirit and Custodian will act as one to neutralise the threat; the armour becomes a secondary skin, as much a part of the body as their true skin. They are also able, for limited periods of time at once, to use the machine spirit as an extension of their brains, thus giving them almost limitless cogitation power – it has been said that while in this hyper-enhanced state the Custodes act as if constantly one step ahead of their opponent, as if they know how to react before their enemy even twitches. However it comes at a price – long term use of the machine spirit as an extension of the brain starts a degradation process in the brain tissue, causing it to eventually atrophy as it is overloaded with power. Ten minutes of exposure could induce seizures and haemorrhaging. Such is the price of nigh unparalleled supremacy.

Memnon was slightly taller than most of his brothers, however not considered a giant amongst them. He was, however, an unusual specimen. He looked much leaner than his comrades, as if he had been stretched on a rack. Something in his genetically manipulated coding had made his body grow more vertically and less horizontally. As such his strength didn’t quite match that of his brothers – though he could still tear a regular mortal in half. However the fact that he was less hulking did have its advantages; he was lighter on his feet, and he could strike almost too fast for human eyes to see, never mind for their brains to process the silver fire licking out towards their vitals. He also considered himself an apt engineer, modifying his armour with such things as a personal force-field and slightly improved servo-muscles to accommodate for his increased speed. He meticulously repaired his amour after every battle, re-carving any sigils that had been damaged.

The Adeptus Custodes were not merely heroic warriors, they were the Emperors Companions. They were emphatic orators, born leaders, and some were even capable of helping the Emperor with His scientific research. Each suit of golden armour worn by the Custodians was unique – made to the direct proportions of each warrior by his own hands and those of the Mechanicum’s tech-adepts. Slightly more lightweight than Space Marine battle plate, the suits allowed for much greater range of movement. Based upon the armour of their predecessors, the Emperor’s Thunder Warriors of old Terra as a sign of respect, the Mk I battle plate was an imposing and archaic design. The tall conical helms of the more senior Custodians were loaded with optical trackers, sensors, data cogitators and even auspex, going as far as teleport homers and other tools for protecting their Lord in the senior brothers.

Although Custodians were trained to turn anything that they could get to hand into a deadly weapon, all Custodes had a preferred weapon style; Memnon had selected a long Dadao-style blade that had its origins from before the Pan-Pacific Empire had been an empire, and consisted of Chin and various other countries. The slightly front weighted end of the almost man-sized blade made for brutal downward slashes and a fluid combat style. The six combat servitors suddenly whirred into life. They readied their weapons and charged.

The Adeptus Custodes had a long tradition, where as a mark of respect and stature Custodes would be awarded names by their peers and superiors for particularly heroic deeds they completed in the theatre of war; Constantin Valdor, Chief Custodian of the Adeptus, had earned nineteen hundred and thirty two names before the Emperors ascension into the Golden Throne. They curled around the inside of the armour, starting where the helmet met the neck, and leading all the way in a great coil around the inside of the armour. Memnon himself had been bestowed seven hundred and ninety nine. Phoivostus, the second part of his name and what constituted to the name people referred to him by meant ‘blessed one’ in a long lost tongue, as he was born under a twin tailed comet – a good omen, although his most memorable and hardest earned was granted to him by the Emperor himself. It was the 138th he was awarded, Serpentis, and it is engraved on the inside of his armour just above where a human’s heart would be by his own hands...

*****



The Emperor had led him and his Veterans – though he wasn’t commander at the time – into an enormous ork space hulk that was on a collision course for an Imperial World in the realm of the Space Wolves. Hulks are gigantic conglomerations of meteorites and star ships lost to the Imperium and other alien races, and can range from a small asteroid to the size of Lunar, the moon of Terra. When ships got lost in the Warp they sometimes end up being twisted into something else by the pure Chaos of the Immaterium. The laws of physics do not apply in that otherworld, where chaos is everything, and everything is chaos. Tortured metal writhes around tortured metal, making new shapes and bending anything recognisable out of recognition. However some parts stay intact. Because space hulks are made up of so many ships they make formidable space fortresses, bristling with engines and gun batteries they are nigh impregnable in the right hands.

