DIFFICULTY: EASY - 80% CHANCE OF SUCCESS MEDIUM - 50% CHANCE OF SUCCESS HARD - 20% CHANCE OF SUCCESS THE NUMBERS: THERE WILL BE TEN MISSIONS AVAILABLE. YOU MAY CHOOSE TO CARRY OUT 4 PLUS ASSUME DIRECT CONTROL OF THE FIFTH. THE BOYS: YOU WILL BE IN CONTROL OF AN UNNAMED FORCE COMMANDER (HENCEFORTH KNOWN AS THE NAMELESS ONE) AND MAY CHOOSE TO COMPOSE YOUR TEAM WITH (UP TO) FOUR SQUADS OF EIGHT MARINES EACH, AND KIT THEM OUT HOWEVER YOU LIKE.
CODEX ASTARTES: EXTERMINATING ANGELS FOUNDING: ROGUE, SPLIT OF THE BLACK TEMPLARS DURING GEONIDE CRUSADE CURRENT CHAPTER MASTER: UNKNOWN ORGANIZATION: CODEX ASTARTES STANDARDS - 10 COMPANIES - 1000 MEN BATTLE DOCTRINE: CLOSE-QUARTERS-COMBAT – ORBITAL BOMBARDMENT INSIGNIA: THE IMPERIAL EAGLE WAR CRY: IMPERATOR VULT! FORTRESS-MONASTERY: THE BATTLEBARGE “WRATHBORN” EXTERMINATUS ORDERED: UNKNOWN CURRENT STATUS: UNRECOGNIZED BY THE HIGH LORDS OF TERRA +++ DECLARED EXCOMMUNICATE TRAITORIS BY THE ORDO HERETICUS +++ +++ DECLARED EXCOMMUNICATE TRAITORIS BY THE ORDO MALLEUS +++ +++ DECLARED EXCOMMUNICATE TRAITORIS BY THE ORDO XENOS +++ WANTED FOR WAR CRIMES BY THE ADEPTUS ARBITES WANTED FOR WAR CRIMES BY THE IMPERIAL GUARD AND PLANETARY DEFENSE FORCE OF FOLLOWING PLANETS +++ RECORDS DELETED – PLANETS NO LONGER EXIST +++ THREAT RATING: HERETICUS TERMINUS
I do not remember where I was born. All I remember from there was the day the Tyrant Star came. The world was bathed in bright, black light. It should not be possible, but it was what I saw. Everything turned black, though this dark light still allowed us to see one another. And kill one another. All of them went mad. The planet's population was decimated in weeks. I remember seeing a small child, no older than me at the time, crawling in the blood of its parents and crying softly. I made to help it, and the child lunged at me with a shard of glass: it too was mad, its countenance horribly stretched into the mask of folly. I killed it; It was my first. Eventually the black light ceased and the Tyrant Star left, and I was the only survivor. Within weeks, an entire planet waged war against itself and won. I remember his voice, soft but emotionless, calling out to me. He said I had put quite a hex on the planet, laughing as he did so. That is where my name comes from. Later, he called me Ezekiel by accident. I took the name. I never learned who Ezekiel was. He seemed fond of me using the name. Soon it became normal for him to use it when talking to me. We were in Geonide when the Black Templars came. He used me as a scout: I was small and nimble, and could defend myself if need be. I had keen eyes and ears, and was able to gather information quickly and discreetly for my master. Inquisitor Silas Marr. He never told me he was from the Holy Ordos. I never asked. I don't think that at the time I even knew what the Holy Ordos was. I only heard it whispered, here and there, in dread. The Space Marines took me out of the planet along with my master. I watched as Geonide burned. Afterwards, I witnessed an argument between two of the Black Templars. They were shouting at one another, their faces brimming with holy fervor, or so I thought at the time. One of them turned and suddenly shouted at me: "And what of you, child?! Do you not think we should have killed them all? Saving a few, we risk damning all!" "A questioning servant is more dangerous than an ignorant heretic" I intoned, as my master had taught me. The Space Marine was furious and moved to strike me; his mailed fist would have left me a red smear painted on the wall of the ship. The other space marine stopped him. The one who had shouted at me stormed off in a rage. The other remained, knelt down, and asked me my name. "Ezekiel Hex" "I am Helbrecht, Ezekiel Hex. You seem to be a brave child. What were you doing down there on the planet?" I did not know. My master had not told me why we were there, nor why we had been evacuated. I was only gathering data, as always. So I picked the most obvious lie: "Purging the heretic." At this, the space marine let out a small laugh and led me to my living quarters on the ship. Later, he came to my master and asked permission for something. I could not overhear them talking. My master seemed reluctant to agree. They seemed to be bargaining over something. I