A small fleet appears in an Imperial system, tearing the warp open as they break back into real space. They hail from the Night Lords Legion and are here to search for slaves and potential recruits to join their endless war. For only the greatest can serve in the Night Lords Legion.
In the fleet is seven ships, one Battle Barge, three Strike Cruisers, two Avenger class Grand Cruiser, and one Gladius Class Light Cruiser. Each one has the emblems of the Night Lords Legion, the 8th Legion, the terror legion, the one that brought death to billions upon billions in the galaxy and given fear countless more.
The Battle Barge is known as the Sangzes Reiben, a ship built in the great ports of Jupiter in an age long gone.
I sit in a corner far from all the slaves working in the hanger bay, after 10,000 years. We are still achieve nothing during the long war. Yes trillions are now dead and countless worlds have burned for the Chaos gods, but really nothing has been gained. Each one of us has lost basically everything in an attempt to fight this war. I look back upon that cursed 10,000. I have lost all my battle brother during that period, my homeworld was gone. My Primarch dead, and our legion shattered. Was it all worth it I still ask myself every single day?
No, no I cannot doubt myself. I know for a fact this war and the heresy was worth it. The Emperor was going to kill us after we conquered the galaxy for him, just tossed away to be another footnote in history. The Night Lords would have been dead in every single way. Not even in the stories and myths of the Imperium just ashes in the wind. The worlds we conquered, the souls that had to suffer from us would have been for not when we are forgotten.
I stop thinking about all of that and look around to see the figures of Astartes, servants, and slaves working around the hanger. The Thunderhawks being kept shined and the Stormbirds engines being prayed on keeping the corrupted machine spirits happy.
Looking at a Thunderhawk being cleaned I see a mutated mortal working on. He has two large horns coming out of his head, his arms seem to be buffed out and you could clearly see the vein and arteries with my enchanted Astartes version. Each one is just filled with blood, delicious blood.
I go back to thinking of my old squad before I go on a killing rampage again, and I could only give myself a deep sigh. For those memories is all I have left from the Great Crusade and the years afterward. So little to hold on to, if only if only.
I then get up leaving the hanger bay. As I walk down the corridors everything lays dark and only lights are from passing slaves from the dark hall I slowly walk through the battle barge to my quarters. Each step seems to last forever as time seems to stand still.
I look at a brother Astartes and nod to him. He can clearly be seen to be corrupted with large horns coming out of his shoulder blades ending up making a cracked heart. His bolter was given an almost reddish taint with it seemly having screaming souls trying to get out trapped inside of the bolter. I then look away to not be drawn to him and continue on my walk.
When I reach my quarters I sit there silent removing my helmet and lay it on my table. My jet black hair comes out and I do a quick fix to make sure none of it gets into my eyes. Slowly I sit in the center of the small room I call my quarters and start to meditate, thinking of what is to come.
This will be the planet, this will be the time where I will have to find another member to join my Claw. I cannot believe it myself. It has been 5,000 years since my last brother died against the Aeldari.
Continue the meditation in my room for the next few hours. The silence giving me an almost peaceful feeling as the screams of the mortals I have killed echo in my head. So many innocents killed, so many lives taken. I keep this up until a knock could be heard. That could only be one person, my personal slave.
“Come in,” I say then my servant Vesta, comes into the room. She is a 15-year-old girl, born from the bloodline of our destroyed homeworld. Nostramo, what a place that planet was.
“My lord” she does a curtsy. Her black hair and pure black eyes seem to just fade perfectly in the background of the darkened ships. I hear her breathing as well as she slowly closes the door. I could almost sense the fear in her, even after all of these years she is still afraid of me. I shake my head in disapproval.
“Hello Vesta,” I say my voice echoes the small room.
“It is time for the planetary assault master” I hear her quiet voice against my booming one.
