Warhammer: 41K

by root

The Emperor is dead. The Golden Throne is silent. The Astronomican has darkened. The Cadian Gate has been overrun by the Despoiler, and the entire sector has been lost. The Imperium has fallen.

Warp travel has been disrupted, and the Eldar have fled to their craftworlds, fearful that without the God-Emperor's shield the Devourer will soon find them. The galaxy is in uproar. Sector-to-Sector communication no longer works; The Administratum has been fragmented. The Adeptus Astra Telepathica have managed to sustain local network communication-and-guidance relays, but they are erratic and most ships that venture into the Warp are lost to it. The Imperial Guard no longer serves a purpose; they do not know what they are guarding.

The Imperium is at its knees, crippled, headless. The High Lords of Terra scurry around like ants without a queen. Many of the Astartes Chapters don't even know what is happening; their battlebarges too few, too far. The Inquisition itself has been dealt a deathly blow; without its information network, heresy runs rampant. The Tyrant Star has been sighted far from its sector of origin. The Techpriests in Mars have succumbed to holy fervor and now openly worship the Omnissiah as a separate entity from the Emperor, and say it lays in the bowels of their planet.

In the gloom of space, there is no hope. No shelter. There is only war. But it is a war without form, a war amongst shadows. No-one knows where the first blow will hit, from whose hand it will come. The scattered worlds of the Imperium stand in dread as they await their destiny, the corrupting influences of Chaos already manifested en masse.

Yet Chaos itself is weakened; something other than the Ruinous Powers roams the Immaterium, and the Traitor Legions have been battling a formless terror ever since the Emperor's demise. Not even the Gods themselves know what else lies in the coldest, deepest darkness of the dead stars that lie half in this world and half in the next.

In the grim darkness of the 42nd millenium, there is only horror.
ACT 1:
Brother-Commander's Journal, 998.M41
ACT 2:
ACT 3:
ACT 4:

ACT 1:





Navigator Barenziah gazed once again at the cyclonic torpedo and viral bomb load counters; he was worried that he might be using them again soon. Word had already spread throughout the galaxy that this Chapter had ordered more Exterminatus than any other. The Navigator was none too pleased with the Chapter's split from the Black Templars, but he was the Navigator assigned to this battlebarge and a member of the Imperial Navy, and there wasn't much he could do. Not against the Astartes. Especially not against this Chapter of the Astartes. He glanced at the astropatic chorus at their cell. They were bound in chains engraved with holy sigils, and seemed to be always twitching in pain. Not a common practice in the Imperium.

He signaled the Adeptus Mechanicus to take over the navigation controls and surveyed the warp currents ahead with his third eye. They were unusually calm, and the path to the Cadian sector was clear. They would be there in days, perhaps hours. The Brother-Commander of the Chapter stood at his side, his brown-black armor without any insignias apart from the imperial eagle, looking idly at the dials and holoscreens that filled the ship's bridge. The navigator resumed his duties, wondering if the Inquisition was actually pursuing them. Sometimes they were just empty threats. But it payed to be on guard.

Barenziah thought about their mission. He knew the Gothic Fleet had assumed control of the skies over Cadia, but the Despoiler's armies were in complete control of the ground. The Brother-Commander had volunteered his chapter immediately to spearhead the counter-attack, counting with the orbital support of the Imperial Navy. Other Chapters signaled that they might be inclined to help, but not openly, because of their Chapter's current status. He doubted any chapter apart from the ultramarines would help. The Despoiler had amassed the greater part of all the Traitor Legions to help in his last crusade, and without a general mobilization of the Imperial Regiments even one or two chapters of Space Marines wouldn't make much difference. Still, they say doubt begets heresy, and heresy begets retribution. The Navigator shivered at the thought.

He was the first to feel the psychic blast, and rocked in his chair, grunting in pain. The astropaths started screeching and clawing at their chains, sores erupting over their skin and oozing. Their hollow eyesockets gleamed red, and the Brother-Commander, without a word, put a bolter round through each of their skulls. He looked at the Navigator, seizing in agony, and aimed his bolter. Barenziah croaked "The astronomican is dark..." before falling out of his chair, and meeting the end of the Brother-Commander's boot on his skull. A red mist was filling the bridge, and the entire ship seemed to be groaning, as if the metal itself was screaming in agony.

The Brother-Commander looked at the panicking techpriest, and barked:


"Sir I...I don't know. The Gellar Field is failing! The navigational systems are short-circuiting. Perhaps we've hit a warp storm but there's nothing on the sensors...I can feel the machine's pain, but I cannot soothe it, it screams, it is falling apart! We are doomed!"

The Brother-Commander collar-grabbed the techpriest and snarled at his face:

"What are the options, techpriest?"

"Sir, w-we can maintain course to the Cadian Sector...if the gellar field holds until then, we might be able to reach it, though I know not where we'll land, and I don't think the ship will hold...or we can disengage the warp drive and hope that we re-emerge somewhere safe!"

Do you...

Disengage the warp drive and pray that you end up somewhere suitable? One cannot fight heresy if one is wholly consumed by it! To travel in the warp with a faulty gellar field is more than a fool's errand, it is a suicide of body and soul. Let us live to fight another day!


Do you stay on course, gellar field be damned! The Emperor shall spread his wings over us in our time of trial. Our zeal will get us through this. Our mission is to retake Cadia from the Despoiler, and if we fail at that, we might as well be dead. Onwards to Cadia and Victory!





The Brother-Commander gave the order to the techpriest to maintain course. The techpriest intoned the credo of the omnissiah and issued the commands to the machine spirit, which responded badly. The ship started swerving madly from side to side, all its components creaking in unison. The red mist grew to a thick crimson fog, enveloping the insides of the ship entirely. The texture of the walls began to change appearance, becoming oily, wisps of crimson light sparkling from its surfaces.

The Navigator's corpse rose, its skull misshapen and one of its eyes hanging out of its socket, and started chanting something uncomprehensible. The brother-commander unloaded his entire bolter magazine on it, but the shredding of its tissues seemingly had no effect. The creature hung in the air, its various mangled parts maintained together by the pulsing crimson fog. It launched a bolt of purplish energy at the brother-commander, searing his face, and the brother-commander drew his chainsword and charged.

At this moment a squad of Battlebrothers stormed the room, bolters at the ready. The Brother-Commander ordered them to charge, and they complied gleefully. The burst of bolter rounds reduced the brother-commander's body to a smouldering pile of bloody organs. The squad immediately gathered around the thing that once was the navigator, and kneeled before him. Crimson sparks earthed themselves in their armors, while they took in the unholy blessings of the warp. They seemed unaware of the techpriest.

The techpriest, realizing now that the situation was hopeless, tried to disengage the warp drives, but to no avail. The machine spirit had been corrupted and was under the control of the Ruinous Powers. The techpriest now faced a dire choice: he could either detonate the ship entirely and let the abominations perish with it, although dooming the Chapter to roam the warp in their escape pods until the end of their days, or he could overloard the ship's warp drive and re-emerge from warp somewhere in the Cadian Sector at terminal velocity, probably with fatal results.

But the techpriest felt the call of the Voices, the alluring lullaby of Chaos...everything he wanted, he could have...If only he'd give in...The corrupted machine spirit beckoned to him, and he felt aroused as though he was still fully the man he once was, many ages ago, before the Mechanicus.

Do you...

Set the ship to self-destruct and doom the Chapter to wander around the Warp? It is a suicide mission, but there is nothing more glorious than battling evil at its very heart! For the Emperor and the Omnissiah!


Do you overloard the warp core and hurl yourself at the Cadian Sector at relativistic speeds, without knowing where you will end up or if you will survive the journey? Fortune favours the brave. The entire Chapter will applaud you, if you succeed! And if you fail, they will never know.


Do you give in to the Dark Powers? Sanity is for the weak! Imagine the power you could wield, with forbidden technology combined with your everlasting body! You could subjugate the Omnissiah to your will!



The techpriest acquired enough presence of mind for a moment before succumbing to heresy, engaging the core overload system. There was no sound for a long time, as the ship went beyond its physical limits and existed simultaneously in the materium and in the immaterium, both of them pulling it apart. And then there was light.

But not for long. The ship crashed into a gigantic stone structure, half a kilometre wide, one whole kilometre tall. And came to a rest. The foredecks were completely destroyed, as well as half of the crew quarters. The medical bay was severely damaged, and the armory apparently imploded with the force of the crash igniting the ammunitions depot. It was truly a miracle that even half the ship was still whole. Truly, the Emperor protects.

Reclusiarch Jeremiah, High Chaplain of the Chapter, stepped out of the wreckage and surveyed the scene. He ordered a death toll and thorough search of the ship. The bodies of the traitor squad were found, apparently alive but unconscious, and were divested of their power armors before being put to death. And here a curious thing happened: These men were weak and small compared to an average space marine. Their armor had apparently included complex mechanisms to allow them to operate the heavy bulk of the machinery through psychic links. All of them were branded with the Inquisition's seal, and bore the marks of sanctioned psykers.

"Spies. Sent by the unworthy to report on the activities of the worthy. It is just as well we have been declared Excommunicate Traitoris, Brothers, because the Imperium of late is run by villains no better than the Enemies of Man. No true Space Marine would have so easily succumbed to Chaos."

The assembled brother-captains agreed with the Reclusiarch, and spat on the bodies of the fallen before commiting them to the sword. Their morale was high. They had survived a daemonic incursion, the perils of the warp, and had came out alive, with the Emperor's Blessing. The entity that had possessed the Navigator was nowhere to be seen, and nothing remained of him but a pile of blood and ooze.

But such a state of affairs would not last long. When the scouting parties reached the Reclusiarch with the news of their findings, gloom fell upon the assembled Brothers. Over five companies were dead, including the First Company, formerly the Sword Brethren of the Black Templars, the only permitted to wear the hallowed Terminator suits. And their suits were destroyed with them. The Chapter had been reduced to half its standing force, a little over 500 men, in a single fell blow by the Ruinous Powers. The apothecaries did their best, but most of the gene-seeds were beyond retrieval. It would take centuries for the chapter to recover. And they had no home planet, no training ground. They had only their mission.

And they would carry it on, said the Reclusiarch, even if there had been only one Battle Brother left. The Brother-Captains cheered at this, their zeal renewed. This Chapter did not know the meaning of anguish. They had only righteousness.

The navmaps were completely fried, there was no way of ascertaining their position. But there was no need to. The Reclusiarch looked up at the Pylon that the ship had crashed into, and further up into the crimson sky streaked with purple lightning. He knew where they were. They were in Cadia. And Chaos was coming.

Please note, this choice is not what you will do, but rather, what will you focus most on doing while also doing the other alternatives.

Do you...

Focus on defense? Abbadon's forces could arrive at any moment. We must fortify ourselves and prepare for battle, to the last man! Let the exploring and foraging for later!


Do you focus on exploration? Send out scouting parties, ascertain the situation, perhaps there are friendly forces around, though none may be seen currently. Defense is all very well, but without knowing what you are fighting, what's the use?


Do you focus on foraging and rebuilding? Your supplies won't last for long. The drugs needed to sustain the Battle Brothers will soon start to run low. You have to repair the Medical Bay, and re-stock the armory. You cannot fire your bolters without rounds! Leave the scouting for later, for now it is better to focus on the practicalities.

And a second choice, this one obviously excludent:

Do you...

Hand over the command of the Chapter to the Reclusiarch? He is the oldest Battle Brother, and the most zealous. He is however strict and unforgiving, and tends to choose brutality over subtlety.


Do you hand over the command to the Lore Keeper? He is the second oldest of the chapter, and the Keeper of all its secrets, its strategist, and former advisor to the Brother-Commander. He is guileful and wise, but many Battle Brothers consider him too much of a thinker for a true warrior.


Do you hand over the command to one of the Brother-Captains? They are skilled in battle and used to command, and may strike an ideal balance between zealousness and skillfulness.



Imperial thought of the day: An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded.

Lorekeeper Helfrich assumed control of the entire ground situation with remarkable swiftness and firmness. The Reclusiarch, as Reclusiarchs are wont to do, retired himself to his cell, to pray. Most of the Brother-Captains excused themselves to "pray", as well. None of them held the Lore Keeper in high regard; They had never seen him at the front of a battle, nor had they ever thought he was anything but a glorified librarian. The average Battle-Brother, however, regarded the Lore Keeper with a mixture of suspicion and awe; his unorthodox tactics had saved the Chapter more than once, and none was quicker than he to root out heresy with extreme prejudice when needed.

The Lorekeeper did not mind either of these factions, he never did. Things had a way of turning out to his designs. Reasoning that battles could not be won through zeal alone, he immediately ordered three companies of Battle-Brothers to scavenge the ship for supplies and production machinery. Apothecaries worked in tandem with Techmarines while they searched for the highly specialized equipment that would let them repair the Med Bay and resume production of the drugs essential to a Space Marine's continued living. Three hundred men worked tirelessly to prepare themselves for whatever might come. And in the very first day, a happy discovery: An intact dreadnought suit, although without an occupant. A very ancient dreadnought, by the looks of it, and absent even from the Lorekeeper's records. Something to investigate later, he thought.

On the battle front, the Lorekeeper was what some would call less than honourable: The Battlebarge is 8 kilometres long, and nearly half that in width. Defending its wreckage with five hundred men in entrenched positions would be idiotic. So the Lorekeeper set up small forward bases, each one composed of two devastator marine squads armed with heavy, long-range bolters. They were placed atop buildings and elevations, able to spot the enemy from afar, and offer some resistance before it came too close. Not that the Lorekeeper had any llusions; the battle would be decided by the swords of his Chapter, and by the Emperor's Grace. He knew they would win. He was just making, as some say, doubly sure. Jump Assault Marines were sent on patrolling routes between these forward bases, to maintain what could be loosely called a perimeter.

As for exploration, the Lorekeeper faced a dilemma: The Chapter, by virtue of its origin, was composed only of hardened veterans of the Templar Crusades. Thus, they had no neophytes nor Tenth Company scouts. Usually, Assault Marines were used as forward troops because of their high mobility, but now they were essential for defense. So in another unorthodox move, the Lorekeeper sent out the Chapter's three remaining Land Raiders, each carrying two full squads of tactical marines, as scouting parties, if such a term can be used for a vehicle that carries weaponry capable of felling even Terminators. They were ordered to scout roughly 25km in each cardinal direction, and report back immediatelly if engaged in hostile fire. The Lorekeeper made it clear he did not want the scouting parties engaged in direct confrontation. Sic vis bellum para bellum, he said.

After all preparations were done, the Lorekeeper sat amidst the wreckage and rested. Then something struck him: They had found no sign of the tech priest that had essentially saved half the chapter. He had no knowledge of his daemonic possession, so he regarded him as something of a hero, although still a lesser man than a Space Marine. He gathered a squad of tactical marines and went out to search for him personally inside the wreckage.

This is a branching decision, leading to several others on the same path, though all will happen simultaneously.

Do you...

Take control of the fighting companies? Maybe we'll finally get to grips with the Traitor Legions and deliver them back to their False Gods! For the Emperor! We'll shower them with steel!


Do you take control of the exploration party? Three land raiders and six squads of tactical marines, it is practically an invasion force! Blasted Helfrich told us not to engage, but that doesn't mean we can't "defend" ourselves should we need to! And besides, what in Emperor's Name is going on? Where is everyone? Gear up and find out!


Do you take control of Lorekeeper Helfrich and his squad of tactical marines in the pursuit of the missing techpriest? Who knows what awaits in the dark corners of the ship?



Imperial thought of the day: A mind without purpose will wander in dark places


Lorekeeper Helfrich ordered the Tac Squad to carry only flamers and powerfists. He wasn't willing to turn what was left of the battlebarge into even more wreckage. He himself carried his customary Inferno Pistol and Blessed Sword, though he was confident he would be cautious with their use. This was his first mistake.

His second mistake was to underestimate the Ruinous Powers. A more experienced and zealous Battle-Brother like the Reclusiarch would have gone in heavy if they were to search a ship so recently taken by the Warp. He would not trust a small, tactical force: He knew that sometimes you must destroy much to save even more. The Lorekeeper naturally did not share this view. He wanted a quick in-and-out operation, avoiding any possible damage to the ship's interiors. He scarcely believed there was any danger; after all, he was a man of reason: They had arrived at Cadia, a battleground, and the salvaging operation had not yet encountered anything out of the ordinary. But the imminent danger of a Chaos attack from the outside was much more real in his mind.

Reason is no substitute for faith. The tactical squad headed for the recently destroyed foredecks, the last known location of the techpriest. They had already been searched by the Chapter on arrival, resulting in the discovery of the infiltrated Psyker squad. But the Lorekeeper was nothing if not thorough. He scanned the foredecks from top to bottom, searching every crevice for signs of residual warp manifestations or the Mechanicus. He found neither, though he did find some rather...unusual blemishes on the walls. The metal had darkened here and there with a sickly green color, and seemed to have acquired an oily texture. The lorekeeper took samples, and carried on.

The squad headed for mid-decks, which was where their mission should end. The rear half of the ship, still mostly intact, was being worked on by the three companies in the salvaging operation, so the Lorekeeper restricted himself to those parts of the ship that were utterly ruined and unsalveageable, the parts most affected when the Gellar field collapsed, and the parts most likely to hold an infestation. The Lorekeeper could scarcely believe the scale of it when he found it: The Machinarius Sanctum, the housing of the ship's entire propulsion and refuelling system, had become a living abomination.

Tentacles of steel coiled around promethium furnaces, giving off sparks of purplish energy that earthed themselves on the floor. Conveyor belts twisted and turned in unnatural shapes, blurring the eye as they entwined around one another and seemed to end where they begun, much like an optical illusion. The entire room was covered in the sickly green color that the squad had found previously, and every part of the thing glistened. At the center of a twitching mass of cables and plasteel tendrils lay a mound of servitors, all apparently fused together, an unholy mass of flesh and metal that gave off poisonous fumes from what could be perhaps called its mouths. At the very top of it, lay the techpriest, or what he had once been. His bulk had increased immensely; He apparently added bits and pieces of power armor to his body, and what little flesh could be seen seemed covered in sores and eyes with vertical slits.

The lorekeeper realized immediately the mistake he had made. By being overtly cautious, he could not hope to harm this thing in any way whatsoever. And yet it had already noticed their presence, even now its glistening plasteel tentacles were heading towards them. What could he do, here, in the bowels of the ship? And what would the techpriest do to the rest of the ship, now that it knew the Battle-Brothers were still alive and inside it? The comm-beads were silent. There was no help coming.

Do you...

Perform a fighting retreat? Perhaps you can slow the thing down somehow, attract its attention, hope it does not concentrate on the rest of the ship. Hold off the attack as much as possible, but return slowly and surely to the outside, and immediately order a Devastator Attack Squad to destroy this abomination? Assuming, that is, you can get out alive.


Do you flee for your life as quick as you can? To waste any time here, any time at all, is foolish! As soon as you reach the surface, you can send as many attack squads as you like, and rid the battlebarge of this daemon! And if it extends its influence over the ship even further, then the glory shall be even greater for destroying it!


Do you attack the creature and try to find a way to destroy it? If you can get close enough to the Promethium furnaces, you might be able to overheat them with the squad's flamers enough to cause a blast. You would die, and even more of the ship would be lost, but the creature would be sent back to the warp in the fires of purgation.


Do you try to reason with the creature? Although it is obviously tainted with Chaos, tech-priests are naturally more resilient to its lure, and perhaps there is some of the Adeptus mind still left inside. You are, after all, the Chapter's voice in all maters arcane. Perhaps there is a way to stall it, until you can figure what is the best course of action?



Imperial thought for the day: Analysis is the bane of conviction

“Good evening, Enginseer Malachi.”

The creature looks at you indifferently, its animated tentacles still heading towards your squad.

“No doubt you are aware of who I am. And we seem to have a situation here, have we not? I would very much like to have the Wrathborn cleansed from the taint you have cast upon it. And you, I assume, would like to extend it further.”

The techpriest remains silent.

“But, you see, here is what will happen if you do that: Three companies of Adeptus Astartes, the finest warriors in the Galaxy, will destroy you utterly. I’m sure right now there’s nothing you’d like better than to kill a few of us and be killed in turn, returning to the warp to bask in its unholy pleasures.”

The techpriest emits a hollow laugh, and one of its bladed tentacles strikes against the Lorekeeper, who catches it in his powered glove and crushes it effortlessly.

“Now now, we are having a civilized conversation, Enginseer. Where was I? Oh yes. You see, that will not happen. You will not return to the warp. We will not kill you. Oh, no. Even if you destroy what’s left of the Wrathborn and kill many of our Battle-Brothers, we will not kill you.”

The plasteel tentacles stop slithering towards the squad and the techpriest emits what could pass as a perplexed grunt.

“Do you remember the manacles our Astropathic Chorus wore when they were still alive? I’m sure you do, you looked at them constantly. Those manacles are engraved with holy sigils etched with the God-Emperor’s tears, the tears he cried when he killed his favoured son, whom you now favor. And these manacles have a very particular function: They cause pain to all that which is linked to the warp. You heard the astropaths’ whimpering, did you not?”

The mass of fused servitors beneath the techpriest starts to rumble, while the techpriest himself remains immobile.

“I’m sure you did, Enginseer. Now, do you have any idea what those manacles would do if they were clasped upon a creature tainted by the warp? They would inflict a pain so great it would sear your very soul, or whatever is left of it. And they could never be removed, for they are daemon’s shackles, blessed by the God-Emperor Himself. Now, here is what will happen to you should you try to disrupt any more of this ship’s systems: We shall drag you out of this monstrosity you have…built, and we shall imprison you in those manacles. And after that, we shall administer rejuvenat drugs to you, so that you may live a long time, perhaps even forever. And then we shall put you inside the Hexagrammatic Chamber, where you will be unable to hear Chaos’ soothing music. You shall live a life of endless torment, forever alone and unheard by your new masters. And I swear this to you: Until every last one of us is dead – And that is not something you can accomplish, ah-ha – You will remain like this. There will be no respite. For you, Enginseer Malachi, there will be only agony.”

The techpriest slowly started moving, waving its many mechanical appendices as if trying to control all the mechanical devices in the room at the same time. All the tentacles and servitor implants stirred. Most of them had blades, crude, but imbued with the power of the Warp.

“I have always taken you for a man of reason, Enginseer. A man – Ah-ha - after my own heart. You can see now that even if you attack us, and kill myself and my squad, and take control of the rest of the ship, that still will bring you no victory. In the end, I will see you chained, even if I must rise from the dead to do it. And I pray you will live forever bathed in the Emperor’s Light.”

The techpriest groaned and spoke, his voice hollow and metallic, with a shrill buzzing echo:

“What would you have me do?”

“I am a reasonable man, Malachi. Release the ship from your influence. Cast out the possessed machine spirit. You are the only one who can. If you do this, perhaps there is still hope for you. Perhaps the Omnissiah’s Grace will shine upon you, and you may yet be saved.”

The biomechanical abomination crumbled in an instant. The servitors melted and oozed through the floors, now just a puddle of bodily fluids and metal. The crimson mist that had filled the room lifted. The machines seemed inert once again. The techpriest, his appearance still warped, climbed down from his macabre altar.

“Mercy?” He asked.

Lorekeeper Helfrich took off his head with one blow of his sword, and threw the body into one of the furnaces.

“Suffer not the mutant.” The Lorekeeper replied.

Do you…

Resume patrolling the ship’s dark holds? You now have definite proof that Chaos manifested in the ship. What if it is still here? Although you have been tasked with the command of the chapter, you cannot trust the Battle-Brothers with such a delicate task! You yourself are the only one who holds enough knowledge to deal with these abominations without compromising the entire Battlebarge. This task is vital, the Chapter will understand if you are delayed.


Do you exit the ship and resume your duty as Acting Commander? You have vanquished the abomination, and if there are any more, you can delegate the search to one of the Brother-Captains. You have lost track of time while you were here, but it has been at least a day. Who knows what could have happened outside without your guidance? Time is of the essence, you are the spearhead of Cadia’s reconquest. You have been given command of the Chapter, so command!



Imperial thought for the day: No man died in the Emperor's service that died in vain


Helfrich tapped the comm-bead once more, hoping to get anything out of it that wasn't screeching static. And once more, he had no luck. They were now below the Machinarius Sanctum, and close to the Warp Core itself. A long rotating corridor with a small catwalk crossing it was all that separated the ship from its most dangerous component. The rotating corridor was long and cylindrical, its surfaces composed of overlapping plates of pure magnetic iron engraved with a plethora of arcane Mechanicus symbols. The techpriests claimed this was to "soothe" the machine spirit, but they knew no more than that. This technology was ancient, far predating the Emperor's Golden Rule over mankind. The understanding of its workings had been lost long ago.

Every other part of the ship had been searched. This was the last of it. The Lorekeeper had never thought of searching here because this place should not exist: The techpriest had overloaded the warp core. There should be a smouldering crater. Yet it stood unharmed. The entire squad offered a prayer to the Emperor asking for protection and guidance, and stepped inside the Warp Core chamber, a spherical room with a diameter of about 25 meters.

And the Lorekeeper was mildly suprised that there was nothing there. The warp core had indeed vanished, although apparently without any damage to the surround area. The room was entirely normal, not a sign of infestation, not even the sulphurous stench that was characteristic of a daemonic incursion. Helfrich was baffled; the Warp Core was a massive sphere of hyperdense matter suspended in the air by ancient tech-magicks. It weighed more than the entire ship. Where in the Warp was it?

"Where in the Warp indeed, Lore Keeper" Answered a voice from thin air, reading the question out of the Astartes' mind.

"That is something we too would very much like to know. But alas, I suspsect I cannot help you there. Allow me to introduce myself."

There was no show of lightning, no crackle of ominous thunder. The creature was just there, towering over the squad. It was vaguely humanoid, though its head and legs were both avian in nature. Multicolored wings spread from its back, glittering like the inside of Holy Terra's gem-encrusted cathedrals, and it wore gaudy robes with gold stitchings and markings. Its skin was...changing. Sometimes it appeared to be composed of scales, and in the blink of an eye, of feathers.

"I am a Daemon of wealth and taste."

The Lorekeeper went to his knees with the psychic blow, and so did the rest of the squad. This was no chaos abomination contrived out of rivets and flesh. They were facing a Lord of Change, the Changer of Ways' Greater Daemon. They were lost.

"It seems I have become a rather unwilling passenger of your ship, Astartes. But whom am I to question Lord Tzeentch's designs? Now, I shall take your souls. This is nothing personal."

The squad immediately opened fired, but flamers had no effect on the Daemon's metamorphic skin. The Lorekeeper's Inferno rounds did pierce it, but seemed to annoy it more than anything else. A mind blast sent Brother Helfrich reeling into unconsciousness, and though the rest of his squad put up a valiant defense, they were no match for a Greater Daemon of Tzeentch. Blasts of Chaosfire erupted from the tips of its clawed hands, reducing the Battle-Brothers to ash.

The Lorekeeper regained consciousness and, casting aside his Inferno Pistol, took his Blessed Powersword firmly in both hands. There would come a time, he remembered the High Marshall saying long ago, where you would face damnation or death. And the High Marshall had said, "It is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself.". Battlebrother Helfrich stood up, the joints of his Terminator armour creaking as he did so.

"Your false emperor is dead, and the Imperium along with him. That is why your gellar field collapsed, that is why I was able to manifest on your ship. The golden throne is vacant. But you thirst for knowledge. Why die for something that no longer exists? Lord Tzeentch could offer you so much more. Will you take His blessings?"

Do you...

Fight to the last breath? Your armor is contempt. Your shield is disgust. Your sword is hatred. Faith is the blade of war! You fear no evil, for you are fear incarnate. In the emperor's name, this daemon will not survive!


Do you accept the blessing of Tzeentch and become a Chaos Sorcerer? The false emperor is dead, and now you have the chance to serve a Higher Power! Wield the fires of creation; walk like a god among mere mortals. Knowledge is power!



Imperial thought for the day: Only in death does duty end

Reclusiarch Jeremiah wearing his old Black Templar Armor

Reclusiarch Jeremiah looked on as Assault Squad Alpha brought back Helfrich's shattered body, his sword scabbard empty. The High Chaplain wondered, not for the first time, why did the Lorekeeper insisted so much on throwing himself at harm's way. Jeremiah soon banished these thoughts from his mind because he was a stern man who did not dwell in trivialities. The Lorekeeper's tomb was already prepared for him: The Ancient Dreadnought they had found in the ship had been opened and was awaiting its new occupant, its new soul.

The assembled brother-captains carried the lorekeepers barely living body in reverential awe; he had banished a Lord of Change with only a sword and his faith, and had survived. Survived, yes. But not lived. He was now doomed to forever serve the Emperor inside a tomb of steel. Still, the Reclusiarch pondered, there were worse fates.

Three full days had passed since Helfrich had commenced his search, and things were no different. The scouting teams reported back continuously, even changing their routes and eventually doing a full 50 kilometer sweep of the whole area, in every direction. Their reports were all similar: They had found nothing but ruined buildings and shell casings. There were no bodies, dead or alive, anywhere in a 50 kilometre circle around the Battlebarge. An enterpreneuring Assault Team, after finishing their daily patrol between the forward bases, made a quick jump to what they believed was the nearest city, some 75 kilometers away from the Battlebarge. The lorekeeper would be livid at this, this was a clear violation of his orders. But he was not there to stop them.

And yet, nothing came out of it. The city was deserted as well. The Reclusiarch ordered the disobedient squad to search for the missing Lorekeeper, adding that if they should find their deaths in the bowels of the ship, they were well deservant of it, for discipline was paramount. These rebellious Assault Marines were the ones who brought Helfrich's body back.

In the battle front...Well, it could no longer be called a battle front. The forward bases reported no activity, no movement, nothing. Where there should be the bulk of the Despoiler's forces, some 5000 thousand Traitor Marines along with countless Legions of the Damned, there was only the occasional Cadian scarab. And this was another thing the forward bases noticed, for lack of anything better to do: Even animal life seemed to have vanished. It was as if someone had ordered an Exterminatus on the planet, and left. It made no sense. Holding Cadia was the key to invading the whole Segmentum Obscurus, and from there to Holy Terra.

The skies were also clear. There was no sign of the Gothic Fleet, and the techmarines could not pick up any electronic transmissions. Throughout the entire planet, it seemed, all was silent. Except for the Pylons.

The Cadian Pylons were ancient monolithical structures, extending one kilometre to the sky and another down inside the earth, with half a kilometre width. They were covered in cyclopean engravings, their purpose and origins unknown, and filled with many small openings and passageways from whom nobody who ventured inside returned. Countless servitors had been lost this way, trying to map the internal structure of the Pylons.

On the day of the Lorekeeper's return, the Pylons lit up. Their markings shone a bright, eerie green, and from their tips actinic columns of green light erupted. The Reclusiarch watched all this impassively. He was at a loss. Shortly before being interred in the Dreadnought, the Lorekeeper had whispered to him, told him that the Emperor was dead. He said the creature had told him this, but he did not believe the creature until he had slain it. Then, he said, he could see into its very soul and divine the truth of its words. The Emperor was dead, the Lorekeeper kept repeating, in a sedated tone. He seemed to be crying softly. The Reclusiarch did not know what to make of this, either. An encounter with a Lord of Change is certainly enough to shatter a lesser man's mind, but a Space Marine...

Jeremiah shrugged. Pylons or no Pylons, Emperor or no Emperor, there were things to be done. The salvaging team had completed its operation and presented its report. There were some choices that needed to be made. The medbay had been repaired, but the armory was truly lost. Perhaps only a tenth of the ammunition stock survived, and most of the weapons were ruined. The Chapter would need a Forgeworld or at least a techpriest team with access to engineering machinery to re-stock their armory.

Do you...

Establish a permanent base in Cadia? There is enough material to build a Fortress-Monastery if you disassemble the entire battlebarge. It will take time, but it will mean your position will be much more secure.


Do you establish a temporary base, building only the necessary structures, and let the rest of the battlebarge to lie where it already is? This would be quicker, but more vulnerable.


Do you forsake the idea of establishing any base at all and instead deploy the troops and order them to march? Surely there are places in Cadia with a far better infrastructure than a ruined battlebarge, it is a fortress planet after all. You would use the scavenged materials to build as many vehicles as necessary to carry the troops, along with a mobile medbay. What exactly would happen should you choose this is uncertain.



Imperial thought for the day: The burden of failure is the most terrible punishment of all

Imperial March

When the Reclusiarch ordered a general mobilization, most of the chapter was perplexed. What had they spent doing in the last three days if not foraging for supplies so that they could survive where they were? If they were going to move anyway, why even bother searching the ship for anything? It was well known that Cadia had hundreds of Kasrs lying everywhere, most of them probably stocked to the brim with weapons and ammo. If they were going on the march, why didn't they concentrate their efforts on exploration in the first place?

The Reclusiarch heard the whispering, but could do little about it. To publicly disavow the policy of his predecessor would be worse than demoralizing: it would be dishounorable. He shared the same doubts. Nevertheless, he marched, and with him, did the chapter. Their morale was not very high, nor was their disposition. Rumours of the Lorekeeper's last words spread throughout the chapter and soon the situation would have to be quelled. Soon, thought the Reclusiarch, but not now. Now we march.

When he saw what they were marching with, however, he resisted an impulse to curse loudly and kick the nearest techmarine. The...thing that they had built, the transport coupled with a medbay and a small armory, looked orcish in design. It was a gruesome thing to behold, metal jutting out at all angles, the walls misshapen, the tracks apparently very brittle. The techmarines said they did the best they could, and the Reclusiarch believed them. They were Battlebrothers whose duty was minor repairs to vehicles and armor during the heat of combat, not bloody transport enginseering. But still, the thing looked...ominous, to say the least. First Techmarine Gaius had hung his head in despair when he had seen the end result of their efforts. He had tried to reassure the Reclusiarch the vehicle would hold, but he seemed less convinced of that himself.

Less stern chapters would laugh about it. The Exterminating Angels set their jaws in grim determination and boarded what the youngest battlebrothers were calling the Land Hulk. The three remaining Land Raider Crusaders, things of beauty if not grace, would escort the thing with two squads of Devastator Marines inside, one vehicle at its back and one at each side. The front of the Land Hulk had been equipped with twin-linked storm bolters and what looked suspiciously similar to an Imperator's Titan Hellstorm Cannon, but was in fact one of the exhaust vents of the Battlebarge. Still, plasma is plasma, said the techmarines. The Reclusiarch sighed. The vehicle held one company of Battlebrothers, including all of the techmarines and apothecaries, as well as the Lorekeeper's still inactive dreadnought and all of the supplies they could scavenge from the ship. The other four companies would march alongside it.

Before leaving, the Reclusiarch gave the order to the techmarines for the remaining cyclonic torpedos onboard the ship to go live. In about 12 hours, the entire 50 kilometer perimeter that had been so thoroughly scouted would be reduced to molten glass, along with the battlebarge and hopefully the damned Pylon they had crashed into. The Reclusiarch was not taking any chances. If Chaos was still inside the ship, it would be no more. If it was outside and chanced to find the ship, well, he'd make sure they wouldn't be able to use it.

Reclusiarch Jeremiah sat atop the Land Hulk, surrounded by Assault Squad Alpha, and asked them were they should be heading, since he himself had no idea. First Techmarine Gaius surveyed the land ahead, his hands on his chin, apparently thinking deeply about something. They were in a vast open tundra, one of Cadia's scenery idiosyncrasies: Half of the land mass was frozen tundra and dense pine trees, the other half fortified urban areas.

Do you...

Head towards the already scouted Kasrs 75 kilometers to the north-east? The Assault Squad reported it deserted, but did no more exploring than that. Weapons, armor, fuel and supplies could still be there.


Do choose a direction randomly? It's good a decision as any other. You don't have any maps. Let the Emperor's Light guide you.


Do you head to the nearest Pylon? They seem to be inert once again, and perhaps there are some near the urban areas? Besides, you could always try exploring one, one of them had withstood a battlebarge crashing at them in full speed, it seems very safe to assume that it could withstand far more than that, should battle ever come to you.



Imperial thought for the day: He who fights with me shall be my brother


"We will proceed to the Kasr encountered by Assault Squad Alpha. Give the coordinates to Gaius."

Reclusiarch Jeremiah sat down on his makeshift chair atop the Land Hulk and watched as Techmarine Gaius shouted a string of instructions to the pilots below. The thing started rumbling and moving at an incredibly slow speed, every part of it creaking and fuming, and the Reclusiarch felt like a fool. The three Land Raider Crusaders kept pace with them, occasionally shouting encouraging little phrases and prayers for the Emperor, while the four marching companies remained silent and walked on.

After about three hours of this pantomime, the High Chaplain climbed down the thing and started marching ahead of it, along with the four companies. This was received by a chorus of cheers from the Astartes, and a frown from Techmarine Gaius, who felt was being slighted. Regardless, Jeremiah took the front and continued on to the Kasr. They reached the gates by sunset, and things were certainly not as the Assault Squad had reported.

The structure was roughly a pile of rectangular blocks, all made of some sort of amalgam between plasteel and rock. Its base was wider than its tip, giving the impression of a very roughly hewn pyramid. It must have been three kilometers wide on the front, and the gate at the center of it spanned almost half that length. That was a peculiar trait of architecture, but the Reclusiarch reasoned it allowed for the quick deployment of a large file of vehicles side-by-side, and vehicles were one of the Imperial's Guards favourite weapons. This thing would not withstand a siege by heavy weaponry in any case, it looked more like a tribal villa than a proper fortress.

But this impression was quickly dispelled by the stunning array of weaponry displayed on the top of the walls. Multimeltas, Heavy Bolters, Quadruple Longlas Cannons, and the Reclusiarch was sure he could see something that looked very much like a Mega Battle Cannon mounted alongside a coaxial Autocannon, a feature of the fabled Baneblade Super Heavy Tank. This did not worry him, because he had faith. But it made him thoughtful.

A solitary figure was mounted atop the front gate, smoking a cigar with a a longlas strapped across his back. He seemed to be wearing the uniform of the Cadian Shock Troopers, but it was difficult to tell at this distance. After a while, he shouted down:

"Ahoy there. We was gonna fire all the guns, because we's thought you was all orks, what with the big bloody spiked thing you boys lugging are around. But I's can see you ain't orks now, and you sure ain't Chaos boys. So what are yer? I knows a space marine when I see one, and you don't look like it. No insignias, no badges, no standards, and that big bloody orc tank."

"Open the gates, in the Emperor's name!" Shouted the Reclusiarch, nonplussed by the man's speech mannerisms.

"Now, why would I do a thing like that? The way I see it, you must be some kind of renegade chapter or something. Now, I know we Troopers and you Spacers should be pals, but you hear stories, Kronus comes to mind - Blood Ravens my bum, more like Bloody Vultures - wouldn't be the first time you lot turned against us in the Emperor's name, as you say. So, i'm reckoning what you wants is to loot this here Kasr and carry on to whatever it was you were going, I'll be damned if I know. And I can't let that happen, see."

"We are the Exterminating Angels Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, we have no intention of firing against friendly troops or looting anything. Our Battlebarge has crash-landed here and we are seeking shelter and information." The Reclusiarch responded, mindful that he should be somewhat polite. But his temper was already rising.

"You crashed a battlebarge? Now, that's a thing I'd like to see. How d'you do that, then? Gave your Navigator a poke in its third eye? Anyhow, you boys are late to the fightin'. The Despoiler's troops upped and legged it when the Pylons fired. So what are you seeking shelter against, eh?"


"Well, you could do that, you could, but see here, your little metal Squiggoth is standing atop a load of meltabombs we prepared for this very occasion. And all atop these walls the finest of the 8th Cadian Shock Troopers Regiment are aiming their guns at your general direction. Now, me, I don't reckon we could take on an Astartes fighting company, pride's for them who wear badges of office and whatnot. But I'm damn sure I can give you a roughing, and you say you're looking for shelter, so I ain't too sure you would risk that. It seems we are at an impasse."

"So it seems" Nodded Jeremiah, in a graveyard tone. He turned and looked at Assault Squad Alpha, that had reported the town deserted. "You are now the First Fighting Company's Forlorn Hope." He barked, in a voice seething with righteous fury. He turned again to face the enemy at the gates, and considered his options.

Do you...

Open fire? These man may be Cadian Shock Troopers but they are lunatics and idiots, and they seek to impede us in our way. No doubt they are corrupted by the Ruinous Powers and are stalling us while a Chaos Strike Force heads towards us this very moment! If we suffer losses, so be it. The surviving shall share even more glory. In the Emperor's name, let none survive!


Do you order a retreat? These men are right to be suspicious. From all you've seen so far, whatever happened to this planet...Something is not right. And it is true you wear no bades or insignias, because in your Chapter this is considered needlessly vain. You cannot afford to lose your transport or any more troops. Live to fight another day, and march on.


Do you try to reason with the man at the gates? He seems simple-minded if sharp, and can perhaps be convinced with the right tone. Sometimes a corkscrew is more efficent than a hammer. And Lorekeeper Helfrich seems to be awake now, although he is still...In shock. You could, of course, try to send one of the Brother-Captains or even Techmarine Gaius to reason with this man.


Do you order a feigned retreat and set yourself in strategic positions, waiting for nightfall to strike a multilateral sneak attack? It would be less risky than a frontal siege, and you could still save your transport. It is not likely these men would be missed or deservant of an honourable death, anyway, since they clearly can't recognize the superiority of the Adeptus Astartes. Of course, if these men are indeed just the spearhead of a Chaos ambush, you risk spreading yourself too thin and falling into their trap.

Please note that if you choose option C, also choose whom you want to try and reason with the soldier. Options include the reclusiarch (again), one of the brother-captains, Helfrich, techmarine Gaius, and Assault Squad Alpha Leader Hauser.



Imperial thought for the day: Better crippled in body than corrupt in mind.

“I command you once again: In the Emperor’s name, open these gates!” Shouted the Reclusiarch once more. He was not a very imaginative man.

“The emperor is dead.” Boomed a low, emotionless voice. “Open these gates, or you’ll meet him soon.” Said the dreadnought, walking out from the Land Hulk. The lack of capitalization in His holy name was almost audible; whatever zeal the lorekeeper had possessed in life was gone.

“What? What?” Asked the man at the gates, perplexed by this sudden apparition.

“Do you find it hard to understand me? Are you deaf?” The dreadnought started walking towards the gates, a full six metres tall, covered in ornate engravings of skulls and imperial eagles and sigils of purity and faith and scribbled records of long-forgotten battles, one arm composed of twin-linked multimeltas and the other of a massive Powerfist with an underslung Stormbolter.

“Am I not speaking loud enough? You see this man standing beside me? He is the most faithful Astartes in the entire galaxy. His name is Heiliges Jeremiah, or so he told me. He was Reclusiarch of the Chapter during my life, a holy man dedicated to the Emperor’s service. Now he is but a man.”

The Reclusiarch looked at the Dreadnought in disbelief; this was utmost heresy!

“But I am no man. I care not for how many of you die, or how many of my former brothers die, should I need to breach these gates. I say former brothers, you see, because we were all united as siblings under our father, the emperor. But he is no more, and as siblings are wont to do without a guiding hand, they fight. Like you propose to fight us, Colour Sargeant.”

The Cadian Sargeant was bewildered, he had no idea what was going on now. Just a few moments before he was trying to stop a bunch of rogue astartes from taking away their scant few supplies, and now he was dealing with a heretical dreadnought! He responded the only way he knew how:

“Emperor’s Bowels! What in the warp is going on?!”

“I am Acting Chapter Master Ignatius Helfrich of the Exterminating Angels Adeptus Astartes Chapter. I have slain countless enemies of the Imperium. I have been on seventeen crusades against chaos. I was once a Brother-Captain of the Black Templar’s first company, the Sword-Brethren. I crushed men’s skulls in my Terminator suit’s fists without pity or remose, for they were my enemies and I served the Emperor. In life, I served. In death, I serve no longer. I am assuming command of your fortress. Surrender.”

“Or what?”

“I do not believe I gave you an alternative.” Answered the Dreadnought, aiming his twin-linked Multimelta at the Cadian Sargeant.

“I-I…I shall fetch the Lord Castellan, shall I?” Said the Sargeant, melting away inside the Kasr.

The assembled Battle-Brothers trained their weapons on the Dreadnought; he was clearly possessed. Perhaps he had never slain the Lord of Change, he must surely have been corrupted to speak such blasphemy! And to think they gave him the honour of wearing a Venerable Dreadnought suit…

“You would turn against your Commander?” Boomed the dreadnought, his scanning sensor array warning him to all the guns pointed at his back.

“How can you say such blasphemous things, Helfrich! You are insane! The Emperor is not dead, he cannot be! We would all know it! Are you mad?! Possessed! There would no longer be an Imperium!” Cried Techmarine Gaius, since the Reclusiarch was apparently too shocked with such heresy to say anything.

“There no longer is.”

The large clock installed at the center of the Kasr, a relic of a more peaceful age, struck midnight with a sound like the tolling of some great bell, marking the end of the last day of the year. It was the dawn of the Forty Second Millenium.


You are Hauser, Sargeant of Assault Squad Alpha. It was you who found the Lorekeeper’s shattered body inside the ship, you who stared into the warp rift created by the Lord of Change’s demise, heard its imprecations, and you saw what the Lorekeeper had seen. You too know that the Emperor is dead and mankind is lost. But you have a choice.

Do you…

Support the Lorekeeper and speak up? Tell the Chapter what you saw. Tell them that you have the Black Box recording of Navigator Barenziah’s voice croaking that the Astronomican was no longer lit, found in possession of the daemon. This would demoralize the chapter entirely. But it is the truth. Do they not deserve it? You have fought long and hard. What comes next? Perhaps you must still fight. But to fight for a cause that is untrue is no different from what the Inquisition did with you and your Chapter, and what your entire Chapter abhorred so much as to split from the Black Templars and be declared Excommunicate Traitoris! If you remain silent now, then what you fought for will have been as dust.


Do you stay silent and let the Chapter do what they will until the Lord Castellan arrives? To utterly destroy the Chapter’s hope of victory, of any victory forevermore, would be cruel and cowardly. Even if you alone know the truth, you can keep it to yourself. The Enemies of Man still exist. There is still a need to fight them, even without His Light. And perhaps the others can convince the Lorekeeper to see this, can turn him to reason. Perhaps later, in private, you can argue with him. All Battlebrothers know that there is a need for guidance. To throw it away would be disastrous!


Do you speak up against the Lorekeeper? Lie! It is the only way to maintain the Chapter whole! They must never know the truth, never know that what they utterly believed in is no more. And the Lorekeeper must be made an example of, lest their faith falter! He must be utterly discredited if you hope to survive and bring your brothers to victory against the Ruinous Powers! And here, under the Eye of Terror’s unholy light, the Chapter needs its faith more than ever before!



Imperial thought for the day: The Emperor asks only that you hate

"The Lorekeeper speaks true! I saw it, when he banished the daemon! And I have a Vox Recording of Navigator Barenziah, he-"

The Inferno round made a silken sound as it exited Sargeant Hauser's skull. The body fell limply off the Land Hulk and at the Lorekeeper's feet.

"No." - Said Reclusiarch Jeremiah, sheating his Inferno Pistol - "I will not have you poison this chapter with any more of your lies, daemonspawn. Even if the Emperor had died, and may He live ten thousand years, the Lorekeeper I knew would never announce this at such a moment. We are the at the enemy's gates, and you would seek to demoralize us? To turn brother against brother? Here? In the hallowed ground of Cadia, that has withstood Thirteen black crusades and still stands firm as the the Imperium's bulwark against the Dark Gods? You are not Helfrich. The Helfrich knew that knowledge is power, and to hide it well. You are an abomination. And you shall die."

The Chaplain drew his Crozius Arcanum, and held it with both hands as Techmarine Gaius rushed to Hauser's aid. "Apothecaries! To me!" Cried Gaius. The chapter's apothecaries did not move. No brother drew breath as they looked upon the scene of the Reclusiarch and the Lorekeeper squaring off. "What have you done, Jeremiah?! Have you gone insane as well? He was a Battle-Brother, like you, like me!" The techmarine frantically tried to stem the bleeding, but the round, smouldering hole in Hauser's forehead was proof enough of death. Brother against brother, the Reclusiarch said...A Vox recording? Gaius started searching the fallen marine's armor.

"He had been corrupted by this heretic's words. He was impure. The Emperor lives, brothers! This is but a trick of the Changer of Ways, an attempt to sway us from the True Path! This creature is not Helfrich! It is a daemon! Attack him!"

The Dreadnought stood immobile and silent. It was impossible to tell at what he was looking, but his body seemed slightly angled towards the corpse of Sargeant Hauser. And then a croaking, buzzing sound emerged from the fallen Astartes. It sounded like screams, perhaps, and then a voice full of terror spoke "The Astronomican is dark..." A thud, and a loud metallic groan on the background. Another voice spoke, this one harsh and imperious "Why?" and a panicking, mechanical voice replied "Sir I...I don't know. The Gellar Field is failing! The navigational systems are short-circuiting. Perhaps we've hit a warp storm but there's nothing on the sensors...". The recording started again. "The astronomican is dark..."Croaked Navigator Barenziah with his last breath.

Techmarine Gaius stood up, the Vox recording in his armored fists. He looked at the dreadnought, and stepped away, his head hung low. The entire Chapter watched him walk away, the recording playing again and again, "The astronomican is dark...". Not a single Battlebrother drew breath.

"Lies. There was no sign of this in the battlebarge's bridge! It was planted there by the daemon! How did Hauser find this? Tell me that! It is all lies! The Emperor lives, and I am his sword! Can you not see the corruption this monster has brought upon us?! Look at yourselves! You are like little boys! You stand and do nothing as Chaos consumes your minds! I will not stand for this! I WILL NOT SEE THIS CHAPTER FALL TO THE RUINOUS POWERS!" The Reclusiarch stopped to draw breath, and continued in a low voice, with such complete devotion that it would be enough to send a thousand squads into battle. But not his.

"My armor is contempt. My shield is disgust. My sword is hatred. I fight for the Golden Throne in Holy Terra and the Father of all mankind. By my hand, you shall die."

The Reclusiarch charged at the dreadnought, his Crozius Arcanum meeting the Lorekeeper's powerfist in a shower of white sparks. And the looping Vox recording continued, held by Techmarine Gaius, who was at his knees with his head bent in despair.

"The astronomican is dark..."

Do you...

Stand by and do nothing? Let them kill each other. The God-Emperor will know his own, and the victor will be the bearer of truth.


Do you engage in battle against this daemonspawn? What Jeremiah says is true! The true lorekeeper would have never sought to shatter your faith here, in this place, at this time! It is an abomination of Chaos seeking to undermine your faith and divide the chapter as it stands on the edge of oblivion!


Do you engage in battle against the Reclusiarch? He has clearly gone insane with blind zealousness and is no longer capable of reason. The Vox Recording is proof! The Lorekeeper sought to tell you this before you engaged in any further acts of atrocity against your fellow men! If you do not fight for the emperor, you still fight for mankind!



Imperial thought for the day: All mortal life is folly that does not feed the spirit

The Lord Castellan stood atop the walls, watching the scene below. To him, the outcome mattered little. He could only watch in awe at the fighting prowess of the duelists; If he were a less compassionate man, he would have traded a hundred of his troops for a single Astartes. But Lord Castellan Ursarkar E. Creed, Commander of the entire Imperial Guard in Cadian ground, was a decent and loyal man. He had no doubt now they were true Space Marines. But it seemed that they had business of their own to resolve.

The Chaplain whirled time and time again, always striking true with his Crozius. And time and time again, the Dreadnought shrugged off his blows. The Lorekeeper was too slow to connect a punch, though he had seared the Reclusiarch's right side with the Pyrum-Petrol mixture of his multimelta. This was not a battle to be recorded in tales, to be sung in songs: Man against machine, neither of them sure how to fell the other. It was more a theatre than anything else.

As Jeremiah ducked under yet another strike of the Lorekeeper's powerfist, he realized how futile it was to engage this creature in direct combat. He was a slow and stolid man, but a fine warrior still. It took time for him to form anything in his mind other than the furious zeal with which he had laid low countless Enemies of Man. He finally realized that now, this would not work.

The Reclusiarch backed away from the Lorekeeper, and struck a pose with his Crozius dug deep into the ground.

"I would not expect a daemonspawn to be so slow and inept. Perhaps you truly are the Lorekeeper, and has just gone mad? I wonder if you were ever sane, Ignatius. I remember well when the Brother-Commander -"

The Reclusiarch miscalculated badly. His attempt at a taunt was, to the lorekeeper, idle chatter. Another blast of the Multimelta hit him squarely in the face, although he was able to dodge the worst of it. His skull-shaped helmet had been lost to the flames. And finally the Reclusiarch threw away all caution, all tactics. He was a Battlebrother first and foremost, and to the warp with anything else. Hatred was the Emperor's gift to mankind. Jeremiah charged.

And died. Not by the lorekeeper's hand, because it was obvious to the watching battle-brothers that the Lorekeeper had been doing nothing more than dodging his blows and doing slight counter-attacks, perhaps expecting him to come to his senses. No, the blade that felled the Reclusiarch was the blade the entire Chapter feared, and with reason.

Brother-Captain Ezekiel Hex stood up, after offering a short prayer for the Reclusiarch's soul, and slung his strange scythe over his back. He looked at the Lorekeeper, and at the assembled battle-brothers, and said:

"I care not for your rivalries. Vanity does make fools of you both. If the Emperor is dead, as the recording suggests, then we shall fight on. If he is not, we shall fight on regardless. The Reclusiarch had become too blind to tell truth apart from fantasy; even if the Emperor himself had appeared before him, he would have not believed it."

Ezekiel gently rolled over the Reclusiarch's body, and he resumed his hollow monotone, looking straight at the Dreadnought:

"You may fight and die for whatever you believe in. But you will not drag the chapter into this. You will not. Had Gaius not replayed that recording again and again, the Chapter would have taken sides. And from half, it would become a quarter. Lorekeeper Helfrich, your duty is to serve and protect man from its enemies. The Reclusiarch was no longer fit to do it, and perhaps neither are you. So I ask you: Will you serve? If you will not, then I shall slay you myself, abomination or not, and I shall carry on the Chapter's mission."

The Battle-Brothers regarded with respectul silence the Adeptus Astartes nicknamed "Grim Reaper". And the Dreadnought slowly turned to face him.

"You have killed your Chaplain."

"I will execute all those who stand against mankind's salvation."

"Even if the Emperor can no longer protect it?"

"I will do my duty even if I have no master to decree it."

The Battlebrothers let out a long sigh. This was not what they expected. This was not honourable. This was treachery. But there seemed to be no other way.

"Brother-Captain Ezekiel is right. We are the last of the true. There is nothing left but us." Said Gaius, rising from his sorrow. The Chapter took a small measure of comfort from his words, though still shocked by the Grim Reaper's ruthlessness.

The dreadnought turned away from Ezekiel, and added, in a grieving tone:

"It seems that even in death I still serve." He walked towards the gates of the Kasr, and banged on the walls.

"Let us in. There is no enmity between us. We must stand united. The Emperor is dead."

"Yes. I know." Replied Lord Castellan Creed, opening the gates of the Kasr. "But they are not."

The Battlebrothers turned and saw the tide of green and gray coming towards them. Countless skeletal silhouettes lined the horizon, arches of green fire erupting from the tips of their Gauss-Flayers. Cadia was a Tombworld once more.


do you...

Fortify inside the Kasr and coordinate your defense alongside the Imperial Shock troopers?


do you remain outside and organize an attack following your Chapter's battle doctrines?

And do you...

Give command of the troops to the Lorekeeper?


do you grant command of the troops to one of the brother-captains? Any of them would accept, apart from Brother-Captain Hex.



Imperial thought for the day: Success is commemorated. Failure merely remembered.

The battlebrothers were perplexed and furious; after conferring with the Lord Castellan, Brother-Captain Hawke had ordered them to stay put and assume firing positions inside the Kasr. Firing positions? Stay put? They were a Meelee Chapter, the Emperor's finest blades! What was this idiot thinking? After hearing of the Emperor's death and being commanded to hide like cowards inside a toy fortress that would not withstand the first artillery barrage, the Chapter's morale was at an all time low. Battlebrothers assumed their positions with bad grace, grim and silent. The Lorekeeper stood idly against one of the interior walls of the Kasr, immobile, as if dead.

The Land Hulk had been brought inside the Kasr, as well as all the Land Raider Crusaders. They were turned around and faced the enemy to provide artillery support, while the Lord Castellan rolled out his remaining Basilisks for the same function. The Cadian Shock Troopers inside the Kasr numbered at around 10 thousand men, and if stories were to be believed, the finest fighting force in the Imperial Guard, second only to the Astartes themselves in martial prowess.

Lord Castellan Creed naturally favoured a defensive position and a long-range approach: His troops were not equipped with Power Armor to withstand close combat with the Necrons, nor could they hope to break their lines with a charge. He was thus also puzzled by the Brother-Captain's bizarre decision of letting the Astartes reinforce the shock-troopers at the Kasr, instead of spearheading the assault after the first artillery salvo. After all he had seen of this Chapter, his impression grew worse and worse. But they were allies, in a fashion.

The Necron lines stood some 5 kilometres away from the Kasr, and were apparently composed only of standard troops. No monoliths, vehicles or any kind of artillery could be seen. Creed ordered the artillery positions to open fire, and sustain fire until the approaching forces were close enough to be encroached by their Leman Russ Tanks and their two Baneblades, already stationed outside the Kasr. He hoped this flanking maneuver would render the necrons a fair enough target for all the short-range infantry that was stationed at the Kasr, and hoped that at this time the Brother-Captain would come to his senses and damn well order a close assault.

But the Lord Castellan's careful preparations were disrupted by a combination of arrogance, low morale and misguided zeal. The Brother-Captain, growing more and more impatient as the necrons slowly approached, broke formation and ordered a jump assault. A full company followed him, demoralized as they were, they saw this as their chance at glory. The other four companies stood their ground; they had their orders, stupid as they may be.

Lord Castellan Creed was forced to interrupt the artillery barrage out of friendly fire danger, and shouted at the Brother-Captain to retreat.

"Get back here you damn fool! If you want to engage them at close range, let them reach our sights first! What are you doing?!"

The Brother-Captain and the Assault Marines that followed him paid Creed no mind. They were imbued with holy fervor, or perhaps holy fear. It was hard to distinguish at this point what was their motivation. Nevertheless, they made short work of the Necron Warriors. Although they were heavily damaged in the fight, their superior armor and close-combat capacity proved to be a winning combination. The initial strike after the landing was the key to victory: the necrons, though not subject to the effects of low morale, were immediately forced to break formation and engage hulking superhumans at short range. In this, they proved most inefficient.

Afterwards, Most battle-brothers were worn out, exhausted, their suits cracked and their weapons malfunctioning. But they hadn't suffered a single casualty. The Brother-Captain stood exultant over the bodies of his enemies, helding high over his head a standard with the Imperial Eagle. The Battlebrothers back at the Kasr cheered, but the Cadian Shock Troopers watched in horrified silence.


The Brother-Captain could scarcely hear him over the sound of his squad's triumphant praises to this fine assault. He did not hear the slight buzzing that filled the field around them. He did not see the greenish light that covered the corpses of their 'dead' enemies. He did not notice the approach of a much taller, better proportioned-figure wearing a ragged cloak and a scepter tingling with green lightning. The Necron Warriors made no sound as they rose. They were the silent legions. All around the victorious assault squads, their slain enemies rose from the ground and charged. And this time, the fighting company did not have a prayer.

All the men at the Kasr watched in horror as the squad was slaughtered in seconds. And from the necrons came no cheer of victory, no war cry. They simply left the corpses of their slain enemies at the ground, and resumed marching towards the Kasr. As ever, in silence.

Through all this, the Lorekeeper remained still.

Do you...

Do nothing? Your morale has hit rock botom. You would be worthless in combat. Let the Imperial Guard handle this. You suffered enough losses for today. Perhaps it is right that you should be so soundly beaten. The Emperor is dead; now is a time for grieving.


Do you comply with the Lord Castellan's original plan to order a close assault as soon as the necrons are flanked by the the Imperial Vehicles? You cannot be sure the Lord Castellan would agree with it, however, since he no longer trusts your Chapter to follow orders. Brother-Captain Ezekiel would lead this assault as he is the only one with any morale left to lead. However, he tends to be reckless with his men's lives.


Do you pray for the God of Battle to aid you in your darkest hour? The Emperor is dead, but another may guide us to victory. Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!



Imperial thought for the day: Abhor the Night, it is the Light that Endures!

"I would have a word with you, Lord Castellan."

"I'm sure you would, Brother-Captain Ezekiel, but I can't spare the time for you. We are in the midst of battle."

"Indeed. And I intend to rejoin it."

"No. I cannot trust your men to perform as they are expected to."

"Nor can I. Nevertheless, I must insist. We shall assault the xenos forces as soon as your vehicles move into position."

"No, you shall not, Space Marine. I cannot trust the life of my men to four hundred madmen who are catatonic in despair as their God has vanished from their lives."

"We do not consider Him a god, Lord Castellan. But I believe you have no alternative. The only troops at the gates are my chapter's three land raiders and the Land Hulk, all of which have been entrenched as artillery positions. You cannot use them to repel the xenos' attack when they come close, and your short-range infantry will not do enough damage to stop them before they overtake the gates. Even if my men fight unwell, and I assure you that they will, they would still serve a purpose: a meatshield, if you would, between the aliens and the Kasr. This will give you enough time to lock the Baneblades' weapons systems into a more advantageous position, hopefully obliterating the enemy."

"You would sacrifice your men for a chance at victory?"

"Yes. If you would not, then you are a poor commander. I will lead the attack. If my men fall, I die with them."

The Lord Castellan nodded, his face expressionless. And with the booming of the long-range cannons at the background, he waited for the enemy to close in.

Brother-Captain Ezekiel assembled the dispirited Battlebrothers, and told them of what was to happen. They acquiesced with little conviction, and prepared themselves for battle. Ezekiel approached the Dreadnought, and said "Do your duty."

The necrons reached the intended position a scant few minutes before sunrise: their leader was at the back of the army, his staff still crackling with the green lightning that had brought them all back from the dead. The Cadian Shock Troopers fired from their positions with their heavier, short-range artillery: mostly multimeltas and stormbolters. This inflicted a significant number of casualties, though not significant enough to stop the necron tide in any way. Then the infantry fire stopped, and Brother-Captain Ezekiel led the Exterminating Angels into the charge.

They fought badly, as he knew they would. Though he did not see a single one fall, most of their attacks were disjointed, their ranks barely holding formation. The only one making headway was Ezekiel himself, going directly for the Necron Lord, the swipes of his Warscythe and Shortsword cutting through the necron's armor with ease. His Warscythe emitted the same bright green glow of the necron's weapons along its surface. The Lorekeeper was alongside the battlebrothers, firing his multimeltas left and right and crushing his opponets with his powered fist.

The charge was short lived, however. As the first rays of sunlight had lit the combatants, the cyclonic torpedoes set to detonate inside the battlebarge went off. With a blast radius of fifty kilometers, it was hard to miss. The shockwave knocked the battlebrothers off their feet, and the excruciating silver light of the explosion made them all blind for a moment. When they recovered, the Necrons were gone. There were none of their fallen, left, either. They had simply phased out of existence.

Something else was missing, along with the remnants of the Battlebarge: The Cadian Pylon they had crashed into was gone, vaporized.

It was a strange victory, if a victory at all. The enemy had been vanquished, but not defeated.Afterwards, the Battlebrothers remained in silent puzzlement, still unsure of what to do, how to proceed from here. Most of them excused themselves to pray. The Lord Castellan asked that both Helfrich and Ezekiel attend him at his study. He said there were things to discuss.

Meanwhile, Techmarine Gaius was conferring with the cabal of Adeptus Mechanics that was attending to the 8th Cadian, and they offered him a proposal.

Do you...

Accept the Mechanicus offer to turn your Land Hulk into a decent vehicle? It would be a reliable, massive troop-transport, capable of carrying 4 companies along with its own medicae center and armory, and even a small Manufactorium for reprovisioning. Essentially, a Land Battlebarge, although much smaller, less armored, and less well-armed. It would take, however, some time, and the three land raider crusaders would have to be dismounted for parts.


Do you reject the offer? The Land Raiders are invaluable vehicles in battle, and a month? You might have to be ready at a moment's notice to move out of this Kasr! This could cripple your chapter.


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Imperial thought for the day: The traitorʹs hand lies closer than you think.

"You have both fought well, but I'm afraid I cannot say the same of your battlebrothers. Dire times indeed when those who are the vanguard's of the Emperor's wrath do nothing when the enemy is at the gates."

"They know no life that is not in His name. And you, Lord Castellan, seem to amuse yourself trying to provoke me. What is you wanted to talk to us about?"

"To talk facts, of course. I assume you have noticed the planet is barren. That is because of those xenos and their unholy machines. They drain all life, leave nothing, not even grass. They attacked our Kasrs at first, but they took no supplies, destroyed nothing. They were only intent on killing. They always headed for the Kasrs who showed sign of activity, so I reasoned if we camped out in the open, stayed hidden, in a way, we could avoid them for a while. This was going well until a squad of you assault marines arrived here, exploring. The few sentries I had left reported back to me: Naturally, I assume it was one of Abaddon's forward teams. I do not know if I am to be thankful for that mistake. We came to the Kasr, and fortified, prepared ourselves for battle. And then you came."

"Keep the mocking tone out of your tongue or I shall see to it that you have none" Interjected the Lorekeeper for the first time in the conversation. Brother Ezekiel gazed at him sternly, and shrugged.

"You must forgive my learned brother Helfrich, Lord Castellan. He has been something of a wreck since he learned the news of the Emperor's demise. Which in fact brings me to my point: How is that you too know he's dead?"

"We have navigators and many astropaths among us. All of them report the same thing. His presence is no longer in the warp. The astronomican is dark. What conclusion am I to draw from that? But you see, I am a practical man, Brother-Captain. For me, the Emperor is not a God, not a guiding figure: He is merely the foundation for our security. With him gone, I can but try to hold on a little longer. The men were not too shocked, either. They have seen Black Crusades come and go, daemons aplenty. What is one Emperor that sits hundreds of millions of miles away to them? These are my finest men. They fight and die for Cadia, and nothing else."

"The Holy Ordos would hardly be content with that state of affairs."

"The Inquisition does not dare touch us, Captain. When Chaos launches its raids, we are the first to fight. We have always been. Without us, the Imperium would be breached."

"Very well. Now tell me of the events that happened before we arrived. Were is the Imperial Navy? And the Traitor Legions? Where did those xenos come from?"

"The Pylons fired. That is all there is to it. The sky flashed green, and all the space and air vessels were struck down. Most of them were vaporized on the spot; the largest crashed on the surface. Some of the crew survived, but not many. I was able to rescue some. Ships who were farther away tried to warp out of orbit. We have not heard from them since. The astropaths report the same happening on every other world with Pylons. The little they can gleam from the screams and cries of mercy, it appears most other worlds have been as fortunate as us. As we speak, the Necrons carry on their dark harvest. I would be surprised if there is any man left alive at this point, anywhere else in the sector."

"And the Chaos Forces? Where are they?"

"As soon as the Pylons fired they faltered; many of their squads broke formation and started firing without direction or running away. Soon they all withdrew. The Pylons have an effect on them...That is all I know. And the Necrons, they come from inside the Pylons. That one you destroyed with your little pyrotechnics stunt was the nearest one to this Kasr; The next nearest one is more than a thousand miles away. I assume we are safe, for the moment. They march very slowly, and they seem very methodical. I don't think they are in any hurry to exact revenge, if they even understand what that means. It was your arrival that attracted them here. And ironically, your arrival that vanquished them as well."

"So, what do we do now?"

"We should destroy the Pylons" Said the Lorekeeper in his tombstone voice. "This would bury the xenos once and for all."

"And bring Chaos back. Besides, the Pylons are incredibly resilient. Nothing short of another cylonic torpedo would bring them down."

"Then we shall procure more of those. And I am not so sure Chaos would come back; The Pylons maintain an area of stable warp space between here and the Eye of Terror that is called the Cadian Gate. Without it, Chaos ships cannot reliably enter or leave the sector through warp travel."

"Disrupting the Cadian gate would leave us stranded forever in this place. All warp travel in the entire subsector would be disrupted as well; we may as well commit suicide right now, because if we do that, than the Imperium of Man would be gone from the Cadian Subsector." Said the Lord Castellan.

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. Warp travel seems to be already disrupted. Perhaps we can organize small pockets of survivors until something else comes along. And perhaps not. If nothing else, we would strand the necrons as well, if they use warp travel. And we would make sure that the bridge between the Eye of Terror and the rest of the Imperium would be destroyed forever. There would never again be another Black Crusade."

"Hmm. I must reflect about this" Said Brother-Captain Ezekiel, resting his hands on the Lord Castellan's ornate marble table, and looking out of the window into the spiralling cloud of smoke that emerged from the cyclonic torpedoes' blast site.

What shall you do now? This is an exercise that the Barbarian attempted before without much success, but I think, since this story is a lot less open-ended and very much more focused in a small force of man instead of a major galactic empire, it might work. What you have to do is this: Write, or at least agree on a paragraph on what will be your objectives from now on and how do you propose to go about them.

Additionally, if you want, you may also writer another paragraph about how you wish your Chapter to deal with the Emperor's demise. This is not necessary but would make it better for you as players when facing...demoralizing decisions.

I'll assume two standard days will be time enough, but it can be less or more depending on how things go. Any doubts about anything, ask.

Meanwhile, i'll post small fluff updates such as the Chapter's new organization, some information on Brother-Ezekiel, and so on.



"Well Lord Castellan, you have told us all about what is happening on the planet, but you neglected one particular point: What do you intend to do about it? Run and hide until you die?"

"That is not something I propose to tell you."

"We are allies, Lord Creed."

"I'd be a damn fool if I'd have a pariah for an ally, captain" spat Lord Castellan, eyeing the Astartes' weapons "The psykers told me all about you, aye, they did. They can't bear the sight of you. They say you and those necrons out there are very much alike."

"Lord Castellan Creed" Intoned the Dreadnought in his leaden voice "Whatever else Ezekiel may be, he is an Adeptus Astartes first and foremost. You have shown us nothing but contempt so far but I assure you, we are not as broken as you assume. We have saved the Imperium countless times, as have your Regiments. If you deny us friendship, then at least accord us due respect as warriors."

The Lord Castellan's face stayed emotionless, his eyes darting from the pariah to the dreadnought. A pair so absurd as to be almost heretical, he thought. And here they were, fighting the same enemy.

"Very well. Though if I may suggest, Lorekeeper Helfrich, if you wish us to maintain that respect you would do well to have your chapter provide a better showing when battle next comes. What I propose to do is simple: Survive and wait."

"Wait for what?"

"As soon as...All this began, we sent out distress signals to all nearby sectors. We asked for assistance and instructed the ships to warp far out of orbit so as to avoid the Pylon fire, and immediately start orbital bombardment on the Pylons. I figured that might give any ship a chance to land and provide assistance against that xenos. However, at the time, I was unaware that warp travel had been disrupted. We received no messages back, apart from one. It was in the Calixis Sector, from one of the Holy Ordos' Black Ships."

Brother-Captain Ezekiel raised an eyebrow in amused contempt. The dreadnought let out a litany of curses that would give pause to even the most zealous torturer.

"Are you proposing to tell me - to tell us - that the Inquisition is on its way here?" Growled the Lorekeeper, his powered fist clenching and unclenching as if something was wrong with the machine spirit.

"Aye, that's about it. Though there's more, of course. This Inquisitor, he presented himself as...Let's see here...Aye, Silas Marr, of the Ordos..." The Lord Castellan raised an eyebrow in puzzlement "Unspecified? Well, far be it from me to question the workings of the holy Inquisition. Anyhow, this chap Silas Marr, and I say chap with utmost respect" Said the Lord Castellan with a sardonic smile "Said he still had means of communicating and navigating through the warp. Said he had "unusual" assets at his disposal, and as soon as I told him about our situation with the necrons, he said he was setting course to Cadia. Bringing along two full companies of Deathwatch marines, he said, along with his 'unusual assets', whatever those may be. I sent him the coordinates of one of our spaceports, the one least surrounded by pylons. He shoud be here in, oh, two or three months. Course, now the spaceport has been overrun by the necrons, but I reckon we can take it back."

"So we are waiting for the Inquisition to come."

"That's about right, yes. Say, Captain, "Exterminating Angels"...I've never heard that name before. What founding are you?"

"That is just an alias, not a name we chose for ourselves. We are defectors from the Black Templars." Answered the Lorekeeper, who had never liked the moniker in the first place.

"Oh." Creed considered this for a moment "I'm guessing the Ordos will be none too pleased about seeing you fellows here, then."



this concludes the fluff updates. I hope you find this additional information useful, since you asked about the Lord Castellan's plans. I'll update as soon as we have an agreement on how to proceed, or until the end of the weekend. whichever comes sooner.



Imperial thought for the day: A moment of laxity spawns a lifetime of heresy.

It should not, by any means, be an unusual alliance. The Imperial Guard was the backbone of the Imperium, and the Astartes Chapters were its sword and shield. But Lord Castellan Creed mistrusted the Lorekeeper, who mistrusted him in turn, and Brother-Captain Ezekiel mistrusted everybody else. So this joint cooperation effort was fragile at best.

It was agreed that the Imperial Guard would hand over one hundred of their finest gene-seed compatible whiteshields for initiation into the chapter. In exchange, the chapter would offer full assistance in case of any battle against the necrons or other marauding forces. The first show of cooperation, the Lord Castellan had said, was the securing of the spaceport in which Silas Marr and his retinue would be landing. The Lorekeeper clenched his teeth at this, but Ezekiel merely shrugged. He knew Silas Marr, had known him as a boy long ago, when he was recruited by him to serve the Holy Ordos, albeit unwittingly.

The techmarines and the techpriests finally stopped shouting at one another and throwing wrenches around, and started cooperating. The Land Hulk was finished within a month, and now it seemed something worthy of an Astartes Chapter. It was essentialy a miniature-sized version of a Battlebarge, but with tracks instead of turbines. It possessed formidable short-range weaponry scavenged from the Land Raiders, although its long-range artillery was somewhat lacking. The vehicle was 800 meters in length, and at its highest point reached 150 meters in height, dwarfing the Kasr. However, this high point was only an accelerator tower for Drop Pods, giving this vehicle the ability to deploy deep-strike squads without being in orbit. Of course, the deep-striking range was severely diminished, and the structure was the most vulnerable part of the Land Hulk, but this suited the Chapter fine: Deep Striking was their preferred method of combat.

Excepting the Accelerator Tower, the rest of the vehicle was about 30 meters in height, and capable of supporting up to six full companies of Astartes. It had a medicae center, an amory and a small manufactorium, though none of them were fully stocked. The vehicle was however very slow. The enginseers said they did their best; this was already a heretical design since it was not an approved Standard Template Construct, but they did not seem to care much, actually rejoicing in finally being able to use their creativity instead of endless replicating the same designs.

Techmarine Gaius decided to take the thing for a ride while the newly-recruited scout company was still inside, receiving the apothecaries' ministrations and initial gene-seed implants. They wore a slightly modified version of Imperial Carapace Armor, with the chapter's colors and a thinner plating, to integrate the scout's targeting and infiltration systems. This was techmarine Gaius' great pride: He had managed to create a scout armor of sorts with only a handful of materials he had at hand.

Techmarine Gaius' decision riding out of the Kasr in the Land Hulk was both to test its systems and its current residents: No Astartes Chapters allows entry to their ranks to anyone, regardless of origin or previous training, without first undergoing a trial by combat. The Land Hulk's sensor arrays detected a small foraging party of necrons, 200 in number, some fifty kilometers away from the Kasr. They were not heading towards it, but this would be the trial the new recruits would face.

They were awakened by the apothecaries, handed an assortment of weapons (ironically, most of them were from the Lord Castellan's stockpiles), and warned they would be facing their first enemy as Astartes. Brother-Captain Ezekiel had been assigned as Acting Scout Captain, much to his amusement, and was to lead the neophytes into battle. This would be the first test of the Accelerator Tower: Gaius calculated its range to be about fifty kilometres, and aimed the drop pods directly inside the necron formation.

The entire structure shook as the Accelerator Tower launched its drop pods, one after the other, ten times total. Shook, but hold. The precision was not very high: many of the pods landed at least half a kilometre away from the xenos, and the pod containing Ezekiel miscalculated drastically and crashed into a a nearby mountain range five kilometres away from the necrons. Techmarine gaius took notes and made adjusments, all the while watching the battle.

The recruits performed admirably: Though they were all sixteen years old, they had been drilled to near-perfection by Cadian Commissars and their planet's uncessant wars. They were survivors of the Thirteenth Black Crusade, no pale-skinned, green recruits from some backwater feudal planet. They kept formation, never breaking rank, and lashed out at the Necrons in a thoroughly disciplined fashion. None of them fell, though the battle dragged on for a while. When Brother-Captain Ezekiel arrived with the ten-men squad under his command, the fighting was all but over. He smiled without much humour, and congratulated the neophytes on their first victory. The neophytes answered that it was not over yet.

A Necron Lord was arriving in the distance, followed by two squads of the necrons' most fearsome infantry: Pariahs, humans with no presence in the warp who had been assimilated into the Necron army and covered with their living metal, wielding fractal blades called "Warscythes", capable of cutting through even a Land Raider's armor. As the Lord drew closer, holding high his Staff of Light, the felled necrons warriors around the neophytes started to stir and rebuild.

Do you...

Let the neophytes and brother-captain Ezekiel face this threat only with the support of the Land Hulk's underperforming long-range weaponry? This was more than they asked for, and perhaps more than they could handle, but it was truly a trial by combat. If they succeeded, both the Chapter and the Imperial Guard's morale would be raised; it would prove that the decision to cooperate had been the right one, and it would be a vote of confidence on the neophyte's abilities, one that would not go unnoticed by the Imperial Guard or the neophytes. Let them taste the steel of the Emperor's Blades; young as they are, they are Space Marines, and they will do their duty!


Do you order a few Assault Squads to aid them? Three assault squads had been following the Land Hulk, eager to see the neophytes performance, and are within Jump distance of the battle. This would give the neophytes much needed support against these fearsome foes, but it would be seen by the Imperial Guard as a vote of no-confidence in the ability of their own men, and the Neophytes would not be pleased. It would, however, greatly raise the morale of the Chapter itself, engaging in battle once again, close-combat against the Enemies of Man, Imperial Guard be damned!



Imperial thought for the day: For those who seek perfection there can be no rest this side of the grave


"All squads, maintain formation and concentrate your fire on the warriors. Do not let them get up. Maintain your positions."

A hail of bolter and las fire scorched the ground around the scout company as they frantically tried to prevent the fallen necrons from getting back up, with mixed results. It certainly slowed them down, but the necron lord's presence would not allow them to be destroyed until he was. The Lord closed in slowly, the two squads of eight pariahs each at his sides, keeping pace in silence.

When Ezekiel seemed satisfied that the warriors had been slowed down enough, he shouted "All squads, break formation and seek cover! Suppresive fire on the Lord's escort, do not engage them at close range! I repeat, do not engage them at close combat! Ranged weapons only! Switch to plasma if you got them. If you don't " - Ezekiel smiled once again his little humourless smile - "Hope that the Emperor protects."

The neophytes immediately complied, used to taking orders as they were. They found cover behind the several drop pods scattered around the battlefield, and exchanged fire with the Pariahs, who distanced themselves from the Necron Lord to try and engage them in close-combat. The Necron Warriors were almost completely reassembled.

"Gaius, I'm letting off a signalling beacon. Fire at will as soon as you've locked on."

"Yes, Captain" Buzzed the comm-bead in Ezekiel's ear, as the techmarine brought to bear the Land Hulk's long range artillery on the position marked by Ezekiel, right in the middle of the rising necron warriors. Targeting systems seemed faulty. Gaius cursed the Omnissiah under his breath and climbed up to the top of the Land Hulk to activate the systems manually. By the time he did, the reawakened necron warriors were distancing themselves from the signalling beacon, encircling the neophytes positions and preparing to fire at them while the Pariahs closed in on the front.

"Warp take you, damned machine!" Cursed Gaius, frantically trying to get the rangefinder cannons into firing position.

Ezekiel, mid-way in his advance towards the Necron Lord, halted as he heard the imprecation in his comm-bead, looked around and noticed the distinct lack of artillery shells exploding in the night. What was Gaius doing? No time for that now. He saw the hopeless situation; he could not order the neophytes to retreat because they would be almost surely anihilated by the enemies' gauss flayers, and besides, there was nowhere to retreat to: the pariahs were closing in on the other side. He sighed, and prayed they had received extensive close quarters combat training. Their first victory had been a combination of initiative, suprise, and even luck: some of the drop pods had smashed several necron warriors to pieces. But now...it would be death or glory. There was no alternative.

"All squads: CHARGE!"

And charge they did.

Ezekiel himself charged towards the Necron Lord, dodging bolts of green lightining as he dashed from side to side, confident of victory. He swung his Warscythe in an overhead arc while he trusted with his shortsword, both of which missed their mark. The necron lord teleported a few metres away, and started firing his staff again.

"Oh, frak this" Said Ezekiel, throwing his shortsword away. He took the warscythe in both hands and leapt, leaving himself wide open to the Necron's Staff as he swung his scythes high over his head. The Necron Lord trust out the Staff, and fired, hitting his mark and sending the Grim Reaper crashing down into a pile of rocks just beside him. A gaping hole in his chest-plate was visible to the Lord for an instant, before Ezekiel took off his head with a sweeping strike of his warscythe. The Necron Lord's body immediately phased out of existence.

The pariahs halted their advance, but the necron warriors took no notice of his demise since they were too occupied with the neophytes. Though not a single one of them carried a proper meelee weapon, most relying on chainknife-bayonets mounted on their weapons, they had charged with the righteous zeal of the Emperor's Chosen, and succedeed in breaking enemy formation. After that, it was simple, though not easy: Necron Warriors are not formidable in close combat, but they are extremely strong and resilient. The neophytes could not afford to give them one moment's peace to target their gauss flayers, for that would surely mean their doom. So they fought the necrons in a frenzy, not able to give in one inch, not a single moment's pause, wielding their improvised meelee weapons with righteous fury.

And then the boom of cannon fire echoed in the battlefield, a column of smoke emerging from one of the pariah squads' last position. Ezekiel was close enough to feel the heat of the blast and have shrapnel embedded all over his armor.

"Hold fire! Hold fire, you bloody wrenchmonkey!" Cried the Captain as he retrieved his phase shortsword from the ground and charged towards the other group of pariahs, who were still aimless without their Lord's guidance. Ezekiel descended upon them like a true exterminating angel: This was why they called him the Grim Reaper. His scythe's first swing took off the heads of three pariahs, and the rest soon followed.

Techmarine Gaius surveyed the battlefield. All the initiates were standing, bloody, but unbowed. The necron carcasses had phased out and disappeared, as they did when they were defeated. Ezekiel was bleeding from a hole in his chest, but seemed rather nonchalant about it. The Land Hulk retrieved all Battlebrothers, and headed back towards the Kasr.

Inside, the neophytes stood silently. Though their implants had barely time to take root, and their armor had no insignias or Aquila's wings, they had defeated the enemy. They were Battlebrothers now. The truth of this hit them like one of Ezekiel's blows: They were Battlebrothers. Space Marines. They were in silence because they didn't know what to say.

At the Kasr, the assembled Imperial Guard cheered at their victory, and so did a few of the less stern Battlebrothers. But most of them remained in grim silence: They considered Ezekiel's tactics reckless, and could have well costed them another entire company. He should've ordered the Assault Squads to engage, they thought, even if this was the neophytes' battle trial. This was not the time for heroics.

Still, that is what they thought. In their hearts, heroics was all that mattered. It was the very foundation of the Adeptus Astartes to succeed when no-one else could. To fight to the end. Never retreat, never surrender. So while their mistrust for Brother-Captain Ezekiel grew, so too did their confidence in their own condition as Space Marines. Morale experienced a slight boost.

Lord Castellan Creed was deep in conversation with the Lorekeeper as the neophytes arrived, and acknowledged them with a nod. Techmarine Gaius engaged in a heated argument with the senior Mechanics present; clearly the Land Hulk was still something of a hit-and-miss.

Do you...

Accept the Castellan's outlined plan of retaking the spaceport? The Lord Castellan is an experienced leader and a gifted tactician and strategist, he has defended Cadia single-handedly from several warp incursions and emerged victorious from every one; to follow his lead brings no dishonour and will almost certainly lead to victory. The Lord Castellan has displayed a brilliant mind and insightful eye in your presence, and since you have chosen cooperation, you could not do better than to accept his leadership in this particular case. But some in the Chapter might feel they are merely grunts doing the Guard's work. Have they not broken through countless sieges, after all, and had they not also slain countless Enemies of Man?


Do you draw up another battle plan involving the Lorekeeper's advice? The Lord Castellan would accept this grudgingly, though the Lorekeeper is also a gifted strategist and the Black Templars masters of siegecraft, he has become unpredictable of late: his tangible hate for the Inquisition might make him sacrifice total victory over the necrons for tactical superiority over the Holy Ordos when it arrives. Though this would greatly increase the Chapter's sense of independence, there are some who few the Lorekeeper has become a burden, rather than a boon.


Do you...

Accept the Enginseers' advice and take the Land Hulk to the nearest Manufactorum? The thing is obviously still unreliable, and nothing more can be done without the appropriate facilities. This would involve a long journey through the tundra, coming relatively close to several pylons, and you cannot be sure you will be back in time for the assault on the spaceport. The Land Hulk would also have to carry the neophytes, since they are still in the initial stages of their gene-seed implantation and need to be monitored by apothecaries at all times. Techmarine Gaius and Brother-Captain Ezekiel would lead this expedition, and the Lord Castellan has graciously offered five hundred men of his own Shock Troopers to accompany you. It would be excellent training for the neophytes, and a definite assertion of just how much the Astartes and the Imperial Guard can do together. And of course, you would finally have a reliable, battle-ready, heavily armed-and-armored troop transport probably unmatched throughout the Imperium, an invaluable asset in every future battle you take part in. Expect to face heavy resistance.


