Hello readers and welcome to 2018! It’s only almost April…
40k is still progressing. I’ve played all of 2 or 3 games even! I have yet to complete any models but I have gotten a lot of airbrushing done. I have a squad of Hellblasters, 5 devastators, a Lieutenant (Bors gets a model!) all green, I need to assemble and prime/green the rest of the devastators (I’m awash in tac marine sprues for some reason). I also have a LOT of wings and jump packs from the Sanguinary Guard which should let me make Bors, as well as another 5 assault marines as the awesome looking squad I already have.
This means that really all I have left to collect is vehicles. Painting wise I am focusing on 5th company elements, then I will push more terminators and the Ravenwing elements. Look for some pictures of my Fire Support teams soon, as well as an updated TOE for the company. I’ve been putting some thought into it. I am going to do some writing on the fiction as and when it strikes me, and I’m working on a HUGE major project for next year that I think will interest most of you. For now, plan on seeing some miniatures next week!
So this has been a very productive year for painting. More than 40 miniatures painted, including several vehicles, and all to a standard I’m very happy with. December has been a rocky month with work being absolutely crazy but next month is already looking much better. I have 10 Hellblasters, 4 heavy weapons, a Sergeant, a Lieutenant, a techmarine, and a medic all ready to go Tomorrow or Saturday I should be able to assemble the other 6 heavy weapons and get myself ready to paint my heavy weapons infantry and remaining characters.
Sorry about the potato picture quality. I didn’t have much time to set it up. Better stuff to come.
Currently I have 22 Tacticals in 3 squads (6,6,10) 10 Intercessors, 5 Assault Marines, a Captain, 3 Lieutenants, an Ancient, Zeke, a Predator, a Rhino, a Razorback, 8 Terminators all painted. I want to get the 10 Devastators and 10 Hellblasters done ASAP. They are so good in this edition.
2nd and 3rd I’m going to be doing some painting, at a minimum getting the Hellblasters done. More than likely getting the devastators done as well. This will get me to the point where I really just have the Inceptors, some of the Assault troopers, and vehicles to get the battle company done. I know I’ve talked a lot about the bikes but I’ve re focused myself. I want to get the entire 5th Company painted and on the table. I need to get a couple other primaris characters, and paint a few others, but the command group is looking really good and the army itself is filling out nicely. Purchase wise I believe I’m down to vehicles unless I add another Intercessor squad. I have all the traditional astartes I need, including heavy weapons and specialists, while I do have a Veteran Squad I’d like to do they will be very expensive and require some additional skills I’ll need to work on to get them done. I also would like to do another 5 Dark Angel Assault Troops with Sanguinary Guard wings, but again, 90 dollars for 5 marines is a lot. Especially when I have 5 perfectly good assault marines sitting there waiting for paint.
I’m excited for next year. I’m excited to see where the hobby goes and where my skills take me. I’m already planning for Armies on Parade, for expanding beyond the 5th Company, and for what to do with all the Aeldari my wife has.
So I’m going to do a simple year in review for 40k. Not much structure as this is just a horrifically busy week for me. More an overview.
The Best of Times
8th Edition Release(s)
So after going through the fiasco that was the Age of Simar release, and watching as PP fucks up Warmahordes almost as bad with their 3rd Edition release, GW manages to orchestrate a very careful, organized launch, and carry that momentum clear through the end of the year, starting well before the actual release with the return of Magnus and Guilliman, and continuing through the release of 10 codexes this year, massive upgrades to Space Marine armies, and some pretty solid balancing of armies.
The New Kits
Holy shit these are great. The Primaris look very good, even if they are a bit of a pain to assemble, the Death Guard look amazing, and all of the Primarchs look simply incredible on the table.
Fate of Konor was a ton of fun. Armies on Parade was great fun. There’s plenty of chances for events from purely collecting/modeling competitions to ultra-competitive high intensity tournaments. Des Moines has had at least 1 major event every month, and that’s JUST for 40k.
On Message, On Target
Ok, look, we all know I’m a feminist, and that representation in 40k is a bit lacking. Female dominated armies are a bit lacking, and boobplate shows up a lot more than it should. In addition the features of nearly every sculpt are very “European” even for armies that supposedly aren’t. GW has been vocal about increasing diversity and cutting down on some of the more sexist elements of their models. While there has been limited opportunity for them to do it with their long pipeline from project inception to release, they’ve played a lot of the right notes, now let’s see if the players on stage match the music.
I mean, yeah buying Chapter Approved every year is going to be a bit of a drain, but MAN it’s nice to see them FAQing and Errata-ing and just maintaining things. SO nice.
The Worst of Times
(Not) Fixing the Rules
So the biggest things they needed to fix were invuln saves and re-rolls. They did not fix them. They added mortal wounds. Now there’s army comps that can spam them through psychic powers that made the problem with Alpha Strikes just incredibly worse. I think they will need to figure out what to do about the huge number of 4++ or better invuln saves (I think even special characters shouldn’t have them very often) and re-roll auras… I like how they make any character interesting but holy hell does it slow down the game. Just give a +1 to hit or wound and call it a day.
