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Golden Throne Now With 100% More Additions 2014-08-25T12:48:29+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/feed.php?f=17 2014-08-25T12:48:29+00:00 2014-08-25T12:48:29+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13702&p=328811#p328811 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Founding a chapter]]>

I'd also suggest trying some short stories first, to practice your skills and get better at cutting back the waffle and getting right to the exciting stuff (something I have a problem with too). - its aimed at comics, but its good advice for action stories in general. Remember, longer does not equal better. I REPEAT! LONGER DOES NOT EQUAL BETTER! You'll learn more doing more short stories than one ponderous epic, and you'll get more done.

If you're serious about becoming a novelist, do your own stuff too. Even if its a rip-off of Warhammer, you'll still have more creative control and you'll be more likely to be able to make actual cash off it. I'd say do that more than Games Workshop material, but if bolterporn is what you're heart is set upon do it. But write every day, or very nearly every day. Set a time and do it. Consider getting or a free equivalent if you don't think you have the discipline to do it by yourself and not get distracted. Writing can be great fun, but its often a tedious business and it does take practice and discipline to get going. I struggle with this too. But if you want to do this as a job, treat it like a job.

If you haven't written in a while, your first stories will probably be terrible. That's normal. Get someone to read through it, point out what works and what doesn't. Be accepting of criticism (much harder than it sounds). When every word is a stuggle to get out, its much easier to take "It's perfect, change nothing" or "I like such-and-such bit" to heart even if they aren't terribly helpful critiques. Even "it's crap and I hate you for subjecting me to this" can be better, particularly if you can get out WHY they hate it. Be prepared to kill you Darlings. EDIT.

http://firstfridaywordsmiths.tumblr.com ... on-writing

edit: and for the love of God don't do that terrible online-fanfiction "faux script" thing.
"You mean where every line is basically one person talking to another, with a short piece of prose at the beginning and the end to set the scene?"
"Why yes I do, completely indistinguishable character voice." he exclaimed "Its a crutch for crap writers who can't or won't write prose!"
"Even actual scripts for TV, film and comics don't generally do that!"

edit2: I'm not trying to poop on your parade, by the way, just ranting about words.
edit3: Feel free to distract me on Steam or whatever! I'm only trawling for Anne Boelynn quotes right now.

Statistics: Posted by Mordred — Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:48 pm

2014-08-25T10:01:39+00:00 2014-08-25T10:01:39+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13702&p=328810#p328810 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Founding a chapter]]>
You've got the potential for some really good disgruntlement at the top; I like the fact that the three commanding officers are from three different chapters with different experiences, you've got the beginnings of either a slow burn towards trust or a gradual slide into outright conflict. Your Chapter Master fulfils the obligatory "good man, heavily burdened" role, your Chief Librarian is your "potential weak link" as he was evidently too "nice" to be included in whatever shenanigans led to the dissolution of his old chapter, with him I'd also be inclined to play the naïveté card and have him as the "peon, who missed all the signs" archetype, possibly with a healthy degree of resultant paranoia, which could put him at odds with your Chaplain (especially if your Chaplain is particularly hidebound to a quixotic interpretation of Imperial Creed). In regards to the Chaplain, I'd be tempted to go the "palmed off" route making him so much of a nuisance to his old chapter, that his superior "bestowed him this great honour" to get rid of him, thus giving him some tasty negativity. It's also good to see you've included a viper in the nest, in the form of the "slighted" 2nd Captain, and a good mix of secondary characters.

That being said, I'd be careful of having too many obvious stereotypes (the Scout Sergeant, and Astropath in particular), unless you intend to play against people's expectations - The inherent risk with using stereotypes is falling into formulaic traps, especially if you don't furnish them with added dimensions. Take your Chief Librarian: His first dimension is being held back for promotion (why was he held back, is it linked to the chapter's demise?), your second dimension is the dissolution of his chapter (did they simply dwindle, were they destroyed, were they corrupted?), your additional dimensions would link to the interplay between these, and how they affect his character and actions as a result - Was he simply too much of an unimaginative drone, blindly loyal to the Imperial Creed, not perspicacious enough to see the trouble brewing in his own chapter (and therefore too much of an unthinking peon to be a threat) and too dull-witted to be of use to the burgeoning conspiracy, does this make him a paranoid man, all-too-aware of his own intellectual failings, sweating fearful that others will come to know them (obviously through the lens of Astartes' particular brand of non-fear), desperate to stamp his new found authority and play his bestowed power to its fullest, is he alone, or does he have a crony or cronies exploiting this?

On the flip side, you've got some really good seminal ideas in there - The need to establish trade agreements is particularly interesting, as this has never really been covered in any great depth. You've got the makings of an excellent, "ends vs. needs" arrangement, particularly when set against the Astartes as supposed pillars of the Imperium (and supposedly independent supermen, reliant on no-one). I'd be inclined to have your first story actually centring on this dichotomy, maybe set against the backdrop of a major campaign (providing your obligatory bolter porn), whereby your Astartes in their need/desperation for steady supplies are backed into a corner by clever bureaucrats, having to perform a range of (potentially demeaning or highly dangerous) roles in order to secure trade agreements, or through their actions in trying to navigate the vagaries of Imperial trade, uncovering a system-wide scam. You might actually have their entire founding predicated on this premise, as perhaps they were being used as unwitting Inquisitorial shills - A chapter at founding with limited resources, no "stature" to worry about, and the Astartes caring little for the intricacies of Imperial trade (and thus being largely ignorant of it), already in prime position to be exploited; an opportunity too good to pass up for potential scammers and the perfect lure for an Inquisitorial sting. The end result (and kick in the teeth for your heroes) could be, that once the dust has settled and the Inquisition have got what they want, they just hand the Chapter Master the agreements and authorities, "just like that".

Statistics: Posted by Marquis — Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:01 am

2014-08-14T23:09:59+00:00 2014-08-14T23:09:59+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13702&p=328762#p328762 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Founding a chapter]]>
All looks good though! :D

Statistics: Posted by Dan — Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:09 pm

2014-08-12T10:27:08+00:00 2014-08-12T10:27:08+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13702&p=328733#p328733 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Founding a chapter]]>
My ruminations, thus far:
- A scant few (~200) marines pulled together from destroyed/missing/censured chapters form the starting block
- Gene-seed stockpile provided by the administratum, apparently of Ultramarines stock, but no confirmation of origin
- Gene-seed, fleet assets, relics of former chapters, hardware and proscribed copy of the Codex Astartes guarded by representatives of X chapter to ensure defence in early years and to guide growth of new founding
- Chapter planet assigned based on recently rediscovered human world/system at apex of a calm warp-transit corridor, under threat from several alien presences
- Chapter planet is barely civilised pre-imperial world, think late medieval or renaissance level culture but with sci-fi trappings. Individual warring city-states provide political turmoil the new founding has to quell and recruiting ground from warrior lodges

- Chapter master, a veteran and former captain of another chapter, given the responsibility to craft a chapter in his mentor's image
- Chief Librarian, a psyker of some power, discouraged from further promotion in his home chapter before its dissolution
- First Chaplain, a veteran of a third abandoned chapter at odds with the prior two chaps, despite his convictions/duty
- Techmarine dude, not a veteran nor an experienced Master Of The Forge, trying his hardest despite not having the jib for it
- Prime Apothecary, an astartes doctor with depression, hates having the burden of testing duties and rites of passing
- First Captain, compatriot and prior brother to the Chapter Master, sidekick, bro, reliable, but possibly under censure for failings of prior chapter
- Second captain, possibly more experienced survivor of the same chapter as Chief Librarian, has a bee in his bonnet about not being 1st captain and the direction of founding (possible henchman of Chaplain)
- Scout Captain, gnarled old cyborg bastard with a million and one stories and a short temper, given the most responsibility for bashing the new recruits into shape and adhering to the Codex
- Various Sergeants, subordinate officers to the Librarius, Armoury and Chaplaincy, a few Veteran brothers from the abandoned forebears trying to work together in new squads in the fledgling first company
- Fleet Admiral, a non-astartes ex-navy captain given command of the chapters few strike cruisers and support vessels
- Administratum operative, combat trained turbo-bureaucrat assigned to manage the founding process (bit of a choad)
- Astropath, classic tortured psyker woman
- King Such-And-Such, de facto ruler of chapter planet, not entirely happy with being subordinated to a demi-god, trying to convince populace the presence of the marines is his work and to his benefit
- Killer Amazon Lady, a survivor of the planets many recent wars who coordinates the recruitment of astartes aspirants from the local populace, earns serious cred from Chapter Master, he wishes she was male so she could've been recruited/adapted herself
- Various further functionaries, bureaucrats, visitors, salesmen, antagonists, petitioners, Rogue Traders, etc as plot demands

- Needs some good, honest to god-emprah bolter porn against some classic antagonist (orks? chaos cult?) at some stage
- Drama and hidden conspiracy between Chapter Master, First Chaplain and Second Captain throughout
- Lower ranking brethren taking out their frustrations on their opposite numbers from different contributing chapters
- Lack of supplies, materials and equipment due to paperwork or logistical cock-ups (not enough bolters! Too few tanks!)
- Have to fight wars carefully and in a supporting role due to small numbers and lack of firepower, causes problems with guard allies and/or sector commanders who expected full-force astartes day-saving action
- Local government hostile to being taken over by imperial forces despite treaties and astartes presence, threat of civil unrest
- Other chapters looking down their mk.6 beaky helmet noses at the new kids on the block with no history or honour roll yet
- Setting up of shady deals to establish supplies of counterfeit kit in lieu of full mechanicum support
- They've only got a squad's worth of terminator armour between them, and their pair/trio of inherited dreadnoughts are broken, empty or spastic and therefore unusable

So... thoughts?
Am I missing anything glaringly obvious? Is there more I should add? Something I should lose? What sounds like fan-wank? What sounds too far fetched, or not far fetched enough, for the 41st millenium?

Statistics: Posted by General Misdemeanour — Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:27 am

2014-08-11T10:05:47+00:00 2014-08-11T10:05:47+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13702&p=328723#p328723 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Founding a chapter]]> Statistics: Posted by Dan — Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:05 am

2014-08-10T22:32:08+00:00 2014-08-10T22:32:08+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13702&p=328720#p328720 <![CDATA[Fiction • Founding a chapter]]>
Been mulling over some ideas for appealing stories, mainly centred around some long suffering imperial guardsmen, seeing as the "easy-in" to Black Library publishing seems to be contained, small, one-off IG novels (15 Hours, Cadian Blood, Ice Guard, Dead Men Walking, etc). However, during a hot, humid, sleepless night recently, I was trying to recall any fiction about the foundation of a Space Marine chapter. I know there's plenty of material about how and when new chapters are founded, using gene-seed tithes from existing and reliable chapters, so on, but has there been any actual novelisations of the process?

I haven't read the Iron Snakes or Soul Drinkers series, for instance, or any of the apparently lamentable Blood Ravens novels, but I have chewed through other good astartes fiction like the Ultramarines omnibi, Salamanders Tome of Fire, Heroes of the Space Marines, Rynn's World, the Night Lords trilogy and of course, all of the Horus Heresy to date.

Anyone fancy informing me of any gaps in my reading list, or assisting in creating the fiction behind a new founding chapter?

