Ultramarines Legion breacher squad. Breacher shield and gladii arms courtesy of @boilingcopper. Thanks, man.
Breacher insignia on their right pauldrons is freehand, legion insignia on the left pauldrons are decals. Heads mostly from Ultramarines upgrade kit, except the guy with the high-top fade whose head came with the Mk3 squad I ordered for their bodies and whose radical 90s hairdo is greenstuff.
This was a project I started about a year or so ago and I had nearly lost when my computer hard drive died. Sadly I never went back to it and even now I just get the urge to redo it after spotting some things that nag me.
丅hey were early. He often heard them coming before he saw them, the sound of heavy boots echoing down the halls towards his solitary cell. For years he had been a man condemned, imprisoned alone within his own section of the Black Cell. By his estimation, it was two bells before the day’s first meal and the sun had likely yet to rise. No others existed down this corridor due to Wilhelm’s unique temperament and his disposition for violence. This was not a trip to the mines, so far as he could tell. Too early for that too and he knew Imperials enjoyed keeping to their strict schedules.
ᗩ beep as the magitek doors unlocked and slid open with the hiss of compressed air, and in walked a rather large and imposing individual. Wilhelm did not move, his viridian gaze sliding up to view this striking figure. “Romulan.” He addressed the man informaly and did not stand to strike an Imperial salute. What more could they do to him here if he did not? He’d seen it all in the five years he’d been incarcerated.
cold stare was directed downward, and the temperature within the room seemed to drop considerably with the chill found within those inky black depths. And then, the ice seemed to break and the monstrous pureblood’s lips peeled into a faint smirk. “Wilhelm.” The expression was reciprocated on Wilhelm’s end and Romulan turned to pull a chair and sit in front of the Ala Mhigan.
ᗝbsidian optics viewed their surroundings. Scratches within the wall seemed to indicate the days. Math equations and calculations did too in white chalk. While there were no explosive capabilities to what existed within these walls, many small machines had been created. Hand held items that did very little save exist as digital displays and figurines. His bed had better sheets than what was typically offered. His room much more accommodating than would be the norm for a common prisoner. It instead looked more akin to a hotel space than a cell. “I see you’ve received a VIP status.This seems more holiday than anything else.” Romulan observed, chin lifting as he directed his icy gaze back upon the Imperial.
“ᗯhen you’ve friends in high places, there’s very little that can not be done. My resources are limited these days but even here, the mind must stay sharp." Wilhelm offered, knees drawn to his chest, his shackled wrists hanging limply over them. "It seems you have all except your freedom.” The Tribunus stated. This was not a question, he knew Wilhelm’s predicament.
“ᑎo.” The man agreed, lips drawing into a thin line. “Very little can be done on that front when you’re taking the blame for something you have not done. I’m lucky to even be alive.” Romulan’s stare was a critical one, and a studious expression crossed his stately features. “So the rumors are true.” he concluded. A shift of the giant’s massive form had the towering Tribunus leaning forward, weight on his thighs where his forearms were balanced. “I suppose it helps to have those friends in high places. I’ve been told someone stayed the decision to have you cut dead. A pity that would have been, given all you’ve contributed.”
ᗯilhelm’s green optics narrowed. “So I’ve heard.” Wilhelm was not without his connections either. A resourceful man, it took more than a magitek cell to keep his cunning contained. Finally, the question came forth, for the anticipation of his old friend’s presence was considerable. “Why are you here, Romulan?”
ᔕable eyes continued to make their hold on the emerald chromas of the ala mhigan. He did not answer right away. Perhaps he understood the concern of the man sitting before him. Finally, he answered. “There’s more work to be done.” It was as simple as that but the Tyrant spoke further. “Project: Loyalty is in a state that can no longer be tolerated. Desertion is frequent, and we lose more subjects than we keep. This is counter-productive to my nation’s cause.” Plated fingers squeezed into a fist with his passion, and Romulan’s lips pursed further.
’ve taken command of this establishment, in light of further treachery. Tiberius had been hiding information of his incompetence from his superiors and they caught wind of it. I’ve been sent to shape up this sad mess of an organization.“ Wilhelm nodded, and replied with a sardonic grin. "Then it seems we’re all in good hands.” His tone was off. The situation of his past six years was a bitter one. “But what does it matter if I am stuck here?” The counter inquiry, which prompted Romulan to smirk.
ᗩh, but surely you must know already, Wilhelm. I want you to work for me. Redeem yourself and stand by my side. I intend to claim back what is owned by my beautiful Empire, and subjugate or dispose of the defective units. I need your help to do this. Your brilliant mind created me, and many others. Your work, unparalleled. Your efforts, diligent. Intelligent. I can see no one directing the head of our recovery assets, nor anyone capable of supervising what is left of the science division.” The Tribunus paused to run his hand against the shaved sides of his head.
ᗯilhelm did not skip a beat. “What’s left?” he inquired in a rough tone, to which Romulan’s reply was swift. “I have cleaned shop.” The Ala Mhigan had not expected anything less. The Tyrant’s reputation was formidable one. “What’s next then?” The deep voice of Romulan was reproachful. “I’ve compiled a list of assets and deserters that need to be recovered or disposed of. Frumentarium is on the move as we speak.” A rolled up scroll was then presented to the sitting prisoner. Wilhelm’s eyes scanned the document once he’d accepted and unfolded it, and a few names stood out to him almost immediately.
