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Thread: Brothers in Chaos

  1. #1
    Chapter Master Imperialis_Dominatus's Avatar
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    Brothers in Chaos

    This is a story I was writing for the Heroes of the Space Marines competition. Then after I wrote it, I read Dark Apostle. Oh well. Read on.

    Brothers in Chaos

    Persephone III lay on the outer fringes of the blemish on the galaxy that is the Maelstrom. Like so many worlds in that region, it was scarred deeply by millennia of conflict. Its sparse population, fully aware of their vulnerable position, had exercised constant vigilance from outside threats. They had, even with their meager resources, beaten off many foes, including Ork incursions from the many greenskin empires nearby, and raids from the despicable Dark Eldar.

    But they had never faced the most dreaded foes in the galaxy: the Traitor Legions of Chaos. Now, one of those terrible Legions, the Word Bearers, had come. A full Host had taken control of the space above the planet. Teleporting teams of elite Anointed Terminators had decimated several formidable, but remote, orbital defense relays situated on the jutting peaks that formed Persephone III’s twisting mountain ranges.

    Cults had infiltrated the planet’s few large population centers and acted with haste. Riots erupted across the planet, stretching the Planetary Defense Force and the few Arbites forces thin as panic reigned. A single rampant Daemon, summoned by the mass suicide of one cult, tore through the Imperial Palace and ripped out the Planetary Governor’s heart, throwing the planetary government into confusion.

    Soon, this planet would no longer lie in the grasp of the Corpse God, thought Nazarul Shaldor, Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers and Lord of the Host that was assailing the planet. Soon, all that lived on this world would serve the Supreme Cause of Chaos, whether by its worship or in sacrifice to it. His dark eyes glittered and his sharp, bronzed features contorted into the grin of a shark anticipating a meal, teeth included.

    He turned his gaze to the great work that was under construction here, on this plateau deep in Persephone III’s wilderness. Gigantic, unfinished walls surrounded the tall, octagonal building within. The building, the Basilica Chaotica, was made of a black stone torn from the depths of the planet and imbued with terrible sorceries of binding and permanence. Stained glass windows with eternally twisting images of unholy deeds adorned the walls at seemingly random intervals.

    Outside, the courtyard was irregularly patterned with vats of blood, crucified skeletons, and pyres burning with the remains of those who succumbed to exhaustion in the creation of this mighty edifice. Colossal daemon-bound machinery ground their blackened bones into dust and cast it into the mortar.

    Massive steps of stone led up to high-arching double doors made of the same material as the walls. The doors were braced with rune-covered steel and emblazoned with the Eight-Pointed Star of Chaos. The joints creaked as the door opened, but it seemed more the growl of an untamed beast.

    On the inside, the bare floor where prostrate faithful congregated was gray marble. Glowing runes skittered across its surface, wildly circling the only break in the flat expanse- the altar. A huge stone tablet, able to accommodate many occupants, lay at the top of the rise of a few short steps that still seemed to bring the priesthood far above their followers. Cleverly carved channels in the shapes of powerful runes drained the victims’ precious lifeblood to the urns stationed all around.

    At the back of the chamber, nearly hidden, lay a staircase that spiraled upwards into a shadowed cleft; therein a repository of sorcerous librams, alchemical agents, and scrolls of the Dark Faith lay in abundance. Nazarul’s ancient artificer armor, runes on its surface glowing dully, thudded and whirred as he ascended the steps. His gray robes, marked with runes of arcane power inked in blood, rustled quietly. Scrolls of parchment and relics of bone, marks of his favor, clinked together. His wings, black-feathered and tattered, folded together silently to accommodate the small passage.

    He needed to know how long it would take for the Imperial dogs to attack. They would soon; he knew it to be so. As dire as the circumstances were now, they could not afford to allow the strength of the Word Bearers to grow, and the recently disappeared scouts would bring them here like dogs to a scent. The Basilica Daemonica would be sanctified with the blood of the infidels, and bring this world into the fold.

    At Nazarul’s approach, Salazar the Enthraller stood and bowed. He did not look at the face of his master’s helm, which took on the appearance of a daemonic skull with twisting, spiraling horns and an even crueler set of fangs than those Nazarul himself possessed. The many fetishes and satchels attached to Salazar’s velvet robes made scraping and jangling noises as he moved. He responded quickly to his master’s thoughts.

    “They approach as we speak, my lord,” Salazar croaked from beneath his helm, which he never removed. It featured an abstract, menacing face, and long, barbed spires radiated out like a halo. “I shall make ready, if it please you,” the Sorcerer replied to his master’s thoughts yet again. Nazarul found this telepathic game to be annoying- he liked his mind to be his own- but it was efficient. The old bolt-magnet knew when to keep his mouth shut and when to allow his master to speak; that was sufficient for now. He spoke.