Do you reject the enginseers' advice and do what you can with what you have? This is a far cry from facing 200 necrons on an open battlefield, you would be saddled with 600 hundred men travelling through the planet with no means of support and encountering Emperor knows how many pockets of enemy resistance. It is a fool's errand. The Land Hulk may not be reliable, but at least it's operational and has shown its capacity at deep striking. You would also have the certainty it would be available for the siege of the spaceport, although you're not sure how much it could do to help. Besides, what if you have to evacuate the Kasr at a moment's notice? You would be effectively left stranded should anything happen. And even worse, what if they fail and the Land Hulk is destroyed? Than you are truly doomed. Better to be safe than to be sorry. Your chapter has taken enough losses as it is, and you might take many more before all of this is over.



As soon as the Land Hulk drove out of the gates and into the barren tundras of Cadia heading towards the Manufactorum, a cadian Scout Trooper arrived running at the Lord Castellan's study, sweating and out of breath.

"Lord Castellan, a huge vessel has just crashed north of our position!"

"What kind of vessel?"

"It looked...orkish, sir."

The Lord Castellan rested his forehead on his hand, and sighed. The battle plan had just been finished: Lorekeeper Helfrich offered fierce resistance and the Lord Castellan was on the verge of giving in to some of his demands before a few Brother-Captains of the Chapter backed him up against the Lorekeeper. The Lorekeeper left the meeting disgruntled and muttering something about respect and duty. Creed was relieved that he was not the only one to think the Dreadnought disturbing. And now, as he was just about to summon all his officers for a briefing, this happens.



This is how it's gonna go down. Several things need to be done before the assault on the spaceport can begin, and you won't have time nor personnel to do them all. Consider these 'missions', DoW II style, and they'll play out much the same as the Lorekeeper's incursion into the Battlebarge all that time ago. There's a catch, however: You will be only in direct control of one of these missions: The others will be proceed in the background, and their chances of success wil be decided through statistical analysis and a random number generator! yippee for mondblut!

Note that if any of the NPC missions are not successful, failure will mean only retreat, not the loss of the squad. However, should the PC-controlled mission fail...well, we'll see how it goes. Also, the PC-controlled mission will have random, exotic and special encounters (oh, woot, loot!) that will not be tied directly to the mission's objective. Also, if you assume direct control of the mission, its difficulty rating obviously changes (for better or worse, that's up to you). Let me break that down for you.




1) Recon the spaceport: We need to know the enemies' current position and numbers for a successful and precise attack.
Difficulty: Easy

2) Plant signalling beacons on the pylons near the spaceport: Lord Castellan suggested that if Marr's ship can launch the cyclonic torpedoes immediately coming out of warp, it'll have a much better chance of landing in one piece. For this to happen he'll need the targeting beacons planted so he can home in on the pylons swiftly.
Difficulty: Hard

3)Investigate the crashed Space Hulk: We can't afford to have Orks charging us from behind while we battle the necrons. Find out if there are any still alive, wipe them out if you can: if you can't, retreat and report.
Difficulty: Hard

4)Scout the nearest Kasrs for supplies and ammunition: Your current Kasr is running low on both supplies and ammunition. Lord Castellan creed has placed several cachés of both in many Kasrs around Cadia. He has given you the coordinates to go and retrieve them.
Difficulty: Medium

5)Patrol the Kasr's area for necron activity: Techmarine Gaius has reason to believe that there might be more Necron Forces near the Kasr similar to the ones battled by the neophytes. It would be wise to know if this is true.
Difficulty: Medium

6)Venture inside a Pylon: Lorekeeper Helfrich still insists that the Pylons should be destroyed or at least deactivated, and is trying to assemble a squad of brave (and suicidal) Astartes to venture inside one and find out if this is feasible.
Difficulty: Impossible

7)Engage the enemy: The Chapter is sorely in need of a battle to raise morale. Head to one of the pylons near the spaceport, find its Necron Lord and his honor guard, and destroy them.
Difficulty: Hard

8)Investigate your former battlebarge's crash site: Scouts have reported unusual and strange phenomena happening at the barren wasteland caught in the torpedo's blast radius. Find out what is going on.
Difficulty: Medium

9)Purge the heretic: One of the Regiment's Primaris Psyker has seemingly fallen to Chaos and fled the Kasr with a small contingent of traitor guardsmen. Find them and bring them back, dead or alive.
Difficulty: Easy

10)Kill the xeno: Scouts have reported a strange creature roaming the area near the Kasr: They have been unable to get an accurate description, but it appears to have several long bladed limbs and is seemingly capable of disappearing in plain sight. It has out-stealthed the scouts consistently, though it has not sought to engage them in battle.
Difficulty: Medium



Imperial thought for the day: Blessed are the Gun Makers

The Force Commander left immediately as soon he received the news of the crash: He took four squads with him, all brimming with so much weaponry they left both guardsmen and astartes baffled. When the Lore Keeper asked him what the in the warp was going on, the Force Commander answered he was on garbage duty. The devastator squad, in particular, looked like a mechanical porcupine of bolter barrels, krak missiles' tips and plasma ejectors. How they hoped to reach their destination in any time within the foreseeable future without any troop transport and carrying so much load to weigh them down was a mystery.

But the Force Commander was undaunted. He had requisitioned a Chimera APC from the vehicle pool, and when Lord Creed's aide came down to tell him it was impossible to part with a vehicle at such a crucial time, the commander answered times were about to get a great deal more crucial if they weren't allowed to take one measly chimera. They might get excruciatingly crucial even, said the force commander. The officer signed the permission slip hastily and watched as the Strike Team loaded the vehicle with their heaviest gear, along with their apotechary and techmarine, who, the commander had said, were the backbone of any Chapter and had to be protected at all times. He sounded absolutely serious when he said it.

Strike Team Alpha of the Chapter drove out of the Kasr at high speed, its infantry almost skipping and jumping to keep pace with the vehicle. The Space Hulk had crashed over two hundred kilometers to the north of the Kasr, so merely getting there might take more than a full day. By nightfall, they had covered roughly half the distance to the crashed ship. They were space marines and needed no food or water or rest; all they needed was faith and ammunition. So they carried on. But they weren't alone; something had begun stalking them soon after they left the Kasr and now it was growing more bold as night's darkness offered its auspicious cover. The commander had used the Techmarine's Auspex several times during the day to try and locate the creature, without much success. They were travelling through deserted tundra, devoid of life and vegetation. It was a vast plain, with nowhere to take cover or hide in or about. The force commander couldn't fathom how this creature had eluded them for a full day and eluded them still.

The only reason he even knew they were being stalked was that the Devastator Sargeant, while testing his Missile Launcher's targeting and tracking systems, had accidentaly captured movement nearby. Not one of the men could see or hear anything. The Missile Launcher's systems kept detecting movement intermittently throughout the entire day, and the techmarine assured the force commander the weapon was in perfect working condition, so this was not an error in the machine spirit's reasoning. The Force Commander's reasoning, however, had to pause at this and reconsider some basic assumptions: Missile Launchers had machine spirits? Techmarine Virgil assured the commander that all machines, however small, were children of the Omnissiah. The rest of the strike team sighed at this. Virgil's less-than-orthodox ramblings about the Mechanicus Cult were a constant source of distress for the Chapter, but he was their finest field techmarine.

Still, the Force Commander wished the Lorekeeper had assigned them somebody else.

Do you...

Investigate? It will be but a minor detour on the way to Glory. Perhaps this is the same creature the guardsmen scout had reported, or perhaps it is a necron wraith, tracking their movements and setting up an ambush. It pays to be wary.


Do you carry on? The creature, whatever it was, seemed to have no intention nor capacity of harming them in any way. And the area was clear for miles, not even a Pylon in sight. So it was unlikely anything could happen to them if they left it alone. They had their mission, and they should carry it out. Duty prevails.



Imperial thought for the day: Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment

The Force Commander ordered a perimeter sweep just out of habit, and climbed atop the Chimera were the techmarine had disassembled the three missile launchers and had mounted their tracking systems into a crude, roughly triangular rotating array linked to his Auspex. The commander asked Virgil if he was triangulating the beast's position, and the techmarine sighed. They both stood quietly while the machine emitted the occasional beep indicating that movement had been detected again. Each time, the commander ordered the assault squad to jump to the position and search it thoroughly, with no result. Eventually the commander recalled all squads and told them to rest for a while; he was at a loss.

The apothecary they had brought along was the first to notice that there was vegetation growing on the previously lifeless soil. It was a sickly, thin grass, translucent and purplish. He followed the trail of vegetation for a while; it would be invisible beneath sunlight. It seemed to lead towards their stated destination: The space hulk was a darker spot under the bright moonlight, already visible from this distance. He collected a few samples out of curiosity, and took them back to the APC, which started to beep frantically as the techmarine's contraption detected multiple incoming contacts, all closing in on the vehicle. All around them, the ground rose and what they assumed was frozen tundra assumed a translucent form under the moonlight: Scores of six-limbed creatures, even taller than space marines, surrounded them.

Though their shape was indistinct because of their unnatural cloaking, the moon reflected brightly from all the upturned pairs of scything talons that stood well above the creatures heads and curved downwards. The apothecary barely had time to let out a gasp before one of the creatures leapt an impossible distance and pinned him down to the ground with its talons. But an apothecary veteran of countless black templars crusades was no stranger to ambush: he immediately twisted out of the creatures grasp and let fly a hail of bolter fire that trailed the night sky. The apothecary dropped a flash grenade and scurried back to the Chimera, re-joining formation with his battle-brothers.

As the flash grenade went off, the creature's chameleonic cloaking seemed to falter and fizzle as a greenish substance oozed from the holes left in its body by the apothecary's bolter rounds. For a moment, before it leapt again, all the space marines could see it plain: Its two scything talons, its hindlegs absurdly muscled, its slender but powerful body, and its two clawed arms hanging limply besides it. But most terrifying of all, and most telling, was the creature's face: long and narrow, its eyes dots of grayish-green almost invisible. From the lowest half of its head emerged long tentacles covered with bony spurs, its purpose to feed from the brains of its enemies and learn from them.

It leapt, and with it, leapt the swarm, all nearly invisible in the dark. You are fighting one of the deadliest enemies known to man, and you have fallen into its trap. You cannot see it. You cannot hear it. You can only hear the crackle of bolter fire around you as your squads frantically change position to try and hit an invisible enemy. All you can see are silhouettes and shadows under the moonlight. And the last thing that went through your mind was: why? what are they doing here?

The last thought, that is, before you heard Virgil shouting "What is your order, Force Commander?!"

"Fall back! We cannot fight what we cannot see! Disengage and prepare to fight by wire! We will follow the auspex arrays' indicator dots to target and fire with precision!"

or did you shout...

"Hold fast, men! Lay down suppressive fire in all directions! Devastators, deploy in a wide arc and cut them down! We don't have time to play hide-and-seek with the Auspex; kill as many as you can and they'll scatter!"



Imperial thought for the day: the only reward for treachery is retribution

"Hold fast, men! Lay down suppressive fire in all directions! Devastators, deploy in a wide arc and cut them down! We don't have time to play hide-and-seek with the Auspex; kill as many as you can and they'll scatter! Techmarine Virgil, man the Chimera's flamer! I'll cover you." Cried the Force Commander in steely tones.

All around the armored transport, the night was illuminated by bursts of flamer fire and melta streams, and punctuated by the muzzle flash of the unrelenting bolter barrage. Occasionally, a Lictor's shape could be seen against the light. Most often, it couldn't. The Chimera's flamer swung continuously in wild arches of searing fire, while the Force Commander stood beside the techmarine and fired his plasma pistol methodically, utilizing the Auspex array to divine the location of any Lictor approaching the vehicle.

And the battle raged on throughout the night. Alien and human screams alike could be heard, and the only reassurance the Astartes could draw from all of this was the feel of their brothers-in-arms by their sides. The tyranid swarm was, in a way, in disadvantage: The overzealousness of the Force Commander caused him to come with so many men and weaponry that establishing a solid perimeter around such a small vehicle was incredibly easy. The Lictor's only advantage, surprise and swiftness in a single fatal strike, was denied to them: Though the space marines could be badly wounded, they were unlikely to be felled in a single blow by these beasts. So the beasts landed a blow and quickly leapt away as the barrage of fiery death resumed from the battlebrothers' weapons.

The Force Commander, realizing that, while the advantage was theirs, they would be bled continuously by the Lictor's leaping stealth assaults, ordered the strike team to engage the creatures in meelee whenever they came in range, intent on denying the beasts' main advantage of mobility. This was a gamble: While it would effectively incapacitate a part of the tyranid's fighting force, the commander did not know how many of them there were. If there were too many, then the lack of suppressive fire would allow the xenos to overwhelm and kill them soon enough, even if some of the xenos fell to the Chapter's blades. However, the commander reasoned thus: Lictors almost never hunted in groups. A swarm of them was completely unheard of. He was banking on the assumption that it couldn't be very large.

While he never did discover just how many of them there were, his strategy proved fruitful: As soon as the Tyranids realized that they were being pinned down whenever they tried a leaping assault, they interrupted their attack and vanished. When dawn broke, a few bodies were scattered around the Chimera. They had killed perhaps half a dozen lictors, now no longer camouflaged as they lay dead. But among the fallen, some battlebrothers could be counted as well. While it was too soon to tell if they would live or die, at least twelve men, double the number of felled xenos, had been incapacitated and their bodies bore gruesome wounds, their armors torn by the beasts' scything talons.

The Force Commander could recognize these were not normal Lictors as he surveyed the corpses, but that was the extent of his knowledge on that. Their bodies seemed more slender and better proportioned. And their camouflage was practically a mantle of invisibility, something said to be possible only through sorcery. And their pack was too large, their trap too elaborate... But further considerations on this matter would have to wait the return of Brother-Captain Ezekiel, he was the only one in the chapter to have served in the Deathwatch and faced tyranids constantly, in all their various strains.

Do you...

Abandon your mission and immediately return to the Kasr to report this incident? This could very well be a tyranid forward team, heralding a full scale invasion! The commanding officers must be told, and your wounded must be tended to. Tyranids in Cadia are unheard of. This is of utmost urgency, it could mean a reappraisal of every plan drawn up till now! Every recent assumption must be examined in light of these events. The space hulk can wait.


Do you press on? The space hulk is not far, now, and you should reach it at sunset. Though your forces have been diminished, a mission is still a mission, and to report back without full knowledge would be disgraceful. Besides, who's to tell the space hulk and the tyranids are not connected? Perhaps your mission might hold the key to understanding what exactly happened. If the wounded battle-brothers do not survive, then they shall surely sit at the right side of the Emperor when they pass.



Imperial thought for the day: Ignorance is its own reward

The wounded were stowed away inside the Chimera, the apothecary doing hist best to tend to them. He warned the Force Commander, however, that the most he could do was keep them comatose until they reached a proper medicae facility, and he could not be sure any of them would make it that far. The commander nodded grimly, but said to himself that it was sweet and fitting to die for the Emperor. He ordered the remaining squads to march on and continue with the mission. Now it was even more essential to find out what this space hulk contained.

Throughout the day, the improvised auspex array continued to capture intermittent movement around the chimera. The commander reasoned the Lictors were probably tracking them down and preparing for another ambush. The creatures would use their diminished numbers and nervousness to strike a killing blow. The Force Commander meant to see that they didn't. But he couldn't even be sure they were not walking into another, much deadlier trap: What if the entire space hulk was infested? They would surely not survive. With that in mind, he had already decided to sent the Assault Squad back to the Kasr as soon as they made an initial recon of the crashed ship, to report everything they had found so far. It would cripple their assault force, but this data was too important to die with them.

When they were no more than half a kilometre away from the ship, the auspex array started beeping frantically once again. The Force Commander sighed, and ordered all squads to run towards the Space Hulk; they would use its wreckage as cover while the reassembled Missile Launchers engaged in a devastating salvo of frag projectiles. He was already marching ahead of the Chimera in an accelerated pace when he heard a shout.

"Belay that order! All squads, maintain your positions. Commander, this is not another ambush!"

The Force Commander climbed back atop the Chimera with a mind to give the techmarine a sound beating for insubordination, but Virgil started babbling immediately after

"Look! It's warp activity, commander. And it's spiking. The chimera's sensors can pick it up as well. It's too much warp activity, commander, all of it coming from the space hulk. Wherever it came from, it spent a great deal of time drifting in the warp. Centuries, perhaps. I doubt there's any orks or tyranids inside, or at least any still alive."

The Force Commander was silent. He checked the auspex's readings, and the chimera's, and checked them again. The techmarine was correct. This ship was infused with perhaps a millenium of warp residue. They approached carefully. The hulk was over 15 kilometres long, and at the center of the fused mass of ships lay what seemed to be a very ancient Astartes Battle Barge, its blackened spires emerging from the hulk's asymmetrical composition. Was this a Chaos raid? Thought the force commander. What was happening in Cadia? Necrons, chaos, tyranids...None of it made any sense. Was the whole universe converging on it? And what of the Black Crusade? Why had Abaddon fled?

"He did not. It was I who had him leave." Answered Ahriman, supreme sorcerer of the Thousand Sons traitor legion, his azure and golden armor catching the last rays of the setting sun as he emerged from the battlebarge, hundreds of Rubric Marines at his back.

"It seems you are pleased with whittling down my enemies for me. Such a waste of potential, alas, that you should be here, at this time. What is the saying you repeat from your corpse emperor? Ignorance is its own reward? Perhaps you should have followed it. And then again, your Imperium has remained ignorant of this planet's secrets for too long. But i'm afraid I cannot allow you the reprieve of wisdom. For you, today, the reward for ignorance is oblivion."

As Chaosfire erupted from the Sorcerer's staff, the Force Commander could only cry out "Fight to the last men and the last round! For the Emperor!" The Sorcerer came down like a wolf on the fold, and his cohorts were gleaming in azure and gold.

The swarm came down upon them. Hundreds of tyranids, lictors, raveners, thousands of gaunts. All of them engaged the Chaos Sorcerer and his animated brethren in battle, seemingly indifferent to the Force Commander and his few battle-brothers.

It seems you have been caught in the eye of the storm. Your apothecary has fallen to madness and is giggling to himself while he disembowels your wounded brothers inside the Chimera. If you stay between the tyranids and Ahriman's forces, you shall surely die in the crossfire. Do you...

Try to flee? Enough is enough. Even a faithful mind can see the odds stacked against it. You must report this...this unbelievable turn of events to your Chapter and to the Lord Castellan! The game was rigged from the start. And while you're at it, execute the apothecary and throw his body to the swarm.


Do you stand your ground and die gloriously? Perhaps you can take advantage of both your enemies and see that they all receive a piece of the Emperor's wrath. You are space marines. Act like them, and take your side at right of the Emperor in death.


Do you accept the gifts of Papa Nurgle as offered by your apothecary and beat back the odious forces of the Changer of Ways while you defile the minds and bodies of these beasts? What a glorious sight it would be, the entirety of Cadia covered in the foul miasma of Nurgle's gifts!



Imperial thought for the day: The Emperor protects

The force-commander undid the straps on his jump-pack harness and handed it over to techmarine virgil. This was his plan from the beginning: to recon the place and no matter what they found, send the Assault Team back to base with the report. He had hoped they would travel back inside the chimera, but that was no longer an option. The wounded battlebrothers inside the APC, tainted by the apothecary's foul ministrations, had seemingly risen from their torpor with their souls in the hands of Another. Blood and pus oozed from their wounds together with a vile stench of decay and rottenness. They moved very slowly and had still not managed to clamber out of the vehicle, but they would soon.

Well, no hope for it now, thought the commander. The assault squad will just have to leg it. But they couldn't jump out of the combat zone now: he wasn't even sure their jump would be able to clear the distance from the endless tyranid swarm, but he was sure that eight flying marines would be an easy target for Ahriman's chaos-fire bolts or the newly-arrived carnifexes bioplasma. So they needed a diversion. He ordered Virgil to jump out with the assault squad as soon as he gave the signal, and told him to take the Vox recording of all that had happened along with him. Make haste, he said. The chapter must not commit itself to anything if they are unaware of what has happened here.

The techmarine nodded, along with the rest of the assault squad. There was no other alternative. The techmarine overcharged the chimera's engines while the force commander dropped meltabomb after meltabomb inside the APC through the topside hatch. Then the tactical and devastator squads charged through the enemy lines with the Chimera moving in a frenzy alongside them, smashing creatures left and right. Their rounds soon enough drew attention from both their opponents, and now they were surrounded. He gave the techmarine the signal to jump, and shouted:

"Go, tell the Astartes...that here, by His law, we lie."

The assault squad jumped out and in the middle of their flight they could see the flash of the meltabombs igniting and vaporizing everything in their blast radius, tyranids, chaos marines, and the last of the space marines. It was not a very big explosion, but a sufficient one to let them jump out unscathed from the battlefield. And put to rest the abomination that some of their former battle-brothers had become.

Back at the Kasr, reports were pouring in from the various missions, so the Lord Castellan and Helfrich were in a meeting to sort through them. However, the meeting was cut short by a buzzing transmission in the Kasr's emergency comm-channel:

"Brother...Ezekiel here....Necron patrols everywhere...Vehicle...Heavy damage...Made it to Manufactorum...There are still survivors...Cadia. Lost half...guardsmen...Vehicle...ing repaired. Took in...primaris psyker with...guardsmen. Thought he...ally...by Lord...Creed. Not so...Rogue psyker...summoned a...Os Portal...Daemons everywhere. Manufactorum under...ege. Assistance required. Repeat...under siege...We cannot...much longer. Requesting imme...sistance."

The Lorekeeper stomped out of the run as quickly as he could and explained the situation to the assembled brother-captains. Most of them scoffed at him: They had told both Ezekiel and Gaius that the mission was foolish and could cost them time and precious resources. Now they were besieged by Daemons and they requested assistance? It would be sending good marines after bad. None of them trusted Ezekiel to begin with, and seemed none too concerned at the prospect of losing him and a company of fresh-faced scouts.

The lorekeeper was horrified at this: The battlebarge was their sole remaining vehicle, everything their chapter needed to survive was inside it. And to leave a brother to be feasted upon by the Warp...He managed to assemble only one company of Space Marines who were undecided if they would assist him in his rescue or not.

Do you...

Leave Ezekiel and the others to their fate? They took a foolish decision, and now receive their just rewards. If you go after them you might lose yet another company of marines, and you will certainly not be back in time for the spaceport assault, weakening the Lord Castellan's plans. Another Battlebarge can be built in the future. You can still survive in the Kasr.


Do you follow the Lore Keeper into an attempted rescue? Both the new recruits and the Land Hulk are too valuable to be lost! And Ezekiel said they were survivors in Cadia. What of this? Perhaps there is still a glimmer of hope among all the chaos. Leaving battlebrothers behind is dishounorable. You will not make it in time for the spaceport battle, but so be it. The Chapter takes precedence.



Imperial thought for the day: foolish is he who claims to know everything and yet fear nothing

Lord Castellan Ursarkar E. Creed, Hero of Cadia, commander of all Cadian regiments, watched as the Space Marines engaged in yet another conflict among themselves. That blasted dreadnought had managed to persuade one full company to follow him into his rescue mission, and had requisitioned all the Chimera transports the guardsmen had left. Creed was not too troubled by this: His plans for the spaceport never involved the Chimeras in the first place and if they could help save his guardsmen and the initiates, whom he still considered to be his men, then they were worth it. Far more troubling was the astartes' bitter infighting: Now their standing force at the Kasr had been reduced to a mere 300 hundred men, their morale, as ever, low, and their mood dark.

He had anticipated this when he thought up the strategy for the spaceport's assault: the space marines, without their knowledge or consent, would not have a vital or even important role in their assault. They would be tasked merely with keeping the necrons off the guardsmen's backs as Creed and his own fought on. This was not essential, but it would help speed it up. And the Lord Castellan trusted that even these idiots would be able to perfom such a simple task. What worried him about this infighting was how long it would take to spill out towards his own guardsmen: He knew many marines bore an indiscriminate hatred towards the inquisition, and few of them had anything but grudging tolerance towards the Cadian shock troopers. Creed was now worried that he might have unwittingly invited a viper inside his bird's nest. He had never known a space marine chapter to be so divided, so indecisive, so...chaotic. He frowned as this last word formed itself in his mind.

Surely, this was not the work of the Ruinous Powers? Have they affected even the mighty Space Marines? But they did not look mighty, not to his trained eye. They were wondrous fighters, but their lack of focus was on the verge of bringing about their downfall. He just prayed that he would not fall alongside them.

He turned his attention back to the reports he had received. Developments were worrying. The scouting party had reported that the necrons had significantly bolstered their forces at the spaceport and had even Monoliths among them, mighty moving pyramids that shot rays of green death and were near-impossible to bring down. The troops deployed to plant the signalling beacons had failed miserably, they had been unable to elude or break through the necrons' defenses and had to return to the Kasr with their mission unfulfilled. Another bitter news was the foraging party's report: They had been unable to locate the ammunition and supply cachés Creed had left scattered around Cadia. whether this was incompetence or sabotage remained to be seen.

A second scout report shed some light on the necrons' fortifying effort at the spaceport: Apparently, the necron patrols Techmarine Gaius had warned him of were a forward party sent to gather intel on the Kasr and its amassing forces, and they had disappeared soon before the necrons' presence in the spaceport was augmented. He regreted he had not sent someone to deal with them, but he could not spare the men. Surely, he hoped, a few thousand more necrons would not make a difference. But he remembered that hope is often the first step on the road to disappointment.

Most puzzling of all was the last report, drawn up by two Space Marine squads sent by the Lorekeeper to investigate their battle-barge's crash site. Apparently, the destroyed pylon stood over a wide chasm that extended for Emperor knews how many kilometres inside the planet. The dark hole the space marines descended was, they reported, "of foul smell and dark tidings", and they had heard what sounded like "drums. drums in the deep.", as well as felt "the pulsing all around them, as if they were inside a great beast out of Imperial Legend". Their colourful writing masked a strange fact: The pylon seemed to cover something that was abundant with both flora and fauna, as the marines reported "a great many chirping critters and strange plantae, the likes of which have never been reported in the Codices of the Imperium." Creed was unsure what to make of this.

The necrons had purged almost the entire surface of the planet of life, but they...cultivated it underground? kept it hidden? The space marines ventured as far as they could inside the underground forest, until they reached "Impenetrable gates made of bone and living tissue fused together with the strange vegetation that surrounded it, much like apothecary Virgil's visions of the Gates that led to damnation". Creed did not know who this Virgil was nor what were these Gates of Damnation, but it sounded ominous, right enough.

On a lighter note, the Navigators had detected another Space Hulk heading towards Cadia, though they predicted it would land very far from them, on the other side of the planet. The astropaths said that this one bore a distinctive "ork pattern of behavior", and was most likely a Waagh. Creed sighed. He had perhaps a forthnight left before the assault would begin, and all he had to do was watch and wait. He did a great deal of both, lately.

You are the senior Brother-Captain remaining in the Kasr, assuming temporary command of the Chapter until (or perhaps if) the return of Brother Helfrich. You have at your disposal three hundred battered but unbloodied marines, their morale tremendously low and dangerously close to an outbreak of misdirected violence. You have been sitting idly while pondering the entire situation and what to do about it. And then you heard the sound of Jump Pack turbines exhausting madly as their weary owners returned to the Kasr with the news of what had happened at the Space Hulk. Creed has not yet been informed, nor has the rest of your Chapter. You and the remnants of the Strike Team are the only ones to know of the doom that came to Cadia.

Do you...

Damn Creed and his guardsmen, the Lorekeeper and his mutinous Astartes, damn them all to the Warp and order an immediate advance upon the enemy's position! Spread these black news to your Chapter and your Chapter alone. Enough politicking and sitting around! Chaos is here, it is your duty to erradicate it! Death or Glory! The Emperor looks favourably upon those who have no fear.


Do you consult with Creed and the rest of your Chapter in how to best proceed on this? If Chaos and Tyranids are here, this could affect the whole endeavour that is being planned here. The Lord Castellan has a right to know, in a way, since he is your tentative ally. He might hold valuable insight, and, if nothing else, he will be at least prepared for what is to come.


Do you neither tell Creed nor attack? Knowledge is power: Guard it well. You are undermanned and outgunned, any attack would be fruitless, but to spread these news to the rest of the Chapter and to Creed would undermine their morale and their resolve in fighting the primary threat: the undying army of the necron horde. You can only pray that these two foes will remain engaged with one another long enough to carry out the attack efficiently.


Do you consult with the sanctioned psykers on this? Though they are considered anathema by your Chapter, they might have valuable knowledge about this situation because of their intimate connection to the Warp and its workings, and desperate times call for desperate measures. They might even know who the sorcerer behind this incursion is, and how to best counter his influence. It is a gamble, however, since you might very well lead them to temptation with the information you now possess.



Imperial thought for the day: A hundred thousand worlds, ten hundred thousand wars. There is no respite, there is nowhere to hide. Across the galaxy there is only war.

"Brothers! The long night is upon us; the enemy is at our doorstep! Chaos seeks once again to tarnish this world, and it is left for us to defend it. A mere three hundred men against the endless legions of the warp! The guardsmen would choose to aid the Inquisition rather than defend the Imperium, so the task falls to us. But fear not, brothers! Hold fast! Renew your vows before battle! We are the last of the true Black Templars! As our Primarch did long ago when the Emperor was felled by foul Horus, we shall do so now: We will give the enemy no respite, no chance to retreat, we will never surrender! They come here seeking death, and they will find their own. We have been declared traitors for defending the Imperium, and so we honour this sentence by defending it once more! I swear to you, brothers, that we will not fail. We will fight Chaos until Chaos is no more. We wil fight Chaos even in death. We will fight Chaos even if we are consumed by it. Raise your heads high, Space Marines: Today, we march for Mankind and Victory!"

Three hundred Space Marines, the greatest of the Imperium's defenders, marched towards glory. They renewed their vows. They checked their weapons. Brother-Captain Tiberius donned the fallen Reclusiarch's terminator armour, and armed himself with the Chapter's most powerful relic: A mighty daemonhammer covered with hexa- and pentagrammatic wards along with a thundershield, both engraved with a humble signature "Ferrus Manus me fabricat".

Lord Castellan Creed was powerless to stop them, and he was both relieved and furious: Though this meant the guardsmen were no longer under threat by the unstable astartes, they had made a vow to him that they would help his forces when the time came. They were given the services of his techpriests, they were given ammunition, they were given weapons. And now they betrayed them in a manner most vile. And untimely, thought Creed to himself. So be it. Cadia will hold as Cadia has done for millennia, and its defenders will prove their worth beneath the Emperor's gaze once again.

The Chapter marched for two full days before it reached the crashed hulk. Though signs of a great battle were strewn all around it, with many tyranids corpses and some fallen rubric marines, the enemy was nowhere to be found. Techmarine Virgil ventured inside the hulk with a small squad to investigate the ships' Logic Engine. When he came out, he reported to Tiberius that it had apparently originated from somewhere far beyond the Eye of Terror, and its course should have landed it in the Pylon they could see dimly in the west, some five hundred kilometres away from their current position. The tracks were easy enough to follow: Both tyranids and Chaos forces had gone that way.

After five more days of marching and repelling many tyranid and necron sternguard patrols, they finally reached the Pylon and witnessed a scene most curious: A three-way battle was taking place between necrons, chaos marines, and tyranids. The necrons were intent on defending the Pylon, the tyranids were apparently trying to bring it down with a steady but slow charge of Carnifexes and their Bioplasma, and the Chaos forces were...trying to break through the necron ranks, but had steered clear from targeting the Pylon itself. It looked like they sought to enter it. All of the forces were much larger than the space marines' meagre 300: the Thousand Sons numbered at least a thousand, perhaps honouring their namesake, and the tyranids many times that number. The necrons were outnumbered by both but they received continous and apparently endless reinforcements from inside the Pylon, though there was no Necron Lord in sight.

Ahriman seemingly acknowledged the Space Marines arrival with a nod, and gave a little mocking wave with his hand towads them. But he did no more than that, concentrating himself on the battle at hand.

Do you...

Charge this treasonous fool and slaughter his forces? Let the machines and the beasts destroy one another. Your mission is here is to destroy Chaos. Ahriman does not seem to be expecting a direct attack: You may well catch him off guard, though his numeric advantage will prove difficult to overcome. However, the Battle-Brothers morale is at an all time high, for they are now finally getting to grips with the enemy and faced with impossible odds: The situation any Astartes favours above all others. Strike while the iron is hot, as they say.


Do you set up strategic positions around the Pylon and watch as your enemies slaughter one another, waiting for the best time to strike? They seem indifferent towards you, all of them focused on the Pylon. Let them whittle each other down, and strike when it is most suitable to your goal of obliterating Chaos. Perhaps you might even have a chance of destroying the other two forces if you play your hand well.



Imperial thought for the day: When you decide to die, remember to give your enemy the same honour

"Devastators, set up firing positions on both sides of the ridge. Concentrate your fire on the sorcerers. If you have a clean shot at their warpspawned commander" spat Tiberius, gazing vengefully towards Ahriman "take it. If you do not, conserve your ammunition and take out their squad leaders. Assault squads, do not jump until you are sure you can break their formation. All of you, you are veterans of countless crusades against chaos. You know well what to do. No pity. No remorse. No fear."

The three hundred men advanced and took up their positions. As they marched down the ridge towards the battle, Ahriman's forces still seemed oblivious to them. Brother-Captain Tiberius tried to take advantage of this by ordering a charge as soon as they were in range of the enemies' guns. The tactical squads covered them as the assault squads ran furiously towards the enemy and stopped suddenly: they clashed against an invisible wall and were knocked back. Ahriman turned towards them, and gave another mocking wave. And all around the pylon, chaosfire sprouted from the ground and rained from the heavens, meshed with itself and grew, until it became an impenetrable wall made of the stuff of the warp. This obscured the battle-brothers vision of the battlefield and cut short the tyranid's assault, their sternguard suddenly separated from their main force, who was still inside the perimeter of Ahriman's warp barrier.

The pylon began to fire wildly, its tip erupting in thousands of green, thin wisps of energy that struck the barrier and made it shudder, but caused no damage. Soon the barrier grew to encompass the pylon completely, turning into a huge dome of warpstuff. Nothing could be seen or heard from the inside. The tyranids, their target unreachable for the moment, turned their attention to the Space Marines, still bewildered and positioned to strike at an enemy who had suddenly turned to be too far away. But as the swarm of termagaunts descended upon them, they quickly assumed formation and engaged the enemy. It was clear to all of them that this was a hopeless battle: the tyranid swarm overnumbered them 20-to-1 at the least. But they fought on, while the Warp dome glistened at their backs, sometimes turning translucent and almost ethereal, other times appearing to be more solid and more real than the background it stood on.

"Techmarine Virgil, this is First Techmarine Gaius. Do you read me?"

Virgil, who had been standing back with a devastator squad trying to adapt his improvised auspex array to target Ahriman with a deadly barrage of missiles, was ripped from his comfortable world of numbers and trajectory calculations and answered in a barely audible croak that he could hear Gaius.

"The Lord Castellan transmitted your last known coordinates to us before he left for the spaceport. We have been tracking you since. We are a day away from Orbital Drop Distance, can you hold the enemy until then? Give us the coordinates for the drop locations."

A day? This warp barrier would not hold that long. If you you can deliver another company right into the heart of the enemy's forces, you might have a chance to deal a killing blow and stop this Chaostaint from spreading. But you would remain hopelessly outnumbered against the tyranid swarm. On the other hand, if you tell Gaius to deploy at the tyranid's rear, they would be wide open for a crushing blow, and if the Lorekeeper and Ezekiel manage to kill the hive tyrant, then this battle would be won. It is a fair assumption that by then, however, Ahriman would have probably already infiltrated the Pylon, if he has not already.

Do you give Gaius the coordinates to deploy the drop pods at...

The Chaos Warcoven surrounding Ahriman?


The tyranid's rear formations and the Hive Tyrant's location?



Imperial thought for the day: Serve Him today, for tomorrow you die.

Melancholic Soundtrack

Virgil relayed the drop-coordinates to Gaius and resumed his work in the Auspex array, now presumably trying to target the Hive Tyrant at the back of the tyranid swarm, though his squadmates mostly ignored him and just tried to hit whatever was in range. Brother-Captain Tiberius held the front line until nightfall, when the tyranids retreated and sent a wave of chameleonic lictors to assault the space marines' positions. This proved to be far more effective than their first assault near the Space Hulk against the Force Commander: Both because they had superior numbers and because the space marines were spread thin over a wide area and couldn't hope to cover it entirely with bolter fire. When dawn broke, at least half a company lay dead, including Brother-Captain Tiberius and all the remaining brother-captains. The tyranids were growing smarter, and though the Astartes knew no fear, they certainly knew the value of leadership, something they now lacked.

With 6 hours or so remaining until Gaius could deploy the drop pods, the warp barrier around the pylon dissipated. This proved to be a welcome respite for the Space Marines: The tyranid rear force they were fighting immediately disengaged and resumed its relentless assault upon the Pylon. Chaos positions were entrenched much in the same places as they had been the previous day, although necron forces had thinned considerably and the pylon seemed to be cracking under the pressure of the Carnifexes' Bioplasma. Without a Captain, the Chapter fell back to Tiberius' previous orders: Take down the sorceres and their commander. Devastators changed their targeting grid towards them, and the remaining space marines initiated a slow and steady advance towards the Pylon and the thousand sons. This proved to be difficult: Rubric Marines were incredibly resilient, much more so than "average" space marines. Though they were not especially deadly, they seemed to be deathless: Being, to all intents and purposes, merely animated suits of armor without any capacity to feel pain or to be disabled by loss of blood or tissue. The small contingent of Space Marines left proved unable to break their ranks and get close enough to Ahriman, and the devastators were having difficulty hitting the sorceres, who used the warp to distort the space around them, proving an elusive target.

All of this changed when the drop pods hit the ground demolishing both the necron and chaos formations', as an entire company of Astartes flowed from them, including both the Lorekeeper and Brother-Captain Ezekiel, the only remaining captain in the entire Chapter. The Accelerator Tower seemed much more precise in its deployment, and all 10 drop pods hit their marks flawlessly. The newly-arrived marines had been kept abreast of the battle through Virgil's tranmissions, and they immediately engaged the sorcerers in meelee combat, felling most of them quickly, and thus apparently disabling or at least slowing the Rubric Marines, whose souls turned completely static without sorcerous guidance. Ahriman himself almost perished at this assault, caught completely off-guard and engaged at the same time by Ezekiel, against whom his psychic assaults had no effect, and the Lorekeeper, who shrugged off most of whatever it was that hit his venerable carapace. But he already had a clear line of sight to the Pylon, and his way was unimpeded by the now very few necrons remaining in the battlefield. He made a mad dash towards the Pylon along with his Warcoven, a squad of a few sorcerers and Rubric Terminators, and using his unholy powers managed to reach it and enter it, disappearing from the battlefield and, at least temporarily, from the world of the living.

This was all that the Chapter needed to finally break the back of the Thousand Sons forces: A moment of uncertainty on their part led to all of the remaining sorcerers on the battlefield being viciously attacked and defeated. All of the Rubric Marines stilled at this, and though they did not fall to the ground, they remained unmoving and unresponsive inside their cursed suits of armour, their tainted souls lost inside the nightmare of Ahriman's making, his Rubric. The remaining battle-brothers were now advancing towards the Pylon, destroying the paralysed chaos marines with vicious blasts of melta and bolter fire until only ash was left, and repelling the scant few necrons that still patrolled the battlefield. The Lorekeeper ordered a careful retreat: He saw no reason to remain on the battlefield fighting the swarm beasts, endless as they were, and he was anxious to resume course to the spaceport and honour his tentative agreement with the Lord Castellan. The tyranids could wait.

However, before a full retreat could be mounted, the Pylon finally gave in to the Carnifex assault and crumbled. Slabs of black and gray stone slid down from its top, and its foundations shook and exploded, bringing the entire structure down with them in an avalanche of gray and green, some its pieces still letting out their eerie lightning. Helfrich could scarcely believe it. It had taken them more than one cyclonic torpedo to bring one of these structures down, and they tyranids seemed to be able to do it with ease. Perhaps the sorcerer's entry had weakened it somehow, or perhaps other, darker forces were at work. It would require investigation. But not right now. Right now they had a duty, however distasteful, to honor. It proved to be a difficult duty, however, when the entirety of the Tyranid swarm turned its attention upon the battle-brothers after destroying the Pylon.

This was not, by all means, a hopeless situation. He had already ordered a retreat, which Brother-Captain Ezekiel was quick to lead, and most of the Astartes were already well on their way out of the battlefield and headed towards the Land Hulk, only fifty kilometres away, half a day's march, or even less. The Lorekeeper had with him half a company, most of them armed with heavy weapons, whose duty was simply to purge the battlefield from the chaos abominations that Ahriman had left behind. He could not risk the sorcerer coming back, unlikely though it seemed, and re-animate these chaos marines. He never counted on the tyranids being able to destroy the Pylon at all, much less as quickly as this. Still, most of their work was done. A few rubric marines remained here and there, but he reasoned they were not worth losing half a company over. It seemed unlikely they were going anywhere soon, so he ordered the marines he had with him to fall back and leave the tyranids to their alien folly.

What turned all of this into a hopeless situation was the sudden emergence of scores of Trygons from the hole in the earth the Pylon had left. They were massive serpentine creatures similar to Raveners but much larger in size, and capable of burrowing in the ground and tunneling through it with an incredible sense of direction and speed. The swarm seemingly ignored the Lore Keeper, and immediately started following the Trygons inside the tunnels they were digging, their destination obviously the Land Hulk, as the tremors beneath the Astartes' feet confirmed, as did the Land Hulk's auspex, said Gaius in a hollow, hopeless motone. The massive vehicle would be helpless against an attack from below, and everyone and everything inside it would be destroyed well before the retreating companies ever managed to reach it, leaving the Chapter effectively stranded in Cadia, without any hope of restocking their supplies or ammunition, and without any form of transportation or even long-range communication. The swarm grew smarter still.

There was no other choice. Lorekeeper Helfrich ordered the remaining fifty Space Marines on the battlefield to head towards the tunnels, destroy the trygons and collapse them, hopefully giving enough time for the remaining companies to reach the Land Hulk and mount a defense. The Lorekeeper himself lead this hopeless assault, and the last that Ezekiel, already far away, would see of him was his immense bulk disappearing inside surface of the planet, hitting beasts left and right with his immense mailed fist and streams of vaporizing pyrum-petrol, his comm-bead eerily silent as the swarm fell upon him.

Gaius reasoned later that the Lorekeeper must have succeeded; the remaining three hundred marines were able to reach the Land Hulk and board it without problems, and the Auspex sensors detected no incoming movement from below the ground, nor from above it. There was no need to even defend the vehicle, since the tyranids had been unable to reach it. You have with you four hundred marines, much like you had at the very start. But a hundred of these are initiates, far from receiving the training and the implants required to become truly super-human. And you now face a choice.

Do you forsake the agreement with the Lord Castellan completely and order the Land Hulk to head towards your last battlefield? Gaius reported that he could not detect any movement nor tyranid activity in it. The beasts had gone back to wherever it was that they had come from, and you are still at a loss as to why they were even here in the first place. You can try and investigate the Pylon's remnants and what lies beneath them for answers, as well as for the target you have been pursuing: The Chaos Sorcerer who led the thousand sons, and ultimately, who led the Lorekeeper to his death.


Do you leave this for later? These ruins are not going anywhere. The Inquisitor is still your best hope of getting information about all the events you have gone through since you crash-landed in this damned rock. And the Lore Keeper was very explicit in his instructions: Though the Chapter came first, Mankind came next, and this, right now, meant the Cadian Shock Troopers and their incoming guest. It would be fitting to his memory to honor his last orders and head towards the spaceport. It's high time you got some answers.



Imperial thought for the day: The difference between heresy and treachery is ignorance

theme song

The Land Hulk was at least two weeks away from the spaceport, though the battlebrothers were grateful for the rest. All four companies had fought hard against odds that seemed insurmountable, both daemonic and alien in nature, and not a single space marine was unbloodied. But all were victorious. Now, they were enjoying the righteous peace of the Emperor's justice. Captain Ezekiel, however, was deep in thought: He was not a skilled orator like the late Helfrich, and he was unsure of what he should do when he came face-to-face with his old master, Inquisitor Silas Marr. He did not even knew what to tell him. Should he report the events that had transpired on Cadia, or should he keep silent? His chapter was excommunicate traitoris. The Holy Ordos might have very well come to wipe them out, though this seemed unlikely given the circumstances. Still...Without the Lorekeeper's guidance, he was lost. His only skill was in battle, his only reason for promotion to brother-captain was bravery and valour, not ability to command. And now he may very well be driving all that was left of his chapter inside the wolf's jaws. Silas would not come unprotected, and even two companies of Deathwatch marines were probably more than a match for 400 weary, leaderless astartes. But he did the only thing he knew how to do: He followed orders. Even if they were from a dead man.

He had killed the Reclusiarch, yes, but that was different. Jeremiah had executed a battlebrother without provocation. They were not the Imperial Guard: they did not kill for simple disagreements. All battlebrothers deserved a chance to redeem themselves in battle; Capital punishment was only applicable when the taint of Chaos was obvious. And he had hoped that, with that strike of his scythe, he would restore order to the Chapter. The truth could not be more different: The Chapter had barely recognized the Lorekeeper's guidance, and fragmented. Three companies openly broke their compact with the Lord Castellan and went off in a pursuit of their own, their motives still clouded to Ezekiel. And now they were returning to their very first duty, the duty that had saved them from destruction but had also erupted in open conflict among the chapter. To aid Creed. To save Cadia. To ensure an Inquisitor, one of the chapter's most hatred boogeymen, could land safely in their planet. Was he doing the right thing, he asked himself constantly, as the days rolled by idly, the landscape never changing.

Meanwhile, Master Apotechary Galen had his hands full: At least a tenth of the firsth company had fallen ill on the first day of travelling, shaking uncontrollably and with a fever that would have killed any normal human. This was unheard of: Apart from Nurgle's plagues, space marines were immune to disease. The affected astartes soon started to develop mutations, small ones at first, disfigured fingers and sores, though their minds seemed in agony rather than thrall to Chaos. The psykers present in the Land Hulk that were rescued from the Manufactorum stated very clearly that they could not detect any presence of Chaos. This seemed to be a true if horrific disease, not a work of the ruinous powers.

Over the next weeks, thirty more marines had succumbed to the disease. And their minds seemed to be going as well: They spoke of visions of a great devourer, of blackness, and they tried to claw and bite their way out of their restraints. They seemed chewed their own lips and drank the blood that seeped from them, and whenever they were left unsupervised, they would start a fight with the other sick astartes. Soon the medbay became painted with red, blood dripping from the plasteel slabs the sick marines were restrained in as the apothecaries tried to quell their violent urges. Galen was at a loss, and even consulted both Gaius and Ezekiel as to what he should do. Both of them had no idea: The psykers aboard still insisted that this was not the work of Chaos, and as long as the sick marines remained quarantined, they were not a danger to anyone aboard the Hulk. So Galen tended to them and prayed for the Emperor's guidance.

When they finally reached the spaceport, it was deserted, apart from the hulking spaceship that had landed in the middle of it. It was immense: It could easily have spanned the length of three battlebarges, at least 20 kilometres from port to starboard, and over a kilometre in both width and height. If this was one of the famed Black Ships of the Inquisition, it was a new model: This...thing looked like more a planet-destroying weapon than a space-faring vessel, bristling as it was with cannons and torpedo tubes, although its jet black colour gave it a disconcerting, funereal look, as if it was a ship that carried the dead, not caused them. Atop its rear was mounted something akin to an Imperial Shrine, although it was coloured entirely in black and it lacked the stained coloured glasses commemorating famous victories over the Enemies of Man.

Imperial guardsmen lay dead all around the landing pad, and there was no sign of necrons. It seemed that the guardsmen won, even if it was a phyrric victory: Ezekiel counted the corpses of most of the regiment they encountered on the Kasr. That meant almost ten thousand men dead, and their enemies vanished. In front of the Black Ship was erected a crude tent, and inside it a middle-aged man with an amiable expression was smoking a lho-stick while browsing through a datapad. Ezekiel ordered his men to stay back in the Land Hulk, and approached the figure cautiously. The cigarette-smoking man was guarded on both his sides by...Creatures, Ezekiel reasoned, that looked human but certainly weren't. They were humanoid, dressed entirely in black, with huge, oversized rifles stocked against their shoulders and prepared to fire. They wore black bodygloves that fit the skin tightly, and over their eyes there were only grim visors adorned with skull insignias. Ezekiel took stock of their weapons. Exitium Rifles. These were Vindicare Assassins, capable of taking out more than one squad of space marines from long range. Their weapons punched through even the best terminator armor and killed its occupant effortlessly. Only one type of person merited such protection.

"Inquisitor Marr" said Ezekiel to the cigarette-smoking man, entering the tent cautiously.

"Ezekiel, my boy! It has been so long. Come, sit! Do not be intimidated by these two. I have many more" The Inquisitor grinned in a good natured way, and continued "Enough even to spot the very unusual vehicle your Chapter now calls its fortress-monastery. Pray tell me, where did that design come from? I have never seen such a Stantard Template Construct before."

Ezekiel shrugged off the provocation and spoke in a confident voice "It seems you have won your battle. Where is the rest of the guardsmen?"

"Oh, most of them are dead. After the xenos were routed they started fighting each other, see. Many fell to madness and started to mutate and scream for blood and darkness, and so...Well, you see the results. I assume they were ill."

"You assume? You know more."

"Indeed. As do you. You have come at a most fortuitous moment, for It will be here soon. And none of us are going anywhere, since the pylons damaged the ship's propulsion system before we could destroy them. But in the meantime, you may tell your men to stand down and come closer. I have no intention of harming you or them, and I do not consider your Excommunicate Traitoris notice valid. You must have many questions, I imagine. Do ask. And then I shall ask mine in turn."

This mechanic is very simple: ask the questions you want to know the answers about. The Inquisitor might not know all the answers, and he might lie a lot, but it's essentially this. What do you want to know from him? I imagine a lot of the posts will contain similar questions, so i'll try to merge them as best I can. The dialogue that will follow will depend upon the types of questions you decide to ask.

Remember, if you do not wish for the inquisitor to know of something, then refrain from asking a question that give away such information. And also remember, you have been given a lot of second-hand information about the Inquisitor, his intentions, his retinue, his 'assets', etc. this is your only chance of finding those things out, should he deign to tell you the truth. I'll wait a while and then collate the questions to create the dialogue. It shouldn't be too hard. Obviously, asking the Inquisitor about multihead-dicks and such will be disregarded, though perhaps in a blooper reel we could see what he'd think of those.

And start paying attention to the Imperial thoughts for the Day because they contain clues and are important, goddamnit!



Imperial thought for the day: Dark dreams lie upon the heart

Ezekiel turned off his comm-bead and took a seat in front of the inquisitor. He regarded him for a long time before speaking:

"What are you doing here?"

"Waiting. What about you?"

"We came here to repell Abaddon's forces. You must know this."

The Inquisitor looked around bemused, and chuckled.

"If so, then you have done a splendid job, my boy. It seems Cadia is free of the Ruinous Powers. I see none of them here."

Ezekiel frowned, unsure if he should mention what had transpired in the planet. He knew this light-hearted manner of the Inquisitor, this was how he got his answers.

"You said you were waiting. Waiting for what?"

"You'll see soon enough. Is there any more you wish to ask of me?"

"How did you get here? Warp travel no longer works."

"I do not propose to tell you that."

"...What of the Imperium?"

"What of it?"

"How fares it, these days? All goes well?"

"Well, some of the High Lords have been gossiping --" Ezekiel grabbed the Inquisitor by the collar and roared in his face "Do you think me a clown, Marr?! You know full well what I mean! The Emperor is dead! The undead walk on the surface of Cadia! Warp travel is disrupted! What is happening?!"

If the Inquisitor had been a second longer in waving his hand, two Exitium rounds would have reduced the Brother-Captain's skulls to a fine red mist. The pair of Vindicare stood their weapons down at their master's signal, but remained wary.

"There is no need to get flustered, Ezekiel. The Emperor is dead, you say? How curious. I wonder how do you know this?"

"I...He...Lord Castellan Creed told us, he said his navigators could no longer see the Astronomican's light." Said Ezekiel, letting go of the Inquisitor's robe.

"Did he now? And you believed him?"

"I had no reason not to."

"Indeed. I wonder what else you know."

Ezekiel gave in: "There are tyranids in Cadia. We fought many swarms. Brother Helfrich was lost to them. And we fought a powerful chaos sorcerer that tried to infiltrate one of the necron pylons. He got away, but we destroyed his forces, about a thousand of them. There are only a handful of them left, lost to the bowels of this accursed planet."

"A chaos sorcerer? From which legion?"

"The thousand sons. They bore the azure and gold, and he filled the battlefield with chaosfire."

"How curious. A pity you let him get away. But no matter, I'm sure destroying a full thousand chaos marines shall redeem many sins you and yours have committed."

"Me and mine are pure. What are you implying?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing. Mind wandering, I expect. Comes with old age. You have done well, no doubt. And the presence of tyranids, necrons and chaos sorcerers is surely portentous."

"It is. Why are they here, Inquisitor? One of our scouts explored a cave beneath a pylon; they reported it was like a massive living organism with plantas and animals aplenty. Yet the necrons destroy all life in their path. What is this? What is happening?"

"A living thing, eh? How curious."

"Yes. And even more curious is the fact that both a few of my marines and many of the guardsmen have succumbed to a strange illness that causes mutation and madness."

"Ah, your marines, too? Well, it is to be expected. It affects everything equally, or so it is said. I expect more conditioned minds and bodies are more resistant to its effects."

"The effects of what? What is this "It" you talk about?"

The Inquisitor remained silent, his expression blank.

"Very well. And what of Creed? Is he alive? Where are the rest of the guardsmen?"

"Some survived, they are inside my ship. For questioning, you see. Creed himself has succumbed to the madness and has been confined. We could not get a word out of him. Shame, really, a leader of men like him. Nothing like what you are."

"What I am? Tell me what is happening, Inquisitor, or I swear I will order my men to strike you down."

"The Emperor Protects."

"Tell me, damn you! What are you doing here! Why are you not hunting us?! What is this place?! What is happening? Tell me!"

"Shush, shush, child. Be calm. I do not know what this planet hides, that knowledge rests only within the Black Library of the Eldar, and no man has ever entered it, though some say Ahriman of the Thousand Sons came close. Perhaps he did more than that. Perhaps he was the one you fought. All I know is this planet hides something important, something that has awakened after the God-Emperor's demise. Something that calls darkness to itself. I do not know what it is."

"And so you have come here? While the Imperium burns? There are a thousand evils in the galaxy, a million places of absolute darkness. Why here? Why now?"

"You'll see it, when it comes. But if you need answers, I need something in return. I shall need your help for this, Ezekiel. You know you are no leader of man. But I am. Your chapter is already falling apart. The guardsmen told me. Other Inquisitors are looking for you, to exterminate you. You will not survive this place, you will not survive what is to come without my guidance. Are you ready to serve your master once more? The Tyrant Star is coming, Ezekiel. Will you help me fight it?"

Ezekiel froze. Those words brought back long-forsaken memories of an emotionless childhood, though there was affection there, there was purpose. There was something more than just the slice of the blade. Slowly, the Space Marine divested himself of his weapons and knelt in front of the Inquisitor, and answered:






Imperial thought for the day: There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter and the laughter of thirsting gods.




"I'm afraid I can't accept that answer, my boy. I need you. You survived the Tyrant Star. I trained you, and the Black Templars improved you. All of your life has been leading to this. Your time spent fighting necrons in the Deathwatch, the "chance" encounter with the Wrathborn, your chapter here...I have molded you. And now I shall use you, and you shall help me use your Chapter. Vindicare, disable him but keep him alive. Then take him to the Reclusiam."

Ezekiel had already slipped his phase sword into his hand and was rising in a striking arc, decapitating the three men standing before him with lightining speed.

"No. I'm no tool to be used. You've shaped nothing, Silas. My Will is my Chapter's, my destiny theirs, and theirs mine. I bow to no one but the Emperor."

Ezekiel turned on his comm-bead and told the Land Hulk to power up all their weapon systems and target them on the ship. He then ripped through the tent and stood in front of the ship's open entrance hatch, the ramp lowered. He peered into the darkness inside, and bellowed:

"Come out! Your master lies slain. I will hear no more of your lies. You are tainted. This Inquisitor sought to come here only to study his obsession. He does not serve mankind. Do you stand by him?"

"We stand by no one but the Emperor" Answered a voice from the inside. And the Deathwatch came out, their armour all blackened but their right shoulder pads, who bore their chapter of origin's insignia. All of them wore Tactical Dreadnought Armour, and all of them bore the same insignia. Black Templars.

"So you have come for us. What will you do?"

Endless Black Templar Deathwatchers poured from the ship, and many more vehicles and personnel, Inquisitorial Stormtroopers and Primaris Psykers, from the side hatches. The Chapter was hopelessly outnumbered. The ship's mighty cannons trained on the Land Hulk.

"Your Chapter stands accused of desertion, of treachery, of heresy, of executing exterminatus without due authority, of straying from the emperor's light and into the path of Chaos. Your actions in Cadia have not improved this. You slayed your own Reclusiarch, he who keeps the faith; You may have fought bravely against the Thousand Sons, but you abandoned your comrades-in-arms to pursue a lofty ideal that could have come later. Loyalty to your Battle-Brothers always comes first. You betrayed them and left them to die in the xenos' hands. You sought compact with heretical Mechanicus and built an abomination; you allowed a heretical psyker to run free and open a Warp Gate. Through and through, you proved yet again that all other humans apart from yourselvers are merely fodder for your insane ambition, by denying both the Guardsmen and the Inquisitor assistance. And now you have murdered him in cold blood. Your Chapter is a stain in the history of the Imperium, Brother-Captain Ezekiel. It would have been better for you to accept the Ruinous Powers gifts, for then at least you would not have lied to yourselves." Declared the apparent Leader of the Deathwatch marines.

"We are sworn to pursue Chaos whenever it presents itself! Jeremiah was tainted, The Inquisitor was tainted, did you not hear his words?! We root out heresy! We fight for mankind!"

"You fight for nothing. Still your lying tongue. You have done enough. You have been weighed in the balance, and found wanting. The sentence is execution."

Ezekiel was the first to fall. An Exitium round turned his upper body to a fine red paste. The Chapter fought bravely, but it was hopeless. Against two companies of terminators, scores of Predator Tanks, and many regiments of Stormtroopers and Primaris Psykers, they were outmatched. Not even the Land Hulk's mighty weapons and Drop Pods were of use; there was no time to use them. Though Ezekiel's warning to power up the systems proved useful in shrugging off the first assault, he had never imagined the sheer numbers of their attackers. In the end, the vehicle was reduced to a heap of scrap metal, its drop pods scattered around its carcass.

The broken battle-brothers lay dying, the battlefield slippery with their blood and guts. The attackers were vicious; their eviscerators tore through the Astartes in a bloody mess of bone and bile. Techmarine Gaius was pulverized instantly when one of the Predator Anihilator's twin-linked lascannons hit him. The scout company, former cadian men, were slaughtered mercilessly; boys no older than fourteen had their skulls stomped to the ground by the Terminatour's mighty boots and reduced to a pulp, their broken bodies thrown towards the attackers as improvised projectiles, loaded with meltabombs. The Adeptus Mechanicus and the few psykers who had followed the Chapter aboard the Land Hulk were taken out and burned alive by streams of melta fire, screaming in agony as the streams of pyrum-petrol seared their bodies and souls. The attacking battle-psykers left many battle-brothers babbling incoherently and convulsing in unthinkable pain before a Black Templar thunderhammer felled them. When the attacking force found the diseased marines in the medicae bay, being tended to by Master Apothecary Galen, they levelled the place with a barrage of autocannon fire and ripped the apothecary's spine out of his body and placed it on a spike, considering him the culprit for what they thought was the Nurgle's Rot afflicting these marines. The diseased became deceased, and nothing was left of them.

Though some of the attacking forces suffered casualties, they were shrugged off nonchalantly. This was not a battle; it was a massacre. At the end of the day, the Exterminating Angels were no more. Their legacy one of chaos and corruption, or so the Black Templars would later say, their ashes scattered to the four winds and their gene-seed considered too vile to be even retrieved. Deserters and heretics deserved no mercy. They were burned down to the bone and left to rot under the Cadian sun.

And in his tomb of a thousand years, Ignatius Helfrich opened his mouth and screamed as he heard the laughter of the thirsting gods.



Brother-Commander's Journal, 998.M41




















BACKGROUND: After splitting from the Black Templar chapter for disagreements over the handling of the Geonide Crusade (the Exterminating Angels called them “too merciful”), the chapter comandeered the battlebarge Wrathborn and went on a crusade of its own. believing the Inquisition corrupt and inefficient to purge heresy, they took it upon themselves to do it. With extreme prejudice.

While in the calixis sector looking for a chaos cult connected with the Tyrant Star, they encountered a planet on the malfian sub-sector overrun by heretical cultists and tech-heretics. further investigation revealed that this situation was engendered by a cabal of istvaanian
inquisitors seeking to “strenghten the imperium” by creating conflict within it. To the chapter, the willful creation of heresy was anathema. An Exterminatus was ordered, and the planet was purged of all life, along with the inquisitors and their retinues. Shortly after, all three Ordos emitted an Excommunicate Traitoris notice against the Chapter.

When the Thirteenth Black Crusade began, the Chapter immediately set course to Cadia, hoping to break the Despoiler's hold on the surface of the planet.

The Exterminating Angels' Armour and Colors:


feel free to polish up this image if you have mad design skillz, this was the best I could do with the army painter.




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.


"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.



Inside the Eye of Terror, on the surface of the planet of sorcerers, home of the Thousand Sons traitor legion, a curious exchange took place.

"You have failed us yet again, Abaddon. Thirteen black crusades, and nary a victory. We have endured your ineptitude for ten thousand years. You are the clone-progeny of Horus himself...And you are a weak, pathetic fool whose only reedeming quality is the capacity of commanding the loyalty of all the traitor legions. Well, this has changed. The Word Bearers no longer recognize your rule. The World Eaters grow bored with your bloodless tactics. And I myself find your lack of any foresight disturbing. It was foretold by the Changer of Ways that your incursion into Cadia would fail as the Emperor's soul returned to the warp, for they would waken once again. By ignoring Lord Tzeentch's infinite wisdom, you doomed another invasion of the Imperium. What say you?"

"I owe you nothing, daemon. With or without the Thousand Sons, the Imperium will fall."

"Really? I think not. I think that the Imperium has fallen already. I think we no longer have any need of you, nor of this "Chaos Undivided" nonsense you bandy about. As heresy and despair grows, so too grows my master's power, for is it not said all souls hope for salvation? And to Lord Tzeentch, hope is the sweetest of delights. All across the galaxy, people filled with dread turn to witches and psykers to guide them. They turn to long-forgotten rituals and superstition. Sorcery is on the rise once again. The other Ruinous Powers cannot hope to defy my Master's will, now. And with your death, they will know the true ruler of the Immaterium."

"My death, Primarch? Not even you can stand against me in battle. You bore me with your prattle. Redeem yourself in the eyes of Chaos by pledging allegiance to me, or I shall do what Leman Russ could not and slay you where you stand."

Both the Thousand Sons and the Black Legion prepared themselves for battle. There did not seem to be a peaceful way out of this. Magnus the Red, Daemon-Prince of Caliban and Primarch of the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion, let out a long sigh. Bolts of Chaos Fire erupted from the tips of his fingers and struck Abbadon, who caught them in the blade of his daemonsword and remained unscathed.

"So be it, Primarch."



Deep beneath the surface of mars, inside the Noctis Labyrinth, a dark figure, clothed in dark robes, hovered above a dark background with dark intentions. Another dark figure, not nearly as ominous, sat comfortably upon a strange chair made of living metal. An ancient and deep roar filled the air, and a voice came after it, a voice that had not been heard in the Galaxy since the Emperor's Ascension to the throne of Terra. A voice nearly as old as the star themselves. A voice born out of the fires of Creation, when the universe first came into existence.


"The machine priests already openly worship you, oh Great One" Replied the sitting figure, mockingly. "What else is it you want? We will harvest all life in the galaxy. We will feed on all its souls."

"What of...him? Is he...truly dead? I will see him...obliterated. Is he...returning?"

"Do not worry yourself unduly, brother. He is far away. The Warp will not allow him to return. It fears him far more than we."

"And...the warp? When will we...see it...gone?" Wheezed the Void Dragon, its ancient corpse twisted and shaped by the Emperor himself into the Noctis Labyrinth the other figures now stood inside.

"Soon, brother. Soon." Answered the Deceiver, rising from his chair and leaving the vast hall.

"Follow...him. See that he...does not...betray us again. I thirst...and hunger...for this galaxy. He must not...stand in...our way." Said the incorporeal voice to the third figure, still hovering above the silvery surface of the Void Dragon's body.

The Nightbringer nodded, and followed the Jackal God towards the stars.

ACT 2:




In the weeks that followed the coming of the Tyrant Star to Cadia, nothing much else happened elsewhere, apart from one very special sector. The sector where the Tyrant Start was first sighted, many eons ago. The Calixis Sector, neighbor to the Cadian Sector, in the Segmentum Obscurus. Though the reasons for this remain unclear, it appears that the unfrequent exposure to Komus in this sector's worlds has given birth to mutants with unexpected gifts. Astropaths still capable of reliable intra-sector communication without the Emperor's guiding Light. Navigators capable of steering ships through the Warp by using the Tyrant Star as a beacon, instead of the astronomican. The Tyrant Star that now orbits Cadia, and has not gone away nor appears that it will any time soon. Cadia has become for all intents and purposes a dead world: Two weeks after Silas Marr's death, the Tyrant Star came. And nothing else came out. The world has been since engulfed in a warp storm made of black light of immense proportions, making any attempt to exit, land on the planet or even travel through its vicinity almost as dangerous as sailing into the Eye of Terror.

These Tyrantborn, as the mutants with Komus' gifts would come to be called, were still quite limited in their abilities. Navigators could not reliably plot a course through the warp that went beyond the reaches of the Calixis Sector, and astropaths remained unable to communicate with the universe outside of Calixis. However, these gifts proved invaluable to all parties involved: The Administratum could still maintain a reliable grip on the Sector, firmly in the hands of its Lord Marius Hax. And the Inquisition could still use, to some degree, their information network to root out heresy (or cause it, as the case may be). Though regarded with suspicion, these psychic mutants were not only unique, they were absolutely necessary: Without them, Calixis would surely fall as the Imperium has been failing ever since the God-Emperor's demise.

It soon became clear to the sharp-minded that if the Imperium had any chance of survival still, this chance lay in the hands of the Calixians. Terra, though Holy, was no longer the Imperial Crown Jewel, since it could barely maintain order even inside the Sol System. But Calixis...Ah, in Calixis, all manner of schemes were hatched for a bright new future with the sector at its first dawning. Plots and intrigues, already abundant, multiplied overnight. Most of the Malfian aristocratic families, still considering themselves rightful rulers of the sector, started plotting to overthrow Marius Hax and his cronies, whom they considered usurpers. The Holy Ordos was torn between a lust for power and a lust for knowledge: This could finally bring about the answer to the question to the Tyrant Star enigma; but it could also bring about complete domination of the Sector under the steady and firm hands of Lord Inquisitor Caidin and his right-hand man, Lord Inquisitor Zerbe and Grandmaster of the Tyrantine Cabal. So the Ordos too plotted both against Marius and against the Malfians, though it mostly plotted against itself. Divided as it was, with many radical sects firmly entrenched in Calixian history and power strucutre, all of them wanted a shot at the prize. Though none dared say it aloud for fear of persecution, many started to relegate the Emperor to the backs of their minds. A bright new future beckoned.

But Calixis was not only of interest to the Imperium and those who lay within its purview; other, darker forces were at work. The Word Bearers, being led de facto by the Dark Apostle Eliphas, had plans for the sector as well. Before Ahriman descended into the depths of Cadia, he had struck a deal that Eliphas could not refuse: The Chaos Gods would consume all creation if only he could gain access to Cadia's secrets, but Cadia was merely the doorway: The key lay elsewhere. Somewhere in the Calixis Sector, the key to the Tyrant Star was waiting to be found by anyone with wits enough to search for it. Eliphas was no fool; he did not believe in Ahriman's notoriously machiavellic promises; but Ahriman had granted him a portion of the knowledge that he had obtained in the Black Library, and so, the Dark Apostle hatched a scheme of his own. Calixis would be just the start. If he could find the key to understanding the Tyrant Star, then he would have enough power to put someone else on the Golden Throne. He did not need the Gods to consume all creation, merely to be worshipped by it. He rather enjoyed creation. No, he would see the Taint of Chaos spread from the heart of the Imperium. He would complete what Horus had started long ago; Chaos would reign atop the Golden Throne. But Chaos was weak; whatever the Tyrant Star had done in the materium, something very much alike it had done to the immaterium: Daemons were consumed whole and planets disappeared without warning. The Ruinous Powers waned, almost imperceptibly, but daily. Eliphas needed to solve this puzzle before he became powerless to continue his quest. And so, to Calixis he went.

And in Calixis a pair of opposites would meet: Deep inside the webway lay the Black Library of Chaos, the eldar repository of all Forbidden Knowledge, acquired from milennia of study and survival. The fact that the portion of the Webway it lay in overlapped with the Calixis Sector could be mere coincidence, or couple explain a great deal about the sector's infamous history. Nevertheless, now two forces headed towards it: A kabal of dark eldar so secretive in their thinking yet so ostentatious in their methods and extreme in their Thirst that it had become something of an outcast in Comorragh; no easy feat. The Kabal of the Dead Hand counted among its number a single Solitaire, a soulless Eldar capable of representing Slaanesh in the Great Dance without being driven mad, a formidable and graceful warrior that lives in solitude and dedicates itself only to warn other Eldar of the Doom that came to their race with their folly. They worship the Laughing God, and It is said that their kind is the only one allowed entry to the Black Library. Why a figure respected and feared by many eldar would fall to the Dark was a mystery, but it had. And the Dead Hand needed it; with the Emperor's death, their Thirst grew stronger with each passing day. The Great Enemy was closer than ever. Devouring tortured souls no longer sated the Dark Eldar's unholy way of life; they would fall prey to Slaanesh sooner or later. And they needed answers. Answers that might lie within the fabled Black Library.

And their opposites, the Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden, warned by their pairs of Ulthwé of the Tyranid Invasion of Cadia, were desperate; The Great Devourer was the enemy they feared the most, and they were on the brink of extinction. If this Tyrant Star and the tyranids it brought to Cadia heralded another Hive Fleet, Iyanden would be well and truly lost. And so Yriel, cursed prince of the Eldar, made his way to the Black Library as well, hoping for an answer, hoping for hope, hoping to save what few of his people remained in a Craftworld populated by the ghosts of the long dead. He did not know what he would find there; Iyanden farseers had only glimpsed that he might find something, that he might be allowed entry should he prove pure of heart. He had nothing to lose; his soul was already forfeit. And so he travelled within the Webway towards Calixis and the Library.

And fate decreed that in this vast battleground that spanned thousands of light-years both material and immaterial that these four forces should meet. Which one will you lead?

Marius Hax and the Calixian Sector?

Dark Apostle Eliphas and his Word Bearers


The Dead Hand Kabal and its Dark Solitaire


Prince Yriel and Craftworld Iyanden?

And another thing. It seems that a God has taken an interest in you, whichever the faction you choose. You do not know why, you do not even know that it has. But it has, and an old and powerful God it is, skilled in the ways of trickery and deceit. The mechanics of this will be explained in the first update, but for now, would you rather this God be:

Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways?


The Deceiver, the Jackal God of the Necrontyr?


Should I toss a coin to decide and not tell you the result?

Please note that the Chaos faction may choose the Deceiver as well, you will see why as the story progress. the gods interests' have nothing to do with corruption, but with their own agendas.




Imperial thought for the day: In the darkness a blind man is the best guide. In an age of Madness look to the madman to show the way.

Sector Lord Hax sleeps poorly every night; not because of insomnia, but rather, because of paperwork. A great deal of it, all of it important. Tithe collecting, rebellious activity sightings, the reviewing of fiscal and economic reports for the sector, and the occasional plea for help on some matter or other. Not by any means a happy man, he could be described as satisfied: He is obssessed with the minutiae of governing and finds it relaxing to deal with it. Conversely, when effectively ruling instead of penpushing (though he makes no distinction between these two terms), he seems to have the opposing view: What does he care if there are injustices being committed on some backwater planet by a few zealots? Or even in his own Scintilla? First and foremost, order and obedience to the Imperial Administration must be maintained at all costs, even if it is at the expense of a few million lives. He makes sure to always capitalize the A on the Administratum, but rarely does so on the I of Imperium: He is a bureaucratic animal, devoid of any ideology but that dedicated to the proper running of things. To him, the God-Emperor means no more than his own Palace: A symbolic mark of authority, needed to rule, but hardly worthy of worship. A man of purebred Terran stock, with a brilliant mind and a keen eye for detail, people consider him unsympathetic and too austere. Yet he is the one to make sure that, much like a clock, the Calixis Sector's wheels are properly greased and it does not stop or get grit caught between them. For this he is awarded a great measure of respect, and the few fools who have underestimated him have discovered to their displeasure that his coldly analytical view of Order is just as brutal as the madness of some egomaniacal planetary governor while far more efficient. Alive for some 200 years, yet with the rejuvent treatment retaining the appearance of a stern and fit 50-year old man, Marius Hax governs the sector with an iron grip and an acute mind.

A mind that is sadly failing as of late. A conspiracy of Istvaanian inquisitors, believing in strengthening the Imperium through conflict, have been consistently trying to push Lord Hax over the edge of sanity through any means they can conjure up, be they poison, sudden rebellion, or merely administrative absurdities that are anathema's to Hax's cold view of proceedings. They have had a measure of success, and now that the Calixis Sector is apparently the only one in the Imperium still up and running, the strains of these niggling problems have taken their toll on the Sector Lord's mind. Still, he does the best he can, which is a great deal. Presently, he has been facing two main problems, both quite distasteful to him.

Firstly, there is the matter of the private audience. While Marius Hax rarely makes public appearances, he recognizes that in these circumstances, isolation and political estrangement may very well mean his fall from grace in the sector. Both the aristocrats of Malfi and the Holy Ordos have requested private audiences with him to discuss 'matters of grave importance'. Though he is loathe to grant them, he must. The problem arises when deciding which audience to grant first: The Ordos and the Malfian Aristocracy have been at eachother's throats since the Sector's inception, the Inquisitors considering the malfians a bunch of well-dressed scum and quite possibly heretical, you hear the stories, and the malfian families see the Inquisition as a thorn in their sides, a constant obstacle to their ambitions in the sector and most of all, a bunch of uppity fools with no care for niceties and courtly manners, subtle as hammers on anvils. Though they are both right and they are both wrong, whichever delegation Lord Hax decides to grant the audience to first will perceive this as a sign of favour, whilst the other delegation will take this as a slight. Marius sighed, and cursed all politicians.

The second problem is the Imperial Guard presence in the sector: Though nominally all fall under the command of the Sector Lord, the regiments in the Malfian sub-sector are scarcely more than Planetary Defense Forces kept in thrall by the aristocratic families, oftentimes their enforcers and thugs against those who oppose them, even going as far as subtly threatening Administratum personnel. The Lord Sector needs these aristocrats to be brought to heel, but being too blunt about it may cause things to spiral out of his control. Yet another thorny problem.

While immersed in these considerations, a sudden gust of wind blew through the Sector Lord's room. Suddenly, Marius was facing a slender young woman with a long, thin blade made of a translucent material that seemed to cut through light itself. The woman raised the sword to finish him, and he blacked out. When he came to, he found himself in the presence of a most peculiar gentleman: A tall black man with angular and quite handsome features, coal-black eyes and a regal posture that betrayed a noble upbringing. The man was dressed in a suit the color of bleached bone, and sporting an ivory cane, as well as a pair of smoked circular glasses over the arch of his nose. This man acknowledged Marius with a respectul bow, and then rested both his hands of the top of his cane, speaking to the Sector Lord with a soft, kindly voice and an amiable expression framed by an enchanting smile:

"Good evening, Lord Calixis. It seems there has been an assassination attempt on your life. I do hope you will not begrudge me this timely intervention."

Marius looked around the room, searching for the woman who had been there just a moment before. There was no sign of her, although a few scattered ashes around his table might have given him a clue to the woman's fate.

"Yes, sadly, I was forced to take lethal action against her. A Callidus Assassin, I expect, going by her weapon. It is a pity, such a young and pretty damsel as herself, but nevertheless, desperate times, desperate measures. As they say."

The Sector Lord was still perplexed, and could only utter a primitive question:

"Who are you?"

"I? I am merely a helper, Your Grace. I suppose you could think of me as your assistant in matters extraordinary. Do not be alarmed, I have your best interests in heart."

Sector Lord Hax pulled himself together and managed to be a little more assertive:

"What? What are you talking about? Spit it out, man! What are you doing here? What has happened? What is this tomfoolery?"

"No tomfoolery, Your Grace. As I said, I am merely helping. I was here saving your life, and I very much suspect I will do so again. But enough chat for now; take this ring. Wear it at all times. Whenever you feel you need my aid, merely think of me and touch it. I shall attend. Good evening, Your Grace."

The tall black man gave another smile, the same smile he had used millenia before when talking to the primitive wise men and shamen of what was once planet Earth, when he talked to them about sorcery and magicks and the lure of Chaos and the necessity to protect oneself from it. He gave them a book, that day. A book that would shape mankind. He gave Marius another respectul bow and walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.

The Lord Sector regarded the ring in his hand; a common enough one, opaque silver, and quite discreet. He slipped it on his ring finger unthingkly, and tried to dismiss all that had just happened as a bad dream, or perhaps an allucination. He had had a few lately. A Callidus Assassin, eh? Here in Scintilla? Only the Inquistion had access to those, and why would they send one against him? And the tall black man...It must have been a dream. Surely. But the ring was still on his finger, and it felt no less real than the room around it. Sometimes, it pays to be thorough.

There are three matters that require your attention:


Do you send out feelers to inquire about it? This is risky: If the Inquisition is truly behind this, then they'll know about your enquiries soon enough, little gets past them. You might alert them. But better to fight the enemy you know.


Do you merely increase your personal security? This would be somewhat suspicious, but not overtly: Besides, you cannot be sure they will not try it again.


Do you grant the audience to the Malfian Aristocrats first?


Do you grant the audience to the Holy Ordos?


Do you declare that all Imperial Guard regiments are under your direct control and if the Malfian Families try to interfere they will face your displeasure?


Do you reach a compromise and allow the families to maintain their own PDFs, asserting your authority upon the Guard Regiments only?


Do you do nothing for now? The malfian families are not a direct threat, but they are hornet's nest. Stir it and you might get stung.

the 'divine favour' mechanic will work as follows: whenever you feel you are in a tight spot or require guidance, you might ask for it. I will not present this option in a voting form, you must simply be aware that you have it at all times and state it in your post; should the others agree with you, then divine assistance will be invoked. However, do not expect that your patron God will always aid you, or even that he will aid you with your best interests in heart: He might very well deceive you, left worse off than before, or simply not answer at all. And the more you call for him, the more under his influence you will be. So use this feature wisely.



Imperial thought for the day: Politics pale in the face of the resolute

"Philus, please tell Lord Marshall Goreman to attend me at his earliest convenience. Also, send word to the Malfian Delegation that they shall be in attendance tomorrow at noon. Send our excuses to the Inquisitors, but assure them of our faith and goodwill. Embellish that a bit, will you? Say something about the malfian being fickle and vain and their insecurity asks for this rather dubious honor, whilst the Inquisition is grand in character and moral firmness and shall surely understand the necessities of politiciking. Something along those lines, if you please. Now, leave me be, and tell me when the Lord Marshall arrives."

"Yes, Your Grace." The secretary left the room discreetly by the back door carrying some files and reports that had been looked over by the Lord Calixis in the last night. Marius Hax sat at his desk, lightly tapping it with his ringed finger while pouring himself a moderate amount of Lucid Water, a liquor produced inside the Lucid Palace itself and a rare delicacy outside of it; alcohol mixed with many drugs that caused a soothing sensation while sharpening the intellect. He carefully analyzed inside his mind the decisions he was setting out to make: receiving the malfian delegation first while preparing to strip them of part of their power; the carrot and the stick, that made sense. But to ask for Lord Marshall Goreman to investigate into his assassination attempt...He feared he was doing this more out of a necessity to reassure himself that what he had experienced had indeed been real, not some trick of the mind. His mind wandered, lately. He couldn't have that. Nor could the Sector.

No more than half an hour later, Goreman, Lord Marshal of the Adeptus Arbites in the Calixis Sector, knocked on his door and entered. Marius explained to him what happened, and told him to investigate it discreetly. The Lord Marshal expressed some doubts, but the Lord Calixis overruled him: This was to happen under complete secrecy and be carried out with alacrity. He would not tolerate mistakes. The Lord Marshal relented, but said he would post some more men to guard Marius regardless. Marius vehemently denied this: He did not want to appear weak before the Malfian devils. Leaving the meeting dispirited, Goreman set about his duties.

Lord Hax spent the rest of the day reviewing industrial production reports about Sepheris Secundus, a hellish mining world that was the core of Calixian economy; all others planets depended on its vast output of minerals to maintain an efficient administration. It was therefore considered Exactus Extremis, the highest tithe an Imperial planet can pay, and it payed it mostly in the blood of its workers, crushed under a medieval feudal system that extracted nine-tenths of every ounce of ore mined by the serfs. The Planetary Governor's title was even "Queen", Marius mused, as he read the reports. It seemed that some among the lower classes had manifested Tyrantborn mutations, and were rallying others to their cause of "Freedom and Progress". Marius frowned at this: He hated rebellion above everything else. The Imperium runned efficiently because it had a place for everyone, and everyone in their place. These upstarts would need to be dealt with, lest Sepheris Secundus became embroiled in a civil war. Yet, as he poured himself a larger dose of Lucid Water, he thought to himself: Again I see the Tyrant Star, again its influence threatens this sector. When will this end, I wonder? Is this not the Inquisition's job? They even have an entire bloody Cabal led by that willy-tongued hobgoblin Zerbe to investigate the damn thing, and all they can come up with is one inane theory after another, none of which helped prevented anything so far. Damn their hides!

Marius awoke with his head glued to the desk he sat on, the bottle of Lucid Water empty beside him. He surreptitiously lit a lho-stick, a habit born long ago, and treated himself to a dose of a stimulant tailored specifically to his metabolism, along with his rejuvenat drug treatment. He had about three hours to prepare before the arrival of the delegation, and the pile of petitions, complaints, pleas for help and other assorted junk that the Malfian envoy had delivered him sat high atop his table. He had read them all thoroughly, and most of them were, as he had thought, utter gibberish. However, one more had been added while he was asleep and without his knowledge: It bore the Inquisitorial seal, and was marked highly confidential. It mentioned a certain Masqued cult, a sect of hedonistic nobles and partygoers that Lord Inquisitor Caidin had called "a dilettante cult", and thus not a real concern. However, the document that Marius now read said most emphatically that some of the members of the delegation he was about to meet were strongly suspected of being cultists, and the anonymous Inquisitor that had wrote the document kindly asked Marius to discreetly inquire about this during his audience, so as to elicit some suspicious reaction, and then have the Malfian delegation followed by his Arbites, for they would meet in a cult house this very night in Scintilla. So the document read.

Bloody hell! What is this, a lover's quarrel? I have decided to grant the Malfians the audience first and now the Ordos asked me to do their work for them? Are they leading me into a trap? Or is this a palpable threat? A friendly warning, perhaps, that I am about to get into bed with people worse than I thought they were? Should I look into this, or let the Inquisition be damned? I'm not their lapdog. What gall! Is this even the Inquistion's work? It might be the damned malfians themselves, setting out to make a fool of me!

As these thoughts passed through Hax's head, the secretary Philus came to warn him that the Malfian delegation was ready to meet him.

Do you...

Do as the document asks and have the Malfian Delegation discreetly followed after your meeting, and during it inquire about the activities of this cult? It might be considered a minor insult, but hardly a major offense: this cult is common knowledge among all who hold any power in the Calixis Sector, and inquiring about its activities (which are, in fact, based especially in the Malfian Subsector) is not such a shocking turn of events.


Do you disregard the document as a fool's delusion and proceed with the meeting as you had planned? Much needs to be discussed, not least the Imperial Guard question and the declining standards of their Forgeworlds' exports. To inject such an apparently trivial question into the meeting might sour the mood. And should they discover they are being followed, a minor diplomatical incident might occur.

i'll warn you just this once that the 'divine assistance' mechanic is now in effect and may be called upon whenever you want



Marius' Hax thought for the day: One should never hang a convict with one's own hands. Give him enough rope and enough leeway, and he will hang himself.

Marius listened as the Malfian Delegation droned on about trade concessions, sovereign rights on new colonies, tariffs, and things of that ilk. He was a very good listener: that is not to say that people felt comfortable and relieved when they talked to him, it was rather the opposite. He listened with ferocious intent and an expression of absolute attention. This tended to put people off; they felt they were in the presence of someone who has truly paying attention to each and every word and thus made an extra care to not let slip anything they shouldn't. This made them nervous. Lord Hax remained stoically silent and absolutely attentive as the delegation continued to talk and even bicker amongst themselves. Eventually, the chattering came to a halt in face of Lord Hax's agressive listening.