ᗪisposing of some of these individuals would be a waste. Perhaps we should simply….see where they go. It would give us an idea of where they retreat, and likely lead us to more points of interest. And people.” He tapped the paper. “Ashdale. I know of this name. A young prodigy. His sister was…gifted. Same for Marks, and Savillius. I’ve worked with them all. A pity they’ve come to disappoint.” Utilizing those fleeing as a tactical advantage was something to consider and Romulan did not deny the possibility. Following them was certainly something that could be done, and he filed it away for later thought.
ᔕtill, suspicion existed and Wilhelm glanced up. Trust was not an easy commodity to gain from the man, and truthfully he didn’t trust anyone. This was all too good to be true, and despite Romulan’s promises, they were still here, within a cell and Wilhelm had not been given the opportunity to leave just yet. “But…?”
丅here was an indeed a caveat and Romulan’s grin turned to a grim press of lips. “I can not completely absolve you of accused sins, despite the treachery of the one whom convicted you. While I am of the opinion that any credibility Tiberius has had is deniable, I can not let my biases rule me, old friend. Not with the current state of things. Your trial awaits.” Wilhelm was silent, his gaze lowering with thought. Eventually, his eyes drew up to meet the Tyrant’s. “Very well. What must I do?”
ᖇomulan’s expansive bass was cheerless and held a sense of finality to it. “In order to serve, you must survive.” Wilhelm’s visage was equally humorless and grave, as he understood both the reasoning and the implication.
I’m about to undertake a very big summer project! With Legion coming up and my undying love for night elf lore, I’ve decided to compile a very in-depth look at Highborne (including Nightborne) life pre-Sundering. This does not, however, necessarily include a detailed description of Highborne culture as it does the components and their history that make up Highborne life (see below for my unofficial list of topics). Since it looks like it really will be a massive, long-term project, I will be releasing my individual “findings” in increments, but also larger posts combining them under the umbrella topics found below. Thus, I will be tagging these as my, “Highborne Lore Project” for all interested in keeping tabs.
Highborne cities/palaces and their ‘purposes’ under Azshara’s rule
The members of Azshara’s court
Number four is absolutely my biggest undertaking because it means I also have to research naga and high/blood elves in order to glean the composition and size of Azshara’s court. While the latter changed their surnames in transition and could even be extensions of existing Highborne family, I will insert them with their existing surnames.
Absolutely feel free to tell me if I’m missing anything, contribute, or otherwise ask if you would like to see something because I’ve got nothing but time coming up soon to dedicate my life to everything Highborne! (shoutout to @handmaidenoftheempress for her Fish Friday’s because goodness knows those will be so useful)
Note: I have not acquired a beta invite, and thus while I will do my best before the release of Legion (…unless I get a beta invite) to compile information on Nightborne and related relevant information, I may not be able to get as much of it as I can! In a way, that is why this project extends through summer and into the release of Legion.
Thanks to @sisterofsilence for her constructive criticism and loaning me Tribune Arlette Augusta Amon Rakaposhi Gorro, her amazing and badass female Custodes. Did I mention she’s the Emperor’s Equerry?
“Let’s go over this again traitor. Your legion was exchanging gene-seed data with the World Eaters and successfully produced Gene-Seed that combined traits from the World Eaters and Emperor’s Children Gene-seed that could theoretically could produce a stronger Astartes with a minimal chance of implant rejection. Correct?” Kal said softly.
“That’s correct.” Titus said.
The Emperor’s Children’s face was a mass of precision knife cuts courtesy of Boian. Haar had broken his nose again.
“Why’d you combine World Eaters Gene-seed with your own legion’s? Wouldn’t it taint your “Perfect” Gene-seed?” Boian asked.
“On the contrary, The World Eaters Gene-Seed was most suited for the augments we wanted to add and the accelerated implantation in hosts. In addition it had the lowest rate of implant rejection after the Sons of Horus and Iron Warriors, both which were rejected due to difficulties in combining the samples. Chief Apothecary Bile decided that the World Eaters gene seed was perfect for this project.”
“What role does to that girl in that stasis coffin play in this little project of yours?” Haar asked.
“She is someone my master has been looking for a very long time. You see, before we found her, this project was all theoretical. To borrow a mortal phrase. A wet dream. But you see Ruri and I found this girl when we were attacking a world.. She was the daughter of all some imperial noble Daken killed and her genetic profile indicates she is a perfectly compatible match to our hybrid Gene-Seed.”
“You don’t mean to-
“ Oh yes, she would be our first test subject. The Blade of Chemos was supposed to pick me up and take the girl and I to Master Bile’s workshop. He was to supervise her implantation personally. And considering the girl is young and healthy, with excellent physical traits…”
Haar put the pieces together.
“I remember a time when your legion would condone such acts.” Haar said
“My legion?” Titus said incredulously “It was Gahlan Surlak, Master of Induction for your legion who proposed the project to Master Fabius.” Titus said.
Haar was silent.
“We’ll have some more questions for you later.” Haar said.
“I won’t be going anywhere.” Titus said.
Haar, Boian and Kal left the cell.
