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The Tantibus Crusade (Jeppes fluff og army-tråd)

 
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:34 pm    Post subject: The Tantibus Crusade (Jeppes fluff og army-tråd)  Reply with quote

Chapter I.I - Here shall I die

The hololith flickered to life, uncertainly at first but with surprising ease and clarity, considering the state of the ship itself. A mighty ship it was, with an honoured history of valiant service to the Imperium reaching back through the milleniae to its construction on distant Terra. And yet the Shield of Mankind, as was the Cruiser's name, would likely have been all but unrecognizable to it's builders marred as it was from the many travails of an Imperial crusading ship.
It would be good to have at least the temporary reprieve of docking, repair and resupply before throwing the ancient vessel into the fray once more and not just for the ship itself, reflected Captain Aelfrith, glancing briefly down his own battered suit of armour. The golden yellow had chipped away in places to reveal the ceramite below. Although his armour's battle scars seemed no less an honour to Aelfrith than the most resplendent suit of parade armour, he still longed to stand again in the glorious livery of the Imperial Fists, it's bright yellow a visual scream of defiance against any who would oppose the might of the Imperium.

"Captain?" A deep and melodious voice inquired, shaking Aelfrith from his reverie. Aelfrith gazed up at the hololith projection to see a giant of a man, clad in white robes. A single golden clasp wrought in the shape of the inverted omega denoted that this was indeed Marneus Augustus Calgar, Master of the Ultramarines and Lord of Macragge. Not that Aelfrith would not have recognized him by his face alone; he had seen that stern visage depicted many times on Imperial monuments and in chronicles of the Chapter Master's legendary deeds. Here was the man -or at least the holographic projection of the man- who had led the Ultramarines to countless victories and who had, at one time, defeated a Daemon Avatar of the Eldar by punching his fist straight through it's chest and crushed the life from it's still beating heart.
Even when, as now, he was not clad for battle he was still an imposing figure whose great hands looked fully capable of ripping an Ork's head clean off. Even in his armour Aelfrith actually had to crane his neck slightly upwards in order to look him in the eye.

"I had hoped to speak to master Hagan, when I heard that an Imperial Fists vessel had entered the system. I assume he is not here, then?" Calgar asked, looking over the Imperial Fist with an inscrutable gaze. Aelfrith suddenly felt uncharacteristically self-conscious under the Lord of the Ultramarines' scrutiny. He fell to his knees and bowed his head, presenting the haft of his thunder hammer to the hololithic image, just as a knight of ancient Terra would have offered his sword to his liege.

"He is not here, Lord Calgar. Part of our fleet was delayed by strange currents in the warp. It would seem that we are at present the only Imperial Fists in the system. I am Captain Aelfrith of the Fifth Company, my Lord."
Calgar motioned for Aelfrith to rise.

"Do not kneel to me, Captain." He exclaimed "I am not your master, nor would I have you humble yourself to me if I were. You must excuse my ignorance and enlighten me as to your own deeds, for I am not familiar with any Aelfrith of the Fifth. Were you recently promoted to this honoured position?"

"A field promotion, my Lord" Aelfrith said, as he rose to his feet. "My predecessor, Captain Berik fell during the Bharakian Crusade from which we have newly returned and Chapter Master Hagan felt that I was his natural successor." Aelfrith suddenly felt the weight of his ascension as a heavy and not entirely deserved burden.

"As I am certain that you are, Captain! Is there not a story of heroism already written upon your scroll, I wonder? Do not consider me rude, that I do not inquire further into your story, for time is of the essence. But it is plain to see that you are a man who holds the promise of great deeds."
"That is high praise from one such as yourself my Lord. Truth be told, I am honoured even to stand in your presence" Aelfrith said, blushing not only at Calgar's words but at the way in which he had seemed to look straight into him and see how he doubted his own readiness.

The merest suggestion of a smile played over Calgar's statuesque features. "I had not heard that the Imperial Fists was a chapter given to flattery, Captain."

"Not empty flattery, my Lord. Yet we believe in the just recognition of valorous deeds, such as your own." Aelfrith exclaimed, taking care not to show his ambivalence at the Chapter Masters words. On the one hand, they might be seen as a barb against Aelfrith and the Imperial Fists, but on the other they might be nothing more than humility and good humour on Calgar's part.