could overhear the word "Deathwatch" a few times, since both of them spoke it loudly and with much conviction, but not much else. I was inducted into the Black Templars Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes at the age of twelve. My master did not come to say goodbye. I remained an initiate for a long time: The Black Templars believed in training through battle; they did not have tenth company scouts. I did as I was told and fought without fear. I would have liked to say I fought bravely, but courage is an emotion I have never experienced; I have never experienced fear. Eventually, my master came back for me. I was led away from the Chapter and made a member of the Deathwatch. I was much smaller than all of them. Though the gene-seed implantation was successful, I never grew to be as large as most Astartes. They handed me Scout Armor, and told me to scout. So I did. My master seemed to be their master, or something very much akin to it. By this time, I had learned to think for myself and to pay attention to the goings-on and connect the dots, as some say. I assumed that my master, whom I now knew to be an Inquisitor, was a member of the Ordo Xenos since he was able to requisition Deathwatch Kill-Teams. The other members of my kill-team told me it was not so: Silas Marr had requisitioned Adepta Sororitas and Grey Knights as well, and none seem to know to which Ordos he belong. He liked to say he was an Ordos all by himself, smiling coyly. I earned my moniker when we were sent to investigate a possible tombworld on the Segmentum Solar. I scouted a patrol of pariahs well ahead of my Kill-Team; I had never met a necron before and had no idea what they were. To me, the pariahs seemed flimsy servitors wielding bizarre bladed staves. I did not think to ask for reinforcements; they seemed so fragile. I engaged them in battle, and survived only by sheer luck. I dodged and ducked, my chainsword barely doing any damage against the necron's living metal. One of the pariah's swings was too wide and hit one of its companions, cutting it in half. I immediately took the fallen necron's weapon, so superior to my own, and finally could engage these creatures on equal footing. I came close to dying many times, but emerged victorious. Five pariahs lay dead at my feet, if such a word can be used to describe their...inanimation. I reported back to the Kill-Team with my Warscythe and my findings. They seemed impressed, but that mattered little to me. Pride is another emotion I have not had the pleasure of tasting. One of them asked how could I have kept the warscythe, since all necron equipment phases out as soon as their owners are defeated. I shrugged. I did not know. My fractal phase sword I acquired when a Callidus assassin tried to dispose of my master. I defeated the polymorphing creature and took its blade. Its edge seemed as fine as my Warscythe's. Eventually I was dismissed from the Deathwatch and ordered to return to my original Chapter, bearing Deathwatch Honours and my xenos weapons. My...former master kindly offered me to take me to one of the nearest Templar battlebarges in his Black Ship. I accepted. However, we veered off course due to a sudden spike in warp activity: It seemed an entire world had fallen to Chaos, and fortuitously a Black Templar battlebarge was hovering in orbit, preparing Exterminatus. I boarded a shuttle and went to the Battlebarge, without saying goodbye to the Inquisitor who had once rescued me from a dead world long ago. Upon stepping foot inside the battlebarge, I was seized by the same Space Marine who had tried to kill me just after leaving Geonide, though now he wore a slightly different armor and no insignias. He growled through his skull-shaped helmet: "What are you doing here, Black Templar? Have you come seeking our death or yours?" He immediately swung his Crozius at me, and knocked me off my feet. This was not the welcome I was hoping for. "Reclusiarch Jeremiah! What are you doing? That is a Battle-Brother!" Shouted an Astartes who bore the Crux Terminatus and wore no helmet. "He just left a Black Ship! He is an Ordos pawn!" "That may well be the case, but we should take the matter to the Brother-Commander" Answered Lorekeeper Helfrich thoughtfully. And now, here I am.