“I can’t believe the traitors really are that desperate.” Boian said.
“Of course they are. With the loss of Bodt to Autek Mor and his Iron Hands and the heavy casualties they regularly sustain, our former brothers will do anything to keep the legion’s numbers up. And Horus knows every Astartes he loses is one he won’t have at Terra. The bastard knows the scales are balancing out. “ Haar said.
The three strode through the hallways of the the Tyrannis. The Tyrannis’ hallways were empty. When they weren’t in battle, the mortal crew was sleeping like the dead.
With the exception of Ella who shot them a glare that could bore through Terminator Armor as the three Astartes walked into the apothecarium.
“Remind me why I’m here again and not in my nice warm bed?” she asked out loud. The Flag Captain was clad in a plain white slip, wool slippers and an oversized fur shawl. He hair was free of the braid it had been for hours and her blood red locks tumbled past her shoulders in a messy sprawl.
“ Because you are a woman, Flag-Captain. The trauma this girl probably endured means she might have a rather violent reaction to four Astartes.” Apothecary Danek said as he checked the readouts on the old cogitator that was hooked up to the stasis coffin.
Like Haar and Boian, Danek had been inducted long before the Twelfth Legion became War Hounds . Danek was dark of skin, and his face a mix of scars, stitches and burns. What patches of hair he had leff was sloppily cut, almost like it had been done with a combat knife.The good apothecary was missing his right ring finger and his left eye was a bionic. His right eye was the the red rimmed one of someone who had spent a good portion of their career around rad weaponry. His body was all but broken, held together by artificially replaced organs, bionics and a desire for vengeance. The right side of his throat was a partial augmetic due to phosphex burns . This also had required the removal of his Betcher’s Gland. The lower right side of his chest was all bionic organs and metal ribs. One of his three lungs and part of his Osetic kidney had been blown to bits. One lung was partially collapsed and kept working because of a device attached to his chest plate that pumped oxygen directly to it. His Multi Lung had been poisoned by radiation and Death Guard chemical weapons. One of his Progenoid Glands had been destroyed as well. His right shoulder had a Rotor Cannon round embedded in it. His body, his right leg in particular was a mass of tumors from aggressive cancers. Worse his Larraman’s organ was slowly breaking down and not healing his body as quickly as it use too. His Mark III Power armor was as broken as his body. He had long disposed of the right gauntlet and he had replaced his right shoulder pad with a piece of Scout armor. His left thigh-plate was held together by two crossed chains. His left Pauldron was carpeted with molecular bonding studs and there was plenty of cracks that had been filled with solvent. Deep gouges covered nearly every surface of the armor and much of the original black paint was now gunmetal grey. Dried blood dotted the armor as well.
Erud said he would repair the armor one day, but he had never gotten around to it.
Danek limped over to the Cogitator, the right leg joint of his armor sparked a little bit.
“We’re readyEndryd.” Danek said.
“Do it.” Haar said.
Danek nodded and pressed a switch .
Steam hissed and pistons fired. The cover of the Stasis-Coffin retracted .
“Vitals are green so far. Brain activity is speeding up. Her core body temperature is rising .” Danek said.
The girl rose from the coffin like she was waking from a nightmare. Her eyes, a deep brown the color of freshly tilled soil or chocolate darted around the room .
‘“Where am I? Who are you?” she said.
“Calm yourself child. We mean you no harm.” Danek said in a soothing tone.. This was rather difficulty, as a throat ravaged by cancers and partially augmetic didn’t lend itself to a comforting voices.
“Can you tell us your name?” Danek asked.
“It’s Vesta sir. Vesta..”
The girl put a hand to her head.
“Headaches?” Danek asked.
“Yes sir. I’m sorry, but I can’t remember anything. I don’t even remember my last name. “
“That’s alright. I am sure your memories will return in time. I am Apothecary Danek. The other Astartes you see are Praetor Endryd Haar, Chaplain Kal Jakar and Sergeant Boian Traven. The woman is Flag Captain Ella Thylin.”
“I. It’s nice to meet you. Forgive me for asking, but I don’t know what legion you’re from.”
“We left our legions behind us. We are Blackshields. Space Marines who remained loyal to the Emperor and the Imperium while our brother became traitors. “ Haar said softly.
“ Traitors. I remember the Emperor’s Children. They and the World Eaters came to- “ Vesta put her hand on her head.
“ Don’t worry about trying to remember Vesta. We’re going to our best to help you. Can you step out of the coffin?” Haar asked with a gentleness in his voice that surprised himself.
“ Yes. “ She rose and then paused.
“Apothecary Danek, do- do you have some clothes for me?” she asked timidly. Vesta wrapped her arms across her developing chest.
It was in that moment that the three Astartes and Ella realised the girl was naked.
“ I knew I was forgetting something.” Danek said.
After Ella wordlessly handed Vesta her shawl. Kal had gone down to the supply a room and returned. with a set of grey robes and some boots. The robes didn’t exactly fit, but they would do until they could get her measured for some better clothing.
Danek had given her a physical, taken blood and tissue samples and pronounced her in good health. Albeit partially amnesiac . He also explained why the traitors wanted her.