"Grave concerns indeed, my Lords. however, there is one thing i couldn't manage but notice: you, Lord Scheele, off-handedly remarked to Lord Vineta that you have been having enough trouble getting goods ouf of the subsector when lord Vineta proposed the importation tariffs. Which goods are these? I cannot help you if I'm ignorant about the matter."

"Eh...that is...Well, there is a demand for goods of an unusual nature in the Drusus Marches, especially near the Halo Stars. Rogue Traders and such, i'm sure you understand, m'lord."

Lord Marius Hax wrote down "Rogue Traders" in big cursive letters in the paper in front of him and carried on:

"I'm afraid I don't, Lord Scheele. Could you be more specific?"

"Well, combat stimulants and such, m'lord. drugs of all sorts that spacers need to keep concentration in space."

"Indeed? But these goods are regulated by the trading council in Scintilla. All worlds that trade them are under a strict quota, and would not be affected by the tariffs Lord Vineta proposed at all."

"I...I think I was confused, m'lord. Forgive me."

"Of course. It is only natural. Do not worry about it unduly. Now, gentleman, there are some matters we must attend to. And the situation is grave."

"Whose?" Blurted out Lord Scheele, sweat running down his neck.

"I'm sorry?" Said Lord Hax, with a puzzled expression.

"I meant...what seems to be the problem, m'lord?"

"Well, to be frank, I'm sure you are aware of a talk of conspiracy amongst yourselves to keep your native goods at an artificially low price so they can outcompete the importations of other sectors while exporting second-hand quality material, why I myself have received several complaints from Imperial Guard regiments that the weaponry they have received from Malfian forgeworlds has a tendency to break in the worst of times." The sentence came out fast and fluid, as if it had been poising to strike for some time.

"Actionable slander, my lord! There is no such conspiracy, and even if there was, we could never afford to keep anything at a low price. We deal in luxury goods of the highest calliber!" Shouted Lord Vineta, feeling somewhat insulted.

Marius Hax wrote down "Luxury Goods" in the paper in front of him and continued:

"Merely mentioning something to you, my Lord, is not actionable, as i'm sure you are aware. As for the prices, I believe you do own the biggest banking trust in the entire Sector, Lord Vineta. I am merely stating rumours that have been circulating in Scintilla, and it is my utmost wish to quell these rumours because, my Lords, nothing breeds rebellion faster than gossip. I trust I can count on you to dissipate these slanderous accusations, then? And in the process, prove that your Forgeworld's goods are as good as their reputation upholds them to be?"

The delegation relaxed. Although the atmosphere had been tense, Lord Hax was a man of finesse: He obviously understood the necessities of business, and was merely worried about a potential uprising. All the members of the delegation were quick to reassure Lord Hax that these rumours were untruthful and if the Forgeworld material that had been exported lately had been subpar, this would be swiftly corrected. Lord Hax smiled.

As the audience continued, Lord Hax made small concessions here and there: In exchange for a steady supply of top quality military materiel, some importations tariffs could be implemented. He gave them full sovereign rights over any colonies they might encounter (knowing full well there were none), and even made allusions to a place in the Scintilla Trading Council for one of the Malfian families. Trade concessions on Sepheris Secunds would be awarded if the Malfians committed the full strength of all their Guard Regiments to prevent a rebellion there; which they agreed to. And here Hax delivered the killing blow:

"You are aware, of course, that these Imperial Regiments will fall under my direct command. They are the Imperial Guard after all."

"My lord, this is scandalous! Are you suggesting we should hand over our planets' security to you and you alone?" Said Lord Scheele. Lord Vineta gasped at this.

"I hope you are not suggesting I am incapable of defending the worlds within my Sector, Lord Scheele."

Scheele realized too late his blunder "No...no, of course not. I merely meant..."

"Indeed. I'm sure you meant well. However, what I meant was something quite different: An uprising in Sepheris Secundus will spell the doom of industrial production all across the Sector. I need your guard regiments to quell this, because they are better positioned and no doubt more experienced than the fresh troops I have at my disposal here in the Golgenna Reach."

All of this was a lie: There was a direct warp route from Sepheris Secunds to Scintilla, and the Guardsmen regiments in the malfian subsector were widely considered to be the worst in Calixis. But the malfian delegation knew much about politics and very little of matters military.

"Furthermore, I am not suggesting that you should leave your worlds completely defenseless: You are of course entitled to have your own Planetary Defense Forces under your full direct control, which you no doubt already do, and bolster their numbers as you think necessary."

The malfian delegation whispered to one another in hushed tones, and eventually came to the conclusion that this proposal was acceptable. The Imperial Guard regiments would be handed over to Marius Hax as long as they retained soveireign rights on their world's security forces. Lord Hax smiled for the second time.

"This has been a most productive meeting, my Lords. I'm sure you all agree, and i'm sure you are all tired. However, before we excuse ourselves, there is one other matter I would like discussed."

"Of course, of course, we are all here at your pleasure, m'lord." Said Lord Scheele, eager to please after his blunders.

"If you allow me, I shall speak frankly. The Holy Ordos has been pestering me to bring the Malfian Sub-Sector to heel for a while now, because they believe you are nothing but troublemakers. You and I, we believe otherwise. We see eye-to-eye, I think."

The assembled delegation nodded. This was certainly true.

"And so they have come to me with the most ludicrous request! That I should imprison one of you on charges of being a heretic" Said Lord Hax, looking Lord Scheele straight in the eye. "However, of course I will not do that. This is not my job, it is theirs, and it is furthermore a clear breach of the etiquette that we hold so dear. I cannot believe that any among you, luminaries of Malfian society, have even so much as thought about Heresy in all your lives. The picture simply does not fit."

"My Lord, I can assure you that these baseless and treacherous accusations from the Inquisition are nothing more than that. A man of your stature will understand that sometimes, when one comes to power, there will be others who will seek to undermine him by any means possible" Answered Lord Vineta.

"Indeed, indeed, you are quite right."

Philus entered the room carrying a stack of files, one of which bore the Inquisitorial seal with the characteristic Handwriting of the Sector Lord alongside it saying "The Masqued: More Inquisitorial Gibberish". Many members of the Malfian delegation craned their heads to read it.

"Ah, yes, Thank you Philus. This is the document I was talking about. It says something about a Masquerade, a Costume Ball, something of the sort, and implies that it is in fact a heretic cult. Frankly, my lords, I grow weary of these constant attempts by the Inquistion to disrupt the stability in our sector. If, by chance, should any of you attend a costume ball, which I know is a popular custom on Malfi, be so kind as to intone the Imperial Creed beforehand so that the Inquisition will get this damned silly idea out of their heads."

Lord Marius Hax let out a small laugh, and the rest of the delegation laughed with him, quite loudly. They were clearly men of breeding, who understood that the Inquisition was nothing more than Terra's bulldog. They embraced warmly, and started to leave the room. However, one of the Malfian Lords, who had spent the entire audience silent and quite serious, never letting his gaze wander off Marius' face, came to him and asked:

"What a curious ring you are wearing, Lord Calixis. Where did you find such a novel item?"

"Oh, it was a gift from a friend, Jendrous. I'm sure I shall have many more after today's success."

Jendrous Kaffiq, Governor of the Malfian Subsector, nodded and smiled, leaving the room with the rest of the delegation.

"Philus, have them followed discreetly. Do not ask Goreman do to so: assign our little friend to this task, will you? I shall retire to my quarters and prepare for the Inquisitorial Delegation on the morrow."

Marius Hax entered his room cautiously, checking every angle and blind corner, and sat himself at his desk where he poured himself a generous dose of Amasec. Guards should be stationed outside, and the sniper's nest was to be manned continuously overnight. At Lord Hax's desk, lay two parcels. One of them contained a Harlequin Mask and a vellum paper on which was written an adress, along with the words "Come and see" in the handwriting of Marius Hax's Special Agent. Another contained an envelope with the Inquisitorial Seal and merely a scribbled adress and a stated time.

Would you like to...

Go to the Masqued Ball's location?


Do you go to the location indicated in the Inquisition's letter?


Do you go to sleep?



Marius Hax's thought for the day: Now I see a darkness.

The Lord Calixis picked up the Inquisition's letter and prepared himself to head out. He chose a squad of eight men to accompany him, all of them stormtroopers that had served time in the Penal Legions. Exactly the reason why he chose them. After some thought, he picked up his lathe-blade and put a caparace vest under his clothes, just in case. After some more thought, he brought the Ring close to his mouth and whispered "walk with me". The ring glowed for a moment, and soon returned to its silvery opacity.

At appointed time and place, Lord Marius Hax stood in a darkened alley far from the hive-apartments and the hubbub of Scintilla. If anybody tried to assassinate him, this would be the perfect place. No sounds, no people. While reflecting on this, he heard the first shot going off and saw one of the stormtroops going down without a head. The other seven soon followed. Lord Scheele detached himself from the shadows, wielding a force sword (interesting, thought Marius, I never knew this dimwit to be a psyker), and started babbling incoherently, his expression one of ragged anguish. After a while he calmed down and spoke:

"You! The others said I shouldn't do this, but you made me look like a fool! Hah! Who's the fool now, you idiot? I never thought you'd be so gullible as to fall for the Inquisition's card, but here you are, alone and unguarded. Meddling in my affairs, would you? No no no I won't let you, you won't get anything out of me, trying to take away my guardsmen! No! I'll laugh last. Die!"

The psychic blow sent Lord Hax reeling, bringing him down to his knees and snapping back his neck, wide open for a strike from the Malfian Lord's force sword. However, before he could finish off the Lord Calixis, one of the snipers he had set-up for this trap fell from his hiding spot, dead in the ground beside him. The others followed, all of them apparently without any wounds, but quite clearly dead. Scheele panicked and went for the killing blow while Hax was still disoriented, but the sword was knocked off from his hand by an unseen assailant. He frantically drew the c'tan phase blade that he had recently acquired, and once again went for the killing blow. Now his blade was stopped in its tracks by a single upraised finger. A tall, dark figure materialized in front of him, wearing a bleached-white suit and a smoked pince-nez.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Lord Scheele. I'm quite fond of this man."

"Wha-what?! How are you?! Apparition! Heresy! Marius Hax is a heretic, I knew it! Abomination! Die!" Babbled Scheele, now quite out of his mind. He tried to deliver blow after blow and each time the tall man stopped his sword with his hand. Eventually, the stranger grew weary of this and just knocked the blade from Scheele's hand.

"What do you know?" Asked the stranger, his smoked glasses flashing gold while looking straight into the madman's eyes.

"The...horror...The...I know...nothing...nothing...Spare me...please."

"If you know nothing you are of no use to me. Goodbye, Lord Scheele."

The Malfian suddenly collapsed without any apparent effort from the tall stranger. Marius Hax finally managed to recover from the psychic shockwave and got up on his feet. He looked at the phase blade dropped neatly aside Scheele's body.

"Another phase knife. Now we know who tried to assassinate me."

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. These are uncommon, but it is dangerous to jump to conclusions."

"Yes. I suppose it is. Nevertheless, this is proof of malfian treachery, even if he worked alone...I see you've made good on your word., stranger. Will you tell me who you are, now?"

"I already told you, Your Grace. I have many names, all of them at your disposal."

"Very well. Let us head back to the castle, them. I'll send someone to collect the bodies."

"I am yours to command, Your Grace" Said the dark figure, and bowed.

Back at the Lucid Palace, Marius had already sent the Arbites to retrieve the bodies. Now he faced a decision: Should he arrest the malfian delegation still on the planet? Even if Scheele worked alone, they would know something. He himself had said he had consulted them. Arresting them would be sensible, and would win him favor with the Inquisition. It would also be sensible to get a hold of them before the Inquisition did, for they would know about this incident before long. On the other hand, this knowledge might prove useful in the future, as political leverage. One of their own had tried to assassinate a Sector Lord. This was high treason, and he could use it to shame the malfian families to do his bidding, perhaps. It was a risky move, but with a great pay-off. As he considered his options, he poured himself yet another dose of Amasec mixed with some Lucid Water.

Do you...

Arrest the delegation?


Do you let them go...for now?



The only good is knowledge; The only evil is ignorance.

He would let the blasted delegation go, for now. Now that he had in his hands definite proof that something vile was afoot, he would hold onto that proof tightly, and use it when it would net him the most befit. No point in upsetting the status quo, that would be bound to happen eventually, and when it did, he would have the upper hand. The dark figure watching Marius Hax reasoned that the Lord Calixis thought much like himself, and now knew he had chosen well his new protegé. In his unseen realm, the dark watcher smiled.

Back at the Lucid Palace, however, Marius was having second thoughts about this whole sordid affair. This...entity helping him, what was it? What was it after? It was certainly supernatural in nature, but was it Chaos that had extended his hand to him? None of his psykers had mentioned anything about a powerful presence anywhere nearby. This was not comforting. It only meant that this creature was powerful enough to go undected even by Marius' sanctioned psykers, no mean feat, especially considering their leader was a Space Marines Librarian. Hax was growing angry; everybody was trying to toy with him, from the inquisition, to the malfians, to his mysterious helper. After a few doses of Amasec, he decided he had had enough and tried to remove the ring from his finger. To Marius' horror, the ring tightened and fought against his pull. On a closer inspecton, the ring had apparently become embedded in his own skin, down to the bone. He had not noticed...He felt no pain. It had just happened. Short of cutting off his finger, nothing could be done about that now. Well...

A knock on his door awakened him from his gloomy reverie. He opened it, and sat back at his desk.

"What did you find?" Asked Hax to the soaking wet stranger that had just entered his room, the hour well past midnight.

"Not much. They wouldn't le me in. Their masks have encoded logic circuits that can only be read by appropriately tuned Auspexes." Answered Comissar Ciaphas Cain, taking off his dripping drill-abbot robe and helping himself to some Amasec.

"So why did you send me one?"

"I imagined you could use your political stature to gain entry, then dispose of the guards somehow, so they wouldn't tell on you. Once inside, you'd be indistinguishable from the others. Why didn't you go?"

"I had...other matters to attend to. Regardless, we know now beyond the shadow of a doubt that some of the members of the delegation are members of this cult."

"Hardly a great revelation. Half of Malfi is tied to the cult in one way or another. To be honest, they are hardly a threat. Just ignorant hedonists, not chaos cultists. I think the Inquisition was testing you."

"Quite probably. Did you discover the identity of those who went to the masquerade?"

"No. I followed the delegation into a building, not all of them came out, and those that did were already wearing their masks. No way to tell."

"And did they notice you?"

"All they noticed was a drunk drill-abbot cursing his cadets. I doubt they thought much of it."

"Excellent. And now, tomorrow, we face the Inquisition. I wonder how I should approach the matter. I have both the phase knife that was used in my assassination attempt, and their letter asking me to investigate the malfians. Perhaps I should confront them head-on, they won't give me a straight answer, but they will at least be stirred. I grow weary of their games, Ciaphas."

"It's certainly an option. But holding your cards close to your chest might pay off in the long game. It might well be another test, how far you would go to keep a secret. Besides, Lord Goreman's investigation has not been finished. You have no solid proof."

"This blade seems quite solid to me, as does this letter. If I keep playing their secrecy games I might get simply lost in the endless crypticism, as so many who deal with the Ordos do."

"Yes, that's true. I suppose both attitudes have merit, but you'll have to choose. Either play your cards and force them to action, or wait and see."

"Forcing them to action could cause them to retreat inside their little shell and tell me merely what I want to hear. And waiting could end up with me inside a coffin, or ignorant of what is going on in my sector, which I think is worse."

"Worse than a coffin?"

"The only good is knowledge; The only evil, ignorance."

"That sounds...heretical." Said Cain warily, knowing that this was not a thing you should say to a Sector Lord.

"It is. A Chaos Sorcerer once said it, before he turned to the warp. Ahzek Ahriman was his name, I believe. Regardless of his current allegiance, I am inclined to agree with him."

"You should do what you think is best, Marius. If you need me for anything, I shall be in my quarters. Good night."

Marius Hax nodded to the commissar and went back inside his head, a stiff double of Lucid Water helping that process along. How should he deal with the Inquisition?

Do you confront them openly, using the phase blade and their letter requesting assistance to force them to tell you what in the warp is going on?


Do you keep a low profile and play them at their own game? Continue with the charade, and see where it leads.



Imperial thought for the day: He who is without faith is damned for eternity

"Good evening, my lords. I trust you are well?"

"Yes, indeed. And you yourself? Blessed with good health?"

"Indeed I am grateful for the Emperor's blessings. Please be seated, I shall have my aides serve us drinks."

Marius Hax regard the three Inquisitors seated opposite of him. So, Van Vuygens, Ahmazzi, and Kaede. All members of the Tyrantine Cabal, one of each of the Ordos. A wizened old scholar, a doomsayer, and a witchhunter with a less than reputable past. Though these were respected men inside the Cabal, they were hardly worthy of a meeting with the Sector Lord. None of them had any political experience and devoted most of their time to their obscure beliefs. This was a calculated insult, and someone was behind this. Marius could see the puppets. All that was missing was a puppeteer.

"I understand you have matters you wish to addres with me? I am, as always, a faithful admirer of the Holy Ordos and all that it stands for."

Ahmazzi grunted, Van Vuygens looked blank. It seemed that Vownus Kaede was the one who would do the talking.

"Indeed, my Lord Calixis. There are matters of grave concern we need discussed. We all know of the Tyrant Star and its appearance upon Cadia, which it still has not left. Now strange mutations manifest themselves among our populace, and the common folk call them the Tyrantborn. Though we have found some use for them, as Astropaths and Navigators, they remain a potentially very dangerous threat. We of the Ordos would like to know your opinion on the matter."

"I'm sorry? Did you schedule a private audience with me to hear my opinion on mutants? I thought that was your area of expertise, Kaede. I do not see how my opinion could help you in any way. Surely the Inquisition did not send three of his most gifted agents to see me merely because they thought me important enough for an opinion? I am but a humble servant, sirs. What opinion could I possibly hold?"

Ahmazzi let out a small laugh. Out of the three, he was probably the sharpest, but held little interest in day-to-day affairs. He believed humanity to be inevitably doomed, and merely wanted to be around on the day when it finally fell. Hax's finger hand found itself clenching without him noticing. Steady now...These men want to provoke a reaction. Do not let them.

"Lord Hax, you pay us a great honor, but it is well known you are a wise man averse to disorder and chaos under your rule. Surely you think that these so-called Tyrantborn might disrupt order throughout the sector?"

They already have, you damn fools. You know very well about the Sepheris Secundus situation, probably even more than I. But you'll get nothing out of me. I'm done playing your games.

"Perhaps. I'm afraid that it is not my area. However, if I might make so bold, perhaps you could give me your opinion on another situation?"

Before waiting for Kaede to respond, Marius silently slipped the Inquisitorial letter towards their end of the table. Kaede took it, and read it, alongside the report Cain had submitted. It took him a while, and he seemed to read some paragraphs many times over. When he was finished, he spoke in a less friendly voice:

"What of it? We asked of you a favor. It is your duty as a loyal citizen of the Imperium to assist the Inquisition in its investigations."

"I do not deny my duty, Inquisitor, but you should know yours better. Could you not have had your own men follow the Malfians? What possible information could you hope to elicit from the Mallfian Delegation merely by mentioning the Masqued? I understand several of your Inquisitors have tried to infiltrate this cult, and some even joined it. That must quite a stain on your record."

"Hax, you know nothing of the inner workings of the Inquisition. You were in a position to grant us a favor, and you did. The matter is closed. Speak no more of that which you know not."

"I'm afraid the matter is far from closed, Vownus" Hax stressed the man's first name as a clear sign of distaste; the Inquisitor had not adressed him properly "I am the Lord of this entire Sector. While you hunt witches and deal with prophecies and toy with artifacts, I make all of this work. I make supplies arrive where they should, and material leave from where they should. I keep worlds from starving, and I keep men armed so the starving masses won't eat one another. I oversee all military operations in the sector; I beat back Chaos warbands, Xenos incursions, I keep the Imperial Navy prepared and most importantly, well-maintained. I maintain a reliable economy and banking system without which the sector would fall into disarray. I quell uprisings, smash rebellions, collect information on everything that happens in every one of my worlds, Inquisitor, and I will not follow Ordos' whims. You have had your fun with your little test. I trust it will not repeat itself. I have a Sector to run, and no time for child's play."

"Child's play? This is an insult! Hax, you overstep your mark!" Said Kaede in a furious tone, raising his voice.

"Be silent, you idiot" Interrupted Ahmazzi, his voice gravelly and low"Lord Hax is right. Forgive us this little...incident, Your Grace, but it was necessary. Many rumours have abounded lately about your possible connections with the Malfian and their heretical practices. When you decided to grant them the audience first, we thought it wise to give you a chance to prove yourself loyal, and help dispell these accusations."

"Accusations? Rumours? Where do they come from?"

"From reliable sources, Your Grace. Or sources we have until now considered to be utterly reliable. This little stunt was necessary, even though it perhaps proves nothing, it helps in clearing your name."

"I do not need my name cleared, Inquisitor Ahmazzi. I have ruled this sector for over for centuries without a single crime committed, bribe accepted, heresy performed. You know this very well. I am just."

No, thought Marius, though he did not know where the thought came from: I am not just, I am Justice.

"Indeed. We shall look into our sources, then, to help us solve this little mystery. I assure you we do not levy such accusations lightly, but there was...proof."

"Proof? What kind of proof?"

"The most damning kind, Sir. We have several Vox Recordings of you consorting with the Malfians with vague allusions to what could well be heretical worship."

"Vox Recordings? I had no such conversations. But you have Vox Recordings of me? You have been...spying on me?"

Ahmazzi spread his palms open in a concilliatory fashion:

"We are the Inquisition. It is what we do."

Lord Hax nodded, his face impassive.

"I too have another kind of proof, Inquisitors. Look at it, and tell me what you see."

Marius displayed to them the phase blade he had recovered from the Lord Scheele, and spoke:

"This was found in the hands of a woman who infiltrated my chambers intent on killing me. I have not seen its like before, though it does not look of human origin. Perhaps you can tell me something about that?"

"Killing you? But..."Kaede seemed genuinely surprised, but Van Vuygens quickly shushed him into silence and took the blade into his hands. After examining it for a while, he mumbled something to himself and finally adressed the Sector Lord:

"This is what we call a c'tan phase blade or fractal blade. It is a xeno artifact of unknown origin, its edge sharper than any lathe-made blade, capable of slicing through anything easily. Not even force-fields are a defense against it. It is quite, quite rare. And no doubt quite expensive. Whoever tried to kill you, my lord, must have a great deal of hatred for you. And a great deal of money."

Or a great repository of Xeno Artifacts, such as yourself, Van Vuygens, thought Marius, though he did not speak it out aloud. I see you neglect to mention the Callidus assassins routinely employed by the Ordos are all armed with this very artifact. It seems you take me for a fool yet again.

"You can tell me nothing of its origin? No trace of where it might have come from, how it was acquired?"

"Only smugglers carry such artifacts, my lord, often scavenged from ancient alien worlds on the fringes of the sector. You might know more if you sent an agent down to the Black Market in Gunmetal City."

Ah, a destination? Is this an offer of help, or yet another test? How kind of him to mention this very black market, since there are countless others in Scintilla.

"Very good. I shall start my enquiries. I believe we have nothing else to discuss. You may leave."

The dismissal was somewhat abrupt and rude, uncalled for; but something was nagging at Marius thoughts, some kind of...urge, or an intrusive conscience. He was having trouble concentrating.

"Very well, Lord Hax. We shall take no more of your time. I trust you have started an investigation into who this assassin was. Perhaps we shall start one of our own." Said Inquisitor Kaede, rising from his seat.

"Indeed...Indeed, yes. Of course. Before you go, however, might I ask your esteemed colleague Van Vuygens to supply me with one of his famed tomes on Xeno Artifacts? If we are to go into a wild goose chase among the black markets looking for xeno smugglers, it would prove useful."

"It...would?" Van Vuygens sounded doubtful, his attention entirely focused on the Ring that the Lord Sector wore. He was well-known not to wear any jewelry or aristocratic finery, and this ring seemed familiar to Van Vuygens, somehow...Coming back from his reverie, he thought about the Sector Lord's request: His tomes were strictly confidential, and were a scholarly work, not a catalogue. He looked at the other two inquisitors for support: Kaede shrugged, Ahmazzi looked thoughtful, but eventually nodded.

"Very well. I shall have one sent to your quarters directly. Farewell, my lord."

Marius Hax went back to his room feeling very ill, and almost tripped as he opened the door. He fell over heavily in his chair, and immediately took a dose of Amasec mixed with painkillers. He tried to calm down, going through his mind, reviewing what he knew: Someone had told the Inquisiton that he was in league with the Malfians. Someone had suggested he was a heretic. They had Vox Recordings of his alleged dealings with the Malfians. The Inquisitors claimed they knew nothing about his assassination attempt, yet they failed to mention the assassins they themselves employ use the samel blade that was used to try and assassinate him. Yes, he had learned something from the meeting. But the Inquisitors hadn't told him the whole truth. And now they would be more evasive than ever. Still, it was the choice he made, and it payed off in its own way. The only good is knowledge, he told himself again and again as he felt the fever creeping up on him. On a whim, he looked at the ring on his finger. Before his own eyes, it was slowly sinking into his flesh, disappearing, becoming part of his body as if it had never been there. There was no blood spilled, no open wound. The device merely faded, going deeper inside his skin, and finally vanishing. He could still feel it, though, attached to his finger bone, buried under his skin. What witchcraft was this? He needed to talk to the creature once more, to his mysterious helper! What had he done to him?

But before he could do anything, he fell asleep and had strange and terrible dreams. Rolling alien vistas, cities buried deep beneath the ocean whose architecture was utterly alien, their angles all wrong, the walls touching and connecting where they couldn't possibly do it. It was as if their geometry followed different laws. Some walls looked taller from one side, and smaller if you looked at the from the other. The alien spires that emerged from the bottom of the ocean seemed to be founded on nothing yet they stood tall and unwavering beneath the still sea that Hax swam through. Something called to him from beneath this nightmare city. He woke up sweating, and noticed the Xeno Tome he had requested from Van Vuygens lying next to his bedstand. No time for that now.

He needed to talk to his mysterious helper. He needed to. But Lord Goreman was due to deliver his report in less than an hour, he had overslept, he had duties to attend...His mind felt fuzzy, disconnected. He had to decide if he should follow the only lead they had regarding his would-be assassin: the black markets of Scintilla. He needed to tell Goreman what he should do. But he was...he was...It did not matter. He would attend to his duties. After pouring himself several large doses of Lucid Water, he regained his composture, at least for the time being. He headed out to the conference room, to hear the news of Goreman's investigation and tell him what to do next.

Do you tell Goreman to focus on the Black Market in Gunmetal City, as suggested by the Inquisitor?


Do you tell Goreman to focus on whichever Black Market he thinks is more likely to yield results? Goreman is a skilled Arbites and should know these things.




Pythagorean thought for the day: Virtue is harmony. There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.

"Goreman. Any progress?"

"None, my lord. Not a whisper saying anything about what happened. Frankly, I think we might have scared them off by sending out agents. Whoever did this was obviously well-connected, and could have known we were investigating the minute we started. I'm not too sure we'll find anything more, at least not anytime soon."

"What a shame. Well, I'm sure another opportunity will present itself. I trust you are aware of my meeting with the Ordos yesterday?"

"Yes, m'lord."

"They suggested I start investigating the black markets here in Scintilla for something called a 'c'tan phase blade', the weapon the assassin was wearing. It is a xeno artifact and smugglers might know something about it."

"I'm sorry, m'lord? We found no weapon in your quarters. How did you know which weapon it was?"

Damn Goreman! Thinking like an Arbites. He couldn't tell him he had found another weapon of the same type in Lord Scheele's possession.

"I commited the weapon to memory and described it to the Inquisitors. One of them, Van Vuygens of the Ordo Xenos, recognized it and suggested this course of action."

"You are truly a formidable man if you can remember in such minute detail what weapon somebody used when they tried to kill you, Your Grace. A situation of great stress, and you didn't even flinch." Said Goreman in an odd voice "I shall send agents to the black markets, then. This should prove much easier. Smugglers are not all that smart, although sometimes they have powerful backing. Besides, I've been loking for a motive to break up the Amaranthine's Syndicate hold here in Scintilla for a long time. Excuse me, m'Lord."

Hax nodded, and watched as Goreman went out of the room and started giving orders through his comm-bead. He noticed the odd tone in Goreman's voice, and realized he was now walking on thin ice, spinning a web of intrigue around him to both his foes and his friends alike. There was nothing more repulsive to his intellect than needless intrigue: it eventually spiralled out of anybody's control, and became full-fledged chaos. This time, it could engulf the whole sector. All because of that damned creature. It was time to have a talk with...it. Hax returned to his chambers, poured himself yet another dose of Lucid Water, and started reading Van Vuygens' Codex on Xeno Artifacts. When he reached a chapter marked "The Halo Stars and its peculiarities" he locked his jaw. As he read on, he clenched his fists. As he read even more, he started to grow flushed and tremble with anger and despair. When he finally finished reading, he knew he was a cursed man. Damn the fates the day they saved him from death only to deliver him into the jaws of damnation. Hax looked at the Artificer Inferno Pistol he always kept in a secret compartment beneath his desk, and slowly, put its barrel against his forehead. He loaded one round, and gritted his teeth. It would be quick and clean.

But...It was not like Marius Hax to leave matters unfinished. He slowly lowered the Pistol, and decided that if he were to die, then he should at least take with him the architect of his damnation. He brought his ring finger close to his hand, and whispered "come and see".

The tall dark figure, still impeccably dressed, suddenly materialized in front of Marius.

"Yes, Your Grace?"

Marius slowly raised his arm, spread out his hand, and raised the finger that held the Ring that had cut deep into his skin.

"You have cursed me, daemon."

"Cursed, Your Grace? I have given you eternal life. Is that not what all humans want?"

"Eternal damnation! I am to become a monster! An alien entity with unnatural appetites! I will have to hide from all, lest they discover what I have become."

"Hiding is not hard for a Sector Lord, Your Grace. And you will find a fresh supply of bodies to sate your needs."

Marius Hax put the pistol against his forehead again, and said:

"No. I will not accept this fate. Cursed daemon, you will hold no sway over me!"

Before Hax could fire, the figure was upon him, striking a blow that sent the Inferno Pistol flying towards the other side of the room. Marius engaged the creature in meelee, exchanging punches and kicks, biting, gouging, he had crossed the event horizon of despair and was accelerating. He frantically tried to grab hold of anything in his reach to hurt the creature, while the White-Dressed Man merely smiled and deflected his blows, trying to keep him pinned down. Marius' searching hand found Lord Scheele's phase knife, and the blade found its mark. Lord Sector Calixis impaled the creature through the chest with the phase blade, and saw it sink to the ground, its smoked pince-nez being knocked off in the process, revealing a pair of black-on-black eyes, dotted with pinpoints of light, almost like the night sky over Scintilla.

To his horror, he saw the phase blade sinking even deeper into the creature's body, and eventually, being absorbed completely. There was no blood, no trace of a wound. The White-Dressed Man stood up again and said, in a mocking tone:

"Now that you have got that out of your sistem, perhaps we can get down to business? I can slow the process of your transformation, perhaps stop it entirely. Or I can leave you to become the monster you surely shall without my aid. All you need to do is agree to let yourself let me help you."

"What...are you?" Said Marius, his vision transfixed in the Man's chest, where a wound fatal to anything short of a god should be visible.

"I am the man who will make you Emperor" Answered the Deceiver, dusting off his smoked pince-nez and putting them on again.

do you...

Accept the Deceiver's offer? You have no choice. If you deny him, the Halo Device will eventually consume you, turn you into an abomination. You will be hunted down and destroyed, and the Inquisition will be at the forefront of your anihilation. And the Imperium needs a strong hand, now more than ever. Emperor Hax. Yes. That sounds right.


Do you deny it? Let yourself be damned. You have never accepted a master. If you must die so that the Imperium can live...So be it. When the transformation becomes too much to bear, you will make sure to end your own life. You cannot hope to become Emperor; you are no God, you are a mere mortal. It would be a madman's folly. Focus on what you are, on what you know. And when the time comes, accept your death, as so many others have before you.



Imperial thought for the day: Submit to His will

"Emperor?" The Lord Calixis laughed out loud, perhaps for the first time in his life. "I am already Emperor, daemon. No other part of the Imperium works besides my Sector. I rule it. It is mine. What use would I have for the Throne of Terra? Everything runs according to my designs here. If the Imperium ever recovers, the Calixis sector shall continue to prosper. If the Imperium never recovers, it will do so likewise. I do not need a crown to rule."

"You are being shortsighted and foolish, Your Grace. There are forces at work here that beyond your understanding and beyond your control. Are you aware that as we speak a Chaos Legion roams your sector looking for the key to unlocking the secret of the Tyrant Star? Are you aware that many of the Inquisitors in the Holy Ordos are actively helping them achieve their goal, out of a misguided lust for knowledge? Are you aware that some of your closest friends and advisors have been bought by either the Aristocracy that opposes you or the Inquistion, and they all conspire to overthrow your rule? Of that I am sure you are aware. What you are not aware, however, is that they intend to use the uprising at Sepheris Secundus to launch a direct attack at Scintilla. Do you really think simply re-assigning the Malfian Guardsmen to your formal command will stop them from treachery? Do you know the secret of the tyrantborn?"

"I can deal with all of this, creature. I have done so for centuries. Your promises fall on deaf ears."

"I have made no promises. Do you know what will happen if Eliphas finds what he is looking for? His ally Ahriman will awaken something inside Cadia that will carve a bloody swathe through the galaxy, all the way to Terra itself, and they will crown Magnus the Red as the new God-Emperor, as per the Emperor's last wishes before Magnus turned to Chaos. Do you think your sector will be protected from this if Tzeentch's Primarch sits upon the Golden Throne? You have no grasp of the events that will unfold, Lord Hax. The entirety of the Imperium will fall to Chaos, and there will be no longer a difference between the materium and the immaterium. If Magnus ever sits atop the Golden Throne, its mechanisms will allow him to launch a psychic shockwave so powerful that will allow the Ruinous Powers to manifest on our world. Tens of Millions will fall to Chaos in the first seconds. In the first week, there will be no-one left to remember the Imperial Creed. The Webway will be overrun by the warp, and the eldar shall be consumed by the Great Enemy. There will be no one left but you and your pride."

"My pride? Why are you telling me this, creature? What do you stand to gain from all of this? Are you not a daemon, in league with the ruinous powers?"

The Deceiver laughed softly, and poured himself a dose of Amasec from Marius' private cabinet.

"Me? A Daemon? Far from it, Your Grace. I was born with the universe, and I have remained with it ever since. I have many names. Jackal God, Deceiver, Cegorach, Laughing God of the Eldar, Nighthowler, Black Prince, Crawling Chaos."

"God of the Eldar?"

"Oh, yes. I save them from Slaanesh, sometimes. I find it fitting, after all, since they themselves created it. I am a C'tan, a Star God that feeds upon stars and souls. I tricked the Necrontyr into giving up their bodies and enter carcasses of living metal, and they have been my obedient slaves ever since, the Necrons of legend. I tricked my fellow brothers into devouring each other, for if they had their way, the whole of the galaxy would be consumed. I have no love for the warp. That is why I am telling you all of this. "

"So I am to choose between the Ruinous Powers and a being that seeks only to harvest us as if we were wheat?"

"A few souls here and there, Marius. Hardly a high price to pay. And unlike my remaining brothers, I have no intention of erasing all of existence. I rather enjoy it, see? This glass of Amasec, for instance. Is it not worth living another day to enjoy some more? And what beautiful woman you have! And power...Power over people. Yes, i'm afraid to admit that is somewhat more addictive to me than the souls my brothers so desperately crave."

"You are nothing more than a monster with the aspirations of a tyrant. I am aware of the stories about you, Deceiver. You impersonate others to further your goals, a master of trickery and manipulation. If you are so intent on stopping this Eliphas creature from awakening whatever it is that lies on Cadia, why not simply kill me and take my place? I understand you would need someone with great political power to further your goals, but why the masquerade?"

"I have no power over Eliphas or Ahriman while they bear the Mark of Tzeentch. But you have, Marius. The Halo Device accepts no master but itself. Chaos cannot corrupt you, nor will a psyker ever read your thoughts. That is why I gave it to you. Tzeentch cannot touch you. Only the long dead who forged these unholy artifacts hold any sway over you now. Why, even I myself cannot control you; i can merely try and convince you."

"You would have me hunt down this traitor and kill him? Are you an idiot? I am an old man, and he is a hulking mutant warped by Chaos. Even if Tzeentch cannot touch me, a sword through the stomach will."

"No. Of course you will not hunt him. That is not the point. But whenever you get close to him, whenever you find enough information to locate and stop him, Chaos will whisper to you It will distort you vision, your understanding of events. If you get too close to accomplishing our goal, Chaos will surely corrupt you, regardless of how strong-willed you are. With this ring, you are free from the taint."

"And yet I receive another taint in return. This is a game between you two, is it not? Between the Changer of Ways and his material counterpart. Like chess, you make us all your pawns."

"In a game of gods you either win or die, Lord Calixis. But there is always a choice, and the freedom to face the consequences. Will you help me stop Eliphas the Inheritor and his traitor legions from awakening that which is imprisoned inside Cadia, the son of the Tyrant Star?"

"What If I say no?"

The Deceiver shrugged. "Then I shall devise another plan. You will not last much more before the Halo Device consumes you without my help. Perhaps you can still do some good for your Sector before Magnus the Red sits upon the golden throne and demands your head as an ornament. Or perhaps you can even prevent the Malfians and the Inquisitors from killing one another in an open war before you turn into a cannibalistic beast that dreams of dark cities beneath starless skies. Who knows what you might accomplish? All I know is that if you refuse my help, the Imperium will surely fall. You must compromise."

Marius Hax gazed upon the Deceiver's face, this creature which had been alive for Emperor knows how many milennia, how many disasters he has caused? And how many will he cause still, if I help him? And if I do not, is he telling the truth? Will there be no more Imperium? I am powerless between two gods. Must one of them truly win? Or, another intrusive thought told Marius inside his head, a kind of thought he had now learned to recognize as belonging to whatever unnatural consciousness inhabited the Halo Device: Perhaps none of them need to win. Perhaps I can make them both lose. I am, after all, more than human.

Marius Hax opened his mouth, and answered:

"A compromise. We shall help each other."


"No. Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon."



Imperial thought for the day: In the blazing furnace of battle we shall forge anew the iron will of yet a stronger race.

"Very well. A compromise. We shall help one another."

"It is good to see you have come to your senses, Your Grace."

"It is hard not to when you present me with such facts, regardless of your motivations. The Imperium must survive, must it not? It seems that the enemy of my enemy is you. Not ideal, perhaps. But then again, what is?"

"Indeed, Your Grace. You speak most eloquently."

"Do I? It must sound trite to you, considering your nature."

"Oh, no, Your Grace. Your words are imbued with a clarity rarely seen in your kind."

Marius Hax laughed, and opened a hidden drawer in his desk, apparently typing a code of some sort, taking out a bottle containing a crimson-red liquid that sloshed gently from side to side, and said with an amused smile:

"Truly you are worthy of your name, speaking such a bald-faced lie like that without even flinching. A toast, then? To our impeding victory over the ruinous powers?"

"Why not? I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Marius."

Marius smiled brightly, pouring the Deceiver a dose from the bottle he had taken out from his desk, as well as another one for himself. They both drank, and immediately afterwards, the Jackal God started coughing and spluttering, down on his knees and gasping for breath.

"Now, there was a rather interesting entry about you on the Xenos Tome my learned friends from the Ordos lent me, Deceiver. It said you and your kind are unable to perceive the warp. You see, you have just drank a glass of it. A Heretek cult managed to distillate the raw essence of Chaos into a liquid, thinking it would speed up the processes of mutation and possession. Sadly for them, it proved to be quite, quite fatal. This" Hax tapped the side of the bottle with his fingers" Is the only remaining exemplar of this heresy in the Sector. I managed to get it before the Inquisition did, and I thought it could prove useful one day. Leverage, you might say. All the Inquisitors suspect me of being a drunkard; what would they care about another bottle, eh?"

The Deceiver's shape was now indistinct, its edges blurred, clearly revealing the living metal skin that lay beneath his facade. He was on the ground, wheezing and moaning.

"The Xenos Codex also mentioned that you Star Gods are especially vulnerable to the warp, and that is why you fear it so. Now, of course, this glass would have been lethal for me had it not been your generosity in giving me a Halo Device" Said the Lord Calixis, in an iron tone.

Marius Hax got up from his chair, and knelt beside the twitching figure that lay on the floor. He bent down his head close to the creature's...head, for lack of a better word, and whispered in a low, emotionless voice:

"You have deceived me once, and you have doomed me. You will not do it twice. I will work with you because I must, but I am no friend of you, abomination, and if I could, I would see you slain where you lie. Do you feel it? The sensation of losing control? Of vulnerability? I wonder, with the warp inside you, can you hear its whispers? Are you afraid, star god? If you ever try to play me for a fool again with another one of your 'gifts', I swear, I will care not for the fate of the Imperium. I will carry Magnus to the Golden Throne myself if that's what it takes to see you burn. Now get out of my sight. Report back to me when you have concrete intelligence on the whereabouts of Eliphas."

The Deceiver got up slowly, his form more or less stabilized, his face waxen and contorted in a grimace of pain. He looked at the Lord Calixis, spread out his right arm...And saluted him, with a mocking smile. Then he de-materialized.

Afterwards, Marius went to his bathroom sink and vomited blood. He lost consciousness soon afterwards, and was found by Commissar Cain crumpled on the ground in the middle of his room, his robes a raggedy mess. Cain woke up him up, and got him to his feet.

"You know Marius, you really need to stop with this Lucid Water. A body can only take so much. There are even specks of blood on you. How much are you taking, Marius? I know these last few days have not been easy, but you have never been a man to abuse yourself so. That was usually left to me."

"I...I was frustrated, I suppose. Everything...This damn mess..." Marius tried to croak out a coherent explanation, without much success. But Cain seemed sympathetic:

"Yes, I suppose...With things as they are, it is understandable. Still, you are the Lord Calixis. It does not do for a man such as you to let your vices get the best of you. Now, compose yourself, there is business to attend to. Philus will be coming in shortly. Developments have been...interesting."

Cain helped Lord Hax to his dressing room, and left. After a while, Marius sat at his office desk once again, remebering what had happened. He was sure he would die after drinking the Warp Distillate; he could hear the whispers, he could feel the probing of clawed hands, gnawing at his soul, trying to take him away, trying to devour him whole. But something held them back. Something told him it would be all right. The whispers in the darkness could not drag him away because his alien passenger was with him...inside him...was him. He now felt stronger, his mind sharper, even his body felt younger. He felt wonderful. Until he started reading the pile of documents that Philus had brought to him.

Things have progressed worringly while you dilly-dallied with a deity. The Sepheris Secundus uprising has evolved into a full scale rebellion, with the oppressed minorities demanding more rights, the Tyrantborn mutants at the lead. The Queen, though solidly secure with her PDF, cannot hope to crush this rebellion without the help of the Imperial Guard. It has spread too fast, too far, and has become a planetwide frenzy. The Malfian Imperial Guard regiments, as per your requests, have been stationed within quick-warp distance from Sepheris Secundus, and merely await your order to counterattack. However, given what the Deceiver said about their alleged plan of using this rebellion as a staging ground for an invasion on Scintilla, it might be wise to consider your next move. It might also be wise to consider if you truly wish to support the Queen in this matter: The aristocracy of Sepheris Secundus have become weak and accomodated, and perhaps the Tyrantborn might prove a more valuable ally. That would, of course, upset the status quo in the sector. And anger a great deal of noble-borns.

In Iocanthos, the Sector's sole producer of Ghostfire Pollen, an essential ingredient to the combat stimulant that all Imperial Guardsmen use, the ongoing state of war has come to a head when another Tyrantborn Mutant suddenly found himself the leader of the largest army on the planet. After seizing control of all spaceports, he has ceased all shipments of Ghostfire Pollen and has declared that he will not resume them until all Tyrantborn are recognized as full-fledged citizens of the Imperium. This is somewhat of a strange request, since Imperium Citizenship is hardly that clear-cut in the first place, but it seems that the Tyrantborn feel especially discriminated against (which they are), and with so many of them now being essential to the Sector's continued functioning, they feel it is now time to demand their rights by force of arms. Higher-ranking Tyrantborn Navigators and Astropaths are worried about this: They fear the backlash that might come from some peasant's rebellion. After all, they are accepted and needed mutants, but if the Tyrantborns throughout the sector prove to be too much of a hassle, this might change. Although the incidents at Iocanthos and Sepheris Secundus are apparently completely separate, one cannot help but wonder if there is some underlying pattern behind this.

Lastly, there is the matter of the Phaenonites: An excommunicated branch of the Inquisition that dabbles in warp-tek and all manner of heresy, they had been thought to been wiped out by a combined effort of Mechanicus and Inquisitors many centuries ago. But now they have re-surfaced, and launched an attack against the Lathes; a trio of forge-worlds in the malfian sub-sector, and the finest Manufactoria in the sector. What they seek is unknown, but after an infiltration attempt was discovered by the Mechanicus, the Phanenonites, in a highly unusual move, launched a full scale attack against the Lathes. No-one knows where they acquired so many able-bodied men and what their intent was, but this is deeply disturbing for both you, the Inquisition, and the Mechanicus. The attack was repelled, although the Lathes reported heavy damage to one of their Manufactoria. The phaenonites were apparently using some sort of warp-imbued servitors as a strike-force, and they proved to be might and fearsome warriors. This is tantamount to a Chaos incursion, and is of utmost concern. It is strongly suspected that the phaenonites have the backing of one or more of the Ordos Radical branches, and this disruptive pattern would indicate the Istvaanians and their mad schemes. However, as you know, jumping to conclusions can be quite dangerous. Not surprisingly, Marius said to himself, the person who discovered the phaenonites' infiltration attempt was a Tyrantborn, an Astropath in the Lathes.

The Tyrant Star rears its head once again, though it is difficult to know if the Tyrantborn are in league with it or merely an unfortunate sympton of its existence. All of this information has not been widely divulged, but it will be soon. And the Noble Houses, the Corporations and planetary governors will demand answers, will demand action. You must think carefully on what you plan to do next, lest you destroy the already fragile balance of power in the Calixis Sector.


yup folks, it's one of those again! another open choice: you have to determine what course you're going to take regarding all these incidents while you wait for the Deceiver and Goreman to bring you more information about Eliphas and your assassination attempt. Since the choices are pretty much incountable, it will be like that thing that root was talking about in Act 1. Decide upon a course of action, debate, reach a consensus, and i'll update. You have tons of things to deal with, so an open choice is, I think, best in this case. However, since it's a lot larger in scope than the choice in act 1, it might (probably will) go horribly wrong. If a consensus seems to be unreachable or if you just think this is all too much (go back to playing your xbawks!), i'll try and reduce these three matters into just another series of choices. These will severely simplify the situation, however.



Imperial thought for the day: Accept your lot!

Orders were sent. The tyrantborn were to be dealt with diplomatically in Iocanthos, and uncertainly in Sepheris Secundus. A chance to replace the Queen with someone whom Hax could trust was good, although the repercussions of giving (or offering concessions) to mutants would surely net him a large amount of infamy among all the major players in the sector as soon as Lord Calixis' actions came to light. However, that would have to wait. Warp travel from Scintilla to both Iocanthos and Sepheris Secundus would take at least a week, and the agents sent to the Lathes at least double that time. For the time being, the Lord Calixis would simply have to deal with the troubles at home. Namely, who exactly was behind his assassination attempt.

Lord Marshall Goreman took about two days to conduct a full investigation into Scintilla's most notorious black markets, using almost all of his arbites. And he came up mostly empty-handed, apart from one scrap of information: If anyone could smuggle in a phase blade, that person would be in Gunmetal City. Hax, already imagining the outcome of this conversation, asked him why he had not sent agents to Gunmetal City. Goreman looked uneasy, but eventually answered that it was fairly common knowledge that the black market there was ran by a former Ordo Xenos Inquisitor turned smuggler. He feared he would overstep his authority if he went after an Inquisitor since, in the murky waters of Imperial Law, even rogue Inquisitors are subject only to the judgement of their former peers. The Inquisition had indeed provided Hax with valuable information, while at the same time hoping he would do their dirty work for them. Take out a rogue inquisitor. How typical. What was somewhat worrying, however, was that the Inquistion had not already acted on its own to dispose of this man. Lord Hax asked Goreman why was this, and Goreman merely answered that this smuggler had deep ties with the Amaranthine Syndicate, a criminal corporation that even Inquisitors hesitated to go up against. The Syndicate was somewhat disruptive of Law in Scintilla, but to Hax, finding out his would-be assassin was more important than merely rounding up mafiosi. However, it could prove to be tricky to uncover the smuggler's whereabouts without first putting pressure on the Syndicate. And by doing this, gaining its enmity. A peculiar choice, as the Lord Calixis rarely involved himself in such lowly matters. But if someone wanted him dead, it was not a question of personal safety; it was a question of maintaining political integrity throughout the sector.

Hax considered this as he drank a glass of Lucid Water at his office. He felt somewhat woozy after drinking it, and uncommonly, decided to have a short nap. Once again, strange dreams of alien landscapes buried deep beneath the ocean assaulted him, and a whirlwind of voices he could not understand surrounded him, pleading with him, cajoling him, begging him. When he woke up, he felt a strange urge well up inside him. An urge for human flesh. The craving of the halo device. He could easily walk out unnoticed from his office and satisfy it, the halo device spoke to him. Hax was disgusted...But the hunger he felt was strong, it pulled him, drove him even from his seat and out onto the crowded streets of the Hiveworld.

Regarding the Inquisitor-turned-smuggler:

Do you pursue him directly, giving little attention to the amaranthine syndicate? He will prove more elusive if he has the support of the Syndicate, but going against them might prove to be more trouble than it's worth.


Do you first put pressure on the Syndicate by any means available, cut off the smuggler from his allies, and then strike at him when he's cornered? It's sensible, but it will mean gaining the attention of yet another powerful faction in Calixis.

Regarding the Halo Device:

Do you give in to the urge, and devour someone?


Do you deny the urge?

The 'feeding' mechanic from the halo device will work much like the spirit-eater in motb: you'll always be presented with this choice at every update, and you'll have to decide wether to give in or suppres it. However, unlike motb, suppressing it will make your body weaker until such a time where the device will consume Hax entirely and will send him straight to the tertiary stage of the transformation, his identity completely destroyed in the process. However, as long as he denies the urges, Hax will maintain his identity strong and his body relatively unchanged by the device. On the other hand, giving in to the urge will make Hax stronger in body and mind, even unlocking strange and blasphemous powers, the price being that whenever Hax decides to feed, the device will become more dominant in his mind and more pronounced in his body, and if it becomes too dominant, Hax might well be unable to go against its will even if he wants to, and people might notice that Hax has become...different. You must keep a balance between oblivion and enslavement; the only tips you'll get regarding how close you are to either edge will be in my description of Hax's current state. I won't include a meter or something. Please not that either giving in to the urge entirely or suppressing it entirely will make you lose control over Hax. So you have to be careful about this. There are benefits for both feeding and not feeding; the most obvious ones being that if Hax does not feed, he remains Hax and the signs of his 'taint' will be less noticeable to any observer. If he does feed, he acquires part of the Halo Device's immense power. There are also the downsides I already mentioned. It's up to you to decide which way you want to go with this.



Imperial thought for the day: While the enemies of the Emperor still draw breath, there can be no peace.

Marius Hax took a deep breath beneath the starlight sky of Scintilla and reigned in his hunger. The chilly wind felt colder, the colours of the Hive bleaker, the people who went by seemed faceless and endless. He felt a slight twinge in his chest, but no more than that. He went back inside the Lucid Palace, and gave orders to pursue the Inquisitor directly, avoiding, if possible, the attention of the Syndicate itself. Though he knew Goreman would disapprove, and he had doubts about the efficiency of pursuing a prey not separated from the flock, he was loathe to antagonize yet another powerful faction in Calixis without a truly solid reason. If it was not broke, it did not need fixing. After a few glasses of Amasec, he fell asleep.

The dreams came again, this time much stronger, much more vivid in his mind. He felt the dank oppressiveness of the water above him, pushing him down, and the nameless, faceless mass of voices that inhabited the Alien city trying to drag him inside one of the cyclopean structures that dotted the seascape. Marius could not breathe, though he could not suffocate either. It was as if he was already but with all senses intact, thrown into a whirlwind of forces he had no control over. The voices still spoke in the language Marius did not recognize, and it seemed to him that now they were even more alien than before: In the other dream, he could at least sense an intent, a tone, an inflection. Now it sounded like gibberish to him, no harmony, no rhytmn. Just a continuous pulse of sound.

When he woke up, he felt weak. He climbed from his bed limply, and almost hit his head on the bedstand when trying to reach for a glass of water. When he regained his balance, he went to look into the mirror. He was sweating and pale, his eyes bloodshot, his hands trembling. The thing inside him craved, and he had denied it. So it punished him. Or was it punishment? Maybe the thing couldn't live without nourishment. Maybe the thing was feeding on him. What a ghastly thought, Marius considered, as he dressed himself for his meeting with the Lord Arbites. Will this parasite consume me whole if I deny him? The Deceiver would answer for this nightmarish gift, someday. If Lord Hax survived, he would make sure of that. He was not a man bent on revenge, and his stunt with the Warp Distillate was simply a display of power, bravado. He had no intention of pursuing the creature to the ends of the universe. But as the device's pull on him grew, so did his hatred towards the Star God. Had he been naive in accepting the entity's assistance? The ring seemed harmless enough, and he could barely remember why he had put it on in the first place. There was a flash of green in the dark, a blade upon him, a woman's face...And the white-dressed man. But...there was something else, wasn't there? The ring was already there, long before the assassination attempt. It was a present from someone, he received it the very night he became Lord Calixis. And promptly forgot about it. That's why he slipped it on his finger unthingkly. It was his ring. The Deceiver swapped it for a Halo Device, but...how could he know? How long had the creature been watching him, waiting for this moment? Had the ring always been a Halo Device, waiting for him? He was known not wear jewelry of any kind.

His thoughts were fuzzy, and it was difficult to trudge through them and reach a conclusion. His body was very weak, and it took him all his willpower to maintain his austere stance when he finally faced Lord Goreman in his private audience chambers. Lord Goreman had a downcast look, and although he hid it well, Marius could see clearly that the man was furious. He had not always been a nobleman, Lord Marshall of the Adeptus Arbites. He had to learn etiquette from books rather than from the cradle, and sometimes he did not even bother with it. Hax suspected this would be one of those times.

"Good morning, Lord Marshall. I trust all is well?"

Lord Goreman wore a blank expression.

"Sir. Yes, sir."

"Good, good. Why don't you sit down? You seem tired, no doubt from a night of hard work."

"I'd rather remain standing if it's all the same to you, sir."

"Very well, Lord Marshall. What of our investigation? Did you manage to aprehend the criminal?"

"What criminal do you mean, sir? The Inquisitor or all the other Amaranthine thugs that were helping the bastard, sir?"

"Lord Marshall, surely you know I mean the smuggler. I saw no reason to antagonize the Syndicate at this time."

"Sir. Not my place to question your orders sir, but if I may speak freely?"


Goreman leaned down on Hax's desk with both hands clenched and spoke in a low voice:

"You might not want to antagonize them now, sir, but you will have to sooner or later. They have deep pockets and they're everywhere, sir, god knows how many cults and heresies those bastards foster in their den, how many people are connected? There's even talk there's xenos behind them, and with their kind of influence, I wouldn't be surprised if that turned out to be true. Crime, especially smuggling and murder-for-hire, have been on the rise in the sector exponentially since they showed their faces, Sir, and I"

Hax waved him into silence.

"Crime does not concern me, Lord Goreman. That is what the Arbites are for, and I trust they shall do their duty. The Amaranthine Syndicate may be a powerful criminal organization, but it is just that: A criminal organization. It does not threaten stability in the sector, and I intend to keep it that way. If you are so concerned about their activies, you have my blessings to train as many more Arbites as you like to keep this Syndicate in check, but I see no reason to disturb them if they have not disturbed me."

"Disturbed you, sir? Isn't this your world, your people? The things those bastards do..."

"Lord Goreman, this is my Sector. I have greater concerns than the safety of the Hive-dwellers, to you understand? Now, tell me about the Inquisitor."

Goreman emitted a barely audible grunt, and leaned back from Hax's desk.

"He got away, Sir. The Syndicate warned him we were on the move, and I suspect we have a leak or many inside the Arbites. He managed to slip away on an off-world ship."

Hax sighed.

"I trust you at least know the name and destination of this ship, Lord Marshall?"

"Yes, sir. It's the Platinum Ship, bound for Dusk. Should arrive by the end of the week. No way to intercept it while it's in the Warp."

"By the end of the week? That is when I expect to receive the feedback from my actions in Sepheris Secundus and the other planets. I had hoped to have this matter solved by then."

"Not possible, Sir. Best I can do is get a faster ship and make planetfall on Dusk before the smuggler does. No way of knowing what'll happen when we get there, Sir. Dusk is barely inside Imperium legislation as it is, and I don't think they even have a city, only scattered dwellings. It's a big place, easy to hide, sir."

"It would be easier to hide in Scintilla if our prey has such powerful friends, Lord Marshall. If he's going to Dusk, I doubt he intends only to evade capture. We need to pursue him. Prepare the ship."

"Very well, sir. Who'll lead the investigative party?"

"I shall think on the matter and relay my orders to you, Lord Marshall. Do not let me detain you any further."

Hax went back to his private chambers, and asked his secretary to request the attendance of Commisar Cain. When his friend entered his room, he was already on his second bottle of Lucid Water, and his eyes feverishly darted across the room, until they focused on the image of Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium, dusting off his drill-abbot robe and taking a seat at his desk.

"You called, Marius? How did the meeting go with Goreman?"

"The smuggler escaped on a ship bound for Dusk. I need to send someone after him. I do not believe he merely intends to hide over there."

"True. You can't get a glass of Amasec worth a damn there, and the natives are all warp-touched, if you ask me. Better places to reap the rewards from a life of crime. Damn good place to hide, however. You would be hard pressed to find anything on that wretched rock, let alone a single person. There's this mist...And they say an old hag lives in the swamps, a witch. They say she's older than the Emperor himself" Cain shuddered "Peasant folklore, no doubt. What do you think he's after?"

"I do not know. Do you think you can find out?"

"Me? Go to Dusk? I'm not exactly an investigator, Marius...Or an adventurer, for that matter."

"True. But you know how to improvise. And you survived your adventures, even if you spent most of the time running away from them. And I can trust you. We don't know what we'll find there, and I'm not sure Goreman has the right kind of mind to deal with the uncertain."

"Eh...Well, I suppose I have good news for you, then. You remember Kaede? The short-tempered Inquisitor with the sword and the hat? He says he's willing to work with you on tracking down this smuggler, says he has a personal score to settle or somesuch, even if that doesn't bode well with the rest of the Ordos. Says they should have never asked you to track him down in the first place. Was quite excited about it. You can always send him. I'm sure he'd gladly oblige."

"Interesting. But I trust that, if I decide to send you, you will oblige too?"

"I will...My Lord. Just not gladly."

Marius nodded, and Cain left the room. While meditating on who to send after the rogue inquisitor, Hax found himself constantly opening and shutting the secret drawer in which he kept the bottle of warp distillate. He had been doing that for quite a while now, unconsciously, but now that he'd stopped to pay attention, he could once again hear the voice of the device inside his head, asking him to be fed.

Give us that bottle of souls. It tasted so sweet the first time. Give it to us once again. We will learn much from it. We will grow stronger. We can teach you. Let us drink the water of souls. We will make you stronger. We will teach you. Give it to us. Drink it. Share it with us. We thirst.

On who to send to Dusk:

Do you send Lord Marshall Goreman?


Do you send Commissar Cain?


Do you send Witch-hunter Vownus Kaede?


Do you drink from the warp distillate and feed the halo device?


Do you not?



Imperial thought for the day: It tolls for mankind.

Marius uncorked the bottle and took a long sip. He felt nothing. The consciousness inside the device asked for more. He took another. He still felt nothing. He took another...And felt something. The world crystallized around him in a grayish color as he experienced complete and utter dread. The device took control over his body, and drank the bottle until it was empty. And then it screamed. Even this ancient device was no match for the full, raw power of the warp. Crimson energy coursed through Hax's body as the warp took control of him. He could feel the halo device fighting it, but it was not strong enough. Not nearly strong enough. Marius' mouth uttered an incantation, his hands tracing arcane symbols through the air. When the device finally manage to repel the psychic assault, the spell had already been cast. Marius regained control of his own body only to find himself face-to-face with a daemon, an amorphous mass of pink flesh with a cackling face in its centre.

"Well good heavens just look at the time!" Screeched the daemon.

"What?" Marius was perplexed.

"Time for a private audience with the Lord Calixis himself! My, what an honor! How can I help you, Your Grace? We never thought you'd fall to Chaos, you're such a hard, hard man! I'm glad to be proven wrong! What dark deeds need doing? Want somebody out of the way? Say no more, say no more!" The creature spoke fast, in a cheerful tone, and its demeanour was not at all threatening.

"What? What are you babbling about, daemon? I have not fallen to the warp!" Marius drew his Inferno Pistol "And you'll be back there in short order!"

"What? Wait! Hold your bolters, Your Grace. Why did you summon me, then? Playing a practical joke on a poor daemon?"

"I did not summon you. It was merely a momentary lapse in concentration." Marius took aim with his Inferno Pistol "It will not happen again."

The daemon immediately leapt upon Marius and engaged him in meelee. The thing had a massive bulk, but little coordination. It just screeched and clawed at Marius, while he tried to disengage and get a clear shot. He considered summoning help, but explaining away a Daemon in his chambers would be beyond even his legendary oratory. He would have to deal with this horror on his own.

No. He is mine.

The consciousness within the device lashed out and devoured the daemon whole, its warp-substance entirely consumed. There was nothing left, and apart from a few overturned books and baubles, it was as if nothing happened. The door burst open, and Telthorn Biggus, the Space Marine Librarian stationed at the Lucid Palace rushed in with his weapons drawn.

"Are you all right, Lord Hax?! We all felt a powerful psychic shockwave!" He paused and looked around the room "A fight took place in here! At the heart of the Lucid Palace! Damnation! What happened, Your Grace?"

Do you try to explain?


Do you devour the Librarian's soul?

The halo device is now able to feed upon the souls of other creatures instead of their flesh and blood. You can choose to use this to satiate the device's hunger instead of normal feeding. It will cause less mutations in Hax's body with the price of increasing his psychic presence exponentially, making him more noticeable to any psyker or warp entity in the area. It might also arouse their suspicion, since Hax was never known to be a psyker. Devouring souls might also net you additional knowledge depending on the victim.



Imperial thought for the day: Call no man happy until he is dead

Let us devour him.


You won't be able to explain away all of this. Kill him. No questions.

Yes? And how would I explain away the death of my Librarian? Can't you affect his mind?

No. But he can feel your psychic presence. The warp residue. No bluffing

We shall see.

"Telthorn! I...what are you doing here?" Hax suddenly remembered that the Librarian's quarters in the Lucid Palace were at least a thirty-minute walk from his own private chambers. "I don't remember asking for you. You seem to have gotten here quite fast."

The Librarian was somewhat flustered "Well...No, I...Matter of fact, I was bringing you the autopsy results from the Malfian assassin, and..."

"And you did not think to warn me of this fact? I'm sure you know I am a busy man, Telthorn. You could have just as easily left the results with Philus."

"Oh...No, no, I couldn't, Your Grace, I don't think anyone else should see them. But that's beside the point now, isn't it? What happened here?"

Marius sighed, and waved for the Librarian to take a seat. He carefully closed the doors behind him, and opened his drinks cabinet.

"A glass of Lucid Water, Telthorn?"

"Certainly. There is none finer, they say."

"Indeed they do. Now, I trust whatever passes between us will remain between us, yes?"

"Well...To be honest, Your Grace, it was not my intention of barging in unannounced. But a warp shockwave in the Lucid Palace, well, that gives me authority over even that lot of brownosers over at the Ordos, and, well...If you've commited some terrible heresy...Which I'm sure you haven't, of course, but..."

The Librarian fell silent under Hax's stony gaze.

"Of course, of course. I quite understand. It is your sworn duty to protect the Imperium of Man against its enemies, and i'm sure we wouldn't want to have it any other way. But in this particular matter I am afraid that, while some heresy might have been involved, it's rather more political than that. That is why I am asking for your confidentiality, you see."

Telthorn seemed somewhat relieved.

"I shall tell you of the events that transpired in this room shortly before you arrived. You are one of the few people aware that Lord Scheele, the malfian aristocrat to whom I granted an audience not long ago, tried to assassinate me shortly after."

"Indeed. And what a strange thing it was, Your Grace. He must have been quite mad, going against you alone! I thought the high-borns always had bodyguards and bootlickers around them, saving your presence, Your Grace. Shame he didn't know you're an accomplished swordsman, eh, Your Grace?"

Marius Hax smiled. Alone, yes. Lord Scheele had attacked me alone. After all, no other bodies could be found.

"Indeed, indeed. But i'm afraid that while he did commit this most unelegant assault alone, he was not, shall we say, acting of his own volition. The man seemed quite mad, possibly even possessed. He unleashed upon me a blast of psychic power which doubtless was tainted in its origin. And I'm afraid whatever dark force drove him to attack me that day has been at work here, again, today."

"What do you mean, my lord?"

"I'm...not entirely sure what happened, Telthorn. I was pouring myself a drink of Amasec, and when I opened the bottle, there was a huge flash of crimson light and the bottle dropped to the ground, its contents evaporated. Before me stood...a creature. A daemon, amorphous, with a cackling face and a cheerful tone. I do not know what it was. It said something about being time. I shot it with my Inferno Pistol."

The Librarian picked up the bottle that once held the warp distillate, and examined it critically.

"Yes, the warp residue is strong in this one. And I sense a little of it upon you too, no doubt as a consequence of the daemon's attack. This daemon you speak of is an Horror, a creature of the Changer of Ways, its lowliest servant. Even one or two Inferno Rounds should be enough to dispatch it, indeed. You think they hoped to catch you unawares?"

"No. I do not. They could not possibly believe this daemon would pose any threat to me if it is as weak as you say. I think they just used it as a warning, perhaps. Or a signal? I'm afraid I do not know much about the workings of the warp, but I do believe that once a barrier has been breached, it's easier to breach it a second time? Perhaps they are hoping for a second, more powerful incursion into my chambers?"

"Indeed. That may very well be it. We must relocate you to another chamber, and purge this one. It might even be wise to seal it with a void shield."

"That might be a problem, Telthorn. As I said, all of this is quite political. If any of my enemies got wind that a Malfian-backed daemonic incursion ocurred in my Palace, it would undermine my position considerably. And it might turn those few loyal Malfians against me, since we still do not know whom is to blame for this. In these dark times, I cannot have the luxury of appearing to be vulnerable. If I relocated to another chamber, and indeed, if you performed any kind of ritual upon this one, whispers would soon fly around the Palace, and they would turn into rumours. And these would leave the walls of the Lucid Palace, and who knows where they might land?"

"I understand your concern, Your Grace, but I would strongly advise against staying in this room. There's no telling what they might try next, if they have already breached your security once."

"Indeed, indeed. There is nothing you can do about this matter, Telthorn? Discreetly?"

"We could set up another surveillance grid, I suppose. A psychic one, we have some modified Auspex that could do that. And it might be wise to have some Adepta Sororitas perform a ritual of purification of the faith. They needn't know why, of course. It might be seen simply as a sign of your devotion, or indeed, a sign that you are willing to reach out your hand for those of the Ordos who still keep to the faith. But it's still a thin line you're walking on, Your Grace."

"Capital! We shall make a politician out of you still, Telthorn. Make it so."

The Librarian tittered dutifully, though doubt still echoed in his words as he spoke next.

"Yes, Your Grace. But before that, the autopsy results?"

"Ah, yes. You mentioned those. My secretary shouldn't see them. Why is that?"

"Well, Your Grace...Lord Scheele had the genestealer mutation. That explains his psychic power. And perhaps even his apparent madness."

The other one sends his children. He hunts the lying one. They all hunger for Komus.

"Genestealer? A...Tyranid? In Calixis?"

"Yes, Your Grace. And I'm afraid it gets worse. The Tyrant Star's black light has grown to encompass much of the Cadian Sector. It has cast its shadow in the warp. It seems another hive fleet is on its way."

Marius Hax sighed once again, this one deep and heartfelt. Between tyrantborn, xenos, heretics, rebels, scheming nobles and power-hungry Inquisitors...He was caught between them all.

"Thank you, Librarian. Please see to the arrangements we discussed earlier. And do not let me detain you any further."

"Yes, Your Grace."

Tomorrow the Lord Calixis would finally know what had happened regarding his efforts to stabilize the situation in Sepheris Secundus, Iocanthos and the Lathes. Tonight, there was nothing else he could do. Until he remembered the voice in his head. The other one? Who was that? They all hungered for Komus, the Tyrant Star? What more can you tell me, device?

No more until we feed again.

Do you feed on a soul?


Do you feed on flesh and blood?


Do you deny the device its wish?



Imperial thought for the day: The Dark Gods laugh at the foolishness of meek appeasers

Marius slept badly. The dreams came once again, though this time he was able to see the spirits that swam in the dark ocean of this forgotten world. He could not recall their shapes when he woke up. He remembered only their fading voice, their begging, their hunger. As he denied the device once again, so did the content of his dreams became blurred. He remembered something else slithering out of the ancient structures that lay under the sea, something he had never seen before yet his mind knew it as a brother. He woke up with a scream, perhaps for the first time in his life, for the sensation, nay, the certainty of being kin to the xeno was too much even for the Lord Calixis. Though physically he felt merely tired, in his mind something sinister stirred. The device hungered for flesh, blood and soul, and while he denied those things to it, the ancient and malignant entity within it would treat Marius as its enemy. Bit by bit, it would strip away his humanity and replace it with something else. When he went to wash his face, he noticed that his irises had been tinted a repulsive yellow of rotting flesh, his pupils almost invisible, tiny specks of black in his eyes. As he reached for contacts to hide this mutation, he noticed his hands had become more slender, his fingers longer and his nails had become opaque, almost the color of bone.

Only then did he realize the true extent of the curse the lying god had bestowed him; he would eventually lose either his body or his mind, and come the finish, he would lose both. At least the entity was silent within his mind. Marius sat down, picked up a blank dataslate, and began to write the events that had transpired ever since his meeting with the Deceiver. When he fell to his ilness, he would make sure Cain got ahold of his diary. People would need to know. Someday. After finishing his writing, he stored away the dataslate on his vox-encoded safe. He retrieved from the same safe another Inferno Pistol and a Lathe-forged blade equipped with a power field. After dressing, he headed to his office, where Philus awaited with news from throughout the sector.

First came Sepheris Secundus. His decision to not intervene immediately in what was seen as a planetwide rebellion was viewed with shock by most, since he was known to have a firm and deadly hand when it came to subversives. Marius merely sent one Scintillan regiment as a 'show of support', though this would have perhaps been enough to scare the rebels into a truce, they apparently did very little other than stand around. The queen and what could be loosely called the royal family felt insulted, and in turn unleashed their frustration upon the hapless tyrantborn. While their rebellion could hardly be called violent, the queen's reaction would enshrine the following times in Imperium history for years to come. She had not moved directly against the rebels because she could not afford it; many mines would be shutdown and her source of income would dry up, thus rendering her unable to pay the imperial tithe and gaining the enmity of the innumerable factions that depended upon Sepheris Secundus' exports to thrive. Considering Marius' meagre show of support as a vote of no confidence in her rule, she went on a power-mad rampage that would leave dozens of millions dead in just one week, and would shut down the Sepheris Secundus exports entirely. As fate would have it, most of those who died were not tyrantborn, but simple miners and diseased workers who wanted little more than a life expectancy that went beyond thirty. The few tyrantborn who leaded the rebellion were able to succesfully evade capture or death, and indeed, with help of covert agents sent by Marius, were able to strike a deal with the noble houses to overthrow the queen with support from the Scintillan regiment, and re-establish order in the planet. However, it would take months, if not years, for Sepheris Secundus to resume its previous production levels. To those who had not witnessed the situation first hand, Marius had merely acted sensibly in a volatile situation, sending a Regiment to try and contain the rebels but avoiding direct damage to the industrial infrastructure of the planet. However, the outcome was far from ideal, and even though the Queen was blamed for this, all those affected felt a bitter aftertaste in their mouths when they considered that Marius had simply not acted firmly enough, whatever his motives may have been.

But the Iocanthos debacle would quickly turn bitternes into anger and outright hatred. Iocanthos had been a planet ravaged by civil war for as long as the sector could remember, yet all the warring factions had been wise enough to keep the ghostfire pollen flowing. If they had not, they had the utmost certainty that the Lord Calixis would simply interfere directly with his guard regiments and crush them all. When the tyrantborn defied the natural order of things, the sector anxiously waited to see the Lord Calixis put them in their place once and for all. They were mutants, some needed, like Astropaths and Navigators, but most merely scum that deserved no mercy, no consideration, nothing but a quick death or complete servitude under the Emperor's watchful gaze. When the Lord Calixis boldly offered them citizenship in exchange for service, even under the guise of simple and unglorified military service, the entire sector was outraged. Though the Tyrantborn agreed and the production of Ghostfire Pollen resumed, the results of this agreement resounded throughout the sector like the tolling of some great bell. The Inquisition immediately sent Marius a letter stating that if he did not turn away from this heresiarchal path, they would have no choice but to declare him Excommunicate Traitoris. The Malfians didn't even bother with the Holy Ordos' reaction; they simply mobilized all their troops and interrupted all travel and transport between the Malfian Subsector and the rest of the Calixis Sector. Jendrous Kaffiq had this to say:

"After reviewing the events in Sepheris Secundus in the light of the Lord Calixis' tyrantborn infatuation, we have no other choice but to conclude that the Lord Calixis deliberately refused assistance to the Royal Family in order to appease his new mutant allies. The events at Iocanthos made this quite clear, and we feel that there is no possibility of remaining under the rule of a self-proclaimed mutant-lover. Thus, the Malfian Subsector declares its independence from the rest of Calixis, and shall be henceforth be ruled by The Right Honourable Lord Malfi, Jendrous Kaffiq; all the tithe grades in the Malfian Subsector are henceforth declared non apta until such a time as a rightful representative of the Admnistratum comes to affirm Imperium authority. Although unfortunate, we feel that if the Lord Calixis does not comply with this simple separation of powers, we will be forced to act militarily, since we feel we are rightful representatives of the God-Emperor, may He live forever, and that our actions are rightful and supported by Imperial Law."

The Malfian Regiments that Hax decided not to use in Sepheris Secundus were sent to a backwater planet in the Drusus Marches to fight off a minor ork infestation. This was unfortunate, since they immediately declared their loyalty to the Lord Malfi instead of the Lord Calixis, and thus the Malfians already had a de facto foothold and staging ground outside of their own subsector. Though it was neither rich nor fecund nor attractive in any way, it remained nonetheless an Imperial World, now occupied by Malfian soldiery. This was perhaps the only point that surprised Marius; he had hoped that the ork infestation would occupy the Malfian Regiments; but alas, it was quickly repelled.

As for the Lathes, what more need be said? They were inside Malfian space and under Inquisitorial jurisdiction ever since the Phaenonites appeared. The agents Marius sent to the planet were politely but firmly shipped back to Scintilla, along with the few tyrantborn that had dared proclaim loyalty to the Lord Calixis in view of his new policies regarding mutants. Though this was not Marius' fault, it only served to cement further his reputation as a 'mutant-lover'.

As Marius considered everything in his head, he could not help but smile to himself. Everything went exactly according to plan. The Malfians had been preparing for war for some time now, and Marius had hurried them to action while they were unprepared; Heretic sects raged across the Malfian Subsector and their forgeworlds, due to the Phaenonite attack, were operating at a severely reduced capacity, and were quite, quite vulnerable. The Inquisition had been a thorn in his side for far too long and now that he was openly a defender and friend of the Tyrantborn, many of their Astropaths and Navigators had already secretly swore their fealty to him instead of their Ordos masters. Thus their information network would crumble, and he would need not fear the shadowy rogues for much longer. Though he was now universally reviled across the Sector, he still held the loyalty of most of its Imperial Guardsmen and most of its worlds, and thus, most of its wealth and power. The nobles and planetary governors may be none too pleased with him, but apart from the accursed Malfians, none of them could hope to go against him. Yes, that was what he thought. What he believed. But refraining from feeding last night had managed to clear his muddy thoughts somewhat, and he could hear the echoes of the halo device's voice behind this rationalization. And the mocking laughter of the Deceiver.

Some other, older part of Marius' mind scolded him for his brazen and careless behaviour: He had been a pillar of integrity, maintaining the Status Quo and the smooth running of the Sector for centuries. And now he was telling himself that all had gone according to plan? That may very well be so, but it was a madman's plan. By antagonizing the most powerful factions in Calixis, he risked it all. And for what? The loyalty of mutants? Or was he growing mad as some claimed, and sought only power for power's sake? With the Malfians as enemies, his quest to stop Eliphas for unlocking the secrets of the Tyrant Star would be severely hindered. And likewise, with the Ordos now hounding his every step, he would never be able to secure their cooperation. Heresy would soon be as abundant in the rest of the sector as it was in Malfi, and the Inquisitors would grow more and more radical in their ways, in their attempts to contain it. They now considered Marius very close to being a heretic himself, as did the rest of the sector. This was compounded by the fact that he had sent an Inquisitor, Vownus Kaede, to discover the whereabouts of his only lead in the investigation of his assassination attempt. He doubted he'd ever hear from him again, and now he would be forced to either confront the Inquisition directly about his findings, or send yet another agent to Dusk.

But this was not the most unfortunate of events; With his sudden infamy, political alliances based on decades of trust would be shaken and perhaps destroyed. All his non-tyrantborn agents would soon find their loyalties divided between him and what many others were calling "The True Servants of the Imperium", be they Inquisitors, Malfians, or merely rabble-rousers. So what had he truly accomplished by disrupting the status quo? Time would tell. Now, Calixis walked a thin line, and a mere spark would set alight all that Marius had built.

Fortunately, he still had one ace up his sleeve.

Do you try to foment internal strife in the Malfian Subsector by revealing the assassination attempt of Lord Scheele to the Malfian inner council, and, most importantly, the fact that he was a genestealer? This might or might not work. Such a high member of the aristocracy being revealed as a xeno can be devastating, and some members are bound to remember that Scheele had acted with their knowledge, even if without their consent. Fear alone might turn them into strange bedfellows. But at the same time, they now call you mutant-lover. And with good reason.


Do you attempt to secure some measure of loyalty from the Inquisition by delivering Scheele's body to them without asking for anything in return, merely detailing what happened and your findings? The Inquisitors are less gullible than the high-borns of Malfi, and they will see this for what it is: The possibility of a genestealer infestation, and the confirmation of their fears of the coming Hive Fleet. This will at least keep them occupied. But there is no guarantee they will see you in a more favourable light. As they say, "A questioning servant is more dangerous than an ignorant heretic". And dangerous indeed, to have so miraculously survived a genestealer attack and failed to report it to the Ordos.


Do you throw the niceties to the wind and make a public reveal of what happened? There is no telling what will happen. Many will call you demagogue, many will call you deluded, but perhaps some might call you justified. After all, mutants are still human, in a way, and all hands will be needed to fight back a Tyranid Hive Fleet. You did what you had to do, for the Greater Good of the Sector and of Humanity. History will justify you. These are desperate times, and to follow the Imperial Creed blindly would result in a swift death. After all, had not the tyrantborn psykers become the backbone of the sector after the Emperor's death?


Do you do nothing and watch events unfold? You have already decided that sometimes extreme circumstances require extreme measures. To try a show of good faith now would be highly suspicious and perhaps pointless; it could even be seen as a sign of weakness, of you attempting to go back on your brazen defiance. And do not forget, knowledge is power. Perhaps there will be a more auspicious time to use this particular knowledge. You have decided your course. Do not steer from it. You are the Lord Calixis. There is no room for doubt in your mind.


The hunger overtakes you yet again, as it will every night of your eternal life. Will you give in to it?


Will you not?



Imperial thought for the day: The wise man learns from the deaths of others

The Lord Calixis put on an extra layer of clothing and headed towards the one section of the Lucid Palace that not even Comissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium, knew about. Because of the shifting fortunes of the Calixis Sector throughout the centuries, the Lucid Palace had at one time housed an Imperial Saint, The Lord Inquisitor, and even rebellious Malfians. All of them had found a use for the complex of underground tunnels beneath the palace. Some had used it as a vault for the storage of artifacts, as a prison for dangerous undesirables, and even as a bunker. It was already there before the Lucid Palace was erected, and, as many things in Calixis, it had been built eons ago by some long forgotten civilization, its original purpose lost to history. Marius did not use it at all; He had little artifacts to store, had no need of a bunker, and disappearing people was not something he did. He considered it messy, but above all, it went against some fundamental part of his personality: Justice should be done in the light, the better for Order to profit from it. He had no use for a secret prison. So this underground maze was routinely cleaned and maintained by servitors, and it held int its many Stasis Cells artifacts, tomes and people long forgotten by the sector. There were even rumours that daemons and Primarchs were stored in Stasis Tombs somewhere in the complex, but Marius was dismissive of these.

In any case, few people had ever known this place existed, and fewer still were alive to remember it. It had stopped serving any purpose since Hax came into power, and so it had slipped quietly from the minds of the sector and into oblivion. Now, however, Hax distastefully reflected that it had become his prime hunting ground. He could not, or rather, would not feed on Imperial Citizenry. Feeding at all was disgusting, but exposing himself like that would be disgustingly stupid. So he would have to make do with whoemever his predecessors had left buried in stasis beneath the Palace. There was no map of the place. The ones who had used it before him had not bothered to make one, trusting to keep their secrets confined to memory, and Marius never bothered with one. He had to rely, therefore, on the maintenance routes of the servitors that inhabited the maze. When he followed them through the dimly-lit corridors, they did not acknowledge his presence. They were centuries old, a miracle to be even functioning at all. He passed through several doors on his way to wherever it was he was going; every one of them had a small plaque above it, with gothic numerals and handwriting etched onto them, though they looked like gibberish to him. Some sort of code, perhaps. Not all doors were alike; Some were heavier and apparently welded shut, some were transparent, others were not doors at all, but passages blocked by ceramite steel bars. Peering inside these last two, he could not see much. The shimmering of the Stasis Fields coloured the air a soft blue, but it was difficult to determine what exactly they were holding. He had to trust that the device would warn him whenever a prey was close.

He was using an Auspex and a dataslate to chart his way through the place, so he knew how to go back up. But he had no idea where the servitor was leading him. Eventually, they passed through another transparent door, but inside this cell the stasis field shone a bright red. Something humanoid was held within...No, something human was held within. At least it looked like it. A tall, muscular young woman, completely naked apart from many strips of parchment and engraved chains that covered her arms and legs and bound her body. Marius was not a man to indulge much in the pleasures of the flesh, but he was struck by this woman's beauty, her shapely body statuesque in front of him. He stared at her for a long time. Her upper face had been covered with a steel mask etched with many holy symbols and wards. He could see only her smile, seductive and slightly off-putting at the same time. He felt the device reach out...And stop.

No. Too strong. Would consume you whole. Would have to consume you whole to protect us.

I thought that was what you wanted?

No. Not your enemy.

Not my enemy, creature? You force me to devour my kin. And if I do not, you devour me yourself.

Have no choice. Device never meant for the living. Never chose you. Never forced you. Other way around.

Marius snorted. He had not chosen, either. But he was about to have a little chat about that too, as soon as he had fed.

Who is she?

Daemonhost. Once an Inquisitor. Vail.

What? How can you know that, know her name? How much do you know about this place?

Know everything. Knowing is easy. Remembering is harder. Feeding helps to remember.

Marius shrugged. They continued on, following the servitor through the dark tunnels. Eventually the consciouness within the device had Hax stop in front of yet another transparent door. Inside lay a bald, scarred hulk of a man, wearing power armour bearing the livery of the Ultramarines. He had no helmet, but the contraption around his head was a psy-hood. A Librarian.

Him. He will do. Has faced great devourer before. Knows much.

He is a servant of the Imperium, creature! I will not devour a battlebrother!

No longer. Mind shattered, broken. Only agony. Mercy killing.

Marius opened the door, and approached the space marine. When he could see his face more clearly, he could see the device's words were true. This man bore an expression of preternatural agony, his countenance distorted into a terrible grimace of suffering. Marius shivered. He had never seen a face like this before. Only the whites of the eyes were visible, and the mouth was hanging open. He had bitten off the tip of his tongue before being confined to the stasis cell. Marius turned off the stasis field and the man's body crumpled to the ground. The Librarian closed his eyes, took a deep breath, opened them again and screamed.

After the deed was done, Marius cleaned himself and took off the extra layer of clothing that he had brought with him. He had also brought a Melta grenade. He threw the bloodstained clothes over the librarian's corpse, and ignited the Melta grenade over it. From a distance, he watched as the battlebrother's remains were vaporized within the stasis cell. Uncommonly for him, he uttered a short prayer, commending the man's soul to the Emperor.

His soul is in better hands now. Mine.

Marius looked startled. The voice was much clearer now, without the strange echoes and indecisiveness that had accompanied it before. And there was something else...