“Fine, follow me.” I sigh and stand up and mag lock my helmet and grab my weapons with Vesta following behind me as I walk slowly to make sure she can keep up without needing to run. Just a small thing to make her life easier I say. As if it can be easier. This isn’t really the best of lives. Maybe I should just drop her off in a world we pass by in order to give her real life. I take more than a moment to think about this and find myself all of a sudden standing right in the middle of the path blocking a squad of cultist infantry. Shaking my head I push my way through the group to meet with Vesta who is on the other side.
Vesta looks at me with a curious face, “My lord you are distressed aren’t you?” She then tilts her head a little to show a hint of confusion, or is it wonderful? I honestly lost track of those emotions over the years.
“Of course Vesta, when am I not? I have done so much wrong, please be specific.” I would say.
“About this mission, are you reflecting about your… friends?” Her reply was sweet but you can tell there was a little worry about me attacking her. I tend not to do that anymore but I can understand her feeling. I wasn’t always so, nice.
“Yes,” I told her. It was a half-truth if anything, I am always thinking about them, but that is not my main worry.
She nods her head in respect, “Do you wish to talk about it?” The young girl would say
“No, not this time, ”those words would say all that is needed to be said.
“Alright my lord, thank you for answering my question my lord,” Vesta would say respectfully.
I slowly move my powered armored gauntlet to her head and I pat her like a dog. Giving an awkward smile she tries to act like it is alright, but you can see in her eyes she was in pain.
Us two continue to walk our slow walk through the Battle Barge of the 8th. We pass by the normal sort of characters you find on a ship like this. Each one all normal once you get used to being around here.
An example of this will be a mutated follower of Slaanesh we pass by. His arms are less flesh more metal now. As for his legs or leg? It is merged to make him look like a Naga, one of the half snake half human people. The chest section is now covered with scales with the navel being a place where tentacles come out. Although the face might be the most mutated with it just being a painful mess. With the ear on top of his head, the lack of a nose, two mouths, and eyes. Damn those eyes, that are both bee and human at the same time. Everyone blink just seems to make it switch.
From that point, my slave and I continue walking to reach the hanger bay. Always silence, it is almost to perfect for me sometimes. The quiet is something I do enjoy yes, but it is still meaningless to me. It just does not give me the feeling as if doing it with brothers. We would always have a little fun on our way to the dreadclaw, or any other mean of transportation from ship to whatever we decided to attack that day.
“I have another question master,” my slave then would break the silence. Her voice echoing down the hallways of the ship.
I do a low growl at her as if in anger, although really inside I am partly relieved that the silence has been broken. “What do you want slave?”
“Do you wish to find new recruits, my lord?” Her voice was fearful after hearing me growl. Almost fearing another one of my beatings. The terror in it pleases me to some level but also saddens me. She shouldn’t be scared of me. Vesta has been with me eight years now, and she even has a necklace telling this girl is my property! She should know that she is my first slave in am age.
Finally, after a long moment of pause, I say, “If they are strong yes. This is a loyalist recruiting world after all slave.”
“Thank you for answering again my lord,” the fear start die down in her voice. Good, for a moment I thought it was about to get worse as well.
Another five minutes pass and I take a large sigh. This is taking too long, “You walk slow slave.”
“Yes, I apologize, my lord,” she says looking at me. Damn those eyes, they are just. They remind me of something I just wish I knew what those eyes tell me.
I then after the moment passes groan, and pick Vesta up. Her weight being nothing to me as toss her for a moment to adjustment myself. Once I do I catch her and then carry my slave as a parent would do to a baby.
“Thank you for carrying me my lord,” she says to me.
“Like always Vesta,” I reply secretly doing a smile under my helmet. Now only if I could tell if that smile was real. They are almost never, but I hope that one was real.
Vesta looks down the hallway to see slaves and soldiers pass by many looking to see this odd picture. An Astartes carrying a mortal girl, always a sight to see. I then look down to see her face blush and an awkward smile comes out. “No matter how many times we do this I still don’t feel that this should be allowed, my lord”
“Well then maybe you should walk faster then, slave,” I say to her in a, what is that word? Playful? I am not sure.