"Then will you not allow me the same?" Calgar asked "I know Chapter Master Hagan well enough to know that he does not promote unworthy men to positions of power."

"He does not, my Lord. Yet necessity and ill fortune may still put the unworthy man forward" Aelfrith said with no false humility. That was his exact feelings on the matter, as much as he wished it was otherwise.

"Just as necessity and responsibility might raise him to worthiness." Calgar said with an air of finality.
"Let us speak no more of this. You are the ranking Imperial Fist in this sector and now we must hold our war council, for the situation is even more dire than the Blood Angels' call for aid suggested.
Quite apart from the Xenos threat, the populations on most planets in the system are restless and worried; some even in open revolt. The cause is not yet known but I suspect some sort of Xenos witchery is at the heart of the matter. These disturbances could not have come at a worse time; many of our resources are spent trying to restore order and maintain our supply lines, when we should be fighting the Xenos instead. Already our forces are spread too thin and stretched to the breaking point.

Much as I would've liked to give you and your men a personal welcome and the time to rest after the vagaries of warp travel, I need you to make for Tantibus IV where a command bastion have recently fallen silent. We know little of the situation, except that the bastion is of vital importance to our ability to operate effectively in this system. We also know that the abhuman species known as the Squats are massing in the area. It is highly probable that they are responsible for the lack of communication and that they are moving on the bastion itself..."

Calgar sighed heavily before continuing. "These Squats are both the greatest mystery and misfortune of this war. I am afraid that they are also my personal mistake, although it pains me to say so."
"I'm afraid I don't understand, my Lord?"
"At the last council concerning Imperial policy in these regions of space, I actually spoke against their annihilation as Xenos" Calgar said with a pained expression "our diplomatic relations were amicable and although their genes were not purely human they seemed fiercely honourable and loyal; traits I recognized in my own chapter and have always valued highly in my allies. And so, I advocated that we keep to our trade agreements with the Squat and allow them to retain their abhuman status. There is nothing I regret more today than my leniency towards these Xenos traitors, although it is still a mystery to me how the Tau have managed to turn them against us. It is a cautionary tale that we cannot and must not believe the alien akin to ourselves. I only hope that my mistaken trust will not prove to be our undoing."

Aelfrith was not quite certain how to take this new information. On the one hand it was strangely comforting to know that even the Master of the Ultramarines were not infallible in his judgement. On the other, it put him in an extremely unfavourable situation.
"We are never to blame for the treachery of others, my Lord." He said after some deliberation "yet I am afraid that I have grave doubts as to the ability of my men to withstand a determined assault by these Xenos. Until Chapter Master Hagan arrives with the rest of the fleet the Imperial Fists forces in this system are numbered in few dozens and many of those sorely wounded."
"Those are bad news indeed." Calgar mused "How many men would you say you have, all told?"

"I have maybe twenty Astartes fit for battle -thirty at the very most, my Lord" Aelfrith replied after the merest pause. "Although I regret to say many of those have only the ammunition they carry in their bolters. The Bharakian Crusade was a hard-fought victory and we have had no resupply whatsoever since."
"I see..." Calgar's voice seemed directed at no one in particular. A frown creasing his brow as he pondered the situation. "My own personal command ship is en route to Tantibus V to purge the Tau from that region, or I would have gone to aid you in person. As matters stand, it seems the mission I would give you is beyond hope of succes."
"It would indeed seem so, my Lord. Yet you were the first chapter master to reach the sector after the call for aid was issued. As such you are master of the crusade and your word is our law."
"The Ultramarines have not dubbed this war a crusade, Captain. Not yet, at least" Calgar said, almost as if he was seeking a reason not to give the order for a mission he knew was hopeless, but whose necessity was beyond doubt.
"It would be a coward's excuse to refuse service on such grounds, my Lord." Aelfrith exclaimed somewhat hotly, fixing Calgar's eye with his own before continuing "I had not heard that the Lord of the Ultramarines was loath to accept authority. History is filled with tales of the Sons of Rogal Dorn throwing their lives away in hopeless battles and it stings me deeply that it seems we must now write another such tale. Yet I would hold my honour cheap, if I were to refuse your authority on a mere technicality and while it might save the lives of my men, they would never be able to look their brothers in the eye again. Come what may, I would not have history say of the Imperial Fists' fifth company that they refused justly given commands simply because they meant death for the men in question."

