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Deathwatch: Murderers in Black (IC Thread)

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Deathwatch: Murderers in Black



Act 1: Lucifer's Chosen.


Scene 1. The Replacements.


Over the course of days and weeks, you each arrive at the looming gates of the Inquisitorial Fortress on Alucar IV.


The Alucar system lies only a handful of light years from the border drawn between the Segmenta Obscurus and Pacificus, located towards the rimward end of that invisible boundary line. Depending on the position and inclination of Alucar IV relative to its weak sun, at some points in the local year the night sky would be filled with stars beyond numbering, and one could gaze coreward into the blazing heart of the great and mighty Imperium. Sadly, this wonderful display will not be visible for many months. When you arrive, those same skies are empty by comparison, with only a few ghostly pinpricks of light piercing the darkness. You instead stare outwards, into the western reaches of the Halo Stars and the infinite abyss beyond.






Alucar IV is a cold, mountainous world, with an atmosphere thin enough to be largely inimical to human life. This is just as the Most Holy Inquisition prefers, enabling their forces in this part of the galaxy to gather or to act without drawing the attention of prying eyes. Their fortress here, known colloquially by its inhabitants as the Bulwark, is a relatively small bastion when compared to the might of Talasa Prime or Bakka. Nevertheless, it is still a fear-inspiring citadel, well defended by massively thick plascrete walls and countless gun emplacements. In orbit, vast hidden minefields protect the approaches to the planet, and servitor-controlled augur and weapons stations carefully vet any ship that dares to continue past the warning buoys that ring the system's Mandeville Point. These outer markers reveal little, except to promise death and eternal damnation to any fools who would enter the Alucar system without permission.






Beneath Alucar IV's rocky surface, the Bulwark extends deep into the planet's crust. There are levels below levels of buried chambers; state rooms, laboratories, barracks, interrogation chambers, and more - all connected by miles of twisting tunnels and shafts. There are few that know the true extent of this stronghold, and fewer still… perhaps none at all… who have accurate knowledge of everything that occurs within its walls. It is quite normal to see Inquisitors or Agents of any of the countless Ordos visiting and using Alucar's facilities, and several thousand support staff, adepts and Inquisitorial troops are typically in residence at any given time.


However, in the late 38th millennium the Bulwark is primarily operated by the Ordo Xenos, and is host to a small Watchstation of their militant arm, the Deathwatch. In recent years the force garrisoned there has consisted of only a single Kill-Team. Nevertheless, these proud few have maintained a careful watch over the local Sectors for any sign of the alien menace; raiders from the deep abyss, foul alien cultures expanding from the Halo Stars, or the omnipresent danger of the filthy Ork. Such xenos aggression has ever been met in kind, with thunder and fury and blood.


Yet when you finally arrive at the halls belonging to Kill-Team Lucifer - or ‘Light-bringer’ in the Low Gothic vernacular - the training ranges, strategium and private cells are cold and dark. They are empty and silent, but for the quiet hands and feet of Deathwatch Chapter serfs in deepest mourning.


For the Astartes brethren of Light-bringer have fallen, one and all.


You still do not know exactly what occurred, though you know it must have been terrible indeed to bring about the deaths of a full unit of Watch veterans. Within the small Chapel attached to the Watchstation an honour scroll, surrounded by burning candles, lists the names of those lost:


Brother Gaius Argo Traxaes of the White Consuls, Watch-Sergeant. 
Brother Jarek, Codicier of the Executioners
Brother Bellephon, Tactical Marine of the Star Phantoms
Brother Ki'shar, Tactical Marine of the Salamanders
Brother Gort, Devastator Marine of the Dark Hunters
Brother Cassius, Tactical Marine of the Celebrants
Brother Vintus, Apothecary of the Eagle Warriors
Brother Incario, Tactical Marine of the Blood Drinkers
Brother Alberon, Techmarine of the Red Scorpions


(You might notice where a tenth line had been written, but the dark red ink has been carefully scraped away from the thick vellum)



Stretched thin, already fighting in thousands of battles and campaigns across the Imperium, the Deathwatch could not quickly provide another squad to replace the loss of the Light-bringers. Therefore, messages were sent to Chapters of the Astartes with forces operating across the western reaches of Humanity's realm, debts of duty and brotherhood and honour called upon, that they should each provide a warrior willing to step forth and swear the Apocryphon Oath, taking the black and shouldering the burden of the Long Vigil.

Thus you are here.





OOC: Welcome to Deathwatch: Murderers in Black!


When you arrive on Alucar IV, Deathwatch Chapter serfs will bring you to the part of the Bulwark that serves as Watchstation and will assign you each to private cells. There are perhaps forty of these cells in total, some of which may still contain the personal effects of the previous Kill-Team Lucifer, but most - including those you are given - are totally empty of any belongings. They are fairly small, but have all that a humble warrior could need; a simple cot large enough to support the weight of an Astartes, weapon stands, etc.


The serfs will also tell you that you have been given access to the main areas of the Watchstation; the Chapel, training ranges and cages, and Refectory. There are also a small Forge (with Armoury) and Apothecarion, but these areas are off-limits - unless one can display the appropriate rites and sigils! (Of course, others could request entrance after these areas have been opened up by someone with the proper authority?) However, the Strategium is currently off-limits to everyone, until such time as you have been properly sworn into the Deathwatch. An Astartes Watch officer is on his way to handle this, along with your orientation, but many of you have arrived on Alucar before he does!


Also you can explore the rest of the Bulwark, where you will be granted access to main ‘public’ areas like the hangars, etc. However, there are numerous parts of the fortress, entire levels in some cases, that are secure and/or belong to the various Ordos, and are therefore sealed and off-limits.


You can even leave the fortress and go back outside - the terrain is much as you'd expect, snow capped mountains, rivers, etc. Air quality is poor enough that mortals could not survive for very long, but Astartes will be ok. There are various animals adapted to the environment - small rodents, large goat-like herbivores and larger, agile, snow leopard-like predators that probably aren't a serious threat to a Marine… unless he was careless…



So, please use your opening posts to introduce us to your character. How do you feel about being here? Maybe tell us how you got here, catching a ride or maybe your own Chapter was close enough to drop you off? Do any of you, either personally or by reputation, know members of the previous Kill-Team Lucifer? What will you do while you wait for the Watch Officer to arrive? Train? Interact? Explore?