I was recruited by the Black Templars when they passed through the Malfian Sub-Sector in a crusade heading to Dusk, where the planet had been overrun by khornates seeking the legendary Haarlock Legacy treasures. I myself was a high-born son of a respected malfian family at the time, though my bloodline was what some considered less than pure: The Tainted Blood of Malfi, they called it. Cunning and treachery ran in our veins, or so I was told, but that didn't bother me much. Cunning and treachery had served me well while, as a small child, I survived a world of intrigue in the aristocratic courts with remarkable grace. My father was proud. He said I would soon be ready to be inducted in "the secrets". He talked of them in hushed tones, and I was eager to see what they were. But my education was entrusted to another man, one I had come to value highly: A former drill abbot in the Schola Progenium, father had hired him to instill in me the necessary qualities for both a strategian, a leader, and a skilled orator. What father did not know was that this drill abbot, a fellow by the name of Cain, was not a drill abbot at all: Though raised in the Schola Progenium, He was a former commisar in the Valhallan Imperial Guard regiment, and he had retired to Malfi to live a 'quiet life, but with some excitement'. He posed as a drill abbot, I suspect, merely to get into the good graces of the high-born families and their daughters. But he seemed to genuinely care for me. He told me many stories, and confided to me that he was terrified most of the time while in battle: He seemed to have a genuine distaste for violence and a vigorous care for the lives under his command. He repeatedly told me he was no hero, but his stories painted a different picture. He further taught me the value of cunning and a little bit of trickery, but instilled in me something of a more religious fervor: He said treachery and deceit should never be used for personal gain, but for the good of Mankind. He smirked while he said it, but I took it to heart. This man did not make me a zealot, but he did make me a curious scholar seeking the Emperor's Grace. I was enraptured by the ideals contained in the Imperial Creed, much to his and my father's distaste, though commisar Cain said I should choose my own path regardless of his. One day he was called away, and before we parted, he told me this "Remember...It is better to live for the Emperor than to die for yourself." I took these words to heart. I spent many days studying the Codices of the Ecclesiarchy, and though some of their ideas sounded backward and at times savage, I could see their necessity, and the truth of them. The Imperium was a dark place, besieged by all sides by Chaos and Aliens, ready to devour or destroy us if our will should falter for a single moment. One moment was all it took. A moment of laxity spawns a lifetime of heresy. As I delved deeper into books that no normal citizen of the Imperium should have access too, I became enchanted with the Emperor's Ideals for mankind. Peace through War. Security through Vigilance. This was what I had truly sought for: A purpose. I perhaps lacked the zeal of many of my compatriots, but I understood the necessity of their zeal. I understood the necessity of faith. It was plain for all to see: If we were not firm of purpose, we would fall to Chaos and mankind would be doomed. Sacrifices had to be made. On the very same day the commissar left, my father took me to his study and said he was ready to show me 'the secrets'. I was led through dark corridors which I did not know existed inside our mansion, and deep beneath the labyrinthine tunnels lay an altar surrounded by candles that gave off scents with the promise of pleasure and comfort. In the middle of the altar was something much like a bed, and around it sigils and engravings I could not recognize. My father told me to watch as he took one of his handmaidens by the hand and leading her to the bed, mounted her before my eyes, all the while both of them chanting unearthly melodies that filled my mind with forbidden, nay, heretical thoughts. Something answered their chant: A horned figure enveloped in smoke with a female silhouette, her ample breasts bare for all to see, stepped out of thin air and joined them in their unholy ritual. As they climaxed, all of them screamed the same word. Slaanesh. I fled. I was far more intelligent than my father ever gave me credit for. This was a summoning of unholy forces, though I did not yet know what they were. My own father was a heretic! He consorted with daemons. I could not let this lie...Though I was tempted to join them for a moment with their promises of earthly delights I could never