Calgar sighed deeply "And what will history say of the Lord of Macragge, i wonder? That his soft heart led him to value the lives of Xenos over those of his brothers? That he would not even send his own men to correct his mistakes but instead threw the valiant men of the fifth company into the jaws of death?"

"I would not have it so, my Lord." Aelfrith said "rather let it say that a young captain of the Imperial Fists succumbed to the stubbornness that was ever the mark of the sons of Dorn and that he perished with his men in a futile last stand, hoping to gain glory for his chapter and for the Emperor of mankind. It will be the truth, after a fashion, and it will not sully the legend of the Master of the Ultramarines. A legend that brings sorely needed hope to every man, woman and child in the galaxy.
Yet I hope history will also tell of how the vengeance and retribution of the Lord of Macragge was unfailing and of how utterly he crushed those that would defy the Imperium of man and slay his brothers of the fifth company."

"I swear to you, on whatever honour I may have in your eyes, that it will be so Captain." Calgar said, his hands clenching and unclenching as he spoke "yet I would still hope for a less grim ending to the tale of Aelfrith of the fifth. I cannot help but feel that if you fall under my command, I will have robbed the Imperial Fists of a hero whose star would have risen to rival that of your First Captain Lysander. And yet it would seem that I must give the order; you will go to Tantibus IV and you will engage the Xenos there and hold them off, until we can reinforce you. I have drawn up the coordinates for several locations where the Squat army may be engaged, including the bastion itself, should you wish to make for that and fortify it against the Xenos. It is a well-known fact that a fortress held by the Imperial Fists will stand against any foe. But the choice is yours, Captain." Calgar gestured to a holo-map that was simultaneously projected into Aelfrith's control chamber.

"Since the bastion has already fallen silent, I fear that we would find it's doors locked and it's guns arrayed against us, my Lord." He mused, looking over the map briefly, before pointing to a set of coordinates. "Here, my Lord, is where we shall make our stand. In this valley we might at least presume to challenge the Xenos and draw them into open battle, despite our inferior numbers. Hopefully the outpost located there is not so battered that we cannot use it to our advantage. Here, in all probability, I shall die but Emperor willing we may delay the Squats and allow you to take the bastion before they reach it."

"A well-reasoned strategy" Calgar nodded approvingly "So be it, then." He looked briefly at Aelfrith with an inscrutable expression before going on to pose an unexpected question "what are your feelings on this matter, Captain?"
"My feelings?" Aelfrith asked, somewhat taken aback "Sorrow and regret, my Lord."
Calgar's expression stiffened visibly at this answer, as he perhaps felt a sting of reproach in the words of the man he had likely doomed by his words. Or perhaps it was remorse at the order he had given.
He was still pondering an answer, when Aelfrith continued "Sorrow and regret that my men and I have only the one life to lay down for the glory of the Primarch and Him on Terra, my Lord."
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As the hololith flickered off, Aelfrith turned to the chief communication-serf.
"Commendable work, Gerrit. That was perhaps the clearest holo-projection I have seen in my days."

The serf bowed low at the captain's praise "You honour me, Captain, but truth be told it is less a question of skill and more as though this sector of space is especially beneficial to the sending of images and sound. Something that might also explain why the Blood Angels distress signal reached us so easily..."

Here Aelfrith interrupted him "it might be best not to talk of the Angels' message as a distress signal, should you come face to face with them, Gerrit. They are a proud breed and may not appreciate such blunt honesty from a human serf.
In any case, we must prepare ourselves for the coming battle. Send a message to the armourer that I will be along shortly; in the meantime he should divide what ammunition we have left evenly among the troops and issue the power armour of the dead and wounded to our scouts.
They have earned the right to fall with the rest of us, if nothing else. And now I must be off to the apothecarion."