NB. Just as a note for your posts and any character interactions, that until you have been sworn in, your Armour (proudly) remains in the colours of your Chapters.



@Trokair: You are a fairly junior Inquisitorial Acolyte of the Ordo Xenos, and have been assigned to act as Liaison-Adjutant to the new Deathwatch Kill-Team. (You might even have been the one to show some of the new recruits to their quarters?) You are relatively new to this role and to Alucar, so you don't really know a great deal more than the Astartes, but if there are things they ask that you would/should know, I can fill you in via PM and you can relay it?




Edited by Lysimachus
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Alda Ulfurbur


The wind was bracing up here, the chill a reminder of home. Not a place she thought she would ever miss. Standing atop one of the lesser towers, she nether the less had a great view of the valley below the fastnesses.


The Bulwark was as unlike her father’s hold as any of the places of the Skylords that she had been, and yet this fortress nestled in the mountains had been a comfort these last few months since her arrival.


Far below, at one of the lesser gates, another of the einherjar had just arrived, soon there be enough of them for the next task. What strange new places would the Skylords path bring to her feet this time?


Placing the oxygen mask back over her face she took a deep breath, and anther, before letting it rest by her side again, a few minutes more to enjoy the view before she would head back inside.

Edited by Trokair
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Azadth Kaedyr:


When his hand slipped, he was seconds from death. The stone precipice was the same unforgiving granite, and now threatened to plunge Azadth to his doom. He swung by the fingertips of his left hand, the fastness promised by the jutting scarp nought but a fool's hope. The pebbles he'd disturbed tumbled down to clatter and snap across the jagged fangs of the lower peak, detonating in sharp plumes of soft, glowing alabaster where they struck the snow clinging to the grey stone.


The tracks of some felid beast lured him here, to a death for the foolish. Azadth smiled at himself, but with a twist of his body, and the power of Astartes muscle, he regained security, right fingertips biting down through bitter chill snow to clamp onto fresh, if a little sharp, rock. The climb was made possible by his ascendence to Sky Warriors, and so, to honour that gift, he pulled himself onto the overhang, through technique rather than raw power, and crawling onto firmer terrain, sat, cross-legged looking over the vista.


The Hour of Fulfilment was not today, then.


The view was reward enough to remove the pressing need to gird his bare feet and hands against the vicious, buffeting wind, distracting him from the large predator that was surely up here with him. His hand slipped to what he jokingly called the combat knife at his waist. A curved leaf blade Kukhurai, but stretched to the proportions of a mortal machete, in truth a bastard of both, with the grace of neither. He slowly drew it, taking into hand, and scraped his own Prophesy Sigil into the rock.


No doubt the wind and snow would wear it away, but that would be long after he was gone, and dust on the breath of time.


Below him lay the bastion the Imperium called Bulwark. A blocky refuge, pugilistic and ugly, carved and quarried from the grander stone around it. Nothing so large housed the Chapter of Endymion. Small forts scattered across terrain as different the Astartes were chosen from, plucked from the desert, jungle, or much like Azadth, the mountains. The tropical heat of Tranquillity III was scoured with altitude, the air fresh and clear - even here where it was thin, putting into the realm of the gods, or adapted flora and fauna. Pretty red guidons fluttered in the breeze, snapping and darting to the whim of fate. Such was life.


Arranging his thick travelling garments, he assumed the posture of wise reception, and contemplated much in this Single Wind, so different than in the Valley of Nine Brothers and Sisters. Sweeping his short hair with fresh caress, it carried his thoughts, although closer to him. Kill Team Light-bringer. Yes. He knew them not, although he was aware of the lineage of the Dark Hunters. The Song of the Khan of Khans echoed in many throats. He did not know if it was a good omen, but anything set to combat the Kalimatakata - The Day of the Dark One, was welcome.


Azadth did not know his part in it, or if he was to stand in that battle at all, but the Sky Lord had guided him here, to take himself from Endymion, to tread the path of the pilgrim, taking ship with known merchantmen first, then Imperial Navy ships. The final leg of the journey was as guest of the Rogue Trader Joachim Garibaldi De Wiart, and his vessel the Charon. The crew had kindly dropped him off in a small town several kilometres from the Bulwark with all his worldly possessions: his knife, a few travel sundries and his emerald green Chapter robes.


He stroked the Mantisae icon, embroidered neatly by his own hand, onto the gold roundel adorning his left pectoral, and stood forcing his gloves and boots on, carefully tensing and stretching to get the blood flowing. He took a rasher of jerk beef to sustain him.


He would introduce himself soon, but the hour had not yet come. When he saw the Panthera, he would descend.

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There was something strangely familiar about the Bulwark,  Amaras pondered as he made his way through the loneliness of the Watch-station.

Long stretches of silent corridors. Galleries of  stained armaplas windows beyond which lay mostly the black of the void.  Occasionally, he’d startle a  mortal serf in plain black robes,  who bowed deeply before scurrying away or quietly waited for him to pass. No one spoke. No noise startled the thin air outside. 


But the  gravity was slightly off  and there was something else…


The Apothecary  smiled thinly as he realized that he was actually missing  the low rumble of active void engines and the muffled groan and creak of a starship hull around him. 

Also, he was missing a task. Wandering the length of  a Chapter Vessel in transit as part of his duties was one thing.

This..lack of focus..this .. leisure… It  was … disorienting. Disquieting, even. 

Amaras felt the tips of his his eye teeth pierce into his lower lip as he heard the muffled steps of another serf already hurrying  away from him somewhere beyond the next intersection. 

For just a fracture of a moment, Amaras entertained the idea of giving in, to give chase.. to hunt


Instead he took two long, deep breaths. The moment passed.  Then Amaras  began retracing his steps to the Apothecarion …



Edited by Xin Ceithan
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Moridyn walked to his cell in the Watchstation. Plain and functional, it was appropriate for one of his station. He placed his bolter and shotgun on the weapons rack, keeping his pistol and knife holstered on his belt. He had few other belongings, as did most Astartes. They were not ones to put stock in possessions or worldly trappings.