    “Very well. Prepare the Consecrated and our Blessed Constructs,” he said, referring to the Host’s possessed brethren and the Defilers. “I must see to the others.” He stalked out of the chamber, and Salazar had to mentally restrain his spider-like familiar from following the Apostle, such was its natural attraction to such a focus of Chaotic power and commanding aura.

    Nazarul stopped next at Corleone’s chamber. The Black Abbot, as he was known, was characteristically prostrate before his small Chaos shrine, mumbling under his breath. He sensed the Dark Apostle quickly, and turned to face him, still on one knee. The Black Abbot dressed in a mockery of an Imperial Cardinal’s attire- his long ceremonial vestments were adorned with Chaotic runes and he wore a tall headpiece bearing the eight-pointed star. Around his neck was chained a copy of the revered Epistles of Lorgar. A long, scraggly beard failed to hide the ritual scars on his face. He waited silently, head bowed.

    “Ready the faithful, Abbot Corleone. Battle approaches, and we shall see these Imperial dogs eye-to-eye at last,” he commanded.

    “At last,” echoed Corleone. “The True Path is open, the Gods shall prevail!” His rasp betrayed all of his rabid fanaticism and not a hint of uncertainty. As Nazarul strode out of the room, Corleone reached for a huge eviscerator, caressed it fondly, and followed. As they passed others he shouted the call to war to the various cultists, mutants, and traitors under his command. They responded in kind, having spent their lowly lives knowing they would fight and die in service to the Dark Gods.

    Nazarul smiled as he made his way to Captain Savran, commander of the Word Bearers’ mechanized infantry and armored cavalry. Hearing the calls of devotion to Chaos always elated him as little else did; he knew that the path of Chaos was Humanity’s only hope for survival, and moreover was the route to ultimate power. His visions of this world, bowed to mighty Chaos, had echoed those he had had of himself crowned as a Prince of the Warp. His greatest day was yet to come. But it would come, though this be but another step in the road to glory and the ultimate reward. He had seen it. And his vision had always been perfect.

    As his human followers scurried around him to the armories and slaves were whipped into mobs to be driven into the crucible of combat, through the sea of activity he could see his protégé wading through the crowd towards him. Captain Savran was a highly accomplished warrior, a fanatical devotee of the Cult of Lorgar, and an aspiring Apostle in his own right- his skill and passion were matched only by his ambition, and the day would come soon when he, too, took on the Crozius of an Apostle of Chaos. For now he acted as both the Coryphaus, the voice of the Legion, and the First Acolyte, chosen of the Apostle.

    A clumsy acolyte tripped and sprawled in front of the Captain, but the boot of his Terminator armor continued in its path regardless. The man screamed, and dragged himself through Savran’s receding fur-lined mail cloak, shattered, pulped legs sliding uselessly behind him. Sobbing, the man drew a small dagger; as his usefulness to the Gods was now compromised, he took his own life. Savran paid no heed.

    Savran nodded in deference to Nazarul, his topknot of dark hair swinging to the side but not obscuring his pale face. His blue eyes, cold like ice, locked directly onto those of his lord, his focus absolute.

    “I assume the enemy approaches?” he asked perfunctorily. His two hounds, warped by Chaos’ power, paced impatiently, mirroring their master’s inner feelings, though his face was impassive. One of the dogs brushed up against the greave of his armor; the runes blackened upon it made the creature yelp in pain. He gave it no sympathy, his attention solely on his mentor.

    “Yes, Captain. The time comes again for you to prove your merit; I have no doubt you will exceed all expectations,” the Apostle responded. “Our favor grows with each success; the birth-cry of this world as it is remade shall herald your reward. But first we must slaughter the interlopers. Are you ready to stand with me, again, in the name of holy Chaos?”

    “Unto death I serve you and the Gods, my lord,” said Savran solemnly.

    “Then go forth,” Nazarul intoned. “Mobilize your Marines and be prepared- we shall attack when the enemy is… softened up,” he finished with only a hint of mirth. The enemy would need to contend with waves of lesser creatures before the elite Chaos Space Marines would counterattack. Savran nodded smilingly, and turned away, swiftly affixing his bestial helm and testing the chainsaw combat attachment on his combi-bolter, which responded with a hungry and keening scream.