First turn is huge. Way too big. I’m hoping next year’s Chapter Approved brings us some alternating activation because the way things are it’s just ugly sometimes. You can be crippled in a turn and that before you get a chance to go.
Marines are great, what else is there?
Not. Much. Eldar got a brief re-release of old models. No real upgrades or new releases. Nids got a little love, but not much. Grey Knights got nothing. CSM other than Death Guard got nothing. Other Chaos got only stuff originally designed for AoS. I get that Space Marines sell better than anything, but they HAVE more than anything. Give Eldar or Orks that kind of love and see what happens!
Things aren’t all steak and sunshine even for the Marines. More and more, chapters with distinct and carefully developed histories are being turned into Ultramarines. This isn’t good, it isn’t interesting and it doesn’t help the narrative. Hopefully GW starts looking at the issue and either puts someone in charge of fluff development that isn’t Matt Ward.
It’s been a great year. Probably the best for 40k in a long damn time. There’s clouds on the horizon but there’s a lot of sun and a lot of clear seas too. Just a matter of navigating the waters wisely, and so far GW seems to have hit more clear water the storms.
Habbakuk sat in his quarters, looking at the dagger before him. The dull green glow of the stone in its pommel seemed improbable coming from such an ill-cut lump. The stone looked like it had been shaped with crude stone tools, yet it still glowed, even in the dull candlelight of Habbakuk’s quarters. Interrogator-Chaplains lived in quarters far less spartan than the humble cells most of the Dark Angels brotherhood lived in. Their role as both spiritual leaders, and guardians came with many trappings, some easy to understand, some far subtler. Habbakuk hated the banners and the books. Habbakuk hated the litanies and the lies. Habbakuk hated the traitors and the easily led astray. Habbakuk hated everything except the pure, clean truth. But Habbakuk understood the need for shields between the true horror of the Fallen and the unprepared minds of his brothers. He hated their weakness, but he understood their potential. Habbakuk led them in the litanies he despised, steeling them that they might ascend to a higher understanding.
He contemplated the dagger. A weapon of old earth, brought to Caliban and saved from the wreckage of Caliban’s destruction by the watchers in the dark. The Khazd had crafted the stone in ages long forgotten. Habbakuk knew that if he picked up the blade the stone would glow even brighter, responding to the strength deep within him despite its humble-seeming carving. The Khazd must have been master craftsmen, but according to the documents that went with the stone they had been weak. While commissioned to place this stone and other great ones into a necklace they had tried to steal it from a great king of the Telar resulting in a great war. The necklace had been lost but the stone recognized when discovered in the early days of the Emperor’s reign. A thing seemingly crude, yet possessed of a subtle strength it carried a powerful message. One which Habbakuk wished to use.
Every warrior of the Dark Angels possessed a reliquary of weapons. From the humble Neophyte with his noble bolter and simple carapace to Supreme Grand Master Azrael with an arsenal fit to arm a full company in splendor, the warriors of the First venerated the instruments of war, and Habbakuk was no exception to the rule. The Inquisitor-Chaplain had fought for decades before ascending to the chaplaincy, and decades more before taking up the keys and blades of an Interrogator. He brought with him weapons, armor and artifacts dating back to the dawn of the Empire and before. Not to bear to war, his wargear he kept simple, but to use as tools in his quest to save the Unforgiven.
The door chimed as Master Cain requested entry. Habbakuk signaled assent and the door slid aside with a soft chuff. Rising to his full height the Interrogator refused to look up at the towering figure before him. “Master Cain, you have come into much knowledge that we guard most jealously.” He paused a moment. “We protect the spirit of our brothers most zealously” he spat out in a voice suitable to grind rocks.
Master Cain looked back impassively. Looking at the glowing coals of Habbakuk’s eye slits. Even here in his quarters the Interrogator Chaplain sat prepared for war. As if sensing the Master’s thoughts Habbakuk went on, grinding out the sentences. “You must guard this information well, yet use it. You must guide your brothers and your warriors, prepare them for their own day of enlightenment. Grand Master Ezekiel and I hunt the Fallen. You carry out your mission and help us guard the secret. That is all you must do. That is all you shall do.”
Master Cain glared into the lenses, his presence potent. Habbakuk ignored it as a boulder ignores a wave crashing over it. In a flash Habbakuk snatched the dagger by the handle, flipped it and hurled it at the Primaris. Keyed up by Habbakuk’s hostility the Master snatched the dagger by the blade even as its tip pricked his chest. Only his arm had moved, his gaze still locked on the black avatar of hate before him, he lifted the dagger to look at it before unfreezing to examine the beautifully crafted weapon, and the brilliant gem in its pommel.
“This is Nargond’s dagger. The stone comes from old Earth, the blade from Caliban. It has two loyalties, two homes. It serves one Master. Contemplate it as you master your new duties. That is all.”