He moved swiftly to the chapel and looked at the names written on the scroll. Bellephon. His chapter-brother, a veteran Star Phantom and mighty warrior. There were rites to be done, if possible. Moridyn summoned one of the serfs, "Are there any remains of Brother Bellephon, or any possessions of his in the watchstation?"


He would add Bellephon to the Hourglass of Ashes, interring the brother with other heroes of the chapter.



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The serf bows low and answers without raising his eyes.


“With regret, my Lord, the remains of Kill-Team Lucifer were not recovered. However, I can take you to the cell used by Lord Bellephon. If he left behind any possessions, that is where they would be.”


The serf takes you to Bellephon's quarters. Much like your own, except the weapon stands are empty. However, you notice a flash of silver. A thin steel chain wraps around a bar on one of the stands. Hanging from it is a small honour badge, likewise in steel, in the shape of a skull with a laurel wreath forming a backdrop. On the forehead of the skull, a tiny hourglass has been carefully engraved. The proportions are not quite as the Phantoms own artificers would have created. Perhaps it is a gift, from one of Bellephon's Deathwatch squadmates? In any case, it is all that remains of your brother Astartes.


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I will need to use the forge...


Knowing that as of yet he was not allowed to access the forge or armory, Moridyn took the honour badge and returned to his cell. He would meditate on the honorable death of his battle-brother and steel his mind for the campaign to come. For if an entire killteam had been wiped out, matters were serious and heading towards dire quickly.

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He remembered the intense Las Cannon blasts that had assailed the Kill-Team. 


The Mortal? 


He'd extracted the Mortal from the fire fight and returned to the Watch Keep. 


All was death. 


He knew not, remembered not... 


He hoped that he dreamt in Sus-An. 








Edited by Machine God
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One had been pledged to this place, one had fallen and so one more took his place. Such was the oath of duty sworn to this station.


His predecessor had left little word of his work here amongst the secrets of the Ordo Xenos but it mattered not for the path of the Deathwatch was one of duty and not glory. An honour scroll buried on a frozen world, for the things he had seen it was perhaps more than he might have ultimately expected for his own fate.


The response of the Red Scorpions had been swift. Others would soon arrive and be judged, until then Omoc stalked the hallways and the killing fields beyond committing them to memory.

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The air on this world was cold. That was good: An auspicious greeting as it rushed to meet him from the ramp of the lighter. Thin air, like the death-zone of a mountain peak. Nowhere near as cold as home, but chill enough to promise good snows.

Indeed, as he took his first step onto Alucar IV and took in its vista of white capped mountains, he saw that promise had already been fulfilled. Another good sign. If we was to be apart from his brothers on a remote world, at least it seemed to be a good world.


He gave a curt salute to the shuttle pilot and loped away as the craft lifted off behind him, heading towards the fortress they called the Bulwark. Engine downdraft made the bones and charms strung across his armour rattle on their cords and whipped the braids of his beard.

He had asked to set down in the wilds some distance from the Bulwark, to get a feel for the world and to appraise the place as he approached it. It was an impressive enough sight. If any of Dorn's humourless sons were here, he was certain it was exactly the kind of thing they would appreciate. Maybe some of them were: He had no idea what kind of warriors he would find within. He considered that in the great span of the galaxy there were likely brotherhoods of Astartes yet unknown to the Vlka Fenryka, and that he might be the first son of the Old Ice to ever meet one. He flashed a grin at the thought.


He was a little disappointed, then, when his approach saw him met by mortal men, though he was polite and did not show it. They guided him to the Watchstation, and he wasted no time in selecting a cell. While unadorned, it was simple and functional, which he liked. He stowed his pack, set his helm on the armour stand, and chose a spot on the wall rack for Gylthir. The fit wasn't perfect - the wolf skull strapped to the boltgun was an addition the rack's designers hadn't taken into consideration, and the weapon sat at a slight angle. Perhaps that spoke to the future. It remained to be seen how well Váfri himself would fit in here.


If being greeted by mortals had been a disappointment, though, it was nothing compared to finding out the Watch officer who was supposed to take his oath wasn't even here. He had laughed at that, a sound like thunder being forced into a barrel. What was he supposed to do until this officer arrived?


"I did see the spoor of goats on the way here," he muttered, taking himself off into the corridors of the Watchstation to see if exploring his surroundings might balm his mood. "At least I know there's hunting!"

Edited by Urauloth
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You range across the breadth and depth of the Bulwark, trying to get your bearings. Even for an Astartes, doing so is no mean feat. Tunnels, passages and chambers spread out beneath the fortress like the roots of a vast stone tree.


Areas/things you might see as you explore:


OOC: I don't mind who goes where, and these bits don't require any particular response - unless you want to! - they are just filling in a few details about the Bulwark.




The highest levels consist of a tactical Command Centre, grand staterooms where important visitors can be entertained, and several large hangar bays where transports and fighter craft are maintained. An elevator shaft leads directly from the heart of the Watchstation up into one of these hangars.


Within it you find an Astartes gunship, painted in the black and silver of the Watch. It is smaller than a Thunderhawk, and although it shares many design features with its larger cousin, it is somehow more streamlined and elegant than most Marine landers. A deadly arrowhead. A Stormeagle. Rare now even among the most lauded Chapters, its presence gives proof of just how well the Deathwatch is equipped. A scroll embossed above the heavy front assault ramp proclaims the ancient transport's name. Iron Sabre.




At the lowest level you can reach, you find a cavernous tunnel, a natural fissure into the bowels of Alucar that has been widened by the hand of man. No lumens light the way, but the dark holds no fear for you.


However, as you take a first step into the pitch blackness, something… huge… moves before you, coming closer. A crackle of energy, blue-white electrum, suddenly lights up the path ahead.


A monster blocks the tunnel.


An Astartes warrior, a true giant clad in armour of a variant you do not recognise, stands barring the way ahead. The glow comes from the blade of a long spear that he hefts easily in one hand, reflecting light from his silver warplate. He speaks, his voice deep and sonorous, but surprisingly gentle.