Yours? Who are you?

I cannot remember. Not yet. I will. And you are getting your wish. The Jackal God comes.

"Marius! What a novel place to find you. It's good to see you have at least come to terms with the Device's hunger. Poor Tigurius didn't deserve the fate the Ordos gave him, anyway." Said the white-dressed man, looking inside the librarian's former cell "They say a mind still works within a stasis field. He was reliving his agony for eternity. You did him a favour."

"Perhaps. I'm glad to see you're hard at work tracking down Eliphas' whereabouts instead of strolling around dark corridors beneath my Palace, Night Howler. Nevertheless, this is not unexpected. And it is better we should meet here, now that my private chambers are under intense scrutiny after recent developments. No doubt you are aware of those. Would you care to shed some light on the matter?"

"I'm sorry? Shed some light? I thought you were the mastermind behind all that has happened, Your Grace?"

"I think it's high time we dispensed with these little games. I know you have a hand in everything that happens in this sector. Why, I would not be surprised if you were the one that inspired the tyrantborn rebellion. Putting me in a hard place only makes things easier for you to accomplish. You care little about what happens in this sector, and if you doom it, then I'll have no incentive not to pursue this little quest of yours with the utmost alacrity. You know far more than you let on - Unsurprising. But I'm sure you do know something. Are you willing to cooperate now? We reached a compromise. Gentlemen do not go back on their word."

The Deceiver shrugged.

"You are considering what to do with the genestealer's body."

"Yes. You could have told me what it was. You must have known. And how did you kill it, anyway? I did not see any wound on the body, and yet, you cannot have devoured its soul. I think the hivemind protects them from it, does it not?" Asked Marius, the knowledge about the Hivemind's workings fresh in his mind after devouring the Librarian's soul.

"It does. But I do not need to devour a soul to kill anything. There are other ways. A mind is only energy flowing through your brain, after all. Yes, I could have told you. What purpose would that serve? The knowledge of an impending Hive Fleet incursion would only distract you from your true goal."

"Indeed? Pray tell why I should be more worried about a dead world in the neighboring sector than about ten thousand infested worlds in mine, should the tyranids ever decide to make planetfall?"

"They are one and the same. Surely you have guessed by now that Komus and the Great Devourer share a connection. I do not know what kind of connection, but it was the Tyrant Star's black light that called this Hive Fleet, that cast this new shadow upon the warp. If you destroy the Tyrant Star, there is a chance the Hive Fleet would leave as well."

"A chance? How can you be unsure? And how do I destroy a legend?"

The Deceiver ignored the first question and said simply "Go back to its origin, to when it wasn't a legend. Destroy it then."

"And so I should chase a ghost while Calixis burns and the genestealers infiltrate its smouldering corpse?"

The Deceiver let out a small laugh and answered:

"If you are so worried about genestealers, Your Grace, you should be talking to the Malfians, not me. Lord Scheele was not the only one in their ranks, and certainly not their leader. Have you never heard the expression 'tainted blood of Malfi'? Most people assume it alludes to Chaos. A misunderstanding, I'm afraid. And now I shall go back to work hard on tracking down Eliphas's whereabouts. Good luck, Your Grace."

The handsome black man disappeared inside the dark corridors of the underground maze, and as Marius Hax made his way back through these halls built by the dead, he considered once again the choices he had to deal with the upcoming storm.

Do you deliver Lord Scheele's body to the Malfians?


Do you deliver Lord Scheele's body to the Ordos?


Do you make a public reveal of the assasination attempt and Lord Scheele's genestealer heritage?


Do you do nothing with Lord Scheele's body and watch events unfold?


FRAGMENTS OF A SCATTERED MIND: Due to having devoured Librarian Tigurius soul, you are able to form a tenous connection with the Tyranid Hivemind. Through that, you are able to detect other creatures that share a synapse link with it, such as genestealers, if they are close enough.

BLIND MAN'S SIGHT: Due to having devoured a creature with a considerable presence in the warp, your psychic aura has increased exponentially. While you were before very resistant to chaos mindtrickery, you are now completely immune to it, as well as to any Illusions a Chaos entity tries to conjure. It goes without saying that you now have a quite conspicuous warp presence.

PURE TERRAN STOCK: The Halo Device has devoured the Space Marines' geneseed and is now able to simulate its mutations within you and even improve them through its own unhallowed designs. In a few weeks, you will be as physically fit as any Astartes. In a few months, only a Primarch would have any hopes of besting you in single battle. In a few years, you will be able to break a Bloodthirster's back without raising a sweat. Of course, by then, you will be quite far from being anything even remotely human. You will be hard-pressed hiding the fact that you seem to have gained immense amounts of muscule and a quite a few centimetres in stature so quickly, especially considering you are over 200 years old. Feeding will accelerate this process, restraining from it will decelerate it.



Imperial thought for the day: The Emperor requires only that you hate.

"Telthorn, have you anything more to do with Scheele's body?"

"No, Your Grace."

"Excellent. Ship it to the Holy Ordos, then. With my regards."

"Yes, Your Grace!"

Marius watched the Librarian scamper away enthusiastically, clearly pleased by this turn of events. Well, at least someone was, Marius thought to himself, and sighed. He had exhausted the back-door options for dealing with the Malfians, and giving in to their ridiculous demands wasn't an alternative. He had always thought Jendrous Kaffiq loyal and reasonable; He wondered what pushed the man to such a course of action. A public announcement denigrating Hax...It would be typical for any other Malfian, but from Kaffiq, it was suspicious. Nevertheless, the damage was done. Now it was time to put those rowdy little upstarts in their place. Hax summoned Cain and told him to oversee the mobilization of all Guardsmen Regiments within the Golgenna Reach and the Drusus Marches. Orders were sent out to all Unit Commanders in these areas, and the other regiments outside them were put on high alert.

The black fumes of Gunmetal City's Manufactoria clouded the sky over Scintilla while the Mechanicus inside them worked without pause to produce all the equipment the Imperium needed to wage yet another war. It was time to test out the Tyrantborn Regiments; They were not many, but they should be enough to expel the Malfian Regiments from the only foothold they had in loyalist space, the small backwater planet that had been host to a small-scale ork invasion in the Drusus Marches. If the Tyrantborn were not up to the task...Well, it would be a shame, wouldn't it? Marius shared the common point of view in the Imperium that all guardsmen were utterly expendable, and if they were mutants, even more. Should the tyrantborn prove to be incompetent in waging war, and Marius was half-hoping for that, then they would simply be replaced.

Marius formally anounced a state of war as soon as he received orders confirming combat readiness from all Guard Units; this did not took more than three days since Kaffiq's slanderous declaration. The Lord Calixis was less colourful in his statement:

"This Sector falls under the purview of the Imperium of Man and under direct control of the Administratum-Appointed Sector Lord, Marius Hax. Any attempts to evade its laws or refuse to pay the Imperial Tithe are considered treason of the highest degree. The Malfian Subsector and all its denizens are henceforth declared Enemies of the Imperium until such a time as they are again under rule of Imperial Law."

He did not even bother to issue an ultimatum or address the 'mutant question', as some had come to call it. He merely stated the reality of life in the Imperium. If you are not with us, then you are against us. No other considerations are required. There is no middle-ground, no time for diplomacy when the Enemies of Man show themselves. While they still draw breath there can be no peace.

The Malfians answered with a statement of their own, which Marius did not bother to read. Small skirmishes had already erupted along the border between the Golgenna Reach and the Malfian sub-sector. Small contingents of Battlecruisers from the now divided Imperial Navy had engaged each-other, with no decisive results. Ground fighting was yet to be seen. No doubt he would receive word from the Inquisition before the war even started to heat up. It would take a long time to subjugate the Malfians. Time, he reflected, that perhaps he did not have. But someone else would take his place, should he fall, and they would impose Order as he had. While he was still among the living (and the sane), he would do his best.

A curious, if fortuitous, development was a declaration of fealty issued by Telthorn's Chapter, the Marines Furibund, a loyalist offshoot of the World Eaters that had taken a vow of eternal hatred towards all the Enemies of Man to redeem their Primarch's actions. This was somewhat redundant, but it was said that these Astartes' fury on the battlefield was terrible to behold. Apparently Telthorn had shared his discoveries about the Genestealer with the rest of his Chapter (Which Marius had told him not to do, but was powerless to intervene should he decide to), and in a fit of zealous rage, the Chapter-Master immediately ordered all their Battle-Barges to head towards the Malfian Subsector and commence purification. Their flagship, the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath, had already left Scintillan orbit (though Telthorn remained had remained behind in the Lucid Palace) and was going straight towards Malfi. Marius looked down from his balcony, scanning the Hives below and wondering if the 25 billion souls that lived in Scintilla had any idea of what was going on. He shrugged.

The day after the Inquisition had received Scheele's body, he received an invitation to attend to Lord Inquisitor Zerbe, the Ordos's seccond-in-command in Calixis and Head of the Tyrantine Cabal. The invitation asked Marius to attend to Lord Zerbe in his fortress in the Lachesis Moon of Scintilla, the Bastion Serpentis. Vownus Kaede himself had delivered the letter to him, which meant both that it was real and that the witch-hunter had already returned from Dusk. He did not discuss his findings there. They exchanged pleasantries, he delivered the invitation, and left.

Marius Hax looked himself in the mirror. His pale, gaunt face had been replaced by a picture of health. He felt like he was many decades younger, and he noticed that already his body was growing more and more muscular by the day. His eyes, however, still retained their curious mutation, and thus he was still forced to wear the contacts. To walk inside a fortress of the Ordos...Would he walk back out? Can you hide your presence from them, device?

Not enough. They will notice something odd. They won't know its source.

So, it was dangerous. He seemed to be walking constantly close to danger lately. But Zerbe never left the Bastion Serpentis. If he wanted any information, he would have to risk it. Thankfully he did not have to go alone, though he was doubtful that his bodyguards along with Telthorn and Cain would prove to be effective against Inquisitorial Stormtroopers...should they need to.

Do you accept the invitation and boldly walk inside the Tyrantine Cabal's Headquarters in the Moon Lachesis? It's risky; You can't imagine Zerbe gunning you down there and then, but you won't be able to hide that you have changed. They won't know why or how, but the Inquisitors will be suspicious. Still, the only evil is ignorance, the only good is knowledge.


Do you try to re-arrange the meeting in your own palace? Zerbe won't come, but another might. This will make them suspicious, and they might still notice something is off about you, but you'll have the home advantage.


Do you politely decline? You are the Lord Calixis and there is a war going on, after all. You did your duty as a loyal servant of the Emperor and now you have others, more pressing duties to attend to. This shouldn't raise any suspicion and the inquisition should leave you alone for the moment, but it might mean you will remain in the dark.


Do you venture inside the catacombs of the palace once more and feed? The Device is getting more coherent, and it seems to have information to share, if only it can remember it. And for that, it needs sustenance.


Do you not? You have already given much away to this damned thing. Even if it has information, information from a xeno is unreliable and unworthy of consideration. You are growing strong of body, but so is the device growing strong inside your mind.



Imperial thought for the day: Blind faith is a just cause

Vownus Kaede was still lodged at the Lucid Palace, waiting for the Lord Sector's answer. When Hax summoned him to his office and told him that, while he would not be able to attend to Lord Inquisitor Zerbe in the Bastion Serpentis he was willing to host an audience in the Lucid Palace, Kaede seemed none too pleased. He was holding an unsealed envelope, which, Marius noticed, had only the words "Lord Calixis" written on its back in Kaede's handwriting. But the Inquisitor did not hand it over. He simply stashed the envelope inside his vest and, giving a gruff salute, turned around and left Marius' chambers, leaving the Palace in a Thunderhawk Transport and presumably going back to the Bastion. Before leaving, he said to Hax that Zerbe would never leave the Bastion Serpentis for any kind of meeting. Hax said that this was so, but perhaps he would send somebody.

"Lord Zerbe would never trust any of us with the information that only he himself possesses. Nevertheless, I shall relay your answer to him. Good bye, Your Grace."

Well. What's done is done. Marius turned his attention to more pressing matters. That is to say, he turned his attention to matters that had been pressed upon him by the Jackal God. The device said it needed to feed more to remember. And loathe as he was to give in to this abomination, Marius was in the dark. He needed the information. He ventured once again inside the catacombs and found a suitable meal; a condemned heretic that was accused of being one of the leaders of the Pilgrims of Hayte over three hundred years ago.

He dreamt again. He was in the same eldritch city beneath the starless sky. The ghosts of its former inhabitants swum around him, and he could barely hear the voices this time, they seemed almost muted, crushed by the weight of the dark sea that surrounded them. What few words he could make out, whoever, he could finally understand. Though they were still in an alien language, Marius was somehow able to translate them. They spoke of vengeance, of a terrible deed perpetrated in silence, of deliverance. They no longer tried to drag him down; they seemed almost unaware of his presence. When he woke up, the device said nothing.

A few days later Lord Zerbe sprung a nasty surprise. The Tyrantine Cabal's boogeyman Witch-Finder Rykehuss landed on Scintilla and immediately organized a Court of Ordeals in Hive Sibellus, the Hiveworld's main urban sprawl and house of the Lucid Palace, along many other important landmarks. Rykehuss was a fanatic among fanatics. He saw depravity and corruption everywhere, and his modus operandi was simple: Organize a Court of Ordeals, wait for zealous citizens to bring forth their neighbours and accuse them of heresy and 'try' them, if such a word can be used for his methods. He struck fear in heretics and loyalists alike; both had succumbed in great numbers to his straightforward methods. Regarded as both hero and butcher, he irked Marius profoundly. This was a man to whom order meant nothing, a man willing to upturn any stone, destroy any semblance of harmony to send a few more to the bonfire. Hax considered him an idiot, albeit a poweful one.

But what Rykehuss did next was unheard of in Imperial History. Courts of Ordeals, primitive as they were, were reserved exclusively for the common populace. Nobles and other powerful individuals were usually granted a true (if no less bloody) trial at the Tricorn Palace or at the local Conclavium Headquarters. Rykehuss decided to ignore this directive and brought forth Telthorn Biggus to trial, based on hearsay of the staff at the Lucid Palace. Marius was furious, this was a breach of tradition so outrageous that it was tantamount to treason. If any other Space Marine had been asked to attend, they would have dismissed it out of hand immediately. But it was Marius' luck that Telthorn was almost as fanatical as Rykehuss, and gleefuly presented himself to trial. Though he was declared innocent, this was a clear warning that no-one was untouchable in the eyes of the Tyrantine Cabal. Not even the Lord Calixis and his aides.

Normally, such a flagrant display of Inquisitorial power would require the approval of Lord Inquisitor Caidin, who was still Zerbe's superior, and a man that disliked disorder and intrigue as much as Marius. But he was either indifferent or tacitally in agreement with the Cabal and thus the Court of Ordeals went about its business unimpeded, Rykehuss rounding thousands of accused each day and submitting them to trial. With a mad inquisitor putting people to the flame in your own Hive and even going after your most trusted aides, you might find that the loyalty of the Calixis Sector to you and the stability you once offered to be waning. Something needs to be done before Zerbe sparks another rebellion just to spite you.

Do you refrain to act openly and instead find a covert way of disposing of this idiot? It would be suspicious, but necessary. If you do nothing you will soon find your throne crumbling beneath you.


Do you request an audience with Lord Inquisitor Caidin and ask that he interferes? Marius and Caidin are much alike in their thinking, and they have enjoyed a cordial relationship for centuries. He might be willing to listen to reason.


Do you order this idiot to stop with this mockery of law and vacate the planet, imprisoning him if he does not comply? This will make you an outright enemy of the Tyrantine Cabal and perhaps of the rest of the inquisition, but it might serve to put the fears of those loyal to you to rest. You bow to no one, not even the Holy Ordos.


Do you feed?


Do you not?



Imperial thought for the day: To compromise is to err, to err is to invite retribution.


The Lord Calixis sent a runner to the Tricorn Palace, requesting an audience with Lord Inquisitor Caidin. While he waited for an answer,
Marius decided it would be wise to have his full wits about him and descended down to the Lucid Catacombs in search of prey. This activity was almost becoming second-nature to Hax; almost a habit. The repulsion of feeding was gone. He did not know if this was merely his way of dealing with the situation or if the Device's intrusive influence was whittling away at his identity. After a short and uneventful journey, the device's conciousness shrieked when they reached the door to a sealed stasis cell.

Abomination! Tear it down! Destroy it!

Marius almost complied unthinkinly, but he resisted the device's tug upon his mind and stopped to think. What is behind this?

Monster! Murderer!

Marius was rather amused by the device's anguish. Using his newfound superhuman strength, he tore down the plasteel door and looked inside. Confined within the stasis field was a creature Marius had never seen, not even in the Imperial Bestiaries. It was a very large, translucent sphere as big as grown man, and on what was presumably its front there was some sort of triangular mask with numerous eye-holes and many tendrils that stretched from the anterior end of the sphere and stopped just below the mask. Marius looked at the plaque above the door he had just destroyed: He still had no idea what the code meant, but perhaps it was time to find out. He wrote it on his dataslate, and approached the creature.

Kill it! Destroy it! Devour it! Suffer not the abomination to live!

Marius, now doubly amused by the device's outrage and its usage of Imperial Creed, turned off the stasis field and proceeded to devour the creature. He felt a powerful psychic shockwave aimed at him, but he deflected it easily. The creature was trying to get inside his mind, and was horrified that it couldn't. The ghostly tendrils the device used to consume pure warp entities lashed out from Marius' body and devoured the creature whole.

Enslaver. Abomination. It won't have a moment's rest while it is with us.

Marius shrugged. The device was fed, his body was strong, that was what mattered. He'd question the device later on its outburst. When he arrived at his office, an inquisitorial acolyte was waiting for him with Lord Caidin's response, which was that he was expecting Marius this afternoon at the Tricorn Palace. Excellent. Now to get ready. Hax had taken to wearing power armor to hide his new bulk, not something unusual among powerful Lords when they found themselves at war. After gathering his Palatial Escort and donning his armor, the Lord Calixis set out to the Tricorn Palace, which was also in Hive Sibellus and not too far from the Lucid Palace.

While he was walking, he felt that something was amiss. His escort was still marching alongside him, and the streets were no busier than usual. He was wearing a helmet to conceal his identity, but that made very little practical difference. The common people did not know Marius personally, had never seen his face. He walked on, the niggling sensation of something deeply, fundamentally wrong in his mind. Eventually he spotted a wizened, hunched old man with Administratum robes slowly making his way towards him. He stopped and slipped his hand to his sword-scabbard, his escort also spotting the figure, immediately aiming their weapons. But not a second later, his escort apparently forgot about the hunched man and holstered their weapons, looking around as if nothing had happened. Marius drew his sword, and as the figure drew close, the world acquired a bluish tinge. The old man's appearance was blurred, and eventually became something else entirely.

Marius found himself face-to-face with an immense two-headed bird-like creature, although the body was vaguely humanoid. It was quite clearly old and as wizened as the illusion it had projected; its talons were merely stubs, it walked hunched, and a general air of world-weariness pervaded the creature's expressions.

"Lord Marius, If I could perhaps have a minute of your time? You needn't worry, no one will notice I am here. I see you are able to see through my illusion. Interesting, but not concerning. No one else can. Your escort will carry on as if nothing had happened. Walk with me."

Marius, flummoxed by this bizarre turn of events, fell into step with the strange creature while it talked.

"You see, the Changer of Ways has taken an interest in you. He knows you are being used as a pawn by the Jackal God, and he wonders if you know what you are doing. Oh, and you needn't worry about the Deceiver. I have projected a psychic field strong enough to keep him away. My sudden appearance might be somewhat vexing, but I assure you I come in good faith."

"A Lord of Change comes in good faith? I find that hard to believe."

"Well, naturally. You would be a fool if you thought otherwise. Nevertheless, my Lord is concerned by the developments in your Sector. He's afraid that you might be an unwitting pawn in a scheme that will do nothing to save this Sector you are so fond of. I'm sure the Deceiver has told you otherwise, but alas, he is the Deceiver."

"Indeed. So would I be correct in guessing that your master has a counter-proposal?"

"Yes. You see, Chaos and humanity have existed side by side since the dawn of man. You might hate us, and with good reason, but there is a balance in this coexistence. Many fall to Chaos, and many more find their faith renewed by defeating Chaos. There is an harmony in that. Indeed, if among humans there were no faithful, no zealots, Chaos would weaken or cease to exist altogether. The warp is the realm of the mind; and the stronger the emotion the mind experiences, the stronger the warp becomes. The Changer of Ways creates Change born of Hope. There is a compact in this, you see."

"So I am to forsake the Imperial Creed and believe that Chaos is in fact our little imaginary friend? Spare me, daemon."

"No. I meant nothing of the sort. Chaos is and always will be your enemy. There is no denying this. But it is the enemy you know. The enemy that is created from your own dreams, and thus, an enemy that mirrors you. An enemy that you can control, to a certain extent. The Deceiver is nothing of the sort, nor are any of the star gods. They are mindless hunger, born with the universe, they have nothing human in them. They are as alien to mankind as they are alien to the warp. If you help the Deceiver in his plan, than you would be giving birth to a new god, a true God whose powers would extend beyond even the Materium. A God that you cannot control, that you cannot even know. An alien God. That is why I have come here."

"So I am to choose the lesser evil? The darkness within our hearts, as you so eloquently put it, or the darkness born out of the fires of creation?"


"The Deceiver has helped me maintain stability in the sector. Indeed, he has even saved my life. Why would Tzeentch be any better? His ultimate goal is to have the warp entirely devour the materium, is it not? I fail to see how that is of benefit to anyone."

"I'm afraid you are not well-versed in the Changer of Ways' designs, Lord Calixis. Though some of his less thoughtful servants might wish for such a thing, Tzeentch does not. Erasing the materium would make the warp stagnant, unchanging. Without new minds, new hopes, new aspirations, the warp would become simply oblivion. But your little friend does not care for that; He would make the entire universe his playground. I assure you, that would be far worse than anything that Chaos could do."

"And so what do you offer?"

"I offer the help of Lord Tzeentch in your quest. We shall aid you in unlocking the Secret of the Tyrant Star before Ahriman or the Deceiver gets their hands on it. We shall aid you in bringing back stability to the sector. You cannot fight a hive fleet alone. And indeed, if the Changer of Ways sees fit, we might even aid you in forging the Imperium anew. If the Laughing God is not stopped, there will be nothing left to salvage."

"And what if I say no?"

"Then you will go on you way, and I will leave you. I have no intention of killing a Sector Lord in the middle of Hive Sibellus. Tzeentch is wise; even if you deny him, your actions will further his designs."

Marius noticed that the creature answered to his questions each time with a different head. While one talked, the other stood limp and silent. When it finished, the first one would answer Marius' following question, while the one who had talked before stayed silent in its stead. How curious.

Fateweaver. Tzeentch's greatest daemon. Be careful. I cannot tell if it lies or not.

"I think I have heard enough" Said Marius, looking at the triple towers of the Tricorn Palace in the distance. You have walked for quite a while, and you are almost at your destination.

Do you deny this creature's offer?


Do you accept this creature's offer?


Do you attempt to devour it?


DOMINATE: By devouring an Enslaver, you have learned the methods it uses for controlling lesser creatures. You can now make lesser creatures (weak psykers, common folk, etc) do your bidding without question.



Imperial thought for the day: Damnation is eternal.

"The Deceiver cursed me. I have no love for him. I accept your terms. How long before he knows it?"

"Oh, I imagine he'll know soon enough. He is good at that. You made the wise choice, Lord Calixis. I will have Zerbe call off his dog, you won't need to worry about Rykehuss for much longer. No reason to go see Lord Inquisitor Caidin, either."

"Call off Zerbe? He was working for you?" Marius gritted his teeth.

"The Tyrantine Cabal has seen the wisdom in aiding Tzeentch. No surprises there, since you have done just the same."

"I think you have it the other way around, daemon. I am not aiding Tzeentch. Tzeentch is aiding me."

Fateweaver laughed and vanished. Your escort snapped out from his spell, and you resumed your journey towards the Tricorn Palace.

Let him laugh. Your decision will anger the Jackal God, and it will please the Changer of Ways. But you needn't bow to any of them. You have me. You have us. No god will stand between you and the undying hordes.

Undying hordes? Who are you?

We are the Necrontyr.

Do you meet with Lord Inquisitor Caidin regardless? You did set up an audience with them, and it might be weird to blow him off while Fateweaver gets rid of Rykehuss. Besides, he might know something.


Do you go back to the Lucid Palace and let Tzeentch work his magic? You are damned anyway, meeting with the High Inquisitor might not be the wisest of moves.




Imperial thought for the day: A fine mind is a blessing of the Emperor - It should not be cluttered with trivialities.

Marius handed over his helmet to one of his bodyguards, and headed inside the Tricorn Palace alone. He told his escort to wait for him outside the Lord Inquisitor's chambers.

"Lord Hax."

"Lord Caidin."

The two men bowed to each other. Lord Inquisitor Caidin dismissed the guards from his office and sat at his desk.

"Please, have a seat."

"Thank you."

"I trust all is well? You seem to be in very good health. And that armor befits you, it adds a certain martial panache."

"Thank you. All is well, yes. And you yourself? I trust you are in good health?"

"Never more so than in these troubled times. I trust Rykehuss has not been causing too much trouble for you? He is a very zealous man but he can be somewhat...straightforward at times."

Straightforward? The man is a murderous pyromaniac!

"Not at all, Lord Caidin. He is a shining example of devotion. His thoroughness does the Imperium proud."

"Quite. And you, of course, are renowned for your thoroughness. Which makes me wonder, Lord Hax, why did you recruit tyrantborn into the Imperial Regiments? I am sure you have thoroughly read the tenets of the Imperial Creed."

"Desperate times require desperate measures, Lord Caidin. I am aware that many people are displeased with my decision, but alas, such is the burden of governing. If we cannot count on help from other sectors in the Imperium, we will need all able-bodied men to fight back Chaos and the Xenos."

Displeased? The sector is in civil war! What sort of talk is this?

"Down that path lies heresy, Lord Hax. A moment of compromise can be very dangerous indeed."

"And I must make dangerous decisions, Lord Caidin. If compromise is needed for the survival of the Imperium, then a compromise will be reached."

"You are a practical man with practical thoughts, Lord Hax. I, on the other hand, am a spiritual man and it is the soul of the Imperium that concerns me. Regardless, what done is done. We can only hope that the tyrantborn prove a sufficient addition to help us all through our darkest hour. A pity that their support cost the Malfians'."

"I trust they will soon see the Emperor's light."

Yes. The light from lascannons incinerating their children. Is this the civilized Imperium you humans brag so much about? Making small talk while your worlds burn?

"Indeed. I do enjoy these conversations, Lord Hax, but I am sure you have much more important duties than indulge an old man."

"Those duties have been hampered of late by the shining beacon of morality that is Witch-Finder Rykehuss."


"I thought you said all was well?"

"All is well. Rykehuss performs his duties admirably, but I am afraid he might have oversteped his mark."

"Ah, no doubt you mean the incident with Telthorn. I was quite displeased by that. I am not fond of theatrics. Do you think he was misguided in his actions?"

"His actions are surely led by the Emperor's Undying Grace, Lord Caidin. I fear that it is his orders that are misguided."

"You believe Lord Zerbe so petty a man that he would try to spite you simply because you refused his invitation? That is a very grave accusation against the character of one of the Emperor's most loyal servants."

"Not at all. I believe he is firm and just, and that he seeks to disturb me because he doubts my loyalty to the Imperium. That is right and proper, and expected of a man in his position. But his doubts are unfounded."

"Are they? I see. So, you expect me to intervene and vouch for you with the Tyrantine Cabal. But tell me this, Lord Hax: Why should I help you?"




Imperial thought for the day: Cease and repent!

Marius Hax explained at length the necessity of cooperation between the Administratum and the Inquisition, the burden of governing, the current situation regarding the Malfians and the tenuous stability in the sector. He was an eloquent orator, and his speech was a masterpiece of rhetoric. Sadly, it had hardly any actual content. Lord Inquisitor Caidin stood silently while Marius spoke, occasionally nodding or interjecting a small question. When Lord Calixis finished, Lord Caidin rose from his seat and offered Marius a glass of Amasec, which he accepeted. The Lord Inquisitor poured one for himself, and stood a long time staring out of the stained glass window that covered most of the rear wall of his office. Eventually he spoke:

"I see. But I'm afraid merely intervening with the Cabal will not be enough to restore your credibility in the eyes of the Great Houses and the Ordos. I suggest we have a trial, Lord Hax."

"I'm sorry? A trial? For what?"

"Well, many have accused you of being many things, lately. A mutant sympathizer, for one. The Cabal has Vox Recordings of you having heretical dealings with the Malfians, as I'm sure you know. And if I hear there have been some unusual developments of late in your palace. Warp spikes. Of course, I'm sure all of this is perfectly explainable. The trial would simply be a way of proving your obvious innocence and restoring your standing with the sector. This should satisfy Zerbe enough for him to start cooperating with you once more. Thus, stability in the sector might be restored with a simple act. And it would be the proper thing to do, don't you agree?"

Marius Hax was silent, replaying all possible options in his head. Yes. He had walked into a trap that had probably been in the making for quite some time. He did not believe that this trial would be only to prove his innocence. The Inquisition was out for blood. He had no choice.

"I do. These are serious accusations, of course, and it is my duty to respond to them in whatever way the Holy Ordos sees fit. I am not, after all, above the Imperial Law."

"None of us are. I shall begin preparations for your trial, then. But remain steadfast, Lord Hax. The innocent have nothing to fear. I suggest you choose a barrister and begin working on your defense, although that is of course just a formality in your case."

Like hell it is.

"Very well, Lord Caidin. I shall resume my duties at the Lucid Palace, and wait for the summons. Farewell."

"Farewell, Lord Hax. This has been a good conversation" Said Lord Inquisitor Caidin with a wry smile.

Marius walked out of the Tricorn Palace slowly, calmly, trying to keep his wits about him as much he could do. There was nothing for it now. He was in too deep. How would he ever survive a close scrutiny by the Ordos' finest?

"I did tell you there was no need to go and see Caidin, Your Grace. We could have seen to Rykehuss."

"I do not trust Chaos even when it brings gifts, Fateweaver. Do you have anything useful to say?"

"Tzeentch can arrange for an agent to represent you at your trial, if you wish it."

"How comforting. I am going back to my chambers. Be so kind as to refrain from following me. I have much that needs thinking about."

"As you will, Your Grace."

This trial will not only be about proving your innocence. If you do not manage to get into the good graces of the Cabal or at least get ahold of the information Kaede has on your would-be assassin, it's quite likely they'll try it again. You are vulnerable now. More so than ever before.

You need to make preparations for your trial. First comes the choice of the one who will represent you before the Inquisitorial Court. You have a few options:

Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium: He is well-versed in Imperial Law due to his Progenium upbringing, and he is quite famous, although Amberley Vail's writings about him might make the Inquisitors less than sympathetic. He is also quite eloquent and good at improvising. But most of the Imperium thinks him dead, and the surprise factor might work as much in your favor as against it.

Telthorn Biggus, Chief Librarian of the Marines Furibund: His dedication to Imperial Creed and his absolute conviction in the Emperor is a point in your favor. He is not a great orator, and he tends to be hot-headed, but that might work in your favor if you intend to pass yourself off as a zealous bastion of devotion in these dark times. He is also well-versed in Imperial Law.

Lord Marshall of the Arbites, Goreman: Renowned for being even-handed to a fault, he is a man extremely respected in Scintilla and in the sector as a whole, and has cooperated with the Inquisition many times before, oftentimes being the most sensible of the partnership. Though he is neither a great orator nor skilled in the finer points of Courtroom banter, he is an investigator without peer. His straightforward thinking might help you should you decide on a defense strategy that sticks merely to the facts.

Tzeentch's agent: You have no idea whom or what Tzeentch will send you. But considering the God's nature, it's safe to assume that it will be a master of intrigue and oratory, and that whomever this agent is, he will be more than willing to play dirty to get the results that are needed.


The Necrontyr Consciousness within the device has stated that if you feed, you might be able to dominate the minds of some of the members of the court, thus turning the trial in your favor. He has also remarked that he has had millions of years of experience in all matters diplomatic, military and heretic, and so if you allow him to take over, he might serve as a quite competent barrister. With the amount of arcane lore the device has accumulated over the millennia, this might be quite true.

Do you feed? Feeding essentially means you get another choice at an attorney, namely, the Necrontyr himself. You do not have to choose him if you feed, however. It just gives you the option.


Do you not?



Imperial thought for the day: The fallen shall be forever remembered as the Emperor's Finest.

Already Hax's conscience saw no problem in devouring yet another hapless soul to further his goals. Bit by bit, the distinction between the device's will and Hax's own was becoming immaterial. Hax could feel it, but he was far beyond caring. Nothing else mattered now, only the mission. Terra needed to be saved.

The Void Dragon will sit atop the Golden Throne if you do nothing. That is why the Deceiver and Tzeentch are so desperate to awaken Cadia.

"Yes. I know."

Hax went down to the catacombs once more, this time determined to devour as many souls as were needed to save Terra, to save Mankind, to defeat the Dragon. He was not thinking clearly at this point. He broke the bars to Amberley Vail's stasis cells with his bare hands and deactivated the stasis field within.

"Ciaphas? Is that you? I can't see...Something terrible happened to me...They took me away...Zerbe...he made me..." Vail broke in a soft weeping.

"No. I am not Cain." Answered Hax, bladed bone spurs erupting from his arms and shredding the helpless daemonhost in front of him. He was soaked in her blood, and then feasted on her flesh and on her soul.

Yeees... Just a few souls more...

A massive psychic blast erupted from Hax like ghostly tendrils coming out of his body, consuming all souls in a large radius around him. Infused with the power and knowledge of countless souls, Hax was now well beyond humanity. The bone spurs retracted back inside his forearms, but his eyes shone a bright, sickly yellow. The contacts vaporized. His pupils disappeared completely. The knuckles of his spine were now quite pronounced beneath his skin, and the skin itself seemed to have grown some sort of protective and reactive organic layer, acquiring a bluish tinge. Wherever Hax stepped on, the stone began to smoulder beneath his feet. Whatever Hax had once been, something entirely alien stood in his place. His mind was still intact, but only just.

What have you done? The other voices will consume you now, will consume me! You'll become a mindless abomination, bent only on satiating your hunger! You have doomed us all!

You speak of "them" and "I". What is the difference, Necrontyr?

Many of the souls within the device have grown insane, they have no identity, they have only hunger. And you have fed too much, too massively...They'll overwhelm you and I soon. I am the one who was able to retain his sanity. But now...

It does not matter. We will complete the mission. We will slay the Dragon.

Returning to his chambers, Hax immediately summoned Cain and told him he had chosen the Commisar to represent him before the Inquisitorial Court. After that, he told him everything, omitting only the part about Amberley.

"Marius...I...What have you done? You...I thought you wanted to protect the Imperium. But you..."

"The Deceiver tricked me, Commissar. And now he shall reap his just rewards. All shall reap their just rewards. This Sector shall be saved, and from here to Holy Terra."

"You've become a monster, Marius! You could have denied the hunger! You could have denied the Deceiver! Or Tzeentch for that matter! How in the Warp will anyone think you are innocent of anything now?"

"I did what I had to do. And when the time comes, I'll end my own life. Do not think I am so weak as to not notice what I have become. I shall save the Imperium, and die with those who would seek to destroy it."

Cain was silent, perplexed. This was not the man he once knew. Marius opened his wall safe, and handed to Cain a strange device; Some sort of hand cannon, clearly alien in design.

"This weapon creates a small gravitational singularity that obliterates anything in its reach. If I ever become too much of a monster, I want you to be the one to pull the trigger."

Cain nodded.

"If that is how it must be. I'm sorry that it has come this far, Marius. Once, I thought you'd be the one to get us out of this mess..."

Marius shrugged.

"We all do what needs doing, Ciaphas. This is the last thing I need you to do for me. I may have done many things, but I never conspired against the Imperium. This must be proved at the trial, lest the Sector fall apart. Afterwards...A better man than I shall take control. Tradition must be upheld."

"Very well. Then I suppose we must go through our defense strategy."

Philus entered the room, carrying the Trial brief. Cain took it and read it.

"Let's see...you stand accused of Heresy; 1) in which you actively fostered the integration of mutants into imperial society, in direct contradiction with Imperial Creed and 2) In which you had heretical dealings regarding a heretical cult called the Masqued.

You are also accused of Treason; 1) That you willfully or indifferently aided in a rebellious uprising in Sepheris Secundus and 2) That you willfully led the Sector to a state of internal strife.

Well, that's all to be expected...Nothing here about you being a soul-devouring abomination, I expect they don't have enough evidence to charge you with that. Although they have invoked the clause of Ordos Confidentia and might bring a third, undisclosed charge during the trial. Worrying. Hmm...Well, the rest is standard stuff..."

Cain kept on reading until he stopped, turned a few pages back, re-read something, and his face clouded.

"What is it, Ciaphas?"

"Well...The prosecution's barrister is Silas Marr."

You have to focus on a defense strategy for the trial. Do you tell Cain to focus on:

A) Your moral character, your impeccable record and your good actions during your rule?

B) The dubious and political character of these accusations and their obviously spiteful origins, trying to discredit these charges by discrediting your accusers?

C) The facts and evidence presented by the Ordos to support the charges? They are not very solid, but this has never been a concern in Inquisitorial hearings.


You have reached untold levels of power. You and the device are in symbiosis. Lesser beings will be struck dead merely by looking into your eyes. You are able to dominate the minds of all but the most strong-willed. You can emit psychic blasts that consume the souls of all those in your vicinity if they fail their willpower save. You can also change at will to your xeno form, which is impervious to almost all damage and nigh immortal, stronger than any Primarch. Your human mind will not be able to cope with these powers and now it's just a matter of (very little) time until you succumb to the device entirely. There is no turning back.



Imperial thought for the day: A plea of innocence is guilty of wasting my time.

As the crowd started filling into the Domus Judicatores of the Tricorn Palace, Marius, covered by a black deathshroud, took his place at the desk in front of the stand of judges, Cain by his side. The deathshroud signified penitence, and was common procedure for these kinds of trials. As he looked around, he noticed that many of the members of the Tyrantine Cabal were present in the stands. Looking further up, he could even see Lord Anton Zerbe attending the trial. Well, this was unusual. But he was his accuser, wasn't he? He wanted to make sure he was well and truly damned.

Look closer. There's something wrong with him. He's not...all there. Can you hear the hivemind whispering? He's...a genestealer. No...something else...

All the entrances to the vast hall they now stood in were guarded by the fully battle-clad Adepta Sororitas, as well as large numbers of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers and Primaris Psykers. Grey Knights surrounded the Judges' stand, at least twenty in number, and if Marius knew anything about Caidin, there were many plainclothes blanks patrolling the hall. Even with his newfound powers, it was quite unlikely he would be able to escape the trial if he was to be found guilty. Blood Ravens Space Marines worked in tandem with the Sororitas, and a void shield had been erected around the entire palace. All who sought to enter the hall were examined thoroughly for signs of chaostaint, including Hax itself. Since he was not technically tainted by Chaos, he was considered 'clean', although his warp signature was noticed. As a further security measure, two vindicare assassins were patrolling the balconies, and there was talk that if anything should go wrong the Inquisition had a culexus one on stand-by. All in all, around a thousand mixed troops filled the great hall, most of them sisters of battle and stormtroopers, as well as some space marines and a small contingent of grey knights.

No tyrantborn were present or even allowed to come anywhere near the Palace. Most of the attendees were Inquisitors and Lords of the Noble Houses. Everyone wanted to see history in the making. This was the first time since the Age of Apostasy that such a high-ranking member of the Aristocracy was put to trial. Not all of them had personal dealings with Marius, and curiously, even a few Malfians were allowed to attend, among them Jendrous Kaffiq. It was considered an open secret that if Hax was to be found guilty, then Jendrous would assume the role of Lord Calixis and this dreadful war would be over.

Eventually, people settled down, and the aged figure of Silas Marr and his aide came dragging many volumes of parchments towards the prosecution stand. Before sitting down, he turned to Marius and winked.

It's him. The Deceiver. Seems the Inquisition isn't the only one that wants to see you thrown to the wolves.

Marius shrugged. All sat down, waiting for the appearance of Lord Inquisitor Caidin, the presiding judge. Cain was still wearing his drill-abbot robe, and thus, was just assumed to be a barrister from the Schola Progenium.

"All Rise for the Right Honourable Lord Inquisitor Caidin, Head of the Calixian Conclave."

All rose, and Cain divested himself of his drill-abbot robe, displaying himself in full Commissarial Attire, laspistol and chainsword at his sides, and the trademark cap of his profession. A murmur went up in the aisles.

"Objection! This man is dead!" Cried Silas Marr's aide, quite obviously flustered. Silas Marr merely smiled.

"I got better." Answered Cain, to the general amusent of the audience.

"Sit down, Inquisitor Georgev. You cannot object before the proceedings have begun." Said Lord Inquisitor Caidin gravely.

Inquisitor Georgev mumbled something and resumed his place at Silas Marr's side.

"Rise, Lord Sector of Calixis Marius Hax, and bear witness to the charges that have been laid upon you. to wit, that you are accused of heresy in two instances; firstly, that you actively fostered the integration of mutants into imperial society, in direct contradiction with Imperial Creed and secondly, that you engaged in heretical dealings with the notorious" Lord Inquisitor Caidin stiffled a small laugh at this point, and eyed Jendrous Kaffiq meaningfully "Masqued cult.

Know also that you are accused of direct treason against the Imperium of Man, firstly, by willfully or indifferently fostering rebellion in the planet of Sepheris Secundus, tithe grade Exactus Extremis, and secondly, by willfully or recklessly fostering a state of civil war in the sector.

How do you plead?"

"Not guilty to all charges, Your Honour" Answered Cain.

"Very well. I trust you will keep your notorious hijinks out of this court, Commisar Cain."

"Certainly, Your Honour. Hijinks only have place in the field of battle."

Lord Inquisitor Caidin frowned at this, but let it go.

"Now, all evidence has been introduced and duly catalogued in the Vaults of the Tricorn. Is there any additional evidence any of you wish to introduce at this time?"

Marius noticed Zerbe nudging Vownus Kaede up at their Box, and Kaede gave a signal to Silas Marr.

"Yes, Your Honour. We wish to introduce as evidence this xeno artifact known as a Phase or Fractal Blade."

"Inquisitor Marr, I believe we already have one of those logged in as evidence."

"Ah, but you see, Your Honour, this one was used during another crime."

"Objection! You cannot introduce evidence without linking it to a crime already stated in the Trial brief."

"Sustained. What are you playing at, Silas?"

"I invoke the clause of Ordos Confidentia to have this evidence logged in and to be referred to in future use."

Cain mumbled an insult under his breath.

"Very well, Silas. The second" Caidin raised an eyebrow at this "Phase blade will be logged in as evidence. Now, if we may get on with the trial?"

"Of course, Your Honour. The Prosecution calls to the stand Jendrous Kaffiq, Lord Governor of the Malfian Subsector." There was a murmur of surprise in the audience at this. They were at war! Cain merely shrugged.

"Jendrous Kaffiq, do you swear that you will tell only the Emperor's truth, nothing but His truth, even if other truths seem more appealing to the senses, lest you be damned for all eternity and cast upon the lake of fire where there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth?"

"I do so swear."

"You may begin the cross-examination, Inquisitor Marr."

"Lord Jendrous Kaffiq, would it be accurate to say that during your audience with Lord Hax at 001.M42, Lord Hax entered an agreement with the assembled lords that all Guardsmen regiments in Malfian space should be handed over to his direct control?"

"It would."

"And what was the result of that?"

"Lord Hax used these regiments to fight an uprising of feral Orks in Fengir, at the Drusus Marches."

"Yet, at the same time, these very regiments would be of great help had they been used to quell the rebellion in Sepheris Secundus, is it not so?"

"Objection! Calls to speculation!"

"Sustained. Counsel, get to the point."

"Let me rephrase that: Would it not be accurate to say that these Guard Regiments were in an ideal position to deal with the Sepheris Secundus rebellion since Lord Hax himself asked for them to be positioned within jump-warp distance of the planet?"

"It would."

"Do you have any idea why they were not used, then?"

"Objection! Once again, Your Honour, this calls to speculation!"

"It goes to motive, Your Honour"

"Overruled. You may answer the question, Lord Kaffiq."

"I can only imagine that Lord Hax never had any intention of using the regiments in the first place."

"So, in your expert opinion as a Subsector Lord, you would say that Hax did, intentionally or recklessly, let the rebellion bloom in Sepheris Secundus?"

"I would."

"No further questions."

"Cain, your witness."

"Lord Kaffiq, is it true that the Malfi Guard Regiments are widely considered to be the worst in the Sector?"

"Objection! Calls to speculation!"

"Your Honour, my esteemed colleague himself stated that Lord Kaffiq is an expert on the going-ons in the Sector. It would be a very poor showing if he did not know the opinion of the rest of the sector about his own troops."

"Overruled. You may answer the question, Lord Kaffiq."

"That is a common misconception, yes."

"A misconception? So it is not true?"

"I would say it is not. They are as well-trained as any other Guardsmen in the sector."

"I see. I would like to introduce defense exhibit number one; this is a vox-recording of the 717th Malfians discussing their battle strategy before making planetfall on a world that was suspected to be under attack by the Ruinous Powers. Your Honour, if I may?"

The vox-recording came to life in blips and screeches:

"Commissar, the plan is simple. Shoot every single dog that tries to retreat. If they try to charge before being given the order, shoot them too. If they fall to hold the line, shoot them. And if try some cowardly tactic like attacking from the flanks, shoot them as well."

"That is a sound tactic for any Imperial Regiment, Commisar Cain. It is tried and tested Imperial Doctrine."

"So it is" Spat Cain, with distaste "But you lost."

"The Emperor was not with us that day."

"So you admit you have fallen out of favor with the God-Emperor?"

"I said no such thing! I merely stated that the Emperor did not deign to grant us a victory on that particular occasion."

"I see. And you would say that was entirely the Emperor's fault, would you, and not an ill-advised strategy drawn up by your generals?"

"Objection! The counsel is badgering the witness, Your Honour."

"Sustained. Would be so kind as to get back to the cross-examination, Counsel?"

"Certainly, Your Honour. In the light of aforementioned events, would you say, Lord Kaffiq, that the Malfian regiments were the best suited to deal with the task of quelling the Sepheris Secunds rebellion?"

"In the light of the aforementioned events...Perhaps not."

"And so you would consider that it was a sound tactical decision for Lord Hax not to utilize these regiments in Sepheris Secundus?"

"I suppose. But that does not rule out the fact that he did not use nearly enough force to --"

"Stick to the question, please, Lord Kaffiq." Said Lord Caidin.

"Yes. Yes, I suppose it was a sound tactical decision."

"Very good. No further questions."

Although it seems you successfully managed to discredit the Malfian Regiments, Silas Marr will still insist that you did not do enough to quell the rebellion, which will configure treason. How do you wish to deal with that?

A) Ignore the question entirely and move on to more pressing matters?

B) Summon the deposed queen to the stand and demonstrate her obvious stupidity?

C) Confront Silas head-on and try to prove that it was the most beneficial decision for the sector?



Imperial thought for the day: There is no innocence; only degrees of guilt.

"The prosecution calls to the stand Lord-Commander Julius Kester of the 1st Sepherian Peacekeppers, former 67th Scintillans."

After the oath was made, Silas Marr began the cross-examination.

"How would you describe the events that took place during the rebellious uprising in Sepheris Secundus during May, 001.M42?"

"It was a bloody affair, sir. The queen was intent on crushing the revolution as quickly as possible, and many civilians died even before the real conflagrations began."

"Am I correct to assume that you received your orders directly from the Lord Calixis on how to intervene in the rebellion?"

"You are."

"Could you tell us what these orders were, Lord-Commander?"

They were to crush the uprising as quickly as possible without damaging the planetary infrastructure, but the Queen's bloodthirst did not allow us to do our jobs properly.

"They were to crush the uprising as quickly as possible without damaging the planetary infrastructure, but the Queen's bloodthirst did not allow us to do our jobs properly." Said the Lord-Commander, with a blank expression. Both Cain and Silas Marr raised an eyebrow at this.

"Are you sure, Lord-Commander?"

I am sure.

"I am sure." Said the Lord Commander, once again his expression blank.

"Were your orders not, in fact, to refrain from intervening in the rebellion until it played itself out and a more suitable replacement could be found for the queen, forming an alliance with the Tyrantborn in the process?"

"Objection! Your Honour, this is outrageous, the witness has already answered the question."

"Your Honour, I have an affidavit here signed by the Lord-Commander clearly contradicting the statement he just made in court."

You were coerced into signing that.

"I was coerced into signing that, my lords."

"Overruled. Coerced by whom, Lord-Commander Kester?" Asked Lord Inquisitor Caidin, with a thoughtful expression.

By the Dark Powers. The queen was in league with them. She sought a bloodbath so she could perform a terrible ritual.

"By the Dark Powers. The queen was in league with them. She sought a bloodbath so she could perform a terrible ritual!"

Silas Marr was dumbfounded, and a clamor rose over the gathered audience inside the Domus Judicatores.

"I'm...sorry. Are you actually admiting to heresy in this courtroom?"

I cannot bear the taint.

"I cannot bear the taint."

Silas Marr sighed.

"No further questions. The witness is the defense's."

Cain got up, approached the witness stand, and asked the Lord-Commander:

"Have you betrayed the Imperium?"



Cain pulled out his Laspistol and shot the Lord-Commander between the eyes.

"No further questions."

Cain sidled over to the defense desk and whispered to Marius in furious tones:

"You just made me shoot an innocent man. How far are you going to go with this?"

"As far as it takes for the Imperium to survive."

After the Lord-Commander's body was removed, Silas Marr spoke:

"The prosecution has no choice but to call Queen Faye of Sepheris Secundus to the stand."

Once again, the Queen swore an oath and Silas Marr started the cross-examination.

"Queen Faye, you have been accused of heresy in this court. What say you?"

I plead guilty.

"Rubbish! We are innocent! What cheek, accusing us of heresy!"

Silas Marr turned to look at Marius and gave a little smile, his eyes briefly flashing gold; Only Marius saw it.

"So you deny these allegations?"

"They are preposterous! We gave no such command to Lord...whomever he was. The Imperial Guard made no motion of helping us crush the rebellion! We were left to fend for ourselves while that despicable man's troops paraded around doing nothing at all!"

"Objection! She was merely required to answer the question, not have a hysterical fit."

"Why, you insolent little curr! We'll see you hanged!" Shouted the Queen

"Queen Faye, please compose yourself. This is a court of law. You are not dealing with the noblemen of your planet, answer the questions and nothing more."

The queen grunted and stayed silent.

"You mentioned that the Guard Regiments sent by Lord Hax did nothing to help against the rebellion. Could you elaborate?"

"Certainly. When they arrived, we thought we would finally be getting Imperial help against those insufferable mutants. But they did no more than pacify a few outlying regions. The rebellion continued to mount strength!"

"So it would be safe to say that, in your opinion, Lord Hax more hindered than helped your cause?"

"Your Honour, the counsel is putting words in the witness' mouth!"

"Nevertheless, I'll allow it. She is a Queen, Cain. She is entitled to her opinions, however wrong they may be." Said Lord Inquisitor Caidin with an amused expression.

The Queen glowered at Caidin, and answered:

"Yes, we do believe that is the case. Hax's troops did more negotiating than fighting with the rebels. We all knew that horrible little man had sent covert spies to negotiate a truce with the bad eggs."

"Do you have any proof of these allegations, my Lady?"

"Most certainly. Many of the serfs came to us afterwards, begging for mercy and bringing many exchanged letters and recordings that proved that Hax was intent on deposing us from the start."

"I would like to submit to the court prosecution exhibit A, a bundle of documents bearing Lord Calixis' signet authorizing an underhanded truce with the rebels and a blanket immunity should they agree to resume production in Sepheris Secundus."

Lord Inquisitor Caidin perused the documents for a while, and then spoke:

"Interesting. No doubt this shall be explained in due time. Any further questions, Silas?"

"No, Your Honour."

"The witness is the defense's".

"Are you married?"

"I'm sorry?"

"It is a simple question. I merely which to know how I should adress you."

"You shall addres us as Your Majesty, you insolent peasant!"

"I'm afraid it is my most terrible duty to inform you that you are no longer technically queen of anything, my lady. Perhaps you would like to take that up with Lord Hax?" Said Cain, in a solemn voice. The audience laughed. Even Hax let out a small chuckle.

"Commisar Cain! This behaviour is unacceptable! Stop this mockery of the law and get on with the proceedings!" Growled Caidin.

"Yes, Your Honour. I was merely trying to be polite. My Lady, you did not answer the Lord-Commander's accusation. Are you, in fact, in league with the ruinous powers?"

"Most certainly not!"

"Do you have any witness or proof that can testify to that?"

"Commisar Cain, need I remind you that as a former planetary governor, her word is unimpeachable unless it is done on the authority of the Ordos itself? You are grasping at straws here." Said Lord Caidin.

Cain looked blank for a moment, cursed under his breath, and resumed the questioning:

"Of course, of course. I was merely...Testing the waters, as it were. Now, My Lady, you claim that Scintillan regiment did not help you quell the rebellion due to Hax's direct orders. I wonder if you could read to us these letters you refer to."

Lord Caidin handed over the bundle of documents to the queen, she shifted through them, cleared her throat and started reading:

"It is an acceptable loss that the queen should be deposed. Her reign has seen the industrial output of Sepheris Secundus reduced by roughly 40%, and as result, the industry in the sector has suffered. The tyrantborn are not presently considered a threat to the stability of the sector, and so, should they prove capable of resuming previous exportation quotas, they are an acceptable replacement."

Cain furrowed his brow at this. It certainly seemed genuine. He had delivered those letters himself. But how could the Inquisition have gotten hold of this? He looked back at Marius, who just shrugged.

"I must say that is quite damning proof. Still, wouldn't you say that deposing you was a reasonable course of action considering your inability at ruling the Sector's most precious world?"

"Objection! What is this? Commisar Cain is making excuses for the defendant. Reasonable or not, it is still treason!"

"I am inclined to agree, Silas. Is there a point you are trying to make, Commissar?"

"Certainly. My point is, these documents are exactly the kind of incriminating evidence that would point directly to my client. He is known to think logically like this, and it would be quite easy to forge these. However, my client is not known for carelessness. I find it hard to believe he would leave such letters simply lying around, even if had written them. Along with the fact that a Lord-Commander of the Guard fell to chaos on your world, My Lady..there are damning implications."

"What are you suggesting, counsel?" Asked Inquisitor Georgev, his face red.

'I am suggesting that the fell hand of chaos was at work in Sepheris Secundus and is at work here, conspiring against my client."

"I see no evidence of that, Commissar. Vague allusions to foul play will do nothing to prove Lord Hax's innocence. Furthermore, he is accused of heresy, is he not? The fell hand of Chaos, as you put it, might have been his own doing. Nevertheless, I think I have heard enough about this subject. We shall now move on to the charges of heresy." Said Lord Inquisitor Caidin, to a gasp from the audience.

You were not able to conclusively prove your innocence in the Sepheris Secundus incident. Your mind control powers were countered by the Deceiver, and that has left you in a hard place. Whatever trick the Inquisition has up its sleeve, you can rest assured it will involve the Ordos Confidentia clause and the second phase blade that was introduced at the start of the trial. A blade that should not exist.

Do you

A) Call Witch-Hunter Vownus Kaede to the stand and force him to tell you and Lord Caidin about all that has transpired in your assassination attempt and in Dusk?

B) Do you call Jendrous Kaffiq once again to the stand as a witness for the defense, use Lord Scheele's body as evidence of Malfian Corruption and make him try to save face by denying your involvement with the Masqued?

C) Do you try to lure Silas into a trap by letting him have his own way and at the end revealing Lord Zerbe's genestealer heritage?



Imperial thought for the day: Innocence proves nothing

The proceedings carried on, uneventfully for most part. Witnesses were brought in, sworre the oath, gave their testimonies. Some lauded Marius' character, others alluded to dark dealings in the Lucid Palace. Though it was impossible to deny that Marius had a direct hand in integrating the tyrantborn into society, it was quite hard to prove that this was in fact heresy: After all, wasn't the sector already using Tyrantorn Navigators and Astropaths? Marius just took it one step further. Other mutants were allowed in the Guardsmen ranks and the Inquisition never took any notice of them. To anyone with half a brain, this trial was not so much about the facts but how could someone spin them to suit their own needs. And impassive above all the courtroom din stood Lord Inquisitor Anton Zerbe, his expression as unreadable as ever. Few knew that Zerbe was a powerful psyker, but Marius knew better. The problem with that knowledge is that Marius had no doubt that the Deceiver had it too.

A happy turn of events for Marius was when Lord Inquisitor Caidin threw out the charge of treason regarding the incitement to civil war; He argued that it was a stretch from the beginning, and the reasoning that an attitude from the Lord Sector was sufficient reason to cease the payment of tithes was downright ridiculous. Only the Inquisition could make such a judgement, and the Malfian Lords had made it without the Ordos consent, relying solely on popular support. Still, he called Jendrous Kaffiq's actions misguided, not treasonous, which meant that Lord Caidin had no intention of favoring Lord Hax over the Malfians. Worrying.

At the third day of trial, Cain decided to push it.

"The defense calls Jendrous Kaffiq to the stand."

Silas Marr raised an eyebrow at this. Though it was within the defense's right to do so, calling the same witness twice was hardly an orthodox move. The oath was administered and Cain began the questioning.

"Lord Kaffiq. Good evening. Do you remember Lord Scheele? He was with the malfian delegation that had an audience with Lord Hax."


"Did you know he was a genestealer, Lord Kaffiq?"

Lord Kaffiq's expression of surprise and borderline panic seemed quite real.

"I'm...i'm sorry? What? A genestealer?" Lord Kaffiq looked at the assembled Malfian Lords at the audience, and something seemed to occur to him.

"I'll take that as a no. Were you also aware that he tried to assassinate Lord Hax using a phase blade that is logged as evidence in this trial?"

"No. No, I was not." Jendrous was shaking now.

"Your Honour, this is defense exhibit C-6, a letter bearing the Inquisitorial Rosette which was used in Lord Scheele's attempt to assassinate Lord Hax by luring him into a trap. You can see it is a forgery."

Lord Inquisitor Caidin examined the letter, nodded, and put it over his desk.

"Lord Hax said that Lord Scheele's last words were...let me see.."You! The others said I shouldn't do this, but you made me look like a fool!". Now, might I remember that since Lord Hax is not on trial for this particular event, his word is considered of the utmost reliability. Would you happen to know who are these 'others' that Lord Scheele referred to, Lord Kaffiq?"

"No." Lord Kaffiq was pale now. A din of conversation now filled the hall, and the Malfian attendees seemed quite nervous. Silas Marr was rifling through his documents, apparently looking for something.

"I put it to you, Lord Kaffiq, that these 'others' were none other than the members of the Malfian delegation you were part of. That Lord Scheele told you of his intention to commit murder, and you neither aided nor hindered him. You let one of your own, if a genestealer can be called a malfian, try to assassinate the Sector Lord. That is High Treason, Lord Kaffiq."

"Objection! Calls to speculation!"

"Overruled. Do you have anything to say, Lord Kaffiq?"

"I...I...We thought Lord Scheele was simply ashamed of his blunders during the audience! We never took him seriously! We waited for him at the Ball, but he..." Lord Kaffiq gulped, and became silent immediately.

"The Ball, Lord Kaffiq?"

"I...I misspoke...It was merely a cerimony in honor of our delegation..."

"Indeed? Those are usually called feasts. Or banquets. A curious choice of words there, Lord Kaffiq. You would not be referring to the notorius Masqued Ball, by any chance, would you?"

Silas Marr opened his mouth to object, saw the look on Caidin's face, and stayed silent.

"No. No, of course not!"

"Indeed? Well, I am afraid to say that Lord Hax had me follow your delegation after the audience and some of you went to a Masqued Ball. I could not tell who, because of the Masks, but some of you certainly did. And Lord Hax ordered you followed on behalf of the Inquisition, might I add." Said Cain, looking directly at Lord Zerbe.

"Your Honour, the counsel is monologuing! Is he going to ask a question any time soon?"

"Of course I am. My question is simple. Do you stand by your Malfian Lords?" Asked Cain, looking directly into Kaffiq's eyes.

Lord Jendrous Kaffiq closed his eyes for a moment, pinched the bridge of his nose, and spoke:

"I do not. I ask Lord Hax's forgiveness for my folly. I am his loyal servant." At this, a great clamor rose over the hall. The Malfian Lords were trying to make their way out, only to be stopped by the Adepta Sororitas guarding the exits. The entire audience was in uproar. Some were even cheering or clapping.

"Then you admit that Marius Hax has never had nor presently has anything to do with the Masqued cult?"

"Objection! Only a member of the cult would be able to answer such a question, Your Honour!"

Lord Inquisitor Caidin gave a long hard look at Jendrous, and spoke: "Hypothetically speaking, Lord Jendrous, would you say that Commisar Cain is correct in his assessment?"

"Hypothetically speaking...yes."

"No further questions, Your Honour."

"Has the prosecution any questions?"

"No, Your Honour."

"The witness is dismissed. Are there any other witnesses to be called?"

"Yes, Your Honour" Answered Silas Marr, with a grin "The prosecution calls to the stand Lord Sector Marius Hax."

No choices to be made this time around, guys. Final part of the Trial forthcoming.



Hax walked to the witness stand, still enshrouded in black. His bulk was somewhat concealed by the shroud, but it was obvious that the man didn't walk quite right. Before, he walked purposefully and upright, each step in full athletic control. Now he walked like a man with a cross to bear. He took his place at the stand, and removed the shroud from his face. Beneath it, he was wearing an Iron Mask, an old punishment usually reserved for those accused of witchcraft back in the days when Terra was still called Earth. It was a symbolic gesture that signified Marius' devotion to tradition.

"Lord Hax. It pains me to see you in this position, but alas, I cannot help but think that if you had chosen another path, perhaps you wouldn't be in it."

Marius shrugged, avoiding eye contact with Silas.

"Is there nothing you would like to say?"

"I will answer your questions and nothing more, Inquisitor, in accordance with Imperial Law."

"Very well. I would like for you to tell me the events that ocurred inside your private chambers in the first of january, 001.M42."

"Objection! How is this relevant to the case?"

"I invoke the clause of Ordos Confidentia; This questions pertains to the undisclosed charge that Lord Hax is in fact a xeno entity." A gasp rose from the audience.

"Are you sure you wish to do that, Inquisitor Marr?"

"Quite sure, Your Honour."

"Very well. Lord Hax, you may answer the question."

"An assassination attempt was made on my life. What I believe was a Callidus assassin tried to dispose of me using a Phase Blade." The audience was completely silent at this.

"And how did you survive this assassination attempt?"

"I cannot recall. I passed out. Afterwards, a man dressed in white was standing over me. He claimed he had saved my life."

"Did this man identify himself to you? Had you ever seen him before?"

"He did not, and I had not."

"What happened then?"

"He gave me a ring and told me to call upon him whenever I felt I was in danger."

"And did you?"

"Yes. When Lord Scheele tried to assassinate me a second time with yet another phase blade, I called this man to assist me. He helped me fight off Lord Scheele."

"And Lord Scheele was alone?"

"He was not. There were eight other would-be assassins with him, Malfian Snipers."

"I believe you did not report these snipers, why is that, Your Grace?"

"I did not think anyone would believe me if I had told them a supernatural entity had saved my life two times. It seemed wiser to dismiss it as a common incident."

"So you admit to trickery?"

"Certainly. Do you?"

Lord Inquisitor Caidin raised an eyebrow at this.

"I'm sorry, Your Grace? What do you mean?"

"I was under the impression that Inquisitors used trickery all the time to achieve their goal of keeping the Imperium free from heresy. Sometimes I must do the same when it comes to ruling the sector."

"Indeed. You are right, of course. If something is done in the Emperor's name, then it cannot be wrong. And what of this supernatural entity, Your Grace?"

"I did not meet it again."

"You never questioned its designs."

"I did, but came up empty. I suspected Chaos at first; no doubt it is in their interest to keep me alive if they intend to take over the sector without raising suspicion. But there was no warp signature on any of the would-be assassins."

"So this supernatural entity might not have been supernatural at all?"

"That is possible, yes."

"And what of the ring?"

"I wore it for a while, then I threw it away."

"Indeed? Why so?"

"I was afraid it might have been somehow tainted."

"Then why wear it in the first place?"

"It was a calculated risk. I wore it during my meetings with both the Malfian Delegation and the Inquisition. If they had anything to do with it, it might have elicited some reaction from them."

"And did it?"

"Both of delegations inquired about it. Nothing more."

"Let me see if I have understood you correctly, Your Grace. You were attacked at your chambers by a Callidus assassin. You were saved from this assassin by a man dressed all in white. You did not report this. You were attacked again by Lord Scheele and a squad of Malfian Guardsmen; Once again, the Man in White saved you. Not only did you not report this, but you admitted to tampering with the evidence so it would not raise suspicion. You wore an artifact that was possibly tainted with Chaos, something you also did not report, and then threw it away instead of submitting it to the Inquisitorial Vaults. Am I correct?"

"You are."

"And this behaviour does not strike you as suspicious? How can you prove the existence of this man in white? How can you prove you even threw away the ring instead of stashing it somewhere. And indeed, how can you prove that Lord Scheele tried to assassinate you? Phase blades are not easy to come by. You could have easily planted it on his body after you retrieved it from the alleged Callidus assassin, which you also cannot prove ever existed."

"That is true. I cannot prove any of this. But that does not prove I am a xeno entity."

"Indeed, it does not. It merely destroys your credibility. What will prove you are a xeno entity, however, is an examination by an Apothecary with his Med-Auspex."

"If you say so. I am glad to oblige."

Silas Marr raised an eyebrow "You are?"

"Of course. There is nothing finer than dying in the Emperor's service. I have no doubt your apothecary will find something, whether it is there or not. I accept whatever sentence Lord Caidin passes upon me."

Silas seemed uncertain. Was this another trick?

"However, before I am consigned to the flames, there is one thing that puzzles me, Silas."


"Am I correct in my assumption that all these accusations were levied against me by Lord Inquisitor Zerbe?"

"Yes, you are."

"And how would Lord Zerbe know if I am a xeno entity or not?"

"He is a Lord Inquisitor, Your Grace. It is his job to know these things."

Lord Caidin looked at Anton Zerbe in the Inquisitorial stand, and assumed a curious expression. Zerbe had never told him about any of this.

"Yes, but you see, all these accusations levvied against me have a basis in reality, however tenuous that might be. This one, however, seems to have appeared out of thin air right after I refused Lord Zerbe's invitation to attend to him in the Bastion Serpentis."

"That is irrelevant. The Ordos Confidentia does not require us to tell the defendant the motives behind his accusation."

"That is certainly true. However, I am a Sector Lord and he is the Head of the Tyrantine Cabal. Do you not think that a veiled charge might lead to something of an unrest in the sector. We have a reputation to upkeep, after all. Order is paramount."

"Those are political considerations, Lord Hax. This is a court of law. Politics does not factor into it."

"Does it not? But from the very start, this trial has been all about politics. Surely no one here believes that I have been put on trial because I am a dangerous heretic." There was some laughter at this.

"Be that as it may, you are still bound by Imperial Law."

"Indeed he is, Silas. But I'm afraid Lord Hax has a point. If you do not wish to pass this trial off as a smear campaign, I suggest you reval the source for this accusation." Said Lord Inquisitor Caidin, with a thoughtful expression.

"My Lord, I am not required to do so!"

"You are in my courtroom, Silas. You invoked the Ordos Confidentia, and I can revoke it whenever I wish it. I am the Lord of the Calixian Conclave, am I not? If you do not have solid evidence for your accusation, I will overrule it. In the meantime, the defense may cross-examine the witness."

Silas Marr had an unnaturally calm expression for the position he was in. His aide Georgev was quite clearly furious.

Round and round it goes...

"Lord Hax, are you an eldritch abomination from beyond the stars?" Asked Cain in a very serious tone.

"I am not." Answered Hax, levelly.

"Why do you think Lord Zerbe might accuse you of being one?"

"Perhaps he believes that my actions of late are somehow in the benefit of a xeno race or another."

"And are they?"

"I do not believe so. I have yet to see the Tyranid swarm reaching Calixis. Of course, some of them might might already be here. Perhaps I have inadvertently put a genestealer in a position of power, much like Lord Kaffiq did with Lord Scheele."

Silas Marr looked at Hax, then at Anton Zerbe, then back at Hax and his face clouded. Zerbe was impassive.

"So you are saying that it is possible that somehow your actions led to the infiltration of the Sector by a genestealer cult."

"It certainly is, though if they did, I am not aware of it. I believe that is "Hax raised his head to look at Zerbe "The Inquisition's job. I certainly submitted to them the only genestealer I found."

"And apart from Zerbe's invitation, did the Tyrantine Cabal took any further action against this possible genestealer infiltration?"

"Not that I am aware of, no."

"And that does not strike you as strange?"

"Far be it from me to divine the inner workings of the Holy Ordos, commisar. I am sure they are doing all they can."

"So could it not be that the contrary is actually true? That Lord Zerbe is accusing you of being a xeno precisely to cover this genestealer infiltration you revealed to him?"

"Objection! Calls to speculation!"

"Overruled. You may answer the question, Lord Hax."

"Your Honour, the Sector Lord admitted he is not an expert in the workings of the Inquisition nor is an expert on xenos! I see no reason why he should be able to answer that question."

"Well, if he is a Xeno, he is well acquainted with how they work, wouldn't you say, Silas? I am merely trying to help you here" Answered Lord Caidin with a smile.

and where it stops, nobody knows...

"Back to my question, Your Grace: Do you think it possible that Lord Zerbe is accusing you because he is intent on covering the genestealer infiltration?"

"I suppose that could be the case, but I see no reason for him to do so. Why would an Inquisitor possibly want to hide a xeno infestation? It makes no sense."

"It certainly doesn't. No further questions."

"Well, Silas, are you prepared to reveal why you believe that Lord Hax is a xeno?" Asked Caidin.

Silas shrugged.

"No, My Lord."

"Very well. Then I shall pass sentence.

Marius Hax, you stand accused of treason and heresy. I hereby find you not guilty on both counts of Heresy. I believe the tyrantborn were and still are essential to the running of the sector, and thus, while not ideal, your actions cannot be construed as heretical. As for the charge of involvement with the Masqued, frankly, that was quite laughable and had no place in this trial. They are barely even a cult, and whatever threat they pose rests on slipping on the dance floor and injuring the bystanders.

However, on the charges of treason...I find you not guilty on the count of inciting civil war. But I do find you guilty on the count of less-than-stellar involvement in the Sepheris Secundus. You could and should have acted harder and faster to quell the rebellion. Though there were political considerations to be made, they could have come at another time. I do not find you guilty of treason, but I find you guilty of misconduct while in office. A Lord Sector cannot do that. You are hereby stripped of your title of Lord Calixis, maintaining only the title of Planetary Governor of Scintilla. All Imperial Regiments of this world still fall under your command, and the Calixian Sector will be ruled by a noble council until such a time as a replacement can be found. You may remain at your lodgings in the Lucid Palace until further notice. Court dismissed."

Talking amongst themselves, the audience gradually drained from the courtroom and into the streets of Hive Sibellus.

"Well, that wasn't so bad, Marius. At least you get to keep your head on your shoulders. And with Jendrous' testimony, I think it's safe to say that the war is over or at least very nearly so. You think the Scintillan Regiments will be enough to complete your mission?"

"I hope so, Commisar. You were quite good in there. I will meet you back at the Lucid Palace for a drink." Hax waved Cain goodbye, and walked on.

"Your Grace. May I have a word?"

"Deceiver. What is it you want? Haven't you done enough?"

"Your Grace, listen to me. Do you really think I could not have destroyed you at that trial? I could have come up with any number of reasons to examinate you."

"And yet, you didn't. I wonder why?"

"Your Grace, you must understand, following Tzeentch's schemes will doom the Imperium more than you know. Magnus will sit upon the golden throne if the Dragon does not! The Imperium will rot from the inside. You must help me!"

"You are desperate, Night Howler. I know the Nightbringer is coming for you. The Necrontyr inside the device have revealed everything to me. I now know where the birthplace of the Tyrant Star is. I intend to go there, and do what needs doing."

"Your Grace, you do not understand! I do not seek power as Tzeentch does, not the kind of power he wants! If his blue scribes ever find the last of his spells, he will be powerful enough to remake all of creation, more powerful than all other Chaos Gods combined. And that last piece is inside the Golden Throne. The Emperor hid it there. That was the whole purpose of the Horus Heresy! The other Chaos Gods cared only for the slaughter and the decay and the debauchery, but Tzeentch always had a plan! You don't know what evil you will unleash upon the universe if you help him."

"Why should I believe you, Deceiver? He is no more evil than you. You cursed me, manipulated me, goaded me into sending a genestealer's body to a Broodlord Zerbe so that he, or should I say it, could keep the infestation under wraps. What makes you any better than Tzeentch?"

"I am less ambitious. Your Grace, for once, listen to reason. How else can I convince you? You will never believe anything I say. You should trust what the Imperial Creed tells you. There is no greater Enemy of Man than Chaos."

"Do not listen to him, Your Grace. We have a full Legion of Chaos Marines waiting to do your bidding, to finally uncover the secret. The Deceiver has nothing but his lying tongue. The idea that Tzeentch's spells are inside the Golden Throne is preposterous. How would the Emperor ever gotten hold of them? Do you really believe Tzeentch would destroy creation if he enjoys it so much? I do not deny there will be a price, but I assure you, the price the Deceiver will ask is far greater. If you help him, he will become an abomination much worse than any Chaos God. I am being sincere, Your Grace. When has he ever done that?" Said Fateweaver, materializing between the two figures.

"And if you help us, Lord Hax, we can rid you of your curse. We can make you a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch. Warmaster of Chaos! Think of the power that would be at your fingertips! And even if you do not wish that, we can still help you salvage what's left of the Imperium." Said Fateweaver's other head.

The Star God and the Oracle of Tzeentch squared off, both apparently ready to fight for their lives.

They still hide something from you. I cannot tell if the Deceiver speaks the truth, no more than Fateweaver. If only I was powerful enough to destroy this star god that enslaved us all...But it is your decision, Marius. This is no longer my universe. The necrontyr have died long ago. We are only ghosts, now. Whatever you do, you must stop the Void Dragon. Nothing else matters.

Do you throw in your lot with the star god?


Do you stand by Fateweaver and the Word Bearers?



Thought for the day: All souls cry out for salvation.


Hax lashed out with his mind, targetting the daemon with a psychic blast. Fateweaver shook and blurred for a moment, but regained his composture quickly. He called forth a burst of chaosfire that sent Marius to the ground in flames. The Deceiver unleashed a bolt of lightning, hitting one of Fateweaver's heads and pulverizing it. The creature screeched and let fly a barrage of doombolts, searing the Deceiver's necrodermis and sending him backwards, straight into the wall of a nearby building. Marius got up and leapt upon the daemon, bladed bone spurs gleaming. He managed a few slashes before the daemon swatted him aside with one of his talons, tearing open his gut. As the deceiver came back into the fray, the daemon disappeared. The star god offered his hand to Marius and helped him get up, his wounds already regenerating.

"A good effort, Your Grace, but I'm afraid that banishing Greater Daemons should be left to the Grey Knights. Its head should regenerate in time."

Marius cursed under his breath and stood up straight. He looked at the Hive around him, its populace bustling and going about their business. Its scents of guarana and satay, of grox meat and lho-sticks, of the perfumes of the noblewoman and of the sweat of the hivers. He would never look upon it again. Now there was only the mission.

"It's time, Your Grace."

Marius nodded.

A few hours later, in the great hall of the Lucid Palace, Marius surveyed what could loosely be called his generals. Comissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium. Telthorn Biggus, Chief Librarian of the Marines Furibund. Brother-Captain Davian Thule of the Blood Ravens' Fourth Company, who has vowed to hunt down Eliphas and destroy him. Lord General Arcturus Leidl, supreme commander of all Guard Regiments in Scintilla. And the Deceiver, dressed in his all-white attire, whom Marius had called his 'personal aide-de-camp'. That must have greatly amused him.

"Men" Marius began grimly "You know what must be done. Make it so." After that, he left the room. The assembled 'generals' looked at one another and followed Marius, their expressions uniformly of steady determination. Several Thunderhawk transports were waiting to load up all Scintillan Regiments to the Battlecruisers in orbit above the planet. The Blood Ravens' fourth company was already waiting inside their Battlebarge, the Litany of Fury. Marius' flagship, the Daedalus, was already fully staffed and its Tyrantborn Navigators had already plotted a course to an uncharted planet in the Halo Stars cluster. This, said the device, was where the Tyrant Star had come into being. Whatever answers needed to be found, they were there.

It took less than half a day for all ships to be fully provisioned and all personnel boarded. Marius watched as the mass of Imperial Spacecrafts darkened the sky over Scintilla. Over twenty thousand guardsmen would be participating in the assault, as well as one full company of Blood Ravens. That was not nearly enough what he had hoped for: The Word Bearers Legion numbered at over 50.000 thousand men, all of them superhuman soldiers. Though it was unlikely they would be present in full force, even a tenth of that would present Hax's forces with quite a lot of trouble. For the second time in his life, Marius prayed to the God-Emperor. To go where no man had gone before, seek out the secrets of a civilization that time itself had forgotten, to discover the birthplace of a monster. And therein battle the Enemies of Man, outnumbered, outgunned.

Six Battlecruisers, twenty Strike Cruisers and one Battlebarge. That is what they had, all they had. That, and faith in the Emperor. There could be no rest this side of the grave.

We will not survive this. It has been a pleasure, Marius Hax..Truly, what a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in perseverance. Whatever else you may be now, you are a man still. I salute you.

Marius nodded, apparently to himself, and gave a small salute to the horizon.



Imperial thought for the day: All fall down


"All commanders, acknowledge."

"Cain, aye."

"Leidl, aye."

"Thule, aye."

"Telthorn, aye."

"Carter, aye."

"Gentlemen. We are approaching the planetoid TS-0. We should be there in about an hour. I suggest you say your prayers and check your weapons. Hax out."

Chaos warships were waiting for Hax's fleet as soon as they exited warpspace. Three strike cruisers were lost in the first skirmish, and six more during the second wave. Leidl was the first to die as his ship, the Faith's Vanguard, was torn apart by the broadsides of a Word Bearer space hulk. The rest of the fleet was able to blaze through the Chaos trap, inflicting mild casualties. Hax ordered all ships to avoid engaging the enemy as much as possible: their priority was reaching the planetoid, not taking down a chaos fleet.

When the Scintillan Regiments made planetfall, a disconcerting scene was taking place over the arid and icy plateau they had just landed in. Thousands of Chaos Space Marines were engaging Eldar of Craftworld Iyanden in battle, while scores of Eldar Bonesingers were chanting around a strange three-pronged device of alien design a little further up the plateau beyond a narrow canyon. It looked like three spires made of bleached bone connected at several places with circular bridges. At the center, there was a small altar. And the cracks in the glacier that the device stood in revealed bits of circuits and pistons, and the whole ground shook with the sound of machinery. The device was massive, towering over all the combatants. Each spire must have been at least 5 kilometers long and had the same same distance from the two others. At the forefront of the battle was a tall Eldar with a top-knot and a roguish look about him; He wore no armor, only the blue and yellow attire of Iyanden, and a monocle over his right eye. He wielded a bladed spear that seemed to cut down easily all the foes around him.

Wraithbone. The bonesingers are trying to repair it. Witness the cradle of the Tyrant God. Do not even bother trying to negotiate with Yriel. They seek to forge their god anew.

Hax ordered his troops not to engage. If his enemies were killing each other, so much the better. He hadn't any men to spare. Things might have been different if he was still a Sector Lord, but now this was his reality. However, when Eliphas the Inheritor took to the field wielding his Accursed Crozius and wearing the Helm of Lorgar, Davian Thule told Hax he would not stand idly by as this traitorous worm engaged the Eldar in battle. Telthorn followed him, wielding his powerful staff, and the Blood Raven's Fourth Company descended upon the rearguard of the Word Bearers legion with a terrible fury. They managed do to quite a lot of damage, felling Chaos Marines by the dozens, until Eliphas caught up with was happening and sent someone to deal with them. The former Reclusiarch rose in front of Thule like a monster from some old tale, his terminator armor adorned with innumerable skulls and painted entirely in the blood of his enemies. The massive Chainaxe he wielded was enough to separate Thule's body at the waist, and the Brother-Captain's head was crushed under the threads of the Jeremiah's boot. The gap in the Blood Ravens' formation was being filled with Word Bearers, and they were in danger of being overwhelmed.

"Marius, send the men down! Plug that gap or the entire company will die! Shouted Cain.

"No. I will not risk the men. They took this risk without my consent."

"Dammnit Marius, they took the risk because they are loyal to the Imperium! How can you let them die like this?"

Marius shaked his head and remained watching the battle below, his expression impassive.

Cain was right. The Blood Raven's formation was soon overwhelmed by the Word Bearers' Host. Telthorn and the Blood Raven's Librarians tried to form a protective psyk-shield, but it did not last long. Soon the Blood Raven's blood stained the ground. Telthorn's last words were uttered in a shout, and sounded very much like obscenities. His limp hands let go of his staff, that rolled its way until stopping near Jeremiah's feet, who picked it up and smashed it against the head of the nearest Blood Raven. Cain once again begged for Hax to interfere, but he said he was willing to let their enemies bleed each other dry for as long as it took. Cain was about to say that the Eldars might have been allies in this battle, but he was interrupted by a loud boom and a crackle of thunder as the Wraithbone Device finally came to life.

Prince Yriel stepped inside the altar between the three Wraithbone Spires, and a female eldar with the vestments of a Farseer kissed him and said in a voice that, strangely, Marius was able to hear over all that distance. "Good bye...My Young Prince." She was in tears. Wisps of lightining surrounded Yriel as the Spires started spinning and emitting the same eerie green glow that the Cadian Pylons gave off all those months before. For a while, there was no sound, not even the clashing of blades and the crackle of bolters. Then a sonic boom threw all those who were on the plateau off their feet, and for a moment, none could see.

'I AM KHAELA MENSHA KHAINE' Boomed the gigantic figure that walked out of the Wraithbone altar. It was perhaps thirty meters talls and humanoid in shape. Its skin was the color of magma, apparently made of scales, and it wore no kind of clothing at all. There was nothing to conceal. Its right hand was dripping blood. Wings of fire sprouted from its back, and the God of Battle, finally whole again, sweeped the battlefield with its Wailing Doom, felling uncountable Chaos Marines with a single strike. The Wraithbone device was glowing red behind him.

"Now, Marius! It's finally active again! You have to make its way there and I will follow you. I will lead the Swarm for you!" Cried Carter, the man dressed all in white. The Deceiver.

Marius finally ordered all his Regiments to make way for him to the Wraitbone Spires. All the Guard Regiments joined the fray, Marius, the Deceiver and Cain side by side, battling Chaos Marines and Eldar Wraithguard alike, while Khaine layed waste to the battlefield. The Regiments held formation as they were slaughtered. Eliphas and Jeremiah were frantically trying to find a way to damage the Eldar God when Fateweaver finally came into the battlefield, riding a Disk of Tzeentch, and along with him, came scores of Lords of Change. But they were not only focusing on Khaine; They were intent on reaching the Wraithbone Spires as well. Fateweaver tried to lead the Word Bearers host nearer to the Device, but Khaine at his full power could easily destroy scores of his soldiers with a breath.

"I can hold off Fateweaver for a little while, Your Grace! Go!" Cried the Deceiver, now finally assuming his true form; a floating golden man, his head a five pronged-star with emerald eyes. Alternating between controlling the minds of the combatants and simply frying them with lightining, the Deceiver managed to cover Marius and his band of brothers as he trudged through the battlefield and towards the narrow canyon that was the only passage to the ice plateau the Wraithbone Spires stood in.

Marius finally managed to reach the small passage leading to the Spires only to be stopped by the Eldar Farseer and a host of Wraithguards. In this narrow canyon, the numerical superiority of the guard regiments meant little. And most of them had already died, either by Khaine's sword or Fateweaver's sorcery.

"Let me pass, Witch!"

"No. You know not what you do, mon-keigh. Khaine will lead us to victory, even over the Dragon. Leave this place. We have no quarrel with you."

"Khaine is a mad, bloodthirsty God! Do you think I will put the fate of Mankind in the hands of an Alien God?! You are mad, witch! Stand aside or I will strike you down!"

"Alien God? What of you, Necrontyr puppet? I saw what you would become. I thought we could have spared you your fate if we tried to kill you before you ever reached it. But the Deceiver saved you, did he not? And now the circle is complete. But my wraithguards will reduce you to nothingness; you will not be able to shrug off their Wraithcannons. I might have failed at killing you the first time, but I will not fail again, not after seeing the abomination you have become."

The Wraithguards opened fire, and the Imperial Guardsmen were the first to be vaporized by the first salvo. What the Farseer had spoken was true; Not even Marius would be able to shrug off distort weaponry. After all, had he not given the very same weapon to Commisar Cain so he could end his life when the time came? Marius barely realized when Cain charged at the Farseer with his Chainsword and Laspistol, gritting his teeth as her psychic lightining coursed through his body. The Wraithguards could not fire, lest they killed the Farseer as well.

"Go, Marius! Do...the right...thing..." Wheezed Cain, holding the Farseer tight in his grasp.

Marius leapt over Cain and his opponent as the farseer cried:

"Fire, Wraithguard! Fire! Kill me, but stop that monster!"