The Emperor and Custodes boarded the hulk with the Vlka Fenryka and began to carve a bloody path through the twisted metal of what was once an Imperial battle cruiser. All Imperial ships are built to an STC template, therefore they are easy to navigate for the allied Imperial forces to defend as well as attack to recapture. The orks that had taken control of the immense vessel began to realise they were under attack and flooded towards the invaders, trying to stem the tide of bodies of their green skinned kin from mounting up.

On that day, both races got more than they had bargained for. Due to the Chaotic interference the warp had wrought throughout the ship the Emperor was only able to see part way into the hulk, the route they had to take to destroy the blasted meteor-fortress. As the battle intensified, and droves of greenskins were dying every second to the Imperial blades, something else awakened. This was one of the earliest encounters of a new strain of xenos, which would be first documented on the moons of Ymargl. The biped brutes stood over six feet tall, had four arms that ended in wicked rending claws, and the backs of their heads were distended with what looked like brain matter. They were strong enough to punch straight through the bulkhead to the left and right of the advancing Wolves and began tearing power armour from the Marines.

Although the alien attack was fierce and sudden, the marines and Custodes were the greatest fighting forces of the Imperium and it took more than some unexpected xenos to faze them. Memnon heard his Captain Hector yell “Immolate the alien unclean!” A Custodian in tactical dreadnaught armour boomed past him and his Immolator Lance breathed liquid promethium death over ork and alien alike. The smell of burning flesh filled the corridors, the sickly sweet smell of fat bubbling off bones and screams echoed the length of the vessel. The warrior levelled his lance into a gaping rent in the wall and tongues of fire licked out to consume any aliens attempting to breach the bulkhead.

One of the aliens dropped from high up the corridor wall onto the shoulders of a Wolf and proceeded to wrench his helmet clean off, tearing a huge flap of skin out of the side of his face in the process. He grabbed one of its arms and cut it in twain with his power axe, the sizzling moon slicing like butter through its carapace. Leaping forward he sliced a backhanded strike through the wiry legs of another xenos and dashed its skull into pieces. The Wolves of Fenris were brave and ferocious warriors, runic talismans and gruesome trophies displaying their kills adorned their armour. Constantly moving, Memnon whirled through the melee like a hurricane, lashing out with his blade and rupturing flesh, muscle and bones with every blurring strike. His weapon weaved a dance of death for the inhabitants of the Hulk; they simply didn’t have the finesse to go toe to toe with the Custodians, and were not able to bring their numbers to bear due to the walls surrounding them.

The strike teams kept moving, killing, clearing a path for the Emperor. The fighting was close and brutal, but the invaders had the upper hand. They were fighting by the side of the Master of Mankind. Finally they broke through the initial wave of defences and were in a cavernous room that would have once been the bridge of a spacecraft if it wasn’t so horribly twisted. Blood and excrement had been daubed on the walls, and orks were everywhere. In the middle of the green throng stood a huge ork Warboss; a suit of patchwork scrap armour covering his leathery, moss-coloured hide. He was missing a hand and in its place a humongous digger pincer the size of a small adult had been hastily forced into the stump by a Mekboy – it looked big enough to grab a space marine round the midsection and snip him in half.

A cry of “For the Emperor!” ran through the Custodian Guard, as they charged towards the shifting green mass, firing mass reactive rounds from the bolters of their Guardian Spears as they assaulted. Memnon drew his archaic gilded bolt pistol as he ran, snapping off shots that caused chunks of flesh to be blown from bodies and limbs to shatter. The orks returned fire, slugga’s barking as the orks began to lumber towards the golden giants thundering towards them.

WarpStalker
22-09-2011, 02:11
Slugs of metal fizzled on the disruptor field that protected Memnon, but the shield held, disrupting the energy of the incoming fire. His retinal display indicating its power was at 94% and decaying steadily. Suddenly a blast of purple lightning surrounded him, forcing him to his knees like the hand of a giant. Red runes blinked over his display, but Memnon pushed the warnings to the back of his mind. The Emperor had continued the charge, which meant that Memnon had a duty to perform.