“This way is closed, my brother. Go back to the light above.”




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Posted (edited)



A Deathwatch serf stands at the Apothecarion door, his black robe broken by white stripes down the sleeves and the badge of the Officio Medicae in red over his heart. He carefully examines your credentials, then offers a deep bow of respect and invites you within.


The Apothecarion is much as you would expect, a gothically decorated but brilliantly lit chamber. Much smaller than the facilities that might serve an Astartes Battle Company, it is nevertheless extremely well equipped. There are medical scanners, surgical tools, refrigerated shelves full of a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals, and three wide, heavy operating slabs suitable to bear the weight of an Astartes warrior.


One of these slabs is occupied.


An unarmoured Space Marine lies unmoving. Much of his body appears to have suffered radiation burns of varying degrees, though they seem to spread out from a deeper wound on his mid-torso.


The serf speaks.


“My Lord Apothecary, it is well you are here. This is the only survivor of Lucifer, Brother Asterius of the… of the Watch. He is in Sus-An sleep while his body attempts to repair the damage that was done to him. We think a glancing hit from some sort of high-powered energy weapon? We have done our best to stabilise him, but he has not yet awakened. Perhaps you can do more?”


OOC: No need to roll any dice at this point, as given the high-tech nature of the Apothecarion it would basically be an auto-success, but if you want to include a post regarding using your skills to speed up Asterius’ natural healing abilities and restore him to consciousness, please feel free. Otherwise, we will assume that he is now on the way to regaining consciousness, and @Machine God will be able to join in properly soon!



Edited by Lysimachus
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Gerhardt wrenched his sword Drachenhauer free from the ork’s chest and looked up to take in the vista around him. A tide of black-armoured astartes spread out across the surrounding hills dispatching fallen green-skinned xenos with blade and bolter and flamer. His right eye twitched and a grin of satisfaction started to form, splitting his chiseled features. He wiped his blade clean and reached up with his left hand, the one not chained to a weapon, and removed his ancient Mk II crusader helm, a relic from an age of legends, from the time of the birth of the Imperium, and one in which he took great pride. He cast his gaze about the battlefield and surveyed the scene with his unenhanced vision, breathing in the stench of fyceline and blood and burning xenos flesh.


An army of guardsmen and chapter serfs and servitors and battle-brothers alike were heaping the corpses of the green-skins onto great funerary pyres in the near distance which were being set alight with searing streams of promethium, sending massive columns of oily black smoke into the atmosphere of Berengaard V. The enemy had been thoroughly broken, routed, defeated. Only the scattered remnants of the enemy’s forces remained, fleeing into the dense forests and mountains beyond, but for now the day belonged to the Eternal Crusade and the IVth, Vth, XVIth and XXXIInd companies of the 2192nd Imperial Guard Regiment, known as the Red Hawks.


He heard the crunch of ceramite boots and the sibilant purr of a suit of Mk VI power armour approaching him from behind, and he was greeted by a gruff voice which could only belong to Castellan Siegwald.


“Well met, brother! You reaped a mighty toll amongst the enemy this day! The day is ours!”


Gerhardt bowed his head and saluted his master with a clasped fist across his well maintained Mk IV war-plate. The castellan was in similarly black and white ceramite with his pointed helm secured at his waist, though his pauldrons were ringed in bloody crimson, as were the crusader crosses contained therein, for he was a lord of the sword brethren, the elite of the elite who commanded the fighting companies of the Black Templars. He carried a massive power maul across his shoulders and he clapped Gerhardt on his pauldron with a mighty, open-handed blow which would have broken the shoulder of one of their mortal retainers.


Gerhardt met Siegwald’s gaze, noting how the older astartes’s eyes crinkled around the edges thanks to age and many lifetimes of war and the joy found in the camaraderie of fellow warriors, and returned the smile in kind, his right eye twitching.


“And a fine day it is, my lord! Many fell by my blade, by all our blades. So many… so much blood… The day is ours! The Emperor be praised!”


The older astartes, over a century his senior, studied Gerhardt for a time, his features briefly taking on a strange demeanour. “Yes, brother, praise the Emperor!”


Siegwald’s expression turned serious and when he spoke again, some of the mirth had left his voice.


“Brother, I… we have all made oaths of moment, have we not? Oaths sworn to our brothers to stand by them on the field of battle, to slay the enemies of mankind, to defend the honour of the Eternal Crusade.”


Gerhardt nodded at his master, his smile faltering somewhat, unsure where the conversation was going.


“There comes a time, brother, when we are called upon to honour oaths both ancient and terrible, oaths pledged not to Sigismund or Rogal Dorn, but to another entity entirely. You have been chosen, Brother Gerhardt, for a unique opportunity, a new challenge, and one worthy of your skill.” 


He placed a gauntleted hand upon Gerhardt’s shoulder and continued, “You are to report to Chaplain Cormac. He awaits you aboard the Psalm of War." 




Gerhardt stood aboard the bridge of the tiny frigate Psalm of War, a picket ship from the crusade fleet. It floated alone in a near-deserted stretch of space, a vast gulf of emptiness ringed by the hateful fires of cold and distant stars. He was studying those stars, observing how they moved over and through the shadowy reflection of himself in the void-hardened glass of the viewing portal. A steel service stud now adorned his brow, set into place scant tens of days prior by the only other astartes aboard the vessel. As if on cue, the skeletal visage of Chaplain Cormac materialized behind him, glaring out at the depths of space from over his shoulder.


+The galaxy is a curious thing, is it not, brother?+


The voice of the chaplain was a rasping growl, worn harsh from decades spent bellowing litanies of hatred and warcries across a thousand battlefields, and further distorted by his vox grille. Gerhardt felt the ghost of a smile touch his lips, but he continued to look out of the viewing portal, awaiting Cormac’s sermon.