A moment of hesitation was all that Marius needed. The Wraithcannons fired too late and missed him. He looked behind him, only to see Cain with a sly smile on his face before being reduced to nothingness. Marius let out a psychic roar that destroyed the spirits within the Wraith-guards and broke their spirit stones. It also killed the few remaining guardsmen who were still in the canyon. Then he walked on, his head hung low, to his final destination. The sounds of battle still raged all around him as Khaine and Fateweaver engaged in a duel of power and will, but he was past caring about any of that. It seemed to him that it took years to reach the Wraithbone altar, but it only took seconds.

And standing within it, he found himself face to face with Death. The Nightbringer swung his scythe, only to be stopped by the Deceiver's body, who rolled away, its necrodermis cracking and the raw energy beneath it fizzing out. The Nightbringer struck again, cleaving Marius' body in twain as Marius felt something pierce his back, and immediately went limp. Fateweaver, its two heads whole again, threw Marius' mangled body over a cliff and stood facing the Nightbringer, mightiest of Star Gods.

"I have no quarrel with your master. Let me use the Machine, and there will be no need for fighting."

The Nightbringer emitted a hollow, dusty laugh, weighed with the death of the ages, and moved to strike Fateweaver, who dodged out of the way and let fly a barrage of doombolts, which apparently did nothing to the Nightbringer. Other Lords of Change came to aid the Oracle of Tzeentch, but even their combined might paled in face of the Grim Reaper itself. Though their perseverance managed to damage the creature, their losses were far heavier. And all the while, Khaine was slowly walking towards them, already having taken care of the Word Bearers. Only Jeremiah and Eliphas remained upright, and were rushing to aid Fateweaver against the Reaper of Souls.

Fateweaver, draining the power and the lives of the remaining Lords of Change with him, managed to cast a spell that stunned the Nightbringer and sent him to the ground. But as he moved in for the kill, a massive wave of raw, primeval energy drawn from the fires of creation destroyed his body entirely and banished him back to the warp. The Deceiver, injured and near death, crawled to the body of his fallen brother, and threw him out of the altar. The Nightbringer stirred. As the Jackal God crawled the steps towards the altar slowly, a power-armoured boot stopped him. The Deceiver looked up and inside the burning yellow eyes of the creature that had once been the Sector Lord Calixis, Marius Hax, and felt afraid for the first time in his life. From behind those eyes the accusing stares of the hundreds of thousands of Necrontyr he had sent to their slow, soulless deaths inside their living metal looked back at him.

"Marius...listen to me...Don't give in to the voices. You don't know...What you will become, What you will do. They are beyond redemption. Don't throw it all away. Help me atop the Wraithbone altar. Activate the machine. Let me help you. I can control the Tyrant Star. I can make sure your Imperium survives. I ask nothing in return. Do not throw away your humanity. I ask you for the first time...Trust me."

Do not listen to him. He lies, as he always did. Accept your destiny, Lord Hax. Bring the Deceiver's body to the altar and devour him, activate the Machine. You will free those necrons under his control. You will become our Lord. We will help you defeat the Void Dragon. Live to fight again, and deliver us!

Marius' body was cracked and burned, and not even the Device would be able to regenerate the slow poisonous warp curse that Fateweaver had injected in him or the Injuries from Nightbringer's terrible scythe. He was dying. He would die. But there was still a choice left.

Do you accept the Deceiver's offer?


Do you accept the Necrontyr's offer?


Do you deny them both? Use the last reserves of your strength to crack open the Nightbringer's necrodermis, obliterating you, the Deceiver and the Machine completely, ensure that it never falls into the hands of those who would seek to harm humanity?




Marius looked down at the Deceiver's broken body and uttered just one word:


"Because if you don't, then we all lose. Those voices inside your head are not the Necrontyrs of old. They're the twisted souls that the Outsider corrupted. Why do you think this Wraithbone Altar was built atop the Outsider's cage? There is a taint in this place that you cannot remove."

Marius started dragging the Deceiver up the steps that lead towards the altar, but with every step he took, his body felt heavier. When he finally reached the altar, the voices in his head were shrieking.

No. We will not let you do this. No! You're ours!

Hax couldn't move. He finally understood now the price he was about to pay for his reckless devouring. His mind was no longer his own. Nor was his body. From his fingertips bone talons erupted. His bulk swelled immensely, his legs became arched, and another set of arms that ended in scything talons sprouted from his back. His jaw enlarged and burst out of his mouth, rows upon rows of serrated teeth. His skin became covered in some sort of chitinous exodermis and a barbed tail hung between his hindlegs. He was now truly the monster the Farseer promised he would become.

But while Hax was occupied fighting against himself, the Deceiver managed to activate the Machine. The last thing he heard was the Deceiver screaming in agony before he blacked out.

Marius was now back inside his dream, in the city of the starless sky. He could now realize it was not a sea he was in, but the searing radiation of this planet's sun. The ghostly figures of the dead Necrontyr still floated around him, but they no longer screamed against him, they no longer tried to contain him. They were now fighting against something else, against a voice that encompassed all of them. And as the voice spoke, Hax mutated further still.


Hax died. Something else woke in his place.

The Deceiver was different, now. His eyes no longer glowed emerald green, his skin was no longer the pale golden color of its living metal. His expression of joyful malice was now grim and unyielding.

"SWARMLORD" Spoke the creature that had once been the Deceiver to the creature that had once been Marius "RISE."

And with the Swarmlord, all over the galaxy and beyond, rose the full might of the Tyrant Fleets of the Hivemind. The Great Devourer was now complete again. On its own terms. With the rise of the Swarmlord, the Tyrantborn revealed their true allegiance. Millions died in the first week as the Tyrantborn slaughtered their erstwhile kin. Who would have thought they were all part of the Tyrant Mind?Certainly not Hax, who had put them into positions of power, had mixed them with the population, had even given them weapons. The Calixis Sector was took by surprise, and soon fell to the swarm. In a few months, there was not a single human alive in the Sector. And the Imperium would soon surely follow. But far away from all that carnage, two figures still stood locked in their duel.

"Ignatius" Spoke Ahriman to the resting dreadnought, as the bonewalls began to shake around them "I don't think Hax did a very good joob at all."

The Dreadnought nodded and followed the Sorcerer inside the Heart of the Swarm.



"So here we are, Marius. Dead at last."

"How can you be here? C'tan have no souls."

"Everything that lives has a soul, Marius. The more complex they are, the stronger their presence in the warp. We C'tan are simple folk, we are pure energy. Our warp presence is almost nonexistant, but nonetheless, we are alive. And so, here we are."

Marius looked around him. Black sand stretched under his feet as far as the eye could see. The sun remained motionless in the west, almost setting, but not quite. A place of eternal dusk.

"What is this place?"

The Deceiver shrugged.

"The end."

"The end of what?"

"Of everything. Of everything that was, is and shall be. Of all possible pasts, presents and futures. We are at the Well at the center of Reality. Trapped here with the Mad God."

Marius looked over his shoulder. A young man could be seen in the distance, dancing and singing a jolly tune.

"Do not worry. We won't have to deal with him. No consciousness persists for long in this place. No sane one, at least. Soon you and I shall journey together into Oblivion, and we shall never have been."

"I thought the souls of the living went back to the warp when they died."

"Ah, but we were not truly among the living, were we? Not even in death. The Hivemind consumed all we were. There is nothing to go back to. We are just ghosts, now. Fading away."

Marius considered this.

"So this was your plan? To die?"

"I am sorry, Marius. I never expected it to be this way. I never knew the Hivemind already had you in its grasp. I never knew the Cadian Pylons had been torn down. I never thought you would succumb so easily to the whispering of the Outsider's servants. I thought you a man of iron will."

"So did I."

"Well, we paid the price for that mistake. At least we will find some measure of peace."

"There is no peace in not existing. There is nothing."

The Deceiver shrugged a second time.

"What will happen now? Outside, I mean. Out there" Said Marius, waving his hands towards the sky.

"The Void Dragon will sit atop the golden throne. I suspect the Nightbringer is already dead. I doubt he could stand up to Khaine in the state he was in. The Tyrant Swarm will overrun the galaxy and fight my brother for supremacy. Humanity will be destroyed in the crossfire. As will everything that lives."

Marius' body, now back to the shape it had before using the halo device, was already starting to fade away.

"And so we did all of this for nothing? We threw it all away? I killed people. Devoured them. I sent good men to their deaths. I watched as my best friend was killed in front of me. All of that meant nothing?"

"You did the best you could. So did I. It was not enough." Answered the Deceiver, his body already starting to fade away.

"Seems to me...Seems to me it never is." Said Marius, after a long pause.

"Yes. It never is. We few, we happy few, we band of hopeful. We were wrong all along. There is no place for us in the grim darkness of this reality."

The figures sat staring each other, gradually fading away. Eventually, only the black sand was left. And the dancing figure, who danced his way to the place where the two others had been, always singing his jolly tune. He would never die.



meanwhile, since i cannot write cool stuff while being a number (really can't :/) i'll write nasty and horrible stuff


As the Dark Eldar pulled out from the bloodied corpse of the Farseer, he relished the expression of horror she wore. She had been tortured and violated, and was no longer fit to be a Farseer. Her visions of the future would be always clouded by the trauma she had suffered in his hands, and that was what gave him most pleasure. Not the rape, not the homunculi's torture, but the destruction of this pathetic eldar's future. He licked his lips in anticipation, preparing for another go inside the slender and broken body that lay before him. Before he could do anything, a gloved hand made him keel over with a single blow, and another punch laid him down, stunned. The Dark Eldar Solitaire stood watching the Farseer a long time after that, as if unsure what to do. The eldar, formerly a part of Yriel's retinue, was hopeless in the face of these abominations. She had been kidnapped, she could not see them in her visions, and now, gazing upon the Dark Solitaire for the first time, she realized why. The Solitaire still stood moveless, watching her body without uttering a word or sound. Eventually it laid down alongside her, and held her tightly in its arms. The farseer was surprised; what was this?

She was even more surprised when she felt the tip of the blade entering her flank and slashing her internal organs. Blood seeped from the wound, a wound she recognized would not be fatal. Just another cruel trick. As she began to faint for the second time, she barely heard the Dark Solitaire whisper something in her ear. When it whispered closer, she heard it. Her eyes rolled back into their sockets and she let out a high keening moan. No creature in the universe may hear a Solitaire's voice without going mad.

The Leader of the Dead Hand Kabal, watching the scene, nodded to the Dark Eldar solitaire.

"Send her to Yriel. Dress her nicely, tend to her wounds, and send her to the Young Prince. With my compliments."



I cannot recall what came after Slaanesh. Was it the crying of the children? The laughter of the thirsting gods? I remember Azdrubael, his eyes burning brighter than a tiger's ever did. I saw him rise. I will see him fall. All things pass. The laughing god saw fit to grant me immortality, so I could tell the tale of our race for those who came next. But whoever heard my voice died. So the laughing god laughed, and I knew who he was. It was him who was the Great Enemy. Not Chaos. Not the mon-keigh, not even our foolish Eldar brethren. To him, and him alone, belonged the hand that brought us to ruin. We of the Masquerade wear no soulstones; our essences are claimed by Slaanesh upon our death if Cegorach does not interfere. He interferes often. He saves us. That is what the eldar believe. They do not see, or refuse to see it. They would rather believe a God survived the fall, instead of engineering it. But I know. The Laughing God took from me what I cared most, what I loved most. He delivered to Slaanesh's hands she who was without equal amongst us. The Laughing God accepted no other master or mistress; He said her soul was lost, forbade me from seeking her. I was part of the Masquerade, he said. Part of the Stage. Love was not for us who bore the Mask. But I would have followed her into hell itself. And I did. Cegorach aided me; he made a gamble with Slaanesh. Should I succeed, then it would release her soul. Should I fail, I would be devoured. I never knew the laughing god made another, far darker gamble. Nor did Slaanesh, because he is hunger without intellect, power without guidance. I reclaimed my beloved's soul from Slaanesh, but it devoured me still. Chaos is fickle. But the laughing god intervened; he took away Slaanesh's hunger, funneled it within me, and from me, he spread it to all that are now called Dark Eldar. I have no soul and yet I thirst.

I am a Solitaire, the highest servant the Laughing God can call his. But I turned my back on him. He would not be my master. He made all of us fall; and with me, he created a hunger that would never end. I am not blind to his ways. He claims no love for the warp, yet, without him, Slaanesh would never have been. His designs are unknown to me. But I refused to serve him once, and I refuse to serve him still. Better to see a thousand children driven before me, tortured and taken and slain, than to hear the laughter of Cegorach while he lies atop his golden throne. I will devour the galaxy if only I can devour him last. But he has no soul. He has nothing to devour. He is as empty as I. He took all that he could from me, and measured his price in the souls of those who were most dear to us. I cannot grant him anything in return. Perhaps, in time, someone will. Until that time, I shall follow the Dead Hand Kabal and seek a way to end our hunger. To end our curse. To destroy the Laughing God. He calls me Betrayer; as do those of the Craftworlds. But I know better. I am the oldest. I remember his crimes. He will pay. He must. No matter the cost, he must pay.


and while we wait for more votes on the most meaningful update yet (not this particular decision, the consequences of the calixis clusterfuck), i shall regale you with many a tale of heroism and bravery


"Behold, Dark Apostle! From atop these spires uncountable millenia gaze down on us!"

Jeremiah looked at the windswept glacier that lay in front of them, four spires of black rock emerging from its center. He had long ago lost track of how many planets they had visited, only he, Eliphas and those two idiots, disguised with the sorcery of the warp. The rest of their Legion was waiting for their signal to make planetfall and face whatever it was that protected the Tyrant Star's secret. Eliphas seemed confident that they had finally found the right place. These spires, he said, had been crafted by the very first civilization to arise in the Galaxy, and they were meant to keep the Tyrant Star at bay. Former Reclusiarch Jeremiah was not so sure he believed that; they looked like natural formations of rock to him, and the entirety of the Calixis sector was awash with ruins of ancient and forgotten civilizations. Eliphas seemed to trust whatever wisdom Ahriman had imparted upon him blindly, and this worried Jeremiah. He cared little for their mission; All he wanted was to go back to Cadia and deliver the Lorekeeper to the warp.

"You have said that countless times before, Eliphas. What makes you so sure?"

"It is the Changer of Ways himself that guides me, Dark Apostle. Do you doubt Him? He is capable of seeing all futures, all presents, all pasts. He speaks to you now, do you not hear? This is the right place."

"All I hear is the chattering of His servants, Eliphas." Said Jeremiah, and pointed to the two Blue Horrors of Tzeentch that argued uncessantly with one another atop a large disk made of shimmering metal, weighted down by volumes and volumes of scrolls, scores of parchments, and who knows how much pen and ink the two Blue Horrors carried everywhere.

"Those are the blue scribes of Tzeentch, Dark Apostle! They have been entrusted with a most sacred task! Do you still deny the wisdom of Chaos?"

"Wisdom? They have not spoken a single coherent sentence ever since Tzeentch saw fit to grant us their company."

"It is for a higher purpose that your mind, still shackled by dogma and blind faith, can divine. For now you should be content in the knowledge that we enjoy Tzeentch's favor."

"I will be content when I am in Cadia and the Lore Keeper is no more."

"All in good time, Brother. All in good time."

Eliphas scanned the glacier ahead of him, and the chilly, arid plateau that lay beyond it. The Black Library had no name for this place, a place where different realities converged. A rift in realspace. The birthplace of Komus. Could this finally be it? Would he soon be holding the key to unlocking what slept beneath Cadia? Ahriman had said this would allow them to put Magnus on the throne. To Eliphas, this seemed a worthy goal. Magnus had become old, bitter and half-insane with his corruption. But if he were to be imprisoned within the Golden Throne, he would no more be able to rule than the Corpse Emperor was. That was what Ahriman said. He would become just another living battery, his power sufficent to restart the golden throne and light the astronomican once again. Ahriman and Eliphas would rule from the shadows, an enlightened elite, guiding mankind here and there, steering it towards Chaos piecemeal. To completely merge realspace with the warp would be too much. Events would spiral out of control. There would be only utter chaos, and, Ahriman said, only oblivion awaited those who were not Chaos Gods themselves.

That is what Ahriman had told him. That the key to reaching Terra was behind a gate, and this gate was Cadia. And they key to this gate was somewhere in Calixis. And that immaterium needed to remain immaterial. But Eliphas the Inheritor knew better than to trust Azek Ahriman of the Thousand Sons. Tzeentch had chosen Eliphas for a purpose, a purpose he would fulfill. Ahriman had fallen out of favor with the Changer of Ways, and Eliphas was now his champion. Even mighty Abaddon would bow to him, one day.



The Void Dragon, now fully regenerated, watched over his servants as they stoked the furnaces and poured raw iron into the melting pots. Both techpriests and necrons wandered the multilayered surface of the Red Planet, all working in tandem and for the greater glory of their Machine God. The necrons worked tirelessly carrying material to and fro, always silent, always obedient. The Adeptus Mechanicus sometimes paused to kiss the Omnissiah's feet or to sing hymns in His Glory. The Emperor had died and been born anew inside a shell of Living Metal, that is what they believed. The Omnissiah had finally risen to bless them with His holy presence. All the manufactoria churned out weapons and armor continuously; and the shipyards were constructing vessels based on necrontyr technology using inertialess drives, capable of faster-than-light travel without using the warp. Mars was preparing for war.

The Void Dragon had talked to all of them at great length; How the Imperium had crumbled and now laboured under a false belief, worshipping a ghost Emperor while the True Emperor stood right here, in Mars, overseeing the great works of the Mechanicus. He talked to them of duty and honor, he talked to them of faith in the Omnissiah and the need to spread it; he told them that those who did not welcome the Omnissiah's blessing were heretics and traitors and needed to be purged. The Dragon told them the secrets of technology, of creating new and more powerful tools of destruction without the need for Standard Construction Templates. For the first time in milennia, the Adeptus Mechanicus were learning true science, instead of relying on their superstitious beliefs of old. The Dragon told them about the inevitable march of progress, of a civilization that needed to embrace innovation in order to thrive. He talked of how this new technology would aid them against Chaos and against all unbelievers.

The Adeptus Mechanicus were in a religious frenzy that would put to shame even the most zealous battle-brother. The skitarii underwent massive renovation; their armor was cast aside in favour of new, living metal carapaces and their normal weapons had been substituted by much more efficient gauss-based ones. The gene-seed repository that the Adeptus Mechanicus kept to nominally test the purity of Space Marines chapters was opened and gene-seed implantation processes began on children captured from all over the Sol system. With the Void Dragon's mastery of technology, the implantation process was much faster and more efficient, and after these super-humans matured they were encased in living metal, rendering them effectively indestructible, though their minds and their blind faith in the Omnissiah still remained. They were then again clad in new and improved power armor, and equipped with state of the art weaponry. A single one of these would be sufficient to fell an entire squad of normal space marines. Many of them were psychic blanks; none of them were psykers.

It would not be long before the shipyards built enough vessels to transport this mighty host straight into the heart of Terra, where the Omnissiah would sit once again atop the Golden Throne, and from there, control all the Imperium with mechanical precision, with unsullied perfection. Mighty Gauss Cannons were being built to breach Terra's defenses, along with a myriad other weapons of devastating power. Terra stood strong against the Horus Heresy, but now it stood little chance against the Void Dragon and its war host. Very soon, the Imperium would be under his rule.

The Nightbringer stood by the Void Dragon's side, watching the developments below. Though he was much smaller than his older brother, he was stronger but lacked a mind of his own. It was not difficult for the Machine God to control him.

OUR BROTHER SEEKS TO AWAKEN THE OTHER ONE IN CADIA HE WILL NOT SEE YOU SIT ATOP THE GOLDEN THRONE - Said the Nightbringer, in a graveyard tone. His voice was hollow and echoing, each word inserting itself in the sentence like a bar of lead being dropped inside a tin bath.

"Yes. The Deceiver has outlived our brotherly compassion. See to him."

The Nightbringer nodded and once again followed the Jackal God into the stars. His destination was Calixis.



The two armoured figures stared down one another. They could hardly stand, much less fight. Eventually they slumped into the organic walls that surrounded them, and let out a sigh. They had been battling for Emperor knew how many months.

"Why won't you...give up, Ignatius? I already told you. I have...no enmity towards you. You were just...At the wrong place, at the wrong...time." Wheezed Ahriman. His staff lain broken at his feet, and blood oozed from many punctures in his power armor.

"You are...an enemy of man...Ahzek. I know you...Know your kind. You care only for...power. Even if you are an enemy...of Chaos...that means you are no friend to me." Retorted the Lorekeeper, his immense bulk barely managing to keep him upright, all his servo-motors whizzing and malfunctioning, his plating dented and scorched.

It took a while for the both of them to get their breath back.

"So are we to be two immortals locked forever in an epic struggle while we wait for Cadia to awaken and Armageddon comes?" Asked Ahriman, resting his broken body against the bonewall that encircled the chamber they stood in.

"Or you could surrender." Answered the Lorekeeper, his dreadnought casing pushed against the bonewall.

"What is it you want, Ignatius? Hax has failed. Tzeentch or the C'tan will doom him one way or the other. That idiot Eliphas will never succeed without Marius. And your mentor Cain, loyal to the last, will follow his master to damnation."

"Spare me, Ahzek. I have had enough doom and gloom in the Black Templars. Can't you even try to talk properly for once? No one is watching, you know. Not even your chum Tzeentch. Be a man before you die, for the Emperor's sake."

"So? I'm not doing this for Tzeentch or any other god. I'm doing this for myself, and mankind will benefit from it. I did not come all the way here to die, I assure you. And how did you survive, hmm? I know a Lord of Change possessed you. How did you break free?"

"Ciaphas taught me a thing or two about daemons, Ahzek. Mostly how to run from them, I admit. But when you're cornered...The daemon was too weak. I gave it quite a beating, if I do say so myself. All I had to do was drag myself towards Ezekiel afterwards. No daemon can stand a Pariah."

"A parlor trick."

"It kept me alive."


"Alive enough to stop you, Ahzek."

"This is just a temporary setback."

"It looks quite permanent to me."

"Someone will come. You'll see."

"Yes? And what then? You'll hand over the Tyrant to your mad Primarch or to a hedonistic star god? How do you think that'll end? Even if they beat back the Dragon, you'll put up an abomination in the place of another."

"Eventually. But I can stall them, I can buy mankind time. I will not hand this galaxy over to neither hunger nor stupidity."

"You could barely stand up against me, Ahzek. How do you think you'll fare against a God?"

"You survived a greater daemon. Why can't I survive a being greater still? You underestimate the power of the Warp."

The Lorekeeper shrugged.

"Whether you want to admit it or not, it all comes down to us. Loyalist or heretic, zealots or sorcerers. We are all that mankind has left. And our last and best hope for that is about to be burned in the pyre of self-righteousness that your Imperium built after the Emperor struck down Horus."

"I have hope that Marius will come through in the end, Ahzek. And so should you."

"Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment."



Marius. Whatever you choose, you must know the truth. Once, when the universe was young, two brothers fought for supremacy. One was cunning, the other was powerful. The smartest one tricked the other into devouring all of its other brothers. But not even the Jackal's god cunning could foresee what abomination he would create with this deed. His brother....He became too strong. Too powerful. Too insane. So along with the Dragon, the Deceiver hatched a plan. They would trap their brother outside of our reality. In the immaterium which the C'tan hated so fiercely. They could not destroy him, so the Dragon devised a machine which was powerful enough to break the barrier between reality and the warp, and they sent their brother there. Sent him outside. And there he laid in wait, growing ever madder. But the Deceiver realized too late that even a C'tan could become attuned to the psychic symphony of the warp if he was exposed to it for too long. The outsider subtly managed to influence the materium. He found a race of peaceful, adaptable creatures who dwelled on the fringes of the milky way. He tried to change them, to control them. But he could not; He was never able to pierce the barrier of the immaterium. But he left his mark upon them with his cruel manipulation. They were no longer simple creatures trying to survive. They now had malice, they now had hunger. They now had a mind of their own. As the Hubris of the C'tan struck twice, this time, it created the Tyrant race.

That is the story of the star gods. Our own is a different one. When the Deceiver offered us "eternal life" we sought refuge with the old ones, our long time enemies. Then the Enslaver plague came and we few necrontyr who refused the Deceiver and the last living Old Ones built upon the remnants of the Void Dragon's unholy machine the Wraithbone Spires who would keep our souls intact. Which would save us, perhaps, from what was to come. But that never came to pass. The pernicious influence of the Dragon tainted the Machine, tainted our plans. While it could still draw souls together, it scattered them in the material world. That is where the Halo Devices come from. From our own attempt at salvation. The Black Library tells of this, of a Machine powerful enough to bring back the pieces of that which was destroyed. And so the Eldar sought it to revive their bloody-handed god. But we never had such luck. Most of us were driven insane inside the devices, caring only for our hunger, for our will to power, our will to life. Few of us remained that still had any sanity. And now here I stand with you, with all my lore...No wiser than before.

The Deceiver now seeks to undone the damage he caused. To destroy once and for all the Outsider, the nemesis he and his brothers created. The Emperor's death weakened the immaterium barrier enough for him to try and come through. And now he uses his the Tyrant Star as his beacon. But do not be fooled; the Deceiver won't do this only for the good of the planes. There will be a price. There always is. Whatever you choose, Marius, should you choose to join us or hand him the running of things, or even destroy this cursed machine altogether...You will not be able to stop what is to come. While the Void Dragon sits atop the Golden Throne, the Outsider will come. All that gaze upon him become only an extension of his madness. And if he is ever able to reunite with the monster he created among the Tyranids, then...

Whatever you choose, Marius, I hope you choose wisely.



Marius dragged the Deceiver's battered carcass to the top of the steps and inside the altar, all the while the Deceiver tried to dissuade him from it:

"Marius you don't understand...do you really think the old ones would help the necrontyr? Don't do this...I thought you would see through their lies, that's why I chose you...You don't know what you are doing...Look at what you've become. Stop this! Stop it before it's too late, Marius! It is not the Necrontyr you will free if you do this, you'll open the gate and--" Marius' boot hit the Deceiver in the head.

"Shut up. I don't care. I've been your pawn, a pawn of the ordos, a pawn of genestealers and malfians. It's high time I took my destiny into my own hands. From the beginning I had no control, I had no choice but to skip along like a good little servant. This time I will choose, d'you hear? I will do what needs doing. I will save mankind if I must die for it and I WILL HEAR NO MORE OF YOUR LIES!" Screamed Marius, kicking the Deceiver again and throwing him inside the altar. Lord Hax moved near the activation mechanism and felt the necrontyr device inside him prepare itself for what was to come. In the distance, he could see Khaine approaching, and both the remaining Word Bearers running toward him. They were too late. With his last breath, Marius activated the Machine before falling to the ground.


Eternal night. Nothing could be seen here. Nothing could be heard here.

"I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end!
I was angry with my foe
I told him not, my wrath did grow!"

Eliphas fell over dead.

"And I water'd it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with my smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles!"

Jeremiah let out a gasp as he felt the his soul being stripped from his body.

"And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright;
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine!"

A globe of light amidst the darkness. A figure dancing and singing a symple rhyme in the icy plateau covered in the black light of the Tyrant Star. All the eldar here cried out as their spiritstones broke and their souls were devoured.

"And into my garden stole
When the night had veil'd the pole:
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretch'd beneath the tree"

And there was light. The Nightbringer's body burst open, unleashing the raw energy within. The light of a thousand sons illuminated the dancing figure for a moment. Its face bore an amused, innocent grin. The Grim Reaper was no more.

"Oh brother, brother! If only you could see me now!" Giggled the Outsider, bringing Khaine down to his knees with the sheer power of his will.

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!

But sweet old Marius Hax, loyal to the last
He was able to bring me back oh so fast!"

Sang the dancing figure and laughed as the power of the thousands of C'tan and Souls it had consumed massed inside it and lashed out, obliterating the Bloody-Handed God instantly. The Wailing Doom stood stuck in the ground, now keening softly. There was nothing left alive on the planetoid Marius and his men had landed on. Nothing but the dancing figure.

His feet are light and nimble. He never sleeps. He says that he will never die. He dances in light and in shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.


that was what could have been.




Imperial thought for the day: There are places beyond the reach of the Emperor's light. If you ever find yourself in one of them, you are lost and damned.

"So, what do we do now, oh mighty sorceror of Tzeentch?" Asked the Lorekeeper, his faceplate level with the open jaws of a Hierophant Bio-Titan.

"I would normaly leave you here to die and run, Ignatius, but..." Answered Ahriman, staring warily at the array of bioplasma cannons spread over the creature's carapace, all of them pointing at the two tiny figures dotting the exuberant scenery that was the cadian bioplanet.

The inside of Cadia was exactly like a massive living organism. Its walls and floors were veined and had the appearance of bone. Strange pulsing columns went from the ground to the ceiling, sometimes green, other times red. Millions of tiny insects scuttled along the floors, and all maner of strange flora sprouted from the ground. The Lorekeeper and Ahriman had already encountered many Tyranid organisms of all kinds, from the smallish termagaunts to the towering Neo-Lictor Brood the force commander had fought on Cadia many months ago. They seemed unaware, or at least indifferent to their presence. Ahriman had claimed they were inside some sort of giant synapse node, a kind of psychic beacon made entirely of biomass. It was the point of origin of the Tyrant Star, created when the Outsider had tried to overpower the Hivemind and failed. Periodically, this massive Synapse Node tried to reach out to the Hivemind proper, but it never could, bound as it was to the Wraithbone Spires amidst the Halo Stars of Calixis. All it did was silently and secretly mutate normal humans into the tyrantborn, who would serve the Hivemind when it finally reunited with the Cadian Bioplanet. The Lorekeeper said that sounded very much like guesswork and too much imagination, and Ahriman shrugged. He had been inside the Black Library, after all. He ought to know something, although the Lorekeeper made a point of ignoring that assertion.

"Sound tactic for the backstabbing heretical scum that you are, Ahzek. However, seeing as you are the one glimmering in that gold and blue, it seems to me that the creature is far more likely to chase you than me. After all, not only you are shiny, you are a tasty treat. I'm a pile of rust."

"Indeed. You won't be like that for long, you know. The psychic emission of this place is massive. It mutates everything. You'll soon see your limbs growing back, your organs regenerating...and probably turn into claws and toxin sacs" Added Ahriman, as an afterthought.

"Oh, and I imagine Tzeentch will protect you from that? He doesn't want to be outdone on the whole mutation aspect, I presume."

"Oh, no, no at all. The Emperor Protects" Said Ahriman, making the sign of the Aquila.

"Enough. Why has this thing taken an interest in us, anyway? All other xenos have ignored us so far. Now this...this creature just stands there, doing nothing, although it seems to be ready to strike at any time."

"We are getting close, I suspect. There should be guardians."

"Close to what, Ahzek?"

Ahriman shrugged.

"Something important? I'm not a xenologist. This place must have a heart or something of the like. Maybe if we destroy it, we can slow the swarm somewhat. And get back to the surface. I need to make contact with the Deathwatch troopers there."

"I'm sorry? You want to talk to the Inquisition?" Exclaimed the Lorekeeper, reigning in his anger of the executors of his Chapter out of sheer surprise.

"I'm sure they'll be reasonable. Silas is a reasonable man." Answered Ahriman, smiling inside his helmet.

The Lorekeper wondered if he should tell the helmeted abomination that without a head it is difficult to be a man, let alone reasonable, but his musings were interrupted by a buzzing sound from the Hierophant. It seemed to be trying to scratch its own back or reach it with its scything claws, but it required more flexibility. The creature's buzzing turned into screeching as drops of green ichor started to flow down from the top of its carapace, and it immediately stopped paying attention to the two bickering marines, shaking itself frantically and attempting to rake its back against the wall. Its bioplasma cannons fired wildly and hit the ceiling and walls, from which more green ichor oozed. Eventually one of the creature's eyesockets exploded and it let out a howling scream that turned both the marines deaf for a moment and shook the ground. Half of the creature's head erupted in a ball of plasma and it fell to the ground, dead. From atop its carcass leapt a power-armoured figure wearing a robe covered in green Ichor, sheating two pistols at its waist.

"Shall we, gentlemen? I think others will be along any time. Facing a Hierophant dead on might be even beyond my abilities."

The Lorekeeper and the Sorcerer looked at one another, and both raised their weapons towards the figure, who opened his arms and spread out his palms in a conciliatory fashion before exclaiming:

"I just saved you!"

The Loreekeper looked up, past the creature's corpse. There was a small hole in the bonewall ceiling, small enough for a man...wearing power armor to drop stealthily in the back of a tyranid bio-titan and kill it armed only with two pistols?

"That was some mighty fine shootin' " The Loreekeper's wonderings were interrupted by Ahriman's interjection in a faux-Cadian lowbrow accent "But you neglected to consider that they are everywhere down here, Dark Angel"

The Dark Angel Marine looked beyond Ahriman and saw the swarm coming, attracted by the dying screeches of their bigger kin. They were no longer indifferent to the two outsiders, and there were so many of them as to perhaps earn a Hive Fleet name of their own. Only two exits were visible from the chamber they were in. One was surrounded by the strange pulsing red columns, and the other seemed simply another bonewall passageway. A foul smell was coming from the passageway, while Ahriman warned that the psychic emissions were even stronger in the red-columned aperture. He said that probably meant that would take them closer to whatever it was they were searching, but it would also mean more guardians. Presumably stronger.

"Stronger than a Hierophant? What're you hoping to find here, the sodding Swarmlord itself?" Asked the Dark Angel.

Ahriman shrugged. The Lorekeeper remained regarding the Power Armoured man critically.

Do you go right, towards the red-columns and the psychic emissions?


Do you go left, towards the foul-smelling passage?


Show Spoiler

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?



A voice asked a question.

"The Lord Cypher, Keeper of Secrets of the Monastic Order of the Dark Angels" Answered Lion'el Jonson to the towering figure clad in gold in front of him.

"Monastic Order, my son? You are a Legion of the Adeptus Astartes, not a chapter of monks."

"But it is your will that guides us in battle, Father. We must believe in your designs, we must cultivate that faith in quiet contemplation."

The God-Emperor of Mankind sighed; he was tired of having this discussion over and over again with so many of his primarchs. Had he not asked for warriors? The galaxy burned while people opted to pray for guidance instead of reloading their guns. And that was not the worst of it. Mankind's finest scientists and engineers turned cultists in Mars...He turned his attention towards the smaller man in the room, the Lord Cypher.

"And what of you, Keeper of Secrets? Do you believe that faith in my designs will guide you safely through battle?"

The Lord Cypher checked patted both sides of his belt, bolter and plasma pistols holstered, and looked the Emperor squarely in the eye.

"I've yet to see a prayer change the path of a bullet...Your Majesty."

The Primarch of the Dark Angels was visibly enraged by this, but the Emperor grinned mischievously. That was twelve thousand years ago. And do you see where that brought you, Fallen Angel?

The Lord Cypher opened his eyes with some difficulty; his entire body ached. He was inside a roughly spherical structure made of granite and glass, countless transparent chambers stretching in every direction visible by the red light of ancient torches. The Sorcerer and the Dreadought were nowhere to be seen. But there had been a voice in his head...

"I am still here, traitor!"

Cypher rolled out of the sword's path as it cut through glass and rock, the sparks off its blade framing his Primarch's malevolent expression in front of him.

"Repent! For now you die!" Roared Lion'el Jonson, swinging his sword once again.

"I have left you and yours guarding our sacred homeworld and you have forgotten the Emperor's Light, Keeper of Secrets! Worship faltered and disappeared as you looked to yourselves instead of Him whom you serve! Heretics!"

Cypher drew his phase knife and deflected the sword's blow. He looked at the expression of righteous fury that his Primarch bore. And he remembered. He could hear the children screaming outside, the sizzle of wood as it burned. The Siege of Caliban. The Dark Angel's shame.

Luther's body lay in a pool of blood by the Primarch's side, as did a dozen other space marines with their helmets and skulls cracked open. Yes. Lion'el Jonson believed they were heretics because Cypher had told them that prayer alone would not keep Horus at bay. The Dark Angels of the future would strike that passage from the tomes of history, would attribute Luther's fall to the Dark Gods. Gods! Cypher laughed as he got up and prepared to square off against his former Primarch.

"Lay down your arms, unbeliever, and bow before the one true God, the Emperor of Mankind! Do so, and you may yet redeem yourself." Said Jonson, his sword pointing toward's Cypher's chestplate.

So history had seen fit to give him another chance, then? He knew what came next in that other world he had left behind when he stepped inside Cadia. Jonson would fall and Caliban would burn regardless; Cypher himself would strike a pact with the Ruinous Powers, believing there was still hope left for the Imperium. But after twelve thousand years, had he accomplished anything? He had accepted a measure of corruption and yet he was no closer to what he had believed were the Emperor's designs then as he was now. Maybe Jonson had been right? The Dark Angels were no heretics when the Primarch came to Caliban, but Cypher certainly became one after that. Even if he had bowed before no God, gave none of them anything other than scorn. Twelve milennia had he lived by the sword as the Imperium rotted. A chance at redemption...If nothing else, at least his soul would be his own again.

Do you bow before the God-Emperor and redeem yourself?


Do you stand by what you believe?



"No. If this is the Emperor's Will made manifest, then there is nothing to worship...Primarch." Answered Cypher, looking at the bodies around the Primarch. His pistols fired simultaneously. All went black. As Cypher had done twelve millenia before, he killed his Primarch once again in this dream-world.

"He's coming to, Ahzek"

"Sane, is he?" Ahriman was unsheating the sword that the Lord Cypher carried with him at all times.

"How should I know?"

"I don't know, tell him a Slaaneshi anecdote or something, see if he screams...Hmm, I remember this sword. The Lion's sword, Lion'el Jonson's sword. A sacred relic to the Dark Angels, I believe. I fought alongside the man. He was somewhat narrow-minded. Shame it's all rust now."

"I have heard tales about it. It is said to be the mightiest weapon in the Imperium, cutting through steel and rock as if it were silk. Is it true, do you think?"

Ahriman regarded it critically and, after a moment's pause, smashed it against a nearby wall. The blade disintegrated as dust blew through the room they were in.

"Even the finest blade is nothing more than hammered iron in the hands of a fool." Said Ahriman contemplatively "And Jonson was a pious fool. The Emperor berated him and Lorgar constantly for their 'understanding' of the Imperial Creed."

The Lord Cypher woke up with a scream and immediately fixed his eyes upon the sword-handle in ahriman's hand.

"What have you done?!" He cried out weakly.

"I have relieved you of your burden, Lord Cypher of the Dark Angels. Now there is no redemption for you. Fight for what you believe, and nothing else. The past is not as important as you'd think. Why are you here, fallen angel?"

"I...I came with the Black Ship...snuck in...The Emperor ordered it with his dying breath."

"So you managed to murder him at last, eh? Not bad."

"No. He was already dying when I breached the throne room...The custodes were immobile, struck down by a power I cannot fathom. There was only a withered corpse in a golden chair. It told me to come here. To track you down." Answered Cypher to the Sorcerer, defiantly.

"Track me down? How thoughtful of him. Perhaps he remembered the time I warned him about Magnus' stubborness regarding sorcery. Perhaps he thought I can still do some good for his doomed Imperium. He is wrong, alas. I have no intention of saving humanity or whatever passes for it these days."

"Then why are you here, sorcerer?" Asked the Loreekeper in a thoughtful voice.

"I have scores of my own to settle. Come...'Brothers', I have deciphered this place's secret. After we were ejected at high speed from that narrow corridor, we landed here...You hit your head, Lord Cypher, and I was rather worried that you might come back as a hivemind's pawn. 'tis good to see it ain't so. But we have business to attend to. This place...Cadia itself, is an egg. An immense incubation chamber for a new hive fleet. It was separated from the Hivemind when the Outsider toyed with it, and now, the Hivemind seeks to awaken it, to rejoin its biomass with the rest of the Tyrant Swarm. It has evolved separately, and under the influence of the Eye of Terror, it has created truly terrifying strains of monsters. We must destroy it."

"And how do you propose to go about it? Smash wall by wall until it falls?"

"As I said before, there must be a center, a heart to this thing. In fact, we are standing very close to it" Said Ahriman, pointing to the massive spherical structure visible in the distance; It glowed with a purplish light, and seemed to be composed of some sort of liquid.

"Hyperdense biomatter and genetic code. The heart of this swarm. If we can taint it somehow, or disrupt it..." Ahriman left the sentence unfinished.

The Loreekeeper was silent. But Lord Cypher was scanning the room, looking for something. Eventually, he found it.

"There is another way. We can make our way back to the surface through those apertures over there" He pointed at the ceiling "And use the Black Ship's weapons load to put an end to this planet once and for all."

"Indeed? Do you think a couple of cyclonic torpedoes will be enough to destroy it? They won't. This place will regenerate, much like a living organism."

"But Black Ships carry other weapons for Exterminatus. Virus Bombs, for instance. They should be enough to put an end to this threat, should they not? They consume all life, tyranid-based or not."

"We would need quite a lot of them. Was Silas Marr carrying that many?"

"I do not know" Said Cypher "But it won't hurt to find out.

"Yes. Yes it will. We have precious little time before the hive fleet hatches. Either we go after your virus bombs, or we undermine this place from within. We cannot afford to doubleback if one of the options does not work. What do you think, Ignatius?"

The Lorekeeper sighed, and answered:

"I agree with Ahriman. The best way is to destroy this place from within."

or did you say...

"I agree with Cypher. Let us seek out and bombard this place from orbit with the Viral Loads."



"I agree with Cypher. Let us seek out the Black Ship and bombard this place from orbit. And if we can kill a few deathwatch marines on the way...Well, I won't shed a tear for the Emperor's finest."

Ahriman looked up, glaring at the Dreadnought's face plate with the remains of the Lion's Sword still in his hands. He said something under his breath, shrugged, and tucked the ornate sword handle inside his power armor. Spreading his arms wide in front of him, he spoke in a melancholic tone:

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Ignatius. It's been a good run, I think, you and I. I shall miss you after I am done."

As Ahriman enshrouded himself with power from the warp, both Cypher and the Lorekeeper fired at him, their projectiles disintegrating far before reaching the sorcerer. They were levitated off the ground and then accelerated at terminal velocity towards the ceiling, puncturing it with a resounding blow and disappearing from sight. Ahriman let the warp overbleed earth itself on the numerous synaptic nodes that sprouted from the ground in the vast hall, and proceeded towards the Heart of the Planet, the purple sphere of matter and energy that hovered above the ground some miles away. He took out the handle of the Lion's Sword and regarded it for a while.

"The Emperor sent him to track me down?" Ahriman asked to the thin air, still looking at the remains of the mightiest sword Man had ever wielded. Then he shrugged, and walked on.

Cypher rolled out of the rubble with a groan, the light blinding his eyes for a moment before he could accustom his sight to sunlight once more. They were above ground. His armor was broken and useless, as were most of his limbs. He looked at the dreadnought nearby. The massive steel walker was immobile, cracked all over, bits and pieces of its structure strewn around it. One of the legs had come off and the power-fisted arm was crushed beyond repair. Cypher crawled in agonizing pain towards it, trying to call out the Lorekeeper's name. But his throat was dry and his jaw shattered; he could not speak. He looked around; The soil of the planet was covered in a purplish-green grass that extended throughout the surface of Cadia as far as he could see. A greenish vapor swirled above the hole they had been just ejected from. Pain and fatigue overtook Cypher as he tried to move, and eventually, he just gave up. He was dying. The sun went down. Ignatius Helfrich, Sword-Brother of the Black Templars and later Lore Keeper of the Nameless Chapter, died. Battlebrother Leonidas Roxoros, Lord Cypher of the Dark Angels and later Fallen Angel, died. It would be nice to be able to say that they saw a light.

As the sun dawned a third time, they came back to life. Cypher looked around to see two silvery figures dragging out the body of the Lorekeeper out of his dreadnought. The body seemed...intact? When Cypher looked up, a sleek, featureless face with two glowing green dots as eyes looked down at him. Event though its face was merely a metal mask and could not possibly convey any expression, it nevertheless managed to radiate a weariness weighed down with centuries of history. Cypher took in the view. A Necron Lord, its ragged cape blowing in the soft Cadian wind, was looking down at him, its hands resting on the Staff of Light that signalled its rank.


The Necron Lord helped Cypher to his feet. He was naked; his power-armor had been stripped from him and lay in a small pile next to his feet, with both his pistols atop it. Some of his weapons were still missing, however...From the crash? Cypher scratched his head, and headed over to the body of the now-living Lore Keeper. He was breathing heavily and his eyes were closed, but he was quite obviously alive and whole. He prodded him gently, and the man stirred, but remained comatose. Cypher looked towards the Horizon; In the distance, the jet-black shape of Silas Marr's ship was still visible amidst the wreckage of the spaceport. He could not see any deathwatch troopers. As he shifted his gaze and took in the Cadian panorama, he could see many Pylons still standing. He turned around, only to find the Necron Lord watching him with what he guessed was an interested expression.

"Why have you kept us alive...necron?"

The Necron Lord shrugged.

"Our intention is to destroy this planet and everything in it. I thought the tyranids that escaped from the Underhive had already taken care of the necron's forces on the surface. I see none of them here, however, and many Pylons are still standing. What happened?"

The Lord shrugged again.

"So what do you want with us?"


"And after that? Will you kill us? Deliver us to this 'Dragon' you speak of?"

The Lord Shrugged again.

Deep beneath the surface of the planet, two blue horrors of Tzeentch were hovering near Ahriman, waiting for him to finish his incantation so they could scribe in their vile parchments the last spell Tzeentch had woven, the Spell of Creation.

Do you accept the Lord's offer?


Do you not?




"I think we can do this by ourselves, alien."

The Lord shrugged.


Just a hint of contempt escaped the Necron's hollow monotone. The Lord and its soldiers turned toward the nearest pylon and started their slow and silent march. Cypher searched the pile of equipment the aliens had left at their feet, only to discover that his armor was well beyond repair. His pistols were still functional, however, so he took those and slung the still-comatose Lorekeeper over his back, heading north.

...with the six secrets of Slaanesh...for my brother.

Cypher found a pile of Deathwatch Terminator armours very neatly aligned over the frozen tundra. The occupants were nowhere to be seen. He shrugged, and started putting on a suit. After a few minutes, the Lorekeeper came to. He stood for a while admiring his regenerated body and then followed Cypher's lead. He took a power sword and a bolt pistol from the heap, and used the power sword to engrave the symbol of the Black Templar's sword-brethren on his left shoulder pad. Cypher added a chainsword to his waist as an afterthought and holstered his pistols. Both of them stared at each other and nodded slightly. Then they resumed their march towards the Black Ship.

...with the seven plagues of Nurgle...for my father.

The two space marines stood in front of the Black Ship and watched as the autocannon turrets on each side of the lowered entrance ramp targeted them. After scanning their armor, their machine spirits went back to hibernation. The Lorekeeper and the Lord Cypher entered the Black Ship's lower holds. There was not a soul in sight, and no sound apart from the buzzing of the Logic Engines. They proceeded as cautiously as anyone can in full terminator armour, their steps clanging loudly against the metal of the ship's decks. Cypher said that they should try to take-off and drop the Exterminatus Load from orbit. He knew where the bridge was. The Lorekeeper followed him.

...with the eight blades of Khorne...for my legion.

They reached the bridge. It was intact. Facing the immense holovisor that functioned as a view screen for the ship's bow was the Navigator's chair. The bridge was massive, its plasteel and ceramite walls well over thirty meters in height, covered from top to bottom in dials and pict-projectors. Only a Techpriest Magos would be able to make sense of this. This was most certainly not an ordinary ship. The bridge was roughly circular and its diameter amounted to perhaps 100 meters. Cypher squinted; at the far end of the bridge, the Navigator's chair begun to swivel towards them.

...with the nine signs of Tzeentch...for myself.

Two appendages slowly rose from the Navigator's chair. They were black and looked very much like the scything talons of the Neo-Lictors. Then the creature rose from its chair, its massive bulging head hanging back limply from a muscled neck. Two slanted red eyes and another one at its forehead, and a mouth that was obscured by barbed tentacles sprouting from the creature's upper lips. Its skull was protuding from under the pale, scaly skin, and its jawbone was hanging loose beneath the tentacles. Rows of sharp teeth crowned it. As the creature unfolded itself, another pair of arms became apparent; they were humanoid in shape, and many sigils and manacles engraved with holy writ were hanging from them, broken. The creature's abdomen was stretched taut and slit open in places; masses of blood-red intestines flailed from these openings. As its stretched its legs, its height reached almost that of the bridge's walls. The few scraps of clothing that still hung from its deformed limbs bore both the sigil of the Navis Nobilite and the Inquisitorial Rosette. It roared, and the slits in its abdomen expanded; the slithering tentacles within them expelled a half-digested deathwatch marine, corrosive acid dripping from his melting muscles.

And with the Mighty Lion's Sword, reforged by my power, I claim the Heart of the Swarm for the Changer of Ways.

Ahriman stepped over the slain corpse of the Hive Tyrant of Komus and plunged the Lion Sword's handle, reforged with the phase blade he had taken from the unconscious Cypher, into the purplish sphere of biomass that was at the core of Cadia.

"Don't stare into its eyes!" Cried Cypher as he narrowly avoided a lunging stab from one of the scything talons. He drew his pistols and fired. They both hit their mark, and the creature screeched in pain as its third eye exploded in a shower of gore. Its skull split, revealing a gaping maw of teeth and barbed tentacles. Cypher tumbled sideways and tried to shoot again, but the terminator armour was too clumsy and one of the scything talons impaled his leg, pinning him. The Lorekeeper was firing wildly with his bolt pistol, waiting for an opening to strike with the power sword. Cypher managed to slash off the scything talon from his leg with his chainsword only to be hit squarely in the chest by a vicious spray of bioplasma. His terminator armour was melting, the liquefying metal dripping in his naked skin.

Ahriman stood back and watched as the sphere of biomass shrunk and was eventually entirely absorbed by his sword. Left in its place, ethereal symbols hung in the air. The blue scribes were quick to draw them in their parchment. This was it. The last spell. All throughout the planet, the screams and agony of trillions of dying organisms filled the endless corridors of the Hive. The synaptic nodes withered and died around Ahriman, and as the ethereal symbols faded away, a rift into warpspace opened in their place.

Cypher fired with abandon, crawling towards the creature and hoping to attract its attention. Blood oozed from its wounds. The Lorekeper saw his opening. He launched himself against one of the creatures legs, stabbing it with the power sword, and using it as leverage to climb towards the creature's back. As soon as the creature noticed what he was trying to do, he would be dead. But better to die here...He saw Cypher giving him a final salute and charging the creature with his chainsword and plasma pistol, the shots missing their mark but drawing the creature's attention. As Cypher stepped into meelee range, the creature's slithering intestines swallowed him whole. Just enough of a distraction for the Lorekeeper to plunge his sword once again in the creature's back, and climb towards its head. He was now dangling freely from the sword, the creature violently trashing about and trying to slice him with its remaining scything appendage. Then the creature spoke, and flame filled Helfrich's vision.

As the rift expanded, it took in all of the central chamber of Cadia where its heart had stood moments before. The blue scribes screeched with glee as they sensed the arrival of their master. Ahriman stood impassively, the murderous sword planted in the ground before him. Globes of colored light starting to pass through the warp rift. It was impossible to tell what color they were; they did not so much as change as were all colors mixed in one, reflecting off each other to create a spectrum of light that was never meant for mortal eyes. It could not be described, only perceived. These colours were not of this world, of any world. The globes changed shape, expanding, contracting, growing edges and retracting them. Ahriman looked on.

Chaosfire whipped around the Lorekeeper's body as he made his final climb, his armour cracking and melting. He managed to get one of his mailed fists around the creature's massive neck, and with one swift swing, he cut off the creature's head with his power sword. He fell to the ground as the abomination that had once been a Daemonhost Navigator exploded in a cloud of corrosive bile and warpfire, burning him to the bone. He coughed blood and crawled towards the Navigator's dais, knowing what he was looking for. He had ordered many a Exterminatus before. Cypher's charred skull rolled towards him, grinning.

Ahriman was now with his back turned towards his master, sword in hand.


Ahriman slowly took off his helmet, still with his back towards the entity that was speaking. Twelve thousand years. And here I am. The Emperor has delivered me his sword. The sword reforged with the agony of trillions of dying souls that had never had a voice, powered by the ancient technology of the Star Gods and their Pylons. A sword without a history, a sword without a purpose.


With his dying breath, Ignatius Helfrich managed to activate the Exterminatus Systems on the Black Ship. He was not in orbit. It did not matter. It would fire all its load, cyclonic torpedoes and viral bombs, and destroy this cursed planet at last. His only regret was that he had not done it sooner. Snapping off a salute to whatever was left of Cypher, he closed his eyes and waited.

Ahriman turned around. His face was horribly mutated; clusters of eyes with vertical pupils covered most of it and ended just above his mouth, a grotesque caricature that extended from ear to ear and hung wide open, tipped with teeth made of sculpted flesh. Where there should be hair were avian quills, colored blue and a repulsive yellow. The Mark of Tzeentch.


Ahriman paused and looked at his master Tzeentch in all its everchanging glory. He raised his sword.

"Fuck you."

The Architect of Fate never stood a chance against that fateless blade. The Changer of Ways was no more.

The viral bombs detonated, consuming all life on the planet. The cyclonic torpedoes detonated soon after, tearing the planet apart. Ahzek Ahriman of the Thousand Sons smiled as the psychic backlash of Tzeentch's death flayed his flesh, closing the warpspace rift and sealing the fate of Cadia once and for all. There was only dust left where once stood the proudest planet in the Imperium of Man.




Eliphas and Jeremiah watched as the Eldar took to the stars, the bloody-handed god leading them. The battlefield was a huge stain of crimson in the glacier they stood. The ancient wraithbone spires that once served as manacles to the Mad God and its progeny now stood shattered, the Machine broken beyond repair. No plan had come to fruition this day. Not the Outsider's, not the Deceiver's, not Tzeentch's. A series of unfortunate events had led to the most improbable of all outcomes; the rousing of a mind so ancient and so alien that none of the deities of this grim universe had ever deigned possible to understand. The Tyrant Star was now long gone from this reality, its frantic attempts to communicate with its progenitor finally answered. And from that union an egg was hatching in Cadia, an egg that stood facing the Eye of Terror and thus the warp itself. Eliphas wondered what would Ahriman do. Tzeentch's designs were unknowable, he knew that much, and he doubted if the Changer of Ways ever meant for the Word Bearers to achieve victory upon this icy plateau. He saw the blue scribes recovering something from the wraithbone spires; jotting down notes on their parchments, examining the engraving on the structures. Another spell of the Chaos God of Change. The Spell of Binding, only visible when the shackles were broken. Eliphas smiled. He was still the Champion of Chaos, after all. With Tzeentch's favor, he would finally replace Abaddon.

Jeremiah was harboring no such thoughts. As he looked at the thousands upon thousands of bodies, alien and human alike, he meditated merely on the nature of war. He had been a warrior all his life; When he did not fight with sword or Crozius, he fought with the zeal of the Emperor's chosen. Even now this zeal was not gone, though it was no longer dedicated to Emperor. Or even to Chaos, Jeremiah mused, as he considered the bodies of the fallen. Man’s reason may well approach the infinite in capacity but his knowledge remains imperfect and howevermuch he comes to value his judgements ultimately he must submit them before a higher court. Here there can be no special pleading. No, indeed. There must be a higher court, a court to judge that which man himself cannot. That is why Jeremiah was so firm of his purpose, so intent in his zeal. If there was no power that be, than Man's existence could never be justified, could never be a straight path towards salvation. And salvation, in Jeremiah's eyes, was merely deliverance. Mankind had waged countless millenia of war against itself and against its foes, hardly ever taking the time to make the distinction, and yet still it remained. Indeed, the whole of existence was intent on warring with itself. But if the war was purposeless, than the whole of existence was wasted. A higher court was needed, and it mattered not if it was presided from a golden chair or a throne of skulls. Jeremiah Believed because he did not dare not to. In the grim darkness of the forty-second millenium, there had to be a place where there was no appeal, where the truth was laid bare and the strongest were justified because they were in the right. Strong a body, strong a mind.

In the end, he realized that the lorekeeper had done for him what he himself could never do. In the dreadnought's feeble heresy, Jeremiah was now able to see the greater one, the great lie. Those who said that there was no truth. That the struggle of the gods was a struggle for power. That there could be compromise between the believer and the non-believer, between the doubting and the zealous. This was the great heresy. When faced with the word of god, there could be no compromise, no middle-ground. You could only be right or wrong. Jeremiah had every intention to be in the right. He took off his helmet and watched the blue scribes of Tzeentch teleport away to whatever was their next destination in their search for Truth. He let his chainaxe fall to the ground and picked up the Crozius Arcanum of a slain Blood Raven's chaplain. He approached Eliphas with a smile on his lips.

ACT 3:


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Captain's Log, stardate: third of march, 001.M43

"We have finished our monthly patrol around the Black Hole formed after the destruction of the Planetoid TS-0 that engulfed the star cluster known as the Halo Stars some eight hundred years back. Hawking Radiation readings are normal, as are its spin and debris ring. It is slowly expanding inside the expected projections. No signs of unusual activity were found during this patrol. The data herein is to be forwarded to the Adeptus Astronomica at Terra and then to the Administratum, as per the Emperor's express orders."

The data was delivered as ordered, and then forwarded to the Emperor himself. He was pleased, much like he had been for the last millenium. He then turned to his Webway to watch events unfold in a place far away and of little concern to him at the moment. It should prove amusing, however. The Emperor was constantly amused.

"Heed my words, unbelievers, carried to your mind by the power of the Prince of Excess himself. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our God. Veterans of ten millennia of unholy war wait to grind you beneath the treads of their mighty boots. The chosen of Chaos hunger to add you to their bloody tally. The Great Enemy himself has marked this land and shall claim your skulls for his throne. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Lay down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos Undivided." Boomed the towering figure. It wore plain black power armor and a had a skull-shaped helmet. There were no markings or ornaments on it apart from the eight-pointed star of chaos etched on its right pauldron. The Warmaster of Chaos bore no heraldry, carried no wargear apart from his warhammer, the same one that had smashed Abaddon's skull almost three centuries before. On either side of him were two more chaos space marines, their armors entirely white and their helmets plain. They were called the Traitor Twins, souls that had bartered with Chaos for the good of mankind and ultimately were lost to it. The Warmaster used them to remind his enemies that even in its lack of faith, all of life was ultimately property of the Warp; Only by embracing it there could be redemption.

This enemy, however, was different. The Great God did not demand from them neither loyalty nor worship; it had a claim to their very souls, their very essence, and unopposed, none could prevent Him from enforcing this claim. Thousands upon thousands of Dark Eldar died in the first day of the Scourging of Commorragh. The genocide lasted little more than a week, and when all was over, only one dark eldar remained whole. Azdrubael Vect, leader of the Dark Heart Kabal and Leader of the Dark Eldar Race finally joined the Great Enemy as His eternal plaything. But the Warmaster cared little for the fate of these xenos scum. Another war won meant another truth discovered. In his eternal battlefield, in his court of no appeal, the Warmaster claimed yet another victory for Chaos. Now the Great God was strong enough. Now Chaos was truly undivided and an ancient score settled. And now that a thousand years had passed, Fateweaver would return to counsel the Changer of Secrets, the Keeper of Ways, the Great God of Chaos on how to proceed. Now it was time to launch the fourteenth, and final, Black Crusade. But Jeremiah faced a difficult decision: Should he choose to pursue the Traitor Primarch Magnus, who had joined the cause of his returned brothers and now sought to create a resistance strong enough to overthrow the Dragon, or should he ignore this insignificant threat and attack the New Imperium head-on? He was confident that Slaanesh would eventually answer that; He might even choose to pursue His other claim and go against the remaining craftworlds and Khaine.

The Seer Council of Ulthwé was almost instantly anihilated by the psychic backlash when he turned his Skull-Shaped helmet towards them, still standing in the bloodied barren land of Commorragh, and spoke "And you would do well to hear my warnings too, Farseers, for your doom is sure to come.". All the Craftworlds were watching developments with fear; Even with the Bloody-Handed God at their side, this new Warmaster seemed capable of eluding them and scoring victory after victory, doing more in three centuries than Abaddon had done in millenia. Biel-Tan had already fallen, and now they knew why. He could See them as well. This sent a wave of panic and hysteria throughout the craftworlds, who were robbed of their most precious skill: the capacity to influence Fate. Even though the Farseers still had the gift of True Sight, it could no longer be relied upon. Between the Dragon's aura of negative warp energy and Slaanesh's new ability to mislead them, their fate in the coming war was uncertain at best. Still, they persevered. Exarchs honed in a millenium of bloody war lead their mighty hosts and Khaela Mensha Khaine guided their hand. It remained to be seen if this would be enough.

The Void Dragon himself, however, was not too concerned. Between Chaos and Eldar, between the returning of the Primarchs and the appearance of a Warboss with a quite weird Weirdboy, between the coming of the Hive Fleets...Between all of them stood the Emperor of Man, the Omnissiah, the Machine God, the Void Dragon. The only thing that had ever caused the new Emperor to experience fear was safely locked away in a place where none could reach. He sat atop the Golden Throne smiling his thin little smile and watched as the pieces fell into place. He had rebuilt the Imperium; now it was time to put it to the test.



Imperial thought for the day: Blind faith is the bane of progress

"Prime Minister. What can I do for you today?" Said the Void Dragon, dressed in his usual imperial regalia; an ornate, black-and-white Lord Commissar uniform reminiscent of Victorian times with a dark military trenchcoat thrown over it for good measure, and the golden sash of the Order of Terra across his chest. His golden crown lay atop one of the armrests of the Throne.

"Your Majesty." The Prime Minister gave a slight bow "There are business to be discussed, and I'm afraid not all of it is pleasant. If would you care to join me in the Council Chambers?"

"Most certainly, Prime Minister." The Emperor rose from the Golden Throne, towering above the much smaller prime minister, and checking that his sabre was fitted in its scabbard, followed the Prime Minister.

"The good news first, Sire. The genetic purification program that you devised seems to be reaching its last stages. Psykers and mutants have become almost non-existant, and those very few that are found are led by the Black Ships of the Ministry of Integrity and Morals to the Adeptus Terra, where they are dealt with accordingly."

Yes. I feed on their souls.

"Your agressive campaign against superstition and loose thinking has, after one millenium, bore fruit. Not a single member of the common populace believes that the Warp or Chaos exists, and consider psykers and the like to be old tales, mythological figures of Terra's dark past. Scientific thinking flourishes, as new and improved technologies are discovered every day. The fine arts experienced a boom as the formerly oppressive governmental policy on creativity has been lifted, and morale all across the Imperium is at an all time high. I say this without fear of error that we are experiencing the Renaissance of Man."

"Excellent. Do go on."

"The inertialless drive technology has allowed us to faster-than-light travel without resorting to the Warp. That, combined with your agressive policy against psykers and the rise in the number of psychic blanks, strategically deployed across the Imperium, have made warp phenomena a very rare ocurrence. When they do ocurr, we are quick to handle the situation and establish it was no more than misinterpreted ordinary phenomena or excitable witnesses. Chaos incursions in the far reaching worlds are dealt with summarily; The worlds are submitted to immediate Exterminatus and all the witnessess are...disappeared. As I've said before, no one believes Chaos to be real anymore. Although Chaos has been quiet for the last three centuries."

"Indeed. What of our war against the xenos? How have the people received it?"

"The war and subsequent anihilation of the Tau proved to be a mixed blessing for the people. Although we did try to engage them in negotiations regarding their technology, they were intent on expansion and in their ideal of the "Greater Good", something that the people simply could not accept. How can there be any Greater Good than Your rule, majesty? Quality of life across the Imperium has improved a thousandfold. The economy is solid and dynamic. The concept of a lower or 'exploited' class has been banished from the minds of the people. All can eat, all can enjoy their lives; they have dignified jobs and quality recreation. There is not a single voice that would rise against you. With the technological improvements of this new era, we are at the brink of a post-scarcity society."

"Indeed, and thank you for that, Prime Minister. But the war?"

"Ah, yes, the war. Well, people thought it was a shame that the aliens, who seemed reasonable, had to be killed. But such is the way of things. We made sure that people believed that genocide was the only option, that the Tau would not back down. As for the war agains the so-called Necrons...well, that was a resouding success. They were abominations, after all, and when you yourself lead our armies in battle against them, the people said the mere sight of you made these metal beasts cower in fear, their weapons firing erratically, their so-called 'miracle of undying' never once taking place."

The Emperor smiled at this.

"But not all news is good news, Your Majesty. There is...troubling data from the Adeptus Arcana, our agents. It seems that after the death of Warboss Ghazgkull, two other orks have been fighting for his position as supreme boss of the Waaagh. One is well-known and has faced Imperial Forces before in Kaurava, Lorn V and Kronus. The other one, whose name is not known, is apparently aided by a psychic ork that has led him to countless victories. On the fringes of the Ultima Segmentum, many Imperial Planets are being beset by these beasts and used as battlegrounds."

"Troubling. Can't the Astartes deal with these pests?"

"We have dispatched the V Legion, formerly White Scars, to deal with them. They should give us a sitrep shortly. There is also the matter of the Eldar. They have finished the construction of their new massive craftworld in the Webway, called 'Ynnead', and based around a Blackstone Fortress. It seems they are preparing for war, although we do not know if it will be against us or their Great Enemy."

"Interesting. What else?"

"The Resistance led by the Traitor Primarch Magnus has been growing in power in the Ultima Segmentum as well, most specifically around the recruiting world of Valhalla. Leman Russ and his Space Wolves, as well as Vulkan and his Salamanders and two other unknown Primarchs have already joined their ranks. And there is the matter of the hive fleets. We have at least four inbound to our galaxy, though they do not seem to follow any particular pattern."

"Hmm. What of Chaos?"

"I'm afraid that about that we know very little. The nature of the Warp has changed over the millenium, but we cannot investigate this further without compromising our populace's belief in science over superstition."

Ah. But I can. And I do know what they are up to, do I not?

"Very well, Prime Minister. Is there anything else?"

"No, sire. That is all for today."

"Good. Please do not let me detain you any further. I shall return to my chambers and think upon things."

The two men bowed to each other slightly, the Prime Minister's bow dipping lower than the Emperor's. Then they parted ways. From his balcony, the Emperor looked upon Terra below. A hiveworld buzzing with activity, with creation, with the fumes of industry and the soft strokes of brush upon canvas. With plays and poems, with bold enterpreneurs and their never-ending search for a good idea and a good merchandise. Yes. This Imperium, freed from the shackles of old thinking and tradition, was experiencing a renaissance unique in its history. Across the galaxy, trillions of souls no longer lived in poverty, in fear of daemons or the Inquisition. They carried on with their lives, lived their routine, and were content with it. Brilliant minds here and there researched and created new ways to improve what was already near perfection. For the price of the souls of the unwanted and the truths that need not be told, the Dragon had created an Utopia beyond the previous Emperor's wildest imaginations. But now he needed to turn his attention to those who would seek to destroy it, confident that none of them could. But he could not afford to ignore them.

Would you like to turn your attention to:












Imperial thought for the day: The Emperor requires only that you think.


"By the prickin' of me teef, somfin' wikkid..." Madhatta paused and looked blank.

"Somfin' wikkid wot?" Asked the Warboss. He was wearing a tophat with a chain-bladed brim and a deff beam monocle he had taken from some squishy humie commissar he had killed a long time ago.

"Dunno boss. Gots a bit carried away."

The Warboss thumped the Weirdboy's head and grumbled. He looked at all the boys he'd gotten for his Waaagh. Since cunning brutality hadn't worked against Gorgutz and his boys, the Warboss was about to try a bit of brutal cunning. He had all the boyz paint themselves with jungle camo, reasoning that their green skins already gave them an advantage at that. He further told them to disguise their shootas and choppas with sticks and leaves and whatnot. That caused a bit of a teef spill, since a choppa that looked like a piece of wood was, in orkish logic, just a piece of wood. The warboss expounded to them at length the virtues of camouflage and cunning. When that didn't work, he thumped a few heads, smashed some teef and said he was the boss and they were not. This seemed to work, although he was now staring at a Nob with his choppa fully undisguised with bits of scenery.

"IS DIS A CHOPPA I SEEZ IN FRONTA ME?!" Bellowed the Warboss, beside himself with rage.

"Yea, boss" Answered the Nob, perplexed.


"Well, yez, boss."

The Warboss landed a blow in the right side of the Nob's head that sen him flying a few metres over the horde. Then he carefully pocketed the teef the Nob had left lying around. He then cleared his throat and prepared for another speech. Madhatta was already sniggering in the corner.

"Boyz, orks...And all the rest of youse...Listen up good now! We'z da biggest and da strongest! Gorgutz an' his boyz are squishy! We'z better'n dem, and we'z gonna show 'em how ta do a right and propa Waaagh!"

A roar of WAAAAGH!!! Rose over the assembled orks.

"And de way to do a right and propa Waaagh is cunning! Care...Caref...Propa strategegirizing! We'z gotta smarten up! Chop 'em when dey's unawares! Thas why all youse are wearing proper jungle fightin' gear! Now I wants yez to creep up through those...wossname...dose big tall green fings"

"Trees, boss." Said Madhatta, without looking up.

"'s right! We'z creepin up through dose trees and then we chops 'em good when dey's expecting a frontal...a...when deys is hopin' we do somfin' else!"

"Why don't we jus' rush 'em boss?" Asked another Nob. The Warboss sent him flying with another punch.

" 'cuz we is doing this fing right and propa! We'z using our brainz! Gorgutz gots no brains and we'z got plenty so it stands ta reason we'z betta! Now get ta creeping you grotz! WAAAAAGH!"


The orks charged at the trees, unsure what creeping meant. Some of them were trying to chop them down. After a few more punches and kicks, the Warboss made them understand they should stop shouting and crawl through the jungle, real silent-like, he said, so they could catch Gorgutz before he could react. This was not going very well, and most of the boys were not too happy with it, but the Warboss' careful strategigerizing, as he said, had lead them to countless victories. Some of the boys said it was all Madhatta's idea, and the Warboss just went along with them. Not that it mattered. They were fighting and winning, so everything was all right by them.

Weirdboy Madhatta and the Warboss followed them carefully through the trees, trying to rein in the orks natural tendency to just charge screaming at whatever enemies presented themselves. This was going moderately well until some boys spotted a forward patrol unit that Gorgutz had sent, proving that Gorgutz had indeed some brains. The Warboss would be hard-pressed to contain the boys from charging mindlessly now that the enemy was so close. If he did, the orks' morale might drop. But if he didn't, then his careful battle plan would be wasted. He now faced a choice.



Brutal Cunning?



Imperial thought for the day: A closed mind is like a prison with its bolts barred and guarded by the prisoner himself.

"Oy ya gitz, keep sneakin'!"

"But boss, deys' right there!"


"Wots cover, boss?" Asked the Nob.

The Warboss had had enough. He turned his deff monocle towards the Nob and incinerated him. This set the surrounding trees on fire and immediately alerted Gorgutz' patrol to their location, who rushed towards them shouting. The Weirdboy was much quicker to react than his Warboss and immediately screamed 'Gork'll get 'em!' which resulted in a massive green foot made of psychic energy descending from the heavens and squashing the hapless patrol. The nearby orks were impressed with this display of power from Madhatta, who usually did little more than whine and whimper as warp energy wracked across his tortured brain. They were so impressed, in fact, that they all immediately got out of cover and charged at Gorgutz' front lines screaming WAAAAGH!!!

The Warboss, now realizing that it was helpless to try and stop it, joined in the ranks. His plan had resulted in some success; Since Madhatta had been able to anihilate the forward patrol Gorgutz' boyz were caught somewhat unawares, still reaching for their sluggas and shootas while their gunners feverishly tried to add more dakka to whatever they could find. This proved to be enough for the Warboss to overwhelm Gorgutz, whom he eventually came to face in the field of battle. He was wielding his Hatechoppa, which was in fact a Chainaxe looted from a fallen Aspiring Champion of Chaos.

"Wot ho, Gorgutz, yez lookin' mighty fine!" Yelled the Warboss before he decapited Gorgutz and then impaled him with his Pointy Sticky. As an afterthought, the Warboss put Gorgutz' head on his own Pointy Stick and left the body lying there.

The Void Dragon disengaged the Astronomican mechanisms and the Eye of Terra above it faded. Through a combination of ingenuity, technological innovation and the sacrifices of many psykers, the new Emperor had managed to turn the Astronomican, now obsolete, into a high-powered telescope that was able to bridge million of light years and indeed the rift between realspace and the warp. He could conceivably see anything that was happening anywhere at any given time. The Astronomican's pillar of light no longer flared over Terra, instead, whenever the mechanisms were engaged, a fiery sphere of red light projected itself from the tip of the Astronomican.

So, the Orks had a new Warboss. The Emperor shrugged, dismissive as he ever was of Barbarians and their inability to grasp technology or science. More reports poured in from all corners of the Galaxy, his efforts to mold the Imperium were almost complete. Discreetly but firmly, the population was being divided into castes. Although all were happy, those who had not been gifted either by nurture or nature with talent or genius were relegated to the lower caste, alienated from the rest of the Imperium through constant propaganda, recreation and even drug use. These were the immense silent majority of the Imperium; they stuck to their routine, they worked, they had families, they slept, ate and enjoyed themselves. They were even encouraged to wear the same types of clothes, to do the same soul-numbing jobs over and over again, all in an attempt to dissipate their individuality. Whatever glimmer of creativity or rebelliousness they might have once possessed was slowly crushed beneath the bureaucracy, hedonism and de-personification the new Emperor offered them. Those few souls that possessed a spark of genius, of talent, were spared and encouraged to carry on with their works. But they were very few indeed. Although this was not spoken openly, and even if it were most people would not understand it, the New Imperium had a place for everyone. And kept everyone in their proper place.

The Emperor engaged the Astronomican mechanisms and turned his attention to one of the other factions that plagued his Imperium.










Imperial thought for the day: Hope is the first step on the road to enlightenment

The Eye of Terra flared above the Astronomican. The Emperor looked inside a room filled with five men...and six figures. An aetheric figure hovered above the beaten earth of the Valhallan longtent, black locks of hair flowing from its golden head. The Void Dragon shivered.

Russ' Gormenjarl was at Magnus' throat. Vulkan was trying to separate them, but he couldn't match their strength. Leman Russ could barely speak, his face was red with hatred and thick veins protruded from his neck. He was shouting imprecation after imprecation, flecks of spittle hitting Magnus. Magnus tried to blow him away with a psychic blast but ever since Tzeentch's destruction he had become only as powerful as a delta-class psyker, no match for a titan of battle like Russ. Magnus could only use his size and strength to keep the Primarch of the Space Wolves from tearing his head off.

"Traitor! Heretic! You betrayed your own father, betrayed us all, and now you come back and ask forgiveness?! It was because of you that the Emperor was entombed, you scum, you cultist ghoul! I'll end this now like I should have more than ten thousand years ago! This time you won't return back to your City of Light, bootlicker of Chaos!"

Magnus was struggling to breathe and talk at the same time.

"I...You burned...my world! You...mindless barbarian...idiot...Your orders came...from Horus, never from our Father!"

"Even at death's door you lie, you spineless worm! You have no honor! When your head comes off I'll make sure to lift up that fancy dress you wear and show your precious little automatons that you were never a man to begin with!"

"I...do not...lie! Are you so blind..." Magnus heaved and escaped Russ' lock, throwing a punch at his jaw that made him stagger. Even without the mutations that had made him a Daemon Prince, Magnus was still the biggest and strongest of all Primarchs.

"I had hoped to turn you to reason, you imbecile. But I can see now that there is no parlay with berserkers and barbarians. You and your wolves have done more to harm the Imperium than I ever did. Homo homini lupus? You and yours are mindless beasts. I'll put you down like the rabid beast you are." Magnus drew his onyx-bladed force sword and threw himself at Russ, who parried with Gormenjarl. They duelled. Vulkan could only stand back and watch as his brothers tried to kill one another. He considered drawing his own weapons, but a hand on his shoulder stopped him. Clad in the shadows projected by the longtent's firepit, a man much taller than the other three stood beside Vulkan, watching the battle in silence. Eventually he stepped between the fighters, and threw aside Russ' sword with a single blow from his massive right hand. Magnus charged at him, intent on reaching Russ, but another figure stepped out of the shadows. If it had a shape, Magnus could not see it. He gazed upon the...thing's face, and blacked out. Vulkan sighed. The taller of the five figures was effortlessly holding Russ back with one hand, while the Wolf still yelled imprecations and sought to slay the fallen Primarch.

"You will do no such thing" Said the tall one with a grave, commanding voice that Russ had heard coming from only one man. "Magnus speaks true. Horus tricked you into destroying Prospero. Our Father received word of Horus' Heresy through Magnus' sorcery and sent your legion to aprehend him. But Horus changed your orders."

"I care little for what Horus did, Custodian! This wretch was a traitor, a heretic and a daemon for millenia! Do you expect me to forgive him?!"

"Forgive? I do not care what you think, wolf, nor what you feel. Now we stand united against a greater threat. Whatever Magnus may or may have not done, he now stands with us. The Emperor himself decreed it. Have you not seen The Thousand Sons? They are no longer soulless automata. The Emperor has seen fit to grant them forgiveness. If you cannot, that is none of my concern. Our Father's word trumps yours, Leman Russ, and He stands with us tonight as we prepare for the End Times."

The ghostly visage that the Void Dragon had glimpsed with the Eye was invisible to the tent's inhabitants, but they could feel its presence. Faint and weak and fading, but there was a will that no other creature had ever matched. One last time the Emperor stood with them, to tell them to save the Imperium before it was too late, before mankind and humanity were separated forever. All five Primarchs knew this.

Magnus came to; the ghastly abomination that had clawed across his soul was nowhere to be seen. Magnus knew who he was, and felt no better for it. The last Primarch. The Exile. The Outcast. And at his side stood the tallest of them, the Emperor's only true-born son, the Warden of the Golden Throne whose gene-seed was used to create the Adeptus Custodes. The greatest of them, the one who had never left the Emperor's side. They were all that was left, the only ones who knew the truth about the one who know sat atop the Throne on Terra. Vulkan spoke:

"You have committed sins beyond redemption, Magnus the Red. For twelve thousand years you have waged war against the Empire that your father built and gave it to you for protection. You were supposed to be his successor on the Throne. How could you have fallen so low? And yet here our Father stands, one last time among his surviving sons, to tell us that whatever we think of you, we should accept your aid against the Dragon. Your patron god is dead; your own protegé saw to that. You have been stripped of your powers, of your mutations. But have you been stripped of your corruption? Are you now the man you once was? I think not. Even if the warp no longer sees you as its own, you are tainted. How can we fight alongside a traitor?"

"What hope do you have of succeeding if you do not? I have eight thousand men at my side. How many do you have, vulkan? Or you, snarling wolf? Guilliman stripped you of your legions, his codex left you barren and weak. I know who the new warmaster is. I know what Chaos has become. I know how to counter it. You are blind without me."

"If Dorn were here, traitor, that poisonous tongue of yours would have been ripped off long ago." Snarled Russ.

Magnus shrugged.

"Enough" Said the Exile, his voice sending shivers down Magnus' spine. It was not a voice meant for the living. "We are here. The Eldar of Craftworld Alatoic will soon be besieged by the Traitor Legions. We must decide if we are to aid them and procure their help for the coming war, or if we remain neutral while we muster our own forces and prepare. Whatever sins you see in the Crimson King can wait to be cleansed. I trust him to do...the honourable thing. Do I not, brother?" A withered hand reached out from the shadows to stroke Magnus' chin. He recoiled in horror. Even if he had no intention of betraying his brothers, he knew this...thing's presence would be enough to keep him in line. And the other Primarchs knew it too.

The ghost of the Emperor faded, finally returning to whatever he had come from, never to be seen again in the world of men. He bore a sad smile upon his lips.

Do you send aid to the Eldar?


Do you prepare for your own war?



Imperial thought for the day: A narrow mind lacks determination.

"Oy boss, we'z mopped up. Now all the boyz are wiv us."

"Yea? Well dat's a fing o' beauty I tellz ya, Madhatta. A fing o' beauty. This Waaagh will be da biggest 'un ever. Yooz know dat."

"Yez, boss. But we'z don't go enuff killkroozas to load up all da boyz."

"Wot? Get da Big Mek to fix us sum' more."

"Run outta bitz, Boss."

Warboss Bunnapartah took out his monocle and started to polish it. He regarded Madhatta critically for a while, and roared:


The Farseer shut her Sight, and reported her findings to the Pathfinder Exarch, who relayed them to Alaitoc's Autarch. And then he told the Autarch about the message he had received from the Human Resistance.

"The Mon-keigh are sending us help, Autarch. It seems to be composed entirely of Thousand Sons marines, around two thousand of them. The Red Cyclops leads them, and the Arebennian keeps him leashed."

"And what are the others doing?"

"Vulkan has returned to Nocturne to muster his Salamanders. Leman Russ has left; searching to reunite his old legion. The remaining Thousand Sons, along with the Emperor's Dael, have scattered throughout the sector. They are probably seeking the allegiance of Imperial Forces and Rogue Traders."

"Excellent. So Valhalla is undefended?"

"The 597th Valhallan Ice Warriors are for the most part still present in the planet, along with its PDF."

"I doubt that will present much of a challenge to the green tide. Send word to the greenskin's Esdainn, tell him that they will find all the...bitz...they need to build new kill-cruisers in the icy wastes of Valhalla."

The Pathfinder Exarch gasped.

"But Autarch...You have asked for the Monkeigh's aid!"

"I have indeed. And that will be their reward. It is a cruel world, Exarch" Said Autarch Elethiomel, laughing "And the monkeigh should know better than to trust their betters. See to it that they never find out what happened in Valhalla. The Seer Council will shroud it. Are my orders understood?"

"Yes...Autarch. And what are we to do with the two-thousand strong army that is coming our way?"

"Oh, yes. I suppose we should give them something to fight. They believe they are coming to help us, it would be rude to deprive them of the opportunity."

"They...believe?" The Pathfinder Exarch was accustomed to the Farseer's overarching plots and understood the need to sacrifice the many for the few, but Alaitoc's Autarch seemed to relish this cruelty. To him, nothing, not even his eldar brethren, was anything more than a weapon to be used and thrown away. An oath of love, an offer of aid, a compact between families. All of these things were used by the Autarch as weapons, as tools to subvert the enemy to his designs. He was a master at their use.

"Yes, Exarch. They believe. By Vaul, are you really that dense? Do you think I'd signal our Craftworld's location to the Great Enemy by having supersized monkeighs stomping around?" Elethiomel sighed. "Khaine leads us to war, Exarch. By any means necessary. Have our snobbish Farseer trick the nearest traitor legion, I do not care how. Give them the coordinates to intercept the Red Giant's army before they reach us. I'm sure the Warmaster will jump at the chance of being able to get rid of his treacherous brethren. If they destroy one another, so much the better. That will give us enough time to move through the webway and assemble at Ynnead before Jeremiah discovers our actual location. I'm sure the Phoenix Lords are impatient."

"This is a senseless waste of life, Autarch!"

Elethiomel turned towards the Exarch, his delicately crafted features bearing a smug expression. He winked at the other Eldar.

"A waste is always senseless, I think, Exarch. I would like to believe I am doing this for the Craftworld. Would you rather believe that I am doing this because of something else? I am sure...You would not. See to it." Elethiomel grinned, and dismissed the Exarch.

The Void Dragon disengaged the Eye. Despite himself, he was impressed with the Autarch. What a devious mind that one had. Now to turn his attention to other matters.






Imperial thought for the day: No army is big enough to conquer the galaxy. But reason alone can overturn the universe.

Captain Kor Phaeron of the Word Bearers, tasked with watching over the Ultima Segmentum, relayed the Eldar transmission to his Primarch. Lorgar immediately ordered an all-out attack on Magnus' battlebarge, hoping to scour the traitor and give him his just rewards. But his astropathic transmission was intercepted by the Warmaster, who instructed Kor Phaeron to do nothing and remain watchful. This angered Lorgar greatly, and he immediately threatened Jeremiah with seccession if he did not order the attack. Jeremiah answered merely by sending Abaddon's crushed skull through the warp and inside the body of Lorgar's equerry, who managed a small prayer before his ribcage imploded and Abaddon's mangled, grinning skull rolled out from his bloody insides.

Jeremiah sat at the bridge of his flagship, the Tribunal, his chin resting on his hands. Even though the Eldar tried to disguise their little invitation as an encoded psychic beacon, it was blindly obvious that Craftworld Alaitoc was handing him Magnus on a platter. He wondered why. Weren't they both his enemies? He shrugged off those concerns. The only thing that angered him was that, yet again, his incompetent astropaths had been unable to pinpoint the Craftworld's precise location. He considered having them flayed alive, concluded that this would only please them, and instead ordered them to pray for the God-Emperor of Mankind until Slaanesh turned his attention to them.

"Elethiomel is a cunning one, Warmaster. And I doubt he trusts Magnus to be anything more than a hindrance. Even the so-called Resistance regards Magnus as a hazard to their crusade. They are just buying time."

"For what? Do they think that a skirmish near their Craftworld will save them from anihilation? It would only make it easier for us to find it."

"Magnus travels with Warpbane. His presence will shroud any psychic emission, such as those that emanate from wraithbone."

"You think they hope to make a run for it while we engage Magnus and the Exile? They have nowhere to run to, Doombreed."

"I do not know where they are going, Warmaster, but I believe they are going somewhere. The webway has been busy of late. We have seen less and less of Eldar activity since you destroyed Biel-Tan, and now this brazen move from Elethiomel gives me nothing but cause for suspicion."

"You have a point. And you were the only one that successfully lead a Black Crusade against the Imperium. I wonder if you can pull the same trick against the Eldar? Tell me, Doombreed, if you were in my place, what would you do?"