As he forced himself to his knees, servos whining under the pressure, Memnon swept his gaze swiftly over the battlefield. A moment was all he needed. The Warboss had moved onto a raised dias and was thrashing around with such force that Space Wolves were being hammered into a pulp as they charged. The Wyrdboyz continued their psychic barrage, purple warplight casting insane shadows over the bridge. Huge pyres burned around the enormous room, and surrounding each one bones littered the floor. Some appeared human, others were too big and thick to be the remains of any human. The orks had no problem eating their kin – eating the heart of a great ork warrior was believed to bestow you with their martial skill. Gun smoke curled through the air, Memnon’s autosensors flashing up targets that were obscured by the groping grey tendrils.

The Emperor and the rest of Artulon had continued the charge towards the Warboss as it continued its rampage. He watched as it smashed its huge metal fist into the breastplate of a Custodian, knocking him through the air towards the Space Wolves. Memnon could see that his armour had completely buckled and imploded into his chest, however due to the advanced physiology of the Custodes the arterial blood that had initially sprayed out clotted very quickly. If this battle was ended quickly his life could be saved. Memnon began to lope towards the platform and the Emperor.

As he neared his target a huge mob of greenskins were forced into his path by the rampaging xenos. A salvaged missile spiralled hectically towards Memnon’s blindside and finally his shield succumbed to the barrage it had taken. Small arms fire began bouncing from the ceramite plates of his armour, gouging lumps from the surface and defacing the beautiful hand carvings embossed over it. He dove towards the melee before him, separating an orks head from its shoulders and splitting another from shoulder to groin with a downwards slice. There were too many to kill before the Emperor engaged with the ork Warlord, and Memnon took out his frustration on anything that stood in his path. He watched as the Emperor launched towards the green monstrosity and doubled his efforts to reach the battle. Artulon occupied the sea of orks amassed around the Warboss as the Master of Mankind began his onslaught.

During the psychic duel with the three Wyrdboyz, and with his fiery blade clashing with the crackling claw of the enormous Warlord the Emperor was momentarily distracted. As the back of one of the shaman’s heads exploded with psychic feedback, an enormous xenos specimen detached itself from the ceiling and dropped towards Him. It was much larger than the others, slavering jaws dripping corrosive saliva over the deck as it plummeted towards the Custodians. Moving with terrifying speed it ripped an arm from Brother Sebastian and punching a hooked limb into his cranium. Sebastian would be the only Custode killed during the mission, the Emperor engraving his name onto the shoulder guard of his resplendent gilded armour, to be remembered for all time. It leapt from his prone body towards the Emperors back as Memnon spun towards the Emperors magnificence.

“My Lord!” Memnon bellowed between sword strokes. Reversing his grip, the Custodian launched his two handed blade like a javelin, catching the abomination in the chest and pinning it to the wall. He then proceeded to tear the Slugga that shot him in the face limb from limb for his trouble. Picking up a cleaver he quickly dispatched the rest of the orks, striking like quicksilver even with the unfamiliar weapon. As the Emperor decapitated the monstrosity and boiled the Warlords blood within his body, both alien races broke in disarray almost simultaneously. The new aliens became feral and incoherent, from the organised strike teams they had seemed to be working in with great efficiency and the orks began fighting amongst themselves along with everything else; both were easy enough to mop up with the fury of Russ’s Wolves and the perfection of the Custodians. The Emperor placed the enormous vortex bomb at the centre of the hulk. He and his protector’s teleported from within the hulk back to the safety of their own ships, moving away to a safe distance before detonating.




*****


The servitors whirred and buzzed as they charged again and again, their lethal vibroblades and concussion mauls flickering with power fields as they tried to steal Memnon’s life. He parried their every strike, countered their every riposte, flowing between them like the most exquisite dancer. His sword licked out, each attack cutting at their grey, lifeless flesh. The duel could have been ended by him at any of a hundred times, however he fought for over an hour. The servitor’s bled dark oil and lubricant squirted from multiple wounds on each one. By the end Memnon had almost reduced them to their components. He stepped from the combat sphere and wiped his face with a towel.