+It is vast and nebulous and filled with worlds of every composition and size, and it is crawling with life both fair and foul, but to gaze upon its beauty is to stare into a vast emptiness, a great nothingness. Curious, is it not, brother, that a galaxy can be both a great agglomeration of stellar masses and cosmic dust and myriad alien worlds, and yet a great yawning chasm of nothingness when viewed from within? One could travel for millennia between the stars and encounter naught but void on their journey. What is a galaxy then?+


Gerhardt’s brow furrowed at these paradoxes presented to him by the chaplain.


“This galaxy is our birthright – mankind's birthright. It is the domain of the Emperor, for every world touched by the light of the Astronomican is His by right. What more could it be but that?”


+What indeed, brother, what indeed? I have puzzled over this great expanse in all of its infinite vastness and what it means for many decades, and I now see what a galaxy – our galaxy, the Emperor's Galaxy – truly is: it is a crucible for humanity, the ultimate trial by which we might prove ourselves worthy to the Master of Mankind. Its worlds and vile xenos inhabitants test our flesh and faith, but its emptiness, the great gulfs of space between the stars test our minds, our souls. It is the greatest proving ground for the purity of man's holy form and purpose. That, brother, is a galaxy,+ Cormac finished, sounding satisfied with the conclusion of his musings.


Gerhardt continued to stare out at the distant balls of burning nuclear gas, guttering in the endless night, reflecting upon the chaplain's words.


+Come, brother, I have been informed that our guests have arrived. They await us in the hangar bay. It is time.+ 


The younger astartes turned to face the death-masked chaplain, staring into his red eye lenses. Cormac stared back at Gerhardt for a time, studying his charge, the one the crusade fleet would sacrifice to the Inquisition to honour the ancient pact, what some might call a devil's bargain, but honour it they would for the Templars were no fools and this act helped to grease the wheels of the Imperial war-machine.


Cormac had conducted the trials of purity, had personally subjected Gerhardt to privation, led him in prayers, scoured his flesh, removing any last vestiges of doubt that may have clouded his mind or sullied his sense of purpose. During the past 40-odd days of their sojourn out to this deserted gulf of space, he had tested Gerhardt’s faith and resolve as never before, as few other Templars outside of the reclusiam had been tested. The younger astartes was ready in his eyes.


+Let your faith in the Emperor and the Primarch be your anchor, Gerhardt, let your contempt shield your mind, let your hatred guide your hand. You travel now into the heart of darkness, along a path few initiates before you have trod. You will encounter battle-brothers from other chapters whose practices, whose rituals are at odds with ours, whose very existence may seem blasphemous to your sensibilities. Remember that you alone represent the Knights of Dorn while abroad, so conduct yourself accordingly,+ the chaplain paused again studying Gerhardt’s face, the pockmarking of burn marks, the tiny scars left behind from battles decades past, the light of zeal in his grey eyes. +In light of this duty, there is a small matter before you depart…+


Cormac hefted a short length of dense black chain with two manacles attached to either end and presented it to Gerhardt.


+The Forge Master crafted this himself, brother, in honour of your secondment to the Deathwatch. You shoulder a mighty burden for the benefit of us all, and you bring honour to the Eternal Crusade with your tithe of service to the Ordo Xenos. Let this chain be a constant reminder of your vows, and a promise to return to us when your vigil ends.+


Gerhardt took the manacles, the devotion chain as his brethren called such a piece, and examined the fine workmanship. One manacle was smaller and clearly intended to be fitted around the haft of an astartes-sized weapon, whereas the other was an enormous ring of dark steel meant to be mounted onto his gauntlet. The word “INVICTUS" was stamped upon one half of the larger clasp in neat high gothic letters. Gerhardt bowed his head before the chaplain, gladly accepting the gift and secured it to his belt.


+Abhor the witch, purge the mutant, and burn the heretic! Suffer not the xenos to live, Brother Gerhardt! No pity! No remorse! No fear!+




He walked the halls of the watch station alone, exploring what little there was to explore. The Bulwark, they called it, was a brutal and utilitarian fortress hewn and constructed from the surrounding geology, rising up from the rocky surface in defiance of the natural law that otherwise governed this backwater. The nearby countryside was harsh and forbidding with few defining features aside from craggy mountains and sharp ravines shrouded in a thin mist. This was a place built to avoid notice, and yet its mere presence on this desolate world would arouse suspicions and interest. A strange irony.


Chaplain Cormac had affixed a number of purity seals to Gerhardt's armour of crimson wax, each with a half metre of parchment containing oaths of moment, prayers and litanies inscribed in an exacting script in black ink. They fluttered in the still air of the keep as he strode down the dimly lit hallways towards his destination. 


Eventually he reached the chapel, and upon entering he lit tallow candles which he placed at the feet of the effigies of Rogal Dorn and The Emperor, each act accompanied by some minutes of silent prayer. He rose, his prayers complete and walked around the chamber, examining the shrines to the other primarchs and eventually came to the honour scroll listing the names of Kill-Team Lucifer, no doubt his predecessors.


His finger traced down the list coming quickly to that of Brother Jarek of the Executioners. The Executioners were a brother chapter to the Black Templars, fellow sons of Rogal Dorn, and one he had been honoured to serve alongside while still a neophyte. His mood brightened somewhat as he reflected upon that earlier tour of duty alongside those more savage but no less honorable warriors. He re-read the gothic script again, thinking to spend some time in reflection of Brother Jarek’s sacrifice when the meaning of the term “codicier" resolved in his mind. The Templars counted no librarians amongst their number, no psykers, no witches, and never had in their recorded history according to the chapter's serf-savants who maintained such records.


He felt bile rise in his throat. The sudden wave of disgust and disappointment that crashed over him was overpowering, overwhelming and he stormed out of the chapel in a black mood, making for the fortress ramparts. He needed to clear his head and put all thoughts of the fallen Executioner WITCH from his mind.

Edited by Necronaut
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A shallow cave allowed him respite from the biting wind and chill of the white and grey peaks. The Panthera had loped this way, perhaps looking for the same thing, the step heavy, an odd speck of red, showing the beast had fed, but also likely was female, with kits. Azadth's scent would ward it off for now. The temptation to get lost in the hills was strong, as always. Open sky, free breath, and the purity of the soil and rock.


He checked the place for slumbering Ursians. Nothing. A lack of fleas or droppings meant it wasn't a permanent habitat for anything.