I think the founding of chapter has great potential for a different kind of drama and story telling in the universe - you don't see so many stories of marines fighting with limited supplies, waiting on their deliveries from forge worlds, having to negotiate contracts with worlds and institutions across the imperium to establish their bases, fleets and training programmes, having arguments between the original officers and command structure of the fledgling companies about the course of their growth, interactions with the local populace and aspirants on their recruiting worlds, etc.

Nothing solid yet in terms of names, characters, events, sequence or anything, I just think it's a solid concept worthy of working on.

Statistics: Posted by General Misdemeanour — Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:32 pm

2013-11-12T10:24:55+00:00 2013-11-12T10:24:55+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13599&p=327273#p327273 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: My Space Marine fiction JUS IN BELLO]]> PART 2
Terminator boarding action

A flickering blue and white light built in the middle of the compartment before obscuring all from view and dissipating outward in a shower of forked lightning. A boom of overpressure expanded and rebounded from the bulkheads tossing loose items about as though the very air was corrupt and repelled from contact with the five hulking suits of blessed Terminator armour that had materialized.
An immediate burst of cannon fire thundered out, the high velocity shells travelling down the six rotating barrels and into the chests of two stunned hulking brutes, blasting them open in a spray of gore and sending them into the bulkhead in a sprawl of claws and other less easily identifiable limbs.
Another Terminator strode outward from the circle formation they had deployed in and in a flurry dispatched another mutant. Its screams and howls were quickly cut off as the veteran assault specialist put his twin lightning claws to their intended purpose, blood sizzling on the energized blades. The corpse tumbled backward and crushed a control console in a fizz of sparks.
“Secure front.”
“Secure rear.”
“Secure flank one.”
“Secure flank two.”
The reports came into Sergeant Lucas’ earpiece, the pict-displays from his team’s helmet-cams overlapping into his retinal display thanks to the techno mysteries of Mars. The sensation was an unusual one and required specialist training and only the bio-engineered mind of a super man could cope with several different views at once.
“Position is secure” he acknowledged and confirmed. The well-rehearsed gun drills that were the cornerstone of any effective combat unit focused his mind.
“For the Emperor, who delivered us to this place, at a time to do his work.” Lucas mouthed a silent prayer of gratitude to Lion El’Jonson for their safe teleportation. Despite this being his thirty-seventh combat teleport deployment, that split second of travelling between dimensions, filled with things that should only be in a man’s darkest nightmares still unsettled him. That fleeting contact with sense of pure ‘wrong’, predatory intelligences whipping round to try and snatch you away. Sometimes a split second could last far too long.
“Lucas to Last Judgment, phase 1 complete”
The brief violence concluded for now, Lucas assessed the area they found themselves in. His armour stated to feed him waypoints on his eye lenses to the objective as well as ancillary environmental data. It was all assimilated in heartbeats. He didn’t wear the coveted Crux Terminatus badge for nothing.
They had arrived in what appeared to have been the vessels stellar cartography and navigation room.
Several view screens several feet in size occupied the walls, one now rent and smashed where the shells from the assault cannon had continued through the target. Two of the screens still worked, throwing a speckled light from images of constellations around the compartment and across the boarding party. The only other illumination came from two strip lights in the deck head which waxed and waned a red ambiance about in time to the general battle alarm.
A servitor was slumped over at the waist in one corner. Its left arm had been replaced by an array of data connectors that were plugged into an access panel. Lucas almost dismissed it as a ricochet casualty until he noticed the chunk missing from its neck had been caused by misshapen jaws. It would have just stood there as it became the beast’s meal, the primitive intelligence the lobotomized servant had been left with unable to comprehend or defend itself.
Two entry points seen he appended to the armour mission log.
One class two blast door, shut, and a ventilation duct in wall to squad rear. Although only a foot square, the duct definitely qualified as an access point to be controlled, especially to someone who had seen alien Ripper swarms pour out and devour people from such an opening.
“Well I know which one we will be leaving by out of here” quipped Veteran Bondes off to Lucas right. The last vestiges of smoke were dissipating from the squad support weapon on his right arm. His armour rippled as the powered servos tried and failed to match his movements as he chuckled.
“Maintain net discipline” Lucas replied, brushing over the remark with a quiet admonishment. “Anyone mind finding the doors locking mechanism?”
“I get the feeling it was integrated into that workstation there Sergeant.” The other point guard said, gesturing to the sparking console covered in chunks of crew with the oversized digit of his powerfist, with the enhanced chainblade attachment idling away underneath.
“Well spotted Lushik, and as a reward you can cut us through the bulkhead door.” Lucas pointed to either side of the large metal hatch set in the middle of the door to their front. “Standard beach pattern, stack up.”
The door was made up from two thick steel halves that joined in the middle vertically with interconnecting teeth. A thick coating of grime, old seeped oil and other, less identifiable substances smeared it.
All the Terminators in the Star Judge chapter wore their helmets when they deployed as a standing order, and were a mix of standard pattern and crusader pattern on the assault specialists, the hard angles and smaller eye lenses being better at deflecting close range fire. Aside from the extra protection from ballistics, there was always the possibility of a stray round causing explosions or de-pressurisation. The extra seconds afforded by not being forced to suck on vacuum or ignited gases could make all the difference. And, as Lucas thought wryly, saved them from Emperor knows what smells of a mutant accommodation space.
The door was just too narrow for two Terminators to stand abreast, being designed for non-augmented humans. Lushik stepped up first and moved to the left side of the door, placed his back to the door and his left arm raised against its right hand portion. Boreas stood in his lee, ready to swing his assault cannon into the gap as the breach widened. Lucas and the two remaining Terminators stacked up in a ‘V’ behind them. In the event of serious resistance on the other side, Boreas would spray the compartment or corridor with heavy-calibre death whilst Lushik finished the job, before clearing out the way for the rest to rush the breach. Anyone trying to counter assault the door would be in for a nasty and messy surprise meeting a Terminator swinging a thunder hammer coming the other way. These drills were practiced endlessly by the veterans, whole shipboard sections turned across to modular and reconfigurable scenarios for live-fire exercises. Lucas once again reflected on the wisdom of such flexible mixed squad load-outs that were the doctrine of the Star Judges and others of First Legion heritage. With the primary role of the 1st Company being as critical and sensitive as the defeat and capture of their Fallen kin, chances could not be taken by not allowing squad commanders and members the chance to bring the necessary wargear.
A fountain of bright yellow and orange sparks sprayed the deck plating marked Lushik’s efforts, the adamantium teeth skimming the metal before finding purchase and biting deep, tearing their way across, a scream of tortured metal and motor-whine mixing together in a cacophony of wrecking. Chainfists were not subtle weapons, and were often put to use against enemy war machines and vehicles. The effect when used on enemy infantry was potent to say the least.
The doorway edges were still scalding and faintly glowing in places as the first portion of door was freed from its surrounds and clanged against the deck. Immediately Bondes was on station, his assault cannon barrel cycled up and poking through like a hound on the hunt. Only a small squeeze of his finger unleash hell.
Bondes had his optical feed drawing from the gun camera autosenses mounted above the barrels.
He panned the barrel left to right, switching to thermal imaging then panning back. “No targets in sight, all bands Sergeant.” The door led onto a passageway that carried on straight for a dozen yards before following the curve of the hull to the right. A diffuse red light rose and fell from domed bulbs in the deck head, giving a bloody aura to the grey painted steel in time to a low plaintive wailing siren sounding the alert.
The real life counterparts to the stars projected inside the compartment shone hard and bright through round armoured portholes on the outer bulkhead, one of which was iced over from escaping atmosphere on another deck blowing into the void and freezing.
The noise of the remaining hatch component coming to lie next to its twin was counter pointed by a violent tremor and sounds of far off explosions.
Lucas’ earpiece, distorted and grainy from interference, came alive with the voice of Techmarine Ventus. “Last Judgement to Sergeant Lucas.”
“Lucas here” he acknowledged.”
“Remaining major armaments on target vessel have been neutralised and engine maximum capacity are scanning as below escape requirement. Orders from the Judge-Captain; Proceed with mission. Command approval given. Judge well.”
Lucas switched to the squad vox-net. “Continue on to first objective, environmental support centre. Take the fight to them brothers!”
As the Terminators advanced, their heavy footfalls sounded a slow and overlapping beat, a percussive pounding like an artillery barrage heard from under water.
Bright ruby beams stabbed out from round the corner, stitching a pattern along the outer bulkhead in a series of smoldering blackened scorches.
A lone mutant crewman ran headlong round the corner, a maddened look in his several eyes and firing a pair of las-pistols outstretched on full auto. He was covered in a thick black fur, matted with blood both old and new. One leg ended in a cloven hoof with the other in a dilapidated boot, lending it a strange gait and an odd percussion to its footsteps. The beast’s aim was wild, it’s keening wail dampened by the Terminator armour’s audio recievers. The mutant’s charge was rash and Lucas was on guard. “Hold fire, engaging.” Lucas broke forward, several las shots zeroing in on him and raising flashes from the storm shield’s energy shroud. They closed the distance in lumbering strides, five metres, two metres, one. The mutant saw its doom bearing down, itself already overcommitted. The momentary look of fear that surfaced in its expression was sunk beneath the tide of insanity and hate that filled the creature and it came on at Lucas. Lucas’ arm punched out. The solid cruciform storm shield rammed into the beast’s sternum lifting it high into the air and reversing its direction of travel instantly. Lucas both heard and felt the ribs cave under his attack, and was amazed to see it was still alive as it came to rest several metres away, utterly broken in a sprawled stuttering mess. A hit like that would have caused serious problems for an Astartes. Lucas stood over the creature as it coughed and spat dark globules of blood laced spittle through too many pointed teeth.
Lucas switched to external address “One charge of mutation, one charge of direct assault on the Emperor’s forces, you are judged guilty. Sentence is death. Do you have anything to say?” The renegade just continued to gargle away it’s remaining seconds, and even those were to be confiscated. “So noted.” Lucas concluded as his boot came up and down again with a crunch.
Lucas’ gaze caught on a crude pewter pendant now lying on the deck next to the body. Wire twisted into a crude band held soldered shapes of a human hand grasping a tentacle in a debased recreation of the wrist-to-wrist clasp used by brothers and warriors for ages past.
Lucas pict captured an image and amended it to the mission log. “Deviant symbol found on executed subject, may be of significance.” Lucas ground it into flat scrap and the team moved on. As they cleared more of the corridor’s curve an intersection came into view. Passageways branched off to the left and away at a hard angle to the right leading inboard. A flight of wide steps led to decks above and below in front of them. To the left the passageway would continue on toward the bow and down that way Lucas could make out a dozen distant figures battling back a wall of flames with hoses. Lucas knew that way led to the fore ends gunnery decks, out of service due to the predations of Star Judge Thunderhawk gunships.
“Brother Rosbun; disable that hydrant point.” Lucas ordered.
“Aye Sergeant.” The Terminator turned and raised his storm bolter, sighting in on the wall mounted connection. His storm bolter barked, sending a pair of contrails cracking down the corridor and slamming into the control valves. Shrapnel whickered outward, shredding the hose and catching glancing blows to nearby bystanders. With the pressure suddenly cut the water streams died to nothing and causing the fire to swell up.
As Bondes stepped out and turned to cover the aft turning, his assault cannon started to cycle up. “Contact...” was all he managed to say before a seemingly solid wall of flechette, las beam and solid shot engulfed him. Several rounds spat back and drew cries of pain before a lucky shot caused the assault cannon mechanism to jam.
Bondes stepped back around the corner out of the line of fire. He sported several large craters in his torso plating, one had almost penetrated all the way. A dozen flash burns had left small molten rivulets pock-marking his armour and a line of slugs from an auto gun were embedded into his shoulder guard. The assault cannon had two barrels clearly punctured as well.
“Reconfiguring to firing cycle pattern Epsilon Sergeant. Fire capacity reduced by one third. Probability of further jamming increased by twenty percent.”
“Acknowledged, Brother. Are you injured?”
“Nothing, Brother-Sergeant. My battle plate has held true. They have erected a barricade, range approximately twenty metres.” Bondes pictured the scene, his enhanced mind granting him almost perfect recall. “A mix of light personal weapons, though you can probably tell that from my armour.” he added, robbing Lushik of the chance to comment.
“Also...” Bondes started, before the implication of his realisation temporarily robbed him of speech.
“What is it Brother?” Lucas prompted.
“There was not just mutants manning the barricades, they were led by several in crewman outfits and without obvious sign of corruption. It could well be that they are in league together.”
The whole squad felt their rage build at this revelation, it was bad enough to turn a blind eye to corruption, but to embrace it and cast your lot in with it and attack Imperial forces? Surely the damnation here was total.
“Squad, prepare to engage, we will clear this area in the Emperor’s name then proceed up the access stairwell to the upper decks. They are judged guilty and found wanting. Carry out due sentence.”
The squad started forward when an inhuman roar stopped them in their tracks. A creature similar in bulk to the Ogryn ab-humans found throughout the Imperium was bounding down the stairs toward them. It had four arms, using the slab like upper arms to haul itself along faster. But it was the item it brought with it in its other pair that gave the Marine elite fighters pause. A jury-rigged artillery shell from the ships light armaments magazine, it was easily the equal of those fired by the Earthshaker cannons or the Leman Russ main battle tank. An explosion of that magnitude here inside would critically compromise their armour suits, and likely as not hole the pressure hull, venting them into the void to die frozen, silent, lonely deaths.
Bloodshot eyes fixed them with deadly intent.