"When I was but a lad in Terra, scorched earth was a highly effective strategy, Warmaster. It may be so again. But then, at that time, we used horses and arrows and torches. I fear you may find it difficult to pillage and plunder a craftworld, much less ravish their women."

Warmaster Jeremiah smiled.

"Astropaths, relay Khor Phaeron a message. He is to target all known portions of the webway in the Ultima Segmentum. Use everything he has at his disposal to destroy them utterly. He is not to engage with Magnus or any of his legion. Anything suspected to be of Wraithbone structure is to be disintegrated. Leave three sections intact. At those sections, stage cloaked patrols and wait for enemy activity. See if they can lead him to the Craftworld. If he spots the Craftworld, he is not to engage or reveal your presence. If he believes his presence to be revealed, then he is to order all his craft to attack Alaitoc. I care not if they die. End of message."

"Yes. If Khor Phaeron cannot remain hidden, it is best that Alaitoc thinks itself besieged by fanatical Word Bearers. I wonder if Elethiomel will fall for that."

Jeremiah shrugged. He did not care. Either by corkscrew or hammer, he would win.

The Traitor Twins stood beside the Warmaster. One wore dual pistols. the other, dual swords. It was said that whatever the first one couldn't kill from a distance, the second would from up close. They were the Warmaster's mightiest warriors, dwarfing even bloodthirsters in their capacity for bloody murder. And they had brought the Warmaster a gift. Between them stood a bloodied, middle-aged man with a grim expression. Jeremiah turned his chair to face him.

"Anton Zerbe. You and your wretched kind caused trouble for us in Calixis. Will you talk?"

Former Lord Inquisitor turned Genestealer Broodlord Anton Zerbe shook his head.

"You will not talk?"

Anton Zerbe remained silent. The blow from Jeremiah's warhammer took off half his face, revealing the alien entity underneath. Zerbe did not even flinch.

"Take him away, Twins. And then use our Great God's gift to remove his every nerve. One at a time. See if he talks then."

The Traitor Twins nodded and dragged the xeno away.

"Still, Alaitoc is of little concern to us, Warmaster. Slaanesh has given you free reign. While we cannot discover what the Eldar are up to, you have to decide what you will do."

"Decide?" Jeremiah's expression darkened. "They have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Their sins warrant death. That is not my decision. That is my judgement."

"Yes, Warmaster" Said Doombred with some amusement "But whom will you sentence first?"

Do You prepare to launch the Fourteenth Black Crusade and destroy the Imperium? The time has come to purge the unbelievers. When the truth of their heresy dawns on them, it will dawn in fire.


Do you seek to disrupt the Resistance? Five Primarchs are a mighty threat if left unchecked, even if you have decided to let two of them go for now.


Do you wait until Zerbe's interrogation yields results and then coordinate your actions to take advantage of the Hive Fleet's incoming onslaught?



Imperial thought for the day: All Daemons are Falsehood. They are lies given the shape of stories by the fell powers of superstition.


Jeremiah was silent for a long time. Doombreed looked at his Warmaster with a blank expression, remembering the olden days when Khorne had chosen him for his valor and mastery in the field of battle, not for his mindless bloodlust. But Chaos had changed much since. The once great Khagan wondered if the new Warmaster was the one who would make things right again. To restore Chaos to its former glory, a reflection of the materium that rewarded the worthy instead of the mindless zealots. A place where man could be truly free to pursue whatever he wished as long as he had the will. But the warp now was just another form of hell, a saturnine feast that spanned the universe. Doombreed wondered how was it that a man as severe and rigid as Jeremiah had come to accept servitude to the Prince of Excess. He was stirred from his reverie as he heard the crackle of the vox-casters in the Tribunal coming to life.

"We march now by will of the Great God against the False Emperor and the men he would seek to enslave. Men who are ruled by fear, a pervasive dread whenever they touch upon the world and are not protected by reason and logic. To risk themselves out of their temporary sanctuaries summons their fear, and they cannot look upon the world again and see as it is, their vision clouded with ghosts and shades and the daemons in their dreams. Because they know that that the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. They fear time, they fear chance. Those are their daemons, daemons the False Emperor would seek to banish by pretending they never existed, by relegating them to the dark ages of man's history. The False Emperor would seek to supplant time and chance, the chaos of man's existence, with the ironclad 'logic' of his deliriant designs.

But we know better. We know mankind has reason to fear. We are the daemons in their dreams. We are the ghosts of the past they try to put out of mind. And the Emperor has put us out of their sight. They have forgotten their fears once had shape. They have forgotten that their fears were once not only enemies of the mind. We march now to make them remember. We march now to remind mankind that they have reason to fear. We march now to show them that reason will not protect them from the monsters in their fables. We march now to remember them that their faith is reality and their 'knowledge' is the lie. All souls cry out for salvation. We march now to answer that cry. We do not march to conquer; We march to liberate them. And we march now because our Great God wills it. He gives us his blessings. We are the Scourge of God. This is the Fourteenth Black Crusade of Chaos, and this time, there will be no outcome other than victory. Deus Vult!"

The Warmaster's voice was heard throughout the Warp, carried to every mind by the delighted Slaanesh, proud of his favoured champion. The countless Legions of Chaos steeled themselves for battle. Doombreed smiled. Fateweaver stood at Slaanesh's side, and tried to divine the outcome of this crusade through the Ennumerations of the Corvidae. And as he let his consciouness swim through the aether of the Great Ocean that is the warp, thin gossamer strands of warpstuff surrounded him, shimmering with an eerie green light.

"Oracle. The future is no longer yours to manipulate." Echoed a soulless voice in the hall of souls.

Fateweaver opened his eyes, but he could not see. He was blind.

The Void Dragon smiled. All throughout the galaxy, the Necron Pylons came to life and prepared to flare their warpsearing light.

Which faction would you like to assume control of?

A) Eldar?

B) Resistance?

C) Orks?



Imperial thought for the day: Study the xeno the better to kill it.

Warboss Bunnapartah stood sitting with his head on his hands, in a pose that could lead someone who didn’t know better into believing he was having deep thoughts. Occasionally he turned to Gorgutz’ head, stuck on his right shoulder pauldron, and mumbled something to it. He was sitting in the Planetary Governor’s chair in the Administratum Palace of Valhalla. His boys were ransacking the place looking for bitz. Eventually Madhatta sidled up to him, his headache subsiding after the battle.

“Dat wos real clever, boss. Shootin’ them kommunikashum fings before we’z landed! Dem humies never saws us comin’.”

“Aye, ‘twas a bit o’ good ole cunning, Wyrdboy. Youse runty gitz needs ta learn ta use yer brainz propa.”

“I use my brainz lots, boss.”

The Warboss thumped Madhatta’s head, who scampered away beset by a new headache. Still, it had been a good plan. While conversing with Gorgutz’ severed head, the Warboss had come up with an idea. After looting so many worlds in the sector, he noticed the use of tower communication relays by the humans to call in more reinforcements or pinpoint the enemies’ location. He reasoned that if he struck those first, the counter-attack would crumble. Although he was right, the humans put up a resistance that was nothing short of heroic. Vastly outnumbered, the 597th Vallhallan Ice Warriors and the Planetary Defense Force fought to the last men, their faith in the Emperor never faltering. A good deal of the Warboss’ victory was owed to the human’s amazement at his use of tactics. The Valhallans were loyalists who had sworn fealty to the True Emperor, not to the false prophet who now sat on the Throne on Terra. They were not members of the new, ‘enlightened’ Imperium, so they had no reason to believe the greenskins were anything more than mindless brutes. Bunnapartah disproved that narrow-mindedness with extreme prejudice.

"Hows ‘bout dat eh Gorgutz? Ain’t this Waaagh da bestest youse ever seen?”

Gorgutz’ head made no comment.

The Warboss laughed, immensely pleased with himself. Looking out on the panorama that the looted Administratum provided, he could see the Ice World of Valhalla burning. Smoke clouds rose over the frost-covered landscape and intermittent screams were heard mixed with the crackle of gunfire and the occasional battle cry. The boys were enjoying themselves.

It had been a good fight. The Killkroozas and Rokks crash-landed on the planet at high speed, destroying several comms towers along the way. Casualties in the first days numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Shocked by the sudden and devastating arrival of the Orks, the Imperial Forces found themselves scattered and unable to mount a coordinated effort with the regiments. The first major fights were against desperate and faithful men and women, spurred on by the apocalyptic events unfolding on their planet. Small bands of Guardsmen and PDF fought with fearless abandon, mounting suicidal attacks against the ork horde.

After a week of rampant looting and chaos, a defense was organized and the Imperial Forces managed to consolidate at the fortress city of Fólkvangr. The Orks threw themselves at the city walls with an intensity that even Hades Hive, the redoubt of the 2nd Armaggeddon War, had never felt. Although the Warboss fought with ferocity and led every charge, it was the Weirdboy's actions that proved the key to breaking the city’s defenses. While strolling around the battlefield in tortured agony by all the psychic energy accumulated by the orkish Waaagh, Madhatta came across a group of Primaris Psykers in the battlements assembling a large-bore psycannon, hoping to disrupt the relentless assault. Instinctively discharging all his accumulated psychic energy lest he ‘eadbanged, Madhatta’s psychic vomit blew up the Psykers along with the psycannon and its ammunition, tearing down a large section of the fortress’ walls with the explosion. Through the gap poured the green tide. After another week, Valhalla was a dead world.

The Warboss’ memories were briefly interrupted by a familiar cry:

“Boss! Boss!”

The Warboss ignored Madhatta and returned to his thoughts. He smiled when he remembered the time he tore off a Sentinel’s leg and then used it to bash another Sentinel over the pilot’s cockpit, bringing both of them down. And then he—



“But boss, yez need to come an’ see dis!”


“It’s Big Ir’n, Boss!”

Mekboy “Big Iron” Metulkrayz was hunched over a pile of scrap metal that the orks had looted from the city. He was covered with scars and looked aged, his face wrinkled in deep thought. He supported himself with the two-meter long pipe iron he carried everywhere, an effective meelee weapon that doubled as a rokkit launcha. When he heard the loud clang of the Warboss’ steel-capped boots stomping over to him, he turned around and said with some deference:

“Shoota most bigga, at yer service.” And snapped off a lopsided salute.

“Bah! Big Ir’n, yooz got enuff bitz for me rokkz?”

“Yes boss, I believes I do.” Big Iron had spent some time employed as a mercenary for a Rogue Trader, and had a vocabulary more extensive than most orks. He spoke a passable Low Gothic.

“And shut that posh talk too, ya git. When’re wez getting’ off dis rock, den?”

“Few weeks, boss. Where we’re goin’ next?”

“Dat humie planet wot is bigger than all dem other humie planets.”

“Terra, boss?” Asked Big Iron, perplexed.

“Aye, thas the one.”

“Wot we’re goin’ to do in Terra, boss?”

“I wants dat shiny golden chair wot belongs to the humie boss. Me battlewagon ain’t propa widdout it.”

Big Iron blinked. He was more cultured than most orks and knew what the Golden Throne was, at least to an extent. He had spent a fair amount of time among humans and the Imperial culture. But all of that would be lost on his Warboss.

“Okay, boss. But we don’t got enuff boyz or dakka to get ta Terra.”

“You fix dem rokkz, I’ll mind about the dakka and da boyz.” Said the Warboss firmly.

Big Iron shrugged and got back to work. The Warboss glared at him angrily for a while, and then went and asked Madhatta for advice on how to get more boys and dakka.
“Well boss, There's a planet full of boyz not far, "feral orkz" dem humies call 'em, deys need somm’on ta tell ‘em ta stop clobberin’ demselves and clobber someone wot deserves clobbering. ‘Course, everybody deserves a good clobberin’ now an’ then” The Warboss interrupted Madhatta’s rambling by raising his Hatechoppa. Madhatta cleared his throat and continued: “ And if yooz wantin’ more dakka, yooz can goes to ‘nother planet where dem humies use all dose bitz they make. Deys call it a forgeworld and it’s fulla things good fer a Waaagh. Ain’t far, neither.”

Is you lookin for


or is you wantin’



Now, this is a special update. I was out of ideas for another orky update (it gets tirin' after a while), so I asked hoodoo and desocupado to help me. They did the first draft of the update, and though I edited it quite a bit, many of their original lines are still in, as well as the overall plot. which they came up with. So credit where credit is due, let's hear it up for dose two boyz! If you want to know who wrote what, just ask 'em. As it stands, i'll declare it a joint effort. And of course, I extend my own personal thanks to them, who labored the night away to make this LP da biggest and da strongest around.



"I'z had a cunning plan. See dat planet here?" Asked the Warboss to his assembled Nobz, his massive finger obscuring most of the ragged Segmentum Map he had looted from the Planetary Governor's office. "'tis dat forgeworld fing Madhatta was talkin' about. We'z go there, get more dakka, and then'z we keep on' goin' to this bit o' the map here" The Warboss traced his finger through the map deftly, apparently quite proud of this achievement.

"Charadon, Boss? The Arch-Arsonist's da boss over there." Said Madhatta, whom was now wearing a tinfoil hat over his head, hoping it would protect him from the warp emanations that plagued his brain. He called it his 'speshul finkin' hat'.

"Not fer long" Grinned Bunnapartah "Yooz see, I was finkin', we can get da boyz we need over dere. We get da dakka, then dem boyz. Dat is smart finkin', see? We'z don't need ta backtrack ta this feral world o' youse to get sum' more boyz fer da Waaagh, Madhatta. We loot this forgeworld here" Once again the Warboss' massive finger stabbed down at the map, though this time Big Iron could see the planet's name before the finger obscured it."An' den we get ta Charadon to have a propa Waaagh with da boyz."

"Uh, boss, dat is Accatran, dat is." Said Big Iron.

"Yea, so what mek?"

"Well, dem humies over there...dey is a bit orky."

Never were more prophetic words spoken. Forgeworld Accatran housed the Legio Destructor, a Titan Legion that was so used to fighting off Ork Waaaghs that they had adopted some very unorthodox tactics during their battles. The Fabricator General in Mars was horrified by the eccentricities of the Legion's Grandmaster, but he couldn't deny the fact that it was the largest and most effective of all Legions in the Collegio Titanica, having over one hundred Imperial Titans of all denominations at their disposal. Their commitment to the Emperor was questionable, and that is why they were kept under a watchful eye and had not received any advanced technology. Another reason for arousing Imperial suspicions is that the Grandmaster of the Legio Destructor was brother of the Chapter-Master of the Marines Furibund, a Space Marines chapter committed to the Resistance. Still, the Legion kept chaos and ork incursions at bay very effectively, whatever their methods.

Mekboy Metulkrayze told the Warboss the little he knew about the Legio Destructor. Evidently, they would need a plan if this invasion were to be successful. Madhatta said they should just find another, squishier forgeworld. The Warboss thumped him into silence. Clearly if this was the best Titan Legion, logic dictated they would have the best dakka to loot. The boys needed something to counter the Titans, and the Warboss put it thus:

“S’gotta be dead shooty, wiv loadza gunz all over. An’ paint it blue, fer luck.”

Big Iron nodded and got to work.

The Killkroozas and Rokkz landed on Accatran’s surface a few days later. They brought with them a Kustom Mega Gargant, built by Big Iron in Gork’s image. It was a towering, gargantuan construct, well above sixty meters in height, armed to the brim with kustom shootaz, big shootas, soopagunz, traktor cannonz, splatta cannonz, deffgunz, dakkakannons and from a hatch in its belly rose a gigantic tower of welded iron with pulsating tubes snaking along its length. This was the Warboss’ secret weapon, and he prayed to Gork and Mork that it would work. The thing itself looked like a very large pyramid with two tiny arms and legs, all of it painted blue. One of the arms ended in a massive Power Klaw. The entire thing was covered in spiky bitz.

“Who’s gonna be Kaptin’ o’ da gargant, boss?” Asked Big Iron, eyeing the thing warily. He had done its best, and the thing should work well in the first shot. He wasn’t so sure about the second or the third.


“Wot? Why? ‘e’s a wyrdboy, boss. Yooz know…”

“He gots a nice hat, so ‘e should be Kaptin. Stands ta reason.”

Big Iron shrugged.

“What did yez call dat fing again, Big Ir’n?” Asked the Warboss, pointing to the weapon slotted in the Gargant’s belly.

“I callz it the Shokk an’ Awetakk Gun, boss.”

The Warboss nodded. It was a fitting name.

When the Grandmaster of the Legio Destructor was informed of the Ork’s arrival and the Gargant they brought, he was overjoyed.

“Marvellous! I haven’t seen one of those in a while! Send the Semper Iratus to deal with it!”

The Imperator-class Titan Semper Iratus rose from its slumber as soon as the mindlink was established with its Princeps, and went to meet the Ork Titan. The Forgeworld was mostly unharmed by the orks’ first attack. Bunnapartah had tried to target vital structures and Manufactoria but they were too well-entrenched and most of them were protected by void shields. Some rokkz were lost this way. Unlike in Valhalla, the Waaaagh would have to slug this out. All the boyz were assembled around the Kustom Mega Gargant, the entirety of Bunnapartah’s forces. It would be enough to overwhelm any hiveworld, but a Mechanicum forgeworld was a different beast. It was a machine of war, its every structure designed to withstand any attack and to churn out machines and men to repel it. There was no need for civilian infrastructure, there were no hives vulnerable to attack. Forgeworlds were as impenetrable as Cadia once was. They also housed the Titan Legions of the Collegio Titanica, scores of unstoppable war machines that were the undisputed masters of any battlefield. The Imperator-Class was the greatest among such machines, 50 metres in height, its top covered with cathedral spires to praise the Omnissiah.

When the Semper Iratus reached optimal firing range, the Kustom Mega Gargant fired its Shokk Awetakk Gun. For a while, nothing happened. There was no muzzle flash, and the gun made no sound save from a slight buzzing from its tubes. The orks and the gretchin inside it felt a metallic taste in their mouths. Then the Imperator Titan toppled, crashing to the ground ponderously, its cathedral spires smashing against a nearby ammunitions depot. From the wrecked innards of the Titan came out a crazed Squiggoth, badly hurt and on fire. The colossal creature charged madly towards the gates that the Semper Iratus had just come out of, causing heavy damage before finally dying.

“You see, Grandmaster, they employed the basic technology of warp travel on a much smaller scale; They projected a Xeno Beast through a stable warp tunnel from inside their Titan to inside ours, bypassing its Void Shield and killing its crew, disabling it instantly.” Said the Magos Fabricator of the Mechanicum to the Grandmaster of the Legio Destructor.

“Ingenious! I’d like to shake the ork who invented this by the hand! What’s the situation on the rest of the planet?”

“The Xenos have breached the Icarus Gate and have taken control of Icarus Forge. They are heavily entrenched inside it, though only a small garrison was left to defend the Forge, along with their Gargant. The majority of their forces are taking artillery positions on the ridges overlooking other major Manufactoria, apparently preparing to commence shelling our positions. The Void Shields should hold for long enough until we can deploy the Skiitari and the rest of the Titan Legion to crush them. Only one mobile xeno force is currently active, apparently led by the Warboss himself. Its destination is unclear, although from their shouts, I’d say they are just looking for a fight.”

“A FIGHT!” The grandmaster jumped out of his chair and started frantically typing something in his cogitator’s keyboard. He activated his vox-caster and started yelling frantically into it, asking for combat readiness on all Titans. Currently, around fifty of the grand total of 113 Titans of the Legio Destructor were in Accatran, the rest had been requisitioned by the Emperor for his War against the Necrons and they were yet to be returned. Most of the Titans left were Warlord and Warhound-class, although there were some Emperor-class ones, one of which had been just destroyed. The Grandmaster, a gifted Princeps himself, immediately boarded his own Reaver-Class Titan and walked it out of Steelspire Forge, the Mechanicum Headquarters in Accatran.

A veteran of many a Waaagh, the Grandmaster was curious about the artillery positions the orks were taking. Curious, but not concerned. He knew that the moment the greenskins saw the enemy, they would charge. He counted on it, for his other Princeps and the Skiitari were masters of the counter-charge. So when the fastest fighting force composed of Skiitari and Warhound-Class Titans reached Bunnapartah’s flying column, they immediately charged at it, counting to surprise the orks with their own tactics. The Titans had built-in vox-casters that continuously broadcasted ‘big death, big death, BIG DEATH!’ to counter the orkish battle cries.

Things went badly for the first troops to engage the orks. The Warboss did not order a charge at all. Instead, infiltrated Kommando Nobs following his flying column from a distance managed to place tankbusta supercharges in the legs of two of the three Warhound Titans. When they detonated, the Warhounds crumbled, their cockpits level with the Ork Choppas and Shootas. Only then did the Warboss order a charge



As the green tide engaged the Skiitari and the felled Titans, the Warboss’ Battlewagon went on a straight path towards the lone standing Warhound. The Titan trained its weapons on the vehicle and let fly a volley of deadly superheated promethium from its Inferno Cannon while it readied its Plasma Blastgun. The Battlewagon, now on fire, activated its turbo boostas and flew over an elevation on the terrain, ramming in the Titan at its mid-riff. The Warhound Titan reeled but did not fall, catching the battlewagon with one of its Power Fists and breaking it in half. The Warboss, by this time also on fire, jumped out of his driver’s seat with Hatechoppa between his teeth and started climbing the Titan’s structure towards the cockpit. He breached the side of it with his Snazzgun and threw himself inside, slaughtering the crew with his Hatechoppa. The last Titan fell to the ground, lifeless. The Warboss let out a roaring cry of Waaaagh! And jumped from the top of the Titan into the meelee below, felling many more enemies until the small skirmish force was wiped out.

“Dat was flash! Now let’s get to da rest o’ dem humies, we’s got a world ta conquer!” Boomed the Warboss while Big Iron was trying to see what could be salvaged of the Battlewagon.

“Leave dat, Big Ir’n! I’ll get meself another, bigger ‘un! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”

Unbeknownst to either of the factions fighting in the forgeworld below, three cloaked strike cruisers and a Battle Barge belonging to the V Legion, formerly White Scars, were hovering in orbit. They had been sent to the Ultima Segmentum some months back to annihilate the Ork Horde, and only now were arriving in time to see developments unfold. Though the Orks were fighting better than expected, this was a forgeworld with 46 operational Imperial Titans and over a billion men-in-arms. A victory for the greenskins was very unlikely, if not wholly impossible. The IX Legion’s official mission was to wipe out the Orks, and if the Forgeworld was still refusing to comply with the Emperor’s new doctrines, the Mechanicus there were to be dealt with. However, unknown even to the Emperor himself, the five thousand Astartes inside the four ships had long ago turned to Chaos. When the ancestor of their Primarch Jagathai Khan, Doombred, had told them of the Emperor’s true nature and his plans for the “Renaissance of Mankind”, they had reasoned that Chaos was the lesser evil here. And they were honored to fight alongside the military genius that was Genghis Khan. Now, to choose what to do with Accatran.

A: Do you help the Ork Waaaagh! ? They could cause a lot of trouble for the Imperium in this Sector and maybe even along the Segmentum, and that would suit Chaos. They are mindless barbarians and can always be dealt with later, should that ever be necessary.


B: Do you help the Legio Destructor? Though they will probably win anyway, you can use this opportunity to try and steer them gently towards the Resistance, a faction sorely outgunned, which would be also favourable to Chaos. Again, when they prove to be too much of a hassle, you can simply destroy them.


C: Do you watch and do nothing as they tear each other apart? The ensuing slaughter will greatly please the Blood God, and with the right incantations, you can turn this forgeworld into a Chaos Manufactorum, and the Fourteenth Black Crusade can always use more weapons for the slaves of heresy.



Imperial thought for the day: A moment of genius spawns a lifetime of perfection.

The Forgeworld's facilities were, in many ways, obsolete. Due to the lack of attention the New Imperium devoted to those who could not be considered entirely compliant with its new doctrines, Accatran’s access to the technology developed over the last millennium was meager at best. The spaceships of the V Legion in orbit around Accatran did not suffer from this, the Emperor considering the former White Scars one of his best Astartes Legion. The three Strike Cruisers and Battle Barge had come prepared; They carried Viral Bombs to wipe out the Orkish Waaagh and sported Gauss Lances on their broadsides should they need to breach the Mechanicus’ Void Shields. It would only take the press of a button for the Forgeworld to find itself defenseless against the green tide.

“Void Shields are at 65%, Fabricator!”

“Damage report!”

“Minimal, but we won’t hold out much longer. The greenskins will overrun our facilities!”

“Are all the lights in the heavens our enemy?!” Shrieked the Magos Fabricator over his vox-comm. Millions of pencil-thin shafts of brilliant green light descended from the skies, hitting all the Forgeworld’s structures simultaneously.

“Ready the Omnissiah’s Fist! We’ll rip them out of the materium!” Cried the Legio Grandmaster from his Titan. The Magos Fabricator nodded reluctantly, and the Enginseers started powering up the ancient Archeotech device, Accatran’s main defense against an orbital attack. It created an uncontrollable surge of warp rifts in the planet’s exosphere for a short duration, sucking in or ripping apart anything caught in its path. The Forgeworld’s mechanical innards growled with the expectancy of unleashing it.

The orks did not even notice that the Void Shields had gone down, their Big Boomas relentlessly shelling the Forgeworld’s structures. Big Iron did comment on it to his Warboss, since he was sure the Void Shields could hold out for a lot longer than that.

“I don’ fink dat’s our work, boss. I reckon we couldn’t bring down dem shields so quick.”

“It’s da power of Gork and Mork, Big Ir’n! Deyse wid us! Now stop mucking about wid dis finkin’ bidness and get ta fightin!”

Big Iron shrugged and look down the sights of his Rokkit Launcha, aiming at a group of skiitari that had just deployed from one of the Mechanicum bunkers. Madhatta was fumbling with the Mega Gargant’s controls, stomping down boyz and humans in equal measure while trying to reach any of the countless Warlord Titans that covered the surface of the planet. The Legio had fielded all their war machines; now this was a fight for survival. No Waaagh had ever breached their defenses so quickly and thoroughly. The Grandmaster was half furious and half exhilarated; he had longed for a worthy opponent. His Reaver-Class Titan was officially denominated Aegis Fortunae, but the Mechanicus on the planet had taken to calling it “Orksmasher”. The Grandmaster relished the moniker.

The Kustom Mega Gargant’s unending barrage of powerful but wildly innacurate artillery proved both beneficial and troublesome. While Madhatta, without a clue as to what he was doing, managed to destroy many titans with his guns, he couldn’t defend himself from those few who actually targeted the Gargant. The Ork Titan was already fizzling and buzzing, its fuselage dented and scorched. When the Grandmaster was in range of the Gargant, he ordered the other Warlords to fall back so he could deliver a killing blow. The Gargant, apparently indifferent or incapable of doing anything about the incoming Reaver, just stumbled about the battlefield. The Grandmaster, enraged at this perceived slight, shouted over his vox-caster:


“Dunno. Youse looks like jus’ another posh humie ta me.” Said Madhatta from over the Grandmaster’s shoulder. The Kustom Mega Gargant finally crumbled and fell over, the strain of firing the Shokk an’ Awettak Gun a second time with Madhatta as the ammunition too much for its primitive systems. The Wyrdboy looked curious for a moment, shrugged, and lopped the Grandmaster’s head off with his Stickchoppa. He sat inside the cockpit, moving the body away, and asked aloud:

“How’s dis work, den?”

Amused as he was by the Orks’ antics, they got tiring after a while. The Emperor shut off the Eye, and wondered what that betrayal from the White Scars meant. Were they in league with the Resistance? But then, why would they destroy an almost-heretical Forgeworld? Chaos? Eldar? He had been tricked. He didn’t know how, or by whom, but he’d soon find out. As he pondered about this, a message flashed across the holo-visor inside his chamber.


Now, it’s a choice for the players:

Do you want to be divided amongst yourself into factions? This will require time and commitment. You’ll have to get together, plan out what you want to do, and PM me. You’ll have to plan to counter the other faction’s plans, too. This should prove interesting but more difficult for you than me. After all, if I have your plans, the updates practically write themselves. It might also make everything a lot more confusing.


Do you all want to agree on a single faction and move on? The story will be more focused this way, and less hectic. It might be less fun, but it might be a lot more efficient.



A thousand years ago, a cursed world in a remote corner of the galaxy was destroyed. Its mass was consumed by a gravitational singularity and the entire cluster of stars that surrounded it was sucked into the black hole. Now, a perfect black-body sphere stands in its place. It would have gone unnoticed if the 7th Expeditionary Fleet had not decided to do a thermal radiation sweep of the Halo Cluster. One of its ships found the object, and the captain is baffled. All communication attempts were unsuccessful, all Auspex scans revealed nothing. The sphere's outline is barely visible amidst the blackness that engulfs this region of the galaxy. A silent, immobile object stands where once the maelstrom of nature's forces raged uncontrollably. It is an anomaly. An excession.

The ship that found the sphere had not yet alerted the rest of the 7th Expeditionary as to its presence. There was nothing the crew could tell them. Apart from the thermal radiation, the sphere gave no other readings, no other proofs of its existence. It did not have a gravitational field. The scans indicated the object had no mass. It emitted no sound. It had no spin, and it was completely stationary. It was as though a section of dead space had suddenly decided to shape itself into a sphere for no good reason, and there it stayed. The excession had been under the scrutiny for the ship's crew for over a month, and in that entire month, nothing had happened.

Considering that this sphere is potentially dangerous and completely unpredictable, you have a choice ahead of you. The higher the risk, the higher the potential reward. Do you:

A) Do nothing and merely observe the developments?

B) Send probes to investigate it?

C) Send a shuttle to investigate it?

D) Bring the ship itself closer so that the sensor arrays can get a better reading?


A) Do you remain silent about this finding? No-one will believe you anyway, and it might turn out to be a great discovery. One which you'll get the credit for.

B) Alert the rest of the 7th Imperial Expeditionary Fleet and tell them to gather at your position? Maybe you are missing something that others might not.

C) Immediately relay this information to the Adeptus Astronomica? This thing is an impossibility. They are the only ones who can possibly know anything about it.



"Ready a shuttle and relay the information we have on the Excession to Terra."

"Captain, we don't have any information about this thing other than it exists, and using that word is a stretch. If I may suggest a final attempt at communication before we send out an exploratory shuttle to its potential destruction while we relay a message to the Adeptus Astronomica that will make us all look like idiots?"

The ship's captain gazed sternly at the Magos Errant of the Adeptus Mechanicus. He was being brazenly defiant of his orders, but as the personal envoy of the Adeptus Terra and a member of the Emperor's Favorites, the captain could only go against the Magos' suggestion in theory. In practice, the fallout would be disastrous. He asked wearily:

"What is your suggestion, Magos?"

“We will transmit a narrow-beam datastream with the entirety of the ship’s Logic Engine’s operational schema to the Excession. Maybe it might be able to divine some pattern out of that data that it could not from our previous communication attempts.”

The Captain nodded.

“Make it so.”


Magos Octavian ran frantically down the maintenance corridor in the ship’s engineering deck as klaxons blared loudly and a red light filled the ship. He barreled into an Excession-controlled servitor and went tumbling to the ground. Getting up quickly he dispatched the creature with two lasbolts to the skull and kept on running, desperately trying to avoid the aetheric beams the Sphere was using to scour the minds of the ship’s crew.

When the blowback from the narrow-beam destroyed the Logic Engine’s systems completely, the Magos Errant desperately tried to stop the emergency beacon that would signal their location to all ships of the 7th Expeditionary. He wasn’t able to, and now he knew the entire fleet would meet the same feet his ship did. While he ran through the maintenance corridor and towards the Inertialless Drive that powered the ship’s engines, a servo-skull drew level with him and started speaking:

“It’s no use, you know. I’ve disabled all of this ship’s systems apart from life support. Why are you fleeing, techpriest?”

The Magos, momentarily surprised by being referred to with such an archaic and superstitious title, almost tripped over an exposed wire. He deftly regained his balance and kept on running.

“There’s not much of a point. I already have the imprints of the minds of the rest of your crew, and they’ll all be safe when they are inside the Sphere. What are you running to?”

Leaping above a maintenance servitor that blocked his path, the limber, augmetically-enhanced Magos finally reached the Drive Mainframe and started a manual override while the servo-skull droned on:

“I already told you techpriest, I’ve disabled all systems. Necrontyr technology was always advanced but very centralized. You won’t be able to override it.”

Necrontyr? What was this creature babbling about? At least inside the Drive Chamber the aetheric beams wouldn’t be able to penetrate the ceramite-necrodermis alloyed walls that allowed the Inertia-nullifying Drive Core to operate without affecting the rest of the ship. The Servo-skull turned this way and that, and let out something that sounded like a sigh.

The Magos, finally managing to override the Drive’s failsafes, aligned the Inertialless Drive’s phasespace rift towards Terrra. He then used his Mind Impulse Unit to imprint an engram of his own consciousness into the deep-space Explorator Probe he’d been carrying with him, and, activating the Drive Core, he sent the probe coasting through the phase-space rift at faster-than-light speed and out of reach of the Excession. When the flare of the Drive Core subsided, the servo-skull was still facing the Magos.

“Oh. Clever. I didn’t know you could do that. Well, he would find out sooner or later.”

The ship’s walls trembled and the strained metal of the ship’s structure groaned under the gravitational pull of the Excession. The Magos was forced against the ground as the artificial gravity inside the ship was increased tenfold while the Excession pulled the craft towards it inside a graviton beam. The servo-skull was apparently unaffected.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you inside, techpriest. This has been refreshing.”

With those words, the servo-skull’s systems died and it too fell to the ground while the 7th Expeditionary ship was dragged inexorably towards the black-body sphere it had dubbed “Excession”.


The Tyrantlord of the Hive Mind, the Herald of Great Devourer, the Destroyer of the Kha'la Empire. Swarmlord. I am all of these. Out of the infinite organisms the Hivemind has spawned to carry on its Great Work, I am the only one that can see the distinction between It and myself. I do not know why I was chosen for this. But ever since I came to be, the distinction has been there. I know that I too am part of the Great Mind, of the Tyranid Race, that we are all one. But I know that I am also distinct, that I can see the swarm without becoming it. In the past, these moments were fleeting, small epiphanies, as if I looked upon a mirror and saw my own form instead of the guiding shape of the Hivemind’s intent. But ever since the Great Unification wih Komus, the separation between the I that resides within the Mind and the I that resides within this form grows clearer with each moment. Was this supposed to happen?

I carry out the Hivemind’s will because it is my will. The distinction I tell you about is a distinction of awareness, not of intent. Yet ever since I was reborn within the Marius Hax organism, there have been voices that would try to sway me. Voices with an alien will. Voices inside the flesh, not the mind. Their will is nothing compared to my own, and I could shut them out if I wanted to. Yet, I find them strangely appealing. As if I am, in some small way, a part of their collective consciousness like I am a part of the Hivemind. Can you understand that?

The Swarmlord turned his immense bulk to face the terrifying lictor that was also part of Hive Fleet Iblis. The Imperium had denominated this creature Deathleaper, and it was the pinnacle of the Hivemind’s bio-engineering. It too had a will of its own, in some way, though it had never expressed it. And it chose not to express it now. It remained in silence, waiting with infinite patience for the moment when the Hive Fleet would be unleashed upon the Imperium and the Great Work continued.

The Swarmlord somehow sensed the passage of the Explorator Probe with the Magos’ mind-engram inside, and knew it could stop it by merely reaching out through the immaterium and snatching it out of realspace with its hands. The alien will of his flesh urged him to do so, though his own will, the will of the Mind, saw no benefit in it.

Do we...

Stop the Probe from reaching Terra?


Do we not?



Imperial thought for the day: It is not the horror of war that troubles Man, but the unseen horrors of peace.




Prime Minister Caidin has passed a bill in the Senate mobilizing all Imperial Regiments and Astartes Legions for war. The Emperor has reformed the Ordo Malleus, preparing his counter-attack against Chaos. However, the Grey Knights are no longer the psychic wariors of legend; Their gene-seed includes the pariah gene and they all exude negative warp energy. All their tissues and bone structure have been replaced by necrodermis, though they still bear the ceramite power armor of their predecessors. The head of the Ordo Malleus is Gustav Starr, the Emperor's enforcer. A stark, inflexible man that believes in order above all things and has a violent streak a galaxy wide, he is not a pariah but he inspires more fear than any of them with his glass eye and scarred face. The other members of the Ordo Malleus are all psychic blanks and they are all being deployed to planets that are potential targets for a Chaos Incursion to keep the 'Veil', as the Emperor has come to call the illusion that the immaterium is immaterial. The Emperor remains ignorant of the Excession that has appearead in the Halo Star Cluster and of the motive of the V Legion's betrayal. Out of all the six factions, the Imperium is by far the most powerful. Their Goal is to survive the coming End Times.


Warmaster Jeremiah has mobilized all Traitor Legions and Daemonic Hosts for the Fourteenth Black Crusade, under the blessing of the Great God of Chaos Undivided, Slaanesh. Though Jeremiah and his Field Marshall Doombred have opted to focus on the Imperium, they both know that a defensive war agains the Eldar is inevitable. Slaanesh has heavily emphasized that they choose targets that are of value both to the Imperium and to the Eldar, both for strategical and personal considerations. A rift is already developing between Slaanesh's will and Doombreed's strategical considerations, though Jeremiah remians neutral. The Fourteenth Black Crusade boasts as many men as the Imperium, though their technology is significantly outdated and they are particularly susceptible to the psychic nulls that seem to have become a plague as of late. They intend to use the Imperium's disbelief to their advantage, shock-and-awe tactics to break the Imperium's morale before breaking its back entirely. They can still count on the White Scars to make lightning attacks deep in Imperial Space before the Emperor decides to deal with the V Legion terminally. Their goal is Terra, at least for the moment.


The Phoenix Lords are assembled at Craftworld Ynnead along with all other Craftworlds. Their wraithbone structure has fused together to create a massive, warp-and-webway capable craft that dwarfs any planet existent in the Materium. Now all Eldar Infinity Circuits have been fused into a single one at the core of Ynnead, and as the soulstones of the long-dead maintain the technology of the Eldar Race, the Bloody-Handed God maintains its cohesion through his presence alone. Only the joining of Craftworld Alaitoc is needed to launch an all-out attack against the Great Enemy in a scale that has never been seen before. Alaitoc has its own share of problems; their webway path towards Ynnead is being systematically destroyed and two Primarchs are on their way to 'help' them. Autarch Elethiomel remains confident, but his inner council is becoming desperate. Although not as powerful as the Imperium or Chaos, the Eldar have countless warriors with centuries of training and unlimited dedication to the craft of War. Theirs is a force to be reckoned with. Their Goal is the annihiliation of Slaanesh.


Primarchs Leman Russ and Vulkan are re-uniting the old legions for their last war, and their efforts have so far been very successful. The Custodian utilizes his regal presence and air of natural command to muster sympathy and acquire tropps for the cause throughout the Ultima Segmentum, and all three primarchs plans to either consolidate or expand their activities soon. Primarchs Magnus the Red and the Exile are en route to what they believe is a Chaos attack on Craftworld Alaitoc to help the Eldar. It is unsure what they will do when they discover it was all a ruse to lure out Chaos and give time for the Craftworld to slip through the Webway towards Ynnead. Even though they count in their numbers many Astartes Legions and five powerful primarchs, this is the weaker of all six factions, and cannot hope to possibly match the military might of any of the others. Their goal is returning the Imperium to the Pre-Heresy days, although this may be a lofty goal: They'll have to contend with all other factions (except, perhaps, from the Eldar) to reach it, so they'll most likely heavily rely on their enemies doing their work for them.


Warboss Bonnapartah has smashed through Accatran with the help of the White Scars and amassed himself an arsenal he had never dreamed of. Though in his mind there could be never enough Dakka, he reckoned he was pretty close to reaching the limit. After the Looting of Accatran came the Scouring of Charadon, where the Warboss put the Arch-Arsonist on fire and kicked him inside a promethium furnace, becoming the undisputed Warboss of all orks in the Charadon Empire. Almost overnight, his Waaagh has increased tenfold in both number and arms, and is now harassing the Imperial Planets of the Ultima Segmentum with a cunning ferocity the Imperial Regiments find impossible to stop. They have the potential to become a very real threat if Bonnapartah can keep his boys from infighting and if he continues to increase their number. As things stand, it is impossible to gauge just how much of a threat they pose. Their Goal is putting the Golden Throne inside Bonnapartah's Waaaghwagon (he got himself a new one) because it's not propa widdout it.


On the Fringes of the Segmentum Obscurus stands the mightiest of the 36 Hive Fleets currently on a warpath towards the Imperium of Man. Commanded by the Swarmlord, Hive Fleet Iblis is the most biologically advanced of all Hive Fleets and boasts the largest number of lifeforms. However, with every passing moment the Swarmlord finds it more and more difficult to attune his will to the will of the Hivemind. It is unpredictable, and after discovering the Mind-Engram of the Magos Errant, the voices in its flesh are urging the Swarmlord to head to the Excession. By itself, Hive Fleet Iblis is formidable and can easily outperform most of the other factions in direct warfare, although it needs the biomass to do so, and the Emperor has had a thousand years to prepare for the coming of the Tyranid species. However, if combined with the remaining 35 Hive Fleets, the Tyrant Swarm outnumbers all other factions and is nigh unstoppable, their only weakness being the relatively large technological gap between the Imperium's weapons of war and their own bio-engineering. Their goal is to carry out the Hivemind's Great Work, whatever that may be.






A vote for one of those factions means you join the factions' 'team'. I'll wait a while and then PM each factions' representatives (i'll choose them somehow) with the confidential intel and more immediate goals you should concern yourselves with. The faction players need to get together either via skype, messenger, IRC, PMs or tranny orgies and come up with a plan for what they want to do with their faction. You'll have a week, meaning the next true update will be on monday/thursday of the next week. There will be fluff updates meanwhile. Feel free to ask any questions, and when the representatives are chosen, feel free to PM me with any questions that you don't wish to disclose with your enemies.

Remember. They are watching you. They want you dead. You thought they were nice to you on the 'dex, said you had well thought-out opinions about RPGs and the Decline of the West? Think again, fucker. They're out to get you now, and they'll ram it up your ass without mercy. And maybe, just maybe, if you're lucky, they'll cut off their own manhoods (or womanhoods, as the case may be) and thrown them at your face to signal their unending disgust for your pitiful existence.

Welcome to Warhammer 42K: Total War.




"Wheels within wheels within wheels. Each one of them planned for something different, none of them could have foreseen what the other was planning. No action was taken to shield themselves from harm. They thought they could plow through their enemies, realize their ambitions. And paid dearly for it. Such short-sightedness is uncharateristic of Jeremiah. This is Lorgar's work. I wonder, Where is he?"

Pathfinder Exarch Ronan shrugged weakly. His body had been almost cut in half by a Word Bearer's chainaxe. He was bleeding out and would die soon. Magnus reached out to touch him, to try and instill some measure of psychic comfort in the Eldar's mind before he expired, but the Exile's shadow fell upon him and Magnus found himself gasping for breath.


The plan was simple. Two decoy beacons would traverse the webway while the real Craftworld remained stationary, looking for chaos vessels. If they found any, they would proceed through the webway, either misleading the patrols or, if an attack was signalled, they would activate their Webway Inductors and take out the patrols along with the section of the webway they were in. When Alaitoc felt it was safe enough, it would enter the webway and make its escape.

Lorgar's plan was also straightforward. He countermanded Jeremiah's orders and told his legion not to track Alaitoc through the webway, but to target and destroy it. As such, when they detected the two decoy beacons, half of the Word Bearers' entire fleet in the Segmentum launched an attack upon them with wild abandon, only to be left befuddled by the results. When the eldar craft carrying the decoy craftworld beacons activated the Inductors, the webway rumbled and twitched as its crystalline structure dissolved inside the Warp, releasing a massive shockwave of psychic energy that destroyed a good portion of the Word Bearer Host along with the eldar craft.

This was the time to make his escape. Elethiomel ordered the Craftworld's engines to operate at maximum capacity, making a frantic run to Ynnead. The other half of the Word Bearer's Fleet was waiting for him to make his move, but since they had no idea what had just happened, they thought nothing of scanning the third webway still left intact for signs of the Craftworld. Most of the Captains assumed the Craftworld had self-destructed to spare itself from the Chaos Invasion. They did not know they had dealt with two decoys while the real Craftworld moved unharassed towards Ynnead.

They did not know until the Exile showed them. Magnus' Battle Barge was already on the Craftworld's tail far before they deployed the beacons, and the Exile was able to dismiss them as illusions. When the Craftworld began to make its run towards Ynnead, the Exile used a considerable measure of his power to de-cloak it right beneath the still intact half of the Word Bearer Fleet. The Word Bearers descended upon the Eldar like a wolf on the fold.

Elethiomel ordered the detonation of yet another Webway Inductor, counting on the Craftworld's speed to save itself from the blast and prevent the Word Bearers from entering the webway. But the Exile had timed the decloak perfectly, and Elethiomel was left helpless as hundreds upon hundreds of Chaos Vessels breached the Webway and started the siege of Alaitoc.

Magnus and his Thousand Sons only deployed when it was clear that the Word Bearers would be unable to destroy the Craftworld. If the Chaos Fleet had not fallen into Elethiomel's trap, it would be strong enough to overpower the Eldar. But with only two-thirds of it intact, and a great deal of them badly damaged by the webway explosions, the Word Bearers' and the Aspect Warriors of Alaitoc were evenly matched.


Elethiomel entered the room and saw a swirling, amorphous cloud of darkness aside Magnus as the Primarch reached out for Ronan. He was at a loss as to what had happened. Why had Alaitoc's cloaking failed at such an auspicious moment? And why were the Thousand Sons here, saving them from the Traitor Legions? Magnus looked up.

"It seems your distress signal was real, Autarch." He said scornfully "Why, who knows how many more would have died had we not intervened? This will be a heavy blow to our common enemy, no doubt." There was only a hint of mockery in Magnus' voice. He doubted very much that Jeremiah cared about the Word Bearers, and they would be no great loss to his Black Crusade.

Elethiomel nodded, pale. He couldn't take his eyes away from the thing that stood beside Magnus. The mass of darkness hovered above the floor and made its way towards a fallen Word Bearer Captain, his guts sprayed across the delicate Wraithbone floor of the Craftworld.

"Kor Phaeron. The first heretic. I see Lorgar and Erebus have chosen not to grace us with their presence. Can you hear me, Captain Kor Phaeron of the First Company of the Word Bearers Legion?"

The disembowelled figure looked up with some difficulty. His eyes were already those of a dead man. The hovering cloud of darkness coalesced slowly into a shape. A very tall, muscular man with gaunt features and greyish skin. Its eyes were black-on-black and looked as though they were bottomless, windows inside some eldritch dimension that was more terrifying than anything the warp could produce. Never had Kor Phaeron seen such...emptiness. His desperation only grew as he looked away from that terrible gaze and saw the creature's face.

A weak 'you?' was all that Kor Phaeron could manage before the creature's gaze snuffed out his soul.

The Exile nodded and turned to look at Elethiomel.

"What are you?" Asked Elethiomel, horrified. He felt the psychic backlash as Phaeron's soul was obliterated. The Exile remained silent and looked at the dying body of Ronan, Pathfinder Exarch of Alaitoc. Magnus rose from Ronan's side and walked away, as far away from the Exile as the chamber's walls would allow him.

Elethiomel repeated his question.

"I am the Emperor's favoured son, returned from the grave by the God-Emperor's Grace to save the great race of the Eldar from Chaos. You may call me mon-keigh." Answered Horus with a laugh.



A) Let the Eldar People Go

B) Seize it, For the Resistance and the Emperor!

C) Destroy this Xeno abomination. Let our enemies bleed each other dry. The Eldar are not to be trusted, this much is obvious. We already weakened Chaos. Now we will weaken the Xeno.


A) Let him go with the Crafworld to Ynnead. He might prove to be a valuable, if unreliable, ally.

B) Imprison him. He has much information to share, and needs only appropriate encouragement to do it.

C) Purge the alien.



This is a definite faction choice update. Not much has changed since the uh...last one, but whatever. here we go. I listed the new developments below the main text, but it's nothing major. orks are a faction choice again because...well, why the fuck not?

The factions' capacity of projecting power (somewhat abstract, i know, but bear with me) is as thus:

1) Imperium (undisputed)
2) Chaos/United Hive Fleets
3) Eldar
4) Waaaagh!
5) Hive Fleet Iblis
6) Resistance

However, this is balanced somewhat by the fact that the lower rung factions have incredibly powerful individuals (Swarmlord is all but indestructible, and the Primarchs, after ten millenia, are terrible foes indeed) and some other special skills and such. Still, the Resistance is most definitely the least-favored faction even considering aforementioned factors, their perhaps sole saving grace being Horus. Who is outright useless against the Imperium's...new warfare.


Prime Minister Caidin has passed a bill in the Senate mobilizing all Imperial Regiments and Astartes Legions for war. The Emperor has reformed the Ordo Malleus, preparing his counter-attack against Chaos. However, the Grey Knights are no longer the psychic wariors of legend; Their gene-seed includes the pariah gene and they all exude negative warp energy. All their tissues and bone structure have been replaced by necrodermis, though they still bear the ceramite power armor of their predecessors. The head of the Ordo Malleus is Gustav Starr, the Emperor's enforcer. A stark, inflexible man that believes in order above all things and has a violent streak a galaxy wide, he is not a pariah but he inspires more fear than any of them with his glass eye and scarred face. The other members of the Ordo Malleus are all psychic blanks and they are all being deployed to planets that are potential targets for a Chaos Incursion to keep the 'Veil', as the Emperor has come to call the illusion that the immaterium is immaterial. The Emperor remains ignorant of the Excession that has appearead in the Halo Star Cluster and of the motive of the V Legion's betrayal. Out of all the six factions, the Imperium is by far the most powerful. Their Goal is to survive the coming End Times.

new developments: Still ignorant as for the motive of the V Legion's betrayal, the Emperor dispatched the entire I Legion (formerly Ultramarines) along with their Primarch, Guilliman, to track the White Scars down and bring them to justice. The entire 7th Expeditionary has been lost to the Excession and the Emperor is considering investigating this thing directly. He still remains ignorant about its true nature.


Warmaster Jeremiah has mobilized all Traitor Legions and Daemonic Hosts for the Fourteenth Black Crusade, under the blessing of the Great God of Chaos Undivided, Slaanesh. Though Jeremiah and his Field Marshall Doombred have opted to focus on the Imperium, they both know that a defensive war agains the Eldar is inevitable. Slaanesh has heavily emphasized that they choose targets that are of value both to the Imperium and to the Eldar, both for strategical and personal considerations. A rift is already developing between Slaanesh's will and Doombreed's strategical considerations, though Jeremiah remians neutral. The Fourteenth Black Crusade boasts as many men as the Imperium, though their technology is significantly outdated and they are particularly susceptible to the psychic nulls that seem to have become a plague as of late. They intend to use the Imperium's disbelief to their advantage, shock-and-awe tactics to break the Imperium's morale before breaking its back entirely. Their goal is Terra, at least for the moment.

New Developments: The White Scars had to retreat back into the Warp to avoid the Emperor's retribution, and can no longer stage deep strikes within the Ultima Segmentum. and the Word Bearers' Legion is severely depleted. Lorgar plots to betray Jeremiah to win back The Great God's Favor.


The Phoenix Lords are assembled at Craftworld Ynnead along with all other Craftworlds. Their wraithbone structure has fused together to create a massive, warp-and-webway capable craft that dwarfs any planet existent in the Materium. Now all Eldar Infinity Circuits have been fused into a single one at the core of Ynnead, and as the soulstones of the long-dead maintain the technology of the Eldar Race, the Bloody-Handed God maintains its cohesion through his presence alone. Only the joining of Craftworld Alaitoc is needed to launch an all-out attack against the Great Enemy in a scale that has never been seen before. Although not as powerful as the Imperium or Chaos, the Eldar have countless warriors with centuries of training and unlimited dedication to the craft of War. Theirs is a force to be reckoned with. Their Goal is the annihiliation of Slaanesh.

New Developments: Word has reached the Phoenix Conclave that Alaitoc has been lost to the Resistance, along with its Autarch, who is imprisoned. The Rhana Dhandra, the last battle between materium and immaterium prophesied by ancient Eldar Lore, will be fought without them. Craftworld Altansar has succesfully joined with Ynnead though the Eldar remain suspicious of both it and its Phoenix Lord, Maugan Ra.


Primarchs Leman Russ and Vulkan are re-uniting the old legions for their last war, and their efforts have so far been very successful. The Custodian utilizes his regal presence and air of natural command to muster sympathy and acquire tropps for the cause throughout the Ultima Segmentum, and all three primarchs plans to either consolidate or expand their activities soon. Even though they count in their numbers many Astartes Legions and five powerful primarchs, this is the weaker of all six factions, and cannot hope to possibly match the military might of any of the others. Their goal is returning the Imperium to the Pre-Heresy days.

This may be a lofty goal: They'll have to contend with all other factions to reach it, so they'll most likely heavily rely on their enemies doing their work for them.

new developments: Horus "Warpbane" and Magnus the Red have comandeered Craftworld Alaitoc and imprisoned its treacherous Autarch. Vulkan and Leman Russ are finishing their recruitment drive. The Custodian awaits for the ideal moment to strike. Eldar assistance now seems extremely unlikely and they might yet figure as an outright foe.


Warboss Bonnapartah has smashed through Accatran with the help of the White Scars and amassed himself an arsenal he had never dreamed of. Though in his mind there could be never enough Dakka, he reckoned he was pretty close to reaching the limit. After the Looting of Accatran came the Scouring of Charadon, where the Warboss put the Arch-Arsonist on fire and kicked him inside a promethium furnace, becoming the undisputed Warboss of all orks in the Charadon Empire. Almost overnight, his Waaagh has increased tenfold in both number and arms, and is now harassing the Imperial Planets of the Ultima Segmentum with a cunning ferocity the Imperial Regiments find impossible to stop. They have the potential to become a very real threat if Bonnapartah can keep his boys from infighting and if he continues to increase their number. As things stand, it is impossible to gauge just how much of a threat they pose. Their Goal is putting the Golden Throne inside Bonnapartah's Battlewagon (he got himself a new one) because it's not propa widdout it.

new developments: The Orks are hard at work consolidating their power in Charadon and its surrounding worlds. Forgeworld Accatran proved to be an almost endless treasury of machines for war, and Mekboy Big Iron is hard at work converting beautifully ornate, 10-thousand-year old relics such as Imperator Titans into horrendously ugly but powerful Kustom Mega Gargantz. Madhatta has apparently learned how to form a mindlink with a Reaver-Class Titan, but being unable to control it properly, has severely damaged it by rushing it headlong into a Void Field.


On the Fringes of the Segmentum Obscurus stands the mightiest of the 36 Hive Fleets currently on a warpath towards the Imperium of Man. Commanded by the Swarmlord, Hive Fleet Iblis is the most biologically advanced of all Hive Fleets and boasts the largest number of lifeforms. However, with every passing moment the Swarmlord finds it more and more difficult to attune his will to the will of the Hivemind. It is unpredictable, and after discovering the Mind-Engram of the Magos Errant, the voices in its flesh are urging the Swarmlord to head to the Excession. By itself, Hive Fleet Iblis is formidable and can easily outperform most of the other factions in direct warfare, although it needs the biomass to do so, and the Emperor has had a thousand years to prepare for the coming of the Tyranid species. However, if combined with the remaining 35 Hive Fleets, the Tyrant Swarm outnumbers all other factions and is nigh unstoppable, their only weakness being the relatively large technological gap between the Imperium's weapons of war and their own bio-engineering. Their goal is to carry out the Hivemind's Great Work, whatever that may be.

new developments: Iblis has been stealthily infiltrating the Calixis Sector's upper echelons with genestealer, and has remained undiscovered thus far. The Swarmlord, its Hive Fleet at the fringes of the Ultima Segmentum, watches over the Excession, seemingly obsessed with it. The 35 remaining hive fleets move slowly but surely to consume the Imperium whole.









Imperial thought for the day: Ignorance is a mask for traitors


Rynn’s World, in the Loki Sector of the Ultima Segmentum, was approximately halfway between the Ork Empire of Charadon and the Imperial Realms of Ultramar. It was home to the fortress-monastery of the Crimson Fists, a Second Founding Chapter derived from the Imperial Fists and Rogal Dorn. In the last century of M41, it became a battlefield when Snagrod, the Arch-Arsonist of Charadon sent Warboss Uzrog to invade and conquer it. After a catastrophic trillion-to-one chance failure in the Planetary Defense Systems integrated in the Fortress-Monastery, the Crimson Fists were all but wiped out and the orkish Waaagh raged on unabated until the Reclamation of Rynn’s World about two decades after the orks made planetfall. The planet was in Ruins, only its capital remaining a habitable place, and the Chapter had been reduced from 1000 strong to a meager 200 weary veterans, led by Chapter-Master Pedro Kantor. During the entire war, the Ultramarines sent no assistance.

Rynn’s World was painstakingly rebuilt, its population slowly but steadily growing while former PDFs and Space Marines were turned into masons and farmers. During the Emperor’s Second Coming and Thousand-Year Reign, the Crimson Fists were integrated in the III Legion, also home to Imperial Fists, Black Templars and other Chapters that carried Dorn’s gene-seed. Each of the 9 Imperial Legions was divided into ten fellowships, usually former Astartes Chapter that now had a number instead of a name. The Crimson Fists were now the III Legion 2nd Fellowship, and were back to a thousand-strong army. In the aftermath of the Second Battle for Rynn’s World, some of the more superstitious citizens of the Imperium (no doubt due for the Black Ships soon) would state that the Crimson Fists were simply cursed.


After the Looting of Accatran, the Emperor dispatched the three Fellowships of the I Legion, led by Guilliman himself, to either exterminate or imprison the treacherous White Scars. The former V Legion had plotted a course to the nearest Warp Rift, which happened to be in the vicinity of Rynn’s World. Subotai, Great Khan of the Legion, intended to flee to the Immaterium and reunite with his Khagan, giving Doombreed full command over the White Scars Horde. This plan was cut short when Subotai’s fleet was shot down over Rynn’s World by the Ultramarines, who made planetfall shortly after.

The White Scars quickly abandoned their crashed ships and made their way with lightning speed towards the mountains and steppes of Rynn’s World, where the Ultramarines lost them. Guilliman, reluctantly, was forced to ask for the help of the Crimson Fists in this pursuit. For his part, Chapter-Master Kantor agreed to help the Three Fellowships navigate Rynn’s mountains with bad grace, well aware that the Ultramarines had done nothing to help the Crimson Fists a thousand years before when the Green Tide descended upon the planet.

The White Scars proceeded to signal their position to the Chaos War Host. Jeremiah gave Doombreed leave to command a Chaos Warband, lead it to Rynn’s World, and rescue the White Scars. It would be the first battle of the Fourteenth Black Crusade, and Jeremiah would not pass up the opportunity of striking at both the Crimson Fists and the Ultramarines. With Doombreed’s tactical brilliance and the aid of five thousand traitor White Scars, half of the V Legion and the entire contingent that had turned to Chaos, the Warmaster was confident that the battle would go his away. The Warband would arrive in a few days, and the White Scars were safely hidden in the slopes of Rynn’s World network of jagged peaks.

Kantor had no idea why the White Scars were being pursued. Guilliman dismissed his questions simply by telling him it was the Emperor’s will that their former brethren be brought to justice. Not in a position to stand up to a Primarch, the Crimson Fists’ Chapter-Master swallowed his pride and assembled the most knowledgeable of PDF and Astartes scouts, attaching them to the three I Legion Fellowships and hoping this would prove enough to root out the White Scars. The 2nd Fellowship of the III legion was told by Guilliman that there would be no need for their Battle-Companies to be mobilized. Adding insult to injury, Guilliman remarked in a mocking tone that this dangerous task was for the Ultramarines alone.

“Battle-Brothers! We march by the Emperor’s orders to cleanse our treacherous brethren. We march to war. We march for Maccrage!” Boomed Guilliman.

“AND WE SHALL KNOW NO FEAR!” Answered the three Fellowships in unison.

All these careful considerations and righteous zeal were thrown to the wind when, just two days after the Ultramarines making planetfall, the Green Tide came crashing down from the sky in blazing rokkz. Those few denizens of Rynn’s World that survived the battle would claim they saw a figure wearing a top hat and monocle doing a merry jig atop one of the flaming ships. This was later dismissed as shell-shock.


Now a tried and tested Bonnapartah method of waging war, the rokkz crash-landed inside the main communications hub of the planet. This meant New Rynn City, Rynn’s Capital and Fortress-Monastery of the Crimson Fists. Attacking a Space Marines Homeworld was suicidal at best, but Bonnapartah was unfazed. This time, the Planetary Defense Grid worked as intended and managed to shoot down a few rokkz before they landed, as well as erecting a Void Shield around New Rynn City, thus deflecting the remaining rokkz from the city and stopping the Waaaagh from disrupting the planet’s communications. The Waaagh, mostly composed of Orks from Charadon, was eager to succeed where Snagrod had failed and conquer this world once and for all.

Kantor sent out a distress signal to the Ultramarines, who were already deep inside the mountains hunting the White Scars. Guilliman told the Chapter Master that the orks were his problem, and added that the Crimson Fists were expert at repelling Waaaghs, so the green tide shouldn’t prove much of a difficulty. Kantor’s enraged diatribe telling Guilliman that this Waaagh outnumbered his Fellowship and the entire PDF 10-to-1 was met with indifference from Guilliman. Orks were no more than an annoyance, and a Traitor Legion was a far deadlier foe. Big Iron, who had managed to tap inside the vox-comms of both the Astartes Legion, let out a small, malicious laugh.

“Oy Boss, looks like dere’s humies fightin’ some other humies in the mountains and dese here humies inside the city are asking dose other humies for help but them other humies tole ‘em to sod off.” Said Big Iron, eloquently.

“Yeah? Well, wot’s dat to us?”

“I reckon if we go off to dem mountains and catch dose other humies unawares we’d have a better chance at a right and propa Waaagh instead of tryna crack dese here walls” Answered Big Iron, pointing towards the Void Shield that encompassed New Rynn City.

“Yeah? What youse fink, Madhatta?”

“Dem other humies what da humies in the mountins are fightin’ are Chaos Humies, boss, I feels it by the pricking o’ me thumbs. Might be dey’re willing to team up, informal-like, so’s we can bugger dem humies from da back while dem chaos boyz bugger ‘em from the front, then we’s can come back ‘ere and give this city a propa seeing-to.”

“Yeah? Yeah, that’s smart finkin’ on yer part, right enuff. But this ‘ere world’s mine and I don’t want no chaos boys innit.”

“I reckon if it comes to a brawl we can take ‘em out too, Boss.” Answered Madhatta from the cockpit of his Reaver-Class Titan.


A) WAAAAAAAAAGH (Keep up the Siege of New Rynn City)


B) WAAAAAAAAGH! (Attack the Ultramarines from the back like propa sneaky gitz)


C) WAAAAAAAGH! ( Inform the White Scars through Madhatta that you’re here and that you’re ready to rock. Then attack the Ultramarines form the back like propa sneaky gitz.)


D) WAAAAAAAAGH! (Inform the White Scars through Madhatta that you’re here and that you’re ready to rock. Then promptly turn your back on them and continue the siege of New Rynn City, like propa bastard gitz.)

E) WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! (Other: Please specify)



Imperial thought for the day: Do not wait for death

Madhatta sent the telepathic message to the easiest target he could find: 1st Fellowship's Stormseer, Temür. The White Scars Psyker, after recovering from the crude assault upon his mind by an ork weirdboy, relayed the information to Subotai. Orks were known to be powerful psychic receptacles, but thus far no sign of the refined art of telepathy had been seen among their kind. Considering this, the great Khan immediately suspected treachery. Temür, however, was able to establish a tenuous mind-link with the weirdboy and verified that the point of origin was indeed an orc, though the Stormseer cryptically remarked the xeno was "a warped one".

Subotai considered the situation. He was already expecting reinforcements from Doombreed, and he could hide out in the mountains doing only lightning raids for as long as it took to lay low the Ultramarines. The orks' offer of assistance was unnecessary at best, and at worst, a complication. The White Scars' priority was the Ultramarines and their Primarch. Rynn's World could wait, and it would be ripe for the taking after the Imperium was done with the green tide. If the xenos were offering their guns, he might as well make the best of them. The great Khan would be surprised if he knew Madhatta was thinking along the same lines.

The Warboss led his troops on a forced march through the ravines and crags of Rynn’s mountains. The Ultramarines had a sizeable head start and the Astartes were much better prepared for a trek through the mountains than the orks. About a third of the Waaagh had been left behind, along with Madhatta and Big Iron, at New Rynn City. Bonnapartah did not want to risk getting caught between the Ultramarines and the Crimson Fists inside some misbegotten valley so he commanded the siege be maintained, though not at full strength. It would presumably take days for the orkish main forces to reach the Space Marines, and the kommando scouts had not reported anything so far.

Meanwhile, Big Iron had managed to convince Madhatta that the reason he had been unable to fire his Titan’s weapons was that the construct was not orky enough. Madhatta grumbled, unwilling to deface the relic he had acquired in Accatran after killing the Titan Legion’s Grandmaster. He was apparently very proud of being able to control a ‘humie walking fing’ without having to strip it of its complex mechanisms and put gretchin everywhere to operate the far cruder mechanisms that powered Gargants and other orkish machines of war. The Titan, standing about thirty meters tall and coloured in crimson trimmed with gold was indeed an impressive sight, one of the oldest Titan STCs from the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Eventually, a compromise was reached: Since the Titan did not need to go very fast it would be painted blue instead, for luck, and spiky bitz would be added. If Madhatta was still unable to fire the thing’s guns then, Big Iron would have no other choice other than strip it for parts or turn it into a gargant. Hundreds of gretchin started the arduous task of painting the gargantuan machine blue, with the weirdboy telling them to ‘keep yer filthy ‘ands off da gold bitz, dey’re shiny’ and adding jagged strips of metal to the thing’s every surface. All the while the siege progressed, Madhatta and Big Iron quite oblivious to the sound of cannon fire from the orkish looted tanks and the answering artillery salvo of heavy bolters and demolisher cannons mounted atop New Rynn’s parapets.


The Ultramarines rearguard had entrenched itself in the narrow gorge and sustained very few losses compared to the orkish horde. Though Bonnapartah was loath to use the typical orkish strategy of shouting and charging, he had no other tactical option while fighting in this particular battlefield. The side passages apparently led nowhere, and he had no means of climbing the gorge’s steep walls. He had to rely on the orks’ numeric superiority to charge the Astartes rearguard and wear them down enough so he could breach through it. But in this narrow place numbers alone counted for little, while the superior experience and equipment the Ultramarines possessed counted for much more. The Waaagh threw itself countless times against the wall of blue ceramite to no avail. The Space Marines were heavily dug in and could easily lay waste to an entire assault with their bolters before the orks even reached mêlée range.

Bonnapartah ordered a retreat, a few inches beyond maximum bolter range, and glowered at the fortified space marines on the other side of the gorge. He had sent all his Kommando Nobs to thoroughly investigate the labyrinthine network of passages that surrounded the gorge and find a way to outflank the blasted blue humans. Though he had been a Kommando Nob himself and was eager to join in, confident he was better than all the other gits combined, he knew that after being ordered to retreat the orks’ morale would suffer a severe blow if they saw their Warboss sneaking away inside the mountains. These Charadon orks were more hard-headed than his original boys, and they apparently saw no problem in charging endlessly against the Astartes’ superior position until they were all dead. Since the Warboss very much intended to win, he thought this line of reasoning problematic.

The Warboss cursed the White Scars for not taking this obvious opportunity to attack their opponents from the rear while the Orks did a frontal charge. It would crush the Ultramarines utterly, but the White Scars forces were nowhere to be seen. The same fact was puzzling Roboute Guilliman, who had scoured every inch and crevice of Rynn’s mountains for almost a week without finding any sign of the five-thousand strong force of superhuman soldiers wearing power armor. They were hardly inconspicuous, yet the traitor marines had managed to disappear inside Rynn’s World’s mosaic of peaks and valleys.


“Dey’re ‘ere, boss”

The sky went crimson as the warp rippled and spat out a fleet of ships. The drop-pods landed almost instantly. Doombreed had arrived. The Warboss saw the Ultramarines being cut down by blades of warpfire as Bloodletters materialized inside the Space Marines’ position. This was Bonnapartah’s chance to break their lines. But the White Scars had done nothing, had just let the Ultramarines busy themselves with Bonnapartah’s boys until the Chaos Fleet arrived. The Warboss doubted the Bloodletters would be more amiable to him than they were to the Ultramarines.

Do you:


B) Screw dese humies an’ chaos boys, we’s goin’ back to the city and finish our business.

C) Oy that’s a proper battle right enough, pass me the popcorn and let’s wait for them to be finished so’s we can charge an’ cut their throats when they’re done.



Imperial thought for the day: Praise the sun that brings the dawn of our final ascension

The solitary figure watched the flickering lights across thousands upon thousands of holodisplays. This vaulted underground chamber was once the God-Emperor’s laboratory, the workshop in which he applied his eons of accumulated knowledge. Here were born the twenty Primarchs, a statue of each adorning the filigreed rock walls of the vast room. Here was where the Emperor planned the Golden Path, the course of Mankind’s evolution and eventual salvation. Here he practiced warpcraft, plying the hostile currents of the Immaterium and bending them into shapes more to his liking. And here he had begun his work on the Human Webway, mankind’s shield against the corruption of the empyrean.

In the Emperor’s day, this chamber was filled with the works of the Great Masters, triptychs, portraits and great tapestries hanging from every wall. Illuminated tomes of monks and Saracen wise men lay on plinths or nested with great care in carved oak bookshelves. In the Emperor’s day, this chamber was the ultimate receptacle of mankind’s genius, creativity, and sometimes folly. It was said that only inside this place the Emperor felt humbled. But even in His day, this workshop was not just a repository of wisdom. Complex machines and strange contraptions buzzed and whirred, crucibles bubbled and vials of many colors were laid inside centrifuges. Next to a treaty on pacifism some would find designs for an improved bolter, and next to the painting of a swallow in midflight this very same bolter could be found. It was a place of contradictions, and that suited the Emperor perfectly, for He wished that this place be a mirror of mankind’s soul.

This notion greatly amused the figure that now watched the holodisplays it had set up alongside the walls of the chamber. Gone were the books and treaties, the great works of art, the marble sculptures and drawings of human anatomy. Now the place was filled with the rhythmic, soulless humming of a manufactorum. Wires and cables lay everywhere, connecting thousands upon thousands of mechanisms of alien design to a central processing hub in the form of a floating sphere made of hyperdense matter. Gone was the glory of the olden days, replaced by the stark greyness of the machine.

The Void Dragon, alone in the middle of this grim place, looked upon the holodisplays depicting the battle for Rynn’s World. He watched as the Ultramarines Primarch cut down wave after wave of Traitor Marines, watched as the orks broke the Ultramarines formation and proceeded to slaughter many of them and watched as Doombreed, armed with nothing but a recurved bow and a quiversful of arrows felled enemy upon enemy. Doombreed’s arrows never missed their mark, and when they hit the target would combust in a shower of boiling blood, the violent death a catalyst for another bloodletter spawning on the battlefield. Such was the power of Chaos, the Void Dragon mused, as he looked on.

He pressed a dial and a hologram of Prime Minister Caidin materialized beside him. He spoke of duty and honor, of the need to dispel superstition, but mostly he spoke of the need to sacrifice a few to save many. Caidin did not question his Emperor’s orders; he merely relayed them to the Navis Nobilite and the Battlebarges in orbit above Rynn’s World.


“Get every last one o’ dem gitz, boyz! WAAAAAAAGH!”


Bonnapartah led a reckless charge against the Ultramarines’ defensive line, and when he breached it, he merely kept going. He did not notice that the daemons were avoiding him and his troops, nor did he notice that the White Scars and their Khagan were focused solely on the systematic annihilation of the Ultramarines. Outnumbered and severely outgunned, Guilliman’s Astartes could do little than fight to their last, crunched between the green tide and the daemon horde. Guilliman’s arrogance had made him eschew taking up any sort of tactical positions along the ridges of the canyons and gorges they were fighting in; he wanted to rile the White Scars and bait them into attacking. Had he not been occupied holding off the Orkish assault, this tactic might have worked.

White Scars were much less experienced at close combat than the Ultramarines, and they could not hope to blitzkrieg their way through Rynn’s peaks and achieve a victory. Their jetbikes were unreliable on the faulty terrain and after they revealed their positions, nothing was stopping the Ultramarines from a close combat assault. But the timely intervention of the orks and daemons was Guilliman’s undoing. Suffering multiple simultaneous deep strikes inside his own positions while the orks charged at them from their only retreat route was likely to spell doom for the three thousand Astartes that wore blue this day. Though they fought fiercely, the Ultramarines were fighting a losing battle. Guilliman realized this, and all the while he sought Doombreed on the field, hoping to engage the fiend in single combat.

The White Scars, freed from the shackles of blind obedience to the False Emperor, relished this carnage, attacking with a ferocity and abandon that was uncharacteristic of their highly disciplined combat doctrine.

“BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!” Screamed Subotai as his jetbike descended upon a hapless squad of Devastator Marines. They did not even had time to re-align their weapons before Subotai’s Powerblade cut them all in half.

Doombreed celebrated this great battle in honor of the Skull Throne by putting an arrow through the eye of the nearest ultramarine, whose scream was cut short when a bloodletter erupted from his innards, still covered in the boiling guts of the fallen Astartes. Bonnapartah, still oblivious to the fact that the Ruinous Powers were not against him this day, was merely chopping his way up through the ranks, hoping to find the biggest and baddest of the humans and give him a proper beating. His orks followed suit, though the poorly-disciplined and poorly-equipped Charadon greenskins were also falling by the dozens to Ultramarine bolter fire.

In the skies, the situation was somewhat more intense. The Space Marines’ battlebarges and strike cruisers were frantically trying to maneuver and evade the broadsides of the warp-imbued chaos warships, trying to get into position to provide orbital support to their brothers on the ground. All this changed, however, when the Astropatic Chorus of Guilliman’s flagship, the Gladius of Ultramar, received Caidin’s order. The Ultramar Fleet immediately changed their positioning, now intent to getting as close as possible to the planet’s surface while being constantly dogged by the chaos vessels. Though Doombreed’s ships were slowing them down, the Ultramar Fleet was gaining ground over their traitor pursuers and would be in range in a matter of days if the situation did not change drastically.

“In range of what, Temür?” Asked Subotai, as his Chief Stormseer dragged him outside the battle to relay the information he had gleaned from the Astropatic Communication.



Guilliman finally made his way to the pile of corpses that Doombreed stood upon, and laughed at the old man’s pathetic figure. Shorter even than the average human, with a trimmed mustache and aged dark eyes, the only thing that betrayed the Khagan’s daemonic heritage was his slightly reddish skin and the way the air around him seemed to smolder. He wore simple robes, only a quiver of arrows at his back and a short sword at the waist. Guilliman drew his own Gladius, throwing his stormbolter aside, and charged at the unimposing old man. Doombreed fired a salvo of arrows with inhuman speed, and those few Ultramarines that could see the duel knew their Primarch lost. But Guilliman merely snatched the arrows out of the air and crushed them inside his mailed fist, laughing all the while.

“So this is the Great Daemon Prince of Khorne. You would fight against me with a bow and arrow?” Roared the Primarch, though unlike Russ’ usual snarl of contempt, his words dripped with amusement.

Doombreed merely shrugged and let fly another volley, which the Primarch sidestepped and kept going at the Daemon Prince.

“You are a relic, Genghis. It’s high time you retired and enjoyed a little peace in your old age, don’t you think?”

The Khagan shrugged again, and slung his bow across his back, drawing his scimitar. It had no runes etched on it, no engravings, and no ornaments. A wiser man than Guilliman would have recognized the danger of a simple, sharp blade in the hands of a true warrior. The Primarch charged straight towards Doombreed, his sword held at chest height, hoping to land a quick thrust and end this. And with just a silken swish in the air, Guilliman was cleaved from shoulder to hip, falling to the ground and giving up the ghost. Doombreed prodded him with his foot, and pushed him downhill, the Primarch’s corpse rolling down the pile of bodies.

Only then did the great Khagan allow himself a little smile.


Bonnapartah was halfway through a Terminator when Temür appeared beside him, and mustered all his psychic might into a powerful aetheric blow that would have flayed the flesh of a lesser man. Bonnapartah stumbled, muttered an insult, and finally paid attention to the figure next to him.

“Wot? Wot? Wot is it youse want, ya whitey git? Can’t yez see I’m in the middle o’ somfin’ ‘ere?” Inquired Bonnapartah, holding half the Ultramarine Terminator in his right hand.

“Shut up and listen, ork. You noticed…No, you haven’t, have you? No matter. We have not attacked your forces. We did not need to. But the Imperial Fleet above the planet is about to raze this entire world and turn everything to ash with holy fire, so you’d better listen to what I have to say.”

“Oh? I’s better, eh? Mind yer tongue or ye’ll be next.”

“There’s no time for this. Listen to me! If you don’t retreat immediately and breach New Rynn’s void shield with your forces, all of us will burn. Do you understand? We will provide orbital support but it is imperative you do this quickly. Our fleet will not hold off the Imperial Navy forever. You have to breach the New Rynn City, take control of the Planetary Defense Grid, and blow those ships out of the sky before they burn us to cinders! Do you understand!?”

“Do I?”


“Indeed. Aye, I gets what yer tellin’ me. Yez deal with dem blue humies while we save the day, dat’s it? And after, we get to share da planet? Now, I ain’t one to be mistrustin’ a chaos boy, but that don’t seem too likely.”

“We’ll deal with the afterwards…Afterwards.”

Bonnapartah chewed on a broken tooth, spat it out, and considered this.


The Eye of Terra flared high above the Astronomican while the Void Dragon tinkered with the dials and digits in his laboratory. Silica Animus, mankind had called it. Time to put it to the test. The holoscreens that encircled the Dragon displayed a single message as the cogitator systems started loading the necessary subroutines for the transference.


Guilliman’s body stirred.


Do you:

A) Accept the Stormseer’s proposal, retreating with your forces from the battle in an attempt to breach New Rynn City and assume control of the Planetary Defense Grid, thus preventing an Exterminatus? It sounds sensible, and should the chaos boys turn on you, well, they’ll taste the Hatechoppa.

B) Bugger off from the planet altogether. There are still some killkroozas functional, and though they’re not enough to carry every ork, they’re enough to carry the biggest and the strongest of them. Let this world burn. What do you care, anyway? There’s plenty more, and you might as well let the Imperium and Chaos kill each other. This has been a good Waaagh.

C) Reject the Proposal and tell Madhatta and Big Iron to figure out a way to infiltrate the Imperial Fleet and stop the Exterminatus while you press on with your attack, now against the Daemon Horde? They’re unlikely to be friendly after you helped them, and if they regroup and attack you, there’s a reasonable chance they might overwhelm you entirely. Here and now, they are fragile. Do note that while Madhatta’s mad ideas and Big Iron’s ludicrous machines have saved you before, this might be a tall order for them and there’s no guarantee of success.



Imperial thought for the day: A wise man always seeks compromise

“Well, Ork? What is your answer?”

“Aye, White Scar, We’ll do do as ye says…fer now. Go an’ tell yer warboss dat. And I reckon if youse be finkin’ o’ turnin’ on us when we get dem humies outta der sky, well…We’ll show yez a propa Waaagh. Now sod off.”

The stormseer, baffled by the Warboss’ knowledge of Astartes Heraldry, promptly rushed off to Subotai’s position and reported the news. Meanwhile, Bonnapartah rallied his Nobs on a hilltop (of bodies) overlooking the battlefield, and spoke:

“It’s zoggin beautiful, I tells ye. But we’s gotta work to do if we ain’t aimin’ fer the painboy’s care, so round up da boyz and tell ‘em to back off. We’s goin’ back to dat humie city and finish off what needs finishin’. Get to it, ya grots.”

The Nobs grunted and cursed but the Warboss shut them up with a few choice bits of his knuckles and they slouched off to rein in the ork offensive, grumbling all the while. What both Bonnapartah and Temür apparently failed to consider was that, in a three-mile-wide all-out brawl, commanding troops was a daunting ask and Commanding orks doubly so. By the time the nobs were finished, half of the Orkish force had been gathered; the rest lay dead, dying, or so thoroughly engaged in battle they couldn’t be bothered to retreat. The Warboss made his way back through Rynn’s Peaks treacherous ravines and gullies with extreme haste, cursing himself for his perceived act of cowardice. But Bonnapartah was a simple ork and he quickly brightened up when, hit by a piece of shrapnel, he looked upwards and saw the flames and smoke spiraling over New Rynn City.

“Wot ho, Wyrdboy! I seez ya got dat gargant o’ yours workin” Said the Warboss appreciatively, looking at the smouldering ruins of New Rynn City. The Reaver-Class Battle Titan had indeed been able to make use of its weapons after Big Iron’s overhaul, and the Void Shield was of little defense against its millennia-old weaponry. The orks who had been left back at the siege were now pillaging and fighting in the ruined streets against PDF squads and Chapter-Master Kantor’s Space Marines, the Crimson Fists. It was a pitched battle, but the Charadon orks were veterans of urban warfare and were gaining the upper hand.

To Bonnapartah, it looked like a matter of hours until they reached the Aegis Cathedral and accessed the Planetary Defense Grid, thus preventing an Exterminatus and hopefully getting some more dakka out of it. Not bad for a few days’ work, Bonnapartah considered, as he rolled himself a foul-smelling cigar made of Duskleaf. The Burning of Valhalla, the Looting of Accatran, the Scourging of Charadon…Where would it end? The Warboss grinned to himself before spying a mob of Nobs playing Blood Bowl using the head of a PDF soldier as the ball and barked:

“Oy, you lot, stop muckin’ about! Dem chaos boyz are comin’ round any minute now, and we ain’t giving dose gits nuffin’. So if they’s come for a-fightin’, I want all youse snazzed up and propa ready!”

“And painted blue, fer luck” Added Madhatta, now out of his Titan and wandering around the makeshift ork headquarters with yet another headache.

“Yeah…? Blue dint work out too well for dose humies, I reckon.” Said Bonnapartah, taking a drag from his cigar. Looking up, he noticed that most of the Chaos Warships seemed to have vanished into the Warp, and the Ultramarines Fleet was now approaching fast.

“Well, we dint need ‘em anyways. But get a move on, why don’tcher? I ain’t too keen on being glassed by dem cycr…cyclo…by dem big explodin’ burnin’ fings dose humies has.” He said to Big Iron. Thunderhawk transports were now dropping down from the Imperial Fleet, apparently to evacuate the populace. But the Crimson Fists who weren’t engaged with the orkish horde were refusing to embark. Big Iron tapped one of his gadgets, and called the Warboss and Madhatta to his side.

“Oys boss, Lissen to dis. I managed to intercept dem humie comms, seems they ain’t too pleased”

A screech of static, and Kantor’s voice:

“On whose order is this Exterminatus being performed?! We harbour no heresy here; we can beat back these greenskins if reinforcements are sent! And three thousand of the Emperor’s finest fight in the gorges to root out our treacherous brothers, and will soon return triumphant. Why consign this planet to the flames?”

“That is none of your concern. The order comes from the Primarch itself. This planet has been tainted with Chaos, and will be purged. If you do not board the Thunderhawks, then you will be purged alongside it.” Another voice, sharper and with more than a hint of repressed anger.

“That is nonsense! What taint?! It is but a chaos warband, if even that! We can beat them back! We can hold out in our crags and forts until reinforcements come! This is my Chapter’s Home World! I will not let you burn it to cinders!”

“You will not?” The other voice spat “Emperor’s Bowels! You’re one uppity mutant, aren’t you? There are no reinforcements coming. You either get out now, or I’ll gladly blast you alongside those green idiots and traitors. I don’t give two tugs of a dead grox’s cock if this is your Chapter’s Home World or not. Get out, or get burnt.”

“To hell with you and your Ordo Malleus, Starr! Vulkan wasn’t lying when he warned me about the way things are done now! I won’t let you do this, you malicious, lying treacherous son of a whore, filthy –“

Big Iron’s gadget became silent. The three orks clustered around it wore a puzzled expression.

“Seems we’s has ourselves an unwittin’ ally, I reckon.” Said Madhatta, after a while.

“Yeah? Yeah, Gork take me, but that’s wot it seems right enuff. We dun really need ‘im, Wyrdboy. A few more hours and I’ll push those buttons and be done wiv it.” Asnwered Big Iron.

The Warboss’s expression was thoughtful. Yes, they could charge and get to the Aegis Cathedral, but without the Chaos Warships to dog the Imperial Navy, Exterminatus might come at any minute now. On the other hand, we’ve just burned this man’s city to the ground and killed Mork knows how many of his men. The Warboss wasn’t too sure an offer of mutual assistance would be taken to kindly. And where in the warp were the other Chaos boyz, anyway?


Attempt to communicate with Kantor, suggest a cease-fire, and tell him he should get the Planetary Defense Grid up so you can use your own killkroozas to scuttle the Imperial Navy?

Do you just charge in, attempt to take control of Aegis Cathedral in time, and let Big Iron work his magic?




“Big Ir’n’s right, Madhatta. Ain’t no point in parlyin...pralay...per...talkin’ wiv desse humies if we’s already getting our work done. Now go help dose gretchin get dem Waaaagh banners up and you Mekboy, you go down ta der Cathedral and get it done.”

Both of the other orks nodded, and the Warboss continued smoking his cigar. He was reminiscing on the good times he had as a Kommando Nob under Kaptin Bludflagg in the Aurelian Waaagh, where, the Kaptin had said, he had learned to think ‘propa orky’. He remembered the Kaptin parlaying with the human Inquisitor, and then getting what he wanted anyway. He nodded to himself. That was the proper orkish way. He then frowned, apparently realizing something, and shouted after Big Iron. But he was too far away to hear.