“Six combat servitors, threat level Omega” he repeated, stepping back towards the cage.



*****


After the battle the Emperor had approached Memnon and clapped His hand on His sons shoulder guard. “My son, you did me a great service in saving my life today” He smiled. Even after all this time it was still sometimes painful to look upon such a perfect smile, especially after battle when the blood was up and the hearts were pumping.

Even so, Memnon laughed wholeheartedly. “If you had so wanted, you could have caused them all to explode simultaneously. But I know you love to watch us showing off.”

The Emperor chuckled at that, the most beautiful noise to ever pass between human lips. “Even so,” He replied, “I appreciate that you cast aside your weapon for me. For that, I bestow you with the name Serpentis, after reptilian creatures of Ancient Terra that could strike faster than a man’s eye could follow, and were deadly accurate. Now, I will let you get back to your duties...”

And with that the Emperor turned and departed Memnon’s quarters.



*****


After three more training duels Memnon headed back to the bridge. He climbed the steps to the gilded command throne, and sat, immobile in the enormous golden seat. His mood, for apparently no reason, began to darken out of control, until finally Memnon snarled in disgust at the irony of the situation –however where he could leave his throne whenever he so wished the Lord Emperor was forever interred in his Golden Tomb.

“Report!” he shouted, losing just enough control to keep the anger and despair from his voice. A young officer of the Imperial Navy approached the command pulpit, his face white as the snow of the mountain peaks of Alterax. He was tall for a human, and almost painfully thin. His grey uniform hung from him as if it were trying to drown him. “At ease, soldier.” He seemed to relax a slight degree. Memnon waited as the man gathered himself – he knew it was difficult for mortals to look upon beings of such raw perfection without being phased.

“All...all systems...at full ca-ca-capa-“

Memnon cut in. “Soldier, what is your name?”

“My, my name? Nealus. My name is Nealus.”

“Well Nealus, it is safe to say that I don’t bite my own crew.” The rest of the crew laughed at that, and Nealus turned a deep shade of red, but seemed to have regained his senses. He continued his report.

“All systems are at full capacity, sir. Engines have been diverted much of the ships power, as you requested, shields are at 40% as a result. We would be gaining on any fleet within the Imperium at this speed. However...there is one thing. The Astropathic choir indicate that is impossible for them to enter the warp. Any ship that did so would be instantly lost or torn apart by the roiling power of the realm. Nothing detected on short or long range scans yet, but you will be notified as soon as anything changes.”

“Thank you Nealus. Return to your duties.” Nealus nodded. That was troubling, however not totally unexpected. Such psychic backlash as that of the last few months could cause untold changes to the Warp. He just hoped that the Heretical forces were in the same situation.



*****


Before the next inevitable storm that chaos rained down on the Imperium there were moments of fleeting peace from the Four. It was impossible to enter the Warp and stay on course – the psychic backlash of the Emperor falling, and the Gods of Disorder deserting their favoured son caused the empyrean to roil and tumble violently with titanic waves of immaterial emotion. The Skullmaster Khorne raged with unsurpassed fury that death of such immensity could just stop; Father Nurgle found that many of the plagued and infirm were beginning to show signs of recovery; Slannesh, Prince of Pleasure, realised with dread that after such cataclysm many beings were loath to partake in such levels of pain and pleasure needed to sustain such an insatiable entity. Just as the tides of the ocean, the powers of Chaos waxed and waned, growing in times of great death and misery, calming when they were ended. Tzeentch, in the moments of calm as the other eternal powers retreated and licked their wounds, found it possible to reflect, to rationalise the events of the Great Heresy. It had been an enormous success; the Anathema himself had been brought low. How the mighty have fallen. Such sorrow emanated from the Imperium of Man, billions of minds to be shaped and sculpted to Tzeentch’s ends.

One thing was certain – Chaos needed a new plaything.