Command was a heavy burden. The Chaplains taught that the Emperor carried the heaviest burden, an eternal vigilance to oversee mankind. That He-on-Terra expected his highest chosen to carry their own with stoicism and in doing so help the Emperor. It was a Duty. And Duty to the Emperor and Chapter came first in all things. Obedience, unflinching and total unto death was required to those that exercised conduct of command. Obedience brought Order. Order was measured by the Law. But where did the dictates of Command lie best? Lucas had never given an order he had never personally done already. In two hundred and ten years service he had done a great deal indeed. He had a duty to his overseeing Judge-Captain here and now to get the job done. This was war, and the Emperor’s Final Judgement could be upon him any moment. As a leader he also had a duty of care to his squad and brothers. To make the right call, first time; every time. Lead them to glory. And do his utmost to keep them alive to fight again for they were each worth much. Each a hero and already entrusted with the Long Trial.
A responsibility to the Chapter to carry forth and preserve its honour. They were entrusted with the Chapter’s very history in their wargear, and it’s very future in the progenoid glands they each carried.

____ pounded forward to meet this new foe. There followed a stretched out second as what seemed an immovable object met the irresistable force of a resolute Space Marine. Taking the monster in the flank and off balance they barreled back toward the stairs. ______ dropped his storm bolter to free his hand, and hit the emergency shut stud as they went past.
The doors rolled closed and shut tight, deadbolts and interlocking arms bracing it fast.
____ wrestled with the behemoth, overgrown muscles pitting their insane might against straining servo motors and a warrior’s resolution as ____ fought to keep the mutant’s hand from closing onto the detonator clasp. The abomination rammed it’s head into the terminator faceplate again and again to try and throw off _______. It’s nose was smashed and blood welled from broken teeth. It’s eyes were wide with rage, mindless of the injury it was doing to itself and the autosenses absently informed ___ that his adversary was pumped full of combat stimm. They spun round as the fight continued, now it was next to the sealed door and ____ perched at the top of the access stairs. Two of the monster’s hands still cradled the shell whilst the others were locked with ___. A clatter of feet informed him of more enemy closing in from above, once they arrived they could overwhelm him.
The door locks started to disengage themselves, the crew surely using a remote override and a hiss of equalising pressure spoke of only seconds until the heavy shutter started to move. ____ knew he had to end this and fast. The door fortunately took longer to open than to shut but every second counted and would widen a blast path. Their opposing forces were at a stalemate, the chaotic and chemically enhanced biology would surely overwork itself, but not before the doors opened far enough and put his whole squad in jeopardy. As the beast reared it’s head back for another savage crunch, ____ altered his stance, and as the head came down again he gave no resistance, a savage spin redirecting their momentum and it went tumbling down the first flight of stairs, landing hard and fumbling the ordinance halfway down. It was already recovering from the daze and shock of relocation, scrambling for the detonator clasp. ____ was now too far from his storm bolter and the door gearing started to move. He prayed to the Emperor, his Primarch and his armour’s war spirit for protection. He rolled over, swung his arm round, and hit the warhead with his power fist.

A mighty detonation was only marginally lessened by the heavy metal, which bent and strained to contain the blast overpressure raging against the other side. Lucas could well imagine the inferno that would be racing up and down that access ladder, incinerating what the blast had already pulped. It pained him that he could not seperate the analytical part of his awareness from the fact his brother-in-arms was amongst it. Their rage was now stoked white hot by the sacrifice of their comrade, and they were Astartes, conditioned to react faster, and fight harder than any other. They charged round the junction as one, only the odd shot now rang out to oppose them. They crossed the distance in a matter of seconds, they held their fire, this would be settled close in and bloody. The barricade had repulsed one Terminator briefly with the element of surprise and a full volley. Against a squad of the finest of post-humanity, and with no real firepower to muster, the defenders did not stand a chance. Lightning claws punched out and slashed, power fists closed round limbs, and pulverised torsos, and Lucas swund his thunder hammer in wide arcs, sending bodies flying like rag-dolls. Some tried to flee, and only now did the Teminators use their ammunition, precision bursts cutting them down in the back.

ATTACK ON COMMAND CENTRE. Better armed, Terminator storm bolters nexus.