imagine, I remembered commissar Cain's last words to me. Live for the Emperor. And the Imperial Creed. Purge the heretic. As the fire raged in the mansion with my father and his succubi still trapped inside, I looked proudly at the empty gallon of pyrum-petrol and the pilot light of the flamer my father kept in his armory. It was fate, I suspect, that led the Black Templars to me that very night. The Emperor works in mysterious ways. It seemed the commander of their task force, a chaplain by the name of Jeremiah, had been tracking down a slaaneshi cult for days in Malfi, believed to be linked to the Dusk incident. This would normally be the inquisition's work, but as I was told later, Jeremiah never trusted them much. As he found me staring at the flames that consumed my former home, he asked what had happened. And I told him. He gave me a hard, long look. After a long silence, he asked me if I would be willing die in the Emperor's service. I told him I would live for the Emperor as long as He willed it. This seemed to satisfy him. I was inducted into the Black Templars chapter of the Adeptus Astartes at the age of fifteen. And though my blood is tainted, my mind is pure. The Emperor protects.
"Rise, Heiliges Jeremiah of the Black Templars. Do you know where you are?" Jeremiah looked around. The sky was crimson and there was no sun. Pulses of reddish energy coursed through the surface he was standing on. "I am dead, and in Hell." "Yes, this is hell for you. Do you know who I am?" The Reclusiarch looked at the figure that had been speaking to him. It was a hulking shape fully covered by an ornate power armor adorned with spikes and skulls, bearing the livery and the heraldry of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. The speaker's face was obscured by a horned helmet, though the helmet was somewhat familiar to Jeremiah...He couldn't quite place it where he'd seen it before. "No." "Ignorance is the Emperor's gift to mankind. Do you know why you are here?" "Yes. Brother-Captain Ezekiel killed me. He betrayed me. He sided himself with that daemonic dreadnought. But I do not know why I am in such an evil place. I have been a devout man. In death, I seek only respite." Jeremiah tried to inject a measure of righteous anger in his voice, but it rang hollow in this unhallowed place. "Indeed. But the choice of afterlife is not yours to make. The Ruinous Powers saw fit to bring you back. Are you not pleased with this?" "No. I will rather die a thousand times more than to serve as a tool for the dark gods." "But you will never die again, Reclusiarch. Do not make the mistake of thinking I sympathize with the Chaos Gods. I was merely at the wrong place, at the wrong time. I have fought for an Imperium Undivided, and the dark powers of the warp are merely means to an end." "Then I shall strike you down where you stand, heretic, for you are tainted and not deservant of the Emperor's Light, no matter your treacherous motives." "I believe you will not, Brother. You do not have any power over me here, inside the Eye. But I can give you that power. I can grant you revenge against those who have wronged you. I can give you a chance to correct the mistakes your chapter has made ever since your tragic landing on Cadia. I can give you all of that." "Silence, heretic! I will not hear your poisonous promises!" "Ah, but you should, brother. You should. What is there left for you? The Emperor is dead. The Imperium must be forged anew. Is it not the time to bring the fires of retribution upon those who seek to undermine it at every turn?" "Do not call me brother, heretic. The Emperor lives. I will never sell my soul to your dark promises." "I am afraid he is dead, Reclusiarch. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, he is dead. You know this, though you do not care to admit it." The Reclusiarch's voice trembled with uncertainty as he spoke "And what if he is? His light shines upon us still. Do you think me so weak to give myself to the warp merely because my father is dead? I will carry on his work if he is unable to do it." "You will? You sound uncertain. No man can carry out a god's work. That is, no normal man. You are dead and trapped in the warp, to be toyed with by the whims of those whom you've fought your entire existence. Is this the destiny you desire? You will find no peace here. Nurgle will rot your body, Tzeentch will rot your mind, Khorne will call for your blood, and Slaanesh will devour your purity. That is what awaits you if you do not accept what I offer." "And what is it you offer...heretic?" "Justice. The punishment for treachery is retribution" Said Eliphas the Inheritor, Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers.