Gerrit saluted briskly, as his captain turned on his heels and walked through the doors of the communications chamber. There was still more than the hint of a limp in the captain's stride; the battle that had seen his promotion had also claimed his right leg and he had not fully adapted to its bionic replacement. It was doubtful if he ever would.

The apothecarion was not a scene of carnage and the cries of the wounded. Rather, it was a place of busy and subdued work, a testimony to the methodical work and talent of the fifth company's chief apothecary, Baldvin Herick.

"How was your audience with the Lord of Macragge? Was he all you expected him to be?" Herick said, not looking up from his work, as Aelfrith entered the room.

"All I expected and more." Aelfrith said as he approached Herick's worktable "He is a true master of men in all regards. Even had I wished to, I could've refused him nothing, as much as the task he has alotted us is less than pleasant..."

"A suicide mission, then?" Herick said with some bitterness, after Aelfrith had explained the situation to him "Do the Ultramarines think us nothing more than dogs who can be commanded as they please, even to guard the home in the face of certain death, while their masters are away?"
"I do not think so, for Calgar seemed less than pleased with himself at having me accept the mission. He seemed honest enough in his regret, although I think he is far from guileless.

Even so, if they considered us dogs, as you say would there be shame in that?
After all, our father Rogal Dorn valued loyalty above all else and stayed by the Emperor's side to protect him to the end, while the Ultramarine's primarch was half a galaxy away, chasing glory."

"Be that as it may, my captain, it is not clear to me that the Ultramarines are our masters." Herick retorted while meticulously cleaning his tools.

"You know as well as I that that is not the issue here, Baldvin. Calgar is presently master of this crusade and if Chapter Master Hagan were here, he would have acknowledged as much. Just as he would have seen that there was no other strategic option open to us than to send what men we have to secure this bastion."

"We deploy everything we have, then?"

"More or less, brother. That is one of two things I came to discuss with you. Every man that you judge able to stand in armour within the hour will go with us. We will keep only a single drop pod and those too sorely wounded to fight in reserve."
"Very well, then." Herick said, surveying a dataslate, crossing out names and pressing the corresponding buttons on his work station
"Everyone who might conceivably contribute to this battle should be waking up shortly. My apothecaries will prep them for combat and inform them of the situation."
He slotted a clip into his bolt pistol and pointed to a white helmet laying on his work table "just pass me that and we'll be ready to leave for the landing bay."

There was a brief uncomfortable pause before Aelfrith held up his hand in a disarming gesture "That was the other thing, Brother. You're not coming with us."

"What?!?" The apothecary growled "Am I not part of your command squad? Have I not the right to fight alongside my brothers in this hour of need? Where have I failed in my duties, that I am to be so dishonoured, Captain?"

"You have performed your duties admirably, as you well know, Herick." Aelfrith said, as he held the apothecary's furious gaze "and while you are now close to insubordination, I would never dispute your honour. Yet there are other needs for your services than those of my command squad."
"Other needs, more important than keeping my brothers alive during the battle, Captain?" Herick said, looking doubtfully at Aelfrith, as if he suspected that something bad was coming.

"Yes, brother apothecary." Aelfrith sighed "we do not go to this battle with the hope of victory, or even survival, as you well know. And while i would not rob you of the chance for glory or your right to stand with me, there is still the future to be considered.
Calgar said that the Squat was, in their own way, a fiercely honourable race of warriors. If he is right, then they may not despoil our bodies overmuch, as less honourable foes would.
If so, there is hope that you and your apothecaries may at least recover the geneseed from our fallen, so that the losses of today may not cripple the fifth company and the chapter forever.
That is why I would hold you back today; not out of lack of regard for your skill or your honour. Never think it, brother."

Baldvin Herick bowed his head dejectedly, shaking it slowly as if to rid himself of the shame and anger he had felt at being left behind.

"Very well, Brother-Captain. There is truth in what you say and I bow to your wisdom and authority. All the same, it almost makes me wish I had never taken up the apothecary's gauntlet.
Best of luck to you, then, and I hope I may see you again, even if you will not see me."

He hammered his breast with his left hand in salute to Aelfrith and the captain did likewise.