All was still and serene. The main Reclusiam onboard was a sanctuary for reflection and indoctrination, services of praise and remembrance. A requiem for weary souls to find focus. Above the stone faced doorway was an inscription in tight gothic lettering. ‘With stillness comes clarity’. Not even noise from the rest of the ship intruded thanks to the soundproofing measures. A slight haze hung in the air from the incense burners and hundreds of candles in mounted large racks, tended to and kept stocked by the serfs, one of whom was on door duty and bowed deeply as Moriatus entered his domain. Moriatus’ feet padded lightly across the stone slabs, his black robe tied around the waist with a cord done in chapter colours; green and brown with bone trim. His Rosarius was hung round his neck; a loop of pearl beads ending in a skull-fronted cruciform. It was a badge of office and his soul armour, symbolically and literally. It had a built-in energy field to keep his body safe on the battlefield as it also reminded him of his duty and unshakeable conviction. A pair of the beads were made of obsidian instead of pearl and sat closest to the cross. The chain was his most treasured personal artifact, its various accruements having being earned over many campaigns and struggles. It’s immense significance was known fully only to those inside the chaplain brotherhood, selected trusted veterans and the higher command echelons, known collectively as the Inner Circle. The black marker beads in particular denoted that he had brought two of the Fallen successfully to repentance. They were corrupted space marines from their parent legion that had turned traitor ten thousand years ago. It was their secret shame that as the rest of the legion had fought for the good of the Emperor some had abandoned their oaths and Primarch, throwing their lot in with dark powers. It was the sworn duty of their descendants across all the Dark Angels legion successor chapters to hunt them down without mercy and expunge their guilt through confession of the soul and suffering of the flesh. It took many years for a brother to be ready to receive this dangerous knowledge, judged worthy and inducted into the Inner Circle, many never were.
Moriatus had only recently joined the forth company after their own chaplain had been killed in action. Moriatus had transferred from the headquarters staff as High Chaplain to recover the previous incumbent’s Rosarius for return to the Chapter home world where it would hang in the High Basilica alongside many others. There were other matters that needed attending to as well.
Moriatus looked up from under his hood to the vaulted ceiling, where a large star scape was picked out in diamonds. It showed the constellations as seen from the main Chapter House’s High Basilica on Founding Day, the Chapter’s celebration of forming. The hoods material was smooth and cool against Moriatus’ skin and close shaved silver hair. Some chaplains kept their masks on at all times when in the presence of others so they were always seen as their incarnation rather than flesh and blood. Moriatus found this to be too restrictive when mentoring and he was their battle brother first and foremost, one who was charged with certain further responsibilities.
All about were reminders of the legacy they carried forwards through the galaxy. Retired battle banners hung from the rafters, some had last seen front line action over several thousand years ago. Along the nave were large pillars within which recesses had been placed. Trophies and relics were displayed here and Moriatus cast his eye over them as he slowly paced his way along the main processional between the rows of long low stone benches either side of him. There were no explanatory plaques to tell the tale of these objects, all marines who came here knew their story as a matter of course. They were oft used as examples when instructing on matters of duty and sacrifice, courage and honour. There on the left was the Mk V pattern helmet of Brother Greig, one of the chapters finest to have ever served a placement with the Deathwatch Chapter. What he hadn’t know about killing Orks wasn’t worth knowing. The helmet was the last he had worn and showed the marks of the twisted Eldar’s splinter rifle weaponry and the gouge made by a razor-flail. The flail that had made it sat next to the helmet, claimed after he had ripped the alien’s arm off. He had been returned to them in a stasis capsule from his last and greatest mission, and after consultation with the apocatherion and the Chapter Master he had been interred in one of the revered Dreadnought sarcophagus. He slept away the years secure to be awakened as needed, dispensing wisdom or to march to war in his new metal body, where he could continue the Emperors work with crushing claw and heavy weaponry. Sacrifice.
There on the right a few rows further down sat the storm bolter of Veteran-Brother Donnas softly illuminated from above by a glow lamp. The light picked out the inlaid filigree and engravings, and glinted wickedly from the bayonet at the front. He had created and then forced a breach in a cave network, combining the cutting power of chain-fist and the murderous rate of fire from the storm bolter’s twin barrels to decimate the Tau warriors in there. Then with ammunition spent and chain-fist burnt out he had continued on, bludgeoning and stabbing before impaling the Tau’s leader caste on the bayonet. It had broken the morale and strategic coherence of the entire xeno’s resistance. Perseverance.
Moriatus continued on. Again, there on the right, sat a glass dome. This one was lit from underneath by a ring of lights. Inside sat the head of a Tyranid Warrior Prime genus leader beast. It had been personally slain by their very-own Judge-Captain Drysden in his first engagement in command. The chitinous plates off its armour were a deep purple and contrasted with the pallid flesh underneath, the jaw set slightly apart to show the razor teeth and a long barbed tongue. The Rightness of Humanity.
The chapel was only sparsely attended at this time. In one recess, a Tactical Sergeant and his second in command were sitting and quietly conversing. Moriatus saw the Book of Gateways removed from its stand and was sitting open between them.
One of the veterans attached to the forth company was deep in prayer halfway along and looked up briefly at Moriatus’ passing and bowed his head. Moriatus paused, giving a quiet benediction to the marine. The squad had joined at the same time as Moriatus and they were also members of the Inner Circle, its elite strike force known as the Deathwing, in the tradition of their fore-bears. Deployed in the heaviest fighting plate, known as Terminator armour, they were each an incredibly potent force even by Astartes standards. A massed assault of Terminators when they were gathered together was nigh unstoppable. They were deployed on missions to hunt the Fallen, or more tactically to bolster the fighting strength of a company. As such trusted personnel they had virtually free reign of the many facilities, trusted to be self-disciplined in their training and regimen.
He reached the end of the processional. The walkway led off to both sides, one into a side chapels and the other to the duty chaplain’s personal quarters. A set of 3 steps led up to the stone platform where the altar sat. A single solid block of black marble, at each corner carved eagles kept watch and supported the wider top plate. A simple cover of white cloth sat on top and hung down the front.
The platform was made up of individual stones each of differing size and shape locking tightly together. Dedications, remembrances and honours earned were inscribed into each creating a large written mosaic, a tableau of past battle. A round plug seal sat flush with the deck, leading away down to the inner crypts. Rearing above these was a statue of Lion El’Jonson, their primarch and progenitor. In one hand he held the pommel of a large inverted blade, and in the other a set of balances. His stern patrician features radiated strict justice and imparted to those who saw it a simple truth; do the right thing no matter what may be said about you. Know you lived right by the Emperor.
As High Chaplain, it Moriatus’ right to take with him one of the Chapter’s sacred standards. A banner that could be bestowed unto a worthy bearer before a great undertaking and drove those around to greater acts of valour. The one Moriatus had brought with him sat on its hanger next to the wall; the Standard of Execution. Made of a ceramite resin weave, it was slightly smaller than a normal company standard but far stronger and more rigid. The green and brown quartered background was edged in gold leaf and bedecked with many purity seals. Mounted on the banner was a sculpted angel of death in a billowing crimson robe with swept silver wings. A skeletal visage glared from under the cowl and bony hands gripped a shining sword. The first stanza of the Star Judges creed was written in the space between the wings in the blood of heroes. Chapter legend had it that the angel was made of melted boltgun shell casings, each of which had taken the life of a mighty enemy of mankind.
Moriatus checked his chronometer, five minutes before the start of third watch. Right on cue he detected the sound of footfalls double timing it along the passage outside the chapel. A squad of neophytes formed up in good order and stood still whilst their sergeant spoke to them. They then fell out and entered, each of the youngsters dropping to one knee when crossing the threshold. Unlike the fully fledged marines who wore duty robes when not actively engaged with training the scouts wore their carapace armour and weapons rig for virtually everything outside washing and kit maintenance. Each set was personally adjusted to the wearer, and it taught them to feel at home in it in all circumstances and be ready for the many snap drills to test them. Callun, the squad’s Veteran Sergeant was a full Space Marine unlike his four neophyte charges, it was his responsibility to train and induct them in the ways of war until they were ready for the elevation to full Battle-Brother. He had been with the chapter for many years and was a former member of the Deathwing before it was decided to utilise his experience elsewhere. If you wanted the best, they had to be trained by the best. He directed his subordinates to the front row, where they filed in and sat silent, patient, expectant. As they trained their bodies, so they were trained in matters of creed and faith to prosecute their task, this was why they sat here now.
“The Emperor and Lion be with you” Moriatus opened his address.
“And also with you Lord.” Came the responses in unison.
“You have not met me before I believe, though I am sure you know full well who I am.” He continued. “And who am I?” He pointed to the first scout in the row.
“You are High Chaplain-Prosecutor Moriatus my Lord. One of the Three.”
“Very good.” Pointing to the next in line; “And what does that mean?”
“The Three are the figureheads of the Chapter, the Lords Corporeal, Spiritual and Ethereal. In your case, Lord, representing spiritual. Together you form the Supreme Court.”
“Good. And just as you know who I am, believe me I know each of you as well having studied the extensive status reports each of you my predecessor generated. We take great care in monitoring your progress. For to do otherwise would be to invite weakness into ourselves, and a weak link can sunder the chain forever. Do you know how the former Chaplain met his end?”
“No my Lord.”
“The only way it is acceptable for a Star Judge to die; wounds to the fore and delivering our wrath to the wrong. When you are judged suitably experienced in the ways of dealing death you will be elevated to full initiate. But to wear the Scales on your shoulder guard means more than being able to pull a trigger effectively. You must be proficient in the ‘why’ of war and able to judge effectively. That is why we have differing ranks; they distinguish battlefield proficiency as well as advancement of the mind. To out-think and know your foe for what they are. This will give you the surety of action required to accomplish your goals. To illustrate; it requires a Judge-Captain or above to authorise a deployment, and this is based on the evidence submitted to a hearing by a Chaplain-Prosecutor or Sergeant-Arbitrator. For we are not a sledgehammer like some, but the scalpel that finds its target and removes it cleanly and completely. We are not mindless butchers like some chapters.”
Moriatus paced slowly back and forth in front of the neophytes.
“Next, What do you understand by the concept of automatic crimes aspirant McFaul?”
“They are crimes that require no further summary or judgment, the sight of them is proof of guilt and the only suitable punishment for which is execution my Lord.”
“And what are some examples of these?” Moriatus pressed.
“Committing an act of violence against a Star Judge, bearing the mark of unlicensed mutation or of being a xenos life-form.”
“The Imperial Guard use certain ab-humans regularly and psykers are a mutation, so why do we not kill our own Librarian staff and these others?” countered Moriatus, probing their understanding beyond rote response.
“The key, my Lord is in the burden of unlicensed mutation, our own Librarians are screened and tested to be pure and are sanctioned by decree, and the ab-humans you refer to are genetically stable out shoots of humanity caused by differing environment.”
“A good understanding McFaul.” Moriatus moved on. “The Imperial Creed as taught to the mass of humanity is to fear the witch, the mutant. Why do we not teach the same? Aspirant M’Phee.”
“We shall know no fear my Lord.” M’Phee replied proudly, head upright and chest out.
“Aspirant Ling…” Moriatus stopped his pacing and pulled up short, his eyes locking onto Ling, who was looking off to the side.
“Something more worthy of your time Aspirant?” Moriatus hissed.
Ling baulked and looked up at the figure looming over him. “My apologies Lord.”
Moriatus swept down the steps and closed in. “One charge of Inattentiveness. How do you plead?”
“Guilty my Lord.” Ling said openly and contritely.
“Noted. Mitigation before I render sentence?”
“It was the armour through in your chamber, my Lord. I have never been so close to a suit of Tactical Dreadnought armour. I was fascinated”
“Ah curiosity. A double edged trait to be sure. Caution, for inattentiveness may lead to vital information and evidence being missed, or of course, get you killed, where you will have then failed your squad mates, mission and Emperor. But the opposite may also hold true, leading to a breakthrough and much glory. Be careful which you end up with. Sentence will be a punishment remedial training programme as your Sergeant sees fit.”
Sergeant Callun glared at Ling then looked to Moriatus. “I will see to it my Lord.”
“I have no doubt. Now, you are curious about my armour, let us on this instance make a positive out of your error. Come with me.”
Turning about Moriatus strode across to the open doorway that led to a small dormitory, his charges in tow.
Comprising two small adjoining rooms, one contained a simple low bunk and a set of shelves at the foot of the bed which was stacked with books, scrolls and a gilt icon of the Emperor. An inter-comm unit was built discreetly into one bulkhead.
The other was a small arming chamber, a small ablution station was in one corner with a locker for cloths, oils and ungents. A rack of spare robes and personal effects sat alongside. But the room was dominated by two racks that held armour and a central weapons station. One held a suit of Mk VII power armour of the kind synonymous with Space Marines across the Galaxy. The second rack held the ornate suit of battle plate and was what drew the rapt focus of the neophytes. All enclosing, and bulkier still than normal power armour, its black paint was glossed to mirror sheen. Heavy boots and greaves went up to thigh guards draped with purity seals and across the barrel-like torso section was spread a large eagle, wings outstretched in hammered gold. The Chaplain’s skull helm sat above, even powered down it still had an imposing air to it. The shoulder guards were wide swept, the right hand one displayed the chapter colours whilst the left hand one kept the characteristic black. Text covered the arms in tight spirals and a roll of parchment hung from the waistband, where more litanies were written. It was to the stone skull-on-cross icon on this pad to which Moriatus drew their attention.
“Do you know the meaning of this badge?”
“It is the mark of a veteran my Lord?” Ling ventured.
“Yes, but much more than that. This is a Crux Terminatus. It is a great honour to have earned the right to bear one. All Terminator suits, or Tactical Dreadnought armour to give it the correct technical designation, carry one. Veterans carry the mark because of the suits, and not the other way round. Legend has it that when the Emperor slew the thrice cursed arch-traitor Horus, and in return received his mortal wounds, before his ascension to the life-preserving Golden Throne he ordered his suit of armour from that fateful encounter be distributed amongst his loyal sons that they may take forth with them a bodily reminder of the sacrifices that are made. And so a sliver of that armour was taken and worked inside a mark of honour. Those who have passed the advanced training and been accepted into the brotherhood of the honored 1st Company are allowed to carry a replica icon in recognition. Mine is incorporated into my Rosarius as you can see. Did you know your sergeant is entitled to wear one?”
The squad turned to Callun, their respect driven to new heights by this piece of information so powerfully delivered.
“You see both my suits of armour here, why do you think I have two?” Moriatus posed, gesturing to either side of himself.
They looked at each other, but they all drew a blank. “We do not know Lord.”
“Terminator armour is immensely powerful, but also has several drawbacks. You become much more encumbered and slowed across terrain, reloading and grenade usage is next to impossible which limit options. They are sacred relics as much as armour and the number we have is hard to repair and replace. They are only deployed when needed, in the right circumstances, where protection and lethality are primary; such as boarding actions, and assaults against high value targets.”
Moriatus picked up a cloth folded nearby and wiped off the helmet eye lenses.
“I have been entrusted with this suit since my investiture in my current office. I know each component intimately as much as my Mk VII suit. Some Chapters have their serfs do the cleaning and upkeep. Do you understand the reasoning why we tend to our own armour?”
The young trainees looked at one another and at their own kit. Then Canvert stepped forth and spoke up. “To have pride in your colours Lord.”
A tight smile broke on Moriatus’ face. “True. For what would you do if on campaign; when caked in grime, and the filth of the battlefield? Wander about looking for a techmarine with your gunked up boltgun until someone gives you a hosing down?” This brought a round of quiet laughs from the aspirants. “Look to your wargear, honour it and see it returned in reliable service.”
Moriatus looked at his chronometer. “That is all for today. It is almost time for the Judge-Captains personal reflection period. Reflect on the lessons we have covered whilst you train. They’re all yours Sergeant Callun. It’s good to see you again.”
“And you my Lord.”
The squad bowed to Moriatus and left, moving down the nave before congregating outside the arched entrance.
“Right lads, to firing range six for rifle practice.” Callun stated, deliberately picking the range furthest from the chapel. “I will meet you there. Silent routine. I don’t want any reports of you being noticed until you arrive. Ling, how is the repair on your chest rig doing?”
“Good Sergeant. It is holding well and has stayed secure. The armoury has approved it.”
“Dismissed then.” Callun turned to leave.
“Sergeant” Canvert ventured. “I have a question.”
“What is it?” Callun stopped and looked over his shoulder.
“What is it like to fight in a Terminator suit?”
Callun took a deep breath and cast his mind back over countless experiences, searching for the right words. After a moment he looked back at them.
“Remember your initial amazement at the ability and power at your command when first raised from humanity to your level now? Take that feeling, multiply it then add it onto where you are now. It is to walk into the most impossible situation, face down the most lethal foes and know you will emerge victorious. ”