*****


The Dark Eldar attack was as ferocious as it was sudden. The Emperor’s Sword was making startling speed through the void of space, nothing had been picked up on long range or short range scans for days and thus the vessel was on a low alert level. Due to the reduced power going to the shields the crew of Memnon’s vessel had barely picked the enemies up on their scans before they were launching boarding parties. Some were shot down by the gun batteries covering the Sword; however the Dark Eldar were the masters of raiding and many more reached their destination. They would have attacked what they would have deemed an easy target. Memnon smiled, they would be bitterly disappointed. He imagined the hellish storm of heavy bolter and autocannon fire they would have to wade through to reach the bridge.

Screams began to echo down the corridor outside the bridge, hammering on the reinforced hatch. They were advancing too fast – Memnon had underestimated the vile creature’s abilities. The autocannon beyond the door suddenly shut off. Memnon looked around at the crew of the bridge. “Stand firm, the Emperor Protects!” was all that he had time for before a searing beam of anti-light burst through the door; it was so black it appeared to absorb the light around it. For the first time Memnon felt, no, fear was the wrong word. More – more trepidation at the oncoming assault. He was one, and they were many, but he had to prevail. He whispered two words and his machine spirit obeyed.



*****


Archon Valdred, High Reaver of the Shadow Hands Kabal, Ravager of the Desmentus solar system, Once High and Mighty, now in command of a measly six ships and a sickeningly pitiful one million slaves, quickly cast his gaze over the bridge. A wicked smile split his evil face, his eyes making a mockery of everything the men and women of the bridge crew stood for. His disdain for the human filth was palpable. His gaze stopped on each and every human in the room. None dared to look upon his face – these Mon’Keigh would be worth something. Military personnel always sold well in Commorragh, their usually above average intellect for the base species combined with weapons training meant that they could be put to better use than the disgusting masses. Once their spirits had been crushed of course, he mused wickedly, the smile finally spreading to his eyes.

Valdred flicked his hand and his Incubi bodyguard responded instantly – the mon’keigh weren’t worth wasting his breath over. The six Incubi stepped forward as one, their ... spears snapping into position like clockwork, finding a target within seconds. Their movements caused the crew to take a step back, some pressing themselves tightly to the command consoles, many uttering whimpers and begging for mercy. There would be no mercy from the Dark Eldar; they barely even knew the meaning of the word anymore. Valdred cast his gaze once more over the room. All Eldar found human construction repulsive, and Valdred almost winced at the bulky, square consoles and the drab grey surroundings. There were no perceivable curves, everything was flat and unappealing. The only thing that caught his eye was the long blade that had been thrust into the first step up to the command throne. The blade glittered in its makeshift hilt – it would have taken immense strength to force it so deep into the ceramite, a feat no human was strong enough to accomplish. Gazing over his property, one in particular caught his eye.

The vermin seemed to be edging around the room towards the rear of the Incubi, its gaze locked onto the closest. A mere human. He chuckled darkly; what did the deluded creature believe it could achieve? No human was above even the lowliest of the hated Craftworld Eldar; an Incubus was the match of a space marine battle brother. Bellowing a way cry unlike anything any human had ever uttered, it began to charge at a blistering speed. Something was wrong. Before he could give his bodyguard any kind of warning the human was behind him. With the slightest movement it tore the Incubi’s head clean from his shoulders.


*****

Ba'al Starslayer
23-09-2011, 09:44
I like it :D There are couple of errors ("your" instead of "you're", for example), but they're only minor. Good work :)

WarpStalker
26-09-2011, 01:02
Data blazed behind Memnon’s eyes as his falsehood fell away, revealing the resplendent Custodian it had been camouflaging from the invaders. He swiftly analysed each of the remaining enemies to the minutest detail, deciding the greatest and least threat by the smallest of movements and the way each warrior held their weapons. The power running through his brain was more potent than any drug, and he knew it would be easy to get lost within such enlightenment. However even after such a short time he was beginning to feel the side effects. His nose was bleeding profusely and it felt like something was trying to crawl out of his stomach via his throat. In less than a second he calculated the fastest route to his blade. Continuing his assault, he ducked under a beam of dark light that would have ended any chances of completing his mission in less than a heartbeat. Spinning into the guard of the Incubus he slammed an elbow into its throat, hearing the satisfying crunch of breaking vertebrae. The Eldar instantly doubled over, only to find the golden knee of a giant travelling like a meteorite towards its face. The neck snapped back like a whip and Memnon watched almost in slow motion as the back of the helm impaled on one of the razor-tips of the Incubus’s trophy rack, vivid purple blood like the finest synth-wine bubbling from the slit.