    Out by the walls, ranks of cultists and traitor troops took position behind the enchanted rock. Mobs of less disciplined creatures milled about, kept in line by the harsh commands of their masters. Word Bearers lay in quiet anticipation of the battle, some dug in on the small hills nearby with heavy weapons, others praying for victory and glory from within their Rhino transports. Several aspiring Apostles and members of the priesthood moved from squad to squad, giving counsel on matters of faith and stirring the war-spirit of their charges. Salazar was busy coordinating the Ritual of Summoning that would allow Savran and his Terminator command to strike with pinpoint accuracy and deadly effect. The daemonic engines of the Predators and Blessed Constructs hummed and growled. The Consecrated prepared to give way to their literal inner daemons. All was quiet, but the air was thick with anticipation.

    Nazarul rested his hand on his badge of office- his Accursed Crozius- reflexively. The daemon within the flail-like weapon responded in kind, a sort of ethereal growl that stirred the air around him yet resounded in Nazarul’s head alone at the same time. Regular reports from the perimeter patrols- made up of expendable cultists, naturally- had ceased not long ago. Augurs and Salazar’s séance had already detected the enemy’s advance. They believed they had the initiative, strength, and skill to overcome Chaos, to stand against its greatest servants.

    He would relish the opportunity to disarm them of their delusions. They would know the eternal might of Chaos, and would bow to the Supreme Powers or die.

    The instant Nazarul finished this thought, a cultist on the wall clutched his throat. Blood flowed freely from between his grasping fingers, and a low gurgle accompanied his slow descent to the ground. More cultists fell, but soon the silent sniper fire was succeeded by the crack of lasfire as Guardsmen in cameleoline fired from the shadows of the wooded groves.

    The men on the walls opened fire a few moments after the auto-senses from the Havocs in the hills helped the Chaos Space Marines find their own mark. Mutants and slaves charged forward in an unruly mass, their Word Bearer masters at the fore. Those Word Bearers not leading the advance stayed back, taking shots with their weapons as opportunity provided or simply waiting inside their transports.

    Now Sentinel walkers approached, chainsaw attachments tearing through the trees, multilasers and custom-fitted heavy bolters already firing. More Guardsmen appeared, advancing and laying down fire, digging into the undergrowth of the forest, taking shelter and firing positions among the contours of the land and craters from the Word Bearer’s Dreadclaws. The hail of fire took a heavy toll on the advancing horde; one well-aimed lascannon shot reduced a Word Bearer champion’s torso to a mess of slag, ruined flesh, and scorched innards.

    Unable to be restrained at this spilling of blood, the daemonic engines of the Word Bearers rushed forward, followed by bestial Consecrated. Predators tore into the woods with heavy bolter and havoc launcher; their turret autocannons ripped the Sentinels apart. The Defilers fired their cannons indiscriminately as they rushed the enemy, sometimes killing mutants, slaves, and cultists along with the enemy Guardsmen. The Possessed leapt forward with blinding speed, their only firepower in the occasional manifestation of a ball of flame as they ran.

    As if in response to the escalating conflict, the massive frames of Chimeras and Leman Russ battle tanks crashed through the woods, guns blazing. Chimeras quickly deposited reinforcements and zoomed around the field, taking shots of opportunity at every enemy in sight. Battle tanks tore apart whole squads of mutants and cultists. But there were always more.

    The mass of lowly scum and dregs of the Host had swept into the forefront of the enemy lines. Mutants turned their crude firearms into clubs and clogged the enemy’s fire lanes. The Champions who led them whirled through the melee, skills honed over ten thousand years of warfare proving their worth against the well-trained but inadequate planetary defense forces. The possessed, their forms bolstered with bursting daemonic energy, were even more terrible in their horrifying ferocity.

    Battle cannon shots began shattering the walls, sending rock, metal, and body parts flying in a fiery cataclysm. Defilers ripped Chimeras from their tracks even as the Blessed Constructs’ metal shells crumpled under the weight of fire aimed at them. Their daemonic inhabitants screamed as they were torn from the mortal realm they craved and sent to the Warp. A surviving Sentinel found its legs slashed form under it by a sweeping power sword; the pilot scrambled for his laspistol but too late; the Champion who had brought down the walker tore open the cockpit and threw the occupant into a mass of vicious mutants behind him. His screams sent a nearby squad fleeing, but a squad of particularly fast winged Possessed cut them down in equally grisly fashion.

    Now was the time to move in, thought Nazarul. He activated the vox-bead in his helmet.

    “Now, Brothers! Mount up and into the fray with you! For the Glory of Blessed Pandemonium!” he extolled. “Go forth and be sure of victory, for no infidel can stand against the servants of the True Power!” He switched his vox-network to a private channel with Salazar. “Sorcerer, prepare to begin the mass summoning. On my command, call forth the denizens of the Warp. Hold Savran and his command back until I say. Understood?”

    ‘Yes, my Lord,’ the Sorcerer responded telepathically.