By the time Judge –Captain Drysden arrived at the Reclusiam it had been cleared off all others save Moriatus himself. The chapel serfs had discreetly moved about, informing the visitors of the time. One by one they had finished their business and left. Then once the last had departed the serfs also had gone to the doors, ready to shut them and stand vigil to prevent interruption.
Wearing his bone coloured robes and grey cloak, Drysden had his arms bare, and slabs of muscle showed dozens of scars from his active service. Many of them would have been debilitating injuries to those without an Astartes genehanced biology and recuperative treatment.
The doors swung shut closing with the barest sound. Drysden ran a fingertip across a scanner panel and spoke a quiet command into the audio pickup. A small indicator lit a steady green after several seconds. The sanctity of the chapel was preserved by more than simple soundproofing. A variety of jammers and null wards masked all electromagnetic and psychic observance or interference, safeguarding the integrity of the business conducted within.
Drysden strode along to where Moriatus was waiting and embraced him, forearm to forearm.
“The Emperor and Lion be with you Moriatus.”
“And with you Drysden. How are you Captain?”
They sat down on the front benches, leaning back.
“Well enough, thank you Moriatus. It has disturbed me somewhat, the spread of whatever taint has taken hold here. Those defence ships were loyal, and with their operating schedule only one at most is in dock at any point. The other would have to have voluntarily returned knowing that filth was waiting to get onboard.”
“True. I recommend reading Exhortations, I think volume three would be appropriate. It is in the very nature of Chaos to defy reason. We have seen things that defy our very reality. Fire rains from the sky. Shadows are formed from starlight with murder in mind.
“Do we have any lines of enquiry open on the cause of this?”
“Some, Captain. The boarding sweeper teams recovered several items, that have yielded a target of special attention. It is a potential class primus.”
This had Drysden’s undivided attention “The extenuating circumstances you alluded to after the hearing?”
“Yes captain. The vid-log I refer to is safely stowed away in the vault. Of course with Librarian Dathlin still incapacitated in the infirmary we have been unable to screen for any psychic resonations attached. Therefore it is my recommendation we keep the vid away from even other members of the Deathwing to minimize risk.”
“Agreed. How is our Librarian? The apothecary assures me his body is well on the way to recovery. But what of his soul?”
“He seems to be at peace thank the Lion. The fight against a daemon creature is always spiritually taxing and I have been strident to keep a close watch over him, with regular blessing and purification. He is strong though and so far no sign of corruption has appeared.”
“And what of his companion?”
“The Watcher has also shown behavior no more unusual for one of its kind. It comes and leaves at will though as ever no one is ever even sure of when. There has been no communication with anyone else since his incapacitation.”
“That is well for I received a missive several months back. One of our psychic brothers from the third company has gone to the Emperor’s side, and an Aspirant Dolan training with seventh company has been delayed confirmation to joining the Librarius pending further purity study. We can ill afford Dathlin’s loss as well.”
“Ah.” Moriatus looked up to the statue of El’Jonson. “They are a valuable but unpredictable commodity to our chapter. I may raise the issue with our kin when we next meet.”
Drysden smiled at the thought. “It will be good to get back to them to be sure. It has been a long patrol cycle. The Last Judgment is due a long upkeep period and you yourself are due to travel to The Rock itself are you not?”
“Yes, it will be my second time there in fact. It will be good to walk the hallowed ground again. This time it is for a Conclave of the Reclusiarchs. We will reaffirm our bonds and after a period of testing my appointment as High Chaplain will be ratified. I shall also be taking our latest intelligence as our contribution to The Long Trial to collaborate leads and build the bigger picture. Which brings us to the other pressing matter at hand. Shall we descend?”
“Yes, we still have a few days until our arrival in-system and our destination. Let me see what you have gathered.”
They stood and walked up to the altar and proceeded round the back of it.
There, they put a hand each into a recess hidden by the overhang of the wide top. A gene-coder needle nipped out and sampled the bio signature of both Moriatus and Drysden. After a few moments delay one of the larger stones in the floor lifted on hydraulics. A control station also raised out of the deck, coming to a stop and movin to allow easier access. Moriatus walked up to it and input his personal cypher. This opened the first lock and the control panel opened outward, revealing a second data entry board. Now it was Drysden’s turn to input his code and with a hissing release of controlled atmosphere, the great seal plug in the deck swung upward, revealing a set of steps leading down. On all the battle barge schematics this area was marked out as a repository of ancient artifacts and safe storage place but the truth was far more important. It tracked the Chapters past for sure, but also guided its most important business of the future, the continuing hunt for the Fallen. Taking a lit taper from nearby, Moriatus led the way, lighting the candles that waited in the mouths of gargoyle holders along one wall.
Down they went, and arrived at a second door. This one was a heavy blast bulkhead, several tons of solid reinforced steel and opened at the push of a gene-reader keypad. It cranked up and away to reveal a round chamber.
The power came online, booting up the displays and readouts. Several pods of heavy duty armaglass stood along one wall containing recovered artifacts and clues. In one, a recovered broken bolt pistol, its make harking back to the great crusade ten thousand years distant, but aged no more than a half century. A half destroyed identity tag teased the name of its Fallen owner who had dropped it when making an escape from other Imperial forces. On the right were the confinement cells, warded and psychically shielded. They awaited any Fallen that were recovered, a solid slab lay in the middle draped in heavy gauge silver chains, acid-etched with hexagrammatic wards. It was not unknown for other entities to share the body of those who had Fallen even further.
Moriatus and Drsysden strode to the central console, and Moriatus pressed several control keys, retrieving the vid-log which began to play. “This is their apparant leader, a ‘________’.
A logo appeared, the same as that found by the Terminators, that of the so-called Brothers of Variety. A dark tune grated out, and Drysden noted its similarity to the classic hymn Imperius Savious Glorianus, but where it had been twisted so the flowing haunting melody now grated and screeched.
The screen changed to a static ridden image showing a large figure. The camera was tilted upward toward him as he swayed back and forth. A heavy hood cloaked his features but the upper portion power armour chest plate could be made out from the fall of his garments. Old patterned armour and partially missing. Maybe Mk III, heavy duty and tough. The voice that accompanied the vid had been silenced for anti-contamination protocol, and a transcript played out across the screen as it went on. The camera zoomed out to show a small crowd, and the increased size of _____ was immediately apparant. “Definitely post-human or gen-enhanced.”
He gestured behind him, and as the viewpoint tracked to follow Moriatus leaned forward to freeze the frame. “There, my Lord.”
Drsyden drank in every detail of this figure, and his eyes locked onto the partial symbol that could be seen most of all. On one leg, beneath the tattered robes, a stylised wing and sword. The symbol of the Dark Angels Legion.
Drysden watched with a hatred that smouldered in his eyes, as if willing the


The rad-grub scuttled over the low mound in the earth and into the small overhang to escape the midday heat from the sun high overhead. Nearby the town of Prospect’s End also sat baking as it had done for several hundred years, walls of dried clay and wood keeping out the savannah countryside. All through the township low squat hovels sought to escape the repressive heat in the lee of the only two structures of any height or worth. They both gave off vast plumes of smoke but for very differing reasons. The first building was closest to the centre of town and was the former administrative control centre. It gave off smoke from the fires of revolt that continued to gut it visible even from this distance. The occasional gunshot rang out around the districts. With the local law forces either in hiding or hung dead from the street fittings, it was now the most basic of societies - the rule of the strong.
The other stood on the banks of the river and was the city’s only factory, rust stained walls of sheet steel thrown up long ago to enable the processing of the rich mineral deposits nearby. Its flanks showed cog-and-skull emblems in places, declaring its allegiance to the Martian Tech-Priesthood. These too were in disrepair for this was a backwater facility and efficiency, not aesthetics was its measure. The factory had been the prime employer in Prospects End, so called for this had been where the last ore vein of any worth had ceased. There was little room on Deepcut for sentimentality or artistry. Only grinding on and doing what needed to be done. The rest of the populace had worked in support roles of shops, repair or the many other professions that could be found wherever humanity laid roots.
‘That’s the problem’, thought Callun, Veteran Scout-Sergeant, ‘it’s not just humans in there.’ He was the reason there was a mound on the plains, his scope was the small shade the insect had crawled under. Four more rises were spaced out around him, each under their own full camo-cloak with either sniper rifle barrels or sensor pods being the only break in their outline. They each wore carapace armour with large shoulder guards and tan-coloured fatigues. It did not require a power pack and was far more suited to the work they were to undertake. Stealth was their ally. Why wear heavy armour to deflect an incoming bullet when he would be dead before he knew you were there to pull the trigger?
His squad had spent the last day and a half observing the layout of the surrounding area, marking the patrol routes and routines of local militia forces and the general coming and goings. Elsewhere on the planet, other scout squads were doing similar work. They were targeting some of the planets key infrastructure locations, and though some chapters would gleefully rain destruction on the whole town to kill a single foe, the Star Judges were more measured. This planet would be tried, judged, punished where needed then delivered back into the hands of the Imperium.
The wasting of ordnance was a crime to, he reflected.
His sub-vocaliser picked up and transmitted his clipped instructions to the squad. ‘‘We have their measure now my lads, and it is an unimpressive one at that. We go tonight.’’

Statistics: Posted by General Disarray — Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:24 am

2013-11-12T10:20:31+00:00 2013-11-12T10:20:31+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13599&p=327272#p327272 <![CDATA[Fiction • My Space Marine fiction JUS IN BELLO]]>
JUS IN BELLO (The Law of War)
By Robert McGuire

We are Star Judges.
It is our right and duty to set the heavens to Order.
In accordance to the sacred Law of the Emperor,
And his son, the Lion of Caliban.
No transgression may be tolerated, no punishment will be unjust.
We judge all according to Measure.
We are the Prosecution of the Will of Humanity.
Our actions; determined,
Our resolutions; thorough,
Our Faith; absolute.
We bring the purity of Justice to all places,
Guilt will be found and the stars brought to Redemption.