After our “chat” I go to a run. With my slave trying to keep herself from getting sick and having another incident in the corridors of the Battle Barge. Now we are making real time.
I keep on this run until we reach near the hanger bay. The noise is the most obvious indicator of what is going on. From there I set down my slave on the floor her head still spinning from the ride she just had.
“Master, may I request a…” she falls as she tries to get up. “Master, may I request a warning before you do such an action?” She then tries to get up again this time making it and placing herself on a wall.
“No,” it is not as fun, I then add in my head.
My slave then finally manages to adjust herself and look at my helmet. She really does look like someone I know. Damn it, I need to stop thinking this. It is this all the time. My slave has been only with me 8 years out of 10,000. She has no rights and is nobody that I may know from before.
“Now let us get moving into the hanger bay slave,” I tell the girl. And I then go into the main part of the hanger bay, with Vesta behind me trying to keep up. With a look back I see her eyes wandering to all the surrounding. From the aircraft, to workers, to Astartes, the girl is always curious. Then I notice she pull out her necklace that tell that I claim her as my slave. It gives out a small shine as the it gives out a breath to the world. On the necklace is an emerald with the carving of a crying wolf.
Vesta stop after about halfway and waits for me behind one of the Thunderhawk gunships. From there I walk to where the rest of the 14th Company is lining up in the hanger bay. All waiting for Captain Ezrath to come and shot his ass off once again. Looking I quickly count everyone here as I wait in the back of the company. 70 Astartes, including me, oh how our numbers dropped over the last 10,000 years. Very few remain from the heresy now with many being a more recent inclusion into the 8th Legion.
After that, all I do is wait. We are lacking discipline anyway, there is no need for the strict protocols of any normal military anymore. For a few minutes, I am there many try to talk to me. All with some sort of goal, the main is, of course, asking me to join their Claw for I am the most skilled at the in the blade in the whole Warband.
I cast away all request of joining their claw and attempts at duels to prove that they are better than me with simple hand gestures. One who tried though got fairly close to me so I had to do the classic armored punch to the face to get the Astartes out of the way. A rather pissed off Night Lord Claw Master now angrily stomped away. Great, now I am going to have to duel him.
After a few more minutes of this pain, I see a horn call out as Captain Ezrath of the 14th Company appears guarded by two power ax-wielding Astartes. Not the most graceful of weapons like my swords but it will be hard to deny the effectiveness of such weapons. His small group walks to the front of the mob, yes that is a good word, a mob of murders.
The man, if that word can be used like that, start to talk. Well, I say rant but you get the point. I like Ezrath and all, he was my Claw Leader before he became captain post heresy, but by the Dark Gods does he talk a lot. It is the ever classic, KILL, SLAUGHTER, BURN, CAPTURE, etc. Chaos worshipper’s usage of words is not amazing as you might know.
Well while this all happened I decided to go through all data we managed to take from the Alpha Legion about this planet. I started to read the information that has been given to me. Hoorloth is the name, Feudal world population 20 million… The standard sort of planet really with most of the population on a single one of its many land masses. It is fairly easy to see why we are going searching for an easy target.
Next, I took a look at planetary defenses. Nothing, outside of the PDF and of course the recently built Black Templar outpost. Knowing my luck I will toss into the fighting there and somehow be expected to kill whatever small force lays there. Not like I couldn’t pull it off but killing untrained Astartes is just too easy. And I do not like going easy.
I start to notice that Ezrath the loud mouth has finally stopped rambling and that the company started to scatter. With each claw going to find their way to Thunderhawks, Storm Eagles and what other sorts of troop transports. The cheering and talk of slaughter between brothers gave me a strange feeling in my chest. Sighing I was about to leave as well until I heard my name being called.