Memnon didn’t break step as he dived to the side as another of the Incubi discharged its Tormentor towards him with a thought. Rolling, he came up almost reaching distance from his glistening blade. Immense pain ruptured throughout his body as another Incubus blasted him at point blank range with the Tormentor built into its helm. The Custodian felt as if his veins were being pumped with lava, swiftly rushing towards his heart and sizzling deep canyons into his brain. He almost passed out from the pain but the machine spirit had other ideas – if he stopped now all was lost, the Xenos vermin would capture him and his beautiful armour would be torn apart. A potent cocktail of combat stimms flushed his system and his heart almost tore its way through his breastplate. The spirit in his suit forced him onwards even as his body screamed for the pain to end. Reaching out a quivering hand towards his blade his fingers curled slowly around the haft and as Memnon pulled the sword from the plascrete step the combat drugs finally kicked in. His vision cleared and he turned towards his would-be executioner flinched at his immense display of power of shrugging of the blast of pure neural energy. Even the bestial snarl that had contorted the Archon’s face into a grotesque mask had been replaced by a look of shocked horror – the Kabal leader was almost visibly leaning away from the piercing gaze of Memnon’s faceplate.


*****

The crew of the Emperor’s Sword were some of the most disciplined men and women in the entire Imperial Navy; such was the importance of the survival of the new breed of star ship. Once they had recovered from their original shock they drew their las pistols and began peppering the invaders with small arms fire. Nealus was scared. No, he was completely petrified. As he lie in bed at night as a child his eldest brother would whisper horror stories of tall, beautifully elegant, wickedly cruel aliens called the Dark Ones, every night before Nealus and his siblings would fall asleep. He told them of these depraved xenos and how they would often creep into children’s bedrooms and spirit them away into the night. How they would flay their screaming victims, layer by layer, while they still drew breath. Nealus would cry himself to sleep and dream terrible dreams of these debased maniacs, every morning awakening in cold sweats and floods of tears. And now, here they were. The figures of his darkest nightmares come to spirit him away, to take his flesh and wear it in front of his eyes. Nealus was afraid, yes, but that didn’t make him a coward.

Unclasping the safety buckle of his leather holster with unsteady fingers and drawing his father’s pistol with trembling hands, he pointed the gun towards the nearest monster. The gun bucked in his hands as he fought to control the aim, scoring tiny rents out of the black carapace encapsulating the creature but doing no significant damage. All was mayhem. Las-bolts and shotgun rounds screamed across the room, grabbing wildly, grasping for purchase in anything that they touched. Screams of pain reverberated around the room as two of the Incubi ignored the shimmering giant wreaking havoc upon their fellows. Naelus had watched as Memnon tore his sword free with a shuddering hand, he couldn’t imagine the levels of pain that would cause a figure of legend such as Memnon to practically stop in his tracks. He had never seen a Custodian before – Throne, he hadn’t seen a Space Marine until the Great Betrayal – and this one certainly cut an imposing figure. Standing at the centre of the maelstrom like a lho-tower, guiding craft to safety, he exuded an aura of calm. His golden armour glimmered in the stark light of the bridge, each beautiful carving depicting a holy Imperial sigil in perfect clarity. But the most inspiring, and terrifying, thing about Memnon was the way he moved. He was liquid, running and flowing around any obstacle put in his path. He danced the Great Dance of Death, and nothing was safe from his blade. The Incubus that had caused such pain to the Custodian looked on in stunned disbelief that his Tormentor had had almost no effect on his adversary, however Memnon didn’t give him much time to ponder the thought as his sword wailed through the air, taking his depraved assailant’s head as it sang its oblivion song.