The dust motes drifted languidly in their slow dance in the upper reaches of the auditorium. They were carried on the currents and streams of air from the Battle Barge Last Judgment ventilation system as they had done for the last several decades. Occasionally they caught a stray beam of starlight entering through the foot-thick armour-glass dome, highlighted and flaring before fading again, as if the history of the cosmos was being re-enacted on a minute scale. The light continued on down to pool on the floor, towards the gatherings of large warriors congregating there, dappling traces of silver on their armour or robes. One of the dust motes floated, silent as the void outside, to settle on a cyber-skull. The bio-mechanical device was dutifully keeping station on its anti-gravity motors, the parchment scroll and auto-quill it carried were fully stocked and its glowing eye lenses watched with the patience of the machine spirit to record the events to unfold.
A bell tolled twice in the distance, the ease of which the peel carried through the long passageways and heavy bulkheads of the mighty warship indicative of its size. It announced the death knell of heretics and enemies of the Imperium not present, but unavoidably to be affected by those in the chamber.
At the sound, the small groups broke apart, taking their appointed positions or leaving the room. Chapter serfs bowed out after all was in order and pulled the ornate but solid blast doors shut behind them, and with a grinding of mechanisms and a thud the locking bars went into place.
Company Champion Dimara took an appraising glance around the auditorium, his gaze moving around, taking in the white marble statues of past masters looking upon them. Some were arranged in the flow of battle with full armour and weapons, others in a contemplative repose each according to their greater works. Stern and noble in aspect, wisdom radiated from their stone visages, silently entrusting their successors to carry on their holy work; The eternal appointment of smiting those who defiled the domains of man and defied the Law of the Immortal God-Emperor.
Dimara was tall and handsome, well-liked by those who knew him, and had come far in over a century of service to the Golden Throne of Him on Terra. Like most in the chamber he wore daily duty robes of quartered green and dark brown, a simple leather belt round the waist and a small but precious book on a skull link chain as a signifier of his position in the hierarchy.
The vaulted hall was done out in red hued stone, the deck and pillars cut from the volcanic rock of Alain, the main protectorate and recruiting world of the Star Judges Chapter. The ever present pipes and cables necessary for ship borne life were incorporated into the architecture in this sacred space, only the safety isolations to be seen leaving any indication of their existence. The Last Judgment was a ship of combat first and fore-most, aesthetics played a distant second to prosecuting their foes in war. Some of those pipes carried fuel to the torches set into brackets set around the walls at regular intervals, providing illumination in their arcs of coverage and banished all deep darkness, but leaving the room without any warmth or comfort. The accused being brought here would know they were in the full view of the Emperors chosen, His prosecutors of evil, His Judges. Dimara’s gaze moved onward and lingered for a moment on the Battle Standard of 4th Company in its place of honour. On its field was a stylized Tyranid head impaled with a sword blade from the top. Picked out in flowing white script was the simple legend: ‘Punishment’. Purging xenos lifeforms from the galaxy was a pure task.
He paced to the front of the chamber in heavy, measured footsteps, and snapping an about turn with parade ground precision barked out. ‘All rise.’
As one the assembled members stood, from the neophyte trainees in the rows of benches being supervised by their Sergeant to the Prosecutor himself; the Chaplain behind his heavy black marble table.
A side door opened and in strode Judge-Captain Drysden, his grey cloak flowing out behind him as he climbed the eleven steps to the high pulpit to oversee proceedings. Each of the steps was inlaid with golden lettering stating one of the key tenets of the Star Judge creed.
Drysden was an awesome figure of a Marine, heavily built even for one of the Astartes and every bit the heroic stature a Captain should be. The overall impression was one of an immovable object, in force and will. It was this solidity that had made him one of the Chapters finest with a heavy bolter in his days with the Devastator squads, earning many honours and a role as instructor able to impart wisdom with but a word and improving his charges with the nuances of a true expert. All that physique was just as deadly now it went into the swing of the power axe as when it had braced heavy weaponry. He was completely bald, with cold granite coloured eyes, with a large scar running down the right hand side of his face against his fair skin. It travelled on down under the breathing mask he had to constantly wear now ever since emerging victorious but severely wounded from a close encounter with a Tyranid Carnifex. He had fired his bolt pistol up through its eye; emptying the magazine into the creature’s brain as the beast had been starting to sink its foot long acid coated teeth into his face, the tear in the razorback hull just small enough to restrain it from any more purchase on him. The Apocatharion had had to rebuild much of his lower face afterward but his voice still carried clarity and its undeniable authority.
Drysden gathered his robes into order and eased himself into the dark hardwood chair, his arms resting on the supports that ended in hooded figures carrying swords en guard. He presided over all before him. “In the name of the Emperor, the Lion and Imperial Order let our justice be done.” An answering chorus went round the room.
He locked eyes with Chaplain Moriatus. He was the only figure in the room to wear his armour, the power generator of the Mk VII suit setting the air humming around it. The fully enclosed suit was midnight black apart from the right shoulder pad which displayed chapter specific iconography. The traditional skull mask helmet of the Chaplain brotherhood kept his features hidden, the accused brought here were not to face a superhuman but the embodiment of the Emperors Will. It was armour that could deflect all but the heaviest or luckiest of bullets and increased his endurance and strength to that many times of a normal man.
The green glow of several data slates on his table set him an otherworldly glow, and with a nod and bow to the Captain he started his opening address.
“Honoured Captain, I come before you today to present evidence of crimes against His Imperial Majesty the Emperor by the peoples of Deepcut Primary Hive and the surrounding areas. These charges include but are not limited to; Heresy, Rebellion and consorting with the powers of the warp.” The list was spat with righteous indignation with all the lethality of a boltgun round.
He paused, taking a breath through the helmets grille and caught the faint traces of incense from his Reclusiam three decks below, mixed with traces of hydraulic oils and other particulate of ship - borne life.
“The prosecution calls its first witness, 3rd company Apocathary Donel.”
A figure in the white robes appropriate to his specialisation stood up from the rows of low benches and walked calmly forward, stopped briefly in front of his captain to salute, then stood stock still.
Moriatus picked up one of the data slates from his desk.
“These are the post mortem examinations of the crew members dispatched on the system defence vessel two days previous upon our translation in system are they not?”
Donel took the slate, looked down at it and scrolled through the contents.
“They are my Lord.” He said, handing it back.
“What did you uncover, brother?”
“Honoured judge, I carried out a series of investigations on two of the executed crewmembers, as can be seen by the vids logged as exhibit Alphas.”
The chaplain took the cue to activate a holo sphere and transfer the images from the slate to be magnified and viewable by all.
A slow revolving image of two corpses laid out on a blood splattered slab resolved in mid-air, their faces staring in muted horror and pain.
“Subject one can be seen here to have mutation of the flesh, most notably the addition of an extra set of arms and the patches of chitin like plating over the torso, postulating this continued down onto his lower region severed by the missile strikes.”
“And is it not true that corruption of the flesh leads to corruption of the soul?”
“It is indeed Prosecutor-Chaplain.”
Moriatus paced up and down for a few moments. “Did you find any markings on the cadavers?”
“Indeed my Lord, subject two was found to have several tattoos, some crudely done, some of vulgar images and symbolic of presumably local relevance. However one of significantly higher workmanship was found at the base of the neckline, indicative of a serial number and location that records show to be a mining facility some distance from the main hive. Judging by the wear on the bones and joints that were still attached after termination it is suggestive of intense physical labour.”
Captain Drysden leaned forward “You infer they were used as a slave work force by authorities?”
“I do Sir.”
“Thank you Brother Donel that will be all for now.”
Drysden picked up an electro-quill and made a few notes whilst a servo skull arched down from overhead, its eye lenses recording the testimony before zooming away to station keep in a corner as it awaited the next event.
Donel bowed, stepped back then turned and retook his seat.
Moriatus then addressed the court at large once more. “To prove the charges of heresy most foul, I call my next witness, Prisoner 3811382, captured from one of the traitorous defence ships and the only one remaining alive in custody.”
Dimara pressed an activation rune on the control station next to him and a metal grid in the floor slid to one side in the deck, a steel cage with thick metal close set bars rising up with a low rumble of gears to settle with a resounding clang, an air of fear radiating from the solitary figure within. Standing mutely and bloodied was what may have been mistaken as a man in passing glance. His eyes were downcast and a misshapen left hand was pressed against a weeping area of charred flesh on his chest, half his head of black hair missing. All the Marines instinctively recognised the work of a flamer. The prisoner looked up forlornly around the room at the giants focused on him. Moriatus saw with satisfaction him blanche at the picts of his deceased comrades in damnation. Good, he thought, let him fear us, let him understand his situation.
Moriatus didn’t know his name nor did he care, and began his verbal assault.
“Heretic 382, why did you attack a vessel of the Adeptus Astartes?”
The mutant in the cage looked up at the figure in black looming over him, his reply so low as to be inaudible to one without enhanced senses.
“I don’t belong here, leave me alone, and leave us all alone.”
The chaplain straightened, “Let the record show the prisoner offers no defence to his crime.”
““We want no part of the Imperium or its laws, oppression and death!” Came the startled response from within the bars. “We are a free people within the Company of Variety. What crime?”
“WE ASK THE QUESTIONS HERE SCUM!” Boomed Moriatus through his armour’s vox system. “You are here to testify to your guilt.” The prisoner’s words bounced off the chaplain like small rocks thrown at a battle tank.
But the mutant continued, his sanity finally crumbling in face of his plight.
“I worked the Imperial mines for twenty cycles, saw many friends killed through neglect and brutality. Our children taken from us. What gives you the right to judge me?”
The Chaplain turned to the scrivener skull “Let the record also show the prisoner pleads guilty on charges of Deliberately Defiling a world of the Imperium, Consorting with unclean persons and Deliberate Procreation of more Unclean Persons.” The miniature quill arms scribbled furiously, transcribing the words.
“We judge all your kind and mete out your deserved punishment as per the Holy Law of Mankind in accordance to our mandate as avatars of the Emperor,” as though pointing out something obvious to a small child. “We are Star Judges.”
“I couldn’t help being born like this; I just wanted freedom from the lash.”
The chaplain nodded slowly and turned to the Captain. “He pleads guilty my Lord and requests freedom through death.”
“So noted” Drysden replied, “I pronounce death by incineration”. The man stood in his pen open mouthed before realisation sunk in and he started to rant, hanging off the bars. “This is not fair! I never asked for that! I want to see my family!”
“Restore order please Dimara.”
Dimara nodded once and advanced to the cage in a heartbeat, thrusting a shock maul through the bars and sent the gibbering mutant sprawling backwards and mewling quietly as the cage started to descend to the execution block.
“The Prosecution rests, my Lord”
“Very well,” Drysden rumbled. “I am satisfied that the charges presented here are substantiated. I hereby render verdict: Deepcut Primary Hive and the surrounding areas have broken their oaths to and the laws of the Emperor. I hereby pronounce them guilty. There is only one sentence that is suitable to these crimes and that is termination. Punishment deployment briefing will be in two standard hours in the primary briefing chamber. All senior officers and Sergeant-Arbitrators are to attend. Until then, may the Emperor guide your judgments and blades.” Drysden picked up the ornate marble hammer. One resounding blow echoed round the chamber.
The marines started to move toward the exit with a purpose, thoughts turned to the upcoming deployment. The Chaplain stayed still for just a few seconds longer, attracting the attention of Judge Captain Drysden. A short sub-vocalised transmission went from the chaplain’s armour to the comm array in Drysden’s mask, unknown to anyone else. Drysden nodded slowly once then turned to leave, the chaplain doing likewise.