    The Havocs and remaining Predators lay down cover fire as the Rhinos kicked into high gear. Smoke canisters fired at carefully planned intervals covered the zigzagging transports while still affording decent lines of fire from supporting units. Guardsmen were forced to dig themselves deeper into their positions under the fusillade of fire; one squad refused to cower and nailed a Rhino head-on with an autocannon shell. The pierced Rhino spun out, rolled, and crashed still twenty yards from enemy lines. Word Bearers dove out of the tank moments before it exploded, armor deflecting the heat and shrapnel as they rolled into perfect firing positions and made quick work of the offending squad.

    The Word Bearers charged out of their transports, which drove off and killed yet more Guardsmen with deadly combi-flamers. The Chaos Marines laid down fire as they zigged, zagged, dove, and sprinted to the enemy. Lasfire pitted and scorched the dark crimson paint on their armor, but had the effect of rain on steel. The ducking and weaving of the superhuman warriors, coupled with the disorienting effects of their Icons and compounded by the simple imperviousness of their armor, virtually neutralized the incoming fire. Rushing past the front lines, which were already embroiled in close quarters with heaving tides of mutants, the Marines crashed into the woods with fragmentation grenades flying, bolters roaring, chainswords screaming, and war-cries rising above the din of combat.

    Nazarul leapt into the air and turned his vox-system to a channel connected to the external voxes of his warriors and large speakers mounted on the backs of certain crippled, crawling mutants. His voice was amplified across the field as he spoke. Lasgun fire sizzled around him but found no mark.

    “Fools! You dare stand against us? Chaos cannot be denied! It is essential to life; without It, we are nothing!” The voice of a being who made his life inspiring and intimidating others assailed the ears of men who had never known one with a tenth the force of his personality. “You serve nothing but a rotting corpse; you think your Emperor to be a god? Pah! We, too, once worshipped your master,” spat Nazarul, the bitterness of ten thousand years turning his words into flying daggers, “but he spurned us. Us! We were the most loyal of his sons; we begat the cursed cult that surrounds the wretched creature!” He paused, relishing the fear and uncertainty that he could veritably smell following his words. “See us, and tremble, mortals! For we, as devoted as we were to that fool, now burn with the light of Chaos! How can you not submit to the will of the mighty Gods when even we, in all our mighty stature and false faith, were forced to bow before Their glory?”

    Even at this minimal act of defamation, some of the Guardsmen began to falter. Some ran, and were shot down by their more devoted comrades. Some fought amongst themselves, choosing mutiny and desertion over the farce the Apostle had revealed their service to be. Others, full squads corrupted by the agents of the Apostle, howled their praise to the Gods and fell on their shocked fellows.

    But there were always more Guardsmen, it seemed. They had come in a flood, and Nazarul’s force would be overrun, his great work undone, before long.
    Rules - CSM - BA - LatD (when I find my notes)
    Stories - Perish the Weak - Brothers in Chaos - The Baron Rises

  2. #2
    Chapter Master Imperialis_Dominatus's Avatar
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    Re: Brothers in Chaos

    *Part two, too long.*

    That is, if he did not play his hand now.

    “Feel the might of Chaos!” he cried, and the planet trembled in fear. Sweeping his Crozius-flail in a wide arc over the battlefield, he gave Salazar his mental signal. Dark runes exploded off the ground, and terrible sounds filled the air. Booming drums, gibbering, howling, and millions of damned screams accompanied the immortal armies of the Immaterium as they clawed their way into the world.

    This new horror broke the sanity of almost the whole front line of Guardsmen. Fleeing, they died to the hungry claws and blades of emergent lithe Daemonettes, roaring Bloodletters, pustulent Plaguebearers, and vicious Furies. Though disciplined fire from further back tore into their forms, the creatures seemed to shrug off these hits without a scratch. A few fell; a Daemonette, pierced by a lasbolt, moaned as it did, making men, Marine, and mutant feel alive in unholy ways at the sound; the rest advanced hungrily.

    Alongside these new arrivals, the Word Bearer’s efforts took on a horrifying synergy. Word Bearers with melta weapons reduced mighty battle tanks to piles of slag; those with flamers burned Guardsmen and trees alike to indiscriminate ash. Daemons feasted on the blood of the hapless Guardsmen and grew stronger with every kill, solidifying their hold on this plane. The cultists, slaves, and mutants clogged both advance and retreat, providing meat shields to the more powerful Chaos Marines, and routed the enemy with their fanaticism and savagery.

    The time had come to tear the head from the flailing beast, and reap the spoils, thought Nazarul. Sweeping off over the battle line, he caught sight of a massive banner that could only signify the regimental command. He dove down, dodging easily the many slugs and lasbolts that shredded the air and foliage around him.