“ Your memory must have wiped before they put you in the Stasis casket. Probably in the misguided notion that it would reinforce your hypno-indoctrination. Which it does not. I can’t promise your entire memory will return, but some should come back to you over time.”
Kal and Endryd had then taken her to the cafeteria and watched her scarf down a surprising amount of food. It was quite amusing to see, as Vesta was trying to be dainty and have good manners,while trying to get as much food in her mouth as possible.
After that they the taken her to the Tyrannis’ seamstress, Philone. Philone had been a civilian, an old woman whose world and husband had been lost to the traitors. She sewed and mended the garments and assisted in other duties aboard the ship. She was a fine old lady full of wisdom and had a tongue as sharp as a Chainsword.
Philone took some measurements and soon had seven robes produced for Vesta.
Unlike Vesta’s ill-fitting and baggy grey robe, the robes Philone spun for her,were made of the same beige cloth meant for a Remembrancer’s robes and fit her perfectly.
“You’ll fit in just fine at Terra.” Haar said.
“Terra!” Philone exclaimed.
“ We need to speak with Lady Arlette Philone, the traitors want Vesta and we need to plan a course of action . “
“You’ll need a better outfit if you’re going to Terra girl!” Philone said. She held up a strip of purple cloth and scrutinized Vesta.
“The robes you made me are fine Lady Philone.” Vesta said shylly.
Philone glared at Vesta. It was a glare that even Haar found intimidating.
“Nonsense Vesta! You’re meeting with Lady Arlette herself! She’s aTribune of the Legio Custodes You need some much more regal looking than that! Besides I’ve been wanting to make something nice for a long time. Especially since the Flag-Captain won’t let me make anything nice for her.”
“You do know the Flag-Captain doesn’t appreciate your unsubtle attempt at finding her a date.” Kal Jakar said.
“Hmph, mark my words, Ella will come down here asking me to weave her something nice for a date she has with some nice lad or lass, maybe even an Astartes. Throne knows this ship is big enough to them to find a place to have a date and -”
“We do have a twelve year old present.” Kal said.
‘It’s alright. I know what she’s talking about. Ms. Thyln is a nice lady, i’m surprised she hasn’t found someone yet.” Vesta said.
The three Astartes stared at the young maiden.
“I’m an amnesic twelve year old girl, not an idiot.” Vesta said.
It was agreed upon by Haar and the Blackshields that Vesta should have her own room in the Astartes quarters. There had been an unused room right across from Haar that she could use. This also was so in the unlikely event they were boarded Haar and the others could quickly defend her. Plus if she needed medical attention, Danek would be close at hand. The cot was sized for an Astartes, and Vesta declined an offer for a human sized one.
Vesta had a pillow, a brown wool blanket and a thick quilt that was a mosaic of colors. She lay there for a while. Then she had fallen asleep rather quickly.
Unfortunately her dream that night were anything but pleasant
“My lord the walls have been breached. The traitors are now inside the capital,” Lord Marshall Marcus Quintus said.
Vesta’s father Justinian Augustus, Imperial Governor of Byzas Longa, sighed.
He asssesed the tactical hololiths., sighed again and looked at her and her brother.
“Theodosius! Look after my children. Get them to the starport. The time has come for me to meet Horus’ whelps blade to blade.”
Theodosius, Captain of the Praetorian Guard made the pre-unity salute. He was a huge man. A Gene-enhanced man like the rest of her father’s bodyguard. Some in the court whispered he had once been a Thunder Warrior.
The five members of the Praetorian Guard were clad in Void-Hardened Carapace Armor. They carried Volkite Chargers and had power weapons sheathed at their side.
“Father “-her brother, Trajan began.
“You and your sister look after each other Trajan. And do not cause mischief for old Theodosius,” he said, his tone light as he unsheathed his Paragon Blade
“You’re going to your death father.” Vesta said
“You have your mother’s bluntness Vesta. Yes I am. I will not cower in my palace while these traitors slaughter my people. And someone must rally the remaining militia and Solar Auxilla to buy time for the last of the civilians and yourself to escape.”
“Vesta you and your brother, are my legacy. Children like yourself will be the future of this Imperium. As long as you live the fires of the Imperium will keep burning. The heart of mankind will not be snuffed out by Horus and his ilk.”
“I love you both. I cannot tell you how proud I am to have such wonderful and intelligent children. I know you both will accomplish great things. “
Vesta could tell Trajan was holding back tears.
Justinian smiled and hugged them. Than Theodosius led them the underground escape route in the palace..
Vesta never saw her father again,
The traveled for about 10 minutes underground, although it felt much longer to Vesta. They climbed up a ladder and emerged just outside the starport. The small warp-capable skiff lay a few meters away.
Vesta heard screams and the sound of Bolter and lasfire in the distance.
She drew her Volkite Serpenta, it’s weight a comforting presence. Trajan drew his Power Sword.
“Greetings.” a rich cultured voice said. The voice belonged to an Astartes. An apothecary of the Emperor’s Children. Standing next to him was another apothecary clad in the blood stained white and blue colors of the World Eaters. Behind them was five Palatine Blades of the Emperor’s Children and ten World Eaters Tactical Marines.
The Praetorian Guard leveled their Volkite Chargers. Trajan didn’t stand in front of Vesta, which was good. She didn’t want her overprotective brother blocking her line of fire.