************2 days previous. ************
Space was torn as unreality forced its way in. A large rent, spilling ethereal energies in long streams and lashes of hues not seen by mortal eyes, opened wider and wider until a large prow started to emerge like a armour plated beast born to an invisible host. This was a vessel made to travel between the stars and deliver death when it got there. More and more of the ship emerged, the hell realm kept at bay by a thin membrane of energies called a Gellar field, generated by arcane sciences that now bordered on the magical. The ranks of mega-cannon, missile emplacements, multiple launch decks and the other accruements of war slid out into real space until finally the large warp drive engines emerged.
The numbers of stable warp-jump points were few in any system, depending on the ebb and flow of the warp itself and the need to be far enough away from the gravitic influence of planetary bodies. The accuracy of a jump could be measured in many tens of thousands of kilometers.
On the command deck the crew was at the highest readiness for any incident, for although warp travel allowed for faster than light journeys, the loss of a ship or impairment of the Gellar integrity would cost those inside not just their lives but their very souls.
Sensor probes came online all around the hull, measuring the positions of stars and feeding the data to high power cogitating machines, readouts of relative position in the star system scrolling along the holographic displays on the command deck.
A ship was at its most vulnerable after leaving the warp due to the misalignment of systems and the secured state of its weapons. The protective void shields that could absorb and dissipate titanic energies of enemy impacts were offline to feed their power elsewhere.
It was this time that the system defence ships struck.
In the vast distances between the stars, even with warp travel to connect the realms of man, contact could be sparse in some remote places, planets isolated and overwhelmed or changed dramatically before calls for aid had been answered or even heard. Some more isolated worlds could go for generations between receiving the physical presence of the Imperium’s interest and control. They came for tithes of materials for transport and trade. And always for more manpower to fight the endless tide of threats. Truly the Imperium of a million worlds was held together by little more than a passing distant kinship and allegiance to a far off place, a being known and deified as the Emperor and a knowledge that no-one else would answer if the alien darkness out there came for you this time.
Every inhabited planet from feral barbarian to bustling hive planet was required to maintain a standing force however well it could to protect itself until aid might arrive. These in themselves ranged from warrior subcultures, to occasional reservists, to whole armies and fleets with orbital stations.
The Deepcut system was well equipped for such events, its ability to produce many ores and fabricating plants allowing it to enjoy most of the standard technologies of the Imperium, space travel among them.
It was equipped with exo-atmospheric defences too and it was these ships that closed in on the aft quarter of the Last Judgment and opened fire.

Another muffled bang rippled through the deck plating of the command deck as shells, mega plasma cannon discharges and lasers continued to be poured into them.
Battle barges were designed for line breaking efforts, their armament and armour concentrated to the fore and sides. If the attackers succeeded in staying in the blind arcs then they could inflict serious damage given the time to do so.
“Status report! This is meant to be a safe and Imperial controlled jump point. Have the identity codes been interrogated and replied to?” Drysden demanded. The ship’s captain appraised the screens and the information coming in through his augmented sensors.
Fleet Commander Cairns had been in service to his superhuman masters for over seventy years now, and head of the battle barge’s crew for more than a decade. A failed aspirant to the ranks of the Adeptus Astartes on medical grounds; he had been selected for service of a different kind. He had had a distinguished career; one didn’t get to be this high up on one of the most dangerous class of ships in the void without being a certain something extra. He had cut his teeth in his early days on a strike cruiser, fighting in more than a dozen planetary assault runs. He had earned the mechanical right arm in one such fight against an Ork boarding party, his shotgun taking the creatures head in exchange. A liaison placement had followed at the Port Maw Advanced Naval College, learning fleet tactics and serving on a Dominator class. The large broadsides on it still made him smile years later.
All the training and experience became second nature to him allowing an intuitive appraisal of the myriad information at his disposal to brief the Judge-Captain. It was a partnership and system that worked seamlessly and had enabled victories that shouldn’t have otherwise being possible. The Captain was perfectly well versed in war and tactics, but only he knew the ship on such an intimate level.
“They have been my Lord. They register as the two Imperial defence monitors of this system and are not answering our hails. No major systems have been affected so far by the bombardment; the ablative armour has mostly dissipated their initial salvo. Number three engine is down to seventy percent output for safety. The void shields have now been lit and are being supercharged by redirecting secondary power.”
“Very good Mr. Cairns, they will pay for their insolence and waste of initiative whoever they are.” Drysden stood next to the command throne as still if planet side, uncaring of the incoming fire. His hand flexed subconsciously, missing its accustomed grip on the haft of his axe, usually present when getting shot at. “Prepare to burn retros then come about to port, we’ll bring them into the arcs and show them what true firepower is. Launch from the starboard flight bays.”
Cairns looked up at his master and gave a knowing smile. “Aye my Lord!” Leaning to the other arm on his throne he activated a switch for the main broadcast vox. “All stations, all stations; this is the captain. Prepare for Thunderhawk launch starboard side, Port Batteries to weapons readiness state one.”

Armoured blast doors slid upward on powerful gearing cogs and a flight of Thunderhawk heavy gunships slid into the void from red-strobed bays. A screen of comparative insects setting out to defend a leviathan from smaller agile predators behind it. The fiery trails of their thrusters behind them would soon be matched by streams of violence in front; promised by the racks of missiles and dorsal turbo lasers. They accelerated to attack speed and executed a sharp bank to starboard, racing past the bulk of their charge. The flight crews locked in the energy signatures of the attackers to the cogitators, vectors and likely target points being assimilated in well-practiced order as the strategium synchronised their more powerful sensor sweeps with those of the gunships, triangulating and acquiring more accurate ranges. The countdown to intercept clock continued its steady insistence as the combatants closed as combined speeds that would be supersonic in an atmosphere.
“Thunderhawk Iron Justice, this is flight control” came the tinny voice through the pilot’s headset, the voice distorted by signal attenuation.
“Iron Justice here.”
“Command priority is the disablement of target engines. Secondary is weapons and any counter fighter craft.”
“Roger that flight control. Engines then weapons.”
The flight of three Thunderhawks formed up in a flying ‘v’, small dashes against the overwhelming gulf. They were fairly safe for now, their small energies masked by the larger craft next to them. But that wouldn’t last much longer.
Space combat was usually fought at ranges where the combatants were barely even visible, ships firing down the bearings and using time between recharges to develop refined fire control solutions. This fight was a comparative melee, the stability of the systems jump point working in favour of the defenders in providing an established position to ambush from.
The distance continued to close, the crews spending those precious minutes rechecking weapon feeds and carrying out confidence checks. The roar of the engines and the whirr and beep of machines was the only soundtrack to the silent violence racing past them outside and before they answered in kind.
Then new pinpoints appeared to their fore, streaking toward them in a most unpleasant welcome.
The interceptor missiles closed in on the gunships, which countered by performing frequent alterations, forcing the hunting logic engines to readjust intercept profiles and fuel consumption rates whist they closed in on their prey. Then when only several hundred metres separated them, it was the Thunderhawks that opened fire, twin-linked heavy bolter turrets chattering streams of high calibre ammunition at the incoming missiles, doing everything they could to destroy, deflect or blind them. Where it worked, bright flashes showed up successful interceptions of zero gravity fireballs and expanding debris. Other missiles went racing off course as sensitive sensor packs were disabled, sending them tumbling through the heavens into millions of miles of nothing. But not all were taken out. There were simply too many to all be fooled or hit with enough force. The Thunderhawk to the left of Iron Justice took a direct hit to its starboard wing, a last minute jink by the crew saving it from having being smashed into the fuselage. The impact and resulting detonation tore the flight surface off in a shower of sparks and splintering adamantium. The counter acting forces at work threw the craft tumbling away, spinning madly.
The two remaining gunships screamed on at attack speed, vengeance for their stricken comrades driving them on. They were past the monitors seconds later, executing a formation half loop then rolled to come up behind the engine stacks. The exhausts of plasma reactor drives yawned in front, and the dorsal turbo-lasers set about their deadly purpose. Thunderhawks were armed well beyond their size, and turbo-lasers were capable of transforming main line battle tanks into molten slag in a single punch. They opened up on the engine housings, vent lines and supply pipes. With enough infrastructure compromised, the monitor’s crew would have to either reduce reactor output or risk the titanic forces ripping the ship apart like a cyber-mastiff with a fresh heretic. As one monitor was hamstrung by the attacking craft the other pressed on, making a diving turn to starboard, cutting across and under the prow of its twin, desperate to stay one step ahead of the enraged beast turning on it with grim inevitability.
The first act of the deadly ballet had concluded with the introduction of the players, now the next commenced as they turned to present and jockey for position in the three dimensional arena open to them.
Fire continued to spit from the weapons bays into the battle barge, but by now the results were lessening as more of the defensive aids came to operational power, and the battleship turned to engage, bringing its lethal might to the argument.
The sparring continued; defence monitors were designed to engage and halt pirate activities and chase down errant merchant smugglers. They were judged one-to-one mostly sub-par to even the light cruisers of the Imperial Navy. Ordnance from them that would still devastate whole divisions of infantry or city blocks jabbed with limited effect at the larger target but they had speed on their side. A block of marble will still end as dust if hit long enough.
Drysden and Cairns watched the tactical hololith with a quiet appreciation. The relative bearing from their bow was decreasing, drawing the two aggressors into their firing arcs. Then the heavens would truly light up. One by one the guns crews sighted their guns, foremen shouted commands, their subordinates repeated the order and answered with affirmatives. Large breeches swung open; hazard claxons sounded their dirge as shells were slung up from the armouries. All along the gun decks shells were winched into position with echoing calls of “Crew number two, crew number six: HEAVE!”
Coded keys were inserted and turned to set interlocks to ready, priming charges. The crews stepped back, panting from exertion and adrenaline, offering up silent benedictions to their machines. Breeches swung closed and up on the bridge green lights on the indicator panel came alive in series as each reported loaded, locked and in a valid fire solution arc with the speed and efficiency of an experienced warship. The bold gambit of trying to evade out of harm’s way had failed for their prey. It had simply been a case of the target velocity against the barges turn rate. The barge had won.
Cairns opened his vox “Standby to fire on track A49/2!”
The call was taken up by the Master of Operations starting the firing drill. The Master of Auspex went next “Tracking valid sensor returns, strong and stable!”
Then Master of Navigation: “Hitting run clear!”
Master of Control “All systems correct and available, my Lord!”
The go or no go then cycled round to Drysden who simply nodded his assent that all was in order and added “Give the order Mr. Cairns.”
He spoke and with a single word confirmed titanic destruction and death. “FIRE!”
The Master of Ordnance took up the call and the team about him relayed it to their subsections, the permission to engage and kill rippling down the chain to the guns. Row after row of macro cannon engaged their firing locks and with the percussion caps firing, ignited the tremendous amount of propellants that hurtled warheads out along the barrels and racing away to their destination.
The effect when seen from a distance of was simply staggering. The impressive volleys given by the lighter ships simply faded into nothing at the answering rippling broadside. Impact after impact slammed into the enemy void shielding, which collapsed in seconds and left nothing to stop the remaining shells detonating their high explosive on the hull. Even reinforced for battle, the armour was stripped away and the superstructure crumpled. The barge savaged and raked large rents into the monitors side, gutting the mid-ships. A large section of the port battery ceased to be there anymore when a shell punched through the gap left by a previous blow, exploding outward into space. Where the void got in everything else went out; buckled cannons, unfortunate crewmen and all the accruements of ship borne life, blown out and tumbling away where the remaining fires died in the vacuum. Onboard the crew screamed at the onslaught and died in droves, crushed by equipment that had torn free, incinerated by the detonations and pulped by the pressures of rupturing systems. Bulkheads ground closed and damage control teams formed to contain the incidents. The whole ship had been rolled sideways by the repeated impacts, and desperately tried to regain its composure.
Attitude thrusters fired madly and although it could barely fight to answer it could still move on relatively undamaged drive engines and perhaps live to see another day.
The engagement had reached a critical juncture, where the smaller vessels had to accept either escape or destruction. It was not uncommon for critically damaged ships to power down all non-critical systems to reduce their sensor signature to a minimum and try to coast silently away to lick their wounds. For one still agile this would have been a reasonable course of action, and could have stood a good chance. However those who attacked Astartes vessels were rarely found to be reasonable. The damaged ship started to come about to port, shielding its flank from further punishment with the smaller aspect of its more protected bow. The engines flared. “Captain Sir, they have altered course and are accelerating.” Came the call from the Operations station.
“Indeed, they mean to ram us and go out in a blaze of glory.” Commander Cairns assessed coolly. “Well I for one am one accustomed to granting glory to heretics. Fire Control; Port battery to fire at will if you please. As the range closes I expect to see every shot smash their bridge to scrap. I want their helm and navigation junked. Steer a steady course and increase speed fifteen percent.”
The Master of Ordnance set about to enact his captains will, liaising with the sensorium to refine his weapon’s targeting, and selecting firing order.
More punishment rolled out from the battle- barge and started the relentless process of chewing its way through the monitor trying to reach them. The ship had nothing left of its savaged front by the time a warhead struck true into the command deck, taking out the control systems and leaving it unable to zero in on the barge now opening its distance off the collision track. It powered past the warship’s stern and off into the great dark beyond.
In this time the second victim of space marine wrath had continued to be pounded by the Thunderhawks, and now its drives were a devastated ruin. Attitude thrusters fired but produced no more than nudging the craft about. It had been abandoned by its twin and now lay crippled and relatively helpless as multiple passes of the swift gunships had hugged the hull to deploy surprise missile strikes into gunnery bays and sensor masts before reaching their operational limits and powering back to their carrier. Desultory fire continued to patter out but without any coordination or concerted targeting it was more now an act of spite and defiance than a serious battle effort.
Up on the Last Judgment’s bridge, the crew all remained stood to and focused despite the clear advantage they now enjoyed.
The Master of Operations turned to his captain and awaited the next set of priorities to enact. Seeing Commander Cairns in quiet conversation with the Judge-Captain, he stood attentive and waited his turn. It did not do to intrude on the musings of command staff without a damn good reason. Eventually they parted and Drysden strode off the bridge. The Operations officer stepped neatly forward; “Flight recovery is complete of the two remaining Thunderhawks sir. Search and Rescue is ready to commence on the disabled unit at your say so. The crew report as some casualties and craft is disabled but stable. Firing solutions are locked for the remaining target.”
“Very good, you may commence recovery when assessed as safe to do so. We will not be firing on A49/1 at this time. We will be conducting boarding operations to gather intelligence and ascertain the reasons behind this assault.”
Drysden stalked along the passageway leading from the bridge, passing parties of naval security ratings with their heavy shotguns. He reached up to his mask and opened a channel to his squad leaders and the other executive officers who had gathered at key sections to secure against intruders in full battle rig at the first pipe of action stations.
“We have been attacked by ships of this system that should have shown us respect and deference. I will have out why. Prepare for boarding operations. I want that ship locked down for intelligence and prisoner-witness gathering. All intelligence is to be forwarded to the chaplaincy for processing and spiritual corruption assessment. For Order and the Lion my brothers. All reports to Battle Control HQ.”