“BROTHER SAMUARK, THE CLAWLESS, THE SWORDMASTER AND ONE OF MANY TITLES,” Ezrath shouted at me from about five meters away from me.
“What do you want Captain Ezrath of the 14th Company of the Night Lords Legion,” I would reply back in a mocking way.
He seemed to have not noticed and continued talking. “I will put you with the Raptors of 6th Claw, and 9th Claw to take the Black Templar outpost. I trust you will help lead them to victory and slaughter!” For once he seemed to have dropped volume.
“Sure, although I say just send me in and I can take care of all of it. I do not trust some over barring zealot over my skill at simply not being noticed.” I reply mocking the more “newer” Claws, although, by all means, the oldest of them is 5,000 years old at this point. Bloody 37th Millennium bastards. Trust me they have the easy life of raiding and slaughter.
“Nonsense! They will help you in this mission since they will be providing you with the perfect distractions. And if you are worried about getting killed, I heard that the guardians are rather new to their job. “Recent” recruits to the Templars, easy to see how desperate the Empire is now eh?” He would say, also a rather low volume, must be using the mufflers in his helmet. Goes to show how important the mission is. The seizing of geneseed and the hunt for the acolytes of this outpost is too important to be over heard by eager to prove Astartes.
I nodded my head and then away now to feel Ezrath’s right power armored gauntlet touch my shoulder. “Final thing brother, you have to take one of the acolytes under you. You have to rebuild your claw now. I am not for one of the best swordsmen in the Legion to die without passing any of his skills. And this is an order, not a request Samuark, so understand what must be done.”
I was about to say something is decided not to and without even looking back I left to prepare for the fight. I had a moment to think about the thought. A brother, an Imperial Fist of all Legions. They were my cousins, by all means, even the heresy won’t change that. It just seems so strange still, I would rather not do this but I think I am trapped in a corner now. Never was ordered like this before, maybe with the Eye opening and times finally changing I should change as well.
I realized I was most likely over thinking all of this. I then bump into Vesta causing her to hit her head on my power armor due to how fast I was going causing her to fall to the ground. I just look at her as she tries to get up. You know I should probably pick her up or something? Is that what I am supposed to do? I then decided yes I should pick her up. Though when I reached my hand all I did was punch her in the face since she already was up causing her to fall down….. That was not planned.
“Ouch!” Vesta screamed in pain as she holds onto her nose which received most of the punch. “Why must you do this master?”
Without even taking a moment I said what I always say to victims I torture. “Because I enjoy it.” …… Did I? Nevermind I must run with this mistake.
Without saying anything she got herself up again and had a frightful sort of look. This is what I get I guess. I can never understand these mortals. So many emotions that seem to have so little meaning. I always hear emotions like happiness, excitement, envy, and love. Oh, love that one truly does disgust me. Love is meaningless, for only the ones who ever need such a thing are the ones who fell. The irony of it is that they should have been loved long before they have died. For only after death is people truly loved.
After she gets back up I took a look at her again. “Vesta we will be here on the planet for a few days if not weeks and will be setting up a camp. I need you to get on one of the first landing ships the cultist is going to take and set up camp,” I say.
“Yes master,” She said still covering her nose making her voice muffled.
I now walk away to the Stormbird where both 6th and 9th Claw are waiting for me. The 15 Astartes cheer in their standard war cries as they see me approach them. I hear things like, the clawless has come, Samuark Angst champion of the 14th has come! The standard, by all means, I have gotten used to this sort over the years. The youngers love me for some reason. I can never truly tell why.
Walking inside the Stormbird I hear the alarms go off saying that we have are now preparing to make planetfall. A planetary raid, which number is this again? Thousand? Ten thousand? Hundred thousand? I have lost count over the years. I then seat down on one of the many seats inside as the other two Claws slowly enter as well.
