‘Thank you, my lord!’ He called, drawing the sword into the bubble of protective force that surrounded him and fastening the scabbard to his belt.
‘It has been an honour! I am humbled…’
The Lion held up a hand and shook his head. The corners of his mouth turned upwards in the beginnings of a smile.
‘No need, Prophet! You have my thanks for all that you have done for me and my brothers! Until the past draws us together again, live well!’
Jonson turned away then, his eyes finding the Dragon’s flailing form. Codian started forward, one hand outstretched.
‘My lord, wait…’
‘I know, Prophet!’ Jonson called back, his fists balled in readiness to meet his fate. ‘Tell Astelan this! What is done, is done! His Primarch understands! Ave Imperator! Ave Caliban!’
Jonson lowered his head and drove his heels into the ground. A heartbeat later he became a blur, a line of fluid colour drawn between his last position and the coruscating deluge of power bleeding from the Dragon’s dying form. There followed a blinding flash of light and a thunderclap of deep, percussive sound. Codian felt the death in his soul. He gasped at it, all that he was reeling in the face of the demise of one so legendary and great.
For the rest of his life, the memory of that moment would forever dominate his thoughts. One moment the Lion existed, the next he was gone. Had the Dragon killed him by any deliberate physical effort then that death would have little affected him, but the Emperor in His wisdom had wrought his sons from the primal stuff of the aether. Like the Phoenix Lords, the Primarchs were as far from simple flesh and bone as any living being in existence. Like the Phoenix Lords, they had not been born but created, and created to be the greatest weapons ever to face the C’tan. In death, dashed against and consumed by the escaping stuff of the Star God, they were utterly lethal, more so than they could ever have been in life.
The Dragon sensed what was happening to him too late to prevent it. He roared and thrashed like a wild beast, using every ounce of his will and mastery of the physical realm in an attempt to try and prevent his own doom. He threw barriers of physical force in every direction around him, waves of concussive energy that pushed everything away with near irresistible force. The walls of the chamber crumbled and became dust as they were banished, compressed by his will into drifts of pulverised dust. Bodies of every description were compacted together with force enough to render them unrecognisable, but still the Primarchs bore on.
Ferrus Manus and Vulkan dug their heels into the retreating ground and pressed on, the very surface of their armoured bodies beginning to peel and flake away in the wake of the assault. the two brothers linked arms and weathered the storm, side by side, unstoppable in their advance. Dorn and Russ swiftly joined them in their efforts and thus the pace of their advance was increased. All the while the Dragon fought to keep them at bay but he could not, no matter his best efforts. Slowly but surely he was weakening, his condition made terminal by the deaths of both the Phoenix Lords and the Lion.
Of the Phoenix Lords, only Fuegan had survived thus and now the Eldar joined the Primarchs, adding his own supernatural strength to their efforts. Soon the Dragon began to realise that he could not stop the Primarchs in this way and desperation consumed him. He dismissed the buffeting waves of crushing force and instead lunged forward, intent on engaging his enemies physically.
Manus and Vulkan thundered forth to meet him, twin behemoths of physical power. The Dragon brought his fists down to smash them upon the Primarchs but both held firm, catching the descending fists and shouldering their weight. Russ bounded forward and slammed his shoulder into the Dragon’s other shin, fighting to overbalance him. The Khan let out a blood-curdling war cry, crouched low and then sprang up, his leap carrying him through the air and onto the Star God’s silver shoulders.
Fuegan sprinted from left to right, drawing ragged lines of glowing damage across the C’tan’s body as Dorn sprinted into the fray in an attempt to add his own weight to Russ’s efforts. Together the two brothers heaved with all their might, fighting to topple the colossus. Beyond them all Magnus fought his own war, using his vast psychic potential to further destabilise and widen the breach made in the necrodermis of the Star God.