A few roots, from a clinging bush were pulled from the wall of the cave, and he cooped a few stones together to make a fire. Striking a flint-rock against the Kukhurai gave sparks for the flame. He blew on it gently, coaxing the heat into something useful. He would heat some stones, place them in his garb to warm the muscles through on the descent. He smiled thinly, remembering one which was a little too hot when he was younger.


The hair never did grow back.


Another rasher of jerk beef supplied him with sustenance, and a small palm cup made from a heavy bolter shell scooped snow to boil water. A small handful of his precious Chai leaves, carefully crushed with the knife hilt, provided the taste of home in the ritual. He must go down before it was dark, into the closeness of the fortress. He carefully sipped, thinking of the recaf elixirs prized by those on Tranquility II, and the different blends on Tranquillity III. Each tasted of the beans grown there, soil soaking up the essence of the place.


Like the people.


The end was a product of all things.


In that thought, a soft step crushed a dollop of melting snow from the overhang, and the tip of a banded tail swished to and fro. Azadth set aside a small piece of his meal. 'I am come to make friends, not to fight,' he whispered.


A low, dismissive growl came from the Panthera, a mutual curiosity satisfied.


Azadth finished the drink, cleaning up with snow-melt and the corner of his robe. He carefully stored the stones. The hours of refreshment had left him, now was time for the mask of war, and the deaths of men. He strode out into the wind, leaping down from ledge to ledge to commune with this cabal of Cousins.


When he turned, the large cat had vanished into the sheer slopes, the small piece of jerk beef gone.

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-for some medical mubojumbo as the Apothecary runs a brief check up on the unconscious Astartes and takes a closer look at the wound (s) - 

Amaras frowned, slightly raising an eyebrow.  

“ You  are saying a glancing hit from an energy weapon caused a warrior of the Adeptus Astartes   into a state of suspended animation? “ 


He continued his Assessment, not bothering to look up. 

“I’d like to see any data you have on this since and including his arrival here”



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So this place had not been left entirely unguarded. He could appreciate the need for such things, a final duty to see that this place falls before whatever secrets it held might be taken and by his armour one who stood apart from the Deathwatch and its ties to the Inquisition.


He would not insult the guardian by demanding explanation. Duty was its own cause.


A return to the surface was met by a distant echo of a lighters decent, the approach of the another sent to replenish the garrison, soon to be sworn in brotherhood against a common foe.

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The medical serf grimaces.


“A heavy weapon… we assume. The rad pattern is non-Imperial, but we know little else. The Apothecarion staff have not been provided with any further information about what happened to Kill-Team Lucifer. Brother Asterius was the only returnee, and we have received no other remains to examine.”


He looks around, then continues more quietly, finishing in a near whisper.


“Rumour says that targets struck full on were… disintegrated.”


He shrugs.


“But that is not my place to say, my Lord Apothecary. Lord Inquisitor Kine will likely be able to give you much more accurate information. I heard that he has ordered a briefing with your new unit as soon as you have been properly sworn in.”



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We are the pilgrims, master, Azadth thought, we shall go, although a little further it may be. Beyond that mountain, capped with snow, or that deep, mysterious and glimmering sea.


It was a saying popular on Tranquillity II. A desert dweller's farewell on setting out in caravan across the wastes. It was not native there, though, he knew not the etymology.


He approached the fortress, thick walls rising as he closed near. The crenelations carried few weapons, but up above was a pacing sentinel in the sable of duty. He matched the fort, blocky, stolid. He pacing as though his footfall had worn sentry-go paths smooth, even if he seemed agitated, staring outwards, perhaps at some imaginary foe he wished to show itself, to materialise that he could wrap his gauntlets about its throat, only to throttle it back out of existence.


Certain vexed megafauna of the Endymion did that. He once watched an Emerald Scorpion pace and poise, after a prey-animal had evaded it. It kept turning, to check and see if its meal had emerged, but it did not, instead slipping through a split bole and running off into the jungle.


Azadth presented himself to the sentries without, the black-iron sentinel vanishing beyond buttresses and submitted to DNA check. The Black-armoured Inquisitorial Stormtroops did all without his even asking.


+Any baggage?+




+Go within, someone will show you to your cell, lord.+


Azadth passed through the first gate, and into the hold.

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…“Rumour says that targets struck full on were… disintegrated.”… 

Which meant that their progrenoid glands and gene seed were likely to have been destroyed utterly as well. And not only that. Amaras remembered the name of Incario, a fellow son of the Chapter of the Blood Drinkers, on the list of the recently fallen Battlebrothers. Which meant that the galaxy had also suffered the loss of another small part of the essence of the Great Angel himself. 

Amaras stopped in his work momentarily, feeling the familiar itching of his canines against his lower lips. Closing his eyes, he offered a prayer to HIM ASCENDANT, HE WHO WAS IN DEATH ETERNAL. Such sacrilege! Such heresy! 


He became aware of the medical serf bobbing nervously beside him and realized he had been begun to growl.  He stopped. 

The Apothecary nodded to the mortal, carefully avoiding showing any teeth. 

“You have done well here. This  Battle-Brother.. Asterius -was it not?….”
He didn’t wait for the serf to reply.

“…Brother Asterius will live to further serve the will of Emperor. And  if  it pleases HIM,   will also be allowed to directly serve as the vessel of his divine retribution on whatever foe inflicted this on him and his companions.” 

The Sanguinary Priest retreated from the recovery slab, turned slightly and held up his hands, fingers outstretched in something like a fluttering Aquila, not unlike  a benediction.


A nearby ServoSkull reacted promptly to the rote, swiftly zooming in before releasing a spray of counterseptics salvest, then sending a series of harsh bluish meshes of light over the outstretched hands of the Apothecary. Amaras and the Serf joined their  voices to the monotonous drone of the ServoSkull as they recited the hymns of cleansing and purification while a countdown of red gothic numbers blinked in  the left orbital cave , each number accompanied by a loud  mechanical click. 

Amaras nodded again, massaging his pale hands.


”So, I am looking forward to hear the reports from the Inquisitor, then. 