Ancient Uriah joins his Battle-Brothers. The banner isn’t terribly exciting yet but I’ve got a couple ideas. My freehand game is weak but I have a lot of transfers to work with so we will find some embellishments to add to it. I got Lieutenant Smiley and built him with a helmet. His smiling face might make it onto a librarian later, I decided to paint him by hand after priming him with an airbrush. All the green you are looking at is Caliban green.
Getting an even coat on the GW Base Caliban Green was not easy. He’s going to take a lot of touching up. I still have a total of 3 Lieutenants to do, an Apothecary and a Company Champion. Oh and some Tarterus terminators. That I’m doing cork bases for. You may have noticed.
I also got a nice gift from a friend including a Dark Angels venerable Dreadnought. The instructions are… The usual Forgeworld lack of instructions. It’s not like it’s a difficult model but wow that is sparse. I also have some Rhino doors to kit out the new Razorback. I need to get some assault cannons for it, but that’s easy enough. I also have a box of Hellblasters to assemble. That’s going to be a bit of a chore as there’s a lot of part for not a lot of poseability. They do look really good, and I can do a couple things to make them look even better, especially since the new Dark Angels Hellblasters box comes with not one but TWO accessory sprues and a really good Dark Angels transfer sheet that has both the Infantry and Vehicle decals all on one monster sheet. It could be arranged better but it’s still an amazing added value to the box.
This leaves me with basically a box of Devastators, two Razorbacks, two Rhinos, two Repulsors, a Primaris Apothecary, Chaplain, and Librarian, a box of assault marines and Sanguinary guard to finish the assault squad, and that should get me the models for the whole battle company. That’s an intimidating list, and I probably want another squad of Primaris Intercessors and their Repulsor as well just because they are so damn good!
Painting wise I’m going to whittle away at the command group a little bit more. I want to get at least 2 of the LTs this week, ideally all three, and the apothecary to boot. I’m still focusing on the “Greenwing” company, but I need to work on the bikes. They are too good in the codex to ignore. This project is going to last well into the summer just to get the company as it exists in the story on the table fully painted, but it will happen, and when it does, I’m going to have to find an Apocalypse game to play!
Lieutenant Nabbuk knelt in his cell. His robes laid precisely around him as he contemplated arms and armor. The last week had been onerous, even for the transhuman Astartes and their Primaris cousins. Suddenly Ezekiel had summoned them back to the Tempus Occidere. The brothers had been ordered to their cells for equipment maintenance and told to assemble in the Strategium for a briefing from the master.
Nabbuk’s brow set in a deep furrow as he contemplated this. Ezekiel and Habbakuk had let them know that Master Cain languished under the care of the Chaplains, and no one else had seen him for the week. The watchers on board had been agitated. A pair of them had watched him constantly since the time he had returned from the surface. Others had been constantly wandering the corridors on unknowable errands according to the Chapter serfs crewing the ship.
The chime of his vox bead jerked Nabbuk from his thoughts. He toggled it with a tilt of his head, and leapt to his feet as the voice of Master Cain sounded from the bead. “Lieutenants, attend me immediately in Ezekiel’s chambers.” Before Nabbuk could acknowledge the carrier cut off. Nabbuk rose to his feet sharply turning out the door so quickly he had to twist to squeeze through the opening portal. He paced down the corridors at as rapid a face as respect for his rank permitted. His hood flipped up his arms folded down the opposite sleeves had paced down the halls of the strike cruiser, Bors fell in step coming around a corner, looking like a younger brother beside Nabbuk, despite having nearly a century on the Primaris.
As they approached the Librarian’s quarters Bors paused a moment, laying a hand on Nabbuk’s breast. “Tread lightly brother. Curiosity is not a virtue among our brotherhood. We obey, we fight, and we guide our brothers. We do not question. Restrain. Your. Curiosity.” Nabbuk reared back a moment, then bowed his head before turning to the door. They entered Ezekiel’s quarters where Master Cain stood before Ezekiel, Inquisitor Zadok, Inquisitor-Chaplain Habbakuk, and Astropath Granik.
Cain stood in the center of the room, with all but Habbakuk in front of him. The Inquisitor-Chaplain glowered from the corner of the room. Darkened in deep shadow his eyes glowed like baleful coals looking over the assembled leaders. Ezekiel hid deep in his cowl. Bors walked in like a man pushing against a gale, then stepped to the side of the door inches from the wall. Nabbuk followed his lead on the opposite side of the door. Cain looked at Ezekiel a moment, as Ezekiel and Habbakuk glanced at the Lieutenants.
“Brothers. We have been summoned. The leader of the heretics lies under our Chaplains as we extract information to secure this world, but we cannot delay here any longer. Skagerrak will hold without us.” He nodded at the Astropath, her sunken eyes windows into a horror that Nabbuk didn’t care to contemplate. “Granik he brought us a distress call from the planet of Mordia. The Iron Guard calls for aid. Commander Dante has called for loyal servants of the Emperor to aid them, and Supreme Grand Master Azrael has dispatched us. We have already broken orbit, and will enter the Warp shortly. The Navigator tells us a beacon shines on Mordia, which should greatly aid our travels. Shipmaster Peleg tells me we should be there within the week. We shall brief the company now, and then begin hardening their spirits to face the monsters of the immaterium.