    “Now, Salazar! Send them to me,” he commanded, knowing the Sorcerer would sense his favor and devotion to the Warp like a blazing firestorm and home in on it.

    Back at the front lines, Salazar let loose a psychic blast that threw the enemy off their feet and gave him room to work. He sheathed his force sword. As his retinue of Consecrated kept the enemy back, he traced runes in the air with his fingers and mumbled words of power that still burned in his throat after ten millennia of use. Channeling the might of the Warp, he reached out to the two points in reality and drew them together, like corners of a sheet.

    Captain Savran felt the air around him chill and fill with something like static electricity. He might have felt the pull and caress of tentacled and fanged things in the Warp, had he not mastered keeping them back long ago. As it was, he only felt a pulling sensation and the impossible vision of the Warp that crept into the corners of his vision and-

    He was there. A squad of carapace-armored humans turned their fire on him, but he was already moving. His powerclaw destroyed a half-dozen stormtroopers in a hiss of bursting flesh and boiling blood. His hounds tore apart another three. His retinue followed suit. Soon he was reunited with his liege, and they advanced on the command squad menacingly.

    A pair of Imperial priests and several Guardsmen rushed them; combi-bolter fire cut them down in their first steps. Nazarul called a halt with a raised fist, and spread his arms and wings wide in mock greeting. The officer, a Colonel with steel-gray short-cropped hair and noble features, discharged a full laspistol power pack ineffectually against Nazarul’s helmeted face. He raised his ornate power sword in a defensive position; his Commissar stood ready to support or execute him, snarling grimly.

    “Come now, Colonel,” Nazarul said with warmth, none of which reached his eyes. “I come to you in good will. I seek only to enlighten you,” he focused his voice, and all the force of it, on the man. “Think of your men. They have only death in defeat.”

    “You cannot be sure of victory, heretic,” the man spat. “Why not kill us all, instead of bothering to attempt to corrupt us? You fear defeat; there are too many of us and the Emperor is at our side,” he finished. “Though I meet my death today, it will be well worth your own.”

    Apparently the man would take more convincing, thought Nazarul. He gathered himself inwardly, choosing force over subtlety.

    “I am hurt, Colonel,” the Apostle mocked. “You see me as a barbarian, a mindless slaughterer. No, I am so much more,” he continued as he advanced slowly to the Colonel.

    When he spoke again, his voice was flooded with a thousand more- it was a Voice, a whispering, screaming, solemn, depraved, hoarse, booming, rasping, clear, weeping, laughing crescendo of unholy power. His eyes blazed with a colorless and terrible light that rendered everything around him dim.

    “I am your dissent against an unjust, weak Imperium! I am your knowledge of your lot, and your hatred of it! I am your salvation from a life of futility and a death in ignominy! I am your path to power, glory, greatness! Join me- join Us,” his voice was causing the very trees to bend away, and the ground around him to blight; he could see the man’s mind breaking before the might of the Warp in his eyes, “and you shall know that you do not act in vain; not in the name of some filth-ridden corpse, mortal, but in the name of Gods who have, in truth, ruled this plane since your ancestors first clashed on that ball of rock known as Terra,” he was almost within the officer’s kill range, but the Colonel’s sword dipped and trembled.

    The Commissar raised his pistol and aimed it squarely at the officer’s head, but quicker than the eye could see, Nazarul drew his combi-melta and the heat blast from the ancient weapon vaporized the Commissar. Nazarul holstered the weapon and slowly pulled the sword from the officer’s nerveless fingers. The man fell to his knees, sobbing, unable to resist surrendering his will.

    “Weep not, my son. Join the path of the faithful,” the Apostle said paternally. “Surrender your will to ours, and baptize yourself in the blood of the False Emperor’s servants; ablute yourself of your sins in the glory of Chaos!” He raised his face to the sky and spread his arms at this benediction.

    The Colonel nodded shakily, and pulled a small vox-bead from beneath his greatcoat. Nazarul smiled, and beckoned encouragingly. The officer hesitated, gathered himself, and spoke.

    “Colonel Shaw to all units. Surrender immediately, and lay down your arms. I repeat, surrender immediately and unconditionally. Shaw out,” he finished, his voice even and commanding. Across the field, terrified Guardsmen submitted to the Word Bearers; the few dissenters were put down ruthlessly. The Colonel looked to Nazarul, his eyes filled fear. “I am yours.”

    “Excellent,” Nazarul grinned, then spun on his heel. The flying axe-head of his Crozius-flail cleaved the man’s head from his shoulders before he could blink. Nazarul spoke over the vox-system. “Our new charges have some repairs to do to our walls,” he declared. “Direct them to their labors; after all, idle hands are heresy’s workshop,” he finished, only half-ironically.