Something monumental and catastrophic was happening, Codian could sense that much. Something had begun that could not be brought to an end. As Magnus tore at the ever-widening breach, the Dragon shuddered and began to quake, as if losing control of his own functions. The blazing light that spilled from him was now alive with glittering stars, a maelstrom of tiny constellations that swirled and eddied as if alive, for in truth they were in a sense. These were the souls that had resided within the ancient armour of the Phoenix Lords, these and many, many more. These were the souls of the Eldar dead, and with the passing of each moment that tally was added to. The Eldar were still dying in droves all across Terra and as each unseen death came to pass, the soul-storm increased.
Codian felt the psychic pressure around him increase as Qah enveloped him all the tighter, no doubt sensing that same build-up of power.
Finally, the Void Dragon fell. His silvered form crashed into the ground with an earth-shattering thud, his weight throwing up a cloud of dust and debris about him. The Khan continued to assail his face and neck with vicious stabs and slashes from his tulwar and now that the Dragon had fallen the others set upon him, raining down punches and kicks and slashes of their own
All around them the world continued to implode. Bodies spilled and flowed like storm tides everywhere Codian looked. He saw Orks and Tau alike crash into a sea of Necrons at the very furthest reaches of the chamber, where the obscene forces that had been unleashed had dislodged millions if tons of rubble and thus created a colossal ramp deep into the mountainside. Flying craft of every faction and description choked the skies above, exchanging vast lattice works of deadly fire. Burning bodies rained from above and blood flowed ankle deep around him.
This was hell, he knew that. This was the apocalypse. This was the end.
Mighty Ferrus Manus gave out a mechanical roar of anger and frustration as he was hoisted high into the air, enveloped by the Dragon’s vast talons. Codian caught sight of the exchange just in time. There followed a flash of emerald and a vast blurred shape landed upon the Dragon’s wrist. Vulkan raised his hammer and smashed it down upon the Dragon’s metal flesh with force enough to all but sever the limb. The tortured necrodermis swam and flexed as it fought to counter the damage and this was enough to see manus released. The father of the Iron Hands fell from the Star God’s grasp and landed before the energy bleed. Without pause or consideration Manus lowered his silvered head, thrust his metal hands forth and stepped into the breach. The soul-storm swam around him, almost as if to welcome him. The energy flared all the more brighter, if only for a brief moment, and Ferrus Manus was utterly consumed.
The Dragon gave out a cry of pain and desperation that shivered the very air. Codian felt the outburst hit him even despite the protection of Qah. It was like being punched at the molecular level. It blurred his vision and agitated every fibre of his being. He caught sight of both Vulkan and Dorn as they forged their way towards the breach, a struggling, writhing Magog held fast in their shared embrace. Thunder assailed his ears and an immense psychic pressure compacted his skull. It took him several moments to realise that this pressure was the psychic voice of Magnus, omnipresent and undeniable in its power as he prayed, repeating the same line over and over again.
Receive them, my father. Receive their souls. Receive them, my father…
It came then in an instant. There was no sound and yet it was deafening, no light and yet it blinded him. He could see or hear nothing in that instant and yet he knew that everything had changed in one swift, violent and utterly legendary moment. It was a death scream so absolutely immeasurable in its scale that his senses could simply not comprehend it. Everything was of the purest white, as if reality itself had been scoured away in an instant. The silence was deafening, heavy and suffocating. It was as if he had simply ceased to exist.
‘Is it over? Is it done?’
His voice echoed infinitely, the only sound to exist anywhere in this new and desolate realm. He did not truly know whether he had survived the conflict or if this was the limbo that followed the death of the physical form.
‘Qah? Speak to me, Old One. What has happened here? Has the Void Dragon fallen?’
Again, his questions were met only with silence save for the sound of his own echo. He felt frustration beginning to rise within him at this newfound isolation. Only after a few long, tense moments did a familiar voice once again invade his thoughts, and when it did it seemed to come from some incredible, immeasurable distance, as if Qah himself were somehow far away and on the verge of oblivion.
It is done, Codian. Dr’ochtyr is no more. The Void Dragon is destroyed.