Waiting for a few minutes as the tech priest makes a final pray, I listen to the sounds of the Stormbird. Inside you could, of course, hear the two claws. The loud chatter of blood, victims, and battle always make the young ones happy. I use to be like that as well. Although my old claw use to talk of honor, glory, and doing the right thing.
Ignoring the claws you could also hear the engine of the Stormbird. During the Crusade, we called this one, “Draining the Light.” Now, of course, we do not call it such a thing anymore. For names on these machines have slowly become pointless when they are slowly being mutated. I could already feel the chair being almost flesh, not the metal it was originally made out of. It would soon change into something else, something alive and daemonic.
After spending more moments listening to the sounds around me I then hear the alarm inside the Stormbird ring. Ready for blood, ready for war. The engines then suddenly flare too life as the Stormbird takes off. A second was all it took for the beauty to go into the void and slowly make its way onto the planet,
Now the most painful part of it all. Waiting. I took another moment to check my surroundings under my Mark IV Helmet. The sounds echo in my ears as I catch the chatter of the two claws. Well, chatter might be a hard word to use for the mindless screams and rants the two units ended up doing. Blood for the Blood God seemed to be the most common thing said for some reason. Shaking my head I decide to turn off all sound in my helmet preventing me from hearing the pointless rants.
I really wish I could say it worked, all it did was block out half of the sounds coming from the Astartes. I wonder now if Ezrath only did this to annoy me? Why out of all the Claws I get a Tactical and Raptor Claw? Why not 5th Claw, they are a Havoc and Tactical lead by the same Clawmaster as in the days of the heresy. I would rather have them than any other one. Even the 10th a now Slaanesh worshipping Claw would be better than this.
I do my best to ignore the mindless chatter until I hear the alarm going out again. The talking now stops as the Raptors of 6th Claw stand up as the door opens. First, each one readys their chainaxe, chainsword, or whatever else they are using as a melee ready.
Next as always, their range weapons. The Raptors go by the process of checking their bolt pistols, plasma pistols or bolters, grabbing whatever ammo they can from the Stormbird. The careful procedure would make you think these are Loyalist and not the Traitors that they truly are.
Third the most important of all, the jump packs. 6th Claw grabs the jump packs from inside storage compartments inside of the Stormbird each fitting them on one by one. These jump packs are all given a different look. From your basic horns to beautifully well-crafted pieces of art that must have taken weeks if not more to complete.
Fourth, the seven Raptors lineup for the jump doing final checks to their gear. The words ready could be heard six times as the Clawmaster demands his men to prepare for the jump. Each of the sevens’ voices booming inside the small Stormbird.
Finally, now you can hear the sergeant yell the orders to jump. I now watch as the Raptors jump in their twos. The first two almost gracefully jump as you can hear the sounds of their jump packs roar to life to adjust for air current. The next two do the same as the true perfection of their art is shown off. The same goes for the 5th and 6th Raptors of 6th Claw. Then you had the Sergeant, who of course made his over the top. He decided to walk back and slowly fall down the Stormbird letting gravity do its work.
I check my clock to see how much time it took them to do the whole process. Ten seconds, little slow but not too bad overall I would say. I have seen Loyalist taking twice as long, having to follow their ever so faithful “Codex Astartes” as if that would ever do them any good. Just an excuse for Guilliman to flex his power, not like I haven’t seen him do it before the heresy. And with his new Empire, I feel he will want to do another show of power over all.
The alarm then goes again as I feel the Stormbird slow down for the landing. Standing up now I walk to the still open door, gripping one of the handlebars. I let my filters open as I feel the rich in oxygen air. Now, this is a planet I would want to stay for a while in. Not like that industrial hive from the 13th Black Crusade we had to burn down for the Warmaster.
“AVE DOMINUS NOX!” I then shout at the top of my lungs as I the Stormbird comes to a sudden halt. “WAR FOR THE CHAOS GODS,” I jump out of Stormbird, landing upon the concrete of the small Black Templar outpost. So it begins, my hunt for another brother.