    Suddenly, he was knocked into a tree with stunning force. He whirled, instincts kicking in, but was knocked aside again. What in the Warp was going on?

    He caught himself, and turned to see one of the Anointed Terminators on his knees. His face contorted with pain. Finally, he keeled over and vomited up a seemingly endless stream of gore. As he fell, Nazarul caught sight of the triumphant figure- a slender, garishly clothed figure, its face contorting to form a figure from his past, bearing golden armor and a flaming sword-

    He forced it out of his mind, and switched the vox to broadcast.

    “Harlequins!”

    The figure was off again, leaving blurs and mirror images in its wake. Another Terminator fell, powerfist swinging uselessly, to its monofilament Kiss.

    A small object bounced amongst a squad of Storm Troopers, and immediately a hologram appeared of a dancing, swinging Harlequin. The Storm Troopers opened fire, but their shots passed through the image and amongst their own squad-mates. Nazarul forced himself to focus. Those grenades were the specialty of a leader-figure, a Shadowseer- if he could eliminate that threat the others might be vulnerable and taken piecemeal.

    Then he saw it gliding towards him. Images of damnation, mutation, spawndom, and death played across its robes, the ultimate fears of any Chaos champion. But he had long ago come to terms with the price of failure in his endeavors; the creature held no fear for him, even if the Anointed behind him, he could sense, were edging away from the alien. The Eldar beckoned to him mockingly. He swung his Crozius-flail in a figure eight of defense, moving toward his foe.

    Meanwhile, Savran battled a Harlequin, batting aside its keening blade with his combat attachment. He feinted with his powerclaw, knowing that the cumbersome weapon had little chance to land a hit on the agile xenos. But his retinue was not faring so well- other Harlequins were taking all their attention, to deadly effect. All around him, he could see the deceptive afterimages of passing Harlequins as they tore his allies and erstwhile enemies apart.

    Why were they attacking? Surely, the Harlequins didn’t intend to take on the entire army; even such skilled warriors could only handle so many foes, and he had heard no reports of attacks elsewhere over the vox. Why here?

    Then it hit him. They had struck where Nazarul had unwittingly isolated himself and his potential successor- far ahead of their own lines, they were juicy targets for the hateful Eldar. The aliens sought to do here what Nazarul had done to the Planetary Defense Force, to cut off the head so that the rest would flounder.

    He held off the enemy before him and focused his will on contacting Salazar. He needed support… even if it was from that vile serpent. The Enthraller was a selfish madman even among other Sorcerers, but it did not reduce his talents in daemonacy.

    ‘Salazar,’ he sent his thoughts to the Sorcerer, and felt the immediate response- insanity, contempt, spite, and jealousy. He suppressed the indignation he always felt in response, and focused on his message. ‘I… require your aid. My forces are being torn apart out here by these aliens. We… need support.’

    The Sorcerer’s reply was quick and brief.

    ‘You know my price, Captain. Who shall form the appeasement?’

    Internally revulsion and hatred welled up within Savran. Oh yes, there was a price, always a price. He knew that the Gods demanded a worthy sacrifice for such a ritual, but he also knew that Salazar relished the opportunity to weaken Savran and his command. The craven megalomaniac was jealous and petty about the privilege and honor Savran’s rank brought him, and loved little more than to find ways to gouge him, torment him, weaken him. He was a poor servant to his Legion.

    ‘I await, Captain,’ the Sorcerer sent a mocking barb into his mind.

    He had fought beside his men for ten millennia. Each one was handpicked from among only the best of the Champions in the Host; their devotion to the Dark Gods, skill at arms, and hatred of the False Emperor was exceeded perhaps only by his own and Nazarul’s. They were his brothers like few in the Legion were; to toss away their lives was a grave injustice outside the most dire of circumstances.

    But this was a dire circumstance if there ever was one. They would all die here if not for Salazar’s assistance; Savran’s contempt for the craven one did nothing to change that.

    ‘Very well,’ he sighed finally, and consigned one of his men to doom.

    Brother Calchyon, Anointed of the Word Bearers, parried the puny Eldar’s spear thrust with a casual flick of his armament. He waited for his foe to make a mistake, a misstep, an error, so he could splatter the alien’s body against the ground with his mace.

    Suddenly, he felt the power of the Warp filling him. Inside he rejoiced- the Gods had seen fit to aid him! His strength, already incredible, doubled and trebled. He swung, missed, and sent a tree flying. He reveled in his new raw power. Now was his time!

    His speed and strength overpowered the lithe but fragile Harlequin. Disdaining his weapons, he grabbed the xeno and ripped its head from its shoulders. Holding the remains high, he howled in triumph, allowing the alien blood to trickle to his lips.