Statistics: Posted by General Disarray — Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:20 am

2013-07-12T10:25:23+00:00 2013-07-12T10:25:23+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13539&p=326519#p326519 <![CDATA[Fiction • Advice from the master]]>
Useful stuff for those those of us with a creative bent. Also, he talks and explains things very well.

Statistics: Posted by General Misdemeanour — Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:25 am

2013-02-14T01:04:32+00:00 2013-02-14T01:04:32+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3775&p=325927#p325927 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Excerpts from the Fire Lords Saga]]> Statistics: Posted by Mordred — Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:04 am

2013-02-12T23:41:46+00:00 2013-02-12T23:41:46+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3775&p=325918#p325918 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Excerpts from the Fire Lords Saga]]> Statistics: Posted by Tim — Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:41 pm

2013-02-12T22:00:28+00:00 2013-02-12T22:00:28+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3775&p=325917#p325917 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Excerpts from the Fire Lords Saga]]> Statistics: Posted by drivebybaptism — Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:00 pm

2013-02-12T17:05:29+00:00 2013-02-12T17:05:29+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3775&p=325916#p325916 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Excerpts from the Fire Lords Saga]]> Statistics: Posted by jay170788 — Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:05 pm

2012-07-31T21:42:59+00:00 2012-07-31T21:42:59+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=13342&p=324116#p324116 <![CDATA[Fiction • "Tenth"]]>
What I remember most about Aphelios is the sky. Dark and tempestuous, always roiling and thrashing, a cauldron of boiling ink. Aphelios was a nothing-world, barren and monochrome. The air was thin and bitter, and burned even gene-blessed Astartes lungs. The Cult Mechanicus, secretive servants of the Machine God, maintained a few small research facilities at the planet’s poles, but apart from the skeleton crew of tech-priests and servitors, the planet was abandoned.

Well. Apart from them. And us; nearly three hundred Marines of the Aurora Chapter, the entirety of the First, Third, and Tenth, furious and beautiful in armour the colour of sunlit forests. We were the only splash of colour on Aphelios, knights of shining emerald, pearl, and onyx.

There would normally be no reason for us to come to Aphelios, no reason at all for us to set foot on this inconsequential, forgotten world. This day, we had a reason. We had an exceptional reason.

The Gilded Beasts embodied every secret shame of the Adeptus Astartes. They were renegades and maniacs, defilers of flesh and murderers of cities. They resembled us in the way that a shadow resembles the man who casts it – similar in shape, but twisted and distorted. Where we were bright and noble, they were dark and depraved. Where we stood in sacred duty, oathbound to the law of the Emperor, they were nothing but reavers and brigands, serving only themselves.

I remember thinking that infuriated me the most. I could comprehend – but never forgive – turning from the Imperium’s light in the hope of winning favour with the daemon-gods of the Warp. I’d fought the heathen sons of Lorgar, the First Heretic, and I’d seen them scream their prayers to the Ruinous Powers. The Bearers of the Word, Emperor curse them, had possessed ambition and yearning for glory there which I could, Throne help me, understand.

But turning traitor for base desires? To seize wealth and territory, to brutalise and enslave the weak purely for the sake of catering to their gross egos? The thought that an Astartes, a god amongst men, would lust for coin and flesh like common hive-scum was beyond contemptible. It was pitiful.

The Gilded Beasts were all that remained of the Golden Griffons, a once-loyal Chapter declared Excommunicate Traitoris a century before my birth. I wasn’t privy to what the Griffons had done to incur such judgement. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t much care. I doubted the story would be any different to the one I had heard a hundred times before, when weak men succumbed to pride, rage, or corruption.

Over the decades, we had skirmished with the Beasts and bloodied them as they launched assaults on settlements within our sub-sector of Ultima Segmentum, but we had never managed to extinguish them completely.

Not until Aphelios. The Aurora strike cruiser In Radiance Clad had hunted the Beasts across the void, torn the heart out of the Tarnished Crown – a cousin of the Radiance and as corrupted and hateful as its masters – and forced them down upon the surface. The Crown carved a three kilometre-long scar across Aphelios’s northern continent.

There was no telling how many of the Beasts survived, but estimates put their numbers at three hundred, plus another five to six hundred mortal followers. We’d seen escape craft leave the crippled ship and scatter across the surface of Aphelios. There was nowhere for the Beasts to hide, no cities of helpless Imperial citizens they could threaten. They were stranded, and they were vulnerable.

They outnumbered us, but we were superior to them in every other way that mattered. As a nomadic, fleet-based warband, the Beasts lacked heavy weaponry and armour, two things we Auroras have always had in abundance. In the Radiance’s holds, Predators, Razorbacks, and Land Raiders stood idle and waiting, their animus mechanicae as eager for war as we were.

First Captain Orath ordered a ground assault immediately, eager to wipe the traitors from existence. Logic called for orbital strikes so that we could resolve this quickly and precisely, but Orath’s mind was set, and we loved him for it. He knew we wouldn’t be satisfied unless we resolved this with bolter and blade, face to face with the Beasts who had hounded us and the Imperium for so long.

The Beasts had split into three groups, perhaps to increase their chances for survival. The largest group, nearly two-thirds of the Beasts’ total strength, set down in a bleak valley – the tectonic memory of some vast upheaval - and dug in, daring us to come at them head-on. Captain Orath declared that he would lead the main strength of the First and elements of the Third into them, and break them.

Another group diverted to an island chain around Aphelios’s equator. Captain Jerudan, venerable and decorated commander of the Third, would lead the remaining elements of the Third against the Beasts. Exemplar Aresadon, Champion of the First, Orath’s strong right hand, and leader of the Chapter’s most decorated Terminator squad, would accompany Jerudan.

The third group – numbering between forty and fifty Beasts and a large number of their human and mutant followers – landed in a rocky mountain chain not far from the fallen Crown. The terrain would render our armour ineffective, something that I’m sure that the Beasts had realised.

The third Aurora strike force was led by Ralhaas, Captain of the Tenth. He’d brought with him eight squads of Aurora scouts, a huge number of our senior novitiate strength. The scouts were top-level, one mission away from earning their Mark VII plate, and Aphelios promised to be a demanding final test of their skills.

The scout teams were ideal for the terrain that we would be heading into, but they alone would not be able to stand up to full-fledged Astartes. Therefore, Orath ordered that squads from the First – Vilaedus and Koriad - would accompany Ralhaas and give his light recon squads some much needed bite.

I was First Company, sergeant of Vilaedus. I’d commanded the squad for nearly two decades at that point. The squad was as old as the Chapter, and took its name from a hero from the age of the Great Heresy, one of the first-generation Aurora Marines who had founded, baptised, and led the team.

Going by the combat logs, I was one of the first Aurora to stand beneath that boiling black sky, one of the first points of light on that drab world.

It was a fine way to begin the last real war of my career.

Statistics: Posted by Tzaph 2.0 — Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:42 pm

2012-05-14T17:49:16+00:00 2012-05-14T17:49:16+00:00 http://www.golden-throne.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12642&p=323499#p323499 <![CDATA[Fiction • Re: Useful tools for the budding author]]>

Statistics: Posted by General Disarray — Mon May 14, 2012 5:49 pm