But in the meantime, I’d like you to grant access to an area where I can set up some of the Medicae equipment and the servitors that accompanied me.  I  might habe need of  these to … sustain.. certain …requirements necessary to our Chapter during a  resting cycle. “ 



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When the Black Templar reached the fortress ramparts, he tore off his crusader helm and spat bile over the side of the wall, taking some minutes to greedily draw the frigid air in through his nostrils. What a bleak place this was, all sharp rocks and screed and small, gnarled plants. 


Looking down over the wall, he was surprised to see a large figure dressed in a simple traveler's cloak with some manner of golden device upon the chest which he did not recognize. Upon the man's hip was an immense, curved knife, and he was walking the narrow and treacherous path below towards the Bulwark as if this was the exact path the universe had set him upon since his birth, and all of the laws of causality had conspired to deliver him unto this place at this time. Gerhardt watched the man until he passed out of his field of view. 


It is impossible for astartes not to immediately recognize one another, irrespective of their garb or habit. All walked with the same deadly poise, the same aura of barely restrained violence. This must presumably have been another new recruit like himself. Curious that he did not approach dressed in his chapter's colours or war-plate, bereft of all worldly possessions save for his sidearm and cloak, but not all chapters had such resources to spare. 


He drew in a final lungful of the thin air and descended back into the keep, thinking he might seek out this new arrival to take the measure of him, and perhaps of any others he had not yet encountered. 

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Posted (edited)

Scene 2. Shadowhand.


There is a buzz of excitement among the Chapter serfs. When they think no-one is listening, they can be heard whispering about the latest Astartes to arrive at the Bulwark.


“Can you believe he's back? Almost two centuries since he last set foot on Alucar!”


“Before he passed away, old Hestius once told me that when Watch-Sergeant Traxaes first swore the Oath he served under the Shadowhand!”


The man of whom they speak is Aarval Skaayn. Watch-Captain of the Deathwatch. Scion of the Raptors Chapter. Veteran of more than three centuries of service. Hero of countless wars against the hated Xenos. As you can tell, he is something of a legend to the serfs of Alucar.


Darker rumours also imply that the Raptor's service to Humanity has on occasion taken a less honourable path. Aarval ‘Shadowhand’. Kill-Marine. Assassin, spy, saboteur. It is suggested that Skaayn has been responsible for infiltrating xenos warhosts and subtly putting their leaders at one another's throats, or even for making ‘arrangements’ with one xenos force to turn against another that might otherwise have threatened the worlds of Pacificus or Obscurus. However, whatever acts of subversion and deceit he has committed, they have always been to the advancement of Mankind's interests.


If any of you saw him arrive, you would likely not have realised that you were observing a true champion of the Watch. His midnight armour is no more decorated than the lowliest oathsworn brother, his physical stature less than the average Astartes. His weapons, though potent and constructed to the highest standards, lack any of the ornamentation so common to the Artificer's craft. However, if you were watching carefully, what you might have noticed was the cold confidence in his stride, and the ever-moving, utterly black eyes that seem to constantly assess his surroundings.


If Aarval Skaayn is to be the tutor of the new Light-bringers, then you are greatly blessed… and at the same time, perhaps to be pitied in equal measure?


Approximately nine hours after the Watch-Captain’s arrival, you each receive the order to attend him at the Watchstation Strategium. The message further explains that you will also have the opportunity to meet Lord Inquisitor Leopold Kine of the Ordo Xenos, and be given more information about your predecessors and your first mission with the Deathwatch.


When you are finally allowed within the Strategium, three figures await you in the tall, shadowed chamber, backlit by cogitator screens and a large hololithic display. The first is Aarval Skaayn. The second is undoubtedly the Lord Inquisitor Leopold Kine, a white-haired, stern-featured older man in a deep red cloak. Beneath this garment, he wears an ornate suit of power armour, bronze worked with golden inlay, that increases his height by several inches and thereby accentuates the gauntness of his face and body. The third man is younger and comparatively nondescript, though his garb is still finely made. One of the Inquisitor's subordinates?


The Raptor does not speak until all of you have entered. When he does, his voice is a soft rasp, emotionless.


“Not all of the warriors we requested have yet arrived, but we will wait no longer. There are matters to be dealt with. I will stand witness as you swear the Apocryphon Oath. Then we can discuss the events that have brought you here.”



OOC: Ok, so feel free to include in your posts being called to the Strategium, your personal assessments of Skaayn, Kine, or your new squadmates (maybe you've already interacted with some of these?), etc, etc. We won't go word-for-word through the whole process of Aarval leading you through swearing the Apocryphon Oath, but you can include bits of it in your posts if you want and, more importantly, if your character has any particular thoughts or feelings about doing so?


Pics of the three NPCs in the Character Data thread.


@MG: As he has already sworn his oath, we'll assume that Asterius is now starting to wake up but still convalescing in the Apothecarion while the above meeting takes place.


Edited by Lysimachus
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Memory was still a hazy remnant.


He was in the Apothecarion, being attended to by a....






“You have done well here. This  Battle-Brother.. Asterius -was it not?….”

“…Brother Asterius will live to further serve the will of the Emperor."



From the dimness of deep slumber his psyche, gene seed conditioning and elder lore, the threat response aroused him. Hunter against Hunter.


The old Hound...



Slowly he began to awaken.







Edited by Machine God
Tidy up
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The keep's still air carried the weight of centuries. The very stones rang with laughter, sorrow, anticipation. The vibration of the world beyond was quietened, but not silenced, instead the power of humanity, the dress of souls and fortitude of will resided in truth. The grandeur still held, in this place of oaths, not just a bastion but a church. Such places were not needed in the Glimmering Cradle of Endymion. The lustre of the stars gave enough light to let the Sky Khan see the bravery, the savagery of his warriors.


Still, a locus of faith was not solely in one's one breast. The whisper of prayer was well met in sanctuaries such as this, be those prayers for deliverance, intercession, or vengeance, the Sky Khan entertained all in time. He let the Chapter Serf guide him to his cell, content to allow things to unfold, each playing their part in the great tapestry. Misdirection of thoughts let him slope from the jungles and deserts much as the Panthera in the peaks above, to fit him with some civilian modesty.