    Then he felt the pain- so much pain, everywhere, and realized that everything was going terribly wrong. He felt himself rising into the air and filling with yet more dark energy. He screamed, a howl that combined his fading elation and new terror. Before he was torn apart by impossible forces, his eyes met Savran’s- giving the Captain a pang of guilt and a gaze into the hell he would face if he were to fail the Gods.

    The shower of blood, armor plates, gore, and gristle twisted, congealed, and gained mass that had not been there before. A massive, dark-skinned, scaled beast materialized; four legs ending in razor-sharp talons connected to a bulky, elongated body; from its rear a scorpion-like tail swung menacingly, dripping with venom; its muscular upper body sported bat like wings that flapped as it regarded its foes with a steely cyclopean gaze. It roared in rage and joy and bloodlust, falling upon the Harlequins who attacked it. The club in its right hand crushed one; the long tentacles of its left grabbed two more and squeezed the life out of them. It was a pinnacle of daemonic majesty that left even Savran humbled.

    He finally caught the Harlequin in his grip, crushing the life out of it with his powerclaw. Tossing the corpse aside, he rushed to the side of his master, who was struggling with a figure whose robes seemed to project the look in Calchyon’s eyes before he died, along with other things Savran dared not dwell on.

    The Shadowseer was blindingly quick, and her wickedly curved powersword was not their only worry- she was a potent psyker, and blasts of psychic energy, maddening sound, and images incomprehensible assailed them like a bombardment. She broke the neck of one of Savran’s hounds with a well-aimed kick.

    There was a deafening roar from behind them- not from the screaming daemon, who was gobbling down Harlequin corpses even as it battled more foes, but from the Black Abbot and a ragtag band of cultists.

    Most of the cultists were cut down quickly, but the Abbot, through sheer luck- or divine providence- managed to tear apart a trio of Harlequins with a sweep of his eviscerator. Their final cries of shock made him howl with glee. He rushed to join his master, chainsaw roaring.

    “Salazar! To me!” shouted Nazarul over the vox. It was now or never- the greatest warriors of the Host would stand here or die. The Sorcerer appeared suddenly beside him with the sound of a dozen slit throats in reality. He charged the Shadowseer, blasting a Harlequin out of the air with a blast from his hissing plasma pistol.

    The xeno witch was skilled- incredibly so. She held them at bay like wolves kept back with a torch. They couldn’t touch her, but she was at a standoff with the three Chaos Lords and the fanatical Abbot. The frustration on both sides was palpable.

    There had to be a way to force a slip, a fatal flaw, thought Savran. He had faced Harlequins before, only once, three centuries ago. Back to back with Nazarul, even then his mentor, they had fought off an ambush of four Harlequins. He had, at some point, tripped up a cultist, and one of the xenos had gone for the easy kill. Expecting this, he had torn it apart; the rest of the battle had been taking advantage of their then-imperfect formation. But there were no cultists to trip up now.

    The Harlequin flipped above and dove behind them, her thin sword drawing a shallow line down the Abbot’s back. He roared in pain, but the incredibly accurate cut had drawn a line down his spine- he flopped uselessly to the ground, tall headpiece flying off his head and revealing a bald, scarred scalp.

    As they turned to face her, Savran found himself alongside the Sorcerer. He curled his lip in contempt, but there was no mocking response from the Sorcerer- the Enthraller was focused entirely on the battle at hand and could not be bothered to pay heed to the thoughts of one he considered, in his heart of hearts, his inferior. Savran acted quickly. He timed his next follow-up swing with his powerclaw to cause the bulk of his leg armor to knock the conceited snake off-balance.

    Immediately, the Shadowseer acted, and dove to impale the Sorcerer. He gasped audibly as the blade pierced the warping images on his breastplate. The sword came out the back of his power pack, and the grotesque dragon’s-head vents sputtered, the constant flame they emitted as a by-product of Salazar’s sorcery interrupted.

    Now, as before, Savran was ready. He swung his powerclaw to obliterate the xeno scum, relishing her approaching death. But, in a final act of malice, Salazar grabbed the blade in his chest and threw her off of him and out of the way. The witch flew just out of his grasp.

    That damnable scum! Any self-respecting Word Bearer would gladly give his life in return to the deaths of the enemies of Chaos! To the end, Salazar had proven unworthy of the blessings of the Gods.

    The Shadowseer flipped gracefully, but her momentum was not her own. She landed awkwardly against a tree, tumbling to the ground. Savran lumbered forward, ready to resume the struggle. He wouldn’t reach her before she righted herself, and now her odds were twice as good as they had been. Under his breath he cursed Salazar’s name, and bade the Gods to roast his soul for Savran’s vengeance. She scrambled for her powersword…

    And then a dark shadow flew over his head. The Shadowseer tried to roll and avoid the blow, but the flying blade, blessed by the Gods and the skill of a master Apostle, plowed deeply into her torso. She screamed, a keening, blood curdling wail that ended in sobbing.