The long-awaited day is partially here. We have the codex, I have mine and Lt. Smiley in hand. I also have hellblasters. I’m quite happy.
So the books is… unexceptional. I’m happy with it, don’t get me wrong. There’s some really neat bits to it. The emphasis on plasma is really fun and fluffy and can be super scary. If you save some CP for the end of the game where you can overcharge without losing so much if someone switches it from “burrito” to “self-immolation” you can put out a TON of S8, D3(!) shots with -4 AP
The characters are good, Azrael took a glancing blow from the nerf bat but is still in auto-include territory for competition. Getting Stormravens is SUPER nice. Razorbacks got nerfed pretty hard, understandably so. Stratagems are very good, Contemptor is great, Psychic powers are very fluffy, but it almost feels like you want Zeke AND another psyker to make sure you have the coverage you need.
So we played a battle today. 2x Dark angels at 60 PP. I had an Astartes LT with Combi-Melta, Power Sword, and the shroud relic, Zeke, a Techmarine, 2x 5 tacticals, 2x 5 intercessors, a rhino, a lazorback, a repulsor, and a partridge in a pear tree. Warlord was the LT with the recycle CP Warlord Trait.
Planetstrike was the game mode, so our opponents had 50 points of nids and 50 points of Death Guard. The Nids player picked a gunline with exocrines, a zoanthrope, and a couple hive guard units. No gaunts, stealers, nothing small. Death guard brought a medium unit of poxwalkers, two units of something that could take a shit ton of special weapons, two predator annihilators and a pair of sorcerers.
We actually picked a narrow table edge, and our opponents compressed the board by deploying way far away. I think they should have tried to jam more. Firestorm barrage went off, forcing both opponents to burn 2 CP to push them away from concentrations of troops. Even this didn’t save them as 1 hive guard was killed and another brought down to 1 wound. Everything except my repulsor filled with inceptors showed up on turn one, the Flyer showed up deep behind the nid gunline, spitting out a nasty deathwing blob that proceeded to begin to wreak havoc behind the nid gunline. My rhino / razorback raced up the side, advancing each of the first two turns to get into attack range of the nearest objective.
We misplayed the buildings, giving the defenders a lot of free bunkers, but I’m sure we messed up some things on the attack as well. Anyway their turn one they turned on the terminators with a vengeance but… terminators are tough and only two died to the concentrated fire of the entire enemy team. Our turn two my repulsor showed up and spit out two 5 man intercessor squads which immediately split up, half going to take the objective held by the weakened Hive Guard, half spreading out to guard the flanks of the character blob.
While the Repulsor’s firing was thoroughly disgusting, resulting in only a couple wounds on the predator, the one intercesor squad managed to secure the objective on the hill, killing the final hive guard in melee. Meanwhile the Storm Raven proceeded to lay waste with its heavy guns, and Belial, Asmodai, and the rest of the deathwing proceeded to butcher the nids heavy shooters.
The character blob weathered some more fire, aided by both predators burning down my repulsor in one turn, showing the inexperienced intercessors how tank crews should do it. Some fire from the death guard debouching from the bunker below the hill forced my intercessors to basically exchange fire until they got picked off one by one, while the other squad died shielding the flanks of the character blob from the other bunker. The pox walkers and sorcerers tried to stop my infantry from the midfield objectives, resulting in Zeke being tarpitted after his covering squad died, the LT scoring 6 wounds on the sorcerer and watching 5 of the wounds get saved by Disgustingly resilient…
He ended up on one wound after the melee, killed the LT, then got gunned down by the Rhino, which proceeded to pile into the pox walkers. The Lazorback avenged the Repulsor on one dread, while the Storm Raven killed the other. Belial butchered the remaining enemy sorcerer, while the rest of the character blob secured two of the objectives. The remaining plague marines finally killed the intercessors on the hill objective but the Razorback claimed the center objective, Belial another, and two more by Asmodai and the other terminator squad. We killed both enemy warlords, they killed mine, leaving us with a 14-4 win as Zeke and the Techmarine finished off the last of the poxwalkers, leaving the surviving plague marines hiding in their bunker, surrounded by loyalists bent on purging the field.
Man of the match goes to the intercessors on the hill who soaked up a simply incredible volume of fire before finally going down the second to last turn. Ezekiel was very entertaining battling poxwalkers, denying 0 powers, and only getting off a couple himself, although he did manage to kill 7 poxwalkers in one turn. The Repulsor was the wimp of the match, terrible shooting results and then volleyed off the table. The character blob was amazing, shredding nearly all the tyranids, while my partners apothecary managed to heal 0 wounds and 0 fallen brothers over the course of the battle. Thanks medic!
We’re all still learning with 8th. We all made rules mistakes. Fortunately we are in a really great and supportive community. We made as many mistakes in our opponents favor as our own, and every game we make fewer mistakes. Other than forgetting the psychic phase. Which everyone did at least once.