“ Allow to me introduce myself. I am Titus Phovian. You must be Justinian Augustus’ children. You should be proud. He slew three of my Palatine Blades and five World Eaters before Centurion Daken removed his head.” the Apothecary said in an oddly polite tone.
The World Eaters apothecary signaled to his men .
The ten World Eaters charged, Chainaxes raised high.
Theodosius and the Praetorian Guard cut half of them town with their Volkite Chargers before they got into melee range. Theodosius killed one with his Power Axe before they hacked him into pieces. Two members of the Guard took another with them into death’s embrace . That left three to charge the two youths.
Vesta dropped one with a clean headshot. The second one took two shots to the face before his twisted soul left his body.
The third Eater of Worlds met his end at Trajan’s Power Sword. Trajan had rammed his sword deep into his throat.
He withdrew it and shook the thick transhuman blood off the sizzling power field.
“That was unexpected. “ The World Eaters Apothecary said gruffly.
One of the Palatine Blades stepped forward and Vesta shot him in the chest. He fell to ground with a thud.
“Who’s next!” Vesta shouted. She sounded a lot braver than she felt.
The World Eater Apothecary charged them. He was a blur as he raised his Chainaxe. Trajan lunged forward, his Power Sword held in both hands.
The Apothecary’s blow sent Trajan’s Power Sword skidding out of his hands. He struck Trajan with the back of his chainaxe. The blow sent him flying into the ground . He did not rise again.
Vesta leveled the Volkite Serpenta at the apothecary, before a hand wrapped around the back of her throat and lifted her up. The Volkite Serpenta slipped out of her hands.
She grunted in pain as she felt a needle dig into her neck. She heard the device on Titus’ gauntlet chime .
“ Ruri my friend, today must be our lucky day.”
“What are you talking about?” Vesta said.
“You. Don’t worry my dear, Ruri and I going to take good care of you. “
Before Vesta could question him further, Titus extended his Narthecium. She felt something sting her neck. Then everything went black.
Vesta woke up screaming. It all had come back to her. The death of her world Her time in that monster Titus’ hands. Watching her brother be turned into a mindless killing machine. The needles and tubes as Titus poked and prodded at her. His cruel whispers and how his hand would stroke her hair .
She sobbed. Part of her wanted to hold her tears back, but she couldn’t. She cried and cried and cried.
When she ran out of tears to shed she rose and wrapped the brown wool blanket around herself and stood up. She walked out of her room and found herself standing outside Haar’s door. Without thinking, she knocked on the door.
Haar answered. Unlike Vesta, who wore a blue nightgown and had wrapped herself in her blanket, Haar was naked but for a loincloth.
Vesta couldn’t help but stare.
Haar’s physique was amazing, even by Astartes standards. Regular combat, rounds in the fighting pits and long gymnasia sessions during interstellar voyages had has left him with a body any mortal and more than some Astartes would kill for.
Vesta blushed. Haar just stared.
“ Can I sleep with you tonight? I… I don’t want to be alone.“ She asked.
“Danek said this might happen. I’m assuming you had a nightmare?” Haar asked.
“Did you memories return?“ he asked.
“Yes.” Vesta said. She looked so frail. The blanket she wrapped herself in dwarfed her.
“Do you want me to wake Danek? am sure he has sleeping medication.” Haar asked.
“No! No sedatives. I don’t need them. “ Vesta said with a fierceness that surprised him.
Haar felt something like pity but he squashed the feeling. To pity this girl after all she endured would be disrespectful.
Without a word he let Vesta in his quarters.
Haar’s quarters were plain. There was a cot, foot locker, and rack for Haar’s wargear. The World Eaters were never big on ornamentation and any trappings from Haar’s former legion had been removed. The large desk and chair that had been sized for an Astartes had not been used for some time.
Haar made room for Vesta on his cot. She snuggled close to him and in seconds she was asleep.
The voyage to Terra was three weeks. Vesta spent much of her time helping crew members with various tasks aboard the ship. Her free time was filled with medical check ups at Daken’s hands, being fitted for various clothes with Philone and reading. The Tyrannis had a rather nice library and Vesta enjoyed the solitude it offered. Kal Jakar and Boian often joined her. Kal asked if she wanted to go to the Mass he held aboard the ship, Vesta went a few times out of politeness, but the Lectitio Divinitatus didn’t really appeal to her. (She did remember her father turning a blind eye to it on Byzas Longa.)
Boian often made jokes. Sometimes really dirty ones that made her laugh so hard she cried.
And then there was the fighting pits.
While the Blackshields utterly rejected their previous legions and traditions, including the spoken and written languages they once used, old habits died hard. Many of the Fangs of the Emperor. Were former World Eaters, and sparring was a good way to vent anger and grief. In addition it, settled conflicts and rivalry and was good for morale. The mortal crew loved to bet on the fights.
The arena was a section of the vehicle storage bay that had been unused for quite sometime. Empty ammo crates formed a ring. Chairs and other empty crates acted as seating for the spectators. . A few jars of olive oil that had been borrowed from the kitchen had been laid out for those who wished to anoint themselves before a match.
Kal Jakar was refereeing. Karanthus stood beside him ready to intervene if a match became to the death rather than to third blood.