"Glory to the primarch and to Him on Terra!" they exclaimed in unison, before Aelfrith turned and started his limping walk towards the landing bay.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mega Awesome! Total fedt skrevet!
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oswald1985 wrote:
Mega Awesome! Total fedt skrevet!
Tak Smile

Her kommer næste "kapitel":

Chapter I.iii - Aid unlooked for

Aelfrith surveyed the statue in the middle of the square. It seemed almost miraculous that it should have survived the bombardment of the outpost unscathed, yet the evidence was right in front of his eyes. No exploding shell or flying shrapnel had marred the statues visage; a thin layer of verdigris and engine-soot was all that betrayed the fact that the statue had been sculpted and cast years before and not earlier the same day.

"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old..." He muttered to himself, as he glanced over the statue's stern features.

"What's that, Captain?" The marine next to him said "I'm afraid my ears aren't what they used to be."

"It was nothing, Heinrich." Aelfrith replied, not taking his eyes off the statue.
It was a masterpiece in it's own right; depicting a space marine in a captain's cloak, standing with his thunder hammer at rest on his shoulder and staring into the distance with an expression of both thoughtfulness and defiance. The artist had captured his features perfectly and Aelfrith was easily able to recognize the likeness of Captain Seraphion, who was regarded by many people in these regions of space as an Imperial saint.

"Just a snippet of an old catechism regarding fallen heroes, Sergeant." He said, turning to regard Heinrich with his cold blue eyes. "Does it grieve you to fight in my command squad today, rather than with your scouts? I am sorry if I have pulled you away from what you regard as your duty, but it'll come to brutal close combat if I am not much mistaken, and I will have need of your stout arm and bloody mind for the tasks we will face today."

Heinrich scratched the stubble on his head "Nah, Captain. The boys have grown into men during our last campaign and I reckon they'll fight and die well enough without me to watch over them. In fact I don't even think they'll soil their new armour too much.
As for fighting in your command squad, you couldn't make me stay away. It'll be good to be squadmates again, Captain. Even if it's just for today."

Aelfrith couldn't help but smile at his friend's good humour in the face of everything arrayed against them, even though he sensed the grim determination just beneath the surface; Heinrich knew just as well as his captain that their situation was beyond hope. All the same, Aelfrith's mood lightened in spite of everything.

"Heinrich, you old dog!" He grinned at his sergeant as he clasped his wrist "I don't believe there's anything in the universe that can quell that spirit of yours. But you're right. It will be good to fight together again. Go and make sure your boys are in position and give them my regards, then gather the rest of the command squad and we'll reconvene here. We'll hold our position here in this square."

"Under the watchful eyes of Saint Seraphion, eh?" Heinrich grinned back at him. "The symbolism is not lost on me, Captain. But I suspect you have another reason as well, do you not? Be that as it may, I'll go and give their tender backsides a last ribbing but I'll be back here before you know it. I can't wait to bash in a few Xenos skulls with you, so don't go starting without me, alright?"

"I'll be sure to tell the Xenos to hold off untill you're ready, Sergeant." Aelfrith shouted after Heinrich as the sergeant took off to give the newly promoted scouts their briefing.

Then he turned back to surveying not just the statue but the square itself. With just a few modifications and fortifications it would serve his purposes well. The Xenos would have no choice but to come at them through the narrow streets and hopefully they would be able to withstand them for much longer than their relative numbers would suggest possible. Even if they were completely surrounded, they would be able to direct the flow of the battle somewhat.

It was as good a place as any, he reflected as he once again looked over the statue of the imperial hero, who had died singlehandedly holding a desert ravine against an entire Waaaagh on distant Kerosian, thus buying his brothers time to evacuate their wounded and dying after their offensive had gone disastrously wrong in the face of the Orks ferocity.

At first the Warbosses had accepted his challenges to single combat to the cheers of their underlings and Seraphion had laid them all low with little real effort, even if each combat had been a little more drawn out than the last.
After the broken corpse of the tenth Warboss' was thrown on the pile, when they realized that he was building a wall of their dead in order to hold the narrow canyon against them, the Orks had thought better of their strategy and had decided to rush Seraphion instead of sending more of their leaders to perish at the Blood Angel Captain's deadly hammerblows.
Even then, Seraphion had not gone quietly. The legend said that he had only been taken down when the Ork dead lay piled so high that their comrades were able to climb to the top of the ravine and move in behind the Blood Angel even as he smote all before him in his fury.