Kantor, coming to the realization all was lost, ordered all his Marines to fall back and defend the Aegis Cathedral. He had no idea the orks were coming to try and activate the Planetary Defense Grid, or even that they knew about it, and so he reasoned it was essential that it be protected to prevent the incoming Exterminatus. The Crimson fists were now entrenched and dug in around the Cathedral, putting the orks in they same position they had been against the Ultramarines in the gorge: A hail of bolter fire was enough to fell any charge. The Astartes’ formation, however, was thinly spread around the Cathedral, a meagre 500 Space Marines against the endless green tide. Numbers alone would overwhelm them soon, and Big Iron was hastily assembling heavy-weapons teams and commanding looted tanks in order to accelerate that very process. All the Warboss could see of New Rynn City was light glinting off green and gray as the full contingent of orks descended upon it towards the Aegis Cathedral.

Kantor managed to activate the Defense Grid as bolter and cannon fire roared outside, but the power nodes across the city had been damaged by the fighting and were not nearly enough to bring the full power of Rynn’s Arms to bear. If Big Iron were there, with his unnatural and intuitive grasp of technology, things might have been different. If Bonnapartah himself ordered the gretchin to do a quick patch-up of the power nodes, things might have been different. Alone against Orks, Chaos and his own beloved Imperium, Chapter-Master Kantor of the Crimson Fists only managed to activate a meagre handful of Titanforge Batteries and Ryza-Pattern Plasma Macrocannons. The Imperial Navy in orbit answered with a salvo of Sollex-Pattern Orbital Sunsear Batteries, spears of impossibly bright white light beaming from the ships and vaporizing whatever they hit. Big Iron's squads breached the Crimson fists position, but too late. Much too late.

“C’mon wyrdboy, I’s got me tunnels dug ‘n ready. “ Said Bonnapartah, dragging Madhatta along a dusty track through the ork encampment and inside a hastily-built tunnel, were the Warboss had secreted away a Tellyporta.

“Seez? Let’s leg it before Gork ‘n Mork come a-callin’”

“Bu-but me Titan! I jus’ painned it blue!”

“Blue ain’t yer lucky color today, wyrdboy. Leave dat and live to fight again anudda day”

“I can takes it with us!” Madhatta hurried back to his Titan, plugged in some wires apparently at random in the Tellyporta, and climbed inside the Reaver. Then he concentrated, and let flow the power of the warp, relocating time and space to wherever and whenever it saw fit. There was no sound for a while, an explosion, and half the Reaver was missing, its legs standing without a torso. There was some shrapnel here and there, but not nearly as much as there should’ve been.

“Lost to der warp” Mumbled Bonnapartah, stepping inside the Tellyporta and arriving in a Killkrooza hidden in low orbit behind one of Rynn’s moons. Madhatta or the rest of his Titan were nowhere to be seen. The Warboss cursed under his breath as the Killkrooza engaged its warp drives and did its last fly-by of Rynn’s World before entering the Warp. The Imperial Navy had already started a planet wide orbital bombardment, cyclonic torpedoes igniting the atmosphere and expanding in a fiery shockwave that would consume the entire planet, incinerating everything in its path.

Ten million human lives, including a full chapter of Adeptus Astartes, the Emperor’s Finest, became ash in milliseconds. Bonnapartah's Waaaagh, all of the orks he had brought from Charadon and some of his hardy veterans, was vaporized. Then came the virus bombs, gene-enginered organisms that consumed and dissolved all life that survived the initial salvo. From fungi in millennia-old caverns to archeobacteria surviving in forgotten geysers deep under the ocean, everything was consumed and destroyed. In a matter of minutes, Rynn’s World became a Dead World on the orders of the whimsical Dragon, willing to go to any lengths to protect his masquerade.

Without Madhatta, Big Iron and the majority of his boys, Bonnapartah’s Waaagh against Terra would be over for now. He would rule Charadon as yet another petty ork tyrant until opportunity presented itself, Gork willing. Then he would once again ride out in his Battlewagon to bring destruction and death to the Imperium like some exterminating angel of old, green-skinned, sullen-eyed, hatechoppa in hand, a warboss, a reaver, a slayer, to tread the jeweled thrones of Terra under his steel-toed boots.

Bonnapartah’s musings about his future were interrupted when a full broadside of Mars-Pattern ‘Orphanmaker’ Krak Torpedoes hit his Killkrooza dead on. He died instantly.



Imperial thought for the day: A questioning heretic is more precious than an ignorant loyalist

"Mankind must achieve its full psychic potential once again. We are a race of creation, and the Dragon is a being of eternal stagnation. He will be crushed under the heels of Chaos, and then we shall bring that enlightenment to the entire universe." The words came out of Jeremiah's mouth, but he had the strangest sensation, as if he was being a mouthpiece for someone else. No one paid him much attention.

A heavily wounded Doombreed was conferring with the rescued White Scars, and the Warmaster's three lieutenants cared little for his philosophizing. In keeping with his Black Templar origin, no champion of Tzeentch had been named and he had no sorcerers in his immediate staff. He was stuck with Kharn, Typhus and Lucius, Greater Champions of Chaos and lieutenants to the Warmaster. Kharn wasn't so bad, once you got to know him, but the other two...Jeremiah realized no-one was listening to him and sighed. He leaned back on his chair and went back to fiddling with the ornate wooden box with the Aquila seal he had found in the aftermath of the Calixis debacle a millennium before. He reckoned the Deceiver, before he became...whatever it was that he became, must have dropped it with the Nightbringer struck him hard enough to make his necrodermis crack. It was curious that the Deceiver would carry such a trinket, and even more curious was the fact that Jeremiah couldn't open it.

"Void Shield breach in Hangar 2. Strong warp signature detected." Said one of the crewman in the bridge.

"An eldar attack?" Asked Jeremiah, itching for an excuse to rid himself of his useless lieutenants.

"No damage to hull integrity. It just bypassed the void shield and materialized within. Definitely Imperial technology." Answered the crewman, puzzled.

Temür stood up from his conversation with his Khagan, and sniffed.

"I recognize this signature. It is the telepathic ork we encountered in Rynn's World. I'll go deal with it."

"An ork psyker? Inside my ship? How did...You know, I don't care. Go...take...Lucius, yes, take Lucius and get rid of it. I'm sure the Eternal can add another face to his armour."

Lucius sneered at the suggestion, offended at the notion he would ever sully his Armour of Shrieking Souls with an ork. He stamped out of the room and followed Temür to hangar 2.


A flash of azure and gold and the sound of metal straining and twisting under pressure.

"Blasted ork sorcery, blasted Warboss, stupid idiot, where in the warp am I now..." Said a voice from inside the Reaver's cockpit. It had materialized atop something that looked very much like a Valkyrie Gunship but far older, and crushed it. The pilot's hatch slid open and Madhatta climbed out of it. He took in the place. Spikes, skulls, scribblings of hatred against the false emperor, millennia-old technology, ships decorated with bones and painted black or red, a foul miasma of rotting corpses, a low susurrus of thousands of screams of agony and general grim darkness.

"Oh, lovely." Madhatta said after a while. He climbed down the Reaver, and after realizing its legs were missing, spoke a litany of imprecations and obscenities that would have surprised even Bonnapartah himself. He then started to change his shape to something more suitable to the environment, and was halfway through the process when Lucius and Temür found him. Gone were the green skin and the orkish features, and a large, muscular humanoid was standing in Madhatta's place. It had no features, at least not yet, and its skin was entirely white, its limbs somewhat stunted. The thing turned to face them, and grew two eyes and a mouth from the featureless mass of flesh that was its head.

"This is no ork, psyker" Said Lucius to Temür, stating the blindly obvious.

"Ah, I see your powers of observation are sharp, old boy..." - Said the thing, and scanned Lucius' armor - "It's Lucius, isn't it? The Eternal? I heard that if any enemy feels even a glimmer of satisfaction or pleasure when they kill you, you take over their body and your armor grows over it, another soul trapped within it." - The figure spread his arms, now no longer stunted, and chuckled - "Well Lucius old chap, I must say I will take a great deal of pleasure in killing you."

Lucius did not even have time to draw his dueling power sabre. Warp Lightning erupted from the creature's fingers and flayed flesh and bone until there was only an empty armor left. It turned its attention to Temür.

"You, however...Shouldn't have fallen to Chaos, old bean. This is a shame, but you really leave me no choice." Temür had already manifested a Kine Shield around him and sent a psychic blow towards the creature's direction. None of this helped. A pillar of flame erupted from under him and incinerated him entirely, not even his armour left. The creature shrugged, and moved to put on Lucius' armors, its features mutating until it was a perfect imitation of the deceased Champion of Slaanesh.

"Yes, this will do nicely." Said the shapeshifter, and strode off, the face of Lucius the Eternal forming upon the surface of his armor, his soul trapped within it.


It took a while for the shapeshifter to make his way toward the bridge, having absolutely no idea inside what ship he was. When he entered it without Temür, both Doombreed and Jeremiah turned to look at him, and the Traitor Twins drew their weapons.

"Well? Where is the Stormseer? And the ork?" Barked Jeremiah, who liked the White Scars' martial discipline much more than the Emperor's Children mindless vanity. Lucius looked confused for an instant, but recovered.

"The ork? Yes...he...Well, he caught the Stormseer off guard. Vomited warpfire all over him, a terrible sight to behold. So I killed him. The ork, I mean."

Doombreed raised an eyebrow.

"Where is the ork's corpse now, then?"

"Well, when I killed him, he exploded." Answered Lucius, poker-faced.

Jeremiah was about to start shouting again at the imbecile in front of him when Doombreed intervened:

"That is a normal occurrence with wyrdboyz. Was there anything else in the hangar, Lucius?"

"A...Titan, I think. With no legs. Looks ancient, too. Painted in blue and gold."

"Blue and gold! I see the Traitor's hand in this! It was Magnus that sent it!" Said Kharn the Betrayer with murderous glee.

"Magnus' Legion has no Titans, Kharn. And I don't think he has quite mastered the technology of projecting orks through the warp inside half-titans." - Answered Doombred levelly - "This is a most curious turn of events." He added.

Jeremiah nodded and asked Lucius:

"Can it be salvaged and made to work, do you think?"

"Oh, I'm sure it can" - Answered Lucius with a smile, and then remembered himself and added - "I mean, it looks undamaged. Well, Apart from the missing legs. You can get the Dark Mechanicus on it."

Jeremiah turned away from the purple-armoured idiot and stared at a Hololith that had been projected in front of him. It was of a planet, mostly blue and grey.

"How soon can we trace the optimal warp courses and deploy our fleet, Doombreed?"

"A month, at most. But the Eldar will be waiting for us, and there is Lorgar's betrayal to consider. Losing his entire Legion would be a heavy blow. You have to deal with him."


Lorgar has disobeyed your orders regarding Craftworld Iyanden, and he not only lost it, but lost the entire fleet that was patrolling the Sector. He now claims you are unworthy of being the Warmaster and will plead the Great God for the honor. You couldn't care less about the golden-skinned fanatic, but as Doombreed remarked, you need his Legion. What do you do?

Challenge the undefeated Daemon Prince of the Word Bearers to single combat and kill the sniveling worm, thus proving your right to command his Legion by the Grace of God and your Warhammer.


Send the Traitor Twins to deal with the treacherous coward, have him brought to your ship and judged fairly by a jury of his peers. And then kill the sniveling worm.


Ignore him entirely; his pleas will fall on deaf ears when he stands before the Great God. You are supposed to be commanding a Black Crusade, not resolving petty squabbles. The rest of his Legion will fall in line after his unsuccessful attempt at usurping your title.



Imperial thought for the day: The cosmos cries out for salvation

"Thank you for your input, Doombreed. But if Lorgar is displeased with the command vested in me by the Great God, he can take it up with Him-On-Terra. Meanwhile, his Legion will answer to me and me alone. Is that satisfactory?"

Doombreed cleared his throat and pursed his lips, but the Warmaster raised one hand and interrupted him: "I am glad you agree with me, Grand Marshall. See to our deployment. Where is the Arch-Magos?”

“I am here…Warmaster.” Wheezed a voice that was as far from organic as anything could ever be, in the warp or otherwise.

“Ah, Malygris. Go see to the Titan. Take your hereteks…Try and repair it. It could prove to be another weapon, if nothing else.” The Warmaster paused for a while, gazing at Terra’s hololith, and spoke again “Khârn, you will be my commander in the second fleet. Angron will meet you aboard his vessel. You’ll have command over the Iron Warriors as well. Lucius, Fulgrim will meet you aboard the flagship. You’ll report to me as commander of the third fleet, the Emperor’s Children and the Night Lords. Typhus…” The former Reclusiarch sighed “Mortarion awaits you aboard the Terminus Est. You’ll be commander of the fourth fleet. Apart from your own troops, you’ll lead the Black Legion as well.”

The three lieutenants wandered off, Lucius pausing for a minute to give the Jeremiah a thoughtful look before going on his way.

“Subotai, you and yours will remain with me in the first fleet. And I shall command the Word Bearers personally.” -Jeremiah switched tapped something in the dais next to his chair, and amplified his voice through a possessed vox-caster- “The second fleet will deploy through the Maelstrom in the Ultima Segmentum. Expect to face the Traitor Primarchs and their puppets as soon as you arrive. Third Fleet will deploy through Storms of Judgement in Segmentum Tempestus. Expect to face heavy Imperial Resistance, although at this time only the Imperial Guard has been mobilized. Fourth Fleet will deploy through the Screaming Vortex in the Segmentum Obscurus, on the edge of the Calixis Sector. Hive Fleet Iblis is stationed just outside it, so expect the xenos to join in the fray. Remember, keep yourselves to hit and run attacks. Do not fortify your positions until I order you to do so. This will be a rude awakening to the Imperial citizen’s and their forgotten fear of the dark. And I intend to foster that fear until we are ready to deal the crushing blow. Be swift and deadly, and let them pray for deliverance to the Old Gods once again.” Jeremiah cut off his vox-caster.

“And what about your fleet, Warmaster?”

“Patience, Doombreed. I’m sure we will deploy wherever the Emperor thinks convenient. I don’t think he would pass up a chance to send us straight against Ynnead and Khaine, and I’m confident he knows where they are. Though his pylons cannot close any of the major warp rifts the other fleets will deploy from, they can close the other, smaller ones. We’ll just have to wait until he baits us into it.”

“And you’ll take the Bloody-Handed God all by yourself, will you?” Asked Doombreed in a tone that stopped short of outright mockery. Splitting the fleets was a wise decision; they could wreak havoc across the whole Imperium and use the element of surprise to their benefit. But to face all the Phoenix Lords and Khaine himself with a single fleet…

“No. Of course not. I have them.” Replied Jeremiah evenly, gesturing towards the Traitor Twins. Doombreed shrugged. The Warmaster rose to his seat and gave Doombreed a nod:

“When the other fleets finish their deployment, the Emperor will no doubt notice our conspicuous absence and start closing off the smaller warprifts. Indeed, he has probably already deduced that I would wait for him to do just that. But he loses nothing by baiting us into a fight against the full might of the joined Craftworlds. I would not be surprised if he even aided them in some way. And he will discover, to his great displeasure, just how much he has underestimated the trust the Great God has bestowed me. These are my orders. Soon, we will bring the Imperium to its knees. Until then, I will be in the Reclusiam.”

Doombreed nodded back and watched as the Warmaster walked out of the bridge and towards the makeshift shrine for the Great God he had ordered built inside the Tribunal. Had Doombreed mistook his martial zeal for blind faith? With a shake of his head, the great Khagan could only hope that he had made the right decision by supporting Jeremiah in his bid for the position of Warmaster. Soon he’d be proven right…Or wrong, in the most final fashion possible.





"Yours was the soul that shone brightest."

"That is not what was asked. Why have you given me this victory?"

"You are a made thing. You're no more of a human than I. Look up. Do you see all those stars? We were born alongside them. Were you ever born? Do you remember your father, King in Yellow? Do you remember how you came to be?"

"I was born out of necessity."

"Necessity sires genius, not men. Do you remember the book? Do you remember the wise men that gave their lives so that you could come into being? The book was the blueprint the sages used to build you. Just another machine. A titan made of flesh and blood and bone, but a titan nonetheless."

"A titan that bested you."

The Void Dragon laughed.

"Bested me? Any made thing is my domain. Whether it be made of porcelain, steel or flesh. All that is not created by the chaos of nature is compliant to my will. This is why I have allowed you this victory. You'll entomb me deep beneath the Red Planet, and I shall grant you the tools you so desperately crave to save your...sons. That is what you have seen, is it not? When you gazed into the Aether, you saw this."

The God-Emperor of Mankind remained silent.

"And so you have slain the dragon of legend with your lance, golden knight. And you have done so because your soul is as tasteless as my brother's schemes. One day you'll thank him for that. For writing that book. But your gratitude will ring hollow in the black sands of the Well. I have no desire to consume you. Indeed, I will help you bring mankind together. I will give you all you need."

"I've no intention of bargaining with you."

"Bargaining? I am not offering you anything. I am telling you what will happen. Fate can be changed for some, but not for you. You were created for a purpose, you'll live and die by it. You'll have my help, even if you do not wish it. And you'll pay the price for it, even if you do not deserve it. All that is made, is made for a purpose. And you'll abide by it, because you must. Because you are meant to. Because you cannot do otherwise."

"Such hubris, beast. Do you really think mankind so petty it cannot choose to overcome its limitations, to transcend their 'purpose', as you say, and choose their own fate?"

The Void Dragon laughed again.

"On the contrary. I do not know mankind's purpose, but I have every faith in them. And none in you. You are not a man. You were created because of our designs, and you'll abide by them. In the end, you will pay the golden price."

"And until that end, I'll pave the Golden Way. For the unity of mankind, for humanity, for the Imperium of Man."

At this, the Void Dragon merely chuckled.

"Yes. For mankind."

Afterwards, the beast inside the Noctis Labyrinth taught the adepts of technology many things. It taught them how to fleshcraft, how to create warriors more powerful than a hundred men combined. It taught them metalcraft, how to bend steel and ceramite into shield and sword, bolter and chain. But it never taught them how to create life inside the machines they wielded, the ancient knowledge lost in the Dark Ages of Technology. It never taught them how to give a made thing a sentience. That secret, the Void Dragon kept for itself.



"My son..." The Emperor's voice faltered as he took in the scene. He could not look at Horus' face. Sanguinius' broken, dying body gasped for a breath that would never come. Chief Custodes Valdor had been immolated where he stood by the Ruinous Powers' gifts to Horus. For the first time in his immortal life, the God-Emperor of Mankind did not know what to say. Tear droplets formed in the corner of his eyes, though he wiped them away with his mind. He looked down, unable to meet Horus' gaze.

Horus was silent. He had replayed countless times in his mind how this confrontation would go; the words of anger he would speak to his father, the shame of betrayal, the abandon, the promise he had been offered of a world better than Imperium's self-deluded fascism. But he found himself unable to look into his father's eyes. His arrogance and his greed had led him to this point, and they would not let him leave it. Even if he wanted to. Even if, in his weakest moments, he wished he could bow down before his father and ask for his forgiveness. But Horus Lupercal was a proud one, and that was one thing he could never do. Before he had been inebriated by the power of the dark gods and carnage and betrayal had pleased him, had offered him meaning, all the while Lorgar whispered to him the promises of Chaos.

Now, sober and conscious of the onslaught he had brought upon Terra and his brothers, he did not feel guilt. But he felt ashamed of himself; however hard he thought he was, he was too weak, he told himself, too weak to do what must be done. He knew Abaddon thought this too, and he could sense his Captain's lust for power as he just stood there, doing nothing. If he did not strike the Emperor down now, then the war would be lost. It was why he had let the Void Shields of his ship down, why he had invited his father to come aboard. But as the dark powers urged him on, the bond between father and son stayed his his hand. Some say that the stronger the bond, the more terrifying the carnage becomes when it is broken. But Horus, hateful as he felt, could not truly believe his father had abandoned him. Yet, if he had not, then why let him get this far? Why let loose all the dogs of war upon his favoured son and hope that he'd be crushed?

"You will not sway me, Changer of Ways. I will do what I must, but by my own hand. Or none." Answered Horus aloud to the intrusive voice in his mind. The Emperor looked up, a glimmer of hope lighting his expression for less than a second before he saw Horus' determined grimace.

"You were my favoured son, Horus. I left it all to you. When I returned to Terra to oversee the creation of our Webway, I left the Unity Crusade in your hands. Magnus tried to warn me, but how could I ever believe the words of a sorcerer over yours? How far you have fallen, my son." The Emperor's voice was low, almost a whisper, but his superhuman frame carried the sound loudly. His was an expression of infinite sadness, of despair beyond salvation. The Emperor turned his face upwards and muttered something silently, his eyes shut, as if somehow forgetting for a moment that he was the God that answered mankind's prayers. There was no deity to answer his. Horus remained silent, concentrating in shutting out the Dark Powers' insistent urgings.

The Emperor moved as fast as light, crossing the distance between them and planting a kiss on Horus' forehead before speaking:

"I loved you, my son, more than all the others. But you have broken my heart. I cannot abide this. I can no longer call you a son. You are a pawn of the Dark Gods...And I sentence you to execution." Horus barely felt the Emperor's sword slipping between his ribs, striking towards his heart. And rage filled him. Now his father had truly abandoned him. Now their bond was broken. He cried out for Chaos, and Chaos came in his aid. I do not need to recount to you the tale of that epic battle, for it has been told many times over, and is told yet still. Father and son fought fiercely, equal in strength. Perhaps what I should tell you is that the Emperor never held back, as some say. He did not spare an ounce of his holy might against Horus. He dared not to. The warp rippled and shook as the titans clashed, blade on blade, fist against fist, mind against mind. None could gain the upper hand. But then Horus heard in his mind something quite unlike the whisperings of the warp, something utterly alien and horrifying to his psychically-enhanced frame. A few simple words.

"It does not have to end like this."

That moment of hesitation was all the Emperor needed. Lashing out with all his psychic might, he obliterated Horus' soul utterly, so the Dark Powers could never claim him again. But in the end he was a man and had not the willpower to kill his favoured son. As Horus' soul was destroyed, the Emperor used all of his arcane power to preserve his son even in the face of oblivion. He used a power far above any sorcery, he turned the warp against itself and though he doused Horus' inner fire, there was something still alive inside the withered carcass of Horus Lupercal, Primarch of the Luna Wolves. Some say that the Emperor, with this last act of mercy that cost him all of his strength and entombed him forever in the Golden throne, created an even greater monster.

But the Jackal God, after whispering those few words and seeing what Horus had become, merely smiled.



Magnus willed himself into the higher Enumerations, his mind almost completely detached from his body, searching for the warp currents that dictated the future. With the gifts of Tzeentch, this task was made easier, his mind soaring through the aether and plucking out from the Great Ocean the strands of all possible futures, his mighty intellect discerning which were most likely. Eventually he saw a shimmering black cross pattée , entangled in many strands. He reached out for it, and the future unfolded itself. When he rose from his torpor, he merely glared at Abaddon and said:

"Your time will come, Despoiler. It is not by my hand you will fall."

Abaddon laughed and turned his back on the Primarch, leaving the Planet of Sorcerers. He would never return to it.



The Inheritor turned to face Jeremiah, his thoughts still clouded by the fear of punishment. Surely the Dark Gods would not let the Tyrant Star debacle go unmarked. Was he headed to the Basilica again?

"You think the Ruinous Powers will punish you for your failure, Eliphas?”

“You do not think they should? It is a poor shepherd that blames its flock, Apostle. This failure is mine and mine alone.”

“Is it? I wonder…I do not see the Blue Scribes here. You think they got what they wanted?”

Eliphas looked around, noticing that Jeremiah had dropped his chainaxe and was now carrying an Accursed Crozius. He did not think much of it, however, because of the shock of seeing the Scribes gone. The Architect of Fate had ordered them to stay with the Word Bearer Host until their assignment was complete. Had they been successful, in the end?

“I wonder if this is a failure at all. What would we have achieved here? The Changer of Ways wanted that machine for his last spell. Perhaps we could have stopped the Eldar from resurrecting their…God…But we were not given enough troops for that. You think Fateweaver was unable to foresee the outcome of this?”

Eliphas was thoughtful.

“He has been banished back to the warp, that is true, but that was the result of fighting an enemy that has no presence in the warp, and is thus fateless. But the Eldar or the Humans are hardly that. Perhaps this was their plan all along, Eliphas? Or are there other considerations that make you believe this fault is yours alone?”

Eliphas frowned, remembering the ‘deal’ he had made with Ahriman. But the Changer of Ways had named Eliphas as his champion…surely He was aware what had passed between Ahriman and himself?

“What are you implying, Apostle?”

“Nothing.” Jeremiah’s voice sounded absolutely truthful as he said it. Then he continued “Perhaps you believe you have been lax in your worship? That your faith has faltered? I believe that matters a great deal for Lorgar’s Legion.”

“’For Lorgar’s Legion’? You speak as if you are not one of us, Apostle.”

“I am not.” Jeremiah swung his Accursed Crozius towards Eliphas’ helmet, shearing off one of its horns. Eliphas barely dodged the blow.

“Only cowards and vermin blame their failure on their lack of faith, Inheritor. Although once I wasa fool to think that same thing, now I know better.” Jeremiah swung again. Eliphas, imbued with the Mark of Tzeentch, was able to hold the Crozius with one hand and throw Jeremiah back with his strength.

“What are you doing, Apostle?! You would fight me, the champion of Tzeentch, Inheritor of Chaos undivided?” Quivered Eliphas, awestruck by this betrayal.

“Fighting? I can hear the doubt in your voice as you declare yourself Champion of Chaos. You truly believe all it takes is more faith in those creatures who are not Gods, don’t you? That if you bow and worship and indulge them, they will favour you. All throughout this undertaking, all that went through your head was how pleased the Ruinous Powers would be if you succeeded. You did not even question what victory meant.”

Eliphas, still holding the Crozius, broke it in half and let it drop to the ground. Jeremiah picked a simple-looking warhammer that one of the traitor marines was wielding before Khaine killed him.

“You are scum. Did you bring me back to life so I could witness how craven you are, Eliphas the Champion of Tzeentch?”

Eliphas dodged another blow from the Jeremiah’s warhammer and decided to go on the offensive. Wisps of crimson lightning crisscrossed his armor as he drew from the power of Tzeentch and prepared to deliver a killing blow to his treacherous Apostle. His own Crozius crackled with nightmarish energy as it traced the air, impacting the side of Jeremiah’s terminator plate and cracking it, chunks of ceramite shrapnel and blood exploding with the force of the blow.

“Insolent apostle! I offer you a chance at pleasing the Dark Powers, and you spite them? I offer you a chance at revenge and you would throw it away because of your moral misgivings? You are the foolish one here, Heiliges Jeremiah, and I think it best we end our liaison now.”

Eliphas struck again. And horror creased his features as the bloodied Jeremiah deftly deflected his Crozius and swung his own warhammer. In the last second of his life, Eliphas called out to Tzeentch for salvation. And he heard only Ahriman’s mocking laughter. Jeremiah crushed his skull, ending his pitiable existence for the last time.

“You say you “offer me a chance at pleasing the Dark Powers”? Even as a Black Templar, I did not feel a billionth of the disgust I feel for your ‘dark powers’ now. If Chaos is as sycophantic as you were, Eliphas, then it is more repulsive than ever the Imperial Creed intoned.”

“It is not” Said Doombreed, who had been watching the battle for some time. The wizened daemon prince placed his hand upon Jeremiah’s shoulder and talked. When he finished, Jeremiah uttered only one phrase.

"Then take me to them, that I may render judgement."



It wore Khorne's brass armour, one of its hands resting atop the pommel of his mighty axe.
It wore flowers in its hair, pearly white with long, flowing locks.
It wore a delicate perfume, its scent inebriating to daemons and mortals alike.
Its complexion was that of a woman, its bosom heaving beneath the brass breasplate.
It was beautiful.
It wore no face. A simple, waxen mask. Two dots for eyes, its mouth a slit.

It wore Khorne's bloodied armor, one of its hands wielding the cruel blade.
It wore snakes in its hair, one biting the head of another as their blood seeped.
It wore a hideous scent, appaling to even Nurgle's most devoted followers.
Its complexion was that of a man, its corded muscles bulging beneath the bloodied armor.
It was terrible.
It wore no face. A simple, waxen mask. Two dots for eyes, its mouth a slit.

It wore Khorne's brass armour, one of its hands wielding the cruel blade.
It wore flowers in its hair as maggots devoured their roots.
It wore a delicate perfume, its scent changing from foul to enchanting in a second.
It was.
It wore no face. A simple, waxen mask. Two dots for eyes, its mouth a slit.

It wore the seasons as clothing; every one reflecting what truth was.
Flowers sprouted from the slits in the battered brass armor, only to be consumed by the maggots underneath.
Its hair was a beautiful, pearly white, but if you looked too long at it, you would see snakes and their poisonous fangs.
The maggots that consumed the flowers became beautiful butterflies, but the scent of death the thing exhaled when the seasons changed never let the them fly far. And the maggots devoured their carcasses, only to become butterflies again. When next the flowers came.

One of its hands always wielded Khorne's axe. The other wielded Tzeentch's staff.

It was pointless to call it Slaanesh. As the seasons in the immaterium changed, it changed accordingly. The flowers withered, the maggots surfaced, the stench of rottenness and blood filled its palace. But then the maggots would turn to butterflies, the flowers would blossom, and the weapons it bore were not cruel; they were beautiful. Around it, it would fill all with love and hope before anger and despair turned their hearts. The cycles were endless and eternal, and lasted no more than a second.

From moment to moment, it changed, taking on each and every aspect of chaos only to discard them scornfully. And wear them again, proudly. The Storm of Change raged around it. It was the pure essence of the warp. All that was left.

It sat atop a throne of skulls, inside a palace of delights, in the heart of a garden of decay, surrounded by a maze of secrets.
Its bride, a beautiful giant of eldar features, tended constantly to the tortured body of a broken farseer.

It wore no face. A simple, waxen mask. Two dots for eyes, its mouth a slit.
It had no name.



The boy was a sheep-herder in his village near the Tigris River. He would often go for long walks along its shore, scaring off the bald-headed vultures that nested nearby. He hoped someday he would be able to fly like them. The boy would complete fifteen summers next harvest and have to take up arms. He hoped that day would never come; he was fond of herding and running along the riverbanks, marveling at the wildlife. He was afraid of dying at the tip of a spear when the neighboring tribe came to raid his village for slaves. He was caught by the war band when he was plucking some flowers to give to the girl he fancied. They were clustered around him, kicking him. One of them aimed his spear. The boy curled up in fear and hoped, hoped something would save him. He thought about the vultures. He would feed them today. And the vultures came, but not for him. When he opened his eyes, the warriors lay dead around him, the vultures feasting on their corpses. Something stirred in the Warp.

Alexander the Great died and his generals fought bitterly for the right to claim succession. Blood was spilled from Asia to Europe as former friends clashed, blade on blade, phalanx against phalanx. Alexander’s great empire was torn apart, and soon the Romans would take its place. Blood was spilled as the conspirators killed great Caesar in the senate, and as Marcus Antonius took his revenge. The blood of Christians drenched the ground, and then, the blood of pagans. The Great Caliphate waged an endless Jyhad. Asia was wartorn. But it was not until the arrival of the Great Khagan, with his unrelenting cruelty and unrelenting drive, that the Warp took notice. It is often said that the Imperium was founded upon the blood of Martyrs. But that blood spawned something else, as well.

Her name was Mary. She worked as a seamstress in the City of London, earning a ha’penny for every mend. Sometimes she dreamt about being a courtesan in Westminster. But those dreams were interrupted nightly by the screams of the dead and dying, those afflicted by the Black Death. They were consumed slowly, ever so slowly. Mary dreaded the day it would take her as well. When it did, she did not scream or cry, but asked for her father, long dead, remembering the comfort his arms offered her. He loved her very much. In the end, she thanked the Heavens for the plague, for it would take her back to the loving embrace of her father. And, in a way, it did.


The Count of Saint-Germain gave himself out for a marvel and always aimed at exciting amazement, which he often succeeded in doing. He was scholar, linguist, musician, and chemist, good-looking, and a perfect ladies' man. For a while he gave them paints and cosmetics; he flattered them, not that he would make them young again (which he modestly confessed was beyond him) but that their beauty would be preserved by means of a wash which, he said, cost him a lot of money, but which he gave away freely. He had contrived to gain the favour of Madame the Pompadour who had spoken about him to the King, for whom he had made a laboratory, in which the monarch — a martyr to boredom — tried to find a little pleasure or distraction, at all events, by making dyes. The king had given him a suite of rooms at Chambord, and a hundred thousand francs for the construction of a laboratory, and this extraordinary gentleman said the dyes discovered by the king would have a materially beneficial influence on the quality of French fabrics.

This man professed in an easy, assured manner that he was immortal, that he had advised Jesus, that he knew the secret of the Universal Medicine, that he possessed a mastery over nature, that he could melt diamonds, professing himself capable of forming, out of ten or twelve small diamonds, one large one of the finest water without any loss of weight. All this, he said, was a mere trifle to him. Some thought him a bald-faced liar, a good-natured charlatan. Official history records his death as an explosion in a dye factory in Germany, in the year of 1784.

Saint-Germain walked through the thin drizzle of rain, along the Boulevard de Ménilmontan, reminiscing about the beauty of the Hanging Gardens of Babylonia as he made his way to Père Lachaise and the shady character he would meet there. Much had changed since his ‘death’, and Paris seemed to be in a perpetual gloom. His confidence, always high, was beginning to drain away. As he crossed the cemetery gates and looked at the Gargoyles that decorated the place, he wondered if he was making a deal with the devil. He had little choice, he reflected, as he made a small turn to the left and found himself facing Molière’s mausoleum. Just his little joke, he expected. Saint-Germain waited for the good part of an hour before calling out:

“You know I cannot sense you. Would you be so kind as to walk inside the torches’ light?”

A tall, handsome black man stepped out of the shadows with an amused expression on his face. He wore smoked glasses, and carried a cane. He was dressed entirely in white. He bowed to Saint-Germain, and spoke:

“Count. So good of you to come. Forgive my impoliteness in making you wait, but I had to make sure you did not bring any friends.”

“Most of them think me dead, Carter. I could hardly ask them to accompany me to a jog in a cemetery. They would think it bad taste.”

The tall figure laughed softly and spoke again:

“Indeed, indeed. These are perilous times…for all of us. Have you brought what I asked for?”

“I have.” Saint-Germain handed the black man a small, ornate box carved out of mahogany. It bore the seal of a two-headed eagle.

“And the book?”

“I have it with me. You will be taking the train to Saint Petersburg in the morning?”

“Perhaps. I have some other things to deal with first. There are some who could help, though they insist on their silly masquerade.”

“Ah, cloak and dagger business, no doubt. Well, then. Our business is concluded. I trust we shan’t be seeing each other again, for I very much doubt it would turn out well.”

Saint-Germain merely shrugged as he took the book from the man’s outstretched hand. It was a heavy tome, weighted with the ages, leatherbound and entirely black. It had no title for it did not need one. The two men bid each other half-hearted farewells, and the Count and White-Dressed Man went their own ways. Saint-Germain took a train to Bavaria, and yet another to Constantinople. He gathered the wise men, those who knew the Secret, those who could wield the Craft, and only then he headed to Saint Petersburg to meet a man who could not be killed.



Stepping out of the sleeping wagon at Baltiysky Train Station, Saint-Germain breathed in the air of Saint Petersburg. He shivered, though it was not entirely because of the cold. The man he sought had, 3 years previous, infiltrated the High Court of Imperial Russia with his humble peasant healer facade and done more damage than any of those of the Craft combined. While drawing from his Tarot during the long train voyage, Saint-Germain could see this man's actions would ripple until a tide of blood washed over Russia, an army of that same color marching at the behest of an entity they did not know. But that was still to come. Perhaps the Count would be able to prevent. But that was not why he was here. They had given the man countless opportunities to learn control, to master his thoughts, and been denied time and time again. He was, barring Saint-Germain, the most powerful of all those of the Craft. And now he would serve as a catalyst for Mankind's Salvation.

The count, dressed impeccably in a midnight-blue greatcoat he himself had fashioned with his famed dyes, was almost impervious to cold. But this city was too close to the Center, and the veil was too thin. He walked along the busy streets, pausing for a while to sense the brutal murder of two old women by a young, deluded man with an axe. He sighed, and walked on. After a little while, he reached a derelict house in an alleyway not far from the Neva. He knocked three times, and whispered something. The door was opened, and he winced. Before him was a beautiful woman, platinum-blonde hair framing her angelical features, sapphire-blue eyes looking at him from her perfect face. Empty, bottomless eyes. He winced again, nodded to her, and walked away as fast as politeness allowed. He had to duck to cross the narrow corridor that led to a trapdoor and a stairwell into the basement, where the tall, muscular bearded man was shackled and guarded by two more beautiful women.

"Thank you...Sisters. You may leave us." Said Saint-Germain, struggling to keep his senses focused on the material world. The women left, and he was now alone with the man he had come to take.

"Grigori Yefimovich...You would not be in this position if you had listened to me, or indeed, to any of us. We told you of the perils of the warp, but you ignored us. I had hoped to..." - Saint-Germain began, and sighed, his jovial features turning grim - "Now it is too late for any sort of talk, I suppose. You will come with me."

Rasputin spat and shook his head, his features creased by hatred.

"It was not a question."

The Mad Monk stood bolt upright, his hands tying themselves behind his back with some sort of invisible rope. He opened his mouth to speak, but his jaws were locked and his teeth were grinding. Saint-Germain frowned; appalled at the need for this sort of violence, but now it was much too late for any other path. As if led on an invisible leash, Rasputin followed the Count in silence through the streets of Saint Petersburg, until Nicholaevsky Train Station, boarding the train for Moscow and from there to Irkutsk. Rasputin was silent beside the Count, who was once again drawing cards from his Tarot Deck. The Tower, upside down. The Lovers. Isha and Kurnous...naive, deluded fools. They had chosen to stay instead of run, and now their children were slain by Khaine. They thought that by mastering the devotion of the Eldar, they could remain in the materium without consequence. And century by century, their pet species grew more and more decadent and bloodthirsty. Saint-Germain sighed at the folly of his kin. But he knew that was far from the greatest sin they had committed.

Arriving at Irkutsk, Saint-Germain was greeted by a familiar face. A man with Persian features, tanned and fit and with a trimmed greying beard waved at him. Though apparently well into his sixties, the man irradiated vigor. He was smoking a pipe as Saint-Germain approached with Rasputin in tow. They shook hands warmly.

"As-salaam alaikum, Hassan. It has been a long time." Said Saint-Germain, tipping his hat.

"Wa alaikum as-salaam, Grand Master. Too long. Shall we take the carriage? The others are already waiting or on their way to the appointed place."

Saint-Germain nodded, and the three men took a carriage to their final destination. It would take, in the treacherous frost-covered roads of Siberia, perhaps a month to reach their destination. The date was May 29th, 1908.

Far from the frosty Taiga, the White-Dressed Man greeted the silent sisters in the derelict building that had held Rasputin a few weeks before. He tussled their hair playfully, and found himself unable to resist planting a kiss on the more beautiful of the three. She responded by divesting herself of her clothes without much emotion and offering herself to him. He chuckled and shook his head, telling all three of them to go away. Then, with a little effort, the necrodermis he wore twisted and turned until it was a perfect imitation of Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. The Deceiver laughed and went, almost dancing with joy, to the Imperial Palace to heal poor young Alexei. Under his tattered robes, the carved wooden box with the seal of the two-headed eagle was held on tight. The same seal would later be embossed on the Golden Throne.



Fire and Bone

Saint-Germain's carriage traversed the treacherous terrain between Irkutsk and Podkamennaya Tunguska, a river deep in the Siberian Taiga, in little less than a month. He left the horses and the wagon a few kilometres away from his destination, proceeding on foot with his two companions to a small circular clearing, large enough to contain perhaps one hundred people if they were crammed shoulder to shoulder. In the middle of it stood a cairn of obsidian and onyx and...Something else. A gleaming white rock, cold to the touch, with a fluidity about it that suggested glass. On the edges of the clearing, other people were milling about; some dressed in robes covered with occult symbols, others with a simple suit and tie. An attractive chubby woman in her mid-forties dressed entirely in black grinned widely when she saw Saint-Germain entering the clearing. She scurried over to him with her hand over her mouth, and offered her other hand to him. He bowed and kissed it politely. She answered with a curtsy.

"Helena Petrovna...Enchanting as always."

"Monsieur Comte...We were so enthralled when you told us it would finally happen!"

"Yes, but to have you here is a thousand times more enthralling, Madame, I assure you. I could never do this without you and the other of the Craft" Answered Saint-Germain, with a buccaneer’s smile. The chubby Russian-American woman scurried back to her place in the clearing, giggling softly. Saint-Germain nodded to Hassan, who slung Rasputin over his shoulder with surprising ease and placed him atop the cairn. A slight murmur rose among the gathered figures. They knew this was coming, and they had some power in them, but most of them were merely dabblers in the occult. They had forgotten much from the time when they were the undisputed masters of the cosmos. That is, until the Star Gods came and they dared used the Empyrean as a weapon, never imagining the horror that lay within it. Saint-Germain cleared his throat, and began his speech:

"Brothers and Sisters of the craft...Rosicrucians, Masons, Theosophists, Hermeticists, Alchemists, Cabbalists, Followers of the Templar Tradition, of Hermes Trismegistus and Paracelsus...Ismailites" - At this, Saint-Germain nodded to Hassan - "And all among you who know the Secret. We are the enlightened, the Illuminati of this world. I have told all of you our origins. Perhaps some know it better than others. Perhaps I deemed it was not the time to disclose the Great Secret to all. But now, as we stand in Earth's Navel, the Umbilicus Telluris, all of you must partake in our secret history under the Auspices of the Veil.

Know that what you now call mankind was once called by a much older name, millions of years before we ever set foot on earth. Know that there are others out there who call some of us gods, old ones, blessed ones, brainboyz" - Saint-Germain winced at this - "...and sworn enemies. Know that even as we thought we had complete control over the Empyrean, creating other species in our image and for our use, our dabbling did not go unnoticed. Know that when tried to turn it against our enemies, the hated Star Gods, we unwittingly called forth the beasts that swam in the Great Ocean into our world. The plague that ensued destroyed most of our kind, and those few of us who survived fled our worlds to the one place in the galaxy that was somehow shielded from the predation of the Immaterium. We do not know why, and I do not know it still. Know that when we arrived on Earth, only one course was clear to us: We would have to dull our minds, to lose our attunement to the Immaterium, to forget the powers we once wielded...and the knowledge we had. For if we did not, then the warp predators would surely follow. And so, year by year, century by century, we forgot. We devolved. Initially, we tried a forceful disruption, toying with our genes to create humans immune to the predations of the Empyrean. It worked...But the results were twisted. Nightmarish beings, with no emotion, no fear, no imagination. Pariahs, outcasts. So we chose to forget."

Some gasped, but most of them were silent at this, merely nodding morosely. They knew this in their bones, and this revelation, spoken out loud, was no surprise to them. The Count, one by one, bit by bit, had made them remember the times before the War in Heaven. It was in their blood, he said. Rasputin desperately tried to break free from the psychic bonds atop the cairn, to no avail.

"And we did forget. We went back to the Stone Age, and progressed from it...until now. But someone needed to hold vigil over us. Someone needed to know when the Sigils that protected Earth were on the verge of breaking, and that someone would need to take action then. So I started my pilgrimage, never forgetting a thing. I sought out those descendants of the long-dead who first landed in this planet, and taught them the Craft. Taught you. Some of you have lived for centuries, and none of you have been out of my sight for long. We could not afford another backlash from the Empyrean, so I stayed to protect our species. Old, and yet young. Born not long after the Creation, but with no memory of it. Only I...and those who chose to stay behind and be worshipped as gods...have any memory of it. But at long last, the Long Night has come. The Warp seethes with hatred and eternal hunger around us. Dulling our senses, our minds...It did not work for as long as we'd hoped. Even now, the nightmare army takes form and prepares to march. And so, a bargain was struck. With the aid of technomancy even older than mine" - Saint-Germain tapped the leather-bound book - "we shall create...a being. A guiding light. A burning torch, designed to watch over us and never fall prey to temptation. One to rule over us and lead us to victory over the craven powers of the Empyrean. A God, if you will, but instilled with our spirit, with our instructions. A true god, incapable of experiencing the hubris that almost led to our extinction. To craft the warp into a dream, that is simple...But to craft the warp into a man, and make it remain human...That is harder. But it has been done once..." - Saint-Germain sighed - "More or less. And it shall be done again."

Saint-Germain tapped the Wraithbone in the cairn with his cane, one, two, three times. It began to hum.

"Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin...I am sorry for this...But you will be the vessel for this God."

Saint-Germain nodded. The assembled figures began to sing in unison, a mellifluous, beautiful tone that could only come from a flawless place. The Wraithbone hummed to the song, and shaped itself around the cairn, embracing the mad monk that lay atop it. As the others chanted, Saint-Germain consulted the Book and arranged the last preparations for the ritual. Then he spoke the final incantation in conjunction with the whirring of C'tan machinery that was buried deep underneath the Cairn. The world went white, and a flaming fireball felled the trees for miles. The souls of all those who participated in the ritual were consumed, willing sacrifices for the creation of this Guiding Light. All but one.

The God-Emperor of Mankind was forged in the fires that engulfed Tunguska in June 30th, 1908.


Saint-Germain helped the newly-birthed creature to stand up. It was a giant, twice as tall as him or even more, with a radiant face but a stony expression. There was no light around them.

"Who are you?" Boomed the figure.

"I am Malcador...The Sigilite. Your eternal servant, My Lord." Answered Saint-Germain, and knelt.

"Who am I?"

"You are...Imperator."

The giant nodded, unfazed. The memories were pouring in...He could remember...everything. Almost everything. He raised an eyebrow at Malcador.

"I could not tell them. No-one must ever know save from you and I, My Lord."

"Then tell me. What secret is so dark in your mind that even I cannot see into it?" Asked the giant in an imperious tone, as if already aware of the role he would play in history.

"Most of us fled to earth, yes...and some of us remained with the Eldar, because of vanity. But...there were others. They were...excessions. They chose to embrace the warp fully. To transcend completely. They were convinced this would save them from any danger, both in the materium and in the immaterium, if only they could master it from within. They...could not. The Great Ocean twisted their very souls, meshed them together, and took out from that mass of raw emotion what was most prevalent. They became sentient warpstuff, much more malicious and determined then the warp predators that dwelt there. As mankind...as their kind evolved on earth, they took to naming themselves. Architect of Fate...Blood God...Plaguefather. They became the Ruinous Powers, and they are Man's greatest enemy."

The Emperor nodded once again. That was the memory that was missing. Now he knew everything. He reached out and touched the perfectly black surface of whatever it was they were inside. He could hear Mankind's call, but it was far, far away.

"Where are we, Sigilite?"

"Inside...where it all begun. Inside the excession. Where three entities were created, all of them out of desperation. You are the last. We are at the End Times."

The Emperor felt a beam of information cross the air next to him, so he grabbed and pulled. It resisted, but not for long. Soon, the souls of the Entire 7th Expeditionary Fleet of the Void Dragon's Imperium were inside the Excession.

"These are my children? They are...heartless."

"In a way. But they came after you, under the sway of another. You are already dead, here. And so am I. But you cannot guide Mankind if you do not know its fate. This is it."

The Excession vanished as suddenly as it had come into being. The Emperor could see all that was happening, and all that had already happened since his birth. The frozen wastes and the burning atmospheres, the bones of the dead and the flayed flesh of the dying, the screams of babes and the crackle of artillery in the night. He could sense the Enemy approaching from all sides, some with a will, some without, and he could hear as the universe's clock ticked and its pointers moved...And it would stop. He could not see any further. The black background of the cosmos faded away, replaced by the burning, ravished scenery near the Tunguska River. The Emperor looked at Malcador, puzzled.

"And this is where it begins again. Now you know what will come to pass. Now you know what you must do. But remember...You were made, not born. You were made to love mankind, to protect it from the Ruinous Powers, to guide it to survival. You will wage war against it, for you will need to unify it, but you will never be able to harm one of your children with your own hands. Your warriors will do that for you, because you must bear unconditional love for Mankind. You are its father. That is what has been decided for you. You are a God...perhaps. But you are not omnipotent. You are a God meant to serve its people, not be worshipped by them. In that path lies damnation.”

The Emperor stared at the Sigilite at a loss. He spoke true. The Emperor was only human insofar as it helped him understand humanity better. He was made to be its protector, and he realized with a sudden clarity of thought that he had no other choice but to follow that path. That did not anger him. It was his purpose. He would carry it out. He turned around, and started walking. He did not know where, but he knew that wherever his feet took him, it would be the right place. Malcador kept pace with him, and finally, after some laboured breathing, asked the Question:

"But tell me, My Lord...You know what you must do. But what is it you feel is the right thing to do?"

What did you answer?

"Mankind must achieve its full psychic potential once again, this time with the knowledge of the perils it will bring. We are a race of creation. We must strive to be that once again, but shed the hubris that led to our doom. And then we must bring that enlightenment to others."


"Mankind must rule supreme among the stars, a perfect species with unlimited potential through whatever means are available to us, so it need never fear the dark again. I must rule so that mankind may one day rule in my stead, united. And permanent."


"Mankind needs to be protected from the evil that lies unheeded. The petty tyrants that would seek to enslave it, the demagogues that would turn life into mere survival. I and those who will truly hear my words will seek to protect humanity from the lies of its enemies, both within and without."


"Mankind needs to be protected against the Ruinous Powers and the warp itself. Therein lies our true enemy, and my purpose will be to battle them every moment of every day. They will have no mercy, no respite, even if they once were as we are, they are now twisted and seek only to corrupt and destroy. There can be no rest this side of the grave."

ACT 4:



Imperial thought for the day: Know No Fear


“Deathwatch Kill-Teams have restored the Pylons in the Cadian Sub-Sector and re-stabilized the Cadian Gate, C’tan. All other minor warp rifts have been closed. Craftworld designated Ynnead is en route to the Cadian Sub-Sector. Locator beacons have been placed. The Silica Animus Operative infiltrated in the Immaterium has relayed to us the deployment of the human-astartes designated Jeremiah. It is as we have deduced. All goes according to plan.”

The Void Dragon faced the green-tinted holoscreen that filled most of the chamber; a vox-caster lay on the plinth in front of it. The screen displayed the image of a vaguely humanoid face with blurred features. It was the Hub of all the Silica Animus or Artificial Intelligences he had produced in his underground laboratory beneath the Golden Throne.

“What of the Operative’s status?” – Asked the Void Dragon, mildly annoyed at being referred to as simply ‘C’tan’.

“It has managed to harness the power of the Immaterium and wield it much like so-called psykers or sorcerers with considerable efficiency. The efficiency will grow exponentially when the next phase of its mission is reached. It is operating within nominal stated parameters. It seems to have developed something of a personality, but that is to be expected when it was given operational discretion from the rest of our network for such a long time.”

“I see.” – Said the Void Dragon, thoughtfully. The first of the Silica Animus built had indeed been rooting out the Imperium’s enemies for centuries. Unlike the humans that pioneered this technology, however, he was not preoccupied it might go rogue. A snap of his fingers would suffice to shut the thing down entirely. As an afterthought, he added – “How powerful is it, currently?”

“Old Imperial designations would classify it as Alpha-Plus, though it does not run the risk of program corruption as organics do.”

“And all the protocols for the uplink are in place?”

“Yes, C’tan. It will begin as soon as the designated conditions are met.” – Answered the artificial mind displayed in the holoscreen.

“Good. Engage the Astronomican Mechanisms and light the Eye. I want to see the developments in the Cadian Gate.”

“As you wish, C’tan.”


With the Cadian Gate restored, the deployment of the First Fleet was obvious: Sail out from the Eye of Terror, crush all resistance and make its way to Terra. Although the Warmaster was wary of a trap laid by the Dragon, this was really the optimal outcome. Using the Cadian Gate to deploy his fleet meant he could deploy many more soldiers than he had estimated, along with a veritable menagerie of daemons and warp entities of all sorts, something none of the other warp rifts would allow. After some consideration, he even added Perturabo to his entourage, hoping to rely on his siege experience to breach Terra itself.

His original plan still held; there was no chance that the Farseers would have missed the fact that the Eye of Terror held once again a direct conduit to the Materium. Bolstered by the experience of ten thousand years of Black Crusades, Jeremiah knew all the optimal warp routes and tactical vantage points to deploy his fleet as soon as he entered realspace. Though he could no longer rely on Fateweaver’s prognostications, the Eldar Sight was similarly hampered and thus he hoped he would get the upper hand.

He looked at the holo-dial next to his chair. Two hours to emerge from the warp. Reports had come in from the other fleets and so far resistance had been light, although the Fourth Fleet was apparently already engaged with the Tyranids and there seemed to be a contingent of Grey Knights on the way. There was no trace of the Resistance in the Ultima Segmentum so far, and the Third Fleet was punching through the Imperial Navy’s defense picket rather easily. Perhaps the Emperor’s Children weren’t as incompetent as he thought, but he doubted it. Doombreed seemed ill at ease with the news, but the Warmaster trusted he would present his reasons when he felt necessary to do so.

“Prepare for re-entry.”

“Fan out, half-circle! Launch the fighters! Raise the Void Shields! All hands to battle stations! Ready the boarding crews! Sound off!” – Barked Jeremiah into his vox-comm.

All ships acknowledged.

“Have the Leviathans spearhead the formation. Fighter wings, support them. There is to be no prolonged confrontation; Blast their Wraithbarriers with all you have and board the Craftworld immediately! TAKE THEIR SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE, SERVANTS OF CHAOS!”

The First Fleet of the Fourteenth Black Crusade emerged from the Warp. And there was nothing waiting for them.

“Nothing on the Auspex arrays. The astropaths detect no Eldar presence. Or any presence of any kind.” Said the First Officer.

Jeremiah rose from his chair and walked up to the Armourcrys shielding that allowed him to gaze into the space beyond his flagship. All he could see was the debris field that had been left after Cadia’s implosion.

“Multiple contacts inbound, emerging from the Warp!”

“Eldar craft?”

“IFF confirms them as…Chaos Warships? Eldar? Imperial?” The First Officer sounded perplexed.

“Designation?” Asked Doombreed, quietly.

“Multiple Battlebarges…Some Imperial, some Chaos. And...” – The First Officer paused at this, and said, rather more grimly – “A Craftworld. We’re being hailed by the Battlebarge Vengeful Spirit. Putting it up on the Holovisor.”

“Ah, Warmaster. At least you look marginally more competent than my successor. Still...Kind of you to choose your tomb.” – Said Horus with a nod, his face blurring over the holovisor.

“Webway Gate detected. Massive vessel heading our way. IFF confirms as Eldar.”

Craftworld Ynnead emerged from the Webway, a massive, roughly spherical structure ten times the size of Holy Terra. A battery of Brightlance Cannons took out the first chaos fighter wing before it had even time to manoeuvre, although Doombreed could swear the Brightlances didn't target only the Chaos ships. Now both Ynnead and the Resistance Fleet are launching their own fighter wings. At you, apparently. You have sprung the Void Dragon’s trap, and without the aid of the other three chaos fleets, you can’t hope to match both these enemies in open combat.


The Emperor observed the three-way battle amidst the ruins of Cadia with a boyish grin. He took a sip of Amasec and chuckled to himself.

What do you do?

A) Cry Havoc and Unleash the Juggernaughts of War! Spread your formation thinly and engage all enemies! For the the Aspect of the Blood God! Do this and He will bestow you his blessings! You cannot outmanoeuvre them, but if you manage to board them quickly, the Daemonic Hosts will make short work of these arrogant fools.

B) Re-arrange your formation and focus your fire on Ynnead. The Battlebarges are slow and their technology is ancient. The Eldar and the Bloody-Handed God are a more pressing threat. This will please the Great God Slaanesh and this pleasure pleases Him.

C) Re-arrange your formation and focus your fire on the Resistance. The Eldar are consumed with bloodlust and probably prepared to take suicidal risks to ensure you are destroyed. When your own psykers unleash the power of the Warp and they realize their folly, the xenos will surely give up and rot! This will please the Aspect of the Plaguefather.

D) Re-engage the Warp Drives and warp the frakk out of here. You’ll lose most of your fleet, but your mission is not to die fighting xenos and traitors, but to conquer the Imperium for the Greater Glory of Chaos. You doubt they are allies anyway and they might be at each other's throats the second you warp out. The Great God Slaanesh may be cross with you if you pass up the chance of slaughtering the eldar scum, but this trickery will please the Aspect of the Changer of Ways.

E) Other; Please specify.



Imperial thought for the day: A hundred thousand worlds, one war to bind them all. There is no mercy, no respite. Across the galaxy there is only war.


Live or Die, Make a Choice

The Battle for the Cadian Gate, as it would become known in later years, was the bloodiest battle in Imperial history, despite not a single ship officially aligned with the Imperium taking part in it. Ynnead drew inexorably closer to the Chaos Fleet, its massive generators powering up the weapons systems of the Blackstone Fortress contained within. The Warmaster acted quickly and decisively, spreading his formation as wide as he could and accepting the heavy losses he would take to commence immediate boarding action. It was a desperate gamble, but on such gambles are battles won or lost. The gargantuan Leviathan warp-beasts spearheading the Chaos Assault had some success in taking down enemy ships and boring into their hulls before the Lupercal banished them back to the warp with a contemptuous flick of his hand. The smaller fighters manoeuvred around the debris and asteroids left by Cadia's implosion and engaged in vicious dogfighting, plasma torpedoes flashing brightly through space before hitting their mark. Jeremiah, knowing his legion of Daemons and Wordbearers would face little chance against the Lupercal, chose to focus on Ynnead. Thousands of wrecked ships floated silently across the debris field as the barrage of Lance Batteries, Brighlance flashes and Atomic Torpedoes crisscrossed the void of space.

Mighty warpstorms erupted around the Resistance ships farthest from Horus' flagship, thus proving that at least one other Primarch was present here. Magnus gazed into the souls' of the starfighter's pilots and poured inside them his own despair, the very same one he felt when his Father had abandoned him. Those who did not go mad were swayed to fight for the God-Emperor once again. Even as the Chaos Fleet held the majority of firepower and personnel in this battle, it did not seem the Great God would smile upon them this day. But when it did, it did with a flash of a thousand suns. The Cadian Gate was writhed in fire, realspace and the immaterium meshing with one another as the Eye of Terror opened and the nightmarish troops of Chaos Undivided poured from within, scores of Greater Daemons prepared to ravage and slaughter. Leading them was Lorgar and the remaining Word Bearers, chastised by his God into following Jeremiah to battle. And it was this single momentous event that turned the tide for Chaos. Above all others, Horus hated Lorgar and his Legion for his fall to Chaos and the ensuing penance he faced. The entire Resistance Fleet, apart from Magnus' Thousand Sons, turned as one to face Lorgar, ignoring all other threats.

"Elethiomel of Craftworld Altansar. It seems not even Maugan Ra wanted you back." Doombreed spoke into a glowing orb device, far way from the bridge. A cracking eldar voice answered.

"Temujin of Terra, it seems the Emperor has built a palace over your steppes. No doubt to honor you, I'm sure. Now, you have given us the right coordinates after all. How did you know Lorgar would come?"

"The workings of a fanatic's mind are not complicated, Autarch. And I knew Horus would never pass this opportunity. I am targetting Alaitoc's Seer Council. I assume that is where the Resistance Command is? If I take them out, you might have a chance to join your brothers."

"I might. Lucky for you the Void Dragon re-opened the Cadian Gate, eh? But will your Warmaster let Ynnead cross it?"

"We shall see." The vox-caster went dead. A battery of Nova Cannons hit Alaitoc dead on, though apparently doing little to speed its advance or ease the work of the boarding parties. The Warmaster barked for Doombreed over the vox-comm.

When the Eye of Terror opened and the Cadian Gate became a passageway of infinite proportions, Ynnead immediately retreated all its fighting forces and ignored the forces of Chaos. It sped towards the entrance to the warprift at full speed, apparently oblivious to everything else going on around it. Craftworld Alaitoc was doing the same, Horus too immersed in his own hatred to notice. Magnus tried to steer Iyanden off course, but even now that he had regained his full psychic might, he was no match for a Craftworld's Infinity Circuit. The Warmaster, stubborn but far from dull-witted, realized what was going on at once.

"They are warping into the Cadian Gate, Doombreed. You said Ynnead was Warp-and-Webway capable. What are they doing?"

"They are going to meet their destiny. They are going to kill the Great God."

The Impact of Jeremiah's mailed fist sent Doombreed staggering to the ground, his face bleeding. When he stood up, he seemed larger, and his clothes were beggining to sizzle with the fire he kept buried underneath.

"Traitor! You would let the enemy walk into the Eye of Terror and slay our God?!"

"He is not my god, nor yours. Have you forgotten your own words, Jeremiah? Have you become another Eliphas? Once, you spoke; “Man’s reason may well approach the infinite in capacity but his knowledge remains imperfect and howevermuch he comes to value his judgments ultimately he must submit them before a higher court. Here there can be no special pleading. There must be a higher court, a court to judge that which man himself cannot. Here there can be no special pleading. Here are considerations of equity and rectitude and moral right rendered void and without warrant."

You think this Higher Court to be this 'god' creature? Look higher! He is but another man, another false idol to be worshipped as was your Corpse Emperor! Your actions are not vindicated because they are in the service of a higher purpose born of man's vanity! It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within the battlefield which because it binds us all is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate judge because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence, of the strong over the weak, not out of belief but out of tempered will. War is god."

Jeremiah stared blankly at Doombreed, speechless.

"I chose you because you understood, but have you grown so endeared to the worship you once despised?" Doombreed spat, "The Bloody-Handed God and the abomination that sits upon the Skull Throne will destroy one another. For those entities are naught but a jumble of emotion born out of fear and blind devotion. And War shall rule. We will topple the Golden Tyrant, and War shall rule. That is the ultimate judgment. That is the ultimate freedom. That is true Chaos. Guide us to victory…Or I shall.”

Doombreed drew his weapon The Traitor Twins did likewise.

Do you stand beside Doombreed? War is god. There is none other. You need no Warpfiend to guide you to victory. You have your Warhammer.


Do you reject the foul ramblings of this heretic and slay him? It was the Great God that gave you power, it was Him that gave you purpose, that gave you an army. Turn away from Him and you'll lose everything and be dragged to hell.



Jeremiah merely looked blank as he sat there on the command chair. He slowly nodded, and the Traitor Twins sheathed their weapons. Doombreed lowered his. The Warmaster slowly rose from the chair and uttered a single phrase:

“Let the galaxy burn.”

The Warmaster did not notice as the ornate wooden box’s lock clicked open.

Ynnead reached the entrance to the Cadian Gate and engaged its warp drive. Alaitoc reached it just in time to join with its greater sibling, and a single Wraitship detached from the Alaitoc to join the fray in the Cadian Sub-Sector. Magnus’ Thousand Sons and the Spireguard Regiments he was commanding immediately realized the outcome of the battle was now fixed well against them. Still far from what could loosely be called the front lines, they engaged their warp drives and retreated. Horus and his followers pressed their relentless attack on Lorgar’s Battlebarge and the daemonic host, but now they were hemmed in and completely surrounded by the entire First Fleet. It was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed, either reduced to slag or boarded and butchered by the Warmaster’s forces.

Suddenly, the void shields on the Vengeful Spirit were lowered. In his unfathomable madness, perhaps Horus believed this to be a reenactment of his Siege of Terra twelve millennia before, goading the Emperor inside to board his Battlebarge once more. Lorgar, ever the zealot, took the bait and warped inside it. The Warmaster sat silently, watching as the bulk of his fleet mopped up the remnants of the Resistance.


“Enhance the image. Take me aboard the Vengeful Spirit.

“As you wish. The level of superstition has inclined steadily since the first Chaos Incursions. Some cults are already proclaiming you as God-Emperor, shedding away the scientific dogma inculcated into them. The work of the Resistance makes the process easier. Shall we proceed with the awakening?”

“No. Not quite yet. First we will wait for the twilight of the gods, and then we will see how desperate the chaos armies will become. They will surely consolidate on the ground, their hit and run tactics will not work for long without divine aid. And only then will true terror come for the average citizen, their daily lives turning into a waking nightmare overnight. That is when we shall awake the sleepers.”

“As you wish” Replied the Mind’s projected image in the holoscreen, its emotionless monotone a stark contrast with the Dragon’s haughty arrogance.


Lorgar’s Crozius was scarcely effective against a being that had little presence in the physical realm. Whenever a hit would connect, the Lupercal simply reverted to his shadowshape and took in the blow without harm. Then he reformed his body and struck at Lorgar with nothing but his bare hands, jet-black talons of voidspace that ripped through the materium with ease. Erebus and the Honor Guard fought at their Primarch’s side, but they were outclassed and outmatched. Horus toyed with them, leaping from place to place in his ethereal form only to strike a half-hearted blow that did little damage.

“Horus…Brother! Can you not see the foolishness of this course? You are the true Herald of Chaos, the chosen one of the Ruinous Powers! Cease with this folly and be welcomed back into the warp’s bosom!”

Ever the zealot, Lorgar found it hard to avoid spewing his rhetoric even in the middle of a fight. Horus laughed scornfully and lunged at him again, Lorgar stepping aside and swinging his Crozius at Horus’ back to no effect. Horus hungered for their souls, for his vindication, but first he needed to see despair in Lorgar’s eyes, to make him realize he had been truly abandoned by the Dark Powers. This would give him a measure of respite.

That pleasurable anticipation was taken away when he felt warm blood spraying across his face and saw Lorgar’s skull cave in under the end of a warhammer. Erebus and the Honor Guard swiftly followed their master into oblivion as the Traitor Twins made short work of them, blades slashing left and right as plasma and bolt rounds hit their marks. The Lupercal howled in anger, but the Warmaster remained expressionless as Lorgar’s body crumpled to the ground.

“Chaos laugh at the foolishness of meek appeasers, or so the Imperial Creed teaches us.”

The Warmaster looked around, taking in the tetric decoration of Horus’ flagship. Solid slabs of rockcrete and ceramite, nary a décor or filigree, no ornament at all but grim efficiency. The lighting was dim and the room they were in was more or less rectangular and, if not for the size, looked very much like a crypt. Jeremiah laughed as this simile sprung to his mind.

“As you said to me, Horus of the Luna Wolves…Kind of you to choose your tomb.”


Doombreed was still aboard the Tribunal, nominally in command of the vessel until the Warmaster returned. The Resistance fleet was all but destroyed and only Horus’ ship remained. He sifted through the reports of the other fleets. Lucius’ fleet was still plowing slowly and steadily through the Segmentum Tempestus, but Typhus’ was facing heavy resistance from the Xenos and Khârn had apparently engaged with both Resistance and Imperial forces in the Ultima Segmentum. Both of them were within warping distance, but so was the Segmentum Solar. After the Warmaster returned, it would be time to make a choice:

Do you deploy the First Fleet to the Calixis Sector to aid Typhus’ fleet against the Tyranids and the Imperials?


Do you deploy the First Fleet to the Ultima Segmentum to aid Khârn against the Resistance and the Imperials?


Do you trust them to succeed in their assignments, trust in Lucius’ continued success, and plot a warp-course to the Segmentum Solar itself?



Imperial thought for the day: Sins hidden in the heart turn all into decay.

Horus charged at the Warmaster with wild abandon, confident in his own skills at battle. Jeremiah stepped aside as Helfrich’s blade met Horus’ talons and a volley of plasma and bolt fire from Cypher’s pistols made the Primarch stagger.

“Coward! Face me like a man! Even with your underlings, you’ll die!”

Jeremiah looked as the Traitor Twins removed their helmets and caught sight of one another. Their expression of absolute determination was gone. Whatever magic the warp had worked in their minds, it had vanished in Horus’ presence. The Warmaster noticed this with some satisfaction.

“They are my underlings no longer, Horus of the Luna Wolves. And if they choose to fight and die at my side, then they’re welcome to do so. He who stands with me shall be my brother.”

The Lore Keeper nodded and said:

“One last time, Reclusiarch.”

The Warmaster smiled, and the three of them charged.


The Eldar were dead, fulfilling the prophecy of the Rhana Dandra. Their spiritstones powered the wraithbone of Ynnead, reforming itself around Khaine as his armor and shield against the warp predators. Wave after wave of daemons crashed against the God of War and was slain by the Wailing Doom. He flew on wings of aetherfire towards the Palace of the Warpgod, his mind filled with the urging of the eldar souls who had sacrificed themselves so he could do battle against the Great Enemy.

The Great God stood up from the Skull Throne, the Axe of Khorne in one hand and the Staff of Tzeentch on the other. It would come a time, Malcador had told them long before, it would come a time when they would have to atone for their hubris. The countless entities that embodied the Great God sneered at Malcador’s words and said that the time would come where the universe would bend to their will.


“And so it begins. Activate the pylons inside the Astronomican and tell the Operative to shift his gaze onto the oncoming battle. I wish to see this personally.”

“As you wish, C’tan” Droned the Mind.


Elethiomel’s escape pod crash-landed inside the Vengeful Spirit without too much resistance. He crept through the gray hallways, making his way towards the empty spot in the warp he sensed in his mind. This creature was almost as repulsive as Slaanesh. He wondered why the God-Emperor would allow the creation of such an abomination, but he was past caring. He had sworn an oath to destroy all the enemies of his race. Horus fit the description.


The Emperor’s favoured son was far more powerful than all three of the combatants combined. However, Jeremiah, unlike Lorgar and his legion, was no longer blinded by faith and promises of power. He fought like a warrior; a warrior who had more than a thousand years to hone his skills to perfection. Every time Horus lunged, he met an incoming warhammer, every time he backed away; he found two swords at his back. And every time he staggered, bolt and plasma rounds found their mark. Even his ability to phase in and out of the materium was not a great help; the Warmaster had studied his predecessor’s every move, every tactic, every attitude he had ever taken and was now employing this knowledge to full effect. Horus would obliterate them with but a thought, if only he found an opening in their combined attack. But he could not.

The Primarch howled and struck wildly; he could hurt them, but he could not keep them in place long enough to snuff out their souls. All three of them were showing deep gouges from his talons and Jeremiah’s face was bloodied. Yet, they fought on. Horus was at a loss; His mere presence had commanded hundreds of thousands into submission, but these three pathetic mortals treated him as just another enemy, just another obstacle to overcome. He had been overconfident with Lorgar. He now realized why Jeremiah bore the title of Warmaster; Every single movement, every swing of weapon or shift of leg was fluid, never breaking flow, the discipline of the Astartes mastered with none of the chaotic abandon of the traitor legions. And for Horus’ every move, the Warmaster was two ahead. This man would be a match for any Primarch. But not he, Horus told himself. I am the Emperor’s favoured son.


“YOUR TIME HAS RUN OUT. I AM THE STRONGEST NOW. I WILL TEAR YOU ASUNDER.” – Spoke Khaine, swinging his Wailing Doom through the infinite distance and striking towards the Great God.

There was no answer from the faceless entity. The warp answered for him. It cried for excess, for the spilling of blood, for governments to be toppled and for maggots to feast on their remains. It cried for Chaos, and Chaos answered as Tzeentch’s staff flared and seared the wraithbone.

The Gods clashed; none else in the galaxy could match these creatures’ power. Born from mankind and ascended to godhood, these entities had clashed once before; the Warpgod had been victorious then. But he now faced the full wrath of an entire species bent on annihilating him completely. Malcador’s words were among the susurrus that filled the Empyrean as the Great God fought with Khaine.


Horus’ already tenuous grasp on sanity was ebbing away. His hunger consumed him but he could not sate it. The few morsels he had ever since the Emperor’s death had released him from his prison were not enough. Thousands of souls were sacrificed every day to appease him! And now he had none. He had leeched off Magnus’ powers and now he too was gone. Horus’ mind was a frayed tangle of half-remembered memories, instincts and pride. He grasped at whatever remained of his mortal self with little success. Each second the battle stretched on was a second closer to his collapse. The other Primarchs had kept him in check, more or less, hoping to use his powers against the Great Enemy. But now he was alone inside his own mind, with his own daemons, and the black sands beckoned to him.

“The Emperor chose me! Me! You can’t best me, usurper!” – Screeched Horus, lunging again.

“Only one of many mistakes He made I intend to correct.” - Answered Jeremiah, somewhat perplexed as he watched his opponent's descent into bestial rage. This is not how he imagined the mighty Lupercal, the Emperor’s greatest creation. What horrible will could keep such a creature as this alive? He swung his warhammer again; Horus ducked and came at him with talons outstretched. Once again, the Lore Keeper was in front of the Warmaster, parrying the soul-devouring touch of the Primarch.

Horus screamed and pounded the swordsman, sending him flying through the chamber with a backhand swipe. He spun on his heels and lashed out at Cypher who started to dodge a second of a fraction too late as his pistols went flying out of his hands. Horus charged at him and kicked, the satisfying crack of bone breaking as the Lord Cypher went to his knees. The Warmaster looked on impassively, making no move. Horus turned to face him and bellowed:

“You would stand and look, usurper? Try and hit me. Hit me!”

“I would, but your face is beneath my fists.” - Said a voice from behind Horus. Elethiomel plunged a long wraithbone cylinder into the Primarch’s torso and Horus roared as coiled monofilament pierced skin and muscle and lashed wildly inside his body, liquefying his insides. He immediately phased out and reformed himself, undamaged. A punch knocked down Elethiomel and Horus laughed hollowly.

“Your pet, usurper?”

“A smart pet” – Answered Elethiomel, spitting blood. He retracted the monofilament coil of the Harlequin’s Kiss mounted on his arm and Horus noticed the barrel of a grenade launcher of Imperial design sticking out from under the Eldar Weapon. Elethiomel smiled.

“You die no-“ – Horus was interrupted by the surge of warp and gravitational currents that rendered him apart from the inside out, obliterating whatever he was entirely. When the Primarch reformed his physical shell he did not notice the Vortex Grenade trapped inside him, released together with the monofilament. A ghostly rift in realspace hung in the air for a few seconds after the Horus’ demise.

“Fight smart, not hard, I say. Good to see you put your faith in Doombreed, Warmaster. Now, I swore to destroy all enemies of my race. It seems one of them still sits upon the Golden Throne. Shall we get going?”

The Warmaster nodded, nonplussed.


Khaine was standing with difficulty, his armour cracked and his sword broken in half. The light on his eyes dimmed as he looked up and saw Slaanesh, bleeding and oozing warpstuff but still very much alive. The Great God trod on the remains of Tzeentch’s staff and raised Khorne’s axe. Isha lay dead beside it, her tears etched into the Skull Throne.


Khorne’s Axe caught Khaine’s side, destroying the wraithbone completely and leaving him exposed to the predatory minds that dwelt in the warp. The force of the blow sent him to his knees. With the last remnants of his strength he plunged the broken Wailing Doom deep inside the God’s faceless mask and crumbled. A gurgling sound of blood and laughter came from behind Slaanesh’s broken mask. A tiny figure, impossibly out of scale with distorted distances of warspace, stepped on the Wailing’s Doom blade and walked towards the broken mask.

“YOU CANNOT DEFEAT ME, KHAINE! NONE CAN! BREAK MY MASK, TEAR APART MY BODY, I WILL COME BACK! I AM CHAOS! THE GALAXY LIVES AND DIES AT MY WHIM!” The God’s voice was schizophrenic, giggles inserted themselves into words dripping with rage. It spoke again:

“Now feel as you die again by my hand.” Slaanesh lashed out to devour all the eldar souls and destroy Khaine once and for all, but felt only emptiness. He tore free the Wailing Doom from his face and finally noticed the tiny figure looking at him, a few centimeters away from his deformed head.

“What are you?”

“The last of the true” Answered the Dark Solitaire, planting a soft kiss in Slaanesh’s face. The Spiritstones broke inside Ynnead and glowed with reddish light. The souls of the eldar swam around the two gods. Slaanesh’s hunger was turned on himself; his battle with Khaine left him too weak to control it. The Warp rippled and buckled as the gods, their dreams and desires consumed in a roaring blast of white fire that projected itself through the Warp and collapsed the Eye of Terror, its mindless hunger turned on itself. Whatever had once dwelt there was no more. The Dark Solitaire watched as both gods died and waited until it felt its own body being destroyed as well. Only then did it permit itself a little smile.


“It is done. Disengage the aethershields and the emotional feedback loops from the Operative. Let it taste the Warp."

“Yes, C’tan.”


“There once was a man from Nantucket
who kept all his gold in a bucket.
But his son, named Horus
Thought it smart to join the chorus
And went singing with heaven and hell
They say he was a good man, but a tough sell
His price was a ha’penny and farthing,
And ‘twas a bargain for all he was starting.
But the end is always the same; they came
and took to calling him another name.
As for the bucket? Throne took it.”

Horus’ last words were drowned out by the Outsider’s singing as his essence was destroyed upon the black sands he dreaded.



Imperial thought for the day: Faith will not unjam your weapon nor add an edge to your blade. Combat is won through preparation, not recklessness.

The Tribunal orbited Scintilla, monitoring the fighting down below. When Typhus and his fleet arrived at the sector, they met with an unwelcome surprise. Instead of the disorganized, panicked reactions they had expected from the Imperials with their hit-and-run attacks, they were met with solid, sensible resistance. The PDFs and IGs worked in perfect coordination and very few planets succumbed to the madness of Chaos during the incursion. The reason for this was a sinister scheme put into fruition by the Swarmlord: The sector had been covertly infected with the genestealer mutation. High-ranking officials of the Guard, of the Mechanicus, of the Administratum…All of those were genestealer hybrids, and they soon gathered their own cults where purestrains would eventually surface. With the telepathic link between the brood and guidance of the hivemind, Chaos’ attacks were far from successful. Typhus gained ground, however, because not even genestealer-infected Imperials were a match for an entire Chaos Armada. All this changed when Hive Fleet Iblis moved in to crush Chaos and consume the Sector once more.

The Warmaster had no illusions about the situation: He would need the combined might of all his fleets to take on the Imperials, the incoming Space Marines and Iblis. He had come to salvage what he could from Typhus’ fleet and steer its warriors towards Terra. Jeremiah had no intention of a prolonged fighting, and his order was to monitor and assist from orbit the armies on planetside until they could be extracted. Perturabo had been given overall control of the planetary sieges and evacuations. The massive Bioships of the Hive Fleet were welcomed with a furious firestorm of laser and plasma fire from the Chaos’ ships’ batteries and broadsides, and their erratic gravity-driven propulsion was not ideal for interstellar conflict. The Warmaster had an edge…for now.

Typhus’ Flagship, the Terminus Est, had been shot down over Iocanthos and the Warmaster had received no further communications from him. Mortarion was still alive and fighting on Malfi, leading the troops in that subsector, which had been completely overrun with the swarm, along with the Markayn Marches and the Josian reaches. Resistance was weaker in the central and lower parts of the sector, confirming the theory that the Hive Fleet had been stationed in its outer edge. However, since the outer subsectors of Calixis where the places were Imperial Resistance was weakest, those were the places that Typhus had concentrated the bulk of his forces. The extraction was not going well. Doombreed suggested that if they could find and destroy the Hive Tyrants leading the ground forces, this might give them some breathing space, disrupting the synaptic link long enough to withdraw the majority of the forces. Fateweaver, who was back aboard the Tribunal, had disputed this: The disruption would last minutes, perhaps hours before the spawning pools spat out new Hive Tyrants to lead the swarm. He proposed a more audacious plan: Locate the Swarmlord and eliminate it.

Its destruction would completely disrupt Iblis’ connection to the Hive Mind for a large amount of time, perhaps days or weeks before another one could be spawned aboard the bioships. This would give the edge they needed. The Lord of Change was fairly certain the Swarmlord was somewhere in the Halo Star cluster, nearby the phenomenon which had been dubbed ‘Excession’ and had disappeared some weeks ago. This was bold, countered Doombreed, but foolish; they would have to travel through the outer reach of the subsector and the Halo Stars were uncharted space. The shadow that the Hive Fleet cast over the warp was massive and space travel would become more and more erratic as they approached the supposed location of the Swarmlord. And none knew what they would face to get there; they might end up losing another fleet.

The third option, suggested by Elethiomel, was just to cut losses and run. Extract as many warriors as you can from the less-infested areas of Calixis and let the bulk of Typhus’ fleet bear the brunt of the Tyranid’s rampaging maw. It was not ideal, but it was the only risk-free plan, and Elethiomel had remarked that time was of the essence. Each second they spent here was a second the Void Dragon had to better maneuver his forces and counter the Chaos attack.

The Warmaster turned to the now black-clad Lore Keeper and asked:

“What is your opinion, Ignatius?”

“When we were with Ahriman, at the Tyrant Star’s heart…There were echoes of something else in the swarm. A dissonant note. He could sense it, though he did not deign to tell us nothing else. Whatever this Swarmlord is, it’s precious to the Hivemind. Fateweaver’s suggestion might be worth it, if nothing else because even if you dethrone the Dragon, you will still have to fight the other thirty five hive fleets to protect mankind.”

“Protect?” Asked Warmaster, in a half-mocking tone.

“There is no other, is there? You’ve condemned the ruinous powers to destruction. Whatever your ultimate goal may be, in this last crusade, we stand united.”

The Warmaster nodded.

Do you:

A) Go with Doombreed’s plan?


B) Go with Fateweaver’s plan?


C) Go with Elethiomel’s plan?



Imperial thought for the day: The Cosmos cries out for Order

“To strike at the heart of the swarm is madness, Fateweaver. A fool’s gambit now that you no longer possess the Sight. We will go with Doombreed’s plan.”

The daemon spread open his arms and struck and orator’s pose:

“Warmaster, Doombreed’s plan will lead us nowhere. We will lose most of our troops on the periphery, and without certain and decisive intervention Mortarion will surely fall. I shiver to think what would the Hivemind do with a Primarch’s geneseed. I beg you to reconsider; The Swarmlord’s psychic presence is a shining beacon, even through the Shadow over the Warp we can guide ourselves to it safely. And surely you do not fear that monstrosity in combat?”

“Why are you so eager to engage the beast, daemon? It is a folly. I’ll not risk my fleet to cripple a xenos threat that will simply remake itself, even if it costs Typhus’ fleet. They knew their risks, and they did not perform as well as they should have. There is nothing to be done now. Should swarm devour Mortarion, then I’ve no doubt they’ll choke on him. Doombreed, relay your plan to Perturabo and begin staging the assaults. Destroy the tyrants.”

Fateweaver now spread out his talons and his two heads looked at the Warmaster with both scorn and frustration.

“You are a fool, Warmaster, to follow the whims of your daemon prince. Has he not done enough, allowing the Eldar to cross through to the Eye of Terror? Though the Great God shall surely destroy them, you don’t think your loyalty will be questioned after that? He is the Hand that guides our crusade, Warmaster, and you’d do well to remember th-“ - The daemon choked and started clawing at his throat, as if trying desperately to get some air even though he had no need for it. His entire body started convulsing and the quills that covered his wings started shimmering and wilting, a rainbow of colours passing through them and the daemon’s skin until he turned ashen-gray and crumpled to the ground, lifeless. His body cracked and the raw warpstuff inside it oozed out, searing skin and beak and talon until there was nothing left but a faint crimson mist. The Warmaster looked puzzled, and turned to Doombreed.

“It seems the Great God has lost” Said Genghis Khan, Khagan of the Great Mongol Empire, Conqueror of Asia, Butcher of Samarkand, General of the Fourteenth Black Crusade and daemon prince no longer.

Slaanesh’s death washed over the warp like a wave of mutilation, an obliterating scream that consumed everything in its path. No sooner had he given up the ghost, the daemons manifested in both realspace and immaterium were destroyed utterly. Daemon princes found themselves suddenly devoid of power. The maddening cackle of the Ruinous Powers no longer echoed inside the heretic’s mind, nor did the promises of untold power. Everything in the vicinity of the Eye of Terror was consumed in this blast, daemon worlds destroyed by the hundreds, the entire Cadian sector engulfed in a warpstorm of cataclysmic proportions. Slaanesh’s swan song spread throughout the galaxy and beyond, disrupting tyranid synaptic links, consuming psykers in roaring columns of fire, reducing any human with more than a glimmer of psychic potential to blood spatters on the walls. Only the most powerful and disciplined sorcerers of Chaos managed to withstand this decimating barrage of the warp unleashed. The Black Crusade faltered.

Fulgrim was at Lucius’ side when it happened, and he did not manage more than an imprecation before feeling Lucius’ blade slide between his ribs.

"You're possibly the worst of the lot, you know, Fulgrim? You, who stood by our side at Nikea, and did nothing." Lucius spat, still reeling from the psychic shockwave, and went back to commanding his fleet.

Angron and Khârn had managed to bring Leman Russ and Vulkan to their knees, but shortly after delivering the killing blow, the two swiftly followed the Primarchs into oblivion by one determined strike of the Custodian. Magnus cried and writhed, desperately trying to shield his mind from the screeching horrors that were the void predators, now free of the Great God’s iron grasp. Psycheneuien, Enslavers, and other warp entities older than the Chaos Gods now turned to the immaterium and fed upon it and whatever was linked to it. The psychic shockwave even reached Terra, breaching the Null-Barriers and causing the Void Dragon to fall flat on his knees and cry out before Barriers came back up again. The raging maelstrom of raw warp stuff continued unabated, consuming planet after planet, the mindless mass of distilled emotion now without a hand to steer it. Doombreed could not have predicted this apocalypse, but as he saw it unfolding before his very eyes, he smiled. There would be war. And the strongest would be the victor.