It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a Lictor.
"It seems that this mass of psychic emanations augments any sorcery I cast a thousandfold. We are almost entirely submerged in warpspace. This planet is like a second Eye of Terror." Said Ahriman. He had tried to seal the passageway behind you with a ball of warp fire only to be sent flying through the air, landing in a place of total darkness. Had you been an inch closer to the massive detonation, you would have been reduced to ash.
"Home for you, then, Ahzek. Can any of you see anything? My pict-sensors are not working, nor are my Auspex Arrays."
"Same here. And I have tried shooting a few plasma rounds, but they don't seem to illuminate the air." You answer from somewhere in the dark.
"I don't think it wise to try any kind of sorcery in this place anymore. So I'm as blind as you." Says Ahriman.
"Splendid. So, where are we?" Said the dreadnought, picking himself up and rising from the ground.
"Inside a place that consumes light. And we are not alone here. There is another mind. I think we are inside the Tyrant Star." Says Ahriman.
There was a suitably long pause as all of you considered the implications of this.
"So much for getting out of Cadia, then." Said the Lorekeeper in an emotionless voice.
You go north. You hear a sound in the distance.
"Sounds like...singing." Said Ahriman, in puzzled tones.
"I don't hear anything." Replied the Lorekeeper.
You follow the sound. You are still going north, or at least you assume you are. The voice seems louder. You hear slithering. There may be a Lictor nearby.
"There! Did you hear that?" Cried Ahriman.
"No, Ahzek." Replied the Lorekeeper uncertainly.
You remain silent. You continue on. Something is following you! You are now running away. You can hear your companions arguing in the distance. You can hear the creature closing in. You turn around and fire your pistol, aiming at the patches of sound. The singing voice stops its singing and laughs.
"I heard laughter! I know you heard laughter, Ignatius!"
"I don't hear...anything, Ahzek." Replied the Lorekeeper in a faraway voice.
You try to follow the voices of your companions and find them. You are unsure if you killed the creature. You make your way through the absolute darkness, feeling your way through the cold walls. They have the texture of glass. The voice resumes its singing.
"Where is the Space Marine? I don't think he's with us."
"He said he fired a few plasma rounds. I did not hear another word from him since."
You bang your head on a metal surface. A powerfist swipes you aside. You cry out.
"It's him, Ignatius! What are you doing?"
"How could I know? I heard some slithering before. It could have been a Lictor." Replied the Lorekeeper in an eery monotone.
"You said you had not heard anything!" Answered Ahriman hotly.
You think some of your ribs are broken. You get up slowly. Ahriman is mumbling something, you cannot make it out. You tap the Dreadnought in what you assume is its back and let him know you are all right. The metal under your fingers feels like glass. You hear more slithering nearby. You hear something scratching on glass. The singing voice says something you cannot understand yet you feel its words leaving white-hot trails across your mind. Ahriman cries out. You feel sick. The slithering is louder.
You can hear the Lorekeeper shift its weight, the metal bulk grinding the servo-motors of his damaged dreadnought shell. You hear a bolter shell exploding in the darkness. The singing rises in volume, drowning every other sound. You can no longer hear your companions. You are disoriented. You feel something warm splashing across your face. You can taste blood in your mouth.
Do you run away?