The Serf stopped before a cell. 'Your billet, lord.'


A small nod, and Azadth stepped in, looked at the wall with the small, barred and glazed window. He knew the answer to the question on his lips, from the orientation of the mountains beyond, the position of the sun and celestial bodies, but still, it never hurt to be sure. 'What direction does this cell face?'


'My lord, North, may it please you.'


'It is perfect. Go now to your other duties.'


Dismissed, the serf bowed and vanished, closing the heavy door - a massively oiled, dark red, waxed timber buttress. It was thick with great adamantine rivets which had been coated with so much aralditum paint, that it likely proved sufficient to withstand attack by itself. The hinges swung smoothly, greased well, to silence. Another good omen. A broken table sat in the cobwebbed corner of the room, the top battered and scorched, marked over and over by rough hands banging down upon it in frustration, the scrapes of meal-knives and heavily pressed styluses.


The cell was so out of the way, located at the northern end of the Watch-Fortress, that it was obvious why a few broken pieces were stored here. The pallet was hardly slept on, dusty with patient waiting for him. The soulless walls would give in to his human spirit, matching his wild heart with this rigid discipline. He drew the Kukhurai and chopped two of the broken legs in half, whittling four pegs. He drove two into the wall with the knife butt, following the line of cement to keep them fairly level, then rested the broken table on them on it's edge.


He repeated the step with the last two pegs, wedging the table into an oblong, wooden plaque across the wall, just below the window, with its majestic mountain vista.


'We are far from home, Agha Kaveh, and yet this new chapter begins with the familiar.'


He smiled, clapped the shavings from his hands and left, heading for the refectory. Since he had not been summoned to duty he would eat first, then to let his feet wander this keep where they willed, letting the strands of fate weave as it would.


OOC: I'm not going to go into the briefing yet, to allow for interaction (if any) and to progress a few Character ideas. We've got a few in-game hours, so I'll make sure to get it all sone over the next few days/posts.



Edited by Mazer Rackham
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Gerhardt strode down through the Bulwark toward the keep’s gatehouse, thinking to catch the new arrival, but when he arrived there was no sign of the cloaked astartes, nor did the guards seem to know where he had gone, merely shrugging and indicating a chapter serf had led him away. The Black Templar frowned and started off once again in the direction of the chapel, thinking perhaps the newcomer would pay his respects to the Emperor and his Primarch, but there was no sign of him there. Another dead end.


Ah, the living quarters. He set off toward the block of cells where he and other astartes before him had been billited, but oddly found no trace of the newest arrival nor of any other battle-brother, save for a few personal effects or keepsakes which had mysteriously turned up. In the near-silence of this wing of the keep, the only noises were the ever-present hum of his armour’s power supply and his own breathing. Farther off, a curious wooden tapping sound caught his ear, and he whirled around in the direction of the noise, hurrying to investigate. 


He found another astartes-sized cell behind a heavy door oddly segregated from the rest on the northern wall of the keep, with a number of dowels driven into one wall, supporting the remains of a table, but no sign of the worker who had presumably just hammered them into place. Various wooden shavings littered the floor, framing some footprints which disappeared back out of the door. 


Gerhardt cocked an eyebrow and looked about, his keen senses picking up the faint padding of feet on stone. He set off once again, growing increasingly irritated by this game of cat and mouse, while also secretly enjoying the thrill of the hunt.


He hurried along through various corridors, thinking he was gaining on the mysterious traveler, the snap and whoosh of the fabric of his traveler’s cloak seeming ever closer to Gerhardt’s senses. As he rounded a corner, some tens of meters ahead, he saw the corner of a green cloak disappear around another bend.


Got you!


He practically ran up to the following junction, thudding along across the flagstones only to find another empty corridor before him. Impossible!


“My lord?"


His head snapped around, his nostrils flared and eyes narrowed. A chapter serf, clad in the black of the Deathwatch looked up at him, a quizzical expression upon his gaunt face.


"You, serf! Tell me, did another battle-brother clad in green robes just pass by here?!”




The small man appeared confused by Gerhardt’s question.


"Answer me! Time is of the essence!”


Gerhardt’s right eye twitched and he appeared half-crazed, a twisted scowl darkening his features. The serf cowered away slightly and replied, "You are the first battle-brother I have seen in the past hour, my lord. Forgive me…”


The slight man bowed and hurried away, not wishing to tempt the Black Templar’s wrath. Gerhardt clenched his gauntlets in vexation, slowly letting out his breath through his teeth. So be it.


He continued his patrol through the bowels of the keep, eventually coming to the armoury. Though he had not been granted access, he poked his head inside past the massive steel door, curious as to what lay inside. Another large portal awaited deeper within, lit by an otherworldly red glow – the forge proper, no doubt – but closer were racks of weapons and crates of equipment, and the quartermaster’s cage, where one might requisition all manner of sundries. And who might be there but the green-robed stranger, patiently talking to a somewhat perplexed looking armouring serf, who seemed not to understand the nature of his request.


Authorizations and rites be damned! He stormed into the armoury and stomped up to unarmoured astartes, barking at him, “You, there, stranger! I have been searching all over this infernal keep for you! I am Gerhardt of the Black Templars."

Edited by Necronaut
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The mailed fist of the Emperor, the sword, a black mace. An Astartes erupted from the portal of the armoury with purposeful clamour.


Azadth ceased his supplication to the armoury serf, with a gentle wave and turned to the warrior who sharply announce himself, not merely introduction, but also challenge. Forming the sign of the Aquila, the Mantis Warrior bowed respectfully, as was custom for those not introduced before. Recovering, he offered an inoffensive smile to convey that no absence or evasion had been contrived.


It merely was.


'Greetings, noble Gerhardt of the Black Templars,' Azadth spoke, amicably. 'I am Azadth, of the Mantis Warriors. What do you wish of me?'


He hadn't been trying to avoid the Black Templar - this was merely the hour ordained they should cross paths. Destiny could not be hurried, nor could it be advanced or delayed by concern.


Such portentous moments arrived exactly when they should.


Edited by Mazer Rackham
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