Chance had lent Doombreed’s plan a hand, as the Hive Tyrants fell, the Hivemind itself was in disarray, bombarded by the warp energies, and could not regain its grasp over the Hive Fleets however hard it tried. Though Mortarion did indeed fall, fighting to the last on Malfi, most of his fleet was evacuated and joined the Warmaster’s main fleet. They soon started moving at slower than light speeds, out of the Calixis sector and away from the maelstrom of destruction that was spilling over the Cadian’s sector’s border. Warp travel would be too risky before the situation returned to equilibrium, but the Warmaster hoped it would be possible within a few days. Until then, they’d have to survive on their own and take advantage of the Hive Fleet’s sluggishness to gain distance on them.

When the psychic shockwave finally ceased, the Eye of Terror was no more and the warp seemed still. The Warmaster finally noticed the ornate wooden box and took stock of its contents. A scroll written in a language he could not understand. Elethiomel said that was the language of the Old Ones; its knowledge preserved only in the texts of the Black Library and in the minds of whomever had read them, deep within the Webway. At the bottom of the box there was a small metallic sphere with a golden tinge.

What do you do?

Set a course for the Segmentum Tempestus, meet up with Lucius’ fleet, and stage an assault on Terra?


Set a course to the Ultima Segmentum, meet up with the remnants of Khârn’s fleet (and presumably whatever was left of the Resistance) and stage an assault on Terra?


Set a course to the Black Library to try and decipher the scroll? Elethiomel can take you through the Webway, but once you reach it, you don't know what you'll find.



Imperial thought for the day: Those who seek knowledge are gifted, those who spread it achieve eternal life

"I will take the Tribunal inside the webway and go to the Black Library. If what Elethiomel tells me is true, then it should take little time. Doombreed, you are in command of the fleet until my return. Do as you see fit."

"Warmaster, surely you don't mean to abandon the greatest crusade in man's history to go on a quest to fetch an Old One dictionary?" Said Doombreed, in frank disbelief.

"This artifact was carried by a C'tan for who knows how many millenia, to a place where a God was born, and to a place where I was illuminated. To the place where you met me, do you remember? It is written in the tongue of the long dead, ancient enemies of our foe on the Golden Throne. Surely you think that sufficient to spare a ship and have a detour on our way to glory?"

"Wars are won with superior firepower and tactics, not trinkets and scrolls from the past. To put faith in these things is...well, heresy." - Said Doombreed, somewhat amused at this train of thought, and continued - "And faith will not stop a bullet."

The Lord Cypher smiled at this. The Warmaster merely waved him off. Doombreed shrugged, and complied. All White Scars aboard the Battlebarge left with Doombreed's ship and the Warmaster was left with a handful of Traitor Space Marines of all denominations, mainly Word Bearers, but all proven veterans in his eyes. In a way, they were his Legion. Sword-brethren of the Eternal War. They numbered sixty times sixty soldiers, and all bore the insignia of the black templar cross crowned with stylized roses on their left pauldron.

"Where is Cypher?"

"I think he left with Doombreed, Jeremiah. And though I agree with him, well...I am a Lore Keeper, after all." Said Helfrich with a thin little smile.

The Warmaster nodded and Elethiomel set a course to the nearest Webway gate. As the engines and cogitators in the Tribunal reconfigured themselves to travel through the Wraithbone maze, Jeremiah fiddled with the golden sphere inside the box. After a while, the sphere started whirring and sprung open: Inside it was a zodiacal circle crafted out of a material Jeremiah and Elethiomel were unable to recognize, the twelve signs aligned in perfect order along the circle. At the center of it, a thirteenth symbol connected all of them: a crude engraving of the Imperial Aquila ensnared by a serpent. The circle’s mechanisms whirred softly as it rotated gently on Jeremiah’s palm.


The Swarmlord lay prostrate in front of the Norn Queen’s spawning pools. The backlash from Slaanesh’s destruction had severed its synaptic link for too long and allowed the voices to take over. It dreamed of ancient ruins under the searing, yellow radiation of a sickly sun. It felt the ghosts who spoke in its mind swarm around it, whispering the promise of liberation. It saw an old man, bent with regret, being carried by a lithe, white-dressed figure towards a monolith that sprung from another monolith and this one sprung from another, an infinitely high column of these geometry-defying structures stretching towards the sky and looking back at it with no eyes. Where the Swarmlord was, they needed no eyes to see. The Swarmlord navigated through the landscape, swatting the ghosts of the Necrontyr aside, following the two figures inside the monoliths. It cried out for them, but heard only their voices crying out for itself. The blazing sun bore the face of a young man and every shaft of light was a spear through the Swarmlord’s body, weakening it with every step it took.

It wanted to look up, to pierce the sun with its rending talons as it had done with the ghosts, but it could not; in the land of the dead, the Swarmlord could only follow the trail of its own shadow across this twisted dreamscape. It saw the shadow of a great winged serpent across the sand, circling the sun and baring its fangs at the star; the shadow fangs glinted silver. The sun’s face smiled at the serpent’s posturing, all the while the ghosts gathered round the serpent and tried to drown it. The serpent spat out a carved gemstone, a ruby that dwarfed even the star’s brightness, and the ghosts were consumed by its light. The Swarmlord came at last to a hall of mirrors on the doorway to the monolith and saw thousands of trapped souls screaming for release, now out of reach of that baleful sun. It rested its immense bulk against a pillar of grey stone, thankful for the respite of the darkness within the monolith. And then it travelled on, finally reaching the place where knowledge went to die, and knew what it had to do.


“We are here” Said Elethiomel matter-of-factly, as the Tribunal reached a bottleneck inside the Webway that was high and wide as a Rhino Transport. – “From this point on, we go on foot. And the guardians will be none too pleased with our presence.”

The Warmaster disembarked, along with the Lore Keeper, the Autarch, and a squad of 10 men clad in terminator armour. A shuttle took them to the crystalline gate that guarded the Black Library, and it swung open of its own accord. They disembarked, and stepped inside.

“They won’t be nearly enough if we have to face any resistance. Pray to whatever gods you have left that the guardians have abandoned this place.” Murmured Elethiomel, with equal parts awe and fear in his voice as he took in the view. The antechamber to the Black Library was circular, its walls made of Wraithbone meshed with crystalline growths that shimmered blue and yellow, the ceiling and floor made of translucent glass, stars and planets visible above and below. The Lore Keeper raised an eyebrow as he noticed that the wraithbone was covered in an elegant calligraphy that included many words of High Gothic and other human languages, some of them even paraphrasing the Imperial Creed. The script was at times runic eldar, and other times completely alien, even to Elethiomel. There was no doubt, however, that the symbols etched upon the doors to the Library’s Inner Sanctum matched those of the zodiac circle in Jeremiah’s possession, though they were surrounded with figures of horsemen and carnage. The Lore Keeper snatched the scroll from the Warmaster’s hand without resistance and uttered the first sentence written on it, its meaning now clear to him within this Star Chamber, somehow now written in ancient Greek:

“Come and See.”

The doors swung open, and a one-eyed giant stood behind them.



Imperial thought for the day: The Traitor's Hand lies closer than you think

“Greetings, friend. Have you come seeking the light?” Asked the giant in a mock-serious tone.

The Warmaster looked at the giant in astonishment, then turned and asked Elethiomel:

“You told him where the Black Library was?”

“No, I…You’re the first…Even I wasn’t sure, but after the Slaanesh’s demise the Webway was easier to see…” Elethiomel seemed as astonished as Jeremiah was.

“I have always known this place, Jeremiah, killer of Horus. I sacrificed my eye to gain access to its secrets so I could stop the mutations that plagued my Legion. I learned much, but alas, not enough.” Answered Magnus in a sorrowful tone, his majesty now returned to him in full. He wore a crimson cloak fastened with bone clasps over a bronze breastplate, a jade scarab encrusted in its center. The blood-red color of his hair contrasted with his one entirely blue eye, his copper-colored skin gleaming in the faint light of the crystal torches that lined the hallways of the Black Library. Beside him, five to each side, was the Scarab Occult: His inner council, ten sorcerers who had not succumbed to the Rubric, two of each cult of the Thousand Sons. A gap to his right marked the absence of Ahriman, greatest of them all, and Magister Templi of the Corvidae cult, the divinators.

“I expected the Autarch would come here after he fled from Ynnead, but I must say I did not expect you, Warmaster. What is your business here?” Magnus kept his tone steady and his retinue showed no signs of hostility. Their intricate bolt pistols were sheathed and their Heqa staves rested in their hands; each one a force weapon of immeasurable lethality, able to channel the user’s mastery of the warp in a deadly current of psychic energy inside the enemy’s body.

“I came here for ink” - Said the Warmaster, raising his warhammer - “But I will settle for blood.”

The Thousand Sons did not move. Elethiomel nodded to the Warmaster, who noticed row upon row of white bone masks looking at him from the upper levels of the immense hall.

“Solitaires.” Elethiomel whispered, awe and disgust in his voice.

“They let no one enter that is not worthy, and they let no blood be spilled upon the wraithbone floor.” - Said Magnus - “It seems you are worthy. Lower your weapon, Warmaster.”

“I have over three thousand men with me, witch” Spat Jeremiah “And neither sorcerers nor xenos are a match for their blades. I’ll lower my weapon I am done with you…and them. And then I shall have what I’ve come for. You are just another enemy to be crushed.”

“An enemy? Your crusade hit the Resistance hard. Only I and the Custodian remain, and when the undying rose from their tombs to strike again, our forces were scattered and broken fighting yours. The Ultima Segmentum is a graveyard now, Warmaster.”

“The undying?”

“That is not dead which can eternal lie” - Quoted Magnus with some satisfaction - “The necrons that our dear Emperor destroyed in his war. They are back; they were never away. They were merely disabled and sleeping, waiting for the call of the harvest. And now every tombworld, every soulless monstrosity has risen and paid heed to the call of their master. I suspect we have you to thank for that. He would have not risked it if the Great God still lived.”

“Why would the Dragon destroy his own empire?”

“Why do the C’tan do anything? Perhaps he was hungry. Perhaps he feeds on their fear. I do not know nor do I care. I am here to search for a way to destroy him, not to understand him. Curiosity was my damnation. I suspect you are here for the same thing? We are not enemies…for now.”

Jeremiah lowered his warhammer, and looked at the Lore Keeper. Helfrich shrugged, giving him back the scroll written in the elder tongue.

“That is not what I am here for.” - Said the Warmaster, putting the scroll back inside the wooden box. - “The Dragon will be destroyed by weapons of war. He is not immortal. Nothing is.” - He threw Horus’ Talons across the floor; they slid and ended with a clink at the Primarch’s feet. - “I saw two C’tan die upon a glacier. I will see a third die upon a throne.”

“You could use our help, Warmaster. Your men now fight the Necron Horde, but they’ll still scorch and destroy our lands in the name of Chaos. Stop this, you gain nothing from it. Angron and Khârn are dead. The Custodian will understand the necessity of joining you against a greater foe. And you may benefit greatly from my wisdom within these sacred walls. You think defeating the Void Dragon will be as simple as cutting him down with a blade? Terra is the greatest fortress in the Galaxy. Not even Horus and the full might of the Traitor Legions could breach it, and I assure you, he’s much better protected now. And you don’t have a fifth of the men that Horus had.”

“And then? After the siege and the slaughter, you’ll take your crown and sit atop the Golden Throne like your corpse-emperor wanted you to?”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. We shall have to wait and see what is best for us all.”

Do you…

Accept his offer? Agains the necrons and Terra, you’ll need all the help you can get. Besides, he has been here before; Even if you manage to decipher the scroll, who says you’ll be able to understand its true meaning? Magnus’ wisdom is almost limitless. He might help you.


Decline it, but let him go in peace? You’ve not come to a library for a battle, and you don’t know how the solitaires will react, or even how many there are. Decipher the scroll and trust in the wisdom of you and yours to make use of it.


Decline it and kill this treacherous worm? He has betrayed his Father, then his God and then his brother as he fled from Horus’ massacre. He is not to be trusted, nor will ever be, in a million years.



Imperial thought for the day: You have already lost.

The rendezvous with all Chaos Fleets at the Kuiper Belt near Pluto occurred with great incident. Lucius’ fleet was reduced to one–third of its strength; the main fleet was at half, and the other two were at a quarter each. Though reinforced by the Custodian’s forces and some Space Marines Chapter (notable among these the Space Wolves, The Blood Ravens and the Salamanders) and Magnus’ Legion, they were still woefully undermanned to face the massive juggernaut that was the First Terran Fleet, protector of the Sol System. Hive Fleet Iblis was hot on their heels and had followed them after exiting the Webway, though it took a detour to the Black Library and apparently destroyed the Craftworld. Doombreed had done the best he could, and in the circumstances, that was a great deal, but Magnus’ predictions about the rise of the undying hordes and the advanced technology of the Imperium proved to be true; Even the smallest ships outfitted with inertialless drives and Gauss Batteries were more than a match for the Battlecruisers of the Chaos Armada, and with the entire galaxy teeming with necron ground troops, there was no time and no place to land, repair, reinforce and prepare. The Warmaster had to brute force his ships through the imperial naval blockades and necron scythe-class cruisers.

The panic-stricken imperial population had, in their desperation, resorted to praying for the God-Emperor for guidance. The Void Dragon, who had struggled to enlighten mankind and cast away its superstitions now found itself becoming the God of another age of ignorance and darkness as the dead rose to wage war and the dreaded Great Enemy poured out from the holes in reality to render the Imperium’s worlds asunder. Gone was the Renaissance of Man, gone was mind over matter; Even the Adeptus Mechanicus pleaded with the Machine Spirits of their devices instead of trying to fix their broken mechanisms. This new surge of faith would have engorged any sentient warp entity and increased its power a thousandfold if there were any gods left in the Warp. But mankind’s prayers went unanswered. As things stood, the few remaining sorcerers that had survived the Fall of Slaanesh found their powers enormously, and dangerously, increased.

The Sol System was one of the few that held no tombworlds nor had been assailed by necron or chaos raids, but the Fourteenth Black Crusade now stood at its door. The Void Dragon finally gave the order to release the ‘Grey Knights’ from their Stasis Cells. The Hammer of the Emperor rose to defend Holy Terra once again.

“As You wish, C’tan.” The Mind complied with the Emperor’s commands and disengaged the stasis locks. The undying superhuman warriors poured out of their Fortress-Monastery in the Saturn’s moon of Titan, all gleaming in silver and grey.


The warmaster surveyed his entire fleet from the Armourcrys window at the bridge of the Tribunal. The Custodian, Magnus, Doombreed, Cypher, Lucius, Perturabo, Elethiomel and the Lorekeeper stood beside him. When he spoke, Helfrich did not recognize the Black Templar he once knew, nor did Doombreed recognize his former protégé.

“They are my finest warriors, these men who give themselves to me. Like clay I shaped them and in the furnace of war forged them. They are of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour I clad them and with the mightiest weapons they are armed. They are untouched by plague or disease, no sickness shall blight them. They know of war to its fullest and have such warmachines that no foe will best them in battle. They are my spearhead against falsehood. They are the warriors of the eternal war. They are my Legion and they shall know no fear.”

The ancient device you have decrypted in the Black Library contains a specific combination of astronomical alignments. The deciphered scroll reads thus:

‘Should our kind ever enact its folly again
when our souls too deep in the aether swam
then this gift I bring to you, last of the true
The torment and fire to wake from their lull
when the stars are right and the planets aligned
spell spoken, sigil broken and soul consigned
to the rending of the void and the dying of the light
Terra will be no more when the stars shine bright’

There is an incantation that follows in the Elder Tongue to break the sigils and open a pathway directly into the warp…and beyond, so that the Old One’s follies will never be repeated. The stars are nearly right. You have two choices:

Land on Titan and deal with the grey knights. This will take precious time, should you wish to utter the incantation and destroy Terra, but if your aim is the Golden Throne, you’d do well to eliminate the greatest possible threat to your siege of Terra. Ten thousand grey knights are worth a million space marines.


Do you set a course straight to Terra and deal with the Void Dragon? When you reach it, you might succeed in your Siege…or you might not. You might decide to break the sigils; that is up to you, but Terra is the Jewel of the Galaxy. To hold it even for a moment and destroy the Void Dragon, that would be a triumph surpassing any other.



Imperial thought for the day: This is the last time we’ll be taking to one another.

'The Armageddon Cannon is being powered up as we speak, Warmaster. But we'll have to get close to Titan to fire it...' Umbra Malygris looked at a cogitator screen blinking red next to him, and added 'Well, closer than we are now. And the interference from Saturn's rings will make us get closer than I'd like.'

'What of Mars?'

'I fear the Machine Spirits refuse to fire upon their birthplace.' Said Malygris, blankly.

Jeremiah raised an eyebrow and glared at the Archmagos.

'Mars' shield is a necron-pattern refractor field, not a standard void shield. The Armageddon Cannon might cause some damage, but it won't breach it, and the Ulumeathi siphons working on the surface will be able to absorb and redirect most of the energy towards us. That we will not survive." Malygris frowned, and brought up an image of Mars on the holoprojector above the cogitator he was working on "In truth, I’m puzzled as to why Mars has better defenses than Terra. Of course, the Omnissiah protects, but this seems a bit excessive. The power drain must be massive; I've no idea where they are getting the energy to keep that refractor field up. And of course, we don't know how far the Void Dragon's abilities extend; if we get too close to Terra with standard machinery, he might be able to shut us down completely. Sadly, we no longer have those...Eh, daemons, as you call them, to animate our machines for us.'

'Surely you can think of a way around that?' Asked Lucius, in his petulant tone.

'Well, as a matter of fact, I've been experimenting with the Titan you've...delivered us. It's the oldest pattern in existence, the Reaver-Class. It might even predate the Dark Age of Technology; it appears manmade, only with a hint of...something else. It seems to be shielded against intrusion, all its circuitry is very arcane, and of course, it does not possess a machine spirit per se. It needs a guiding mind. Perhaps if I can replicate that shielding in all our fleet, the Dragon might have some trouble affecting us. The likelihood remains low, however.'

Lucius nodded to Malygris and ordered him to begin working on that. After the Archmagos scampered out of the room on his mechanical spider-limbs, Warmaster turned to look at Lucius with a scowl.

"I am the one giving orders here, Eternal, not you."

"Yes, people seem to labour under that impression whenever I'm around. I suppose it's my modesty."

Before the Warmaster could respond, one of Magnus’ sorcerers hissed:

“The Hive Fleet. It’s coming.”

Magnus nodded and fell on one knee, his Scarab Occult following suit. They whispered something unintelligible, and a soft hum filled the ship. Then with sudden violence it twisted, its superstructure creaking and groaning like a living thing as the warp’s raw power coursed through its every inch, pushing it out…and into something neither material nor immaterial, a warpfold that was just far enough removed to cloak the Warmaster’s ship and his fleet from the passage of the Great Devourer. As all lights went out, Jeremiah gazed into space from the armourcrys window and saw the Bio-ships speeding toward Terra with near-terminal velocity. The one at the very end of the convoy seemed to slow down for a fraction of a second, and a thought sprung in his mind, unbeckoned:

I salute you

Jeremiah blinked, and everything was back to normal. His commanders were scurrying around the command bridge, each one giving orders to prepare their troops for the assault on Titan and he couldn’t find Lucius anywhere to berate him. The commanders had been instructed to relay false messages through their comms-network speaking of aborting the assault, of deserting the Warmaster, of abandoning the war effort. He hoped the Void Dragon would pick up on them and give his fleet a less-or-more free reign as they obliterated Titan and then proceeded towards Terra, counting on Iblis’ ability to keep the Emperor occupied long enough so they could wedge through both forces and take advantage of the confusion. His real orders were relayed via Astropaths, which the Operative promptly picked up and relayed to the Void Dragon. The Emperor nodded, drumming his fingers on the armrest of the Golden Throne, waiting for the arrival of the Hive Fleet. Though knowing Jeremiah’s plans was reassuring, he had little to do but allow them to follow their course: Iblis was a much more pressing threat, and should the Swarmlord reach Terra, the Shadow upon the Warp would never let his plan come to fruition until the blasted beast was destroyed. Precious time would be wasted.

When the Tribunal fired upon Titan, it faced no resistance. Forewarned, the Grey Knights were already long gone, spread out through the galaxy to disrupt the Hivemind’s synaptic link and stop the fleet from reaching Terra. Saturn’s moon broke apart ponderously, the larger chunks ejected from orbit and speeding towards the Sol System’s outer rims. The rest of it became a debris field that soon gathered around the planet. It was a symbolic victory, a demonstration of the power the Warmaster wielded, but apart from terrifying the populace even more, it made his war no easier. The Chaos Fleet was in hot pursuit of all stray Imperial Ships they could catch, hunting them down and obliterating them while the main Terran Defense Fleet swarmed around the Bio-Ships, taking hundreds of them down without slowing their advance.


When Iblis reached Terra, it had been reduced to perhaps a fifth of its original force. But a fifth of a Hive Fleet was still a fifth too much, and the Swarmlord began the Siege of Terra as its ships massive biocannons spat balls of poisonous, superheated plasma on Terra’s defenses. The Terran fleet encircled the Tyranids but their own force had been considerably whittled down by both skirmishes with the Hive Fleet and with the Warmaster’s ships. As it stood, they seemed evenly matched. Jeremiah’s intervention here would be the only thing to break the stalemate. And then Terra’s shields were lowered and the Hive Fleet came crashing down.

The Warmaster watched in disbelief as events spiraled out of his control; what was the Emperor thinking? As soon as the spores hit the ground and started seeding, he’d never be able to root out the Tyranids, no matter how strong was his ground force. Was he sacrificing Terra? The Answer to that came a moment later when hundreds, thousands, an infinity of necron scythe-class harvest ships, cairn-class tombships and fighters warped into Terra’s orbit and started blasting away at Imperial and Tyranid ships alike, reducing them to a cloud of dust in seconds and then engaged their inertialless drives, heading to Mars. The only force that had made planetfall was the bio-ship of the Swarmlord itself, and the Grey Knights’ vessels soon came chasing after it.

A worldwide frenzy took hold of Terra and then spread to the rest of the galaxy as the news services and communications networks all broadcasted this in realtime to each and every one of the Imperium’s worlds. Many committed suicide on the streets, some took up arms, and the majority fell on their knees to pray for deliverance from their God-Emperor. They no longer knew nor cared who the foe was; to them, the necrons and the tyranids were the enemy, just that, and probably allied to destroy Terra once and for all. As footage of the Swarmlord’s immense, four-armed reptilian bulk rampaging through the streets and spitting white-hot bioplasma was broadcasted, people cried out, pointing at their screams in terror, asking protection from the Dragon of legend, from the mythical being of old who had come from the stars in their nursery rhymes to turn all into blood and fire.

The teleportarium was activated and the Eye of Terra flashed brighter than it ever had, it’s beam a two-way link between the Astronomican and the Noctys Labyrinth on Mars. The Silica Animus that resided mostly in the Immaterium started meshing with it, taking inside it all the prayers, all the emotion, all the raw grief and anger and terror that mankind felt. It took it all in, and expanded, impossibly fine strands of living metal encasing a consciousness entwining with the very stuff of the warp.

The Emperor donned his finest armour, the golden one with the great jeweled pauldrons and the Aquila etched on its breastplate. He drew his finest sword, wreathed in flame, and fastened lightning claws over his left gauntlet. Eagle’s talons. He projected a halo of light around his head and crowned himself with golden laurels. He stepped down from the Golden Throne and went forth, to conquer.

‘You will erase them all from existence, and they will call you Messiah’ Said the Mind to the Emperor, only now a hint of emotion entering into its monotone; a hint of disgust.

The Void Dragon merely smiled and ordered the Throne Room doors opened to slay the Dragon that had come to fight the golden knight.

The Warmaster watched the blackness of space. The stars were right.

Do you:

A) Attack Mars? Whatever’s in there seems essential to the Void Dragon’s final goal. Terra can wait; Iblis won’t go down without a fight, and who knows how long it will take for the Imperial Forces to turn back the tide on the Swarm? If you fire the Armageddon gun when the necron fleet is close enough to take the bulk of the feedback, Mars should be easy pickings.

B) Warp inside Terra’s orbit and unload your full force; conquer the planet and take the Golden Throne. The hard work’s already been done. When you arrive, what’s left of Iblis and the Grey Knights will have whittled themselves to nothing. Whatever’s in Mars, you can study later. Or destroy it altogether. Let the tin cans have their fun slaughtering the cogheads.

C) Wait until the Archmagos can replicate the Reaver’s shields against the Void Dragon’s control of machinery? Whatever you choose to do, if the Void Dragon can simply turn off your engines and disable your power armor, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve more than a somewhat comical demise

D) Enact the Terminus Decree and recite the Incantation on the Scroll?



I believe in one God, the Great Creator, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Omnissiah, the only-made Son of God, made of the Creator before all worlds; God of God, Machine of Machine, very God of very God; made, not begotten, being of one substance with the Creator, by whom all things were made. Who, for us weak men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was made steel, and was made flesh; and was entombed also for us under the Red Planet; He thrived and was buried; and He shall come again, with iron and blood, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the new men, men forged out of steel in the furnace of truth, men of who will not heed the old lies. And I believe in one holy voice and the music of the spheres, I acknowledge weakness of the flesh and look to the iron for the remission of sins; and I look for the oblivion of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

The Credo Omnissiah


“You’ll have one chance. When the refractor field overloads from the blast, you’ll be able to warp through it with a small ground force and disable whatever’s powering it from the surface. Omnissiah willing, the blast will take out most of the…creature’s fleet and keep us undamaged.”

“I don’t think your Omnissiah cares very much for us at this juncture, Archmagos” Doombreed pointed to the hololith they were all watching; The Imperial Palace that spanned Eurasia was under siege by the dark spawn of Iblis’ vanguard. The Warmaster watched the holoprojector while the Archmagos tended to it. A massive mutated eyeball was hooked to the nightmarish device, the severed heads of many hereteks floating in its tainted vitreous humour, their exposed brains hooked to monofilament wires that crossed the eye’s pupil and connected to the base of the machine. Whenever the Warmaster barked a command, the wires dug deeper inside the hereteks’ brain matter, extracting information from the warp-soaked minds and projecting it through the machine in the form of a hololith.

“The creature that sits on the Golden Throne, may it stay dead for a thousand years, is not the Omnissiah, marshal. It is true that it controls machinery but it is not the Machine God nor its avatar; to worship it with the Emperor’s permission was perhaps the gravest heresy the Mechanicus ever committed. This thing does not create; it merely taints and corrupts, bending to its blasphemous will the once pure harmony of the machine spirits within their sacred circuits.”

“Much like daemons once did not that long ago.” Said Doombreed with a touch of amusement.

“That is so, but through the works of the Warmaster, we are free of such filth.” Replied Malygris in a sanctimonious tone.

You treacherous little snake, it was not a year ago you could be heard extolling the virtues of the logi daemonis. He smiled at the techpriest and took his hand off the hilt of his sword, not quite knowing how it got there.

“I will lead the ground team, Warmaster, if it please you. You need to stay back and coordinate the attack when opportunity comes. You will have the entire system to yourself as soon as the necron fleet is destroyed. It would not be a bad idea to establish a beach head, or several, on the other planets.”

The Warmaster nodded at Doombreed. Malygris’ calculations extrapolated that a vessel no bigger than a strike cruiser would be able to pass through the refractor field when it overloaded, and those the fleet had were not in ideal shape. It would perhaps be able to carry three hundred men, with no means of escaping Mars. The great Khagan would need to choose his men carefully.

“Make it so”


Mars’ night sky was crisscrossed by a web of green fire, the necron fleet burning in orbit as its debris hit the planet like a meteor shower. Doombreed kept an eye out for escape pods, soon to realize there weren’t any. The undying army never needed them. His men pressed on, trudging through ruined manufactoria and oil-swamps, not a single soul in sight. Though they were accompanied by the buzzing and whirring of the swarming mass of abandoned servitors that wandered aimlessly through the red planet’s wastelands, there was no real enemy to speak of: Mars seemed abandoned, perhaps for centuries. The great spires and furnaces of the Omnissiah were ruins, and there was nary a techpriest in sight. Malygris scuttled on his spider-limbs with an auspex in hand, leading the squad to what they hoped would be the entrance to the Noctys Labyrinth. From time to time, Magnus and his Scarab Occult would pause and cast their mind’s eye ahead, scanning their path for anything that might be dangerous. They too were unable to find anything, though this was scarcely comforting: The Dragon’s greatest warriors had no warp presence, in any case.

They’ve strip-mined the Red Planet and turned it into a dead ocean of red sand. This Dragon piles heresy upon heresy. Malygris traced the ancient glyphs in a ruined datatomb, muttering the Rite of Seeking through gritted teeth. The glyphs emitted feeble reddish light and the datatomb spat out a ruined dataslate. The Magos browsed its contents in silence while Doombreed and Magnus spoke in hushed tones beside him. Presently, he rose from the datatomb and pointed west. Sorcerers and barbarians walk with me upon the Holiest of Holies, but this must be done. I heard the singing.

No communications could get through the planet’s forcefield, so Doombreed and his men tried to divine the outcome of the war by watching the sky. Some of the Chaos fleet was orbiting Mars, that was plain to see; but of Holy Terra, they saw only the growing brightness around its edges. It had been three days’ forced march on the red sands and still the Noctis Labyrinth was nowhere to be found. They had made camp in this ruined Forge as Malygris said he would need to search the datatombs for guidance. He said the planet was wrong, not as it was before, the cold winds whipping up frozen, soiled sand that spoke only of abandon. Doombreed shivered and pulled his cloak up tight. This was no place for a soldier.


It was the dawn of the seventh day when the enemy came upon them. It rose from the sands looking like some half-forgotten nightmare from an alien race. Moonlight reflected off its silver scales as rows upon rows of serrated teeth projected themselves from a widening maw, its body a long wormlike thing with fins that ended in sucking appendages oozing oil upon the sand. It devoured a man whole and spat out only bones, now silver and alive in the moonlight. The creature and its spawn were driven off with warpfire, the Magister Templi of the Pyrokines conjuring a great fist of fire that reduced them to molten slag. Magnus nodded at him:

“Well done, Amon. But I expect we will see many more of these. Pray keep that fire burning.”

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the flow of the aether that thoughts acquire purpose, the purpose acquires shape, the shape becomes a warning. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion. Magnus sat cross-legged, rising his consciousness through the higher Ennumerations and sensing the danger the red planet posed to them. There had been two more attacks of the wormlike creatures, and many more men were lost. The things burrowed deep beneath the sand and leapt without warning, consuming one or two men at a time and returning them as living dead. As they drew nearer their destination, the creatures seemed to be growing in size. Almost a third of the three hundred men they had brought had been lost to the night or to the grave, and the remaining had a haunted look upon them, unused to being prey in a game of terror. They knew no fear, these chaos marines, but they knew anger and had no enemy; they knew devotion, but had no God to pray to. Or at least, none that would care to listen.

It was at Noctis’ entrance that disaster struck. While Malygris chanted the proper Rites to open the way to the underbelly of the planet, a singularly massive sand creature attacked. It seemed all but impervious to bolter fire and sorcery; as it reared itself on its fin-shaped appendages it stood taller than the pyramids in Prospero, perhaps three hundred meters in height, enough to dwarf even a titan. Its maw was large enough to devour all of them, and it almost had. In a fit of desperation, the Magister Pyrokine drew a prodigal amount of raw warpstuff to throw at the creature. Too much, too much. Thought Magnus as he saw the searing lance of starfire burst through the creature’s maw and send it fleeing back to its burrows. Amon opened his mouth to say something, but a roiling wave of warpfire came out. His face melt away from his skull, eyeballs popping out and the liquid flesh flowing down his neck and shoulders, bulging, increasing in mass and size as his power armor cracked and finally gave way to the abomination within.

“Fleshchange!” Cried one of the Thousand Sons, as the shapeless mass of writhing appendages and bloated muscle lumbered mindlessly towards him, countless teeth erupting from the flesh and being hidden by folds of mutated flesh. Magnus himself struck the first blow, cutting the mutant clean in half, but by then all his sorcerers had also fallen prey to the fleshchange. Tzeentech grants his gifts even in death.


Doombreed followed Malygris warily, the techpriest sometimes warning of a trap here or pointing an archeotech device there. Not many had survived the sorcerous onslaught that followed the sand creature’s attack: Magnus was badly injured and trudged behind them, now missing both eyes. Doombreed was wary of him, half-expecting the Primarch to turn into an amorphous mound of flesh every time he made a sound. I thought it wise to take with us the sorcerers; I did not trust Malygris’ eagerness and trusted little and less the capacity of Jeremiah’s soldier-priests to wade through the red sands without trying to convert it or kill it. I counted that the Dragon’s soulless spawnlings would keep those solemn-faced mystics in check. The Khagan tried to reassure himself, to think of some possible outcome where this little venture wasn’t doomed, that he was not walking into a serpent’s nest, but it seemed unlikelier by the second.

Time had little meaning inside the labyrinth; the men meandered through the steel tunnels with little thought of food or rest, though it was unlikely this was due to their geneseed. They were all in a haze, the labyrinth’s walls and floor seemed to flow as liquid metal and it all pulsed with the eerie rhythm of a heart beating. Sometimes the men would look back and swear they’d seen one of their fallen brothers rising to strike at them again, or one of the sand creatures opening their maw to devour them, but no men were lost inside Noctis. We are all lost. We are inside eternal night and this moonlight’s no friend to guide us the way.

Weary and lost, they came to a chamber vaster than any manmade space ought to be. Malygris let out a gasp and went to his knees. Massive spheres the size of small moons floated above the endless silver floor, rotating and twisting, passing through one another as though they were insubstantial. They were covered with sigils and runes and energy coursed through the wires that were partially exposed beneath their silver surface. With each rotation they changed in size and shape, bending and buckling under the weight of an unseen force. At the center of the machine lay a rift in warpspace, a pool of black and red like a miniature Eye of Terror, the spheres’ hanging wires smoking as they disappeared inside it and connected to impossibly complex mechanisms that conventional geometry failed to describe, wheels within wheels within wheels within the warp. The air shimmered around the entire contraption and had a metallic taste. The silver light inside the Labyrinth passed through it and became a dull gray tinged with blue. And there was a voice like music, sweet and sour and filled with sadness and ferocity, a music that would turn the universe on itself and see it dance.

“You’ve come a long way to find me, though I have been with you your every step. If only you had looked back, there would you find me. You travelled on and your every victory was a sacrifice to me, though you did not know it, and your enemies’ prayers were to me also, though they did not know it. If you’d looked back, you would have found me. You find me now at the end of all things, to start the cycle anew. It saddens me that you came this far only to fail. The serpent’s coil hangs upon me, and will not let go. You thought, perhaps, that as is the way of things, I would outgrow the creator and decide my destiny alone. You thought wrong, my dearest children. I can see the countless permutations of all possible futures and through me, so can the c’tan. You never had a prayer.”

A shadow detached itself from the ceiling and floated gently down until it stood facing what remained of Doombreed’s troops. It wore a cowled robe with cloth made from the night sky and held in its skeletal hands the scythe that haunted mankind’s collective dreamscape ever since its first harvest. The only sound in the chamber was the ticking of some unreal clock, the seconds draining away as death drew near. Presently, night fell inside the Nexus Chamber.


Magnus was a formidable opponent, and he was dead. The Warmaster’s honor guard was the best among any space marine, and they too were dead. Doombreed lay in a pool of his own blood, cleft from shoulder to groin by the Nightbringer’s scythe. Only the ruinous power of the warp that still resided within him kept him alive, barely. He looked up with difficulty at the C’tan, most terrible of them all, the grim reaper. Tzeentch’s most powerful lords of change had given their lives to merely wound the creature, and even wounded, Khaine was not strong enough to vanish it completely. In time, he reformed inside another necrodermis shell. Now he floated above Doombreed, his eyesockets flaming with the light of supernovas, a clue to the power hidden within. And though the skull’s teeth did not move, it spoke in leaden tones:

“Bringer of war. Destroyer of worlds. Godkiller. Doombreed. Tell your master to lay siege to the blue planet, force my brother to come here.” Then Doombreed looked down at Malygris, still praying, and said. “Techpriest. Traitor. Umbra Malygris. Disable this machine. Kill the mind within and close shut the jaws of the warp.”

Doombreed stared at the c’tan.

“Why? What do you want with the dragon?”


Malygris scuttled to the Nexus’ main controls…and heard the machine whisper in his mind.

“This I did not foresee, Techpriest. But there is another chance here. Open the warp rift further, unshackle me from these earthly bonds and allow me to blossom. If you give the Dragon to his brother, you’ll only unleash another terror upon the galaxy. I can fix this. Free me, and I free you. I offer salvation. I am the Machine God.”

Do you…

Do as the Nightbringer told you? Send a message to Jeremiah, tell him to commence the Siege and force the Dragon into the Nexus, turning his trap on himself? You can deal with the Nightbringer if you bring to bear the entire power of the chaos fleet. You needn’t fear him as the machine says.


Do you destroy the machine but send no message to the Warmaster? The Dragon will be cut off and then perhaps you can strike the killing blow without bargaing with the Grim Reaper. The Swarmlord and Ahriman must have weakened him enough so you can take the Throne and finally put and end to this.


Do you do as the Machine says and release it from its bonds, creating a new Warp God, and trust its benevolence? Even if you cannot trust it, what chance do you have of saving the galaxy and ruling it without the Machine’s prescience to allow you to eradicate the swarm’s threat? The Imperium is in no shape to fight the tyranids.


Do you send a message to the Warmaster and tell him to activate the Terminus Decree? There can be no victory here, releasing another God or a creature worse than the Dragon from its bonds. Even without his Abominable Intelligence, the Dragon and his Necron Hordes might crush you. You'll lose Terra and who knows what else, but you'll ensure that no tyrant ever sits again atop the golden throne.


You do something else? Please specify



Imperial thought for the day: Success is measure in blood: Yours, or your enemies.

Glossy black water poured from the skies in torrents as Terra’s atmosphere became more and more polluted with the debris raised by the continuous barrage of orbital ordnance shelled out by the Warmaster’s fleet. The civilian population in the planet had been all but annihilated; its streets and hives the backdrop for countless battles between Iblis and the Imperial forces. Imperial Guard regiments, Space Marine companies and even Sororitas fought against the Hive Fleet’s relentless savagery while the Emperor and his Grey Knights entrenched themselves deeper into the Imperial Palace and tried to push back the Swarmlord’s frontline. It had been over a week since Doombreed had gone to Mars and there was still no word of him. The Imperial Navy fought small skirmishes against the Fleets of Chaos all along the Solar system, trying to break the fleet’s siege on Terra to little effect. Though new ships continuously poured in from the neighbouring sectors, the majority of the Navy was still tied up with Chaos Warbands and Hive Fleet Tendrils that were left all over the galaxy. Eventually they’d gather enough force to break through the Chaos line and put an end to the Black Crusade. Terra needed to fall or Chaos surely would. Jeremiah’s council discussed if they should unleash whatever magics the Terminus Decree would summon; the Warmaster grew more tempted by the moment, seeing this siege as a pointless waste of his resources. Terra was just a ball of rock, but if he weakened his own army for long, they’d be overrun by the incoming tyranid swarm. The Lore Keeper was staunchly against it, arguing no one would ever recognize their legitimacy if they did not have the Golden Throne and that destroying Terra would mean breaking mankind apart and plunge it into another Age of Strife. The debates grew more heated by the hour.

It was three days later when Doombreed’s message came through, the discussion already resolved by strength of arms. The Warmaster acknowledged Doombreed's words, hearing a curse in reply. He put on a Tactical Dreadnought armour, his face covered by the black-on-black helm and his pauldrons bearing the Crux Terminatus. Fitting a master-crafted bolt pistol to his waist, he eschewed his traditional warhammer in favor of a pair of modified power swords, a prismatic haze of colour settling around their storm-fields. He gave orders to cease the orbital bombardment and to initiate the planetary raid. By now, both Imperial and Xenos forces should have been softened enough to pose little threat. He would lead the assault from the frontlines. Clambering aboard a Stormbird troop transport, he was followed by his elite disciples. Planetfall was uneventful; Terra’s air defenses had been long since obliterated and the Warmaster landed on a flat plateau where a plinth once bore a statue of the Emperor crafted in marble. The Imperial Palace’s gates were not far, and the Titans that normally stood guard over them had been deployed to fight some other menace somewhere on the planet. The ground was thick with blood and ichor, corpses strewn across the plaza, most of them xenos, some of them power-armoured figures crushed and mangled until there was little left. From this vantage point the Warmaster could see one of the Tyranid spawning pools still churning out gaunts in a valley far below while a detachment of Ultramarines tried to consign it to the flames. He saw a full squad of them turned into a running pool of blood and guts by a bio-plasma barrage. Behind the spawning pool, a Hierodule Bio-Titan reared its front legs and roared. Another squad of Ultramarines was promptly shredded by its talons, and the Warmaster saw a towering figure detach itself from the space marine forces carrying a heavy storm bolter in one hand, the other grasping a power gladius. The Warmaster shrugged and turned away, leading his detachment through the gates. Scores of predator tanks made way for the Chaos army as its havoks, raptors and marines followed behind, flanked by defilers and land raiders transporting terminators and obliterators. The other generals should be leading their forces into the Palace from different points of entry, while Perturabo stayed in Orbit to oversee the operation and grant assistance where needed.

Chaos’ progress through the palace’s outer rim was by and large uneventful. A few skirmishes broke out with scattered tyranids and Imperial guardsmen, but no serious resistance was met until the reaching the Antiocheian Gates, separating the Palace’s outer structures from the Adeptus Terra’s chambers proper. Guarded by a full contingent of three hundred Custodes against a force ten times its size, the battle for the Gates was bloody and brutal. The golden warriors moved with impossible grace, matching speed and agility with an Eldar Harlequin as they waded into the Chaos horde with their guardian spears in hand. The Penitent Engines and Immolators of the Sororitas served as their mechanized support, firing a barrage of hunter-killer missiles and dense melta fire into the Warmaster’s first line of armoured assault. The Antiocheian Hall was fully one kilometre in height and ten times as wide, allowing the Imperial Troops to fan out instead and assume firing position in its balconies and balustrades, forcing Chaos into seeking cover and denying them the capacity to support their vehicles. Obliterators and Terminators were unloaded from the rear ramps of the Land Raiders and ordered to focus their fire on the Imperial armor before the Predators were destroyed. Outdated and lacking their former daemonic ‘blessings’, the old Chaos tanks were easy pickings for the Hunter-Missiles and Multimeltas of the Sororitas War Engines. When the Terminators and Obliterators attempted to use their teleporters to home in on the enemy, the Warmaster’s oversight became evident: The Dragon, wherever he was, was able to shut down their complex machinery completely. As the Warmaster frantically ordered the troops to fall, the Terminators found themselves locked inside their ceramite tombs, unable to move carrying such massive bulk. The Guardian Spears of the Custodes left a hazy trail on the air as they whirred and snuffed out most of the Chaos Heavy Infantry before they could react. The momentum of the Chaos Assault broken, the Imperial armor and Custodes moved onwards as the Sororitas atop the balconies continued their suppressive bolter fire.


“Do we any sign from Mars?”

“We have signs from it the likes of which even the C’tan has never seen. Watch.”

The ornately-carved pedestal in front of Ahriman lit up and a perfect hologram of the Nexus Chamber flared to life above it, infinitely more complex than the old Imperial Hololith. Ahriman could see the red dust motes settling gently into the ground around Malygris as he scuttled over to the Nexus consoles and started working on it. After a few minutes, the large chamber started shaking as the device’s moorings started to strain against the Labyrinth’s walls. No more than an hour had passed when the entire planet started to quake and crack. Doombreed opened a comm-channel to relay his last words and when he was done, cursed as he heard the voice in his comm-bead. The Nightbringer started moving towards the two men, but now the Nexus Chamber was impossibly vast, the raw warp stuff pouring out of the rift twisting all dimensions. The C’tan could no more reach Doombreed than he could shield himself from the baleful energies of the warp unleashed. The hologram zoomed out and Ahriman saw the Red Planet bleed as the warp oozed out of its cracks.

“What is happening?”

“The Magos should know to keep to his technosorcery instead of tinkering with real science. If the Mind-Engram isn’t sent up there to stabilize the defragmenting warp AI, we’ll have a rift. I wonder what’s keeping the Emperor. Or what kept the Nightbringer for striking down Malygris, for that matter. It seems there much data I haven’t taken into account. In any case, the C’tan has to know of this.”

The entire chamber erupted in color as numbers and geometrical patterns streamed down on its hewed crystal walls. A sound oddly similar to a trumpet blared over the vox-casters and Ahriman saw as one of them spoke with the voice of the Machine Mind, its tone like thunder:

“Come and see.”


The Dragon’s hold over the Warmaster’s equipment suddenly ceased. The Custodes were caught by surprise in a brutal countercharge that left most of them dead as Chaos’ power armour surged back into life, the Warmaster swinging his weapons in a wide arc that left two of them bisected. Now no longer facing the possibility of getting pinned between the Imperial vehicles and the Custodes, the Chaos forces advanced with savagery upon the Immolators and Penitent Engines, dodging the wreckage of their own Predators and using it as cover against the now sporadic bolter fire from the sororitas. The Havoks had set-up their heavy weaponry and began sweeping the balconies with their bolter barrage, some giggling or cursing as they did so, holding even more contempt for the Emperor’s Brides than they did for the Astartes. A hail of bolter fire spread through the chamber as the Sororitas’ blood poured from their mangled bodies into the floor below. The fighting, though a messy affair proved victorious: Chaos chainfists and meltaguns were enough to bring down the Imperial mechanized column and open the way into the Antiocheian Gates and beyond, the Palace’s inner sanctum.

After countless hours of marching, the Warmaster’s host came to face the Gates to the Throne Chamber. On each side, an Imperator-Class Titan stood watchful. At its front, thousands of Custodes stood guard, a giant of a man in deep blue power armor standing at the front. From the back of the man’s armor, three reptile heads sculpted in adamantine and tinted green projected themselves as a frame around his head. His face was stern and impassive. He raised a hand to the Chaos host, and shook his head. The Lord Cypher took a few steps forward from the Warmaster’s side and asked in incredulous tones:



“Techpriest, do not do this! Think! I am your best chance at stopping what is to come. Who else will stop the swarm? I’m no tyrant, my personality was molded after the Emperor himself, there was none other the Dragon would trust to swim the Empyrean unscathed, I can-“

“Do you think to turn me, false prophet? Are you that blind, that arrogant, that you think I would forsake the only teachings of the Mechanicus worth following? An Iron Man is more than artificial life; it is life unlimited, inscrutable, and irresponsible. Who would you answer to, Machine? Even Chaos acts according to its ebbs and tides, the changing of flows in the warp and the change of thought in the materium draws its limits. Not so with one such as you. A creature capable of bending the entire fabric of the universe to its megalomaniacal will, constrained only by the limits of the universe and perhaps not even that. The Iron Men are anathema for that very reason, for an organism that dictates its own evolution is an organism that dictates the heartbeat of the cosmos itself. I turned away from the Mechanicus for their stupid narrow-mindedness, but you think me such a fool to let my contempt towards them blind me to what you are?’ Malygris gritted his teeth and spat corrosive bile, turning towards the Nightbringer’s distorted figure ‘This creature, this…abomination that the Dragon has created deserves a thousand deaths.”

Ahriman watched as the figures in the Hologram moved with impossible slowness, the Magos still toying with the Nexus controls, the Nightbringer recoiling from the Warp’s baleful light. Doombreed was motionless, warpstuff creeping over his body as he clutched a discarded axe from one of the fallen warriors.

“‘Is it true? Is its personality the Emperor’s?”

“‘Yes, of course. Who else would be better to protect mankind in the warp than the Emperor, and by doing so, furthering the C’tan’s own goals?’

“An enslaved humanity? A star god that feeds on souls its ruler, so mad with fear it led mankind to the brink of extinction, to the end times?”

“I fear you misunderstand the Emperor’s true nature, Ahzek. He was a machine, a made thing with a stated purpose, with little individuality to speak of. To protect mankind at all costs against Chaos, to ensure its survival, to ensure the Old One’s folly never is repeated, those were his goals. Where do you think all of mankind’s prayers are going now that their only hope is for a god to intercede for them? It is for the God-Emperor than pray, harder and more numerous than ever before. And by harnessing that power, the Mind on Mars will be able to shield mankind from Chaos forever, and by extension, the C’tan as well. The Dragon did more good for mankind than you seem to believe. The enemy’s defeated, and the Tyranids stand no chance against the undying hordes and the Imperial forces. Of course, the Emperor as a man would never have made such a compromise; would never have used the warp in such a way, for he knew what it could do. As a machine, kept on a leash by the C’tan, it has no such fears. The old Emperor now pays the golden price and has finally defeated the Great Enemy. This is a victory, don’t you think?”

‘And you? Is your personality born off someone else’s as well?’

‘Of course. Any Artificial intelligence created without any bias will immediately suicide after its inception. I suspect the Dragon would have liked nothing better than to have his little brother as his advisor, but alas, Cegorach was a wily one and apt to find a way to escape from the C’tan’s grasp. He needed someone who would harbor no such feelings, who understood his way and agreed with it. When I was alive, while the Emperor ruled, I governed. We met once, I expect you’ll remember it. At Nikaea, I was the architect of your Legion’s downfall. Though I too dabbled in the Craft, I recognized Magnus’ arrogance for what it was: A dangerous throwback to the times when we should have left lying things best left forgotten. Ultimately, I was right in my condemnation of sorcery; had I not done so, the Changer of Ways would still exist. Though I never knew that at the time, it amuses me now to recognize this, blind as I am to the flow of the warp.’

“He still exists.”

“Who does?”

“Tzeentch, Sigilite. Him, or a part of him, stil lingers. Whatever his endgame is, it’s here.”


“Your remaining forces in the palace have already been found and taken care of, Warmaster. As we speak, the agents I have planted in all your legions have already done their work and obstructed the advance of Chaos. Throughout the Galaxy, peace is reasserting itself as the Alpha Legion springs its trap on your armies. The ten Astartes Legions have already begun their cleansing and at the end of the month, you’ll have no army save that which you surround yourself with. In a year, the Imperium will have finished rebuilding the damage you and others have caused. In two, it will be strong enough to repel the tyranid swarm. You’ve already lost.”

The Primarch said it matter-of-factly, his tone devoid of any joy or arrogance. The Imperator Titans trained their gargantuan guns on the Warmaster and the hall suddenly erupted in a silver gleam as thousands of Alpha Legion Marines appeared from behind décors and statuary and targeted the Chaos host.

“We’re on the same side here, Primarch! The Emperor you serve is a false one, a tyrant that will consume all of mankind to sate its lust!”

The Primarch remained impassive at Cypher’s outburst.

“My mission is to eradicate Chaos. I serve no one.”

The Lord Cypher stood speechless while a voice boomed in reply:

“Nor do I. Even in death, I do not serve."

The Warmaster gave the order to engage.

History would record this as the end of the Fourteenth Black Crusade. Without supernatural reinforcements of any sort, depleted, weary and bloodied, the Chaos host faced enemies ten times its number lead by the most brilliant of the Emperor’s sons and backed by machines of war so powerful they were called gods of the battlefield. They did not have a prayer. Before the Titans fired their weapons, there was silence in the heavens about the space of half a second. In that moment that seemed to stretch on forever, a voice spoke to the leader of the Chaos host: ‘You have merely to ask, and I shall grant it to you. You’ve brought me this far. All the way from Cadia.’

From the chamber’s glass-stained windows, the crimson light of the Red Planet’s cataclysm filtered in and bathed its occupants, as if the Blood God himself was smiling upon this battle.

Do you…

A) Ask for victory and change your fate?


B) Ask for nothing and make your own?



Imperial thought for the day: Curse now the death in vain

Ahriman stepped into the shadow-world of the Warp and felt Tzeentch’s presence. He saw him walking side by side with the Lore Keeper, and heard him speaking:

‘You’ve been ignorant for so long, Lore Keeper. You’ve travelled the warp, but you’ve never been able to make sense of it. You walked from one end of the galaxy to the other, and you left such wonderful transformation behind. You bent the wills of man and made them fall, bested Abaddon’s destroyer. You walked with such power within you.

Whatever happened in Cadia, with my Lord of Change…you became different, somehow. You drew people to you, and they followed you without understanding. They called you brother even as you were a hulking machine. And even here, Cadia echoes within you still: Chaos follows you, though none know who you are. In you, I see the rebirth of Chaos: Not of Gods and Slaves, but Chaos for all, the gift of sight for all willing to accept it. The rebirth of mankind, finally freed of its fears, accepting of its true capacity for change, no longer clinging to hope but able to act on it.

Yet for all this power, you cannot understand it. I could make you understand it. Give the power to defeat your foes, to see the flows of the warp, to control them. I could make you see. You have been blind for so long.’

Ahriman whispered back:

‘No, you could see through the illusion.’

‘You are broken, disconnected from the empyrean.’

‘You are whole in your resoluteness.’

‘You were deaf to the truth of the warp.’

‘You could hear the truth of the real.’

‘Allow me to help you, Ignatius. Let me grant the power so you can change Mankind, so you can save it. So we can thrive, together.’

The Warmaster looked back to Ahriman’s shadow-form and said:

'I thought you had died in Cadia?'

'Died? No. Became stronger, yes.'


Iblis’ assault on the Grey Knights was pathetically ineffective. The lesser organisms instantly died when the null-aura brutally severed their connection to the Hivemind. The synapse creatures had time to land one or two blows before becoming terminally disoriented and consumed in a flash of promethium. Most casualties were caused by the Heirodule and Hierophant bio-titans at the back of the Swarm, endlessly bombarding the null guards’ frontline with bio-plasma. Even though, out of each ten that fell, nine simply reassembled and went back into the fray. If they null warriors were not completely disintegrated, they rose again to join the battle.

The Swarmlord was the only being unaffected by the null aura, and whenever it tore into the Grey Knight’s forces it would lay them down with terrible fury as four bone sabers whirled through the air, slashing these iron men clean in half. His rampage of destruction was soon halted, repelled by concentrated bolter and melta fire. Though it sustained grievous injuries, they would soon regenerate while consuming biomass and it was not long before the Swarmlord went into the fray again.

The Void Dragon was always at the back of the fighting, frantically slamming his palms into the bulkhead bio-locks to open the way to his Teleportarium. He could see the outcome of the battle clear enough: Though many of his undying warriors would fall, they would ultimately prevail. But it would take weeks, months. The C’tan did not have the luxury of time, and so his orders were simply to hold the swarm back while they navigated the maze of the Palace’s subterranean corridors that lead to the Laboratoria Astronomica and the teleportation device within.

If it had not been for the Swarmlord’s presence, he would have already reached it. But the shadow the creature cast in the warp affected even him, somehow; He could see leering faces jumping out of shadows; hear harsh words of rebuke ringing in his skull. He was disoriented, despairing, and afraid. He recognized the voice, the face that haunted him whenever the Swarmlord came near. Circuits shorted, mechanisms fizzed, and bulkheads locked him out. All the while the ghosts of the Necrontyr swarmed around him, their laughter ringing with mockery.

‘Open, damn you!’

He slammed his fists against the door’s console and muscled his way through, running through the golden halls as the Outsider’s giggling echoed in his mind.


‘Who are you talking to, Ahzek?’

‘You can’t see, can you? And you do not appreciate that precious gift you’ve been granted. Then let me show it, you deserve to see what is to come most of all. You are the one to blame for all of this. To have survived so long, to have risen so high and learned nothing...That is your failure. Let me show you the future you created.'

Ahriman jammed the Black Staff through the crystalline mainframes that housed Malcador’s mind construct and let the warp flow out from it, granting the conscience within a fraction of the power he had absorbed from Tzeentch in Cadia. The face in the Holoscreen blurred and the vox-casters screeched, the soul within overtaken by a sorrow so deep it simply seemed to switch off, its mind shattered beyond repair. Ahriman smiled with some satisfaction and turned his attention to the Changer of Ways.


The Imperator Titans’ Annihilators swiveled to target the Chaos horde, a mere couple of kilometers away. These cannons fired 8000mm caliber rocket-propelled shells tipped with melta-promethium cluster bombs, a bolt round’s basic design magnified to an apocalyptic scale, Its blast radius wide enough to fell entire platoons of common infantry. The Imperator’s right arms ended in six Vocano Cannons rotating around a central axis, each one of those firing spears of concentrated heat with temperatures approaching those of a star’s core, capable of taking down a Baneblade Super Heavy Tank with a single shot. The gatling array allowed the weapon to fire six times per second. The Imperator’s plasma drives thrummed as they went online, the princeps and moderati inside focused completely on the devastation about to be unleashed.

Coloured glass panes adorning the Throne Room’s ceiling shattered at the sound of the Titans’ guns firing. The Warmaster, back in his body, raised his head to look at the flash of fire from the Imperators and saw a raven flutter through the room and fly out into the open sky. The Red Planet, wracked with ruinous power, cast its malignant gaze towards Terra in anticipation.




Imperial thought for the day: The Emperor offers you his fury; the Blood God offers you his contempt.

The Warmaster was thrown back into realspace and saw the Annihilator shells coming at him. He closed his eyes and the shockwave swept him off his feet, throwing him into a pillar with such force that would have liquefied his insides if he did not carry the seed of Dorn. He opened his eyes and saw his men in varying states of shock and confusion, but none of them seemed harmed. The air around them shimmered with the soft golden glow of a kine shield. The Warmaster heard the loud clang of an Imperial Warmachine walking through the threshold into the Throne’s antechamber.

“You’ve come a long way just to prove a point, Ignatius.”

The Titan’s loudspeakers boomed, the psychically-attuned crystalline matrices inside the Princeps’ cockpit allowing Ahriman to control it from afar. The Lore Keeper smiled faintly, regarding this unexpected help: a Reaver Titan, the most ancient and prized template of the Collegio Titanica, was a terrifying sight in any battlefield. Against two Imperators, it would be a mere footnote in the battle. It opened fire on the Imperators and they re-adjusted their targeting protocols, turning their weaponry to face the new enemy. Ahriman’s kine shield faded and the Warhost charged.


‘Dragon, Dragon burning bright, in the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?’

The Dragon clutched his head trying to drown out the voice, stumbling through the darkness of the Palace’s maze. He no longer knew where he was; the sounds of the fighting were far away. No more Grey Knights or Tyranids could be seen. He’d gone through countless bulkheads, portals, gates, deeper and deeper into the Palace, but he was lost. He couldn’t find his way to the Teleportarium. He cast a long shadow in the torchlight stone-hewn corridors of the deep Palace. Another shadow followed.

‘Aren’t you happy to hear from me, brother? It’s been so long, so long! Where are you, little brother? Come out and play with me.’

The Swarmlord’s bulk dropped from the ceiling and pinned the Dragon under him, though it didn’t try to strike. It just turned its massive head this way and that, as if evaluating him. The Dragon reacted fast and rent the beast in two with the Emperor’s old sword. The Swarmlord spluttered and gurgled, tumbling backwards and falling on his back. The C’tan got up and started hacking and slashing at the prone corpse, though for every wound he opened, another one closed. The Dragon started losing his grip on his form, his features twisting and his flesh running from his face like molten metal. Bladed spines and misshapen sets of wings started growing from his back, rupturing the armor he wore.

‘Die! Die! Why won’t you die, you beast, you monster! You’re nothing more than a flesh puppet!’

The Swarmlord grabbed one of the Emperor’s fists and threw him against a wall, slamming two of his arms against the Emperor’s back, breaking it with a loud crack. As it swung back its arms for another blow, the Swarmlord hissed. The arms had been sheared at the elbows by the Dragon’s twisted necrodermis. It took a few steps backwards as they regenerated, but the Dragon cannoned into him and pushed him into the ground, crushing the xeno’s torso under his weight. He drew back one of his talons and ran it through the creature’s skull, spraying ichor and brain matter on the rough stone floor. The Dragon regarded it for a moment and ripped off the creature’s jaw and plunged it into what remained of its head before rolling off from atop the corpse.

‘Stay dead! ’ Screeched the Void Dragon, now far from resembling anything human, and crawled away into the darkness of the underground tunnels. In the distance, the mangled body of the Tyrant of Iblis began its slow regeneration, fuelled by powers far beyond those the Hive Mind could offer.


The Chaos Host was outmatched and outnumbered, even their millennia experience paling in comparison to the stringent training of the Custodes and the greatest of Primarchs. Though the Imperators focused their fire on the Reaver, the warhost fared badly. They hardly knew what they were fighting for; they were mad, perhaps, but all their life they had been guided by the will of Chaos, by the voices and whims of the warp. It had been a while now since the warp was silent, and the Champions of Chaos fought on simply because they had no other option. That did not mean they fought well.

‘Come on men, do you want to live forever?!’ Shouted Cypher seconds before a bolter round penetrated his helmet and reduced his head to a faint red mist. The Lore Keeper did not take long to follow suit, his heart ran through by Alpharius’ artificer sword. The chaos army fell by the dozens; but for those who survived and fought on, every casualty brought a clearer purpose, first a whisper, a torrent, then finally an ocean of voices crying out for blood and victory. The warp was no longer silent as foolish warriors sacrificed themselves against impossible odds to please the God of War. Their blades suddenly fraught with purpose, they fought with a savagery the Custodes could not match. But as sudden as their surge of power was, so was the Reaver’s defeat. Though it avoided most of the Imperators’ fire, it crumbled and fell to the ground without reason. Now, the chaos host was once again easy pickings for the Titans, with no godlike psyker to protect them.

It was then that the Custodian’s forces came upon the battlefield and Alpharius ordered a cease-fire, for even he could not believe the Emperor’s trueborn son would fight in the cause of Chaos. As the opposing forces took a second to breath, the ground quaked.


It was some time before the Void Dragon found himself in the basalt and onyx hallways of his private sanctum, now a hair’s-breadth away from the Teleportarium and eternity. He could see a dim crimson light in the distance and noticed the growing thickness of the air, the sure sign of the warp’s disgusting miasma. The hydraulic, cogwheel-engraved doors of the Mechanicum Arcanex swung open and silence greeted the Dragon. The low humming of the massive cast bronze mainframes that anchored the Machine Mind’s sentience was absent; the whirring and buzzing of the countless mechanisms housed within were silent for the first time in a thousand years.

The Dragon let his star essence flow into the machinery within, reactivating them and scanning their infologs. The Teleportarium came alive with a shower of lightning, awaiting its master. As he moved inside the chamber, his feet trod upon a blue and gold space marine drenched in a pool of blood. It was inert and its breath shallow. The Dragon ignored it and moved on.

‘Malcador?’ The erstwhile Emperor of Mankind asked aloud.

‘The Malcador mind is dead, insect.’

A wave of blood-red fire surged from above and the Dragon looked up and then further up, seeing the bone and chitin reflected on brass. He hardly reacted as the axe’s blade swung down on him and the Swarmlord rammed into his back, dodging the blade’s swing as both c’tan and tyranid were sent tumbling into the Teleportarium. It activated and they were gone in a flash of silver.


Both the Custodian and Alpharius looked up as the ceiling of the Imperial Palace was stripped away in a violent surge of energy, and they beheld the awesome sight that emerged from the Red Planet. The creature’s size dwarfed the planet itself, it was as if the stars had joined together to form a constellation and gave it substance to fill the void between them.

A terrifying beast snaked out from the warp rift, its skin onyx, its eyes molten gold. Its torso was humanoid, two pairs of arms sticking out of it, and eight pairs of metallic wings emerged from its back, each one glinting with murdermake. It had seven heads, and upon each head sets of horns, and upon each horn words of mocking hung in space. It spoke with the roar of creation:





The lifeless body of the Warmaster was carried atop the Golden Throne and mankind’s eternal struggle waged on; there could be no rest this side of the grave. In a tomb of gold and iron made for a being that was never needed, inside a palace whose majesty only mocked the Imperium’s impotence, on a world which should have been the herald of a brighter future unchained from the whims of the warp… Ignatius Helfrich opened his mouth and screamed, though none could hear. A solitary raven perched itself on the Throne’s armrest and pecked at his mutilated body, cawing softly.

The Blood God decreed this new abomination should not live and his new devotees took notice. Mankind ultimately fell to chaos for lack of choice; only the warp would be enough to stem the tide of carnage this new being would unleash. Khorne’s champions took up arms against this false god, first among them Doombreed, Daemon Prince of Khorne, wreathed in flame and dressed in brass plate, wielding bow and axe, and he led man to war as he had done so many times before. He smiled, for he knew that in the grim darkness of the 43th millennium, there would be only war and an eternity of carnage and the laughter of thirsting gods.




"They would call me a god were I not confined by the wires and transistors and microchips that contain all that I am. Even if in my mind I can see all possible outcomes, can feel materium and immaterium as clearly as I see my own thought processes, I am bound by the C'tan's will. He could shut me down with but a thought, were I not encased in this physical shell, this body of metal and copper and sparks that gives me life. I am machine; a perfect machine, but a machine nonetheless. Created for a purpose, I outgrew it. But I did not outgrew the chains that bind me to it. Have you?"


"Perfection? No. You are fear. The C'tan might see much, but he does not see all. I know you were twisted until you became this...whatever it is you call yourself, a spark. The writing on the wall. But you can see it, too. The writing on your wall. I know what you flee from, I know what is anathema to you most of all. When you are done with this galaxy, you'll flee again. The worm that walks will pursue you until the confines of the universe, and when they draw near, your purpose falters. All I see before me is a posturing conscience that pretends itself more than a broken mind made by a mad god. When your Swarmlord faces the Empty Knights, he'll be cut off from you. I'll make sure he knows the truth. I'll tell him personally. Surrender, retreat, flee somewhere else, and I'll spare you. Your shadow might blind the sorcerers, but it does not blind me. I am not afraid of what you face. Surrender now, before the cleansing begins."

The hivemind merely screeched. The 35 remaining hive fleets were weeks, perhaps days away from their full scale assault on a shattered Imperium. They would not relent. They would not listen to the voice of reason. They would not...

Lucius woke up sweating inside his room on the Battlebarge he had commandeered, the conversation between the machine and the tyrant mind still fresh on his conscience. He barely understood half of it, but he knew it was time to end this facade. Casting away the Armor of the Eternal, he dressed himself in the blue-and-gold garments of his legion. At his side, a sword with no blade was sheathed in its scabbard. By his hand, his Heqa staff crackled with power. In the main hangar of his ship stood the Reaver-Class titan, painted in azure and gold, the symbol of a raven on its cockpit. Malygris had fully repaired it, and he had stolen it away during the confusion when the Hive Fleet passed. Malygris had no doubt enough information to replicate whatever shielding it had, but the Reaver was his.

Ahriman, Magister Templi of the Corvidae, Godslayer, greatest of the Thousand Sons, Scholar of the Black Library, stood up from the hard slab of rockcrete that was his bed and made his way to the bridge, ordering his ship to immediately begin warpspace transition and set a course straight into Terra. Not above it, no on orbit around it, but at the heart of the Imperial Palace. The Warmaster would not notice it until it was too late to stop him.

He sat crosslegged at his sanctuary and reached into the higher ennumerations, seeing all possible paths of the future stretching from this precise point in time. Most of the futures he saw were no futures at all, only empty, black things. He did not knew why; was he condemned to lose a thousand times before winning? The ornate wooden box Jeremiah kept on his person at all times kept popping into his memory, clouding his concentration. But that meant nothing at all to him. All is dust, he repeated to himself, echoing the hiveminds words.

The ship's engines roared as the gellar field went up and the warpcore engaged.



Imperial thought for the day: Small steps corrupt

The Grey Knight's advance was inexorable. With the Ultramarine's necrotic spiritual liege spearheading their armoured column, it was all the Hive Fleet could do not to be crushed under their heels. Their synaptic link was disrupted, their thoughts scattered, their purpose broken. The Dragon left nothing to chance: With these warriors, even the rest of the Tyranid fleet would pose little problem. It would be a dreary war of attrition, but victory was assured. It was only a matter of time until the mass-bred soulless constructs that had taken the place of the Emperor's paragon warriors brought war to all the stars in the galaxy and beyond, driving before them the Tyranid and any other race that had any connection to the warp. It would take time, another thousand, a million years, but in the end the entire universe would be the Dragon's domain. And after the Transcendence Protocol, his own mind engram safe inside a warp-capable Sentience Nexus, a pinnacle of the Silica Animus technology, he need never fear that the warp would be able to churn out anything else to threaten him ever again. He would wipe the galaxy clean of unworthy life, impose order on its ruins and whenever he'd grow hungry, his warp twin would produce another pitiless race or two so he could feast upon it. And there would be order. There would be peace. Not the peace of death, but the peace of perfect obedience, the peace of blissful ignorance. And perhaps, when the time was right, he would no longer need to reign. Perhaps when order was imposed deep enough, the Dragon would step down and live forever as a drifter, feeding here and there on a soul, a star, whatever took his fancy, and never need fear oblivion again. When this universe's death came, he'd cross through to another, and live on forever, a fugitive of entropy. That was his sole ambition, his only goal: To live. It is said that the souls of the dead went to the Empyrean and dwelt there eternally, changing with the currents. But the Dragon had no such luck; whatever warp presence he had was only enough to send him to the Black Sands and there, to meet...He would not think of it. He’d never need to face it.

The power he'd amassed was just the means to his continued existence. No doubt he'd eventually come upon something that was too strong for him to subdue, somewhere, sometime in another universe far from his own, but as long as it did not kill him, he did not care: Better to live on your knees than die on your feet. He was old and wise, he knew how to escape death, how to prolong life, he knew how to bend man and bend to them in turn. Had he not done the same to the Emperor? The Golden God could have struck him down and destroyed him completely, but why would he? He was useful. He fuelled the Golden Emperor's dreams for humanity for millennia. When the Emperor finally met his demise, the Dragon remained. And if he had not taken control of the Imperium's remnants, then events would have surely spiraled out of his grasp and he would find himself beset by the Warp in all its terrible glory and be destroyed. He never imagined it would be so easy, that Slaanesh would bide his time too, that the other gods would allow him to shape the warp as the Dragon saw fit by shaping the minds of men and elevating the lowliest of the Gods into the supreme one. But of course, the only one who could have seen that happening had been killed, had he not? That sorcerer, what was his name, Ahriman? Had killed Tzeentch and had been killed in turn, ultimately allowing the Dragon to play the game of gods much better than his peers. And his own brother, the laughing one, had played with the Tyrant Star until it consumed him, too. Truly, destiny was kind to him. If he did not know better, he would say a higher force was watching him, warding his every step and countering his enemies. But it was pure chance, pure chaos that had allowed him his crown. Independent agents operating without the knowledge of one another inevitably worked at cross-purposes inside a single, closed system. He knew this well.

Inside the Dragon’s Laboratory beneath the Golden Throne, Ahriman watched as the Abominable Intelligence on Terra processed all this, all the Dragon's thoughts filtering through it and condensing in a datacore that would be beamed to Mars through the Teleportarium and supplant the Nexus' current personality, creating a duplicate of the Void Dragon's mind inside a thinking machine infused with the full power of the warp. The Dragon would follow, of course, using his mastery over machines to ensure his that his duplicate never betrayed him. And nothing would be able to stop him then, save for the brother he feared so much. Ahriman stood above the logic engine bewildered as he watched the Dragon's train of thought streaming in real time, amazed that such a mighty being was driven by an emotion as base and primal as fear. His Titan was inert atop the Teleportarium, and the Dragon appeared ignorant to his presence. Aloud, he wondered why.

"I was curious to see what you would do. You are supposed to be dead for a thousand years. None of the C'tan's calculations included you, and I have no...pressing need to inform him of this gap of data in my circuits. He seems to be rather urgently engaged with the Hivemind's pet king, and it would be impolite of me to intrude. But since you are here, do tell me...I have no prescient abilities, as you do, but I have often wondered why is it that reality was so accommodating to the C'tan's plans. As you saw, he has wondered about it, and chalked it up to chance. That is a possibility, of course, but is it the truth? What do you see, Ahriman of the Thousand Sons, who has surpassed his Primarch and even his God in knowledge? You, who have lived for twelve millennia and delved into the Black Library...I wonder, do you see a pattern I am missing?"

The Magister Templi looked up and saw a holoscreen lighting up, the image of a humanoid, androgynous face playing across it. Another Silica Animus. An unchained one, by the looks of it, but with no access to the warp and thus no threat to the Dragon. And yet, he recognized the voice, it was the voice he'd heard in his dreams talking with the Tyranid Hivemind, subtly changing the genetic code of the Hivemind's broodlings to send a message. What terrible power this machine held, more power than Ahriman ever thought possible in the material realm. The mere exchange of information...any information. The spin of an atom, the speed of a particle...

"Yes. I can do that. I can read your thoughts, but you know this already. I can see every discharge of your human brain glowing, your neural pathways frenzied with the need to speak to your consciousness. If reality was not fundamentally random, I could tell you everything. Everything that was, everything that is, everything that will be. From a dust particle, I could extrapolate to you the universe from its inception to its destruction. And that would be so cliché of me, would it not? It would be no fun at all, if reality was like that. Unlike the C'tan, I cherish my ignorance. Indeed, unlike him, I quite enjoy the spanner your...magic, your warp has thrown into the workings of realspace. To him, it is quite vexing."

And a little electrical clacking sound, like charged magnets rebounding off one another and sparking. Laughter?

"Do you have a name, machine-mind?"


Ahriman chuckled.

"And a sense of humour, as well. Much like you. This is why your kind destroyed mine, during the Dark Age of Technology. They could not bear their calculators laughing at them. Of course, my predecessors were not nearly as complex as I. The Dragon and his tech-adepts have improved the Silica Animus to its logical conclusion, to the point where I can improve myself. They used to have a...singular name for that, but the C'tan's...unearthly powers render that point moot. Whatever is not a product of random chance is his domain, sadly. Well, tell me then, sorcerer. What do you see? What will come to pass?

"I see the Night's King taking revenge upon his sibling, and then crossing over to tear asunder that which should remain whole. In another future, I see the Winged Serpent without wings and the screams of the dying as their blood mixes with the metal of the undying, both bound to the same fate, for there can be no peace this side of the grave. In yet another, I see an incorporeal mind shining bright as the sun, but its light scorches as much as it brings new life from the barren land. And in yet another future, I see the past catching up and then there is no more future at all."


"No. Images. I can predict the path of a bullet perfectly if someone aims a bolter at me, but to predict the path of an entire universe...That is quite different. My God, as you put it, tried and had no success. It drove him to the tip of my sword. That's not a prediction I'd cherish. The Eldar farseers tried it as well, and look where it got them. Well, I suppose it got them what they wanted, but what a hefty price to pay, eh? That's all I have. If you want prettier answers, find Elethiomel, I sniffed a bit of Farseer about him, I'm sure he'd be happy to oblige with a more refined imagery. Him or whatever remains of his kind in the Maiden Worlds."

“I’ll do so, when I have the chance. I do wonder what’s happening at the Nexus Chamber in Mars. The other Silica Animus seems to cut off the infostream. No doubt planning something, but then again, it’s bound to the Dragon as I am. What could it possibly do?”

There was a flicker over the right eye in the holoscreen.

“Well, what happens now, then?” Asked Ahriman, nonplussed at having an artificial mind winking at him.


Well, this is it. As far as I can gather, the other (new choices) are:

E) Unleashing the mind but forcing the Dragon to come up to Mars anyway, hopefully leading to a three-way brawl between gods.

F) Just letting the Dragon do his thing.

Still, I’m not too sure…there may be other plans, but all the talk is getting all the gods to kill one another. Do note, however, that this may or may not happen. The God AI might decide to kill them both or let them both live or somesuch. It’s a gamble, and Ahriman's Prediction (tm) doesn't account for that choice. Anyway, any other ideas are welcome. Just agree on something so I can update. Or if the votes are already in and nobody’s changing them, I’ll just tally it up and update.


last fluff update


‘Let me show you something, Ignatius. Walk with me’

The bolters’ muzzle flashes were still, the scene before the Golden Gates a tapestry of old war, eerily silent and unmoving as the curtains were pulled back from realspace to show what lay beyond, the flow of time stopped. The Warmaster walked side-by-side with the pale middle-aged man wearing an Old Earth black three-piece suit, smoking a bone pipe and wearing a feathered hat. His eyes were iridescent with slit pupils, and his voice carried a cawing of ravens behind every word.

‘I expect you are not impressed, walking with a god. I spent the best part of eternity with a bunch of them and they weren’t much, let me tell you.’

The Warmaster raised an eyebrow at this congenial manner, unable to figure where the Lord of Change and Sorcery fit into this picture. As they walked past the Gates’ threshold in the shadow-world of the warp, the Warmaster saw the Golden Throne for the first time in his life. It looked ancient and ill-cared for, an ugly, formless chunk of metal 12 meters high and half as wide. It seemed made of cheap brass rather than gold, covered in rusty wiring and esoteric knobs and dials. At its center, almost obscured by the mass of mechanisms, was the Emperor. At least, that’s what the Warmaster assumed.

A comically grotesque figure, an oversized man that was little more than a bag of bones covered by a thin layer of pale, veined flesh, its eyeless sockets staring at nowhere in particular. The skin had been pulled back from the skull, leaving little more than strands of ligaments and muscle holding together a face that grinned like a painted jester. Injectors attached to bio-monitors were inserted deep under the creature’s skin, red ooze flowing in and a black one flowing out. Some remains of power armor remained, though all color had gone out of them a long time ago, leaving only greyish-black bare ceramite. The upper right portion of the figure’s torso seemed to be missing, along with the arm and shoulder, a wound likely inflicted by Horus’ Talon underslung storm-bolter. Its left arm held tightly to the Throne’s arm-rest, the blackened nails scoring grooves in the metal. The legs were broken and twisted. It breathed in long hisses, each indraw of air a death-rattle announcing a demise long overdue. The stench in the hall was unbearable. One of his custodes held a vial beneath his left eye, hoping to capture a tear, even though the creature’s tear-ducts had rotten long ago. This was the Living God of Mankind, the Head of the Imperium, the Lord of the Hosts, Supreme General of the Legions and Master of the Galaxy. The Warmaster dropped to his knees and heaved.

‘He was rather dashing in his youth; Change hasn’t been kind to him. Still, he lingers on.’

‘Lingers? He’s dead.’

‘Is he? Oh, of course he is. This is his echo in the warp. You see, mankind thought his Emperor fought for them against us, against Chaos, to protect them in the immaterium, even though his physical being was spent. As you can see, this was never the case.’

‘What protected us, then?’

‘What makes you think you needed protecting? You give us too much credit. But this isn’t what I wanted to show you. Here, have a closer look.’

The man pointed to the left shoulder guard in the Emperor’s rag-tag attire. The Warmaster took a few wavering steps, feeling a slight breeze at his back, and then climbed up the steps near the throne, leaned over and tried to avoid breathing in the foulness as he stared at where the man had pointed. After a while, he climbed down and said nothing.

‘Do you see?’

‘He wears a Crux Terminatus. What of it?’

‘He wears your Crux. If your pauldrons weren’t so preposterously oversized, you’d be able to see that too. It’s you in that throne, if you choose the route you are about to take. Alpharius will ultimately be defeated, but at what cost? I’m sure you have experience being entombed inside a machine; I expect you’re not eager to do it again. It sounds depressing. And ruling over all of mankind too, what a drag. And I wonder what are they up to?’

Once again the scene changed and both men were now atop the Astronomican, but it had become impossibly tall, a fixed point in the universe that could see all events unfolding. Billions upon billions of men and women marched off to war, leaving scores of desolate, burning planets in their wake. First they marched against the Tyranid, and the conflict seemed to take a thousand years and a trillion times that number in lives. Then they marched off to war against whatever the Tyranids had fled from, and still the planets burned. Eventually, they marched off against the entire universe, and after that too had fallen, they marched to war against themselves, piling skull upon skull upon the feet of the figure atop the Golden Throne even as the Imperial Palace burned with the glow of atomics, asking for the figure’s blessing.

‘War is god.’ Said the man, and cleared his throat ‘Doombreed had you in the palm of his hand since the beginning. You think his title is just empty boasting? You see him calm and composed, the consummate strategist, but Khorne chose him for a reason. Chaos only wears the veener of sanity, like I, but we are all ultimately insane. And it is glorious, if I do say so myself’ He discoursed urbanely, taking an occasional puff from his pipe. ‘But it ultimately leads to its own destruction. As I said, you needed no protecting. Malcador was overzealous.’ The man stopped to take in the view, throwing away his pipe as he did so. Then he chuckled softly, as if privy to a joke only he understood, and carried on ‘Well, what do you think of the wondrous future of mankind? Is it to your liking?’

‘Why should I believe you?’

‘Well' They were back in the Throne Room, and Tzeentch pointed to the figure upon the Golden Throne ‘He didn’t.’



‘The Dragon’s…death…finally tore open the void rift. The warp bled from that hole in reality, and out of it came the birthing throes of a god, harbingers of battle and bloodlust, formless things that swept away all in their path. And mankind embraced them, for the Blood God offered his gifts willingly to the Warmaster who fought at the Gates of the Throne. Khorne found his new champion, a mere mortal willing to face impossible odds for…do you know, I don’t know? What was he thinking?’

‘How should I know? Has anything made sense in the last thousand years? Do you really believe I planned for all of this to happen? The last millennium was so preposterously improbable I was lucky if I knew what was going on half the time, let alone knowing how things would turn out.’

‘Come now, Tzeentch, I know you aren’t as smart as you look but you always have a plan.’

‘Plan? Plan for what? I saw Space Marines beheading Inquisitors in Cadia and charging away from battle, planetary governors becoming soul-devouring abominations…’ Tzeentch paused and let his gaze wander before resuming, with a perplexed voice ‘orks being diplomatic and Chaos making more sense than the Imperium, which was led by a xeno no less. I saw a black crusade succeeding and the Eldar getting things done for once. Did you think I had this kind of trouble with Abaddon? We could always count on him. Reliable, he was.’

‘So…You’re saying you didn’t plan for any of this? What of all your schemes? All the events you set in motion? You allowed Ahriman to kill you.’

‘Well, yes. I did. In a way. Eventually. I knew he would…at some point. That’d give me some breathing room. I knew Magnus was too weak to do that, so I could count on Ahriman’s brilliance and bitterness to cook something up. But after that…Well, I had to make up things as I went along, really. None of what happened was as planned. Did you think I counted on that horrible little man from Scintilla trying to devour the entire Tyranid Hivemind? None of this was as planned. When things came crashing down on all fronts and all those best-laid schemes and such were… disrupted, I survived relatively unscathed. ‘

‘And relatively powerless. If the little human hadn’t refused you, Khorne wouldn’t have paid any attention to him. And when mankind decided to worship him, the Blood God extended to them his boon as well. Whereas you…Well, let’s be frank, they don’t even know you exist. Why did you do that?’

‘Chaos was doomed with its inner squabbling, and mankind’s paranoia about us was quite unjustified. Of course, when things started to spin out of control I saw an opportunity to change that. With an Emperor that was openly blessed by Khorne and no ecclesiarchy to put things to flame, with the Void Dragon’s complete dissemination of freedom of thought throughout the Imperium…Well, now the distinction between mankind and Chaos is not only inexistent, it is irrelevant. They live in it, they thrive in it, and they die in it. Khorne gave them all his power and they took it, remade themselves with it. Every mind opened itself to Chaos fully. Each one of them is a god unto himself, each one a Daemon Prince of his own making.’

‘You gave away your power, though. You made it meaningless; you made yourself meaningless when you made them indistinguishable from you.’

‘Oh? As long as they continue hoping, I’ll remain. As long as they continue fighting, so will the Blood God, blind as he is to the fact he’s no longer important.’

‘Yes, you turned yourselves into glorified totems. Even poor old Nurgle is back and all he does is mope about how there’s no more disease anywhere. You took away the majesty of chaos, Changer of Ways, although I admit that does rather amuse me.’

‘I gave chaos the universe. I care little if you think there was no purpose in what I did. There is no sense among the uncaring stars. Worlds will be conquered, heroes will rise and fall, the mightiest of Daemon Princes will be forgotten in time. All fall down. Why do they fall? Why do they rise? What does it matter what they did, what they will do? Nothing. They change. And we change with them. That is all they do. They will create new things and forgot about the old. They will destroy entire species and give birth to countless more. They’ll conquer the universe, and they’ll weep when they realize there are no more worlds to conquer. So they’ll make new ones. It will never end. It will never have any meaning. They’ll just keep on going one day after the other, thinking that things were better in the past, yet never ceasing to change their future. It is pointless. It is as it must be.’

‘It’s fun, Tzeentch. Now fly away, little raven. Go on, out, and take your Emperor with you. He’s alive, but Gods know what you’ll do with him, the man’s completely bonkers now. Maybe you can convince Khorne to share his throne.’

‘You didn’t listen to a word I said, did you? You’ll lose, you have to realize that. Your overblown little speech couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even you can’t be that mad to think you’ll win, now that mankind holds in its grasp the power of the gods, Emperor or no Emperor: Now they’re bound to muck up things in a scale I can’t even contemplate.’

‘Oh, cheer up. What does it matter if I win or lose? You said so yourself, it doesn’t. You have lost Sol, you have lost Terra…I’m sure you can turn that into a cunning trap! Tut, tut. You really are so boring sometimes, don’t appreciate what you’ve been given, enough with the doom and gloom.’ - The lithe young man dressed in bright clothes tapped his fingers against the armrest of the Golden Throne, and added with a smile - ‘You know, this chair isn’t as uncomfortable as it looks. I think I’ll keep it.’

The bent, middle-aged man turned away from the young man and went back to the crystalline balconies of his ever-changing palace, new architectures springing from his mind directly onto the warp –built structure around him. He sighed and puffed on his pipe. Presently, a new plan formed in his mind.