The tale was apocryphal, more likely than not. After all, who would have been there to see the end? All anyone really knew of Seraphion's last stand was that it lasted long enough to allow his brothers' escape, that he went to it willingly and that for the rest of that particular war the Orks had been much more cautious about confronting their foes in enclosed locations.
Still, even if the legend was not strictly true, it was a fine tale. Not to mention a useful one, for it stirred the emotions and brought hope and faith in the unquenchable power of the human spirit to all who heard it.

"I dare not hope that we will give as glorious an accounting of ourselves as you, Captain Seraphion" Aelfrith placed the palm of his hand on his chest and spoke aloud to the statue, feeling slightly self-conscious at the superstition it betrayed in him "But I swear that we will not dishonour ourselves under your gaze, at the least."

For a moment there was absolute stillness as the two figures stood immovable and silent in the square, their shadows entwined in the growing dusk.
Then suddenly there was something behind him; a movement in the shadows.

Aelfrith turned and drew his thunder hammer in one fluid motion, even as his bionic leg sent a spike of pain through his body at the sudden movement. The bloody thing had still not set properly.
"Who goes there?" He shouted at a ruined archway, where a dark figure stood almost completely concealed by the shadows.

"A friend, Captain." A strangely whirring voice replied after the merest pause.

"Approach then, and let me judge the truth of your words." Aelfrith said, in a not alltogether hopeful tone. He was in no mood for surprises and it was highly unlikely that friendly troops had survived the bombardment of the outpost. In any case, survivors ought to be headed for the planetary defence bases, not lurk in the shadows.

"Very well then, but I will need a moment to adjust my sensory capabilities to the sunlight. I have been underground these past days and my senses have optimized themselves for the lightless environment.”

"Who are you and what have you been doing in the mines?" Aelfrith was in no mood for games, yet even if this was nothing but a trick to put him at ease, the unknown enemy might accidentally betray some vital bit of information if only Aelfrith could keep him talking.

"I have been looking for certain ...resources... that the miners might have left behind. As well as information. Knowledge is ever a weapon in the hand of the wise,  as you well know, Captain.”

The figure emerged from the darkness with a wheezing of hydraulics; a giant clad in armour blacker than the shadows, with a bewildering array of sensors and bionics where it's eyes should have been and a strangely shaped axe in it’s right hand. It held up a left hand fashioned of dark metal in a disarming gesture, as Aelfrith lifted his hammer.

“No need for that, Captain.” The mechanically distorted voice exclaimed with no hint of alarm or other emotion “I have come to offer my assistance to you and your men in this  hopeless endeavour of yours. I am Iron Father Andros of the Iron Hands and I am at your service.” The figure inclined its entire upper body in what seemed an anatomically impossible angle, its armour giving off a hum of mechanical noise.

Aelfrith stood dumbfounded for a moment, before he rushed forwards and clutched the Iron Father’s mechanical wrist in a handshake of greeting.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Der er megafedt Smile
Jeg har først lige set/læst det idag. Jeg er spændt på hvordan hidtorien spænder af, måske også med indflydelse under af den samlede kampagnes udfald.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marneus Calgar sighed deeply as the hololithic image of the Imperial Fist flickered and vanished. "That was not a pleasant talk, old friend!" He said to the black-armoured figure standing in the shadows behind his throne. "What did you make of our young Captain Aelfrith, pray tell?"

"A fine specimen of the seed of Dorn, no doubt." The figure said, as he stepped out into the light. His ancient features were twisted into a mocking rictus grin that belied his true emotions, even as his well-tempered voice might either signify veiled contempt or stoic admiration for the Imperial Fists.

"Some would say he was like a loyal dog in his admiration and obedience for you, whereas others might say he came awfully close to biting his masters hand -or at least that he made you feel the weight of the master's responsibility."

Calgar sighed again before replying "Aye. As politely servile as he was he still put his teeth in there, towards the end. He all but shamed me with his willingness to die for my mistakes. Still, any blame is rightfully mine in this matter and I would not shirk from it."