    Nazarul exerted all his will into the haft of his weapon; under his gauntlets, his knuckles whitened and his forearms shook with the strain. He willed the daemon bound in the blade to fight the soul slipping away and draw it into the blade. The witch’s soul would be his! His dark eyes blazed beneath his helm, locking on to the slits of the Harlequin’s mask. The twisting, convoluted images on the mask were slowly slowing down. Suddenly, he relaxed. It was his.

    “Your cowardly god shall not have his prize, deviant witch,” he hissed. He could sense her fear and shock. Before she could beg, he tore the Crozius’ blade out of her midsection, further mutilating the slender alien form. A scream, much like when the blade had entered her, could be sensed just on the edge of hearing, a thousand times more tragic than the first.
    Rules - CSM - BA - LatD (when I find my notes)
    Stories - Perish the Weak - Brothers in Chaos - The Baron Rises

  3. #3
    Chapter Master Imperialis_Dominatus's Avatar
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    Re: Brothers in Chaos

    *Part three. The limit on posts is 20k characters; I was at something like 40.1k. Meh.*

    Nazarul glorified in the victory for a moment, then turned to Captain Savran and the crippled Black Abbot. Savran’s eyes flicked to Salazar’s lifeless corpse, then back to his master. He was not sorry for the Sorcerer’s death, but knew that he had been a valuable asset.

    Nazarul followed his gaze momentarily, and then shrugged. He clapped his gauntlet on Savran’s shoulder guard.

    “I was actually about to do just as you did, Captain. But then he was out of my reach. Besides, the feint would not have been as easy to believe had it been I who did it- your armor’s bulk looks much more up to the task, especially to an Eldar. They see their frailty as a strength,” Nazarul said incredulously, shaking his head.

    He strode over to inspect the corpse of the Sorcerer.

    “Besides, this madman had to die soon anyway; he thought he could get away with playing with our minds simply because of some unwarranted self-importance. There are always those willing and able to take on the mantle of a Sorcerer, Savran,” and at this the Apostle gestured to a Consecrated, who had already greedily snatched up the force weapon that Salazar had borne, “but there are only a few, even among those who seek it, able to become an Apostle.

    “I knew what he was doing to you. I allowed him to use you for his spite to teach you, in ways little else but experience can, that sacrifice is part of our daily lives in service to the Lords of the Empyrean.”

    Savran nodded. He had suspected as much; though he had learned much from Nazarul, experience had compounded those lessons beyond what mere words could do. Nazarul kicked the corpse’s helm off contemptuously. Underneath was a horribly mutated, decrepit skull with too many eyes and a shrunken nose. The face was contorted with shock and the kind of horror only a servant of Chaos bears on his way to the grave- the descent into damnation was not for the faint of heart.

    “Look at him, Savran. The fool thought he would live forever,” Nazarul spat. He looked at his Captain again. “I am pleased that you brought his death about, Captain. You now know that, though we must make sacrifice to the mighty Gods, these sacrifices can be to our own benefit. Remember that, and never, ever hesitate to use it.”

    “I will not forget, master. It is liberating to have that serpent out of the way, and it did kill two birds with one proverbial stone,” he smiled coldly and gestured to the broken corpse of the Shadowseer. The two laughed together, elated in victory and the ties of brotherhood that had seen them fighting side-by-side since the Heresy.

    Their laughter was cut short, as a triumphant roar echoed through the forest. The daemon had caught the last Harlequin, and it congratulated itself on a battle well fought and a meal earned. Nazarul spoke over the vox.

    “All praises! The enemy is defeated, and we have earned glory this day!” There was celebratory chatter over the vox; he allowed it to subside before speaking again. “But there is yet work to be done. The armories must be restocked with the wargear of the fallen. Their bodies must be brought to the pyres. We shall toil through the night, and at dawn bear the fruits of our labors- a world reborn in Chaos!” He motioned several cultists to assist the Abbot, and turned to Savran, who nodded.

    Bloodied yet triumphant, the Lords of the Host made their way back to the Basilica with the remnants of the Anointed. Leaving Salazar’s corpse to rot, they expounded the truth of Chaos to their new subjects, and the next day a new world was born: Persephone III, the Daemon World. In the eyes of the Gods, the Word Bearers had won great glory, and surely more would be won by these eternal brothers in Chaos.
    Rules - CSM - BA - LatD (when I find my notes)
    Stories - Perish the Weak - Brothers in Chaos - The Baron Rises

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