Vesta liked watching the matches. It was interesting seeing an astartes fight. The spectacle, the brotherhood. The jokes and curses, all were entertianing and so interesting. .
Vesta’s seat, nicknamed the “Kathisma” or royal box, by the Blackshields was two ammo crates stacked atop each other with a blanket laid atop it. It gave her an excellent view of the matches.
Right now it was Boian and a Blackshield named Gorrivan, were sparring. Gorrivan held a chainsword in one hand, a chainaxe in the other. Boian held a Power axe. Both warriors wore loincloths and their. Gorrivan had already taken two blows. Boian was untouched.
Gorrivan made an overhead swipe with his chainaxe while simultaneously stabbing with his chainsword. Boain sidestepped him and raked his power axe across his back.
“Third blood.” Kal Jakar said.
Gorrivan growled but the two shook hands.
“Next time Boian.” He growled.
“Of course.” Boian said with a smile.
“Who’s next?” Boian called.
As Vesta observed the next match. As she saw these transhumans, these living weapons cheer laugh, and curse. She wondered, what had made them a family? These men were all from different legion’s, different cultures. Was it because they were outcasts? Was it because they had stayed loyal and true when others went astray? Was it all of it or none of it?
Vesta could have asked, but she was content to wait. Something told her that she would get wildly different answers. It would be better to observe and interact with these men, these pariahs and she’d find the answer herself.. After all, with her world and family dead, she was like them now, an orphan of war and betrayal.
Humanity’s cradle. Humanity’s mother. Without her the human race would not exist. Without her, the Legiones Astartes would not exist.
Terra was the most important world in the Imperium of Man. No other world rivaled it in its splendor or glory.
Being the impending target of Horus’ invasion Terra was now a fortress world. The vast fleet of the VII legion, the Imperial Fists, circled it like wolves. Thousands of vessels of various classes, from corvettes and frigates to the Five Gloriana class battleships that surrounded the Phalanx, the massive vessel that the Imperial Fists called home. A circle of orbital defense stations and star forts ringed the planet.
A single Storm Eagle gunship descended. It bore no markings apart from the scars of war and the old bloodstains on its hull. It was black as night itself.
“Our clearance code has been accepted.” Fabius said.
Haar surveyed the people he brought with him.
Blackshields didn’t have formal Command Squads and these were a rather rough honor guard. They sure as Hell wouldn’t pass a parade ground inspection.
Harr had has brought Danek, Boian and Kal Jakar. Vesta had come as well. She looked more like the noble she was rather than the scared waif they had awoken from a stasis coffin.
Vesta wore a white Stola with Grecian style sandals. In addition, she wore a purple Palla with a freshly polished Aquila clasp. Haar noted it was an older one that clutched lightning bolts in its talons. Her hair was unbound and her brown hair fell nearly to her waist. She wore no jewelry and had no makeup, but she was beautiful. Perhaps more beautiful the so called “nobles” of the Imperial Court.
“Nervous?” Boian asked.
If Vesta was nervous she hid it well. She didn’t fiddle with her clasp or fidget. She looked straight ahead.
“A little. I mean this is Terra. And we’re going to the Imperial Palace ” Vesta said.
“Trust me it get’s boring after a few visits.” Boian said.
Kal Jakar looked like he was going to launch into his “This is Holy Terra, the birthplace of our species” rant, but he remained silent .
Haar looked outside the viewport and scowled.
“Aella is late.” Haar said.
“She is a little girl.” Kal Jakar said.
“The ligo aetes are never late.” Haar sat.
“There’s always a first time for everything Endryd.” Boian said.
“Little eagles?” Vesta asked.
“Custodes in training. They’re mostly young children, but there are a few around your age or older.” Haar supplied.
“I’m surprised you know Grecian.” Danek said with a cough.
“Byzas Longa, my homeworld spoke a dialect of Grecian before the coming of the Emperor, It was still used in court along with High Gothic. My father would switch to it in the middle of a conversation to help me and my brother learn it.” Vesta said in perfect Grecian.
“Well i’ll be damned.” Boian said with a smile. Boian smiled a lot. It gave him an opportunity to show off his Iron teeth.
“Your soul already is.” Kal Jakarsaid in a voice as dry as the desert he was born in.
The two laughed as the ramp opened and they stepped out of the Storm Eagle.
They paused when they came face to face with a Legio Custodes. He stood between them and the entrance to the Inner Palace. The Custodian’s body language indicated great displeasure, though in Haar’s opinion, most Custodian’s body language indicated great displeasure.
“Halt.” The Custodian said.
Haar paused. He recognized that voice.
“We are agents of the Imperium and we come being news for Lady Arlette.” Haar said.
“Your kind are not welcome here Blackshield. Neither is the girl you bring.” Diocletian said.
“Why do you deny us passage? We are both warriors of the God-Emperor and we bear the blessing of your Tribune.” Kal Jakar said.
“Silence Word Bearer. The Emperor has forbidden the referral to him as a God. Speak that word again and I will remove your head from your body.” Diocletian said.