An Incubus moved towards Memnon’s rear and Nealus cried a warning. He emptied an entire clip towards the invader, and the combination of the shrill cry of warning and the mass of las-bolts caused it to turn towards Nealus, staring into his eyes. As it spun on its heel one of the las-bolts pierced it straight through the eye, skewering the brain. Nealus stared at what he had done, dumbfounded.

“I killed one! I kille-” The words were cut short and replaced as a scream tore free from his lips. Blood blossomed in a beautiful rose on the front of his uniform as a blade pierced slowly through his abdomen and Nealus was forced to watch, transfixed as the tip sliced a great hole in the flesh of his belly with almost surgical precision. It had entered almost touching his spine, and all he could do was stand, twitching, watching, as the Klaive tore the life from his frail body. Ruby red gore bubbled from his lips. The pain was excruciating and all he wanted was for it to end. His wish was granted – the blade was torn free with a savage grunt. I don’t want to sleep, they will come and take me away. The thought flashed through his mind, his last thought. They will take me, and take my skin, and i’ll have to watch while they do it. Before his knees could even consider collapsing under his weight the dark metal flashed once more, taking off his head. They had come. They had taken him away.


*****

Memnon had dispatched his foe and spun at Nealus’s warning, only for the young Officer to place a crack shot through the Incubus’s visor. He had also watched, helpless as the blade pushed through the mortal, unable to return the favour. He was burning out; vision blurring, headache spiking – probably some bleeding on his brain. Red warning runes flashed on his combat display and he blink-clicked them away. Whispering prayers to the Omnissiah for his suits spirit he disengaged his mind from its, breaking the perfect uplink with trepidation. Instantly he wanted it back, needed it, the power the symbiosis granted. He knew from experience the feeling would pass, but that didn’t subtract from the severity of the feeling.

By now regular Dark Eldar Kabalites had begun filtering through the portal into the bridge, firing shards of razor crystal at the bridge crew. Memnon pushed himself towards them, now relying on his own instincts and not inconsiderable battle experience. A grim pall of dread had descended over the bridge. Something was wrong...

The shadows were moving.


*****

The temperature of the bridge dropped in an instant, pockets of moisture in the air crystallising, breath freezing as it parted lips. Sibilant hissing echoed around the room. Then suddenly shadows began reaching out for the crew, screeching, clawing, stabbing. Confusion reigned, men and women were dragged screaming through their own shadows, freeing fire paralysed crewmembers where they stood. Balefire surrounded Memnon, however his disruptor field held.

Mandrakes.

He hadn’t considered that possibility and as such hadn’t briefed the crew on how to handle such a sudden and terrifying attack. Staying away from the places where shadows gathered he charged towards the Archon – this needed to end, and fast. The llone Incubus moved to intercept, but it wasn’t fast enough. Drawing a much smaller blade than its huge Klaive, the Xenos drew back its arm and launched the dagger at Memnon. Striking faster than even the Eldar Pirates his fingers closed around the blade, and he returned it to its owner. Through his brainpan. Looking down, the shimmering green blade had managed to slice through the plating of his gauntlets with contemptuous ease, and blood slowly trickled from the small gouge.

Memnon continued his charge towards the Archon. His limbs felt sluggish and he almost stumbled as he came almost within reaching distance of the Archon. The blade in his hand felt heavier than anything he had ever held. Maybe he should put it down for a moment...

No, the Eldar leader had to die. Mustering all of his strength he hammered his blade towards Valdred. The Archon barely flinched as the blade glittered towards him, a silver arc like the tail of a comet tracking it through the air. A black orb flared around the Archon just before the weapon struck, and Memnon felt like he was trying to force the edge of his blade through plascrete. By the time the blade finally touched Valdred the only damage it could muster was scratching the top layers from the Eldar’s Ghostplate. The Dark Eldar shadowfield designs were incredibly powerful forcefield devices, able to withstand ordnance while keeping the possessor of such a potent artefact relatively safe. Another wave of dread settled on Memnon, who felt as if he had to carry the weight of the entire ship on his shoulders while keeping the invading force at bay. He realised, too slowly, the error that he had made, and why he had such an awful taste in his mouth. Glacial air enveloped him as the shadowfield began to ripple – the Custodian attempted to dive clear, but the poison that had enveloped the throwing dagger was now coursing through his system and had begun to seriously affect his reactions and motor functions. His vision was swimming with ink blots as he attempted to roll clear from the Archon when three mandrakes tore themselves into realspace with a wail that set Memnon’s teeth on edge. They burst from within the midnight gloom of Valdred’s shadowfield and it was everything Memnon could do to defend himself from their initial onslaught. Valdreds face split into a horrifically malevolent grin and shrill laughter was all that the Custodian could hear.