I’m looking forward to more games, and enjoying the ones I’ve played, I’m excited to see how things go for my Dark Angels, and still hoping we get the Lion back sometime this year. Given some rumors I’ve seen it looks like we might get Khan, which would be a SUPER neat model, and a very interesting choice, Lorgar, who I would LOVE to see, a demon equivalent of Bobby G, and then the Lion towards the end of the year. That would make for a great year for 40k.
Anyway, another victory for the First Legion! Not sure when I’ll get to play again during the holidays but tuesday there should be a lot of painting, writing, and taking pictures to update my progress on the hobby aspect!
The Emperor was clearly surprised by the Horus Heresy. He had JUST entrusted Horus to the role of Warmaster, he had embarked on a massive project that would require nearly all of his attention. His key components for this were Horus, as warmaster, taking the mantle of leadership for his military operations, and Magnus, who would be filling in the Golden Throne running the Astronomicon and helping protect the webway gate beneath the throne.
Let’s rewind a bit. The Emperor struggled greatly to bring the Primarch project to fruition. He simply didn’t have all the tools and knowledge he needed to bring forth 20 beings so mighty as to enable him to carry out his plans for mankind. He simply couldn’t bring forth the generals who would lead, and help create (in every sense) the armies that would carry out this great campaign. So he does what anyone would do when work piles up and you never make any headway. He took a vacation. Specifically he headed to Molech. A minor world with a neat little gate that made for the perfect tourist attraction.
During his visit the Emperor did what any reasonable tourist would do when stressed about work. He made a deal with the Dark Gods he planned to destroy to enable him to finish his work project. What hasn’t been stated, and can only be guessed at, is what exactly the bargain was, specifically, what the Emperor’s payment would be. I’m going to place a bit of a wager here and say that the bargain was twofold. First the creation would be imperfect, the beings so created would be scattered across the galaxy, and only brought back only with great effort and loss. The real doozy though? The second part. I’m going to hazard a guess that the wording was along the lines of “Some” of the primarchs being lost forever. If you look at the abilities of the Primarchs they had a lot of overlap. There’s artisans and generals, tacticians and strategists, empire builders and savage destroyers. The Emperor clearly designed them with losing “some” in mind. During the great Crusade, sometime before Corvus Corax and Alpharius were rescued, two primarchs and their legions disappeared.
The lack of information regarding the pair is so scant as to call it “reading tea leaves” is an insult to the accuracy of tea leaf readers everywhere. I’m choosing here to read a lot into the phrase “The forgotten and the purged” so let’s take a moment and do that. By referring to The forgotten and The purged (emphasis mine) it seems to indicate that one has been forgotten, and one deliberately purged. I think that gives some indication of how they might have been lost. Being Forgotten doesn’t seem a terribly harsh punishment. Harsh, yes, but I think it represents a failure not of judgement, but something in their basic makeup. A mutation so atrocious that they could no longer be tolerated. Sanguinius alludes to this when talking to Horus and stating that if their “Red Thirst” were to become common knowledge, there would be a third missing statue at the walls of Terra.
Purging seems to hint at something greater. Something so far from the orthodoxy that it was hunted down and exterminated with prejudice. Leman Russ talks about Astartes fighting Astartes before the Horus Heresy and I believe he shows more than a little relish in it. This and references to being the “Emperor’s executioners” and his actions in dispatching squads to keep an eye on all the Primarchs during the opening stages of the Horus Heresy (including some that had already turned traitor… oops) hints that he had more than a little involvement in the purging. Purging also implies removing a taint. I think that this taint was the taint of chaos. I believe that one legion went beyond the arcane learning of the Thousand Sons and become so lost to warpcraft that they had to be destroyed as chaos worshippers.
So imagine this, you are the Emperor. You have created your Primarchs, completing the Dark Gods portion of the payment. They were scattered during your creation of them, and during your reclamation of your instruments, “some” were lost, one to incidental corruption, one to more diabolical corruption. Great! Now that that’s all behind us let’s deal with the biggest threat to stability (Orks) and make with the Empire Building! My trusty son Horus will be of great help in seeing that all this comes to fruition!
Interrogator-Chaplain Habbakuk paced his small cell. Behind his quarters stood four Deathwatch members in full battleplate, Thunder hammers charged, storm shields crackling. Two faced Habbakuk, two stood at their backs, facing into the cells. The 5th company patrolled the planet below, each squad scouring sectors long since cleaned of foes, pushing them hard while Habbakuk and Ezekiel struggled to explain the disaster unfolding before them.
“It cannot be coincidence Master Librarian. Someone must have orchestrated this. How else could the Fallen have sent one of their own, one who knows the Company Master sent on this mission here before he was even assigned to command OUR mission. There is treason at work! I must be free to interrogate BOTH of them. You must grant this, yes and bless it!” he growled. His basso voice grinding in the stonework and metal of his quarters on board the Tempus Occidere.