In hindsight. Kal Jakar shouldn’t have mentioned the God-Emperor, but Diocletian would have stopped them and made the threat. anyway. The Prefect was quite frankly, a dick. Haar knew he did not trust them, and he had probably delayed Aella with some meaningless task like retrieving headlight fluid for the Grav-Rhinos. Haar honestly no idea why Diocletian had delayed them or why he disliked them. You think the Emperor’s own Equerry vouching for them would give them some slack. Haar was pretty sure Malcador’s band of misfits didn’t have to deal with this.
Haar decided he had enough. As much as he wanted to rip out the Custodians spine, he’d settle this with words.
“Praetor.” Haar said with all the cold rage and authority he could muster.
“I’m sorry?” Diocletian said.
“My rank is Praetor, Prefect.. You may also address me as Reaver Lord if you prefer. We report directly to Lady Arlette and the Emperor himself. While you are well within your authority to stops us. I believe your reasons for stopping us are personal and not for security reasons. My brothers and I have stayed loyal while our legions turned traitor. We are willing to sacrifice our lives for this Imperium. Not for honor or glory, but for duty and vengeance. This girl you so casually dismissed,has suffered more than any girl her age should have. She has lost her family and her world. The IIIrd legion plans to do unspeakable thing to her. Our own brothers and our primarch’s betrayed us, soaked their blades in our blood. And you dare question our loyalty! You dare to question our honor and commitment to this Imperium! To our Emperor!”
Diocletion was about to reply, but Haar cut him off.
“Now I want you to stand there Prefect Diocletion, in that golden armor of yours and extend some fracking courtesy to myself, my brothers and this girl.” Haar said.
Haar had a feeling he wanted to draw his Misericordia and strike him down.
Than the sound of scampering feet was heard.
“I’m so sorry!” an eight year old voice said.
A blur of red and gold dashed pass Diocletian.
“It is alright Lady Aella.” Kal Jakar said. The Chaplain made the sign of the Aquila.
Aella was a young girl, a few weeks shy of her ninth birthday. She wore the red with gold trim robes of the Legio Custodes Her hair was a black and silky,and she wore it in a braid with a silver and jade hairpin.
“Lady Arlette sends her compliments Praetor Haar. I’m here to take you to the Tranquil Courts.” Aella said in an imitation of a rather regal and important sounding tone.
Aella looked at Vesta.
“Hi! I’m Aella! What’s your name?” Aella said this with all the enthusiasm an eight year old girl possessed.
“Vesta.” Vesta replied.
“You’re very pretty. I like your Palla.” Aella said.
She turned to lead them to inside.
“Aella,could you wait a moment. Prefect Diocletian needs to tell me something.” Haar said.
“Sure!” Aella said cheerfully.
Haar looked at Diocletian.
Haar could tell Diocletian was gritting her teeth beneath his helm.
“I apologize for my rudeness Praetor.”
“Not just me.” Haar said. He gestured to Kal Jakar.
“I apologize for my unkind words, Chaplain. I hope I have not offended you.”
“Think nothing of it. The Emperor’s blessing be upon you Prefrect.” Kal Jakar said. He made the sign of the Aquila. For politeness sake, Diocletian returned it.
Diocletian turned to Vesta.
“You don’t have to apologize to me, My Lord. It’s a honor to be here.” Vesta said.
“You’re too kind for your own good, girl.” Danek said with a laugh.
“We’re ready to proceed Aella.” Haar said.
Aella smiled, waved goodbye to Diocletian and led them into the Imperial Palace.
The Tranquil Courts was perhaps the only part of the Imperial Palace not fortified. An eye of peace and beauty in a storm of iron and stone.
Tribune Arlette Augusta Amon Rakaposhi Gorro was waiting for them in a spacious patio.
Arlette was a rather striking woman with brown skin and black hair that stopped at her shoulders. She wore red robes with fur and gold trim. She held an old graphite pencil in her hand.
The square table she sat at was carpeted with paperwork.
The table style was one he did not recognize. Although, Haar did not an Emperor’s Chilrdren or Thousand Sons, skill in recognizing furniture. It was strangely low, and her seat was directly on the ground
She looked up from the parchment she was scribbling on. Writing implements of various types lay in easy reach. Everything from pencils and various types of pens to monoquills.
Arlette smiled at Aella as she bowed.
“Hello Aella, did Diocletian delay you?”
“Yes my lady, Prefect Diocletian was grumpier than usual.” Aella said with a pout that was more adorable than annoyed.
“It’s probably because we’re here,we’re not exactly good little boys compared to Dorn’s little builders.” Boian said.
Aella giggled and Arlette smiled.
Haar gestured to Vesta.
“Lady Arlette, this is Vesta Augustus, the heir to the Imperial governorship of Byzas Longa.”
“She’s a friend of ours.” Boian said.
It’s an honor, my lady.” Vesta said with a bow.
“The honor is mine, the Emperor and I enjoyed our time on Byzas Longa.” Arlette said.
Haar watched the two women make eye contact.
This was not merely the meeting of two women, this was the meeting of two queens.
One who was young and recently crowned, ready to take her throne and do her duty. The other, older and more comfortable in her role. One who had done all her king and subjects asked for and more.
“Aella could you bring my guests and I some tea?” Arlette asked.
“Yes ma'am. What kind of tea do you want?” She asked.
“My usual.” Arlette said.
“Black.” Haar said.
“Lemon, one cream, milk and two sugars.” Danek said
“Black with three sugars.” Boian said.