Memnon’s blade was a deadweight as he tried desperately to stop his assailants, however even when his glittering blade did make contact – which was becoming more and more of a rarity – he felt that he was literally slicing at shadows. Black swirls of smoke curled from the wounds, but the Mandrakes acted as if they felt nothing. Burning green runes crawled over their bodies, causing Memnon’s head to ache more than it already did – which was on the same level as having electrically charged wires slowly poked through his cranium.

The poison that had enveloped the Incubus’s blade had been terribly potent indeed, and even the extraordinarily advanced physiology of the Adeptus Custodes wasn’t enough to protect Memnon from a toxin that would have caused a regular human’s organs to completely shut down in less than a minute. The warrior’s vision had almost completely greyed out, with huge black globules to burst in front of his eyes every time he moved. Dark-forged steel began to make its mark upon his armour and flesh, slowly finding its way through the gilded ceramite encasing the Custodian and into muscle and organs without distinction, as the Mandrakes whirled and spun around him in their own brand of death. One would dart in to distract him as another spun under his guard and punching its blade towards his stomach – they never stopped moving, constantly attacking, constantly watching the golden giant. Memnon could feel his life-force trickling from a multitude of punctures in his enormous body, none were particularly fatal, however the sheer number slipping through his guard combined with the virulence of the venom running through his bloodstream had almost brought him to his knees.

“Do not kill him! You fools!” Memnon heard the Archon yell dully over the sound of war-drums pounding in his ears, and the mandrakes backed off fractionally as they stared venomously at their current lord, their strange green eyes burrowing through his armour. The Custodian knew he would only get one shot to end this. He also knew this was it. Triggering the digital weapon in his gauntlet caused a blinding flash of light to blossom, enveloping the room. The mandrakes screamed in agony it the intensity of the flash, visibly shrinking and casting their heads back and forth. Memnon bellowed as he stumbled into a charge. A cry of “For the Emperor” burst from his lips as he raised his sword above his head with a herculean display of strength. With his last reserves from the now empty pool of his soul, Memnon sliced the blade diagonally into the first mandrake, cleaving it from shoulder to groin. The reverse stroke amputated the next creature’s legs and he crushed its head under his foot as he thrust his glowing blade through the corrupt face of the last surviving attacker. Finally nothing stood between him and Valdred. Nothing except for the wounds that covered his body, and the poison encircling his system like a silent predator and consuming his body with its own dark nutrition.

His sword finally slipped from his fingers, clattering to the floor as he took one final step towards Archon Valdred. He had failed.


*****



Thank you, the only bit I don't like is the bit where he talks to the Emprah after his internment, not sure if there is too much cheez lol, thoughts?

TheOtherGuy
28-09-2011, 20:05
I enjoyed tgis story very much man. Good work

WarpStalker
28-09-2011, 20:29
Thanks man, there's plenty more to come! Tell your friends! :p

WarpStalker
29-09-2011, 16:44
Update 29/09/11 - Pretty big update, think it almost doubled the existing word count. Also made quite a few changes to the first section so if you would like to you could give that a reread!

Templar Marshal
01-10-2011, 10:17
Good story, looking forward to the next chapter

WarpStalker
05-10-2011, 16:24
Update 05/10/11 , fairly large size. Quite a bit of combat coming up after this!

im not so sure about the new update but would love to hear what people think!

WarpStalker
24-10-2011, 13:14
UPDATE: 24/10/11, Note, this is the last update that this story will be getting in a while, I have too much going on in real life with university studies and I am working on another story, which, if its good I will be submitting to Black Library during their induction period.

Do not fear, this is not the end of Memnon, not by a long shot...