“Must Inquisitor-Chaplain? I was not aware that an Inquisitor-Chaplain could tell the Grand Master Librarian, the Holder of Keys, and the bearer of the Book of Salvation what he must do when it comes to the fallen. I grant that you have your own expertise. In fact I requested you specifically when Grand Master Sapphon presented me with his choices to accompany us. But do not think that my support for you means you can tell me what I must do. Interrogate the Fallen. I will question Master Cain. To date he has done nothing himself warranting suspicion beyond admitting knowing our wayward ‘brother’ and he has been very forthcoming with that knowledge himself. When you are done with your prisoner we will question Cain together. QUESTION I say. Remember, it was only by his actions that this Fallen was captured by us. Develop your questions and we will ask, ASK them.” Ezekiel said. He stood motionless before the door to the quarters, as still as Habbakuk was agitated in his pacing.
Habbakuk glared at his brother before jamming his helmet on sharply turning towards his cells he shouldered the gigantic Deathwing guardian aside as he went to collect his confession. Ezekiel watched him disappear into the soundproofed cell, then advanced himself down to the cell opposite it, where Master Cain waited, still in his robes as Master of the 5th Company, but nevertheless detained.
Master Cain stood in the empty cell. The unadorned room was designed to be uncomfortably small for an astartes so incarcerated. For a Primaris every dimension seemed downright torturous. Master Cain hunched over, the top of his spine pressed to the ceiling, along with his neck and the back of his skull. His arms folded across his chest as if he was totally at ease.
“Grand Master Ezekiel. We have had this discussion many times. I have told you what I know of my cousin. I have told you many things I am not certain of about my cousin. I have told you of my complete lack of knowledge regarding the Fallen. I have expressed my disappointment in so many… indeed practically all of those inducted with me if, IF what you have told me is to be believed. How long must I answer for the crime of capturing this Fallen for you.”
Master Ezekiel sighed. He knew the fairness of Master Cain’s questions. He understood the rage of betrayal hidden so long, exposed so suddenly. He knew equally that he could not free the Company Master to his duties, or even beyond these rooms until Habbakuk, Master Cain, and Ezekiel himself understood what exactly had happened, and how much they should tell the company. Ezekiel reached behind him, grabbing a pair of simple metal stools. Setting them in the room wordlessly they sat, so close their knees nearly rested in the other’s groin in the tiny cell.
“I cannot deny the truth behind your questions Master Cain. Nor will I try to. I can only defend them by saying this: The Unforgiven must protect our secrets, and honor, justice, and sometimes even the lives of our fellow servants of the Emperor must be sacrificed until we are certain these secrets are safe. We do not detain you because you deserve to be detained, but because we must isolate your knowledge from the company until we are certain what of it to share, and what to suppress.”
He paused. Master Cain stared at him for long minutes before nodding fractionally. “Now, and I hope this shall be one of the last, if not the last time. Tell me of your cousin, Japath.”
Master Cain’s eyes rolled back in his head a moment. His head hung briefly and a weariness entered his voice, even as he started repeating the story. “Japath was my father’s sister’s son. He grew up in my own household after his father perished, crushed under a tree during the great clearing to build armaments factories. We grew up from a young age, we had to work hard to help our family survive, even with the improvements the Emperor brought to our world. We were strong children, and faced the ordeal of the orders’ trials with eager anticipation.
When we were old enough we fought to go, my father wished to deny us but he had no right to do so, and we snuck away anyway. We made our way to the Order’s fortress and stood our night of vigil, silent, unmoving, feeding off each other’s strength. When the sun rose only four of more than one hundred boys remained in the field. The rest fell to weakness, of the mind or of the body. We passed through our trials and the screenings, and were about to begin the process of being transformed into astartes. At the end of the trials there were two nights of rest, separated by a day of meditation. During that day Sar Luther came where Japath and I were resting, meditating on the history of the Order. Behind him came a pair of metal men bearing the insignia of the mechanicum. Luther seemed greatly agitated. He questioned us, back and forth, probed our knowledge, tested our will. Japath challenged him. He answered with anger. Sar Luther didn’t respond to his anger, but soon after pointed at me. ‘That on’ he said. ‘That is the one the Lion will wish you to take'” Cain paused. Looked through the open door, at the closed one across the hall. “The Mechanicus adepts moved suddenly, instantly transitioning from still as statues to full speed they grabbed me with immense strength and ushered me out. They had a small ship, no more than a corvette, more like a courier ship, waiting to go. As soon as I was aboard I was placed in stasis. That was the last I saw of Japath.”
Ezekiel sat back, his hood low over his eyes. “Tell me of Japath. Tell me something about him. Not the dry history of how you came to wear the marks of our order. Tell me of your cousin the boy.”