“Green tea.” Kal Jakar said.
“Black, one sugar.” Vesta said.
Aella scampered off.
Arlette gestured for them to sit.
Haar sat directly across from Arlette. Kal Jakar sat to his right, Boian on his left. Vesta sat next to Boian, while Danek sat next to Kal Jakar.
Aella returned with a platter laden with mugs of tea.
Haar caught the whiff of cinnamon as Aella distribute the tea.
Haar sipped his tea. After months of recycled water, the tea was a rare treat. He could tell his brothers and Vesta enjoyed the tea immensely.
The woman who saved his life enjoyed her tea immensely as well.
Some compared Arlette to the Roman goddesses Bellona, or the Grecian goddess Pallas Athena, but no such comparison could be made in person.
She was beautiful in her own unique way. She radiated an overwhelming power and grace that rivaled, even surpassed, a Primarch. No one could stand before her without to urge to kneel and prostrate themselves. No one could draw a blade or Bolter to harm her without dying. Either at her hands, or the Emperor’s himself.
She was, in many many ways, the ideal woman.
Haar knew that if it wasn’t for Arlette’s backing of the Fangs of the Emperor, they wouldn’t have been able to inflict so much damage on the traitors. The Tyrannis wouldn’t have been able to be refitted and resupplied. The Sigillite would not have shared his Intel. The Fangs now had an opportunity to die a glorious death that would be remembered by loyal and traitor alike.
“I trust your mission was successful?” Arlette said.
“The Word Eater’s 126th Company has been informally disbanded and a plot that could tip the balance in the traitor’s favor has been discovered. “
“And what does this plot entail exactly?” Arlette asked with a sip of her tea.
“Unsanctioned Legions Astartes implantation and indoctrination methods, tampering with blessed gene-seed and the utter damnation of the souls.” Kal Jakar said.
“What Chaplain Jakar means is that the Emperor’s Children have created enhanced hybrid gene-seed designed to maximize the positive traits of both World Eaters and the Emperor’s Children with a high compatibility rate and a minimum chance of implant rejection. They are also enhanced via genetic data and sample recovered from Blackshield Astartes referred to as Chymarie. Lady Vesta here was to be first test subject. We recovered one of the apothecaries responsible and we’d like to transfer him to the Silent Sisterhood. for interrogation.”
“We’d also like to arrange for protection and sanctuary for Vesta. We also need some more supplies and a couple of fresh crewmen. “ Haar said.
“ The first request I can grant. The second I must deny. The Ten-Thousand must remain at the palace. Like the Sigillite and the Knights-Errant, we are fighting our own Silent War and the casualties have not been light. I cannot spare the Custodes. The Emperor’s safety cannot be jeopardized While there are those in the Imperial Court who could provide sanctuary, Alpharius and his sons are here on Terra, until Rogal deals with them, her safety cannot be guaranteed. A moving target is harder to hit, so Vesta will stay with you. As for supplies, the Hall of Weapons is open to you. Perhaps while you restock, you could find some weapons for Vesta here as well. In addition, if your looking for crewmen, many refugees have gathered in the Petitioner’s City, seeking to join the Imperial Army and Navy. I’m sure you will find willing recruits.” Arlette said.
“Thank you My Lady,” Haar said
“You’re welcome Endryd.” she said with a smile.
Haar rose and brought his fist to his chest in the pre-unity salute.
Arlette returned it.
The Hall of Weapons was like a toy store for an Astartes. While the Fangs could not access the sections reserved for the Custodes and the Silent Sisterhood, there was still plenty for them and their young companion.
Weapons were kept on racks or held in shining stasis-fields. Crates of ammunition were stacked under the racks.
“I could spend decades in this place.” Boian said with a childish grin. He had taken a Phobos-pattern Bolter and about nine clips from one of the racks.
“I don’t doubt that.’ Kal Jahkar said.
Haar hadn’t touched anything, but he had watched Vesta as she browsed the racks.
Vesta had immediately grabbed a Volkite Serpenta, but she had stopped at a collection of swords. She hefted a chainsword and placed it back. She ignored the large two-handed weapons. She paused at the knives and grabbed a Power Knife sized for a mortal and a Chainknife. She also grabbed a Digi-melta and slid it on her left ring finger.
She was smiling the whole time she had done this.
This was the first time any of them had seen Vesta smile.
She looked around some more and went to a small collection of blades and pistols in stasis fields.
She paused in front of a gladius in a stasis field.
“Blade.. Of the Hearth?” Vesta said reading the High Gothic inscription on the blade.
“Looks like an Albian Power Gladius, Shadrak Meduson has one of those. Some officers in the Fourteenth used to carry those.” Boian said.
“A few in the Seventeenth did as well.” Kal Jakar said.
Vesta pressed the key to disengage the stasis field and gently grasped the blade.
It came free from it’s stand with a soft shunk noise.
Vesta gave it a few swings and made a stabbing motion with the blade.
It was in that moment that Harr saw Vesta in a different light.
He now longer saw her as an amnesiac waif or a young noblewoman.
Now she was a warrior-queen.
Now she was ready to take her vengeance on the traitors who stolen everything from her.
And Haar and his Blackshields would gladly fight by her side.