"Nor should you, my friend." The old Chaplain weighed in "the line of Guilliman would be dishonored by such prideful arrogance. Yet you would also have faltered, had you let your shame or your compassion cloud your judgement. If the Imperial Fists must fall in the service of the Emperor this day, then so be it. We must all do our share for the glory of mankind and the Imperium, after all."

"Not all Chapter Masters would permit their chaplains to lecture them as if they were merely young scouts who must be taught at every turn not to stray from the path, Cassius." Calgar exclaimed in his sternest bass. Only the slight twinkle in his eyes revealed that this was no reproach but a rare exhibition of humour from the Master of the Ultramarines.

Cassius one organic eye mirrored Calgar's when he replied "That is what makes you wiser than them, my friend. It has always been my personal conviction that all Chapter Masters ought to have a Chaplain to keep them in check and redress their errors. But what is perhaps more important, is that you seldom err in the first place; always you tread the fine line between the theoretical and the practical, never shirking from any necessity that they decree. Nor did you do so today, with the Imperial Fist. Both of you merely recognized what was asked of you and acted accordingly. There is no shame in that; merely duty."

Calgar sighed again "You are right, my friend. Just as you usually are. All the same, duty is sometimes a heavy burden to bear. I feel it keenly today."
"Only in death, does duty end, Marneus." The Chaplain said in a bleak monotone, that betrayed no emotion whatsoever. "You know this well enough, do you not?"

"Aye, I do, Chaplain." The Chapter Master replied flatly "Nor do I wish for an end to duty before I have seen the true Lord of Ultramar return and handed him back the laurels of command. But let us speak no more of this! Tell me what you came for instead. You bear tidings from Tigurius' expedition, do you not?"
"Indeed I do, or I would not have cowered in the shadows while you talked with the Imperial Fist. Eavesdropping is not my trade, nor am I a courier, but all the same I thought it prudent that I bring you the news in person. I thought that along with a few choice words they might prepare your spirit for the task at hand."

"Seldom have I been brought a message in such a cryptic, roundabout way, Cassius. Were you my courier, It would be swifter to personally accompany every expedition than wait for your reports. Out with it then, good tidings or bad!"

"Tigurius reports that under his personal command, the hideous Tau have been routed from the system's main agriworld and that the supply lines to the surrounding planets are once again open; no major starvation having taken place.
He informs us that he will be returning to the flagship as soon as possible and that he has premonitions of some import to discuss with you."
The old chaplain let out a croaking noise, somewhere between a chuckle and a cough before continuing his missive "also, he regrets to inform us that Sergeant Telion is missing since the final battle and presumed lost to us..."

At this, Marneus Calgar eyed the chaplain sternly, before replying in tones of mock severity "A grave loss for the chapter indeed. His statue will hold a high place in the gallery of heroes. Do you think we will actually get the ceremony over with before the old dog shows up again, this time?"
"It is not for me to say, Lord. The Emperor, praise his name, alone knows the fate of brother Telion. All the same, I would not risk my amasec rations on it."
Calgar's eyes twinkled as he rose to his feet and gestured for his honour guard to approach.
"Emperor's Throne, Cassius, you old rascal! If you set out to restore my spirits with this charade, you have done so. Mere moments ago I was nearly despondent, but now my heart cries out for glorious battle!"
As Calgar spoke, he walked to the throne room's viewport, accompanied by  Cassius and ten of his personal honour guards, each of whom was a legendary warrior in his own right. For a moment, every Ultramarine in the room stood silently contemplating the grey sphere of a world that the Guilliman's Honour orbited. Already, their fellow Ultramarines were scouting out  the ork positions below, in preparation for the coming battle.

Marneus Augustus Calgar smiled, as the servitors and the keeper of relics brought forth the Armour of Antioch. Truly, it had been too long since he had worn it -and yet he was every bit as much an implement of war as the armour itself. It would be good to descend into the maelstrom of battle once more.
Even as these thoughts ran through his mind, Calgar turned to his brethren, gesturing to the viewport.
"Ready yourselves for planetfall, brothers. Prepare your blades for a feast of Xenos blood! We have crossed the galaxy itself to bring the light of Ultramar and the Emperor back to this benighted world and by my honour, I swear it shall be done!"


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