Master Cain cocked his head. “The memories are not clear. The process of becoming a Primaris clouds our youth, much as the ways of becoming Astartes clouds your own.” He paused, weighing his words, gathering glimpses through the clouds of memory. “We had a pet. A bird of some sort. My sister. His sister? One of the other children living with us cared for it. The winter before we tested for the order the bird got out. The cold would kill it overnight. I thought it already dead the cold lay so heavily on us. The whole family huddled together under blankets. Japath couldn’t bear her moaning about the bird. He grabbed me by the collar. Dragged me from the pile. We went out together. We must have searched for hours. We found the cursed beast huddled in a nest of needles. It was shivering, not so lost to the cold that it couldn’t do that at least. Japath, he hated the thing. He thrust it at me, ‘Put it under your shirt Cain. I’m not warming the little shit up'” Cain smiled a moment. Slowly the smile slid to a grimace remembering how lost that boy was to him now. “He turned around looked back to where the snow had obliterated our trail and said ‘I hope you know where home is Cain. I found the bird, you find the house.’ He didn’t realize we’d gone out halfway to the manufactory and come near all the way back. He never could find his way in bad weather. I had us home in less time than it took me to tell you this story. When I handed… her… the bird she gave me all the thanks, and ignored Japath. I think that bothered him. I think it bothered him a lot.”
Ezekiel stayed in place, looking down, keeping the hood over his eyes. He stayed like that for a long time, not trusting his face to keep secret the thoughts in his head. Many stories of the Fallen and their history lay in the heavy book secured to his hip. None of them contained a tale like this. How to use it. How to turn it on Japath. “I think you have clarified things Cain. I must ask your patience a while longer. I will consult with Habbakuk, and with the Lieutenants. I think your little bird might just grant you flight from your prison.”
*NOTE, EARLIER SEGMENTS HAVE BEEN EDITED TO FIT WITH REVEALED DETAILS OF THE DA CODEX, CAIN WAS NEVER IN THE DEATHWING, AND DOES NOT KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FALLEN*
Master Cain stood with the small coterie of commanders. Ezekiel, Habbakuk, Zadok, Bors, and Nabbuk clustered around him at the end of the column of burning vehicles and men. The rest of the company, under the supervision of their sergeants, dealt with the bodies and wargear, always alert for intelligence. Their calm, focused movements kept a wary distance from their quiet commanders.
“The traitor is near. We have his location approximated, and the hunters from the Ravenwing are covering his escape routes. We will soon be ready to strike. Lieutenant Nabbuk, Chaplain Zadok, you will each take a portion of the company to relieve our brothers at their blocking positions. Lieutenant Bors, you will take Jubal, Zebediah, Alameida, and the Librarian, and accompany Master Librarian Ezekiel, he will lead Sergeant Cole’s squad in the final strike on the traitor.”
Ezekiel nodded, his flesh and blood eye flaring, his crude implant sullen and red. “And where will you be Master Cain?”
“I will be with the command group, Chaplain Zadok has far less in the way of troops, so I will keep close to him in case of any emergency, as we discussed.” Bors shot a glance at Habbakuk. Habbakuk radiated a confident satisfaction. His face relaxed, even as his eyes danced over the other Primaris in the group. Cain looked them over, taking in the mood. “Our campaign is nearly finished. Zadok, Nabbuk, you will pit a cork in the bottle, Bors, you will flush it out. If any of you encounter trouble call out. I will bring the command group, and our Repulsor to your aid swiftly. In addition the Ravenwing has their bombers on call at a moment’s notice. Now go, assemble your troops, we leave in 10 minutes.”
“Chaplain Habbakuk, a moment of your time please.” Bors said, the Chaplain nodded, pulling the grizzled Lieutenant clear of the group. Bors took a few moments, voxing commands to assemble his convoy near their position, troops inside and ready to go. “Brother Chaplain, how much does Master Cain know?”
Habbakuk turned a bit, looking at the tall, powerfully built Master of the company. “He knows we face a traitor. He doesn’t know it is our traitor. We must, YOU must drive your force in, open a hole so that Ezekial and my forces can secure him and get him off world before any of our new… brothers are aware who it is we hunt. Stripped of his armor and drugged to his eyebrows we can pass him off as a Night Lord or a Black Legionnaire or whatever we want. You must drive HARD Bors! You must be the spear that pierces their defenses, you must blast a hole wide enough for the extraction team to drive them, and when they are there you must hold back reinforcements until our fallen brother is extracted!”
Bors nodded. He had been there when Astelan was captured, his own time in the Deathwing had been brief, his star ascendant, his own command near. Now things were less certain. Too many lights shining in too many places. He would not fail this charge. he would be the very tip of the spear, he would pierce the shield of the enemy’s defenses and form the wall preventing their reinforcements. He nodded sharply at the ominous Interrogator-Chaplain, even as they donned their helmets. “So be it. For the Lion.”
“For the Lion.”
2 hours later.
“All elements in position. Ravenwing team assembled, Assault team assembled. Lieutenant Bors, the order is yours.” Cain said, voice tense over the vox.
Lieutenant Bors looked over everything carefully, noting the position of the Ravenwing flyers, before calling out “Strike team, move to point Vengeance, for the Lion and the Emperor!”
The Predator spearheading the assault gunned its engine, close behind it Bors and the survivors of squad Jubal raced forward in their Razorback, twin assault cannons whirring as the gunner tested their servos eagerly. The rest of the vehicles raced forward with Sergeant Alameida and his hellblasters bringing up the rear in their massive repulsor. Behind the formation came the black Ravenwing, and Bone White Deathwing vehicles. Ominous shadows carefully pacing the coursing hounds sent to flush out their prey.
The predator’s autocannon barked fire, shells cracking into a Chimera staggering it before a lascannon blast shattered it. Troops spilled from the wreck straight into a stream of assault cannon fire the rest of the vehicles crowded in together, weapons firing feverishly, strobes of las fire, thudding assault cannons and autocannons as Bors directed the assault.
“Spread out, push them from their bunkers! Squads prepare to deploy. Alameida swing to the left to engage those weapon pits! Spread out by the Rock!” he called, voice pained by the close packed icons.
A tremendous concussion stunned the battlefield. Green vehicles rode the rippling ground as an earthshaker cannon fired at point blank range. Another potent blast went off inside Squad Zebediah’s rhino, turning the vehicle and its men into shrapnel and gore. Marines spilled from other damaged and broken vehicles.
“All squads assault into the bunker complex to our left front. Alameida clear those bunkers out! We will take them and open a hole for the hunters!”
“Lieutenant Bors, I am on the way to reinforce your position.” Called out Cain amid the vox-chatter.
Bors lept from his Razorback, ordering Jubal’s men forward with him. The marines went forward, bolters and melta guns firing, grenades arcing out in front of them, scouring the closest bunker and fiery balls of plasma from the hellblasters tore the roof off another. The marines dove into the bunkers, knives and bolt pistols blasting the few men still in them. The crippled Predator continued to fire, guns intimidating but not accurate after so many sensors had been blasted from its noble hull. The rest of the vehicles rested in sullen silence.
“Master Ezekiel, we have cleared the bunkers, if you move quickly you can get through to your prey!” panted Bors. “Chaplain Habbakuk, we have taken heavy losses, we could use your support holding the gap.”
“Negative, Chaplain push on, I will reinforce Bors.” called Cain. Bors looked back in shock. “Master Cain, please hold the perimeter. We can manage this, we cannot risk an escape by our foe.”
“Chaplain Zadok can hold in my absence. We will plug the line behind our hunters.”
Ezekiel called in to Bors on a secure channel. “This is acceptable. Keep him at your position.”
“Very well Master, home on my position, help us take the bunkers to our right.”
Bors set his squads in defensive positions in the bunkers, setting fire on nearby bunkers, suppressing them while the bone and black vehicles raced by. Master Cain’s vehicle came up, belching fire into the already weakened bunkers, finishing their defenders. Cain and his escorts dismounted, some clearing the bunkers, Cain observing the battlefield. The Earthshakers had been destroyed, the thin skinned vehicles less resistant to fire than even the Rhinos and Razorbacks they had ambushed. Ahead the sounds of combat dwindled a bit then flared suddenly.
“There! Heavily armed squads by that bunker!”
“I don’t see them…”
“Fire on the hedgerow”
“Swing to the left!”
“Call in the Black Talons!” so many calls from the normally quiet and reserved Ravenwing and Deathwing squads stunned Bors a moment. There was another crescendo of fire.
“There! Habbakuk to your left!” called Ezekiel, his soft voice suddenly strong, cutting through the chatter.”
“I don’t see him! Where?”
“Behind that Rhino! Ware right!” A loud explosion split the night and Bors could just make out a figure racing to a side path, away from the fight.
Bors suddenly looked further to his right. Cain’s Repulsor was nowhere to be seen. The 100 ton behemoth had glided off down the trail without him noticing.
“Chaplain Habbakuk, Master Cain has pushed forward!”
“Throne! We have to…” his channel cut out as a massive explosion shook the field. Silence reigned for a moment, as if ordinary sound was afraid to show its face following the staggering concussion. A fireball and cloud lifted over the field to Bors front.
“Master Cain! Master Ezekiel! Chaplain Habbakuk, report!” Called out Bors. Already he saw icons for the covering force moving towards him. Then the vox cut in.
“Hold traitor! Stand where you are!” Bors raced down the path towards the icon of the Repulsor tank, just in time to see a burst of gatling cannon fire rip through a knot of figures. One dove aside, rolling and coming to his feet with a speed and grace only possible to an Astartes. His black armor pocked by fire, smeared by smoke, he tried to evade, saw Bors and sprinted down a creek bed just in time to be tackled by the massive form of master Cain. The traitor looked like a teenager in the grasp of the massive Primaris marine. Still he fought back, kicking free a moment and drawing a knife, a wild feint and slash took both eyepieces off Cain’s helmet just as Bors sword crushed the traitor’s power plant deep within his backpack. Slowed by the loss of power to his armor the traitor staggered, face pale, dark hair flailing as he looked for some escape, he sat hard, thin face twisted in a wry grin.
Bors looked on, mind racing. “See Master Cain! The traitors even try to wear our old colors to sow confusion amongst our brothers!” Trying to get the idea planted before Cain could remove his helmet and take in the full scene with his own eyes. Before he could take a step and knock the traitor out cold Cain and the fallen locked eyes. Cain’s widened in shock and horror. The fallen chuckled.
“MASTER Cain? Lapdog to the Emperor after so long? He wheezed under the weight of his broken armor.